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Reflections Part 2

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Dean drove out of civilization and into the hills. It took hours. Aaron should have been cramped in the back of the Impala with Jessica, Hailey and Jack, but he was too preoccupied. Hailey and Jessica curled up next to each other and slept. They had nightmares. Jack slept on Aaron’s lap. He didn’t have nightmares. Aaron was relieved at that but still wondered why not. Eventually, Sam directed Dean to a country road and then to a trail. They knew where they were going, so Aaron wasn’t too surprised when Dean pulled into a driveway.

The house was isolated and ram-shackled, but its foundation was firm and none of the windows were broken. Aaron waited in the car as Dean cleared the house. The Winchesters weren’t expecting any trouble here because Dean went in alone. Sam was alert, but stayed with Hotch and the family. When Dean waved from the front door, Sam collected his books. He glanced at the women. “We’ll be right back for them,” he told Aaron.

Aaron decided that he would wait and keep everyone in view at all times. He wanted assurance that everyone would survive this. Dean was first. He opened the other passenger door and gently pulled Jessica out. The woman never woke up as she was carried inside. Sam was next. Just as easily, he coaxed Hailey out and carried her into the house. Aaron followed with Jack. Sam carried Hailey into the house and through the bedroom door. He laid her on the only bed, full size, right next to her sister. There was still enough room on the bed for Aaron and Jack. Aaron set his son onto the bed in his mother’s arms. He needed to keep watch for a little while.

He returned to the living area and watched Sam and Dean divide books among themselves. Sam found an internet cable, connected it to his laptop and started searching on his computer. Garcia would be faster than him but Aaron wasn’t sure that they’d accept her help. Or if she could find anything online about the reflections. After all, if the supernatural really existed, why hadn’t she found proof of it on the internet before now?

“Anything I can do?”

“Coffee,” Dean grumbled.

Aaron should have felt like a junior agent while he puttered around the dusty kitchen looking for supplies, but he was still on autopilot. Not to mention, Sam and Dean looked like they needed coffee to continue. He found a coffee pot in a cupboard, washed it and then filled it with water. The filters were in a large ziplock bag and the coffee grounds smelled a little stale but Aaron figured that the Winchesters knew what was available in the kitchen better than he did.

He needed to contact Garcia. If Lauren Mackenzie had showed up at her place, the two of them could have some answers. He really wanted an update on how well his BAU team interviewed the Unsub. He wanted to know how they were adapting to the impossible. At the same time, he didn’t want to distract Sam and Dean from their research. The sooner the brothers had a solution, the sooner Aaron and his family could return to their lives.

He knew that they wouldn’t want Aaron calling Garcia, not from their bolt hole and Aaron could see the wisdom in that. Like those in Protective Custody, calling from their location could compromise their security. Aaron would argue for the chance to call from elsewhere but that would take precious time. When Aaron saw Dean stand and stretch and go outside for a quick break, he followed. Now was his chance to explain his request.

Dean was not amused at being ambushed.

He listened to Aaron’s explanations and reasons. Finally, he said, “If I don’t take you to town to call, will you snag one of our phones and call your friend?”

Aaron considered it. “What if my team needs protection too?”

Dean’s jaw tightened. He knew he was being manipulated. Aaron was pleased that such a simple question did manipulate him. It showed that Dean had the correct priorities. “Fine,” he grumbled. “I’ll take you to town, but that means leaving your family here with Sam.” He was trying to make Aaron back down by insinuating that Sam might do something to them.

Aaron just arched a brow. Sam had risked his life to save those women, he wasn’t going to turn around and endanger them.

Dean threw up his hands. “I need to go to town anyway. Sam bought vegetables, crackers, lunchmeat, bread and a flat of bottled water for all our meals. He didn’t buy any chips and pop. I don’t have anything to eat.” He turned and walked to the Impala. Aaron could see the outline of the gun tucked into his jeans.

Aaron hurried to follow and mentally checked his own weapons. He realized that neither man had tried to disarm him. Dean drove straight to town. He pulled into a gas station and in front of a pump. Aaron watched him flip through his wallet for a credit card and remembered the previous conversation.

“Here,” he said. “I’ve got cash to cover it.”

Dean looked mutinous. Why would he re…? Oh, charity.

“Payment for services rendered. You did save my life.”

Dean didn’t argue with that. He grabbed Aaron’s cash and pointed to a payphone at the corner of the lot. “You’ve got ten minutes.”

Aaron nodded. Dean started pumping gas and Aaron walked to the payphone. He made a collect call to Garcia, knowing that she would pick up.

“Garcia, Jack’s sleeping right now, but you gave me your resume on pink, homemade paper. That paper’s not on file,” Aaron said as soon as she answered the phone.

“Good to hear your voice, sir. I have been very worried.”

“Update me. First, what did Lauren Mackenzie say?”

“She’s home, I think and has been dodging all calls from the FBI. I’ve been watching her call log and she won’t accept anything from Quantico or an unfamiliar number. So I haven’t actually gotten to talk to her yet. I did leave her a voicemail and an e-mail with my information so that she can get back to me.”

“Is she calling out?” Was she still alive?

“Looks like it. She’s been making calls to Scotland and accepting calls from there.” Aaron wanted to contact her and learn what information she had gathered.

“And the team?”

“Still trying to interview the Unsub, but he’s being stubborn. He ignores all questions from everybody. We’re having trouble keeping the case quiet. After all, we have five Aaron Hotchners in the morgue and a sixth one in interrogation. That’s the most interesting thing to ever have been said around the water cooler.”

That didn’t surprise Aaron. “How is the team handling it?”

“Reid’s fascinated. The rest are trying to treat it like a case. Strauss is pretty much freaking out, but she’s doing so privately. Rossi’s holding everything steady.”

“Good. How did the arrest happen?”

Penelope Garcia cheerfully explained that she had timed it right. Through the hacked cameras, she managed had to see Aaron Hotchner walk into the director’s office with JJ and no one else did. It sure looked like her boss, but she knew what was really happening. Well, kind of. She sent a text message to Morgan and Prentiss, sending them to the construction site address that the true Hotch had given her. She sent Rossi and Reid to Hotch’s ex-wife’s house. She wasn’t too terribly surprised when Morgan and Prentiss sent her phone pictures of three different dead Aaron Hotchners, but it hurt. Oh, did it hurt to see her boss dead. It hurt more than some of the horrible cases they had worked on. She was expecting the next set of pictures. Rossi and Reid found two more bodies that looked a lot like their friend and unit chief but no evidence of where Hotch, the real Hotch, and his family had escaped to.

As soon as each team found the second dead body, they were calling up Garcia for an explanation. She paced her apartment and put them all on speakerphone and replayed the conversation she had had with Hotch (she had recorded it). She also detailed the clues that she and her boss had pieced together. Then she told them that a Hotch had just arrived in the office and what did they want to do?

“I don’t think that the Hotch in the office is the real one,” Reid finally had announced.

“How do you know,” Rossi asked.

Prentiss answered. “For one, he’s right handed, not left.”

No one could argue. They all had noticed that rumors of Hotch acting completely out of character had been circulating but they hadn’t believed them. None of them had ever imagined anything along these lines. How was this even possible?

Then, they had to contain the scenes and process them. Morgan had Garcia e-mail the Director Strauss and have her keep the ‘Hotchner’ in a meeting until further notice. Then she sent out the coroners to pick up all the bodies. The BAU planned to confront the ‘Hotchner’ with all of his doubles. They had no idea how to create a working profile, but interviewing the ‘Hotchner’ in the FBI was a logical place to start. It was just that he wasn’t cooperating.

Agent Rossi also had asked Morgan and Prentiss if any mirrors in the residential neighborhood had been destroyed. Morgan hadn’t found any. Prentiss found one. Reid shared that every single mirror in Hailey’s house had been shattered. All of the profilers wondered if the Unsubs had done it or Hotch’s mysterious helpers. They wanted to ask Hotch, the real one. Hotch didn’t know exactly why the Winchesters had broken all of the mirrors. The evil twin theory was keeping Reid’s mouth occupied but even he said that this many multiple births the year that Hotchner had been born would have made national news.

Morgan and Prentiss returned to the FBI with the bodies. Rossi and Reid waited until the coroners picked up the bodies at Hailey’s residence and then drove to Hotchner’s house. Again, logic dictated the move. If someone was trying to take over Aaron Hotchner’s life, his home would be a vital place to start. Garcia had talked them through the security system and into the house. There they found evidence of a struggle and two very large pools of drying and sticky blood, one up stairs and one downstairs. Reid guessed that both indicated death of a victim many hours ago. They had called for the forensics team.

They noticed that once again, every mirror in the house had been shattered. Due to the shards of glass in the blood, they could tell that the decimation of the mirrors happened after the two bodies had been killed. Two someones had been presumably killed there. Who would be in Hotch’s house but the Unsubs? Who were the two men who were helping the true Aaron Hotchner? (It was the true Aaron Hotchner, wasn’t it? Garcia, at least, was sure. The rest of the team kept asking for proof.) And how were they helping? How had they gained Hotch’s trust so quickly? Why were they helping? Aaron didn’t want to distract the BAU by telling them what he had learned from the men. They had killed the five fake Aaron Hotchners already collected. The BAU was so confused they didn’t know who counted as the Unsub in this case.

They had way too many questions and not enough answers.

Hotch couldn’t help them much. He wanted Garcia to pass on a message for them to keep trying on the Unsub in custody, to stick to together and not to trust another Aaron Hotchner unless he related some personal event that wasn’t in the files. He relayed the suggestion of staying in someplace safe and lining the windows and doors with salt. They weren’t going to do that until they could get the Unsub in custody talking.

Dean waved from across the parking lot. “Hotch! Time’s up!”

Aaron nodded to indicate that he heard the order. He told Garcia to keep a sharp eye on the cameras at the FBI and to keep the BAU members paired up at all time. Then he hung up on her. She had started to argue that he should bring his family into the FBI for safety, but Aaron knew better.

He paused for a moment with his hand on the public phone and then jogged to where Dean was waiting. He slid into the passenger’s seat and put on his seatbelt as Dean drove back towards the cabin.

“My team hasn’t gotten anything useful out of the Unsub in custody,” Aaron informed him.

Dean grunted. “Then they’re not going to. They either blab from the get go, or they’re silent. The silent ones tend to be more dangerous, but we already knew that we were dealing with some sort of plan. The question is: how long has the plan been in the works?”

Dean wasn’t expecting an answer from Aaron, so he kept his mouth shut. He wished this nightmare was already over.

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Hailey, Jack and Jessica were awake and munching on carrot and celery sticks when Dean and Aaron returned to the cabin. The women and Jack were relieved to see Aaron walk through the door.

Sam and Dean exchanged some silence conversation. Aaron thought he caught enough to know that Sam wasn’t haven’t much luck searching. Aaron hugged his son and offered some physical contact to the women to encourage them. He ushered them to a corner and let them vent some of their worries to him. Aaron listened. He had many similar worries, but he wasn’t letting them overpower him. Jack didn’t care about all of the reflections. As long as he was curled up on his daddy’s lap, he was happy. He even asked to be taken to the bathroom, out of his mother’s sight. Aaron did the duty and wasn’t terribly surprised to find the mirror covered with embroidered linen.

After Jessica and Hailey relaxed in the temporary safety, Aaron retreated to the kitchen for a cup of coffee (Dean had apparently bought new grounds at the gas station) and some sustenance. While searching for more food, Aaron was surprised to find an extensive stash of teas, carefully sealed away from moisture and dust.

“Be careful drinking that,” Dean told him with a smirk.

Aaron turned to look at the younger man.

He explained, “This is a Hunter’s cabin. And teas are not just teas here. Unless there’s a label and that should be safe. Should. What you have in your hand is actually a tea that enhances your vision against the supernatural. Do you really want to see more?”

Aaron considered it. Would it solve the case quicker?

“No,” Dean said.

Aaron raised an eyebrow.

Dean grinned. “It won’t solve the case faster.” The young man was extremely good at reading expressions. “Come to the table when you have your drink. We need to ask you some questions.”

Aaron fixed his coffee and sat at the table. Hailey, Jack and Jessica crowded around.

“Something doesn’t make sense,” Sam muttered.

Aaron didn’t react to the assertion, but Hailey looked flabbergast. “How does any of this make sense?”

Sam ignored the question. It made sense in his world. “These reflections don’t randomly choose their victims. They picked Hotch. Why?”

“You’ve never crossed the supernatural?” Dean confirmed.

Aaron nodded. “True. Not that I know of.”

“We’re not getting anywhere trying to find a reference to reflections like this so we’re trying another angle. You are just an FBI agent,” Sam mused. “Granted a supervisory agent, but still you have limited power. This took a lot of planning. And time. They picked Hotch for a reason.”

Aaron remembered the ‘don’t profile the profiler’ rule with rueful humor. He wasn’t the profiler here: he was the victim (and the Unsub). It was interesting watching these civilians proclaim their profile with confidence. They knew what they were doing. Aaron had to believe it, because he didn’t have any frame of reference for the Unsubs.

“More research?” Dean asked tiredly.

Sam nodded. He didn’t look defeated, but a little challenged at the idea. The expression on his face reminded Aaron of Dr. Spencer Reid. Aaron imagined that Reid had that exact expression on his face at this exact moment, trying to solve the case.

“What can we do?” Jessica asked.

“Can you read Russian?” Dean asked back hopefully.

She shook her head no.

Dean shrugged. “Then sorry. I’ve already gone through all of the English books. We’re waiting for a friend to get back with information. He has a much better library.”

“Can I ask some questions?” Aaron probed.

Sam and Dean shared an amused look. Dean eventually shrugged. “Go for it. We won’t tell you stuff that’s none of your business though.”

“So you travel around the country looking for…” Aaron wasn’t sure how to finish the thought.

Dean grinned and finished the thought for him. “Supernatural ass to kick. We’re damn good at solving cases, too.”

“And you kill the supernatural,” Aaron fished.

Dean shrugged. “As much as you can kill the supernatural. Ghosts, we force to move on, either to heaven or hell. Nearly everything else we need to kill to stop it from killing humans.”

“How do you find your cases?” After all, it wasn’t like they had an office that people could call with their cases. They didn’t have a JJ to evaluate the necessity of their presence.

“Reading the papers, scanning the internet. We look for key words, ‘missing,’ ‘no explanation,’ etcetera,” Sam explained. “Some times, other Hunters pass along tips if we’re closer than they are.”

Aaron carefully broached the subject that had been worrying him. “I imagine that if that’s how you find your… cases, you might end up… Hunting someone that isn’t supernatural. A serial killer that’s entirely human, for example.” Aaron still found it odd that Dean referred to the supernatural hunts as ‘cases,’ but it made easier to relate to him.

“Yeah,” Dean admitted. “Sometimes we run into your cases. Serial killers sometimes do ping our radar.”

“Have you, personally, had contact with a serial killer?” Aaron asked.

“Well, it was a whole family of serial killers. Does that count?”

“Yes. What did you do with them?” Aaron was fully expecting hear ‘put them down like rabid dogs.’ After all, they didn’t have any problem ending the life of the reflections.

“Left them for the police to handle. The father got killed during the case, but neither of us pulled the trigger. I think all three of the Bender kids were alive when the cops finally showed up.”

“The Benders?” he echoed. The name was familiar.

“It was this family, like I said,” Dean started. “Completely crazy and completely not supernatural. They would kidnap people…”

“And then hunt them down,” Aaron remembered the details of the case. Reid had wanted to go interview them and they would, eventually. “Two brothers and the sister survived the raid on their farm.”

Sam snorted. “That wasn’t a raid. That was Dean stumbling around and getting side-lined by a twelve-year old.”

“Hey! You got caught too.”

“You’re not in files.” Aaron spoke to bypass the typical sibling argument.

Sam shrugged. “We kept the sheriff alive. They had gotten her brother. She was appreciative.”

“How did you find out about my situation,” Aaron asked.

Dean dodged the question. “Don’t ask. Seriously, there are some things you just don’t want to know. And Missouri is one of them.”

The phone rang and Sam was relieved when he read the caller ID. “Bobby,” he greeted cheerfully. “What did you find?”

The conversation paused as Sam listened to his contact. Aaron relaxed at the idea that killing humans wasn’t even considered by the brothers. Dean hadn’t expressed any regret at not shooting the children. He knew that they were serial killers but they were humans and as such fell into Aaron’s jurisdiction, not his.

Aaron was slightly alarmed at the information Dean was withholding. Why would Dean not tell them how they had found out about the reflections? What was so special about Missouri? Aaron had just stumbled over the reflections and he knew for a fact that the story had not been written in any newspaper. So how did they just appear when Aaron needed them most? It was suspicious to say the least.

Sam thanked Bobby and hung up the cell phone. “So Bobby said basically what we already knew about the reflections: there should be thirteen of them. They have a hive mind that isn’t quite telepathic among the reflections, but close. They’ve been around for a while. Technically, they are shape shifters so the silver that we’re shooting them with should work. It’ll take a lot of energy to recreate a reflection that we’ve disposed, but once we get the right tats on Hotch, they won’t be able to do that. That’s the good news. The bad is that he has several possibilities that might be most effective, one –actually it’s a pretty elaborate set of tattoo runes- was first used by Samuel Hamilton Walker. It’s probably more than what we need.”

“Who?” Dean asked.

“He was a Texas Ranger and a contemporary of Samuel Colt,” Aaron explained.

The Winchester brothers stared at him. “How did you know that?” Sam asked.

“According to family history, he’s my great, great, great, great grandfather. His son was born out of wedlock to Louisa Hotchner. Is that important?”

Sam and Dean exchanged a long look. They were communicating, rather effectively. Aaron wished he knew what they were obviously discussing. Sam nodded as if a decision was made and then picked up his phone.

Dean settled in front of Aaron. “Samuel Colt is one of the most famous Hunters –supernatural hunters- in the US. Any friend of his with tattoos is bound to be important. Tell me every story you know about Walker and the rest of your family.”

“There’re several stories that are rather… fantastical in nature,” Hotch said. “You don’t think…”

Dean smirked. “I think exactly that. You’re being chased by reflections for a reason. This reason. This isn’t a coincidence. You inherited trouble.” His grin was more sorrowful than reassuring. “Don’t take it personally, it happens quite a bit in this business.”

One didn’t have to be a profiler to sense that Dean was speaking from experience. Aaron knew better than to ask about Dean’s experiences. He didn’t need to know right now. Dean was the investigator and interviewer. He would only tell his experiences if he thought that it would help Aaron tell his ancestor’s stories. Aaron wasn’t a traumatized witness (he was, but he was in control of his reactions). He didn’t need to be coaxed into talking when those words would solve the case.

They needed to focus on the case and keep his family out of danger. The sooner, the better.

Dean, Sam, their friend Bobby, Samuel Colt, the owner of this cabin and whomever in Missouri that had tipped the Winchesters onto the reflections. That was quite the group of people. Aaron was surprised that there was an entire sub-culture devoted to destroying the supernatural. No, he was not surprised about the sub-culture. He was surprised that the things that they hunted were not figments of imagination and one of his own ancestors had been numbered among the more famous ones.

Aaron got comfortable on the kitchen chair and helped Jack climb onto his lap. Then he told the story of Samuel Hamilton Walker and the Black Dogs. It was the only story Aaron remembered that wasn’t too bloody for young ears.

During story time, Sam pulled out the guns to be cleaned and to replace the regular bullets in the handguns with silver. He even set aside the correct caliber of bullets for Aaron to load his guns with silver. Aaron accepted them gratefully.

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Dean eventually talked Aaron into getting the tattoos. Admittedly, the younger man knew all of Aaron’s weak spots. He had two (well, three but the BAU was presumably safe). Seeing as Sam’s gun had damaged the reflections when Aaron’s hadn’t harmed the Unsubs, he had to listen to the Hunter’s advice.

Aaron wasn’t sure whether or not he believed the Winchester’s logic and knowledge of the supernatural. Was it truly possible for a tattoo on Aaron’s body would stop the reflections from creating more? He now believed that the supernatural existed. He had been forced to accept that. He was pretty sure that he didn’t believe that his own ancestor had been a Hunter of the same ilk.

In the end, Aaron agreed to the elaborate runes inked on his skin because the Winchesters promised that it would help keep Jack and Hailey safe. They hadn’t led the Hotchners astray yet.

The Winchesters knew of a tattoo artist that could keep his mouth shut and wouldn’t comment on Aaron’s choice. The artist turned out to be a rather plump female with dyed black hair and multiple silver studs on her face. Her own tattoos resembled Dean’s and not the more common flowers or script. She never offered her name and Hotch never asked.

She inked up Hailey and Jessica first. Their designs were small, simple and placed in the small of their backs. Dean managed to tease the two of them into smiling by telling them that ‘tramps stamps’ were hot.

Aaron’s tattoos were considerably more elaborate. It took hours… and chanting. The chanting left Aaron more on edge than the pain or the need to keep still. Sam and Dean switched back and forth on the chanting. Sam had it memorized. Dean read the foreign language from a scrap of paper. Aaron had plenty of time to consider the fact that he was having the same tattoos applied as his ancestor, Samuel Hamilton Walker. Samuel Walker had used his tattoos to sniff out the supernatural for Samuel Colt to kill. Once the supernatural had realized his ‘powers,’ they had tried to kill him. Walker had retaliated with more tattoos, the updated set specifically for protection. Since the Winchester’s friend Bobby could only give an educated guess as to which tattoos were for protection and which tattoos were for investigation, Aaron was getting the entire set inked on his body. The actually tattoos were tiny symbols. A line of symbols was inked on the inside of each wrist, a full three lines circle on each bicep and then in an irregular grid on Aaron’s back. All of it could be hidden by a long-sleeve collared shirt and all but the wrists would be covered by a t-shirt. A watch could be used to hide one set of wrist tattoos and Dean suggested a bracelet for throwing knives for the other wrist.

Jack sat in a seat of honor and watched the tattoos get applied with great fascination and no horror. This was good, if the Winchesters were correct and this trouble was hereditary, some day he would need to have the same tattoos inked on his skin. With Aaron’s protection being made permanent, Lauren Mackenzie’s protective amulet was entrusted to Jack. They would have to figure out a replacement eventually. According to Sam, the amulet was priceless and assuredly a family heirloom. Aaron really should return it to Lauren Mackenzie at the earliest opportunity and ask her where he could obtain replicas. Though he would (hopefully) never have to explain everything supernatural to the BAU, he could hand them amulets for protection and they would wear them.

Finally, the artist was done. She wrapped up the tattoos on his back so that Aaron could wear a shirt without pain. Sam insisted that he leave the tattoos on his wrists exposed so that the indicator portion of the protection runes could be seen if a reflection was near. Aaron paid the artist with a credit card and breathed a sigh of relief when it wasn’t refused. Sam looked worried that he had just left a paper trail that the reflections could follow.

As they were leaving the tattoo parlor a fight was breaking out among the residents of the street. Aaron lifted his head, trying to find the instigators and the agitators. Why was a riot starting in the middle of the day? Had they been drawn here via e-mail or the internet? At the same time, he ushered Jessica, Hailey and Jack toward the Impala.

Dean shook his head at the mob. “Monsters I get. People are crazy. How sure are we that there’s nothing supernatural over there?”

“Dean,” Sam called from Aaron’s side. “We already have our hands full. And it could be a trap to expose us.”

Dean nodded and covered their retreat. He accepted his brother’s assertion, but he looked pained at the violence.

Aaron had witnessed Dean’s compassion and sense of duty. It was a very beat cop mentality. Somehow, Aaron knew that Dean would have made a wonderful cop, honest, hardworking and knowing the correct time to bend the rules. But Dean would also have burnt out within ten years. He was burning the candle at both ends with his current ‘job’ and didn’t care nor complain. Aaron hadn’t seen a single piece of evidence indicating that Dean was planning for the future. He didn’t seem to plan past the current case, let alone next year. He ate garbage as if he could die tomorrow.

Aaron took the warning to heart.

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Aaron heard Hailey scream. The ‘men’ had been hanging out outside. The women had promised to start dinner and hadn’t wanted anyone underfoot. At the scream, Dean picked up Jack and nearly threw him into the Impala.

“Stay and lock the doors,” he ordered. Jack hurried to obey. “He’ll be safer in there,” Dean told Aaron as they lined up outside the cabin’s door, weapons drawn. Then his eyes dropped to Aaron’s wrist. “Well, at least we know that the indicator runes work.”

Aaron saw the red on his previously black tattoos but shoved it into a corner of his mind. He had a rescue to participate in. Sam nodded and Dean kicked in the door. The two rushed into the living room and cleared it as professionally as the BAU did. The two Hotchner Unsubs trying to break down the bedroom door turned to face the Hunters. Dean shot the one of the right and Sam and Aaron shot the Unsub on the left. The Unsubs fell and didn’t twitch. Silver bullets apparently worked better than regular ones.

Aaron changed his focus to the bathroom as an Unsub charged out of it. Dean shot it without giving it a chance to surrender. It –he- fell and exposed the reinforcements. Aaron Hotchner after Aaron Hotchner was climbing out of the bathroom mirror. They were stepping over Jessica’s bloody body on the floor.

Dean shot the one on the right again. Aaron aimed for the middle one as Sam shot the one on left. This time, Aaron didn’t considering shouting a warning. He fired and all three reflections fell. Dean rushed forward and yanked the linen out from under Jessica’s body. He threw it over the mirror. Sam held a gun at the ready in case another reflection was about to attack his brother. Once the mirror was covered, Sam yelled, “Hailey?”

“Aaron?” She yelled back from behind the bedroom door.

“Only the good one is still alive,” Dean told her. He and Sam were dragging the reflection bodies outdoors.

“What about Jack?” Aaron worried.

“I’ll make sure that he doesn’t see anything,” Sam promised. “You take care of Hailey.”

Aaron knocked on the bedroom door. “Hailey, please let me in. It’s the real me. I… I had a problem naming Jack because every name you suggested had a serial killer connected to it.”

Aaron heard the shift of furniture being moved and was pleased that she had blocked herself in and barricaded the door. Eventually, she cracked the door open and peeked out. Tears were streaming down her face. “Aaron?”

Aaron slid into the bedroom and gathered her into his arms. He held her close to comfort her.

“She only wanted to see how the tattoo looked,” Hailey cried in his arms.

“She took the veil off of the mirror,” Dean growled. He turned on his heel and stalked out the door. He did remember to close the door behind him so that Hailey wouldn’t see the dead Unsubs or her sister.

Aaron held Hailey for a while and let her cry. Her sister was her best friend and she was now dead. “Jack?” she finally asked.

“Sam’s watching him,” Aaron assured her. “He won’t let Jack see anything he shouldn’t.” The two brothers seemed determined to keep Jack’s innocence intact.

Hailey decided to stay where she was for a few more minutes. She burst into a fresh set of tears. Aaron could feel a tear or two slide down his cheeks as well. Jessica had been a wonderful person.

Aaron knew that the Winchester brothers hadn’t meant for it to be a trap, but it worked. The cost had been high, but they had killed five more of the reflection Unsubs. Now the only remaining reflection was at the FBI, unless they had managed to recreate additional Unsubs before Aaron got inked. Now Aaron believed that a tattoo could stop something that climbed through mirrors. One impossibility seemed to match the other.

A knock sounded at the door and Dean walked in. “Pack up,” he ordered. This time, the Hotchner family didn’t hesitate. They knew that their survival truly depended on the Hunters’ knowledge. He and Sam would never order them into danger.

“We need to give Jessica a Hunter’s funeral,” Sam said.

It was in how he said it as he watched Hailey that made Aaron nervous. She was going to hate this.

“What do you mean ‘Hunter’s Funeral’,” Hailey asked carefully.

“We burn our dead,” Dean said bluntly. He didn’t pussyfoot around. Aaron normally appreciated that but knew that Hailey wouldn’t. “You don’t want her to come back as an angry ghost, do you? You want her to have peace?”

Hailey fought between her previous beliefs with their current situation. Aaron had never been more proud than when she straightened her shoulders and answered, “Can I have some time with her body?”

Sam nodded kindly. “It’ll take at least an hour to gather all the wood.” His posture turned firm. “Do not take a lock of her hair or anything that has blood on it. You could chain her to the earth if do that.”

“Trust me,” Dean added. “You do not want to chain her to the earth.”

“You agree to our conditions?” Sam asked.

Hailey nodded.

Dean pointed to a group of trees. “She’s in the shade over there. We wrapped her up, but the blanket’s just folded over her head.”

“Thank you,” Hailey murmured.

Dean reached for her arm. “Hey Hailey?” She turned and Dean suddenly looked awkward, nervous, and vulnerable. “I’m sorry. I… I wish I had been faster.”

“I wish you had been faster too,” Hailey admitted. At Dean’s stricken expression, she reached out to soften the verbal blow. “But I also wish that Jess had taken your warning seriously.”

Dean schooled his expression but Aaron knew just how angry an agent was when a civilian disobeyed direct orders and became a victim or a corpse. Aaron was impressed that Dean didn’t yell. It indicated discipline that Aaron found surprising. “Lesson learned?” Dean asked as mildly as Gideon might have.

Hailey quirked a smile at Aaron and he knew that their thoughts followed similar veins. “Yes.”

Dean turned with Sam. They started heading for the woods. “I’m still going to duck tape the barriers to the mirrors next time. None of you will be able to look in a mirror without using a knife.”

Aaron escorted Hailey to the Winchesters’ car and coax Jack out of it. He walked them up to Jessica’s resting place and kept watch over the cabin and the woods. He watched Hailey and Jack mourn Jessica under the pine trees. Aaron mourned Jessica as well. His sister-in-law had given Hailey support that Aaron couldn’t. She was dependable and wanted the best for Hailey and Jack. She had offered support to Aaron too, speaking words that comforted him in the midst of the divorce. She had understood how much Aaron and Hailey loved each other and somehow she had understood how much the BAU meant to Aaron.

The whiff of smoke had Aaron turning his head to see Dean salting and burning the reflection Unsubs. It was done safely but without ceremony.

Sam, on the other hand, knelt at Hailey’s side. “Ready?” he asked quietly.

“No,” Hailey answered honestly.

Sam smiled sadly. “I am sorry, but we need to do this now. Before the sun comes up and reveals the smoke. Before someone reports Dean’s fire. We don’t know how much time we have.”

Hailey nodded and stepped back. Sam gently picked up Jessica’s body and carried her to a nest of wood. Aaron followed. He could smell the accelerant on the wood. This would be quick.

Dean appeared at Hailey’s side and silently offered her a matchbook.

Hailey was surprised. The surprise changed to determination. She struck the match and tossed the whole matchbook into the woodpile on top of the blanket that covered Jessica. With a quiet ‘whoomp’ the blanket and the dry wood caught fire.

Aaron stood with his family and watched the fire burn. He was vaguely aware of Sam and Dean piling things into the Impala and cleaning up the cabin. Finally, as the sun was rising in the east, the body and the wood were ashes. Sam and Dean poured water over the pile to ensure that there wasn’t a forest fire.

No one spoke as they trudged to the backseat of the Impala.

They had to relocate to a new place now. The reflections had found their safe house and could presumably return anytime they pleased. They just needed to find a mirror close. It was a good thing that the cabin didn’t have any nearby neighbors. Between the mirrors that could carry combatants and the fires the Winchesters had lit, well-meaning neighbors would have caused trouble. Dean picked a motel closer to DC and drove everyone back to the city. He refused to let the Hotchner family sleep in a room by themselves. They needed a guard and Dean was more knowledgeable about reflections than Aaron.

The FBI agent couldn’t argue with that. He offered the last of his cash to pay for their double room once he realized that the Winchesters paid for everything with false credit cards. Dean rolled his eyes at Aaron’s morals but didn’t turn down the cash. He was getting used to accepting Aaron’s money.

Sam slept in the bed nearest the door. He would switch watch with Dean half way through the night. Aaron was assigned the bed further in the room. Hailey and Jack slept in his bed that night. It was only for comfort in the midst of mourning but Aaron cherished the feeling that his family was together, if only for a short while.

Aaron awoke twice during the day. The first time was when Dean checked his tattoos before going to bed and the second time, Sam touched his tattooed wrist with a quiet ‘hmmm.’

“Something wrong?” Aaron asked.

Sam shook his head. “There is a lot more supernatural in DC than we thought, but none of these beings are causing trouble. Yet.”

Aaron was too tired to let the pronouncement bother him.

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There was one last thing to do. Dean drove Aaron and Jack to another random DC gas station and let them call the BAU computer tech. They needed an inside source.

She answered on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Garcia?”

“Agent Hotchner?” she asked back slowly.

Aaron handed the phone to his son. “Hey, Flower Lady. Are you doing good?”

“I’m doing much better now,” Garcia’s smile radiated through the faceless phone line. She was already tracing the call. “Can I talk to your daddy now?”

Jack handed the phone back. Aaron accepted it with a solemn nod. “Garcia. Where’s my thirteenth double?” The only reflection that the Winchester brothers had yet to kill was the one in the custody of the FBI. Aaron mused for a second on the fact that his terminology had changed from that of a FBI BAU agent to that of a Hunter. And it had taken only seventy-two hours.

Garcia muttered at the previously unknown group size. “Thirteen? Really? I’m glad that we haven’t found all the bodies. You –I mean the not You- here is too creepy, but it’s even worse when they’re dead.”

“Garcia,” Aaron warned.

She wasn’t quite done. “Thirteen. Isn’t that just going overboard on the stereotypes? That’s destroying the classics. The Unsub’s here, constantly being monitored and that is a little freaky, if I can say so, sir. The CIA is transporting him out of here. They want to study the live one.”

Aaron barely resisted cursing. He might never be able to return to his life if the CIA were involved. Jack didn’t need to learn the words from him as well as from Dean. Aaron was determined to return to his life and the CIA would not stop him. “When?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Garcia, you must tell me everything.”

Penelope told him.

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Dean looked through the scope at the CIA agents protecting the door. They looked serious and focused. They were trying to find him, or anyone like him, who might mess up their fucked up plans. They wouldn’t see him; Hotch, Sam and Dean had plotted this assassination together. They only wanted the monster dead. Dean couldn’t understand why anyone would want a reflection alive. The monster probably could become any one of the agents, kill the original and disappear. Dean wondered why it hadn’t yet. That would screw with their heads, mirroring the agents themselves… also it would probably make the CIA try harder to get the reflection to obey them. They would probably try to brainwash it. They would be unsuccessful, but they would try. They must have prevented it from getting close to any mirrors. It would have been able to escape if it had access to a mirror. Dean wondered if they knew how close to they had been to losing the reflection.

The CIA didn’t know what they were playing with and Dean wanted them out of his sandbox. Finally, Dean saw the movement that indicated that they were transporting the reflection now. He steadied his breathing and his body stilled. The reflection was cuffed, wrists to ankles like a prisoner to the supermax. Interesting precaution considering the reflection could probably break those chains.

The reflection was looking around. Dean thought that the face was a little too intent for enjoying his last bit of sunlight before being buried in a secret prison. Then the reflection looked at Dean. He shouldn’t have been able to see Dean in his little sniper nest, but he had the same knowing glance that Hotch used.

‘Do it,’ the reflection mouthed.

Dean pulled the trigger without hesitation. The back half of the reflection’s head splattered the CIA agents.

Success.

Dean disassembled the rifle, packed it in the non-descript suitcase and hurried to his escape route. He didn’t want to be caught by the CIA anymore than the reflection had. Dean stepped onto the street, adjusted his dark tie and suit jacket and joined the throngs of business men on their way home from work.

His job was done. He and Sam could pack up.

Hotch wanted to return to the FBI and his civilian life. Anyone else and Dean would have discouraged him, but Hotch was an immoveable force. If anyone could pick up the pieces after being hunted by reflections, it would be Hotch. He would be able to twist the CIA into knots and convince the FBI that they need him to run his team. Hell, he was even mending things with his ex-wife. Haley, Jack and Hotch would re-enter the world and get cozy behind a white picket fence… and salt wards. The Hotchners weren’t stupid; they would take the lessons learned with them.

Dean was a little bummed. Hotch would have made an awesome Hunter. He already had the tattoos for it.

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Look in the mirror. The face that pins you with its double gaze reveals a chastening secret.
Diane Ackerman


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