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Between Birth and Death

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“Okay, so both of the families used completely different security companies, but they both recently had repairs and upgrades made to their systems.” Garcia explained.

Morgan leaned over the intercom, “Let me guess? They used the same repair company?”

“Brawns and brains, you are magnificent, hotstuff. The same guy repaired both of their systems, his name is Arturo Andrews, he’s thirty-two, a freelancer, and he definitely fits the profile. His father died in the military when he was eight, his mother then had a psychotic break. She started homeschooling Arturo and his brother Manny, she never let them go outside, and she kept them on a strict diet. Both kids ran away a dozen times, until CPS got involved when Arturo was twelve and Manny was eight. Once CPS got involved, Arturo’s mother convinced him that if he didn’t kill himself and Manny then they'd be raped, beaten, and killed in foster care. Arturo went through with killing Manny, but the gun jammed when he turned it on himself.”

“To be faced with the choice of killing your younger brother or watching him suffer extensive abuse, would’ve left Arturo with a lot of trauma and guilt.” Rossi interjected.

“Maybe or maybe he thinks he saved Manny, that could be the reason he shows so much rage towards the parents. Garcia, where is Arturo’s mother?” Hotch asked.

“She died in a mental institution three weeks ago.”

“That was his stressor, Garcia, we need you to send us Arturo’s coordinates. He probably has his next family.” Hotch replied.

“Consider it done.”

“Thank you, Garcia.”

“Thanks, babygirl.”

“No thanks needed! Stay safe my crime fighters.”

“Should we wait for backup?” Emily asked, exiting the SUV. 

“No, they’ll be here soon. We don’t know if they’re even still alive.” Morgan replied, right behind Emily. When they reached the door it was cracked, Morgan motioned for Emily to be quiet as they entered the house. Immediately upon entering the house they could smell iron in the air. Blood. They didn’t have to go far to find the mangled bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Demaro. Morgan pressed two fingers to Mr. Demaro, checking for his pulse, while Emily checked the wife. They were gone. 

“No pulse.” Emily whispered, slightly lowering her gun.

“Yeah, but they’re still warm, he could still be here. Let’s check out the rest of the house.” Morgan replied, making his way up the stairs, as quietly as he could. Emily was right behind him, as they made their way to the room that had light leaking from under the door. 

“FBI! Step away from the baby!” Morgan shouted as he threw open the nursery door. 

The unsub had been leaning over the crib, a pillow in hand, but Emily and Morgan could tell that the baby hadn’t been hurt by the screams he emitted. The unsub dropped the pillow, revealing a gun pointed right at the baby. “Go away! I have to save him! This is the only way I can save him!”

Emily stepped forward, lowering her gun. “I’m not going to be able to do that Arturo, you know I can’t let you hurt that baby.”

“I have to save him! I have to save him or they’ll hurt him!”

“Who’s going to hurt him? CPS? Like they were going to hurt Manny?” Emily asked, gently.

The unsub moved closer to the crib, cocking his gun. “Don’t! Don’t talk about Manny, I saved him! I did that.”

“Prentiss…” Morgan warned carefully.

“I got this.” Emily replied, cautiously moving towards the unsub, “Arturo, I know you saved Manny. You saved him from your mother and you saved him from the bad people in foster care. You were a good brother.”

“That’s why I have to save him, I have to!”

“You already saved him. You saved him from his parents, we know they weren’t good people.” Emily replied, hearing hushed whispers, signaling the rest of the team had arrived.

“No! They weren’t! I used their cameras to check in on them! They used to let him cry, all night long. They didn’t love him, they didn’t care about him.” The unsub rambled.

“But now they’re gone! You already saved him, now you need to put the gun down. Come on, you don’t really want to hurt him that way do you?”

“It’s the only way! The only way he’ll be safe. The bad people in foster care will take him and-and hurt him.”

“That’s not true Arturo, he has an aunt in Delaware. She agreed to take him! She’s on her way here right now. She's a good person, I made sure.” Emily lied.

“You’re lying!”

“And why would I do that? Hm, I want the same thing you do, but the only way we can keep this little boy safe is if you put down the gun.” Emily said, gently pushing the gun down, before taking it away from the unsub, and pushing him against the window, putting the handcuffs on him.

Emily passed the unsub to Morgan before immediately picking up and examining the squealing baby. “Shhh, it’s alright. You’re okay, you’re okay.” Emily said, cradling the crying child into her chest. 

“What’s on your mind, Prentiss?” Morgan asked.

“I’m just thinking about Archie Demaro. That little boy is two months old, and he’s already alone in this world.” Emily explained, blinking back tears. “He has no family, they couldn’t even get him into a group home tonight, he has to stay in the hospital until the morning.”

“It’s tough, but the most important thing is that he’s alive and safe.”

“Is it though? Is that enough?” Emily asked, looking out the SUV window, watching the world pass her by in a blur. Before Doyle, knowing that she saved at least one life had been enough, but now she didn’t think it was.

“It’s the job, Prentiss. It’s the job…”