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A Cold Heart Turns

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"What the hell, Hotch? Why would you do this?" Dave bit out as he stormed into Aaron's office early the morning following their case in Florida. It had been rough enough with Erin there, given everything she was going through at the moment and now this. "She's vulnerable right now and you send her to the Gitmo of rehabs?"

Aaron looked up at him from the file he was working on. "Shut the door, David, and sit down." There was real ire in his voice and Dave felt his eyes narrow as he followed orders. "She went to a posh rehab over the summer. Obviously it did nothing for her, as she fell even harder this time. She was drinking on this case, Dave."

"And her daughter may by dying. Allie is looking for a bone marrow donor, as the chemo and radiation is no longer working like her doctors had hoped it would. Erin's not a match for her. I think I would drink, too, if I were her. Imagine yourself in her shoes. What if it were Jack?"

"I wouldn't drink on the job, and neither would you. We're stronger than that."

Dave shook his head, feeling vast disappointment in his friend. "It's not about strength, Hotch. It's about the fact she has no one to turn to here. Everyone, including me, expects too much of her, and she needed an outlet to feel normal." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "You are so hard on her."

"Has she ever been kind to me, to us?" was his short reply. Aaron stared into Dave's eyes, the flinty look causing him to blanch. "She has never done one nice thing for my team."

Dave felt his heart harden towards Hotch in that moment and decided to come at him with all guns blazing. "What about Haley?" It was Aaron's turn to blanch, and he looked away from Dave to stare at a picture on his desk. "That's right, what did she tell you at the end of the inquest?"

Aaron was silent for a few moments and Dave just sat there, staring at him. "That if we ever needed anything, to just ask her."

"And was she being sincere and honest?"

"Yes."

"And during the Senate subcommittee trial, who do you think twisted arms to make sure we were kept whole, that none of us were shipped off to other units, other departments?" He wouldn't look at Dave, as if knowing he were right. "You know, it is a bit hypocritical of you to do this, too."

"Excuse me?" The anger was back in his voice and Dave knew he'd hit a sore spot. "How am I being hypocritical by sending her to get the help she so obviously needs?"

"Dr. Spencer Reid." Dave drew in a deep breath, hating to involve the kid in this. "How often was he high out on the field? How many times did you let him question suspects when he could slip into a hallucination at any time?"

"I hardly think…"

"That that's relevant? Of course it is, Hotch. Allie could die while her mother is locked away for two months. I won't deny that Erin needs help for her drinking problem, but I will never agree to how you've let this go down."

Aaron shook his head. "How has she managed to beguile you so? You used to be on our side."

"There are no sides when it comes to an ill child." Dave looked down at his clenched hands, feeling tears sting his eyes at the thought of his son, born too soon, fated to live a too brief life. "If Alexandra should die before Erin gets out, her grief and sorrow will be on your head. I dearly hope that you can live with that on your heart. I'm sure the ghost of Haley would welcome the company."

It was a low blow and Dave knew it hit the mark by the way Hotch winced. Shaking his head, he stood and stalked from the office, slamming the door behind him. A couple of people looked up at him and Dave quickly made his way to his own office, locking the door behind him. Sinking into his chair, he ran his hand along his goatee. He should never had pressed Morgan this morning when he'd called to say he wasn't coming in. And yet…

A few minutes later, he heard a sharp knocking at his door. "Dave?" came Emily's low voice as she tried to open the door.

"One second." He stood and went to the door, letting her in. "Yes, Emily?"

"What's up?" She took a seat in a chair in front of his desk, waiting expectantly.

Shaking his head, he sat down next to her. "I went off on Hotch for a decision he made last night. It was the wrong one and he can't see that yet."

"Does it have anything to do with Morgan's errand for him? We were going to hang out and then that came up."

He nodded, unwilling to rat Erin out. Rehab was so deeply personal, and she didn't need her dirty laundry aired to all and sundry. "I saw Morgan go out on the errand and pressed him for details. He was all too willing to spill to me." It was a lie, but the only thing he could give her at the moment. Dave stared into her eyes and sighed. "It struck a nerve with me."

"So you took it out on Hotch. That probably wasn't the smartest."

"No one ever said I was quick on the uptake. I can only pray that nothing bad happens in the next sixty days as a result of this decision. She does not deserve to be put through that Hell as well."

"A new girlfriend, Old Man? I thought, what with Carolyn, you'd give it some time."

He smiled a little at her assumption as he shook his head. "No, this person is not linked to me romantically. I respect them a great deal, and wish them nothing but the best. But how are things between you and Morgan? I've noticed things aren't quite as strained between you lately."

"We're friends, for now. He still hasn't been able to trust me fully. Not that I blame them." She stood and smiled gently. "I hope everything else works out for you and your friend."

"I do, too, bella. I do, too." He heard the door open and close, and then he sighed. This was a fine kettle of fish he'd gotten himself into, and yet, he thought, Allie, and by extension, Erin, was worth the concern. He just hope he didn't lose his friendship with Hotch as a result of his actions that day.