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18 November 2013 @ 08:14 pm
Fic Post: These Men  
Title: These Men
Author: Montiese
Category: Drama/Family/Romance
Characters: Erin Strauss, Mark Cramer, OMC
Pairing: Erin Strauss/Mark Cramer
Rating: TEEN
Summary: “I can't help myself, you are so damn beautiful. Even the eyes in the back of your head are sexy.”
Author’s Note: This is #20 in The Story of Us series.


Late July, 1996

The plane landed at quarter to three but she couldn’t rush home. She, along with Stephens and Green, drove back to Quantico. There was paperwork to do, and not just for this case. Erin was now the Unit Chief of BAU 1, Crimes against Adults. There were 13 supervisory special agents along with nearly 35 support staff under her charge.

It wasn’t often that this job required her to enter the field; that work was for her agents. But when they got the call and the file from Jackson, Mississippi five days ago Erin got on a plane. In the process of digging and clearing for track housing in Hinds County right outside of the capital of the Magnolia State, eight bodies were found. It was immediately apparent that someone stumbled onto a serial killer’s dumping ground. Only two of the bodies weren’t skeletons.

The women, one black and one white, were placed in the same grave. The M.E. on the scene believed they may have been there 4 to 6 weeks. That meant the killer had balls because everyone in town knew that those fields would soon be the property of a construction company. The BAU was there to work on victimology in the hopes that information about the women would lead to their killer.

Summer in Jackson proved to be a blessing and a curse. Buried bodies took longer to decompose due to lack of exposure to heat and sun. The curse was that brutal heat and sun. Temperatures were averaging 95 degrees with 95% humidity. Several cops and law enforcement officers passed out while digging and sifting at the crime scene.

Heavy afternoon thunderstorms surely washed away valuable evidence they would never find again. The city was stifling to Erin, even worse than DC at this time of year. It seemed that not even air conditioner could break the brick wall of humidity. The air was so thick that you could chew it.

Erin had been to places where people said the weather was like hell on earth. Those people had never been to Jackson, Mississippi. Getting back to 90 in DC was a relief. You could smell the rain in the air though so the relief would short lived.

It was just after eight and Erin packed up to leave. The paperwork was done for the case and passed along to the Section Chief’s office. She wrote reports for the work of her two agents in the field. She reviewed all the cases BAU 1 worked in the last month and signed off on the 30 day office budget. Finally it was time to go, she actually considered letting the voicemail pick up the incoming call. Something in her gut said not to.

“Erin Strauss.”

“Hey kid, its Kirk.”

“I'm sure the phones here are tapped, sir. I would never want any of our conversations to infer favoritism.”

“You sound like a robot.” He smirked. “I'm at home so I'm no longer in the FBI for the evening. Did things go well in Jackson?”

“They went as well as to be expected, which isn’t that well. There were news vans everywhere; this went national quickly. It might even go international. Media oversaturation just lead to distractions because everyone wants to have an answer or blame their shitty ex-husband.

“The good news is that all eight women were positively identified. That made working on the victimology easier but surely not a cakewalk. The bad news is that there's a serial killer in Hinds County. We’ll probably be there again before it’s all over.”

“Is the killer still active?”

“I think so.” Erin replied. “He's going to find a new dumping ground and with construction in the area booming that won't be easy. I think he’ll strike again. None of the bodies at the site had been there longer than a year. It’s definitely an active investigation.”

“Well I called to talk to you about something else.” Kirk said.

“What's wrong?” she asked.

“Why does something have to be wrong?”

“Your tone changed…Kirk, I know your tones.”

“And you scoff at being called a profiler.”

“That’s a made up word for entertainment purposes.” Erin said. “Tell me the other reason you're calling.”

Erin’s stomach dropped and she put her hand on it. That was the feeling she got before something bad happened. Was Kirk sick? Was she losing her job? Was there about to be another huge controversy in the Bureau?

No, he would tell her those things to her face. At least Erin thought he would. She had no idea what was about to happen but it had already been a long week. If it was bad then it was better to tack it on to the end of this week and move on in the next.

“David Rossi is retiring at the end of the year.” Kirk said.

“Retiring? Why would he do something like that?”

“Rumor has it he's about to sign four book deal with Random House and possibly do some television consulting work. There may or may not be FBI procedurals in the works at NBC and Fox.”

“Please tell me that you're joking.” Erin rolled her eyes.

“About which part?”

“Kirk…”

“Its big business right now.” Kirk said. “People are getting quite rich telling our stories.”

“Too bad those people aren't the ones who put their lives on the line daily. I need to go…I haven’t seen my husband or son in a week. It’s time to go home.”

“Are the girls still in New York with your parents?” Kirk asked.

“Yes, and they're surely being spoiled rotten as we speak. One good thing about it is that I won't have to make up any stories about what I was actually doing in Mississippi. They think I'm Wonder Woman.”

“I think of you more as Agent 13. You should get your girls those comics, the they’ll really know what a hero Mommy is.”

“Of course you love comic books.” Erin rolled her eyes again. “I should’ve known. It just adds more layers to your enigmatic persona.”

“I just call them like I see them. We’ll talk more in the morning. Dave’s leaving will put a huge void in the BAU and we can't ignore that.”

“Why do you think it will?” she asked. “Jason Gideon is more than capable of handling it. He's brilliant and his temperament is more suited to the demands. I have no fears about the future. While David wasn’t fond of anyone outshining him, Jason will cultivate and nurture the best and brightest. This may be a good thing.”

“I have faith in Jason.” Kirk said. “I know you two can work well together. It’s still something we have to plan down to the letter for.”

“Absolutely. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Erin.”

“Goodnight, sir.”

***


The rain caught up with her. 15 minutes outside of Quantico and up the triangle, Erin turned on her windshield wipers. Fleetwood Mac played on her CD player; she hummed along to Rhiannon. She couldn’t wait to get home. Erin wanted to take a bath in her own tub and smell her own sheets. She wanted to wrap her arms around her husband and hold her child close.

She wouldn’t be there for another 30 minutes or so. It was Thursday night so the traffic wasn’t too heavy. The weather took even more people off the road. Erin drove a few miles under the speed limit; she hated driving in the pouring rain. It wasn’t as bad as it could be but it was steady and hard.

When she got off at the Tysons Corner exit, Erin cracked her driver’s side window. She grabbed a cigarette from the console and pushed the lighter in beside the CD player. Now Carly Simon sang You Belong to Me. A different feeling in her belly came with this song. She needed to be near Mark; to feel him and hold him.

A year ago Erin wasn’t even sure her marriage would survive. Mark admitted he'd been unfaithful and everything fell apart. What a difference a year made. The relationship was stronger than ever. She knew how strong it would be once she was in his arms again.

Pulling into her driveway, Erin smiled as she looked up at her house. The rain had slowed enough but there was no way to get into the house without getting wet. Her husband and son were in there so she needed to be too. One more cigarette would help leave Agent Strauss at the door. As Erin smoked she thought about David Rossi.

He’d been in the FBI forever. When she was a cadet he was already on his way to legend status. Over the years she’d done her best to avoid him but wasn’t entirely sure why. In the Academy, Erin had a crush on him. That wasn’t saying much since a lot of the female cadets did.

David had charisma. He was brilliant and sexy and full of potent energy. He started the Behavioral Analysis Unit with other like-minded agents. He was a legend. And now he was leaving.

It wasn’t rare; many agents left the Bureau for the private sector. There was more money and surely more time for family and loved ones. Rossi seemed to be leaving for the call of Hollywood. Erin didn’t have much respect for that.

She opened her car door, flicked the cigarette out, and made a mad dash for her porch and front door. Erin unlocked the door, deactivating the alarm when she walked in. She locked up before reactivating it. She left her briefcase by the couch and her heels as well.

Erin started walking up the stairs with her purse on her shoulder. The first thing she heard when she got to the top was her husband singing Rod Stewart. Mark sang a lot, he loved music. They listened to music together. They listened to relax, on long drives, to get sexy…music was a big part of their lives.

May the good Lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness surround you
When you're far from home.
And may you grow to be proud, dignified, and true
And do onto others as you'd have done to you.
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay forever young
Forever young
.

“Hey there.” Erin smiled, standing in the doorway of Ted’s nursery. “Is he alright?”

“Hi Mommy.” Mark smiled too, taking Ted’s hand and making him wave. “He's fine, just a little restless. You're home.”

“I'm home.” She nodded.

“You're too far away from us right now.”

“I'm wet. I need to go and change my clothes.” Erin said.

“I’m gonna put him down in a few minutes.” Mark said.

Erin walked in and gave her husband a kiss. Mark deepened the kiss, caressing her damp face. Making sure not to get too close, Erin kissed Ted’s face. He opened his eyes and looked at her.

“Hello my sweet baby.” She whispered to him. “Did you talk to the girls today, Mark?”

“I read them Peter Pan at bedtime tonight. They both asked when Mommy was coming back from saving people.”

“I’ll call them tomorrow. Am I allowed to come back and hold Ted for a while after I change?”

“Of course you can but just a little while. You know he won't sleep if you're holding him. I understand that you’ve been gone for a while though. I’d feel the same.”

Erin nodded and left the nursery. She went into the bedroom; started taking off her clothes as soon as she crossed the threshold. When Mark walked in she was pulling nightclothes out of the top drawer. Seeing her dressed only in a pair of blue silk panties and a matching silk and lace bra, he got a little hot under the collar. It had been seven long days without her. The garters and black pantyhose only added to his excitement.

“Stop staring at me like that.” Erin said without even looking at him.

“I can't help myself, you are so damn beautiful. Even the eyes in the back of your head are sexy.”

“I'm going to finish undressing in the bathroom.”

“That’s rather cruel.” Mark said.

Erin smiled. She walked over to him and put her arms around him. Mark tried to do the same but she slapped his hand. That made him laugh.

“I’ll change into my nightclothes, cuddle with Ted for a bit, and then you can have all of my attention Senator.”

“I can't wait.” He stroked her hip.

“I bet you can't.”

“Are you alright?”

“What do you mean?” the question gave Erin pause.

“Well you’ve been gone for a week and I know the case wasn’t the easiest. I saw some of the news coverage. I just want to make sure you're doing alright. Tonight isn’t just about getting my rocks off. I'm here for you too, sugar.”

“I'm fine.” She put on a smile. “I'm just glad to be home with my boys. I’ll be right back.”

Mark watched her go into the bathroom and close the door. He'd known Erin for a long time; something was wrong. It might not be something earth shattering but it was something. Her work could be very dark. For six days she’d been away from her family.

Erin was surrounded by dead bodies and sad stories. Women, her age or even younger, were dead. Someone snuffed out their lives and probably enjoyed doing it. He went over to the closet, getting a bag from the top shelf.

It was Mark’s Erin relaxation bag. Inside were things that would always help her end a tough day on the right note. There were candles, her favorite music on CD, bath and massage oils. Mark knew there were strawberries and wine downstairs.

“How does a glass of wine sound?” he asked when she came out of the bathroom. His wife looked calm in a pair of cotton pajama pants and a white tank top. Her blonde hair was pulled up in a messy bun.

“Ohhh, that sounds fantastic.” Erin walked across the room and hugged him. “I'm really glad I'm home. I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too. I love you, Erin.”

“I love you too.” She kissed him. “Just give me a few minutes and I'm yours.”

“Take your time. I'm not going anywhere.”

***

 
 
Where am I?: the lair
Feelings: thoughtfulthoughtful
Background Noise: silence
 
 
 
mnxparis on November 19th, 2013 05:41 am (UTC)
Mark and Erin are back! Yay! I like this one...Erin in the field, Erin at home with Mark, all good. Totally believable that in this universe Erin would find Rossi's retirement to pursue a book deal and the allure of Hollywood to be "selling out." Another great addition to this series!
SSA McGeek: Erin.....mcthinkymcgarrygirl78 on November 19th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
I am so in love with this ship that came out of nowhere and who I never even imagined I would write about. There's something awesome about me being able to write Erin come into her own as a person and a woman and see her make things happen instead of things just happening to her. And I really love Mark because even though he loves Erin madly he's autonomous as well. I love writing her being in the field and I definitely think she looked side-eye at Rossi for why he left the Bureau. I like the idea that she and Gideon worked well together because I dont think it was just unexplained hate between those two characters, something happened and I hope one day to tell that story as well.
mnxparis on November 21st, 2013 04:38 am (UTC)
I agree with your thoughts about this series allows Erin to come into her own. She starts off so confident and so bold and while she doesn't lose that, she does mature over the years and grows into a woman who really owns her life and experiences. I love her relationship with Mark...they seem like partners, equals in a way that is really believable for a DC power couple.

I'm curious about your thoughts on the history between Gideon and Strauss. A possible new series...? :)
SSA McGeek: Erinmcgarrygirl78 on November 21st, 2013 01:59 pm (UTC)
I think it probably started well, she thought he was brilliant and was going to do amazing things, some of which he already had. I believe she probably wanted him to retire after Boston, its hard for any agent to come back from a blow like that. And then when Hotch brought him back and all the silliness started I think she got very angry at Jason because she thought he was smarter than that and it was going to be Hotch who destroyed his legacy. And look how Jason ended up, driving off with his tail between his legs, his sanity in tatters...Erin had it profiled down to a tee. And if she did how come Hotch didnt and I think that's some of the reason that she doesnt care for Aaron.

Erin and Mark are definitely the definition of a DC power couple. But I also think they do well at being a regular couple too, Mom and Dad, and keeping the spark in their relationship. There's nothing false about it, they're not putting on a show for all those people watching. No matter what happens, he wont always be a Senator and she wont always be in the FBI and one day their kids are going to grow up and move away, but they'll always have this relationship that they built from the ground up and has withstood some pretty hard knocks.