Hotch goes to interview Vincent Perotta.
betad by kisaitaluvr
Note: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of its characters. Prequel to Should have Known, After the lights went out, Moving On, Folie a` deux, and Family Matters but could be read alone.
Hotch sighed as he walked through the door and into the interrogation room. He really wasn't looking forward to this. The team was supposed to be on vacation when Strauss had called him, "requesting a favor" as she put it. Apparently Vincent Perotta had finally decided he wanted to talk. There had been attempts to interview him in the past but none of the agents had ever succeeded in getting him to talk and one had even made Perotta annoyed enough to attempt to strangle him. The agent had survived but had suffered permanent damage to the larynx and trachea. Since then the FBI hadn't sent in any other agents and Perotta hadn't volunteered anything. Until a few days ago, that is. On Tuesday Vincent's lawyer had contacted the Bureau and stated that their client would submit to being interviewed, provided that Agent Hotchner was the one that did the custodial. The Bureau was eager to get information out of Perotta since so little was known about him, so while Aaron could have turned the request down, it would have been bad for his record. God knew Strauss was already out to get him; there was no reason to give her an excuse to sabotage his career.
He sat down and glanced around the room. It wasn't unlike the one they had talked in months ago. Small. Squareish. No real windows. A dry erase board was set up against one wall. Thankfully, though, this time there would be a table between them, and boxes full of reminders of Perotta's lengthy career surrounded him. He thought about glancing at the files quickly, but decided against it. He wouldn't have much time before Perotta was led in and the interview started and if Vincent saw Hotch looking through the files he could interpret it as being unprepared, uneasy, or disinterested, none of which were good. So instead Hotch just took out the folder with the most basic information and sat it on the table in front of him.
As it was, it was a good decision because only seconds after he had finished pondering this, the door opened and Vincent was led, grinning, into the room. "HE-llo!," he said, "Long time no see!".
"Vincent," Hotch nodded and opened the file to the first page.
"Restraints still on, right?" one of the guards asked, looking up at Hotch.
"Yeah," he replied, and Vincent frowned.
"Come on, we don't need those! We're just two old friends having a little chat, right?" Hotch just looked at him. "I promise I'll be a good boy!" but Hotch didn't answer and finally Vincent sighed, "Alright. So what you been up to? Staying out of fights?" he asked as the guards went out the door, leaving them alone.
Ignoring him, Hotch looked at the sheet. "So it says here that you were born 1958, Baltimore, Maryland to-"
"We've already been over this!" Perotta interrupted, sounding annoyed. "Do we really need to do it again."
"It's standard procedure to start at the beginning but if you'd rather talk about something else-"
"Alright… what would you want to talk about?" Hotch asked.
"I don't know. Something less boring."
"Okay. Let's fast forward a bit then. What's your very first memory?"
Surprisingly this seemed to calm him down. "My father throwing me down the stairs."He said without expression.
Hotch held back a wince. "How old were you?"
" 'bout three, I guess. Not really sure."
"Did he give a reason?"
"Nope." Vincent raised a brow. "Does it matter?"
"Of course not," Hotch backtracked quickly, " I was just-"
"What's your first memory?"
"I'm not here to talk about me. I'd rather hear about you." Hotch answered, deciding to play to Perotta's ego.
"Awww, you flatter me." His grin widened. "Well, what do you wanna known?"
"Was he drunk when he did this?"
"Yeah. Drinking didn't make much of a difference with him though. He'd beat us either way."
"And by 'us' you mean your mother and you?" Perotta glanced away and then back again and Hotch remonstrated himself for not remembering that Vincent's mother was a sensitive subject.
"What do you think?"
"I didn't mean-"
"Forget about it. " Perotta answered gruffly.
There was silence as Hotch tried to think up something to say that would make things less awkward. "Why don't you tell me about your father's death?" he decided upon. After Vincent had been arrested he hadn't bothered denying the charges. He knew that there was no chance he'd get out after Baker and the tapes had been found. The only thing he hadn't confessed to, was the murder of his father. Since it had already been ruled an accident, it hadn't been reopened. Maybe if he was asked at a time he was already angry at the memory of the abuse, Vincent would open up a bit.
Sure enough, Perotta's expression relaxed into a smirk. "You've got the files right there. Why don't you read about it?"
"I have read about it and I have to say it sounds like a bit too much of a coincidence."
"Yeah. I mean, the man beats you, belittles you, makes your life a living hell and then when the two of you are alone, miles from civilization, he just happens to fall off a cliff?"
The grin widened. "What can I say? Accidents happen." Hotch just looked at him. "Alright," he conceded, "Maybe it wasn't quite as simple as that, but you have to admit, if it hadn't been for that whole Baker thing no one would have ever been the wiser."
"You did a good job at covering it up, Vincent," Aaron gave him. "What I want to know is how you did it."
"Well," Vincent said, tilting his head back. "I guess we could work something out." Hotch narrowed his eyes, questioningly. "If you could give me something, I mean." Perotta explained.
"That would depend on what you want." There were only so many deals Hotch had the authority to make on his own.
"Something about you." Perotta replied without missing a beat and Aaron widened his eyes in surprise. "It wouldn't have to be nearly as monumental as mine." He went on, "But I would like pick the question."
"I don't normally trade personal information with psychopaths." Hotch said uneasily. He knew only too well how dangerous it was to have one inside your head.
Vincent shrugged. "Fine. You're the one that wanted the story; I was just trying to get something in return. But if you don't want to, then I guess we can just discuss what you already know. Which one are you-"
"Wait." Perotta smiled. Damn, He was good. He knew that the FBI wanted as much information as they could glean and also that Hotch was too dedicated to let a murder being written off as an accident even if the victim was a criminal himself. "Okay."
"Yeah. I'll do it."
"Good." Now that he knew that he had Hotch where he wanted him, his voice took on a much more congenial tone. "I'll be generous and go first."
'And why not?' Hotch thought. Perotta knew how honest Aaron was. Even if the conversation wasn't being recorded, he wouldn't be able in good conscience to break the promise. Well, there was no help for it now and Aaron sat back as Perotta began the story.
"Every hunting season Frank took me up to our cabin in the woods for a hunting trip. Sometimes my uncle would come with us and that was always a bit better because Frank would lay off me then, but this time it was just the two of us. So we get up to the place and the first day was just unpacking and settling in and by the time we finished it was night so he didn't really do anything then. Next day though, after we'd gotten back from hunting, he was beat and started on a six pack. I don't remember exactly how much he drank that night or what set him off but it wasn't long before he started cursing at me and throwing punches. Now normally, I'd just take it; figured if he was beating me he'd leave my mom alone. But of course she wasn't there and I don't know maybe I was just sick of it all. Anyway, I started fighting back but of course that was no use; he was a lot bigger than me and fighting back just made him angrier. The rest of that night's all a big blur but I remember getting knocked down and the next thing I knew Frank was shaking me awake. I'd conked out on the floor and it was the next day and time to get up. So we went out into the woods and of course I "got lost" as soon as possible. I just needed to be alone, you know? Anyway, I went to the edge of this cliff I knew of that was nearby. Amazing view. Great place for just thinking. I don't remember what made me think of it; I mean I'd thought of ways to kill him before and sometimes I even planned things out for a certain time but I always chickened out. I guess I was sort of thinking I'd do the same this time but at some point I decided that I couldn't take it anymore; that it was either me or him, and I didn't really want to die. Besides, if it I killed myself that would just leave my mom all alone with him. So eventually I started yelling for him, saying I'd found something he had to see. Eventually, he came, pissed off at being disturbed, but still there. I pointed to the bottom of the ravine and motioned for him to stand next to me, which he did; I don't think he ever suspected a thing. I knew I wasn't strong enough to just push him over, so the moment he was looking down, I hit him as hard as I could. He didn't fall over right away. The force of the blow made him turn around and face me. He didn't look angry or hurt, just surprised; I'm not sure he really knew what had happened, but I did and that was all that mattered. He was wobbling back and forth, like he was trying to keep his balance; all it took was another tap and then he was gone. I watched him fall all the way down, saw his head crack open. I stood there looking at him for I don't know how long. I didn't feel sorry or anything but I was a bit worried that someone might find out and I didn't know what to do. Finally, I decided to walk back to the cabin and sleep on it. When I woke up, I drove back into town, told everyone that my father hadn't come home last night and that I couldn't find him. They started up a search party and I made a big show of wanting to join in, but of course they made me go home to my mom which I was fine with. It was the second day that they found the body and of course they thought he'd just had one too many and fell over the cliff and I was perfectly happy to let them think that."
"And no one ever suspected anything?" Hotch finally interjected.
Perotta glanced away."Nope. Well, I think my mother might have but she never said anything and neither did I. I would have if she'd asked but I think she preferred not knowing and I can't blame her. But anyway, it's your turn." He looked up again, his expression changing to a smirk.
"What do you want to know?" Hotch asked, unhappily. The more information Perotta had, the more he could get inside Aaron's head.
"Hmmm…" Perotta asked, apparently thinking, although he'd probably decided long ago. "Let's stick on this topic, shall we? I'm curious, what did your father actually do to you? That's not the question, so you don't have to answer it but you might as well. I've already got some idea."
Hotch hesitated a moment, then, "Fair enough." It wasn't like it was anything Perotta couldn't guess at anyway. "He wasn't actually my father; my real father died of cancer when I was young. My mother remarried within a year and at first the guy was fine, but then he started coming home drunk and when he drank he got violent."
"And your mother?"
"Is that the question?" Hotch didn't want to volunteer too much.
Perotta hesitated and Hotch could see the wheels turning. Finally he nodded.
"Well, she didn't have the excuse of your mother. She was a big woman, strong; he knew she could defend herself so he didn't go after her, and my brother was just a baby at the time they got married so of course he couldn't hit him or else people would notice, so he focused on me."
"And she didn't do anything to stop him?"
"No. She just stood back and watched. As long as she wasn't getting hurt she didn't care much."
Vincent whistled and Hotch could see a flash of anger in his eyes before his normal mask of impassivity went back into place. "And what did you think of that?"
"I was angry at her, of course. I mean she could have protected me and chose not to. It's different with your mother; I can see why you never hate her. She was just as much at risk as you were but mine, she could have at least tried to help me; it's not like she couldn't have fought back if he turned on her. But she didn't even report him to the police. She was too concerned with maintaining a happy marriage."
"What, did you hate her?"
At this point Aaron realized he'd let his emotions cause him to say a bit more than he'd intended. "No," He replied more quietly. "He was only around for about six years and then he died. Look, we're running out of time. " This wasn't entirely true but he needed to get out of there; it was getting uncomfortably hot and his chest was feeling tight at the memories. "Is there anything else I should know?"
"Nope." Perotta replied, looking satisfied. "Everything important is in the files. But we should do this again sometime. Never a bad idea to go over old material."
"Right." Hotch said getting up and knocking on the door. "Well, like I said I need to go." He could hear the guards approaching. The door opened and Hotch was about to step out when Perotta's voice stopped him.
"Just out of curiosity, how did he die?"
"Yeah, that's who we were talking about, right?"
Choosing his words carefully, Hotch paused before answering, "The death certificate says he died of a heart attack." , before continuing out the door.