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Seventy Five Thousand

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When Spencer Holmes awoke on Monday, December the ninth it was to his roommate’s smiling face and a welsh accent. As per usual. And given all of the unpleasant ways that Spencer had been awoken, this was really one of the more pleasant ones.

Mihangel (“It’s Mick, goddammit!”) Rawson was rather quite tall, with dark brown hair that was cut in a slightly long, shaggy parody of a military cut. Across his jaw, a tiny bit of stubble had begun to grow, though Spencer knew that it would soon be shaved away. The young man had defined features, with a slightly crooked smile and eyes set carefully on his face. His nose was symmetrical, and if one were to align Da Vinci’s ‘mask’ of perfection, Mick’s face would fit into it rather well. A wicked grin slashed across his face as he stared down at Spencer.

“Rise and shine, mate,” he chirped in thick, welsh accent. Years spent around those with less harsh accents had not yet soothed the thick tones of his voice. “Your alarm went off, couldn’t stand it.”

“So you woke me up rather than shutting it off?” Spencer griped, sitting up and rubbing a hand into his eye.

Similarly to Mick, Spencer was quite a tall man standing at an easy six feet, all long limbs and lithe muscles. Despite his height, he looked small and perhaps weaker than Mick even though Spencer was, in reality, a relatively powerful young man. He had auburn coloured hair, hanging around his face and that was about four inches long, from the root. Like Mick, he was creamy and pale in colouration, Spencer more so than Mick. He had hazel eyes that were flecked with darkness, and like Mick he was relatively symmetrical. His hair stuck up at odd angles from sleep.

“You honestly couldn’t just turn off my alarm?” His voice held hints of a British accent, some dynamic mix of British and American.

“No,” Mick said promptly.

There was an irritated eye roll. “Then why isn’t it going off?”

“It fell asleep. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Spencer repeated.

“Yeah. Your alarm went off, you didn’t wake up so I decided to wake you up for the alarm. Look at me, the illustrious Sir Mick being all chivalrous to the helpless princess.”

Spencer blinked at him with large eyes. “Then why does my clock say that it’s only five twenty-six. My alarm doesn’t go off for another four minutes.”

The scene was, in all honesty, quite amusing. Spencer half sat half lay in large pile of pillows, with one of those overly fuzzy, overly warm blankets spread over himself. The soft blanket had fallen down once he started to sit up, and the young man was clothed in a loose T-shirt with every time lord ever stretching across a black background. At the end, the eleventh doctor looked back at the other doctors, almost amused by their presence. The fourth doctor looked confused, his mouth slightly open while the only one who looked truly content with the situation was the ninth doctor, numbers two and five looked horrified by the happenings. Mick sat at the foot of Spencer’s (bed?...) with a smile stretching across his features so that he looked obscenely happy. Like Spencer, Mick was dressed in a T-shirt that was clearly part of his pyjamas, though his read, in large letters, MY SISTER WENT TO STONEHENGE AND ALL SHE GOT ME WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT. Beneath the letters were a large cartoon impression of the famous land mark in Wiltshire, England. The two roommates glared at each other, competing for who would win a rather intense staring contest.

Thirty seconds in, Spencer blinked and looked away, his eyes watering. “Dammit Mick,” he grumbled, throwing off his blanket to reveal flannel pyjama bottoms. “You know that’s not fair you’re a bleeding sniper!”

Mick scoffed. “It doesn’t matter that it’s not fair. I won.”

Spencer snarled back at Mick, flopping onto his bed and crumpling there. “You’re not getting me up for another…” He glanced at the clock on his bedside table. Though in all honesty, it was hardly a bedside table given that Spencer didn’t so much have a bed as a large pile of pillows. A pillow side table. “Two minutes.” Eyes shut, Spencer returned to sleep leaving his roommate to glare at his now sleeping form.

On the pillow side table, Spencer’s phone rang and the young man let out a groaning scream. “It has not been two bleeding minutes!”

Mick laughed. “It’s been a minute and twenty-one seconds,” he replied promptly. “And that’s your phone ringing because someone’s calling you.”

There was a snarl and then Spencer pulled his phone open, bringing it to his ear. “Dr. Holmes.”

“May I speak to Spencer Taylor?”

Spencer frowned. “This is the work phone of Dr. Spencer Holmes. There is no Spencer… Taylor?... Here. I’m afraid you have the wrong number.”

At the other end, the person seemed almost to frown. “No. This is the number of Spencer Taylor.”

“I’m really sorry, sir, but you have the wrong number.” Spencer hung up and groaned, flopping back onto his bed.

Mick stared at his roommate with large, curious eyes. “What was that about?”

“Some idiot with the wrong number. It’s nothing.”

“He said Taylor, right?” Spencer nodded in reply, head bobbing up before back down once or twice, motions slow. “Don’t profile me, Spence.”

The young man shrugged. “In this situation profiling is useless. I already know you well enough to know what you’re thinking ninety-five percent of the time. Besides, Mick, Taylor is a very common last name in the UK. Some hundred thousand people in the UK have that last name, and seven times that amount in the United States. The man probably got confused. There are probably some ten thousand people named Spencer Taylor, one of them is bound to have a similar number to me.” Mick frowned at Spencer with a certain look. “I’ll worry when someone else gets a phone call, but for now I’ll just put up a mention of a potential breach on the site.”

A slow smile crept across Mick’s face. “Don’t you find it odd that a government agency has a website in the dark net?”

Spencer shook his head, giving a slight shrug. “Never. If criminals use children, we use children. If criminals use the dark net, why shouldn’t we use the dark net?”

“It just feels funny.”

There was a scoff from Spencer, who had hauled himself from his pile of pillows to a desktop computer situated in the corner of the room. It was a large, clunky computer that looked to weigh about twenty pounds. Spencer sat into a comfortable, spinning office chair and made a loop before tapping a password into the computer’s lock screen. The next screen was merely the desktop, and from there he opened a program and a browser popped up. A few more words tapped in, another password and then three more after that, and the screen filled with the posts of hundreds of people.

Spencer hummed as he scanned the screen, hovering over one post in particular that read Can’t wait for the next reunion; it’s been so long since I’ve seen my pals. There are so many things that I want to talk about but never can. See all of you guys on January twenty-one!

“Victor misses everyone. Should we give him a call?”

Mick nodded his head slowly, a sign of agreement. “Poor bloke doesn’t even have anyone nearby to chat with. All the contact he has with our world is on this site and during Reunion.” He hovered over Spencer’s should, gazing at the screen. “You get that post up and then we can scroll through a bit to see if there’s anything odd.

There was a nod of response, and Spencer’s fingers darted across the keyboard. Earlier today, I received an odd phone call. It was an unknown number and the person wanted to talk to one of my undercover names. It may be nothing, but I am curious to know if anyone has received something similar or knows of a possible breach in security. He hit post, and the words popped up on the main screen along with everyone else’s posts.

Spencer Holmes and Mihangel Rawson were ex-agents of a British agency referred to as C. H. E. R. U. B. The group was small and highly exclusive, all agents being recruited before the age of twelve. Those recruited earlier, like Spencer who had been six at the time, spent their years training intensively until they reached the age of ten, at which point they went through an intense, hundred day program referred to as Basic Training. The purpose of BT was to ensure that all of their agents could withstand the undercover world; if they could make it through BT, they could make it through just about anything. Once the agents came to be of age, CHERUB ensured that their applications were sent to some of the best universities worldwide. From there one, they were free to live as they pleased. Many former agents later went on to work at CHERUB as mission coordinators.

For years, Mick and Spencer had shared a room as ‘red shirts’, or the youngest CHERUBs on the large campus. They sparred together and argued together, and remained good friends despite not sharing any classes. For BT, they were paired together and passed on their first try, where many others failed. They did missions together, seeing as they looked similar enough to pass off as siblings or cousins. After CHERUB, they split ways. Spencer became the FBI agent of dreams, who sparked an inter-turf war between the different sections of the FBI. Mick joined the British Special Forces, training to become a sniper before he was recruited by an FBI agent named Sam Cooper. Mick operated under Cooper on a BAU red cell team, while Spencer worked under SSA Aaron Hotchner on the go-to BAU team.

On the screen, a reply popped up from a person labelled as Madison Addams. It read I had thought it was a prank call or coincidence, but last night I received a similar call looking for Madison Smith, which was one of my UC aliases back in the day.

Mick turned to Spencer. “Still think you shouldn’t be worried?”

“Oh don’t get me wrong,” Spencer replied. “I am very worried. But we have to keep in mind that both Madison and Smith are very common names.”

Another reply popped up; Just a few minutes ago I got a call looking for Roy Turing, another UC alias.

After that, the replies began to come in quicker, about a dozen within minutes:

The people that called me were looking for Amy Martins and Camilla Woods- Cammy and I used those names while on a mission in Germany. I got an email addressed to Johnny Yang, even though my email is zhu_j. He was really insistent that I was actually Gwen Reyes. My call was asking for my before-name, Arthur Nottingham.

Spencer growled as he stared at the screen, replies streaming in from all corners of the globe. “Now I’m seriously worried.” Mick nodded slowly over Spencer’s shoulder.

“I’m gonna give Mac a ring, see if he knows what’s going on.”

Chapter Text

An hour later and Mac had absolutely no idea what was happening. “Holmes, Rawson, I’m sorry but I haven’t the foggiest what is happening. We have received no calls and no emails of the sort. We’ll just put up an announcement to stay on guard and lay low until this all blows over. It might just be a huge coincidence.” The Irish man’s voice at the other end was haggard, almost making Spencer consider the time change between Quantico and London. He didn’t. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I was, after all, only about twelve in Britain which really was a good time to be having an intense conversation with two ex-agents over a nice cuppa.

Spencer blinked. “Mac, there are two-thousand-one-hundred and seventy-three ex-CHERUBs on that sight. We have about a hundred people here saying the exact same thing. The chances of this being a coincidence are next to nothing.”

On the other end of the line, Mac sighed. “You have to understand, boys, that until there is absolute proof that anyone is in danger there is absolutely nothing that I can do.”

“I get it, Mac,” Mick said. “I’ll let you know the next time someone tries to kill me.”

Spencer hummed agreement. “Me too. But I am afraid I must be off for work lest I be late. I will update you as soon as I have anything.”

For the former CHERUB, work that day was a long and tedious task, filled with long hours of paperwork and the constant banter between his coworkers. Emily Prentiss, dark haired and pale like a vampire (an excellent agent), practically snarled at her consults. The words on the consult blurred beneath Spencer’s face; he found himself incapable of concentrating on the varying murders- he profiled the killer of a pair of ten year olds as a psychopath, who couldn’t help but to take the lives of those around him. The killer of an open gay rights activist was likely an extremely homophobic man, raised to believe that everything he wasn’t was horrible.

The consults flew by like the ticking of the clock and the banter of his coworkers, but all Spencer could think about was the phone call he- and fifty others –had recently received.

Come five that evening, Spencer packed his messenger bag and slung it over his shoulder, leaving the office with only a few words of farewell from his coworkers.

“Does he seem alright to you?” He heard Derek Morgan (who was six feet of muscle matched with a large brain and good looks) say as he left.

Jennifer Jareau, who was five foot eight and blonde haired, answered him. “I’m sure he’s just having an off day, Morgan. Maybe Mick’s feeling off or something. Maybe’s he’s a little bit sick.”

In his office, their Unit Chief SSA Aaron Hotchner could not hear a word that was said, but he too worried for his youngest agent. At twenty-five years old, Dr. Spencer Holmes was the darling of the FBI, who had graduated high school at the age of ten (from a bizarre boarding school outside of London that took in the most talented orphans worldwide) and attended university at… Hotch wasn’t really sure; the young agent had four doctorates and four BAs/BSs. Doctorates in psychology, criminology, sociology and forensic science. His undergraduate degrees were mathematics, chemistry, biological engineering and philosophy. By the time he was eighteen, Holmes had applied to the FBI- and been accepted at a younger age than was ever allowed. On his file was mention of the British government (and wasn’t that a surprise) putting in a good word for the young man- specifically Dr. Spencer Holmes is a talented young man who aspires to keep people alive; he is willing to go to great lengths to save lives. For university, the young man had several listed- Caltech, MIT, Eth Zurich and King’s College London. All fantastic establishments and he had two degrees from each, but there was never any housing listed for him- just assignment turned in at a perfect level.

All in all, Holmes seemed to be quite the enigma. If not for a recommendation from the British government, he was the sort of person that Hotch expected to be part of organized crime. Similarly, Hotch had read over his flatmate’s file as well, seeing as Mihangel Rawson was also an FBI agent. Rawson had been accepted into the Academy at twenty-two, with a similar recommendation from the British government. He attended college at Harvard (and there were actually living arrangements listed for him, unlike Holmes) and graduated with a double major in criminology and linguistics. And, of course, there was also the part where he joined the British Special Forces for a year and returned an almost perfect shot. All quite odd.

Spencer returned home that evening at six twenty-one in the evening. By the time he returned, Mick was already home and seemed jumpy, a gun at his hip rather than locked away in their gun safe as they tended to do as soon as they returned. When Spencer entered, he was instantly met by Mick having a gun pointed directly at his face.

He snarled, stumbling back. “Mick!” He snapped. “What the ever loving hell are you doing?!”

Instantly, Mick lowered his weapon. “Sorry mate,” he apologized in an ever-thickening Welsh accent. “But it never hurts to be prepared. What if you were coming to kill me?”

“If I were coming to kill you, I’d go in through a window at three AM,” Spencer replied swiftly. “I’d get to the roof and then scale downwards, pop out a window and then slit your throat with your own razorblade. At three in the morning, our sleep cycle is at its deepest so it’s unlikely you’d even know I was there.” He had a frown across his features.

Mick rolled his eyes. “Only you would think about that.”

The next day, Spencer rolled out of bed with his alarm and dressed quickly, then ate his normal oatmeal breakfast and left the house at six-forty-one AM, a large cup of coffee filled with sugar sitting in his hand. Over his shoulder, his leather book bag contained the several files he had brought home with him the day before.

At six-forty-seven AM, Spencer walked out the front door of his apartment building and scanned the surrounding area. There were no telling flashes of light from a sniper’s scope, and nor were there any particularly suspicious looking people.

Spencer knew, unfortunately from experience, that the ones he had to watch out for wouldn’t look shifty or like they didn’t belong; they would be the ones who seemed like lost tourists, or a business man or some other inconspicuous thing. They wouldn’t look like they carried a weapon, or like they’d ever even held one, and they wouldn’t act like a threat. They’d be kind and apologetic, raised to be perfect (killers) since an early age.

That last sentence could be taken in almost any way; mob leaders seemed perfect, they were killers, and in particular they were perfect killers. Also perfectionist.

Chapter Text

At seven twenty-four in the morning, Spencer arrived at work and was greeted by the frowning face of his dark-haired boss.

Now, this wasn’t entirely uncommon but what was uncommon was Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner looking rumpled. Tie loose around his neck, formerly crisp white shirt covered in wrinkles, blazer undone and just as wrinkles as his once crisp black pants. His normally perfect hair was beyond ruffled, sticking up at odd angles that Spencer typically associated with Mick’s bedhead, which was, in all honestly, a truly horrendous creature. Hotch’s hair stuck up at odd angles, all spiky with none of the normal finesse. From this Spencer deduced that the man had not showered that morning, seeing as he never put any sort of product in his hair.

“Hotch,” Spencer questioned, curious in nature. “What on earth has happened to you?”

Hotch dragged Spencer away from the Bullpen, suspiciously glancing around the room in a show of intense paranoia. Odd. Normally Hotch was entirely too put-together. It disturbed the local LEOs. “I didn’t sleep last night,” he hissed to Spencer as soon as the two federal agents were in the SSA’s office. Spencer rolled his eyes at that.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Holmes, this is all very serious.” Spencer nodded, slow motions begging for more information. “There’s been a hit list released over the dark net. It’s offering anywhere between ten thousand British pounds and a hundred thousand British pounds for two-thousand one-hundred and seventy-three people exactly. These people are all orphans, primarily British-“

Spencer cut his boss off with a long grown before speaking. “Long story short, a bunch of British orphans taken in by a boarding school on the outskirts of London. Overall, they have an average IQ of approximately one-thirty. Most of these people are unmarried or married to other people on the list. Only three-hundred of these people, approximately, are underage. All of those who have applied to college have been accepted at a fantastic university internationally.” He allowed a long pause. “And Mick and I are on that list.” It was amusing to see Hotch’s momentary reaction on the man’s normally emotionless face. One eyebrow flicked upwards for half a second, and his frown deepened before all notes of emotion were once again wiped from it. “This is getting interesting. Do go on.”

The stern man before him nodded. “There are agents at your apartment right now, you’re not leaving here and I really need to know what’s going on.”

Spencer stared at his boss with large eyes. “If this information weren’t heavily classified I would have told you years ago,” he said sadly. “But unfortunately it is.”

He considered for a long minute. “Although I can probably get clearance to tell you.” There was a long pause. “Hold that thought.”

The phone Spencer extracted from his pocket was not his federally issued phone, and rather his personal one. He quickly speed dialed Mac, and a thick Irish accent came up almost instantly.

“Dr. Holmes,” the Irish direct said with an annoyed twang to his thick accent. “This had better be good. I have a meeting with the new Prime Minister in twenty minutes.”

Spencer scoffed. “Right, Mac, because the Prime Minister is more important than the newly released Hit List that Mick and I have been placed on. Along with every other living CHERUB. Ever. That’s all two-thousand-one-hundred and seventy-three, Mac. Every last one. Even old Lola Green over in Swansea is on it. She’s almost a hundred!”

Mac let out a long suffering sigh. “Where are you, Dr. Holmes?”

“In the middle of my boss’ office staring out his window at Quantico,” Spencer replied seriously. “I need clearance to tell him.”

“Dr. Ho-“

“I need clearance to tell my boss about my life. Because I have been placed on an international hit list offering seventy-five thousand for my death. This is not unreasonable.”

Again, Mac let out a long sigh. “You listen to me Dr. Holmes, we can’t just go around telling people’s bosses that they are CHERUBs! And you are being entirely unreasonable!”

“My boss is one of the most well respected Unit Chiefs in the FBI. We’ve worked with the CIA, NSA and several other American secret agencies. You can look him up on your MI6 monitors if you’d like, but I think you’ll find that Hotch is able to know about CHERUB. Perfectly reasponable.”

Previously silent, Hotch spoke up then. “Holmes, what’s CHERUB?”

On the other end, Mac snapped, “See Dr. Holmes, he doesn’t even address you with respect!”

“Actually,” Spencer said into the phone, “my relationship with Hotch is much closer than I ever was to you. See? Nicknames! You’re the one being unreasonable!”

“I practically raised you!”

“You did not. It was Arthur that found me alone in a Las Vegas group home, and it was Mick and Olly that were my friends. It was Zera that kept me safe. You were in charge of making sure that everyone did their homework and knew what they were supposed to be doing where. Now while I would love to continue, I need that clearance.”

Mac sighed. “Bloody hell, Holmes, you’re so annoying.”

“Thanks,” Spencer chirped into the phone and hung up.

Hotch stared at him with large, confused eyes. “What was that about, Holmes.”

Spencer sighed. “Long story short, when I was six I was recruited by a British intelligence agency referred to as CHERUB. These agents range between the age of ten and eighteen.”

Hotch blinked.

“It stands for Children Helping with Espionage Running Under Britain.” He paused. “Or at least it does as far as I’m concerned. It was made up by a World War Two officer called Henderson. He never bothered to tell anyone why he called them CHERUBs. The other possibilities are quite amusing. Crabby Hardworking Espionagists Returning Underneath Britain, for one. Which honestly makes no sense but there you go.”

Hotch blinked.

“Honestly, Hotch, it’s not that hard of a pill to swallow.”

Hotch blinked.

“I was recruited at the age of six from a Las Vegas group home to a group of child spies. Since then I have brought down a human trafficking ring operating internationally. From the captor’s side. I got photographic evidence, managed to record statements from the victims and got a full list of every person to have ‘bought’ one of these people, ever. They are now all comfortably lounging in prison.”

Hotch blinked.

“I’m gonna leave you here to get your head around this. Come find me when you’re ready to do more than blink.” He landed a heavy pat on Hotch’s shoulder.

Hotch blinked.

Spencer exited the office.