Divided Chapter 17

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Familial betrayal is, to me, the most heartbreaking kind - because if you can't trust your family to love you and protect you, who can you really trust?

-Alexandra Bracken

Rossi sighed, his eyes aching with lack of sleep, the case had finally caught up with him, as he dug further into the past of the Winchester family, more plagued his memories. The parallels between John and himself haunted his thoughts, a fellow Marine, he spat viciously in his head, semper fi.

He packed up the remaining clothes from his go bag, the case was done, this was it. They'd leave, Belle would go into foster care... or, would she? Rossi mulled over the possibility of the young spitfire living in an orphanage. With her...connections, she would be in constant danger... anyone with a grudge against her father would be able to find her, his heart sped slightly, trying to shake himself from his woe, he straightened his jacket and headed out to meet the rest of his team.

Once he entered the lobby he noticed that everyone aside from Hotch had accumulated at the door. Spencer and Morgan were murmuring quietly, the elder man's face twisted with a multitude of emotions, recognizing concern, anxiety and the ever-present anger, Rossi could guess what the conversation was about, Belle. "Are you boys talking about Belle?" He asks, meeting their stride.

Morgan sighed, "Yeah, we're discussing options."

This caused him to quirk his eyebrow in confusion, "Options?" He echos, "what do you mean, options?"

Reid sighed, "You can't expect someone who has heightened intelligence, no living family, no recorded schooling and non-existence funds to just be let out in the world." JJ inched forward, obviously wanting to add to the conversation.

"CPS will handle Belle's placement." The blonde stated, watching the males carefully.

Morgan scoffed, his posture turning defensive, "Yeah? What parents want to take in an ex-serial killer's daughter."

"Plus Belle is a genius, take it from me, she needs a stable environment to flourish, no group home or foster family will do that," Spencer added.

Emily scrunched her nose joining JJ in the circle, "What are you guys getting on about, you seem like you're getting..." She trailed for a second, searching for the right word, "attached." She finished.

The elder agent shook his head, "the boys are right, plus Belle could be targeted any time again for the Winchester's transgressions, she may need to go into protective services."

"Like she would trust any agent?" Morgan argued back at Rossi. "She doesn't even trust us, I think she only tolerates me!" He sighed, "Maybe... maybe one of us could take her in."

This shocked everyone into silence, all eyes snapping to the man, no one finding words to add to that. Until a voice rang from across the hall, a sharp and authoritative baritone slicing through the polished hall. "You can't be serious Agent Morgan." Everyone spun on their heel to face their boss crossing the hall, shoulders squared, facial expression bleak. "What do you know about taking care of a scared teenager? One who has serious problems that need professional help. We don't even know what Miss Winchester has done or if she was telling the truth when she said her father and uncle were the only ones doing the crimes."

Said man bristled, "Oh that's rich!" He snapped, moving to face against his supervisor. "I think I know a hell of a lot about trauma and I never said it would be me, but would that be such a problem? She trusts me more than anyone else. Maybe it's in her best interest to live with me for a bit. She'd be safe and stable." Derek crossed his arms across his chest, back stiff and face looking as if it were carved from marble.

"And how are you gonna go about this agent? You think I'll sign off on this?" Hotch sniffed.

This is where Morgan smirked, "I don't need your permission, she's a minor with no parents and I'm a viable foster parent, you think Director Strauss would disagree? It saves the Bureau money and keeps the press off of our backs."

The team watched the males face off in shock, "You're really going to do this? Against my word." Aaron asked in disbelief.

"If it keeps that little girl safe? I'd go against you all. I already talked to Belle's new assigned caseworker and Penny will help me push the papers. The only question is, who will support me... us?" Mogan shifted his gaze to their audience, Hotch following.

The first to speak was Reid, "You think I'm going to let you take care of a genius by yourself?" He smiled as Morgan gave a nod of thanks.

JJ shook her head. "I... I don't think, I..." She sighed looking to the pair, sapphire eyes brimming with frustration, "No... Derek. I agree with Hotch, you can't do this."

"Well, she'll need a woman to talk with, I'm in, you'll make a great guardian." Prentiss grinned face soft.

Then that was it, everyone's eyes moved to him, Rossi's head tilted upward, moving his view to shift between his longtime friend and coworker, the latter's deep pools of chocolate begging, for what? Acceptance? The former cold with life, hard against the possibility of danger, withered with betrayal and desperate to keep them safe. An impossible decision that couldn't be any clearer to the Italian veteran.

"Well, everyone needs a Nonno to spoil them."

Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.

-James Dobson

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