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This is Kevin. Leave your name, number, and nightmare at the tone!

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When Hotch called the team into the round table room, it was with a grim and mildly dejected air that they all filed into the room. They all paused at the sight of a stranger standing at the front of the room with Hotch, but proceeded to take their seats as Penelope closed the door behind her.

The stranger was a tall and lean woman in her thirties. Asian with long straight black hair and slanted brown eyes with light copper skin, she was dressed professionally in a black pantsuit with a dark blue silk blouse and one visible sidearm. The most discerning among them could count at least three other weapons on her person.

While the case they were on wasn’t the most complicated that the team had faced nor the most gruesome, it was probably one of the most difficult. They have profiled subjects before to find their hostages, but trying to profile and interrogate a single person with 24 alternate identities was proving to be the limits of their combined skills and experience.

“Hello, no need to do introductions since I know who each of you are and Agent Hotchner has stressed the importance of time on this matter,” the stranger said. “My name is Agent Colette Philippe and I supervise project Morpheus at Langley. The only reason I’m telling you this much is because you’ll be exposed to our particular methods during the case.”

Agent Philippe paused as she looked over them.

“Have any of you heard of an old military project codenamed somnacin?” Agent Philippe asked.

Reid twitched and Agent Philippe focused on him.

“Agent Reid?” Agent Philippe asked, raising an eyebrow.

“There are vague references to the project that I’ve seen over the years,” Reid admitted. “But I couldn’t find anything concrete about it other than it was studying mental manipulation techniques.”

“True, in a way,” Agent Philippe said, tilting her head. “How about dreamsharing?”

Emily raised her hand hesitantly.

“I heard about it when I went under with Interpol,” Emily reported. “But I was focused on the arms trade so I didn’t dig too deep into it.”

“I’ll give you the cliff notes version,” Agent Philippe decided. “Project Somnacin was a military project exploring the limits and usefulness of dreaming and the ability to share dreams where soldiers could be put under and trained together, where they could shoot, stab, and kill each other and then wake back up. We call it dreamsharing. For multiple reasons that I’m not going to go into, that project ended badly for most of those involved.”

Agent Philippe glanced at Hotch, but then continued without any visible response from him.

“The project I supervise, codenamed Morpheus, uses the dreamsharing techniques for interrogation,” Agent Philippe said. “However, dreamsharing also managed to make its way into the criminal underworld where those operating in it use dreamsharing on unwitting marks to steal their secrets for a price, usually for such things as corporate espionage and blackmail purposes.”

“How?” Rossi asked what they were all thinking.

“With dreamsharing, the person whose dream you are entering automatically fills up the dream-space with their own projections which can be people that you can interrogate to learn subconscious information from, or a hiding place that will contain the secrets you are after,” Agent Colette answered. “In the case of interrogation, you send the subject under into their dreams and then our own team or even one operative gets put under with them who hunts for this information.”

“So, that’s our plan?” Derek asked, glancing around at everyone. “We send Kevin, or whoever the identity is, under and dreamshare with him to find the girls?”

“You’re only half right,” Agent Philippe said. She opened her mouth to continue but stopped when Hotch stepped forward.

“We’ll be consulting with her own operatives,” Hotch told them. “We have the background information and the profile, but none of us have any experience in dreamsharing and it would take too much time to learn.”

Derek leaned back in his chair and looked like he wanted to argue the point on principle alone.

“Who will we be working with?” Penelope asked.

“I left them in the main conference room,” Agent Philippe said and hesitated long enough for it to be noticeable. “After reviewing the case file that Agent Hotchner provided me with, I decided that due to the nature of the case and the mental landscape of the subject that no one on my team had the necessary expertise to be successful so I called in a favor with some of those less than legal operatives I mentioned before.”

Everyone shifted at the implication that they would be working with criminals on this case, though they were willing to swallow quite a lot in order to locate the hostages alive.

“I realize this is beyond unorthodox, but they are literally the experts in their field and they are the best shot at getting those girls alive,” Agent Philippe said.

“What do we know about them?” Emily asked.

“I can tell you that they were once one of us before they turned criminal, but even with them cutting all ties to their respective governments, their files are more blacked out lines than not. It’s also no guarantee that we have their real names so we’ll just use the names they’ve been going by,” Agent Philippe said. “Arthur was US Army and one of the first soldiers in Project Somnacin. He makes all the appearance of a gentleman’s thief, but he’s been known in the underworld to take hits in the real world though his specialty is in dreamsharing as a point man. Eames was also one of the first subjects involved in Project Somnacin as a part of the cooperative effort by Great Britain. We managed to wrangle the information that he was former MI6. He puts on a front as a gambler, but he’s an expert forger in both the real world and in the dreamshare.”

“How dangerous are they?” Rossie asked.

Agent Philippe got that look on her face like she debating on how honest she should answer them.

“One of the earliest jobs they took together, their backer tried to double cross them. Instead of Arthur or Eames ending up dead, the mafia hitmen sent after them turned up dead, twelve in total – one for each day it took them to hunt down and kill their backer,” Agent Philippe said neutrally. “And the last job they took, they got betrayed by one of their teammates. They left the rented warehouse burning down with the bodies of the teammate who had betrayed them and the three others who had been bribed to turn on them as well.”

Agent Philippe watched as they all adjusted to the fact they were in fact about to work with a couple of stone cold killers.

“They’re heavy hitters in the dreamshare community and they get results,” Agent Philippe said. “And I know that they’ll get the job done. As long as we don’t betray them, then they’ll cooperate.”

“So, we’re basically using two murderers to catch another would-be murderer?” Derek asked.

“I don’t mean to mislead, because they are criminals. They’re killers, liars, thieves, and cheats. But if we give them a job, then they’ll run that job into the ground,” Agent Philippe said. “They are also the absolute best at what they do. If you don’t think you can work with them, I’ll cut them loose, but I think that they’re the best shot you have.”

Agent Philippe rocked back on her heels as she watched them each consider the proposition, stacking their own self-righteous morals of working with acknowledged criminals against finding those girls alive.

“Another thing that you should know if you are to work with them,” Agent Philippe said. “Normally, I would hesitate to tell you even this much, but the fact is that most of the dreamshare community knows this so I feel the need to inform you as well. Arthur and Eames have a very close relationship. It is unknown exactly the depths or intricacies of the relationship, but it is well-known in the dreamshare community and fairly well-known among the criminal underworld. They don’t work jobs together often, but the ones they do always go flawlessly, and they’ve killed in the defense of each other several times before.”

Agent Philippe paused.

“Just to give you a frame of reference, when someone tried to hire Arthur to kill Eames a few years ago, Arthur turned around and killed the man who had tried to hire him instead,” Agent Philippe added. “It has been long accepted that if you wanted to mess with one of them, you should be prepared to deal with the other one as well.”

Agent Philippe studied them and turned to Hotch.

“We’ll discuss it and let you know in ten minutes,” Hotch told her firmly.

Agent Philippe inclined her head and wordlessly left the room.

There was a blissful five seconds of perfect silence.

Then the room erupted.

Hotch sighed to himself as the voices layered over one another as they each stopped short of yelling to be heard. He took his own seat at the table and looked up at the sudden quiet to find Penelope with her hand up. She pointed to the monitor mounted at the front of the room and they all turned to see that she had turned it on to show the main conference room.

Two men were sitting next to each other at the table with the chairs facing the door. They didn’t know which was Arthur and which was Eames, but they were each distinctly different in appearance and demeanor.

One of them was pale with sharp features and a round face, his black hair cut short. He was dressed in a sharp gray pinstripe suit with a leather portfolio on the table in front of him with a small black moleskin sitting on top of it. He sitting up straight in his chair with his hands clasped in his lap and his elbows on the arm rests.

The other man was broader in the shoulders than the other man with short light brown hair combed to the side and tanned skin. He was wearing khaki pants with a long paisley patterned button down shirt and a brown blazer. He was leaning back in his chair with his fingers tapping a rhythm on the table.

Agent Philippe entered the camera view, the sound of the door opening and closing showing that Penelope had turned the sound on as well.

“What’s with the shouting?” the slouching man asked lazily. He had a distinctly English accent so this was probably Eames since Agent Philippe had said that he had been in MI6.

“Let me guess,” the man who was probably Arthur said wryly. “You told them what our actual jobs were.”

“I appreciate you doing this favor for me, Arthur,” Agent Philippe said, ignoring the two men’s words.

“It’s not a favor, Colette,” Arthur told her. “You’re giving us the terms and you’re paying us – that means it’s a contract.”

“It’d only be a favor if you wanted us to work for free, love,” Eames drawled.

Agent Philippe flashed them a smile that looked far more familiar than the team expected.

“What kind of support team will you need when you go under?” Agent Philippe asked, joining them at the table. “I’ll make any of my operatives available to you.”

Arthur and Eames exchanged a look.

“We’ll need an architect,” Arthur said. “While we know plenty that are capable, I don’t trust any of them with this type of job. It could be bad for us if it gets out that we’re taking jobs or doing favors for the government.”

“Understandable,” Agent Philippe agreed and nodded. “I have Agent Silver on standby, just in case you had need for her, and she’s been briefed on the case.”

“How is she?” Eames asked.

“Fit to spit fire,” Agent Philippe said dryly. “She may punch you when she sees you.”

Arthur and Eames winced in tandem.

“That’s what happens when we hear that your own team tried to kill you and you can’t be bothered to answer the damn phone,” Agent Philippe told them.

“Right,” Eames cleared his throat. “Maybe mention to her that while I can take the beating, she should give Arthur a few weeks before she doles his out.”

Agent Philippe snapped her head towards Arthur so fast they were surprised they didn’t hear her neck crack through the speakers.

“You’re injured?” Agent Philippe demanded. “How badly are you hurt? Why are taking on another job so soon?”

“I got shot,” Arthur said shortly. “Once or twice.”

“Three times,” Eames said in a tone so cheerfully false that half the team flinched.

“Three times,” Agent Philippe repeated flatly her expression going stormy.

“Not to throw any blame about,” Eames said. “But you called and said it was life or death.”

“And not to throw any stones either, but I distinctly remember you having several stab wounds and still insisting that you could finish the mission,” Arthur said neutrally.

Agent Philippe glared at Arthur who sighed loud enough for the speaker to pick it up.

“It’s not like it happened yesterday,” Arthur complained.

“Course not, darling,” Eames said, patting Arthur gently on the shoulder while exchanging a knowing look with Agent Philippe.

Arthur huffed and shook his head.

“I can act as the extractor,” Arthur said, clearly changing the subject though he used terms that the team was unfamiliar with. “Though I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to come down with us as the extractor instead. I’ll always trust you at my back.”

“So the rumors are true about you finally ditching Cobb,” Agent Philippe said. “It would have been a hard sell to get him on the team if you had wanted him.”

Arthur’s shoulders tightened while Eames made a show of relaxing even more.

“I trust Cobb about as far as I could throw him,” Arthur said flatly. “He got what he was after, did his last job and walked away, which is good because that was the last job I was ever going to take with him.”

Agent Philippe hummed, turning towards Eames.

“And you feel the same way, Eames?” Agent Philippe questioned.

“If Cobb shows his face in dreamsharing again, I won’t even wait for us to be in the dream-space before shooting him in the head,” Eames said silkily.

Agent Philippe sat back in her chair, clearly surprised, but neither of the two men seemed willing to elaborate on their stances.

“Well,” Agent Philippe said. “Agent Silver will be relieved to hear that.”

“Now, don’t go telling me lies,” Eames said lightly. “Gwyneth wanted the pleasure of shooting Cobb herself and will be put out if I beat her to it.”

“True,” Agent Philippe agreed. “And you still won’t tell me what he did that pissed her off so much?”

“What happened in dreamshare, stays in dreamshare,” Arthur said solemnly.

It was quiet for about three seconds before all three of them burst out laughing.