"Unfinished business, huh! We all have unfinished business!" Reid shouted. You killed your own brother, that should have been the end of your business, am I right?"
Nathan turned his head toward Reid puzzled, the barrel of the gun still pressed against Morgan's head.
"Yeah…right." He answered even more puzzled.
"But it wasn't was it. Something happened that made it necessary to kill the others."
Nathan lowered the gun and backed away momentarily deflated and walked over to the worn metal desk where the phone sat and leaned against it in deep thought.
"Who saw?" Reid exhaled measuring his words carefully.
"They did…all of them. Clark James, Bucky Cartwright, Ian Michaels, Elmer Ernst, Joey Irving and that piece of crap over there, Bertrum Myers, hid in the bushes when the saw me coming while the other seven kept running."
"Let me guess they tried to blackmail you."
"I got a phone call from old Bert demanding money for his silence. He even told me that the others would be calling for their fair share too."
Nathan glanced over at Bertrum still sniveling and shaking with fear.
"The other names on your list, why do you want to kill them?"
"I couldn't take any more chances… loose ends…unfinished business, you know?"
"There's only one thing left to decide."
"What's that?" Now Reid was confused.
"Which one of these two dies first?"
A slight smile appeared on Nathan's face as he slowly walked toward Bertrum. He seemed to derive some sort of wicked pleasure from watching the captive man squirm, his screams and pleads for mercy muffled by the gag taped across his mouth. He stared down at his victim, the sixth name on his list and slowly ran his index finger up and down the barrel of the gun.
"I like you Reid. You understand me, I think. You feel my pain." He shot a quick glance at Reid then back to Bertrum. "So, I'm going to take care of your problem first. My gift to you."
Morgan had been watching the scene play out like an unmanned car careening down a hill out of control. He had a hundred scenarios in his mind of how things would end and none of them were good. He counted the steps between himself and Nathan as he watched him come closer and closer. The gun raised and pointed and ready to send speeding hot steel point blank into his forehead.
"I want his shoes!" Reid shouted.
"What?" Nathan slowed down, three steps closer to Morgan.
"There's a saying, 'don't judge a man unless you've walked a mile in his shoes.' I want his shoes."
Nathan stood still pivoting back toward Reid.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I want his shoes and I want him to wear mine. I want him to walk the last mile of his life in my shoes. I want him to feel the pain of his lie and feel her blood on his hands!"
"Damn! You're a bigger nut job than I am." Nathan didn't quite know what to make of his new friend. "Yeah…okay…sure…I'll let you have his shoes."
Nathan pulled a pocketknife from his pocket and knelt down in front of Reid looking deep into the agent's eyes. Just before he cut the bindings around his wrist he leaned in close touching his nose to Reid's.
"If this is a trick…if you try anything…I'll kill both of you." He whispered.
"I won't try anything, I promise." Reid assured him.
Travers stood up and stepped to the side, Reid slowly pulled himself to his feet then rubbing the red marks around his wrists made his way over to Morgan. He felt Travers' eyes on him. He had a plan this was his only chance to save them all. Morgan searched his friend's eyes for a clue, anything that would tell him what he was thinking and feeling.
"Reid…look man, don't do this!"
"I want you to walk that mile…your last mile in my shoes." He said keeping his voice even.
"Look, man, I'm sorry about what happened…"
He kept looking, searching his young friend's face. He saw anger and fear then he saw something else. It was a sign that he had not lost his friend he was still in there somewhere buried beneath the anguish and the desire to blame him. He nodded slightly following Reid's eyes that were now focused on his right foot.
Reid knew that Morgan was always heavily armed when they were in the field not just relying on what was visible. Both he and Hotch always carried back up strapped to their ankles.
"Are you crazy?" He whispered
"No! I'm not crazy! My friend here is going to blow your brains out! Then you'll finally understand how I feel!"
Reid reached for Morgan's shoe using his own small frame as a shield as he cleverly reached and slid the small handgun from the ankle holster and then sliding it into the empty shoe.
"Reid! Think about this! You don't want to do this, man!"
Travers began to pace back and forth as he watched the two men. He was giddy at the thought that he'd found a kindred spirit in his captive. He was curious he couldn't quite see the expression on Morgan's face he needed to see the fear, that's what made it all worthwhile…the fear…the eyes could never fully hide the fear even in the bravest of men.
"Hurry up! Let's get this over with!" He shouted as he marched towards them.
"He's coming!" Morgan whispered. "Reid!"
"Nathan how did you expect this day to end?" Reid said his back still to him and his voice eerily calm.
"Well not like this, that's for sure." A slight chuckle punctuated the end of his statement.
"Did you expect to die?"
He slowed down confused now wishing he had a little of his brother's smarts. He had let his guard down his gun dangling almost forgotten at his side. He was so caught up in the insanity of the young Dr. Spencer Reid and watching him remove the shoes of his partner. He had been so engaged in conversation and in awe of another man's madness that he didn't see Reid's hand reach back into the shoe that had only moments been on his partner's foot. Then he saw the gun and he saw the small thin man turn to face him aiming with a sturdy hand. He admired him in a sick way he tried because he had no other choice but to make at least an effort to beat him to the draw. He was too late, the man whom only moments earlier, had been bound defenseless and afraid to speak, was now poised to take his life. Then he felt the piercing burning ache as the bullet slammed into his chest knocking him to the ground.
Reid stood up and rushed over kicking the gun from the man's reach. He watched patiently as Nathan Travers stared unbelieving into Reid's eyes as he took his last breath. Behind them the doors of the warehouse burst open and the noise of a dozen SWAT and FBI agents filled the room armed and too late to make a difference.
Potomac General Hospital – later
Reid had left the rest of the team in the waiting room. He stood silently at Morgan's bedside. The doctor's report was encouraging; they'd removed the bullet, which had stopped a centimeter from his heart. The vest had slowed it enough to save his life. Morgan lay still, sedated to ward off the pain and to allow his body to begin the healing process.
Morgan opened his eyes to see Reid staring at him. He wasn't up for conversation he'd didn't want a replay of the morning. He just wanted to sleep and forget everything.
"Hey." Reid didn't know how to begin.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like somebody shot me through my bulletproof vest."
"Bullet resistant you mean."
Reid's eyes wandered around the room looking for a way to say all the things that he needed to say.
"Morgan…I'm sorry. I know you're not to blame for Maeve's death…"
"Reid, you're hurting I get it."
"No you don't get it."
Morgan winced in pain as he tried to find a comfortable position.
"Are we really going to have this conversation?"
"You're the strongest person I know. You've made it your mission to protect everybody. If you said we could save Maeve I believed it. I needed to believe it even when I knew the odds."
"I shouldn't have made that promise…Reid, I'm sorry, man."
"I don't blame you. I just didn't know what to do with…with the feelings, the pain…everybody's life just kept going as if Maeve never lived. I needed somebody else to feel my pain so that I-I-…"
"So that I could believe I wasn't insane."
"You're not insane, Reid…your human. Even geniuses have those moments that they can't explain with those big old brains!"
Reid plopped down into the chair next to the bed.
"I almost got you killed…I almost got both of us killed…I'm sorry, Morgan."
"Reid, you saved my life! I owe you…thanks."
Reid smiled slightly and sat in silence for a few seconds.
"Yeah, I did, didn't I?"
"Yeah you did, Kid."
"It was nothing…besides, that's what brothers are for."
"There is a destiny, which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own." - Edwin Markham