A.N. I wrote this to integrate with what we saw on screen, hoping to round out some of the emotional aspects that were lost to the action scenes. Posted because I thought some others might enjoy it too.
"Spence!" JJ gasped as she saw the EMTs rushing the stretcher toward the ambulance.
"Who's coming with him?" one of the technicians shouted. They needed information, and had no time to gather it at the scene. Not with a neck wound pumping blood.
She desperately wanted to go, but knew she couldn't. The BAU was clearly on its own, unable to trust the police. Beyond that, they couldn't be sure the police weren't targeting them. JJ was still able-bodied, and Hotch needed her.
"You go!" she shouted to Morgan. "Get yourself looked at."
He'd taken several bullets to his torso. They'd lodged in his vest, but they'd been full of enough energy to bring the powerfully-built profiler down. And then he'd been winged by yet another bullet, before they'd taken down the preacher.
Who may not even be our unsub.
JJ couldn't remember when she'd been quite so unnerved by a case. It seemed as though they were surrounded by collusion and corruption, and could trust no one but themselves. Even before losing Reid and Morgan, they'd been outmanned and outgunned.
JJ's phone was vibrating. Hotch. Blake had already phoned the whole thing in to their unit chief and Rossi. But she'd been tending to Reid, and been clearly shaken by his condition. And that had shaken JJ.
"The preacher is dead. So is the sheriff. We've got Crime Scene coming but….it's a mess here, Hotch. There are casings and bullets all over the place, and it's a wide area. It extends into the building as well. They'll be tied up here for a very long time."
He heard what she hadn't said. Longer than we can afford to be. He also knew he would have to meet with his team in person, away from the police.
"Pull together what you need to from the scene and meet us at the hospital. We're on our way."
"All right, we'll grab their things and go."
"JJ…..how are they?"
She wanted to try to ignore it. She would have to, if she was to be of any help. And she was very determined to be of help.
Her two friends would not be injured in vain. Even as she prayed they were only injured. Now, made to think about it by her superior's inquiry, JJ felt shaken all over again. She couldn't keep it from her voice.
"Morgan will be okay. He's got a flesh injury to his left arm. But Reid… " Her voice lowered to the pitch that helped her keep it in control. "…..it was his neck, Hotch. The EMT had his hand there for pressure, but…when it slipped….there was blood spurting out. Spence wasn't conscious."
"Was he breathing on his own?" He obviously had a heart rate, if his blood was pumping.
"Yes. And the EMT said it didn't get his head, so it's not a brain injury. But Alex heard them calling ahead to have the OR ready."
There was a brief silence as Hotch absorbed the information.
"Are you all right?"
She knew what he was asking. "I'd rather be working, Hotch. And we don't exactly have a battalion behind us." No, I'm not all right. But please don't put me on the sidelines.
"Agreed. All right. We'll see you at the hospital."
Morgan was being tended to in the ED when the remaining members of the BAU reached the hospital. Hotch managed to badge his way to the trauma bay for a word with his wounded team member.
"How is it?"
"This?" Morgan waved his right hand in dismissal of the left shoulder that was still being bandaged. "It's nothing."
"And your chest?" Hotch knew Morgan wasn't about to admit to anything that wasn't blatantly visible, but he also knew the damage a bullet to the vest could incur. And Morgan had taken three.
"Bruised, that's all. I'll be sore for a day or two. That's nothing."
Hotch knew he wouldn't be able to keep Morgan down, nor could he afford to. So he simply asked about their youngest colleague.
Morgan looked apologetically to the nurse at his side. He'd gone off on her about needing to know about his teammate. Her twenty years of experience in the ED kept her level-headed throughout his tirade. She recognized frustrated helplessness when she saw it. She'd taken pity on him, and gotten an update. Now she answered for Morgan.
"Agent Reid has a penetrating wound to the neck. We had him here in trauma only long enough to make sure he was stable enough to be on the elevator. He's in surgery now."
She put the finishing touches on Morgan's bandage, and pronounced him ready to go. Morgan leapt down from the table….and immediately grabbed his abdomen.
"Just sore," he explained to Hotch's single raised eyebrow. Which gave the unit chief an idea.
"Nurse….I don't think Agent Morgan is quite ready to be discharged. Maybe he should stay for a while….for observation?"
The nurse didn't know quite what was going on, but she'd decided she liked these FBI agents. And she knew they were far from home.
She winked at Hotch. "I'll see what I can do."
As she moved off, Hotch had news for Morgan. "Cruz and Garcia are on their way."
Apparently the news wasn't as welcomed as Hotch had anticipated.
"What? Why? I mean…I get Cruz. But, Hotch, we're under siege here. Why do we need to bring Garcia into it? She's safe in DC."
"Because we don't know who we can trust. And we're already outmanned. I need someone here, with Reid. And I can't afford to spare any of the rest of you."
"Then why are you trying to get them to stick me in a hospital room?"
"Because the sheriff's office won't be expecting a hospital inpatient to be coming at them in the field."
Hotch couldn't suppress a small smile at the look on Morgan's face. "Don't worry. You would have thought of it. Eventually."
JJ entered the surgery waiting room cautiously. For some obtuse reason, she felt like she was supposed to be quiet here. But Alex was the only one holding vigil at this hour. The blonde profiler approached her teammate and sat, her leg bouncing up and down in a show of nerves.
Alex shook her head. "None."
"He'll be all right. Won't he? He has to be all right."
As anxious as Alex Blake was, she reached out to her worried younger colleague, stilling her leg with a touch to the knee.
"He's in good hands. That's what they told me. And he got here within minutes. They said that was important."
"But….he'll be all right, won't he? Alex…..what if..."
"Don't think about the what-ifs. Just think good thoughts. Pray for him, if you want."
Her voice was its usual soft, soothing self, even while her entire face was creased with worry. "He's got a lot more life to live."
JJ smiled. "Did you know he told me he wants kids? He thought….." She immediately became too choked up to continue.
"JJ?" Alex touched her knee again.
JJ waved off the concern. "I'm fine. It's just….. he told me he'd thought he would have kids with Maeve. And then….. And now... this." She wiped away an unbidden tear.
Alex nodded slowly, acknowledging the double blow. "He's had more than his share of troubles. But he's also got good friends to help him through them. Right?"
JJ tried to smile, but her face wouldn't cooperate. "Right."
"So, good friend, would you like to wait with me?"
JJ sniffled as she shook her head.
"I would. But I came up to tell you that we're meeting in Morgan's room."
Alex was immediately concerned. "He's being admitted? But I thought…"
"It gives us a private space to meet. And it might make it look like we're even more outgunned than they think."
"Ah…" Alex took a moment to consider, but then decided. "I think I need to be here. He'll need someone, and I feel responsible."
"Because it should have been me. He was lifting me out of the way when he was hit."
I should have known. My Spence. But oh, what a price to pay for caring for someone!
Aloud, she said, "All right. But….Alex, I think I should go. Or maybe I should stay."
Torn, knowing he would be looking for her, should he regain consciousness. "But we're down, and…"
"Go. I'll stay. I'm not quite back to where I can be helpful yet anyway." She held out an unsteady palm to demonstrate.
JJ immediately reached out and embraced her teammate. It was a first for both of them. They liked each other well enough, and they each respected the work of the other. But they weren't close. Not like she'd been with Emily. They simply hadn't partnered enough to build that kind of relationship.
But the shared concern for the young man on the operating table brought down any residual barriers between them. The two hugged, offering consolation in the face of uncertainty.
Their embrace was interrupted by the sound of heels clacking down the hospital corridor, followed by, "How is he? How's my sweet baby genius?"
The women released each other and turned to the welcome sight of Penelope Garcia. JJ opened her arms again, and Garcia fell into them.
"Sweet cheeks, are you okay? How is my boy?"
Alex filled her in, interrupted mid-story by her own squeeze from Garcia, who was in full mother-hen mode.
"How did you get here so quickly?"
"Turns out we're not the only one with a jet." She explained that Mateo Cruz was already down in Morgan's room, with the others. "Hotch says he understands why you'd want to be here, but he needs us." She turned to Alex. "He wants me there too, for a bit. You know, to 'do what I do'…but afterward, I can come up and wait with you."
Somehow being with the other women was having a calming effect on Alex. "Come back when you're ready. Then I'll go. Hotch needs all of us."
JJ caught her eyes and gave Alex an approving smile. Among them, they would see to the needs of the BAU in combating this latest, most unexpected foe. And, among them, they would see to the needs of their fallen friend. A virtual posse of profilers.
As intent as she was on her work, JJ kept praying for her phone to vibrate. But no news is good news…isn't it? Finally, as she and Rossi moved between venues, she made the call herself.
"Pen! How is he? Why didn't you call me?"
"Honey…..I didn't call you because he's not out of surgery yet. The nurse came out to give me an update. She said the bullet had hit an artery, but not that big one…..not the main one. But he still lost a lot of blood, and they had trouble getting it to stop, so they couldn't see what they were doing, and they need to make sure it didn't get his trachea….."
JJ could tell when Garcia was stopping for breath, and when she was stopping because she was upset. It was the latter, now.
"What? What aren't you telling me?"
"Oh, God, JJ. They said it was lodged just a few millimeters from his spine! It went from the front to the back, and it lodged there. If it had gone just a little bit to his left…."
"Oh, my God….he would have been paralyzed?"
"Dead, JJ. He would have died. They said it would have been too high on his spine, and he would have died."
JJ closed her eyes in a quick, silent prayer. It didn't happen. It might have happened, but it didn't. And it won't. Thank You.
"Did they tell you when they'd be done?"
"They said 'in about an hour' …..and that was an hour ago."
She took a calming breath. "Okay. Call me when he's out, okay? And…if he's awake…..you know…"
"I'll give him your love."
As she closed the phone, JJ glanced at Rossi in the driver's seat. He'd heard only her half of the conversation, and the worry showed on his face. She quickly filled him in on what had, and hadn't, happened. He whistled in response.
"Young Spencer is using up yet another life. What is he up to…like…three, now?"
JJ smiled. Let's hope he has nine.
None of them had really seen it coming. Who would have thought Reid could be attacked in the hospital? Wasn't a bullet in the neck enough for them?
But none of them could know that he'd seen the unsub walk by him before he'd passed out after being shot. And none could know that the unsub had seen Reid notice him. They couldn't know about anything Reid might have seen, because he hadn't yet regained consciousness.
JJ rushed into the surgical step-down area, and located Reid's room.
"Pen! Are you okay? Morgan said…."
A still shaky Penelope Garcia stood and hugged her good friend again. "I know how you did it, now."
"You know. When you shot my 'new boyfriend'" using finger quotes, "that day in the BAU. I know how you did it. You said that, when someone threatens a member of your family….do you remember?"
How will I ever forget? The first time I ever shot to kill. And I succeeded. Without even flinching. For a long time after that day, her lack of flinching had troubled her. She wanted to be a 'flincher', because she never wanted it to become routine. Even if the job made that necessary.
"Well, he was threatening my baby boo….what else could I do?"
JJ shook her head. "Thank God we had his bag of belongings. And thank God this was Texas. Almost anywhere else, they would have taken the gun out before they gave the bag to us."
JJ could feel the trembling of the woman in her embrace. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Garcia looked over to where Reid lay immobile in the bed. "I'd be better if he would wake up. The doctors are worried. They haven't said so, but I can tell. I just want him to wake up."
JJ let out a deep breath. "Me too."
Before she moved over to the bed, she lifted Reid's messenger bag from where she'd carried it on her shoulder. "I brought this. Thought maybe, if he was awake…." Tearing up at the fact that he wasn't. "I thought maybe he'd want his books."
I prayed he'd be awake and want his books.
"Where are the others?" asked Garcia. JJ was the only one who'd come up.
"They told us visitors were limited in the step-down unit, so Hotch told me to come up first."
He'd known it would be virtually impossible to keep her away, now that the case was over.
"Oh. Okay, should I go, then?"
JJ smiled at her as she moved over to the bed. "I think Morgan might want to make sure you're all right."
Penelope smiled. "I shall not keep my chocolate knight waiting a minute longer. You'll be okay here?"
JJ looked from Garcia, to Reid, and back again. "We'll be fine."
The technical analyst moved forward and gave her friend another quick hug. "You take care of my boy, now."
JJ reached for one of Reid's hands and squeezed it, disappointed not to have the gesture returned. "You know I will."
After Garcia left them, JJ sat on the side of the bed next to her best friend. She continued to hold one hand in hers, and used the other to smooth the hair back from his face. He looked so peaceful, he could have been sleeping.
"Hey, Spence. It's me. It's JJ. It's all over now, and everybody is safe. We're all just here, waiting for you to wake up. Which you can do any time now, Spence. All right? You can just….open your eyes, and wake up."
She'd kept stroking his head as she spoke, trying to will him back to consciousness. But he only lay there, eyes closed, unresponsive.
She sat with there for a long while, moving her hands around, alternately stroking his hair, his hands, his cheeks. As she did, she relived every important moment of their relationship, and many that had seemed inconsequential at the time.
The day they'd met. The day she'd baked him that birthday cake, and he'd asked her to the football game. She laughed out loud as she remembered the actual game. And she remembered the times he'd gotten so personally and emotionally involved in a case, and the toll those times had taken on him. She remembered the other times he'd been in grave danger, and somehow survived. She tried to keep her mind on the triumph of his survival, but it wanted to roam further. It brought her to her pregnancy with Henry, and how he'd read every single pregnancy book he could find, and then regaled her with an assortment of interesting and not-so-interesting facts. His investment in her pregnancy had figured heavily into her decision to ask him to be godfather to Henry. She'd known he would leave no fact unresearched, and no resource untapped, for her son.
She tried talking with him again, every so often. She rubbed at his arms, and even tried kissing his cheek. Too many fairy tales with Henry, I guess. But he remained asleep.
Finally, inspiration came to JJ, and she decided on a new approach. She would take one of the books from his messenger bag, and read to him. After all, they say they can hear, even if they're not fully conscious.
As she opened the bag and started to slide out its contents, she caught her breath. There were several books inside, but….. it was the book.
He told me he'd put it away. That day, when we helped him clean up, I noticed it was the only one still out. But, later, when I asked him, he told me that he'd put it away. But he's still carrying it…..
Realization dawned. Oh, Spence….no…..no!
Movement in the doorway caught JJ's eye. Aaron Hotchner stood there, his brow furrowed in deep concern. JJ could tell immediately that he'd been standing there long enough to see her react to the book.
"What is it?"
"I think I know why he's not waking up."
"What do you mean?" Knowing JJ didn't have any medical knowledge beyond the rest of them.
"He doesn't want to."
Hotch didn't understand. "He doesn't want to wake up?"
"He doesn't want to live. Hotch, I think he wants to be with her. I think he wants to be with Maeve."
The unit chief moved into the room, toward his visibly distressed colleague, not understanding where this was coming from. Perhaps her anxiety had caused her to break.
"JJ…..I don't know what to say to that. Where is this coming from?"
She held up the book. "From this. I was going to read to him from one of his books, and I found this in his messenger bag. It's the book Maeve gave him. Hotch, he told me last year that he'd put it away, that it was his way of trying to move forward. But he's carrying it around with him."
He wasn't sure how much credence to give to her idea. "And you think…"
"I think he's on the brink. I think he's deciding…..if he wants to be here…or with Maeve."
She could see that her superior was questioning her rationality at the moment, so she preemptively defended herself.
"Hotch, he's told me about this a thousand times. How our brains can influence our bodies. How our psyche determines our health. I know I can't prove it to you, but I'm sure of it. I'm sure that's what's happening."
He stared at her, considering. What she'd said did sound like a 'Reidism'. But, if she was right, what should they do? He voiced the question to her.
She was relieved that he'd asked. It sounded like he believed her. But she had no response.
"I don't know. I've been trying to talk to him, trying to bring him out, but...if he recognizes my voice, he's not responding to it."
Both of them stood, silent, staring at their unconscious friend. JJ uttered a silent prayer, including Maeve in her plea.
He has too much yet to give….and too much yet to live. Can't you help him see that? Can't you help him see that he needs to let you go?
She wished Maeve could talk to him. If he wouldn't respond to the sound of JJ's voice, maybe he would to the sound of Maeve's. And then….. That's it! It's worth a try, anyway. Thank you…and You…and whoever else needs to be thanked.
JJ abruptly rose from her place at Reid's side and uttered a brief explanation to Hotch as she raced past him.
"I'll be right back. There's something I have to do."
She ran for the elevator, and straight outside. Twenty minutes later, she headed back into the hospital.
Please, please, please, let this work, she prayed all the way up on the elevator.
As she stood in the doorway of his room, JJ smiled. Aaron Hotchner was sitting at the side of Reid's bed, reading aloud from "The Narrative of John Smith."
When he realized she was there, he looked up, a trifle embarrassed.
"I thought it might help."
She smiled. "It might. But I have a more powerful weapon." She held up her cell phone.
"Really. I hope." I pray.
JJ sat down again next to Reid and put the phone next to his ear. When she pressed a button, Hotch immediately understood her plan.
"Hi Uncle Spence! Know what I did in school today? It was joke day! Wanna hear some jokes?"
Then, a long gap, punctuated by, "Mommy, you have to say "Who's there?"
Then JJ's voice. "Oh, okay. Who's there?"
Giggle. "Why are you crying?" Followed by more giggling. "Wanna hear another one, Uncle Spence?"
Hotch and JJ looked at each other, both smiling. Henry's laughter was infectious. But it didn't seem to be having an effect on the boy's godfather.
"Knock, knock. "
JJ's voice again. "Who's there?"
"Lettuce in, it's cold out here." More giggling.
This time Reid thrashed a bit in the bed. But he didn't regain consciousness. JJ left the recording running.
"'nother one, Mommy?"
"Sure, Henry. Go ahead."
"Broccoli." The vegetable Henry and Reid loved to hate. It was a bonding thing for them.
"Broccoli doesn't have a last name, silly! It's a veg-table! A yucky one!"
The profilers watched their colleague in the hospital bed. And there….just…there….a small change in expression. JJ could have sworn it. A slight upraising of the edges of Reid's lips.
The recording played on. "More, Mommy?"
"I think that's enough, honey. But Uncle Spence will love them."
Henry's voice again. "Uncle Spence, Mommy said you're being a sleepyhead. WAKE UP, SLEEPYHEAD!"
At full Henry volume. And then some.
JJ tapped off her phone and remained seated at Spence's side, stroking his arm, sometimes lifting her hand to his cheek.
"You need to come back, Spence. You need to be with us. We need you. Henry needs you. I need you. God knows I can't survive listening to all of Henry's knock-knock jokes by myself. I'll never make it."
She leaned in closer to him, to whisper into his ear. "You can have the rest of time to be together with her. She'll wait for you. I know it. I don't know how I know it, but I do." And she did.
"Come on, Spence. You can do it. Just open your eyes. Just follow my voice, and you can come out of it. Come on…..come on…."
Hotch rose from his seat by the window at the tone of insistence in her voice. It sounded like she thought she'd made a connection. When he reached the bedside, he could see what JJ had seen.
Reid was smacking his lips, and then licking him. His eyelids flickered, but he seemed to have trouble opening them. And then….a croak.
The young blonde profiler at his side burst into pent up tears of relief. She turned to Hotch and interpreted for him. "Broccoli…..yuck." And Hotch broke into a completely uncharacteristic grin.
JJ turned back to her best friend in the bed. "Spencer Reid, if you don't open your eyes this minute, I'm going to have them puree some broccoli and I'm going to spoon feed it to you."
A furious flicker of the lids now, and then a slow, very gradual opening of one eye, and then the other.
JJ beamed. "Hi."
"Hi." His voice was still barely there.
"Do you remember what happened?"
It was another thirty seconds before he responded. He clearly wasn't all the way back yet.
""member …..Blake. No, sheriff….Shot…sheriff."
Hotch took over the conversation now. "That's right. The sheriff was shot, and Blake was trying to help him. When you tried to protect her….you were shot."
JJ squeezed his hand. "Alex says you saved her life, Spence."
His next words made them wonder if he was still in a confused state. "Who's Ethan?"
"What?" JJ took mental inventory of all of the players in this horrible case. She couldn't think of an Ethan among them.
"Ethan. Who is Alex's Ethan?"
It would be days before Hotch would fully understand, but in this moment, he had a sense. He'd seen that Alex was more thrown by this case than even the worry about Reid would account for. He'd even remarked on it to Rossi, who'd noticed it too.
"I can't be sure, because she hasn't shared…..but I think she's questioning if this is the right thing for her. We were talking in the SUV, before the attack, and….well, I just got this sense. You know, my 'spidey-sense'."
It was a long-running joke between the two most senior profilers. And now, with Reid's mention of Ethan, a hypothesis began to form itself in Hotch's mind. He began to prepare himself for what he thought was to come.
The unit chief moved to Reid's bedside, opposite JJ, and patted his hand. "Welcome back. I'm going to go and give the others the news. Think you can manage with JJ?"
Reid smiled. Of course he could.
As Hotch left the room, JJ reached up her hand and cupped Reid's cheek, turning his face to hers.
"You scared me, you know."
"I didn't know….and I thought…..but…..you have time for that, Spence. You'll have all the time you need."
He squinted at her, more alert now, and surprised that she seemed to know what had been going through his brain.
She nodded toward the chair at the window. "The book. I didn't know you still carried it with you."
He looked a little shy at that. "It…it just makes me feel better."
She smiled at him. "I understand. I'm glad you had it, anyway. It's how I knew."
"That you might want to let go. That you might feel like Maeve was calling you."
The fact that he didn't respond told her she'd been right. JJ kept on.
"It's not that I wouldn't want that for you, Spence. It's just that….I guess, at heart, I'm selfish. I want you here, with me. I want you for Henry. I want him to grow up knowing you. So I couldn't let you go."
He did his best to squeeze the fingers that held his. She smiled at the light pressure.
"Why..." She saw his eyes go toward the phone.
"Why did I play that recording for you?"
He barely had the energy to nod.
"Well, I thought….if you thought you were hearing Maeve calling you….I would have to call you, too. With the loudest voice I know."
He laughed. He actually laughed at that. Painfully, and hoarsely. But he laughed.
And so did she. "Henry brought you back, Spence. Well, Henry and his bad knock-knock jokes."
She could see that he was trying to lift his arm, but it kept falling back in exhaustion. Thinking she knew what he'd intended, she took his hand, and brought it to her cheek. His smile told her she'd been right.
"Knock, knock," he croaked.
She squinted at him. This wasn't one of Henry's jokes.
"Isle of who?"
"Isle of you."