Disclaimer: do not own.
Walking through the dark cemetery after two nights no sleep her pulse is racing, heart fluttering deep inside her chest, the cold air suffocating, escalating her already heightened state of anxiety. She can hear her colleagues alternately calling Reid's name into the night, pausing after each shout to listen for an answer - something, anything to tell them Reid is still alive. Hoping like hell he's managed to escape the small shack they disappointingly discovered empty.
"Reid!" Emily takes her turn in the unending chorus and prays for a response.
There's no answer.
Images from the video feed of him handcuffed to a chair, hurt and scared as a revolver is discharged inches from his head flick through her mind. She shakes them off. That is not going to be the last time she sees him alive. It's just not. Unfortunately Emily already knows his soft sobs as he tried so hard to keep it together, knowing they were watching, will haunt her forever, no matter how this ends tonight.
A gun shot resounds in the distance drawing everyone's attention; Hotch immediately raises his fist in the air bringing them to a halt, silencing their worried chatter.
"This way" she hears his emotion filled raw voice carry over the low breeze that sweeps periodically through the old cemetery.
Looking directly at him to make sure it really was Hotch who'd spoken its only then she realises he isn't wearing his jacket. A thin blue dress shirt and vest all the protection he has from the freezing cold February evening. Most of them searching had grabbed coats at least, but it seems Hotch - and Morgan apparently giving him a quick look - had been in such a hurry to get to Reid they forwent any preparations to protect themselves from the elements. As she races down the hill after both of them Emily briefly wonders, considering the pairs base line personalities, if that's a form of unconscious self-torture, guilt for not protecting Reid from the hands of a psychotic killer.
Reaching the bottom the next call of Reid's name comes with a sigh of barely contained relief because there he is, kneeling beside a body and Emily's heart jumps into her throat. Reid's alive. As they close in she can see the shovel lying next to the shallowly dug hole, gun and knife in the dirt mere feet away. It doesn't take a 187 IQ to put the pieces together of what happened. Hotch has to have seen the half dug grave too, but he ignores it all in favour of reaching Reid. He's at his side first, hands reaching out to help him stand. Emily goes to his other side, placing her hand on Reid's arm confirming it really is him and not an apparition her mind has felt the need to invent in order to deal with an unthinkable reality.
Reid is dazed as he looks between them, but doesn't seem surprised by their sudden appearance, only relieved. They both help him up, and for a second when Hotch asks if he's alright she thinks he might try and claim to be fine, but then turns out of her grasp and latches onto Hotch like his sanity depends on it.
"I knew you'd understand" Reid whispers, voice full of emotion as he loops thin arms around their unit chiefs neck.
Hotch reacts instinctively, quickly masking his flicker of surprise from the unexpected contact and returns the hug with as much feeling as it's given. She watches the scene as if it unfolds in slow motion, Hotch briefly closing his eyes as both his arms manage to wrap fully around the slim body, crushing Reid against his much larger chest. Her own mask slips for a second, the control she's managed to maintain shattered by heartache from seeing him so broken and vulnerable. Emily has no doubt as Hotch holds him tight that Reid is holding back tears, behind them Morgan looks like he might cry too, then Hotch steps back and hands Reid over to JJ. The other members of the search party scatter and Emily moves into the background, when JJ eventually lets go Gideon closes in, taking hold of Reid ready to walk him back to the cars. Looking around the scene she sees Hotch leaving, his silhouette all that's left of him as he makes his way back up the hill. Checking that Morgan and Gideon have things under control she quickly follows, climbing with large strides to the top of the hill where she finds him addressing the paramedics Detective Farraday already called to the scene. She hangs back in the shadows listening to him describe the situation, advising them that Reid has been held for three days, beaten and tortured but his full mental and physical state are unknown, leaving them under no doubt they are to tread with the utmost caution. Hotch then steps away and Emily thinks he's heading back down. Preparing to back track herself so it doesn't look like she's been ease dropping, she's surprised when he deviates to the left, walking around the back of the tiny shack to where they'd parked their cars. Following him once again she's surprised for the second time tonight when she catches him leaning, hands flat against the hood of the SUV, head hanging in defeat between hunched shoulder blades, taking several deep calming breaths.
Torn between moving silently away or saying something to address the issue Emily chooses to be bold. She remembers the last time she stuck her nose into Hotch's business and got burned for it, but that time there had been mitigating circumstances, involving her mother. So, confident in her skills of reading a situation she decides to risk the same reaction again and steps forward.
"He's okay you know." She announces softly, stepping out of the shadows on Hotch's left.
He startles, something Emily doesn't think she's seen him do before, and looks her dead in the eye. He clearly wants to challenge her, ask why she's there, say something, anything that will distract from his compromising position, but Emily stands firm.
"You understood his message, you saved him." She emphasizes, stepping closer.
Hotch shakes his head, wiping a hand over his face as if to remove any emotion that might still be showing through his trademark glare, telling her he doesn't believe it.
"Reid chose you to send the message to for a reason, he trusted you." She looks desperately back at the tree line, knowing that Gideon and Morgan will be bringing Reid up any minute she decides to be blunt, even if it means giving more of herself away than she'd prefer to. "It's not over, you know that. He's going to need you to be strong for him."
Emily hopes her long hard look communicates the rest. It feels mean pushing this burden on him, but even though she's not been with the team long she knows the dynamics. Reid will eventually sense Hotch blaming himself for what happened and he doesn't need that guilt on top of everything else. How he's treated in the next few hours will make all the difference in his recovery and if they mess it up they'll lose him for good anyway. Emily's damned if she'll let that happen, not after he's fought so hard to stay alive.
Hotch doesn't smile, but something seems to settle on his face all the same. Behind them she can hear voices and he follows her gaze over the three people who emerge from the cemetery grounds. Professional mask back in place he raises his head confidently and walks away without a word.
Well thank you for reading;) Any questions you need answering for where I'm going with this feel free to ask, but as a general rule I write to cannon as far as possible in terms if content plus family, fluff and friendship with a bit of drama, H/C and angst thrown in. I generally don't write anything that requires a strong warning at the top, though the odd naughty word might make its way through. Chocolate for example is extremely naughty.