Summary: When someone is coming for one of their own, the whole team hurts, which the BAU painfully learns as an unsub seeks revenge in the deadliest way.
A/N: Just a short chapter to hopefully spike some interest… By the way, still not English-speaking!
Another case was over. Another success for the team and the people of the city where their latest serial killer had preyed on innocents. The unsub was no longer unknown, but apprehended and in the hands of the local authorities. Four men had sadly been put to rest, but two others would live on.
The team was in the round table room back at Quantico, summing up their efforts. Constructive criticism was given and received, as were the praise they were due. Their reports were gathered together and they prepared to put the case away to concentrate on whatever would fall into their laps next.
Water bottles and half-empty containers of fried rice, lo mein, shrimp dumplings and other Chinese delicacies littered the table, as the team had shared an amiable and relaxed working lunch.
When they deemed themselves finished with their work, most of them went on to other engagements. JJ needed to smooth over some local feathers that had been ruffled during the team's brusque rampage through the small sheriff's office, Elle had calls to return and Hotchner and Gideon had paper work responsibilities that went far beyond that of the rest of the team's. Morgan and Reid volunteered to stay behind and put the files together for the permanent archive. Reid was quite content from his lunch, but Morgan had found a chocolate bar in his pocket to serve as dessert. He stayed at the table to sort the witness reports in chronological order, while Reid set out to empty the white boards of photos and other displayed documents.
"So," Morgan said amiably, "Who've you got picked for the game tonight?"
"Game?" Reid said absentmindedly, reaching for the eraser.
"The game, Reid. The NBA playoffs? Basketball, you know?"
"I haven't really thought about it."
"And you call yourself an American male," Morgan snorted. "You do know what basketball is, don't you?" He had a large bite of chocolate, caramel and peanuts into his mouth, making his words muffled.
"Hey," Reid said, turning around to face him. "You're the one who keep insisting I know everything, not me."
Reid turned back to his task again and Morgan quietly counted down in his head. Three, two, one…
"Did you know," Reid began and Morgan smiled at his back, before devouring the last of his candy. Reid was nothing if not predictable.
"Did you know that the pre-Colombian people of Mesoamerica actually had a game rather similar to basketball? Only the hoops, or goals, were placed on the long sides of the court and they weren't parallel to the floor, they were parallel to the wall. There's a very well-reserved ball court at Chitzén Itzá, on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The court in itself represented a portal to the underworld and the ball represented the sun, the moon or the stars. Because, of course, it wasn't just a game. Very little in the ancient Mesoamerican cultures are ever separated from religion. The game is represented in the mythology of almost all the Mesoamerican people.
"Both men and women played, but, and here's the tricky part, you were only allowed to use your hips, thighs and upper arms, never your hands or feet, to pass the ball around and to score goals. And the ball weighed 7 or 8 pounds and was really hard and completely solid, and the hoops were 20 feet up in the air. Can you imagine making a shot like that with your thigh?" Reid was really getting into his impromptu lecture
"The game was very violent and the players had to wear a lot of protective gear. There were often serious injuries, and occasionally death. Some bruises were so bad that they had to be cut open, and the blood squeezed out." He grimaced at the thought.
"And on special occasions, after the game, the captain of the losing team or even the captain of the winning team would be sacrificed to the gods. Some references say that the whole winning team would be sacrificed by the hands of the losing team. Kind of backwards, don't you think? Of course, for the Mayans especially, it was an honor to be sacrificed to the gods. For example, there are five days in the Mayan calendar…"
"Don't you ever shut up?" Morgan's voice was hard and cold.
"Excuse me?" Reid turned around, surprised. Morgan usually didn't talk to him with that tone of voice.
"I'm so sick and tired of your constant attention seeking stunts. Why would anyone ever be interested in you bizarre little anecdotes?" He walked closer to Reid, who involuntarily took a step back, unnerved by the spiteful look on Morgan's face. But Morgan followed him, stepping into his personal space, crowding him.
"Morgan? Are you all right? What's wrong?" Reid's eyes shifted around the other man to see if anyone was close enough to help him should it be necessary, but they were alone. For the first time ever he felt unsafe in Morgan's presence. And he had good cause, because suddenly Morgan closed his hand around Reid's throat and pushed him ruthlessly a couple of stumbling steps backwards into the wall.
Reid tried to push him away, his hands braced on Morgan's tense shoulders, but Morgan's larger bulk and the increasing pressure on his windpipe easily kept him plastered to the wall.
"What's wrong?" Morgan was practically growling as he repeated Reid's question with a contemptuous sneer. He closed the tiny distance between them even more, pushing heavily into Reid's body. His breath was hot in Reid's ear as he spoke directly into it.
"I'll tell you what's wrong. You are. You walk around here like the king of the castle, expecting everybody to bow to your superior intellect. You never miss an opportunity to show off, do you? You think you're better than everyone else, don't you?"
"Morgan, I never…" Reid wheezed around his abused windpipe.
"Shut up, for once in your life. I'm talking now," Morgan yelled, his fist tightening as Reid fought to breathe.
Then he unexpectedly pulled back and for a fleeting moment Reid thought that he would let him go, that he would once again be rational. He relaxed marginally, but Morgan wasn't done with him yet. Instead he drew his gun. Reid's eyes grew impossibly large. Was he going to shoot him? But this was Morgan, he would never hurt him. Would he?
"Morgan, let me go. Please…" It wasn't even a whisper, just his lips moving, pleading, hoping to reach his friend.
Morgan let go of Reid's throat, leaving the other man gulping in air, but he didn't take his hand away from him. Instead he gripped his jaw, clenching and digging his fingers into Reid's cheeks. He then brought the gun up to Reid's face and brutally forced it into his mouth in a downwards angle, the barrel coming to rest on Reid's tongue, far back in his mouth.
"Where would you be without your words, huh? Who would ever think twice about you without them?"
The gun felt impossibly large and intrusive and the taste of metal and gun oil was overpowering all of his other senses, encompassing him into a world consisting of black metal and gunpowder. The hole from where he was sure a bullet would soon emerge seemed to grow until he was afraid that it would devour his tongue. His heart was thundering in his chest and it felt like the air he laboriously drew in through his nose was nowhere near enough to sustain him.
His eyes pleaded with Morgan to stop, to step back, to return to normal, to become his Morgan again. A thousand thoughts crowded his head, memories of card games, slaps on the back, shared jokes, shared sorrows. This couldn't be happening!
His lips were closed around the gun as Morgan's unforgiving fingers dug into his cheeks painfully, forcing Reid's head back and making his teeth scrape against the metal in his mouth. His body still held Reid firmly in place, and Reid was too scared to struggle. He didn't want the gun to go off.
"Or maybe…" Morgan said, abruptly changing the angle of the gun. The metal scraped against his teeth with a drawn-out sound that reverberated through his skull as the barrel struck hard against the roof of his mouth, causing his head to bang into the wall behind him.
"Maybe I'll just put us all out of our misery."
Reid's panicked eyes sought out Morgan's eyes, but he did not see his friend in them. They were glossy, almost feverish, and he looked wild. The gun was trembling slightly in his hand and it kept irritating Reid's gag reflex, which he was having a hard time controlling.
"What will your precious brain be worth, huh, splattered all over the wall?"
The sound of the safety being released was the loudest thing Reid had ever heard.