Disclaimer: Sadly I don't own these characters. I'm only borrowing them and will return them mostly intact.
A/N: This is my first attempt at a Criminal Minds fic. I haven't entirely decided if it's a one-shot or if it is the beginning of a long fic, so I hope that some of you will review and let me know what you think and whether I should continue with a longer story.
Summary: "I ought to bury you alive in there; give you time to think about what you done." What happens when that's exactly what Tobias does? A/U from Revelations.
Dylan Thomas once wrote, "Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Though I know it is highly improbable, I swear that I can not only hear but actually feel the dirt raining down upon my coffin.
A solitary tear trickles down my cheek and I suspect there would be many more to follow were my body not so depleted. Between the sweat and the tears I have expelled far more liquid than what Tobias has allowed me to consume and I suspect that the drugs in my system have amplified the problem. I try to swallow, but my mouth and throat are simply too dry. I try not to worry about the effects severe dehydration has on a body. It doesn't matter, really, since I will more than likely not live long enough to feel my organs begin to shut down.
By my estimation, my coffin is 6.5 feet by 2.25 feet by 1.5 feet, leaving very little space for anything other than my own body. The casket is made of cedar, which is a highly porous wood, and is of quite shoddy craftsmanship. I can see a few tiny spots where moonlight is peeking through and know that as long as I can see that light, my air supply is being replenished. Unfortunately, if my calculations are correct--and despite my somewhat addled state I am fairly certain that they are--there will soon be approximately 84 cubic feet of dirt covering my tiny prison. As more dirt is tossed into the grave, it will pack down the dirt beneath it, making it far less permeable and cutting off my oxygen supply. Once that happens, I will likely have only about twenty minutes before I begin to suffocate.
"Tobias?" I manage to croak, licking my overly dry lips nervously. Unless the team caught the subtle clues I tried to feed them and beat the odds to find me in time, my best chance for survival is to appeal to the youngest of my captor's identities. He genuinely seems to want to help me, misguided as he may be. Though he may be too frightened to let me out of the box, at least he is likely to stop burying me, buying me a little more time. Regrettably, it is not Tobias who currently holds the shovel. I lick my lips and try again. "Tobias can you hear me?" My only answer is the sound of the shovel collecting another load of dirt.
I can feel my heart rate speeding up and close my eyes, concentrating on not letting myself panic. When one panics, one breathes faster and consumes oxygen at a much higher rate than when breathing normal. Therefore, I must maintain calm. If possible, I should try to sleep as that will consume the oxygen at the slowest rate. Still I fear that if I do fall asleep, I will never wake up.
I slowly count to ten before I open my eyes. I am disconcerted to notice that my coffin has become completely dark. I hear the thump as another shovelful of earth is heaped upon my casket. The soil is starting to pack and the endgame is in play.
"Tobias, please help me," I plead, my voice hoarse and possibly not loud enough for him to hear. Regardless, he does not answer.
He wants me to think about my sin, about my failure as a son, but I don't need the time to think about it. I understand now. I deserve this. I did not honor my mother. Just as I betrayed my mother and left her to suffer alone in a sanitarium, I am being left. I wrote to her every day to relieve my guilt, but in the end it took her being in danger for me to put aside my…my shame before I could bring myself to face her. I love my mother, but I hid her from my peers out of sheer cowardice. It is not so much that I did not want them to know that she is ill except that schizophrenia is genetically passed and…I want them to like me. I have never fit in before, and I did not want anything to ruin that. So that is my sin.
I just want to live lone enough to atone for it.
"Raphael," I make one last attempt to connect with the man sealing my fate. "O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life," I quote knowing that it is likely futile to convince him of my salvation, but it is my only hope.
And it is an empty one, I realize as soon all noise outside my prison ceases.
The only sound I can hear is the wild beating of my heart.
I shiver and regret having shed my sweater and dress shirt while digging even though I know that the chill I feel is not actually an indication of the actual temperature.
I feel suddenly dizzy, though I know it is far too soon for me to be feeling the effects of asphyxiation. Perhaps I am more dehydrated than I calculated. Tobias let me have that last drink of water, but I no doubt eliminated more than that amount of liquid as I was forced to dig my own grave.
Still, I suspect that the dizziness is a manifestation of my fear.
I can not panic. I close my eyes and focus on keeping my breathing slow and steady.+
The team will find me. Hotch will not have forgotten the conversation we had about narcissists, and he'll know I am trying to give them a clue. It won't take long for him to look up the passage and deduce that I am in a cemetery.
But will they find me in time? Will they have understood my hint about poachers?
And what if they weren't watching when the camera was turned back on? Garcia might have been away from her desk, or might have been working on a database search or something. Or even if she watched it, what are the odds that Hotch was actually there watching? It's not like they all would be sitting around just watching and waiting for Tobias to turn the camera on again. I have to believe, though, that Garcia saw it.
I have to have faith.
Garcia would warn Hotch right away. I sentenced him to die. Would she understand that I was only trying to send him a message? Would she spare him knowing that I condemned him as a narcissist and only tell him that he is in danger? Her well-meaning obfuscation might well sign my death warrant.
I can't breathe.
I try to call out to Tobias, but I can't even form the words. I lick my lips, but there is absolutely no moisture to be found. The best I can do is make a strangled whimper that sounds like a wounded animal's death cry.
I reach hesitantly to knock on the cedar lid. I know it is not a logical gesture, that even in the unlikely event that Tobias can hear my knock he will ignore it. But I knock. And knock again, pounding harder. I gasp for air, and throw more of my body into it. Maybe I can break my way out. Except that I know I can't. Even if I were much stronger like Morgan or Hotch I wouldn't be able to. The laws of physics are working against me, and it is illogical to keep exerting myself. I'm only using up precious oxygen. I have to stop and relax.
But I can't. I have to get out of the box. I'm going to die. I can't breathe!
My pounding turns to clawing. I know I should stop. Even if I manage to break open the lid, it will only bring the dirt crashing down upon me, crushing me immediately at best or suffocating me slowly at worst. I won't be able to move. Still, knowing that does not stop my need to fight. I will not go gently.
I scream a pitiful yawp as I feel the fingernails and skin on my fingers tearing as they fumble against the unyielding wood. I ignore the warm trickle of blood as it dribbles down my wrists and forearms and continue my futile task until finally my arms grow too heavy, and I begin to feel lightheaded. Is it the suffocation or is it the dehydration that is causing it?
If it's dehydration, I finally have a means to quench it. I lower my bloody fingers to my mouth and wet my lips, my tongue, ignoring the coppery taste. I feel sick but ignore it as I swallow, relieving my parched throat. It doesn't even begin to quell my thirst, nor do I feel any less dizzy.
I wish I had a way to say goodbye. But where would I even start? I want to thank the team for including me. Morgan, Garcia, thank you for teasing me even when I never get the jokes. JJ, thank you for calling me Spence when no one else ever does. Hotch, I'm so sorry I picked you to die, I didn't mean it, you're like the big brother I always wanted. And Gideon, you've been more of a father to me than my own ever was. Thank you for believing in me. I've been an outsider all my life but through them I finally understand what it is to have a real family.
My heart sinks as soon as I complete that thought. It is exactly why I deserve this fate.
Mother, I am sorry I did not honor you as I should.
My breath is becoming shallow. It can't have been twenty minutes, but then my calculations were based on estimates. I lie completely still, hoping that I can make the air last just a few minutes longer.
I can feel my body beginning to tingle.
Did you know that the urge to breathe is caused by rising carbon dioxide levels in the blood rather than diminishing oxygen levels? If there isn't enough carbon dioxide, though, a person can become hypoxic without even knowing it. They can just slip easily into unconsciousness and never wake.
I begin to feel absurdly euphoric and smile as I swear I hear angels calling my name.
Calling me home.
This is it.
As death takes me I feel a sudden rush of air cooling my body. I feel an angel gathering my body into its arms and lifting me from my grave, carrying me to salvation. I want to open my eyes to greet him, but my lids are yet too heavy.
"Spence," a distant voice calls to me and I feel…safe and loved.
I feel hands stroking my hair, then caressing my cheek. And then I feel soft lips press down upon my own. The angel begins blowing air into my oxygen starved body. And I feel drops of rain hit my cheek.
Not rain but tears, I realize as the angel pleads, "Breathe…"
And so I do. Gasping frantic breaths that turn into coughs that wrack my entire body. "That's it…breathe," the voice encourages and I feel a hand stroking my hair again until I settle into calm steady breaths.
I open my eyes and realize that for the second time in one day I have been resurrected. I smile with relief and whisper, "I knew you'd understand…"
And Aaron Hotchner smiles back at me, mindless of the tears that adorn his normally stoic face.