Acknowledgments: I don't own any of the characters. I promise I'll return them in one piece.well maybe two. Forgive me?
Rage, Rage (Morgan POV)
I don't care how sick the man is; when I get my hands on Tobias Hankel, I'm going to see to it that he spends the rest of his life eating through a straw. That's assuming, of course, that he lives long enough to eat. What I wouldn't give to have a nice clean kill on this one. While I firmly believe in bringing perps in alive to face justice, by messing with my boy, Reid, Hankel has made it personal and I want his head.
My jaw clenches and unclenches as I stare at the road straight ahead. "I hope he resists arrest," I hear myself admitting to the others before I think ahead enough to edit myself. I know they're probably all thinking the same thing, but by saying it I've given Hotch a very valid reason to pull me from the case. Truth be told, I'm not sure that I'll be able to stop myself from taking the shot if the opportunity arises.
"Did you know that is precisely why surgeons aren't allowed to operate on their own families? Their personal involvement makes them more prone to making judgments in error or taking chances they wouldn't normally take," I can actually hear Reid's voice in my head. I start to smile before I realize that he really isn't in the back seat, eager to fill us in on all the statistics and trivia involved in the matter. And that he might never be there again if we don't find him quickly. He's already living on borrowed time. I can't get the image of Hankel pointing a gun at Reid's head and pulling the trigger again and again out of my head.
I glance sidelong at Hotch riding shotgun, expecting that he will give me at least an obligatory reprimand, but he doesn't even acknowledge that I've spoken. His face is a stony mask and I can't help but wonder if he might be the one of us who takes the shot, himself. I know he thinks of Reid as a son, as does Gideon. I glance in the rearview mirror and note that while our senior profiler is watching me intently, he doesn't appear to disapprove of my inappropriate comment. He probably does, actually, but the look he's giving me says that he trusts me to make the right decision when the time comes. I can't meet his eyes and return my gaze to the road. He has more faith in my moral compass than I do.
I wonder what it is about Reid that makes us all so protective of him. So drawn to him. Is it just that he's so young? He's not really that much younger than me. Yet there's something so vulnerable and...innocent about him. Garcia was right when she called him that; Hankel was going to have to dig deep to find the punishable sin he needs to justify a kill. I pray that just maybe that will keep the kid alive until we can get to him.
The drive to Marshall Parish seems like the longest damn twenty-five minutes I've ever experienced. What if we don't get there in time? What if we get there and Hankel's sick game of Russian Roulette has ended with my boy's brain splattered all over the wall?
The car swerves slightly as that thought enters my mind. I force myself to concentrate solely on the road.
And still no one speaks until we're approaching the destination.
"It's the next left, Sugarcakes," Garcia informs me over the radio, her voice tense; the moniker purely out of habit than actual flirtation. While the idea of being in the field doesn't appeal to her, she made it quite clear that there was no way she was staying behind at Hankel's while the rest of us went to bring our boy home. She and JJ are following the rest of us with Farraday and his crew.
"Almost there, baby," I answer back, though in my mind it isn't Garcia I am assuring. I kill the lights and the engine as I make the turn and coast in as quietly as possible. Much as I want to go in with guns blazing, giving Hankel any warning might get Reid killed.
The SUV hasn't even stopped before Hotch is out and headed toward the cabin with Gideon and Prentis on his heels. No way are they going in without me. I pull on my vest and draw my gun while on the move. JJ, Det. Farraday, and his crew fall into place bringing up the rear. Garcia has promised to stay back until Hankel is secured.
Hotch doesn't bother with the traditional 'on three', opting to skip over the count entirely and simply calling out, "Go!" as he kicks in the door. I can see the absolute fury in his eyes and for a split second I hope that Hankel is right there and will get one of Hotch's bullets right between the eyes. I have no doubt that Hotch will pull the trigger the moment Hankel is in his sights.
Which is why I push past him.
I love Reid and I can't promise that I won't take the shot, either, but Hotch is a good man, and he's got a family to support. I can't let him ruin his career.
I, on the other hand, can afford to start over.
"FBI!" I announce as I burst in and immediately begin scoping the room, my weapon at the ready. Aside from the now-empty chair and the belt and handcuffs that had imprisoned my friend, I see nothing. I'm fairly disappointed to announce, "Clear," and am even more so when Hotch echoes me from the other side of the cabin.
I lower my gun, though I'm still on alert. Where are they? I turn to take another look around the small cabin hoping that I've missed something. My gaze lingers on Reid's shoes and stop completely on the lone sock that has been abandoned. My brow furrows as I stare at it. What is he supposed to do with only one sock? I can't look away, so finally I stoop down and pick it up, clenching it in my fist for a few moments before I tuck it into my pocket for safe keeping. Reid will need it. I have to make sure he gets it.
I cough slightly as I become aware of the rancid odor permeating the room. Damn, Reid, what the hell did this guy subject you to? I feel my eyes beginning to water a little bit as I recognize the scents of blood and sweat underlying the pungent stench of something rotting. I cough again as I look around the filthy cabin for the source.
"What's that smell?" Prentiss asks the question we're all wondering. And then I spot it. Fish guts. Gross. I cough again and cover my nose.
"Let's spread out. They have to be on foot," Hotch barks. "Let's go!"
He doesn't have to tell me twice. I can't get away from the horrible little dungeon of a cabin fast enough. Besides, all I want to do now is find Reid, make sure he's safe, and kill the son of a bitch that hurt him.
Hankel's truck is still here, and it wouldn't make any sense for them to have walked the road, so I head instead further into the graveyard. I can hear others spreading out behind me, heading in various directions. I want so badly to yell out for Reid, but we can't afford to tip off Hankel too soon. We probably shouldn't even be using the flashlights, but time is of the essence.
The farther into the cemetery we venture, the more uneasy I feel. My stomach feels like it's risen to my throat and my heart…my heart keeps sinking. There's only one reason I can think of that Hankel would bring Reid out here. There'd be less distance for him to carry the…body. I feel bile trying to rise. He's not dead. He can't be. But he needs his shoes. I should have brought them for him.
Come on Reid, give us a sign, I silently plead as I pick up my pace a little bit.
I almost miss it. By rights I should have. The material is dark burgundy and it is lying in the shadow of a tombstone. But I'd know it anywhere. Reid was here. And for some unknown reason he took off his sweater vest. I don't know why that upsets me so, except that Reid is so private. He barely likes taking his jacket off in front of people, let alone his sweater. Or his dress shirt. I swallow a lump in my throat as I spot that on the ground a few feet away. Why the hell was Reid taking off his clothes? Was it by choice? Maybe he was trying to leave us a trail? Or was Hankel making him disrobe? My heart clenches as I imagine Reid's trembling fingers fumbling to unbutton that shirt as Hankel aims the gun at his head.
As I stoop to pick up the shirt I notice something...the dirt here has been disturbed recently. A fresh grave. Right where Reid's clothing has been left.
"Reid?" I call out, hoping that I'm wrong. He isn't dead. He can't be. I'd know it. "Reid can you hear me?"
"Did you find him?" Hotch asks as he runs toward me.
"I…" I shake my head, swearing I can feel the blood rushing from my face. "I think he's…" I can't even say the words. I don't have to, Hotch is staring at the mound of dirt, looking stricken. I spot a shovel lying just a few feet away. I grab it up and begin frantically working. My arms quickly grow tired, but I refuse to give up. If he's here…there's no time to waste. Hotch paces beside the grave, clearly wanting to help, but since he didn't have a shovel of his own, he'd only be in the way, slowing me down.
"Reid?!" I call out every couple minutes, hoping that he'll hear me. The others are all aware now of our plight, but they're continuing the search, in case I'm wrong. I hope to God I am. Thinking of Reid being trapped…alone…in the dark. He must be so scared. I wipe sweat from my brow and renew my efforts.
I'm nearing exhaustion by the time I finally hit something solid. Oh please, God, let him be okay. "Spence?" I call softly this time, more afraid than I can remember being my entire life. I clear the rest as quickly as I can and toss the shovel aside. I don't even have to ask, Hotch is already there, kneeling down to help me open the coffin. Together we lift the lid.
"Spence?" I whisper, my voice suddenly failing me as my sight falls upon Reid's pale figure. My eyes are drawn first to his bared and bruised foot. He needs his sock. For an insane moment I can't think about anything else. I start to reach into my pocket for it, but am distracted as I look up and notice the gouges in the coffin lid. Feeling suddenly panicked, I look to his hands. His long graceful fingers are bloody and torn. Oh, damn. He must have been so scared. Despite their horrendous state, I want to hold his hands, take that fear away. I would, except that I'm too scared to touch him. Afraid I'm going to hurt him even worse.
Except then I realize that I can't hurt him any worse. He's not moving. He's not breathing.
And suddenly I can't either. I swear it even feels like my own heart has stopped beating along with Reid's. Forgetting my own fear, I gather him into my arms and pull him from the grave, tears rolling down my cheeks unchecked. Reid's body is completely limp, his long arms and legs dangle lifelessly from my own. But he's still warm. Dear God, he's still warm. Hotch helps me lower him to the ground and I sense the others approaching. I tune out their gasps and mournful cries focusing only on the body in my arms. I absently brush the blood and sweat dampened hair away from his face, letting my fingers trail along his soft cheek. His skin is dewy and warm. He can't have been…gone long. Maybe there's a chance?
I tilt his head back and lower my lips to his. Except that I can't breathe. I can't...
"Spence…" I manage to whisper as I look helplessly at his pale face then at Hotch. Do something! I plead silently with him.
Hotch looks nearly as stricken as I feel, but he nods and takes my place, nudging me gently out of the way. I feel a hand on my shoulder and feel myself being guided away. Without even looking, I know that it's Gideon.
"Breathe," I hear Hotch encouraging Spence at the same time that Gideon tries to persuade me to do the same. I close my eyes, unable to bear watching anymore. Reid's gone. I can't believe he's gone. I'm going to hunt Hankel to the ends of the earth and rip him limb from limb, I swear to God.
"That's it, breathe…"
My eyes open as I hear those words. Could it be?
"I knew you'd understand," I hear a soft whisper and
I can breathe again.
A/N: Thanks for reading. Feedback is highly appreciated!! Constructive criticisms are welcomed, but please don't flame.