Sitting on the front steps of the Hankel house, Morgan hoped the cold night air would wake him up. He was sipping a cup of coffee. It was burnt and way too strong, even for his taste, but he thought it would help him clear his mind. He, Prentiss, and Hotch had spent hours looking through Tobias Hankel's journals, searching for clues as to where he might have taken Reid. Garcia and JJ were looking for clues on Hankel's computer.
Every time Derek looked at Jason Gideon, he was staring into space. Derek figured Gideon was pondering the case and would soon arrive at some great insight. The mind of the BAU's senior profiler was an enigma he stopped trying to understand long ago.
Although he hadn't had any alcohol, Morgan felt drunk. He couldn't remember the last time he'd actually slept. Since Reid had been taken hostage, he'd only taken occasional cat naps. The girls went to bed at night, at least for awhile, and got some sleep. Gideon, Hotch and he had pretty much been awake throughout. Derek couldn't imagine sleeping in this creepy place, anyway. It reminded him of the house in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." He saw the movie when he was a kid and it scared the wits out of him. "That should have warned me about getting into this business," he mused.
The Hankel house was in a remote area of Georgia. They were somewhere down a dirt road, miles from the nearest town. As he took another swig of his coffee, Derek wondered, jokingly, how far he would have to drive to find a Starbucks. He hated the murky darkness out here. There was a small light on the arc of the barn roof. It slightly illuminated the driveway and cast an eerie light into the cornfield beyond. It made the stalks of corn look menacing. To a bleary eyed Morgan, they looked like ghostly figures as they changed shape in the breeze.
The sounds bothered him, too. Raised in Chicago, he was used to the sounds of the city. The incessant chirping of the damned crickets, and the stinking owl he heard every ten seconds or so, were driving him crazy. "Hoot." He heard the owl in the woods behind the house. "Show yourself, you little bastard, and I'll be happy to shoot you." Rubbing his eyes, he realized his own absurdity.
Derek wished he had been the one who had come out here to investigate. Tobias would never have been able to take him hostage. He knew he could easily overpower a man of Hankel's size and weight, even if he did have a weapon. Morgan taught self-defense classes at headquarters and was skilled in judo. But poor Reid, hell, he couldn't fight JJ.
Thinking of JJ, he was still blown away. Three dogs, three shots! Morgan wasn't even sure if he could shoot like that. "Go, girl! Amazing what you can do when you're about to be ripped up and eaten alive," he thought cynically. It will be something she can tell her shrink about for years.
He was ashamed of how coldly he'd treated JJ earlier tonight. When she was feeling guilty about Reid, she went to Derek for reassurance. Reid getting captured wasn't her fault. He knew that. She was hurting; he should have given her a hug and consoled her. He was so worried and drained, he couldn't find it in him. Maybe she would be able to forgive him. He wouldn't blame her if she didn't.
Morgan closed his eyes. He felt his body sway slightly. He shook his head from side to side and forced his eyes open. Slowly, he took several deep breaths of cool air and drank the last of his coffee.
Damn you, kid. It was crazy taking the chance you did. Why didn't you wait for us? The images of Reid being tortured haunted him. The welts and bruises on Reid were horribly evident on Hankel's videos. To Morgan, hurting Reid seemed as cruel as stomping on a butterfly.
As much as they joked, teased and antagonized each other, Derek and Spencer Reid were as close as any brothers. Derek couldn't protect his weaker sibling. Tears of frustration began to trickle down his face. He was too tired to wipe them away, and suddenly, he was grateful for the darkness.
As he struggled to compose himself, Morgan focused on the job he had to do. He had to keep his mind straight and go back into the house. He had to continue searching through Hankel's diaries, for Reid, for any clue that would help the team find him. But damn, he didn't want to delve into that lunatic's mind again. The thought of it made his head ache.
Morgan was about to get up when he felt familiar arms slip around his neck. Her long hair brushed against his cheek, as she hugged him from behind. "You okay?" Her voice was soft in his ear.
She sat down on the step beside him. Slipping her arm in his, she rested her head on his shoulder. In this dark place, he was comforted by her touch. It reminded him there was a beautiful part of his life. "Yeah, I just needed a break."