A/N: Finally! After all this time, this story is officially finished. I hope it turned out as well as I planned, I hope the end doesn't seem stupid, and I hope it is somewhat believable. To Doc, who thoroughly enjoyed being written as the bad guy, to my crew who are so sick of me bouncing ideas off them this week they could strangle me, but most of all for you guys for sticking with me so long. Sorry, and if you're masochistic enough to read anything else I write, I'll try not to let that happen again. Please review, even if it's just to say "Stick to one-shots!"
Six hours later, Teri sat at her brother's bedside. It had taken 48 stitches to close all her wounds, her six broken ribs were taped, and her wrists bandaged, and the doctor called in to work had been amazed that she had been able to even go through the motions of CPR, let alone do it effectively with all her injuries. She held his hand, talked to him, but she was past the point of being able to cry. He had been dead, had no heartbeat, had to be shocked. She and Doc had saved him.
But Doc had been the one to do this to him. And to her. But he had changed his mind, he had let her go, had saved Trevor. What did that mean? Their friend had killed six people. Had intended to kill them. Had seriously injured one of the FBI agents. Plus Agent Gideon's concussion… She watched Trevor's chest rise and fall under the thin hospital sheet. She was too tired, too hurt, just too damn spent to think about it anymore. She slipped down further in the chair and curled up, pulling a pitiful excuse for a blanket up around her chin, still holding his hand.
"You awake?" a voice whispered from the doorway. She opened her eyes to see Reid standing there.
She sat up a little straighter. "Yeah, I'm awake. "How's Agent Hotchner? I'm sorry I didn't check on him back there, but…"
Reid shook his head. "28 stitches, cuts, bruises, nothing major. And don't worry about it. Triage. Severity of condition. Trevor was your priority."
Teri nodded. "If Hotchner had been worse, I would have gone to him first. I swear."
He smiled. "I know. You're a professional, Teri. You would have done what was right."
Reid sat down. "He was sent to the psychiatric unit at Hazard. He…wasn't in touch with reality."
She nodded. "He thought the Army was telling him to do these things. To protect soldiers like Ben from being hurt."
"That's right. I'm so sorry."
"So why did he stop?"
Reid was afraid she would ask that. He absolutely hated not having the answer, but he honestly didn't know. And he wasn't sure if she wanted to know what he thought. But she was waiting patiently, so he had to say it. "Very rarely, when a person is having a complete psychotic break, they can be reached by someone they care about. That's why they call in loved ones when a situation is devolving."
Teri looked at him and for the first time, her professional demeanor slipped. In that moment, she looked very much like a traumatized young girl. "You mean he stopped, he helped me save Trevor instead of killing us because he cares about us?"
He shrugged. "That would be my belief. I could be wrong though…"
"That would be a first!" Morgan said, standing in the doorway. "Reid being wrong… How's your brother? Any change?"
Teri shook her head. "No. His heart rhythm is stable, he's breathing on his own. The doctor said that there's no way to tell if he has brain damage until he wakes up." She looked down, her face mirroring her brother's in Morgan and Reid's motel room this morning. A scared kid trying to be an adult. "I know the post-arrest statistics. I know he should be dead. And I know that chances are that he'll be in this hospital for the rest of his life. But I don't want to know that, ya know? I don't want to be a paramedic today."
Morgan knew exactly what she meant. He felt that way every time he saw he depth of the pain one of their cases put on someone's face. But not doing this anymore won't take the knowledge away. "You're not going to quit, are you? Law enforcement? The paramedic thing?"
She gave him a weak smile that was way too knowing for her youth. "Does it look like I can quit? What else would I do?"
Morgan smiled back at her. "I know the feeling. I was going to talk you out of it, but you seem to be a step ahead of me."
Glancing up at her brother's heart monitor, her breathing caught as his heart gave 2 abnormal beats. "PVCs," she said almost to herself. "Sign of hypoxia, possible indicator of anoxic brain injury."
Reid looked over at her, watched her staring at the screen. "Did you know that the average person has 15-30 PVCs a day? Those are probably Trevor's usual daily allotment."
The grateful look on her face made Reid blush before she turned to Morgan. "I'm not quitting. Its in my blood." Teri took Trevor's hand again. "Besides, apparently, I'm the acting sheriff until my lazy little brother here gets done napping!"
Morgan patted the kid on the shoulder. She was going to be alright.
The next day, the jet took off at just after noon with a somber group aboard. With the exception of Hotch, who was somewhat drugged from the painkillers and was dozing off, they were all lost in their own thoughts. Gideon watched Hotch carefully, as if he expected him to break, and he was grateful the younger man was asleep. Otherwise he would get irritated with the vigil. Hotch was the type to downplay injuries and refuse any extra attention, and Gideon's excessive concern would greatly annoy him.
But being forced to watch Doc hurt him was a scarring experience. Gideon had experienced physical pain, had felt fear and on occasion thought he was going to die. But watching a team member, a friend in pain as a psychopath broke ribs and fingers, cut gashes into flesh, generally tortured him just to get a reaction Gideon… that was far and away the worst experience ever. He had seen the aftermath of violence, been in a few tight spots, even watched via webcam as Reid was terrorized at the hands of Tobias Henkle, but this was different. This was sitting in the room, hearing the cries without the distortion from speakers, smelling the blood… He had worked some horrible cases, but Clayton, Kentucky would haunt him for a very long time.
Morgan contemplated the paradox that was Teri Mitchell. She was young and impulsive and childish and young, inside and out. She let her emotions get involved way too much. Someday, in a case that didn't involve her brother and her closest friend, that was going to cause her pain. But that was okay, because she knew that and was willing to accept that. And in the end, she was a damn good cop. And paramedic, from what he had seen. He wondered if there was anything he could do to forward her career.
Assuming her brother survived. If he didn't, or if he didn't wake up, she would probably never be able to do her job again. This was the worst part of the job. Not the violence or the people who were killed. The worst part was the people who were left behind to pick up the pieces after the handcuffs were snapped closed and the paperwork was filed. The ones who's lives would never be the same even as the team flew home and they just became a name on a file that was gathering dust. Given time, everyone on this plane would forget Teri and Trevor Mitchell, Doc and Ben, all the other victims. But Teri would never forget them.
His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of a call phone. Reid pulled his out of his pocket. "Hello?" His eyes brightened in surprise and pleasure. "That's wonderful! And he's…? That's amazing! I'm- we're all- so happy for you. Thanks for letting us know." He covered the phone and addressed the team. "Trevor woke up. And he's okay. No brain damage noted!"
Smiles and words of congratulations filled the small plane, getting to the young woman through Reid's phone, then his eyes narrowed in confusion. "I- I don't know. I guess so. I mean, I don't think they would. But why would you-?" He listened for a moment. "Ok. Well, I wish you guys all the best. I was glad to meet you, even though I wish the circumstances had been different." He suddenly turned very red. "Uh…sure. Yeah. Bye, Teri." He snapped the phone shut.
Morgan took in his flush and showed remarkable restraint, holding back for almost three seconds before asking. "What else did she have to say?"
Confusion overshadowed whatever was causing him to blush for the moment. She wanted to know if I thought it would be alright for them to go visit Doc. While he's in the hospital. If there were any rules against it."
Morgan nodded. "I figured as much."
Reid's face scrunched up in bewilderment. "Why would she want to visit him? He tortured her, and almost killed her brother! Not to mention that he killed several others. Whatever she thought he was, he wasn't!"
The senior agent shook his head. "It's not that simple, Reid. He's the closest thing she and Trevor had to a father. And just because he suffered a break from reality doesn't mean he didn't care a lot about them."
"I repeat: He tortured her and almost killed him."
"But he stopped. He abandoned what he thought was his mission to save Trevor. And Trevor going into insulin shock was unexpected. He didn't do that intentionally. And when he saw what was happening, it was enough to break his delusions for a little while. Whatever insanity may be in Doc's mind, he truly cares about those two."
Reid still didn't look convinced. "But the horrible things that he did…"
Morgan looked him right in the eye. He hated to play this card, but Reid truly wanted to understand. "Would you visit Tobias Henkle? Not Raphael, not the old man, the young man who was a prisoner to his delusions. The one who saved you when you were dead."
The youngest profiler didn't answer for some time, and Morgan was starting to worry that his example had gone too far. Finally Reid nodded. "Okay. I think I understand."
Morgan was almost dozing off when Reid spoke up again. "Morgan?"
"Yeah?" he replied, not even opening his eyes.
"Would you think I was crazy if I did? You know, if Tobias had survived. If I visited him, would you think I was unbalanced?"
"Absolutely," Morgan deadpanned, still keeping his eyes shut. "Go to sleep, Reid."
The younger agent smiled, and complied.