Disclaimer: I own nothing, except maybe the paramedic girl, and I really think Clay County EMS actually owns her. Don't tell them I borrowed her, OK?
Author's note: This story is dedicated to Dewayne and Revelle, my Gideon and Hotch. Dewayne had a heart cath Monday after having a cardiac episode on duty. Anyone out there who prays, they'd appreciate the prayers. We hope he gets better soon. We all need him back and healthy!
There was more than a hint of panic in Spencer Reid's voice. "Just hang on, Gideon! It's going to be okay. Just take it easy!"
Gideon smiled, despite the hand clutching his chest to fight the crushing pain. "Reid, your blood pressure is going to be higher than mine. Calm down. It's not going to help anyone if we both die from heart attacks out here in the middle of nowhere."
The younger agent's eyes went wide. "You're not going to die!"
Fighting another wave of nausea, Gideon trudged along the rocky path back to the car, Reid clutching his arm for dear life. Why in the hell were the people they needed to talk to always out in the middle of nowhere? Another wave of pain shot through his chest and he fought hard not to groan. His breath caught, and it felt like there was a three hundred pound weight crushing him.
Reid fumbled in vain with shaking hands, trying to call 911 on the cell phone, but they were way out of cell phone range. He looked over at Gideon. The older man was pale as a ghost, dripping with sweat, yet he felt cold under Reid's fingers. The pulse was pounding so hard it was visible in his neck. Reid counted it just from sight and got 95. This was not good.
His friend, his mentor, his surrogate father was having a heart attack. Out here, in the woods, in the middle of nowhere. With no one but Reid to help. His IQ, doctorates, reading 20,000 words a minute were useless as a broken arm. There was nothing he could do for the older man. If the roles were reversed, Gideon would know what to do. If nothing else, The senior agent could throw Reid over his shoulder and carry him out of the woods. At least they were almost to the car. At least, he thought they were. He wasn't exactly the best person to have with you in the woods. Had they passed that tree before? He didn't think so. Wouldn't he remember that rock formation? It seemed his photographic memory was on the fritz.
Gideon took in Reid's appearance. The young man was as red as Gideon was pale, and also sweating. Hopefully from exertion. Gideon wasn't sure what it would take for an otherwise-healthy 25-year-old to worry themselves into a heart attack, but he hadn't been joking earlier. If Reid freaked out, he was as good as dead. Was this the way back to the car? God, he hoped Reid knew where he was going! He struggled not to let any of his doubt show on his face. If Reid saw that he had less than one hundred percent faith in him, what little faith Reid had in himself would crumble, and they were both lost.
His steps were becoming weaker and he was getting dizzy. It was a losing battle to get enough oxygen, and black spots were appearing in his vision. This is how it was going to end. They were lost in the woods, no way to call for help. The boy he thought of as his own son, the one he had trained, guided, helped through some very dark times was going to have to watch him die. In the end, he was going to become one more painful scar on Spencer Reid's heart. The one thing he struggled to never do was cause the boy pain, but he couldn't help it this time. He only hoped Spencer would forgive him.
He sank first to his knees, then fell back against a nearby tree. "Get up Gideon! Please! We have to get out of here and get you help and I'm sorry but I'm not strong enough to carry you, maybe if Morgan was here we could but I'm not strong enough alone…" Tears were pouring down Reid's face, and Gideon's metaphorical heart ached as bad as his actual one at how badly he was hurting his friend.
"Spencer," he began, gasping to get the precious air needed to say what he had to say. "I've enjoyed working with you…so much. You're a fine…young man…You're father was an asshole, and an idiot…I'd have been so proud to call you…son." Reid fell to his knees beside his friend, tears falling unchecked. "I'm so proud of you…" One last gasp allowed him to say what he needed to. "Love you."
With that, the older profiler faded into darkness, hearing Reid's desperate pleas fading further away. "Gideon! Stay with me! Don't go! Gideon! Jason!"
That last one had to be a dream. Reid never called him by his given name.
To say the least, Gideon was surprised to wake up in a hospital room. Actually, he was surprised to wake up at all. In the physical sense, anyway. He was fairly this wasn't the afterlife, as in the afterlife, he was sure he wouldn't need this oxygen tube in his nose. And he probably wouldn't hurt so bad. It felt like he had been kicked in the chest by a horse. As he was assessing all this, he heard a soft snore. Glancing in the direction of the sound, he saw Reid asleep. Somehow in violation off all the laws of physics, the young man had managed to fold his entire frame into two of the waiting room chairs. That was going to hurt in the morning.
His light brown hair fell in his face, and he looked half his age. When he whimpered slightly and squirmed around from one nightmare or another, Gideon called out to him. "Reid? Reid, are you awake?"
The other man's head jerked up as if on a string. "Gideon? Do you need something? Are you okay?"
Knowing the damage it would do to Reid's self-esteem to know he woke him up to get him out of a nightmare, he ignored the urge to ask the boy the same question. "Just confused. What happened? Thought I was dead." He swallowed. His throat was sore. "Water?" he asked, sounding like he had swallowed a turtle.
Reid was on his feet in an instant, pouring a small cup from the pitcher on the night table. "They had to put a tube in your throat to help you breathe. You…died…for a few seconds. They had to shock you and everything. The paramedics on the scene saved you. They were my age, Gideon, a pretty little red-headed girl and her brother. They saved you and I didn't even know what to do!"
Taking a drink of the water, Gideon studied his friend, contemplating the question on his mind. "What happened after I passed out? How did the paramedics find us?"
Reid looked at the floor. "I…I left to go find the car. We were almost there, weren't actually lost at all. When I got there, I had one bar of service. I dialed 911, told them where we were, grabbed your first aid kit and hurried back to you. I swear I wasn't gone ten minutes." The tears were falling again. "There was aspirin and Nitroglycerine in the first aid kit. I got you kinda with it and put one of each under your tongue. I just didn't know what else to do." He finally looked up. "I'm so sorry I left you, but I didn't have a choice. You would have died if I hadn't!" He took a shuddery breath, not unlike the ones Gideon had forced in earlier. "You did anyway! You just got better. If that girl hadn't done her paramedic stuff, you'd have stayed dead!" He sat back down hard in the chair.
Playing with the pulse oximeter on his finger, Gideon gathered his words. "Reid…Spencer, I'm sorry. I underestimated you." Reid had been looking everywhere but at Gideon, so he paused until curiosity got the better of the genius and he finally met his eyes. "I would have told you to go, to leave and get help, but I didn't think you were strong enough to do that. I'm sorry I underestimated you and I'm sorry you felt guilty over that. You did exactly what you should have." He took the shaking hand on top of the bedcovers and held it steady. "You saved my life, Spencer. You. Not some paramedic girl. You. By having the guts to do what had to be done. And I am so proud of you."
Reid was trembling even worse, and trying to get control of his tears. "You said some stuff…before you…you know. Did you mean it, or was it some weird deathbed thing?"
He stared right into Reid's eyes. "I meant every word. You're like a son to me. I love you, Spencer."
A smile broke through the tears. "I love you too, Jason." Before Gideon could recover from that one, Reid tried out another that threw him for a loop. "I love you, Dad."