Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds and intend no copyright infringement.
Jason Gideon was still not sure if he had understood correctly. A fellow traveler had translated the train operator's loudspeaker announcement for him, but her command of English had been very limited. She had said the train would have to stop for the night because there was too much ice on the rails. Could that actually happen? Too much ice on the rails? Since winters tend to be cold, at least in this country, it surely wasn't the first time they had to deal with this problem, was it? And they couldn't come up with anything but "let's stop the train and wait for the ice to melt"? On top of that they were stranded in what seemed to be a very small town in the middle of nowhere. There was no hotel or boardinghouse to accommodate the passengers, so they would have to spend the night in the local elementary school's gym hall. Great.
Gideon decided to pass on this dance. In the last few months he had found it increasingly unbearable to remain somewhere for a longer period of time. So, despite the biting cold, he decided to walk. Granted, his knowledge of the region's geography was very limited – not to say nonexistent – but he figured if he simply followed the railway tracks he would sooner or later come to the next town. Everything seemed to be better than having to stay around.
Coldness is a slow killer. It starts eating at the outskirts of your body and then gradually works itself to the core. Gideon soon felt the icy air attacking his face. Despite his warm clothes, moving forward became difficult fast. The ground was covered with frozen snow, scrunching under his feet, disturbing the otherwise absolute silence surrounding him. Darkness was falling swiftly.
A part of his mind knew full well what he was doing. Ever since he had started this journey, there had been several similar situations: Once he had gone diving in dangerous waters, on another occasion he had walked down a narrow path which had been closed because of falling rocks. He was inviting death in. At first the realization had come as a shock. By now, Gideon sometimes caught himself hoping his invitation would be accepted. He had thought leaving the BAU and undertaking this journey would bring him peace. The opposite was true and he found himself contemplating more and more often that probably only death could truly release him from his agonizing memories and self-doubts.
His feet touched a frozen puddle, hidden under the snow, and he slipped. Rolling over, he managed to absorb the fall without getting seriously hurt. Cursing, the seasoned profiler got on his feet again, brushing snow off his trousers. Then he looked up… and was greeted with a sight that made him wonder if he had received a blow to the head without noticing: A hooded rider on a black horse was blocking his path.
Jason had never seen a more severe looking animal. It was pitch-black and utterly lean. Not an ounce of fat marred its perfect appearance. Totally motionless, the beast stood in front of him. The rider wore a long black cloak completely obscuring his body, hood drawn over his head. The only thing missing was a scythe.
"Hallo?", said a female voice, followed by one or two sentences Gideon didn't understand. Now, the profiler was not too old-fashioned to accept that death was a woman, but if this was indeed the Reaper, wasn't he, she or whatever supposed to speak the language of his/her/its target? Or at least have a dictionary ready? Besides that, white steam was rising from the horse's nostrils. So, no supernatural being after all. Gideon took a deep breath and informed the rider that if she wanted to communicate with him, she had to speak English. At that, she pulled down her hood, revealing a thirty-something woman with sand-colored hair.
"Are you okay?", she asked. "You took quite a fall."
"Why in the world are you riding around looking like the Grim Reaper?", Gideon barked at her, slightly annoyed because his heart had skipped a beat when she had taken off the hood. Was he, on top of everything else, getting cardiological problems now?
"I'm the local law enforcer", she said.
"This doesn't exactly answer my question."
"I needed to wear something unobtrusive", the woman replied curtly. "The cloak makes me practically invisible at this time of night, with the moon obscured by the clouds. Now, what are you doing out here in this gruesome weather at this unholy hour?"
Gideon explained the "ice on rails"-problem to her and that he had decided to walk to the next station. Hearing this, the law enforcer studied him intensely for a long moment. She had seen such haunted eyes before. In the mirror, for example. With one swift motion, she dismounted. Jason found himself wondering how something as banal as getting off a horse could look so graceful. "Okay, come with me, you'll freeze to death if you continue your little stroll and I really don't need any more paperwork", she stated.
"I'm not going anywhere", Gideon said firmly.
"Then you're arrested", she replied, equally firmly.
"Very funny. I haven't done anything!" He noticed that her eyes were deep gray as the sea on a stormy day. This image worried Gideon. Since when was he thinking in poetical similes? The cold seemed to be affecting his brain. "Concluding from you aiming for unobtrusiveness, you're running a special operation right now, so you surely got better things to do than harassing harmless tourists, don't you?"
"Actually I was trying to catch a werewolf", she answered. "But unless you transform within the next few minutes it seems my efforts were to no avail… It's quite an interesting story. If you want to hear it, you've got to come along. " She started walking away, leading the horse by its reins. "Or shall I handcuff you? Don't worry upon what grounds… This country is well known for its rich variety of rules and regulations. Trust me, I'll find something."
Gideon watched her cloaked silhouette retreating for a moment, then slowly followed her, not knowing yet that he was just beginning a new journey and that he had been right all along – meeting the Reaper was indeed going to release him from his troubles.
author's note: This was inspired by Tracia's wonderful "Learning to love" – reading it made me realize that despite Rossi being such a great addition to the show, I still miss Gideon, so I decided to cobble together this little scene.