Wait For the Wheel

The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.

Robert Heinlein

***

A/N: Okay, posting this now, because 11 in progress stories clearly isn't enough. Thanks to Windy City Dreamer for her input. Hope to read your reviews and constructive crit. Peace out.

I

Sometimes, Spencer Reid liked to whistle as he worked. It was a newly acquired desire, brought on by his close brush with the FBI. Escaping their custody had made every experience since that much more powerful.

It had been a little over a month since he had all but humiliated the Behavioral Analysis Unit. He had murdered women right in front of their noses, and it took the kidnapping of one of their own for them to even notice him.

They'd notice him after this, he knew. They'd notice him right up until the moment he killed them all.

His tastes were evolving. He'd never killed a man before – plenty of women, but never a man. That would all change soon enough.

The young man before him was bound and gagged. There was no fear in his eyes. Spencer found this intriguing. Emily, the one that got away – she too had been rather stubborn in her refusal to show fear. She might well have been afraid – he didn't know. He guessed that this stoicism was a personality trait definitive of BAU members. All that work catching serial killers would play havoc with their emotions.

Agent James Emerson was the BAU's newest agent. Not even thirty, he had risen in the ranks faster than even Hotch. But the one night he forgot to check his locks was the night he got kidnapped by a sociopathic serial killer out for revenge.

'Goodbye, Agent Emerson,' said Spencer.

He plunged the knife into the young man's chest.

***

Emily awoke with a jerk. She was breathing heavily, sweat rushing from every pore. Had she screamed? She wasn't quite sure. Even still, Morgan seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to her nightmares. It was probably the fact that she spent ten minute thrashing in her sheets before waking suddenly.

She had had the nightmares every single night since her encounter with the serial killer Spencer Reid. The specifics changed, but the theme remained the same; pain, fear, death, helplessness.

It was several moments before she became aware of Morgan's arm around her shoulder. He had been staying with her since her release from the hospital, stating the paper-thin excuse of having to look for a new apartment. They both knew very well that he was there to help her through the ordeal.

'Bad one?' he asked. They varied in degree. Some nights she woke barely perturbed, other nights it was as though she has spent a couple of hours in the ninth circle of hell. Whatever resistance she had built up to the evils of the world didn't seem to matter.

'Um...average I suppose.' She never described the dreams in great detail. Didn't tell him that she had just woken from a dream in which she found herself being savagely tortured by Spencer Reid. It really was mild compared to some of the dreams she had had.

Her eyes drifted toward the alarm clock. It was a little after four in the morning – too late to be going back to sleep, but too early to be getting ready for work.

'Sorry for waking you,' she said apologetically. She appreciated the fact that he was there for her, but hated the she was putting him through so much.

'You know me,' he joked. 'I had to get up for my early morning yoga anyway.'

They sat in silence for several minutes, before she said, 'Thank-you.' It wasn't just for comforting her this morning. It was for every single moment he'd been there over the past month.

'Always, girl.' He put an arm around her. 'Always.'

***

It was seven a.m when Morgan and Emily arrived at Quantico. Emily had her work mask firmly in place; any residual effects of the nightmare would not permeate her professional life. It was a mask that would not remain secure for long.

No sooner than they had entered the bull-pen, JJ had approached them. There was a sombre look on her face that was uncharacteristic of the media liaison. 'Conference room,' was all she said, before running off to find Hotch.

Rossi was the only one already in the conference room. JJ was apparently talking to Hotch now, and Emerson was nowhere to be seen.

'Do you know what this is about?' Morgan asked his superior.

Rossi shrugged. 'All I know is that JJ's rushing around like a bat out of hell. Didn't get a chance to ask.'

They were all hyperaware of the tension that seemed to accompany the mystery of the situation. Ten minutes later, when JJ arrived with a harrowed-looking Hotch, they all sat up slightly. Emerson had still not arrived, the reason for which was clear the moment JJ took to the front of the room.

'Emerson's dead,' she revealed. The words struck a nerve with everyone present. Though they had known him for only two weeks, James Emerson had been a welcome presence in the dark place that the BAU had become.

'How did he die?' asked Rossi evenly, trying not to sound upset at the revelation.

JJ shared a glance with Hotch. Evidently, the Unit Chief already knew the score. He gave her a slight nod; permission to continue.

'He was murdered,' she said, whilst simultaneously bringing the pictures up on screen. It took several seconds for them to get over the amount of blood that marred the body of the person they once knew. It was Rossi who first noticed the stab pattern.

'Is that...' he started. JJ gave a grim nod, bringing up the next image on screen. It was a message, written in blood. Emily shifted slightly in her seat.

The message read: "Unfinished Business."

Spencer Reid was back.