Title: Wait for the Wheel
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Different Destinations (Part 2)
Characters/Pairing: Reid-centric, team - gen
Summary: Infamous serial killer Spencer Reid is back, and this time he won't be content with taking just one BAU member. This time, he has to have them all.
Warnings: Character Death
Wait for the Wheel
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.
There were interrogation rooms available, but that wasn't exactly appropriate for the atmosphere she needed. Interrogation rooms were claustrophobic and uncomfortable. She needed something a little more open. The conference room was also a no-go – aside from the whiteboard with the profile written on it in Hotch's neat handwriting, there were files everywhere, and pictures of bodies. Not to mention the fact that Morgan and Hotch were in there, trying to narrow down their profile of Spencer Reid just that little bit further.
There was a second conference room available though – one that was empty. Emily led the young boy down the hallway, hyperaware of the stoic look on his face. She wanted to tell him that it was okay to cry – that was a lesson that Emily's mother had never taught. From a young age, it was "stay strong in the face of adversity" before she even knew what the word adversity meant.
That wasn't the kind of life a child was supposed to live.
The look Nick gave her as he sat down in the seat that was far too big for him, was one of despair. It was the look of that lost little boy whose parents were dead, who was trying to stay strong.
She wanted to tell him that everything would be okay, but that would be a lie. It would be the biggest lie she'd ever told in her life. Because things weren't okay. The world was a cruel, horrific place.
She gave him a smile that held no mirth.
Maybe she was just getting cynical.
'I need you to close your eyes and pretend you're back at home.'
The boy scrunched his eyes shut, lips pressing together tightly. 'Jakey and me were in our room, playing with Lego. I heard a knock on the door, and Mom answered it.'
'Did you see the man she let inside?'
Nick shook his head. 'Not yet. But Mommy came upstairs, and she told us to keep playing. She was crying – I hadn't seen her cry since before he left us.'
By "he," Emily assumed that Nick meant their father. From what she'd heard – and seen – it seemed like their life had been just as depressing then.
'She went back downstairs, and we heard another knock on the door. I wanted to go down to see what was happening, but then I heard the noises.'
'Yelling and fighting,' Nick told her. 'Just like...I didn't want Jakey to get hurt, so I pretended that everything was okay.' The boy choked back a sob. 'Then...he came upstairs. I asked him who he was, and he told me that his name was Spencer, and that he was a friend of my Mom's. He gave us both a lollipop, and then he left.'
Emily didn't want to dig further, but she knew she had to. 'Can you tell me anything else, like...what he was wearing, or how he seemed?'
'I don't know.' Nick's voice took on a high-pitched tone. He was strong, but he was also only seven, and that was a lot of pressure to put on any kid.
'It's okay,' Emily assured him. 'We don't have to do any more.'
It hadn't been the most successful of cognitive interviews, but then, she hadn't really expected to get much anyway. Still, she was only partially surprised when Nick burst into tears and wrapped his arms around her. She felt guilty for having made him relive his mother's death. It was enough that he'd been through it once.
'Am I going to go live with Daddy?' he asked, and through the tears, Emily heard fear. Sending these kids to live with their father seemed like the worst idea in the world.
'I don't know,' she answered, frowning.
'I don't want to live with Daddy,' he sobbed. Emily patted his back, not quite sure what else she could do. Sensing eyes on her, she looked up and saw Morgan standing by the door.
'Everything okay?' he asked, softly. Emily gave him a grim smile; "okay" wasn't exactly the word she would have used to describe the situation.
Sensing that Morgan was there for a reason other than just checking up on things, Emily took Nick's hand, and led him back to his brother and Officer Ramirez.
'So how's he coping?' Morgan asked, as they made their way back to the conference room.
'Kid just lost his mom, Derek – how would you be?' No sooner than the words were out of her mouth, she realized the enormity of her mistake. 'Oh shit. Morgan, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—'
'It's okay,' he interrupted. 'I know what you meant.'
'He's a strong kid,' Emily continued. 'But he's been through a lot.' There was a long pause. 'It just...really, really sucks.'
'It does,' Morgan agreed.
'I'm going to talk to Garcia about tracking down relatives. Their father's still alive, but from what I could tell, he wasn't exactly Dad of the Year.'
'What are you thinking, Prentiss?'
She shook her head. 'I don't know. Just that...I don't want these kids to go from one bad home to another. The only time they seemed to have it good was when they were living with their Mom, and now she's dead.'
'Remember what Hotch said, about being objective.'
Emily gave Morgan a look. 'Jesus, Derek. Just because I want to make sure these kids don't grow up with shitty foster parents doesn't mean I'm not being objective.'
'I'm just saying...'
Their conversation ground to a halt as they entered the conference room, where Hotch was standing over an open file.
'Anything?' he asked. Anyone that didn't know Aaron Hotchner would not have noticed the tone of desperation in his voice.
Emily shook her head. 'Nothing we didn't already know.'
Hotch nodded. 'Okay,' he said. 'Let's review.'
Wherever they were, they'd been there for hours. Unsurprisingly, Reid hadn't provided them with food or water, which under the circumstances would have been survivable, but JJ was starting to get kind of dizzy.
Reid had kept the lights on, after his last departure, but Rossi took the time to keep talking, and she was grateful – it was a reassurance that she wasn't in this alone. He talked about mundane things – ex-wives, the dogs he used to own – topics so far removed from serial killers that at times, it was almost easy to forget that they were in the hands of one.
'So how about you?' he asked, an air of nonchalance that was entirely too casual. 'Anyone special?'
JJ almost laughed. 'As if I have time for romance with a job like this. Chances are, the only time I'd ever meet someone was if they were a local cop, or at the coffee shop I go to every morning.'
'Men should be crawling over broken glass to see a woman like you,' a voice said, and JJ nearly jumped out of her skin. Reid had entered the room so quietly, she hadn't even noticed. Of course, it didn't help that she had to turn to see the door.
'Don't talk to her like that,' Rossi demanded, and JJ was hyperaware of Reid standing right behind her. She sucked in a breath as he brushed her hair away from her neck.
'All he sees you as is another woman to fuck,' Reid whispered. 'I bet he's been through half the Bureau already. Your friend, Emily – she was practically used up by the time I got to her.'
'Just because your mother slept around doesn't mean that everyone does,' Rossi said, and really, JJ wasn't exactly sure what he'd been expecting to happen, but Reid snapped.
'Don't you dare talk about my mother like that!' he yelled. 'My mother...'
'You love your mother, don't you?' Rossi asked. 'Because no-one ever took care of little Spencey the way she did.'
He was trying to distract Reid, JJ realized. He was trying to draw his attention away from her, and onto himself. And it was working.
Reid stalked over to Rossi, and kicked the chair out from underneath him. 'You think you know anything about my mother?'
'Shut up!' He kicked Rossi square in the ribs, and Rossi let out a groan.
'I can see it in your eyes – you know there's a high co-morbidity of drug abuse with narcissistic personality disorder.'
'I said, shut up!' Reid pulled the gun from the waistband of his pants, and JJ's heart skipped a beat.
'NO!' she called out, but it was too late.
She didn't have time to close her eyes before Reid pulled the trigger.