Author's Notes: This is set shortly after a first season episode, the one with Elle held hostage on the train. Well… let's just say that the Elle and Gideon in my head saw the events of that episode a little differently than the ones in the show. And Hotch wants to help with a little pointed torture. Happy committed smut will ensue.
Chapter 1: Trains and Planes
//Dad,// Gideon mentally shook his head and physically settled back into the plane's seat. Three letters and he couldn't concentrate. Right now the legendary brain everyone said he had should be dissecting the unsub. Gideon should be navigating the maze of psychological reasoning and predictions. He should be picking apart what his unsub could teach his team about catching and stopping others like him.
Special Agent Jason Gideon should not be getting lost in the disturbingly complex question behind three damn letters. //Dad,// And he should absolutely not be watching the speaker of those three letters as she slept, half-wrapped in a blanket on the other side of this plane.
He shouldn't be reliving the moment he first saw her on that tv screen. The second he knew that Elle was on that train. A known Fed held hostage by an unstable conspiracy delusionist. Alone. //Elle,//
That tiny, grainy image of her face had … done inexplicable things to his insides, and no one else had even recognized her. It just didn't make sense. And things he couldn't make sense of always plagued him. Like his reaction to those letters.
And he wasn't the only one feeling restless. On the other side of the plane Elle stirred in her sleep, fingers closing around air as the blanket slipped. Expressions chased each other over her face. Fear and repressed anger. Elle was back on that train, handcuffed to the bars under a seat. Unarmed and helpless. And alone.
She was never getting on a train alone again. Especially not tonight. A glance around the plane proved everyone was already sleeping or trying to before Gideon moved.
"Elle," The edge of the blanket appeared in his hands as he sat across from her. "Wake up, Elle, you're sle…" The words just stopped as he found his fingers sliding along the line of her jaw. And Elle quieted at the touch, her face turning into his palm.
//Elle?// He tried to pull back instinctively, but stopped when her hand found his. Gideon couldn't pull back when she gave him a sleepy smile and cuddled his hand under her chin. "Please,"
And Gideon stood at the beginning of a maze he had no idea how to figure out. Mentally shaking his head, he physically settled into the seat. She plagued him with three little words and the grip of her fingers through his. Yet he couldn't bring himself to pull away. Reaching out, Gideon brushed a lock of hair off her forehead. "Elle…"
She hadn't expected to get any sleep. And as much as the cuff bruises and abraded cheek hurt, they weren't the reason. Elle had slept just fine with broken ribs before. And those hurt a hell of a lot more than a few cuts and bruises.
What she was certain would keep her awake was the look on his face. Not the unsub's. He'd been a fairly typical psychotic with delusions. Jason's face. The way Ja—Gideon had looked when he'd run onto that train with one handgun and no flack vest. The way he had watched her silently afterward.
The reason she had called him 'dad'. Or reasons.
It always bothered her when she didn't understand her own reactions to anything, and Elle didn't understand the way Gideon had made her react today.
Her brain wouldn't stop trying to figure it out, even after sleep finally came. Sometime in the night, Elle stopped thinking, stopped fighting off sleep. Stopped feeling cold metal around her wrist…
It was warm, safe, and Elle cuddled into the feeling, clinging to it. It meant that she wasn't on that train with an armed and destabilizing unsub.
And neither was Jason.
Elle woke up slowly like always, hands tucked under her chin and blanket wrapped high around her shoulders, not really sure what had woken her. It wasn't the engines changing their sound before landing. Her normal flying alarm clock.
In fact, the sound of the engines meant she had at least ten more minutes before they started descending. Ten more minutes before she'd have to start thinking. Elle started to sink back into that warm, safe feeling.
Until fingers moved against the skin of her throat. Fingers attached to the third hand under her chin. //What the …// Elle forced her eyes open to find Jas—mental self-slapping—Gideon awkwardly propped up in the seat next to hers. Fast asleep and with one arm stretched out to have his hand tucked in close against her skin. Fingers intertwined disturbingly easily through hers. //Breathe, Elle, breathe and pull away carefully.// But her body wasn't listening right now, automatically cuddling the unfamiliar heat of those fingers closer. //Eleanor Dade Greenaway, stop that right now!//
It took more self-control than she thought she had to slowly sit up, moving his hand away from her throat. It was harder still to slip her fingers out of his. Elle found herself huddled at the far end of the seat from his hand. Missing the touch she has no right to even think about. Gideon was her boss and mentor.
And the man who'd slept sitting up to hold her hand during a nightmare. //Jason,//
Every muscle in her body ratcheted a few notches tighter as she felt someone watching her. Gideon was still sleeping, something she was intensely grateful for. So who could it—
"Hotch!" It was a shout even if it could barely be heard over the engine's hum. "You trying to orphan that boy of yours, sneakin' up on an armed woman."
"You're almost fast enough on the draw, but too good a shot to not see me first." Hotch smiled one of his small little expressions, the one that said 'you're being silly.' Then his eyes flicked across the seat to Gideon's outstretched hand, still lying on the edge of her pillow. Still giving her the look that made her want to shoot him, Agent Aaron Hotchner sat down across from her. "How's the wrist?"
Something was going on here. It was written all over his face in itty-bitty little print. And Elle felt danger in the air. Just how much did Hotch think he knew. And what had he seen. "It's been better. But I'll be fine."
Her trigger finger twitched as his eyes again flicked deliberately over the rumpled blanket and pillow, then up the outstretched arm to Gideon. "Of course you will be," The smile got that little bit wider. The writing on his face was almost big enough to read. And if Elle sat there one more minute staring at Hotch, odds were she'd actually hit him. Knowing full well that the sound she made didn't count as English, Elle fled, forcing herself to walk normally along the narrow aisle.
Behind her, Special Agent Aaron Hotchner grinned and draped the discarded blanket over Gideon. "We take care of our own, Elle."
His fingers were cold and his neck hurt. The second wasn't new. Sleeping on planes was never that comfortable. But the cold… that was very new. When Gideon had fallen asleep that hand had been warm, wrapped in soft, smooth skin. //Elle…// Still half-asleep, his hand clenched, searching across the pillow for the fingers so recently intertwined with his.
//Hotch…// There was something in his voice that made Gideon not want to open his eyes. Slowly pulling his arm back under the blanket, he tucked his fingers into his elbow. "It's not really morning if it's still dark outside, Hotch."
"Welcome to winter on the east coast. Up and at it, Dad."
His eyes flinched along with muscles all over his body. Damn Hotch and his insight. Gideon forced his eyes open and sat up, folding the blanket back over his knees. "I'm not your father." He set the blanket down on top of Elle's pillow, trying very hard not to see the amusement written all over Hotch's face. In one of those small twisted smiles. Sometimes he hated those smiles.
"I know that, Gideon. You're not Elle's father, either."
Gideon froze mid-motion, hands half-fisted in the blanket Elle had spent the night under. Where she'd held his hand and he hadn't wanted her to let him go. //I talk to serial killers, I can face my own co-worker. Even Hotch.// Forcibly opening his fingers, Gideon turned back to him with a carefully controlled expression. "Obviously not. Immediate family on the same unit is against policy." He gave a very specific smile. "You know that, Hotch."
"Policy, hmm." Hotch smiled and something inside Gideon flinched defensively. "Is it really the relatives policy that's at issue here, Jason?" His second in command and trusted friend leaned both elbows on his knees and searched for nerves with the verbal knife. "Or is something else bothering you?"
//Damn him, I never should have trained him this well.// "I don't know what you're talking about, Hotch." Gideon fought for the right tone and succeeded. At least until Elle crossed the edge of his vision to sit near Reid, then his voice cracked. Just a little. But Hotch noticed. Hotch always noticed.
"Well, then, I guess we have another mystery to solve. Don't we, Dad?" Grinning, Hotch patted his shoulder and walked away down the narrow aisle to scoot Reid over and sit directly in front of Elle. Damn him.
Gideon watched helplessly as Hotch touched her hand and three fingers to her jaw, tilting her chin up to look at her bruised cheek.
And Elle squirmed but didn't pull away. But then she hadn't called Hotch 'dad' either. The blinking seat belt light finally caught Gideon's eye, but only after Hotch released Elle to obey it. She in turn settled back and buckled her own belt. Gideon's eyes helplessly tracked the darkened skin of her wrist through the motion. His brain replayed the grainy film of her cuffed to that seat, tugging at the chains.
He might always be able to see it.
Belatedly fastening his belt, Gideon tried desperately to turn off the mental VHS. He didn't want to see Elle get that wound or himself charge the train. He didn't need to remember how those sights had made him feel.
Or the warmth of her fingers clinging to his.
Sometimes he hated his mind's inability to not think.