Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds. No copyright infringement is intended

A/N: Just my take on what Hotch might be thinking as they wait for news after Reid is infected with a deadly virus.


Hotch sat in the uncomfortable chairs outside the room that Reid was in, waiting for the doctor to come out and give them the news.

Morgan was just closing his cell phone, "Garcia's got Kevin working on the computer stuff. She's on her way." At Hotch's look Morgan held up his hands. "I know Hotch but there was no way I could stop her from coming. She wants to be here for Reid."

Of course she wants to be here for Reid, Hotch thought. She loves him. They all loved him, not that they ever said anything. It was more or less understood. They were family like Jordan Todd had said. She'd also said that the family takes on the characteristics of its leader. He wanted them to be strong for Reid. He'd have to be strong too. He looked at the other members of the team. They were sitting quietly not talking except for Morgan who paced like a caged tiger waiting to spring as soon as he got the chance. JJ and Prentiss held hands and each wiped away the occasional tear. Prentiss' legendary ability to compartmentalize seemed to be slipping. Dave just looked angry at the world.

He had to be strong Hotch told himself, that's what was expected of him. But it was Reid in there, exposed to a very deadly strain of anthrax. The chances weren't good. They weren't good at all and everyone sitting here knew that. He almost laughed when he thought that Reid could likely give him the exact odds on those chances. It mustn't help Reid, being in that room and knowing that. How could he be strong when the man he felt was part brother, part friend, part son and part teammate was lying in there possibly dying? He jumped up and headed for the doors leading to the stairwell.

Hotch sat and looked at the cross. With all they saw, it sometimes seemed like God had abandoned their victims and like Morgan, Hotch sometimes felt his faith was day to day. He hoped it was strong enough today. He hoped God would not abandon Spencer. He was trying to get the words out when he heard footsteps behind him.

"Tough day," Dave said as he sat in the pew beside Hotch.

"Is there some word," Hotch asked, not sure if his voice held hope or despair?

"No, not yet, I just came looking for you. You alright?"

"I'm supposed to be leading this team Dave. I'm supposed to stay the same unemotional uninvolved, taciturn person I always am but this time I…I can't. It's Reid in there, Dave. It's not somebody whose picture I've only seen. I've been sitting here trying to think of what to do. I should be notifying his next of kin. What, do I call Bennington and tell Dianna Reid that her son's been exposed to a very virulent strain of anthrax. What would that do to her in her condition? Do I call his father? I don't know if Reid would appreciate that. And what if the worst happens Dave? What do I do, go to Bennington and present Dianna Reid with a flag? Do I tell Dianna and William Reid what a fine son they had and that their country appreciates the sacrifice he made for it? Don't you understand, I'm supposed to be leading those people up there and I don't know what to do," Hotch's voice cracked as his eyes filled with tears.

"Whatever happens, he's got his family with him. We're not leaving. And you don't have to be so tough and strong all the time. You guys have been together for what six years now. No one will fault you for your feelings," Dave said as he put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I'm going back up there; you stay here and do what you have to do. We'll call your cell when there's any news." Dave got up and headed for the back of the chapel.

Hotch sat for a few minutes, considering his words. As he did so he thought about Spencer Reid. What sprang to mind first was what hit everyone who met him, his genius, the way he could spout off tomes of any information needed at the drop of a hat. How many cases had they solved because Reid had come up with some bit of information that led to the solution, too many to count? But Spencer Reid was more than his genius and those who knew him well knew that. They saw the compassion he had for people, not only the victims and their families but sometimes for the unsubs themselves. He thought of the courage Reid had shown in Texas, facing a mixed up kid with one gun and the team behind him with four. He hadn't wavered. He was determined to continue to visit Amanda until she chose to do the right thing. He even managed to find empathy for Tobias Hankel. Hotch thought about his dogged tenacity in searching for the killer of a child in Las Vegas even though the man might have been his own father. Hotch grinned slightly at the thought that contrasting his amazing brilliance and his model good looks was his total ineptness in social situations. Why Reid? Hadn't he suffered enough with a neglectful father and a schizophrenic mother, with classmates who bullied him and unsubs who tortured him? He'd overcome so much, did he have the strength to overcome this too. Only God knew the answer to that.

"God, I know I haven't always been the man I should and done the right things as a father, husband, brother and son but I've always tried and if I have earned any favors from you, could you please help…" He suddenly stopped speaking as his phone began to ring.