Disconnect and Self-Destruct
It's barely been a second since she spoke the words. Since she looked upwards at Benjamin Cyrus with a look that was halfway between boredom and defiance. As if to say, "Come on, get it over with."
Reid tries to hide the horror in his eyes. Tries to pass it off as shock that this kindly woman could possibly be a big, bad FBI agent. It doesn't matter.
Cyrus's eyes are on Emily.
Emily's eyes are on Cyrus.
'God will forgive me,' he repeats.
The gun is pointed at Emily's chest.
And Benjamin Cyrus pulls the trigger.
Why are his hands covered in blood?
He feels detached, as though they aren't even his hands. As if there's something very important going on, but he can't quite work out what it is.
He jerks back to reality. Feels her life soaking his hands, feels her heartbeat slowing down beneath his fingertips.
He's vaguely aware of Cyrus standing behind him, but that's not what's important right now.
'No, Emily…please, no.' His voice is panicked. This was never supposed to happen. It was supposed to be in and out, simple as that.
It was never supposed to end like this.
'R…Re..id.' It takes a good deal of energy for her to simply say his name. The words are accompanied by tiny spurts of blood from her mouth. Part of him knows that it's already too late. There's no ambulance coming. No magical cure to be administered. He doesn't even know if the team is listening.
What is he supposed to tell them?
She died saving my life?
I was too much of a coward to step forward?
Her barriers have fallen away. He can see the fear in her eyes that she was never able to show. The fear that tells him she knows that she's about to die.
'S'ry,' she manages to say, and though she cannot even breathe properly anymore, she still has something to say. 'Please don't,' she starts, only the words come out slurred, as though she's just been to the dentist.
Reid's calm. Too calm. He puts a bloodied hand to her cheek, to stop her from trying to speak.
'It's okay,' he says softly. 'I'm here.'
And then her eyes close.
They hear the gun shot. It sends a deadly quiet over everyone present. The timing of it is foreboding; if it hadn't come right after the media leak, they would be a little less fearful. Still afraid, but not this gut-wrenching, mind-numbing fear they have now.
After a few minutes, there's movement, a blow-by-blow recount given by the man that's holding the binoculars. Two thugs. One corpse. They can see some identifiable features on the corpse, but not enough to readily determine that it is, in fact, one of their agents.
And then the phone rings.
'You can come and collect the body, Dave.' It's not what they want to hear. It's the last thing they want to hear. It's lying there, sprawling in the dust. Dark hair. 'Any funny business, and the other one dies too.'
Rossi stands, eyes darting about. He sees the horror that Hotch is unable to repress. The anger that Morgan won't repress. The tears that JJ doesn't want to repress.
David Rossi doesn't have this kind of strength. He's dealt with death before, but it has always been in that abstract, impersonal form. This is so much more…concrete. This death will haunt every moment of his life for years to come.
Her eyes are closed, shirt stained with blood. He puts two finger to her neck, just hoping…hoping that maybe things haven't gone completely to hell. But they have.
Emily Prentiss is dead.
Rossi's voice crackles over the radio. It's soft, unsure. Not David Rossi's voice at all.
'It's Emily,' he says, confirming their fears. The only sound that's made is Morgan's fist thumping against the table. JJ's eyes are wide with shock, tears running freely. Hotch's face is a mixture of emotion that he rarely shows; pain, anger, sadness. He sent them in there. He is responsible for this. How is he going to live with what he's done? How are any of them going to live with it?
They all walk slowly towards the Sheriff's truck as Rossi returns. Before he has even managed to come to a complete stop and put the pick-up into neutral, they've already seen the body that's in the passenger's seat.
That's not the Emily they know.
They Emily they know doesn't have that red stain in her shirt. Doesn't have that tiny hole in her chest. The Emily they know doesn't have this emptiness. The Emily they know is gone.
Hotch swallows. He can't break down now. He needs to be strong. Be the leader. If he doesn't then they'll never get Reid out alive.
For the moment, they have to push away that grief so they can concentrate on the situation at hand.
It seems kind of fitting
'You're FBI too,' Cyrus accuses, only Reid isn't listening. He's sitting there, staring at his hands, as though they are some foreign object that he doesn't recognize.
The moment the last breath had left her body, Cyrus had pulled him away, directing two of his henchmen to dump the body outside. 'All she's worth,' he had muttered. The words had been directed at Reid, but Reid had not been listening then, either.
He can't quite wrap his mind around what just happened.
Emily is dead.
One moment she was there, and now she isn't. How is that supposed to work? It isn't in accordance with the first law of thermodynamics. The state of energy can be transformed, but it can be neither created nor destroyed. The body still exists, but what about the soul? How does that fit into the equation?
No single one of Spencer Reid's 187 I.Q. points can give him the answer to that question.
He reels backwards as Cyrus's fist strikes him in the side of the head; punishment for being insolent. He gives a short cry, but makes no other indication that he even felt the blow.
He's in shock.
Sneering, Cyrus drags him upstairs, binds his wrists behind his back.
He's got much more important things to deal with.
It's another thirteen hours before they can raid the compound. That's time enough for the coroner to take the body away, under Hotch's intense gaze.
None of them have quite processed the events yet. They're trying to do that compartmentalization thing. Forget that it ever happened. Pretend that Emily is just on vacation somewhere, drinking Margaritas and soaking in the sun. Once they get Reid out of there, the realization will come crashing down. The realization that they will never see one of their friends again. Never see her smile, or laugh, or cry.
Hotch watches as Morgan and Rossi strap on their Kevlar. He won't go in there. He can't. It's bad enough that they're going in blind, but Hotch can't go in knowing that for all intents and purposes, it's already too late. No matter the outcome, they've already lost. They'd failed. He failed.
He closes his eyes when he hears the gunshots emanating from inside the compound, hoping fervently that he won't lose more than one person today.
That's false hope, he knows.
Because he is already lost.
Reid is covered in blood, and for a moment, Hotch's heart stops. Then, he realizes that it isn't Reid's blood. It's Emily's blood.
'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' He can hear the young profiler muttering the words over and over again.
He shouldn't blame himself, Hotch thinks. It isn't his fault. It's my fault. I'm the one who sent them in.
He watches as the paramedics check Reid over for any injuries. He made it out alive. He didn't make it out unharmed. The events of the day will replay in his mind for many weeks to come.
Cyrus is dead.
Somehow, it doesn't seem enough.
Reid wants some time alone. That's something that Hotch isn't ready to give him. Not right away.
Morgan takes the first shift, for lack of a better word. It's not a chore. He's doing this because he wants to. He takes Reid home, and cooks dinner – neither of them has eaten properly in days. He doesn't think Cyrus fed him inside the compound. He's not even sure Reid would have eaten willingly. It took a lot of persuasion for him to even drink some water upon his release.
Morgan's thinking about the body as he dices onions. It's a good excuse to cry without anyone noticing. Reid is sitting on the couch, staring at the ceiling. At some point in the next few days, they'll have to search through their wardrobes, finding something suitable to wear to a funeral.
Morgan's been there for just fifteen minutes when Rossi knocks on the door.
Half an hour, when JJ and Garcia knock.
Forty-five minutes, when Hotch knocks.
None of them are willing to be alone.
Three hours before the funeral, Spencer Reid finds himself standing on a street corner, his hands in his pockets. One of them is curled around a tiny vial that he bought less than twenty minutes ago. He'll find a bathroom, and shoot up for the first time in almost eighteen months. He needs that feeling of the drug inside his veins, if only so he can make it through the day without having a complete breakdown.
It should be him.
He should be the one dead, not her.
He should be the one lying in a coffin, skin a little too pale, a little too waxy. He should be the one with his arms crossed over his chest.
He exhales as the needle depresses into his arm, and for a brief moment, part of him panics.
Why is he doing this?
Why are you doing this, Spencer? Only it's not his voice that's saying it, it's hers. He chokes back a tear, trying to pull the needle out, but it's too late.
It's always too late.
He's sitting in the back row of the church, barely processing what's going on around him. Hotch is sitting to his left, Morgan to his right. Their tears are silent.
There's someone missing. Like there's a hole in the world, that no amount of grieving, no amount of recovery will ever fill.
His mind stuck in a limbo of delusion. Part of it is the drugs. Part of it is the grief. He wants to believe that she's still out there somewhere. Wants to believe that he didn't completely screw things up.
Even if it's just a belief.
He's deluded. That's what he tells himself.
But even then, he can't trust his own assessment.
He hears her voice inside his head, accusing him of killing her. Accusing him of wasting the sacrifice she made.
He stares at the needle in the sink. It's lying there, so ominous for such a simple object. He should throw it away. He doesn't need it any more. He doesn't get that high. He's reached that threshold, and yet he can't bring himself to go back. As is the nature of addiction.
His work has suffered, but that's not surprising. He watched one of his best friends die. He caused her death. He's not going to bounce back straight away. He's not sure if he's going to bounce back at all.
It's not as though anyone else has.
Six months go by. Reid's increasingly erratic behavior doesn't go unnoticed. Hotch almost calls out on it a few times, but then, that's the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it?
Instead, he takes a much more subtle approach; calling the young profiler into his office and simply asking if everything is okay.
The slight shuffle, and the lack of eye-contact is enough to tell Hotch that, no, everything isn't okay.
'I want you to take some time off,' he says. Obviously the three weeks they'd all been given wasn't enough. Hotch doesn't blame him. It's not very long to get over the death of someone you spent almost all your time with. They're not as invulnerable as they look.
'No!' says Reid, before Hotch can say anything else. 'No! Please, Hotch, don't make me go home. Please, no…' It's difficult at work, but he copes. At home, he has nothing to occupy his mind. Nothing to stop him from going into that downward spiral of depression. He can't go home.
The reaction surprises Hotch. So preoccupied with his own grief, he hadn't noticed how badly Reid was being affected. He knows it was bad, but this…?
Reid hasn't finished. He's on his knees, crying. Everything that's built up over the past six months is coming to a head. The grief, the confusion, the guilt.
It all boils down to this.
One word. Five syllables. The rest of Spencer Reid's life.
He should have noticed this before; a stressful event, couple with heredity. Hallucinations, delusions, disorganized behavior.
Six months, and Reid hadn't even noticed.
Four weeks with a psychiatrist, and he's diagnosed.
Some genius you are.
'I want to be hospitalized,' he says. It's not a necessary step. Not this soon. But he saw what his mother went through, what he went through. He doesn't want that to happen again. It's one of very few coherent thoughts he's had lately.
It's one of the last coherent thoughts he'll ever really have.
It's been two years.
It hadn't taken long for a few symptoms to manifest into frequent schizophrenic episodes. He's more susceptible than most. The history of drug use doesn't help.
Morgan visits once a week. He brings books sometimes – first editions that cost him and a leg. But that's a price he's willing to pay. If he doesn't bring books, he brings his charming smile. The smile that lets Reid know that everything is okay, even if it's not.
'When's Emily coming?' he would ask sometimes. The schizophrenia has given him memory problems. No longer is he the young genius with a big heart. Now he's just a lost little boy, locked away in this prison of his own mind. He's confused. The rest of the team visit sometimes, but never her. Why?
The first time, Morgan had told the truth. It had taken four orderlies to hold Reid down, and sedate him. He screamed even more when the needle penetrated his skin. Morgan had watched on silently, a tear running down his cheek.
He doesn't tell the truth anymore.
'She said she'd be coming soon, buddy,' he says, smiling. More often than not, Reid forgets the promises made to him.
Afterwards, Morgan goes and sits in the car, his head resting on the steering wheel.
He'll go to the cemetery now, and lay a bunch of flowers down on the bright, green grass. It's not a grave, simply a memorial plaque. Her ashes have scattered to the wind. He'll talk to her, even though she can't talk back. He'd like to think that somewhere out there, she's listening.
After that day in Colorado, things went to hell.
In a way, they lost everyone.