By Ahmose Inarus
Disclaimer: I do not own "Criminal Minds" or any of the characters of the show.
WARNING: This work includes nonconsensual homosexual intercourse.
FBI Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid stared at himself in the mirror, an odd expression on his face. Behind him, Penelope Garcia grinned.
"Magnifique." She said, proudly, clapping her hands together in satisfaction. "Forget the Mighty Oracle, Fount of all Knowledge… I am Senorita Fashionista."
"Uhhh…" Was all Reid could get out.
"Let's take a look, Reid!" Morgan called from the other side of the door.
"… You guys…" Emily Prentiss said from where she stood next to Garcia. "I think Reid could actually pull this off."
"Let's see him!" Morgan cried, his patience wearing thin. The suspense was KILLING him.
"I look like a freak." Reid finally said. Rossi raised an eyebrow.
"When this is over, we'll dye your hair its normal boring brown." Garcia said, patting Reid's arm.
"… Did you know…" Reid began, furrowing his brow, "that people who dye their hair—"
"Honey," Garcia interrupted. "Don't dis the dye." She said, fluffing her hair; blonde with hot pink and purple streaks. Reid blinked and opened his mouth in slight surprise, then nodded, exhaling shortly in a slight embarrassed laugh, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"And try not to blurt out your random statistics when you go in there." Prentiss advised, smiling in amusement. "You're not there to impress them."
"Right." Reid acknowledged.
"Will you girls come out of there already?" Morgan demanded, banging on the bathroom door.
"… Did he just call me a girl?"
"You ARE wearing nail polish." Garcia pointed out, and flung the bathroom door open. Reid took a deep breath, and shuffled out of the bathroom.
"… Damn." Morgan said flatly after a moment, while JJ just burst out laughing. "You uh… Wow. You are ALL legs, man!"
Rossi stared, slowly standing from his chair. Even Hotchner couldn't hide the twitching at the corners of his mouth. Reid sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"… Are you wearing black nail polish!" Morgan blurted, a disbelieving grin on his face as he tried not to laugh.
"… Yes." Reid sighed, running his hand through his hair. "Yes I am."
"You know you have no ass, right?"
"Thanks, Garcia." Reid gasped jumping forward, thoroughly embarrassed as Garcia delivered a sharp smack to said… lack of ass. He slid his hands into his back pockets in a defensive manner, tuning his backside AWAY from Garcia, who was having a little TOO much fun with this situation. He stared down at the white shoe laces of the black high tops, which had recently come back into fashion… in certain groups of High School kids. He was wearing tight black jeans, which showed everyone just how ridiculously skinny he was, a tight t shirt and a black hoody, unzipped. He did indeed have his finger nails painted black, he had several bracelets on, fake piercings in his lip, nose and ears, a dog collar, and to top it all off… Garcia and Prentiss had dyed his hair black.
"… I look like a freak." Reid said again.
"You look like… an anorexic Criss Angel." Morgan snorted, then finally burst out laughing.
"Hey, Reid." Garcia called, and Reid turned, only to be blinded by a flash.
"Hey!" He yelped, and lunged, but Garcia danced away with the camera.
"This one is going to be my new wallpaper on my desktop. I can't WAIT to email this to Gideon." She giggled. Morgan had to sit down on the edge of the hotel bed, and even Rossi was chuckling now.
Reid sighed and went back into the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. "I would send my mother into an episode if she saw me like this…"
"Man, I don't think she'd recognize you." Morgan laughed. "But hey, you should fit in just fine with the little freaks in that school."
"They're not freaks, Morgan." Reid said, firmly. "They're just kids looking to fit in."
"What's the clique called again?" Hotch asked.
"Goth Light." Morgan chuckled.
"Emo." Garcia corrected. "That's what the kids call it."
Reid sighed and shook his head, staring at the mess the hair dye had made in the sink and across the counters.
"I'm not sure this will work." He called out of the bathroom.
"Why not?" Morgan called.
"Reid." Hotch said, moving to stand in the doorway. "You're our best shot. You can be passed off as a High School kid. You can relate to them. You can find the UnSub."
Reid leaned over, bracing his hands on the counter top and staring at himself in the mirror…
"Here's the case file." Hotch said, passing folders around to the team. "There have been five bodies. All are High School students. Popular. Two male, three female. All were tortured, raped and murdered."
"Wait." Morgan interrupted. "ALL of them?"
"All of them." Hotch confirmed. "The males were sodomized, spermicide present inside all of the victims."
"A rapist using condoms? That's new…" Prentiss snorted.
"… No DNA evidence left behind…" Rossi sighed, leaning back.
"It could be a psychological thing." Reid suggested. "The UnSub feels that he is better than his victims… he wants to torture them in every way possible, but he doesn't want to become tainted… he feels that his victims are dirty."
"Possible." Hotchner allowed. "But either way, we have five dead kids on our hands. Wheels up in half an hour."
The team had gone straight to the site… it was a relatively small town in the Cascadian Mountains with only one high school with a couple thousand students. It was like a needle in a hay stack. They had been there nearly three weeks. There had been one death since they had arrived… they already knew the pattern. He killed every new moon. It was a difficult case, but finally, they managed to figure things out. Morgan mentioned that it was similar to a case they had worked before… a student had set things up to make it look like satanic cult rituals to hide his own guilt. The scenario he had set was almost identical to what they were currently dealing with…
The UnSub was in his late twenties, early thirties. He had been a social outcast when he was in school. Now, he was a leader of kids who were the way he had been. A group of kids who felt rejected. They were picked on. And he gathered them together and formed a cult… He was good, that much they knew. But they didn't know where he was. He was a ghost. They had heard whispers of a name… Gregory Nash. But once the students knew that the team had the name, they shut up fast. They had been unable to get anything out of them. All the team had to go on was the knowledge that a small handful of students knew where to find him, but they had been brainwashed. They would die before giving him up. And in the mean time, the new moon had come again, a kid had been killed right under their noses. The team had hit a dead end… at least until one of the officers they had been working with blurted something out one day…
"… How OLD is that kid?" He blurted, suddenly, as he stared at Reid, who was standing before a board covered in crime scene photos.
"… Twenty four." Morgan said, blinking.
"… Looks seventeen." The officer snorted. "He looks like some of those kids who are holding out on us."
Hotch blinked and looked up, turning and eyeing Reid up and down. Reid pulled a tissue from the box on the table and blew his nose. He had been recovering from a cold, so he hadn't gone out into the (very cold) field on this case, preferring to stay in the warm police station with a box of tissues, a bottle of Dayquil and lots of coffee.
It hit him like a ton of bricks.
"… Send Reid in." He said, suddenly. Morgan blinked and looked at him.
"He's been hiding in here the whole time. None of the students have seen him. They won't know he's with us. He could pull it off… go undercover."
"… See if he can infiltrate this group." Hotch said, slowly. "He can relate to them. He was bullied... targeted…"
"You've got to be joking…" Morgan exclaimed. "Reid?"
"Why not?" Rossi said suddenly, dropping into a chair between the other two agents. "The kid might actually be able to pull it off. He IS a profiler… he would be able to read them and figure out what he would need to do to get them to trust him."
All three men slowly turned at the loud honking of a nose coming from the other room. Reid glanced up at them through the window and nodded to them, smiling slightly. They stared. Reid blinked and cocked his head, frowning and slowly turning to look behind himself. Seeing nothing of significance there, he looked back at his team mates. Slowly, he walked to the door, tucking his hair behind his ear.
"… What?" He asked.
"… Let's do it." Hotchner said resolutely.
"Do what?" Reid asked.
'… I HAD to ask.' Reid thought to himself as he climbed onto the school bus. 'And then I had to agree.' Students stared at him as he slowly made his way down the aisle of the bus, suddenly finding himself transported back to hell… High School.
The team had left town; they had three and a half weeks before the new moon. Before the killer would strike again… three and a half weeks for Reid to find him.
They spread the story that they believed that the UnSub was on the move, and that they were chasing him. The story for Reid was that his father was an ecologist who would be doing an environmental study in the area. A father who didn't have time for his son (Reid had rolled his eyes and asked why they couldn't have come up with something better).
The school principal had been notified of the infiltration of his school… when Reid appeared in his office, he handed him a schedule. "These are the classes we thought would get you the most interaction with the kids you've been trying to get information from." He said. "And this is your Student ID."
Reid looked down and snorted. Andrew Calloway. He would be going by Andy. He had vehemently protested against that name, but Rossi insisted that a common name would project a feeling of trust towards Reid. Reid knew that he was right, but his undercover name jut didn't appeal to him… Morgan had teased him, asking him if he wanted to be named Mr. Spock. Reid told Morgan to bite him. Garcia had made a kinky comment that had made Reid blush furiously, and Morgan roar with laughter.
He accepted the schedule and instructions from the principal (including setting his cell on silent to avoid being ripped a new one by teachers), and wandered out into the crowded hallways to find his first class. He winced. Uhg… High School.
The first one was a science class. He was given a book by the teacher, who accepted him as a transfer in and sat in the back, skimming through it rapidly… it was nothing that he didn't already know. When the bell rang, he was mortified to be called up in front of the class and introduced as "Andy, everyone please do your best to make him feel welcome here".
He could already see several jocks eyeing him in distaste and mistrust… good. He needed to become a victim to them to better his chances of being accepted by the small circle that Gregory Nash had taken in… The teacher asked him to tell the class something about himself… he raised a hand awkwardly and mumbled unintelligibly before shuffling back to his seat… a couple of boys in the opposite back corner watched him with increasing interest. One leaned over and whispered to the other.
"Seth." The teacher said sharply, calling him to order, and then began the lecture on astronomy. Reid kept quiet for the whole class, remembering what Morgan had said.
"You're not the FBI Boy Genius there. You're a socially awkward outcast who is the target of bullies. Keep that mouth shut." He had said.
Hotch had agreed. "You're shy. An outsider. Do not speak unless spoken to. When you do, don't answer with confidence."
Reid never really noticed how quickly he was to spout off answers, facts and statistics, but he found it hard to keep his mouth shut. Especially when the students the teacher was calling on obviously neither paid attention, nor studied, and had no idea what the lecture was even about.
"Andy?" Reid jumped and looked up. The whole class was staring at him. Apparently, the teacher had been trying to get his attention for a while. Reid cleared his throat.
"Did you want to take a guess?"
"… Sorry?" Reid asked, blinking.
"In a few thousand years, Polaris will no longer be the North Star. What will?" She repeated.
Reid blinked. 'Keep the answer simple. You're not a know-it-all…' He told himself, frowning. He looked up at the teacher, and said, uncertainly, "Vega?" She smiled.
"Right." And she returned to the lecture. Most of the students turned back to the front, but a couple of them kept their gazes level on Reid… a couple of jocks, and the two boys in the back corner. Reid noted the two boys in his peripheral vision, but focused on the jocks. He needed to antagonize them. He could already tell that it wouldn't take much… He looked them in the eyes, then nervously averted them. They smirked, met each other's knowing glances, and then turned back to the front.
When class let out, Reid made his move. Head down to the floor, he scurried to the door and cut off one of the jocks, scuttling out before him.
"Hey!" The boy growled, and shoved Reid harshly in the shoulder. Reid stumbled forwards, right into one of the other jocks. He threw his weight forward, toppling into the boy, and sending them both crashing onto the floor in the hall. People burst out laughing. Reid scrambled to his feet and backed away when both jocks made moves towards him.
"I-I'm sorry…" Reid mumbled, continuing to back away. The two jocks stopped at the clearing of a throat. They turned, eyes wide.
"… Hey coach." One said slowly as a tall, fit man glared at them.
"On your way then." The man said gruffly. The boys nodded and hurried away. The teacher glanced at Reid, nodded to him slightly, and then went back into his classroom. Reid noted the room number and the name on the door.
Coach Guillory. He taught Geography, and coached basketball. He seemed to be a stern man, but was a fair man. Or so Reid remembered from Morgan's interview with the man… Reid checked his schedule. Sure enough. He would be there fifth period.
The day continued… Reid did his best to discreetly get on the bad side of the students who would be a possible victim of the UnSub… the closest call was at lunch. He dropped a book and knelt to grab it, nearly tripping up a blonde junior right in front of her boyfriend and making her drop her lunch in the process. His stammered apologies did not calm the boyfriend, who felt he had to make a masculine statement and ended up chasing Reid across the cafeteria before the principal intervened. Reid couldn't help but notice the sparkle of amusement in the man's eye when he looked at his "new student" who was now stuttering out excuses and explanations.
And so the week went. Every night, Garcia or Hotch would call to check up on his progress, and Morgan to laugh at the stories of Reid's daily adventures in High School.
"It's kind of funny…" Reid told him Friday night. "That I attended High School when I was too young, and now I'm too old. But I never set FOOT in one when I was the right age… I kind of regretted it sometimes… now I don't. High School is almost as bad as Junior High."
"Almost?" Morgan asked, grinning.
Reid gave an audible snort, as if it were obvious. "Junior High is the armpit of one's scholastic career. The kids are just entering puberty, the hormones and testosterone run rampant, the boys are ready to "prove" themselves a man, but no maturity or respect has developed." He explained. Morgan just laughed. "You couldn't PAY me to go back to Junior High. As a student, OR a teacher!" Reid said, firmly.
"Right. Well, get some sleep, Andy. You gotta go out and do that thing you never do tomorrow. You know. Socialize."
"Hmmm… sounds great." Reid drawled, voice dripping with sarcasm. "And Morgan. Don't call me that."
"Night Andy!" Morgan called, and promptly hung up. Reid shot a glare at the phone.
Reid stared across the street; the information was good. There was a local café and coffee shop filled with the more popular kids in the school. Just down the road was another locally owned business. It was a book, music and video store, which was connected with a small old fashioned arcade, where the most prominent video games were the original Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games. Reid sighed. Which to go to first…?
"… May as well get it over with…" He mumbled to himself, and headed for the coffee shop. He walked up to the door, eyes on his shoes, headphones in his ears (though no music was playing). He pushed open the door and walked inside, listening to conversation trickle off into a thick silence. Through the corners of his eye, he identified several of the students he had pissed off over the past week, carefully doing it under the noses of teachers so that the students couldn't retaliate.
Reid walked up to the counter and ordered an extra large double. He paid and felt the hostile glares of the students on his back as he emptied a large amount of sugar into his coffee and stirred it. He took a long drink before turning and blinking at the students staring at him. He lowered his eyes and cleared his throat nervously, heading for the door. He had his eyes on one guy in particular. He wanted to lash out and try something… he could see it in his eyes. Reid took a deep breath… May as well make it easy on him. He headed for the door, drifting close. Sure enough, the boy stuck his foot out. Reid yelped and tumbled over it. He tossed his coffee and as he went down, he watched it go sailing over the table and splash over a pair of girls, one blonde, and one with red hair. Neither was natural. The girls shrieked in anger, and Reid got to his feet.
"I- I'm SO sorry!" He said, snatching some napkins and moving to blot up some of the coffee.
"Get OFF of me!" The blonde snapped. "Don't TOUCH me!" And she smacked at Reid's hands. A harsh hand on Reid's shoulder made him wince.
'Here it comes…' Reid grumbled to himself, and yelped as he was thrown backwards, toppling.
"Don't touch her you little freak!" The boy yelled. "You're just like them! One of the ones who's been doing this! Why don't you go to THEM?"
'Mass hysteria is setting in…' Reid thought to himself. 'Even though it's just a small handful of kids who are involved, anyone who looks like them are considered guilty… even me, the new kid in town. I'm guilty because of what I look like… such is the human mind.'
He yelped as he was kicked in the side… he wasn't sure who did it, but he would have to tease Hotch about it later… a High School kid could kick harder than his boss, a big bad FBI agent. Reid found this to be quite amusing, despite the situation. He struggled to his feet and ran for the door, his "research" concluded. He ran out the door, and inwardly cursed. They were chasing him… he didn't expect that. The mass hysteria was worse than he had thought. But at the same time, this could help him… He headed for the hang out of the "emo" kids. If they could see him being chased and tormented by the people that chased and tormented THEM, they might welcome him with open arms… He hoped.
Purposely, Reid stumbled and allowed the four boys pursuing him to catch up. Not that he was doing an overwhelmingly good job of outrunning them in the first place… he couldn't have gotten away if he had tried…
Inside the store, the High Schoolers jumped and stared when the new kid was shoved up against the front window of the store, tackled by two football players, a basketball player and a hockey player from their school. Several of them ran to the front of the store, eyes wide… a small group of about five hung back, leaning in and talking amongst themselves. The owner of the store went running out, screaming his head off about calling the sheriff.
Reid's attackers took off, and he was helped into the store by the owner. Reid chanced a glance at the boys in the back. They had their heads together, whispering as they watched him. Reid hoped that this was a good sign.
"You gonna be okay, son?" The store owner asked. Reid blinked at him, then forced a pained smile.
"Uh, yeah. Nothing new, I'll be fine." He said in a shy, embarrassed tone. "Happens all the time. Everywhere…" He trailed off and shrugged. The man cocked his head.
"… Me an' my dad move around a lot. I've seen, six different high schools in the past two and a half years." Reid made up. "I get this all the time."
"Wait here, I'll get you a soda." The man said, pushing Reid down into a chair. Reid nodded, trying to shove his hands into his pockets, only to find that his jeans were too tight for him to do so when sitting. He felt himself blushing slightly in embarrassment… he could feel them all staring. But it was different than in the café. There, the stares were hostile. Here, they were curious… and from the corner, calculating.
The owner of the shop returned, handing Reid a Sprite. Reid accepted it with a smile. "Thank you." He said, then turned. The boys from the corner had walked over. "Hi." Reid said, slowly standing. "… I'm Andy."
"… Brandon." Said the first boy, nodding.
"Brandon, James, Nick, Ethan and Seth." Reid said, leaning back into his chair. "I didn't get their last names. I didn't want to sound like I was snooping. I'll get them for you as soon as I can."
"Gotcha kiddo. But hurry up." Garcia said, smirking. "I need ingredients to work my magic."
"I'll get it for you." Reid said with a smile. He switched discs in the computer. His new "friends" had loaned him several of their favorite CD's. He had jut finished ripping Disturbed's "Ten Thousand Fists" and now popped in "Indestructible". He was flipping through the booklets in the cases. It only took him sixty seconds or so to read, and forever memorize, all of the lyrics.
Sitting on the computer table were albums by Black Sabbath, Metallica, Marilyn Manson (which Reid did NOT like at all), Incubus, and a couple of less known bands called Ego Likeness, The Dreamside and one that Reid actually rather enjoyed, The Cruxshadows. He was actually surprised at this band choice… despite it's almost… dark sound, their music was actually rather positive and inspiring, drawing a lot of their inspiration from mythology… That and they performed recitations of two poems that Reid had quite a liking for; 'Annabelle Lee' and 'Jabberwocky'.
Slowly but surely his MP3, which usually was filled with audio books, was filling with the music that these kids listened to. Reid argued that it was to get into their heads, but he actually found himself enjoying some of it, like The Cruxshadows and Disturbed…
"Let me know as soon as you have it, baby face." Garcia said.
"Baby face?" Reid repeated with a grimace. "That's almost as bad as 'pretty boy'."
"I'll be sure to tell Morgan."
"Garcia…" Reid groaned. "Don't encourage him." Garcia grinned on the other end… Reid closed his eyes… dammit, he could see her grinning. Hell, he could FEEL her grinning. "… I hate you."
"Don't you talk to my girl like that!" Morgan scolded, and Reid jumped.
"Wow… Can't even have a private conversation any more…" The youth grumbled, rubbing his eyes and shifting to lie down on the sofa. Morgan and Garcia grinned. "I hate you both."
"Hah!" Morgan laughed. "Sleep tight, Pretty Boy!"
"Don't let the bed bugs bite!" Garcia sang.
"Right…" Reid sighed, and hung up the phone.
Morgan stared silently at the computer screen in thought, and Hotch walked in.
"How's he holding up?" He asked.
"He sounds fine." Morgan said with a shrug.
"Is he hurt?"
"A couple of bruises." Garcia reported.
"How bad?" Hotch demanded. Morgan looked back at him.
"He said that they kick harder than a nine year old girl." Morgan recited, faithfully. Hotch blinked, then smirked and snorted in amusement, turning and walking out of the room.
"He's fine!" He called over his shoulder.
Morgan looked at Garcia. "What was that about?"
"No idea…" Garcia said, slowly.
Reid sighed and leaned back in his chair, re-affirming for the millionth time a decision he had made a long time ago… High school SUCKS. He couldn't believe the ignorance he was surrounded by… but then again, he was used to being around some of the most brilliant people in the world… but mostly, it was the students. Self centered, all of them… picking on each other, whoever was different… Reid pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to tune out the teacher lecturing on the US Government forcing the American Indians onto reservations. He turned and looked out of the window, tucking a few strands of hair behind his ear, wincing at the… stark blackness of it.
The bell rang, and Reid stood from his desk, slinging his bag over his shoulder and walking out of the room.
"… Andy." Reid turned and found himself facing one of the boys from the weekend… Seth…
"… Hi." Reid said, blinking.
"You have lunch now?"
"Uh, yeah." Reid replied, nodding. Seth eyed him, then nodded back.
"Come on." He said, jerking his head towards he cafeteria. "… Better to go in groups. Safety in numbers an' all." And he glanced to the side where several of the more popular male students walked by, shooting venomous looks at the pair.
"Ah…" Reid said, nodding again and tucking his hair behind his ear again. He then offered Seth a tentative smile. Seth blinked, then returned it. "Oh. Here." Reid said, and pulled the stack of CD's out of his bag and handed them over. "I appreciate it. My uh… my dad doesn't let me have music like this. I had to borrow my friend's CD's. But my MP3 broke in the move."
Seth smiled and shoved them into his back pack. "Bummer. C'mon." He said, and walked away. Reid took a deep breath and followed.
Seth led Reid to a table near the doors of the cafeteria where several boys and a couple of girls were sitting. They were all wearing dark colors, had dyed their hair dark colors, and had an interesting assortment of jewelry, tattoos and makeup. They all watched him approach.
"Hey." James said, jerking his head in greeting.
"Hi." Reid said, nodding.
"Andy, right?" Nick asked, and Reid nodded, sitting down. "Where you from?"
"All over." Reid snorted. "The old man moves around a lot."
"What does he do?"
"Ecologist. Studies the environment. We move every six months or so."
"That sucks." James grunted.
"Tell me about it. But we may be here a while. Dad said he would try to let me finish High School here if I wanted." Reid said. Hopefully, if they thought he would be around for a while, they would be more open to leading him to Gregory Nash…
By the end of lunch, Reid had managed to slip into easy conversation with the group. He had a great boost in his confidence that he could do his job of reading people well. After only an hour, they seemed to accept him. He was harmless to them, just like them… Maybe later, Reid would get to spring his secret weapon on them and tell the mortifying story of being tied naked to the goal post when he was in high school… Surely if he told that story properly, they would feel anger and a lust for revenge in him… hopefully, they would decide that "Andy" would have what it takes to join Nash's group…
But at the same time, Reid was having doubts. He was feeling guilty about deceiving kids who had already been deceived by Nash… made to believe such falsities… Only the thought of what Nash had done and would do kept him on his path of trying to fit in with the group of misfits…
Lunch ended and he headed to English & Literature. The class was presenting projects this week. Reid had been mildly amused by it. Each student had chosen a poem to recite out loud to the class, and then presented their interpretation of said poem. None of the poems were new to Reid so far, he knew them all. He had to admit, that some of the students' interpretation of the symbolism was very interesting from time to time… He began to think about analyzing things in general, and before he knew it, he was completely focused and thinking about the case…
He blinked, startled when the teacher called out, "Andy?" He stared at her.
"I know you weren't here when this project was assigned, but since everyone is reciting poems and interpreting the symbolism, would you care to join us?" She asked, kindly. Reid blinked several times, not expecting this at all.
"I uh… not particularly?" He offered, weakly. Titters ran through the room. The woman smiled, eyes sparkling.
"I don't expect you to do any interpretations but… perhaps there is a poetic work that you know and can recite? We can have a group discussion on it… think on our feet." She encouraged. Reid sighed.
"Okayyyy…" Obviously, she was hoping to include him and help him settle in sooner. Not what Reid had in mind, but he decided it would be best to play along. So… a poem. Something simple, something that a high schooler would choose… And something like the kid he was pretending to be… so nothing happy or cheerful. Shell Silverstein wouldn't cut it here. Robert Frost had already been overused by the class… E.E. Cummings wouldn't suit the character he was playing… What would? Hmm… His mind drifted back to the CD's he had listened to last night… Okay. He slowly stood, having made his choice. It was well known, but had dark undertones…
"It was many and many a year ago
In a Kingdom by the sea
That a maiden there lived
Whom you may know
By the name of Annabelle Lee
And this maiden she lived with no other thoughts
Than to love and be loved by me
I was a child and she was a child
In this kingdom by the sea
But we loved with a love
That was more than a love
I and my Annabelle Lee
With a love that the winged seraphs in heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that long ago
In the kingdom by the sea
That a wind came out of a cloud
Killing my beautiful Annabelle Lee
So that her high born kinsman came
And bore her away from me
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea
The angels not half so happy in heaven
Went envying her and me
Yes that was the reason as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea,
That a wind came out of a cloud by night
Chilling an killing my Annabelle Lee
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul
From the soul of the beautiful
For the moon never beams
Without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful
And the star never rise
But I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful
And so all the night tide
I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling
My life and my pride
In her sepulcher there by the sea
In her tomb by the sounding sea."
The teacher led the class in a half hearted obligatory applause, and Reid hastily sat down, blushing slightly. He hadn't expected to recite a poem, or to have a teacher gush over his recitation. He wondered what would have happened if he had chosen to recite his personal favorite by Edgar Allen Poe, "The Masque of the Red Death". That would have taken up the entire class period, and definitely would have raised some questions. The corner of Reid's lip twitched in amusement at the thought of it…
Then he noticed a couple of the girls looking at him thoughtfully. Oh dear God, this was NOT the kind of attention he had wanted to attract. Not that they weren't pretty, but…
He blinked and forced himself to try and listen to the teacher attempting to prompt a class discussion of "Annabelle Lee". He was WORKING for God's sake! Not looking for a date!
'Not like any of them are REALLY interested…' Reid told himself firmly. 'And besides… it's not ME they would like. It would be Andy. Because they can't know ME…' And he sighed, now feeling a bit down. 'That and it would be statutory rape…' He admitted to himself, then winced and blushed horribly at the fact that he was even THINKING about that kind of thing. He was here to work! And that's what he would o. He was NOT here to try and have a normal life like a normal kid…
"A normal kid?" Reid howled into the phone. He was lying upside down on the couch, his back on the seat, his thighs up the back and his knees bent with his lower legs dangling over the edge. His head hung down towards the floor, and he was staring across the room and out of the window, not really noticing the nauseating upside down view.
"Honey… That's not unusual," Garcia soother in a motherly tone.
"Garcia... I'm NOT normal. I… I'm NOT a KID! I'm twenty four! I'm a twenty four year old genius on an undercover investigation for the FBI!"
"Reid, listen to me." Garcia sighed. "You didn't get to be a normal kid in High School. You said you were, what, twelve when you graduated? That Junior High, baby. You were a Junior High kid going to college. You didn't HAVE a normal childhood. Reid, what is NORMAL I for you to WANT one. And to want to have it now that you're experiencing what it MIGHT have been like… that's normal too."
Reid sighed and closed his eyes, awkwardly flopping around to lie flat across the sofa, rather than draped over it upside down. "I don't know, Garcia, I just…"
"Listen, kiddo," The warm voice said, a smile in her tone. "You're right. You're NOT normal. But there's nothing wrong with sometimes wishing that you were. And everyone at some point wishes that they could be a kid again. EVERYONE wishes that they had what they didn't have. It's just… being human. Reid, you know we all love you just the way you are. Where would you be if you HAD been a normal kid? You would be a nameless faceless nobody working the mail room at a corrupt corporation hoping to God that you aren't going to be laid off with the next downsizing and budget cuts, or something like that."
Reid couldn't help the slight laugh at that. Garcia smiled, sitting at her command center. "Tell me, Reid… If you had the chance to give up everything for a normal life, would you? Give up that big sexy brain? A career with the FBI? Your team?"
Reid closed his eye and let out a long sigh at that. "No. No, I guess I wouldn't."
"Reid, you were wishing for a normal life today. How many of those normal kids wished that they were something special? How many wish that THEY could be something cool and exciting like an FBI Agent? Someone important… someone smarter so that school wasn't so hard… How many wish they could naturally be a genius so that they could get into a good college that is out of their reach? How many of those kids would trade their lives for yours…? A lot, Reid. You were born special. Don't doubt the gifts you've been given. You are SO lucky to have them, kiddo. And we're lucky to have you."
Reid stared hard at the ceiling, and his vision became distorted with the tears that had gathered. He rubbed furiously at his eyes before they could fall, but his cheeks were burning and he was having trouble swallowing that lump in his throat.
"Reid…" Garcia called, softly. "We wouldn't trade you for anything. Don't ever try to be someone other than who you already are."
"Thanks, Garcia." Reid finally said, and Garcia smiled slightly at the quaver in the boy's voice that he was trying so hard to hide.
"Don't tell the team about this…" Reid requested softly. Garcia sighed and smiled again, nodding.
"Consider this the Confessional of the Almighty Oracle. These words do not leave this time or place. I absolve you of all guilt. Go forth my child, and sin no more." And she made the Sign of the Cross in the air.
Reid grinned. "Night, Garcia."
"Sleep tight, kiddo. I miss you. Call me again tomorrow, like a good boy."
"Sure thing. Bye."
"Brief us, Garcia." Hotch said, walking into the meeting room.
"Well…" Garcia said, slowly. "Reid has been there for nearly two weeks. He's… actually done a very good job so far. He's managed to get himself into the group of kids we suspected of being near Nash. They've even mentioned a monthly meeting in his presence. They took to him right away."
"… Really? Awkward Pretty Boy?" Morgan asked, surprised.
"Reid… took interesting steps to gain their trust." Garcia sighed. "He discreetly antagonized the muscle heads in the school, and made sure that he was within visibility of the subjects when he allowed the jerks to take their revenge."
"… Revenge?" Rossi asked, frowning.
"Uh…" Garcia stammered, then leaned back and sighed. "He let some kids kick the crap out of him outside of the store that the subjects were in."
"… He did WHAT?" JJ demanded, horrified.
"He's fine." Hotch snorted. "Remember when I kicked the crap out of him in that hospital so he could get my gun?" Everyone but Rossi and Prentiss nodded. "He teased me about kicking like a nine year old girl."
"So THAT'S what he meant when he said those guys kicked harder than a little girl." Morgan chuckled.
"Garcia… tell Reid to knock it off." Rossi said firmly. "We don't want him hurt. Anything else?"
"… I think this is… a very educational experience for Reid." Garcia said, folding her hands and leaning back.
"… Educational?" Hotch asked. "How?"
"He's… playing the part of a normal kid in high school." Garcia said with a smile.
"Come again?" Hotch said, turning to fully face Garcia.
"Well, sir..." She said, throwing her hand out to the side in the direction of Reid's desk. "Look at the kid! Between his massive brain and his mother, he didn't HAVE a childhood! I think he's… I think this is good for him…" Everyone stared at her, silently contemplating the youngest member of their team. "Let's face it…" Garcia continued. "Just about the one thing that our kiddo DOESN'T know about is… how to be normal." Prentiss frowned, staring off into space. JJ and Morgan glanced at each other.
"The lady has a point." Morgan mumbled. "Our boy is FAR from normal."
"You're saying that you think that Reid is… enjoying this?"
"He's enjoying living a… a NORMAL life… even if it's… fake." Garcia said with a shrug, now feeling guilty. She hadn't told the team about her conversation with Reid, but this was coming awfully close.
"Garcia…" Hotch said, slowly. "Please remind Reid WHY he is there."
"Sir." Garcia said sternly. "I am sure that Dr. Reid is perfectly aware that he is there to do his job." Hotch stared at her, then nodded.
"Alright then. Just make sure he keeps checking in regularly."
"Hotch, babe… This is REID."
Reid frowned, poking at his lunch. School cafeteria food sucked… He only had a week… a week until the new moon… a week before another kid was murdered. He didn't notice that the kids at the table were murmuring softly to one another, glancing at him… then, they stopped and stared.
"Hey Andy…" Brandon called. Reid blinked and looked up.
"We're gonna go out this Saturday night. We've got a friend that lives right outside of town. Hang out for a night with… kindred spirits, you know? Wanna come along?" Reid's heart leapt. No way was it this easy…
"Hey Andy…" James said, and jerked his head towards several jocks walking by. "You said you always had problems with assholes like that…"
"… How bad?"
Reid sucked in a breath. No way could it be this easy… but he sensed that they were being sincere. Time to perform…
"There was this girl. Really popular… gorgeous." Reid said, slowly. "I got a message to meet her out back of the school. It was a set up. She was waiting there with a bunch of guys like that… the football team. They beat me up… they uh… they stripped me naked and, uh… tied me to the, uh… to the goalpost on the football field. In front of the whole school." The kids stared at him, appalled. Obviously, they never believed that anything Reid could tell them would be so horrible… Reid found it morbidly amusing that this was so far the only truth that they knew about him.
A girl, Tiff, reached out and placed a hand over his. "Kindred spirits." She said, offering him an encouraging smile. But her eyes were hollow. Reid knew that it was the brainwashing of Gregory Nash…
"You have entered the presence of the almighty omnipotent Garcia. Speaketh mortal."
"Garcia, I need to talk to the team." Reid said.
"Sure thing, kiddo!" And she turned over her shoulder. Reid winced and jerked his head away from the phone. "HEY GUYS! IT'S REID!"
"Ah…" Reid grumbled, twisting a finger in his ear. "Ow."
"Reid." Hotchner's voice called from the phone. Reid put the phone back to his ear. "What do you have?"
"I think I have the break we were hoping for." Reid said, slowly pacing back and forth across the living room of the apartment the Bureau had put him up in for this assignment. "Today at lunch, the kids invited me to go hang out with them tomorrow night… to meet a friend who lives outside of town. A 'kindred spirit', they kept saying. And… tomorrow IS the new moon…"
"I think you're right, Reid. Well done." Rossi said.
"Thank you, sir."
"Reid." Hotch said, suddenly. "If they're going to kill tomorrow night, they're going to need another victim." Reid stopped his pacing, suddenly feeling a growing sense of dread.
"… You… you don't think that they'll try to… have me help them kidnap someone, do you?" He blurted and ran his hand through his hair, eyes wide.
Hotch glanced at the other members of the team. "We have to consider that possibility, Reid."
"What? But… no! I—I can't!"
"Reid, if they ask, you're going to have to. We need YOU to get to Nash."
"But Hotch, I—"
"Listen very carefully Reid. This is Andy's profile. You're an angry kid who wants revenge. Your mother ran out on you."
"My father ran out on me."
"Your father didn't take care of you…"
"You have been bullied your whole life."
"I have been."
"Reid, knock it off." Rossi sighed, annoyed. He ignored Morgan and Garcia snickering.
"Hotch." Reid said suddenly, sounding determined. "I… AM a profiler, you know. I know what's needed."
"Can you DO what is needed, Reid?" Hotchner asked, frowning.
"… Yes sir."
"Reid, listen to me. When you go with them this time, I want you to carry your gun and badge. Just in case. But do NOT make a move against them or reveal yourself until you have law enforcement back up."
"I… I can't promise that." Reid said, slowly. "Hotch, I can't let them kill someone…"
"I'm not asking you to, Reid. But be careful. You are a GOOD profiler. You can talk people down. I trust you." Hotch told the young agent. Reid blinked.
"Yes sir. Thank you, sir."
"We'll be heading your way in the morning. Get some rest, Reid. Good luck."
"Night kiddo!" Garcia called.
"Shut up, Morgan!" Reid snapped, exasperated, and hung up. But he knew that Morgan was laughing…
He tried to go to bed… He tried to sleep. But he couldn't. He did NOT like the idea of helping to kidnap an innocent kid, knowing what would happen to them… But he couldn't betray his identity… He only hoped that when the time came, he would be able to handle it.
Late the next afternoon, Reid walked to the town square an hour and a half before he was supposed to meet up with the group of kids… The square was crowded. Strangely crowded… Reid looked around. Kids were standing around looking scared and upset. Gils were crying in their boyfriend's arms. Parents were milling around looking horrified. Reid swallowed thickly. He knew now that he didn't need to worry about being recruited to help abduct a victim.
Reid blinked and looked closer at the people. They were staring… so many were staring. At him. Reid frowned nervously and squirmed slightly. Their stares were so… hostile and accusing… Reid turned and hurried down the street a bit, before stepping into an alley and behind a dumpster, hitting his speed dial.
"Hey sexy. Lemme hear those sweet lips of yours speaking the speak I like to hear."
"… Uhhh… sorry to disappoint, but…"
"Oh! Reid! Hi!"
"… Hi." Reid replied, awkwardly. "Uh, Garcia, is the team on the plane yet?"
"On their way, baby cakes." Garcia replied, and Reid blinked. He would NEVER get used to some of the things that Garcia called him.
"Uh, right. Well, let them know… the next victim has been taken."
"I'm in the town square right now, Garcia. Tons of people. Looking scared, crying… and glaring at me. As if I'm the one who had brought this… pain and terror upon them. It's tense. Terrifying. Garcia, I'm sure of it. Tell the team?"
"Yeah. What are you doing?"
"… I'm going to meet up with my friends." Reid said. Garcia sat up and frowned.
"Reid? Your… friends?" She asked, her tone suddenly… on edge. Reid blinked.
"Uh, the subjects." He said, slowly.
"Reid." Garcia said in a stern tone. "They are NOT your friends. They are the accomplices of a serial killer."
"I… I know that."
"Reid, maybe you should meet the team and not go with the kids… follow them with the team from a distance."
"No, Garcia. I have to get to the victim. I have to get to Nash."
"Reid, I don't think—"
"Reid, don't you dare—"
"Bye." And Reid hung up. Moments later, his cell rang. Reid frowned and rejected the call. It rang again. Reid snorted and turned his cell off. He headed down to the coffee shop. It was empty this time, and for this he was grateful. He got himself a large coffee and wandered back out onto the street, stirring in the obscene amount of sugar that he always added. He stood off to the side and watched the people, thinking.
"Andy." Reid turned and smiled at Seth. "Let's go." Reid nodded and followed him. There were three cars. A small sedan, an old station wagon, and a mid sized SUV. Reid recognized all of the kids… all from the group he had been hanging out with. Reid eyed them, then chose to head for the SUV. The dominant kids would be riding there. The kids who would be more… talkative about what they would be doing. Reid climbed into the back seat and nodded to the others with a shy smile.
"Let's go. It's a long drive." Brandon said from the driver's seat.
The team turned to look at the laptop computer when they realized Garcia was yelling at them from its screen.
"What's wrong, baby girl?" Morgan asked.
"Reid." She said, and the team gathered around. "This was a mistake. I… I misjudged it, Hotch, I'm so sorry. We never should have let him… we should have known…"
"Known what, Garcia?" Hotch demanded, looking very tense.
"Reid never had friends. Never had a normal life. And he wanted to. He really did. And with this, he got the closest he's ever come to it. He, he called the subjects his friends. He's too close to this."
"Call him. Get him out of there."
"… I already tried."
"Tell him that it's an ORDER!"
"I… I can't. When I tried to tell him to back off and wait, he… he turned his phone off…" Silence met that announcement. Everyone knew that this was NOT good. If something went awry, the results would be very bad indeed.
"Hotch, there's something else."
"… The next victim has already been abducted. They're on their way to Nash. And with Reid's phone off… I can't track him."
"How much longer?" Reid asked from the back seat.
"We have to be careful." James said, looking back at him from the passenger seat. "People are looking for our friend." Reid's heart leapt.
"They don't like him. They don't understand that he's… he's only helping. He's started small, but… people don't accept us for who we are. This country is over run with the idea that the only people worth anything are… are football players… cheer leaders. People that THEY say are acceptable."
Reid WANTED to say, 'who is they?' But he had to agree with them… "You don't have to tell ME that." He snorted, sitting back and scowling. James smiled and nodded.
"Greg is trying to change all of that."
There. Greg. Reid took a deep breath. "You mean… that guy that that FBI was here for or something?"
"The attack dogs of society." Nick snapped, viciously. Reid stared at him, slightly alarmed. "They came running because a couple of cheerleaders were punished for their crimes. If it was US dying, they wouldn't care. They would say that we are troubled and disturbed youths who surrounded ourselves with negative people and habits and that's what ultimately caused our deaths." Reid wanted to argue, but he didn't.
"Yeah… Probably." He mumbled, looking out the window. He blinked. The car was slowing. He watched, curiously, as Nick got out of the car and ran over to the side of the road. There was a large amount of brush. A boy from one of the other cars joined him. They ran behind a bush, and a moment later, they were pulling a section of the bush away. The cars move through, and the boys let go of the bush, it's bough springing back into place, partially obscuring the dirt road. Reid glanced at the odometer of the car. It was exactly 87.6 miles from the town square where they had picked him up…
The boys got back into the cars, and they were off again. The sun was setting… Reid slowly looked back behind the SUV and towards the other two cars… where was the victim?
The team rushed off of the plane as soon as it touched down.
"How fast can we get there?" Hotch demanded.
"Last time it took us three and a half hours to drive there." Elle said, frowning. They all piled into the car.
"Then let's make it two hours." Hotch growled. "If that kid gets himself hurt…"
"Hotch, man… chill." Morgan said, though he sounded worried, too. "Our boy can keep his head cool."
"Just step on it."
Reid did NOT like this… not one bit. The road was VERY bumpy… it was slow going. They had been on that road for almost an hour… And Reid was about ready to lose his lunch, and felt that his teeth were rattling loose. Then, they rounded a bend, and Reid leaned forward to stare out the windshield.
"… What is it?" He asked.
"An old recluse used to live here. Died back when my dad was real little." James said. "He was a taxidermist."
"… Ah." Reid said, nodding. The cars pulled up to the old place, and the kids all got out. Reid got out as well, reaching into his pocket and turning on his phone. As they headed for the door, his phone went off loudly, telling him that he had voicemails. He pulled his phone out, innocently, and looked at it. Seven missed calls from Garcia. Five from Hotch, three from Morgan, two from Emily… even one from Rossi. He smiled in amusement, then looked up at the other kids, staring at him.
"A friend from Seattle." He improvised. "I'll be right in. I've been waiting to hear from him." The others nodded and disappeared into the run down cabin. Reid turned and wandered around the cars and into the trees, hitting speed dial.
"Reid! Oh, thank God!" Garcia answered immediately. "Are you okay? Where are you? You are in a steaming pile of—"
"Garcia! Where's the team?"
"Police HQ. They're pretty upset."
"Can you put me on conference with them?"
"… Sure… but be ready. Hotch is going to verbally rip you a new one…"
"I'll survive. Do it." Reid said, firmly.
"Sir?" An officer called, poking her head into the conference room. "A Garcia is on the phone for you?"
"Thank you." Hotchner said, turning and pressing a button on the speaker phone. "What do you have, Garcia?"
"Reid." She responded.
"Hey." Reid's voice said, tentatively. They knew that he knew he was in trouble.
"Reid, where the hell are you?" Hotch demanded, anger thundering in his tone.
"… I'm at the UnSub's place." Reid said, calmly.
"… Where?" Rossi demanded.
"You'll need the locals to help you find this place, sir. It's pretty well hidden. Start from the corner of Main and Fifth. Go out to Highway 73. Head North. Pull off to the side of the road on the right exactly 87.6 miles from the starting point I gave you. There's some brush obscuring a dirt road. Follow that road for 8.9 miles and you're here." Reid instructed.
"Where is 'here'?" Morgan asked.
"An old cabin. It belonged to a taxidermist who died a long time ago."
"… Old Marvin Stuart…" The sheriff mused. "I remember him. I was five when he passed. He had a cabin and a work shop out there in the woods. Came into town twice a month for supplies and to drop off orders. Damn! Why didn't I think of that sooner?"
"Enough, it doesn't matter. Is everything okay, Reid?" Hotch asked.
"Yeah, fine." Reid said, blinking.
"Any sign of the victim?" Rossi chimed in. There was a pause, and then a heavy sigh from their youngest team member.
"Not yet, no. But the sun is almost down. You guys need to get out here right away."
"Reid, I want you to get out of the there." Hotch said, suddenly.
"That's an ORDER!"
"I can't, sir. If I just disappear, they might panic. They might kill the victim, and Nash will run and we'll lose him! I have to stay where I am. I, uh… I think you know that."
Agent Hotchner sighed and slowly sat down, staring at the table top.
"Be careful, Reid." He said, softly.
"I will, sir." Reid said. "Get here as fast as you can." And he hung up.
"… Alright." Hotch said, standing. "Everyone to the cars. Let's get going."
Reid walked through the leaves, eyes on the small building. He pocketed his phone, took a deep breath, and opened the door. Faces turned and stared as he stepped into the dim room. It had been set up to look almost like a church. Old vermin eaten sofas, several chairs, all set up to face the fireplace before which an old coffee table had been placed, almost like an altar… And behind the makeshift altar stood a man.
"So…" drawled the man. "You must be Andy." Reid nodded.
"Welcome." And Gregory Nash stepped forwards, offering his hand. Reid took it. "Always nice to meet a kindred spirit." Nash continued. "I heard your story. About the girl and the football team." Reid winced and pulled his hand away. Telling kids who were suffering was one thing… having an UnSub know about that… He didn't like it.
"Don't be embarrassed." Nash said, reaching out and putting an arm around Reid, who felt… strangely comforted. "It's okay. We're all the same here. No one cares… and no one's laughing. You're one of us. We're a family here. We stand up for each other." Slowly, Reid forced himself to look up, and he looked Nash in the eyes. Piercingly blue eyes under black hair. His roots were showing that he had naturally reddish hair.
"You look scared." Nash said in a gentle tone. A moment later, his hand was resting on Reid's cheek. "Don't be. You've nothing to fear from us here." He smiled, then turned and walked away. Reid stared after him, stunned. This man was so… comforting. He seemed to radiate peace and understanding. Reid mentally shook himself. This was a serial killer. He blinked. The group was settling down on sofas. A moment later, Nash began speaking.
Reid had to focus, keep reminding himself about what was true… 'This man is a serial killer. I'm not a kid. I'm not Andy… I am FBI Special Agent Spencer Reid… DOCTOR Spencer Reid. I am here undercover to catch him. These kids are brainwashed… And this guy is a narcissist… he likes them focusing on him… looking up to him… It's like…'
He stopped his train of thought and looked up. The feeling of excitement had suddenly picked up. They were waiting with baited breath. Reid could see so many feelings in their faces… anticipation, fear, disgust and delight… a lust for vengeance. Reid turned at a thump and sob, and then James and Nick dragged in a girl… the blonde that he had tripped up in the cafeteria…
Her hands were bound before her and her mouth was duct taped… Her face was streaked with frightened tears.
"A whore of society." Nash snorted, suddenly a completely different person. He looked on her with such loathing, Reid briefly considered the idea that this man had split personalities. Nash reached out and seized the girl by her hair, dragging her across the room and throwing her down on the coffee table. Then he tuned. There was a chest against the wall. He threw it open, and the girl sobbed… it was filled with instruments of torture. Reid's heart was pounding and his hands were sweating. He checked his watch… It would take another forty five minutes or so for backup to arrive…
"Wait…" He said, and everyone stopped. They turned and looked at him. "You… you can't do this." Reid gasped, shaking his head. Nash stared at him.
"… What?" He hissed.
"What are you doing?" Reid demanded, moving forwards. "You can't do this to her! She doesn't deserve this!"
"What about you?" Nash asked, frowning. "You were humiliated. Treated as less than human. Tied naked to a goal post? Laughed at?" Reid shook his head.
"But SHE didn't do that!" Reid pointed out. "She hasn't done ANYTHING to me!"
"So we stop her now." Brandon snapped, scowling. "Before she CAN do something like that."
"But torture her?" Reid cried in disbelief. "Rape and kill her?"
"They all deserve it. They hurt us. We hurt them back." Nash snarled. "An eye for an eye."
"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Reid said, shaking his head.
"I'm doing this for you." Nash said. "And them. And everyone else who has fallen victim to people like her." The other kids were staring at Reid now, glaring. "Either you're with us, or you're against us." Slowly, Reid nodded. Seeming satisfied with that, Nash turned and picked up a knife. Shouts and gasps behind him made him turn back.
The boy called Andy stood before him, a steely look in his eyes as he held up a gun, pointed at Nash's chest.
"Let her go." Reid commanded.
"You think you can do this, Andy?" Nash purred, voice a smooth as silk. Reid narrowed his eyes, and then pulled out his badge.
"Special Agent Dr. Reid." He said, firmly. "FBI. Step away. NOW." The group just stared, stunned. Reid reached out and snatched the girl's arm and dragged her off of the table. He pulled her close to himself, and began to guide her towards the door, keeping his eyes and gun on Nash, who was glaring at him. No one made a move. Slowly, Reid and the girl backed out of the house, and Reid closed the door. Then he turned, ripped the tape off of her mouth and ran, dragging her behind.
"Come on!" He called back to her, holstering his gun.
"Thank you!" She sobbed. "Thank you so much!"
Behind them, they heard shouts. "Find them! They can't leave here alive!"
"Don't scream." Reid panted as they ran down the road, pulling out his phone and hitting speed dial.
"Hotchner." Came the answer.
"Where are you?" Reid shouted into his phone. Hotch blinked and put Reid on speaker phone.
"Reid? What's happened?"
"I need you here, NOW!"
"Where are you?"
"I have the girl! We're running, but they're chasing us!"
"What? Reid, I told you to wait!"
"I waited as long as I could, Hotch! I couldn't just stand there and watch them torture her!" Reid howled. His heart skipped a beat when he heard the whine of a dirt bike motor. He turned, eyes wide, when the headlight flooded their path. Stumbling backwards, he shoved the girl. "RUN!" He shouted, dropping his phone and pulling his gun.
"REID!" Hotchner shouted, and the team stared in horror at the shrill sounds of the dirt bike motor, shouts, and then, gunshots… four, five, six shots. Then, the sounds of struggles… a scuffle.
"You're no better than she is." A voice growled. "FBI…" There was a pained grunt from Reid. "That his badge? Let me see. I think I'll keep it as a souvenir… Dr. Spencer Reid, hm? Well, Spencer… If you're that determined to protect her, then you can just take her place."
"… What?" They heard Reid gasp.
"FBI Agents are government dogs… who promote the idea that people like HER are the only ones worth anything in this society… If you really want to protect her then you can take her place, and die like the dog you are." The other voice snapped. "Let's go."
And the team stared at Hotchner's phone in horror as they listened to Reid being dragged away…
Morgan was the first to snap out of it, quickly picking up his own phone.
"Garcia. Reid's phone is on. I need you to track it fast, baby girl. Our boy is in trouble…"
Reid stumbled across the ground, held tightly between a pair of boys that he really hadn't gotten to known. The girls in the group were standing on the porch, waiting for them. They sent venomous glares at Reid. Tiff, however, looked upset. Disappointed.
"I thought you were one of us." She said, sounding hurt. "I thought we were friends."
"… I… I had hoped that…" Reid started, slowly. He frowned and looked down for a moment, then looked back at her. "A friend would do all he could to keep his friends from doing something like this. I'm doing this for you." Reid yelped as he was cuffed upside the head.
"You don't care about us, Spencer." Nash growled. "You're protecting elitist scum. People who think they're better than others…"
"No, I'm protecting vulnerable kids from a charismatic brainwashing psycho serial killer." Reid said flatly, staring Nash straight in the eyes. Nash's eyes flashed, and he backhanded Reid. Reid yelped and fell to the ground, stunned. A moment later, he lifted a hand to the side of his head. It came away hot and sticky. Nash was wearing a ring, and it had torn a gash into the side of his face. Rough hands jerked him to his feet again. Reid shook his aching head.
"What did you call me?" Nash hissed, shaking in rage.
"You're a narcissistic maniac." Reid said. "You gather people who are younger than you. Victims of bullies who are looking desperately to fit in. You're older. You act like you're wiser and more worldly. You understand them. You become someone that they look up to. That they listen to. They trust you, and you feed into what they want to hear from you. That they are right and the people who hurt them are bad and deserve to be punished. And so you punish these people, and get these kids around you to believe that the kids you kill deserve it. You make them believe that you are taking revenge on their tormentors for them. You become their leader, their defender… their avenging angel.
"But at the same time, you are showing them what you are capable of. What you could do to THEM if they ever betray you. You are inspiring both loyalty, and a fear to keep them from turning on you. But ultimately, you don't care about them. You only care about the fact that you can control them. Because you can't control anything else." Reid said, trying to keep his voice calm and steady. He chanced a glance around. Good. The kids were looking nervous, glancing at one another and fidgeting. Some of them were looking worried. Reid took a deep breath and let it out. He had planted the seeds of doubt and fear into Nash's followers.
Nash stared at Reid, then snorted. "Who should they trust, if not me? You, Spencer?" Reid didn't say anything. "You deceived them. You moved in among them like a spy. You came into this body like a virus. To destroy us. Why the hell should they trust YOU?"
"They should trust their instincts." Reid said quickly. "And I can tell that their instincts are telling them that I'm right. Despite the confusion they're feeling. You did a good job brainwashing them. But I've seen better." Reid said, giving Nash a challenging smirk. 'Did I just say that? Do I have a death wish?' He berated himself, mentally. 'Dear God, I hope Hotch never finds out…'
Nash was glaring Reid down, snarling. There was a mad gleam in his eye… "Take him inside." Reid grunted as he was jerked through the doors. "Attack dogs of the government." Nash called, beginning a twisted kind of sermon. "The FBI… CIA… Police… All of them." He eyed Reid. "You're kind of the runt of the litter, aren't you, Spencer?" He snorted, smirking. Reid said nothing.
"We're not attack dogs." Reid growled through clenched teeth.
"I thought they were supposed to be tough." Nash said. "You look like a breeze would snap you in half, Spencer." Reid blinked. Nash kept calling him by his first name… Obviously, this gave him a feeling of power. In some American Indian cultures, Reid remembered, they would have two names; a name that everyone knew them by, and a secret name. If someone had their secret name, it was said that they held power over than individual. It had to be something similar… Reid went by a name that wasn't his TRUE name… He had used an alias, keeping his name hidden… secret… calling him by his true name was breaking through that protective shield and making him vulnerable… it gave Nash a feeling of control.
"What makes an agent is not a tough body." Reid said. "It's a tough mind." Nash frowned, then barked out a laugh.
"Tough mind, huh Spencer? Well… looks like it wouldn't take much to break YOUR body… so I'll work to break your mind…" He hissed, leaning forwards, getting right up into Reid's face.
"… Better than you have tried." Reid said quietly, and the inside of his right elbow seemed to prickle in remembrance… for a moment, he thought he could smell the nauseating odor of burning fish heart and livers again… He shuddered and mentally shook himself. He couldn't think of that right now.
Reid grunted as he was roughly searched. But he had dropped his phone in the woods… Nash had his badge and gun… the only thing they found on him was twenty bucks. Nash snorted and tossed it aside. He looked Reid up and down, then nodded to the two boys holding him. Reid struggled when they dragged him across the room, until one of them buried his fist into his stomach. Reid grunted and doubled over several boys converged on him, all looking angry and betrayed. Reid set his jaw and held his tongue as they beat him, only letting out the occasional pained grunt. Finally, he was shoved backward and slammed down onto the old table. He gasped as he had the wind knocked out of him. His arms and legs were jerked harshly, and he felt leather straps tightening around his wrists and ankles.
"He's uh… taller than the others." Someone said, snorted. Reid frowned, tugging at his restraints. Leather straps wrapped around his wrists and ankles, binding them to the legs of the table. He was left unable to defend himself. A flash caught his eye, and he turned; Nash had a knife…
"… Greg…" A girl said, eyes wide. "We don't have time for this… if he's FBI, the others didn't leave. They're probably on their way. We need to get out of here." Greg looked up.
"I'm not asking you to stay." He said, smiling warmly at her. "I know this pup has backup on the way. Go. Don't let yourselves get caught. Wait until you hear from me, and when the heat dies down, we'll all go together." Several of the kids looked thrilled with this suggestion. "Now go. I'm just gonna… leave the FBI a message." And with a flick of the blade, he sliced through Reid's shirt, then seized it in his hands and ripped it open, exposing his chest.
The kids looked back and forth between one another, then turned and hurried out. A small number of them stayed behind. They were bold… they were the more sadistic kids that Reid had identified. They wanted to watch this… they wanted to risk being caught, to show their loyalty.
Nash paid them no mind. With eyes gleaming in a sick joy, he used the knife to remove Reid's shirt completely. He smirked down at him. "Can't disappoint the FBI..." He drawled in seemingly mild amusement. "Can't change my M.O." And Reid gasped as the knife sliced through his skin. He chewed his lip, wincing as Nash littered the undersides of his arms and his belly with cuts, some shallow, some deep… they stung terribly, like paper cuts… But he went pale when one of the kids shoved a poker into the roaring fireplace…
"So." Nash said, casually. "You've been working this case the whole time, Spencer?"
"… Yes." Reid gasped.
"They never saw you."
"… I never saw them. I stayed at the station."
"… The police station." Nash clarified, watching in morbid amazement as blood trickled down Reid's white skin. Reid stared at him.
'Keep him talking…' Reid told himself. 'Keep him distracted. He'll be less focused on hurting me. Give the others time to get here…' He watched as Nash pulled out (Reid gulped) an ice pick.
"You know, Spencer…" Nash said, smirking. "My best subject was anatomy…" He glanced up at one of the boys. The boy nodded and reached into the chest of torture instruments and pulled out what looked like a scarf with a knot in it. He tied it around Reid's head, the knot positioned in his mouth, gagging him. Nash grinned, and Reid's eyes rolled in alarm when the boy pulled out a handful of the ice picks… Nash stared at Reid's torso, a frightening intensity in his eye. He placed the tip against Reid's stomach. Reid stared at him, eyes wide in fear, struggling helplessly against his bonds.
"HNNG!" Reid threw his head back, writhing in pain as the ice pick pierced his skin and slowly sank into his body all the way to the handle. Reid clenched his fists and closed his eyes in pain. Nash held a hand out, and a boy placed another ice pick into it. Nash looked over Reid, chose another spot, and his eyes sparked in delight at the pained cry that came from his victim as he forced another ice pick into his body, carefully avoiding vital organs. Reid groaned, thrashing and turning his eyes to the boys who had stayed behind, fixing a desperate gaze on them, but they did nothing, not even looking away when Nash slid yet another ice pick into the young agent's body.
"… We have to accept the possibility that Reid is… already dead." Rossi sighed, and Hotchner pinched the bridge of his nose. Morgan turned away, shaking his head.
"They know he's FBI." Prentiss agreed. JJ wrung her hands, anxiously. "He befriended them, he betrayed them. You heard what he said. Reid is just an attack dog. A puppet of a government that is against them. Nash sees himself as being better than Reid… He won't hesitate to kill him…"
"I'm not giving up on our boy." Morgan gasped, shaking his head. "Are we there yet?"
"In another ten minutes." The sheriff said from the driver's seat.
Hotchner sighed, leaning back. "I sent him in… if he's dead…"
"Hotch…" Prentiss said, turning and looking at him, concerned.
"It's my fault…"
Reid whimpered in pain through the gag, tears rolling down his face. Seven ice picks were lodged in his body at strategic locations. None had the potential to be fatal. Nash turned, and grabbed the poker from the fire. Reid's eyes widened, fixed on the end glowing bright orange. The tip of it was about the size of a dime… Nash looked Reid up and down, then smirked and moved in. Reid arched his back and screamed into the gag as the tip was pressed right above his hip.
"Greg… we ARE running out of time." One of the boys piped up. Greg smirked.
"Calm down." He said, smoothly. Another scream as he pressed the glowing metal against the agent's side. "You're right though… shame. I would like to really take my time with this pup." Another hiss, another scream. He turned and looked longingly into his chest of torture instruments.
"Evan." He said, and one of the boys looked up. "… Take the chest to your truck. And the two chests from the bedroom. Time to relocate. The rest of you… There are gas cans back in the workshop. I want you to start soaking this place. Cover ever door and window except the front door. Be meticulous. Go. Wait for me outside." The boys all nodded, then turned and walked out. Nash stared at the door they had left out of, then slowly looked back at Reid. "Shame I can't give you everything you deserve, Spencer. You just get the express version." He snorted and ripped the ice picks from Reid's body. Blood trickled down onto the table top, and Reid rolled his head from side to side, feeling woozy.
"You've been on this case. You know what I do. Three steps. I think you know what's next." Nash hissed. Reid blinked slowly, trying to focus through the pain. Murder… torture… A soft jingling noise made him look at Nash. The man was unbuckling his belt, a hungry look in his eyes as he stared at Reid. And suddenly, Reid's eyes widened and he paled. He felt ill. Nash moved and freed the agent's ankles, and ripped the gag from his mouth. "Come on, Spencer. I want to hear you beg…" He hissed, and his hands went to Reid' belt.
Reid shook his head. "Don't… you… you can't…"
"Can't?" Nash laughed, unbuttoning the pants and pulling down the zipper. "You know perfectly well that I can. I did it to them all, male or female. Because I don't CARE. You're all the same. You hurt, degrade and humiliate us… so I will do it to you."
"I didn't…" Reid whimpered, shaking as Nash jerked his pants down. "I've never hurt you. I only want to help these kids. What you're doing, what you're getting them involved with, it can ruin their lives! They're accomplices to rape, murder, kidnapping…"
"Shut up." Nash snapped, finally ripping what clothes remained off of Reid's body and tossing them aside. He was breathing harshly now, a predatory look on his face.
"Please don't…" Reid gasped, twisting his hands, trying to free his wrists from the leather straps. "Please…"
"I used to beg… just like that." Nash hissed, fumbling with something out of Reid's view, but he could guess. Spermicide in all of the victims… this guy was putting on a condom. Reid swallowed thickly.
"I, I never did anything to hurt you… you know what's it's like to beg…" Reid gasped. "Please… show the mercy you never received… show that… that you really are better than the kids who hurt you…" Nash stared down at Reid, then smirked and forced the agent's legs up over his shoulders, positioning himself. "Please!" Reid cried desperately.
The remainder of this scene has been removed due to explicit content
"Wait, what's what?" Prentiss said, suddenly, leaning forward.
"That's Beth Sautter!" The sheriff gasped, slamming on the breaks.
"The girl who went missing this morning?" Rossi asked.
"Yeah!" They pulled over and the agents leapt out of the car as she stumbled towards them, tears flooding down her face.
"Oh, thank God!" She sobbed. "Mr. Davids…" She threw herself into the sheriffs arms.
"It's okay, Beth." The man gasped, comforting her. Morgan looked at the caravan of cars behind them, and waved up one of the several ambulances they had tagging along. The Paramedics moved in and took Beth towards the vehicle.
"Beth." Rossi called, and she turned and looked back at him. "Special Agent Reid… He was with you?"
"He saved me…" She whimpered.
"Where is he?" Rossi asked. She looked at him and bit her lip, more tears flooding down her face.
"When the guy on the motorcycle came, he… he stayed behind to… hold him off…"
"… How much further?" Hotchner demanded. JJ looked at the odometer.
"3.2 miles!" She called.
"Let's get moving." Hotch said, and they all piled back into the car, leaving the girl with the ambulance.
Slowly, the minutes crawled by. Eventually, Nash slowly moved back. The agent groaned, weakly. Nash stared at hi, then staggered to his feet, stumbling across the room and through a door. A sink could be heard running, and then Nash walked back out into the room. He stared at Reid, shivering and gasping for breath, inner thighs smeared with blood. Nash buckled his belt, and walked across the room to stand over Reid. Slowly, Reid's eyes fluttered open and he tried to focus on Nash.
"Normally, I would slit your throat." Nash said, calmly. "But I think I have something much more fitting… Burning is… so much more painful. Goodbye, Spencer. You will live on in my memory… I will always savor this night…" And he turned and walked out of the room.
"Greg." One of the boys said. They had faithfully waited for him outside. "Ready?" Nash turned and stared at the house, then grabbed a gas can and poured a trail from the porch to about ten feet away. Then he tossed the gas can onto the porch, pulled a lighter from his pocket, and lit it.
"Thus dies Dr. Spencer Reid." He said calmly, and dropped the lighter. Flames sprang up, snaking across the ground and lighting he porch on fire. It reached the gas can, and there was a small explosion.
Slowly, Reid turned his head and stared at the door, strangely calm as he walked the flames spread. He had felt like this once before, this… strange calm. Almost a lack of emotion. Like he was accepting the inevitable. He could remember the last time he had felt this way… He had been chained to a chair in a small shack in a cemetery… The feeling came upon him as he recited Exodus 21:17.
"And he that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death…" He had recited. This was directly after confessing to Charles Hankel that he had sent his mother away to the Sanitarium. Quoting that verse had brought him to the realization that he was about to die. And with that realization for some reason brought a feeling of calm acceptance, immediately followed by a complete lack of emotion.
Reid had accepted his death as being inevitable. But ultimately, his team had arrived. They had found him, and been there for him. And right now, Reid had to believe that they would come through for him again. But that DIDN'T mean that he was just going to lie there and wait.
With a groan of pain that the exertion sent through his body, he rolled off the table and onto the floor. Then he slowly got to his knees, and jerked the table closer to the middle of the room. He struggled with the leather straps on his wrists, but he couldn't get them off… the fire was spreading around the perimeter of the house. Already there were flames in every window… Reid could already see that there was no way out… The fire would spread, the ceiling would be the first to go… Wincing in pain at every move, Reid crawled under the table and curled up.
He stared at a water bottle lying on the floor, and one of the torn pieces of his shirt. He managed to nudge the water bottle close enough to grab with his toes, and opened it. He soaked the piece of his shirt, and pressed the cloth over his mouth and nose… the smoke was beginning to invade…
Headlights appeared over the top of the hill. Brakes were applied, cars spun through the dirt, chaos reigned. From one group of vehicles, people poured out with guns drawn. In the other group of cars, frightened kids sat frozen in their seats, eyes wide in terror. The police and FBI agents swarmed over the several vehicles, pulling kids out, putting them in to handcuffs, and leading them to Police squad cars. Morgan ran from car to car, briefly searching them.
"HOTCH!" He called over the chaos, dialing his phone. "Reid's not here! Garcia, track Reid's phone! NOW!"
Hotch turned and looked over the struggling kids, then approached them, raising a hand to the police. They all stopped and everyone grew quiet.
"Andy," He said, firmly, "is a Federal Agent. Where is he?" The kids were silent. "WHERE IS HE?" Still nothing.
"What do you mean right on top of him!" Morgan blurted into his phone, then turned his flashlight onto the ground and moved it around. He frowned and walked quickly through the leaves. He leaned over, and picked something up. He turned and showed it to the team; it was Reid's cell phone.
"You kids do know that if something happens to him, you are all accomplices." Rossi said, glaring down the kids. "You won't be going to Juvie for this… you'll be facing Federal Prison." A ripple of fright seemed to move through some of the kids. Some of them just looked defiant.
"Your runt is going to die." Snapped one girl, glaring at Hotchner.
"Greg is gonna kill him." One boy piped up, suddenly. "They took him back to the cabin." Many of the kids stared at the boy in shock. "There… the road forks just up there. Take the right one. The other road was washed out."
"SETH!" Another girl gasped.
"Andy's right! Greg is using us!" Seth snapped back, looking confused and frightened. "He… He was only trying to help us…"
"Let's go." Hotch said.
"Hey… do… do you guys smell smoke?" JJ asked, looking around.
"Hey Hotch…?" Morgan said, slowly. He pointed up… The stars were being obscured by a cloud…
"Smoke…" Rossi said.
"MOVE!" Hotchner yelled, and pointed at Seth. "Bring him with us!" They piled back into the cars, Seth shoved into the back seat between Rossi and Morgan.
"Why are you helping us?" Morgan asked as they took off, wheels spinning in the dirt.
"… I… I liked Andy… I… He seemed so real. So much like us… I thought he WAS one of us." Seth sniffled, his voice cracking. The Agents glanced between the boy, and each other. "Take… take a right here." The sheriff turned.
"Reid is more like you than you know…" Morgan sighed.
"He… He told us a story." Andy said. "About… being beat up by a football team and… and tied up… to the goal post. In front of a lot of people… I really believed it… Is… did he…"
"… Was he stripped naked and tied to the goal post by the football team?" Morgan clarified. Seth nodded, and the team stared at Morgan. "Yes. He was a senior in high school. He was twelve." Seth stared at Morgan, then winced and looked down.
"… Greg's gonna kill him…"
"Fire!" Prentiss shouted. Six figures stood in front of the burning cabin, watching the blaze.
"In the middle. That's Greg." Seth said, firmly. Cars skidded to a halt through the leaves, people leapt out and ran at the six boys watching the fire. Morgan got there first. Greg turned, smirking, and his eyes widened at the agent flying at him. He was tackled to the ground and put in handcuffs. Morgan searched him, and had to resist punching the man in the face when he pulled Reid's gun and badge out of his pocket.
"WHERE IS HE?" Morgan shouted, praying that Greg wouldn't give him the answer he thought he would. But his heart dropped when Greg smirked and looked at the burning building.
"What's wrong? Attack dog misses his pup?" Morgan jerked Greg to his feet and shoved him into the arms of waiting officers. He turned and stared at the building, eyes wide.
"Morgan, let's go!" Hotch shouted.
"This place was a taxidermy! If the chemicals are still in there, this place is gonna blow!"
"Reid is in there, Hotch!"
"There's nothing we can do!" Hotchner shouted back, his face looked strained, eyes in agony. "He… We have to go…" Morgan felt his own tears burning in his eyes, and he shook his head.
"No man… No!" And he ran to the nearest ambulance, pulled out a fire extinguisher and ran for the building.
"MORGAN! STOP!" Hotch shouted, as Morgan sprayed the deterrent over the threshold of the door before charging through it. "DAMMIT!" He turned, looking at sheriff who was on the phone trying to get a forest fire containment crew out, and at his team, staring in horror at the building.
"REID?" Morgan shouted, running through the raging inferno. "REID? COME ON, KID! TALK TO ME!" He turned when he heard coughing, and ran into the main room. "Reid!" He ran, dropping to his knees by the coffee table. He ducked when debris from the ceiling rained down on them. He reached under the table, grabbing Reid's arms and dragging him out from under the thing. He vaguely registered a sick feeling in his stomach he got at his brief glance of Reid's body, but most of his focus was on the leather straps. He pulled his pocket knife and began to saw through them, all the while trying to encourage Reid…
"Come on, kid, stay with me. We'll get out of here. We gotta go." The leather straps yielded to the blade and Morgan got up, bending down and pulling Reid up by his arm. "Come on!"
Reid groaned, leaning heavily on Morgan, coughing violently. After only two steps, his knees buckled and he collapsed… The heat… it was too much. His vision was fuzzy… he couldn't focus. He could hear Morgan shouting at him, but he couldn't understand what he was saying… his whole body ached… He struggled to get his feet under himself, but a moment later his head thumped to the floor. He couldn't move… the roaring fire was beginning to quiet… the light from the flames was fading… Reid coughed harshly, and his eyes fell closed.
"REID?" Morgan shouted, kneeling and coughing. "Come on kid, don't do this… Reid? REID?" He grimaced and moved Reid into a sitting position, his head rolling limply on his neck. Morgan leaned Reid forwards and shoved his shoulder into the boy's gut and stood, Reid draped over his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around Reid's knees and staggered for the door… He heard more pieces of the ceiling crashing down behind him.
He looked at the doorway… it was full of flames again. But on the other side of the flames, he could see Hotchner, staring back at him. Hotch turned and yelled, and Rossi and the sheriff ran forwards with fire extinguishers, spraying the flames in the doorway.
"MOVE, MORGAN! THE FIRE REACHED THE WORKSHOP!"
Morgan didn't need to be told twice, he charged out the door as fast as he could, and he heard a small explosion. This was immediately followed by a much larger one. Morgan yelped as the blast sent him flying forwards. He lost hold of Reid and both of them went tumbling to the ground.
"Morgan!" Hotchner shouted, and another explosion ripped through the night. Hotch ran over and dropped to his knees between Morgan and Reid.
"He needs and ambulance, Hotch." Morgan coughed, as Prentiss dropped down on Reid's other side.
"He's not breathing…" She gasped, pressing fingers to Reid's throat. "He has a pulse." Hotch turned and waved the Paramedics over, then stripped off his coat and flung it over Reid's body, trying to preserve what dignity Reid had left.
"Sir, you have to move." A paramedic said, and she dropped down beside Reid with her partner, while another placed a hand on Morgan's arm.
"Sir, come with me."
"No." Morgan coughed, shaking his head and staring at Reid.
"Morgan, go." Hotch said. "I'll stay with Reid."
"No, Hotch, I—"
"Morgan. GO." Hotch said firmly, and Rossi grabbed Morgan's arm and marched him over to an ambulance, while Paramedics from the other came running towards Reid with a gurney.
"I need to get a Trache Tube into him." The lead medic said, and dug through a bag that another had dropped. Hotchner watched, swallowing thickly as they tilted Reid's head back inserted a Tracheal Tube, working on getting him breathing again. They lifted him onto the stretcher and headed for the ambulance, Hotchner following. He looked at Morgan, struggling with the Paramedics and trying to get the oxygen mask off of his face.
"Morgan. I'll ride with Reid!" He called. "We'll meet you there!" He climbed into the back of the ambulance, the doors were shut, and the vehicle pulled away.
"Do we still have a pulse?" One medic asked.
"It's weak, but steady." The other replied. Hotchner stared at Reid's pale face in anguish, before his eyes moved down his torso, taking in all of the injuries; cuts, bruises, burns… several punctures. The autopsies on the other victims revealed similar injuries. Deep punctures probably caused by an ice pick… Hotch closed his eyes and shook his head. The damage done to Reid's body was not as extensive as that of the other victims, and for that, Hotch was grateful. But the injuries were still horrific. It made him sick to his stomach, seeing one of his team in this condition.
The ambulance ride seemed to take hours… The siren was screaming, the lights flashing, but Hotch only had eyes for Reid… he felt responsible. This kid was HIS responsibility. He was his superior… He was the one who sent Reid into the lion's den… As they drew nearer to the hospital, he began to think… the victims… they were all tortured, raped and murdered… Reid had been tortured. Nash had tried to murder him. Had he…?
They reached the hospital, and Hotchner stepped out of the ambulance, following Reid into the ER. The ambulance bringing Morgan was right behind them. Hotchner watched a doctor run over and speak to the Paramedics getting the story on Reid. Hotchner grabbed her elbow as she moved to follow her patient and glanced at her name tag.
"Dr. Lennox. Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, FBI. Your patient is Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid. I uh…" He leaned closer to her, lowering his voice. "I need you to check for signs of… sexual assault." She stared at him, then nodded and turned, following after Reid. Hotch stared after them, then turned to check on Morgan.
"How's Reid." Morgan demanded before Hotch could say a word.
"… We'll see."
"Hey, there's my girl." Morgan said, smiling and sitting up in his bed when Garcia walked in.
"Hey, Morgan." She said with a smile. "So tell me… is there a back on that gown?" She asked. Morgan grinned and chuckled. "How's Reid?"
"Oh." Morgan said, raising an eyebrow. "Now we know what got you out of your cyber cave… The good Dr. Reid."
"How is he?" Garcia asked.
"He's in surgery. We're still waiting." Rossi sighed from where he was leaning against the wall. Hotchner was staring out the window, JJ and Prentiss were sitting side by side. Garcia gave Morgan a hug.
"Are YOU okay?"
"Just some smoke inhalation." Morgan said, coughing slightly. "they're keeping me for observation right now."
"Excuse me…" Came a voice, and they all turned and looked up Dr. Lennox walked in. She looked at Hotch. "Agent Hotchner, if you want to step outside we can—"
"We're a team. Reid is one of us. You can tell all of us." Hotch said. She blinked, then nodded.
"Alright. I'll give you the bottom line first. Physically, he'll be fine." She said. "One of the blows to his midsection ruptured his appendix. We had to remove it. He's receiving a blood transfusion right now. The main concern was the hot smoke he inhaled, but… he wasn't as bad as we thought…"
"He had tied a wet cloth over his face." Morgan said.
"That may have saved his life." Dr. Lennox said, nodding. "He has a few cracked ribs, several burns. They're bad, but they're small. Deep puncture wounds. They wouldn't have bled much while the instrument that inflicted them was still in the wound, but they would bleed freely once it had been removed. Several lacerations. Some of them bled heavily." She sighed and closed her folder, looking Hotchner in the eye. "Definite evidence of sexual assault."
"Oh my God…" Garcia gasped, gripping Morgan's hand convulsively. JJ's hands flew up to her mouth and Prentiss closed her eyes. Rossi lowered his eyes to the floor and Hotch let out a pained sigh, looking away.
"DAMMIT!" Morgan exploded, punching his bed.
"How bad." Hotchner asked.
"Bleeding and abrasions. Bruising. Not bad. At least, as far as forced sodomy goes… We ran a rape kit."
"Don't bother. Nash uses condoms." JJ snorted, scowling.
"Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing." Prentiss said. "Using protection decreases the risk of passing diseases, but it doesn't give us any forensic evidence."
"… We don't need forensic evidence." Rossi snorted. "We have a material witness. We have Reid."
"We have him on IV fluids, antibiotics and painkillers." The doctor said. "I would suggest a psych evaluation as soon as he feels up to it. But don't let him wait too long."
"Doctor?" A nurse called, poking his head into the room. "Dr. Reid is in recovery now." Morgan looked at the others, then stood and went into the bathroom. He walked out a moment later, dressed.
"Let's go." He said.
"Sir, we want to keep you overnight." Dr. Lennox said.
"I'll stay overnight with Reid." Morgan said with a shrug, and walked out of the room. Garcia blinked and hurried after him, and the team followed.
They were very quiet entering Reid's room. The lights were dim, and the boy was resting peacefully. Morgan sighed and Garcia smiled, reached out and tucking locks of chestnut brown hair behind his ear.
"He didn't look right with his hair dyed…" She commented.
"No." Morgan said with a slight smile. "He didn't." He reached out and laid a hand over Reid's. Slowly, the team settled in. About an hour later, Morgan sat up.
"Hey… I think he's waking up." He said, softly. He stared at Reid's fingers. They twitched again. He took Reid's hand in his and squeezed gently, and Garcia took the other pale hand in hers. Hotchner moved to the bed side and stared down at Reid.
"Reid?" He called, gently. Reid twitched. "Come on, kid."
"Oh, Reid, honey…" Garcia called. And Reid moaned, weakly. He slowly turned his head towards Hotchner, and his eyes cracked open for a second, before falling closed. Reid took a deep breath, and struggled to open his eyes again. The team waited silently while Reid opened and closed his eyes, trying to wake up and focus. Finally, he looked around, looking everyone over. His gaze finally rested on Hotch.
"… The girl…" He groaned softly, his voice muffled by the oxygen mask over his face.
"She's fine." Hotch said. Reid closed his eyes for a moment, then ran his tongue over dry lips.
"We've got him, Reid. We have them all." Hotch told him. Reid's lips twitched in the shadow of a smile.
"Right here, kid."
"… Thanks. I owe you."
"… You did good, kid." Morgan said, smiling slightly. "You did good."
"You disobeyed a direct order, Reid." Hotchner said, suddenly. "I told you to get out of there."
"If I had left…" Reid said, frowning slightly. "Then Beth would be the one lying here like this… or worse." Hotch sighed.
"… I know. I should suspend you, Reid."
"Hotch…" Prentiss gasped in disbelief.
"But I would have done the same thing." Hotchner continued. "So would any of the others. You disobeyed me… but you did the right thing. What you should NOT have done was turn off your phone. We had no way to find you. We could have been there sooner."
"I, uh, I think that my getting rapid fire calls from FBI agents yelling at me would have… let the cat out of the bag." Reid pointed out, amused. Hotchner smiled slightly.
"Yeah. I guess so. Reid. I want you to tell me something. And I want you to be honest."
"In your professional opinion… do you think that you got too close to this case, Reid?" Everyone was silent, as Reid stared down for a long time, before looking back up again.
"… Yes." He said, softly. "I think I did…"
Hotch nodded, then gripped Reid's shoulder. "We're glad to have you back." Reid nodded slightly, eyes shifting around nervously, before suddenly taking on a pained look. "… Reid? Are you okay?"
"… He… I… I don't wanna talk about it." Reid said, avoiding everyone's eyes.
"Reid." JJ said. "Don't do this. You know you can't keep this hidden."
"We already know, Reid." Hotchner said, and Reid looked up at him, now looking terrified. "Sexual assault. The doctor told us. But we already knew that. It's okay." Reid shook his head, fighting back tears.
"No… It… It's not okay." Reid said in a high pitched tone. Hotch squeezed his shoulder.
"Reid. We're a team. And we're all here for you. Don't hide from us. Like you did last time." Reid's eyes darted up and locked onto Hotchner's, and his hands gripped convulsively at Garcia and Morgan's hands. Prentiss and JJ looked at each other, then stood and moved closer as Reid started to shake uncontrollably.
"Calm down." Rossi said, seizing Reid's other shoulder as the youngest agent started to hyperventilate. Tears breached his eyes and ran down his face. With an anguished sob, Reid lurched forwards. Hotchner gasped slightly and caught him, holding him tightly as he lost control, sobbing harshly. He felt Reid's hands clinging to him as if his life depended on it. The team converged on their youngest member, offering him their strength and support. Morgan moved to sit slightly behind Reid, putting an arm around him and running a hand up and down his back. Rossi held his grip firm on Reid's shoulder. Garcia was gently stroking his hair and Prentiss and JJ had a hand on each of Reid's legs, right above the knee.
"We're here for you, kiddo." Garcia sniffled, leaning over and pressing a gentle kiss to the top of his head.
"Let it out, Reid." Morgan murmured. "Just let it all out. It's gonna be okay, man. I know what you're goin' through… You know I do. You're strong. You can handle it." Dr. Lennox peered into the room, checking on her patient. She stared at the group for a moment, completely focused on the young man they surrounded, trying to alleviate his suffering. She decided that she could give him a physical examination later… Right now establishing a circle of support was vital. She closed the door, then turned. Standing before her, was a woman in her thirties, and a man in his fifties.
"… We're looking for Dr. Spencer Reid?" The man asked.
"… Right in here." She said, and opened the door.
"Elle! Gideon!" JJ gasped, and the group looked up.
"We came as soon as we heard." Gideon said, his face lined in relief and worry.
"Reid…" Elle called gently, and slowly, bloodshot eyes appeared over Hotchner's arm.
"… Elle…" came the ragged voice. "G-Gideon…"
"Hey Spencer." Gideon said with a smile. "How are you doing?" Reid finally released his death grip on Hotch, and accepted the embrace from Elle, and then Gideon.
"Thanks for calling, Garcia." Elle said, smiling at the other woman. Gideon looked at Hotch, and then they both turned and walked out of the room. Rossi blinked, and followed. Morgan and Garcia sat on either side of Reid with their arm around him, and Elle held one hand, JJ the other. Prentiss sat on the bedside, giving Reid an affectionate smile and laying a hand on his leg.
"What happened." Gideon asked out in the hallway. Hotchner sighed.
"I… may have made a mistake." He said. Rossi looked at Hotchner, then at Gideon.
"We sent Dr. Reid into the local High School undercover to find our UnSub." Rossi explained. "But he got too close to the kids he was with. He ended up almost a hundred miles outside of town by himself against this… cult group that was torturing and murdering the popular kids in the school. He was supposed to wait for back up, but he was unable to. He had to make his move before we got there to save the next victim and ultimately… HE became the next victim."
"He did a good job, Jason. Despite his errors in judgment, he held it together and kept a cool head. He got the victim out and led us to the UnSub." Hotchner said.
"And nearly died in the process." Gideon said, accusingly.
"Jason, I don't need this from you." Hotch said. "I'm getting it enough from my own conscience." He turned and looked through the window into the room at Reid and the rest of the team. Reid was smiling and talking with them, beginning to relax. "We're all here for him, Jason. Reid's strong. And he has Morgan to talk to about the rape."
"… Rape?" Gideon questioned. "He was raped?"
"It's the UnSub's M.O. Torture. Rape. Kill. The only thing that changed was that he didn't have enough time." Hotch explained. Gideon covered his mouth with his hand, turning away for a moment to compose himself before returning so that Hotch could continue.
"The torture wasn't as extensive, and instead of cutting Reid's throat, he left him to burn in the cabin. To get rid of evidence. He knew he had to abandon the place. And he saw Reid as a significant threat and wanted to punish him for daring to oppose him. So he decided to kill him in a more horrifying way while getting rid of a lot of evidence. It was overkill, yes, but he was killing two birds with one stone. And trying to leave a message for us. We're lucky we got there when we did. Another five minutes or so and we would have been too late." Gideon sighed, looking at the floor for a moment before looking back up at Hotchner.
"What next?" He asked.
"We have the UnSub in custody. Our job is done." Rossi said with a shrug.
"… All we have to do now is… help him heal." Hotch said, turning and looking back at Reid, who was blushing while Garcia pinched his cheek and kissed his forehead. The others were laughing. "He'll be okay." Hotch said, folding his arms. "Reid is strong. He'll get through this." And Gideon and Hotch went back into the room while Rossi went to get some coffee.
They stood back, watching the others. Reid looked up at them from over JJ's head, and smiled at them. It was a brave smile… he was obviously happy to be with the team, but there was still a haunted look in his eye. Gideon gave Reid a sympathetic smile and nod. Reid blinked and returned it, and the sad smile broke into an embarrassed grin at Elle taking his hands and teasing him about the black nail polish. Garcia laughed and pulled out her cell phone, showing Elle the picture of Reid in his full disguise. Elle's eyes widened and she burst out laughing, ruffling Reid's hair. Morgan was grinning broadly, arm still around the kid.
"You're right." Gideon said, looking at Hotchner. "He'll be fine. You guys are his family. With your support, he'll get though anything."
"… Good morning."
"Reid." Morgan said, standing and smiling. "How are you feeling?"
"Uh, Fine." Reid said, smiling back. Morgan grinned and nodded, walking over to Reid and clapping him on the back.
"Welcome back kid."
"Reid." Hotchner called from the door to his office. Reid looked up at him.
"You ready to get back to work?"
"Um, yes sir. Ready as I'll ever be."
"Hey Reid!" Garcia chirped, pinching Reid's backside as she passed. Reid jumped and blushed, staring after her awkwardly. Hotch smiled slightly.
"How was your week with Gideon?" Prentiss asked.
"Fine." Reid said with a nod, and smiled. "I'm ready to get back to work." Hotchner nodded.
"Good. I need everyone to the meeting room." He called, and the team immediately moved to obey. Hotchner stood where he was and waited for Reid. Reid stopped before him and blinked.
"Something wrong?" Reid asked, blinking.
"No." Hotchner said, and offered him a smile and a hand on the shoulder. "I was really worried about you. I'm glad you're back."
"Well, I'm glad to be back." Reid said, nodding.
"You know that we're all here for you, Reid."
"Yeah." Reid said, and smiled at Hotchner. "I know. That, uh… that's the only thing that kept me fighting to get out of there alive. I… I knew I could count on you guys to be there for me." He said, shrugging his shoulders slightly. Hotchner stared at him for a moment, then smiled and nodded.
"We are. Just as you are for us. Come on. They're waiting." And Hotchner and Reid walked together to the meeting, sitting down at the table. The team all sent smiles at Reid. He felt like he had come home. He leaned back in his chair, and gave JJ his attention.
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My apologies for all of the removed scenes. the site admin is cracking down on explicit content. If you wish to read the story in its entirety, you will be able to find it soon on adult fan fiction . net. Remove the spaces from that... site admin also doesn't allow links on this site... For the full story on this current crack down, please visit my profile.