Summary. . . . . . . . . . . Two agents go missing, one is found, just what has happened to the other? And how long do you keep looking?

Disclaimer. . . . . . . . . Not mine, never will be, just playing in this wonderful sandbox.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . . . Thanks to everyone who has taken time out to read this fic, and can only apologize profusely for the extra long wait. Here's chapter 17. Peanut x

Previously on Criminal Minds.

Eyes filled with tears looked up into his own as the head they belonged to nodded slightly. "It's just hard. I don't know at times what to believe, what's real and what's not." Reid hesitated before adding. "This is real, isn't it?"

"Yeah buddy, this is real. Your alive, and I'm here. We'll get you through this Reid, I promise." He watched as some of the fear began to leave his friends eyes, watched as they slowly began to droop, Spencer fighting the sleep that wanted to claim him. "Hey, go to sleep. I'll be here to wake you if need be."

"You promise not to leave me alone?"

"I promise." Morgan replied, settling himself down for an uncomfortable stay as Reid's eyes finally closed, his friends hand seeking his own and holding on tightly.

Reid sat at the end of his hospital bed, long legs drawn up, his head resting upon boney knees, his mind fraught with questions, his stomach churning with doubt, his eyes ever alert for any sign of danger. It was his release day, a day he had looked forward to for a long time, the sterile smell of the hospital too closely reminding him of the institutions his Mother had been placed in before he had found her current one. Now that the day was finally here though, he found himself wondering if he was ready to re-enter a world that had always been so cruel to him.

Sure the doctors and psychologists had been all smiles pronouncing him ready, but they didn't see what he saw, didn't feel what he felt, didn't suffer as he suffered. The nightmares were frequent, each time the same, chained and caged and alone, waiting for someone to come, only in his dreams no one ever did. They stole him from his rest, prevented him from returning until rough hands shook him viciously, pure sleep only coming to him under the help of heavy sedatives, but even then they invaded, always tickling the outer edges of his consciousness. The dark circles he had always worn, now even more pronounced.

It wasn't just his mind that he felt wasn't ready, it was his body too. Taking, yesterday, his first private shower since he had been found, Reid had looked on in disgust at how frail he had become, what little muscle tone he had previously had, wasted away as his body had fought to sustain itself. How the hell was he supposed to fend for himself, or battle off would be attackers, if he could barely lift up a pen.

As he thought of attackers, his breathing started to increase, a panic attack threatening to consume him. He didn't want to go out there into a world he no longer believed to be safe, into a world he knew held demons in every dark corner, but he also didn't want to stay here, in this room that was a constant reminder that some day this would probably be his life. He fought back the panic, he had to if he wanted to go home, and he did want to go home. He had things he needed to do, a person he needed to find, questions that needed answered.

Morgan had told him about his new apartment, about how they had tried to make it look like his old one, about the added security they had installed and the guards in the main lobby. Reid, concerned at first as to why he had to move, worried that the un-sub that had taken him was still out there roaming free, that the others had lied to him when they assured him that he was in fact dead, not believing them until Hotch had finally showed him the photo's that proved his nightmare was over. Now he needed to get there, needed to be alone so that he could get started on his plan.

Everyday he had waited for his door to open and hoped that every time that it did, he would walk through. But every time brought nothing but disappointment as everyone of his friends but the one he really needed to see entered instead. He'd tried every number he knew, but they all went unanswered; asked everyone of their friends and colleagues, but the answer was the same every time, no one had seen or heard from the man. Reid though knew where to find him, and now he only needed to be alone to do so.

He jumped as Morgan walked through the door, his friends eyes filled with concern as he took in the huddle form upon the bed. "You okay man? You know you don't have to leave so soon? You can stay here as long as you want, or you could stay with me if you don't feel up to going home."

He forced himself to unfurl, forced what he hoped was a smile upon his features as he clambered down from the only home he had known these past months. "No, I'm good. I want to go home." Adding to his words when he saw doubt creep across Morgan's face. "Honestly, I'm good. I need to do this."

He'd thought he would have been left alone once he had been taken to his new home, thought they would have all given him his space, he should have really known better. Between the girls hovering and mothering, and Hotch and Morgan trying to act as though they weren't scooping out the place for danger signs, and failing miserably, and the tension that ran through the room like an unstoppable freight train, he was beginning to wish he had stayed at the hospital. He must have shown the headache that was building, and the weariness that was engulfing him, because JJ suddenly started propelling him towards his bedroom, whilst at the same time ushering everybody else out of the door, waiting until he had collapsed across the bed before covering him with a blanket and leaving herself.

He waited, pushing down the pain and tiredness, before uncovering himself and walking towards the window, peeking out from behind the blinds and not at all surprised to see Morgan's car still sitting outside. He would have to go the back way. Making his way through his darkened home, his picked up his coat, bolted his door behind him and made his way to the elevator, making up plans as he went along. Getting a cab was easy enough, getting the driver to take him to the remote and out of the way spot not so much, a hefty tip in the end ensuring his cooperation.

The closer he got to his destination, the more sure he was he had been so terribly wrong, and as the taxi rounded the last bend and the cabin before him lay as dark as night, his heart sank. He got out anyway, sending the driver away, the need to be alone growing within him. Instinctively he knew where Gideon would have hidden the spare key, placing it within the lock and letting himself in, turning on the light and allowing his eyes to adjust, his gaze once they had done so, falling upon the folded up piece of paper resting upon the small wooden table. Walking over he picked it up, his hands trembling, as he opened it up.


I knew eventually you would be the one to figure out where I would have run to, but I also knew that I couldn't be here when you did so, no matter how much I really wanted to be, and for that I am truly sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen to you, and yet I feel responsible that it did.

It was me that insisted we check out the original crime scene without back up. It was me that walked us straight into that mad mans trap. It was me who he allowed to be rescued, when it should have been you. I was the senior agent, I should have known better, I should have made sure you were safe, but I wanted him stopped and my hunger for that consumed me, and you got hurt, and that's something I will never be able to forgive myself for.

So, I have gone away. Please don't try and find me, for I am no longer the man you once knew, no longer the man I once prided myself on being, and until I am that man once again, I am no longer fit enough for you to be around.

I'm so proud of you Spencer, more proud of you than if you had been my own Son. You have a light that shines deep within you that allows you to see good in everything, and that light with guide you through what troubles now lay ahead of you. You will beat this, coming out the other side stronger than ever, of that I am sure, and although I wont be there with you physically, I will be in spirit, I will be in your heart.

I hope someday, you will be able to forgive me for all that I have done, and who knows, somewhere, sometime, maybe we'll meet again. I love you Spencer, don't let this beat you, go forward and make a good life for yourself.


He stared at the letter long after he had finished reading it, emotions battling one another within him. He was mad, so very mad that Gideon had left. Sad that the man had felt the need to do so, he'd never blamed him for what happened, and he never would. He felt loved for the first time in a long time, and yet knew it wasn't just his mentor that felt that way about him, that the whole team did so. And he felt happy, because he knew Gideon was right, he could beat this, he would beat this, and he would come out the other side a better man for it.

He looked up with tear filled, yet happy eyes, as the door to the cabin opened and Morgan entered gun drawn, the older man re-holstering his weapon as he saw no threat.

"Dammit Reid! You know how worried the other's have been, how worried I was. Garcia practically threatened to rip the cab owners throat out if he didn't give her the information she wanted. What the hell were you thinking?"

"He's gone." Was all that the younger man could think of to respond.

"Who?" Morgan asked, his frantic mind not following Reid's train of thought.

"Gideon. He was here and now he's gone, but he left a note and he's right."

"About what?"

"Me. He's right about me. I am strong, I will beat this, and I will be a better man for it."

Morgan walked over to where Reid was sitting, and crouched down to his level before answering. "He is right. You are strong, you will beat this, and you will be a better man, although I have to say, you already were a pretty good one to begin with." Laughing along with the younger man at his words. "Now what do you say we get out of here? Or would you rather wait for the ladies to arrive?"

He looked back as he reached the door, looked back on what was his past, before stepping over the threshold and into his future. A future he now believed would be a bright one.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . Thanks to everyone who has stuck by me through this one, I can only hope that you thought it was worth waiting for. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a safe, healthy and happy New Year. Peanut x