Roughing It

Hatochiisai

Slash Warning Hotch/Reid- No smut in this one, sorry!

Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds any more than anyone else on this site does.

The SUV's skidded to a stop in the dirt drive, dust puffing up and blowing away on the late April morning air. People leapt from the vehicles, all of them were wearing black vests with white lettering… five of them bore the impressive trio of letters that made all the other men and woman look to them. F B I.

"Prentiss, JJ you go with Group A, take the main entrance." Ordered SSA Aaron Hotchner. "Group B and Rossi, with me. We'll take the back door. Morgan, take Reid and cover the barn. Get the victims out."

"Sure hope the victims are still alive…" Reid mumbled.

The group broke, everyone heading off. The police split up between the two groups taking the house. Reid and Morgan headed across the yard towards the barn. From the house they heard doors slamming and various shouts of "POLICE!" and "FBI!!!"

Reid moved to a side door of the barn and glanced at Morgan, then threw it open. Morgan charged in, gun raised.

"FBI!!" He challenged loudly into the dark barn. Reid followed. There was a truck in the middle of the barn. He and Morgan circled the vehicle, looking around.

"Clear!" Morgan called.

"… Clear." Reid answered a moment later, and they both holstered their guns

"This is the truck that witnesses described." Morgan said, slowly. "Old red Chevy… big scrape down the left side, here…"

"… Where are the victims?" Reid asked, poking around. He began to retrace his steps, then glanced into an old stall. He frowned. Was that a foot? Had it been there a minute ago? He stepped in, moving across the stall to the pile of hay in the corner. An old grubby boot was poking out, connected to a denim clad leg. Slowly, Reid knelt, pulling on a latex glove and reaching out. Suddenly, the hay exploded outwards. Reid gasped in surprise, then froze.

Eyes wide, he stared at the man who was now holding him by the front of his shirt, and pressing a gun into his stomach, just below the Kevlar vest.

"… Hello there." The man chuckled.

"Reid?" Morgan called. The man got to his feet.

"Over here." He announced. Morgan whirled, drawing his gun. But he froze. Reid was standing there, held tight against one of the UnSubs they had been hunting, a gun pressed into the side of his neck. A moment later, heads popped up out of the other stalls, hay falling from the men's bodies. There were four of them… They trained their guns onto Morgan.

"Drop it." Snarled the man holding Reid, clicking off the safety. Swallowing, Morgan did as he was told, slowly moving his hands out to the side and laying his gun down on the hood of the truck. As soon as he did, three of the men rushed him, jerking his arms behind his back and cuffing them there with his own cuffs.

"Put him in the truck." The man holding Reid ordered. Reid winced when he heard Hotch's voice in his ear.

"All clear in the house. Reid. Morgan. Have you secured the victims?" Reid swallowed, unable to answer. The man holding him snorted and jerked the earpiece away from Reid and dropped it in the floor, then forced him around to the bed of the pickup. He took Reid's revolver and shoved it into his own pocket, and nodded to his comrades. The two standing in the pickup truck bed jerked Reid in. The man kept his gun level on Reid's head, smirking at Morgan, daring the other Agent to make a move. He climbed into the pickup bed while his last two partners climbed into the cab. The motor started.

The leader of the group knelt, straddling Reid's hips and pressed the barrel of the gun to the back of Reid's head. Reid lay perfectly still on his chest, halfway raised on his elbows. The other two men knelt on either side of Morgan, their guns trained on him. Then, the man in the driver's seat stepped on the gas and the car shot forwards. The three men in the bed ducked as the car plowed through the barn doors.

Outside, Hotch looked up at the crash, immediately raising his gun. The truck spun and stopped. And so did Hotch's heart. Morgan was sitting in the bed of the truck leaning up against the cab, two guns trained on him. And Reid was lying face down on the floor of the bed, staring up at Hotch with a gun to the back of his head. Hotch felt a swell of pride… the young man was staring at him with brave determination, fighting back any semblance of fear.

"FBI!!!" Hotch shouted. "PUT THE GUNS DOWN!" But then the tires spun, and the truck took off. Heart pounding, Hotch broke into the run. Then, one of the men in the truck raised his gun, and fired. Reid and Morgan watched in horror as little puffs of dust shot up around Hotch as the man ran after them, hopelessly. Then Hotch stumbled, his shoulder jerking back, and he fell.

"HOTCH!!!" Reid screamed, forgetting about the gun. Scrambling up on his hands and knees he lurched towards the back of the truck, prepared to jump from the moving vehicle. But a hand seized the collar of his shirt and he was jerked back. "NO!" Reid cried, thrashing. "HOTCH!!! NO!!! AARON!!!" He cried, watching the man lying in the dust, slowly raising his head and staring helplessly after his abducted Agents.

Reid and Morgan watched as Rossi appeared, running towards Hotch and dropping to his knees beside the man, but Rossi too was staring after the truck and the two Agents in it. Then the car rounded a bend, and the two pairs lost sight of each other.

"… Hotch!" Reid cried again, giving one last thrash before falling still. He turned his head and fixed his eyes on Morgan. Morgan stared back at Reid, watching as tears threatened to breech the younger man's eyes. Reid lowered his head. Morgan frowned slightly, stretching out his leg and pressing his foot against Reid's shoulder. Reid twitched, then looked up at him, moving his hand up to grip Morgan's ankle. He smiled at the elder man slightly, grateful for the gesture. Morgan nodded.

Reid grunted as he was jerked up by rough hands in his armpits, and a moment later he was sitting against the back of the cab on Morgan's right. Morgan blinked and watched as the cuff on his left wrist was removed, and latched around Reid's right wrist. Reid glanced down and then looked up at Morgan. Morgan met his gaze for a moment, then looked back up at their captors. The men had all settled down and were talking just loud enough to hear each other the wind, but not loud enough to be heard by the Agents.

The car drove over a bridge and Reid and Morgan both turned and looked off to the right, taking in the view. They were a couple hundred feet over the river. Reid sighed, wondering what was going to happen to them…

The men stopped talking. After a few minutes, they reached another bridge, and the leader banged on the top of the cab. The car slowed to a stop.

"This is where you get off, gentlemen." The lead man said, and Reid and Morgan were dragged out of the bed of the truck and shoved over towards the guardrail of the bridge. Nervously, Reid glanced over the edge… it was a long way down…

"Over you go." The man said, smirking.

"what?!" Morgan gasped.

"Jump."

"… No!" Morgan yelped, and lunged. Reid gasped and stumbled as he was jerked forward with Morgan. Then it was all confusion. The next thing Reid knew, Morgan went over the side.

"NO!" Reid cried, preparing to brace himself. But Morgan was heavy. And with a yelp and a pain shooting up Reid's wrist and shoulder, Reid toppled over the edge, and the pair were falling. Reid's mind raced. "Feet first, ankles crossed, knees bent, tuck head and arms!" He shouted.

"what?!" Morgan yelped, and glanced at Reid. But the boy had done just that. His eyes were shut tight, but he had his chin tucked to his chest, his arms held close curled up protectively around his head and he plummeted feet first, keeping his knees bent and ankles locked. Morgan copied him and a moment later, they hit the water. Both bodies tensed in shock at how cold the water was. A moment later, they uncurled and began kicking up, thanking God that the river had been deep. They reached the surface, gasping for breath, and looking up at the bridge.

Reid was unsettled to see how far away it was already.

"Morgan! We have to get to shore!" He called over the sound of the river… it was getting steadily louder. Morgan nodded, and the pair struck out for the nearest river bank. But then, they reached the bend in the river, and the water picked up speed.

"Oh no… no no no no no…" Morgan gasped as he stared at the white water before them.

"MORGAN!!!" Reid cried in a panic, and then they were sucked under. And now it was a fight for their lives. They tumbled head over heels, knocking into each other, getting jerked away until they felt sharp pains in their wrists. It was only a matter of minutes before the metal cuffs had cut into their flesh. Their minds were whirling… they didn't know which way was up. All they could do was fight to get to the surface and suck what air into their lungs that they could when they could, and jerk on each other, trying to give the other the opportunity to breathe as well.

They didn't even try to talk… they didn't have time. All they could do was take a breath or two before their bodies were sucked under the churning water again as the rapids tossed them about, washing them downstream. Every now and then they would slam into something with bone jarring force. And they only prayed that the next time they collided with a boulder in the river they would not hit it with their heads.

They didn't know how long they had been fighting in the river. But their bodies were steadily getting tired… their minds were clouded and they were dizzy due to tack of oxygen. The roaring water assaulted their bodies and ears… it could have been hours…

Reid splashed feebly in the water, ready to pass out and just… give in. Give himself up to the river and let fate decide whether he lived or died. And then, just when he was ready to give up, the water suddenly dropped… and so did they. Reid let out a pitiful cry and Morgan a choked yelp as they went over the falls. Ignoring the overwhelming fatigue, both Reid and Morgan did as they had before, tucking their heads and arms into their torsos, and locking their ankles, plummeting down feet first.

They hit the blue pool at the base of the water fall, their bodies shooting deep into the water like stones.

It was so cold… Reid opened his eyes and looked up. Beside him, Morgan was kicking his legs, righting them in the water. Then he reached his free arm up and brought it down in a sweeping motion, beginning to drag them both towards the surface. Reid listened. Behind him, the water churned and thundered as the falls crashed into the deep pool… but above him, the light glittered on the surface… Reid stared at it; the rays of the sun trickled down over his face… It was beautiful… and that was the last thing Reid remembered.

"Hotch!" Rossi gasped, dropping to his knees by Aaron Hotchner, glancing up and cursing silently as he watched the truck speed away with Reid and Morgan being held at gun point in the bed. Hotch groaned, lifting his head and beginning to drag himself after the vehicle. "Hotch, stop… Lie still."

"Reid…" Hotch gasped, shaking his head and clutching at his shoulder, the hot blood running over his hands. "Spencer… And Morgan… Rossi…"

"We'll get 'em." Rossi said, his voice rough. He heard an engine roar, and then a black SUV shot past them, a determined looking Emily Prentiss at the wheel. Several other vehicles followed. "See? They'll get them." Rossi rolled Hotch onto his back and pushed his coat aside, ripping the shirt open and pressing his hands down against the wound. "Hold still, Aaron. You won't do anyone any good if you bleed out."

Hotch groaned, eyes falling closed as he grit his teeth against the pain. His hand fumbled at his neck, and he curled his fingers around a little gold ring that hung on a chain there. Set into it was afire opal; Spencer Reid's birthstone. The young man wore a matching ring around his own neck. It was Hotch's birth stone. A ruby. Out of everyone in the FBI, only SSA David Rossi and Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia knew about the relationship between the two gifted profilers. Hell, they helped them to keep it under wraps.

"Aaron. You have to go to the hospital. They'll take the ring. Let me hang onto it." Rossi said. Hotch blinked at him, then nodded. As they heard approaching sirens, Hotch managed to get the golden chain off of his neck. As Rossi was still keeping pressure on his wound, Hotchner moved his hand down to Dave's hip, and let the chain and ring fall into his pocket. "Now lie still, Aaron…"

Morgan woke to the sound of coughing. Slowly, he opened his eyes. He focused on Reid. The young man was on his hands and knees. He heaved and brought up more water, coughing and gagging. Morgan winced and slowly lifted his head.

"… Morgan… Are… are you okay?" Reid gasped, his voice rough. Morgan winced and coughed.

"… I feel like hell."

"You look like hell."

"Yeah. And you look like a drowned puppy."

"… Whatever happened to drowned rat?"

"… Puppy fits you better, Pretty Boy."

"… Right…" Reid said, and slowly helped Morgan to his feet, both groaning at the pain in their bodies. They looked around. Nothing but forests and mountains.

"… Where the hell are we?" Morgan murmured.

"… I'm not sure." Reid said. "I think our best bet is to head up river and back to the bridge."

"… Then let's go." Morgan said with a nod. "And let's see if we can't get these off." He said, gesturing to the handcuffs that kept the Agents shackled together. Reid nodded.

"Good idea. I don't know about you, but Nature is calling. And I'd rather not answer the call with you stuck to me." Reid snorted. Morgan slowly turned and eyed Reid.

"… Okay. Let's get these off right NOW. No offense Reid, but I don't think I want my hand that close to your pants."

"I don't want you fondling me either, Morgan." Reid said, and Morgan made a double take, surprised that Reid had actually SAID that. "Here." Reid said, and knelt by a large rock. He reached out and picked up another rock. It had a relatively flat side. Reid placed his hand on the side of a wedge on the top of the boulder. It was a relatively sharp edge. The chain was draped over it. Reid handed the stone to Morgan. "Here. You hit it." Reid said, and pulled the chain taught. Morgan blinked.

"You trust me?" He asked.

"More than I trust myself." Reid snorted, smiling slightly. Morgan blinked, then smiled and nodded.

"Ready, kid?"

"Do it." Reid said with a nod. Morgan raised the rock and brought it crashing down. A loud crack reverberated through the valley. And then another, and another and another.

"YES!" Reid cried as he fell back slightly, the broken chain dangling from a cuff on his wrist. "Be right back!" And he stumbled off into the trees. Morgan chuckled, shaking his head. He knelt and checked his ankle holster, pulling his gun. It was wet… but hopefully it would function. He slid it into the holster at his hip for quicker access. Reid returned a moment later.

"Hoo… okay. Let's go." Reid said, and their pair began to make their way upstream. "I hope it's not too far…" Reid announced after a few minutes. "Considering where the sun is, we have five hours before it sets."

"… wait… so… how long since we went into the river?"

"… Several hours." Reid said, turning and frowning. "I don't know about you, but the last thing I remember was going over the falls."

"Oh, I know." Morgan snorted. "I had to hold your head above the water. The water was fast, but it wasn't rough. I remember grabbing a branch at one point… trying to drag us out. But I slipped and…"

"and you hit your head?"

"… I don't remember." Morgan confessed.

"You have blood on your head." Reid said. "and a knot."

"… I do?" Morgan asked. He reached out and felt over his head. His fingers touched a wet sticky bump, and pain flared up. How had he not noticed it before?

"So how far did we drift?"

"… I don't know." Reid admitted. "We're lucky to be alive. Statistically we—"

"Reid. I don't wanna know. Yeah, we beat the odds, but I don't think I wanna know HOW close we were." Morgan said. Reid closed his mouth and nodded.

"Sorry." He said. Morgan sighed and shook his head.

"Let's go, kid."

And so the pair continued onwards. They traveled for hours. It was slow going. Morgan was fine, but Reid wasn't exactly what one could call athletic. He tired quickly. He moved slowly. He was clumsy and had to move even more slowly over difficult terrain. Morgan could have moved twice as fast without Reid, but the man would never leave his team mate behind. The kid was more than a co-worker… he was family. Morgan felt protective. Reid was like the kid brother he had never had.

The pair were climbing a hill covered in tall grass. They reached the top and stared.

"… Oh no." Reid groaned.

"… Now what?" Morgan gasped.

"… I don't know…" Reid breathed, stunned.

Before them was a broad expanse of water. The river had branched. Three different channels merged into one. And neither Morgan nor Reid knew which branch they had been washed down…

"Hey." Hotch looked up when Prentiss walked in.

"Did you get them?!" Hotch asked immediately, sitting up. He winced.

"Lie down, Aaron." Rossi said.

"Did you get them." Hotch repeated, staring at Prentiss. She looked at him, then sighed and looked down.

"… No."

"Aaron! Stop!" Rossi yelped when Hotch began to struggle to get out of bed.

"We have to find them…" Hotch gasped.

"And we will. But you are NOT going anywhere until the doctors clear you." Rossi said, firmly, and Prentiss laid a firm hand on Hotch and pushed him down into the bed again.

"Hotch… we're still looking." She told him. "We won't give up." She blinked when her phone rang. "Prentiss… You got them?! What about… what? They did WHAT?! Where?!" Hotch and Rossi stared at her, intently. "Yes. Yes. Thanks…" And she put down the phone.

"They caught them."

"Reid and Morgan?" Hotch asked immediately.

"… They weren't with them." Prentiss said, and took a deep breath. "One of the men said that they… threw them over a bridge. Into the river."

"I feel like I'm on Survivor." Reid snorted, dragging a branch across the grass. "are you SURE we should be out in the open?"

"This is our best bet." Morgan said, sitting on his knees before the small pile of kindling. He was trying to start a fire. "Out in the open with smoke to guide searchers to us."

"But how will they even know that we're out here?" Reid asked. "For all they know, we're still in the back of that truck."

"… I know. But this is our best chance, Reid." Morgan said. "And we want a good fire going to keep us warm. The night is gonna be cold. And we aren't exactly dressed for it."

Reid sighed. "Morgan… there are wild animals out here. Cougars, bears, wolves, coyotes… Moose!"

"… Moose? With all the lions tigers and bears out here, you're worried about moose?" Morgan laughed.

"… The bull moose can actually be very—"

"Reid." Morgan interrupted. "Why don't you use that big brain of yours and see if there's any vegetation you know that's safe to eat."

"… Alone?" Reid asked. Morgan looked at him.

"Yeah. It's getting dark. We need this fire going before night falls, and we can't look for food in the dark. If you're that scared, here." And he tossed Reid his gun. Reid yelped and fumbled it, but managed to catch it.

"Okay, okay…" He sighed, and shoved the thing into the hem of his pants and headed off, looking around. Morgan sighed and got back to work on the fire.

It took him a while, but he managed to get one going. And not long after, Reid returned.

"Hey, alright! Dinner time! Whatcha got, kid?"

"Wild Onions!" Reid announced, proudly.

"… And?"

"… That's it."

"… Onions?"

"… Yeah." Reid confirmed, blinking.

"Onions."

"Uh. Yeah."

"That's it."

"… Yeah."

"Reid."

"Yeah?"

"We can't eat just onions!!!!" Morgan cried, and Reid drooped.

"Fine! I'll go out and look for something else!" He pouted. "Why don't YOU try to catch a fish or something?!"

"With WHAT?"

"… Maybe you could shoot one." Reid snickered, and Morgan gave him a look.

"Very funny, smartass. Gimme my gun."

"No!" Reid cried, grinning and leaping out of Morgan's reach. "I need this!"

"For what?" Morgan asked, lunging again. Reid laughed and danced out of his way again.

"In case I run into a moose! Like I tried to tell you earlier, the bull moose can actually—"

"Reid!" Morgan cried. "I don't CARE about the MOOSE, Man!" And he leapt forwards. Reid let out a shriek and bolted.

"NO! MORGAN NO!!!" He screamed, and ran with Morgan close on his heels.

"Get back here, Pretty Boy!!!" Morgan shouted and chased him. The pair darted across the meadow, Reid yelping every time Morgan made a grab for him. They reached the trees and began a hybrid game of tag and Hide n Go Seek, and Morgan was It. Reid's long legs allowed him to leap over a fallen tree, and Morgan hurtled it a moment later.

Then, Reid burst out of the trees and skidded to a stop, eyes wide. "… Wow." Morgan burst out of the trees and tackled Reid, who yelped. The pair fell to the ground.

"Gotcha! Now gimme my gun!" Morgan laughed, moving to snatch the thing, only to find that in tackling Reid, the gun had slipped down beneath the boy's waistline and was now IN the front of his pant. "Aw, no…" Morgan winced. "REID!"

Reid sat up, shoving Morgan off and snickering. "Ha ha." He sang, then turned. "Look what I found!"

"Dinner?" Morgan asked, hopefully.

"… No!" Reid snorted, standing. Morgan turned and looked.

"Is that…?"

"A Beaver Dam!" Reid exclaimed. And sure enough, the river had been dammed up.

"… Can you eat beavers?"

"NO!" Reid cried, looking horrified. "You do NOT eat BEAVERS!"

"… So let's get to work finding something that we CAN eat then. Reid… Reid! Where are you going?!"

"I want a closer look!"

"… It's a pile of sticks and mud, Reid!"

"Did you know that the beaver's den is inside of the dam?" Reid called as he made his way closer. "And the beaver family never stops building and repairing and renovating… Their dens can weigh up to—"

"REID!" Morgan cried, laughing. "DINNER! Come on!"

"Look! A beaver!"

"Shoot it!"

"We are NOT eating a BEAVER!"

"Get your skinny ass back here before I eat your leg, kid!" Morgan cried.

"… Fine." Reid groaned, and reluctantly climbed up the hillside to where Morgan was.

"Come on, Pretty Boy. Let's rustle up some grub." Reid looked at Morgan, then smiled and nodded. And the pair headed back into the woods. They began searching through the undergrowth. Every now ad then, Morgan would hold up a plant and ask if it was edible.

"No," Reid would call, "Poisonous" or "you'll get a rash" and the like…

Morgan looked up when Reid let out a triumphant cry. "Hey! I found mushrooms!!!"

"Great…" Morgan mumbled softly to himself. "Onions and mushrooms."

"If you don't want them, fine!" Reid snorted, making Morgan jump.

"Don't scare me like that, kid!"

"… Wuss." Reid snorted. "It's starting to get dark. We should get back."

"Sure thing." Morgan said, and he and Reid began to make their way through the woods. Suddenly, Morgan froze. "Reid… my gun. Now."

"What is it?!" Reid gasped, freezing. He fumbled for the gun and handed it over. Morgan raised it. Reid followed Morgan's gaze. "You can't kill a bunny!" Reid hissed.

"… Reid! We have to eat something!"

"But it's a BUNNY! Garcia will KILL you!"

"What she don't know won't hurt her. And you ain't gonna tell her."

"… Oh yes I AM!"

"Reid!"

"… Don't. Shoot. The bunny."

"… We gotta eat. It's nature."

"RUN RABBIT RUN!!!"

"REID!!!" And the forest echoed with gunshots.

"Oh yeah… smell that?" Morgan breathed, inhaling the scent of the mushroom and wild onion stuffed rabbit. He grinned and looked at Reid. "Oh, come on, man." He groaned, taking in the cold glare that Reid had fixed onto him.

"You killed it."

"Hey. You wouldn't let me eat the beaver!"

"What if she had babies?!"

"Reid. The rabbit had balls!"

"… Well… What if it HAD been a girl?!"

"Ignorance is bliss, man." Morgan shrugged, and Reid sputtered, angrily. "Oh, come on. Have some!"

"I am NOT eating that!"

"Reid! I made the fire, I killed, skinned and stuffed the rabbit, you can at least try it!"

"… I WAS just going to have the onions and mushrooms. Until you stuffed them into that… that…"

"Delicious meal?"

"… That atrocity!"

"Whatever." Morgan snorted, stripping a bit of meat off and eating it. "Hmm… needs salt. But it's good! Try some!" And he offered Reid a bit of meat. Reid scowled and turned away. "Oh, come on…" Morgan groaned, rolling his eyes. Reid snorted and turned his back on Morgan. "Fine!" Morgan laughed, shaking his head and settling down to eat.

"Agent Hotchner, get back into bed this minute!" The nurse ordered, shrilly.

"No. My agents are out there, and I'm going to find them. And if you don't want me to arrest your for unlawful imprisonment or obstruction of—"

"Aaron!" Dave laughed, shaking his head from the doorway, Emily grinning over his shoulder. "You have got to be the worst patient in her career."

"He's damn well pushing towards it." The nurse growled, and Emily laughed.

"Come on, Hotch. Searchers are already heading down the river. We'll find them." She said, walking over and laying a hand on the Unit Chief's arm. "They'll be okay."

"Morgan can hold his own…" Hotch said, shaking his head. "But Reid… He—"

"He's with Morgan." Rossi said, firmly. "Morgan will take care of him. And the kid isn't made of glass, either. He'll be fine. They can both take care of themselves and they'll both take care of each other. Have faith in that, and get back into bed."

"… No"

"Why not?"

"… If I can't go out looking, I at least want to head to the station and—"

"No." Rossi said firmly.

"… I need a drink." Hotch groaned, rubbing his face with his hands.

"Get in bed and I'll smuggle something in to you." Rossi said.

"NO YOU WILL NOT!!!" The nurse shrieked. "OUT!!!! OUT OUT OUT!!!" And Emily laughed as she bustled Rossi out of the room, scoffing at the man's attempts to sweet talk her. Hotch stared after them, then smiled slightly, shaking his head.

"Hotch?"

"Yes?"

"We'll find them." She said. "YOU need to get back in bed. You're always telling us to stay until the doctors clear us. That goes for you too. Unless you want us to start calling you Agent Hypocrite instead of Agent Hotchner." He gave her a look. "Just sayin', Hotch." And she walked out of the room. Hotch sighed, and slowly sat down on the bed.

After a bit, he picked up his phone and dialed.

"You've reached the genie in the bottle. Rub me the right way and I shall grant thee a wish!"

"… Uh… right."

"Hey Hotch! How are you feeling?"

"… I'm going out of my mind." Hotch sighed, running a hand through his hair.

"No sign of them?"

"… No."

"Derek will take care of him."

"… That's what Dave and Prentiss said…" Hotch chuckled, humorlessly.

"Hotch… we'll get them back."

"… Penelope."

"Yes?"

"… Try to get some satellite images of the area where they were tossed into the river. With any luck, they got out okay and… well… Reid and Morgan will try to signal somehow for help." Hotch instructed, getting up and beginning to pace.

"Yessir. The moment I find something, you'll be the first to know. And sir?"

"Yes?"

"… Get back into bed." And she hung up. Hotch stared at the phone, slightly freaked out.

"… How the hell does she know…?"

Morgan woke to the eerie singing of wolves in the distance. He blinked and turned his head.

"… Reid?" He called. There was no answer. He sat up and looked around. There was nothing but darkness all around. And Reid was nowhere to be seen. "Reid?! REID!!!"

"WHAT?!" Came the yelp off to Morgan's right. Morgan turned and peered over the large boulder he had been sleeping against. A moment later he heard something moving, and then Reid shuffled into view, his arms full of sticks and branches. He knelt and dumped them onto the ground, tossing a few onto the fire.

"… What the hell, man!?"

"We needed more wood, and I had to pee." Reid said, calmly.

"You shouldn't have gone out there alone!"

"You were sleeping. I didn't want to wake you. I figured at least one of us could get some sleep." Reid shrugged.

"… You can't sleep?" Morgan asked. Reid shook his head, sitting down and hugging his knees to his chest. Reid looked up when the wolves took up their chorus again. "… You scared?"

"… Of what?" Reid asked, blinking.

"The wolves."

"Huh? Oh. No." Reid said, and smiled. "I actually have been listening to them for quite a while. They're beautiful."

"… Uh…"

"Soothing, but haunting at the same time."

"… Riiight. So why can't you sleep?"

"… I'm cold." Reid said, softly. Only then did Morgan notice that Reid was shivering.

"Well no wonder, kid. C'mere." Morgan chuckled. Reid blinked, then scooted closer. Morgan grabbed his arm and pulled Reid down to lie beside him. Reid tensed, eyes wide as he was pulled into Morgan's chest. "You aren't exactly dressed warm."

"… Neither are you." Reid pointed out.

"More than you are, kid." Morgan said. "Just relax. The rock blocks the wind. That's where most of the cold is coming from. I warmed up a lot once I moved behind the rock." Reid nodded, slowly forcing himself to relax, curling his arm under his head. He stared into the fire and felt Morgan settling down behind him. And before he knew it, hidden from the wind with the heat of the fire before him and Morgan's body behind, he was warm. He listened to the wind, to the fire, Morgan breathing… the river and the wolves… After a bit, he raised his eyes to the stars, and he smiled slightly. Before he knew it, he was asleep.

Hotch sighed, staring out the window of his hospital room at the stars. He winced as his heart clenched in worry for Reid and Morgan… but especially for Reid. Why the hell did everything happen to that kid?! He remembered a conversation he'd had with his brother Sean, a couple of weeks after they had recued Reid from the farm of Dr. Jonathan Wilkes, DMV.

"So let me get this straight…" Sean said, slowly. "He was held at gunpoint by a crazy high school kid… Held hostage by a schizo on a train in Texas… kidnapped, tortured and drugged by a psycho with three personalities, held for three days by the head of some cult, kidnapped and raped by a some creepy stalker guy who used YOU against him, and then kidnapped by some nutjob who was trying to turn him into his dead SON…?!"

"… Uh… Yeah." Hotch replied, sipping his beer. "In a nutshell, yeah."

"… Wow. Maybe you should change his name to Job."

"… Job?"

"Yeah. Guy from the Bible. God let Satan give the guy a string of the worst bad luck in history to prove that his faith in God would never be broken?"

"I know." Hotch snorted.

"… Like I said. Change the kid's name to Job."

Hotch was now seriously starting to consider his brother's suggestion. Reid's bad luck was absurd. But Hotch knew that despite it all, Reid loved his job, and would be crushed if he had to leave it… and if Hotch were to suggest that Reid pursue a different career, or suggest taking him out of the field, Reid would feel completely betrayed.

The door to his room opened and he turned.

"… Garcia?"

"… Hey Hotch." She said, walking in.

"… What are you doing here?!"

"Well… the case is wrapped up. The locals found the hostages. The UnSubs are in jail. All that's left is to find Reid and Morgan." She gave the man a sad smile. "I thought you could use some… company and encouragement." Hotch just stared at her. She sighed and walked over, sitting next to his bed and opening her fisted hand. On her palm sat a golden ring on a chain, with a fire opal set into the center.

"… Where did you get that?"

"Agent Rossi." She said, softly. "He'll be okay. Morgan's with him. He'll take care of Reid."

"If he's alive to do so." Hotch said, then winced at the look on her face. "Penelope. I'm sorry… I didn't mean—"

"It's okay." She said, giving a brave, but sad smile. "You're being realistic."

"But you like to be optimistic." Hotch pointed out.

"I can't think that they're… dead. If I do… I… I can't…" She drooped and looked away, upset.

"I'm sorry." Hotch murmured.

"For what?" She asked, looking up at him.

"Here you came in to cheer me up. And I go and bring you down." Hotch sighed, now thoroughly annoyed with himself. He admired Garcia's spirit when she looked at him, and smiled.

"They'll be okay. They'll take care of each other. We'll find them." She said, taking Hotch's hand. Hotch looked at her, and then gave her a rare smile.

"Of course we will." Hotch said. "Because we won't rest until we do."

"That's the spirit!" She announced cheerfully. Hotch blinked, and his smile widened.

"Thanks, Garcia."

"I cheered you up?"

"… Yes." Hotch said, smiling.

"Mission accomplished!" She cheered, then settled back. A moment later, JJ and Rossi walked in.

"Here Hotch." Rossi said, pulling a flask out of his pocket and passing it over. Hotch grinned.

"Scotch?"

"Bourbon."

"Wonderful." Hotch chuckled, unscrewing the cap and taking a drink. "Where's Prentiss."

"I made her go back to the hotel to get some rest." Rossi said.

"Good." Hotch said with a nod. "How's the search going?"

"Halted for the night. It'll pick up at first light." Rossi said. "I'm leading it in the morning. Emily needs to sleep in."

"Good." Hotch said again. "Find out when the hell I can leave."

"Hotch. Even if you are released soon, you can't join the search."

"Try and stop me." Hotch snapped. Rossi smirked.

"Oh, I think I will. I won't let them release you if you won't behave." Rossi grinned at Hotch's glare. "Don't worry, Aaron. We'll find them."

Morgan was woken by movement against his chest. He blinked his eyes open and looked down. Reid had shifted and was slowly blinking his eyes. Then, he frowned.

"Morgan?"

"Yeah?"

"… That had better be your gun I feel against my back." Reid growled, and Morgan froze, eyes wide.

"Huh? Oh." He quickly rolled away. "Yeah. Right here, kid." He said, waving his gun. "I'm going to go find a bush." And he ran. Reid slowly sat up, watching him go. Then, he smirked.

"… Liar." He snickered, stretching and turning to their fire, poking at the embers and tossing some more sticks onto it, getting the flames going again. Then he stood and slowly stretched, back popping. "Ah! Ooh… Damn…" He mumbled, then also went to go find a bush. He giggled to himself when he still got back first. Morgan returned a moment later.

"… Your gun, huh?"

"Huh?"

"Nothing." Reid sniggered. "So. I'm hungry."

"No shit. You didn't eat dinner." Morgan snorted.

"YOU get to find breakfast."

"I'm gonna go kill another rabbit."

"NO!"

"Well, unless YOU have a better idea…"

"Something other than killing innocent bunnies."

"I could go kill innocent beavers."

"You do NOT eat BEAVERS!!!" Reid cried, throwing his hands into the air.

"Oh yeah? Watch me." Morgan blurted, then turned and ran for the beaver dam they had found.

"NO! NO NO NO NO NO!!! MORGAN!!" Reid howled, stumbling to his feet and charging after him.

The pair zig zagged across the field shouting at each other, Morgan taunting Reid and Reid howling his displeasure in response. They reached the trees and tore through the woods. Until Morgan suddenly froze in his tracks. Reid yelped, smacking into him. Morgan grunted and stumbled forwards. Then, the pair stared at the large creature before them. The creature stared back, then snorted and shook his head, pawing at the ground.

"Don't move…" Morgan breathed, eyes widening at the sight of the massive, muscular creature and the huge antlers crowning his head.

"No… Run." Reid gasped, and the pair bolted. They burst out of the trees and high tailed it over to their little campsite. There, Morgan held his side arm ready, and Reid stood behind him.

"Damn…" Morgan gasped.

"I told you!"

"That was a moose!"

"I TOLD you!!!"

"… He was HUGE!!! And DAMN he looked MEAN!"

"I TOLD YOU!!!" Reid cried, throwing his hands up into the air. "The bull moose is actually—"

"Reid. I don't need a lecture worthy of National Geographic." Morgan said, turning and smiling at his young friend.

"… Told you the moose were something to be worried about." Reid grumbled, ducking away when Morgan went to ruffle his hair. "Let's try for fish."

"Fish?"

"Spring. The salmon migration."

"… Oh. I like salmon." Morgan said, and Reid smiled.

"So let's go get some."

"Aaaand how are we going to do that, kid?"

"We could weave a net with some grasses." Reid suggested.

"… What, did you take basket weaving in school?"

"No." Reid snorted, indignantly.

"Then how do you propose we do that?!"

"How hard can it be?"

Hotch stared at the doctor as the man checked his gunshot wound.

"Well, Agent Hotchner…"

"When can I leave?"

"… If you will let me finish." The doctor chuckled, listening to the exasperated sounds that his patient's team mates made, "I will get there. Now. The bullet went clean through. You're lucky. It missed your heart by inches. As well as everything else. It glanced off of your shoulder blade on the way out and chipped it. We removed the fragment. But other than that, there really wasn't any lasting damage. I anticipate a fast and full recovery."

"… When can I leave?"

"I would say first thing in the morning." The doctor said. "But I'm not."

"… Why!?"

"Because it would be 'first thing in the morning if you take it easy' and I know you won't." The doctor said, firmly. "I realize you have two missing agents, but you can NOT go out looking for them. So for the sake of your own health, I am keeping you here until they are either found, or until I think you are fit enough assist in the search."

"… What if I promise to take it easy?" Hotch asked. "Stay at the home base for the search?"

"… That's what I had in mind when I said 'fit enough to assist in the search'." The doctor said, and Hotch stared at the man in dismay.

"… you can't keep me here against my will!" The Unit Chief all but shouted.

"Aaron. You can't return to duty without a doctor's approval." Rossi said, firmly. "And if you try to, I'll report you to Strauss."

"… WHAT?!" Hotch cried, now looking shocked and betrayed.

"… It's for your own good, Aaron." And he walked over and gripped Hotch's shoulder as the doctor left. "Don't worry. We'll find them…"

"I can't believe that actually worked!!!" Morgan howled as he struggled to keep hold of the large salmon. "Now what?!"

Reid was dancing about anxiously, flapping his hands towards the bank. "Oh, I… I dunno! Smack it! On the- on the rocks!"

"What?" Morgan yelped, clinging to the fish's tail.

"Kill it kill it kill it!!!" Reid cried. Morgan looked around, then raised it over his head and brought it down, whalloping it on the closest boulder. Blood splattered across as the head was crushed by the blow.

"Hold this, kid! I'm gonna get another!" Morgan cried, shoving the fish into Reid's hands and diving back into the churning river with their little grass net.

"… Eeeewww!!" Reid wailed, grimacing and holding the dead fish at arm's length. He whimpered pathetically, then turned and sloshed over to the river bank, slipping about on the stones.

"HAH!!!" He heard behind him. "Gotcha, ya little fish bastard!" Reid headed towards their camp with the good sized fish, and when Morgan got there with another one, Reid was just standing there, looking confused.

"… What do I do with it?" Reid asked. Morgan chuckled.

"Put it on that rock and go find us some more onions and mushrooms or something, kid."

"… EEW! There's blood on me!!"

"So go wash up." Morgan chuckled, taking out his knife and gutting the first fish.

"… EW!"

"Reid! Go!" Morgan laughed, and watched the boy scuttle away. He returned about half an hour later with mushrooms and wild onions. "Perfect timing, Pretty Boy." Morgan said. He stuffed the fish with the fresh edibles and set the fish on a broad, flat stone over the glowing coals of the fire.

"Wish we had some salt and pepper…" Morgan grumbled. "Or even better… some batter and oil to fry them in… and a beer to go with it."

"I just want some God Damned COFFEE!" Reid growled, sitting down in a huff. Morgan chuckled.

"Awww… having coffee withdrawals?"

"Yes! I have a caffeine headache and it's KILLING me." Reid snorted. Morgan grinned and shook his head.

"Don't worry kid. When you're done with your coffee withdrawals, we'll make sure you stay clean of the stuff."

"OVER MY DEAD BODY!!" Reid howled, fixing a look of horror on the elder man.

"I will physically drag you away from it if I have to." Morgan said.

"… TRY IT." Reid challenged. Morgan fixed a hard stare on the boy, then grinned.

"Okay." He said, getting to his feet and stalking over. Reid's eyes widened.

"Morgan… what are you...? No. NO!" He scrambled to his feet, backing away. "Derek Morgan, do NOT touch me!" The man's grin widened. "NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!" Reid howled and bolted.

"HAH!!!" Morgan laughed, and gave chase.

"GET AWAY GET AWAY GET AWAY!!!" Reid shrieked, darting across the meadow like a hunted rabbit, Morgan on his heels. Then, a hand reached out and snagged the boy around the waist. He screamed and thrashed, but was soon lifted into powerful arms and slung over the man's right shoulder. Morgan grinned, wrapping his arm around Reid's knees and held his wrists tightly at his left hip. Reid writhed, but was unable to break free.

"No! Morgan! PUT me DOWN!!"

"Uh uh, Pretty Boy. I think you need to let things… SOAK IN."

"… What?" Reid asked, then stared at the river. "NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!! MORGAN!!! MORGAN!!! NO!!! I'M GONNA TELL HOTCH!!!"

"Hotch ain't here! And it's my word against yours, kid!" Morgan said as he waded into the river.

"NOOOO!!!" Reid screamed, and Morgan dumped him in. Reid let out a shriek at how cold it was, thrashing as Morgan laughed. Reid growled, then lunged and tackled Morgan around his knees.

"WHAH?!" Morgan gasped, then topped back into the frigid water. "Holy shit, that's cold!"

"You deserve it you asshole!" Reid snapped.

"Oh no… You're gonna pay, Pretty Boy." Morgan announced, and Reid shrieked as he was tackled. Then it was all flailing bodies, splashing water, screams, curses and threats. They fought their way downstream to a more shallow area, and then Morgan managed to get hold of Reid and lift him up high over his head, ready to throw him. Reid was screaming and pleading and laughing all in one breath. But then Morgan froze. Reid thrashed and he lost his balance and both fell back into the water.

"What the hell?" Reid laughed as he surfaced. But Morgan sat where he was, eyes wide. Reid turned, and froze as well.

A Grizzly Bear stared back at them. They had interrupted his fishing. And he was NOT happy. Morgan and Reid's eyes widened when the bear stood up on his back legs and walked towards them with a gruff, annoyed growl. The two elite FBI Agents splashed to their feet.

"AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!"

Startled, the bear jumped back and fell back down onto all fours. Reid was clinging to Morgan.

"HOLY SHIT!!!" Morgan was shouting while Reid chanted "OMIGOD OMIGOD!!! PLAY DEAD! NO!!! CHARGE HIM! OR OR OR… SOMETHING!!!" But the pair was steadily stumbling backwards, splashing violently as they did.

The bear let out a displeased bawl, then turned and hurried away, disappearing into the woods. He didn't know WHAT those crazy creatures in the river were, but he did NOT want to tangle with them.

Reid and Morgan went silent and watched the massive beast retreat.

"… I can't believe that just fuckin' happened!" Morgan gasped, feeling his trembling friend slowly let go of him.

"… Let's… let's go back to camp…" Reid gasped. Morgan nodded and the pair headed back. As they drew close, however, they found that the camp was not empty.

"GET AWAY!!!" Reid cried, running forward and waving his arms. The fox froze, then bolted in fright. Reid ran to the fire. "He didn't get any." Reid sighed.

"Thank GOD." Morgan gasped, and stripped down to his boxers. Reid watched the man lay his clothes out on the rocks to dry. Reid frowned, then slowly sat down, shivering.

"Reid. Take your clothes off. The sun is warm."

"… I… I'm okay."

"… Reid. You're cold. Let the sun dry your clothes and warm you up." Morgan groaned. "Don't be self conscious." Reid frowned, then rolled his eyes and stood, stripping his clothes from his body until he too was in his boxers. He laid his clothes out and sat down again. The breeze chilled him, but as the water dried from his body, it became pleasant. Reid sprawled out on a smooth part of the sun warmed rock. Morgan tended to their meal, and when it was ready, he found that Reid had dozed off. He grinned and shook his head, but was loathe to wake his companion. So he ate his portion. Yup. Needed salt. But other than that, it was great! When he was finished, he moved Reid's food upwind so that the breeze wafted the scent towards the boy. And sure enough, Reid woke quickly.

"It's ready?" He asked, rubbing his eyes. Morgan chuckled and nodded.

"Yup."

"Great! I'm starving!!!"

The sun was bout to set. The search party was spotted, returning. The leader had an eager look on his face. Emily Prentiss rushed over.

"What is it?" She asked.

"We can't continue, it will be dark soon." The man said. "But we have something to check out as soon as the sun comes up."

"What did you find?" She asked.

"We saw smoke. Like from a camp fire." The man said.

"Where?!"

"Several miles away. I'm going to wager that it's your missing agents."

"… Then they're okay…" She gasped in relief.

"Well enough to make a fire, ma'am. This place is too remote for it to be campers."

\

"Aaron."

"Any news, Dave?"

"Maybe." Rossi said, walking into Hotch's room. "Searchers saw smoke from a campfire right before they lost sunlight. They're gonna take a chopper out there first light. But they think it's them."

"… Then I'm going." Hotch gasped, ripping the IV from his arm.

"NO you are NOT!" The Doctor said sternly from the door. Hotch looked at her.

"I'm going in the chopper. I won't strain myself. I just have to know if it's them. Whatever we find, I will come right back here. I promise." The man said. The doctor scowled.

"Absolutely not."

"I don't give a damn what you say." Hotch snapped, and glared at Rossi. "And report me to Strauss if you want. I'll take the fucking suspension. I have to be there." Rossi blinked, then smirked and looked at the doctor.

"There's not stopping him this time." He said with a shrug.

And at first light, Hotch was grimacing at the pain in his shoulder as he climbed into the chopper.

Meanwhile, at first light, Reid opened his eyes, and screamed.

Morgan jerked awake. And screamed.

And the bear, who was sniffing at the rock that they had baked their fish on, let out a startled roar, stumbling back up onto his hind legs. Dammit. He KNEW he should have stayed away from the strange howling things!!!

Morgan and Reid scrambled to their feet, Morgan fumbling for his gun, and firing. The bear let out a bellow of pain and raised a great, clawed paw. He brought it down, swatting the gun from Morgan's hand.

"AHHG!!!" Morgan yelped, and wondered if his hand had been crushed by the strength of the bear's strike.

"RUN!!!" Reid screamed, and he and Morgan bolted. In different directions. The bear roared after them, then licked his side where the bullet was. The animal huffed. No major damage. He went back to nosing at the tasty smelling rocks.

Morgan ran into the trees and ducked behind one, panting. He looked down at his hand. His wrist was swelling, and it hurt when he moved it… but he COULD move it. And the pain wasn't excruciating. He guessed a sprain. Then, he realized he was alone.

"… Reid?" He hissed into the trees. No answer. "Reid?" He called. "REID!!!"

Still nothing.

When Morgan had bolted for the trees, Reid for some reason ran down to the river. In a panic, he ran downstream along the bank, stumbling over the rocks. He made it almost a hundred yards before he lost his balance and fell.

"AHH!!!" He cried out. "Oh…" He groaned, wincing where he lay. "Ow… ow…" Slowly, he moved to sit up. His palms and forearms were scraped and torn and bloody. And his knees were burning. Gasping, he rolled over and looked. The rocks had torn through his pants and into his knees and shins. Blood was soaking his pants. Whimpering, he rolled up the soaked garment and assessed the damage. "Okay…" He breathed to himself. "It's okay…" Wincing, he felt something trickle down his face. Groaning, he forced himself to his feet and stumbled to the water. He had a cut on his forehead. Gasping, he waded into the river to cleanse away the blood and dirt from his arms, legs and face. Once clean, he did another assessment. He'd had worse falling out of a tree when he was a kid. He would heal. Probably without scars, too. As long as he didn't get an infection.

Then, he looked up. "… Morgan?" The man was nowhere to be seen. Reid frowned. "… Morgan?!"

Then, he heard something. He frowned, listening… trying to focus in on it… trying to hear it over the water. Then, his eyes widened and he looked around. A moment later, a chopped exploded over the treetops, heading for the camp. Reid's face broke into a smile, and ignoring the pain and the blood dripping down his arms and legs and cheek, he broke into a run.

Morgan looked up. He knew that noise.

"… FINALLY!!!" He cried, and ran back to camp. When he broke out of the trees, he saw the bear hurrying away. The chopper set down in the meadow and several people jumped out. Two turned back to help a final man down. Morgan grinned.

"HOTCH!!!" He shouted, and took off running towards the chopper.

"MORGAN!!" Prentiss cried, and charged towards him. They skidded to a stop, the woman throwing her arms around his neck. "Oh thank GOD!"

"Hey, gorgeous." Morgan greeted, grinning. "Are YOU a sight for sore eyes." And he turned to smile at Rossi and Hotch walking towards them. Rossi was smiling, and Hotch looked both relieved, and frantic.

"About time." Morgan said, shaking Rossi's hand. "Hey Hotch." The two agents clased hands, then stepped forwards and wrapped their other arm around the other's shoulders in a brief embrace. "You okay?" Morgan asked, looking at the man's shoulder.

"I'll live. Are you hurt?"

"A few bumps and bruises."

"Where's Reid?!" Hotch gasped, eyes wide.

"Oh, he's here somewhere. We woke up and had a bear in camp."

"So we saw." Rossi said with a wry grin.

"Where is he?" Hotch asked, sounding a bit more relaxed.

"Not sure." Morgan said. "I ran one way, he ran the other… but he couldn't be far. He would have heard you guys coming. He's probably on his way back."

"Your head…" Emily murmured, reaching up to the big bump he'd gotten on their trip downstream.

"Hurt like hell the first day or so… Probably need my wrist seen, though…" Morgan said, looking down at the swelling joint.

"Does Reid have any injuries?" Rossi asked.

"A few cuts and bruises that come with living out here for three days." Morgan said, shrugging. Then he looked past them and his eyes widened. "… Or… maybe a bit more…" They turned. Reid had just reached the top of the hill. He was covered in blood, and limping badly, but he was smiling.

"HOTCH!!!" He cried, the relief in his face obvious to everyone. And then he broke into a run.

"Oh, thank God…" Hotch breathed, and ran to meet him.

"AARON!!! NO RUNNING!!!" Rossi howled after him. But Hotch didn't respond. The pair finally reached each other and Reid all but tackled Hotch. The man grunted and stumbled back, and the pair fell to the ground. And there, hidden from everyone's view in the tall grass, Reid captured the Unit Chief's lips with his own. Hotch blinked in surprise, then pushed Reid away.

"Not here…" He gasped, but was smiling up at the boy. Reid had tears in his eyes.

"I was so worried about you…" Reid gasped, then looked down at the man's bandaged shoulder. "Oh… I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"… I'll live." Hotch chuckled as they sat up.

"Reid!" Morgan cried as they reached the pair sitting on the ground. "What the hell happened, man!?"

"… I uh… I tripped." Reid admitted, smiling sheepishly.

"… Nice going, Pretty Boy. Get washed down stream, chased by a bear TWICE, survived in the wilderness for three days and two nights, and FIVE MINUTES before we get rescued, you do THAT?!" And he gestured wildly and Reid's torn and bloody clothes.

"… Sorry?" Reid offered with a shrug.

"Let's get you two out of here." Rossi chuckled, reaching out and helping Hotch to his feet while Morgan helped Reid. "And get Aaron back to the hospital before his doctor has a conniption."

Morgan collected his glock from the campsite, then boarded the chopper.

Hotch was NOT happy. The moment he got off of the chopper he was whisked away and found himself right back in his hospital bed, with his doctor bitching at him. And she would not BUDGE… she would not allow him to go down to be with his agents. So he sat back in the bed and just stewed in his fury.

About two hours later, the door to his room opened. Hotch looked up, and his boiling blood immediately calmed.

"Reid."

"Hey." Reid said, grinning and walking in.

"Well?"

"They let me shower and clean up and checked me over." Reid said. There were white strips of tape holding the cut on his head closed, and some large bandaids on his hands and arms. Hotch couldn't see what was on his knees and shins. "I'm fine. They just cleaned out my cuts and bandaged me up. I'm dehydrated and they want me on fluids. I told them they could do that here." Reid said, and sat down by Hotch's bed.

"Morgan is in Radiology. They're checking his wrist just to make sure it's not more than a sprain."

"I'm so relieved you two are alright." Hotch said.

"We're fine. We took care of each other." Reid said, smiling. "Not what I had in mind for my first camping trip, though."

Hotch chuckled. "Well… I'll take you camping the RIGHT way."

"Nah. I'm good. I've had my fill of nature for a while." Reid snickered, and Hotch grinned.

"Fair enough." The man said, and then the door opened.

"Alright, Dr. Reid. I let you come up here, will you co-operate?" The nurse asked, rolling in a stand and fluid pump with a bag of fluids hanging from it.

"… Oh, I suppose." Reid groaned, heaving a dramatic sigh.

"Behave, Agent Reid." Hotch snorted, holding back a grin. Reid just smirked and offered the inside of his elbow to the woman, who swabbed it, slid the IV catheter into the vein, and taped it into place.

"Thanks." Reid said. "Um… I'm hungry… Is there anyway I could have something to eat? And maybe some coffee?"

"Me too." Hotch said.

"I'll see what I can do." The nurse said, smiling. And an hour later, Hotch and Reid were enjoying their lunch. Emily walked in when they were almost done.

"Morgan's been released." She announced, and Morgan walked in, his wrists bandaged. Rossi, JJ and Garcia followed.

"Just a sprain." He informed them with a grin. Then he looked at Reid. "Hey! How come you got to have your fluids here?! They made me finish mine downstairs!!!"

"Because." Reid said with a smirk. "You try to get your way by flirting. I get my way by giving them the eyes and appealing to their maternal instincts." Reid said.

"… You sneaky little son of a bitch." Morgan cried, and the others laughed. Garcia swooped down on Reid then, kissing his cheek.

"I'm so glad you're okay!" She gasped.

"I'm fine." Reid laughed. "Thanks, Garcia. Morgan took good care of me." And he winked at Morgan, mouthing 'you're welcome' when Garcia turned onto the man and covered him with kisses and hugs and stroking his ego, praising him for being such a good, fine, hot, sexy, strong and brave hunk of man and taking care of her baby. Morgan grinned, winking back at Reid. The others snickered at this little exchange between the two men who were closer than brothers.

"Reid. Morgan." Hotch said. "I want you to know that I'm proud of both of you for taking care of each other out there." Reid and Morgan looked at their Unit Chief.

"It was all Reid, man." Morgan said, shaking his head.

"Not like you would LISTEN to me." Reid snorted.

"Kid… you kept going on and on about the moose!"

"The moose?" Emily asked, grinning.

"And I was RIGHT, wasn't I?"

"About what?" Morgan asked.

"About the moose!"

"What about the moose?!"

"Have you forgotten of how you ran SCREAMING from one?" Reid asked. Everyone turned and stared at Morgan.

"Excuse me. I ran screaming?! You weren't exactly the picture of calm either, Pretty Boy."

"I told you we had to watch out for them! As I tried to tell you SEVERAL times…" Reid said, and Morgan groaned. "The Bull Moose can get to be seven feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh anywhere from eight hundred to fifteen hundred pounds with antlers spanning up to six feet. While they usually aren't aggressive towards humans they will sometimes charge if frightened or provoked, especially during their mating season due to their high hormone levels. But if you run away, they usually won't chase. Which is why I said 'run' when you said 'don't move'."

"Thank you, Reid." Morgan grumbled, pinching the bridge of his nose as everyone else laughed. "Here I was hoping to get OUT of this mess WITHOUT a lecture on moose."

"Wow. This is better than the elevator." Garcia giggled, and Morgan groaned.

"Right…" Hotch chuckled. "So Reid's contribution to your survival was giving warnings about moose?" Hotch asked, and Reid gave him a look. Morgan chuckled.

"Hardly." The man said. "He kept us fed."

"Not really." Reid mumbled, flushing.

"Kid, you found the onions and mushrooms. And YOU made the net we caught the fish in."

"And YOU shot the bunny."

"You SHOT a BUNNY?!?!" Garcia gasped, eyes wide. "… HOW COULD YOU?!?"

"REID!!" Morgan cried, fixing a betrayed look on the boy, who just smirked.

"I told you I would tell if you did it!" Reid snorted, crossing his arms and leaning back in satisfaction as Garcia cried, "What if she had BABIES?!?"

Morgan responded the same way he had when Reid had said that exact thing. "He had BALLS!!!"

Hotch and Rossi chuckled while JJ moved to fawn over Reid, who enjoyed watching Morgan getting reamed by Garcia.

"Ahhh… Home sweet home." Morgan sighed as they left the jet. "Finally, man! I am going to spend my weekend enjoying civilization. Who wants to go clubbing?!"

"Oh, me!" Garcia gasped.

"… I'm in." Prentiss said.

"Nnnn… I gotta get back to Henry. Thanks though." JJ said, smiling.

"I could go for a drink, but I prefer Sinatra to the brain shaking stuff you two like to dance to." Rossi said, giving Morgan and Garcia a look.

"I gotta head home. Feed my fish and cats." Reid said with a smile. "That and… well…" He held up his bandaid covered arm. "My legs don't feel up to it either."

"… I got shot." Hotch said dryly.

"… Right." Morgan said. "See you guys later."

And half an hour later, Hotch and Reid were stepping into Reid's apartment.

"FINALLY!" Reid sighed, walking in and starting to strip right there. Hotch raised an eyebrow as Reid sat on the sofa in his underwear and went to tend to his legs. "Fuckin' itchy things…" The boy bitched under his breath. Hotch smiled.

"I was wondering why the strip tease wasn't a bit more entertaining." He chuckled, and Reid looked up, a confused look on his face.

"Strip tease? Oh. Ha ha, Aaron." Reid snorted, but smiled. Hotch put their things away, then sat down beside Reid with the first aid kit.

"Here… let me help you."

"YOU help ME? YOU got SHOT!" Reid laughed.

"And I'm healing well. Now let me help you. Go shower, and then I'll see to your legs."

"… Okay." Reid said, smiling. He limped across the loft and took a shower. When he came out, Hotch had the bed all set up. Reid settled down where he was told and leaned back into the cushions, stretching his legs out. Hotch shoved a pillow under his knees, then sat down and began to carefully peel the bandages away.

Apollo and Artemis leapt onto the bed and were soon both curled up in Reid's lap, purring. The boy smiled, scratching them under the chin. Hotch glanced up, smiling at the sight of his lover doting on his first pets. Hotch had to admit it… the kittens had grown on him. He had never known how wonderful it felt to stretch across the sofa and fell asleep with a warm, purring weight on your chest. Or to wake up to that, too. Reid seemed to share the same opinion.

Hotch had woken from several naps to Reid giggling and saying 'Well hey, you!' And he would turn to see his lover lying beside him, grinning at a kitten curled up on his chest, blinking at him. And then Hotch would look down at the kitten on his own chest, purring loudly. Usually it was the little girl, Artemis, a seal point Siamese. She had taken a liking to him. The flame point male, Apollo, liked to nap on Reid. Of course, after the kittens realized that both men were awake and ready to get out of bed, they would run across the loft to their food dishes and sit there, loudly whining, 'Nyao! Nyao!!! NYAAAOOOO!!!'. Then they would follow Reid insistently until they were fed. This made Reid laugh, so he would tease them, purposely walking by their dish several times just to taunt them and hear the frustrated 'MAAAAOOOOOO!!!' The little girl kitten would even pout and pant through her nose, making a frustrated, disapproving sniffing which would send Reid into gales of laughter.

Hotch glanced up at Reid and the kittens again when the giggling started. He grinned. The kittens hand their little paws on Reid's chest and were rubbing their cheeks against his, purring loudly.

"So." Hotch said after a few minutes. "You found mushrooms and wild onions, hm?"

"Yeah." Reid said, looking up at him.

"I didn't know you read about survival in the wilderness."

"I don't." Reid said.

"So… how did you know what was edible and what wasn't?" Hotch asked. Reid smiled and looked down, burying his face in his kittens' fur.

"… Jonathan Wilkes." Reid said, softly. Hotch stopped and looked up.

"He may have kidnapped me and tried to make me into someone I wasn't, but… He was very kind to me, Aaron. He really did treat me like I was his son. And… I learned a lot from him." Reid smiled and looked up at Hotch. "He taught me some things about the woods. He told me how… how he and his father would go camping. And they would find their own food. And he wanted to teach me so that… we could do that together." Hotch nodded, and finished reapplying clean bandages.

"… I'm proud of you, Spencer." Hotch said, moving up the bed to sit beside his lover. "You did VERY well." Reid smiled and moved down to rest on the man's chest. "… I love you."

"… When do you get to go back to work?" Reid asked.

"… Two weeks." Hotch snorted.

"HAH!! I win!" Reid cried. Hotch smiled, glancing down at the boy.

"Oh? And what's your sentence?" Hotch asked.

"I can be back on Monday." Reid said, his voice smug.

"Little bastard." Hotch grumbled, and Reid grinned.

"Of course…" He said, lifting his head and looking at Hotch. "I could always… say I'm not feeling up to it… And stay here. With you. All day… in bed?" Reid purred, running his fingers up Hotch's chest.

"… Hmmm…" Hotch mused, catching the boy's fingers and kissing them. "I could go for that." He said, running a hand down Reid's spine. Reid giggled, resting his head on Hotch's chest again. The man yawned, reaching out and flicking off the light. "Sleep well, baby."

"Night…" Reid sighed, and Hotch fell asleep listening to the breathing, and purring, of the boy and two kittens sleeping on his chest.

E N D

Thought I would give y'all somethin to keep you occupied. I'll be gone all weekend white water kayaking with my father. Now that I've grown up and moved out, we're finally spending time together. LOL But I shall return soon. I have something BIG planned for this series. Coming soon... TRAFFICKING. This fic will be the milestone and out Reid and Hotch to the rest of the team in a very traumatizing way...