Author's Note: Hello, readers! A couple of notes for you today.
First, please remember to stop by our forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" and grab a nomination ballot for the first EVER Profiler's Choice Awards! You have ELEVEN days remaining to nominate your picks and we'd love to hear from each one of you. Come, help us make sure that your favorite stories and authors get the recognition that they deserve.
Also at the forum, signups for our first ever ff. net based "Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic Exchange" are underway! All you need to do is reply to the thread at the forum or send us a PM telling us 1) Which pairings you would feel comfortable writing, 2) the central pairing you'd like to be featured in the story you receive as a Christmas gift, and 3) Name a Christmas carol plus three Christmas-y prompts you'd like to see in the story you receive as a Christmas gift (you'll only have to use three of the four items in the actual fic). Assignments will be given on November 1st and you'll have until DECEMBER 25, 2010 to post your gift. Further details are available at the forum. Please, let's make this a Merry Christmas for ALL!
Emily Prentiss had been on countless plane rides in her life. You couldn't be raised as an international Ambassador's daughter and not become well traveled. You couldn't have the job she did and not expect travel to be part of the job. After all, serial killers didn't come with a centralized location, now did they? But never had she been so happy to sink into a leather seat in her life...so happy about her destination.
So happy to be going home.
Maybe once she got back to DC, she could begin to put the events of the past few days in the past… where they belonged. Maybe both of them could, she thought grimly as she reached for her seatbelt and shot the profiler across from her a clandestine glance.
Frowning as she watched Spencer Reid stare sightlessly down at the book he held, Emily shifted her gaze out the tiny window of the jet. If she never saw the state of Colorado again, it wouldn't be too soon. Belatedly, she realized she hadn't had feelings about a place this strong since Italy, and she wondered if, like those grim days, these would take as long to overcome.
But overcome she would. Failure was not an option.
She heard the others around her. Their whispers...and she knew they were concerned for her...about her. But, she was fine, damn it. At least she would be, IF they ever managed to put this bird in the air where it belonged and got her the hell out of here. And another glance at Reid's drawn face assured her that she wasn't the only one that felt that way.
It was obvious that someone else was longing for home.
She knew the wan genius was stealing looks at her, too…even if he wasn't quite brave enough to say anything. And based on the reflection that stared back at her in the mirror this morning, she could understand the hesitation. She looked like hell. Both the bruising and the swelling had been more pronounced upon waking up to an empty bedroom.
Rossi had kept his promise to stay with her throughout the night, and it had been her hotel door softly closing as the sun shone through her bedroom window when he'd quietly left that had woke her up this morning. She was grateful to him; he'd held the nightmares at bay, at least for a night, and allowed her to get some much needed sleep.
But if appearances were to be believed, Dr. Spencer Reid hadn't been as lucky, the pale indigo bruising underneath his eyes indicating that the Sandman hadn't paid him the same homage the previous night.
Thanking whatever Higher Power currently watching the plane, Emily heard the engines finally roar to life and felt the tell tale vibrations preceding liftoff underneath her feet. Waiting until the sound had ebbed, she adjusted in her seat, clicking out of the restraining belt wrapped around her waist. Looking over at Reid's face, she realized that his posture hadn't changed in his seat. Hell, he appeared to be barely breathing. Breaking the silence between them, she whispered, mindful of their audience, "Reid, are you okay?"
"Fine," he mumbled, not looking up at her, his body tensing even more.
Noticing his fingers tighten around the book he held, Emily tried again. "You don't look okay, Reid."
Closing his eyes for a second, he inhaled deeply. "I read your report, Emily," he informed her softly, opening his eyes to refocus on the page beneath his eyes…anywhere but on her.
"Did you?" Emily asked faintly, unaware she was holding her breath, her chest suddenly tightening exponentionally.
"Yes. It was very well fabricated," he declared emotionlessly, his shoulders stiffening as he spoke.
"What?" she asked hoarsely, her eyes dilating as she examined the blank face of her friend. "Why would you say that?"
Swallowing tightly, Reid finally lifted his eyes to face Emily. "Because," he confided, his voice just above a whisper as his words caught in his throat, "they made me watch."
Reid stumbled into the small airless room as the guard behind him shoved the tip of his rifle into his back. Wincing in pain, Reid frantically looked around the room. No Emily. Where had they taken her?
"On your knees in front of the television," the guard barked behind him.
Falling painfully onto the cement floor as the guard swept his leg out, knocking him off his feet, Reid gasped as his knees hit the concrete. Where was she, he asked himself desperately, his normally ordered mind suddenly at the mercy of his emotions.
"Cyrus thought you might want some entertainment," another guard laughed darkly as he flipped on the small TV in front of him with a remote control. "He thought you might like to watch a little reality TV."
Blinking rapidly as he focused on the small box in front of him, his heart pounded as the screen suddenly filled with an image of Emily...Emily being ruthlessly slapped by Cyrus' open palm. His stomach rolled as the leader of the cult they'd been sent to investigate advanced toward Emily as she fell against the wall behind her.
"I can take it," he heard her say hoarsely, her monochromatic features contorted.
Eyes filling with tears as he watched Cyrus deliver a solid punch to her midsection, he heard her hoarse vow again.
"I can take it!"
"Can you?" Cyrus deep voice questioned, pinning Emily to the wall with a brutal hand at her throat. "Can you take it, Emily?"
No! Reid's mind screamed. "Why?" he asked huskily, blinking rapidly to try and clear his eyes as he watched Cyrus grind his body against Emily.
"Because the bitch needs to realize her place," one of the guards replied without feeling. "Women are put on earth for man's purpose. Girl needs to learn that," he said, nodding toward the television. "How quickly she learns it depends a lot on you."
"What?" Reid asked, looking over his shoulder as a scream echoed from the small television. Jerking his eyes back to the screen, he watched as Cyrus backed Emily back against the bed behind her, ripping her shirt open.
"You can make this stop, Agent Prentiss," Cyrus growled on the small screen, dropping his head to slam his mouth against Emily's, muffling her shriek. "Say no," he dared her, finally lifting his head as he ripped at her slacks. "All you have to do is say no."
Author's Note 2 - Also guys, please don't forget that if you'd like to advertise the awards on your own profile pages or stories, there's a short blurb on my (ilovetvalot) and Tonnie's (tonnie2001969) profile page for you to copy and paste if you choose!
Again, thanks to everyone reading, reviewing, alerting and favoriting this story!