Criminal minds - Fear of flying.
disclaimer - I own nothing, no profit made.
As the team filled onto the plane Aaron Hotchner observed them without even being aware he was doing it. He sensed their mood was somber, the case they were flying to involved alleged child abuse that in some cases was years old so it was no less than he expected. Emily Prentiss drew his eye as she sat, she seemed more affected than the others, she appeared tired and uncomfortable with her herself, she was fidgeting in her seat, her head was lowered and she kept touching her neck then lowering her hands to the side of her seat.
"Emily?" he waited until she gave him eye contact then lowered his voice before he continued, "Are you OK to be traveling with us today?"
She raised an eye brow back at him but the sharp response he expected did not come, "ummm, yeah, I just... just feeling a little ... off? Today."
He nodded his understanding, though obviously he couldn't draw any understanding from her brief response.
"I'll be fine by the time we get there i'm sure, maybe I just need more coffee!" she looked uncomfortable with her own joke, cleared her throat and sank back into her seat.
He watched her more closely during take-off but was forced to abandon his sideline in 'Emily watching' to continue updating on the case they were flying to.
"The man we have been asked in to profile is in his late 40's. He is a serial child abuser who has graduated to murder. We know his name, we have his picture so we're not being asked to identify this guy, we are going in to develop a profile to try to determine where this guy has gone when he's gone to ground. He has targeted single mothers with 10 to 13 year old daughters to enter into a relationship specifically with the intention of abusing the daughter, once she is of consensual age he moves on. We know that he is an alcohol abuser though in the beginning of the relationship he controls his intake and later spirals when the pressures of maintaining a false relationship to keep access to his victim bite. Its likely he physically abuses the mothers from an early stage but we don't have this confirmed. Prentiss and Morgan we have several surviving abuse victims I'd like you two to handle that. Rossi and Reid talk to the employer we know about and find any we don't. Garcia we need this guy's finances inside and out." Hotchner waited for the acknowledging nods from his team then distributed the files they needed to be familiar with by the time they landed.
He resumed his seat opposite Emily Prentiss as she began reading the first file, though he was meant to be reading the overall briefing from the local PD he kept glancing up at her, he vaguely wondered if she was aware he was doing it. She shuffled around in her seat again, took in a deep breath and blew it out while placing the file she was reading on the table between them and then resumed her reading.
She cleared her throat, "Wow, there isn't much this guy didn't do to this girl, started off exposing himself to her, then sexual touching then forced her to perform just about every sex act you can imagine over the next year. Except sodomy. He earned her trust, normalized some of his behavior, made it everyday so she didn't realize his demands were escalating, so she didn't have one horrific event to report, made her doubt it was abuse at all, had she consented in the beginning and could she really stop him now."
Hotchner nodded his agreement, "He completely dominates both of them, destroys their relationship with each other so they're both afraid to break free from him."
Prentiss raised her eyebrows, "But still, the file indicates the mothers suspected abuse, what sort of mother-" she stopped abruptly in her tracks, her expression switching to one of near panic as she fumbled with her seat belt, "shit!"
"What? You OK?" he responded alarm as she sprung out her seat finally free.
"No! I'm gonna throw up!" her words swept passed him as she bolted for the tiny bathroom. Her sentence was punctuated by her violent retching as she failed to get the door closed behind her and the whole team was treated to the sound effects accompanying her loosing her breakfast.
The rest of the team exchanged looks varying from amusement to alarm, Morgan helpfully called out "Hey Princess take more water with it tomorrow night hey?"
Hotchner shot him a look, he knew when Prentiss was hung over and she wasn't shy in saying so when she was. Morgan shrugged in silent reply. Deciding an audience wouldn't help anything he slipped out of his own seat and made his way to the bathroom at the rear of the plane, sliding the folding door across behind him. It was only after he did this he realised how it might have looked and regretted it but decided against backtracking and re=opening the door. He was simply concerned for a subordinate and didn't think a room full of co-workers hearing you at your worst would help anyone.
When he poked his head around the tight corner he found Prentiss sitting on the floor of the bathroom, one arm lay slumped across the toilet seat as she sat with her back against the wall and her head tilted back with her eyes closed.
"Hey." he said gently as he crouched down beside her and placed a hand gently on her shoulder.
Her face creased in an grimace of embarrassment, "Sorry." she whispered without opening her eyes.
"Sssshhhh, it's ok, you're sick you should be home resting." he reached up for a paper towel and dampened it before gently pressing it against her forehead, "is this ok?"
She nodded before gingerly opening her eyes, they were flat and exhausted, he wondered about making her go home, exactly how do you send a sick employee home when you're in the middle of a 3 hour flight to a new case?
Abruptly she pushed him away and lunged for the toilet again, he slid his hand onto her back as she dry heaved. "Oh good, nothing left." she panted.
He smiled grimly back as she returned to his eye line and handed her a tissue. She took it ruefully, "Well, I can cross that embarrassing incident off my list, get sick in front of my boss, done."
He realised his hand still rested at the bottom of her back and she'd lent back on it, he wasn't sure how to get it out, or if she realised it was there. "Be careful someone might try to top you and get sick ON the boss." he told her, "when you're ready you should go lay down on the couch. Maybe if you sleep the rest of the flight you'll feel better when we land?"
"I'm not hung over Hotch." she asserted.
He nodded his affirmation once, "I know, and I wouldn't have come in here to check on you if I thought you were."
With a nod she shakily pulled herself to her feet, using the wall for support until her head readjusted. She straightened her clothes and hair, made a despairing face at her reflection, then followed Hotchner out back to the cabin. She would have quite liked an umbrella or something in front of her to shield from her colleagues concerned glances as she reentered. With a wan smile she made her way passed them to the couch and sat on the edge feeling awkward. It was one thing to crash out on the flight home after a 10 day 24/7 case but another the deliberately laying down for a nap on the journey out. Morgan approached her and placed a hand firmly on her shoulder.
"You look like hell, I'll get through the files, take a break until we land if you can."
She nodded her agreement and lay on her side facing her colleagues. As soon as she lay down she felt the tension ease from her limbs and she became aware of the bone-deep tiredness which took the place of the tightness she had felt. She closed her eyes and sighed feeling her limbs ache she decided she definately had flu or something, maybe food poisoning? If so she only had herself to blame though she couldn't work out how having had only toast all day yesterday and only water that morning. Her thoughts became foggy and she had a hard time distinguishing whether she was falling asleep or passing out, she decided eventually that she didn't care and gave in to the descending darkness, the last thing she was vaguely aware of was someone placing a blanket over her and lingering their hand on her shoulder.