Spoilers: definite spoilers for Minimal Loss
Pairing: Prentiss/Reid, if you squint and infer things. Can also be viewed as friendship.
For "Prentiss", who's probably getting tired of seeing this dedication. Consider yourself my Prentiss/Reid muse. We'll work up to some fic that's not general friendshipy eventually, I promise.
Minimal Loss (Maximum Gain)
She sits across from him, one of her eyes black, the bruises on her skin yellowing. By all regards, he's certain, she still should be in the hospital. They let her out too soon, half a day wasn't nearly enough. What if she's not alright? He watches her carefully, as though she might shatter.
The building had still been burning when Hotch had all but shoved her into the ambulance, protesting against him every step of the way, but she could barely stand up on her own two feet anymore. He hadn't taken his eyes off of her since they stepped out of the burning building, and he wasn't going to do that now. Hotch hadn't stopped him, but Morgan had tried. It was all one way, wasn't it? That was what he'd told Morgan. The older man had wanted him to go to the hospital? He'd go, but he was using her ambulance. He wasn't going to be persuaded.
He'd climbed into the back of her ambulance. He'd thought she'd look surprised, but she didn't. Instead, he thought she might ahve been amused, or annoyed, or maybe ... expectant? They had her sitting up, an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth, but they were already laying her down. She was pretending to be fine but they knew each other too well for that. Her smile hid the grimace and wince.
He knew how bad it was - she'd been beaten, there were cuts on her face and arms, probably concussion and she'd been overworking herself - what about smoke inhalation? And that was just what he knew. In reality, there was probably so much more.
Reid had opened his mouth to say something to her when the doors had closed and the ambulance had taken off, but the look in her eyes clearly said 'don't'. He mistook it as anger and looked away, and in the next second she'd taken off the oxygen mask.
He'd seen it out of the corner of his eyes and turned to look, but before he could warn her to put it back on, she was speaking.
"Idiot," She'd said, a word that stopped him cold. "I thought you were dead." Her voice had cracked, tears had fallen, and he'd reached out ... but paused.
"Don't. I don't want to hear you say you're sorry."
"Prentiss," He'd argued. "It's my-"
She'd let out a breath. "Say it and you'll have something to be sorry for. Understood?" She'd raised a brow, the words so classically her, he'd had to try to hide the smile.
But the discussion was far from over.
He looks at her, and back down at his hands, twisting his fingers. He remembers everything; Reid remembers every sound and sentence and horrible noise he'd had to listen to while wondering if she'd survive whatever Cyrus was doing to her. He remembers every thought that had crossed his mind while he waited - for so, so long - to see her again, to know that she was alright.
To know that she wasn't dead.
She wasn't the only one to fear for the other's life in the past few days.
He's been through this before. He's been through this with JJ, but god, it was so much different then. He remembers her eyes, and how she'd locked hers with his while being dragged away by her hair. He'll never forget it, ever. She sacraficed herself for him. He knows this.
She tells him she'd do it again. That it wasn't his fault.
And he smiles. God help him, he smiles, and it's fake as ever. He lets himself pretend. He's good at pretending, especially when it comes to her. He's good at faking that it doesn't hurt him that he couldn't protect her - that she's saying too little and he knows what it's like to be locked in a room with an unpredictable person, for any amount of time. He knows what it's like to be afraid and not say a word.
And he knows, if it was JJ sitting in front of him, looking like he probably looks now, and thinking Henkel was her fault - it wasn't her fault -he'd have said the same thing to her that Prentiss just told him. He has said it to her before. It's not her fault, he'd do it again.
Anything to make sure that it was him and that room, and not anybody else.
But he hadn't been able to do that for Prentiss.
It means he failed her.