Blows and wounds cleanse away evil.
- Proverbs 20:30
"I can take it."
There were few things less humbling than being beaten by a cult leader, and Emily didn't care if Benjamin Cyrus knew that. She could read him. Could tell what made him tick. But he was at a definite disadvantage when it came to her.
He didn't know her. Couldn't know that she understood physical pain, and knew that it could not and would not last forever. As long as he didn't have a gun on her, she would be okay.
She endured the slaps, the kicks and the punches. She got up each time he knocked her down. When he threw her against the mirror, she was shocked, but remained determined.
He might beat her, but this wouldn't.
Her only thought had been to get that gun out of Reid's face. It had been a while since he had been kidnapped and tortured in Georgia, but not long enough for Emily to forget watching it.
And she knew when she heard it:
"God will forgive me for what I must do..."
And Reid's response:
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Emily knew that Reid had no intention of admitting to anything. She knew that he would sooner out himself as an agent and take a bullet than defer to her, as anyone else would have. So she had spoken up.
The pain would end. She knew that, even as she lie on the floor, shaking. She just had to concentrate on what to do next.
Outside, when it was over, Emily moved like a shock victim. Stiff and controlled, so she didn't do something that caused obscene amounts of pain, like breathe too deeply or stumble. She behaved like a shock victim, staring at the burning building in disbelief. In all this time, Emily hadn't shed a tear. There hadn't been time for them.
But as she saw Morgan emerge from the smoke with Reid, Emily couldn't help it. The gasp she made and the way she covered her mouth had been instinctual. When Reid got to her, she grabbed him, and he simply fit himself against her, his arms gently around her back. It was as if they belonged just like this - with nothing romantic between them - just the utmost respect.
The hospital had been hell.
Emily hated the way she was treated, looked at and spoken to like someone to be pitied. She wanted to tell them she had handled this and a hell of a lot worse. That this was nothing.
Really, all she wanted was for someone who knew her to be here. Someone who understood that she wanted to be treated normally - as if they expected her to handle the pain - not feel badly for her and ask if she was all right.
On the jet, Emily moved a little slower. She took the seat across from Reid, and leaned forward, taking his hands. She told him the truth she knew he needed to hear, though he would never admit it. She told him this wasn't his fault. It was her decision and she would do it again.
He nodded at her, barely, sadness pulling at his mouth.
When he hovered by her side back in Quantico, Emily found she didn't mind. When he insisted on driving her home, she didn't protest. When he wanted to stay with her, she couldn't tell him not to.
"You should rest," he said, with an arm still around her for support.
"Don't." It was harsher than he meant to be, she could see that, by the regret in his eyes. "I'm sorry... It's just... I know you're not fine... So what's the point in lying?"
"I'm sorry," she apologized, offering no excuses. Instead she allowed Reid to help her to the couch.
Against her will, she found herself falling asleep and urging him to leave. She dreamed of horrors deeper than the one she knew from Cyrus. Of secrets vivid and painful and of a fear so big it threatened to consume her. When she called out, people didn't understand. Again and again, she tried, but all the people tilted their heads and squinted as if she were speaking a foreign language.
"What are you doing? Please..."
"Chto ty delayesh? Pozhalujsta..."
"Pomni, ya vsеgda ryadom. Ti ne odna." Reid spoke softly, figuring the best way to help Emily was to speak to her in a language her dreams understood. Stress lines stood out on her forehead and her knuckles were white from clenching her fists.
He scooped up the kitten winding itself around his legs and read the tag. "Hey, Sergio..." he said, amused at the loud purr that came from such a small cat. "We're right here with Emily, aren't we? She doesn't have to be scared."
She was confused, that much was clear, and Reid could tell she wasn't someone who liked or needed to speak about their nightmares. So instead, he scratched Sergio under the chin and waited.
He would let her take the lead.
Every muscle in Emily's body protested, but she tried to sit up. Reid was here, talking to her cat. She tried to think, but couldn't manage it, because all that registered were countless sore muscles, cuts and bruises. She stared at him, confused.
"Hey. You're up." He forced a smile.
She forced herself to glance around and was startled to find the house phone, her cell phone, her gun, the TV remote, a bowl of soup, a glass of water, Tylenol and a heating pad all lined up on the coffee table beside the couch. Emily raised her eyebrows.
"What's all this?" she asked, wincing.
"Supplies," he clarified, transferring Sergio to her arms gently. "I have to go, but I wanted to be sure you'd have everything at arm's length, in case you needed it."
"Thanks. Are you okay?" she pressed.
"No," he answered - a rare moment where he left himself unmasked in front of her. "Are you?"
"Not yet," she said, returning his honesty.
"Okay... Okay, well, I really should go...but if you need anything, call me, and I'll come right back," he promised, bouncing nervously on the balls of his feet.
He was nearly to the door when he turned, hesitating a second, before looking away and speaking softly. "You aren't alone. Remember that. I'm always next to you."
She shook her head. That sounded familiar somehow. Like she'd dreamed it, but not exactly. Then, it hit her. She knew without knowing that his was the voice that gave her comfort when she was lost in her nightmare. Because he was the only one to speak in a language she could understand.
The door was closing behind him by the time she realized the truth. Still, she could not stop herself from murmuring her gratitude.
"Spencer? Thank you."