A/N - Hello. We have exactly FOUR days left to NOMINATE your favorite authors and stories in the second annual Criminal Minds Profiler's Choice Awards hosted by "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. Random drawings for TWO $10.00 Amazon gift cards will be given to two lucky nominators. To be considered eligible, all you have to do is fill out a ballot in ten categories or more. Winners will be announced October 16, 2011! So PLEASE, take a trip to the forum and grab those ballots!
Also, sign-ups for the Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic exchange are up and running at the forum. Last year was super successful and we hope this year will be equally so. You have until October 31, 2011 to sign up at the forum. Details for both events are located there! Private message us with any questions!
And don't forget to friend "Ilovetvalot Fanfiction" on Facebook. We've got a huge collection of talented authors and readers alike just waiting to chat.
Here Dawns the Reckoning
"Why didn't you talk to me first? Don't you think this is something I should have known about?" Hotch asked huskily, his heart clenching in his chest as he stared into Reid's emotionless gaze.
"Not particularly," Reid ground out as he shook his head. "Our trust has been broken, Hotch. We can't go back and I don't know how to go forward. Not with you. Not with JJ. Not with the team."
Licking his lips slowly, Aaron shook his head. "Spencer, don't do this," Hotch urged, clenching his hand in his slacks pocket as he watched the drawn profiler pace the length of the room. "There's a reason our team is successful at what we do. We complement each other."
"I used to believe that," Reid said quietly, looking toward his boss with weary eyes...eyes that had seen entirely too much for such a young age.
"It's still true," Hotch maintained steadily.
"No. Not for me, it isn't. Why can't you comprehend the fact that I don't trust you anymore? Not you. Not JJ. Not Emily," he said, emphasizing each name. "My God, even Morgan and Garcia went off on their own in their hunt for Doyle and excluded me. I don't belong on the team anymore, Hotch. It's obvious that each of you perceive me as a weakness."
"Reid, no!" Hotch replied, raising his voice. "That has never been the case," he insisted vehemently. Jaw clenching as he searched for a way to convince the younger man of his sincerity, Hotch ran a hand around his neck. "Listen, Spencer, JJ, Emily and myself were bound by a confidentiality agreement. None of us were authorized to read anyone in on the events surrounding Emily's alleged death. I fought the State Department on it. I assured them that our entire team could be trusted with the information, but they saw it as a security risk...one that might potentially cost Emily her life for real this time. When JJ told you that she didn't have a choice, she wasn't lying to you. If you knew how many times she called me, begging to include you..." he trailed off, running a hand through is hair. "I'm the one that said no. More than once. Blame me. Not her. Not Emily. Me."
"There's enough blame to share, Hotch," Reid snorted derisively, flashing him an accusing look. "Believe me."
"I realize that."
Swallowing hard as he faced the man he'd spent years trying to emulate, Reid shook his head. "Do you remember how hard I fought not to give into my demons after Gideon left, Hotch? Do you remember how betrayed I felt?"
"Of course I do, Reid," Hotch replied evenly, the memories of those dark days seared permanently into his mind.
"Really?" Reid asked faintly.
Meeting Hotch's dark eyes squarely, Reid whispered, "This was worse. Gideon wasn't dead, only disappeared. Emily...for me, she died. And when that happened, a piece of me died," he confided, his voice breaking. "And now, she's alive...but, that part of me...it's still dead. Only Ian Doyle didn't kill it. Your deceit did."
"Spencer, I'm sorry. I know an apology doesn't change anything here," Hotch said, keeping his voice low and soothing, "but I am. So is JJ. So is Emily. If I could have done things any other way, I would have. But this was the deal they offered us and to keep Emily safe, I took it. But at no point was your character or your courage a factor in the decision I made for JJ and myself to remain silent. I trust you. The team trusts you. And given time, I think we can earn back your trust."
Looking at the solemn man uncertainly, Reid hesitated. He didn't want to make a mistake. Rash decisions could have lasting repercussions. He understood that all too well. "I...I'm not sure, Hotch," he hedged quietly.
"I don't blame you for being skittish, Reid. A lot has happened in a short amount of time. I'm only asking that you give yourself and us some time. Finding another position in the Bureau would be incredibly easy for you. But nowhere will you be offered the kind of challenge you find working with us. And I know you, Reid. You thrive on the puzzles our team pieces together. You won't find that kind of satisfaction anywhere else."
His statement was a verifiable fact, Reid acknowledged silently, staring at the grey carpet on his floor. Any other position would be mundane in comparison to the one he currently held.
"Cancel the meeting, Reid," Hotch urged softly, imploring as strongly as he knew how. "Give our team six weeks. We all need to find our way back to solid ground and regain our balance before any of us make any kind of life-changing decisions."
"Would you be giving this speech to Morgan if he was the one that felt angry?" Reid asked suspiciously.
"Morgan isangry, Reid. He's just better at hiding it. But, yes, if I knew he was considering leaving, I would. This team works for a reason. And it's because of the people of which it consists. You included."
"Okay," Reid conceded, his normally ordered mind scattered into multiple directions. "I'll give it some time, but I can't change how I feel overnight, Hotch. This isn't forgiveness."
"No," Hotch responded calmly, "but it is a start."
Reid shrugged stiffly. "I guess."
"Now, about the dilaudid..."
Biting his lip, Spencer forced himself to meet Hotch's discerning gaze. "I didn't take any. My sobriety is intact," Reid mumbled, embarrassed that his Unit Chief had overheard that part of his conversation with JJ. "And I'll apologize to JJ for that part of what I said. No one is responsible for my sobriety but me. Blaming her because I almost fell off the proverbial wagon was cowardly. I need to be accountable for those urges and my subsequent choices."
"Reid, the important thing to remember is that you choseto stay sober and drug-free," Hotch reminded the younger man softly.
Reid nodded. "I did."
"For what it's worth, I'm proud of you," Hotch offered sincerely.
Always a little uncomfortable with praise, Spencer looked away. "Thank you."
"But for the record, if you ever feel that desperate again for any reason, the first phone call I expect you to make is to your sponsor. The second is to me," Hotch stated firmly. "Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Reid replied, nodding jerkily.
"And, Reid?" Hotch murmured, his voice low.
Bending his head, Hotch murmured, "Your respect means a lot to me. I want you to know that I'll do everything I can to earn it back. I'm not proud of my actions, Spencer. I will say that I was trying to do what I thought was right."
"Maybe I was a bit unfair in doubting your integrity, Hotch," Spencer confessed huskily, shifting his weight from one foot to another. "Honestly, I don't know how I feel anymore," he said sadly.
"We're all still processing, Reid. Even though JJ and I knew Emily was alive...I didn't know where she was...what shape she was in...nothing. I just knew that she made it off the table and too Bethesda alive. The suffering you saw from me...it was genuine."
Nodding slowly as he absorbed those facts, Reid swallowed painfully. "Okay. I can't promise a clean slate, but I'll make an effort to be more..." he trailed off, searching for the appropriate word. "Open-minded."
"Thank you," Hotch replied quietly, relaxing slightly as he unclenched his fist inside his trousers. "Do you think you'd be willing to join the team this afternoon at Rossi's? Everyone else has already agreed. And the fact that I managed to talk Dave into sharing his kitchen with what he refers to as commoners is kind of a big deal," he said with a half-smile.
"I'm not sure," Reid replied, reluctant to move too quickly.
"Think about it," Hotch suggested, aware that pushing the strained man too far too fast wouldn't win him any points.
"I will," Reid nodded as he walked Hotch to the door.
Turning Hotch stared into the younger man's still confused eyes, silently noting that while still filled with pain, the earlier hostility was absent. "Thank you for hearing me out."
Nodding again, Reid opened the door. "All I can say is that I'll try, Hotch."
"That's enough," Hotch nodded appreciatively. "I'll see you later."
"Okay. Bye," Reid replied softly, closing the door behind the older man. Releasing a long breath as he propped one shoulder against the wood, he closed his eyes and willed the burn of his unshed tears to diminish. In a thousand years, he'd have never expected Aaron Hotchner to take responsibility for anything, let alone humble himself.
But, the taciturn man had done exactly that.
For his team.
And that meant a lot.
In fact, Reid silently recognized, it meant everything.
Perhaps there was hope for all of them after all.
PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE STORIES AND AUTHORS...TIME IS RUNNING OUT!