"True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost."
- Charles Caleb Colton
Sometimes in life there are moments in which the world stops spinning. Small, barely perceptible, they happen when there is a surge of great feeling.
The relief Hotch felt as he saw the youngest member of the team, cowering on the ground, so beautifully alive next to the body of Henkel, was just such a moment. Uncaring wether the man who had kidnapped his agent was alive or even armed, instinct took over as he holstered his weapon and crouched gently beside the hurt young man. The wonderfully alive young man. Gently, as if caring for Jack, he placed an arm around the young mans waist, his own relief threatening to choke him as he felt warmth under his fingers. Not caring who saw him he helped the stricken man to his feet, unwilling to let anyone else help him, needing the reassurance that they finally had their genius back with them. Hands grasped at him, seeking the primal comfort that can only come from the contact with another human.
"You alright?" He pretended not to notice the catch in his own voice, the vulnerability.
"I knew you'd understand," the reply, barely more than a whisper was all it took as the men hugged each other, clinging on for dear life. Hotch cared even less that his façade was cracked, he needed that life affirming touch to stop him from drowning in guilt. Relief washed over him as he clung to the shaking man and he could not honestly have said who was holding whom up.
Then, the moment was over and the mask slipped back into place. He reluctantly let Reid go, passing him carefully into JJ's waiting embrace. Moving off, he wiped the tears from his eyes, knowing that nothing would ever quite be the same again.
"It is better to be in chains with friends, than to be in a garden with strangers."