Despite his best efforts, Morgan found himself looking at the clock once again. No matter how many times he told himself he wouldn't do it, that he'd concentrate on his work like he was supposed to, he still found himself looking up. Time and time again he looked at the clock, even though his brain seemed to already know the answer. Even without looking at the clock he thought that he would know the answer, down to the very last second.
The time was always in his thoughts; a constant counter running in the back of his mind. Every day he got up, showered, walked his dog, came to work, and did his job— everything that was normal. Yet the entire time, in the back of his mind, that counter was running. Constantly. A never ending litany that repeated over and over in his mind.
So even as he told himself he wouldn't look at the clock, he knew he would. How could he resist?
One year, six months, four days, fifteen minutes and…thirty seven seconds.
How could so much time have passed? How could a year have come and gone already? A year and a half! It ripped at his insides as it always did when he let those thoughts come to the forefront. The file in front of him blurred as the pain swept over him. He couldn't work. There was no way he could work like this. But he had to.
His eyes flashed up once again. One year, six months, sixteen minutes and three seconds.
The others worried about him. He knew that, but he couldn't change it. How could he? If they were honest, they all worried about one another. Because nothing was the same anymore. Nothing was right. How could any of them ever forget? They couldn't. Not when they were faced with that empty desk day after day.
At one point it had been suggested that the seating be rearranged, or the desk moved entirely. It was the one time that Morgan had seen their unit chief come close to actually blowing his top. After that, no one had tried to suggest it again.
Unwillingly Morgan found his eyes traveling over there. He couldn't help but wonder if it might have been better to get rid of that desk. Not let someone else there, no, never! But take it away so that it wouldn't remind them of that ever present pain. That fear.
But he knew that he would fight anyone who tried to take it away. That desk had to stay where it was. It just had to. Removing it would be like admitting that it was real. Admitting that the person was never going to come back.
None of them were ready for that.
One year, six months, eighteen minutes and forty five seconds since the last time they had all seen Dr. Spencer Reid. Since the happy go lucky, awkward little genius had gone home on his own, turning down a trip to the bar with his teammates. No one had seen him since then.
They'd gone to his apartment the next day on their lunch after Reid hadn't shown up for work. Morgan and JJ had been sent by Hotch to make sure their younger friend was all right. If only they'd had an idea. If only they'd forced Reid to go out with them the night before instead of letting their socially shy friend head to his apartment alone.
When they'd gone up to his front door, they'd found it open. That had been the first moment that Morgan had started to worry. Automatically he'd drawn his gun, feeling JJ do the same behind him. Then the two had worked together, moving into the apartment and clearing it room by room, same as they'd do at a crime scene. Reid had been nowhere to be found.
There'd been obvious signs of a struggle. Morgan could recall it all with perfect clarity. The end table by the couch had been knocked over, books strewn on the floor, two pictures shattered. JJ had called the team and soon the place had been swarming with crime scene personnel. Sure, they'd all been afraid, but they'd been confident, too. They would bring him home.
Then they found the message on the answering machine. A deep voice, distorted by something, yet no less eerie. "My little pet, are you getting excited yet? Soon, so soon, we'll be together. You'll be mine. I'll take care of you like no one else. You'll be my little pet. Does that excite you? Are you waiting eagerly for me? Not much longer and I'll come for you. Soon, my pet. Soon."
Their fear had grown stronger then. Even more so when Garcia got into Reid's personal email and pulled up emails that were similar to the recording. When Morgan had seen how long the kid had been getting those emails and Lord knew how many other phone calls or messages, he'd punched a hole in the wall. Three months. Reid had been receiving those for three months and he hadn't told a soul!
Not that Morgan blamed him for it. He'd read each email that Garcia had printed. The man had threatened to hurt others if Reid ever told about the emails. He'd threatened, with details about who he'd hurt and what he'd do to them. There was no quicker way past Reid's defenses than to pull up his protective instinct.
They'd hoped to trace those emails or the phone call, but Garcia hit a dead end each time. The café she traced the emails to didn't have anything on surveillance but the image of a man, around six foot two, stocky build, bald head, tanned skin. Even then it was only of the back of him, as if the man had known to keep his face away from the cameras.
As dead end after dead end turned up and time grew longer and longer, their fear grew. But they didn't give up. Even now, even after orders came down to officially drop the case, even after they'd been reminded that people who were kidnapped did not survive this long, each member still kept the file in their desks. Each worked on it in their own way, on their own time.
A hand gently touched Morgan's arm, drawing him out of his thoughts. He brought his gaze up, locking on to the gentle and understanding stare of one of his best friends. Her usually smiling face lacked the sunshine that had usually sat there. Since this had started—One year, six months, nineteen minutes and one second—she hadn't smiled like she used to. Almost as if the joy in life had drained away from her.
"The day's almost done with." Garcia told him gently. "You don't look like you should be driving. You want me to take you home?"
Her concern was genuine, which made it all the harder to bear. For her sake, this woman who had been by his side through all of this, one of the best friends a guy could have, he tried to smile reassuringly. "I'll drive ok, baby girl." He reassured her. No need to tell her how late he planned on staying. How he couldn't bear to go home and sit around and do nothing. "But thanks."
"Sugar…" Her voice trailed off. Another change; Garcia had never before been at a loss for words or witty repartee. Yet now she only sighed softly and bent down to press a kiss to the top of his head. Off to the side, Morgan could see Emily turn away and wipe her face. There were no words for all of this.