Criminal Minds © CBS.
AN: Not exactly Reid badassery, but I got the idea somehow and it wouldn't leave me alone. No Reid whump. I don't do Reid whump.
Family Minus One
Normally, Spencer Reid did not walk around at night. Normally, if he had errands he had to run after dark or anything else that simply wouldn't wait until morning, he either called Morgan and asked for company or got one of his neighbors to go with him. This time, however, it was just a walk down the block, he needed the cold medicine if he wanted to sleep that night, and it was too late to call anybody. So he walked down to the all-night pharmacy, picked up what he needed, and left.
He never made it home.
It wasn't that he hadn't seen the perps coming – he had. But when the door to the van slid open and a dark, commanding voice told him to get in or the kid would die, well, Reid couldn't take that kind of risk.
Not surprisingly, there hadn't been a kid inside the van. Reid was beginning to suspect, three hours later and still cramped in the van, that there wasn't any kid at all. Whoever these people were, they were good.
Two hours after that assessment, as they pulled into suburbia somewhere and gently pulled Reid out of the van, he had to rethink his profile.
Husband and wife, that much was obvious. Well off, judging from the house. Scared and hopeful at the same time. This was not the profile of someone who would kidnap an FBI agent. Whatever this was, it had nothing to do with his job.
Oh, and they kept calling him Tony. Reid hadn't had the guts to speak up and tell them his real name. So long as they weren't calling him 'it' he figured he was safe.
They went inside the house. The husband flicked on a light. "Bruce! Come down, son!"
Bruce turned out to be at least twenty-six years old, tall and broad-shouldered, built something like Morgan but with a childlike expression that Reid had never seen on his best friend. This man was really just a boy trapped in an adult body. His face broke into a huge smile as he saw Reid, and suddenly he found himself trapped in a bear hug.
"Tony! You're back!"
As strange as this was, Reid knew he was in no danger for now. At the moment, playing along was probably his best bet. So he did what he assumed was expected of him – he hugged Bruce back.
"I – I missed you, Bruce."
He was who-knows-where, trapped in a house with people who thought he was someone else entirely, and his team had no idea where he was or even where to start looking. It was likely they didn't even know he was missing yet.
Tears stung his eyes. To his surprise, Bruce simply held him tighter.
"It's okay, Tony. You're safe now –you're home."
What was he supposed to make of this?
In the following three weeks, several things happened.
Morgan was the one to notice Reid was missing. After missing a day of work – even if it was just a paperwork day – he had driven over to his best friend's apartment to find out what was wrong. He discovered an empty apartment with Reid's car still in the parking lot. His cell phone, badge, gun, and wallet were still there, even though his wallet was missing a ten.
That was when the team, for the first time, took the case of a missing agent with no previous case to guide them. But there was nothing. All they knew, after a week of investigating, was that Reid had gone to the pharmacy, gotten some cough syrup, and never made it home.
It was tearing them up not having any leads. Still, Hotchner and Rossi would not officially call off the search. The team was Reid's only family, and if they stopped looking for their youngest, then no one else would pick up their slack. They would have failed him, and they couldn't do that.
Reid, for his part, had come to terms with the fact that he was not getting out of this until he could get word to his team where he was, and that was going to be long in coming. He learned a lot about Bruce's family – how he had a younger brother named Tony who suffered from what Reid gathered was a moderate to severe form of autism (the day determined the severity – Bruce knew not to touch his brother on Thursdays, for some odd reason). How that younger brother had been severely bullied his entire life. How he had disappeared six months ago.
How he was afraid of the dark and liked to spout random facts to everyone.
The parents usually stayed during the day and left at night. For some reason, when they left, they put the boys in the small basement-type lower room and shut off the power. The first time they did that, Reid thought he was going to die. Bad enough being locked away in the dark, worse to have it done when he wasn't even somewhere he knew. He had started to hyperventilate, but Bruce stopped him.
"It's okay. Mom and Dad will be back before you know it." the boy had said soothingly, cradling Reid like he was a child. He rocked back and forth, and Reid found the movement calming. "Hey, I have an idea. Why don't you tell me everything you know about Halloween? That'll take your mind off it."
And Reid had spent the next three hours rattling off every random fact and statistic he could think of, the entire time keeping his eyes firmly shut and his face pressed into Bruce's shoulder, pretending it was Morgan keeping him calm and their team was just minutes away from finding them.
There's only so long you can deceive yourself.
That was only one of the strange moments in those three weeks. Through those moments, however, Reid found himself actually liking Bruce. He couldn't say much about the parents; they gave off this odd vibe that Reid couldn't quite place, like they were pretending for Bruce's sake. Bruce was honest and up-front with him, even if he wasn't quite on Morgan's level, and Reid imagined they could be friends.
If he could get Bruce to understand that he wasn't Tony.
The parents told him to stay away from the windows during the day, but once or twice he got a decent view of what was going on outside. Twice he heard sirens on their block. Once the news proclaimed a couple dead.
And Reid had to smile, because that meant his family was coming.
As much as they hated abandoning their search for Reid, the case came regardless, and they had to go. Garcia was doing double-duty back at Quantico, running searches of their victims as well as keeping an eye out for anything related to Reid. It had been three weeks. Statistically speaking, Reid was probably dead. They wouldn't accept that until they found his body.
They were investigating the newest crime scene. Morgan stayed outside. He needed the air. Hotchner hadn't argued. They all hated this case already.
Next door to the crime scene Morgan could see through an open window. He watched with some dark amusement as the couple who lived there had a rather verbal argument. Perfect outside home, rotten-to-the-core life. At least their family was just as messed up as his was now.
Then the father moved, advancing on the mother, and for a moment he saw two other people standing behind them. One looked every inch their son, worry written plain on his face even from this distance, and the other –
It was only a glimpse before the father moved and closed the window curtains, but it was enough. It was all Morgan could do not to move, not to go and storm that house himself, backup be damned.
Hotchner appeared beside him. "You look like you saw a ghost."
Morgan suddenly realized he was shaking. "I – Hotch, I think I saw Reid."
Hotchner's gaze snapped over to the house. There was a moment, then he was on the phone with Garcia demanding every bit of information she could find about the current residents of that house.
If Reid was in there, they were getting him out.
"Garcia, what do you have?" Hotchner asked. They sat close to the phone, even Rossi, who usually showed no favorites, was listening intently, worry etched into his face.
"Well, the lovely Barton family has two children, Bruce and Tony. Bruce has a mild form of retardation – since he's functional, he was never fully diagnosed beyond what was necessary for help at school. His little brother wasn't so lucky. Tony was severely autistic, would only allow Bruce to touch him, and apparently had a pathological fear of the dark. There's an incident report in his high school record. Some kids locked him in the janitor closet and shut off the lights. You don't want to know how he reacted to that."
Morgan flinched. Reid was scared of the dark as well. "Anything else, baby girl?"
"You might find this interesting. Looks like there was an accident – Tony went into the woods six months ago and was found dead. The police believed he fell and hit his head. But the two families that have been attacked are well known on police records for not being very tolerant of little Tony. And – " There was a choked sob.
Rossi frowned. "Garcia?"
"Guys – Tony Barton looks like Reid. Enough that you could mistake them for each other if it was dark enough."
Hotchner was already grabbing his gear. The rest of the team followed suit. If the Barton family had found a new Tony, then they probably decided to make sure no one could ever take him from them again.
They had their unsub. Now they needed their youngest back.
Reid was abruptly awoken from his nap by Bruce picking him up and shoving him into the basement room. "I'm sorry, Tony, so sorry, I'll be back, I promise!" was all he said before the door was slammed shut and the distinctive sound of a deadbolt being locked rang in Reid's ears.
For a moment, fear drowned out everything else. He couldn't move, couldn't really think. Bad enough being locked down here every night with company, now he was alone? He heard the sounds of a scuffle, and suddenly a very familiar voice calling out commands.
"FBI! Get down on the ground, now!"
"Hotch!" Reid banged on the door, pounding on it with everything he had. "Hotch! Morgan!"
"Reid!" That was Morgan, and Reid could hear the sounds of someone frantically trying to unlock the door. "Hang on, kid, I got ya." Reid fell silent, mentally thanking whoever was looking after him. "C'mon kid, keep talking to me. This thing isn't a normal lock."
That earned him a shaky laugh. "I think I'm over my fear of the dark." he said, forcing some lightness in his voice. "Either that or I will never leave my apartment again when the sun goes down. I'll let you know the verdict later." The door finally opened, and before Reid had the chance to stumble to his feet, Morgan reached in and pulled him out, wrapping his arms around him as if afraid the younger would vanish if he let go.
The locals took care of handcuffing the family. Once they realized they were caught, they didn't put up much of a fight. The team had eyes only for Reid.
And that was how Spencer Reid found himself surrounded by the entire team, JJ and Prentiss trying to hug him at the same time, Rossi and Hotchner with hands on his shoulders, and Morgan still clinging to him for all he was worth. Reid smiled.
"I guess I'm never going anywhere by myself again."
"Never." Hotch said with a small smile.
Reid's gaze slid past his team to Bruce. Pained understanding was written in the tears that streamed down his face. Reid flashed him an honest smile, and Bruce smiled back.
He was going to have to visit Bruce sometime. They could have been friends.
It wasn't until after everyone else had fallen asleep on the jet home that Morgan finally decided to talk. Reid was pressed up against his side, using his shoulder as a pillow, and Morgan wasn't complaining. It didn't even feel odd to hold the kid like this.
"Did they hurt you?"
"No." Reid murmured. "Well, unless you consider being locked in the basement without lights hurting. I think they were trying to protect me."
"Yeah, Garcia said Tony went through some messed up stuff. They were probably trying to keep it from happening again."
"Did they kill anyone?"
"Yeah. The people who hurt Tony the first time."
Reid nodded. "They would have kept going. The psychology was there." He looked up. "How did you find them so quick?"
"You." Morgan grinned. "You were standing in the right place at the right time. Saw you through a window. Hotch had Garcia run some checks, and voila, we found them." He tightened his hold on Reid. "Don't scare me like that again, kid."
Reid smiled. "Next time I'll make sure to call."
"No matter how late it is."
"Okay." Reid fell asleep almost instantly. He had gotten barely any sleep in three weeks, only enough to keep him sane, and he hadn't eaten much then either. Now he planned on catching up on both, with his team – his family – to keep him safe.
He wouldn't mind it for a while.
It didn't take long for Morgan to fall asleep as well, with his little brother tucked safely away. At some point during the trip, Hotch woke long enough to put a blanket over both of them before returning to his seat and falling asleep again.
His family was complete once more.
AN: By the way – if anyone can guess where I got the names of the unsub family from, I'll grant them a oneshot request. Criminal Minds Reid badassery for all! Review, my peeps!