Criminal Minds © CBS

AN: Part three of the Shadows Within saga, not that these things go in any order.

Something Given, Something Taken

Hotch stands outside of the interrogation room. Morgan's inside the room with their unsub – a young man in his early thirties who killed ten children in three different states. There was no sign of sexual assault, just a pure brutality that made Hotch's stomach churn just thinking about it. So Morgan's in there, letting his own anger work for him. All the evidence points to this man, who goes by the name Timothy and works as a traveling salesman.

They have the evidence. They have an airtight case. But Hotch wants to know why. All the children had an immediate family member who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia (and hadn't that been a kick in the stomach for Reid) but that was as far as similarities went. There was no type. There was nothing else to tie them together.

So he watches the interrogation from behind the mirror, Rossi to one side, Reid to the other. JJ and Prentiss are working with the locals on delivering an announcement at a press conference, but they're listening in just the same.

Rossi doesn't take his eyes from the mirror. "He's a sick one, isn't he?"

"Yeah, he is." Hotch agrees quietly. The local – an older sheriff by the name of Morris – snorts.

"He claimed he was doing the world a favor." he sneered. "I guess he thought the kids would get sick too. Maybe crazy runs in the family. I've seen it often enough."

Reid stiffens but doesn't say anything. Hotch resists the urge to glare at Morris; he doesn't know about Reid's background. Rossi, however, has no such qualms.

"I'd like to inform you that Dr. Reid here has a mother with schizophrenia." he says darkly. "And yet, he's the most brilliant man I know." Morris mumbles something like an apology. Reid waves it off. He doesn't look at Morris. Hotch knows he resents being kept from the field as much as possible during this case, but with a lack of type or age group, Hotch was not going to take the risk of this unsub zeroing in on Reid. The kid deals with enough crap without adding psycho killers to the list. Reid knows that as well. It's the only reason he hasn't lashed out yet.

Morgan starts speaking, drawing Hotch's attention back to the interrogation. "We know you did it, Timothy. We just don't know why."

Timothy looks up at Morgan. "They were children of the devil."

Morgan's face tightens. "How? Because they had sick family members? That doesn't make them sick, you know." His mind flashes back to Reid, and Reid sends him a small nudge to pay attention. Timothy's face pales.

"Don't you feel it? That agent friend of yours is one too."

"One what?"

"A monster." Timothy lets his head fall to the table. "I could hear them, in my mind. They kept talking to me. Your friend – I can feel him in my mind. It's like he's snooping around. I just wanted them to stop. They wouldn't stop! So I made them." He looks up at Morgan, a hopeful expression on his face. Whatever he is hoping for, Hotch doubts it is the rage he sees.

Morgan glances back at the mirror before standing and unplugging the microphone. Morris grumbles something under his breath, but Hotch and Reid stiffen. Morgan is fiercely protective of all children. Still, the fastest way to piss Morgan off is and always will be to threaten Reid.

They can't hear what's being spoken, but they still know.

You think he's some kind of monster? You think they all were? You ever stop to think that maybe they have a gift that they can't explain?

You – you know? You know what he is and you don't care?

Damn straight I don't care. He's my friend. He's given me a gift that I can never repay him for. You know what he's done? I have a family now. Y'know, one that's not a couple hundred miles away. Hell, they could go all the way to England and I'd still be able to sense them. None of us think he's a monster. Why would you?

B-because they w-wouldn't stop! I just wanted it to stop!

Reid's shaking slightly. Hotch reaches out and grabs his shoulder, holding him steady. Morris gives them an odd look. "He felt the need to turn off the mic just to talk? I thought he was gonna beat the crap out of the guy or something."

"He might still." Hotch says darkly. He can feel Morgan's fury starting to boil over. Rossi shifts his stance, moving to block Reid entirely from Morris's view. The young man can hear both sides of the conversation, and Rossi can feel his distress and anger rising.

Morris seems unaware of the rising tension. "So, this guy thinks these kids were telepathic or something? Like I said, crazy." He nods to himself and turns around. "Let your guy do what he wants with him. I'll cover for him." With that he walks out of the room. Hotch breathes a sigh of relief. They are minutes away from a breakdown and he doesn't want an audience.

Whenever Reid – or any of them for that matter – tries to See too deeply, or into too many people who feel too strongly, there's always the risk of feedback. There's the risk of being trapped inside an ever-escalating vortex of emotional distress that's not his own. Hotch recognizes the warning signs. Reid is trying to See into two people who are both frightened and angry, and he is frightened and angry as well. His eyes are glazing over as he loses focus on the room they're in.

Worst of all, he's fading from them. His mind is slipping away and it's getting harder for Hotch to sense Reid behind the wall of foreign emotions. Suddenly Reid drops, and Hotch catches him before he can hit the ground. Rossi turns to the mirror.

Morgan, get yourself under control.

His words cut like a knife through Morgan's anger. He stands and flees the room, making a beeline for the observation room and leaving the unsub alone in interrogation. Morgan kneels next to Reid, trying to calm himself long enough to bring their youngest back to himself. It doesn't take long.

Timothy is watching, his face pressed against the glass. Without the mic they can't hear his voice, but as he speaks, so does Reid.

"Now do you see? He's like a parasite. He can't feel for himself so he takes emotions from others. He's been feeding off of you this entire time, Agent Morgan, pretending he's your friend. He's probably been doing it to the others, too. Don't you see?"

"Shut him up." Rossi snaps. Hotch shakes his head as he pulls Reid to his feet. Their youngest doesn't stop speaking though.

"That's why I had to kill them. They aren't natural. As long as there are monsters like them, there will be people like me killing them. Good luck stopping us, agents."

Finally, Timothy turns and walks back to his seat. Finally, Reid stops talking. He slumps against Hotch, completely spent. "That . . . is a lot of hatred." he breathes.

Morgan nods. "I'm sorry, Kid, I should have – "

"Don't worry about it." Reid brushes him off with a shaky smile. Morgan smiles back. Reid returns his attention to Timothy for a moment, then back to the other agents. "Am I really –"

"No." The vehement denial comes from Rossi. "Don't think for a minute that you are, Kid. If you were, we wouldn't have let it get this far." Reid nods and offers a real smile.

The case is over, they have a motive, and now it's time to go home. Reid sleeps on the jet, exhausted beyond compare, and the team works to keep their own emotions in check to avoid waking him. JJ is the one who speaks first.

There are others like Reid?

Looks like it. Prentiss sighs. Those poor kids.

You know what this means. Rossi leans back in his seat. Timothy implied that he wasn't the only one killing these people. He may have been responsible for those ten, but there are going to be others. More killers who want people like Reid dead.

We're gonna have to keep vigilant. Morgan surmises. Looks like the threat's not over yet.

Nothing is going to happen to Reid. Hotch already has a bit of a plan. He's got Garcia searching records for schizophrenic patients with children. Once they come up with a list, he'll find a way to narrow it down to people like Reid. It's not much, but at least it's something. If they can find these people, then maybe they can protect them.

Dang straight.