Criminal Minds © CBS.

AN: Part of the Shadows Within saga. Casefic based on the episode Minimal Loss. This is where I'll stash my casefics based in the Shadows Within world.

Minimal Loss

There are few things that can truly frighten a team like the BAU. They have seen everything, done everything, and with the added addition of the wonderful feel of each other in their minds, even those things that would shake a normal person could be well enough handled.

Still, Hotch feels the fear spike when he hears Morgan scream. He and Rossi come running, skidding to a halt on the balcony. Morgan points at the TV. His hand is shaking. Hotch listens.

There's a raid on a cult compound. At first, Hotch doesn't understand. Then Morgan utters the fated words.

"Prentiss and Reid."

Hotch doesn't make it a point to listen in on his agents when they're on assignment, especially an easy one like interviewing children. This particular cult has never shown signs of being dangerous before, although the state police tend to think otherwise. Now he opens his mind a bit, and he can sense the fear and shock from Prentiss and Reid.

Morgan and JJ look to Hotch and Rossi. Garcia is already on her way from her office, but Hotch's voice stops her.

"Looks like we're leading this one. Pack up – let's move!"


"Which one of you is it?"

Reid's staring down the barrel of a revolver, mouth dry, trying to stay calm and as politely confused as he can. Maybe he can play off this new development and defuse the situation. Unfortunately, he's also staring down the barrel of a revolver, and if there's one thing he's learned about Prentiss over the years, it's that she will not take chances with others lives.

"I am."

Prentiss! You can't – you don't know what he'll do to you!

And if I don't, he'll do all those things to you. Prentiss doesn't even look away from Cyrus. I will not take that risk, Reid. I can't.

You think I want to take that risk with you? Reid snaps, and luckily his face doesn't show the terror and anger in his voice. I've been there, Prentiss. I can do it again goes unsaid.

Prentiss nods. And that's why it has to be me. Because you've already endured too much. Because I'd hate myself if I made you endure it again. Reid thinks his heart is going to break, but he lets Cyrus take Prentiss away. God forgive him, he let her go.

It's okay, Reid. Hotch's voice, calm and cool against his mind. It's okay, we're here, we're going to get you out.

Slowly, Reid straightens. If you're coming in, I'll prepare the way.

There's no response, but Reid can still feel them all. He knows Morgan is scared, he knows JJ is currently trying to find the reporter who let the whole FBI bit slip (and he really, really wishes he could see the unholy hell she's going to rain upon him), he knows Hotch and Rossi are currently hating themselves and struggling to find a way out.

He can feel every blow that bastard is raining down on Prentiss. He can hear her faintly – I can take it – but he's not going to let her face it alone. He didn't have to face Tobias alone. She won't have to face Cyrus alone either.

So he reaches out, trying to take as much pain from her as he can. It's a trick they learned a long time ago – during the case with Tobias, actually, when the others had worked together to keep Reid from feeling the worst of it, although there was nothing they could do about that blasted narcotic. Still, Reid reaches out, and he knows the trick is working when Prentiss rails against him, fighting him and Cyrus the entire way.

Still, Reid does not give up, and when Prentiss is finally left alone, he finally pulls back. He hears Morgan whisper a hushed thank you to him. Prentiss may kill him yet, but Reid at least feels like he accomplished something in this mess.


Prentiss is outside, begging someone to go find Reid. Despite Morgan's reassurances, she keeps asking for Reid. Hotch thinks she's in shock. It would be surprising if she wasn't. They're clearing out the civilians. Morgan and Reid are somewhere in the chapel, and Hotch can't stop his hands from shaking. He feels every time Cyrus slams the butt of his gun into Reid's stomach until the man finally falls to the ground.

Inside, Morgan sees as well. Morgan feels it just as clearly as Hotch does, as Reid does. This is Cyrus. This is the man who hurt Prentiss, who threatened his family. He takes aim.

"Do you think you can stop me!"

Cyrus makes like he's going to pull the trigger. Morgan doesn't give him the chance. Reid doesn't even flinch as the bullet blows Cyrus away.

"We just did."

Then Morgan's there, helping Reid to his feet and trying to assess the damage all at once. Reid's not letting him though. "Where's Prentiss?"

"Outside, safe." Morgan assures him. "Between the two of you, I think Hotch is gonna turn grey."

They both sense her at roughly the same time. They turn as one, seeing the young woman Cyrus had taken as a wife. She looks from the agents to her husband's dead body, and Reid knows what's going to happen a moment before she reaches for the detonator. He grabs Morgan, trying to force the older man outside. Morgan's only a second slower before he starts running for the door as well.

Outside, Hotch and Rossi are frantically trying to clear the agents out of the way. There's only so much they can do before the entire chapel explodes.

Prentiss screams. Hotch and Rossi jerk away from their duties and run to her, the heat of the burning building searing their skin and hurting their eyes. Together they stare at the building, casting their minds out, searching for their teammates. Prentiss breaks first.

"Reid! Morgan!"

Finally, finally Reid and Morgan stumble out of the wreckage. They're both singed and dirty, and Reid walks like his ribs are bruised, but otherwise they are unharmed. Morgan smiles at them.

"We're okay!"

Suddenly Reid finds himself with his arms full of Prentiss, the shorter woman shaking with relief. Reid holds her tightly. He's trembling as well. They all are.

It's a bit too close, but they've had worse. Hotch glances around, securing the location of JJ. She rushes over to the team. Prentiss has yet to let go of Reid, Morgan stands behind both of them as if protecting them from some unseen enemy, and the others simply watched and tried to act like the professionals they were supposed to be.

What Hotch really wants is to do the same thing Prentiss is and hug them both.

Rossi touches his arm. Let's go. Our job is done here.

Hotch nods. There will be time to check on everyone when they get back to the plane.