Criminal Minds © CBS.

This is not part of the Shadows Within series. Rather, this is my rather irritated response to all the Reid!Whump fics that I've read lately. So, for all you badass!Reid lovers out there, this is for you.

Silence of the Children

The impact doesn't knock Reid out, but it does cause enough pain that he can't fight back when the driver climbs out of the van, picks him up, and places him in the back. He fades in and out during the drive, but what really brings him back to complete awareness is the searing pain in his lips as his captor sews them shut. He doesn't scream (that's really not going to help) but he starts fighting, forcing the man to sit on top of him and pin his shoulders to the ground with his knees to hold him still.

Reid's eyes snap open. No mask – that's good. Actually, that could be really, really bad, but at least it means that Reid knows who he's dealing with. He's big, at least Morgan's height and build, with thin hair and hard, dark eyes. He doesn't say a word to Reid as he finishes his task. By the time he's finished, Reid's shaking with pain. The man simply picks him up and dumps him in a cell. He shuts the door but doesn't lock it.

An attempt to sit up makes Reid realize his hands are tied behind his back. So he looks around from where he is. Dark, dank – dirt ceiling and floor. A cellar of some sort. Large and spacious, and smelling suspiciously of rotted flesh. He rolls over.

In the dim light he can see three other bodies – all children. All have their mouths sewn shut, just like him. They're all clearly dead, and have been for a while. They must have been practice while the unsub worked up the nerve to step up to adults. They've also been stabbed to death. That doesn't give Reid a lot of time. There's no telling how long the kids went before they were killed. It could have been hours or days. The team doesn't even know Reid's missing – he took a few days off to be with his mother and the team isn't expecting him to return for a while yet.

Reid doesn't like the idea of being here for a few days before the team catches on. Time to hatch a plan. He forces himself to his knees and tests his bonds. They're a little loose – just enough for him to attempt to wiggle his hands free.

Either Reid just looks that much like a wuss, or this man has no clue how to properly tie someone. There's a good chance the kids didn't struggle much. The pain of the stitches would have been overwhelming. Maybe Reid is his first attempt at an adult. He hopes so.

The ropes are actually tighter than they first seem. By the time Reid frees his wrists, they're burned and bloody. Still, he's free. He pushes himself to his feet just as the door opens.

So the kids didn't have long to wait.

The man's eyes widen. For the first time, he speaks.

"You aren't supposed to be standing!"

Reid grins, even though the motion tears into his lips and make more blood flow down his chin. He must look like something from a horror movie by now. The unsub has a knife clenched in one hand, and Reid can see the indecision in his eyes. He's never had a victim fight back before. He doesn't know what to do.

Reid launches himself at him. They're only a few feet apart. His minimal body mass is enough to send the taller man staggering backward, dropping the knife. The unsub's disorientation doesn't last long. Despite going after smaller victims, he does know how to fight.

Despite being a pipe cleaner with eyes (yes, Reid does remember that jab), Reid knows how to fight as well. The unsub grabs him around the waist, but Reid uses his newly freed hands to pummel the man's face. For a while, there is nothing but punching and being punched. Reid knows he's not as strong as this man. His punches bruise, but Reid makes his count and aims for the eyes and ears.

At some point, he stops punching and starts using his nails. The unsub has his legs locked around Reid and will simply not let go. The longer they stay locked together, the more scared Reid gets. Every second increases the chance that the unsub will win, and Reid can't afford to let that happen.

Then the knife slides into his side. The unsub grins up at him, blood and sweat caking his face. "You're more fun than the kids. I should have done this first."

Without a thought, Reid pulls the knife from his side and plunges it into the unsub's chest with both hands. He knows he breaks the sternum and pierces the heart – he can feel the warm blood covering his hands even as it leaks down his side. Finally, finally the unsub lets him go.

Reid stands. He leaves everything where it is and presses one hand against his side. As he walks out of the basement, he can only think of how hard it's gonna be to hitch a ride to a hospital.

/-/

Hotch's phone rings. He picks it up without even thinking. "Agent Hotchner."

"Hey Hotch."

He sits up a little straighter. "You sound like you've been through a meat grinder, Reid."

"I kind of feel like it." Reid's breath catches, and Hotch can hear a world of pain in his voice. "Can you come to LA? The docs won't release me without someone to look after me."

"Reid, what happened?"

"I'd rather not say over the phone." His voice is odd, like he's trying to speak without moving his lips, and suddenly there's the sound of the phone being taken away. Reid protests this – rather loudly, to Hotch's amusement – and the doctor comes on.

"Agent Hotchner, is it? I'm afraid Agent Reid has gotten himself into a bit of trouble. He's fine, but he's going to need help for a few days. Will you come check him out before he drives the entire nursing staff insane?"

Hotchner can't help it. Without some idea of what Reid's gone through – for all he knows the kid sprang an ankle tripping down the stairs – Reid's immediate protest of "I'm fine Hotch, honest!" just cracks him up. He assures the doctor he'll be there as soon as he can and tells him not to let Reid have sugar; it will just make things worse.

When he gets to the hospital, he makes a mental note to buy the kid the biggest, most sugar-fied coffee he can find. His wrists are bandaged, there's another around his waist (he can tell from the way he's sitting) and the most shocking of all is Reid's face. Lips are not good places for real stitches, and the liquid variety show everything. Hotch automatically finds himself standing beside his youngest, cupping his chin to get a better look at the wounds.

"It's not as bad as it looks." Reid assures him. Now Hotch knows why his voice sounds so ragged. Hotch pins him with one of those looks.

"I highly doubt that." he says. "What happened, Reid?"

The doctor is the one who answers him. "Your agent went head-to-head with a budding serial killer. He was knocked on the head and kidnapped on his way from visiting his mother, drug off to some basement, had his lips sewn shut, and then got into a fight with his captor. When he arrived here, he looked like something out of a horror movie."

Reid smiles as well as he can. "I made a nurse pass out."

The doctor rounds on Reid. "Stop talking. It's not helping matters. Either way, you can understand why I don't want him being alone right now." Reid makes a sound of protest, and Hotch simply pinches the bridge of his nose.

"What about the man who took him?"

"Dead. Apparently, your agent is one determined cuss. Stabbed him straight through the sternum." The doctor shrugs. "No great loss in my book. The cops have already cleared him to leave the state."

Hotch nods. "Let me sign the papers."

/-/

Instead of leaving, like Reid really wanted to do, Hotch checks them into a hotel for the night. By the time they settle in, his lips are burning and his side isn't much better. Hotch steers him to one of the beds, makes him sit down, and goes into the bathroom. When he gets out, he hands Reid a cold damp rag. "Put this on your mouth." he orders. Reid complies, and the cool makes the burn go away. He sighs in relief. Hotch pauses for a moment.

Reid fully expects him to go to the other bed. He expects a lecture – not that Hotch is angry with him, but something along the lines of be more careful, can't keep getting banged up – something like that. Hotch doesn't do touchy-feely, as Morgan calls it. That was always more Gideon's realm of expertise.

He lets out a squeak of surprise when he suddenly finds himself being hugged by his boss.

He can count on one hand – one finger – the number of times he's been hugged by Hotch. That was after Hankle. But here he is, Hotch with his arms wrapped around him and, now that they're so close, Reid can tell he's shaking slightly. Reid just sits there, unsure of what to do. This isn't like last time.

Hotch pulls away after a moment. "That was not the story I was expecting to hear." he says quietly. "Sometimes I forget you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself."

Reid nods. "So that was your entire reaction in one guesture?"

"Pretty much." Hotch goes to his bed and lays down. Reid stretches out as well, careful of his side and keeping the cloth pressed gently to his mouth. Hotch turns out his light, and there's only the soft glow of Reid's plug-in keeping the darkness at bay. After a moment, when Reid thinks his boss has gone to sleep, Hotch speaks.

"When we get back, you're telling that story." And Reid can hear the pride in his voice.

/-/

AN: I think this is the second fanfic where I had someone kidnap Reid. Poor guy. Oh well – he's still a badass.