And now for the final chapter.
The Replicator, Part 3
Are you okay?
Hotch takes a moment to consider that. His head is throbbing and he can barely see, but he can hear Reid just fine and the others are frantic balls of worry in the back of his mind. He makes an attempt to sit up. Reid helps him as much as he can. That's when Hotch discovers they're both chained to the ground, able to sit up and touch each other, but do little else. Chains wrap around their wrists and ankles. Hotch can only imagine what must have been done to force Reid into this position. Yeah, I think.
Good. Because we're screwed.
Standing in the doorway of the little underground cellar they're in is their stalker. He's tall, taller even than Hotch, with a mess of dark hair and the bluest eyes Reid has ever seen. Add in a leather biker jacket, worn jeans, and a twelve-inch knife that looks more like a tanto than anything that belongs in a kitchen, and he makes one hell of an intimidating character.
Reid makes it a point to not be afraid. Instead he lifts his chin and keeps his hand wrapped firmly around Hotch's wrist, anchoring the older man until he can make his head stop spinning. "Who the hell are you?"
The man places a hand over his chest. "You don't recognize me? I'm hurt, Spencer Reid."
Reid rolls his eyes. "I know you've been stalking us, you ass, but who are you?"
I really don't think it's a good idea to piss him off. Hotch warns.
Being weak will only make things worse. He's seeing which one of us will break first. Reid replies. He sounds calm enough, but Hotch can sense the underlying panic starting to build in his youngest. Hotch can't see into the mind the way Reid can. Only Reid can see the horrors this stalker has planned for them.
The stalker smiles. "You may call me the Replicator."
"Replicator? What kind of a name is that?" Reid demands. "You haven't replicated anything. The name implies you would have copied something, but there's nothing of our previous cases in what you have done."
Replicator kneels down and looks Reid in the eye. "I've replicated you."
Hotch, where the hell are you? Morgan sounds frantic and worried, and Hotch starts feeding him all the information he can gather from their surroundings. In addition, Reid starts informing Garcia of what he has pulled from the Replicator's mind. Between the two of them, they should be able to give the team enough information to find them.
The Replicator stands up. "Now, for the fun part – which one of you is the Awakener?"
That freezes both of them. "What are you talking about?" Hotch snarls.
Replicator smiles coldly. "You know exactly what I mean. Which one of you is born a freak?" He looks back and forth between the two of them. "I narrowed it down to one of you two. I know you guys can read each other's minds, but one of you should be able to read mine. So which one is it?"
Before Reid can speak, tell the man he's crazy or something (he hasn't decided what, exactly, he's going to say) Hotch speaks up.
The hell are you doing! Reid's head snaps around. His eyes are wide. You can't tell him that! He'll kill you!
And he'll kill you too. Hotch says quietly.
I meant what I said. Hotch glances over at him. You're my son, and I won't let anything happen to you.
And what about Jack? What's going to happen if this nut job kills you because you were trying to protect me? Reid's practically screaming at him now, and it's not doing much for Hotch's headache. On the other hand, Reid has an excellent point. It's not going to stop him, though.
Replicator watches them intently. "So this is what it looks like, to be an outsider. To see you guys speaking in front of me, and not be able to hear a thing. I wonder what you're coworkers think of you. You must be freaks." He grins. "So, Aaron Hotchner – you're the lead freak, then."
"I'm the leader of this team." Hotch says calmly. "It would make sense that I'd be the lead freak."
"Then tell me – what am I thinking?"
It takes only a second for Reid to fill him in, and the second-hand information is enough to make Hotch go even paler than he already is. "I'd rather not say. Honestly, I'd rather not know. You're pretty twisted."
There's nothing they can physically do. Replicator has them tied down too well for them to be able to stop him. These facts do nothing to stop Hotch's automatic reaction to raise his hands to block the knife swung at his face. He can't raise his hands high enough, but Reid has enough slack to twist his body into the path of the blade. The knife that should have cut into Hotch's face instead takes a bite out of the back of Reid's shoulder. He flinches, but makes no sound.
I can take it. There's something dark in his eyes, and Hotch doesn't have to read his mind to know he's thinking of Hankle. Please, let me do this.
Hotch, we found him. Prentiss says. We're on our way.
Hurry. Hotch has never begged for anything in his life. He's threatened, bargained, but never begged. Right now, he feels like he's begging. Prentiss sends an affirmative.
All of this takes place in the few seconds it takes the Replicator to realize what Reid's done. Raw fury twists his features, and Hotch can do nothing but watch as Replicator grabs Reid and slams him as hard as he can against the floor. Reid grunts, but Hotch can feel it as something snaps inside his youngest.
"Reid!" He struggles against his chains. "Dammit, leave him alone!" But the Replicator is on his knees, pummeling the younger agent with everything he has, and all Hotch can do is watch and scream. "Stop it!"
Suddenly, he does. He stops, fist raised in mid-swing. Hotch feels a small trickle of blood ooze from his nose, and suddenly he realizes what he's done. He grins. "Get away from him." Slowly, the Replicator does just that and backs away to his original position by the door.
Reid coughs. Blood splatters the floor. "You can't hold him like that forever." he says.
"I don't have to." Hotch replies. A moment later Reid becomes aware of footsteps pounding down the stairs. Morgan is the first one in the room. He quickly disarms and handcuffs an oddly compliant Replicator. Rossi shoves past him and goes directly to Hotch and Reid.
"Hotch?" Rossi leans in, looking the younger man over. He glances back at the Replicator. "Let him go. He's not a threat anymore." Hotch takes a shuddering breath and looks away, turning his gaze automatically to Reid. Morgan starts cursing rather impressively as the Replicator, no longer forced into submission, fights back. JJ helps him get the man up the stairs while Prentiss grabs the keys and undoes the chains holding Reid down.
"Damn, Reid, you look like someone beat the shit out of you." she says, helping him sit up. Reid tries to stand, but immediately curls back up, arms clamped around his sides. Prentiss kneels down. Morgan, we need an ambulance. Reid can't stand, and I'm pretty sure Hotch isn't in any better condition. She tosses the keys to Rossi, who quickly frees Hotch.
You got it. Morgan replies.
Rossi looks around. What did this guy want with us, anyway? This wasn't just about killing us.
Reid shakes his head. He was going to dissect us, cut into our minds until he found out what made us different. Force us to do things until he found out how far we could be pushed. He was gonna start with the Awakener. Guess he wasn't anticipating Hotch.
How did you do that? JJ demands. I didn't think we could.
I don't know. Hotch admits. I just wanted him to stop, and he did.
Reid looks up at him. The ambulance has arrived. The medics are walking into the room, ready to cart them both away to the nearest hospital and thoroughly examine them both. Still, Reid looks directly at him, something dark and wholly innocent in his eyes, and Hotch can't help but smile.
Maybe now things can go back to normal for them.
And the end of yet another awesome installment! Sorry for the long update time – life happened at the wrong moment. Bleh. Either way, keep a lookout for the Children of the Shadows series, and more from this lovely AU. Any ideas, PM them to me. I may use them.
Until next time, I remain yours truly,