Criminal Minds © CBS.

Part 17 of Shadows Within. I know I said there'd be another story before this one, but I changed my mind.

Love and Betrayal

Reid knows it almost instantly. There's a void where there should be a person, and he already knows exactly who it is. He doesn't bother waking the rest of the team. He simply gets up, leaves the mansion, and drives away, back to the park near what used to be his apartment.

The minds of DC have always been a constant background noise in Reid's head. He can't hear individual words, just a murmur that never goes away. Changes in that murmur come to his attention immediately. A sudden blank space can only mean one of two things – unsub, or Gideon.

"I didn't expect you to find me so fast."

Reid just stares at the back of his head. "I thought Rossi chased you off last time." he replies. Gideon sits on his bench, staring at the duck pond. He refuses to turn around, and Reid refuses to sit down next to him. He just stands there, hands in his pockets, wondering why the hell he decided to come alone. "Why are you here?"

"I'm not allowed to visit?"

"Not really. You never have before."

Gideon sighs. "I came to deliver a warning. And an offer."

That sends chills down Reid's spine. "Okay."

"Strauss knows about your condition." Gideon finally turns to face Reid. "She called me a few months ago. Wanted to know what I knew about it. So I gave her a little bit of information."

Reid can't breathe. "You – you told her? Told her what, exactly?"

"That you're taking after your mother. That the others are enabling you." Gideon stands up. "I know what it's like, Reid. I remember having the same delusions when I was a kid. I got help – I outgrew it. You need help, too."

The younger man takes a step back. His hands are shaking. "So what's the offer?"

"Strauss is going to fire you. You'll have nowhere to go." Gideon smiles faintly. "I can take you in. Get you help. Take care of you."

"I don't need help!"

He needs to calm down. Despite how well they've managed to separate themselves out, bleed-through is still way too easy. His anger and fear is going to alert the others, if it hasn't already. He can't think, can't reach out and find the others like he normally would. Gideon has him thrown completely off-balance.

Gideon takes a step forward. "Reid?"

His reaction is automatic – Reid flinches and takes a step back. "I'm not going with you." he says quietly. Anger is winning out over fear. His fists clench to steady the shaking. "You can't make me."

"Now you sound like a child." Gideon takes another step forward. Reid backs away again. His back is pressed against his car. "Come on, Reid. You know what this is. You know I can help you."

"No, you can't." Reid says. "Stay where you are."

Gideon stops. "What are you going to do? Hit me?"

Reid grins, even though there's nothing remotely funny about this situation. He remembers those words from a very long time ago, back when he first started high school, and the bullies came out of the woodwork. "I hear I have a mean swing now."

Someone touches his shoulder. Reid jerks. Hotch stands on his left, Rossi on his right. Morgan, Prentiss, JJ, and Garcia are all on the other side of Reid's car, just standing there as if daring Gideon to do something about it. Rossi grins.

"I thought I told you to leave my family alone."

Gideon snorts. "It's not your family, David. It never was."

"Oh, and it's yours, I guess?" Rossi's hand drops to his hip, where his gun sits. Gideon automatically takes a step back. "Back off, Jason. Leave us alone."

"I can't." Gideon replies. "Strauss called me in. She knows about Reid. She knows how sick he is. I just don't understand why you guys don't see it. The best profilers in the world, and you can't tell a schizophrenic who lives under your own roof."

"Reid isn't sick." Prentiss says, speaking up for the first time. "You are."

Gideon blinks. "I am?"

"Of course." JJ says. "You already admitted to being medicated in the past. Since you left the BAU, you've been in and out of mental institutions. This is just another in a long line of mental breakdowns for you."

For the first time, the team sees a reaction. Gideon's lip curls in a sneer. "That's a lie and you know it." he bites out.

Garcia grins. "A lie? We all know the records are there. It's just a matter of looking for them. And yeah – I won't be the one they sic on that paper trail, but I'll make sure they find it."

Gideon stares at them. They're a unified front, and he knows what will happen if he screws them over. They'll screw him into the ground, and he'll never dig his way out. So he does the only thing he can do. He turns and walks away. Strauss will deal with them later.

Hotch waits until Gideon is out of sight before rounding on Reid. The hell were you thinking walking away like that!

I didn't know what he was going to do!

Considering last time, you didn't think he'd try something like this? We know Strauss is on to us, we knew she'd hunt someone down to get dirt on us, you didn't think that would be Gideon? He grabs Reid by the shoulders and pulls him to him. You scared us.

Reid smiles faintly. Sorry.

Just don't do it again. Morgan says with a grin. Hotch 'bout went crazy trying to find you.

Rossi shakes his head. Come on. We need to get moving. If we're going to head Strauss off, we've got a lot of work to do.


An: And of course, another part one. There will be a second chapter to this, where they confront both Strauss and Gideon.