This story will primarily focus on Reid, JJ and Morgan. Spencer isn't going to be well in body or in mind, so be warned. He isn't going to understand himself or anything around him. If I've done this right - and semi-realistically - it's going to be upsetting. Future warnings (and spoilers for future chapters) - discussion of sexual abuse, graphic violence and bodily functions (if that needs to be warned about), PTSD. This first chapters an introduction, so no warnings.
Garcia's stiletto heals clacked against the office floor as she made her way down the hall. She wore the biggest, fakest smile she could muster and carried the most gigantic, sickly chocolate cake she'd ever baked in shaky hands.
As she entered the conference room, she was greeted by four equally false smiles, and Morgan's deadpan glare. She ignored the tears in JJs eyes, just as she ignored her own.
Garcia put the cake down and they all gathered around it, silent. She looked to Morgan, sitting at the end of the table and spinning a pen in his hand, staring at a spot on the wall. She didn't ask him to join, she knew he would fight her, start yelling. He might punch Hotch again or hold Rossi up against the wall, like that day at the courthouse. The anniversary was hard on all of them, but Morgan refused to put a smile on. To pretend, and to 'celebrate' like everyone else did.
It had been four years since Agent Spencer Reid had disappeared. Today, he would be declared legally dead. It wasn't fair on anyone to prolong it anymore than they already had. Their youngest wasn't coming back, and it was time to accept that and move on.
They had spent too long agonizing over his death. They had chosen to celebrate Reid's life instead. All 27 years of it. They assumed he was 27 when he died, they hoped he was. They prayed he hadn't suffered too much, and that he didn't die scared and alone. They had no evidence to suggest he'd been tortured. But they didn't have anything to say otherwise either. They had nothing. Zilch. Nada. 17 others in Virginia had gone missing within a year of Reid, yet no bodies, or remains of any sort had ever been recovered. They spent months scouring the area, reviewing case files, offering rewards and doing all they could to bring their agent home until they were forcibly removed from the case and ordered grief assessments before anyone could continue.
JJ didn't ever think about how Reid died, because it made her physically sick. When they found his DNA on a t-shirt in the back-seat of a burnout car. When the first year passed. When she had to meet with his mother and try and make her understand what had happened and why her only son couldn't write to her anymore.
Morgan took a year off to 'visit his family'. They all knew he spent the time tearing though case files and walking the streets looking for something. Anything to show him the man he'd come to see as his brother was still alive.
Their celebration marked the end of their search, when they would officially stop looking for Reid, and try to get on with their lives. So Emily cut the cake, and JJ poured the champagne.
"It's very chocolate-y, oh - and the icings coffee - and there's all the candies he liked on the top."
"It doesn't matter Garcia, if it's sweet, Reid would like it." Emily joked. She hadn't known Reid that long, only two years before his disappearance, but like everyone, she still woke at night with vivid images of his beaten and broken body laying on the floor and crying out for help.
Garcia decided to be the first to speak. Reid's disappearance had destroyed her, too. Her experience with victim support helped her deal with the uncertainties, but while she tried to dwell on the good times, even after all these years, every time she thought of him, her heart ached.
"So," She started weakly, still smiling but her eyes telling a different story. "I don't really know what to say, we all know why we're here today. So, why don't we share our favourite memories of Reid? I'll go first. Before he disappeared, he -"
Morgan snorted. Garcia fell silent.
"Disappeared." He repeated, shaking his head and clearly pissed off. "Disappeared?"
Garcia looked to the framed photograph of Reid sitting next to the cake. He wore a slight, nervous smile and he stood up straight (for once) in front of the US flag. It had been taken not long after he had first joined the FBI, and she just knew that it was going to look very out of place on the wall of fallen agents. His young face in amongst people more than twice his age was going to be a horrible symbol of a job that sucked the life out of everyone in it.
Garcia's computer beeped, but no one took any notice. The silence in the room was deafening. No one dared to argue with Morgan. No one knew what to say. It was only after the computer beeped again and again and again, that Garcia wiped her tears, huffed, and went to turn it off. But what she found made her freeze on the spot.
There were duplicate emails, ten more coming in with every 'ding'. All with the same subject:
"What is it, Garcia?" JJ asked, and as she came to stand next to her friend, she gasped.
Soon everyone was gathered.
Morgan slammed his fist into the wall. It didn't make a hole this time. "This isn't fucking funny." He growled.
"Hotch?" Garcia asked, he nodded, his face stern.
She clicked on one email, and gasped when the picture loaded.
It was Reid laying in what looked like a coffin, completely naked and covered in bruises and a film of dirt. His hands were duct taped to his body, he was attached to the box by a chain around his neck. He was blindfolded and there was something wrapped around his ears. He was in a dark basement, and laying open on his chest was a newspaper.
"Zoom in." Hotch commanded. "Zoom in to the date."
The date was that of the previous day, the headlines matched and everything.
Garcia scrolled down to the text of the email, and Emily read aloud :
It's time for me move on - no obligation to collect what's left.
228 Flat Bush Road.
There was silence. JJ ran out the room, Emily followed her.
"What do we do?" Garcia stuttered, eyes fixed on the grainy image as tears fell down her face.
Morgan left the room for an entirely different reason than JJ, he had the keys in his hand, and he headed straight towards the cars. Once Hotch steadied himself he called the SWAT team - there could be anything in that building.
"Track him!" He yelled at Garcia.
As Morgan sped towards the address, the image of Reid in that coffin wouldn't leave his mind. He remembered the day Reid was taken, his own arrogance costing Reid his life. He'd told Spencer to get out of the hotel room if he wanted to read with the bright lights on and talk statistics all night. He told him JJ would listen, and he wanted to watch the game on TV without 'nerd alerts' every minute. The hotel footage showed Reid leave the room and walk down the hall. He visited the vending machine in the foyer and brought a pack of pretzels, but just as he was reaching down to retrieve them, he seemed to get distracted by something outside on the front porch. He opened the door, began down the stairs, then nothing. Reid was gone and they didn't have any leads. Morgan wished he could go back and change everything, but he couldn't. The best he could do was dedicate the rest of his life to finding the son of a bitch that killed his friend.
"This could be a hoax." Rossi told Garcia plainly as JJ and Emily filed back into the room. "We can't see his face. It could be any kid."
"Why would anyone do this." JJ said softly. "Exactly four years to the day."
Morgan slammed down the breaks and jumped out the SVU, leaving the door wide open as he took off into the trees. The house was in the middle of nowhere, isolated on a big plot of land. He took out his gun, not turning around when he heard sirens in the distance. He knew the guy could have wired the place to go up in flames when the got there. But frankly, Morgan didn't care anymore.
The house was huge, and it looked abandoned. SWAT had somehow overtaken Morgan and instantly their unit was storming the building and making sure it was safe. Hotch took hold of Morgan's arm to stop him running inside and shook him hard.
"You go inside before it's checked and you risk blowing Reid up, you really want that?" Hotch yelled, glaring.
By the time SWAT had cleared the place, Emily, JJ and Rossi were at the house. Rossi was barking orders at SWAT through his walkie and JJ had her hands stuck to her face.
The SWAT leader called out that all was clear and they split up, Morgan and JJ went down into the basement while Hotch and Emily checked the outside Tornado shelter.
Morgan saw the coffin at the centre of the basement. He didn't see the mutilated bodies surrounding it or the copious amount of blood he was standing in. He didn't see the torture devices hanging from the wall or the open notebook recording every victim, and every ounce of pain he'd inflicted upon them. He just saw the coffin. And he hesitated.
"I can't." JJ whispered from behind. "If he's dead... I just can't."
Morgan looked to the stairs, the rest of the team gathered at the top, just waiting. Waiting for him. Slowly Morgan neared the coffin, knelt down and lifted the lid.
Inside was a body. Skinny - no - malnourished. Great tufts of hair missing and under a thick layer of dirt, no dust? Far too pale skin. Save for the blood. It was everywhere. His head bathing in a pool of what rushed out like a waterfall. He was in far worse condition than in the photo. But it was Spencer. There was no doubt.
Very cautiously, praying to God, asking for this one favour, willing to forgive every other time he had been left alone and helpless, Morgan pressed a finger to Spencer's neck.
Immediately the body stiffened.
"Reid." Morgan breathed. As if every ounce of heartache, worry, stress and fear just evaporated away with one word. Then to the team, "He's alive. Get - Get a medic!"
The next few minutes were chaos. A cluster of EMTs storming in and crowding around while they tore at Spencer's blindfold and binds, hooking him up to a bundle of tubes and wires. Morgan went to touch Spencer, not knowing where to put his hand amongst a myriad of bruises and cuts. Eventually he placed a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder and he didn't let go.
They all followed Reid and Morgan to the hospital, in their black Suburban's. The CSIs were having the bodies removed and the evidence bagged for them, but they needed to be at the hospital before they even thought about work. They had the canine unit scouring the area on a scent from some bedding found in the basement, and the media had already turned up, battling to get the story first.
They sat in the hospital waiting room. Morgan alternated between pacing the room and hounding whoever roamed the corridors for answers. JJ sat with her knees to her chest in silence.
"Family of Spencer Reid?" A doctor called towards their group. Hotch looked up and he and Morgan made their way over to the nurse. "Are you family?" The doctor asked, raising her eyebrow.
"Yes." Both Hotch and Morgan said without hesitation.
"I'm Agent Aaron Hotchner with the FBI, is he going to be okay?"
The doctor exhaled deeply and looked down at his notes, flicking back and forth between the two pages and pausing to rest his head on his thumb and fore-finger.
"Spencer Reid has suffered extensive abuse, from what I can tell, he has been deprived of sight and sound for a prolonged period of time. There are burn marks all over his body, several bones have been broken and reset badly, his muscles have completely worn away and he is dangerously thin. He's severly dehydrated and anaemic, and most problematically, he has suffered a sever head injury fairly recently. The wounds have been dressed and tended to, but I'm afraid we wont know the true extent of the damage until he comes around. He's been put into an induced coma while he recovers."
Garcia was sobbing, JJ and Emily were holding hands and Morgan was so close to punching a hole in the wall again.
"But is he going to be okay?" JJ pushed.
The doctor looked at the team. "As I said, with his head injury, we wont know until he wakes up. He could have mild amnesia, he could be permanently brain damaged. Frankly, I'm surprised he's alive."
The doctor looked to Hotch. "Agent Hotchner, I wonder if I could talk with you privately. I need your consent on how to proceed with another matter."
"What matter?" Morgan demanded, but he was ignored.
Hotch followed the doctor to the reception desk, and Morgan looked on worriedly.
When they were out of earshot, the doctor continued. "There's evidence to suggest Mr Reid has been sexually assaulted. I need your consent to proceed."
Hotch looked back at his team, then he signed the paper.
"I need to know if he's going to be alright." Garcia sobbed. "After all these years... why would someone keep him that long? What happened to him?"
"That bastard wanted us to find him dead." Morgan said flatly. "He wanted to give us hope, and then snatch it away again."
"Reid's too strong." Emily said. "Four years, he never gave up."
Morgan put an arm around Garcia's shoulders and pulled her into him. He could feel the anger growing inside him, and he held on to Garcia to stop himself from picking up the water cooler and throwing it into the wall. Ever since Reid had disappeared, he'd been finding it harder and harder to control his temper. The Bureau had made it very clear that another strike meant he was out, and this time, it would be for good. He closed his eyes, thinking of Reid laying in the hospital bed. He had to be strong like Reid.
Hotch returned to the team, stony faced and arms folded.
"What did he say?" JJ asked.
Hotch shook his head. "There's evidence to suggest sexual abuse. He needed my permission to investigate further."
Morgan opened his eyes, let go of Garcia, and immediately stormed out the door.
"Wait!" JJ called after him. She followed him outside, and into the parking lot.
"Derek, you need to calm down."
"That bastard is going to pay." Morgan growled, unlocking the door of the car.
"Where are you going?"
"I don't know."
"Spence needs you here."
"You call me when he wakes up."
JJ watched the Suburban pull out of the parking space and drive off.
"Can we see him?" JJ asked weakly. When she returned to the team, they were all seated in silence.
"I don't think I can." Garcia said through tears. JJ didn't think she'd stopped crying since they had discovered the photo.
When the doctor returned, a clip board in his hand for Hotch to fill out some of Spencer's details, he asked a nurse to escort JJ and Prentiss into Spencer's room.
The room was dark. They were keeping the light low and everyone was instructed to only make noise when absolutely necessary. Spencer's body looked dangerously small amongst the thick blankets and the bandages wrapped around his head only furthered the effect.
The first thing JJ noticed was the chunk of flesh missing from Spencer's right arm. That's just where her eyes travelled to first. The spot had been healed, but a scar remained on his forearm from the elbow almost to the wrist. Her eyes travelled to the tiny bit of his chest showing, red and angry skin, cigarette burns up his neck. Spencer's other arm was yellow and green with bruises. There were marks that looked like a tally count cut into his skin, healed over, but scarred white. Then she reached his face. Black and purple eyes, dry and cracked lips, a cut running from his chin to past his hairline.
JJ stepped closer to the bed and reached out to touch Spencer for the first time in four years, her hand settling on greasy hair, matted with blood and vomit and god knows what else, that hadn't been washed in years. She gently moved the hair, and she noticed his ear lobe was missing. There was still bits of mould and rot stuck inside his ear, and she noticed his eyes were caked with it too. There wasn't an inch of untainted flesh.
JJ ran from the room and barely made it outside before she lost everything in her stomach and fell to the ground.
Morgan parked on the cliff-top, a few blocks from the hospital. He had lost count of how many times he had found himself in the same spot. He would sit in his car and watch the city lights, knowing that somewhere, in one of those houses, lived someone who knew what happened to Spencer Reid. Today Morgan wanted to keep driving, but the anger inside of him blurred his vision and made it too difficult to keep in the right lane. The last thing he wanted to do was cause an accident. To ruin someone's life. Or to die without bringing Reid justice. Morgan locked the car and walked back towards the hospital.
Should I continue? Please review :)