Title: Knee-jerk Reaction

Rating/Warnings: R/M [AU; profanity; discussion of an invasive medical procedure; not beta read]

Pairings: Hotch/Reid (pre-slash/friendship)

Summary: On the team no one, outside of Aaron and Reid, knows how close the later was to losing his left leg in the aftermath of the shooting between Reid and distraught Patrick Meyers.

Word count: ~ 1200

Spoilers: None, although this one has Blake in it.

DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. I just took them out to play and I promise to put them back when I'm done. I also don't own anything else you can recognize from other places.

Author's note: This little thing came to being as a child of the heath weave in the summer of 2012 and the effect of reading (yes, reading, I abhor high temperatures, if the temperature outside is higher than 30 C degrees I won't go outside unless I really have to) Hotch/Reid Alphabet Memes courtesy of Vanessa S. Quest and Kuria Dalmatia. Initially this piece was meant to be a part of similar Alphabet Meme before I've got severely sidetracked with other things and stories.

Dedicated to Vanessa S. Quest and Kuria Dalmatia, for inspiration.

I hope that You will find this story enjoyable. I would be the most grateful for constructive criticism.

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.

~Booker T. Washington

Knee-jerk Reaction

On the team no one, outside of Aaron and Reid, knows how close the later was to losing his left leg in the aftermath of the shooting between Reid and distraught Patrick Meyers. Out of all of them Dave is the one who comes the closest to knowing the whole truth, but Dave, unlike Aaron at the time of the shooting wasn't listed as next of kin and didn't have the power of an attorney to make important medical decision in case Reid was unable to make them by himself and Dave's job wasn't handling medical evaluations following an injury so the version which Dave had gotten was severely edited by Aaron for Reid's sake.

Eventually Reid recovered from the gunshot, just like Aaron recovered from nine stab wounds which Foyet inflicted on him and to other people they seemed fine. They didn't know that them being fine was only skin deep.

Why it would matter to local LEO's asking for BAU's help whatever or not one of the agents could predict the weather with his left knee better than the most sensitive meteorological station and that sometimes when the weather change was too drastic another agent was suffering from persistent tremors in his dominant arm?

It didn't matter.

What mattered was getting the job done well and that was it. No one else needed to know that another gunshot wound to the previously wounded area would put one or two of them out of commission, for good this time. Neither Aaron's neurologist nor Reid's orthopedist were optimistic about the outcome of the repeat.

To Aaron best case scenario was few months of medical leave with the danger of never regaining the full strength in his left arm, just some of it, the worst was limp arm and maybe, just maybe after few months of rehabilitation regaining the ability to sign his name with his dominant hand.

Reid was in much worse position. In his case a repeat of the gunshot would put him out of the field for good, the only difference was that in best case scenario he would end limping through the rest of his life, in worst case... Chop, chop and hello prosthetic leg.

So yes, in the months that followed their physical recovery they discussed their medical issues quite extensively.

"Agent Hotchner?" Doctor Hoskins, the orthopedist from Boston Memorial asked sharply. "Agent Reid listed you as his next of kin. What's your decision?"

What's my decision? My decision was sending my agent, my friend after a suspect with a narcissistic rookie who thought that he could shot better than a seasoned agent. Thanks to that little twerp...

"Doctor Bergman told me what's going to happen, Hotch," Reid's voice floated to the front of Aaron's mind. "If I'm unable to make a decision for myself... I don't want to..."

"Take away his leg," Aaron whispered.

"Hotch!" Morgan and Dave barked, Garcia and JJ gasped.

Blake was the only one who didn't say a word, she just lowered her head and covered her face with her hands before she exhaled.

"Agent Hotchner, are you sure?" Doctor Hoskins asked tiredly.

"As his attorney and next of kin I'm responsible for making relevant decisions regarding Doctor Reid's health if he is unable to do so," Aaron answered grimly. "Take away his left leg, this is my decision Doctor Hoskins and I'm not going to change it."

"They can still save his leg man!" Morgan snarled.

"Chop. It. Off," Aaron said as he turned around.

"Don't!" Morgan barked out. "It's his leg! Are you out of your bloody mind Hotch? They can still save his leg. He can walk away from it."

"He will," Aaron said softly. "He will walk, he will run, he will ride a bike, he will kick your ass at basketball. Prosthetics these days are far more advanced than they were twenty years ago. Sure it will take him a couple of months to get there but he is young, strong, stubborn, I believe in him, so should you."

"Hotch!" JJ whimpered. "Don't make the decision which isn't the best for him."

"And how do you know that your decision would be the best for him, JJ?" Aaron asked. "I've got to talk with Boston PD. Doctor Reid's left leg should better be gone or in the process of going away or on his behalf I will sue all of your asses."

"Hotch!" Morgan growled.

"Yours included," Aaron muttered as he walked out of the waiting room.

He couldn't stand it. He couldn't stand being with them. They were his family, their family but they didn't know, they didn't know that limping away with an almost useless limb wasn't what Reid wanted.

"I don't want to spend the rest of my life in chronic pain, Hotch, it's a hell I don't want to enter ever again. I can't stand it, my liver won't stand it... The only thing which made it more bearable was that I was recovering, that it was going to stop hurting one day... If it will ever came down to that the alternative of walking away with a limb will be permanent chronic pain... If I'm unable to make a decision for myself... I want you to tell them to take away my leg."

Reid would see it differently than the others. To JJ, Garcia, Morgan, even Dave it seemed right now that Aaron was taking away not only Reid's leg but also his life, his job, his purpose, his way of making a difference.

It wasn't until many hours later once Reid was in recovery and against hospital's regulations the whole team had gathered in his room, aside of Aaron in front of whose face Garcia firmly shut the door of the room.

For what seemed like eternity they had remained like that. His team inside, Aaron outside, locked away out of the room like they locked him out from the hearts after making what their presumed was the worst decision of his life, decision that affected the most one of their own, the one they all swore to protect.

Reid himself was sleeping, physical exhaustion and the stress of the surgery wore him down completely so once he woke up from anesthesia he quickly went under on his own.

But then Reid opened his eyes and everyone started to talk at the same time until Morgan took charge of informing Reid what Aaron had done to him.

Finally Reid said something to Morgan which made the other man frown and ask 'are you sure' before he opened the door to the room and told Aaron, "He wants to speak with you."

Very slowly, stiff from spending way too many hours in a plastic chair in the corridor, Aaron rose from his seat and made his way into the room. When he stopped by the bed Reid patted the left side of the bed.

"I'm not sure if I should..." Aaron whispered.

"A bit too late for that," Morgan sneered.

"Sit," Reid said quietly as he patted the bed.

Aaron nodded and gingerly sat next to Reid, careful to avoid leaning against the remains of his leg. Reid smiled at him softly before he leaned closer to Aaron and wrapped his arms around Aaron's shoulders.

"I knew you'd understand," Reid whispered and louder, for both Aaron and the others he added, "Thank you."

It was all that mattered, he did the right thing even if deep under his skin he doubted his own decision.

The End