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The Good Things in Life

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Derek smiled at the sight of his Pretty Boy as he trudged grumpily into the kitchen. Even half asleep with his night shirt rumpled and his hair in crazier tangles and curls than the norm, Spencer was the most beautiful thing he could imagine. He sidled up close and whispered in his ear, “Morning Pretty Boy,” followed by a quick kiss behind his ear. Spencer grumbled about morning breath and coffee. Chuckling, Derek began his morning routine and after getting off the phone with JJ, went to announce to Spencer that they had a case. By then Spencer was dressed and awake having guzzled down most of his coffee flavored sugar drink.

“Hey you awake now Pretty Boy?”

Spencer looked up at him with an adorably bewildered expression. “I was awake before, I just needed my coffee.”

“We got a case,” Morgan grinned. He pulling Spencer into a short, but affectionate kiss which Spencer returned and heading out to the car. Spencer finished what remained of his
coffee before rinsing the mug and following Derek out, grumbling that Morgan still had morning breath.

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On the way to the BAU, JJ called again to inform them that another body had been found and Hotch wanted them on the plane sooner rather than later.

“The Unsub might be devolving into a spree killer if the time table is so quick, “Spencer noted. “Garcia sent over some of the files. There have been three bodies found within the last week. If not, he’s definitely on a mission.”

“What about victimology,” Morgan asked as he navigated the morning traffic.

“He doesn’t seem to have a preference for gender, age, or appearance. The victims must have something else in common. He also doesn’t seem to have a preference for how to kill his victims which is strange. One was drowned, another starved, and another beaten to death...”

“Maybe it’s more about the torture than the kill.”

“Then after he kills them he lays them out gently, cleaned…” Spencer paused looking closely at the crime scene photos.

“So he’s showing signs of remorse? Maybe he relates to the victims somehow. Or doesn’t want to kill them, but feels he needs to?”

“And it looks like he left messages with each.”

“Saying what,” Morgan asked as he parked the car and they started walking toward the waiting jet. They could see they others already boarding.

“’Sleep Peacefully Now’, ‘Your Suffering Ends This Day’, and ‘Rejoice in the Freedom of Darkness’ are the most recent ones, but previous victims all have similar messages.”
Morgan began to climb the steps into the plane grimacing. “That is seriously creepy. But that means these are likely mercy kills.”

“That’s what we were thinking too, “said JJ who had already found a sunny spot in a window seat.

“What I don’t get is the method of killing, “Said Prentiss from her seat across the aisle. Morgan and Reid took their seats across from JJ while Hotch and Rossi settled in toward the back of the plane.

“I think the actual kill must be something he chooses especially for that victim. It could have to do with why he’s choosing these people specifically,” said Rossi.

“What do we know about the victims?” JJ asked.

“Quite a bit my dear crime fighters,” came the answer from the big screen overhead where a colorfully adorned Garcia appeared. She pushed her purple cat-eye glasses up the bridge of her nose before the furious sound of typing could be heard. “The first victim, Kelly Mason, 22 was found two weeks ago on bench in a local park. She was beaten to death and had bruises on her wrists that led the coroner to believe she was restrained. She was a college student majoring in Kinesiology with a minor in Nursing, had a part time job on campus, and was a member of a few clubs. She was missing six days before she was found by a service cop with the message, ‘Breath Easy for Your Burden is Lifted’” Garcia visibly shuttered.

“The second victim was 42 year old Terrence Conelley who was found in the outdoor seating area of the coffee shop he frequented. His death wasn’t initially linked to the Unsub’s MO because it was believed to be a suicide by pill until police found the message the Unsub left. It had blown a ways away from the body by the wind, but it said, “Bask in the Success of Your Deepest Desire.’” Reid’s brow furrowed in thought.

“The third victim…. Aww,” Garcia paused before continuing in a somber tone. “The third victim was 9 year Henry Greyson.” JJ shifted uncomfortably and tried not to picture her Henry. “He was found starved to death at the school lunch tables with a message ‘Forever Young’. He had been missing the longest, so police think that he might have actually been taken before victims one or two and was held and tortured all that time until he was found. Poor baby,” she mumbled.

“Garcia did Kelly visit that park often,” Reid asked looking up from the paper files Hotch had handed him.

“Uh, if she did I can’t find official record of it, but she did buy new running shoes a month previous to her disappearance and there is a running trail through the park.”

Hotch leaned forward in his seat. “What are you thinking Reid?”

“Terrence was found at a coffee shop he frequented and Garcia I’m guessing the school Henry was found at was his own elementary school?”

“Right you are Boy Wonder, “She said still with a tone of sadness in her voice.

“If we assume Kelly went to the park often, all of the victims, including the more recent ones, were found within the context of their own lives. That means he probably stalks his victims, but it also means he would have to be unemployed or has a job that allows for him to be flexible with his hours. Think about it, the time it takes to stalk someone in itself is time consuming, but to spend time with his victims as he clearly does and find the perfect windows of opportunity to pose the bodies in these very public places without being seen would have to take away from any other obligations he has.”

“Yeah so probably not a family man, “said JJ.

“These messages he’s leaving all seem to be addressing the victims. It’s clear he thinks he’s doing them a favor, “said Rossi.

Prentiss nodded then added, “It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say these killings and messages are expressions of his own desire to end it all would it?”

“Not at all,” said Reid while flipping the files to the police reports though he had already committed it to memory. “It’s actually quite common that when messages like these are left at the scene, they’re things that the Unsub themselves would like to internalize in fact several different criminology studies have found that-“

“So he has suicide ideation,” said Rossi. Reid looked about to add something, but he stopped when his phone buzzed. He paused while reading the message then quickly tucked his phone away.

“Which the Unsub is then projecting on others who he thinks are suffering, “said Hotch.

“Why is the method of the kill tailored to the individual victim then,” asked JJ. “That seems like a lot of effort to keep changing it up.”

“Probably because to him it’s about the victim’s suffering. The kill would be symbolic to end that specific form of suffering,” said Morgan, eyeing Reid, who was now staring out the window watching the ground drop away as the plane took off.

“Garcia is there any indication from the victim’s pasts that would somehow correlate with their deaths,” Hotch asked.

Garcia’s fingers flew over the keys before she reported, “Kelly had been in the hospital for a brief time about two weeks before her disappearance. Apparently she and her boyfriend had a fight and he beat her. Angela Miller who was drowned reported that she was having problems with bullies who had given her swirlies- really? People still do that? Gah, kids can be so mean! Henry had been in the hospital on several occasions for fractured or broken bones, but I can’t find any records in reference to starving. None of the other victims have any such connections. Not on any official records anyway.”

“It could be that Henry’s parents were abusive and starved him. If the Unsub stalked him, he would likely know that,” said JJ.

“Alright Garcia I want you to continue digging into the victim’s lives to find any additional connections. Also see if you can find security footage or possible witnesses of the dump sites and report back with anything you find, “said Hotch.

“Will do Boss Man,” Garcia clicked a button and was gone.

“Though he spends time with his victims, the time between kills is getting shorter. Hopefully that means he’ll start making mistakes. When we land I want to split up. Reid, I want you to go to the station and start on a geographic profile. JJ and Morgan go to the crime scenes and see if you can find something the police may have missed. Rossi, Prentiss, and I will split up the victim’s families to conduct interviews. We’ll meet up later with our findings.”

Everyone nodded and while some of them continued to throw around ideas, Morgan leaned closer to Reid. “Are you alright,” he asked quietly. Reid pulled out a book that he would probably finish long before they landed. “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” Morgan looked doubtful. “Come on Pretty Boy, don’t do that. Talk to me,” he said taking Spencer’s hand in his and giving it a gentle squeeze.

Spencer sighed then mumbled quietly so Derek had to lean in closer, “That was one of the nurses at my mom’s facility. She has my number so she can give me daily updates. She’s having another episode.” He began picking at the material of his pant leg with the hand Derek wasn’t holding. “She thinks someone has taken me and is hiding me from her. She’s demanding they let me go.” Derek squeezed Spencer’s hand tighter and rested his chin on his head. “I’m sure they’ll take care of her. She’ll be okay in a little while,” he said not really knowing how to comfort Spencer other than to be there for him. “If I visited her more, maybe she wouldn’t have these episodes so often,” said Spencer feeling guilty. He really did want to see her more often, but it also scared him. Seeing her could either be pleasant where she seemed okay- like her normal self. Or she could be yelling and throwing things, convinced Spencer was an imposter. Then there were those times when she would look at him and see a total stranger. He knew it wasn’t her fault, but after his father left, it was she and him against the world. Until the times she forgot him. Then he had been alone.

“How about this, when this case is over, you and I take a couple days off and we’ll go see her. Maybe spend some time hittin’ the scene while we’re there. Or find a nice hotel to hide away in…” He moved his hand away from Spencer’s and instead wrapped his arm around Spencer’s shoulder and pulled him in closer. Spencer sighed at the contact and adjusted to fit more comfortably before opening his book, though it was obvious he wasn’t really reading. It was a moment before he replied, “Maybe we could. It would be a good opportunity too to tell her about us. We have been dating for a while now. I guess it’s time she ought to know.” He would have mentioned it in the letters he sent her, but that just seemed like something he should tell her in person. Assuming she remembered who he was.

Derek smiled and pulled on his headphones and listened to his music. He sighed deeply, enjoying the sweet smell of Spencer’s hair and slowly fell asleep to the gentle movement of Spencer breathing against him and the quiet turning of pages.

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Once the team landed, there was a lot to get done and not a lot of time to do it in. By the evening Hotch, Prentiss, and Rossi had all returned from their interviews with the most recent victim’s families. A few family members mentioned an unusual car parked on their street that didn’t belong to anyone in the neighborhood, but were unable to give more than a general description, which Hotch passed on to Garcia anyway.

Garcia did manage to find footage from a security camera in the parking lot at Henry’s elementary school, but the footage was too grainy to get anything more than a car there at an unusual hour. The angle and clarity didn’t allow for a good look at the details of the car, its driver, or what they were doing there in the wee hours of the morning. Morgan and JJ were able to find a few things the police missed, but nothing that added anything major to the profile. Reid had better luck and was able to narrow the comfort zone based on the many points where the victims were both taken and dumped. By the end of the day everyone was tired and running on empty. Hotch decided to have everyone call it a night, they’d start again with fresh eyes in the morning.

“Having such a quick time between killings and having already dumped his latest victim, the Unsub has probably already chosen his next victim. He’s probably stalking them now,” said Spencer back in the hotel room he was sharing with Derek. He was reluctant to stop for the night, but knew why they needed to. Even the six or seven cups of coffee he drank today were not enough to keep the sleepiness from his eyes. By morning however, the sleepiness had not improved. He had not slept well.

Nightmares woke him multiple times in the night and he eventually gave up sleeping in his own bed and opted to snuggle up with Derek who murmured reassurances and wrapped an arm around Spencer’s shoulders. As Derek drifted back to sleep, Spencer felt more at ease, but nonetheless too awake to fall back asleep. He found that, as always, his thoughts wondered. He found himself contemplating the miraculous events that led him to be here in Derek’s arms.

He had Garcia to thank for it of course. Being a team of profilers, everyone had seen the attraction between the two before they saw it in each other. Both kept their feelings to themselves for fear of ruining the wonderful friendship they had and the belief that the other would not return his feelings. Garcia, being the mischievous pixie she was, intervened, setting them both up on a blind date without telling the other enough details to catch on to her scheme, though they knew she was up to something. She seemed far too pleased with herself. Spencer needed much more convincing- if threat of a cyber disaster meltdown by Garcia’s hand counted as convincing- to get him to go. Derek needed a less forceful approach.

When they showed up and realized what was going on there was an awkward period of laughing and wondering aloud why she would think to do such a thing, but after dinner (which they agreed to have since they were already there) feelings were expressed, dreams fulfilled, and sweet bedroom fantasies realized. The next morning, when they were called in on a case and they each showed up in the same clothes as the day before, Garcia had on the biggest knowing smirk and congratulated them with commemorative cupcakes, much to Spencer’s embarrassment.

Hotch had warned them to not let it interfere with work, and left it at that. Gradually they became more comfortable about the fact that the team knew. Derek seemed to relish in the fact that he could openly love Spencer and though it took Spencer a little longer, he too felt less self-conscious about being open in their relationship in front of the team. He was lucky really. Had it not been for Garcia, they might not have gotten together and he would be lying in his own bed now, either still dreaming of blood, needles, and dead eyes, or he would be lying awake wishing he could cuddle with Derek just as he was now. Just as he had been wishing he could do for years. As morning approached Derek began to stir and while the world outside began to wake, they lay in each other’s arms exchanging tender kisses and sweet nothings.

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The team’s fears were realized when, upon arriving at the precinct in the early morning, they learned that someone had been reported missing during the night. They hit the ground running, interviewing the rest of the victim’s families including the new potential victim. Jayden Pearson was a 20 year old college student whose family were having major financial troubles and on the verge of being evicted. Once the interviews were finished, they developed the profile. They concluded that the Unsub must have a pressing deadline of some kind that was the source of the accelerated rate of kidnappings and kills, which had to mean he was able to find and stalk his victims fairly easily. He must somehow have access to information he would need to know to choose his next target.

They held a press conference to deliver the profile and description of the Unsub’s car (which Garcia was able to clean up from the security footage), warn the public to be vigilant, and for college students to stay in groups and set a curfew since both Kelly and Jayden were last seen on campus before they vanished. The air seemed charged with tension as the team worked through lists of suspects and split up to work different angles. They worked through the night following a lead that turned out to be a dead end and dealing with potential witnesses that turned out to be a bunch of nosy teens having a little fun- until Hotch and Morgan enlightened them to the consequences of interfering with a federal investigation. Suddenly things weren’t so funny. Another day had gone by and the team’s frustration grew with the passing time. Time they knew the Unsub was spending torturing Jayden.

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Jayden Pearson held his breath when he heard the man coming closer. He was disoriented, gagged, blindfolded, and his head was pounding. The tickling sensation along the side of his face told him it was bleeding. He jumped violently when fingers began lightly tracing the blood trail down his neck and to his chest and the man spoke in soft tones. “If I had the time, I would do this properly,” he said and Jayden shivered. “Unfortunately starving takes too long. The human body takes an annoyingly long time,” he struggled to connect his thoughts, “To die from lack of food,” he continued, thinking of poor little Henry whose Hell could have ended much sooner if he would have just died already! He had almost considered just beating him to death when he discovered that finally the boy was gone. He was overwhelmed with mixed emotions upon that discovery. The boy was free finally, never to be hurt by his supposed guardians again, but he hadn’t been able to watch the boy leave. It’s a joyous moment he would love to have witnessed.

Jayden was shaking now. He felt the hand leave his chest and was momentarily relieved. “I’ll have to make this quicker,” the man said and suddenly the air was forced from his lungs by a sucker punch to the gut followed by more to the chest and face. Jayden struggled against his bonds and screamed into the gag, but nothing seemed to deter the man. Finally he passed out from the pain. The man stood back, lurching to the side from dizziness at the burst energy he had just used. He felt sick and his arm was quickly going numb. He watched the bruises begin to form slowly on the boy’s face. He would return to him soon. In the meantime he needed to be on the lookout for the next person to take his place when Jayden was gone.

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Though he knew he had others reasons for doing the things he did, Jason Harris got a thrill from watching, waiting, learning. He knew a lot about his wayward innocents by the time he took them. And all the while they had no idea he was there. The relief they would feel if they knew that the one who could end all the pain was near- perhaps they would even seek him out! But as much pain that they carried, he knew they would also be afraid. So he would do what they could not. Right now he was stalking another student. Who knew so much suffering could be found in places of learning?

This is how he found himself lurking in the less visited aisles of the library keeping a subtly watchful eye on his next victim, feeling dizzy and weak. Once he was done with Jayden, this seemingly happy, but truthfully grieving girl is who he planned to free. Or at least he had thought so, until God intervened, and he was presented with a soul suffering far more. And he knew. His head was pounding and he fought off the urge to puke. He didn’t have long before his time here was done. And he knew if he helped only one last person find their way out their own personal Hell, it was this man.

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After a few hours of rest, the team split up again and while the others tracked down another lead, Morgan and Reid went to the library- the place Jayden Pearson was last seen before he went missing. While there, Reid’s phone had started ringing causing him to cringe at the loud noise and the librarian to shoot him a nasty glare. Morgan continued asking questions of the librarian while Reid found a quiet aisle to answer his phone. By the time Morgan got all the information they needed Reid was off the phone, but still tucked away in an empty corner, numbly running his fingers along the spines of the books nearest him.

“So,” he was afraid to ask and had a feeling he already knew the answer based on Spencer’s dejected demeanor.

Spencer wouldn’t meet his eyes when he said, “They had to sedate her today. She- she’s getting worse a- and I can’t fix it. I- I can’t s-stop it…”

Derek enveloped his Pretty Boy in a tight hug and after a moment Spencer slumped into him, his shoulders shuttering in practiced silent tears. “I can’t stop it,” he whispered and
Derek knew they weren’t talking about Diana anymore. “It’s alright Baby. You’re okay. You’re gonna be okay,” Derek whispered back. Suddenly Spencer pulled away with a look of terror in his eyes. “But what- what if I’m not? If I become paranoid and delusional and- and forgetful-, “He looked down at his converse shoes, unable to look Derek in the eyes. “I could forget you, t-the way she forgets me.” There was genuine fear and pain in his voice.

It hurt Derek to know Spencer was hurting so much. “Wishing it away won’t stop it from happening, and I’ve seen what it does,” Spencer said and Derek knew he was thinking of his childhood. How his father left when he got tired of dealing with it and with him. “We can’t stop it from happening, but if it did I would never do that to you Spencer. I would never walk away from you.” Derek ran his hands into Spencer’s hair and gently kissed his forehead. “I would spend all my life proving to you how much I love you.” And again he held his Pretty Boy tight to his chest until Spencer’s breathing returned to normal. “I love you too Derek,” he said quietly. ‘I’m just afraid I’ll forget that I do,’ he added silently.

They spent another few minutes in each other’s arms, whispering loving words before Spencer gathered himself enough to brave the crowd as they made their way out of the library, not knowing that these moments between them were not private, and that the man watching them as they left recognized these men to be FBI. Perhaps some of his stalking could be done online before actually following him. After all, it wouldn’t be hard to find him again. This time his suffering soul really was seeking him out. And when the time came, he would let this man find him, so he could set him free.

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Jayden couldn’t decide if he should struggle to get away or just hold still and avoid angering whoever it was that was doing this to him. He had seen the news. He knew this man was likely the killer that had brought the FBI to town. His hands and feet were taped together. His mouth and eyes had multiple bands of tape over them and from the feel of it, he also had something pulled over his head.

Stuck in his dilemma of fear as he was dragged and jerked clumsily out of the back of the car, he let out a whimper, heavy breaths through the nose, and muffled pleas with his captor. There was a chill in the air that made him shiver and he could hear the hushed murmur of traffic from somewhere. He was back in town he realized, as his captor yanked him along. That meant people! In a burst of hope Jayden began to buck against his captor’s hold and yell into the tape. ‘Someone had to hear! Anyone!’ He didn’t want to die! He just wanted to go home. ‘Please!’

“Oh just shut up,” the man spat and the shear tone of it silenced him. It was getting hot under the hood and Jayden felt it was getting harder to breathe. Hot tears collected against his eyes under the tape. ‘Please, please,’ he thought and whimpered again when the man dropped him harshly on the cold ground. It felt like concrete and he tried to focus hard of the feel of it instead of the hand he felt snaking around his neck. A frigid rush of cold hit his face and he gasped at the contrast from the heat of his trapped breaths moments ago. “I’m sorry I have to do this,” said the man and Jayden began to cry harder. “I know it’s hard. God knows I do, but I…” he took a few laboring breaths, “Don’t have a lot of time.
You’ll have to just make do. I’m sorry.”

Jayden’s frantic thoughts didn’t allow him to process the drastic change in attitude or the strangeness of his words or the fact that his captor’s heavy footsteps were retreating and that the new set of footsteps approaching were lighter, the voice kind and worried. All he processed was the hands that were suddenly on him and he panicked. He felt he tore his throat with his screams and pulled hard against the tape, causing his chafed wrists to bleed, but he didn’t care. He just didn’t want to die! ‘Please don’t let this be it!’ His breaths were getting harder. He needed more air! His brain felt fuzzy and light. He was fading. Can’t breathe! Can’t breathe. Can’t breathe….

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“We have a survivor,” said Hotch as he marched determinedly into the room full of boards pinned with maps, pictures, and names of victims and suspects.

“What,” Derek couldn’t keep the shock from his voice. The others gathered around Hotch as he moved to one of the boards, moving Jayden’s picture to reflect his new status.

“Jayden Pearson was dumped at Hopkins Hospital less than thirty minutes ago. A nurse was taking a smoke break and heard sounds of a struggle. She found him bound and got a glimpse of our Unsub. We all need get to the hospital now. Prentiss and I will interview the nurse, JJ and Rossi interview Jayden. Morgan and Reid process the parking lot he was dumped in. See if you can find any evidence the Unsub may have left.”

“Is Jayden okay,” JJ asked as she grabbed her jacket and jogged to catch up.

“He had a panic attack and passed out. He has several injuries, but none too severe now that he’s getting medical treatment,” Hotch said. “His doctor says he should be waking up any time now.”

“Why would the Unsub just dump his victim? After all the trouble he goes through to get to them,” Prentiss questioned as they split up between the SUVs.

“Something must have changed, “said Rossi. “Maybe our presence has spooked him.”

“He may have found a new victim,” said Hotch as they sped away from the precinct. “One that fits his criteria better.” That eased no one’s minds and they rode the rest of the way in silence.

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Jason couldn’t believe his luck. It only proved to him that this truly was his life’s mission from God. However much longer that time may be. He had done all the research he needed to do on this Doctor Spencer Reid and, after fighting another fit of sickness and weak limbs, concluded that he needed to proceed to the next step soon. He had decided it was time to kill Jayden when, looking at the bruises and blood of the boy, another thought occurred to him.

Drop a crumb for little Spencer to follow. He dumped Jayden at the hospital then waited somewhere hidden in the shadows where he could watch. He knew the agents would come, but he hadn’t expected the very person he sought to come straight to him. ‘He must sense it- that I can save him,’ Jason thought as he watched Spencer search the area; searching for signs of him, drawing ever closer. This poor man had seemed broken at the library. Well he was better at hiding his pain than most. The things he had been through…

The two agents circled around the dark space at the side of the hospital where Jayden was discovered. Morgan called Reid over when he came to where that concrete ended in a small dirt lot. “Obvious signs of a struggle,” he said as they walked. Reid nodded before stopping Morgan with a hand in the hook of his elbow. He nodded to a spot in the trees ahead and they both drew their guns when they saw the car parked there. It matched the description of the Unsub’s car. They approached cautiously. The adrenaline made them hypersensitive to the cold night air as well as every little sound around them, but as they drew nearer the car nothing seemed amiss. There was no one inside.

Morgan touched the hood of the car. “Still hot,” he said turning his gun on the surrounding trees. Reid did the same and Morgan suddenly became aware of how out of the way this spot was despite its close proximity to the hospital. A feeling of dread crept down his spine and he drew closer to Reid, keeping him in his sight. Reid sensed it too and couldn’t stop an involuntary shiver or the hairs on the back of his neck from rising.

“We need to-, “Morgan started quietly, but then a shot split the air. Suddenly Morgan was clutching at his chest and blood seeped wetly through his fingers. “Derek!” Spencer started to run to him before he remembered the shooter. Said shooter stepped into their view with his gun still raised. “Drop the weapon,” Spencer said but his thoughts were frantic with the sounds of Derek struggling for breath behind him. ‘Please don’t die! Please! We’re so close to help,’ he thought as his eyes flicked toward the hospital then back at the Unsub, who looked at him with- was that pity? Oh no. Realization hit him as though it too were a bullet. His hands on the gun were shaking and he doubted under the circumstances he could get a clean shot. He could hear Derek moan in pain and cough. Spencer wanted desperately to go to him, tell it would be okay. “P-put it down,” he said, and cursed his voice for shaking.

“I’m going to give you a choice Spencer,” the Unsub said and he paused at the use of his name. ‘Stalks his victims,’ he thought, and shivered again. “Either we can play this out, which will ultimately end in me shooting him- in the head this time,” Morgan must have pieced together what was happening because he began to protest, and gasp. The Unsub took a moment to search for the words. “Or, we can leave together peacefully and I’ll let you call to get him some help. They wouldn’t have far to come.”

Someone had to have heard the shot! Someone had to be coming. Please! The team-‘Busy with interviews.’ Hospital staff or bystanders- ‘Who would only be putting themselves in danger.’ His shoulders slumped and he knew what had to happen. He wanted to sob with the weight of it. But Derek was slipping fast. He lowered his gun and went quickly to Derek’s side. He knew the Unsub wouldn’t shoot him. He kissed Derek quickly on the lips and held their foreheads together, savoring this short moment with him.

Behind him the Unsub was taking away his and Derek’s guns. “P-please Spence… d-don’t,” Derek’s breaths were getting more and more labored and Spencer was alarmed by the amount of blood pooling on his chest and into the dirt. If he was going to get Derek help in time they needed to leave now. “I love you,” he said before kissing his forehead quickly, standing, and following the Unsub to his car. He could hear Derek behind him pleading with him, with the Unsub not to do this which erupted into coughs and gasps. Spencer couldn’t look at him as he got in the car, tears already falling when he felt something being pushed into his hand. His phone. When had the Unsub taken that? “Make the call,” he said and Spencer’s fingers shock as he hit Hotch’s speed dial number.

“Reid what did you find?”

“Hotch.” It came out as a sob more than anything. He tried to talk fast. “Derek’s been s-shot, i-in the chest. He’s in an abandoned dirt lot on the West s-side of the hospital. Please, send help. H-he needs help.”

“Reid where are you,” Hotch asked with a growing dread that he already knew the answer.

“I-I’m with t-the Unsub,” he whispered into the phone as the car pulled out of the lot and away from the hospital, away from his team, his family, away from Derek. Hotch began to say something else, but the Unsub suddenly snatched the phone away and threw it out his open window. Spencer cried quietly and tried not to think of Derek and the very real possibility that that kiss- that ‘I love you’ would be their last. They drove quickly until abruptly they pulled into a dark alley in the suburbs.

Spencer thought about yelling for help, running, but decided against it when he thought about the danger of the Unsub shooting anyone else that got in the way. He couldn’t risk getting anyone else hurt. His car door was thrown open and the Unsub pulled him roughly, if clumsily from the car before cuffing his hands behind his back, taping his feet together, taping his mouth shut, pulling a burlap hood over his head, and shoving him unceremoniously into the trunk of the car and taking off again to places unknown and horrors Spencer didn’t want to, but couldn’t help thinking of.

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Spencer listened to the sounds of traffic fade. The road became bumpier until he was practically being tossed in the tight space of the trunk. He kept is eyes closed so as to avoid the darkness he was in and thought of Derek. Was he okay? Did Hotch get him help in time? ‘Please be okay. Please.’ There had been so much blood and he couldn’t help but think of the wet gasps and the pleading when he walked away. Derek didn’t plead with an Unsub, not like that, not ever. Didn’t he realize he was covered in blood- his own blood? He should have been worried for himself and yet there he’d been pleading for Spencer’s life, as if his own didn’t matter. Then he realized that was exactly how he had felt leaving Derek there. If Spencer died at this Unsub’s hands, but Derek lived because of it, then it would be worth it.

Just when the road was getting especially rough, they stopped and he heard the engine shut off. The quiet that followed sent a new wave of fear though him. The car shifted as the
Unsub’s weight left, the door slammed and suddenly cold air rushed in on him as the trunk was opened and he was dragged out. Spencer could smell wet wood and could hear nothing but the sounds of the quiet night and the shuffling of his own feet as he tried to stay upright. He was dragged up a short set of stairs, through what he assumed was a cabin, and down another, steeper set of stairs where the air was stifling, still, and cold. That cold seeped deep into his bones. His teeth would be chattering if his mouth wasn’t taped shut.

The cuff on his left hand was released and before he could react, he was spun around into a sturdy wooden chair and heavy leather straps were secured around his wrists, tying them to the arms of the chair. He felt the tape being unwound from his legs and on instinct kicked out. His foot caught something hard with a thunk and an answering grunt and cussing. His ankles were grabbed roughly and secured much the same as his wrists. Spencer was breathing hard through the nose and winced when the hood was ripped away. He blinked in the harsh artificial light and looked up at the Unsub whose lip was split and bleeding. He looked angry.

He didn’t even see the first blow coming. The Unsub had one hand on his shoulder, keeping him still and the other repeatedly connected with his face. Again and again and again. When he finally stopped, both breathing heavy, Spencer knew his head was bleeding and he momentarily worried about having a concussion. The tape was ripped from his mouth and he gulped in pained breaths.

“Why would you do that you little shit! I’m trying to help you,” the Unsub yelled, touching his bleeding lip.

“I didn’t mean- I wasn’t- I-,” The Unsub backhanded him hard. He bit his lip in the blow and blood dripped from his lips.

“You came to me! You could show a little gratitude! None of you get that I’m just helping!”

‘You’re not helping anyone! You’re killing them!’ These were the words he wanted to yell back, but he took a breath and said instead, “Y-you’re right. I’m sorry. This is just a bit… unexpected.”

This seemed to be the right thing to say because the Unsub’s anger seemed to simmer away. He watched Spencer shift in the chair and look up at him. He almost seemed to fall into a trance as he watched those eyes. ‘He has the eyes of a child,’ he thought. ‘Expressive and innocent, despite everything.’

“I’ve never seen someone like you,” he said, pulling up a chair facing him. Spencer gulped. He couldn’t find a response to that.

“With a life like yours, it’s no wonder you came to me.” Spencer wanted to yell at this man. ‘You don’t get to decide that it’s too much! You don’t know me!’ As if sensing his thoughts the Unsub said, “You’d be surprised at how much you can learn about someone by accessing their medical records. And how easy it is to do it. Especially in a system I’m already so familiar with.”

“You were a doctor,” Spencer realized aloud. “That’s how you’re finding your v- patients.”

“At first, yes. The patients that came to me to be fixed- I could heal their wounds but not their hearts. Those just kept bleeding.”

“At first,” he asked. ‘Keep him talking. Keep him distracted.’

“Well after a while I began to see the pain there in their eyes, everywhere I went. All I needed to do was research them to find the ones who really needed me.”

“What about Henry? He was just a kid,” Spencer spat before he thought better of it.

The man’s eyes grew distant and sad. “You’re right. He was so young. Too young to face the torture his parents inflicted. Again and again he was brought to me with pain no child should face, and I was expected to mend him, and let him leave with the same damn monsters that did it to him to begin with. They would beat him, degrade him, and they would starve him. Lock him in the dark…”

Spencer must have flinched at that because the man turned to him. “Sound familiar?”

“What,” he hated the waver in his voice.

“Spencer Matthew Reid, son of William and Diana Reid; an abusive father and mother too sick to realize what her son was going through. And the ultimate torture: you now face that same sickness and…,” he struggled to find the words, “it scares the Hell out of you,” he finished.

Spencer stuttered for an answer, but couldn’t put conviction in his voice so he resorted to lowering his eyes to his lap and willing away tears. He didn’t like thinking about his childhood, or the fact that his future seemed just as doomed.

“What I found even more intriguing is that your medical records explicitly state ‘No Narcotics’.” Spencer’s head shot up and betrayed his renewed fear. “There’s a story there,” the man frowned.

“N-no I- I’m allergic, my heart-“

“No you’re not,” He said as he drew closer and though Spencer squirmed to try to stop him, the man caught his arm and pulled his sleeve up to expose the soft skin in the crook of his arm where evidence of his past addiction was clearly visible.

“Allergic indeed,” the man said then crouched before Spencer, as a father would before his young son during a serious talk. He could see the shame and pain in the boy’s eyes; such expressive eyes. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he whispered while Spencer shrank away from his intense gaze. “People can only take so much pain before they break.”

“I am not broken,” he said meeting the man’s gaze then decided to direct the focus back on the Unsub. “How long do you have,” Spencer asked and the question must have come as a surprise. The man’s demeanor shifted.

“Why would you ask something like that,” he asked, straightening up and glaring down at Spencer. ‘He answered a question with a question,’ Spencer thought.

“A doctor wouldn’t have time to do any of this. Not if they were working. And the way you’ve been killing suggests a deadline.” ’Quite literally in this case,’ he thought. “We suspected some type of illness that would either get you fired or force you to quit.”

From the angry look the Unsub gave him, he was right on the money. Then the Unsub said something unexpected. “She left me.”

“I- what?”

There was that too- intense gaze again and Spencer willed himself to meet it with a glare of his own.

“My wife,” he spat as he sat heavily in the chair across from Reid again. “When- When she found out, about my illness, how much t-time I had left… I thought she would want to cherish that time we had left together. But she d-didn’t. She left me.”
Spencer hated himself for thinking about how he feared that Derek would do the same if he displayed signs of schizophrenia. ‘I’ve seen what it does,’ he had said. He didn’t know that it had been this very conversation that had led the Unsub to choose him. He had seen what it did too. He had lived it. That was one hell of stressor.

“I’m sorry,” Spencer said and he realized that, were the circumstances different- had the man before him not been a killer, and had he not shot Derek- ‘please be okay’- he would have meant it. He knew that such a deep betrayal would have been painful. It had probably hurt far more than finding out about his illness. “What is it,” he asked.

He froze when those dark blue eyes found him again. “Cancer,” he said finally. “Brain tumor.”

‘That explains a lot,’ Spencer thought. ‘Certainly the worsening delusion that he’s helped these people- that he’s helping me.’ It also explains the headache Spencer knew he was having. He knew what that looked like too.

“I know you just want to help,” he ventured, “If…If you let me go,” he could already see that these words would change nothing. “Please, the man you s-shot, and m-my mom, they need me. I’m not broken. I’m not suffering. Just please.”

The Unsub was on his feet again, approaching him slowly. “People always say that. They try to hide from it and say they’re okay, but they’re not.”

“No, that’s not-,” the punch landed on his chest this time and he couldn’t move his hands to block it. Then his face and then his stomach and then his ribs. He was yelling now for him to stop. Please stop! He felt the snap in his side and knew his rib was broken. That didn’t stop him though and he continued to use Spencer as a human punching bag. By the time he did stop his own knuckles were cut open and bleeding. Spencer was gasping for air. He was bloody, bruised, and had to have a broken rib or two. His tangled curls fell into his face as he attempted to curl in on himself. He leaned forward a bit unsteadily and straightened Spencer’s sweater vest and Spencer flinched away from those hands a whimper on his bloody lips.

“Those who say they’re not suffering are the ones who suffer the most,” he whispered trying to catch the boy’s eyes, but he kept them firmly shut, breathing hard. He straightened up again and started sluggishly up the stairs. “I have a short errand to run.” He said. “I’ll be back soon. When I return, you’ll be okay. I’ll make it okay.” When he reached the top of the stairs, he turned to face Spencer, his eyes taking a moment to adjust. He was so relieved. He had found the perfect one. The last one. Those expressive eyes finally looked up at him and there it was. The pain. The suffering. He would end that soon. He flipped the switch in the wall and the room went dark, but for the sliver of light coming through the open door. Spencer gasped. “No, please don’t! Please!” The Unsub, now just a silhouette, just backed away closing the door and taking the little remaining light with it.

Chapter Text

It took him longer than expected to do his errand. His mind was muddled with thoughts he couldn’t quite connect. His stomach turned violently, emptying its contents on the side of the road on the way back to the cabin. By the time he was finally making his way along the bumpy road, the sun had been up for some time and the light was splitting his aching head. This would be over soon. Then he too, could rest. He couldn’t admit it aloud and really the thoughts were too scattered in his mind to admit it to himself privately, but he was afraid.

His sickness had come so suddenly with what started as simple, but progressively worsening headaches and led into a seizure he had in the middle of the OR. Tests were run and the prognosis was bleak. He left work, knowing that his condition was only a hazard to his patients and that next time he would end up killing someone with the scalpel in his hand. He had planned to take himself and his wife up to the cabin to break the news to her, and to spend the last of his life with her, surrounded by nature. He had always loved nature. And he had always loved her. He knew it would hurt her. He knew she would need time. But he hadn’t known that she would reject him.

He knew it was only because she was afraid- that she didn’t want to see him die. So daunting and inescapable was the thought that she thought it easier to walk away. Easier for her. He was devastated and begged her not to leave him. ‘Please don’t go! Please don’t do this,’ he had tried to follow as she left, but his body betrayed him. His legs were weak and he slumped against the wall. It was a horrible memory of helplessness and fear that he would never see her again-that he would face it alone.

And then he got to see it again after shooting that other agent and taking Spencer. He had been shouting those very words to Spencer and to him. It might have made him pause and rethink if it hadn’t made him so angry at reliving that awful memory. It would not have stopped him, but he would have paused, and felt pity for the helplessness he knew the bleeding man was feeling.

When Spencer left, and was at peace then he planned to take himself into the quiet woods and beat the cancer to the punch. It was the last bit of control he still had.

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The light that came when the door above opened suddenly was startling and the florescent light that followed made Spencer wince. He had been escaping the dark and the quiet by distracting himself with some of his best memories. His mother reading to him or pushing him on the swing. Playing chess with Gideon. Colorful Garcia doting over him, the kitchen filled with laughter as Rossi taught them how to cook Italiano. Hotch giving him a rare smile and unheard of fist bump. JJ naming him Henry’s Godfather. The mixed emotions of dancing with Prentiss at JJ’s wedding or going to watch the movies showing in other languages. Derek’s wide smile and teasing jabs. His gentle touch, his kisses, his love. There had been so many things Spencer thought about and despite the darkness and pain he was in, he found himself sinking into those happy moments. Until the light came flooding in and he was back in this cold, grey room watching the Unsub slowing make his way down the stairs. His blue eyes were glazed with sadness and he looked like he had or soon would be ill on the floor.

He turned away from Spencer in the corner and he tried to see what the man was hiding there. But he turned back to Spencer with a look of determination that Spencer had not seen on anyone’s face but Hotch. On Hotch he need only fear it if he was the Unsub, but on this man, directed at him, he was afraid.

“It’s almost time Spencer,” he said and his voice shock. He almost wished he could take this boy with him into the woods. They could die together, but he knew if Spencer got the chance he would run. They always ran, and hid, and pretended. No more pretending.
Spencer didn’t know what else to say that would get through to this man. He took a shot in the dark. “I know you’re afraid. It’s a natural response to the things you’re been through, b-but that doesn’t justify what you’re doing.”

The man came closer on unsteady feet and caught himself on the arms of the car. This close Spencer could certainly tell that the man had already been sick.

“It’s not fair,” he whispered mere inches from Spencer’s face. “I was a good man. A good husband. I didn’t deserve any of this!”

“Neither did the people you killed,” Spencer said softly. “I don’t deserve this.” The man hovered close to him, his eyes hyper-focused, as though it took extra effort to do so. “Y-you don’t have to be alone. I would stay with you until- until y-you go,” he whispered. He could think of nothing else to say to stop all this so he waited. They stayed there for some time. Spencer, hoping that something he said would make a difference, and the man searching Spencer’s eyes.

“You’re a strong man Spencer,” he said finally pushing away from him. “But you don’t have to be strong for me. I’m not worth the energy. Not anymore.” Sensing where this line of thought was going, Spencer felt his resolve crumble.

The Unsub approached him, this time with his hands full. Spencer recognized those items and felt waves of dread and fear overwhelm him. He was so focused on the syringe, tourniquet, and vial of seemingly innocent looking liquid that he nearly missed the equally innocent looking strip of stationary placed in his lap. He looked down at it and his throat tightened. ‘Close Your Pained Eyes and You Will See God,’ it read.

“No, no wait,” he was desperate now to think of anything to stall. “You returned them all! W-when you k-f-freed the others, you took them back to their lives. You don’t know how fast t-that’ll work. Y-you should wait. Take me back first!” He hadn’t expected it to work and of course it didn’t.

“My body is getting too weak. I know you would try to run,” he looked sick. “I wouldn’t be able to stop you.”
Spencer let out a frustrated yell as he pulling at the restraints, feeling his joints, broken ribs, and sensitive skin protest. The Unsub pulled a small medical table close where he laid out his tools.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get your drug of choice,” he took a sluggish breath, “But I decided this would stop the pain a little more permanently.” He prepared the syringe with once practiced, but now clumsy hands.

“Please don’t,” his voice was weak in his own ears. He couldn’t stop his mind from traveling back to Tobias. “Please, I don’t want this.”

“Shhh, it’s okay,” his body was feeling weak too but he came alongside Spencer and tied the tourniquet around his arm, pulling it tight. Spencer didn’t have the energy to protest anymore. It didn’t stop Tobias and it wasn’t stopping this man. He felt tears slip down his bruised cheeks when he thought about his team- that they would find his body like this.

They would know he died with a needle in his arm and though he knew they wouldn’t blame him for it, he was still overwhelmed with shame.

The man waited a while for the numbness and muscle weakness in his own arm to wane then pushed the needle through the soft skin. Spencer whimpered. The room suddenly erupted in sound. “FBI!” Those blessed letters. It’s all Spencer wanted to hear since getting here. He thought he would never hear it again, but there before him was Hotch, gun raised, making his way down the stairs followed by the rest of his team, minus Derek. Spencer sobbed at the sight, but gasped when the Unsub shakily pushed the plunger anyway. There was shouting, a struggle, and the Unsub, syringe still in hand, was pulled away from him.

“Jason Harris, you’re under arrest for-,”

“It doesn’t matter,” the Unsub, Jason, shouted. “He will soon see God! He’ll be dead in minutes!”

And Spencer could feel it. Even as he was freed from the bounds and laid on the floor he could feel a painful pounding in his chest and excruciating agony pulsing through every muscle. He could feel his jaw lock at the overwhelming pain. Saliva collected rapidly in his throat, but he couldn’t seem to swallow. His panicked eyes locked with Prentiss as she loomed fearfully over him, calling for medics. She could see his distress just as she could see his muscles suddenly twitch and relax. Then he stopped breathing.

She turned him on his side and pried his jaw open to clear his mouth of any blockage and he took a small breath, though it was slow and weak, before it stopped again. She was about to start CPR when the paramedics came rushing in and she let them take over. She stood out of the way and watched fearfully as they strapped him to a gurney and carried him up the stairs.

As the rush of activity went up the stairs, the team members remaining in the room- Prentiss, JJ, and Rossi- were stunned into stillness for a moment. The quiet as they gazed around the room was stifling and it snapped them out of their daze and they too rushed up the stairs. They couldn’t believe it: after frantically hunting down the Unsub to take him down and save Spencer, they had the Unsub in custody. And they could still lose Spencer.

Chapter Text

The team waited anxiously for news during which time the doctors had come to ask Hotch permission to perform a risky procedure. Normally such a question would be directed to Derek, but… he had granted it and the doctor had rushed away. They were allowed a private room to wait, for which they were grateful, but it didn’t quell the palpable tension in the room.

Prentiss had been trying to figure out what was wrong- well she knew what was wrong- but there had been something off about what happened in that basement. She couldn’t quite identify it though. Rossi had expressed concern and she told him as much. He had attributed it to the haze of panic they were all in at seeing Spencer like that. But she knew that wasn’t it. She replayed it again and again in her mind’s eye until she realized with a jolt, “He was lucid.”

Everyone in the room turned toward her, confused. She looked to Rossi. “I thought he would have lost consciousness when he stopped breathing, but he didn’t. He was awake. He knew exactly what was happening… He was scared.”

That last comment settled heavily on everyone and Prentiss regretted having said anything. They were all wrapped up in their own thoughts and they all refused to acknowledge aloud that this ordeal struck a horrifying resemblance to that terrifying case in Georgia. The tension and worry was so strong in the room that they startled the doctor when she finally came in by the mere rush of people to stand and crowd around her.

“He’s alive, “she said and everyone nearly fell over with relief. “However his condition is still cause for concern. He’s stable for now, but unconscious. He’s incredibly lucky to have the paramedics get to him when they did. They were able to stave off the full effects of the drug until they got him here. He’s still having some muscle problems. At the moment, he is unable to breath on his own, so he’s on a ventilator. That should be temporary, but he will need monitoring. The drug he was given was a powerful muscle relaxant. The ventilator takes care of his breathing, but his heart is still a concern. He was also given a blood transfusion to replace all that he lost and his broken ribs were set and wrapped. He also went a short time without oxygen reaching his brain. We can’t know until he wakes, but there is a possibility of brain damage.”

“Can we see him,” JJ asked, feeling a bit like they were experiencing emotional whiplash. Fear for his being in the hands of a killer, relief for finding him, fear for his life from the drugs, relief that he was alive, fear that his heart may still stop- that his mind may not be intact...

“Because he’s not completely out of the woods yet, I can’t allow more than one visitor at a time and only for a short period of time. If he wakes up I ask that you notify staff immediately,” she said before telling them what room to find him in and making an exit.
Over the following days, they took turns visiting him, talking to him; JJ was currently reading to him, a random book one of the police officers had brought them. The language was complex and she had no idea what it was about, but she suspected Spencer would like it. She had paused in her reading when she thought she saw him move. Setting the book aside, she leaned over him.

“Spence? Come on wake up,” and she was rewarded when he began to slowly open his eyes. And then he panicked.

Spencer was feeling fuzzy and heavy when he became distantly aware of a voice somewhere close to him. He thought for a moment that it was his mother reading to him, until he
opened his eyes and saw JJ’s halo of gold hair and kind eyes. He tried to sigh in relief that came with her mere presence, but found he couldn’t. There was something in the way.
His breathing felt wrong. He felt himself exhale when he tried to inhale. The feeling stuttered his heart and terror shot through him.

“You have to let to the tube breath for you Spence! You have to relax,” JJ was saying, but he couldn’t focus enough to decipher her words. The heart monitor was rushing to match his anxiety and she was shouting for a doctor who rushed in and had JJ step back while she worked. “Dr. Reid, do you want the tube out,” the doctor asked. He nodded frantically and she set about getting it out. When she pulled it carefully out of his throat he gasped and coughed and the doctor let JJ through to try to calm him.

“Shhh, it’s okay Spence, you’re in the hospital. They got you here in time. You’re okay,” she said softly while stroking his tangled hair away from his badly bruised face. “It’s okay, you’re okay,” she whispered. The words had the desired effect and he relaxed into her touch, his breathing calming. She was relieved until she saw tears streaming down his face. She began to reassure him again, but his raspy voice stopped her.

“Der-Derek-,” he coughed.

“Spence he’s fine. He’s here. Still recovering, but he’s going to be fine. He woke up yesterday and I’m told he’s now threatening hospital staff if they don’t bring him up here soon.” A tiny smile graced Spencer’s chapped lips at that and seeing it made her smile. “He’s going to be so happy that you’re awake,” she went on. The doctor went to the other side of the bed to ask Spencer questions and run tests to gauge his brain function, but she said that it looked promising that he had escaped major brain damage. He might have a little memory loss at the most, but JJ didn’t think he would mind that. After she finished the tests, the doctor left JJ to look after him. She petted him gently and told him how they figured out where time find him, and how much trouble both he and Derek were in with Garcia for getting themselves in such danger. “She’s been like an angry bull in a china boutique trying to find you. We’re all a little afraid of her at the moment. I’ll have to call her when I leave to tell her you’re going to be okay.”

Spencer smiled. His whole body pulsed with aches and pain, but they had respected his wishes and gave him nothing stronger than morphine and nothing narcotic. He was grateful, but his head was pounding badly. JJ pulled the curtains over the window to dim the brightness of the room and he croaked a thank you. She smiled sadly at him and tried to look past the painful looking bruises that made him look as though he was wearing a partial mask covering all but a quarter of his face. She couldn’t tell if his eyes were tired or swollen until she heard his quiet voice, “If I fall asleep, will you stay with me?”

“Of course, Spence.”

“Will you read to me?”

She nodded and resumed reading until she saw his eyes flutter shut and his breathing slow. She worried for a moment, watching his chest rise and fall, making sure that it kept doing so before she continued reading in hushed tones.

When Spencer woke again JJ was on the other side of his bed slumped in the chair with the book lying against her stomach. It didn’t look very comfortable, but she was asleep.

“There’s my Pretty Boy,” he heard from his left. He turned his head and wanted to cry out with the relief at seeing Derek in a bed pushed close to his. He looked tired and had thick bands of gauze around his chest, but he was right there and was okay. “Don’t you ever do something like that again Spencer, you hear me,” his voice betrayed his worry.

Spencer ignored his words and said what he thought he would never say to Derek again. “I love you,” his voice was quiet and strained with pain, but he said it again. “I love you so much.”

Derek reached his hand out across the space between them and Spencer sluggishly took it. “I love you too Spencer. So so much. I’m so sorry I let him take you.”

“You were shot,” said Spencer looking confused.

“I was so afraid when you kissed me Spencer. I thought it was the last time I’d ever see you and I couldn’t stop it.”

“I know. I did too,” he felt Derek hold his hand tighter and he suddenly wished they were able to kiss and cuddle the way they had in the hotel before all of this happened.

Derek must have had the same thought because he said, “Damn when we’re out of here and strong enough I am so making love to you Pretty Boy. And we are taking that vacation time!”

“Then it’s a date,” he said with a smile.

Chapter Text

*Back in Quantico*

It was both Derek and Spencer’s first day back to the BAU. Both were still a little sore and the worst of Spencer’s bruises were still slightly visible. Derek had spent quite some time kissing every inch of his Pretty Boy, “To make it all better.”

They each took vacation time during which they took turns caring for each other. They had waited a while for Spencer’s bruises to start to fade so as not to scare Diana before they stayed in Vegas for a week. When they visited Spencer’s mom, they had caught Diana on a fairly good day. She took one look at the bruises her son was sporting and proceeded to scold the facility staff, telling them that she knew someone had taken Spencer. A mother knows. They told her about their relationship and she had seemed happy for them, but before their visit came to a close she pulled Derek aside and told him that if he didn’t treat Spencer right she would know and she would not be pleased. He assured her that he had only the best and most genuine intensions and she seemed to approve.

They spent the rest of the time there at a fancy, and somewhat extensive hotel. Normally Derek would have urged for them to explore what nighttime on the Vegas strip had to offer, but he knew Spencer would be even less persuadable than usual, being self-conscious of his bruised face. So they lounged instead, taking full advantage of the room’s lavish spa style tub and of the room service.

But by now they were both eager to return to the BAU. Spencer was especially antsy. Derek worried that if they stayed home any longer, Spencer might start organizing the cereals by wheat content. The team was glad to have the two back. Things had been a bit difficult working cases two agents short. Their entrance to the office was met with happy faces, hugs, and lots of ‘welcome backs’. Garcia had made them cookies. JJ had their coffees made for them and Hotch came by with an expression that might have been a smile if you squinted and a pat on the shoulder for both. “Glad to have you two back,” he said. Garcia demanded to know all of the naughty details of the Vegas trip. “Come on, there is no way you spent the whole week in such a shmancy hotel and not do a little lovin!” They were all enjoying the reunion; until Garcia received an email forwarded to her sparkly pink cellphone and frowned. “No we can’t have a case! I was really hoping you’d have it easy for your first day back,” she said looking over the crime scene pictures that were attached and they began to make their way to the conference room.

“Nah,” said Morgan. “I think we’ve done enough relaxing. I don’t mind jumping right back into work.”

“Psshhh, relaxing. Yeah right,” she said grinning back at Spencer, who was talking animatedly with Rossi about the expensive wine they had in Vegas.

They took their seats and closed the door. “Because the images I have to show for this case are gory and sad,” Garcia said moving to stand by the screen, “I thought I’d start us off with something a little more adorable, so ladies and gents, crime fighters of all ages, I give you this gorgeous masterpiece by none other than our very own Jennifer Jareau,” she pressed a button on her remote and the big screen changed to a picture of Garcia’s Boy Genius and Chocolate Adonis in their own respective hospital beds, both asleep, and holding hands. “I’m calling it ‘Love Doctor,’” she grinned at Spencer, whose face was doing a repeat show from the cupcake incident. Derek wrapped an arm over Spencer’s shoulder and gave him a quick smooch on the cheek while everyone smiled and laughed as Spencer blushed more.

As the team moved on to review the case Spencer couldn’t help but smile. Yes he had been through some horrible things, and some of them still haunted him. He may have felt alone at certain points in his life, but not anymore. There were still so many good things to appreciate in life. And six of the greatest were seated around him.