Affliction

Title: Affliction
Series: Here There Be Dragons
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 4, Amplification
Category: AU: Fantasy, Magic is Known, Pre-Slash,
Ratings: Teen
Pairings: Hotch/Reid,
Spoilers: Up through Season 4
Summary: When the threat is Anthrax, Hotch figured his entire team was safe. Turns out they are not.
Words: 5,208
Notes: None
Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence,
Beta: Charlie_Remington

Series Page

There were days that Hotch hated working for the Council. Generally, the Council would wait for him to go home or would at least call. The East Coast Council would always wait for him. The West Coast Council, not so much. When he opened the door to his hotel room after spending the day finding a serial arsonist, he wasn’t expecting to find two men sitting on his bed. It was dark and the only light in the room came from outside, but he could see well enough to know that it was two men. He immediately scanned the room for Reed. He’d dropped the dragon off several hours before.

“Judge Hotchner, we would appreciate it if you had your pet release us,” one of the men stated.

Hotch reached out and flicked the lights on. The men were sitting on the bed just as he thought, but they were bound with rope. One of two men was even gagged. Neither looked very happy. He could tell they were both magic users by the tattoos on their necks. He knew the family they belonged to and they were idiots. Reed was on the floor in front of them, staring intently at the gagged man.

“You entered my hotel room without permission, probably broke in using magic, Reed is more than within his rights to have killed you. I am a Gods damned Federal Agent and you broke into my room. I have a cell phone and I answer it. Yet there are no calls from the Council so you have two minutes to speak before I let Reed do whatever he wants to you.”

The ungagged man started to speak, talking about a man who was using his magic to rape women. His mind was blocked to telepathy and no one had been able to crack him. He had raped thirteen women over the course of two months, and all of them had been magical, which was why the humans were not involved.

“I have paperwork to do tomorrow before we fly out. We finished up the case, but we have a few loose ends to tie up. I can delay the jet by a few hours at max. You’ll need to bring him here. I don’t have the inclination to pander to the request of the Council when they don’t have the time to ask in a proper way.”

Hotch waved his hand and the ropes disappeared but the gag didn’t. Both men took off like lightning out the door, slamming it shut behind them. Neither man had gotten within three feet of Reed.

“What did you do?” Hotch wasn’t upset, he just needed to know what happened to them so that when the Council yelled at him he could counter.

“I was asleep on your sweats in the corner when I heard the picking of the lock. I scrambled under the bed. Gagged man walked in first.” Reed was still on the floor, looking around the room.

“He was already gagged?” Hotch asked. He wanted to know why someone would gag themselves like that man had been before breaking into a room.

“No. I didn’t take the time to get their names. So gagged man and ungagged man. It’s either that or pissed pants man and unpissed pants man.”

Hotch pinched the bridge of his nose. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the rest of the story but he needed to. A knock sounded at the door and he sighed as he moved to open it. Dave and Morgan were standing there.

“I just watched two Council lackeys take off running out of the hotel.” Dave peaked around him and his whole body relaxed when he saw Reed on the floor, seemingly fine. Morgan had a coffee carrier in his hand, all four slots of it full. Hotch stepped back to allow them both to enter. Reed jumped from the floor up onto the bed. Hotch let himself drop onto the bed, relaxing back. Dave took the chair from the desk, and Morgan sat at the end of the bed. Reed crawled onto his leg and stretched down it, his tail curling around Hotch’s wrist as Hotch laid it on his back.

“Those two men broke into my hotel room. I was just getting the story from Reed when you knocked.”

Instead of answering, Morgan handed out the drinks, popping off the top of one and handing it to Hotch. The older man slid the hot drink in between his knees so that Reed could get a drink if he wanted. It smelled of sugar and chocolate.

“I hid under the bed because there wasn’t a good place for me to hide above that wasn’t in direct line of sight, and we all know that no one looks up unless they have to. So I went for the next best and that was under the bed. Both of them looked around and then ungagged man sat down on the bed. From their words, they were looking to find me alone.”

Hotch stiffened. Reed rubbed his face on his knee, silently asking him to calm down.

“They wanted to try and figure me out without you around. I waited. Gagged man reached out with his magic and tried to figure out where I was hiding because they had watched you drop me off. I wasn’t quick enough and gagged man dropped to the floor and tried to reach under the bed.”

“I bet that didn’t go well,” Dave muttered. Reed only laughed before taking a few long sips of the coffee.

“I lashed out and the bolt barely missed him, he has slower reflexes than you Rossi. Anyway ungagged man pulled in magic, trying to trap me but that didn’t work. I don’t know why the Council would send two men so stupid after a fucking dragon.”

The curse word that slipped from Reed’s mouth had Hotch on edge. Reed was more shaken than he thought.

“Gagged man started to stutter some kind of verbal spell and I gagged him. It’s not going to come off by the way. You might be able to take it off but the Council won’t be able to. I ran out the other side of the bed and then took the the air, landing on the curtain rod. Both men looked up at me and then I spread my wings out as far as they would go and shot lightning and fire at them. Ungagged man pissed his pants. I bound them with conjured ropes and forced them to sit and we waited. Two hours.”

“Well that settles something that Alan wanted me to do weeks ago. When you are in areas of control for the West Coast Council, you aren’t to be alone. Someone will take you with them if you can’t go with me.”

Reed nodded, not looking back at him. He dipped his head into the cup, drinking the coffee in long pulls until the cup was empty. The dragon wasn’t going to get a lick of sleep. He’d have to set up the computer or something to keep him entertained. He hadn’t brought any books with him. Hotch needed sleep, especially since he was going to need a calm head to deal with all he had to do the next day. He just wanted to go home but he had to see about getting a confession from a rapist and alerting Alan to what had happened.

“Someone on the team can keep you company tomorrow morning. Maybe JJ will take you to a bookstore or something.”

Reed moved off his legs and settled on the pillow at the head of the bed. He curled into a tight ball and was seemingly asleep in seconds. That was a little shocking. Morgan and Dave slipped out the door with a serious look on their faces. Reed wasn’t going to be able to slip away from the team tomorrow.

One Week Later
Hotch stared at the closed glass door. Morgan was behind him pacing but there was nothing to be done. Morgan had been on the phone with him when he’d called out Reed’s name. Hotch had listened with his heart in his throat as Morgan yelled for his dragon. Morgan’s only words after that were that Hotch needed to get there as soon as possible. He had arrived at the house at the same time that Hazmat had arrived. He found Morgan standing at a glass sliding door with Reed on the other side.

Reed was sitting on a stool, looking anywhere but at Hotch. Nichols’ dead body was laying on the floor, blood everywhere. The vials with white powder were all over the floor.

“It’s magical in nature. Hazmat isn’t going to be able to help. We need magic wielders to trace this and trace the man who spread it. I can feel his magical signature. We get this all cleaned up and we can catch him.”

Glaring at his dragon, Hotch watched him. Reed was nervous about something, he just couldn’t tell what.

“Magical anthrax?” Hotch asked. He’d never heard of it. Anthrax was nature made and human modified. Magic wielders had access to other forms of weapons of mass destruction. Other forms that were better, quicker, and harder to fix. His spell allowing his voice to carry through the glass into Reed and the dragon’s words back was holding strong, for now. When the cleanup crew got there and ripped the magic from the area, it wouldn’t hold.

“What’s been released before this has been modified to go after everyone. The magical ones have died first with the humans only dying when help isn’t found. This strain though goes after only magicals.”

“I have to get a hold of the correct people to deal with this, Reed. You try and see what you can see inside the room until it’s time to bring you out of there. As soon as it’s clear, you are coming out.”

Reed didn’t answer, and he still hadn’t looked at Hotch. He tried to reach over the bond, but he was hiding again. He’d deal with that after they found whoever killed Nichols. There was no way that Reed was affected by Anthrax.

When the lab was cleared two hours later, Reed came right out and settled on Hotch’s shoulder. He’d spent enough time around the Anthrax that he would be able to trace the magic to wherever the user was. The clean up crew still had work to do, but Reed was deemed safe to leave and not infect anyone.

The trace led them to the subway and Chad Brown. Morgan got the civilians out, and Hotch kept Brown from dropping the Anthrax. Brown couldn’t keep his eyes off Reed though. The dragon’s reaction to him was instant. He jumped from Hotch’s shoulder and landed just a few feet away. As soon as Brown’s eyes focused on Reed, his hand’s grip on the bag loosened and it was all Hotch needed. He jerked his hand forward and grabbed the bag, containing the poison inside with a burst of his magic, a containment spell. Others moved and grabbed Brown before he could do a thing.

Crisis averted, now it was just time for clean up.

XxXxXxX

Cases that took place near home were almost always the worst. It meant being close to home but not being able to be there so when Hotch entered his house for the first time since he’d got the call, he sighed in relief. He dropped his bag on the floor, not caring if it stayed there till morning. Reed was still wrapped around his neck and it had him a little worried. The dragon hadn’t spent that much time wrapped around his neck since he’d gotten used to be around people.

All Hotch wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for days. The case from start to finish hadn’t been that long but it had been stressful, before Reed had got himself into a room full of Anthrax. As soon as he hit his bedroom door, Reed stirred from his light slumber.

“Home?”

“Yes. Let’s get you on the bed. I think you are more tired than I am.” Hotch pulled his dragon from his shoulder. Reed felt like he might be running a fever but he pushed that thought from his mind. It was probably just the warmth from Hotch’s neck. Reed relaxed as soon as his body hit the pillow.

Hotch showered and dressed for sleep before he double checked all the locks on the house. When he made it back to the bedroom, he noticed that Reed hadn’t moved at all. Worried, Hotch touched the dragon’s side. He was barely breathing.

“Reed?” The dragon didn’t stir. There was no reaction at all. He grabbed his phone from the nightstand and dialed. Garcia picked up on the third ring.

“Hotch?”

“Garcia, I need you here at the house as soon as possible.”

“Bossman, what’s wrong?”

“I think Reed is sick.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Garcia hung up without even saying goodbye. Hotch didn’t dwell on that though. Reed was burning up now. He scooped up the dragon and made his way to the bathroom. He turned the water in the bathtub on full force and as cold as it would go. As he waited for it to fill up, he made sure that Garcia would be able to get into the house by unlocking the front door.

Reed finally reacted when Hotch lowered him into the water. Bright blue eyes opened and then closed again. No words and no other movement. He fully lowered the dragon into the water and kept a close eye. Reed floated naturally but he was worried. He kept one hand under Reed’s head and used his other to drop water all over the parts of his body there weren’t in the water. When the water was warm, Hotch let his hand still in the water and pushed with his magic, He pulled all heat out of the water, stilled the molecules. Blue eyes opened again.

“Sorry,” Reed mumbled.

“Shhh. Just rest.” Eyes closed again and Hotch reached out with his hand grabbing a towel. It was draped over one side of the tub and a quick spell had one side sticking. He draped the other end of the towel over the other side of the tub, letting it sink into the water to where it would hold Reed up. He arranged Reed to where his head was angled up on the towel and the bulk of his body was in the water.

The sound of his doorbell drew him from the bathroom. He wasn’t shocked to find more than just Garcia there on his porch. Morgan and Prentiss were behind her.

“I think the Anthrax infected him but I can’t be sure. He was so dead set that it wouldn’t bother him.”

“I can’t heal him if it’s Anthrax, Hotch. I don’t know anything about that.”

“No, but you can help the symptoms while I get a hold of the Council and figure this out. Alan is in town and I am going to his house to speak with him. I’ll be back as soon as I can. I have him in the master bath trying to keep him cool. He’s burning up.”

“Go, Hotch. We’ll take care of him.” Morgan’s voice was calm but worried.

Alan wasn’t happy to be woken up so late at night. He’d arrived from a visit to Japan and had crashed long before the sun had gone down. Hotch would have felt sorry except for the fact that he could now feel how bad Reed felt over the bond. Whatever was wrong with him it had reached a point where Reed couldn’t keep it from him any longer. His dragon was in utter pain. He could feel the ache in his own body.

“Aaron, what the hell. You know I just got back from Japan.”

“Magical Anthrax? Dragons are supposed to be immune to everything. How the hell does a dragon get Anthrax?”

Alan’s face lost all color. His eyes which had been sleepy were now wide awake.

“Where is he?”

“At my house with a Faerie and an Elf. I have them working on the symptoms. He was introduced to it around midday and seemed fine. I figure he was tired from tracking the UnSub who had unleashed it but it’s not that. He can barely stay awake and I can feel his pain now. He’s also burning up with fever.”

“No dragon has ever contracted Anthrax, magical or not. I need to see him.”

The drive back to his house was silent. Morgan met him at the door.

“He’s been a awake a few times and has answered questions. It’s not acting like the Anthrax that Nichols and Brown created. Garcia has been in tears since his mental shields dropped.”

“She can feel his pain, too?” Hotch took off at a run. He barely paid attention as Morgan and Alan followed on his heels.

“Not like that. The bond is leaking on his end.”

Garcia was sitting on one side of the tub with Prentiss on the other. Reed’s eyes were open and were no longer the brilliant blue. No, his eyes were dark blue, so dark that they looked black to Hotch.

Aaron, it hurts.

“I know, Reed. I’m here now.” Hotch reached down into the tub and felt the water. It was warm again. He pushed and the water cooled. “Alan needs to see you.”

Where?

“He’s behind me.” Hotch turned and looked at Alan. The council member moved around the crowd in the bathroom and moved to the side of the tub where Hotch wasn’t. He reached out to touch Reed but the dragon shifted away, falling off into the water and not coming back up. Alan pulled his hand back, looking at the Immortal in shock. “Reed, he needs to touch you. Alan is good at healing. Please.”

No. Over the bond, Hotch could feel how scared Reed was but he wasn’t scared of how sick he was. He was scared of Alan.

“Yes.”

“Little one, you need to let me try and heal you.” Alan looked down where Reed had popped his head up out of the water.

I already took the antidote, it’s just taking longer to work. I hoped I wouldn’t even get sick. Reed turned his head to look at Alan. He snorted and smoke came out but even it was weak.

Hotch knew that no one else had heard it. Reed didn’t speak like that with anyone else. He rarely spoke with the Immortal like that, usually when they were home alone and in separate rooms.

Please, Aaron. Just send them away. The dragon’s head disappeared under the water again and the level of the water rose in the bathtub. When it reached about an inch from the edge of the tub, the top two inches froze over.

“Hotch?” Morgan asked, his voice soft. The dragon had never done anything like that before.

“He knew that it was going to work on him, the Anthrax. He says that he took a dose of the cure once it was figured out where it was.”

“There has never been a form of Anthrax that has ever made a dragon sick, Aaron.” Alan kept his eyes on the ice. It was clouded over enough that even Hotch couldn’t see where Reed was under the water. He touched the ice with his hand and it was so cold that when he pulled back he expected his skin to have frozen.

“I’ll try and get something out of him but right now he’s overwhelmed, feeling like crap, and pretty damned scared of you, Alan.” Hotch didn’t like that. He knew that Alan was keeping things about Reed away from him and before this, he hadn’t cared. Now though, Reed was scared of Alan. His dragon could just be scared of letting someone touch him, but he figured it went farther than that.

“There are things I can’t tell you, Aaron. Things that I have vowed to never speak of, ever. I spoke those vows before Lady Tria.”

“Lady Tria of England?” Hotch asked. It was the only Tria that he knew so it had to be her. Why would Alan have spoken a vow to her? He knew that she was powerful. She was another Immortal. She and Hotch had circled each other for a long time before he’d come across the pond.

“The one and only. In her years of living she has come across many individuals and there are many that are rare. She holds secrets that you wouldn’t believe. As I know you hold secrets.”

A sudden burst of magic flared from the tub. Hotch was never more thankful that his own magic was completely under his own control. Where Dave and even Garcia had to use words to get what they wanted, he used feelings. Alan jumped back from the tub at the same time that the Immortal threw up a hand that shoved Garcia, Morgan, and Prentiss out the door, shutting in time that the magical backlash from Reed didn’t hit them.

Reed’s head appeared through a hole in the ice just large enough for it and he stared at Alan. The Council member was struck still as Reed stared at him. Hotch was fairly certain that Reed was talking to him but he couldn’t hear a word. When Reed snorted and smoke flared out as well as crackle of electricity, Alan stood up and left the bathroom quickly. He fumbled at the door for a few seconds and then was gone. Hotch stared at his dragon.

“Reed?” Hotch felt the magic in the room increase. A blue sheen was coming off of Reed’s bright red scales. He wasn’t scared. Reed had never done a single thing that actually hurt him. Made him back off, yes but not hurt him. There was something about Lady Tria that had set Reed off. Something that had him scare off a Council member. “Stow that display because it isn’t scaring me off.”

The dragon didn’t though. All he did was turn to look at Hotch. The two inch thick ice around him started to melt and the water under was boiling. The blue sheen turned into actual arcs of lightning that danced across his scales. It was beautiful and deadly.

Over the bond, it wasn’t anger that was being projected. It was pure downright fear. Something that Alan had said scared the dragon so much he’d lost control of his magic. This was what made dragons so scary. Outside the house, Hotch could see the wind blowing and the rain pelting down. Reed was affecting everything around him. Hotch pushed up out of his crouch and took a few steps back. When he crossed the threshold of the door it slammed shut.

“I think he’s feeling better?” Morgan asked, eyes never leaving the door.

“No, he’s just so scared that his magic is flaring out. What the hell did you say that has him so scared?” Hotch rounded on Alan who was standing at the bedroom window.

“You are going to have to take that up with him, Aaron. Right now the only thing keeping him safe is that what he is has never been spoken aloud. That he’s careful with his magic. Even now in this flare up and the storm? Anyone tracking weird magic won’t see it as anything but a horrible thunderstorm that’s cropped up. Possibly magic user gaining control of powers or trying a new spell out. There isn’t a single person who is going to look into this storm outside weather freaks. His bond with you also protects him. To the world he is seen as a pet. A dragon who has found a friend in an Immortal. No one thinks it odd. There was a time when all dragons formed bonds with humans and magical beings.”

“So you won’t tell me?”

“I can’t tell you. I just promised Reed the same thing that I did Lady Tria. I hold their secrets until the secrets are no longer secret.”

Aaron turned his head and looked at the door to the bathroom. He could feel the magic in the room settling. Reed wasn’t as scared and he was getting better control of the flare up. Still he wanted to know what scared him so bad that he’d actually lost that much control.

XxXxXxX

On a case two weeks later, Hotch was the first to notice the weird kid watching them. He looked to be around eight years old. His glasses were rather large on his face and he looked too clean to be a street kid. The kid was staring at him and hadn’t stopped, even when Hotch looked at him. He tapped on Morgan’s shoulder and used his head to motion at the kid. The other agent looked and nodded.

When the Immortal got close to the boy, he slowed down his steps, he didn’t want to give the kid a fright. When he got right up to him, he crouched so as not to scare the kid. The boy though wasn’t scared. He looked at Hotch with wide trusting brown eyes.

“Got a quarter mister?” the boy asked as he rocked back on his heels.

Eyebrow quirked, Hotch pulled a quarter from his pocket. He’d grabbed a snack for Reed from a vending machine earlier otherwise he never would have had one on him. The boy’s eyes lit up at the sight and he grabbed the quarter. In a show of dexterity, he walked it across his left hand’s knuckles. Hotch laughed and the boy giggled. He smiled at Hotch.

“Miss Jean hated to take the bus but she would if it was raining.”

“Who is Miss Jean?”

“The lady you are looking for.”

Before Hotch could say anything the boy showed Hotch his empty hands and then the right was going up to his ear and then the quarter was there. The boy smiled at him as he handed back the quarter.

“We aren’t looking for a Miss Jean. The name of the lady taken was Allison.”

“Her name now is Allison Baker. It used to be Miss Jean.”

Hotch looked at the boy with shock on his face. Garcia had been having trouble finding much on Allison Baker but a name change? He turned and called for Morgan. When he looked back, the boy was gone. He was just gone, gone from sight, gone from hearing and when Hotch reached out with his magic, there was no trace that anyone had been there before.

“Where’s the kid?” Morgan was looking around as well so it wasn’t just him. The kid was gone.

“I don’t know. He said that Allison Baker’s name used to be Miss Jean.” Hotch looked at the quarter in his hand and realized it wasn’t a quarter. It was a piece of money he hadn’t seen for a very long time. On one side was a tree and the other a house. His heart ached at the house. It was a piece of money his village used when he had been young. Not only had the kid disappeared, he had a piece of history that should have been long gone. He’d searched for years in the area where his village had been and never found any piece of home to take with him. Who was that kid?

That was the break in the case needed. Allison Baker used to be Jeannie Lovett and she had been on the run from an abusive husband. The husband had found her and killed four other women so that no one would look at him. He’d been caught trying to kill his sixth. Reed had been station bound with JJ as they were in Washington State, and the dragon hadn’t fought him. The last case on the West Coast still in his mind. Reed had finally gotten control of his magic fully again after his brush with Anthrax, but Hotch didn’t want to push it.

The team celebrated with dinner at a restaurant that catered to the local magical population. Reed wasn’t the only familiar in the place, but he was the only dragon. That garnered a few looks, but nothing went farther than that.

“So, Hotch, what was up with the geeky kid? You looked like you’d seen a ghost.” Morgan had finished up his appetizer and was relaxing back in his seat. The rest of the team was fanned out from him with Reed taking a spot right next to him. The waitress had placed them in a large round booth and other than making it hard to go to the bathroom for some, it was nice.

“He asked for a quarter from me. Did a trick or two and then handed it back. It wasn’t until after he disappeared that I realized he didn’t give me back my quarter but a really old coin. From my hometown before it fell off the map.”

“It was a totally magical city wasn’t it?” Dave asked.

“Was it an accident? Giving you the coin specifically?” Reed asked.

“What do you mean?” Hotch asked.

“Would he have given that coin to any magical that came on the case, like Rossi or Morgan or just you. You said he looked to be around eight. This town doesn’t have a large magical community so does he actually live here or was he here to watch you?”

Hotch just looked at his dragon. He didn’t like the thought of someone following him? Child or not. He’d been around magic enough that he knew there were beings who could transform to look like whoever they wanted. He’d only met a few. The old man who had visited him on the first day he had brought Reed into Quantico popped up in his mind. Recalling the old man’s face, he thought about the eyes. The kid’s eyes and the old man’s were pretty similar in color and shape. There were actually quite a few similarities between them. Was there someone out there following him around?

“I guess we won’t find out unless the kid comes back. For now let’s just eat and then get some sleep. We have an early plane ride.”

The topic of conversation turned to other things. Plans for what to do over the weekend if another case didn’t pop up. Hotch though could only think of the fact that it seemed he had a stalker. A stalker that could shift from young to old and was following him on cases and even helping on said cases. Was it someone who was watching to make sure he took care of Reed? Or someone who wanted to take Reed from him? Or even harm Reed? He wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t going to let them get a hold of Reed. The dragon was his and no one else’s.
The End

Next Part: Spencer

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2 thoughts on “Affliction

  1. Ooohhh, great part. And two major mysteries! Meanie! I’m kind of freaked out about whatever it is that Alan know just based on Reed’s reaction. His fear was…frightening. You have to wonder what in the heck he would be so afraid of. And the kid (old man?) with the coin – huge mystery there, too. Wow. I loved this story, though.

    I’m a little behind on your stuff – I have two stories I haven’t read yet, but as soon as I saw this one I had to read it immediately. This series is my favorite. 😉 Hard not to be crazy about a dragon! LOL I do plan to catch up soon, though – maybe today.

    Thanks so much!!

    • I am glad you liked it and what has Spencer so scared will be partially revealed in the next part and the rest in part 7. And the old man/kid mystery will be revealed in part 7, I think. If it works better later, I may do it then.

      Don’t worry about being behind. I am happy you read my stuff, read it on your time. Yeah, it is hard not to be crazy about a dragon.

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