Title: The Mirror Crack’d
Authors: DarkJediQueen & rivermoon1970
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 7
Tags: Mirror Verse, Hard BDSM, D/s, Impact Play, Mind Games, Flashbacks, Twisted Love, Bad Science, Breath Play, Voyeurism, Edging, Spanking,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Mirror!Aaron Hotchner/Mirror!Spencer Reid, Mirror!Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner/Mirror!Spencer Reid, Mirror!Spencer Reid/OFC, Derek Morgan/Charlie Epps,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, David Rossi, Derek Morgan, JJ Jareau, Emily Prentiss, Penelope Garcia, Jack Hotchner, George Foyet, Charlie Epps, Jason Gideon, Tony DiNozzo, Alex Blake, Kate Callahan, Abby Sciuto,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: The science was fun, and though they knew there was an element of danger Spencer thought they had all the calculations down pat. But, when the blast door sealed shut he knew he had only seconds. Those seconds changed his life. Thrown into a world he doesn’t understand, with danger coming from those he trusted, can he get back home in one piece? Or will he be lost and damaged forever?
Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Character Death, Torture, Underage, Rape, Child Abuse, Canon Child Rape, Ephebophilia, Mutilation, Blood Play, Scarification, Murder, Flaying, Non Consensual Drug Use,
Spencer Reid grabbed his phone as it buzzed. He was almost done with his files for the day and Hotch had promised him that he could leave as soon as he was done. It was near two and he figured he could be out of the office by two thirty, if no one bothered him. It was a text from Hotch asking him to come to his office before he left. Spencer set his phone back down and worked his way through the rest of his files.
At two twenty nine he slipped his files into the outbox and grabbed his phone. He sent off a text, stood up, and moved towards Hotch’s office. His boss was on the phone but waved him in when he stepped into the doorway. The man motioned for him to shut the door and Spencer did, taking the seat across the desk from him. It was something personal or job personal because it was rare for the door to need to be shut.
“No, it’s fine. I’ll just slip out with Reid and I can go right to your place to pick up Jack.” Hotch smiled a little and laughed. “No, Reid has other plans with a friend tonight so he’s not coming over for mac ‘n cheese and hot dogs.”
Spencer laughed, drawing one of his legs up into the chair to rest his chin on, given the conversation he was pretty sure it was personal. He let his mind wander towards what he was going to be doing with Charlie later on in the day and how much it was going to help him relax. Stress relief was high on the things that he needed to do. It was why Hotch had asked him to try and find something to do once a week that was fun for him, once the man had confronted him about the headaches. Getting lost in the science and helping Charlie had helped immensely with his headaches. Every once in awhile that also meant spending time with Hotch and Jack relaxing and letting go. Mainly Hotch.
“I’ll see you soon, Jessica.” Hotch hung up the phone and looked at Spencer. There was that soft look in his eyes again that Spencer cherished seeing. It was different than the look that Jack always got. Different but it meant mostly the same things. They’d been dancing around this for months, moving in slow steps closer and closer. There was no rush to it. The most intimate was when they had been sharing a room three weeks back and Spencer had been having trouble sleeping. Hotch had slipped into bed with him and held him. The feel of the other man with him had allowed him to slip into a dreamless sleep, his mind stopping turning over the facts of the case as it focused on the new sensations. And those sensations lulled him into sleep.
“What did you need, Hotch?” Spencer asked. He kept his leg up in the chair, staring at his boss.
“Jessica and Jack are going to see a movie tomorrow night. Something animated that I am happy for not seeing as I’m sure when it’s out on DVD, I’ll be watching it a lot. I guess they have been making plans for weeks to have a date night. Jack’s been saving up for it.”
“Yes. Jack had me get his suit out of my closet. It’s at the dry cleaners and Jessica is picking it up tomorrow.”
Spencer smiled, watching as Hotch packed up his things for the day. Something must have come up for Jessica and Hotch needed to go and take care of Jack. “What happened?”
“Jessica’s dad needs her for something and Jack doesn’t want to go with her. I told her it’s fine. I can take the afternoon. I have all of my have to dos done. I figure that we can both make a break for it at the same time and it won’t raise too many eyebrows.”
“Okay. I’m done. Was that all?” The timeline didn’t fit. Jessica had just called. He’d got the text a half an hour ago.
“No. Did you want to go to dinner with me tomorrow night?” Hotch’s body language was normal but there was something in his eyes. Wariness, anxiousness. Spencer let his eyes move up and down what he could see of Hotch’s body and the longer he was silent the more his hands moved, the sound of shifting feet sounded from under the desk.
Spencer swallowed. “A date?”
“Yes.” Hotch relaxed again and Spencer let his leg drop down to the floor. He sat up straight and smiled. As he did, Hotch’s whole body fully relaxed.
“Of course.” There was no hesitation in accepting. They had been working towards it and he was actually shocked that Hotch was asking. He figured that they would circle around each other for a while longer. They both knew where it was leading but were enjoying getting to know each other outside of work fully before even attempting to add another layer. Obviously the other man thought that he was ready. Spencer knew that he was as well.
“Dress nice. I have us reservations at seven. I’ll pick you up at your place.” Hotch stood up and grabbed his briefcase. Spencer stood up as the older man neared his chair. They walked together to the door. Just as Spencer was grabbing the knob, he felt a hand on his upper arm and he was being spun a little around. He looked at Hotch in confusion. The older man stepped into his personal space and before Spencer could stop himself he was taking a step back. His back pressed into the wood of the door. “Spencer, can I kiss you?”
“Yes.” Spencer closed his eyes as Hotch stepped in again. The pressure on his lips was light until he pressed back in as well. The hand on his arm shifted up to cup the back of his head then the other man was pressing him farther into the door. It felt natural to slip his tongue out from between his lips and licked at Hotch’s lips. He felt the first tentative touch of tongue on his own and couldn’t help the moan that escaped. The older man pulled back quickly and Spencer was a little dizzy.
“If I didn’t stop, we weren’t going to.”
“I know.” Spencer reached up and cupped the left side of Hotch’s face and pressed their lips together for one last chaste kiss before the man stepped fully away from him.
“Go have fun at Georgetown. I’ll talk to you tonight, yes?”
“Yes. Have fun with Jack.” Spencer turned to open the door and felt a brush of hand at his shoulder and it trailed down to the small of his back before lifting away. His step stuttered as he took the first one out of the office when he had the door fully open. He heard the chuckle from Hotch before he got his feet under him. He wanted to turn his head and stick his tongue out at him but not here. Not at work.
Spencer settled down in front of the computer that was in the corner of the lab. He could hear Charlie Epps moving around behind him. He had been happy when Charlie had settled in the area after his going abroad. He finished the mathematical sequence and hit enter. For Charlie this was his lifeblood but for Spencer it was fun. It was a chance to unwind and be fully himself. To revel in science and not have to watch what he says. He can say anything and Charlie understands it. From the most complex equation to the weirdest scientific theory. He loved his team and he enjoyed working with them but he hadn’t realized exactly how much he would miss this.
“Spencer, have you finished inputting all the data?”
“Yes. It’s all in there.” Spencer turned in his chair to look at Charlie. His friend had been at Georgetown for a few months studying the God Particle with CERN. Charlie had had a breakthrough earlier in the week while Spencer had been on a case and they were a lot closer to replicating the recent experiments coming out of CERN. The biggest breakthrough before that had been when they had got the scale model of the Hadron Collider working in the lab. One of only two in the world that had been successful at this scale. The rest of the people working with Charlie were already gone for the day having put in at least twelve hours. He liked working with just his friend. It was fun.
“Good. Are you ready?” Charlie moved towards the door that separated the collider from the rest of the lab with thirteen and a half inch Lexan. The rest of the walls were all steel and concrete. Spencer followed him into the main computer bay and stood behind as Charlie started up the sequence. It was almost ten o’clock and Spencer had another hour before he had to leave to be able to get at least enough sleep to function at work. And on his date with Hotch.
Rubbing at his eye, Spencer was happy he’d changed into his glasses before coming to see Charlie. The rooms in the lab were very dry and between them and sitting at the computer his eyes always started to dry out some and with contacts it made his eyes itchier than they already were.
“Go.” Spencer watched as the enter button was hit before he moved his gaze to the collider. His mind was supplying the graphics needed to understand what was happening. He gripped the back of Charlie’s chair tight. If something was going to go wrong it would be in the next ten point seven seconds. He could feel his friend’s agitation like it was another person in the room.
The time for a problem to pop up came and went. Spencer counted the seconds after, giving it another ten and Charlie released a breath. He turned his head to look at Spencer, smiling.
“Ready for me to go and collect the data?” Spencer grabbed the notebook that the rest of the data was written on.
“Go. We can introduce the God Particle in a few minutes if the data is what we want.” Charlie stood up to move to the computer bay behind him while Spencer moved to the door. The blast door opened and he entered the room. He looked at the collider and smiled. The screen of the computer in the corner was full of information and Spencer took his time collecting it. Everything was lining up with what they wanted and needed. He had just wrote down the last little bit when he turned. Charlie was trying to open the blast door, pressing the emergency pneumatic button. It was two seconds later that the klaxon started to go off. Spencer raced to the door, pressing his button but it wasn’t moving. Spencer looked around and tried to find something to hide behind when he remembered the small alcove where some of the servers were located. Cursing the fact that something bad was going to happen and he wasn’t going to get his date, Spencer moved his fastest. He ran to it and just as he touched them he felt the concussive force and then nothing.
Spencer walked into the house with a spring in his step. He knew Aaron would be pleased with the information he was able to get from the woman. This was their first big breakthrough on Foyet’s people and it’s just what they needed to fight against him. Spencer went immediately to the bedroom and took off his clothes. His hand rested on the collar around his neck and smiled. He put his clothes away, Aaron did not like even the slightest bit of messiness. He had learned that the hard way a long-time ago. Spencer had a getaway room that he was allowed to make as much mess as he wanted. Of course that mostly consisted of papers and research. He wasn’t messy, though. Too many years having cleanliness and neatness just about pounded into his brain he unconsciously kept things in their designated places.
He took another moment before he stepped into the bathroom and got ready to take a shower. When the water was finally warm he stepped under and sighed at the feel of the pounding water cascading over his mostly hairless body. He’d gone through laser hair removal, only keeping the hair on his head, eyebrows and his groin, at Aaron’s insistence. Of course it wasn’t that hard to give in to what the man wanted, Spencer would always give in, no matter what it was Aaron wanted. The man had saved him from a life of pain and terror. The only pain he received now was consensual and wanted. Rewards for a job well done.
After he was clean he grabbed the bottle of water resistant lube and started to prepare himself. By the time he slid in the plug and seated it properly he couldn’t help the surge of desire. His cock wasn’t hard though and that was another thing he had quickly learned to control, another thing he understood. His erection and his pleasure belonged to Aaron and it was something he never forgot. Of course the rewards for obedience far outweighed anything else Spencer could think of and he happily gave his submission to the man that had saved him.
Spencer hummed as he dried himself off, making sure every part of him was completely and thoroughly dry. Aaron hated it when even his hair dripped wet. When he was done he stood in front of the full-length mirror admiring the scars that riddled his body, remembering just when he received each and every one and loved them. He brushed a hand over the piercings, the ones on his nipples and the one at his belly button. He sighed softly as he smiled and admired himself in the mirror. He knew intellectually that he was damaged, knew exactly who and what he was and he had absolutely no desire to change it. He loved every single moment of his life. Aaron didn’t just use his body, which he could bring him to the most glorious heights, then down into absolute perfection when he was rewarded with subspace. Aaron used his mind as well, and he gladly let himself be used. He was a tool, a precision instrument that could strike swift and deadly. He trained his body as well as he trained his mind. He no longer worried about bullies or adults who wanted to use him up, he had power and he relished it.
He stepped away from the mirror and walked back into the bedroom but didn’t get dressed. He moved to the side of the bed and pulled out the sub-bench, slowly lowered himself, then wrapped his legs around the underside and sat up with his back straight. He bowed his head and laid his hands on his thighs palms-up, holding the pose he waited for Aaron to come home, hoping for a reward for the information he got on Foyet’s operation.
When Aaron came home the first thing he did was to seek out his son and find out how his day was. He found the boy in his room reading on his bed, the room ruthlessly clean with his stack of homework neatly sitting on his desk. It was no less than what Aaron would expect from his son.
“Jack, were you good today?” Aaron pulled the boy into his lap and gave him a hug.
“Yes Dad. Uncle Derek says I’m getting better at my hand-to-hand and Emily let me shoot a glock. That was harder than the Colt Diamondback, but Emily said I learn quickly so I should be able to handle it better soon.”
Aaron smiled and kissed the top of Jack’s head, his pride in his son clearly written on his face.
“Yes, you will. Did you get all of the homework Spencer set out for you done?”
“Yes, it’s in my folder for Papa to check.”
“Then you get two more hours reading time, then it’s dinner. If Papa says your homework all looks good we’ll watch a movie, okay?”
“Yes. Can we watch Die Hard? Please Daddy?” The ten-year old jumped off Aaron’s lap and had such excitement in his eyes Aaron just couldn’t say no.
“Of course. You can read in here or if you want to go into the library you can.”
“Thank you Dad.” Jack jumped up excitedly as he ran towards the library. Aaron chuckled at his son and picked-up the folder with Jack’s homework and walked towards his bedroom.
Entering the bedroom his eyes immediately took in Spencer. He smiled as he walked around him, admiring every single naked inch of him. He didn’t touch him, not yet. He was going to let the man wait, raising the anticipation.
Without saying a word Aaron entered his walk-in closet and carefully stripped putting each piece of his bespoke suit back in it’s exact spot. He did the same with his shoes, watch and cufflinks. He threw the fitted button-up and boxers in separate bins. One for the dry cleaning, and one for the regular laundry.
Opening a drawer, he pulled out a pair of black linen pants and a tight black t-shirt. After he was changed, he stepped back into the bedroom and was pleased that Spencer hadn’t moved. He moved one of the vanity chairs and placed it in front of Spencer then lowered himself in the chair. He reached behind Spencer’s head and grabbed his hair and made him look-up.
“And how was the rest of your day my Pet? Was your errand successful?”
Spencer tried not to close his eyes at the feel of the hand in his hair. Aaron knew just how much pleasure Spencer got from him grabbing and pulling his hair. Aaron rested the other hand just under Spencer’s neck right at the breastbone. The promise of either pleasure, or pain which depended on what Spencer was going to tell him.
“The woman gave me everything. Names, dates of possible attacks against you and their current base of operations. She also gave me the name of the new agents in Foyet’s unit. I haven’t written it down yet. Wanted to wait for you.” Aaron was more than pleased with how well Spencer was controlling himself and the information was a boon. He hadn’t been sure how much the woman knew but it was worth it to hear that she had known the names of the new agents.
“And what did you do with the woman, Pet?”
Spencer smiled a cruel smile as he looked-up at Aaron with soft dreamy eyes.
“She screamed for me so pretty, Sir. Then I made her light go out and it was beautiful.”
“Then you deserve a reward, Pet.” Aaron slid his hand up and lightly wrapped his fingers around Spencer’s neck eliciting a sharp intake of breath and a shiver. Slowly he released him then slid his hand further up to cup Spencer’s cheek and leaned down to kiss him softly as his fingers tightened on the sub’s hair. He pulled away after a moment and ordered Spencer to stand. Aaron walked to a large locked cabinet and taking the key from around his neck he opened it.
“Come here Pet.” He gestured for Spencer to join him. As soon as the young man was standing in front of him Aaron turned him to look inside the cabinet. He wrapped his arms around Spencer, kissing and licking up the side of his neck. “Choose two.” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear making the sub shiver in anticipation.
Aaron heard Spencer suck in his breath as he ran his hand over each of the items hanging in the cabinet. It took him a few minutes to decide and Aaron stayed patient. Spencer finally picked up a suede and silicon knotted flogger and the long split-tail bullwhip. He turned in Aaron’s arms and handed the two impact instruments to him.
Aaron set the items on the bed then pulled open a drawer with various sized compartments. Almost like a jewelry drawer, but this one held so much more. Taking out what looked-like a set of teardrop charms he attached them to Spencer’s nipple rings which made them pull down, they were small weights specifically made just for this purpose. He then pulled out a y-chain and attached the two ends to the nipple rings and the other to the belly ring, the slight weight of the chain also pulled on the nipple rings.
Aaron then reached in and pulled out a leash that he threw on the bed. The last thing he took out before they left the room was a soft leather cock cage. He took a moment and grabbed Spencer’s half-hard cock and roughly stroked till he was fully erect. He snapped each band together making sure it was snug against Spencer’s cock, keeping him erect but it would also prevent him from coming too soon.
“Go to your closet and put on the purple and black robe, nothing else.” Aaron rumbled in Spencer’s ear.
Biting his lip Spencer turned and immediately left the main room. He came back a moment later with the robe tied around his waist to keep it closed. Picking-up the leash Aaron attached it to Spencer’s collar and tugging lightly on it he signaled Spencer that they were leaving the bedroom. They padded softly through the large house till they got to the stairs that led to the dungeon.
As soon as they entered and the door clicked shut Aaron grabbed the belt of the robe and untied it. Slowly he slid the robe off Spencer, and stepped closer to capture his mouth in a deep kiss. He felt Spencer’s arms come around him and felt how his lover moaned in pleasure. He allowed the small indiscretion for he enjoyed kissing Spencer more than anything else. Aaron licked at his lips encouraging Spencer to open for him.
They stood wrapped together devouring each other’s mouths, each kiss hungrier than the last. Each kiss, each touch was calculated on Aaron’s part, he wanted Spencer hard and aching. Before the night was done he knew he’d have Spencer begging for his cock. Just that thought alone made Aaron hard, but he had too much control over his own body and would only come when he was buried in his sub’s ass.
Aaron pulled back and grabbed Spencer’s right wrist and gently forced his arm back behind him. He did the same with the left then held both wrists in an iron grip. Sliding his free hand over Spencer’s now flushed skin Aaron took the time to relish in the feel of each scar as he slowly slid his hand down to grip Spencer’ already leaking cock.
“Should I let you come Spencer?” Aaron asked as he gripped the caged cock in his hand tight.
Spencer whimpered in his arms and tried not to thrust.
“Words Spencer, or this will end.”
“What’s your safe word?”
“Desmios.” Spencer practically whined at what Aaron was doing to him. The word had been picked by Spencer a long time ago because he loved the Greek language. The younger man had chosen the word to show he was bound to Aaron. Forever.
“Will it take the edge off Pet?” Aaron kissed him then slid his tongue up along Spencer’s cheek.
“Yes.” Spencer whined as his eyes closed and his head lolled back.
“I’m going to take off the cage and remember don’t come.”
Aaron unsnapped the cage and slipped it in the pocket of his pants. He lowered to his knees and took Spencer’s now engorged cock in his mouth. Slowly he slid his lips up and down the hard flesh before he eventually let it slide all the way to the back of his throat. He released Spencer’s wrists and gripped his hips with both hands then relaxed his throat and let Spencer slide even more in his mouth. He was deep throating his sub knowing it was going to be the quickest way for him to achieve release. He knew Spencer wanted to touch, but he waited for permission. Aaron lifted a hand and grabbed one of Spencer’s and placed it on his head, it was an unspoken signal that it was okay to touch him. As soon as Spencer buried his fingers in Aaron’s hair, he felt he was close to release. Aaron hummed as he made little bobbing head movements keeping the head at the back of his throat. Spencer grunted as he came down Aaron’s throat.
Aaron stood and kissed Spencer once again, letting the sub chase the flavor of himself in Aaron’s mouth. It didn’t take long to get his sub hard again and when he did he put the cage back on then led him to the wall that had chains dangling from it. Aaron had Spencer face the wall and he chained his arms out to the sides. Aaron put cuffs at wrists, elbows and upper arm to help support him. He then put cuffs around his ankles and thighs.
“So beautiful for me Spence. If you want to cry out, you can. I’ll have you begging for my cock before we’re through, isn’t that right Pet?”
Panting hard as he leaned into the wall he looked to the side, “Yes, Sir.”
Aaron had put the two items Spencer had picked out on a table near the wall. But before he used either of those he picked-up a soft suede flogger that he would start with. This was used to let Spencer settle and let himself get in the right headspace for what Aaron had planned.
After working Spencer over for a few minutes he exchanged instruments and grabbed the knotted flogger. He didn’t hold back. Each stroke of the whip made such beautiful sounds against Spencer’s body it made Aaron hard. When Spencer started to break out in a sweat and his body was full of welts Aaron paused.
“Tell me how you are Spencer.” Aaron grabbed Spencer’s hair holding his head up.
“S’good. Sir.” Aaron knew that Spencer was slipping into subspace but he wasn’t quite all the way there. Smiling he stepped away and went to the small fridge and pulled out a bottle of water then grabbed a straw and put it in so it would be easier for Spencer to drink.
“Drink.” He commanded.
Spencer looked up at him with glassy eyes and grinned. Aaron put the straw in his mouth and let Spencer take a few sips. Taking it away he set the water on the table then exchanged the flogger for the bullwhip.
Aaron took a moment, snapping the whip expertly against the floor Spencer’s body shook with each loud crack that resonated through the air. When he was satisfied with his wrist movements he snapped the whip against Spencer’s body, who then cried out at the sudden flare of pain. The split tail with the sharp leather darts on the end making even more pronounced marks on the subs body. Pulling back, he waited a moment and snapped it again hitting the soft flesh. Spencer screamed out and Aaron hardened even more.
“Sir, please, sir fuck me, please fuck me.” Spencer was begging with each crack of the whip against his body. Aaron gave his sub a few more strokes and only stopped when he saw how much Spencer was shaking with need.
He set the whip aside and grabbed a towel from the stack he kept next to the large sink. He wet one with some warm water then walked back to Spencer and carefully wiped the sweat off his body.
“Please,” Spencer was begging to the point of tears. Aaron reached down and started to pull out the plug when Spencer groaned. Smiling to himself he gripped the base of the plug and slowly fucked Spencer with it as he wrapped an arm around his front and tugged on the chain. Spencer arched almost violently at the sudden pull then slumped back forward.
“Please what Spencer?” Aaron whispered in his ear.
“Please I need you. Please fuck me, make me come.” He begged again. Aaron leaned in and slowly inhaled smelling Spencer’s arousal mixed with his sweat. It was intoxicating. He licked up Spencer’s neck, then his cheek. Aaron took a few minutes to lick at the scars on Spencer’s upper shoulders and back as his hand cupped his sub’s cock. He moaned low at how hard Spencer was as he stroked over the cage. Spencer bowed his back and begged even more. Aaron knew if he kept up his ministrations on the scars his Pet could come from that alone. But he had other plans for him.
“Only because you’ve done so well.” Aaron pulled the plug all the way out before he grabbed the lube that was also on the small table near the wall. He took off his pants and t-shirt then generously slicked-up his cock after he came to stand behind Spencer. He lined himself up and pushed inside, the head pushing past the tight ring of muscle. Spencer’s head lolled back onto Aaron’s shoulder which gave him incentive to push himself all the way in. When his groin was flush with Spencer’s ass he started to move.
“Yes, Sir. Fuck me so good Sir.” Spencer was slipping farther, his eyes glazed and his mouth was slack as Aaron pumped in and out fast and hard. When he felt he was close he reached around and once again undid the cage and threw it aside. He wrapped his hand around the now achingly hard member and whispered in Spencer’s ear.
“Come for me Spencer.” The deep growl in his ear and the commanding tone had his body responding before his brain could catch-up. His body tensed and he cried out as he came. Aaron’s eyes rolled in the back of his head as his movements sped up and he fucked his sub hard and fast coming only moments later. Still buried inside Spencer he reached over and undid the cuffs holding Spencer’s wrists, and arms. He released one at a time and just held the limp man against his chest. They stayed like that for a few moments, Aaron stroked his body helping them both to come down. Aaron pulled out and almost chuckled at the little whine Spencer emitted.
“Can you stand Pet?”
Aaron had Spencer lean against the wall while he uncuffed his legs, then helped him back in his robe. He grabbed his pants and shirt and put them back on then led Spencer up to their room. After getting him to drink some water and a soothing bath Aaron bundled Spencer up and led him to the bed. He laid the blissed out man down and pulled the wrist cuffs out from their cubby and secured them around Spencer’s wrists. Kissing the side of his neck he crawled in beside him and pulled the man close. He knew Spencer would need a couple of hours sleep before they had dinner and the promised movie with Jack.
Several hours later they put a very happy, but tired little boy to bed, then went back to their own room and also got ready for bed. Once again Spencer was cuffed and he immediately fell asleep, contentment shone on his face.
“Sleep well my Pet.” Aaron said as he snuggled down next to Spencer holding him close, his own contentment settling over him.
Spencer was cold and that was a jarring sensation. He was never cold. Not after a night like he’d had before. He shifted and his wrist rubbed on the bed, he felt the bed linens on his wrist. His naked wrist. He jerked up to a sitting position and threw his eyes open wide. Beyond the bed all he saw was blurs but he pulled his wrist up to his eyes. They were bare. His cuffs were gone. Aaron never took off his cuffs when he was sleeping, never. The sound of talking was trying to break through but all he could hear was the beeping of machines. One of them was beeping rapidly, in tune with his heart. He forced himself to settle down and as he did his vision cleared. He listened to the machine until the beeping was normal.
He wanted to know what happened because Aaron had played tame with him. There was no way that he’d been injured but it was the only reason that Aaron would have him in a hospital. It was the only reason that his cuffs would have been removed before he woke. He couldn’t sleep without them. He hadn’t slept without cuffs on his wrists since Aaron had saved him. What had happened in the night?
“Sir?” Spencer called out as he took in the faces around him. Sir was easy to say and choose. It would calm his lover if he was upset with him. Showing his submission. A touch on his arm had him settling down even more. He took in the face to his left and his whole body jerked. Aaron had shaved. He hadn’t been clean shaven in the time that Spencer had known him. There were pictures in childhood and teen years where he was clean shaven but Spencer had only ever glimpsed them. It was when the shock wore off of seeing Aaron’s cheeks that he realized that Aaron was standing beside the bed and not sitting on it. He looked at him questionly. He didn’t remember doing anything wrong and that was the only thing that he could figure out for why Aaron wasn’t touching him more.
“Kid?” Rossi’s voice drew his gaze over and Spencer’s heart leaped to his throat. That wasn’t his Rossi. His mind raced with anything and everything that he could figure out. Everyone except for Rossi was the same except for their eyes. Aaron’s people cared for him. He was useful and he was an instrument of Aaron’s. They would only all be in his room if something bad had happened and Aaron was afraid for him. He tried to remember the last thing he could remember. If there was something after falling asleep in their bed, in Aaron’s arms but there was nothing. There was nothing at all. Wherever he was, he wasn’t these people’s Spencer.
“What do you remember Spence?” JJ asked.
Spencer looked at her in shock. He’d have to play dumb until he could figure all of this out. Morgan shifted closer to him and he saw a flash of a badge. He looked around the room more and all of them had on badges and guns. They were all FBI!
“Agent Reid, you are awake. Good,” a doctor said as he entered the room.
The only thought that he could process was that he was an agent as well. Aaron stepped away from the bed and allowed the doctor in close. He submitted to the exam and was tightlipped with responses. He gave his name, his birth date, and what he hoped was the current year.
“What do you remember of last night?” The doctor asked.
Spencer was a consummate liar. He had to be to be everything that his Aaron needed. Whatever happened to him hadn’t happened to the others. He’d been alone.
“I remember leaving the the office.” Generalities were best until he knew more. He had to make it out of this. He had to get away from the hospital to figure out exactly what happened and how to get back to HIS Aaron. He’d never be forgiven if he died in this world. He could only assume that whatever Spencer lived in his world was in his own. Aaron would know instantly that it wasn’t him. He doubted that the other Spencer wore Aaron’s marks. Looking at Aaron, Spencer didn’t see anything of his Aaron in his eyes. No, that Spencer wasn’t going to be able to hide at all. “I don’t…I don’t remember anything after that.”
Faking a panic attack was easy, even enough to fool the machines he was hooked up to. The heart rate monitor started to beep erratically. It only took seconds for Aaron to push past the doctor and touch his arm again. So there was something there. Even if it wasn’t his Aaron, his body knew that touch and even though he was just faking it, his body started to calm down. He gulped in a mouthful of air and tried to act like he was scared. He couldn’t fail Aaron.
“Why don’t I remember?”
“Doctor?” Aaron asked.
“Agent Reid, you were in an explosion at Georgetown last night. You were mostly protected but you were thrown into the wall. You have no breaks or fractures and the worst of your injuries are some scrapes. Now, some of your hair was burned so we had to cut it away but your scalp wasn’t burned.”
Spencer’s hand flew to his hair. It was short. This time the panic attack wasn’t faked. He tried to breathe but he couldn’t. He couldn’t get in enough air. Even the hand on his arm and the one that settled on his chest couldn’t stop him. Aaron was going to be so pissed. His hair was so short. He was going to be in so much trouble. He’d never have been allowed to cut it so short. He wouldn’t want it that short. Aaron couldn’t get a good grip on it. It wouldn’t feel as good. His lungs forced him to breath and he calmed down slightly. It wasn’t something he could have controlled. Aaron wouldn’t punish him for something that he had no way of stopping. Aaron wasn’t unfair when it came to things like that. Even his genius mind couldn’t predict everything. And being stolen from their bed in the middle of the night wasn’t something that he could stop.
“Was anyone else hurt?” Spencer asked when he could fully breath again. Aaron’s hands were still on him but he didn’t look at the man. He had to figure out everything. He needed to get out of the hospital. He had to get to wherever this Spencer lived and then figure out how to get himself back to his world. To his Aaron. To Jack. He held back the sob at that. Jack was smart. Aaron was going to try and lie but Jack would know. It wouldn’t take long.
“No. Doctor Epps was behind the blast doors. He’s outside waiting to talk to you but your team has kept him out.”
Doctor Epps? Spencer sorted through his memories for an Epps. He had found a small article in the latest newsletter from CERN about joint research between a Charlie Epps and them. There had been no location given for it but it had to be that same person. What the hell happened in this world that a hole was ripped and he had switched places with what seemed like a good version of himself?
“Charlie is safe.” Spencer sighed in relief. Hating already the game he was forced to play. “I want to see him.”
“Agent Reid, I need to see you eat some food. The scans you had over the night show that we can’t find anything wrong with you and the memory issues are not that big of a deal. An explosion is a traumatic event and memory loss for the hours preceding the event is not uncommon, even with a brain like yours.”
“Oatmeal?” Spencer asked. He had no clue exactly what the other Spencer ate but Aaron preferred oatmeal most work mornings and it was hard for a hospital to mess up oatmeal.
“I’ll have the kitchen send up a tray as soon as they can.” The doctor moved away from the edge of his bed and as he did, the others crowded in. He wasn’t sure what he thought of that. Obviously they were all rather close. JJ went right to one side, dodging the machines and settled on the edge of the bed. Her arm went around him and he cuddled down into her side. It wasn’t his JJ but this was a JJ. In his world, she was the mother that he’d never had as a child. She’d been there at Aaron’s side for a long time. Penny moved up on that side of the bed as well. She was like his sister. He was happy that Rossi took up a spot at the end of his bed. Spencer respected his Rossi’s mind but was always a little creeped out by him. He was too much of a womanizer and his skin crawled the few times the man touched him. Derek moved into the space between Rossi and Aaron. He counted his Derek as a friend but they weren’t close. He was the consummate lothario when it came to women. There wasn’t a one who had ever turned him down but when it came to his male dalliances, he liked them a little too young for Spencer’s tastes. Derek was damaged and Spencer knew why. Aaron made sure that he knew everything about his inner group. Emily was at the back of the room. There was a distance to her that had Spencer trying to figure out why she was back there when the rest of them were closer.
“I’m glad you are okay, Boy Wonder.” Penny’s hand touched at his blanket covered knee.
“Epps called Hotch just after he called security on campus,” Derek said.
“By the time that we all made it there, you were already enroute to the hospital. They didn’t let us in to see you until they had all the scans done.”
“I didn’t call your mother,” Aaron said his hand finally dropping from his chest. Spencer whipped his head from looking at JJ and Penny to look at him. His mother? His mother was still alive? His body reacted. He needed to get away. He needed to get to safety. He had to get where she couldn’t find him. His hand ripped the needle from his arm. The leads were next. He had them off of him at the same time that he pushed between JJ and Penny. The first door he found was the bathroom. He slipped inside and slammed the door shut, locking it. He turned to find that it had a stall shower. He slipped into it and closed the glass door. It wasn’t much protection but he could defend himself if needed from there. He sat there shivering.
The pounding on the door started and Spencer pulled more into a ball. He could hear his mother on the other side of the door. Screaming at him. Her screeches were making him feel like his ears were bleeding. He covered his ears and tried to block it all out. His breath was coming in short pants. He wanted Aaron. He wanted HIS Aaron. To feel safe in his arms. He wanted Aaron to kill her again. He wanted to see her blood spreading on the floor with Aaron standing above her. He pulled harder on the memory.
His mother had been in the middle of one her her more violent episodes. She’d had a knife in her hand from where she’d attacked him. He’d been cooking dinner for her since he was home from college for the weekend when the power had gone out. The cut had run across his chest and he remembered that he had screamed. He’d tried to get to the closet that he’d reinforced so that she couldn’t get in. He had almost made it when her hand had grabbed him and threw him to the floor. He’d rolled to his back to try and fend her off when the front door had shuddered and then ripped off the hinges. His mother had turned to face the new person. It was dark and Spencer had only seen the outline of him at first. The person rushed her and when it was all over, the lights flicked back on and Aaron had been standing above her with the knife in his hand and his mother’s throat was slit.
Aaron. The terror was gripping him but he knew that she was dead. He pulled on memories of Aaron calming him down during his flashbacks when he was younger. The hand on his hair, petting him. Never causing pain. Pain would push him farther into the flashback. The hand would pet him over and over. He could feel the ghost of the hand. With every not there touch, he calmed down.
“That’s it, Pet. Breathe for me.” Aaron’s voice was like it was right there. He could feel the ghosting of breath on his skin. The hand stayed petting his hair but the other moved to his waist, lifting him into his lap. Warmth pulled him in and he stopped shaking. The banging on the door faded away. He listened to the voices on the other side of the door.
“…Do you think it was a flashback?” Garcia asked.
“To what?” Rossi asked.
“Hankel?” Derek’s voice was clear and the name of Hankel got Spencer angry. It brought back thoughts of Jason Gideon, the man who had tried to take him away from Aaron. Who had lied to him. The man who had lied about Aaron. Who tried to convince him that his lover was cheating on him. The rest of the flashback fell off of him like water. Whoever Hankel was in this world, he’d got his hands on this Spencer as well. Obviously it had left a mark. He could play that. He needed to get to wherever Spencer lived and then wherever he worked. Both places would hold the most memory.
“Maybe he moved and felt the needle in his arm,” JJ said. Spencer looked down at his arm where the saline drip had been. The blood had stopped. Whatever Hankel had done to Spencer in this world involved needles.
Spencer made himself move out of the shower. He stepped to the door and pressed his ear to it.
“Let’s just give him some space. Morgan, Garcia, Dave, Prentiss, go back to the office. I had Anderson get his bag and car from Georgetown. I have your keys and the car is at your apartment.”
“No one wants to talk to him?” Rossi sounded shocked.
“Every single bit of it is on camera with full audio. Epps is handling it all. Epps is the scientist on record and it’s his equations, his research, his everything. It was Epps’ scale collider that caused the explosion. JJ and I will stay and when Reid is released, I’ll drive him home.” Aaron’s voice was calm. At least he knew where Spencer lived. The shuffle of feet told him that the others were leaving.
“Hotch, shouldn’t we…”
“He’ll come out when he’s ready.”
“Agent Hotchner,” the doctor’s voice barely carried through the door so Spencer breathed as shallow as he could. “Agent Reid’s clothes were unsavable due to the smoke damage and slight singeing. His rings are here in the bag.”
“Rings?” JJ’s voice was confused. “Spence doesn’t wear any rings.”
Spencer knew exactly what rings the doctor was talking about. He slid his hand under the gown and brushed at his navel and then up to his nipples. He was happy that something that Aaron had bought for him came with him. That he had something of him in this crazy world.
“Not rings for your fingers. ma’am.”
Spencer didn’t like the thought of anyone touching what was his. He opened the bathroom door and stepped out. He held out his hand for the bag and the doctor gave it over. There was a tray of food sitting on the end of his bed. He sat down and started to eat, keeping the gown closed. Aaron and JJ were silent, staring at him. He could feel their eyes. He ate every single bit of food on the tray.
“When can I go?”
“I want you to follow up with a neurologist in a few days to make sure that nothing else is going on in there and if you have any dizzy spells, nausea, or pain, please come back. I’ll have a nurse bring by your discharge papers.” The doctor smiled at him and left. Spencer sat back on the bed and looked at JJ and Aaron.
“Epps had to leave, Reid but he’ll visit you at your apartment tomorrow,” Aaron said and it answered the question on exactly what that relationship was or in this case wasn’t. Spencer nodded and looked down at his gown.
“I stopped by your place and grabbed you a change of clothes,” JJ said as she lifted up a bag. Spencer smiled and her.
Spencer debated going into the bathroom to change but when JJ stepped back and pulled the curtain closed around the bed to give him privacy, he just let go of the gown and shimmied until it dropped to the bed. Aaron turned around but before he did, Spencer caught a faint blush on his cheeks. There was more there than meets the eye and he was going to figure out exactly what. He changed quickly and was kind of upset that the clothes were ordinary. A button up with a pair of slacks. Next was a pair of underwear, thankfully boxers. At least there was something the same between them. What stopped him was the items sitting below the boxers. He laid them down on the bed and picked up the pair of socks. They were mismatched. His hands shook as he slipped each one on his feet. It had been so long since he’d worn mismatched socks. He hadn’t cared about them in the grand scheme of getting away from his mother and not going into foster care. Aaron had protected him, allowed him to go to school. Aaron had given him everything that he needed and what he wanted. It felt weird to look at his feet with mismatching socks. If JJ knew enough to get him them, it would be noticeable if he changed that so he’d have to get used to it. The clothing though would have to go. He was sure he’d find something in Spencer’s closet that he would be able to wear day in and day out. Spencer would thank him for it.
Dressing was quick but he stopped when he realized that he didn’t see shoes. He looked around and spotted what looked like Converse shoes on one of the guest chairs. He tapped Aaron’s shoulder as he passed to grab the shoes. Once in hand, he opened the curtain and JJ smiled at him. Taking the seat, he slipped the shoes on and tied them up.
“Okay, Agent Reid, here are your papers.” The nurse handed them over. Spencer scanned through them. The voice of Aaron in his head. He’d never signed anything without reading it. Ever. He knew everything to look for but given that he himself hadn’t been in the explosion he knew he’d be fine. He had a brief second to worry for the other Spencer but Aaron would know he wasn’t him and would get the truth out of him and make sure he had an eye kept on him. He signed in the places he needed and then initialed. It was quick and painless. He waited to see what Aaron was going to do.
JJ stepped up to hug him and then she was gone with a promise to call him. Aaron motioned for him to go first out of the room. Spencer stuffed the bag with his rings in it, into his pocket before he took that first step. Just as he breached the door, Aaron’s hand settled on the small of his back. A possesive claim. Spencer could work with that.
Spencer slowly woke fully expecting to be in a hospital bed. What he didn’t expect were the cuffs around his wrists. That was the first thing that registered in his mind. His eyes flew open and he stayed perfectly still. It was the heavy arm around his waist and the very unmistakable hard erection moving against his ass that kept him from struggling. Inside, though, he was panicking and ready to jump out of his skin at any moment.
When the arm around his waist moved and the hand gripped his cock he whimpered and tried not to involuntarily thrust into the hand. He had an idea who it was behind him but he wasn’t sure what the hell was going on.
“Morning Pet.” The low rumble in his ear and the soft kisses along his neck were quickly short-circuiting his brain. A hand was in his hair, then stilled. Spencer didn’t dare breathe or move. He had no idea what was going on so he was trying not to panic. When the hand that was working his cock started to caress his upper body, touching him everywhere he shivered, partially in fear and partially because he recognized the hand as well as the voice in his ear.
“Morning Aaron.” Which must have been the wrong thing to say because he was violently shoved onto his back and pinned down on the bed.
“Who the fucking-hell are you?” Aaron glared, but it was different, darker and Spencer recognized that look. He’d seen it enough times from the unsubs he has interviewed over the years.
“I, I, I’m Doctor Spencer Reid.”
Aaron’s hand wrapped around his throat and lightly squeezed. Spencer closed his eyes and willed the tears that sprang-up not to fall.
“You are not Spencer. You know how I can tell?” Spencer tried to swallow around the hand at his throat but couldn’t.
“N-no,” he squeaked out.
“My Spencer, my beautiful Pet, his hair is longer. He never gets it cut without my permission.” Aaron moved his free hand down the smooth chest free of scars. “He has scars. Very beautiful scars that I gave him. He has no body hair, head, eyebrows, groin, that’s it. I know his body better than I know my own.” Aaron thrust against Spencer who closed his eyes tight and tried to keep the rising panic attack at bay.
“I swear; I swear to you I’m Doctor Spencer Reid. Please, please don’t hurt me Aaron.”
“Who sent you and how did you get in my house? Was it Foyet?” Aaron grabbed Spencer’s face and felt along trying to find possible reconstruction scars.
“Foyet? Aaron, Foyet is dead. You killed him.”
“Not yet, but I’m certainly going to try.”
Spencer was trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. He also noticed that this Aaron was different. He had a close shaved beard, the dark circles under his eyes were gone and his pallor was a little darker, like he got more sun than his Aaron usually got.
“Is that why you’re here? But then it wouldn’t explain how you got in our bed, cuffed. And somehow I think killing you would be a very bad idea.”
Spencer tried to remain calm, he thought back to Charlie and the experiment.
“That is one thing we can agree on.”
“No, look let me explain, please, please give me a chance to explain.”
Aaron studied his face a moment then backed off. He stood and glared at the man on the bed as he crossed his arms.
“I’m going to go take a shower. You are staying right there, and before you try, they can’t be picked. Then and only then will you explain to me who you are and what the fuck is going on.” Aaron strode from the room and a moment later Spencer heard the water turning on. He didn’t waste a second. He pulled his hands down and looked around for something, anything to use to try to pick the locks on the cuffs.
Spencer stood and tested how far the chain went, which wasn’t far at all. But it gave him just enough length to look through the nightstand drawers. He was quickly rummaging through it and growled in frustration as not even a single paper clip existed in the drawers. He did, however, find a photo album. He made a mental note to look at it later. The pictures on the nightstand also caught his eye. There was Aaron, him and Jack. Jack was older and cuddled in Spencer’s lap. He swallowed hard as he stared at the picture. He didn’t know Jack that well, Aaron didn’t let him spend a lot of time with the boy alone. Well, not yet anyway. He knew Aaron’s trust issues and knew it would take time. He let thoughts of Jack go and refocused on trying to find something, anything he could use to pick the locks on the cuff.
“Shit.” He let out the curse when he didn’t find anything within arm’s length he could use. He heard the shower turn off which made him scramble back on the bed trying to calm his beating heart.
Aaron walked back out of the bathroom completely naked and Spencer had to swallow back the whine that wanted to escape. It didn’t help that the man smiled at him. He knew Aaron had heard him.
“I’m going to undo the cuffs, but you’d better talk and talk fast.”
Aaron took the key he kept in his nightstand drawer and unlocked the cuffs. He slowly backed away keeping an eye on Spencer. He moved the same vanity chair from the day before next to the bed and sat with his arms crossed, waiting.
“You’re just going to stay naked?” Spencer couldn’t help the sarcastic tone in his voice as he felt his ears getting warm.
“And you have quite the mouth on you, don’t you? Do I need to put it to better use?” Aaron glared as he leaned forward and filed away the look in Spencer’s eyes to use at another time. “Start talking. My generosity only goes so far.”
Spencer took a deep breath and told Aaron about the experiment, how everything was fine until they added the God Particle. He admitted he was a little fuzzy on the details after the explosion. He said he thought he was going to wake-up in a hospital, not cuffed to a bed. He was thrown into the panic attack that had been threatening all morning when he was all of a sudden pinned down with hands around his throat and a murderous look in the other man’s eye.
“You stupid fucking idiot. Do you know what you’ve done?” Aaron pressed down along Spencer’s body and lowered his face close to Spencer’s, “Tell me now why I shouldn’t kill you right here, right now.”
Spencer was trying to swallow but was having difficulty with the hands around his throat.
“If you kill me, you’ll never get him back.” Spencer was trying to claw at the hands around his throat seeing the the struggle in Aaron’s eyes as he shoved away and stood up. He was pacing angrily when he whirled back on Spencer.
“How could you be so goddamned stupid? No one has been able to build a stable scale model of the Hadron Collider. Anyone who’s tried has ended up dead. How the hell did your Aaron ever think to let you do something this dangerous and stupid?”
“Look,” Spencer stood and got in Aaron’s face, “I have a mind of my own. It took me a long time to know my worth and I do. No one, and I mean no one tells me what the fuck to do.”
“Yeah? Well maybe someone needs to. You are going to figure out how to get my Spencer back.” Aaron grabbed the back of Spencer’s neck with one hand and his cock with the other. “If you were my Spencer, my Pet, you’d be wearing a punishment collar and cock cage.” Aaron’s glare was hard and like nothing Spencer had ever seen. Even their run-in with Chester Hardwicke, when Aaron was practically snarling at the man, did Spencer see such a look.
“P-p-please, please don’t hurt me and I’ll do whatever you want.”
“That is a very bold statement and not one that I think you understand. But for now you are going to have to assume the role of my Spencer. If not, you could get us both killed, you understand?”
“What do I have to do?”
Aaron let Spencer’s cock go, which he was both relieved and a little sad about. He didn’t want to think what that meant about his current state of mind. The part of him that was half-in-love with Aaron Hotchner recognized this man, but his more rational mind knew this was nothing like the man in his own world.
“You will have to wear a collar, not negotiable. Your closet is over there and you will wear the clothes I pick for you on a daily basis. You are also my legal assistant so you will be going to work with me. You’ll sleep in my bed and to keep up appearances, that means cuffed. Jack likes to come snuggle with us on the weekends and we don’t want anything to look out of the ordinary. It’s Friday and we have a deposition in the James Heathridge case. I’m going for insanity and I’m going to get it. The kid should have been put in an asylum years ago.”
“And if I say no.”
Aaron turned that deadly stare on Spencer, “You have no choice Pet. You got him into this situation and you are going to get him out. And as your punishment, you will do what I say because you won’t like me at all if you don’t.”
Spencer swallowed hard and considered his options. He could run and try to figure out a way on his own on how to get back. The problem with that was he didn’t understand this world. He was stuck, at least until he learned all he could, then he would make his move, whatever that would be.
“Fine. You’re right. I did get your Spencer in this and I will try to get him out. But, I need Charlie Epps. He’s a math professor at Cal Sci, or at least in my world he is. Get him here and the two of us can figure out how to reverse what we did.”
“Fine.” Aaron went to the cabinet and opened it. Spencer couldn’t help his curiosity as he looked inside. His eyes widened as he tried to identify all of the obvious BDSM equipment in there. Aaron turned and before he could protest a collar was wrapped around his neck. “This is one of Spencer’s first ones. It has a tracking device. It’s also lock-pick proof, so don’t even try it. I’ll know where you are at all times. It’s waterproof so you won’t have to take it off. Now, go shower and make sure you shave, at least your face for now. We’ll work out what to do about your body hair later. Then, in your closet, there is a light gray suit. Wear it with the lilac button up and the lilac accessories. Choose whatever cufflinks you want.”
Spencer moved his neck around trying to get used to the feeling of the collar and found that he didn’t like it at all. He knew, though, that he had to go along, at least for now. He scuttled into the bathroom and turned the water on hot. He needed the warmth because he felt so cold inside. He knew he was still riding that edge of the panic attack and needed to calm down. Taking his time he did what Aaron asked and shaved, which was fine with him, he hated having facial hair anyway. As he was shaving he wondered at just what Aaron meant about his body hair, he shivered slightly trying not to think about that. He didn’t want to take too long so he quickly finished-up and stepped out of the shower. Looking in the fogged-up mirror he wiped a hand across so he could see better.
“Well Spencer, when you fuck-up, you really fuck-up.” He hung his head a moment before taking a deep, steadying breath then dried off.
After getting out of the bathroom he strode across to the indicated closet and found the suit and other items Aaron told him to put on. He looked around for shoes and didn’t see any Converse or other casual shoes. He looked in each of the individual shoe drawers and found a pair of dark grey loafers. He put those on then walked back out to the bedroom. He stopped in his tracks and couldn’t help but admire Aaron in the obviously expensive suit that was cut just for him. His mouth went dry and he licked his lips trying not to lust after this man, but it was very difficult.
Spencer had been squinting, and though his eyesight wasn’t that bad, it was bad enough he was having trouble. He was startled when a pair of glasses were pressed into his hands. He put them on and though they weren’t his normal prescription he could see enough to get by, for now at least.
“Perfect.” Aaron curled his lip in a crooked smile. “Showtime Pet.” Aaron led Spencer out of the room and the younger man wondered just how long he was going to have to play along, And what he was going to have to do to survive.