Mark on Your Soul

Title: Mark on Your Soul
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: 2012 (S7 After Hit and Run but before S8)
Tags: Angst, Twisted, Messed Up Children,
Ratings: Explicit
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, David Rossi, Grant Anderson, Penelope Garcia,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: Some cases leave a mark on your soul, no matter the ending.
Words: 13,459
Notes: The children in this story are loosely based on The Good Son movie from years before. If you can’t stand twisted and psychopathic children, I would suggest skipping this story. Based off of the prompt: A psychotic killer gets more than he bargained for when the kids he planned on terrorizing turn out to be far more bloodthirsty than him from Tumblr.
Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Graphic Discussion of Child Rape, Graphic Discussion of Child Abuse, Children on Children Harm, Necrophilia, Discussion of Miscarriage,
Beta: Grammarly

“Virginia Beach has a problem,” Garcia said as she sat down in her chair that did not face the monitor. Aaron watched her face.

The door opened, and it drew everyone’s eyes to it. Standing in the doorway was Grant Anderson. Aaron waited for Anderson to nod.

“Welcome, Anderson. The seat beside Reid is open.” The chair that Aaron was talking about was between Spencer and Aaron, with an empty one beside it leaving an open space between Anderson and Aaron. “Team, filling the hole on our team for the next while is Anderson. We are still searching, but applications that pass my standard are few.”

“Welcome,” Spencer said with a grin in Anderson’s direction. Aaron was glad to see the smile. Spencer had not been happy with Prentiss leaving the team again, and after two disastrous agents that did not make it to two cases, Aaron thought that Anderson would be a good internet agent. Aaron didn’t want the team to pressure him to take the spot, so he was keeping it to himself that Anderson was able to join the team after his trial period.

“So what issues does Virginia Beach have?”

“Thirteen child abduction cases.”

“Thirteen and we are just hearing about it?” Aaron asked.

“Well ten of them are troubled kids who were thought to run away. Their belongings were gone, and notes left. And the children are from all over Virginia. Including one from the City of Quantico. Lieutenant Marshall Libert’s child went missing first. She was acting out since her father was deployed.”

“Then why does Virginia Beach have issues?”

“Because seven of the thirteen bodies were found along the beach this morning.” Garcia clicked to the next picture.

Aaron looked at the pictures. It was horrible but nothing worse than what they had seen before. That it was kids was horrifying, but Aaron wasn’t that horrified. Aaron had stopped being shocked by what people did to kids. Spencer started to flip through his file and pulled out the printed pictures. Garcia had tried again to make Spencer use a tablet, but he didn’t like it, and Aaron wasn’t going to force him to use it. Aaron understood Spencer’s reasoning, and he agreed with it.

“Can I use your tablet?” Spencer asked Anderson. Anderson handed it over and leaned over to look over Spencer’s shoulder as he scrolled through the file. Aaron watched Spencer spread his fingers to expand on something. He frowned and flipped through all seven of the close-up shots of the kids’ bodies. “Garcia, what was done to them?”

“There were signs of malnutrition, as well as physical abuse, and rape,” Aaron read off, keeping Garcia from having to say those words.

“How long were they kept?” Spencer asked.

“With the ten runaways that can’t really be provided as police can’t rule out that they ran away and the UnSub picked them up after. For the other three, he’s had them two weeks.”

“That’s not in this file,” Spencer said.

“No, the bodies were just identified in the past hour and the Virginia Beach PD hasn’t sent us the new files,” Aaron handed over the handwritten sheet he had made with the dates that each of the ten had supposedly run away as well as the time that the other three had been abducted. “We were called in because of seven bodies of children, and then when the matching up started, we were rushed into going. Wheels up as soon as everyone is on the jet. Pack for beach weather because it’s been in the nineties plus for the past week.”

Spencer looked at Aaron and nodded when Aaron finished speaking. Aaron had mainly been saying it to Spencer because he wore layers a lot and long sleeves.

“I’ll drive Anderson and me to the airstrip. I go over some things and start on a geographic profile based on the abduction dates and time with going with he abducted the runaways the day they went missing as well as just doing one on the three that we know were abducted.” Spencer stood up and gathered his files, tugging on Anderson’s arm. Anderson grinned as he followed Spencer out of the room.

“I didn’t realize that they were that close,” Morgan said.

“Yes, well no seems to have. Spencer and Anderson have been having platonic dates on Valentine’s Day since their first years on the team.”

“Interesting that they could hide that from everyone.” Dave looked thoughtful.

“I don’t think either one of them was actually hiding any of it. We can discuss Reid and his friends later. Right now, we have an UnSub to chase.

It only took the team long enough to grab their bags and get to the airstrip for them to get out of there. The jet was ready to go, and Spencer and Anderson were huddled together in the seats that Aaron and Spencer usually sat in. Aaron smiled at his lover and took the position across from Spencer. Anderson shoved a piece of paper across to Aaron as Aaron buckled up in the chair to get ready for takeoff. Spencer was writing something in his own shorthand that Aaron still had not learned any of. The rest of the team took seats all around, and the pilot let them know they were getting ready for takeoff. Virginia Beach wasn’t that far away, but it cut travel time in half to take the jet and every single second counted.

“This UnSub is all over the map,” Spencer said as he leaned back after the team had gathered on the couch. Dave took the seat next to Aaron and Morgan, and JJ took a spot on the couch.

“How so?”

“The victims range from age seven to fifteen. While the three that are older were killed, the other kids are between the ages of seven and ten. The seven who were killed range from seven to fifteen. He doesn’t follow a normal age range. Every single child was rape, male, female, teen, child, black, white, and Asian. We have to assume that the others are as well and that adds in Native American and Indian into the mix. The UnSub is either doing it because he doesn’t care about race or sex or he’s going out of his preferred sex and gender to make sure that we can’t track him.”

“Both are going to be hard to figure out before the other six are killed. The State Police are putting out a warning to all parents across the state, and the schools are being warned to make sure that the correct people are picking up kids. There is not a lot that can be done for children who walk or take the bus other than making sure that they stay in packs, that’s also being advised.” Aaron had got that email just minutes before he had arrived on the jet.

“So how are we doing the abduction sites?” Morgan asked. He looked down at his tablet. “We’ve never had a case this spread out before.”

“Locals are going to do live feeds for us. Of the houses where the children might have been taken from and where the three that we know about were abducted. It’s the easier and least consuming method considering that we would waste a lot of time in travel if we do it any other way. Each of the children’s towns has a dedicated officer for us throughout the rest of the case, Reid will give you their contact information and tell them each to get into contact with you if something changes. I would like you and Anderson to stay and work on compiling everything that we have already and figure out what he needs to figure out. Dave, Morgan, I want you two to go to the ME’s office and look at the bodies. JJ for this case given the scope, I need you to handle the media. Get press releases out to the whole state and just handle them. I will talk to the parents at the station. We have ten of the thirteen families on hand, and the other three will be arriving in the next few hours. We have a lot of ground to cover.”

Aaron looked each of the team in the eye, and when he landed on JJ, he saw that she was pensive. He hoped that she wasn’t going to fight him on this. He needed someone to handle the media because it was statewide at this point and the news crews for every location where a child had been taken as well as many national newspapers and stations were heading into Virginia Beach.

“We have rooms at a small bed and breakfast that sits right on the waterline. It was closed as the owner was doing some renovation in the dining room after a small fire, but as long as we stay out of there we have the run of the place, and we will be able to set up Reid and Anderson in a room. It actually sits next door to the police station and the officers at there a lot of meals. A small staff is being brought in to take care of the rooms and cook for us and the police. The staff jumped at a chance to make money, and with it being tourist season there were no rooms that were available close to the station and the beach that would be able to put us all next to each other much less on the same floor. Strauss has already approved it all. We are taking over the whole second floor while the third floor is where LEOs are going to go to crash to get sleep. There are three bedrooms, and one has a single queen bed. Speak now if two of you would rather share than have Spencer and I share.” Aaron looked at the team, and all of them were smirking. “I thought not. Now JJ since you are the only female at the moment, you get to pick who you room with.”

“Anderson.” JJ didn’t even take any time at all to make that decision. Aaron nodded at her.

“Then that leaves Dave and Morgan to share the last room. No killing each other.” Aaron let the laughter from the team die down before he spoke again. “The owner is turning over the use of her office on the second floor for you Spencer. That station we are going to be using is tiny, and they don’t have a conference room. So we will work mostly out of the sitting room in the B&B. It’s going to be small, but it’s the best that we have.”

“We land in just over forty minutes. Now is the time to clear your heads and start to think about the case.”

Dave, Morgan, and JJ got up to spread out in the jet while Spencer ducked his head back down to look at the papers he had. Aaron watched him interact with Anderson. It was interesting to see him interact with the other agent. Aaron hadn’t been able to see it. Anderson was standoffish when Spencer had invited him over for dinner at the house. He didn’t look at Aaron or talk to him unless he had to. Spencer was sure that it was just getting used to thinking of him as Aaron instead of Hotch and Aaron hoped that was all that it was. He didn’t want Spencer to lose his friend.

Aaron watched Spencer the entire flight, listening to the words that Anderson and Spencer batted back and forth as they narrowed down at least part of the geographic profile. Aaron felt his phone vibrate just as the call for seatbelts to get on again was called out. Spencer was packing up the papers and even stuck Anderson’s tablet into his messenger bag before sliding it down to rest at his feet.

Anderson seems to be taking to us like a duck to water.

Aaron looked up and turned in his seat, raising up enough to look at Dave and saw him grinning.

This is a trial run as him joining the team. He’s got some good instincts, and he has a degree in media relations as well as criminal justice. I think he would do well in JJ’s old position, but this case is not the one to use as a trial run. I needed someone experienced to handle the media, and I’ll be too busy coordinating with LEOs across the state to deal with it today.

Dave sent back that he agreed, but nothing else came from the man.

Three SUVs were waiting on them from the local field office, and Aaron and JJ took one while Morgan and Dave took another and Anderson got behind the wheel of the last one. Aaron, Spencer, Anderson, and JJ were all going to the same place. However, Aaron knew that JJ would be going to give a press conference and it was going to be at the town hall so she would need a vehicle as well as Aaron, Anderson, and Spencer if something else popped up.

“Hotch?” JJ asked as soon as Aaron got out of the airport and into traffic.

“Yes?” Aaron asked.

“You are only having me do this because you are going to be busy right?”

“Yes. I need someone experienced handling the media, and with all of the cross-state abductions, it would be hard for Garcia to do it as well as track down what we need. I’ve got my eye on getting someone else for the team to handle it, but this isn’t the kind of case I would want to drop them into it on. That would be more than dropping them into the deep end before they learned how to swim.”

“I agree. I was just a little shocked that you hadn’t asked me before in the room.”

“I was debating not asking you at all. You’ve got defensive in the past when I have asked you to do something media related when I didn’t have the time to do it, and I didn’t want that this time.”

“I’m sorry I have upset you before. I didn’t mean to.”

“You are a great profiler, JJ but you learned that skill being around the team and doing the job with us. We never discounted your opinions even though you had never had a single lick of training in it before you became a profiler. We listened to you just as much as we listened to each other. If you had wanted a stronger role in things, you could have asked, and I would have granted it as long as it didn’t interfere with your media liaison position.”

“Rossi offered me the position, and it wasn’t until then that I truly realized that I didn’t want to be the media liaison anymore.”

“I understand.”


Aaron was the last driver in the procession out of the airport. Spencer was in the lead and about halfway to the station, Morgan, and Dave peeled off in a different direction to get to the MEs office. Aaron closed the gap between him and Spencer and wasn’t shocked when Spencer took the spot farthest from the doors that were open in the whole of the parking lot. Aaron grinned and parked beside him.

Spencer was out of the SUV, talking with Anderson about what Jack had done with Gibbs that weekend for his learning wood carving. Aaron hadn’t regretted it when Spencer brought up the subject of asking Gibbs if he would do it after they had found out that Jack had been sneaking over to Gibb’s house to watch him.

“The press conference that is going to happen in two hours is at the town hall,” Aaron said as he pulled the keys from the ignition and handed them over to JJ. “You’ll go alone unless you want to take Anderson with you.”

“No, no I’m fine to go alone. I’ll work on talking to the officers who are here and the press agent for the LEOs. See what they have released and what they have not.”

“They are releasing none of the names for the children until tonight that will be done on air after it’s made sure that all family is notified. I’ve already talked with the news anchor that is going to be doing it, and she will be doing it from the station while talking to you and I. We will both be in the headlines for this case. I want to keep Spencer at the station as much as possible if for no other reason than I want him to be the one that gets all of the information. I don’t want him missing a single thing.”

“His brains are going to be needed to keep thirteen victims in check in all of our data. This is one of those cases that I am not sure that he’s ever going to be able to get the information out of his head.”

“I worry about that all the time.” Aaron opened his door and stepped out. Someone would go at some point and do a drop off of things at the B&B next door, but right now they needed to get on the ground running on the case. They were behind a lot from where they would typically be.

“I’ll call Garcia and see what she can track down as far as cameras go for the streets with the kids who were considered runaways.”

“That’s a good place to start. Make sure that Garcia contacts all of the LEOs as she is doing it.”

JJ gave Aaron a thumbs up as she held the phone up to her ear. Aaron grabbed his briefcase from the backseat and started into the station. He opened the door to let himself when he saw Spencer coming toward him with two boxes, Anderson was behind him with two more, and there was an officer with a dolly that had five on it behind him. Aaron held the door open.

“We are going straight to the B&B. Officer Lewellen here has a key to let us in. He’s also going to get our bags from the car. The station has also loaned us a laptop that we can hook up and use to talk to anyone who is here as well as Garcia in Quantico.” Spencer looked a little like a kid in a candy store with the look he was giving the boxes. Aaron knew that he liked a paper trail and had learned long ago not to pay attention to the manic look in his eye when it came to them. It reminded Aaron that the case with Riley Jenkins when he was a child was the source of Spencer wanting to get into the BAU, Gideon was just the method in which he had been exposed to it.

Everyone on the team had a reason, some more evident than the others but before that case in Vegas, Aaron had never figured out Spencer’s. It had been like a shining beacon after that.

Three hours later, the whole team minus JJ was in the sitting room of the B&B. Aaron was looking at the walls that had been covered in four different maps of the various counties in the state that had children kidnapped from them. It painted a gruesome picture and Aaron wasn’t sure what could be found about it. None of the counties touched each other. It was hard to see anything that remotely looked like a comfort zone. Aaron wasn’t sure what most of the pins were.

“Reid?” Aaron asked.

“Sorry. This last pin is giving me fits.” Spencer tracked on the map with a compass and then stuck a blue pin into the spot.

“You know I thought that I was good at reading your maps, Reid but this one…There is nothing on it that I recognize.”

“No, you wouldn’t. This one is all in my head, and really I’m not shocked that you can’t figure it out. What we have figured out thought between Anderson, Garcia, and I is that none of the kids were runaways. Each of the areas where the children lived had cameras at intersections for various reasons. Or neighbors cameras, or any other string of cameras. No children that matched the description of the victims were seeing leaving on their own two feet. But there was a single van that left just before dawn for all thirteen locations, and the only thing that we know is that there were two males in the driver’s seat but due to the images that Garcia could get, at least four men were doing the kidnapping.”

“How did you figure that out?”

“One of the driver’s for the first three children that were kidnapped was one armed. He was not wearing a prosthetic of any kind, and so his shirt was sagging. There is another man that is almost the exact same height as that man, and then there were two other, one taller and one shorter. They were wearing what I am going to assume is pantyhose as it masked their features like it, but they had eye cut out of it.”

“The ME found no fibers, prints, or DNA of any kind on the bodies. There was spermicide in each of the kids though, in all three orifices on the females and two on the males,” Dave said.

“There was evidence that a mouth spreader was used on at least two of the kids to hold their mouths open. It was hard to tell on the rest of the kids because the abuse damaged their faces too much.” Morgan looked like he would rather be anywhere other than where he was.

“There was also evidence that the youngest boy who died, the seven-year-old was molested after he died. More than once,” Dave said.

Aaron felt his stomach rolling at that. The whole room was silent. It was shattered when JJ entered with a group of detectives and officers behind her.

“There has been another body dump. Three more at a section of beach three miles down the road. A secluded privately owned beach. They are holding the scene for us.”

Aaron rolled over in bed and looked at Spencer who looked like he was dead asleep on the other side of the bed but he knew it was a lie. Neither of them was sleeping. It was just after four and Aaron had woke a half an hour before from a nightmare where every single victim in the case they were working had the face of Jack. Aaron had not talked to Spencer about how he was doing with the situation. Aaron was almost afraid to ask. Aaron wanted him to be just as messed up as he was but was worried that it wasn’t messing with Spencer. Aaron knew that Spencer loved Jack in his own way, but the thought that he could not be as attached as Jack was to him would be hard to take.

Before Aaron could reach out, Spencer shot up off the bed. He ran to his go bag and grabbed clothes and started to throw them. The first thing was a pair of jeans and the second was a polo that Aaron had never seen him wear before. Aaron sat up, but Spencer was gone before Aaron could even ask what was going on. Aaron got off the bed at a slower pace than Spencer, not able to move that quick after lying in bed all of the night.

Anderson was in the sitting room with a cup of coffee in his hand when Aaron finally made it down to the sitting room. There was a new map that covered the entire state. Spencer was standing at it with a black marker and an orange highlighter stuffed in his teeth. There was a reason that no one used Spencer’s map things. Almost all of them ended up in his mouth at one point or another.


“I came down to get a snack because I was hungry and the owner said there would be snacks out throughout the night in here. I had a cookie in my mouth when he rushed in here so fast that he almost tripped over his feet to get to the board. He dug through the bag he stores his markers and things in until he found those two. He then grabbed that map and hung it up. He’s said nothing at all.”

Aaron stepped up behind Spencer, seeing that all of the abduction sites had been marked on it and with the highlighter, Spencer was connecting them. After the third, Aaron reached for his phone and sent a text to the team to get down into the sitting room. Aaron turned around to Anderson.

“Might want to turn on that third coffee pot and get some coffee for everyone. Is there enough snacks for everyone to get something in their belly?”

“She made cookies and scones just in case we would get up before she got here to make breakfast.”

“Good.” Aaron turned to find the scones and picked up two and set them on a plate. He settled in on the table beside where Spencer was and broke one of the scones into bite-sized pieces. Aaron tapped Spencer’s free hand, and when Spencer held it out, Aaron dropped a bit into it. Aaron found Anderson’s mug and took a sip of the coffee and frowned because he was right that he and Spencer made their coffee the exact same way. Aaron handed that over next. Spencer took a sip before he set it down and held out his hand for another bite of scone. Aaron popped one into his hand. Aaron settled back to work on his own scone.

Anderson came back into the room with a mug in each hand. He handed one to Aaron before taking a sip of the other.

“I figured that he would steal it or you would give it to him. Do you know what he is doing?”

“He’s figured out something that has to do with the abduction areas and math I would assume by the pauses are him figuring out something to do with math.”

“Seeing him do upper-level math with no pencil and paper is still very shocking.”

Anything else was stopped when the rest of the team shuffled in. All of them were in different clothes but looked like they were still asleep. Anderson got up, and Aaron followed him after dropping another bite of scone in Spencer’s hand. Aaron helped Anderson get the cups for the other set up as well as getting new pots started. Aaron fixed a second cup for Spencer.

When Aaron entered the room again with the tray of coffee, he saw that Spencer had indeed stolen Anderson’s other cup, so Aaron passed the new cup to Anderson and then started to feed Spencer again.

“That’s not something he was working on last night,” JJ said.

“No, no it’s not. He was laying in bed and then bolted up and was gone before I could ask him what was up.

“So we have an issue,” Spencer said as he hung up a piece of paper.

“What?” Aaron, Morgan, and Anderson asked at the same time.

“The three newest kids were not dumped by the UnSubs, or at least not solely dumped by the UnSubs,” Spencer said before he turned around to face the team.

“How do you know that?”

“Last night just before we left, the cops responded to a call of a dead body. I didn’t think anything of it, but I guess I saw the photo that had been sent because it hit me when I saw it. The man with the one arm is dead and was dumped at the edge of town. The three newest bodies are more…” Spencer cocked his head to the side as he thought about what word he wanted to use. “Violated. I couldn’t figure it out until I realized that of the initial dump only a single child had been raped post mortem, but all three of the newest dump had been. How could one of the UnSub’s hold himself so long with fond for necrophilia.”

“Then who is it?”

“I would say the same person that killed the UnSub whose body was dumped. There is a single fifteen-year-old, an eleven-year-old, and a seven-year-old left out of the original thirteen who were kidnapped.”

“You think the fifteen-year-old is the one who is doing it?”

“If not then they added another UnSub to their group. I called the station, and a LEO is gathering everything they have on the body that they found, and I’ll see if my hypothesis is correct, however, that also led to something else.” Spencer stepped away from the map and saw that it was an incomplete circle. “I know where the fourteenth child is going to be kidnapped from.”

“That’s not that far from here.”

“No, the UnSubs were sophisticated enough to not take them in order. They jumped around and took them very much out of order. I didn’t put it together until I was almost asleep again after waking up. Given the points that the other correlate to, I have the next abduction down to a single mile diameter. It’s not as close as I would like but it’s as good as it gets.”

“I want everyone there,” Aaron said as he grabbed his scone and finished it off. He downed his coffee and looked at Spencer for a few seconds before handing the plate over with the rest of the bites of scone. “Reid, do you want to stay here or go to the town?”

“There is nothing else I can do here with what we have, and that mile radius is just seven miles away. It’s early so everyone should still be home. You will need the bodies on the ground if we are going to do a door to door.”

“We will call in anyone that we can spare from the city. I’ll call the Sheriff. I want everyone invests.”

“Yes, Hotch,” Anderson said as he finished draining his coffee.

Aaron knocked on the house door that was the only one with a light on inside. A frantic woman answered the door.

“That was quick, I just called.”

“Just called who Ma’am?” Aaron asked.

The woman actually looked at him, seeing the FBI label on his bulletproof vest.

“The police. My son is not in bed where he should be. He was when I went to sleep last night. I got up to get ready for work, and he’s gone.”

“How old is he?”

“Eight, his name is Jacob.”

“Ma’am, I’m going to leave you here with Agent Anderson here, and he’s going to take your statement.” Aaron swallowed hard. He had hoped that they would get there before

“Hotch!” Spencer called out over the radios. Aaron knew that he was three blocks over on his search.

“Here,” Aaron said.

“We have a second UnSub except this time the man came up to me and asked if I was looking for the people who are taking kids from across the state. When I said yes, he dropped to his knees with his hands out like he wanted to be cuffed.”

“Get him in the back of your car.”

“I’ll meet you at the station.”

“I have the house where the newest victim was taken from.”

It was half an hour before Aaron was actually able to make it back to the station. Spencer had the UnSub locked in an interrogation room, but no one had talked to him yet. Aaron knew that an UnSub turning himself in was never useful for the investigation. It was meant to confuse them and give the other time to get away, but the way that he had turned himself in was very different than anything else that he had ever seen.

Spencer was outside the room, looking through the glass at the UnSub. Aaron watched him for a few minutes as Spencer sipped at a cup of coffee and ate what looked like a doughnut. As if he realized that he was being watched, Spencer turned to look at him.

“He’s been silent after he asked his first and only question.”

“Well, they are never really chatty Kathy’s.” Aaron stepped up to look at the UnSub. “Has he been printed?”

“Yes, Alonso Flowers. He’s been charged once with child molestation and abuse but the child refused to speak about it, and the jury didn’t find him guilty. He’s exactly the same height of Robertson, the one-armed man.”

A quote from The Fugitive popped into Aaron’s head but he didn’t say it out loud. He wasn’t sure that Spencer would get it. He would have sit Spencer down to see if he had seen it and if not they would have to watch it.

“So why do you think that he turned himself in?” Aaron asked.

“Because I think that what he’s going to get in prison, he doesn’t get convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, is going to be less than what he was going through.”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s…injured. He refused to go to the hospital, but when I was putting him in the back of the squad car that came to get him, he was sitting like he had been roughed up and possibly raped. I found no blood on the seat in the SUV or in the squad car.”

“Do you think that the other UnSubs turned on him and he ran?”

“I don’t know. Or the fifteen-year-old could have done something. Leland Rogers was a linebacker. He was built like it as well. It’s part of why he was not believed to have been abducted. He’s fifteen and already at six feet tall, and his parents shared that they started to suspect that he was taking steroids. Flowers is refusing his right to counsel and has already said that he would take life in prison with no possibility of parole if he’s kept away from the other men who did this and out of gen pop. The local DA has been told, and she’s going over it with her bosses at the moment. He’s willing to talk without the DA present. ”

“How do you want to do this?” Aaron asked.

“I figured that we could both be good cops this time. We can see who he responds to better and play it all by ear.”

Aaron nodded and waved for Spencer to enter the room first. Spencer shoved the last of the doughnut into his mouth and grabbed the can of pop, and a box of doughnuts that Aaron hadn’t even realized was on the table in the viewing room. Spencer set the pop down in front of Flowers and opened it before setting down the doughnuts and taking one for himself. He scooted the box over to Flowers. Flowers eyed it, but after a few seconds, he grabbed one from the box. The glazed. Aaron shrugged his shoulders and grabbed one of the cake doughnuts that had cinnamon sugar on it. Aaron bit into it and found that it was better than most of the doughnut he ate on cases.

“So, Mr. Flowers, why did you turn yourself in?” Spencer asked as he sat down. He had a stack of napkins in his hands. He scooted one over to Flowers and passed one to Aaron.

“Because I’m safer here than there.”

“Why?” Aaron asked.

Flowers looked at Aaron and then looked at Spencer before he answered, staring at Spencer the whole time.

“It was all good. He had plans, take the kids and then do what we wanted with them before dumping them in the ocean seventy miles out. It was all going so well until we took that last boy.” Flowers never looked away from Spencer.

Aaron kept his words to himself at the moment. If Flowers was opening up to Spencer, Aaron wasn’t going to stop that.

“Leland?” Spencer asked.

“Yeah, I guess that’s his name. The football player.”

“Yes, Leland is his name. So what did he do?”

“What didn’t he do? It started out fun to have the other kids in the room when we took turns at them. Before they were all separated but that wasn’t as much fun as making them watch what we did to the others and knowing it was going to happen to them. For the biters, we had small spreaders to make sure they couldn’t bite our cocks off. Then we started to realize that the football player liked it too much. He was enjoying watching. Robbie-”

“The one-armed man?” Spencer asked interrupting Flowers.

“Yeah, Robertson, just called him Robbie. Anyway, he gets the idea to unchain the football player and seeing what he would do to the little girl. It was horrifying, and even I didn’t want to watch. She didn’t live through it. The others found it funny. This kid was just as fucked up as us but he’s worse. He’s so much worse than us. Robbie learned that when the kid took a baseball bat to him for taking away his toy.”

“The boy who was raped after he was dead.”

“Yes. Then tonight we came to get the last kid, and I heard the football player discussing with the two remaining kids what he had planned.”

“Why was he discussing it with the two other kids?” Spencer asked.

“Because we three weren’t going to make it out alive, just like Robbie. They wanted to kill us after the new kid was brought back just to watch how we do it and then keep on going. I tried to tell the others, but they didn’t believe me. They called me crazy. They laughed at me. I decided that maybe I would be better off in the hands of you guys instead of where those crazy fucking kids could find me.”

Aaron looked at Spencer, but Spencer was looking at the UnSub. Aaron could tell that Spencer believed him. Aaron wasn’t so sure, but he knew what quote Spencer would use to justify it. He was good at that and Aaron wasn’t going to fight him.

“So where are they?” Spencer asked.

“I don’t know exactly. I can give you the address of the warehouse that we were using, but if they realize that I went to you, they could be anywhere. With only one kid fighting it wouldn’t take long to get them mobile again.” Flowers swallowed like he was scared.

Spencer stood up and stepped outside of the room. He came back just seconds later with a notepad and a pencil. He slid them over to Flowers.

“Write down where they are and what kind of measures you guys took to make sure that you would know if the cops found you.”

“That would have been Robbie, he was our lookout. After that, it was just the walls and escape routes. I can give you those so that you can watch them. I want to warn you…the little seven-year-old that is left. She is twisted up inside man. All three of them are. They need help and what we did to them made them worse.”

Aaron nodded at Spencer when he looked at him. Flowers wrote down nearly a page full of information.

“What about weapons?” Aaron asked.

Flowers looked at Spencer who just stared at Flowers. “No guns, just knives. We ran out of bullets for the gun, and it was too risky to go and get more. Unless they decided to do it after I ran. Only a single though .44 Magnum. It was Robbie’s.” Flowers wrote down the weapons next.

“The DA will be in to talk with you about your deal. I’d give her as much information as she wants or you might go to death row,” Spencer said as he stood up. He picked up the notepad and ripped the two pages off that they needed. “I’d start on your confession now. Every single thing that you did to those thirteen kids. Don’t embellish. Then start to write down everything that the other three did to them as well as what the three kids who are alive have done to the dead kids. I want it all. Every single nasty detail.”

“Sure, man. Sure.” Flowers picked up the pencil, but Spencer handed over a pen.

“Let’s do a pen with this that way no one can say we messed up the confession. One of the officers is going to join you in here. If you are hungry or thirsty, tell him, and he’ll get you whatever you want.”

“What’s your name?” Flowers asked.

“Spencer Reid,” Spencer answered.

Flowers looked at Aaron. “And you, Sir?”

“Agent Aaron Hotchner.”

“Oh…is he not an agent?” Flowers asked looking at Spencer again.

“He is, but he also holds PhDs. So usually he introduces himself as Doctor Reid.”

“Yeah, I would too. He looks like a kid.”

Aaron wanted to grab Spencer’s arm and tug him out of the room so that the horrible man in front of them couldn’t eye Spencer any longer. Spencer leaned on the table though and got down to where his eyes were level with Flowers. He had a wicked look on his face.

“You wouldn’t have been able to handle me even when I was a teenager.” Spencer straightened up and turned to leave the room as fast as he could. Aaron followed behind.

“I’ll be on guard duty. Why are you allowing food and drink?” one of the officers asked. There were two in the room. Aaron looked and saw that they had the same last name of Yeater. Yet they looked nothing alike.

“Because right now he is the best bet at finding the UnSubs if they have fled with the kids. I’m not taking his word on what he said, but he’s already agreed to life in prison without parole and so no matter what we have him. Being nice and giving in a little for food and drink only helps us in the long run.”

“I made a copy of the audio so far and forwarded it to your analyst. She called the main line and was asking for you, Agent Hotchner. She agreed that she would wait until you were done.”

“I’ll call her from the SUV,” Spencer said.

“Sounds good. I want us mobile in minutes. Officers Yeater, you two are in charge of making sure that nothing happens to the UnSub.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The warehouse itself was ghastly looking. There were three floors to it, and on the second and first floor, almost all of the windows were busted out. On the third floor, only some were, showing the determination of kids who were being rambunctious. Between the LEOs and other FBI agents that were pulled from the local field office, there were enough men and women scattered around the building that no one was going to escape. Aaron’s team was going in first followed by four SWAT teams, two from the local office and two from the LEOs. It was a full breach, and so far, Aaron was sure that no one knew they were there.

The UnSubs were stupid enough to not set up cameras, and if Flowers was to be believed, they were holed up in the middle of the third floor, there were was a veritable honeycomb of rooms. They had studied a layout of the rooms that were all over, and as much as Aaron hated it, Spencer was going to be on point for this one. He knew the best way to make it up to the third floor and the rooms they wanted the quickest. SWAT was going to do room to room searches all the way up while Aaron’s team just went right for the victims. SWAT wasn’t happy, but they understood why. The only person left to save was the newest abductee if Flowers was right that the three other victims had developed some form of Stockholm syndrome.

“You know Hotch, I remember that movie, The Good Son from years ago,” Morgan said as he stepped up to stand beside Aaron while strapping on his vest. “Never really thought we would ever find a kid like that.”

“Yeah,” Aaron answered.

“Agent Hotchner, we are good for breach, my teams are all in position,” the head of SWAT said as he looked up from the screen of the mobile command center. It was around the side of another building that kept it hidden from sight. Everyone had arrived silently with no lights and no sirens. “Your agents all have canisters to help if needed.”

“Good. We breach on my word.” Aaron patted Morgan’s shoulder as he passed him. Aaron knew that this case would bring up bad memories for the agent, but there was little that Aaron could besides be there if Morgan wanted to talk.

Five minutes later, Aaron was nodding at Spencer to pick the lock on the door they were entering through. It was a trick that Aaron was glad to know someone on the team had, but he hadn’t really expected it to be Spencer. Morgan maybe, Dave yes, Prentiss maybe but not Spencer. Aaron hadn’t asked again where Spencer learned it because he had gone off on a tangent about how hard it was to learn at the age of ten.

The door popped open, and Spencer was careful about opening it. It made no sound. Aaron slipped into position behind him, and Aaron felt Morgan get behind him. They all slipped inside quietly, and when the last team member was in, the door was mostly shut that way inside light didn’t get out, just in case someone looked out a window.

Spencer’s path was perfect. They were able to all surround the set of rooms that Flowers had said were where they were keeping the kids. Six entry doors were open with another three being blocked from the outside. According to flowers, that’s the rooms they split the kids up into.

“Go,” Aaron said into the mic on his cuff. Aaron turned the knob on his door, and it opened with no noise at all. The hinges were well cared for. Easier for the UnSubs to sneak up on the kids. Aaron heard crying as he neared the first room closest to the one that he entered. He slowly crept for that door and waited to listen. There was only soft crying. Aaron eased the door open, kind of shocked to find it unlocked and laying on a bloody mattress was Jacob. Jacob flinched as Aaron closed the door behind him. There was full light on in the room so Aaron could see the kid. He was naked and covered in cuts and bruises. Aaron swallowed to stop himself from crying out. Aaron holstered his gun and crouched down.

“Please, don’t,” Jacob whispered.

“Jacob, my name is Aaron. I work for the FBI. See.” Aaron leaned back so that Jacob could see his vest. Jacob opened his eyes, and he started to cry. “Am I allowed to pick you up??”

“Yes,” Jacob said.

“You are a very brave boy,” Aaron said as he leaned over to pick the boy up in a bridal carry. Jacob flinched when Aaron touched him, even though he tried to be gentle. There was no way not to hurt him. Aaron leaned back and quickly stripped off his vest. “I’m going to take my shirt off so that you can have something warm and clean around you. Is that okay?”

“I guess.” Jacob sniffled and wiped at his running nose and eyes with his hands. It had only been three hours since Aaron had talked to Jacob’s mother. So much damage done in so little time.

Aaron worked his dress shirt off thankful that he had worn an undershirt even with the weather. Aaron helped Jacob sit up and get his arms into the shirt. When Aaron buttoned it up, he saw fresh blood on the mattress coming from Jacob’s thigh area. Aaron knew that he would have to carry him bridal style because holding him up by his rear end was going to hurt a lot worse. Jacob was silent this time as Aaron touched him. Aaron could feel how tense he was.

“I have Jacob, and I’m taking him out,” Aaron said, and he wasn’t shocked that he didn’t get a response. The others were still searching an anything could give them away. “Jacob this is going to hurt, and I’m sorry.”

“I can take the pain, just get me away.”

Aaron nodded and didn’t answer at all. He started out the door. It felt like it took three times as long for Aaron to get out of the building than it had for him to get into it. When he was out the door, he was met with an EMT. Aaron shook his head as the EMT offered to take him. The EMT nodded grimly and escorted Aaron to the ambulance that was near the mobile command center. Aaron laid Jacob on the gurney that was outside of it.

“Jacob do you want me to stay with you or go back inside and help my team?” Aaron asked.

Before Jacob could answer, Aaron heard a gun go off.

“Suspect down,” Spencer said, his voice calm and very detached.

“Do they need you?” Jacob said looking at the edge of the building that could be seen from where they were.

“Need, probably not. Do you need me?”


“Then this is where I am going to stay. We need to get you to the hospital. I’ll be your escort. I just need to go talk to a man real quick, and I’ll be right back.”

“No one but you can touch me.”

“You got it, Son,” the EMT said with a forced smile on his face.

Aaron walked away from the gurney to head to the command center.

“I have the child. Do you know who was shot?”

“The fifteen-year-old boy. Your Agent Reid found him in a very compromising position. He relayed what he found over the private channel since you had the boy. He didn’t want the boy to hear it.”

“What kind of compromising position?” Aaron asked.

“Another of the kidnappers is dead, and Leland was having sex with the corpse. Your agent told him to stand down, and Leland jumped at him with a knife. He went for a kill shot.”

“Leland was a linebacker and possibly on steroids.”

“Final UnSub found but no trace of the other two kids, Hotch.” Morgan’s voice was calm. “UnSub is dead. We will continue to search.”

“Good,” Aaron said raising his mic up. “I’m going with Jacob to the hospital.”

“I’ll take over here,” Morgan said.

“Good. Text me when the other two kids are found.”

Aaron nodded at the SWAT commander and then left. Jacob was still on the gurney but looking around with his eyes. His face broke into a grin when he saw Aaron, but it faded as it hurt him because of the cuts and bruises on his face.

The ride to the closest hospital was quick, and Aaron was glad when a team of all female doctors and nurses exited the emergency bay doors. Aaron rode with Jacob all the way to the trauma room and stayed beside the bed, holding his hand as the nurses took pictures and swabs of every single cut. A nurse held up a light that Aaron knew well as well as a speculum. Aaron had heard that the mother had to be sedated when the condition of her son had been relayed to her but before that, she had given the hospital consent to do whatever tests they needed to do on him.

“Your mom has already consented to this, Jacob but we aren’t going to make you do this right now if you don’t want to. The doctor here though needs to look inside of you…back where you are really hurt. Is that okay?”

“Will you hold my hand?”

“I’ll stay right here.” Aaron got closer to the bed and leaned his hip on the side. He leaned back on the bed to kind of lay with Jacob and wrapped an arm around Jacob’s head before taking the child’s hand.

Aaron started to whisper to Jacob what was happening every single second that he was given the rape exam as well as the collection of evidence from him. The doctor had numb him up as well as she could with locals, but still, Jacob flinched every so often.

“You are such a brave boy, Jacob. I’m so proud of you.”

The doctor stood up after ten minutes and took off her gloves and the mask she was wearing. She stepped up to Jacob’s other side.

“Jacob you are some sores and wounds inside of you that I need to take care of, but first I need to make sure that you are clean. I can put you out for it. Make it so that you sleep and don’t feel what I am doing.”

“Will you stills stay?” Jacob asked.


“Then she can do it. As long as you stay.”

The doctor and smiled at Jacob. Aaron still had his vest on so while the doctor was getting the IV fluid set up to put him out, Aaron stripped it off. His gun was in a bag across the room along with his mic and other things like his handcuffs. Aaron tossed the vest over to the bag and pulled his phone from his pocket. There was a single text from Spencer that read that the two other children were in custody and that they would be arriving at the hospital soon.

Aaron focused on Jacob the whole time, but he couldn’t miss the person that was brought in who was screaming like a banshee. The sound got closer and closer, and Aaron looked up to see Spencer and Morgan walking beside a gurney each. The one that was even with Spencer had a kid on it, and that kid was fighting the restraints and screaming. Aaron couldn’t tell if it was the seven or the eleven-year-old and he really didn’t care.

Jacob’s mother arrived while the doctor was working on getting his cuts on his body stitched or glued shut after cleaning them up. She was crying so hard, and Aaron held her close while she stared at her kid. This was always the worst part of the case. Telling a parent that a child was dead was hard, and they had done more than their fair share of those notifications over the past few days. But having to explain to parents what their child had gone through and lived through so that they could help them heal hurt worse.

Aaron wasn’t looking forward to telling the parents of the last three kids the truth. If the two who were still alive behavior matched up with what Flowers said, those kids would probably not see the outside of a psych ward for a long time, if ever. Aaron was kind of glad that Leland wasn’t alive. The parents were going to have enough trouble without going through a trial and have every single second of what their son had done to other children and adults heard word for word.

The door to the room opened up as the mother disengaged from Aaron. She walked to her son’s bed and brushed the hair back from his forehead. Spencer entered along with a nurse and a doctor. Aaron could see scratch marks on Spencer’s face and down his arms. Aaron raised an eyebrow at him.

“I had the displeasure of finding the seven-year-old. She was hiding up on a bookshelf that was attached to the wall, and she jumped on me. Got some good scratches in before I could throw her off of me. First time I have ever cuffed a kid that young. How is Jacob?” Spencer was whispering so that he wouldn’t bother the mother or have her hear what was happening.

“Asleep right now. They have him under while they take care of his anal tearing,” Aaron whispered.

Spencer stood with his arm out letting the doctor clean up the cut and start to apply a white cream to it before wrapping it in gauze. It was repeated on the next arm as well. Spencer’s face though was too scratched, and after cleaning it, bandages were applied to as many of them as they could get.

“Think I should get one of those Phantom of the Opera masks?”

Aaron gave Spencer a weak smile.

“I promised Jacob I would be here when he woke up.”

“That’s good. He’s going to need a lot of help to get through all of this. The eleven-year-old kept a diary. I read it while riding in the back of the ambulance with the seven-year-old. It’s…gruesome. The UnSubs had the worst luck in the world when finding these kids. The last UnSub that was alive was hiding. As soon as he saw Anderson he gave himself up. I figure that he’ll try for a plea deal as well. I fully believe that if the one UnSub hadn’t have run to us, the kids would have killed all four of them and just kept on with the ruse.”

“What are the odds that the UnSubs would have found three of fourteen kids to be exactly like them?”

“Astronomical and the painkillers that the doc injected me with are kind of stopping me from getting you the exact odds but ask me tomorrow, and I’ll tell you.”

“I don’t need the exact odds. So which one was the mathematical genius?”

“The second dead one according to Flowers.” Spencer rolled his head on his shoulders, and Aaron heard the crack and winced as Spencer did.

“Head back to the B&B and start cleaning up the paper you put everywhere.”

“Yes, Sir,” Spencer said with a smirk.

Aaron wanted to give him a kiss on the cheek, but he didn’t. Not in the middle of the ER at a hospital like they were. The look that Spencer gave him said that Spencer wanted the same. It was enough.

Jacob woke up an hour later, once the doctor was sure that she had him as stitched up as he could get. Aaron knew that blood had been drawn on him. There was plenty of evidence that after the first seven bodies, no one had used condoms. Aaron had already submitted for the ME to do work ups on all of the bodies for anything that could be caught through sexual or blood contact. Aaron really hoped that none of them had anything that couldn’t be easily cured.

“See I stayed,” Aaron said from his perch in the chair beside the bed. Jacob’s mother was getting them both something to eat. The doctor wanted him to eat. Jacob wasn’t going to be released for a few days, making sure that no infection or disease had set in the time that he had been in the hands of his abusers.

“You did.”

“So Jacob, what do you like to do?”

“I like to read. Mom bought me a Kindle so that I could take my books everywhere with me.” Jacob’s face clouded over a little bit as he talked about it. Aaron wasn’t sure what that meant.

“That’s good. I like reading, too. Right now I am reading through a science fiction series that my partner loves. It’s a little dry for my tastes, but I can see why he likes it.”

“Where does your partner work?”

Before Aaron could answer, there was a knock at the door. Jacob tensed on the bed, but Aaron laid a hand on his shoulder, gently so that he wouldn’t hurt any of the sores on his body.

“I’ll see who that is.” Aaron stood up and walked over to the door. The curtains were all pulled to give Jacob some privacy. The press was being stupid in Aaron’s opinion about everything. The team was keeping him updated on what was going on, and Aaron was glad that JJ was handling the media in all of its forms. Aaron saw that it was Spencer. He turned back to look at Jacob. “It’s one of my agents, Jacob. Would you like me to step out and talk to him or have him come into your room.”

“He can come in.”

“Hello, Hotch. I brought breakfast for you from a little diner close to here, and I have a present for Jacob.”

“A present for me?” Jacob tried to sit up in the bed, and Aaron darted over to have him lay back down.

“You need to move slowly, or you are going to pop your stitches.” Aaron sat down on the edge of Jacob’s bed as Spencer shut the door behind him. He had his messenger bag slung over one shoulder and a tray of drinks in that hand while a bag was in the other.

“So I ran into your mom, Jacob and she’s going to eat her breakfast down in the cafeteria to give us a few minutes to talk. I have breakfast for you here. You do like blueberry pancakes don’t you?”

“I do. Is that my present?”

“No, that’s just me taking care of you. No, you’ll get your present after you eat as much breakfast as you can.” Spencer set the food and drinks down on the table that he then pushed over to where it hung over the top of Jacob in the bed. Aaron helped Jacob get settled up on his bottom. There was a hiss of pain from the movement, but Jacob settled down quickly. Aaron would ask about one of those donut pillows so that Jacob could not put pressure on his sore bottom.

Aaron dug into the bag of food. There was an S on the top of the top box, so Aaron slid it over to Spencer. Spencer smiled at him and disappeared to dig into his messenger bag. A present that was wrapped in bright purple and pink paper was pulled out and set down beside Jacob’s calves. Aaron found his food next and settled it into his lap until he was done in the bag. The next had a J on it. Aaron opened it up to see that all of the food was already cut up into pieces that were bite sized. There were bacon and sausage as well as scrambled eggs and what looked like two really huge pancakes.

“Mister Aaron, you didn’t answer my question.”

“Oh, no Aaron why would you not answer his question?” Spencer asked.

“Because someone interrupted me. Now, what was the question again?” Aaron asked.

Spencer leaned over and mocked whispered into Jacob’s ear. “He gets forgetful in his older age.”

“I heard that Spencer,” Aaron growled but Jacob laughing was worth it. Aaron’s heart constricted at the pure happiness that was on Spencer’s face because of Aaron giving in to his play with Jacob.

“I asked you where your partner works. I heard you and mom talking about how you travel a lot. You can’t see him that much.”

“Well, you see Jacob I do get to see him a lot because we work together.”

Spencer set a cup of what smelled like a mocha latte in front of Aaron, and then a cup was placed in front of Jacob. It had a bendy straw in it so that Jacob wouldn’t have to reach up and grab it. Aaron or Spencer could hold it for him to sip it.

“What are you drinking Mister Spencer?”

“I got myself milk. I got you chocolate milk, and Mister Aaron has a latte, which is coffee.”

“What did you get to eat?”

“The same as you. It’s my favorite meal. Outside of what my partner makes for lasagna. It’s excellent.”

Jacob looked between the two of them, back and forth, back and forth before his mouth dropped open. Spencer shushed him and stabbed a fork into the pancakes before waving for Jacob to dig in. Jacob picked up the fork, and a little bit of syrup tried to drip off. Jacob shoved that into his mouth so that he didn’t lose it. Jacob focused on eating then, so Aaron and Spencer dug into their food. Spencer had got Aaron eggs, toast, hash browns, and a small cup of oatmeal. It was something light but filling.

Spencer was done first, and he settled back into his chair to look at Jacob.

“Do you have any kids, Mister Aaron?” Jacob asked.

“I do a little boy around your age, his name is Jack.”

“And do you love him?” Jacob asked.

Aaron started to answer but realized that Jacob was looking at Spencer and not him. Aaron bit his lip.

“I do. I love him to bits.”

“Does he love you?”

“Yes, even though neither of us gets to spend as much time with him as we want, we spend all that we can together. He liked soccer. What’s your favorite sport?”

“Hockey but mom doesn’t want me playing it. She wants me to keep all of my teeth. I play street hockey with my friends and a tennis ball.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun.”

Jacob reached up for his drink, but Aaron grabbed it first and handed it down to the boy. Jacob smiled at him before taking a long sip of it. Aaron set it back down when Jacob stopped sucking on it.

“I don’t think I can eat anymore, Mister Spencer.”

Spencer took the fork from Jacob’s fingers and laid in on the side of the container. There wasn’t a lot left in it, and it was mainly the pancake that was left.

“You ate more than I thought you would. So I’m going to go and get a rag so you can get cleaned up and then I’ll be back and give you your present.”

Spencer wasn’t gone but a minute and when he came back he had a rag in hand. He handed it over to Aaron.

“Are you okay with me doing it? I don’t want the bandages on the back of your hand to get wet.”

“Yes, please.” Jacob sat still the entire time that Aaron was washing off his face.

When Aaron was done he tossed the rag toward the sink just as Spencer was picking up the present.

“Now, this is from all of our team. You are going to be spending a lot of time in a bed for probably at least a week so that you don’t tear open your sores and well…our teammate Grant, he found your Kindle in pieces.”

“I threw it at the man who tried to take me. It was right there at my bed.”

Spencer set the package down where the food had been. Jacob reached up and tugged on the bow, letting it come apart before he lifted the package up to put it into his lap. Aaron observed him open it. Aaron wasn’t sure if it was the fact that Jacob was sore or he was trying to prolong it all.

The box proclaimed that it was a Kindle. Aaron could tell that the box had been opened. Jacob’s hands were shaking when he opened the box and pulled out a Kindle that had a cover that was dotted with hockey sticks and pucks as well as goals. The back looked like a hockey rink.

“Our teammate Penelope found that case for you at a store close to here. Now we did something that was a little bit wrong but she hacked your Amazon account to get access to your books as well was some books you have wanted to read but hadn’t bought yet. Those are already loaded onto your Kindle. So please don’t tell anyone but your mom about that.”

“I won’t.” Jacob turned the Kindle on, and Aaron watched as he swiped through screen after screen. “You bought all of the books I had on my wishlist.”

“Well, I may have gone a little bit overboard. But you won’t run out of things to read.” Spencer sug down into his messenger bag that was at his feet and came up with a bag. “This has the charger in it so that you can charge it when it needs it. It’s in a zip pouch in there. The bag will hold the Kindle as well.”

Jacob took the bag, and Aaron saw that it had a strap so that Jacob could sling it over his shoulder.

“Thank you Mister Spencer, Mister Aaron.” Jacob yawned. He tried to cover it up, but Aaron just chuckled at him. Spencer pulled the table away, and Aaron helped to settle Jacob down in the bed. Aaron covered him up and did like his mother had and brushed the fringe on his forehead off of it.

“You are very welcome Jacob. Now Mister Spencer and I need to go. We have some work that we have to do, but before we leave, we will come back and say goodbye.”

“Am I allowed to write to you?” Jacob asked.

“You can. I’ll make sure to give your mom Mister Spencer’s address. He loves to write letters. How does that sound?”

“It sounds good.” Jacob’s eyes lost their fight with gravity, and his eyelids didn’t open up again.

Aaron stepped back from the bed.

“How did you get a Kindle so fast?”

“Well, Garcia found the case form one of those places that sell things on eBay or something. The Kindle though was at an Amazon warehouse here, and that took some finesse. Garcia bought it using my Amazon account and had it hooked up to Jacob’s really easy once I had it out of the package. The money for books came from a few of the officers as well as the rest of the team. He’s not going to run out of books for a long while though, from the estimated time that it takes him to finish books, he reads really fast.”

“That’s good right?” Aaron drew Spencer over to the side of the room so that they wouldn’t wake up Jacob.

“Yes and no. On the way home I’m going to do some research into psychologists in the area that deal with intelligent adults. He’s a child yes but I think that someone who is used to cagey adults will be better. He has a long road to recovery, and really he’s not that far from us, and maybe in a month, we could come here for a weekend with Jack. He trusts you and by extension me. Make sure that his mother has my email address, the personal one, and work.”

“I will. Do you have the B&B packed up?”

“Yes, Morgan and Rossi are making sure that the locals have everything that they need while dealing with the two alive UnSubs. The two kids that turned are under suicide watch, and things are not going to get better there. Their parents haven’t come down to see them yet. Rossi delivered the news to them at their hotels on exactly what went down. Leland’s parents looked downright glad about what happened. Seems that a lot of neighborhood animals have been disappearing.”

“You know that no one is getting out of this case without at least several sessions with our therapists right?”

“Oh, I know. I’ve already called and talked to mine, and I have my first session when we get home later today. He’s going to stay if we get home too late. He’s offered to talk to you as well if you want. He’s approved to work with me and doesn’t think anyone would fight you going to him as well.”

“I’ll think about it. I kind of don’t like the one that the Bureau found for me after everything with Foyet.”

“I know.”

The door to the room opened up, and Jacob’s mom entered. She looked upset but brave.

“Ma’am?” Aaron asked.

“I just watched the news, and I knew that I shouldn’t have. I knew from what you had told me while he was asleep and getting treatment what he went through but they were…graphic on the news about what all of the kids went through. It’s horrific.”

“Yes, it is. He’s doing good so far. Right now while he’s here in the hospital, he needs to see you strong because he’s not going to feel safe here after I leave. He needs you to take that place. Once you get home or even if you just go to another room, then you can break down. You are a strong woman, and if you stay strong, he’s going to get through this. This is Agent Reid, he’s going to find you the best therapist for Jacob in the area. Another one of my agent’s, Agent Jareau will stop by later with numbers for victim support and other things that you need to take advantage of.”

“My boss, he’s already getting the house some security and making sure that no one can get inside without me knowing about it. He’s also giving me off as much time off as I need, paid. He was…he called me, and he’s just so sweet.” She walked over to Jacob’s bed and saw the Kindle that was tight in his fist. “His was broke.”

“Yes, Ma’am, my team put that together for him so that he doesn’t get too bored locked up here in the office.”

“Sounds like he’s a Godsend, Ma’am.”

“Oh, Mister Jackson. Jacob is going to be moved to the pediatric ward soon and then Mister Jackson is going to come and visit. Jacob likes him, and I think that right now he will need someone like Jackson in his life. My husband left me when I was pregnant with Jacob. He ran off with a woman, and I’ve not heard from him except when he mailed the divorce papers to me. Jacob goes to work with me sometimes in the summer. There is a day care of sorts there that is run by some of the staff and Jackson hires in teachers and the like to keep the kids entertained. They have taken over some of the labs before. Jacob built a robot last summer.”

“Doing things that like that will help him. It’s good that school is not in session right now. Jacob will need some distance before he could face his peers after what has happened. While the news will keep the victims names out, gossip does not, and we were very active in your area last night. It won’t take long for his name to be spread.”

“We can answer any questions that you have. Aaron is going to give you a card with several ways to contact me. I am the most reachable as Aaron gets stuck in meetings a lot. We thought that sometime in the next month or two we can come back with Aaron’s son Jack who is around Jacob’s age and visit with him.”

“How would that help?” the woman asked.

“Jack was kidnapped and nearly died at the hands of the man who took him after he had killed Jack’s mother. It’s not the same kind of trauma, but it’s trauma all the same. Sometimes just having a single person who has lived through something like you have is enough. Jacob has already asked about writing us, and I’ll be giving you the address which to send the letters. Agent Reid here loves to write letters so he will be the one doing it. I will send little missives along as well.”

“I’m glad. He’s a good boy.”

“And he’ll become a good man,” Aaron said before he stepped up to pull her into a hug. She melted into his arms. They stood like that for several seconds before Aaron felt a hand on his arm. It was Spencer.

“Rossi needs up.”

“We need to go but we promised Jacob we would tell him goodbye so when he wakes up have the hospital call us.”

Aaron sipped at the scotch that was in the glass in his hand. Dave had poured out one for everyone on the flight. Spencer was sipping at his, but Morgan and Anderson had belted their back right away. JJ was looking at hers like it was going to bite her, but after another minute of that she drank it all down in one go with a sharp exhalation after. Dave was savoring his drink just like Aaron was.

“So I called Strauss before we left and tomorrow we go in and write up all of our reports and do some desk clearing and when we are off rotation for a week and a half. In that time I would like you to have at least three sessions with your therapist of choice. You are just restricted from working on BAU things. Anything scheduled at the Academy is still allowed and encouraged. I’m going to spend the week and a half with Jack as much as possible.”

“I want to not let Henry out of my sight,” JJ admitted.

“I want brain bleach,” Spencer admitted. He sighed and down his drink. He looked at Aaron. “I thought the journals of that man who wrote it all out in journals and killed himself to save his female partner were bad. This is…”

“What do you do to forget it?” JJ asked.

Aaron saw that everyone was looking at Spencer with concern on their faces.

“I used to get lost in books, reading and reading and reading until I could think about anything but it. Then that stopped working. I started writing then, just anything and everything. Fiction, non-fiction, sometimes just even going over every aspect of the case to see what I could have done differently. Then that became worse. Now I run. I go on runs until my brain is numb then I go home, and I shower, and I cuddle with Jack and remember that I do this for all the kids like him, all that are alive and need a better world to live.” Spencer never looked up from where his finger was tracing lines on the table in front of him.

Anderson took the glass from Spencer’s other hand and stood up. He cleared his throat and Aaron looked up at him. Anderson shook his head toward Spencer before going to the galley to put up the glasses. It was a hell of a first case for Anderson and Aaron wondered if he had lost the young man because of it. Aaron got up off the couch and took the seat where Anderson had been. Spencer allowed Aaron to pull his hand off the table and rest it on his leg. Aaron covered it with his own.

“It was the first case where it really struck home that I have a son. I have a child, and I hate that he lives in this world,” Spencer whispered. JJ and Morgan quickly got up from the other side of the table, and when Anderson left the galley, the four of them settled at the other end of the jet to give the two of them privacy.

“I remember that well. The first time that we had a case after Haley was pregnant, not with Jack but with the one that she lost at two months. I hated that this was the kind of world that my kid would grow up in. Then we had Jack, and I knew that I was where I needed to be because at least for a little while after each case the world is just a little safer.”

“It smacked me in the face, Aaron. Even before Jacob asked. I have a kid.”

“You do.”

Spencer turned his hand over and linked his fingers with Aaron’s, and he sighed. Aaron reached over with his free hand and tugged on Spencer until he was leaning on him. Shaggy head resting on Aaron’s shoulder. It wasn’t enough, but for now, it would do. It would keep the darkness away for just a little while longer.

The End


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