Chapter 6: The Man in the Bathroom
So long, I never had experienced this bliss.
So how could I resist?
And I'm fine;
A little light-headed.
Does that worry you?
Didn't mean to worry you.
-Better Than Ezra, "Live Again"
Hotch had paired them yet again. Reid knew it was to test him: could he manage to work with Jack for more than two minutes without biting her head off? Though he felt genuinely bad about what he'd said to her earlier, he wasn't sure he could pass Hotch's test in his current state.
Upon Jack and Morgan's return to the station, the two youngest agents had been sent to the park to scout dumpsites. They'd spoken little, but every time he looked at her he felt something squirm inside. She had every right to tell him to go to hell, but she hadn't; she was coolly professional, distant. Not Jack, in other words. Maybe he should apologize? Would that make things better, or worse? He rubbed the back of his neck and wished he were anywhere else.
They passed a men's room and he hesitated. If he used, would she know? He had been hiding his thoughts from her effectively since Henkel, but she was observant beyond her ability. She would notice a change, but she probably wouldn't ask. Operation Alienate Jack had been succeeding remarkably well, considering her incredible tenacity, and he'd pretty much put the last nail in their relationship's coffin with his idiocy earlier today.
"Hey, Jack, go on without me," he called to her. He gestured to the restroom when she turned, a question forming on her lips. "I'll catch up."
"I'll wait," she said, leaning against the wall to add action to assertion.
He ground his teeth. The muscles in his jaw danced noticeably, but as predicted, she didn't comment on his sudden agitation. "No need," he assured her. "I'll only be a minute."
She gave him a Look. "Just go pee, Spencer. I'll wait."
Realizing he was making too much out of it, he shrugged and stepped through the swinging door. As it closed behind him he let out a long sigh, briefly closing his eyes in anticipation. He checked to make sure the stalls were empty before fishing the kit from his brown messenger bag. Locked himself into a stall. Almost, so close. Filled the needle. Seconds away, yes, please... Inserted it into his arm, depressed the plunger, and...
Bliss. Warm, cotton-candy cloud of pure, sweet, honey-coated bliss.
Sighing softly, he leaned his head against the wall and floated.
He wasn't sure how long he'd been standing there when he heard the squeak-and-swish of the outer door. Hastily he flushed the unused toilet and stowed the kit back in his bag. He emerged from the stall and began washing his hands.
Reid watched his reflection in the mirror above the sinks with fascination. It was wavering, dancing, doubling. He smiled and reached out to touch the face in the mirror, but then he pulled his hand back quickly when his fingers encountered cold glass. He stared down at his open palm, splayed fingers, in consternation. The loops and whorls formed by his skin were mesmerizing, and he was wondering if Jack could read palms and minds when the man attacked.
Reid had forgotten the man was even there. He'd been standing at the urinal, his back to the young agent, and Reid had barely registered his presence. Now, as he sank to the bathroom floor, his brain going even fuzzier, he wondered what the fuck just happened.
Outside, Jackson checked her watch yet again. Shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Fidgeted. Maybe this was why he hadn't wanted her to wait - he knew he'd be a while. Whatever. She wasn't leaving him alone.
She was debating calling him when the door opened and the man who'd entered a few minutes before burst through it. "Hey, lady!" he called. "There's a guy passed out in here. My phone battery's dead. Call an ambulance!"
Her green eyes widened, and she flashed her badge by rote, on instinct. "We're FBI agents," she told him, hurrying past and into the bathroom. She stopped short at the sight of Spencer laid out on the tile; he was bleeding from the head, and his skin was ashen. She tossed her phone to the stranger. "Call 911. Tell them a Federal Agent needs an ambulance now."
Jackson knelt beside her partner and checked his pulse. Sluggish, but strong. She was reaching to check his pupils when a warming flashed, screamed into her mind. It wasn't from Reid; he was out cold. She whipped around, realizing with rapidly-dawning horror that the man behind her hadn't yet called 911. The park, shit, the park, college-age couples abducted from the park!!
The man held a truncheon in his hand, and despite her quick reflexes and thorough training, Jackson knew she was in Deep Shit. Her hand flew to her weapon, but he was faster. The blow connected to her temple, and she saw stars. The stars set; blackness reigned.
"Someone's gotta talk to him, Hotch," Morgan said. "He's out of control."
"I know that, Morgan," Hotch replied. "I'm planning to have a sit down with him when we get back to Virginia."
"What're we supposed to do in the meantime?" he asked, hands on hips and handsome face twisted into a scowl.
Hotch sighed and rubbed his forehead wearily. This case was difficult enough without having to deal with Reid's drama. He knew the young man had been through a terrible ordeal, but he had no right to take anything out on E.J. To be honest, Reid's attitude toward their newest agent had taken the team leader by surprise; they'd seemed close before Henkel, and Hotch had thought Reid would confide in her, not lash out at her.
So much for his amazing profiling skills.
"In the meantime we're going to focus on finding this UnSub before he chooses another couple," he finally said.
Morgan took a few deep breaths through his nose, trying to get it together. "Yeah, ok. Alright."
"She's an adult, Morgan; she can handle Reid," Hotch reminded the other agent.
"You didn't see the look on her face..." He trailed off, shaking his head. "You're right. I'm gonna call Garcia, see if she has anything on those missing persons."
"Good. I'll check in with E.J. to find out how they're doing at the park."
White teeth flashed in a dark face as Morgan smiled. "Uh huh. She's an adult, remember?"
Hotch pinned him with a deliberately neutral look. Without a word, he hit the speed dial key for Jackson's cell and listened to her ringback music. He briefly fought the urge to hum along to a familiar, catchy Van Morrison tune, but as the selection looped through a second time, he began to frown. "She's not answering."
"Huh. Let me try Reid," Morgan said. He raised the silver Razr to his ear and listened to the ringing. His face creased. "Nothing."
Hotch's brow furrowed as the first inkling of alarm began to trickle down his spine. "Call Garcia. I want to know what cell coverage is like in that park, and find out if she can locate their phones."
He was making the call when J.J. stepped around the corner. "Gideon wants to know if either of you have heard from Reid or Jack," she said. "They've been gone awhile, and he's anxious to know if they've found anything."
Hotch checked his watch, and the furrowing deepened. "I didn't realize it had gotten so late. We just tried to call them and got no answer. Morgan's on the line with Garcia now."
J.J.'s dark blue eyes widened in apprehension. "You don't think they're fighting again, do you? Not after what happened...Reid's not that messed up, is he?"
"I hope not," Hotch murmured.
"Are you sure, baby girl?" Morgan asked, the anxiety in his voice slicing through Hotch and J.J.'s quiet conversation like a guillotine. "Check again." A pause, and they could hear Garcia's voice through the phone. "Ok, I'm putting you on speaker. Hotch and J.J. are here."
"Hotch, J.J.," Garcia said, sounding frazzled and a little frantic. "The cell coverage in that park is perfect. It's not a big place, and there are towers everywhere. There shouldn't be any dead zones."
"Garcia, baby, gimme some good news," Morgan pleaded.
There was a deafening silence from Quantico. "I don't...I...there's no signal," she nearly whimpered.
"What do you mean, Garcia?" Hotch asked. "You just said the coverage is perfect."
"No!" she almost wailed. "I mean there's no signal from their phones, no GPS. That means both phones are turned off."
The agents shared a three-way glance as their trepidation mounted. "There's no way," Morgan said. "Even if the kid flipped out, Jack would keep her phone on. She'd stay in touch. She had it right beside her in that coffee shop."
Hotch shifted restlessly. "J.J., go get Gideon and Detective Rodriguez. We need to get over there now, and I think we're going to need search teams."
"Hotch! Hotch, you don't think...I mean, the guy didn't...Jack and Reid..." Garcia stuttered, for once at a complete loss for words. "They're ok, right?" she finally gasped.
"I don't know, Garcia," he said quietly. "I hope so."
"Call me the second you find out anything, good or bad," she instructed. "I'll keep the GPS tracker up, so I'll know if one of their phones comes back on."
"Thanks, baby girl," Morgan said. "We'll be in touch soon." He snapped the phone closed with a grimace. "If that kid's gotten himself kidnapped again, I'm gonna kill him."
"Get in line," J.J. bit out.
Alright, so, hydromorphone doesn't really cause hallucinations like the ones I described - at least, not usually - but I liked the imagery. Heroine in high enough doses, with the right stimulus, can cause hallucinations, so I figured...why the heck not?