Chapter 7: Alone, Together
How can you be so warm?
How can you know what I feel?
Well, it's the way you move your hands,
And it's the way you understand...
-Better Than Ezra, "In the Blood"
Reid came to first. He raised a hand to his aching head, probing carefully. A lump had formed, but he'd stopped bleeding. Frowning, he began to take stock. Jackson was lying near him, still out. They were in a six by ten cinderblock cell with a concrete floor and a vague light source overhead. Two buckets set in one corner. A heavy, metallic door. Sighing in dismay, he crawled over to her and checked Jackson's pulse, patted her cheek gently. "Wake up, Jack," he told her. "I need you to open your eyes."
"Mmm," she murmured, face scrunching in pain as consciousness began to return. Her eyelids fluttered. She reached up to push his hand away. "Don't, please; my own thoughts are as much as my head can handle at the moment."
He pulled his fingers off her skin as though she'd burned him. "Sorry. I wasn't thinking."
She sat up gingerly. Pressed gentle fingers against the darkening bruise at her temple. Tenderly brushed his hair back to examine his own wound. "You ok?"
"Yeah," he replied shortly. "Head hurts, but I'll be fine."
She gave a slow, thoughtful nod. "How fucked do you think we are?"
He looked around the bleak dungeon. "Very to extremely."
"Looks that way," she agreed with a trace of her old humor.
The door swished open, and the man from the bathroom filled the entry. Reid got to his feet and reached down to help Jack stand with him. She felt a bit wobbly, but relatively ok.
"Welcome," the man said. His voice was stark, bleak, nothing like the voice she remembered from before. Some mind reader, fooled so completely...
"You should consider letting us go," Reid was saying. "We're Federal Agents, members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Our team will be looking for us, and they will find us. They're the best in the world."
He flashed white, white teeth. "They can look. They won t find."
Jackson stirred. She wasn't much in the mood to stand here and listen to this man gloat. "You think I'm going to kill him?" she asked, stepping away from Reid as though he were carrying Plague. "That's your thing, right? Driving couples to kill each other, watching the erosion? It's what gets you high, gets you off," she said, her tone sarcastic, dismissive. Reid wondered, briefly, in the part of his mind that had the energy to wonder, if she were making a huge mistake.
"Yes," the man answered simply.
Her laugh was bitter enough to corrode iron, and Reid flinched back from it. "You're in for a nasty surprise." She gestured toward the other agent, her normally serene features twisted into something almost frightening by stark lines of disdain. "He and I aren't a couple. There's no desperate love, no secret story, no hidden affair. We're not even really friends." These last words left her mouth like bullets straight into his chest. He wanted to crumple from the impact, but he stayed upright, tried to look defiant.
The man seemed unimpressed.
"Kill me, kill him, kill us both," she continued, voice rising in fury. "I don't give a damn. Just do something, because for a major bad-ass, you're really just boring."
His hand shot out faster than either agent could see, and a moment later Jackson was reeling, falling, and Reid was there to catch her. She fell against him, gasping, impatiently blinking away the tears forming in her pain-dazed eyes. Before she could get a clear picture of Reid's mind, afraid it would be her undoing, she straightened.
Jackson stared at the man. Turned her head and spit blood. Wiped her mouth with a hand that barely trembled. "You could have just told me to shut up," she rasped out, her voice sounding a little thick as the words struggled to pass over a split lip.
The man stepped closer and grabbed her chin in a vice-like grip. He raised her head, tilting it to an almost painful angle, and she gritted her teeth. Tried desperately to ignore the taste of blood coating her tongue. "I'm not going to kill you, little fed," he said, his voice a menacing caress. "He is." He nodded in Reid's direction, and then shoved Jackson from him with vicious force.
She fetched up against the back wall and her breath left in a rush. Before she had it back enough to form a suitable retort, he had slammed the door of their cell behind him with a decisive clang.
Once he heard the outer door close, Reid moved a cautious step closer. "Are you ok?" he asked, feeling stupid.
"Peachy," she gasped, pushing herself off the wall.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, delicately dabbing at her split lip with the hem of his shirt. "I should have stepped in, said something."
"No," she replied softly, "it's better this way. Now he thinks you'll be the one to break. He'll be watching me for rebellion, not you. You heard what he said."
"They'll find us," he assured her. The look in his deep-set hazel eyes said something else.
"We have to be prepared in case they don't."
He took off his tie and handed it to her to use as a handkerchief. "This shouldn't be happening to you, Jack."
"Oh, boy genius, don't go there. We're not playing any blame games. I let him get a jump on me. I gave him my phone, then I turned my back. So if you want to go there..." She trailed off, brows raised, offering to let him have the first shot.
"It's just ironic considering the way I've been treating you lately."
She sighed and slid down the wall to sit, her knees raised, hands dangling between them. "It doesn't matter, Spencer. It never did. Call me a glutton for punishment, but even pissy Reid wasn't going to drive me away." She leaned her head back against the cold, rough cinderblocks and closed her eyes.
He crouched in front of her, folding his long, lean body into a shape that should have been terribly uncomfortable. "Morgan's going to kill me when he sees that lip," he remarked with a little smile.
"He might kill you anyway for getting kidnapped again. That's twice in four months, you know," she said without lifting her head or opening her eyes. Her voice was deceptively light, but he could hear the gentleness in it.
He rubbed a hand across his narrow chest. It hurt, that voice, even more than her put-on anger had before. It reminded him of how beastly he'd been to this genuinely kind, generous woman who inexplicably cared about him. She had never asked him for anything, yet he knew on a basic, visceral level that he had failed her by not living up to the faith she'd had in him since day one.
"He didn't physically attack any of the other victims," he finally said, steering the conversation into safer territory.
"No," she agreed. "He's devolving, maybe. I don't think he'll wait for us."
Distracted by a sharp, shooting pain in his leg, he shook his head and tried to focus. "What do you mean?"
Her face scrunched as she looked over at him. She wasn't sure if she'd ever heard those words come out of Spencer Reid's mouth the entire time she'd known him. "I mean he'll try to provoke us; divide us. If that doesn't work, I think he might get bored and kill us himself."
"If we fail at hating each other enough for one to shoot the other, you mean?"
Her mouth quirked, and she flinched a little. "Yes," she said, "if that."
He tried to wipe the sweat from his brow without her noticing. "It's dangerous, what we do," he remarked dryly.
"No kidding. Maybe we should switch to white collar."
"It's an idea, except you suck at math."
Dark brows came together over clear green eyes. "It's not all math. And I don't suck at it; it's just not my area." He gave her a skeptical look, and she couldn't suppress a smile. "Yeah, ok, I suck at it. But it's not all math."
"No, it's not. You could get lucky."
She snorted out a laugh, winced. Raised a hand to her pounding head. "Right, because my luck's so grand now."
Frowning, fighting back a shiver, he glanced around the cell with big, nervous eyes. "How long do you think we were out?" he asked anxiously.
"Our watches are gone," she pointed out. "He wouldn't have relied on the blows to the head to keep us unconscious; he probably doped us with something. So, who knows? A few hours, maybe."
"He took a big risk with us. The other victims could have genuinely believed his offer, but we know it's bullshit. Neither of us will leave here alive if he has his way."
"Then we have to make sure he doesn't get his way, don't we?"