**This is an alternate ending to Hero. There is a bold section telling where the alternate part begins, in case you just want to skip to that point since the rest of the chapter is identical to the "official" ending**
Reid and Riley didn't move for the longest time. Breathing hurt, thinking hurt, living hurt. If Riley had the energy left to cry she would be. Instead her body lay practically limp, her hands clutched tightly at the fabric of his shirt, just above his hips. He knelt over her, head on her shoulder, hands braced against the wall. He was breathing hard but Riley wasn't sure if he was crying. She didn't want him to cry.
"Such a failure.
Riley jumped when she heard Tucker's voice, Reid's head whipped around but his body drew closer to Riley, shielding her. Lost in their own thoughts they didn't hear Tucker enter the glass room. Candace was still cleaning blood off the floor as Tucker was pulling down all of the video equipment.
"You don't have to do this. Take me and let her go. You don't have to kill her, she did everything you asked." Reid's voice shook, even though he was trying very hard to keep it in.
"Stupid boy." Tucker scoffed, as if he couldn't believe that Reid would suggest it. "She's yours. You failed. You can't walk out of here, so she can't walk out of her." Tucker walked out one door, and dropped a knife through the food port. "I'm not going to kill her. You are." The closing of the metal flap seemed so much louder with those words. Tucker peeked back into the glass room, speaking to Candace this time. "Get that other girl again. We'll need leverage for this one." He said, in a half growl as he glared at Reid. Candace nodded as Tucker left.
Reid looked at the glistening metal on the other side of the room and shook his head in silent denial. This couldn't be happening. Sometimes it seemed the end would never come and he could only hope that his team had gotten his subtle hints as to their location. If only there was a better way. Something more he could have said to them, to lead them here. His hints were sparse but it was all that he could get out before it started. Everything had happened so fast and at the same time it seemed like he was in a dream that was in slow motion. His hands were throbbing but he refused to think about it. It caused a wellspring of guilt to bubble in his stomach for the damage he inflicted on Riley was far worse that his own wounds. Yet nothing as bad as what Tucker would have done to her.
Who knows, they may not have made it this far if he had failed sooner, or Tucker may have kept them and beat Riley worse. Reid's final assault could have been life threatening if that was the case. The metal door of the food slot slapped closed once more and a wad of bloody ropes was dropped through it, coiling over the knife like an angry snake. Candace reentered the glass room and continued cleaning the chair.
"Tie her up." Candace spoke for the first time. Tucker wasn't even here and she spoke. Riley looked around Reid, perplexed. Reid stood and went to the glass, hoping to plead his case with Candace.
"Please, just let us go and I promise you'll be safe. She's going to die and I…."Reid swallowed his words. "I can only image the terrible things he's done to you over the years and I know that you must feel hopeless. But it doesn't have to end like this. You can let us go. Right now. And you can come with us and everything will be ok. He'll go away for a very long time and you'll be safe to start your life again." Reid's still smooth voice had a profound calming effect that seemed to be striking all the right chords. Candace's eyes were red by now and she was scrubbing the chair with so much force that the bristles of her brush were bending under the weight. The chair was clean and still she stared at the stained wood as if she was staring into another plane of reality. One where she was free and would never be forced to do anything she didn't want to.
Reality is reality however, and that world didn't exist. She was too old to start over. "I can't." Candace stood, whipping the sweat from her face with a trembling hand.
"Yes you can, you can. Please just-"
"I said I can't!" Candace yelled back at him. "Now get her tied up before he comes back or so help me I'll kill you both right now." Candace pulled the gun from her apron pocket and waved it at them. Murder wasn't in her but neither was free thought. Not anymore.
"Tie her to the bed. And hurry." Candace gave Riley one final pitiful look as she left, her eyes pleading for forgiveness that Riley was surely not willing to give.
Riley was standing before the door closed and Reid hurried to help her stand. "I can't tie you up Riley. I can't keep doing this."
"Stop acting like you have a choice Spencer. Face it. We failed. We're not getting out of here alive. We gave it a good run now….just….let me rest." All hope had gone from her. Every ounce of energy was set to keeping her alive and she was just so tired. Reid helped her lay down and she could hear him going for the rope and the knife. Riley could hear him pause before picking the items up and returning to the bed.
"I really don't know if I can do this." He sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at his own reflection on the surface, the rope coiled in his lap.
"Haven't you ever gotten kinky before?" Riley's said, her sarcasm edging more on insult that humor and she immediately sighed and apologized. "I'm sorry Spencer. I'm just tired and I want this to end. At this point I don't even care how. I just want to sleep."
"End…." Reid rolled the handle of the knife in his hand. He looked around the room for a moment, then back to the knife. "This is going to end. I have a plan. Get some rest if you can."
It took longer than Reid expected for Tucker to come back. Riley had fallen asleep, no longer able to face sheer exhaustion. Reid was pacing again, his fingernails on the blade as he walked and thought about what he was about to do.
Tucker dragged in the vagrant woman, still heavily drugged and looking very groggy, and he ordered Candace to tie her to the chair. Their clothing looked wet and Reid knew it was raining above ground.
"Good and tied up I see." Tucker grinned, grabbing at himself again. Reid caught Tucker doing that as he was forced to beat Riley for the livestream. This was the end game. The real reason for all of it. "Cut her."
Reid stepped closer to Riley, looking down at her sleeping form. He could do this and make it quick for her. She didn't know about his plans as he needed her reactions to be as genuine as possible. Every second that ticked by was hopefully bringing his team that much closer to them. But how long could he stall? Reid wasn't sure but he had his plan and hoped it would work. With a deep breath, he swallowed hard and spoke, keeping his eyes on Riley and knowing she would wake with his voice.
"That's the whole point isn't it. It's not to 'train' men the 'right way of thinking'. No. You're impotent. You need to watch me stab her to get off don't you."
"What?" Tucker's rage was boiling, he leaned forward as if to hear Reid better.
"You heard me. Let me guess, you started trying to control women when you had one laugh because you just couldn't get it up right?" Reid looked defiantly at Tucker. "Then you must have been to jail right? Domestic abuse from the look of it and I'm sure you saw some things. Did you see someone get stabbed in there Tucker? You got off on that didn't you? Watching someone else have a knife cut through their flesh like you wished you could in other ways."
"Shut up boy!" Tucker pounded the glass but he couldn't hide his own body from betraying him. "Cut her. Cut her now! Or I'll kill this bitch here and now."
Riley woke to Tucker's yelling and caught herself before calling him Spencer. "Reid?" Riley pulled at her restraints as she woke, almost forgetting about them in the transition. "Don't let her die too." Reid sat down next to her and Riley whispered. "You can do this Spencer." She whispered as he came closer. "You know where to do it where I won't bleed out. Maybe it'll give your team more time to get here."
She had at least caught on to his attempts to stall as long as possible, and maybe it was his imagination but he could always swear that she didn't want this to go well. As if she just wanted a way out. Reid's brow furrowed in worry and pity….and shame.
"Give her a nice one. On the wrist." Tucker said to Reid's back and although the young man couldn't see his captor's face, he could tell in his voice that there was a smile on it.
Reid readjusted the knife in his hand but it didn't stop the shaking. Riley closed her eyes and her head was facing away from him now. The clenching of her jaw was apparent. Reid reached up over her head and cut her forearm. The feeling of the blade slicing through her flesh made his stomach churn. Every time he had dissected an animal in the past had never made him sick. Not even the smell of the formaldehyde sickened him like the feeling of cutting another human being and feeling the thick warm blood on his hands. Riley whimpered but she quickly clenched her teeth shut. She wasn't going to give Tucker the pleasure of hearing her scream.
"It's not deep enough boy. Do the other one." Tucker growled.
Reid leaned over Riley, feeling her turn her head under him and press her face to his chest. Cutting her wasn't easy but having her so close just made it harder. His hands were shaking as he neared her other arm. Even with Tucker's urging that Reid make the cuts deeper, Reid refused. The cut was just the same as the first and their captor was outraged.
"Son of a bitch boy! You're ruining her! Go to her legs."
Reid pulled back away from Riley, the blood on his hands making the blade slip around in his grip. The cuts weren't life threatening but she was bleeding a lot. Sweat dotted her forehead and her breathing was sharp and irregular.
"Pull that gown up." Tucker said as Reid repositioned himself.
Slender, trembling hands loomed over the tattered hem of the gown. This wasn't him. None of it was. Hitting her, cutting her, now lifting her skirt. His fingers slid under the fabric lightly and he pulled it back a little, but Tucker insisted more. Dark eyes closed for a moment, trying to keep the thoughts together. Once they opened again, Reid pulled the gown up higher, slightly revealing plain white panties. Riley's legs were instinctively trying to pull closed but her ankle restraints made it impossible. "I'm so sorry Riley…" He whispered, his voice just as shaky as his hands. "I can't do this."
That threw Tucker over the cliff. In an instant he was up and through the door, so angry he didn't make sure it was closed all the way. Reid could have took off and never looked back but the thought never crossed his mind. He would get out of here with Riley, or not at all. Tucker stormed in, grabbed the bloody knife from Reid and threw him back away from the bed. Riley was struggling now, calling for Reid as Tucker towered over her. The blade met the skin on the top of her thigh and as the blade sliced through the flesh there, Riley's scream was muffled with the thunderous smashing of wood on bone.
Beginning of Alternate Ending
Tucker fell like a ton of bricks and Reid took a second blow to Tucker's head with a drawer from the dresser. Once Tucker was motionless, Reid discarded the drawer, his eyes meeting Candace's behind the pane of glass across the room. They stood frozen, waiting to see what the other would do. Reid could hear his pulse in his ears. They were running out of time and if Candace decided to fight back they wouldn't get far.
The older woman hesitated, looking from Reid, to her felled husband. She knew the consequences of letting Reid go. When Tucker would come to, which wouldn't take long, she would be locked in this room to await his return. Beating and starving and cutting. A chill ran down her spine. Self-preservation was key. Not to mention, the girl might not live but if the boy got to the road and was able to flag down a passing vehicle he could go to the police and Candace would be in prison for a long time.
Reid could see the shift in her persona from indecisive to determined. Reid raced to the door but she was so much closer. The door slammed shut and Reid could hear it lock. He pounded his fist on the door in frustration before quickly returning and cutting the ropes from Riley's wrists and ankles. He helped her stand and put her in the corner, waiting for Tucker to wake up. His hands were shaking, blood dripping from the knife and onto the wood floor.
Waiting for Tucker to come to was excruciating. Reid watched him intently, watching for any movement. He moved the knife around in his grip, afraid to clean it off with his shirt so he could hold it better. What if he took his eyes off Tucker for just a moment? What if he wasn't holding the knife properly when Tucker woke? It was irrational. Reid knew it would take Tucker time between his first stirring and the time it would take for him to get to them in the corner.
Then it happened. Tucker groaned, then growled and his head moved. Reid could feel Riley clutching the fabric of his pants behind his knee. Reid backed up instinctively as Tucker rose from the floor like a bear rising to his hind legs. He turned his flaming glare to Reid and Riley. He reached in his belt and pulled out a black Desert Eagle .50. Reid immediately did the math and it was a no brainer. The knife was no match against a gun first off, and secondly, that gun was one of the most powerful guns. One shot and Tucker could take them both out if they were lined up right. Unless the BAU got there soon, Reid' promise of escape would be a lie.
Truth was, the team was closing in. They had loaded up in the SUV's and were following the local PD to the address on Garcia's print out. They were all on the edge of their seats, checking and rechecking their guns. Morgan was tapping his foot in the floor but he knew that Hotch was driving as fast as he would if he was in the driver's seat. The rain made it hard to see but that didn't slow Hotch down. His jaw was set, eyes set firmly on the road as they travelled. Time was running out fast.
Back in the bunker, Tucker cocked the gun and pointed it at Reid. "Drop the knife boy. Or I'll blow your head off and take your girl like you should have." He sneered, knowing he had full control over Reid.
Reid was trapped. He couldn't fight back, or he would be killed and Riley would be this man's slave until he was through with her and then she would be killed and tossed in a shallow grave. The young agent had no choice. He tossed the knife to the floor, where it slid under the bed. Reid slowly raised his hands, he could hear Riley whisper his name. She was losing a lot of blood. It wouldn't be long now before she would bleed out and although Reid was still hoping his team would rescue them, he decided if she would die here, she would not die alone.
"Candace!" Tucker bellowed. "Get your ass in here with those zip ties."
Candace entered a moment later, gun aimed at Reid, she tossed Tucker the zip ties. She stood by the door. If Reid was going to try and run, which she didn't think he would do without Riley, Candace would be able to dart outside and lock the door from the outside.
"Get her up and come here boy." Tucker motioned the gun toward the floor at the end of the bed. He moved toward the glass wall, gun trailing on Reid as the young man helped the injured Riley off of the floor. He helped her walk across the floor and kneel where Tucker designated. Reid kneeled before her. She had little energy left, Reid had to hold her up.
"Keep that gun on them." Tucker demanded as he decocked his gun and put it back in his belt, grabbing Reid's wrist behind Riley's back and binding them around her waist with the zip ties. Then he bound Riley's hands behind Reid's back and backed up from them. "Go ahead, get out your last words." Tucker said sarcastically. "Candace, put that girl back with the others. And get the truck ready."
"Riley, I'm so sorry. I promised we would get out of here." Reid pressed his forehead against Riley's. Closing his eyes didn't help a tear from escaping and rolling down his cheek.
"You tried Spencer." A whisper was all she could manage. "I'm so tired."
"I know….I know you are. But I'm right here Riley. I'm right here." His voice was shaky as he pulled her closer, supporting her weight. Then he recited the first thing he could think of. Something soft, to calm her into the next life. "Just close your eyes Riley. Just listen to me. Do you know the poem Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe?" He swallowed hard as he heard Tucker push off the wall and walk slowly across the room toward them. Riley nodded that she knew the poem and Reid began. "It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought. Than to love and be loved by me."
The footsteps were getting closer, Reid shuffled on his knees, unaware that his team was barreling down the driveway at that very moment. So he continued. "I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea, But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee— With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven Coveted her and me."
Reid heard the gun cock and could feel the metal on the back of his head. With the way they were sitting, forehead's touching, one shot would finish them both off instantly. The team was outside, splitting up. Morgan and Hotch were striding, guns in hand, toward the bunker door.
"And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her highborn kinsmen came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre In this kingdom by the sea." As Reid recited, Tucker was chuckling. Morgan threw open the first door, letting rain pour in on the stairs.
"The angels, not half so happy in Heaven, Went envying her and me— Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my-"