Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds or its characters
Warning: Discussions of the following: sexual violence, child abuse, drug dependence, murder, mental illness. Scenes of violence.
Summary: After a harrowing case, Dr Reid goes missing. He's found 3 days later with little memory of what happened to him. As the team begin to piece together events, Reid struggles to reconcile his growing knowledge and Morgan finds the details are reawakening painful memories of his own. Novel length case-fic set across several years.
A Consensus Theory of Truth
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
11 May 2007
Coos Bay, Oregon
Detective Lyons stared through the glass at the man responsible for the deaths of at least 7 women. He seemed small and even shy, speaking softly and listening politely, hunched over the table in a way that made his balding head shine in the overly bright fluorescent light. It was almost laughable to suggest this man had violently raped and tortured anyone. But even if the evidence wasn't enough to convince, the fact that the BAU had found him moments before claiming another life was.
"Not what you expected is it?"
Lyons turned to the speaker. He hadn't heard the young FBI officer join him. SSA Morgan had a very solid, reassuring presence and Lyons had grown to like him over the two weeks he'd been working this case. "Do they all look like that? Normal?"
Morgan gave a half smile. "Most of the time." His phone bleeped and with a quick, "sorry," he walked away to answer it.
The FBI, too, had not been what Lyons had expected.
He looked back through the glass, but this time his focus fell on SSA Gideon, a man a few years older than himself. He dressed like Lyons son's math tutor and had that same air, a mix of approachable tolerance and understanding and keen intelligence. Yet despite appearing the very polar opposite of how an FBI agent was supposed to look like, Lyons had known from their first conversation that he was one of the Bureau's best. And watching him talk Frederick Dean out of his frenzy had been stunning. He wielded words the way the police did their guns and Lyons was left in no doubt who was the more deadly armed.
At Gideon's side, sat SSA Hotchner; he was leading the interview and with his sharp focus and fine clothes, he looked textbook FBI. Hotch was everything Lyons had expected and then some: an intensely professional man with as fierce intelligence as determination. He liked him. But at the end of the day, he was glad he didn't have to work with him.
The interview was soon interrupted and then quickly wrapped when the state appointed lawyer arrived so Lyons made his way back to his desk. As he walked he passed JJ, the FBI's very pretty liaison. Lyons had quickly regretted his initial thinking that her looks had got her where she was today the moment he'd witnessed her at work, skilfully and tactfully deflecting the wrath of the gutter press. At her side was Prentiss, who much like Hotch personified the public perception of the Bureau's members, and he had immediately respected her. And she'd impressed him every moment since.
Lyons sat at his desk, which currently had an open box file on it which Dr Reid was filling with the photos and evidence from the incident board. Even after 2 weeks it was hard to see past the fact that he was just a skinny kid. Lyons had watched him lean over grisly corpses without flinching and he was there when Reid pulled the UnSub's kill site out of the fragmented details but damn, he was young.
Lyons offered the kid a smile and then returned to his work, aware of the investigation powering down around him. The FBI packed up as quickly and efficiently as they had set up when they arrived. It was probably their standard, but Lyons couldn't help wondering if perhaps they were just keen to leave this city behind.
The sun had begun to dip down towards the horizon when Lyons went outside to say his goodbyes. The agents were crowded around their 2 SUV's, talking to knots of officers.
Lyons stopped beside Gideon. He held out his hand. "Thank you."
Gideon returned the handshake.
"We owe you so much." Lyons told him.
"It's always a team effort, detective."
"Would you do something for me?"
"When you hear Coos Bay, don't think disembowelled drug addicts." Lyons looked into the distance. "We have a beautiful beach."
"I wish we had time to see it." Gideon replied as the other agents joined them.
"Where's Reid?" Hotch asked, looking at his watch.
"He went back to the hotel over an hour ago to get his bags." Prentiss said.
Morgan took out his cell and held it to his ear. A few seconds later, he put it away. "Just goes to voice mail."
Lyons caught a flicker of worry cross Gideon's face before it was quickly schooled away as he said, "I'll go pick him up."
Morgan fell into step beside Gideon and the pair got into an SUV.
Morgan pulled up outside of the hotel they had been staying at. The ride had only taken them 5 minutes and had for the most part been conducted in silence.
Both he and Gideon entered the foyer and approached the desk, which was manned by a single member of staff. The blonde girl looked up and offered Morgan a smile. She wasn't more than 21 and very pretty. They'd exchanged a few flirty comments over the last 2 weeks and her delight at his unexpected return was evident.
"Hey Sandy, has Reid checked out yet?"
"Reid, that's thinspo boy right?"
"Um, he came in a while back. Didn't see him leave though so he's probably still up there."
They got in the lift and went up to the second floor then headed for Reid's room. The door was closed and there was no answer when Gideon knocked.
"Reid?" Morgan called out.
Gideon knocked again, louder this time.
"Reid, c'mon. Wheels up in 30." Morgan yelled.
There was still no answer.
Morgan frowned. "I'll get Sandy to open the door."
Gideon let his gaze travel around the small hotel room. It was a carbon copy of the room he had stayed in. The décor was a little dated and the facilities basic but the FBI had stayed in far worse. The bed had been slept in and looked messy. Gideon could still see the indent of Reid's head on the pillow and the glint of a fine hair left behind.
Morgan gestured at the small dresser. "He'd finished packing."
Reid's go bag and satchel were on the chair, both packed and closed. Gideon reached for the zip, aware that there was no cause for the invasion of privacy he was about to commit.
"He might've gone to buy a few books." Morgan reasoned, "it's a long flight back."
Gideon pulled something from Reid's satchel and held it up. "Without his wallet?" He opened it and frowned. "Cards, licence but no cash."
"Maybe he took it with him."
Gideon looked up, but Morgan had turned his back and he couldn't read the expression on his face. Did Morgan know about Reid? Was he thinking that the reason Reid would take only money and leave everything else behind was that he'd gone to score drugs? Either way that was in the past. The kid was getting back on track.
And yet, the recent memory flickered…
Sarah Finn's brother stared up at them in a haze, cocooned away from his sister's violent death. Reid carefully rolled the boy onto his side and pushed a pillow against his back so he wouldn't choke if he vomited in the night.
The kid had been uncharacteristically quiet after that.
No. He refused to believe Reid would quit now, when he'd come so far.
"Where would he go?" Gideon asked, thinking aloud rather than expecting an answer. He turned his attention on Reid's go bag, quickly and efficiently sorting through the items it contained: worn clothes, books, case files, toiletries, textbooks, course work.
Morgan looked at his watch. "He was supposed to meet us over an hour ago."
"Try his cell again."
Morgan nodded and pulled out his phone. After a few moments, he shook his head. "Voicemail."
"Then I guess we wait." Gideon told him and sat down on the bed. He listened to Morgan's side of the conversation when he called Hotch to tell him that they hadn't found Reid and were going to stay put for the moment, aware of time ticking by and trying to ignore the growing unease in his chest.
"No sign of a struggle." Morgan murmured after a while.
Gideon looked up at the words.
Morgan met his eyes. "I know you were thinking it too."
He stood up. "Have Garcia trace Reid's phone." He said. "I'll check the security tapes. They must have picked up Reid arriving, maybe they have him leaving."
Morgan dialled Garcia and after a few moments, her chirpy, happy voice filled his ear. Only it was decidedly less chirpy and not so happy.
"Hey Baby Girl."
"Better make this quick. I was 2 seconds away from walking out the door and into a hot tub and I don't intend on keeping those bubbles waiting."
"Can you put bath time on hold for me?"
"That had so better be an offer to come scrub my back?" That sounded more like Garcia.
"Not quite, but when we get back I'll let you borrow my loofah." Then he let the smile fall away. "I need you to track Reid's cell. We can't find him."
He heard a faint tapping on her end of the line and he pictured her working fiercely.
"Nothing." She said. "There's nothing."