This chapter started out as fun to write but just went down hill from there and 5000 words is a LOOOONG decent. Thanks to everyone who sent words of encourgement. You kept me going after word 3426 (well, OK, thereabouts) x
The halls of the courthouse were large and austere and filled with sharply dressed professionals striding purposely along the halls. The combined echoes of their footsteps and chatter and the hum of the air con mingled into a background jumble that was at once familiar and completely alien.
Morgan had given Reid a Starbucks coffee, pushing it into his hands when his mind had wandered from his surroundings so he hadn't said a thank you. It smelt rich and sweet and was probably loaded with cream and sugar and chocolate but his stomach turned over sickly at the thought of swallowing any. So he wrapped his cold fingers around the paper cup and enjoyed the only thing about it that he could: its heat.
Reid could hear Emily and JJ's voices a little way down the corridor, but they were too far away to make out what was being said. It was probably about him. He looked up from his coffee, turning towards them but both of their faces were in profile and he couldn't read their lips.
Hotch and Rossi had both offered him a firm handshake of support before going into the courtroom to sit in the public seats. The others had elected to stay with him.
Reid's head snapped round at Morgan's voice. He felt a confusing jolt of emotion when his eyes met those of the Cal Tech student at the end of the corridor. He got to his feet.
"Spencer Reid?" The voice came from behind him.
Reid turned to see a court official standing respectfully a couple of paces away.
"You've been called."
Reid could feel the eyes of the jury follow him as he was led to the witness stand. There was a stark interest on their faces that he couldn't remember seeing from a jury before but recognised from having seen if many times before. They had received a brief biography of his genius and were curious in the peculiar freak-show way he had become inured to after seeing it all his life. Should it matter even here?
Professor Rhodes smiled at him as he passed, warm and kind and benevolent as if he was greeting him as he hurried into class late, and his steps faltered. He felt the icy clutch of panic in his chest as he stood there, frozen for a second.
In the periphery of his vision, he saw Hotch, moving forward in his seat, discretely trying to pull Reid's eyes and attention onto him and away from Rhodes. Reid's eyes finally locked with Hotch's and the older man nodded once, a short dip of the head that managed to convey both his approval and his support.
Hotch's faith in him had never meant quite so much as Gideon's but right at this moment, it eclipsed it. And on the strength that gave him, Reid drew a breath and began walking again.
He took his seat in the witness box and in many ways it ought to have felt like a typical day in court. He swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before new and unfamiliar faces but the layout of people before him was no different: judge to his left, the jury to the side, prosecution, defence…
But his heart refused to calm and he could physically feel it thudding under his ribs as if threatening to burst out of his chest. He took another breath, felt his head swim a little on the overdose of oxygen. He looked over at Hotch and Rossi and narrowed his focus to his superiors; ground himself on their presence as he forced his lungs into small even breaths. The panic receded.
Hotch watched some of tension in Reid's body release as the young man on witness stand answered the initial questions, confirming who he was, and Hotch was relieved to see it. Reid knew this. It was part of his job and that gave him a distinct advantage over the average victim. Not that he would need it with Beauregard Hunter, the lawyer heading up the prosecution. Hotch knew him to be a good and authorative man who genuinely cared about justice and the fair practice of law. But the defence attorney, however, was a different story.
"Would you tell the court, in your own words, what happened on May 11 2007?"
Reid pulled his eyes away from Hotch's face and focused them instead on the mike in front of him capturing his words. Hotch wondered if it was shame or nerves or something else that made him hide his face. Reid quietly went through the events that he remembered: returning to the hotel in Coos Bay, packing… His voice was pitched high with unshed tears but none spilled down his cheeks. He faltered a little over the vague memories of being burned.
"Would you like a glass of water?" Hunter asked.
Reid shook his head then recounted waking up in hospital with Gideon at his side.
Hotch felt Rossi shift at his side at the mention of Gideon's name. "You still haven't told Reid." He said. It wasn't a question.
"He needs to stay focused." Hotch replied.
"The longer you leave it, the worse it will be."
"I know." He admitted. "But I've made my decision."
Rossi didn't reply, both of their attentions drawn by Hunter's next question. "You have no memory of a sexual assault?"
"You need to answer the question, son."
"Yes." Reid answered. "I have no memory of being assaulted."
Hunter turned away, striding purposely to his table to pick up two files. "But an assault DID take place," he told the court, "and were confirmed by both forensic and medical examinations." Hunter held up the reports. "4a and 4b."
The defence counsel, Graham Teller, stood. His voice had a note of a southern accent that he couldn't quite school out. "Move to strike 4a, your honour. It has no relevance here." He said. "All forensic evidence taken from Dr Reid came from one source and that was not my client."
Hunter looked at the judge. "I believe I can successfully prove that Kimball Rhodes was not only present at Dr Reid's assault but was the main instigator."
The judge looked at Teller. "Denied."
"Interesting." Rossi murmured.
"They're attempting to distance Rhodes from Milo Kullen." Hotch said.
"Wise move." His friend replied. "Without a solid link, maybe 90% of this case becomes circumstantial."
"Toxicology results – exhibit 4c, your honour – confirmed the presence of flunitrazepam in Dr Reid's system." Hunter was saying. He turned to the jury. "We've already heard the expert opinion of Dr Freeman on the effects of that particular drug."
After over an hour of questioning, Hunter finally sat down and Teller got up to cross-examine. Teller was a surprisingly short man, with a round and non-descript face, easily ignored in a crowd. He looked like the embodiment of harmless. His eyes, however, told a different story. They were a vivid blue, sharp and flinty, fixing on Reid like a hawk seizing on its prey. Reid had been on the receiving end of a hostile cross far too many times and tensed at the man's approach. But at least he was prepared for what was to come.
"I've read a number of your articles, Dr Reid." Teller said. "You have a remarkable talent."
"Thank you." Reid replied cautiously. He knew better than to be relaxed by the personable act.
"Your testimony in State vs. Williams was brilliant." He smiled.
"Mr Teller…" The judge warned.
A thin smile appeared. "Of course, your honour." He stepped back from the witness box, grandstanding himself to pull the jury's attention. "How long have you known the defendant, Dr Reid?"
"Six years, five months."
Eyebrows rose at the concise reply. "No days?"
"And 17 days." Reid replied and glanced at his watch. "I can give you hours and minutes if you would like."
There was a quiet ripple of laughter from the public seats.
Teller absorbed Reid's reply for a moment then seemed to choose to chuckle. "And in all that time, did you ever consider that he might be one of the disturbed individuals you so brilliantly research?"
"Objection, your honour." Hunter got to his feet. "Dr Reid is here as the alleged victim, not to provide professional context."
"Yet he can and he does provide professional context every day, your honour," Teller pointed out, "it's not something he can turn off. Therefore it has relevance here."
"I'll allow it. But keep it respectful and don't test my patience, Mr Teller."
Teller turned back to Reid, blue eyes full of ice. "Did you, or did you not, ever consider Kimball Rhodes to be one of the disturbed individuals you are trained to recognise?"
Reid swallowed. "No."
"No?" Teller repeated; his voice a mocking echo. "He never gave you cause to doubt his intentions? Not even once? Never made you uneasy about his research? Never-"
"Objection. Counsel is badgering the witness."
"Sustained." The judge said. "Make your point, Mr Teller."
"So let me get this straight, an educated experienced profiler such as yourself had NO cause to believe my client was one of the very criminals he is trained to identify? Is that what you're saying, Dr Reid?
"Yes." He said softly.
"I didn't catch that, Doctor."
Reid looked up. "Yes."
"Well forgive me for asking, Dr Reid, but on behalf of the citizens of this country, if the defendant's guilty, why the hell are our tax dollars being wasted on your salary when are clearly so incapable of doing the job we're paying you to do?!"
Teller held up his hands. "Question withdrawn." He said.
The judge leaned forward. "Do I need to remind you of the meaning of respect, Mr Teller?"
"No, your honour."
"Good." He sat back.
"Isn't it more likely, Dr Reid, that the reason you did not see any deviant behaviour from the defendant is because there was none?"
"Objection. Dr Reid is not here to provide conjecture."
Teller bit back a smile. "I imagine then that my client's arrest for your assault must have come as a surprise, both personally and professionally."
"Answer the question!" He snapped.
The questioning continued and Teller's attitude softened, but Reid knew this was merely a ploy to get him to relax. The questions were designed to show how close Rhodes had been to him, as a tutor and a mentor and as a friend. And all the while, he was reinforcing Reid's skills as a profiler. It brought home to Reid how blind he had been, how stupidly misled… He chanced a look at the jury, hoping they would understand how much trust and admiration could blinker a person, but he couldn't read anything on their faces.
Teller moved on to Milo Kullen, skilfully playing up the conversations Reid had had with him at the Coos Bay Hotel and presenting his assault of Reid as a solo event, completely unconnected with Rhodes.
"Dr Reid, the prosecution would have us believe that semen was taken from both you and Noah Layton for use in fertility treatments, yet despite a thorough investigation of the clinics where these alleged samples were stored, none were found that matched either your or Noah Layton's DNA." Teller said. "However the eggs donated by Lucy Watkins were quickly recovered. Did Professor Rhodes ever approach you about donating sperm?"
"If he had, would you have agreed?"
"Objection." Hunter snapped out. "That question is irrelevant."
Teller frowned. "Did he ever discuss any fertility treatments he was undergoing with you?"
"You've told us about your friendship with Lucy Watkins; did she ever approach you about donating sperm?"
Teller picked over details like a vulture cleaning meat off a bone, seeding doubt in the prosecution's case about the fertility files that Rhodes himself had kept. Reid knew it was working because he couldn't stop himself from questioning the lack of physical evidence at the clinics.
And when he looked at Hotch, he saw the concern on his face.
The trail recessed for the day at 4pm and the team headed to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner. Talk turned, as it always did, to past cases and unsolved crimes and for that Reid was grateful. He did not want to face another question about Rhodes or the trail, even those kindly meant, after the harsh cross-examine. It would be too much. The frustration he'd felt on the witness stand was still coiled in his gut, waiting for a release yet held in a kind of horrible limbo by the knowledge that he would have to continue the cross-examination tomorrow.
Reid pushed his food around his plate and made a real attempt to joining in the conversation. He could tell by the kind smiles he received for every sentence he spoke that they appreciated his efforts. Yet something about that grated against nerves already frayed so badly by Teller's words.
Morgan refused to let him get the subway and insisted on dropped him home, even going so far as getting out of the car when Reid did and walking him to the door of his apartment block. That tight knot inside him wound tighter.
"I know you don't wanna talk about, Kid, I get that." Morgan said. "But when you're ready…"
Reid swallowed, jaw clenched against the roil of anger that he just couldn't push away. "Thanks."
He turned to go. "Get some sleep, Pretty Boy."
The nickname ran through him like nails down a blackboard. "Why do you call me that?"
Morgan stopped, turned back, frowning at the sudden anger. "It's just…something to call you besides Reid." He said.
"And you can't think of anything respectful?"
"Reid, I am not disrespecting you." Morgan said slowly and calmly. "OK, so you're not a boy anymore, but plenty of people think you're pretty and…" he shifted uncomfortably, "with that big ol' brain of yours, maybe I think you should remember that."
The reasonable reply did nothing to calm the storm building inside him.
"It's not like I call you that every day."
"I hate it." He snapped out. That wasn't true. It was the anger talking and he just couldn't shut it up.
Morgan looked surprised. "I didn't know." He said. "I'm sorry."
Reid's innards coiled with frustration at Morgan's calm acceptance of his anger.
"It won't happen again, OK?" The concern on Morgan face almost made him step back. "OK?"
"Yeah." Reid saw more concern in his friend's eyes, indecision too, unsure of whether to leave or not. "Bye." The word came out before he could stop it.
Morgan flinched a little at the sharp word and there was a very dangerous second when Reid thought that his friend would refuse and argue his case for staying. But after a moment, he simply nodded and said, "I'll see you tomorrow, K…Reid, Spencer."
Reid watched him walk back to his car then began the long climb up the flights of stairs to his home, every step more exhausting than the one before.
Once inside in small home, the silence and the walls seemed to close around him and he hurried to the window to push it open. Chill evening air rushed in and made him shiver and he sank down onto his knees before shifting to sit with his back to the wall. The sounds of the city filtered in along with cold; traffic, sirens, yelling, music…
It wasn't enough to drown out the words in his head. His mind was stuck on replay.
Reid put his crossed arms on his knees then lay this head down on them. His eyes fell on the baseball bat he kept hidden behind the sofa, a security measure begun long ago, when locked rooms had ceased to feel safe for him. Unfolding his limbs, he reached out and tugged it from its hiding place. It felt heavy and rough in his hand.
He stood up. He couldn't shut off the replay and he felt the rage finally break free as he was forced to listen, verbatim, to every word said in that courtroom.
But the sound of the bat striking wood drowned it out. The beautiful piano, that made such wonderful music when played, made an even more satisfying noise as he obliterated it.
8 November 2011
United States Court, Washington DC
Morgan smiled as Reid slipped into the passenger seat of his car. The kid looked a little better than the day before, as if he had finally succeeded in getting some sleep. Most of the terrible tension that seemed to be eating him up the day before had faded, but in its place was a pattern of worry that etched lines into his features.
The car pulled out onto the road and Morgan glanced over at Reid. "You're looking a lot better, Kid."
Something about that made Reid turn his head away to look out of the passenger side window. "I'm sorry about yesterday." He said. "I didn't mean to…"
"Hey, I understand." He told him. "I was at the back of that courtroom. I saw how Teller treated you."
"He was doing his job." The reply sounded entirely too much like a mantra.
"Yeah, but doesn't have to enjoy it quite so much." Morgan said. "You have a right to be angry about it."
"I shouldn't have taken it out on you."
"That's what friends are for, Reid." Morgan said. "And these are some big broad shoulders, all right, so any time you feel like laying into them, I'll be there."
The grin that split Reid's face was wonderful to see.
Rossi took his seat next to Hotch at the back of the courtroom, eyes falling on the easel and board that had been used the day before. Pinned to front were the pictures taken by Milo Kullen.
"Tell me he isn't going to use those." Rossi said.
"Teller can't move to dismiss the pictures but he can discredit them."
"Discredit them?" He repeated then caught the dark shadow in his friend's eyes and realised how hard this was for him.
Their attention was then taken by the sight of Reid retaking the witness stand. Rossi watched the little colour that Reid did have in his face drain away at the sight of the pictures.
Teller approached the board and waved his hand at them. "Dr Reid, can you confirm for us again that this is you?"
"Can you be sure?"
Rossi watched Reid pull his eyes away. "I…"
"Objection, your honour." Hunter said. "We have already established the identity of the man in these photographs and have heard the testimony of Col. Phillips, an expert in the field of facial recognition software, confirming that is Dr Reid and I cannot see any reason why Mr Teller is persisting in- ."
"You've made your point, counsel." The judge said. "Move this along, Mr Teller."
"Do you recognise any of the hands in these photographs as belonging to Kimball Rhodes, a man that you claim to have known, by your own admission very well, for 6 years, 5 months and now 18 days?"
"In fact, the only thing vaguely recognisable – and I do stress the word vaguely – is the computer enhanced image of a medallion necklace that the prosecution claim is identical to the one worn by the defendant at the time of his arrest." Teller dug into his shirt and lifted a St. Christopher free of his neck. "Patron saint of travellers." He said. "It's not an uncommon item of jewellery, Dr Reid. In fact, I have to wonder how many members of the jury are wearing these." He smiled at the box of men and women.
Rossi saw Reid bite his lip and ached for him.
Teller crossed to his table and picked up a remote control. "You have a medallion yourself, do you not?"
Absolute horror crossed Reid's face and Rossi heard Hotch's intake of breath beside him.
"Objection!" Hunter got to his feet. "Dr Reid's possessions are not on trial here."
Rossi leaned in to Hotch. "Lucky guess?"
Hotch was watching Teller closely. "Let's hope so."
"Sustained." The judge said.
Teller walked along the row of jury members, holding up the remote control. He got to the end where a TV was fixed and turned to Reid. "Perhaps you'll recognise the defendant here?" He said and pressed play.
The screen lit and began to play the short clip of Reid's assault taken on Milo's phone. The sounds of it echoed in the court and the hitch of Reid's breath on the footage wrenched a stifled cry from the young man forced to watch. Rossi was suddenly glad Reid hadn't eaten. By the colour of his skin, he was clearly close to vomiting.
He heard a muffled curse from further down the line of spectators and turned to see Morgan clenching his jaw against what looked like a very intense desire to tear Teller to shreds.
He could relate.
Teller moved to stand right in front of Reid. "Do you recognise Professor Rhodes on this video, Dr Reid?"
Reid's head was turned as far away from the TV as his neck could stretch. He made some indistinct movement that Rossi guessed was a shake of his head.
"Answer the question, Dr Reid!" Teller demanded, leaning forward. "Do you recognise Kimball Rhodes?"
"Can you repeat that louder for the jury?"
Teller stood back, clearly satisfied with his work. "I have no further questions at this time, your honour, but I'd like to retain the right re-call the witness."
The judge agreed and swiftly recessed the court.
Outside the court, Reid found the team waiting for him. Morgan pulled him into a hug and Garcia, unable to wait her turn, simply hugged them both at the same time. And as soon as they released him, Rossi gripped his face in both hands and kissed him firmly on both cheeks. Then JJ and Emily pulled him into their arms as well.
And finally Hotch stepped forward and held out his hand. Reid took it and Hotch smiled at him warmly and used his other hand to squeeze Reid's shoulder.
9 November 2011
Noah Layton gave evidence in the morning. He emerged from the courtroom feeling sick to his stomach but relieved. No matter what happened now, that part was over.
He stayed until the end of the day, milling around in a kind of daze, driven on by a need that had grown over the last few months. He had almost given up when finally, in the corridor, he found the man he was looking for.
"Dr Reid?" He said as he approached him.
"Noah?" He looked concerned and Noah felt dread run through him at the thought that the man might ask him about his time on the witness stand. He wasn't ready to deal with that yet. It was over and right now, that's all he could handle.
"Could, um…could we grab a coffee?" He asked. "I'd, ah, I guess I'd really like to…I don't know, talk. If that's OK?"
Reid smiled. "Sure." He replied. "I think there's a Starbucks outside."
Noah giggled nervously. "Man, there's always a Starbucks outside."
Reid greeted the lame joke with another, this time more genuine, smile. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
They walked out of the courthouse and crossed the road and then the small patch of grass surrounding a war memorial to the row of cafes and patisseries just beyond.
Inside Starbucks, they ordered drinks and found a small table by the window. Through the glass, the tall, majestic memorial could be seen in all its glory, sunlight bathing the dull bronze. Behind it, the ominous breathe of the court loomed like a nightmare.
"I…um…" Noah took a gulp of his coffee, screwing his eyes up at the burn of the hot liquid on his throat. "I wanted to say…well, thank you." He tried to make those two words sound casual, speaking them with a shrug of his shoulders.
Reid look surprised.
Noah hurried to explain before the doctor could speak. "When it first happened, I…it felt like there would never be a time when I didn't think about it." He pressed his fingers to the paper cup. "But after a while, I… I mean, I found out that… Oh God this sounds so horrible and I'm sorry, I'm so sorry but I felt better when I found it had happened to you too!"
Noah didn't dare look at the other man but he could see Dr Reid's fingers go rigid around his coffee cup. "Noah…"
"No, I need to say this. Please." He drew a long breath. "After that, I kept thinking about you, about how you'd come to Cal Tech and do those seminars and…you were…" He sought the right word, didn't find it, and could only finish lamely, "…OK. You were OK." He glanced up at Reid. There was none of the reproach he had feared in his face. "I guess what I'm trying to say is… You gave me hope." He looked out the window to stare at the courthouse. Somewhere in its depth was the man who had done this to them both. "I wanted you to know that in case…" it helps… But he couldn't finish the sentence.
He looked back at Reid. "I've never been to DC before."
It took the doctor a moment to force back whatever he wanted to say. He knew he should let the man say what he needed to say about Rhodes or the case or whatever it was, it would only be fair since he had unloaded, but he had to be selfish right now. It was the only way he could get through this.
After a few seconds, he saw Reid relax, letting go of his response as if he'd never wanted to make it. "It's a great city…" He began.
Talk turned to polite and safe topics and after ten minutes, Dr Reid said his goodbyes and left. Noah saw a man follow Reid with his eyes as he crossed Starbucks and then got to his feet and shadowed Reid out the door.
Noah dug his fingernails into his the palms of his hands. Paranoia.
Just paranoia and it seemed like he would never be able to let it go.
10 November 2011
Behavioural Analysis Unit, Quantico, Virginia
"He's what?" Morgan's hand hit Hotch's desk. He turned away in disgust.
Hotch allowed him his rage; his own, while better contained, equalled it.
"Does Reid know?"
"I chose not to tell him."
"He's has a right to know, Hotch." He yelled. "We all did!"
"I understand your anger but Reid needed to focus on giving evidence." Hotch explained. "And Hunter agreed."
"So it was for his own good?" Morgan spat. "Hotch; I am sick and tired of being kept in the dark just because you think we can't handle the truth!" The reference to the deception over Emily stung. "You know, Reid may never completely trust JJ ever again and I am not going to just stand by and let you ruin his trust in me or in Garcia and Rossi. If you don't tell him, then I will."
11 November 2011
United States Court, Washington, DC
Days of evidence had passed. Only Hotch and Rossi stayed for all of it. Hunter was good, presenting a strong picture of an unstable man finally giving in to his desires to dominate young men when presented with an opportunity to do so in the form of a promise made to a dying woman and backed it up with solid facts and expertly presented evidence. He led the jury to question Rhodes motives in befriending young boys, to think about the planning he put into his abductions when he treated the outcome – the fertility treatments – with none of the same intensity.
Finally on the following Monday, it was time for the defence to put its case and as the court rose for the entrance of the judge, Rossi leaned into Hotch's side.
"Have you told him?"
Everyone returned to their seats.
"Hotch; please tell me you told Reid about the first witness for the defence?"
The friend's eyes were dark. "Morgan's informing him."
Morgan was waiting for Reid at the top of the long wide steps outside of the court building. There was tension in his shoulders and his features were set like granite.
A flurry of possibilities flew through Spencer's head: miss-trial, his testimony struck from the record, a not guilty verdict…
"Reid." Morgan said as soon as he reached the top step.
Something caught his eye and he focused over Morgan's shoulder. It felt a stab of recognition and shock run through him so sharp that he almost staggered under its force. From a long distance away, he heard his own voice utter; "I know what you're going to say."
Morgan's face betrayed his surprise and he turned, following Reid's line of sight. The movement cleared Reid's view, so that he could stare unobstructed at the man he never thought he'd see again.
In the courtroom, Graham Teller stood up. "The defence calls Jason Gideon to the stand."
-end of part two-