Title: Aingidheachd
By: Tiffany F
Pairing: past Gideon/Reid & Reid/Rossi
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't claim, no money made here.
Note: The title is Gaelic for "evil".
Warnings: non-con/rape, dark!Gideon, Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Summary: When Rossi comes back to the BAU, he quickly realizes there's something not quite right with Spencer Reid. He tries to figure it out while the team keeps telling him that it's hero worship and harmless. When he finds out how badly Reid was hurt by Jason Gideon, Rossi finds two new goals: helping Reid to heal, and hunting down Gideon to take a hammer to some very tender areas.


Chapter 1

Dave Rossi was officially back in the BAU five hours when he received the first clue something was not quite right in the Unit. He was sitting in his new office reviewing files and debating another cup of coffee when Spencer Reid, the resident genius, crept into the office and placed a full mug on the desk. Rossi didn't look up from the file in front of him, didn't ask any questions, and watched Reid pick up the empty mug just as silently before creeping away again.

The first thought to cross Rossi's mind was simply that the team took turns getting coffee for each other and no one thought to mention it to him. That thought lasted until he looked out at the rest of his new team and saw that none of them had fresh cups of coffee on their desks. Rossi decided to chalk it up to hero worship and went back to the large stack of files he still had to review.

It happened again. And again. Like clockwork, every two hours a new mug of coffee appeared on his desk and the old one vanished. Rossi left the Bureau that night thinking that Reid was odder than anything he'd expected. Still, it was nice to not have to break his train of thought to go and get himself coffee. A stray thought flickered through his mind that maybe Reid knew how much review and catch-up Rossi had to do and was just being thoughtful his first day back.

By the next morning, Rossi managed to forget about the coffee, right up until he walked into his office and found a piece of pound cake and a cup of coffee from a local bakery sitting in the center of his desk. With a frown, Rossi looked back out and saw Reid was already at his desk, working on something. Wondering what happened in the mind of a genius, Rossi ate the cake, and then ventured next door with the cup of coffee in his hand.

"Got a minute?" he asked, tapping on the door.

"Whenever you ask me that, it doesn't matter if I do or not because you're going to talk to me regardless," Hotch said. He put his pen down with a sigh and leaned back in his chair. "What's wrong?"

Rossi shut the door behind him. "This is going to sound like a really weird question, but does Dr. Reid ever bring you coffee?"

"No, he doesn't," Hotch said. "Why?"

"Does he bring anyone else on the team coffee?"

"Not that I'm aware of, no," Hotch said. "Again, why?"

"Because he brought me a fresh mug every two hours yesterday without me asking or saying a word to him," Rossi said. "And he also brought me breakfast and coffee."

Hotch grinned. "He did seem in awe of you yesterday, Dave," he pointed out.

"I thought of that. I also thought he was doing the same for everyone else, or you guys all took turns and just forgot to tell me about it," Rossi said.

"Even if we did, I seriously doubt we would have told you anyway because that's not something you'd do," Hotch broke in.

Rossi managed a glare. "I could try," he said. "But you're probably right. Then I did exactly what you did and forgot about it. There's something not right here, Hotch, and I can't work out what it is. Are you sure he's never done anything like this before?"

Hotch shrugged. "He'd bring Jason coffee and breakfast sometimes," he said. "They were really close."

"I'm sure he's noticed that I'm not Gideon," Rossi said with a shudder. "God, even being compared to him makes me shudder."

"Jason has his good points, Dave," Hotch said.

"Yeah, and so do I," Rossi said. "In fact, I probably have more of them. I wouldn't have run off without a word to anyone."

"True, but he didn't run without a word to anyone," Hotch said. "He left a letter for Reid up at that cabin of his. Reid just told me about the letter, I never asked to see it."

"That close, huh?"

"Not that type of close, Dave, get your mind focused for once," Hotch said with a sigh. "Look, if you're that worried about the coffee and the food, just mention something to Reid. He's a good kid and probably just wants you to feel like you're part of the team."

Rossi shook his head and looked back towards the door, beyond which the desks were arranged. "That's not it, Hotch," he said. "Like I said, I can't put my finger on it, but there's something wrong here. Something that centers right around Reid and this behavior."

"Then profile him in your own time," Hotch said. "How are you doing with those files?"

"Give me a week and I'll be up to speed," Rossi said. "I didn't realize how busy you all had been. I'm surprised they're keeping the larger teams together. They'd get more solves with smaller teams, and save money too."

"The larger team works better, as our solve rate has shown," Hotch said. "You'll figure it out fast enough, Dave. Now, if you don't mind, I do have to get this paperwork done. That's if we want to have hotel rooms to ourselves when we're out in the field, that is."

"Fine, kick me out into the cold," Rossi said, standing up.

"Dave, let me know if there is something up with Reid, will you?" Hotch asked. "I worry about him."

Rossi nodded and headed back towards his office, thinking that if Hotch really did worry about Reid, then he would have noticed the odd behavior before Rossi pointed it out.

Chapter 2

Rossi set his alarm behind them and then kicked off his shoes, very glad to be home, even if he knew it was going to be a long night. "Shoes off, jacket next to mine and find a place to sit in the living room," he said. "What do you want to drink?"

"Water, please," Reid said softly, head still down. He hadn't looked at Rossi since the confusing in Rossi's office. "Where are you going to be sitting?"

"My recliner," Rossi said. He headed in towards the kitchen, figuring there wasn't enough alcohol in his house to get him through the next couple of hours. Not that he wasn't tempted to try, but he had to keep his wits about him to understand what the hell it was happening with Reid. He grabbed two bottles of water out of the fridge and headed into the living room.

Reid was kneeling on the floor next to Rossi's chair. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again. He might not know what was going on, but he was starting to get a sinking feeling in his stomach. "Here," he said, handing Reid one of the bottles of water. "All right, Spencer, you can lean against my legs again if you want to. Is that a comfortable position for you?"

"Yes," Reid said. He shifted so his knees were tucked up against his chest and leaned against Rossi's leg with a sigh.

"We're going to start at the beginning here," Rossi said. "Tell me what your rules are, Spencer. I need to know the rules before I can tell you if I want to keep them or not."

"But don't you know them?" Reid asked. "Jason said that all senior agents know them."

Rossi bit back a curse. He'd forgotten that part. "I want to see if Gideon changed anything with you, Spencer," he said. "List the rules out for me and then we'll talk about them, okay?"

"Okay. The first rule is to be at work by five every morning," Reid said. "To bring some sort of breakfast and coffee for my senior officer and leave it on his desk."

"Wouldn't the coffee be cold by the time the senior officer arrived?"

"Jason got to work at six," Reid said. "So do you, so the coffee is just at drinking temperature within that hour."

"All right. Rule Two?"

"To bring in fresh coffee every two hours regardless if the mug in the office is empty or not," Reid said. "To make no noise when making the coffee exchange so the senior agent is not disturbed."

Some of what Rossi had been observing in the Unit was starting to make sense. A twisted sense, but at least he had an answer to why Reid was bringing him coffee and breakfast. He had a feeling that those two weren't the end of the rules though. "Rule Three?"

"To help the senior agent relax after a stressful day at work," Reid said. "Jason preferred massages in the office. He had me do finger exercises so I could help him more."

"Rule Four?"

"To be available to the senior agent for any requested sexual needs," Reid said softly, cuddling up against Rossi's leg. "Failure to follow the rules would lead to prompt and immediate dismissal from the Unit."

Rossi clenched the hand not running through Reid's hair into a fist. He was amazed at how furious he felt at those words. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Spencer, when did Gideon teach you these rules?" he asked softly.

"My first day in the Unit," Reid said. "He called me into his office and told me everything that would be expected of me from that moment forward."

Acting on a hunch, Rossi asked the question he didn't want to hear the answer to. "I remember a Rule Five, Spencer," he said. "Can you remind me of it, please?"

"To accept any punishment the senior agent feels is appropriate for transgressions either in the field or within the Unit itself," Reid said.

"What did Gideon punish you for, Spencer?" Rossi asked.

"Taking too long to talk with other agents when I was supposed to be working on cases, eye contact when we weren't working on cases, forgetting to bring him coffee or breakfast, or paying too much attention to Hotch or Morgan," Reid said. "He would also punish me for not finding solutions quickly enough on cases, but those punishments were random, depending on the case and the outcome."

Rossi almost growled. He'd known that Gideon was a bastard, but he never thought the man would be enough of a bastard to force a fellow agent into such a twisted relationship. Then encourage the agent to attempt to continue the relationship with another. Rossi knew, at the moment, that he would have to tread very, very carefully with his next words. "Good boy, Spencer, you did perfect," he said. "I'm very proud of you for being honest with me. Now I want you to listen to me for a moment."

"Yes, Sir."

"We're going to forget about Rule Five from this moment on," Rossi said. "From what I've seen, you've never been unprofessional when you're at work, and no one can be all-seeing, no matter how much we might wish we were. I know your mind, you won't ever forget the Rule, but I want you to remember that I will not enforce it. If you forget coffee or breakfast, then you forget and I'll eat in the cafeteria. You talk to Morgan, Hotch, Emily, and Garcia as much as you want to. I know you're never unprofessional, and I trust you to do what's right."

Reid nodded against his leg. "Thank you, Sir," he said softly.

"All right then. We'll talk more about the other rules in the morning, once we've both had a good night's sleep," Rossi said. "Where did Gideon have you sleep?"

"On the floor at the foot of his bed," Reid said softly.

"That's not going to happen either," Rossi said. "You'll sleep in the bed with me. I snore, so I don't know how well you'll sleep, but you'll be in the bed with me."

"Really?" Reid asked just as softly.

"Yes, Spencer, really," Rossi said. "We're just going to sleep. There will be no sexual touching until we have talked about the rest of the rules and I'm certain that we both understand where we stand. Okay?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"That's good," Rossi said. He felt like one weight had left his shoulders, only for another to land directly on them. Reid wasn't broken, but he needed special handling to make sure that he didn't break. Rossi wasn't sure what he was going to do about the rest of the stupid rules Gideon invented and enforced against an innocent young man that was only looking for approval in the world, but he'd figure something out.

Chapter 4

Rossi didn't sleep that night. He pretended to fall asleep and waited until Reid was asleep next to him before settling in for a long night of thinking. The first problem that presented itself to his mind was figuring out exactly how Gideon managed to hide the fact that he was abusing one of his team from the very team that should have picked up on the problems. Rossi didn't want to let everyone on the team know what Reid had been enduring for years, but he knew that he would have to tell Hotch. There was a conversation he would have to record, if only because he knew that the younger man wouldn't believe him without proof, and Rossi didn't know if Reid was stable enough at that moment to handle an interrogation from the unit chief. Hotch had a way of looking at people, even his team, like he wanted to kill them, and that wasn't what Reid needed just then.

The second problem would be adapting the rules into a relationship that Rossi felt comfortable maintaining until Reid could learn to stand on his own again. The worst part, for him anyway, was the rule about sexual needs. Rossi had never once looked at a man sexually and he really didn't feel like trying at his age. Especially not when it was coerced. He wasn't even sure how Reid felt about the rule anyway. For all he knew, Reid hated it and wanted to forget about sex for the next twenty years. Then again, the kid had gone for his belt in the office, so it was equally possible that sex was not a conditioned part of his day.

"You're not snoring," a soft voice said next to him. "Are you okay, Sir?"

"I'm fine, Spencer, I'm just thinking," Rossi said.

"Are you mad at me?"

"No," Rossi said immediately. "No, I'm not mad at you, Spencer. You do not have to leave the Unit. You are such an important part of our team, and we wouldn't be able to function without you there."

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said. "I really enjoy what I'm doing and I don't ever want to leave the team."

"You have a place there until you choose to leave," Rossi said. "I guess if neither of us can sleep, we might as well talk."

Reid rolled onto his side and pushed the pillow up under his head. "I'm sorry for crying on you and causing all the fuss, Sir," he said softly. "I just didn't know what it was you wanted from me, and I was scared."

"It's okay, Spencer, you didn't do anything wrong," Rossi said. "Well, we might as well start with Rule One. Do you like getting to work so early, or would you rather come in at six with the rest of the team?"

"I like the quiet in that first hour, Sir," Reid said. "I can get my email done and be ready to work on cases by six. I think it lets me get more done during the day."

"I'm just worried that you're not getting enough sleep," Rossi said. "What time do you go to bed?"

"It depends on the night," Reid said. "Sometimes I go to sleep as soon as I get home and other times I'm up all night because I can't stop thinking, Sir."

"How many nights would you spend with Gideon?"

"Just weekends, Sir," Reid said. "During the week, if he needed me for anything, he would lock us in the office and use the sofa or have me hide under his desk. Jason said it was too risky for us to spend every night together."

Rossi made a mental note to have the sofa in his office burned, and was glad he'd never had a chance to sit on it. "Do you sleep better when you're alone or if someone is with you?" he asked.

"I sleep better with someone in the same room with me, Sir," Reid said. "I've never shared a bed before, so I don't know if it would let me sleep better or worse than I do now."

"Is staying with me something you would like to do?"

"Like to do, Sir?"

"Spencer, I told you that there's going to be no sexual contact until we're both feeling comfortable with where the rules are standing," Rossi said. "If you would like to go to your house to sleep, then I want you to tell me that. I won't be mad if you want time to yourself. That's natural for everyone, and I won't take that away from you."

"I've never had the choice before, Sir," Reid said softly. "I don't know what to say."

Rossi bit back a curse. Trying to change too much at once would do more harm than good to the kid. "All right, Spencer, we'll stick to the schedule you're familiar with. Spend weekends with me here at the house, and weekdays at your own place. But I want you to tell me if you need time alone, even when you're here, okay?"

"I'll try, Sir."

"All right then. Rule Two is fine. I don't mind you bringing me coffee, and actually find it comforting," Rossi admitted. "It's nice to not have to break my train of thought to go looking for something to drink."

"I'm glad I can help you out, Sir," Reid said.

"Rule Three then. I'm not bit on massages, only because I've got too many enemies to feel comfortable with anyone touching my neck," Rossi said. "I usually unwind with a glass of something or cook myself something. If you don't mind putting up with me cooking, you're welcome to come over for dinner and conversation about whatever you want to talk about that night. That would be relaxing for me."

"I can try. People usually want me to shut up rather than talk," Reid said.

Rossi bit his tongue again. He really didn't want to think about how much damage Reid suffered before Gideon left the Bureau. He knew that not all of it was Gideon's fault, and not all of it would have been at the Bureau, but the man took a nervous and already fragile person and twisted that faith into something so dark that Rossi wouldn't be happy until he managed to track Gideon down and have some final words on exactly what darkness truly was. "I like listening to you talk, kid," he said. "I might not always have the patience for it at work, but I like listening to you. Besides, it's more fun to share a good meal with a partner than to eat by yourself."

"All right, I'll try, Sir."

"Rule Four," Rossi said. "I'll be honest with you, Spencer. I've never once looked at a man sexually, and I don't know that I'm even remotely bisexual. What about you? What's your preference?"

"I didn't have one before I came to the Unit, Sir," Reid said. "For the longest while I thought I might be asexual because nothing ever caused sexual feelings in me, but now I feel like I identify more with homosexual than anything else."

"Not by choice though," Rossi said before he could stop himself.

"I enjoyed what Jason did to me, Sir," Reid said softly.

"Spencer, you know that rape victims will often enjoy the physical stimulation even if they are fighting with their very being to escape the situation," Rossi said gently. "For now, what do you need from me?"

"I need to know that you're not angry with me, Sir," Reid said. "I need to know that I'm making you happy."

Rossi felt his heart break at those words. He reached over and pulled the younger man into a tight hug. "You are, Spencer," he whispered against the soft hair pressing on his lips. "You are."

Chapter 5

Rossi wasn't sure what time he fell asleep, but he must have because his cell phone ringing jarred him awake at a little after four in the morning. "Yeah."

"Dave, we have an emergency," Hotch said. "Ten young men and women missing from a town in California, and another five just went missing. We're going wheels up in forty."

"Let me grab my bag and I'll head to the airport," Rossi said, rubbing his eyes. Reid was asleep next to him, curled up into as small a ball as possible given his height.

"Do you know where Reid is?" Hotch asked. "Morgan says he's not at his apartment and he's not answering his phone."

That was a trick question, but he wasn't sure exactly how to play out the trick. "Kid's on my sofa," he said. "Reid's been bugging me to watch some Sci-Fi show and I finally gave in. I'll wake him up and get him to the jet."

"Thank you," Hotch said. "See you there."

Positive that he'd just walked into some sort of a trap, Rossi turned the phone off and reached over gently to shake Reid's shoulder. "Spencer," he said softly. "We have a callout."

"I heard," Reid said, rubbing his eyes. "Which show have I been bothering you to watch?"

"You pick," Rossi said, slipping out of bed and heading for his closet. "Just let me know a few facts for the first couple of episodes because I'm starting to get the feeling that Hotch is testing me about something, and I don't like not having all the answers."

The plane ride out to the other coast was spent reviewing the known facts. The kids were from a mix of backgrounds, economic levels, family type, and schools. There was no obvious connection between any of them, and the team finally broke the round-table to review the files in more detail before they were on the ground in California.

"So, which show did Reid manage to convince you to try out?" Hotch asked softly while he and Rossi were working through the files together.

"Something called Stargate SG-1," Rossi replied. "I still don't understand what the show is about, but the special effects on the Gate and event horizon are pretty good."

"Never heard of it, but it's good to see Reid making an effort to interact more with people away from work," Hotch said. His eyes drifted over to the young man sitting by himself across the plane. "I'll admit that I was worried about him right after Jason left."

Rossi bit his tongue hard enough to draw blood. He wasn't sure exactly how Hotch – one of the best profilers ever to come to the BAU – could be so blind towards the suffering Reid endured for the years that Jason Gideon was in the Bureau. Rossi still didn't know all the details, but he knew that Reid acted more like a fully trained sexual slave than he did independent and intelligent young man. Not that Rossi had anything against the sexual subcultures, but he was a firm believer that everyone should be able to make the choices about their sexuality and how they wanted to experience intimacy. What Gideon did was so close to an unsub's behavior that Rossi was almost ready to start an investigation on his own to hunt the bastard down and, at the least, take some revenge for Reid.

He would never be able to forget Reid's confession that he'd never really felt any sort of sexual attraction to anyone before he came to the Bureau. "Reid's a good kid with a good heart," he said, aware that Hotch was staring at him. "He just needs support to find his confidence."

"Jason always did his best to keep Reid at the back of the investigations, away from crime scenes, and I'll admit that I didn't understand why when he first did it," Hotch admitted. "I do now. I know that Reid has nightmares from what he's seen, and I wish I could have saved him from those."

Nightmares from cases or his enforced servitude, Rossi wondered. "The kid needs more chances to show what he's made of," Rossi said. "The more you coddle him, the more harm you're doing."

"I don't agree with you on that one," Hotch said. "I know that Reid needs as much as information as possible to link the new case with the ones in his mind, but I've started to think that keeping him in the station is the best idea."

"You mean keep him where the local cops can stare at him and make fun of him?" Rossi asked. "Let me partner him on this case and I guarantee that you'll see a Reid that you haven't seen before."

"Why the sudden interest in him?" Hotch asked.

"It's not sudden, if you'd been paying attention," Rossi replied sharply. "I've been interested in meeting Reid for a couple of years before I came back to work. I didn't know what to make of him at first, but he's a good kid that needs to be able to fly, Hotch. If you keep smothering him like Gideon did, then he is never going to be the profiler that he could be, and that's a loss that everyone will feel."

Hotch narrowed his eyes a little, but finally nodded. "Fine. You work with him on this case and we'll see who is right," he said.

"Don't be so petty, Hotch," Rossi almost snapped. "I taught you better than that when you first came to the BAU." He picked up his folder and moved across the plane to sit down next to Reid. "How are you doing?"

"There are a few indicators that match up to previous disappearances, but nothing that matches up exactly," Reid replied, not looking up from his folder. "I don't believe these kids were abducted, Rossi. There's too many gone too soon together. Unless some sort of drug was employed, then these kids went willingly with whoever it is that has them."

"Are you thinking more along the lines of a cult possibly heading towards a mass suicide, or someone looking for a bunch of kids for immoral purposes?" Rossi asked.

"Until I have more data on the children involved, I won't be able to say for certain," Reid said. He finally looked up. "Right now all I'm seeing is a group of children that have nothing in common that anyone is aware of. I need to know more details from their lives. No large crime is truly random, although there can be random elements involved, and I'm honestly not certain that any crime has been committed here."

"So you think we should keep the idea of a commune on the board," Rossi said, flipping through his notes. "I think if that's the case then we would have news of them being spotted buying supplies and no one has seen any of them since they vanished."

"That they know of," Reid said. "The local police report says that they have only now released the pictures of the kids involved, so it's possible that someone has seen them and didn't know enough to report them to the police. I think we'll find that there's a large number of tips to be sorted through when we arrive at the police department."

Rossi nodded. "Hotch has you paired up with me for this one, kid," he said. "You okay with that?"

Reid's eyes dropped, but he nodded. "Yeah," he said softly. "That's okay with me."

Rossi leaned over and lowered his voice to a bare whisper. "Remember this for me, Spencer," he said. "You make me proud. Remember that during this case no matter what happens. Rule Five is no longer on the table."

"Thank you," Reid whispered in reply.

Chapter 6

The first day was a disaster. The local cops weren't sure how to handle the suddenly influx of information and possible sitings of the missing kids. Hotch took over immediately, which only made the local police chief angry. Rossi grabbed Reid and took him to a corner where they could set up their command center and start looking through the more detailed information provided to them. Morgan and Emily headed out to visit with the families of the missing children, and JJ started to try and get a handle on the media.

When they finally made it to the hotel around one in the morning, Rossi didn't even hesitate. He grabbed a room key from Hotch, Reid's arm, and went to his room. He thought he could feel both Hotch and Morgan watching him, but he wasn't going to let Reid out of his sight until he was certain the young man felt a little more stable with the changes around him.

"Are you tired, Spencer?" he asked, once they were in the room.

"Not really. I think my mind is going too fast right now, Sir," Reid replied, eyes on the floor. "But if you want to sleep, I'll lie quietly in bed so I don't disturb you."

"I'm not going to get to sleep any time soon," Rossi admitted. He sank into the chair that was tucked back in the corner, feet up on the matching rest, and wasn't the least bit surprised when Reid sat down on the floor and leaned against his legs. "Did Gideon make you sit on the floor, Spencer?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "I was never allowed to sit on any sort of furniture unless it was the sofa in his office. It's comfortable though, and he never petted me."

Rossi stilled the hand that was carding through Reid's hair. "Do you not like it?" he asked softly.

"It makes me feel like you want me here, Sir," Reid said. "That's not something I've felt before."

"Spencer, are you going to be able to tell me more about what Gideon made you do?" Rossi asked.

"I'll do whatever you tell me to, Sir," Reid said.

Which was exactly the problem. Rossi didn't want Reid to do something because he'd been told to do it, he wanted Reid to do something because he wanted to do it. The more he learned from Reid, the more he realized exactly how badly the younger man was abused by someone that should have been sheltering and helping him find his way in a new world. Rossi just wasn't sure exactly how to ask Reid if the younger man knew he was a victim of abuse and needed to talk about it in order to heal.

"Spencer, how old were you when you came to the BAU?"

"I was just about to turn twenty, Sir," Reid replied. "Jason found me out in California where I was finishing up a degree and convinced me to come to the Bureau. Training was a nightmare, but he had me assigned immediately to the BAU upon graduation."

Gideon probably profiled the kid before the end of their first conversation and knew that he had the perfect victim coming right to him. "What was your first reaction to the rules he presented to you?" he asked softly.

"Shock," Reid said. "Surprise."


Reid leaned in a little closer and pressed his face in against Rossi's jeans. "No one mentioned anything about the rules in training," he said softly. "There was no warning that there were more rules to learn after assignment to your unit. No one ever said anything."

"Did you ever think about telling him no?" Rossi asked.

"No," Reid said.

"Why not?" Rossi said.

"Because it meant that he saw me," Reid whispered.

Rossi's heart did break hearing that. "Come up here, Spencer," he said. It took a few minutes to get settled with Reid in his lap, because the kid was all arms and legs, but they finally managed it. "Did you ever talk to anyone else on the team about the rules?"

"Jason told me not to," Reid said. "I didn't bend under his will immediately, Sir, but he told me that if I wanted to stay in the unit and work with the team, then I had to do what he told me. I have to follow the rules or I'll be reassigned."

"I'll make sure that doesn't happen," Rossi said. "Yes, Spencer, I do have that sort of power within the Bureau. I told you that you're going to be able to stay in the unit until you want to leave, and no one is going to force you to quit or accept a reassignment."

"I'm so confused, Sir."

"I know you are, Spencer. I know you are," Rossi said. "It's hard to put all of yourself into the hands of a stranger and trust that they won't hurt you. I'm going to do my best to show you that not all of those rules are a good thing, and that you don't need to follow them all. I know that changes are hard, but remember what Gideon said in his letter. I might not ask you for the same things that he did."

Reid nodded, his hair tickling Rossi's nose. "I remember," he whispered. "I still don't know what you want from me, Sir."

"I want you to shine, Spencer," Rossi said gently. "I want you to step out of the shadows and into the light and see what a truly remarkable young man you actually are."

"How do you know that I am?" Reid asked. "I've got a lurking gene in my body that could drive me mad with no warning and no one has ever wanted me before, not unless they could use me for something."

The life the kid lived before the abuse and brain-washing had to have only played right into Gideon's hands. Rossi bit back a sigh. "I know because I see you every day, Spencer. I see you working and know that you care enough about people around you to pay attention to them. You might not like strangers much, but you still work hard to help him because you're passionate about your work. That's not true for everyone, and that's how I know how truly remarkable you are."

Reid was about to answer when there was a sharp knock on the door. "Dave, can I talk to you for a minute?" Hotch asked.

"Sure, be right there," Rossi called in reply. "Stay in the chair and let me talk to Aaron, Spencer. I have an idea of why he's here, and it might be to check on the rules. Would you be able to handle that tonight?"

"If you tell me to, yes, Sir," Reid said.

"All right then, I'll see what he wants to do," Rossi said. "Stay put for me."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said softly.

Chapter 7

Hotch had his arms crossed when Rossi opened the door. "Not in the hallway, Dave," Hotch said, pushing into the room.

"Come on in then," Rossi said, shutting the door behind Hotch. "Make yourself at home."

"You can quit with the sarcasm," Hotch said. "What's going on with you, Dave?"

"I don't know what you mean. I behaved myself all day at the station, worked with Reid to get through the files and find information that could be put together in a profile," Rossi said, moving to sit on his bed. "I didn't say anything sarcastic to anyone."

"That's not what I'm talking about," Hotch said. He ran his hand through his hair with a sigh. "I'm talking about Reid suddenly visiting your house, you wanting to partner with him, and you dragging him off to a room before the standard coin flip. There's something not right and I want to know what it is."

Rossi bit back a sigh. Of all the times for the younger man to start paying attention to his team, it had to be on the road when he had a confused and broken young man he was trying to help become whole once again. "I'm tired and thought it would just be easier to pick someone to share a room with this time so we could all get some sleep," Rossi said. "It's not like we haven't done that in the past when we're all exhausted after a long day."

"Yeah, but you usually prefer to room with me," Hotch said. "And let Morgan and Reid share."

"I thought you'd like a break from my snoring," Rossi said dryly.


There was no way around it. He would have to trust to Hotch's ability to read his facial expressions and hope like hell Hotch didn't blow it and let Reid know the so-called rules Gideon taught him were completely bogus. "Okay, fine," he said, "yeah, I was hoping you wouldn't notice, but Gideon passed Reid onto me when he left the Bureau. Reid and I are still working out where we are with the rules and I didn't want to leave him alone while we're figuring that out."

Hotch blinked. He wasn't sure, but his friend's face was telling him to keep his mouth shut and not ask what the hell he was talking about. "The rules," he said.

"The same rules that Ryan taught you, Hotch," Rossi said. He blanked the mental image that was trying to form in his head at the words. "How to treat your senior agent, remember?"

"Those rules, of course," Hotch said. "Can I talk to you about how you're modifying the rules, please, Dave?"

"Sure," Rossi agreed. "Reid, go ahead and get ready for bed. We've got a long day ahead of us."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said, not looking up.

Rossi ignored the look Hotch shot him at those words, grabbed the younger man's arm and pulled him out of the room and well down the hall. Hotch finally pulled loose and crossed his arms over his chest again. "What the hell is going on, Dave?" he demanded, voice low and dangerous.

"You tell me, Aaron," Rossi replied. "I get back and the kid is bringing me coffee and breakfast. Remember that conversation? I never was able to work out what the hell that was all about, but I let it go, figuring that the kid would get tired of it eventually and life would go on. But he never did. Not once did he miss a coffee exchange or forget breakfast. Six months, Aaron; six months of this and I didn't know what to do. I finally decided to tell him to knock it off and he decides that I need a massage."

"A massage?" Hotch asked, obviously trying to keep up with the conversation.

"When I told him not to touch my neck, he drops to his knees and crawls, crawls, Aaron, across the floor and tries to undo my belt," Rossi hissed in reply. "I stopped him and demanded to know what the hell was going on with him. He showed me the letter Gideon left him out at the cabin. Turns out that neither of us really knew Jason Gideon, and if I ever get my hands on the man, then he is going to find some things missing."

"Dave, what are you talking about?"

Rossi moved in closer. "I'm telling you that Jason Gideon took that young man and lied to him his first day in the Bureau," he said in a harsh whisper. "He told Spencer Reid that it was a new agent's duty to become a sex slave to the senior agent and be punished for not following the rules. He managed to terrify Reid to the point that if I get angry around Reid, he thinks that I'm going to make him leave the team and the unit because that's how Gideon controlled him."


"Don't you ask me what in that tone, Aaron. I know damn well you heard every word I said," Rossi said. "I asked Reid if he could talk to you about this tonight and he said that he would if I wanted him to. The catch to this all is that you cannot ever let on that these rules are fake because that would break Reid into pieces that we would never be able to put back together again."

Hotch fell silent for a minute, his lips pressed tightly together. "I want to talk to Reid," he finally said. "Alone."


"Why not?"

"Because he believes that Gideon gave him to me and I've promised to protect him," Rossi said. He ran a hand over his face. "I want to help him heal and stand on his own feet, Aaron. Reid has so much potential and it's being crushed because he's scared to make anyone in the unit mad."

"Fine, but you are to keep your mouth shut," Hotch said. "Let's go."

Rossi pulled his key out of his pocket when they got close to the room. "Spencer, Hotch is here to talk to you for a minute," he said, once he was in the room. "He wants to check with you about the rules and what's been changed between Gideon telling you and us talking."

Reid sat up in bed and nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said softly. "Should I get the letter out of my bag, Sir?"

"That's a good idea, Spencer, go ahead," Rossi said. He went back to the chair and sat down with a sigh. He wasn't surprised when Reid sat down on the floor by the chair and leaned up against his legs. "It's okay, Spencer. Remember what I've told you. I'm proud of you and you don't have to leave the unit, no matter what."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said, leaning into the hand running through his hair.

"All right, Hotch, ask away," Rossi said.

Hotch sat down on the edge of Rossi's bed. "Spencer, it's been a long time since I've thought about these rules and I'm a little rusty on them," he said gently. "Can you remind me of them, please?"

"Yes, Sir. Rule one is to be at work by five every morning, and to bring breakfast and coffee for my senior agent. Rule two is to bring in fresh coffee every two hours for my senior agent regardless of if they have finished the last mug or not, and to do so silently so they are not disturbed," Reid said. "Rule three is to help the senior agent relax after a stressful day at work. Rule four is to be available to the senior agent for any requested sexual needs. Failure to follow the rules would lead to prompt and immediate dismissal from the unit."

Rossi waited for a second and then spoke up. "I've taken Rule five out of play, Hotch," he said. "Because I believe that Spencer can work wonders for the team without the threat of punishment. Don't you?"

"Of course I do," Hotch replied immediately. "How did Jason word Rule five, Reid?"

"To accept any punishment the senior agent feels is appropriate for transgressions either in the field or within the Unit itself," Reid said.

"I've never believed Rule five is worth anything," Hotch said, looking at Rossi. "Actually, I've never been fond of any of the rules and thought that agents work just fine without them. I didn't know that Jason decided to teach them to you, Reid."

"It's fine, Sir," Reid said, eyes still down. "I want to do what's proper."

"Reid, can you look at me for a second?" Hotch asked.

The younger man shook his head and leaned up against Rossi, turning his face to hide it against his jeans. Rossi bit back a sigh. "One of the things Gideon punished him for was eye contact when not working on cases, Aaron."

"Okay, I'm sorry, Reid, I didn't mean to stress you like that," Hotch said. "I'm not mad at you. I'm proud of you telling me about this. Thank you. Dave, could I talk to you one more time in the hall, please?"

"Sure," Rossi said. "Let me get Spencer settled first though."

"Thank you," Hotch said.

Rossi waited until Hotch had the door closed before he shifted around. "Spencer, you need to get some sleep," he said. "Do you want to sleep in the bed with me tonight?"

"Can I?"

"I wouldn't offer if you couldn't," Rossi said. "Go ahead and settle in. I'll see what Hotch needs and then I'll come join you. This is ending up a very short night, isn't it?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Okay, I'm just going to be outside." Rossi pressed a kiss to the top of Reid's head and headed towards the door and out into the hall. "Thank you," he said, once they were away from the room.

"For what?"

"Going along with that," Rossi said. "It's just as well Spencer didn't look up at you. There's a lot of anger swirling in your eyes, and he's at a place mentally where he would think that is all directed at him."

"How did I not see any of this, Dave?" Hotch demanded.

"Gideon is a sneaky bastard that knows how to play the system," Rossi said. "Spencer is my focus right now, but I swear to you, Aaron, that if I get a chance at Gideon then I am going to take it. As far as I'm concerned, he's an unsub now, and we treat him as such."

Hotch ran his hand through his hair again and nodded. "I thought I was going to be sick in there, Dave. Listening to that was one of the hardest things I think I've ever done."

"I know. I have a feeling that he's got a lot of physical scars as well, but he won't let me see him undressed just yet, so I don't have proof of anything," Rossi said. "But apparently Gideon would punish him for forgetting to bring in breakfast and not figuring out cases fast enough. There's other stuff, but those are the two that I addressed immediately."

"Dave, thank you for taking Spencer in like this," Hotch said. He looked down at the piece of paper Rossi handed over. "I'm not going to like what this says, am I?"

"I would doubt it," Rossi said. "Aaron, I swear to you that there's nothing sexual between me and Spencer. I know it probably looked like there was, but there's not. I'm just holding him through nightmares."

"Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

"I will, but there might not be much you can do. Remember, you were there when Gideon was doing all of this," Rossi said. "We don't know, yet, what lies he told Spencer about you and Morgan. Until we find those out, it's probably best if you guys watch from a distance."

"You're right. I don't like it, but you're right," Hotch said. "It's going to take a while for me to fit everything into my mind properly. Do you plan to tell the rest of the team?"

Rossi shook his head. "No. Reid needs to be able to heal and become a profiler without thinking that he only got there because everyone on the team pitied him. I had planned to tell you when Spencer was a little more settled, but you pushed through tonight."

"This morning, you mean," Hotch said. "Guess we're going to be working on short sleep again. We're getting too old for this, Dave."

"What do you mean, getting?" Rossi asked. "See you in a few hours, Aaron. And thank you for not blowing up in front of Spencer."

"I meant it when I said I worried about him," Hotch said. "I think I'm going to go back to my room and punch my pillow a few times. It'll work until we can find Jason."

"We'll find him, Aaron," Rossi said. "Look, bank all this until we're home again and then we can talk about it in more detail. How's that sound?"

"Like the only plan that'll work. See you for coffee," Hotch said.

Rossi knew that Hotch was the king of holding his emotions in place, but even he was surprised at how little Hotch reacted to finding out about Gideon's bogus rules. He sighed. Now he had two people to keep an eye on.

Chapter 8

Rossi managed to sleep a couple of hours, and woke up to find Reid curled up next to him, not close enough to touch, but close enough to feel the heat that Rossi's wives all complained he gave off at night. Rossi smiled softly and slipped out of the bed, heading for the shower. He knew it was going to be a long day no matter what happened.

Once he was through the shower and dressed, he went out and sat down on the bed next to Reid. "Spencer," he said softly. "Come on, it's time to wake up and get ready to go back to the station."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said softly, stretching. "What time is it?"

"Just before six," Rossi said. "I'll meet you downstairs in half an hour. Do you want coffee?"

"Please, Sir," Reid said.

"All right, see you down there," Rossi said. He made sure he had his room key and headed out towards the lobby. There weren't many people in the small café that adjoined the hotel lobby, but he could see Hotch sitting at a table just off to the side of the door. "Morning."

"Morning," Hotch said. "Where's Reid?"

"In the shower," Rossi said. "Let me order coffee for him and myself and I'll come join you."

"Take your time," Hotch said. "I just got the call that the children have been found. Turns out that they're sick of city life and decided to go off and live in the mountains."

Rossi sank into the chair across from Hotch. "I wish you were kidding," he said. "How were they planning to survive up there?"

"That's what brought them back down," Hotch said. "One of the kids fell and broke his arm. None of the kids knew what to do to take care of him, so they panicked and went running either home or to the hospital with their injured friend. We're still not sure where the link is, but the local police are going to handle things from here and we're free to head home."

"Bloody idiots could have released the information sooner and maybe we wouldn't have had to fly out here," Rossi grumbled. "How long until the plane is ready?"

"As soon as we get out there," Hotch said. "That's why I haven't tried to call anyone. We need to get moving anyway."

"There's always another case, isn't there?" Rossi said with a sigh. "I'm still going to get coffee and breakfast for Reid and me. Want anything?"

Hotch shook his head. "I've got an order in already, but thank you," he said. "Dave, how are we going to talk about this other thing when Reid is with you constantly?"

"He'll go to his place to sleep tonight," Rossi said. "Hang on, let me order."

"All right." Hotch watched his friend as he walked across to the counter and sighed. He wasn't sure how he missed the abuse that was inflicted on another member of his team, the team he was ultimately responsible for, but Hotch still felt physically ill when he thought about the rules Jason Gideon created and put into place with Reid. Part of him had to question how many others Gideon enforced the same rules on.

"Okay, anyway, he only spent weekends with Gideon and weeknights at his own place, because Gideon didn't want anyone to know the truth," Rossi said, sitting back down with Hotch. "Thursday night means that he'll go to his place for the night and be with me this weekend."

"You're keeping to the same schedule then?"

"I tried to get him to pick nights he wanted to stay with me and that just scared him," Rossi said. "I'm hoping that, with time, he'll be able to stay on his own more and more."

"Or he'll be with you every night," Hotch pointed out. "Think about it, Dave. He's already mentally transferred ownership to you. You and I both know the parallels here with sexual servitude. Is it any great stretch to think that he'll want to stay with you more rather than less as time passes?"

Rossi sighed. "Yeah, I know, and I've thought of that," he admitted. "I'm too old for a sexual identity crisis, Aaron. I've never looked at a man sexually before and I don't know if I can start now."

"And you don't want to because of how hurt Reid actually is," Hotch finished, nodding.

"Exactly. I want to help him heal from what's happened to him, help him see that he can shine within the team more than he already does, before I even let him think about trying to create any sort of new relationship with me," Rossi said. "Here he comes."

"Good morning, Reid," Hotch said. "Our case solved itself overnight, so we're heading home as soon as everyone is here."

Reid sat down next to Rossi. "What happened? Cases don't magically solve themselves, Hotch," he said. "No matter how much we may wish for that sometimes."

"The commune idea was right, Reid," Rossi said. "One of the kids fell and hurt himself, and it scared the kids enough to get them home again."

"An ending with no deaths," Reid said, shaking his head. "That's the sort of case we only can dream of."

"That's the truth," Rossi said. "I ordered you some coffee and breakfast to go so you can eat on the plane, kid."

"Thank you," Reid said softly.

"Will you excuse us for a minute, Hotch?" Rossi asked, standing up. "In fact, will you grab our stuff when you get yours and we'll just meet you outside?"

"Sure," Hotch said.

"Come on, Reid," Rossi said. "I want to talk to you for a minute."

Reid pushed up and followed Rossi outside and down away from the door where no one would be able to overhear what they were talking about. "How'd you sleep last night, Spencer?" he asked softly.

"Good, Sir," Reid replied, looking at the ground. "You're warm."

"I know. I've had three wives and any number of girlfriends complain about it," Rossi said with a wry grin. "Are you going to be okay on your own tonight when we're back home or do you want to change things around a little and stay with me an extra night?"

"Can we stick to the schedule, please, Sir?" Reid asked. "It's not that I don't want to be with you, because I do, but there's been so many changes and things so quickly that I need time to rearrange my brain to find space for them."

Rossi squeezed his shoulder, and his grin turned into a soft smile. "That's fine, Spencer," he said softly. "Just make sure that you do at least try to sleep for me. I don't want you to get sick."

"I'll do my best, Sir," Reid said. "Sir, is Hotch upset with me?"

"Of course not, Spencer. If anything, I think he's upset that Gideon didn't tell him that he was bringing the rules back into play," he said. "It's like Aaron said, it's been a long time since he's thought about them, and I think he's upset about that."

"I don't want to make him mad, Sir. I don't want to have to leave," Reid said.

"Spencer, look at me," Rossi said. "I know, this isn't a case, but I'm not going to punish you for eye contact. There you go. Burn this into your brain, Spencer. You will never have to leave the team or the unit for making someone on the team mad. You have more than earned your spot with us and we all treasure you as a person because you are so unique. You remind us that it's okay to be different and special because you do both so naturally. I think the world would be a better place if there were more of you around."

"Really, Sir?" Reid asked.

Rossi pulled him into a tight hug. "Really, kid."

Chapter 9

The flight back was quiet. Rossi spent the time writing up a few notes in his notebook while Hotch worked on paperwork. Reid was playing cards with Morgan, something that never failed to make Rossi wonder if Morgan was a glutton for punishment, and the girls were in the far corner talking about something.

"Dinner?" he asked softly when the plane was just starting its final approach.

"Sounds good," Hotch replied just as softly. "Let me run home and change and I'll pick up some wine on my way over."

"Do you want me to cook or order something in?"

Hotch glanced over at him. "If you feel like cooking, I'll eat whatever you cook," he said. "I eat way too much takeout these days."

"I'll see what I can throw together," Rossi said with a small grin.

When the plane landed, the team gathered up their things and headed out towards their cars. Rossi overheard Morgan saying that he'd give Reid a ride home if he wanted, and he stepped up. "I'll take him, Morgan. It's out of your way, and right on mine."

"You sure?" Morgan asked.

"Yep. See you at work tomorrow. Come on, kid."

Reid followed behind Rossi to the car and got in without looking at the older man. "Thank you," he said softly.

"What for, Spencer?"

"Saving me there. I'm not ready to be alone with Morgan yet," Reid said.

"Not a problem. It'll give me a chance to make sure you have everything you need for the night so I'm not worrying about you on your own," Rossi said. "You did good on this case, Spencer. I know there wasn't really a case for us to investigate, but you did good with Hotch and answering his questions."

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said. "He isn't going to treat me any different now that he knows the truth, is he?"

"I'll call him on it if he does," Rossi said. "The last thing you need right now is more changes around you. I know it's not something you're used to, but if you need something specific, I want you to ask me for it. I'm not going to get mad with you if you don't, but I want you to feel like you can talk to me about anything."

"I'll try, Sir, but I'm supposed to be making sure that you have everything you need," Reid said.

"And what happens to me if you get sick because you don't tell me you need something?" Rossi asked.

Reid fell silent, obviously thinking about the conversation. "I'll do my best to tell you, Sir," he finally said. "It's not something Jason allowed."

"And he should have. I'm not expecting you to change overnight, Spencer, but I'm going to keep trying to improve communication between us," Rossi said. "I want to make sure that you're healthy and happy, because knowing that will make me happy."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "Do you have a preference for breakfast in the morning?"

"Surprise me," Rossi said, pulling to a stop at Reid's apartment. "I've liked and enjoyed everything you've brought in so far. Remember what I said, Spencer. I know you want to think and work things into your mind, but don't stay up all night to do it. Get some sleep tonight and I'll see you at work tomorrow."

"Have a good night, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi watched until Reid was safely inside before he headed for his own house. He thought he had enough food to last the next couple of days, but he would have to go to the store on Saturday. As much as he hated shopping, he thought maybe he would be able to convince Reid to get a few treats for himself while they were there.


Hotch always had a good instinct for food and turned up just as Rossi was pulling the pan out of the oven. Rossi led Hotch back to the kitchen and gestured towards the island bar. "Have a seat while I finish this up," he said. "I thought we'd go ahead and eat out on the deck, it's nice enough out there."

"Is this really something we want to talk about outside?" Hotch asked, pouring them both some wine.

"We'll be fine," Rossi replied. "The hedges are good for more than keeping people from looking over the fence. How are you doing, Aaron?"

"I'm fine. Why?"

"Because you just found that a man you consider a close friend has been abusing a vulnerable young man that you are responsible for at work," Rossi said. "I would be very surprised to find out that you are not harboring some deep anger within you right now."

Hotch's left hand clenched into a tight fist. "This isn't anger, Dave," he said. "This is fury. This is wanting to find Jason Gideon and beat him bloody for daring to hurt such a special young man as Spencer Reid."

"That's better," Rossi said. He handed over a plate. "Come on, let's go eat. I'm going to start sending out some feelers to try and track Gideon down. Treat him like the Unsub he turned out to be. I've been wondering how many people he's done this to that we don't know about."

"It would have had to have been people away from work," Hotch said, sitting down on the bench so his back was to the house. "We've never had anyone in the BAU that's like Spencer."

"It's on my list of things to ask him," Rossi said, sitting down across from Hotch. "I figure that Gideon probably had Spencer profiled before they were through their first three sentences in their first meeting. He saw a man that he could bend to his will, and took that chance. The thing that makes me the maddest is that he not only abandoned the young man he turned into his own sexual slave, it's that he left him instructions to transfer the relationship to me. I know how Spencer feels about strangers, and he suddenly had one as the person he saw as his master. Think about how that would have grated on him every waking second."

Hotch nodded slowly. "It's not wonder Spencer has been acting a little off since you came to the unit," he said. "I thought it was just him getting used to not having Jason there mixed in with the stress of a stranger on the team. I still don't know how I missed all of this, Dave. That I did makes me question so much about myself."

"Aaron, you have to remember one thing through all of this, and that is simply that Jason Gideon is a man that can read people to the smallest detail," Rossi said. "He used that not only to enslave Spencer, but to hide what it was he was doing from the team."

"We're profilers, Dave. We should have seen something. I should have seen something."

"And what would you have done if you had seen something?"

"Put a stop to it."

"Should you have done that, you would have made Spencer question every single thing anyone in the unit ever told him because you would have both told and shown him the rules he was conditioned to follow were lies," Rossi said. "I'm having to be careful when I ask him to do the smallest change because these rules are so deeply engrained in him."

Hotch looked down at the table and sighed. "I just feel so helpless, Dave," he admitted.

Rossi reached over and squeezed Hotch's hand. "That makes two of us, Aaron," he said. "But the only thing we can do is support Spencer while he works these new rules into place in his mind."

"You more than me, Dave. Just, let me know if you find Jason," Hotch said. "I want to ask him a few questions before you take over."

"All right, I promise," Rossi said.

Chapter 10

"Aaron, I need you to do something for me," Rossi said later that night, once dinner was over and the kitchen was cleaned up.

"What's that?" Hotch asked.

"Stop blaming yourself for what's happened," Rossi replied. He held up a hand, "I know your nature, Aaron, and I know that you will hold onto misplaced blame and make yourself sick because of it. Please, this one, trust me enough to believe that this is not your fault."

Hotch hit the sofa arm and then spent a minute shaking his hand. "What the hell is under here, Dave?"

"Oak," Rossi said. "It wasn't my first choice, but it's comfortable enough as long as you don't hit it hard. Stop dodging the issue."

"I'm not, I'm trying to be sure I didn't break something," Hotch said. "I'm the Unit Chief, Dave. The team is my responsibility and I should have noticed there was something wrong between Reid and Gideon."

"Aaron," Rossi sighed. "Look, you met Gideon later than I did simply because the pair of us are older than you, and you chose another path to the BAU. Did you never wonder why I don't like him?"

"I thought it's because the two of you were too alike to ever like each other." Hotch thought for a minute. "I'm sorry, Dave. I don't think I'll ever be able to make that joke again."

"It's fine, I know what you mean. Ryan used to joke that I was light and Gideon as dark," Rossi said. "It had eased off more by the time you came along, but even I never once thought that Gideon would be capable of something so hideously dark. I probably would have killed him if I ever had evidence of his actions."

"How did he manage to hide this from everyone on the team? Don't you think we should have seen something?"

"You did see something. You saw a young man that Gideon brought in doing favors for his mentor," Rossi said. "Which is exactly what Gideon wanted everyone to see. Now me, knowing the darkness that hid within him, I probably would have asked a few more questions, but you guys didn't have all the information you needed for an accurate profile. You, yourself, told me that Gideon and Spencer were close."

Hotch shook his head. "It makes me sick when I think about that," he said. "I'm not going to be able to turn this guilt off, Dave. The bare fact remains that a member of my team was abusing another and I didn't see it. I'm a profiler and in charge of the Unit. That means I'm responsible."

"You're not all-seeing, Aaron. None of us are," Rossi said. "Think about the case where Spencer was kidnapped. Who did he trust to find him again? You or Gideon?"

"Me," Hotch said.

"Which means quite simply that Spencer trusts you on such a basic level that he never once questioned that you would be the one to find him," Rossi said. "He didn't ask the man he saw as his master, his senior agent, to find him. He asked his friend to find him, and that means more than you realize it does."

"I guess I never really thought about that," Hotch said. "Gideon was acting weird during that case, but I thought it was because he felt responsible for Spencer. That is was parental worry more than anything else."

"Instead he was worried about another man taking what was his," Rossi said with a hint of a snarl. "I'm going to find him, Aaron, and I'm going to make him pay. If I have to have Spencer stay with something, can he come to you? I'd rather have him with you than Morgan or one of the girls, just in case something goes wrong."

"What are you planning to do, Dave?"

"He's an unsub, Aaron," Rossi said. "I'm going to treat him as such, but he is never going to see the inside of a courthouse. I think he's going to resist arrest when I try to bring him in for his crimes."

"Be careful, Dave," Hotch said. "Gideon will want to fight you, and I don't think Spencer would be able to survive losing you as well."

"I'm never going to let him know what happens with Gideon," Rossi said. "That would destroy him. He doesn't need to know that I will kill to keep him safe."

Hotch nodded. "That makes me feel better about leaving his care to you," he said. "I still feel like there was something I should have seen."

"Aaron, you need to lose this heavy guilt before much longer because Spencer will see it and want to know what's wrong," Rossi said. "I have to keep him from finding out these rules are fake because I don't want to lose him."

"All right, all right; for Spencer, I'll try," Hotch said. "Can I sleep in the guestroom tonight, Dave? I really don't want to be alone with my thoughts right now."

"It's all yours," Rossi said. "Come get me if you need to talk during the night."

"I'll take you up on that," Hotch said with an attempt at a grin.

Reid was already at his desk working on something when Hotch and Rossi arrived the next morning. Rossi went right to his office and found breakfast waiting for him. He wasn't sure what sort of pastry it was, but there was a rich fruit filling with cream just sweet enough to offset the tartness of the berries. He used the fork to eat it slowly while he waited for his computer to start up and then started through his emails first thing.

"Sir?" a soft voice asked from the door.

"Come in and shut the door, Reid," he said, looking up from a request for a case review that JJ sent over to him. "What can I do for you this morning?"

"Morgan keeps looking at me, Sir, and I don't know what it means," Reid said, shifting from foot to foot. "It's making me nervous."

"Do you want me to talk to him for you, Spencer?"

"I don't want to make trouble, Sir," Reid said.

"You're not," Rossi said. "You go and check in with Aaron and see if there's anything he needs you to work on this morning and I'll go ask Morgan what's up."

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said.

"You're welcome. You did good coming to me like this, Spencer," Rossi said. "You're a good boy."

Reid flushed, but smiled a little. "Thank you, Sir," he whispered.

"Go on." Rossi followed Reid out of the office, only he went down the stairs and headed towards the desks. "Morgan, what's up this morning?"

"Not sure what you mean, Rossi," Morgan said. "I'm just checking my emails before I get going on the cases on my desk."

"Looked to me like you're more focused on Reid than your work this morning, Morgan," Rossi said. "Come on, talk to me. What's going on?"

Morgan leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "Kid's not acting right," he said. "I'm worried he's getting sick or something and doesn't want to tell any of us."

"Does he usually hide illness from the team?" Rossi asked.

"Yeah, he does," Morgan replied. "We keep trying to get him to tell us when he's not feeling good, but it never happens. Means we have to watch him and try to figure it out ourselves."

"You know him better than I do, but I think he's just tired," Rossi said, pushing up off of Morgan's desk. "Didn't I hear one of you comment that he doesn't always sleep well or something?"

"Reid has trouble turning his brain off," Morgan said. "I've seen him go a week with no sleep before. I didn't realize I was being so obvious in my concern today. I'll tune it down."

"Concern for the team is good," Rossi said. He patted Morgan's shoulder. "And you know Reid better than anyone else on the team. If he really is sick, let me know. I've got a great recipe at home for chicken soup."

That got a chuckle. "I'll do that," Morgan said. "Thanks, Rossi."

"You're welcome, Morgan," Rossi said. He headed back to his office thinking how easy it was to lie to the team where Reid was concerned. It made him wonder how often Gideon used that same weapon to his own advantage.

Chapter 11

"Do you need anything from your place for the weekend?" Rossi asked when he and Reid were leaving the Bureau for the night.

"No, Sir, I brought everything with me this morning," Reid replied.

"All right then. We're going to be going shopping for food tomorrow, Spencer, because I'm running short on a lot of supplies," Rossi said. He pulled out into traffic. "I'd like for you to pick out some things to keep at the house that are just yours, Spencer. Will you be able to do that for me?"

Reid shook his head. "I don't think so, Sir," he said softly. "I've never been allowed to go shopping for food before, not on the weekend. I do some shopping for myself, but I don't cook."

"You spend enough time with me, then that might change, Spencer," Rossi said with a smile. "All right then, just come along with me tomorrow and see if you can give me an opinion of what you might like to eat for supper tomorrow."

"I'll eat whatever you give me, Sir."

"Yeah, I know you will, but sometimes it's more fun to cook a special meal for someone special," Rossi said. "Somehow, Spencer, I think that you don't realize exactly how special you truly are."

"I'm not, Sir."

"Spencer, I promised not to lie to you, remember?" Rossi asked softly. "I know you've been told that because you're different, you're unique that you think that means you're not special. I wish I'd met you years ago so I could have spent more time showing you exactly how special you are."

Reid just shook his head again and looked at his hands. Rossi dropped the subject because he didn't want to stress Reid out any more than he already was with all the changes circling around him. No matter how much Rossi tried to keep things the way Gideon had them, the fact remained that he was not Gideon so he wasn't able to treat Reid the same. He would just have to keep telling Reid how special and unique he was and hope that it stuck one of the times.

"Come on, Spencer," he said, pulling into his driveway, "let's get things put away for the night and I'll make us some dinner. One thing I need from you is how a typical weekend would go with Gideon. I don't promise that we'll do everything the same, but I'd like to make you as comfortable as I possibly can."

"We would leave work together and go to his apartment," Reid said. He grabbed his bag and followed Rossi up towards the house. "I would shower while he cooked dinner for us. After we ate, I would clean up the kitchen while he showered. Once the kitchen was clean, I would prepare myself for him and wait beside the bed. After sex, I would clean him up and then go to the blankets he kept at the foot of the bed for me."

It was just as well Reid was behind Rossi so he didn't see how tight the older man's jaw was. The only thing Rossi wanted at that point was to find Gideon and destroy him. "Keep going, Spencer," he said softly.

"On Saturday, he would wake me up and take me back to bed for an hour," Reid said. "Then he would shower and make breakfast while I took a quick shower. After we ate and I cleaned up the kitchen, he would sit on the sofa to read the newspaper. I sat on the floor and read the sections as he finished with them. Then he would work on whatever projects he brought home from work while I either read or worked on paperwork as well. Depending on his mood, I would either suck him off three or four times, or he would make use of my body. Lunch was generally sandwiches and the afternoon was the same as the morning. Then dinner and a repeat of the night before."

"What do you want to drink, Spencer?" Rossi asked, heading towards his liquor cabinet. He wasn't going to make it through the night without at least one stiff drink.

"Just water, Sir," Reid said. "Sunday would be similar to Saturday except that I would leave after cleaning up the kitchen after dinner."

"Here you go," Rossi said. He sat down in his recliner, hand going into Reid's hair when the younger man settled down on the floor next to him. "Okay, so, I've already told you there's to be no sexual touching or contact until we're both feeling more comfortable in our new relationship and roles here, Spencer, so cross that off the list right now. I don't mind help cleaning up the kitchen after I cook, but there's a few things in there that I like to clean myself simply because they're complex and I've been doing it for years. It's not that I don't trust you to do it right, it's just an old habit that I don't want to break."

"Just show me what they are, Sir, and I'll stay away from them," Reid said.

"Easy enough. I don't normally bring much work home with me," Rossi said. "I've got yard work to do this weekend, and I'll probably spend some time writing, but other than that, and shopping, I didn't really have plans. You ever do much work out in the yard, Spencer?"

Reid shook his head. "No, Sir."

"If you don't feel comfortable helping, then you can stay inside and work on projects for work if you want to," Rossi said. "Helping me trim hedges and mow the lawn aren't a requirement."

"Can I try, Sir?"

"Of course you can, but you need to tell me if you think it's better that you don't do something," Rossi said. "I'm going to trust you to know your own limits here, Spencer. I need you to show me that my trust isn't misplaced."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"All right then. You've already agreed to come shopping with me, so we'll do that after breakfast tomorrow," Rossi said. "You know where the shower is. Why don't you go ahead and wash up while I make dinner for us. Take your time and don't rush. I never make anything that takes less than an hour to prepare and cook."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "Sir, is there anything else you want me to do tonight?"

"Nothing that comes to mind. You'll sleep in the bed with me again," Rossi said. "I told you, you're not sleeping on the floor or down by the foot of the bed. I'll show you where things are in the kitchen while we're cleaning up together."

"Yes, Sir."

"Go on then," Rossi said. He stayed in his chair for a minute and watched Reid as the younger man vanished down the hall towards the stairs to the second floor. Rossi thought that he would have to start writing down everything that Reid told him Gideon forced him to do. Then he would be certain that he took revenge for Spencer on every count out of Gideon's worthless hide before he killed the man.

Chapter 12

Rossi woke up early the next morning and immediately looked over to see where Reid was. The younger man was curled up in a tight ball at the same distance he'd been in the hotel. Rossi wasn't sure how he would feel about waking up with Reid up against him, but thought it might be okay for them to try, although Reid seemed to sleep well enough keeping the distance between them. Wondering if that was yet one other thing Gideon put into play with the younger man, Rossi slipped out of bed and went to shower. He thought he might be able to put out a few feelers before Reid woke up.

He was in his office working on the computer when Reid finally appeared with two mugs of coffee. Rossi picked his up with a smile and turned off the monitor so Reid wouldn't be able to see what he was working on. "How did you sleep last night, Spencer?" he asked, leaning back in his chair.

"Good, thank you, Sir," Reid replied. "I really like the heat you give off when you're asleep."

"Then you're the first one," Rossi said. "Everyone else just complains about it. My third wife actually wanted separate beds so she wouldn't have to put up with it."

"It makes me feel safe, Sir," Reid said.

"I wondered something when I woke up this morning though, Spencer," Rossi said. "Is there a reason you're keeping space between us when we're asleep?"

"You never told me if I was allowed to touch you, Sir," Reid said. "I've also never slept with anyone, so I'm not sure what's right and what's not."

Rossi nodded. "I told you no sexual touching, Spencer, but cuddling when asleep isn't sexual, and might actually make you feel better when we're asleep," he said. "I'm never opposed to sleeping curled up with a bed partner. Usually they don't want me to because of the heat I give off."

"I'm not sure how I would feel about it, Sir," Reid said.

"Would it be something you would be interested in trying tonight, Spencer?" Rossi asked. "Something that would let you see how you feel about cuddling?"

"I guess, Sir, but I don't know if I'm going to like it or not."

"Did Gideon never cuddle you after sex?" Rossi asked.

Reid shook his head. "No, Sir," he said. "Jason never cuddled me at all."

"If it's something you don't like, just tell me and we won't worry about it," Rossi said. "Now then, are you ready for breakfast? We can't go shopping on an empty stomach. That's the best way to end up with things you don't even want."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"All right then, come on," Rossi said. "Let's see what I can find for us that's quick and easy."

When they got to the grocery store Rossi favored, Reid walked quietly along next to him, grabbing things that Rossi asked him to, but not really showing any interest in picking out things for himself. "Spencer, did you give any thought to what you'd like to have for supper tonight and tomorrow?" Rossi finally asked.

"I'm fine with whatever you want to cook, Sir," Reid replied softly.

"All right, but I meant what I said, Spencer," Rossi said. "Sometimes it's more fun to cook a special meal for someone you care about. How do you feel about steak tonight and some sort of pasta tomorrow then?"

"That sounds fine, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi bit back a sigh. Somehow it seemed that food would be the harder of the things for him to teach Reid it was okay to have an opinion on. He would have to start teaching the younger man to cook simple things for himself, if only to show Reid that there was more to food than most people realized. Rossi wasn't near the level of professional, but he was a good cook, and he enjoyed seeing people eat what he created.

"Hand me the slow cook oats from the bottom shelf there, Spencer," he said. Maybe he'd be able to tempt the kid with oatmeal cookies. "Which do you like better, chocolate or nuts?"

"Chocolate, Sir," Reid said.

"All right, grab some chocolate chips too," Rossi said. He started looking through the cart to see what all he had and what else was on the list. "Which do you think would be better with the steaks? Potatoes or rice?"

"How would you have rice with a steak, Sir?" Reid asked.

"That there tells me we're having rice," Rossi said. "I'll show you how to have rice with steak, Spencer, and you may never go back to potatoes after you finish dinner tonight. Have you seen anything you'd like to get for any other meal, or snacks?"

Reid shook his head. "No, Sir."

"All right, let's go get some doughnuts from the bakery and then we'll check out," Rossi said. He put the bag of rice in the cart. "Spencer, I want to be certain you're eating. I know that you're okay eating whatever it is I give you, but I'd like for you to have some of your favorites around to snack on whenever you want."

"Snacking has never been allowed on weekends, Sir."

"Will it cause you distress if I tell you that it's perfectly fine, and something that I would actually encourage?" Rossi asked. "Sometimes snacking is the best thing you can do for your body because it means you eat less at mealtimes. Experts are actually saying that snacking or eating small meals throughout the day is healthier than eating three large meals."

"I haven't seen that study, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi grinned. "When you like food as much as I do, you keep up with these things," he said. "You don't have to get anything today, Spencer, but I'd like you to start thinking about different things you might like to keep around the house to snack on in the future."

"I'll try, Sir," Reid said.

"Spencer, I know I'm pushing for a lot right now," Rossi said. "A lot of changes, which I also know is the last thing you need, but every change I'm pushing for is to help you stay healthy. Remember what I said to you a couple of days ago, if something happens to you, then you won't be able to take care of me like you have to. You're not going to be punished for snacking in the middle of the day, even if it means you're not as hungry for dinner later that night. Does that all make sense?"

"A little, I guess," Reid said. "Sir, is it normal for the rules to be an umbrella over so much other stuff in life?"

"It can be. That depends on the senior officer more than anything else," Rossi said. "It sounds like Gideon kept to the narrower views of the rules, and I'm trying to expand them. That's more down to our natures than it is anything else. I grew up in a huge family, Spencer, and that teaches you to take care of others. My momma loves to see others eat, more than she loves to eat herself, and I think I picked up on that. I enjoy cooking for others because I enjoy seeing their reactions to the food."

Reid nodded slowly. "I'll try, Sir," he said, "but it still feels like I'm lost. It wasn't like this even back when I was first learning the rules and what they meant."

"Spencer, tell me if it gets to be too much and I'll stop for the time being," Rossi said. "The last thing I want to do is stress you out. Go grab the type of doughnuts you want. I trust your taste in breakfast foods."

"Yes, Sir."

Rossi watched the kid walk among the display tables of pastries and tried to bank back the fury that boiled to the surface any time he had a question about the rules and what they meant for Reid. Gideon kept the kid in a small prison, kept his wings clipped, and it was possible that Reid would never be able to truly step out of that prison because his wings – metaphorically speaking – were broken. Rossi figured he would just add that to the list.

Chapter 13

Once the groceries were put away, Rossi started to pull out the makings for the marinate for the steak. "Spencer, you can sit and watch me cook if you want, you can go watch TV, or you can find something to read in my library if you want," he said. "I'm going to be in here for a while and I don't know how interesting it's going to be to watch me."

Reid settled down on the floor by the island. "I've never had a chance to watch anyone cook before, Sir," he said. "I'd like to stay here for a while."

"That's fine, Spencer," Rossi said. "What do you want to talk about?"

"What are you making for us, Sir?"

"This is for the steaks to give them some more flavor," Rossi said. "It's just a simple marinate, nothing like the one I can make if I have the right cut of meat. I'll make that for you one weekend, but you may never want to eat any other type of steak again."

"How many types of marinates are there, Sir?" Reid asked.

"Oh, I don't know," Rossi replied. "We could go to the bookstore and look in the cooking section, see if we could find an answer there." He started to mix things together slowly. "That could be a fun outing for us, actually. Would you enjoy a weekend where we went to used bookstores?"

Reid ducked his head, but nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said.

"We'll have to plan for that then," Rossi said. "Treat it a bit like a case so we came be sure that we're getting to the best shops. I'm also going to be making cookies for us today, Spencer. They're just going to be in the cookie jar and you do not have to ask permission before you take one to eat, okay?

"Okay, Sir," Reid said. "What type of cookies are you making?"

"I'm going to do oatmeal with chocolate chips today," Rossi said.

"I've never had homemade cookies before, Sir," Reid said softly. "I've never had oatmeal cookies before either."

"Then it's past time that you do," Rossi said. "Oatmeal cookies can be closer to a meal all their own, when they're made right. These won't be, and unless you eat about ten of them, you won't spoil your appetite for supper."

Reid nodded. "When did you learn to cook, Sir?" he asked softly.

"My momma is a firm believer that everyone needs to know how to cook," Rossi said with a smile. He poured the marinate over the steaks, covered them, and put the dish in the fridge. "She started with all of us kids when we were about five and kept up the lessons until we all left home. I find it relaxing, so I've taken a few classes and try new things whenever I have the time. I'd like to teach you to cook, if you want to learn."

"I've never been allowed in the kitchen on weekends before, Sir."

"That's not really an answer, Spencer," Rossi said.

"Yes, please, Sir," Reid said, not looking up.

Rossi smiled fondly. "Okay then, go wash your hands and then we'll start with lessons on how to make cookies," he said.

Later that night, Rossi looked down at the young man asleep on his lap with a soft smile. Reid followed instructions well and his cookies turned out almost as good as Rossi's did. Rossi had just reassured him it would take practice to get the cookies looking a little more even. Then they'd spent the rest of the afternoon out in the yard, working on simple chores that apparently were enough to wear Reid out. He'd lasted through dinner and then fell asleep during the news. Rossi had encouraged Reid to lie down with his head on Rossi's leg and petted him until he fell asleep.

It was just as well his phone was set on vibrate. "Hello?" he asked softly.

"Dave. How's Reid doing?" Hotch asked.

"He's asleep right now," Rossi replied. "Do we have a callout?"

"No, everything's fine. I just wanted to check and see how you both were doing," Hotch said.

"We're doing great," Rossi said. "I'll tell you more about it on Monday if you want. Or, actually, do you want to come to breakfast tomorrow?"

"You don't think that would stress Reid out too much, do you?"

"I don't know, Aaron," Rossi admitted. "You know the truth about the rules and you don't question how I'm enforcing them with Spencer, so he wouldn't have to pretend to be someone he isn't with you here. On the flip side, Gideon never had company when he had Spencer over on the weekends, so I don't know if he can handle another change right now."

Hotch sighed. "Why don't we bank the breakfast invitation until he's more comfortable with the changes you've already made and then we'll see about putting some new changes in place," he said.

"All right," Rossi said. "That's probably a better idea. He just did so good today that I'm wondering if maybe he's settling in a bit better now that he's realized that I'm putting a broader interpretation in place for the rules than Gideon used."

"It's possible, but it's also possible that he's relaxing a little more because you're being so patient with him," Hotch said.

Rossi ran his fingers through Reid's hair. "Maybe," he said. "I need to get him to bed, Aaron. I think I wore him out with lessons today."

"What are you teaching him?"

"Cooking and yard care," Rossi said. "More exercise than I think anyone on the team has had in weeks."

"You're probably right, and that's something I should look into," Hotch said. "I'll see you guys on Monday."

"Have a good rest of the weekend," Rossi said. He hung up and looked down at Reid. "How much of that did you hear?"

"All of it, Sir," Reid said softly, leaning into the soft petting.

"How would you feel about having Aaron over for breakfast some weekend in the future?"

"Whatever you want to do, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi bit back a sigh. He wasn't going to push on that one. "All right, Spencer," he said. "Come on, let's go get ready for bed. You go on ahead while I lock up. We're going to try cuddling tonight and see what you think about that."

Reid sat up and stretched. "Yes, Sir," he said. "Although, if it's anything like sleeping on your leg, Sir, I think I'll like it."

Chapter 14

"Sir, are there rules to cuddling?" Reid asked when he was in bed and Rossi was changing to join him.

"Nothing I've ever run across," Rossi replied. "Then again, I've always believed in going with what feels good for both partners and to hell with what anyone else thinks about it."

"Does that include some of the darker sexual acts that we see at work?"

Rossi shrugged and slid into bed next to Reid. "As long as everyone is of age, consenting, and fully aware of what they're getting into, sure," he said. "Normally the taller partner does the cuddling, Spencer, but would you feel comfortable holding me?"

"No, Sir," Reid said quickly, shaking his head.

"All right then, come here," Rossi said. "We'll try this tonight. Slide down and rest your head on my chest and put your arm over my stomach, Spencer. Then I'll wrap my arm around you like this, and then like this. Do you like that?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said, shifting a little. "You're warm and you make me feel safe. I've never felt that before when I'm asleep."

"Then it's past time you do," Rossi said. "Spencer, how much do you miss sex?"

"More than I thought I would, Sir," Reid said. "I guess I never realized exactly how much Jason made use of me during the day and on the weekend."

"What about taking care of yourself?" Rossi asked.

Reid shook his head, hair shifting against Rossi's chest. "I'm not allowed, Sir," he replied.

Rossi bit back a growl. "When did Gideon put that rule into place for you, Spencer?" he asked softly.

"It wasn't a rule, Sir, although he did punish me if he caught me touching myself in the shower," Reid said. "He told me that he was the only one allowed to touch my body, and I would be punished if he caught me, or anyone else, touching me."

"Sounds like a rule to me, although it's one that I've certainly never heard of," Rossi said. "My telling you isn't going to be enough to help you bring yourself pleasure is it, Spencer?"

"No, Sir, it's not. I'm sorry, but it's not."

"Hey now, easy," Rossi said, rubbing Reid's back softly. "Don't ever apologize for being honest with me. Honesty is what I want from you, Spencer. I don't ever want you to lie to me, okay?"

"Yes, Sir."

"All right then," Rossi said. "It's me that should be apologizing to you, Spencer. When I put the no sexual touching restriction in place, I didn't realize that you'd been forbidden from touching yourself. Would you like to try to add some sort of basic touch into our relationship?"

Reid was quiet for a couple of minutes and Rossi waited, knowing that the younger man was thinking back over everything that happened since Rossi started to broaden the rules for him. "You said that you're not interested in men sexually, Sir," he finally said. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"And I appreciate that, Spencer, more than I can say," Rossi said. "Tell me what you know about the Kinsey sexual scale."

"Very few humans are strictly hetero or homosexual," Reid said. "Most position somewhere on the scale closer to one end or the other, but almost everyone can slide along the scale if the right partner comes along for them."

"I didn't want to mix sex into everything else that you're going through right now, Spencer," Rossi said. "But I will admit that you are adjusting to me, and the broader interpretation of the rules, better than I ever hoped that you would. I don't think that anything involving penetration beyond maybe a finger for you would be comfortable for me, but if it would give you pleasure, then I'm willing to try. Sometimes sex is the best way to relax before going to sleep."

"What are you thinking, Sir?" Reid asked.

"Something fast for tonight and then we can talk more tomorrow," Rossi replied. "Would you like for me to touch you, Spencer?"

Reid nodded. "Yes, Sir, I would," he said.

"Shift onto your back then," Rossi said. He waited until Reid was looking up at him before he rolled up onto his elbow and leaned down to catch Reid's lips in a soft kiss. Reid moaned under him and went limp, making Rossi think that he'd been taught not to touch at all during sex. He broke the kiss and looked down at his partner. "You can touch me, Spencer," he whispered. "Hang onto my arms if you don't feel comfortable touching anywhere else."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said, not meeting his eyes.

Rossi didn't know if they would ever be able to break that particular training and thought that maybe he would find a way to blind Gideon before he killed him, to let him find out what it was like to not be able to look at anyone, or see anything. He bent down and caught Reid's mouth again and slowly trailed a hand down until he brushed over hardness. Reid groaned into his mouth when Rossi's hand slipped under his sleep pants and wrapped around his erection. Reid arched up a little and climaxed with only three strokes.

"You okay?" Rossi asked the panting young man under him.

"Yes, Sir," Reid replied.

"Stay here, I'll get something to clean you up," Rossi said. He'd felt a faint stirring in his stomach when he kissed Reid, but the kid finished so quickly that he didn't know if it was nerves or sexual attraction. So much for his claims that he was too old to be having some sort of sexual identity crisis. He'd have to do some reading online during the week to see what he really thought about sex with Reid.

"How are you doing, Spencer?" he asked when he was back at the bed with a damp cloth in his hand.

"Good, Sir," Reid replied. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Spencer," Rossi said. "I guess that it's been a bit longer than I thought it was. Or do you always climax so quickly?"

Reid shook his head. "No, Sir, it's been a while," he said. "Normally I can keep myself under control until I'm told it's okay to climax."

"I enjoyed watching you, Spencer," Rossi said. He got back in the bed and pulled the younger man in against him. "Go to sleep and we'll talk more in the morning."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. He rested his head back on Rossi's chest and was asleep before Rossi could say anything else to him.

Chapter 15

Rossi woke first the next morning and looked down to see where Reid was. The younger man had rolled in his sleep and was facing away. Rossi shifted until he was curled up as best he could behind Reid and just settled in to hold him for a while. Rossi couldn't believe that, well, actually, he could believe that Gideon never cuddled Reid. Gideon, for all that he could project a caring and tender aura, wasn't a nice man. He was a good actor, so good that few people actually questioned him, but at the base, Rossi knew that Gideon was dark, and the darkness would have been slowly taking him over. That Gideon left Reid behind showed that he still had some slight control over the darkness, but Rossi would have to be alert to the possibility of Gideon showing back up to try and take what he probably still thought of as his.

The younger man lying in his bed wasn't Gideon's. Hell, he technically wasn't Rossi's either, but Reid thought that he was, and keeping him from learning the truth about the rules was the most important thing for Rossi to do. He didn't know what it would do to Reid to find out that he'd been lied to, abused, raped, and thrown aside by one that he thought cared for him deeply, and Rossi didn't want to find out. He knew that it was a careful line that he would be walking at work, but he did have Hotch to help him out, and that was something. The rest of the team would be used to Reid and his quirks and shouldn't question small changes too much. Morgan would be the real problem, and Rossi hoped he would be able to deal with the other agent.

The other issue weighing heavily on his mind was sex. Rossi still didn't know if he would be able to respond to Reid sexually, and he really didn't want to make the kid feel bad if he wasn't. The safest thing was probably to spend some time reading and see what, if anything, he was able to respond to. It was possible that it was just Reid, and Rossi thought that kissing the younger man had been awfully easy the night before. So had touching him, and a part of his mind thought that he should be a little freaked out by the fact that he'd jerked another man off the night before. It certainly wasn't something that a straight man would have been able to do, at least not without a lot of alcohol involved, and Rossi wondered if it meant that he wasn't as far along the straight scale as he thought he was.

Rossi started to slowly rub a hand over Reid's chest, taking in the feel of soft skin under his own. The lack of softness and curves made him slightly uncomfortable, but not enough to make him stop. He did pause when Reid moaned softly. "Spencer?"

"Feels good," Reid said.

"We should talk first," Rossi said. "About what we both want from this."

Reid looked back at him. "I just want to make you feel good, Sir," he said.

That was enough to stop Rossi almost cold. "Come on, Spencer," he said. "Let's go get some breakfast and talk through this a little more. I don't want to jump in with both feet until I'm certain we're on the same page. I know what the rules say, but I'll be damned if anyone I sleep with doesn't get to feel the utmost pleasure too."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi let Reid get dressed in the bedroom while he went downstairs in his robe and pajama bottoms to get the coffee started. He had a sinking feeling in his chest that Gideon considered Reid's pleasure second to his own and used the young man for release and didn't spend time showing him what it was to truly make love with a partner. "Spencer, I'm going to need you to tell me a couple of things," he said, when Reid joined him in the kitchen. "What all did Gideon teach you?"

"He had me use bananas to practice on so I would know how not to gag when I finally sucked him off, Sir," Reid said, eyes on his breakfast. "It's why I don't like them anymore. Jason also made frequent use of my body, but I don't know if any of what he did would be considered teaching, Sir."

"How did he touch you when you were together?" Rossi asked. "What did he do for you, Spencer?"

"If he was in a good mood, Sir, he would stroke me to completion after his climax," Reid said. "I wasn't ever allowed to clean up after he made use of me, no matter how uncomfortable it made me in the beginning."

Rossi winced. "Did he at least prepare you before entering you?" he asked.

"In the beginning, yes, Sir," Reid replied. "After a while though, he said I didn't need that anymore and he would just enter me."

He went over and pulled the younger man into a hug. "Spencer, even women enjoy being stretched with fingers before penetration," he said. "With time, they can even climax before penetration. No one should ever be entered without some form of stretching. I'm amazed that you didn't suffer some injuries from the rough handling you received."

"I was just supposed to be available to Jason for whatever he needed, Sir," Reid said.

"Which is why that rule is so stupid," Rossi said. "Spencer, any sexual contact between two people is about pleasure for them both. The only time you have pleasure for just yourself is if you're touching yourself. Otherwise, both people should be left gasping for breath after sex."

"I'm not sure what you mean, Sir," Reid said.

"And I'm not even sure I'll be able to show you, Spencer," Rossi said. "I enjoyed kissing and touching you last night, but everything was over so fast that I'm not sure if I'll be able to get hard for you."

Reid leaned up against him cautiously. Rossi just tightened his hold on the younger man and started to pet him softly. "How are we going to find out, Sir?" he asked softly.

"Give this old man a chance to do some reading, Spencer," Rossi said. "Spend tonight with me, too. I know, that's a change, but everyone knows you don't like to drive and we can make up a story about why we drove in together. Let's spend the day reading and tonight we'll see if there's anything I can do for you."

"I'm supposed to be doing things for you, Sir."

"Trust me, Spencer. If I do this right, seeing you panting under me will make me happier than anything," Rossi said. "I love watching my partners fall apart into pleasure. Even if I can't get hard, I've got fingers. If you'll let me, I'll at least start showing you what pleasure really feels like."

Reid nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said.

Chapter 16

With all of his experience Rossi thought that he knew enough to keep from hurting Reid in the bedroom, but at the same time, he had no idea what he was even trying to do. Google didn't help him out either. It would have if he was looking for porn, but there wasn't anything he could find that would help him figure out if he was ready to try to be in a same sex relationship or not.

"Spencer, I think that we're going to have to go about this a little differently," Rossi finally said at lunch. "The only thing I'm finding online is porn, and I'm not a fan of porn in general. Back when I was just starting up with the FBI we broke open a porn ring that was kidnapping women and children and forcing them into roles on the videos. I don't care how well cared for or paid the actors are in adult films, I was never able to watch one again."

"What do you want to do, Sir?" Reid asked softly.

"Would you be willing to let me just spend some time touching you?" Rossi asked in reply. "Before you say yes, please think about it for a minute, Spencer. I don't want to make you uncomfortable asking you for this."

"You aren't Sir," Reid said.

"Are you going to be able to let me see you naked, Spencer? I've been letting you change in the bathroom or bedroom when I'm not in there," Rossi said. "I've got a feeling that there's something you don't want me to see, and I don't want to push you if that will make you feel uncomfortable."

Reid shook his head. "It's just my scars, Sir," he said. "From when Jason punished me. I don't like anyone to see them, Sir."

"Would you like to keep a shirt on today?"

"Could I?" Reid asked.

"Of course you can, Spencer," Rossi said gently. "I've got a couple of scars that it took me a few years to let anyone see. Not because they're ugly, but because I was ashamed of how I got them."

"I'm not ashamed of them, Sir. I just, I think that they're embarrassing because they're proof that I wasn't able to follow the rules properly," Reid said. "They're like a constant reminder that I wasn't smart enough to understand and follow the rules put in place for me."

"Spencer, come on over here," Rossi said, pushing back from the table. He turned his chair to the side and pulled Reid down into his lap when the younger man was close enough. "From what you've told me, you did everything possible to follow the rules as soon as you learned them. Did you ever intentionally screw up a rule?"

Reid shook his head, eyes fixed on his hands in his lap. "No, Sir, never," he said. "I never wanted to see Jason upset or disappointed in me so I worked as hard as I could to do everything right, but it wasn't always good enough."

Rossi had a feeling that Gideon probably created a few infractions even if Reid did everything to the letter just to try and remind the younger man who was in charge. "Rule five is no longer an option, Spencer," he said softly. "I will never punish you for any violation of the rules, ever. I'm so proud of you and how hard you work for the team. I'm amazed that you trust me enough to be your senior agent, Spencer. You are such a special young man, and you deserve to be shown how special you are."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said softly.

"Come on, the kitchen can wait until later," Rossi said. "Let's go see if this old dog can learn a few new tricks. You're going to have to patient with me, Spencer. I have no idea what I'm doing and I don't want to hurt you."

"Whatever you want to do is fine, Sir," Reid said.

"Can you try to tell me if there's something you want, Spencer?"

"I'm not sure, Sir."

"We'll work on that one then," Rossi said. "Come sit down next to me on the bed so our height is a little more even. Let me try kissing you and see what happens."

Reid perched on the bed next to Rossi and turned to face him, eyes still down. Rossi reached over, carefully cupping Reid's cheek and leaned in to kiss him. Reid sighed into the kiss and relaxed, eyes closed. Rossi noticed that the younger man's hands were still in his lap, but didn't want to push it just then. He slowly deepened the kiss and pulled back just before he was able to taste Reid for the first time. "You okay, Spencer?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir," Reid replied softly.

"Shift up onto the bed and lie down for me," Rossi said. "Will you be okay with my weight over you?"

"Yes, Sir, I'll be fine," Reid said.

Rossi shifted up and over the younger man, trying to keep as much of his weight as possible on his legs and hands. He reached down and ran a finger along Reid's cheek. "You're beautiful, Spencer," he said softly.

"I'm not, Sir."

"You are," Rossi said, leaning down. "I'll teach you to see it." He caught Reid's mouth again before the younger man could reply, and carefully opened Reid's mouth with his tongue. He slowly licked his way around, learning the lay of the land and also Reid's taste. "You can respond, Spencer," he whispered, pulling back for air.

"Jason didn't like kissing, Sir," Reid said.

Somehow that didn't surprise Rossi at all. "I do, Spencer, and I like kissing you," he said. He probably liked kissing the younger man too much, to be honest, but that didn't mean he planned to stop any time soon. "Just follow my lead."

"Yes, Sir."

Rossi caught Reid's mouth again and used his lips and tongue to slowly show Reid what he should be doing. The younger man responded carefully, almost as if he was afraid that he would hurt Rossi if he moved wrong. "That's good, Spencer," Rossi whispered. He moved over to kiss and nip at Reid's neck. "You're doing good for me. I know you want to keep your shirt on, but can I touch you through the fabric?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"I'll have to show you my scars one of these days, Spencer," Rossi said, letting his hands play over Reid's chest. There was a difference in texture between the places where his nipples should be, and Reid winced when Rossi touched the left side, so he left that area alone and started down his stomach. "Both of mine are work related and for years they reminded me of failing on those two cases."

"What happened, Sir?"

"They're long stories not suited to the bedroom," Rossi said. "I'll tell you, Spencer, just not right now. Do you feel that?"

Reid smiled. "You're starting to get hard, Sir," he said.

"It's because of you, Spencer," Rossi said. He shifted back and worked to undo Reid's jeans. "I've never felt like this around another man before. I've never wanted to touch and kiss another man before. That makes you even more special than I thought you were at first."

The younger man moaned when his erection was freed from his jeans. Rossi could see him watching as he freed his own still growing erection from his own pants. "You're big, Sir," Reid said, breath catching in his throat.

"Is that a bad thing?" Rossi asked.

"No, Sir," Reid replied quickly. "It's just that you're bigger than Jason, bigger than anything I've ever had to take before."

"We're not going that far today," Rossi said softly. "For one, I don't have the proper supplies here. We're just going to try this." He brought their erections together and wrapped his hand around both of them.

Reid moaned, his back arching a little at the sensation of another cock along side of his own. Rossi grinned down at him. "Good, Spencer?"

"Good, Sir," Reid said.

"Give me your hand." Rossi reached down for Reid's right hand and encouraged it to wrap around the erections under his own hand. "There you go. Nothing fancy needed here, Spencer. Just up and down. Let your hips move if they want to. Do what feels good here. Forget the rules for now and just feel, Spencer."

Reid moaned again and started moving against Rossi. The older man kept the pressure on their erections as even as he could and wasn't surprised when Reid came first, body tensing in an effort not to arch up against his partner. Rossi shifted their hands over to his erection and kept stroking until he climaxed as well, moving to the side so he wouldn't crush Reid when he landed. "Good, Spencer," he muttered, pressing a kiss to Reid's neck.

"Yes, Sir," Reid agreed, panting a little.

Rossi didn't know what would happen now that they had added sex into the mix, but he had a feeling that his life was about to get far more complicated than it was before.

Chapter 17

Rossi made them both a quick breakfast before the pair drove to work the next morning. "Spencer, is there anything you want to talk about?" he asked.

"Are you.." Reid trailed off, took a deep breath and started again. "Will there be sex on base, Sir?" he asked softly.

"No, Spencer," Rossi replied. "Good boy to ask me that." He reached over and ran his fingers through Reid's hair. "I know that took some effort on your part, Spencer, and I'm proud of you for asking me a question that you were scared to ask."

"I'm not supposed to ask questions, Sir," Reid said.

"That was one of Gideon's rules, Spencer, not mine," Rossi said gently. "I want you to ask me questions because I want to know what you're thinking. You're a special young man and I want to give you as much as you're giving me."

Reid shook his head. "The rules state that I'm supposed to take care of you, Sir," he said softly.

"Spencer, we talked about this," Rossi said. "How are you supposed to take care of me if you get sick, or if you're hurt by something? I want to be certain you're healthy and happy, and not just because you take care of me. It's because you're very special to me, and I want to be sure that you're taken care of as well."

"Sir, can I ask you another question?"

"Of course you can."

"Who was your senior agent, Sir?"

"I never had one, Spencer," Rossi said. "Did Gideon ever tell you who his senior agent was?"

Reid shook his head. "No, Sir," he said softly. "Jason told me that the rules were created around the same time as the BAU itself. I know that you're one of the founders for the Unit and wondered how you came to help create the rules."

"A sensible wonder on your part," Rossi said with a smile. "I'll be honest with you, Spencer. I didn't have a say in creating the rules. I was aware of them, yes, but you've heard my opinion on them many times. I didn't think that it was right to put rules like these into play when we were already in such a stressful job."

"So it was Jason and Max Ryan that came up with them?" Reid asked.

"They did, together, with me trying to get them to change their minds once I heard the rules they wanted to put into place," Rossi replied. He dropped his hand from Reid's hair as they pulled up to the guardhouse. "Gideon changed the wording a little with you, but not much."

Reid stayed quiet while the car was inspected and Rossi started onto the base. "I have trouble picturing Hotch following the rules, Sir," he finally said.

So did Rossi, but he didn't say so. "Aaron Hotchner was different when he came to the Unit," he said. "More open and trusting, Spencer. He was young enough to think that he would be able to make a difference. I remember Max and Gideon flipping a coin for who got to mentor him."

"Who won?" Reid asked.

"I did," Rossi grinned. "That's not to say that Max didn't teach Hotch the rules, but I was the one that got to work with him the most whenever we were out in the field. I don't know what happened behind closed doors because I never asked, but I told Hotch he could come to me any time he wanted."

"Are the rules the reason that Hotch closed off so much, Sir?" Reid asked.

Rossi parked and turned off the car. "That was probably a part of it, but I think that Hotch's past really had more to do with it than anything else," he said. "You know about his father?"

"No, Sir."

"Then that's Hotch's choice to share that information, but I think he's always been afraid that he's going to follow in his father's footsteps," Rossi said. "He's been slowly closing himself off for years, and it breaks my heart to see it. Aaron used to smile, Spencer. A true smile that made his eyes light up. I haven't seen that look in years."

"What story are we going to use for you driving me to work today, Sir?" Reid asked.

"We were watching TV last night and you stayed because we lost track of time," Rossi replied. "It's an easy one to lie about because we've already said that you're trying to get me to watch more TV than I have."

Reid nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said. "Sir, can I? Is it okay if, would you cook dinner for me tonight?"

The request didn't surprise Rossi at all. He figured that Reid would want to spend more time with him once they added sex into the mix. Not that it really mattered to Rossi. Having Reid at his house let him be sure that the young man slept, and he would be able to keep him safe from any chance Gideon might try to take to grab the kid away. "As long as we don't catch a case, sure," he said. "Come on, let's go see what our desks look like after the weekend."

"Hey guys, wait up," Morgan called from across the lot.

"Good morning, Morgan," Rossi said when the younger man joined them. "Did you have a good weekend?"

"Sure did," Morgan replied with a grin. "You two carpool again?"

"We did. Reid has been trying to convince me that I should watch Star Wars," Rossi said. "I finally broke down this weekend and we were up too late for him to get home again."

"Rossi has this really awesome sofa, and you should see his TV, Morgan," Reid said. "It's huge. The only thing missing was movie candy, and I'm definitely going to go buy some next time."

"There's a next time?" Rossi asked.

"There's tons of things you haven't seen," Reid said.

Morgan started laughing. "He's been after all of us for years, man," he said. "You're the first one that's given in more than once."

That was a sad thought. Rossi grinned. "Reid knows enough about the movies to make it interesting," he said.

Morgan missed it, but Rossi heard a whispered, "thank you, Sir," from Reid as they were walking into the building. He wasn't sure what all the questions about the rules had been about that morning, but he had a feeling that Reid was trying to figure out who else in their Unit had been taught the rules. Other than Hotch, even if Hotch never truly was. Rossi would have to remind Reid that Hotch had said he never considered the rules worth anything, and that would explain why Morgan, JJ, Emily, and Garcia didn't know anything about them. The fault would remain where it belonged; squarely on Jason Gideon.

Chapter 18

"So, how was Star Wars?" Hotch asked, leaning into Rossi's office.

"The first three have been ruined by tampering with them after the fact and other than a few good characters here and there, don't get me going on the next three," Rossi replied. He leaned back in his chair. "Morgan talk to you?"

Hotch shut the door behind him and sat down in one of the chairs. "Where'd your sofa go?" he asked. "That's been in the office for as long as I can remember."

"I had it burned," Rossi said. "Gideon used it after hours, Aaron."

"Oh. I don't blame you a bit then. And no, Morgan didn't talk to me, but I heard him and Reid talking about it when I was walking past their desks," Hotch said. "It reminded me that I wanted to ask you how the weekend went with Reid."

"It all went better than I thought it would," Rossi admitted with a small sigh. "Spencer is slowly starting to trust me, even if he's not aware of it yet, and that's helping more than anything else."

"Dave, what are you going to do if he ever learns the truth?" Hotch asked.

"Keep him from killing himself," Rossi replied. He paused and held up a hand. "I haven't made much progress with the file yet, Aaron, but there's a few point here that I think it might be better for Morgan to look at instead of me making guesses."

Hotch was just about to ask what Rossi was talking about when the door opened quietly and Reid came in with a mug of coffee. He went to the desk and exchanged it with the empty mug sitting there and left again without making any noise, shutting the door behind him again.


"You can set your watch by his coffee exchanges," Rossi said, running a hand through his hair. "Spencer never misses one, no matter what else is happening around the unit. I was serious about this file I'm reading though, Aaron. I'm seeing some potential bomb evidence and Morgan is better with those than I am."

"Hand it over to him then," Hotch said. "Let's see what he makes of it. What else did the two of you do over the weekend?"

"We spent Sunday reading and watching TV," Rossi said. "He asked me to cook him supper tonight and I told him I would as long as we didn't catch a case."

"Do you think it's healthy to have him spend so much time with you?" Hotch asked.

Rossi sighed. "I think it's certainly safer, in the long run, and I like having him around," he said. "Morgan commented this morning that Spencer is always trying to get the team to watch movies with him and no one has taken him up on it more than once. I just think that's a sad thought, and if having someone care for him is unhealthy, then everyone needs to rethink their lives."

"I actually agree with you on all of that," Hotch said. "Can I invite myself to dinner next week sometime? I'd like to see Reid away from work, see how he's adapting to having you as his senior agent. Whatever the hell that even means."

"I think you'll see that he's about the same as he ever was, just a little more sure of himself," Rossi said. "I'm starting to worry about Gideon regretting his impulsive move to leave Spencer behind and trying to come back and take him."

"I hadn't thought of that, and should have," Hotch said. He rubbed his eyes. "I still want a shot at him before you do whatever it is you're going to do, Dave. I don't have any false ideals that it will do any good except for helping me to feel a little better about myself."

"Shouting always clears the air," Rossi said. "I took a look and Gideon still owns that damn cabin of his. That'll be a good place to hide him away while we get things situated."

"Be careful with this, Dave," Hotch said. "You know as well as I do that one small, false move can be the unsub's undoing."

Rossi nodded. "That's true, but what about fire, Aaron?" he asked. "You know what that does to a crime scene."

"I feel like it should worry me that you've thought things through so thoroughly," Hotch said with a sigh. "Do I even want to know what else you've thought of to do to him?"

"The less you know the better," Rossi said. "I'm keeping a list of things Spencer tells me that Gideon did to him that I'm planning to take revenge for him before Gideon tries to escape from custody."

"Knocking over a candle or oil lamp in the process," Hotch said. "I think I can at least see where you're going with part of this. Do you still want Reid to stay with me while you're doing all of this?"

"If he can, yes. I don't want to risk him finding me with Gideon," Rossi said with a small sigh. "That might destroy him. He made a comment that I'm curious about, but I can't push on right now because Spencer is still too fragile."

"What was that?"

"We might have moved forward a little in the bedroom," Rossi said.


"Don't take that tone with me, Aaron. Spencer was taught never to touch himself and he was suffering because of it," Rossi said. "Do you think for a second that I just jumped into this without thinking about what it could do to Spencer if I couldn't respond? That I did anything without looking into it first?"

"It wouldn't be the first time, but okay, I'll take your word for it," Hotch said. "What did Reid say?"

"He commented that I'm larger than anything he ever had to take before and that got me wondering if maybe Gideon used toys on the kid as punishment," Rossi said. "He wouldn't have allowed anyone else to touch or make use of what was his, so I don't have to worry about anyone raping Spencer with Gideon's permission, but it just sounded like Spencer had something other than Gideon's erection inside him at times."

"I suppose that it's possible he did, but without asking Reid, there's no way to really know what happened," Hotch said. "You didn't penetrate him, did you?"

"Aaron, do you have any idea how red your face is right now?" Rossi asked. "No, I didn't because I wasn't expecting things to take that turn and wasn't supplied. I'm also not planning to go that far with him for a while. I want him to get used to me in bed with him before we go that far."

A knock on the door interrupted anything Hotch could possibly say in reply. JJ leaned into the room. "We've got an emergency callout," she said. "A five-year-old was just found in a shallow grave down south and another kid was reported missing."

"Gather the team," Hotch said. He looked over at Rossi. "You're working with Reid on this one, Dave. He's going to need you next to him more than anything else."

Rossi nodded. "I'll take care of him, Aaron," he said.

Chapter 19

There weren't many details for the case. The child was reported missing a week and a half before she was found in the shallow grave. When the team arrived, Morgan and Emily went immediately to speak with the two families to get as much information as they could for the two young children. Hotch went to meet with the coroner, and Rossi and Reid started working on what information the police had in the department.

"We need to make sure that someone is looking into care-givers," Reid said quietly. The pair was in one of the interrogation rooms, but Reid still didn't want to risk anyone hearing what he said and taking it out of context. "Did these girls attend any sort of daycare or preschool? How vetted are the teachers and aides there? We also need to find out where they went, what parks and play areas they used. Have there been any strangers in the area?"

"The team will get all of that information for us while they're out," Rossi said. "Think hard for me, Spencer. What sort of killer are we looking for here? Is this someone that is targeting children to ultimately kill or was the death accidental?"

Reid picked up one of the pictures of the grave site. "This isn't an attempt to hide the crime," he said. "I don't believe there was any shame involved in burying her. The site is fairly open and seems to be well-traveled, even if the grave itself is a little back and off to the side. She wasn't buried completely so that speaks either of hurry, plan to return to visit her again, or disregard for her once she was dead. We're looking at someone that is going to keep doing what he's doing until we manage to catch him."

"And that's one of the most dangerous unsubs to face," Rossi said with a sigh. "Hotch will find out what wounds and other injuries she might have suffered before she died. I hope we're not looking at a sexual predator here, Spencer."

"Me too, Sir," Reid said softly.

"We're not, or at least not yet," Hotch said from the doorway. He shut the door behind him and moved to sit across from the pair. "The girl actually wasn't badly injured. Cause of death was a head injury and the coroner believes that she fell from somewhere and died almost instantly."

"It would have to be somewhere pretty high to cause death," Rossi said, leaning back in his chair. "Is it possible she was trying to get away from our unsub for some reason and climbed up high somewhere, like on top of a bookcase or into a closet and lost her balance?"

"Living dolls," Reid said softly.

Hotch nodded. "That's a likely guess, Reid," he said. "The man is taking them and turning them into some form of doll. Making them into something they're not for some reason. Now it is possible that the first girl died before he was able to sexually assault her, and if that's the case, we need to keep that on the board, but I don't believe that his motives are purely sexually motivated at this time."

"So our unsub is looking for children that he finds attractive for another reason," Rossi said, thinking aloud. "I think that we need to take a look into the background of everyone here in town, Hotch. Can we have Garcia run just their basic backgrounds to see if anyone has ever shown an obsessive interest in female beauty?"

"That's a good idea. I'll also have her look into anyone that left and came back," Hotch said, making notes on a piece of paper in front of him. "Reid, do you have anything you want Garcia to start working on for you?"

"I need more maps of the area to try and create a geographic profile," Reid said. "The one the police have isn't detailed enough for me to work with. Also have her look and see if the two girls have ever been in any sort of a beauty show. It's possible the unsub picked them out before he realized he would abduct them."

"I like that angle," Rossi said, patting Reid's shoulder. "I know that some mothers in the juvenile beauty world can be fiercely competitive, even if their children are not."

"I'll go make the call," Hotch said. "Good work, you two. I'm going to see about getting us some dinner in here and the police have a hotel for us to use when we get tired. I'm thinking about working in shifts so we can keep up with everything."

"We'll take the first one," Rossi said. "When do you want to swap out?"

"Every eight hours," Hotch said. "I know I don't really have a partner, but I also know that we all have trouble sleeping on cases like this one."

"That's the truth," Rossi said with a sigh.

"How are you doing, Spencer?" Rossi asked when the pair finally made it to their room around midnight.

"I'm scared for the missing girl, Sir," Reid replied. "I want to find her before she's hurt worse than she's already been. She doesn't have the experience to deal with a situation like this."

Rossi settled into the chair in the corner, knowing that Reid would curl up against his legs. "Do you see any parallels between the victims and yourself, Spencer?" he asked softly.

"What do you mean, Sir?" Reid asked. He leaned into the hand petting him.

"These children are put in a situation they've never been in before and are having to conform to new rules put into place unexpectedly," Rossi said. "I'm not talking about sexual assault. I'm talking about a life being rearranged by someone else."

"I could have said no, Sir," Reid said. "They can't."

"Would you have said no, Spencer?" Rossi asked. "Don't lie to me. Think things through carefully and critically and then answer. You don't have to tell me your answer tonight if you don't want to. You can think about this as long as you want."

Reid shook his head. "Jason told me to answer promptly," he said.

"On some things it's better to answer immediately, yes," Rossi said, slowly petting Reid. He loved the feel of the silky hair sliding through his fingers. "But on some things it's okay to take the time to think about them from every angle, to consider events from different perspectives, and then answer the questions. Sort of like we do on cases when we have the time to think about an unsub's actions in connection with different cases."

"Like today, there were several different possible motivators for the initial abduction," Reid said. "But Sir, I didn't want anything else but to work with Jason, and even though I didn't bend immediately to the rules, I knew I was going to. They surprised me, but they didn't make me want to stop Jason because I was doing something I love."

Rossi nodded. "Spencer, I feel like I should tell you that if I'd been the one to bring you in, I would never have put the rules in place with you because I don't believe in them," he said. "I don't believe that they're a good thing, that they make an agent work harder or focus better on their work. The only thing I believe they do is cause discomfort and fear. You didn't need any of that because you're such a bright light, Spencer."

"Sir, do you know why no one else in the unit knows about the rules?" Reid asked.

"Remember what Hotch said when talked to you on our last case, Spencer? He never considered the rules worth anything," Rossi said. "He never taught the rules to anyone else. Gideon's the one that pushed for the rules, and that's why they were taught to you. Because he felt that they were still worth something when no one else on the team had the restrictions placed on them."

Reid tilted his head a little, but didn't look up at Rossi's face. "You're angry, Sir," he said softly.

"Not at you, Spencer. I'm angry for you," Rossi said. "Gideon knew my feelings on the rules, and knew how Hotch feels about them, and still put them into effect with you."

"Hotch didn't try to stop him?" Reid asked.

"Hotch didn't know, so he didn't know he had to," Rossi said with a sigh. "Spencer, you're a very private young man. I've learned that much just since we met eight months ago. Gideon's always been a master at keeping things hidden from others, so even Hotch wouldn't have been able to see that the rules were in play with you again. The only thing he would have seen would have been a very devoted young man with his mentor."

"I never thought about it like that before, Sir," Reid said.

"Remember that Hotch would have stopped Gideon had he known, Spencer," Rossi said. "As would I. Come on, we've got to be back at the police station in far fewer hours than I want to think about. Do you want to share the bed tonight?"

"Yes, please, Sir," Reid said.

"All right, go change and get ready for bed," Rossi said. "I'm going to send Hotch a quick text and then I'll get ready once you're finished in the bathroom."

Chapter 20

Hotch was working with Morgan when Rossi and Reid got back to the station the next morning. "We're starting to get information back," Hotch said, glancing up at the pair.

"What's Garcia managed to find?" Reid asked, sitting down and reaching for folders to start reading.

"Nothing that will help us nearly as much as I hoped it would," Hotch said with a sigh. "So far there's nothing catching our attention on anyone in town. That means that either this is the cleanest, most pure town ever, or someone is hiding something that hasn't made it into any official records yet."

"I'm going for coffee," Morgan said, stretching. "Hey Pretty Boy, you want to come with me?"

"Uh, sure," Reid said, looking up from the folder in front of him. "Rossi, you or Hotch want anything?"

"Just straight black for both of us," Rossi said. "I've seen what you consider coffee, Reid, and that's nothing close. That's sugar with slight coffee flavor."

"I need my energy," Reid said, following Morgan out the door.

Hotch waited for a minute and then looked over at Rossi. "Do you think that's smart?" he asked softly. "Morgan might have noticed something."

"I think he has, but not what you're thinking, Hotch," Rossi said. "He wants to know why Spencer and I are spending so much time together, and I trust Spencer to tell him one of our cover lies because the last thing Spencer wants is anyone on the team finding out the truth."

"Are you sure of that?" Hotch asked.

"As I can be. If Morgan finds out the truth, he's going to come for the both of us first, Hotch, and I know that Spencer doesn't want anything to happen to either of us," Rossi said. "I talked with Spencer a little last night, tried to draw a few parallels between him and the victims on this case."

"How did he take that?"

"I think he's still thinking about it, but he also said he doesn't feel like a victim," Rossi said.

"Because he doesn't know that Gideon lied to him so badly," Hotch said.

"I'm hoping that, if he ever finds out the truth about that, I've helped him build up his self-confidence enough that he can look at it as objectively as is possible in such a situation," Rossi said.

"Which isn't much, considering that he's been raped for years," Hotch whispered. "I didn't know, Dave. I didn't see anything wrong."

Rossi reached over and patted Hotch's shoulder absently. "He doesn't blame you," he said. "I've been working to be certain the blame goes to one place and one place only. Right square where it belongs. I see what you mean about these files. There's nothing."

"I wish I had your ability to multi-task," Hotch said. "It would make my life so much easier at home."

"Takes practice," Rossi said. "Cooking is a good place to start, especially multi-course meals. I think that we need to expand our grid a little. Have the police had any luck with reports of strangers passing through?"

"No, although I had another thought on that. We should ask about family with visitors in town," Hotch said. "I would hate to think that anyone would be housing such a monster, but we need to check."

"That's a good point. I'll be curious to see what they have to say," Rossi said. "I'm going to call Garcia and get her to start another search for me. I want to see how many children have been sick this past year, who ended up in a hospital out of town."

"What are you hoping to find there?" Hotch asked.

"I'm curious to find out if someone in the hospital might not be as good as they pretend to be," Rossi replied. "It's one of the few legitimate reasons I can think of for a stranger to come into regular contact with a stranger."

"I'll see if there's anything else that could have brought strangers to town too," Hotch said, pushing back. "We just have to find the right line, Dave."

"Don't steal lines from your betters there, Aaron," Rossi said, glancing up with a grin. "You didn't know how to bait a hook when we met."

Hotch couldn't help but smile back. "I still don't," he said. "I'm counting on you to take Jack fishing when he starts asking."

"My pleasure," Rossi said.

"All right, Pretty Boy, spill," Morgan said when they were out on the street.


"I want to know why you're hanging out with Rossi all the time," Morgan said. "Including pairing up for room when we're out of town."

Reid sighed. "Morgan, do you know how much there is to learn from Dave Rossi?" he asked. "The man practically wrote the book on profiling."

"He did," Morgan said.

"That aside, he's a wealth of information on perfecting techniques that we use daily in our work," Reid said. "He's also a funny guy that's actually really fun to hang out with away from work. I'm doing my best to teach him about popular culture and how it applies to our work to counter his more classic knowledge and how that applies to our work. He's also offered to teach me how to cook. Aren't you the one that's always after me to eat better?"

"Well, yeah kid, but he's old enough to be your father," Morgan said. "I was thinking you should be hanging out with people closer to your own age."

"They don't understand me," Reid said. "Mentally I'm closer to Rossi and Gideon than I am to anyone within my own age bracket. Not to mention that I don't have any shared experiences to work with for people my own age either."

"I just worry about you being alone all the time, Reid."

"I don't want to date, Morgan. I've told you that repeatedly," Reid said. He pushed the door to the café open and went up to the counter. "Good morning, could I place an order to go, please?"

"Sure, cutie," the old lady at the cash register said with a smile.

"Thank you. Three cups of black coffee, as large as you have," Reid said. "Then, let me see, pancakes with bacon for one meal and eggs, scrambled, hash browns, and sausage for the other. Morgan, do you want anything?"

"I'll get mine and Hotch's," Morgan said.

"That's it then," Reid said, pulling out his wallet. He paid and stepped to the side for Morgan to place his own order. "Morgan, I've asked you multiple times if you want to come see a movie or go to a museum with me, and you always say no. Rossi enjoys many of the same things I do, and it's nice to have someone to hang out with that isn't looking for something more."

"It just seems like an unusual friendship," Morgan said with a sigh.

Reid nodded. "I suppose it would, but he's a good friend," he said. "I think that we're both enjoying our lessons and conversations, and sometimes I feel like he understands me better than anyone ever did. Do you know how rare that is in my life?"

"More than it should be," Morgan said. "All right, kid, I just wanted to be sure that you were happy and safe."

"You didn't think Rossi was taking advantage of me," Reid said. He started laughing when he caught the look on Morgan's face. "You totally did. I'm telling Rossi about this. He'll get a kick out of it."

"Don't you dare," Morgan said.

"Too late," Reid said, pulling out his phone. "This is going via text."

He squeaked and dodged to the side when Morgan made a grab for the phone. The woman behind the counter just smiled. She'd realized they were both federal agents and there to find the person hurting the children in the town. She also thought they were too young for such a serious job and was happy to see that they had friends to help them survive.

Chapter 21

"Part of me feels like I should really be offended that Morgan thinks that I could take advantage of anyone, let alone anyone as smart as you," Rossi said that night when the pair was back in their hotel room. "But I am glad that you were able to explain things to him."

Reid leaned against Rossi's leg and couldn't help the laugh that escaped him. "I think he's feeling a little guilty that he never realized that when I was asking him to go and do things, I was asking for him to be a larger part of my life than he already is," he said. "Jason didn't allow me much time away from him, but during the week I could still go and see things like museums and movies as long as I was quick about them. I wasn't allowed to invite anyone over to my apartment, but I was able to explain that as not wanting people in my personal space."

"Spencer, can you tell me how Gideon treated you in public?" Rossi asked softly. "Either at work or any time you were in the field, or with the team?"

"He was always a lot nicer to me," Reid replied just as softly. "More like he respected me, my opinions, and he would even smile at me every so often. I know the team thought that he adored me, treated me like his own child, and I'm not sure how they never noticed anything was wrong."

"I told you, Spencer, that Gideon is very, very good at hiding his real self whenever he's in public. Sometimes I think the only reason I was able to see the darkness inside him was because we hated each other so I didn't have a reason to believe what I saw," Rossi said. "The team, once Gideon started bringing people together in the larger team we have today, would have only seen what he wanted them to see. In some ways, not all, but some, Gideon parallels the very unsubs he chased."

"I don't understand, Sir."

"You don't have to, Spencer," Rossi said. "I've known Gideon for a long time and I've seen him do a lot more than you have. Can I ask you one other uncomfortable question tonight?"

"Whatever you want to ask me, Sir," Reid said.

"Did Gideon ever let anyone else touch you?"

"No, Sir, he didn't," Reid said. "He said, he said he would kill me if he ever found out anyone else touched me. I thought he meant at all and worried about pats on the shoulder from Hotch or those small punches that Morgan is so fond of."

"He just meant sexually though, didn't he?"

"Yes, Sir."

"What about now, Spencer? Are you worried that Gideon will come back and find out that you're letting me touch you?"

Reid shook his head against Rossi's leg. "No, Sir, because he gave me to you," he said. "Because I belong to you, he won't have the same objections than if I still belonged to him and was letting you touch me."

Rossi didn't think it was that easy, but he didn't want to worry Reid when there was no guarantee that Gideon ever would show back up and attempt to keep the young man back again. "I hope that I'm worthy of having you, Spencer," he said.

"I think you are, Sir. You've shown me so much patience and understanding while I was trying to adjust to having you as my senior agent," Reid said. "You took Rule Five out of play and haven't done anything to hurt or scare me."

"By that logic then, does that mean that Gideon wasn't worthy of having you, Spencer?"

Reid just shook his head and turned to bury his face against Rossi's leg. Rossi bit back a sigh. "That's okay, Spencer, you don't have to answer that question," he said. "It wasn't fair of me to ask you that question when Gideon was your senior agent. No matter how much I disagree with him putting the rules into play for you."

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said. "Sir, I know you said no sex on cases, but I need something to help me relax tonight. I'm not going to be able to sleep otherwise."

"What do you need, Spencer?" Rossi asked. "I'm not promising that I'll do it, but what do you need?"

"Can I suck you, Sir?"

"How would that help you relax, Spencer?" Rossi asked.

"It's something I learned not long after I joined the unit, Sir. I'm more relaxed if I have something in my mouth," Reid replied. "It's why I always have something to suck on whenever I'm working."

"What about you? I know you can't touch yourself, so how would you get your release tonight?" Rossi asked. "I'm going to have to practice before I get near you, Spencer. Do you want me to stroke you while you're doing this?"

"I can climax from sucking you to orgasm, Sir," Reid said. "It's something I taught myself because Jason wouldn't touch me if he was making use of my mouth, and he wouldn't let me touch myself."

"Where would you want to do this?" Rossi asked.

"Either here or on the bed, Sir," Reid replied. "It's easier for me to control the depth if you're sitting or in a position where I can use a little weight to keep your hips restrained."

Rossi nodded. He knew that penetrative sex would never happen on the road, no matter how much Reid begged him, mainly because Hotch would never forgive him if he broke that rule. What he was even considering was borderline and would probably end up with a lecture from Hotch in the morning when he worked out what happened, but Rossi did want to make sure that Reid was able to sleep. Working the cases was hard enough without worrying about insomnia.

"Come up here, Spencer," Rossi finally said. He helped the younger man get settled in his lap and turned Reid's face towards him. "This isn't a promise that you'll get what you ask for every time we're on the road, Spencer, but because you were honest with me tonight, I'm going to let you have what you need."

Reid smiled. "Thank you, Sir," he said softly.

"Come here." Rossi pulled Reid in for a soft kiss. He kept it light at first, wanting to tease the younger man a little, but also to give his body a chance to realize that there was sex coming and to start waking up. Rossi still wasn't sure where he fell, now, on the sexuality scale, but thought that he was moving closer to the other end with every kiss from Reid. He deepened the kiss slowly, tasting Reid as he went, finally sliding his hands down slowly to cup Reid's ass.

The younger man squeaked at the small squeeze Rossi snuck in and broke out of the kiss. "Will I be able to feel you inside me someday, Sir?" he asked softly. "I miss that feeling."

"Soon, Spencer," Rossi said, nipping lightly at Reid's neck. "I'm still getting used to a male partner and need to be sure I don't hurt you. There has to be a book somewhere that will help me figure out what I'm doing."

"I'm sure there is, Sir," Reid said. He shifted back and wiggled down until he was between Rossi's legs. "Lift up for me, Sir."

Rossi raised his hips so Reid could undo and pull down his jeans. "I'm not sure how fast I'll get hard for you, Spencer," he said.

"I know a few tricks, Sir," Reid said. "I still can't believe how big and thick you are. I can't wait to be able to feel you moving inside me, as often as possible."

"Not if it's going to hurt you, Spencer," Rossi said. He hissed when a cold hand wrapped around his cock and lifted it up. "We're going to take the time to be sure that you're ready for me, and then I'm going to treat you exactly how special you are."

"I know you won't hurt me, Sir," Reid said. He lowered his head and licked the tip a few times, flicking his tongue in a teasing pattern between licks. Rossi's head fell back against the back of the chair. It'd been too long since he'd had a sexual partner, someone willing to take the time to taste and explore him as much as he wanted to them. He didn't know when he would be able to take Reid into his mouth, suck him off, but he had hands and he was more than willing to use them to make the younger man feel good while he worked everything else out in his head.

Reid finally opened his mouth and took the head and another little bit into his mouth, sucking softly. Rossi bit back the moan trying to escape and had to wonder how often Gideon would make Reid get him hard and then suck him off. From what Reid told him, either Gideon was taking some sort of medication or he forced Reid to help him respond and then abused him, given the number of times Reid said Gideon would climax on a given weekend day. Rossi didn't think he would be up to four or eight climaxes a day, no matter how talented the mouth working him was. And it was talented. Reid seemed to be searching out and mapping the whole time he sucked and licked Rossi's erection.

Rossi glanced down and saw that Reid was hard, his trousers doing little to hide his own erection, and Reid's hips were moving slowly as he sucked. Rossi had had a lot of blow jobs in his life, but never one where the pleasure built up so slowly. He didn't know if it was because Reid was his first male partner so there were no soft breasts for him to fondle while the woman worked him, or if was simply because Reid had been trained to take his time and touch every possible inch of an erection, but Rossi couldn't do anything other than rest back in the chair and enjoy the pleasure slowly starting to spike in his gut.

The younger man finally shifted up so he could put some pressure on Rossi's legs to keep him from thrusting up and worked to try and take Rossi as deeply as he could. Rossi knew that he wouldn't make it the first time, no one ever did, but Reid's hand more than made up for what his mouth wasn't able to cover. Reid's hips were also thrusting a little faster, and Rossi didn't wonder if the pressure of the fabric wasn't part of what helped bring Reid to his own climax.

The tongue circling him finally undid Rossi. He came his a bitten off moan, eyes slit so he could watch Reid as the younger man fell apart into his own climax, and finally slumped back in the chair panting for breath. "Spencer," he muttered.

"Yes, Sir?" Reid asked.

"You're amazing," Rossi replied, reaching out to start petting Reid again.

Chapter 22

Hotch looked up when Rossi and Reid joined them in the interrogation room turned office for the team. His eyes narrowed a little and he sighed. "Dave, can I talk to you for a minute, outside, please?"

"Sure," Rossi said. "Reid, would you check and see if those hospital records I requested have made it down to us, please?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said softly.

Rossi squeezed his shoulder and followed Hotch out of the room and then outside and down the street a little. "What's up, Aaron?"

"I thought you said no sex on cases," Hotch said softly, turning to look at Rossi.

"I did."

"So you lied to me?"

"Yeah, I guess I did, even if I didn't know I was at the time," Rossi said. "Reid needed something to help him relax and sleep last night, Aaron. We didn't tell you about this, but Morgan was questioning him about why Reid and I are suddenly so close."

Hotch deflated a little at those words. "You didn't penetrate him, did you?"

"What part of I'm still working things out are you having problems with here, Aaron?" Rossi asked. "No, I didn't. Would I have liked to, yes. Did I have the thought that you would kill me if I even tried it, of course I did. We didn't do anything complicated or that Spencer didn't want."

"You can't do this, Dave."

"Honestly, I don't think it's the first time," Rossi said. "I think that Gideon probably didn't exactly follow that rule when you were out in the field, Aaron. I haven't talked with Spencer about it, but I have a feeling in my gut that Spencer was available any time Gideon wanted, at home or not."

"That doesn't excuse you doing the same thing," Hotch said.

"Aaron, I considered everything last night, from the proprieties to how angry you would be to what Spencer was asking," Rossi said, running a hand through his hair. "But I finally decided that helping Spencer to relax enough to be able to sleep was more important than the rules."

"What did you do?"

"Sat there and enjoyed myself," Rossi said. "How detailed do you want me to get, Aaron?"

Hotch flushed red. "You're going to have to clarify that statement," he said.

"Fine. Spencer blew me last night," Rossi hissed. "One of the slowest, most intense experiences I have ever had, and he climaxed completely untouched just from bringing me pleasure. He lasted long enough to change for bed and was asleep before I joined him."

"Did he change in the room with you?"

"No. I'm not pushing for that, Aaron. The last thing I want him to do is fixate on any damage that Gideon did to his body," Rossi said. "He's told me that he has scars and I know that he's ashamed of them. I've got a couple I'm not overly fond of, but I don't hide them away like I used to. He'll show me when he's ready and we'll deal with them together, just like we're handling everything else right now."

"Rossi," Reid voice came from down the street, "you need to see this."

"Be right there, kid," Rossi called in reply. "Hotch, I know you feel like you messed up when you didn't see anything Gideon was doing right under your nose, but you've got to trust me to take care of Spencer. I'll see you back inside."

He left Hotch standing on the sidewalk, no doubt processing everything that was said between them, and headed back towards the police department. "What did you find, Spencer?" he asked.

"Both our victims were treated at the hospital for stomach problems, and both ended up having surgery there," Reid said, passing over a folder. "They both had the same nurse."

"A male nurse," Rossi said, looking at the printouts. "Is this the first commonality we've found between our victims, Spencer?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "Our previous victim went to day care, our current victim stays home with her mother. Neither girl participates in the same activities, goes to the same playground, or even eats at the same restaurants."

"Then I think we should give Garcia a call," Rossi said with a smile. "Let's see what we can find out about our male nurse and how his patient relations record holds up."

"Travis Norton, age thirty seven," Garcia said about an hour later. The team had gathered in the room to hear her report. "He's been a nurse for about ten years, worked at a hospital up in New Jersey before moving to his current job. His co-workers seem to like him, the parents of his patients all adore him. I wasn't even able to find a traffic ticket."

"Keep digging, Garcia," Hotch said. "It's possible that he's not our unsub, but I want to be certain. Morgan, you and Emily head over to the city and talk with Norton. See what you make of him."

"Will do, Hotch," Morgan said.

"Dave, I want you and Reid to start looking at anyone else at the hospital that might have come into contact with both of our victims," Hotch said. "Hospitals are a busy place, even in the pediatric area, and there's a lot of people that not everyone notices. See what you can find."

"Right," Rossi said.

"Garcia, while you're running information on Norton, I want you to start running other names from the hospital," Hotch said, turning back to the computer. "They have to do background checks on people that work there, see what you can turn up. I doubt anyone would have missed something so critical, but it's amazing what can fall through the cracks."

"You got it, Chief," Garcia said. "Reid, while I have you close at hand, I also ran the check you asked for and haven't found anything yet. I'm still working on it though."

"Thanks, Garcia," Reid said with a smile.

"What check was that, Reid?" Hotch asked as the computer went black.

Reid looked up, but didn't quite make eye contact with his boss. "I asked Garcia to take a look at the credit and purchasing history for people in town," he said. "The victim was found in a very nice dress and the parents stated that they never saw it before. Someone had to buy it, and if they bought one, it's possible they bought other clothes and things for children. I don't believe our unsub has children of his own, so this would be atypical purchasing and, while it might have been done with cash, I thought it worth checking."

"It is," Hotch said. "Good thinking, Reid."

"You did good, kid," Rossi added with another squeeze to the shoulder. He tried to ignore the feel of Hotch's eyes burning into his skin when he did it. The man seemed to be allowing his guilt full control, and Rossi would have to have another talk with him about it before Hotch gave something away when the rest of the team was around.

Chapter 23

"Sir, why is Hotch mad at us?" Reid asked that night when they were back in their hotel room. None of the traces they'd sent out that day had come back worth anything, and Hotch finally made the call that everyone on the team was going to sleep through the night and come back in the morning with fresh eyes.

"He's not mad at us, Spencer," Rossi replied. "If anything, I believe that he's mad at himself and he's unfairly projecting onto me right now. I'll speak with him when we're home again and that will take care of everything."

"What's he upset about, Sir?"

"I believe it's a combination of things," Rossi said. He reached down and started to pet Reid softly. "I do know that he's not happy that I was willing to bend a rule I put into place about no sex on the road."

Reid's face flushed red. "How did he know, Sir?"

"Hotch has known me long enough to know what I look like first thing in the morning after sex, even if it's nothing intense," Rossi said. "Last night, Spencer, was one of the most intense moments I've ever had in my life. You are amazing."

"I'm not, Sir. I was just doing what I was taught to do."

"The fact that you care enough to take care of your partner as much as you do, Spencer, is what makes you so amazing," Rossi said. "I've met some sexual submissives that have been taught to give pleasure with their own denied and they aren't nearly as attentive as you are."

The younger man looked up and accidentally caught Rossi's eye. "I'm sorry, Sir," he said, ducking down away from Rossi's hand.

"It's okay, Spencer," Rossi said. He shifted forward and touched Reid's shoulder gently. "I know you didn't mean to do that and I'm not going to punish you for accidental eye contact. Come on, take a deep breath for me. Don't hyperventilate. Easy now. Easy."

Reid started to hold his breath between each gasp in an attempt to regulate his breathing a little more. "I'm sorry, Sir," he finally managed. "I shouldn't have risked looking up at you, but I was startled by what you had just said."

"You're not in trouble. I'm not going to punish you for accidental eye contact in the field or at home," Rossi said. He leaned back in his chair. "Come on, Spencer. You're okay. I know that probably scared you badly, but you're okay. What startled you?"

"The fact that you've been pleasured by sexual submissives, Sir."

"Undercover work trying to break up a slavery ring," Rossi said. "The owners of those sexual slaves, they were more slaves and less submissives there by their own choices, were good, Spencer, but none of them came close to what you did last night."

Reid leaned back against Rossi's leg carefully, as if he was still afraid of being hit or punished for looking up. "Do sexual slaves really have so little choice, Sir?" he asked.

"It depends on how and why they are there," Rossi said. "In this case, they were kidnapped and forced into slavery, which could have been why they weren't as good as some others I've been with. That was one way they were able to protest what was happening to them and their bodies."

"Did you eventually manage to break the ring, Sir?"

"We did, although it was too late for the first victims," Rossi said with a small sigh. "They were too damaged physically and mentally by what happened to them, and died before we could get them to a hospital for treatment. The newer victims recovered as much as they could after what happened to them, though I know a few of them re-entered into a sexually dominated relationship once they were free from the hospitals. I talked with them, to find out why they went back, and they said that they enjoyed the domination. The lack of having to make choices about things. The only thing they didn't like was the fact that they were forced into the situation. Going into it by their own choice meant they still had power in the relationship because they could also leave any time they wanted."

"Why did you do all of this sexually related work, Sir?" Reid asked.

"It was actually my start into profiling, even though I didn't know it then," Rossi said. "I worked sex crimes for a couple of years before I met Max. The two of us started to compare notes on observations we'd made about the as-yet unnamed unsubs we'd been chasing and realized there was something there. He's the one that brought Gideon in. The three of us started going to interview any serial killer, sexual predator, or other type of deviant in prison or jail that we could whenever we were in the field. We started to show our work to the Bureau, trying to convince them to let us start profiling on a full-time basis. To create the BAU."

"So you each came into the unit with a different introduction to profiling," Reid said. "What drew you to sex crimes, Sir?"

Rossi chuckled. "I love sex," he said. "One of my favorite things is to bring pleasure to my partner, in bed or out of it. I started dating at a young age and was probably wilder than my parents ever realized, spending more dates in the back of the car with my girlfriend than we ever did at the movies or doing something our parents would approve of. As I got a little older, I started to look at sex from a more academic point of view, even if there weren't really classes in sex at school."

"Probably just as well, Sir. I don't want to think what the homework assignments would have looked like," Reid said.

The chuckle became a laugh. One Rossi had trouble bringing under control. Reid's lips started twitching a little because Rossi truly laughing was contagious, and he wasn't sure that he wasn't going to start laughing too. Rossi finally managed to get himself settled down and wiped his eyes. "Just the syllabus alone would be worth seeing," he managed. "I went into the Marines, came out, went to school, and joined the Bureau. When they realized where my passion, for lack of a better work, lay they assigned me to the sex crimes unit. We did some good work there, Spencer. Helped a lot of people that needed us."

"I'm just glad that you met Max Ryan and were able to form the unit, Sir," Reid said. "I don't know anything else I would have been suited to do."

"You would have found something, Spencer. Your remarkable and amazing mind would be equally good in any sort of research field, and you would have been able to pick and choose once word was out how special you are."

"I don't think it would have been that easy, Sir," Reid said. "I love profiling. There's something about it that I can't explain, no matter how I try. It's like a piece of me I never knew was missing."

Rossi nodded. "I know exactly what you mean, Spencer," he said. "Are you ready for bed or do you want to talk a little more?"

"I'll go change, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi caught Reid's hand and pulled him down for a kiss. "Spencer, you let me worry about Aaron, okay?" he whispered. "The man is too stubborn for his own good, but he listens to me. I promise you that he is not mad at us."

Reid nodded. "Thank you, Sir," he said softly.

Chapter 24

"We're overlooking something," Morgan said, staring at the files on the table. "I don't know what, but it's something."

"The hospital seems to be our best lead so far," Reid said, flipping through folders again, even though he really didn't need to. "Was there anyone there that stood out, Morgan? Someone that didn't seem to belong or seemed uncomfortable having federal agents around?"

"No one that caught my eye," Morgan said with a small sigh. "Em's either, and we both had our eyes open while we were talking with our suspect."

Rossi looked up from his computer. "What about sending someone in undercover for a couple of days?" he asked. "Maybe as a patient and we could see if we could spot our unsub that way."

"If the unsub is even at the hospital," Reid pointed out.

"I don't think it would hurt to have someone else go back up and take a look around," Rossi said. "What do you think, Hotch?"

"Reid and I will go," Hotch said. "Dave, get in touch with Garcia and see what else you can find out about here in town. Morgan, you and Emily go on back and speak with the families again. You're right that we're missing something, but I'm not sure where we need to start looking for that something we're all missing."

"Right," Morgan said. "See you guys later tonight."

Reid looked over at Rossi, but didn't say anything. Rossi waited until Hotch was the only other one in the office and then reached for Reid's hand. "Go on, Spencer," he said softly. "You know what we're looking for and people don't see you when you're behind Aaron. Keep your eyes open and you'll be fine."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"Aaron, could I talk to you for a second before you take off?" Rossi asked. "It'll just take a second. Reid, you go and get coffee for both of you, and we'll meet you out at the car."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

Hotch sighed, but followed Rossi outside to where their car was parked. "What, Dave?" he asked.

"Don't bombard Spencer with questions while you're driving, please, Aaron," Rossi said softly. "He accidentally made eye contact with me and almost passed out when he realized what he'd done. Spencer is still trying to find his place without Gideon's stronger control, and he's fragile right now."

"I just want to make sure he's okay," Hotch said.

"You do realize that I could take offense at that statement," Rossi said. "I'm serious, Aaron, do not hound him. He's already scared enough that you know the truth and are mad at him because of it. You could really do a lot of damage and the only reason I'm not objecting to you taking him along with you is that I do know how easily people forget he's there when you're the one asking questions."

"I'm not mad at him," Hotch said.

"He doesn't see it that way, and I don't want you to scare him more," Rossi said. "Remember that I'm walking a delicate line here, Aaron, and you could push him over very easily. Do not forget the truth about the rules."

"I won't," Hotch said with a sigh. He ran his hand through his hair. "I'm not happy about any of this, Dave."

"If I'd known it was going to cause so many problems, I wouldn't have told you the truth," Rossi said. "I told you because I trust you to be able to be professional, Aaron. Spencer needs us to treat him normally no matter how much you want to hide him away from whatever harm you think he's suffering."

Hotch nodded. "I'll be good," he said. "And I'll make sure he knows that I'm not mad at him, Dave. I just want to be sure that he's healthy and happy."

"He's got a long way to go, but he's getting there," Rossi said. "Here he comes. I would check with the cleaning staff too, Aaron. They get a lot of shit dumped on them unfairly, but they're also usually not noticed in hospitals. I suppose it's possible that one of them is our unsub."

"That's a good point, Dave," Hotch said. He reached over and took the cup of coffee that Reid held out. "Thanks, Reid. Dave, let me know what Garcia has to say."

"I will. You guys drive safe," Rossi said. He squeezed Reid's shoulder with a smile. "Do me proud, Spencer."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi stood in the parking lot and watched the pair drive off. He would have to have a serious talk with Hotch when they were home again because he would give the game away acting like he was, and that realization was the last thing Rossi wanted to risk Reid having. Learning how he was lied to and abused by a senior agent would kill him at that point in his recovery, and Rossi would be damned if he let that happen to Reid.

"Did you want to talk to me, Sir?" Reid asked softly, not five minutes into the drive.

"I just wanted to see how you're doing, Reid," Hotch replied. "I know that you've had a lot of changes in your life since Dave came back, and I also know that change is hard for you."

"I'm fine, Sir," Reid said. "Rossi is a good senior agent. His interpretation of the rules still throws me every so often, but he explains things to me and then it makes sense. I just didn't realize how much I still have to learn."

Hotch glanced over. Reid was sitting with his eyes fixed firmly on his lap. "Can you give me an example of that, Reid?"

"Yes, Sir. Rossi likes for me to ask questions when I don't understand something," Reid said. "Jason never allowed questions. He would punish me if I asked, or seemed to be questioning something he told me."

"So Dave is still working towards a broader interpretation of the rules as you know them."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

"Are you happy, Reid?"

Reid sat and thought for a long minute. "I don't know what happy is, Sir," he finally said. "I don't feel as nervous or scared around Rossi. He's, well, he's predictable, Sir. He doesn't lie."

"He never has. If anything, his honesty gets him in trouble some of the time," Hotch said with a sigh. "I know that you feel like Dave's the only one you can talk to about the rules and what you're feeling, Spencer, but I want you to know that you can come to me too."

"Thank you, Sir, but it wouldn't be right," Reid said. "I'm only supposed to talk with my senior agent about the rules."

"Is that a rule itself, Spencer? Because it's one I'm not familiar with if it is."

"It's not an official rule, but one Jason made sure I understood, Sir," Reid said.

Hotch had a feeling that Reid meant that Gideon beat the rule into Reid until the younger man was too scared of the pain to risk talking to anyone about anything not related to work, but he didn't want to ask that question. "Gideon taught you one of the strictest interpretations of the rules I've ever run across, Reid."

"Sir, may I ask you something?"

"Of course you can, Reid."

"Why did you never teach Morgan the rules?"

"Because I don't believe the rules make a profiler better at their job," Hotch said. "I didn't know that Gideon was going to bring them back into play with you, Spencer. If I had, I would have stopped him. You are an amazing agent and you didn't need these stupid rules to work for the unit."

"I think they've made me better at my job, Sir," Reid said.

"How do you figure that, Spencer?"

"It's hard to put into words, Sir, but my place is behind my senior agent," Reid said. "Much as I'm going to be today behind you when you're asking questions. It's let me watch more and learn more body cues than I might have learned otherwise."

"Would you ever be interested in forgetting the rules completely now that Gideon is gone, Spencer?"

"No Sir," Reid said. "Because that would mean everything I knew, everything I've learned is worthless. Don't make me forget the rules, Sir. Please don't make me forget them."

"All right, Spencer, we won't," Hotch said. "We won't. I swear to you that we won't."

Chapter 25

"Agent Rossi, can I speak with you alone for a minute, please?" the doctor asked.

"We'll wait outside," Hotch said.

"Thanks," Rossi said. He wasn't sure exactly what happened when Hotch and Reid arrived at the hospital, but having Reid ending up unconscious in the emergency room was the end result. The unsub was dead, and the kidnapped girl back home with her parents. She was as unharmed as it was possible to be after being kidnapped and held against her will, but the parents hoped that time would help heal those wounds.

The doctor shut the door and moved back over to the bed. "Agent Hotchner told me that you're Agent Reid's listed medical power of attorney as well as next of kin," he said. "I'm worried about the extensive scarring all over Agent Reid's body."

"He was in an abusive relationship for years," Rossi said, taking Reid's hand gently with his own. "I haven't seen the scars, he's very shy about them, but I do know that they are there."

"Do you know any of the details?"

"I don't. Spencer is still healing from wounds worse than the ones that scarred his body," Rossi said. "I trust him to come talk to me whenever he feels comfortable enough to share with me. Can you tell me what happened to him today? No one else seems to be able to."

"Agent Reid was hit with a tray that had been used to deliver food to a patient's room," the doctor said. "While plastic, the tray was still swung with enough force to cause a head injury. Agent Reid will be fine, but he has to stay quiet for two weeks while he heals."

Rossi nodded. Their unsub had been one of the doctors treating patients, a woman that lost her own child suddenly to a crib death. They still weren't sure if that was her only motive in the kidnapping, but as Hotch had said, at least she wasn't trying to steal babies from the hospital. That would have been harder for them to unravel, even with the enhanced security around the birthing center. Hotch noticed that no one really seemed to question the doctors around the hospital about anything, and he thought it might have been possible for the doctor to kidnap an infant out of her own hospital.

"I'll do my best to keep him down, but Spencer normally has a lot of energy," Rossi said. "Do you need to admit him?"

"Not with you and your team here, no," the doctor said. "As soon as he wakes up and we can judge the extent of the concussion he no doubt has, he'll be able to go home with the proper instructions."

"We live up in Virginia," Rossi said. "Is he cleared to fly?"

"No, he's not," the doctor said. "I'm sorry about that, but I don't want the pressures in his brain to change more than normal."

"I'll rent us a car and drive us home then," Rossi said. "That'll take several days, so I guess it'll be easy to keep him down for those. What else do I need to be on the lookout for?"

"Severe mood swings, memory loss, or vision problems," the doctor said.

Rossi sighed. "He wears glasses part of the time, and he does have mood swings that most people would consider severe," he said. "I think memory loss might be the only clue I have. Spencer has a perfect memory and a high IQ."

"Spencer also has a headache," Reid muttered, shifting a little.

"That's what happens when someone hits you in the head, kid," Rossi said with a fond smile. "It's dark in here, you can open your eyes. The doctor is here, Spencer, and he wants to see how you're doing."

"Agent Reid, my name is Dr. S," the doctor said. "My real last name is too long and complicated for anyone to say. How bad is your headache?"

"Six, maybe six and a half," Reid said. "I get migraines and this isn't close to any of those."

Dr. S nodded and made a note in the computer next to him. "All right, we can give you something to knock that back," he said. "What about your vision? Are you seeing clearly?"

Reid lifted up his hand and looked at it. "Yeah, nothing is blurred or doubled," he said. "And the man with me is David Rossi, founder of the BAU at the FBI, author, and all around pain in the ass."

The doctor looked like he was about to protest, but Rossi started laughing. "All completely true," he said, squeezing Reid's hand gently. "I didn't warn him that you were sarcastic, Spencer. Tell me the truth, how do you really feel, kid?"

"Like a mad doctor hit me over the head with a food tray in an attempt to escape from Hotch's questioning," Reid said. "I'll be okay."

"Let me check you over and then we'll see about letting you go back to your hotel with Agent Rossi," Dr. S said.

"Okay," Reid said softly.

"Sir, how were you in with me when I woke up?" Reid asked when they were back in their hotel room.

"Hotch lied to the hospital and told them that I'm your power of attorney," Rossi replied. He sat down next to Reid's hip and reached for his hand. "Spencer, I want to tell you that the doctor was curious about your scars, wanted me to look at them, but I refused. Your body is yours to show to me when you want to, not for me to look at whenever I want, no matter the circumstances."

Reid closed his eyes and nodded carefully. "Thank you, Sir," he said. "I don't know when I'm going to be able to share that with you. What did you tell the doctor?"

"I bent the truth a little and told him you were in an extremely abusive relationship that you'd only just ended and were trying to recover," Rossi said. "I wasn't going to tell him the truth, Spencer, because he wouldn't understand it."

"Thank you for lying, Sir," Reid said. "I don't want anyone else to know about my punishments for not being good enough at following the rules. It makes me feel like I failed badly and there's nothing I can do to make it up."

"Your secrets are safe with me, Spencer," Rossi said. "Now then, the doctor refused to clear you to fly, so you and I are going to be driving home. I've talked to Hotch and he's going to put us both on vacation for two weeks, so we have the time to drive slowly and maybe see a few places that you want to visit but haven't had the chance to."

"Really, Sir?" Reid asked.

Rossi nodded with a smile. "Really, Spencer. You can't do anything that will strain your body while you're healing, so Disney World is out, but we can do other things."

"I've never been to NASA before, Sir," Reid said.

"Let me make sure that's safe for someone recovering from a head injury and we'll see," Rossi said. "Start thinking about other things too, Spencer, because it really will only take us a day and a half to drive home from here."

Reid smiled. "Thank you, Sir."

"You're welcome, Spencer," Rossi said. He didn't voice the thought that the time away would give Hotch a chance to think things through as well. Rossi wasn't under any illusions that Hotch was going to forget his guilt easily, but it was possible that maybe he could slowly come to terms with it if things were handled just right.

Chapter 26

"Aaron, can you do me a favor while I'm driving home with Spencer, please?" Rossi asked when he and Hotch were standing alone by the rental car outside the hotel.

"Anything, Dave."

"Take some time and think, seriously, about your feelings about what happened to Spencer. I'm worried that you're allowing yourself to attempt to become overly protective of him to make up for what you perceive as a lack in yourself from before, and that's not what he needs from you," Rossi said. "He needs you to be strong, to be the Hotch he trusts to be able to find him when no one else can. To be the Hotch that knows everything and will make everything okay when no one else can."

"You make me sound like his father or something, Dave," Hotch said with a sigh. "You're right, though. I think I'm a little jealous that you're the one that gets to help him heal when you've only known him for about a year and I've known him for years. Logically I understand why I can't be the one to help him through this, but that doesn't make it any easier on me."

Rossi nodded. "I know that, Aaron, and I'm sorry for snapping at you like I did the other day about nosing into my business," he said. "I'm flying blind trying to help Spencer however I can and I'm just worried that he'll realize something is wrong if you start acting differently towards him now."

"Which he could, and then he would want to know what it is," Hotch said. "I need to tell you that I asked him, while we were driving up to the hospital, if he would ever feel comfortable forgetting the rules."

"He won't."

"He was almost in tears at the thought. I didn't realize how much he had internalized the rules to himself, Dave. I guess I hoped that he would be able to move past them as he healed, but he never will, will he?"

"I would doubt it, if only because of how the rules were taught to him, and how they were enforced for years," Rossi said. He ran his hand through his hair with a sigh. "I'm doing my best to show him that each of the rules has a broader interpretation than the one that Gideon taught him, and I should be able to help him step out of his shell a little, but there's always going to be triggers there that you and I will have to be alert to."

"Like eye contact."

"Exactly. I have no plans to ever punish him, Aaron, for anything," Rossi said. "If he believes he needs to be punished, I'll have him scrub the kitchen floor or clean the bathroom; something that will be practical and still allow him to feel as if he has been punished."

"I hope it never comes to that," Hotch sighed. "Dave, I need to tell you that I saw his scars when the doctors were treating him before you got there. They're worse than you're expecting."

Rossi sighed too. "I'm expecting them to be brutal and sadistic," he said. "Is that about their level, or are they worse than that?"

"Define sadistic?"

"Hot knife blade used to carve and cauterize at the same time across the body," Rossi said. "Scars layered on top of scars, possibly spelling out words in a few places, but all marks of ownership that will never be able to be undone. No matter how much we may wish for them to be."

"That's pretty close, actually," Hotch admitted. "I didn't try to read the two that looked like words, but I can only imagine what Gideon would have put there to make Reid feel like a failure at everything."

"One day I might be able to convince Spencer that plastic surgery could help him, but right now I'm just happy he isn't withdrawing from me after this injury," Rossi said. "We're going to take our time coming home, Aaron. He wants to go to NASA and I just don't have the heart to tell him no. I'm also going to take him to the beach at least once, and I'm planning to stop in every used bookstore I can find us on our way back."

"You both need a holiday, and this will be good for Spencer," Hotch said. "I don't think he's ever taken as much as a sick day since he joined the team. I realize, now, that was Gideon's doing, but he needs to learn how to relax too. You're the perfect one to teach him that."

"Just because I enjoy the finer things in life does not mean I'm lazy," Rossi said. "Spencer's mind works too fast for him to be able to truly relax, but I've found a couple of things that help him at least be able to sleep at night."

"Here comes the team," Hotch said. "Keep me posted on your progress and where you guys are. I don't want to have to tell anyone that you're lost trying to get back to Quantico."

Rossi snorted. "Very funny, Aaron," he said. "We'll be back before our two weeks are up, I promise. If everyone is nice to us, we might even return with presents for the team, right, Spencer?"

"Sounds good to me," Reid said.

"Enjoy yourself, kid," Morgan said, hugging Reid carefully. "As much as you can with Rossi along anyway."

"And here I was planning to drag him to every crypt and funeral home I could find," Rossi said dryly. "Keep in mind, Morgan, that age does not mean that we do not know how to have fun. It just means that we understand the truer meanings of pleasure."

"They're perfect for each other," JJ said, pushing Morgan into the waiting car. "Morgan, just shut up and move over. You're not the only one sitting back here. Rossi, you and Spencer have fun. Call me if you need anything."

"We will," Rossi said with a fond smile.

"See you guys later," Emily said, hopping into the front seat before JJ could get there.

Hotch shook his head and sighed. "I think you've got the easier part of this, Dave," he said. "Reid, you take care of yourself and get better."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.

Rossi waited until they were alone next to their rented car. "Well, Spencer, I checked with NASA, and there's the general tour, but it turns out that one of my old buddies from sex crimes works there now," he said. "We've been invited for a behinds-the-scenes tour first thing in the morning."

"Really, Sir?" Reid asked, lighting up.

"Yes, Spencer, really," Rossi replied with a fond smile. "Come on, we've got a bit of driving to do to get there, but not much. I figured we should probably ease into driving and go short distances for the first couple of days."

"Whatever you want to do, Sir," Reid said. He got into the car and fastened his seat belt.

"Then I want to get to our hotel, get settled, and find a place for a good dinner that will help you heal," Rossi said. He started the car. "We've got two weeks, kid. No sense in rushing around."

Chapter 27

After checking into their hotel, Rossi found them a small, out of the way Cuban restaurant for supper, and then took Reid to the beach. It was still warm out, although the Atlantic was too rough for swimming. "What do you want to do, Spencer?" he asked. "Would you like to walk for a bit or do you want to sit and rest?"

"Can we sit for a bit, Sir?" Reid asked. "I'm still sleepy."

"Sure," Rossi replied with a smile. "That's why I brought a blanket along with us. Come on, let's go a little ways down the beach and we'll sit and talk about what all we want to do while we're traveling home again."

Reid walked next to Rossi, eyes fixed on the water bursting against the shore. Rossi took them to a spot where they would be able to see the waves but stay safe and dry before he tossed out the blanket. "There you go, Spencer," he said.

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said. He waited until Rossi was sitting next to him before lying down with his head resting on Rossi's leg. "I've never seen the Atlantic this wild before. Is there a storm off-shore?"

"I don't know, but you can't go swimming for at least a week, not with that head injury," Rossi said. "So, we'll go and meet up with my friend tomorrow and spend the day with him, and then I thought the next day, before we start north, we could hit up a couple of bookstores in the area."

"That sounds like fun, Sir," Reid said. "What all are we going to see tomorrow?"

Rossi shrugged. "I have no idea, Spencer," he said. "I just know that the tour for the public has a couple of rides that would be too rough for you. Now, that's not to say that we can't come back another time, but right now we need to keep your feet on the ground until you're healed up."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "I'd like to come back, some day. I've never really had a chance to do things for fun before, not things that aren't close to home."

"Hotch mentioned something when he and I were talking before you showed up with the team this morning," Rossi said. "He said he didn't think you've taken so much as a single sick day since you started working. Is that true, Spencer?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "Jason wouldn't let me miss a day of work, no matter if I was sick or not. So I got really good at hiding illnesses from the team and worked through them because I didn't want Jason mad at me."

"Then I'm going to make it a point to introduce you to the idea of a vacation, Spencer," Rossi said. "We're going to take at least one a year, whenever it's slow so Hotch can get us both out of there at the same time, and go somewhere fun. I'm sure you have places you want to see, even if it's going for information rather than full entertainment."

Reid nodded carefully. "I do, Sir," he said. "I'd love to be able to see England and Europe before I die. There's so much history and culture there that I just want to go and explore it."

"All right then. It'll take us a few years, but I think we can manage a few other countries," Rossi said with a smile. "I've got a lot of friends and contacts around the world, Spencer. I can probably get us into places the public usually doesn't see if that's something you would be interested in."

"How do you know so many people, Sir?" Reid asked.

"Some are friends from school, the Marines, or people I've met through fundraisers or other events," Rossi said, starting to run his fingers through Reid's hair. "Some from work. I've worked a few cases with the International profiling team, with Jack Garrett and his people, and I met some friends that way."

"Is it hard to make friends, Sir?"

"I don't think it is, no, but then again, I've always been out-going and enjoy talking with people about anything they want to talk about," Rossi said. "For you, though, I imagine it is hard because of how quickly you were forced to grow up."

"I told Morgan the truth, Sir," Reid said. "I don't have anything in common with anyone my age, and I don't want to try to find anything. People my age don't interest me."

"Which is perfectly fine, Spencer," Rossi said. "We'll see about teaching you how to open up and trust a little more, but that's a big change, and I know that you're not comfortable with change. Is learning to make friends something you're interested in doing?"

"I don't know, Sir," Reid said with a shrug. "I mean, with how much we work, it would be hard to keep in touch with them, even with the ease of communication that's around, and I wouldn't want to put in all that effort only to lose them when I'm not able to spend more time with them than I am. Jason also made certain my focus was always on him."

Rossi bit back a sigh. He didn't want to say that Gideon was a self-centered bastard that had an overly inflated ego, even if it was the truth. It wasn't something that Spencer needed to hear. "I know that the rules say your focus has to be on your senior agent, Spencer, and I'm not telling you that has to stop," he said gently. "I'm just giving you the option of learning something new, which I do know you love to do. If you'd like me to start introducing you to more people, helping you learn to make friends, then that's something I'm happy to do. If it's something that you'd like to wait on because your whole life has already been turned upside down, then that's fine, too. I'm never going to force you to do anything you don't want to do."

"I know, Sir," Reid said. "I think I'd like to wait for a while. I'm still trying to figure out how things work now, and too much more will make me uncomfortable."

"Do we need to slow down on expanding the rules, Spencer?" Rossi asked. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable or sick."

"No, Sir, it's fine," Reid said. "You explain things well when I'm not sure what you want and that helps. You're always there for me, and you are paying me more attention than anyone else ever has. You make me feel like maybe I deserve to have you as my senior agent."

"You deserve so much more, Spencer," Rossi said. "It'll take time, but I'll show you exactly what I mean."

Chapter 28

"Spencer, come here for a second," Rossi said, sitting down on their bed in the hotel room. "I need to talk to you about a couple of things."

"Yes, Sir?" Reid asked, sitting down next to Rossi.

"My friend's name is Sam. He left the Bureau after a particularly nasty case had fallout that he couldn't handle," Rossi said. "He decided to stop looking at humanity for answers and turned to the stars instead. I know he's happy down here, and I don't expect him to ask about our work, but he might. You can be honest with him. Sam has a high security clearance and won't talk out of turn."

Reid nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said. "I recognize the name, if it's the case I'm thinking about. Four children kidnapped and taken across four states, one found dead and dismembered in each."

"That's the case, yeah," Rossi said with a sigh. "People said that Sam didn't work fast enough and that was why the children died. You and I both know that's a load of crap, and this was prior to profiling, so there wasn't a way to get a good profile on the suspect. Sam did his best, but at the end of the case, he looked at those four children and walked away from everything because of it."

"It's always harder with kids, Sir," Reid said.

"It is, you're right. I've also told Sam a little bit about you, Spencer," Rossi said. "That you're a genius that doesn't like human contact, so he's not going to try and shake your hand or touch you. I've also told him about your injuries, so he knows that you can't do anything that's going to jerk you around. I think that we'll be able to come back for you to try the astronaut training another time, but it's too much for you right now."

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said.

"All right, last thing then," Rossi said. He reached over and ran his fingers through Reid's hair softly. "We're going to treat today like a case, Spencer. That means that eye contact is allowed and you will not be punished for it. I know that you're excited to be going to NASA and I don't want you to feel that you have the shadow of me getting angry at you hanging over everything."

"Really, Sir?" Reid asked, looking up slowly.

Rossi smiled and pulled Reid in for a soft kiss. "Really, Spencer," he said.

Sam was waiting for them at the entrance. "Dave," he called, starting over towards them. "Good to see you. How have you been?"

"I've been good," Rossi said, give Sam a hug. "How about you? What are you working on these days?"

"I'm part of the team that's getting ready to launch a long-term satellite out to the farther end of the solar system," Sam said. "I'll tell you about it when we're inside. Is this Spencer?"

Rossi looked over and found Reid standing next to them, looking around. He smiled fondly. "Yep, Spencer Reid, meet Sam Hughes," he said.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir," Reid said. "Thanks for inviting us to come and visit today."

"The pleasure is mine," Sam said with a smile. "Come on, let's go on inside and get you guys your passes. Spencer, Dave said that you're recovering from a bad head injury. Let me know if you need to stop and sit for a while. I'm going to do my best to show you the highlights, but that means a lot of walking."

"I will, thank you," Reid said. "What are you and your team hoping to find out in space?"

"We're aiming for Jupiter and Saturn, hoping to be able to get a closer look at not only the two planets, but their moons," Sam said. He entered a code into a door lock and led the way inside. "Mostly we're focused on trying to find out how things have formed as the solar system was born. So many people are focused on Mars right now, we thought it would be good to look past there, if we can manage it. There's a lot of space between us and them, and we're having some issues with the on-board computer talking to us."

"Do you think it's possible that humans will be able to live on Mars, Sir?" Reid asked. He took the badge with a smile of thanks and clipped it to his shirt. "Right now it's very much a one-way trip, and there's no way that help could reach them quickly should they need it."

Sam laughed. "Sounds to me like you're very aware of the problems involved in the project," he said. "You're right, time is very much an issue there, but people are determined to make the trip. My personal opinion is that they should wait a few more years, let us work on engines that can get the ships moving a bit faster between Earth and Mars before they go out there to pretty much die, but it seems that they're determined to go forward no matter the danger or potential to die."

"The first group will die, won't they?" Rossi asked. "I mean, faster than they are thinking they will. I've heard the talk about how they're going to live, what they'll eat, but there's the ultimate question of what would happen should one of them get sick. What if one of them goes insane? Cabin fever is proven to be deadly."

"Exactly right, although I think only those that work with people and understand, as much as we can, how their minds work have thought of that," Sam said. "I don't care how many tests you put people through, how many times you stick them in isolation for days on end. Ultimately, they are going to be in a group of people that have to depend on each other to survive. History shows that it's not a long-term prospect, no matter how you slice it."

"Some day, however, we'll make it," Reid said, looking around. "Although I think that we should finish exploring our own planet before we start looking to others."

"What do you mean, Spencer?" Rossi asked.

"The oceans, Sir," Reid replied. "There's a lot down there that we don't know about, aren't able to get to and explore. I think that we should know every part of our own world before we leave it behind to look to the stars."

"That's a point a lot of people are bringing up, Spencer," Sam said. "Come on, you'll get a kick out of seeing this. I have to push for space exploration, though, or I'm out of a job. I'll admit to personal curiosity about what's down under the water though."

Reid paused in the doorway and stared at the mock-up of the space shuttle. "Can we go in?" he asked.

"Yep," Sam replied with a smile. "Come on."

Chapter 29

Rossi bowed out of climbing around the mock up of the space shuttle with Spencer, preferring not to have to bend his body into small spaces more than was required for the job. He spent the rest of the day watching Reid to be certain the young man wasn't over-doing on anything in his excitement, but Reid asked a couple of times if they could just sit for a bit to rest, so Rossi was pretty sure that Reid was listening to his body. At the end of everything, they thanked Sam for taking them around the facility and promised to come back again for a visit when Reid was healthy so he could do some of the training astronauts underwent.

"Thank you, Sir," Reid said when they were back in their hotel room for the night. Rossi ordered room service for them both and found a movie on the TV that Reid hadn't seen, somehow. "I don't remember the last time I had so much fun."

"You're welcome, Spencer," Rossi said with a smile. "I'll be curious to see how you work your new knowledge into our job."

"I don't think anything about NASA will fit into profiling," Reid said. "But I suppose anything is possible, Sir. Do you think everyone will like the presents we got for them?"

"Even if they don't, they'll just be happy that you're thinking about them when you're not there," Rossi said. "I think you're pretty safe though. You know as well as I do that Aaron prefers to take notes long-hand and still writes drafts of his reports before he types them up. That space pen will be a huge hit with him. Morgan's going to love the t-shirts you got him, and the girls will enjoy the books and pictures. You know your friends better than you think you do, Spencer, and that really showed today when you were shopping for all of them."

"Are they friends, Sir?" Reid asked. "Jason wouldn't let me spend time with them away from work, and isn't that something friends do?"

"You tried to spend time with them though, Spencer, giving up parts of your week nights to go out and do things when you didn't have to be with Gideon," Rossi pointed out. "Sometimes friends are close at work but never see each other away from work because that's where they like to interact. Tell me the truth, would you like to go out dancing with Morgan and Emily?"

Reid flushed bright red and buried his face against Rossi's leg. "No, Sir," he said. "It would be too much for me."

"Exactly right, which is why they never push you to join them," Rossi said. "They know that it would be too much for you, so there's team dinners and drinks after work and that's the way you're able to spend time with them as friends. The work we do, Spencer, is darkness. Think about the types of minds we spend time exploring in our work, and then think what a so-called normal person would think about what we do. We go out for those team dinners and drinks after especially bad cases for a simple reason. We know what we've just seen, lived through, and know that we need to talk about it to be able to file the case away."

"So we're friends even though we don't really do things outside of work?" Reid asked.

"You are," Rossi said. "I can promise you that Morgan thinks of you as a little brother, Spencer, and I wouldn't be surprised if Emily and JJ don't feel the same. I think our team is more than friends, although that's how society would probably label us. I think we're more of a family, which is one reason we don't feel a need to spend extra time together. We work, travel, fight, and live as a unit. We all know each other well enough to know when something is wrong without asking, and often known how to help without asking as well."

Reid fell silent, thinking about what Rossi just said. For his part, Rossi tried to stay relaxed so Reid wouldn't know that he was furious at the team yet again. No matter how well they claimed to know each other and help each other out, none of them picked up on the abuse Gideon layered on Reid, and that infuriated Rossi more than he wanted to let on. If it wouldn't destroy the young man leaning against his leg, Rossi would grab each member of the team and shake them until they saw the truth. Profilers had blind spots, Rossi didn't deny that – and knew that he had a couple big enough to drive cars through – but even knowing that didn't lighten the anger he felt towards the very people that should have been watching over Reid and helping him when he was new on the team.

Rossi also knew how manipulative and persuasive Gideon was, and he could see, from his own interaction with the team, how Gideon managed to deflect all attention away from Reid and his own activities with the younger man. Out of everyone on the team, Hotch had had the best chance of noticing the problems, and Rossi also knew that Hotch was still beating himself up for not seeing what was right in front of him.

"Sir, are you okay?" Reid asked softly.

"Just thinking, Spencer," Rossi replied. "Are you ready for bed?"

"I thought I might shower first," Reid said, "if that's okay?"

"Of course it is," Rossi said with a smile. "Take as long as you want to, Spencer. We don't have to check out until eleven tomorrow so we can sleep in a little before we hit the road and check out those bookstores. I also found an adult store that I'd like to look in, see if they have any books that might help me figure out what I need to be doing to keep you safe as we move into a deeper relationship."

Reid lit up at the thought of books. "They might, Sir," he said. "I've never been in an adult store before. Can we look at other things too?"

"Sure," Rossi said, still smiling. "I know you've had toys used on you before, Spencer. Is that something you enjoyed?"

"Yes, Sir," Reid said. "Although right now I want to be able to find out what it feels like to have you inside me, toys would be good too. They might help you get a little more comfortable with preparing me for you."

"We can talk about it," Rossi said. "Go get your shower, Spencer. I'll wash in the morning before we take off."

"Yes, Sir," Reid said.