"As I walk through the valley, of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil, 'cause I'm blind
to it all."
- Ellie, The Last of Us Part II 'Through the Valley'
Distantly, he realizes the shrill scream of the alarms have been silenced.
His head throbs, his skin feels sticky and slimy all at once, and his insides burn. The concrete below him is cold and unforgiving, the murmur of the other inmates has trailed off to near nothing. The other three having skulked off somewhere, most likely to escape or commit other insidious crimes, and the only two left in the room are Stretch and inmate #5.
#5 is sitting by his head, big fingers massaging into the base of his neck, Stretch is standing above them both, arms folded over his chest, as he stares disapprovingly down at #5.
“You know, this is your only chance at freedom. Are you really going to just sit there, and not take it?”
#5 only hums, “I’ve got a life sentence waiting for me in these walls, a few more strikes on my record won’t effect it too much I believe.”
Stretch sighs, “Well if you do get caught, do us a favor and not implement us in the crime too much? Least you could do with your life sentence.”
#5 only laughs, fingers gripping tightly into Spencer’s hair.
He’s hauled up, slung over a shoulder as he’s carted through the empty halls. His mind barely conscious, confused and swimming in too much exhaustion to dredge up a coherent thought. Or perhaps the shock of his recent trauma, clouding his judgment?
Or maybe it’s just the many orgasms wrung so violently out of him, rendering him jelly limbed and fucked out of his mind.
Who knows at this point really.
An old sweatshirt found discarded in the janitors closet hang off his frame. Far too big for him, and smelling of must and chemicals.
Hands lay him down, (a car Spencer realizes but where did the inmate find one so close?) roughened leather digging into his cheek. The smell of old cigars and spilled booze permeates his nose as his mind wavers.
He’s too tired to care much right now anyway.
He drifts off to sleep, as the engine roars to life. The car creaking as it makes its way down a dusty side road.
It’s three weeks later, driving through back roads and sleeping in the rickety truck.
It creaks heinously when he takes him in the darkness of night, rocking wildly. The darkened windows doing well to mute his screams.
They’ve made camp in an old, long abandoned cabin in the woods. Ivy growing over the decrepit structure, roots of gnarled, aged, trees poking through the water logged floor. * All that’s left of this cabin’s life from before is an old rickety chair, and a moth eaten rug.
Inmate #5 shoves Spencer through the door, pushing him to the ground, and turning to secure the door behind them. Spencer grunts as his body hits the floor, the threadbare rug doing nothing to cushion his fall.
Cool evening air wafts through the house, sweet grass and damp leaves rolling over him as he takes a deep breath. Right now he’d begin talking to his captor, establish a connection and make the other man break apart under his own fantasies. But the old sting in his face, and the faded green bruises on his cheek remind him, painfully, exactly what the inmate thinks of Spencer trying to establish a “connection.”
He only speaks when spoken to, and even then he keeps his responses short to prevent angering the older man.
Now, looking around this forgotten house, overrun with weeds and roots, he feels the beginning of an idea begin to take shape. His voice might have been stolen, but his mind still works regardless.
Now all he must do is wait.
It’s the eve of the third day in this shack, the inmate has ventured into the woods presumably to find them food. He’s been surprisingly self sufficient actually, catching fish and small game, as well as foraging roots and edible berries.
During these times, he usually leaves Spencer tied to the lone chair in the center of the room. Today he’s managed to guilt the inmate into letting him remain on the floor, wrapped up in what blankets they have to stave off the chill of the early spring nights. Spencer had stated his reasonings as his body hurting, and having too much of a shaky constitution to put up with the harsh treatments much longer.
Thankfully, after weeks on the road and so much stress, he looked sickly enough for the man to grant his wishes of just wanting to go to sleep.
Well, with the added compromise of a blindfold and his ankles tied together as well, but being a genius Spencer had accounted for this as well.
Time for a plan.
So turns out running a mile is much easier when your high on adrenaline.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end.
Spencer winces as he’s tackled to the ground, his skull impacting with a gnarled root, hot blood streaming down his face.
Strangely enough, as he’s dragged away kicking and screaming, the only thing he can think of is how angry the convict is.
Spencer is dragged back to the little shack in the woods, shoved roughly through the door, where he’s splayed across the lone chair. He grunts as his stomach impacts with the rickety arm, old wood digging into his diaphragm.
The inmate snatches hold of his neck before he can rise, the meaty hand tightening hard enough to choke, before he’s flipped around.
The first hit steals his breath, fist digging into his stomach. The second forces lights to dance across his vision, his head snapping back harshly.
The inmate beats him senseless for his wrong doings, blows raining down hard upon his tired body. The convict has him right there, bent over a rickety old chair, struggling for breath and half dead as he fucks into him carelessly. Blood, and bruises smeared over Spencer’s quickly swelling face, tears dripping down his chin.
Afterwards the ex-imate holds him so gently, the man tells him it’s all his fault as he runs soothing hands over the bruises and the blood. Cooing so sweetly, his words nothing but wretched pain, and humiliation.
The inmate keeps Spencer long after that, traveling through back woods and abandoned cabins. Forging on through putrid summer heat, and stolen cars. Through red canyons, and fields of dry, sweet smelling grass. Birdsong giving away to cicada’s screams, mosquitos always finding a way to sink there teeth into his skin.
Fall comes and goes just as fast as it arrived, the longest they’ve stayed so far is in a Wisconsin apartment on the wrong side of town. Marijuana filling the halls and mixing with the scent of old blood, and sex. The streets and alleys filled with scantily clad women, and men, hooting and calling into open car windows. Guns are a casual accessory here, and for once Spencer is thankful for the inmate’s intimidating form.
The apartment is just as sordid as the rest of the neighborhood, but he remembers the rafters stretched across the ceiling. Thick planks of plywood wood in the living room, stained in cigarette smoke and secrets.
He remembers the feeling of being tied to them, the burn in his shoulders, and the blood dripping from his chafed wrists as big hands rip him apart piece by piece. He remembers the numb sort of despair he’d felt, being tied up there and strung out for hours and hours. The tears that fall from his eyes silently mixing with the suspicious stains left by past tenants, coming together to add to this old tapestry of horror.
Spencer never speaks a word, words earn pain and more suffering, so he bows his head and screams when he’s told, cries when he’s allowed, and begs when he’s supposed to.
It hurts too much to think, faces and places filled with such far away happiness always managing to force their way to the front. It hurts too much to think about, and it hurts even more when he knows it’s so far away, and that he can’t have it anymore. So he doesn’t dwell on it, he lets himself drift in blissful ignorance, letting the former prisoner pull his strings as he pleases.
They forage across the border, and into Canada in the last months of Autumn, where #5 leashes Spencer to a swaying pine. The other man takes a knife to his, now riotous, curls and shears it short to his skull. A homemade buzz cut at its finest.
They drift through Canada easier than the States, unknown and always the new kids on the block. Odd and with drawn, the skinny young man with the short hair who never says a word. The intimidating beast next to him, friendly if only to ensure no one asks questions.
They never do either, not when more and more bruises bloom on pale flesh. Not when they can hear the muffled shrieks next door, not even when they see the tear stains in red rimmed eyes.
Winter blows through, sleet and ice creeping up around the old town house they’ve found themselves in. The dusty fire place roaring, its red flames licking at pale, naked flesh. Burning it raw and pink, as he’s forced to shake apart in unwanted pleasure, draped across the hearth.
In early summer they move on, driving further and further north. Eventually finding themselves in American soil again in the form of Alaska. Here the convict sets up a life for them, and here Spencer truly becomes a ghost, the convict happy to pander to this lifeless doll.
They have a house just outside of town, they are surrounded by people and families, and Spencer has never felt so alone in his whole life. The house is two stories tall, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. A nice kitchen, and an underground cellar.
Spencer avoids looking at the cellar door, punishment and pain is the only thing carried out under this house. It is a home with a foundation of pain, and horror.
It’s mid summer when the convict bends him over the sink, dying his now mid-shoulder length hair dirty blond.
It is here, in this house within this frigid wasteland, that the convict gives him his new name. Erasing every last part of who he once was. Reaching deep inside and tearing out every left over vestige of Dr. Spencer Reid.
His name is William, and he is so sickly he can’t bare to go outside. His kind, loving uncle Jacob cares for him twenty-four seven.
William has never desired death so much.
They stay in Alaska.
They live in the two story house just outside of town, they go to church on Sunday, and Jacob takes part in the weekend hunts with the rest of the men. He drags back bear, and deer and many different kills.
Every time Jacob washes the blood off his hands, Will can’t help but wonder if it’s all truly just animal blood.
Summer bleeds into Fall, then Winter once more.
Slowly, over the months and months and months Will’s been forced into proximity with Jacob, their relationship has…eased in some twisted way.
Will begins to laugh when Jacob jokes, he reciprocates in the light banter they engage in. The fear that had stolen Dr. Reid’s voice is soon replaced with the submissive shell of William.
Small gifts are given to Will, perhaps it’s Jacob being pleased with his pet’s shift in attitude. Books begin to stack up on the bedside table that Will has come to call his, cashmere sweaters, soft gloves, beautiful hand bound journals, and an expensive set of fountain pens just to name a few.
Jacob’s touches gradually turn gentle, his words turned into a kind caress when once it was burning cold. The basement door remains firmly locked, pushed aside but never forgotten. The bloodstains, the pain, the horror, the fear all sealed away in a neat little package.
It stands ominous in the front hall, Will has to walk past it every day, he supposes it serves as a reminder and a warning to himself.
But no matter the twisted joy that had slowly creeped through the shadows drenching his existence, Will still couldn’t seem to shrug the last vestiges of a former life.
Every time Jacob layed hands on him, fingers running up and down bare arms, a nose in his hair, lips on his forehead, he can’t help the fire that spreads across his flesh. Every time the convict fucks him through the mattress, he can’t quite shake the numbness in his limbs.
The detached horror freezes his body, and silences his voice.
But then again, he supposes it could be worse.
Rossi is the one who sees him.
He’s pacing in front of an old store front, absently listening to Morgan rant over the phone about Spencer’s newest replacement, the woman proving herself more and more useless each passing day.
It’s been two years since that horrible day, the janitor’s closet splattered in forensic evidence, the missing inmates, and Spencer so devastatingly gone. Ever the protector, Morgan is hit the hardest, he runs on anger and coffee fumes for a good six months before they’re all forced to move on to other cases.
Six months, that is what Spencer is worth in everyone else’s eyes.
It’s just as Morgan is beginning to bitch about the way “Kirsten” obsesses about her hair, that Rossi sees him.
Tall, heavily muscled, prison ink taking up every part of exposed skin he can see. Middle aged, salt and pepper hair pulled into a short tail, scruffy face streaked in silver. He’s got a mean look in his eye, sauntering down the snow slicked street like he owns it, hunting gear slung over his broad shoulders.
Orlando Kantz, forty-three, a serial kidnapper, and rapist, with a +100 year life sentence.
“Morgan, I gotta go. Send back up, hell, send the whole damn army if you can.”
He hangs up immediately, not waiting to hear the others indignant spluttering, as he tails the ex convict down the street.
Original case long forgotten.
Will hurries down the hall, leaving the laundry basket in the living room on his way to the kitchen, as the oven timer beeps loudly.
He’d taken up baking in the last few months, working off nervous energy in the form of increasingly extravagant confectionary delights.
He hurries past Jacob, the man just returning from a long hunt, as he scrambles to pull the pans from the oven. Cinnamon rolls, as big as his head and soon to be slathered in frosting. They’re for Jacob, he’s grown fond of having them after a particularly long hunt, says they “warm his soul.”
The man laughs as Will shoos grabbing fingers away from the cooling rack, Jacob retreating upstairs to shower. Will turns to make the frosting, rifling through the fridge for the cream cheese.
It’s as he’s just finished frosting the sweet rolls, placing dirty dishes into the sink and wiping down the counters, that his whole world seems to come to a halt. Sitting at the kitchen table, in front of a vase of wilting flowers, is a gun. Not truly a surprising sight, given how much of a hunter Jacob is, but it’s the gun itself that makes him freeze.
It glints in the afternoon light, lacquered wooden handle shining in the sun, a box of bullets is placed next to it. Withered, purple petals are scattered around the weapon, creating an oddly fantastical scene.
It’s your gun.
Something deep inside of him wrenches at the thought, a long silenced voice struggling to the front of his consciousness.
He reaches for the polished weapon, fingers shaking minutely, as he wraps his fingers around the handle. The dull roar of blood in his ears, the panic making his heart race. Numbly he loads the gun, strangely steady fingers pushing the barrel back into place, and clicking the safety off.
The floor boards creak behind him, heavy steps drawing near, as Jacob steps into the kitchen toweling his hair dry still.
The voices reach their crescendo as he turns, gun in hand, and aims steadily at the convict.
His hands are steady, he does not flinch nor hesitate.
The gun flashes dully, the loud bang muted in his rushing head.
He watches, as if through someone else’s eyes, as the man falls to the ground, blood gushing from the hole in his chest.
Will paused then, and stares at the smoking gun in his hands, turbulent thoughts rattling in his skull. So many voices, so many decisions, so much pain tearing through him.
He hefts the gun a little higher, turning it to stare down the barrel.
He just wants it to stop.
He pulls the trigger one more time.
Morgan had never given up his search for Spencer.
After the first six months, after the bureau forced them to take on other cases, he’d almost quit entirely. He was nearly driven crazy, dragged down with guilt and anger, as he used every waking moment not in the office to desperately claw at slowly dwindling straws.
The only reason he stayed was because of resources, if he left the FBI he would no longer have Baby Girl to help him, he couldn’t access the databases, or open case files so easily anymore.
He hadn’t had a full nights sleep in over two years, he ran almost purely on caffeine and despair. It was a very stressful situation.
But no matter what he did, who he asked, where he looked, or how he poked nothing ever came of it. It was as if Spencer had just disappeared into nothing, swept away in the wind like a mirage.
A closet full of forensic evidence, and filth, and yet there was no where else to look.
Orlando Kantz had stolen one of his closest friends, stolen him and defiled him, and tore him apart.
So when Rossi, voice full of so much desperation and righteous anger, had demanded back up Morgan had felt his heart leap.
This was how he found himself knee deep in Alaskan snow, crouched by the back door of a two story town house. The men behind him, and surrounding the house with the other agents, were a mix of police and armed Alaskan’s.
Morgan strained as he peered through the door’s window, laying eyes on what had to be the kitchen.
His heart stopped, and his world titled, as he saw him. Standing, back to him, looking at something on the dining table was Spencer. His hair was much longer than Morgan had ever seen it and dyed a dirty blond, the roots having fallen back to their original brown with no regular upkeep.
But god was he skinny.
Skinny, and pale, and fragile, and bruised, and scared.
It was like the world shifted in slow motion, Spencer turning to look at Orlando as he stepped into the kitchen. In his extended hand was his gun, and such a strange look in his eye.
The first shot pierced through Morgan’s stupor, the bang sent his body moving on autopilot. His panic escalating as he saw Spencer turn the gun on himself, and Morgan kicked the door down. Mind disconnected from reality, his body numb, he could only move.
His arms wrapped around Spencer.
Tiny, he was so small.
His hand knocked the gun askew as slender fingers squeezed the trigger, the bullet diverting from its original path due to Morgan, and instead flying through Spencer’s shoulder just below his neck.
Distantly he could feel the pain race up his arm as the rouge bullet skimmed his arm, blood soaking his coat. Their blood mixed between them as Spencer collapsed, Morgan sinking to the floor as he tried not to jostle him and hurt him more.
Everything was spiraling, chaos infecting all.
And yet all Morgan could feel, was complete and utter relief.
Tears heated his eyes, and clouded his vision, as he clutched the others limp body to him tightly
Limp, but alive.
Morgan hadn’t failed him entirely yet.
The hospital lights hurt his eyes, and the smell of chemical, and disinfectant brought back unpleasant memories.
He kneeled on the floor, cold tile making bony knees ache. Soap, and lukewarm water dripped from his hands and slicked up to his elbows, the wet sponge dangling from limp fingers. Curtains of hair shielded his face, blocking out everything else, aside from the slowly growing puddle of his blood.
Shoes clicked across the floor, familiar footsteps drawing closer.
“What are you doing kid.” Rossi crouched just inside his field of vision, shiny, black, loafers glinting in the setting sun.
And that was the million dollar question, wasn’t it?
What was he doing?
He’d awoken in this hospital, and when he tried to get out of bed he popped his stitches, and blood started to flow. He slipped on his own life, his yelp of pain alerting the nurses outside, and they rushed in with groping hands trying to haul him back into bed.
It was not a good idea.
He’d promptly freaked out, small, feminine hands shifting into a bigger rougher pair. Tearing at his clothes, into his flesh, and dragging out his misery.
He bit one of the nurses in his hysteria, and they ran off immediately. Left alone, he’d been allowed to sink deeper and deeper into his psyche, panic and stiff horror waring in his own mind.
But, Jacob had always made him clean up his own messes, so he found what he need and got to work. It gave his frantic mind something to focus on, the familiar motions of scrubbing blood from the floor nearly second nature.
He fell to his knees and started scrubbing.
Now, staring at his blood staining the front of his gown and dripping between his knees, red mixing with the suds falling from his fingers. Blond hair wrong and too long, tangled and matted falling into his face.
He felt so very, very, lost.
Tears clouded his vision, quiet sobs shaking thin shoulders, as he squeezed the soggy sponge tightly. The blood before him seemed to twist and churn, and he felt nauseous as he remembered the reasons why. Like an old tape, the images played before him over and over.
Pain, humiliation, anger, terror, horror.
Red rimmed eyes dragged from the mess on the floor, his stricken gaze falling upon his friend for the first time over two years. Rossi’s face was pinched in pain, for him, and his wrinkles were deeper then he remembered. More grey streaked in his hair, and the stress of the world seemed to bare down upon his whole self.
Spencer let his tears fall for the first time in a long time, falling from his chin to drip hot and wet down his neck. Sobs wracked his now frail body, he dropped the bloody sponge as the backs of shaky hands rose to wipe at his eyes.
“I’ve forgotten myself, haven’t I?”
His blood smeared across his face as he cried, every emotion, every last but of pain and sadness and terror he’d experienced pouring from him in this instant. His sobs mounted, tears falling faster and harder, as he let himself feel.
He collapsed, reaching for Rossi, and the other swept him up into his arms. His friend held him tightly, uncaring of the blood soaking into his silk shirt.
Spencer drew in a ragged breath, tears and blood clogging his nose, as he screamed and screamed and screamed. Face buried in Rossi’s neck, the mans fingers cupping his head, comforting instead of painful.
Spencer could finally breathe again.