Disclaimer: You know the drill.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed and especially to those who didn't yell at me.
Now, I've got to get to work so have fun and leave me something to read when I get home.
His ears were ringing and he couldn't see anything, that was the first thing that occurred to him. Which was followed by the fact that he was on his side.
What had happened?
Why was it dark?
He took a breath and started to cough because of all of the dust only it didn't come out right. There was something over his mouth. He reached up and pulled at it, his right arm feeling wrong. He was wearing something thick, made for winter.
Rocky Mountain National Park.
His mind went back and he remembered. The case. The search. Buffy Summers. He'd felt an impact at his back and then there'd been an explosion. “Buffy!” he fumbled with his belt, there was a flashlight attached to it. “Buffy!” he had to find her. She'd been behind him.
He managed to turn the light on and began to try and find her, heart racing. “Buffy! Answer me!”
“Here, I'm here.” he heard her voice and pointed the flashlight beam in the general direction.
“Buffy, hold on! I'm coming.” there was dust everywhere, making it hard to see even where he directed the beam but he could just make out the shape of her. He moved over as fast as he could, stumbling over fallen rocks until he reached her.
“Are you alright?” she was coughing and on the ground, a wall of rocks all around her, and she was asking if he was alright.
“I'm fine.” he swept the beam of light over her and realized what she'd done. She'd shoved him out of the way of the explosion and caught the edge of it and the falling rocks herself. Her left leg just above the knee was bloody, a jagged cut running about five inches and steadily oozing blood. “Can you move your legs?” she didn't look like she was pinned down and there was no other significant trauma to her that he could see but it was possible there was internal damage. But his mind kept going back to Kate and New York.
“Don't move.” he pulled his gloves off and began to run his free hand over her, feeling for any other places where she might be bleeding.
“It's nothing. I'm ok.” she tried to push herself up but he pressed her down, trying to keep her still.
“You might have internal damage.” and if she did he might lose her before help could arrive.
“I'm fine.” she smacked his hand out of the way and pushed herself up and he fought the urge to make her stay. She wavered a bit managed to sit up. “Ouch.” she looked down at her bleeding leg and he suddenly felt incredulous. She'd just shoved him out of the way of an explosion and cave in and all she had to say was ouch?
A second beam of light suddenly inches from him brought him back to attention. “We need to stop the bleeding.”
She gave a nod. “In the packs there's medical kits.” he reached behind himself and ground his teeth. He'd left his pack strapped to the snowmobile. “Mine's outside.”
She gave him a look but didn't say anything. “Ahh!” the flashlight in her right hand wavered and she rocked forward in pain.
He looked sharply at her. “You're arm?”
“My shoulder, its dislocated.”
“I need the radio. We need to get help.” he reached into the pocket of the thick coat with one hand “Damn!”
He pulled out a broken mess of wires and plastic. “I must have landed on it.”
She made a face. “So no way to get help.” she set her flashlight on the ground and used her good arm to unlatch the chest strap of the pack. “Great, just great.”
The dust had settled finally and Buffy was sitting with her back to a wall where they'd retreated slightly deeper inside the mine. Inside Buffy's pack he'd managed to find a small lantern and with its faint light he was digging for the medical kit Buffy had said was inside. He could feel her eyes boring into the top of his head as he kept pulling things from the pack. He'd refused to let her try and walk to where they now were and she clearly resented the implication that she was weak that his carrying her had implied in her mind.
He finally found what he was looking for, the red cross on the kit a welcome thing. The wound hadn't severed any arteries thankfully but he knew that blood loss coupled with extreme cold was a very likely way for her to die before his team realized something was wrong and help arrived.
“We need to deal with my shoulder first.” he looked up at her and found not a woman in shock or afraid but one that was calmly assessing the situation.
“I need to stop the bleeding.” she'd saved his life less than half an hour before and he would not let her die.
She shook her head. “Do you know how to stitch up a wound?”
“No.” he admitted.
“I do.” she gestured to her dislocated shoulder “So shoulder first.”
He moved over, left the kit on the ground near the lantern. “What do you need to do?”
“Get a good grip here and here.” she gestured again. “Then pull, hard.”
He did what she said, and pulled as hard as he could. He expected her to scream, he'd seen grown men scream when in less pain than she had to be in but she didn't. The only sound she made was a grunt and then took a deep breath. “The suckage of that never stops.”
She took another deep breath “Ok, leg now.”
He shook his head and moved back down, opening the medical kit and going through it. He found what he needed to clean the wound and the surgical thread and needles. “Hand me the the needle and thread.” he glanced up at her and found her still calm but with a determined glint to her eyes. The implications of her words worked though his mind as he handed her the thread and started prepping everything needed.
“I need to get the fabric out of the way.” her reactions so far had been disturbingly calm and collected and her reaction to his words were no less so. She simply hummed her acknowledgment and kept her focus on the surgical needle and thread in her hands. With a shake of his head he went back to dealing with the situation, taking the pair of scissors from the kit and cutting the fabric around the wound enough so that he could clean it.
When he began to use the medicated wipes to clean the cut she didn't even react and a thought struck him. She was clearly used to not only life threatening situations but to pain on a level that most people rarely saw. “I need you to hold the light for me.” he looked up and found her holding her flashlight out to him with the arm he'd only just put back into socket.
“I can do this.” he wasn't completely sure he could, he'd never had any formal medical training, but the idea of her stitching closed a wound on her own body didn't sit well with him. If he was honest with himself nothing that had happened since he'd met Summers had sat well with him.
“I've had to stitch myself up more than once Agent Hotchner.”
“Hotch.” he put pressure on the wound.
“What?” he looked up at her and found her with a confused expression on her face for the first time despite everything.
Her eyebrows went up. “Ok.” she drew the word out. “Just hold the sides together while giving me about a half inch on either side, Hotch.”
He gave her a nod and did what she asked. The wound was deep, he could see muscle severed underneath the skin but the bleeding was surprisingly little considering the damage. Seconds turned into minutes as she began to stitch the wound closed, how neat and even the stitches were backing up her claim of having to deal with other wounds herself before.
But with every stitch and her complete lack of reaction to what had to be intense pain something reacted in himself. And he knew what that reaction was, respect.
“How long do you think we've been here?”
He glanced up from where Summers was finishing off the stitches to her face and found she was still focused on the wound. “Less than an hour.”
She hummed and pushed the final stitch through her own skin. “So between nine and ten in the morning and the worst of the storm is supposed to start at one this afternoon. Not enough time for them to realize something is wrong, come looking and dig us out. Which means we're here stuck here till the storm passes.” she tied off the end of the surgical thread. “Cut here.”
He did and she leaned back, tilting her head back against the wall and taking deep breaths. Her own way of dealing with the pain from the looks of things. He left her to it, not willing to force anything on a woman who had just sewn her own body back together. But they had to get out. He had no guarantee that she'd escaped without internal damage, especially considering what he'd already seen of her tolerance for pain. She needed medical help and he had to get to his team. He had no doubts that the UnSub had set the explosives and it pointed to an aspect of behavior they hadn't anticipated. And there was also the very real possibility that the other locations were rigged with explosives as well.
It only took him a few minutes to bandage the wound and by time he finished and looked up he realized that Summers' breathing had become the steady thing of sleep. “Buffy, Buffy I need you to wake up.” it was possible she had a concussion as well.
“I'm fine.” her tone suggested that she not only hadn't been asleep but that she was irritated at him.
“No, you're clearly not.” he reached for the pack next to him.
“And I clearly don't need to be saved.” her words stopped him for a moment as his mind analyzed all the implications of what she'd said. The statement didn't just reveal things about her own mental state but her opinion about his own. Then he remembered what Garcia had found on her, a degree in psychology.
And getting into an argument with her was pointless. “I need you to stay awake.”
“Trust me when I say I know the drill.” a dry, humorless tone. One he chose to ignore as he began to look through the pack once again until he found the survival blanket that was folded up into a small square.
She was now adding mines to the list of things she was not a fan of. Of course said list was not on the short side and hadn't been for about a decade but that was irrelevant. What was relevant was that she'd underestimated her prey, vastly. And that bothered her. As a matter of fact it pissed her off, a lot. To the point that she was actually considering handing the guy over to Giles and Faith and watching her father figure and adoptive sister so Ripper and former psychotic killer on the guy.
She ignored Hotch and his digging through the pack as she went over things. The listening devices, how he watched Dawn, how he picked out his victims, the IED, the torture, the choice of location-all of it.
“This guy is a genius.”
Hotchner turned his attention from unfolding the survival blanket in her direction. “What?”
“He's a genius.”
He moved to put the blanket on her. “We profiled that the UnSub has above average intelligence.”
She batted his hands and the blanket away, impatient. “No, I mean he's really a genius. Look around you. He planned this, it was a contingency. He knew that Dawn survived and that people would come looking.”
“Remove the first wave of responders. That's a terrorist tactic.”
“You don't watch much tv do you?”
“What?” he honestly looked taken aback and if the situation didn't suck beyond the telling of it she would have smiled.
“That bomb, it was on a trigger. Probably a trip wire.”
“Then it should have gone off immediately.” his gaze zeroed in and their eyes locked. “A timer. Trip the wire and the timer starts. The UnSub's intent wasn't to kill but to trap.”
“Because what's going to distract the authorities better than some of their own being trapped in a blizzard.” she finished for him. Hotchner stood and she could almost see him working through what she had already. And it wasn't pretty. There were only two real reasons for their big bad to seal them inside a mine. One was so that he could buy the time to get away and the other was to distract everyone enough to forget about Dawn so he could finish what he'd started.
“We have to find a way out of here, now.” he gave a nod and reached down for one of the flashlights.
“I'll search the rest of the mine for a way out.” he picked up the survival blanket and held it out to her. “Keep yourself warm, you've already lost more blood than I'm comfortable with in this cold.”
Part of her wanted to get up and go with him just to spite him, especially after he'd carried her before, but she kicked the desire to the curb. She needed him gone so she could do something else. Something that she didn't want him to know about.
Five minutes later she was sure he was gone, and she let out a sigh. Whether it was from relief, or the dozen other things going on in her head she wasn't sure and she certainly didn't have time to think about. So instead she leaned forward and grabbed the pack, pulling it back with her and beginning to dig through it till she found what she was looking for.
Even though she hadn't had much time working in the field with any of the teams in the last six years she still read the reports filed on a regular basis. Mostly because she'd been given an endless amount of grief by Willow, Giles and Dawn during the first two years about not being up to speed on things. She'd had good cause, she'd been dumped into a new country every few months and expected to set up fully working Council schools all on her own and there'd been some very difficult learning experiences involved, but then everyone had been pretty much dumped in the same boat that she'd been.
Thankfully that boat hadn't capsized and in a few months they'd be going from a ship to an armada but that was one issue she wasn't focused on for the moment. Instead she was looking for a crystal, a communications device that didn't rely on electricity and that could be used more than just any where in the world but in other dimensions. It was meant to be a back up, a safety precaution because in their line of work it was so incredibly easy to end up breaking Rule One. And aside from herself Rule One was a rule that you only broke once.
Finally she found the crystal and looked around herself. Blood and the right word was the only thing that could activate them, another precaution in case some outsider got their hands on one. And blood was something she had easy access to as her throbbing leg reminded her when she leaned over to grab one of the blood covered wipes Hotchner had used on her leg.
A muttered word and almost instantly the stone felt warm even wrapped in the wipe.
“Buffy?” oh she knew that tone, even in her head. Willow was worried. “What's happened? Is Dawnie alright? Because I just checked in on her and...”
“Wills.” one word, sharp, and it cut the babble off from her best friend instantly. She took a deep breath and finally allowed herself to wince at the pain. She had at least two cracked ribs, not that she planned on telling Hotchner that, he was paying too much attention to her already.
“Buffy, what's happened?” because Willow knew her, probably too well sometimes. Which was a reminder, Willow knew her and Hotchner didn't. Couldn't.
“I've only got a few minutes Will so I need you to listen.”
“Whatever you need.” Willow had gone into business mode, something they'd all developed unfortunately.
“The baddie, I think he's a genius, literally. The way he watched Dawn, the way he picked all his victims, no one with average intelligence would or could pull something like this off.” there was just no way. Plus he obviously knew his explosives, and the bomb he'd set wasn't something you could learn to make after a google search.
“Penelope and I have already been hunting tech types, Buffy. We haven't been able to match anyone in Estes Park.”
“Expand the search. And look for geniuses, literally. Someone who knows explosives too.”
The reaction was one she expected. “What! What happened?” it reverberated inside her head and made her wince again.
“Dawn got away. He knew she'd talk and that the authorities would start looking so he set an IED in one of the mines. Hotchner and I are alright. There was a trip wire and timer on it. We're trapped. But once Hotchner's team and the cops figure it out they're going to come looking for us and they can't.” she hadn't even finished in her head when she felt Willow's magic sweep over her, checking to see if she was alright. No surprise there.
“You're hurt. I can have a team to you in twenty minutes.”
“I'm fine and if you send a team in here Hotchner, his team and all the cops in the city are going to find out about supernatural.” another deep breath and a wince, there was no hiding from Willow, ever. “You have to keep the cops and the Fed's focused away from us and on finding this guy. I don't care what you have to do, lie.”
“He used you as a distraction. You think he's going to go after Dawn or run.”
A nod of the head that was pointless. “Do what you have to to find this guy Will. Just don't compromise us and keep the normals on track.”
She could practically feel how not happy Willow was but happy wasn't something any of them was going to get at the moment. And with any luck the bad guy was going to be unhappy for a very very long time after everything was over. “Fine. But the instant the blizzard is over I'm sending someone to get you.” the connection went dead and she slumped some. The crystals used the energy of who ever's blood had activated it and unfortunately her body was doing its slayer best to heal the only way it knew how, fast.
And it would heal. Five, maybe six hours on the outside and she'd be mostly healed. Or healed enough that she could start digging them out. There were just three problems with the situation. One was that Hotch couldn't be allowed to realize how fast she healed. Two was that she needed to find a way to keep him from seeing her dig them out and three was that the blizzard would be right on top of them by then.
She kept her eyes closed and began to think. All problems had viable answers. Maybe not perfect answers or ones that everyone liked, but answers. She just had to find one that didn't involve hitting Hotchner in the head or having to read him in on things he really didn't need to know about.
****Reviews are like a sugar high to me. They get the muse all hyped up and wanting to play.