Author’s Note: This was written for the ‘pic n’ mix’ challenge over on the LiveJournal group ‘spanking_world’. The three prompts I received to write the story were:
chocolate, tied, burning
This story is a fanfic for the show ‘Mindhunter’ on Netflix. It has specific spoilers for Season 1 Episode 10, and Season 2 Episode 1, which takes place in 1980. The italicized lines are taken directly from the show. This is how the episode would have gone down if I’d been writing it. Written September 2019.
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these characters, and I’m not making any money from this story.
Warning: Non-consensual disciplinary spanking of an adult. I don’t advocate this behavior in real life, only in fiction.




BURNING SHAME

Vacaville California – California Medical Facility

FBI Agent Holden Ford woke up groggy and looked at his surroundings. As he came to, he suddenly realized his wrists and ankles were in restraints. He was wearing a hospital gown, and as he pulled at the restraints that tied him to the bed, he felt that awful tightness in his chest again. He started struggling, as his heart raced and his breathing accelerated.

“It’s happening again,” a male voice said.

Holden turned to the sound, and saw two men in white uniforms coming towards him, followed by a man in a suit and white jacket. He struggled more as they surrounded his bed.

“It’s okay,” the one in the suit said, while the others held his arms down. “Just take a few deep breaths, you’re fine.”

It took massive effort, but eventually Holden got a lungful of air.

“Good,” the man in the suit said. “Now tell us you can stay calm, and we’ll untie you.”

Continuing to take deep breaths, Holden slowly stopped struggling, and nodded as memories came flooding back. He was in the hospital. The man in the suit was a doctor. He could see nurses and orderlies walking down the hall through the windows and doorway.

“I’m going to need to hear you say it, son,” the doctor said.

“I’ll stay calm,” Holden assured the older man.

The doctor nodded to the orderlies, and they undid Holden’s restraints. Once he was free, Holden scooted up on the bed, and said, “Thank you. What… what happened?” But even as he asked the question, his memory came back to him.

He’d had a horrible week. His girlfriend Debbie had broken up with him. His partner Bill and co-worker Wendy were pissed at him for running his mouth while drinking, which had resulted in a big newspaper article about the work they were doing for the FBI. He’d gotten an emergency call about one of their subjects, Edward Kemper. Apparently Kemper had put him down as his medical proxy, and last night the man had tried to kill himself. Moments later, Holden had found out that their unit was under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR. When he’d had his interview with the pricks from OPR, he’d taken full responsibility for everything, but they’d still been assholes to him, so he’d walked out. His partner of three years, Bill, apparently had ‘concerns’ about Holden’s professionalism, so he’d left the building. He’d gotten in his car, driven to the airport, and bought a ticket to see the one person who actually wanted to see him. That had turned out to be the biggest mistake of all.

Holden wasn’t sure how to describe his relationship with Edward Kemper. Ed called Holden a friend. Holden called Ed a subject. And yet, both could probably exchange those words, and find truth in them. Ed was probably fascinated with Holden as a subject of study, and Holden felt a connection with Kemper that he didn’t feel with any of the other felons he’d interviewed for work, because they were both obsessed with the psychology that drove people. And Holden found it difficult to imagine the mild-mannered, well-spoken, and thoughtful man that he’d interviewed more than once as the same man who’d cut off women’s heads and fucked their corpses. But that was why Ed was incarcerated.

Holden realized the doctor was talking to him, and focused.

“The test results should be back in a few hours. For now, we’re going to get you some dinner, and see if you’re able to keep some food down. Hopefully we’ll have you out of here in a couple of days.”

“A couple of days?” Holden shook his head. “I don’t have a couple of days. I need to leave today. What time is it? How long have I been out?”

“It’s four-fifteen,” the doctor said, looking at his watch. “You’ve been out for about nine hours.”

“Shit,” he muttered. If it was four-fifteen here in California, that meant it was seven-fifteen back home in Virginia, and he’d missed an entire day of work. “Can I use a phone? I need to make some calls.”

“Of course not, you…” The doctor scowled, and slowly shook his head. “Sorry, knee-jerk reaction. I’m used to treating criminals. I’ll get a phone brought to you Agent Ford.”

“Thank you.”

“But there’s no possibility of you being released today. We’re still trying to figure out what happened to make you collapse. I might be willing to release you tomorrow if you could have someone trustworthy pick you up.”

“I’ll have someone here tomorrow morning.”

“You also have to be able to keep food down,” the doctor warned. “And it depends on your bloodwork and test results.”

Holden nodded, and watched them all leave. He closed his eyes, wishing he could block out what had happened that morning, but the dark only brought back the memories of his meeting with Ed. Cringing at his own stupidity, their meeting flashed in front of his eyes.

# # #

“You came,” Ed said with a pleased smile.

“You made it hard not to,” Holden answered, and looking at the big man’s naked feet hanging off the bed in chains.

“I tried less dramatic methods. Did you get my cards?”

“Yes.”

“Maybe it’s not surprising you responded to showmanship,” Ed speculated, looking at his bandaged arm.

“Why did you want to see me Ed?” Holden asked, moving to stand by the end of the bed.

“I read an article about you. About us.”

Holden closed his eyes, and wished for the umpteenth time that he’d kept his mouth shut. “In the paper,” he muttered.

“You said we were friends,” Ed pointed out.

Holden crossed his arms defensively, and didn’t answer. Holden said whatever it took to get criminals to talk to him. He was quite a good liar. The problem was, that he genuinely did like Ed.

“Are we friends Holden?”

“Yes, in the context of our work together, sure.”

“Our work together,” Ed repeated. “That’s a nice way to put it. I’d categorize it the same way. And yet our work is unfinished.”

“Okay,” Holden said.

“As I indicated in my letters.”

“You have more insights.”

“Yes.”

Holden gestured for him to talk. That’s why he’d come, after all.

“Well I’m not going to drop them now like some show pony, especially when you’ve been talking about me in my absence.”

Holden sank into the chair beside the foot of the bed and muttered, “I’d been drinking.”

“What’s this behavioral profiling you’re touting?” Ed asked.

“Well it’s a way to determine the criminal psychology biased on crime scenes and personal characteristics.”

“I love that,” Ed said enthusiastically. “What’s my psychology?”

“I can’t really tell you that,” Holden hedged.

“Can’t? Or won’t?”

“It’s shop talk Ed.”

“My favorite,” the big man said.

“We’re still at a very early stage of the development.”

“Not so early you can’t babble about it to the press. You pretty much said I started you down this path, so I believe you owe me an explanation, Holden.”

Unable to deny that Holden said, “You’re what we call an organized killer.”

“Mm-hm.”

“Because of the extreme planning that went into your crimes. You practiced before selecting the women. You used your own vehicle to take the girls and dispose of the bodies. You followed your crimes in the media which shows evidence continued fantasy.”

“Mm-hm,” Ed agreed.

“That’s the gist,” Holden finished, sounding apologetic.

“You think you can boil me down to a single adjective?”

“Of course not. It’s merely a way to sort characteristics.”

“You’re an expert now.”

“No,” Holden disagreed.

“Sounds like it.”

“I am not an expert.”

“But you want to be, don’t you?”

After a pause, Holden admitted the truth. “Yes.”

“Human blood is very hot. When you see it on a cool morning, steam comes off it.” Ed started to take off the large bandage that covered his left forearm.

“What are you doing, Ed?” Holden asked, sitting up straighter in his chair, feeling uneasy.

“Someone left a ballpoint pen on my case file. I used the metal casing.” He showed Holden an eight inch stitched up cut. “Is this what you wanted to see?”

“Why would I want to see that?”

“Take a closer look.” Ed said as he scooted forward to the end of the bed, and put his chained feet on the floor. He was sitting about a foot and a half from Holden when he held out his arm for the agent to see.

Holden’s eyes darted to the orderly through the glass, but the other man was busy on the phone, and didn’t catch Holden’s eyes. The orderly stood, and walked over to help someone else.

“That’s okay, really,” Holden said, pushing his upper body away as he very suddenly realized that mild mannered Ed was much too close for comfort.

“You know, women were initially indifferent to me,” Ed said conversationally. “They weren’t interested in sharing. My whole life no one wanted to interact with me. Not even our cats when I was a kid.”

Ed looked towards the window also, and Holden knew he was screwed. Ed quickly stood and moved to the end of his chain, placing himself between Holden and the door.

Holden stood also and took a step back towards the front of the bed.

“The only way I could have those girls was to kill them. And it worked. They became my spirit wives. They’re still with me.”

Holden forced himself not to cringe or try to run, but he knew Ed could tell how nervous he was.

“Funny thing, in the ICU there’s no system to alert the guards. That seems short sighted seeing what kind of people come through here.” He took a step towards Holden. “I could kill you now. Quite easily. Do some interesting things before anyone showed up.”

Unable to form a response, Holden’s heart rate spiked, and he prayed that the orderly would come back.

“Then you’d be with me in spirit,” Ed explained. “I invited you many times to visit, but even with this…” he held up his damaged arm, “…I never thought you’d actually come. Why are you here Holden?

“I don’t know,” Holden answered.

Ed smiled. “Well now,” he put a hand on Holden’s shoulder, “ That is the truth.” He pulled Holden into a hug.

Holden’s fight or flight response peaked, and he couldn’t contain his fear any longer. He shoved away from the huge man, and raced towards the hospital room door. He ran through the door, stumbled a few feet down the hall, caught the railing, and then fell to the floor. Soon a nurse was next to him, asking if he was okay, but Holden was anything but okay. He couldn’t get enough air, the room was spinning, and his chest felt like it was going to explode.

# # #

A loud clatter jerked Holden back to the present. An orderly gestured to the phone he’d put on the hospital table beside the bed. “Here you go. I’ve got to take it back as soon as you’re done. The cord is lying across the hall. It’s a safety issue.”

Holden nodded. “Can you wait in the hall? I’ll wave at you when I’m done.”

“Sure.”

Once he was alone, Holden picked up the phone, swallowed his pride, and called his partner.

“Hello?”


“Bill?” Holden said, happy to hear the other man’s voice.


“Where the fuck have you been?”

Holden cringed. Bill sounded pissed, and rightfully so. “I…” Swallowing his pride was apparently easier said than done. Holden cleared his throat and said, “I’m in California.”

“What?!”

“Vacaville.”

“Tell me you didn’t.”

Holden could envision his partner’s glare.

“I did.”

“Jesus, Holden. Our unit is being investigated, and you decide to visit Kemper?!”

Holden’s ears were burning with shame as he explained the worst part. “I… I’m going to need you to come pick me up.”

“Pick you up? Why? What happened?”

“I… I think I might have had a heart attack. They’re running tests. If you don’t come pick me up, I’ll be stuck here at least another full day.”

“A heart attack?” Bill said, sounding much less pissed. “You’re twenty-nine.”

“That’s why they’re running so many tests. And I’ll need a change of clothes.”

Holden could hear Bill sigh.

“Okay, I’ll catch the next flight.”

“Thank you, Bill.”

Bill grunted, and hung up.

Holden looked at the receiver. Talking to Bill, even when he was clearly irritated, had made Holden feel so much calmer. Holden hung up, and looked towards the window. He waived at the orderly, who came and took the phone.

Five minutes later, a tray of food was set in front of Holden, and he quickly remembered that he was in a medical facility for prisoners. The meal consisted of a meat patty that he assumed was some sort of chopped and pressed beef, powdered mashed potatoes, canned green beans, and a spoon full of a brown substance he assumed was lumpy chocolate pudding. He forced half of the slop down, and then pushed the tray away, hoping that would satisfy the doctor.

# # #

Quantico Virginia – FBI Headquarters

FBI agent Bill Tench sat at his desk glaring at the phone. His idiot partner had completely gone off the rails this time. Visiting Kemper alone, without a word to anyone, had to be the stupidest idea Holden had ever had. If the kid had actually had a heart attack over it, it would serve him right. Bill leaned back in his chair, lit a cigarette, and took five minutes to calm down before heading out for the night. His wife was going to be pissed. It was Friday, and she’d wanted Saturday to be family day. He closed his eyes, and let the smoke sooth his nerves. He thought back to the meeting he’d had with his new boss, Assistant Director Ted Gunn, specifically about keeping Holden on track.

# # #

“You expressed concerns to OPR. Why?” Ted asked.

“Instincts can get you in trouble. When you’re going into an interview it’s about teamwork and being on the same page. It’s challenging when your partner goes his own way.” Bill explained.

“I want to establish the work you’re doing here as protocol.” Ted leaned forward to look Bill in the eyes. “Should I cut Agent Ford loose?”

Shocked, Bill shook his head, and leaned forward himself to express sincerity. “Sir, Holden’s practices may be questionable, but it was his idea to start interviewing violent felons. And when we started using what we’d learned anecdotally it was his…”

“Instinct?” Ted guessed, “which guided you.”

Bill nodded, pleased that his new boss clearly thought the same thing. “He gets things out of sociopaths that polite methods just don’t. It would be more than detrimental to release Agent Ford sir. It would diminish the promise of our work.”

Ted smiled. “That is precisely the way I see it. I want this unit to go from being a cold case call to the first call. Can this young man’s instincts be harnessed?”

“Harnessed, sir?” Bill asked.

“Do you know anything about race horses, Bill?”

“Not enough to win at the track,” he replied with a self-deprecating smile.

Smiling with him, Ted explained his reference. “Sometimes you have a yearling with natural speed, but he’s wild, ill tempered. The trainer has a choice. Geld him, he becomes more tractable. but it can take away his spark. The thing that makes him exceptional. So the trainer might put blinders on him. Now when the horse races, he thinks he’s alone. He does what he does best, but on the track. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Bill nodded, because he understood perfectly. “You don’t want to castrate Holden.”

Ted appeared pleased. “I need you to be Agent Ford’s blinders. Keep him from swinging too wide of the mark. Can I count on you for that?”

“Absolutely, sir,” Bill agreed.

# # #

Bill violently stubbed out his cigarette as he thought about how bad it would look to his new boss, when the very day Bill said he could keep Holden on track, the kid had gone off on another wild tangent. Standing, he gathered his things, and headed for home.

He packed a bag, say good night to his son, give his wife a kiss while she glared at him for leaving again, and headed to the airport to catch the red eye to California.

Twelve hours later, after four hours of waiting for the first flight, and enduring a five-and-a-half-hour flight with a three-hour layover, Bill still hadn’t calmed down. In fact, he was probably more annoyed now than he’d been before he left.

He showed his badge to the front desk at the California Medical Facility, and signed in. Soon he was being escorted to his partner’s hospital room.

Seeing Holden in the hospital bed pushed some of Bill’s anger to the background. His normally energetic and enthusiastic partner looked pale, and impossibly young, lying there in a hospital gown with his eyes closed. Worry pushed his anger even further away. Bill quietly walked to the chair next to the foot of the bed and sat down. He put the bag of clothes he’d brought on the floor, and wondered if he should let Holden sleep, or wake him up.

A doctor walked in, and came over to shake hands with Bill. “Agent…” he looked at his clipboard. “…Tench?”

“That’s right,” Bill said, letting go of the doctor’s hand.

“Bill?” Holden’s asked, voice rough with sleep. “What time is it?”

Bill looked at his watch and said, “About seven-thirty in the morning Virginia time, which makes it…”

“Four-thirty AM,” the doctor filled in for them.

“Sorry about that,” Bill said.

“It’s not a problem,” the doctor said. “I work the graveyard shift.”

Bill gestured towards Holden, but kept his eyes on the doctor. “What’s the verdict? Can I take him home?”

The doctor shook his head. “You’ll have to wait for a couple of hours. The day shift doctor gets here at six. He’ll discuss test results with you, and then let you know if he can be released into your care.”

Sighing, Bill nodded. “Alright. Thanks.”

“Can’t you just go over the results with us?” Holden asked, “I need to get home.”

The doctor looked at Holden and shook his head. “Sorry. You’re going to have to wait.”

Scowling, Holden said, “I could just walk out.”

In a patronizing tone, the doctor said, “Not out of this hospital, you can’t.”

Bill saw Holden open his mouth, and talked over him, “Thank you, doctor. We understand. It’s not a problem. We’ll wait to hear from the other doctor.”

“Bill,” Holden said, “we don’t…”

“No.” Bill cut his partner off, glaring at him, and holding a finger up in a gesture for him to shut up. Holden’s scowl was still in place, but he closed his mouth.

Bill nodded at the doctor, and the man walked out. Once Bill and Holden were alone in the room, Holden said, “We shouldn’t have to wait two hours.”

After taking a deep breath, Bill stood, walked to the side of Holden’s bed, and loomed over him with a seriously displeased expression.

Holden broke eye contact and muttered, “I’m sorry you had to come out here to get me. I didn’t have anyone else I could call.”

Bill had been ready to lay into the kid, but it was difficult not to be sympathetic with that confession. Still, he was supposed to be Holden’s blinders. He was supposed to keep the young man on the track, and clearly Holden had strayed far from it yesterday.

“I’m not thrilled about having to come get you, but I’m even less thrilled that you decided to come. Seriously, Holden, what the fuck were you thinking visiting Kemper?”

Bill could see Holden’s cheeks turning pink, and knew the kid was embarrassed. Good. He should be.

“I know it was stupid.”

“Yeah, it was. So why did you do it?”

“I don’t know.”

Bill shook his head. “That’s not good enough. I want an answer.”

Holden shrugged. “I don’t have one.”

Leaning down into the kid’s personal space, Bill said with forced calm, “Well, you’ve got two hours to come up with one, because I am not taking you home until you give me an explanation.”

Instead of being intimidated as Bill had intended, his partner appeared angry.

Holden glared and stated firmly, “You could wait for days, and I still wouldn’t have one. It was just a spur of the moment decision. Albeit a bad one.”

The anger Bill had been keeping a lid on for the past twenty-four hours came to the surface. He pointed a finger in Holden’s face and said, “That’s a lie. You know exactly why you came out here, you just don’t want to tell me, because you’re embarrassed about it. You came out here because Kemper is the only person in your life right now who’s not pissed about your recent behavior.”

Bill could see a flash of hurt in the kid’s eyes, and knew he’d hit a sore spot.

Holden rolled onto his side, away from Bill and muttered, “We’re done talking about this. I’m going to try and get two more hours of sleep.”

Seeing Holden turn his back on him like a sullen teen made Bill snap. He put a hand in the middle of Holden’s back, shoved him on to his stomach and held him there even though the young man automatically flailed. Bill raised his free hand and slapped the kid’s backside as hard as he could. The layers of blankets dulled the sound of the blow, but not the impact.

Holden gasped and yelled, “What the fuck, Bill?! Have you lost your mind?!”

“I covered for you all day today.” Bill said with calm anger, and smacked the kid again. “I wrecked my wife’s weekend plans.” He struck the covered butt a third time, and Holden grunted. “I’ve been up all night and spent eight hours traveling out here to pick you up.” Bill laid down another blow, and this one elicited a tiny whine from Holden. “All because you’re having a tantrum about the completely legitimate OPR review.” He hit the kid’s ass again, feeling a modicum of satisfaction about it when Holden hissed in pain. “And when I ask for an honest explanation, you turn your back on me.” He slapped his partner’s backside one last time for a total of six, and then let him go.

Holden immediately flipped over onto his back, looking at Bill with wide eyes full of shock and distrust.

Bill had thought his partner was embarrassed before, but now the kid’s entire face and neck were burning with shame. Bill pointed a finger at him again and said, “Kemper is not your friend Holden, I am. After everything we’ve been through, and every time I’ve gone to bat for you with our superiors, I deserve better than you turning your back on me.”

“I’m sorry,” Holden said softly, clearly meaning it.

Bill let his hand drop and said more calmly, “When we disagree about something, you need to man up and face me like a rational adult, instead of running away like a pissed off teenager.”

Holden nodded, and lowered his eyes to the bedspread.

Sighing, Bill said, “I’m sorry if my interview with OPR upset you, but coming here was not the way to deal with it. You should have just talked to me.”

Holden nodded again.

Walking back to his chair, Bill sank into it and said, “You’ve got two hours to come up with an explanation for your decision to come out here. Use it wisely.”

Bill light a cigarette to cover the awkward silence.

“I don’t need two hours,” Holden said softly, still keeping his eyes on the hospital blankets. “You’re right. I was angry about the OPR investigation. I was angry with you for saying you had concerns. And there was no one at home to talk to, because… well Debbie and I broke up.”

“I’m sorry,” Bill said, reaching out and squeezing his partner’s foot over the covers, before letting go.

Holden made eye contact again and shrugged. “Being an FBI Agent doesn’t leave a lot of time for working on a relationship.”

“That’s true, it doesn’t,” Bill answered, thinking about his wife, and how much she’d put up with over the years.

“And you’re right. I hate that you’re right, but you are. I did come see Ed, because I knew he be happy to see me, and I wanted a friend to talk to who wouldn’t be angry with me.” Holden shook his head and muttered, “It was a huge mistake. He…”

Frowning with concern, Bill scooted forward in his chair. “He what?”

“His legs were chained, but his hands were free, and he… got between me and the door. Said he could kill me before anyone showed up.”

“Jesus,” Bill muttered.

Holden looked up. “It was like I could see the real Ed for the first time in that moment. I mean I’ve always known he was a killer, but he didn’t feel like a killer until that instant.”

“Did he hurt you?” Bill asked.

Holden shook his head. “He hugged me.”

“He what?” Bill asked, trying to wrap his head around that.

Glaring at the bed, Holden said, “He pulled me into a hug, and I panicked. Shoved away from him, ran for the door, and down the hall. That’s when it happened.” He put a hand on his chest and looked back at Bill. “My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest, and I couldn’t breathe. The room started to spin and I collapsed.”

After a few moments of silence, Bill said, “Okay. We’ll see what the doctor has to say when he gets here. Until then, why don’t you try to get some sleep.”

Holden nodded and curled onto his side this time, facing Bill. After another small pause, Holden said quietly, “You hit me.”

The sullen and accusatory tone made Bill feel guilty, but he refused to apologize. He’d been tasked with keeping Holden on track, and if the kid was worried that Bill might hit him again, that could be just the thing to curtail his wild behavior. “I did.” He took a drag from his cigarette. “Are you gonna report me? Or are you gonna learn from it?”

Scowling, Holden focused on the floor between them, and then shut his eyes tight.

When there was no answer by the time Bill finished his cigarette, he assumed the kid had fallen asleep.

“I’m not going to report you,” Holden said grudgingly, with his eyes still closed.

“Sounds like the right call to me.”

# # #

Holden woke up and saw the day shift doctor standing beside his bed. “Hi doctor,” he said, pushing himself into a sitting position, and trying to cover up a wince as his weight settled on his ass. He could feel his head, neck, and chest turning red with shame when he remembered what had happened right before he’d fallen asleep. His partner of three years had spanked him. Thankfully neither one of them had used that particular word for what had transpired, but they both knew that’s what it had been. And for the life of him, Holden couldn’t even hate Bill for it, because deep down he knew he deserved it.

“How are you feeling this morning?” The doctor asked.

“As well as can be expected when I’m being held prisoner,” Holden answered.

“Holden,” Bill gave an exasperated sigh.

“Sorry. Can we go over my results?”

The doctor nodded, and looked at his charts. “You didn’t have a heart attack. In fact, all of your tests came back with flying colors. You’re perfectly healthy.”

Holden shook his head. “That can’t be.”

“What you had, was a panic attack. It’s a miss-cued fight or flight mechanism. You think you’re having a heart attack, but the body is just sending oxygen to the organs that need it for defense. Part of our lizard brain evolution.”

“That’s about right,” Bill muttered, glaring at Holden.

“I didn’t have a heart attack?” Holden asked.

“No,” the doctor assured him. “But I’m sure it felt like it. The panic was protracted. It was such a bad case that we finally had to sedate you. You’ll want to watch for panic disorder, and repeat episodes.”

“It could happen again?” Holden asked with despair.

“It could. My advice is to manage your stress. Try not to do whatever you were doing the first time it happened. If it reoccurs, benzodiazepine works. Here’s a prescription with one refill.”

“Valium?” Bill asked, clearly disapproving.

“Good luck,” the doctor said. “You’re free to go.”

Holden stared at the prescription in his hand and muttered with disbelief, “Panic attack.” It had been so overwhelming and painful, it didn’t seem possible that it had all been caused by his own mind. He’d thought he was dying in the moment.

“You can still dress yourself, can’t you?” Bill asked sarcastically, putting the bag beside Holden and walking into the hall.

Holden wasn’t sure why Bill was suddenly pissed again, but it certainly felt undeserved this time. It wasn’t his fault his body had reacted badly to all the stress he’d been under. He got dressed, and tried to ignore the fact that his ass still hurt.

Once he was dressed and signed out, he fell in step beside Bill. But as they walked down the hall, Holden could feel his heart starting to pound, and he had to grab the railing and take a few deep breaths.

Bill sopped, and looked back. “What?”

Holden couldn’t answer.

Bill stepped closer. “What?”

When Holden shook his head, Bill grabbed his upper arm, and gave him a little shake. “Get it together, before I smack you again,” Bill said through gritted teeth.

That shocked Holden out of the beginning stages of his panic. Glaring at his partner he said, “You wouldn’t.”

“I would.” Bill shook his arm once again, before letting go. “So come on.”

White hot anger shot through Holden, but the anger made it easier for him to let go of the rail and follow his partner out the door.

They got into Bill’s rental car, and Bill drove them towards the airport. Once they were on the road, Bill said, “I’m assuming that you want to keep doing this, Holden. That it’s not too stressful for you.”

“Yes.” There was nothing Holden wanted more. The work he was doing was his passion. Even if he got fired, he’d continue to try to interview criminals and create profiles. It wasn’t just a job for him.

“Then here’s what’s going to happen,” Bill said. “We’re going to fly home, and you’re going to take the weekend to get your shit together. Then on Monday morning you’re going to present yourself as able, responsible, and fucking professional. And no one need ever know about this episode. But from now on, it’s my rules. If I tell you to shut your mouth, you shut your mouth.”

Holden closed his eyes and sighed. Bill wasn’t exactly wrong. He did need to get his shit together, and present himself as a professional and responsible adult. Someone who didn’t have panic attacks, or fly off to have unsanctioned visits with felons. But it still irked him that Bill was talking to him as if he were nine instead of twenty-nine.

“Nod your head if you understand,” Bill said.

Holden nodded. “I understand.”

After several moments of silence, Bill sighed and said, “We have a new boss.”

“What?” Holden asked, whipping his head around to stare at Bill.

“Shepard is retiring. His replacement is Assistant Director Ted Gunn. I met with him yesterday. He asked for you. Don’t worry I covered.”

“I appreciate that,” Holden said with sincerity.

“You’ll meet him first thing Monday morning.”

“Okay.”

Bill sighed again as if he didn’t exactly want to say the next part. “He wants to make the work we’re doing protocol.”

Sitting up straight, Holden said, “What?”

“He’s expanding the unit. We’re tripling in size.”

“That’s fantastic.” Holden said enthusiastically. “We could do so many more interviews if we had help. And if the new A.D. is in our corner, I can…”

Bill cut him off. “You can keep your head down and follow my lead so that the A.D. stays in our corner. If you think this is an excuse for you to pull even more shit, you’re wrong. You need to get through a month or two without pissing anyone off. Because I swear to God, Holden, if you go off the rails again like you did yesterday I’m going to beat your ass again.”

Holden gasped at the threat, and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. The only response that came to mind was ‘fuck you’, but he knew that wouldn’t go over well. Instead of blurting out the words that could very well result in the car being pulled over, he kept his mouth shut, crossed his arms, and glared out the window.

When Bill parked at the airport, Holden immediately opened the car door, wanting to get away from the older man, but Bill put a hand on his arm to keep him there. “Look Holden, I know that you’re passionate about this job, and I don’t want to take that away. Not at all. You’re doing amazing work, and everyone wants you to continue doing it. I just want you to temper your passion with a little bit of common sense, okay? And if me being the bad guy helps you take a pause before jumping in with both feet, then that’s a good thing. That’s what partners are for.”

Holden scowled, but nodded. “I get it. You don’t want to be the bad guy, but you’re going to fill that role if I step out of line. I don’t like it, but I get it.”

Bill raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Good. I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

Holden didn’t know if he’d call it ‘the same page’, but they understood each other.

They walked into the airport side by side, and were lucky enough to get a direct flight home, which would get them home on Saturday evening, giving them both a day to recuperate before going back to work on Monday.

The End

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