His eyes were closed, but he couldn’t find it in himself to fall asleep. The seat on the plane is more comfortable than his own bed. Maybe he should look into buying a new mattress. Every time he thought he was falling asleep, something would stop him. His stomach would roll or his head would trob and he’d be awake again, floating in a haze as the jet hummed through the sky. If he was being honest, his whole head was hazy right now. Everything felt wrong and off. He didn’t like that feeling. He wanted to throw up, but he couldn’t just throw up on the plane in front of the team. Although, he wasn’t sick, not really. He was just... really tired. So he kept his mouth and eyes shut and tried not to focus on the pain. He thought if he moved or made any notion that he wasn’t feeling great, the team would be on him in a second, making sure that their youngest member wasn’t in any pain. He didn’t hate them for that, in fact he found it almost endearing, but it made him feel a bit awkward. They already babied him enough. Besides, there wasn’t really anything for him to throw up anyway. He couldn’t remember why. He just knew he hadn’t eaten anything substantial in awhile. He could if he tried; if he allowed himself to put a little more effort into thinking. But he didn’t feel like it. For one of those rare moments in his life, he didn’t want to think at all. He just wanted to rest.
Everyone was being real quiet, walking on eggshells around him. Sure, the plane rides back were always quiet, as everyone usually relaxed and recuperated, but tonight, no one was relaxing but himself. Everyone spoke in hushed voices, and even in his sleepy state, he could tell that they were worried about him. He could hear someone’s footsteps--Gideon’s, by the sound of them, or maybe Hotch-- pacing back and forth in front of him.
“Jason,” Hotch whispers, calling Gideon by his first name. Spencer knew that was bad. They only ever got called by their first names when something bad happened. “He’s not good.”
“I know,” Gideon responded. “I know that.”
“Did the medics say anything?”
Gideon sighed. Spencer could hear him rub his hands together. “Nasty concussion. Exhaustion. His foot’s banged up. He was in shock when they looked him over. They didn’t say anything past that.”
“He might still be in shock. There’s probably more. More we didn’t see.” The father in Hotch was peaking through. “I...I don’t know. I can just tell.”
“You know he’s probably listening,” Gideon said. “But I think you’re right.”
Spencer kept still. He was listening, but talk took too much out of him. He stayed quiet.
“I don’t want him going home right away,” Hotch continued, ever the team protector. “Maybe he should be checked into a hospital. An urgent care. Something.”
“I’ll take him.” That’s a new voice. Morgan’s. “I’ll take him to the hospital a few blocks up from my house and then we’ll go from there. He can stay with me.”
That got Reid’s attention. He slowly opened his eyes, which took a surprising amount of willpower, and sat up. “I’m fine.”
The three older men looked down at him, worry present in their eyes. Morgan moved to sit next to him slowly, as if approaching a wounded animal. Or a traumatized victim, for that matter. But Reid was no victim, was he? “Sure you are, pretty boy, sure you are.”
Reid sighed. “Stop talking to me like I’m a little kid. I’m fine.”
“What happened tonight, Reid?” Gideon asked. He wasn’t asking like he was looking for details; he was asking because he knew Reid was having trouble recalling.
Tobias flashed across his mind. Well, Tobias and his father and Rapheal. Of course he knew what happened tonight. He was never going to be able to forget, in fact. The smell of burning fish was still fresh in his nose. That’s what was making him feel so nauseous. But couldn’t they have let him be in his blissful ignorance? Alone? He looked back up at Gideon, who knew that Reid remembered. They shared a secret conversation. They did this often. Gideon was the only one who could figure out his mind, and Reid was the only one Gideon confided in. He could practically see the sentence I’m worried about you flashing across Gideon’s forehead like a neon sign. He attempted to say I’ll be okay back to him, but he couldn’t help but feel like he said I don’t know what to do instead.
“I thought we didn’t profile each other?” Spencer responded after a moment, putting his head in his hand. It ached, along with the rest of his body.
“No offence, Reid, but you look horrible,” Hotch told him, not unkindly. “And you should take a couple days off. Let your head heal, at least.”
“But why do I have to stay with Morgan?” he practically whined.
“Because I don’t have any room,” Gideon admitted, looking softly at Reid.
“And Jack’s in his fussy stage. I don’t suppose a two-year-old throwing a tantrum every couple hours is going to make you feel much better,” Hotch said, flashing a rare, tight, smile.
“So I guess you’re stuck with me, kid,” Morgan teased, gently ruffling Reid’s greasy hair. “And you could use a shower.”
“I don’t know why I need a baby-sitter at all,” Reid pouted. He wished they would leave him alone. He wanted to go back to his half conscious state, and deal with what he had to deal with by himself.
(Please. I don't want it. I don't want it. Please.)
The holes in his arm were stinging slightly. Pulling his sleeves down would be too obvious, so he wrapped his arms around his body, as if he were cold. Truth is, he was. Maybe he was coming down with something.
“I don’t need a hospital. I just want to sleep,” he admitted, letting himself look young for a brief moment. “So can we compromise?”
The men looked between each other, before Hotch nodded. “Fine. Morgan, take him home with you. But I don’t want to see you at work until at least Monday, if not a couple days after.”
“Only if you stop acting like I’m a victim,” Reid responded, before he could stop himself. They all went a bit stiff, and for a moment, he had no idea why.
But as they dissipated, and he returned to his hazy conscious state, he realized that to them, he was a victim.
Morgan’s house was neat and organized. The perfect bachelor pad. Spencer let Morgan be used as a crutch, as his half-hobbled foot was crying out in pain with every step. They somehow made it to the guest bedroom with little trouble, aside from the protests from Reid. He never liked being coddled. He prefered to do things on his own, even if that meant taking care of himself. No one ever knew when he was sick. He just didn’t think that it was a big deal. Morgan pointed him towards the bathroom, thankfully not making any cracks about needing his help or helping him change. Maybe he could tell he was embarrassed enough. He pulled out the spare shirt and pants out of his go bag, wishing he had something more pajama-like, but grateful for the clean clothes. Looking at his body in the mirror was no easy feat. The dim light from the lamp above showed the bruises that littered his torso and arms, and he could feel a large one on his back from when he had the seizure. He was pale and built like a stick. In every letter his mother wrote back, she always asked if he was eating enough. In all fairness, he didn’t know what the threshold of eating enough was. He had been raising himself since his father left.
He didn’t bother looking at his face. He would have to lift his head towards the light to do that, and his eyes hurt enough already. He put on the clean clothes loosely, forgoing his usual academia look for a more loose appearance.
He limped out of the bathroom, expecting to find Morgan already asleep. But instead, he saw him standing next to the bed, looking amused as Spencer stepped into the room. “You’re looking a bit rough there, kid.”
Spencer simply shrugged. “I’m too tired to care.”
Morgan showed him a look before returning to the light amusement. “Right. Bedtime for Reidey.”
“Gideon would let me sleep,” Reid tried as Morgan walked over to him, slinging his arm across his shoulder. “Instead of whatever it is you’re doing.”
“I thought people weren’t allowed to sleep with concussions?”
“Actually, if the person is able to keep a conversation and show no big symptoms, then sleeping actually helps the brain recover,” Spencer rattled off.
He expected him to laugh or tease him, but Morgan kept giving him this look, worried and concerned, as he set him down on the bed.
“If it were up to me,” he said, “You’d be in a hospital and not bleeding on my spare bed.”
“I’m not bleeding,” Reid protested. “And if it were up to me, I’d be in my own apartment.”
“You are bleeding, genius.” Morgan pressed a towel up against Reid’s head, and when he pulled it back, it was soaked in blood.
“Oh,” he responded. “I should fix that.”
Morgan gently pushed him back down back down on the bed as he tried to get up. “Would you knock it off for a minute before you keel over? You do this again, and we're going to the hospital.” His voice was strict, as if he was talking to a little kid who was striking crayons up his nose or drawing on the walls.
“Okay…” Spencer relented, settling down on the bed. “But if I wake up with marker on my face, I will be really angry.”
Morgan raised his eyebrows. “Oh, and we wouldn’t want that now would we? Make Spencer Reid angry?”
He almost argued back, but that bed was comfortable, and before he knew it, he was out cold.
Derek sighed, as the kid had tuckered himself out just by talking.
He reached over with the towel and cleaned the rest of the blood from the kid’s forehead. Really, he didn’t want to have to wash blood off the pillows in the morning, but it was also hard to look at the kid when all he could see was every punch and kick the kid endured.
“Only you could get yourself in a situation like this,” he whispered, smirking. “You would think with that big brain of yours it wouldn’t be like that.”
He thought about pulling the blanket over him, but something told him that that might be a little too personal for the both of them. Instead, he simply turned off the light, and hoped that he could prod some information out of the kid tomorrow.
He was back in that cemetery. Stuck in his own grave. Tobias--or his father, maybe--must have finally dug it for him because he could have sworn that he didn’t do it. He could have sworn he got away.
It’s dark and cold. His body hurts. Dark brown dirt is dropped on his head every couple of seconds. Some figure stands over the hole, staring down at him with a fury that he’s only seen on the most deranged of serial killers. The stare makes him want to sink into the dirt. God, he was tired.
“Tobias!” He yells up at the body, his voice cracking in such a way that he suddenly wasn’t 25.
He never knew how to deal with these types of things. Looking at dead bodies was one thing; becoming one was another.
“Tobias is gone. And now it’s time you pay for your sins.” It was Charles talking to him now.
“But I haven’t done anything!” Spencer yelps. “I’m not a sinner!”
But then he remembers his mother. Does leaving her count as a sin? Putting her in a mental hospital? Are those sins? They must be to Charles, because he simply shakes his head with disappointment.
The dirt just keeps on coming down on him until he thinks he might drown.
“That’s what they all say! And they all end up the same!” Tobias spit on him. “They all end up here. In the dirt.”
“No, no, they don’t!” He tried, reaching up to the man. “Please, just let me go.”
“I’m cleaning up the world’s vermin. And that means you.”
He shudders a sob as the dirt comes crashing down on him. “Please!”
He starts shouting for anyone he thinks would hear him. He yells for the team, for his mother, for Tobias, until there’s no sound escaping from him. The dirt fills his mouth, fills every pore and piece of his body.
He’s tired. He’s so tired.
Derek was sleeping peacefully, one of those rare sleeps when he’s so tired that he doesn’t even dream.
But Reid must be different, because suddenly there’s yelling coming from the bedroom down the hall and Morgan is up and running before he’s even awake. His heart hammered in his chest, wondering if he should grab some sort of weapon for protection.
But as he reaches the guest bedroom, there’s no one in there but Reid.
“Please, stop! I’m not a sinner! I’m not a sinner!” He was yelling, almost sobbing. His arms were curled into him as he hugged himself and shook, gasping into the comforter.
Morgan hopped up on the bed, gently trying to wake the kid up before his neighbors called the cops. “Kid. Reid! Wake up, kid, c’mon!”
Reid didn’t wake up though. He grabbed at Morgan, but not because he recognized him. It was more like he was fighting him, desperately grabbing and struggling. Like he was trying to get out of something.
Morgan pulled the kid into his arms. He could be embarrassed about it later, they both could, but for now his main concern was taking care of him, and making sure he doesn’t wreck himself further. He placed his chin on top of his head, trying desperately to wake him up. “Spencer!”
That got his attention, or at least snapped him out of whatever state he was in. His eyes opened quickly, as he heaved with sobs. He looked up Morgan, who turned him around to face him, gripping his shoulders tightly. “Reid, look at me. Look at me!”
Reid did look up, his face blotchy and red. There was dark bruise forming on his cheekbone, and new blood dripped from his forehead. When Derek went to wipe it away, he felt the heat radiating off of him in waves.
“M-Morgan?” He asked, reaching out for him.
Morgan held in his worry for Reid’s sake. “Yeah, kid, it’s me.”
“He was gonna bury me alive,” Reid whispered, folding back in on himself. “If you guys hadn’t showed up--he would have buried me.”
“No one’s gonna hurt you now, alright? No one.” Morgan lifted Reid’s face up towards him. “I need you to tell me what happened to you tonight, okay?”
Reid shook his head. “No. No.”
“I know you don’t want to tell me but you have to, Reid. I need to know.” He lifted him up on the pillows. “Use that big ole brain of yours.”
Reid kept his fetal position. “I don’t want to think about it. You saw the videos.”
“That’s only part of the story,” Derek tempted. “Work with me, please.”
Reid swallowed, not meeting Morgan’s eyes. “Just more beating. Taunting. That’s it.”
Morgan’s lips made a thin line. “You’re not telling me the truth.”
Reid didn’t respond, but he looked worse and worse by the second. “Morgan.”
“What is it?”
“...I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Morgan swung his arm around as fast as he could to the wastepaper basket next to the bed and stuck it underneath Reid’s head. He was quick enough, as it seemed, because Reid retched into it in a matter of seconds. Morgan winced--not just because it was gross, but more because the poor kid looked more rough than he ever had. The only time that could compare was once during his first year, not too long ago. The team had gone out for drinks, and he guessed no one had taken it into consideration that the kid didn’t really have a whole lot of experience with that kind of scene. He ended up hacking out most of his four or five beers in the alley behind the bar, cursing and moaning while Morgan tried not to tease him. Although, they laughed it off the next morning when Reid arrived with the worst hangover he’d ever seen. Something told him they wouldn’t be laughing this off in the morning.
He removed the basket from Reid’s arms when he seemed done. “Alright, sicko, now tell me--”
Reid was out cold by the time Morgan spoke again.
“Kid?” Morgan nudged him with his hand. “Spencer?”
All that he heard was the wheezing of his breathing. Derek placed his hand on Reid’s forehead. He wouldn’t even consider him warm. He was red hot. Clammy and pale. Whether it was from shock or exhaustion, or maybe something worse, he didn’t know. What he did know was that he should be in a hospital bed, and not here. Morgan carefully placed Reid into a more comfortable position, uncurling his arms and placing them at his side.
“String bean arms,” he mumbled. “You need some food in you, kid.”
Morgan stood up and was about to turn to grab his phone, but something caught his eye. On the kid’s right arm, he could see a couple of small dark dots littering the crease in his arm. He swiftly turned the lights on, picking up the kid’s arm and tracing his finger over what he now saw as injections. Injections of something . Worry flooded through him as he jogged to his room. He should call someone. Or maybe call an ambulance. Even if whatever was in him wasn’t hurting him at the moment, he was sick. Really sick.
He dialed for Hotch, because Hotch always knew what to do. He felt a twinge of guilt, because he knew the man was probably sleeping and he didn’t want to wake him, but Gideon was always hard to reach and the women would be just as exhausted.
It rang three times before a voice spoke. “Hotch.”
“It’s Reid," Morgan gulped. "He’s not good.”
“I can be there in ten minutes.”
He was back in that hazy state. He felt more sick than when he first fell asleep. He had only felt this sick once or twice. One time when he was twelve, he had the flu. His mother was having an episode, so he was left to his own devices for a while. Eventually when he mother came back to him, she sat with him and read to him quietly, stroking his head and kissing his forehead until he felt better.
He wished desperately for someone to do that now.
He was only half awake, and for a minute he forgot where he was. He could hear low voices talking, but he was too tired to hear what they were saying in its entirety.
“...injections in his arm…”
“...the team can meet us at the hospital...even if he protests…”
“I’ll get the car...no use of an ambulance....”
He tuned them back out after a few more minutes. It just took too much out of him to keep listening.
Someone sat on the edge of the bed next to him. He cracked one eye open to see Hotch staring at him, looking both sad and impatient at the same time. There was something else there too, but he couldn’t read it. He usually could, that was his job, right? But tonight he couldn’t. Tonight, his brain wasn’t working right at all.
“...Hotch?” He croaked, his voice achy and tired. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he was quick to say. “Everything’s going to be fine.”
“Then why are you here?” He asked, wincing as his head throbbed.
Hotch definitely noticed. “You need a hospital, Reid.”
Reid sighed and sank into the pillows. “What’s wrong with me?”
“You’re sick,” Hotch explained gently. “And no doubt it’s got something to do with what happened tonight.”
Spencer didn’t protest. Didn’t have the energy. “Okay. Alright.”
Hotch looked a bit relieved. “Can you walk?”
Reid thought about it for a minute. “If you help me, maybe.”
Hotch nodded. He helped Reid sit up slowly, which made the whole world tilt for a moment. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Reid answered, collecting himself so he didn’t vomit again. “Hey, Hotch?”
Hotch threw his arm over his shoulder, and Reid accidentally put most of his weight on Hotch. “What is it?”
“I can’t get him out of my head,” Reid rambled. “He keeps talking to me.”
“Hankel?” Reid nodded. “You know he’s not here, Reid. You shot him, remember?”
“Uh-huh,” Reid recalled, Tobias’s body flashing across his mind. “But I can still hear him.”
“Alright,” Hotch assured him as they walked out of Morgan’s front door. “We can fix that, okay?”
Reid didn’t say anything back. His body was starting to feel heavier, although Hotch didn’t seem bothered by it at all. As Morgan and Hotch helped him into the back seat, he was dumbly reminded how he doesn’t like to be babied. He let it slide for tonight. He didn’t feel like arguing.
He leaned his head on the cool window, which cooled his aching forehead slightly. It was long before he started to fall asleep again. He just hoped that this time, it would be void of any nightmares.
Morgan looked over his shoulder. “He’s out again.”
“Probably for the best,” Hotch concluded, eyes on the road. “Be easier for us to get him in there.”
“I gotta be honest, Hotch. I’ve seen a lot of bad before,” Morgan began, running a hand over his head. “But this feels different.”
“He’s one of our own,” Hotch agreed, looking at the sleeping kid through the mirror.
Morgan nodded. “Like losing a family member.” His voice was solemn and sad. Every time he looked at the kid, all he could see was the look on his face when they found him. Lost. In pain. Tortured.
“Except we didn’t lose him, Morgan,” Hotch assured him, sensing this. “We found him. We got him out.”
“Yeah, all thanks to himself,” Morgan huffed a laugh. “We probably wouldn’t have, you know?”
Hotch sighed. “Yeah. I know.”
The sit in a comfortable silence, with no sound part the labored breathing of their youngest team member. Every now and then he murmurs something, something that sounds like “Mom,” but besides the occasional look between the two older agents, they don’t say anything.
When they pull up to the hospital, Morgan can see the others waiting for them in the parking lot. JJ is the first one at the car door, catching Spencer as he slumps over when the door opens. She helps them stand him up right, because while in actuality, anyone could carry Reid, considering he was a beanpole, Morgan can tell he’s already been embarrassed enough. So they spare him what’s left of his dignity by each Hotch and Morgan taking an arm and dragging him through the hospital doors. Gideon, Prentiss, and JJ followed suit behind, giving careful looks to the people inside, as if to tell them to get out of the way. The ladies both had a fierce protective look on their faces, and if Morgan wasn’t Morgan, he’d stay far far away from that look.
Nurses start to crowd them as soon as they enter, meaning that someone must have called to stay they were coming, but they mustn't have given much information, as they’re asking questions left and right. Gideon answers them all with careful confidence. His specialty. Suddenly, he’s being rushed off down the hallway, and the silence of defining as the team looks at each other, everyone terrified. It takes a lot to get a group like that shaken.
Derek can tell that everyone feels the same odd chill in their bones.
The next time Reid woke up, he didn’t feel as bad as he did the last time. Sure, the lights still hurt and there’s a dull ache covering his body, but all in all, he feels alright. Nothing was as sluggish anymore and not so hazy. Just a light sleepiness. When he looks around, he realizes he’s in a hospital bed, and there’s an IV drip going into him.
(Please. I don't want it. I don't want it. Please.)
He shut his eyes sharply at the memory, but it’s gone quicker than it came. His head itched, but when he went to scratch it, he was stopped but a thick bandage wrapped around his forehead. For the first time in the last few hours, he has a very clear, consice thought:
And he must say that out loud, because he can hear a chuckle come from the armchair beside his bed.
“That’s an adult only word, pretty boy,” Morgan chides. “I don’t want to hear that again.”
“I am an adult,” Spencer argued, smirking.
They shared quiet smiles until Derek sighed. “You feeling alright?”
“Yeah, better. What...what did they give me?”
Morgan gave him a look regarding his hesitant voice. “Just some fluids. And some stitches in your thick skull.”
“It’s itchy.” Reid pointed to it.
Morgan simply shrugged. “That’s just how it goes. So you feel okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”
“Good.” Morgan stood up and took a swig of his coffee, and then tossed it in the trash. “So now I can lay into you for lying to me.”
Reid blushed with confusion. “If I’m being honest with you, Morgan...I don’t remember much of anything I said to you.” Really, his last clear memory was standing in the bathroom, looking at his reflection. Everything after that was blurry, a mess of aches and pains.
“You don’t remember coming here?”
“Nope. Nothing. Very blurry.”
Morgan seemed to relent a little. “Alright. Fair. You were a mess.”
“Was I?” Reid furrowed his eyebrows.
Morgan barked a laugh. “You bled all over my pillows. You threw up in my wastepaper basket, man.”
Reid made a face. “Gross.”
“It was very gross,” he agreed. “Don’t you remember Hotch coming? He put your shoes on for you.”
“He put my shoes on for me?” Spencer echoed.
“Yeah, because you couldn’t even stand without passing out," Morgan explained. "You were telling him that Hankel was talking to you or something."
"I don't remember that, either," Reid said, trying to find the memory, as if it was filed away.
Morgan gave him a sympathetic look. "Yeah. We put you in the car and met everyone here.”
Morgan nodded. “Besides Garcia. She’s on her way now.”
“You guys didn’t have to--”
“Nope. None of that. I know you’ve got this whole “tis merely a flesh wound” thing happening in that head of yours, but you're gonna have to drop it.” He wasn’t unkind, but he said it in a way that Reid knew he couldn’t argue.
He deflated into the pillows. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Morgan rolled his eyes. “Yeah, whatever. Just be prepared for JJ to smother the hell out of you.”
“God, you guys aren’t gonna leave me alone for weeks, are you?”
“Nope. That’s what you get for being the team baby.”
“I am not a baby!” Reid protested. “I have very high credentials, Morgan!”
“Sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night, kid.” Morgan gave him an amused grin and started walking out the doorway. “You ready for the herd?”
“I guess so,” he mumbled, with a soft smile playing on his lips. “Send them in.”
Derek stops in the doorway for a moment, looking back at Reid. “One more thing.”
Spencer could already tell he was dreading this. “Yeah?”
“I’m not gonna press you on it…” he began. “But we're gonna have to have a serious talk about those injections soon.”
Spencer looked everywhere but at Derek. “Okay.”
Derek nodded slowly. “Okay.”
He disappeared out the doorway, and Spencer relished in his last few minutes of freedom for the next couple days.
But it occurred to him that he’s going to need those next few days. He was going to need a break.
So maybe spending it with the team wouldn’t be so bad.