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It's the 'what if's that hurts the most

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It had been over two weeks of nightmares, they got more and more vivid each time. Seemed more and more real. Each time Spencer would wake up tangled in his sheets, heaving with sobs. He felt trapped in his own mind, never able to escape. Everywhere he'd look he'd either see himself as a child, terror in his eyes or the figure in his dreams. 

 

The face of the man would change, as if his mind couldn't quite decide what he looked like.

 

Or can't remember what he looked like , a small voice in the back supplied. He dutifully ignored it. Spencer refused to believe that these were memories, or remnants of one. 

 

For not the first time in his life, he wished he could turn his brain off. Make it quiet for just a moment, just a minute of peace. That desperate need made the lure of the dilaudid hidden in one of the air vents of his apartment even stronger than before. 

 

He knew it was stupid to keep it in his apartment but even though he was determined to stay clean, there was something about throwing it away that he couldn't handle. As if the comfort of having it close made up for the fact he couldn't use it.

 

It hadn't gotten to the point where he'd open the vent yet but he did lay on his side in bed and stare at the grate separating him and sweet, sweet relief. 

 

But he knew that he couldn't do it, he couldn't do that to his team. His team was everything to him and he couldn't lose them. Not over something like this, not now after all this time. 

 

He had to think about his team, think about how angry Morgan would be, how disappointed Hotch and Rossi would be, how horribly sad Garcia would be. No, he couldn't. This decision didn't only affect him, it affected everyone. 

 

What he didn't realise was affecting everyone was his mood, the overwhelming amounts of gloom and pain that radiated from his being. He didn't see Hotch call Morgan into his office one day after the two had made eye contact as JJ woke Spencer up from where he'd fallen asleep at work for the 5th time that week. 

 

Stepping into Hotch's office, Morgan crossed his arms, "Hotch, you've got to notice there's something up with him, right? He's not okay." 

 

Hotch placed both hands, palms down on his desk and sighed, "Of course I noticed, it's affecting the whole team." Morgan knew he was right, there had been a dark cloud hanging over the BAU team ever since Morgan, Rossi and Reid got back from Las Vegas. "That's why I want you to speak with him. He'll talk to you." 

 

"Are you sure?" Morgan asked, thinking that maybe JJ or Garcia would be better at emotional support. But Hotch just nodded.

 

"Only you and Rossi were with him in Vegas and the only ones who really know what went down. Something happened that week and I need you to figure it out. He looks up to you Derek. Look out for him." The use of Morgan's first name only insinuated how important this task was. Derek knew this was one thing he could not fuck up.

 

Morgan soon exited his superior's office and watched sadly as Reid stared into what seemed like nothing. 

 

~~~

 

"Hey kid," Morgan stepped up next to Reid where he was stirring what was probably his 4th cup of coffee since he'd left his apartment that morning. Reid leaned against the counter of the breakroom, only humming in response. It seemed like he was somewhere else entirely. 

 

"You know you can talk to me right?" Morgan began, as he usually did. He needed Reid to know that he was always there if he needed him. Spencer didn't even seem to notice the comment. 

 

"Did you know that the human mind is incapable of creating new faces? So that means that any face that you see in a dream is either someone you know or have seen before in your life." 

 

The fact caught Derek completely off guard. What do you say to that? 

 

"Uh, no- no I didn't," was all he could come up with. It was probably the least helpful thing he could have said. 

 

Spencer nodded, not looking up from the floor, "Yeah. Statistically you dream up to six dreams per night but only remember about 10% of them, 96% being forgotten after the first 10 minutes of waking up." Spencer hated that fact. Despite those statistics he still remembered all his night terrors. Or worse, he was having more than he could remember. 

 

Night terrors, there was no other way to describe what he was experiencing. Although only 2.2% of adults have night terrors, usually growing out of them as they enter adulthood. He knew that night terrors in adults usually meant an underlying mental illness or psychological trauma. Both things he didn't want to be associated with. 

 

Derek shook his head sadly, "Reid, tell me what's going on, man." He was tired of the genius evading the subject. 

 

Spencer visibly drew into himself, he knew they'd been suspicious of him. They'd probably had a big meeting about it behind his back and Derek was chosen to go talk to him. 

 

Sometimes he hated working with profilers. 

 

"I'm fine, Morgan." Spencer still didn't look up from the floor. He didn't even try to fake a smile. He took a sip of his coffee, he held back a frown. Nothing tasted sweet to him anymore. No matter how much sugar he put in it, it was just bitter. Everything was bitter. 

 

Spencer saw that Derek was about to protest, so he looked up at the other man for the first time in a week, "Really, I'm fine ." 

 

It was that moment when Derek genuinely saw the emptiness in Spencer's eyes. The dark bruises under them only accentuating the tiredness of the boy's face. He was not fine. 

 

Before Morgan could comment Spencer walked off, leaving him behind to wonder what the hell had happened to his friend.