Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds. Any characters or related settings are not mine and belong to CBS and Jeff Davis unless otherwise stated.
Derek walked into the bathroom to see Spencer standing over a sink, staring into the running water from the tap. The young genius was pale, and as Derek watched, he let his hands run under the stream of water, collecting it in his hands. His hands lifted to splash water over his face, and he rubbed the water out of his eyes with his knuckles, looking almost like a sleepy child with his large eyes and short, cropped hair. Wiping off his face, he met Derek's eye in the mirror over the sink.
"You know, that profile kind of makes it sound like schizophrenia leads to serial killing."
As he finished speaking, Spencer hid his face in a wad of paper towel, breaking eye contact and dabbing his face dry as Derek began to feel unease coiling in his gut. The younger man had to know that profile wasn't making those kinds of accusations, especially knowing how sensitive the young man was towards the issue.
"That's not what we said at all, Reid."
Spencer's eyes stayed down, staring at his hands as he almost cut over Derek's defence, and when he spoke, his voice shook and struggled to stay level as he obsessively dried his hands.
"You know, my mom has schizophrenia; there are many different types."
Derek closed his eyes against the broken sound of the young agent's voice, and nodded, realising that the case was getting to him more than he was letting on.
"I know that."
Spencer ripped off more towel as he stared at his hands, drying them methodically, making sure that each crease and knuckle was seen to, his voice sounding more and more dejected as he went on.
"-catatonic, disorganised…just because someone suffers from an inability to organise their thoughts or they can't bathe or dress themselves doesn't mean they stab someone I the chest thirty times post mortem."
He finally lifted his eyes to Derek's as he threw away the towel and turned to lean against the edge of the counter, eyes almost immediately returning to the floor, but not quick enough for Derek to miss the absolute exhaustion in the other man's eyes.
"Reid, what's really going on?"
Spencer took a moment to think before he started to talk, this time turning attention back towards the case, and as soon as the topic of conversation was changed from Spencer himself, the young genius lifted his eyes to meet Derek's and hold his gaze, dropping his gaze only to ponder or emphasise a point.
"Our Unsub's hallucinations aren't fractured like a typical schizophrenic; they're vivid and clear, leading me to believe that we're missing an important variable. Rather than making crazy conjectures, I think we should be trying to figure out what it is."
His confidence in the matter seemed to dwindle towards the end, his eyes dropping to the ground again as soon as he returned to the fact that he thought the profile was accusing people with schizophrenia.
Derek thought about thing from Spencer's perspective for a moment. He thought about how hard it was for him to hear that his mother was having a bad day or wasn't eating. He thought about how scared the young genius was that one day his brilliant mind would turn on him, that he would become confused, disorientated, terrified of voices inside his head. He thought about how those fears had been steadily growing the longer he had known the young man in front of him, far too young to be so scared of his own mind. When he spoke, he made sure his voice was soft, comforting without stablishing a physical touch.
"Okay, listen to me. I know this is a scary age for you; it's when schizophrenic breaks happen. Have you talked to anyone about this?"
Not one during Derek's comment did Reid's eyes leave the floor, but when he answered, he licked his lips nervously, and looked incredibly vulnerable without the enthusiasm he normally had during their cases.
Derek's heart fell. That meant that when Prentiss had died, Reid hadn't just lost his friend, but also his confidante, the only person who knew how scared he really was. His heart went out to the younger man. He understood why he hadn't spoken to him; he probably didn't want to worry him. Hell, Derek knew that he probably wouldn't have gone to Spencer about something he was scared of for fear of worrying the younger man or looking weak. But it meant that now Spencer was living in constant fear without anyone to talk to or understand, and Derek hated that.
"Have you seen a doctor?"
Spencer's eyebrows quirked as he answered, his voice lilting disbelievingly.
"They all say I'm fine."
"Well, why don't you believe them?"
"Because predicting one's chances of developing a genetic condition are like finding a penny in an ocean." It was only on very rare occasions that Derek detested the younger man's vast understanding, but he found himself wishing that for once, Reid didn't know the scientific truth; that he could just accept what the doctors had said without knowing what could lie behind their statements. But he was dragged from the thoughts by Spencer's voice breaking again as he continued. "I have terrible headaches, I can't sleep at night, I can't focus on our cases, I – I only read five books last week…"
Derek wanted nothing more than to hide the kid away from all his worries and take the broken, vulnerable expression from his face, but instead he settled with trying to reason with him, despite the fact that he knew he probably wasn't going to succeed.
"Come on, kid, you've got to cut yourself some slack. You're also depressed about Prentiss, and I get it; we all are. Reid, I miss her every day, but if your mind was splitting, do you really think you'd be able to figure out that this team is missing a variable?"
Spencer's face became thoughtful, with an edge of doubt, but he looked a little calmer, as if Derek's words had managed to soothe a small part of him that was waiting for the worst. He wasn't convinced, not by a long shot, but it looked as if the sharp edge had been taken from his fear, dulling it to a background ache rather than a sharp pain at the forefront of his mind.
"I'm just speculating that we are." His tongue came to rest thoughtfully against his top li, and he raised his eyes to Derek's. "I need to prove it."
"Okay then, you do that. The moment you are wandering around the streets aimlessly, that's when I'll be concerned about you." Spencer's lips quirked into a small smile, and Derek's heart lifted slightly. "Come on, pretty boy, let's get to work."
"Baby Girl, he was so scared, and I didn't even know."
Penelope Garcia looked over her glasses at her best friend whose hands were wrapped tightly around his coffee mug, and whose head was bowed in shame and regret at not seeing the younger man's obvious distress. She felt her heartache, both for Spencer's pain and Derek's anger at himself. She crossed her office from her desk to the couch where Derek sat, despite everyone else having gone home hours before, and perked on the cushions beside him, one hand coming up to rest of the back of her friend's neck, nails lightly scratching at his hair line. His eyes closed briefly, and she felt him relax minutely, so she kept her voice quiet when she spoke.
"Sweetie, nobody knew. You forget he's just as good a profiler as all of you; he knows how to hide what he doesn't want you to know. "
Dark eyes lifted to meet hers, the whites of them an angry pink as he fought tears.
"But nobody else is there every night. No-one else falls asleep next to him, or wakes up beside him. Of anyone, I should at least have known he wasn't sleeping, Penelope! How did I miss it? I was right there!"
His hands shook in his frustration, and Penelope pre-empted the coffee spillage, taking the mug out of the agent's hands before it fell. She let one of her hands rest on his now balled-up fist, and she squeezed gently, smiling at him gently.
"Sugar, there's no way you would have known if he didn't want you to know. He wouldn't have wanted you to worry; you know Spencer. You know he'd rather go through things alone than risk worrying the people he cares about. And this is something he's carried with him since he was a little boy, Derek; he's always known how his mom is, and that he could develop the same condition, but he's always coped with it alone. It probably didn't register that he could share it with anyone after so many years."
Derek looked up at her from where he had braced his elbows against his knees, and looked at her carefully for a good few moments before he smiled gently and leaned in towards her, resting his forehead against her collarbone, closing his eyes as Penelope wrapped her arms around his shoulders and rocked him gently.
"Thanks, Baby Girl."
She smiled into the short fuzz on top of his head.
"No problems, my Chocolate Thunder. Now go home, and find your boy-genius. I'm going to guess he's going to be needing your hugs a lot more than I do."
Derek closed the door to his townhouse carefully, mindful of the late hour, and he shrugged off his coat before hanging it up and slipping out of his shoes, pushing them under the coat rack as he did so. The house lacked in sound until he heard a soft voice from the bedroom at the top of the stairs.
"Clooney, guess who's home?"
There was a thud as Clooney jumped from the bed, which he probably shouldn't have been one anyway, and then the Great Dane appeared at the top of stairs, his ears pricked tall before he barrelled down the stairs towards his owner. Derek smiled as his dog crashed into his lower legs, almost knocking him over, but with a quick rub to the side and a hushed greeting, the canine was headed back up the stairs, probably to curl back over Spencer's feet at the bottom of the bed.
Derek dropped his bag just inside the living room door before heading up the stairs, wanting nothing more than to curl up in the bed with his Pretty Boy and fall asleep. Rounding the corner, he saw that he had been right; Spencer was sat up against the headboard of the bed, a book open on his lap, about a quarter left to read, with Clooney already curled up with his eyes closed across the end of the bed. He smiled at the image, and Spencer smiled back.
"Hey there. Pretty Boy."
Stripping down to his boxer shorts, dropping his clothes across the chair by the wardrobe, Derek climbed onto the bed and crawled under the covers. Spencer wasted no time in marking his place in the book and dropping it onto the bedside table before sliding down under the covers next to him, arms reaching out to wind around Derek's waist and pull himself under the older agent's chin. Derek hooked his arms around the slender waist of his lover and pulled him flush against him, warmth sealing their bodies together where they touched as Spencer sighed happily at the contact. After the emotional whirl Spencer had been going through all day, Derek could feel that the young genius was close to sleep, but had been stubbornly waiting for Derek to return home.
He barely heard the words whispered into his skin as Spencer exhaled sleepily.
"Thank you for earlier."
Derek tilted his face down to press a kiss to Spencer's hair. Spencer may not have been used to comfort or sharing, but Derek would make sure he knew that he could have it, if only he asked.
"Anytime, Pretty Boy. Anytime."
I felt so sorry for Reid when he finally confessed how scared he was! And all I could think was, 'how would Morgan feel about not realising how bad his Pretty Boy was feeling?'. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this, and thank you so much for all your support! Happy Reading! Xx