Fandom: Criminal Minds
Okay, now I'm a bit nervous for this post because it's my first (and one of my few) heavy oneshots. You can't really do a series on Reid without addressing the ambiguity of his brush with drugs following 'Revelations', so this is one of my takes on it.
This is the first of 3-4 fics in a sort of miniseries centering around the whole Reid-drug thing. Feedback on this fic in particular is especially appreciated, as it's a different direction for me.
Warning: The following fic contains major drug references, as well as serious spoilers for any episode up to 'Ashes and Dust'.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. At all. Really - these aren't even my socks.
Reid had the strange sensation that he was falling. He'd felt it when Tobias first injected him against his will in the cabin. The sensation had tripled by the fourth dose. To his disappointment, Tobias' death had done nothing to stop the feeling that he was plunging down a dark hole.
He lay in the back of an ambulance, Morgan and Gideon on either side, both of them reassuring him that everything was going to be okay. He knew they were lying, whether or not they did. How could everything be okay when he was more concerned with the vials in his pocket than the fact that he'd just killed a man? A voice whispered that the vials could make everything okay again - they could help him in ways that his friends couldn't. Reid pushed the thought away, trying to forget how much better things had been when he'd been high. Instead, he nodded at his teammates' words of comfort, wanting more than anything to believe them.
At the hospital, the doctor carefully explained about the side effects he was likely to endure from the dilaudid withdrawal. Reid nodded quietly, his eyes on his team members who were waiting anxiously on the on the other side of the glass. The doctor seemed hesitant when Reid asked him not to tell his team about the drugs, but relented when Reid promised to call the number of a support group in D.C.. Reid tucked away the piece of paper with the phone number on it, knowing full well that he had no intention of using it.
The others entered and greeted him happily, if not a bit nervously. JJ sat beside Reid's bed, holding his hand and apologizing again for allowing them to split up. The others stood nearby, smiling reassuringly at him, and Reid was suddenly overwhelmed by anger at how understanding they all looked. They couldn't possibly understand what you went through, a voice inside him raged. They were safe at the house while you were being tortured. His foot was aching and his head was pounding and everything seemed so much harsher without the drugs. All at once, he wished that they'd just leave him alone like they had in the cabin. Leave him to his sins and his secrets and his death.
JJ's hand squeezed his, and Reid realized that they were all staring at him, apparently concerned by his silence. He immediately smiled, filled with guilt, and tried not to think about where that sudden anger had come from. Gideon stated that Reid needed his rest, and suggested that they all return in the morning. Reid was both thankful and scared by the prospect of being alone, but the next thing he knew, Garcia was hugging him goodbye and Hotch and Prentiss were at the door, still stealing glances back at his bed as if afraid that they would not find Reid in it. His thoughts jumped to the clear bottles resting in the pockets of his pants which were neatly folded over a nearby chair, and he heard himself assuring Morgan and JJ that he would not need either of them to stay the night with him. He was already contemplating how he would get his hands on a clean needle when he froze, terrified by what he'd been planning.
Withdrawal symptoms include muscle pain, anxiety, weakness, insomnia, chills, and abdominal cramps, the doctor's voice rang in his ears, but somehow it sounded more like Tobias'. Spencer didn't sleep that night, his mind on the vials waiting mere feet from his bed. When the doctors announced the next morning that he was to stay another night for observation, Reid's resolve broke. Crouched in the tiny washroom, he let the needle pierce his skin and reassured himself that he was only doing it to wean himself off the drug. If some part of him argued that 'weaning' would require less of the drug and not more, he ignored it. A minute later, he didn't care either way as the clear liquid swirled inside his veins.
The two weeks of medical leave seemed to crawl and rush by all at once. If time seemed easier with the dilaudid, Reid pretended not to notice. After all, he had no intention of continuing to use it once he was back at work. It was merely a way to deal with the pain and the loneliness he was feeling right now. A way to pass the time while he waited for his real life to start again.
Soon enough, and somehow far too soon, his leave of absence was up. Part of him was relieved at the prospect of finally having something to do. Another part of him wished he could stay holed up in his apartment forever, hidden away from people who couldn't possibly understand his pain. As he prepared his things for work, his mind landed on the two vials in his medicine cabinet. He tried to shake the thoughts away, but soon found himself packing them into his messenger bag. Purely for comfort, he reasoned with himself. He had no intention of using them at work, but he just couldn't stand the idea of being away from them all day. A voice whispered something about a slippery slope, but he ignored it and headed out the door, his hand resting protectively on the outer pocket of his bag. If he was worried that his team of fellow profilers would guess what he'd been doing, he didn't show it.
JJ smiled at him as he sat down at his desk for the first time in two weeks. His smile was skittish and a little forced, but she didn't seem to notice. A welcoming hand landed on Reid's shoulder and he nearly jumped out of his chair in surprise before he realized it was Morgan. He brushed it off as not having had his morning cup of coffee and excused himself from the group to get one. In the kitchenette area, he worked silently to slow his racing heart, assuring himself that he was no longer in the cabin at the hands of a madman, before pouring himself a cup of instant and rejoining the pack.
Things seemed fine at work for the first little while, at least until they found themselves with a new case. Reid tried not to focus on the images that flashed through his brain at the sight of the crime scene photos, and did his best to ignore the voice that reminded him how much quieter his mind was with the drugs. He was fidgeting, he knew it, but suddenly he realized how long it had been since he'd had a fix. A small part of him cautiously pointed out that a 'fix' was not something a non-addict would need. He ignored that too. His hand went to his messenger bag, hanging on the back of his chair. He felt the bulge of the vials in the outer pocket and immediately felt relieved by their presence. Gideon was looking at him, and he realized at once that they had adjourned their meeting and he hadn't heard a word of it.
The flight back from Westchester County found Reid staring pensively at the cards in his hand. The case had been tough one, and all he wanted to do was go back to his home, inject himself, and disappear from the world. He'd managed to take a small bit on their trip, while he was at the hotel (never during work hours, he assured himself), but he swore he could feel the chills coming on already. He barely registered Morgan's voice calling him from across the table, but he managed to open his eyes and briefly meet the pair of concerned ones opposite him. He could hear the worry in Morgan's voice, and immediately felt guilty about the thoughts that his teammate had interrupted.
He found himself admitting his difficulties with the crime scene photos, almost relieved to be able to share it with someone. Maybe he could tell Morgan everything. Maybe he'd be able to help him. But just as the thought entered his mind, Morgan's reply rang out, full of the same sickening understanding Reid had been smothered with at the hospital, and his brief hopes were dashed. Morgan really didn't get it - he didn't realize that Reid's problems weren't typical. Reid felt himself nodding along to Morgan's advice, repeating it but not believing a single word. If Reid needed any further proof of how little his teammate understood him, it was in Morgan's readiness to believe that he had fixed what was bothering the younger profiler. Spencer's urge to take dilaudid suddenly tripled and he felt lonelier than ever. They really couldn't understand after all.
That night, Reid used more dilaudid than he ever had before. He woke up the next morning on the floor in front of his couch and was overcome by a dizzying wave of nausea. Barely making it to the washroom before his stomach expelled the little food he'd eaten in the last couple of days, Spencer Reid vowed to end his drug use once and for all. By the end of the week, another vial had been purchased to replace the one that was almost empty and Reid wondered if he'd always been this much of a coward.
If his teammates noticed his twitchy behavior at work, no one commented on it. They all certainly noticed his change in temperament, though Reid himself seemed unaware of it. He was still too guilty to unleash his anger on the majority of his teammates, but he soon found the perfect target in Emily Prentiss. Her every action was suddenly offensive to him in some way, to the point where Reid had almost convinced himself that it was her fault that Elle had left; her fault that the team had taken so long to find him in Georgia; her fault that everyone was watching him so closely. She called him on it, only once, during the Houston case, but that had merely enraged him further. Who is she to comment on your behavior? the angry voice inside him screamed. She's barely a member of the team and she already thinks she knows everything!
Reid ignored the pain in Emily's eyes as he stormed off; she deserved it - he was in more pain than any of them could imagine. After that, Prentiss seemed to give up, accepting his behavior and leaving him alone. Part of him wished she wouldn't.
When they got home, Reid threw the two newly purchased vials in a drawer and shut it with conviction. He told himself that he was quitting, but a voice taunted that if he really meant that he would have thrown them in the trash instead. The voice was right, as Reid had known it would be, and soon he began to measure time in terms of his last fix. It was all he could think about. He told himself that he needed it to function now - that he couldn't do his job properly if he was going through withdrawal. If some rational part of him argued that his logic was that of an addict, Reid ignored it. He knew that he could stop if he really tried hard enough.
He stayed late one night to prove it, trying to keep his mind off of the drugs, telling himself that shooting up at work was the one thing he'd never do. A small voice in the back of his mind reminded him that he'd once believed himself incapable of using drugs at all. He shooed the voice away, putting his full concentration into his paperwork and trying to ignore the other voice that kept reminding him of the tiny vials in his messenger bag. His body was aching and he was fidgeting again, all too aware that it had been over twenty-four hours since his last dose. He stopped himself from scratching his arm and began pacing the empty office, only the cleaning staff still in the building. No one would know, the voice whispered. The office was cold - or maybe it was just him - and Spencer knew he couldn't make it the whole night. He didn't want the drug anymore. He needed it. He raced down the stairs, too anxious to wait for the elevator, and tried desperately to remember when it had gotten so bad.
Reid's hands fumbled to put the keys in the ignition of his beat up old car, but his fingers weren't responding the way he wanted them to. The voice rationalized that he wasn't technically at work anymore, and he found himself reaching into the pocket of his bag. As he stuck the needle in the vial (only slightly surprised by the sudden deftness of his fingers), he realized that he never slept without the dilaudid anymore. He felt ashamed, but it was soon vanquished by blissful release.
He woke up in the backseat of his car the next morning, and walked into the building like nothing had happened. As the other members of the BAU filed in, each looking equally groggy and slightly depressed at the prospect of another murder-filled day, Reid nursed a cup of coffee and wondered how much further there was to fall.
Their trip to New Orleans proved eventful, as Reid decided to further test his teammates. He was torn - half of him wanting to shove his problem in their faces and demand they fix it, the other half wanting to hide it all away, furious that they seemed to be ignoring all of the signs. Finally, his boss had sought him out, offering him a chance to come clean. Gideon seemed satisfied with Reid's assurance that he'd leave his problem separate from his work, and he kept his word. He stopped acting angry and paranoid, stopped zoning out during meetings, stopped fidgeting almost uncontrollably when he thought they weren't looking. But he hadn't stopped what was killing him. He hadn't stopped hurting himself. He'd just learned to keep it out of their sight.
The arson case in California was the breaking point. Reid found himself unexpectedly giving his teammates one last plea for help during the profiling - his comparison of the arsonist to a drug user cutting a little too close to home. He'd turned himself away from Gideon's curious gaze, ashamed by his admission, but he was soon filled with anger and pain at their continued silence. Where was their understanding now? They were leaving him to drown, to die in that graveyard all over again.
They had been back in Quantico a mere fifty minutes when Reid made a break for the bathroom. He spitefully noted that none of the others seemed concerned at all by his quick departure. He closed the door behind him, uncertain whether the decision to leave it unlocked was deliberate or not. He stared at his face in the mirror, hardly recognizing the skeleton that served as his reflection. His hands were trembling as he reached into his bag and pulled out the instruments of his torment. He didn't have to look to know there would be more of the clear liquid in the needle than usual. He prepped his arm with little effort and watched as his finger pressed the plunger once more.
Reid felt himself falling, in more ways than one. He slid down the bathroom wall, barely conscious of the needle that dropped from his hand, but all too aware that he'd broken the last rule he'd had for himself. He was weak, having finally lost what little resistance was left in him, succumbing to his addiction completely.
That was how Morgan found him: curled up in a drug-induced haze on the floor of the men's bathroom, one sleeve rolled up haphazardly, a needle and discarded glass vial lying inches from his hand. After the initial shock, he was at his partner's side in an instant, yelling for Gideon and Hotch, and assuring Reid that they would help him at last.
Somewhere inside his tormented mind, Reid felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He had been falling into darkness for so long that it was almost a relief to hit the bottom. He'd never really known how far he could fall until he stopped.
Okay, hopefully I didn't lose everybody. As I said, this is one of 3-4 heavier fics dealing with the Reid/drug thing, so I'll be posting the first sequel in a bit.
For those of you who found that this wasn't your cup of tea, rest assured that I've got plenty of "normal" Reid fics still to post, and one will be up shortly.
Please, please, please take the time to review. I normally don't enjoy begging for reviews, but this fic was a bit of a detour from my normal comfort zone, so I'd really appreciate feedback on how it was received.
Thank you very much for reading!
Keep Smiling! ;)