The flight home was gloomy and heavy. Reid sat by the window staring into the black night-sky with his bandaged foot on the opposite bench. JJ sat next to his feet and was uncertain – should she try to speak to him? She sensed that he wasn't in the mood for talking but sitting there in silence felt inappropriate to her. Then again... asking how he was would have been stupid. She glanced at him but he didn't move. His eyes were blank as he gazed through the window.
No one spoke much. They were all happy they had got Reid back but his gloomy state made them more silent than usual. Prentiss was asleep and Hotch had paperwork. Gideon was reading a book and it was impossible to figure out what he was thinking. Maybe he was just reading.
Morgan was uneasy. He sat on the other side of the plane, next to Reid and JJ, and kept casting uncertain looks at them. JJ hadn't spoken to him since they had found Reid, and Morgan knew she was still angry at him. Angry and disappointed. Morgan understood her but wished things hadn't been so. Deep in his subconsciousness he blamed JJ for what had happened to Reid. He had blamed her very consciously and openly, too, but by Hankel's body Morgan had regretted his angry words to her, seeing that Reid held no grudge against her.
Morgan wanted to believe that he wasn't mad at JJ anymore. His mind refused to listen to his subconsciousness but the feelings were there and he couldn't shake them off. His reason told him it hadn't been her fault – it could've happened to anyone, she was not to blame.
And yet... Morgan glanced at her and shook his head in misery. He did blame her. And he was angry at himself for that. His eyes met Reid's profile and seeing his empty sorrow Morgan's mind started playing with him again and it blamed JJ even more. What had happened to Reid was wrong, cruel, it could've been prevented if only JJ had stayed with him. Morgan shook his head and tried to let go of his anger, which he thought he had no right to nurse. Even Reid had said it wasn't her fault.
Reid sat silent and didn't even see the window through which he was looking. He felt incredibly tired but couldn't sleep. He did everything he could not to think about what had happened for he feared he might break down if he did so – but his efforts to forget only brought it closer. He knew he'd have to deal with it, but not now, not there... not in front of everyone. He didn't want to talk about it but at the same time the urgent need to go through the pain was consuming him. It was terrible to want to talk about it but still not wanting to do just that.
JJ glanced at Reid again. He hadn't moved in ages. He was merely staring blankly out and looking troubled, though in a concealed kind of way. She wanted him to tell her about it, to say something, not to hold it to himself – she still blamed herself for it and Morgan's words at Hankel's place hadn't made her feel better at all. Reid didn't blame her, which she was glad about, but to know that others thought she had done wrong... She looked at Morgan and met his eyes. She turned to look at her news paper again.
It's because it happened to Reid, thought Morgan and stared into nothingness in his thoughts. If it had happened to Hotch or Gideon or even Prentiss he wouldn't have such a problem with it. Reid had grown a lot mentally since the day he had joined the BAU and the job had taken him like it had taken each and every one of them, but he was still their youngest. In Morgan's eyes, Reid was innocent, somehow managing to live in his own world even though he faced horrors during his working hours. To Morgan he was fragile, like he were made of glass – he did not possess the kind of physical strength Morgan valued and it made him want to protect him.
And now all the innocence was gone. Reid had had to face a whole new world of fear and darkness, the kind which he had managed to avoid so far – even though he had already shot a man before, faced cruel criminals and seen gruesome things. Still, this was different. It was his life that had been at stake and the memory would haunt him to the end of his days. And Morgan was angry to think about it – it was too wrong.
Morgan knew that eventually Reid would have come across the same thing, though more gradually. With age he would have learned to know cruelty the way it was and he would have lost the what ever innocence he had. But it had occurred too soon. Too abruptly. Morgan wanted to hurt the one who had done this to Reid but then he remembered that Reid had already done so. Hankel was dead. And Morgan grieved the fact that it had had to be Reid who took his life – somehow it pained him to think that Reid had shot the man cold-blooded, knowing what he was doing. Morgan understood why and he didn't think Reid had done anything wrong, but he thought it had ripped Reid the rest of the innocence he had had.
As the plane landed and everyone was gathering their things, JJ offered to take Reid home. Morgan heard this and cut in before Reid had answered anything.
"It's OK, JJ, I'll take him. You need to get some rest."
Morgan didn't mean it in any bad way. He felt that he should be nice to JJ after all the nasty things he had said, but afterwards he thought that maybe his subconsciousness had played its part once again and had wanted to hurt her. However it was, JJ looked at Morgan with darkened eyes. She nodded stiffly and said nothing to him – she didn't need to, Morgan heard her voice in his head as if she had shouted at him: "Don't you even trust me in this matter?"
"Take care", JJ smiled to Reid and touched his arm. "Call me if you want to talk." Reid smiled awkwardly at her and she took her bag and left.
"You don't have to take me home, I'll manage", Reid said to Morgan without looking at him and stood up, carefully minding his left leg.
"Don't be silly, kid", Morgan said lightly and pat his shoulder. He didn't reply. Hotch and Prentiss said their goodbyes to him – Hotch telling him to take a few days off work and get better. Reid assured them he was fine at which point Hotch reminded him about his foot, which made Reid slightly embarrassed. Morgan and Gideon helped Reid with his bags and as they were by the cars Gideon bid his farewells and told Reid he was always available by phone. Soon Morgan and Reid were sitting in the car, silent.
The drive wasn't very long but it felt the longer because they didn't speak. Morgan asked for driving instructions and Reid gave them to him, but when Morgan tried to speak of other things Reid answered only shortly or not at all.
Reid just wanted to get home. He was at the breaking point and needed loneliness – yet a part of him longed for company. The dark, empty apartment seemed like a silent Heaven but also like a threatening cell in which he would be all alone and without backup. He didn't know what he wanted. The tiny bottles he had taken off Tobias' body were pressing against his thigh in his pocket. They felt cool. He wasn't sure what he wanted from them but it felt good to have them – just in case.
They pulled over in front of a basic-looking building. Reid was already saying goodbye but Morgan insisted on carrying his bag to his place. Reid tried to resist but his head was feeling heavy and he suspected a headache, and his flat was on the second floor. So he let it go and opened the door to the stairway. Morgan carried his stuff and when Reid turned on the light inside Morgan saw a bright-colored "Out of order" sign attached to the elevator door. Reid was apparently aware of this and didn't even flinch as he began to climb the stairs. It wasn't easy for him since his foot was sore and Morgan hurried to his side and supported him.
"It's OK", Reid tried to resist.
"Come on, Reid, the last thing we need is for you to fall down the stairs", Morgan said and they made their way up to the second floor without accidents. Reid opened his door and before he had had time to say a thing Morgan had stepped over the threshold with his bag.
"Thanks", Reid said and stopped in the hallway. Morgan raised his brows.
"You aren't gonna drive me away now?" he said and smiled crookedly. "I'm here to make sure you'll manage, and I'm not leaving 'till I'm sure you'll be OK." Reid sighed and turned away. He turned on the lights and said something Morgan didn't catch. He then went to the bathroom.
Morgan walked further into the apartment and put Reid's luggage down in the living-room. He looked around and was astonished by the huge number of books covering the walls in their wooden bookshelves. He took a closer look and saw tons of science and crime related books – David Rossi's whole production, Gideon's work, human anatomy, chemistry, law, history, you name it. One shelf was reserved for other kind of literature and Morgan smiled when he saw rows of science fiction and fantasy books, as well as most of the world literature classics he had heard of and many, many more. He noticed that a great deal of dust had settled on the books. Apparently Reid hadn't read them in ages – which was no wonder since he remembered almost everything he read.
Reid had an average-size TV and close to it was Reid's DVD collection, not even nearly as vast as his book collection but it contained many of the same themes. Star Trek and Star Wars, plus tons of other series' and movies Morgan thought were a bit nerdy.
Reid rushed into the bathroom and leaned on the sink. He felt horrible. He craved for loneliness and wanted Morgan to leave but at the same time he knew that the moment Morgan had shut the door behind him he would need company more than ever. He breathed disconnectedly and fought against tears – he was exhausted and his headache kept getting stronger. He reached into his pocket and took out the Dilaudid bottles. He looked at them in his palm and his heart was beating furiously. Somewhere in his mind he wanted to take a needle and fall into the blissful ignorance and memory the liquid granted him.
Then he remembered he didn't have a syringe and put the bottles hastily into the bathroom cabinet. He took out some painkillers and took a couple, resisting the urge of downing the whole bottle at once. He closed the mirrored doors and suddenly he was staring at his reflection in the eyes. He thought he looked terrible. He had dark shadows under his eyes, his face was bruised and he had a small bandage on his forehead, where Hankel had hit him the first time. He took it off and saw a small wound underneath.
What struck Reid the most were his eyes. He looked himself into the eyes and saw so much darkness that it was almost unbearable. In his eyes, he saw the whole thing again, he remembered how he had felt and everything that had been said, it all came back to him in an instant. He turned quickly away and tried to even out his breath. He closed his eyes and made an attempt to calm down.
Morgan was wandering if Reid was hungry and whether he should order a pizza or help him cook or something. Reid hadn't eaten for a good while. He turned when he heard noise behind him and saw Reid coming out of the bathroom, looking surprised to see Morgan still there.
"Thanks for..." Reid began and tried to tell him silently and smoothly what he was thankful of and that it was time for Morgan to leave. He limped forward and sat on the couch – the painkillers hadn't done their job yet and standing was becoming less and less enjoyable.
"Are you hungry?" asked Morgan, refusing to get Reid's point. "I can order something if you'd like to eat..."
"No, thanks", Reid said and was feeling worse than a moment ago. Sleeping seemed like a good idea, even though he feared nightmares. However, pain and weariness were overcoming his fears. "I'm fine."
Morgan watched him quietly. Reid raised a hand on his forehead and closed his eyes. Morgan sat next to him.
"Got a headache?" Morgan asked concernedly.
"Yeah", Reid said weakly. "The doctor said I might get that..."
"Well, no wonder", said Morgan sympathetically. "Want me to get you pills? Do you keep them in the bathroom?" He was already about to get up and search for painkillers when Reid remembered the Dilaudid in the cabinet.
"No!" he hurried to say and raised his eyes on Morgan. "I already took some." Morgan nodded and remained seated, wondering the strange panic he had seen in Reid's eyes.
Reid buried his face in his hands and hoped the medicine would work and soon.
"You can go, I'm sure you've got things to do..." Reid mumbled and tried to sound as healthy as he could.
"Reid", Morgan said seriously. "I'll leave if you can look me in the eye and say you'll be fine."
"I told you, I'm..." Reid begun quietly but stopped when his eyes met Morgan's. For a moment he looked into the man's eyes and felt everything falling down on him. He had been holding it all in for hours now, not allowing himself to break down, but looking into Morgan's dark and worried eyes was more than he could take at the moment. He felt tears in his eyes and broke down, covering his eyes with one hand.
Morgan looked at him compassionately and reached out a hand which he put on Reid's shoulders.
"It's OK", Morgan said soothingly. "It's OK."
"He made me choose", Reid sobbed. "I couldn't... he made me choose..."
"Hey", Morgan said and looked into his eyes while holding his hand on the back of Reid's neck. "There's nothing you did wrong. Nothing. You saved that woman's life and many more – you heard that son of a bitch say he'd kill them all if you didn't choose. There's nothing you did wrong."
Reid looked miserable and Morgan kept his arm around him reassuringly, for he was indeed in a broken state. For some time they sat there, Reid trying to stop the tears and trying to cope with the headache. After a while he managed to calm down a bit and the painkillers began to work.
"I shot him", Reid whispered then.
"He got what was coming to him", Morgan said firmly. He had sensed remorse in Reid's voice and wanted him to know that he had done as he had had to do.
"Not Tobias", Reid said quietly. "He was trying to help..."
"Listen, Reid", Morgan said calmly. "Nobody blames you for it, and you shouldn't blame yourself either." Reid shook his head but said nothing.
"You should get some rest", Morgan said after a while when Reid had calmed down. "You must be tired." Reid nodded and went to change his clothes. Morgan wasn't sure whether he should leave or not. Reid had seemed to want him to go the whole time he had been there but he thought that he'd at least say good night before going and make sure Reid didn't need anything.
"Can I come in?" Morgan said while knocking on the bedroom door. He entered after hearing Reid's yes. The walls of the room were covered in various movie posters and among them there were many nice paintings and aphorisms in their frames. He saw Reid sitting on his bed wearing plaited maroon pajama pants and a big white T-shirt, hair tucked behind his ears. He looked absolutely broken.
"If there's anything you need", Morgan said and put his hand on Reid's shoulder, "just give me a call, OK?" Reid looked mournfully in his eyes and nodded sadly.
"Good night", Morgan said and was about to go, "take care." He was at the bedroom door on his way out when he heard Reid call his name. He turned and saw a troubled expression on his colleague's face as he sat at the side of the bed, uncertain.
"Do you..." Reid said and looked down as he was trying to find the words. "Are you in a hurry?" Reid looked up again and swallowed. He seemed close to breaking down again. Morgan looked at him and understood what loneliness must feel like to him at this time.
"No", Morgan replied softly. "I've got all the time in the world." And he went to Reid and sat next to him on the bed. Reid smiled a little and stared at his own knees.
"Thanks", he whispered. "It's just... I don't know how to..." he swallowed again and shook his head. Morgan nodded and told him to get between the sheets. Reid did as he was told and soon he lay in the bed on his back, watching Morgan who was browsing some books by Reid's bedside.
"Light bedtime stories?" Morgan said and held out a book titled "Human Psyche: Ignorant or Ignored?"
Reid managed a vague smile.
"It's a very debated book", he said drowsily. "Haven't had time to read it yet."
Morgan smiled and put the book down. "I'm sure you'll enjoy it", he said. Then he looked at Reid for a moment. "Try to sleep", he said. "I'll just, uh..." he looked around to find a chair or something to sleep in.
"You can... We both fit in here", Reid said and made a gesture to the other side of the bed. Morgan shrugged and lay himself on top of the covers and sighed wearily. He hadn't slept much either. Reid turned the light out and they lay in the darkness. After a while they grew accustomed to it and the faint, pale light streaming in from the window seemed like it was coming from a bright lamp.
Reid closed his eyes and the room vanished around him until all that was left was utter darkness. He was back at the field. His heart was throbbing. Then, out of the darkness, he saw Hankel and watched his face turn from Tobias to his father and to Raphael in an eerily fast pace. He was back at the hut, he saw Hankel, he heard his personalities, he recalled the fear and pain. Hankel raised his gun, Reid was staring at the cold, dark barrel, and when he pulled the trigger, Reid gasped and sat up in his bed, breathing painfully fast.
Morgan was sleeping lightly and woke up instantly. He saw Reid panting in fear next to him and sat up as well. Reid didn't look at him. He tried to steady his breath but it was difficult. He could still hear Hankel's voice and in the dark he could almost see the gun being pointed at him. Choose.
"Can't sleep?" said Morgan and put his hand consolingly on Reid's shoulder. He started and turned his eyes on Morgan. He had forgotten that he was there.
"It..." Reid said, trying to catch his breath. "If I close my eyes I..." he shook his head and looked crestfallen.
Morgan pat his pillow. "Come on", he said. "We don't have to sleep. We can talk about it if you want to."
Reid lay down again and stared at the ceiling. Morgan supported himself on one elbow and eyed Reid worriedly.
"I can't close my eyes", Reid said very quietly. "It all comes back to me. I can see it all..." he swallowed a couple of times.
"I understand", Morgan said. "It's going to be hard for a while, but trust me, you'll get over it. And you will be stronger than ever."
Reid shook his head a little, still not looking at Morgan. They were silent for some time and Reid kept staring at the ceiling.
Morgan kept staring at him. His mind was filled with sorrow and anger when he saw the bruises and wounds on Reid's face and the endless misery in his eyes. In the pale light Reid's skin looked almost white – he was so pale, so pale and fragile, and the paleness only made the injuries stand out more.
"When something... bad happens", Reid said then, frowning slightly, as if thinking carefully what to say, "it makes you think... makes you understand how quickly it can all be over." Morgan watched him and said nothing. Reid continued. "I feel like... like I should do something, you know, tell people what they mean to me, let them know..."
"It's a good idea", Morgan said earnestly.
"The team", Reid said after a while, hesitantly, "you, all of you, are... important to me. I... it's good to know there's someone I can count on and I would do anything to protect you."
Morgan smiled with watery eyes. Reid's eyes were still fixed on the ceiling.
"I know", Morgan said quietly. "You have proved that in a way we all saw and there is not a praise high enough we could give you."
At last Reid turned his eyes on him and smiled a bit, maybe moved, but certainly with sad eyes. While Morgan had Reid's attention he continued.
"Seeing you there and knowing there was nothing we could do", he said and looked Reid straight in the eyes, "was more than any one of us could bare. You are very dear to us and we would be lost without you."
Reid's eyes glinted with tears again as he stared into Morgan's eyes. Morgan looked at his pale face and he thought he was beautiful – fragile, pale, wounded, slender. His hair was spread on the pillow and his eyes shone in the faint light, bright and broken, so broken. Morgan wanted to console him, to let him know he was important, dear, strong. Even his own eyes were teary as he brushed his cheek lightly and tenderly. Reid looked at him with a serious expression and didn't even blink when Morgan bowed his head and pressed his lips on his.
They closed their eyes. Reid's lips were slightly dry but Morgan didn't notice. He wasn't sure what was going on – the room had vanished, the bed had vanished, time had vanished. Even he himself had vanished and Reid was Reid no more. Everything seemed to have lost meaning. There was no status, no gender, just two people lost in eternity. In Reid's fragile form Morgan had seen something else, or maybe someone else. Maybe he had seen someone who didn't even exist, someone he needed to keep safe and console. Someone greater than life.
They kept kissing, softly, lightly. Reid had crossed his hands on his chest. He wasn't sure why he let it happen. Perhaps he needed to know that someone cared, that someone wanted to care. Maybe he needed someone to be close to him and show him that there was still love in the world. That there were people capable of being gentle. Somehow he had always subconsciously known the world to be a bad place and the recent events had made him lose contact to all things good, and this brought the good back to him. Soon he didn't even register it to be his colleague next to him – he became anonymous, formless, a mere feeling of care.
Deep in Morgan's subconscious a nasty feeling began to raise its head. It nagged at him, it called him with many terrible names. Morgan didn't approve abuse in any way, and yet there he was, kissing a person who was so sad and tired that he was easy to manipulate – Reid wasn't OK, his state of mind wasn't clear and he wasn't in a condition to think clearly. Morgan realised he was abusing Reid's sorrow, and he lifted his head from Reid's face, opening his eyes and feeling remorse.
Reid's eyes were still closed and Morgan was afraid of his reaction. It hadn't been intentional, not planned, not right. Slowly Reid opened his eyes and looked at Morgan with an unreadable expression on his face.
"Don't stop", Reid whispered very quietly and drew a shivering breath, eyes teary. Morgan opened his mouth to say something – to say it was wrong, that it shouldn't be happening. But seeing Reid's eyes was too much and he swallowed his tears and pressed his lips on his again. Morgan lay his other hand on Reid's crossed hands and could feel his slow breathing and the distant echo of his heartbeats.
After some time Morgan stopped again. Neither opened their eyes.
"You need to rest", Morgan whispered and lay his head on the pillow, eyes still shut.
"Yeah", Reid said so quietly that Morgan almost didn't hear him. They kept their eyes closed and Morgan let his hand lay on Reid's hands, and so they fell asleep, knowing that in the morning it would all be gone. Perhaps Reid knew that tonight was the last sober night without nightmares, a night of blissful ignorance. That night he didn't think. He didn't remember the Dilaudid in the bathroom, nor that he had no syringe. That night Hankel wasn't important and the past had no meaning. The next morning seemed to be so far way and the troubles of the coming days did not cross his mind.