Derek stood at the door to his colleague's apartment. He'd been standing there about seven minutes, and worry was beginning to set in. After knocking on the door about five times to no response, he started to get concerned. But not wanting to jump to conclusions, he waited.
Once he began to hear quiet cries of pain, panic sent shivers down his spine. Almost immediately, he bent down and retrieved the spare key from underneath an old doormat.
Even despite having an eidetic memory and the ability to read 20,000 words a minute, Spencer Reid could be quite predictable. Derek unlocked the door, stepping inside slowly. It was dark, and the pungent smell of vomit hung bitterly in the air. "Reid? …Reid, where are you?"
Derek looked around slowly. Nothing seemed out of place, until he glanced down the hallway and saw a door cracked open ever so slightly with a sliver of light projected out onto the carpeted floor. "Reid, is that you?"
He stepped forward hesitantly, pushing the door open and peering inside. What he saw shocked him.
With eyes wide and full of upset, Derek watched his colleague pull himself up to the rim of the toilet seat shakily and cough violently into the murky water. The cough seemed to trigger his gag reflex, as not two seconds later he was retching into the toilet bowl. Tremors shook his thin body and long tendrils of hair fell into his face, but Spencer didn't notice. He continued to heave until his stomach gave way to every ounce of fluid inside him and then some.
A sob was muffled against the young doctor's hand as he wiped his mouth with his palm. He continued to kneel, hunched over the toilet with his forehead pressed against the cool seat. Despite the mild germophobe that he was, Spencer didn't pay any mind to the bacteria that could be teeming where he rested his head.
The pain caused by the force of vomiting on broken ribs tended to have a distracting effect on a person.
"P-please, make it stop," he whispered in between cries of pain, and it was only then that Derek began to comprehend what he was seeing. And it was obvious. Reid, his genius boy, his pretty boy, his Reid was in the throes of withdrawal.
And he began to realize the team never should have left him alone so soon.
A startled jump caused another whimper of pain to escape Reid's lips as Derek placed a hand on his small shoulder. "Reid, it's okay, it's just me. It's Morgan. I came to check on you," he said reassuringly.
Spencer didn't reply. Eyes fixated on the water, he stayed as still as possible as his stomach flipped inside him. If the vomit remained in his stomach, it wouldn't cause such agony to his ribcage. Unfortunately, there wasn't any bile left in his stomach to get rid of, and it left him lurched over and dry heaving nothing but air.
He screamed from the utter pain of his abdomen tightening and his knuckles, gripping tightly to cool porcelain, turned white.
Derek waited patiently until his friend calmed down, the heaving devolving into coughing that then turned back into the desperate cries for help that he'd heard before he entered.
With a gentle tug, Morgan pulled Reid out of his kneeling position and into a seated one on the floor, allowing the younger man to lean against him for support and trying carefully not to put pressure on his ribs.
Derek wrapped his arms around him in an attempt to stop the shaking and soothe the sobs.
"I-it hurts s-so bad…make it s-stop, please…" he begged sadly, holding onto Morgan like he was all he had left. And despite desperate nails digging into his shoulder and tears staining his clean, gray shirt, Morgan stayed. Despite the smell of vomit hanging thickly in the room, and the yellow tinged liquid on the corners of Reid's dry, cracked lips, he stayed.
"It's alright, Reid…I'm here now. I can help it go away," Derek consoled him quietly. "I'll make it go away, Spencer…"
And then a pause. Derek realized, much to his surprise, he'd never used Spencer's first name. It was always Reid. Or kid. Or even, when the situation was appropriate, pretty boy. But never Spencer.
But at that moment, seeing him so frail and shattered, shivering in his arms, he wasn't strong, intelligent Reid. He wasn't the computerized genius kid.
He was human, fragile, and ever so breakable.
That was something Derek had never seen before. And it was something he never wished to see again.
He felt almost as broken as the young doctor in his arms at having to witness him in such pain. It killed him inside.
His Spencer didn't deserve that. His kind, gentle, awkward Spencer didn't deserve anything close to that. And it wasn't fair.
Rattling coughs shook Derek from his thoughts and he looked down. With slender, trembling hands, Spencer was trying to pull himself back up to the toilet, even though there wasn't anything left in him to vomit anymore.
Much like before, he was wracked by harsh, dry heaves that brought tears back to his eyes. Derek pulled him back down to the same spot he was in and wrapped his arms tighter around his chest to keep him still and lessen the pain. "Deep breaths, baby boy, deep breaths. It'll stop. Just calm down."
Spencer breathed in through his nose, trying desperately to relax against Morgan's warm, strong arms. The bitter sting of bile burned in his sinuses and his body ached but after a few slow breaths, he calmed down a bit. "Please stay," he murmured through shallow, paced breaths.
"I'm not going anywhere, Spence," Derek promised, running a hand through the younger man's hair to get it out of his face. "I refuse to leave you here alone like this. Your couch is gonna be my home for the next few days. I'll take care of you."
Any solace Spencer found from those words was guilt-ridden, and not as comforting as it should've been. "I'm s-so sorry…" he cried. Derek shook his head.
"Don't cry, baby boy," he said softly. "If you get all worked up, it's only gonna hurt worse." Carefully placing one arm under Reid's shoulder and the other on his torso, Derek stood up, bringing a still trembling doctor up with him.
Before a single step could be taken forward, Spencer's knees buckled under the added stress of supporting even only some of his body weight. If Derek hadn't been ready to catch him, he'd have crumpled to the floor in an excruciating heap. That small event was enough to shake Spencer to cry even harder than he already was, sending more pain shooting through his abdomen.
Derek bit his lip. He'd never witnessed Reid in so much distress. The young genius was typically calm and collected, but as he shook in Derek's grasp, he was far from. Realizing he couldn't walk back to his bedroom on his own, Morgan gingerly picked Reid up, carrying him into the dark room.
As the light from the bathroom disappeared and he made his way down the dark hallway, he could feel Spencer's nails digging into his back. He'd forgotten the doctor's fear of darkness under the circumstances, and immediately felt guilty for not having turned on a lamp or something to that effect ahead of time.
Trying to distract him, Morgan spoke. "Do you remember when you, JJ, and I were talking about our fears? And she said the woods. " He tried to laugh, despite the situation. "She told us all about when she was a camp counselor and she worked the night shift. And she found that blood trail? That the caretaker supposedly stabbed the camp director?"
Spencer nodded slowly. He couldn't tell whether it was from him trying to forget about the current situation, or from the sheer exhaustion of retching all night.
"I couldn't believe she'd made the whole thing up. It was so believable," Derek said. He'd made it to the bedroom and turned so Spencer wouldn't hit the door as he walked inside. "Did you think she was lying?" Expecting another nod, he looked down.
What he saw, however, put the first real smile on his face that night. With eyes closed and breathing slowly returning to a regular rhythm, Spencer Reid had fallen asleep in his arms. He was still soaked in a thin layer of sweat that left his shirt sticking to his chest and his face was still etched with pain, but at least he wasn't shaking or convulsing anymore.
Derek stepped around the stacks of textbooks and notebooks scattered in piles on the floor and gently laid the tired genius on his bed, pulling up the blanket around his small frame. He turned, walking to the other side of the room when he heard a small whisper.
"Please don't go."
"I'm not, baby boy. I'm not going anywhere. I promise."
And he didn't.
Through the fits of convulsion that left Spencer tangled in his sheets, he stayed. Through nightmares of Tobias Henkel that left him screaming from the very depths of his insides, he stayed.
Derek sat next to that bed the whole night, because he refused to break a promise to the only man who meant the world to him.
The only man who needed him.
The only man he ever loved, and ever would've given his life for.
Fragile, breakable genius Spencer Reid.