Title: Comprehension
Rating: PG-13 (slight sexuality)
Pairing: Morgan/Reid
Disclaimer: Not mine, making no profit
Spoilers: Allusions to canon through 4x24, "Amplification"
Teaser: Five things it takes Spencer Reid too long to notice about Derek Morgan— and one he notices immediately. Or, five and one snapshots of a slowly developing relationship.


Morgan volunteers to pick Reid up from the airport when no one else is able.

He shows up in his sunglasses and casual clothes, often the first sight Reid sees after getting off the plane from whatever trip just ended, greets Reid with a grin and a jerk of his chin. He brings coffee the way Reid likes it if the plane lands between four in the morning and noon, and buys lunch or dinner after that window of time.

Reid says the first few (nine) times, "I'm an FBI agent, I can take care of myself" because his stunted pride demands it, and Morgan says, "You're our precious commodity, get in the car." He always looks too much like a club bouncer as he grabs Reid's bag and then walks off with the coffee, effectively winning the argument without even trying.

Even when the others are free, Morgan often takes the 'keep the genius safe' job on himself. Even if it means clearing his off-work schedule.

By the time it becomes habit, no one thinks anything of it, least of all Reid.

Morgan matches Clooney's calendar to his work schedule.

This doesn't come up until years after they meet, until the dog stays overnight at the vet's office and Morgan works long past needed (or officially allowed).

Impulsive, still wide-awake, Reid lingers in the office, reading files he can recite without thinking and glancing too often at the man he's attempting to keep company.

Because Morgan staying late isn't an uncommon occurrence— but how he's acting is.

He glances at the door an average of three times an hour, rubs his right thumb back and forth along his pen without an excuse of having anything to sign, and rolls his shoulders too often. He repeatedly raises the mug of coffee he refills every hour and a half to take a sip but rarely does, instead puts it back down and fiddles with the handle. He rolls his chair one way and then another, picks the neckline of his shirt, and doesn't speak a word unless Reid speaks first.

"Is Clooney okay?" Reid finally asks, unsure what he's trying to do but trying anyway. He's only attempted to have a pet once, a goldfish that had lasted four days, and a dog is utterly foreign. But Morgan's knowingly devoted to the dog and Morgan's a friend and it makes sense that he's worried if Morgan's worried.

"Nothing bad, just got into a fight with another dog protecting his daddy. Back leg needed some stitches." Morgan slashes the pen across a form that won't be due for weeks, shrugs and doesn't look up from his desk. "He's going to be wearing one of those cone things. Last time he needed one, it was the most pathetic thing you've ever seen." He finally glances up, mouth quirked easily. "This way I can pick him up on the way home."

"You're going to stay all night?"

"I needed to catch up on paperwork anyway." There's no paperwork to catch up on. "Here, I'm out." He pushes to his feet with awkwardness he rarely displays and grabs his mug. Grabs Reid's mug as well on the way to the coffee before he even finishes asking, "Want a refill?"

Muddled, uncertain, Reid doesn't ask anything else, accepts the coffee brought back without question.

Spends the rest of the night glancing carefully at Morgan, counting the nervous tics that he hasn't seen before.

Morgan usually chooses him when they're forced to share a room.

JJ and Emily often do the same even when they don't have to so he thinks nothing of it the first time, the second or the third. And the habits seen when they share a room are slight, mean nothing when considering the fact that their work will never provide any of them with a better sense of security— Reid himself checks the locks three times before he can go to bed at home, makes sure his phone is nearby and makes sure there's some light to see by if he needs to get up at night even if he's not spooked.

Information is noted, discarded, until Chicago.

Of course Reid is the best to share the room with him their next case, both because Morgan seems to prefer him to anyone else and because Reid knows himself to be the physical embodiment of non-threatening. Hotch glances at him once before they split up, even more watchful in the new distance between himself and Morgan, but then Reid's left alone to handle anything that may come up.

But in the hotel, there's nothing.

The usual habit of checking the lock too many times and checking in with their team members one last time before he shuts the light off is gone and Morgan falls into bed earlier than usual. He sleeps heavily without stirring for an hour before Reid closes his laptop and takes the other bed, slides under the sheets tenser than he usually is in this position.

But Reid's been a light sleeper as long as he can remember— so he's wide awake and instantly alert hours later because of quiet movement, the click of a door being closed.

The alarm clock blinks 2:04 some feet away and there's a light on under the bathroom door.

Reid lays frozen for a moment, considering, before glancing towards the other bed, taking in covers that have been flipped back instead of rumpled up the way they usually are. He has a second to blink at the realization, at the fact that he so clearly missed it— then the light in the bathroom is flipped off again, and Reid immediately closes his eyes, feigns sleep. Lays quiet and hears Morgan walk back through the room to the door that leads out into the hall, and then a moment of silence. Hears metal brush metal as the door handle is fiddled with, as the door limiter is flipped open and then closed again. He hears too quick footsteps as Morgan walks a circuit around the room, back and then forth and back again a handful of times, and then a body collapsing on the other bed.

There's the sound of fabric shifting, rustling, the body under the sheets agitated.

The noise keeps going through one hour, two.

Reid dozes, half-aware of the constant noise and tired enough to get some rest anyway, able to process what he's listening to after a lifetime of needing to know such things. He wakes up fully when the noise stops a little after five, lifts his head and squints until he can make out Morgan's shape in the slight green light, silently traces the lines of the stiff form under the covers as Morgan faces the door in his sleep.

Impulsive, sure of himself, Reid snags Morgan's phone off the dresser between them to silence it.

Puts his own on vibrate in the hopes of letting Morgan sleep a little longer before they head out.

Morgan's never truly drunk around them.

Reid himself doesn't drink that much, previous reason being that drinking makes him feel even more uncomfortable in his skin than he usually does and now because it's too close to other mind-numbing states, but he goes along willingly when the others apply the slightest pressure.

JJ and Emily perch on either side of him like mother hens protecting the baby bird sheltered (smothered) between them, one sipping her drinks too firmly and the other tossing them back too gracefully. When Morgan's at the table, he sits opposite Reid, sometimes drums his fingers on the surface and flashes Reid his best Cheshire grin through the night. Not that he's always at the table, since he spends so much time prowling the other areas of the bar. He has no physical type that Reid can figure out, no feature he seems to search for, but women gravitate to him from the minute they enter whatever bar they're in for the night, approach him and lead him out to the groups.

If Morgan really likes one, he brings her back to the table.

Tonight her hair is red (a dye job) and her nails are black (real and not acrylic under the paint) and she drapes along Morgan's side and smiles with genuine warmth at Reid across the table. He knows the expression, the 'you're so cute, I want to pet your hair' in the curve of her mouth as she asks, "are you really a doctor?" and "you work with Derek?" and "where did you go to school?"

Morgan smirks at him over the table the entire time, and vaguely, Reid notes that he always does that, too.

Two hours in, the woman's obviously bored but smiling into Morgan's neck, her hip next to his and her hand somewhere in his lap. (Thigh, judging by the position, the way the muscles in her bare arm flex.) Reid hears her say, "you should finish your drink" and sees more than hears Morgan's chuckle across the table. Watches him raise the glass to his mouth and take what looks like a long swallow, throat moving.

When the glass is set down, there's still the same amount of alcohol inside, dark line identical to where it was ten seconds before as he exchanges words with JJ and Emily, makes a crack at their expense and then gets to his feet, moving too steadily. Helps her to her feet, helps her perform a twirl, and then they're gone.

On the opposite side of the table, the half-full glass is left behind.

Morgan circles him like a hawk after a close call.

On the sidelines and deceptively calm, Morgan always stares too hard at anyone not a member of their team that comes near Reid even after the dust settles. Never openly hostile, he's too professional and too good at his work for that, but always vigilant and always present in the aftermath. Once assured that things have quieted, he brings food and coffee the way Reid likes it. Meets his eyes without hesitation and settles nearby in an unspoken promise to offer whatever support may be needed.

Because that's how it always is, from the beginning, Reid accepts it as a simple fact.

Then Morgan brings him Chinese food.

The food is nothing to be surprised by— Morgan's been a constant since he woke up days before, keeps putting on soap operas and running communication when the others can't visit, busy smoothing the last loose ends. And Reid can admit if only to himself how nice it is to be on the other side of the fence, to be cared for instead of having to give care, be responsible, make sure things follow a carefully arranged schedule.

But improbably irritated by the sight of the chopsticks being pulled from the bag after the food, blaming it on non-stop daytime television that Morgan insists is "gripping television" and the lack of anything to hold his attention, he blinks and hears, "—want more, you can steal some off me."

He blinks a second time in sudden confusion, finds Morgan smirking at him. "I'm sorry?"

"Food," Morgan explains very calmly, "I got you a plate but if you want more, there are cartons." Reid glances down at the Styrofoam container by his leg, shifts his attention when a hand drops onto his leg. A thumb rubs an easy circle into the fabric that covers him, fingers squeezing his leg reassuringly. "—owe me dinner when you get out of here anyway, enjoy my money while you can."

Morgan's hand lingers for nearly a minute, warm weight through the sheet matching the lift of his mouth, the glint of amusement in his eyes— then it's gone.

Too aware of the odd sensation of loss that follows, Reid watches Morgan open his chopsticks and click them together a few times lazily. Sit back in his chair and start picking through the noodles with something suspiciously close to a smirk.

Flustered, Reid pulls the plate onto his lap, fingering the place where the top fits into the bottom for a moment. Glances at Morgan a final time and ducks his head at the increasingly amused stare and then opens the container, taking in the food. Blinks a third time. Studies the object on top of the food— "You brought me a real utensil."

"I just brought you a real fork," Morgan corrects with something that feels like embarrassment as he lifts onions and noodles from the cartoon, too focused on his food and obviously reluctant to meet Reid's gaze. "And chopsticks are real utensils even if some people can't use them."

Reid glances down at the offering again. Considers. Processes.

Looks for the first time directly at his previous mental notes and can't think of anything to say besides offering a "thanks" that sounds a little rough even to his ears.

Decides to blame the anthrax for the way he fumbles with the fork, the way his leg shifts restlessly, nervously, under the sheets as he glances one last time at Morgan.

The white shock's easing, lazy contentment slowly curling through his insides, when Morgan arches his back without lifting away. Pauses for a moment to mouth the flushed skin that covers Reid's collarbone and then puffs a noisy breath into the hollow, presses his forehead into the bend of Reid's throat with a force that could be painful but isn't at all. Doesn't burrow, exactly, but comes close.

It's a constant from the beginning, and now it's habitual.

Reid reaches up on instinct, fingers the skin at the base of Morgan's skull without thinking. Hears a ragged pleased breath and feels a palm smooth with clumsy tenderness up his arm to squeeze the nape of his neck before the easy weight lifts off him, slides to the side and pulls him along. An arm folds across his chest to draw him nearer and his eyes are already closing, his body feeling heavy and comfortable.

"Hope you'll miss me when you're gone."

"Only a two day conference." He almost manages to get one eye open for a moment but then gives up, burrows down into the covers as they're pulled and tugged into place over them. Presses back against the body holding him, carelessly skims a palm down Morgan's arm. "I'll be back in three days."

"You could take me with you."

In the 'reliable caretaker' voice he had perfected before the age of ten: "No." Morgan immediately huffs a breath into his hair, half-asleep and stubborn, but says nothing because this is just his tendency to protect. Something Reid understands a bit more than he always likes to, how draining it is. "We should really go shower," he adds vaguely even as he huddles closer, savors the warm weight, all likelihood of getting out of the bed lost. "You should help me be a responsible adult."

"We can be adults later." A mouth presses with clumsy warmth to his shoulder, Morgan languid and unashamed of it. "After you get back." A beat. "I could sic Clooney on you, have my boy take you down before the flight."

"He loves me more."

"Because you bribe him."

"It's not my fault your dog is easily brought with dog biscuits."

A mumble, barely coherent, mouthed into his skin.

He manages to stay awake until Morgan finally falls asleep, his thumb stroking the curve of Morgan's wrist until the arm relaxes and the last tension in his body drains away. He knows without checking that Clooney's settled in the hall the way he is some nights now, no longer the only one allowed in the room with the door chain— just in case— when Morgan's asleep, and he thinks, fuzzily, of how Morgan will be waiting when he gets back.

Assured, calmed, Reid finally sleeps.