Title: From Nine to One
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating: FRM, R (profanity, adult content, drug use)
Pairing: Reid/Elle (friendship)
Summary: The hardest thing is admitting that you're powerless.
ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.
Feedback always welcome.
DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.
TIMELINE: Season Two's "The Boogeyman" through 4th Season's "Pleasure is my Business".
COMMENTS: March 2009. I have no idea where this came from.
"To find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing." -
- Baltasar Gracian
After submitting her resignation the BAU, Elle had gone down to Miami. The short-staffed field office was thrilled to have another agent, even if said agent had arrived under questionable circumstances.
"Psyche profile?" scoffed the unit chief that first day. "Shit, Greenaway, you were BAU. You could fake your way through one of those in your sleep!"
She supposed he was right. And for a while, she had found a new home. A new family. People who watched her back as diligently as she watched theirs.
It was all good.
Did you know the average high temperature of Las Vegas in December is fifty-eight degrees Fahrenheit while in Quantico, it is forty-seven? Quantico, of course, has a higher amount of precipitation. Personally, I miss snow-less winters the most. You won't have to worry about that in Miami, since the average there is seventy-six.
The bullet ripped through Elle's right shoulder, causing her to spin to the side and drop to her knees. She looked up just in time to see her partner take down the UnSub with a single shot.
"Get paramedics here now! I've got an agent down!" her partner shouted into his set as he rushed to the UnSub and kicked the gun away. He then came back to her, kneeling down, holstering his weapon, and pressing his hands against her wound. "Damn, Elle. So fucking sorry. My fault. I should have taken point. Totally my fault."
Instantly, flashbacks of the last time Elle had been shot flittered through her mind.
Hotch had never apologized for sending her home alone. Hamilton hadn't either, perhaps reasoning that the potted plant had been enough. And Gideon? The one who broke the rules? He hadn't said a damn thing. Yet the least guilty in the whole affair - Reid - had begged forgiveness.
She met her partner's worried gaze. "You got him. I'll be okay."
It started out simply as pain and sleep management. Percocet for her shoulder as she recovered from the gunshot wound. Temazepam for the insomnia. And just like she had when dealing with her injuries at the hands of Randall Garner, Elle washed them down with Tanqueray London Dry.
Every night. Like clockwork.
When the paranoia kicked in, she went to see a different doctor - a psychiatrist in Fort Lauderdale and paid for it out of her own pocket. She didn't want this to show up on her insurance. She was prescribed diazepam.
When Elle's Percocet prescription ran out and her doctor refused the refill, she switched to a physician recommended by one of the guys on the unit. "He gets it," was the explanation. "Those others? Too fucking conservative!"
Her new doctor even added in Dexedrine for those mornings when Elle needed a bit more than just caffeine to get started. She paid him in cash and thought nothing of it.
Percocet, Temazepam, Diazepam, and Tanqueray in the evening.
Dexedrine and Tanqueray in the morning.
After all, Tanqueray went with everything.
What was wrong with that?
I want to make amends for the Randall Garner case...
Percocet, Temazepam, Diazepam, and Tanqueray in the evening.
Dexedrine and Tanqueray in the morning.
Dexedrine and Tanqueray at lunch.
After all, Tanqueray went with everything.
What was wrong with that?
Remember what you said after that case in Texas? Well, you were right. I think my FBI career now officially qualifies as a drinking game. I was held hostage. Again.
Elle charged around the corner, gun drawn. Her partner was right behind her. The only light in the alley came from a street lamp, but it wasn't bright enough to eliminate all the shadows.
"FBI!" she yelled.
The UnSub turned, his right hand swinging up.
The UnSub fell.
Her partner rushed forward, the beam of his flashlight dancing on the ground. "Shit!" he snapped.
"No weapon, Elle. Motherfucker didn't have a weapon."
We're in Florida for a case. You still owe me an authentic Cuban sandwich and a shot of good Tequila. We should be done in a few days. Let me know if you don't want me to stop by.
Reid was just as awkward now as he had been two years ago. The only thing that had really changed was his hair. It was longer now and, of all things, transformed him into a very attractive young man. Elle giggled. Since when had Reid become sexy?
"It's good seeing you," she said and grabbed his hand. "Really good seeing you." She took a swig of her Tanqueray on ice. Reid hadn't touched the El Tesoro de Don Felipe Platinum Tequila she had ordered for him. "Come on, Reid! You wanted that shot! I'm holding up my end of the bet."
He covered her hands with his. Odd. Reid guarded his personal space ferociously. Quietly, he said, "I read about the inquiry."
The smile fell from her face. She slammed her glass down on the table. She pulled her hand away. "Don't go there, Reid."
"You're my friend." He said it so earnestly.
Elle glared at him. "This was a mistake."
She got up, surprised that her legs weren't exactly cooperating. Elle wobbled as she dug out two twenties from her purse and dropped them on the table. "This was a huge mistake."
"Please." He touched her elbow.
She flinched. She pulled out her keys.
Reid plucked them from her hand. "You're not driving."
"Fuck you, Reid."
He folded his arms across his chest. " You're not driving," he repeated firmly, even though his eyes had that particular wounded look. "I'm sorry I brought up the shooting but... But I didn't know how else to... Well... you... you're not yourself."
"You have no idea who I am."
"Yes. I do. And right now, you need help."
"Stop profiling me."
"It doesn't take a profiler to recognize an addiction."
She inhaled sharply. Her lips then thinned. "You have no idea what you're talking about. No fucking clue." She stormed over to the hostess counter. "Call me a cab," she demanded and the hostess hastily nodded. Elle turned back to Reid. "There. I'm not driving. Now, give me back my goddamn keys."
"Just go back up to Quantico, Reid. You don't belong here. I don't need your fucking pity."
"Please, Elle. I'm your friend. We can go back to your place and..."
"You are not welcome in my home, Reid. Ever. Now give me my fucking keys."
I meant what I said at the restaurant. I understand more than you think. I'd like to tell you a story, but it's one that can only be told in person or on the phone. I'm still your friend.
"You need a vacation," Elle's unit chief said after he closed the door to his office and sat down next to her. Odd, since he usually delivered his proclamations from behind his desk.
Just like Hotch used to. But this chief was nothing like the stoic, stick-up-the-ass Elle had once worked for. This chief actually gave a shit about her.
Her chief continued, "Three weeks. Unofficial but mandatory. You look like shit and your perfume as of late has been Eau d'Booze."
"I am fine." She enunciated each word as she glared at him.
"Elle, you're a helluva agent," he said. "But you got some serious problems. I thought you would work them all out on your own. I was wrong." He handed her a pamphlet. "Twenty-one days. Get yourself straightened out. I promise you it won't show up on your records."
"Did Reid fucking call you? I swear to God, I'll kill that skinny son of a bitch."
"No one called, Elle." He scrubbed his face with his hands. "Actually, your partner wanted to do an intervention. I said I wanted to talk to you first. You're a very private woman and I respect the hell out of you. I figured you'd listen better if we did it like this." He pulled his chair around so that he was facing her. "That asshat in Quantico was stupid enough to let you go. Well, I'm willing to fight for you, but you're gonna have to make a choice."
"What do you want, Elle?" He grasped her hands. "The booze or the job? It's that simple. You can't have both."
She willed herself not to cry. She whispered, "This is all I have."
"And that's why I don't want you to lose it."
The hardest thing is admitting that you're powerless. I'll be here when you're ready.
Elle didn't have a problem. No. Way. She was handling herself just fine.
Her unit chief hadn't demanded a psyche profile, but she also recalled what he had said when they had initially met. He knew she could easily outwit whoever was giving her the assessment. Still, Elle knew she had to show that she was at least doing something and then he would back off, letting her return to work.
Three weeks. Three meetings. She would even ask them to sign a paper as proof of attendance.
That night, she dreamed of the BAU, but all she could remember clearly was the kitchenette bulletin board.
The next morning, she booked a flight to Virginia. There was no way in hell Elle was going to go to effectively pull off her plan in her own backyard.
Elle walked up to the entrance four times before finally going in. She didn't know why she was so nervous.
This is just like undercover, girl, she told herself. You play a role. Hell, you haven't had your pills or your Tanqueray since last night. If you were really the person that your unit chief thought you were, you'd be climbing the walls by now. You're not.
The name of the group was positively moronic. Beltway Clean Cops? Seriously. However, it fit perfectly for what she needed. She patted her purse to reassure herself she had the sign-in sheet she had created at the hotel.
"Welcome," a man said warmly. A clipboard was tucked underneath his other arm, pages sheaved in battered clear plastic.
"Thanks," Elle replied.
"Glad you could join us."
She just nodded, not trusting her voice.
"You can take a seat anywhere." He gestured towards the group. Elle was surprised just how crowded it was but not that the men significantly outnumbered the women. "Meeting's about to start. You don't have to introduce yourself if you don't want to. We're pretty laid back here."
She gave him a slight smile as she quickly surveyed the room. There was an empty chair the last row, only two in from the aisle. Perfect.
Elle took a step forward. Then the person in the chair next to the one she was eyeing turned towards her. He looked into her eyes.
Her mouth dropped open. Her heart hammered in her chest.
Spencer Reid stood and faced her. His eyes went wide but he quickly schooled his features into a neutral yet welcoming expression. He held out his hand, palm up.
It doesn't take a profiler to recognize an addiction.
Elle wanted to turn and run. She wasn't sure why she didn't.
"I meant what I wrote." His gaze was steady as was his voice, sounding world-weary and wiser than he had any right to be, yet still soft and just for her.
Elle accepted his hand as she sat next to him. She didn't let it go the rest of the evening.
"You had a story to tell me," Elle whispered as she huddled, fully clothed, in the bathtub of her hotel room.
She was expecting Reid (she couldn't bring herself to call him Spencer) to be nervous, but instead, he was sitting calmly on the floor, next to the toilet. Four empty pill bottles were lined up on the rim of the bathtub. She had flushed their contents in front of him to convince him she was serious about her sobriety.
She could always get refills in Miami. He would never know.
Her hotel room, thankfully, didn't have a mini-bar. He had explained that due to the downturn in the economy, many hotel chains were doing away with that particular practice. Elle had learned after her first six months working with him that it was best not to question just how he knew things.
Reid sighed and gazed at his hands. "Dilaudid."
Stunned, she stuttered, "Drugstore heroin? How the hell..."
"I did tell that you my career could be turned in to a drinking game," he said with a lopsided grin. "It was a case in Georgia."
One moment, Elle was standing by the air conditioning unit in her hotel room and screaming at Reid how much she hated him, Hotch, JJ, Garcia, and most especially Morgan and Gideon.
"Look at what they did to me!" She pulled off her blouse and pointed to her scars.
The next, she was stretched out on the hotel bed with Reid's fingers gently pressed against her throat as he spoke urgently into his cell phone. After he hung up, he looked down at her as his hand that had been - what? Checking her pulse? - settled comfortingly on her bare shoulder.
Reid said softly, "I'm sorry, Elle. I'm so sorry."
She had no clue what he meant until the paramedics showed up.
"You have a really good friend, sweetheart," the nurse said as she checked the monitor besides Elle's bed.
"He's a pompous prick who thinking he knows fucking everything," Elle fired back despite the gumminess of her mouth. It was the first time any of the attendants had addressed her beyond the 'no, ma'am, you can't discharge yourself' in response to her demands. Elle swore to God she was going to kill Reid for whatever he had told them to keep her here. "And he'll tell you he knows everything."
The nurse shook her head a little as she faced her. "You're lucky he does know everything," she replied. "Quitting cold turkey is admirable, but your body was so used to that special little cocktail, well..."
"What? You're saying he saved my life?" Elle asked mockingly.
The nurse crossed her arms. "What do you think, Ms. Greenaway?"
It was, perhaps, the ugliest bouquet Elle had ever seen. No sane florist would ever put that combination together and put them in a plastic hospital pitcher. Obviously, they were from Reid and she wondered how the hell he managed to sneak them in after she had refused to see him all six times he'd shown up.
It took her a while to recognize all the blooms: azalea, begonia, Black-eyed Susan, geranium, gladiolus, hibiscus, hyacinth, hydrangea, iris, peony, and yarrow.
She didn't even want to think what he was trying to tell her.
A knock at the door jerked her attention away from the flowers. An orderly stood in the doorway. "You have a visitor."
She knew that it was Reid. She glanced at the clock on the wall: quarter after one. "What? Dad let him go by himself for lunch?"
The orderly raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. "Yes or no, Ms. Greenaway."
She spat out a yes before rolling her eyes, crossing her arms, and focusing her gaze on anywhere in the room besides where Reid was likely to sit.
"Actually, 'Dad' left the Bureau more than two years ago," Reid said. She heard his shoes squeaking on the linoleum as he walked into the room and settled in to the chair. "Hotch is more of a 'Mom' with drill sergeant leanings."
It was the first time he'd mentioned the team, outside the story he told about Georgia.
She swung her gaze to him. She wondered if he was waiting for a laugh.
"You brag to them about all this?" Elle gestured to the room. "How you rescued me?"
He narrowed his eyes slightly. "I haven't told anyone and I wouldn't." He paused. "I won't, unless you wanted me to."
"Fuck, no." She stared at him, waiting for him to look away or nervously fidget or do something so Reid-like so she could reminder herself that she was always better than him.
However, Reid's expression was infuriatingly neutral, one she swore he could never master. His hands were folded in his lap. His messenger bag was on the floor next to the chair. She couldn't stand it. She wanted to see that pure wounded look that made him look like he was twelve instead of twenty-whatever.
Elle jutted her chin towards the flowers. "Kind of schizophrenic. Channeling your mother now?"
Reid did flinch, but it was minute. Still, she smirked. He then met her gaze with an intense one of his own. "You don't have to do this alone."
"Stop with the therapist crap, Reid. I'm not in the mood for how you scored a perfectly on your recovery test and how you can guide me along the path of sobriety."
He snorted. "Actually, I convinced myself that the others wouldn't notice. When they didn't say anything for so long, I thought they had no clue. Instead, they were waiting for me to figure it out for myself. After all, I am a genius."
Reid shrugged and then looked off into the distance.
"Did you know that I was this-close to being arrested? My supply had run out again and the dealer I had been using had gotten fired from the hospital a week before. So, I tracked down one of his associates. Set up the meeting. Withdrew my cash. Made my way down there.
"It turned out it was a sting operation." He huffed out a rueful laugh. "The lead detective recognized me from a consult we had done about a year prior. He pulled me aside and said he'd let me off if I promised to... get help.
"It's really sad when your own family turns a blind-eye to your problems yet someone you met just once gives you a kick in the ass. I checked in to a short-term rehab facility for that weekend." He turned his gaze back to her. "I wasn't perfect, Elle. I'm still not. There are days that the cravings are so bad that I want to chain myself to a wall so I won't... well... go back there.
"When I saw you... I didn't want you to go through what I did. Alone."
He stretched out a hand towards her - palm open and up - the same gesture from the night of the meeting.
"I get it, Elle. And it's not from some book I read or class I attended. I get it. I'm you're friend. I'll be here."
I'm transferring to the Kansas City office. Next time you're in town, I'll treat you to authentic KC-style ribs. By the way, today makes 104.
***/*** Finis ***/***