A/n: I wrote this on a whim today. I have been reading a lot of stream-of-consciousness recently and thought that it might be fun to try. And when I tried to think of a situation in which it would be most appropriate, this is the one that comes to mind. I realize the fandom has beaten the "Reid on Drugs" trope to death, but I'm not quite over it!

Prompt: Reid at his very lowest point before recovery.

WARNINGS: Drug abuse, prostitution. Also, angst (but perhaps that's a given).

Disclaimer: I own nothing at all.

Thanks for reading!

The Bottom

Spencer realized he was on the metro some time after swiping his card through and climbing on. He was not sure where he was headed but the aching in his belly told him where he ought to go, and he looked down and was glad to see that he had put shoes on this time at least.

There was a woman sitting across from where he stood swaying in the middle of the platform with one hand gripping the overhead bar. She was wearing a purple hijab and he thought she was very pretty but she would look a lot nicer if she wasn't looking at him with that disdain on her face, her lips in one fine line and her eyebrows together. What did she care what he was doing, she should know he'd saved her life a lot of times from all the different UnSubs, you never knew where they were going to end up and D.C. was a pretty big tourist destination.

He was coming down pretty quick now and his heart wasn't racing like it should be, and he worried a little bit that it might stop altogether if he didn't get a pick-me-up. Which was kind of a silly thing to think. He could not be sure exactly what he was burning through like fever but the guy had said it was good so it must be good, after all he was a very trusted dealer of the area (he had checked on his computer just to be safe and then to be safer he deleted his computer history). Today was a kind of miserable day. Three more kids dead before they found the guy huddled in his apartment with a knife to the little girl's temple. At least she lived but she will never ever be the same because you can't be after something like that. It's too much.

He turned and looked at the map of the metro and stuck his finger on the stop that brought him to work every day, and then he turned and said very nicely to the pretty woman, "This is my stop."

"Good for you," she said, still very grouchy.

"Thank you," he said.

Somehow he got off the train at the right stop, and he stepped out into the dark and started to walk. He left his watch at home because it itched on his skin but it must be late because there was nobody out here but him and a lot of fine mist hanging over everything. It made the light posts shine and the orange glow moved like they were giant match sticks towering above him. A black SUV turned the corner in his direction. He ducked into the closest alleyway, scared that it was Morgan looking for him. Morgan had never been to his house but maybe he felt bad because of Emily telling him what he said about Gideon's letter and thought they should spend some time together. But when he got to the house nobody was there, and Spencer chuckled because he thought that Morgan wouldn't see anything at home but his badge and his gun (he didn't want to lose those yet. Well he did but not out on the street, only if he gave them back to Hotch), and he wouldn't even find his stuff because he had it all in his bag right now! Sagging back against the brick face, he picked up the leather flap of his bag and took out a bottle and unscrewed the little cap and took a long drink.

It was not good to mix drugs but drinking was okay because alcohol was not a drug technically and anyway he was coming off it now. For a while he had felt good but now he was starting to feel bad, bad like going into a friend's house late at night and finding his badge and gun and a letter with his own name on it. It was good to feel normal again, great at the beginning and then normal for a long time before he started to feel bad again. All he needed now was a friend and once he found one they could both feel better and then he had to go home and go to work in the morning. You see he had told himself that he needed more sleep because he had not slept in a few days and if Hotch caught him not all in his brain then he would fire him and so he needed to stop, but tonight he had a special treat after a long time of holding back because that poor little girl would never be the same and he knew what that was like.

He walked down the way past blurry bricks stacked high up toward the dark sky until he came upon a place where the women waited at night. If they were awake all night he wondered where they slept and when, because the sun was too bright during the day to even take a nap, and he had tried. Sleeping with a woman was one of the most wonderful things, even though you had to pay, and he sometimes thought that they really did like him. He did not hit them and he only said nice things and he always shared whatever he was using that night, and really what could be a better system than mutual consensual pleasure?

The ladies had pegged him the first time for preferring blondes but they were wrong. And then the brunette girl snagged his tie and called him handsome and asked if he could take care of her, and he said no again. And finally he got to know a girl with dark red hair named Sheri, who had a petite little nose like JJ but at least she didn't have platinum curls like her or concerned brown eyes like Emily. When he asked her name the first time she said Sherry like the drink but he always thought like ma chérie as it was a much more beautiful translation. Tonight he found her standing back away from the others with a cigarette sticking out from the crux of her fingers and sending smoke signals up into the cold air.

"Fancy seeing you on a Tuesday night," she said. "I always thought you more a Friday man."

His hands were in his pockets because the tremor had already begun coursing through him, an unbidden side effect of excitement and withdrawal's hesitation already falling over him like the building's shadow.

"Got home early."

"Well good for you. Walk with me, sweetheart."

She linked his arm and lead him off to their place, and he didn't look the motel manager in the eye when he paid him because you just never know if you'll see him again and he didn't want to remember him if he came back tomorrow on a case.

The room was dark and dingy and yellow from the desk lamp, and even though this was his first time in this room it was familiar because it was just like all the others. Even that fake Salvador Dali framed over the TV was the same in every room, except someone put their cigarette out in the bathtub and burned a black mark into the plastic. The room was musty smelling but Sherri's hair was very clean and when he kissed her he smelled that instead. Then he took a pit stop in the bathroom and when he came out he found she had gone through his bag because she knew he wouldn't hit her. He knew that sometimes people didn't think they could help themselves but he knew they could. Hitting someone, what a terrible terrible thing to do. She passed him his bottle and they both took a drink, and then she took off his tie and looped it around his arm while he dug through all the things he brought. Tonight he had a vial of something clearish that wasn't the pure dilaudid he liked because the serenity was not quite the same, but it was good enough. And it made him long for company like Sherri, so much he had to bite down with his nails on his knees to keep from jumping her now. He was coming down slow but sure and the part of him that hated himself most kept saying that maybe he should quit and call someone or something to just talk it out, but he also drank enough tonight to smother that part.

He shot up first. On the jet ride home he played cards with JJ and calculated how much he could take tonight and still be functional in the morning. It was two doses, two or three, and he couldn't remember how much he had taken tonight but it would take about a hundred thirty-two shots of espresso to kill him so he was probably good. The wave rolled over him before he even passed the vial and syringe over to Sherri and his limbs became heavy and his mind wonderfully blank and yet he had more energy and he was ready to go now right now. But he waited very patient until ma chérie dropped his tie down across the bed and draped herself across him with a breathy sigh.

"You got a condom, sweetheart?" she said because he always brought one or two at least.

"I don't know," he said. He always knew everything, or so they always said, and it was nice to not think of anything for a bit and just count the yellowy spackle dots on the ceiling.

She dug through his bag some more. "You're out," she said.

"That's okay," he said.

Very slowly she undressed him and he watched through eyes half-lidded and then they just went with it for a while. It was good and she didn't even mention how tight his chest was stretched over his ribs these days, and he knew it probably wasn't true but he let himself believe that she actually did like him because he was mostly harmless and he never even thought once about what it might be like to put a knife to her gut just to feel her blood—someone had thought that once! Someone… someone he knew, and it was very familiar but also far away and he pushed the thought out because it was just too much. Too too much.

He fell asleep after they were done acting like animals answering to their very basic instincts and when he woke up—

Sherri was gone, and so was his money. Spencer allowed himself to lay for a moment across the dirty queen-size bed before heaving himself upright. The sun was just pressing up against the blinds, a pinkish morning glow. He checked his bag a second time to make sure the rest of his belongings were there—he'd evidently left his gun and badge at home, along with everything worth more than his metro card.

The digital alarm clock read 5:49 in glowing green numbers. If he left now, he could get to the BAU and shower before the rest of the team got there. He had a towel and a change of clothes in his locker. He had a razor, too, and he hadn't bought new shaving cream in a while but he would have to make due for today. There was a coffee place on the way, too. What he wanted was green tea, but he could buy a few cups of coffee and drink them on the way, and then make some more in the bullpen before his shower (as long as Hotch hadn't arrived yet), and then have one more with the rest of the team before getting to work…

He was not even thirty and he had already begun destroying his life beyond visible repair. Spencer had not asked for this. Sometimes, on mornings like this when he woke up feeling just as swollen and empty as before, he forgot how he had gotten here. How he had tried, albeit feebly, to stop in the beginning, and now every moment after was a struggle. There was nobody to blame. Tobias—the name brought forth a wave of terrible nausea that had nothing to do with his combination hangover—was gone. The others must have thought him cured by now, it had been so long (and so had he, for a short time. Until the letter).

Spencer rubbed his eyes, climbed out of bed, dressed, packed his things, and left the room. He felt terrible for the maid who was to change the sheets and considered leaving a tip, until he recalled that all his cash had disappeared. So Spencer went down the concrete steps and handed his key over to the attendant, trying as he did to hide under his hair. Just before passing through the front door, he double-checked his sleeves.

He almost wished that someone on the team would notice and not say anything, just let him suffer on in silence. It was a terrible thing to wish upon the ones you loved, but the thought lingered still. It was far easier, after all, to carry on like this when you hate someone more than you hate yourself.


4 October 2011