Absence Felt Part 1 Medicated and Motivated

It had been a tense few weeks, Reid thought to himself as he bought another container of Tums, this would mark his second said purchase of the item within the past two weeks. The look he gets when he's at the counter confirms it, he'll have to find another pharmacy between home and the BAU to restock.

Entering the office, he did what was slowly becoming a hobby. He'd pop two Tums, down a coffee, take another Tums, then at the next coffee, take two more. It had been a stressful week last week, the air had seemed off…

…Losing JJ, it made sense, now that he could pinpoint where that stress seemed to originate from, and his body? It was a natural physiological response to the stress and loss. He chewed on his two Tums, glad he opted for the Berry-flavored mix.

"Reid, my office." Hotch mentions as he passes by him to hand Morgan a stack of five folders.

Reid stands, palming two more Tums and a coffee, and makes his way to Hotch's office no faster than Hotch himself does.

Inside the office, the blinds vent in some of the outside environment of the bullpen, enough to see that no less than two heads were gawking in the direction of the boss's office. Reid turned from overlooking the bullpen to looking at Hotch sitting behind his desk.

"You've been taking a lot of those lately."

"It's been a stressful two weeks." Reid defends, honestly he'd had this same conversation with himself at least a dozen times.

Hotch gives him a stern look, which doesn't seem to phase Reid as he's used to this level, he considers this the quasi-normal resting state of Hotch's eyes.

"You take them with each coffee, you drink about seven cups of coffee when you're in the office, and I know you get a coffee before you come in, at lunch, and probably when you get home. That's far above the recommended dosage."

"It gives guidelines, true, but they also have as consulted by your doctor. I am a doctor."

"Not that kind. Reid, we've been through this." The concern in Hotch's voice is obvious, but Reid pays it no heed.

"What do you expect from me? It's stress related, we're a man down and there's no way I'm taking personal time right now to cope, because you know as well as I do that it won't help if I'm not here doing my job."

Hotch crosses his arms. "JJ left last week, you already owned up to this going on for two weeks. Have you even seen your physician?"

"The office was tense that whole week. Don't penalize me for being good at my job. I don't want to get demoted to the Department of Homeland Defense." Reid knew it was a low hit, the contact was solid though. "If that's all…?"

"It's not. Sit down and tell me what's going on. It isn't normal, and it isn't normal for you. Even when Gideon left you didn't react like this."

"When Gideon left…" Reid almost wanted to mention how he was still too afraid to take aspirin in fear of getting hooked on pain killers thanks to his bout with dilaudid and NA meetings. He bit his lower lip, worrying at it to keep the words inside and firmly planted on his tongue. "It's duly noted that you're feeling concerned for my well-being. Thank you, can I get back to work now?"

That had been his mistake, to ask a question instead of pose a conditional clause.

"No, you can't. I'm not finished speaking with you on this matter. It's obvious you aren't at your best and I'm worried about you, and I'm not the only one. The last thing we need right now is to find out you're neglecting your health and suddenly collapse on the field. What do you suppose that would do for morale of the unit?"

Reid rolled his eyes, "Saying it seems to happen at a rather steady frequency for work-related incident? Probably not as big of a deal as you'd expect."

"We're not talking about work hazards, this is a manageable health issue. I'm telling you as a courtesy, as a concerned friend, to go get yourself checked out by a practicing licensed medical doctor, Reid. Medical doctor… if you so choose to ignore my friendly request, I will order you to go and sit your ass at a desk off any active cases and then we'll be two men down."

Reid blinked, surprised slightly by the show of tenacity from Hotch. He usually reserved tactics like that to dealing with sociopaths and politicians. Reid was neither.

"Fine, I'll schedule an appointment…" He rolled his eyes.

"You don't need to, there's a walk-in urgent-care facility a block from your apartment. I'll have Garcia drive you, or I can if you prefer."

"Wait, why do I need an escort?" Reid managed to ask just before his mind answered, 'To prove you actually went, Sherlock.' He silently thanked Watson for pointing out the obvious and filed it under weird that he had that notion to thank a fictitious device he used in his own internal monolog. "I promise I'll go, I don't really want to bother Garcia or..."

"I'll take you then." The firm finality in Hotch's voice left no room for arguments. Reid suspected this had been his goal, cursing himself for playing into Hotch's hands when he was so obviously in one of his zones of authority.

If he had wanted to; he could break down the play within the office, and it was a power-play, into Hotch wanting to insert himself into Reid's medical adventure to accumulate answers he himself had in regard to his agent's health. Answers he knew damn well Reid wouldn't give him. He steadied himself for what he suspected would be a round of endoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan (with contrast dye, lucky for him… not), MRI or PET scan, depending on just how well stocked the Urgent Care Facility was. Hell, they might x-ray him after the physical exam, too.

"Now, are we finished?" Reid asked, hopefully.

"Almost. I'll take you after work tonight, around 5:30, We'll leave early."

"Super." Reid's sarcasm dripped, practically staining Hotch's carpet before he went for the door.


"Yes Hotch?" He asked, hand finally resting on the knob, the door cracked as he hoped to make a fast escape.

"I am worried about you."

Reid pouts a little at this point, "I'll meet you in the elevator at 5:30."


What Reid had suspected to be a slew of tests, thanks to a few too many viewings of Mystery Diagnosis, had been confirmed after three separate blood panels were taken, he had a physical exam, explained symptoms… symptoms he had been remiss to say in front of Hotch or any team member for that matter, and thanks to Hotch's bullying, Reid was bullied into a procedure the doctor was also bullied into performing.

The endoscopy, and on-site pathologist did not end in a positive manner, despite being given a general anesthetic to put Reid under, the tube was not a comfortable addition to his throat. They had run tests through his stomach and upper parts of his duodenum, sneaking ultrasounds of his gallbladder, liver and pancreas to be sure there were no hidden bile-stones or blockage, there was apparently evidence of bleeding and Reid entertained the thought that he had succeeded in giving himself an ulcer before the doctor explained a much worse scenario.

The maelstrom that hit when those words fell from the doctor's mouth sinking his happy thoughts of antibiotics and less happy thoughts about going easy on the coffee for a few weeks came with a sharp intake of air from Hotch, signaling to Reid that now was a time to listen and not think.

"Spencer, the pathologist looked at the samples we collected from your stomach and duodenum. You have areas of tissue necrosis. We're going to have to perform a major surgery. We have several top-notch GI surgeons, and the immediacy of this procedure is important. We can arrange for an appointment tomorrow at 8AM."

Reid blinked, "Wait… necro…"

"Necrosis, tissue death within your stomach and the upper portions of your small intestines, we'll have to run a PET scan to see if blood flow is compromised elsewhere. Your digestive system is shutting down, we need to figure out if this is bacterial, viral, fungal, auto-immune, or even cancerous. We want to have you admitted to…"

"I know what necrosis means, and I know the potential causes of it… I just have no idea how I could possibly fit in to any of those… I haven't even been eating out as much since JJ…" Reid paused, a thought hit him, food borne toxins could also cause this, and he hadn't been eating out much… but he had been eating in. Sometimes, thanks to the occupational hazard of their jobs, occupational bio-hazards occurred in refrigerators. "You should start me on a broad spectrum antibiotic, gram positive, negative and null varieties. Also, I can bring in samples of what I've been eating for the past two weeks. You might be able to identify the source."

"Spencer, I don't think you understand how much damage there is, this is emergency surgery. The diameter of these lesions aren't something an antibiotic is going to fix. If anything, right now we have to keep your system clean until after the surgical repairs and then we'll set you on a very strict regiment."

"How many and how big that you've seen, doctor?" Hotch asks, braving the answer Reid would be happier to systematically ignore.

"There are at least three, one near the pyloric sphincter in his stomach that is the largest, rough 3cm in diameter, one in his duodenum at 1.2cm, and another in the fundus of his stomach, that lesion is the deepest but also the smallest, it's only 1cm. The bleeding indicates that it is deep enough to reach major vessels. If this is a food-borne infection, it could lead to septicemia and death."

Reid clicked his tongue. "Well… that's good to know. Hotch, a word?"

Hotch looked at the younger agent, unnerved at how he is taking the news. It's obvious he's compartmentalizing, but that's the sort of response he'd expect from Prentiss- sure as hell not Reid. Reid would throw statistics at it to make it grow smaller and more bored until it would inevitably walk away frustrated and with a headache. Reid would become introspective, Reid would not just act like he hadn't heard a doctor tell him he needed surgery within the next 10 hours after being poked and prodded for the last 3 hours.

He approached, he noticed Reid's adam's apple bob up and down quickly.

"I need you to go to my apartment, get my go bag in the linen closet closest to the front door. There's also a stack of papers inside the top left drawer of my desk and a fountain pen, and stamped envelopes. Saying I'm going straight to the hospital on rush in-patient admittance, I don't think I'll have the chance to grab those things. Would you mind…?"

"No, not at all, Reid how are you handling this?"

He swallowed back trying to keep emotion out of his voice. If he had to admit to anything, it was that he was petrified, but even worse was the sense that he wasn't going to be near his family for the next few weeks until he got cleared for duty again. Statistically, surgeries involving the digestive tract, especially large areas of it, had some of the longest recovery times, high risk of mortality, and tended to be gruelingly painful if they had to do open explorative surgery.

"Doctor Nielson, which GI surgeon specializes in laproscopy and minimally-invasive surgical techniques? Who has the best stats and who do you recommend?"

"A colleague of mine works in a private practice based in the VA hospital, Dr. Cummings, she's an excellent surgeon and has a wonderful Pathologist on staff. I'm sure she'll be able to see you immediately, especially in these circumstances."

Reid nodded. He folded his hands and placed his head upon them, closing his eyes in exhaustion. It was strange, as fast as his mind processed, he couldn't take all of this in all at once, it was a rare feeling, but he definitely felt overwhelmed.


A/N: If you think you want this to continue, people, let me know. I have no idea whether I should proceed and what direction I'll take this in if I do.

Right now, I'll leave the pre-slashy nature of it here, but it most likely will become established or will establish something. *Shrugs* Anyhow, more stories to come soon. Please keep a look out for me!