AN: Well, here it is the last chapter of this story! It's only 22 chapters longer than I originally intended. Thanks to everyone who has read, alerted and reviewed this story. You guys all wonderful!
Prompts: There are two for this chapter:
Thanks to 80icrazy80 for the prompt of 'Road Rage'!
Thanks to Graveygraves for her prompt of 'lemons'!
For those who suggested prompts that didn't get used, I do appreciate you sending them to me and sorry I wasn't able to fit them into the story.
The smell of eggs, bacon, and freshly brewed coffee drew Morgan out of the dreamland he had been in. Sitting up with a groan, Morgan rolled his shoulders in and attempt to get the stiffness out of them. ~You would think I'd be accustomed to sleeping on the couch by now, ~ he thought as he got to his feet.
Still trying to ease the stiffness from his neck and shoulders, Morgan followed his nose to the kitchen and found Reid standing in front of the stove, turning the bacon that was frying in the pan. The young genius glanced over his shoulder as Morgan came to a stop at the corner of the counter that dividing the kitchen from the living area.
"Look at you," Morgan commented with a smile. "Acting like a proper host! You're even cooking for your house guest. How times have changed," he teased.
A small smile came to Reid's face. "Coffee is ready and breakfast," Reid inclined his head toward the pan, "will be done in a few minutes."
As Reid turned back to the stove, Morgan started walking across the kitchen, noting that the table was already set for two and was relieved that Reid was doing better. The color had returned to the younger man's face and his appetite was returning. Eric had told Reid on Wednesday that he could return to work when he felt ready but that he was not to push himself. However, before leaving, Eric had quietly told Morgan to keep a close eye on Reid and to call him with any concerns. Today was Friday, and Reid hadn't yet mentioned going back to work. Morgan wasn't about to press him on the issue though, as last night had been the first time Morgan hadn't been woken up by one of Reid's nightmares. Although Morgan absently noted that didn't necessarily mean there hadn't been one.
"How did you sleep, Kid?"
"Fine," Reid replied as he turned off the burner.
"Reid," Morgan said with a hint of warning, opening the cabinet above the coffee make to grab a mug. He could tell the younger man was holding something back.
Reid sighed as he began lifting the bacon from the pan and placing it on a paper towel covering a plate. "I had a bit of trouble sleeping toward morning. I've been up since five because I wasn't able to fall back asleep so I caught up on some reading."
"You could have woke me up if you needed someone to talk to," Morgan told him, pouring some coffee into his mug. His eyes fell onto a stack of papers sitting on the counter next to the coffee maker.
"It wasn't necessary. I'm fine, Morgan. Really."
Morgan nodded, deciding to let it go for now since Reid didn't really seem upset anyway and read the title in bold print on the top of the first printed paper in the stack - Road Rage: A Study on its Effects in Fatal Traffic Accidents. Morgan picked up the printout. "This is your idea of catching up on some reading?"
Reid blushed slightly. "Yeah. Just a bit of light reading."
"Only you would see this as light reading."
"Eric said I should try to resume a normal routine again."
"Yeah I guess he did," Morgan said, shaking his head as he placed the papers back down on the counter. He turned to the refrigerator and pulled the milk out, adding some to his coffee before returning it to the fridge, knowing that the sugar would be on the table for Reid's coffee.
It wasn't long before Morgan and Reid were seated across from one another at the table enjoying the breakfast Reid had made.
"Morgan, I'm thinking I should return to work on Monday."
"Are you sure?"
Morgan had stopped eating and was gazing across the table at Reid. The genius wore a contemplative look, and Morgan didn't miss the trace of fear that was evident in his eyes.
"No. I'm not sure, but putting it off longer isn't going to help anything. The one thing I am sure of is that I won't know if I'm ready until I get there. Until I face everyone that I let down," Reid replied, before lowering his gaze to the food on his plate.
"Kid, we all feel that we let you down," Morgan told him, even as he saw Reid shaking his head.
"But you shouldn't feel that way," Reid told him, not looking up. "You guys rescued me from Hankel . . ."
"We found you in a graveyard, having already shot your captor. I'd say you had already rescued yourself," Morgan cut the younger man off. This was the first time he had spoken to anyone about his own feelings revolving around the events down in Georgia. "If we had gotten there sooner, we could have spared you that much at least," Morgan said, remembering the shattered look in Reid's eyes as Hotch had helped the young genius to his feet when they had finally reached him. It had been the second person Reid had shot, and Morgan got the feeling that this time had affected Reid more than when he had shot Dowd. "Two days. It took us two days to find you." Morgan paused, his voice slightly lower when he continued. "I feel like I failed you, Kid"
"It was a . . . difficult time. But I knew everyone was looking for me. That was what kept me going; it was how I was able to hold on. I would have given up if not for that knowledge. And I only shot Tobias because I saw the lights in the trees and knew you were coming for me - I didn't want to take the chance of him injuring one of you guys. And your approach distracted him. Gave me an opportunity I wouldn't have had otherwise," Reid finally looked up and gazed across the table at Morgan. "So you see, Morgan, you and the team did save me."
Morgan heard the sincerity in Reid's words. The kid wasn't just talking to make him feel better. But even if they had saved him from Tobias - something Morgan still wasn't entirely convinced of - they hadn't been there for him afterwards when he needed them. They had left Reid alone to struggle with the demons resulting from those experiences down in Georgia. Morgan couldn't speak for the others, but he had spent a lot of time searching within himself for the reason why he had put off intervening so long. The only reason he had been able to come up with was that he was trying to hide from the fact that his worse fears were reality. By accepting Reid's attempt at pretending everything was fine then Morgan could tell himself that things were fine. ~What a mistake.~
Morgan found himself shaking his head as he kept his eyes level with his plate. "Even so Reid, I can think of so many things that I could have - I should have - done differently. Chances that I missed that could have prevented all of this."
"This isn't your fault, Morgan."
"Feels like it is. I should have been there for you."
"Not at first I wasn't. If I had been then maybe -"
"Morgan, stop!" The intensity of Reid's words caused Morgan to look up. Reid reached across the table and laid his hand on top of Morgan's before he continued. "What happened after coming back from Georgia, the choices that I made, the mistakes that I made - they're all on me. No one else is to blame. I chose to bottle up my feelings. I made the choice to let my nightmares control my life. I made the decision to keep using the Dilaudid. And I'm the one who kept spurning everyone's attempts to help me." Reid paused and shook his head. "I still can't believe some of the things I did. I ignored a call from a teammate while on a case. I made JJ cry and snapped at Prentiss for now reason. I hit you!"
"I never should have said what I did, though, Kid. And I definitely shouldn't have grabbed your wrist like I did. I hurt you - both emotionally and physically that night and I'm sorry. If I had . . . Reid, if I could take back what I did and said that night, I would."
"And if you hadn't said what you did I may have hurt myself more than I already had; that night could have been so much worse," Reid told him. He drew in a deep breath, trying to gather the courage to go on.
"Regardless Kid, I should have handled that better," Morgan said, taking advantage of Reid's momentary pause.
"You told me the truth, Morgan. The blunt, cold hard truth - which was exactly what I needed - even though I didn't know it a the time. That night made me see that I needed help. That I truly had a problem. And Morgan . . .I wanted to open the door that night but I couldn't - I was too ashamed of what I had just done. Of what I had been doing," Reid's voice dropped to a whisper. "What I had been planning on doing."
"Did you . . ." Morgan let the question trail off, not able to finish the question. Not that it mattered as Reid knew what it was the older man had wanted to ask.
"Yes. I felt so ashamed of what I had just done and my body was craving the drug. It felt like every time I tried to stop using I hurt someone. But then I hurt people while I was using too so it didn't really matter. I was trapped. And there you were saying you weren't going to give up on me. Even when I had already given up on my self." Reid paused, his eyes searching out Morgan's before he continued. "You saved me, Morgan. Your words that night, your insistence that you wouldn't give up on me no matter how much I pushed made me realize what I could lose if I continued down the path I was on." Reid paused and let a small smile come to his face. "And I'm so lucky you followed me to the bar that night. Trying to stand up to that biker was probably coming as close to signing my own death warrant. A small part of me that knew that even as I said those words to him."
"Reid, are you telling me - "
Reid interrupted the question. "I said a small part, Morgan, and I'm fine now. Really. I'm not even close to thinking along those lines now that I'm past the withdrawal symptoms," he said, unable to deny that the thought of wishing he was dead hadn't passed through his mind more than once during the hell that he had gone through in the first few days of his detox. He hadn't looked away from Morgan and he could tell the older man was searching out the truth for himself. "I'm fine."
"Yes," Morgan said slowly, "I believe you are. Still, I think that facing everyone at the same time and returning to work on the same day may be a bit much to handle."
"Morgan . . ."
"No, hear me out, Kid. You've come a long way and you're doing well but you've been through a lot in a short time. Nobody knows that better than me. Now, I'm not going to try to convince you not to return to work. You need to make that decision on your own and I'm going to be right there with you every step of the way, but maybe you should meet with everyone before you go into the office. Perhaps a cookout at my place tomorrow night?"
Reid opened his mouth to try to convince Morgan it wouldn't be a good idea. That he didn't want to impose on the team, especially with such short notice. However, something on Morgan's face made him reconsider. "This isn't just a spur of a moment idea is it? You've already got something planned. Don't you?"
"Yeah, you are you're old self again," Morgan said with a small snort of laughter. "Guilty as charged. It was Garcia's idea though. And yeah we have talked to the whole team and had tentative plans for a cookout tomorrow. I was planning on bringing it up to you later today and then giving her the final go ahead if you agreed to it." Catching the fleeting look of panic that crossed Reid's face Morgan quickly continued. "I'm not trying to pressure you, Kid. You just let me know. If you say you're not up for it then that's the end of the discussion. But please, just take a little time to think it over."
Reid nodded and went back to his breakfast. He took a bite and gave a small grimace. "I think I'll heat this up first," he commented getting to his feet. "Want me to heat your's up too?" he asked, holding a hand out for the plate.
Morgan passed the plate to him, and understood that the discussion was over for now. Hoping that he didn't regret it, Morgan brought up the subject of the report he had seen. He couldn't stand the silence and the report seemed like a safe, neutral topic to bring up.
"Why didn't we let the girls help out with the food for tonight, again?"
Morgan asked the question as he led the way across the parking lot to the grocery store at eight o'clock on Saturday morning. Reid had consented to the team gathering for a cookout as long as he and Morgan did all the prep work, claiming that the activity would give him a chance to feel like he was doing something to thank his teammates for their support. Not wanting to say no to anything that would make the younger man feel better at this point, Morgan had hastily agreed. Now however, still tired and knowing that he had at least an hour of shopping ahead of him, Morgan was starting to regret his decision.
"Because, then it wouldn't really be a thank-you dinner would it?" Reid told him. He had approached Morgan late yesterday afternoon saying that he would consent to the cookout as long as he could do the cooking and had then asked Morgan to help him. It wasn't what Garcia had in mind but the tech goddess had consented easily enough after a short conversation with Morgan. "I want to do something for them, for all of you really, to show you how much I appreciate your support. I thought this would be a good way," Reid replied, grabbing a basket as they reached the store's entrance. "I mean I know this dinner can't make up for everything but it's a start. I still need to find a way to show you, but . . ."
"Kid, having you back to your normal self is all the thank-you I need. You're like a brother to me and I'll do anything for family."
Reid opened his mouth to say something but quickly closed it as they started down the produce aisle. He felt his throat start to constrict with the emotions he was feeling. To hear Morgan say he considered him family was touching while simultaneously making the pain he felt at what he had put the older man through increase. He swallowed hard, trying to pull himself together. The grocery store was not the place he wanted to have yet another emotional breakdown. But damn it, he felt so close to it.
As he struggled with his emotions, Reid was glad Morgan's back was to him as the older man consulted his list and walked past the display of lemons. Reid wasn't sure what possessed him, but approaching the display, he reached out for one of the small yellow fruits. He tossed it gently at Morgan, hitting him in between the shoulders.
"What the hell was that?" Morgan said, turning quickly. He glanced at Reid, who was wearing a slight smile on his face, down at the offending fruit, and back at Reid. "What was that for?"
"Just trying to be the annoying little brother," Reid said lightly, with a shrug of his shoulders.
Morgan reached out and plucked a lemon from the pile. "Yeah, well in case you didn't know, siblings retaliate, Kid," he said tossing the lemon at Reid.
The young genius ducked out of the way, and the lemon went harmlessly past him, bouncing across the floor. Morgan quickly tossed a second one at Reid, hitting him this time as the younger man didn't have time to react.
Reid laughed as the lemon deflected off of him and into the cart. A loud clearing of the throat caught both of their attentions. The two federal agents sobered up quickly when they saw a store employee standing with his arms crossed glaring at them.
"Sorry," Morgan said apologizing for the both of them. He reached down to retrieve the lemon that Reid had thrown at him. "We'll pay for these, don't worry." He assured the man.
"Be sure that you do," the employee replied, watching as Reid retrieved the second lemon that had been thrown while Morgan put the one he had into a plastic bag.
He felt the employee's gaze on him and wanted to quickly leave the produce aisle. He grabbed the lemon from the cart and added it to the bag. Reid then handed him the other lemon before selecting several more lemons from the display and adding them to the bag that Morgan was holding.
"What are you planning to do with these?" Morgan asked in a hushed voice.
Reid smiled at him. "When life hands you lemons, then make lemonade," he quipped.
"That's really lame, you know that, Kid."
"So sue me," Reid said, dropping a few more lemons in the bag before taking it from Morgan. He added a twist tie to the bag, and placed it in the cart. "Let's get out of here. He's still watching us," he said, with a slight nod in the store employee's direction.
Morgan hesitated a moment, standing by the lemon display as he watched Reid head down the aisle with the cart. He shook his head slightly, in mild amusement. Two grown men throwing lemons at each other in a grocery store. If the team got wind of this . . . but then he realized he didn't really care. It was just a little harmless fun. The only casualties were a few bruised lemons and given everything that had gone on recently the release it had given him felt good.
Morgan turned and gave a small wave to the store employee before following Reid. Right now, it was easy to pretend that everything was fine. That the past couple of months, the last couple weeks especially, hadn't happened. Deep down though, Morgan knew that the situation wasn't going to be fixed that easily. Reid still had a long and bumpy road ahead of him as he continued to recover from the addiction and struggled to not give into it in the future. Still, he had made great strides and Morgan hoped he knew that he wasn't alone anymore. Hoped Reid knew that no matter what, he had people who would stand beside him and help him through the hard times.
Tonight was going to be a hurdle for Reid. Morgan knew the genius was worried about facing everyone together. However, he felt confident that he could get Reid through it. After tonight was over he'd worry about helping Reid face going back to work and the ups and downs that would undoubtably follow. Yes, things were looking up, but there was still a while to go before everything returned to normal.
~I'll be keeping a close eye on you for a bit longer, Kid, ~ Morgan thought as he caught up with Reid who was trying to select steaks for the grill. ~I refuse to make the same mistake twice.~