Title: Shiver the Whole Night Through
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing: Reid-centric gen, with slight Rossi/Prentiss
Summary: Post 4x07, Memoriam. Since Las Vegas, Reid's been acting strangely. The truth will have dramatic repercussions for all of them.
Author's Note: Written for the CM Fic Exchange on LiveJournal, major kudos to Windy City Dreamer and Mingsmommy for a seriously awesome beta job. On a side note, the issue presented in this story is a highly controversial one. I tried to balance it between what the show has provided us, and what the literature says, but ultimately, certain liberties were taken, and, like most stories, this one should be taken with a grain of salt.
Three weeks since Vegas.
Spencer Reid pours coffee into his cup; the fourth cup so far today, and it's barely ten. He adds milk – he shouldn't, but it's worth it – and sugar – enough sugar that Morgan's constantly telling him he's going to turn into a diabetic, but that's not really true. The biggest risk factors for Type II diabetes are a high calorie diet, and an inactive lifestyle. Some studies suggest an element of heredity, but Reid doesn't know anyone in his family with diabetes. He's got risk factors for other things.
Today, he writes to his mother, and his hand shakes.
Three weeks since Vegas.
He doesn't blame her – not the way he blames his father. Not the way he blames William Reid, the man who had abandoned him, the man who had left him alone with a sick mother and no financial means.
He doesn't blame her – not the way he blames himself.
The coffee is hot and sweet, but bitter at the same time. It burns his tongue. He gulps it down anyway. The exhaustion overwhelms him in a way that he's never felt before; not even ten years ago, at Caltech, working on his doctoral dissertations. Seven nights a week, poring over textbooks and research articles. He didn't have a life then, and he doesn't have much of one now.
Yes you do, he reminds himself. You're a godfather, now. But really, that's a symbolic position more than anything. The chances of anything happening to both JJ and Will are…his brain scrambles, trying to search for the statistic, but it's not there. Gone to the place where the lost memories go.
He rolls his sleeves up, and then rolls them down again. Both ways are equally uncomfortable – there's an odd kind of itch at the crook of his elbow that just won't go away. He grabs for the jar of antacids, and takes one.
'You put milk in your coffee again, kid?' Morgan asks, from behind him, and Reid jumps.
'I'm a genetic abnormality,' Reid replies. Morgan is confused at the answer, but doesn't ask for elaboration, and Reid doesn't elaborate. In retrospect, maybe that's a bad idea.
After all, that's what Morgan expects. He expects facts and figures. He expects obscure – or not so obscure – bits of trivia. He doesn't expect a sullen, non-responsive, shell of a person. But then, maybe he does.
Morgan sits on the edge of Reid's desk. He has that "older brother" look on his face, as though he's about to impart some of his own wisdom.
'Listen, Reid…Spencer. I know what happened in Vegas was hard for you, so…if you ever need to talk…' He trails off.
Reid knows what he should do. He knows he should give that trademark awkward smile, and say, "Thanks," but never actually take the other man up on his offer. It's what he should do, but he doesn't. What he says, in an acerbic tone is, 'If I need your help, I'll ask for it.'
There's a stunned silence, both from Morgan and Reid, and from Emily, who's trying to pretend like she isn't listening in on their conversation.
'Sorry,' he says, in a soft voice, eyes cast downward. 'It's been a tough month .' Morgan nods sympathetically. After all, they've all been there. They've all had the cases that they take just a little bit too personally, they've all had the cases that send shockwaves through their lives. For some reason, this one is affecting Spencer Reid far more than he thinks it should.
He excuses himself to the bathroom, pretending not to notice the meaningful look that Morgan and Emily give each other.
'Do you think he's using again?' Emily asks, when Reid is out of earshot. It's a question that's met with a shocked silence from Morgan. After all, they have an unspoken agreement, never to mention past events like that. Just the same way that no-one talks about Carl Buford, or Gideon's departure, Spencer Reid's short-lived Dilaudid abuse is something that's not often mentioned. Especially not in the middle of the bullpen.
'I think he's just having a tough time dealing with what his father did,' Morgan said with a shrug. 'Anyone'd be pissed.'
Emily gives him a look. Morgan's always been the doubter of the team. The "what if it's just suicide" or the "I don't think we need to worry about these homeless people disappearing" kind of guy. After all, doubt and trust are intrinsically linked: if there's trust, there's less doubt, and Derek Morgan hasn't trusted anyone in a long time
'Still…Even when Reid's pissed, the only time I've ever seen him bite someone's head off like that, was…' She trails off, letting him fill in the blanks. She's never told anyone the extent of Reid's behavior towards her then, and she doesn't want to start now.
They both fall silent as Reid returns, his eyes cast downwards, as though he's actively trying not to draw attention to himself by catching their gaze. Morgan doesn't say anything, and Emily finds herself following suit.
Maybe her judgment is a little skewed; she can't exactly give an objective opinion about it, after all.
But there's one person who can.
She's pretty sure that Rossi knows about Georgia and the aftermath, but he hadn't been there, and that's the important part. He hadn't seen the hurt in Reid's eyes, heard the pain – the anger – in his voice.
Morgan looks up briefly as Emily excuses herself, files in her hand. She actually does need to see Rossi, regarding a consult, but the Reid situation makes things that much more urgent.
David Rossi is many things, but judgmental isn't one of them – especially not towards the team. Emily can't imagine revealing to Gideon what she's revealed to Rossi – not even the small stuff. Not even the offhanded, I used to do a lot of things, kind of comment. It's not that she hadn't liked Gideon – he'd been a good person, in his own, weird kind of way – but the fact that she'd come in late to the show, meeting him so long after the rest of the team meant that her relationship with him had never been exactly close.
She knocks on his office door, and waits until she hears the gruff, 'Come in,' before she slips inside.
Rossi's wearing his reading glasses, and staring down at a pile of papers that might be the new book, or they might just be the files from their last case.
'Consult,' she offers, passing her own files over. 'I was thinking power-reassurance rapist. Probably works a menial job – unsatisfied with his female boss, with odd hours, which explains the attack times.' There's a pause. 'I just wanted to run it by you.'
He takes a moment to read over the notes she's made. 'That sounds fine. Why are you really here?'
Emily raises an eyebrow.
'Come on, Prentiss,' he says. 'You're not a newbie. You can profile violent sexual offenders in your sleep, you don't need my help. What's really going on?' He frowns. 'Is everything okay?'
Emily gives a slight laugh, not quite sure how to answer the question. 'I don't know,' she says, her hands wringing together. 'It's Reid,' she says finally, if hesitantly, because it still feels like she's ratting him out in some way. 'He's acting weird.'
Maybe, she thinks, maybe hunting serial killers has just made her paranoid. Maybe Reid's behavior is completely justified, considering the circumstances. Maybe she'll tell Rossi and he'll just stare at her like she's gone insane. Maybe he'll give her that condescending look, and say in that tone that makes her feel like an idiot, "You think I don't know that?"
But he doesn't.
He gestures to the seat across from him. 'Sit down.'
She does so, hands still wringing. 'I mean…Everyone always says "no inter-team profiling," but I don't think it's a rule that's ever really been followed, and I wouldn't be doing this…'
If it wasn't important. She doesn't say the words, but then, she doesn't need to. The job is physically exhausting of course, but what most people – most other people – don't realize, is that it's mentally and emotionally exhausting as well. Every day, people crack.
The death and the mindfucks become too much for them to handle, and they just shatter. Emily's seen it before – they've all seen it before. The trick is to catch each other before they fall. Sometimes that means having your boss's back, instead of doubting him. Sometimes it means asking David Rossi for help. It's not easy to walk through hell and come out unscathed. God knows Reid's been through a lot more hell then most of them, save maybe Hotch, and no matter how much he's grown in the time that she's known him, she still feels a protective vibe. Maybe they all do.
'Have you tried talking to him about it?' he asks, and spoken by anyone else, the words might have sounded condescending, but coming from Rossi, they don't.
'Talking never seems to end the way it's supposed to,' she admits, but part of her still thinks that maybe he's right. She's asked him if he's okay, but she hasn't talked to him. There always seems to be some kind of invisible forcefield, where they can talk to victims, and suspects, and witnesses, but talking to each other about their problems is like some kind of taboo subject.
Maybe it's because they're all profilers – any small thing is immediately blown way out of proportion, which is the reason why she doesn't tell Morgan about her weekend plans anymore.
'I guess…Maybe if you could keep an eye out?' she asks him, standing. 'Thanks,' she adds, even if he's told her what she already knows.
Sometimes it's just nice to have someone to talk to about it.
There are bags under his eyes, and Reid doesn't know where they came from. He'd gone to bed at a decent hour the night before, and he doesn't recall any disturbing dreams. He doesn't remember any dreams. That in itself isn't particularly abnormal; due to the nature of REM sleep, most people only remember their dreams if they wake during or immediately afterwards. Not even an eidetic memory can help Reid with that.
He splashes water onto his face, but even after that, he still looks gaunt and pale. He remembers this feeling. This is the feeling that he'd had after Georgia, after Tobias Hankel. This is the feeling of withdrawal. Formication, bugs crawling beneath the skin. It's a symptom of menopause, but it's also a symptom of a lot of other things, some of which Spencer Reid is intimately familiar with.
He rolls up his sleeves again, and stares at old scars.
The thing about old scars, is that they're never really old. They're fresh in his mind; he remembers wrapping the belt around his upper arm like it was the most natural thing in the world. His hand slips to his pocket.
His heart stops. They can't be there. They
They can't be there.
Shaking, he pulls out the two small glass bottles. He stares at his arms again, trying to find evidence of an injection site.
Get real, Spencer. It's not like you'd shoot up and then just forget about it. Voices in the head. You know what that means. Are they speaking to one another?
Voices in the head. You know what that means. Are they speaking to one another?
Reid shoves the bottles back into his pocket, and then retreats into one of the stalls. He checks underneath his nails, between his fingers. He pulls off his shoes and his mismatched socks, and he checks his toes.
Between his hallux and his index toe. A tiny hole, surrounded by pale, yellowish bruising. He closes his eyes, and he tries to remember.
Studies show that, schizophrenics show deficits in memory and learning, compared to other functions (Saykin et al., 1991). He blinks and realizes that the stores of information in his mind has overtaken his life so much that even his thoughts are in APA format. Dilaudid use can also cause short-term memory loss.
Some people solve problems with a whiteboard and marker, a sheath of highlighted files with notes scrawled in the margins. Spencer Reid doesn't need any of those things. He uses them, because they're pragmatic, and because it's easier when one of the team asks for his notes on an unsub's psychopathology.
I know what it's like, to be afraid of your own mind. I know what it's like to see someone destroyed by their own mind.
The human brain has around 100 billion neurons – that's about as many stars as there might be in the Milky Way alone. Each neuron connects to thousands of other neurons, meaning that in total, there are hundreds of trillions of synapses. In a split second, the floodgates of the cell membrane open, and the axon is permeated by sodium ions. The membrane potential reaches around 40mV, and then rushes back down as potassium exits, and the axon is restored to its resting state.
This is the nerve impulse.
Every single thought that goes through his mind involves thousands of nerve impulses, lighting it up like a Christmas tree. When there is too much dopamine in the brain, these nerve impulses speed up, causing hallucinations, and delusions, and all other kinds of chaotic thoughts.
These are the things that textbooks and college professors have taught Spencer Reid.
As it turns out, reading about it is nothing compared with living it.
While paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by many symptoms, none of them are exclusively characteristic. It's only together that any of these symptoms can form a diagnosis. He closes his eyes, and in his mind, he writes on the whiteboard. Somehow, there, his writing always seems to be so much neater than it is in real life.
Positive Symptoms, or symptoms characterized by a presence. Hallucinations, delusions, loosening of associations. Negative Symptoms, or symptoms characterized by an absence. Inappropriate or flat affect, disorganized or catatonic behavior. He doesn't have all these symptoms, but then, most people don't: The DSM-IV requires only two or more active symptoms for at least a month.
It's been three weeks.
He puts his shoes and his socks back on, and he washes his face, and he returns to the Bullpen. Morgan and Prentiss try to pretend like they haven't been talking about him.
Five o'clock doesn't come quickly enough.
They work so much that they've earned a bit of leeway when it comes to leaving the office early, but they all stay until five anyway – if he went home earlier, it would have looked strange, and that's exactly the kind of thing he wants to avoid.
Strange means people start asking questions, and they're questions that he doesn't want to answer. They're questions that he doesn't know how to answer.
What he needs…
What he needs, is help. Help, but not from the team. It's not that he doesn't trust them, it's just that there's some sense of shame in admitting to them that he couldn't stay on the wagon, even if he's not entirely sure what had happened.
What he needs, is someone who won't judge him, won't make him feel bad. What he needs is someone who's been there. Someone who knows what it's like to feel that helplessness, that lack of control.
Reid makes it home without breaking down, but it's a near thing.
He hasn't spoken to John Baldwin in over two years. Not since two months after Owen Savage's arrest. Not since Reid had been given his one year chip. It's a three year chip now, and he keeps it in his pocket, fingers running over the bumps and grooves when he feels the urges coming on.
All for nothing, now.
'Spencer?' John picks up after two rings, and his voice is laced with concern. After all, there's only one reason that Reid would ever call John. 'Is everything okay?'
'I need your help,' Reid says, and it hurts so damn much to admit it, but that's what recovery's all about, in the end. Admitting that you have a problem.
'I'll be there soon.' Reid hangs up, and begins to pace. His mind works at a hundred miles a minute, neurons going like wildfire, and any distraction just doesn't seem potent enough. That's the thing about genius – you can never take your mind off things, because your mind is always ticking, like clockwork on speed.
After twenty minutes, he sits down on the sofa, and closes his eyes.
When he opens them, his hands are covered in red.
Not just his hands, but his wrists, and his shirt, and his carpet. There's a pool of it by the bookshelf, and a smudged path leading to the bathroom.
The smell of rusty metal permeates his nostrils.
The hemoglobin is the iron-filled metalloprotein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen. It's a purely technical explanation that does nothing to explain the sickly taste in the back of his throat, or the stickiness of his hands, or the horrifying feeling that something has gone very, very wrong.
The clock on the wall says that it's almost eight – almost two hours since he'd made the call to John. He stands, shaking, afraid of what he's going to find in the bathroom. On some level, he already knows, and it's nothing good. It doesn't take a genius to put two and two together, but maybe the equation's a little more complicated than that.
Loss of time, things happening that he has no recollection of.
While Dissociative Identity Disorder is a widely contested illness, it is suggested that the majority of cases are the result of trauma. However, some suggest that this is cause by iatrogenesis from any post-traumatic therapy. While some therapists use hypnosis to diagnose DID, this may in fact be the cause of it.
That's impossible, Reid. You'd remember.
Any patient with DID has, on average, between eleven and fifteen different alters, not all of whom are aware of each other's existence. Some patients are known to have upwards of one hundred separate and distinct personalities.
Which one did this?
Spencer Reid has seen a lot of bodies in his time. More, certainly, than most other thirty-year-olds. He's seen people who have been burned to death, he's seen people who have been mutilated beyond recognition. He's seen the bodies of people that he's killed; Tobias Hankel, Phillip Dowd.
This body doesn't look like any of the rest.
John is lying face up, and Reid can see his eyes. More specifically, he can see the shock, the fear – from the stab patterns that mark his torso, Reid can tell that they had been facing each other when he plunged the knife into the other man's chest.
The blood spatter is like art. The patterns tell so much, and yet they tell nothing at all.
The knife sits in the bathroom sink, taunting him. Blood coats the handle and the blade, and if he had the time, maybe he'd be able to check the pattern the fingerprints made, just to confirm what he already knows.
There's a knock on the door, and he jumps, slipping slightly on an errant puddle of blood.
Has someone already called the police? Is he going to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell, for something he can't even remember doing?
Is he going to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell, for something he can't even remember doing?
There's some kind of philosophical question there, but he doesn't have time to ponder it.
His blood runs cold.
It's Emily's voice, and she isn't going to be fooled by his silence. It's not like he has anywhere to be, of a Thursday night, and in any case, there's no way he would have left his lights on. They're all a little paranoid about what goes on in the dark, but his utilities are expensive enough as it is.
'I know you're in there, Reid. Listen, I just want to talk.'
He might have welcomed someone to talk to if it hadn't been for the body lying on his bathroom floor, and the blood staining his carpet. The only way he can see out of this is if he can convince her that everything's fine, without ever letting her inside.
But that, of course, means that he'll need to get rid of the blood.
'I'll be with you in a moment,' he calls out, stripping off his shirt, and tossing it straight into the trash can. The blood has soaked through to his skin. 'I'm just….taking a bath.'
'Alright.' She doesn't exactly seem convinced, but he doesn't hear the telltale sound of the door being kicked in, which is what Morgan might have done.
He moves the knife out of the sink, and washes the blood out before filling it with hot, soapy water. Really, a shower would be preferable, but he's sure she'd be able to hear the water running, and that's one inconsistency that he can't afford. Hopefully, she'll just think that he's shaving.
A little water will clear us of this deed.
It washes off easier than he'd expected, except under the fingernails. For those, he needs the nail brush, and afterwards, his fingers are still raw. They're clean now, if a little red from the heat of the water, but there's a stain on his soul – on his conscience, rather (he's still not sure if he believes in souls) – that he knows will be there for the rest of his life.
Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; two: why, then, 'tis time to do 't. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?It may be some reflection of Lady Macbeth's madness that this line was not written in iambic pentameter. What does that say about you?
'I'm not insane,' he mumbles to himself, hyperaware of the fact that speaking to himself doesn't exactly give credence to that theory.
He tries not to look down at the body on the floor.
Reid is toweling his hair dry when he opens the door. 'Hey,' he says with a smile, only it's a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. Emily knows a lot about faking emotions. She knows how hard it is to fake a smile, when you really aren't that happy at all, like it's your twelfth birthday, and Mother's forgotten completely, because she has Important Business to attend to, but you smile anyway, because that's what you're supposed to do.
There's a weird smell coming from his apartment – kind of metallic – but she doesn't put it past him to be doing some more of his physics magic, regardless of any potential fire hazard.
Reid's eyes are dark and shadowy, and maybe a little bit sad, which still sometimes upsets her, because he has been through so much shit that he doesn't deserve.
'What's up?' he asks, in what sounds like his attempt at a casual voice, but she's pretty sure he already knows why she's here.
'I just wanted to see if everything's okay,' she tells him. 'I know…' She bites her lip, unsure of how to word it without making it sound condescending. 'I know what happened in Vegas was hard for you, and I guess if you need someone to talk to…'
There's a short, kind of awkward silence, and Reid just stares at her. She'd almost call it a blank look, but Reid doesn't really do "blank."
Empathy shouldn't be this hard.
'When I was a kid,' she tells him. 'My dad decided that he didn't really want to live in a new country every six months. Of course, he didn't really want to look after me either. I know it's not really the same, but…'
The silence this time feels even more awkward, and she wants him to say something – even if it's just to tell her to get lost. But that's not what he says. His head tilts to the side slightly, and he says, 'Did you want to come in?' and that kind of feels like progress.
'Sure,' she says, feeling a little relieved. Maybe this time won't be so much like the last. Maybe Reid will accept her help, instead of pushing her away. A lot's changed in three years.
The first thing she sees is the blood.
Well that explains the smell.
The second thing she sees is Reid's gun, and then everything goes dark.
Just for one second.
There's a burst of pain in her head, and she's pretty sure he's just pistol whipped her. Or revolver whipped. Whatever. Trying to stand up seems like an impossible task – her mind is still spinning so much, that she's having trouble even thinking. There is one thought, though, and it's a pretty important one:
What the hell?
Because really, the Spencer Reid she knows doesn't attack his friends for no reason. And if he is, well, he'd done a pretty damn good job of fooling the best profiling minds that the FBI has to offer.
She sees a blur of movement across the room, and tries once more to stand. Her head is pounding, and really what the fuck is going on, because this isn't the kind of thing that happens in real life. She clutches for something to support herself, which happens to be an overflowing bookshelf.
Apparently, she'd been out for a little more than a second, because he's got a knife in his hand now, instead of the gun, and there's this desperate look on his face, that is absolutely not Reid at all. Even without the sudden, inexplicable violence, this is so far out of character for Reid that she'd be less surprised to discover that the real Reid had been abducted by aliens, and this is just some doppelganger. She'd be less surprised if a sociopath had escaped from jail, killed the real Reid, and sewn his fucking face on, than she would be at this.
'Reid,' she manages to choke out. 'Reid, it's Emily. I'm your friend.'
He stares at her, like she's a particularly annoying fly that keeps buzzing around his head. 'You're an interfering bitch is what you are,' and there's a hatred in his voice that she's never heard before. He lunges at her with the knife, but she's ready this time, and uses his momentum to dodge out of the way and push him into the wall. Reid might be a genius, but physically, she's pretty sure she can take him on. Unless, of course, he decides to use some kind of Vulcan nerve pinch on her.
His grip on the knife loosens, and it falls to the ground. Emily tries to grab for it, but apparently whatever's up with Reid has given him some kind of superhuman speed, because he's on it just half a second after her. She winces slightly as her fingers close around the blade. The wince turns to a gasp as she feels Reid's hand shift, pushing the blade deeper into the skin. It's enough of a distraction for him to pull the knife from her grasp, pain flaring in her fingers.
He pushes the knife against her throat, and she tilts her head against the wall. It's an attempt to get away from the blade, but not a very successful one. Her heart is beating a thousand times a second, and she's half wondering Is this really how I'm going to die? Throat slit by a friend who's caught in the throes of some kind of psychotic break?
'Reid,' she manages. He slides the blade down her throat, under her blouse, and for a moment her mind jumps to a horrific place, but apparently he isn't interested in that. He lifts out the chain of her necklace – that tiny gold cross that she hasn't worn in so long. She's not even sure why she'd worn it today.
He looks at it, with something akin to curiosity. He seems different again, but it's still not Reid.
'Do you believe?' he asks, and for a moment, she's a little confused, but then she realizes.
'Um…I don't know,' she says finally, which is apparently the wrong answer.
'You don't know?' he asks, his voice some bizarre mixture of amusement and disgust. 'Why are you wearing it, if you don't know?'
She frowns. It's a fair question, and she might be a little more inclined to answer it if he hadn't been holding a knife to her throat. Finally, she says, 'I want to believe,' which is really the only way she can describe her faith right now.
With a short tug, the chain breaks, and he tosses the necklace aside. 'There is no God,' he says, cold, matter-of-factly. Very unReid; he might be an atheist, but he doesn't judge people for their beliefs.
'Reid,' she says, and for one long second, he just looks at her. Then he drops the knife.
'Emily?' A look of horror is quickly followed by a look of shame, and she feels like a complete bitch for what she's about to do, but if he's going to be unpredictable, then she at least wants to be in control.
She headbutts him.
It hurts like a bitch – unsurprising, considering she's half sure she's already mildly concussed from the pistol whipping – but it has the desired effect, and Reid falls backwards, clutching at his now broken nose.
He's disoriented, but not unconscious, and she's half considering hitting him again when she spots his handcuffs sitting on the coffee table. Emily's not really sure why they'd be on the coffee table of all places, but she doesn't have time to think about that.
She cuffs his hands behind his back, and then decides that it's not quite enough. She needs to cuff him to something bolted down – he can still walk, with his hands bound.
'Emily,' he says, pleadingly, as she pulls him towards the bathroom. 'Emily, please.'
'I'm sorry, Reid.'
Emily stops, briefly, when she sees the body on the bathroom floor. This is so, so much worse than we realized.
She cuffs him to the towel rack – not exactly Fort Knox, but better than nothing – and sits down on the edge of the bathtub.
'I need to call someone, Reid.'
He nods. 'I know.' He gulps. 'I just…' He sounds almost lost for words, and that's definitely something she's never seen in him before. 'Please don't let me do this again, Emily. You need to stop them.'
She's not exactly sure what he means by that, but at any rate, the best – hell, the only – course of action, is to call someone from the team. Under normal circumstances, Hotch would be the best bet, but she can just imagine that conversation, Hey, Hotch, you need to come over to Reid's place ASAP – he went insane, and tried to kill me.
She steps out into the kitchen, and calls Rossi, instead. After all, he's half the reason that she'd come here tonight. He'll come, but he'll call Hotch too, and maybe that will save Emily the awkwardness of it all. Her hands shake as she dials his number, and she's vaguely aware of the fact that one of them is bleeding pretty heavily. Hurts, too. Her head is spinning, so she moves into the living room, and sits on the edge of Reid's sofa.
'Is everything okay?' is what Rossi answers the phone with, and Emily feels like saying "hello to you too," but everything isn't okay, so in the end, she only says one word:
And that's enough.
Emily wakes to the sound of Rossi's voice, and his fists banging on the front door. It takes her few seconds to realize where she is, and what had happened. The head wound must've caused her to pass out on the sofa. She'd been feeling a little dizzy, and sat down for just one second, but apparently that had been a bad idea.
A little groggy, she stands, clutching at the arm of the sofa. 'Rossi?' she asks, frowning as she opens the door.
'Emily.' He takes in her appearance, eyebrows furrowing in concern. 'Hotch and JJ are on their way, but I couldn't get a hold of Morgan. Are you okay?'
'I'll live,' she tells him shortly. 'That's not our problem right now. Reid's…' She shakes her head. She doesn't know what to say about Reid. Doesn't know what she can say.
'Where is he?'
'Bathroom,' she tells him, and then suddenly, remembering what else is in there. 'Just...It isn't pretty, Rossi.' She knows that the man lying on the bathroom floor had been an FBI hotshot at one point, but she's not sure how well Rossi knows him.
'Jesus,' Rossi mutters, staring down at the body. Emily looks up, over towards the towel rack, and her heart damn near stops.
Reid is gone.
The bathroom window is wide open, and the handcuffs are missing. On the ground, there's a straightened bobby pin.
That's what you get for cuffing a fucking magician to a towel rack and then passing out, Emily.
'Oh, fuck.' Her whole body's shaking now, and she just manages to trip past the body and fall to her knees by the toilet before retching violently.
'You need a doctor,' Rossi says, laying a hand on her shoulder.
'No.' She shakes her head. 'No doctors.'
'I get that you don't like hospitals—'
She cuts him off. 'Rossi, doctors ask questions. You think this is going to look any better for Reid if I show up at the hospital looking like this?'
Rossi stares over at the body. 'I think it's bad enough already, Emily.'
'I know. Trust me, Rossi, I know…I just…We need to find out what the hell is going on with Reid before we start bringing the authorities into this.'
His eyebrow raises just slightly, and if he makes a comment about the fact that they are the authorities, then she is going to snap. But he doesn't. Instead, he finds the first aid kit in Reid's medicine cabinet, and leads her out of the bathroom, back towards the sofa. 'I'll get you some water. You need to stay hydrated.' She stares at him blankly, not quite sure what to say.
Silence seems the best option.
She bandages the wound on her hand clumsily, ignoring Rossi's 'You want me to do that?'
She's saved the trouble of answering politely, though, when there's a second knock on the door. Emily moves to get up, but Rossi gives her a look, and she stops.
You must really feel like shit, if you're willing to take orders from Rossi so easily.
Hotch and JJ are both depressingly somber, and Emily wonders just what Rossi had told them. Hell, she can't even remember what she told Rossi. For all they know, she's responsible for the body in the bathroom, and Reid had fled for his own safety. But they don't say anything, and maybe she feels a little indignant on Reid's behalf, but maybe a little apologetic at the same time, because there's this unspoken belief that if anyone were ever to go insane, it would be Reid.
However bad that makes her feel, she can't imagine what Reid's thinking. Whatever he's feeling is no doubt hundreds of times worse.
She's vaguely aware of the conversation going on around her, but the only sentence that seems to register in her mind is when Hotch says, 'We need to find Reid.'
'It's not Reid,' she says, hyperaware of three sets of eyes trained on her. 'I mean…it's him, but it's not him, like some kind of split personality thing.'
'DID?' Rossi asks.
'I know what it's called,' Emily snaps back at him, adding after a second, 'Sorry, I just…'
Rossi and Hotch share a look.
'I'm going to take you home,' Rossi announces.
'What? No, Rossi. I'm fine, seriously. We need to find him. I need to be here for that.'
He takes a seat beside her on the sofa, and there's something gentle in his eyes. It's the look he uses to talk to victims, and she could call him on it, but she doesn't.
'Emily, the best thing for you to do now is get away from this place. We'll still need you – just not here.'
He's right, but she doesn't really want to admit that, so she goes begrudgingly, hoping like hell it isn't going to be the worst mistake she's ever made.
'Do you think she'll be alright?' JJ asks, the moment Emily and Rossi have walked out the door.
'It's Reid I'm more worried about right now,' Hotch says, a frown creasing his brow.
'I'll call Garcia,' JJ says. 'She might be able to track him.'
'He's smarter than that, JJ. We have to assume that we're dealing with Reid's level of intelligence, but without any of his moral boundaries.'
'I know,' JJ nods. 'But it's worth a shot, right?'
'Are you sure you're alright to be here, JJ?' Hotch asks, which does not surprise her in the least. He'd given her that look, when she pulled in behind him out the front of Reid's building. But, she plays it cool.
'What do you mean?'
'You had a baby three weeks ago - wouldn't you rather be at home with Will and Henry?'
It's a tempting thought, but Reid needs her, and she isn't going to ignore that.
'Reid's my family too,' she says, and maybe that's something they can agree on, because Hotch doesn't argue. It's a family forged over bad coffee and stale pastries. It's a family forged over crime scene photos and autopsy reports. It's a family forged over late night drinks and regrets.
She calls Garcia.
When the technical analyst answers with a ridiculously chirpy, 'What seems to be the dealio, beauty queen? Young'un giving you trouble?' JJ feels almost bad for ruining that good mood.
'I need your help,' doesn't quite explain how dire the situation is.
'So what, babysitter? Someone to get Will out of the house for the day?'
'I mean professionally. I'm with Hotch – we're at Reid's place.'
'Has something gone wrong? Is he dead?'Her voice is filled with such unimaginable fear that JJ's not entirely sure that this isn't a constant thought running through the technical analyst's head – that every phone call is a death knell. That's what happens when you're out of the action.
'No, he's not dead, but we need to find him. Anything you have – phone, credit cards.' She gives Hotch a look. 'And Garcia – I need you to keep this all under the radar.'
'I'll do what I can,' Garcia says. 'Please keep me updated, mon amie.'
JJ hangs up, and slips the phone back into her pocket. She stares over at the bathroom door. 'This is obstruction of justice, isn't it?'
'Yes,' Hotch says shortly. There's probably a way to fudge the paperwork, but she can't do that now. 'We will need to arrest him,' he adds, eventually. 'Insanity plea is a tough sell, and even then, he'll need to be institutionalized.'
There's a long silence. It's not a particularly nice answer, but then being in the BAU, things aren't usually sugarcoated.
'We'll do what we can to get him through this,' Hotch adds, but it doesn't reassure JJ in the least.
Emily's silent, most of the drive back. For the most part, Rossi keeps his eyes on the road, but when he looks over, she's staring out the window at the oncoming lights of Washington D.C.
'You alright?' he asks, which feels like it's probably a stupid question, but he needs to ask it. They still don't know the full story about what went on in there.
'I guess,' she says with a shrug, which is all he gets out of her at first.
'You want to talk about it?'
'Pretty sure I have to, right?'
He doesn't say anything.
'I went over there…just to talk to him, or to see if he needed someone to talk to, I guess. We stood at the door for a couple of minutes, and then he suggested I come inside.' She moves through the next bit quickly, as though determined to just get it over and done with. 'I saw the blood, and the next thing I know, he's hitting me over the head with his gun. I blacked out for a bit, I think, and when I came to, he had a knife. We fought, and I tried to talk him out of it, but he wasn't having any of it. Then, he just…dropped the knife, and looked like he had no idea what was going on.'
Rossi thinks there might be more to it, but that's all Emily's willing to divulge for now, and it's enough to make a preliminary diagnosis, even if diagnosis isn't really the important part right now. The important part is to find Reid, and get him out of harm's way. The important part is to help him.
Aside from that, though, Rossi's pretty damn sure it's important that he make sure that Emily doesn't have a mental breakdown, because that's the last thing anybody needs.
He walks her up to her apartment, half thankful that there doesn't seem to be a doorman on duty, because explaining this one is going to be a bit of a doozy.
He's never been to her place before, and it's not quite what he'd expected. He'd expected practical, with a side order of chaos, as though she'd still be trying to stick it to her mother, years later. Instead, it looks like something out of a catalogue – more than that, though, it looks empty. Not because of a distinct lack of furniture, but because of the way everything is so undisturbed.
'I guess I haven't really had the chance to get it the way I like it,' she says with a shrug, evidently following his gaze. He raises an eyebrow at that comment. Sure, they get called in a lot, but she's been living in D.C. for at least four years, now. 'You want a drink?' she asks, moving in the direction of what looks as though it's the liquor cabinet.
'You really think that's a good idea?'
'Probably not,' she shrugs, but she does move away, staring down at her hand. The blood's clotted by now, most of it soaked into the piece of gauze from Reid's first aid kit that she'd borrowed. It's not much, but Rossi had been just as concerned about her emotional state as he had her physical.
'You have a first aid kit?'
'In the bathroom,' she tells him. He brings it out, and finds Emily unwrapping the bandage on her hand.
He cleans the wounds, and rebandages them properly. Emily bites her lip, but doesn't make a sound. The head wound didn't bleed, and there are a few minor cuts on her neck that she hadn't mentioned, but nothing else. He still makes a mental note to get her to the hospital the moment they've found Reid, even if he has to carry her over his shoulder. Despite his first aid, the hand probably needs stitches, and he'd trust an MRI more than his own judgment, regarding the head wound.
'It's not your fault,' he says finally, because he knows that that, as much as anything, is what's been weighing on her since leaving Reid's.
'We should have seen something. We should have been able to help him before he was beyond our help.'
'He isn't beyond our help,' Rossi assures her. 'DID's treatable – you know that.'
'You think that that's going to make a difference to him? For all intents and purposes, he's going to think he killed that man, no matter what we say, or what a jury says, or what a psychiatrist says.' She shakes her head. 'Every time someone's having trouble, we turn a blind eye, or we ask if they're okay, but we never really do anything to make sure they are.' She gives a bitter laugh. 'Maybe we're all too busy dealing with our own shit.'
'Maybe,' he says, which seems like the only response to give.
'Anyway, shouldn't you be getting back to Hotch and JJ?
'They'll call me if they need me,' he says matter-of-factly. Because right now, she needs him, even if she won't admit it.
Derek Morgan pulls himself out of the pool, shaking off the tiny droplets of water from his body. Swimming after a workout session always makes him feel refreshed, yet exhausted, so he'll go home, maybe watch some TV, and have a beer. That plan doesn't stay intact for long.
He's still toweling himself dry when he reaches the locker room. With JJ calling at all hours with cases, and after what had happened to Garcia, he doesn't like keeping his phone so far away, but until they make a phone that he can swim with, he doesn't have a choice. There is, of course, the option of keeping his gear on one of those plastic tables by the pool, but Garcia had scolded him for that, too: apparently water isn't good for the phone –"if you get it wet, chocolate thunder, then your warranty is going bye, bye."
One missed call. From Rossi.
The idea that Rossi had tried calling him piques his curiosity – if it's a case, it's usually Hotch or JJ calling (or Jordan, thanks to their latest shake-up). If it's going out for drinks, it's either Emily or Garcia.
While he's busy staring at the phone, it starts to ring again. It's not Rossi – this time, it's "Unknown Number," which is interesting. Thanks to work, and his off duty dealings with real estate agencies and contractors, there are a lot of people that call him, but most of them don't have this particular number.
'Hello?' he answers with a frown, and already he has a strange sense of foreboding.
'Morgan, I need you to listen to me.'
Morgan's frown deepens. It's Reid's voice, and he sounds more terrified than Morgan has ever heard him before.
'Reid, what's going on?'
'I'm going to give you an address, and I need you to come here and handcuff me. Do not let me out of your sight. If I tell you to let me go, do not – do not – listen to me. I'm safe for now, but I don't know how long that will last.'
'Reid, quit messing around, man.'
'Morgan. For once in your life, trust me. I need you to trust me.'
The words echo hollowly in his ears. Reid isn't messing around at all. In fact, he's never sounded more serious about anything in his life.
'Tell me what to do,' Morgan says.
Two minutes later, he has an address scrawled on his hand, and the need for speed on his mind. It's not a particularly long drive to the address that Reid had given him, but the sound of urgency in Reid's words had been second to none. Something very, very bad is going on.
The moment he's on the road, he puts a call through to Hotch, but apparently there are more than a couple of dead zones in the area, because the call just won't go through. Morgan feels like punching something, but at the speed he's going, it's probably not a good idea.
He finds Reid staring into space, about twenty feet from a phone box. That in itself isn't so strange. What's strange is the fact that the younger man has his hands cuffed together around a bicycle rack, and his face is covered in blood. It's not the strangest position he's found Reid in, but he's pretty sure that there's no alcohol involved, this time.
'Did you bring the cuffs?' Reid demands, and Morgan just stares at him.
'Yeah,' he says, finally. 'I brought the cuffs.'
'Good,' Reid says, with a nod. 'I need you to—' He stops, a look of pain cross his face. He gives a strangled gasp. 'I need you to let me go.'
Morgan reaches for his pocket, letting his fingers touch the handcuff key. He remembers what Reid had said on the phone. If I tell you to let me go, do not – do not – listen to me.
'I can't do that,' he says, shaking his head.
'Morgan, please.' Reid is begging, and that, more than anything, is what tips Morgan off. Reid doesn't beg. He doesn't plead. He uses logic and reason to make things go his way. That's the reason why, after so many kidnappings, and hostage experiences, and times of general peril, he's still kicking.
'No,' Morgan says. 'No. You told me not to. You told me to trust you. This is me, trusting you, Spencer.'
The façade drops away, and the expression on Reid's face is one of unbridled fury. 'Let me go, you son of a bitch.' The words seem so foreign, coming out of Reid's mouth – like if Strauss had suggested they all start playing naked limbo.
'Not gonna happen.'
Morgan unhooks his own cuffs from his belt, and dodges the kicks from Reid as he secures them around Reid's forearms; the things are so damn skinny, that the cuffs are still loose.
'Morgan? I blacked out again,' Reid breathes. 'Did I…? I'm sorry, I can't control it.'
'It's okay,' Morgan says. He's not exactly sure what's okay, but it seems like the right thing to say.
'You need to call Hotch. He'll know what to do.'
'I tried,' Morgan says. 'Couldn't get through. I'll try again when you're secure. Why did you call me in the first place?'
'Because I trust you,' Reid says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world. Morgan pulls him to his feet. A man jogs past, frowning at them. Morgan keeps a hold of the handcuffs, and flashes his badge.
'FBI. Everything's under control.' The words are bitter in his mouth, as though the person in handcuffs is really an unbalanced psychopath, and not one of his best friends.
'Use one set to cuff my hands together,' Reid instructs him. 'And then the other set to cuff me to the door. Make sure there's nothing within reach that I can use to pick the lock.'
There's an awkward silence, once they're both settled. Morgan pulls out his phone, and tries Hotch again.
'Morgan? I need you to—'
'Reid's with me,' he says, before Hotch can get any further. 'He isn't going anywhere. What the hell is going on, Hotch?' Reid looks at him, almost apologetic.
'He killed a man, Derek.' Morgan stares at Reid, unable to hide the shock of his own expression. 'He needs to be brought in.'
Morgan looks at Reid. 'You know what you need to do,' Reid says. 'I can't stay out here, like this. I can't let anyone else get hurt.'
Morgan gives Hotch the address, and puts his phone away. 'You really trust me?' he asks, not really sure what he's done to deserve that kind of confidence.
'Of course I do.' Maybe, under different circumstances, it would have been a nice moment.
'So tell me what's going on.'
'It's not that simple.'
'Come on, Reid. You said you trust me, so trust me. I know you wouldn't kill a man unless you absolutely had to.'
'I think I'm going crazy,' Reid says eventually, the words so quiet that it's hard to hear the fear, but it's definitely there. 'I've been having blackouts, and today I found a track mark between my toes, and Dilaudid in my pocket. I don't even remember putting it there.' He takes a deep breath. 'I called John – he was my sponsor, when I was going to meetings the first time around. I blacked out on the couch, and when I woke up, he was dead.'
There's a long silence. 'Then Emily knocked on my door.'
Morgan's heart damn near stops. Emily can't be dead, too. Surely Hotch would have said something.
'She's fine. I think. She's alive, at least. She cuffed me to the towel rack, but I picked the lock – or…someone else picked the lock. I woke up here, and I still had the cuffs on me, so I called you, and then cuffed myself to the bicycle rack.'
'So…what, there's like…someone else living inside your mind?'
'Several someones, actually,' Reid tells him. 'I don't know who any of them are, or what they've been doing when I'm not around, but I can't live like this, Derek. I've killed someone already. It's not safe to leave me like this.'
'We'll get you help,' Morgan assures him. 'It's treatable, right?'
'What if I don't want help?' Morgan's almost surprised, but then he looks back and realizes that it's not Reid who's talking. The facial expressions have changed entirely, but it's not the same Alternate Reid as before. This one looks scared, rather than angry – the kind of fear that Spencer Reid doesn't show. 'I just want you to leave me alone.'
Morgan frowns, trying to think of everything he remembers about multiple personalities. 'So what's your name?'
'Sam. If you try and change things, he'll hurt us.'
'Who'll hurt us?'
'He doesn't want Spencer to be the one in control. It has to be him.'
Morgan frowns. He remembers something about a hierarchy, but he's not really sure how that fits in. Not for the first time in his career, he laments not having done Psychology instead of Law.
'So what will he do to stop us?'
'Anything,' Sam – Reid – says. 'I don't want to die. I don't…Did I go again?' Reid's back, his eyes wide.
'Just for a minute,' Morgan tells him. If only it didn't have to stay that way.
JJ calls Rossi and Emily and Garcia, filling them in on the latest developments. Technically, they're not really needed, but they're coming anyway. Maybe that's what family is, in the end.
It's a warm night, but for some reason, it feels so much colder.
There are so many words to say, and yet none at all.
'What do you think's going to happen to him?' asks Garcia, who sniffs back a tear. At first, she'd been a little miffed at not being told the whole story, but that had melted away quickly.
'I don't know,' JJ says. There's an awkward moment between Emily and Reid, over by Morgan's car, but JJ's not quite paying attention. Part of her wants to go home, to Will and Henry, and to hold her little boy in her arms, and pretend that everything is okay.
Just for a little while.