They were stuck. Stuck in a tiny town in Montana. It was mid-November and heavy snow overnight had left the town shut down. It wasn't really the snow, the locals explained. It was the ice. And one of their snow plows got in an accident last snow fall and hadn't been repaired yet.
So, the team sat in the hotel, crowded into Hotch and Rossi's room as they watched television together. JJ had made popcorn and Morgan and Prentiss were making jokes during the commercials and everything was going surprisingly well. It was a good way to unwind after a case.
All that changed when Reid, who had been mysteriously quiet all trip, practically sprinted to the bathroom.
"Spence?" JJ called after him. She frowned at handed the popcorn bowl to Prentiss before climbing over Hotch to get off the bed. "Spence?" She pushed the bathroom door open and frowned at the sight before her. Reid was hunched over the toilet, vomiting. His body shook.
JJ sat on the edge of the bathtub behind him, rubbing him back until the spasms stopped.
"Why didn't you tell us you were sick?" She asked, getting up to get him a cup of water. Kneeling next to him she took his hands and wrapped them around the cup. "Little sips." She reminded gently.
In the back of her mind though, she remembered Reid had been coughing and had been quieter than usual. He'd passed up a perfectly good opportunity to define something for them that afternoon at lunch. And he'd looked pale the day they had flown out…damn. Had he really hidden it from them for days?
"I didn't think I was that sick." She pressed her hand to his forehead, frowning as she felt his cheeks too.
"You've definitely got a fever, Spence. You wanna take something and go lie down?" Reid shook his head.
"No…I don't think I can…" His hand slid over his stomach and he looked back at the toilet. He closed his eyes, trying to keep from getting sick again, but it was to no avail. JJ rubbed his back, brushing his hair out of his face until he finally slumped back against her.
She rested her chin on top of his head, holding him close for a moment before talking.
"You still with me, Spence?" A weak nod confirmed his consciousness. "Wanna go lay down now?" Another nod. "Alright, let's get up, ok?"
Slowly, they made their way back to the main room, Morgan doing a double take before jumping up to help Reid to the bed. Hotch and Prentiss scooted over.
"What's wrong?" Emily asked, pulling the blankets back for Reid. Reid shook his head, wordlessly crawling under the covers.
"He's sick." JJ answered. The team was watching their youngest member with a critical eye as he dozed. An hour later, he awoke, a hand running itself over and over through his hair. Lifting his head, he was surprised to see Prentiss sitting next to him.
"Hey, sleepy head." She smiled. "How're you feeling?" Reid shook his head.
"Where" He coughed to clear his throat. "Where is everyone?"
"They went to grab some food from the store across the street. I think they're picking some saltines up for you." She teased gently. He groaned and closed his eyes. "So, why didn't you tell us you were sick?"
"I didn't know…" She tilted her head to look at him questioningly.
'"How can you not know you're sick? I thought you knew everything." She smiled but it dropped off her face when he answered.
"I haven't been sick since I was a little kid. And then, there was no one to take care of me." Emily nodded, pursing her lips.
"Well, we will. You're gonna be fine." She continued stroking his hair. Ten minutes passed before either of them spoke.
"Emily?" Reid asked, his voice hoarse and tugging at her heart.
"I'm scared." His voice was soft and she knew he would never say anything like this if he wasn't so sick.
"Don't be, c'mon, you know we've got your back."
"L-last time I was this sick, I passed out at school and got sent to the hospital. My mom didn't come get me for 2 d-days." Emily bit her lip, tears suddenly welling in her eyes. She wasn't the crying type but the image of a little, sick Reid left all alone was upsetting. Especially when he was so vulnerable, right in front of her.
"That's not gonna happen, ok?"
"I don't wanna be alone. Don't leave me alone."
"You're not, alright? We won't leave you alone until you tell us to, ok?" Reid nodded and fell back to sleep as Prentiss continued to play with his hair. Poor Reid. Poor, poor Reid.
When he woke up again he was back in his and Morgan's room, it was dark and he was wearing pajamas. He tried not to think about that.
"Hey there, pretty boy." Morgan smiled to see him awake. "How ya feelin'?"
"Horrible." He croaked. Morgan nodded.
"Your fever's still pretty high. You sure you don't wanna take something for it?" Reid nodded.
"That is the biggest lie you've ever told." Morgan sat on the bed next to him, touching a hand to his forehead. "You're pretty sick, Reid." He nodded, closing his eyes.
"I…I used to get really bad nightmares when I had fevers as a kid. Just so you know."
"Alright. It's fine, Reid. I understand." Reid nodded, swallowing painfully.
"Just thought I'd let you know…" He must have drifted off to sleep, because the next thing he was aware of was waking up terrified. Something was holding him down, not letting him escape. He struggled for a minute until he happened to glance up and see Morgan's face, etched with concern.
"Reid, Reid, c'mon, man, calm down. It's ok, you're fine."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I-"
"Shh, it's fine." Morgan grabbed the thermometer off the bedside table "Open up." He slid it under the younger man's tongue and closed him mouth gently. When it beeped, he pulled it out, whistling as he read the temperature.
"103.4. You should probably take some ibuprofen or something." The thought of swallowing anything made him shudder.
"I can't…" Morgan rolled his eyes.
"C'mon, Reid. Just some little pills."
"They'll make me sick." He closed his eyes and curled up in a ball. "What time is it?" He murmured. His body ached. He couldn't remember ever feeling this bad.
"It's about midnight." Morgan sat next to him, opening a book he'd been reading.
Several minutes later, Reid sat up, looking around the room a moment before trying to stand up. Morgan looked up from his book and jumped up, grabbing him before he fell to the ground. As he pulled him back to the bed, arms around him protectively he asked
"What the hell are you doing, Reid?" He laid the younger man back down, watching him concernedly.
"Was gonna get some water…" Reid closed his eyes.
"All you had to do was ask, man. You don't need to go walking around while you're this sick." Morgan patted his legs and brought over a cup. "Here, it's not water. JJ said white soda would help your stomach." Reid nodded, taking a tiny sip of the proffered beverage.
"Thanks." Morgan took the cup back as Reid's eyes closed.
"Not a problem. I'll put it on the nightstand, ok?" Reid nodded. Morgan didn't want to admit it, but Reid sick worried him. There was something vaguely unnerving about the way Reid was no longer reciting facts and statistics.
He sat and read his book, occasionally glancing over at the younger man to check on him. At least an hour had passed since Reid had had some soda. He thought the kid was asleep, until a tiny voice startled him.
"Morgan?" Morgan looked over, meeting Reid's brown eyes with his own.
"Am I gonna die?" Reid's voice was small and hoarse. Morgan frowned.
"Of course not! You've just got a little bug, that's all. You'll be fine." He smiled reassuringly. Reid shook his head.
"If something happens to me…could you tell my mom I love her?" Morgan's frowned deepened.
"Reid, man, you're alright. You're gonna be just fine. You just got a flu bug, that's all." Reid shook his head.
"Promise you'll tell her?" He begged with his scratchy voice. Morgan scooted over to sit closer to him and ruffled his hair protectively.
"Jeez, Reid, you're really warm."
"Morgan…" Reid shivered and leaned into Morgan's hand when he pressed it to his forehead. "I don't feel good." Morgan chuckled, trying to hide his worry.
"That's a bit of an understatement." He checked Reid's temperature again, frowning at the numbers. "103.7. It's up more than last time." Reid nodded, looking like a sick puppy the way those brown eyes were looking at him.
"I don't wanna die."
"You're not gonna die."
"It feels like it." He groaned, letting himself fall back against the pillows. Morgan chuckled.
"I know. You'll be fine, though." Morgan could feel his heart beat finally returning to normal; it had started racing when Reid said he didn't want to die. The kid sure knew how to scare him.
When Reid woke up again, Morgan was nowhere to be seen. In his place was Hotch. It was strange to see the unit chief in sweats and a t-shirt.
"Hotch?" Reid seemed surprised by the sound of his own voice. Hotch looked over.
"What time is it?" He could barely understand himself.
"It's a little after 5. Go back to sleep."
"Can't." Reid shifted a little.
"Everything hurts." Hotch nodded, moving closer to Reid. He pulled him close, a hand coming up and running through his hair. He hoped this worked with Reid as well as it worked with Jack. Reid looked up.
"What're you doing?" Hotch sighed. Of course Reid would ask questions.
"I'm comforting you. Trying to make you feel better. Do you want me to stop?" Reid shook his head.
"No…It's just…no one's ever done this before."
"No one?" He felt sure that someone must have sat with him like this before, if not his parents then some other relative or maybe a girlfriend.
"No one. My mom…my mom didn't notice when I was sick…It's not her fault." Hotch smiled sadly.
"I know, Reid. How do you feel?" Reid tilted his head back into Hotch's hand, a slightly skeptical look on his face, as if unsure if this contact would really help.
"I feel…bad. Really, really bad." The older man rubbed his back.
"You have a very high fever. We'd like it if you took some ibuprofen."
"Can't" Spencer almost whined, his hoarse voice cracking.
"And why not?"
"I…my throat…my stomach…I just…can't"
"Alright, ok." Hotch soothed, sensing the growing distress in his agent.
"I...everything hurts. My skin hurts. My head hurts. My throat. I keep having nightmares." He stopped talking to cough, the action making him wince in pain. "M-my stomach hurts. My head hurts."
"You already said that." Hotch kept his voice low, trying to stem the panic he heard growing in Reid's voice. "You're alright." Reid looked up, eyes brimming with tears and pressed his lips together. He fell asleep only moments later, exhaustion claiming its victory.
When he awoke again, the room was lighter. Someone was rubbing his back. Reid opened his eyes, slightly shocked to see Rossi. He opened his mouth to say something but couldn't. His eyes widened as he touched his throat, drawing the older agent's attention.
"Can't talk?" He asked, barely glancing up from his magazine. Reid nodded. "You'll be ok. I wasn't going to say anything anyway." Reid leans back into the pillows. He thought he'd feel better in the morning but he feels even worse.
Unable to see the clock, he uncharacteristically grabs Rossi's wrist to look at the time. It was just about 8am. Rossi couldn't help but smile at him. He'd never admit it, but he had always had a soft spot for Reid.
"It's still morning. If they dig us out, we might even get to the airport today." Rossi said dryly, flipping the page. Reid nodded.
He was very still for the next twenty minutes. He tried not to think about how everything hurt and how different being sick now was from being sick as a kid. It made him think of his mom and thinking about his mom always gave him a lump in his throat. And it was hard enough to breathe right already.
Rossi didn't look over until he heard a wheeze in Reid's breath. Reid's whole body was atremble, his eyes closed, looking damp at the edges. Rossi sighed. He'd never had kids, but he thought he knew how to deal with Reid.
"C'mere kid." He mumbled, putting his reading down for a second. He pulled Reid to his chest, rocking him slightly. "Easy breaths now, alright? Easy, easy." Reid whimpered, a tear slipping down his already flushed cheek.
Rossi felt himself beginning to panic. He didn't want to deal with crying. Not with Reid, especially.
"No, no, no. You're gonna be fine. You're doing great." Reid shook his head, more tears escaping. His body shuddered as he held back a sob. "C'mon, kid. What's wrong?" Reid didn't and couldn't answer, pressing himself closer to Rossi.
The older man shifted slightly, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. Reid listened to the conversation, but everything sounded like it was muffled or very far away.
"JJ? Can you come and check on Reid? No, yeah, I'm with him, but…Well, you'll do better." Rossi hung up and tossed the phone onto the bed. He usually was more collected but he usually didn't have their youngest field agent clinging to him and crying.
JJ and Hotch arrived after only a few minutes.
"What's going on?" JJ asked. She looked at Reid and she instantly seemed to become gentler. "Oh, Spence…" She took him out of Rossi's arms and hugged him before wiping the tears off his face. "Pass me the thermometer." She whispered, pointing to it. Hotch handed it to her and sat down on the foot of the bed. "104.1" She murmured once the reading appeared.
She pressed a kiss to his forehead, frowning at the dry heat. With a fever that high, he should be sweating.
"When was the last time he had anything to drink?" She asked, a soft menace creeping into her tone. Hotch and Rossi exchanged glances.
"Well, he's been asleep pretty much the whole time I was with him." Rossi explained quickly. Hotch nodded.
"He wouldn't even take ibuprofen when I was watching him."
"What about Morgan? Did he give him anything?" She asked, her eyes narrowing.
"So…da" Reid managed, his voice cracking. She sighed.
"Poor baby. What was I thinking, letting those boys take care of you?" She kissed his forehead. Rossi was already getting a cup of water. She looked at Hotch. "You have a kid, Hotch, you should know that fevers can dehydrate someone, especially high fevers." Hotch felt his cheeks heating up a little. He knew he should've known, but he hadn't even thought about it. He should've just made Reid take the fever reducers when he was with him.
Rossi handed her the cup and she coaxed the feverish agent into drinking it slowly. When he finished the cup, she smiled at him.
"We'll wait a little while for the next one, ok?" He nodded sleepily, too tired and sick to be embarrassed about his position in her arms. Over the next couple hours, she got him to drink several more cups. Slowly, the rest of the team had assembled in the room, pretending to be watching TV but still frequently sneaking glances at the youngest profiler.
He was like their baby brother and they hated the thought of anything happening to him. Reid was such a unique person and, though some of them would never admit it out loud, it meant a lot to be close with him.
Walking away from the sitting area, chuckling at something Prentiss had said, Morgan sat next to JJ.
"How's our boy doing?" She smiled.
"He looks a little better. He's still so tired." Morgan nodded.
"You know, it's not surprising Reid got dehydrated. I mean, all he drinks is coffee." JJ laughed.
"That's true, I hadn't even thought about that." She stroked Reid's hair, soothing what might have been a nightmare. "He needs to take better care of himself."
"We all do. We live off coffee and junk food. It's inevitable that something would happen like this." He looked down at Reid, sad smile turning happy when those brown eyes opened. "Hey there, pretty boy. Nice of you to join us."
"Wha' time is it?" He asked groggily.
"Almost noon. You've been out for a while." JJ answered.
"Reid's awake?" Prentiss asked, looking over her shoulder. Rossi and Hotch looked up too.
"Hey, guys." He blushed slightly, seemingly embarrassed by the attention. Hotch walked over, thinking how nice it was to see Reid awake and talking again, even if he did look rough around the edges.
"Hey, Reid. How do you feel?" Reid shrugged.
"I've felt better. My throat's still really sore." He rubbed at his neck unconsciously.
"Do you think you could handle some medicine now?" Reid gave his superior a skeptical look. "Just ibuprofen. It'll make your throat feel better and lessen your fever."
"I guess so." He decided. He didn't feel like his stomach would expel anything else. He'd had plenty of water without consequence so far. JJ pulled some medicine out of her purse and handed it to him while Morgan provided some water. He swallowed the pills, wincing a little.
"There ya go." JJ smiled. "You should feel even better in no time." Reid nodded and closed his eyes, drifting back to sleep as the others looked on.
"You think he'll be good to fly today?" Hotch asked. JJ nodded.
"He should be fine. He'll probably sleep the whole time."
"We'll let him sleep for a while, while we get everything packed up." Rossi said as he walked over.
Reid woke to Morgan gently shaking his shoulder.
"Hey, c'mon, time to go. Your bag is in the car already." Reid nodded dully, the fever being lower had made him more comfortable but he still had to combat the aches and pains. And his throat was killing him.
Morgan watched Reid fumble to tie his shoes and put on his coat before being led out to the car. He slept most of the ride to the airport, waking just long enough to walk to the plane and collapse on the couch.
"Poor kid." Prentiss sighed as she, Morgan and JJ watched their resident genius snooze.
"Yeah. I can't believe he didn't tell us." JJ frowned.
"He said no one's ever taken care of him before and that he hasn't been sick since he was just a kid." JJ and Morgan exchanged sad looks. They never seemed to learn anything happy about Reid's childhood.
They were still about an hour away from home when Reid woke up. He rubbed his eyes and sat up slowly before clumsily making his way to the table.
"Hey, feeling better?" Prentiss asked. "Want me to deal you in?" She nodded to the cards in her hand. Reid shook his head before letting it come to rest on the table.
"I feel like I got hit by a truck." His voice was muffled and hoarse but more understandable than he had been previously. Morgan chuckled, rubbing his back.
"Want more medicine?" JJ asked, reaching out and checking his fever with her hand. "You're still too warm." Reid nodded, obediently taking the medicine she handed him.
He watched them play cards for a few rounds, remaining eerily silent, his head resting heavily in his hands.
"Did you know that-" He began before a coughing fit interrupted him, causing him to double up in pain. When the fit finally died down he shook his head. "Nevermind." He mumbled, voice rough. Morgan chuckled.
"Why don't you go lay down? I'll wake you when you land, c'mon." Morgan guided Reid back to the couch, pulling a blanket over him and brushing the hair out of his face before turning back around to be faced with the grinning faces of Prentiss and JJ. He rolled his eyes at them.
"Awww. You guys are so cute." Emily teased. JJ nodded.
"Adorable." Morgan just laughed shaking his head before changing the subject.
"What are we gonna do when we land? I mean, do you guys think he can go home by himself?" He looked from JJ to Prentiss. They looked over at Reid, watching as he shifted on the couch, lips moving as if he was speaking. From the expression on his face, they could tell these weren't peaceful dreams.
"One of us could go with him." JJ suggested. Morgan nodded.
"I'll take him. His place is pretty close to mine anyway. We'll go grab his stuff and then he can stay with me until he's better."
They waited until the plane had landed to wake Reid up, smiling to themselves as he grouchily got up and grabbed his go-bag , leaving the blanket in an unfolded heap on the couch. Hotch was the last one off, guiding Reid gently off the aircraft.
"You sure you're ok?" He asked, looking worried. Only just last night, Reid had been pretty sick.
"I'm alright. Just wanna sleep." He coughed, turning away. They made their way down the stairs, Hotch keeping a wary eye on the profiler.
"Speaking of which, how are you getting home?" Reid looked up.
"I'm taking him." Morgan interrupted. "C'mon, pretty boy." Hotch smiled as Morgan led Reid away, teasing him playfully as they made their way to the car. Reid would be alright. True to Prentiss' word, they wouldn't leave him alone. Not until he told them to.
Epilogue:2 days later
Morgan woke up to see Reid standing over his bed. He startled sputtering out a few exclamations until he settled on one.
"What do you want?" Reid pointed to the door.
"It's 9:03AM. My fever has been gone for exactly 12 hours and 13 minutes, according to your temperature readings. I've been here for 2 days and the entire time you have hovered over me. Your dog just leapt onto the couch and woke me up. I want to go home and stay there. By. My. Self." He emphasized the last words, pointedly glaring at the dog in the door way. Morgan looked from the dog, which seemed to be smiling, if dogs could smile, to Reid, who had his color back and his eyes looked ready to kill.
"Alright, alright just let me get dressed." He held up his hands as he got out of bed, turning away from Reid so he couldn't see the big smile on his face. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a jacket over his boxers and T-shirt and slid his feet into his shoes.
Neither of them said anything as they left, Reid looking like an upset ten year old with his arms crossed and unbrushed hair falling in his face. When they arrived at his apartment, Morgan put the car in park.
"You ok to go up those stairs, pretty boy?" Reid nodded, getting out of the car. Before he closed it, he looked up tentatively.