Disclaimer: I own nothing Criminal Minds related and the base of this story belongs to RoseLaurel.
Warnings: This is HotchxReid slash. In addition, it is rated M for a reason. There will possibly be drug use, questionably consensual sex, possible violence, and whatever else I feel like throwing in. I'll note, however, that the questionably consensual sex is more simply because I personally don't think that a person under the influence can fully consent so that's more semantics than anything else but I figured I should add it just in case I offend someone. But yeah, not a fun, nice story. Probably won't have a happy ending either just because I'm like that. Read at your own caution.
I have yet again been inspired by RoseLaurel's Live and Let Love, this time Tourniquet which is by far my favorite. I absolutely adore it. You should read it because I keep reading them. XD So needless to say, this story would not be at all possible without her.
And by the way, the first quote is from season two, episode nineteen. It's the episode that takes place directly after Jones.
Hotch didn't understand how anyone could have missed it.
"He's like a drug addict, only fire's his drug. Each time an addict needs a fix, they need more of the drug to get off, so his crimes will most likely get much worse. It'd be almost impossible for him to quit without help."
Reid didn't talk about his problems, didn't ask for help. Hotch didn't think Reid knew how to. After all, Reid had not only taken care of himself from the single digits but his schizophrenic mother as well. He had attended high school and been savagely bullied before age twelve; had attended college surrounded by peers more than twice his age, none of whom had taken very kindly to the boy genius outshining them without so much as even trying; Reid had even been bullied while enrolled in the academy. Reid would never admit to the last one or any of it really without the proper pressuring, but Hotch knew. He didn't know how the rest of the team couldn't. Sure, Reid seemed almost normal around his own team, relaxed even, as if he was actually being himself, but place Reid with anyone else within the agency… It was clear as day when an agent from another branch would stop by and Reid would go pale and shrink back, as if he were expecting someone to hit him. Sometimes the agent would give Reid a knowing smirk, and Hotch would know.
But never once would Reid even signal that he required assistance. If anything, Reid went out of his way to make sure that he wasn't a burden on the people around him. Some might have viewed Reid as a socially awkward burden at times, but Reid always seemed to be trying his best. Hotch didn't believe that it was his fault.
So when the younger male offered that simile, a completely unneeded comparison that may not have been wrong but certainly hadn't added anything to the profile, Hotch knew. He knew that it was worse than any of them had originally thought and that this was Reid's way of begging them for their help. Surely one of them, Gideon or even Morgan at this point, would step up and take care of their youngest member.
So Hotch left it alone because it wasn't his place to offer the younger male his help. After all, Gideon was like Reid's surrogate father figure, the kid's mentor and the closet thing he had to a confident, and Morgan was the big brother figure, the alpha male in Reid's life that offered a sense of protection. They knew Reid best. And Hotch? He was just Reid's boss. Formality and professionalism was the barrier between the two of them. Reid wouldn't want him for a confident; he was probably the last person in the world that Reid would consider opening up to what with Reid's avid fear of being taken out of the field.
So Hotch left it alone until the end of the case. Left it alone, watched, and waited for someone to help Reid. It didn't happen. They just went about their business, seemingly oblivious to the tremors in Reid's hands as he squirmed in the jet seat; oblivious to the chills that rolled down the pale frame despite the sweat dampening Reid's forehead.
Oblivious to the fact that Reid disappeared into the bathroom, clutching his messenger bag as if it held his salvation. Oblivious to the fact that when Reid immerged more than twenty minutes later, his form had stilled and he seemed almost… functional. Functional, but hallowed out.
Like a walking corpse.
It was a morbid thought, but Hotch couldn't think of a more appropriate way to describe the way Reid stumbled back towards his seat, barely making the effort to raise his feet. A corpse lost in a haze.
Hotch waited even then, his gaze lingering on his team, on Reid's makeshift and self appointed family that all proclaimed that they cared, but none of them moved. Reid was drowning and none of them thought to even so much as glance up. Gideon kept his attention on his case file, making notes for himself and taking sips of his coffee at random intervals. Morgan sat leaning back in his seat with his arms folded across his chest, the very picture of comfort as he lost himself in the blaring music from his headphones. JJ and Prentiss were deeply invested in a conversation about plans for the weekend, about the possibility of meeting up for a drink and maybe going out dancing later. And Reid? Reid was left to nestle himself as far away from the group as he could manage given the confined space, the shame evident on his face.
Slowly, Hotch pushed himself to a stand, making his way towards where Reid had curled up on a seat. Reid, not having noticed Hotch's approach, looked to be in pain. Not physical, no, Hotch had seen Reid in physical pain many times before and it looked nothing like this. This was somehow worse.
As Hotch seated himself down across from Reid, he became aware of the fact that while Reid hadn't even been given a single glance by the group of profilers before, by the sole act of Hotch moving to be beside of the young genius, they were now the center of everyone's attention. As if Reid now suddenly mattered.
Hotch ground his teeth together, angered by the thought.
They may have given up on Reid, but Hotch refused. He wasn't going to allow this to happen, not to Reid.
He had also gained Reid's attention by now, panic flittering across the pale face, sullen eyes widening ever so faintly. "Hotch?" he asked, his voice an octave higher than usual but it came out no louder than a murmur that screamed a clear prayer of, Please don't have let him notice. "Everything alright?"
Hotch could have snorted. No, everything was not alright.
But Hotch didn't know what to say because despite his want to help, he didn't know the young male before him. He knew the profile, he knew the history, but he didn't know Spencer Reid. But what the profile told him was that if he said too much, there was no doubt that Reid would bolt. Say too little and Reid would believe that Hotch was just being polite, being a "concerned" coworker.
Like how a cashier would ask the person they were ringing up, "How's your day?" The only proper response from the customer was, "Good, and yours?" Polite, but not sincere – a farce of manners that society had dutifully engrained within each of her citizens.
Too little and Reid wouldn't accept his help; he would only decline with a bright smile and the assurance that nothing was wrong, everything was perfect, everything was shitting rainbows and glitter because all was right in the world. He'd probably even find a statistic or two to back up his bullshit happy exterior. Maybe a Star Trek reference if he thought that Hotch really needed the extra reassurances.
Finally, after the silence had stretched between the two of them, Hotch pulled his business card from his wallet and pushed it across the slick surface of the table towards Reid. Reid, in turn, blinked in confusion but nevertheless reached out to accept the card, hands no longer shaking, gaunt fingers delicately holding the card out for inspection. Hotch couldn't help but wonder if Reid had always been this thin? When was the last time he had seen Reid consume anything but coffee?
Coffee and his vice, Hotch thought bitterly to himself.
Reid gingerly flipped the piece of cardstock between his fingers as if he might perform a magic trick, running the pad of his thumb across the slightly raised emblem of the FBI seal beside of the name Aaron Hotchner. Reid ran his finger over the thirteen stars that stood for the unity of the original colonies – where was the unity of the team when one of its members was suffering? Instead they all sat apart, separate, their own needs placed first and foremost. A loving caress to the shield that represented justice. Hankel had kidnapped and tortured the innocent male before Hotch, and now Reid was suffering the consequences. Where was the justice in that? Red stripes that represented courage, valor, and strength. But under Reid's fingers? All it made Hotch think of was blood.
A few moments later and Reid once again lifted his gaze to return to Hotch. "Hotch?"
"I want you to put that in your bag," Hotch stated quietly, eyes still trained on where Reid's fingers covered the seal on his card, trying not to think of Reid's blood.
"Because the next time you disappear into the bathroom because you can't stop your hands from shaking," Reid visibly paled, trying to sputter out a feeble response, but Hotch wouldn't let him, "I want you to think of me. I want you to know that you can call me at any time, for any reason, no matter what. And I will be there for you. Not as your boss, but as your friend."
Reid swallowed. Nervous didn't even begin to describe the fidgeting male.
"Put it in this pocket," Hotch stated quietly, leaning forward and pushing a finger to one of the pouch pockets of the other's bag. Hotch could feel the cylindrical container beneath the faint pressure, and Reid once again looked terrified, even after Hotch had pulled back. "That way, the next time you have to reach in there, you have to go through me."
Reid's eyes flickered downwards, refusing to meet the older male's gaze. The panic and fear didn't lessen in the least. "But Hotch…"
"But nothing. You need help Spencer, you said it yourself." Hotch paused, studying Reid for a moment. The younger male was close to bolting. Hotch had pushed as far as he could. As a reassurance, Hotch added, "I'm not going to force it on you, however, but it's there for you whenever you need it."
Hotch waited until Reid gave him a small nod to show his understanding before the unit chief moved to a stand. He moved past the younger male, knowing that he would only be intruding and making Reid further uncomfortable if he stayed though he did offer a gentle pat to the younger male's shoulder as a reassuring gesture.
Hotch couldn't help but notice out of the corner of his eye as he resumed is previous seat that the young genius hesitated for only a moment before the business card disappeared into the pouch of his bag that Hotch knew to contain the Dilaudid.