All standard author's notes and disclaimers apply.
Summary- Everyone has someone to hear those three words from, but for Reid it's rare. With the team, it's conveyed with actions, but a case makes Morgan decide that isn't always enough. Not slash and not as smarmy as it sounds. Oneshot.
Words He Never Hears
Bill Lemmings' hand was shaking and tears were streaming down his cheeks as he pointed a gun at Morgan, the agent likewise standing prepared to fire if the killer moved so much as an inch in the wrong direction. Morgan's muscles were tight and his temper barely in check as he glanced briefly at the crumpled form of his youngest colleague and friend lying unconscious on the floor, a line of blood running from his temple. The blast of the gunshot still echoed in Morgan's mind, as did the feel of Reid's hand on his shoulder suddenly shoving him forward and the quick single-word warning that Morgan had had no time to react to.
Returning his gaze to the pitiful man in front of him, all sympathy was drained from the older agent at the thought that Reid might be dead or dying and that this man was responsible. Lemmings was not going to get away or take the easy way out, which was clearly something he was considering as he ranted about the woman he'd loved. Morgan knew the story- over the last week his team had slowly pieced together the killings of four young blond-haired, green-eyed women who'd been stabbed in the heart and left with love-letters clutched in their lifeless hands- and right now he cared nothing for Lemmings' regrets.
"She's gone! My beautiful Suzie! She's gone, and I never told her how much I loved her- how beautiful she was in my eyes. She never knew... she couldn't see it!" Lemmings broke off into harsh sobs that wracked his body as he remembered the woman he'd silently cherished and who had secretly battled severe depression until two months ago when she took her own life. "Suzie..."
Jaw flexing with the urgency to end the situation as quickly as possible and get Reid to a hospital, Morgan forced himself to focus on Lemmings' pain in order to talk him down. "I know you loved her, Bill, but it was not your fault." he stated with equal measures of sterness and compassion.
"I should have told her!" Lemmings argued tearfully. "If I had, maybe I could have made her see how incredible she was, and she'd still be here..."
Morgan shook his head. "Suzanne's problems were too big for any one person to fix. She needed professional help that she never looked for or made known she needed. What you're doing now is not going to bring her back or make things better."
Lemmings didn't reply, but another harsh sob errupted from his chest. Morgan tried again.
"Do you really think this is what she would want?" he reasoned, pouring every effort he had into reaching the other man as precious seconds that could mean life or death for Reid ticked by. "If Suzie was as incredible and wonderful and loving as you say she was, then she wouldn't want anyone to get hurt; not those women, not you."
Lemmings turned his bowed head to the side as he tried to hide the tears painting his wet face. "She left me." he accused softly, admitting for the first time that his pain was mixed with anger not entirely for himself.
Morgan was unsurprised. "But you are not alone!" he countered immediately, sensing he was getting closer to achieving his goal and anxious to have the killer in cuffs already and Reid in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. "You still have a lot of people who love you- your mom and sister, and how about your best friend, Joe? Put your gun down and we can deal with this." he coaxed.
Another shudder ran through Lemmings and Morgan inched closer, prepared to take him down by force if he had to. This was going on too long... However, Lemmings nodded and suddenly dropped his arm, the gun clattering to the floor as Morgan hurried to him before the situation could change again and forcing the killer to his knees and his arms behind his back as he latched the cuffs around his wrists. Lemmings was sobbing uncontrolably now and, at any other time, Morgan would have been struck with pity, but his attention was fixed solely on his best friend. As other cops that had been waiting outside rushed in, Morgan left Lemmings and went to Reid's side, shouting for paramedics and fearful of what he would find as he reached out to touch the pale neck...
His heart almost burst with relief when he felt the strong and steady thumping beneath his fingers.
Hours later the majority of the team was standing in a pristine white hall of the hospital Reid had been taken to, phones ringing in the reception area beyond and doctors moving about busilly as they were paged over the intercom to one place or another. Morgan was deaf to all of it, his arms crossed and his body ridged as he glared at the closed door that seperated them from Reid, although they all knew by now that he hadn't been severely injured. The bullet hadn't pierced his skull, as they'd feared, but had merely grazed his temple and knocked him out as he'd hit the floor. Reid had regained consciousness shortly after being loaded into the ambulances and, although a little groggy and with a wicked headache, appeared to be fine.
However, the doctors had insisted on doing a catscan to insure that he was okay and concern over his still-healing knee had been raised and additional x-rays had been ordered. Morgan hadn't seen much of his team mate since leaving Lemmings' house except for a second here and a second there as Reid was moved about and examined. The team had at last been allowed in after the tests were finished and they had all been relieved to see Reid sitting up in the hospital bed, a bandage on the side of his head covering the wound and a chagrined smile stretching his boyish features with the guilt of once again ending up in trouble. In good nature and to soothe their own frazzled nerves, they'd teased the young genius and Garcia had mothered him- even Hotch made a joke about hazard pay- and Reid had endured it all gracefully and with appreciation. However, the doctor had come back in a few minutes later and once again they were forced to wait outside as Reid was given the results of the tests.
His knee was the only thing that remained a real concern and, for that reason, Morgan was still uptight, well aware how delicate knees were and how little it could take to cause perminent damage. Reid had been coming back well from the gunshot wound sustained months earlier that easily could have crippled him, but he'd landed hard on his left knee when he'd fallen and Morgan feared a reinjury might not only undo all the progress that he'd made but prevent him from ever fully recovering. Reid was too young to have a perminent limp or need a cane, and certainly too energetic to be held back by a physical impairment- not to mention how dangerous it could be for him out in the field if he got into trouble and wasn't able to run or jump when he needed to or move as quickly as required. What if this got Reid killed some day? How would Morgan live with that, knowing that he was to blame for the injury because he hadn't seen Lemmings and Reid had thrown himself on Morgan in order to save him? Reid had already nearly taken a bullet to the head for him today; Morgan didn't need this on his conscience as well.
He sighed heavily as he watched the door, anxious for what was being said on the other side, but fought to keep the appearance of being calm. Even if the limp didn't get Reid killed, Morgan knew how hard being on the cane had been for his friend- although he'd never complained- and a permenant injury would surely suck some of that precious and rare joy out of Reid's life. Frankly, Reid didn't have much joy to spare and Morgan didn't want to see any of it diminished, and certainly not because of him and his foolish mistake.
Finally the door opened and Dr. Rowland came out, everyone's attention immediately breaking from their quiet conversations and turning onto him. He stopped in front of the door and stuffed his hands in his pockets as Hotch and Morgan stepped towards him.
"How is he?" Hotch was the first to ask- more by purpose than chance, since he was Reid's superior and Morgan didn't want to seem any more concerned than he'd already shown himself to be.
Rowland smiled reassuringly. "Oh, I think he'll make it out in one piece. He has a minor concussion, a more considerable headache, but- whether or not you like it- he is and will continue to be every bit the genuis he was yesterday!" he lightheartedly informed them of his patient's condition.
That much the team had pretty much already known, but they still relaxed minutely to hear it reiterated.
"What about his knee?" Morgan asked, not waiting to get to their chief concern.
Rowland sombered slightly but didn't lose his optimistic air. "Well, for that he's going to have to see his primary doctor, but I've x-rayed it and looked over his case history and I don't think there'll be any long-term damage. He's a little sore at the moment but, in a couple of weeks, he should be back up to par- or at least to where he was before. As I said before though, he'll have to be examined by his primary doctor to verify my prognosis. Although Dr. Reid certainly agrees!" he added with a soft laugh, and this time everyone including Morgan smiled in response, the melting tension giving way to the doctor's humor.
"May we see him now?" Hotch pressed.
Rowland nodded. "He can go home tonight, as long as he's driven and someone stays with him." he informed and everyone instantly knew Morgan would insist on taking both jobs. "If one of you wants to come with me, I can get his release forms and you can sign him out." he concluded, looking to Hotch who he knew from Reid's paperwork was listed as his next of kin.
Hotch nodded and Rowland turned without further confirmation or conversation, leading him down the hall to the reception area to take care of the business, and the other three agents hesitated only briefly before entering Reid's room through the still open door. They stopped barely passed the threshold when Reid looked up, smiling at them bashfully in greeting, and then they came the rest of the way in.
"So, hear the good news?" he asked rhetorically, pulling himself up a little straighter as they gathered around his bed and doing his best not to seem like a victim. "They're cutting me loose!"
Morgan snorted a laugh. "Yeah- with adult supervision!" he joked, happy to see that Reid was indeed okay, although he noticed the slight grimace that passed over his face as he shifted.
"It's just a precaution because of the concussion. It's not really necessary-" Reid began to shrug off dismissively, but Morgan interrupted.
"Uh-uh-uh!" Morgan shook his head. "Don't think you're playing that game! Doctor's orders are doctor's orders- no arguing!" he chided with a grin as Reid blushed.
J.J.- more sensitive- stepped up to the end of the bed and gently squeezed Reid's bare toe. "You had us worried." she reminded warmly.
Remorse washed Reid's face, hating to think of causing J.J. or any of the team distress, but at the same time was also touched by the sentiment. "I'm sorry." he appologized, pausing briefly as he recalled the events that had led to his hospitilazation and assessing if there was anything he could have done differently to prevent it. "I should have seen Lemmings sooner-"
Again, he was cut off, but this time Morgan was grave and stern when he spoke, self-bratement in his tone and expression. "No, I should have." he corrected. "I was at point; I missed him. You saved my life; don't go appologising for my mistake."
"This wasn't your fault-" Reid argued, incredulous that Morgan was blaming himself.
"It was my responsiblity." Morgan stated firmly, the darkness in his eyes declaring that that was all that mattered to him. Gone was the mirth that he'd come into the room with and J.J. and Garcia watched the exchange between the two men somewhat uncomfortably but didn't insert themselves, sensing it wasn't their place- at least not yet. "I failed and anything that happened to you or could have happened to you after that is on me. I should have seen Lemmings when we went in and I didn't; you could've been killed because of that!"
Reid shook his head with a small smile to reassure his stubborn friend, absently thinking how typical of him it was to guilt-trip like this. "But I wasn't!" he pointed out. "And, even if I was, it wouldn't have been your fault; I know you pride yourself on your physicality- your ability to bust down doors and tackle the UnSubs- but even you can't see everything or stop everyone. That's why we work together and have each other's backs." he reasoned lightly, encouraging Morgan to see his point. "I saved you and you saved me; it all evens out in the end."
Morgan's face remained grim as he stared down at Reid, unconvinced, and Garcia nudged him gently with an elbow and he turned to her broad grin. "He's right, you know." she said. "You talked Lemmings down and kept him safe; everyone's okay and no one's too severely injured- so there's no need for anyone to go harpooning themselves!" she rebuked forcefully and shot Reid a pointed glare to let him know that included him.
The younger agent conceded easily enough, glancing at her appreciatively with mild amusement, but Morgan was silent and unresponsive for a long minute before he finally sighed heavily. "Yeah, I suppose." he at last recanted, his eyes shifting to Reid as he wondered how things might turn out the next time if he messed up.
The thought wasn't veiled to Reid's perseptive scrutiny but he recognized he wasn't going to get any further with Morgan and decided it was time to change subjects. "So, where's Hotch?" he wondered lightly, shifting as he addressed his superior's absense.
"Filling out your release forms." J.J. answered, happy at the idea of getting Reid out of there.
"Oh, good. That's... nice." Reid replied with obvious relief. Then his brow furrowed. "He isn't the one staying with me, is he?" he asked, sounding nervous at the notion.
Morgan actually snorted a little at that, a thin smile crossing his lips. "Why? You have a problem with Hotch?"
"No, no!" Reid immediately corrected. "It's just..." he floundered for words to explain his hesitation to being in closed quarters alone with his boss, but came up empty. "...Hotch." he finished at last, looking up to his team mates hopefully for understanding.
Garcia chuckled with a nod but kept the teasing going. "Oh, I'm sure daddy Hotch would take just fine care of you!"
At this point believing Hotch was intending to stay with him and resigning himself to that fact, Reid tried to be positive despite his clear dubiousness. "Is that before or after I lose the last of my dignity?" he joked meaningfully, slightly horrified at Garcia's suggestion. While Reid wasn't much of an egoist, he still had points of pride and, if there was one thing he was used to, it was taking care of himself.
Laughing, Morgan decided it was time to put him out of his misery, as much as he was enjoying making Reid squirm. "Do you think your dignity will be any more intact with me?" he asked, revealing the true arrangements.
Reid's tension melted a little at the turn around but his face remained concerned as he considered the proposal. "Uh... my dignity, yes. I'm not so sure about my peace and comfort!"
"Hey!" Morgan objected, although the sparkles in his eyes belied any offense. "I'll have you know I'm a very considerate and pleasant person."
Reid averted his gaze as he jokingly scoffed under his breath, "Yeah, when you're not tackling somebody..."
Understanding the reference, Morgan shook his head with a grin. "You are not still holding on to that!" he argued, recalling the one time he'd tackled Reid along with a teenage UnSub that had had the younger agent at gunpoint.
The girls, however, were thoroughly confused. "Okay, what am I missing?" J.J. wondered, looking at the boys and then at an equally befuddled Garcia. The boys didn't reply, however, and the inside joke passed without explanation.
"Well, then-" J.J. switched topics, sensing the general good mood in the air that was the final proof that everyone was alright, "I wish I could stay longer, but I have to get back to the station to finish up some work." she announced. Again, she squeezed Reid's toe with a warm smile. "I'm glad you're okay."
He smiled at her and then she left. At the last moment, Garcia turned and followed, calling after her, "Wait, J.J., do you know where the ladies' room is?" Both disappeared within seconds, although the latter was sure to return in a few minutes, and the two men regarded each other with residual amusement and encroaching unease.
Reid shfited, pulling himself up a little higher on the bed. "Thanks for doing this. You don't have to, you know." he reminded, feeling guilty for putting the other man out.
"You're my friend, why wouldn't I?" Morgan asked, as if the suggestion he would do otherwise was dumb. "Aside from the fact that you may try to force a 'Star-Trek' marathon on me!" he added.
"That might be hard to do without my DVDs." Reid noted.
"Ah, well, see then!" Morgan laughed. "There's absolutely no danger!"
"Not unless you want to find some place that rents." Reid agreed, sharing the levity. However, after a moment, he sombered slightly and it was obvious his thoughts had changed track. "How's Lemmings?"
Recognizing this Reid- the side that was always empathetic to the UnSubs, even to his own detriment sometimes- Morgan wished briefly Reid had more of a black-and-white viewpoint of the UnSubs but didn't linger on it. "He's been taken into custody and is being processed." he answered honestly. "There don't appear to be any more victims we hadn't discovered yet. There's plenty of evidence tying him to the murders around his house; the trial should be open and shut."
Reid nodded as he listened, pensive as usual. "It must be hard to live with that kind of regret; never telling Suzanne how he felt until she'd taken her life, not knowing the pain she was in... thinking maybe he could have made a difference if he'd spoken up." he mused, contemplating the repercussions of Lemmings' silence.
"It wouldn't have changed anything." Morgan interjected, worried about the road Reid was going down. "The idea of one man saving a damsel in distress is for movies, not reality. She needed more help than that."
Shaking his head, Reid sighed. "It might not have changed things for Suzanne, but it might have for Lemmings." he stated, making his point. Seeing that Morgan understood but that he was concerned that Reid was taking the case too hard, he tried to allay Morgan's fears and explain the source of his musings. "It's just sad that he let his regrets dictate his actions, not only taking the lives of four innocent girls, but ultimately destroying his own life as well."
Comprehension dawning- that Reid was truly reflecting on how important it was to not hold oneself back and to not be dragged down by regrets once they existed- Morgan nodded. "Yeah, I thought of that myself." he agreed softly. "After my dad died, I spent entire days thinking about all the things I should have said or I should have done or the things I wished I could take back... you either learn to put it behind you, or it consumes you." he admitted, suprising himself as much as Reid to volunteer the private information.
But he knew Reid wouldn't think less of him for it and was reassured by the faint smile he received. "I know."
Of course, he did; with everything Reid had been through- first growing up, then on the job- he'd had plenty of experience learning to let things go and to stop beating himself up for things he couldn't change. At his lowest point, he'd used dilauded to escape and had teetered on the edge of self-destruction, but he'd come back and dealt with his pain and fears, putting the past into its place and moving ahead.
Morgan had to question his own regrets- what he might be thinking or berating himself for either doing or not doing at this very moment if that bullet that had grazed Reid's temple had been an inch to the left- wondering how he would have dealt with Reid's death for the hundreth time since arriving at the hospital. He'd come back to Lemmings wailing over unspoken words in almost every instance, but Morgan had kept shoving the memory aside, reminding himself Reid was alright and Lemmings was inconsequential. But was there a lesson to be found?
It was the question he'd been chewing on for hours, stubbornly coming back no matter how much he tried to spit it out, because what bothered him wasn't Lemmings' regrets; it was Suzanne's pain and her ignorance of how wonderful she'd been in Lemmings' eyes. Even if that knowledge didn't save her, it might have at least made her life or her outlook on herself a little brighter, and it was sad that gift- so easy to give- had been withheld for whatever numerous reasons had restrained Lemmings.
Morgan didn't doubt that Reid knew just as the rest of the team did the mutual affection they had for one another, even if it was never spoken. It was showed in actions and displayed in gestures, and the support and warmth of their family was ever-present and could always be relied on- but was it enough? How hard would it be for Morgan to open up for just a minute and verbalize what was already known, just for the sake of saying it- banishing his regrets and letting Reid hear what he was probably rarely told?
The thought repeated in Morgan's mind and the cold truth of it pitted in his stomach as he looked at his friend and he knew in that instant that, regardless of whether or not he needed to, he was going to say it. Shifting, Morgan tried to make himself comfortable, sighing as he searched for a place to begin. "Thank you for saving my skin today." he said at last. "If it hadn't been for you, I would've been six-feet under."
Reid shrugged as he smiled uncomforatbly at the praise. "So would I, if you hadn't been there." he pointed out.
"Yeah, well... like you said; we watch each other's backs." Morgan recalled warmly, conceding to the mutual save. After a brief moment, he went on. "We've been working together for five- going on six- years and we've seen and been through all sorts of bad things, getting into and out of scrapes like it's just another day at the office." he stated, causing Reid to laugh lightly at the truthfullness of it.
"But," Morgan continued when the humor had died a little, "I don't think I've said how much I appreciate you, and I just want you to know that... I love you. As my best friend and as my brother, and I deeply respect and admire you for all you can do and all you choose to do." he admitted, attemtping to keep the delivery from being too cheesy or sentimental but also determined to say what he meant.
Surprise washed Reid's face at the uncharacteristic emotional openness but he didn't question it, and the value of Morgan's words was clear in his eyes as he stared at his friend, a little too stunned to speak right away. "Morgan, I-" he at last began, only to be cut off.
"Don't! Don't even think about it!" Morgan warned with a grin, nervous Reid was about to reciprocate. "Or else this whole thing's going to turn really gay and then it'll be my dignity on the chopping block. So, whatever you're thinking about saying, keep it to yourself. Besides," he added, glancing at the bandage on the side of Reid's head meaningfully, "I already got the message loud and clear once today, and I don't need it reiterated."
Gratitude welled up in Reid, causing him to laugh as he shook his head. "Can I at least say thank-you?" he half-joked.
After contemplating it for a second, Morgan nodded. "Yeah; consider it said."