A/N: About a week or so ago, I posted a Reid-fic, called "Tears and Scotch", that had Garcia and Reid talking about Emily. An anonymous reviewer left a wonderful review and asked if could write one where Reid talks to JJ about Emily. I had a hard time picturing it, but then I saw "Proof", and it just screamed at me to write. This is what became of that surge of inspiration. Hopefully, the anon reviewer reads this, because without his/her insistance, this fic might never have happened.
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds, or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's nice to dream, but sadly, this is reality.
Ten Weeks of Grief
"I came to your house for ten weeks in a row, crying over losing a friend, and not once did you have the decency to tell me the truth!"
The first time Reid went over to see her was the same night. He hadn't even made it home from the hospital. For hours, he just drove around aimlessly in his car, trying to decide what to do. Then, suddenly, he recognized the neighborhood, the street, the house he had parked outside of. JJ and Will's house. He could see the lights on, JJ pacing in the livingroom with Henry in her arms. Her features were out of focus, and Reid realized it was because of the tears in his eyes. He sniffled, took the key out of the ignition, and stumbled up the driveway and to the door. Two heavy knocks on the door, and he waited.
It was Will who opened the door. When he saw Spencer, he didn't even say anything, no greeting, just called JJ over. He could see her now, shock on her face.
"Spence..." she whispered, handing Henry over to Will. "Are you..? Come in."
He stepped inside, his arms wrapped protectively around himself. It felt like he had to hold onto himself; like if he let go, he would fall apart, because there was no one else to hold him together. Will gave him a look that said "I'm sorry", then took Henry upstairs. The little boy was getting so big, and Reid got sidetracked by the feeling of having neglected his duties as godfather. He knew Garcia still went on shopping sprees, keeping Henry's toy box stocked for years to come. What had he done for his godson? Promised to get him into Cal Tech with one phone call. Participated in the christening, Henry's birthday parties.
JJ's worried voice drew him back to reality, one where he felt even worse. The world began to crumble again, and he took a deep, shaky breath, wrapping his arms more tightly around himself. JJ guided him to the couch in the living room, and they just sat there for two hours. They didn't even talk. He just cried, and she held him because there was nothing else to do. She couldn't have gotten him to talk that night no matter what. He drove home in the night, feeling numb and empty.
He'd hold it together for a week, plus minus a day, and then he'd be back outside their front door, two heavy knocks, while the world slowly fell apart around him again. After the third visit, Will stopped coming to the door. They knew it was him; the two knocks, so pleading and full of despair made them aware of his presence. Reid finally answered one of JJ's questions on the fifth visit. He mumbled "Yeah" when she asked him if he would be okay to drive home.
Sometimes, Henry would be with them. After the worst had passed, JJ would get him from the nursery, and they'd take turns holding him, watching him drift off to sleep. It was the innocence that got to Reid, it made him feel hopeful. Henry had his entire life ahead of him. There would be pain, Reid was sure of that. The odds of Henry not encountering some form of pain were microscopic. But right then, at that instant, there was nothing in that little boy's life that was threatening, or painful or sad. It was comforting, and Reid imagined himself safe during those moments, like he was part of the safe bubble Henry lived in. No pain, no fear.
And he kept going and going until he crashed again and again.
Reid never told anyone about his visits, how he would crash every week because Emily's absence was so obvious, so tangible and so extremely painful. His team may have suspected, he noticed Garcia and Seaver eyeing him during lunch, and Morgan wanted to ask him so badly what was wrong, but he had his own issues. Like finding Doyle. The way Morgan and Garcia locked themselves away, whispering and handing off folders... It apparantly took a genius to figure out they were trying to find Doyle. Reid let them. They let him crash and burn in peace, so he let them conspire in peace.
"What if I started taking Dilaudid again, would you have let me?"
He was in no way proud of what he almost did. "But it hurts so much" was in no way a justifiable excuse in his book. He should have been able to fight it. But... it just hurt so much.
It was a Wednesday night. Once again, Reid found himself on JJ and Will's street. But the house was dark, no one was home. He waited, drove around the block for two hours, in case they were just out and would come home. But the house stayed dark, and no one answered when he knocked on the door.
An irrational fear took hold of him. Emily was gone. What if... What if... Those two words sent him spiralling down into a frenzy. What if they were gone, too? JJ, Will and Henry. Two words unhinged him, and he broke down, stumbling back to his car. The world started to spin, everything moved out of focus, his body went numb, from his toes to the tips of his ears. His consciousness began letting go, receding from reality into some safe hiding place in the back of his mind. A strange sound echoed in the small car, a staccato bouncing around the interior.
His first and only time hyperventilating.
"I need... I need... I need to..." he kept repeating silently to himself, fighting to rein reality back into focus.
He forced his mouth shut, trying to take deep breaths through his nose. It sounded like a violent case of hiccups and snorts, but slowly his pulse calmed, and the paralyzing numbness gave way. Before he knew it, he was driving. Away from JJ and Will's nice neighborhood to a part of town he hadn't been in for almost three years. After Tobias's supply of Dilaudid ran out, he had gone to great lengths to find a dealer. There had been a guy. Wasn't there always a guy? He would supply Reid with two small bottles of escapism every week.
"Well, lookie, lookie. The big man's back."
He had flinched. The sinewy dealer had emerged quietly from the shadows, and now looked at him with the intensity of a predator zeroing in on its prey. Reid didn't answer. The less he said, the better.
"You out for the usual? You in luck, man, I just refilled my supply and..."
He didn't need to hear more. He fished out his wallet, shoving a wad of bills into the hands of the dealer, assuming prices hadn't skyrocketed.
"Still all business, I see. Alright, step over, big man."
In the safety of darkness, Reid was handed two clinking bottles of Dilaudid. No words were exchanged. He pocketed the bottles, and left.
It was only when he came home that he realized he didn't have his gear anymore. The sleeve of his right arm was already rolled up, and he could still see the faint marks of where he had injected himself, and he went over to a small drawer to get a syringe. But there were none. He had thrown away all the syringes and needles when he joined NA. But somehow, just having the two bottles alleviated some of the angst, and the world didn't end that night either. He put away the Dialudid in his bathroom cabinet. No one visited him, so no one would find them.
He kept the Dilaudid for another two weeks. JJ called him the day after, saying a neighbor had seen him outside their house. Her voice was so even when she said she had been called in on a case, and Will had taken Henry to visit his mother in New Orleans. In hindsight, Reid wasn't sure if JJ had been telling the truth or not.
For ten straight weeks he kept going back, kept crying, kept clinging to the notion that it would get better. But it never got better. It helped for a while, like the Dilaudid had, and then it got worse. How had Arthur Dent phrased it? "In his experience, things generally got worse, and on the rare occasion, when things actually seemed to get better, it was only as a dramatic prelude to a cataclysmic worsening." When the eleventh week rolled around, and Reid could feel the now familiar pull of anxiety, he didn't at once get up, get in his car and drive to JJ's. He sat on his couch, knees pulled against his chest, arms around his legs, and waited it out. He breathed. He felt the numbness reach his chest, and then dissipate. His breathing only picked up for a minute or so. The pain was still there, gnawing away at his soul, but it wasn't all-consuming. It chipped away at him, a little at a time, but it didn't immediately destroy him. It would get worse, but at least it would give him time to find a way to stop it.
And then Emily came back. After almost seven months, she walked into their lives again, alive.
And then he found out JJ had known.
Reality crashed. Full-frontal collision with his impression of her. His trust in her was shattered into tens of thousands of tiny pieces, and for once he didn't want to stick around to pick them up. He was angry, and he let her know, hell, he let everyone know. He couldn't understand, couldn't fathom this betrayal, and JJ's poorly disguised jab at him about the unsub in Oklahoma acting out just tore parts of him to shreds even more. But he still refused to pick up the pieces. He was much too proud to show how bad he was really hurting, and how much he missed the times before all of this happened.
It wasn't not until Prentiss talked to him on the jet that he let down his guard. It was the same message, almost the same words, but it was Emily, and that made all the difference.
"You mourned the loss of a friend. I mourned the loss of six."
Reid realized he hadn't been the only one to lose someone. He had... They had lost Emily. He had been so fixated on his own loss and the torment that came along with it, that once the news of Emily's recovery and return were revealed, he didn't stop to think that she had lost them. For months she had lived without them, mourned them because she couldn't tell them she was okay.
"Sorry I'm late."
Against what seemed like better judgment, he showed up. If things didn't work out, or if Rossi couldn't cook to save his life, he could always leave, he told himself. Reid looked around the room, his team, his friends looking at him, all smiles and warm welcome.
Suddenly it was there. The pieces of himself that shattered, the ones he left behind. They were there, in the kitchen, putting themselves back together before his eyes. The time for mourning is long gone. Ten weeks of inexplicable pain and fear laid behind him. JJ looked expectantly at him, and Emily sent him a thankful look. Reid smiled at Rossi's quip that followed his apology, and he joined them. He briefly pondered saying something to JJ, but she shrugged and turned away. Not because she was holding a grudge or trying to give him the cold shoulder. She knew, and it was all okay.
"We're gonna do this, all together, just like a family."
The clink of glasses sounded through the kitchen, and like a magic spell, Reid finally felt like things were okay, and not in the prelude to a cataclysmic worsening-kind of way. It really was okay, because they were all there, together.
A/N: The review button beckons you. I'm such a sucker for feedback.