It had been a long day.
With the Un-Sub in custody and on his way to jail, there was no reason for the BAU team to hang around the crime scene.
Yet they each had trouble leaving.
They hadn't been able to save the Un-Sub's last victim - a young blonde by the name of Hanna Hill, only 24 - and their grief was more potent than anticipated. Hotch paced across the length of one of the walls, rubbing the back of his neck and glancing at his team, occasionally opening his mouth as though he had something to say yet could not find the words. Prentiss was sitting on a crate by the door, her face buried in her hands. Rossi was leaning heavily on the door frame, staring at the blood stain on the carpet. JJ was speaking in a soft voice to one of the detectives on the case, explaining how best to break the news of Hanna's untimely death to her family and fiancé. Reid was in the hall, his foot tapping a mile a minute, his arms folded across his chest, trying very hard not to think about the black bag that had been carried out earlier containing the girl's dismembered limbs. Morgan had gone ahead to fetch the car, wanting to get out of the house as soon as possible.
It had been a long day.
It always seemed to Reid that the cases that were closer to home, like this one, always seemed to hit the team a little harder, knock them down a few more pegs than usual. Like it could no longer be pushed away; they couldn't go home and think to themselves, 'It happened in Louisiana or California or somewhere far away. It couldn't happen here' as they often did (though they never admitted to it). Reid hated the cases that took place only a stone's throw from their front doors. He hated the reality of it, the fact that, on any given day, while out for a drive or on their way to dinner with a friend, they could pass the house in which the victim had been brutalized and it would all come flooding back. He hated not being able to escape.
Morgan's voice broke through Reid's thought bubble; he looked up and smiled - a tight smile that only affected his mouth - then fixed his stare on the ground.
"You got the car?" Reid asked without thinking. Of course he has the car. How else would he have gotten back here?
"Yeah. You ready?" Morgan placed a hand on Reid's shoulder, his thumb and index finger resting on Reid's neck; the most publicly obvious yet simultaneously hidden display of affection Morgan gave.
Reid nodded, waved good-bye to Rossi, jogged down the steps and out onto the front porch. The large black SUV was parked directly in front of the door, shiny from the slight rain falling. He heard the front door close behind him and felt Morgan's hand on the small of his back; unconsciously, he leaned into it, as though looking for support he wasn't aware he needed.
"Let's go, kid," Morgan whispered in his ear. Reid heaved a sigh and nodded.
The ride back to Quantico was long and silent. The trudge up the steps to the apartment was long and silent. The air between the two men seemed to be thick with some unvoiced thought, one both of them had and one both of them were unwilling to bring up.
It was nearly midnight. They needed to sleep, even if the next day was Saturday. Both were exhausted, yet neither of them particularly tired. Reid flopped down, stretched out, on the couch; Morgan took the reclining chair, open beer in hand.
The silence surrounded them.
"We should go to bed," Reid muttered. Morgan grunted. Neither of them moved.
Morgan ran his hand down his face; Reid looked at the ceiling.
"I can't sit here," Morgan said suddenly. Reid looked over at his boyfriend; he'd stood up, put his open beer back in the fridge, slipped his feet back into his shoes and slid his arms into his coat.
Morgan looked at him. "I'm going for a walk. Wanna come?"
Without saying anything, Reid stood up, slipped on his own shoes, wrapped himself in his scarf and coat and took his boyfriend's hand.
There shouldn't have been anyone else outside.
It was nearly midnight. It was cold. There was snow in the sky and snow on the ground. It was quiet. It was distracting. It should have been perfect.
There shouldn't have been anyone else outside.
The relationship between Morgan and Reid wasn't a secret; they'd told their coworkers, told their parents and, in Morgan's case, his sisters. They were happy together.
They were just a little shy about being overly public with it.
Naturally, they were holding hands; it was quiet. There shouldn't have been anyone else outside. Not at midnight. Not in the cold.
But there was.
They didn't see him at first. It was dark. It was cold. They were distracted by the snow on the ground and in the sky and by the goings-on inside their own heads. They weren't talking; they weren't even looking at each other. But they were holding hands. They were smiling, at least a little. They were happy, for the first time since they'd started the case three days prior.
They didn't see him at first.
They heard him.
Reid felt Morgan tense by his side. He looked over his shoulder; there was a man standing just a few steps behind them, his hood up, his eyes boring into Reid's back, burning with hatred.
Reid tried to keep walking.
Morgan turned around.
"What'd you say?" Morgan asked. Reid suddenly felt nervous and little frightened.
"Morgan, just ignore him."
"What'd you say, man?" Morgan said again, louder. He was purposely drowning out Reid's warning's. He'd never done that before.
He was looking for a fight.
"Morgan, let's just go, he's not worth it," Reid said, his voice taking on a slightly panicked tone.
"I called you a couple o' fags." The stranger spat on the ground a few inches away from Morgan's shoes. "What you gonna do 'bout it, fag?"
Reid didn't know what Morgan would do; he could never have predicted his boyfriend's actions. He couldn't have stopped Morgan from pouncing on that man and landing his fist on his nose because that was the last thing Reid would have expected Morgan to do.
But that's exactly what he did.
It was over as quickly as it started; Reid leapt forward, grabbed one of Morgan's shoulder's and wrenched him off the man, then began pulling him down the street. They were only a few blocks away from their apartment; they could make it back before the man called the cops, before there was too much trouble.
Reid knew they'd have to confess eventually.
But not now. Now, they needed to get home.
Reid heard the man yelling, but he didn't turn around. He just kept dragging Morgan down the street, away from the danger. He was still dragging him when they arrived at the apartment. He was still dragging him when he went up the stairs and unlocked the door and stepped over the threshold.
It was once the door was safely closed and locked that Morgan wrenched his arm from Reid's hand.
For a long second, they were quiet, the kind of quiet that settles and fills in every crack and makes you think it's going to last forever.
But Reid wouldn't let that happen.
"What was that?" He asked, still facing the door. Morgan didn't answer.
Reid turned around.
Morgan was facing the wall, his back tense, his shoulder's slumped, his head down.
"Morgan?" Reid said softly.
"Doesn't it just piss you off?" Morgan said suddenly.
Reid swallowed. "Well… Yeah, but…"
"Why should we have to just stand there and take it?" Morgan turned around; his face was contorted, his eyes shadowed by an anger Reid didn't fully understand. "You… You were just gonna walk away. You weren't gonna say anything." Morgan sounded as though Reid had shot him, turned on him, tortured him or betrayed him somehow. As though this was the biggest offense Reid had ever made.
"Of course I wasn't going to say anything, Morgan. He's just so… insignificant. He doesn't matter. By not saying anything, we're the bigger men."
Reid would later reflect and decide it was his poor choice of words that caused the whole argument anyway.
Morgan shook with frustration. He glowered at Reid. He was beyond reason; he was simply angry and there was nothing Reid could do or say that would change that.
"Are you saying I was being small by doing what I did?!" Morgan burst. Reid jumped.
"What?! No! I.. I was just… I just…"
"Are you saying I'm weak because I can't defend myself against people who hate me?! Want me dead, even?!"
"Morgan, calm down!" Reid pleaded.
"No! I won't calm down! I'm angry, Reid, I'm pissed! I can't even defend the man I love! How do you think that makes me feel? I want to be able to say I love you and not be worried that I'll be judged for it!"
"That's fine!" Reid shot back. "It's okay that you want that, but you're handling this situation all wrong, Morgan!"
"DON'T TELL ME WHAT'S RIGHT AND WHAT'S WRONG, REID!" Morgan belted.
Neither of them knew what happened for a second. There was only the resounding smack, the way Reid's head was thrown back, the stunned silence and the loud, angry huff of Morgan's breath resonating in the hallway.
Then Reid looked back at Morgan.
"Morgan…" Reid began. He choked. He stopped. There were tears welling up in his eyes; he fought to keep them from escaping.
Morgan only blinked. He didn't say he was sorry. He didn't try to hug Reid like he always did after a fight. He just stood there, glaring at his boyfriend.
Reid felt something inside him snap and, in the same instant, the tears began to fall and Reid had no way to stop them.
"What the hell?! Why would you do something like that, Morgan?! I… I mean…" Reid exploded, running a hand through his hair and looking around. There was nothing to look at. They kept the apartment as bare as possible, just in case. The only place for Reid to look was at Morgan.
"God, I can't even… WHY?!" Reid yelled. He could feel the tears on his face, on his chin, on his neck, soaking the collar of his shirt. He wasn't mad at Morgan; he was mad at the world.
Morgan didn't respond; he opened the door, slammed it behind him and pounded down the stairs. And Reid leaned back against the wall, sank to the floor, placed his head in his arms and sobbed.
Reid waited an hour for Morgan to come back. At one in the morning, he decided he was no longer waiting but was staying up for his own pleasure, which was a complete and utter lie. He tried to eat - an apple, some oatmeal, leftover chicken - gave up and, turning off all the lights in the apartment, crawled into bed, alone for the first time since before he and Morgan had started dating.
He fell asleep, though it was fitful, uneasy and he woke up crying several times. At around 3, he was woken by the sound of the front door opening. He stayed perfectly still. He saw a crack of light appear beneath the door. He heard the person - he knew it was Morgan, but refused to admit it to himself - shuffling around, dropping keys on the counter, calling someone's name - his name - and then Reid stopped caring. He turned over, facing the wall and not the hall.
The light beneath the door disappeared. The door to the bedroom opened.
Reid didn't answer. He was asleep, he told himself. He heard the zipper of a pair of pants, heard the pants hit the floor, felt the duvet being pulled back, felt the bed sink under the weight of his boyfriends' body. He inhaled. He didn't smell alcohol. He didn't smell cigarettes or anything more putrid, like the reek of pot. Morgan didn't smell of dirty sex or cheap perfume. He just smelled like his cologne and his skin, the smells Reid was familiar with.
Reid turned over so he was facing Morgan.
"Where'd you go?" Reid whispered into the darkness.
"I just went for a drive. I needed to clear my head. I'm sorry, Reid, I'm so sorry."
Morgan cupped Reid's face; he felt, beneath his palm, the abnormal swell of Reid's cheek, the spot he knew would be red for the next few days. He had hit him. Hard. Harder than he had ever thought he would hit someone. And that someone had been the man he loved.
"God, Spencer… I'm so sorry," Morgan whispered, leaning forward and touching his forehead to Reid's. Reid felt tears spring up in his eyes again. He didn't fight them. Slowly, they worked their way out of his eyes, over the crest of his nose, down his cheek, onto Morgan's thumb and into his palms, at which Morgan became aware that his boyfriend was crying again, because of him again and Morgan felt like he, himself, might cry, too.
"Oh, Spencer…" Morgan whispered in anguish and pulled Reid closer, ghosting their lips together, at which point the tears Reid didn't know he'd been holding back burst forward, along with an ugly sob and he buried his face in the crook of Morgan's neck and clung to his shirt while Morgan wrapped his strong arms around Reid's shoulders and held him tightly.
When Reid was done, he sniffled, wiped his nose on his hand and touched his forehead to Morgan's again.
"I'm sorry," He murmured. Morgan scoffed.
"Pretty boy, you have nothing to be sorry about." Morgan had used 'pretty boy'. Reid felt as though he might start crying again.
Instead, he pressed his mouth against Morgan's and kissed him until they fell asleep.
Outside their window, the sun was rising.