Title - Whittled
Author - Kourion
Summary: For two months, Spencer Reid had been missing. And now he had been found. Abducted by a man called the Hunter Moon Killer. And like all of the HMK's victims, Reid had been brutalized. But unlike the others, he's the only one to have ever been found alive. / Reid-pain. HC/ Morgan-Reid friendship fic.
A/N: My style is first person perspective, typically. For those of you who are familiar with my Mentalist fics, you'll know I tend to have a more experimental style. If it's not your cup of tea, please just give it a shot.
This is my first Criminal Minds fic. Oh, my spell-check at the public library is, apparently, not working. All errors are my own.
I know I have Mentalist fics to finish! My computer is in the shop, so the only update time I get is, unfortunately, at the library.
When I was a kid, when things got really bad - when the memories got bad - I'd sometimes cup my hands together, and gaze through the restricted space.
Sometimes I'd use toilet paper rolls to do the same thing. I'd look at some microscopic space of my room, and tell myself that what I was seeing - some segment, almost meaningless - was the only reality. That every awful thing I was feeling didn't have to exist.
All I had to do was focus on whatever I was focusing on and tune out the rest. So I'd stare, and focus, on inncuous things. Things. Not emotions. Nothing that could hurt.
Perhaps part of a sports poster, or part of a venetian blind. The chipped section of drywall near where I had attacked my door in a fit of rage wouldn't work, never could. It reminded me.
But that was it. If I did it all right, it helped. I'd focus, and distance myself, and after awhile it helped. It helped to reduce the ache in my gut.
It didn't totally annihilate the feeling. Nothing did.
But it helped.
When I later joined the BAU, I found the skill came in handy. Compartmentalization. I wasn't the only one who'd tried to cultivate the skill, as I could recall Prentiss speaking the same words. The same admittance.
A much needed skill for anyone seriously considering a career in the FBI. Doubly so for a profiler.
So there I was, three years in with the BAU, and somehow still feeling pretty green at 31. And Spencer Reid came along. This not-quite-23 year old kid, who seemed in some respects as emotionally vulnerable as a child even though he possessed the mind of a scholastic giant.
At first, I found him quirky. Almost hard to take. His non-stop need to inform. To share what he loved with such nova-star intensity that anything I said in response fell flat, dead, empty.
I don't really think I found him smug or elitist for any extended period of time. Not really. Because he liked to share whatever he loved. Wanted the rest of the world to love it, too. He didn't hold his intelligence over everyone else. He wasn't a snot.
And it was pretty damn obvious that Reid loved to learn for its own sake, and that he liked to share his passions almost as much - not to show off - but because he wanted everyone around him to be as interested in the subjects as he was, as passionate.
Probably an impossible task. Certainly a Herculean one, given that he was interested in everything, it seemed. Passionate about so much. He loved facts and figures and stats and trivia far too much for anyone to keep up with him.
He quickly became a mock-little brother of sorts to our team. To me, Hotch, JJ Elle - and later to Emily. Gideon was always too much the dad for him, but Reid was the baby of the team. At almost five years younger than JJ, the next youngest, it couldn't be helped. And she had risen quickly - a star in her own right. But she also had spunk and a resolute sense of herself that made her seem her age. Reid didn't have that. He seemed hesitant. And times even self-deprecating. He seemed like a 14 year old emotionally, with adult insights, and the mind of a prodigy. A childlike-ageless blend that can really never be fully explained to someone who doesn't know him.
But I felt it, then. That self hesitancy. That doubt. Like he was expecting himself to screw up some routine task, and not just the obstacle course work. The physical training exercises.
I could never figure out why. Not really. Certainly he had eclipsed his peers in just about every area since childhood. Scratch that: since infancy. Save for the overt muscling-up obsession that seemed commonplace to the newer, younger and male agents, which I highly doubt he cared much about anyway.
But he remained somewhat hesitant. At times, almost blissfully unaware, squinting his eyes autistically as he relayed a fact. As if he had to shut his eyes to cut out the stimuli. He'd fiddle. Twirling his Casio 1970's watch around and around on his thin wrist, the arm itself the colour of paper, the veins blue-green strident in any light. I always wondered if he had anemia. His atrocious eating habits would have made it a real possibility: he considered sugar-coffee one of the four main food groups, with the other three being Rice Krispie squares, Fruit Roll Ups, and Zoodles. When I'd get on his case about it, he'd chew up a Bugs Bunny chewable vitamin, as if that somehow put my mind at ease. If anything, it made me realize just how oblivious he was about some things, such as how other people viewed him.
I saw him as a very bright, borderline-eccentric kid with a famously huge heart, tic-like mannerisms, and momentary lapses of self-esteem.
Of course, over the years, Reid semi-grew up. He'll probably always have a more youthful edge to him; he doesn't play by normal rules, or care about convention and in many respects - he's pretty innocent. But he was getting stronger, more self-assured. Especially in the last year or two.
Sometime he'd slip a bit (he had been too hard on himself for far too long to have the trait disappear entirely); mostly if he hadn't had enough sleep, or was feeling segregated from others, from people his age, from the ease of a friend-base outside of the BAU.
But he was doing fine, as far as geniuses go. He was learning to play the Oboe. He was getting his Masters in Philosophy (Existentialism being his favourite subdiscipline, I quickly learned ). He had taken a course in pruning and making bonsai plants. He was laughing more, reading our sarcasm better, and recovering from snarky comments like an adult and not a scared teen. He had even kicked a diluadad addiction - though we took his lead, and never talked about it - and had even stopped grieving for Gideon. At least, overtly.
He was doing so well.
And then Kevin Daley, then unknown - then only referenced as the Hunter Moon Killer - had abducted my friend. My little brother.
Had kept Reid in a cave of a basement without sunlight or heat... for slightly over two months.
And when we found him - when we found Spencer - not dead, but just barely - we realized that all the progress and the growth and his increasing self-confidence had been hacked away at and all that remained of him was a very frail person.
A very lost person.
Very much unlike the Spencer Reid we were starting to know.
Today is visiting day.
Technically, I guess, every day could be visiting day. Provided we're not on a case.
But that's just a potentiality for some later time, when Reid's doing better.
When Reid isn't avoiding everyone's eyes, and muttering in one word 'sentences', and not radiating such self-hatred from his being that it takes all my strength not to shake him, yell at him, get him to SEE.
Upon approaching the nurses' desk, I can see that Monica is now on duty. I flash her a smile, and she jots down my name, and the time of my visit.
Derek Morgan. 2:08 pm, Saturday.
I no longer need to flash ID. She knows the whole team so exceedingly well, probably much to Spencer's upset.
Most days, I really think he'd prefer if we didn't come and visit him at all.
"How's it going, Derek?," Monica asks easily.
Monica reminds me of my sister, Desiree. But in teutonic form. She's an ex-pat from Berlin, and stands about 5 ft 10, 160 lbs. Not fat. Solid muscle. But her personality reminds me of my sister. They both have the same gaze in their eyes, the same warmth.
"Pretty good. Can't complain personally. No case, or I wouldn't be here. How's the kid doing?"
She gives a hesitant smile, then nods. Her eyes are dimmed now, but not her smile.
"He's doing okay."
"These things...these things take time. He's not going to be like the old Spencer you knew in a week, or two, or three. Healing takes longer than that."
I sigh, almost inaudibly. I know this.
"Is he up for visitors? I mean, if he's really having a bad day, I want to give him his space. But I don't want to let him slip from us."
"He didn't tell me to turn anyone away," she tries to soften the blow with a pinched smile, her accent thick and somehow reassuring.
That such kindness exists universally, too. It's a consolation.
"That's not really a convincing argument, Monica."
She makes a quick scrawl on the pad, before I have time to object.
"I'm signing you in, Derek. So now you HAVE to visit him. If you leave, and he sees that on the docket - he's going to take it personally."
"Okay, then," I let out a pent-up breath I didn't even realize I was keeping inside. "Know where he is?," I add, not unpleasantly.
"I think he was washing up some clothes. I saw him in the laundry room earlier. Always with the Tide. It's nice to have someone so clean."
I'm not really that surprised.
Reid's been doing a lot of laundry these days. Even when he doesn't wear his clothes, even then - he washes them.
I knock tentatively.
Reid is busy retrieving overcooked items from a red Maytag drier. The color of the appliance reminds me of a candy apple from a small town fair.
I blink when he extracts the items.
His clothes look baked.
He gives me an awkward half smile that looks more like a frown while he nervously fiddles with the lines of the items, folding them perfectly.
Absolutely nothing at ease in his gaze.
He never was this precise before.
If anything, he was borderline messy: finger nails a little too long, hair that edged towards raggedness more often than not, clothes rumpled like he had slept in them, perhaps.
His voice still sounds raspy.
"No case," I agree. "How's your throat feeling, buddy? The chloraseptic doing anything for the pain?"
Reid hesitates, then shakes his head.
His throat still hurts, as I knew it would.
Everything that I ask him sounds so stupid these days.
"Well, it'll take some time to heal," I supply, dumbly. "Baby steps, and all that."
Reid stares at an impossibly narrow sweater vest for such a tall man.
He's lost too much weight.
He's always been thin -
no, skinny -
He folds it. Puts it in the cheap blue basket, amidst tawny socks and argyle knits of mustard yellow, and pea green that I always found so horrendously ugly until I met him. Then, after then, the colors grew on me. Not ugly, just strange, the mixtures.
But so very him.
"It'll heal faster if I can just go home," he says. "My throat." It sounds like a whisper, but it's not. "Less talk, less badgering nurses."
We both know Reid hasn't been in the clinic for two weeks because of his attack.
Sure, he needed recuperation time.
He did. He also needed two bags of blood that wasn't his, heating blankets, and a trauma surgeon to perform an emergency surgery of his lower quadrant large intestine. And that certainly was dangerous. And he came incredibly close to bleeding out.
But that's not why he's here now.
"You got to work with your doctors."
He fixes me with a hard glare.
"I can outshrink any of them. This isn't...doing...anything for me. It's just making me..."
I give him a moment. Let him finish formulating his sentence.
He blinks at his pants, running a line across one yellow-threaded seam. Yellow, bright, like the sun - the thread. On burgundy courderoy.
Where does he find these clothes?
"My houseis probably in shambles. All my plants will be dead."
I fix him with a look.
"Penelope's been tending to everything, Reid. Your plants are fine."
Your plants are fine. You're not.
"I can't-," and he shuts his eyes.
I force myself not to waver on this.
"I want to go home, Morgan. Sleep in my bed. Not here. I hate it here."
He bites back a sob, and I realize this would be infinitely easier to do if he didn't sound like a homesick 7 year old.
"Reid, you know they won't take any-"
"I'm sorry," he whispers, interrupting my speech. "I am. I shouldn't have said it. I didn't mean it. I didn't."
I will my stomach to unclench.
"But Hotch thought you did. Rossi thought you did. And I think, at the time, you did mean it."
He regulates his breathing. Twists his mouth, like he's tasting something sour.
"I don't mean it anymore. And I want to go home. This isn't my home. I want to go back to my apartment."
I help him fold two mismatched socks. Not like it matters much.
All of Reid's socks are mismatched. He likes them that way. Mismatched socks, tweed pants, wearing his watch on the outside of his shirts, sweater vests. Satchel bags.
Some things are just him.
I toss the remaining orphaned items into his laundry basket, and pass over a book.
"Dabrowski. You asked for it, I looked for it. I have some cds in there too. Debussy, some jazz. Recompositions of Vivaldi. All your favorites."
Reid lets his lean fingers run along the plastic seam of the cds. He looks indecisive.
"I kept the bills. You want something else, just let me know. I'll try to get you whatever you'd like."
A ghost of a smile flitters over his face.
"No. This is fine. It's great. They're great. I love everything."
His voice sounds dead.
"And yet you look like I killed your puppy."
"It's not my birthday, Morgan. It's not Christmas. It's not...it's not right."
"You're sick, Reid."
Anger, then. Just a bit. So faint that probably no one else save for me or a member of the team would catch it.
"I'm not sick," he gets out. Just barely.
He doesn't want to talk about this. I get it. I do.
Because I didn't want to, when it happened to me.
And so much more happened to him.
"Keep working with your doctors. They'll sign off on an out-patient basis as soon as you show you're willing to work with them, right? So work with them."
He folds up the brown paper bag of books, and new cd's and earl grey tea.
And doesn't look at me again.