Spencer Reid stood on the sidewalk looking up at his apartment building in shock. No matter how long he stared it didn't get any better. The harsh reality was starting to set in. His building, his home, was going up in flames. He didn't need the fire marshal to tell him that he, they, lost everything. The only good part about the whole disaster was the fact that no one died. He knew he would be spending the night in the hospital, once the EMTs got to him, for smoke inhalation. It was tough to breathe and he knew that wasn't a good thing.
As he stood there the fact that he had to start over hit him and he felt his knees go weak. Reid slowly lowered himself onto the sidewalk as his legs refused to support him any longer. He ran a long fingered hand through his longish hair and let out a tired sigh. Well, at least tonight he wouldn't have to worry about a place to stay. Once he was released from the hospital tomorrow he would start looking for a new place, but with it being so close to Christmas he knew he would have to wait until at least the twenty sixth before he would be able to talk to a realtor.
"Sir, are you okay?" A man's voice asked.
Reid looked up to see a man about Hotch's age looking down at him with concern. He was dressed in the typical EMT garb. As Reid was studying him he pulled out a stethoscope and held it up.
"My name is Adam. Would you be willing to let me listen to your lungs?" Adam said with a small smile.
Reid just nodded at the man, as breathing was becoming more difficult.
Concern crossed the older man's face as he stuck the buds in his ears and pressed the other end against his chest and back. He pulled them out and said "Okay, what's your name?"
"Spencer Reid," the young genius gasped out.
"Okay Spencer, can I call you Spencer?" The man asked.
Reid just nodded.
"Okay, thank you Spencer. We need to get you to the hospital. You need to be seen by a doctor. Do you have a preferred hospital?" Adam inquired.
"Don't care… Which one…" Reid wheezed.
"Okay," the man said as he motioned to another EMT. "We are going to take you to Georgetown. They will take great care of you." He paused as a younger man, about Reid's age, came up beside them. "This is Don. He's going to be in the back of the ambulance you are going in on. Travis will be attending another patient."
He turned to the other EMT and said quietly "Get him out of here, Don. I don't like the way his lungs are sounding."
The younger man nodded before turning to Reid and saying "Do you think you can walk to the ambulance or do you want me to grab a gurney?"
Reid though for a second before saying haltingly "I can walk."
Travis helped Reid stand from the cold sidewalk and assisted him to the nearest ambulance. Reid settled onto the gurney and laid back when directed. He allowed himself to be strapped down and then was fitted with an oxygen mask and a pulse oximeter attached to his finger. He managed to answer most of the questions Don asked him without remembering much of them. He was slightly dizzy and a faint pain was beginning to register on his lower right arm and back of his hand. He watched as the middle aged man from a floor lower than his own struggled to breathe.
"Is he going to be okay?" He asked Don, worry clouding his big brown eyes.
The blond, blue eyed man smiled reassuringly at him as he said calmly, "Yeah, he's going to be fine. When you get to the hospital you are going to be treated for smoke inhalation and the second degree burn on your arm and hand. Just relax, we're almost there."
Reid spent the rest of the ride into the hospital in a light doze, not really asleep but not completely awake either. He forced himself into awareness again when a hacking, painful cough tore through his chest and throat. When it was over he was left panting and blinking away a film of tears.
"Easy Spencer, we are pulling up to the hospital now. You will be seen by a doctor in a minute or two. It's going to be okay. You are going to be in great hands." Don said comfortingly.
Reid just nodded before falling back into his twilight doze again. Doctors, nurses and other various hospital staff appeared around him. They were talking to him and to each other and he really wasn't paying attention.
"Spencer? Mr. Reid? Can you hear me?" A white haired doctor asked.
Reid pulled himself out of his daze and replied with a soft "Yeah, Doctor, I can hear you."
"Mr. Reid, my name is Doctor Michael Andrews. I will be treating you. Is there any medical conditions I need to be made aware of?" Doctor Andrews stated.
"I do not want any narcotics," Reid stated animatedly.
"Mr. Reid-" the doctor started.
"It's either Doctor Reid or Agent Reid," Reid cut in, voice firm. "I understand that it is going to be painful and I understand that it's standard operating procedure for you to issue narcotic pain reliever but I do not want it. I was kidnapped several years ago and injected with Dilaudid. I do not want any narcotics."
Doctor Andrews paused as he seemed to weigh his words before he nodded.
"Alright, Agent Reid. We will make you as comfortable as possible but cleaning this will be painful."
"I understand Doctor Andrews, thank you. Do you know when I'll be able to leave?" Reid inquired.
"If your chest x-rays are good you should be able to leave some time tomorrow. You have a second degree burn on your forearm and the back of your right hand. You will need to change the dressing two to three times a day. I will prescribe you an antibiotic ointment to apply before you dress it again. You will have to clean it with soap and water and dry it carefully. We will go over this more completely tomorrow. You now need to go get those x-rays. You are spending the night here. I'll see you when your x-rays are done. I'll work on your arm them. I'll see you soon." Dr. Andrews said calmly as an orderly came in to take Reid down to imaging.
Reid spent the next twenty minutes moving and breathing when commanded. When they were finally finished Reid was exhausted and ready to sleep. The doctor came in with a nurse who was pushing a cart. Forty five painful minutes later Reid's right forearm and hand were bandaged and he was alone with an IV in the other. He let out a tired sigh as he closed his eyes. It had been one long day and he was ready for it to be over.
Spencer woke up early the next morning. He looked out the window to see the world blanketed in white. He smiled slightly before reality set back in. He reached up with his left hand and gingerly pinched his nose. He would have to try to find a hotel to stay in for the next several days. Garcia and Kevin are visiting his parents for Christmas. JJ, Will and Henry are at JJ's parent's house. Hotch and Jack are spending the holiday with Sean. Morgan is with his family and Emily with her Mother. The last Reid had heard Rossi was going up to his hunting cabin. He knew he should pick up the phone and call Morgan, Hotch or JJ but he really didn't want to interrupt their holiday. He figured he'd deal with their anger later.
Reid looked up as the door to his room was briskly knocked on then opened. A nursing assistant breezed into the room with a sunny smile as she changed his water pitcher and asked if he needed anything. She told him breakfast would be served within the hour and that he had a visitor.
"A visitor?" Reid murmured to himself, as she exited the room as quickly as she entered.
He looked at the doorway, waiting for whomever it was to come in. He was shocked when he saw David Rossi walk into the room.
"Rossi, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at your cabin?" Reid asked confused.
"Did you really expect me not to hear about your apartment burning down? And once I did, did you really expect me to stay away?" Rossi asked incredulous.
"I just…" Reid trailed off as he looked away.
Rossi raised his eyebrows as he waited for an explanation.
"You were going to leave early yesterday for your cabin. By the time the fire happened you should have been there." Reid tried to explain.
David just looked at him for several long seconds before he said slowly, "I have the internet. I checked it late last night for local news. As soon as I found out what happened I repacked everything and came back here. Now, how are you? How badly are you injured? Are your lungs okay?"
"My lungs are okay. They are better today after the oxygen. My right forearm and back of my hand have second degree burns, but they will show me how to treat them on an outpatient basis. I should be out of here by lunch," Reid explained as he shifted in the bed, trying to sit up more.
Rossi stepped forward to help him. He aided him in sitting up then propped pillows behind his back.
"Thanks Dave," Spencer said softly, slightly embarrassed that he couldn't do it himself.
"No problem Kiddo," Rossi replied softly.
Rossi grabbed the chair from the other side of the room, drug it over beside Reid's bed and sat down. He leveled a stern gaze on Reid, causing him to squirm a bit.
"What?" He demanded.
"You do know that you are coming home with me right? That I'm not about to let you stay in some hotel," Rossi stated firmly.
"David, that is a really nice offer but I can't put you out like that," Reid replied, brown eyes wide with surprise.
Rossi chuckled, a deep warm sound that had Reid unconsciously relaxing slightly. After a moment he asked "What's so funny?"
"I just find it amusing that you think you have a choice. I am not letting you stay in a hotel, I'm just not," Rossi explained, mouth set in a firm line, dark eyes steely.
Spencer looked at the older man, his friend, one of the people he considers family, opened his mouth, then shut it again. He let out a slight sigh before saying softly "Thank you."
"No argument?" Rossi asked lightly.
"No, no argument," Reid said softly. "I'm just thankful that I now have people in my life I can count on, depend on. People who would open their lives, their homes to me, when I need it like this. I know that it's going to take a while, probably until mid to late February until I see any sort of compensation from the insurance company, so I can't afford to be stubborn or proud about this. I lost everything. I'll have to completely start over." Reid met Rossi's dark, kind eyes and said earnestly "Thank you. Thank you Dave."
Reid looked away when his own soft brown eyes filmed over with tears. Rossi reached out and gently rubbed his upper arm gently before pushing some of Reid's hair off his forehead.
"There is nothing to thank me for. This is what family does," the older man whispered back.
Reid smiled at him slightly before his eyes blinked slowly. Rossi stood back up and helped Reid lay back down.
"Why don't you get some more sleep. It's going to be a few hours yet until they release you. I'll wake you in a little while for breakfast," Rossi ordered gently.
Reid nodded before he fell into a light doze.
Reid woke up an hour and a half later to Rossi shaking his left shoulder gently.
"Come on Reid, time to wake up. You need to eat something and the doctor needs to take a last look at you before he releases you," Rossi said as he helped him sit up again.
"Sorry," Reid yawned. "I didn't mean to fall back asleep. I was only going to relax for a few minutes."
"It's okay, Reid. You need the sleep." Rossi responded with a slight smile.
Reid just nodded. He allowed Rossi to help him with his lunch and he was just finishing up when the doctor walked into the room.
"Hello Doctor Reid, how are you feeling today?" Doctor Andrews asked.
Reid looked up at the older man and smiled slightly before he said "I'm feeling better than I was yesterday. It's easier to breathe today."
Doctor Andrews nodded as he proceeded to listen to Reid's lungs. When he was done he made a soft, satisfied noise before asking about his arm. Reid explained that while still painful the ointment he had put on the burn was helping with the pain. The doctor carefully cleaned and re-bandaged the wound, making sure both Rossi and Reid understood how to change the dressing and clean it.
"I will send you home with an instruction sheet. The first several days you are going to need help taking care of the burn. If it looks like it is infected, either contact your primary care physician or come back into the hospital. You don't want to mess around with an infection. If you don't have any questions I'll go get your discharge paperwork." The doctor paused as he waited for either of the two men to ask questions. When they didn't he nodded once, said that he would be back shortly, then left.
Rossi started pulling clothing out of a bag that Reid just noticed.
"I figured that you wouldn't have any clothing so I brought you a pair of my sweat pants and a long sleeved tee shirt," Rossi explained. "I know the sweats will be really big on you but until we can get you some clothing it'll have to do."
"Thanks Rossi. I really do appreciate it," Reid said sincerely.
Rossi just smiled before asking gently "Do you need some help getting changed?"
Reid thought about it for a few seconds before shaking his head slightly.
"You wouldn't mind helping me?" He asked after a second, slightly perplexed.
"I wouldn't have offered if I did," Rossi said as he stood and wondered over to the far side of the room. "If you need my help just tell me. I'll be over here."
Reid slowly swung his long legs off the side of the bed and grasped the bag with his IV free left hand. He looked at it in slight confusion, wondering when exactly the IV was removed. He shook his head slightly, deciding that it wasn't important. He slowly, carefully pulled out a pair of sweats, a new pair of boxers with the tags still attached, and the long sleeved tee shirt. It took him almost two whole minutes just to pull on the boxers. Beads of perspiration dotted his forehead, pain making him queasy. He tried to breathe through his nose, desperately trying to keep the meal he had just eaten down.
"How are you doing Reid?" Rossi called out lightly.
"I-I'm okay," he panted back.
"Are you sure?" Rossi asked, back still turned.
"Yeah," Reid gasped out as pain tore through his arm and hand. He blinked away the film of tears that appeared in his eyes. It took another slow, torturous fifteen minutes to change but Reid finally managed it.
"Okay," he wheezed. "I'm changed."
Rossi turned around and took in the sweaty young man and whispered "Oh Kid. Why wouldn't you just let me help you?"
Reid heard him and looked away, unable to hold the older man's gaze. Rossi moved over to stand beside Reid and laid a gentle hand on the back of his neck.
"We'll work on it, okay?" Rossi commented quietly.
Reid looked up at him with uncertain brown eyes. He lowered his gaze and nodded. Rossi gently stroked the nape of Reid's neck with his thumb briefly before pulling away. He moved about the room, making sure he had the few personal possessions the room held.
It took another hour before the two men were safely ensconced in Rossi's dark SUV and on their way to Rossi's mansion. Reid could feel Rossi's scrutiny from time to time. Reid saw Rossi reach out and turn on the radio out of the corner of his eye. Deck the Halls filled the vehicle and Reid found himself humming along to the catchy Christmas tune. He was surprised when Rossi's deep voice joined his own. By the time the song was over he was smiling happily.
"What Kid? You think I can't sing?" Dave teased lightly.
Reid just shot him a look that screamed 'do you want me to answer that?' Rossi laughed and waved him off. Rossi went silent for a while before asking "Are you feeling well enough to make a quick stop at the mall to pick up some clothes for you?"
Reid looked away from him for a second before he replied "I lost everything, Rossi, including my wallet. I haven't had a chance to call the bank to get another debit card or credit cards issued. If you don't mind stopping at my bank I can always withdraw money from my account."
"It's Christmas Eve Kiddo, chances are the banks are already closed. I'll get them and we can work something out later. It's not like I can't afford it. Let me do this for you, Reid, please," Rossi implored gently.
Reid thought about it for several long moments before he hesitantly nodded. He tried to speak several times before he shook his head. He let out a long breath before saying softly "I don't like taking charity."
"It's not charity when it's family Reid," Rossi stated certainly.
Reid looked over at him, paused then said "Thank you David. I'm not used to people helping me like this. Growing up I was on my own. I was the parent. I don't know how to depend on people in my personal life."
"You are doing just fine," Rossi reassured as he took the exit that would take them to the mall.
Fifteen minutes later they were driving around a completely packed parking lot. Reid kept looking between the insanity outside the car and Rossi in disbelief.
"It's Christmas Eve!" He exclaimed, slightly frazzled. "Shouldn't they be home, with their families?"
"It's called last minute shopping Reid," Rossi explained patiently, hiding his own discomfort with the situation. He hates shopping and this is one of the worst days of the year to do it, but he would do it for Reid.
They finally managed to find a parking spot at the back of the parking lot. The two men shared a look before exiting the vehicle. They made their way quickly through the parking lot, dodging harried people pushing shopping carts over flowing with toys, clothing and books. Reid looked over at Rossi and asked with trepidation "If it's this bad out here, what's it going to be like in there?"
Rossi just looked at him.
It took them almost twenty minutes to get to Macy's. Reid gaped up at the red star for a second before turning to look at Rossi.
"I've never been in here before," he confessed softly.
Rossi gave him an amused look before saying dryly "I never would've guessed."
Reid glared at him before Rossi pushed him into the over-crowded store. Rossi directed him to the men's section, asked Reid his size, then proceeded to pick out pants, shirts, sweaters, sweater vests, undershirts, boxers and socks. Rossi held the mass of clothing in one arm and used his free hand to gently latch onto Reid's uninjured arm and carefully tug him into the fitting room. He laid his burden down on the bench seat and instructed Reid to try on one of everything to make sure they fit. Reid thought about arguing but decided against it. He tried on two different pairs of pants, one of the sweater vests, a sweater and one of the button up shirts. He came out of the fitting room when he was done. His hands were shaking and perspiration was dotting his forehead. Rossi took one look at him and hurried to his side. He cupped his left elbow and led him over to a chair. When he was sitting he looked him over carefully.
"Did you bump your arm?" He asked quietly.
Reid shook his head, unable to actually speak at the moment. Rossi gently rubbed the back of his neck as he spoke soothingly to his hurting friend. Several long minutes later Reid finally started to relax. Rossi rose from the crouched position he had taken and told Reid he was going to go get his clothing. When he came back out he asked if there was anything in the pile that he didn't like or didn't want.
"David, you don't have to get me all that. That's almost my complete wardrobe from before. I don't need that much clothing," Reid said, the pain still evident in his voice.
"I've always thought you needed more clothing. You didn't answer the question," Rossi commented.
"They all fit and look okay. I'm not picky about what I wear," Reid said with a shrug of his slender shoulders.
"Okay, then we'll get all of them," Rossi said. "Are you okay to go get some pajamas and some toiletries or are you done?"
Reid hesitated for a second before he responded "I'm okay."
He struggled to get to his feet, pain making him clench his jaw together. Rossi laid a gentle, calming hand on his left upper arm to calm and ground him.
"A few more minutes," Rossi murmured into the young man's ear. "And we can go home. Just hang on, okay?"
Reid nodded stiffly, the pain really starting to bother him. Rossi kept his free hand on Reid's arm to guide him but also and more importantly to protect him from the crowds pressing in around them. He was not about to let anyone bump into that arm of his. As they passed a cash register he asked the girl if he could leave the clothing there. She was about to say no when Rossi smiled charmingly at her and said "It would be a really big help. I would appreciate it."
She told him she would keep the clothing behind the counter for him and to come back when he was done shopping.
Rossi quickly found the necessary toiletries for Reid. By this point fine tremors were starting to run through Reid's thin frame. His chest was burning and he was fighting back the need to let out harsh, barking coughs. He didn't want the attention that would bring him but he eventually lost the battle. He curled over slightly, pulling his injured arm up to his chest and cradled it against his ribs as he coughed and gasped for air. It took him a few long minutes before he became aware of what was going on around him. He could feel Rossi's hand running up and down his back soothingly. He could hear the older man speaking gently to him but he couldn't really understand him because of the ringing in his ears. He felt David pulling him gently to the side of the store where, once again, he was gradually lowered into a chair and told to relax. He wasn't sure how much time passed when a bottle was carefully pressed to his lips and he was kindly ordered to drink. He took a sip of the water Rossi was offering him.
"Thanks," Reid rasped.
Rossi smiled softly at him as he offered him more water. Reid gulped down another mouthful before shaking his head slightly, indicating that he was done. Rossi placed the bottle on the floor and waited for Reid to say something. When more than a minute passed where the young man didn't say anything he gently prodded.
"How are you feeling now, Reid?"
Reid nodded tiredly.
"Yeah, I'm doing better. Thank you Rossi."
"We have everything we need. I had one of the sales associates grab pajamas in your size, so we can pay and get you home," the older man explained quietly.
Rossi carefully helped Reid to his feet and led him over to the nearest cash register. He made quick work of paying, handing over his debit card without batting an eye at the ridiculous price. He took the bags, lightly smacking Reid's left hand away when he reached for some of the bags. Rossi guided him through the parking lot back to his SVU. Once he got Reid in the passenger side he tossed the bags in the back and climbed behind the wheel. It took less than forty five minutes to make it to Rossi's mansion. When he pulled the SUV into his two car garage he came around and helped Reid out and into the house. Rossi helped Reid settle onto the couch, where Reid sank into the soft cushions and let out a contented sigh.
"I'll be right back. I'm going to go grab the bags and put them in one of the guest rooms. I'm going to put you beside my bedroom, that way if you need something I'm right there," Rossi explained before he left the room.
Reid leaned his head back against the back of the sofa and closed his eyes. He opened them several hours later when he smelled something amazing. He looked around the room he was in and noticed the massive tree for the first time. It was a twelve foot tall evergreen decorated in multi colored twinkling lights. On the branches hung beautiful blown, hand painted glass ornaments; upon a closer look he saw that the majority of them were old, possibly family heirlooms. Tinsel was used sparingly to create a lovely affect. He wasn't quite sure how he had missed this earlier but he felt sure that Rossi couldn't have put it up in the time he had been asleep.
"You're awake. We need to clean and re-bandage that arm and hand of yours, then dinner is done. I have the supplies set up in the bathroom down here," Rossi said as he walked back into the room and over to Reid's side.
The older man helped Reid stand so he wouldn't have to use his right hand or arm. When they got to the spacious bathroom Reid sat down on the closed toilet seat. Rossi pulled the medical supplies into reach but far enough away from the sink that the bandages wouldn't get wet. Reid started to slowly unwind the gauze from around his forearm and hand. When he got to the final layer he started to carefully pull that away only to have it stick to the moist burn. He slowly put it under the tap and ran cool water over it to loosen it up. He allowed a gloved Rossi to help him pull the rest of it off and then try the wound off. The older man applied the ointment in a generous layer then re-bandaged the burn.
The two men made their way into Rossi's kitchen.
"Go find a seat at the table, I'll grab the stew, bread and bowls and bring it to the table," Rossi instructed as he made his way over to the stove to get their dinner.
Reid settled into a surprisingly comfortable chair and watched as Rossi gathered what he wanted. He felt bad about just sitting here while his friend did all this work but he knew without asking that Rossi would refuse any and all help from him. Rossi carried their meal over to the table and set Reid's bowl in front of him with a slightly larger spoon what Rossi was using. Reid knew it would be easier for him to use a bigger spoon, even if his left hand shook a bit he probably wouldn't end up wearing the stew. The meal passed between them with the type of comfortable conversation that only exists between close friends. An hour later Reid was back in the same position on the couch that he was earlier as he listened to the older man sing Christmas carols in Italian as he cleaned up from dinner. Reid turned his attention to the tree, studying the beautiful balls that decorated the regal tree.
Reid looked up as Rossi entered the living room with two steaming cups of coffee. The older man set one down in front of Reid that was a noticeably lighter color than the mug Rossi held.
"Can I ask you a question about one of your ornaments?" Reid asked after he took a sip of the heavenly liquid.
Rossi smiled at him as he nodded, cradling his own mug.
"There is a stunning ball with the nativity scene painted on it, where did that one come from? It looks like it is old," Reid replied.
Rossi smiled as he set down his mug, stood and crossed to the tree. He found the ball Reid had asked about. When he turned back to his young friend he had a gentle smile on his face.
"This ornament was a gift to my great Grandmother Phoebe from my great Grandfather Michele on their first Christmas together. They were rather poor so when my great Grandfather bought this for my great Grandmother it cost him almost a month's pay. It was the only thing he got her that year and she treasured it the rest of her life. It, along with her wedding ring, was the most precious possession she owned. She passed it to my Grandmother who passed it to me. I was her only grandchild who appreciated the story behind it, the love my great Grandfather must have had for my great Grandmother. So it was passed to me. It is one of my most prized possessions," the older man fell silent as he looked at the beautiful piece of glass and paint cradled in his hand. He tenderly put it back onto the tree and smiled at the younger man. They spent the rest of the night relaxing in each other's company, looking at the lights on the tree and bathing in the warmth from the fireplace. When the grandfather clock chimed midnight the two men, one young, the other older, wished each other a Merry Christmas. Both pleased they ended up spending it with family, no matter how they got there.