A/N: Watching the last two episodes of CM really hit me hard. At first I thought it was just my deep and slightly insane love of a fictional character, but I realize now the Maeve arc resonated with me on a personal level. I wrote this to kind of work it out in my mind and to fill in some gaps that the show didn't address.
Everyone was staring. The shock—the horror—of what they'd just witnessed caused time to stand still. Maeve on the floor, blood pooling around her shoulders, under her head. Reid—Jesus God, Reid. His body shaking, wracked by silent tears. It was too harsh, too real; it was... stunning.
First came the the crackle of a radio, then Hotch's voice. "We need a medical team, stat." Only then did Reid's muscles release him, allowing him to dive forward to throw himself down next to her, pulling her away from her murderer. He gathered her in his arms and sat in the blood, clutching her, cradling her to him, his sobs now vocal painful gasps, raw and violent, filling the air of the empty room.
"Reid..." Morgan's voice was low, so low that no one heard. He himself wasn't aware that he'd spoken, any more than he was conscious of striding to the broken man, of kneeling down and grasping him from behind, of rocking him in his arms as he tried to impart some of his strength to his friend, tried to be some little strand of solidity that might keep him from slipping into the void that was taking over his mind.
"I'll take him home with me." Morgan stood by the SUV, watching as Maeve's body was loaded into the coroner's van. They'd had to fight Reid to get him to let her go; Morgan had been the one to take him down as he struggled to follow her, to crawl into the vehicle with her. Morgan had been the one murmuring gentle, rhythmic phrases into Reid's ear as he restrained him—"I got you, pretty boy. I'm with you, kid, I'm right here, I'm right here," knowing he couldn't hear him, or that if he did, the meanings of the words were lost on him.
Somehow, Morgan had managed to hold him back and then pull Reid into the SUV, noticing as he buckled him in how Maeve's blood had coated Reid's hands, smeared his face, made sticky ropy twinings in his hair. Jesus, how it had soaked his clothes. It was on Morgan too by now, the smell thick and copper-y. Reid was silent again, shaking uncontrollably as an EMT-administered sedative only just began to take effect, and Morgan got in and drove them toward home.
Hotch met them there, a bag full of Reid's clean clothes, glasses, and contacts case in hand.
They managed to get him inside and into the bathroom; Hotch stepped out and let Morgan work him out of the bloodied clothes and into the shower. He stood beside him, careful not to embarrass him by looking at his nakedness, although it occurred to him that Reid was far past caring. He kept a hand on Reid's shoulder to steady him as he wobbled, his dull eyes watching the stream of red roll off of his body and down the drain.
When it was all gone, Morgan helped him out, rubbed him down with a towel, and gently encouraged him to put on the pajamas Hotch had brought. He then pulled back the covers and put him in his own bed. Reid lay down and was out in seconds; Morgan made himself a pallet on the floor, not really expecting to sleep, but wanting to be right there if Reid woke up and tried to leave, or...
Or what, only God knew.
"I can stay." Hotch stood in the doorway, his eyes on the unconscious young man. "I can help."
"It's okay, man. You go home to Jack."
"I can call Garcia, she'll—"
"No need. He'll be out all night. I'll... I'll keep him here a while. I'll take some personal time, if that's okay. I don't want him to be alone."
"I wish he had some family nearby."
"He does." Morgan met Hotch's eyes, and the unit chief nodded.
"If you're sure."
"You may need help tomorrow."
"I'll let you know. But, don't worry. This isn't a burden to me, Hotch. It's an honor."
"All right. I'll check in with you tomorrow."
Hotch tipped his head, turned, and hurried to his car, knowing the drive home would be his one viable chance for solitary contemplation of what he'd seen that night, looking through the eyes of a man who'd been through something horribly similar himself.
Reid was sitting on Morgan's couch, an almost-empty box of tissues beside him, an overflowing trash can in front of him. He clutched the book Maeve had given him and continued to stare blankly at the coffee table.
The words startled Morgan; it was the first intelligible statement Reid had made since he came out of sedation 48 hours ago. Up to that moment, having Reid in the house had been like living with a shadow, a ghost. Morgan gratefully tossed the dishtowel he had in his hand on the kitchen counter and came to sit in a chair across from Reid. "What'd you say, kid?" he asked gently.
"I said, I'm sorry."
Reid shook his head and gestured vaguely at the mess that surrounded him, and at the mess that he was; ratty bathrobe, tangled hair, exhausted, unshaven face. It had been three days and this was the first day he'd come out of Morgan's bedroom.
He'd only swallowed down a couple of bites of a sandwich the whole time, existing mainly on soft drinks and the comfort of strong coffee that Morgan kept going on the warmer.
"I'm causing you a lot of trouble, and... I'm not sure what day it is, but I know you've been away from work for a while. I want you to take me back to my place."
"Now, kid, that's not a good idea."
"It's fine. I want to be alone, and anyway, you need to get on with your life."
"Reid, I've got all the time in the world. It's no good being isolated at a time like this; I mean, if you had someone else, I'd be glad to—" Morgan caught himself mid-sentence and Reid slowly raised his eyes. Morgan was relieved not to see hurt or dismay rise at his words, just a matter-of-fact acknowledgement.
"No, I don't have anyone else. But, that's okay. I just want to go home."
Morgan sighed. "You have to promise me that you'll eat."
Reid shrugged, but gave a slight nod.
"And, I'm going to check on you every single day."
"I'm not going to kill myself, if that's what you're thinking."
Morgan didn't say anything, just locked his eyes on Reid's. Reid held his gaze; "I'm not," he repeated.
"Yeah—well, there's something else I'm worried about."
Reid's brow wrinkled slightly, then understanding dawned. He gave a scornful huff. "I wouldn't even know where to get the stuff anymore."
Morgan ignored that. "This is a vulnerable time for you, kid. I'm not saying I don't trust you—I do. I just don't want you to make things harder on yourself than they already are."
A fresh wave of exhaustion passed over Reid's face. "I—I'm going to lie down for a while, but I want to go home this afternoon. You should go into work or something. Don't worry about taking me, I'll get a cab." He stood up, still clasping the book to his chest, and shuffled toward the hallway.
Morgan shook his head and when he heard the bedroom door close shut, he pulled out his phone and called Hotch. He answered instantly.
"Morgan? How's Reid?"
"He wants to go home. Today."
"That's his choice. Unless you think he needs... intervention."
"No, no. He doesn't appear to be suicidal. I just hate for him to be all alone at this time. Could you talk to him?"
"I'll be glad to, but I doubt it'll help. I think he just needs to heal without anyone else's eyes on him, and that may be the best thing for him." He paused, and when Morgan didn't respond, he added, "He knows we're only a phone call away."
"Yeah. Okay. He just went back to bed—I'm going to pick up some groceries for him while he's asleep."
A fond look came over Hotch's face. "He likes ice cream."
Morgan laughed slightly. "Yeah. I'll get him some. Thanks, Hotch. I'll talk to you later." He hung up, grabbed a jacket, and then headed out to buy a couple of bags of the not-particularly-healthy things he knew the bereaved young man favored most.
Days passed. One morning, Garcia and JJ came into the BAU bullpen together, glum expressions on their faces.
Worried, Morgan strode over and asked, "Did you see Reid?"
"As usual, he wouldn't come to the door," JJ said sadly.
"I made him acknowledge our presence, though, so we know he's alive." Garcia sighed and shook her head. "I can't stand this. I need to see him. Or, at least hear his voice."
"I know. Me, too." JJ patted her arm and Garcia tiredly laid her head on her shoulder.
Blake came into the bullpen. "Any news on Reid?" she asked.
"He's alive," Morgan answered. "Garcia made sure of that, at least."
Blake nodded, only slightly encouraged. "It's been two weeks. How long can he go on, being so isolated?"
Hotch came up. "We have to give him time. I told him to take as much as he needs." He looked at each of them in turn. "We can't assign a time limit to grief."
Rossi joined them, having overheard the conversation on his way to his office. "I can't imagine what he's going through. I mean, I know what it's like to lose a loved one. But, this... He never even got to hold her hand."
The heavy weight of sorrow they'd all been feeling seemed to press harder at Rossi's words. They'd all thought the same thing—how the pain of losing the promise of a life together must have its own unique sting.
"The poor kid," Morgan said for the hundredth time.
Everyone stood still for a moment, commiserating silently, and then they slowly began to head toward their workplaces. Blake watched Morgan walk away, his head bowed, and she followed him to his office.
"Morgan? You okay?"
Morgan slumped into the chair behind his desk and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. I don't know. It's just... Reid's so vulnerable. He's been through a lot, the whole Emily thing, his mom, and now this..." He was staring at the floor, but he suddenly raised his eyes to Blake's. "I gotta be honest-I don't know how much the kid can take."
Blake sat down and nodded. "Yeah. He was so happy, so excited. So many hopes, so much to look forward to... And, now?" She rested her chin in her hand on the edge of Morgan's desk. "I keep thinking of a friend of mine. She had a stillborn baby. That was nearly twenty years ago, and she still mourns. She still remembers the birthday every year, still has the stuffed bear she bought for him..." A catch caught in her throat. "She told me later, love doesn't start the day a baby comes into the world—it starts when it starts. I imagine it's that way for Reid. He started loving Maeve long before he ever laid eyes on her."
Morgan nodded, turning the thought over in his mind. "I don't know how he's going to get over it. I'd do anything in the world to help him, but... He won't even return my calls."
Blake gave him a small encouraging grin. "You know, somehow, I think you'll think of something." She rose and silently left Morgan's office.
He watched her go, then something occurred to him. He smiled slightly as he picked up his phone and clicked on Reid's number.
"Reid. Hey, man, I got a work question for you..."