This is not meant to be father/son or slash, although it can probably be read as such. Haven't you ever fallen asleep holding a friend's hand? Keeps away the nightmares every time.
After Hankel, Reid had to stay in the hospital because of his involuntary addiction to Dilaudid. The CPR had also broken a few ribs, which is why he needed medics nearby during his withdrawal – if he started thrashing, he could possibly puncture a lung. However, he refused to allow the team entry to his hospital room and insisted they should go home.
In the end, they did. Reid had to stay for at least a week and there really was nothing the team could do. They stretched their stay by completing every scrap of paperwork in Georgia instead of in Quantico, but eventually, Strauss demanded their return.
What Hotch hadn't told anyone else, was that on the day after they had 'rescued' Reid (because truthfully, Reid had rescued himself), Hotch had received a call from the hospital.
"Agent Hotchner," he had said.
"Nurse Lesley Thomas, Doctors Hospital of.." the woman on the other side of the line had started to say.
"Is everything alright? Are you calling about Spencer Reid?" Hotch had interrupted worriedly.
"Everything is alright, sir," the nurse had spoken reassuringly. "Dr. Reid just had a nightmare and I can't convince him that you are alright. Would you mind speaking to him on the phone?"
Of course Hotch didn't mind. "I'll talk to him," he had said quickly.
"Hotch?" a weak voice had sounded. "You're really alright?"
"I am," Hotch had said in his calmest voice. "Are you?"
"God, Hotch, I'm sorry," Reid had said in a teary voice. "I thought he was going to kill you. He said he would."
"Do you want me to come over?" Hotch had asked, although he was pretty sure he knew what the answer would be.
"No, don't," Reid had said quickly. "I'm sorry. I was just worried."
"No need to be," Hotch had reassured him again. "I'm fine, and so is everyone else on the team. You just get better now, okay?"
Reid had mumbled an "I will, thanks," before the nurse took the phone again.
Now Hotch's cellphone was ringing. "Hotchner," he said without looking at the screen. He had just been reading Jack a bedtime story.
"Hotch? I'm sorry for calling."
Why was Reid calling? Hotch was worried. "Any time, Reid. What's up?"
"Just wanted to know you're alright," Reid said softly, his voice dry and scratchy – Reid had probably just woken. "I had a nightmare. Raphael killed you while I was watching. And Tobias was angry with me because I had caused your death."
How did one respond to that? "I'm really alright, Reid. I was just reading Jack a bedtime story. Want to listen in? We can talk after that."
"Okay," Reid said amiably.
Hotch just continued the story where it had left off. He had no doubt Reid could keep up, if he wanted to.
Once Jack was fully asleep, Hotch left the room and spoke into his cell phone. "Reid?"
There was no answer on the other end of the line, however. Hotch kept on the call for a few minutes – he suspected Reid was asleep, but wasn't sure.
After a few minutes, there was some noise on the other end of the line. "Hello?" a female voice said. "Dr. Reid has fallen asleep during your phone call. Perhaps you can call back later?"
"I'll do that," Hotch said with a smile, although the woman – a nurse, probably – couldn't see that. "Thank you."
Once Reid was back at home – still on sick leave, but no longer in the hospital – Hotch visited. He knew Reid had told Gideon and Morgan and JJ not to visit, but he did it anyway.
"Hotch," Reid said as he opened the door. "Come in."
Hotch was surprised at the ease with which he was allowed into Reid's apartment – he had expected to have to talk his way inside – but didn't let that show on his face.
Once they were both sitting – Reid on the couch, Hotch in a chair – and both had something to drink, Hotch spoke up. "How are you?"
"Fine," Reid replied automatically before correcting himself. "I will be, at least."
Hotch nodded, waiting for Reid to continue.
"I keep dreaming," Reid spoke after long pause. "Those murders I watched when I had to pick who was to die, and then.. I was sure you were going to die, you know? I knew you wouldn't allow yourself to be killed, but still."
Hotch nodded. "You didn't have a choice, Reid," he said softly.
Reid nodded jerkily. "I know."
They sat in silence for a while before Reid whispered in a broken voice, "I keep seeing things happen. I can't stop it."
Hotch moved to the couch Reid was sitting on. He didn't say anything, just grasped Reid's hand and held tight. Reid clutched Hotch's hand as if it were a lifeline. They didn't speak, but no words were necessary. They just sat together, long into the night, Hotch's presence reassuring Reid that his words – I choose Aaron Hotchner – hadn't killed Hotch.
Eventually, Reid fell asleep. Hotch set an alarm on his phone – he did have to go to work the next morning – and also allowed himself to fall asleep, their fingers still touching. They didn't fall asleep on top of each other, or anything similarly embarrassing – both had their own corner of the couch, with their hands lying in the middle.
Reid slept peacefully that night, and so did Hotch, his sleep for once not plagued by images of Reid choking.