It had been a particularly hard case. Every case involving children was. But this time it had struck a chord with the team. Pre-pubescent boys were being abducted and molested before being murdered. When they found the unsub, they rescued a young boy, about 12 years old, and returned him to his family, but the damage had been done. They were too late to save him from the abuse. Morgan saw the shame in his eyes and knew it echoed his own. The boy kept his head down and wouldn't touch his family. He flinched visibly when his mother reached for him when they brought him into the police station. Hotch asked him to take his statement and the boy rejected with such anger and resentment. Morgan felt all of the kid's pain and knew what a challenge moving forward would be for him. For some reason, it hit Morgan particularly hard this time. It was almost five years since he had faced Buford in Chicago. Morgan had faced what was done to him for years without letting it affect him. But this case just struck too close to home. In two days, it would be five years since his team had flown to Chicago to save him. Five years since he finally faced up to Buford and confronted him about what he had done to him as a child. Five years since he'd had to tell his mother what had happened to her baby boy. Five years since he'd watched his mother break in front of him. Five years since he'd walked into a silent jet and faced the looks of his team. Five years since he'd had to confess to his team what had happened to him. Five years since he'd had to face what had happened to him as a child. Five years since he'd relived all the pain and shame again. As the team finished up their work at the local precinct Morgan hastily spoke a goodbye to Hotch telling him he'd meet them at the hotel to drive to the jet. He walked the three blocks to the hotel in a haze and ghosted into the bar to order a whiskey. He wasn't sure how long he'd been there when he got a text from Reid telling him he was almost ready to check out of their room and Hotch said they'd be leaving for the jet in 20 minutes. Morgan paid for the three whiskey's he'd had and stumbled a little as he got out of his seat. He rubbed a hand over his face and headed up to his and Reid's room.
Reid was sitting on his bed, reading, with his go bag packed at his feet when Morgan entered their room. He didn't say a word to Reid as he started throwing his clothes back in his bag. Reid glanced up from his book to watch his friend but didn't comment as he knocked around the room. Morgan was cleaning his stuff out of the bathroom when Reid approached him. He leaned against the sink as Morgan packed his toothbrush and razor. At first, he didn't say anything so Morgan ignored him. He knew he had done wrong going to the bar when they were technically still on a case. But the case was over, the unsub had been caught, he didn't need to be sober for anything. He was running and he knew it. He had ignored what had happened to him for so long, but seeing it so fresh, it had him coming undone at the seams. He saw the pain, the shame, the emotional turmoil in the victim, and he remembered the way it had made him feel plain as day. But Morgan hadn't been held captive, Morgan had walked free and still returned for more. He could feel the pain and the humiliation coming back and it was suffocating him.
Reid didn't know what to say. He knew this case had been particularly hard on his friend but he also knew that Morgan wasn't one to welcome pity. Reid wanted to tell him the whole team was there for him, wanted to tell him he was sorry for what had happened to him, wanted to make all of Morgan's pain go away, but he knew that Morgan would take any sign of empathy as pity. So instead he simply put his hand on Morgan's shoulder long enough to still him from his packing, looked him straight in the eyes and said, "If there's anything I can do, just ask." He gave Morgan's shoulder a light squeeze and stood up from leaning on the counter.
Morgan couldn't meet Reid's gaze, but he gave him a court nod and Reid went back into the main room. Morgan leaned heavily on the sink after Reid left. He stared at himself in the mirror and couldn't stop the feelings of shame and guilt that washed over him. He must have stood there for a while because Reid was yelling something about leaving in ten minutes from the bedroom. Morgan shook himself out of his daze and grabbed his toiletry bag. He threw it in his go bag on the bed and glanced around the room.
"I think that's it for my stuff," he told Reid. Reid glanced around the room and nodded his approval.
"Alright, let's checkout then, you got your key?" Reid asked. Morgan dug in his pocket and handed Reid his key. They both grabbed their go bags and Reid grabbed his satchel and they headed to the elevator. In the elevator Reid rummaged through his satchel before offering Morgan a mint. Great, Morgan thought, I must smell like whiskey. He accepted and mentally thanked the kid for not calling him out on it. When they reached the lobby, Reid motioned Morgan towards Emily and JJ and went to the desk to check them out. Morgan went to stand by Emily and JJ but he stayed just far enough away not to join in on their conversation. Reid joined them a moment later and Hotch and Rossi weren't far behind them.
"Rossi, why don't you take Emily and JJ, Reid and Morgan you can ride with me," Hotch ordered. The team headed out of the lobby and to the waiting SUV's outside. Morgan lagged behind the group not wanting to talk with anyone.
Reid walked quickly to catch up with Hotch as he led the way out the front doors. As they walked side by side to their cars Hotch looked straight ahead while casually whispering, "How is he?"
Reid sighed, "He's been drinking." Hotch nodded almost imperceptibly and didn't question him anymore. The ride to the airport was mostly silent, with a bit of small talk here and there between the two agents in the front seats. Morgan leaned his head against the window in the back and tried to ignore the thickening tension in the air. He didn't want their pity. He didn't want anyone to feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he desperately wanted someone to tell him it wasn't his fault, that everything was going to be okay, that he had beaten the odds and he didn't need someone like Buford to make his life, he had done amazingly well for himself all on his own. He was emotionally raw and he felt tears prick the bad of his eyes. He sighed heavily and massaged his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.
Reid glanced in the mirror at his best friend in the back and felt a pang in his chest for him. He knew Morgan was in a lot of pain right now, but he didn't know how he could help him. He'd noticed the way Morgan had relaxed into his touch in the bathroom earlier and made a mental note to continue being supportive of his friend in any way he could.