AN:

So it's been a while since I have written anything at all. I was bored at home (shout out to COVID19) and started watching Criminal Minds from season 1. When I got to mid season 2 this idea popped into my head.

Also if you follow any of my other stories. I might try to update them (5+ years has changed how I write and going back to continue the older stories might be hard). But I will try.

Back to this story.

Set in season 2 of Criminal Minds. Post Tobias Hankel and Revelations, but before Jones (Sorry Will). Reid is 24 and JJ is 25, so I had to push Shelby's grad year back to 1998 for the age to work. Also I cannot write for Gideon, so he has already left. And Rossi will come in later.

SUMMARY

Reid is struggling. JJ wants to help but knows that doing so could open the floodgates for her past life to catch up with her present life. When a situtation arises that forces JJ to interfere with Reid's problem, how will she deal with the consequences?

Please read and review

JEN


CHAPTER ONE

Emily checked her watch: 4:35pm. It had been over 24 hours since any of them had gotten any sleep.

"I don't know about you guys but I'm exhausted," Emily said, finishing the last sip of tea from her mug. "What do you think the chances are that we will actually get the next two days off like we are supposed to?"

Morgan leaned back in his seat and looked at her curiously. She was still fairly new and a considerable mystery to the team.

"Why, you got something special planned for this evening?" He joked.

Emily rolled her eyes.

"If something special includes a bottle of wine and sleeping in my own bed, then you bet I do Morgan," laughed Emily.

"Hey pretty boy, you got any plans for the days off?" Morgan asked Reid. Emily looked over at Reid who sat behind them.

There was no reply from the young genius. He was still seemingly engrossed in whatever book he was reading. Morgan shrugged; Reid had been acting weird lately. He seemed more tired and worn out than usual. Furthermore, his demeaner changed on whim these- sometimes skittish, sometimes he'd snap at the easiest target, sometimes spacey. Morgan knew the rules on inter-team profiling and had been trying to mind his own business, but he was starting to get concerned.

Morgan ripped a piece of paper off the notepad in front of him, crumpled it up, and threw it in Reid's direction.

"Hey, Earth to Reid," Emily called out at the same time.

Morgan's paper ball hit Reid on the side of the face and knocked him out of whatever trance he was in.

"What!?" He snapped somewhat aggressively, turning to glare at Emily. She smiled uncertainly and put her hands up defensively.

"Easy," Emily said. "We were just wondering if you had any plans for your day off."

Reid's strange reaction had caused the rest of the team's heads to turn, carefully observing the interaction. Hotch sat across the plane next to JJ, where they had been going over some case files together. They both looked up curiously.

"Uh yeah, I don't know," Reid mumbled in response.

"You need to get some sleep kid," Morgan said, concerned. "You look like crap."

"I appreciate the concern Morgan," replied Reid, curtly. "But I'd appreciate it even more if you both would mind your own business."

Reid dropped his head back down, any embarrassment he had from everyone looking at him was overpowered by a complete sense of irritation.

Why can't they just leave me the fuck alone? Reid thought.

He noticed his hands were starting to shake and he tried to hide them in his lap before anyone noticed. His thoughts drifted back to the contents carefully hidden in his desk and the vial inside that held the liquid that now controlled his body and mind alike.

The young profiler took a deep breath to try to calm the growing anxious feeling in the pit of his stomach. He counted to three and then took a chance and looked around the plane, thankful to see everyone had heeded his advice and gone back to minding their own business.

All except one. His hazel eyes locked into a pair of blue ones that stared back at him. There was something about their intensity that made him pause.

JJ maintained eye contact with a look that Reid couldn't properly decipher. It was somewhere between a look of concern and knowing. But there was something else, a darkness that he hadn't seen before.

Reid grew irater on the inside but did all he could to try to hide the feeling from everyone else.

What the hell does JJ want? Why won't she stop staring at me? He thought.


The young, blonde agent watched Reid from the other side of the plane. She couldn't help but worry about him. He had been a bit off for a while now. In fact, it had been weeks since he had been himself. She had tried to reason with herself, convince herself that his behaviour could be chalked up to him trying to deal with the shit that Hankel put him through.

But she knew there was something else; she couldn't stay in denial about her friend for much longer. She didn't know exactly what it was that tipped her off- was it his vacant eyes, uncharacteristic irritability, mood swings, or how his legs seemed to bounce slightly, and his hands shook almost unnoticeably? JJ recognized the signs; it would be nearly impossible for her to not.

It felt like a lifetime ago that she could look in the mirror and see exactly what she saw in Reid reflected back at her.

"JJ." A voice next her ripped her away from her inner monologue.

"Sorry Hotch, I guess I zoned out for a minute there," JJ replied. She turned to face her boss who was trying to show her something in a case file.

Hotch glanced at her, then Reid for a half-second.

"Yeah that seems to be going around today," he said.

"I think everyone's just tired. It's been a long few days," said JJ, reaching over to grab the file that Hotch was holding. "What were you saying?"

"I was just asking about this Oklahoma City case you reviewed." JJ quickly skimmed the file as Hotch continued, "you made a note here that the second suspect the lead detective interviewed, the 21-year-old son of the last couple killed, needs to be looked at again."

JJ nodded in recollection.

"When I read the case file he sent I surmised that they are looking for male, late teens to early twenties, who holds a great amount of anger to parental figures," JJ started. "I thought that the son matched that criteria."

"How so?" Asked Hotch, a little surprised that the Media Liaison was able to pretty much put together a working profile. Not that he didn't think her to be competent, it just wasn't in her job description or official qualifications.

"Well, I know that his file doesn't note anything in particular about his relationship with his parents, just that they were 'a good church going family'. But I also have his criminal record and he has gotten 2 DUIs in the last 3 years and after dropping out of college two years ago, has been unable to hold down a job for longer than a few months," finished JJ.

"And you connected those events to substance abuse and poor mental stability. His young age is indicative of a stressor sometime in his childhood," Hotch concluded. "That's impressive work Agent Jareau."

"It's nothing," JJ replied. "I guess I've picked up on some stuff over the last couple years." She paused. "It makes it easier to do the job- pick the right case... Anyway, I sent the note back to the detective for the meantime and sent it over to the Oklahoma City for a profile."

Hotch nodded in agreement and started in on the next case file.

JJ's gaze once again drifted back to Reid. He had his eyes closed and his shaggy hair covered part of his face. It made him look even younger than his 25 years. At first it might have looked like he was sleeping, but the nervous tapping of fingers told her otherwise.

She wondered where he kept his stash. Was he still using the same drug that was forced upon him during his time held captive? Or had he moved on to something else that was easier to come by?

A part of her, her past that she had buried so deep, wanted it, still craved that peaceful bliss. The feeling that nothing could hurt her anymore. Her pain would be numbed and the ever-present dread she felt constantly would disappear. At least momentarily. And then it would come crashing back and she would be where she imagined Reid was at that moment. And yet, that moment of tranquility often seemed worth it, the temptation always lurking.

JJ wanted to help him, but she didn't know if she could. She knew she didn't want to have another friend OD. But in order to help she would have to risk losing herself to her past. Opening that door could mean closing the door on the life she built.


Back in her office, JJ finished up another set of case files. She opened the bottom drawer of her desk and rummaged through the clutter until she found what she was looking for. She pulled out her emergency pack of cigarettes, half full and a couple of months old, and a lighter. Despite the stressful job, she hadn't needed the nicotine fix too much. Today however, with Reid causing her to both worry about him and recall painful, suppressed memories, she honestly felt like she deserved one.

After sliding the pack and lighter into her pocket, she left her office carrying a stack of files to distribute among the team. As she passed Hotch's office she heard her name being called out and turned to face him from his doorway.

"You should go home, get some sleep. Leave the rest of the casefiles for tomorrow," Hotch said.

"Yeah, I just have-," JJ started.

"I'm serious, JJ. You're making everyone else look bad," Hotch said, interrupting JJ with a slight smirk.

JJ returned his comment with a small smile.

"I will, I swear. I just need to finish up of a few things. I'll head out in a bit," JJ promised. "You should too," she added as an afterthought.

Hotch sighed and nodded slightly.

"I know, I-," Hotch's phone rang and he paused our conversation to answer it.

"Hey Haley… Yes, I was just about to leave in a few… How high… Did you give him any Tylenol?... I'm heading home now…"

Hotch's usually stoic face became slightly worried as he began to grab a few files, his car keys, and his briefcase, and got up to leave.

He looked at JJ and covered the mic on his phone to whisper, "I have to go, get home safe."

She nodded understandingly and Hotch passed her, walking briskly through the bullpen. JJ took a deep breath and continued to walk to the desks to hand off the files.

Looking at her watch, she sighed. It was just passed 9:00pm. She didn't want to stay at the BAU right now, but she didn't trust herself to leave either. Not with the thoughts circling her head.

I guess now is a good time as any for a smoke break, JJ thought to herself while she started walking towards the elevator.

Once outside she looked around to makes sure that the coast was clear- she would rather keep this vice to herself- before taking a cigarette out and lighting it. A small sense of comfort washed over her as she inhaled, and she breathed a sigh of contentment on the exhale. A few moments latter she's done and heads back upstairs after putting out the butt with the bottom of her boot.

On her way back to her office, JJ detours to use the washroom. Before she reaches the women's room, a noise from the men's startles her a bit. It was a soft thump sound, like someone had fallen behind a closed door. That's strange, JJ thought, I thought I was the only one here. She cautiously pushed open the washroom door and face paled at her discovery.

Slumped on the ground, crookedly leaning against a panel between two stalls, next to a used syringe and nearly empty bottle, lay a semi-conscious Spencer Reid.