Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds.
Warnings: 1) This story contains a scene (and spoilers) for the episode "Jones" and spoilers for the episode "Revelation."
2) This story contains: drug usage, blood, dark images, sorrow, angst, and minor self-inury.
Author's Notes: 1) After watching the episode "Revelation" today I was inspired to write this. It's dark and gloomy, but hopefully you all like it.
2)I researched the withdraw symptoms for heroin before posting this chapter, so hopefully it's correct. If something is not right, please let me know and I'll fix it.
It was always dark. Even in the illuminated rooms of the office, various locations the team visited, and now his apartment bathroom lit with a sole bulb (for he had yet to replace the two that had burnt out), the lighting could not alleviate the blackness that hovered about his soul. The lights, even candles, harmed his eyes. While in his current state he felt he did not deserve to bask in their bright comforts. The shadows were more welcoming, more understanding. They encircled him in their cold embrace, shushing in his ears, helping to control the spinning behind his eyes. His breathing hurried in an attempt to shut out the chills.
He wrapped his arms around his scrawny frame, his upper body hunched over his knees. He shed the vest, shirt, and tie hours ago. His oily hair fell over his face. His stomach contents had already been spilled in the toilet several times over the last few hours. The sweats came and went, but each time seemed worst than the last. Blood seeped through his fingers, dripping at a steady beat to the tiled floor.
No one said the recovery would be easy, he knew that, all the medical journals and articles he read on withdraws foretold the physical and mental strains. Those facts and statistics raced through his head which each breath. He gripped at his throbbing head. He knew what the drug was slowly doing to him. He knew if he did not stop he would lose everything: his job, his friends, his reputation, everything he worked for. He had to stop. But at the moment he needed another hit. He bargained to whatever higher power would listen: if he was allowed just one more dose he would stop for good. However there were doubts in the back of his mind he wondered if he had any intentions on keeping his word.
Reid glanced up at what was left of the bathroom mirror. The sink sat in shambles. Broken glass complete with empty medicine bottles and other toiletry items littered the counter. He ransacked the medicine cabinet for anything that would give him the temporary release until he found a dealer he could trust. If not in a state of immense agony he would have laughed at that thought. There was half a bottle of aspirin and a few pills of Tylenol left, but nothing that could replace the effects of dilaudid. In his frustration Reid punched out the mirror, the shards left as a souvenir in his hand. He now slowly pulled each one out, hissing at the sharp pain. He already dreaded the questions that would come the next morning at work.
Reid ran a bloody hand through his hair. Clear mucus leaked from his left nostril. He rubbed at his nose for the tenth time in the past five minutes. His tearstained cheeks glistened in the dim light.
He glanced down at the track marks on his arm. His index and middle finger gently stroked the area that had been punctured more than he would have liked in the past month. It was still sore to the touch despite the fact that no needle touched it in nearly a week. He found other ways to administer the drug that were not as likely to attract unwanted attention. Reid clenched his teeth as another sharp pain pulsed through his abdomen. He took a deep breath, letting the air escape in the form of a sob.
He had gone almost a day without shooting up. According to Gideon that was something to be proud of. Reid assured his teammates that he was better, he even apologized to Prentiss and Morgan for his rude behavior and lying. They both forgave him and confessed only being concerned about his welfare. The boy genius refused to let them know of his struggles, though he was certain they already knew. They assumed he was getting help and doing better, but the truth was he had learned to hide it better.
He had to hide his feelings while he was tweaking from his colleagues. His lies were becoming more convincing with each one that left his lips. He even began to scare himself by how well he could lie his way out of anything and no one noticed. He attended meetings, only to Gideon's knowledge, hating himself for feeling like a hypocrite.
On several occasions Gideon approached Reid and demanded to see his wrists and elbows. Reid nervously allowed him to inspect the skin. Gideon let out a sigh of relief upon seeing no new markings. The elder profile smiled and patted the younger on the shoulder, saying how proud he was that Reid was finally getting help. Those words made Reid feel even viler. He now injected himself in the thigh and once in the armpit. He felt guilty each time with the blaring knowledge that he was breaking his word to Gideon. However, he could not stop.
Reid berated himself each time he filled the syringe. He cursed himself each time the liquid was released into his veins. As the pain diminished so did the love for himself. Each time he stared at the weak being on the other side of the pane he seethed with disgust. The needle was slowly stealing his life.
Reid placed his palms straight down on the floor and ignored the protests from his empty stomach as he pushed himself to his feet. He staggered over to the cluttered sink. Reid fell, his hands grasping for the counter. He let out a cry of pain as a large sliver of glass sliced his hand. The red painted the gray granite counter. Reid leaned over the sink, overtaken by sobs and shivers.
He glanced up at the reflection that was clearly not his. Though the features resembled the man he once was, the disgrace looking back at him filled him with contempt. Reid clenched his fists, immediately regretting the decision. He leaned his back against the wall as the blood collected into a small puddle. His khaki pants were now almost entirely scarlet.
Reid's teary eyes stared at the broken man in the shattered mirror. He gulped and stumbled back over to the sink. He closed his eyes to see Tobias Hankel standing over him with the syringe in hand. Reid remembered begging him not to inject him with that substance. Tobias shushed him with the false assurance that it would make him feel better. Sure it did numb the pain, but he neglected to tell his victim that the torment that followed would make him despise himself. Hankel never mentioned the nights filled with dread and sorrow, how he regretted each time he had to take another hit. Yet if he did not shoot up he would be overrun with the thoughts and images. At the moment Reid was unsure which was worse.
He knew just what it was that triggered the last injection.
Just yesterday they returned from another case. It consisted of brutal slayings of young women. The unsub selected victims in which the ages gradually decreased. The last to die was a sixteen-year-old. Reid could still recall her bashed up face. Her every feature was mangled within the next that were it not for her driver's license it may have been difficult to identify her. Reid felt disgusted with himself that he were allowed to survive an unsub's wrath while this girl who was just shy of reaching adulthood was not blessed with that same luxury.
After capturing the criminal they returned to the police station to complete necessary paperwork and receive gratitude from the local authorities. Reid excused himself to the bathroom. He knew how risky it was to administer the drug in the police station, but he needed to rid himself of that image. Reid filled the syringe with the dilaudid and plunged it into his left thigh. His thighs were discolored with welts and bruises. Were he sent to a hospital for a leg injury he would be in serious trouble. He pretended to not feel any pain anytime pressure was applied to the sensitive area. The few times a wince or hiss slipped out Reid lied that it was all the hours he was pulling that strained his muscles. The others were quick to believe his plausible answer. Reid inhaled as he waited for the drug to take effect.
He stashed the equipment in his messenger bag then rejoined the others outside. Morgan sent him a glance of concern. Reid smiled if merely to throw his fellow profiler off. Morgan blinked then let the thought go. Reid knew how dangerous it was to be drugged before stepping on the jet, but the fact that the girl's face gradually erased from his conscious memory was worth the risk.
While on the jet Gideon sat in the seat across from his protégé. Reid glanced up and tried his best to smile.
"Spencer," Gideon said softly.
Reid liked the way Gideon treated him like a member of his family rather than a subordinate. Reid had come to replace his biological, poor excuse for a father with Gideon. He never treated Reid as an inferior. He greeted him with the respect and love anyone deserved. Some might even say that Gideon went far enough to consider Reid his son.
"Hey," Reid said silently.
"Something bothering you?" Gideon asked.
Reid slouched. "I don't know," he said. "I know I shouldn't be thinking about it, but that girl…" Reid trailed off when her disfigured face appeared in his mind. He bit back the emotions that begged to be released. Reid feared opening his mouth for the bile threatened to rise up his esophagus. He looked Gideon in the eyes, tears about to spill. "She was so young. It—it—it's not f—it's not fair," he said just before choking on a sob. Reid closed his eyes, forcing back the tears with all his might.
Gideon placed his hand atop Reid's. The younger glanced up as a single tear trickled down Reid's cheek. He quickly wiped it away with the hopes that Gideon would let it pass without another word.
"Spencer, it's okay to feel that way," Gideon said. "It's what makes you human."
"But she—her—when will the nightmares end?" he asked.
Gideon gave him a look of pity. He spoke in a kind voice. "I still have not figured that one out." He patted Reid's hand. "I know you'll find ways of dealing with it." He gave Reid a smile. "Just remember, you don't have to suffer in silence. I'll always be here for you."
Reid wanted to believe the older man's words. He wished he could believe there was still hope for him.
Reid stared at the imposter of himself in the mirror. I've found a way of dealing with it. Reid clenched his fists, not even caring about the acute pain in his sliced palm. Reid gave his reflection a half smile. I just want it all to end. Tobias was right, it does make it all better. He turned his back to the mirror. His bare feet shuffled across the floor while his locks swayed in his face. I need it. I need it now. I can't wait any longer.
Reid pulled the shirt back on his frame. The fresh blood left a handprint on the white cloth. Reid growled at himself knowing if he went out his appearance would attract attention for sure. No dealer would sell to him for fear of being caught. He shook his head at the thoughts. He had to at least try.
As Reid reached for the doorknob he looked up at the mirror hanging by the door. It was not the same as the broken one in the bathroom. He looked at himself. For the first time that day he really noticed his dreadful appearance. His scratched up hands, the palm pouring blood. He was about to leave his house barefoot. His skin was pale and clammy. His hair had lost all its shine. His eyes no longer housed the caring, innocent soul that made him who he was. He had lost his entire being to that drug.
Reid clamped a hand over his mouth. The scent of blood gagged him. Here he was about to give what cash he had to a complete stranger in exchange for a drug that could be cut with something that could kill him, or at the very least endanger his career. He remembered the proud looks those of his team gave him when he assured them he was getting help (though he never mentioned what exactly he sought help for). Sure they were all lies, but they seemed genuinely glad for him.
Reid felt even more disgusted with himself. He had led the ones who loved him on for so long. There they were concerned about him and he fed them lie after lie. He felt another wave of nausea. Whether it originated from the withdraw or his own disgust, he was unsure.
Reid hurried over to the trash can and let the contents spill from his stomach. He groaned as his throat stung. Reid clutched his aching stomach. He fell to the ground with a fevered brow. He wiped at the sweat and took a few deep breaths. His body felt like it was on fire. He was doomed to follow this cycle for the rest of his days. He would inject to relieve the symptoms and memories just for them to return hours later. He would continue until there was nothing left. It had to stop. It had to stop now.
"I can't," Reid whispered to himself. "I can't do it."
Reid rested his face against the cool kitchen floor. He let the temperature seep into his fevered flesh. He inhaled deeply. He coughed then cringed at the abdominal pain.
He closed his eyes and recalled the day Gideon confronted him about his problem. It was after their case in New Orleans. He sat in the bar listening to Ethan play. Gideon sat down to the right of Reid.
"How'd you find me?" Reid asked, not at all surprised.
"You're not all that hard to profile," Gideon replied casually. He focused his gaze on Ethan. "Your friend is good," Gideon said with a smile.
Reid simply nodded. The two sat in silence for a few seconds. Reid could feel the tension in the air. He knew why Gideon was there. At first he was a bit scared when Gideon showed up for obvious reasons. He was then embarrassed for thinking he could hide his addiction from an experienced profiler.
Reid swallowed the apprehension in his throat and spoke. There was no sense hiding anything anymore. "I missed that plane on purpose," he confessed.
Gideon briefly looked at the young profiler then resumed his attention on Ethan. "I know," he said. Oddly it was not the reaction Reid expected. Gideon held no hint of anger or disappointment in his voice. It was as though he understood.
Reid took that as a sign he could trust his mentor. This was the man who gave him the chance with the BAU. He was the one who was there by his side anytime he needed guidance. Reid owed it to him to trust him with something this big.
"I'm struggling," Reid confessed. He had no need to mention with what he was struggling. As Ethan pointed out earlier that day, there was no way the other members of his team were oblivious to his problem.
Gideon gave him a look of sympathy. "Well, anybody who's been through what you've been through recently would," he said kindly.
Reid felt safe and as though he could confess his feelings freely without any sort of judgment. He needed someone to talk to. "This is all I was groomed for. I never even…never even considered another option." Reid felt better after speaking those fears out loud.
Gideon only smiled. "Now you're questioning whether or not you're strong enough to be here," he said. Reid took comfort in those words. It felt as though Gideon knew where he was coming from. He had felt those same feelings.
"Yeah," Reid replied.
Gideon responded, "I have been playing at this job, in one way or another, for almost thirty years. I've felt lost. I've felt great. I have felt scared…sick…insane." Reid merely listened as Gideon explained those same vulnerabilities Reid was feeling at that very moment. "I don't know." He paused. "I guess the day this job stops gnawing at your soul…hands…hands stop feeling cold." He looked Reid in the eyes. "Maybe that's the time to leave."
"I guess I just needed to try to figure out if I could step away from this job," Reid said not making eye contact with his mentor.
"And?" Gideon asked, already knowing the answer.
Reid looked at him with sincere eyes. "I'll never miss another plane again," he answered. The sincerity in the boy's eyes was overwhelming. Gideon smiled. He had been in a similar situation before and made the very same decision.
The two sat in silence for a while. The music proved to be a soothing melody that washed away the horrors of the past few days.
Reid twitched. "What if I can't do it by myself?" he asked, afraid to look Gideon in the eyes.
Gideon smiled. Though not looking Reid could feel the man's smile. "I'll be here for you," he said tapping the armrest. "Anytime you need me, I'm only a phonecall away."
Reid looked up at the smiling man. It gave him enough comfort to smile himself. At that moment he knew he could trust Gideon's word.
That night Reid promised he would stop and Gideon promised he would be there to help him through the ordeal. He assured him that anytime he needed help he was only a call away.
Reid's eyes shot open. He lifted his aching body from the floor and stumbled over to the phone. He pressed the third number on speed dial. He waited impatiently for the man on the other line to pick up.
The first ring ended with no response. He lied. He promised he'd be there for me if I ever needed him. He's not going to pick up. The line rang a second time. He's just like my father, he's not there for me when I need him. The line rang a third time. I don't know what I'm doing. He can't help me. I'm stupid for even thinking he can. The fourth ring. I can't stop. I just can't. I never will. I shouldn't burden him with this. The fifth ring. At this point Reid wanted to scream. He wanted to silence the doubts for good. He had to be stronger. He needed help. But he could not do it alone. Gideon, please. I need your help. Please, I can't stop, I need your help right now.
"Hello…Spencer," the voice on the other line spoke.
Reid let out a sob. He fell to his knees shaking, barely able to hold the phone.
"Spencer, what's wrong?" Gideon asked, hearing the boy he considered a second son crying.
"I can't do this on my own anymore," Reid wept. "Please, Gideon. I need your help."
"Spencer," he said softly. "Calm down. What happened?"
"Please, it's too much for me to bear by myself. Please help me. I—I can't stop," Reid cried. The tears were now pouring.
"I'll be right there," Gideon said, immediately knowing what Reid was speaking of. "Please just hold on a little bit longer. I'll help you through this, just hang on."
"I will," Reid said, sniffling. "Thank you."
"Anytime," Gideon said before hanging up.
Reid dropped the phone and pulled his knees up under his chin. No doubt Gideon would be disappointed with his lying and usage, but Gideon was the only one Reid could trust to help him. Gideon gave his word and would never go back on it.
"I'm going to be okay," Reid said to himself. Fresh tears relined his cheek. "I'm going to be okay," he repeated. "Thank you," he whispered.
Thank you for reading. I hope you all enjoyed. Hopefully it wasn't too drawn out or redundant. Please let me know what you think.
If enough people like this I might do a second chapter.