This is the second to last chapter. Thanks for any reviews from earlier!

"You feeling alright, kid?"

"Sure." Reid was sitting in a chair at the edge of his room, staring out the window. He had broken two fingers on his right hand, but had otherwise managed to escape the experience unscathed.

"The doctor said we could leave as soon as he signs your chart," Morgan said. He had left the BAU early so that he could drive Reid home.

"Awesome." Reid didn't look away from the window.

Morgan sighed, then took a step closer to where he was sitting. "You know," he said, "There was nothing you could have done to save that kid. You did everything you could."

"Sure, I know that," Reid said. He didn't move.

"Reid," Morgan snapped, "You've barely spoken since you got here. Hey—look at me."

Reid sighed, then turned and fixed Morgan with an expression that was both apathetic and slightly annoyed.

"I know you feel guilty that you couldn't save the kid," Morgan said, "But—"

"I don't feel guilty," Reid said.

Morgan raised his eyebrows. He was about to respond before the doctor walked in. Reid stood up and accepted the chart, giving the doctor a polite smile. "Thanks."

The walk to the car was quiet, and they rode in silence for several minutes. "Thanks for giving me a ride home," Reid said eventually.

"Yeah," Morgan said uneasily. "Listen, I was wondering if you wanted to stay the night at my place. You've been through a lot of…stuff, and—"

"No thanks," Reid said calmly. "I really just want to go home."

"Well, I could stay at your apartment," Morgan said. "Garcia said that she brought over some groceries—"

"Nice of her," Reid commented, "But I'd like to be alone, if you don't mind."

Morgan spent the rest of the car ride trying to convince Reid to change his mind—but his attempts at persuasion had no effect. Once they arrived at the apartment building, Reid opened the door and started to hop out; but Morgan grabbed his arm, stopping him.

Reid flinched slightly. "What?" he snapped, looking truly irritated for the first time that day. "I'm fine, Morgan. Really."

"Reid, you've been held hostage for three weeks," Morgan said, "We find the guy that kidnapped you bleeding to death on the floor. You walk out of a burning building with a dead kid in your arms and you haven't said anything to anyone about what happened in there—"

"The case is over," Reid said. "There's nothing left to talk about." He pulled his arm free of Morgan's grasp, then exited the car and slammed the door behind him.

Morgan sighed. He dialed Hotch's number.

"Did you pick up Reid?" Hotch asked, once he had answered.

"Yeah," Morgan said. "He just wanted to go home, though."

"Does he seem upset?"

Morgan frowned. "No. He seems…fine, actually."

"He wasn't fine earlier." Hotch sounded worried.

"I think we should leave him alone, Hotch. The kid likes his privacy." Morgan watched Reid's figure walk through the doors to the apartment complex and disappear from sight.

There was a serious, contemplative silence from Hotch. "Alright," he said eventually. "You told him that he had a month of paid leave, right?"

"Yeah, I told him."

"What'd he say?"

"He said he wanted to come back to work tomorrow," said Morgan, who had spoken to Reid about this earlier.

"Oh," Hotch said. "Well, that's a good sign."

"Is he cleared for duty? He'll need a psych eval."

Hotch sighed. "Well, he can come in," he said. "Maybe we can do the psych eval tomorrow. If he wants to come into work, I'm not going to force him to sit at home and do nothing."

"Alright," Morgan said. "I think he'll be okay. Right, Hotch?"

"Sure," Hotch said. "He'll be okay."

Reid was looking in the mirror.

His face looked strange to him. His hair had gotten long again—his cheekbones were deeply accentuated, his skin stretched tight over the bones. Slowly, as if in a daze, he went into the kitchen and began putting the groceries that Garcia had bought for him into the fridge, one by one, throwing away the ones that had expired. Once he had finished, he sat on the couch.

"Huh," he muttered to himself. He wanted to do something alleviate his boredom; yet he was also simultaneously seized by a vitriolic hatred of anything that he had previously enjoyed doing. He continued sitting on the couch, staring at the wall.

What is the meaning of life, Dr. Reid?

Reid blinked, and a small smile came to him as he recalled the absurdity of the question, only to slide off his face as he thought of Stephen's cheerful jubilation when he had answered the question correctly.

The correct answer to the question had been, of course, to live, which had been a blatantly obvious answer that was intended to humiliate the contestant.

Reid could still hear Stephen's voice.

You won the game, Dr. Reid.

I know I did.

You're alive, Dr. Reid.

So what?

Reid blinked, then sighed. He got to his feet, then went over to the bookcase at the corner of his apartment; it took him about ten minutes to find what he was looking for, since he had hundreds of books in his apartment, but he eventually found the novel that he had read nearly ten years ago, sitting innocently underneath a large pile of books on philosophy.

He bent down and picked it up. He stared at it as it sat in his hands; he was suddenly overcome with a feeling of incredible significance, which already seemed to have become incredibly insignificant.

"Makes no sense," he muttered. He dropped the book back into the pile. Without warning, a flood of memories came rushing back to him in that instant, penetrating the numbness.

I don't always know if you'll be what you are. That's why I don't get on well with humans—they're so changeable.

He turned and faced the wall. "The book isn't the problem," he said. "People are the problem. They fuck everything up." Then he realized that he was talking to a wall again. He shook his head, then slowly walked back towards the couch and sat down. He was instantly seized by a sudden, insurmountable hatred—he got to his feet again and began pacing back and forth. He wasn't thinking of Stephen, or Sam, or even Dominique—he was thinking about Morgan and Hotch and Garcia and JJ, and he couldn't dispel the bile of hatred that rose in his throat at the very thought of them.

What is love, Dr. Reid?

"Shut up," he snapped at his brain.

You would not believe the time I've spent wallowing in nihilistic depression.

Reid blinked, then shook his head again.

They knew that you were in there. They destroyed the building anyways. You shouldn't be alive. They didn't try to save you. They had already given up.

"Shut up!" Reid shouted, in a voice that sounded strange and alien even to him; the nagging thought that he had been avoiding since he had woken up that morning had finally risen to the surface. "They had no choice," he muttered to himself, as if speaking it aloud would make it true. "They couldn't save me."

We can't be saved.

With a growing sense of fury, Reid turned and stormed into his bedroom. He noticed that Garcia had left a vase of flowers on the bedside table; and before he could stop himself, he snatched the vase off the table and threw it against the wall. Shards of glass littered the carpet; drops of water crept lethargically down the wall.

They have no concern for the pain of the innocent.

He sat down on the bed and put his face in his hands, barely able to control the panicked, gasping breaths that overtook him at that moment, unable to decide if they were the result sorrow or anger.

Stephen, he thought to himself, although he knew that no one could hear him, it should have been me. It doesn't make any sense. People fuck everything up. It's not one side that's fucked up. It's both of them. Both sides are fucked up, and they have no concern for the pain of the innocent.

"I HATE IT!" he exploded suddenly, shouting at the broken flower vase. "I HATE ALL OF IT! EVERYTHING!" He grabbed his bedside lamp and threw it at the same wall. He stood staring at it for several moments afterwards, panting furiously and immensely confused by his own actions.

It was at this point that he heard a knock at the door. Reid felt the most curious sensation of being snatched back to reality—he approached the door, and opened it to find Hotch standing before him.

"What are you doing here?" Reid asked furiously, certain that Hotch had heard his most recent outburst.

Hotch eyed him for several moments. "Your badge," he said, holding it out to Reid. "You dropped it on the night you…disappeared. You'll need it back, if you want to come to work tomorrow."

Reid stared at the badge numbly.

"Are you alright?" Hotch asked.

Reid fixed his boss with a blank stare. He couldn't bring himself to answer.

"Reid?" Hotch prompted. "Are you alright?"

"Hotch…" Reid trailed off, before he started speaking again. "Hotch, I think I have to quit."

Hotch blinked. "What? You want to quit?"

"No," Reid muttered. "I think…I think I have to."

Hotch stared at him. "We can talk about this," he said, "You have a month of paid vaca—" but before Hotch could finish his sentence, Reid had slammed the door in his face.

He stood there for a moment, struck by the gravity of what he had just done. He considered opening the door to apologize; but he couldn't bring himself to do it, because he felt the most compelling desire to never, never speak to Hotch; or anyone on his team; ever again. Finally, slowly, he turned around and walked into his bedroom to clean up the broken pieces of glass off the floor.

The next chapter will be the last one. Reviews will bring a smile to my face, because I love to hear your opinions (even if it's just to yell at me for writing a really depressing chapter.) Thanks for reading!