Ethan brought whiskey for their catchup. It was typical, and it made Reid laugh. He got glasses, and they settled in for a long night of talking, an old jazz record playing in the background. Reid knew he was drinking too fast, and that Ethan was already drunk, but that was how things went when they got together. Things were fine, until Reid mentioned the relationship he had begun in the two years since he'd seen Ethan last. The change in Ethan's manner was almost imperceptible, dulled by the alcohol.
When Ethan leaned in to kiss Reid, he didn't pull away at the contact. For a few seconds he remembered how they'd been together, remembered the way Ethan's beard would always brush his jaw, and it wasn't unpleasant. Then he got his bearings and he pulled back.
"Ethan, no," he murmured, lifting his glass to his mouth, a block in anticipation of another kiss. "We were together a long time ago, and I'm in a relationship."
"Not tonight, Spencer," Ethan grinned, and lifted his hand to take Reid's glass and set it down on the table. He missed, and the glass tumbled onto the carpet, spilling.
"Ethan, now look."
If he hadn't bent to pick up the glass, he would have seen Ethan leaning back and unbuckling his belt. Seconds later he was pinned, the man's hands at his own fly.
"Ethan, stop!" he said sharply, as the man put kisses along his neck, nuzzling into his skin.
"Shh, Spencer," he hushed. "Just let me make you feel good."
"I don't want you to make me feel good, Ethan," Reid huffed, attempting to wriggle his legs out from under Ethan's knees and push him away.
"C'mon, I know how you like it," Ethan laughed breathily, the smell of alcohol pouring out of him, his hand already pulling Reid's jeans around his knees. "Probably better than your boyfriend does."
"No, Ethan, stop, you're drunk," Reid groaned. He tried to get a hand up to grab Ethan's throat or face to push him away, but Ethan grabbed his wrists and pinned them; one on the backrest of the couch, the other on the arm.
"I remember you like to struggle," Ethan said as he nipped at Reid's jaw. "Used to like being pinned. I know you, Spencer."
"You don't, you don't know me anymore," Reid said, but he hated that the man was right about what he'd liked, about things that had once been part of their repertoire. He felt dizzy and sick as Ethan pressed his erection against his thigh. He'd had training, he had a good chance of breaking out of Ethan's grasp, but he was sure he could talk him down. "Ethan, get off me, I don't want you to do this."
"Just let me, it'll be good," he insisted, and passed one wrist to his other hand, and gripped both. The free hand went to Ethan's pocket of his jeans that were down around his thighs, and then he brought the condom packet he'd retrieved up to open it with his teeth. Reid felt relief for an instant, and then fear.
"Ethan, don't!" he squirmed again, the knees pinning his thighs open and the grip around his wrists seemed so far removed from the way Ethan spoke softly and kissed his neck tenderly.
The condom was lubricated, but it didn't help. Reid fought, and Ethan shushed him.
"Just relax, baby, I know how you like it."
"Don't, Ethan, please," Reid whined, mortified at the nickname. "Please don't, please stop, please!"
It was over mercifully quickly, and Ethan bit down on Reid's neck as he came.
"So good, Spencer, so good," he cooed into his skin. "Aw, baby," he breathed, reaching down between them to grab at Reid's limp penis. "Let me make you feel good."
"No, Ethan!" he yelled, a finally surge of fight freeing his wrists, so he could slam his hands hard on Ethan's chest. He fought until he dislodged the man, pummelling him with open-handed blows until Ethan retreated.
"Get out! Get out, Ethan!"
"Spencer, c'mon, you were so good!" Ethan looked confused at Reid's anger. "Let's have another drink, and talk some more."
"Get out or I'm calling the police!"
Reid literally shoved Ethan out of his apartment, holding his jeans up one-handed, and locked and bolted the door behind him.
Then he called Morgan.
Reid was pacing when Morgan knocked on his door. He let him in without making eye contact. He felt wound tight, like he was about to break open.
"Baby, what's wrong?" Morgan asked.
Reid wondered if Morgan had noticed the things in the room; the half empty whiskey bottle, the glasses, the condom wrapper, the smell of sex.
"I don't know much about romantic relationships, in practice," Reid said, looking anywhere but at Morgan. He pulled his cardigan closer around himself, and folded his arms over his chest. "I've read all about them, I know theory, anecdotes. I know behaviour, I know people, but I don't have much experience of romantic relationships, so I'm not sure if this counts, or if it doesn't really because of the circumstance."
His throat hurt, his head hurt, he could still feel the phantom pressure of Ethan inside him, and he wanted to scream.
"Spencer, what are you talking about?"
Reid closed his eyes and swallowed, his back to his lover. "Is it cheating if the sex isn't consensual?"
Reid almost laughed, because it was really ridiculous. He knew the answer, knew there was no grey, no maybe, knew what it was. But Ethan had twisted things up in his head, and he had to ask.
"I need you to answer, I need to know what you think," he rambled, looking at his feet. "I need to know if it counts as cheating if the sex isn't consensual."
"No," Morgan said, the single syllable shaking out. "Of course not."
Reid dropped onto the couch, burying his face in his hands with a wave of nauseating relief. "I didn't fight him enough," he muttered. "I could have fought harder, he wouldn't have hurt me. I couldn't think straight, I just tried to talk him down."
"Ethan?" Morgan understood what Reid was referring to.
"I didn't use any of the self-defence moves you taught me," he whispered hurriedly, as he felt the couch dip beside him and he pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. "He kissed me first, and I didn't do anything. I didn't want to kiss him but I didn't pull away either. We – we used to... consent was murky sometimes, not clear, when we dated. But I said no, I did. I said stop. But I didn't fight him, not enough. I thought he might just rub up against me, but then he had a condom and I didn't use my legs at all to fight him. He didn't threaten me, he was... nice."
Reid dared to look at the other man, and saw the tears in his eyes, the look of shock and sadness on his face. Morgan swallowed, and gave a little nod.
"It's not about what you didn't do," he said, clearly trying to keep his voice level and calm. "He's – your friend. Was. This isn't your fault, Spencer."
"I didn't fight enough."
"It's still not your fault."
"What do I do now?" he asked, sniffing back tears.
He didn't call the police. He knew Morgan wanted him too, but he could also see that his lover understood why he didn't.
"Six percent," he said, when Morgan's eyes questioned the refusal. Morgan knew what it was a reference to.
Later – he wasn't sure how long, because his perception of time had got confused – he was sat in his bathtub letting Morgan wash his back. He'd seen enough soap operas and TV dramas to know how clichéd it was after a trauma, but Morgan's soft, soothing touches, and the way he asked every time he wanted to touch Reid somewhere else or in a different way was comforting and at the same time devastating.
"You don't have to touch me," Reid breathed. "You don't have to do this. It's okay if you need to... not be here."
"Don't you want me to touch you?" Morgan asked, drawing his hands away.
"No, yes, I mean, you... fuck." He didn't know how to articulate what he meant; that part of him expected the man to blame him and not want anything to do with him.
"I couldn't be anywhere else," Morgan murmured.
"I let him in," Reid said softly, "I drank with him. I didn't fight as much as I could of, Derek."
"It doesn't matter, Spencer." Morgan stroked a soothing hand in big circles over his back. "It doesn't matter how much you fought him; you said no."
Reid pulled his knees up to his chest, and wrapped his arms around them. His wrists were red where Ethan had held him and his bones had pressed together. He knew Morgan had noticed, knew that without saying a word Morgan probably had a good picture of how things had gone down.
"I love you," Reid said suddenly, quickly turning to grip the side of the tub, and to look Morgan right in the eyes.
"I love you too, Spencer."
"I really love you. I love you, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm sorry-" He started to sob, his whole body shaking. "I'm sorry I didn't break his nose! I tried to talk him down and when he called me 'baby' I begged!"
"Hey, hey," Morgan soothed, hands over the man's hair, cradling his face. "This is not your fault, and you have nothing to be sorry for."
Reid dropped his head against the rim of the tub, still sobbing. Morgan put his head down a little further along, and kept stroking his hair.
Reid didn't know how hard he'd have had to fight to feel like he did enough.