Beta: Jalabert, Nilandia and Adam
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Damnit.
Prompt: Gideon/Reid - Coming out.
"Reid." Hotch approached slowly from behind, unable to force eye contact with Reid's back to him. Reid was staring down the hall, where he knew the Operating Room was. Where Gideon had been taken. "Reid?"
Reid flinched, straightening too quickly, his thin frame switching from unnaturally still to all-but-vibrating beneath pale, washed out skin.
"He made it this far," Hotch said quietly, reaching out to grip Reid's shoulder in support and camaraderie.
"He shouldn't have been there," Reid said, voice barely audible in the artificial quiet of the hospital waiting room.
Hotch gave Reid's shoulder one last squeeze, feeling the tension, the tremors beneath the ugly, ruined sweater-vest before letting his hand drop. "Did the paramedics tell you anything?"
Reid shook his head.
"Has anyone told you anything?"
Finally glancing up with haunted eyes, Reid shook his head again. "I don't care, it's not like any news would be good any time soon."
"Please, don't...just..." Reid swallowed hard, backing up a step. His eyes shut, arms wrapping around his too-thin chest, hiding blood-stained hands as he hunched his shoulders against the world.
Hotch nodded. Suddenly unable to indulge his protective instincts, he could only hover.
Familiar footsteps squeaked on the hospital linoleum as Morgan joined them, his stride quick and sure before coming to a halt. "Gideon?"
"In surgery," Hotch murmured, eyes on Reid as the younger man pulled away.
"Sorry I took so long, I talked to the paramedics." Morgan wore an expression of hope, dread, and disbelief on his face.
"It should have been me," Reid blurted, voice flat, before Morgan could answer.
Morgan's gazed flickered over Reid's silent form before he answered. "Reid, you saved his life in there."
"I got him killed. I should have been faster, I--"
"Reid," Hotch cut off the stream of self-condemnation. "The UnSub already had his gun in hand and aimed. Short of a miracle, there was no way for Gideon not to be hurt. And to be brutally honest, you're the most likely of any of us to be able to keep someone alive."
Reid was shaking his head, mouth opening and closing.
"The paramedics said he was damn lucky you were there, Reid," Morgan continued. "Damn lucky. You did everything right, you're the only reason he made it here, why he's still fighting. Don't give up on him now."
Stubborn skepticism flared up in Reid's eyes.
"Gentlemen?" a nurse interrupted gently. "If you'd like, there's a private waiting room you can use while your friend is in surgery. And you might want to get cleaned up a little," she added, nodding at Reid.
"That would be welcome, thank you," Hotch said, taking Reid firmly by the elbow and steering him down the hall after Morgan and the nurse. Once the nurse had gone, he shared a worried glance with Morgan. "Reid, come on." The way Reid had started scratching at his wrists, dried blood flaking off and caking beneath his nails, was disturbing.
Reid nodded, following Hotch docilely as he was pulled gently down the hall to a scrub station, watching with a strange detachment as Hotch took his hands one by one, gently washing them clean of blood.
There was something very wrong with Reid's reactions, and Hotch couldn't help but wonder if this would be the stressor that tipped Reid into that horrific spiral of madness that terrified them all. Reid had gone quiet after being tortured at Hankel's hands, the so-familiar lectures on any and every topic imaginable few and far between for months afterward. Now, he was silent except for those few statements of self-blame, and Hotch had nothing to work with. He was missing something.
They all were, unless...this was the beginning of the end.
Reid finally met his eyes, glancing up from hands wrapped in paper towels.
"Reid?" Hotch tried to keep his voice encouraging, open.
"He left it up to me," Reid whispered before breaking eye contact and turning his head away in shame.
"Left what up to you?" Hotch asked, but received only another head shake in response. "Reid."
Reid shook his head again and refused to say anything.
Hotch could only sigh, gently drying Reid's hands and tossing the towels in the waste can. "All clean." It didn't matter, and they both knew it. Reid was going to be seeing his hands covered in Gideon's blood for a very long time.
Hands twitching, as if still wanting to scratch away non-existent blood, Reid allowed himself to be herded back to the waiting room, only to shy away as they found Emily and JJ had joined them, their immediate work at the local PD apparently finished.
JJ's shared glance of commiseration settled Reid again, the old bond that suffering at Hankel's hands had forged between them snapping back into place with frightening clarity. JJ approached slowly, making sure of her welcome every step of the way before touching Reid's arm gently, letting him wrap her in a hug and hold as tight as he wanted, let him bury his face in her neck, scenting her perfume and soap and sweat instead of gunpowder and blood and antiseptic.
There were no words, no pretty lies of comfort, no "He'll be okay" or "It'll be all right." They knew too well the truth, knew the odds. Gideon's age and stress level would work against him, as would his too-strong empathy with the victims they fought so hard to save.
It seemed an eon before Reid's grip loosened, before he took a tiny step back and raised his head from its pillow. JJ reached up, tracing tear-tracks and wiping them from Reid's face before he bowed his head, jaw tight.
"He left it up to me," Reid said again, his voice shaking.
"Reid?" JJ reached out again, cupping an elbow in her hand.
Emily just glanced at Hotch for an explanation, and got none.
"I couldn't, I didn't want..." Pulling away from JJ, Reid paced the room, footsteps rough on the carpet as his soles dragged across it. "I wanted to keep him to myself, I d-didn't want..."
Click. Click. Click.
Morgan's eyes were wide, jaw slack. JJ had frozen, arm half-raised towards Reid as if she could reach him halfway across the room. Emily was still awash in confusion, truth slowly piecing itself together.
"How long have the two of you been lovers?" Hotch heard himself ask.
"Four months, next Tuesday," Reid whispered, then looked up at him, still frightened. "Are, are you mad?"
Hotch shook his head. "I'd wondered, for a while. There's been a lot more...balance in your relationship." He shrugged. "Especially since--"
"Frank and Holcombe," JJ finished, nodding, visibly connecting the information.
"I think I'm more upset that you hid it from us than anything else," Morgan rumbled quietly.
Reid cringed. "I, I--"
"Morgan..." Hotch shot him a warning look.
"Hey, man, I'm sorry. It would have been nice to know, that's all." Morgan spread his hands in surrender.
For once ignoring the mental flashes of blood, Reid hugged himself, rubbing his arms with the opposite hand. "You aren't--" He looked at Hotch again, questioning.
"Reid. Neither of you let it get in the way of doing the job."
"I think you just proved without a shadow of a doubt that it won't," Emily added, sounding somewhere between shock and exhaustion.
Reminded yet again of why they were there, Reid stiffened. His eyes shut tightly, a single tear escaping. "B-but I, I can't...I can't--" He broke off, scrubbing at his eyes in child-like frustration.
"Reid," Morgan started, his voice more gentle than Hotch had ever heard. "You held yourself together out there, where it counts. Don't be afraid to fall apart now and let us help pick up the pieces. That's what we're here for." He got to his feet, taking the few steps separating him from Reid, and reached out, resting a hand on Reid's shoulder and tugging.
Reid broke, his knees buckling.
Morgan caught him easily, taking them both to their knees, Reid's head on his shoulder as he cried. Not the quiet tears of shared suffering he'd granted JJ, but the uncontrollable, heaving sobs of a man facing the loss of his heart, and part of his soul.
It took only a few moments for JJ to join them, pressing herself against Reid's back along one side, Morgan adjusting his position and wrapping one long arm around them both. This time there were quiet whispers, reassurances that it was okay to cry, that Reid wasn't alone, the voices tear-choked and rough.
Hotch grit his teeth, torn, wanting to join the trio on the floor and offer what he could, not wanting to leave Emily or expose his own grief over even the possible loss of his mentor.
"Hotch, please tell me Garcia knows," Emily whispered, rubbing her hands together in the hospital chill.
"She's probably hacked the hospital by now. I don't know if she knows about--them," Hotch answered quietly.
Hotch pinched the bridge of his nose briefly, trying to block out Reid's grief. "There's knowing, and then there's knowing."
Emily nodded and sat back, accepting that answer. "You're welcome to join them, if you want," she offered.
Hotch shook his head. "One of us at a time is enough."
Emily's eyes widened in understanding.
Reid fell quiet aside from the odd sniffle or hiccup after a time, allowing Morgan and JJ to manhandle him into a more comfortable position on one of the couches. Eventually, Morgan sat with Reid curled up against his side, JJ at Reid's back and rubbing his spine soothingly.
"Excuse me?" An unfamiliar voice broke through the unnatural silence.
Everyone looked up, Reid craning his neck around and making JJ squeak in surprise in his effort to see.
"You're here for Jason Gideon?"
"Yes." Hotch's voice was tight, too-controlled, bracing himself for bad news.
"I just wanted to let you know he came through surgery just fine and is being moved to recovery. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he should make a full recovery."
Reid went limp with relief, making Morgan and JJ struggle to keep him from falling off the couch. Emily slumped in her seat, head rolling back until she stared at the ceiling.
"When can we see him?" Hotch asked, peripherally aware of Reid fighting Morgan off, trying to scramble to his feet.
The nurse eyed them dubiously, wisely silent on the subject of the three in the corner. "I'll see if I can arrange for one or two of you to see him in recovery."
"That would be--" Hotch paused, one corner of his mouth tipping up in a smile. "Much appreciated."
The hum of machines and beeping of a heart monitor greeted Gideon as he swam towards consciousness. He was deaf to it all, hearing only the relieved, tear-filled voice of Reid coaxing him into awareness, begging him to wake up. "Sssspence?" he managed with effort, eyes opening to slits.
Long, bony fingers wrapped around his untaped wrist tightened briefly. "You, you're awake."
Gideon managed a deeper breath, feeling the stitches in his chest and side, knowing he owed his life to a great many people, the first and foremost standing right there, waiting for him to answer. "You're beautiful." His injuries hurt, but he'd been drugged too much to care. Or to be able to make things worse.
Reid sighed, giving Gideon a watery smile and reaching out to brush Gideon's cheek carefully, unable to do much more. Blocked by bandages and monitors and mostly by fear, Reid held his hand. "They know."
Hotch's tall form, a distant shadow in the corner, told Gideon as much. "I love you." Reid's hand tightened painfully on his.