Categories > TV > Criminal Minds > Aftermath: Epiphany

Aftermath: Epiphany

by Polgarawolf 2 Reviews

This is more of a ficlet than an actual story - a bit of a snapshot of Dr. Reid in the aftermath of two-part episode "The Big Game" and "Revelations" that's been pestering me for about three-ish da...

Category: Criminal Minds - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters:  - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2007/07/14 - Updated: 2007/07/15 - 4102 words - Complete

/Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., once wrote, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."/

***

It never once crosses his mind that it might actually be possible to hide the drugs so completely that their existence goes unnoticed.

He knows the procedures. After three years (well. Two years, seven months, and nine days, to be exact) in the field and another two years (actually, two years, four months, and three days) working in the B.A.U.'s offices and training for the field, he believes anyone would know them. A visit to the hospital would be mandatory after such an ordeal even if he hadn't been knocked unconscious, deliberately and thoroughly beaten, and somewhat inexpertly resuscitated with CPR after suffering a fatal seizure during yet another session of torture. They'll have to photograph and write up his injuries so the extent of the damage he's suffered at the hands of the unsub can be thoroughly documented for the case and it would be impossible to hide the marks on his right arm where Tobias forced the drugs on him. Besides which, there's the fact that the drugs will inevitably show up in the routine blood tests the doctors at the hospital will run. No two ways about it, the fact that he's been repeatedly and forcibly drugged will not only be noticed but also thoroughly and meticulously documented for the final write-up for the case. So it doesn't ever occur to him that he might be able to actually conceal the fact that he's been repeatedly drugged (he lost count after five doses, in spite of how hard he'd been trying to keep track of everything that was happened around him, due to the increasing strength of the hallucinations he'd been suffering as the injections came closer together and the drug started building up in the fatty tissues of his body) by stealing the two remaining vials of the vile substance (judging from his response to the injections, he'd guess it's some kind of opiate, probably a homemade variant of morphine or heroine, cut with an extremely strong psychotrophic of some kind. Possibly dilaudid mixed with some kind of tryptamine-based compound).

As for stealing the remaining drugs for himself, well, he might not be thinking too terribly clearly at the moment, given how much pain he's in and how foggy his mind still is from that last dose, but that doesn't mean he's going to suddenly abandon all rational thought and throw away everything he's worked so hard to achieve these past five years to embrace drugs as the answer to all of his problems. He's disliked drugs - even medicinal ones - in general ever since he had his tonsils taken out, as a child, and had a bad reaction to the anesthesia they used at the hospital. And he's had an absolute horror of perception-altering drugs ever since he first found out just what was wrong with his mother and why. He would rather die than willingly become addicted to something that mimics some of the symptoms of his mother's illness. It's why he kept trying to dissuade Tobias from dosing him, even though the pain-killing aspect of the drug actually did help to put some much needed distance between his conscious awareness and the agony wracking his body. Besides which, even if he were insane enough to want to willingly take that kind of poison, there's no way he could hide the actual vials, themselves, not when they're going to be processing his clothing for evidence as well as documenting the physical injuries he's taken to his body. Sleight of hand is a neat magic trick, but not even the most realistic of illusions can hold up to that kind of careful scrutiny, and he can tell, just from looking at them, that at least one of the other members of his unit is going to be with him or no more than a room's length away from him at all times from now until whenever they finally get him home. So not only does the thought of taking the remaining drugs for himself, to use later on, never come into his mind and most likely never would have under any set of circumstances, no matter how dire, even if the idea would have occurred to him, he wouldn't have been able to act upon it, not with procedures being what they are and with his teammates being the way that they are.

In truth, he asks for a moment alone with Tobias' body and then performs his terribly clumsy (though he should probably count himself lucky he didn't drop the vials when he was fumbling them out of Tobias' pocket, all things considered, even if he's approximately 97% positive that all three of the male members of his unit either know what it is that he's doing by the body or actually see him pick Tobias' pocket for the remaining vials. At least the two women probably don't know what he's doing. From the way JJ is shivering against Prentiss' shaking shoulder, they're both too busy fighting back tears to notice much of anything) sleight of hand to palm the two remaining doses (two. Hmm. Tobias and the other two personalities certainly never seemed to be suffering from any of the ill-effects that the drug would've induced, which means that he likely never took any of the drug himself, after the kidnapping. If the small cardboard box he observed Tobias throwing into the fire is the container that he brought the drugs in - and the size certain seems to correspond, from what he remembers - that means he should've started out with . . . yes, the math checks out. Ten vials would have fit snug in that box. Which yields an 89.67% probability that he's been drugged eight times since he first regained consciousness, though he can only definitely recall receiving six doses) for a much different reason

In the back of his mind, Spencer Reid hopes that, if there's no actual physical evidence of drugs on site at the crime scene, the police won't have any reason to mention the fact that he's been forcibly, repeatedly drugged to anyone either in the media or likely to speak to the media. In short, he hopes that it might be possible to keep the media in the dark either about the fact that he's been drugged or else at least concerning the exact nature of the drug Tobias kept forcing on him. It's not very likely that they won't eventually find out that he's been drugged, all things considered, but an absence of concrete evidence of drugs at the crime scene increases the odds in his favor by almost 9.85%, so he considers the risk of being seen palming the remaining drugs worth it, if it will keep the media from writing yet another series of seemingly endless articles about the brilliant and vulnerable young Dr. Reid, who, according to the media, is so very good at attracting the attention of sociopaths and psychopaths and criminal minds everywhere that he is doubtlessly the weakest link in his B.A.U. unit. There's one reporter in particular - Hal Greene, the man who got on JJ's bad side during that case in Wilmington, Delaware, involving the kidnapped girl, Billie Copeland - who seems to take an almost sadistic glee in portraying Dr. Spencer Reid as if he were little more than an extremely precocious and therefore completely vulnerable child, someone too young and too fragile and too intelligent to be working in the field. He is so incredibly sick of being spoken of and written about in the media as if he were some sort of piece of fragile irreplaceable artwork that might just shiver apart into a million pieces at the barest hint of rough treatment that he stopped trying to pretend that he couldn't shoot straight months ago, in hopes of publicly establishing the fact that he could take care of himself very well, if it were to ever come down to that, thank you very much, but the only ones who seem to have noticed are his team members. And of them only Gideon seems to suspect that his sudden proficiency in marksmanship is anything but the result of a lot of hard work and extra time put in down in the ranges.

He's kicked himself so many times over the decision to try to put the other members of his team more at ease around him by deliberately failing to be any good at a few things (like being able to actually hit whatever he's aiming at whenever he fires a gun off in the range, four times out of five, having enough dexterity to eat with chopsticks, and being able to make himself speak another language with the proper accent) that it's a wonder no one else has noticed how frustrated and unhappy he is whenever he's called upon to actually fail at one of those things and caught on to his little tricks. There are days when he desperately hates the fact that he can't bring himself to put everything he knows about personal interaction and group dynamics to any kind of practical use that serves no other purpose than his own comfort, but it just feels too much like taking advantage of people, like lying to others and using their both their basic humanity and their individual weaknesses against them, and so instead he's endlessly awkward and unable to fit in well in almost any kind of social situation. Things would be so much easier if he could just use what he knows and pretend to different people based on whatever the group dynamics of any particular situation or set of circumstances might call for. The thing is, though, that as good as he can be at pretending to be whatever kind of person can best put the greatest number of people around him completely at ease, he knows that he's rarely ever anything like that kind of person. He's not normal. He's not outgoing or spontaneously sociable and confident or even really all that trusting enough to be fully comfortable around a lot of other people. He actually is shy and bookish and awkward and not very comfortable around individuals he doesn't know very well.

So instead of pretending to be a lot of different people, depending on the circumstances or whatever situation he happens to find himself in at any given moment, and then feeling bad about it because he is, in essence, deliberately presenting a succession of empty masks to other people as if these facades were him, he's actively cultivated his own predilection towards stereotypical shy bookishness and absent-mindedness as a cover, of sorts, to keep others safely at arm's length, outside of work. It's surprisingly difficult to actually work with others without interacting with them, though, and so to this basic persona he's since purposefully added just a few little obvious faults and flaws, to make him seem a bit more nonthreatening and patently imperfect, despite his high IQ (thankfully, he never took that test under his own name except for the once, when he was nine, and the heads of the local school system insisted on it before they would allow him skip another three grades. He rather suspects it would be a lot harder to cultivate that air of awkward shyness, absent-mindedness, and all around harmlessness if it were widely known that his IQ score actually came back as being unquantifiably high - meaning that it either reached or surpassed 200, the upper limits of the test - when he took the test again, at age twelve, under an assumed name, through an online Mensa site) and related talents, so that he'll be seen as more acceptable and, if not normal, then at least every bit as human and flawed as everyone else.

After about a year and a half or so of awkwardly stumbling about in almost ludicrously stereotypical bookish (even nerdish) and often ill-fitting (and sometimes also not well matched) clothes, spouting all sorts of random information in an extremely energetic and rapid, almost nervous sort of steady stream, and being very careful to present a nonthreatening, almost submissively docile and eager to please air of expectant attentiveness, he'd finally succeeded in winning over most of the agents he'd interacted with, either on a near-daily basis or sporadically, as they came and went from their various assignments out in the field, in the B.A.U.'s offices at Quantico. When he'd cautiously put out his first feelers regarding the possibility of eventually becoming a field agent, though, several of those agents had immediately become agitated and even somewhat aggressive towards him, displaying behaviors he recognized more from his days as a preteen in the Los Vegas public high school he'd attended than from his previous experience among the B.A.U. staff. He had immediately responded by embracing his persona of nervous bookishness with a vengeance, his speech patterns developing an occasional near-stutter as he increased his efforts to share as much of his knowledge as he could in both as useful a way as possible and in as socially inept a way as possible, desperate to show that he was no threat to these agents and could in fact be of use to them in their fieldwork.

Convincing Jason Gideon - the same man responsible for "discovering" him and getting him the position in the B.A.U.'s offices in the first place - to decide to give him a chance at doing actual fieldwork without also having the much more experienced profiler figure out what he was doing had required an extremely careful and potentially dangerous dance. Perhaps he'd been a bit too paranoid about tipping off the older man to the fact that he was carefully angling for both a slightly closer, father-son type of relationship instead of just than of another mentor and student. But he hadn't wanted anyone to guess just how much he wanted to be out in the field or to take it into their heads to try to keep him from that because of some kind of petty grudge inspired by feelings of inferiority due to his IQ and overall proficiency at the job. He'd feared he would be seen as a threat to the perceived level of skill and general competency of the other agents if it ever got out that he was, in fact, an even better shot than Aaron Hotchner, and so he had worked very hard to consistently either fail or come very close to failing his routine firearm proficiency exams. It gave the other agents something to hold on to, a reason to feel that they were superior to him and, thus, obligated, in a way, to look out for him - to take care of him and protect him, like older siblings with a much younger brother - and disencouraged them from, well, a lot of unsavory and potential dangerous behavior, not only for him, personally, but for the other agents, too, regarding their reputations and their careers.

Unfortunately, it's also made him appear to be an easy target not only for virtually every deviant his team has ever gone after, but also the press, as well. In his line of work, appearing to be the vulnerable one while, in fact, not being quite so vulnerable, after all, could and often did yield favorable results. The suspects and the unsubs consistently overlooked him, underestimated him, and perceived him as someone who could be easily bullied and manipulated, which usually gave him and the team an extra angle to work that very few people ever saw coming. Well. Generally might be a better word. Being singled out as the vulnerable one certainly didn't do him or anyone else a whole lot of good on this last case, though he understands, logically, that it could have been much, much worse. Maybe he couldn't save Tobias or that last family, but at least he managed to save himself and all of the other potential victims out there from Charles and Raphael, including a member of his own team. That has to count for something, right? He honestly did do his best on this one, no holding back whatsoever, and damn the consequences, should anyone else observe him displaying a greater level of overall competency than has been the norm for him. He's exhausted from dealing with the different personalities lurking behind Tobias' eyes, able to switch on and off and back and forth and then cycle through all over again at nothing more than the blink of an eye, and he's in a lot of physical pain, too, now that the last dose Tobias gave him is really wearing off, and all he really wants right now is just to not have to worry that the media is going to get ahold of the fact that he's been repeatedly, forcibly drugged - not with a sedative, but with a strong pain-killer and hallucinogen - by one of the personalities of the man who kidnapped him. Is that really too much to ask?

"Reid? Hey, you alright, over there?"

"Hmm? Oh. Yeah, just a min - oh!" He's been woolgathering, and he pays for it now, trying to take a step with his bad foot and nearly spilling himself painfully to the ground in the process. "Morgan, I think - "

"I've got you, little brother. Just hold on, okay?" Morgan is there before he even finishes speaking, shouldering in close so quickly that he doesn't even have time to automatically try to flinch away before he's taken almost half of Reid's weight onto his own broad shoulders. The unexpected endearment - "little brother," reminding him of a time when Morgan had jokingly referred to JJ as Reid's "mommy" - hits him like a kick in the chest, and he staggers badly, despite Morgan's steadying presence under his left arm.

"Here, let me." Gideon is on the other side so quickly that he has to blink, wondering if he may still be affected enough by the drugs to occasionally still be dissociating from reality, just a heartbeat or three here or there at a time.

He's still wondering about it when Gideon maneuvers himself underneath his other arm and he and Morgan start guiding him away from Tobias' body and towards the open back of the ambulance, where Hotch appears to be lecturing the EMTs with quite a bit of intensity about something or other, though he's speaking in such low tones (and the EMTs are mostly just staring at him with almost laughably huge eyes and nodding frantically in either agreement or understanding or both every now and again) that he can't even begin to tell what they might be talking about. Gideon and Morgan have already essentially carried him over to within yards of the ambulance before it finally occurs to him that it's not so much the drugs he should be worrying about as it is the fact that he's coming down from an adrenaline high in the wake of an extremely traumatic event and that exhaustion and shock are both trying to creep up on him and drag him back down into oblivion. When black flecks start dancing at the edges of his vision, he realizes that he should probably warn somebody before he passes out and quickly notes, "Guys. I don't know if I can make it."

"It's alright, Spencer. We have you. We have you, and we won't let you go. You're safe now that we've got you and it's going to be alright. I promise," is Gideon's immediately response, the depth of emotion in his voice hitting Reid like another kick to the chest.

He wouldn't have thought that he'd be able to feel much of anything else just then, after everything he's been through, but guilt and gratitude all but bludgeon him over the head at being referred to as Morgan's "little brother" and being treated like someone of invaluable worth to Jason Gideon. It's enough to shatter something in him that hasn't quite broken all the way yet, not even when Aaron Hotchner had been clinging to him like someone who'd just had their first-born child miraculously snatched forth from the jaw of a ravening beast and placed safely in his arms again. Before the rest of him can quite catch up with everything, while he's still gasping over that kicked-in-the-chest sensation, the tears start. And not just any kind of tears, either. The extremely loud and messy, gasping, full-body, wracking, sobbing kind. The kind that leave you wrung out and weak as if you've had a nasty flu bug for at least a week and your fever has just then finally broken. The kind that can and do make even the most beautiful people look haggard and sweaty and ugly. The kind that men, traditionally, are not ever supposed to engage in. And his first instinct is to curl in around himself and try to hide his shame, but he hurts too much to really move and, since he's essentially being carried, half dangling and half dragging, from Morgan's and Gideon's shoulders, he really couldn't move much anyway, even if he still had enough strength to try it. He's so exhausted that his one mostly still good leg gives way that last little bit, as his body is shuddering with sobs, and then he really is hanging from the other two men, unable to support any of his own weight, and the black flecks are back at the edges of his vision with a vengeance then, making his head loll dizzily when what he really wants to do is to bow it down and try to hide at least part of his shame behind the curtain of his hair.

He is having serious difficulty breathing when Hotch is suddenly there in front of him, /ping/, like a magic trick being revealed - a reverse of now you see him, now you don't, the incredible appearing Hotch instead of the incredible disappearing Hotch, for once - and he has the gurney with him. Gideon and Morgan instantly lever him up onto the moveable pallet, their arms shifting down around his waist (and has he lost weight? He doesn't remember feeling quite so insubstantial, the last time Morgan had to lift him up, though granted one does tend to feel a bit more earthbound after having been tackled, which Morgan seems to have to do to him an awful lot, come to think of it) to get better grips so that they won't hurt him, hauling him around and slinging him up like a sack of potatoes. He immediately tries to curl in on himself, trying to hide, and is only vaguely aware of hands on his back and shoulders, gripping reassuringly and rubbing in soothing, spiraling circles across his back. Part of the painful constriction around his chest eases a bit, but the darkness closing in around the edges of his vision doesn't let up, even as his traitorous body slowly uncurls, gradually relaxing back into the hands holding him and comforting him. Hotch, voice uncharacteristically gentle, murmurs, "It's alright, Reid. Gideon's right. We have you. You're safe. You can let go now."

Despite the softness of his voice, the words feel somehow like an order. And since his body really is too exhausted to do much else but obey, he finally gives in and lets the darkness swallow him. With his team here now, he knows the darkness will only be temporary.

His last thought, as he drifts into unconsciousness, is about the two little vials nestled in the right pocket of his trousers.

If he gets lucky, the paramedics will break the damned things strapping him to the gurney without noticing that they're there and no one except whoever it is on the team who ends up cataloging his clothes for the case file will ever be the wiser, regarding their existence or their contents. If he's very lucky, Gideon or Hotch or Morgan will perform a little sleight of hand of their own and see to it that no one else is ever the wiser about their existence.

Either way, as far as he's concerned, as long as he doesn't have to hear or read about them in the media, he'll have won something worth winning.

Everything else can wait until later.

***

/Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., also once wrote, "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."/
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