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Title: Sickness
Author: batgurl88
Rating: PG13
Summary: Reid's not feeling well.
Spoilers: Post-'The Fisher King pt2'.

A/N: Minor hurt/comfort friendship fluff. This one goes out to all of my fellow past and present H1N1/flu sufferers.

 

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Sickness

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."

- George Bernard Shaw

Agent Jareau glanced over the pile of papers on her makeshift desk and watched as a nearby Reid massaged his forehead with his fingers. It was a slow day at the BAU - which was good, because it meant there weren't many mass murderers terrorising the country - but it also meant they were stuck catching up on paperwork. The leisurely pace had provided her with the opportunity to observe her co-workers' behaviour or, more specifically, Spencer Reid's behaviour.

The young genius had shown up three minutes late that morning, groggily collapsing into his chair with barely a glance at his teammates. Three minutes was nothing alarming for most people, but Reid had made a habit of showing up fifteen minutes early for work every day. Morgan had briefly teased him for breaking his record, before settling into his own desk to face the pile of paperwork that awaited him. Spencer, on the other hand, had been staring at the papers in front of him for more than twenty minutes, as if he still couldn't quite understand why they were there. Normally, paperwork was a cinch for the young genius, since he never had trouble remembering details of an investigation or putting his thoughts in order. Today, however, he seemed to be struggling just to look at the files before him.

A quick glance around the office informed JJ that Reid's behaviour had not gone unnoticed. Hotch, who, like her, had apparently grown tired of staring at the same four walls of his office and chosen to set up a work area in the main bullpen, had stopped writing mid-sentence to observe the youngest profiler's actions. Morgan and Elle were also glancing surreptitiously at Spencer with confused looks on their faces. For his part, Reid appeared to be completely unaware of the interest he'd created in his teammates, and was now breathing deeply with his eyes closed. JJ noted that his skin was even paler than usual.

"Reid? You okay, man?"

Morgan, it seemed, had grown tired of their guessing game and jumped right to the point as usual. Reid started, glancing around the bullpen as if surprised to find other people in it. His eyes landed on Morgan, who had turned his chair around to face the younger profiler. He blinked.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine."

Derek nodded and turned back to his work, leaving JJ feeling slightly disappointed. She was one of the only non-profilers on the team, but to her it seemed obvious that something was wrong. It wasn't until lunchtime that she got her proof.

Elle had gone to the nearby deli, it being her turn to pick up lunch for the team, and had returned with everyone's usual orders. Some time in between starting her chicken cesar salad and finishing off her diet cola, JJ noticed Spencer staring at his sandwich with some evidence of mistrust. The young genuis warily took a couple of bites of the BLT before grimacing and hastily setting it back down again. Gideon was watching him as well, no doubt concerned by the greenish hue his skin had adopted over the last few minutes.

Reid grimaced again, this time jumping up from his seat and making a run for the nearby men's washroom. Concerned, JJ and Morgan followed, the former waiting outside as Morgan went to check on their friend. The sounds of retching could be heard loudly through the door, and JJ made a sympathetic face before heading back to her desk. The two men emerged a few minutes later, Reid looking only marginally better, and found themselves the centre of attention for the entire BAU. Spencer nervously attempted to smile.

Hotch narrowed his eyes, taking in every aspect of the young genuis' appearance.

"Reid, go home."

Reid opened his mouth to protest, but Hotch cut him off, glancing over the other BAU members briefly.

"JJ, make sure he gets there safely."

JJ nodded, putting the papers she'd been working on back in their folders and standing up from her borrowed desk.

"Hotch, really, I'm fine," Spencer argued, though his voice had lost some of its strength.

Aaron stood firm. "Reid, you're sick. Go home and get some rest while you can. I'll call you if anything comes in."

JJ grabbed his coat off the hook and handed it to him. She knew the escort home was probably a bit unnecessary, but it was a slow day and, truthfully, Jennifer was thrilled by the idea of a change of scenery.

Spence was still shaking his head as she led him out of the office, weakly offering her assurances of his health. JJ realized with a start that in all of the time she'd known Reid, he'd never taken a sick day.

"You know," she commented, cutting off his protests as the pair stepped out of the elevator, "Most people don't want to work when they're sick. It won't kill you to take a bit of time off."

He didn't reply as they exited the building, JJ nodding to the other agents they passed. He blinked at the sudden unexpected brightness of the outdoors, clumsily making his way towards the sidewalk.

"Where are you going?"

"The subway," he answered, confused.

"I'm not taking that thing," she shook her head before gesturing towards the parking lot. "Come on, I'm driving."

The genius looked ready to protest, but she grabbed his arm and began pulling him towards her Sedan.

"You know, one of these days, you will have to get a car, Spence."

"I'm working on it," he replied passionlessly, looking mildly nauseous again. "I just haven't found the right one yet."

"Knowing you, you'd get some old 'vintage' hunk of junk," she teased, slowing to a pace that better suited him.

Reid frowned. "What's wrong with vintage?"

The media liason only smiled as they turned the corner, her black Sedan coming into view.

Reid stopped, turning to face her.

"You don't have to do this, you know. I can get home by myself."

JJ smirked, opening the driver-side door.

"Spence, you're saving me from having to sort through twenty-five-odd casefiles. Just don't puke in my car, and we'll be fine."

The genius appeared to have no more arguements as he slid into the passenger-seat.

The car was in 'reverse' before even she realised that she had no notion of where she was going. Although she'd been to Hotch's house once for a barbeque and Garcia's apartment a number of times for various film nights and pickups on the way to the bar, she had absolutely no idea where Spence lived.

"Where am I taking you?" she asked mildly, backing out of the parking lot.

"Cedar Forrest Apartments," he replied, looking uncomfortable in JJ's rather pristine car. He wrapped his arms around his midsection, as if afraid of touching anything.

JJ smirked again at his behaviour. She knew her office was often referred to as a disaster area, due to the messy fortress of files that resided there, but in general she preferred things to be well-ordered and organized. Everything in her car was exactly to her specifications. It was in stark contrast to Morgan's car - where Reid most likely frequented - which was filled to the brim with food wrappers and left-over takeout boxes.

They drove mostly in silence for the first while, JJ occassionally requesting directions as required. It seemed that Spencer had accepted the reality of his illness at last and decided to let it run its course. He became progressively more befuddled as they drove, spouting off random bits of trivia as they popped into his head.

"...and Whitcomb Mansion made the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, joining more than 76 000 districts, sites, buildings and structures designated as significant to American history."

The media liaison smiled as she turned her car into the apartment parking lot as Reid had instructed. It still amazed her how much information Spence's brain could retain, no matter how complicated or obscure. When she'd first joined the BAU, she'd still been new in the Bureau, and she had considered herself quite young for the job until she'd met Reid. The fact that he regularly out-thought people twice his age was nothing short of amazing.

Reid unbuckled his seatbelt, clumsily lifting a hand to the door handle. "Thanks for the ride, JJ," he mumbled, squinting against the bright sunlight still pouring through the window.

She turned the engine off and unbuckled her seatbelt as well. "I told you it's no problem, Reid," she assured him. "How about I walk you to your door?"

The young genius looked scandalized at this suggestion. "What? Why?"

JJ smiled again, a teasing glint in her eyes, "Come on, Spence. What if you passed out on the way? Hotch wouldn't think much of me for leaving you stranded in a hallway somewhere. Or are you worried about me seeing how messy your apartment is?"

She gave him no more room to argue, getting out of the car and waiting expectantly for him to follow. He complied, stumbling around to the apartment entrance. As teasing as her explanation had been, it still contained a grain of truth. Reid had been looking sicker and sicker as their drive had continued. She knew from experience how hard the flu could hit, and with Reid's reluctance to call for help when he needed it, she wanted to make sure he was safe inside his apartment before she even considered leaving him alone.

They entered the lobby, JJ surveying the area in mild exasperation.

"Your apartment doesn't have an elevator?"

He shook his head, gesturing towards the stairs.

"It's only three floors. Did you know there are an average of six elevator-related deaths a year? That's to say nothing of the thousands of injuries requiring hospitalization..."

JJ led the way up the stairs, glancing back occassionally at Reid, who seemed to be slowing down with each step. His face was almost white by the time they reached the third floor, his breath coming in short rasps as he moved on to explaining the exact nature of airborne-related illnesses.

"...During the Spanish Flu of...1918...public gatherings were banned in some cities...and residents were required to wear masks..." he panted, winded, the walk up the stairs having drained him considerably as he drifted down the hall towards his door. "Breaking the ban could...result in a fine or jail time..."

JJ listened absently, more concerned by her colleague's dazed wanderings than by the intricate details of the Spanish Flu epidemic. She watched as he finally located his apartment door, fumbling as he tried with great difficulty to put his key in the lock.

Shaking her head, she took the keys from his hands, gently nudging him out of the way. Reid seemed neither to notice nor care as he continued his informational sermon.

"The epidemic eventually...killed between...20 and 40 million people worldwide."

"I guess that mind of yours never really gets sick, huh?" JJ smirked, opening the door to the dark apartment and stepping inside, turning back after a moment when he didn't follow her. He was standing in the doorway, his eyes sad, and she froze, realizing what she'd just said.
"Spence, I'm sorry, I--" she began, but he cut her off, the distant look leaving his eyes.

"It's ok...I know you didn't mean anything by it, JJ," he commented, giving her a small smile that she could almost believe was real. He brushed past her, stopping in the middle of the room to stare at his surroundings as if he'd never laid eyes on them before, his breathing slightly shallow. She watched him from the entranceway, guilt settling in the pit of her stomach.

Nice one, Jen, she scolded herself, closing her eyes briefly. He already feels like garbage and now you've got him thinking about his sick mother.

She wasn't even sure she was supposed to know about Diana Reid's condition - she'd overheard Morgan and Garcia discussing it after the Garner case, but Reid had never mentioned it to her directly. As far as she knew, he'd only ever mentioned it to the team out of necessity, though she thought she could understand his reluctance. She knew from listening to their team on cases that schizophrenia was thought to have a genetic component. Reid's job - as difficult as it was being the youngest and, quite possibly, the smartest agent the Bureau had ever employed - would be even harder if people thought they had to watch for signs of emerging psychosis.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Reid did a dazed sort of stumble, grabbing the back of an armchair for support. She rushed to his side to help him stand.

"Whoa, take it easy, Spence," she soothed, guiding him towards a threadbare couch. Reid collapsed onto the cushions facedown, JJ taking a seat beside him.

"Thanks. You should probably be getting back," he stated weakly, still trying to catch his breath.

"What? I can't leave you like this - you look like death warmed up," she refused. "They can handle paperwork without me for a little while longer. I'm going to get you some cold medicine and chicken soup." She half-smiled, remembering the times in her youth when she'd taken ill. Her aunt had always made her toast and a bowl of chicken soup. It was the ultimate get-well food, in her opinion.

Reid mumbled a reply, his face half-buried in the couch cushions. She took it as his approval of her plan, patting him awkwardly on the back before standing up and beginning her search for sustenance.

She took stock of the apartment for the first time, her gaze sweeping over the worn furniture and bare, bland-coloured walls. It was depressingly empty, except for a couple of bookshelves - filled to bursting with books, some of which had titles she couldn't even pronounce - and a small television that sat beside a collection of DVDs. Her eyes roamed the movie titles curiously. There was, of course, the obligatory sci-fi and comic book adaptation collection, including the complete 'Star Trek' series and several alien encounter movies. But what caught her eye was the small pile of Humphrey Bogart romance flicks, sitting off on the corner of the shelf by themselves.

Who knew Spence was a sucker for the classics?

Her search continued in the sorry excuse for a kitchen. The dull colours persisted, and what few appliances and possessions he had were very neatly organized on the counter. Her crack about his home being messy had apparently been unfounded - it looked like Reid was as much of a closet neat-freak as she was, though his taste in decor left something to be desired. She opened the fridge, observing it's near-empty interior, and rolled her eyes. It was no wonder he was so thin.

She gave up her quest for acceptable nourishment, having reached the conclusion that Reid survived on coffee and leftover takeout food alone.

No Chinese food, though, she noted with a smile, remembering his fumblings with the chopsticks last fall.

"Do you have any cold pills, Spence?" she called, giving up on her plan to fix him soup. At the very least, he should be taking something, she reasoned, knowing the agony flu symptoms could be. There was no reply from the main room, and she headed back, in search of the washroom. Reid was still lying down as she passed him, and she wondered if he'd fallen asleep.

JJ wandered into the bathroom, opening the medicine cupboard. She hoped Reid wouldn't consider this snooping - she knew how highly they all coveted their personal space, and no one on the team would want to be spied on - but she made an effort not to give in to her curiousity, merely grabbing the small bottle of pills she spotted and closing the cupboard again without observing the rest of its contents. Filling a nearby glass with water, she made her way back into the living room.

Reid certainly looked unconscious, and closer inspection revealed he was shivering. JJ frowned - his fever had probably worsened. She set the pills and water on the table, turning to search for a blanket.

"Did you know...more than half of the chicken noodle soup sold in the U.S....is sold during the cold and flu season?" Reid mumbled, sounding tired.

JJ jumped, turning back to the couch in surprise. She hadn't expected him to still be awake.

"Really?" she replied half-interestedly, still looking around the room for something to cover him with.

"...I worry 'bout it sometimes," he confided against the cushions, appearing to be in a stupor. JJ wrinkled her eyebrows, a confused but conciliatory smile on her face.

"Worry about what? Chicken soup?" she asked, her lips quirking in amusement. The fever must have been going to his head. She wondered if he even knew he was talking out loud.

"Becoming like my mother."

She blinked, freezing in place. She shouldn't be listening to this.

"Sometimes, I think...m'already like her," he continued, his voice still hazy and befuddled, his eyes closed. "I think being the...young, genius profiler of the FBI's a fantasy my mind created...like hers always did... Sometimes, I think I'll wake up, and...none of it'll b'real. I'll be 'n a home, like her."

JJ's eyes widened at the admission, her eyes prickling with tears. She really shouldn't be listening to this. There was a strangely detatched quality to Reid's words, and she knew he wouldn't be telling her this normally - not when he'd confided in so few about his mother's condition. Still, her heart went out to him, and she couldn't help but try and comfort him.

"Of course it's real, Spence," she soothed, dropping back into her seat beside him. "You're perfectly fine. You've just got a cold, that's all."

"...If I was sick, you'd tell me, right?"

His voice was so small, much like a child's, and her eyes stung again with tears.

"Of course," she promised, brushing a hair out of his face.

Assured by her words, Reid drifted into unconsciousness at last. JJ watched him, his breathing shallow but even. For a split second, she wondered what it must have been like for Reid, growing up with that fear. Had his mom been ill all his life? Had she been aware enough to take care of him when he got sick like this? With a twinge of pity, she imagined a younger Reid lying feverish and alone in his bed, wishing for someone to take care of him.

She pulled out her cell phone, hitting the first number on the speed dial.

Hotch answered on the first ring.

"Hey, Hotch, it's JJ," she said, standing up to grab a blanket from the bedroom. "I think I'm going to take the rest of the day off, if that's all right."

She could practically hear Hotch's frown of concern on the other end. "Of course. Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine," she assured him, smiling as she spotted a folded quilt in the corner. "Call me if anything comes in."

Hanging up, she walked back to the living room. With a small flourish, she tucked the quilt around her sleeping friend. He'd probably sleep for a while - plenty of time for her to make a quick run to the grocery store she'd spotted just down the road.

She brushed the hair out of his eyes once more, her fingers taking in the abnormal warmth of his forehead.

Everyone deserved to be looked after now and again.

Fin.
 

 


Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
harknessgirl
Jan. 6th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
This was really perfect and unbelievable realistic. :) Thank you for sharing.
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it.
batcat72
Jan. 6th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
D'aww JJ. "Everyone deserved to be looked after now and again". Yes they do JJ. Very sweet fic.
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
lol I admit I'm a firm believer in people being babied when they're sick. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
daylyn
Jan. 6th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
That was wonderfully sweet and sad and hopeful and just lovely. Very, very nice.
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm pleased you liked it.
procedurals
Jan. 6th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
ok i gotta admit, i'm usually all about the nc-17 slash when it comes to reid, but this fic was wonderful. i'm going to be smiling for the rest of the day.
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
lol I love the nc-17 slash as well, but unfortunately my writing skills seem to stop at the 'fluffy-Reid/team-gen'. I'm really glad it made you smile.
jujuberry136
Jan. 7th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
D'awwww. JJ is so awesome. Love how she and Reid interact in this fic, it's adorable and cute.

Boo flu. That's all I can say on that matter.

Thanks for sharing!
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm a big fan of the JJ/Reid friendship, so I'm glad it came through in this.

Boo flu.

I heartily agree.
_nextboldmove_
Jan. 11th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Poor Reid, he does need someone to take care of him. He had to practically raise himself, what with a sick mother and all. Good thing he has JJ there for him. Thanks for sharing!
batgurl88
Jan. 11th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
I agree - Reid needs someone to look after him now and again, if only to make up for what he missed of that being a less-than-normal child.

Thanks for reading! :)
gershwhen
Jan. 22nd, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
This was really lovely. I liked seeing the interaction and it was SO in character for Reid. Thank you.
batgurl88
Jan. 23rd, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really pleased you enjoyed it (and that Reid seemed IC to you). :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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