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Title: Talk (5/7)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: PG13
Summary: It was time to face the problem they'd been ignoring for months. Gideon perspective, Reidcentric.
Spoilers: Everything up to 'Ashes and Dust'.
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of the characters.

A/N: This is technically the fifth part of the 'Reid-on-drugs' miniseries, but you don't need to read 'Fall', 'Smile', 'Fathers', or 'Tough' to understand it. Apologies for any medical innaccuracies.

ETA2: Nominated for Best Portrayal of a Main Character: Jason Gideon in the 2008 Criminal Minds Fan Fic Awards.

 

"Love and fear. Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other."

- Joseph Joubert

There were nineteen that he could count. On the inside of the right elbow. Probably more on the other arm, maybe even on his legs or hidden in other places - sometimes addicts had to get creative.

Jason Gideon closed his eyes and wondered at what point during the night he'd learned to associate Spencer Reid with the word 'addict'. It had happened gradually, he concluded, as he'd spent most of the last ten hours attempting to find an alternative explanation for the Dilaudid on Reid's tox screen and the track marks that checkered his scrawny arms. The truth was, it made more sense than it didn't - the mood swings, the attention changes, the guilty behaviour - everything Spencer had been in the past two and a half months pointed to drug use.

Spencer turned in his sleep, a soft moan accompanying the movement. His complexion had improved slightly, to the point where he no longer closely resembled the living dead. He had been resting fitfully ever since they'd brought him in, moving in and out of a confused consciousness, completely unaware of his visitors throughout the night.

Gideon'd sent Morgan home an hour ago, reclaiming his seat across from the unconscious genius's hospital bed. The chair wasn't especially comfortable, and for that, he was grateful. The last thing he needed was to fall asleep right now. He didn't want to think about the kind of dreams that would be waiting for him when he was finally forced to close his eyes out of necessity. Instead, he stared at Reid's form on the bed, studying him.

Going over the events of the past two and a half months, Jason had to admit that things added up. Reid had been on an emotional roller coaster ever since Georgia, calling out for help in every possible way. He'd shown textbook signs of posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, both of which should have been addressed immediately. Everyone on the team had expressed concern at the young genius' ever-changing behaviour, but none of them had done much to confront it.

Now, he wondered if it was too late to do him any good. They'd received precious few answers between the time of Morgan finding the young genius passed out in the men's bathroom and now, but the ones they had been given were disconcerting at best.

They'd all been waiting with baited breath for Spencer to wake up, openly concerned by his prolonged unconscious state, but secretly grateful for the extra time to prepare. The agonizing silence left Jason with too much to think about, a million worries fluttering in and out of his mind with each beep of the heart monitor.

He wanted Spencer to wake up, wanted him to explain that it had all been a big mistake. He needed answers - they all did. After nearly three months of guessing and suspecting, Gideon just wanted his young protégé to talk to him. He wondered where along the way he'd lost the connection with Reid that had once made him the genius' sole confidante on the team. There was once a time when Spencer would have shared everything with the aging profiler. Now, Jason felt as if he hardly knew the sleeping man before him.

Gideon wanted him to wake up. But a part of him feared what would happen when he did. He dreaded the words that would spill from Reid's mouth, the explanations that were sure to be anything but reassuring. What if Reid blamed them? What if it was more than just drugs? Why on earth had they let it go on for so long? He'd repeatedly told himself that Spencer would pull out of it on his own - that it was time for him to stop babying the boy, who really wasn't a boy at all anymore. As much as Gideon fought to ensure others saw past the young profiler's age, a part of him still saw Reid as the painfully awkward and insecure eighteen-year-old he'd approached after a lecture all those years ago - an image Reid had been fighting to prove he'd outgrown.

It was like Elle all over again. What if he decided to quit the BAU? The job had already come close to destroying him, but where would he be without it? Reid had already expressed a concern over whether or not he should step away from the profession he'd spent years working towards, but Gideon had not-so-subtly urged him to stick it out. Now, he wondered if it had only been selfishness talking in New Orleans - if it was only the father in him, who'd seen one son alienated and couldn't bear the thought of another. Was it wrong of them to want him to stay, when this job had once meant so much to Spencer? Had he been signing Reid's death warrant the day he walked up to him outside of that college auditorium and offered to buy him a coffee? He needed answers, but the universe was being rather tight-fisted about them.

The two men stood silently outside the hospital room window, watching as a nurse made notes on Reid's chart. Hotch crossed his arms, his mouth tightening into a grim line.

"We need to get a handle on this, Gideon. There are going to be a lot of questions." His voice was soft, regretful.

Gideon nodded distractedly, "Morgan and the girls have been keeping it quiet so far."

"If this gets out, Reid's career is over," Aaron continued, his eyes never leaving the bed on the other side of the window. "Erin Strauss has been snooping around lately - she's already asking questions about Elle's resignation. It's only a matter of time before she gets wind of this."

Jason looked up at his friend. "Are you suggesting we hide it?"

"I know a place in Roanoke," Hotch evaded. "They can get Reid the help he needs. We'll have Garcia handle the registration and I'll take care of the rest." He glanced sidelong at Jason, gauging the other man's reaction to his plan, and sighed. "He doesn't deserve this - he's got his whole life ahead of him. The team is all Reid has."

Jason agreed, even as an unpleasant thought nagged him. "He may not want to come back after this. After everything."

"But I'd like to be able to keep the option open for him, wouldn't you?"

Gideon watched Aaron with understanding, knowing his colleague was feeling the guilt of their ignorance these past few weeks. He turned back to the window.

"You don't have to do this, Hotch," he assured him. "It means putting our own careers on the line. If anyone suspects..."

Hotch nodded. "I think the others would agree with me when I say that this is more important than a job."

"And Prentiss?" Gideon asked, the implied question left unspoken between them.

Hotch thought for a moment, then nodded. "I trust her. So far, no one outside the BAU knows why he's here. I'll make sure it stays that way."

The two men returned to their previous silence, allowing the situation to wash over them once more.

"...He emptied the vial, Jason," Hotch stated, his tone reluctant.

Gideon nodded, his eyes watery. "I know."

The dark-haired man sighed. "At some point, we're going to have to consider the possibility that it was intentional."

Jason nodded again, silently dropping his gaze, not wishing to dwell on the implications of that statement.

Hotch, too, it seemed, did not wish to think on it long.

"I'm putting Reid on leave. We'll make up an excuse for the ambulance," the younger man informed him, straightening his posture with certainty at his decision. "I'll go bring Morgan and the others up to speed. Let me know if there's any change."

Gideon froze as the form in the bed began to stir in earnest. Reid groggily opened his eyes, closing them again immediately to block out the dim hospital lighting with a low moan.

"Reid?"

His voice was soft, not wanting to startle the young profiler but wishing to make his presence known. Spencer stiffened, his brow furrowing over tightly closed eyes. Slowly, he pried his lids open once more, his gaze coming to rest on his mentor.

"Gideon?"

The genius' voice was scratchy with disuse and filled with confusion as he took in his surroundings for the first time.

"You're in the hospital," Jason supplied, his expression carefully neutral. "Morgan found you unconscious in the men's room yesterday afternoon." He paused. "You had an overdose."

The panicked understanding that flooded Reid's expression did little to reassure the older profiler.

"It's not what you think," he whispered desperately, his eyes on the plain white bed sheet he was twisting between his fingers.

"You overdosed," Gideon repeated, trying to keep the accusation out of his voice and only partially succeeding. "On Dilaudid."

Reid shook his head anxiously against his mentor's words, his stare never leaving the bed sheets.

"You've been using ever since Georgia," he continued, his voice holding more strength than he felt. "Tobias gave them to you."

"No- I-" Spencer looked up, still shaking his head. "It's not- I didn't want this. It's not what you think-"

"He didn't give them to you?"

"It's not what you think. I'm not an addict," the younger man stammered. "-No- I'm n- I'm not." he cut off Gideon's attempted reply. "I'm not an addict. I just...I- It makes things easier. I- I..."

Gideon closed his eyes to Spencer's familiar excuses, hating that his young colleague sounded like every user he'd ever met. The reality of the situation had finally set in, all of his suspicions painfully confirmed.

"You could have come to me. To any of us." Gideon frowned, disappointment lacing his voice. "We would have helped you."

"I wanted to handle it on my own," Spencer replied, his voice soft. "I didn't want everyone to know."

Jason sighed, feeling his age.

"You're going to stop using," he stated resolutely, ignoring the way Reid's posture stiffened as he dropped his gaze. "Hotch spoke with the others and they got you into a rehab program off the books. The Bureau won't know - Garcia's handling the details and you're tapping into some of your vacation time. One of us will drive you there as soon as the doctors clear you to leave."

"He told everyone?" Reid questioned quietly, the frown on his face deepening.

Gideon placed a comforting hand on Spencer's shoulder.

"We all just want what's best for you. The team will support you in any way they can."

Reid yanked his arm away, glaring at the other agent.

"Well, I didn't ask you to do that, did I?"

Jason frowned, trying to keep his surprise at Reid's behavior out of his expression. Although the younger agent had become known for random bouts of anger and sarcasm in recent months, this was the first time it had been directed towards him. He watched his protégé's movements carefully, unwilling to let another such outburst startle him.

"We're your friends, Spencer," he replied evenly, knowing his calm voice had worked to soothe the young doctor in the past. "You didn't have to ask us."

Reid sat up suddenly, forcefully ripping off the nasal cannula laced around his ears.

Jason's spine stiffened with apprehension and confusion. "Where are you going?"

"Home," came the unyielding reply as he pushed the bed sheets off.

Gideon set his jaw firmly, watching the young profiler's movements with masked concern.

"You're not going to walk out of here like nothing happened. You need help."

"I don't have a problem," he stated angrily, hands shaking as his fingers tore at the tape holding his I.V. in place.

"Where would you go? If you leave here, you're throwing away everything you've worked for," Jason warned him, sitting up straighter in his chair. "Think about what you're doing. You said it yourself - this job is all you were groomed for. It's all you've ever wanted for yourself."

"No - it's all you've ever wanted for me," Reid replied nastily, halting his actions to glare heatedly at the older man.

Gideon knew what the young doctor was doing, but he wouldn't allow himself to be drawn into a fight. He took a breath, calming himself.

"You need help, Spencer," he urged, locking eyes with the angry profiler. "You need to stop this before it destroys you."

The younger man shook his head, ignoring the words as he searched the small room for his clothes. "I don't need this. I've never needed this; I was looking after myself long before I met any of you - I don't need you to tell me how to live my life."

"You can yell at me all you want, Spencer, but I'm still not going to let you walk out of here without dealing with this."

"You can't make me stay here. You're not my boss anymore, Gideon."

"You're right," Jason conceded, getting to his feet. "I'm not your boss. I'm your friend. We're all your friends, and we care about you too much to let you destroy yourself like this."

"Oh, really?" Reid countered sarcastically, incensed by Gideon's words. "You- you all care so much that it took you two days to find me in that graveyard? I had to save myself because you weren't coming!"

"I know what you went through-"

"No, you don't! Don't talk about it like you know! I didn't see you strapped to that chair! You weren't beaten or- or drugged or made to sentence innocent people to death! You didn't have to dig your own grave at knifepoint! No - I don't think you have any idea what I went through."

"You think you're the only one who's suffered?"

"I think you all left me to die out there. I think I went through hell in that cabin while you were all safe back at the house. I think I'm in more pain than you can possibly imagine, so if I need a little bit of something now and again to manage it, who are you to judge me for it?"

"You have a problem, Reid."

"Well, at least my problem didn't get six agents killed."

It took all of Gideon's years of training not to flinch at the unexpected attack, but he knew he should have seen it coming. Reid was getting desperate, attacking anyone and anything, looking for something to draw the attention away from himself.

"You almost died yesterday," he started again, forcing his voice to be steady. "If Morgan hadn't found you when he did, you probably would have. You know what these drugs could do to you: kidney disease, liver disease, respiratory problems. Not to mention the fact that you're already at risk for mental illness - drug use has been known to trigger psychotic breaks in susceptible individuals. Is that what you want? To end up like your mother? Do you really want to throw your life away over this? Don't you understand how serious this is?"

"No, why don't you tell me how serious it is?" The younger man's normally warm brown eyes were cold with sarcasm as he folded his arms in defiance. "You have all the answers, right Gideon? Why don't you tell me? Go on - fix all of my problems." He scoffed. "You know, I'm not your responsibility, Gideon. Just because you screwed things up with your own son doesn't mean you can make it right through me."

Gideon was silent, fighting to remain calm as Reid vented all of the frustration that had been building inside of him for weeks. Until now, the younger man had only allowed himself to loose his anger on Agent Prentiss, too guilty to bring those issues up with the people they really involved. He needed this - needed to voice everything that had been festering inside of him before it completely destroyed him.

"This isn't about that," he replied quietly. "We just want to help you."

Reid glared at his mentor, anger and pain filling his deep brown eyes. "Oh, sure, now you want to help me? Where were you in Georgia? Where were you when I had a gun to my forehead? You're the reason that he tried to kill me - you stopped his video and he blamed me for it. And Hotch is the one who sent me out there in the first place! I called for JJ to follow me around back, but where was she when Tobias dragged me through that cornfield? It was your fault! It wouldn't have happened like that if it hadn't been for all of you!"

The young man panted with the effort of his confession, his wide eyes boring into Jason's as if he'd just realized what he'd said.

Jason was stung, but he knew there was a seed of truth in Spencer's accusations. He also knew that this was what had been killing Reid these past few months - the guilt of blaming all of them for his ordeal. The young profiler had been trying to deny the small part of him that held the team responsible for Georgia, the part that left him feeling sick and ungrateful. Gideon knew from experience how those thoughts could eat you up inside.

The older profiler sighed.

"I'm sorry, Spencer," he stated earnestly. "I'm sorry you had to go through all of that alone, but we do care about you. The entire team barely slept a wink while you were missing. Garcia's had nightmares about you being beaten; JJ still blames herself for everything that happened at that farm; Morgan's been sick with worry for the past thirteen hours; I had to stop Hotch from tendering his resignation because he still hates himself for unknowingly sending another agent into the arms of an unsub; and Emily has been waiting anxiously with the others all night for news about your condition, in spite of the way you've treated her these past few months. We care about you, Spencer, whether you choose to believe it right now or not. And we're not going to let you destroy the life you've built for yourself. Not over this."

Reid dropped his gaze, fingering the pile of clothes in his hands.

"You don't have to do this on your own," Gideon continued quietly, trying to catch Reid's eye. "You've been trying to stop yourself from thinking those thoughts for months, and that's why you're feeling sick inside. You can't keep it all bottled up forever, Spencer. Sooner or later, you have to let someone in."

He shrugged, raising his hands. "You didn't ask for this. You didn't deserve it. But it happened. And you can overcome it."

Silence reigned between the pair, each of them contemplating their harsh words to each other. Reid stared at the floor, lost in thought.

"...There's a drug rehab center in Roanoke?" Spencer's meek voice broke into the silence, nervously scratching his arm as he forced himself to make eye contact with his mentor.

Gideon smiled cautiously. "Hotch knows a guy. It won't be official. We're keeping this in the family."

"Hotch could lose his job."

"He seems to think you're worth it," Jason stated, watching the younger profiler's expression carefully. He paused, making sure he had Reid's attention. "...So do I."

Reid seemed to visibly deflate. "What if I can't do it?"

"You'll make it. We're not going to abandon you, Spencer. We'll all be there - every step of the way. No matter what happens, we'll be with you."

Reid shook his head, blinking away tears in his eyes, "I don't know if I can. I tried - I tried so many times - but I couldn't stop. I wasn't strong enough."

Jason's smile softened.

"You are strong enough," he informed him, the older profiler's voice filled with conviction. "And you won't be alone this time. We're not going to leave you, Reid."

He placed a hand on Reid's shoulder, confident that it wouldn't be shaken off this time.

"I promise you, I'm not going anywhere."

"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down."

- Mary Pickford

Fin.

Keep Smiling! ;)

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
alphabet26
Jan. 1st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
Just read all of these that you have up so far--great job! Very in-character and a plausible way it could have gone.
batgurl88
Jan. 7th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
Wow, you've been quite the busy reader! And thank you - 'm very glad you enjoyed them.
alphabet26
Jan. 7th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
Well, I figure I enjoy getting reviews even ages after I post, so I thought you might appreciate some late comments. Glad you didn't consider it like spam!
xxdrugcandyxx
May. 3rd, 2014 02:58 am (UTC)
Love this series so far. I think you did an amazing job portraying Reid's hostility towards Gideon when he's confronted about having a problem and that the team wants him to go to a rehab.
batgurl88
May. 3rd, 2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you've been enjoying the series. I struggled a lot finding a balance for Reid's hostility in this one, so I'm happy to hear it rang true for you.
xxdrugcandyxx
May. 3rd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
For me it rang very true and hits home. Being hostile and angry when confronted, yelling and arguing because he felt like he was being cornered and finally ending up being submisive in a sense after he's gotten some of his anger out and realizes that everything he's just said isn't exactly true.

Can't wait to read what else your mind has come up with :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )