Reid knew from the moment he woke up that something was off, but he chose to ignore it, slipping into a gray pair of slacks and buttoning his cardigan as he would any other day. He stops by his favourite coffee shop before work, getting a large americano with sugar and rides the train to Quantico.
By time he’s sliding his ID through the scanner, the awkward aches that filled his body have managed to build into something else entirely. He can feel the constricting feeling in his head, the one that’s just a little too tight for comfort; and symptoms that accompanying it without a grain of sympathy— the aching limbs and weary bones, the uncomfortable flashes of varying temperatures, and worst of all, the knowledge that this is just the beginning.
He’s the first one in the briefing room— and it seems to hit him that they got called in for this case at four in the morning. Yes, it’s been an hour since his wake up call but that certainly doesn’t help him with anything he’s feeling.
He props his head on his arms, closing his eyes, americano cooling beside him. This, he thinks, is going to be a terrible case— and he knows that before he ever opens the file under his slumped frame.
Morgan is the second one to enter the briefing room, mouth already opened to poke fun at the youngest agent, who seems to have nodded off at his place on the table, but then he realises there’s something unsettlingly wrong with the picture before.
Reid, for one, is completely still— a type of unconscious that Morgan has only seen him portray when he’s laying face up on a hospital bed, and to be completely honest, it scares the hell out of him.
Morgan’s hand finds its way to Reid’s shoulder just as Hotch enters the room, face holding the same look of concern as Morgan feels flooding through his body, “Is he alright?”
And Morgan hears the underlying question that he knows is in the back of their minds, the one that whispers the thing they don’t want to begin thinking about— the subtle, ‘did he take something?’
But it’s been four and a half years since that dark time, and Morgan is almost confident that at the very least the kid is just exhausted— he doesn’t blame him.
Leaving his thoughts, Morgan shakes Reid’s shoulder softly, taking note of how hard the kid is to rouse from his accidental nap.
“Hey, Reid?” Morgan calls, watching as what he can see of the kid’s eyelashes flutter to reveal the whites of his eyes.
At once the kid jolts, but the sleepiness still has its hold over him. He presses his hands to his eyes, and the gesture is so uncoordinated, that Morgan can’t help but think it’s not too much unlike that of a groggy toddler.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, Reid’s voice more hoarse than he’d like it to be; but the stress exits both his and Hotch’s body at once— he was coherent, and if he was high on anything it was simply a lack of sleep. “Did I miss anything?”
“No, it’s all good, Pretty Boy,” Morgan says on an exhale, ruffling his hair, “I just saw you slumped and I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Oh,” is all he says, and Morgan knows he heard the silent implication of, ‘I never want to see you slip again’, and it’s the sad look on Reid’s face that tells him, maybe that just wasn’t the right thing to say.
They all seem to notice something is off about him during the meeting, he’s hardly speaking, taking slow sips of coffee as the cogs turn in his brain, admittedly slower than he seems necessary, let alone helpful; but he does manage to get some useful facts and statistics in there, the his team members off his trail.
Thank God, he thinks silently, the last thing he needs is people worrying about him.
It’s not until halfway through the case review on the jet, that Morgan feels the same worry from before bubbling up in his body.
“Reid, how many miles are there between—“ Prentiss stops speaking when she looks up to see Reid’s head balances precariously on his palm, eyes closed. “Hey, Spence.”
She reaches over, patting his knee frowning when he doesn’t budge. “Reid?” She calls again, watching as his eyes open, and he pushes himself up again.
Everyone exchanges a look as he presses his palms into his eyes, blinking at the folder that was still opened on his lap. He blinks, blurting, “Sorry, what were you saying?”
She hesitates, looking at Hotch, before continuing, “Oh, um, how many square miles are there between the first and second drop off?”
Reid flips through the papers, just going to show how distracted he’s been, “about one hundred fifty two,” he hesitates, “exactly one hundred and fifty two.”
When he glances up they’re all staring at him, and Morgan is the only one brave enough to break the silence, “Are you alright, Pretty Boy?”
“Yeah,” he says, and it has enough of his normal assurance that they believe him when he says, “I just haven’t been sleeping very well— I’ll work on it.”
They all nod, and it’s JJ who speaks up, “How about you take a nap?”
He doesn’t fight her, and it’s so blatantly uncharacteristic that it’s almost more concerning than him falling asleep during their briefing.
Once he’s out, Rossi adverts his gaze back to the group, “Whoever’s with him— just, keep an eye on him.”
Everyone nods, continuing on with the case rundown.
He seems significantly better when they land, and it almost convinces the team that he really was just tired. Almost.
He’s sorting through the evidence all day, carefully pulling out the pieces he needs with his maker.
“Hey,” Reid turns to find JJ holding a glass of water out to him and he takes it gratefully, taking long slow sips. “How‘s it going?”
“Okay,” he says, setting down the now empty cup. No facts or statistics, just a simple single worded response.
“And how are you?” JJ questions softly, which gains her an actual look from him— eyebrows furrowed and lips parted.
“What do you mean?” He mumbles.
“We’re all just a little worried about you, you’ve been kind of... off?” She says, and she sees the exact moment he puts his walls up. She curses herself for saying anything.
“I’m fine,” He states, glancing back at the board. “I need to get back to work.”
“Spence—“ she starts, but he simply cuts her off with a glare, turning back to the board in front of him.
The longer he denies it, the more apparent it becomes. His head aches and his stomach is in utter knots— though that could be attributed to the fact that the last thing physically ate was a vegetable sub he split with Garcia they day before.
When they finally get to bed for the night, it’s pushing two in the morning and Morgan is still changing in the bathroom— Spencer slips off long before Morgan finishes brushing his teeth, and by time the older agent his finally done with his night time routine, he comes back in the room, speaking before he can think better.
“Hey Kid?” Morgan inquires, not waiting for an acknowledgement, “Do you think we could he dealing with some type of— oh, and you’re out like a light, huh?”
He’s watching Spencer breathe in and out; he can’t help but note that as Reid does so, he’s only exposing the already obvious situation.
His inhales rumble with the tell-tale snores of congestion, he exhales resemble wheezes more than anything, and his face in general is just the picture of discomfort.
Morgan just sighs, running a hand over his face as he pulls the comforter up from it’s spot around Reid’s waist up to perch around his shoulder before flipping off the right.
His last conscious thought, as he stares at the ceiling is that Reid is too stubborn for his own good.
When he wakes up to Reid’s alarm, the kid is still knocked out, barely reacting to the noise— with the bare minimum exception of the twitching of his fingers that dangle over the carpet. Morgan reaches for the kids phone, blinking when he sees that the alarm was set for five when they didn’t have to be up until seven. He rolls his eyes, sighing as he pushes himself up, switching off the alarm.
Once he’s dressed, showered, and he’s grabbed something to eat for himself and the kid it’s nearing six-thirty and Reid hasn’t moved.
Something is so painfully wrong, and it’s killing Morgan to have to ignore it.
“Hey, Spencer,” something about the use of his full name snaps the kid to life faster than the past few times, and it brings a faint glimmer of hope to Morgan’s system when he opens his eyes, “It’s six thirty, you need to start getting ready.”
He groans, rolling over and flexing the hand that’s been dangling off the edge of his bed for hours. “Did my alarm go off?”
“Yeah, you slept right through it,” Morgan says, sitting down on his bed, staring at Spencer’s still prone frame as he rubs a hand over his face. “You feeling alright?”
Spencer nods, pushing himself up— Morgan ignores the way the kid’s arms shake under his own weight.
“Yeah, just need coffee,” He mumbles, before disappearing into the bathroom.
They’re walking around the latest crime scene when the team can’t ignore then problem anymore. Prentiss and Rossi are walking around the lower level of the house when they hear Hotch’s surprised, “Whoa!”
Prentiss and Rossi only have to exchange one, mildly panicked look before finding Reid and Hotch standing in the middle of the one of the bedrooms. Reid his leaning heavily against Hotch, eyes half lidded and looking even more pale than the day before.
“M’fine,” Reid mumbles, standing himself on Hotch’s arms as he regains his footing, “I just fell.”
“You were standing still, and I’m almost certain you were unconscious for—“
“M’fine,” he utters again, this time louder pulling his arms away, “See, fine.”
But then, his knees buckle under him and he drops, unconscious before he can even hit the ground. All three agent’s reflexes are fast enough to ease him down to the ground, blinking at one another in shock.
It’s Rossi who breaks the silence, “What the hell just happened.”
“I think he has the flu,” Hotch sighs, pressing a hand to the young Doctor’s forehead. “I saw it yesterday— he was acting how Jack did when he got strep last year, I guess I just didn’t think he’d try to hide it until he got to this point.”
“Hey, Spencer,” Emily coos softly, brushing the stray hair from his eyes as they flutter open. There’s barely suppressed frustration peaking through, but it’s made murky by the exhaustion.
“Did I go down?” He croaks, nuzzling into her touch which only serves to concern them more.
“Spencer, what’s wrong?”
And that’s the straw that breaks the camels back, because from one second to another, he covers his eyes with his hands, releasing a shaky breath as he whispers, “I don’t feel well.”
“We know, sweetheart,” Emily says, sweeping a calming hand over his shoulder’s and back as they help him into a sitting position, “We know.”
The car ride back to the precinct is significantly less eventful than the fifteen minutes they’d spent there. Spencer knocks out against the cool window, movements lulling along with the car as they drive.
When it comes time to wake him up, they bring him into he room the sheriffs had given them, letting him lay down on the couch where he immediately curls up.
They regroup, form a plan and ultimately settle on letting the kid sweat it out on the couch until they’re in a place where they can stop and retire the hotel for the night.
They take shifts watching him, but he’s hardly conscious when they have him take sips of water and Gatorade— and to be completely honest, they’re really just keeping the nosy cops away.
It’s not until Emily’s watching him with a cup of coffee, waiting for Morgan to take over that she lets out a guilty sigh, sinking into her chair.
“What’s with the long face?” Morgan asks, walking through the door.
“I feel like it’s my fault,” She blurts, watching as breaths quietly, lying uncharacteristically still on the couch, “I put so much stress on him for three months, and then I just came back and expected him to be fine. Morgan, he doesn’t take enough care of himself when it’s not important, I can’t imagine him taking care of himself when he needs too.”
Morgan shrugs, unable to dispute, “I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that you didn’t play a role in this, but it’s not like you gave him the flu. The best thing we can do is help him ride this out— and besides, he’s still young, he’ll bounce right back.”
It’s during the time that they’re all gathered together that he wakes up, rolling over with a groan. The sleep he’d gotten throughout the day— and well after the day had transitioned into the type of late that became early— had done worlds of good for him. He’s got some colour back and while he still has a fever, it’s not raging like it had been and he can breath without choking on his own congestion.
JJ watches as his eyes blink open to face the ceiling, and immediately move to look out the window behind him. He startles, seeing the ombre of the dark turning to light and he looks at them for help.
“How long have I been out?” He starts pushing himself up, but Rossi’s hands are faster, easing him back down, which only serves to stress him out more.
“A while,” Hotch responds, softly, speaking the way he would to a groggy Jack, “But you needed it after what we saw this morning. You’ve barely moved since you fell asleep earlier.”
He brings his watch into his like of sight and runs a hand over his face, “You let me sleep for thirteen hours? Hotch, I’m no help if I’m asleep-“
“Fifteen hours,” Morgan speaks up, correcting him with a cool ease, and Spencer’s attention snaps to him with narrowed eyes, though they soften as he goes on, “Kid. You passed out on Hotch this morning. I know that you want to help, but you physically can’t help us when you’re never fully awake anyways. We need that brain of yours healthy, and if laying on a lumpy couch in a precinct is the only way to get there, then so be it.”
Reid sighs, pushing himself again glaring at Rossi when he brings his hands back, “Rossi, I have to pee. Am I allowed to do that?”
“Right,” Rossi murmurs, more abashed than he’d care to admit. Once Reid is out of earshot, he sighs, continuing, “The kid has a point, we are kind of babying him.”
“Yeah, well,” JJ sighs, “If he’s going to neglect his health, were going to keep treating him like he can’t take care of himself.”
“JJ,” Emily sighs, “That’s not fair and you know it. If any of us were in his position we wouldn’t say anything, you can’t even deny it. It’s not fair for us to treat him like he’s impotent.”
“Okay,” Hotch breaks up the argument at once, “Let’s see how he acts, and then we’ll decide how to approach this? We do need him, I don’t think we’ll be able to get through this case without him.”
Much to— honestly, everyone’s surprise, Reid listens to them. They go back to the hotel, and when he wakes up Morgan is almost convinced that Reid is back to normal.
It’s made clear though, as soon as he looks at the evidence that his brain is still a bit hazy. He’s still running a bit warm, but he’s no where near where he was when he collapsed and for that, everyone is thankful.
He agrees to sit when he runs through information, and takes breaks when he feels his flu coming back.
That is, until he realises that the series of letters are a code. He can’t stop himself from pulling apart and reorganising the letters, taking different parts of the handwritings and pulling a profile together.
Hotch and Morgan are with him when it happens this time. His mouth is moving with silent letters when he abruptly stops, sitting upright with one of those looks that Hotch knows a little two well for comfort.
“Are you gonna—“ Morgan starts, clearly recognising the look as well, but Hotch is the one who swiftly slides a trash can next to Reid right as he keels over with the heaves that wrack his body and leave the trashcan utterly unusable.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, wiping his mouth with a tissue, pulling back from the fowl smelling bin. “I didn’t think...”
“It’s okay,” Hotch hushes him, “But you need to lie down for a little, maybe get some sleep.”
He expects Reid to fight him, to tell him that he’s fine, but instead the kid just nods, letting Hotch lead him back to the lumpy couch.
“Hey, Morgan?” He mumbles, pressing his face into the cushion, “Can you open a window?”
“Sure, Pretty Boy,” he replies, though he’s almost certain the kid’s already out, “anything you need.”
“Thanks,” he breathes, and just like that, they’re back to ground zero.
That is until Reid wakes up less than two full hours later. Emily and Morgan are eating takeout from a white box on the table, when he starts speaking, “That’s smells disgusting. Can I have some?”
His comment earns a surprised laugh from both of them, watching as he rises to his feet, wrapping his arms around himself as he inches closer.
JJ extends an egg roll out to him, and he takes it with a soft word of thanks.
“How you feeling, champ?” Emily asks, grinning when the nickname earns a glare from him.
“Better,” he sighs, rolling his eyes when JJ gives him a look, “Honestly, I’m better. I feel like need a shower, but I’m fine.”
He leans over the papers that seemingly haven’t been touched since he’d fallen asleep. He nibbles on his egg roll, taking the papers to the board, as he starts writing once again.
“You gonna faint on us again?” Morgan’s voice enters the room.
Reid turns around, marker never leaving the board to send a glare at him. “If I do, I’ll make sure I knock you over too.”
“Kid, you’re like a chihuahua.”
Shaking his head, Reid turns back to the board, muttering under his breath, “Careful, I might bite.”
It’s once they’ve made the bust, and returned to the airstrip that Morgan pulls Reid up from the chess board without hesitation.
“Hey!” Reid calls, “I’m fine!”
“I’m fine,” Morgan mocks, redirecting him to the couch where he promptly throws a pillow and blanket at him, “Sleep. Now.”
Reid glares at him, refusing to move and Morgan sighs, sitting across from him, “Morgan it’s been three days. That’s a more than adequate amount of time for someone my age to get over the flu.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Morgan sighs, looking Reid in the eyes, “You close your eyes for me, take ten deep breaths, and if you’re awake by the end I’ll leave you alone.”
The hesitance that remains in his eyes tell Morgan more than enough. Emily comes to his aid, rising to her feet as she wraps the blanket around Reid and forces a pillow under his head.
“Ten deep breaths, Reid. That’s less than five minutes, you have to stay awake for less than five minutes and we’ll leave you alone, huh?” Emily whispers, not far off from a sussurus type of noise.
The fact that he allows her to comb her fingers through her hair as without any dispute speaks volumes.
“Seven,” he argues.
“Ten,” Morgan affirms, glare not once wavering. “Double or nothing, if you get to twelve we’ll never bother you about it again.”
“Ten?” Reid asks, finally giving in.
“Ten. That’s it, kid.”
“Fine.” He sighs, licking his lips and closing his eyes.
“One,” Morgan counts as Reid takes in a deep breath, exhaling slowly.
“Two,” JJ says, as he repeats the cycle.
“Three,” Emily grins, before letting out a snort.
“The kid that never sleeps, ” Rossi calls out, voice light and bordering on teasing, “in checkmate before three, huh.”
“Sleep tight, kiddo.” Prentiss sighs, moving to pull away— but when Reid groans, nuzzling against her palm she sighs.
Hotch, to his credit, lets out a quiet chuckle that startles them all, “Don’t be shy, give him platonic physical affection.”
They all stare at him with slacked jaws, “Did you just show emotion?”
“Yeah,” he clarifies, “and I’ll never do it again. Revel in it.”