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It's Okay to Ask For Help
Rating: T
Pairing(s): Hotch/Reid friendship
Warnings: Spoilers: Elephant's Memory, Bully.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em - not making any money off 'em. Dern it.
Summary: Hotch approaches Reid on the plane on the way home. Tag to 9x11 Bully.
Word Count: 974
Notes: For the H/C Bingo at LJ. Prompt Bullying (Wild Card)
Like many people, I was angry that Reid had nothing to say. The whole Riley in girl panties thing should have elicited some sort of reaction. After all, Reid was stripped naked. As soon as I saw what happened to Riley, I drew a parallel between the two incidents. At the very least, I thought Hotch should check on Reid, especially since he was the one who gave the telling off in Elephant's Memory.



Reid stared out of the window as his mind thought about the case they closed. Like the Owen Savage case that took place so long ago, this one also hit a nerve within him.

Unlike last time, he was able to keep his emotions in check. He allowed Alex to take the lead while he stayed in the background. It was for the best. Reid wasn't sure he would have been able to stay in control if he was in the forefront.

He looked away from the window when Hotch took a seat across from him. "What is it?" Reid asked monotonously.

"Are you okay?" Hotch asked, eyes focused intently on him.

Reid knew Hotch was probably also thinking about the Owen Savage case, and he didn't blame his superior's worry.

Even so, Reid couldn't help the bitter tone when he said, "I didn't do anything out of line."

"I know," Hotch said evenly. "I appreciate that, but I still want to make sure you're okay. I know how hard cases like this are for you."

Reid looked down at his hands. He felt an old familiar craving, something he hadn't felt since Maeve first died, and he internally fought it like he was used to doing. "Owen was still so young, and I remember that fear and anger. Ronald felt the same thing, and I feel bad for him, but he isn't the one I'm thinking about.

"You were thinking about Riley."

It wasn't a question, but Reid found himself nodding anyways. He remembered the feelings he experienced that day in high school. That day on the football field. The fear. The embarrassment. Wishing someone would come and save him. Someone to stop the laughter and taunts. Wishing someone would put him out of his own misery.

Reid closed his eyes. He never considered himself suicidal, but that day was the closest he ever came to it. The thing that probably stopped him from following Riley's example was the idea of his mom being alone. He knew he couldn't leave her, and that's what made him stick it out.

He knew he told Morgan, but Hotch was his superior. Would Hotch understand? He couldn't see the man being bullied as a kid, but he didn't see Morgan as the type to be bullied either, and he was proved false that day by Morgan's own admittance.

"Reid..."

Reid looked around the plane. Alex and JJ were sleeping, Rossi was reading. Morgan was listening to music, but his eyes were on the two of them. He probably remembered Reid's story and drew the parallels. Actually, Reid was surprised that Morgan hadn't been the one to come over.

"In a lot of ways, this case was harder for me. Owen Savage happened during a rough time in my life, but this case..." He trailed off.

"Spencer, you can talk to me."

Reid looked up when he heard his first name out of Hotch's mouth. That only happened when Hotch was truly worried about him because it forced the professionalism to drop. "Morgan is the only one knows this. I was 12 during my last year of high school and I was lured to the football field by a pretty girl I had a crush on. I was stripped naked and taped to the football goal posts. The whole school must have been there to see my humiliation and not one person helped me."

"Like Riley and the girl underwear."

Reid nodded, and he looked down at his shaking hands.

He heard Hotch get up, and he thought the man was leaving. He should have known better. The man sat down next to him and placed a hand gently on Reid's hands, stilling them. "I can't go into the past and change it, although I wish I could. You didn't deserve it, and it amazes me that you turned out like you did with everything that happened to you."

Reid looked out of the window, unable to meet Hotch's sympathetic eyes. "I sometimes wonder how it is I didn't become an unsub. So many unsubs blame traumatic childhoods for their actions." He turned to face Hotch.

"You can say the same thing about Morgan. If people are strong enough, and they truly want to, they can get pass their childhood traumas and do some good. And I'm glad you and Morgan are two of the people who were able to move pass it."

"Have I really moved pass it, though? Considering what I'm feeling right now..."

"Stop!" Hotch said firmly. "Just because a case triggered some bad memories, it doesn't mean you haven't moved on. We all have those kinds of cases once in a while. Next time, don't be afraid to ask to sit out a case."

"I didn't want you to think I couldn't do my job."

Hotch shook his head. "If I didn't think that after Hankel, I wasn't going to think that now. You are not alone. You don't have to deal with your emotions alone."

Reid raised his eyebrows disbelievingly.

"I know, I know. I should follow my own advice. Do as I say, not as a do."

"I was surprised you beat Morgan here," Reid mused.

Hotch smiled. "Well, I might have told Morgan to stay put."

"And he listened?" Reid asked disbelievingly.

"With some grumbling."

Reid laughed, and it was nice knowing that despite everything, he still could.

"Get some rest," Hotch said and stood up.

Reid watched him walk away. When he passed Morgan, his hand clapped Morgan on the shoulder.

Morgan eyed him wearily. "You okay?" he mouthed. He was already moving to stand up.

Reid nodded and waved his hand, silently telling Morgan to stay seated. He closed his eyes. He finally allowed sleep to claim him as his haunted memories were swept away by other dreams.

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