Spencer sat on the floor of the police station, the small conference room that had been set aside for their use almost empty except for Morgan standing in front of the white board and JJ working quietly at the table. The tiles beneath his legs were marginally cooler than the air and he wished he could press his entire body down against them. It was 110 degrees outside, or 43.33 degrees Celsius, which Spencer preferred just because it made it sound marginally cooler. He'd grown up in Las Vegas, the heat wasn't anything new to him, but the difference between Vegas and the near coastal region of South Carolina was the humidity. It was the first thing off the jet he'd noticed, his hair slowly curling up and tangling and his skin immediately soaking itself.
Being in the police station wasn't actually that much difference than being outside, even with the air conditioner turned all the way up and the fans scattered around the rooms that weren't doing much more than moving around the hot air. The lights in their makeshift office were off, the blinds drawn, which left just enough light to work by. At this point, Spencer didn't know where the rest of the team was, though he's sure Hotch had said something before they'd left, and he didn't really care. Surely their unsub was smart enough to take the day off, wait until it was cool enough to actually move and think before he tried to take another person. It's what Spencer would do, if he were to go around kidnapping and murdering people.
He touched the cuffs of his damp shirt, the buttons open and pulled back as far as he dared, and the collar was unbuttoned far more than he'd allow under other circumstances. He'd feel even more uncomfortable if JJ hadn't shrugged out of her blouse and was only in a light top with straps that barely stayed on her shoulders and Morgan was down to a thin t-shirt. Even Hotch had lost his jacket and tie shortly after they'd gotten off the jet, and when they were not in sight of any one but the rest of the team his button up shirt had come off pretty quickly as well. Spencer had sacrificed his vest almost immediately, but his long pants and his button up shirt over the cotton shirt he was wearing underneath were still causing him to absolutely swelter. He mopped his face again and dropped his head down to the case file in front of him that he'd been trying to go over again. When a drop of sweat fell down onto the page in front of him, he pushed the file away completely. He already knew the contents with his eyes closed.
The rest of the team entered the room sounding more exhausted than he'd heard in a while. Hotch moved to the board to stand next to Morgan even has he freed himself from his visibly dampened shirt while Rossi and Prentiss collapsed at the table. They talked among themselves, Rossi explaining that the houses they'd seen didn't seem suspicious at all with nothing to suggest that their unsub had ever been there except to dump the bodies.
When Spencer opened his eyes again he found Morgan crouched down next to him, holding out a bottle of water.
"You okay in there, kid? Heat not frying that brain of yours, is it?" Morgan asked as he pressed the bottle of water into Spencer's hands.
Spencer held the bottle, soaking in the cold through his hands. Noticing that even his palms felt stiff and overheated, Spencer decided that he was probably dehydrated, but holding the cold water felt so much better than drinking it would. "Fine," Spencer managed to say, though the way his head felt so heavy and his coordination off he had some concerns about that as well.
"You should drink that, you haven't been drinking enough here," Morgan said insistently.
Opening his eyes, which Spencer hadn't realized he'd let shut, he nodded and looked down at the water bottle. It seemed like a lot of effort to try and take off the cap, and even more effort to move the bottle to his mouth to get a drink.
"Why don't you take off that shirt. It looks pretty soaked through," Morgan continued, sounding more concerned. The back of his hand brushed against Spencer's neck as he reached for the buttons at the top of his shirt. "You're a little clammy."
Spencer still had enough presence of mind to pull away from Morgan's hands as soon as he realized what he intended to do. "I'm fine," he insisted, clinging to the water bottle as he pushed himself to his feet. He felt a little unsteady, more lightheaded then he'd been since he'd finished coming off of the Dilaudid, but he got himself out of the room and into the maze of the police station.
He stumbled into an empty hallway, the police station seemingly vacant even with the manhunt that was happening in the city, and located one of the utilitarian couches with plastic cushions. Realizing that his legs were more than a little shaky, Spencer sat and grimaced at the contact of his sweat damp clothes against his skin and the plastic seat. Wiping at his forehead for what felt like the dozenth time in the past hour, but was actually only the eighth, Spencer stared at the water bottle in his hands and at his sleeves.
Almost all of his long sleeve shirts were sweaters or button-up shirts that were made of fairly heavy fabric, it was just the way he preferred to dress. And in the FBI it wasn't even out of place to come to work in long clothes all year round, Hotch was a prime example of that, but right now Spencer wished that they were in Alaska or Montana, though he'd also take Vermont or even New York. Actually, he wished a lot of things, starting with being able to take off his shirt and ending in sinking into a huge clean body of cold water. The fact that both of those, as well as pretty much everything on his list that involved somehow getting cooled off, were about equally impossible didn't escape him.
The space on the couch dipped next to him. "Hotch called for a few hours break. There's nothing we can do right now and it's likely that the unsub is hunting at night clubs and downtown areas at night anyway," Morgan explained.
Spencer nodded, halfway thinking that they should keep trying while they had the advantage over the unsub, but if everyone else was feeling as disoriented as he currently was it was probably better that they weren't working. He stumbled as he got to his feet, grimacing when Morgan caught his arm to keep him from falling. After extricating himself and getting rebalanced, he accepted his bag from Morgan and they walked out into the parking lot. The heat was even worse in the parking lot and Spencer pulled out his sunglasses from his bag. They got in one of the SUV's that had loaned to them by the local police department, Spencer angling the air vent away from himself as he waited for the car to cool down enough for the air conditioning to kick in. When Morgan started to back out of the parking space, Spencer looked up, still a little dazed.
"What about everyone else?" he asked, running one of his fingers along the edge of the water bottle label.
"They're taking the other car. We're all meeting back here at sunset," Morgan said, taking a moment to glance at Spencer. "Drink that water, before this gets worse."
Spencer was about to ask what this was before his brain made a tumbling leap. "Heat exhaustion, though not yet heat stroke," he said as he reviewed his symptoms against the checklist he remembered reading from one of the first aid manuals he'd read in training.
"Exactly," Morgan said, "which is why you should drink the water."
Sipping carefully at the water, his stomach more than a little unsettled which he recalled was also a symptom of heat exhaustion, Spencer sighed as he turned the cooler air from the vents onto him. He should have realized this was happening before now and gone to the bathroom to try and cool off but he'd been so caught up in making sure his shirt stayed on without his behavior appearing too peculiar. He figured that not noticing being so overheated probably counted as noticeably peculiar behavior.
Morgan pulled into a parking space, thankfully close to the entrance of the hotel, and they gathered their belongings before going inside. The contrast of going from the extreme heat of outside to the chill of the hotel was staggering, and as grateful as he was that the hotel's air conditioner was working much better than the police department's, it made Spencer feel a little more nauseous than he already was. He checked the paper and discovered that his room was on the first floor; JJ had already checked them in and handed them their cards in the morning. Finding his room was easy enough and the keycard worked without any fuss. He went in and turned to lock the door and nearly bumped into Morgan.
"JJ didn't say we were sharing rooms?" Spencer asked with a frown as Morgan brushed past him.
"We're not," Morgan said as he dropped his bag on the table. "But I'm not leaving until you're a little more coherent. The last thing we need to be doing is going to the ER with heat stroke and not just because Strauss would have a fit when she heard."
Spencer let the door swing shut and stalked into the room, dropping his bag and his half empty water bottle onto the bed. He waited a moment, almost wanting to ignore Morgan's presence entirely and take a cold shower if he felt he could stand up long enough for that, but sat down on the edge of the bed and wondered how he could still be so hot even in the cooler air of the hotel room.
"That's what I thought," Morgan said. "Come on, shirt off."
"What?" Spencer asked, wondering if the heat actually had done something to his mind. He knew that wasn't really possible, unless he did have heat stroke and was experiencing a bizarre form of organ failure, but it seemed to make almost as much sense as sitting in a hotel room with Derek Morgan telling him to take off his clothes.
Morgan reached forward and touched the side of Spencer's neck again. "Your heart rate is still elevated and you're breathing heavily. You need to cool off or you're going to get worse."
"Morgan. Derek, I can't," Spencer said, pulling himself further back on the bed to get away from his touch.
Morgan sat on the edge of the bed and gave Spencer an assessing stare. "What is it that you don't want us to see?"
Spencer licked his lips, aware that it was a nervous habit that probably gave him away instantly to anyone who cared to look, and fumbled for the water bottle when he realized how dry his mouth was. He took a few sips and kept his eyes focused on the label that he'd already examined in far more detail than it warranted. "I didn't realize that the marks would be so apparent. It's been months and they're still..." Spencer trailed off, his hand moving to rest over his shirt where he knew the marks were hidden. He listened as Morgan carefully exhaled and moved off the bed. If there was anything he could say to get Morgan to leave, that was probably toward the top of the list.
"Give me your shirt, Spencer. I won't look, if that makes you feel better," Derek said. His voice was quiet even though the tone made it clear that he was absolutely serious.
Spencer sat stiffly, more than a little surprised that Morgan was still in the room. He looked up to find Morgan's back turned and his hand held out, waiting for Spencer's shirt. The heat made the blush that started in his chest and rush up to his face feel like it was burning as Spencer undid the buttons on his shirt and pulled it off, placing it in Morgan's hand before turning away so that he was facing the headboard instead of the rest of the room. The bare skin of his arms was coated in sweat and the track marks on his arms were a bright angry red in comparison to the rest of his pale skin. He knew that eventually they would fade to white scars that wouldn't be as readily visible but they would always be there, he'd always have the reminders of what he'd done to himself.
"Take off your other shirt too," Morgan called from the bathroom where the sound of the faucet running nearly covered his words.
Spencer twisted his head around, watching Morgan's silhouette lit from behind in the doorway of the bathroom, and pulled his short sleeved shirt over his head. He had to admit that it felt good to be out of the fabric that had been sticking to his skin. Cradling his arms against his chest, Spencer let his eyes fall shut and wondered how he got to be so tired so quickly. They hadn't been on the case long enough for exhaustion to really hit them yet, and they'd had a full four days in Quantico before they'd been called for this case. The feel of something heavy and cold landing in his lap shocked Spencer awake and he looked down to find the shirt he'd handed to Morgan completely wet.
"Put it on and then take off your pants," Morgan instructed.
Spencer pulled the shirt on, struggling to pull the damp fabric over his skin but relishing the cold that almost made him shiver. He glanced over and found that Morgan had already gone back into the bathroom, keeping his promise not to look at Spencer. The contrast of the wet fabric on his back and chest, which he could already feel heating up as it soaked the heat from his skin, and the fabric of his pants keeping his legs far too warm made the decision for him and Spencer pulled off his shoes and socks before shimmying out of his pants. He paused for a minute, the air against his legs a huge relief, before deciding that he could lay down. Morgan would probably go back to his own room and someone would call him when it was time to get back to work. Grateful that they hadn't turned any lights on, Spencer sprawled out on his stomach and pulled his arms up tight under his chest.
The bed dipped beside him and Spencer turned his head in time to see Morgan pressing hand towels that were damp with cold water against the back of his legs. It sent another chill through him but after the initial impact it felt good so Spencer just set his head back down on the pillow and sighed when a cold washcloth was pressed against the back of his neck.
"Thank you," Spencer mumbled, slowly realizing how much better he felt even as his eyes drifted shut.
Morgan brushed Spencer's hair to the side as he turned the washcloth over to soak off more of the heat. "Go to sleep, Spencer."
Spencer dozed, not really all the way asleep as he felt Morgan occasionally change the towels that covered him. When he opened his eyes all the way he found Morgan sleeping next to him, down to his boxers and one of his arms draped over his eyes. Spencer smiled a little, feeling much more like himself as his mind clicked into gear. It was almost homey, he thought as he glanced around the hotel room; Morgan had picked up Spencer's discarded clothes and folded them on the table next to his own and Morgan resting peacefully beside him like it was a perfectly natural thing to do. Hesitantly, he touched the back of his fingers to visible skin under Morgan's chin and was relieved to find it around the same temperature as his own.
He slid from the bed, gathering up the towels that had mostly dried during their nap and picking up his bag before going into the bathroom. He took a quick shower, mostly just rinsing himself off now that he didn't feel the need to submerge himself in cold water anymore. Drying himself quickly he changed into a pair of clean clothes, leaving the button up shirt over his t-shirt hanging open for the time being. He took one of the glasses from the bathroom sink and filled it with cold water, drinking three full glasses before he felt sated.
"Feeling better?" Morgan asked, sitting in one of the desk chairs already dressed with his laptop open.
"Yes, thank you. That appears to be a very effective treatment for hyperthermia," Spencer observed. He felt a little uncomfortable, though it wasn't as if Morgan hadn't seen him in worse situations and vice versa, but he always felt a little awkward after one of his team did something that was an obvious care-taking behavior.
"Hotch is having dinner delivered back at the station so we can do a run down on the profile before we present and go out to check some of the spots the unsub might be hunting at," Morgan said as he shut his laptop and reached for his shoes.
Spencer located his own shoes by the table and sat down to put them on. Now that he could think clearly again his mind was back to dissecting the case, details from the files coming to the surface and making connections that were obvious to him now. He needed to look at a map of the city as soon as they got back to the police department because he had an idea that he was pretty sure could cut the areas they needed to search in half.
The sun was in the process of setting, the sky streaked with colors and the drop in temperature just barely noticeable. Spencer could already feel the prickle of sweat forming along his neckline and grimaced as he put on his sunglasses. Once he was in the passenger seat of the SUV, Spencer started flipping through the files, using the dump sites to start an overlay on the map in his mind. Occupied as he was he didn't notice Morgan parking outside of a store instead of the police station until Morgan was getting out of the car.
When Morgan just made an impatient hand motion, Spencer closed the files and got out of the car. "What are we doing?" he asked, following Morgan into the store.
"If you're going to be wearing long sleeves in this heat wave, this isn't going to work," Derek said as he reached out to tug at the shirt that Spencer had buttoned up before leaving the hotel room.
Spencer followed Morgan over to a wall in the store, observing that it was some kind of waterfront store combined with a hint of new age and Earth friendly.
Morgan looked through the racks of clothes and pulled out a long sleeved shirt that was similar to the one Spencer was already wearing. "It's a wicking shirt, it will help keep you cool and dry," he said as he held it up to Spencer to make sure it would fit.
Spencer felt the fabric as they walked up to the cash register, noticing how it felt softer and much less coarse. He paid and they left, Spencer sitting with his new shirt in his lap as Morgan drove.
When they reached the police station, Spencer ducked into the bathroom and changed, noticing the different immediately. He stood in front of the mirror for a brief moment and checked to see how far the sleeves pulled up when he moved his arms around. He'd have to be careful when writing on the boards but other than that they stayed down pretty well. He folded the shirts he'd been wearing and put them back in his bag, trying to ignore the sick feeling in his stomach that had nothing to do with starting to get overheated or dehydrated and everything to do with still having to hide and keep secrets even after he'd stopped using.
"Better?" Morgan asked when Spencer came out of the bathroom.
They started walking through the building to where the rest of the team was set up. Spencer knew that Morgan was talking about the shirt but he wasn't sure how to answer that question. Better would be if he could take off his long sleeved shirt and have his only concern be how bony and pale his arms were in comparison to the rest of the team.
"Very functional," Spencer answered just before they joined the team, not giving Morgan a chance to call him out on his non-answer.