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He goes with trust

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First time Reid meets Morgan he is a bit intimidated by the man's puns and his cocky smile. He knows this type, and no matter what Gideon says he prefers to be cautious. Just in case. He's used to being made fun of and to not being taken seriously. But Morgan makes it go away in a terrifyingly short time. When Reid spontaneously bursts into statistics, or makes geographic profile on a scratch of paper, or quotes files and books he read long time ago, Morgan looks at him with a mild admiration instead of a usual annoyance. It's nothing special, Reid has been doing it for as long as he can remember (and he can remember a lot), but that's like the third time in his life when someone actually full heartedly admires his abilities without feeling intimidated and thus in a need to fight back. Morgan is nothing close to what Reid initially thought he would be.

Morgan is easy going, kind and witty, he's great with kids, great with animals, great with women… he is just generally great. He makes Reid feel relaxed and safe and at home. But he changes when there is a dangerous situation. When someone - anyone - is in a prime danger, Morgan becomes snappy and even aggressive. He insists on being assigned to the most dangerous part of investigation, he is the first in knocking doors and putting himself on the line of fire, he even ignores orders sometimes. It's like Morgan doesn't quite trust them to protect themselves so he prefers to keep it under control by taking the heat himself. And oh how angry he is when someone gets hurt anyway.

Reid is best friends with JJ, and Gideon is like a father to him while Hotch is like an older brother both of whom he has never really had. And Garcia… well, Garcia is a fellow nerd, sweet and utterly brilliant. But with Morgan it's something different, special even. They get each other on a level that is almost disturbing. They shouldn't have this level of understanding, different people that they are. And Reid knows that he gets what he gets because of what his childhood was like. But nothing he knows about Morgan indicates he has had similar experience. And yet somehow Reid knows that Morgan is also damaged. Also hurt. Also lost in some way. Reid knows that despite his solid appearance Morgan is fragile. His overprotectiveness, his anger, his frustration when situation goes out of control - Reid is familiar with them far too good. He wonders who was it exactly that Morgan lost. You don't ask questions like that - Reid knows as much, so he keeps quiet.

On the train case Morgan almost loses it when Reid proposes to go and trick unsub himself. He has neither power nor moral authority to say this, it's not his call, but nevertheless Morgan explodes with "I forbid you" and "You are not going there, Reid" without a shadow of hesitation. If it was anyone else, Reid would've taken that as questioning his abilities to do his job. He wouldn't have stood it. But that's Morgan, and Reid can see just how much does he care and how much he can't stand putting anyone in danger, so he answers calm and gently. He reassures Morgan with all he has that it's the only way, and that he will be fine. He doesn't even object when Morgan puts a vest on him while repeating things Reid already knows very well. If it helps Morgan to deal with stress, it's ok, - thinks Reid. And then he goes to the train and kind of betrays Morgan by not keeping his promises. It's not like Reid has a choice if he wants to save the hostages, but still…
Afterwords Morgan doesn't even talk to him until the next day. He doesn't even come close. He is so angry and tense Reid can feel it from a distance. And he also feels that Morgan tries very hard not to snap on him, not to be completely out of line with a colleague who did successfully close the case after all. Reid gives him his space and time to calm down. That's just another proof of how badly Morgan deals with even a potential loss.

Reid doesn't initially think it's about him. Morgan is overprotective with almost everyone: from victims to all mighty Hotch. But the more they know each other, the more he realizes it is about him after all. Morgan is just different with him in his reactions: more intense, more honest, more easy to burst. Maybe it's because Reid's the youngest. Maybe it's because he looks fragile and awkward. Maybe Morgan also feels that deep inside they are alike.

Reid trusts him - intuitively at first and then, after the nightmares talk, he trusts him consciously. He trusts him because Morgan really cares about him and even if sometimes it means trouble - that's just Morgan. He needs to know he's done everything. Reid gets it. He also trusts him because he wants to gain Morgan's trust and it's a two ways road. It would take time but he hopes that someday they'll be close enough for him to be able to help with the damage.

He certainly doesn't expect the rape story, though it completely makes sense. Now he knows who is it that Morgan lost. Morgan lost himself, he lost a feel of control over his life and he also lost faith. Reid tries to hate Carl Bufford for what he did, but he fails, he isn’t very good in hating. He is just so damn sorry that it happened. Especially that it happened to Morgan. Morgan who really is so great and thoughtful and caring but who doesn't let anyone come close enough to really get to know him. Reid saw Morgan in Chicago when they hunted unsub without knowing yet that it's Bufford. He saw him right after. Morgan certainly isn't over what happened. He is still ashamed. He probably didn't even visit a psychologist. He probably never told anyone. All these years he was angry and ashamed and afraid, and he was in it all alone while maintaining his happy-go-lucky macho facade. Reid knows how it feels, he knows a lot about wearing masks and being lonely, and he wants to help. He just doesn't know how, and Morgan doesn’t help by closing up immediately after their return to Quantiko.
Soon after that Tobias Hankel happens and there are tortures and drugs, mostly the drugs - long after Hankel is dead... when Spencer finally gets out of it, he isn't sure he didn't screw it all up. His job, his friends, his life… and whatever this is they have with Morgan. For as much as he knows, Morgan should have been furious and pretty crushed when he found out about the kidnapping. And JJ told him at some point, long after the case, that Morgan was indeed terrifying. And now he is totally fine with Jennifer but doesn't even talk to Spencer outside of work. Maybe he is just that angry. Maybe he thinks that Reid is disgusting with his drugs problem. Spencer would agree on that... but he realizes soon enough that’s not the case. Morgan wouldn’t judge him, he is better than that. So most likely it’s that Reid got too far in being hurt and Morgan simply can’t deal with it anymore.

It certainly doesn't help realizing that actually he was the one in fault of JJ being hunted by the dogs, and himself being kidnapped, and also of not going to the rehab right after he got free. He made everyone worry and, knowing how hard it is for Morgan to be in a situation like this when he can't do anything, Reid isn't much surprised that Morgan is distancing himself away. That's only fair. After all Spencer really does attract troubles on his head a lot, and he also isn't very good in dealing with them.

He still can't stay away. It takes a leap of faith to share his fears with Morgan the first time after the kidnapping, but after that he just can't stop. Each time Morgan is so ready to help, and more importantly he gets it all so well it's intoxicating. Maybe it's because Reid is also damaged and ashamed of himself, and now that Morgan surely knows it, he can't deny him help. Maybe he feels responsible. Maybe it's just how generally great Morgan is, still being there for him when he is requested, even though he detached himself from Reid in an everyday life. That's not healthy for either of them, Reid knows it. It would be better to let Morgan step away. He can't. So he pretends everything’s fine and tries not to impose himself on Morgan when he can help it. He misses him badly though.

As time goes on Morgan softens on him. Sometimes it's just like it was before the kidnapping. They have their moments: they talk, they joke, they cover each other's backs and argue about stupid things like who is cooler, Flash or Batman. Sometimes Reid catches Morgan staring at him with a soft smile and a strange dreamy look on his face. That never lasts though. Morgan rushes away the moment he realizes Reid noticed. Still, they do more or less fine and though Reid can't come closer he also doesn't feel being pushed further away.

After Gideon leaves the agency, Reid is almost lost. He has been there before with his own father, but he has never thought that Gideon would do that. He didn't even realize himself how much the man meant to him until it was too late. Luckily Gideon knew that long before Reid did. He still left. Reid goes over the note and their talks again and again trying to make sense of it, but all he can think about is that his happy little family illusion is over. Gideon is far gone, Hotch is dealing with his marriage issues, and Elle is lost to the team and doesn't even want to talk to any of them anymore. They still care about each other, maybe even more than before, and they have Emily now, and they still can count as a family. But the "happy" part is gone. Reid comes closer with JJ, and Garcia kind of gets him under her wing, and he suddenly finds a really good friend in Emily… but it's not the same. It won't ever be. Not with Gideon lost. Not with Hotch forgetting how to laugh. Not with Morgan so far away. Still, they go on catching bad guys and surviving shootings, reapers and nightmares. They even get closer with Morgan, keeping their bizarre connection alive and sharing moments of the past and thoughts of the present. Most part of the sharing is on Reid's side though. He always thought of himself as of a pretty closed person. Beside Morgan he is a shameless extrovert. But hey, it's still the best kind-of-friendship-but-not-quite relationship he has ever had.

The anthrax case gets them hard. The moment Reid realizes that room is contaminated, he knows he's gonna die. He is fast enough to close the door though, so Morgan is most probably out of danger, which is great, but then it hits him. It's not even that he doesn't want to die - of course he doesn't, and of cause he's angry and scared, but those first few seconds when he sees Morgan's shocked face all he can think about is: "Oh, God, not again". He almost feels how panic grows in Morgan's mind, and he certainly knows how badly Morgan would take being completely helpless and watching him die, and maybe even thinking that somehow it's his fault. He thinks: "I'm so sorry, Derek, I didn't want you to go through this, please be ok and not blame yourself for not coming here first. Sorry for not letting you step out after the last time. Sorry for not being able to let go. Sorry for putting you through this again".
He only says: "Sorry", - but he thinks that somehow Morgan got the sense of it because he doesn't ask any questions, he just stands there tense and rough.

Reid keeps himself busy with the case while he can, and after that he just tries to hold on in his denial of drugs despite the pain and troubled breathing. At some point he almost wishes to die already but he can't just leave them behind. Them - meaning his mother who's got literally no one else, and Derek, who shouldn't be on this list apart from the team, but who is still there nonetheless. When Reid wakes up on his way to recovery, Morgan is sitting near his bed, and that's so aright that Reid is only surprised by his own lack of surprise few hours later. They don't even talk about it. Reid isn't going to ruin the moment by scaring Morgan away with questions, and Morgan doesn't seem to want to go away. That doesn't last very long.

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After they leave the hospital behind, they are back to their odd on and off arrangement. It's even more notable now. Sometimes Morgan looks like he's about to tell something that will change the situation drastically, but each time he backs off and closes up. The range of their interactions now is much bigger than before. Only a month earlier they were on a stable friendly distance, and now they are close one day and almost strangers the next one.
Reid doesn't know what he's done wrong this time. The obvious version is: once again Morgan had to deal with a completely out of his control life-or-death situation because of him, which made him put his emotional shields up. But to Reid's surprise Morgan actually seems to be doing fine with that. He isn't angry and he doesn't look hurt or out of balance, he isn't even overprotective as he tends to be after such cases. He was for a while, but that period Reid spent in the hospital, it's long over now. So once again: Reid doesn't have a clue of what's wrong. He goes with the flow - this way it's less probable that he'll make it worse. Sometimes Reid thinks that maybe what Morgan tries to discuss is that "Sorry" moment with a glass door between them, when Reid completely gave out that he knows about Morgan's problems. Maybe he doesn't like that Reid knows, maybe he doesn't want to be seen weak like this. Maybe that's what's keeping him away. Maybe he's trying to decide if he is ready to trust Reid enough to admit that weakness… Reid doesn't force him, he just waits. And he loses. Whatever Morgan decided, he doesn't let Reid know. It hurts, but well… it's not like Reid has any right to blame him. And it's not like he has a lot of time to dwell on it either because somewhere between cases a tragedy happens. They lose Emily. When she dies in surgery, part of him dies with her. Emily was a close friend, he loved her dearly, he counted on her wisdom and support so many times… and now she's gone. And as if that's not enough, their team is being split up and reassigned, and for some time Reid's world figuratively stops spinning.

Emily is gone, Hotch is far far away, Garcia and Rossi are not that close either. And Morgan is completely out of here - Reid tried to talk with him, but Morgan doesn’t really hear him, he doesn’t even look at him, all he thinks about now is getting revenge for Emily. Reid can’t reach him and honestly he is too deep in his own grievance to keep fighting. So he gives up. All he really has right now is JJ, and he is grateful to her for letting him cry over her shoulder again and again. Loss of Emily, his migraines getting worse, Hotch and Morgan far away and his mother not recognising him half the time... it’s like his whole world is falling apart. He hardly keeps himself from taking drugs again. He remembers perfectly well how dilaudid took his pain away, and he is eager to get rid of the pain. But he feels responsible for the team and for all those who still count on them no matter what they are going through. There are still bad guys kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing people. They are not going to turn themselves in just because one of BAU teams have some inner issues. So he cries out his anger and his sorrow at Jennifer’s place, he spends time with Henry, he re-watches old episodes of Dr. Who and he stays away from drugs. And then Emily is back.

He wishes he could just be happy like Morgan and Garcia are. But despite how happy he is to have Emily back, he can’t stop feeling betrayed. He didn’t have JJ after all. She is his best friend, he is her son's godfather, but she was able to lie to him for ten weeks straight. She didn’t even see how bad it was. Reid can’t do it anymore. He can’t open up and assume that someone cares and then take a punch like that. That’s selfish of course, and maybe even childish, but he just can't. After the first splash of fury calms down, he is not even angry. He is just so very tired.

He thought they were friends with JJ. But to fulfil an order was more important to her than being a friend to him. He thought they were friends with Morgan. But Morgan prefers self-destruction to whatever they have, he forgot Reid completely in his sorrow and vengeance which would've been fine (after all, Reid never thought he's more important to him than Emily) if Morgan didn't also push him away and ignore his attempts to help like Reid was no one. Morgan is ready to help when he is able to, but after all these years he still doesn't trust Reid. That's as far as Reid can go on hope alone.

He doesn't want to count on someone again just to be let down in a moment of need. And he doesn't want to let anybody down himself. So he is playing happy-go-lucky, and it looks like the team falls for it. He isn't a bad magician after all. And he was alone almost all his life, so it's nothing new, it's nothing he can't handle, right? What he doesn't realize is that he isn't the same as before he got into BAU. He could handle being alone then, but back then he knew nothing else, and now he knows so much. He had Gideon and Hotch protecting him in their own ways. He had Morgan, and Elle, and JJ, and Emily to care about him and to let him care about them. He got used to having friends. And now suddenly he has no one. They are still friends, of course, they still care about each other, but it's different now. He's not counting on them anymore. And that's almost like he's all alone even on his own birthday party. Also it's harder now. He's thirty and he is not a boy wonder whose whole life is ahead of him. He has maybe five or six years left if schizophrenia hits him after all. He hasn't accomplished even a quarter of what he dreamt about ten years ago. He is basically just an FBI agent, not a bad one, but that's so much less that he hoped he would be. There's no one waiting for him at home. Aside from work there is no one waiting for him at all. Well, maybe Henry. But Henry is small enough to forget him if he doesn't show up few months in a row. That’s better than his own mother’s time.

All in all it's too much to handle on his own, and Reid feels he is slipping. He hasn't slept a full night in weeks. Most of the time it's not even nightmares that are keeping him up, he just can't fall asleep, too full of anxiety and frustration. He feels lost. He doesn't quite know who he is anymore apart from a human Google and a generic nerd.

He still checks on Morgan though. Maybe that's just a habit of his. He saw Morgan totally crushed by Emily's alleged death and he doesn't want to see him like that ever again. He makes sure not to impose his own issues on the man, and he also makes sure not to show he is worried when that's the case. He observes from the outside when Morgan handles the cases of his cousin and of a crazy sadistic pedophile. Fortunately Morgan seems to be doing just fine. Looks like he doesn't need anyone's help. Especially not Reid's. They stay away from each other and even though Reid misses their conversations and their fooling around, and just generally misses Morgan, it actually helps with his plan. Because if he can fool Morgan, he can fool anyone. Not Gideon, probably, but then again - Gideon is not here.

He can't fool himself either. One day he returns to their office after a hard Las Vegas case and he stays there after everyone else goes home. Just this morning he met his mother in the hospital. Doctor told him she was having a good day so he thought he shouldn't miss a chance to finally talk to her. They talked for an hour. She was peaceful and friendly. She kept telling him about her brilliant little boy Spencer who he would certainly like if he knew him... that is just too much. Reid thought he got used to it, but after that case and after being alone while still making the impression of being totally fine… that's just too much. He stays in the office because he is too tired to go home and because at least here he knows who he is even if it's just a job name. At least here he has some good memories hence he feels somewhat safe. He sits in an armchair and listens to silence filled with a noise of an air-conditioner and a buzz of electrical lamps in a hall. He falls asleep without even noticing it.

He's having that dream again. He is on a party and everyone is there, and he is happy and relaxed. That is until room goes dark and suddenly there is no one left. He is alone in the dark and just when he starts panicking, he sees Morgan with a flashlight. Morgan searches the room with a ray of light and Reid respires for a moment but then he realizes: Morgan can't see him. He stares right at him, but he doesn't see him. He turns around and goes away, and Reid wants to follow him, but his legs won't move. He calls Morgan and asks him to stop, but he doesn't seem to hear, he just walks further and further away until the light is just a bright spot in the darkness. He wakes up but he is still in the darkness and he still can't move, and its scares the hell out of him, so he fights first and thinks later. And then he realizes that something is not right, something is different. He is pressed to a firm warm something which seems to be a shoulder, and he feels someone patting his back, and then he hears a voice asking him to calm down. He knows this voice perfectly well. Reid doesn't know what's happening but somehow his nightmare ended with Morgan keeping him in his arms and telling that he's not going anywhere. That's far beyond awkward but it also feels so good that for few minutes Reid allows himself to just be there. And then he moves away and tries to talk them out of this situation without making it even more awkward that it already is. He hopes Morgan will get the hint and leave, and forget about it. At the same time he desperately wishes time to stop, because despite the embarrassment and bizarreness of the moment he actually feels better now than any day in the past few weeks. That's what Morgan does to him. He makes him feel safe without even trying. Reid would hate him for that power if he could, but since he can't hate Morgan at all, he just stops fighting it and enjoys while it lasts. What he doesn't expect is Morgan suddenly saying he failed him. What's that supposed to mean?
"I think you got it wrong", - Reid says. - "Or maybe I got something wrong. What are you talking about, Derek?"
Morgan answers: "You are in pain. I want to help", - and all those walls Reid spent so much time building around him start falling apart. He wants help. He needs help. He can't ask for it - both because he can't put it on Morgan and because he isn't sure he can handle someone failing his trust one more time right now. So he focuses on the safe part of what Morgan said.
"You don't have to do this, you know. I'll be fine by Monday. But that's not what I asked."
Or so he thinks until he hears the answer.
"I apologize for running from you. I'm nothing but a cowardly idiot and I don't deserve your trust. I was an awful friend to you but until someone better appears, please, Reid, talk at least to me. You are not fine. You haven't been fine since long time ago."
Reid knew it for many years now, he knew that Morgan can't handle what Reid is putting him through by being so reckless and by getting into trouble all the time… he knew it, but it still hurts to hear it from Morgan. Even if Morgan is sorry for that - it's not like either of them can change anything. It doesn't matter if Morgan wants to help. Reid doesn't have the right to let him do it. Because...
"You are running from me", - says Reid out loud not even realizing it until it's too late.
"Yeah… I mean, no! Crap… Reid, it's not from you, it's from…"
"…my issues. You don't need to say it. Really. I get it and it doesn't make you an awful friend. It's ok."
"It's not ok. I know that I deserve this, but if you think so, nothing is ok. God, Spencer… I'm sorry, you hear me? I don't run from you and I don't run from your issues or whatever. What I do run from are my own issues and my own fears. I run so fast I make mistakes on almost every step. Don't argue please, I was a crappy friend to you this last year. But I'm here right now. And I would very much like to help you in any way I can."
And that's totally unfair. Reid tried so hard to keep Morgan out of this, to keep him from harm. He doesn't even know if Morgan is able to help at all or if he goes into this for nothing. Reid did his best, but he can't win against this. He is too tired to fight alone, he is too tired in general, and it feels too good to be here and to really talk to Derek again. So he gives up and lets himself ask for a little help. Just a little - and then he would be able to keep going on his own again.
"Can I sleep over at your place?" - asks Reid. That sounds so pushy and intimate, that Reid immediately remembers how Morgan refused to sleep in the same room with him a year ago. - "You doesn't have to let me. It would make me feel better but if that's inconvenient, it's ok, and I mean it."
Morgan just says: "Of course you can", - and gets up. Reid gives him a shy smile and also climbs out of chair.
"Got it."
On the way to Morgan's car Reid can't stop thinking just how good it feels to have Morgan's shoulder to lean on, literally and figuratively speaking. It's like he can finally breath without an inhaler on his face. Intoxicating. He knows the feeling.

Chapter Text

They sit in Morgan's car and listen to silence, but that's not a comfortable silence they used to have between them. This silence is full of anxiety and worry, Reid can feel it. For some time he tries to ignore it, he tries to keep it to himself, but then again - he is so very tired to fight it alone, and Morgan is here making him feel safe and willing to help no matter how bad it can strike him back. So Reid gives up and just starts talking.
"I feel like I'm fading away. My mother didn't recognize me this week. That's the third time in a row. Statistically schizophrenia hits at the age of twenty five to forty. I'm thirty already. I don't know how much longer do I have. And besides my being an FBI agent I've done nothing in my life that does matter. Outside of our job, outside of what we do who am I, Morgan? If I go crazy, if I disappear, not even my own mother will notice."
He doesn't really expect an answer. Maybe he hopes Morgan will magically do or say something that will make his troubles go away, but that is stupid and unrealistic. Thus he doesn't expect any answer, but he gets one anyway. "I'll notice", - Morgan says in a tight and quiet voice, and that makes Reid feel bad. He didn't mean to call Morgan insensitive or indifferent. Of course he will notice, and be sad, they are friends after all. He starts explaining that, but Morgan doesn't seem to care, he just says once again, and this time his voice has power and conviction in it: "I will notice. You won't disappear. Whatever happens you will not disappear, Spencer. I won't let it".
Reid actually believes it for a moment, and that's the only reason he says what he says next.
"If I go crazy…"
"Even if you go crazy".
There you have it, all kinds of awkward again. No good exit from here, because really, no matter what they say, it's not like anyone can protect him from madness. He knows. He saw it in his own mother's eyes for far too many years. No one can protect from that. He needs to believe it because he needs to know he didn't fail his mother. All in all there is nothing to discuss, there are no answers and no promises anyone could keep. Not even Derek.
"Will you visit me in an asylum?" - he asks, trying to joke them out.
"Nope. I will live with you"
"Ahaha, that was funny", - says Reid, still trying to go with jokes, even if he doesn't really understand what's happening, and how can Morgan say such unrealistic things with such serious voice like he truly believes that. Well, for all Reid knows, Morgan does believe it. That's who he is. Overprotective and impetuous. He'll say and do anything to make his friends feel better. The thing is, Reid knows what it's like to live with a schizophrenic. You don't do it for friends. And you don't make a promise that you won't be able to fulfill. Not this kind of promise.
"Look, I really appreciate your support, but it's kind of too much."
"That's my house" - is all Morgan says before stopping the car and going to a front door. Reid sighs and gets outside. He can hear Clooney, and soon enough he can also see him, jumping excitedly onto Morgan, obviously happy to see his owner home. Reid doesn't really like dogs, but he feels a little jealous. Maybe he should get a cat. Emily has one. He can ask her how she arranged him being fed while she's gone… not "gone" gone. That time - he knows - Garcia took care of the poor thing until… no. No cats.
In the mean time Morgan is finally done with the whole "honey, I'm home" thing, and Reid can finally step into the house. He's never been here before. He can't concentrate on the interior though, because all his attention is drawn to the dog. Clooney doesn't seem to be violent, and Morgan is near to stop him if he would suddenly want to bite Reid or something, and also Spencer himself is a grown up man, so he can take care of himself… but then again. He and dogs. Not the best combination. Somehow it works this time and ten minutes later he finds himself sitting on a floor with Clooney on his legs, both happy and relaxed. Ten more minutes and he would probably fall asleep just like that, while he is warm and relaxed and succeeds in not thinking about Morgan's words from earlier. That's when Morgan returns with a cup of tea and silence falls onto them once again. This time Morgan breaks it first.
"I meant every word, you know. You won't disappear. You exist outside of work, Reid. You sure as hell do exist."
"You can't know it. You don't know me outside of work."
"Are you sure?"
Reid can feel that Morgan is hurt by his words, but he is sure. They've been distancing from each other for years now. They almost don't meet outside of work. They don't have much of that "outside" time anyway. And also, maybe he is angry at Morgan for preferring revenge and self-destruction over him, after all. For not trusting him all these years. For not letting him come closer. Just a little bit angry. Morgan is great, and they had always have that unbelievable level of understanding each other, but Morgan had pushed him away almost every time Reid tried to go further than friendly jokes. Like he was scared. Reasons are one thing, but the result is a whole different story... they don't know each other outside of work. Morgan never even wanted to know. Not after Tobias case. So maybe he deserves to be hurt just a little bit. Or maybe Reid wants him to stop being so kind and caring because he can't let himself get used to it again. That won't last anyway. But Morgan doesn't stop.

"Listen, Reid… Spencer… you know that I know a lot about you that has nothing to do with work. And I also know that's not what you mean. But you have to trust me on this, kid. I know you. Not a colleague, not a genius Dr. Reid, but you. If you leave the team I would miss you. I would miss you like crazy. Not your knowledge, not your ability to make a picture out of seemingly unrelated facts, though I would miss those too, and not the jokes and stories you tell. You. Like I missed you last couple of months."
"What do you mean?"
"Yeah, I missed you and I don't think I am the only one. You are here physically but it feels like you are thousands miles away."
"You never told…" - Reid is genuinely surprised. And a little less angry, because for some reason knowing that Morgan missed him while he was missing Morgan, and that Morgan noticed his happy-go-lucky play, makes him feel warm inside.
"Well, I tell it now", - says Morgan. And then he ruins it all. "I thought you needed some time to be alone, that it would be good for you. But looks like I screwed up again, didn't I?"
Reid hates this. He hates this patronizing tone. He thought for a moment that it was about him, but looks like he was wrong. It was about Morgan and his urge to be in control and to make sure everyone is ok, and the team is balanced and not about to fall apart. This is totally reasonable, but right now… maybe Reid doesn't want to be reasonable right now. He doesn't know exactly what he wants. Just not this. So maybe he is a little snappy when he answers.
"I don't need your pity. It doesn't affect my job so you don't have to try and fix me."
"Spencer, look at me."
It's not as easy as it sounds. Reid is angry at Morgan, and he is angry at himself for being angry at Morgan, and for being so unreasonable and emotional. He is not coping. He knew it earlier, and now he isn't the only one who knows, even if Derek would never turn that against him… he is also so tired of everything. Why can't he just close his eyes and make it go away? Instead he finally gets himself together and looks at Morgan. Just to see his world turn upside down with a few words he never expected to hear said in this voice.
"I love you", - says Morgan, and Reid knows the meaning and believes him right away. All those strange moments, all stares and dreamy looks Morgan gave him, all his mood switches, all awkward pauses, all pushing away, all the things Morgan told him today… all of it makes sense now. Much better one that just Morgan being afraid of getting hurt by loosing his close friend in a dangerous situation he couldn't control. He can see now, when it started. Sometime after narcotics. What he doesn't understand is why Morgan tried so hard to stay away. Is it such a bad thing to love him?
"And when exactly did you plan on telling me?" - he asks instead.
"Never. I wasn't going to tell you at all."
"Why? No, that's not it… why now?"
"Really, that's your question?"
Reid waits, because yes, this is exactly the question. He needs to understand what changed. Maybe then he can understand, why Morgan fought it in the first place. So he waits until he hears an answer.
"Because it looks like you are doing even worse by yourself than I thought you would do with me telling you. Because I can't watch you killing yourself and do nothing ‘cause of my fear of consequences. I don't wait for you to return my feelings, that has nothing to do with it, please try to understand this. It's just that if you disappear I will notice. It's selfish but I need you in my life, Spencer. No matter what."
That is almost too overwhelming to bare. And that is also disturbing. Why would Morgan think it would be bad for Reid to know? What consequences could he fear that much? He certainly knows that Reid wouldn't avoid him and get angry even if he wouldn't return the feelings. And Reid honestly doesn't know if he would. He is a mess right now, but it felt good to hear these words, and Morgan was always special to him. He never thought of it as love, but what does he know about love, really? All he knows for sure this very moment is that Morgan wants him in his life, he needs him there, and that means that Reid truly won't disappear. He isn't just a nerd or just an FBI agent who can read very fast and memorise yellow pages. He is not alone. He probably doesn't deserve this, but he is not alone.
"And I did miss you, you have no idea…" - adds Morgan a little desperately, and Reid looks at him, finally realizing how worried Morgan probably feels, not having his reaction.
"I think I know what you mean, actually. But I don't know what else to say. Sorry."
"Don't you apologize", - says Morgan, - "Now, do you trust what I said earlier?"
"Yeah, it makes sense now. Lots of things do. Except why do you need it at all. I'm a big mess, Derek. You were absolutely right to avoid me."
"I was an idiot and now you are trying to be one. Stop that."
"But it's true! You've chosen the worst possible person to fall in love with! A person who is a drug addict and a potential schizophrenic with a lot of unrelated psych issues, regular nightmares, high level of social awkwardness and some really strange hobbies. I’ve got nothing to offer."
"You don't have to offer anything", - says Morgan, and repeats again like he has nothing to lose, - "I love you. That is with all of your issues and hobbies. It's how it works, ok? You don't have to do a thing, just know that if you need something - anything! - I'm always here for you. Now that you know I won't hide anymore. I won't leave you alone. Unless you would want me to... How are you?"
Reid thinks about it for a while. He listens to himself, but he is still a mess, though a somewhat happy mess. There are far too many thoughts in his head right now to get something coherent out of it. So he gives up and says it as it is.
"I honestly don't know. Is it ok if I answer this question tomorrow?"
Morgan nods and goes away, and returns with a pillow and blankets, and a towel.
"Bathroom is near the kitchen. If you wake up first don't hesitate and make yourself at home. Oh, and Clooney sometimes goes outside at night, don't let him worry you."
Reid thinks he should get to a shower, but he isn't really capable of moving to such long distances right now. So he just nods and looks at Morgan. Who kind of saved him today. He wonders if he'll have that dream again tonight… but he isn't scared anymore, because Morgan came for him today, even if it was a coincidence, and he promised not to leave. And Reid trusts him.
"I'll be in a room next to you, wake me up if you need anything."
"Derek… thank you."
"Good night, Spencer."
"Good night."
He is sure he won't be able to sleep for hours, but he falls asleep the minute his head meets a pillow.

Chapter Text

He wakes up because of barking and instantly remembers, where he is, so unfamiliar place doesn't surprise him. What does surprise him though is the time his watch is showing. Which is ten minutes before noon, meaning he slept for almost twelve hours straight and that is a record on its own, not to mention his latest sleep problems.
"Good morning?" - asks Morgan as if unsure of the ability of this exact morning to be good, but still smiling nonetheless.
"Morning. What exactly did you put into my tea?"
"Nothing Garcia wouldn't approve"
"Somehow that doesn't sound reassuring. But if your tea always has this effect you must tell me the secret. I don't remember the last time I slept longer then five hours in a row."
"I'm glad it did you good, pretty boy", - laughs Morgan. Reid is actually delighted by their conversation which is something he missed last year or so. Morgan didn't use pet names on him for a long time, and it is kind of strange he selected this one, but Reid is not the one to over think it. He knows it's just a name, something to tease and joke around, and he wasn't offended by this particular joke not even once, so he is surprised Morgan is startled by his own words. Well, maybe saying someone you love him changes the way you joke around him. Reid wouldn't want that to change. It feels strange though, to think of a mere teasing pet name as of something actually meant to be a compliment. Maybe he'll think about it later.
"Can I use your shower?"
"Sure. And I'll find something to eat. Do you still have spare cloth with you?"
Reid luckily does have it, so he departs to bathroom and uses that time alone to try to figure out what's happening outside and inside his head. This time yesterday he was lonely and miserable, and exhausted of trying to look fine. And now he is in Morgan's house where he was never invited to before. Where no one was invited to before, not even Garcia, as far as Reid knows, because Morgan is really that private. But now Reid is here. Morgan let him in, and he also said he loves him. It suddenly strikes Spencer in its fullest: Derek loves him. Derek was afraid of it, and he tried to stay away, but he couldn't, and he cares enough for his feelings to Reid to outweigh his fears. That's a lot. Reid realizes that it's a completely new territory for him. It's not like any other time he was involved in a love relationship. He trusts Morgan to a level that should scare him (but it doesn't, because… well, because he trusts Morgan, and yes, he realizes it is a Moebius Ribbon and thus not a good judgement), so he is not afraid to do or say something that would make him rejected. But he is afraid to hurt Morgan. He knows enough to understand that letting anyone come close to him is hard for the man. He saw more than once how Morgan overcompensates for those years Bufford took advantage of him. He also remembers perfectly well how his friend reacts when he feels trapped. So Reid doesn't want to push too hard or too weak now that he finally has a chance to earn Derek's trust, and he doesn't want to ruin what they have. Even if he isn't sure what is it exactly.

“Fridge is empty”, - says Morgan when Reid enters kitchen and takes a sit. - “It's a miracle I still have milk left. I'd say that usually I'm a better host, but usually I don't have guests over breakfast so can't really compare.”
Empty fridge is something to be expected - they spend too much time on the job to worry about food in their own homes. Morgan has no reason to feel uncomfortable about it, so Reid concludes he must feel uncomfortable about something else. Something like the fact they both don’t really know how to interact in this new context of Morgan loving Reid, and Reid knowing about it but not knowing (and thus not letting Morgan know) anything else, and... sometimes Reid is fully aware that he tends to think too much. He stops and makes himself cereal.
While his brain does the thinking, his lips do their thing: they talk with support of a part of Reid’s mind that is by now automatic. He goes into statistics. Of course he goes into statistic! Beats magic tricks given the circumstances.
“Well, actually it is a normal breakfast. Forty nine percent of Americans start their day with cereal. It’s sold more often then cigarettes though milk is sold even more often. Also most of the cereal is unhealthy though if you choose whole ones you can actually reduce risk of diabetes and heart decease.”
“I'm afraid these are unhealthy ones.”
“For us it doesn't matter anyway. Cereal can't make it worse with the amount of coffee we drink. Speaking of coffee…”
“No coffee in my house. Tea?” - asks Morgan who acts like it’s totally fine to burst into Wikipedia mode every now and then. Reid smiles to that, relaxes and answers on normal speed.
“Yes, please. Will it make me sleepy again?”
“Not this one. You do know about Hibiscus tea, right?”
Oh no, not again. He just cannot stop, can he?
“It's a national drink in Egypt, Sudan, countries of Latin America and few other places. It's red, it is made of Hibiscus sabdariffa flower, contains lots of vitamins and minerals, proved to reduce systolic blood pressure and to strengthen the immune system in general. And it's not really a tea which is a common misconception, it's a herbal drink made out of...”
He stops because he hear Morgan’s chuckling, and also because he is out of air. Very convenient. Maybe he should have gone with magic tricks after all.
“Yes, I do know about it. Sorry for talking so much.”
“Hmm? You never apologized for that before”, - says Morgan while setting a kettle.
“I was never at your place before”. - answers Reid honestly. - “And this makes me nervous.”
“Is it because of the place or because of what I said yesterday? I won't take it back but if it makes you uncomfortable…”
“That's not it.” - Reid stops him before Morgan has a chance to think of something bad, like Reid wishing he never said what he said, which would be completely untrue and also potentially hurtful for Morgan. “I mean, that matters too, but ‘uncomfortable’ is the wrong word. ‘Unusual’ would be a better choice. It's because you let me in. Into your house, into your life, you know… and I don't want to be a hippopotamus.”
“Excuse me?” - Morgan looks confused, of course he looks confused, why did Reid even think of that animal? He could have thought of some superhero metaphor and get less confusion in return.
“A hippopotamus in an antique store, just imagine that. And also I don't have any experience in this… thing. No one ever told me that…” - Reid stops and searches for words which would be truthful and straightforward, and that is not easy. “No one ever said he is in love with me. Not really. I don't know how to react, what are right and wrong things to do and ask, and how do I not hurt you… I don't even know myself yet what I feel. Because I care for you, Derek, I care for you a lot and you know it, but… I'm not used to having you around again. And I'm afraid that I'm confusing a joy of having you here again with something bigger.”
He didn’t even mean to say all of it at once, he just couldn’t stop, not with Morgan looking at him like this. Actually it has nothing to do with their current situation. Morgan has always had this effect on him: when he really wanted Reid to talk, Reid ended spilling his guts. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, but that’s how they work.

Morgan keeps silent until the kettle boils. Reid keeps silent too, because it’s not his turn to talk, he has to give Morgan time to process. After all, he just said he cannot answer with “I love you too”, and while Reid may not be the best person to talk about love, he knows enough to realize that’s what you hope to hear when you tell someone how you feel. He takes the cup of tea his friend silently gives him and waits.
“Look”, says Morgan finally, “all I want is to help you, not to add problems on your list. Don't try to guess the right thing, just be yourself, ok? Ask what you want, do what you want. And if anything in my actions or words makes you uncomfortable, you tell it to me. I'm serious, Spencer. It wouldn't hurt me, but if I upset you and you won't tell me to stop so I end up upsetting you even more - now that would definitely hurt me. So you just be yourself. What's on your mind right now?”
Reid thinks of dozen of things at the same time, and the main topic is: Morgan must really really love him to be this unselfish after all these years... it’s overwhelming and a bit scary, but also very warm, and very very nice to feel. He thinks of that, and he thinks of strange little moments of their past, reliving them now that he knows, trying to restore all the way that got them here. Maybe this is exactly where he wanted them to be, he just didn’t know how to name that trust he wished to have for more than five years now. Maybe they were supposed to be here long time ago. Maybe he just deceives himself because he is confused and overwhelmed, and this is really not a good state of mind to decide on anything this significant. So he goes with what he really knows.
“Few things, actually. First of all I think that I'm glad you forgot your keys yesterday. Second, I'm trying to figure out who takes care of Clooney when you are not here because it can't be neighbors or you would have just taken the spare key from them. And also I'm not sure, what did I do to deserve you, but since it happened, I'll try to be honest with both of us. I need to go home, but I would like to return and spend one more night here, if that's ok with you. The thing is, I can't sleep very well last few months, and it's the worst when I'm at home. Even hotels when we are on a case are better. And this night… I don't think it was the tea that helped me. I feel safe with you. So if that's not too intrusive…”
“My couch is your couch. You can stay as long as you want. I promise to be a decent host and not to try to take advantage of the situation”, says Morgan, and he must be joking about taking advantage, because Reid would never think that of him, “Oh, and I'll get some food so we won't have to continue on the cereal only diet.”
“I could buy some food on my way back”
“Then I'll leave it to you. And about Clooney… he is his own dog, a true child of new century. Come on, let me show you.”

Chapter Text

Morgan proudly demonstrates automatic dog drinker and feeder that are set near to a door leading to a back yard. The door itself has a dog door in it with a magnetic lock reacting to Clooney's collar. A fence around the yard finishes the picture. Very nicely put together to Reid's opinion. And a great way to not be worried about the dog while they are out of town.
"He walks himself, he feeds himself. As you can see he doesn't really need me aside from wanting a play pal", proudly declares Morgan.
"That's great", Reid is sincerely amazed by automatics, "and that means he really really loves you not because you feed him but because it's you. I mean he would have loved you for you anyway but now you know that for sure."
"Yeah, that crossed my mind once or twice."
It sounds cheerful but it is still kind of sad that Morgan doesn't even trust his neighbors to look after his dog, and that he seriously considered someone was loving him only for food.
"Great", Reid says again, "Can I hug you?"
He waits for Morgan to nod and then he hugs him. It feels strange and uncomfortable for a moment, but Morgan hugs him back, pulls him closer, and that is exactly as it should be. Reid doesn't want to confuse himself or Morgan though, so he quickly draws away.
"What was that for?", asks Morgan, clearly bewildered, which he has every right to be since Reid hardly ever initiates tactile contact first.
"That was an impulse. I'm trying to use your advice and be myself without thinking about rights and wrongs."
"I like it", readily says Morgan with a dreamy look, "I really like your impulses. Please do continue. I have a lot of good advice to share."
Reid chuckles and returns to the kitchen for a tea he left there earlier.

With a cup in his hand he slowly goes over the room studying furniture, books on the shelves, sport awards… an then he stops in front of few photos with friends, colleagues and family. Reid has never met most of these people but he guesses, who they are, he almost recognizes them from what he already knows of Derek's life. Their team is also here, pictures taken in different moments with different team members. He sees Ell, and gloomy for whatever reason Gideon, and happy Hotch - that's the first year after Jack was born. There is also a picture with Garcia with her forever crazy hairstyle smiling next to Derek. There are pictures of JJ, Emily and Reid, and all of them are more then three years old - Spencer can determine it by details. The last one has smiling Rossi and tired Hotch who looks over his shoulder to whoever is taking the picture. None of the photos capture Morgan as a child. Reid tries not to think about the reasons of that, because he already knows the answer, and because that answer is painful. The living room as a whole is as neat and clean as he expected Morgan's home to be, considering Clooney's involvement - a controlled environment, laconic and closed, with almost zero chaos element. A place where it's easy for Morgan to feel in control of his life. It should be strange that nothing surprises Reid, that he learns nothing new about his friend with all this new information about where he lives. Even the lack of coffee he understands right away. The truth is they've known each other for so long, he is an expert in Derek Morgan, and while the more details the better, grand picture is not likely to change.
"It's been seven years", he says absent-mindedly and almost misses Morgan's quiet "Yes".
"I wonder what would it be like in another seven years". Would they still be together as a team? Who would they lose? Who would they meet? Would he still miss Gideon? Would Morgan still love him? Would he be crazy by the time? He hopes he wouldn't, but it would be good to know in advance even if the answer is "Yes". Morgan doesn't say anything. Reid goes home and returns later to get another good sleep on Morgan's couch. They watch movies, joke around and play with Clooney, and give themselves and each other time to adjust. Reid is so happy to have Morgan back and much more of him than ever before, that he gives up analysis and just enjoys every minute of it.

It's not like everything changes instantly after that weekend. Changes are slow and delicate. Reid is having less migraines - partly because he gets to sleep normally more often, than not, and partly because he is not nearly as stressed as before. They still have hard cases, and his mother is still getting worse, and schizophrenia is still a very real threat, and there are still days when he has to fight a wish to take dilaudid again… but Reid isn't there alone anymore. He has a haven now, and it's not only Morgan's house (where he spends more and more time), it's Morgan in general: his love, and fondness, and understanding. They don't talk about love though, Morgan isn't pushing it, which Reid is really grateful for. They are being friendly and that's it, though Reid thinks that somehow Rossi already knows more than he should, which is more than Reid knows himself. Also Hotch looks relieved when he catches them joking near coffee machine as in good old days, and Emily says him privately one day, that she is happy they finally made out, which is completely untrue, and Reid says as much, but Emily just smiles and walks away. Well, even if they were to make out, that would be fine, because he and Morgan are not in one line of command so while it's not encouraged, it is also not strictly forbidden for them to have a romance. Which they don't have anyway, because Reid still cannot figure out if this is what he wants them to have, and he doesn't want to rush into anything this serious.

"Does it make me an awful person that I was mad at JJ despite I knew it wasn't really her choice to lie to me about Emily?" - asks Reid one evening, when they watch "Dark knight" that both of them have already seen which makes it a perfect choice for a lazy evening at home.
Morgan actually thinks about it for a minute and then asks in return: "Does it make me an awful person that I was mad at her despite I knew for certain it wasn't neither her choice nor her fault that you were kidnapped?"
"These are not to be compared", argues Reid, "I was mad because I got hurt myself, and you were mad because someone else got hurt".
"Was I?"
Morgan looks completely serious which startles Reid for a second, but doesn't change his answer.
"Yes. You were worried about me and angry at the situation as a whole, and JJ was involved so it was natural to snap on her. Though you shouldn't have done it, but that doesn't make you a bad person".
"You forget something, kid. I was snappy not because I was just worried for you as everyone else was, but because I felt hurt. You were being taken away from me, and I couldn't do a thing, and that hurt like hell. You are right, I shouldn't have blamed JJ, but I still did it. That doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me human. And not a very good professional also, but hey… we cannot be perfect. Not even you. You were hurt, you were emotional, you got mad… it doesn't make you an awful anyone, Reid. You cannot deny yourself the right to feel hurt or betrayed even if it is unreasonable. That's ok, we all do it."
Reid looks at his socks and thinks of that for a minute. He can see it now: the similarities in his behavior and Morgan's, and also how that is a textbook reaction to stress, a natural regulator one's mind uses to let some of the pressure out to start healing or at least coping. Maybe he just considers himself too good, too different from ordinary people and thus expects what he would never expect from others. The thing is, he isn't that much different when it comes to emotions.
"That makes sense", he says finally, rising his glance to Morgan, "though I still feel bad about it, and I wish that has never happened".
"Are you still mad at her?"
"No… but it isn't the same as before. Don't think I would be crying at her place again any time, ever".
"I know, kid… I know", Morgan puts a hand on his shoulder and gives it a squeeze, "hope you won't have a reason to test it".
The hand is gone, and they return their attention to the movie, but few minutes later Morgan asks suddenly, as if conversation never stopped: "Were you mad at me?"
Reid turns his head to look at him. Morgan stares at TV-screen, tense and quiet. He most probably knows the answer. Spencer could pretend he didn't hear it or didn't understand the question… he returns his gaze to the screen and answers.
"Yeah… but I'm not anymore".
"I'm so sorry, Reid".
"Yeah, I know". He doesn't want to hear that bitterness and guilt in Morgan's voice, but can't help it. What he can help is the guilt itself. "I never stopped trusting you, Derek. Even when I was angry at you. I didn't want to burden you any more than I already did, and I thought you'll never let me close anyway, but I trusted you. Couldn't help it. And annoyingly enough I was never able to be really mad at you. So it's not that bad. You don't have to be so sad about it now".
Movie freezes making Reid to stare at Morgan, who set it on pause and now stares back with a mild and somewhat desperate expression. "I'm still sorry", he says, "and you are too good to be true".
"I am pretty sure I'm a real boy", says Reid, a little awkward and shy because of the compliment, but feeling his lips curve a smile at the same time.
"Yeah", says Morgan, "you sure are" - and smiles back, bitterness gone and fondness taking its place.
Rest of the movie goes without interruptions.

There are photos, a lot of them, in Morgan's living room. Reid often stands there and looks at them. Gideon had a lot of photos in his office too. Different kind of photos, but association still works - Reid doesn't need a lot to be reminded of his lost mentor, who is there on the photos too, still smiling, still unbroken. Reid takes a photo and looks at it, recalling the exact moment it was taken. He doesn't hear Morgan coming close until the man puts a hand over his shoulders half hugging him in a friendly way.
"I still miss him", says Reid, "do you?"
Morgan pulls him closer for a moment, showing he's here if Reid needs him. "Yes", he simply says.
"I wonder how's he doing", says Reid, "if he was able to find peace. I hope he was."
"I hope too… but I doubt it", answers Morgan bitterly, "sorry, kid. But he didn't just get away from the job, he also got away from his family and his friends. With what he remembers it's hard enough to remain sane when you have someone. I don't know how can anyone do it alone".
Reid has already thought about it so many times the answer bursts out of him without hesitation, sharp and cold, almost clinical.
"Maybe he isn't our Gideon anymore. Maybe he created some new person… someone who never worked in BAU, who never saw all those terrible things, who never had to watch his loved ones dying in front of him. If he succeeded in doing that, he could have a new life. This is hard, but this is also Gideon. And I cannot think of anything else".
Reid looks at the photo and doesn't answer. Anything else he can say right now would be pathetic and sad, and he doesn't want to go there.
Morgan shifts himself to stand before Reid and gently removes the photo from him, taking his hands in his own.
"Why would he want to do it? Gideon may be broken and hurt, but he is still smart, and he has always been loyal. He may have left us to cheat his own mind, but he wouldn't just throw us away as something irrelevant. He wouldn't throw you away, if that's what you're implying."
"But…", starts Reid.
"No", Morgan interrupts him fiercely and then continues more gently: "there is no 'but', kid. I don't know what is Gideon doing and what was his big plan if he ever had one, but I know he loved you. Most probably still does. And that's not only true for you. Don't forget he was also a mentor for Hotch and for me. And he taught us well, he had faith in us when he left, so we can at least try to have faith in him".
Reid silently stares at Morgan for a good minute after this, and when it starts to get uncomfortable enough for Morgan to try to pull away, he hugs him and stays like that after Morgan hugs him back. "Do you think we'll ever see him again?", he asks quietly.
"I don't know. But even if we won't, he is still our Gideon, and we can still hope he somehow managed to get better."
Reid doesn't answer. He tries to hope, and then he thinks: "our Gideon… not mine, ours" - and it feels better than he thought it would. And he smiles, and draws away still smiling, and he is delighted to see Morgan getting it and smiling back at him after a moment. They are in this together. Even if it's not easy and will never get easier, they are in this together.

Few months later he discovers that while they are certainly not dating, he spends more time at Morgan's than he does in his own apartment. He loves Clooney, and Clooney seems to love him back, and he has his things there, and his favorite pillow, and he even has his own key (though he never uses it because it seems too much). It helps with nightmares too. When he screams at night, Morgan wakes him up and caresses him until he calms down. And Reid does the same for him, and he is glad that it works and that Morgan lets him. Each day Morgan lets him come closer and closer, and this is so much more than Reid ever dreamed of, but somehow he wants more. And he gets more though the circumstances almost make him wish he wouldn’t.

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it's their mistake that gets people killed.
They work on a case in Burley, small town in Idaho where young women started to vanish out in a bright day to be found at dump sights near the road later. They rule out one of suspects early in the investigation and when they finally understand what was wrong in a profile, unsub has already taken another victim. They find his location fast, but not fast enough. Morgan gets there first, and then unsub cuts girl's throat right in front of him, drops the knife and smiles in his face while uniforms cuff him. A girl is twenty three, and she is dead before anyone has a chance to do something. Morgan is mostly silent and very much reserved while they finalize the case, say goodbye to local police officers and fly home. He jokes with Garcia over phone, but it sounds forced, so she chuffs him gently and gives him his space. He avoids Reid by using his headphones as a shield, and with Hotch's silent permission he slips away as soon as their plane lands.
Reid has been there himself, maybe not at the exact situation, but it was similar enough. He knows he won't be welcomed, but after the day is finished he drives to Morgan's place and for the first time uses his own key to open the door.

He finds Morgan at the back yard, sitting on a porch and throwing ball with Clooney. He cannot identify the look on his face though: it's like pain, and anger, and relieve, and surprise all at the same time. Reid silently takes a sit beside him.
"You better leave, Reid", says Morgan emotionless and turns away from him.
"Sorry", answers Reid, "but no".
"If you don't leave, I can end up yelling at you", warns Morgan in the same flat distant voice.
"Okay. Maybe you should".
"What?" - Morgan stares at him in confusion which is good, because that's better than nothing, right?
"Well, if you yell at me, that would be you expressing your anger and frustration over what happened today, and channelling your anger is a good thing. It helps with healing and with leaving at least some part of those bad feelings in the past. So you should do it if you feel like it."
"Is this some experiment for you, genius?", asks Morgan, and yes, he definitely goes toward 'angry' now, full speed and everything. "Do you really think I can just shout for a bit and then forget that I screwed up and got that girl killed? Is this who you think I am? Well, you are wrong! And I don't want to snap on you, but hell, Reid... just leave!"
Reid looks right at him and shakes his head.
"Dammit, Reid!", yells Morgan exactly as he promised and slams his fist into the porch between them, "always think you know better! Well, you don't! You cannot fix it, and she isn't the first, and won't be the last, and I just wanna go back in time and shoot that bastard before he had a chance to touch anyone, but I can't! I can't. And don't say it's not my fault, don't even try it! How's that for healing expression of emotions?!"
Reid takes his bruised hand in his own and says: "Come here", and then he stands up and pulls Morgan with him. Older agent goes along, like he spent all his energy in the outburst. He allows Reid to take him to the couch and to make him lay on it with his head on the pillow which is in its turn on Reid's lap. He lays there and slowly relaxes while Reid's fingers massage his scalp with soft roundish movements. Reid tries to think of something that will actually make Morgan feel better, but he fails. He knows Morgan knows all the right words, and he also knows words are useless. So he just keeps being there and comforting his friend with touches until Morgan falls asleep. He uses that time to cook a light dinner, and then he wakes Morgan up and forces him to eat. They don't talk much that evening, but when Morgan falls asleep again, in his own bedroom this time, Reid stays and waits. He is there when nightmares come, waking Morgan up and calming him down.
He is also there in the morning, when Morgan says "Sorry for yesterday. And thank you".
"It's okay", says Reid, "you can count on me", and then he blushes, because it sounds as such a cliche, though it is truth. Morgan actually smiles at his sudden shyness and pets his hair.
"Looks like I can, pretty boy. Didn't know you can be mother hen".
"I didn't feel like a mother", starts Reid seriously considering it for a moment, "don't think that would be a correct term to use".
"Oh", says Morgan and his smile is now fond mixed with smug. Reid tries to understand why that could be, and when he gets it, he blushes further and retreats to the kitchen.

First time Reid kisses Morgan is unexpected even for Reid himself. It's a deep night, and he just had that nightmare with losing his memory again, which was absolutely terrifying, and Morgan is there, like he's been there for him for the last few months. Reid doesn't even think about kissing him, he just feels it is a right thing to do - the right thing to do - so he goes for it. Morgan is numb for few seconds, but Reid isn't scared, he knows that's not a rejection, and second later Morgan proves him right, squeezing him and kissing him back almost desperately. And this is a start of a new road they take together. Slowly, day by day and night by night they keep moving towards each other. Sex can be a tool for domination, it can be a way to channel anger or lust, or both… for them it's nothing like this. As far as Reid is concerned this is just another way to communicate, and the message stays the same. It doesn't change drastically what they already have, it just makes it more complete.

A week later after their first kiss Reid is lying in Morgan's bed. He feels tired, and hot, and pressed to Morgan's chest so close he doesn't know where exactly is the boundary between their bodies. He also feels most happy, and safe, and in place, than he has ever felt before. Which may be the reason he finally realizes what is his answer. It doesn't come as a shock, it feels like he knew it for a long time, and now he is just aware that he knows it.
"I think I love you", says Reid and waits for any sign confirming Morgan isn't already sleeping. He doesn't want for his speech to go to waste. He hears a hum and continues.
"I definitely love you. My emotional state has been stabilized for a long time now, and I also analyzed everything few times to be sure. That's not a simple need of being close to anyone, that's not a fan-like love for an idol and as we both know that's not a purely friendly feeling. So…"
And this is when Derek turns him on his back and kisses him so sweet and tender Spencer think he's gonna melt away. He still wants to hear it said out loud so he doesn't let Morgan to withdraw afterwards and says again, making a point for both of them. Making it more real.
"I love you, Derek".
"And I love you", answers his friend - no, lover! - seriously for the first time since that evening, when Reid fell asleep in the office, and Morgan forgot his keys. Reid smiles and waits for Morgan to lay down again, and they go to sleep together, keeping each other from nightmares, from loneliness and from the great void that broke and swallowed their mentor and friend one day years ago. Not gonna happen.