Character(s): Spencer Reid
Prompt: fanfic100 #52 Fire and story_lottery #25 a cell
Rating: FRT (drug use)
Summary: Prisons come in all shapes and sizes, and we are all prisoners of our desires.
Author's Notes: A story about Reid's glossed-over drug habit, so it takes place during all of that. I don't want anyone to think I'm glorifying drug use here; I hope all my descriptions of how bad Reid looks makes you guys realize that, but just in case... Standard disclaimers apply: I own nothing; suing would be pointless and cruel.
At night I wake up with the sheets soakin' wet
And a freight train runnin' through the middle of my head;
Only you can cool my desire.
Ohh, I'm on fire.
-Bruce Springsteen, "I'm On Fire"
He opened puzzled hazel eyes, set deep in a pensive, intelligent face, and blinked in the dark. It was the train whistle that had woken him, he realized. Their hotel was nearer to the tracks than he was used to, and the train's restless howl had pulled him out of his light doze with almost obscene ease.
The thin young man sat up; shook off the vestiges of sleep like the arms of a clinging lover; noticed he was shaking. It hadn't just been the whistle. He pushed sticky, damp curls back off his forehead with a trembling hand. The sheet was adhered to his lanky frame like a winding cloth; he peeled it away slowly, revealing pale skin marked by yellowed bruises; faded, but still there to remind him of what he'd so recently suffered.
As if he could ever forget.
His thin body was shaking, like a leaf on a branch, and for a moment he just sat and let the tremors roll through him. He closed his eyes and wrapped long arms around his skinny chest and rocked with them; let them block out the nightmares that threatened to overwhelm him. How could he live with it? How could he live with the memories…the bruises would disappear, but he would never stop remembering…
A long-fingered hand groped blindly in the dark, searching through the nightstand drawer, reaching past ubiquitous Bible and cheap notepad and generic hotel pen. The sensitive fingertips brushed against the cold bottle, and it rolled away from his fumbling grip. He cursed; debated turning on the light. What would be revealed by its harsh glare? He felt like a cockroach; to what safe darkness could he scuttle to hide his sins?
Rolling his eyes at his own melodrama, he nevertheless left the room in shadow as he opened the drawer wider and began rooting with both hands. At last he found what he so desperately sought, and with a little wheeze of triumph he held the small glass vial up to the sliver of light that squeezed through the hotel's blackout curtains. The clear liquid glowed like ambrosia in the orange beam, and the young genius stared at it hungrily.
The train whistle was louder now, closer; more mournful, if such a thing were possible. Reid listened to it with half an ear as he studied the beautiful bottle in his hand. He wanted the liquid it contained more than he'd ever wanted anything in his young life. Longing for it burned in him like fire, like hot liquid poured through his veins. He ached with need. He wanted the relief it promised, the comfort, a cool balm to his burn. Tobias had been right: it made everything better. Everything.
He realized he'd whispered it aloud: everything.
He'd escaped the Henkels' prison only to find himself trapped in a different one. Spencer Reid was a genius, and he knew exactly what kind of fire he was playing with, what kind of thin ice he was dancing on…but he didn't care. When he stole the vials of Dilaudid off of Tobias' body, he'd known exactly what he was doing. He'd known what sort of trap he was setting for himself. Why had he done it?
He was jeopardizing his career. He was alienating his friends. He was doing possibly permanent damage to his body.
And for what? A few minutes' bliss? A few moments' peace? He could try meditation…
The train whistled again. The young man jumped; fumbled the bottle. Gripped it tighter than ever. Panted like a panicked animal. He slumped back against the bed's cheap, uncomfortable headboard, still breathing in short gasps, and listened to the ache of the addict wash over him. It didn't matter; he had what he needed to take it away. The needle as key to his prison of aching want.
He sat up again. For some ridiculous reason he had stashed the needles in his toiletry kit, as though separating drug and means to dispense it would slow him down. He'd been fooling himself when he'd done it, and now it just meant a walk across an unfamiliar room in the dark – but he had to pee anyway. Amazing, considering how much he'd been sweating.
The thin young man rose on long, shaky legs and made his uncertain way across the shadowy terrain. He jammed his shin against the other bed and cursed for a while, employing words that his colleagues would've been surprised he even knew, and down right shocked to hear him say. Once in the bathroom he had no choice but to flip on the light, and he squinted in its harsh fluorescent glare.
It buzzed overhead like a fly in a bottle.
He used the toilet, washed his hands, and then began rooting through his kit, all the while trying to avoid meeting his own gaze in the mirror. He found a needle, and as he pulled it from the brown leather satchel containing toothpaste and deodorant and the other accoutrements of personal hygiene, he made the mistake of looking up. The face in the mirror was one he didn't recognize for a moment, and he was so startled that he dropped the entire bag; drug store stuff rolled off the vanity and across the tile floor, behind the toilet, under the counter.
His eyes were always deep-set, surrounded by dark circles, but the face staring back at him looked almost skeletal: the eyes burned out from dark holes with blazing, fevered intensity. There was a purplish bruise along the jaw. The cheeks were sunken. The hair was lanky and wild. A long-fingered hand ran over his bare chest, and he could practically count the ribs by feel. The apparition in the mirror winced as the hand hit a sore spot.
With deliberate care he set the bottle of Dilaudid on the vanity beside the scattered contents of his toiletry kit. He watched himself in the mirror as he removed the cap from the needle and plunged it into the vial; filled it with delicious poison. He kept watching, eyes burning even more intensely, as he found a vein in his stick-thin arm and stuck the needle in.
He didn't push the plunger down. His own eyes challenged him, dared him, begged him. He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. They stood staring at each other for several heartbeats more, young man and his spectral, skeletal reflection, made ghastly by the ravages of ordeal and drugs and harsh fluorescent light. At last the young man closed his eyes, blocking out the sight of himself, and pressed the plunger. As his veins filled with cool euphoria, he slipped to the bathroom floor and floated on a cloud of perfect, blissful joy.