Previous Installments in the 'verse and the Trailer Video for RPS
Title: Rock Paper Scissors 1/?
Rating: FRT for swearing
Pairing: Morgan/Reid, but mentions of Garcia/Kevin & Hotch/JJ
Summary: After Morgan ‘breaks up’ with Reid, they must continue to work together, battling their separate demons in silence. Meanwhile, not all is safe in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.
Beta: None. Ah well. All mistakes are mine.
ConCrit: Better than watching Reid suck on a lollipop (and that was pretty darned good)
SPOILERS: Some canon from all seasons, but not always in the way it happened on the show. Many illusions to season 2 and season 4, mostly.
It’s rock paper scissors as to whether
I will get over you at all
Its hand against hand and both hands are mine
It’s standing in a circular line
~Rock Paper Scissors, Ani Difranco
*Without giving too much away, part of this case is a bastardization of something that happened a few seasons ago on Law & Order SVU, but it’ll take a while to get to that. That particular story line just spoke to me and seemed like a perfect way to do what I needed to do to the team. As of now, this is the seventh installment and there will be an eighth for sure. I know I have to end this plotline sometime, but then again I really like my back story and as long as people are reading this, I’ll just keep it going until the team says they are ready for a series finale ;)
Disclaimer: I don’t own any rights or trademarks to Criminal Minds, the FBI, CBS or any of the characters within. No infringements of these copyrights are intended. Any similarities between original characters therein are a coincidence. I make no profit from the following fictional story. (Fictional, maybe, but I swear this happened all in my head).
One week after George Rossi’s Funeral. The Senior Citizen’s Center in Chantilly, Virginia
Dr. Spencer Reid
I manage to duck out before the final applause is over. The last two hours just reminded me why I never went to NA meetings the first time around. Those who chose to speak pour their hearts out to all these strangers and somehow it feels phony. Or maybe it’s just me.
I quickly hop into my car, which I really shouldn’t have driven this far from home in the first place considering the state of disrepair it’s in, and head towards the nearest fast-food drive-thru for some soda and fries to get me through the roughly hour-long drive back to my apartment in DC. Of all the meetings within the Washington DC area being held tonight, I chose to drive out to Chantilly.
Tomorrow is our first day back at work, sans Rossi, who has several more weeks of medical leave. It’s also going to be the first day I’ll be seeing Morgan since he dropped me off after George Rossi’s funeral, since he changed his mind about us. What shocked me the most about him ‘dumping me’ was that I didn’t blame him and I wasn’t angry at him. It was my fault. I was weak, I used and I killed someone.
And I should have taken that secret to my grave. Now Morgan has to deal with knowing what I did. It should have been my burden to bear and mine alone and I stupidly told him. I knew after the funeral when he said we could work through it that it was lip service. We were at a funeral, we couldn’t ‘break up’ then.
I shovel some fries in my mouth and turn on the radio to classical music. It’s meant to be soothing, but after a few seconds I find that it grates on my ears and makes my whole body itch, so I reach to turn it off. But I pause and reach for my drink instead. When I started using, it was to escape, to not feel anything. Maybe that was my problem, I never let myself really deal with things and instead just tried to escape them. I did the inexcusable, I should be punished. And I know Morgan won’t tell Hotch. He doesn’t want the rest of the team to feel betrayed and stung, he’ll protect them from that.
It’s that selfless devotion that I’m going to miss the most.
The next morning
I arrive in the bullpen to see Prentiss huddled around Garcia, looking at a piece of paper in her hand. “See,” Garcia points. “I have to have that crib, I mean it’s just about the coolest thing in the whole world!”
Prentiss smiles. “Pinks skulls and crossbones, uhm, yeah sure why not?” She looks up and meets my eye. “Spence was raised in a pink skull and crossbones crib, weren’t ya?”
Smirking, I set my things down on my desk. “My mother actually wasn’t a fan of cribs. She used an infant sling and wrap until I could walk on my own. I slept in the bed with them until I was three. Did you know that co-sleeping is considered beneficial part-time with infants and toddlers, but full-time and long-term it can be detrimental to child brain development? Studies have shown…”
“Oh my Holy pink pens,” Garcia sighs theatrically. “Reid, honey, promise me you won’t scare the crap out of me during this pregnancy? Just be my living version of Dr. Spock?”
“Actually, Dr. Spock has been given entirely too much credit according to…”
“SPENCER!” Prentiss and Garcia complain in unison.
I shrug and make a zipping motion in front of my mouth, looking at the print-out of nursery items in Garcia’s hand. “There’s a lot of pink here, what if it’s a boy?”
“I find out in about four or five weeks, give or take,” Garcia smiles. “Besides, real men wear pink.”
“I’ve seen you rock the pink on occasion.“
When I look up to see the owner of the deep voice, I see Morgan standing in front of us. He looks like he hasn’t slept or shaved since I saw him last. He doesn’t look me in the eye, but nods in my direction. “Mama, let me see.”
Garcia smiles and hands him the photograph. “Geez Morgan, since when have razors become a rare commodity?”
“What, you don’t like my rugged I-don’t-give-a-shit look?” He smirks and rubs his chin.
“Only if it’s just a look and not an attitude,” JJ approaches, arms loaded with files. “No rest of the Knights of the Round Table, we’ve got a case. Serial arsonist in Washington state. Briefing room in ten.”
Garcia snags her ultrasound picture back from Morgan. “Off you go. Have fun with Rossi’s temp.”
Morgan looks at me and then Prentiss. “Temp?”
Prentiss smirks. “Strauss assigned Agent Anderson to work with us until Rossi’s back. He’s in Hotch’s office being briefed on how we operate in the field.” Prentiss turns and heads towards the kitchen.
“Anderson in the field?” Morgan scoffs. “Shit, we’ll all get shot. Oh no, wait…” he lowers his voice. “That’s your job.” He sits down at his desk and starts looking through the papers around him.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to suppress the urge to cry. It was my fault, all of it, I deserve every single jab he can dish out. I instantly repeat the words over and over in my head, letting them cut deeper and deeper until I sit down and turn on my computer. As deserved as it is, I’m a bit taken aback by Morgan’s cruelty. He does occasionally say the wrong thing to people, but he never means to hurt. This time he went straight for the throat. He doesn’t look like Morgan, he doesn’t carry himself the same and he feels different.
Prentiss emerges from the kitchen alone and gives me a tight-lipped smile on the way to her desk, gathering her things. I wonder if Morgan told her what happened. I look up to see Agent Anderson and Hotch leaving his office and going to the briefing room. I dig through my things, finding a few candy canes in the bottom of my bag and tossing them in the trash.
“Wasting candy?” Morgan says quietly.
His comment takes me off guard. “Huh?”
He gestures to the garbage can with his eyes. “Not like you to throw away candy.”
“They are stale,” I reply coolly, replenishing my stash of pens, legal pads and paper clips. Sure, these things are all available at local stations, but it’s easier to carry my own with me. I don’t have to waste time tracking them down. “I’ll find something at the airport before we go.”
“Reid, about that shooting comment…”
“Whatever,” I shrug. I deserved it, please just hit me or something I want to scream. “Let’s just act like co-workers, please? They need us.”
Morgan nods. “I can try, but you know why it’s going to be hard to trust you.”
If I ever wanted to get shot at work, it’s in this very moment. “Maybe I should transfer. I could use the change.”
Morgan struggles for something to say, but instead of responding he just gets up and heads towards the briefing room. I wonder if I should request a transfer. I’ve already taken a sabbatical, I couldn’t request another one. I could leave the FBI and work in the private sector, I suppose. Teaching last year wasn’t exactly boring, and I’m sure if I took on a tenure-track position I could teach higher level courses. I could take a teaching position at Quantico too. Because in the end, everyone I have gotten close to ends up leaving.
I just gave Morgan a good excuse.
11:02 that evening at Green Grass Motel in Packwood, WA
Yawning loudly, I open the key to the room and turn on the light. Small town, small motel, team members are sharing rooms. Once Anderson and I are inside, I turn around. “Do you have a preference for which bed?” I ask.
“I can take the one closest to the door, if that’s okay,” Anderson says, setting his go-bag on it.
“No problem,” I sit on mine and dig for my toiletry bag. “You can shower first if you want.”
Anderson shakes his head nervously. “No, that’s okay, you go ahead. I’m just going to call my friend, he’s watching my dog.”
I nod. “Garcia and her husband Kevin watch my cats when I’m away.”
“You have cats?” Anderson reaches for his wallet and hands it to me open. “That’s Wally, he’s a shelter rescue mutt but man, he’s the best dog ever.”
I take the wallet and see a shaggy brown lab-cross licking Anderson’s face while another man pets him. “That your brother?”
Anderson nods. “Yeah, Nate. He’s a year younger than me.”
“This is going to sound really stupid, but I just realized I don’t know your first name,” I say shyly, grabbing my bag and moving towards the door.
“Nick. It’s Nick.” He laughs. “Don’t worry, Agent Hotchner didn’t know it either until this morning when he got my temporary transfer.”
I let myself smile just a bit. “Nice to meet you Nick.”
After a quick shower, I stand in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth and avoiding my reflection. Why was I so hell bent on feeling terrible this morning? I was begging for punishment, eager to feel. I ended up working on a geographical profile and doing witness interviews at the station. I didn’t even have time to think about Morgan and I much. Well, there isn’t the ‘and’ anymore.
I drop my toothbrush in the sink and let the tears well up in my eyes. I feel my chest start to tighten and my skin crawl with that sadly familiar flight response. Focus on breathing Spencer, in and out. Calm down. You don’t want to scare Anderson into getting Hotch to come in here and find you like this? Or Prentiss? Or Morgan? I’ve been trying so hard this past week not to cry or feel like I’ve been done wrong, but it hurts. I love him. He’s the only person I’ve ever been able to truly trust and I betrayed that trust. I deserve every ounce of this pain because of anyone else had done to Morgan what I did I would wish this on them. I could have shot him and it still wouldn’t have been as painful.
I quickly gather myself together, rinse my face, change and clean up my things. When I get back in the room, Anderson’s sitting back, watching CSPAN and looking over case notes. That’s when it hits me. “Anderson, you know you don’t have to keep making up for what happened with Elle.”
He’s stunned for a moment, peeking up at me from the case file on the bed before him. “I…I almost got her killed. I was irresponsible and Agent Hotchner should have fired me.”
I shake my head gently, plopping my go-bag on the floor and gently climbing into my hard and scratchy bed. “I only heard about the details after I got back from Las Vegas, but with everything that was going on it’s understandable that some things happened. She survived.”
“But I heard she shot a suspect and then left.” Anderson sighs deeply. “She’ll never be the same. I turned her into a victim.”
“No, Nick, Garner turned her into a victim. People make mistakes, things happen in this job that aren’t always the best. But we have to move on. You’re a good agent and an asset to the BAU. Do this job because you want to, not because you’re trying to fix wrongs.”
Anderson gathers his own things and stands up. “Do you really think Agent Hotchner forgives me?”
“I do,” I yawn. “I’ll be asleep by the time you’re done, so good night.”
“Good night Dr. Reid.” Anderson politely turns off the light before closing the bathroom door, leaving me enveloped in darkness.
With Morgan, the darkness wasn’t so bad. Now I’m terrified.
It’s cold. I can see my breath. I can’t feel the cold, but I know it is. My gun is heavy in my hand and the snow.
I hear someone coming. It’s one of the unsub’s.
I turn around and fire my weapon.
Morgan falls to the ground, clutching his chest. “Why Spencer? Why would you do this to me?”
I wake up, covered in sweat, with Agent Anderson sitting nervously on the edge of my bed. He’s turned on the lamp, illuminating the unsure look on his face. “Spencer?”
“What?” I sit up, wiping sweat and damp hair from my face. “Something break in the case?”
He shakes his head. “You started calling out in your dream for Derek. Is…is everything okay?”
I nod, chewing on my lip. “I just…I had a nightmare. About the case in Tucson. Derek was the one who got to Lizzie Rossi and I first and…I’m fine really I am.” I fake a smile. “I’m going to get some fresh air.”
“Aren’t we not supposed to go anywhere alone while working cases?” He stands up. “Agent Hotchner told me specifically about that rule.”
He’s right, one too many times this team has separated and nothing good has ever come from it. “I’m just going back to sleep.”
Anderson clears his throat. “Uhm, this might sound strange, but if you want to take a walk I could go with you.”
I get out of bed and go over to the desk, grabbing one of the plastic cups from the coffee tray and filling it with water from the bathroom sink. When I return, Anderson is sitting on the edge of his bed. “I had nightmares after the Randall Garner case. Guilt manifestations mostly. I imagined that I was in Agent Greenaway’s place, and that she was the shooter. Or sometimes, I was the one shooting her. I guess I’m saying that I can commiserate. I mean, I don’t travel with your team obviously, I don’t see the cases the same way you do, but in administration I see a lot of the paperwork. I see the way Garcia leaves her office when things are tense, that terrible weight on her shoulders that’s only lifted when Agent Jareau calls in to say you’ve caught the unsub.”
“You have no idea,” I say, sounding a lot harsher than I intended.
“You’re right, I really don’t. But I’m a good ear. I don’t judge people, I don’t give advice and I don’t betray confidences. I guess I’m saying that maybe someone who isn’t in the line of fire might just be the perfect person to talk to.”
I look over at him. He’s trying so hard, like I did. I remember sitting across from Gideon, chess game after chess game, waiting for the moment that he would bestow trust in me. A moment where I was more than just a prodigy, a human computer, a way to stroke his ego. I waited for something sincere and meaningful from him, so much so that I created an attachment in my head. “He left,“ I find myself saying out loud. “Gideon. And while I was hurt, it was the most sincere thing he ever did to me. Elle, we all feel like we let her down. I just…I worked my entire career in the BAU trying not to let them down, not to make them feel guilty. Especially Derek. He’s been my best friend.”
Anderson takes a deep breath. “So, what are you saying?”
“I don’t know.”
“Dr. Reid, you know.”
I look him in the eyes. He’s so honest, so open and so the person I wish I could be. “Staying would let them down, leaving would let them down. But I’m not going to take off in the middle of the night. I’m going to tell them why, I’m going to say goodbye.”
“You’re going to?” He asks me.
“Rhetorically,” I say, climbing back into bed. “But in reality, we all leave the BAU in the end. Some of us retire early, transfer, stay until the end, and some of us can’t take it. Some of us die in the line of duty. It’s just a matter of time.”
Anderson gets back into his own bed. “Do you mind if we leave the lamp on?”
I turn on my side, facing the other way, and smile to myself. “No problem.”
I’ve known that I would leave the BAU long before the typical retiring age. I did take a sabbatical after injuring my knee, went home to Las Vegas. I missed the BAU but I think I only missed it because I had let it define every aspect of who I was. I’m starting to realize that I can’t do that anymore. I know leaving won’t be easy, but it might just be the best thing for everyone. I could get a job tomorrow doing just about anything anywhere and for a lot more money than I make now. I’m not worried about that. I’m not even that worried about missing the work.
But could I really let this be my last case?
Meanwhile, just outside of Slatyfork, West Virginia, in the Yew Mountains
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” She yells, slamming the rickety door to the RV behind her. She grabs her knitted mittens from the pockets of her woven jacket and puts them on.
She sees her brother sitting on a plastic chair around a small fire pit, drinking something from a mason jar. “Where did you get that?”
“Traded some stuff with Snickers,” he says, taking another swig. “Best thing about this place is the moonshine, without a doubt.”
She sits down in the chair next to him, taking the jar when he passes it to her. “We’re in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, of course it’s the best.” She takes a long swig of the burning liquid and hands the jar back. “Barry’s being a fucking asshole.”
“What else is new?”
“He keeps saying he’s stressed out about the upcoming campaigns, but that doesn’t mean he can take it out on me.” She adjusts the hat on her head. “I know I should be more understanding but this feels like a lost cause.”
“Listen to me Wendy, saving the planet is NEVER a lost cause. If you and Barry don’t make it through this, it’s a small price to pay.” He stands up. “I’m going inside. Work to do.”
Wendy sighs, wrapping her arms around her and staring into the fire. She used to believe in the cause, but now she’s not so sure. The police are ever-present, the locals are downright dangerous and the mountain folks, while they don’t oppose their cause, are all to eager to keep to themselves and not get involved either way. Wendy’s sick of living out of an RV, setting up camp wherever Barry and the group determines the next big Earth-saving cause is. Not to mention it’s January and they are in the mountains and it’s freezing. The RV doesn’t stay nearly warm enough at night, and all the hot bricks from the fireplace can keep the bed warm while she sleeps. She wants to go home.
She looks down the small valley and sees a series of tents, RV’s and fire pits, bundled up friends huddled around in an attempt to stay warm. One guy-Nino-has braved removing his gloves to strum on his banjo and sing a song to a handful of kids who are listening intently. The smell of marijuana floats up towards her and she inhales deeply, loving the smell of it more than it’s effect. Standing up, mason jar in hand, she decides to take a walk into the woods to relieve herself before going back inside and dealing with Barry.
The moon bounces off the snow and lights her way. Wendy keeps walking, sipping moonshine, until she can’t see the fires and the camp any longer. Finding a fallen log, she sets the moonshine down in the snow and starts to unbutton her jeans.
Before she can get the zipper down, a hand closes over her mouth from behind.
*I searched high and low for Agent Anderson’s real first name, but it was never officially given as far as I can tell in the credits or anywhere, so I made it up.