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Criminal Minds - Smile {Gen, JJ, Reid, K]

Title: Smile (3/7)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: K
Summary: This job gets to everyone eventually. JJ perspective, Reidcentric.
Spoilers: Everything up to 'Revelations'.
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of the characters.

A/N: This is another fic in my Reid FF100 Series, and the third part of my 'Reid-on-drugs' miniseries, but it is not necessary to have read Fall or Fathers before reading this. This fic is set somewhere between those two fics.

She watches him from her office as he walks swiftly to his desk and sits. He's on time - not fifteen minutes early like he always used to be. Morgan pats him on the back and doesn't seem to notice the small jump he gives at the unexpected physical contact. He clutches his coffee cup too tightly and smiles at the joke his friend makes before turning to the pile of folders waiting for him on his desk.

It's the smile that gets her - so unfamiliar and strange upon the young profiler's face. His smile used to by so light and naive, with just a hint of awkwardness. He would be there every day before her, greeting her with a self-conscious wave as she brushed by him to her office. She'd never realized it at the time, but his smile is one of the things she's come to expect in the mornings. She needs it - a morale booster to remind her that there is still good in the world, before diving into piles of photographs and reports that beg to differ. His smile has always been somewhat guarded, yet friendly and calmly reassuring, and that is hard to come by in their line of work.

It is hard not to be affected by the cases they deal with each day - hard to draw a line between the victims and themselves. She's seen it happen over and over to FBI agents. At some point along the way, they lose that guiding light that tells them things will still work out in the end. This job gets to everyone eventually. But to see it come for Reid all at once is heartbreaking.

He is too young to be there; too young to have seen the horrors he's seen. She quickly reminds herself that he's only a couple of years younger than her, but the sentiment is the same. Reid carries the aura of 'young and helpless' wherever he goes - something that she finds both pitiable and endearing. He isn't weak - they all know that - but the youthful air has always been equated with innocence in her mind.

Innocence. That is what was destroyed in Georgia. She knows that as the team watched him on that computer screen, each of them had been silently wishing that he'd never joined the FBI. She still wishes that Gideon had never approached him after that college lecture seven years ago if it meant that he would be destroyed like this. He used to do magic tricks. He used to spout off random and relatively obscure facts like a human 'Trivial Pursuit' game. He had been so childlike in so many respects, so oblivious to the horrors that surrounded them. He isn't like that anymore.

He came back from Georgia a different person, a cruel imitation of the socially awkward genius they all knew. Sometimes she wonders if they rescued the wrong man - if the real Dr. Spencer Reid isn't wandering around in the Georgia wilderness somewhere, waiting patiently for his surrogate family to find him. She sometimes considers barging into Hotch's office and demanding that they dispose of the imposter in the bullpen with the empty smile, and launch a search party to bring their well-missed friend home. But she knows in her heart that the only mistake made was letting them split up in the first place.

Some nights, she dreams that they switched places - that she was kidnapped instead of him. She thinks, on those nights, that things would have been better that way. At least she would have had the constant of his smile to pull her through the darkness he seems so lost in.

It isn't fair, any of it. He should be safe in a university office somewhere, locked in with his books and that brilliant mind of his, never having to lose that light in his soul to the world's darkness. His smile is no longer the highlight of her morning, assuring her that - no matter what - they'll catch the bad guy and save the day. Now it is hard and cynical, the smile of someone who has seen too many fights, too many deaths, too many losses. The smile of a man who has lost his faith in the goodness of people.

He sees Hotch watching him concernedly from across the bullpen, and the smile is back, as mirthless as ever. She quietly stands and shuts the door to her office, locking herself in with the horrors of the case files rather than read any more of the horrors written on her colleague's face.
This job gets to everyone, eventually. And it makes her want to cry.



Keep Smiling! ;)


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
She sometimes considers barging into Hotch's office and demanding that they dispose of the imposter in the bullpen with the empty smile, and launch a search party to bring their well-missed friend home. Great line, and so totally in character with JJ! I really liked this story, and am quite enjoying the whole 'Reid on drugs' series!
Aug. 22nd, 2008 02:55 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad that you found it in-character, and that you're enjoying the miniseries (one of these days, I *will* finish it lol).

Thanks for reading!!

Keep Smiling! ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )