Title: Happy Birthday to Me
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers, I do not own any CM characters, I'm just borrowing them and will return them in the same condition as I found them.
Summary: Reid POV. Reid thinks about his life and decides what he wants for his birthday.
I look around the table at my friends, my family. Yes, I have a mother and a father, but Mom's in Bennington on the other side of the country, and the man I no longer call Dad, well, for years I've had the ability to find him, but until Em yelled at me after Gideon left I've never had the desire to do it. I've decided to ask Garcia to help me find him. I don't think I'm going to contact him. Not yet. But maybe if I know what he's doing now, I can get a handle on why he left when he did, the way he did.
Garcia's maybe my best friend, she a little odd just like me - well, not just like me, she's special in her own way, and she embraces it. She could blend in if she wanted to, but "that wouldn't be any fun, Reid." She got me a 1947 original edition of Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury and his newest book, Now and Forever Somewhere a Band is Playing & Leviathan '99, and she actually arranged to have him sign them. The woman has scary connections. I'd hate to get on her bad side; I might find myself on a plane to Tibet or something. She could probably arrange that nightmare meeting between me and a Yeti that I'd let slip when we were on assignment in Alaska.
She's sitting next to Morgan. One of these days he's going to wake up and realize how she feels about him. I mean I may be socially inept, but I am a trained observer, I see so much more than people think I do; I just don't ever say anything about it. Now, I wonder if it's too late for Morgan, after she was shot she met this tech, Kevin Lynch, he works for the Bureau, too. She went head to head with him to get information from her computer, watching her battle it out on the computer was amazing, I swear that was hacker foreplay. I think they fell a little bit in love before they ever saw each other, and when he looks at her, he sees an amazing woman. I won't be surprised if someday I get an e-invitation to a cyberworld wedding. Hmm, I wonder if anyone's figured out a way to do that legally yet? I'll have to look it up when I get home.
Morgan got me tickets to a sci-fi movie marathon that's playing next weekend. He put them in a gift box and put a note in that he got them with the intention to go with me, but if there was someone special I wanted to take with me, he'd cheer me on. He knows I just can't get the dating thing, but he keeps trying. He's dragged me out on a couple double dates, but his taste in women tends to lean toward -- well, let's just say I like to think that when I eventually do get together with a woman, she'll be someone I can send flowers to the next day because, oh, I don't know, maybe I know where she lives. Since I don't drink at all anymore he's stopped dragging me to bars, but he hasn't given up on trying to find me a lady friend, he just drags me to parties instead.
Em's a good friend; it amazes me that she never held my behavior against me when my life was fogged by the drugs and the post-traumatic stress disorder. She had plenty of opportunity to rat me out to Hotch and Gideon but she didn't. Hotch told me later that she was the one who arranged to get me into rehab under a fake name when I let the team know I was ready for help in San Francisco, she also paid for a charter plane and "retrieval specialist" to pick me up and bring me there. She's another woman with a few scary good connections. She visited me every day the team was home. I looked over at her gift sitting on the next table, a "wizards chess" chess set. I can't decide whether to bring it on the plane or into the office. She's a great player, not as good as Gideon, but better than me, still we're a little more evenly matched and I beat her sometimes.
I mean all that time and I only beat him once, I smiled to myself, that was the day I asked JJ out. She was sitting on my left side, somehow she always would up sitting next to me. Did the rest of the team really think that either of us wouldn't notice? It's okay by me. I really, really like JJ. Morgan's asked me about our date a few times, but the thought of discussing something so private just feels wrong. I thought the date went really well, she was really patient explaining things to me. I had researched the game beforehand so I actually had a clue what was going on, but understanding the principles of the game and translating it to what was going on, on the field are two different things.
Of course we were both a little embarrassed when I spilled my beer on her, and tried to wipe it up - from her shirt. Cold beer. I must have been as red as a stop sign when I realized where my hands were. I was so embarrassed I couldn't even look at her for the next quarter. She told me it was no big deal, but I felt like such a pervert at the same time I wanted to do it again - without the beer. When I walked her to her door she told me she'd had a great time and kissed me good-bye - on the cheek. I've tried to ask her out a few times since then, but she's turned me down, the trouble is I'm not sure if she turned me down because she's not interested in the things I've asked her to go to or if she's not interested in me. For a split second I considered asking her to the movie marathon, but I know she's not interested in sci-fi.
Sometimes I'd swear she's flirting with me, other times I'm sure she thinks I'm her brother. I don't know whether she's sending mixed signals or if my antenna's just screwed up. From the way the whole team maneuvers the two of us to sit next to each other, I have to guess she's never complained about me, so I guess there's a chance. Even her gift tonight sends me mixed messages, a gift card to a luxury bath shop, I'd been distracted and let it slip that I love bubble baths, not very manly, I know, but they are relaxing. She'd told me I should light scented candles.
The second we'd realized what we were discussing we'd both turned beet red and started talking about the decapitated body on the other side of the room, but her gift made me wonder if she'd been thinking about me in the tub, which makes me think about her in the tub, about her thinking about me in the tub while she's in the tub. Water and bubbles and candlelight and -- oh, God, down Reid, bad Reid. I take a bite of my prime rib thinking I'm as bad as Garcia used to be with Morgan. I hope not -- or at least not as obvious.
I turn my attention to Rossi. I'm afraid I have a little case of hero worship -- okay, okay, a big case of hero worship. I'll get over it, I swear. Morgan's been helping me rein it in, quietly signaling me when I start to get going. Nobody really wants to hear their life story spit out at them, most people who know that much about someone would have to be a stalker. He's not too put off by it though, so I guess Hotch explained to him a bit about how I am.
It's not that I obsess about any one person or thing, it's just that with the speed I read it's easy to research everything public about someone, or thing, and with my eidetic memory I can recall all that research, and then I get so caught up in trying to relay the relevant information that I just kind of forget that not everybody wants as much detail as I do.
I'm getting better really. Just this morning, Emily had said something about a type of serial killer that I knew Rossi had researched, and instead of telling her about his research, I told her he'd done a paper about it, and let him tell the group. Later he asked me my opinion on the paper. That was so cool. He got me a book on Jack the Ripper - I already have a copy, but it's really cool that he took the time to find out something I'm interested in. I mean we haven't discussed the Ripper at work since he's been come back to the BAU, so he had to either ask someone or do some research, I've published three papers on the Ripper, so it's something that pops up in a standard search … on a scale of one to ten how weird is it to Google yourself?
Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to getting to know Rossi better, there's so much I can learn from him.
Hotch has been pretty down since Haley left, but he's seemed better lately. Haley's been letting him see Jack as much as possible, so that helps. At first she was a little resentful when he would call after a hard case and want to see him, or hear his voice, but she know how much he loves Jack. It's something I'd never say out loud, but I have to wonder at how quickly she's started dating again. It wasn't even a month before Hotch mentioned something about her boyfriend.
And back to me being more observant than people think, he did not say NEW. I think Haley might have been having an affair. On the one hand Hotch is such a dedicated, loyal person I can't understand how she could cheat on him, on the other hand, we spend more than half our time on the road, which means that she spent more than half her time alone. I'd be angry on his behalf (well, I am anyway) but I'd be more angry on his behalf if it weren't for the fact that she married a lawyer, not an agent. It may not have been strictly nine to five, but he was home every night. He may have dealt with murder cases, but he didn't come home with blood on his hands, sometimes literally.
I think he's going to be all right with this though, he hasn't talked about it, but I saw divorce papers on his desk. I think the big issue is going to be the house. It was his parents' house, his mom moved into an apartment when he and Haley transferred back to Virginia (think she was hoping for lots of grandkids), but he'd like Jack to grow up there. On the other hand, I really don't think he wants Haley living there with another man, no matter how good he is to Jack.
He actually seems pretty happy tonight. I never would have expected such a fanciful gift from him, a leather-bound collection of Grimms Fairy Tales, old style, the 1884 translations by Margaret Hunt. Many believed hers to be the best translation, the most accurate. Absolutely not the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories version. It was whimsical and gruesome, absolutely perfect.
Sometimes it amazes me how much these people care about me, it amazes me even more how much I've come to care about them. I'm not alone anymore and I know I never will be again. People wonder how much their friends mean to them and how much they mean to their friends. I know.
Would they be mad if I called them in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep? No, Morgan actually came over and brought instant hot chocolate and a bag of little marshmallows when I did.
Would they see you in a funk and drag you out to have a good time whether you wanted to or not? Yeah, Garcia's forced me to have fun more than once.
Would they rat you out if you got mean and snippy? Nope, Emily, let me snap and came back for more, she was even brave enough to tell me I was being an ass (not that it worked at the time, but she tried).
Would they touch you, even though you shy away from physical contact because you just aren't used to it? Yeah, I've come to love it when JJ ruffles my hair, or slaps me in the chest to make a point. Morgan slaps my back because that's what buddies do. Emily and Garcia give me friendly little shoves when we're joking around.
Will they explain a joke three times because you're too analytical and just don't get it the first time? Even better will they let you explain your joke three times because the reference is too obscure and they just don't get it? Yes to both.
Would they sit through sixteen hours of sci-fi movies because you like them? Well, I've got the tickets to prove it.
Would they understand when you shout out their name, marking them for death, hear the message it took you three clicks to think up? Well, he hugged me in the graveyard when I stank of rotted, burned fish hearts and livers and barely dry urine from when my heart stopped, held me close when my face was covered in blood and drool and maybe a little snot.
Would they hold your hand when the sound of footsteps in leaves made you crave the demon that had nearly stolen your soul? Yes, they'd set up a rotation, sitting up with me all night, sometimes reading to me like Mom had when I was a child, or just watching while me sleep, waiting for the nightmares that always come after I've heard that sound or smelled fish.
Would they give up eating fish, because the smell gave you flashbacks? Yeah, JJ, perpetually on a diet because of the cameras, hasn't had it once, not even at home, because we're on call twenty-four/seven and she doesn't want me to smell it on her breath. Garcia told me about that, she switched to chicken salad for me.
Would they die for you? Without a doubt.
Would you die for them? Three clicks had proven that. Three clicks unwilling to send the monster to them even though I knew they'd be ready, but what if they weren't. Three clicks trying to force my mind to come up with a way to tell them we were in a cemetery. Three clicks knowing I desperately didn't want to die, but would rather die than cause harm to one of them. Three clicks to realize just how important my family is to me.
Ahh, back to touch, ever since Emily found out I'm ticklish, she's delighted in tickling my ribs, at least once a week she gets me. Instinctively, I pull my arms in and suck my stomach back, she's laughing so hard I play it up a little, slapping at her hand. The whole group laughs at us as she tells me to eat my vegetables so we can have cake. I try to point out that it's a restaurant and we can have dessert even if we don't clean our plates, but I see Hotch looking paternal from the other side of the table and decide it's easier to give in, at least tonight's vegetable is carrots not spinach or brussel sprouts.
I've never gotten to like vegetables, see the thing about taking over cooking for the family at ten, no ten year old is going to decide to put veggies on the table. I did, however, know enough to take a multivitamin every day; even then I knew I didn't want rickets or scurvy. I mean, I've switched from Flintstones to a grown-up version, but I still take them faithfully. I'm not sure when my eating habits became everybody's business, but I suppose it goes along with people randomly sniffing my breath and checking my pupils just to keep me on my toes. Could be worse, at least none of them's asked me to pee in a cup for them. Yet. I know they will if it becomes necessary and I use that thought to strengthen my resolve on the rough nights.
I scoop up the last few carrots and make a big production of grimacing over the taste. It's not that I really hate them, but I don't like them either. After the laughter dies down I thank Morgan again for the movie tickets then turn to Emily and ask her what her favorite movie is. It takes several minutes, but I manage to work my way around to my goal, although I'm not sure whether knowing that Pretty Woman is JJ's all-time favorite movie is going to help me or not, but at least it's a start.
I've decided that if I want JJ to go out with me again, I'm going to have to be a little more aggressive, and maybe just a bit sneaky. Philosophers say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, Morgan says to use my experiences to make me stronger, Gideon told me time and again that I'm stronger than I think, I've decided they're all right. If I want JJ to give me a chance, I'm going to have to do something to make it happen.
When I get home I'll see if Julia Roberts or Richard Gere have a new movie coming out any time soon. Tomorrow I'll buy a copy of Pretty Woman, I know there's going to be a time when I just don't want to be alone, when it'll be her turn to keep me company, I'll be ready when the chance comes up. I also know a few sites that make recommendations on movies to see based on movies you like.
There's a chance she'll tell me to go to hell, I know that, I'm prepared for it, if she does, then at least I'll know. If she does I've promised myself I'll move on. No, I'm not going to let Morgan set me up, but he's not my only friend at the table, he's not the only one who's tried to set me up. Garcia's tried to get me to go out, last month Emily tried to introduce me to a friend of hers.
Most people make New Year's resolutions; me, I'm different, a little odd, I make birthday wishes, then I do my damnedest to make them come true. I look up to see a waitress carrying a lit birthday cake to our table. I can't help but blush as I become the center of attention for the whole restaurant, but it's okay, even though I'm a little embarrassed, the emotions behind the gesture and the song (which even Rossi joins in on) are real.
The song ends and JJ impulsively pulls my face to her and kisses my cheek, "Make a wish, Birthday Boy." I smile as I blow out the candles. I think my birthday wish just might come true this year. Happy birthday to me.
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