a/n: Hello again! Just a quick note to avoid any possible confusion that might occur...
I clearly reference 2x12 "Profiler, Profiled" here. Though Morgan and Jack didn't really mesh well at first (see my story "Endgame"), I sorta have this idea that after Derek's ordeal in Chicago, she's the one who wouldn't leave him alone. That's pretty much her way; it's why Reid's being such a pain.
Chapter 5: Brooding on It
I'm the victim of another's war.
Still the words you said to me
Come ringing in your silent symphony.
-Better Than Ezra, "Burned"
Elliot Jackson was fuming. Spencer Reid, possibly her best friend, had lost his damn mind. He'd been abducted four months ago, and watching him go through the torture Henkel had inflicted had broken her heart. As tragic as it was, that was no excuse for his current ridiculousness.
He'd been shaky on his first case. They'd all kept constant vigil, ready to step in if he needed them. But, apart from a brief conversation with Morgan, he kept to himself. They thought maybe he'd come back ok. Different, of course, but still pretty much the Spencer Reid they all knew and loved.
Time passed. Days turned into a week, weeks into a month. Time passed, and Jackson watched him fade. Her perceptive glass-green gaze followed his every movement. She noticed - as, surely, did the whole team - how he carefully, obsessively avoided getting close enough to touch her, even an accidental brush of arm against arm. Jackson stared at him across the conference room table every morning, and the man who stared back out of Spencer Reid's familiar, beloved deep-set hazel eyes was a stranger to her.
She wanted a moment alone with him, just a quiet second where she could remind him of the closeness they'd begun to share as the two youngest members of the team, as the Freaks. She wanted to see the smile brighten his face, hear his nervous laughter - or, better, the real laugh that so few were privileged to hear. She wanted to run her fingertip between his brows and smooth away the worry line that had become a permanent feature there.
She knew what kind of toll such an experience could take. She'd been through something similar early in her career with the Agency. He didn't have to talk. He didn't have to let her read him. She just wanted to know he was ok, or at least that he would be.
When Hotch forced them together as he'd been wont to do since that first case back in Detroit (though until Henkel it hadn't been forced - they'd worked well together, and always enjoyed it), Reid was sullen, withdrawn. He snapped at her, made snide comments when he disagreed with her, and generally made an ass of himself. Now, today...he knew her rule, he knew how she worked, and yet he'd said...
She was fed up, practically speechless with hurt and fury. That was how Morgan found her, angry and brooding on it, in a Starbucks down the block from the St. Augustine police station.
"Hey, pint size; we were missing you," he said by way of greeting.
She gave her BlackBerry a meaningful glance. "Not so much. No missed calls."
He frowned. Growing up with two sisters had taught him a thing or two about dealing with pissed off women. It was why Hotch had sent him to find her. He gestured to the small cup on the table by her elbow. "What ya drinkin'? I'm buyin'."
"Upside down doppio con panna," she replied shortly.
He blinked. "Upside down whatta con whatta? You can't just drink coffee?"
She softened enough to look up at him, her lips twitching just a little. "It's two shots of espresso on whipped cream, but I think I've reached my limit of caffeine-laced fat today. Just some water would be fine."
He returned shortly with a Venti coffee and an ice water. Taking the chair next to hers, he sipped contemplatively. "So," he began at last, "what's crawled up Reid's ass, huh?"
She snorted. "Damn profilers. You boys don't miss a trick."
He shrugged, an easy grin unfurling across his handsome, chiseled features. "It's why I'm rollin' in honeys."
"You did not just say that."
He wagged his brows at her and took another sip of coffee. As he lowered the cup, his face took on a somber cast. "Seriously, Jack, I know the kid's been bein' a dick to you lately. We've all seen it. What he did today was completely out of line. You know none of us think that. Hell, he doesn't even think that."
"Hmm. So he told you." She looked down, fiddled with the straw in her cup of water. "He's been through a lot."
"Yeah. That doesn't give him license to disrespect you."
Her head snapped up, eyes flashing. "I know that, Derek. But, honestly, can you blame him? He went through hell and we all watched. If it were you, would you want me anywhere near you? Would you want me in your head, seeing all that pain and insecurity? I sure as hell wouldn't."
He fell back in his chair as though the string of furious words from the petite brunette had been paired with physical blows from someone much larger. He hadn't really thought about why Reid was acting like he was beyond the obvious residual trauma from his ordeal. Morgan considered, remembering how she'd helped him after all that shit went down in Chicago. The kid clearly didn't have his head on straight. "You wouldn't look, though," he finally said.
"No," she asserted, shaking her head vehemently, "not if I could help it. Spencer knows that. Derek, he's deliberately hiding something from me, something big. I'm really scared to find out what it might be."
Morgan set his cup down on the table. His hands were shaking. He cared about that damn kid, and if he were in some sort of trouble... "You two were close, right? Before."
"Yes," she said softly, regret shading her voice. "Before...we were."
He didn't inquire about the nature of that closeness, though he and Garcia had debated it many times - were the team's youngest members secret lovers? Garcia, the romantic, said yes, but Morgan leaned toward no. He cleared his throat, focusing his attention back on Jackson. "You don't think he'd talk to you, though, if he had the chance?"
"I honestly don't know. Maybe?"
"Have you discussed any of this with Gideon?"
Her gaze drifted away to the window. People, tourists and students, streamed past in a colorful parade. "I could try." She looked back at him, her normally clear green eyes opaque with secrets. "Gideon and I have a history, as you know. It makes it hard to talk to him sometimes."
"You know he's noticed. Reid's like a son to him. He'll listen, and he'll help if he can - in his way."
"Like he helped you in Chicago?" It was an unfair question, and she knew it. Morgan had gone to Gideon with problems in the past, it's just that after revealing such painful secrets about himself, he hadn't been able to face any of his fellow team members. Jackson, stubborn as she was, had simply refused to leave him alone.
"Whoa," he was saying, hands raised, "you know who helped me after all that. It's why I'm here now."
The corner of her mouth lifted a little. "And here I thought it was because Hotch made you come, son of a single mom, brother of two sisters."
He rolled his eyes. "Hotch is scared of women. It's a fact. I'll never know how he landed Haley."
"Dimples," she replied, reaching over to tap Morgan on his cheek. "That's the real reason you're rollin' in honeys."
He grinned, flashing said dimples. "If you and the kid can't work things out, I'll get rid of all of 'em and pledge my undying devotion to you."
"Didn't you already promise Garcia the same thing?"
"Probably, but she didn't believe me."
"Smart woman," she told him with a smirk. Her smile gradually faded, and a silence fell between them. Jackson shifted in her chair. Cleared her throat. "Derek, about Reid and I..."
"It's none of my business."
"I know you and Garcia talk about it."
"Yeah, but we talk about a lot of things."
She glanced away, then back. "We were only ever just friends. It was never...romantic."
He raised a brow at her. "You just won me five bucks."
"I guess you owe me two fifty," she replied, full mouth curving.
Morgan sighed and ran a large, long-fingered hand over his smooth head. "You know he didn't mean it, Jack," he repeated softly. "Special ability or not, you're a great asset to this team. We all believe that."
"Thank you," she replied in a small, quiet voice. "I mostly believe that's true, but it's still good to hear sometimes."
"Think you're ready to head back now?"
"I guess I can't pout forever, can I? We have an UnSub to find."
He grinned and got to his feet. Held out his hand for her. "Come on, pint size. Let's get back to it."
Here's an example of changing St. Augustine's geography. There's no Starbucks near the police station, and I apologize for actually mentioning it by name...but Jack wanted a doppio con panna, and I've never ordered one anywhere but at Starbucks. (though I'm sure you can get them anywhere...just not necessarily by the fancy name...)