Characters: whole team; OFC
Genre: Humor; AU
Timeline: early season 4
Summary: After a particularly brutal case, the team gathers at a local watering hole to unwind and end up sharing their "worst" fears. Inspired by Kavi and Sienna's Halloween prompts on ff.net.
Prompt: Supernatural: "Everybody Loves a Clown"
Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
-Robert Louis Stevenson
"Spill it, Jack," Morgan persisted, dark eyes sparkling as he nudged his friend and colleague. "It's your turn!"
Elliot Jackson, the team's newest member, shook her head, short dark hair swinging. "No way. I said I didn't want to play."
"Aw, pumpkin, don't be a party pooper!" Garcia chided, full mouth forming into a pout. As Jackson continued to look reluctant, Garcia let out a deep sigh. "Ok, ok, I'll go," she said, her eager tone belying the melodramatic exhalation.
"No, Garcia, it's Jack's turn, and I wanna know!" J.J said as she knocked back her drink. Diet Coke, she thought a little sadly, since she wanted the sea monkey growing in her belly to emerge relatively normal.
"Guys, if she doesn't want to play, we shouldn't force her," Reid spoke up. "Or at least," he added with a mischievous grin, "we shouldn't make her go first. Go ahead, Garcia."
"Well," the technical analyst said with her usual relish, "it's probably gonna sound silly to a bunch of brave crime fighting super heroes like you guys, but it's mine and it's damn scary!"
Aaron Hotchner, the team's normally deadly-serious leader, flashed his dimples. "We won't laugh, Garcia. Scout's honor." He held up two fingers, and Rossi reached out to grab his shoulder, steadying him as he wobbled on the stool.
"Whoa there," Rossi said, laughing. "How many Guinnesses does that make?"
Hotch stared down into his glass, frowning. "Two. Just two. I am not drunk," he told his former mentor with the careful dignity of the very-nearly intoxicated.
The FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit were all gathered at their favorite local watering hole unwinding after a particularly brutal case. It had involved...well, details were better left at the bottom of glasses or out on the dance floor. The evidence was written all over their faces: Hotch, for one, had had a few more than two Guinnesses, and he had been staring glumly into his glass when Morgan had proposed a game.
It was almost Halloween, Reid's favorite holiday (though Morgan himself barely considered it such), so maybe it was time for the team to start making a few Halloweenish confessions. What was each person's worst fear? Morgan had asked. Jackson, as the newest member of the team, had been chosen as the sacrificial lamb to go first, but kind-hearted Garcia had interceded on her behalf.
"Hey, can we focus?" Reid said, pulling everyone's attention back to the game. "Garcia was about to bare her soul. Some respect, please." He, of course, was drinking ginger ale, so he was a bit more with it than some of his coworkers. Halloween was his favorite holiday, though (even if Morgan barely considered it a holiday at all), so the spirit of the game was infecting him, helping him scrub away some of the memories that haunted them all. It was better medicine than the needle, he reflected.
"Right. Soul-baring," Rossi said. "Carry on, Garcia."
She cleared her throat dramatically. "As I was saying. Have any of you ever read The Shining?"
"Roque mallets? You're scared of roque mallets?" Morgan interrupted.
She glared. "No! I'm deathly afraid of topiaries," she said in a rush.
"Jackrabbits on a hotplate," Jackson said in one of her unusual exclamations, "that is the scariest shit ever! Fuckin' topiaries."
Reid blinked. Jackson didn't curse much, and her weird substitutions where most people would throw out an "oh my God" never ceased to surprise him. "What's so scary about topiaries?" he asked.
"You've gotta read it!" Garcia said. "They come to life. There's a bunny one..." She shuddered, overcome with horror.
"Can you imagine that directed by Stanley Kubrick?" Jackson said, nearly spilling her drink in her enthusiasm.
"I never would've slept again!" Garcia wailed.
"Ok, Garcia, you win. Those topiaries are pretty fuckin' scary," Morgan conceded.
Rossi nodded, stroking his goatee. "All around, a very frightening book."
"Wait," J.J. said, "how can Garcia win? We've only just started! It's my turn."
Morgan raised a dark brow, laughing. "J.J. gettin' competitive! Ok, Blondie, what's yours?"
J.J. swallowed, realizing that she could go one of two ways with her answer. She could tell the team her real fear, ruining the spirit of the game, or she could come up with something half-silly, like Garcia had done. I'm afraid of bringing a child into this world, she thought. I'm afraid of monsters like the one we just saw, like the ones we see every day. What if such a monster came for my baby? My man? Me? How can I even be thinking...
She let her thoughts trail away, and when she looked up from her drink she realized the rest of the team was staring at her with intense, serious eyes. They could all read the thoughts written on her face as if she had spoken them aloud. J.J. shook her head, struggling to smile. "Cows," she said.
"Like Scarlett O'Hara?" Jackson asked, letting the dark moment pass into frivolity once again.
"Yes," J.J. said with a grateful laugh, "like Scarlett O'Hara."
"I'd think Scarlett O'Hara would be more afraid of Yankees than cows," Garcia remarked, taking a long pull of her violently pink drink.
"Why cows exactly?" Reid wanted to know.
"Nothing weird or complex. When I was a little girl I almost got kicked in the face by a cow. They look so placid and harmless, but really they're evil."
"Never trust a farm animal," Morgan said, nodding sagely. "Every city boy knows that."
"I'm goin' to get more drinks," Hotch announced, rising from his stool. "Nobody confess anything while I'm gone."
"Nuh uh," Rossi said, pulling him back down with a hand on the shoulder. "We're cutting you off. How about a ginger ale, like Reid?"
"Ginger ale!" Hotch spluttered. "I'm a Guinness man!"
"How about you take your turn, Hotch?" Jackson suggested, hoping to distract him.
He sank back onto the stool, his expression going from slightly sloppy to somber like someone had flipped a switch inside. "Monkeys," he said in a serious, measured tone. "The small, chittering kind of monkey that steals your underwear off the clothesline then mocks you with it. They have sharp teeth and clever brains, and they're mean. I don't like monkeys."
The team exchanged mutually astounded glances. Abruptly Morgan boomed out a laugh. "Hotch, man, we're definitely cuttin' you off. Monkeys? What kinda shit is that?!"
He looked nothing short of sulky. "I thought we agreed no laughing."
"It's alright, sir," Garcia said sympathetically, "that kind of monkey gives me the whim-whams, too."
"Thanks, Garcia," he said, patting her hand. "That means a lot. Morgan, since you're so quick to judge, why don't you go next?"
"Fine, I will," he said, thrusting out his chest. "At least mine's real." He tossed back his drink and smacked the glass down onto the tabletop. "Ever since I read Poe in high school, I've been afraid of being buried alive."
"The Premature Burial, The Cask of Amontillado," Reid mused.
Morgan nodded, jaw tense. "Yep. Scary shit."
"Are you going to have a tomb outfitted with an alarm bell?" Jackson asked, lips curving. "That was very popular back in Poe's time."
Morgan snorted. "I really hope medicine's come along since then. Plus once they embalm me, I assume that's pretty much it. Ok, pretty boy, your turn."
The young agent looked uncomfortable. Like J.J., he wondered if he should tell the truth or go with something silly. His biggest fear was himself, his addiction, losing everything and everyone he'd come to love and count on. His mouth quirked. "Seagulls," he decided at last.
"Here we go again," Morgan exclaimed. "Seagulls? Come on, man, they're birds!"
"Have you ever seen The Birds, handsome? Birds can be vicious," Garcia said.
"Have you ever had popcorn at the beach?" Reid said. "Seagulls are the most vicious birds of all."
Garcia nodded enthusiastically. "I nearly lost an eye to a seagull once." She received skeptical looks all around, and she ducked her head, blushing. "Ok, it wasn't quite that bad. But I did lose the flower in my hair!"
Jackson blinked at her. "Garcia, how do you ever emerge from your cubby? Topiaries, monkeys, seagulls...the entire animal kingdom, even when rendered in flora, is out to get you!"
"It's a struggle, Jackiepoo, but the title of 'crazy recluse girl' just doesn't fit me."
Morgan grinned. "And we're so glad of that, baby girl!"
"I bet I can guess Dave's," J.J. said, grinning over at him, dark blue eyes dancing with mischief.
"I think we can all guess Dave's," Hotch said, rolling his eyes a little.
"His exes!" they all chorused, much to Rossi's chagrin.
"Hey, hey, they don't hate me that much." A small silence, then, "Ok, maybe they do. So, yeah, I guess my exes." He grinned a small, self-deprecating smile before turning his dark-eyed gaze onto the newest member of the team. "That's it, kiddo. Your turn."
"Ah." She cleared her throat, fidgeting a little as all eyes turned in her direction. "I feel silly now."
"Come on, Jack," J.J. encouraged. "What's sillier than monkeys?"
"Monkeys are not silly!" Hotch insisted.
"Ok, ok." She took a deep breath. "I'm afraid of clowns," she admitted.
"Ironically, clowns actually are silly," Reid remarked.
"Spencer!" she said, smacking him on the arm.
"Ow. Seriously, though, coulrophobia is incredibly common. More common, I'd think, than being afraid of monkeys or topiaries."
Garcia and Hotch scowled. "I totally blame Stephen King for all of this," Garcia said airily. "IT and The Shining were way too scary. It's not right."
"Ohh, hey, did you ever read those Dean Koontz books with the evil monkeys? I'll hand it to ya, Hotch, those were scary-ass monkeys, with the gleaming eyes and the suped-up brains," Morgan said.
Hotch gave him a deadly look. "No. I never read that."
"Ok, how about another round, everybody? It's on me," Rossi said. He rose and moved toward the bar. Morgan asked Garcia to dance, and J.J. tried to talk Hotch out of attempting karaoke.
Reid glanced over at Jackson. She was watching the rest of the team, her glass-green eyes brighter than they'd been since before J.J. had presented this last, harrowing case to them. "I don't like clowns either," he admitted quietly.
Her smile seemed to brighten the whole room, and he realized with a lurch that until tonight he hadn't seen the expression in almost a week. "I don't like seagulls. They're mean, and they poop a lot."
Reid passed her a mini Snickers. "Happy Halloween, Jack," he said, hazel eyes bright with boyish glee.
She laughed, ripping open the wrapper and taking a bite. "Happy Halloween, boy genius," she replied.
I'm afraid of topiaries, thanks to The Shining. If you've only seen the movie and never read the book, run out and buy it now. It scared the beejeezus outta me. For reals.
Hotch is perhaps (heh) a bit OOC in this story, but I feel like he does loosen up every once in a while. I think I'll probably end up writing a story that comes before this featuring the case that has them all so shell-shocked here, and maybe we'll all understand why he's getting nearly-intoxicated. Also, I suspect the plural of "Guinness" might be "Guinness," not "Guinnesses," but c'est la vie.