Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Criminal Minds. Much as I wish I did...
A/N: This is my first attempt at a fic for this fandom, and I'm pretty sure it sucks. But this actually happened to me at work, so I wrote this and had to post it for Greg, Martin, PJ, and the rest of my "family" both at McIntosh, and at Clay County. So enjoy if you can, and feel free to review. Thanks for putting up with my insanity!
"I'm sorry, Haley. I really am. But there's nothing I can do! Even if I wasn't needed here, I couldn't make it back from Seattle in time anyway." Hotch winced, holding the phone at arms length away from his ear. It didn't help. His wife's angry words were still clear, not only to him, but to Gideon sitting across from him. Gideon shot him a sympathetic look, but said nothing.
After a few minutes of being called everything the English language had to offer, he pulled the cell phone back to his ear just in time to hear the tell-tale click that said he had lost another round. He sighed loudly and let his head fall back against the head rest of his seat on the plane.
"She sounds mad," Gideon remarked conversationally. He was pretty sure Hotch didn't want to talk about it, but he wanted to make sure his colleague knew he was willing to listen if it would help.
Usually, Hotch would just shake it off, but this time he took him up on the unspoken offer. Slipping the phone in his pocket, he said, "Her great aunt died. The funeral is tonight."
"Wow. That sucks, man," Morgan said, leaning over from across the aisle. "Were they close?"
Hotch shook his head. "Not really, no. I mean, they talked on the phone once in a while, but she hadn't seen her in six months." He shook his head. "I know…I should be there for her, but I didn't know until this morning, and I was already on my way to the plane. They didn't even call her until now, and she knows I can't just drop everything when we have a case!" He realized two things at that moment. First, that he sounded really, REALLY insensitive, and second, that everyone on the plane was staring at him.
He closed his eyes and tried to regroup. "I'm sorry. That sounded really bad. It's just…" He turned to JJ. "If your husband…you know, future husband…was needed elsewhere…you'd understand, right?"
She smiled at him. "I missed my own great aunt's funeral on this job."
Morgan nodded. "What we do is important. She understands that, she's just upset right now."
Hotch shrugged. "I hate funerals anyway. If I wasn't here, I would have found some way to get out of it."
Nodding, Gideon agreed. "I hate funerals too, but they're a necessary evil. Especially with what we do."
The team took a moment of silence to think over that last statement, when Reid cleared his throat from behind them. They all turned to him expectantly, prepared for a statement on Native American burial rituals or Egyptian mummification. Instead, the young genius said, "Uh, you guys would come to my funeral, right?"
The other five agents froze. They thought they were immune to the random trains of thought their youngest member took, the leaps of logic that seemed insane to others but made perfect sense to a mind that moved as fast as his. Morgan and Hotch recovered first, and simultaneously opened their mouths to respond in the affirmative when Gideon stood up.
He walked over to where Reid was and sat down in front of him. The older profiler made sure he had the younger man's full attention before he spoke. "No, Reid. We would not."
A brief look of hurt crossed Reid's face and Morgan stepped forward to intervene. Hotch put a hand on his shoulder, shaking his head, effectively stopping him. He knew that Gideon would never say something as potentially hurtful to the fragile psyche as those words without good reason. They all loved Reid like a younger brother, and if what Gideon had to say was worth causing him pain over, then it damn well was important!
Searching his protégé's eyes carefully for understanding, Gideon proceeded in a gruff, authoritative voce, like the senior agent he was rather than the father-figure he tried to be. "We won't go to your funeral. Here's why: I am your senior agent. Agent Hotchner is your team leader. And you absolutely DO NOT have our permission to die."
They stared each other down for several long seconds, before the corner of Gideon's mouth turned up in his muted smiled. On the cue, Reid grinned, and Morgan and Hotch chuckled quietly. And Reid had an epiphany. 'They don't want to think about anything happening to me' he thought, his grin getting broader. 'It hurts them somehow to think of me dying.' And then the conclusion even his genius brain had a hard time wrapping its self around. 'They care about me!!'
The rest of the team settled back in to what they were doing, but they still hadn't answered his question. Maybe it was only a question of wording. He decided to try again. "Okay, guys, how about this: A lifetime from now, when we're all old and grey and I have permission to die, will you come to my funeral?"
This time, Morgan was the first to respond. He clapped his friend on the shoulder and laughed. "Not a chance, man! By the time you have our permission to die, you'll have been to all of ours!"
Spencer Reid ignored the unpleasant prospect, and simply took in the sentiment behind the words. They cared about him.