Shadows of the Mind

To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Sun Tzu


Reid dropped the sword, but it was not out of shock, or even defeat. He knew that this battle was not one that could be fought with weapons, metaphorical or otherwise. Because in the end, it was a battle of the mind.

The other Reid – he found himself calling it the Construct – simply stared at him.

'So that's it? You're just going to give up, stop fighting? That's very uncharacteristic of you, Spencer.'

'I haven't stopped fighting,' whispered Reid quietly – he knew the Construct could hear him no matter what volume he spoke at. 'I will never stop fighting.'

Realistically, he knew that this Construct was trying to bait him, but that didn't stop him from feeling admonished.

'In the end, you're weak, Spencer. You know that. How many times has the sadistic killer tried to take it out on you? How many times have you relied on your friends to save you? You might try to save yourself, but in the end, you can never win.'

Reid found himself nodding. You could never put the demons to rest forever. Ever. This, he knew.

'You're afraid of me, aren't you.' the Construct accused.

'Yes,' he said. 'But I accepted that a long time ago.

The Construct smiled, and it was a strange, twisted smile. 'That's all it ever takes, Spencer. Acceptance. Now are you ready to go home?'

Reid stared around himself, at the strange, forbidding tunnels, at the manifestations of his mind. He had found the demons. He had accepted that he could never beat them off entirely. It had been a productive experience, hadn't it?

'I'm ready,' he said. In a way, he felt almost underwhelmed.

And then the world dropped away around him.

It was Morgan who first noticed the changes in the unconscious Reid. He was still squeezing the young genius's hand, suddenly aware of the fact that the hand was squeezing back.

'Reid,' he said, causing the rest of the team to refocus their attention. 'Reid?'

Reid's awakening was much less violent than Emily's had been. He blinked his eyes open slowly, observing his surroundings. This was the familiar world he remembered.

'I…ugh.' It hurt to move, hurt to speak. He tried to sit up, and only did so successfully with help from Morgan and Garcia. 'Emily, is she…?'

Morgan gave a half smile. 'Look to the left, boy genius.' His heart skipped a beat when he saw her lying there, worse for wear, but alive nonetheless. He reached out a hand, the distance between the beds being small enough that their fingers could just brush.

'Did you tell them?' he asked, moving past the pain.

'I told them, but they didn't believe me.' She gave a shrug, followed by a wince.

'What,' joked Morgan. 'So the two of you really were fighting demons inside Reid's mind?'

Reid almost laughed. 'That was the best way you could describe it?'

'What would you have suggested?'

'I don't know…that you were helping me through some personal things?'

She nodded. 'Right. While we were both unconscious.'

'It still sounds better than "helping me slay demons!"'

At that point, Rossi intervened. 'I think perhaps we should leave these two alone for a bit – let them work out their issues.' He gave a slight eyebrow raise, as if he found the circumstances rather strange, but wasn't going to comment on it. 'The doctor should be in to check on you soon, Reid.'

Emily gave him a smile, and briefly, he wondered how this was going to affect their working relationship. She had seen parts of him that he had never let anyone see before. It comforted him somewhat to know that she wasn't running away screaming, but that was probably due to the fact that she was confined to a hospital bed.

'I think…' he started. 'I think everything's going to be okay.'

Three weeks later.

Morgan sat at his desk, rummaging through the untidy pile of files he was supposed to be reading through. A mug of coffee sat untouched. It was just past nine a.m, and Reid wasn't in yet.

'Did you speak to Reid?' he asked Emily, who, like him, was trapped in the throes of her paperwork. Today was her first day back.

'I spoke to him last night,' she said, not looking up from the file she was scanning. 'He's coming in today. He's in the elevator now.'

It took several seconds for Morgan to process what she had said, and several more for Emily herself to realize it. As if on command, Reid entered the bullpen a little under a minute later.

'You had to have planned that,' said Morgan accusingly. 'There is no way you knew he was in the elevator.'

'You knew I was in the elevator?' asked Reid curiously. 'I guess mind-melding has longer lasting side-effects than we thought.'

Morgan sighed, before returning his focus to the file in front of him.

Things were certainly going to be more interesting around the office.