Their Christmas Candle

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Unknown

Everyone sits. Everyone laughs. Exchanging presents and food and drink. Bright paper hats that don't seem to fit anyone add colour to the room. This white, white room.

Hotch and Gideon are silent. Always silent. Large smiles give them away.

JJ and Prentiss are dressed up. They look beautiful. JJ's shoes are especially nice.

Morgan sits and eats and laughs the loudest, making sure to say the jokes to be laughed at first. Prying the laughter from everyone else.

If anyone were to walk past the room at this moment it would be impossible to distinguish the slightest of differences in their usual behaviour. But then, they are family. And they are profilers. They can tell. Morgan's laugh is just as loud and unrestrained as always, but his eyes are sad. JJ's eyes sparkle as much as always, but her fingers twitch every so often, wanting to reach for another's. Prentiss acts as strong and controlled as always; only those in the room notice how she bites her bottom lip occasionally to stop its tremors. Hotch and Gideon, both silent, both smiling. No one ever knows what goes on in their heads. But she can guess. It's the same thought that flits persistently through each of their minds every single second they spend here.

Reid. In the white, white room on the too-large bed in his too-large gown, looking as though he's drowning and its only today, of all days, that the team learn that he has been for quite some time. Not waving but drowning as a famous poet once said. She is sure Gideon would remember who it was. She is sure Reid would know.

They sit around him now in a protective circle. Nothing could possibly break through the defenses they have set up. Nothing except Reid's mind. His fantastic, inspiring, genius mind that has been doing that all along. Breaking down his defenses and crushing him, destroying him from the inside where they cannot reach. Where they can't protect. He had been too quiet. His occasional and brief moments full of fast facts and talkativeness amongst his characteristic reticence has been replaced by the near silence of nothing but light breathing.

Though, she finds, this is enough for now. Because in the brief silences in the room he can be heard still. He can be heard now.

He hasn't ruined Christmas. Just the opposite. They are together. Reid has managed to bring them all together on a day that they usually spend apart. They had all noticed his recent behaviour. How could they not? They had all tried to help, unsure of how they could and where the line was between helping and prying. No one wanted to pry. They had tried respecting his privacy. They had all watched from a distance as he slipped deeper into his own darkness, all unsure of what to do, how to help. All feeling useless and guilty and uncertain of what they could - or couldn't - do about it. And in being so uncertain, they had done nothing. The guilt was worse now.

They had all been saddened, no, distraught when the call from Gideon came.

It was he who had been most surprised this morning, Christmas morning, though she is unable to see it in his face now as she looks to him across the prone form on the bed. He who had been surprised by what he found when he checked in on Reid - checking that he was okay after a day of no word and still worried by the conversation they had shared the day before that which had left Gideon scared and shaken. Surprised to find that their young, brilliant genius was on the floor of his messy apartment, his much-loved books surrounding his broken body and an empty needle, an empty glass phial and a length of rubber tubing sitting so innocently near his head; he head he had been trapped in for too long. Surprised by only the faintest of life signs. Surprised by just how scary it was to watch him being wheeled, half dead, into the back of an ambulance that had shown up a frantic ten minutes later. Surprised by how much it hurt. Gideon hates surprises. They all know it. Now they know why.

They are all distraught in their own little ways. Some more noticeably than others. All sitting, eating, drinking, laughing and wishing for one of those fabled Christmas miracles. They all wonder why Reid would ever do that, why he was using, why he felt he had to, why he thought he couldn't go to them – any of them – for help. Why this had to happen to him. Why, why, why.

Only his suddenly fluttering lashes against his pale skin lift their spirits, and they soar as they see the spark is still there in his slowly opening eyes. They are a team. A unit. A family. And now they are finally all here. Her soft murmur is like a hug;

"Hey kid, Happy Christmas". And it is.

"A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; it makes no noise at all, but softly gives itself away." - Eva Logue


Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you so much for reading, especially to those who reviewed and helped along the way :) Sue1313, dailyangel, Lin Hades, Lessien-Calafalas, Lake-Of-The-Torches., ambrelynn and kimidragon (Cookies for all)

By the way, 'Not Waving But Drowning' is a poem by Stevie Smith that is particularly morbid and I thought of it while writing this chapter – especially when it came to Reid in this fic… it's not a bad poem, and also, just in case, this chapter's from Garcia's POV… hopefully the fact that she noticed JJ's shoes helped give it away :) (Anyone think that was an odd choice?) :) - and let me know if you think this fic needs summing up better or in Reid's words or a sequel or anything at all (I really enjoyed writing this and hearing what people thought of it so I'm open to anything :)

Hope everyone has a fantastic day (or few days depending on how you celebrate) and a great New Year.

Thanks for reading :)

Have fun, smile lots and stay safe x