"You know, Agent Rossi, I really do not understand this anomaly called love," Reid sighed, looking around the tavern that the team had gathered in to celebrate the close of their latest case.
"What is there to understand, Reid?" Dave sighed, dreading the philosophical conversation that he had a feeling would follow.
"For starters, what the devil IS it? A chemical reaction? Scientifically, that makes sense, I suppose," Reid mused.
"I don't think so, son," Dave laughed.
Looking around at the various couples in the bar, Reid shook his head. "I understand sexual compatibility. I get that. But, love?"
Sighing, Dave realized that he wasn't going to be able to avoid this conversation with the younger man. And not for the first time, he really wished Gideon were around. At least he'd be off the hook then. "Reid, I don't think love is about passion, son. It's about contentment. Passion dissipates with time. It runs it's course and then it fades. Love lasts," Dave said, his eyes slowly finding JJ across the room. "Love is about being content. Content in the knowledge that the person you love is there…no matter what. Being in love doesn't always mean that you're ridiculously happy. It means that at any given moment you're content with the person you're with. It's stability and endurability. It's safe and it's comfortable."
"You learned all this during your three marriages," Reid asked, curiosity eating him alive.
Laughing, Dave shook his head. "Nope. I only realized it fairly recently. You see, I confused the passion of the moment with love fairly often. JJ taught me the difference."
"I'm sorry, Agent Rossi, but I still don't understand how you could misinterpret the emotion three times."
He should have known Reid wouldn't release the subject without a fight. When the kid was in search of answers, he was like a dog with a bone. "Marriage number one was all about expectations, Reid. We'd been together all through high school and our families were from the same neighborhood. Everybody expected us to get married after high school, so we did. It seemed like the logical progression. We found out later that beyond our families and our shared background, that we really were two completely different people with completely different ideas of how we wanted our lives to be. It was no one's fault really. We just wanted different things. I cared about her and she cared for me, but that wasn't love."
"And marriage number two?" Reid asked.
"Rebound. I was lonely and my addled mind confused lust with love. When I finally opened my eyes a year later, I realized there was no way I could see myself with that woman in fifty years time. And before you ask, marriage number three, well, that was the biggest fiasco of all."
"Because, for seven years, I tried to convince myself that marriage equaled love. Trust me, kid - it' doesn't. Love defies anything you can write down on a piece of paper or find in any man-made law."
"And all this led you to the real thing with JJ?" Reid asked, growing more confused.
"Yep. See, son, when you find the right woman…it all sort of falls into place. You take all those things you learned in previous relationships and apply them. You find that love doesn't have to blow your ass out of the water…that it can be all about contentment. JJ taught me that. And, believe me, she's more than worth anything I had to live through…because in the end, it led me to her."
"Life really is an evolving lesson, isn't it, Agent Rossi?" Reid asked with a tilted head.
"One that we never stop learning, son," Dave smiled, his eyes finding her across the room once more.