Criminal Minds

Author's Note: For the TV Prompt: Heroes: How to Stop an Exploding Man. Hope you enjoy! Reviews make my day.

She rubs her fingers against his temple gently, can feel the twitching underneath. Her throat closes as she witnesses his pain. Hasn't he gone through enough? He's sweating again, his breathing is rapid – but for the first time, he's asleep. He hasn't really slept since Henkel. He's fallen asleep on her shoulder, but she doesn't mind. The TV rapidly changes colors, and she's afraid it'll wake him. With a careful hand, she reaches over and attempts to grab the remote.

It clatters to the floor. In the silence of Spencer Reid's apartment, it sounds like a bomb.

He's bolted upright with a cry nearly before JJ can think, but she's done this more than once in the past few days – the whole team has.

She grabs hold of him before he can stumble and hurt himself; his eyes are wild. "You're alright. It's me. Breathe." His eyes calm but there are tears on his face. Her heart breaks. "Spence, it's JJ. You're okay."

But in reality, he's not, and she knows it. The team has watched over him since his release from the hospital – watched over him during withdrawal. She can see how hard it is for him. She'd promised him it was over, in the hospital. She'd lied. He is safe at home and still in pain.

Before she even knows what she's doing, she's pulled him into a hug and is rubbing his back in soothing circles. He's taking in air as if he won't get another chance.

"It's alright." She whispers. "It's okay – it was just the remote." She speaks soothingly, can feel the harsh way he's breathing. "You're alright. Nobody's going to hurt you." She can hear his breathing slow, if only slightly. "Come on, let's sit back down." He sighs and she guides him towards the couch. He curls himself into the corner of it, his knees to his chest and arms wrapped around them.

Quietly, she sits down on the other end, giving him a bit of space. She rests her head on the back of the couch. It's hard to watch him struggle, the youngest, seemingly their most innocent member. Who thought that they had the right to take that from him?

She watches him for a moment before asking softly, "Can I hold your hand?"

The request shocks him, his hazel eyes widen in questioning, but he holds out his hand for her, which she takes in both of hers. The warmness calms him, if only for a moment.

"Now close your eyes, Spence."

"W… what?" He asks, panicked, and it breaks her heart. He's beginning to fidget again, his hair is plastered to his forehead.

"Relax." She says, offering a smile. "Put your head against the couch and close your eyes." He does, and she opens his hand between hers, massaging his palm. "I'm right here. Nobody's going to hurt you."

He heaves a final sigh before drifting asleep, and she's left wondering why the good ones always get hurt.


Next door, the kids come home from school. They've got dogs – two of them – and they're excited to see each other.

The dogs bark. It's only an hour or two after both Reid and JJ fell asleep.

She awakes with a startled cry, bolting into standing, much like him hours ago. "Reid!" The cry is involuntary, and she remembers where she is, a hand clamps itself over her mouth. Her blue eyes fall to him – he's woken up, and it looking at her curiously, if not with a bit of concern.

But he's not fidgeting, or sweating, and he's not panicked.

"The dogs," She explains, her voice shaky as she looks around for their source before slowly sitting down next to him again, her eyes embarrassed. "I thought…" She trails off, sighing. "I guess we're both still a bit spooked."

He smiles gently and takes her hand as she did for him before. His eyes are clearer, more bright, then they have been in days. "It's alright, JJ. You're safe here."

She laughs gently. "You're stronger than I am, Spence."

"Not really." He confides, reaching up to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear, moving closer, his eyes asking what he hadn't had the nerve to do on her porch after that Redskins game.

"Yes." She answers, and its two answers in one and their lips meet.

She knows how to stop an exploding man.