A/N: I've been meaning to write this for a while. It's fairly short (under 5k) and I'm still ambiguous in how I think it turned out. I've always been fascinated with the idea of Gideon actually being Rube, and how it'd affect his work at the FBI. I'm also working on another fic that briefly touches upon the time Gideon/Rube had with the team prior to leaving them. So I guess this could count as either part of that or as a stand-alone fic. Feedback is, as always, appreciated.

Disclaimer: Dead Like Me and Criminal Minds are not mine. The lyrics belong to Lifehouse.

The broken clock is a comfort, it helps me sleep tonight
Maybe it can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time
I am here still waiting, though I still have my doubts
I am damaged at best, like you've already figured out…

He'd reaped very few souls since he had first joined the FBI. Which made sense, he supposed. His entire assignment had been to prevent unscheduled deaths. Serial killers seemed to throw off Death's entire system, creating a backlog and far more paperwork and unwanted souls than Death wanted to deal with. The number of serial killers, particularly in the United States division, during the last one hundred years had been steadily increasing. Even Gravelings hated serial killers; serial killers took the fun out of setting up accidents and wreaking havoc, the pinnacle of the Gravelings' activities. The more unscheduled deaths, the less scheduled deaths that could occur, cutting into the creativity of the Gravelings.

But still, there were souls he reaped, however few they were. The boy in the Idaho forest, playing the Most Dangerous Game. A sad smile as he stroked the boy's face, feeling more pity than anger at the young man as he took his soul before the young man's eyes faded out forever.

And he was grateful. He was not required to reap people… at least not when they were still breathing, before the pain of whatever tortures inflicted on them. Normally, they were dead. The fresher, intact ones already autopsied. At worse, the victims dismembered, cremated, burned beyond all recognition. Buried in the woods, the souls forced to feel the bodies rot and decomposed before they were found; unless they turned into Gravelings, although very few did.

Luckily, of course, many of the professions that worked with death -morticians, medical examiners, coroners, doctors, and other police officers- were reapers themselves, and helped the souls along the way after whatever torture was endured. He'd encountered many of them in his travels with the BAU, each knowing what the other was.

And occasionally, the souls reaped would tell exactly who or what had killed them, aiding whatever investigation taking place. Often times, new evidence pointing in the direction of a certain suspect would just happen to come up after certain individuals came into contact with the deceased. No one questioned it, and these individuals would become known as some of the best in their respective fields. Himself, included.

But serial killers… They were the ones he was required to hunt down and stop. Death had assigned him to work the FBI to take care of the 'poachers.' Which is what serial killers did, in a way. They poached on Death's territory, hunting game that was not in-season. As a result, it created a lot more work for Death, on a planet with seven billion people and trillions of animals; all that needed managed through natural causes, accidents, wars, whatever it took when someone was scheduled to die. The schedule was the key… in screwing up the schedule, someone who needed reaped would live past their due, even just seconds, which would cause their soul to begin its slow decomposition in the body. Which was Bad, for reasons Reapers were not meant to understand.

So Rube Sofer became Jason Gideon, and, approximately sixty years after his death, joined the FBI. He became a mentor to his team. Guiding them past their nightmares, past the bloodbath and desolate crime scenes, to help them grow and reach their potential. He felt a parental affection towards them; an emotion he hadn't felt since his days with Rosie… His days as an actual father, which he had pissed away robbing banks.

In the years following his initial acceptance into the FBI, though he would become somewhat desensitized to the carnage he saw, he would still be shocked at the level of cruelty mankind could attain, over and over again. The reason why he kept the names and photographs of the ones he saved: To remind him of the good in the world, the fact that he was actually making a difference beyond the beaurocratic whims of Death. The longer the list grew, the more photographs taking up space on his desk, the brighter his world seemed, and the closer he felt to reaching his Lights. The more happy endings he believed in.

The broken locks were a warning you got inside my head
I tried my best to be guarded, I'm an open book instead
I still see your reflection inside of my eyes
That are looking for a purpose, they're still looking for life

And then he met Frank. Who ripped that all away from him, as revenge for taking away the one woman the psychopath fell in love with. Jane, the woman Gideon saw with curious Gravelings following in her shadows. He warned her, tried to stop her from following the Frank, knowing that if she did, her death would be imminent at the hands of Frank. Frank was the man that broke him.

To say that Frank had been the worst Gideon had ever seen would be an understatement. The dismemberment while the victims were still alive and conscious with a full-length mirror suspended above them. The missing and traumatized souls of the deceased... Gideon had always wondered what kind of effects such an event could incur on the victim's soul and what would happen to them afterwards; if and how they reached their Lights. Or if they also became Reapers or Gravelings… All in speculation, but from what he had seen over the years, not all souls received happy endings.

When Frank and Jane disappeared in that Desert, Gideon hoped that he would never cross paths with the man again, but knew some day, the day would come when they met again.

The night arrived with the presence of Jane. And then the woman he was finally getting close to, the only living person he felt attracted to in years, was dead; torn to pieces in his bed room, turning Gideon into a murder suspect. And it didn't stop there, with his black book of names and his photographs, Frank systematically began destroying lives Gideon had previously saved.

After it was over; after Frank and Jane's deaths, he felt empty. Like his own soul was gone. He became too numb to be bothered by the more gruesome aspects of his work. After Frank, he just… could no longer cope. It was when he finally began drawing similarities between himself and the psychopath that he knew he needed to get out. He felt as if he were suffocating beneath what he had been through and done. What he had become. Everything he had lost, he wanted to search for and find again.

I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain is there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on,
I'm barely holdin' on to you

And so in the dead of night, he wrote his letter to the one person he knew would come looking for him, leaving his gun and badge for Spencer to find as well. And just like that, he left.

He needed to find meaning again. He had lost his belief in happy endings, and it devastated him.

His brief conversation with the waitress rang in his ears as he left the diner.

He didn't know where he was going, how he was getting there, or what he was going to do.

He wanted a sign that everything was going to be alright. Perhaps point him in a direction that would heal his wounds. He was ready.

He heard Seattle had a Reaping position available…

He was determined that he was going to find his happy ending.

He was not broken.

I'm hanging on another day
Just to see what you will throw my way
And I'm hanging on to the words you say
You said that I will be okay.

The broken lights on the freeway left me here alone
I may have lost my way now, haven't forgotten my way home.