Title: Invasion of the Nerds
Rating: PG
Criminal Minds
Universe: Born to be Mild (Part 8)
Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, Penelope Garcia, Jennifer Jareau – gen
Genre: Humor/Friendship
Reid explains a recent scientific discovery. Morgan is much less enthused about it.

When Morgan came back from lunch, Reid was reading.

Not entirely surprising, really.

After all, all the younger man ever seemed to do was Reid. Wake up, read, quote statistics, read, and so on. Sometimes, Morgan wondered whether he actually ever did anything else for fun. Reid didn't even turn around when Morgan set his half-empty coffee mug down on his desk. Usually, he'd give a brief, distracted wave, before returning to whatever he was doing.

'Interesting?' he asked, at which point Reid finally pulled his eyes away from the computer screen.

'A geomicrobiological study funded by NASA found bacterium in Mono Lake with the ability to survive on arsenic, rather than phosphorus,' he explained. That, it seemed, was what passed for a Spencer Reid "simplification." The only thing that Morgan had managed to glean from the words was "science."

'Okay,' he said, with a half-strained smile. 'Well…good luck with that.' Spurred on by what he had perceived as enthusiasm, Reid did not take the hint to just drop the subject, instead, beginning a long tirade on the implications of said scientific finding.

'…it means that life can develop – and even thrive – in conditions we never even thought possible, like on Jupiter, or—'

'What's he going on about now?' asked Garcia, sheath of files in hand.

'Aliens,' Morgan answered. 'I think.'

'Not aliens in the strictest sense of the word,' Reid clarified. 'But essentially, this means that the chances of extraterrestrial life are greater than we realized.'

'I think there are already aliens among us,' Morgan said, giving Garcia a look.

'Don't mind Morgan,' Emily interjected, as she walked past with her own lunch. 'He's only insulting you as a defence mechanism, because he has absolutely no idea what you're talking about.'

'Hey,' Morgan frowned. 'No profiling.'

Emily grinned. 'You just make it so easy, Derek.'

'So what exactly got you onto aliens?' Garcia asked, frowning.

Reid explained the discovery again, which sounded just as incomprehensible the second time.

'Oh, was this that NASA thing?' Garcia asked. 'Huh…that seems kind of…I dunno. Anticlimactic?'

'Well not all aliens come ready equipped with bow ties and time machines,' Emily reasoned. 'Some of them are busy probing people in the middle of the desert.'

'Actually, while the existence of extraterrestrial life is gaining scientific popularity, the idea of UFOs and alien abductions has much less credence. The thought that beings from another world travelled from hundreds or thousands or even millions of light years away just to—'

'Reid,' Emily cut in before he could get much further. 'I was kidding. I don't think anyone here believes in alien abductions.' She gave both Morgan and Garcia a quick, almost hopeful look, as if half afraid that one of them was going to contradict her.

'So do you think they'd be anything like us?' Garcia asked, perching on the edge of Morgan's desk, apparently having forgotten the files she was carrying, and the reason that she had come to the bullpen in the first place.

'Aliens?' Reid queried, to which Garcia nodded. 'Realistically, not. While there have been some discoveries of earth-like planets – even planets in the Goldilocks zone – the conditions under which life arose, and even the history of the planet, would have significant impact on the type of life.'

'Sorry, hot stuff.' Garcia gave Morgan a nudge. 'Looks like you won't get to make out with any green-skinned babes anytime soon.'

'Well, body paint is cheap,' Emily shrugged, seemingly regretting it almost immediately.

The telltale click of heels heralded JJ's arrival, and she looked almost amused to see them sitting there, discussing, of all things, aliens. It wasn't quite zombies, or robots, but it was close.

'Garcia,' JJ said, eyes on the technical analyst. 'Did you have those files I asked for?'

Garcia stood immediately, flushing slightly at JJ's words. 'Yes!' she said. 'I was just bringing them up to you when I was…distracted.' She shuffled off after JJ to discuss the contents of the files, tossing an apologetic look back towards Morgan.

'Anyway,' Reid shrugged. 'I doubt we'll be seeing any intelligent form of extraterrestrial life for a long time – the distances are too astronomical. The best we can really hope for is finding microbial life on Mars or Titan.'

'Thank God,' Emily sighed. 'It's bad enough dealing with humans – could you imagine bringing alien unsubs into the mix? If you think we're overworked now, just wait until some guy is killing people telepathically.'

'It certainly does raise some philosophical questions,' Reid added. 'Like whether things like ethics and morals are human constructs, or if they're simply something that is inherent in all sentient beings with the cognitive capacity to understand the consequences of their actions.'

Morgan stared at him. 'Okay, this is my limit. There's only so much nerdery that I can handle for one day. Sorry, man.'

'And I really should be getting back to work,' Emily added, looking guiltily towards the pile of paperwork on her desk.

Reid was unperturbed and Morgan still wasn't quite convinced that aliens hadn't made it Earth after all.