Title: Rookie Mistakes

Challenge: The Great Alphabet Meme 2: J is for Jurisdiction

Prompt by daylyn

Author: Kuria Dalmatia

Rating/Warnings: FRM/R (profanity, adult themes). Spoilers for Season 6 including "Corazon"

Characters/Pairing: Reid, Seaver (Hotch/Reid established relationship)

Summary: The first thing Reid wonders is, Was I ever that bad? and then realizes that actually, he was probably much worse.

TIMELINE: Season 6 after Seaver is part of the team, but does not take into account Season 6's Prentiss storyline. Suspend your disbelief a bit more…

ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.

February-March 2011.

COMMENTS: Thanks pabzi for reading the first draft and encouraging me to go forward with it. I'm not anti-Seaver. While I don't like the circumstances in which she was brought in nor do I buy the flimsy excuse of why she's on the primary BAU team, I'm willing to go with the flow and incorporate her. However, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. And, yes, I'm taking some liberties with her title, but I don't think she's graduated yet.

There was a story by l3petitemort where Elle called Reid 'papi' and now that's stuck with me.

This was supposed to be a drabble. It kind of exploded.

Feedback always welcome.

DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.

/***/

The first thing Reid wonders is, Was I ever that bad? and then realizes that actually, he was probably much worse. It's not that he can't read social cues; he developed some skill during those years while shielding his mom from nosey neighbors, college recruiters, and whoever else showed up at the door. It's just in his early years in the FBI, he somehow forgot what he taught himself. He likes to think that he's gotten much better, especially when it comes interpreting Hotch's 'That's enough' look.

Seaver hasn't mastered that yet. Like all passionate agents, she's standing her ground. Like all newbies, she doesn't know when to back down. She overstepped boundaries again—this time it's something to do with jurisdiction and subsequently thoroughly pissing off a local—and Hotch is livid. His tone is clipped and cold, but Seaver seems so dead-set on making her point that she misses every non-verbal clue Hotch is broadcasting.

Squared shoulders.

Arms folded tightly across his chest.

Feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward.

That slight lean forward that always makes seem Hotch taller, more imperious.

That hard glint in his eyes.

The firm set of his mouth.

The jut of his jaw.

The slightly raised left-eyebrow.

It's just Hotch, Seaver and Reid at the police station, because Hotch and Reid have already finished speaking with the second family. Rossi and Prentiss are at the latest crime scene. Morgan and the local sheriff are interviewing the first victim's family. The locals are between shifts, so there aren't that many witnesses. However, those who are here make no bones about observing the exchange between the two FBI agents, even if it's behind the glass-enclosed conference room with the doors closed. The blinds aren't slanted so the scene is visible to everyone.

One thing about Hotch: he's not in the habit of dressing down a subordinate in public. He usually doesn't do it in front of other agents either, but something tells Reid that Hotch isn't expecting the spirited argument from Seaver when she launches into her defense the moment he shuts the door. Otherwise, he would have told Reid to get out.

Reid does try to escape when the discussion first started, but Seaver and Hotch are blocking the only clear path. Getting by them would mean interrupting and Reid knows just by the way Hotch is standing that an interruption would not be a good idea.

So he turns his back, focuses on the map and concentrates on narrowing down the geographic profile to something a bit more manageable than six hundred square miles. An odd memory strikes: when his parents would argue in the car and there was no place for Spencer to go. He had to listen. By five years old, Spencer was the master of "I Spy…" even if the only person he had to play the game with was himself.

Over the course of three minutes, Hotch gives two warnings—conveyed only with his tone, no words—for Seaver to drop the argument, but she doesn't.

Reid tenses up, because he knows the third one is coming. And if Hotch gets to three, it's never a good thing for anyone involved. At home, Hotch will count aloud and Jack rarely pushes once his father says, "One" ominously. At work, the warnings are less overt but are still there. It's usually the way Hotch says their last names and it took Reid at least four times—more than any other person under Hotch's command because Reid's a genius after all—to pick up on verbal cues.

"That is enough, cadet."

Interestingly, the emphasis is on 'cadet' not on 'enough'. Reid winces because there are verbal slaps, verbal punches and verbal knock-outs.

It's a TKO for Hotch.

Reid hears the sharp intake of breath. He catches her reflection in the glassed picture frame on the wall next to him. He sees the swing of Seaver's ponytail as she breaks away from Hotch's gaze.

Instinct yells at Reid to intervene, to shield Seaver from the follow-up strike because, like all good fighters, Hotch makes sure his opponent isn't going to get up from the canvas anytime soon. Reid knows he's wired to protect the defenseless—and that's exactly what Seaver is right now—even if the defenseless is in the wrong. Experience demands Reid to stay put, because the one time he interfered with Jack…well, Reid knows he won't be doing that anytime in the near future.

"Go over the police reports again, cadet," Hotch orders crisply and the door opens and shuts.

Reid hears Seaver let out a breath that sounds a bit on the watery side. He listens as the chair scrapes against the linoleum and creaks a little as she sits. Papers rustle. Reid keeps his back to her, allowing her the illusion of privacy.

It's not much but it's really the only thing he can do.

/***/

It's almost eight when Hotch calls it an evening. Rossi, Morgan and Prentiss are already on their way back to the hotel, so it's Reid, Hotch and Seaver in the SVU. Reid usually doesn't sit shotgun when it's more than two people in the vehicle. He's usually in the back with all the files and briefcases and he prefers it, because usually he's finishing up one last thing even though technically he's not supposed to. When the day is done, the day is done. Pencils down. Period.

Seaver beats Spencer to the passenger rear door. She doesn't look at him when she gets in.

Hotch doesn't spare him a glance either. It's awkward riding in the front, because Spencer is counting on those few extra minutes to "get settled" in the back where Hotch can't really observe him checking his notes one last time and organizing his files for the next day.

It's not like he can change it. He supposes if he were Seaver, he wouldn't want to be in the front with Hotch either.

As they pull out of the station, Reid notes how Seaver is staring out the window and Hotch has a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel. He realizes he should feel uncomfortable in the situation—after all, Hotch spent the afternoon smoothing over Seaver's faux pas—but instead he finds it inappropriately amusing. Tension does that do him.

Because she's acting just like Jack does when gets in trouble, pouting because of being punished.

Reid can't laugh; he does not want Hotch's anger directed at him and he does not want to humiliate Seaver. She doesn't deserve it. She made a mistake. She was reprimanded. In Hotch's mind, the case is closed. Spencer can tell for Seaver, it's anything but.

She's going to obsess about this all night. Spencer can just tell. It's natural. He's done it himself, even when Morgan pulled him aside the first time he massively screwed up and said, "Tomorrow's a clean slate. Let it go. If you hold on to it, you'll make even more mistakes."

So Spencer debates on the wisdom of starting up a conversation. He knows better than to discuss the case because when Hotch calls it a night, it means "leave it at the station."

Unless, of course, someone has a brilliant insight.

Which Reid doesn't.

Instead, he does what he learned to do when faced with the similar Aaron-Jack scenario. He keeps his mouth shut.

The silence, as uncomfortable and unsettling as it is, is far better than anything Reid could talk about.

They arrive at the hotel and Hotch barely has the SUV in park before Seaver says, "Good night, sirs,"—emphasis on pluralizing the last word—and gets out. As the door slams shut, Hotch lets out a harsh breath and yanks the key from the ignition. They watch as Seaver walks briskly to the hotel entrance.

It's an opportunity to say something to Hotch, but Reid doesn't. Instead, he counts to thirty, which should be plenty of time for Seaver to make it through the lobby and hopefully on the elevator.

He opens the door.

So does Hotch.

Reid pauses. "Dinner?" although he knows the answer.

"Paperwork," is the response, sharp and cold.

"Take out, then?"

Hotch pauses and his voice softens. "Something simple." He hands Reid the keys.

And that's the end of the conversation.

/***/

When Reid gets to his room, he texts Seaver. She's only been with them a few months, but her habits are predictable, although she probably thinks they're not. Like most agents, she'll work out as a way to blow off steam and like Morgan, she prefers to run outdoors.

DON'T GO OUT ALONE

She'll probably think it's demeaning, but honestly, Reid really is looking out for her safety. Oh, and to avoid another strike against her because Hotch is downright fanatical about team safety nowadays in his own surly, refuse-to-admit-it way.

Hotch believes the team is his to protect and sometimes just plain his—and it is without a doubt—and someone already stole JJ away from him. That makes two agents in four years (Gideon never counts) and Reid knows how much it bothers Hotch. Seaver's not a full-fledged agent yet, which probably makes Hotch even more protective than he would be over a new person on the team. She's young. She has no real field experience. Her first time out? She deliberately disobeyed an order and found herself staring down the gun held by the UnSub.

Seaver doesn't know all the unspoken team rules yet, and "jogging with a partner" is definitely one of them. However, Seaver's young and fit and has Academy training, so she probably thinks she's invincible.

Maybe not. Her father was the Redmond Ripper, after all. So she has to know that she's vulnerable. Still, Seaver took a hard hit to the ego today and that tends to mess with one's sensibilities.

Reid should know. He's done some incredibly stupid things when his ego got hurt. He still probably does.

If she follows Reid's advice, it means she'll be in the meager fitness room of the hotel, which is—Reid checks his watch—where Hotch probably is. As brave and take-charge as Seaver is, it's unlikely she's going to hop on the elliptical next to where Hotch it taking out his frustration on the treadmill.

Reid sends another set of texts to Rossi, Morgan and Prentiss about dinner. He offers to get carryout because he knows those three have been driving around town all day and talking to witnesses and families nonstop. No one wants to dine in public because, inevitably, someone outside the team wants to talk shop. He wonders what do to about Seaver, if she's already gone to Prentiss or Rossi about the whole Hotch situation, and then sends her the same text as he sent the others.

What happens at the station, stays at the station. Another unspoken rule, but it's a good one. The key to safety in the field is being able to trust each other, to put aside mistakes and not to dwell on heated exchanges. It's how they can work together as much as they do, how they can spend as much time together as they do.

Reid sets his phone on the desk and pulls out the leather folio from his messenger bag. He decides to start the letter to his mother while he waits for the rest of the team to respond. Reid already knows what he'll order for himself and what he'll order for Hotch. He can guess what Rossi, Prentiss and Morgan want, but the illusion that they can't predict what they're going to select from the menu is something that they all adhere to.

There's a knock on the door, sharp and insistent. It doesn't match anyone else on the team, so Reid guesses it must be Seaver. A quick look though the peephole confirms his guess. He opens the door and bids her welcome.

Hostility is still rolling off her. She's dressed in FBI sweatpants and hooded shirt. It takes two tries for her to meet his gaze, but once she does, she's locked on to him.

"I don't need a chaperone," she snaps as her hands settle on her hips. Seaver isn't as intimidating as Prentiss or a fierce as JJ. She's certainly not as ferocious as Elle, else she'd be saying, 'You don't want me going out alone? Then your skinny white ass is going with me, papi' because Elle always called him 'papi' when she felt he was trying to be macho about something.

Reid considers his responses. He reviews her appearance, especially how bright her sclera are. Visine, he thinks, because the waterlines of her eyes are still red and her nose is puffy. The face powder she applied before coming down here isn't doing a good job at hiding anything.

He's not sure what to say. She wants to fight by the way she bounces forward on her feet. Sure, there's the unspoken rule about no inner-team profiling but, well, he can't help it.

Reid lets out a sigh and goes for the case-related approach. The first two murders were nineteen days apart, the third only sixteen days. The BAU wasn't called in until seven days after the third murder, they're on the second day of their investigation, so they less than seven days until the UnSub strikes again. So he says, "We've already determined the UnSub is escalating."

She seizes upon the opening, "I don't match the victimology."

"In situations like this, the UnSub may not be able to target his ideal victim, so he'll opt for a reasonable substitute."

"And what makes you think I'm a 'reasonable substitute'?" she demands.

He shrugs. "Experience."

And that's the real burn, because while he and she are similar in ages, they are not similar in experience.

Seaver's nose wrinkles and her lips purse. She then turns on heel, storms to the door, and lets herself out.

There's no "good night, sir" this time.

Three minutes later, there's no response to Reid's second text about dinner.

Reid sighs and shakes his head.

It's time to get food and then politely turn down inquiries about what happened at the police station when he drops off the respective meals.

It's really the only thing to do. He's not going to push it.

/***/