Okay, so, I have had virtually no time to write. I have to do everything late at night in one sitting or I get nowhere because coming back to it when I DO have time leaves me not WANTING to finish it, as the mood is gone at which point I end up with the dozen partially written stories that have been plaguing my desktop for months. So I apologize for being all over the place with some of these. I'm trying to find time, but there just isn't enough when starting work. And yet I can't just give up M/R or you all. It means too much. :)

Oh! And I read that AJ Cook is returning to CM for good next fall! YAY! :D


Spencer was always happiest when he could use the brilliant mind he'd been born with to solve any number of varying puzzles. Be it the crosswords or Suduko puzzles in the large books he picked up here and there for when he was bored, a good game of chess – albeit these days games where he usually played himself, or writing papers and articles for various universities and medical journals. But most of all, he loved using his wellspring of knowledge to help others. Where most of the time that meant saving lives and catching killers, this week, it was lecturing future agents.

Although he wasn't a huge fan of speaking in front of large groups, he wasn't recruiting. No, he was sharing his vast knowledge and experience with those who had already committed to a future with the bureau. He didn't have to tell jokes that went over students' heads. It was a setting where he was likely to actually receive some respect while answering questions geared more toward making a difference rather than how many people he'd killed. He was in his element.

All of the members had received several days break from endless cases to help train the new comers. Rossi and Reid were lecturing on profiling techniques and the like while Prentiss and Morgan helped train the male and female cadets with demonstrations on hand to hand as well as fire arms qualifications with Hotch.

Reid had been somewhat excited initially at the prospect of several days of the quiet nine to five bit. They all had really, but what he should have known was that if something sounds too good to be true, it more than likely was. After all, their lives were anything but uneventful.

By the second day of cycling the cadets through each team of BAU members, everyone had seemed to earn their own reputation amongst the newbies. This was nothing new, and by no means anything they hadn't heard before. In fact, they had joked about it amongst themselves since the first year they'd taken part in training. However, where most of the rumors tended to be harmless, there was bound to be the occasional bad egg every so often. It was simply unavoidable.

Spencer had just finished with one group when Morgan and Prentiss had called and asked him to come down to be used in one of their exercises. He tried to protest, but Morgan insisted and let's face it, he couldn't really say no to him. Even over the phone Spencer could see that charming smile that no one could refuse. So, begrudgingly, with a heaving sigh, he headed down to the locker room to change out.

As he went to remove his tie and vest, he couldn't help the bitter-sweet smile as he thought about the days an environment like this used to unnerve him. It still made him a bit uneasy, but after years in the field and his all too lengthy battle with crutches recently, he'd definitely built himself up a bit. His body had acquired a new muscular definition that most people failed to notice, as it was hidden under bulky, grandpa gear and the distracting quality of his ever present tall frame. He knew what he was wanted for out on the mats, but having an audience to it was making his stomach do summersaults.

As he popped the top button of his shirt, he heard two men enter late. He tensed a bit but reminded himself he wasn't in high school anymore, but a professional setting. There would be no teasing, bloody noses or being shoved into lockers. He relaxed.

"Calm down Richard. I swear you bitch more than my mother in law during a hot flash." One of the cadets groaned.

The two stepped into his row and one of them threw his duffel down in a huff. Reid deduced that the pissy one was Richard.

"Calm down? This guy is an asshole with a capital 'A'. He humiliated me yesterday!" Richard hollered, voice echoing harshly through the metal rows.

"It wasn't that bad. He just showed you why your technique was wrong. That's what you're here for."

"There was nothing wrong with my technique Ben. I was doing just fine until…"

"He laid you out on your ass? Man, face it, he has more experience. Why are you taking it so personal? He's trying to make sure you don't get yourself or anyone else killed." Ben argued.

"So, what? That gives him the right to embarrass me in front of everyone?"

"Well, if you hadn't talked back like a five year old on a testosterone kick, he might have just corrected your stance and given helpful pointers. You challenged his authority. He's got dozens of people to work with and you were wasting time being cocky so he made an example of you. That's the kind of attitude that's going to get you the boot." Ben sighed as he slipped on his sweatshirt.

"What the fuck man? He's just a muscle bound, dick head, show-off who thinks he has something to prove." Richard seethed.

"The guy used to be Chicago PD, he's a bomb specialist, a black belt, an expert on obsessional crimes and he's been on an elite FBI team for six years. What the hell does he have to prove?" Ben laughed.

"What are you, in love with him?"

"No, I listen. I do my homework. You know, what you should be doing."

"For your information, I've done my homework. My cousin is on the force in Chicago. Has been for twelve years. When he found out I was training in Quantico he told me about a case involving an agent Morgan a few years back. Apparently he was taken into custody as a suspect in the deaths of several teenage boys. I guess he went AWOL and when they found the supposed killer, it came out that your beloved mentor in there was one of the guys original play things back in the day." Richard imparted with a devious expression.

"Wait, agent Morgan was sexually abused when he was a kid?" Ben asked for clarification.

"Yeah. He was like, thirteen or some shit."

"Aw, man. That's rough. I see why he chose this line of work."

"Seriously? The guy was a teenager and he let himself get used repeatedly by some pervert! He was old enough to know it was wrong, to speak up and he just let it continue. If you ask me he's just a fucking faggot, coward that allowed some queer, pedophile, rapist go on to kill innocent boys."

"Dude, that makes him a hebephile, and that's harsh man, he was just a kid…"

"Whatever! He's a homo that let some old man do him to get ahead. I won't even get in the showers when he's around. He makes my fuckin' skin crawl." Richard said with a shiver.

"Jesus Christ Richard. You really think you should be in law enforcement period with a prejudice like that? Why are you such a homophobe?"

"'Internalized Homophobia'. Or more accurately, 'Internalized Stigma'." Reid injected, continuing to slowly unbutton his shirt.

The two men looked in his direction surprised, as if noticing him for the first time.

"What the hell did you say?" Richard asked, taking a few steps in Reid's direction.

Spencer stilled his hands and looked at Richard.

"In 1996 there was a controlled study with 62 males. Half of which were self-professed "homophobics."" Reid stated with air quotes. "They found that the homophobic males were more than 87% more likely to experience erectile responses when exposed to homoerotic images than non-homophobic men." He concluded, continuing to casually unbutton his shirt.

"Are you calling me a faggot?" Richard ground out.

"I'm simply pointing out it's been theorized that a good percentage of males with such an intense aversion to homosexuality are often experiencing severe discomfort and disapproval of their own sexual urges often based on social or religious environmental factors. This can result in extreme denial, repression, and behavior that promote heterosexism in a desperate attempt to feel normal and socially accepted." Reid replied, as he unhooked his last button.

"Just because I don't want some brown bagging, back door salesman to fondle me while I'm training, doesn't make me a goddamn queer. Excuse me for acting like a real man." Richard spat, now a mere two feet from Reid.

"Acting like a real man. Of course." Reid pondered. "Because as we all know a seasoned FBI agent that dares to give a damn about the safety of the bureau's future agents, who's aided in the capture of countless murderers and put his life on the line repeatedly to save complete strangers without hesitation could never be defined as a real man. No, not the man that took care of his family since his father passed right in front of him when he was only ten. Of course not. No kind of REAL MAN winds up falling victim to a child abuser that held his very life and every opportunity to make something of said life in his filthy hands, taking advantage of a kid that just wanted a better life for his family. That's unheard of."

"Shut you're fucking mouth pipsqueak!" Richard bellowed.

"Oh! But I'm trying to thank you for educating me on what a REAL MAN is! Here I thought it was the selfless, caring individual in the other room with more integrity in his little finger than we could all hope to have in our lifetimes combined! But you've enlightened me to the truth! Being a REAL MAN is all about being arrogant and feeble minded! It's about daring to define an accomplished, exceptional human being by using the darkest time of his life against him, something you could never begin to fathom, when he's not even here to defend himself!" Reid rambled excitedly, as if he were reciting Star Trek factoids.

"Listen you pathetic little fucker, I told you to…" Richard began with clenched fists.

"Tell me something Richard," Reid said in a conspiratorial tone, leaning in close. "Do all real men make excuses to wait for everyone to clear the locker room before showering to hide the uncontrollable erections brought on by all the other naked real men? Or is that just you?"

Richard punched Reid. Hard.

Reid slowly brought his face forward, and despite a slight split lip, a slow grin appeared on his face revealing blood-coated teeth. Richard's eyes went wide at the maniacal smile then…


Richard flew back into the lockers then onto his ass, howling in pain as blood gushed from one undoubtedly broken nose.

"Gee, sorry about that Dick. Reflex. You know, I'm not that kind of doctor but I'm sure I can help set that…" Reid said, taking a step forward.

"Stay away from me you goddamn psycho!" Richard screamed.

Just then, Hotch and Morgan came in from the gym entrance behind Reid. They both knew what it looked like, but neither of them could believe that the presumably shy, mild-mannered doctor standing calmly above the man on the floor, face obscured by his long hair, could be responsible for the puddle of blood the larger man's face was producing.

"What the hell is going on in here?" Hotch barked.

"This nut job broke my fucking nose!"

"Reid?" Hotch asked in disbelief more than in attempt to address his youngest subordinate.

Spencer finally looked up and they saw his lip as well as the small trail of blood that trickled from his own nose. He considered them as if he'd just been doing nothing more than reading a book or writing a report.

"I'll have your badge!" Richard hissed at Reid.

"What are you stupid? You started it Rich and you know it. You threw the first punch." Ben stated.

"That true cadet Bowden?" Hotch asked Richard.

"I might have hit him first but he…"

"Wouldn't have said a damn thing if you hadn't been talking shit." Ben finished.

"Whose side are you on?" Richard spat.

"I might have to train with you Rich, but that doesn't mean I like you or agree with most of what comes out of your big, fat, ignorant trap."

"Fuck you Ben!"

"No thanks." Ben replied with a smirk.

"Cadet Bowden, you're training is suspended until further notice." Hotch scowled.

"Nah, fuck this place! In fact to hell with all of you! I don't need this shit!" Richard screamed, as two security guards appeared.

Hotch nodded and they escorted Cadet Bowden, protests muffled by the compress to his nose, from the building. Morgan took the opportunity to lean in close to Reid.

"When I asked you to come kick some ass, I meant on the mats Pretty Boy." He whispered with a chuckle.

Before Reid could respond, Hotch addressed him.

"You alright Reid?"

"Just fine. Sorry to interrupt training."

"Don't worry about it. Just get cleaned up and meet me in my office. I'll need to get your account of whatever the hell just…transpired. That goes for you as well Cadet Foster." Hotch ordered before leaving the locker room.

Morgan watched as Reid disappeared into the bathroom area to clean up as instructed, while Ben got redressed into his civilian clothing.

"That's one tight knit crew you work with." Ben commented.

"Huh? Oh. Yeah, like family." Morgan murmured.

"So what's he? Brother from another mother?"

"What?" Morgan asked with a glare.

"Hey man, I meant no offense. Just, the guy is pretty protective of you is all." Ben defended with his hands up. "You don't see that kind of loyalty often enough if ya ask me."

"What do you mean?"

"Bowden's is an ass anyway; stupid and tactless to boot. Your buddy there was dressing out when Rich started talkin' shit about you. Guess he didn't take too kindly to when you corrected his technique yesterday. He called you a few choice words based on some rumors he'd heard. Well, that didn't sit well with the good doc." Ben chuckled.

"Wait, this was all because of…"

"I always knew Richard's mouth would get him into trouble one day. I just never thought, to look at Dr. Reid, that he would be the trouble if ya know what I mean. I'll tell ya though, between you and me, that dude is crafty."


"I swear he was intentionally baiting Bowden into taking a swing. Once he did, your man looked like he'd just been handed a million bucks before he smashed that morons face in. Didn't think a guy like that had it in him. Apparently neither did Rich." Ben laughed, walking away as Derek stood shocked at the recount of events.

When Reid came out of the bathroom making his way to his locker, he was intercepted by Morgan.

"You okay Reid?"

"Yeah. Fine. Good as new." He answered, starting to button up the shirt that was barely dangling on his shoulders. (The kid was definitely filling out)

"Wait." Morgan said, grabbing his elbow to halt him. "Why did you hit him?"

"Because he hit me?" He shrugged, about to pull away as the darker man's grip tightened.

"Reid, you know what I mean. What happened exactly?"

"Nothing really, it was stupid. I shouldn't have stooped to that level. It's not important right now. We have work to do." He replied, finally pulling away, grabbing his things and buttoning his shirt clumsily as he walked from the room.

Morgan watched after him wondering what was so bad that Spencer had felt the need to get violent. The genius usually did everything in his power to avoid getting physical. His words were his preferred weapon of choice. In this case, he'd chosen to use them to provoke violence instead of preventing it. This concerned Derek greatly. He didn't like that his friend was acting so out of character, but even less that he himself had anything to do with it. He would have to corner him later to find out what had really happened. He could ask Hotch, but he knew he needed to hear it from Spencer's mouth.

Derek spared one last look at the exit his team mate had just used and sighed before heading back into the gym.

After Reid had made his way back to the bullpen and written up an incident report giving his side of the story, he headed toward Hotch's office and was slightly startled when the door flew open and Cadet Foster came rushing out, nearly colliding with him.

"Oh hey, sorry." Spencer mumbled, going to move past him.

"Oh no, I'm the one that should be apologizing." Ben stated.

"It's alright. I know you're late."

"No. I mean, yes, but I was referring to earlier. Richard, er, Cadet Bowden was so far out of line. I should have reported him before. His attitude is beyond unprofessional. It's like he's always looking for a fight. The stick up his ass is so big they should have stuck him in a corn field, not the FBI." Ben laughed.

Spencer smiled but didn't say anything.

"I know I shouldn't have even been nice to the guy, but I figured you all had your ways of weeding out the bad seeds and I thought if there was a chance I would have to work with him, I shouldn't rock the boat. I try to be tolerant but he was really pushing my limits. I'm actually kind of glad you were there to put him in his place. The FBI, your team and Agent Morgan are lucky to have you on their side Dr. Reid."

"Um, thanks, really, but I overacted. That was uncalled for. We're trained to resolve any situation with minimal violence and I shouldn't have…"

"With all due respect Doc, this wasn't the field. It was personal and someone you cared about was being disrespected in the worst way. No one could blame you for reacting that way. Where I'm from you take care of your own. Way I see it, you did that. And you were smart about it. You know, I've heard about you but, none of what I heard included fists of fury. I guess looks can be deceiving. That's a great advantage. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I backed you in there. I'm just so glad I was there to witness it." Ben chuckled again. "It's was an honor."

"Thank you Ben." Spencer said, shaking the man's offered hand.

As Spencer began heading to his destination, Ben stopped him once more.

"Oh, and Dr. Reid,"


"If anyone else asks, about what happened in the locker room, I won't repeat anything Bowden said about Agent Morgan. True or not, it's nobody's business." Ben reassured him.

"I appreciate that. He's a good man. One of the best. Thank you again." Spencer replied with a grateful smile, before moving to Hotch's door.

Spencer, on any other occasion, might not have been so short on words, but his mind was still reeling a bit. He'd known what he'd been doing. From the moment Richard Bowden had made mention of Derek's past in such a crude way he'd made his mind up. And that scared him. It wasn't an impulsive act on his part. He'd realized he had several options when handling the situation, but the only one that felt right in his gut was the wrong one. Well, the irresponsible one. He didn't regret his choice in the slightest and that's the part that had him going in circles. Why?

Even now, when he replayed the incident in his head, his normally rational mind took second to something else and it's all he can do not to hunt Bowden down and break something else of his. But…why? Yes, the man had slandered his best friend in the worst way, but he was just another ignorant jerk. Spencer had met plenty of those in his life, even since he'd been old enough and big enough to fight back. But he'd never really felt compelled. He was always the calm, coolheaded one. He hadn't been in a bad mood prior to the fight. Could he have been subconsciously psyching himself up for the defense training? Maybe his primal instincts had gotten the better of him. Psh. No. Maybe just the fact that it was Morgan being attacked. Not only was he more likely to fight for someone else, but the someone in question had protected him and been his sounding board for years. It was his way of returning the favor. Maybe he channeled Morgan's tough guy persona and stood up for the man in the way he may have stood up for himself. Maybe…

"Reid!" Hotch called.

"Yeah, sorry Hotch, here's the incident report." Spencer said, handing his unit chief the typed version.


"But, I'm going to be late to the next lecture…"

"It can wait, sit."

"I typed up what happened. It's all there. Every detail. Signed. Dated. I really have to…"

"Reid, Rossi has it covered for now. SIT." Hotch said sternly, pointing to the empty chair across from himself.

Spencer sighed and sat with a huff. "Look. I know I shouldn't have…" He was cut short by Hotch's stone expression, the universal sign for shut the hell up.

"What happened?"

"I told you, it's all right there. And you spoke to Cadet Foster already…"

"No, I don't want the blow by blow, no pun intended. Let me rephrase. I don't want the what so much as the why."

"Well, Cadet Bowden assaulted me." He answered simply, eye twitching as he registered the indignant look on Hotch's face at his deliberate evasion. They both knew he wasn't fooling anyone.

"Reid, don't make me hand hold you. You're just going to waste our time. Now you can either tell me why you reacted in such an unorthodox way, especially for you, or I'm suspending you until you've completed a mandatory psych eval and a round of anger management. You know as well as I do that regardless of who threw the first punch, I have to evaluate you and the situation and report my findings for legal purposes."

"I know." Spencer grumbled, scooting down in his seat, blowing a stubborn lock of hair from his face.

"I realize he hit you first, but from what I've gathered thus far, and knowing you, it doesn't sound like the hit came all that unprovoked. So why did you bait him instead of reporting him? That was a risky move on your part, even for a genius profiler with a keen understanding of calculations and probabilities."

"Truthfully Hotch? I'm not really sure myself. I've been trying to pin point the exact reason and I haven't been able to. Maybe it's just a mixture of all of the theories I've compiled. Several factors that pushed me to react the way I did."

"And those would be?"

"My visceral hatred toward prejudice assholes for one." Spencer spat.

Hotch's eyebrows raised at the uncharacteristic word having tumbled from the shy, young doctors mouth. What was going on with him today? Reid carried on without notice.

"Bullies. I took their crap my whole life. Even now, when I'm big enough to do something about it, I don't. But standing by while he talked about Morgan that way, listening to that ignorant sonofabitch gossip on about the darkest moments in his life at the hands of a monster, implying any perverse, enjoyment on Derek's part through some selfish motivation, tearing down all that he has struggled to become and overcome despite the statistics, questioning his character, his integrity, everything that sets him apart…daring to degrade a man that has been my personal hero and saved the lives of so many… a man that would be as quick to risk his life for a complete stranger as he would be to give the shirt off his back or his last dollar if it meant making the world a little brighter for someone else. Nobody deserves to be talked about that way. Especially not Derek. Never Derek. He's been through enough not to have the pinnacle of his hard earned achievements tainted by some pathetic waste of human flesh like Bowden shooting his mouth off about things he could never even come close to understanding. Never even touch. Things that would have destroyed an ingrate like him. He doesn't even deserve to …to…" Spencer stuttered, breath ragged, blood boiling once again.

What the hell was wrong with him?

"Reid," Hotch said softly.

When Spencer met his boss's eyes he calmed a bit, distracted by the strange look on his face. It was a mixture of concern, amusement and…pride?

"I'm sorry Hotch. I'm not…I just, I'm not losing it. It won't happen again. I don't know, I guess it was just the situation. You know me. It's not something I'd make a habit of. I can't…"

"Reid, I Know. Bowden crossed a line. One that should never be crossed. And he did so in an equally inappropriate manner. Morgan is like family. Given the fact that you both had to grow up too quickly and assume the role of caretaker and man of the house by the age of ten, not to mention the adversity you faced, it's no wonder you both have a deep kind of kinship and understanding. Maybe Morgan sees the purity in you that he felt was stolen from him and wishes so desperately to protect it. And you see the strength and confidence in him that you for some reason feel you lack and you look up to him for it. Strive just as hard to protect those qualities in him. And along the way, each of you has given the other a piece of what you felt was missing, when in reality it was there all along and it just took the other to help find it. That's created an unbreakable bond."

"Maybe so. When the wrong thing feels right and even someone like me can't rationalize quickly enough to muster up the restraint to react responsibly, because for the first time resorting to a violent act seems like the only acceptable action, you know that no one's safe. When you care so strongly, rationality doesn't always factor in I suppose. I wonder when that changed."

"When you went from co-workers to…"


"Well, I was going to say family, but where your word choice leaves things dangerously open to interpretation, it works too."


"I think I know what needs to be done." Hotch said, getting up and walking over to pull Spencer to his feet.


"Relax Reid, no anger management or docs to run circles around. You just have one assignment."

Spencer stopped at the door to face his supervisor with a confused expression.

"Talk to Morgan."


"Tell him."

"No way."


"Hotch, he knows I care. We all care for one another, that goes without saying. But there is no way I'm telling him what was said in that room."

"Why? There's nothing to be ashamed of. He's worried about you and he needs to know you haven't started a Quantico fight club. He's going to find out…"

"No! It would kill him to know that the most personal details of his life were being exploited like that. Foster gave his word he wouldn't say anything and Bowden is gone. Any claim he could make would go without credence to others that don't want the same fate. Hopefully this was an isolated incident. Besides, Morgan would freak out if he knew why I did what I did."

"Look, I know you want to protect him. You've more than proven that today. But Reid, he IS going to find out. And he deserves to know there's a possibility this might get around. Don't you think he'd be more hurt that someone he trusts withheld something like this from him? He doesn't need every detail, just the summary or a heads up when he corners you about it later. And you know he will. I hate to think what would have happened if he and I had come in before you had a chance to lay Bowden out. He might have hospitalized the guy for even touching you.

"Hotch, maybe you should tell him. Just say there was an argument over proper conduct and I was defending myself. You're right, he should be warned. But he doesn't need to know I provoked a fight because of him. Please."

"You called him Derek."


"During your tirade."

"No I didn't."

"Three times."

"So? What does that have to do with…"

"Talk to him."

"I don't understand how my using his given name would be an arguing point in this matter."

"Reid, you're the genius here. You figure it out."

"You're just being cryptic to throw me. I'm not falling for it."

"You've never said his first name in all the years we've worked together."

"And your point is?"

"Just made it."

"Wow. Insightful. Riveting. Truly Hotch. You just cleared everything right up. Of course. I mean, we'd already established that he and I are closer these days, close enough to break a guy's face, but Christ, I said his first name. That's so much more profound."

"It is. And sarcasm is the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded."

"You're really quoting Dostoevsky to me right now?"

Hotch just stared at him.

"Wait, what are you implying?"

"I wasn't implying anything. I was just making an observation."

"The only thing you're making is an ass of yourself. I'm going back to work now." Spencer stated flatly. He was on a roll today so why not just piss everyone off.

Hotch took a deep breath deciding to ignore the blatant disrespect and insubordination Spencer's comment held.

"Reid, even if I tell him, he'll still come to you with questions. Ones only you can answer."

"There's nothing to answer. Someone was making disparaging remarks about a friend and I lost my cool. I acted irrationally toward an archetype that I've had issues with in the past. That's it, end of story." And with that, the lanky man left his office and shut the door before Hotch could say another word.

With a sigh, the older man went to his desk and leaned back in his seat. Fine. If Reid wanted him to handle this, he would. He couldn't think of an easy way to do it and figured that Reid had said it best, so he simply opened a new email and attached the conversation he'd recorded during the mandatory assessment. It was protocol to spot any inconsistencies in the written report. Of course Reid would remember this bit of information later and cringe, but this time, the recording was only going to serve one purpose. When the mini rant was sent toward its recipient with a note attached, Hotch washed his hands of the situation and decided that he deserved a treat for a job well done. He unlocked his third drawer and pulled out a coveted packet of Ho-Ho's and indulged.

"Past the lips and straight to the hips." He grinned, taking a big bite.


Derek got out of his class early and ran up to his desk to eat lunch and check messages. It was quiet in the bullpen as he sat, unwrapped his sandwich and took a big bite. Turning to his computer, he gained access to his mail and scrolled through the plethora of B.S. that had piled up. Scanning the senders for which emails held the most importance, his eyes landed on Hotchner's name. He clicked it expecting the new class line up for the remainder of the week when he saw a short message with a sound file.

Morgan, thought you should hear this. Wear headphones! If you have any questions, talk to Reid. I trust whatever happens beyond this point will be handled delicately and won't affect the job. –Hotch

Derek scowled at the screen re-reading the lines several times before grabbing his head phones and plugging in. He didn't like reading the mysterious overtones in those few lines. An audio file attached to Reid, delicate and not affecting jobs sent from his boss made him more than a bit uneasy. He figured it had something to do with what had happened earlier, but receiving something of this nature, even if the truth of the fight had come to light, didn't make sense to him. Rather than mulling over the questions he decided to just listen and find out for himself. He clicked to start the audio track and leaned forward with a hard look of concentration as he heard Hotch's voice asking Reid what had happened.


Later that evening, Spencer arrived in an empty bullpen to retrieve his belongings and several files from his desk. When he had his bag open shoving said files inside, he was startled by a voice from his left.

"You know," The voice began.

When he spun to face the source of the sound, he found that he in fact wasn't alone. Derek was sitting in the shadows, hands rubbing over his dimly lit face.

"You were right. It really does suck to work so hard, struggle to bury your past under years of training and accomplishment, to build a safe haven where I can be Derek Morgan, strong, confident, cool FBI guy and forget that I was…"


"And Hotch was right. It hurts to think that someone I trust would ever try to hide the fact that damaging information was being divulged by some rookie creep with a grudge."

"Morgan, I'm sorry. I was going to tell you. I thought about it, but I couldn't right away. I couldn't stand the thought of being the one to bring it all up again. To see your face when…"

"At first, I was angry, hurt even. But listening to you say what you said…about me, about why you didn't want to tell me…"

"Wait, listened? You heard me? Why didn't you…"

"No. Hotch sent me the recording. You did remember those assessments were recorded right?"

"Damn him! Those are confidential! He had no right!"

"No Reid, YOU had no right!"

Spencer jumped when Derek's fist hit the desk which sent guilt flashing through the darker agent's eyes.

"W-what?" He asked, voice shaken from the sudden outburst and accusation.

"You had no right to do what you did. Inciting violence like that!"

Spencer took a deep breath and let it out slowly, shuddering, eyes narrowing.

"I had no right?" Spencer asked, voice low, incredulous, as he stepped closer. "No right to defend the integrity of our work? My teammate? My friend? What, are you worried that I might take your rep as the resident bad ass? Is it only you who's allowed to step in uninvited and fight other peoples battles? Or are you worried that someone will find out that the skinny, little, know-it-all geek had to stand up for you?"

"It has nothing to do with appearances Reid!" Morgan all but screamed, stepping around the desk to face the younger man. "You had no right to put your safety and job at risk for me! What do you think it would have done to me to know that if something had happened to you that it was because of me? Huh?"

Spencer averted his eyes away from Derek's to the carpet as his own sudden guilt assaulted him, churning his guts into shame stew with a pinch of contrition and a dash of confusion.

"Look, I…I appreciate that you care enough to want to fight for me. To protect me. But you're too valuable to this team and everyone in it to be making such rash moves. It's not like you. I just hope you didn't act in that manner out of some need to prove anything or…obligation…"

"Goddamn it Morgan! I don't have anything to prove! And I never feel obligated when it comes to you! I don't feel like I owe you, it's not some deep seeded feeling of responsibility, or even the fact that I have my own bias against Bowden's particular breed of prejudice!"

*Wait, what?* Morgan thought.

"Then WHY?" He asked instead.

"I don't know!"


"I said, I don't…"

"You do!"

"No! I…"

"You certainly seem to know all the reasons you DIDN'T hit him! Tell me!" He growled, getting in Spencer's face.

"Back off!"

"Nu-uh! I know we're all protective of one another, but you have never been one to provoke a physical confrontation Reid. Is there something else?"



"Get out of my face Morgan!"

"Your attitude…Is it drugs Reid?"

Spencer's eyes were daggers.

"Fuck you!" He spat, eyes tearing as he spun to storm off.

Derek grabbed his arm roughly and pulled him back.

"Don't walk away from me! Tell me what…"

His words were cut short as Spencer spun and slapped him. Morgan grabbed him by the shoulders, angry eyes meeting his own. Spencer brought his forearms up between them and outward effectively breaking Derek's bruising hold. Before the larger agent could counter, Spencer clutched a fistful of his shirt and pulled him forward into a searing kiss.

After seven long seconds, the taller man pulled back suddenly, eyes growing wide as saucers as full realization set in. Derek's face was a mask of astonishment as Reid stumbled back, mouth making the motions of speech without sound. Brought out of his stupor by his legs connecting with the desk behind him, he fled the bullpen before Morgan could even remember to breathe.

Spencer ran. He ran so fast he was shocked that his legs managed to catch him every time a foot landed propelling him that much farther away from what had just happened. But as dependable as those awkward appendages seemed to be at the moment, he couldn't say the same for his mind…and heart. He wanted to forget. He wanted to erase. And more than that, he wanted the horrible aching in his chest to stop. But those parts, those pieces of him that betrayed these needs, still clung to the moment he so desperately wished to escape.

Derek just stood there. His brain and his body waging war against one another and within themselves. While his mind was reeling between what just transpired and the instinctive need to call out to his friend, his body was shocked into stillness by the unexpected reaction that had resulted from the exchange and the fear of what it insinuated. All of this resulted in a stalemate that left him frozen in the middle of the office staring long after Spencer had made his swift exit.

He flashed back to the audio file he'd heard. Suddenly, everything that had sounded like the passionate expression of a young, idealistic, protective teammate, (if not an irrational one due to a possible external factor being hidden behind the appearance of such) was being seen in a whole new light. Even Hotch's warning about handling things in a delicate manner and not letting it affecting the job was causing him to face palm for being so blind. The talk of their bond and newfound closeness, the use of Derek's given name, were, in his mind, all signs of a strong, brotherly love. He hadn't thought that…how had he NOT?

After Spencer had burst through the exit into the night, he took off toward the train station in desperate need of escape. He couldn't think clearly, and yet thoughts were there. The wrong ones. Ones he couldn't outrun. He still tried. He was moving so fast that he couldn't feel the burn in his muscles, couldn't hear beyond the blood pounding in his ears and couldn't see the man that stepped from the alley ahead of him swinging an aluminum bat until it was too late.


Air. Important. Essential. Lacking.

Spencer lay on the pavement coughing, arms wrapped around his pained midsection just wishing for the ability to breathe. Two men approached, looming over him. The one with the bat was now kneeling beside him, his face eerily illuminated by the flickering strobe of a broken streetlamp. Bowden. Of course. This day was just getting better.

Richard pulled him up by the front of his shirt and punched him in the face twice before kicking his already damaged ribs. Spencer gasped, but no real sound accompanied the rush of air. He fell back to the pavement as he was released and spat blood, coughing and gulping much needed oxygen as Bowden laughed.

"You fucking pussy." He ground out at the injured man.

Rolling onto all fours, summoning strength he didn't know he had, Spencer got to his knees and spit again, dragging in a raspy breath before smiling at Richard.

"Says the man with backup and a bat." He chuckled, smile dropping a fraction as the gun appeared, and was shoved between his eyes. "Wow Dick, you're really out to perpetuate every stereotype for your brand of stupid aren't you?"

Jesus, he couldn't seem to keep that biting wit contained today.

"Shut the fuck up!" He screamed, pistol whipping the smaller man, who fell to his hands once more. "So, you think I'm a queer huh?" He seethed, grabbing Reid's hair and violently pulling him back to his knees. "Unzip my fly, I'll show you who the real faggot is." Richard said, pressing the gun to Spencer's forehead once more.

"You think forcing me to perform fellatio on you at gun point would really be saying anything about MY orientation?"

Bowden gripped his long locks tightly and jerked back harder than before causing Reid to cry out. His abuser smiled.

"Don't get me wrong, I kinda like it rough, but won't your boyfriend over there get jealous?" A wincing Spencer shot back in response.

He really needed to shut up.

When Richard drew back his hand to pistol whip him again, Spencer punched him in the groin as hard as he could rolling to the side, scrambling to get to his feet even as Bowden collapsed to his knees and his friend lunged at the disoriented agent. Spencer was tackled mid stride, hitting the cement hard. Luckily, even though Spencer's aching torso had indicated injured ribs that he was positive were now broken, Bowden's lackey was dumber than he was and had managed to knock himself out cold against a pole. Unluckily, Richard was back up and had apparently decided to use Spencer as a piñata, as he had opted for the bat once more, approaching quickly.

"They won't even be able to use dental records when I'm done with you!"

As Richard raised the bat high, Spencer fleetingly thought that this seemed like a fitting end for the day he was having. Then, as he weakly considered giving up in favor of sweeping his attackers feet, knowing the excruciating pain the sudden movement would cause, he found strength in Morgan's comment about the older agent blaming himself for any harm Reid suffered in his name. He couldn't have that so he readied himself for the sweep when Bowden's eyes bulged in shock even as a deafening sound reverberated through the night air.

Like a tree receiving its final chop, the man teetered momentarily before falling to the ground with a sickening thud, head bouncing off the curb, blood pooling around his stilled form.

"Reid!" Derek yelled, rushing to the battered agent's side. "Oh God, Reid, hang on man, help is coming." He assured him, pulling out his cell.

"I'm fine. Just…dizzy. Hurts to breathe. Broke some ribs. I'll be okay."

Derek spoke urgently into his phone as Spencer lay there trembling, the adrenaline rush giving way to shock.

"Hey Pretty Boy, stay with me. You have a concussion."


"I'm so sorry. I never should have acted the way I did. I didn't understand. Then I was so surprised, I didn't know what to make of it when you...well, it was a shock to say the least."

"Honestly, it was a shock to me too. I'm sorry I slapped you…and kissed you. That was beyond inappropriate. It was wrong of me to put you in that position. Especially after…"

"Shhhh, don't worry about that now. Don't talk too much. Don't need you passing out."

Spencer snorted. "My mouth sure has gotten me into trouble today huh?"

"Yeah Reid, it sure has. But it's one of your best assets so don't go changing it on me."

"Damn it Derek." He hissed, wincing.

"What? What is it?"

"You had to go and steal my thunder by coming to my rescue…again."

Derek chuckled. "Yeah, well, I had my resident bad ass rep to protect kid, remember?" He winked, squeezing Spencer's hand.

When thug number two was in custody, and they were wheeling Reid to the back of the ambulance, Morgan told him he'd meet him at the hospital after he talked to the officers. As he was pulling away, the younger man held fast causing him to turn back.

"I'm sorry."

"I told you, don't worry about it. We'll talk later, when you're on the mend."

"No. I'm sorry I lied."

"About what?"

"Being sorry."

Derek shot him a quizzical look wondering if Spencer was delirious.

"I'm not sorry I kissed you." He mumbled as the EMT's rolled him into the back and slammed the doors, heading off to the hospital.

Derek stood there watching after the ambulance as it pulled from the curb and took off.

"Neither am I kid." He said with a tiny grin. "Neither am I."


Um, alright, so more than a bit OOC for some of these guys, but I love going outside of their norm. That's what fiction is all about. I honestly had no idea where the hell I was going with it. I only wrote it because I wanted Reid to break someone's face after the tiny meme I wrote before and needed a short story in which to do so. I love 'fuck you up' Reid! So, there it is. I'm sure he'll be kicking ass more often. Thank you so much for R/R! :)

Oh, and please don't be mad for my not rocking the smut this time around. It was supposed to be a friend thing but, that got away from me. Reid said "Can't I at least kiss Morgan?" And I couldn't deny the puppy face. So blame him!