Criminal Minds © not mine.

Youngest

Ever since Gideon left, I have been declared the oldest of our group.

Never mind that Rossi has four years on me. I am the oldest, and that is that. Rossi comes a close second. It's a source of amusement for us, this switch in roles, but it's the way the team works. We take it in stride.

The others are intermediate. JJ, Elle, Morgan, Garcia – they're somewhere in between. Close in 'age' to each other, but with enough of a gap to distinguish themselves from myself and Rossi and the youngest of us.

Our youngest. Morgan came up with the name originally, back before Gideon even became our oldest. Funny how it's stuck in my head after all this time. I hardly think of him by his name anymore. He's always "our youngest" in my mind.

Not to say that he isn't capable. He wouldn't be on my team if he wasn't. Still, he's barely out of his twenties and still very naive to the world outside our job. We're protective of him, all of us. Perhaps Morgan the most. They share a similar past – perhaps he sees a kindred soul in our youngest. After all, he was the one to convince him to come to the BAU. I try to pair them off as often as possible, and when I can't, I keep our youngest close to myself and Rossi.

I am not immune to such protective instincts.

The girls protect him in their own ways. Garcia leaves him puzzles and trivia bits she finds on the computers. She's the only one of us who can even begin to close the gap with his intelligence. She keeps him occupied the only way she can. In return, he leaves her little figurines and cute science comics – little things that don't remind her of her job. He protects her, too, although Garcia will never admit she needs the protection.

JJ is different as well. She's the mother, the gentle hand that's always there when he needs to talk and feels he can't come to the rest of us. I never know exactly what transpires whenever he enters JJ's office, but when he leaves, he walks with a little more confidence, and JJ smiles a little more as well. I never ask, and they never tell, but that's okay. Everyone needs a few secrets in their lives.

Elle is another mystery. She can be anything to anyone – a confidant, a drinking partner, a friendly shoulder – and what role she plays for our youngest I can only begin to speculate. Once again, I do not pry. They both seem to benefit from the relationship, and I will not interfere with that.

I walk into the office just in time to see a makeshift 'rocket' come flying in my direction. I give our youngest a look. "More physics magic?"

He has the grace to look a bit ashamed. "Yes sir."

"You do remember what I said about bringing that into the office, right?"

He hunches his shoulders just a bit. "Yes sir."

I examine the distance from his desk to the doorway and smile. "You're getting some good distance on these things." I hand the film cartridge back to him.

The brilliant smile that lights his face is well worth any annoyance I may face from the cleaning staff later.

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AN: One word about the author: I have seen most if not all of the episodes, but not in order. It took me the longest time to figure out that Rossi replaced Gideon and not the other way around. So if the episode I'm alluding to here didn't actually take place while Rossi was around (or if I've screwed anything else up timewise) Please let me know and I'll make every effort not to make the same mistake in the future.

Thank you so much for the reviews! You guys have me addicted now.