Written for the Writer's of the Silver Screen Challenge at Chit Chat on Author's Corner.
My character choice is: Spencer Reid
My movie title choice is: Live and Let Die
My surprise additional character is: Aaron Hotchner
Post ep for episode 1x6 L.D.S.K.
Un-betaed, so if you find any mistakes, I'd love to hear it!
Summary: "The people that wreak havoc with their every breath, Reid, they can't be left alone, or they'll never stop wreaking havoc." Post ep for L.D.S.K. For the Silver Screen Challenge at CCoAC.
Live and Let Die
He didn't expect this. He felt stupid for not expecting it, but he didn't. He didn't expect the crushing guilt. All the books said it was normal. It was normal to feel guilty about taking a human life. Somehow, Spencer still didn't expect it. He thought, perhaps, that he could logic himself out of it. Dowd was a sadistic, insane psychopath with a hero complex. If he hadn't been stopped, he'd have gone on to kill more and more people. It was stupid to feel guilty about killing someone like that.
He still did.
He'd observed the whole team as they sat on the plane, relief evident on most faces, as it always was after a case. It was over; one more psycho was off the streets; a few more people were safe. And Reid felt relief, too. No matter how much the ending hurt, it was still over.
And talking to Gideon had helped, as it usually did. Hearing Gideon say that he did what he had to do, that a lot of innocent people were alive because of him, and especially that Gideon was proud of him, that had helped. A lot. But Gideon was right, as usual. Not knowing what he felt wasn't the same as not feeling anything, and, after they'd disembarked the plane and started the paperwork, as the emotions started to sort themselves out, Reid started to crumple under the pressure. Calmly, he stood up from his desk, walked out of the bullpen and down miscellaneous hallways until he stopped abruptly and slid down a wall, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. He set his head down on his knees and sighed.
It shouldn't feel like this, he thought. Phillip Dowd was a killer. He'd have killed us if I hadn't done it.
Somehow, that didn't matter as much as it should have.
Reid couldn't have said whether it was minutes or hours later when he first heard footsteps in the hallway. He looked up to see that the motion sensitive lights had gone off, and he was sitting in darkness. He glanced at Hotch, who stopped beside him and slid down the wall to sit next to him. For a moment, no one spoke.
"Hurts, doesn't it?" Hotch mused offhandedly after a few minutes of silence.
"More than it should," Reid affirmed.
"Yeah. It will." He paused, before continuing, "Gideon talked to you? On the plane?"
Reid nodded, still staring at his knees.
"He was probably more help than I'll ever be."
Reid glanced up at him, questioning.
"Gideon... Knows how to talk to people. In his own way. I... Don't." Hotch floundered, a little out of his depth. He didn't normally do heart-to-hearts. Still, seeing Reid the way he'd been sitting, even Hotch had to stop.
"Look, Reid, I know this isn't easy. And it won't be. But you have to hold on to the fact that you did what you had to do."
"I know," he said softly, speaking to his hands.
Hotch sighed. He hated emotional conversations. He just wasn't good at them.
"Reid, have you ever heard the saying live and let live?"
Reid nodded, wondering where Hotch was going with this train of thought.
"There are some people who don't live by that. There are some people that can't just let everyone else alone. They don't live and let live.
"These are the people that we have to treat with a different philosophy: live and let die. We have to let them die, at least when there's no alternative.
"The people that wreak havoc with their every breath, Reid, they can't be left alone, or they'll never stop wreaking havoc."
"I know that. Logically. I mean, in my head I know that I couldn't have done anything else; what I did was my only option. My head knows that. And I thought that would be enough, but it's not, because it still hurts. He was scum, but he was still a person, he was still a life, and I ended that."
"It would scare me more if it didn't hurt," Hotch said frankly. "The fact that you hurt, Reid, means that you're human. It means that you can still feel." He sighed, so quietly that Reid wasn't sure if he imagined it or not.
"This job… In this job, we all walk a fine line. We have to care, we have to feel, or we're ineffective. But if you care too much, it'll tear you apart. It's when you stop caring that it's time to be afraid. Because when you've stopped caring… That's when this job has broken you. And you can't go back from that."
"All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again," Reid murmured softy. Hotch nodded.
They sat for a moment, each immersed in his own thoughts, before Hotch stood.
"If I know you at all, Doctor Reid, I know that you can get through this. You're strong enough to get through this."
Reid glanced at him for a moment before nodding, his expression doubtful. Hotch held his gaze briefly before nodding sharply, just once, and then walking away.
Mulling over the discussion in his head, Reid knew that there were three things from this eventful day that would be even more vividly imprinted in his eidetic memory than the rest.
The first was the feeling of the gun in his hand, the success of "front sight, trigger press, follow through!", the way it felt to watch a bullet leave his hand and shoot through a man's forehead, the way it felt to watch the life leave his eyes.
The second was Gideon's sincerely delivered, "I'm proud of you."
The third was live and let die.