Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds
It started as a tickle in the back of his mind. A small, fuzzy thought that came to him in that state between slumber and sleep. The ones that you know are brilliant but also the ones you won't remember when you wake. Thankfully, he always kept a pen and notepad nearby for when inspiration struck. As quickly as his sluggish mind could move, he wrote down his idea in sloppy handwriting before drifting off to sleep with a satisfied smile on his face at his stroke of brilliance.
Yet when the morning light gleamed down on him the next day, he questioned said brilliance.
"Play dumb?" The young man muttered, mahogany eyes rapidly reading what he wrote the night before as a slender hand lazily ran through his bed rumpled locks.
"Well," He said to himself cautiously, unsure of what Sleepy Him had been thinking. Setting down the pad he headed toward the bathroom. "I'll have to think on this." He spoke to the empty bathroom as he turned on the shower.
And he did. He thought very hard on it. The idea had merit, he supposed. After all, nobody really pays attention to stupid people do they? They're sort of pushed to the side; ignored, made into background noise. That was his goal: to be as invisible as possible. Being quiet wasn't good enough. The general public zoned onto quiet people; assumed they were smart or cold based on looks and actions, and while he didn't see himself as cold hearted, the smart factor fit him to a T.
Which was a problem.
He didn't have concrete evidence but much of his research left him with the theory that bad experiences tended to change the way one perceived themselves. Certain features or attributes that once made someone feel special became the very thing they hated about themselves when it was ridiculed by others on multiple occasions.
Spencer Reid wasn't ashamed of being a genius but years of being bullied and slammed into lockers with enough force to crack bone left him wondering if it was worth it. It wasn't just being smart either- how he looked was also a factor, he thought sourly as he took in the image that stared back at him in the mirror. Dangerously skinny (not his fault; that was genetics), awkwardly tall (again, not his fault), eyes too big for his face that were magnified even bigger by his glasses, dark circles decorated the bottom of his lids (does anyone else see the pattern emerging here?), and though he loathed to admit it, he seemed to be. . .twitchy.
He had a lot of work to do but for the moment, breakfast called to him.
Was it worth it? He wondered as he turned on his coffee pot. To act stupid, to be the exact opposite of what he was? He already knew it would be stressful. He would be fighting against not only his habits but his natural instincts as well. Just the thought of trading knowledge for emptiness was sacrilegious to him. Wait, no, that's not right, he corrected himself as he grabbed a mug. He wouldn't be trading his intelligence, he would be acting. There was a difference. But he would also have to factor in how far and how deep he took this act. Would it only be for public appearances? What if he fell so deep into this character of stupidity that he forgot himself? Some actors had to be careful of what roles they picked simply because they could become so integrated with their character they could barely remember themselves. He didn't want that. It was too close to a personality disorder. At the same time though, who's to say he would get attached? The only acting he's ever done was giving fake smiles and 'Everything's ok at home.' to concerned neighbors. Grabbing a bagel to go with his coffee he sat down, still brooding over his dilemma.
This could be a way to start over: no bullies, no genius, no tense family situations. He could wipe the slate clean, use stupidity as a mask so he wouldn't be targeted. There were too many 'what if's' with no answers. But being naturally curious and a scientist, he couldn't just leave this could he? It would give him an up close view of how people responded to something new. He could compare and contrast how different people treat 'stupid' people. Most importantly, he could use it as a shield; nobody will try to make a deep friendship with a shallow person. He doesn't need close friends to share all his dark secrets or anything like that. All he wants is to talk to people his own age without weirding them out. This could work- people would accept the dumb person faster than the genius because they won't feel intimidated. It might be worth a try. After all, science would have never advanced if all people did was ask 'what if?' but never experimented to find out.
Even after thinking deeply on it, Spencer was still iffy on the playing dumb idea. As he sipped his morning brew he realized he wasn't quite sure how to act dumb. All his life he had been forced into the child prodigy role and he had knew nothing else. What did dumb people do? He wondered as he sat his beloved beverage down before biting into his bagel. What do dumb people like? Hate? What do they do in their spare time? Was it degrading to use the label them as 'dumb'? Probably.
All through breakfast he considered it. Finishing up the last of his bagel and coffee, he pushed back his chair and grabbed his trusty book bag as he headed towards the front door of his tiny Vegas apartment. There were still too many unknown variables; he needed to research and he knew just the place to go.
Spencer Reid went into the unknown and dangerous jungle that he had successfully avoided up until this point: the mall. There he sat at the food court and observed the actions and personalities of the walking mall-goers. A fascinating species indeed.
There were several instances where he was escorted into the security office and had to explain to the mall officers that he was not stalking or planning to kidnap anybody that caught his apparently creepy gaze. He had no idea staring someone down while writing feverishly into a notebook was a frowned upon by society.
The third time it happened he was asked to leave. Then he was asked to leave again when an officer found out him watching people enter the mall from a nearby bench.
After that, he went to the public library and used one of the computers to find films with stupid people as the main characters. There were more than he expected and he ended up choosing three that he felt would best contribute towards his research. While he was there, he also picked up several reference books that he felt would help. They were all parodies but it was better than nothing. The next phase of research required him to go to the rental store to get the movies.
He'd never bought porn before, but he figured it couldn't feel much more embarrassing than taking the movies he chose up to the counter. The girl behind the register raised an eyebrow but said nothing as she scanned them and handed them back to him. So nervous, he struggled with his wallet before wrestling out a twenty and telling her to keep the change. His shady purchase done, he headed home, popped some popcorn and watched all three films consecutively.
When he finished, he felt horrified, sick to his stomach, and his mind had gone numb from the sheer stupidity.
By Einstein, did people actually act that foolish? It was so bad he decided to call it a day and headed to bed because he wasn't sure he was up for acting dumb anymore.
Of course his mind conspired against him and made him have nightmares of all those terrible high school experiences. Waking up, he decided he'd study the matter a tad more before making his final decision. From his observations, books, and movie watching, he concluded there where three main stereotypes of stupid: The Empty Headed Jock (not going to happen- he didn't fit the physical requirements and he didn't fancy acting like the people that tormented him once upon a time), the Listless Druggie (again, no. Getting arrested for being high was not part of the plan and it never would be). The first two were out for both pride and personal feelings leaving him with. . .
The Dumb Blonde.
It was a bit of an insult to his manly pride (what little he had) that the closest fit for him was the female stereotype, but sometimes you just had to work with what you've got. Dumb Blondes were clumsy, babblers, notorious airheads and had slight builds (he decided to ignore the big breasts typical of this stereotype). He already had three of those features; all he really needed to do was learn how to act like an airhead.
It was more work than anticipated.
He felt like a teenage girl prancing in front of his mirror quoting one of the movies he forced himself to re-watch while saying in a high pitch voice, "I think that the film was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness," before tripping over a random shoe.
"Oof!" He groaned as he hit the side of his bed. "This is harder than I thought!" He huffed out, surprised at how much work it took to act stupid. This new knowledge left him with the burning challenge to conquer the Dumb role. His main goal was still to blend in but now he had to prove to himself that he could do it. It was a matter of pride.
It took all summer. Thank goodness for casinos that where lax about ID's, else his rent would have never been paid and he'd be starving.
Even by the end of summer though, he didn't feel he was completely submerged in the role but he was getting close. Part of being a Dumb Blonde was being fashionable, so he spent hours poring over fashion trends in men's magazines. It almost killed him to read that sweaters and vests were out but he trudged on; a true soldier to the cause.
He changed everything about himself. From his hair to the way he held himself, to the pitch of his voice. Even his finger nails, which were usually broken from being chewed on, were now a healthy and trimmed neatly.
The babbling was probably the easiest part. All he had to do was talk about fashion and beauty tips instead of statistics.
All this time, he refused to look in his bedroom mirror unless it was to make sure a piece of clothing fit right or to make sure his hair was ok and that nothing was on his face. He never looked himself over as a whole, partly out of fear of failure and partly for the suspense factor but summer was over and today was the first day of classes. He was attending Las Vegas Uni this time. He didn't really need to go anywhere after Caltech, but he had nothing better to do, so why not get another degree? Taking a deep breath he looked in the mirror.
And stared dumbfounded; who was that stranger looking back at him?
Because last time he checked, he was a gangly, pale nerd with big glasses that covered his face and had dull brown hair slicked down. He was known for wearing comfortable clothes bought at the local thrift shop for cheap.
This stranger had luscious wavy brown hair that reached a little below his ears and framed his face nicely. The new sliver rimmed glasses he wore actually enhanced his appeal and his skin, while not tan, was a lovely peach tone that was pleasant to the eye. He wore semi-tight dark jeans that emphasized his long legs and contrasted nicely with the caramel colored boots he had purchased a week ago. A forest green shirt hugged his shoulders but loosened up near his midriff, causing the silver buckle of his belt to play peek-a-boo with the world. All this made a stunning picture with a purple scarf to add a little flare.
Reid felt his knees buckle under him, unable to tear his eyes away from the image. It was beautiful; a true work of art. He couldn't believe he had transformed this much by himself. He deserved a gold star.
Except there was one problem with this image and Reid was beginning to see why going with a female stereotype formula had a grave miscalculation in it. Especially a role that he just realized stood out for being pretty. How on earth had he missed that?
He looked fashionably gay. Not exactly what he was going for.
"Great," An exasperated sigh escaped his pretty lips. "Instead of being picked on for being a genius, it's going to be for being a girly boy- a gay looking girly boy. I knew something was wrong when I kept getting looks for buying all those AskMen and GQ's! God, the cashier probably thought I was drooling over the photos." He ended in a tiny, depressed voice before looking up after a moment of sulking; a fiery determination in his eyes. "So what?" He said giving a nerdy pep-talk to himself. "The laws of physics weren't formed in a day! I'll just have to make some adjustments." Looking at his wrist watch, which he put under his shirt despite how annoying and unpractical it was, he let loose another sigh. "No time now but it's only one day of class; if I change by tomorrow, the impressions shouldn't have set too far in. Gah! What happened to blending into the background?" He scolded himself as he scrambled off the floor and grabbed the strap of his bag. Before leaving he took one last look in the mirror and glared with all the power he could muster.
It wasn't much.
"Don't think this is over!" He told his image sternly, wagging his finger at it has hard as he could. "I am going to fix this—mark my words." Then the tell-tale sound of a door slamming.
It was time to start a new life- hopefully this one would be better than the last.
A/N: Oh dear. Anyone want to see where this goes? Don't be shy with your opinions!