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The Path of True Love

"You're being obvious, my affable little genius," Penelope Garcia chirped from her position just over Dr. Spencer Reid's left shoulder. "Blatantly obvious," she clarified needlessly, twirling the young man's desk chair around to face her as Ashley Seaver turned to peer over her own shoulder.

Yelping at the sudden intrusion on his own personal favorite past time, Reid blushed. "I don't know what you're talking about, Garcia," he mumbled with a frown, flicking his eyes toward her. "I was simply daydreaming for a second."

"Really?" Garcia drawled, perching on the edge of the young genius' desk and staring into his flushed face with a twinkle in her eyes. "And who the subject of that little fantasy?"

"What fantasy?" Reid floundered, his eyes widening almost comically.

Merely raising an eyebrow at the man shifting uncomfortably in front of her, Garcia smiled. "Boy, you've got it bad," she clucked, tapping her painted purple nails against his desk as she waited. "C'mon, Boy Wonder, admit you were thinking about our cute as a button little agent wannabe," she prodded.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Reid said nervously, dipping his head to avoid Garcia's keen eyes as his embarrassment amplified. He was certain that mind-reading was a parlor trick perpetuated by sham magicians intent on fooling the masses…but at that moment, he was also certain that Garcia was fully capable of performing just such a feat. And while he realized that she could probably read his tells and non-verbal clues as well as any profiler, he didn't have to like it.

"You know," Garcia chided, her index finger beating rapidly against his stack of papers, "mortals that choose to lie to the Goddess of Goodness should at least make an effort to do it well, lest said Goddess decide to smite her loyal subject."

"Huh?" Reid grunting, lifting and cocking his head as he blinked in confusion.

Rolling her eyes, Garcia huffed, "In other words, cut the crap, my delightful doofus."

"Oh," Reid said weakly, cringing slightly as he realized just how transparent his feelings for Ashley Seaver had become.

"You like her," Garcia said, tipping her head to the younger woman who was currently pouring herself a cup of coffee from the urn in the corner.

"Everybody likes her," Reid stated vaguely, silently congratulating himself on deftly sidestepping that accusation.

"True," Garcia conceded, crossing her arms over her chest as she tapped her foot against the industrial carpeting. "But you, my sweet prince, really like her," she said, lowering her voice conspiratorially.

Gulping anxiously, Reid shot Garcia a telling look. "This isn't an appropriate conversation to be having here, Penelope."

"Neither are those looks you keep shooting Ashley," Garcia countered with a mischievous smile, "And yet, you can't seem to help yourself, can you?"

Fidgeting with his tie, Reid squirmed under the weight of Garcia's gaze. Man, he was never going to hear the end of this now, he thought grimly. It wasn't bad enough that he was already experiencing these feelings that he couldn't seem to control...but now somebody knew about them. And just his luck that the somebody counted herself as the master matchmaker among them. Clearing his throat, Reid mumbled, "It doesn't matter if I like her or not. There are rules, Garcia."

Lifting one side of her mouth in amusement, Garcia simply met his gaze and waited.

"N-not that there's anything wrong with a little rule breaking here and there," Reid said quickly, his eyes going wide as he inwardly winced at what he'd said. "I mean, you and Kevin...that's different. You work in different departments on separate floors doing completely different things," he babbled, hoping against hope that his explanation would provide some sort of penance against whatever sin he had been perceived to commit. Offering her an apologetic smile, he begged, "Please don't hack my World of Warcraft account again."

"Shove your heart back in your chest, my little love," Pen soothed, patting Reid's stiffened shoulder gently. "Your secret and your password are safe with me."

Relief flooded him as he watched Penelope smile benevolently down at him. "Oh, thank you," he said faintly.

"But I would like to take this opportunity to impart a few pearls of knowledge the fates dropped into my lap this morning," she suggested with a sidelong glance in Seaver's direction.

"I can already quote all the fraternization rules in my sleep, Penelope," Reid mumbled with a heavy sigh. "Chapter and verse."

"Ah, but what if I told you there wasn't going to be a problem with those pesky rules soon?" Garcia inquired lightly, carefully watching Reid's averted face.

"What?" Reid asked blankly.

"Our little girl is growing up," Garcia said with an almost imperceptible nod in Seaver's direction. "She's been offered a promotion in another division. Which frees you from those stuffy mandates, my darling. As of tomorrow, she works three floors above," Garcia informed him, lifting her thumb toward the ceiling.

Narrowing his eyes, Reid murmured, "She's going to work with the task force on human trafficking?"

"Yep!" Garcia nodded enthusiastically. "Andy was particularly impressed by her on this last case."

"I got that feeling," Reid agreed, shooting Ashley a worried look. "But, doesn't that mean she'd be going undercover?" he whispered.

"Au contraire, mon ami," Penelope replied cheerfully as she shook her head. "Would I be sitting here trying to raise those hopes of yours if she was? She's going to be training to be a handler. In this office building every single day."

Blinking rapidly as he processed this new information, he felt Garcia patting his shoulder again.

"Earth to Dr. Reid...earth to Dr. Reid," Garcia singsonged as she smiled, shaking the young man's shoulder.


"Just making sure you were still with me." She winked, amused when his eyes automatically gravitated back to the general direction of Agent Seaver. "Boy, you've got it bad," she chuckled, pushing away from the desk. "Well, I can see my work here is complete," she added as she grinned.

"Wait!" Reid yelped, grabbing Garcia's arm before she could disappear. "You said pearls of wisdom. Plural. Was there something else?" he asked eagerly.

Barely containing the jig she planned on dancing once she reached the safety of her lair, Penelope deliberately widened her eyes and snapped her fingers. "Why, I did say that , didn't I?"

"Pen," Spencer groaned softly, dropping his chin to his chest. "C'mon."

"Well, I do have one teensy weensy little piece of information left," she whispered conspiratorially.

Looking up at her expectantly, Reid waited. And waited. And waited. "Well?" he hissed, his body virtually vibrating with tension as he impatiently hung on Garcia's last statement.

Taking mercy on her naive friend, Penelope crooked a finger and bent down to his ear. "You really wanna know, Sweet Pea?"

Nodding eagerly, Reid held his breath.

"She watches you, too, when you're not watching her," Penelope confided, patting Reid on the cheek as she rose again. "Do with that what you will, my little love. My work here is done."

And as she walked away, Penelope Garcia smiled widely. The path of true love might never have run smooth, but she'd never met an obstacle she couldn't either move or motivate.

And with one last look over her shoulder, she watched Spencer Reid move toward Ashley Seaver's desk.

Evidently, she'd done both for her favorite clueless genius.

Who was the mastermind now?


Author's Note: Hello, Friends. A couple of announcements for all of you. First, you still have approximately ONE days to sign up for "The Masquerade Challenge" for October's on "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. We also have a "Freaky Friday" mini-challenge in progress for those interested. Details for both can be found at the forum. We'd love to have all of you sign up. I think we'll have a lot of fun this Halloween Season.

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