Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds.

Summary: Her hand in his feels like a validation. Like a concrete, tangible testament to everything he's been feeling for years. ReidPrentiss, oneshot

Um, yeah. So this fic has been through a lot. I've wondered what fandom it should be about, what pairing and all of that. I could never find a groove with writing this until I tried writing this in the Criminal Minds mindset. And here it is! I finally finished it and I hope that everyone enjoys this little fic of mine! I know I enjoyed writing it - once I knew what I was writing about. Anyway, thanks for reading!


Reid is not sure why it happened.

He's not exactly how it happens, either. All he knows is that it does, and he really can't think of anything else in that moment. That's odd for him, the boy genius that can think of various possibilities at any moment in time, always keeping them separate and organized in his head.

This is something completely different.

They had just gotten done with a case - a particularly hard one involving cannibalism in Hawaii - and it was one that had physically and emotionally drained the entire team. A father, leading his son and daughter in that practice. Wanting to continue the tradition. Nothing about it was easy, and Reid was sure that the whole thing would be starring in his nightmares for the foreseeable future.

He had just boarded the plane when it happened.

Reid had sat at his usual spot, resting in a seat, leaning against the table with his hands twined in front of him, and thinking of the whole case. Thinking about things that could have been done differently. Thinking about why the father had thought this was okay. The usual post-case things.

He hadn't even heard Prentiss sit opposite him, hadn't even heard her question.

However, he did feel her hand as it slipped into his.

He looked up at her, looking just as confused as he felt. He stared at her for a moment before he cocked his head to the side. There didn't seem to be any words he could say, only the fact that - she's holding your hand, he thought frantically.

He doesn't pull away.

He can't bring himself to, to be honest. There was something disarming and soothing about her touch that he just couldn't bring himself to pull away from. There should be millions of thoughts racing through his head, or something equally cliché, but he can't even form anything but the one constant thing, ringing through his mind.

Emily Prentiss is holding your hand.

Sure, it had been done before. She had, on occasion, taken his hand, but there was something completely different feeling about this. The gesture of comfort and friendship and maybe something more was enough to suck every thought out of the thought-filled Spencer Reid.

He stared at her, his intelligent eyes searching hers for an inclination of why she was doing this, or something like that. Reid shouldn't even bother with that, really, but he liked reasons for why things happen. Causes and effects. How this would make their relationship different. She yielded nothing.

The only thing Prentiss did was stare back, those dark eyes of hers able to frighten and excite him all at the same time, as her fingers - bitten nails and all - stroked the back of his hand in a soothing gesture. There was an intimacy to it that was unheard of in his life. He can't for the life of him think of a time when anything like this remotely had concerned him.

Sure, there was Lila. But that was all kissing and nothing like…nothing like this.

Kissing was intimate, sure. One of the most intimate things he could think of, but this seemed to reek of something even more personal. The simple act of hand holding was almost so personal that it mimicked the feel of tying his tie too tight.

He couldn't help but think that this wasn't even happening to him. This had to be a dream or something equally surreal. Prentiss couldn't be holding his hand, looking at him like he was the most precious thing to her.

Reid couldn't believe that.

There was also something more concrete to it. Unlike a dream, this had so much weight tying the two of them together. Her hand in his feels like a validation. Like a concrete, tangible testament to everything he's been feeling for years.

Years. What a funny term. Years and years and years of wanting her, of needing her. He went through every encounter they had shared together. Each case, each close call, each triumph flashed through his mind, fleeting and poignant. Even the smallest moments seemed to hold more weight than any other. All those images ended with her casket, feeling so heavy being suspended by his spindly arms as he walked to her grave.

"But we buried her…but we buried her…" Those words are on loop in his brain, and the fact that he sounded so wounded when he said that was proof that he meant what he said. Not that he needed any more proof other than the fact that he felt it.

"Prentiss, I - "

Her lips quirked into the smallest of smiles, cutting him off as clearly as if she'd shouted.

She said nothing, though.

Reid supposed that there was nothing else that could be said. As hokey as it sounded, her touch spoke volumes.

So Reid did the only thing that he could think of.

He gripped her hand so tightly he was sure that he saw her chuckle.

Letting go simply isn't an option, anymore.

As if it ever was, he thinks simply, curtly, finally.