AN: Hey, I'm back! I'm at a bit of a sticking point with The Most Sinister of All Things, and I'm rewatching the old episodes, so I figured I'd add more to this one-shot series.
Also, for the sake of continuity, let's assume that the entire team – Reid, Hotch, Morgan, Garcia, and JJ – weren't fully aware of each other until the Fisher King story arc. That makes part of this story make more sense.
"You kick like a nine-year-old girl."
Hotch smiles faintly. Reid returns the grin. Satisfied, Hotch starts to turn away, but Reid's voice stops him.
Did you mean any of it?
That stops his boss cold. Hotch is still new to this – he's not used to hearing Reid inside his head, isn't really sure how to make himself heard, isn't sure about a lot of things. He's not even sure if Reid meant for him to hear that or not.
The other day, Hotch tried to discern if he was the only one who could hear Reid. As far as he knows, he is – or rather, he's the only one aware of it. He caught JJ answering one of Reid's questions without him asking it yesterday afternoon. Garcia does the same thing. Elle, Morgan, and Gideon remain immune. Hotch is the only one on the team who knows what's going on, and he hasn't let on to Reid yet.
Well, now is as good a time as any.
He focuses on the thought, on sending it to Reid. He's really not sure how this works. Mean what? He watches as Reid's eyes widen, his gaze snapping from his lap to Hotch's face. For a brief moment, Hotch can taste Reid's fear, then it's gone. He turns to fully face the younger agent. Reid, mean what? What I said to Dowd? Slowly, Reid nods. It's a small, subtle thing, unlikely to draw the attention of others. They must look odd, just staring at each other like they are, but Hotch can't bring himself to care. He can't pull away and bring this to a more private environment; Reid will just shut down. He's going to have to settle for standing here like an idiot. I was pretending to sympathize.
Reid just looks at him. You sure it was just pretending?
And suddenly everything snaps into place. Everything Hotch said to Dowd, Reid must have heard at some point in his life from people who mattered much more than his boss. Hotch wants to smack himself. How could he be so damn careless? How could he forget –
Don't you dare treat me like Gideon does, Hotch. Reid snaps. Don't think I'm some kid that needs to be coddled. Just tell me the truth – that's all I want.
Hotch wants to glance at Gideon, but he keeps his gaze trained on Reid. The truth? You're the best damn profiler I've ever seen, with the potential to be the best agent, if given the room. He lets a small smile flicker across his face. And if you'd trust in your aim.
That earns him a smile in return. Hotch walks away then, letting Gideon and Morgan have their moment with the younger agent.
After it's all over, and the agents have retired for the night, Gideon pays Hotch a visit. Hotch isn't expecting it. Gideon is a hard man to read on the best of occasions, and Hotch finds it harder to profile him every day.
When Hotch opens the door, Gideon doesn't give him the chance to speak. "What the hell were you thinking?" the older agent snarls.
Hotch blinks. "Excuse me?"
"What were you thinking giving Reid a gun?"
Now that really isn't the question Hotch is expecting. Kicking the kid, maybe – after all, the one thing Hotch is absolutely sure of is that Gideon has a soft spot for Reid – but not giving him the gun. "Well, it wasn't like I could shoot him. He was watching me."
"So you trusted the shot to Reid!"
That shocks Hotch even more. "You wouldn't have?"
"No! I would have done what was necessary and left Reid out of it." Gideon is positively livid. This is the most animated Hotch has seen the man outside of work. "Hotch, you know how young he his – you can't just leave things like that in his hands."
Don't treat me like Gideon.
Hotch scoffs. "He's not that young, Jason. And he's not that weak, either." He fixes Gideon with a hard stare. "Maybe if you'd let up a bit, you'd notice it."
That startles Gideon. "Let up? Let up how?"
"Let Reid run his own show. Let him prove himself." Hotch shrugs. "He did today."
"But Hotch – "
"Go to bed, Gideon." Hotch sighs and returns to his bed. He wonders, briefly, if Reid has been listening in. It doesn't take him long to figure it out.
Hotch smiles to himself. Anytime, Reid.
As Gideon leaves, JJ appears by the door. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't it be?" Hotch asks, tossing back his covers.
JJ shakes her head. She's already in her pajamas as well, but at least she sleeps fully clothed. Hotch prefers his boxers, which is not happening in front of his coworkers. He waits a moment, trying to figure out if the woman is going to leave or not. Discomfort is coming from her in waves; it's making him uneasy.
"I just – I got the feeling that something was wrong. That you were mad or something." She shrugs. "Must have been dreaming."
Hotch freezes. Before JJ can leave, he says, quietly, "Gideon and I had a disagreement. He made me mad. That's all."
JJ accepts that answer well enough. Hotch can feel her unease leaving.
Reid sits in the back of his mind, a tiny ball of satisfaction. Apparently two things went right today.
Hotch just shakes his head and goes to sleep. He'll worry about potential psychic coworkers in the morning.