Reid/Morgan, friendship/vague pre-slash, "he never got used to it. The effortlessness." Morgan sees Reid at ease, popular and admired and likes the way that confidence looks on him.

The Odd Game

"In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate." - Isaac Asimov

Derek Morgan hadn't always been popular but since college and his combination of weight training and timely growth spurt he'd certainly never lacked attention. He knew that not everybody enjoyed such effortless popularity. His somewhat socially awkward co-worker came to mind. So it was with great astonishment that while taking a walk through the park near the bureau that he found, at the centre of a fascinated crowd, one Spencer Reid.

He was playing chess with an Asian kid, their hands moving at ridiculous speeds. No space between one move and the next, no hesitation. Morgan wondered how much thought could possibly be going into each move, but then he also knew how smart the young genius was.

There was a small frown of concentration on the young agent's face and one of awestruck focus on the kid's opposite him. Morgan had never seen such ease in his friend except when he was spouting statistics or reading; he was seeing his friend in his element and for once he was surrounded by admirers.

These were people who respected the kid's genius, were enthralled by his skill, appreciated his high IQ. It struck Morgan profoundly that everyone Reid met should treat him like this, should be amazed by him. Instead he was looked at like something from outer space. Ridiculed and bullied for it.

Blindingly fast Reid had won his game and someone new was sitting opposite him, resetting the board while the kid he'd just been playing looked on, disgruntled. Morgan watched Reid send him a conciliatory look, as though apologising for his new opponent's brashness. The kid half-smirked back, shooting a look at the cocky man now sitting opposite Reid before glancing back and Reid clearly understood the message the way Morgan did. Kick his ass.

The game began and Morgan watched, still stunned by Reid's skill. He'd seen the genius play against Gideon once upon a time and more recently Prentiss and Rossi – before they'd given up trying to beat him. He'd even briefly caught sight of the tail end of Reid playing Hotch on a long plane trip home from a case. But he never got used to it. The effortlessness.

He felt it when his phone vibrated seconds before ringing in his pocket and watched as Reid's attention was momentarily diverted. It could only be a new case. Morgan sighed, watching as Reid flicked his eyes down to the screen of his mobile, back to the game and then, for just a second, at the kid to his side who was avidly watching the board. He moved a pawn and the boy's eyes widened slightly as he smirked, obviously recognising the move. Reid half-smiled and stood.

"Hey, hey, where're you going?" his opponent asked, annoyed.

"Gotta be somewhere, Eric knows how to finish though," Reid replied easily, patting the boy on the shoulder and guiding him forward as he stood. The guy across the board sized him up and seemed somehow cockier than before but the boy – Eric – didn't seem fazed and sat where Reid had been.

"Your move," he said, more assertively for Reid's show of confidence in him. The man sneered and made his move, the boy taking over seamlessly from Reid as the young genius parted the crowd, cell in hand, seemingly unaware of the pats on the back and the 'well done's and 'great game's from the admiring crowd he'd garnered. Morgan took the split second before he was seen to see the change in his friend; the way that, even though the shows of adulation seemed to roll right off of him unnoticed, Reid had a straighter back and surer walk than usual. Confidence suited him.

The genius looked surprised when he caught Morgan's eye and almost... embarrassed? If it was up to Morgan the kid would never again doubt his abilities or that he should be proud of them. He would get him to recognise respect and admiration if it killed him.

"Didn't take you for a chess fan," Reid said casually as they fell into step together.

"I appreciate the odd game or two," Morgan replied with a smirk. When you're playing was left unsaid. Derek Morgan decided then and there that he would see that confidence in his friend again.

I've had a recent bout of serious Criminal Minds love and have a few fics to share, this being the first and smallest so I couldn't wait to put it up. It's been awhile since I uploaded so let me know what you think! :)

thanks for reading