Prompter: Christywild from Wishlist 2011; "Grief" square from H/C bingo.
Warnings: Mention of off-camera character death.
Disclaimer: I don't own House or Criminal Minds. Written for fun, not profit.
A/N: Set in season 8 for House. Also, I'm not a psychology major and that is very obvious in all my CM stories. Hope you still enjoy this.
Les yeux sont le miroir de l'dme
(The eyes are the mirror of the soul)
Reid watched from the two-way mirror a moment longer, staring into the blue eyes trained on the empty air above the lone table of the interrogation room. Dr. Gregory House's gaze was wide, full of expression, and more telling than the owner likely knew. After a moment, it lifted up to the glass, as he could feel himself being observed. It was a common reaction for suspects, and it didn't unnerve Reid in the least. He stared on, weighing the moment, judging if the wait had been long enough.
"Are you sure about this?" Hotch asked.
The unit leader stood at the younger man's elbow, arms crossed over his chest, focus intense as he blocked out the commotion from outside the small dark room—both of the men could make out the sound of David Rossi having a heated conversation with a detective, and they silently agreed to ignore it. The rest of the team had their assigned tasks. Just as Reid had his.
Reid nodded to himself. "Positive. He'll respond best to me. I need ten minutes."
Ten minutes. Ten minutes wasn't a long time, not unless there was a schedule to keep. This time, there was a life on the line. Ten minutes was an eternity, so Hotch's curt nod was a declaration of trust.
"Ten minutes," he agreed.
Without another second's hesitation, Reid broke eye contact with the doctor, slipping out of the viewing room and into the interrogation room. He shut the door behind him before anyone else could take notice. Not armed with his usual stack of files, he took his seat, hands sprawled over the table top awkwardly, his gangly body held straight.
"Dr. House. My name is Dr. Spencer Reid. I'm with the FBI's Behavior Analysis Unit."
"I know who you are, Baby Genius. We met already. Or don't you remember arresting me—that ol' eidetic memory failing you already?"
"We brought you in for questioning. You're not under arrest."
A loud clack of wood on metal didn't make Reid jump, as it had been intended, but Dr. House pretended not to be disappointed, bringing the cane back down again so that he could slide it onto the table.
"Do the Feds usually let suspects keep potential weapons on them? Is just the ones who are gimps?"
Reid gave a small smile. "We don't consider you a suspect," he corrected.
House smirked back. "Sure I'm not. Interesting tactic you have here, Baby Genius. Let me guess, Agent Tight Ass sent you in because you'd relate best to me, as a fellow smarty pants and all? Is the goal to build up my confidence by telling lies so blatant that a four-year-old sitting on Santa's lap could pick up on them, and then hitting me with the decent theatrics?"
Reid cocked his head. "A four-year-old sitting on Santa's lap," he echoed. "A four-year-old like Rachel Cuddy?"
"Wow, you are a fast one." Blue eyes shot up again, cold as ice. House threw out his hands, as if waiting to be cuffed, his grin wide, strained. "Well I guess you caught me—" He looked over the other man's shoulder, at the two-way mirror. "Looks like it was me after all, Mulder. I took the kid, stored her in my office under the desk. Feds 1; Gimp 0."
"You didn't kidnap her."
House frowned. "Boy, sure is hard for a guy to confess these days."
"You're not confessing," Reid corrected. "You're trying to distract me from noticing that you care for a four-year-old child's safety."
"Why would I care? She's nothing to me." House grew quiet but didn't so much as twitch.
Dr. Reid stared down at his fingers a moment.
"You understand why the local police wanted you brought in, don't you? You were their primary suspect. Ours as well until we looked back over your file. You have no alibi. You're a drug abuser with a violent history with the victim—you drove a car through Lisa Cuddy's house. From our preliminary findings, you're passive aggressive, narcissistic, obsessive... You could be mistakenly diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder." He paused a moment, catching the other man's gaze. It had moved from anger to disinterest to curiosity in a matter of seconds. "Admittedly, you suffer from most of the symptoms. You break the law. You disregard the safety of yourself and your patients. You're angry, and you lie, you steal, you con."
"Don't forget how witty and charming I am," House noted.
"But you're not." Dr. Reid leaned back in his chair, brow wrinkled in thought. "Perhaps on occasion. But you're not wearing a mask, not all the time. You're not a nice man unless you want something. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Because there's one thing you suffer from that a person with that disorder couldn't manage: empathy."
"That's me, Dr. Empathy," House muttered, "just ask anyone who knows me. Oh, wait…"
Reid didn't reply, simply staring at those wide eyes. The emotion stirring in them couldn't escape, not without lids sliding closed, and that would be an admitted defeat, so they stayed open. "I'm sorry for your loss," Reid said, softly.
House's fingers tightened around his cane. "Indeed, that is an example of empathy, Baby Genius."
"You're not a suspect."
"Saying it over again doesn't make it true."
Dr. Reid frowned. He leaned forward once more, his voice nearly at a whisper. "You're not responsible for her death. You did not murder Lisa Cuddy. You did not take Rachel Cuddy. This is not your fault."
Blue eyes swam, filled but not flowing over. They would stay that way, burning at their red rims. House rolled his jaw, pushing down whatever words had been on the surface. "I'm leaving," he announced, but didn't move.
"I kept you here for a reason, Dr. House. I think you know who killed Lisa. I think you know who kidnapped her child. You're obsessive. You solve puzzles. I could give you the profile, ask you if you know of anyone who fits the description, but you know already who he is." Reid's voice lowered again. "You know the name of the only person who Lisa hurt as much as she hurt you."
House pushed himself up off the chair, pulling the cane along with him. He winced when the weight fell on his leg, but the expression stayed longer than necessary.
Reid glanced over his shoulder, giving the mirror a quick nod, then stared at the doctor's back as he moved to the door, waiting for it to be opened. "You won't ask me to," Reid said, "but I'll call when we find the girl."
Dr. House froze a moment longer, shoulders high, face hidden. "You brought me here because I could empathize." He stopped to shake his head, his voice filled with something akin to admiration when it returned. "With her killer. Good call, kid."
The man didn't wait for a reply, disappearing out the door, his cane clicking against the tile floor. Reid watched after him a moment longer, regret in his eyes. He hoped his own weren't as easy to read as Dr. House's as he headed back out to find the rest of his team and join the chase, seven invaluable minutes now behind him.