I won nothing. Criminal Minds rightfully belongs to Jeff Davis. This is merely me, musing about a character I have long since wondered about.

Wheels Up

"Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying." Neil Armstrong.

"Wheels up in thirty."

The words come so easily, almost with every case. A mere routine reminder to gather gear already packed and to meet up again in the jet. The BAU was part of the FBI, and when you were a part of the FBI, travel was in the job description. And in a country as large as the United States, travel, more often then not, meant flying.

The sight of the plane is a familiar one; sleek, white, a bird of prey waiting for take-off. The interior as well is, by now, familiar; the comfortable leather seats and couch; the small kitchenette and bathroom, the table on which to spread either dinner, or the gruesome pictures of another crime committed. The interior is made for comfort, for luxury, a repayment perhaps for the people who must be available all hours of the day, ready to spring into action at a moments notice.

The BAU team, however, are not the only ones to inhabit the chartered plane.

What of the spaces uninhabited by the profilers, off-limit to them, as their area is off-limits to the other? What of the pilot?

Is it a man, comfortable in his role; perhaps handsome in his nicely cut uniform? Does he wear a uniform, or is he a wildcard, drawn to the FBI for his skills, his nerve, the thrill of flying into danger? Or is he shy, more comfortable with the workings of the plane, then with the passengers in the back?

Is it a woman? Did she have to struggle, work her way up in a world, a profession, still dominated by men? The FBI, piloting, both still carry the mantel, that musky fragrance of old tradition that so often clashes with the finer perfumes of a female. Or has she never felt these pressures? Perhaps, she has always been welcomed in her profession, her skills outweighing any pretense of gender.

Does it matter?

What of family? Is there someone waiting at home for this unseen pilot? A wife or husband? Siblings, parents or even children? We have seen the others struggle with family life and the demands of the job. Hotch and his wife and son, first happy, then, as the strain continues, divorced. Both injured, both nursing their grief, until the job costs Haley her life. One must wonder if JJ will fall into the same trap? Will dedication cost her, her young family as it did Hotch?

There is Morgan, whose family lives in Chicago. How often can he see them, how deeply does he miss them? What of Reid? He writes his mother a letter everyday, but she is still in Las Vegas while her son chases criminals around the states. Though ill, he cannot be at her side to help her.

Dedication demands a heavy price and the sacrifice is often made by the families. But does our mysterious pilot know of this sacrifice? Does he or she have to look up into the expecting faces of family and tell them that duty calls? Would there be resignation, anger, tears or subtle encouragement from the family? Or is there only the silence of an empty apartment, a one-bedroom perhaps tastefully furnished, but with a packed suitcase at the door, ready and waiting? Will there be a neighbor prepared to look after a potential pet, or is there no need for even this small concern?

And what of the duty itself? Is the call eagerly awaited or dreaded? Does flying across state borders at all possible hours of the day and the night cause excitement or a weary sort of sense of responsibility; a contract signed and in need of fulfillment? Is the call a precursor to a ruined weekend? Is the telephone watched with trepidation or anticipation?

Is it a duty or a burden? Does the cockpit door block the sound of another crime being discussed or does the knowledge of what he or she is flying into weigh heavily on their minds? So much death, so much blood, so much evil in the hearts of men. One can grow heavy from the knowledge.

What then, is the motivation to be the faceless pilot in a much larger story? Is it merely a job, a means to pay the bills and keep ones skills sharp? Is the pilot merely waiting for the next chance to fly the big commercial planes or to be hired by an industrialist or commercial firm? Is the money enough, or more evidence of a ridiculous government salary?

Or are those golden wings on the lapel enough compensation? Perhaps, there is no dissatisfaction with the job, the hours, and the pay. Perhaps, even the anonymity is bearable. Perhaps, being the faceless charioteer on the side of the rescuing angels is enough for any pilot, with the wind under the wings and the endless horizon before you.