Title: Father Knows Best
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters: Gideon, Reid, and the gang
Word Count: 629
Summary: Gideon's had kids on his team before, but not like this. Follows this
Gideon watches the new kid, and kid is the right word for it because for all his genius he’s got the awkward uncertainty of his age, waiting to see if he’s right. Instinct tells him that despite the problems of alcoholism and potential sociopathy Dr. Reid could be a valuable member of the team. Caution and experience tell him to keep an eye out anyway.
He never tells Reid he’s worried about his drinking, his isolation, his inability to connect with others. Doesn’t leave pamphlets on his desk or drop well-meaning conversational anvils or tell stories about this cousin or that uncle. He orders soft drinks or fizzy water when they go out for dinner as a team, when they’re in the field, even after the case is over and they’re decompressing. Hotchner knows, and Morgan takes his cue from the boss. He keeps Reid distracted with puzzles. Locked room mysteries, informational quirks, strange fruit. He notices Reid has trouble integrating his emotions with his intellect, and challenges him to a game of chess. Reid looks puzzled but not angry when he loses, confused that the natural order of things has been upset.
Days pass. Weeks. Their assignments take them out of town regularly but not too frequently. He keeps an eye on Reid coming into work, keeps an eye on his receipts coming home. Once or twice he makes his way out to Bethesda for sushi and an evening spent trolling the local bookstore. He notices when Reid doesn’t notice the checkout girl hitting on him.
He intercepts Morgan when the other agent takes an interest in the kid, suggests a bar might not be the most comfortable environment. A coffee shop might be more his style, and Morgan agrees. Gideon watches from across the room as Reid tenses up the first time Morgan asks if he wants to grab coffee for an hour, since it’s going to be a long night. Hotchner’s too professional to be a jock.
It’s not the next day but two days later as they’re flying back to Quantico that Reid offers to play some straight-up poker with Morgan. Reminding him that Reid was raised in Vegas, Gideon observes with interest. The kid flinches when he beats Morgan into the ground, but the older agent laughs and insists on a rematch to win some of his pride back, if not his money. He doesn’t, but Reid tries to gain points by setting up an impromptu blackjack table in the plane, talking like a carnie barker to cover his nerves. Elle and Hotchner join in, making him the center of positive non-work-related attention for the first time since he joined the team.
When Reid makes a year without a drink, when Hotchner and Morgan have backed up ‘Dr. Reid,’ when he can hold a conversation with Elle and not stutter his way into silence, Gideon leaves a poker chip on his desk. Reid looks over at him with that raised-eyebrow shy-smile stare.
“Is it my birthday or something?”
Gideon chuckles and nods over his shoulder. “Or something, Special Agent Reid,” he says. Adds, before Reid can turn around. “I’m proud of you.”
He understands. They both understand, always have. Morgan and Hotchner have come up behind him by the time the rest of it sinks in. “I’m not a probie anymore?”
“And you know what that means, right?” Morgan says, right behind him, and Reid jumps. Eyes him with exaggerated suspicion, but his shoulders are down and his hands are unclenched. Gideon smiles, turning away.
He’s still walking when Reid starts babbling protests, laughing, the sound of him backpedaling over someone’s opened file drawer. Morgan says something about hazing, and he rolls his eyes. Smiles.
Puts up another picture in his office.