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[Criminal Minds] Ray of sun

Title: Ray of sun
Rating: G
Genre: Character study
Series: Moments in Time
Characters: Spencer Reid, Derek Morgan
Spoilers: 8x15 Broken
Warnings: None beyond what's in the episode
Summary: Reid was far from being his old self again. But, as Morgan dicovered, there was hope.

Disclaimer: All characters are property of CBS, Jeff Davis, Edward Allen Bernero and sadly not mine. I just take them along for the ride. Special thanks to my dear friend Sarah for all her help and encouragement and being a great beta. Thanks to everyone who read and/or reviewed one of my others stories.

“What time was the body discovered?” Morgan’s younger colleague looked up at him from a stack of formerly blank different-colored cards he had jotted down some equations - or expressions or whatever they were called - on which, according to the man’s earlier explanation, had something to do with the times the watches of the previous victims were showing.

Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Derek shrugged and said, “I don’t know, an hour ago, maybe. Why?”

“You know the exact time?” Reid inquired further instead of giving an answer.

The older profiler didn’t know why it was so important but it wasn’t unusual for their genius to be a step ahead. And if his colleague could make sense of another detail of the case, he was all for it.

So he stepped away from the transparent board and walked over to the table at the center of the room before taking a look at the case files spread out on its surface. “A jogger called it in at… 9:04. He was running laps, so the body couldn’t have been lying there more than a few minutes.” Immediately the other man went back to his cards. With his arms crossed again Derek observed him, expression part surprise, and part anxious, as he waited for an explanation.

A wayward strand of hair was subconsciously pushed back behind the ear with a free hand as the younger profiler wrote some more strings of numbers on the cards that meant nothing to Morgan. Mouthing what he was jotting down, Spencer seemed to completely be in his own world again, no doubt mentally testing the already formed theory.

To Derek it was a welcome sight. It had been rare lately to see this familiar behavior from his friend. So he couldn’t bring himself to interrupt this process by asking what the numbers meant. He simply waited for the result he knew Reid would tell sooner or later.

In this case it turned out to be pretty soon. “I th-,” the other agent began a moment later in little more than a whisper before his voice grew in volume to a normal level, “-think I know what the messages say.” He felt silent again after that, his gaze not even lifting from the cards.

Anyone not familiar with the young man would have waited for him to continue. But Morgan was used to this.

It was almost like a game between them, even if it was more than likely subconscious on the other profiler’s part, that Derek had to drag whatever discovery Spencer had made out of him. But he was more than happy to play if it meant that the old Reid appeared from beneath the protective mask he had put on ever since Maeve had been killed.

So he said in a quiet voice that still held a challenging tone, “Reid, spit it out already.” It had the desired effect of bringing the other agent’s attention on him, or at least a good portion of it.

“6:22,” Spencer answered, straightening up while his gaze was on the cards a moment longer before he turned toward his colleague.

“Okay, are you talking about Michelle’s watch, or Doug’s watch?” the older profiler asked, still not understanding.

With joy that he managed to hide well he saw Spencer gesturing like he had done so often as the man explained, “I’m talking about all the watches. If you take the times the bodies were discovered, subtract the variance the corresponding watches were off by, you land within plus or minus 6 minutes of 6:22 every single time. Which, taking into consideration the time between dump and discovery and all the public areas and the fact that the only broken watch we found was already stuck at 6:22,-” Morgan took a look at the photo of said object even though he knew Reid was right.

Despite being a bit distracted by this he still noticed that his friend was hesitating for just a tiny moment before he continued. “-it’s reasonable to deduce the UnSub sets the watches to the exact same time just before disposing of the bodies,” he finished his explanation, given in his usual fast-spoken way, with barely taking the time to take a breathe, that required a careful listen to if one wanted to follow it.

But Derek was used to this as well. And even if he had been irritated by it on occasion in the past, it now was a piece of normality.

He, however, wasn’t used to what came after a moment of silence in which Reid’s face adopted a look of something Morgan identified as realization.

“So stupid,” the younger agent stated, his gaze wandering back to the cards on the table. “It was literally staring me in the face the whole time; I don’t know how I missed it.”

Derek knew that his friend expected a lot of himself, especially on a complex case like this one; everyone on team was like that. But the young man never voiced his self-blaming like this, especially not in front of someone from the team.

And he didn’t even have a reason to in Morgan’s eyes.

Sure, Reid always wanted to use his big brain to help people, but even a genius like he couldn’t figure out everything from the very start.

So Derek tried to reassure his colleague in a calm voice that took on a slightly soothing tone, “Come on, Reid, stop. You’re the only person who can realize all of this.” He gestured to the cards that held the answer. Bringing them back on topic he added, “So what does 6:22 mean?”

The senior agent had learned over time to expect everything, from a totally crazy sounding motive to a simple and obvious one. But what he got was totally unexpected.

“I have no idea,” Reid replied with his gaze swiftly averted.

The older profiler couldn’t believe his ears.

This was their resident genius, the man who had an answer to just about everything. And on the rare occasion he really didn’t he couldn’t be kept from formulating theories based on the facts he had ever-present in that big brain of his.

“Reid…” was all he could bring out.

Spencer’s reply was accompanied by a slight shrug. “All I know is what it says. I don’t know what it means.” It had been spoken just that little bit too fast for Morgan to not notice it.

Open-mouthed and frowning he was trying to process this. Something was definitely going on here. Something Derek couldn’t quite figure out yet.

His reaction went unnoticed by his friend though as Reid had already gone back to writing on the cards, leaving the older agent to stare at his bowed head.

The young man averting his eyes that quickly was a dead giveaway that there was more going on in his mind which he didn’t want anyone to see. It almost seemed liked he was holding something back, whatever that something was.

It was an unspoken rule to not profile your teammates, but Morgan’s worry won over.

Spencer obviously thought that he hadn’t seen this connection as fast as he should have. Was he wondering what else he had missed? Worried that they thought he couldn’t do his job?

It couldn’t be as simple as that, could it?

And then realization hit him.

Maybe Reid didn’t want to speculate because he didn’t want to be wrong. Each decision, each brilliant idea, each guess and each assumption had its consequences. It could mean searching for the UnSub in the wrong direction. And it could mean more innocent people would lose their life because of it.

So Spencer didn’t want to risk another person’s life due to a wrong assumption on his part, not after Maeve.

And Morgan couldn’t blame him for feeling that way, he really couldn’t. If he’d been in his friend’s shoes, he would have reacted the same way, everyone would.

Still, just moments ago the old Reid had been shining through again, like a ray of sun peeking through a cloudy sky. And Derek wouldn’t stop tugging at every obstacle for the whole sun to appear again.