A/N: Timeline is Criminal Minds season 6 post-"JJ"
Strauss interlaced her fingers as she faced the man across the desk from her. He wore a nice suit, and had a very secretive job.
Daniel had no problem laying his arms on Erin Strauss' desk. He'd done the same to people he respected far more. The woman reminded him far too much of the likes of Woolsey before Atlantis and every other bureaucrat Daniel had ever met. "We both know why I'm here. According to what I've been told, you're Dr. Reid's boss."
"I am. He's an asset to the Bureau, very dedicated to SSA Hotchner and the BAU. Getting him away will not be easy, though for a position like the one you're offering, I'm sure it would be possible to convince Dr. Reid that it's in his best interests." Strauss was smiling inside. She'd succeeded in getting a feather for herself by Jareau's going to the State Department, and now she had the opportunity to boast of one of her agents taking a job with the Department of Defense.
Daniel leaned backward. He didn't like this woman, and he was feeling a little guilty of trying to take Dr. Reid from his teammates and the fact that his boss wasn't doing anything against it bothered Daniel. "I'll need a SCIF conference room to read him in."
Hotch was about to walk into the BAU when he heard a voice behind him. "Heads up, Hotch."
He turned to see a friend, SSA Callard in Counter-Intel. "Heads up about what?"
"There's a head hunter about Quantico this week, looking to Pied Piper himself some agents away." Callard nodded knowingly. "God knows we've all got people other members of the alphabet soup would want, you already lost Jareau and all. All I know is to keep a head up for a guy who looks like military light in a suit with glasses, armed with words like 'Department of Defense,' 'Pentagon,' 'Air Force,' and everybody's favorite, 'classified.' "
"Thanks for the heads up." Hotch pushed open the glass doors and considered.
They'd already lost JJ to State, who else could someone be aiming at to recruit away from the BAU?
As he walked among the desks, he seriously considered who else might be a recruitment target. It depended on who this mysterious head hunter worked for. God knew universities all over the country would like to have Reid. He wasn't blind to how many other opportunities Morgan had available to him. Rossi was unlikely to leave the BAU, he didn't even need this job, much less any other. Prentiss had access to the ambassador's contacts. Garcia, anyone else in the alphabet soup would happily recruit her away, though Hotch couldn't see Garcia being convinced to take another job.
Flicking on his office lights, he made a note. Reid and Morgan were the most likely targets, he'd have to try to avoid giving them a reason to quit.
Daniel dropped his laptop bag on the conference table in Quantico's SCIF room. The computer he pulled out had two large stickers inside of it, slapped on there by a paranoid net admin when he'd taken the computer out of Cheyenne Mountain. TOP SECRET SCI – SAP ACCESS – DSRT.
And he knew he'd been at this way too long when he understood everything on those classification stickers. He got out his folders on Reid out and reviewed them.
Of course, the biggest problem Sam herself had pointed out when they'd started digging into the young agent, a complete lack of real experience in the fields where he actually held his doctorates. She had had good things about to say about his dissertations, and the limited work he'd actually done in the hard sciences, but three years ago they had both agreed to not approach Spencer Reid then. Things had changed, and they'd both decided it was now or never to approach Dr. Reid about the Stargate Program, before he hit ten years with the FBI. Daniel headed back out, locking the SCIF room behind him. Now, he was going to take Dr. Spencer Reid back to Colorado with him or die trying.
The team came in roughly in the same thirty minute block of time. Reid had, not exactly forgotten, but put aside the strange encounter a few years ago with Dr. Daniel Jackson and Colonel Samantha Carter.
He dropped his bag on his desk, looking down at the memo laying on his keyboard that had come directly from Section Chief Strauss.
Puzzled, he read it out loud just as Morgan and Prentiss came in and she pulled out her desk chair. " 'Your presence is required at 2 o'clock in the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility conference room for a briefing regarding other opportunities given by Doctor Daniel Jackson of the Deep Space Radar Telemetry program.' "
Prentiss pricked up. "Wasn't that the guy at Homeland whose ass you saved a few years ago?"
Reid nodded absently, stuffing the memo into his desk. "It is, actually. What other opportunities are they talking about?"
Morgan and Prentiss gave each other a look, instantly negotiating what they both knew. So soon after JJ had gone to the State Department, they weren't allowing some secret squirrel suit at Homeland Security to take Reid away from them too.
While Prentiss sat down, Morgan headed off to Garcia's office. He wanted to know everything there was about Dr. Daniel Jackson, anything new since the last time they had gone digging after the incident on the subway.
Garcia turned around and grinned. "And what can my most awesomest ever Derek Morgan want?"
"Remember that guy you tried to dig something up on for Reid a few years ago? Doctor Daniel Jackson?"
"The 'Man Who Does Not Exist and is Protected by Government Secrecy'? How could I forget?" Garcia was already bringing up her search access.
"Yeah, him. We think he's headhunting on Reid." Morgan leaned forward, knowing that would set Garcia off.
"Somebody's trying to get Baby Genius away from us? Oh, they already took JJ, they are NOT taking Reid away, too." She frantically typed on the keyboard, within minutes she had internal communications about Dr. Jackson.
"He had a memo laying on his desk from Strauss when we came in. Two in the SCIF room for a meeting."
"In the SCIF conference room? So somebody just walked in, trying to take Reid away, and they give him the conference room. Let's see what's being done about this." Garcia typed and pushed away from the keyboard. "Guess who authorized Mr. Secrets to use the SCIF?"
Morgan knew it, with absolute certainty and without reading Garcia's screen. "Strauss."
"Got it in one, my honey. She's clearly trying to encourage and assist this guy to haul Reid away."
"Doesn't she know that this team needs Reid? We can't lose him too! And it's gotta be something cool and big if he needs the SCIF." Garcia would give her graphic novel collection to know just what the mysterious Dr. Jackson was going to tempt Reid with.
"Dig up anything else you can and let me know, Babygirl." Morgan patted her shoulder and left. He was not going to let someone lure Reid away.
"Oh, you can guarantee it! I will find out what this guy had for breakfast this morning!" Garcia turned back to her computer and focused on trying to dig up a past that maybe wouldn't be concealed by government firewalls.
Daniel re-arranged the folders he'd brought to show Reid, making sure the NDA was on top of the materials about the SGC. He checked his watch and figured Reid would show up well on the side of early for a 1400 meeting, based on what he'd learned about the younger man. He had been able to dig up far more on Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid than the much younger man had been able to find on him.
And he'd had to have Sam translate Reid's three doctoral dissertations. She'd been impressed enough by his published work to immediately put him on the SGC's 'Hard Science Wish List,' budget cuts be damned and despite a lack of real world scientific experience.
And the budget was a problem. Daniel flipped through his information on Spencer Reid. They'd be hard pressed to give him a GS grade or a contract commiserate with what they were getting; almost ten years with the FBI and extensive academic education. And they had to be able to beat his current paygrade.
Daniel sighed to the conference room in general. He knew the SGC couldn't match Reid's current GS grade. "At least I can tell him the whole truth, maybe the temptation will be enough to bring him in without being able to match his current pay."
With Morgan gone and Prentiss putting up a decent show of working while watching Reid, he got up from his desk with the memo and headed for Hotch's office.
The unit chief read the memo and looked back up at Reid. "I can't say I wasn't warned. Somebody told me there was a headhunter about. If Strauss is pushing this directly to you, I can't just hide you from Dr. Jackson without taking her on."
Reid shook his head. "My encounter with Dr. Jackson was pretty brief and involved more questions than answers, but if I say I don't want to go, I can't see him forcing it like the State Department did to JJ. I wanted to make sure you knew, that somebody was looking at me."
"Go to the briefing, Reid. If they try to force your job change and you don't want to go, I'll help you fight. But from what I've heard, you should give this a chance." Hotch hoped he wouldn't see Reid's resignation, but refused to treat him like a child.
"I can't think of much that would get me to leave the team, Hotch." Reid left the office to go to his desk.
In the bullpen, Morgan walked in to see Prentiss and Rossi trying to be casual about their proximity to Reid's desk as Reid came back to it from the mezzanine. Finally he had to ask. "Is there an intervention going on that nobody told me about?"
The two looked at each other. Prentiss coughed. "No, no, of course not. I was just talking to Rossi."
Reid laid his pen down. "Telepathically? You two haven't said anything for five minutes, you've been staring at me." He looked at Morgan. "And here you come. Is there something I should know?"
Everybody but Reid looked at each other. Surely the little brother of their team didn't understand what the SCIF room briefing was all about, right?
Reid checked his watch and got up. "I'll be back, Hotch knows about this. I promise to come back with my head on my shoulders." The group was gaping as Reid walked out, then paused at the big glass doors. "Guys, you realize how many people wanted me back when I was leaving college? I'm familiar with being headhunted, this is just the first one you've noticed."
Morgan opened and closed his mouth, and finally got words out. "You've been headhunted while you were with this team?"
"A lot." Reid walked out, satisfied at rendering his teammates speechless.
Prentiss looked at Morgan and Rossi. "Anybody else think there's a lot of things Reid doesn't tell anyone?" All it took was two identical looks. "Of course, we all know that."
Jordan Todd was waiting by the SCIF room when Reid walked up. She smiled when she recognized him. "Dr. Reid, it's been a while."
"That it has. So, you're here for the," Reid gestured at the conference room as the door was opened.
"Kind of. My boss sent me to, try to learn something." Todd glanced at the door, wondering how much of the grapevine was true with the rumor that had started in Counter-Intelligence and grown.
Dr. Jackson cleared his throat as he opened the door to face the pair. "You can come in if you want, Agent Reid, or do you prefer doctor? Anyway, my reading materials are on the table, go through them after you sign the NDA while I check some last minute things with my videos."
Reid stepped past the older man. "Spencer is fine, Doctor Jackson."
"Daniel, please." He gestured at the conference table. "Choose your seat. I'll explain everything in a few minutes."
Daniel went back into the conference room and Todd looked at Reid, digging for any rumor. "Any idea what this is about? He obviously wants you."
Reid whispered. "I think I'm being headhunted."
Todd found herself left as Reid went in and closed the door behind him. "I wonder if Hotchner knows?"
With the door closed, Reid picked up a thick folder and opened it, facing a Non-Disclosure Agreement on top of the documents. Daniel tapped the sheet as he sat down with the laptop between them. "I'll need you to sign that, Spencer. What I'm about to tell you is classified under the requirements of Secure Compartmentalized Information strictures. I'm sure you know this, but breaking the confidentiality of the agreement will probably get you fired from the FBI. And nobody will believe what I'm about to tell you anyway. I'm offering you a job with-"
"Deep Space Radar Telemetry?"
"That's what the outside world knows it as. We call it the Stargate Program. I usually start this explanation from the beginning.
"In 1938 a ring-shaped device known as the stargate was excavated near the Giza Plateau, with the sections of a coverstone that had protected the gate since it was buried by the Ancient Egyptians. The stargate was brought to America in 1942 and taken into the possession of the US military. Experiments were conducted on and off with the device, as it was believed to be a unknown type of weapon. In 1945, the first successful gate activation was accomplished more or less accidentally."
Reid didn't like interrupting, but he simply had to. "What do you mean by activation?"
"It's more dramatic to show you. Considering you and Sam's debate, you won't believe me if I just tell you." Daniel tapped some keys on the laptop and started playing video from 1945, as the gate activated and Ernest Littlefield walked into the active event horizon. "Another gate activation wasn't accomplished until 1996 when we managed to solve the point of origin problem. The stargate establishes a stable artificial wormhole between itself and another like gate anywhere in this galaxy, or another with the right power source and settings, using six symbols to isolate a point in three dimensional space and a seventh symbol for the starting point of the wormhole. For the past thirteen years, the US Air Force has been running a top secret operation known as Stargate Command out of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, levels below the NORAD facilities. 26 SG teams go to alien worlds to seek out allies and technology."
Daniel stopped there to let the younger man digest. Reid laid back in the chair. "Colonel Carter wasn't talking theory. But why- strike that, I know why you want me."
"After our encounter a few years ago, I looked into you. I know you did it, too. You impressed Sam, and she's routinely surrounded by some of Earth's best scientists."
"Garcia, our analyst, couldn't find a damn thing that hadn't been cleaned by the Pentagon. And if you knew Garcia, you'd know that's a big deal. And you should know that I've been with the FBI since I left college nearly." Reid ducked his head, sure that this had to be a deal breaker. "I haven't been at much lab work in a long time, to put it mildly. My theories get tested in court rooms."
"Colonel Carter dug up your doctoral dissertations, everything you've published. She's impressed with your hard science side work, even if it's limited. I'm not saying that it isn't a blip, but it's a surmountable blip." Daniel turned the computer towards Reid. "Any other questions you should ask now since I shouldn't answer honestly outside this room, secrecy is a real pain in the butt sometimes. You can keep my business card with my office numbers and government cell. I'll be in Virginia for the next week, some things at the Pentagon, and a friend in Homeworld Security I have to harass."
"Homeworld?" Reid blinked, then thought about it. "Well, I guess that makes sense, though. There's probably threats out there that really don't care what country is running the stargate."
"You are going to be just fine in the SGC, Spencer. You thought I worked for Homeland Security?" Daniel pushed back from the conference room table.
"It was the most likely conclusion! I save you from being kidnapped, which is the kind of thing that generally happens to people with some importance, and I have a three-star general standing in my section chief's office wanting to thank me."
"Yeeaaah, Jack's like that. He still considers me helpless sometimes." Daniel tried to find the words for a closing that would lock Dr. Reid in. "I won't lie and say this job is easy, what you stopped in the subway is, pretty much my life, but being with SG-1 paints a target on my back. You shouldn't have quite the same problem from just starting in the SGC."
"You don't know me." Reid had the files of particularly pivotal events in front of him, reading it. "I'm a magnet for psychopathic serial killers."
"Fortunately, the Stargate Program doesn't have any of those, unless you count what remains of the Goa'uld, even though I believe you'd call them narcissistic sociopaths, with delightful sprinkling of mass murder on a planetary scale. Their power was broken by another hostile party, and we beat the other hostile party."
Reid thought back over Daniel's explanation. "What exactly do the off-world teams do, I assume that's where I'd be wanted?"
"Most teams explore alien worlds, make first contact with alien races, hunt for technologies that we can make trade arrangements for and allies. Other teams are specialized, such as our dedicated archaeological team, or the combat teams. You'd have to pass the Off-World Qualification course first, but considering your FBI training, I don't see you having a problem there." Daniel thought back briefly in running some of those scenarios. "Though Goa'uld can't be negotiated with, and I know you'd try it. And Jack would have probably, fileted you alive for handing someone else your weapon."
"You obviously haven't talked to Agent Morgan, or my trainers at the Acamedy. And Agent Hotchner almost did. Since I'm already an government employee, how would that work?" Reid looked up from the file he was reading.
"You can either contract with the SGC, or we can directly transfer your GS grade and time over to us. You'd have a higher salary on the contract, but if you stayed on the GS scale, coming back to the FBI after a few years would be easier."
Reid laid the file down. "Um, this isn't a practical joke, right?"
Daniel shook his head and removed his glasses. "I'm afraid not. My job offer is very serious, and I recommend you think about it, and talk about the unclassified part with the people you'll leave behind here at the FBI. What you can say is that you are considering another job in Colorado Springs with the Deep Space Radar Telemetry program, operating out of the Cheyenne Mountain facility. If there's no other questions?"
Reid couldn't decide exactly what he wanted to ask, and Daniel started packing up his computer. "If you want to talk in more detail or want to take the job, call my cell phone, it's on the business card. I'll need lead time to re-book someplace where I can talk about the program more. This is ideal, but in a pinch as long we're alone I can talk."
Reid walked out into the corridor, turning the plain card over in his hand. It had very little on it, and Reid was sure the only thing that was true was Doctor Jackson's name and numbers. He didn't realize he passed Todd in the hallways on the way back to the BAU offices.
Daniel walked out last, securing the SCIF room. He really felt like he had him on the hook. He just had to keep Sam from co-opting Spencer Reid for the Hammond's crew.
Of course, he knew he had no claim if Reid decided to join the SGC. The man probably knew a lot in history, but had no formal degree anywhere in Daniel's little dominion.
But when some harebrain at Homeworld above them both had convinced Jack that recruiting from government agencies was a good idea, he and Sam had immediately dug into the young FBI agent who had probably saved Daniel's life, and now there was $50 riding on whether or not Daniel could reel Reid into the SGC.
He smiled as he flashed back to that conversation.
"Come on, trying to get him away from the Behavioral Analysis Unit is like if someone tried to take you from the SGC, Daniel. Dr. Reid's teammates are going to close ranks around him to keep him from leaving." Sam was packing her things to return to the Hammond in orbit.
"They can't handcuff him to his desk, Sam. He's wasted with the FBI and you of all people should see that."
"And I agree with you, Daniel, I do." Sam forced the suitcase closed. "But I dug up a lot of information on the BAU. He's their Daniel, or at least the way you were a few years ago. Accident-prone, the little brother, the genius who ends up in trouble all the time. He won't leave the FBI."
"You wanna bet on that?" Daniel was absolutely certain he could get Dr. Reid to join the SGC.
"I already have a $50 bet with McKay about who gets him if you recruit him. With Atlantis on Earth, they're pulling in a lot of personnel."
Daniel moaned, then got a smile. "Rodney could do with meeting someone who seems smarter."
Sam crossed her arms over her chest. "He has."
"Someone who he isn't attracted to. And is much, much younger and much more educated. Imagine him blowing his top the first time he gets a fact corrected for him."
Sam smiled. "I would willingly lose that bet with McKay just to see that. But you won't bring Spencer Reid in, trust me. I know what me, and General O'Neill and Teal'c would have done back in the day if somebody was headhunting you. His teammates will run you out of Quantico with their service weapons drawn."
Daniel had a thought. "You bet with McKay about whether the Hammond or Atlantis gets Reid? How about another one? I bet I can bring him. I know his type, I was him twenty years ago! Once he learns about the Stargate Program, he'll leave the FBI."
Reid walked back into the BAU and was instantly pounced by Morgan and Prentiss. "Hey, kid, we thought they abducted you away to Homeland Security."
He was still in shock from digesting Dr. Jackson's briefing. "It's not Homeland, Morgan. I can't talk about it."
They watched as he went to his desk. Morgan looked at Prentiss. "Whatever it is, he's considering it."
Reid looked at the desk around him as he threw his bag up on it, thoughts whirling in his mind about what was really out there. It was so far out there, he had to wonder if maybe his mother was right in the depths of her delusions.
And yet, Prentiss was watching him as she sat down. He didn't want to leave his team, family if he was honest with himself. What was he supposed to tell them? 'Guys, I'm quitting to take a job in Deep Space Radar Telemetry in Colorado, see you around sometime, maybe there'll be an unsub in Colorado Springs?'
And Reid knew he wouldn't be able to just commit to a mysterious government lab. He'd pursue a position on one of those 26 teams within months, and it was probable to be no less traumatic than his current job. He was pretty sure no military officer would tolerate the things Hotch had from him. Strike that, he was really sure.
And, and, there was the fact that it was a military project. And he wouldn't be able to tell his mother anything about this job. He imagined tromping across some alien world with a team full of soldiers who wouldn't give him the latitude everybody in the BAU did.
On the other hand, he wasn't the awkward kid he'd been when he joined the Bureau. He had his feet under him, confidence in himself, and the SGC must be used to scientists. And Garcia had managed to find old pictures of Doctor Jackson from his college days.
It made Reid feel infinitely better about his own chances that the older man hadn't started out looking like he could bench-press Reid.
In his office, Morgan was going through the email traffic from the unit chief news network and other sources.
To: Morgan, Derek SSA FBI BAU
From: Todd, Jordan SSA FBI Counter-Terror
Subject: SCIF Room Briefing
I'd be very, very nice to Dr. Reid for the next week or two if you want to keep him with the BAU. Whatever he just got read into, he was definitely considering it.
He might have let the warning pass him by, except things had changed after JJ had been yanked from their team, and he had to take this seriously. He was not letting some secret government project take Reid away from the team. Unless that was what Reid truly wanted. Morgan left his office to talk to his friend.
Reid looked up when Morgan came down into the bullpen. "Reid, could I talk to you for a few minutes?"
He knew what this about, it couldn't be anything else. And he still didn't know if he was going to follow Daniel Jackson away to Colorado.
Morgan stepped in and gestured to a seat. He didn't want to see Reid's resignation on Hotch's desk and was afraid it was going to happen. "So, I know you can't talk about that job offer."
"I can't. I signed a NDA before he started talking."
'Don't call him "kid" right now if you want to keep him.' "On a scale of 1 to 10, are you thinking about it?"
"A five." Reid couldn't lie to Morgan, so he didn't even try. "I'm imagining, well, I can't tell you the details, but I'm comparing me against the environment I expect to walk into."
Morgan nodded. "If this is really what you want, we'll all have the respect for you to not talk you out of it, Reid. But you'll be really missed around here."
He ducked his head slightly. "If I do decide to take this other job, I promise I'll say goodbye in person, Morgan."
"We know you will."
As Reid walked out, Hotch walked in.
Morgan got up. "He's on the fence, and I'm not going to patronize him, Hotch. If this is something he wants to pursue, I won't stop him."
Hotch nodded. "That's more or less what I told him when he informed me of the memo. Strauss is going to push this, whatever project Dr. Jackson is from, it's highly classified and notorious."
It took them both by surprise when Morgan's desk phone rang. He checked the incoming number and answered. "Babygirl, you gotta have something for me."
Garcia grinned in her office. "You have no idea. I managed to find some different avenues. Instead of starting from now, I started from the beginning, since I figured the government wasn't covering his distant past. Apparently, this guy was DEAD for a year in 1996, and another year in 2002. That's not even including the times he's been reported dead briefly by the US Air Force."
Morgan and Hotch stared at each other and wondered who the hell was really trying to take Reid from them. Morgan swallowed. "What else did you find, Garcia?"
She clicked another window. "Apparently, he's a disgraced academic, who dared to say out loud that aliens build the pyramids at Giza. Well, just that the pyramids were older than the ancient Egyptians and they didn't build them, but we all know what that means. He has a sordid juvie past from ten years in the state foster care system, and he hasn't published a thing in almost fifteen years, total recluse. And wherever he goes nowadays, talented scientists and academics drop off the grid in his wake. Notably one Dr. Nicholas Rush, among many others.
"And that isn't everything. I managed to dig up, I simply amaze myself sometimes, a connection between Doctor Jackson and a Colonel Samantha Carter, another accomplished scientist, physicist to be exact, who hasn't published anything for as long as he hasn't. And remember Alec Colson, the guy who was going to reveal that our own government knew about aliens-"
Hotch pinched the bridge of his nose. "Garcia."
At the other end, "And disappeared off the face of the Earth! Anyway, Colonel Samantha Carter worked with Colson's company on a governmental project, a control system for multiple engines on one aircraft."
Morgan leaned forward. "You are not seriously saying-"
Garcia crowed in triumph. "The US Air Force wants our Baby Genius to fight aliens!"
She turned around when Kevin knocked on her office door. "Who's fighting aliens?"
"The Air Force is trying to recruit Reid to fight aliens."
Kevin blinked at his girlfriend and then started slowly backing away until she came down from the caffeine.
Hotch and Morgan had absconded to the conference room with the massive information a determined Garcia had dug up. The complete picture was circumstantially damning.
Hotch highlighted one very old blurb. "Garcia, you on the speaker?"
"I am here, my liege. Which one are you looking at?"
"Ooh, I managed to connect him to a then-Colonel Jack O'Neill, and connect now-General O'Neill to Doctor Jackson."
Morgan read the piece. "Selig was apparently on the edge of a huge scoop when he was killed in a hit and run right in DC."
Garcia snorted on the speaker. "Hit and run arranged by the Air Force! Reid's mom is right! We can't let him take this job. They'll drag him off to a deep, dark hole somewhere to work his pretty brain off and we'll never hear from him again because his life will be so secret he can't even tell us he exists!"
It was Morgan's turn to nose pinch. "We know Reid exists, babygirl. I'm sure he'll stay in touch from Colorado."
"We can't let him be lured away by Jackson. There's no way Reid realizes how dangerous the job they're offering him is! It's Reid! They won't even mention all this ugly stuff and just dangle some epic Star Trek experience in front of him and we'll lose him. He can't realize how dangerous this is."
Hotch and Morgan looked at each other. Morgan broke first. "Reid isn't the same person he was six years ago, Hotch. I'm sure he's considered a thousand times in that big brain exactly how dangerous what Jackson is offering is. If we have any respect for him, we won't treat him like he can't make a career decision for himself."
Still on the speaker, Garcia fumed. "Do you want how many mysterious military deaths I've dug up, all connected to the same uber-secret program in Colorado! We can not let Reid take this job, Derek!"
Daniel was still deciding if the Quantico mess was as bad as the SGC's or not. He looked up to see the much younger Spencer. "You mind if I sit with you, Daniel?"
"Go ahead." He poked the food and laid the fork down. It was definitely worse than the SGC. "You want to get out of here and eat something that I don't need Sam to chemically analyze to identify?"
"Let me call my friends first." Reid got his phone out and dialed Morgan. And made the decision in his own mind, that by tomorrow morning, one way or the other, he'd give both the team and Daniel an answer.
Morgan pushed the speaker on his office phone, trying to ignore the presence of everybody else in his small office space. They were supposed to be gone for the day, he mused to himself. "Yeah, Reid, go ahead."
"I have to rain check that dinner with you and Prentiss, I'm really sorry to back out like this."
Garcia held her breath at the voice in the background. "Where were you guys going to go?"
The team looked at each other, everybody familiar with the nice dinner offered by someone who wanted you for a job.
Morgan shushed everyone and answered. "Anytime, pretty boy. Glad to see you getting out without being dragged."
Reid adjusted the phone at his ear as he followed Daniel outside. "Is everybody in your office, Morgan?"
"Which means she's listening from her office. This doesn't mean I'm leaving the Bureau, guys!"
Daniel held the door for the younger man. 'Yes, it does.' As they both walked out, Daniel found himself feeling almost guilty. He'd been only a few years younger than Reid when he'd cleared his second PhD. Reid had three of them and had gotten them years ago.
He couldn't imagine leaping into the Stargate Program when he'd been that young. But he hadn't spent almost ten years in the FBI before the SGC either. He'd done his research on Spencer Reid before ever putting him on the SGC's candidate lists. He had came through levels of crap that put him on par with SG team veterans and came out stronger on the other side. He'd thrive in the SGC, Daniel was sure of it.
He just had to convince Dr. Reid of that.
Prentiss and Garcia were talking quietly as they left. "Garcia, he won't Gideon us. If Reid decides to quit the BAU, he'll do it to Hotch's face in person, because Reid knows what it feels like to have someone leave without saying goodbye."
"I know that! But you saw what I dug up. He can't take this job, he's already been through so much."
Prentiss pursed her lips and made a note to call her mother, no matter she didn't like it. If anybody knew more about the mysterious job in Colorado, it would be Ambassador Prentiss.
Morgan kept looking at his phone while Clooney laid at his feet. How would Reid do it? Would he call him, give Morgan enough heads up so the announcement didn't come as so much of a surprise? Would he stay in touch at all, or would his job be so demanding and secret that Reid cut off all contact with them? According to Garcia, it seemed like everyone else involved with this had done just that, disappearing off the map completely. She'd insisted that it had to be deliberate, probably a protective measure to keep the civilians who joined this program from being easily found.
But what kind of job needed to hide its people like that?
As the soccer ball bounced back and forth, Hotch and Rossi talked about the possible loss of another team member.
"You know Morgan's right."
"He is." Hotch moved in to make a correction from the sidelines on one of his players.
"Reid isn't a kid anymore. I'm sure he knows what he's getting into, Aaron."
"I know Reid does, Dave, but do you really want to see this team after he leaves? JJ, Reid, who's next? Who else is going to be whiddled away from us? Prentiss, Morgan?"
"JJ didn't want to leave this team. Reid doesn't know if he wants to or not."
"And we're here and Jackson is luring Reid away from us." Hotch knew it was selfish and petulant, and that this was half as big as it looked, it was an opportunity that Spencer Reid would have to be an idiot to pass up, but he didn't want to lose him.
Reid slowly and thoughtfully ate from the plate. Daniel had taken him somewhere they could talk freely, which was why Reid had the pleasure of Jack O'Neill's company.
"So, that's Daniel Junior."
Daniel gritted his teeth. "Jack, would you mind helping me point out the good side of the SGC? He's on the fence and I'd like to have a commitment by tomorrow morning."
"You and Sam have a bet on this, don't you?"
"Don't - - - change the subject." Daniel looked at Jack from under his lashes.
"I know one of his bosses."
Daniel blinked in confusion.
"I met a man named David Rossi a long time ago. Do you know anything about the BAU? They catch serial killers, normal human people who are as twisted in the head as any Gould."
Daniel could sense that Jack was trying to make some kind of point, but he stuck to the position he'd taken with Sam. "Reid is wasted there, he's fifteen years younger than me and Sam and probably smarter, by some measurements. Sam and I have the advantages of experience for a real problem, but he never needs to go back to a reference text that somebody may or may not have spilled Mountain Dew on."
"Like Carter fixes all the time? And it was Diet Coke, Carter got me drinking that stuff."
"Exactly. No, Jack, it was definitely Mountain Dew, though thanks for confessing to the Diet Coke. The Mountain Dew must have been Mitchell or Vala."
"Anytime, Daniel." Jack watched the thin, young FBI agent. The man was a lot like Daniel had been longer ago than Jack would like to admit. He had seen what the years, despite all the wonders they had seen, had done to the innocent long-haired geek he'd met years ago, watched the transformation as Daniel had gradually become as combat competent as many military folks as a matter of simple survival. And the idea of somebody else that young stepping into the psychological meat grinder of the SGC, when he was already doing good things where he was. "You should back off of him, Daniel."
"What? And let somebody like that spend the rest of his life in the FBI? I'm not saying he's going to save the planet right off the bat, he's smart but he's not exactly Sam. But he has the right foundation to be good on a SG team." Daniel walked out of the kitchen carrying the casserole pan. "He's tougher than he looks, Jack. I survived, so will he. He's already racked up enough crap to compete with me in 'most personal disasters.' He already has weapons and tactical training, all a team leader would have to do is fine-tune him from his law enforcement basis."
Jack stopped Daniel. "So his best qualification for the SGC is that he attracts tragedy and disaster like you and he already knows how to kill? And can you honestly say if you'd known in advance about everything that happened to you on SG-1, you still would have gone with Catherine that night?"
Daniel jerked away from Jack without spilling the casserole. "You are forgetting an eidetic memory and three doctorates. And for your information, yes, I would have. Through all the hell and back, I would do it all over again, Jack. You know, provided I could take the past decade of training with me and be back in my thirties."
Jack crossed his arms and muttered. "Wait until you see 50, Daniel."
"Hope you're hungry, Jack made casserole." Daniel set the pan down on the table.
Reid pushed the meatloaf away. "Is it better than his meatloaf?"
Jack bridled mockingly as he walked in from the kitchen. "Hey, now, insulting a man's meatloaf, those are fighting words, Doctor Reid."
"Sorry, General." Reid tried to take another forkful of Jack's meatloaf.
"That was a joke, I'm rather known for them, and the maid who normally does my cooking is currently on a spaceship."
"Sam would kill you where you stand if she heard you say that. And the maid cooks worse than you do." Daniel started to dish out the casserole and wondered whether or not Spencer meeting Jack was a good idea. Then again, if he could survive Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill, he could survive anything anyone in the SGC could throw at him.
As they killed the meal, Daniel stood up and took his plates into the kitchen. When he returned, he nudged Reid's shoulder. "Mind joining me outside to talk?"
Reid dropped the fork, happy to escape Jack's cooking.
Daniel interlaced his fingers behind his back as they stood on the backporch of Jack's place in DC. "I did my homework on you after the subway incident, Spencer. Considering what you've already been through and came out stronger for, you already have what it takes to excel in the SGC, I know it. Your fields are more Sam like, but you remind me of me when I first got involved with the stargate. You think you're not capable of passing off-world qualification, right? Trust me, the course is not that hard, I've done more rotations running it than I'd like to admit, there's this one test I would love to see you on. Is it possible to negotiate with a sociopathic alien parasite?"
"Well, generally a sociopath has to believe there's something in it for him if he cooperates. The very definition of sociopathy involves a complete disregard for the needs or concerns of others. Though I wouldn't apply human psychology to an alien species. If the entire species has sociopathic traits, then it's not really a disorder if it's the norm for that particular species." Reid wasn't used to talking that much and not being cut off, but Daniel wasn't trying to stop him.
"With some experience back in the lab, you'll be great. So, do I get a yes?"
He wanted to give Daniel a straight answer, and yet he couldn't imagine walking away from the Bureau, and his teammates. Hotch, Prentiss, Rossi, Garcia, JJ, even Seaver, and Morgan. "The training isn't what I'm worried about, I made it through the FBI Academy, even if my team seems to forget that sometimes."
"Your team." Daniel knew that his target's teammates were the biggest obstacle, bonded in that way that SG teams that had been gone through hell for each other and come out the other side were. He had that with Sam and Jack and Teal'c, and Mitchell and Vala really.
Reid plucked his FBI credentials from his pocket, opening the wallet for Daniel. "I can't imagine leaving them. I've never done anything else but this. And I like what I do, because I know we're getting dangerous people out of circulation and saving the people we can."
"You're capable of a lot more, you could have a hand in saving the whole planet, trust me, it happens. And Sam and one of the scientists on a subsidiary project, arrogant bastard named Rodney, are toe to toe on having you assigned to them. They both know you're going to need lots of practical experience in your own fields, and they still have a bet riding."
"I've been kidnapped, tortured, infected with, something nasty, and held hostage several times. I can tell you've been through worse on the job." Reid gave Daniel a glance, profiling him on the spot.
Daniel didn't lie. "I was addicted to an alien healing technology, I lost my wife several years ago to an alien, I've been dead multiple times, I was briefly committed as schizophrenic due to gate travel which turned out to be an alien technology trying to get rid of a parasite I didn't have. I got recruited by alien religious zealots and forced to be one of them, my list of traumas is the stuff of SGC legends.
"I'm not claiming it's an easy job, but it's a job that is unlike anything else. Someday, when this is all declassified, I tell myself everybody will know what we've done to protect this planet, this galaxy, and that keeps me coming to work and going through the stargate. It's the same thing that drives you and your team at the BAU, just I'm working on a larger scale."
Reid scuffed his Converse on the porch and knew where he belonged. "I think I can give you a decision, Daniel."
Daniel shook his head, blue eyes meeting brown. "I'm losing my bet with Sam, aren't I?"
The next morning, a nervous group of people managed to actually beat Reid into the office.
Hotch looked at the nervous group and cleared the bullpen with a look. "If he's resigning, he'll tell us."
As Garcia left to her office and Morgan walked up to the mezzanine, Hotch quickly talked to him. "Did he call you last night?"
"Nothing, Hotch. If he's resigning from the Bureau, he'll do it in person, he told me he would."
Reid walked in and stopped dead when he realized everybody had beaten his normally first in routine. "Did I miss a phone call?"
Prentiss focused on a very interesting pen. "No, no, we're just a bunch of early birds this morning."
"Right." Reid dropped his bag on his desk and walked up to the mezzanine to talk to Hotch and Morgan. Halfway up the steps, he called back casually over his shoulder. "I'm not leaving the BAU, Emily."
Prentiss shot up in her chair. "You're not?"
Morgan laid his pen down from scanning budget papers. "Reid, man, sit down."
"It won't take that long."
Morgan braced himself to hear Reid say he had decided to quit the FBI. "Give it to me, then."
"I'm not leaving, Morgan."
Morgan didn't catch it at first, focused on what he expected to hear. "Reid?"
Reid couldn't suppress a small smile. "I said I'm not leaving the BAU. If you're that dedicated to me leaving, I can call Doctor Jackson from your phone."
"No! You mean, you're staying with the team?"
Reid nodded. "Did you guys really think I'd leave?"
"You were tempted."
"Can not deny that. But considering what I would have been getting into, which you know all about, don't you, Morgan? What did Garcia dig up?"
Morgan dodged the question. "We were worried about you, Reid!"
Reid shook his head in mocking disappointment. "And you didn't trust my judgment."
"We do. We just wanted to know who was hunting you, and one thing led to another."
"Anyway, after careful analysis of the dangers of both jobs, prospective future, commitments, moving expenses, I decided that taking Daniel's offer was the best option. However, I'm staying with the BAU, because of you guys, and I couldn't imagine . . ."
Morgan grinned. "Being without your friends? Doctor Spencer Reid making a decision based on emotions instead of facts? Hotch! I think the world's ending tomorrow."
Hotch leaned in the door from an eavesdropping position. "Let me know when you start seeing the Four Horsemen, Morgan."
Reid left Morgan's office, a weight lifted from making a choice. He waved at Prentiss as he sat down at his desk. She rested her hands on her desk. "You need to call Garcia before she has an aneurysm worrying about whether or not you quit."
"Oh, god, you're right. She'll kill me if I keep her waiting for an answer." Reid frantically grabbed his phone and dialed. "Hey, Garcia, it's me."
Daniel checked his luggage, phone pressed to his ear. "Sam, stop laughing. Yes, you'll get your fifty. No, Reid isn't coming back with me. All right, yes, I introduced him to Jack, that was probably a mistake. He misses you, by the way. Yes, I did everything short of bringing him into the control room to see a outgoing wormhole and SG team going out. You were right, I couldn't budge him from his team. I will see you on Monday."
Before she could respond, Daniel hung up the phone and dropped it in his pocket. And ignored the immediate ringing as the ticketer gave him his boarding passes. "Here you go, Doctor Jackson."
"Thanks." Daniel stuck them in his laptop bag and headed for the security point. He hadn't given up on Spencer Reid, he would just wait and keep a watch on him. When he caught a weak moment, and the team's activities could be found in a newspaper, he'd call on Spencer again.