Rossi thought going back to the BAU would be easy. He was David Rossi, after all; a world-famous profiler, one of those who had been around from the very beginning.
It wasn't so easy.
Morgan was nice to work with. Rossi would trust him to have his back, at least. Morgan wasn't hero-worshipping Rossi, but did treat him with the respect one of the founders of behavioral science could expect to be treated with. Rossi would have liked to have Morgan as a subordinate. As a team member.. well. He seemed to be more muscle than brain, more fit for SWAT than for BAU.
Prentiss was a good one. Rossi thought her mother likely had something to do with her being placed in this elite unit, but she wasn't a typical female – she had some muscle, for example. And her brain was excellent. This was the sort of team member Rossi liked.
JJ seemed to be OK as a person, but really – a media liaison? Communications coordinator? What use had the team for someone who wasn't a profiler?
Even Hotch was different. Rossi had met Haley, and he had worked with Hotch before, although that was when the BAU was still the BSU and there wasn't a team, really, just a group of people. So Rossi never really had met people where Hotch was fiercely protective of. But now he was working with those people. Rossi could have imagined him and Hotch being more than the others, standing above the team, but that wasn't the case. Hotch was the leader of the team, but he was also their friend and colleague. The team wasn't afraid to say so when they didn't agree with Hotch.
Rossi couldn't really believe Garcia had a full-time job, but perhaps she doubled with Archives or something. Really, there couldn't be too much that a technical analyst could do.
As for Reid.. Reid was the geek that thought he knew everything, sucked up to everyone, and was in the field more likely to be a liability than a help. He probably had never been in danger either. And seriously, did Reid thought it would impress Rossi to have his books quoted back at him?
And thus, when he saw Reid playing with a toy train in the bullpen, he couldn't help but comment, not knowing one conversation would change his thoughts on a lot of things.
"Aren't you a little too old to be playing with toy trains, boy-genius?" Rossi asked sarcastically.
Reid looked up at Rossi. "Actually, there is no set age for playing with toy transportation. But this isn't a toy. It's a gift from a friend."
Apparently the question was visible on Rossi's face.
"Elle Greenaway, she left a little more than fourteen months ago. She got me this after I rescued her and four other people from a mentally ill man. The man was convinced that the government was tracking his movements, and snapped when he saw Elle with a dossier in his train cart. I removed a microchip, which wasn't actually there, from his arm." Reid paused for a few seconds. "It happened in a train cart, so she got me this. Garcia insisted I keep it in my desk drawer. Since then, it's become something of a habit."
Rossi didn't really understand how Reid would remove a microchip-that-wasn't-there from someone's forearm, but didn't comment. "So, what other toys do you have?" he asked somewhat curiously.
Reid opened his desk drawer. "Garcia insisted I continue the habit – sometimes they are just waiting in my desk when I come back from a case. This whistle," he indicated a yellow whistle "was given to me by Morgan. I gave it back to him after I had.. proven I didn't need it, and I found it in my drawer after Elle and Garcia had given me some things to put in there."
"Hey!" Morgan interfered. "I still have that whistle!"
Reid looked across his desk towards Morgan. "You do?" He sounded surprised. "Is probably Garcia, then."
"Or Hotch," Morgan grinned. "You did save his ass in that room."
"Don't know why I did it, actually." Reid sounded far too innocent. "He'd just broken my rib."
Morgan stared at Reid. Rossi tried not to stare at Reid, but seriously wondered why Hotch had thought it fit to break Reid's rib.
"He broke your rib? Reid, you never told me that!" Morgan sounded concerned.
Now Prentiss looked up from her files. "Who broke your rib?"
Reid didn't really understand Morgan's emotion, apparently. "Morgan, you saw Hotch after that scene. He was feeling guilty enough already."
"Hotch broke your rib?" Prentiss spoke, sounding angry. "I'm gonna –" she stood, apparently about to give Hotch a piece of her mind.
"Prentiss!" Reid said urgently. When she didn't respond and moved towards Hotch's office, Reid also stood. "Prentiss!" he shouted this time.
"It was the only way we could get out alive," Reid rushed to say. "No hostages died."
Prentiss didn't look any less angry, but returned to her seat about the same time Hotch appeared in the doorway of his office. "Is everything alright here?"
Prentiss bristled and glared at Hotch. Reid replied brightly, "Yes, sir. We were just talking about nine-year-old girls breaking the ribs of.." Reid paused for a moment. "Others."
Hotch wasn't thrown off track and continued down to the bullpen. "I heard shouting."
Disappointed that his distraction hadn't worked, Reid continued, "Uhm, Prentiss was about to give said nine-year-old girl a piece of her mind and I stopped her?"
Rossi wondered how anyone could get away with calling Hotch a nine-year-old girl. Hotch, however, looked at Prentiss' glare and looked as if he was slapped in the face.
"I broke your rib? Reid, why didn't you say something?" Hotch sounded guilty, Dave noted. Reid had apparently been right about how Hotch would feel. His opinion of Reid rose a little.
Reid shrugged. "It had already happened. It didn't need to be set, and you were already feeling guilty. It wouldn't have come up if Rossi hadn't asked me about the drawer Garcia set up." Reid hesitated for a moment. "Besides, I've never found that day to be a bad memory, per se. Sure, it was the first time I killed someone, but.." Reid struggled with his words. When he continued, his voice was amazingly soft, and only Hotch – who was closest to Reid – and Rossi could hear him clearly. "I had just failed my gun qualifications, and yet this was your choice of action. You could have pretended to stumble and grab your leg, but you didn't."
Hotch appeared to understand that. "Still, I wish you would have told me."
Reid nodded in acknowledgement – it wasn't agreement and certainly not a promise to do different in the future, Rossi noted. He had no doubt that Hotch also saw this. There was a lot of mutual respect between the two of them, otherwise Hotch wouldn't have accepted that response.
It was silent for a few moments. Then Reid, attempting to break the tension, made a bad joke. Rossi had already realized that Reid always made bad jokes. Reid could mangle every joke till it was a bad one.
"Even after that, I've never watched 'A Hundred and One Dalmatians,'" Reid mused, although he looked a little hurt, still. It wasn't an angry or very sad kind of hurt; more a resigned sort.
Trying to alleviate the tension, Hotch raised his eyebrows. "We've never finished our discussion on the definition of classic narcissism either."
Reid gave a grateful smile to Hotch. "I did read the DSM. Do you want a quote?"
"Won't be necessary," Hotch said quickly. "So, what other items do you have?"
Reid hesitated. "I thought about keeping something to remind me of when we went to Gitmo, but we did lose and agent then, so I decided not to. I have Lila Archer's collage, because she didn't want to keep that one."
Rossi interrupted. "Wait. Lila Archer. That's an actress, isn't she?"
"Yeah, and Reid's girlfriend," Morgan spoke. "I caught them making out in a pool," he snickered
Lila Archer. Rossi didn't know a lot about her, but he recalled something about blonde and beautiful. And Reid
"It wasn't like that!" Reid sputtered. Everyone laughed. "She asked me to pull her out, and she pulled me in and kissed me instead."
"Sure it wasn't," Morgan joked.
Reid decided to get on with his tales.
"Garcia gave me model shackles after Hardwick," Reid concluded. "And that's about it."
"She should have gotten me those," Hotch muttered.
Reid flashed him a quick grin, apparently agreeing but not willing to say so. Again, Rossi noted that Hotch respected Reid's opinions and views. "It turned out alright."
Rossi thought what he remembered about when Hotch and Reid went to Connecticut to interview Hardwick. Rossi had been somewhat preoccupied so hadn't really taken in the details, but it was something about Reid talking down someone who insisted on killing Hotch and Reid, he believed. "What really happened there? You never told us." Prentiss asked.
Hotch and Reid shared a look. Reid looked unable to decide where to start. Hotch started. "We went to Connecticut to interview Hardwick, and I told the guards they could remove the shackles. Hardwick decided it would be a good idea to kill us, because that would prevent him from being executed a week later." Hotch was silent for a moment.
"You actually unshackled a death row inmate who was locked into a room with you?" Morgan gave Hotch an incredulous look. "And why didn't you tell us about it?" This was said with a look to Reid.
"Hotch didn't know there were no guards in that part of the building," Reid interrupted. "And why would I tell you? Nothing happened."
Morgan glared. "Still. How did you come out of that alive? Even your talking down-skills would have to be stretched thin for that."
Reid shrugged. "I delivered a thirteen minute lecture on what made him a serial killer. You know, his father having PTSD and a depression and his mother being bipolar and probably schizophrenic. Things like that."
Morgan snorted. "So the hypnotic quality of your voice calmed him down?"
Hotch interfered. "Hardwick appeared genuinely interested. But Reid, don't you have anything from Georgia?"
Georgia. Rossi had noted before that that case was never referred to by the name of the unsub. It was always called "Georgia".
Reid gave a vaguely embarrassed shrug. "These items are more of a reminder of what makes me proud than of.. defining moments. Perhaps in a couple of years I can add something. I don't have anything from Lindsey and Jack either, because it's not a success. I've never seen Georgia as a success either, really. Besides, I have the scars."
Hotch nodded, partially in understanding and partially in acceptance. "You survived – I'd call that a success. How long has it been?"
Reid gave a small shrug. "A little over nine months. Why?" A tiny amount of insecurity crept into his voice.
"Reid," Hotch spoke sharply – but there was something different in his voice. A small amount of sadness, quite a bit of pride and a wish to make Reid believe what he was saying, Rossi thought.
"That is something to be proud of."
After that conversation in the bullpen, Rossi had paid more attention to Reid and had refined his opinion of him a little. Reid didn't turn out to be that much of a suck-up after all – even the fact that he could quote Rossi's books better than Rossi could himself appeared to have more to do with Reid's eidetic memory than anything else. When Rossi asked Reid how often he read a book, Reid just blinked.
"If it's prose and modern-day English, usually once. Why?"
Rossi didn't know how to answer that, really.
Then Rossi and Hotch ended up sharing a hotel room on the next case. When Hotch was unpacking his go-bag, a book fell out. Rossi was surprised when he saw just which book it was.
"Aaron, since when are you Christian?" Rossi was sure Hotch wasn't a Christian – or at least not a practicing one.
Hotch looked at Rossi. "I'm not."
"Then why do you have a Bible?" Rossi didn't really understand that part.
Hotch motioned towards Rossi's bed. "Sit." Hotch himself sat down on his own bed.
After a minute of silence, Hotch spoke again. "Do you know what happened in Georgia?"
Rossi didn't know what that had to do with anything, but spoke truthfully. "Something bad happened to Reid there, I think."
Hotch nodded shortly. "I sent JJ and Reid to a witness who turned out to be the unsub. He had DID and was using God to justify murder."
Hotch was silent for a moment. "And?" Rossi prodded gently.
"When they found out Hankel was the unsub, they split up. Hankel had gone into the barn and they were planning to keep him there by covering the doors. There was no cell service, but they reasoned that I would send backup if they were gone long enough." Hotch shrugged. "It wasn't a bad plan."
Rossi nodded. Splitting up was never ideal, but letting an unsub get away was generally worse.
"Things went wrong, and Reid was kidnapped. The unsub posted a feed of Reid's torture on the internet, and Reid managed to give us clues, one of which was calling me a narcissist and misquoting a Bible passage." Hotch gave a wry smile. "Ever since then I always have a Bible with me on cases. Reid knows that. It's not for religion – it's for reference. Should something similar ever happen again, Reid can give us a clue that way."
Rossi nodded. It made sense, in a way. "What happened to Reid?"
"During the torture or how he was freed?"
Rossi shrugged. "Both."
"The torture – that's not my story to tell. As for how he was freed.. When he was digging his own grave, the unsub left his gun unattended. Reid shot him just as we entered the graveyard."
Rossi frowned. "That bad?" He, himself, didn't know whether he was referring to the torture or the 'digging your own grave' part.
Hotch nodded. "Thad bad," he confirmed.
Rossi's respect for Reid went up a notch. He wondered why Reid didn't consider Georgia something to be proud of.