S3E12- 3rd Life

The young genius was taking a particularly long time assessing his next move when Emily decided to interrupt. “Reid?” she asked. “Is something on your mind?”

He looked up, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. The older agent waited patiently for a response, recognizing the look Reid always got when he was contemplating what to say next. At last he spoke, “Em, you spend a lot of time with Hotch, right?”

Emily set down the imprisoned bishop she’d been fiddling with. “Yes. As much as any of us, I suppose.”

“But a lot on this last case, right?”

She thought back. “Yes.”

“Did he-“ he stammered, “did he seem troubled at all?”

Emily frowned. Although it was always difficult to read the stoic Unit Chief, he’d seemed all right for a guy whose wife had recently filed for divorce. “No. Why, did you notice something?”

Does he seem troubled? At all?”

“Spencer, what’s this about?”

He sighed. “I’m not really sure. I just feel like I’m not the profiler I should be.” Emily’s face clearly urged him on. “I’ve been working with Hotch for a long time. Most of my professional career. I’ve been with him as he stood face to face with a machine gun and twenty hostages and everyone made it out alive. I’ve seen him talk an unsub out of killing half a dozen more people. I’ve talk a paranoid schizophrenic out of his delusion, and talk a manic depressive with a borderline personality disorder from killing themselves.” Reid’s voice was light and quavering slightly, like a bird. “I know it’s a childish thing to say, but why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be like him?

Emily thought about what Hotch had revealed to her just a few nights ago. If she thinks ending up like me is good, then I’ve failed as her leader. She winced as she realized his fear was much more broad than she had originally thought. Oh Hotch, she thought, don’t you see they all want to be like you?

“Spencer, you don’t have to be just like him to be a good profiler. We all have our own strengths.”

“I can’t help but think that I have all the wrong strengths. Emily, I’ve been in so many hostage situations.” Emily winced slightly as Spencer closed his eyes, envisioning all the horrors he’d experienced. “I couldn’t say anything useful when I was in the hospital at gunpoint with Hotch or in the train with Elle or captured by Tobias. I can’t help but think that if only I’d been able to do something, say something, that I’d have been able to prevent all of the death that came from that situation.”

“Spencer, I can’t tell you all the answers. But I know this: none of what happened to those people, none of what happened to you, was your fault.” Emily sighed and rested her head on her hand. “One of the hardest parts of this job is realizing that what an unsub does isn’t our fault. One of the biggest burdens we have to carry is the knowledge that we could have done better. We all struggle with it.” Emily smiled. “Even Hotch.”

“Even Hotch?”

Emily nodded. “Every one of us has moments where we falter, where we fail, where we just don’t know what to do. All that means is that we’re human.” She chuckled, a mischievous light in her eyes. “As much as we like to tease you for secretly being a computer, that includes you.” Spencer laughed quietly, thankful for the lightened mood.

She lent over the table towards him, her voice serious once more. “Reid, you found out where the unsub took the Lindsey. No one else could’ve done it half as fast as you did. Not even Garcia could create a geographical profile as fast as you. If you want to be able to talk your way out of a situation, I’m sure you’ll learn. It’s not a book you can read- it takes experience. But I know you’re capable of doing it, just like how I know you can do everything else you put your mind to. You’re incredibly smart yet you’re more than your intelligence. Somewhere beyond that funny little computer is a man with feelings and flaws. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

Spencer nodded, looking down. His lips quirked as he moved his remaining bishop. “Check.”

The dark haired agent looked down desperately. She leaned back and laughed, startling Reid, before moving her piece. “Enjoy it while you can. I’ve got you in three.”