Gideon found Reid sitting on the swings, slowly spinning about, his messenger bad flung at the foot of one metal pole. The low metallic noise of the chains twirling around each other would normally bother Gideon, but today he was focused on his youngest agent. Dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, Reid looked like he would've been carded trying to buy a lotto ticket. "Garcia told me where to find you," said Gideon, knowing Reid had been aware of his presence since before he'd stepped out of the car.
Reid didn't look up, instead staring at the spirals his feet had left in the gravel. "Sometimes, I think Garcia is the one who knows everything."
Gideon didn't comment, just sat on the swing next to Reid. It had been a long time since he'd been on a playground with no dead children in sight.
"Child prodigies burnout, you know," continued Reid, watching the swing's chain slowly wind around one another.
"Not always," replied Gideon.
Reid picked his feet off the ground, letting the swing twirl him in it's dizzying spiral. "You're right. Less then thirty studies have been done concerning child prodigies, but some times you have to take anecdotal evidence into account."
Gideon stared out at the empty play structure. It was a wooden tower festooned with the garishly bright colors of childhood. There were no children playing, the sun just barely slipping below the horizon, and the emptiness of the place put him on edge.
"Dr. Thomas, my physics chair, he still thinks I made a mistake coming out here, getting that last Ph. D., playing with the FBI. He emailed me yesterday, offered me a job at the lab, if I wanted it."
Gideon did not let the growl escape from his throat, instead grabbing the chains of his swing harder. His instincts said protect, but sometimes it was better to wait, to hear the whole story before storming the castle.
"I didn't take him up on it. I thought about it. Thought about a career where you never have to kill anyone, never have anyone pull a gun on you. And it's not like I wouldn't be making a difference. Some of the most complex physics goes through Dr. Thomas' lab." This time Reid looked at Gideon, slowly tucking a stray piece of hair behind his ear.
Gideon mind went immediately to that half dug grave of damp mud. Tried not to think of what could have been.
"When I was at UNLV, I worked in that lab. It was my first Ph. D. and I was only fifteen when I started. Most professors wouldn't even consider being my adviser. Who wants a fifteen year old genius in their lab, breaking things and being a teenager?" Reid looked down at his hands. "I was never the most graceful child. It's one of the reasons I learned all those magic tricks." Reid twisted the watch on his wrist around in a circle, once, twice and then fiddled with the clasp.
"Children," said Gideon, in the voice of a knowing father, "need time to grow into themselves. We all broke things."
"The only reason Dr. Thomas took me in was Cameron Patel. He was seventeen and was in the master's program, and somehow Dr. Thomas had gotten roped into being his adviser the year before. So, he took me too. Made Cameron my buddy, my big brother and then pretty much let us run wild." Reid allowed the swing to straighten out, and planted his feet back into the gravel. A slow smile spread across his face. "I'm not saying we didn't study hard, but even the most mature teenagers could get in trouble unsupervised on a college campus. Having an accomplice just made it easier to hide the evidence."
Reid continued, "Dr. Thomas, he didn't just email me because of the job. The job used to be Cameron's. Now Cameron's dead."
Gideon waited. When Reid offered no further information, he asked, "Suicide?"
Reid merely nodded before letting the chain of his swing twist together once again, metal cold on his forearms. "Terman found the highly gifted children committed suicide three times more often than the average person, but several studies done more recently contradict that finding. He hung himself in the lab, one of the undergrads found him."
Gideon watched as Reid spun. The bruises were gone from his too skinny wrist, and the track marks had vanished even before that. The t-shirt was new though, Gideon hadn't seen him out of long sleeves since the hospital.
"You really didn't have to come out here," said Reid.
"I know," replied Gideon. "I did anyway. Though you might not want to mention that to Garcia. I think she thinks we're out here solving some vast conspiracy or maybe just fighting super villains. She said something about you being her favorite Robin," Gideon trailed off.
"Wait, Garcia's favorite Robin is Stephanie Brown. She's a girl and she's dead! If I'm going to be Robin, I think I'd like to survive the adventure."
Gideon couldn't help it, his eye snapped straight to Reid's face.
"Look," said Reid, and then paused for a moment, "I do plan to survive the adventure, you know."
Before Gideon could really process what had happened, Reid grabbed his messenger bag from the foot of the swing set. He handed Gideon two full medicine bottles filled with clear liquid. Gideon looked down at the bottles. He had, of course, known that Reid had them, had been the one at the hospital who had made sure that they'd made their way back to Reid. Gideon looked back up.
"I don't need them anymore," was Reid's only comment.