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Of Genius and Gentility

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A.N.  Based on an idea posted on one of the CM forums. 


Of Genius and Gentility

“What are you doing?”  Reid had been passing by Rossi’s office on the way to scarfing some of Garcia’s chocolate chip cookies when he noticed the senior profiler sitting behind an uncharacteristically chaotic desk.  There were papers strewn everywhere, on the glistening wooden surface of Rossi’s workspace, on the carpeted floor….even on top of the new suede carrying case the BAU founder valued so much.

“Editing.”  The word might as well have carried barbs, it was delivered so sharply. 

Reid picked up on Rossi’s degree of annoyance….but it didn’t serve to deter him.  “Don’t you have someone who does that for you….like an editor?”

Rossi pounded a few keys, then resumed the murderous look he’d been sending toward the monitor. 

“My editor tells me I have to appeal to a younger audience.  She gave me the breaking news that ‘times have changed, people expect a different kind of presentation’.  I don’t know why she’s handling me, if she doesn’t get what I write.”

Reid was about to sympathize, but never got the chance.  Rossi turned to him abruptly, the light of an idea in his eyes.

“Hey, wait a minute.  You’re young.  You’re part of this younger generation she wants me to appeal to.”  He studied his younger colleague for a few seconds, deciding.  Then, decided, said, “Spencer, why don’t you write this one with me?”

He had unwittingly precipitated a rare moment of speechlessness in the young genius.  Reid’s mouth opened and closed twice, without emitting a sound.

“Spencer?  Oh, Spen---cer…”  Singing it at him, waving his hand in front of the seemingly transfixed eyes. “Are you with me?”

Reid literally shook himself out of it.  “You want me to write a book with you?”  The man whose books I virtually memorized even before I memorized the FBI handbook?

Rossi’s ego harrumphed.  “Not writeConsult. You can help me with some of the phrasing for the younger readers.  You know, keep it relevant for them.”

Even as he heard the words escaping his lips, Rossi wanted to retract them.  Who am I kidding?  This kid isn’t even from this century!  I should have asked JJ.

But the look on Reid’s face stopped him from changing his plans.  The younger man virtually glowed with pride, and honor….and gratitude.  It touched Rossi that his words should have had such a profound effect on a young man whom he’d come to respect.  Even, if he was honest, he sometimes thought Reid was nuts.

“What do you say?  Will you do it with me?”

He’d never realized Reid could smile so widely. 

“Of course, I will!  I…thank you!  Thank you, Rossi!” 

As the younger man walked back down the narrow mezzanine, he could be heard talking to himself. 

“I’m writing a book….with David Rossi!  Incredible!”

That’s when Rossi realized he could smile pretty widely, too.

“Whoa!  What’s got you goin’ there, Pretty Boy?”

Reid had just plopped down in his office chair, tilted it back,  and begun spinning around, grinning.

“You’ll never guess.”

“Well, that’s a sure bet, where you’re concerned.  Seriously, what’s up?  Did Hotch finally get you access to the X files?”

Emily Prentiss was seated in the third cubicle.  Reid had gotten her attention, too.

“The X Files?  Tell me you don’t believe in that stuff.”

Reid stopped spinning and planted his feet on the floor.

“Emily, there are a great many things we don’t understand.  It’s important for someone to keep track of them.”

“But….aliens?  Really?”

From his posture, his teammates could see that Reid was about to go into full professorial mode, and Morgan flashed Emily a look that said ‘thanks a lot’.  She shrugged him an apology.

“That was a TV show.  A pretty good one, actually, but still, a TV show.  And the motto, ‘the truth is out there’ is very appealing, because most people have a need for things to be black or white.  They want real answers.  They have trouble living with uncertainty.”

“Aren’t you an engineer?”  Emily had dated a few.  In her experience, there was a definite personality type.  “Don’t you need things to be in black and white?”

Reid went briefly introspective, and Emily was concerned she’d said something out of line.  But then he emerged.

“I used to.  I used to believe in black and white, and right and wrong.  But I don’t anymore.”

Morgan narrowed his eyes at his younger companion.  “What changed?”

Reid shrugged.  “Everything.  Me.  Gideon.  Now I’m studying philosophy, and it turns out that most philosophers don’t believe in black and white at all.”

Emily’s voice held more than a tinge of recognition.  “It’s all shades of gray.”


Morgan was perplexed to have found himself unexpectedly in the middle of a deeper conversation than he was accustomed to having in the middle of the bullpen.  So he went back to his initial question.

“So, what’s got you so fired up, then?”

Reid looked from Morgan to Emily, and back again.

“I..."  pausing, for effect, " writing a book.  With Rossi.”

Two sets of brows went up, and their owners exchanged a glance.  Morgan verbalized it for them.

“You’re writing a book with Rossi?  About what?” 

And has the old man finally lost his mind?

Arms waving wide to take in the whole of the bullpen, Reid responded.

“This.  What we do.  Our cases.  He wants me to collaborate, to ‘bring in a younger voice’.” 

Making finger quotes.

Emily couldn’t restrain a smile at the obvious pleasure of her young friend.  But she hardly thought he would be bringing a young voice to Rossi’s work.

He was born old.  And his childhood just made him older. 

Still, she was happy for him, even if she was concerned for Rossi.  She took one look at Morgan, and knew he was thinking the same thing.

There goes Rossi’s blood pressure.