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Vanity and Vexation of Spirit

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"I can do this," Garcia assured herself and the people behind her, as she looked up from her screens and turned her chair around to smile at JJ and Reid. "I just need an extra set of hands, and you're going to get him for me."

"You already have someone in mind?" JJ asked, grateful and not entirely surprised. Garcia usually did her own research before asking for anything.

"Ringo." Garcia fluttered her fingers and grinned. "You don't even have to bring him to me. Just bring him the box and the phone, and I'll do the rest."

"The... Beatle?" Reid cocked his head, entirely confounded.

"No, the hacker." Garcia laughed and turned back to her screens, pulling up a file and a photo of a pasty-faced blond, with unflattering glasses and long hair. "He's done work for the Bureau before, but nobody's wanted to use him since Agent Spooky stepped off the weirdo-files around the turn of the century. Interestingly, that might be because they think he's dead. Which he's not. But, Spooky did a very good job hiding him."

"Does somebody want to put that in English, please?" JJ looked just as confused as Reid had, moments before.

"She's talking about Special Agent Mulder. He was originally B.A.U., but he wound up assigned to clean up some of the Bureau's unsolved cases. Rumour has it they were originally filed under 'U' for 'Unsolved', but ended up getting filed in the cabinet for 'X', when they ran out of room in 'U'. Entirely apocryphal, but it's the tale they tell. Rumour also has it that the cases finally drove Mulder to a psychotic break, and he was forced into retirement, along with his partner. It's a shame; I heard they were really a good team. I haven't been able to get a look at any of their cases, though. Everything they worked on is way above my clearance, which is a little strange."

"Yeah, Spooky Mulder was the master of the weird solve. I might have sneaked a look, and it's no wonder they said he had a break. It's straight out of a science fiction novel. But, the way he lays it out... assuming the evidence is what he says it is -- and there's usually enough third-party reports backing it up -- in the cases I peeked at, his conclusions are in keeping with the evidence. It's ... not pretty." Garcia glanced over her shoulder and grimaced. "But, this job so rarely is, which is why I surround myself with adorable wonders of the modern world." She picked up a small rubber unicorn and squeaked it at Reid.

Reid blinked, uncertainty pressing at his features. "It's very sparkly, considering it's made of rubber. But, you were telling us about Ringo."

"Ringo, my dearies, is a conspiracy theorist extraordinaire. And if Agent Spooky's records are accurate, he holds up well against a good challenge. His skills might, might, be in range of Yours Truly, but he doesn't have the ease of access we do, here, so it's a little hard to judge." Garcia waggled a hand, unwilling to pass that judgement solidly, and then picked up a small black box and a cel phone, from the edge of her desk and offered them to Reid. "You bring him the box and you tell him The Black Queen has a job for him."

JJ inhaled sharply. "You really want to do that?"

"He'll trust the Queen. What he won't trust is some random technical analyst from a department he's never worked with. And, of course, I am me, so I can answer any questions he has to prove it."

Reid took the equipment and squinted at the screen. "He's a lot older than you, Garcia. Are you sure he'll know who you are?"

Garcia's lips tightened and she picked up three cups before she found her coffee. "He'll remember me."

"Oh. You--" JJ's eyes widened and she gestured vaguely.

"Trust me." Garcia made shooing motions with both hands. "It's me. When am I wrong?"

Reid opened his mouth, and lifted a finger.

Garcia tipped her chin forward, staring all the more intently at him.

His mouth closed.

"And Spencer, my darling, my dear... you know we can't leave him working independently." Garcia fluttered her eyelashes and smiled a little too wide.

"So, we babysit him." JJ nodded. "Seems reasonable."

"No, he babysits him." Garcia pointed to Reid. "It's nothing personal, JJ, you know I love you, and that is why I am not going to put you in that room. According to the records, Ringo lived with two or three other guys, back in the day -- probably still does -- and at least one of them rates about a negative three on the social skills scale. I don't want that going on in the background while we're trying to work."

"So, you're sending Reid in by himself? That doesn't sound smart at all." JJ folded her arms.

"Reid is distinctly lacking in the jiggly-bouncy department," Garcia pointed out. "Sorry, Spencer, but you are. That booty does not bounce, and in this case, that's an asset. An ass-set. I'm just gonna back away from that, now. You're not a woman, you'll be fine."

"How bad are these guys?" JJ asked, wondering if they wouldn't be better off just arresting them for harassment.

"Just mouthy. It's not that I think you can't handle yourself, I just don't need the distractions. I don't need us to have to pause in the middle of this because you duct-taped somebody to a chair for your own continued mental health."

"I'm waiting in the car, Spence." JJ looked sternly at Reid. "With a gun."

"Of course you'd have a gun. You shouldn't be in the field without one." Reid's lips tugged up at the corners, suggesting the smile he was trying to hide. "You're aware that I am a fully-trained field agent, right? Not a damsel walking into a dragon's den?"

"Reid, you have this... way of just... things happen to you at a really inordinate rate," JJ argued, lips twisting in concern.

"Hey, at least one of those times, things happened to both of us. Things also happened to Morgan, to Hotch, to Prentiss... We're FBI agents, JJ. Things happen to us. It's in our best interests to plan ahead so as few of those things as possible actually come to pass, and right now, that is what Garcia's trying to do. I'm the token male in the office, right now, because everyone else is actually in the field. And it's up to us to bring them home safe, right?" Reid curled his shoulders in, seeming to shrink until he could look JJ in the eye. "So all we have to do is not distract Garcia's support. I'll be fine. Stay here and coordinate. I promise I'll check in regularly, and if I don't answer the phone, you can send in the locals, okay?"

"I don't like this." JJ jabbed a finger at Reid, before sighing and giving up.

"He's going to be fine, JJ. There's nothing dangerous about what he's doing or where he's going," Garcia promised. "Might still want to take the extra-large bottle of hand sanitizer, though."