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Brave

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He watches her from across the bull pen, through the glass window, watching as her arms gesture wildly, most probably explaining the latest mischievous thing her son had done. Though he cannot see her face, he knows her eyes have lit up at the mere mention of Henry, the way her voice becomes softer, yet more animated at the same time.

A small pang shoots through his body, and for a small moment, he wishes it was him she was so excitedly talking to, instead of Emily. But he knows she needs this, the reassurance that all is not bad in the world.

Especially since finding out he was leaving.

Music plays softly from the stereo Emily left turned on between their desks. He thinks back to all they have been through, the good and the bad, from a friendly first 'date' to his addiction to Dilaudid; she has been there for him.

Don't know just where I'm going
And tomorrow, it's a little overwhelming
And the air is cold
And I'm not the same anymore

I've been running in your direction
For too long now
I've lost my own reflection
And I can't look down
If you're not there to catch me when I fall

He walks towards the back of the plane, tickets tucked safely in his front pocket, rubbing sweaty palms on the sides of his pants. He sits in the vacant chair beside her, spinning it so he is now sitting sideways. Sticking out a shoe, he taps her thigh lightly. She looks up, and smiles when she realizes it's him.

"Hey," he greets softly, mindful that their unit chief is sitting not a few feet away. She greets him back, and then glances back down at the files in her lap.

"So, um..." he begins, mouth already dry. He clears his throat and tries again. "I, um, was wondering, er, I know you like the Red Skins, well, I didn't but Agent Gideon told me, and-" She holds her hand up, effectively stopping his rambling.

"Spence, stop," she says, laughing softly. "Just spit it out." He blushes and looks down at his hands. He clasps them together, left over right, then switches, right over left. One of the nervous gestures he and his mother have in common. She continues to wait patiently for him to answer.

"Would you like to come to the Red Skins game with me?" he asks quickly, blurring the words together. She looks up at him in surprise.

"I, uh," she stutters. His heart drops, but his face remains poker still. The sinking feeling in his chest grows as he moves to stands.

"I'd love to, Spence," she says quietly.

"What?"

"I said I'd love to go. When is it?" She repeats, amused.

"This Sunday," he spits out, and proceeds to show her the tickets. Inwardly, he sighs in relief and amazement, wondering how he ever managed to become friends with a girl like Jennifer Jareau.

If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid
But it's my turn to be brave

If this is the last chance before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid
'Cause it's my turn to be brave

He sits slumped in the chair, his bare feet stuck out awkwardly in front of him. His chest rises and falls, drawing in shallow, labored breaths. At first he can hear nothing. Then slowly he makes out the sounds of breathing. He goes to move his hands only to find them hand-cuffed together with what he assumes are his own cuffs.

Eyes fluttering open, he squints to see a dim light swinging slightly on a chain above him. He lifts his head up from where it rests on the back of a wooden chair, to see a man leaning towards him. Blinking, he opens his mouth, only for no sound to come out. He swallows and tries again.

"Tobias," he croaks, wincing as the sound vibrates along his sore throat.

"I am not Tobias," the man answers, picking up Reid's bare foot. He winces in anticipation for the striking blow to his foot. As expected, the lashing to his feet hurt no less than the last time. Again, and again his feet are whipped. He can feel the blood run from the fresh wounds.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he wills the tears behind them not to fall. Just think of JJ and the rest of the team, he thinks to himself. Oh, God, JJ. He hopes Tobias or Rafael or whoever this man was, hasn't gotten to JJ. Realizing the lashings had stopped and the man had left, he allows the tears to run silently down his cheeks.

He awakes again to see the man has returned, this time holding his belt out like a peace offering.

"What are you doing?" Reid croaks. The man doesn't answer but proceeds to tighten the belt round Reid's right arm. "No, please don't," he whispers, realizing what the man is planning. "Please, I don't, I don't want it," he begs. He feels sick that his has been reduced to begging. Just think of JJ and the team, he orders himself.

He feels the sting of the needle as it is forced into his arm, then the feel of the drugs course through his veins. He stares at the man in front of him, praying that nothing else bad will happen. Within moments, his is in oblivion, his last coherent word, "JJ."

"JJ," he echoes aloud, staring at the blond, glad for once that the bullpen is nearly empty.

All along all I ever wanted, was to be the light
When your life was daunting
But I can't see mine
When I feel as though you're pushing me away
Well, who's to blame, are we making the right choices
'Cause we can't be sure if we're hearing our own voices
As we close the door even though we are so desperate to stay

Letting go of his boss, he opens his arms, and then closes them around the warm body of Jennifer Jareau, hugging her tight. She squeezes her arms around him in return, breathing in deeply the unique smell that was completely him.

"I'm sorry," she says, whispering the words into his neck. He shakes his head slightly.

"It's all right. It wasn't your fault," he replies just as quietly. They let go, and she gives him a small, painful smile. His body aches at the loss of contact, wanting merely just to be held again, but knows that although she can hold him up physically, she doesn't need the added burden of holding him emotionally.

He watches her leave, head still held high even after the events from the past few days. He doesn't know how she does it. How she can be so strong after everything.

Years later, he still doesn't know. But one thing he does know is that JJ is his role model. She is the one who still stands tall in the midst of everything. She is the one who will still stay strong. Even when he leaves. Somehow, he knows this.

If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid
But it's my turn to be brave

If this is the last chance before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid
'Cause it's my turn to be brave

She lies on the couch of the jet, one hand pressing an ice pack to the back of her head, grimacing.

"Are you okay?" Emily asks, as JJ quickly swallows two pills with water.

"Yeah, doctor said it'll be sore for a while," she replies. "But I'm fine, really," she adds with a chuckle. His heart drops, thinking that she wouldn't have even been in this position if it weren't for him.

"I feel so bad I didn't go with you to interview Gina," he admits, carefully placing a warm rug over her body.

"Spence, stop, all right?" She sighs, exasperated. "We had no way of knowing she was going to be dangerous. She was just the friend of a victim. Granted, she was a schizophrenic friend with a sociopath partner." She smiles at him as he sits down at her feet. He smiles back at her, a small one that only she can see.

"And a shovel," Emily points out.

"Seriously, Reid, we had no way of knowing the Gina had that type of anger inside of her," Morgan says to him.

"Yeah, but she was obsessed with Dante. I should have known that level of fixation can lead to manipulation." He frowns. It is his job to know these things. His job to know the outcomes of the situations the team was frequently put in.

"But only when the fixation is coupled with schizophrenia, which we had no way of knowing," Hotch points out. But this is a fact that Reid feels he should have known. He should have been able to point out to everybody before someone had been hurt.

"Still, it never ceases to amaze me how dark an obsession can get," Emily says.

"With a pop star?" Rossi asks. "I mean, I was obsessed with the Rat Pack but I wouldn't have killed for Frank or Dean."

"No, you just drank whiskey and smoked cigars," Hotch points out dryly.

"What, this from the man who's favorite record is the Beatles' White Album?"

"Just because Manson hijacked it doesn't have to ruin it for the rest of us," Hotch answers stubbornly. Rossi chuckles and Reid can hear the soft laugh from JJ.

"That's why I stick to Beethoven. There's no chance of guilt by association," he says wisely. He glances back at JJ to see her shift her gaze to the rest of the team.

"Well, yeah?" Emily chuckles. "Have you ever seen a movie called The Clockwork Orange?" Emily asks him. He thinks for a moment, and then shakes his head, not at all regretful. Everyone laughs, even JJ, and he knows she doesn't blame him.

And I might still cry
And I might still bleed
These thorns in my side
This heart on my sleeve

And lightening may strike
This ground at my feet
And I might still crash
But I still believe

He holds her tightly, feeling the giant sobs shake her body. His shirt is soaked with her tears and he can feel the wetness seeping into his skin. His heart aches for the one in his arms, wanting to take away all of her pain.

"I can't believe it," she cries, clenching her fists into his soaked shirt. She blinks up at him, blue eyes red-rimmed, all traces of make-up long gone. He can't believe it either, but he refuses to break down in front of her.

They stare at the beautifully carved, mahogany casket resting upon the ground, dozens of white roses covering the lid. At one end, a single red rose lays, as bright as a fresh drop of blood. This is her rose. The one he had to help her place because her hand was shaking too much.

Still together, they take a step back, and this time he can read the gray marble headstone properly.

Here lies
William LaMontagne Jr
9/14/2011
Father, Husband, Cop
Always be loved and missed

Although she cannot see the headstone, she knows it is what he is reading. She is surprised to feel two wet drops drip onto her head. He is crying, too. He breaks his gaze away from the headstone to see her staring up at him.

"What?" he asks softly, wondering why she was staring at him so. She doesn't answer, but merely wipes away the remaining tears from his face. His eyes close at her touch, her fingers like soft butterfly wings brushing against his face. His insides are warm, and he prays to God that she can't feel what she is doing to his body. If this happens at only the merest touch, he can only imagine only imagine what it would be like.

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he asks, "You ready?" She nods, not trusting herself to speak. She gives one last glance to the casket, before together they walk, back towards the rest of the team, back towards real life.

This is the moment I stand here all alone
With everything I have inside, everything I own
I might be afraid
But it's my turn to be brave

If this is the last time before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid
'Cause it's my turn to be brave

All this he remembers in mere moments, all that they have been through in the last couple of years, all that he will miss.

He continues to watch her, not caring if everybody else could see how madly he feels about her. As the words of the song ring through his mind, he makes a fateful decision.

"'Cause it's my turn to be brave," he sings. He shoots up from the desk he once claimed as his, chair spinning wildly behind him, all but running up the stairs towards JJ's office. He bursts open the door, panting slightly, frightening the two women inside.

"JJ, it's my turn to be brave," he says, echoing the words of the song. "I love you."