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Stepping Stones

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1. Apatite

Morgan settles down into the booth and Reid scoots next to him. Morgan flashes him a brief smile and continues talking to Garcia.

"Baby girl," he says into his cell, not even trying to mask his exasperation, "you and Reid are going to be the death of me. You know that right? Someday all your facts are going to fill up my head and its going to burst."

"Well, actually," Reid says. "It would take about fifteen psi for a skull to crack from the inside. Even in cases of severe swelling, the brain cannot exert that much pressure on the skull."

Morgan gives him a look, the one that says, "you are driving me crazy," and Reid gives him the "but you enjoy it" look right back. Garcia just laughs over the phone line.


2. Feldspar

Garcia hangs mistletoe in every strategic location she can think of. Her most inspired location is directly over the coffee maker in the break room.

Prentiss is first. She blushes when Garcia points out the mistletoe, but submits to the kiss on her cheek gracefully before demanding the location of every sprig of mistletoe in the building be mapped out for her. When she catches Hotch, he just laughs and places a gentle kiss on her forehead. Gideon grumbles, but finally accedes. Reid turns bright red and stumbles backwards into the wall when she points out the mistletoe. Hotch and Gideon are trying not to laugh, and Morgan and Prentiss wander over to see what all the commotion is about.

Garcia leans in and whispers, "Lets give them a show, genius mine." Reid nods and doesn't run when she kisses him full on the mouth in front of all their colleagues.

Morgan wolf whistles and that sets off Hotch which gets them all laughing, even Reid. Morgan comes over and slings an arm around each of them, pressing a kiss into the top of her head. She's so glad he's here and he's him after everything that happened, everything he hadn't wanted them to know coming out.

"Merry Christmas," she says, leaning into him.

"Merry Christmas, Penelope."


3. Quartz

Reid is better now. He goes to meetings. He apologizes to Prentiss. He does everything he should.

It takes him longer to make amends to Garcia than all the rest of them, though. She keeps trying to feed him and so he finds his mouth full, both of her cookies and of the words he meant to say to her.

He's going to do it this time, though. He needs to. He sends Morgan in first to take out the baked goods he knows are lurking.

"Garcia, I…"

"Oh, Reid. You don't need to say anything to me. I know. I know and its okay," she says and he allows her to pull him into a hug and hold him close.


4. Spinel

Garcia gets shot and Morgan moves in for a month. Reid is there almost as often and the rest of the team rotates their "just in the neighborhood" drop-ins on a tight schedule. Reid's even made a spreadsheet, but Morgan will deny that to Garcia until the cows come home. Still, Garcia slowly recovers and so does his heart.

The first case they work after is stressful: too much identification and too blurry a line between perpetrator and victim. Morgan calls Garcia every night, and when he's finished talking Reid takes over like clockwork. Repetition, pattern, habit: it doesn't take much for him to need to hear her voice before he feels safe to sleep at night. The last night they're there, she calls in the afternoon to tell him she's turning in early, and he paces the hotel lobby from ten to midnight, fingers itching to dial her.

It's Reid's idea to pick up Lebanese from Garcia's favorite little hole-in-the-wall. The plane touches down by four and they've got food and made it to Garcia's by six even with the snow coming down hard.

Garcia checks the peephole, he can hear her on the other side, and then lets them in, eying the food hungrily. "This smells amazing," she says, and sets out plates and silverware as Reid unpacks the bag.

"Did you know that the Lebanese…" Reid starts.

"Reid," Morgan says, all affectionate smiles as he ruffles the kid's hair. Spencer Reid has wormed his way into Morgan's comfort zone these last few years, though it's just been recently that Morgan realized it. "Food."

Reid looks down at the plate full of food in front of him and collapses into the chair.

"It's not going anywhere, Reid," Morgan says.

"I've seen you eat," Reid replies.

"Boys," Garcia says, trying but failing to look stern, "there's enough food for everyone." She uses their moment of distraction to grab a container back from Reid, and his look of betrayal sends them all into a fit of laughter.

Their laughter, however, is interrupted by a power surge: the lights flicker, once, twice, and then go out for good.

They clean up as best they can in the dark, bumping into each other in the flashlight's dull light. Reid steps on Morgan's toes and Morgan accidentally hip checks Garcia, but they get the work done.

"Stay tonight," Garcia says. "I don't want you driving out in that." There is a solid wall of white as the wind whips up snow from the ground and mixes it with the snow still falling from the sky.

"I'll just crash on the couch," Morgan says. "Reid can sleep with his feet hanging off the love seat."

"Hey," Reid interjects.

"Just come get in bed with me," Garcia says. "It'll get too cold in here with no heat and what would Hotch say if I let you freeze to death?"

"Baby girl," Morgan whines.

"You know I'm right."

Reid looks at the love seat and then back at Garcia. "She is right."

"Fine, but no one is telling Hotch about this."

"Deal," Garcia and Reid say in unison.


5. Corundum

For one horrible moment, she is sure that Morgan is dead. That he hasn't made it out of the terrorist trap.

His voice coming over the crackly radio is the sweetest thing she's ever heard.

He drives Hotch home, because that's what he does, but he comes home to them. Garcia is waiting with Reid, who has attempted to alphabetize her book shelves three times since he walked in the door. They know Morgan is on his way, but they both jump anyway when he knocks.

Garcia checks the peephole, even though she knows it's him. She's carefuller about things like that these days.

"Hey," Morgan says when they let him in. She closes the door, and Morgan reaches for Reid.

Reid kisses him first. She's not even expecting it, but standing there watching them together, Garcia knows this is the right choice. they've been dancing around this for years now and it's finally time.

She holds out a hand to each of them, and they both take hold off her as she guides them back to her bedroom. Morgan kisses her hand before he lets go, and Reid swings in to kiss her on the mouth.

It's different this time: Reid kisses her like the world is ending and he is a hungry and desperate man and Morgan doesn't laugh, instead he just pulls them both down to the bed.


"March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life's path." -Kahlil Gibran