JJ's getting married. To Will. They've been together for
four years now, I guess it was inevitable. Especially because of Henry. But
somehow I always thought 'she can change her mind', or 'it's not too late'. I
thought something could still happen. And now it is happening. But not
the 'something' I had in mind.
I hope she's not just reacting. I mean, she almost lost him the other day. Twice. So I get that she was scared. I was scared for her. But how did that change her heart? Did she love him more after that? Did it make her want to be with him forever? Did she wake up that morning not wanting to be married, and then change her mind so suddenly? Would that be a good thing? Is she somehow rewarding him for being in danger? Is it just relief?
It seems so unlike her. JJ's not the emotional type. She's not impulsive. I've got that market cornered. JJ keeps her cool about things. There had to have been something holding her back from committing to Will all this time. How could it have been so easily erased? Did her fear for Henry affect her? Did it frighten her into marrying Will? Is this about giving Henry a family? Weren't they already one? I hope she's not making a decision she'll regret someday. For her sake, and for Henry's. I worry about her. Always have, always will, I guess. No matter what.
And yet, the pain isn't there. The kind I might have expected to feel. I'd always thought that her wedding, if not to me, would be unbearable. That I'd have to acknowledge that thing that I've known all along but kept denying. That it would hurt. That I wouldn't be able to go, to watch….and definitely not to celebrate.
So what happened?
Reid hadn't turned a page in his book for the past ten minutes. Not that it took him ten minutes to ruminate on the loss of JJ. That was just the most recent in a train of thoughts. The kind that usually brought on a headache. But he hadn't had one of those headaches in a month. His new treatment regimen seemed to be helping tremendously with that. He would never have predicted that pain of that severity could be avoided with careful attention to his nutrition. A combination of a healthy diet…something he'd never been good at…and vitamins, and supplements had done the trick.
Or maybe it wasn't really the change in his nutrition that had helped him feel better. Maybe it was the person who'd suggested it. Maeve.
Doctor after doctor, and test after test , he'd been turned away. "There's nothing physically wrong with you, Dr. Reid. It's got to be stress." Or mental illness. None of them had actually suggested that he was crazy. It was his own mind that had flown to the idea of schizophrenia, and then outright rejected it. Emphatically. Forcefully. Hopefully. Prayerfully.
But he was also a realist. If it was schizophrenia, he had to know, before his mind wouldn't allow him to understand. If it was schizophrenia, it would affect his work, and his relationships, such as they were. And so he embarked on yet another detailed review of the scientific literature. Exhausting that, he moved on to contact every medical college and university that operated in any of the five languages in which he was proficient, asking about current research. If a breakthrough hadn't been made yet, perhaps it was only weeks away. Or months. Or years.
That was how he'd found her. In his quest, he'd spoken with every researcher who would accept his call, whether working in psychiatry, or neurology, or genetics, or any field of brain development and chemistry. Most of them were sympathetic, some sounded annoyed, some as though they were humoring this man with a self-diagnosed illness. And then he'd encountered a voice that would stay in his mind for a very, very long time.
"Yes, Dr. Reid, how can I help you?" Her voice was soft, unassuming. It was completely illogical, but the quality of her voice made him trust her.
He'd come across her essentially by accident. Or, rather, she'd come across him. She'd responded to an article he'd written in the Journal of Behavioral Psychology. In contrast to the vast majority of those responding to the article…actually, in contrast to all of the others…..she'd written a letter. On paper. With ink. Just as he daily wrote to his mother. Later, he would wonder if he'd started falling in love with her over this.
She'd wanted his opinion on an aspect of the work related to her own. She'd asked him to respond to a post office box. The profiler in Reid picked up on the attempt right away. Here was someone who wasn't trying to remain anonymous, but who seemed to be trying to remain hidden, out of sight. He googled her, wondering how he'd missed her when he'd systematically approached every institution of higher learning. Found a name, but no photo, one of several faculty members without one. He found that her research had been tested against a small trial sample of patients with persistent headaches, and so he corresponded back to her. And received the cryptic message that she could only be reached by pager, and would only reply to a public phone.
His hackles should have been up, if not about her, then for her. And they were. The white knight in him battled with the voice that told him to run the other way. Neither won. Rather, the frightened, debilitated patient in him found he couldn't turn away without trying, one more time, for that thing that would give him back his life. He'd followed her instructions, and paged her to a phone booth. As anxious, and as doubtful, as he was about having this conversation, the quality of her voice was reassuring.
He explained what he was looking for. "I'm trying to identify any ongoing research that might help a patient with intractable headaches."
He'd learned from experience to let the person on the other end of the line believe what they would about what kind of doctor he was, and whom, exactly, he was trying to help. "Every test has been negative, but there's a history of brain disease in the family, so it makes sense to look at genetics research as well as others."
She'd read his article. She knew what kind of doctor he was. But she didn't challenge him. She'd heard the underlying concern, and just a touch of fear, in his voice. "What type of brain disease runs in the patient's family, Dr. Reid?"
He didn't want to predispose her to think of schizophrenia. Instead, he responded with , "There are psychiatric disorders and migraines. Possibly more, but the family is fractured, and the information is sparse."
"I see. I'm so sorry."
With that, he knew that she knew, but she wasn't going to say. If he wanted to pretend he wasn't the patient, she was going to let him.
"You said testing had been done? Are there any scans, or maybe an EEG tracing I might look at? Chromosomes, maybe?"
He hesitated. He'd had all of them done, and even had copies made for himself. Should he share them?
Thinking he had nothing left to lose, Reid agreed to send her his tests. But he was made uneasy by her request to send them to the post office box.
"Can't I just send them to you at your lab? Or bring them to you myself?"
Now she hesitated. "I….I'm on a sabbatical from the lab. And I'd rather not give out my home address, you know…"
To someone I've just met on the phone. She didn't have to say it for him to hear it. And he did know, considering the business he was in.
He made a decision. "All right, I'll send them. But please, I need you to return them to me after you've evaluated them."
"Of course, I will, Dr. Reid. I'm sure your patient will be anxious about having them in his possession."
Another hesitation from Reid. "All right, you're right. I can tell you know. They're my scans. The patient is me."
Later, he would come to recognize the smile in her voice, the bemusement. Now, he only recognized the kindness.
"I'm sorry you're having so much trouble, Dr. Reid. I hope I'll be able to help you."
He didn't know why he said it. Didn't even know that he was going to say it, until it was already out.
"It's Spencer. You can call me Spencer. I'm not that kind of doctor, anyway."
"Well, the truth is that I already knew that. I read your article, remember….Spencer?" Pause. "And please call me Maeve."
"Maeve. 'She who intoxicates.' She was an Irish warrior queen, wasn't she?"
"She was. My parents had lofty ambitions."
"Well, it's a beautiful name. And I'm sure you didn't disappoint your parents." How am I doing this, I've never met this woman, and I'm flirting with her? Why am I doing this?
"I like to think not. We're very close."
Reid picked up on a break in her voice at the last sentence.
His natural reserve tried to stop him, but he found himself asking anyway. "Is there something wrong?"
Maeve seemed to have gathered herself. "No, nothing at all. I have to go now, Spencer. I will look out for your scans, and page you after I've analyzed them. Please remember not to respond from your own phone, please use a pay phone."
"You know they're not that easy to come by, don't you?"
"I know. I'm sorry. It's just…necessary…right now."
His profiler antennae were up. "Maeve, are you sure there's nothing wrong? Are you in trouble? Are you in danger?"
He could hear her breathing, but she took her time responding. "You're with the FBI. I remember it from your article. Do you 'fight the bad guys', Spencer?"
He didn't know how to take that. "Yes, I guess so."
"Then I need to help make you strong again, don't I? I'll look for your package, Spencer. Goodbye."
"Mae…." But she was gone.
Reid just stood there, at the phone booth, trying to process the conversation. The content of it had been so strange, the setting stranger still, but the voice so…..intoxicating. Maeve, she who intoxicates.
Reid hurried back to his apartment, not sure if he was any closer to solving his chronic pain, but fascinated by this new encounter. He found himself looking forward to her analysis of his brain, if only to enter into another conversation with her. She'd intrigued him.
At the time, it was just that, an intriguing conversation. Later, he would see it differently. Later, much later, he would ponder the vagaries of fate. How so often we only recognize the moments that change our lives in retrospect, from the perspective of distance. The distance of time, the distance of memory, the distance of lost love.
He'd dozed off, thinking back. Now he awakened with a start, checking the time. The party would start in an hour, and within several more, JJ would become Mrs. William LaMontagne. And an unlikely dream would end. Despite his new relationship, the one with the woman he'd never met, Reid mourned the end of the old one, the one that had never actually taken place. He sighed, wishing for the day when he could enter into a relationship that would be marked by 'forever' and not 'never'.