Even Friends Can Be Bullies
This is a one-shot standalone story, but takes place in my "What Have you Done Dr. Reid" universe. This is written for the #ForAdam campaign.
No one in our Fan Fiction world should ever be bullied for wanting to write stories celebrating their fandoms. Le't all make a pact to understand that all writers, good or bad, have something to say and something to contribute. Online bullying is wrong and we should all strive to be better people and better writers.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoy.
EVEN FRIENDS CAN BE BULLIES
Spencer sat at his desk looking at the letter and sighed deeply. He sat back against his desk chair, quiet and pensive. His thoughts were swirling to his own childhood and the tears came unbidden. His best friend Morgan looked over and frowned.
"Hey kid, you okay?"
Reid looked up, cleared his throat, "What? Why, why do you ask that?"
"You've been staring at that letter for the last ten minutes and it's makin' you cry. You okay?"
"I'm not crying, why do you say I'm crying?" He bolted out of his chair and went to go make some fresh coffee.
Hotch was just walking down to the break room when he heard the exchange. There were few things in Spencer's life that would cause that kind of reaction. This was either about Maeve, Austin or James. He moved over to Reid's desk and picked up the letter and sighed.
Morgan took the letter and read it, "Well, damn".
"What's wrong?" Alex asked.
Morgan handed her the letter and she just said, "Okay, am I missing something?"
"He may be worried that James is going to have the same experiences he had in school". Both Hotch and Morgan, at separate times, learned of the terrible and extensive bullying that the young Doctor Reid experienced as a child prodigy.
"Ahhh, he wants to protect James. I'll go…"
Hotch and Morgan laid a hand on Alex's shoulder, "Alex, I know you've known him for a long time, but let us".
"Okay. If you need me I'll be right here".
Both Hotch and Morgan walked over to the small kitchenette and stood off to the side. Reid was just standing there, not moving.
"Reid…" When he didn't respond Hotch placed a hand on the agent's arm, "Spencer, we saw the letter. When did you get James tested?"
Whatever spell Reid was under was broken and when he looked up at Hotch and Morgan they could see he had been silently crying.
"Hey, pretty boy, it's not a bad thing…"
"Yes Morgan it is. This is a very bad thing. I don't want my son to go through the same things I did. Up to now I've been able to protect him, but this…" Reid leaned back and closed his eyes trying to stem the tide of pain, anger and fear.
Hotch's face softened, and he let a little of his own emotion show through, "Spencer, I think the situation with James is quite different than yours. You didn't have the support system that you should have had. James, on the other hand, has you, Austin and all of us. We can help be there for you, for him".
"But what if something happens, what if I can't protect him? Sometimes I just want to put him in a bubble and keep him safe".
Hotch smiled and let out a little chuckle, "I thought the same exact things after Foyet's attack. I wanted to put Jack in protective gear for a short time. Thank god Jessica talked me out of it. Reid, there are and always will be bullies, but it's how we teach our children to respond to them that counts. Jack was going through that for a while after Haley died".
"What did you do?"
"I asked him if he wanted my help, but he said no. He wanted to handle it on his own, so I let him. But, I kept in touch with his teacher and if things had progressed I would have stepped in. We talked quite a lot about what was happening and after a while it stopped".
"James is just so sensitive and he's not like other kids. He's quiet and shy. I don't want to see him get hurt. I don't want to see him go through the same type of abuse…" Reid ran a hand through his hair, trying to hold back the tide of anger that was welling up inside of him.
"No one should have to go through that".
Reid looked at his friends and wanted to say something, something that had been on his mind for a while, but he didn't know how to bring it up. He looked at Hotch and Morgan and knew they cared, but they didn't realize some of what they did or said themselves.
Hotch noticed that Reid's mind was working a mile-a-minute and that he wanted to say something. He frowned deeply and looked sideways at Reid, "Reid, is there something else going on?"
"Look, it's nothing, okay?"
Now Morgan was curious, "Hey kid, what is it?"
"Look, it's stupid and childish and I just need to get over it…"
Hotch felt that there was definitely something that Reid wanted to say, but was holding back, "Do you want to go to my office and talk?"
Reid was about to protest, but this was something that had been bothering him for quite some time and he knew if he didn't address it then it would be just like high school and college all over again.
"Sure, yeah, yeah I do". The three men walked back to Hotch's office where they each took a seat.
"Reid, you know you can always talk to me, what's going on? It's obviously something that's been bothering you for a while".
He looked long and hard at both his boss and his best friend, "Sometimes, no a lot of times I still feel like…" He was having a tough time expressing what he wanted to say. Hotch and Morgan had helped him out with James, especially in the first three months that James was with him. Hotch had been the one to listen to him after Maeve because the man knew how he was feeling. Morgan was there for him more times that he could count. They were his friends, but they didn't know that sometimes their words and actions hurt.
"Feel like what pretty boy?" Morgan was confused, he wasn't sure what Reid was trying to say, but it was obvious to him that his friend was hurting.
"Sometimes I feel like you guys can be bullies". There, he said it and by the shocked expressions on their faces they hadn't ever realized some of the things they'd one.
"Reid, what do you mean?"
"What do I mean Morgan? Oh, okay let me see, teasing me and making me run the track when you already signed off on my physical, cracking jokes about my sex life, especially when you know how hard it is for me, rolling your eyes when I often go off on tangents, yeah I know I'm strange, but there are better ways to say something. And, and, everyone at one time or another has made fun of the fact that I possibly have Asperger's, don't you think I already know that? And don't you think that I never wanted to talk about that because there is some correlation to schizophrenia? Don't you guys think that's a bit of a touchy subject for me?" Reid was on fire now, this had been building up for years and he knew he should have spoken up a long time ago, but his past made it sometimes difficult to stand up for himself.
Hotch took a deep breath and looked down at his desk because he knew he was guilty of some of that himself, "Reid, why did you never say anything to us?"
"I never should have had to. Why do you think I identified with Owen Savage so much? It wasn't just the bullying he received in the past, it was still happening to him, the way the cops and teacher's reacted to that kid was heart-breaking and I knew everything he was going through". He looked at both men and they could see the bottled up anger in their friend.
"Reid…Spencer you're right, and I'm sorry if and when I've crossed the line. It doesn't mean that I don't care about you and if I've been insensitive in any way I am sorry. Spencer you're not only a valuable member of this team, but you're a friend, and, I should have been paying more attention".
Just then JJ knocked on the slightly open door of Hotch's office, "Ummm, I hope I'm not interrupting but we may have a case…"
"You know what, you should be in here to JJ," Reid looked at the woman who he had been so close to in the past. She heard something in Reid's voice that made her pause.
"Spence, what's going on? You okay?"
"JJ, come in, Reid has some things that he's kept bottled up and I think you may need to hear this too".
"Spence, have I done something?"
Reid took a deep breath, "Actually, yes JJ you have. The eye-rolling, the sometimes mean-spirited teasing, oh and how about the times you've come into a conference room and interrupted my geographic work and have done it yourself without asking me where I am on it? That job is one that I've always done…"
"Spence, I…" JJ frowned, "I'm just trying to help…"
"Well it doesn't help, it's frustrating and it makes me feel like you don't think I can do my job. Oh, and how about the times that you interrupt me when giving out the profile, or if we're on the plane and we're working out preliminary profile and victimology, again you interrupt me in the middle of what I'm going to say. You act as if we are in some kind of competition, and it feels like bully tactics".
JJ's face fell, and she looked at Hotch and Morgan, "We just got the same verbal lashing. JJ he's right, you do tend to encroach on him doing his job. And, yes Reid, all three of us have been guilty of cutting you off in a demeaning way".
"You know I listen to you guys about stuff that I sometime have no interest in, but I listen to you anyway because you're supposed to be my friends. I tell you things because I'm excited, they are what interest me and if I can't talk to you…" They all were beginning to understand the depth of hurt that they had put their friend through. "Morgan, you know I don't like sports, except basketball, but I listen to you when you go off about football or baseball, I don't cut you off mid tangent, JJ as much as I love and adore Henry do you really think that I want to hear another bathtime story? Not always, but I listen anyway because I care. And Hotch, when you get excited about a new prosecutorial procedure or some new law theories that you have come across I hear you out, let you bounce ideas off of me, I listen and a lot more graciously than you guys, but do I get the same treatment?"
"Wow, Spence, I…I don't know what to say. I never meant for you to feel like you weren't doing your job, and you're right, you're absolutely right and I'm sorry. I will work on listening more and I will work on not interrupting you're work. But, Spence, why did you bottle this up for so long?"
Reid sighed deeply and took a moment to collect his thoughts, "Because for once in my life I truly found my place. I love being here, the FBI the BAU, working with you guys. For a long time I thought I was just being overly sensitive. For the most part you all have been there for me, but it's sometimes the little things that hurt the most. I just thought I needed to suck it up".
Hotch took a deep breath, "Reid, when we are in the field I need to be a hard-ass and to push you guys, all of you, but if there are things that bother you, if we're being unfair and insensitive please speak-up. Don't keep this bottled up because really I don't want to have to chase after an unsub Reid". Hotch smiled slightly hoping that Reid wouldn't think the teasing was too far.
Hotch was graced with one of Reid's infectious smiles, "Yeah well I know all of your tactics I could evade you guys for years". They all laughed and yet the scary thought that he was probably telling the truth went through their minds. They really didn't want to deal with a Spencer Reid in a psychotic break.
Morgan clamped a hand on Reid's shoulder, "Hey man, you're my little brother, if anything is ever bothering you and if I am acting like a jackass just tell me. If I can take it from my sisters, then I most certainly can take it from you".
Reid's expression softened, "Thank's Morgan. At least I didn't have to mess with your MP3 player this time". Reid smirked remembering their last prank war.
"Yeah, well I still have not gotten you back for that one kid. Just watch out, when you least expect it". Hotch shook his head and just didn't know what to do with the two men, but he was glad to see them back on an even keel.
"Spence," JJ looked at Reid, "I never meant to hurt you, and again just tell me if I've stepped over the line and I'll back off. Don't let this fester again, okay? Because I don't really want to have to tell Henry why his Uncle Spencer isn't coming around to see him anymore". She smiled brightly hoping to show Reid how much she cares.
"Thanks JJ. Now, you said there's a case?"
And just like that all three people settled back into the easy friendship they'd developed over the years and Spencer realized that sometimes you have to stand-up even to your friends to let them know when they are being bullies.
Rossi walked up behind Reid and stopped him before they went to the conference room, "Finally get all of that unexpressed anger off your chest?"
Reid looked at Rossi, one of the few people in his life that hadn't crossed the lines with him. "How'd you…"
"Kid, I grew up in Long Island surrounded by, well you know, guys who were connected, don't you think I grew-up having to defend myself quite a few times. I'm not blind, but I didn't want to push you, but dammit if you weren't going to say something to those three idiots I would have".
"Thanks Dave". Reid smiled, turned around, walked into the conference room and felt better than he had in years. This also made him reflect back on the letter he received and knew that Hotch was right, James would have a better support system and he would find better ways to help his son understand that having an IQ of 176 didn't make him weird, it made him extraordinary.