Title: Candle in the Night
Summary: Every Christmas Eve, no matter where he is, Reid lights a candle.
Warning: Hurt/Comfort, mentions of OC’s death.
Disclaimer: Story idea is mine, and I didn't get my birthday wish of owning the cast, so they and Criminal Minds show remain not mine. How sad.
Author’s Note: This ides literally popped out at me from nowhere, but it made me feel kinda sad but also kinda calm.
Author's Note 2: Also posted at fanfiction.net and livejournal.
Every year, no matter where he is, Reid lights a candle. It’s a short white stick, which he lights by a zippo that is always in the pocket of his trousers. He will then sit in a nearby chair and not move until the candle is completely burned out.
When he was still in FBI training, he was nearly always in his room on Christmas Eve. He would lock his door, set the candle in its little stand by the window, drag his chair over, and sit. He would turn the lights off and watch the little flame, watch as the max melted and dripped, often landing on the windowsill. For the thirty-nine minutes it took for the flame to extinguish, and the max to be completely melted, he would just sit there, hardly moving, and just think. He would wait until precisely 21:39:42 before lighting the candle.
When he joined the BAU, things were a little more difficult. He would either be in his little flat, in the BAU, or off somewhere trying to catch another UnSub. This meant that his ritual was always a little different.
If he was home, he would light it much the same way from back in training. Except this time, he would do it in the kitchen. For the thirty-nine minutes it took for the candle to burn, he would just sit there, scarcely daring to breathe in case he blew out the flame. He would wait until precisely 21:39:42 before lighting the candle.
In the BAU offices, the occasional time they were still working late even on Christmas Eve, he would pull out and light the short white stick and light it in a small rarely used room. There was a large window looking over the city, so that’s where he would always sit, with the wax object settled into its holder on the windowsill. If his team ever saw him doing this, they never mentioned it. Instead, for the thirty-nine minutes it took for the ritual to finish, they would do their best to make sure that no one needed to use the room. He would wait until precisely 21:39:42 before lighting the candle.
If they were stuck chasing and UnSub on Christmas Eve, if they were in their hotel rooms, Reid would always ask the staff for a room to his self. Occasionally, he didn’t have a roommate so he could light it there, but for the occasions he doesn’t, the staff always seem willing to provide him with one. So he will sit in a small restaurant by himself, and ignite the wick of his candle after placing it in the middle of the table. For the thirty-nine minutes it takes for the wax to melt, he will sit there still, chin resting on his hands, and just think. He would wait until precisely 21:39:42 before lighting the candle.
If they, by some chance, are in the local police station, he will light it in the small office he and his team share. For the thirty-nine minutes it takes for the candle to die, he will sit there perfectly still, perched on his chair with his legs crossed, staring intently at the little flame. His teammates, whoever are with him at the time, will also remain as silent as possible, and always run interference with the local leo’s. He is always grateful for this, though no words are ever spoken. He would wait until precisely 21:39:42 before lighting the candle.
On the tenth anniversary of this ritual, he was in the BAU office. He went into the small room, approached the window. He set the candle on the windowsill, sat on the seat after dragging it to the usual spot, tugged the lighter from his pocket, and waited. On the tenth anniversary of this ritual, he was almost unable to light the candle for his hand was shaking and the silent tears were blurring his vision. On the tenth anniversary of this ritual, it was not him that lit the candle, but his Unit Chief and friend, Aaron Hotchner. And for the thirty-nine minutes it took for the candle to burn itself out, he sat slumped in the chair, tears making his way down his cheeks and he tried his hardest to stare at the little flame. On the tenth anniversary of this ritual, his teammates and friends – his family – joined him, standing around him silently, holding hands or hugging or standing close enough to bump shoulders, just to keep each other grounded to be there for each other on this most solemn of occasions. They had no idea why he did this, it was not something they discussed, but they were there for him none-the-less. Rossi was the one to stand behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Hotch stood next to him, shoulders touching. JJ had claimed his hand, while grabbing Prentiss’ with her other. Prentiss herself was holding onto Garcia with an arm around her shoulder. Morgan stood closest to the door, keeping hold of Garcia’s free hand and making sure they weren’t interrupted. And it was precisely 21:39:42 when the candle was lit.
Because it was precisely 21:39:42 when she was born. And it was precisely thirty-nine minutes later she died in her father’s arms.