Summary: Sometimes you just need a change of perspective to see things clearly.
“Are you all right?” Spencer asked as the paramedic examined Derek's wounded hand.
“What do you think?” He replied tersely, regretting the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. But he was in no mood to apologize. Derek yanked his hand away from the paramedic and strode away. Spencer shrugged apologetically and followed his angry teammate with his eyes. JJ gave him a wide berth as he passed by, but Derek nearly bowled over Emily when she didn't move quickly enough. The two women turned to watch him go, but Hotch intervened before Derek was able to escape.
“Morgan, get that hand properly bandaged,” he ordered. “The rest of you, finish up here. We've got wheels up in an hour.”
JJ and Gideon gathered up their files, but Emily and Spencer paused to observe the brief battle of wills that ensued. After a minute, Derek sighed and returned to the ambulance. He glared stonily as the paramedic dressed his wounded hand. By the time he was done and returned to the precinct, the team was ready to leave. Spencer had taken the liberty of packing Derek's case files, and although he was grateful, Derek was too consumed with ire to do much more than nod in acknowledgment when it was handed to him. He strode out to the waiting Suburban and slid into the rear seat, ignoring the lack of legroom that would certainly mean an uncomfortable twenty minute ride to the airport. The discomfort suited his mood at the moment, so he turned his eyes to the window and glared at a brick wall as he waited for the rest of the team to load up. It was several minutes before he realized that they hadn't done so. Derek reluctantly looked back toward the precinct and glowered at the closed doors. After a few minutes they opened and Spencer emerged with Jason.
“I'll tell him,” Spencer said as he headed toward the vehicle. Jason looked dubious, but he stayed at the doors as Spencer approached the SUV.
“What's keeping everyone?” Derek spat before Spencer could open his mouth to speak.
“They're inside. There's been a change of plans,” he replied.
“What sort of change?”
“We're not going back to Quantico. We're needed in Albuquerque.”
“So why aren't they moving?”
“The files we'll need are being forwarded here so we can read them on the plane and Hotch is in a conference call getting a sitrep from the local agencies involved in the case. It'll be at least another hour before--.”
“Damn!” Morgan spat through his teeth. He shook his head and began to move out of the seat. Spencer quickly backed out of the vehicle and stepped aside as Derek emerged. But instead of returning to the precinct as Spencer expected, Derek walked off in the opposite direction. Spencer stole a glance at Jason before hurrying after him.
“I don't need a tail, Reid,” Derek said in voice that was practically a growl. “I just need a little air.”
“I'm not tailing,” Spencer replied, flinching when Derek spun around to confront him. “I'm joining you,” he said, refusing to back down. Derek took a step backward, out of his personal space. After a moment's hesitation, he nodded and they walked together with no clear destination in mind.
“Fair enough,” he said. They walked in silence for a few minutes until Spencer got up the courage to speak.
“Want to talk about it?”
“What if I want to talk about it?” Spencer asked boldly, ignoring Derek's warning glare. “We nearly lost you back there.”
“Don't you think I know--?”
“I nearly lost you,” Spencer added evenly. Derek fell silent and Spencer got a few feet ahead of him before he realized that he'd stopped. “What's the matter?”
“You nearly lost me?”
“Yes. You were nearly killed today.”
“I know that.”
“Then what's the confusion?”
“You said you nearly lost me,” Derek repeated carefully.
“Yes, I did. Statement of fact; I nearly lost you today. You nearly died in that shoot out.”
“Yeah, yeah, but--.”
“You're still angry about what happened back there. You've been wallowing in your own emotional turmoil. Why don't you try putting yourself in my shoes for a moment? Try to think about how I feel about you almost dying,” Spencer said calmly. Derek sensed a trap, but he folded his arms and tried to shift the discussion back to Spencer's earlier remark.
“How do you feel about nearly losing me?” he asked.
“You're deliberately missing my point.”
“Your point was that I was being insensitive to your feelings, wasn't it?” Derek countered.
“My point is that you're angry at yourself for allowing Terrence Smith to get the drop on you.”
“You're damn right I'm angry! I should have known better than to assume that just because he was down he was no longer a threat.”
“We all make mistakes.”
“That mistake could have killed me.”
“But it didn't,” Spencer pointed out.
“And you're glad about that,” Derek said, hoping to draw Spencer back to his original point. He suddenly wanted a real answer. If Spencer's goal had been to draw Derek out of his own head, he'd definitely succeeded. The only place Derek wanted to be at that moment was inside Spencer's head. But that wasn't going to be easy. He knew it the moment Spencer smiled.
“Moderately so, yes,” Spencer said impishly.
“Gee, thanks.” Derek returned the smile, but he felt something gnawing in his gut. He wouldn't call it disappointment, but it was something he decided not to identify.
“I'm glad you're still alive. You're a valued friend and colleague,” Spencer replied. “And I'd prefer not to have to endure another new team member. Emily's enough of a handful. Besides, you're the only one who laughs at my jokes and shares my taste in music, not to mention food.”
“But you're only moderately happy about my survival,” Derek deadpanned.
“Well, I could do without the relentless teasing and name-calling. You hog the popcorn on movie nights, and I'm usually the one who has to bear the brunt of your pranks,” Spencer continued. “And you're always picking on my choice of attire. I could do without your shameless display of physical superiority, as well, as long as we're on the subject of your faults. But otherwise, yes; I'm very glad your alive.”
“Thanks, Spence.” Derek shook his head and his smile became genuine as he felt the tension begin to drain from his body. He ruffled Spencer's hair and suggested that they turn back. But Spencer shook his head. “Hotch is going to want to have a meeting when he gets off the phone,” Derek said.
“I know... Just a few more minutes,” Spencer said nervously. Derek frowned.
“Are you all right, Spence?”
“Yeah. I just... I really am glad I didn't lose you today, Derek,” he said softly.
“Me, too,” Derek replied lightly. “I would have missed you in heaven.”
“And I would have missed you here on earth,” Spencer replied seriously. Derek looked him in the eyes and his breath caught. He suddenly saw the afternoon's drama from a new perspective and it was quite a revelation. Of course, it was not the time to pursue the matter, so Derek ruffled Spencer's hair again, but this time the playful gesture masked a gentle caress that Spencer understood clearly. He wrapped an arm around Spencer's shoulder and smiled.
“So tell me all about Albuquerque, genius,” Derek said teasingly. Spencer did just that as they slowly headed back to the precinct.