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Seven Words For Love

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The Ancient Greeks had more than one word for love. Seven words for seven different, equally important, types of love. To name a thing is to understand it, at least that’s what Alex always told herself. Words built the world and defined it and made it navigable. 

Eros, or sexual passion… 

He was a doctor, well technically he was still a medical student but he was close. (Almost) Dr James Blake, all soft eyes and gentle touches. Alex had never pegged herself as someone who fell so hard and fast but he made it easy. All the heated moments, stolen caresses and shared nights made her feel giddy and dangerous and alive. Who knew if it was going to last, if it was going to mean anything in a month or a year? Alex didn’t and usually that uncertainty would have killed her but if anything it made her feel fearless.

Storge, or familial love… 

”I can’t stop looking at him” James marvelled “He’s so tiny and complicated and…we made him. It’s a miracle.”

”How unscientific of you” snorted Alex though she agreed with every fibre of her being. He was perfect, their Ethan, their world. He had her eyes and James’ nose. Her chin and James’s forehead. All in all he was wonderful mish-mash of the two of them.

It would be a while before they knew, before doctors would come and gently try to explain except they had no word, no name to attach to the monstrous thing that was going to bring their world crashing down. That’s what Alex would struggle with. James would struggle with the fact that his own son was beyond his healing powers.

For now though they watched him sleep, overcome with emotion and seeing only the good in the world.

Philia, or deep friendship…

Alex was trying to concentrate on what the young man was saying, she really was, it was just hard when with every word she spoke she could hear her baby crying out for her.

“I’m really sorry to bother you Dr Blake” he said for what felt like the millionth time “It’s just I found your book so fascinating and forensic linguistics and it’s profiling applications are so key to what we do that I had to speak to you. Sorry I’m rambling aren’t I?”

“Not at all” smiled Alex “You’re with the BAU right? Aaron Hotchner’s team?”

“Yes” he beamed and her heart felt like it was going to burst “Dr Spencer Reid!”

“Look I have a while before my next class, do you want to go through some things? I saw you taking a lot of notes.”

“That would be amazing thank you” said Spencer, looking like a kid being given the run of a candy store.

They spoke for hours that day. When she went home to James she wept as she recounted their meeting. It was the first of many encounters that lead to coffee afternoons, guest lectures, co-writing papers and crossword tournaments. It would a long time before the slightly misplaced maternal feelings turned into something else. That he was brilliant, almost a peer in her field, was unquestionable but more than that he was kind and supportive, eager to hear about not just her work but also her life. If she believed in that kind of thing she would almost suspect that Ethan sent him her way. 

Ludus, or playful love… 

”My name is Penelope Garcia and I don’t like change”

Alex had made a bad first impression, she knew that. The stress of finally getting where she wanted to be at the FBI coupled with James being away and seeing Strauss for the first time in years had put her on edge. Even as she saw the woman crumple under her initial linguistics lecture on the various connotations of the word “Nice”, she had known she was being unfair but she was just so desperate to establish that she deserved to be here, that she earned the right to come back, head held high, with no one judging her that she had basically steamrollered over people who just wanted to make sure their family was being taken care of. When the team returned from Texas, Alex had  met Garcia’s attempts to reconcile with (an exhausted) enthusiasm. She couldn’t help but admire someone whose heart was so totally open.

A couple weeks later Alex made her way to the “Bat Cave” with a small cellophane wrapped basket in  her hands. Garcia’s eyes lit up as she entered but were laced with confusion.

“This is to say thank you” said Alex, less confidently than she intended.

“Oh the tea of the week is actually from Emily so-”

“I mean for giving me a second chance” said Alex, holding out the basket.

Garcia’s eyes softened and she ripped off the paper like a child on Christmas morning and then squealed with delight.

“How did you know Unicorns were my favourite thing ever!” she gasped as she handled the candles, soft toys, figures, hair bobbles and mood light in awe. All were shaped like or covered in a unicorn motif and caked in copious amounts of glitter.

“I…guessed” said Alex, casting her eyes around the cave and noting that there weren’t any duplicates with what she had bought. It was surprising really, given the sheer amount of stuff that covered the desks and the walls.

”These are adorable” Garcia said, sliding the garish hair clips into her bunches “These are staying in for girls’ night. You joining? Oh my god they do the best mojitos you will ever taste”

Agape, or love for everyone…

Alex felt a pang as she saw Strauss in deep conversation with Rossi as they were leaving Quantico. She had her suspicions about the two of them but it wasn’t her place. When they had been young agents together she had admired the other woman’s tenacity, her forthrightness and her no nonsense attitude. There had also been a niggling suspicion about her personal struggles: one night after work, in a display of uncharacteristic fragility Strauss… Erin… had waxed lyrical about how lucky Alex had been to be married to someone like James, wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone could be that lucky. Alex had ended up pretty much carrying her to her front door at the end of the night and Erin hadn’t so much as made eye contact with a her for a week afterwards. 

Sighing, Alex headed to her car, resolving to maybe take Erin up on her offer of coffee one day that week.

Pragma, or longstanding love… 

“Are you sure?” James asked for the tenth time “Really and truly sure?”

Alex nodded. The tears had all dried up and the resignation letter was on Hotch’s desk.

”It’s time” said Alex “It’s what’s right for me and for us”

”I’m glad Spencer is going to be okay” said James, pulling her close “He’s a nice kid.”

”He’s in his thirties, hardly a kid” smiled Alex “I just want him to be happy. I told him about Ethan, when I dropped him off at his apartment. I feel like when I talk about him to people it brings him back a little, just for a brief moment.”

”We should talk about him more” said James, stroking her hair “We should put more pictures up too. We have loads from before he was sick, I’ll get them out of the attic.”

”I’d like that” sniffed Alex, “James?”


”I love you. More than I can put into words…”

Philautia, or love of the self… 

Eighteen months later and Alex watched her students file out of the lecture theatre, laughing and chatting. They were all so full of hope and life and whenever she watched them she knew she made the right decision to leave the bureau.

“That was great!” Spencer said, heading down the steps to the lectern “I never had lectures like that as an undergrad. Maybe I would have gone into linguistics instead if I had.”

“I think it all worked out in the end for you” laughed Alex “Ready to grab something to eat? There’s a nice little Indian place in town.”

“Sounds great” said Spencer and they walked out into the sunshine.

“How’s the team?” asked Alex “Is Dr Lewis settling in okay?”

“They’re all good” said Spencer “Tara is great, she is taking on some side projects so she doesn’t accompany us on every case but it’s nice to have a forensic psychologist on the team. She brings a new perspective.”

“I’ve read her work” said Alex, “I’d love to meet her!”

“I’m sure we can arrange that” grinned Spencer, then after a pause he asked “Do you miss it?”

“Please don’t be offended if I say no” said Alex, a little sadly “I loved working with all of you but it was time to move on.”

“You can’t stay in one place forever” nodded Spencer.

“No you can’t” agreed Alex with a smile.