Reid and JJ were back in the swing of things, this time profiling a bomber who had killed the principal of North Valley High School, where, ten years ago, Randy Slade had set off a bomb, killing himself and thirteen others.
JJ was thinking aloud. “So, the UnSub has to be tied to the school somehow, right? Current student, alumni, family member who lost someone?”
“Could be a Slade groupie celebrating his hero,” said Reid. “He taped nails to the exterior of the bomb, specifically to rip open flesh. That’s a sadistic detail of Slade’s the UnSub copied.”
“Except he tricked Givens into blowing himself up,” JJ countered. “A groupie probably wouldn’t show that much self-control.”
“Someone with an ax to grind against the principal would. Maybe he’s a surrogate for the tormentors in high school he can’t punish,” Reid said. “Who were yours?”
JJ pursed her lips. “I don’t even remember.”
“You don’t even remember?” Reid repeated. “Wait, were you one of the mean girls?”
JJ scoffed. “No!”
“Valedictorian, soccer scholarship, corn-fed, but still a size zero,” Reid listed. “I think that you might have been a mean girl.”
“I was actually one of the nice girls,” JJ said. “Even to guys like you.”
“Guys like me?” asked Reid. “I’ll have you know that my social standing increased once I started winning at basketball.”
JJ obviously didn’t believe him. “Oh, yeah, you played basketball?”
“No, I didn’t play. I coached basketball.” Reid explained. “I broke down the opposing team’s shooting strategy.”
“Is that why Morgan kicked you out of the pool last week?”
“Yeah, it took him three rounds to realize I was hustling him.”
Morgan and Rossi took care of the media while Prentiss and Hotch talked to the parents of Slade. Morgan decided to make things a little more interesting for the BAU’s resident genius.
“All right, feel free to call me if you have any other background questions,” Morgan said. “My phone number is 702-555-0103.”
“What’s your name, sir?” one of them asked.
“Uh, it’s Dr. Spencer Reid. R-E-I-D.”
Reid had stopped answering the unknown I.D. calls several hours ago, but the constant ringing was getting on his nerves.
“Does every person with asymbolia have this?” Hotch asked.
“Actually, most feel empathy just fine, which makes me think the rest of our profile is still accurate. Loner, invisible, outcast, boiling rage- son of bitch!” He pulled out his phone and answered. “Hi, this is Dr. Spencer reid. I actually can come to the phone right now, with a very special message that your mother is a-”
“Sorry,” Reid said, hanging up. “I’m really sorry, I don’t know what got into me. Where were we?”
“I’m going to have Garcia check medical records,” said Hotch. “What causes asymbolia?”
Reid glanced at Rossi and Morgan. Rossi was ready to hear Reid’s explanation, but Morgan was looking down.
“Severe trauma produces lesions in the insular cortex, usually after a stroke,” Reid explained. “But this UnSub’s so young, it’s most likely caused by an external factor.”
“Like a bomb going off next to him?” asked Rossi.
Reid stared at Morgan. “Yeah, like a bomb going off next to him.”
Hotch took the information and walked away.
Reid leaned down to gather his files. “I will crush you.”
“What?” Morgan asked.
“What?” Reid replied, walking away.
Morgan leaned back in his seat, finally relaxing after the case, headphones over his ears, and his favorite playlist going.
Beep. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled musical selection with an important announcement: Never wage a practical joke war against an MIT graduate because we have a history of going nuclear. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the dulcet sounds of me screaming in your ear.”
Reid screaming in his ear was an incredible sound, but it was quite loud, and he had to yank his headphones off.
“Okay, kid, that was cute,” Morgan said. “But that’s all you got?”
Reid snored in front of him, pretending to be asleep.
His phone rang and Morgan answered. “Hey, baby g-” He immediately jerked his head away as the sound of Reid’s screams began again.
“All right, Reid, it’s on,” Morgan said. “Just know that paybacks are a bitch.”
Reid snored in response.
“Can we watch it again, Daddy?”
Reid chuckled as they left the theater they’d seen Puss in Boots in. “One time isn’t good enough?”
Emma crossed her arms. “Not everyone has eidetic memory, you know.”
Adam laughed. “She’s got a point, Spencer. Tell you, what, Em. The DVD comes out around your birthday, so if you really liked it that much…”
Emma gasped. “Yes, yes, yes! That would be awesome. We watch it in theaters on Daddy’s birthday, and then in our living room on mine!”
“It’s my birthday, too, you know.” Adam pointed out.
“I know that! That’s why I came up with the rule that you pick the movie, and Daddy picks the restaurant.”
“What if I wanted to pick the movie?” Reid asked.
“You don’t exactly have good taste in movies.” Emma pointed out.
“Because that’s what you tell people on their birthday.” Reid said.
Emma gave him innocent eyes. “You told me to always be honest, Daddy.”
A couple nearby heard her and giggled. Reid grinned. “I did, didn’t I? So, I suppose that means you admit to eating the last of the ice cream?”
Emma pursed her lips. “You’re lactose-intolerant, Daddy. I don’t know why you’re complaining. I sacrificed myself for you by eating that ice cream.”
“Oh, really?” Reid couldn’t help but smile as they climbed into the car.
“Where to, Spencer?” Adam asked.
“Rasika, of course.” Reid said.
Emma cheered in the backseat. “Yes! I love Indian food!”