Over Your Shoulder
Over Your Shoulder
Smurphyse - Masterlist
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: This Is Going To Be Interesting
After Spencer was released from prison, the team took to having breakfast together at least once a week. It was a way to cling to one another, to let down their defenses and enjoy the morning before heading back to Quantico and having to harden themselves again.
They loved being together, and were always fairly open with one another, though their situations had changed in the last year since Reid was released and exonerated. They depended on each other a lot more, and were much more involved in each other's lives.
Spencer especially loved these breakfasts. The only family he really had was his mother, and spending time with the team like this made him feel a lot more connected to them.
They were used to dinners at Rossi's or at O'Keefe's- good laughs, good food, Rossi's good wine- but breakfast at The Grind was different. Their guards were all down, uninhibited by alcohol and unguarded with shop talk away from their civilian families, they could branch out and expose themselves easier.
Spencer had never really been much of a morning person. He was a chronic insomniac, and would toss and turn, eventually finding himself in a tangle of limbs and sheets that left his back aching and neck sore. He hardly had the thought process to go to the bathroom in the morning until he had a cup of coffee in his hand, but in the last year, he woke up early every Tuesday for breakfast with the team.
Luke and Garcia were always the first to arrive, bright and sunshine-y, chittering away and laughing while Roxy's head rested in Penelope's lap, trying to joke and wake up the rest of the team.
JJ and Reid usually arrived next, JJ a mess in a baseball tee and leggings, her hair sloppily tossed into a ponytail, grumbling about having two kids and not enough sleep. Reid would nurse his coffee, already dressed in his work clothes, trying to stay awake long enough to order food.
Rossi and Walker usually arrived together. They lived close to one another and Rossi would pick Stephen up in his classic car. They'd pull up, listening to Sinatra on full blast, looking like they would rather be anywhere else in the world besides The Grind at 6 am.
Prentiss and Lewis were always last to arrive, usually late and hungover, in hoodies and sweats, sunglasses snug on their faces as they winced at the sound of honking horns and clinking silverware.
This morning went like most of these mornings went. Garcia and Alvez chatting and laughing, the others listening and chiming in here and there. Rossi fell asleep in his chair, Stephen elbowing him awake when his snoring got too loud.
"We're getting a new agent," Emily said suddenly, white knuckling a cup of coffee, her hood up over her dark hair as she and the other girls staved off their hangovers from Girl's Night the night before.
"You guys will love her," Luke said, earning a disbelieving arched eyebrow from Garcia, "I swear! She's awesome. We worked together a few times while I was still in the Army. She also saved my ass in Iraq during my last tour."
"Uh-uh," Emily tsked, waving a finger at Garcia, who was primed and ready to rattle off a million and one questions, "I wasn't going to tell anyone until she agreed to the position, but she called Alvez to see how he liked working with the team, and if it was worth her time. She only agreed to it last night."
Luke nodded, "She's been with MARSOC, Interpol, and Homeland most of her career. When she was in the Marines she was in the Marine Raider Regiment."
"What's MARSOC? Or the Raiders? That sounds like a G-man football team," Garcia laughed, still unsure about any new person she couldn't research herself.
"MARSOC stands for the Marine Forces Special Operations Command," Reid spoke up from behind a book, snapping the spine shut as he looked at the rest of the team, "It's the Marine Corps component of the US Special Operations Command."
"They do special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, counter-terrorism, info wars. The Raiders do mostly clandestine badass stuff like counter-insurgency, Spec Ops, insertion/extraction. It's what made Keaton an asset to Homeland Security," Luke finished for Reid.
"Keaton? That sounds familiar," Reid said, biting his bottom lip, trying to place the name.
"I don't think you've worked with her, she's been mostly overseas since I've known her. She's usually only in the states for a few days at a time." Luke shrugged, making a face, "She is the definition of a badass, though. I once saw her take down five, six-foot tall two-hundred pound insurgents with nothing but a knife and her tiny elbows. She's only five foot two, but don't let it fool you, she's absolutely jacked."
"Sounds like you have a crush on her," Lewis joked, finally speaking up from behind her own coffee cup, looking just as awake and alive as Emily.
Luke nodded enthusiastically, "You can't meet this chick and not like her. I haven't seen her in a while, but she's a true Marine, true FBI agent, through and through. She's great at her job, you guys can trust her to have your backs. She's practically immortal; she's been shot, stabbed, blown up, and she's still walking and talking like it never happened."
"When I talked to her last she said she was tired of deep cover and not being settled. I think this team, one that is a tight knit family like she was used to in the Marines, and jets around all the time but has a home base, might be exactly what she needs. She's going to start today."
"I'm just saying, Rossi, I've met plenty of Marines in my time, active and retired. I don't understand how it's not completely ingrained in your system to be a morning person," Luke bemoaned, setting his go-bag on his desk as they entered the bullpen a few hours later. The others filtered around them to their desks and offices. Reid headed straight for the coffee maker for another cup before settling in for the day.
"I left the Marines in the late 60's. I've had almost forty years to readjust my biological clock. If you catch me waking up at 5am and liking it, something is very very wrong," Rossi joked, lightly punching Luke's shoulder before making his way up to his office.
Reid went about pouring sugar into the cup before picking up the carafe, stopping dead in his tracks as a familiar voice laughed behind him. Spencer groaned, setting down the carafe harder than he meant to, pressing the palms of his hands into his eyes, willing himself to be wrong.
"Luke Alvez, you beautiful bastard!"
Luke laughed heartily behind him, and Reid heard him jog to the source of the voice. When he turned, he saw Luke hugging a small woman tightly and spinning her around.
Her dark mass of curls bounced as he let her down, his hands still planted on her waist. She wore a dark pair of tight fitting jeans and a white silk shirt, red knee length cardigan, and a pair of combat boots.
She readjusted her large wire framed glasses, beaming at Luke. She looked just as Spencer remembered her, though her dark circles were a bit more pronounced and she looked skinnier, like she'd been a bit rundown over the years. He supposed he looked the same.
"Guys, guys," Luke boasted, his hand on the small of the woman's back as he introduced her, "This is SSA Jasper Keaton."
The team crowded closer to her, and she stuck out her hand to begin the introductions, "I've heard you guys are all awesome. It's great to meet you." Her southern drawl melted into her soft smile, her dark eyes warm and welcoming to them.
One by one, they all introduced themselves, Jasper smiling politely and jesting with each of them. Penelope didn't look convinced, but the rest of them seemed happy enough while Spencer stood, stock still, watching from the kitchen area.
His chest fluttered, and for a moment the floor swayed beneath him. He gripped the counter behind him for support, hoping this would end well. It had been fourteen years, two months, and fifteen days since he last saw Jasper Donnelly, tears streaming down her face, hands balled tightly at her sides as they argued on a cold D.C. night.
She had been wearing his Caltech sweater and an old pair of jeans, her wild hair flooding over her shoulders as she argued back with him. I wonder if she still has that sweater. I still have a bottle of her perfume. He remembered the moment it was over, when she flinched at his words and picked up her purse, walked out the door and never came back.
"Oh, and wait till you meet this guy, he's our resident genius," Luke led her through the group, and Spencer felt the familiar acid of guilt pooling in his gut as she finally made eye contact with him.
Her face fell as soon as she saw him, her shoulders tensing as she stopped in her tracks. Luke and the others noticed the shift in her body language immediately, glancing back at one another.
"Spencer Reid," she breathed, her jaw clenching as she tugged her sleeves down over her wrists.
"Jazz Donnelly," he smiled cautiously, his brow furrowed for a moment as he remembered where he heard the name Keaton before. His heart sank in his chest when he noticed the wedding ring on her finger, "You married Jack Keaton."
She smiled softly, not replying. Jack Keaton, who had been the subject of many arguments and screaming matches between the two. Her best friend who she knew was in love with her, though she insisted she wasn't interested in him, and one of the subjects of their final arguments.
"You two know each other?" Emily hesitantly asked, like she didn't really want to know the answer, stepping closer to Spencer.
"We, uh, we-" Spencer began, unsure how he could even begin to explain that he had completely fucked up when it came to Jasper Donnelly, and that it had not ended well.
"We actually dated," Jasper chuckled quietly, her gaze steady and lacking any emotion or contempt for Reid, "Briefly, fourteen years ago. Spencer was still in the FBI Academy."
"Wow, you two would have been kids," Luke said eyes wide, "I think I met you not too long after. We met, what? Thirteen years ago in Mosul?"
Jasper looked up at Luke, "Yeah, we were pretty young. I was only twenty one."
The rest of the team looked expectantly at Spencer, whose lips were held tight between his teeth, like he always did when he was uncomfortable. He dragged a hand across the back of his neck under their questioning gaze.
"Do people really call you Jazz? Because that is the absolute cutest nickname I have ever heard," Garcia laughed, trying to ease some of the tension in the room.
"Only Spencer called me Jazz," Jasper smiled back at the tech analyst, "I don't think anyone else ever had the guts to."
"Well, if I call you that will you go all badass American Ninja Warrior on me?"
A grin broke out on Jasper's face, clearly amused with Garcia's sparkly demeanor, "I promise, I won't. Go ahead and call me Jasper, Jazz, Keaton. Whatever works."
"Goodie! Jazz, I'm excited to work with you," Garcia beamed, making a face when her phone chimed in her hand, "Which it seems... we're starting now?"
Prentiss looked at her own phone in contempt, pointing toward the Round Table Room, "We'll all take the time to get to know Agent Keaton later. For now, we have a child murderer in Alabama."
"Do you have a go-bag?" Prentiss asked Jasper, who nodded. "Right, Marines... always prepared."
They followed Emily into the Round Table Room, sitting down at their normal seats. Jasper took a seat next to Luke, leaning over the arm of her chair to look at the file on his tablet.
"Hold tight to your happy thoughts, kids, because it's a bad one," Garcia began clicking her remote and turning away from the large screen behind her. "Six children in small town Alabama have been found in the woods, all tortured and strangled. They've been steadily killed at a rate of one a month for the last five months, but the latest little guy, ten year old Jacob Ellis, was killed only two weeks after the fifth victim."
"He's escalating," Luke grunted, his face contorting in controlled anger at the pictures on his tablet.
"Do you have physical copies of this?" Jasper asked, pulling a pen case out of her bag.
"Here," Reid said, sliding his file across the table to her. He'd already read through it, burned it into his memory.
"Thanks," Jasper pulled out a pad of sticky notes from the case, writing little notes and sticking them in place as she flipped through the file. The sleeve of her right arm rode up as she made notes, and Spencer noticed a mottled white scar encircling her wrist.
They watched her expectantly, and she tugged her sleeve back down when she noticed them all staring, "What?"
"Any thoughts?" Emily asked, "What do you see?"
"A lot of rage," Jasper shrugged, writing another note, "the last kid's neck's almost been torn clean through. The wire he used to strangle him with is embedded in the flesh. Though a woman with enough rage could do this, the amount of antemortem torture screams sexually frustrated male."
Emily nodded, "That leads us to the next question, is the strangling just a method of torture or is it a substitute for the sex act? Both?"
"Well the kids weren't sexually assaulted," Rossi piped up, "It might not even be sexual."
"Or rape is a part of some line the unsub doesn't want to cross yet." Jasper kept making more notes as she spoke, taking notes of their theories, "Some offenders, while brutal and cruel, have their limits to what they're prepared to do."
The thought sobered the rest of them. Luke followed up to Jasper's thought, "We did see that in Iraq. That warlord who outlawed rape but tortured and carved up those kids for fun."
"That's what I was thinking about too. That one was bad," Jasper nodded, folding the case file shut and sliding it back over to Reid, who opened it back up again to read her notes. She'd written down their theories, made notes of little things she noticed in the crime scene photos.
"You went in for the extraction on that one, right?" Luke asked.
"Yeah, it got pretty bloody. That guy didn't give up without a fight. I had to step over the bodies of, like, ten kids by the time we got to him."
She and Luke stared at the table for a moment, boring a hole through the wood, the memory weighing heavily in the room.
"I'm gonna assume this guy isn't holed up in a bunker in the middle of a war zone," Jasper offered, giving an apologetic look for the accidental war story, "so that outcome is less likely here."
"Wheels up in twenty," Emily ordered, snapping her tablet cover shut and standing up from her chair, "Let's get this guy."
She motioned for Jasper to follow her, muttering something about starting paperwork before leading her back to her office. The others, of course, pounced on Reid.
"You dated GI Jane?" Garcia exclaimed, clapping a hand over her mouth, surprised at her own excitement.
"Like she said, it was a long time ago," Spencer murmured, trying to make himself smaller in his seat to avoid their questions.
"Okay, but she could snap you like a twig," Lewis joked, "Did you see the muscle definition through her clothes? Her back is a bag of ropes."
"Luke..." Garcia turned on her favorite newbie, "The way you were hugging her, did you ever sample from that pot?"
"No," Luke feigned offense, "When I met her, she was just coming out of a super intense relationship, and she turned me down. Now that I think about that, it was over thirteen years ago. Was she talking about you?"
They all turned to Spencer, eyes wide and accusing. He threw up his hands, shaking his head before standing up and leaving the room. Garcia followed, peppering him with questions.
"How did it end between you two? Was the sex good? Did she break your heart?" She gasped, "Did you break her heart? You hurt her so bad she wouldn't go out with a hot Army guy?"
"It ended fine, I'm gonna ignore that second one. Nobody broke anyone's heart," The last one was a lie, but they didn't need to know the answer to that one. They'd broken each other, completely, not just their hearts.
"How did you know her husband? Was there some scandalous love triangle?"
"Oh," JJ groaned, keeping up behind them, followed by the rest of the team, "there's so much you're not telling us!"
"If she took the job would it be a problem?" Stephen asked, not usually one for drama but enjoying the dark scarlet color Reid's face had turned as they re-entered the bullpen.
"I, uh, I don't think so," Reid shrugged, pulling his go-bag from under the desk. He dragged a hand across the back of his neck and bit his lip before answering, "I don't think she would take the job if she thought we couldn't get along."
"Could you work with her, though?" Rossi pressed, definitely the one who loved drama, even if he would deny it.
"Yeah, of course," Spencer said, though he really had no idea. His past with Jasper was something he always regretted. The things he'd done and said, he wished he could take them back, and he wasn't sure he could be around her and not melt into a puddle of guilt-laden memories.
The flight to Alabama was a few hours, and it only took a few moments to go over their starting points. Luke and Rossi were going to the last crime scene with Walker, JJ and Lewis were heading to the police station to set up and brief the press, and Reid, Emily, and Jasper were heading to the coroner's office.
Jasper sat at the four seat section with Luke, Emily, and Walker, her headphones playing country music as she fiddled with a sensory infinity cube she pulled from her bag, stopping every few moments to make notes on her notepad.
They all watched her, amused at her obliviousness to their scrutiny. Reid watched her from over his book, noting the many scars on her hands that hadn't been there when he'd last seen her. The same ring of scarring on her right wrist encircled her left as well, like she'd been restrained.
His jaw clenched at the thought. He knew there were hazards of the job, but this was a person he loved once, and had wanted to protect, and of course she never let him. She never let anyone do something she could do herself.
She looked up, the weight of their gaze too much to ignore. She set the cube down and looked at them all.
"What do you want to know about me?" she drawled, looking at them expectantly.
"How long did you and Reid date?" JJ offered, smiling at Spencer's visible uncomfortableness.
"About ten months, I believe, in between my first and second deployments."
"Oh," Walker looked surprised, "That's not a brief amount of time."
"We were both pretty busy," Reid piped up, "We didn't spend a whole lot of time together."
"But you knew her husband?"
Reid nodded, licking his lips and thinking, "Yeah, Jack and Jasper were best friends, attached at the hip."
The rest of them turned to Jasper, who shrugged.
"We got together well after we broke up." Her gaze challenged Spencer's, no doubt remembering his jealousy and frustration with their closeness. She turned her ring again with her thumb, looking away from him, a sign of guilt that the rest of the team picked up on.
"Why the Marines?" Luke asked, nudging her gently with his elbow.
She shrugged again, "I didn't have anywhere to go, and I needed a purpose. They gave that to me."
"You didn't want to go to college?"
"Only way I was affording food, let alone college, was to go into the Corps. I actually met Spencer while I was at Georgetown, getting my BA in Foreign Service and Forensic Psychology."
"You did all that while in between deployments?" JJ gaped, "Did you ever sleep?"
"No," Spencer muttered, earning him an exasperated look from Jasper.
"I was doing coursework while overseas too, not just while I was stateside. They have a university in Qatar. I was already working a bit with MARSOC and Homeland at the time, so on-the-job training went a lot into my degree."
"So, like I said, she never slept," Spencer gave her the same look back. She narrowed her eyes at him before turning back to JJ.
"Okay no, I didn't sleep a lot. I had a lot to prove, so I worked my ass off. This accent and this hair? I was just a wild hick from the boonies. Halfway through my second deployment, I got tapped for Raider training and went through the Assessment and Selection Program, and then began nine months of ITC Training. I have a knack for languages, so I went straight through Advanced Language training and the Advanced Linguistic Course. It was about a year and a half of training total, then I met Luke and it all went to shit."
Luke threw his head back and laughed, "You're the one who broke my nose the literal minute I touched down in Mosul."
"That was an accident!"
"I step off a helicopter after coming back from a mission, and bam! I get slammed in the face by a rogue soccer ball, launched by Iron Legs Donnelly over here."
"I played in high school, and the Marines gave me muscles I couldn't ever have been expected to know the limits of."
Luke nodded, "Broke my nose, and earned her the nickname of Kicker for awhile."
Jasper laughed, her cheeks turning red, "It didn't help that he was my trainer for SERE school a few months later. He busted my ass."
"Jeez," Lewis quipped, standing up from her seat near the back of the plane and joining them, "Are you sure you're only thirty five? That's a lot to accomplish in such a short time."
"I would've done more if it wasn't for a sniper outside Kandahar," Jasper winced, "but that round just about blew off my left leg. They discharged me after that, and Homeland and Interpol snapped me up for covert work. Since then, I've just been doing whatever they need and jetting here and there, barely had time to get married, let alone do anything else but work."
"Snipers usually shoot to kill," Rossi arched a brow her way, "Why would he just shoot you in the leg?"
"To send a message," Jasper threw up her hands and gave them a 'what can you do' look, "We were investigating a cell and started getting too close. We got the guy in the end, though, took down the cell too."
"How did you meet Spencer?" JJ inquired, a mischievous glint in her eyes, as she flashed Reid a grin.
"Oh, I think I'll let him tell you that story," Jasper bit back a smile, popping her headphones back in her ears and fiddling with her cube again.
They all turned on Spencer expectantly, whose face turned scarlet as he looked back down at his book.
"I don't recall, actually," he lied, clearing his throat as he turned a page. The rest of the team gave each other looks before moving back to their seats for the remainder of the plane ride. This was going to be interesting.