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The Day The Circus Comes To Town

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They are huddled in the center of the bullpen and that’s usually a bad sign for the day. But Garcia’s hysterical early morning text is making him think that this is about a whole other thing.

Garcia: ISN’T IT AWESOMEBALLS?

It couldn’t have happened to all of them, could it? Nah. She was messing with him, and everyone was in on the joke. That had to be it. Nothing else made sense. He had to give them props though: the trick was elaborate.

Prentiss sees him first and looks up worriedly.

“What did you get?”

“Huh?” Morgan grabs the strap of his bag a little tighter.

“Rossi got a gryphon. He trapped it in his master bath and it’s shredding its way out,” she murmurs, eyes flicking around nervously. “He’s totally fucked.”

“I got a Ceberus dog-thingie.” J.J. makes a face but strangely she doesn’t seem as worried as everyone else. “Henry’s delighted. He says there’s a head for both him and Michael – they don’t have to worry about sharing. He’s always wanted a dog…”

“You mean…” Morgan swallows hard and then tries saying it out loud for the first time since he woke up to IT at the end of his bed. “You all found something… mythological this morning? It’s not a prank?”

“Why would it be a prank?” Garcia seems taken aback. “I got a unicorn. He’s sleeping in file storage. He’s adorable.”

“You brought a unicorn to work?” J.J. asks. “How did you get it in the elevator?”

“Morgan, who the hell could pull off a prank at this level?” Prentiss still seems perturbed.

Everyone looks at her and says ‘Reid’ in unison. Prentiss goes blank for a minute, like she’s considering it, and then she huffs it away.

“He’s a genius, but he can’t alter reality…”

Just then, the man himself saunters into the bullpen, slurping from a travel mug and adjusting his messenger bag like it’s any other morning. He smiles when he sees them all and waves.

“Hey guys. Sorry I’m late. Weird morning.” He shuffles to his desk and drops his bag. It sounds like he's got rocks in it but that’s nothing unusual. “Do we have a case already?”

“What did you do?” Prentiss asks, all of sudden newly-convinced that this is all his fault.

He blinks at her. “What did I do what?

“The… mythological… things…” she leans in and hisses at him. His eyebrows rise and then he waves it all off like it’s nothing and smiles at her.

“Oh, I got one too. I think everyone did. I mean, globally. It wasn’t me. But I’m flattered that you think I’m capable of magical practical joking on such an impressive scale.”

“Oh,” Prentiss looks a little embarrassed that she bought in so quickly. “See? I told you all that he couldn’t alter reality.”

“What did you get?” Garcia is practically beaming with anticipation.

“A dragon,” Reid grins and rolls up on his toes. There is a collective intake of breath as folks war between being afraid and impressed. “He’s fantastic.”

“I know, right?” Garcia bounces.

“You left a dragon at home in your apartment?” J.J. asks cautiously.

“No,” Reid looks confused. “I brought him with me.”

Reid shrugs his shoulders a little and a tiny purple dragon appears from between his hair and his shirt collar. Everyone just freezes in place and stares.

“His name is Phineas.”

“He’s MINI!” Garcia squeals.

“You named him?” Prentiss cocks an eyebrow.

“Of course I didn’t name him. He came with his own name. I was just polite and asked what it was. And he wasn’t this small when I found him in my kitchen this morning. But I explained that ten feet wasn’t a practical size for my place, so he kindly altered himself.”

The blank stares continue as Phineas shyly curls his tail through Reid’s hair. But now everyone is staring at Reid as if he has a tail. The kid rolls his eyes at them.

“They’re magic. They can do that.”

“That’s great, dude, but how do we get rid of them?” Morgan asks and then must withstand Garcia’s sudden and terrible stink-eye.

“How should I know?”

“Well, you’re the big ideas guy…” Morgan finishes lamely.

“Derek, what did you get?” Garcia puts her hands on her hips and glares at him in a way that makes him feel four years old.

“A manticore,” he sighs. “It’s a problem. I had to lock it and Clooney in separate rooms. There was so much growling going on.”

“Honey Bear, that’s no way to treat a new family member. Clooney will get used to him.” Garcia skips forward and hooks her arm around Morgan’s, then she adds cheerfully, “Maybe take them to the park to play together…”

“The park?

“Gonna have to start somewhere.”

“It’s not like we have a lot of choice about this until someone figures out what’s going on,” Reid adds helpfully.

“Oh god…” Prentiss looks a little pale.

“What did you get, Emily?”

“A satyr,” she frowns. “I don’t want to talk about it. He’s… grabby and awful.” She stares at nothing in particular and then her expression shifts to the scariest anyone’s ever seen from her. “He cannot stay.”

Everyone takes a safety step back from her and Morgan wonders if handsy satyrs know anything about handguns. Reid’s dragon makes a threatening sort of meep-growl that comes out all smoky, and he whispers something to it, shuffling until the purple reptile slides down into his shirt pocket. Morgan’s impressed with how the kid’s got this all nailed down enough to make the situation seem normal. He’s usually not so good with change and it’s only 9:15 am.

“Hey, where’s Hotch?” J.J. asks. “He’s never late. Maybe his turned out-”

“I’m here.”

Everyone turns and sees Hotch striding into the bullpen with a scowl so deep and severe that it might have developed magical transmogrifying abilities itself. Following closely behind him is a nine-foot-tall minotaur with a matching scowl. In fact, his stride matches Hotch’s as well; it’s like the thing is trying to be a reflection of him.

“Holy fuck.” Prentiss can’t seem to help herself, but they’re all thinking it.

“I had trouble getting George past security,” Hotch adds as he pulls up to the group. An agent who isn’t paying attention catches sight of Hotch’s minotaur from the corner of her eye and yelps, showering the nearby desks with the paperwork she’s carrying. The minotaur makes a noise like razorblades scraped across glass and stoops to help her collect them.

“His name… his name is George?” Garcia whispers. Hotch shrugs.

“That’s what Jack is calling him. Language doesn’t appear to be his strong suit.”

“Hotch,” Morgan sighs, and watches George gently collate with the shaky female agent. “What are we going to do?”

Hotch gives him an unreadable look. “Nothing. I got George a security pass – he’s good to go from now on.”

Everyone stares, gape-mouthed, except for Garcia and Reid, who grin at their boss like he’s just become their new hero. Hotch quickly flicks through messages on his phone, then heads towards his office.

“C’mon, everyone – pull it together. Conference room in five minutes. We have a new case.”

And that’s how Tuesday starts.