A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.
L.A. is a mess from the very beginning.
First, it's Parker: "Spencer! Spencer Reid! Du-dude, look at you! Oh, you look just the same! Look at you, dude, nothing's changed!”
He knows he looks young, and in a way it’s what he’d always wished for - freezing the clock, keeping his body in that pre-pubescent, androgynous state. He’d wanted to keep his angles, his sharp elbows and decidedly unfeminine gracelessness.
Still, he’s no longer a child, and he carries the scars to prove it. When Parker turns away, Spencer looks to Gideon. "Do I look twelve years old to you?"
"Fourteen," Gideon says, half amusement and half sympathetic wince.
And then the real trouble starts. He has the poor sense to follow Parker, who wants to introduce him to someone.
"Spencer, you ever meet a real life movie star?"
By the time he's finally relaxed a little, Gideon’s decided it's time to leave. Right now.
Double murder at a Hollywood bungalow. A celebrity. A young movie star Natalie Ryan and her fiancé, apparently shot to death.
Of course, with his luck, she ends up being the focal point of the case.
...He knows Lila doesn’t know.
She drinks his Coke and pulls off her robe like it’s nothing to be standing there half-nude. Morgan teases him later for the way his head turns, the way his eyes follow her body, but in that moment he’s filled with such sharp envy that he forgets his surroundings.
Her body is whole and beautiful, healthy, strong, and she inhabits it easy as breathing. She’s golden. Radiant.
She’s what he could have been, if he’d been born a girl. Instead he lives awkwardly in a body that is wrong, scarred, subjected to a chemical war.
We're looking for someone pretty close to her. He's circling in. We need to get to her house.
“What are you doing?”
“Going for a swim.”
Of all the ridiculous things. Of course the woman he’s supposed to be protecting wants to go swimming when she has a psychotic killer after her.
“Five minutes,” she tells him. “Go get a suit in the house.” He refuses, of course. He has to grudgingly admit that her determination not to let this stalker ruin her life is somewhat admirable, if reckless. She’s in the pool before he can figure out how to stop her.
“Lila, I'm begging of you. Will you please get out of the pool?” Not that he really expects her to, but it’s all he knows to say.
She grins at him, like an unaware child playing near the edge of a cliff. “Really, Spence, you should live a little.”
“Live a little? I've known you 48 hours, I feel like I've already aged 10 years!” he protests.
Lila gives in - at least, he thinks she gives in. “Fine, can you help me out at least?” But the next thing he knows she’s pulling him in right alongside her.
“Yes, very funny. Laugh it up, Lila. Hilarious. My gun's wet. My clothes!” He crosses his arms protectively across his body after he sets his gun on the side of the pool.
“You should have worn the suit,” she says, laughing.
No, he thinks, I really shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t be here at all. I shouldn’t be doing this. But she’s moved in close and she’s pressing her lips to his. “This is completely inappropriate,” Spencer says, unable to quite pull himself away.
“This isn't...” For a moment, he slips into the fantasy. He wraps his hands around her face, kisses her back, deep and sweet. But... ”No.” He pulls away. “There's, there’s this thing...” There’s this thing, and it’s called gender, and mine doesn’t match the body I was born into. “...Called transference,” he tells her. Really, Spencer? Really, that’s what you come up with? What about the truth, for once? Ha, that would go over well.
“You don't like me?”
“...What?” Of course he likes her. It’s, he’s being kissed by a movie star, and one of the most beautiful women he’s ever seen, and...
“You don't like me.” She’s frowning.
“No, I-I do! I like you, too. Just, I'm a, ah--” He bites back the first words that come to mind. “A federal agent, you know, and I'm supposed to...protect you.”
“Then keep me close,” Lila whispers, and pulls him in for another kiss.
“I'm just, I'm a little bit worried.” You’re going to be the death of me, you know. “You know, we're... we're in a pool, and it's a... we're pretty much exposed.”
“We have cops,” she says. “We have cops posted out front. There are coyotes out back. And right here it's just... you and me.”
“Stop.” Spencer pulls back. “I'm sorry. I have to...I have to tell you something.”
“I didn't want to tell you this before 'cause I was a bit worried. I don't know how to say it, but I can't not tell you.”
“What is it?”
He falls silent, unable to make himself say the words. At the last moment, he takes the easy way out. “Your manager, Michael...Gideon went to check on him, but...he got there too late.”
“How could you-- How could you not tell me?”
“I was afraid you'd be upset.” You have no idea, Lila. No idea at all.
“You...You knew what you knew, and...How could you not...”
“I'm so sorry.” For everything.
“Don't. Don't touch me. Don't touch me.”
But it’s easier to hear those words now than after clothes come off, easier to let her curse him for lying about Michael than for living a lie that is not a lie. It’s less painful to see that look now than directed at his skin. He knows the feeling of betrayal too well - it’s the one he feels every morning, getting dressed in the dark. My body is the thing that lies, he wants to tell her, not me.
Because more than the look on her face now, the thing he can’t handle is the words he knows would eventually come - you’re not a boy!
Spencer Reid has told many lies in his lifetime. That has never been one of them.