Reid volunteers to clean out Emily's apartment. Garcia wants to help, but Reid wants to do it by himself. He has Emily's spare key. It was a precious gift, especially with the rocky start they'd gotten off to. But Emily had taken his pain and his snark and eventually, together, they'd managed to turn it into friendship. Now she's his best friend. He loves the whole team- they are his family and his rock and his shelter, but Emily understands him. She's read the same books and watched the same shows, and in many ways, was shaped by this world in the same way he was, even if the circumstances differed wildly.
He's prepared himself for this task. He's been in Emily's apartment by himself before once or twice, but it is too quiet. Still and wrong in ways that make the hair on his arms stand up. He has tape and boxes and sharpies, and he sighs, wishing he'd brought a badly chosen bottle of wine for her to gently mock, even though she'll never tease him about his complete lack of a palate again.
The door to Emily's safe is still open. All that is left inside is the passport Rossi and Morgan found, the passport that let them know she wasn't running away to save herself. He keeps kicking himself: he's a profiler, he should have known. He's trained to know. He never even suspected that Emily was hiding another life. It makes sense now: why she was so good at cutting off parts of herself, why she knew even more languages than any diplomat's kid ought to know. He just never thought to look before. She's always just been Emily: fellow geek, superior profiler, annoying older sister.
The front hallway is easy. Her furniture is going to be picked up by the moving crew her mother hired, so all Reid is responsible for are the flowers on the side table. Emily never was one for pointless things. The kitchen is harder. Between the two of them, they could create a meal, sort of. Takeout was a much more frequent occurrence, and he'd spent many a night moving things from takeout containers into bowls on this counter top. He wraps up her silverware and plates, packing them away until only those bowls remain. In the end he sets aside her bowls--dark blue glazed crocks--in a box clearly labeled "Reid."
Other things go in other boxes: storage, trash and Good Will, mostly. Each team member has their own box though. He puts her Vonnegut novels in Morgan's and her lone cookbook in Rossi's, he puts the H. G. Wells in his own box, and the Heinlein juveniles in Hotch's for Jack. Garcia gets the tiny collection of graphic novels Reid finds in one of the drawers of Emily's nightstand, and for JJ there are original Nancy Drew mysteries. The DVDs split pretty evenly among the boxes.
Other things go in the boxes, too. JJ had handed him a list on a piece of yellow legal paper. It's just names and things, but it's in Emily's handwriting. He can't tell how old it is, and JJ won't say anything about it, but he follows its dictates: a necklace for JJ, garnets set in gold, a mug for Morgan, white with a dragon sleeping on the inside, a stack of photographs for Garcia, of her and Emily dressed up for Halloween, a magnifying glass for Rossi, rose wood handled and a hundred years old if he had to guess, Emily's back up piece for Hotch, and for him, her signed by Tolkien himself, first edition copy of The Hobbit.
When he'd read the list the first time, Reid's knees had gone out from under him, and he'd barely made it in his desk chair. It hadn't felt real, not until he saw all of Emily's plan laid out before him, saw the proof she knew she was going to die and prepared for it.
It takes him all day, but eventually everything is either gone in the Good Will truck, stacked in waiting for the movers, in the dumpster, or in a few small boxes in the trunk of his car.
"You're Dr. Reid," the neighbor says as he steps out of the door with the last box.
"Uhm, yes? I mean, I am," Reid says and sets the box down in the hall.
"Emily talked about you, you know. All good things," the woman says with a bittersweet smile. "Anyway, she asked me to watch Sergio. I usually did when she was out of town. I'm Melissa Halbridge, by the way."
"I hadn't even thought about him."
"He needs a home, and I thought, the way Emily always talked about you, that I should ask if you would take him. I would, but I've already got two of my own, and Sergio and Gladys just don't get along."
Reid nods, he might not have gotten to say goodbye, but this is a thing he can do for Emily. "I would be honored," he says.
He exits the building one last time, cat carrier in one hand, only to find Morgan and Garcia leaning against Garcia's car. He sets Sergio's carrier down on the curb and lets each of them hug him in turn.
"We thought," Garcia says, "that after this, we should make sure you were fed."
Reid hears what she's not saying; that she doesn't want him to be alone, that she doesn't want to be alone herself. Food is a near universal response to grief in their culture, and so he nods. "Food would be good. We could get take out and eat at my apartment while Sergio gets settled," he asks more than says.
Garcia nods. "Thai?"
Reid smiles. Thai was always Emily's favorite. "Sure."
Morgan helps him load Sergio in his car, and then pulls him into another quick, hard hug. "We'll meet you at your place, kid," he says, and then once Reid is safely in the driver's seat, closes the door.
Reid's got Sergio all set up and out of the cage by the time Morgan and Garcia arrive. They come carrying bags of food, more than the three of them could ever eat, and an armful of wine.
Sergio hides under his bed, and the food gets spread across his counter. Rossi shows up at the door with a bottle of scotch and Seaver trailing behind. "They called," he says at the door, and Reid nods them inside.
Hotch and JJ slip in later as Morgan is recounting Emily's first meeting with Clooney to Seaver, who hasn't heard all the old Emily stories before.
Soon the food is decimated, and everyone has a drink in hand, and Reid feels like life might go on for the first time since all of this started.
This is what family does, Reid realizes halfway through telling his own favorite Emily story to Seaver. Family is there to get each other through when things go wrong. They pick up the pieces, they hold you together, they laugh with you, and they cry with you. Family remembers and family loves. Spencer Reid has chosen this family, that is true, but it doesn't make it any less his, and so with them, he lets go of a bit of his grief, and remembers Emily as she was.