"There's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met." -Jim Henson
"The color brings out your eyes," Prentiss says, offhandedly, looking up from her book to where Reid is fiddling with his scarf.
More than anything, his purple scarf serves as his extra bit of security. He bought it himself, with money from his first pay check as a grad assistant. Sure it was from St. Vincent's and it was someone's before him, but maybe that's what makes it so soft and so safe.
They're on the plane, miles above Kansas, and both Hotch and Gideon are asleep. It was a rough case, between the fires and the dead father, and both men are due some sleep. Morgan has his head phones in and JJ is writing something in a file, leaving them to their own devices.
"Really?" Reid asks, continuing to fidget with the scarf. People rarely compliment him on his fashion choices, if they notice them at all, and to be honest, he hasn't been the nicest to Prentiss lately.
Spencer Reid picks the most adult clothes he can find. Old men's sweater vests and serious ties; he still looks like he's playing dress up in a suit, and besides, it's hard to find one in a consignment shop. He is an FBI Agent after all, and anyway, he needs his armor more than the others. The clothes protect his skin to be sure, he's never been the most graceful of people, and the desks here have sharp edges. The clothes protect him from people too, though.
It's like how Gideon always introduces him as Dr. Spencer Reid, it's the doctor that's important, or rather it's Gideon telling the world that he is important, that he is a full-fledged member of the team, and not some tag-along kid, to be ignored and patted on the head. The clothes send a message to those who share his material culture, they say that Spencer Reid is not concerned with looking good or with fitting in, but instead with getting the job done, all with an air of brainy intellectualism.
So he wears his ties and his cardigans, and when he needs to, he straps Kevlar over them all. No one besides Prentiss ever even notices his scarves.
"Yeah," she responds. "It does."
"Uh, thanks?" he says and she just smiles and goes back to her book.
"Garcia wants to go see the new Harry Potter movie. Or rather, the latest one. It's been out for a while," Reid says. "I thought, maybe, you might want to come with us? Morgan's coming, too. Or if you've seen it already or are busy or something, it's no big deal."
"Sure," she says, almost surprised at herself that she just agreed to go see a kid's movie with her co-workers. "I'd love to."
There is snow on the ground, but Morgan is playing chauffeur for the night, and so she ducks in the back seat with Garcia when his car appears outside her building. Garcia waves hello with fingernails that are now glittery red and gold. She is obviously in full fan mode for the movie.
"I tried to get Derek to let me do his, too, but he vetoed the idea."
"You know I love you, baby girl, but red just isn't my color," Morgan says, keeping his eyes on the road as they all laugh.
"We picked up Reid just before you, or I would've tried to wear him down, too."
"Did you know that while the coloring of fingernails can be traced as far back as the ancient Egyptians, what we consider finger nail polish was actually inspired by enamel automobile paint?" Reid asks, leaning around the front seat to face them.
"Shiny cars are pretty, too," Garcia says.
After the movie, Garcia and Reid talk animatedly, while she and Morgan trail behind. Morgan is grinning: it's possibly the happiest she's ever seen him. She's smiling too, she can't help it: Reid's enthusiam is catching. She's read all the books, so she can follow the conversation, mostly, when they aren't discussing the Latinate structure of spell casting syntax or the biological possibility of basilisks. She could even join in, but she'd have to blow her cover as not-a-geek. It's not a part of her that she brings with her to work.
Emily Prentiss has spent her whole life compartmentalizing, and Hermione Granger and Signy Mallory just don't belong in the same world as badges and suits. She's good at hiding, letting the suits and the badge tell a story she doesn't actually match. Except now Reid is talking about Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke like they form the ABCs of the English language and she wants to say, "What about Butler and Tiptree and Norton?" Instead, she walks next to Morgan and pretends like Vonnegut is as nerdy as she gets.
"Come on, kids," Morgan says, herding them back to the car under the fluffy white flakes. This time Reid climbs into the back with her. He's still talking animatedly, all hands and a huge grin. If she had known this was all it would take to get him to open up, Prentiss would've done it a long time ago.
Reid hands her his gun and doesn't give her a chance not to back his play. The case has hit him hard. Old memories are like that, she knows. That doesn't mean you walk out into the street with no gun and no Kevlar to talk to a kid hell bent on suicide by cop.
For a moment, she is frozen with her heart in her throat, sure she is going to watch Reid get shot and bleed out on this road. And then Owen Savage, against all probability, against the profile, sets down his gun and lets Reid take him into custody.
Later, when social services have come for Jordan and Owen is behind bars, Reid says, "Thanks for having my back."
"I always will," she replies. Somehow, that has become a true statement, even when Reid is off pulling crazy stunts to exorcise his own demons. She has plenty of demons herself. She just likes to face them armed.
They're on the plane again. Sometimes, Reid feels like he spends more time in the air than on the ground, even though he knows this is factually incorrect. Still, they are flying home from Colorado, from a really awful day on the job, and in the air no one can hurt them. Not like Cyrus hurt Emily. Not like Emily let Cyrus hurt her to protect him.
There are bruises on her face, and more on her body that he won't ever see. He's angry and he's shamed and he doesn't know what to say to her.
"Hey. I need you to listen to me," she says. "What Cyrus did to me is not your fault. It was my decision, and I would do it again. Do you hear me?" Intellectually he knows she is right. Intellectually, he knows what Emily did saved the most people. Still, no matter what some people might think, Spencer Reid doesn't run on intellect alone. She's his friend and she's his family and when she hurts so does he. He knows that if he had been the one to speak up, Cyrus would have had worse in store for him, that he'd be less able to keep doing his job. Emily had taken a beating for him so that the team could win, so that he could have the chance to talk Cyrus down, so that children would have a chance to live.
He still remembers the feel of her arms wrapping around him as the building burned. How she'd kept an arm around him, reminding them both that they were still alive.
The doctors in Colorado had cleared Emily to fly home: no broken ribs or any other bones for that matter. Still, once the plane is on the ground, Reid turns to her and says, "Let me bring over DVDs," and she agrees. He thinks maybe it's just because she doesn't want to be alone with her own memories full of fire.
He makes popcorn, while she curls up on the couch, blanket wrapped around her. He empties the popcorn into bowls for both of them and brings her another ice pack, too.
"Thanks," she says, as Patrick Stewart's voice invites them to go where no one has gone before. He goes to sit in the arm chair, but she pats the couch and scrunches up her legs to make a space for him, so he sits with her. By the time the Borg have kidnapped Picard, Emily has tucked her feet under his thigh and the blanket covers them both.
Its been a long week and they've both seen this episode a hundred times, so he's not surprised when she falls asleep. He lets her stay like that until the credits role.
"Emily," he says before he even moves. He knows first hand how violent a person startled from sleep can be.
She groans a little, but finally opens her eyes.
"If you sleep on the couch, you'll be sore in the morning," Reid says.
"I'm sore now," she mumbles, so he gets up, tucking the blanket back around her feet before heading to the kitchen. He returns with a glass of water and two prescription bottles.
He hands her one bottle and then the other--a muscle relaxant and a painkiller--and she swallows down the pills in a single motion. She caps both bottles and hands everything back to him to return to the kitchen. It's funny how, even now, she tries to take care of him.
"I can stay," he offers, hovering between the kitchen and the living room once everything is back in its place.
"You'd be even worse off than I would for sleeping on that couch," she says. "It's just a few bruises. I'll be fine." Except Emily uses fine just that same way that Hotch does: to cover a multitude of sins. Still, tonight, Reid thinks she probably just doesn't want to wake him if she has a nightmare, so he accepts her statement gracefully.
"Morgan wants to go for pancakes in the morning," he says, as he gathers the DVDs and puts on his coat.
"I do like pancakes," Emily says, following him to the door.
"Okay, I'll give you a call in the morning if I'm not up for it, but otherwise, it sounds good." Emily leans against the hallway wall as he wraps his scarf around his neck.
"I've always liked that scarf," she says, reaching out to gently tug on one end. It's his favorite purple scarf.
"I always wanted a scarf when I was little, but, well, Las Vegas."
"Let me guess, Tom Baker?" She smiles with a fondness that implies familiarity.
"Every single episode," he responds. He's had to sneak around to see them, his mother hadn't approved, but by six, Spencer Reid had known he was going to grow up to be the Doctor. There was only the matter of finding the perfect scarf.
"When Garcia changed her ring tone..." Emily trails off wistfully.
"I looked over my shoulder for the TARDIS, too."
He wakes up to her at his hospital bedside. She looks like she hasn't slept in days. Her suit jacket is tossed over the foot of his bed, but her button up hasn't survived so well, sleep creating permanent wrinkles. He takes all this in as he gauges his pain level and finds it acceptable if not comfortable.
"Hotch?" he asks, his voice breaking halfway through.
She hands him a glass of water. "He'll be okay." He knows she means for values of okay that only apply to Hotch, but at the very least that means Hotch isn't currently in active danger of dying.
"I leave you alone for five minutes and you go and get yourself shot."
"I didn't mean to," he says, though it comes out more of a whine than he might want.
"And yet, here we are in a hospital." He can tell she forcing the levity for him, and he tries to not to focus on what must be wrong. "Garcia is going to swing by in a half hour and bring you real clothes, and if you are really lucky, she might sneak you in some cookies, too."
"Garcia cookies and pants? Is it the apocalypse out there?" he asks and then kicks himself.
"Not anymore," she says, and looks away.
He was hoping for too much when he got excited about actual pants. He's being released from the hospital, but he's still in Morgan's borrowed sweatpants. Prentiss and Morgan are in charge of getting him home. Garcia and JJ are sitting with Hotch, and Rossi is manning the fort.
It feels like the world should be different, somehow, but it's not. The sun is shining and his friends are here and just as he is getting out of the hospital, so will Hotch, and together they'll go about putting everyone back together again. It's hard, but Spencer has done it before, so he knows it can be done.
"Very stylish," Morgan teases, once Reid is settled into the wheelchair, sweatpants and all.
"I don't know, I think the sweatpants might look better on Morgan. They're not quite seventy-year-old professor enough for you, Reid." Emily reaches over to ruffle his hair, and he just ducks out of her way and smiles.
This is his team.
They make quite the pair: Spencer with his cane and her with her bandages. She's still sore from the car accident, which, of course, was neither: truck on police cruiser and nothing accidental about it. Neither of them are up to cooking, and so Emily picks the Italian place down the block from her apartment.
They grab the back booth and order without looking at the menus. The waitress probably knows their order by heart, anyway. Reid dives into the bread sticks and Prentiss squeezes lemon into her water.
Sometimes they come here and both bring a book, content to simply read in one another's company. Reid has been making his way through Neal Stephenson's back catalog in between journal articles and Bede, and she's got the latest Mieville on her night stand.
Tonight, though, they sit quietly, waiting for their food to come.
"The team is back together," Reid offers after his first forkful of manicotti.
"Now held together with extra superglue and duct tape," she says, gesturing at her own bandages.
"It'll work out," he replies.
"I hope so, too."
“Come on,” says Prentiss, herding Reid into her car. It's four thirty on a Friday, their case ended in success, and Hotch has kicked them all out of the building. “You need a hair cut.”
“What?” asks Reid. He tucks a strand of hair behind his ear, confused.
“A hair cut? That thing that, as far as I can tell, Gideon used to make you do,” says Prentiss, slowly.
“Oh,” Reid replies. “Gideon thought a good hair cut helped make the agent. It never really bothered me, one way or the other.” Gideon had lots of opinions and lots of advice. Opinions and advice don't mean a lot hen your actions speak louder than your words.
"Well this is one Gideon related task I don't mind taking over. Haircut, now!" Prentiss jokes and pushes him into the passenger seat.
Normally, Gideon is not a subject to be joked about, but time heals all wounds, and Spencer has always thought that Emily understands abandonment in much the same way he does.
The hair cut is shorter than Reid normally likes it, but Emily pronounces it good. It's even shorter than Gideon usually had them cut it, and it makes his neck feel naked.
"People can see my neck," he says, rubbing the body part in question.
"It's just weird," he replies.
"It looks fine."
"Morgan is going to tease me about it."
"No matter how short you cut it, Morgan would have teased you. He thinks its part of his job as psuedo-big-brother."
"This is true."
"Chinese and Leverage?" Prentiss suggests, and he accepts it as the peace offer it is.
"I've been having headaches," Spencer tells her. He's been off since Miami. She hasn't said anything, but she knows he knows she noticed.
"Does anyone know?" she asks. The chances that she'll be here to follow this up are vanishingly slim. Ian Doyle knows how to do his job, and she is in his cross-hairs.
"I won't tell anyone," she says, even though all she wants to do is tell him everything.
The conversation plays out, and she feels like crap. She knows that Spencer is offering up his headaches as a sign of trust, and to lie to him in return feels like a kick in the gut. She does it anyway. She may hate it, but she'd tell a million lies if they would keep Spencer Reid safe.
Things keep rolling inextricably down hill. The team knows more than she ever meant for them to find out, and if she can't wrap this up and fast, they are going to become Doyle's next target. She uses Morgan, sets up everything as best she can and steels herself for what is about to happen.
They go back to the BAU, the bullpen full of strangers. As Hotch explains the profile, she finds her people one last time. Morgan and Rossi, in a sea of federal officers. Seaver, still looking a little lost. Garcia, up by the railing, trying not to look worried. Reid, perched on his desk.
She looks at Reid one last time, all of his focus on Hotch and the profile, and then she forces herself to tear her eyes away. She walks out of the bullpen that's been her home for the last five years, and doesn't look back. Maybe if everything goes right and luck and all the gods are on her side, she'll walk back in here some day. She tries to believe that.
The purple scarf lies on Reid's bed as he pulls on his suit for the funeral. Boxers, then pants. Shirt buttoned, then tucked in. Jacket and shoes. The scarf sits on the bed. Reid thinks for a moment that it's purple is too reminiscent of spring, of rebirth and regeneration, of life, too full of the hope he does not have. Still, he picks it up, runs its softness through his hands.
Nothing can protect him from this. He's going to carry Emily one last time. He is going to stand there, and let other men cover her coffin with dirt. He'll never even truly get to say goodbye. So he takes the scarf and wraps it around his neck, purple or not, because once, a lifetime ago, Emily Prentiss had smiled kindly at him and said, "It brings out your eyes."
"I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying." -G'Kar