She gets the text that says, I love you while she's in the middle of an interview with one of their clients and the client's new lawyer, so Austin doesn't have much more than a minute to think that just that - just those words, in a text, without any other context - is a little unlike Spencer. But nothing else comes through on her phone, voice or text, and there's a heavy workload for the afternoon, the kind that makes her wish she hadn't given up smoking.
Not so much even for the cigarette, but for the excuse to go stand outside for ten minutes while she smoked one, without anyone thinking she wasn't doing anything so obviously, now was a good time to ask her about something else.
When she gets in her car to go home, satellite radio (dialed in to an all news channel, because if she wants music, she'll hit the CD player) tells her, "as yet, the FBI have issued no official statement," but that's the tail end of the story and it doesn't hit rotation again before she's home. It's a point of interest, but no more.
When she gets in the door, Bart is once more on the counter, although this time at least he looks guilty and jumps off as soon as she gets in. Or maybe it's less guilt, and more cupboard-love. She drops her bags and finds him some food. Flops down on the couch and picks up the phone, dialing in to her voice-mail while she turns on the TV and flips to the news, to maybe find out what it is the FBI haven't made a statement about yet.
There's one message on her voicemail. It's from Spencer, and it's short.
I didn't want to bother you at work, he says, to her voicemail greeting. Actually, I'm not sure why I'm calling. I just wanted to - I guess you could say touch base, and she can almost see his air-quotes, but I didn't want to interrupt you doing something. I'll call you later, if I can. I love you.
She stares at the phone after the message finishes, and frowns. The text wasn't like Spencer, but this really isn't, and his voice in the message is - not distracted, but distant, like he gets when he doesn't want to talk about things, because the words make it false and trashy.
She's about to hit the speed-dial for his cell when the words the Reaper drag her attention to the TV. And she listens while the news anchor says something about sources and unconfirmed reports and so on, and a past timeline, but what has her eyes is the footage from a news-camera told blunt and harsh by Agent Rossi to back up and get out of there, and Spencer and Emily standing between those cameras and Agent Hotchner with Agent Hotchner looking like he's been through the war, as they walk him to one of the waiting ambulances.
"As yet," the news anchor says, "the FBI have issued no official statement."
Austin hits the mute button on her remote, and punches the speed-dial. When Spencer picks it up with a quiet Reid - he hasn't looked at the display - she says, "What happened?" and isn't surprised when her voice is a little hoarse.
"Haley Hotchner's dead," Spencer says, quiet and simple, because this is Spencer when he's that far out. "So's Foyet. Jack Hotcher's alive, and so is Hotch."
And that's all. Because there's not much more to say, really. She can hear everything in his voice, because she can hear nothing in his voice.
Because these are his family, not his coworkers. Not really.
"What can I do?" she asks, her own kind of simple.
"I actually don't know," Spencer tells her. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. But you're okay, right?"
Her eyes burn a little bit. She nods even though he can't see her, and says, "I'm a little worried about you now, but yeah. I'm fine. Just a day at work. Bart was on the counter when I got home."
The noise he makes could be interpreted as half a laugh. "Maybe you should just call that one a lost battle," he says.
"Yeah," she replies. "Maybe I should."
"There's a lot of stuff that we have to do tonight," Spencer says. "No, actually, there's a lot of stuff that has to happen around us. So I have to go. But I'll probably call later. And tomorrow."
"I don't have any interviews or sessions over the next two days, babe," she says, because he won't ask. "I'd have to bring paperwork, but I can come up."
There's silence for a second. Spencer's voice is even more distant when he does say, "There's no logical basis for feeling like you're going to disappear."
"Yeah," she replies. "I'll find a ticket and rent a car, Spence. I'll see you tomorrow. Remember to eat something, okay? Something that doesn't come from a vending machine."
"I love you," Spencer says.
"I love you, too," Austin tells him, and means it, and then hangs up the phone. She may tell a slight fib to the office - except it isn't, not in the way that matters. It's not quite a lie, with Spencer, to retell it like this: there's been a tragedy in my boyfriend's family, and I need to go to Virginia. You'll be able to get me on my phone and online if you need me.
She picks up the phone again, hitting a different speed-dial number, to ask Kathy to feed Bart.