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someone who is real (just gets in the way)

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Morgan's always been good at putting himself in the UnSub's head without letting it get to him, like he's throwing on a borrowed coat for a brisk walk to the corner store on a winter night, a snack run for someone else's party. The coat gets tossed in the closet afterward, and the warmth doesn't stay with him.

He can still feel the cold, though, against the unprotected parts.

They're breaking down victimology this time, and Morgan's not as good at that -- Prentiss thinks that it's more like pulling on an old, too-tight shirt, one of his own, stuck in the back of a drawer for two decades and harder to remove once it's on. He can't shrug off his own past.

For her it's like borrowing another woman's heels -- half a size too small, and she's Cinderella's stepsisters, cutting herself down to fit. Removing the parts of her profile that would make her react differently, if she were attacked in her own home.

They all imagine it. Reid told her about Elle Greenaway, once, and then there was Hotch, and Foyet.

Reid also confessed to her that he would have gotten a panic button years ago, except that he's afraid he'd end up using it for shadows and branches at the window, instead of an interloper in the flesh.

She thinks maybe she shouldn't ply him with so much alcohol, sometimes.

He was slender beneath her, almost brittle, like the coked-up teenage girls at Emily's expensive boarding school, one semester in the States and kisses goodbye. "Spencer," she said, and he opened his eyes, gazing up at her with wonder.

"You know this is a one-time thing, right?" she asked, and Reid's smile was soft, rueful, maybe a little kind.

His kisses were hesitant, throughout, and he accepted every touch like a gift. Emily wonders later why it felt like she was taking something from him, instead of sharing.

She pushes the thought away. She's careful, and considerate, and she'd asked him what he wanted before the first drink, smirking at his slow interpretation of her words. She watched him work through every possible meaning before arriving at the right one, and his desire had nothing to do with their drinks.

Morgan throws back his beer like he needs the courage to look her in the eye, and she's never taken him for a coward -- she's never taken him at all.

They're in another victim's house, tracing the steps of a man who forces women to pretend to be his girlfriend, and she's Prentiss when Hotch sends her there with Morgan, Emily when Rossi doubts her, and neither when Morgan turns to her in the bathroom. Through the kitchen and up the stairs, and here is where the other women fought back, at last, nothing but their clothes left to protect them, then nothing but their skin.

It's too easy to lose yourself.

Prentiss looks at Morgan in the victim's bathroom, and for a moment she's looking at their UnSub, a man with the strength and capacity for violence that would leave a woman (would leave Emily) bleeding from a head wound, crumpled on the floor. She talks her way through the scene, the third victim's desperate struggle as the evening went from a civilized dinner with flowers and wine to this.

Her shoulders twitch beneath her jacket. Her clothes drag her back, keep her from losing herself in the profile, but Morgan is still standing there, reaching for the UnSub's headspace, just beyond his grasp. He's a good man, but that's not what's stopping him. They don't have all the pieces.

Morgan looks at her and shakes his head, shakes off the partial profile and turns to go.

"I'm going to need a drink after this case," Emily says, and Morgan pauses in the doorway.

"Name the time and place," he says, and her lips quirk into a tiny smile.

"Who says you're invited?"