Not sure if I made it clear, so I'll just state: I know Anne was bitten in Lie To Me, she just didn't show Reid.
Reid was struck with the vague idea that his glasses were off, before he realised he didn't wear glasses, and then came firmly into consciousness. He was still in an L.A. back street at night, but now he was flat on his back, a man leaning down...
- Not to help him. Fear snapped through him, and he couldn’t do anything but cringe into the uneven cement beneath him as he stared up at the impossibly distorted brow, the inhuman yellow eyes, and the elongated canines... fangs.
Vampire. His mind supplied and Reid couldn’t help think his own brain was mocking him. He shivered as his protective denial melted away, and he had to face the fact that this thing… this vampire, was real. And getting closer.
And his thoughts froze again.
He couldn’t move, couldn't think anything but VAMPIRE! as the creature leaned down, fangs bared, towards Reid’s throat.
A blur of dark against dark moved, and then gleamed, and he was choking on dust, coughing up the remains of the creature even as it fell down onto, and into, him. Reid knew it was impossible, for a man to flake to ashes, returning from flesh to dust in less than a second, and yet, that’s what he spat out.
"Believe in them now?" Marco asked, as he leaned over, extending his hand.
Reid continued staring, and Marco toed him gently with the spiked tip of his boot. "You dead?"
""Cause then we'd have to kill you." One of the other men commented.
"Incoming." Someone else shouted, and he could see then all suddenly becoming serious, and from the vantage of flat on his back, Reid watched them scatter to allow the vampire through and reform around it in a loose circle. It snarled, hesitating at it chose an initial target, and they moved quickly and efficiently, practice compensation for their obvious physical inferiority. They used it’s hesitation and a obviously pre-agreed to plan to end the confrontation before it could really begin.
The creature rained down in pieces less than a minute after it had appeared, nothing more than dirt on the street, as the fighters bumped fists and congratulated each other on surviving.
And Reid lost sense of it all again.
"Reid." Derek started voice even and tense. "I was waiting until we got out of there to ask, so know that when I ask now, I’m as calm as I'm going to get… WHAT THE HELL, REID?"
Spencer huddled back into his seat, wincing as the noise agitated the headache blooming from the spot where his head had struck the pavement for the second time.
"WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? OR WERE YOU EVEN DOING THAT? YOU COULD HAVE DIED?"
"No." Abruptly not yelling, Derek swung the car onto the side, and killed the engine, turning to look at Reid, his eyes glittering in the dark. "No Reid. You weren't thinking. You have to let this go. This girl isn’t important enough. You know what it would do to us, if you went out like that and never came back? Reid… you almost didn't come back."
"This isn't about Buffy-"
"No! I want to figure this out, but not just for Buffy. This case is messing with all of us-"
"Not all of us are getting so stupid though-"
"Really? Because I've been listening the last couple days and I haven't heard much intelligence. You think the way you and Prentiss are going at it are going to get you anywhere? Have you noticed that Garcia and Jennifer are hiding, avoiding us as much as they can? Or that Hotchner is snapping at Kate whenever he sees her, or that-"
"I get it. But this is worse than that-"
"No. I tried to do something. I know, I should have had backup, or told someone, but it all just happened... I needed to do something Derek. I can't just watch-"
Derek sighed and ran a hand over his head. "The team isn't going to be better off if you're dead, Reid."
"I know that. I just didn't think that this would kill me."
Derek snorted, and started the engine. They drove a ways before he spoke again. "Did you at least get something?"
"Y-" Reid paused, mouth open to spill it all, and it hung there for a second as he realised he couldn't. "-No"
Derek shot him a glance, face illuminated as they passed a street light, and Reid knew Morgan hadn't missed the slip, hadn't believed the cover, but Derek kept his peace, and they traveled the rest of the way back towards Reid's motel in silence.
Ignoring everything but his thoughts and the inescapable pounding of his head, Reid was grateful Derek hadn't pressed. The night already had been too much, and trying to figure out a way to explain it all would be something better left until after he'd had a sufficient amount of sleep.
Vampire were real. They walked around, almost unchallenged, and killed people. And almost no one knew. He wondered how many of the death's they encountered had something to do with this hidden world. How many of their explanations had been faulty because they didn't understand? He wondered if the cultist they'd profiled, and caught, right before he could sacrifice twelve 11 year old girls, would have actually raised the demon he had been expecting if they hadn't stopped him?
Two days ago, he had known that man had been crazy. Out of his mind; sick in the brain. Now he wondered... was that man just genuinely evil? Power hungry? Was there actually sense in the acts they had labelled senseless. And the killers they didn't catch... were they something that could not be caught... by them?
Which led his thoughts back to the current case. To Buffy.
She was, according to Anne, the best supernatural police officer out there. And her 'cult' was an attempt to train successors to keep the world safe. Literally. Instead of being a place where delusions were spread, as the team had first thought, the Summer home apparently taught girls how to use weapons and go out to hunt down the things that preyed on humans.
Humans like him. Like all the cops at the precinct who’d walked out of the briefing. Like doctors. And bus drivers. Everyone else who walked and talked and lived their life, and were completely helpless against this huge threat they didn't even see.
And if the case came around to accusing Buffy; to removing those girls and locking her back up, Reid wondered if his team would end up responsible for everyone else getting a harsh, and possibly deadly, awaking to that ignored world.
Whether they would all end up flat on their backs, teeth in their neck, world fading away to black for a final time they wouldn’t wake up from?
Reid knew he couldn't explain this new reality to the team. If he tried to explain ‘Buffy is innocent because of the vampires’ he’d end up sharing his meals with his mother every day.
But he couldn't just let Buffy be locked up.
He had to save Buffy, to save his team. But he had no idea how to do either. No idea whether the team could let this case go, and still be even remotely as they were.
For one blinding second, he hated J.J., for picking this case, for bringing it to them, but it was senseless. And it passed with a wave of guilt. It wasn't her fault, any more than it was Buffy’s that the world was full of dark creatures.
The car stopped, and he was halfway out the door before he realised it wasn't his motel.
Derek, who'd jogged around the car, grabbed his elbow, and pulled him the rest of the way out.
"Just in case." He said firmly, and Reid was too tired to try and fight it, so he let Morgan lead him to the bright lights of the emergency room, and tried not to wonder how many people bussed through here were injured by things that their doctors would never, could never, understand.
"I'll be back in ten minutes." Morgan promised, stalling at the doorway.
Reid resisted the childish urge to roll his eyes, and repeated his reassurance for the third time, "I'll be fine… for the whole ten minutes, alone in a hospital."
Derek nodded, still looking unsure as if Reid might jump out the third story window and go back to walking dark streets at night, but finally turned and left in search of coffee.
Reid settled back on his pillows, thinking it was stupid he had been admitted. He had no real injuries and would have been twice as comfortable in his motel bed.
"I thought he would never leave."
Reid whipped his head around so quickly his vision went black for a moment, and he lost a few seconds blinking it away. He knew, even before scattered bits of images appeared, reforming to a complete picture, who it would be.
Buffy was leaning against the wall by the window, which was now open, and he shoved down the immediate idea of how impossible it would be for her to enter that way, and considered what Anne had told him.
There were so many things to relearn.
"Don't you just hate hoverers?" She continued when he made no comment.
"He's just worried."
She studied him, and then shrugged, dropping the matter.
"Why are you here?" He asked, too tired to try and wrap his brain around her.
"Got a phone call-"
"That seems to happen a lot-"
She continued as if he hadn't interrupted "-heard you got up close and personal with my world. Wanted to see how you were doing."
"Mentally or physically?"
"A little of both. Anne said you would live, so mostly mentally."
"Small concussion... which from what I understand is a small price to pay compared to the usual repercussions of having your eyes opened. Mentally is harder to explain. I believe you, if that's what you’re getting at now."
"No." Her face was pitying, so he looked down at the sheets. "That's not what I was-"
He looked up when she didn't continue, and saw the room was empty again, the window shut, and admitted to himself just the tiniest slice of envy for such abilities, despite knowing the burden they came with.
His attention was drawn back to the door as it slid open, and he let Buffy's visit slid from his mind. "That was qui-"
Reid stopped, watching Derek walk back in empty handed, with Rossi, Hotchner, and Prentiss behind him, faces all carefully blank.
"Why is it that I suddenly feel sick?" Reid asked, trying for levity, and judging by the lack of even a flicker of amusement from any of them, he had failed by a considerable margin.
"Reid, Morgan told us what you did." Prentiss said, using her gentle ‘the bad men won't hurt you, no need to jump off the rail’ voice. "And why?"
"Why?" He echoed.
"That you’re worried about the team." Rossi explained, voice suffused with warmth, tones softened.
Reid realised he actually did feel sick. Palms sweating, convulsive swallowing... this… intervention was scarier than the vampire attack, but that might have been because he still had full use of cognitive faculties, and could realise how bad this was.
"The team means a lot to us all." Hotchner continued, "But the course of action you pursued was ill advised."
"Guys... I'm not crazy. Or suicidal. I just got caught up in a lead, and didn't think it over until I was halfway through. I know what I did was kind of stupid-" He amended, "Very stupid, and I'm not entirely known for doing stupid things, so you are all worried this is some sort of relapse or mental break, but it isn't. And you treating me like I'm insane isn't really helpful. I have a concussion. Wait a few hours, and then feel free to yell at me."
"We're not going to-"
"It's what people do." He deepened his voice. "REID! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN HURT."
He cleared his throat, and returned his tone to normal. "That's the appropriate response. I didn't think it through. I could have been hurt. But I'm not... nuts. So please, stop the intervention."
He frowned in frustration. "Don't insult my intelligence by pretending the four of you coming in like this, shoulder to shoulder, blank face and level tones, isn't an intervention. The bump to my head didn't wipe all my knowledge of profile. This is classic intervention. So classic it's almost ham handed."
That finally got a reaction. Derek relaxed, and Prentiss frowned, and Rossi smiled just a little around the eyes. Hotchner didn't change at all, but that wasn't unexpected. A threat to the team would cut deepest to him. The others were concerned about Reid, but they could survive a disbanding. Hotchner was like Reid. This was all he had. The job and the team.
Derek sat down on the edge of the bed. "Alright then. If we’re not taking it easy on you, why don't you explained to us what you learnt?"
He was saved from his thin edged denial, and the scepticism it would have faced, by the door opening slightly. Garcia's head appeared, with brightly coloured flowers held out under her chin. "Is it safe to come in?"
She bustled in before anyone could fully reply, leaving J.J waiting in the doorway. Garcia walked over, past Morgan, and hugged Reid as best she could with him lying prone in the bed.
"I'm getting you a bell." She threatened.
He smiled up at her, unbelievably grateful for her presence, and even, the double edged blade of the company of the rest of the team, all watching him way too carefully.
"The flowers were really enough."
"I have everything." Reid assured again, resisting the urge to point out that everything was only the clothes on him, since his phone was still at the shelter, but Morgan finally nodded his acceptance and got into the drivers seat.
Reid slid into the passenger side, and settled back, clipping his seat belt and staring out the window as they edged up to the pay booth, and then out into the pre rush hour traffic. Early L.A. road ways were gray and bleak, and not at all the picture California tried to present to the world, but oddly calming after the night he had had. Loud noises, bright lights and beautiful people, what one expected from L.A, even if they didn't expect to see them on the road ways, were not something he would have felt up to dealing with.
"So are you going to explain this to me?" Morgan asked as they settled into highway speeds.
"Explain what? We've already been over-"
"What did you find out?"
Derek cut his eyes across the vehicle, meeting Reid's, before refocusing on the nearly empty road. "And don't tell me nothing. You don't want me to insult your profiling skills. Fine. But don't insult mine. You saw something... learned something... something you think is important and I'm having a hell of a time figuring out what it could be."
"The girl I met at the diner was a friend of Buffy’s." Reid repeated. "I just got another bit of insight into her."
"And the after-dark walk with the gang?"
"Anything that I recognised, but I know for sure they were some kind." Derek interrupted. "What are you trying to hide, Reid? Why?"
"Because it can't be explained." He admitted quietly, staring out at the passing signs and determinedly not looking over at his co-worker. "That was the point. Why I was out with them. There was something they had to show me, something I wouldn't believe, that couldn't just be explained."
Reid turned to stare, and Derek shook his head.
"We all read those papers, Reid. It's a fairytale. A gruesome delusion."
"I can't explain it-"
"But you believe it don't you? Somehow they got you to think the story checks out. That this isn't a cult, because they're the ones locked into reality while the rest of the world is bumping around like unguided sheep waiting to get picked off by the wolves. Reid you know how crazy-"
"I can't explain it." Reid repeated firmly.
Derek paused before replying. "I can't either. I know you’re not crazy. And they tested you at the hospital... there was nothing in your blood. But I get what you’re trying not to say. You believe them now."
"I'm not saying that." Reid agreed.
"But that’s what you mean."
The car slowed as they turned into the gravel lot to his motel. "It's been a long night, Morgan. I'm tired. You might not want to be listening to closely to anything I say."
"Just because you'll have your act together later, won't make right now not real. But you do need to get it together, Reid. I know you're not crazy, but if you go talking about this-"
"If you go believing this... other people won't think the same."
"Thanks for the ride." Spencer said, avoiding the topic, hand on the door handle, foot at the well as the car finally stopped. He unfolded from the vehicle as quickly as he could, but Morgan followed got out too, talking over the roof to his back.
"Vampires aren't real, Spencer. You know that."
Reid shook his head, feeling the lingering exhaustion from the long night, and what was yet to come threaten to pull him into the ground.
"Thanks for the ride." He said again, and hurried for his room before Morgan could make another comment.
"I can't believe I agreed to do this."
"I was a little surprised." Reid admitted, smiling across the seat at Morgan, who rolled his eyes in response, and kept his focus on the road. Reid had been about to call a taxi when Derek knocked on his door and demanded to know what he was doing. Apparently Spencer had been bumped back to the trust allowance one gave a mischievous toddler, and someone would be keeping eyes on him until he left L.A.
Reid had planned on sneaking out to the shelter to grab his phone, and somehow Derek had ended up going with him.
Derek slowed the car, looking at the decaying neighbourhood around them and shook his head. "I can't believe you came here."
"It's not that far."
"Geographically." Derek countered, "But you, suburb boy-"
"People are people."
"Says the man who's never had his shoes stolen."
Reid knew pointing out that he had once been addicted to Dilaudid wouldn’t help the argument, nor should it. There was a big difference in his circumstances and those who usually flocked to the shelter. But there was still a part of him that couldn’t see the difference between someone who lived here, and someone who lived where he grew up. They were changed by their environments, shaped, but base desires were all the same. And Derek himself was proof that good things came from scary places.
Morgan stopped in front of the shelter without Reid having to direct him to the building. Youth were hanging around in front, and watched the car suspiciously.
Anne stepped out of the building, sheltering her face with one hand and smiled when he stepped out.
"Agent Reid." She greeted, walking over, and the kids slunk away, but didn't completely disappear. "And-" She turned expectantly and Morgan stepped up to the plate."
"Derek Morgan. I work with Dr. Reid."
"You had an interesting night?" Anne asked.
"To say the least." He replied, hoping she wouldn't continue in front of Morgan.
"Came back for this?" She darted back to the door way, and lifted up his satchel, and then explained when he gave her a questioning look. "I was expecting a visit. No questions? Comments? Denials."
He shook his head.
"I have some." Derek interjected
"You want the tour too?"
"No. Thanks." Morgan said. "But I want to know how exactly it was you got Reid believing in the crap."
She crossed her arms, and met his gaze. "I let him see for himself."
"I don't care whether you believe it or not. All I have to say is that I owe Buffy Summers... a lot. And you guys are edging on stupid with regards to her. Isn’t entirely your fault, but I thought I could help. It doesn't make me responsible for all of you. Doors open, but I'm not going to haul you in."
"You always talk in half speak?"
"Only when dealing with people like you?"
"People who don’t want to hear the flat out, straight up truth. Half talk makes it all go down easier."
"Doesn't feel real easy to me." Morgan countered.
"It isn't." She shrugged over her shoulder towards the shelter. "I have to get back to work. No more tours going out for the day, but if you want to at least give it some thought, rather than hiding in the dark, Agent Morgan, you can come in. And listen. Because everyone in here didn't get the choice for easy. And they know all those things your afraid to conceive. You might learn something."
She turned, and walked back into the building.
"Don’t think I like her."
"I do." Reid said, "You want to go in."
"You think they all talk cryptic like that?”
Reid studied the faces he could see lingering outside the shelter; all young and worn, all careful and wary. "No. I don’t think they do."
He glanced over at Derek. "I don't think they try to sugar coat it."
Reid looked back at the door, the small handwritten sign hung from the arch.
‘Not No One’
"Might be painful."
Reid stood awkwardly in the doorway, unsure what to do as Morgan groaned softly into his palms.
"What do we do?" He asked.
Reid smiled slightly at the irony, but it faded away when Morgan looked up, eyes dark.
"There's a whole world out there Reid. Something we've never seen... god, those things could be where I grew up. They could... my family..."
"I don't think that happens often." Reid offered.
"That's not the sense I got."
"You'd think we'd notice."
"No. Not anymore. Reid, we're profilers. What the hell have we been doing... all these cases, and we've never..." He shook his head, shoulders slumping.
"I know it's a lot right now... I know. But it doesn't really change a lot. I mean, we're not going to start going out and doing what they do. We can't. We deal with other stuff. And while Marco and his crew can wield an axe against supernatural creatures, we keep the streets safe too, Morgan."
"Yes." That much Reid knew. But how much was the question, and he kept that from his tone.
Derek sighed again. "That's not the pressing issue- what to do about it now that we know... I'm talking about our case."
Reid frowned, and Morgan elaborated.
"Our case. ‘The cult of Buffy Summers’. Who isn't actually corrupting young woman... but guiding them along. But we can't just say that... because once we bring up vampires, we're both fired. So what do we do? We can't let them send her to jail."
"You have a plan?"
"No." Reid dropped into the chair by the window, looking out, and wandering if he saw a flash of blond in the darkness outside his room.
"We need a plan."
"You're saying that a lot."
"I kno-" He stopped himself, and moved his focus to the vacuum patterns in the carpet. "Sorry."
"We need a plan."
Reid stopped just before pointing out that Morgan had already said that as his brain caught the edge of an idea and unfolded it.
"I might have one." He said, and looked up.
Derek grabbed his keys. "Let’s go then."
"For the record," Derek pointed out, "This is possibly the worst plan I have ever heard. And yet... it might work."
Reid laughed softly. That pretty much typified the problem. They were surrounded by oxymoron, and the all the once familiar shades of gray were all turning peaches and teals.
"I just wanted to point that out, so later, either way, I can say I told you so."
Morgan pulled up to the curb and killed the engine.
"Since when do you say I told you so?"
"Since the ending of this case."
"Lets just hope it does. End."
"It will. Lets just hope it ends neatly."
"Yeah." Reid shook off the dreary thought, and slid from the seat, slamming the car door behind him, and heading for the station, Morgan locking step beside him.
They bypassed the glass room where the rest of the team was already stationed, the empty coffee carafe an indication they'd been there for quite awhile, and headed out to the desks that edged the main area.
She looked up, shoving a pen behind her ear, "Kate."
"Right." Morgan didn't even bother with his usual charm, and cut directly to the point. "We need your help."
"Really?" She arched a brow at them, and leaned back until her chair squeaked.
"We need to get in touch with Buffy."
She picked up another pen, and tossed it as she listened. "Why not just go to the house?"
"Neutral ground might be a good thing."
"It's not." Reid assured. "And we were just hoping you could make the contact."
She nodded. "I'll let her know. And I wasn't asking for an invite-"
"I don't want to be in the middle of this went it starts sliding sideways-"
She cut Morgan off as easily as she had interrupted Reid. "I'll give her a call. And she'll let you know."
"Thanks D... Kate."
She nodded, staring at him for a moment, as if looking for something that couldn’t be seen. "Good luck." Her eyes flickered to Morgan, and then she bent her head back down, pulled her pen from her hair, and went back to her report, completely ignoring their presence.
They retreated, but stopped at the kitchenette, rather than rejoining the team, knowing that going in with a secret like the one they were now coping with, while it was so fresh, would be a bad idea.
"I hate waiting." Derek commented, but despite the cracking of his knuckles that emphasised his words, he seemed calmer than he had in the car.
Reid looked down at the screen of the phone attached to his hip, checked the time, and looked up again. He breathed and started counting, only getting to three before looking down again, and sighed in disgust at himself.
He stopped when Morgan nodded in agreement, and exited. Reid extracted a book from his satchel, and started looking for a quiet place.
The phone buzzed against his hip bones, and as he unclipped it, he looked across the room, meeting Kate's eyes as she laid her own phone back down on its cradle.
"We can deal with this." Buffy said, voice even, arms crossed, looking up at them, looking very slight, but very unconcerned, and he wondered how he couldn't have seen it before. The behaviours that didn't make sense. The motions that were too perfect.
She shrugged. "We have connections. Resources."
"Then why haven't you before this?" Derek asked, and she shrugged again, but Reid saw something flicker in her eyes. Something like guilt, he realised. He examined her again, past the grace, past the fearlessness, and saw the slight moves, the pauses in her speech where she reformulated her thoughts, just for a second, as if she wasn't used to explaining or conversing.
He realised, from Anne's stories, that she was a leader, but he recognised now it was more than that. He saw, now, that she was all alone surrounded by a hundred people who called her name.
"Did it have to do with me?" He guessed, and when she shrugged again, eyes flicking away, he took that as a yes.
"We didn't realise it was happening until you guys were already here... and then..." She hesitated. "Then I wanted to see what would happen."
Reid laid his hand on Morgan’s shoulder, and the man bit back the comment.
He winced as Morgan blew up.
"Sorry, do you have any idea-"
She looked up again, at him, and he stopped mid-sentence at the look in her eyes. Reid was glad not to be her focus. There was a steel there, a loud and clear ‘don't mess with me’ message that might explain why she was lonely.
"Yes. I have a good idea. I am sorry. But I thought once you were here it would go away on it's own."
"You-" Reid looked at her in askance, and felt Morgan doing the same to him.
She shrugged. "I told you. You know."
"About vampires." She smiled slightly. "And you didn't call me insane, so I thought." She shrugged again, and he wondered exactly how nervous she was having this out. "That you knew, already. I didn't realise you were humouring me."
"Yeah." She shifted slightly, looking past them to the brick wall as if it were an ocean vista. "Yeah."
Morgan cleared his throat. "You said you can fix this."
"Without messing with us?"
"You'll be inexplicably pulled from the case. And the others won't find it too odd. But in a few days, they'll be no lasting effects. They might wonder why they were so accepting, but they won't challenge it."
"You're talking about messing with their heads?" Derek demanded, stepping forward.
"You're talking about magic." Reid interjected quietly, which halted Morgan's advance. "Aren't you."
"Yes? Oh. Just magic-"
He stepped back, and rolled his shoulders in an attempt to let it go. "Sorry." He said tersely.
"How long will it take?"
She smiled again, but it was another sad smile, loneliness at the corner of her lips, and he realised the brief, often intimidating conversations they'd been having had been... fun for her.
"You'll be on the plane tomorrow." She promised, and looked at Morgan like she was gong to apologise again, but turned without saying anything, and headed back the way she had come.
"Be right back." Reid promised, and hurried after her, before Derek could offer an opinion. Despite his longer legs, it took a bit of effort to catch her.
She turned, and he wasn't sure what it was he was going to say. The intent was there, but the words, were beyond his reach.
She studied his face, and then smiled. And this time it was the bright unfettered smile of the girl he'd played cards with. He held out his card, and she accepted it, closing her fist carefully around the paper, and then continued on her way, smile still bright on her face.
Reid paused at the threshold of the Hyperion, took a deep breath, and stepped in, then almost stepped back out. Unlike the calm, laid back atmosphere of previous time he'd been there, the place was full, everyone suddenly rushing and fighting. It looked like a bad mesh of a high school cheerleading tryout and the police bullpen... right down to the white board pushed off the one side.
Reid flattened himself against one of the walls, and walked closer to a tall plant, feeling stupid and obvious, but in the general chaos, no one gave him a second glance.
There was a hush in the chatter, and he followed the gazes of the entire room to the stairs where all the familiar faces from the cult file; Buffy, Xander, Willow, Dawn, Robin, Faith and Giles, were descending. Buffy stopped, the others fanning around her, and looked out at the room.
She nodded at them, and the tension in the room went down a notch. "Faith, Robin. Get the girls suited up. Xander, you’re on com control. Will, you'll be monitoring from here. New girls stay behind. Sunnydale-rs - organize your teams. This isn't a big one folks. We just have a lot of ground to cover. Stay calm, stay in touch, and we'll be back here, talking big and drinking liquid sugar in enough time that all the school going folk can be there for first class."
There was a mild groan from a scattering of the people listening carefully.
Buffy smiled. "And no breaking a leg to avoid it."
Everyone laughed, and one girl blushed bright pink as the people around her nudged her lightly.
Xander stepped up beside her and waved his hands. "Go on then, Kiddies, Get."
"And bring back souvenirs." Dawn chimed.
"But only the good kind." Willow said, and was the first to move away, down the stairs at a determined paced, with everyone following behind her, Buffy as the last.
Reid shifted along the wall, keeping a half eye on the groups forming, the order emerging from her basic instructions, and stopped when he reached the boards. He reached, and stopped himself from looking with his fingers as he studied the photo, one that he recognised, that was attached to the bottom of the board. A small design, raised in blistered flesh. The same angle, same lighting as the police station.
A girl bumped into him as she shrugged on a jacket and barely looked as he apologised, and he watched her progress through the room, grabbing a flashlight, and bumping fists with another girl, as they looked expectantly towards a third, who appeared to him no different, and yet was somehow in charge.
He slid back towards the door, not wanting to be seen, not wanting to interfere, having a very good idea what was happening here. The last traces of worry over the choice he'd made, uncoiled, and let go, and he looked around the room, realising that they had done the right thing, in more ways that he had even yet realised.
Buffy said something, he couldn't quite hear, and he watched as the room turned, to where she now stood alone, sliding a slim blade into a sheath at her hip, face alight with purpose, and he stepped back through the door, pressing himself into the shadows of the courtyard as the girls began pouring out, chattering, laughing, bouncing, as they headed out into the night to stop whatever it was the police were incapable, and half unwilling, to.
He stayed silent, and watched Buffy come out the end of the parade, and sail past, hair streaming, skin glowing, until she reached the gate, and then she turned to shut it, met his eyes, and smiled, before disappearing.
Reid looked out the window, watching L.A. disappear into the clouds beneath him, and nearly drowning in the sense of relief at the fact that the team was leaving. Together. The others were talking quietly, shuffling through the new case possibilities, and it hadn't occurred to anyone yet how odd their retreat was and he was oddly comfortable with that.
He felt someone settle into the seat beside him, but they didn't speak, so he didn't look up.
He was appreciating the future, laid out brighter than it had been two days before. Grisly cases, all the people he couldn't stand to lose, and thousands of miles below, a girl leading a hundred girls against a serial killer.
The clouds thinned enough that he could see the faint twinkling lights of the city below, innocuous. He sighed again, quietly, as the clouds covered it up, and wondered, vaguely, briefly, it Buffy would ever call.
And what it would mean if she did.
And then pushed the thought from his mind, turned and smiled slightly at Prentiss, who was seated beside him, and took the stack of glossies she offered, flipping through them, and trying to find the mind underneath the knife work.
Did I completely ruin the beginning by adding the end? *bites nail stubs*