"One month. No exceptions."
"But, Gideon, I-"
"Reid, one month. You've needed a break for a long time, and I know that you won't ask for a vacation on your own. Think of this as a reward for making the right decision."
Jason Gideon sat behind his desk, leaning back in his chair. Across the desk from him, his youngest and possibly most loyal apprentice at the BAU stared at him incredulously.
"Which right decision would you be referring to?" Reid asked as he reached for his bag in the other chair, realizing that Gideon wasn't asking, nor was he taking no for an answer. Gideon simply looked at him knowingly.
"You'll never miss another plane again."
Realization dawned, and Reid stood, feeling slightly self-conscious. "Gideon... there was only ever one decision."
Gideon nodded. "One month."
Reid sighed, then nodded, before taking his bag from the chair and walking out of the office, closing the door softly behind himself. He looked out over the BAU office, a little sadly. He realized that Gideon was right. He did need a break. He needed to rest his mind, and his body, but it was in the nature of all of his team to never want to miss a thing. There was never a dull moment in Quantico, and he had always dodged his vacation time for as long as he could before the year was nearly up.
This time, however, he had no choice.
"Reid, man, you alright?" Morgan asked when Reid made it to his desk and set down his bag. Reid nodded.
"Vacation," he explained simply, and Morgan grinned.
"'Bout damn time, kid. You stay here any longer, they're going to have to pry you out of that chair with a chisel," he said, then leaned against the edge of Reid's desk. "You should be happy, Reid. You've earned a break."
"It's not a matter of earned, so much as force," Reid said, glancing back up at the door to Gideon's office. Morgan pushed off the desk and placed a hand on Reid's shoulder, patting it.
"Just try and enjoy it. I promise, we'll keep you updated."
"Keep that promise," Reid called after him, then sat down at his chair to start collecting his things from his desk.
"Miss Archer, where do you plan to go from here?"
Lila sighed, brushing her hair back from her face.
She was exhausted. This had been the longest week of her career. She's done nothing but press conference after press conference, photo shoot after photo shoot since she'd gotten back on the job. She'd taken a few months off after the whole stalking incident, but she was past it. Since she'd been back, she'd been cast in two movies, in supporting roles, and both were coming out the next week. The films were getting mixed reviews, but both had acknowledged her performances as surprising and exceptional, a great leap forward from Emotional Cages.
She'd been intensely busy with promoting her films for the past month, doing appearances, and all of that was finally winding down. She was thankful. She needed a few weeks to herself.
"I'm still exploring my options," she replied to the E! Entertainment Television reporter in the front row, tossing him a winning smile. She glanced to the edge of the stage, signaling the stage tech with her expression, and the woman in the headset sprang to action, crossing the stage.
"Well, folks, we're about out of time. Miss Archer will be able to take one more question."
Dozens of hands shot up, and the woman, pointed to one of them. "Yes, you, in the blue sweater."
Lila tried to peer around the woman to catch of glimpse of the person to whom she referred, but she couldn't make out the face, as the man was way in the back of the crowd. When he spoke, she recognized the voice immediately.
"Do you have a dog, yet?"
Lila sat straight up in her chair as the woman moved off the stage. The hands had gone down in the audience, and she could now make out the face. She smiled genuinely for the first time all day.
"I... what are you doing here, Spencer?" Lila asked as she picked up her fork and beginning poking at her salad. The two had gone to lunch at a small cafe near her home, and they were seated on the patio. Reid stared at her intently.
"Agent Gideon informed me that I was taking a vacation yesterday afternoon. I didn't want to go to Nevada quite yet, and I don't really have any friends. And... well, when... you know... well, I thought maybe you'd like to go out to dinner or something, maybe?" Reid's fingers drummed the arm of his chair nervously, and Lila raised her eyebrows, smirking slightly.
"You flew across the country to ask me to dinner, Spencer?" she asked. He jawed a moment, feeling stupid, and she grinned. "I'm teasing you."
He sighed, relaxing a bit in his seat. "I didn't really know where else to go."
She nodded, then set down her fork. "How long is your vacation?"
"And how long do you plan on staying?"
"Oh," he said, realizing suddenly that he had no idea. "I... um... I'm not really sure, actually."
"Where are you staying?" she asked, and once again he came up with nothing.
"I just got off the plane an hour ago."
"How'd you know where I was?" she asked, and she saw a little tinge of color appear in his cheeks.
"I saw the press conference on the television at the airport."
"So you don't have anywhere to stay for the unspecified amount of time you'll be here?" He nodded, frowning slightly. "Well then. I guess you'll just have to stay with me."
"Lila, you don't have to... I'd be imposing. You're busy," he said, shaking his head as he laid his hands on the table. "I couldn't-"
His voice faltered when she laid one of her hands on top of his, squeezing it slightly. "I'm offering. And besides, I was looking for a date to the premiere this weekend."
Reid's eyebrow's shot up his forehead. "The what?"
"Eat your salad, Spencer. You look hungry."
"So, why is Agent Gideon making you take a vacation," Lila asked when they were on the road headed back to her house. Traffic was slow, and they were currently stalled at a red light. She glanced over at him to see him wringing his hands rather anxiously.
"I... uh... I've been... he just thought I needed it," Reid explained, too quickly. What is wrong with me? he thought. I can usually lie better than this.
"Why's that?" Lila asked, still watching him. He looked up from his hands. "Been working too hard?"
He paused, apprehensive, then frowned and looked out the window, knowing he would be better off just telling her.
"A month ago, we were working on a case at the BAU... a man was killing people for being sinners, as he put it. Hotch sent JJ and I to investigate someone who'd made a 911 call about seeing a prowler at the first victim's house. He was really unwilling to help, and he denied ever having made the call. Well, I put two and two together, and ran around to the back of the house, realizing that this man... Tobias Henkle, was the unsub... the killer."
"I remember what an unsub is," Lila said, smiling slightly. He looked back to her and her smile faltered.
"Well, he saw me peering in his back window, and ran out of his house, so JJ and I followed him into his barn. Then we split up, thinking we might be able to find him. I saw him running out into a field behind his house, a corn field, so I ran after him, but I couldn't find him, because the stalks were so high. Then I heard JJ scream. I started running, but I had no idea where I'd run to, and I yelled for her. Then he hit me, and I fell, and I dropped my gun. He grabbed it and pointed it at me. He looked so scared. It was strange. He started whimpering about how he had tried to warn everyone. Then his expression changed, and his voice dropped, and he said "Shoot him." Then he started whimpering again, about how he didn't want to, that I hadn't done anything. The man had a split personality, and they were arguing over killing me. It was... surreal."
He turned slightly in his seat and looked out the windshield, realizing they were almost to her house. He didn't even remember half of the drive. He fell silent for a long moment and Lila glanced to him for looking back at the road.
"Spencer, if you don't want to talk about it..."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I'm just not sure you'll want to hear it."
She dropped her right hand from the steering wheel and reached across the truck cab to take his hand in hers and squeeze it. "I'll listen to whatever you want to tell me."
He looked down at their hands, then laced his fingers through hers and nodded. "We're almost to your house. I'll finish when we get there."
"So, if Hotch hadn't understood, I'd be dead right now," Reid finished, and sat back in his seat on the couch, raising his hands to his face and rubbing his eyes. Lila was staring at him with wide eyes, glassy eyes. She didn't really know how to respond. He had just told her every detail of his kidnapping, with no emotion, like he were telling her about a crime that happened years ago he'd read about in a college text book. She reached out and took his arm in her hands, pulling his hand from his face. She stretched in out in front of her, pushing up the sleeve of his Oxford, then leaned close to him. She trailed her fingers lightly over the very faint track marks still present on his forearm. He watched her silently.
"When did you stop using?" she asked suddenly, and Reid, surprised, pulled his arm away from her.
"I told you, he gave me the-"
"Those would be more faint. How long has it been?" she asked. He stared at her, suddenly feeling very ashamed, and he leaned his head back on the couch.
"I only took it once after they found me. Three weeks ago. I threw everything out when we were flying back from Austin. I flushed it all. The vials, the syringe. Everything."
His voice suddenly caught in his throat. "I don't even know why I took them from the crime scene. I just couldn't stop myself. I wish I would have..."
After saying this, he squeezed his eyes shut tightly, pulling his knees up to his chest and burying his head in his hands, his long, shaking fingers pushing his hair back from his face. Lila stared at him a moment, then go onto her knees straightened up to his height, wrapping her arms around him. In seconds, he was crying openly, and she set her chin on the top of his head, running a soothing hand down his back.
"Spencer, you didn't do anything wrong," she said, her voice barely above a whisper, as she herself was getting choked up at his sudden display. "You've gotten past it. You're going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay."
She hoped, for his sake, that she was right.