Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Creatures of the Night (Part 1)
Pairing: Morgan/Prentiss; JJ/Hotch
Summary: Tensions are running high when a vampire joins the BAU, but all differences must be put aside as the team investigate a series of suspicious werewolf murders. AU.
Author's Notes: Betaed by Windy City Dreamer. Some guest beta work from Yellow Smurf. Longer A/N at the end.
They get back to FBI headquarters, weary though it's not even noon yet. The paperwork will take them most of the rest of the day, but afterwards, they've been ordered not to come into the office for a minimum of five days. It's an order that's been signed off on by the Deputy Director, who had apparently ordered an inquiry into their investigation. Vu Ganash had intercepted them on their way back to the BAU offices, assuring Hotch that the enquiry is simply a formality, and is no way a reflection of their actions. It's unsurprising, considering the potential repercussions of their investigation.
It's for that reason that they see Hotch leaving his office half an hour later, briefly informing them of his meeting on the twenty-fifth floor. He has a handful of files in one hand, and a sheet of paper in their other – Reid's request for leave, he tells them, which he'll be dropping off at HR on his way back, already marked with his signature of approval.
The request for leave had simply been a formality, Emily gathers, because Reid has already cleared his things and left. She's not sure when he'll be back, and she's pretty sure no-one else does either. Coming to terms with your true identity isn't the easiest process. Emily's pretty sure she still hasn't come to terms with hers, and she's been working at it for several centuries.
Morgan's the only other one in the bullpen; both JJ and Rossi are in their respective offices, as exhausted as everyone else.
'Hey.' He swivels on his chair to face her. 'Did you want to grab dinner tonight?' She gives a wan smile at the question. Not two days ago, he had been reluctant to even be in the same room with her. Now he's asking if she wants to grab dinner. His trust is hard to get, but it once you've got it…She feels her lower abdomen twinge, a reminder of the knife in the gut she'd taken to earn his trust.
'As long as we can eat in,' she tells him. 'And as long as we can do it at my place.' Before he has a chance to ask, she elaborates briefly. 'I really need to wear my own clothes.' She looks down somewhat disdainfully at the ill-fitting jeans he had lent her.
'There's nothing wrong with my clothes,' he says, feigning offence.
'The problem is, they're designed to fit your ass, not mine,' she retorts.
He tilts his head slightly. 'I'd need to take a closer look in order to make a judgment call.'
'No sexual harassment during work hours,' she warns him, only half-joking. He really is a good guy, once you get past the barriers he's put up, but she can't have herself distracted while she's working. A lifetime of experience has taught her how to be detached, but she doesn't want to be that person anymore, which is why she hasn't rejected him altogether.
He seems to notice the serious tone the conversation has taken, and responds accordingly. 'I know there's a lot that you've been through that I'll never know, and I can't promise I'll always understand. But I'm going to try.'
She nods, not quite able to think of the words to say how much his acceptance means to her. 'Thank-you,' she settles on, her voice soft. 'And likewise.'
The rest of the paperwork seems like a cakewalk in comparison.
She catches him as he's getting off the elevator from the twenty-fifth floor. Even without the wave of emotion that's pulsating off of him, she would have been able to know that he's not particularly happy simply by looking into his eyes. The rest of his face is as still as ever.
'Hey.' She greets him with a warm smile that's reciprocated, if a little unenthusiastically.
'How did it go upstairs?'
He sighs, which tells her all that she needs to know.
'We've pissed off a lot of people in the search for justice,' he says flatly. 'Most of whom don't seem to care that Randall organized fourteen deaths in order to benefit Cutner.'
'But he's being prosecuted, right?' JJ asks, almost fearful to listen to the answer that his mind keeps drumming out.
'He is,' Hotch confirms. 'But there's going to be backlash; this, combined with the papers trying to slam Owens. It's going to be a very busy few weeks, I think. I'll be surprised if we actually get to take the five days off they've ordered us to take.'
'Well in that case,' JJ says, with the tiniest of sighs. 'In that case, I might go home and get as much sleep as I can before we're called in.' Part of her wants to ask if he's willing to join her, but they're both tired, and she figures that if they went home together then sleep would probably be the last thing on the agenda. Still, it's a possibility, considering she's 99% sure that Garcia's getting a ride home with her new fairy friend tonight.
'Would you like to go out sometime?' he blurts out, and it seems almost strange to see him so flustered. Her thoughts had been so focused elsewhere, she hadn't even noticed the question at the edges of his mind.
'Yes,' she says, and the resulting smile on his face is almost enough to counterbalance the seriousness of the last two days.
Almost, but not quite.
He gets up, feeling the exhaustion of the case wash over him. He's been home for two hours, and yet the betrayal hasn't quite sunk in yet.
The team had lied to him. His friends – his family – had lied to him. He feels a mix of emotions – anger, sadness, shock – and yet logically, he knows that there is no possible way that he could be feeling those emotions.
He knows the data. He has an eidetic memory (a hard drive?). Artificial intelligence is nowhere near this level, and yet at the same time, he knows that it's true. He concentrates, and he can feel that there really isn't a heart-beat there. He tries to think of the last time he had bled, and he honestly can't remember. Who's to say he isn't a robot?
He goes to the kitchen, pulling a carving knife from his cutlery drawer. He remembers carving a roast chicken for his mother. He had been thirteen years old, and so proud that he had managed to cook the difficult dish without burning the house down. His mother had been bed-ridden at the time, with delusions so severe, that he'd had to call the doctor twice to sedate her. She'd spat the chicken out, declaring it poison.
Is it even a real memory? Is it just a fake one, implanted to make him seem more human? He almost wants to vomit at that thought, but isn't sure if he's actually capable of vomiting. It's one thing to make a robot think he's human, but quite another to implant him with such a horrific past.
He takes the knife, and makes a deep cut down his left forearm. He closes his eyes against the pain, and wonders what the point is, of having pain receptors. If they can be removed, why not remove them?
He opens his eyes, immediately seeing the glint of silver beneath his skin. He makes a pair of perpendicular cuts at either end of the vertical one and peels the skin backwards, revealing a streamlined collection of wires and other electronics. He clenches his fist, watching as the machinery moves like clockwork. His mouth opens in wonder, his curiosity at how the arm works overridden by the horror of the situation.
He's a robot.
He isn't human.
The knife clatters to the floor, and he feels himself shaking. In his distracted state, he doesn't notice the footsteps making their way across the room. He doesn't notice the intruders until they're standing right in front of him.
'Dr. Reid,' a voice says, its owner shrouded in darkness. 'We need you to come with us, please.'
He wants to fight back, but he can't, his body (is it really his body?) rebelling against him. He doesn't even manage to get a single hit in before he's knocked unconscious.
Author's Notes II: Well that's it. The end of the longest piece I've ever done. In the grand scheme of things it isn't really that long, but whatever. I don't care. The sequel will go up once I have a few other stories under control (I know, that's what I always say). It will be Reid-centric, and the tentative title is The Clockwork Boy. If there are any requests for things to happen, I will do my best to include them if they make sense. That said, any character from the series that you haven't seen yet already has plans.
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed, alerted, favourited, or otherwise enjoyed this story. It was a blast to write, and I know for a fact that it wouldn't have been such a successful venture without the support base. This goes double for the people that took the time to read, even though it's not their chosen pairing, or if they were skeptical about the AU side of things. An extra special thanks to Windy City Dreamer and Yellow Smurf, both of whom have been very encouraging and critical when they need to be.
Those of you looking for regular fiction of the same genre, check out the books of Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews and Carrie Vaughn, all of whom have written some very good supernatural crime stuff that shies away from the romance aspect of things a little.
The Clockwork Boy aside, if you review, let me know which other stories you'd like to see updates to, so I know where to focus my time. It's a case of the most votes, so to speak, gets the most attention.
Thanks for reading the story, and this epic author's note, and I totally understand if you zoned out near the end.
Hope you enjoyed the ride.
tfm (aka amichevole).