Title: The Clockwork Boy
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Creatures of the Night (Part 2)
Pairing: Reid/Austin, Morgan/Prentiss; JJ/Hotch
Summary: The BAU is divided by two cases that tests their loyalties. Some things are found. Some things are lost. Some things were never really meant to be.
Author's Note: At the end
He walks away from Gideon without looking back.
There's blood on his hands – both metaphorical blood, and literal blood. Austin's dead. He's not sure what to think about that. He hadn't known her very long, but she had been the first person to accept him for what he is.
The team…that's a can of worms that he still hasn't processed yet. They know – they've always known – but they've always been there for him too. They'd flown across the country to find him. JJ had taken a bullet to save his life. Forgiveness might take a while, but with family, you make the effort.
He doesn't even bother speaking to the receptionist as he walks into the ARE building once more. A stranger might see his movements as single-minded, but really he's jut in a daze.
Upstairs, he finds Emily, though she seems somewhat surprised to see him. 'Hey.'
'Hey,' he replies. He stops beside her, staring down at the bloodstains. It's like some macabre rite of passage. No longer is he a wooden puppet, no longer a clockwork boy. No longer is he the junior agent that they look to for words, rather than actions.
'I'm going to head over to the hospital – did you want a ride?'
'That would be good.'
The drive is a silent one. There isn't much to be said.
'Did you know?' he asks eventually. 'Did they tell you?'
'They didn't have to,' she replies, and he's kind of grateful for her frankness. 'If it helps…if I hadn't been able to sense it, I wouldn't have figured it out.'
'I know.' She pauses. 'For a long time, I cast myself out – I knew what I was, and I hated it. Probably more than they hated me. It took a while to figure out that the best way to deal with it was to just accept it, and move on. The situation is completely different, but…'
He nods. 'Thank-you.'
They find Morgan pacing in the waiting room, and Emily blatantly excuses herself to go find coffee. At first, Reid finds himself not quite able to meet Morgan's gaze.
'How is she?' he asks, eyes barely meeting Morgan's.
'Still in surgery, but…the doctors are hopeful.'
Reid nods. There's silence for a few more moments before Morgan says, 'I'm sorry, Reid,' in a somber voice. Morgan usually calls him "kid" or "pretty boy" so proper nouns are something of a step forward.
'Don't apologize,' he replies, his voice sharp. Morgan looks a little stunned. 'Don't try to make up for what you did. I'll come to terms with it in my own time.'
Morgan nods. 'Okay.'
Emily returns with three coffees, and news. 'I called Rossi – he says they found Elle.'
Morgan breathes a sigh of relief, and Reid's a little surprised to hear himself doing the same.
'Apparently she blasted the crap out of the sorcerers that Anath's Circle sent to meet them. She and Hotch are in hospital, but they'll be okay.'
There's a shaky laugh from Morgan. 'Sometimes I think we should start bringing mattresses,' he says. 'The amount of time we spend in hospitals.'
All in all, the day could have gone a lot worse.
It's late afternoon when they finally make it back to the hotel. Garcia is spending the night at the hospital with JJ, and Reid had told them that he'd be going "out," though Morgan heavily suspects that he'll be spending the night at the Capgras Institution with Diana.
He hasn't said anything about the death of his father, or the death of Austin St. Clair, or really, anything at all regarding the events of the past few days.
'You want to go out for dinner, or just get room service?' he asks Emily, who looks a little withdrawn.
'Um…room service, I guess.' She stretches. 'I'm gonna go take a shower.' She smells of sweat and blood; the bullet wound is no doubt already healing, but it's taking its toll. Once she's finished, she steps out in sweatpants and a tank top; her hair is wet, and the scent of hotel body wash has all but replaced the other smells.
'Pancakes?' he asks, going over the room service menu. 'It's dinner-time, sure, but I doubt they're out of flour. Probably have peanut butter, too.'
Emily gives a tired laugh. 'I think I'm more in the mood for half a dozen steaks. Rare, rather than set alight.'
'Well, hopefully the four-star restaurant chefs know how to work the stove.' He winks, hyperaware of the metaphorical crickets chirping. 'Is everything okay?'
'It's been a long day.'
'Been a long week,' he counters. It kind of drives home the fact that he doesn't really know anything about her. Doesn't even know if he can trust her. He wants to trust her, and he's pretty sure that's not just his pants talking. She's beautiful, intelligent, intriguing.
She's also a vampire, which, up until a few days ago, he would have considered a deal-breaker.
He doesn't have a full moon hangover, and the exhaustion that's bone deep is mostly from the build-up of events, rather than any excessive physical activity. Thus, they only manage two steaks between them, though Emily does eat enough dessert for half a dozen people.
'It gets the taste of blood out of my mouth,' she tells him with a shrug, which he can't really argue with. There's something awkward still hanging in the air, and he doesn't quite know what.
'Is this about Anath's Circle?' he persists, 'The memory loss? Amnesia's pretty common, it's okay to—'
'It's not that,' she snaps. Her pupils are huge, dark things – a look he usually associates with blood lust. She can't have fallen off the wagon? Eating a steak couldn't have done that, could it?
She shakes her head. 'I can't do this, Derek,' she says finally.
Okay, so not blood lust.
'Do what?' he frowns.
'This. Us.' She gestures between them, and in one horrific second, Morgan realizes that he's being dumped. It's unexpected, to say the least, considering he hadn't really been sure what was going on anyway.
'Oh,' is all he manages.
'I'm sorry.' Emily stands, shaking her head. 'It was probably a bad time to do this.'
He feels funny. Upset? Yes, probably, but it's too soon to tell. He's confused even further when she leans down to kiss him on the cheek.
He's too stunned to say anything.
Emily retreats to her own room with a heavy heart. She likes Morgan, as much as she can like the aggressive, vampire-hating werewolf with a heart of gold. Part of her isn't even sure why she'd done it, but then she remembers.
She's doing this to protect him.
Everyone she gets close to always seems to end up hurt; there's a difference between letting people close to you, and letting people close to you.
She curls into a ball underneath the blankets. The neon lights aren't quite blocked out by the curtains, but she falls asleep easily.
The extravagant hall is so different, yet so familiar. She's been here once before, and that hadn't ended very well at all. It had ended in blood.
This will end in blood too.
The wooden stake is smooth in her palm. There are some types of wood that will burn her, through skin and muscle and flesh, all the way to the bone. This isn't one of them.
Her mother stands in front of her, long, flowing dress, elegant hair. 'You know what you have to do, Emily,' her mother says, only it's not her mother, it's her mind. Suddenly, she's thrusting the stake, only it's her mother's hand that pulls her in the right direction. The stake pierces the skin, right at the heart. Crimson blood spreads like a flower blossom, living and dying in a matter of seconds.
'You know what you have to do,' her mother repeats, only this time there's blood trickling from her lip, and her eyes are completely black.
She has to go home.
Author's Note: Well, it's that time again. The story is over. First and foremost, I would like to thank the people that have given oodles of support over the months: yellowsmurf6, ArwenLalaith, and Windy City Dreamer. I couldn't have done it without you. Second, thank-you to the reviewers. Without your encouragement, I know it wouldn't have gotten this far. Your kind words do so much more than inspiration. Keep being awesome, all of you. Part Three to this tale will start going up once I've finished a couple more stories, just to keep the workload manageable. As always, tell me which stories you'd like to see finished, and, with regards to this one, what you liked, what you didn't like, and what you'd like to see more of.
Now I'm going to bed.