Disclaimer: Not mine

Basics: Takes place somewhere in season four (good call, Sabakuno Temari, and thanks). Somewhere in there. The story assumes you are already familiar with the show and characters. No beta (feel free to point out typos. I don't mind). And, sorry for the weird section breaks. For the style of this, I needed something less obtrusive than a line, and this site doesn't give you a ton to work with.

Trompe L'oeil

Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein


In Breckenridge, Colorado, Reid sees Gideon for the first time since Gideon left the BAU. Gideon doesn't see Reid.


"I want to find this one before the local media does," Hotch says when they arrive, sun shining on the severe darkness of his hair as he looks down towards the river walk. "This is the first time we've been ahead of him and I want to keep it that way."

It's a resort town, generally attracting skiers and snowboarders, but it's summer, and the current population is a mixture of mountain bikers and trail hikers, with a few kayakers thrown into the mix. The team is not expecting to apprehend anyone here and they are not wearing their FBI flack jackets. They are not trying to stand out. They are not trying to be subtle either.

The locals are curious but impassive as the team works their way through, walking in and out of bookstores and coffee shops, checking for fliers left by a killer.

If they do find it, it will be the seventh. The seventh sheet of legal-sized, cream-colored, cotton-fiber paper with a graphic sepia-toned drawing of a woman at rest. The drawing will bear near photographic resemblance to the most recent body, and the words "Where will I be next?" will be printed across the top of it. The question has headlined newspapers in towns across four different states, along with stories about the victims—raped, drugged, and left for dead.

The flier shouldn't be hard to find. The geographic profile has led them here. Reid is eighty-six percent sure of its accuracy. There should be no surprises.


They split up to cover ground more quickly and Reid is focused, multitasking in his head as he searches. Recalculating the probabilities of where the next victim will disappear from and going back over their initial profile.

He is walking out of his second coffee shop when he sees him. And there's no mistaking it. It's Gideon. Across the street and down a block, but still Gideon. He is wearing jeans and one of those pullover sweatshirts with the half zipper in front, keys dangling in his hand as he rounds a vehicle with an easy stride.

He doesn't see Reid.

It's a startling, surreal feeling. Reid thought he'd forgiven Gideon. He thought he'd understood what Gideon had done, and why he'd done it, and been at peace with it. But seeing him now turns Reid instantly rigid and it's like walking into his father's workplace all over again. He opens his mouth and no words come out. A tingling sensation has started in his lips. A cold feeling is leaching inward, from his skin to his core, and none of his limbs are responding. The coffee cup he's carrying slips from his fingers and strikes the sidewalk as though in slow motion.

Then he blinks and Gideon is gone.


"Come on, kid, come on. Look at me. Look at me."

Reid looks and sees frowned eyebrows and worried eyes. Morgan's face is astonishingly close. "Morgan," he says stupidly. He doesn't think Morgan was with him a second ago, but he suddenly can't remember. Did Morgan see Gideon? He must have, if he was standing here, he must have.

"Reid?" says Morgan, breathing out, a heavily relieved sound. "Kid," he says deeply. "You were starting to scare the hell out of me."

Confusion creeps into the edge of Reid's mind. Morgan's hands are gripping his shoulders, too tightly, fingers digging darkly into his shirt and skin, like at any moment they will break through the surface and get tangled in sinew. There is panic in Morgan's grip and he is not letting go. "Morgan," Reid says again. Blood is pushing sluggishly through his neck, like too much is trying to get into his head at once.

"You with me now?"

Trying to swallow, Reid nods.

"Okay," Morgan responds, lessening the pressure. "Okay, good. How about we sit down? Hotch is on his way." He prods gently and Reid moves. There is a low-slung, ornate bench down a few feet from them, set facing the street. It's warm from the sun.

"Hotch?" Reid asks, curling his fingers inward as he sits. He feels weird, kind of numb.

Morgan stays standing. "Hotch," he confirms. He keeps one hand on Reid's shoulder while the other pulls his phone and presses something on the keypad. "We're going to get you to a hospital."

That sends Reid's nerves into action, loosening his brain and blood flow with a jolt. "What?"

Morgan looks at him but doesn't answer, speaking instead into his phone. "Hotch, it's Morgan. He's responding."

Hotch's voice hums back, low and indecipherable, before Morgan hangs up.

Reid is struggling to process information and get his words to work all at once. He touches one hand to the air between himself and his teammate and tries to explain. "Gideon," he stammers, "I just didn't expect to see him."

Morgan pauses his movements, a quizzical expression on his face. He pockets his phone watchfully and moves down to Reid's eye level. "Gideon?" he asks and Reid feels a draw from the hold on his sweater vest.

"Yeah. Gideon. I saw him, and it just… it just startled me. I don't need a hospital."

"Reid," Morgan says cautiously. He looks over his shoulder briefly then slides his hand down to Reid's bicep. "There's no Gideon."

"No," says Reid. "He was across the street. I… I saw him, and it startled me."

Slowly, Morgan moves his head back and forth. "You were unresponsive for almost five minutes. And that's after I came up to you. I have no idea how long you'd been standing there before I showed up. I was practically shouting your name at you and it didn't even register. That's not being startled, Reid. That's something else. Hotch will be here in a minute. We're just going to take you in and get you checked out. That's all."

An absence seizure. Petit mal. Reid recognizes what Morgan is describing, but it has to be a mistake. Five minutes? "No," he says. He's got a hand on Morgan's wrist. "I was just… I'm fine." But the serious doubt in Morgan's eyes puts a tornado of fear into his chest. His breaths are coming quicker and he tries purposefully to slow them down. "I'm fine."

The SUV with Hotch pulls up to the curb.

"It's okay," says Morgan, voice gentle. "Come on." With a careful tug, he pulls Reid to his feet. Hotch is exiting the vehicle and walking towards them with a faux-calm expression.

"Hotch, I'm fine," Reid starts to say, but the words come out a little slurred and suddenly, for no reason he can pinpoint, he remembers his coffee. He digs his feet into the ground and looks down the sidewalk to where his cup is lying toppled on its side. "Morgan," he says forcefully. His mouth is tingling. His fingers feel numb. A phantom sensation of pressure sits heavy on his breastbone.

"Reid?" says Hotch.

"My coffee," he explains and sees the world begin to sway. A buzzing sound fills his ears and the sensation of a television gone fuzzy hits the back of his skull.

"Morgan, catch him," he hears next. And though his teammates' faces are nearly right in front of him, they already sound like they are miles away.