Note: this story was the result of a prompt challenge I exchanged with a writer friend after the episode "A Thousand Words." We speculated that Reid might have a tattoo somewhere on his body, and what if Emily accidentally saw it? That was as much as we gave each other. This was what I produced.
This story is NOT connected to "How to Fight Loneliness" or the stories that follow it.
This story also owes a thematic debt to a classic Harry Potter story called "Taste" by KateJ that I have always admired.
No answer. He just kept up the chest compressions, his hair hanging in his face.
Emily put her hand on his shoulder. "Reid! She's gone!"
He didn't answer. He bent and sealed his mouth over the victim's. Two breaths in, and back to chest compressions. He was covered with blood. Emily could see the breath Reid had just given the girl bubbling out through the stab wounds in her chest.
Hotch crouched on the girl's other side and seized Reid's arms, pulling them up and away from the girl's body. "Reid, stop. It's time to stop."
Reid looked up at him, wide-eyed. For a moment Emily feared he was going to pull an Ed Harris in "The Abyss" and go apeshit with the CPR, but he didn't. He just sat back on his haunches and his hands dropped to his sides. "Fuck," he muttered. Reid never swore. "Five minutes sooner. If we'd gotten here five minutes sooner."
Hotch nodded. "I know." He hesitated, looking grim. "But at least he'll never do this to anyone else."
"It isn't enough he did it to her?"
Nobody had an answer for that. Emily looked around. There was a crowd of onlookers from the honky-tonk dive next door. The parking lot was filling up with official vehicles, lights blazing and rotating, blending together into a seizure-inducing melee of colors and flashes. The EMTs were running up, but they could already see it was too late.
Emily stood up and backed away to give them room. After a moment, Reid did the same. Hotch came around and stood on his other side. "You should go wash off," Hotch said, glancing down at Reid's bloody hands.
Reid nodded absently, then walked off toward the honky-tonk.
Emily watched as the EMTs searched in vain for life signs. One of them pronounced, and they covered her with a sheet to wait for the coroner. The uniforms were putting up crime-scene tape. Morgan and Rossi were standing next to the police car where the UNSUB was locked in the back, blood on his hands to match the blood on Reid's.
She looked over at Hotch. He was wearing a zip-up sweater over a t-shirt. They'd all been in for the night at their hotel when the call had come. "Give me your t-shirt," she said.
He didn't have to ask why. He pulled off the sweater, then the t-shirt, briefly exposing his own chest and the treasure map of scars Foyet had left him before he put the sweater back on and handed her the t-shirt. Emily wordlessly walked off the way Reid had gone.
The honky-tonk was still doing brisk business, as if a young woman's life hadn't just ended not fifty yards away in the vacant lot next door. A few people were outside looking, but most were still bellied up to the bar, shooting pool or dancing joylessly with the pickup of the night. Smoke hung in the air and the dinginess was all-pervasive. Reid had to be in here somewhere, probably in the bathroom. Somehow, the thought of buttoned-down neat-freak Reid even breathing the air in this place was offensive. It made her want to throw a blanket over his head and bustle him out the door before he was tainted.
She went up to the bartender. "Did you see a tall, skinny guy covered in blood come in here?" she asked, feeling ridiculous for asking the question.
He nodded. "Yeah, he went in the head. Over there," he said, with a jerk of his thumb.
Emily braced herself for the inevitable horror that was this dive's men's room. She knocked on the door. "Reid? It's Emily."
Pause. "It's open."
She opened the door, came in and locked it behind her. The men's room was surprisingly neat and clean, but that wasn't what caught her attention first.
Reid was standing at the sink, his hands braced on it, his head hanging down. His bloody shirt was lying in a puddle on the floor and his hands and arms were wet. Streaks of blood dappled the porcelain sink.
He was barechested. His back was like a desert of smooth, pale skin, and the way he was leaning on the sink made the musculature stand out in sharp relief on his slender torso. He looked over his shoulder at her, then straightened up.
"Here," she said, holding out the t-shirt. "I didn't think you'd want to put that back on." She glanced at his shirt on the floor.
"Thanks," he said, taking the shirt. He turned toward her and Emily felt herself go very still.
Reid had a tattoo on his chest.
It was over his heart, on his left pectoral. Two lines of small, architectural writing, like the typeface on a set of blueprints. She couldn't take her eyes off it. He just stood there holding Hotch's t-shirt, making no move to put it on.
She glanced up at his eyes. They were red and wet. He'd splashed water on his face and his hair was hanging in damp tendrils across his cheekbones. His expression was free of the guarded artifice that usually marked it. He looked raw and exposed and it went straight to Emily's guts. She'd often wondered what the real Reid, the secret Reid, looked like. She wondered if he looked like this. He met her eyes, like he didn't have the mental fortitude at the moment to defend himself.
She looked back at the tattoo. Her lips moved over the words as she whispered them. "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate." She looked up and met his eyes again. "'Plurality should not be posited without necessity.' Occam's Razor?"
He nodded, looking a little stunned that she recognized the phrase. He'd probably had to explain it to anyone else who'd ever seen it. "I make things too complicated sometimes," he murmured.
Emily took a step closer, her eyes back on the tattoo. His chest was utterly smooth, and surprisingly well-toned. The black lettering stood out in sharp contrast to his white skin.
She couldn't help herself.
She watched her own hand lift up; her fingertips ran over the letters. She felt his flesh quiver a little when she touched it. Standing this close to him, she was suddenly aware of howtall he was. She didn't think of Reid as being that tall, but he towered over her. He was taller than Hotch or Morgan. Was it just because he didn't act tall? Whatever that meant. There was just so much skin, it was everywhere she looked.
His head was sagging down and he was trembling. There were a few stray blood drops on his neck that he'd missed when he washed himself off. Emily reached over and turned on the faucet, wetting her fingers. She wiped the blood off his neck, telling herself it wasn't just an excuse to touch him. His hands had wandered to her elbows, lightly hanging on to her as if to keep his balance. She could smell him, the clean male scent of fresh sweat and the pine trees outside - and blood, its metallic tang unmistakable.
The thump of the bluesy music from the honky-tonk was in her chest. Her hands settled on him, one on his bicep, the other on that tattoo, her fingertips tracing the letters. She wanted to ask him if he was all right, but that answer would be too complicated. She wanted to ask him why he isolated himself when he felt vulnerable, but she already knew what he'd say. So she just asked the question she didn't know the answer to. "When did you get this?" she said, quietly, keeping her eyes lowered. If she looked at him, they'd have to acknowledge that they were now standing inappropriately close, nearly embracing.
He looked down at his own chest. "When I'd been clean for a year." He said it so simply, so matter-of-factly, as if he hadn't just uttered the first verbal acknowledgment of his addiction, which they'd all been aware of but had never discussed.
A lump was rising in her throat; she was suddenly overwhelmed by thoughts of all that this man had been through. What had he done to deserve it? The torments of his youth that he'd earned by being extraordinary, the constant stress of a mentally ill parent that he'd earned through sheer chance of birth, the abandonment of a father that he hadn't earned at all. He'd been tortured and beaten and drugged and saddled with an addiction he would never had acquired otherwise, an addiction he had beaten all on his own, and why? How was it fair? She couldn't think of anyone who deserved such karma less than he did. Was it possible for him to ever be healed?
"Hey," he whispered. A tear had escaped her eye and trickled down her cheek. He reached up and brushed it away. "Not for me. Never for me, okay?"
She sniffed and nodded. "I can't help it."
He stepped back and put the t-shirt on. She couldn't stop herself from watching the play of the muscles in his chest and abdomen as he stretched his arms up to pull it over his head. Her gaze was drawn inexorably south to where the ridges of muscle curved over his hips and the dark line of hair on his belly disappeared into his waistband, until the shirt dropped over him and hid everything. He took a deep breath and his hands went into his pockets, and suddenly...he was back. Normal Reid was back, the comfortable Reid she understood, the one she knew how she felt about. It snapped her back to herself and the spell was broken.
He raked a hand through his hair, bent and picked up his shirt and tossed it in the trash. "Rough night," he said.
Emily nodded, crossing her arms over her chest. "Not as rough as some."
"Whose shirt am I wearing?" It was amusingly large on him.
"Ah." He sighed. "Well, we'd better head back out before Morgan thinks I've decided to drown myself in the toilet and breaks down the door." He smirked.
Emily shuddered. "Drowning yourself in that toilet would be a fate worse than death."
Reid walked by her and unlocked the door, then hesitated and turned back. His eyes had gone hooded again. "Oh, and Emily?"
He glanced down at his own chest, where she now knew that he was inked, then met her eyes with a slight curl of a smile at the corners of his mouth. "I have two."
She'd had a date scheduled for tonight. It had been arranged a week ago, before the Tattoo Incident, as it was becoming designated in her mind. A man she'd met out on a run. She'd been stretching after her run was over, he'd asked her a question about the trail, they'd chatted, he'd asked for her number and had called her the next evening. Their first available evening had been tonight. He'd seemed nice enough, a little younger than her. Roger, his name was. Regular Roger the odontologist. Regular Roger who ran half-marathons. Regular Roger who'd been suitably impressed by her job and a little excited by the fact that she carried a gun.
Regular Roger. Who would never spout statistics at her, who would never get her "Firefly" references and who probably didn't have ink anywhere on his body.
She'd called him and cancelled without examining her reasons too closely. It wasn't as if she had alternate plans, or even any hopes for alternate plans. All she knew was that there was a weighty knowledge sitting on her brain and a distracting awareness that didn't leave her room to consider a liaison with Regular Roger the Odontologist, who would probably have a nice, regular cock with which he would adequately fuck her if she gave him the chance.
"Regular" and "adequate" were suddenly loathsome to her.
Regular Roger wouldn't know the Latin form of Occam's Razor if it jumped up and bit him on the ass.
Emily? I have two.
Where was it? Where was the second one, and what was it? She couldn't stop wondering. It had been a normal week at the office. One out of town case, the other two days at the BAU sitting across from him, unable to stop picturing his naked chest with those words etched into the flesh. What haunted her even more than that was the look in his eyes, that bare vulnerable look that she knew he let very few people see, especially his co-workers. Why her? Had she just caught him at an unguarded moment? Or did he really trust her with his truth?
So no Regular Roger. Tonight, there was popcorn and four week's worth of "True Blood."
At ten o'clock the doorbell rang, and she knew why she'd cancelled on Regular Roger. She got up and put the popcorn aside, paused the DVR and knew also why she'd showered after work and shaved her legs. She didn't even look through the peephole. She just opened the door.
He was standing there in mostly the same clothes he'd worn to work that day. Tan cords and a white-button down, but his tie was gone and the shirt was unbuttoned, exposing the notch at the base of his throat. And the usual awkward stiffness was gone from his posture. He didn't look uncertain or shy.
For a long moment nobody said anything.
Emily cleared her throat. "Reid, what are you doing here?"
He paused before answering. "You tell me, Emily."
She took a deep breath, and reached for him just as he stepped over the threshold.
They didn't talk. They just fucked like the world was ending.
Afterwards, she lay tucked against his side with her head on his shoulder, running her fingers over the words on his chest. His hand massaged the back of her neck underneath her hair. She ran her hand down his flat belly to the thatch of hair between his legs, his penis lying nestled there, having done its job admirably.
Then, she saw it. Just over his hipbone, where it would be covered by all but the skimpiest underwear. A small, fine line of characters that looked handwritten.
It was an equation of some kind. She didn't recognize it immediately, but filed it away to investigate it later. She ran the tip of her index finger over it. He put his hand over hers and stilled it, then he abruptly rolled her over to her back, got between her legs and plunged his cock, suddenly hard again, deep into her. Emily gasped in surprise and pleasure, her fingers gripping his shoulders. He'd been in charge of this entire encounter from the word go and it was a surprise, not to mention an incredible turn-on.
He's claiming me, because I claimed him the moment I touched those words over his heart.
The silence was like a pact. It eroticized even the simplest gesture. It wasn't until they were dressed again that they were allowed to talk. They both knew this without ever having agreed to it.
He stood in the doorway. Emily was already hoping the marks he'd left on her neck would fade by Monday. He pulled her to him and kissed her again, a forceful kiss like he wanted to mark her even more. "When can I see you again?" she asked. It felt strange to talk to him in this setting. The silence had become necessary.
"Monday morning, nine a.m.," he said, his tone neutral. Then he was gone.
She went directly from the door to her computer and put the equation into Google, as best she could. The search engine directed her to a page about famous mathematical equations. Reid's tattoo was the first entry, to her surprise. Not E=mc2 or F=ma, but this one that she'd never seen before. As she read the description, her confusion did not lift but only intensified.
It was something called Euler's Identity. Many mathematicians were quoted talking about the equation's beauty, a quality she'd never thought to assign to an equation. It was elegant, it was simple, it was the essence of mathematics.
But what did it mean? And why did her friend (lover) have it written permanently on his body in such an intimate place?
She finally shut down the computer when the explanations began to outstrip her ability to comprehend them. She wanted to ask him about it, but knew she couldn't.
That would be against the rules.
Sure enough, Monday morning, nine a.m., she saw Reid again, at his desk when she arrived. He smiled and greeted her normally, as if he hadn't fucked her damn near senseless two nights before, so she did the same. There were no sneaky looks, no sidelong glances. It was like it never happened.
As the day went on she began to wonder if she actually had hallucinated the whole thing. She knew she had not. The marks on her neck had faded but she still had a couple in less visible places, proof of the reality of the encounter. Would it ever be repeated? She found herself hoping it would.
He looked different. Only to her, she was sure. To everyone else he looked the same. Lanky, disheveled, dressed like a hipster, old-fashioned revolver on his hip. But she knew something they didn't know. She'd seen the words written on him, she'd seen his eyes blaze as he came inside her, she'd felt his heart race against her own chest. Nothing would ever be the same, much as they might pretend it was. She knew that under his shirt he had her teeth marks on his shoulder.
Monday night she waited at home for him to show up, but he didn't. He didn't show up on Tuesday, either. Wednesday she decided she didn't have to wait for him. She drove to his apartment and knocked on his door. The second he opened it she knew he'd been waiting for her to lose patience with him and take the initiative. He was wearing jeans, a little too large and hanging low on his narrow hips, and nothing else. He grabbed her and pulled her inside.
They fucked on the floor of his living room, losing just enough clothing to make it physically possible. They caught their breath, got up and went into the bedroom to strip the rest of the way and do it again. She pinned his wrists to the bed and rode him, not letting him touch her while she brought herself off on his hard length, his teeth baring and his fists opening and closing in frustration. He made her pay for it the third time, dragging her off the bed, pushing her up against the wall and taking her from behind.
The silence wasn't just a pact now, it was a requirement. Words weren't necessary anyway. He knew what she wanted and gave it to her; she knew what he craved and delivered. Just before midnight they pulled on enough clothes not to get arrested for indecent exposure and staggered to the door, leaning on each other. Once there, they embraced like battle-scarred veterans of a bloody battle, foreheads together so they breathed each other's air.
She walked to her car like a zombie and drove home on auto-pilot, her whole body tingling, smelling him on herself. She eyed the shower when she got home, then went to bed without it. She didn't want to wash him away. She curled on her side and sobbed without understanding why.
Every day they were Reid and Prentiss, as they had always been. Teasing friends, lunchtime companions, colleagues in the horror of their jobs. They went on cases and nothing happened between them. Emily began to feel dissociated, like she was two people. The one she was most of the time, and the one she became when she was alone with him. She never knew when it was going to happen. It wasn't every night. Some nights he'd show up. Other nights she'd go to his place. It was never discussed ahead of time. One night they had each amusingly ended up at the other's place, having crossed paths en route. She'd spotted his car on her way back home. They'd pulled into a darkened parking lot behind a strip mall, gotten into her car and fucked in the back seat. Seemed the best compromise.
One Sunday night a month after that first time, Emily was home alone. She didn't really expect him. He'd been there the previous night and they never did two nights in a row. She sat on her couch with music playing and let herself wallow.
Their pact of silence meant that they didn't have the usual conversations couples had when they were first together. She wasn't entirely sure they were a couple. It was too intense for them to just be fuck buddies. Sometimes he looked at her like he would die if he couldn't, other times he seemed unable to meet her eyes. And then at work, it was like it didn't exist. Some of that was the necessity of keeping it from the team, but it had started to feel more like they were keeping it from each other.
The awareness was growing in her that she wanted more from him. She was starting to believe that she was the only one he'd ever shown himself to like this. She knew damned well she'd never let anyone see her the way he did. She was just afraid of losing what they had now. If she wanted more, would he run? It felt shallow but damn, the sex was amazing. Rough and passionate and urgent, uninhibited and free. His body seemed to speak to hers beneath the skin. Maybe that was why they didn't talk. Their bodies talked for them.
To her surprise, there was a quiet knock on her door at nine o'clock. She got up and ran to let him in, happiness bubbling up in her that he was here. When she opened the door, he looked just as wrecked as she felt. It was possible that he'd been crying a little. Usually they'd be kissing and pawing at each other before they were barely in the door, but tonight they just stood there. Emily reached out and took his hand, leading him into the apartment. He let her pull him up the stairs and into the bedroom. They lay on the bed, fully clothed, and wrapped around each other like they were trying to crawl inside. For over an hour they stayed like that, hands making tiny stroking movements against each other's bodies. The silence was like amber and they were sealed inside it, a bubble of clear air breaking the stone's perfection, a flaw where they could breathe.
Eventually their lips found each other and it was quiet and gentle and different. His were so soft and full, the only part of him that was pillowy and comforting while most of him was angular and harsh. Emily got lost in them and in his hands on her, stroking warmth into her flesh that sunk deep to her bones. Somehow their clothes were shed and they made love, pressing kisses to whatever part of each other they could reach, twining their fingers together, eyes locking as unspoken confessions passed between them.
He slept in her arms afterwards and she cradled him, her hand stroking his hair, knowing that everything was different.
It was the thinnest of gray dawns before she could bear to let him go. He dressed slowly, and she wrapped herself in a sheet to walk him to the door. She went to the junk drawer and pulled out her spare key. His eyes widened a little when she handed it to him; she just smiled and nodded. He pulled out his wallet and withdrew a key of his own from it and handed it to her. She clutched it to her chest, as she had no pockets. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her long and slow, his gaze staying on hers as he drew back, telling her he loved her with his eyes; she tried to say it back to him with hers.
When she saw him again at work three hours later, the facade was more hateful than ever.
She began to think of Reid as two different men; the one she worked with was separate and distinct from the one she slept with. Once, she observed the tiniest hint of a mark on his neck, just visible above his shirt collar, and thought to herself I didn't know Reid was seeing anyone. Who gave him that mark? She honest-to-God gave it a second's thought before remembering that she had given him the mark. But it was jarring to see the marks she left on her lover visible on her co-worker and to be reminded that they occupied the same space and the same body.
They spent almost every evening together. She would never have thought it was possible to spend that much time with someone and never talk, but it quickly became part of their landscape. From the time one of them arrived to the time they left, no words were exchanged. No phone calls were ever made between them. No notes were written. They developed a language of touch, of gesture, of expression. His every tiny facial twitch spoke volumes to her. He could read her by the way she was sitting or how she was holding her hands.
After exchanging keys, their time together quickly began to include much more than sex. She'd show up with a bag of groceries and cook. He'd come over with an old movie and they'd lie together on her couch and watch it. Sometimes they didn't have sex at all. Once, he stripped her and laid her out on her belly, then spent over an hour massaging her until she felt boneless and at his mercy. Another time, she had cut his hair for him, sitting him on a chair in her kitchen and snipping away at his unruly curls.
They spent evenings reading together, each with their own book, legs intertwined. They had long wordless conversations. They mapped each other's bodies and lay peacefully in each other's arms for hours. The silence was their cocoon and they withdrew inside it, wrapping it around themselves, and when they had to finally go back to the world it seemed deafening and noisy. Emily began to get impatient with other people's yammering. She longed for her silent companion when she was out with JJ and Garcia and they talked endlessly about Henry or work or Kevin's oddities or the cute barista at the Starbucks on the corner. Nothing was ever quiet enough for her these days.
At work she couldn't let them enter her mind for a second, but at home, with him, she could let her emotions flow through her and fill her up with the calm certainty that she loved him and it was bottomless and clear like lake water and just as fresh. She could feel his love in every touch of his hands on her, every kiss, every look. She'd have thought she'd want to hear the words, but somehow, this was more powerful. Anyone could say "I love you" and not mean it, but no one could fake what they shared. No one could understand that seeing it in his eyes felt truer than hearing him say it.
So it felt right to simply wait for him at the door, and when he entered, hand him the pregnancy test. It felt right for him to ask her by pressing her hand to his heart, both of his covering it, the question in his eyes and the assent in hers.
The justice of the peace answered her email of inquiry and informed her that all that was legally required was for them to sign the license and declare free intent, which could be acknowledged with a nod of the head. They stood in his office, his clerk serving as a witness, held hands and made their silent vows. They exchanged their rings and signed the license. He took her home and slowly undressed her. He kissed her belly where their child grew and for the next two weeks, every time he came over he brought a suitcase. She snapped up a three-bedroom apartment with a den when it opened up down the hall from her current place and hired movers. No one knew. They wore their rings on chains around their necks at work. But she knew that couldn't last. She'd start to show soon. Their cocoon was unsustainable. They both knew it. They couldn't be silent forever. But they held on as long as they could.
When the bubble burst, it did so in spectacular, dramatic fashion.
The night before the crash, she was late getting home. She'd had something important to do and she wanted it to be a surprise. He was on his laptop but by the way he quickly got up and came to her, he'd been waiting and a little worried. She apologized with a kiss. She led him back to the couch and unbuttoned her pants, pulling them down and peeling off the gauze so he could see the small, two-inch-square tattoo on her hip, in the same location as his Euler Identity.
It was a Kanisza triangle, an illustration of the Gestalt principle. He smiled. She knew he'd understand. We fill in that which is not explicitly shown or stated; the mind seeks completeness. That which is not shown appears brighter than if it is given form. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He gingerly touched it. She winced a little and saw the quick apology cross his face.
The next morning, there was a case. St. Louis.
Emily had quietly gone to Hotch a few days after the test came back positive and had herself taken out of the field. She'd known she'd have to. She didn't like it, but neither was she going to place herself in danger when she was carrying their child. She put it off for a few days, but then one morning at her desk, she glanced up and saw him looking across at her. She jumped, startled, because it was not Reid looking at her, but her husband. He'd never made an appearance in the bullpen before and it felt profoundly strange. His eyes flicked down to her stomach, then over to Hotch's office, a quick little gesture invisible to everyone but her. She acknowledged his urging with a tiny nod. He'd shifted in his chair and then her husband was gone, and Reid was back.
She'd gotten up, gone to Hotch's office and shut the door. He'd looked up, frowning. "What's wrong?"
She'd stood before his desk and spoken calmly and clearly. "I have something to tell you. I need you to agree to two things before I do. I need you to keep it to yourself, and I need you to not ask me any questions."
He'd nodded. "All right."
"I'm six weeks pregnant. I want to keep working, but I need to restrict my activities so I'm not in harm's way. I'm aware that the team will wonder why and that they will probably figure out why on their own. Please do not acknowledge it or explain."
She saw all the questions he wanted to ask on his face but true to his word, he voiced none of them. He just gave her a terse nod. "Understood."
"Thank you." She turned to go.
He smiled tightly. "Congratulations."
"Thank you." She wished she could grin and bounce and turn cartwheels and share something of her joy, but all that was only for one person.
Starting with the next case and for the following month, the team would go to arrest UNSUBs and she would stay behind at the precinct working on paperwork or talking to Garcia. No one asked her any questions. Hotch just ordered people to their jobs, and hers never involved drawing her gun or putting on Kevlar anymore. Her mental discontinuity was getting harder to maintain. The only way she could calmly watch him go out into dangerous situations was to tell herself that this was his twin brother, while her husband was safe at home, waiting for her to return. In a way, that was true. She spent hours and hours a day with Reid, but she didn't see her husband until she got home.
Now, on the plane to St. Louis, she sat next to Rossi and let her hand rest on her still-flat belly. Reid was sitting at her back, facing the other direction, but these days no matter where he was, she had a piece of him with her. She caught JJ watching her and wondered if she was giving herself away. Was she smiling beatifically? Did she have that often-mentioned "glow" about her? She hadn't gained any weight yet. She moved her hand off her belly. That was a surefire sign.
For all that she'd worried about putting herself in harm's way, when the harm came, she was doing something exceedingly ordinary. She and Morgan were driving to interview a witness. It was after dark and it had been a long day.
A distracted driver ran a red light and smashed into their SUV, on Emily's side but thankfully toward the rear of the car. Morgan tried to keep control but the SUV hit an embankment and flipped over. Emily felt pain, she felt jarring, she heard shouting and glass and breaking things, and then she heard nothing.
When she opened her eyes she was being pulled from the wreck. She looked up at Morgan's panic-stricken face, his muscles bulging as he lifted her out. "Morgan," she managed.
"Emily! Are you okay?"
"I'm okay." Her legs worked, everything worked. She could tell she was bruised and cut but nothing felt broken. Oh God, my baby. She didn't feel hurt or sore in her abdomen. Hopefully it had escaped any impact.
"We need to get clear, the car's on fire."
"Help me up."
He helped her get to her feet and they staggered away. She looked over at the other driver; she was slumped over the wheel, the front end was totally mangled. "Here, sit down," Morgan said, guiding her to a nearby planter with a wide ledge.
Emily sat. She could feel blood running down her face. "Go help the other driver, I'm okay," she said.
"You sure?" His eyebrows were folded into concerned curlicues, his eyes wide.
"Go, I'll call Hotch."
"A bunch of people saw the crash, I'm sure the cops are on their way." He trotted off to the other vehicle.
Within five minutes police and ambulances were there. Hotch and JJ showed up right on their heels. Emily was trying not to let herself feel how much she wanted Reid. She'd seen him in her mind as the car flipped over and wondered if she'd die here never having said so many things to him. Never having said anything to him, in fact, never as herself.
The paramedics had her sit on a gurney while they checked her over. "I'm pregnant," she murmured to one of them, before Hotch and JJ reached her side. The EMT nodded.
"I think you're okay there, but we'll take you to the hospital for an exam when we're done here," the woman said.
She had a pretty bad gash on her head and some cuts on her neck and arms from flying glass, but she'd be okay. Hotch and JJ hovered over her like protective parents. "Where's Reid?" she asked. She couldn't stop herself.
She saw them exchange a glance, probably wondering why she'd ask about him so specifically. "He and Rossi were interviewing the basketball coach. We called them, they're on their way."
She nodded. He's coming.
She heard him before she saw him. She'd become very attuned to the sound of his voice, which was ironic considering that she'd never heard him really talk to her with it. "Where's Emily?" she heard him demand. She craned her neck and saw him over by Morgan. "Is she okay?"
"She's all right, kid," Morgan said, sounding a little puzzled by Reid's urgency. "She's over there."
He looked and saw her, and his whole body sagged in relief. She hopped off the gurney, ignoring Hotch's protests. Reid trotted toward her and she took a few steps away to meet him. She threw her arms around his neck as he swept her into an embrace. "Are you okay?" he said into her ear, a little breathless.
She nodded. "I'm okay. Cuts and bruises."
He drew back just far enough to kiss her, hard and deep, his hands rising to cup her face. She hung on to his wrists and kissed back. A bubble of joy and relief was rising in her chest.I'm kissing him in front of Hotch and JJ and the whole world. For as hard as she'd worked to keep their cocoon intact, all she felt now was glad. He hugged her again. "All Hotch said was there'd been an accident and you were hurt," he said. "I thought I was going to throw up the whole way over here."
She looked up into his face. "I'm fine. Everything's fine," she said, giving him a significant look. He nodded with a sigh of relief. She put her hand on his chest where she knew his wedding ring was hidden beneath his shirt. "But we're making a spectacle of ourselves." She braced herself and looked around. Hotch, JJ, Morgan and Rossi were standing in a semicircle around the gurney she'd just vacated, all of them staring at them with unabashed astonishment on their faces. "Sorry, guys," she said. She went back to the gurney and sat down. The EMT had been in the middle of cleaning her forehead and she now resumed her task. Reid stayed at her side.
"O-kay," Morgan said. "Looks like we all missed something, here."
She smiled. "No, you didn't."
The EMT bandaged her forehead. "All right, Agent Prentiss. We need to take you to the hospital now."
"I need to come with her," Reid said.
"Who are you?"
He looked down at her and she nodded, one hand rising to grip his where it rested on her shoulder. "I'm her husband," he said, quietly, his eyes never leaving hers.
Emily saw Morgan's jaw drop, quite literally, and she heard JJ suck in a surprised breath. Hotch took one step forward. "Is that true?" he asked.
Emily reached into her shirt and pulled out her ring. She freed it from its chain and put it back on her finger. After a moment, Reid did likewise. Emily glanced around at the team. "To answer all your questions, in order," she began, "Yes, it's true; two weeks ago; about six months; and because it's private. And I'm going to the hospital partly because I'm ten weeks pregnant."
"Speaking of which, we ought to be going," the EMT said.
She lay back on the gurney, keeping her eyes on Reid's face because she couldn't bear to look at the shock and even hurt on the faces of her teammates. They loaded her into the ambulance and Reid climbed in after, sitting at her side. The doors closed and she breathed a sigh of relief. He held her hand and looked down at her, and their quiet cocoon closed around them again.
They passed the ambulance ride having a long conversation in silence.
He brought her water while she sat in the ER waiting for an OB to come and examine her. He sat at her side, resting his elbow on the mattress and propping his chin in his hand. "Well," he said, "I don't think that's how we would have wanted to do that."
"Wouldn't have been my first choice." She met his eyes. "Had you thought about it? How we'd go public, I mean."
"I don't know. I thought we could just show up one day wearing our rings and leave it at that."
"I love that idea. Too bad we can't now." She shook her head, smiling a little.
"What?" he said.
"It feels strange to talk."
"I know. I suppose we'll have to get used to it."
She raised her hand and touched his cheek. "Spencer," she whispered, the first time his given name had ever passed her lips. "My husband." She just had to say that out loud once.
He turned his head and kissed her palm. "My wife," he whispered. When he looked up at her again his eyes were filled with emotion. "You know I love you, right?"
"Okay. Just checking."
She laughed. "How could you think I didn't know?"
"I didn't think that, not really." He hesitated. "I still can't believe it felt so natural being silent with you. You know me. I'm a talker."
"Yes, you are," she said, smiling.
"It was hard at first. But then it started to become surprisingly freeing. I've always been the guy who knows the fact and spouts the spiels and answers the questions. But with you I was just a man who was with a woman, and there was no expectation of being anything else. Then I had to convince myself that I still had anything to offer you without speaking."
"You had yourself to offer me, and you did."
"I was yours to take from the moment you touched this," he whispered, looking away as he put his hand over his chest tattoo.
She put her hand under his chin and tipped his face up, then drew him close and kissed him. He put his arms around her and kissed back. "I love you," she murmured against his mouth. He sat on the edge of the mattress and held her tightly.
He drew back and put his hand on her belly. She covered it with her own. They relaxed into their silence again, knowing that starting now, they'd only be allowed pockets of it.
The OB arrived with an ultrasound machine and smeared gel on Emily's belly. Reid took a chair by her head and held her hand as the doctor pressed the wand to her, moving it carefully. "There, see?" the doctor said. "That flutter. That's your baby's heartbeat."
Emily's own heart seemed to go still as she watched the fast little pulse. She clutched Reid's hand and her breath shuddered as she looked at it, that tiny creature that wasn't yet a person but would be soon. No wonder she already felt tired all the time; her body was busy building a human being, knitting it together from her DNA and that of this man by her side who she loved without really understanding how or why that had come to pass. He rested his forehead against her temple as they both stared in wonderment at their first glimpse of their son or daughter.
They didn't speak. They just watched the screen for as long as the doctor let them.
By the time they left the hospital it was coming up on dawn. Emily looked around. "I'm a little surprised none of the team showed up here."
"I asked them not to," Reid said. "I was afraid it'd be a lot of questions and things we'd rather not talk about and you were just in a car accident."
"Oh, bless you." He just smiled and took her hand. She felt a brief jolt of unease, like she was doing something wrong, but then she remembered that she had every right to hold his hand in public. "I guess we get a cab to the hotel, huh?"
Reid's phone rang. "It's JJ," he said. "Hey." She watched him listening, hearing the faint echoes of JJ's voice. "Yeah, she's fine. We're just leaving the hospital now. I was going to call a cab." His eyebrows lifted. "Seriously? That's good news. Okay, we'll just wait here. Right. See you soon." He shut his phone. "They were all so wound up that they worked all night and Garcia found a hidden paper trail from the phone sex line back to the basketball coach. He confessed. Case closed."
"So we can just go home, then?" Emily said, hardly daring to think this might be the case. She was exhausted.
"They're going to swing by and pick us up on the way to the airstrip."
Emily sank down on a nearby bench, the rising sun falling on her face. He sat down next to her. She chuckled to herself. "You know what I'm going to do when we get home?"
"You mean after you do your little shoe ritual?"
She smiled. She was still getting used to this sudden integration of workplace-Reid and her own personal Reid, and the fact that he knew all her domestic habits because he lived with her was a little dissonant. She elbowed him. "Yes, after that. I'm going to update my Facebook status to Married and count how many people think I'm playing a joke. Oh, and see if I'm right about who'd be the first person to call me and demand an explanation."
"You going to say who you're married to?"
"Of course." She frowned. "I should probably tell my mother first."
He stared at her. "You haven't told your mother?"
"Why did you think I had?"
"I don't know, I just assumed. I mean, I told mine."
"Yours lives thousands of miles away and won't be all up in our business." She sighed. "We have a lot of conversations to catch up on."
He nodded. "I knew someday we'd have to have them. I just wanted it to last as long as it could." He met her eyes. "It was like being underwater, where there's no sound and everything is weightless and the world just goes away, except you were there and it was perfect."
Facebook, Emily decided, could wait.
She and Reid arrived home at their condo just after noon. The team had been surprisingly quiet and tight-lipped on the flight home, discussing only aspects of the case and keeping their curious staring to a minimum, for which she was profoundly grateful. She suspected that Hotch had given them some strongly-worded suggestions about how to act. Either way she was glad to be able to put off the explanations and defenses for another day. They weren't due back at work until the morning.
They left their go-bags in the hall and made a beeline for their bedroom, where their clothes were quickly shed. Their lovemaking felt new again; they'd rejoined the world and let it see them, and let themselves see each other in whole for the first time. Things that had been thought but never voiced could now be spoken, and spoken they were, in a flood of overlapping whispers and murmurs that often made no sense, they just had to get out. i never wanted anybody like i want you god what you do to me i used to dream about this you're so beautiful you drive me crazy i love it when you do that god don't stop i want you so bad please keep going i love your body hold me tighter come on i need you do that thing you do with your tongue oh please yes like that i can never get enough of you it's never been like this with anyone else i can't believe i never knew it's crazy i'm close i'm sorry this could have happened years ago i was scared i was blind i was stupid i was stubborn you were always you were never we weren't quite i wasn't you weren't it's finally we're always oh god yes just like that please baby mine yours ours now forever yes yes oh god i love you.
When she came she let herself cry out, scream his name as she heard him groan out hers and it was delicious and perfect and she knew that the end of their silence wasn't the end of them but the beginning.
She rested her head on his chest and her hand drifted down to trace the equation on his hip. She'd never touched it again after their first time when he'd moved her hand away from it, but now she could finally ask him. "Why this? Why here?" she whispered.
"Do you know what it is?"
"It's the Euler Identity," she said.
"Yes, although that's pronounced 'oy-ler,' not 'yew-ler.'"
"I still don't quite know what it means. I tried to read about it and I understand on the surface, but it must have meaning to you if you have it here permanently."
He hesitated, his hand in her hair, and she could tell he was formulating his response. "It's an equation derived from another geometric equation that's about angles and cosines and such. But the Identity? It isn't about geometry or trigonometry or calculus."
"What does it mean?"
"It's true. That's what it means. As to why I have it, and why there? Originally it was in ballpoint pen. It was written there by the first woman I ever had sex with. She was my math TA. We were talking about math as a pure entity. If there was no matter or form in the universe, the mathematics would still exist, even with no sentient brains to comprehend it. It is a science independent of the physical world. Charlotte said that no one would ever be a true mathematician who didn't immediately comprehend the Euler Identity's significance the first time they saw it. She wrote it on me, and told me that I should remember that truth exists for its own sake, not to serve reality. I went out the next day and had a tattoo artist trace her writing." He sighed. "And I never saw her again."
"You didn't date her after that?"
"No, I mean I never saw her again. The next day a different TA took over her classes and she wasn't at CalTech anymore. It was like she vanished without a trace. No one talked about it. I never knew what happened." He rolled them halfway over so he was resting against her chest. He touched her tattoo. "Did you get this because of me?"
"No. Because of us."
He reached across her and pulled a ballpoint pen out of the nightstand. He handed it to her, looking into her eyes. "Pick a spot," he said.
She smiled and pushed him to his back. She slid down in the bed and put her hand on his other hip, directly across from the Euler Identity. She glanced up at him and he nodded. She bent her head close to his skin and carefully began to draw.