Substitution
Rating: T, for now
Pairing: Reid/Prentiss
Summary: He found her, but not under the circumstances he imagined.
Disclaimer: I don't owe them, so don't sue me.


He stops himself from gnawing off his bottom lip, pressing it into a thin line as he stares blankly at the door. He's nervous. He always is, but he can't back down now. He's already made the call, and if he was correct and the promise of punctuality was kept, he would hear a knock in two minutes.

Knocks. He corrects himself in thought.

Three fast ones and two slow ones.

He wonders how low he's gone this time. He wonders what his colleagues would think if they discovered a side of him like this existed. He wonders when it began going downhill, and when he became so distant from himself that he had to resort to this.

He's debated countless times whether this was worse than his drug addiction; whether sex was a better outlet for emotions undealt with. He had these feelings. Odd ones that he still can't seem to figure out, even with the help of a book. They made his chest tighten and his breaths shorten. They made his lips quiver with guilt and eyes sting with sorrow. These feelings made him feel more than he could handle, and he used work to get rid of them. He'd work, harder than he was used to—until his eyes could no longer stay open, until his hands would beg him to stop writing, until Hotch ordered for him to leave.

He'd do nearly everything to avoid dealing with the burden of his own emotions, and when work was no longer big enough cover what he kept trying to hide, he resorted to this.

Reid glances at the clock on the counter, not surprised that only half a minute has passed. His mind did always move too fast, even when he tried to slow it down to analyze the purpose of his thoughts.

"Breathe." He tells himself. And he does.

He can feel his skin itch and sweat, a sign he was near withdrawal, and he curses the agency for not knowing his habits. The ones in Quantico, Vegas, and Manhattan knew what he liked. They knew he wanted them early. That they'd walk in with professionalise, in every aspect, down to their attire. And when the door closes, they would know he would want all of that taken away, to see the woman behind that shield she wore to protect herself from the ruggedness of men.

Who was he kidding? He was in France.

He had to use a translator, for Christ's sake. That took 10 minutes alone, adding onto the extra 15 he had to rehearse for it to be deemed passable in the language. He'd be lucky if a woman even knocked on his door at all. He smiles, the bittersweet moment in his head replaying. The hostess said goodbye in a cheery tone, but she spoke too fast and too soon that when she set the phone down, he could hear her mumble something out loud.

He had no idea what, Un autre crétin étrange, meant, and quite frankly, he was afraid to know.

Before he can resist his own temptation of grabbing the dictionary in his messenger bag, he hears the knock. Knocks.

Three fast ones and two slow ones.

The great significance it had to him was for himself only. The obvious significance was that she was here. He swallows the words in his mouth and breathes the anxiousness in his system out, walking towards the door. He unlocks the it and steps back.

For a moment nothing happens. This is his test. He's made the effort of inviting them, and regardless of these circumstances, he still tries his best to be a gentlemen. The final decision is up to them, whether they open the door and walk into his life or just leave, Reid lets them decide.

He feels a sense of uncertainty in the air, and in result, he steps back, turning away, focusing his gaze on the vivid lights displayed outside his window. Most women don't catch on to his way of thought, especially ones in this profession. Only two out of the twelve times he's done this that it's ended up with him a fraction closer to satisfaction.

Three times the girls actually knocked again and asked to come in. Four times they just left, and the last three had him so desperate that he didn't even give them an option. He just opened the door and they came in.

He feels different this time. He doesn't want to force her to come in. He's been in so much pain recently that sometimes he feels guilt for allowing them to see just the mess he's become. He feels the guilt nearly every day. But every day, he pushes it aside into that corner of his head, or down to the dark depths of his heart.

He feels pathetic in his attempt to be rescued. Especially through sex, and especially through a call-girl. He feels pathetic at using this to live a moment he wish he'd had—to save someone he wish he could have saved.

The door slowly opens. Now it doesn't matter how pathetic he feels. She's saving him. Reid feels a smile creep onto his weary features. She's allowing him to save the woman he couldn't rescue. He waits for her to close the door before he turns around. Today, he can finally save

"Reid?"

He freezes. His mouth is parted half-way, and her designation disipitates into the air as his mind processes that voice. He's in profile. That's as far as he got in turning before he stopped.

He asked for a woman with dark hair. Near to raven black, if possible. She also must have brown eyes. That was a demand. He wanted them big enough that he could see into them and know who she really was. He even gave a height and weight to be as specific as possible.

The hair and eyes were nailed most of the time. Only once was the height served through, and that had been Vegas. He figured earlier that getting the height right would be a long shot. Apparently Morgan was right when he said France had a lot of 'shorties.' He never knew it was meant in the literal sense.

But it doesn't shock him that the woman standing before him accommodates all his preferences. It doesn't shock him that she's an exact replica of the woman he's tried to push out of his thoughts for nearly a year. What shocks him is that the woman he's been trying to save in his mind doesn't need saving.

Emily Prentiss doesn't need saving because she's alive.

"I need to leave." She mumbles to herself.

Again. He feels a spark in him light up. He doesn't know what to do with it. "I need to leave." She says again, louder, but her body seems to be doing nothing of the sorts.

Moments pass by as he waits for her leave. The feelings he's been avoiding to deal with are now in the room with him. They're with him inside Emily Prentiss. Those feelings are Emily Prentiss, and he concludes that leaving those feelings will hurt less than confronting them. "Reid," It's becoming difficult to ignore that voice, and all it takes is for her to take a step forward that the spark inside him ruptures into uncontrollable flames.

"You don't get to apologize." He says it loud, nearing the line of a shout. He can see her foot take a step back, and with firmness she responds quietly.

"I didn't."

"It may have been over a year, Prentiss, but you haven't changed one bit. Your head always tilts to the right and you furrow your brows just before you spit out a form of apology." He takes note of her cringe when he uses her last name, and he feels lousy for doing this to her. He knows she had no other choice, yet the part of him that's been wounded by her won't tone down the bitterness.

She scoffs, and with that breath she releases the pity act. "I'm that easy, huh?"

"Apparently in the bedroom as well."

He doesn't know when hostility became so evident as his defence mechanism, and as much as he doesn't mean it, he finds it better than admitting he's missed her. It hurts him to say those words, but with discretion, he looks over and realizes it hurts her more to hear them. The dark head withdraws from the tilt, and he sees eyes blink furiously, chest rising with breath and uncertainty.

"I'm going to leave now. I'm—I'm sorry, Spencer."

There it was. There she was. There was Emily. She could have brought up why he fell down into a spiral, but she didn't. She could have used that the circumstances they met under was beyond out of his character, and she could have lectured him on it. Even expressed her disgust. But she didn't. She could have responded with anger and the bitterness he knew she had, but she didn't. She didn't want to make it worse, possibly because it couldn't.

Before she gathers the courage to even shuffle, he's somehow managed to get past her and to the door. His voice bounces off the wood, echoing into the room. "You don't get to apologize," He takes a hold of the knob and trails his hand up to the lock. "And you don't get to leave." He locks it.

"What do I get to do, then?" Her voice seems farther in distance.

"Your job."


To Be Continued
Dun dun dun. Well, I'll let you go crazy with that last line until I update. Perhaps what you think is not what you think. Or is it? Hm..
Your thoughts would honestly be appreciated :)