This is the third story in the Grief series, focuses on Reid, and set about a week after Emily's death. I'm kind of torn, part of me is happy with it, and part of me is kind of eh. But I think that's as good as it's going to get. I also posted JJ's part today, called 'Sisters'.
Thanks for reading and please review!
Reid inhaled, blinking away the moisture in his eyes. He managed to get through it without breaking down, and now that he was out of her apartment, he had no excuse. He cleared his throat, and straightened up in the back of the cab. The driver shot him a look, and Reid dutifully ignored it. Be like Morgan, he told himself, strong, silent, and projecting the impression that he felt nothing. But he wasn't Morgan, and that was easier said than done.
Reid glanced at the window, watching the weary drizzle slid down the glass. It was a very light rain, but it was still cold, and that made that drizzle absolutely chilling.
He wasn't Morgan. He wasn't that strong, he couldn't walk though his dead friend's apartment and not feel anything. Everything reminded him of her, and brought a memory to mind, and every memory hurt a little more than the last.
Emily was the big sister he'd never had, and would have no more. There was a time he'd treated her badly, taken out his problems on her, and she had never held that against him. She was also probably the only person that wouldn't laugh in his face after he asked her to go see a five-hour movie with him. A movie in Russian no less.
The cabby pulled up to the building that wasn't far from Emily's apartment, and Reid wrapped his coat around himself and prepared to dash inside. This after assuring the driver that he would be back (he was certainly leaving enough in the cab), and would pay for the wait time. The cold air bit as his exposed ears and fingers, and the pathetic drizzle dripped onto his hair and shoulders in the dash to the building, the carrier dangling from one hand.
Stepping inside he was instantly assailed with the smell of antiseptic and furry animal, and had the attention of every dog in the room. There were three, mostly small breeds, which was common for city areas where the residents had to conform to weight limits from landlords. But, there was one large breed, a pitbull that had to be at least twelve, and was sitting patiently, looking old and tired. There were also a few people with carriers, one of which had a meowing creature inside it. It was not a happy meow.
He approached the counter. "Excuse, my name is Spencer Reid, I'm here to pick up Sergio, he's a feline boarded here over the last couple weeks by his owner, Emily Prentiss."
The receptionist frowned. "Weird name for a cat," she said.
Reid shrugged. He couldn't imagine Emily naming the cat Fluffy or something equally clichéd. Sergio fit her personality much better.
"Carol, are we boarding a cat named Sergio?" She turned and asked another receptionist.
The other receptionist brightened. "Yeah, he's a sweetie." The first receptionist waved her toward Reid.
"You're here for Sergio?" Carol asked.
"Yes, I am."
"Good, he's been missing his mama...Are you Emily's boyfriend?"
Reid nearly choked on his tongue. "Uh no, I'm just a friend."
She smiled anyway. He got the impression she smiled at almost anything. "Sorry, I just figured since you were picking up her cat..."
"That's alright...Did you know her well?"
She shrugged. "Not really, she boarded Sergio here a lot though, so we talked sometimes, and she always called to check on him." Reid just nodded, and she said, "Well, let me go get him for you."
Reid handed her the carrier, and waited at the desk. His attention went to the front door when it opened to admit a ten or eleven year-old girl carrying an obese dachshund with some difficulty. The girl's mother followed behind, watching child and pet wearily. The dachshund looked lazy.
"Okay," Carol swept back in a few minutes later, and rested the cloth carrier on the counter. Reid peered in to see an adult cat with a pure black coat and yellow-green eyes peering out at him.
"I was talking to the kennel people...do you have a note or something from Emily saying you can pick him up for her?"
Reid shifted uncomfortably, pushing his emotions deep into his belly, so they wouldn't come pouring out his eyes. "Uh, Emily died last week."
His stomach ached like he had an ulcer.
"Oh my god," Carol gasped. "How?"
"While attempting to apprehend a suspect." That was the party line. Not after she went AWOL to try and single-handedly stop a sociopath. Not after she went on a suicide mission to protect her family.
"But I didn't hear anything on the news about an FBI agent getting killed? And, shouldn't they have had a memorial service or something?"
"It happened in Boston, and it was a small private service," he explained. A very quick, private service. The alphabet soup bureaucracy was eager to cover it up, and forget about it.
"She was always really nice," Carol managed, just looking stunned. Then she shook herself, and returned to her duties. "Uh, the last time she checked him in, she said it might be for a while, so we've been autocharging her credit card, you don't have to worry about paying. I can just check him out...uh, what is going to happen to Sergio?"
"I'm going to adopt him," Reid said, hoping this would start going quicker, because frankly, it was taking a greater emotional toll than he expected.
"Okay, we better switch the information on file to yours, name, address, phone number," she said.
Reid rattled off the information to her, and whatever else she wanted to know, ignoring the quiet mew from the carrier.
"Do you know anything about cat care?" She asked.
He nodded. "I've read several books on the subject." Last night, he added silently.
After a few more exchanges, she finally let him out the door, still looking like she'd been thrown for a loop. He knew the feeling. The cabby was still waiting, and promptly took off toward his apartment. Sergio cried the whole way, and shied away when Reid reached into the carrier and tried to pet him.
It was two hours after he got home that Reid found himself on his hands and knees, peering under his couch staring into glowing eyes. That was literally all he could see of the black cat. He'd crawled under the sofa as soon as Reid had let him out of the carrier, and hadn't come out since. No matter how much food Reid tried to tempt him with, or toys he used to coax him.
In his hand now was a strange fishing pole type of device, that had a feathery, fuzzy toy on one end of a string, and the other end was attached to a pole. Emily must have picked out the toy. He imagined her going into a pet store, and could see the bemused expression on her face as she analyzed the cat toys, carefully selecting ones appropriate for a healthy, adult cat. And, the bed, the bowls, the blanket, the other toys, and the collar around his neck. And now it was all in his apartment because she was dead, and he couldn't even get the cat to eat.
Defeated, Reid turned around, and plopped down with his back to the sofa. Who was he kidding with this? He didn't know the first thing about bonding with pets. He could name every bone in the cat's body, describe in detail the evolutionary history of the domesticated feline, and list it's nutritional needs, among other things. But, Spencer Reid had never had a pet before, and he knew he didn't connect to animals any better than he did humans.
He was already screwing this up, and he couldn't screw it up, because that would be failing Emily. He couldn't do that. Not again. Not when they'd all failed her so epically a week ago. Not when he failed her a month ago, just by not paying attention. She'd been saying goodbye even then, and he didn't see it. And she'd loved this cat, and he couldn't get it to do anything except hide from him.
Reid put his head in his hands, and let tears of grief and frustration rain down his face. He wanted to do one little thing for her, and he couldn't seem to accomplish that. He desperately wanted to call her and talk to her; he would even swear not to ask her a single one of the thousand questions running through his head from the Doyle saga. But she was dead, and he'd never get to say goodbye or tell her that he loved her. His big sister.
A cautious meow caused him to look up.
Sergio was sitting next to him, one leg lifted ready to bolt. Reid slowly held out a hand, allowing the cat to take his time sniffing him. To his utter surprise, Sergio stepped closer, and let Reid pet him. He came within inches of Reid, set one paw on his leg, but pulled it back. Reid lowered his legs into a crossed position, allowing Sergio to cautiously make his way up. He sat there and let Reid pet him, and slowly began to purr. It was a loud, thick sound, and he could almost see Emily smiling at it, hear her chuckle.
The tears began to fall harder.