Pairing: None
Criminal Minds Timeline: During season 1
Buffy Timeline: Post-Chosen, AU as of season 5
Disclaimer: "BTVS" belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. "CM" belongs to Jeff Davis, Mark Gordon, et al.

"They're not real," a gentle, feminine voice whispered from his right. Spencer lifted his head from his hands to face the speaker. He found a pretty blonde woman, dressed in sweat pants, an old T-shirt, and a robe, staring down at his feet. He followed her gaze to view a blue right sock with clouds decorating the visible portion, and the green sock with dancing leprechauns on his left foot. He looked back up at the woman.


"I, I just... L-leprechauns don't e-exist," she stammered, ducking her head so that her hair covered her face.

"I know," Spencer answered. "They're a mythological creature said to be based in Ireland, who are connected to a great deal of wealth, and, if captured, will offer their captor three wishes. They were originally depicted as a small, old man wearing red and mending a single shoe. They- "

"S-sorry," the woman murmured softly. "I j-just wanted to- Some p-people here believe anythi-ing."

Spencer looked at the woman more closely. She was obviously nervous talking to someone she didn't know, but appeared to believe that telling him a mythological creature didn't exist was more important than her own comfort. He didn't remember her from his last visit, even though she was clearly a long-term resident.

"Thank you. F-for telling me, I mean," Spencer finally spoke. The woman smiled at him.

"When everything else is f-falling apart, i-it's good to have some sta-ability. Leprechauns and coincidences d-don't exist," she informed him, nodding at the end of her sentence. "Are you g-going to visit her today?"


"Y-your mother. She has a pi-icture of you she likes to show us. You look happier n-now."

"Oh. I... I don't want to-"

"You won't bother her," the woman interrupted. "She would be s-so happy to see you b-before you leave again."

"I- I'll visit her tomorrow."

The woman hummed softly before sliding down the wall to curl up on the floor across from him. She wrapped her arms around her bent knees, then rested her chin on her arms. After a few minutes of silence she tilted her head to one side, staring at him intently.

"I'm getting better," the woman informed him once a few more minutes had passed. "Sh-she couldn't fix me, even though she tried. They brought m-me here to stay s-safe. Now the town is g-gone. I can feel it. The evil is- The taint isn't as strong anymore. It's slow but... My mind is... it's healing."

Spencer tried to think of something to say to that; a reason she would tell him. "My mother won't just get better," he finally said. The woman smiled at him sadly, then reached forward to pat his knee.

"No," she agreed. "Her hurt is from the i-inside. It wasn't s-smiles and monsters and hands and pain, and f-feeling everything that m-makes you you being r-ripped away. But you h-help her stay focused on now. M-maybe that's e-enough?"

Fast as his brain worked, Spencer still hadn't thought of a response by the time a nurse entered the hallway, interrupting his conversation. The blonde woman silently accepted the nurse's help in standing. She brushed at her robe, cleaning it of imagined dust.

"What are you doing out here, Tara?" the nurse asked.

The woman, Tara, merely smiled in Spencer's direction. "Dr. Reid wasn't feeling well. I wanted to give him something new to think about."

The next day, Spencer walked into the building with every intention of speaking to both his mother and Tara. He was waylaid by the woman at the desk informing him that a package had been delivered for him. He opened the envelope to find a key and a note, and knew that he wouldn't be able to speak to either woman.

Tara Maclay watched from her window as Spencer Reid rushed from the building, clutching an envelope and holding a cell phone to his ear. She saw the worry and fear swirling in his aura, diminishing somewhat as he greeted the person who answered the phone. She whispered a quiet spell of protection, hoping it would be enough.