Reid finished his paperwork as quickly as he could. It was one of his better days - no headache, though the bright lights still bothered him. Luckily the sky had been overcast all day.
Emma was at JJ’s house, so he had the night to himself. He’d considered long and hard what to do with the time, and he’d finally found it. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
“Reid?” said the voice on the other end.
“Emily, you are not going to believe this.”
“They’re showing ‘Solaris’ tonight, the original, in the theaters. You want to go?”
“Did Morgan put you up to this?”
“What?” Reid was totally confused.
Prentiss repeated herself. “Did Morgan tell you to call me?”
“No, Morgan would have no idea what ‘Solaris’ is.”
“So, uh, you just called me out of the blue.”
Why was Prentiss acting strange? “Well, I mean, the original one’s in Russian, so, really, you and I are the only ones that can really enjoy it.”
“Isn’t ‘Solaris’ like four hours long?”
“It’s five. The best Sci-Fi meditation film of all time. But for some reason, they never really show it in the theaters. You want to go with me?”
“Sorry, handsome. I’m gonna have to pass. I’m just gonna hang out with Sergio tonight.”
Oh… “Shoot, I didn’t realize that…”
“Relax, Reid. Sergio is my new cat. But, um, thank you.”
“For being you.”
“Aw, thanks, I don’t know how to be anyone else.”
“Yeah, that’s what I love about you.”
“Bye.” Reid put his phone in his pocket and wondered what was going on with his friend. Why was she so distant? And why hadn’t she told him about her new cat?
And why would Morgan be telling him to call Prentiss?
Reid shook his head, knowing he wouldn’t get the answers tonight. He grabbed his bag and left the bullpen, resigning himself to watching Solaris alone.
Reid was the second person in the round table room a few days later. Only Prentiss was already there, talking to someone on the phone.
“Lauren Reynolds is dead.” Prentiss was saying. A minute later, she hung up.
“Who’s Lauren Reynolds?” Reid asked, hoping to shed some light on Prentiss’ recently strange behavior.
Prentiss turned, startled. “She was a friend of mine.”
“How did she die?”
“A car accident.”
“I’m really sorry,” Reid was about to say more when the rest of the team arrived. Hotch and Garcia started the briefing immediately.
Don’t worry, Emily, Reid thought. We’re here for you.
“How about this one, Daddy?” Emma reached up to tap one of the keys on the musical keyboard.
Reid joined her in the corner of the store, and tested the instrument himself. He knew he couldn’t afford a real piano, but after his experience with Sammy, he couldn’t shake the need to learn how to play.
Though Paisley was surprised at his sudden interest in the piano, Emma had been excited, and begged to go with him when he picked out a keyboard. So here they were, in a musical store near their home, trying to decide.
“I think you found the perfect one, Emma,” Reid said. “Let’s pick out some music books.”
While Reid talked to the store clerk, Emma sorted through the collection of music sheets, heading to the counter with her top three choices.
“Those are pretty advanced,” said the clerk. “If you’ve never played before, you might want to get a beginner’s book, too.”
Emma glanced at her dad, who gave her a look that said he agreed. She sighed and walked away, returning with a princess themed beginner’s book.
After paying for their purchases, Reid and Emma headed home to unpack the keyboard.
“Where are you going to set up?” Paisley asked upon their return.
“The library in the loft, I think,” Reid said. “I thought about the rec room in the basement, but that’s right next to your study. I don’t want to interrupt your concentration.”
Paisley shrugged. “That’s nice of you, but I doubt either of you will be so horrible that I’ll be distracted.”
Emma was bouncing on her feet in excitement. “Can we play it right now, Daddy?”
“For a little while,” Reid said sternly. “You have school tomorrow, and riding lessons, so you need to be in bed in an hour.”
Emma took what she could get. She grabbed the music books and followed her father, who carried the keyboard, to the attic.
Though Reid managed to play a moderate piece easily, Emma had a little more trouble getting her fingers to move independently. She huffed in frustration.
“Give it time,” Reid said. “Your body is still learning fine motor skills, like tying your shoes or typing.”
“There are kids younger than me who do this,” Emma argued. “They’re masters.”
“Yes, and they start playing at a very early age. You’re starting out a little later than them.”
“But you’re almost thirty. Why is it so easy for you?”
Good question. “I don’t really know…”
Emma crossed her arms, pouting.
Reid decided he could only give her words of encouragement. “All that matters is that you don’t give up. Just like your riding lessons. Remember how you fell off and got right back on your horse?”
“That’s what you need to do here, too. Keep trying,” Reid said. “And you’ll get better.”
This did not pacify his daughter. “It’s just not fair. You’re good at everything.”
Reid almost laughed. “Emma, you do realize I’m one of the only FBI agents with little to no combat skills?”
“You can shoot a gun, though.”
“Yes, and do you know how long it took me to pass the qualifying test?”
Emma didn’t answer.
“I almost didn’t. I wasn’t even close,” Reid admitted. “And I probably never would have if it weren’t for Hotch.”
She finally looked at him. “Were you really that bad?”
Reid smiled sheepishly. “My aim was about three feet off.”
Emma laughed. “Yeah, that’s bad.”
“Looks like it’s going to be a bad one.” Paisley said, watching the weather on the news.
“Yeah, I’m glad they cancelled school for both of you,” said Reid, handing her a mug of black coffee.
Paisley sipped the bitter drink without flinching. “Too bad they didn’t cancel work, too.”
“Well, the bad guys don’t take breaks. And the worst of the storm won’t be here for another three days.” He scooped some sugar into his coffee.
Emma dashed down the stairs, skidding to a stop in the kitchen. “Can you believe it? No school! For the rest of the week!”
Reid rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his coffee. “And here I was thinking you’d be upset about it.”
“I was, at first. But then I thought - now I’ll have more time to practice on the keyboard!” Emma paused, taking in her father’s attire. “You’re not really going to work today?”
“Sorry, Butterfly, but I have to.” Reid gave her a kiss. “The team already has a case.”
Emma’s shoulders slumped. “You’re leaving?”
“Actually, this one is here in D.C.” said Reid. “With any luck, I’ll be home for dinner.”
Emma’s eyes lit up. “Paisley, can we bake cookies?”
“If the power doesn’t go out,” Paisley promised.
Reid left before Emma’s excitement had her bouncing off the walls.
“Guys, I’m sorry I’m late,” said Prentiss, rushing into the round table room, two minutes after the briefing had started.
“You okay?” Hotch asked.
“Yeah, it’s just one of those weeks, I guess,” Prentiss said. “I’m sorry. What did I miss? Arsonist?”
“One appears to be murder-suicide, the other a freak accident,” Morgan explained.
“So why are we looking at it?” Prentiss asked.
“House fires are rare,” Rossi said. “Add to that a few miles apart, within the same hour, kind of tips the scales of coincidence.”
Reid jumped in. “Yeah, if somebody did this, they’re highly motivated and organized.”
“And if he wants to strike again, he’s got 72 hours before the storm shuts the city down.”
Reid hummed as he read through the reports.
“What is it?” Seaver asked. She and Garcia were the only ones in the round table room with him.
“You know, considering the time these fires occurred, the habitual patterns of both families were in direct conflict with where the bodies were found.”
“The master bedroom,” Seaver noted.
“Yeah, normally Lauren Cosenza would be downstairs helping her son with his homework, and Ron wouldn’t even be home from work yet.”
“What about the Fagans?”
“Their routines were less established - they traveled a lot,” Reid said. “But they were expected at a dinner party last night.”
Garcia shook her head. “If someone did this, what are the chances these victims are random?”
A sudden sound sent a shot of pain through Reid’s forehead. He flinched, and looked up. It was Prentiss, setting her bag down on her desk.
“I’m sorry,” Prentiss said, thinking she’d interrupted his concentration.
“I thought you were in there,” Reid said, motioning to the round table room.
“Are you okay?” Prentiss asked.
“Yeah, I’m - I’m sure these victims overlap somehow…” Reid said. “Garcia pulled their phone numbers but so far I can’t find anything.”
“You just jumped,” Prentiss pointed out.
For a moment, Reid considered lying. But then again, Prentiss was a profiler and would probably see right through him. And even if he was able to dodge her, she’d probably recruit Morgan and Garcia to help her figure out what was wrong.
Prentiss was a really good friend, so maybe he should be honest. Adam had said once that Reid needed to be more open to his other friends.
“I’ve been having these… really intense headaches lately…” Reid admitted.
Naturally, Prentiss looked concerned. “Have you seen a doctor?”
“Yeah, a few. None of them have been able to figure it out.”
“Oh, I’m… sorry,” Prentiss said. “Does Emma or Paisley know?”
Reid shook his head. “Just you… and Adam…”
Prentiss nodded, and promised, “I won’t tell anyone.”
“I know,” Reid said honestly. “They’d just worry. Not that you’re not gonna worry, but they’ll just make me feel like a baby, you know?”
“How ‘bout you?” Reid asked, hoping that Prentiss might open up to him as well.
“I’m good,” she assured him.
“You’ve been picking your fingernails again,” Reid pointed out.
“You only do that when you’re stressed.”
“It’s just a bad habit.”
Reid gave up for the moment and turned back to his files. Wait. There it was.
“Aha!” Reid gathered his papers and stood quickly. “You comin’?”
Prentiss looked mildly surprised, but nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.”
Reid shrugged and went straight to Hotch and the rest of the team to tell them what he’d found: one number that both families had in common - and the ones who’d received calls from it were the European victims.
A short while later, Reid was analyzing a photo of one of the unsub’s wrists. The leader of the group had shot the wrist of the unsub to cover up a tattoo after Prentiss had shot his femoral artery. Prentiss and Morgan had been too late to save Byron Delaney, who had tried to warn the other two victims.
Whoever had shot the man’s wrist obviously didn’t know how skilled Reid was. It didn’t take him long to figure out.
“Got it.” Reid said, handing his sketch to Hotch. It was a four-leaf clover with a stem that ends in a V. The symbol of the Valhalla led them to the CWS - Clear Water Security.
Reid waited with Garcia and Seaver while the others met with the leaders of the CWS. When they returned, they had a name: Ian Doyle. Whoever he was, he’d been in prison for seven years, but he’d suddenly vanished a few weeks ago.
Hotch had Prentiss reach out to her contacts at Interpol and then sent her and Morgan to the house of the last victim.
Reid took the opportunity to call Emma. She answered before the first ring finished.
“How are you doing, Butterfly?”
“Great! I’m practicing my scales, and I’m almost ready to try the first piece.”
“Wonderful. Maybe you can play it for me when I get home?”
“I’d love to! But… are you still coming home tonight?”
Reid didn’t answer at first. “I’m not sure… This case is a lot more complicated than any of us expected.”
Reid hated hearing disappointment in Emma’s voice.
“Em? I’ll call you again tonight, okay?”
“Okay, Daddy. I’m going to keep practicing.”
“Good, we should do a piece together sometime.”
That cheered her up a little. “Yeah, when I get better.”
“Love you, Butterfly.”
“Love you, too, Daddy.”
Reid sighed as he hung up.
“Everything okay?” Seaver asked.
“I hate disappointing her…” Reid admitted.
“That’s normal.” Seaver said. “She’s your child and you’re her hero. Of course you don’t want to be the reason she’s upset.”
Reid smiled. “Thanks, Ashley.”
“Saying I’m normal.”