Author's Note: Hey everybody! I was waiting until I had the frist two chapters of this fic done, but I'm posting this first one early at the request of readergirlreads. I know it doesn't seem like much of a Casefic based off this first chapter, but trust me - once you read the next chapter you'll see that's exactly what it is. This little bit here is just what I like to call a 'bookend chapter.'
Just FYI: This is actually the first story in a very lengthy series I have planned.
The six field members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Behavioral Analysis Unit silently filed into their headquarters at Quantico, emotionally drained from their most recent case. They had successfully tracked down a serial killer who had been targeting single mothers, but not before he managed to take his last victim: a twenty-three year old woman who left behind a three year old son and a six month old daughter.
"Everyone go home and get some rest," Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner ordered the rest of his team, running a hand over his tired face as he headed toward his office. "We did our best. Even though we didn't find him in time, we still managed to get him off the streets."
"Anyone else hungry?" asked Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid, still standing on the edge of the bullpen with his hands in his pockets as the others moved to their personal areas to gather files and various other items to take home for the night.
"How can you even think about food at a time like this?" replied SSA Emily Prentiss, head cocked slightly to one side as she eyed him in disbelief. Normally, she was the one who was accused of being abnormally devoid of emotion following their cases. This time it was different, however. She had promised that little boy his mother would be coming home safely, and then she had to tell him that she'd never be coming home again. The look in his tear-filled eyes was something she knew was likely going to haunt her dreams for months to come.
"I'm sorry, but I haven't eaten all day," Reid apologized.
"I think I'm going to pass," Prentiss told him, as politely as she could, then returned to gathering the paperwork on her desk.
"I'm going to take a pass, as well," SSA David Rossi echoed as he wearily climbed up the stairs leading to his private office. "It's been a long day. All I want to do right now is go home and relax."
"I just want to go home and spend some time with Henry," said Jennifer Jareau, the team's press liaison. As a young mother, the case had hit home particularly hard for her. She couldn't imagine what it would be like for those children, having to grow up without a mother or a father, and she thanked God that Will was around as much as he was for their son.
"Morgan?" Reid said hopefully, turning to the man he often regarded as a sort of older brother within the group. "My treat."
"Sorry, kid," SSA Derek Morgan replied, grinning lazily as he stuffed his cell phone into his back pocket. "I got a date tonight with this sweet little honey I met last week."
"Would that be the masseuse or the flight attendant?" Prentiss asked, playfully teasing Morgan for his reputation as a ladies' man. Morgan chuckled good-naturedly and shook his head, then bade the rest of the team good night as he grabbed his leather jacket off the back of his chair and took off in the direction of the elevator.
"Speaking of dates," Hotchner said as he stepped back out of his office, brief case in hand, "I have one with my son. Good night, everybody!" He jogged a bit to catch the elevator before the doors closed behind Morgan, and Reid looked about helplessly as everyone else quickly filed out of the bullpen around him and made their own way home. As a last-ditch effort, he made his way to the technical suite of Penelope Garcia, hoping that the bubbly computer goddess would be willing to keep him company so he wouldn't have to dine alone. He may not have shown it as easily as the others, but the case had gotten to him, too, and he really needed to go out and try to not think about it too much.
"Whatever you're going to ask me, I can't," she responded before he could even finish his sentence. "I have an online tournament to attend."
"Oh," Reid said, trying not to sound too disappointed.
"Sorry, Boy Genius," Garcia apologized, turning away from her multitude of screens to grace him with with a friendly smile. "Rain check. Promise."
"Sure," Reid agreed, nodding once as a slightly strained smile crossed his lips. He quietly wished her good luck with her game and exited the room, closing the door behind him.
It wasn't that he wasn't used to having to go out by himself. Of all the members of the BAU, he was the one with the least amount of a social life. His private time was spent mostly reading and studying or working on writing his daily letters that he sent to his mother. On the rare occasions he went out with someone other than himself, it was always with at least one of the members of his team – usually Morgan, who often took the younger man under his wing and tried his best to get him 'hooked up with something sweet for the night.' Reid always protested this, telling his friend that he wasn't the type of guy to just have a fling, and Morgan always laughed and told him he needed to loosen up and just have fun and enjoy the beauties life had to offer.
Reid continued contemplating his solitary life as he rode the Washington Metro back into the city. He was almost twenty-eight years old, and had yet to have an actual girlfriend. Sure, he'd been on a date or two in his life, but most women found him too awkward or strange to deal with him for more than a night. He attributed his lack of finesse in dealing with the opposite sex to the fact that he'd grown up so fast. After all, by the time he was actually starting to become interested in girls, he was working on his first college degree, and women in their late teens and early twenties generally weren't interested in thirteen year old boys.
For the most part, being alone didn't bother him. He'd spent the majority of his life with no friends, alienated from other children by his intelligence and his mother's mental illness – which forced him to take care of her more than she took care of him, most of the time. It wasn't until he had started working for the F.B.I. that he began having personal relationships with people other than his mother.
It all began with Jason Gideon, his former mentor and the man responsible for bringing him into the BAU in spite of his lack of experience in the field of law enforcement. Gideon had been like a father to him, filling the void his own father had left after taking off when he had only been ten years old. Then he had abandoned him, too. But Reid didn't resent Gideon the same way he did his father. He knew he had his reasons for leaving the way he did, and he had learned to accept it, even if he didn't exactly approve of how he had just run away from everything.
Then there was Morgan, who treated Reid like his kid brother. Morgan had a habit of teasing him that sometimes bordered on bullying, but he knew it was all just good-natured fun. When it mattered, though, Morgan was there for him. Reid knew that if he ever needed a friend, Morgan was the one he could count on. After all, Morgan had been the one he confided in about his nightmares and he was still the only person who knew about the time he had been bullied by the high school football team. He just wished that the man would stop trying to force him to hook up with women every time they went out. For as well as Morgan knew him, he still couldn't understand Reid's need for an intellectual connection with a woman.
JJ was another member of the team that he was particularly close with. The two of them had actually gone out on a date, once. That had all been Gideon's doing, after he gave Reid those VIP tickets to a Redskins game for his birthday. The date itself had been incredibly awkward, and Reid knew even before halftime that they were better off as just friends. She had given him a kiss on th cheek when he took her home, thanking him for taking her to the game, and while he still had a bit of a crush on her, he was okay with the fact that she didn't see him as more than just a good friend. He'd been a bit surprised when she asked him to be her son's godfather, but had happily accepted the responsibility because of their friendship.
As for the others: Hotch was a good boss and Reid respected him. He had been stern with Reid on a few occasions, but Reid knew it was only because he cared about the team and its members and didn't want anything to happen to get his people hurt or break up the group. Garcia was almost like a female version of Morgan, often teasing him and coming up with quirky nicknames for him, but unlike Morgan she knew better than to try to force him into social situations he was uncomfortable with. Rossi was Gideon's replacement on the team, but he hadn't taken his place in Reid's life. While Reid did respect the man for being one of the very first profilers in the F.B.I., Rossi was just a bit too self-centered to become the father figure he had lost when Gideon left. And Prentiss... They got along well enough, but he felt a bit guilty for how badly he had treated her when she was a new member of the team. Granted, that had largely been the dilaudid's fault, but he still felt bad for the way he had acted toward her. Especially since she had never been anything but nice to him.
Reid sighed a bit as he followed the rest of the commuters off the subway, the majority of his attention fixed on the ground before him. He knew if Morgan was with him at that moment that he would be hearing a lecture about how he needs to look around in order to see all the beautiful women life has to offer, but he wasn't looking to draw attention to himself. He just wanted to go get some dinner and then head home and write to his mother about their last case.
In spite of what Prentiss and the others might have thought, he had been just as affected by the murders as they were. He actually felt like he could identify with the surviving children, in a way. They were all going to be on their own from now on, dealing with the things life threw at them by themselves. JJ and Prentiss had been optimistic, assuming the children would easily be adopted into nice families, but he knew the statistics. It was far more likely that they would end up being bounced from one foster home to the next for at least a few years. The luckier ones would be adopted, while the rest would get lost in the system until they came of age. Unlike him, though, they were innocent children. They didn't know the things he did when he was their age, and they didn't have the skills to take care of themselves like he had been forced to for most of his childhood. It was sad, but he knew that the majority of those kids would remain orphans and that some of them might even develop the psychological earmarks of any of a variety of psychoses. In ten or fifteen years, one or more of them might very well be an UnSub in one of the B.A.U.'s cases.
Reid finally looked up as he turned onto his block, checking the traffic before lightly jogging across the street. The new restaurant he was dying to try out was actually just down the street from his apartment building, he simply hadn't had the time in his busy schedule to go there. One of the local papers had featured a review of the place a week ago, and that had solidified his decision to go there as soon as he possibly could. The review had been glowing, telling of an authentic French bistro that made you feel like you were actually dining in Paris instead of in the middle of downtown D.C., citing the food as well as the atmosphere for creating the perfect experience for someone looking to get away from the stress of living in the city... And Reid certainly needed an escape right now, even if it was only for an hour or two. As he opened the door of the front entrance he noticed the liquor license displayed prominently in the window and said a silent word of praise to whatever higher power existed. He normally wasn't a big drinker, but he was very much in need of a drink.
Upon stepping into the entryway of the restaurant, he was awestruck – not just by how authentic the place really seemed, but by the massive crowd standing around waiting to be seated. It was just after 8:30 on a Wednesday night. The last thing he had expected to find when he arrived was that he would have to wait for a table, much less waiting in a room full of people. Once again he mentally thanked his lucky stars for not being claustrophobic as he slowly made his way to the hostess, quietly excusing himself as he brushed past several of the other waiting patrons, holding his trusty messenger bag close to his body so he didn't accidentally hit someone with it.
"Bonjour, monsieur," came the greeting of the hostess – a bubbly, bleach-blonde girl wearing a navy blue beret and speaking with a heavy, fake French accent. "Welcome to La Tour de Paris. How many in your party?"
"Um... Just one," Reid answered, smiling a bit awkwardly in an attempt to be polite.
"Name?" the girl asked, making a notation on the reservation sheet sitting on the podium before her.
"Reid," he replied, adjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder.
"It's going to be a forty-five minute wait," she informed him, and Reid nodded and thanked her for the information before making his way back through the crowd, looking for someplace where he could be out of the way while he waited for a table to open up.
He finally found an empty spot against the wall, near the front window, and looked over the rest of the crowd. There were a few small groups, mostly made up of women who were likely having a 'girls' night out,' but the majority of those waiting to be seated were young couples. Reid shifted a bit on his feet, suddenly feeling even more awkward about being there alone.
"Would you like to sit down?"
Reid turned his head, blinking a bit as he focused on the source of the question. Situated against the wall next to him was a bench, and upon that bench sat a woman roughly his age, with chocolate brown hair and dark blue eyes. She smiled politely at him, moving a black bag from the spot next to her on the bench and setting it on the floor under her feet.
"Would you like to sit down?" she asked him again, her voice clearly audible even over the din of the various conversations going on around them. Reid once again blinked in surprise at the question, looking around to make sure she wasn't addressing someone else standing near him. When he returned his attention to her, she smiled at him again and slid over a bit on the bench to give him ample room to sit.
"Thanks," he told her as he took a seat by her, balancing his bag in his lap and tucking a loose strand of his brown hair behind one ear. She nodded in reply and returned her attention to the book in her hands, and Reid couldn't help himself from looking over her shoulder to see what she was reading.
"Is that a biography of Lord Byron?" he asked, drawing her attention back to him. He blushed a bit, muttering an apology for being so nosy, but she didn't seem to mind.
"He's one of my favorite poets," she told him, nodding and smiling at his awkward behavior.
"She walks in beauty, like the night," Reid began reciting from memory, "of cloudless climes and starry skies; and all that's best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus-"
"Thus mellow'd to that tender light which heaven to gaudy day denies," she finished the stanza of the poem as she closed her book and turned more fully toward him. "I'm impressed. Not many men can quote Byron from memory."
"I have an eidetic memory," he explained to her. "Once I read something, it's there pretty much forever. Did you know that while Byron has a plaque in the floor of Westminster Abbey, like many other famous Britons, his body is actually buried in his family's plot at Hucknall Torkard, near Newstead Abbey? His lifestyle and his works were considered so controversial that neither Wesminster nor St. Paul's Cathedral were willing to place his body on their grounds."
"I knew that," she told him, nodding slowly.
"Did you also know that Byron had his name legally changed? His mother-in-law stipulated in her will that in order for him to inherit his half of her estate after her death, he had to take the name Noel. So from that day forward, he was known as Lord Noel Byron."
"Now that I did not know," she replied, looking impressed with the depth of his knowledge on the subject.
She looked at him for a long moment, her eyes moving over him subtly as if she was mentally sizing him up. Reid also took the opportunity to examine her more closely. She was dressed casually, but her clothes were nice: A white, lace-trimmed tank top under a dark blue suede jacket that brought out the color of her eyes, paired with a black skirt that stopped just above her knees and a pair of brown suede knee-high boots. The contrast of her berry-tinted lips and dark hair with her fair skin reminded Reid of Snow White from the Disney movie he had seen as a child. The thought made him smile a bit, and then she extended her right hand toward him.
"Analia Krajewski," she introduced herself. "Everyone calls me Ana." Reid took her hand, giving it a friendly shake, and found himself stumbling over his own words.
"I'm Reid... Doctor, um... Spencer..." He paused and cleared his throat a bit before trying again, "Doctor Spencer Reid," he finally managed to blurt out. "You can call me Spencer, if you like."
"It's nice to meet you, Spencer," she told him, laughing a little at his nervousness. It wasn't a contemptuous sound, but one that displayed a sense of flattery, and Reid found himself smiling as he released her hand and ran his fingers back through his hair, licking his lips while his mind raced, searching for something to say to make the moment less awkward.
"Are you here alone?" Ana asked him, her head cocked slightly to the side. Reid nodded, still not quite trusting his voice to come out without stuttering. "I find that hard to believe."
"Huh?" Reid asked, laughing nervously.
"You're a handsome guy, and smart, too," she pointed out to him. "So why are you here alone?"
"I uh... don't do very well with the ladies," he admitted with an embarrassed grin.
"Look," she said, setting her book next to her before turning so that she was sitting sideways on the bench, her right leg pulled up slightly onto the seat. "I've been waiting here for over half an hour now. Why don't you join me for dinner? That way, I'll save you the pain of having to wait for a table, and you'll save me from having to eat alone."
Reid blinked and nodded slightly.
"S-sure," he answered, nodding a bit more fervently. "Sounds like a plan."
Ana stood up to make her way over to the hostess and Reid suddenly had a thought, reaching out to grab her wrist and halt her in her tracks. She turned to look at him and he let go of her hand, quietly apologizing for his actions.
"Something wrong?" she asked, stepping back toward him. Reid looked up at her, swallowing nervously, and leaned closer, lowering her voice to be discrete.
"You're not a prostitute, are you?" he asked meekly, earning a confused look from Ana.
"Do I look like a prostitute?" she asked, raising an eyebrow and looking down at her outfit.
"N-no," Reid stuttered, feeling a blush rise in his cheeks. "It-it's just that, well... every woman who's ever, you know... hit on me has been a um..."
"A hooker?" she asked, her voice holding a note of playfulness.
"Yeah," he replied, then quickly began to ramble. "I mean, you don't really strike me as that type of girl, but you never know and with my track record when it comes to those types of women, well... I had to ask."
"No, I'm not a prostitute," she assured him with a smile.
"Okay, then," Reid said with a nod and an awkward smile.
Ana smiled back and then turned around, continuing back through the crowd to the hostess. Reid watched as she spoke to the girl, looking over the reservation list and pointing to something. The hostess nodded and crossed something off – likely his name – then made a notation on her list before looking back up at Ana and nodding with a smile. Ana turned and began making her way back over toward him, giving him a wink.
"Krajewski?" the hostess called when she was about halfway across the lobby. Ana waved for Reid to come to her and he stood from his seat, bending down momentarily to grab her book from the bench and her bag from its place on the floor, then he crossed the room to meet her, handing her things to her.
"Thanks," she said with a smile as he handed her belongings back to her. "See? I knew you'd get in faster this way."
Reid smiled a bit and followed her as she made her way back over to the hostess, who directed them to follow a waitress to their table. He remained silent as he continued following Ana and the waitress, hanging back several steps with his hands shoved awkwardly in his pockets. He'd been too nervous to realize it before, but he had more or less just been asked out on a date by a woman he just met. Of course, it didn't really feel like a date. It felt like what it really was: Two people who happened to meet somewhere deciding to share a table at a restaurant so they wouldn't have to be alone. He had no reason to be nervous, but still he was. He attributed it to the fact that he wasn't used to being approached by an attractive woman – or by any women, really – and asked to join them for dinner.
Reid blinked, refocusing his attention on his current surroundings, and found that Ana was already seated at their table, looking at him expectantly. He smiled a bit sheepishly, and set his bag down before taking the seat across from her. The waitress handed them each a menu and then gave him a wine list. Reid looked confused and Ana did her best to keep from laughing as she thanked the waitress, who poured them each a glass of water before leaving them to make their decisions.
"Why did she give me this?" Reid asked once the waitress had left, holding up the wine list.
"Because," Ana replied, reaching across the table and taking the list from him, "when a man and a woman go out on a date, it's generally the man who orders the wine."
"But we're not on a date," Reid said, as much to reiterate the point to himself as to argue the logic of their waitress.
"You know that, and I know that, but she doesn't know that," Ana told him, pointing to the young woman who was now taking the order of a couple seated nearby before returning her attention to the list in her hands. "So... Red or white?"
"Excuse me?" Reid asked.
"Red or white?" Ana asked, looking up from the list as she repeated the question.
"Um... whatever you like is fine," he told her. "I don't really have a preference."
Ana nodded and went back to studying the wine list, and Reid began browsing the menu. He had been starving when he first arrived at the restaurant, but now he felt like his stomach was tying itself into knots and he was sure it had everything to do with the woman sitting across from him. He surreptitiously peeked at her over the top of his menu and found her looking at her own menu with her head tilted slightly to one side, rolling the corner of her bottom lip between her teeth. It wasn't until she caught him staring at her and a light blush crossed her cheeks that he realized she was actually a bit nervous, as well.
"So, have you come here before?" he asked, trying to break the awkward silence that had settled between them.
"Three times," Ana replied with a nod. "I love it here. I've always wanted to go to Paris, and this place feels just like what I imagine it would be like in a little bistro on the Champs-Élysées. You?"
"This is my first time here," he told her. "I've been meaning to come by, but I've been pretty busy with work lately."
"What's your specialty?"
"Specialty?" he echoed, confused for a moment before it registered that he had introduced himself to her as 'Doctor Reid'. "Oh... I'm not an M.D., I'm a Ph.D."
"Well what are you a doctor of then?" she asked him, her tone bordering on flirtatious.
"Mathematics, chemistry, and engineering," he informed her, earning a disbelieving look.
"Either you're a lot older than you look, or you're a genius," she commented. "I'm going to go with the latter, since you said you have an eidetic memory."
Reid nodded, laughing a little as a boyish smile graced his lips. "I also have an I.Q. of 187 and I can read 20,000 words a minute."
"Wow..." Ana said in a breathy voice, shaking her head slightly. "I can't even begin to imagine being able to read that fast. I mean, you must go through books like that." She snapped her fingers to accentuate her point, and Reid laughed again.
"It comes in handy sometimes," he told her.
"So what is it that you do, then?" she asked, lifting her glass of water and taking a sip as she continued watching him, clearly interested in everything he was saying. "Some sort of nuclear astrophysics thing?"
"I work for the F.B.I., actually," Reid replied, closing his menu and setting it aside as he toyed with the base of his own water glass. "I'm in the Behavioral Analysis Unit."
"Tell me how someone with doctorate degrees in maths and sciences goes on to become a profiler for the F.B.I.?" she wondered out loud, tracing the rim of her glass with her finger.
"I also have bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology," he told her. "Just about finished with one in philosophy, too."
"Me, too," Ana told him a bit cheerfully. "Well, not the sociology and philosophy, but the psychology part. Northwestern University, class of '04," she added, raising her glass in a salute to her alma matter.
"So you're... Twenty-six, twenty-seven, now?" Reid questioned her.
"A woman never reveals her true age, Dr. Reid," she told him in a teasing voice. "However, I might be persuaded if you were to divulge said information first."
"A little tit for tat?" Reid asked, his voice taking on a playfulness of its own. The longer he spent sitting and talking with her, the more at ease he felt himself becoming around her. It was a nice change of pace, he thought, having someone to talk to who wasn't one of his co-workers, and he felt glad he had decided to take her up on the offer to join her.
"I have always thought that phrase sounded rather dirty," Ana said with a laugh, causing him to blush. "Maybe you've got dessert on the brain right now, rather than dinner."
She was obviously hitting on him now, and Reid had no idea how to react. Morgan would have had a smooth comeback for a line like that, but his experience with women was so horribly limited that all he could do was sputter and flounder for the right words to say as his face burned scarlet. Luckily, the waitress came back to their table and saved him from having to attempt to reply to the comment. Ana placed her order and also asked for a bottle of the '91 Merlot to be brought to their table, then she watched him out of the corner of her eye as he ordered, her lips curved upward ever so slightly into a small smirk. She knew she had gotten him completely flustered with her last comment, and she appeared to be enjoying it.
"Twenty-seven," Reid said once the waitress had taken their menus and went to put in their orders, answering her previous question about his age in an attempt to steer the conversation away from the direction it had previously been heading.
"I'll be twenty-seven in August," she told him, resting her forearms on the table and leaning toward him, lowering her voice. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable before. I can be a bit of a flirt, sometimes."
"It's okay," he assured her, giving her a small smile. She seemed genuinely apologetic for the discomfort she had caused him, and he appreciated that she would make an effort to try to help him feel less awkward.
"So what is it that you do, Ana?" he asked her, doing his best to keep their conversation light and casual.
"I'm a photographer." Reid's eyes went a bit wider with surprise and she laughed. "Go ahead, ask me."
"Ask you what?"
"What is someone with a degree in psychology doing working as a photographer?" Ana said, sounding like it was a question she had been asked numerous times.
"It's not my place to wonder that sort of thing, really," Reid replied. "After all, you said so yourself: I hold doctorates in three fields completely unrelated to my line of work."
"I was going to be a counselor," she informed him, "probably for battered women or something like that, but I took a photography class as an elective my junior year and I fell in love with it. So I took more classes and after I graduated, I moved out here to D.C. and I started up my own studio."
"I really had no aspirations of joining the F.B.I. when I was younger," Reid told her, shaking his head to accentuate the point. "So believe me when I say I know what it's like to end up going a completely different direction than the one you've been preparing for."
"That's what tends to happen when you find something you're good at and passionate about," Ana remarked with a smile.
"You must be pretty good, to own your own studio," Reid commented.
"I do mostly freelance work," she told him. "A friend actually helped me get my studio started when I first came here, but after a few assignments and some positive word-of-mouth, I've secured some very nice contracts."
"Such as?" he asked, interested to hear about someone's job that didn't have to do with tracking down serial killers.
"I cover Fashion Week in New York City every year," she replied. "Actually, I do most of my work in fashion. I get a lot of east-coast designers calling me, asking me to shoot their collections. Probably the second most popular request I get is for personal portraits. You'd be surprised just how vain people can be in this city."
"Not really," Reid told her with a slight chuckle. "D.C. is a town full of politicians, after all."
Ana laughed at his comment, and Reid smiled. She had a nice laugh, and the sound of it helped him to relax, which was what he had set out to do in the first place.
"Excuse me," the waitress said as she approached their table, carrying two empty glasses and a bottle of wine. She placed a glass before each of them, then uncorked the bottle and poured some into their glasses for them before setting the rest of the bottle on the table and giving them a friendly smile as she took her leave once more.
"So do you enjoy your job?" Ana asked as she took a sip of her wine, looking at Reid over the rim of her glass.
"Most of the time, yeah," he told her, swirling the wine in his own glass around and around as he stared at the rich, burgundy liquid.
"Sounds like you had a bad day at the office," she remarked sympathetically, setting her glass down and giving him her undivided attention. "You want to talk about it?"
Reid hesitated a moment, then he started to tell her about their last case. The more he said, the easier it became to talk about it. She didn't say anything at all, she simply let him talk, nodding slightly every now and then as she listened. At one point, she reached out and put her hand on his in a gesture meant to offer him comfort and emotional support. Reid paused in his speaking, looking down at her hand on his, and she pulled it away, apologizing. He really hadn't minded it, though. Normally, whenever a woman touched him, even casually, he turned into a flustered, stuttering mess. Something about Ana was different, though. He supposed he felt more at ease around her because she hadn't treated him like other women always did. She hadn't balked at the way he had rattled off those random facts about Byron or acted like he was some sort of a freak because he held three advanced degrees despite not even being thirty years old yet. On the contrary, she had seemed even more interested in him, and she was even impressed by his knowledge and intelligence. Not even his initial awkwardness had turned her off. If anything, she seemed to find it endearing.
"Spencer, listen to me," she said to him, folding her arms on the table in front of her and leaning toward him, her dark blue eyes eyes holding his hazel ones. "I'm sure you've probably heard this before, but I'm going to tell you again: You can't save them all. You did everything in your power to stop that monster, and you did it. Maybe you couldn't stop him from hurting that woman, but you've stopped him from hurting so many others. If it wasn't for you, and for the rest of the people on your team, he'd still be out there. Then more women would have died and more children would have been orphaned. So try not to think about the ones you couldn't save, okay? Think about all the others who are going to live now, thanks to you."
Reid smiled a bit sadly and nodded as he quietly thanked her, his eyes downcast. The entire speech, while absolutely true, reminded him so much of something Gideon had once told him, after he had first started having nightmares about the job. He had told him to focus on the people they saved rather than the victims, as well, but Ana had taken it a step further and told him to think of all the potential victims that were safe because of the predators he had helped to put away. In all his years at the BAU, he had never really thought of it like that, before.
"You feel better now?" she asked, leaning over to the side so she could catch his eye once more. Reid nodded again and she also nodded. "If not, you can talk about it all you want. I'm a good listener."
"I think I'm good now, thanks," he told her sincerely, smiling. She smiled back at him and sat up as the waitress brought their meals, her eyes never leaving his. For a moment, Reid felt a bit vulnerable, as if maybe she could see into his very soul, but that sensation was soon replaced by an almost electric feeling running up his spine as Ana's smile turned a bit coy and she finally averted her eyes as her cheeks became tinged pink. He wondered what had caused her to go so suddenly from being confident to seeming shy, but she cleared her throat and returned her gaze to his, reaching for her glass of wine and taking a sip.
"So, tell me about the other members of your team," she requested, once again flashing him a flirtatious smile.
They spent the next hour and a half talking over dinner, Reid telling her about his co-workers and some of their more outrageous exploits, such as the time Morgan hit on a woman at a club without realizing she was really a man in drag. In return, Ana told him all about her assistant at the studio, a woman named Janine who had helped her finance her business when she first got started, in addition to giving her a place to stay when she moved to D.C. from Illinois. From the way Ana described their relationship, it sounded almost like his own relationship with Morgan. Janine appeared to see Ana as a sort of younger sister, helping her out in any way she could whenever Ana needed her. Reid asked Ana if Janine had ever tried to set her up with a man, and she admitted to agreeing to one blind date set up by her friend, after which she promised Janine that if she ever tried to set her up on another blind date again, she would get the guy drunk and then leave him passed out on her doorstep wearing nothing but his underwear – which likely wouldn't go over well with Janine's husband, Jake.
By the time they were ready to leave, it was almost 11:00, and the restaurant was in the process of closing down for the night. Reid tried to pay for her dinner, saying that he wanted to thank her for keeping him company when he really needed it, but she would hear nothing of it, insisting they split the check. He walked side-by-side with Ana to the entrance, hesitating after they stepped outside into the cool night air, unsure what he should say or do in their situation.
"Well, I'm a few blocks over," she told him, hooking her thumb over her shoulder in the opposite direction of his own apartment.
"I'm just down the street," he replied, pointing toward his building.
"It certainly was a pleasure meeting you, Dr. Spencer Reid," she said, holding out her hand to him. He took her hand and shook it slowly, hanging on just a little bit longer than her probably should before letting go. "Take care of yourself, okay?"
"You too, Ana," he told her, nodding a bit.
She hesitated a moment, biting her bottom lip, then smiled at him and turned around, walking in the direction of her apartment. Reid stood there a bit longer, watching her walk away and wondering if he'd ever see her again. He thought about going after her, but changed his mind a moment later. Relationships didn't exactly have the best track record of working out for BAU members, after all. Sighing a bit, he turned on his heel and made his way home, his hands once more shoved in his pockets and his eyes glued to the pavement as he walked alone.