Chapter Two

Across the Universe

The Beatles

The team settled into the private jet, laughing and talking amongst themselves. Riley followed slowly, stomach rolling all over again. She hated planes. Hated flying. At the end of the tarmac, she paused, like her feet didn't want to take that last step. But she also knew that the longer she stood there the more likely it was for the team to realize her anxiety. She didn't want to seem weak to them or they may not trust her judgment later.

Quickly she stepped forward, pulling her case to her chest and catching up to Reid, who walked at the back of the line. The breath caught in her chest when she almost ran into him and he turned those dark eyes down to her.

"Are you ok?" He asked quietly, his brow furrowed in curiosity.

"Yeah…yeah I'm fine." The words fell from her lips with no certainty but by the time she realized how she had said it, it was too late to change her inflection. Reid had turned to face her and she tried to face a smile. It wasn't convincing.

"One in three Americans is afraid to fly and usually it has something to do with a deep routed anxiety disorder. Most people feel like they are not in control and it serves as a stressor to that anxiety." He stated matter of fact.

Riley just stared at him for a moment, rolling over what he said in her head before choosing a response that would help explain a little more of her situation. "If you're suggesting I have an issue not being in control you're wrong. I am not controlling, or I wouldn't be in the line of work I'm in." A small grin, this time real, showed him that she was joking. "Look, I'm not super claustrophobic, and I'm not afraid of the dark," She noticed he shifted his weight a little. "Or of heights…I'm a barophobic."

"Afraid of falling?" He knew the definition but he still seemed a little confused. Maybe he wasn't really confused, maybe he was just asking so that he could fully understand what she meant by it. She was certain he knew the definition. But how it related to her, maybe he was just curious as to why she was afraid of falling.

"Yeah. Flying isn't really dangerous, crashing is and falling is an inherent part of that." Riley took a seat and Reid nodded. He understood now and went to take his place with his colleagues. His friends. She sat on the couch and tried not to look at them. Instead she opened the case and sifted through files that she had all but memorized. She tried not to look at Reid when he sat down beside her. The plane had started moving and her anxiety level was spiking. He was sitting way too close. It didn't help.

"You know this inside and out by now I'm sure. I'll take a look. You get some rest." Pale hand reached out to take the files. Riley hesitated, and then handed them over. "Sometimes sleeping helps with the anxiety." He was trying to help her. Her blue eyes met his and she knew she had nothing to fear from him. His hushed tone indicated that he was still the only one on the plane that knew her fear of falling and that in some respect he understood why she didn't want the others to know.

Riley handed over the case file and in the transaction her hand was put into a fist and his encompassed her own. It was time for her to look confused. "It's not mine. It's a sort of back up that Garcia filled with everyone's favorite songs." He grinned at her and squeezed her hand before standing and taking the files over to the table for his team to discuss. She faintly heard him say that she just needed some rest and the others agreed and nodded without question. Morgan gave him a strange but knowing smile and Riley got the feeling that Morgan was turning Reid's kindness into some sort of flirting.

For now she would ignore it, taking it as a sort of joking that would be between brothers. This whole team seemed more like family than co-workings the way they joked and interacted. Riley was an outsider. But then what had he placed in her hand? The fingers unfolded to reveal an MP3 player and some earbuds. To help her sleep? She looked at him again, this time with kindness. But he did not look back at her.

With the earbuds firmly in place she pushed play and closed her eyes, leaning against the wall and trying to relax as she felt the plane take off. Her hand closed tightly around the MP3 player as the first song started.

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away
Across the universe

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

It was oddly relaxing and Riley started thinking about the lyrics, concentrating on them, but only loosely. Rolling them around in her mind like a delicate ball. So many meanings.

Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe

Thoughts meander like a restless wind
Inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way
Across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

The dreams began from her thoughts. Shifting her seamlessly between reality and fantasy. The made-up scenarios of her subconscious that rarely made sense.

Sounds of laughter shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me

Limitless undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva