Riley tried to rest on the flight home, her legs stretched out across the couch and her head back against the wall. Soothing music was playing over her headset from an MP3 player Reid kept on the jet just for her. Thoughts of the case kept her preoccupied enough to distract her from the light turbulence, for now anyway. The BAU had left shortly after sunset and now they flew home in near silence, Morgan and JJ sleeping quietly while Hotch and Rossi chatted quietly over some whiskey, while Reid took one last look over the case files. He hadn't approached her since they left the torture chamber so she assumed he was still stewing over whatever had been bothering him and therefor made the decision to let him be.
They had stayed long after the raid, filling out paperwork and waiting for the Sheriff to come out of surgery. The doctors hadn't seen anything like it before but they were able to patch him up after several hours of stitching up his wounds. He was expected to make a full recovery.
Several graves had been exhumed and urns were being dug up by the time they left, but with the sun setting and temperature dropping, the local officers had to call it quits for the day. They were certain that there was enough evidence to convict the Elders several times over.
Meanwhile, many of the children were being prepared for foster homes. It was the children that Riley couldn't stop thinking about. Hotch had gently assured her that they would be taken care of, but she didn't believe him. There was no way for him to know how their lives would be but she held her tongue because she knew he was aware of that fact. As a father, he wanted to make it alright, so Riley dropped the subject with him.
Still she couldn't stop thinking about them. When they first arrived and started piecing the puzzle together, she wanted noting more than to free the children from the life they were being raised in, but now that everything was over she wondered if it was the right thing to do. Of course their leaders had been men unfit to lead, more concerned with keeping their people cut off from the outside world than their well being, but what kind of lives would the children lead now? Even then parents were being forced out into a world they knew nothing about. They would have to try and catch up with over a century of civilization in a matter of months to survive. They would be plunged into a world of corruption, lust, and greed, the likes they had never seen.
Riley's thoughts broke away from the people of the compound when her legs were lifted and Reid sat on the other end of the couch, her feet in his lap. Her eyes snapped open and she removed her headphones, muttering an apology as she started to pull her feet back to give him room, but he gently grabbed her leg and kept her in place.
"Stay still." He said quietly as he removed her shoe and exposed her ankle. The throbbing had subsided a bit but it was still painful and swollen from bruising. He pressed gingerly, apologizing when she grimaced. "Let me just wrap this." He said, almost absently as he pulled bandages from a first aid kit.
Carefully he tended to her ankle and she watched him, wanting to say something, but being unsure of how to start. It seemed all the hours of conversation had all been a dream and an awkward tension set in between them.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you back there. I was in pain and I just wanted to see it through to the end." She began, allowing silence to follow.
"It's alright. I'm really the one that owes you an apology." He replied, wrapping more slowly now, as if he was using the action to stall. "I know my reasoning wasn't all logical. I let my..." He paused, trying to think of the right word. "my insecurities, get the best of me. See, I kept having these dreams that we lost touch with each other and when I found you again you were married to a terrible person and you had a son that you named after me. In my dreams, your husband beat you and…. And he killed you and took off with the child and I couldn't save you." He said in a hushed tone, trying to keep his voice level. He didn't want the others to hear their conversation. What he had to say should only be kept between them and if he was in a position to speak to her privately, he would. "You were behaving differently than normal and I thought..."
"You thought I was slipping away." Riley finished. He nodded in silent affirmation.
"Every night the dreams got worse and then when I found out why you'd changed, I was angry. I felt like you could have spared me if you'd just told me what was going on."
"Spencer, I didn't mean to upset you. I just wanted it to be a surprise. I don't understand why you feel so insecure, I'm not going anywhere. I thought I'd made that clear."
"I know, I know." Reid sighed, his hands resting on her bandaged ankle. "Riley… I know I haven't been very open with you about how I feel." He slid closer, her knees over his lap now. One more look around and he returned his gaze to her. "I care about you. A lot. A part of me feels so guilty about that. Maeve died. Right there in front of me, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. Shes's gone and I'm moving on. How's that fair?"
"Spencer..." Riley took his hand in hers and pulled it to her lap. "I know you loved her. I'm not asking you to forget her, I'm really not. I can't replace her and I know that. I don't want to. I just want you to understand that I'm not leaving. Would I have gone through all this trouble if I was leaving you behind?" She asked, trying to keep her voice from breaking. It would be so easy for her to tell him she loved him. Too easy. But it wouldn't change anything. It had been almost two years since Maeve's death and it hurt her to know that he still wasn't ready. Sometimes she wondered if he ever would be, but then she remembered what she told him when they had been abducted; that no one else could decide for him the right amount of time to grieve. If she went back on that now, it might push him back behind his wall again.
"No. I'm sorry I doubted you." He swallowed hard, rolling her hand over in his, he traced the lines of her palm with his thumb. Touching her was so strange. Since the beginning it had felt natural and even now he felt to shame in the action, no fear of her withdrawal.
Riley watched him as he traced the lines of her palm, his dark eyes seemed to be in a far off place. "So… what about the other night? You really scared me calling like that. Did you have a nightmare then too?"
Reid inhaled deeply before answering her. "Yeah. In that dream, I woke to the sound of drums. We were in a cabin and people were banging at the door. They broke in and dragged you away to burn you at the stake." He shook his head. "But when we were on the platform, Bishop turned into Tucker Hill."
Riley could see what was going in here. "Spencer… I think you're living too much in the past. What happened to us, it was hell. But it wasn't your fault. You did what you had to do and because of that, we're both alive. You can't keep doing this to yourself." She said, but he didn't respond. He just keep looking at her hand, his mind somewhere far off. "Why don't you get some rest? You look really tired." She suggested, though she wasn't ready for him to go yet.
"No, I'm okay. I should sleep well when I get home. Those movers are probably done by now." He said, his voice tainted with relief.
"Movers?" She asked.
"Yeah, I guess someone's moving into the apartment above me and the movers have been coming in at all hours setting things up. And I think the new tenant has a dog..." He muttered.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. He wasn't barking was he?" She asked, genuinely concerned.
"Well, no, I just…. Saw him downstairs in the lobby with some of the movers." Reid answered, confused.
"I promise he's a good boy, he won't be any trouble." Riley said with a grin, watching Reid piece the puzzle together in his head.
"That's right." She held out her hand to shake his. "Hi, I'm Riley Palmer, your new neighbor."
Reid couldn't help but smile as he took her hand and shook it, his insecurities fading. "Welcome to the building."