The heels on Garcia's Go-go boots clicked and clacked on the polished hardwood flooring. Willow's message had seemed urgent, as if her friend was on the verge of a complete emotional meltdown. Three airplane changes and dozens of unanswered texts later, Garcia scanned the gold-lettered nameplates on each of the offices in the hallway.
Not one read "Willow Rosenberg." The young girl (Junior Slayer, Garcia reminded herself to use the proper term) who'd given her directions had said Willow's office was down this hall.
On the verge of giving up and trying to text Willow again, Garcia finally spotted the right nameplate at the very end of the hallway. The door was closed. Too bad. Willow had sent out a distress call. A closed door might keep her co-workers out, but Garcia was made of sterner stuff. She worked for Aaron Hotchner, after all.
Her firm, official FBI knock sounded like a series of explosions. Deep. Authoritative.
Nothing like the tiny voice from inside. "Go away."
Oh. Oh, no. Garcia no longer joked about the world ending. Not with the information that Willow had shared at their first meeting. She definitely wasn't going to joke now even if Willow sounded as if the apocalypse had already occurred. "It's Garcia," she called. "I'm coming in!"
Thankfully, the door wasn't locked. It opened with only a mild squeak and closed with a solid thump behind her.
A truly pathetic Willow huddled behind a massive u-shaped desk. Her face was blotchy; her eyes red-rimmed and swollen. Every few seconds, she swiped at her nose with a wadded-up tissue.
Shedding her rollerboard, purse, and computer bag into a pile by the door, Garcia hurried across the room. "Willow? Sugar, what happened?" Who had died? Did she need to call in her team? Or was this something for the Council to handle? "I'm so sorry." She rounded the desk. "How can I help?"
Willow flung herself out of her chair and into Garcia's arms. "It's gone!" she wailed.
Garcia worked with victims and their families every day. She was used to offering condolences and soothing platitudes. She was unprepared for the non-gendered pronoun and lack of other clues. Wrapping her arms around the seemingly inconsolable Willow, Garcia rocked them back and forth. "Shh! I'm here. It'll be OK."
"No! It won't!" Willow twisted out of Garcia's grasp and tenderly brushed a hand over the laptop sitting on her desk. "Don't you understand?"
"Explain it to me, sugar." Maybe then Garcia could calm Willow down.
Thrusting the laptop in Garcia's direction, Willow exclaimed through a new spate of sobs, "It's dead!"
Upon closer inspection, Garcia noted the Apple logo and the blocky, bulky shape.
"It was my first! I used it to help Buffy beat Spike! And to rewrite Angel's soul spell!" Willow nearly keened as she mentioned things she'd never shared with Garcia.
Fourteen hours to travel across the US combined with deserting her team in the middle of a case – for the last electronic breath of a vintage Power Book. Hotch would kill Garcia if he ever found out that the emergency…wasn't. "Let's sit down. You can tell me all about it."