So apparently people wanted an epilogue. I was surprised to see that there were a few people who seemed legitimately angry because they thought the last chapter was the end of the story (to give you an idea, after the 10th or 11th review, I stopped thinking, "hooray! A review alert!" and started thinking, "oh god, not another one…") But you guys were right. That ending wouldn't have just been incomplete and annoying, but unfair to anyone who spent time reading the story (I really was going to write an epilogue all along, but I did a perfectly horrible job explaining that in the last author's note, so it was completely my fault and I'm sorry.) So I decided to post this last chapter early as an apology. Once again, I would like to thank anyone who did leave a review, including the reviews with criticisms—although they aren't always fun to read, you have taken your time to help me improve my writing, which I really appreciate.

Anyways, the epilogue is fairly long (at least, compared to the rest of the chapters of the story) and I really should have split it into two chapters for the sake of balance—but this thing has gone on long enough already (50,000 words, what the fuck) and if I left off with another cliffhanger people might have actually murdered me out of sheer irritation.

And finally (after the longest author's note in the history of the universe) I would really, really like to hear what you think of the last chapter and of the story in general (now that it's actually over.) SO TELL ME! (…please?)


"The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it is only intangible ideas, beliefs, concepts, fantasies, that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People—well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend—they can go on and on." –Chuck Palahniuk

"The prosecution would like to call Derek Morgan to the stand."

Morgan looked nervous. Not in any way that could be apparent to the jury—only to someone who knew him well. His posture was stiffer than usual, his jaw set firmly, his eyes were hard and cold and angry. Rossi wished he could offer some sort of support—although he knew Morgan was perfectly accustomed to testifying in court, this case was different.

The prosecutor got to his feet. He was a somewhat portly man of forty or so years—Rossi could not, for the life of him, remember his name. "Derek Morgan," the prosecutor said, "When was the first time you met the defendant?"

Morgan glanced once at the jury. "The day before the fire," he said.

"And where was that?"

"At the Boston police station."

"Is the defendant in this room?"


"Can you point to her?"

Without missing a beat, Morgan reached across the stand and pointed a finger directly at Eva Booker. She sat with her legs crossed, her foot bouncing up and down, her eyes staring back at her accuser unflinchingly. She didn't look friendly nor unfriendly—in fact, she gave off the air of someone who was rather bored.

"And what did she tell you?"

"Objection," the defense attorney called out in a bored voice. "Hearsay."

"Sustained," the judge said.

The prosecutor cleared his throat. "What time did she arrive at the police station?" he asked.

"Four in the afternoon."

The prosecutor glanced at his notes. "And what time was the fire estimated to have been set?"

"Quarter to four, the same day."

"Approximately how long, Agent Morgan, does it take to drive from the site of the fire to the Boston police station?"

"Ten to fifteen minutes."

"So, what you are saying, Agent Morgan—is that it would have been feasible for Miss Booker to have set the fire, then have driven to the police station within this ten to fifteen minute time period, in an attempt to create an alibi for herself?"

"Objection," the defense attorney snapped. "The prosecution is leading the witness."

"Sustained," the judge said. "Let's move this along."

The prosecutor cleared his throat. "Can you describe your job for me, Agent Morgan?" he asked.

Morgan glanced briefly at Rossi. "As my colleague stated earlier," he said, "I work at the behavioral analysis unit at the FBI. We analyze the behavioral patterns of criminals to deliver a psychological profile."

"And what is the point of this 'profile?'" asked the prosecutor.

"To aid in the criminal's capture," Morgan said stiffly. "Getting inside a criminal's head allows us to narrow down the suspect pool."

"And what kind of success rate do these profiles have?"

"It's difficult to measure objectively," Morgan said. "But my team has a very good track record."

"Prior to Miss Booker's arrest by the Boston Police Department, did you or did you not compile a profile on Miss Eva Booker?"



"What I meant to ask, Agent Morgan, was your professional opinion regarding Miss Booker's psychological criminal profile."

"Objection!" shouted the defense attorney. "Speculation!"

The judge gave the defense attorney an irritated look. "Overruled," he said. "Agent Morgan has already been approved as an expert witness. You may answer the question." The defense attorney sat down, looking rather embarrassed.

Eva laughed.

"We compiled a profile shortly after the fire," Morgan said. "We detained her immediately following that. Both she and her brother grew up in an unstable home environment, which has been shown to contribute to psychopathy. She did not seem to have any friends or even acquaintances at the school which she attended. When questioned about her parent's deaths, she showed an unemotional, atypical reaction, yet when she was in the police station before the fire she had no trouble manipulating the police into believing that she was upset."

"Objection," the defense attorney said again.

The judge sighed. "Why?" he asked.

"Relevancy," the defense attorney asked.

"Overruled." The judge sighed. "The expert's opinion in his area of expertise is hardly irrelevant. Can we—"


"I haven't even said anything!" snapped the prosecutor.

"Overruled," the judge snapped again. "Could the defense please allow the prosecution to complete the direct examination of their witness?"

The defense attorney sat down again, looking angry.

"Agent Morgan," the prosecutor continued, "Could you please tell the jury whom you believe—in your expert opinion—was the person most likely responsible for the fire which killed Aaron and Jack Hotchner?"

Morgan pointed again. "Eva Booker."

"Could you explain how you arrived at this conclusion?"

"She wasn't seen by anyone going in or out of her home during the two weeks leading up to the fire," Morgan said. "Arson fits the profile because it is depersonalized and methodical. She was able to simultaneously kill her intended victims and dispose of any evidence that might have incriminated her."

"Could you list the other experts on your team who disagree with your opinion?"

"There are none."

The prosecutor glanced at the judge. "No further questions," he said.

All eyes fell to the opposite side of the room—the defense attorney appeared to be having a whispered conversation with his client. Looking more and more irritated by the minute, the judge said, "Would the defense like to cross examine the witness?"

The defense attorney stood up. "Yes, your honor," he said. There was an air of arrogance about him, to the point where it bordered on laziness—as if the entire trial was a waste of his time. He took several steps towards Morgan. "You were a good friend of the Hotchners," he said, smiling. "Were you not?"

"Objection!" the prosecutor shouted immediately. "Relevancy?"

"Goes to the credibility of an expert witness," the defense attorney said.

"Sustained," the judge replied. "Like I said earlier, Agent Morgan has been approved as an expert witness, as he was one of the police officers originally assigned to the case."

The defense attorney sighed. "Agent Morgan," he said, "You yourself were present at the scene of the fire. Is that correct?"


"There were five people trapped in the building, were there not?"


"And you managed to save two of them."

"That's right."

"Did you happen to know—"

"Objection!" shouted the prosecutor. "Relevancy?"

"Providing the jury with an accurate depiction of the crime scene," the attorney said earnestly, smiling at the judge.

The judge sighed. "Overruled," he said. "But make your point quickly, please."

"Did you happen to know any of people rescued from the crime scene?" asked the attorney.

Morgan was glaring at him. "Yes. They were on my team."

The attorney smiled. "Alright," he said. "Moving along. Am I right to assume that behavioral profiling is an objective behavioral science?"

"Objection!" the prosecutor said. "That's a vague question."

"Sustained," the judge said. "Please clarify yourself."

"Of course," the attorney said. "What I meant to ask, Agent Morgan, is this—is a behavioral profile an objective scientific tool to the extent that it should be considered as evidence against a defendant in a court of law?"

Morgan gritted his teeth, trying to remain calm. "Yes," he said.

"Has your team at the BAU ever incorrectly accused a suspect based on an inaccurate profile?"



Morgan cleared his throat. "We have a very successful history of—"

"Just a simple yes or no will suffice, Agent Morgan."

Rossi could almost see the daggers shooting form Morgan's eyes. "Yes," he said, "But—"

"Would you agree, Agent Morgan, that a tool which is often inaccurate should not be considered objective scientific evidence?"

"Objection! Calls for speculation!"

"Sustained," the judge said.

"As you wish," the attorney said, with a sidelong glance at the jury. "Agent Morgan," he said, "I am assuming that you feel anger towards the killer of these victims?"

"Objection!" shouted the prosecutor for the umpteenth time.

"Relevancy?" the judge asked the attorney.

"Pertains to the emotional state of the witness at the time of his professional evaluations of the defendant," the attorney said.

The judge sighed again. "Fine," he said eventually.

Morgan gritted his teeth. "I don't see how this—"

"It's a simple question, Agent Morgan," the prosecutor said. "Three of your friends killed. Two almost killed. This was a horrible crime, there's no doubt of that—so, were you angry? Or did it just—you know—roll off of you? No big deal?"

"Objection!" shouted the prosecutor furiously, getting to his feet. "The defense is bullying my witness!"

"Overruled," the judge said. "Let's move things along, here."

Although he was doing a good job of hiding it, Rossi could tell that Morgan desperately wanted to strangle the attorney. "Yes, I was angry," he said. "But that doesn't mean—"

"No further questions, your honor," the attorney said, cutting Morgan off in the middle of his sentence and returning to his seat.

"Does the prosecution have any further questions for the witness?" The prosecutor shot Rossi a helpless glance, then shrugged. It was becoming more and more obvious that Morgan and Rossi would not be able to provide sufficient evidence to convict Eva. After shuffling through some more papers, the prosecutor got to his feet.

"No, your honor," he said. "I would like to call my next witness."

"Proceed," said the judge.

This is going to be bad, Rossi thought helplessly. Very, very bad.

"The prosecution would like to call Spencer Reid to the stand."


Reid hadn't been paying attention to the trial.

Well, he had. He had tried, anyways. But he couldn't stop staring at Eva. He couldn't stop picturing Jack and Hotch and JJ and wanting to leap across the room and tear her head from her neck.

He was sitting in the back of the courtroom. It was too hot in there. Much, much too hot. And he had been feeling so tired lately, so tired and so very nauseous, and there had been more nightmares last night but he had flushed all of the drugs down the toilet—well, alright, so he hadn't, but he was going to as soon as he got home. Well, not all of them, but most of them. His leg still hurt from time to time. And all night he hadn't been able to stop the nightmares, the nightmares of smoke filling his room and of the sound of the gunshot that had killed Hotch, the sound of Jack crying and the blood on his hands as they slipped down the ladder and being so, so sure that he would never wake up…

"The prosecution would like to call Spencer Reid to the stand."

Reid froze. Had he heard correctly?

Everyone was staring at him.

Reid blinked once, then got to his feet slowly. Everyone was still staring at him.

Reid stared at the prosecutor as he walked up. The man nodded at him encouragingly—Reid simply glared at him furiously, trying to quell the panicked thoughts racing around in the back of his head.

Youpromisedyouwouldonlycallm etothestandinthecaseofextrem ecircumstancesyouasshole,goddamnit,goddamnit,goddamnit

Reid swallowed nervously, trying to get the voice in the back of his head to be quiet. But it wouldn't. It was almost worse than Tobias.

You miss Tobias.

Reid shook his head back and forth rapidly. Shut up, he thought. Shut up shut up shut up shut up

"Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"

"I do," Reid said. His soft voice seemed to ring out to the entire courtroom. It sounded strange and alien.

They know what you did. They know you left Jack behind. This whole room knows. They know. Eva knows. Morgan knows. Everyone knows. You should have died then. They know. They know

Before he truly knew how he had gotten there, Reid was sitting facing the courtroom. It would have been alright if they would only stop staring at him.

They're not going to believe you. They're not going to believe you. You're as bad as her, and they're not going to believe you. They know what you did, and they're not going to believe you

"Dr. Reid, could you please answer the question?"

Reid blinked, turned his head towards the judge, then turned back to the prosecutor, who was standing in front of him expectantly. "Um," he said. "Could you repeat the question?"

That's fantastic. You're off to a horrible start.

"Would you state your full name and spell your last name?"

"Dr. Spencer Reid," he said. "R-E-I-D."

"Six months ago today, Dr. Reid, how were you employed?"

"I worked at the BAU," he said.

"Alright," he said. "And you hold three doctorates. Is that correct?" The prosecutor smiled at him encouragingly.

"Yes," Reid said. There was a mumble of general astonishment that filled the courtroom.

"Relevancy?" the attorney mumbled, rolling his eyes, although he apparently lacked the initiative to make a formal objection.

The prosecutor turned towards him anyways, responding, "Goes to prove the credibility of the witness."

The attorney smirked.

"Please continue questioning your witness or take a seat," snapped the judge. The prosecutor cleared his throat.

"Could you describe to me what happened between you and Lloyd Booker—Miss Eva Booker's brother—at the outset of the case?"

"Yes," Reid said. He glanced at the prosecutor again—his eyes only said one thing.

Don't mention the drugs.

Reid cleared his throat. You rehearsed this. You can do this. Just don't mention the drugs. Don't mention the hallucinations and don't mention the drugs. Easy.

"Yes," he said again, after a rather long pause. "Lloyd Booker was one of the local police officers working on the case with my team. There was a serial killer that had been moving south and appeared to be passing through that area. We knew he was targeting the team after he attacked a local diner, where we were eating. I started to suspect that Booker was the unsub after, after…" he trailed off. "After we realized that the unsub profiled as a narcissist who wanted to prove he was more intelligent than the FBI. Booker was the one who called in the case in the first place, so it fit. But the rest of the team thought I was wrong, and I…" he trailed off. "I was scoping out an alley when Booker attacked me and knocked me unconscious. When I woke up, I had no idea where I was. It looked like a basement. He told me that I needed to help him destroy my team or he would kill me. I refused—because I knew that he wouldn't go to all the effort to abduct me, then to kill me immediately afterwards—and he shot me in the leg. When I woke up, I was in the hospital."

"Objection," the defense attorney said. "The witness is narrating. How is any of this relevant to Miss Booker?"

"Relates directly to the conspiracy to commit murder charge," the prosecutor replied.

"Overruled," the judge said. "Please continue." The defense attorney resumed his seat, looking slightly put out.

"Booker left a note for my team at the crime scene taunting us. He kept calling it a 'game.' When Hotch tried to take our team off the case, Booker showed up at his house and killed his sister in law, Jessica, and abducted his son, Jack. After we left the hospital, Hotch and I stayed in Vermont to interview Eva Booker, Lloyd's sister."

"Can you identify Miss Booker for me, Dr. Reid?"

"Right there," Reid said, pointing directly at Eva. While he tried to avoid eye contact with her, he made the mistake of glancing at her face for a fraction of a second. She smirked at him.

"What happened during the interview?" the prosecutor prompted.

Reid gritted his teeth, trying to get his immense anger under control, then replied, "Really, nothing. She gave us no useful information. She just kept making references to chess, like Booker did. But when I asked her about her dead parents, she did respond strangely. She just kind of laughed."

"Objection," the defense attorney said. "Dr. Reid has not been cleared as an expert witness with the court."

"Sustained," the judge said. "The jury is to draw no conclusions from Dr. Reid's speculations on Miss Booker's behavior. Can we move this along, please? The jury already knows the basic details of the case."

Dr. Reid has not been cleared as an expert witness—they're not going to believe you—

"When was the next time you encountered Miss Booker?" the prosecutor prompted.

Reid swallowed nervously. "Well," he said. "I was outside the police station, and I thought I saw Jack Hotchner run past. I tried chasing after him, but I had to stop because my leg gave out. Booker cornered me and Eva hit me in the head with something—and the next thing I know I woke up and she was sitting there."

"Miss Booker was just...'sitting there?'"


"So, Miss Booker was actively conspiring with her brother, Lloyd Booker, to abduct you and to hold two other children hostage?"

"Objection!" the defense attorney shouted. "The prosecution is leading the witness. Again."


The prosecutor sighed. "Was Eva helping her brother?" he asked.

"Yes," he said. "She was keeping Jack and Henry hostage. Henry would remember her, if he saw her right now. He would—"


"Yes, yes, sustained," the judge said, "Henry LaMontaigne has been declared incompetent to stand trial, and the jury should draw no conclusions from Dr. Reid's statements."

The prosecutor sighed. "And when was the last time you saw Eva?"

"Right before the fire," Reid said.

"What was she doing?"

"She was arguing with her brother," Reid said.

"About what?"

"She didn't want to bring children into the game," Reid said. "She considered it boring."

And then she lit the place up and I left Jack behind, I left him behind and I'm no better than her…

The prosecutor nodded, smiled at Reid, then said, "No further questions, your honor."

"Would the defense like to cross examine the witness?"

The defense attorney got to his feet. "Yes, your honor."

You have to get out of here, a voice hissed to him in the back of his head. They aren't going to believe you…

"Dr. Reid," he began, "Is it true that your mother suffers from paranoid schizophrenia?"

Reid just stared at him. "Wh-what?"

"Objection!" the prosecutor shouted, springing to his feet.

"Could the defense please explain the reasoning behind their question?" asked the judge, looking puzzled as well.

"Goes to the credibility of the witness, in terms of his mental competency and the reliability of his accounts."

The judge narrowed his eyes. "Overruled," he said. "You may answer the question, Dr. Reid."

Reid opened his mouth. "I…" Too late. You have to get out. They aren't going to believe you

"If you don't quite remember," the attorney said, giving him an infuriatingly patronizing smile, "I have the medical records right here."

Reid glared at him. "Yes," he snapped eventually. "Yes, my mother suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. And my father suffers from kidney stones occasionally, in case you feel like that's important."

The defense attorney looked rather taken aback at this response, which resulted in scattered laughter throughout the courtroom. Looking more and more annoyed by the moment, the judge slammed his gavel down several times until it was silent. Reid felt his confidence swell significantly as the room full of faces looked upon him with amusement instead of suspicion.

"You first remarked," the attorney continued, "That you were attacked by Booker while scoping out an alleyway. Is that correct?"

"Yes," Reid said.

"By this point, you stated that you already believed Booker was the suspect. Is that correct?"

"That's right."

"So, despite the fact that you believed a serial killer targeting your team was at large and well-equipped with a gun, you decide to scope out a deserted alleyway, alone, with no backup?"

Reid opened his mouth, then closed it. "I…I was upset that nobody believed me," he said. "I wanted to prove that I was right. I realize now it was a foolish decision."

"Yet you didn't think to bring your gun with you?"

Reid blinked at him. "What?"

"Your gun was left back at the police station. You didn't feel as if you needed it to defend yourself?"



"I…I guess I forgot it," Reid muttered. "Who cares?"

The prosecutor cleared his throat. "Dr. Reid," he said, "Would you consider yourself to have been…in the 'right state of mind,' when this abduction took place?"

Reid opened his mouth, then closed it. "I…yes."

"Dr. Reid, I have right here a witness testimony from the police chief of the town where you were staying, stating that you disappeared for an entire day during the course of the investigation, and were found twenty-four hours afterwards, wandering around in the local park, covered in your own blood. Is this true?"


"Overruled," said the judge, frowning at Reid. "Answer the question."

"I…" Reid trailed off, making eye contact with the prosecutor, who was looking back and forth from him to the judge with narrowed eyes. He gave Reid a very brief nod. "Yes, that's true," Reid admitted.

"So, Dr. Reid—should I be correct to make the assumption that, while in the aforementioned 'right state of mind,' you have the tendency to disappear for more than twenty-four hours, wandering the streets, covered in blood. Does this happen often?"


"Overruled," the judge said, casting the prosecution an irritated look. "I would like an explanation for this, if you don't mind."

Reid swallowed nervously. Although he couldn't see her from where he was seated, he could tell that Eva was smirking.

They don't believe you. They don't believe you. She's going to get away with it because they don't believe you

"No," Reid said. "I—I wasn't in my right state of mind then."

"Really?" he said. "Interesting. Did that have anything to do with the traces of LSD, Mescaline, and amphetamines that were found in your blood work upon your admittance to the hospital following your twenty-four hour disappearance?"

Reid glanced at the prosecution and then back at the defense attorney, panicking.

"Dr. Reid?" prompted the judge.

"Well…well, yes," he said, his voice coming out higher than normal. "Probably. That was probably a contributing factor. But, it was—Booker poisoned me. He put them in my coffee. He told me."

"But you didn't feel it was important to mention this in your testimony earlier?"

Reid swallowed nervously. "No," he said. "No, I didn't think it was relevant."

"Upon learning that you had been poisoned," the attorney continued, "Were you at all concerned by the fact that hallucinogenic substances—such as the ones described—had been linked to the onset of psychosis in people with a genetic inclination towards schizophrenia?"



"No," Reid answered immediately, despite the fact that the judge had sustained the question. "No, I wasn't."

The faces had become suspicious again. Reid searched for Morgan's face in the crowd—but he was unable to make eye contact. The older profiler was too busy staring at the defense attorney with a look of supreme hatred.

They know what you did, they don't believe you—

Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up—

"Is it true," the defense attorney continued, "That you regularly attended narcotics anonymous meetings several years ago?"


"Relevancy?" the judge asked.

"Dr. Reid is the only person who claims to have seen Eva Booker in the process of committing a crime," the attorney continued. "When questioning the mental stability of the witness, I think that previous drug use is incredibly relevant, your honor."

"Overruled," the judge said. "Please answer the question, Dr. Reid."

"I…" Reid trailed off. "Y-yes, I used to attend the meetings for Dilaudid. But I don't anymore."

Why did you say that? The voice inside his head was shouting at him furiously. Don't tell him that!

"Dr. Reid?"

Reid blinked. "C-could you repeat the question?"

They all already know everything. They don't believe you—they shouldn't believe you. I have to get out of here, have to get out of here

The defense attorney smiled kindly. "Of course," he said. "Isn't Dilaudid a type of heroin?"

You can't prove it. They won't believe you. You're insane and they won't believe you

"Yes," Reid said. "It's a type of heroin."

"Were you prescribed painkillers for the gunshot wound to your leg, Agent Reid?"

"Yes," Reid whispered. Morgan and Rossi were staring at him helplessly. And Eva was smiling.

She knows she'll get away with it and they won't believe you

"They prescribed oxycodone?" the prosecution said.

"Yes," Reid replied.

"When your prescription bottle of oxycodone was found, it was almost entirely empty, despite being a very recent prescription," the defense attorney said. "Do you know why that is?"

Reid didn't answer.

"Dr. Reid?"

"Yes." He refused to look up. He just wanted it to be over.

"You do know?"


"Can you tell me why?"

Have to get out of here—

"I took more than I was supposed to."

The defense attorney blinked, then allowed a smile to creep across his face—he obviously hadn't been expecting to extract a confession that quickly.

"You took more oxycodone pills than you were supposed to?"


"Am I to understand—simply from the amount of pills remaining in the bottle, after it had been found—that you were taking more than twice the recommended dose?"


"I am just going to go over things one more time, Dr. Reid, so bear with me. At the time you claim to have witnessed Eva Booker in the alleyway with her brother, which was the same time you claim to have witnessed Jack Hotchner running away from you just across the police station, you were on twice the recommended amount of oxycodone pills and were recently recovering from being poisoned by LSD, Mescaline, and amphetamines."

"That…." Reid trailed off, then glanced at his prosecutor. "That was a compound question," he said. "You sh-should have objected to that." He heard some more laughter from the courtroom, but this time it seemed derisive instead of friendly.

She's going to get away with it. I'm sorry, Hotch. I'm so sorry

Desperately, Reid reached past the defense attorney and pointed at Eva. "I saw her!" he snarled. "She was there. She was playing chess with me. She was there and she was arguing with Booker and, and I knew it was her in the alleyway because she kept saying zoom, and if she hadn't killed them Hotch and Jack would tell you, they would tell you, and she can't, she can't get away with it—she and her brother killed Hotch and JJ and Jack and they can't get away with it—"

He broke off suddenly, realizing it was hopeless. The courtroom rung with a strange kind of stunned silence. Reid tried not to look at Eva. He wanted to attack her.

She deserves to die, she deserves to die, I'm not insane and she killed them and she can't get away with it, she deserves to die

"Just one more question, Dr. Reid," the defense attorney said—he spoke in a calm, friendly tone, as speaking to a child that had just thrown a tantrum. "It says here that you have been placed on a mandatory suspension from the Behavioral Analysis Unit after failing your psychological evaluation and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Is this accurate?"

Reid was staring at Eva. He wanted to kill her.

"Excuse me, Dr. Reid. Could you answer the question?"

"I'm right," he whispered. "I'm right. I'm right." I'm sorry Hotch, I'm sorry

"Dr. Reid? Just one more question."

"I wish I was insane and wrong," he whispered. "But I'm insane and I'm right. You don't know what it's like—to be insane, and to be right—" And then he broke off again and simply stared at Eva. He could hear the defense attorney speaking to him, but he wasn't listening.

She's smiling and I'm going to kill her—she killed them and she's smiling and she deserves to die—she deserves to die and I'm going to kill her—

Eventually, the prosecutor got to his feet. "Your honor," he said, "I don't think Dr. Reid is fit to answer any more questions."


"Remember that the prosecution has the burden of proof," the judge said. "This means that the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt…"

Morgan wanted to say something to comfort Reid, but he hadn't said a word since he'd finished his testimony. He just sat in the seat beside him, staring at the floor, speaking to no one.

Morgan's phone buzzed—it was a text message from Garcia. She was babysitting Henry, who was currently refusing to speak to anyone besides Reid and Will. Although it was kind of Garcia to offer her help, Morgan had a feeling she had just wanted to avoid the trial.

Going OK? Made the kid mac and cheese.

"Has the jury reached a decision?"

"We have, your honor."

Morgan sighed.

Even worse than we thought, he replied. Henry alright?

"We find the defendant, Eva Booker, not guilty on all charges…"

Reid didn't move. He didn't even appear to be listening.

Morgan's phone buzzed again—he glanced at it simply for wont of something to do.

Won't eat. Keeps asking Will when Reid's coming back.

Morgan shut his phone.

Two Weeks Later

The phone rang again.

"They know," Tobias said.

Reid laughed. Things were great. Things were great and beautiful, great and beautiful. Things were great because they felt like nothing. Things were beautiful because they were great.

"Truthfully, though," Reid said. "That was excellent. I mean, it was horrible—but excellent. The weird kind of numb sort of excellence. You know? Life when you drive a knife so far into your hand it starts to feel good."

"But that doesn't happen to sane people," Tobias said.

"Perhaps," Reid replied. "Perhaps not."

"Do you think they'll be able to charge you?" Tobias asked.

"Sure, they'll suspect it was me," Reid said, yawning. "But beyond a reasonable doubt?"

Tobias laughed.

"I wasn't thinking happy enough, before," Reid said pensively, "Not enough drugs."

"You're not really happy," Tobias said.

Reid shrugged. "I'm too miserable to know the difference."

"What about Henry?" Tobias asked.

Reid shrugged. "It was worth it," he said. "He's better off without me."

The phone started ringing again.

Reid yawned. "Voicemail," he said. Nothing seemed to matter. Everything seemed peaceful and joyful and beautiful because nothing seemed to matter.

"Reid, this is Morgan. We're coming to your apartment right now. If you don't answer your phone, I'm going to kick down the door. We want to help you, kid, but you have to work with us. I know it wasn't you, alright, but I need to answer your phone, please, you have to make it look like you're cooperating with us. I know you don't want to deal with this, Reid, but this is serious. They could put you away for life. Like I said, I know it wasn't you, but if you could just answer your phone—" The rest of the message was obscured by a loud beep. Reid laughed.

"Look at that," Tobias said. "You're a murder suspect and suddenly you're all popular."

Reid yawned. "Took them long enough to find the body," he said. He lay back on the couch. "I wonder if I'll be able to get drugs in prison."

"Clever kid like you?" Tobias said. "Of course, you might end up in a different kind of prison, if you're not careful."

"You're right," Reid said. "Got to watch out for that. Just got to remember that I'm a cold-blooded killer and not insane at all." He tossed another pill up into the air and tried to catch it with his mouth. He missed.

"Shit, Tobias," he said. "Can you get that for me?"

"You know what's the saddest thing?" Tobias asked. "If they hadn't already known you were nuts, it would've been the perfect murder."

"Carbon monoxide poisoning," Reid mused, sighing. "Classic household accident."

"You might get away with it, you know. Unless they prove you tampered with the exhaust pipe..."

"Who cares?" Reid asked, yawning. "I'm just glad I finally put that engineering degree to good use."

"They don't have any conclusive evidence," Tobias said. "You were too careful."

"I don't see how it makes a difference," Reid said. "Jail, or no jail. Who cares? I'm damned either way."

The phone started ringing again.

"The strangest thing?" Reid muttered. "Is that I don't feel any better or any worse about it. I feel perfectly exactly the same."

Tobias smiled sympathetically. "It's that feeling," he said. "You just couldn't shake it."

Reid frowned. "What feeling?"

Tobias shrugged. "In the smoke," he said. "You thought you'd never wake up. And it seemed fair, because Hotch and Jack would never wake up. It was unfair, but it was also fair, in a horribly, backwards sort of way. And now that you've woken up…"

Reid laughed. "I never woke up," he said.

"Maybe not," Tobias said. "Maybe one day you will."

There was a loud, resounding knock on the door.

"I hope not," Reid said. "Why would I want to?"

Tobias smiled at him and laughed. And so Reid laughed, too. And they laughed and laughed as they heard the door splinter open, but they kept laughing so as to stay in the dream forever, as if the laughter was a strange sort of defense against madness, a defense against madness and bitterness and death—and he felt arms pulling him off of the couch but he kept on laughing anyways.

"It's just a game, Morgan!" he shouted. "You can't take it all so seriously!"

In truth, he wasn't sure if it even was Morgan in his apartment, or even anyone, or whether the phone was even ringing, or just a product of deranged imagination—or if he was in his apartment at all, or still underneath all the smoke with all of the faces peering down at him as they had been in the courtroom.

It all seemed less real than Tobias, it seemed less real than the laughter, and it seemed less real than the fake, numbing giddiness that was spreading through his veins like divine poison—reality was grayer and sadder and less real than any of the unreal things.

"It's all just intolerably sad," Tobias mused. "Isn't it nice to feel happy?"

"It all decays into absurdity anyways," Reid muttered. "The real world is as meaningless as the fake one."

And human voices faded into the distance—things such as grief and love and anger were far-off and remote in the face of the spinning carousel of senseless ecstasy, and all those dull and muddled earthly apparitions seemed strangely pale when set against the vibrant chords of fantasy.

"Don't worry," Tobias said, everything but his voice fading into the periphery. "We don't have to wake up."