Disclaimer: I do not own Angel or Criminal Minds. Written for fun, not profit.
Series: "Catch a Falling Star" universe (see the "read series intro" link above the info block)—when she was a child, Elle Greenaway met her aunt in a graveyard. The woman's name was Drusilla. And she wasn't quite a woman at all.
Author's notes: For August Fic-A-Day. Okay, so I said, "Save it for a Rainy Day" would be the last story in the series, and it was, in a way, but I couldn't get this moment out of my head—so, Bonus Story! This story can be read separate from the rest of the series, I think, since the character focus is shifted, but I suggest you read the other five one-shots for the details.o)O(o
The kid looked okay.
Angel told himself that was the only reason he was here, hugging the shadows of the crowded bar. He'd had to visit DC on business, or, as the others had been so apt to correct him, spy on Buffy Summer's meeting with certain military higher-ups. Regardless, he figured he'd get all his stalking out of the way before heading back across the U.S., to his new home and his new…what were Spike, Illyria, and Elle? He didn't want to put a label there, but he was sure there was one that would fit just right. Elle had used it enough already; she called them family.
Angel didn't want to think about that too hard. He'd stick with "allies."
Still, he'd told Elle that, if he had a chance while he was in the area, he'd check in on the man they'd rescued from Drusilla.
But, seeing if he appeared physically well took about ten minutes of skulking near his apartment. The kid looked okay, but he wasn't. Angel could tell with just a glance. When his friends came by to pick him up, the vampire had followed.
He had to be sure.
Angel frowned; it wasn't fair, what he was doing. He knew that. Not interfering in Reid's life was another of Elle's requests—when that woman had started bossing him around so much, he wasn't sure, but if she kept Spike miraculously less annoying, Angel was willing to put up with her attitude…He shook his head, suddenly feeling bitter. Mostly toward himself, because he realized that, at this point, he was simply making excuses.
Who was he kidding? None of this was for Elle. Angel needed to see the kid for his own reasons. And more importantly, he needed the kid to see him.
Dr. Spencer Reid, that's what Elle called him, was too vigilant for a man on the town, surrounded by laughing co-workers and friends. It was easy to catch his eye, even from far across the room. Reid blinked, surprised, but he hid his reaction well. Hid the tremble of his fingers well, too, as he slid from his chair, muttering something to a tall black man with his arm around a round-faced blonde in bright pink and yellow.
Angel retreated to the hallway leading to the establishment's back exit, paused so the kid might catch up, then slid out the door and into the tight alleyway. He stiffed the air, let his eyes roam; he was alone. A moment later the door opened and Spencer Reid slid out to join him.
The kid was tall, lanky, and not really a kid at all, but Angel figured, with a face like his, he'd probably wear the title for a few more years. Reid dug his fingers into the pocket of his pants, hunching his shoulders a bit, as if that would hide the way his pulse point was practically vibrating against his throat.
"Do you know who I am?"
He nodded. "Angel."
Of course he knew. Normal people could try and forget when something strange, something unexplainable happened to them, but Elle had told Angel all about this guy…and Reid wasn't going to be able to forget a damn thing. Angel didn't envy him his natural gifts. Not a bit.
Angel wasn't good at small talk, still awkward around people, despite his relationships with humans over the past few years. Unfortunately, it looked as if Dr. Reid was even worse at starting a conversation.
"How are you?" Angel realized that wasn't a good question and backtracked. "Have you started back to work?"
Reid swallowed, hard enough to leave his adam's apple bouncing. Angel realized he was standing a bit too close and moved back.
The kid nodded in appreciation. "Next week. I return next week. My friends were taking me out in celebration."
Angel blinked in surprise. It had been several months since he and the others had left Dr. Reid behind to be found by the FBI. He'd figured there'd be a need for recovery time but…Angel grimaced. If he the guy needed that much time off, then he wasn't dealing. He hadn't handled it well at all. No surprise there. Drusilla had him to herself for over a week, and Angel knew exactly how she liked to treat her favorite pets.
"Elle is wanted for questioning in my kidnapping." Reid shook his head, frustrated. "I tried to explain that she wasn't involved, but witnesses spotted her with two male suspects, fleeing the scene. They…not even my team would…" He sighed, his voice low when it returned, as if someone might be listening in. "They say they trust me, trust what I saw, but they don't. And they're upset that they've been told to drop the case now. I didn't…I know better than to try and tell them the truth, so they've got a good reason to think I'm lying. I am."
Angel watched him carefully. "It's hard to explain the bad guy's dead when there's nothing but a pile of ashes as evidence."
Reid reached up, rubbing a spot on his neck where Drusilla had left one of her "kisses". He shivered, as if he could feel her presence. Angel wanted to move forward, yank his hand down, but he held his place.
"I know vampires are real. I know Drusilla was real. But—" His voice cracked, his eyes locked on the concrete beneath his feet. "They've had me in therapy and sometimes, afterward, things get mixed up. I've heard it so many times now, that Elle called Morgan with the tip, that Elle was spotted in the area, that Elle's fingerprints were found on my cage…And she looks so much like her.
Angel did know. The resemblance was the reason he'd avoided Elle as best he could for months. "Sometimes you think it was Elle who held you captive," Angel concluded.
Reid's frowned tightened. "I know that's not true. I know it. But it would be so easy to believe the other stuff was all just a hallucination." His glanced up quickly, eyes wide. "Don't tell Elle I said that. Please."
"I won't." Angel chewed his lip, considering how to proceed. He could hear a voice inside, down the hallway that had led here. One of Reid's friends was checking the restrooms, calling his name. "You're not crazy, kid."
"But Drusilla wanted me to be," he said, a slight, frightened grin on his face. "She told me she'd fill my pockets with starshine. Said I had voices in my head, that they wanted to be able to sing with the stars. She saw something in me, something like what was inside her."
"But she didn't release it. We've all got our demons." Angel smiled back, hoping it was a stark comparison to the twisting in his gut. This was exactly what he'd been afraid of, that Reid would realize why
Drusilla had taken him in the first place. "I'd know about demons. There's one inside you, too. But, that doesn't mean it has to come out and play. You're still you, Reid. Drusilla didn't win. She didn't break you."
Reid let out a shaky breath. "You're trying to comfort me, but I know why you came here, Angel."
The vampire stiffened. "Elle wanted me to check on you."
Reid shook his head. "You came here because you wanted to know if your sins were still catching up with you. You feel like Drusilla was your monster, so you're responsible if she created another one. I bet that's led to some resentment toward the other vampire with you, Spike. Since he's Dru's...child, isn't it?" He paused, shrugging one shoulder, as if in explanation. "I'm a profiler. I can read people, even undead ones."
Angel bit his lip to keep down his reply. To stop himself from saying that the observation had nothing to do with criminal profiling and everything to do with the voices. "Maybe. But I didn't need to come here to confirm that my sins are still haunting me. I'm reminded of my past enough already."
"What was Drusilla like…before you…?" Reid's voice drifted off.
He didn't get a chance to continue. The door behind him opened, casting him in a halo of light. Angel was gone before his friend could spot more than a shadow, gone before Reid even realized who was looking for him.
It was fortunate enough. Angel didn't want to reply to the question. "She was a bit like you," he said, nevertheless. But no stars or song birds answered him. Because he'd never had that gift, himself.
He could return to his family now that he knew his creation, his monster, hadn't created another if its kind. Drusilla, after all, had been clever and wicked, but never as truly devious as Angelus, and for that Angel would always be thankful.
Dr. Spencer Reid remained unbroken.