Chapter 3: Not Yet Near Day
Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 3.5.1-5
Later she slept, but he lay awake watching her. He'd observed her sleeping on the plane before; her mouth had a tendency to pucker; a crease formed between her fine dark brows. Tonight, though, her face was smooth. Serene. He ran his fingertips down her cheek, soft as a butterfly's wing, and she stirred ever so slightly. He hastily snatched his hand back, not wanting to disturb such obviously peaceful slumber.
She turned toward him; murmured something in her sleep. He lowered his head to better hear. "Spencer," she breathed softly, the word thickened by sleep but nonetheless intelligible. He leaned back, blinking in surprise, but trying not to read too much into it. It stood to reason she'd say his name; she was in his bed, after all...so to speak...
He wondered what it would be like to have Emily in his actual bed, the one in his untidy, hodgepodge apartment. He wondered how she would react to his mess; the books strewn every which way; the seemingly random art selections adorning the walls; the odd paint scheme. (Personal side note: he had never considered his paint scheme odd. It seemed perfectly rational to him at the time, but Morgan had pointed out once that he was most likely colorblind if he persisted with that belief. He persisted. And he was colorblind; it was why he stuck mostly to neutrals with his clothing choices.)
He had a feeling, based on no logic he knew of, that she would be ok with it all. She'd never laughed at his mismatched socks. She'd never teased him about his sweater vests, or his tendency to wear his watch outside his sleeve, or his myriad other peccadilloes. She was...
She was his colleague. Even if there weren't rules against fraternizing with fellow agents, it simply wasn't a good idea. They had kept these occasions to an annual event, and in between January eighths they acted like it was just another day on the calendar, a day that meant nothing to either of them.
But this was their fourth eighth. Each ninth it grew increasingly harder to say goodbye to her, to kiss her and let her go, to return to the way things had to be. A part of him longed to wake her, ask her if she felt the same, ask her to stay for the ninth, the tenth, the eleventh...ad infinitum.
Again she stirred in her sleep. A long-fingered hand tumbled onto his chest. The sheet slid down her body, exposing more of her moon-pale skin to shine in the strange, shifting light glowing from the window. He loved this woman's contradictions: an almost freakish ability to compartmentalize and an incredibly soft heart; stiff-backed pride and sweet vulnerability; wry, irreverent humor and deeply ingrained sense of propriety; midnight hair against alabaster skin; soft curves masking disciplined strength.
Face it, Spencer, he told himself sternly, she's way out of your league. You're no Derek Morgan or Aaron Hotchner. You're a blinker.
Sighing softly, regretfully, he wiggled down into the bed next to her warmth. He could never say these things to her; he had to be content with one night a year. It was, truly, better than nothing.
He was a heavy sleeper. She adored that about him. In so many ways he was really just a big kid. In other ways...in other ways, she thought with a little shiver, he was all man. Recently he'd let his hair grow out into a mess of curls. She liked tangling her fingers in the wild mane; sometimes the urge was almost irresistible. He'd also started dressing a bit better. His clothes no longer hung off of him; he'd begun incorporating more patterns and colors into his wardrobe (dangerous, she thought, considering his colorblindness; a salesperson at the store must've helped him). When their eyes met across the conference room table, he no longer immediately looked away like a guilty schoolboy caught peeking.
Another thing she'd noticed, though she'd tried very hard not to, was how he'd filled out just in the last year. He no longer looked like an awkward boy, or a Radio Shack employee who'd accidentally wandered in off the street. He still had moments of awkwardness - especially on the crutches - but overall he carried himself with a new confidence. Local cops had stopped calling him "kid." He was nearly thirty, and he was finally beginning to look his age.
He still wore mismatched socks, though, she reflected with a little grin.
She liked the new-and-improved Spencer Reid, but she knew this older, more mature Reid was far more dangerous to her than the uncertain, shy kid from previous January eighths. She had a strange feeling that this Reid was going to be far more difficult to forget about come January ninth.
Not, she chided herself, that she had forgotten him before. Well, except maybe the first time, but that didn't really count. The last two years she'd remembered everything, perfectly, and she'd practically counted down the days until the calendar flipped to that one special date. They'd never really spoken of it; they'd never planned it; just after the first time, she'd wanted a memory, she supposed. Then after the second time, it seemed like they actually had a sort of anniversary, so when he'd knocked on her door the third January eighth (face scrunched; thin hands buried in pockets; expression tentative and hopeful), she'd let him in without hesitation.
This time she'd come to him. She'd been the one knocking without bothering with an excuse or pretense. They both knew why she'd come; neither had wanted to waste time pretending. They only had one night, after all...one night to last them the next three hundred sixty-four. She sighed; wound a light brown curl around her finger. It was still early, barely past one. With the storm no one would be up and about tomorrow until late.
Grinning wickedly, his hair still wrapped around her finger, she leaned forward to nibble lightly on his jaw. She loved the sharp angle of it, the way it cut at the corners before blending into his long neck. She also loved how sensitive his skin was there. He stirred, a quiet breath passing through his lips, and after a moment his hazel eyes fluttered open.
His head turned. He took in her expression; her hand in his hair; with a sleepy little smile he reached for her, thankful winter nights were so very, very long.
I wanted to address the age difference between the two, and also what might have brought (and be keeping) them together. I hope I've done that a little bit here. :)