A/N: Yup, I'm still alive and kicking. (smirks sheepishly) I just had to post this little piece to honor the special time of the year. This year's been pretty insane for me, so I wanted to give you guys something nice and sweet.
WARNINGS: SLASH, some language, aaaand… That's it. (gawks) Woah, that's short!
DISCLAIMER: Ya don't see my name on the list of 'powers that be'. (pouts) But hey, maybe next year…! (Yeah, at around the same time when pigs fly…)
Awkay, it's time to get going before I change my mind. (takes a deep breath) I really hope you'll enjoy the ride!
The End of the World
'An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.'
Virginia was embraced by one of the coldest winters in its history as the last day of year 2011 began to crawl towards its inevitable end. The weather outside, however, wasn't why Dr. Spencer Reid was trembling with chills that came from the core of his being. Nausea swirled like a snake in his abdomen.
He wasn't entirely sure whose idea it was that the team should go out together to celebrate New Year's. Aaron Hotchner and Jennifer Jareau hadn't been able to participate because they wanted to be with their children but the rest of them had somehow ended up into a tiny, reeking bar in one of the city's less glamorous parts.
Emily Prentiss, Penelope Garcia and David Rossi seemed to be having the time of their lives as they observed how Derek Morgan danced with the most beautiful girl in the bar. She was a twenty-something latino with long, narurally shiny hair and sparkling eyes that had a heavy load of makeup on them. Her tiny, black dress left nothing to be guessed. Just one look at how Derek touched her whispered that he was quite pleased with the situation. Their bodies seemed to pulsate together with the beat of the music. Or perhaps it was all in Spencer's head. Flashes whistled through Spencer's mind's eye, stinging far worse than any wound could've.
He remembered how Derek came to his door after a particularly horrible case almost three months earlier, kissing him and claiming his all in a way he'd never encountered before.
He remembered how he ended up into Derek's apartment after a yet another fruitless doctor's appointment, after facing a one more person who couldn't chase away his headaches. His newest headache was the last thing on his mind when Derek sent him into a world where only the two of them existed. He'd never screamed like that in his life.
He remembered how Derek locked the door and cornered him in the office's breakroom a week later, effectively cutting off all his attempts of speaking reason. A tiny part of him wondered if they were the first couple that'd gone all the way on the room's surprisingly comfortable table. Neither of them could look Aaron in the eye all day.
He remembered the next time, almost a month later, when he was the one to take the first step. He'd ended up getting a gunshot wound on his arm and although the damage was quite mild it hurt. That night Derek was his quite pleasant substitute for Dilaudid. The following morning was the first and only one with them waking up together.
He remembered how Derek came to his apartment at two am the night before this horrendous one, already dried tears in his eyes. The man wouldn't tell what'd upsetted him – apparently all he wanted was Spencer's presence and touch. He was more than happy to offer them. The night was one of the best in all his life. In the magical aftermath he gave Derek a kiss that told absolutely all he was feeling. Spencer had always liked Derek – that night he fell in love.
Spencer also remembered that as he woke up that morning Derek was gone.
David sighed, shaking his head while taking a sip of his drink. "Let's hope the poor girl won't end up giving him more than her phone number and a night of fun. She'd get her heart crushed."
Penelope's eyes narrowed immediately. "Don't say that! He has one of the biggest hearts I know. He'd never hurt someone intentionally." She shrugged, gulping down the rest of her visibly overly sweet drink. "He'll calm down eventually, when he finds the right one."
Emily's eyebrow bounced up. "Do you seriously consider him husband material?"
While the rest of them kept downright profiling Derek Spencer couldn't focus on a word. All he could see was how Derek's hands went lower and lower on the girl's well formed frame, how she kept inching closer and closer.
"I'm just saying", David went on in the same tone he often wore at work, nodding to add weight on his words. "The day Derek Morgan commits to someone is the day the world ends."
On the floor Derek bent the girl, making her back arch, and she giggled in a manner that spoke volumes.
Spencer shuddered, feeling like he'd been shot. Soon enough the numbing shock inside him turned into a inferno of rage, sadness and ache.
He'd burned his fingers so many times in the past. What the hell did Derek say or do to convince him that this time would be different? He'd known Derek for years, for nearly a decade. In that time he should've been able to memorise that the man didn't do romantic commitments.
Where was his eidetic memory when he would've needed it the most?
Counting the digits of Pi to maintain at least some composure he swallowed thickly, taking one step backwards, then another. He swallowed again and again while licking his lips, fearing that he'd throw up right there and then. His body was shaking so badly that he barely managed to stand upright.
He hoped from the bottom of his heart that he'd manage to make his escape without anyone noticing. He wasn't that lucky. Emily had a frown on her face as she glanced towards him. "Reid? You okay?" Worry lingered in her voice. "Don't tell me that one beer was too much for you."
He shook his head far more vehemently than his head and stomach would've approved, glancing towards the rest of group. Fortunately they seemed too occupied by Derek's antics to notice his distress. "I've just… got another headache. I need some air."
Emily nodded slowly. He was unnerved by the realization dawning in her eyes. "Okay. Call me later, to let me know how you're doing."
Spencer nodded breathlessly, unable to utter another word. He was barely hanging on as it was – if he'd spoken even a syllable…
He was on his way to safety when Emily spoke. "And hey, Reid?" She gave him a tiny, encouraging smile, lifting her glass. "Happy New Year."
He nodded, his eyes far more moist than he would've liked. He had to blink several times. "Happy New Year." His voice was that of a lost five-year-old's. He needed to get out, immediately.
Already stood by the bar's doorway Spencer peered over his shoulder, as though expecting to find a reason to stay. The last thing he saw upon leaving was how the woman leaned forward, closer to Derek's lips. The freezing cold air that slapped him outside struck him breathless, increased the stinging sensation in his eyes.
Despite snow his steps were soundless as he walked away.
Derek could already feel Rebecca's warm breath, he felt how her body shuddered with anticipation under his hands. He knew, from quite wide experience, where things were headed. And all he could think of was Spencer.
Spencer's hands, long fingers.
What the hell am I doing?
He pushed her back, causing her to stumble slightly in her drunken state. She frowned and licked her lips, obviously not understanding what was going on. "What the…?"
Derek swallowed, shaking under the surge that rushed through his body. "'Sorry." His mouth was completely dry, which made his voice sound pathetic. "I'm sorry, but…"
The slap was hard but not unexpected. Derek's ears rang as he watched the girl walk away and it took a moment before he managed to think clearly. He spun around, beginning to make his way towards where the team had been before. Cold spread through his whole body as he noticed that only Emily was left. "What happened to the others?" he demanded as soon as he was close enough for her to hear. He didn't quite manage to hide the undertones of his voice.
Emily's eyes were harder than usual as they examined him. "One Kevin Lynch made a phone call and apologized profusely. I'm sure you can imagine the rest." She nodded towards the further corners of the bar. "Rossi went after a woman who recognized him. I wouldn't expect to see him for the rest of the night." Her eyes sharpened still. "But I don't think you're after them."
Derek blinked owlishly, suddenly realizing that she knew far more than he would've been comfortable with, but the thought didn't live long. She could wait until later – Spencer couldn't. "Do you have any idea where he went?" His voice was tight, choked. It felt like an elephant had slumped on his chest.
His heart sank when Emily shook her head, gulping down the last of her drink. "He left ten minutes ago, so you may still have a chance of catching him. But first…" Her eyes narrowed dangerously, like those of a wild animal preparing to attack. "I've seen the way he looks at you and how you protect him. I know that he's the most important person in this whole world to you – I'm pretty sure everyone else but he knows. But if you ever hurt him again, I'll make sure you regret the day you were born."
Derek shuddered, knowing that she was fully capable of executing her threat. Through that thought relief broke through with overwhelming pressure. There was still hope.
In the spur of the moment – with alcohol working its magic – he leaned forward and planted a chaste, friendly kiss on stunned Emily's forehead. "Thank you", he sputtered, meaning it from the bottom of his racing heart. With nothing further he dashed out of the bar, barely remembering to reclaim his jacket, and barged bravely into the freezing winter.
Quite unsurprisingly the street was busy with celebrating people and Derek struggled to get a clear visual to all directions. His eyes didn't catch the familiar tall, thin man, nor did he see the purple scarf Spencer had been wearing. Making his way through the crowd Derek kept looking around, getting some curious looks. Still not a trace.
Panic rose and swell inside him, filling every single corner of his being. And then Spencer was there, right before his eyes. It did nothing to ease the anxiety inside him, though.
Spencer had slumped to the stairs of a apartment building, just out of the crowd's reach. The genius' right leg was stretched out slightly and the man winced every now and then. There were traces of long ago vanished tears on Spencer's cheeks and frost had dyed his eyelashes white.
Spencer was obviously sad, in pain and hurt. So why could Derek only focus on how pretty the younger man looked with snow falling softly on him?
Shaking his head Derek dashed forward once again, managing to make his way to Spencer with some difficulties. When the hell had the street become so slippery? "Spencer?" He hesitated uncharacteristically, slowing his steps. What if…? It took all his courage to lay a soft hand on his best friend's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Spencer nodded sharply, not looking at him. "I just… twisted my ankle, that's all." Guilt nearly crushed his chest when the younger man stiffened, obviously on guard. It didn't take a genius to tell that his touch was unwanted. "What happened to that girl?" The tone wasn't angry but sad and hollow, a sign of silent defeat. It tore Derek's heart to pieces.
Derek winced inwardly. So he'd messed up even worse than he'd thought. "I was being stupid", he sighed, like it would've explained everything. Slowly, still testing the ground, he sat down next to Spencer. Happiness banished some of the cold inside him when the other man didn't withdraw.
Derek's heart was beating madly as he sat there beside Spencer, all too aware of how much was at stake. It wasn't until at that very moment he realized just how great the terror was in Spencer's eyes when the man finally looked at him.
In Spencer Reid's world second chances weren't given lightly. The young man had been abandoned and let down by far too many people. Derek wasn't about to become one of them, no matter how scared and insecure he was. It was time to stop being a coward.
He swallowed thickly, shaking from much more than just the cold. "I… was supposed to give you something, this morning. But…" He trailed off, the following words tasting too bitter to be uttered. Instead he rummaged through his pocket, finally finding a small black box. He took a deep breath before looking at Spencer and handing the item towards the brunet.
Spencer frowned, accepting the offering hesitantly. "What is this?"
When he didn't speak the genius opened the box – and froze. Derek watched, first with fear, then joy, as the younger man's face turned from a mask of confusion and shock first to hesitation, then to a radiant smile.
Derek couldn't resist a smile of his own. His eyes fell on the key in the brunet's hands. "It's a key to my apartment", he explained unnecessarily, his tone far softer than usual. He searched through Spencer's face, careful to spot any signs of rejection. "Clooney and I would love it if you'd stop by more often next year."
Spencer's eyes were moist as the man stared at him for the longest time, obviously searching as well, then dared to smile again. Derek jumped with startle when all of a sudden feeling a cool hand in his. Looking down he discovered Spencer's fingers, laced determinedly through his. It took less than a heartbeat before he squeezed back with all his heart and soul, as though holding on for dear life.
There were lots of things neither of them dared to voice just yet. But in those moments of winter they heard them all, loud and clear.
And then Spencer laughed, a couple of wet hiccups slipping through.
Derek frowned, confused. "What?"
Spencer shook in head, wiping inexistent moisture from his cheeks with his free hand. "Nothing. Just… I'll have to tell Rossi that the world didn't end, after all."
Derek shook his head, a smile tucking the corner of his lips. Choosing not to pry any further he pulled in a easy breath, his chest light once more. His hold on the other man's hand didn't loosen. "What do you say if I'd take you home?"
Spencer nodded. There was no hesitation in those brown eyes. "Sounds like a good plan."
As he helped Spencer up and they began to limp forward, leaning on each other, neither noticed how the clock ticked to midnight.
'Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.'
The following morning Spencer smiled as he woke up to discover that Derek was fast asleep beside him. Clooney was right behind him as he limped to the kitchen to make some coffee.
A/N: I know, I know, fluffy as cotton. But those two deserve it. (grins sheepishly)
Soooo… How was it? Any good at all? (glances extremely hesitantly) PLEASE, let me know what you think! It'd seriously make my day. Pwease…?
I've gotta tune out now, folks. Thank you so much for reading this!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!
Who knows, maybe I'll be seeing ya guys around next year…?