Thank you again MiaR for the review and to lsmaverickfan for the follow and Rose Girl 12 for the favorite.
Chapter 6: Adjustments and Modifications
The letters slow but the phone calls do not, even if they usually leave voicemails and their conversations are short.
The next time he'd come over was awkward but after two episodes of Doctor Who it as almost as if the discussion hadn't happened. Reid was very grateful he hadn't lost Reese by being an idiot. The second visit after was so comfortable he almost forgot anything had happened and she acted the same as well. The next scheduled visit is cancelled due to a new case.
This third time after their discussion when she opened the door she was standing there in shorts and a tank top and she met him out on the porch, closing the door behind her. Her hair was down and completely free. Reid forced himself not to stare but his mouth went dry. He'd only ever seen her in pants usually with a sweater, sometimes a t-shirt. But shorts? And a tank top? Her hair loose? He was odd for always wearing long sleeves and a vest but her sweatshirts made sense when spending time in the cold basement. And her hair had always been bound in some way. The initial interview was the only time it had ever been unbound and even that time it was half-up. She usually wore her hair in a ponytail or some braid or another.
It just fell out of his mouth… 'Oh real subtle Romeo… smooth…'
A mild blush creeps across her cheeks and inflects her voice, "Thanks." Reese's head bobs down, then back up as she meets his eyes.
"Wh-what's the occasion?"
"Occasion? Oh, you mean the lack of warm clothes? Well, we're going out!"
"Why? What's wrong with Doctor Who in the basement?" 'Why are you taking me out of my comfort zone? Why are you changing things?'
Sighing with her eyes closed, Reese opens her eyes and explains, "I want to show the world that I have a boyfriend. I want to show you off. I want you to show me off. There might not be an actual audience or someone out there evaluating us or paying any kind of attention… But I want to go out. Spence, it's just to a restaurant. Nothing fancy, nothing with a lot of people too close. C'mon, don't you know me? I don't like a lot of noise and a big crowd either. Indian restaurant."
She'd called him 'Spence.'
"That… sounded rehearsed."
"Yeah… I had this need to just go out but I knew I had to have a valid argument to back up the need if I was to convince you."
"Mhm. Now come on, get in the car."
"Really? That – easily?"
"What, you thought I'd put up more of a defense?"
"Hey, you did have a very valid point. Can't argue with that now can I?"
"But you could, you know. I mean, you do know, right? That I'd never push you into doing anything you didn't want to do."
Reid takes her hand for a brief few seconds before they split apart to climb into her car. "I do know. And I thank you."
She smiles at him. "You're welcome. We'll watch Doctor Who after we come back, ok?"
It is an Indian restaurant and Reid is thankful they have that in common. Nothing terrible or out of the ordinary happens. It's almost the same as eating out with his teammates, only he's out on a real date with his girlfriend. They really should have discussed how they were going to pay the bill but Reid just tells their server he'd take it. Reese doesn't bring it up. (He's pretty sure if the bill had been expensive she would have tried to help with it but she's not a high maintenance woman anyway and it's not like he's short on money.)
And he did enjoy the fact that he was displaying her to the world. Not that either of them were showing off on any sense… But that they were just being. He'd once heard Morgan say 'Flaunt what you got' and while they weren't flaunting per se the meaning of the saying applied.
Talking animatedly about the restaurant's menu as they exited, Reid was flapping his hands in the air when Reese interrupted him. "You had fun, didn't you? Admit it."
"I wasn't trying to hide it."
She smiled at him and as they walked back to her car he took her hand. She squeezed and let go – but he didn't. Reese stopped briefly, looking at him and wordlessly asking if he was sure. He offered a shy grin and a nod. She tightened her hold and they walked to her car, hand in hand. The rest of the evening passed in their usual fashion with one addition: their fingers were interlocked between them.
Unhappiness hangs in the air between them tonight as they sit watching Doctor Who. Reese starts school the coming Monday and despite it being her senior year it is as heavy a class load as previous years, plus her two part-time jobs. They're half-way through a second episode and she's hardly said a word. Her eyes are unfocused and Reid wonders what she's pondering. He's unsure if he should ask her or if it's one of those things that women just don't want to talk about. (It's not her menstrual cycle; he's learned her indicators of that. The extra blanket cuddling is missing, though she is curled in on herself a little… There aren't any random twitches of pain on her face. Besides, it isn't the right timing.)
Reese is sitting several inches closer to him than previous dates – he still has to become accustomed to calling them that despite the fact that he'd asked her to date him officially five months ago. Reid himself is sitting exactly two inches closer to the middle of the couch than previous times. She'd held his hand during the very short eleven steps from the front door to the basement door, almost pulling him along with her.
He's about to open his mouth and ask her what is wrong when she looks at him, leans a little closer, and says, "I really don't want school to start back up next week. The psychos seem to consider anything besides summer their season and I'll be busy too."
"I know; I don't like it either. I'll miss you too."
She smiles that he mirrors her unsaid statement. Her eyes flick down, her lips curl inward in thought – Reese untangles the blanket from her and scoots over so that she's flush against him. Reid freezes at the through-fabric contact. It's not much, really; just their shoulders and hips and thighs. Her legs are angled away from him. But it's something and electricity zig-zags through him.
Looking at him side-long, waiting for him to tell her to move; her eyes are only half on the TV and now Reese is biting her cheek.
Reid swallows and puts his arm loosely around her, his hand resting with his fingers against her elbow. She releases her cheek and her lips turn upwards. They spend the next two episodes in silence. He's not sure what's going through her head but her eyes are now focused on the TV and her face appears content.
Eventually he relaxes.
All too soon it's time for him to go.
He's almost ready to take that step out the door when she hugs him. It's quick and he doesn't have time to react but her face tells him everything. Reese is appreciative that he's allowing her to touch him. And she's going to miss him, so much.
Very early September
Another date cancelled to save lives and Reid misses Reese and it hits him that he might be missing something else. Something important. He's heard his coworkers gripe about a missed birthday many a time. "You know Reese… when is your birthday? It's been almost a year since we met… And maybe I missed it before you wrote me back or you didn't want to share it while we were writing… But when is it? I feel like if we're dating –" he still hitches a little when he uses the word or even thinks it. "– I should know."
Especially if we're coming up on knowing each other for a year.
"Haha well it's a good thing you asked! It's next week."
"Hn. Not a lot of time for me to plan something."
"Spencer, you don't have to plan anything. I know you're really busy and now I'm busy. Don't feel pressured to do anything. If you can just sneak a way for a day and come see me like you always do, that'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" Isn't he supposed do something and be an awesome boyfriend? Isn't he supposed to prove his worth?
"Spencer… I really appreciate you thinking about trying to do something but I don't want you to worry about it. I don't want you to even think about it." She does know him all too well. "I will be pleased as punch if you manage to get the day off in such short notice. I would like very much to just spend the day with you like we always do. There's pretty much a never-ending supply of Doctor Who anyway."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure and sure."
"But I want to do something special for you."
"Oh Spencer my Spencer… Do you know how wonderful you are? Every time I open that door and I see your face, it's special. Every episode we spend talking and having to rewatch what just happened is special. Every second we spend next to each other on that couch is special. You don't have to do anything different. I just want to spend whatever time I can with you. That's all I need. That's all I want.
"Maybe we can go out for ice cream or something after the Indian restaurant. But just be here with me, whenever you can."
It's not often that he finds himself speechless, but here he is now with nothing to say. A nickname? How did he get so fortunate to have found both Maeve and Reese? And he didn't do anything stupid to break either relationship?
Every time he thinks about Maeve, it hurts less and less… It still hurts, it always will. She'll always be a part of him. Just like Lila Archer will always be a part of him. They're part of his past… and right now Reese is his present and his immediate future. Reid doesn't think about the future-future… There's thinking and then there's over-thinking. He usually does the latter. Right now it's time to live in the moment.
"Reese? Could you do something for me?" Reid has to make sure she understands what she means to him; how much he appreciates her and her actions to him. Reese has to know how amazing he finds her.
There's a pause before she answers, "Yes."
"Close your eyes; pretend I'm there with you." He's seen her go off in a daydream a few times while watching TV. Her eyes are only half-open, completely unfocused. Her mouth hangs down just a little, her body is completely relaxed. She's completely forgotten where she is; she's off in her own little world. Reid imagines her doing that now.
"Where are you? Are you standing or sitting?"
"Standing. I'm against the doorframe to the kitchen." Oh, it was so easy to have him here with her. Reese can't believe Spencer is initiating this.
"I'm in front of you and I'm stretching my arm out to put my hand on your face."
She can smell him. He doesn't wear cologne but he always smells clean and natural and genuine. Reese knows that a concept is a very odd way to describe someone's scent, but that's just how he smells to her. She puts the phone between her cheek and shoulder, and lets her arms hang at her side. Her body thrums with anticipation.
"I'm putting my hand on your cheek, rubbing my thumb just near your – your mouth."
Spencer is right here, right in front of her, touching her, stroking her mouth… He's whispering something to her but she doesn't catch it. Reese tilts her head up in anticipation as Spencer closes that last inch. His head is coming down to meet her…
Reid yanks the phone away from his ear. "Reese? Reese! What happened?!" He can hear her exclaiming 'Oh bugger!' but it's muffled, like her mouth isn't next to the speaker.
His heart rate slows back down to normal. The team has covered exactly four cases in which someone was killed while they were on the phone and exactly five in which they'd been abducted while on the phone. But Reese isn't yelling or crying and he can hear her cursing in her own way in mild anger but not terror.
"Reese? What happened?"
"I'm sorry! I dropped the phone."
"You dropped the phone? Why?" Why would she do that? What happened?
"You dropped the phone."
There is a very long pause; Reid counts one hundred and nine seconds. "Yes, I dropped the phone."
… Maybe she doesn't want to talk about it? Reid swallows, wanting to know why. But if Reese isn't going to tell him, then he's not going to coerce her into speaking. She'd given him time and space when he needed it. She'd given him so much time and space to become comfortable with her. It's the least he can do to reciprocate. "Are – are you ok?" If one of her roommates had accidentally bumped into her or she'd stubbed her toe or something – she would have told him.
Scrabbling at possibilities won't get him anywhere and Reid tries to push the potential secret she's keeping out of his mind.
"Yes, I'm fine. I just dropped the phone."
The repetition of this fact clues him in that she's embarrassed by something. Whatever it is she shouldn't be embarrassed about it and he opens his mouth to ask her again what happened when he changes gears. "Ok. I'm glad you're alright."
"I just dropped the phone Spencer, I'm fine."
He breathes, counts to ten by the square root of two, and says, "Good. I'll try to get up there to celebrate your birthday, ok?" Waitasecond. Did she hear what he'd told her before she dropped the phone?
"That would be great! Um, hey, Spencer?"
"When is your birthday?"
Reciprocation. "Late October. Hey! The team is planning a party; do you think you could come down?"
"I – I could try. Would – " There's another pause before Reese speaks again. "Could Sasha come with me? I've – I haven't flown in over five years and there is no way I'm doing it alone."
"I could – "
"No. It's your birthday and my turn to come to you."
"You could drive. You don't seem to mind driving."
"I don't mind driving two hours from home to school and back; I don't mind driving into town and back. But to Virginia? That's a really long drive from Michigan to Virginia. It's at least a ten hour drive, maybe eleven or twelve. I'd get there and have to turn right around. I'd spend most of my time trying to catch up on sleep and homework."
"I knew that's how long it would take; how did you know that?"
"I – I used Mapquest."
Reid doesn't understand the exact meaning of her statement – What is a 'Mapquest'? But he does understand what she's conveying. Reese had had some thought about coming to visit him? Since when? "When did you look up the route?"
He can feel her embarrassment emanating from the earpiece on his phone. "Several times, actually. Sometimes I – I really miss you."
Reid's smile broadens and deepens. "I miss you too; all the time. I don't think you heard me before, but I want you to know how amazing you are. You're amazing, ok? I want you to know that."
In his mind's eye he can see her lip go over her bottom teeth, distorting her blushing smile; her eyes sweep down to the floor. Any time he's ever complimented her or Sasha or one of her other housemates have ever complimented her, she goes into this mode of flushing cheeks and stuttering and hesitancy; unsure how to react. "Th-thanks Spencer. You're pretty amazing yourself."
A plan begins to form in his mind and he adds to it while they talk for a little bit longer. After finally saying goodbye he goes to find Garcia. "Whatcha need lover boy? Help on the girlfriend front?"
"Yes. What do I do for her birthday? I won't be able to make it down there until after the fact. I have something in mind but I need more ideas."
"Whatcha got? We'll build from that foundation."
"I'm thinking flowers and there's this white chocolate that she really likes but it's a bit pricey for a college student's budget."
"Mmmmm…. Roses and chocolate. I'd say you're doing pretty good right there. She's not really the type for a candlelight dinner and wine, right?"
"I said flowers, as in an arrangement of many, Garcia. I think roses would be a little too much right now. But I'll be getting them in her favorite color. And yes, she's not the wine and dine sort of woman."
"Hm… Well, ok. Here's what I'm thinking. She made the first move to go out-out, right? Said she wanted to show you off? Well, take her to a nice restaurant and…"