Sometimes a scene plops up in my mind and demands to be written down. If I ignore it, it interferes with everything I write and ruins several things, so I have learned to give the oneshots their place only to get them out of my head. Sometimes they end up being rather decent fics, and I think this one fits in that category. I hope you'll think so too.
He kept telling himself that it was childish of him, and that they had a lot on their minds after this gruesome case… but knowing this didn't make any difference to what he felt. He felt abandoned and overlooked, and it was a rather ridiculous reaction from a man in his thirties if the reason for it was simply that his co-workers had forgotten his birthday. It wasn't the first time it happened, either.
Oh, I'll just go out and celebrate on my own. Maybe buy a slice of ice-cream cake and a bunch of new books.
It was funny, but before the BAU, that would actually have been what he called great birthday plans. Nowadays though, he no longer wanted to be alone if he could be with his team. But this had been a difficult case and they were all tired, and he supposed they wouldn't have the energy to deal with him on top of everything ,when they just wanted to get back home and get some rest.
His intellect knew this and understood the concept perfectly well.
His emotions, however, did not. They cried out, over and over, like a little kid; "hey, it's not fair! Not fair!"
As they landed and got out of the jet at Quantico, just shy of noon, everyone scattered in different directions. He had anticipated that, but that didn't mean he wasn't disappointed. He had hoped that they were secretly planning a surprise party - he didn't like those very much, but he didn't look forward to spending his birthday all alone either - but nobody seemed to be keeping secrets or making plans. He sighed and checked his mental timetable. If he hurried he could catch the bus and be home in less than an hour. He didn't feel like taking the subway today.
"Hey, Reid," a soft voice said from behind him. "What's the matter? You've been awfully quiet ever since we left the hotel this morning."
Blake caught up with him, and she looked genuinely concerned.
Her eyes narrowed.
"It's something, alright. You're not sick, are you?"
"No, I'm fine."
Well, fine was a bit of an exaggeration, in reality he felt pretty lousy, but that was an emotional thing and not an illness. Blake did not seem convinced, however, but she wasn't pushing the issue.
"Come on, I'll give you a ride home," she said.
"That's not necessary," he objected.
"I know. Come on."
He couldn't help smiling. He liked her, she was like a friend, a mother, and a big sister, all rolled into one, and it seemed like she always understood, intuitively, how to deal with him. What he needed. When he needed some comfort and when he needed some tough love. Most of the time he didn't know first hand what he was in need of, so maybe it was a good idea to accept the ride and, with that, her company.
Once they were in the car, Reid decided to eliminate the risk of doing this to someone else without knowing. At least he told himself that's what it was, although most people could see it for what it really was; a not-so-subtle hint.
"When is your birthday, Alex? I want to make a note of it."
Blake rolled her eyes.
"I don't have birthdays anymore. I stopped at 40."
"Not celebrating birthdays won't keep you from getting older," he said, then realised that that probably wasn't something you were supposed to say to a woman. Luckily, Blake wasn't offended, she just laughed and nodded.
"You do have a point."
She glanced at him and noticed the whole demeanour that was so unlike Spencer Reid. She wasn't unfamiliar with subtle and not-so-subtle hints, and quickly realised what was the matter.
"Happy birthday, Spencer. I didn't know it was today."
"Thank you, um, I…"
"That's why you've been so sad today, isn't it? Because nobody remembered your birthday?"
He looked down at his hands.
"It's childish, I know…"
"Not childish," she said warmly and put her hand on his arm. "It hurts to be forgotten, no matter how well you know that people don't do it on purpose."
"Thanks." He looked out the window. "What are you doing? This isn't the way to my place."
"Change of plans," Blake said, smiling.
"Ice-cream for lunch? Seriously?" Reid said. He tried to sound hesitant, but in reality he was about as excited as an eight-year-old who was told they could have dessert without finishing the vegetables. Blake chuckled a little at his obvious eagerness.
"Why not? It's your birthday, anything goes. Why don't you make the order, I have to make a phone call. Get me a banana split," she said and put a couple of bills into his hand.
He walked up to the line and she went outside sending a group text to the team.
Guys, today is Reid's birthday. Can we gather for a drink tonight when everyone's had some rest?
Rossi's response came first.
My place. 8 pm. Dinner and drinks are on me. Can't believe I forgot!
She smiled to herself as the rest sent their "will be there" replies - everyone, including Hotch - and put her phone back in her purse and went back inside, where Reid just put down two oversized banana splits onto a table, then turned towards her. He had a splotch of whipped cream on his cheek and he beamed like a little boy.
"We're having dinner and drinks at Rossi's at 8. Everyone's coming," she said.
His smile grew even wider and he actually reached out and wrapped his arms around her in a big hug.
"Thank you Alex," he said. "This is turning into the best birthday I've ever had."
She returned the hug, overwhelmed by the tenderness in the gesture. It wasn't like Reid to initiate physical contact. As she let go of him, she wiped the whipped cream off his cheek with her thumb.
"I can see that, you're so excited you're eating with your entire face," she teased.
"It was you who said anything goes when it's my birthday," he joked.
"I admit that was a poor choice of words," she replied, but she was still smiling.
"When is your birthday?" he insisted after the first bite. Blake averted her eyes.
"Oh. Happy belated birthday," he said, looking a bit sheepish. "I had no idea."
Blake managed a smile. It didn't look all sincere, but she tried.
"Well, like I told you, I don't celebrate them anyway."
While Reid wasn't the most attentive when it came to social clues, even he could tell that Blake only said so to protect herself, and that wasn't fair. He discreetly sent a group text of his own while Blake was busy battling the mountain of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and banana… and that's how it came to be that the BAU celebrated two birthdays that night.
That's also how it came to be that the entire BAU team spent their day off nursing a rather severe hangover…