It was only Wednesday, and it had already been a rough week at work. A serial child abductor had been caught, but too late to save his latest victim. It was small comfort that his victims' families would have justice. It was also the one year anniversary of their apprehension of another unsub the media had dubbed "The Blue Ridge Strangler". That case didn't end well, either. He felt restless, almost like he couldn't breathe. So he didn't go directly home, but rather opted to get off the Metro by Farragut Park and walk up Connecticut toward DuPont Circle. The White House looked stunning when lit up at night, and he hoped the walk would help him unwind and clear his mind.

"Oh my god, man! That is you? Spencer! Hold up!"

He turned and saw a man waving at him from across the street. He stopped dead in his tracks as though he'd seen a ghost. The man was wearing a Hawaiian shirt- rumpled, of course. He was a little older, a little heavier and his hair a little thinner, but there was no mistaking him as he dodged traffic crossing the street. "Hey, Joe," he called, returning the wave and smiling, his mood lifting at the sight of his old friend.

Joe finally reached his side of the street and, ignoring Spencer's proffered hand, grabbed him with a tight bear hug. "Damn, aren't you a sight for sore eyes! Nice man-purse, by the way," he teased, tugging at the strap across his chest. "So, hey, what are you doing here? You live here now?"

"Yes. Well, north of here, anyway. And you?"

"Oh, just in town on business."

"Really? What business?"

"Ah… I'm in marketing, I guess you could say. Personnel management, that sort of thing. What's your deal now? You doing research around here or something?"

"No, actually, I-"

"Don't tell me you're teaching now! What, at like Georgetown or something? Because I cannot picture you giving a lecture every day. I mean, I can picture you lecturing me every day. I've seen you do that. But, like, to a hall full of strangers? No way. Man, you really have come out of your shell, haven't you? Good for you, Spinster!"

He still hated that nickname, but smiled in spite of it. "No, Joe, I'm not a professor. I work down at Quantico, for the FBI. I-"

"You teach for the FBI? Like, what? How to talk people to death? Now that, I can see."

"No, I don't teach. I'm an agent."

Joe laughed. Loudly. "Yeah, right." He had to pause to catch his breath, then said, "but seriously, what do you do?"

"I'm an agent. For the FBI. Seriously. Wait," he reached into his messenger bag and drew out a card, which he handed to Joe. "See?"

"Ooh, fancy. Supervisory Special Agent," he read. "Behavioral Analysis Unit...the fuck is that?"

"It's part of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, or NCAVC, that together with ViCAP, the violent crime analysis pro-" he caught Joe giving him a dubious look. "I'll put it in little tiny words so that you can understand. We catch bad guys. Really bad guys."

"Fuck you, man," he laughed again. "Hey," he said with a touch of seriousness. "How's your mom doing these days? She here in town with you?"

Spencer winced a bit at the question. But he understood his old college friend only asked out of genuine concern. "No, she's still in Vegas. She's in a facility. She seems to be doing well there."

"Hey man, look at me." Spencer met his gaze and Joe continued, "don't do that. Don't beat yourself up. You're doing the best you can by her."

He fiddled with the strap on his bag. "Yeah. I know, I guess. Say, how's your sister?"

Joe smirked. "Which one? Patsy or Cori?" He laughed at the look of irritation on Spencer's face. "Oh! Wait- you mean Chris? Her? Yeah," he laughed again. "She's fine. Batshit crazy still, but fine. Seven years now, and still in remission. So thank God for that."

"That's great to hear."

"Yeah, I think so. Hey, so tell me- you seeing anyone these days?"

"What- you mean, socially? No…no. I'm just, you know…really busy. I, uh, really haven't…had the time for that…" He cleared his throat and shifted a little uncomfortably.

"Oh sure. Right. You're too busy. That's the reason. Anyway, look. I know a girl here in DC- lemme set you up."

"No, that's really not necessary, Joe, I-"

"Bullshit. You're going to meet her, and I promise you're going to like her. She's cute, she's smart, she's perfect for you. What are you doing this Friday?"

"This Friday?" Spencer felt himself starting to panic inwardly. This could not end well. "Joe, you know, my work schedule is so…wait. What are you doing? Hey, stop!" Joe had his cell phone out and was dialing. "Come on, man, don't…just…come on! Put it away!"

Joe smiled. "Yeah, hey," he said into his phone. "It's me…hey- what are you up to Friday night? Yes, this Friday…okay, besides that…well, it's your lucky day! I just found you a date…No…No! He's a great guy! Smart, gainfully employed, perfectly respectable…He is not! He's actually the tall, dark and handsome type…Yes…Yes…No. You are doing this. Seriously. You want to meet this guy. Trust me!...Okay, when have I ever steered you wrong, hmm?" Joe sighed and made a face. "Okay, besides that…and that…and…Jesus-fucking-Christ! I get it! But I'm not wrong this time! Look, I'll make you a deal. If you don't like him, you can kick me in the nuts. And if he acts like an asshole on your date, you can kick him in the nuts, too." Spencer gave Joe a look of alarm, but Joe just held up his hand. "Okay. Deal. I'll make the reservation, and all the two of you have to do is show up…Fine…Okay, fine…Bye." Joe clicked off his phone and smiled broadly.

"You promised to let her kick me in the testicles? Are you out of your mind? You know I have no social skills around women!"

"Oh, hype down. I only told her she got to hurt you if you behave like an asshole. But you're not an asshole. A dork, maybe, and kinda clueless, but not an asshole. Act like a gentleman, treat her like a lady, and you'll be fine. I promise."

Spencer sighed and said miserably, "Fantastic. Looks like I have a date. Hooray."

"Looks like it! Hey, trust me! You'll have a good time. Promise. I've gotta get back to my hotel and find a place for you two to meet. I've got your cell here, so I'll call with the details, okay?"

"Yeah. Great. Have a good night."

"Thanks man. You, too! And do me a favor. Try not to look like that when you meet her, okay?"

"Like what?"

"Like you're silently praying for the earth to open beneath your feet and swallow you. Gotta run!"

Spencer watched him leave and decided to skip the walk, opting instead to take a cab home. Later that night, his phone rang. He didn't recognize the number, but assumed it was Joe. He reasoned if he didn't answer he could give the excuse he never got the call or heard the voicemail and thus presumed the plans were off. As he lay in bed he felt a dull ache in his chest. He'd asked about Christine, but Joe just changed the subject and had set him up with a stranger. He'd thought about her often over the years. Now he was all but certain- she'd grown up and grown healthy, gone out in the world and was busy being happy. But not with him. He secretly hated the man she might be with now; he couldn't imagine another appreciating her brilliance, her liveliness, her impish mischievousness or her kindness in the way she deserved. In a way he wished he'd had the courage years ago to show her that he did, when they were still just college friends. He groaned and turned onto his side, feeling stupid and trapped into going on a date he really didn't want.

"Hey, lover boy, long night last night?"

He jumped at the sound of Morgan's voice behind him, nearly spilling coffee on himself. "You should be more careful, sneaking up on people like that," he muttered. "And what makes you say that, anyway?"

"Well, you look like you haven't slept, and I can tell you're daydreaming because you're staring at that report without turning the pages. Don't need a PhD in math to see that adds up to a long night of playing kissy face." Morgan grinned at him like a Cheshire Cat.

"Well, maybe you'd better brush up on your math," he replied. "It's nothing like that."

Morgan was relentless. He leaned casually against his desk, still grinning. "Then enlighten me, Pretty Boy. Something has you all distracted."

He sighed and looked up. "I just ran into an old college friend last night, quite unexpectedly."

"What's her name? Is she pretty?"

"His name is Joe, and he most certainly is not."

"Wow, I did not see that coming, especially the way your head turns every time a pretty girl walks past."

"What? No. You think I'm…? No," he said. "It's definitely not that. Joe is just a friend. It was strange to run into him after so long. It brought back a lot of memories. You know, he-"

"Sorry to break it up, boys," JJ interrupted, handing them each a file. "Hotch wants us in the conference room. Now."

Saved by a case, he thought, relieved. He pulled out his cellphone.

"Reid, you comin'?" Morgan asked.

"Be right there. I have a voicemail I've got to check." He watched him leave and listened to the message.

"Hey man, it's me. So I've got you reservations for 8:00 at Obelisk under the name Arcangeli. Give me a call if you need directions. You'd better not wuss out on me, now. Oh, and maybe get her some flowers. Chicks love flowers. Good luck!"

He hung up and was starting up the stairs just as Hotch stepped out of the room to look for him. "Sorry! I'm here," he said, walking into the room

"Good. Let's get started."

The case was a brief one, and not too far away. A student who'd been recently expelled from Chapel Hill was caught after a series of break-ins at the female dorms that targeted Asian exchange students and had escalated to one student's rape. Luckily, in light of recent attacks at UVa and Virginia Tech, campus and local police had recognized early on they were in over their heads and had requested their assistance before any further harm could be done. Thus, Friday found them back at Quantico. After two nearly sleepless nights, Hotch told them all to go home upon their return in the early afternoon.

So now he really had no excuse not to go on this date. His first real date. And a blind date, to boot. Once he was on the Metro headed home, he closed his eyes and groaned inwardly at this thought, feeling a little queasy.

Hey, do me a favor, Spencer. For once, just this once, instead of imagining everything that could possibly go wrong, try imagine all that could go right.

He heard her voice so clearly in his mind that for a brief moment he thought she was right there, and his eyes flew open, expecting to see her smiling right in front of him. He looked about. No, of course she wasn't there. He heard the speakers announcing his stop.

Once at home he resolved to try and give this a chance. After showering, shaving and brushing his teeth, he tried to decide what to wear. He briefly considered calling Joe for advice but decided against it, thinking, I'm a grown man- I should at least be able to dress myself by now. He settled on a jacket, tie, and trousers, second guessed the tie, chose another tie, decided against that, and was trying to decide between his third and fourth choices when he suddenly thought, What about my socks? Should I wear matching ones? It was a silly childhood superstition of his to wear mismatched ones, but it had been his habit for so long...he caught sight of the time. 7:18. He had to get out the door immediately if he hoped to pick up flowers and still arrive by 8:00. He threw on the tie in his right hand and hurried out the door after pulling on his socks.

They didn't match.

The cab dropped him off at the florist and he wandered in. He was relieved to see the sales girl was busy with other customers; he wasn't eager to answer any questions regarding for whom he was buying the flowers or why. His first thought was to buy roses, but the cost of them was gallingly high. Some calla lilies caught his eye. They looked simple and tasteful. But they were more expensive than the roses. He decided to base his search on a price he was willing to pay rather than the aesthetics of the flower. It seemed rather illogical to spend so much money on something that would wilt and wind up in the trash quickly, anyway, particularly after what he'd read he could expect to spend on dinner. Finally, he found a sign that said "$15/doz" sticking out of a bucket of tulips. They seemed pretty enough, and the price was right. He didn't want to seem too forward, so he selected a bunch of white ones, the most neutral and platonic color he could think of, and went to pay for them. The young lady behind the counter smiled cheerfully and remarked how sweet they looked. It calmed his nerves a bit to hear it. She wrapped them and tied them with a bow. As he left the store he checked his watch. 7:54. The restaurant was approximately an 8 minute walk. He hated tardiness in others and even more so in himself and hoped that, at least tonight, this was one thing he and his date did not have in common.

"Good evening, sir. Your reservation?"

He tried to slow his breathing from the very brisk walk he'd just taken. "Arcangeli," he answered, wincing as heard his own voice crack.

The hostess smiled broadly and chuckled. "Oh, so you're the lucky guy tonight! Please, follow me sir." As they passed a few other members of the wait staff he heard her quietly sing to them, "He's heeeere!" Spencer could feel them watching behind him and wondered what on earth Joe had set him up for.

Then he heard it. That laugh. Bright, clear and inappropriately loud. It had been seven years since he'd heard that laugh. As they went around a corner, he saw her standing with her back to him, her arm around a member of the waitstaff, posing as another took their picture. Her hair had grown back- longer, brighter, redder and curlier than ever. But it was her.

"Hurry up, now! Take this pic! And after that, I'm gonna bounce. No, I mean it, guys! Seriously, this dude's gotta be a real dickasaurus rex not to have the decent common courtesy to show up on time! But at least I get to kick my brother in his mangina as payback for buying me a ticket on this train wreck of an evening!"

Spencer laid the tulips down on a chair and said, "My apologies, Christine. Surely you can forgive an old friend?"

She jumped at his voice and spun around, her hand over her open mouth. The wait staff around her all laughed and hurried off to their stations. "No way! Oh my god, you heard that! Spencer! Look at you!" She threw her arms around him, giggling. "He never told me it was you...! Sit, sit!" She gestured to his seat.

He almost sat, then remembered his manners and held out the chair for her. "Still thinking of leaving?"

She shook her head with a laugh and sat. "I just can't believe..." Her voice trailed off, and she feigned indignation. "Well, if you knew it was me, then why did you show up late? You know that pisses me off!"

"I didn't know it was you I was meeting. It seems Joe kept us both in the dark." He nearly sat on the flowers and stopped. "I, um, got these for you. They're not much..." He suddenly wished he'd sprung for the roses.

She took them and looked at them quietly for a moment. He couldn't see her face well enough to read her expression. "They're um, they're..." her voice was strangely soft now. "They're absolutely beautiful. You gentleman has ever given me flowers before. Thank you, Spencer, for being the one who gave them to me..." She then stood up and snapped off one of the blossoms. She stepped over to him and slipped it into the button hole on his lapel. "There. Now you've got one, too." When she sat down again, she gave him her familiar impish smile. "But Joe told me I'd be meeting an FBI agent tonight. So it seems that was another joke he's played. What are you doing in DC these days, anyway?"

"Now, why is it so hard for you to believe I'm an agent? Look," he fished in his pocket. "My credentials."

"I'll be damned..."

"Why should you be surprised? It was your idea, after all."

"Mine? Really." She raised an eyebrow.

"Don't you remember the question you asked me that night at your birthday party?"

She sat back and grinned. "I asked you what you wanted to be as a child. The first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up. And you said," she smiled a little broader, "you said when you were really little, you wanted to be Superman when you grew up."

"And you told me, 'I can totally see that.' I thought you were teasing me. But you said, 'No. You can do it- fight for truth, justice and the American way.'" He smiled back at her. "I remember thinking, 'This girl is crazy,' because when you said that, you were completely serious. You honestly believed that."

"I did."

"A few years ago, when I was finishing my last degree and trying to figure out what my next step was going to be, some agents came to recruit on campus. And as soon as I saw them, I remembered that conversation and decided to give it a go. So now- this is what I am. Supervisory Special Agent Reid."

"Well, I am...astounded. So what, they let you shoot people and kill men with your bare hands?"

"As to the former, I'm still working on my certification. And as to the latter, no. We leave that to the CIA." They both laughed. It felt so good to be able to speak freely with his friend again, with someone whom he knew understood both his strengths as well as his weaknesses and accepted him just as he was. "You look lovely, by the way."

She rolled her eyes. "Thanks," she said. She never was good at accepting compliments. "You clean up pretty well, yourself. So tell me, Spencer, have you been busy breaking the hearts of all the pretty senators' daughters?"

"You do remember this is me you're talking to, right? No. I haven't seen anyone. Actually, the only people I've really even made friends with are my coworkers. I…well, you know me. I still haven't figured out how to talk to women."

A server came to tell them about the menu and take their drink order. After he had left, she said, "You don't seem to be having any trouble talking to me."

"You're different. You know me. And you never make me feel like I'm weird. I always liked talking to you."

Their waiter returned with their wine. After he'd left, she said, "Aw, look at you, Spencer! Drinking wine just like a big boy now! You know, you really should have let me get you that fake ID that time. We could have gotten into some real trouble, then!"

"That's exactly why I wouldn't let you! God knows what kind of ridiculousness would have transpired with you egging me on. Besides, I was sixteen then!"

"And your point is…? Dude, you still look like you're sixteen!"

"Gee, thanks. But enough about me. Have you seen anyone romantically since last we met?"

She laughed too loudly, and then remembering where she was, clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle her giggles. "No," she said finally. "Well, not many anyway. The problem with me is I don't have a whole lot of patience in dealing with morons. And most guys I meet have IQs barely above room temperature. The last guy I went out with, after dinner we went back to his place. To play Scrabble. Yeah. That's right. Scrabble. Because that's how nerds like us roll. So anyway," she continued, shaking her head as he laughed, "he started getting all pissy because I happen have a better vocabulary than him and…well, the night ended with him turning over coffee table we were playing on and me taking a whiffle ball bat to some ridiculous model of the Starship Enterprise he'd built." She sipped her wine. "I can't imagine why he never called me again."

"I'll try to remember never to make you mad."

"Nah, I think you're safe. I don't think Momma Reid raised her no jackass."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"No problem. Anyway, when you look like this, you'd better have a helluva lot a charm to get a date, because God knows I don't have much else to offer. And me…well, I lack both the ability and the inclination to keep my opinions to myself."

"'Look like this'? What do you mean? You're beautiful!"

"Dude, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a short, freckled ginger. However, I guess I do have one thing going for me- since I saw you last I did grow some pretty sweet tits. So there's that…" She laughed at his reaction. "Oh, pick your jaw up off your lap, boy! And don't you dare tell me you didn't notice, because you've hardly been able to keep your eyes off them since you got here."

"No! What? No…I didn't-"

Just then their waiter stopped by their table.

"Reprieve!" she whispered with a smirk.

He felt himself flushing deep red as he waited for their waiter to leave. When he was gone, Spencer leaned forward and said, "You're terrible."

"Oh, don't pretend to be all prissy and prudish with me. Frankly, I'd have been disappointed if you hadn't noticed. You're a guy, and all guys fall into one of two categories: either they like tits, or they like ass. Lucky for me, you appear to be the former. So congratulations, Spencer. You are a perfectly normal, healthy, heterosexual man!"

"You're terrible," he reiterated, at a loss for other words.

"True. But at least I have a sweet rack," she said, taking a bite.

He cleared his throat. "So, tell me, what do you specialize in? Where do you practice?"

She stopped with her glass raised and stared at him. "Wait. Joe didn't tell you?"

"No. All he said was that was that I'd be meeting someone cute and smart. Nothing else."

"Well," she said, setting her glass down. "I'm not a doctor."

"Oh. Didn't you finish med school?"

"No no. I finished. I just decided not to practice."

"Oh. So…you teach? Write?"

"Not exactly. Did Joe tell you what he does?"

"He said he was in marketing and personnel management."

She chuckled. "Yeah. That sounds about right. See, Joe likes to think he's my boss, but in reality, he works for me. You know what Joe did after graduation, right?"

"Yes. Well, he said he was moving to New York, anyway. I thought Patsy got him a job there."

"She did. But he found civil engineering mind-numbingly boring. So he started doing stand-up."


"Comedy. You know. Where you hang out in a bar with a microphone telling jokes to drunk strangers in the hope that they'll like you."

"You're kidding."

"No. Strangely enough, comedy is one thing I don't kid about. Anyway, he made a bit of a name for himself and some money, too- enough so that he was able to quit his day job. And when I visited him, damn if it didn't seem like he was living the dream. So I tried my own hand at it. I even entered Georgetown's 'Funniest Person on Campus' contest and won. As a prize, I got $50 and the chance to perform at the DC Improv. And they were so impressed by my talent they offered me a permanent stint."


"Yep. Bussing tables. Eventually I worked all the way up to bartender. I was just that good."

"And so you're a…bartender?" he asked incredulously.

"Hey, you say that like it's a bad thing! It's actually quite glamorous, what with getting stiffed on tips, mopping up vomit, having the occasional drink thrown at me and all. My favorite, though, was when guys would piss all over the entire bathroom except in the urinal and I got to clean it up. Yep. Those were the days. Sadly, however, after graduation I had to leave that job."

"Okay. Great story. But what do you actually do now?"

"Well, I moved to New York and worked for a while as Joe's opening act. Then he became my opening act. Now he's my manager, my webmaster, sells t-shirts and stuff with my jokes on them...basically, he's the ringmaster of the circus that is me."

"So you're a comedian."

"I try to be, anyway. Yep."

"Well I…I really don't know what to say…"

"Oh, go ahead. You can say whatever you please. I suspect part of you wants to say exactly what my brother Wes said."

"Oh no. What was that?" Christine was the youngest of the five Arcangeli siblings. Wesley was the eldest, 13 years her senior, and he knew the two of them had always had a strained relationship.

"The day I told my family I would not be taking the last of my boards because I'd decided to pursue a career in comedy, my mother cried, my father sat silently with steam coming out of his ears, and Wesley declared that I was pissing away my education in order to become a professional fuck up."

"Wow. That was brutal."

"He also informed me that I was bringing shame to the family name and that I was the greatest disappointment of our father's life." Her voice had started to shake a bit. "That…that was the one that hurt right there." She sat for a moment, pondering her plate, then continued, "Yeah, so, Wes and I don't exactly speak to one another anymore." She pulled a wry smile.

They sat in awkward silence for a moment, because the truth was, Spencer had also been thinking what a shame it was for her to toss aside so many years of higher education for something as trivial as comedy. Finally he asked, "Do you enjoy what you do?"

"Enjoy it?" She brightened up again. "Are you crazy? I love it! I travel, I make way more money now than I would as a resident, I only work a few hours a day and my job literally consists of me laughing for a living. What's not to love?"

He raised an eyebrow. "It pays that well?"

"Now it does. For a few years there I was, for all intents and purposes, homeless. I lived out of my car and shitty motel rooms and couch surfed with friends. But I've caught some really lucky breaks. I just have to stay on my game now and not let my act go to hell. But when you think about it, our career paths aren't really all that different, you know."

"Ah, you mean yours and mine? I'd say they're just about as different as they can be!"

"No man, think about it. You should have wound up in academia or research. I should have been writing scripts for Tylenol. The skinny, clumsy kid found a way to be a superhero, and the shy, stuttering lisper found a way to get people to give a damn about what she has to say. We both found a way to make our dreams come true."

He smiled and lifted his glass. "You're right. To making dreams come true."

She lifted her glass to his. "Damn straight."

They laughed and caught up for hours. He tried to tell her about some of the cases he'd worked on, but these mainly elicited looks of horror and disgust from her. She regaled him with stories of the worst gigs she'd played, the most withering heckles she'd received, and of times that were so desperate that the money she was paid for performing for a night hardly covered the cost of gas and tolls it took to get ther there and back. As they got up to leave, the staff approached her for one more group photo, which Spencer took for them. As he handed the camera back to its owner, he was told they wanted one of just Christine and him. "Go on, put your arm around her!" He obliged with an arm around her shoulder, and felt her put hers around his waist. He hoped they wouldn't see him blushing in the picture. "Thanks! Have a fun rest of the night, you two!" They both smiled and waved as they left.

"So they know you, then?" he asked as they left.

"Yeah. One of the girls had a birthday and they all came to a gig last week. But her date got completely wasted and tried heckling me, so I ended up verbally bitch-slapping him until security finally tossed him. The awesome part is, she stayed! Guess she liked my version of the show better than his. When I got here tonight, she actually thanked me for exposing him for the complete douche nozzle he is and told me she'd dumped his ass. So I'm putting that one down in the win column for me!"

Stepping outside, they saw it had begun to rain. "Shall I call you a cab, or would you care to share one?" he offered, suddenly feeling foolish for having said so. He didn't even know where she lived.

"Nah, that's okay. My place is just down a few blocks. I can hoof it."

"But, you don't even have an umbrella."

"No worries. I ain't made of sugar, so I won't melt! Besides, I like the rain, remember?"

"I know, but...please, at least let me walk you," he insisted, opening up his own umbrella.

"Well, look at you, a regular Boy Scout. Always prepared," she teased, taking his arm.

They laughed and chatted. After a few minutes the rain stopped, and he folded his umbrella. She still held his arm.

"Well, this is me," she finally said, stopping. "I really want to thank you, Spencer. I had the best time tonight. And the flowers are...they're very beautiful. My new favorites."

"Well, you're welcome. And thank you, too. It's been wonderful. May I...I mean...would you mind if maybe I saw you again?"

"You'd better! And you'd better not wait another seven years before you do." She let go of his arm and squeezed his hand. "Good night, Spencer. Thanks again."

"Good night," he replied softly, as she turned to go in.

Suddenly she stopped and turned back toward him. Taking a step forward she said, "You know, there's something I've been wondering about, ever since we first met."

"What's that?"

"What it would be like."

"What what would be like?"

She stood up on her tiptoes, put her hand behind his neck and pressed her lips to his. Without even realizing it, his arms crept around her and pulled her in close. After what seemed like a long while, she stood back with her feet flat on the ground again and rested her forehead on his chest. She sighed and murmured, "That"

"Yes..." He put a hand under her chin and raised her face to his. "So when?"


"When may I see you again?" Before she could answer he kissed her, deeply this time, holding her so tightly he nearly lifted her off her feet. After, they stood there quietly for a moment, still holding one another.

"I suppose you can call me any time after 10 tomorrow. I should be awake and lucid by then..."

"Okay. I will."

She turned and went inside. After watching her disappear, he began to walk to the corner to catch a cab. It started to rain again. He turned his face upwards and smiled. He didn't put his umbrella up.

Back at his apartment in Baltimore, Joe was working on editing some videos and posting them on Chris' YouTube channel when he got an email. It was from her. There was nothing in the subject line. He opened it to find a single sentence:

I think I just went out with the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Joe smiled to himself. It only took her seven years to figure out what he had known all along. A few minutes later his phone buzzed with a text message. This one was from Spencer.

My first kiss was better than yours.

Brittney Harters. She had braces and smelled like Reese's cups. He'd forgotten he'd told Spencer that story. Laurie came in the room and asked, "What are you laughing about now?"

He closed his laptop and stood up to hold her. "Oh, Chris and that guy I told you about just finished their date. And it seems it went well. Come on," he said,swatting her bottom. "Let's go to bed."

A/N added 4/29/2016

It has been brought to my attention that some readers, particularly those outside the US, may not have had the opportunity to have seen every episode in Criminal Minds as many times as I have. Therefore, I will henceforth attempt to add notes, where appropriate, to explain certain references to the original show as they relate to this story.

In this chapter, there is a reference made to a case involving "The Blue Ridge Strangler". This case was first referred to in season 3 episode 19, "Tabula Rasa". It originally aired May 14, 2008 and involved an UnSub who had been in a coma for over four years after an attempt to apprehend him resulted in the UnSub, named Brian Matloff, suffered a traumatic brain injury. This chapter begins in March 2005, which I, by virtue of creative license, have decided to establish as the one year anniversary off this event. In season 1 episode 4, "In Plain Sight," the team is seen celebrating Reid's 24th birthday. Because the original air date in the US of that episode was October 12, 2005, I decided to accept this as Reid's birthday for the sake of this story, which would make him 23 at the beginning of this story. Therefore, if he first met Christine seven years prior, he would have been just 16.

There are throughout the show many references to Reid having an apartment in Washington, D.C. (which is referred to by locals as simply, "the District"). FBI headquarters, however, are not located in the District- they are located in Quantico, Virginia, which lies 36 miles (58km) to the south of the city. There are frequent references in the show to Reid taking the subway (the Metro) to commute, and other fans have deduced that he lives in a neighborhood of the city that lies in the Northwest part of the city- I accept this as correct for the purposes of this story. The White House is towards the south, and DuPont Circle and Farragut Park, major landmarks towards the center of the city, with Connecticut Avenue serving as the main route between all locations. The DC Improv is a real comedy venue that would, in fact, be nearby to the location where Joe first runs into Spencer, the implication being that he was just leaving- or perhaps taking a stroll before- a show when they met.

Please message me if you'd like further clarification. Thanks!