The light powdery snow blew through the streets, swirling around brown loafers as they trudged on in the city. It was a bitter cold, and the scrawny man in possession of the loafers was bundled tightly, head tucked down against the wind. Not many were out and about, preferring the climate controlled warmth of their homes and houses, and every once and a while a car drove by slowly, not wanting to skid on an unexpected patch of black ice.
He had no destination, only the desire to remain outside of his lonely cottage as long as he could. It was dark, and it was empty, and even the well worn books couldn't keep him company. His head reeled through statistics on winter depression, the suicide rate sky rocked during the winter holidays. And honestly, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. Glancing upwards at the ashen sky, he tried to remember the last time he had felt the sun. Perfect recall didn't apply to feelings, and the grey gloom that had settled over him long ago seemed to be clouding his memory.
The lanky man brought a hand from his pocket to pull a purple scarf farther up on his neck, before quickly tucking it back in for warmth. For all his preparation for the walk, several sweaters, a jacket, a scarf, the cold seeped into his bones, and his body shook, attempting to create as much of its own heat as it could. His hazel eyes darted around, taking everything in, memorizing locations, landmarks so that he could find his way back, eventually, maybe.
Offhandedly he wondered what time it was, there would be no indications from the sun, and he couldn't bring himself to take his hand from his pocket to check his watch. It didn't really matter, he supposed, nobody would be looking for him. There was no one waiting for him at home. For a moment, he considered getting a dog, maybe a cat, but brushed the thought aside, it would just be cruel to the animal; he knew he was never home; his job took him away far too often.
His shuffling feet came to a stop as he recognized a building out of his peripheral vision. Turning his head slightly, his eyes grazed over the chapel, it had been so long since he had been inside a church. Before his father had left them. He shrugged to himself slightly, and walked up the steps. The door was large, wooden and ornate, and against the fierce wind, the lanky man struggled slightly to pry it open, but with his success came welcome warmth, and he let the wind slam the door back in place.
The lights were off, and the only light came from a few candles, still burning on the altar. The red sanctuary candle still burned by the tabernacle, and the skinny man paused, wondering not for the first time if there really was a presence of God there, as the flame was supposed to suggest. And his eyes brushed over the sequence of statues along the walls, depicting the Via Dolorosa, the path of crucifixion, and his gaze rested for a moment on a statue of Saint Ambrose, the patron saint, and then of the crucifix at the head of the chapel. And then, only then, did he notice that he wasn't alone.
In the very last pew, was a dark haired woman, kneeling, head tucked gracefully in her clasped hands. He shuffled closer, a hand resting on the end of the pew to kneel, making the sign of the cross as he had been taught. He didn't believe, but he certainly wasn't about to disrespect an entire faith. And then he sat down, and the woman next to him looked up.
"Reid," she spoke, the surprise just as evident in her eyes as in her voice. "What are you doing here?" her brows furrowed deeply as she took in the sight, "you're shaking," she added, voice laced with concern.
"I walked," he replied simply, his arms still tucked tightly around his abdomen. His mind was working in overdrive, bringing him through everything that had happened, all of the things that had gone wrong. It hadn't been that long, but even to the lanky man, with his perfect recall, it seemed like ages. He shook his head slightly, tiny snowflakes falling onto his shoulders and lap.
And she looked at him, really looked at him, her dark brown eyes shining with selfless worry, and he had to pause his brain for a moment, to remember everything all over again, how they had gotten to that point, because there was still that chill in his bones, and her eyes seemed so warm. "Spencer, that's nearly four miles, it's not even fifteen degrees out," she responded with a quiet incredulousness, and then she reached out, taking one of his shaking hands in her own.
The lanky man couldn't help himself, and pulled her into an embrace, relishing in the closeness, and in the warmth, and she sighed contentedly against his chest. Neither had any idea how long they stayed like that, it could have been seconds, or minutes, or hours for all they knew, but neither cared. And when the shaking stopped, she pulled away slightly, tilting her chin up to look him in the eye, and he caught her lips in a gentle kiss.
It was innocent, and remained that way, small and soft. When they pulled apart, she fell back into his arms, and they stayed that way, only shifting into a more comfortable position, they spent the night in the chapel. All logic was screaming at him. He had the solution to all his problems lying in his arms, and all rational thought told him that that was what he had been looking for. But he couldn't help but wonder, if it had been love or fear of the cold that had brought them together, and though his head told him to let it grow his heart couldn't help but scream, "this time, no." He couldn't do it again.
But he stayed, there in the chapel with her, because it was cold, and he was lonely, and going home certainly didn't seem like a better alternative. He didn't want to let her go come morning, and she didn't want to leave. But she had left, and minutes later, the lanky man collected his jacket, and his scarf, and ventured outside. The wind had finally settled down sometime during the night, and the city was covered with powder white snow drifts. The sky, he noted as he looked up, was still dappled grey, but seemed somewhat less depressing.
And he steeled himself, deciding that he'd give her another chance, another chance when the snow turned to leaves and the city cleared, and the sun ascended. Because things looked different in winter gloom, and this was far too important to mess up.