A/n: Greetings, earthlings! Back when I first joined the Criminal Minds community on LiveJournal, I promised the first seven people a story of their choosing. Whatever ships, situations, or really anything that they could possibly want. Now, I wrote almost all of them at once, and then never posted them because I was supposed to finish the next chapter of Transposition first... and as you can see, I've caved. They were only supposed to be 500 words maximum, but I broke that rule for every single one. As they are short stories, I acknowledge that some may seem underdeveloped.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Criminal Minds, CBS, any referenced media or any affiliates. I do not even own the ideas for these stories.
So, enjoy these seven stories (or at least one of them)!
- Spoilers for all of season 1-5 are fair game. Nothing from Season 6 (seeing has it hasn't come out yet...!)
- Some of these stories contain one or more of the following, as per requested: Slash, violence, drunken shenanigans, mentions of drug abuse, and the Power Rangers. If any of these things bother you, then beware! However, none of these stories contain graphic sexual situations or images.
Genre: Angst, Romance
Summary: My coffee continued to taste just right, and our routine slowly fell into place.
Author's Notes: When you write a drabble in the first person (or in any POV, really), it's hard not to go on for pages at a time because the human mind doesn't think about issues like romance so concisely. There was so much I wanted to do with this story, but unfortunately I was really trying to stick to my one-page limit, so I cut out one of the main parts. Maybe someday! Also, I don't really do sappy romance stuff like I did back in the day. The result is a less smooch story that focuses more on the "leading up to" than the grand finale, if you dig what I'm shovelin'.
For the last eight months I have stood in front of the mirror every morning and straightened my tie and thought that something must be wrong with me. Well, okay—I suppose that's not a very good way of explaining it, because there's quite a lot wrong with all of us; one's bound to be a least a little off when you spend your days with your nose in a murderer's life. But even for me, this entire situation has been atypical. It's been enough to warrant some level of concern.
Because to feel affection for a co-worker is one thing. We do spend a great deal of time together on principle, and I couldn't really imagine a life both without Derek Morgan and with a sense of normality. But feeling… a little more than platonic affection—or even a lot more, if I think about it, for someone who I can consider the closest thing to a friend that I've ever had…
Like I said. Something must be wrong.
The changes to which I refer happened so gradually that I would have missed it in the beginning, were I not trained to notice such things. The first indication was that, on the mornings where I trudged in to work late or had to drag myself in without proper caffeination, Morgan would suddenly appear at my desk. He'd sweep all my carefully-sorted paperwork aside to fix himself a makeshift seat, pressing a cup of coffee into my hands. The gesture itself wasn't wholly remarkable—and at the time I'd simply look up at him, groggily, and think "my savior"—but somewhere along the line, I realized that he always fixed my coffee the right way (eight scoops of sugar, three second's worth of cream pouring, stir for at least thirty seconds). This revelation I at first attributed to overanalyzing. Coffee is coffee, is it not? But my coffee continued to taste just right, and our routine slowly fell into place.
I began to leave a spot on the edge of my desk so that he could sit down without wasting the precious seconds it takes to clear a seat. The touches came next, hesitant at first—a brush against my shoulder in passing, casual but frequent enough so that he seemed to be asking, "Is this okay?" Originally I didn't respond. I became convinced that I was losing my mind a little ahead of schedule. When those sorts of moments persisted, however, the diligent voice in the back of my head urged me to follow. So I reciprocated, though doing so often put me on such an edge that Prentiss recommended I "lay off the caffeine for a while." There was a sense of potential hazard, just barely weaker than the thrill I for some reason got when he tugged on my scarf one day and said the purple was definitely my color. The others had laughed at his jest, of course, and I responded with some dry remark that I for some reason cannot recall, but again, something was there. If I was crazy, the condition had certainly begun to manifest itself in an interesting manner.
Somewhere in the late season, right at the point where Virginia nights become cool and the days remain warm, we had a case that ended badly. The UnSub committed suicide by cop and the only surviving victim, unable to feel any sense of justice for his lost family, overdosed on heroin and died before we could get him into the ambulance. I always begin to think, in these situations, about my own… struggles. I don't know, really.
I always start to see myself in the victims—strung out, slumped in the corner where two walls meet. As if I could slip into the crack and disappear.
Morgan and I went for a drive that night. I sat, unspeaking and counting mailboxes from the passenger seat. I tried not to look left whenever he glanced in my direction. Sipped my coffee and tried not to note that he had perfected my recipe. Did my best to not respond when he assured me that I had done everything right. I held by breath when he reached over and set a hand on my knee.
"If you ever need someone… I'll always be here, Reid."
I set my jaw and nodded and waited for him to move his hand. And when he didn't, the best response I could manage was to put my hand over his and squeeze it, just a little, and keep counting mailboxes as they passed by the window.
I suppose I could be wrong about everything that's happened. It would be difficult to say for certain, even in the best case scenario. But I've decided that I really don't care just how crazy I may seem. I know behavior, and I know that if Morgan is any good at his job, he'll have realized it, too. Wordless conversation can only go so far because one cannot speak so many words with the eyes as one can with the mouth. This… speaking with gestures act we've been performing… it's more of a hurdle than I need in my life just now.
So this morning, I'm standing before the mirror and straightening my tie just the same as always. Except instead of wondering if something is wrong with me, I have finally come to believe that today is the day.