Title: K is for Kinetic

Prompt by Anonymous

Author: Kuria Dalmatia

Rating/Warnings: PG. Late Season 1

Characters/Pairing: Elle/Reid

Summary: Elle doesn't know what to say to him. In many ways, she's glad that she doesn't. She has a feeling that whatever comes out of her mouth will not ease the situation.

ARCHIVING: my LJ... anyone else? Please ask first.

COMMENTS: Part of the The Great A-Z Multifandom Drabbling Meme. Unbetaed.

Feedback always welcome.

DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.

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Elle finds him outside on a bench near the hotel's pool. It's January in Erie, Pennsylvania, and it's snowing, which is the reason they're stuck in the city for another night. She's not a fan of snow; it's a nuisance more than something of beauty. Even as a kid, she didn't like the stuff.

Reid is bundled up, his purple scarf covering his nose and mouth. He sits on the bench, snowflakes landing on and around him. His head is tilted upwards, as if he's searching the sky for something.

He's breathtakingly handsome in the bright moonlight and shadows.

Elle knows he can hear her approaching; she's not trying to be stealthy as her boots crunch in the snow. It's late—almost two in the morning—and when she didn't find him in his room, she went looking. Everyone else is back in their respective hotel rooms, 'do not disturb' signs adorning the doorknobs to their rooms. Elle has a key to Reid's room and vice versa, something they wordlessly agreed to six months ago after the first time they slept together. It's why she's out searching for him now; she didn't find him in his room when she went to see him for a nightcap.

Or a round of sex.

Elle knows that this case got to him, but she's proud beyond words how well he held it together as they pieced together the profile. Their UnSub—Marjorie Bledsoe—killed nine mental patients over the course of two years using a complex combination of drugs. All the victims were diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenics and were proxies for Bledsoe's own mother, who suffered from the disease.

She knows that Hotch and Gideon are fully aware that Reid's mother is in a mental institution; Morgan, JJ and Garcia don't. She also knows how humiliated Reid was when Gideon publicly pulled him aside once they realized the connection all the victims had. She knows that Hotch was a hell of a lot more subtle when he checked on Reid, but Reid was still pretty pissed that he had asked.

Elle sits on the bench next to him and looks up in the direction that he is. It's cloudy, so they can't see the constellations. On nights like this, when it's just the two of them staring up into stars, she loves hearing him talk about the mythologies, especially when he compares the Western versions to those of the East. His exuberance is always muted but it's clear how much he loves telling those stories.

Reid's hands are stuffed into his coat pockets, so she loops her arm around his huddles closer to him. She doesn't put her head on his shoulder; it's too intimate of a gesture right now. He doesn't shy away from her, which is always a good sign. He's not totally locked up in his mind like he sometimes gets.

Elle doesn't know what to say to him. In many ways, she's glad that she doesn't. She has a feeling that whatever comes out of her mouth will not ease the situation.

They sit like that for a few minutes, and when Elle feels her ass going numb, it's time to haul him inside and warm him up. She jostles his arm a little and then says quietly, "I have a packet of Ghirardelli peppermint cocoa mix, my room has a microwave, and the hotel's little market has whole milk."

She knows his quirks by now. If he was the one tracking her down, he would have offered Irish coffee without the coffee.

He doesn't answer for several moments, but when he does, his voice is rough. "Do you know the difference between potential and kinetic energy?"

Elle pauses as she tries to remember. Science has never been her strong point and while she's familiar with the terms, she's coming up blank. She knows there's a reason why he's asking. Despite what people may think, Reid rarely rambles just to ramble. The subject matter is usually quite relevant, even if it takes him awhile to get to it.

So Elle says, "No" quietly and honestly. He never makes her feel stupid.

Reid turns to her, a sad half-smile on his face. "This is potential energy," he says and then just stares at her. Elle is confused but she waits because they've had these types of conversations before. A few seconds later, Reid continues, "And this is kinetic."

He kisses her softly on her lips. It's his way of saying thank you.

It's also his way of saying that he just needed some time to get his thoughts straight in his head. He's the one who breaks the kiss and then presses his forehead to hers.

It doesn't make things go away, but it does make them more bearable. Elle tugs a little on his arm. "I think I need a more thorough lesson on kinetic energy, Doctor Reid."

His laugh is a bit strained. He stands and offers her hand. "Class starts in five."

Elle grins and takes his hand. "I can't wait."

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