Title: Fried Chicken & Coleslaw
Challenge: The Great Alphabet Meme 2: B is for Battered
Prompt by drabbles_by_v
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating/Warnings: FRM/R (profanity)
Characters/Pairing: Rossi/Reid (pre-slash), Seasons 3-4
Summary: These kids liked to chatter and steal food off each other's plates. And tonight? The youngest of the bunch performed surgery on his entrée.
Word Count: ~1,100
ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.
COMMENTS: Thanks to pabzi for the beta. Any mistakes left are mine.
Um. Yeah. Probably NOT what drabbles_by_v had in mind at all. I can't even blame the "good drugs" or a Food Network marathon for this. Yes, there is such thing as Cap'n Crunch Fried Chicken.
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.
If Dave didn't know any better, he would have sworn that Reid's title of "doctor" was of the M.D. variety. Because, Jesus Christ, the kid dissected the piece of fried chicken like he was performing an autopsy, carefully lifting the crispy outer coating with his knife while his fork pressed against the meat.
The last thing Dave needed to be reminded today was of an autopsy and, if he was honest with himself, the last thing he wanted to deal with was a group dinner. He was still getting used to this whole "team" thing and sharing a meal together at the end of the day during a case was, oddly enough, the most difficult thing to adjust to. He was used to sitting at a counter in some Mom and Pop diner, ordering the Special, and decompressing over comfort food and a cup of coffee.
Not these kids. These kids liked to chatter and steal food off each other's plates. And tonight? The youngest of the bunch performed surgery on his entrée. At least Reid spared the group from explaining what he was doing. Regardless, it annoyed the hell out of Dave especially because it was the first real meal they had all day, it was still raining outside, and they were still at the same point in the case that they were at six this morning.
"Will you just fucking eat your goddamn chicken?" Dave snarled. That earned gasps from Prentiss and JJ, a nasty glare from Morgan, and a distinctly parental 'be polite' look from Hotch, the latter making Dave surlier. How dare the man he brought into the BAU reproach him for calling to light the unsettling habits of a colleague?
Reid stared at him with that 'what did I do?' expression better suited for a six year old than a grown man. But then Reid shrugged and said, "Okay," as if Dave hadn't just verbally taken his head off. The kid proceeded to deftly cut a square that had both crust and meat, scoop a small bite of coleslaw on his knife and smear it on top, and then pop the whole concoction in his mouth.
Dave wanted to put his head through the table. He decided that from now on, he was going to skip the evening meal. Dave had held his tongue for six straight cases since he came back, trying his best to 'play nice' and not falling back into his old habits.
This was fucking intolerable.
It only took two cases after the whole chicken incident for Dave to get over the "not wanting to dine with the Team" thing. It wasn't because after he declared that he wouldn't be participating in any group dining experience, Hotch testily told him 'the whole lone wolf thing is tiresome and clichéd. You don't have to prove yourself.' It stung like hell and pissed Dave off. But…Okay. He got it. Things had changed. He needed to evolve. Hotch ran the show and this was Hotch's way of doing things.
But the other part was that Dave found that genuinely liked the people he worked with, even if Reid had a terrible habit of just rambling about the first thing that popped into his mind.
Sharing the evening meal sometimes made the Job not quite as nightmare-inspiring.
And sometimes? Reid's sermons on random things were the only things that helped Dave relax.
Even if the kid still dissected his chicken.
It took about five more cases to realize that Reid only ordered fried chicken when one of the locals "swore to God" that it was the best fried chicken in whatever town, county, state or wherever they were. When Reid ordered, it was always just fried chicken and coleslaw. No fries. No ketchup. No gravy or mayonnaise or honey or whatever people were putting on the stuff these days.
Fried chicken. Coleslaw. Period. Oh. And a glass of tap water, no ice.
Reid dissected the damn thing every fucking time. It didn't matter if it was battered with tempura, breadcrumbs, corn flakes, or (Geez Louise!) Cap'n Crunch.
It still bothered the hell out of Dave, because there was something so coldly clinical about it. Due to the nature of what they did, it was easy to think, Reid could have been someone we chase. Then again, Dave knew that there was a fine line between Profiler and UnSub.
The fourteenth time Reid ordered fried chicken, Dave caught up with him afterwards at the hotel. It was late, they were all tired, but it was one of those cases where Dave's brain was refusing to turn off and he really didn't want to dwell on why. He needed a distraction that wasn't alcohol-related, and he and Reid just happened to be the only two in the hallway.
So Dave quipped, "What's the deal with the chicken? You writing a paper or something?" Because listening to Reid ramble in situations like this, oddly enough, helped him relax.
Usually, Reid just launched into an explanation without hesitation. Tonight? He paused. His eyes narrowed. He stopped walking, which of course made Dave stop as well. Wariness flittered quickly across Reid's features but then the man tilted his head slightly as he asked, "Do you really want to know or do you just want some background noise?"
The bluntness of the question shocked Dave for a moment. Embarrassment soon caught up. Dave knew he could spit out some smartass comment and Reid would leave it at that. But there was a sincere offer lurking, the kind that Dave supposed only other profilers could pick up on. He couldn't bring himself to answer, so he arched an eyebrow instead.
Reid stuffed his hands in his pockets. "The hotel doesn't have an in-room mini bar…actually most hotels stopped the practice because the cost of maintaining them…"
"You're saying I need to be liquored up to hear your explanation?" Dave interrupted.
The kid grinned. "Most people do."
"Since when have I been 'most people'? I think I'm man enough to listen without liquid fortification," he declared.
"Even if it's just cola?" Reid asked.
"Since when are soft drinks considered 'liquid fortification'?" Dave shot back.
"Does this mean you don't want to know about the geographical pattern I've developed regarding fried chicken?"
Dave glanced down the hallway. He let out a sigh. It was either Reid's rambling or his own internal monologue compared each of the victims to Emma, the woman he was supposed to marry but didn't. How if Emma was twenty years younger, the UnSub would target her. He reached for his wallet. "I'll get the sodas."
The twenty-second time Reid ordered fried chicken, it was just the two of them at a diner outside of Biloxi. Reid badgered him until Dave finally gave in and took a bite of the chicken and slaw combo that Reid was so fond of.
Dave didn't care for the taste at all.
Later that night, when Reid pushed him against the wall of his hotel room and kissed him, Dave decided that it wasn't so bad.
He was kissing Reid.