Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Hands On (Part 3)
Characters/Pairing: Spencer Reid/Emily Prentiss
Summary: After Emily returns, Reid is reluctant.
Warnings: Post 6x18, so some spoilers there.
Three weeks, four days, nine hours, eight minutes, twenty-one seconds. Twenty-two seconds. Twenty-three seconds. Twenty-four.
He doesn't look at his watch, but it's accurate to a millisecond, and his counts are always spot on. Three and a half weeks since Emily Prentiss had returned. Spencer Reid has seen her exactly four times since that day, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that things between them have changed.
He doesn't want to feel angry. He wants to feel overjoyed that she's back. He wants his heart to race, and his world to soar in a way that science can never really adequately explain. He wants to hold her in his arms again, and tell her that everything will be okay.
But some wounds go too deep.
When she'd left him, without even saying goodbye, it was like she had thrust a dagger into his chest. As though he didn't even mean enough for that.
Outside, it rains.
Inside, Cosmos is playing on his small, probably out-of-date television. He has the whole series effectively memorized, but for some reason, he finds the sound of Carl Sagan's voice comforting.
The weather has been growing more and more ferocious over the last few days. If he had not been a man of science he might have thought it fitting, but really, it's just a disturbed state of the atmosphere, brought on by the interaction of low and high pressure systems. They're not uncommon, and they're certainly not related to the events of the past few weeks.
Once upon a time, he might have loved Emily Prentiss.
Today, he's not so sure.
It seems like fate, then, when there's a knock on the door, but that's a misnomer. Technically speaking, the occurrence of such coincidences are statistically insignificant. He remembers the hundreds of times he'd been thinking of Emily without a subsequent knock on the door.
Of course, it might not be Emily, but deep down he knows it is. That isn't some cosmic sense of fate that's talking – that's profiling.
He straightens his cardigan as he stands. For a brief moment, he considers changing, but he knows she likes this particular one for reasons unfathomable.
'Hi,' she says awkwardly, when he opens the door. She looks smaller, somehow, as though she's shrinking in on herself. Trying to make herself look less predatory. It's a psychological manipulation technique, and she probably doesn't even realize that she's doing it. 'Can I come in?'
He says nothing, but steps backward to let her inside. It's not the way he would have chosen to do things, but it's the way it's going to happen.
The tension is palpable – so thick, Reid feels as though he might be able to reach out and touch it.
'I'm sorry,' Emily murmurs. 'I'm so sorry.'
'I know,' he replies, but he keeps his distance. Logically, he can accept her apology. Emotionally, he can't. Before Emily, he'd never felt this way about another person. He's used to empirical data, and solid facts. Love is just confusing.
He finds the remote, and switches the television off.
'Do you still like Chinese food?' he asks, hesitant. Emily stares at him.
'I haven't changed, Spencer,' she tells him, exasperated. 'I'm still the same person.'
'I'm not sure who that person is anymore,' he admitted, and there was an awkward silence.
'I'm not sure about anything anymore' she says, in a soft voice. He can hear the heartbreak in those few words. Emily chokes out a sob, and bites her lip. Hand shaking, Reid reaches out and touches her shoulder. 'I...when I was lying on that warehouse floor, bleeding to death, I was so sure that it was the end, and...I thought there would have been some kind of light, or disassociation, or...I don't know. But I didn't see anything; all I felt was the world slipping away, like I was falling asleep. And then I woke up in hospital, and they told me that Doyle was still alive, and I knew that I couldn't let him get to you.'
He steps forward, arms wrapping around her. Hugs aren't his style, but Emily sinks into his embrace nonetheless, tears soaking through the cardigan. 'We could have done something...the team could have stopped him.'
'He was watching you. He was watching all of you. If I did anything, he would have killed you.' She runs her hand along his chest. Reid tenses.
Emily pulls away. 'I'm sorry,' she says again; this time her words are stronger, clearer. 'I didn't mean to...'
Reid presses a kiss to her lips. 'It's okay,' he says. 'How about we order that Chinese?'
He orders their usual – Mu Shu pork, chicken with cashews, fried rice and egg rolls. There's a half pint of Rocky Road ice-cream in the freezer; it's been six months since she'd last visited, but he'd taken to eating it in the months after her death, lactose intolerance be damned.
They sit on his sofa with bowls and chopsticks, and for a few short minutes, it feels just like old times. It's not, though, and there's an elephant in the room – a Sword of Damocles, hanging over them.
'There are some scientists that postulate near-death experiences are actually simply a product of brain chemistry.'
'Yeah?' Reid has long since learned to catalogue her level of interest in one of his topics of discussion based on intonation. This particular syllable is lilted just so slightly, which means she's listening to what he's saying.
'Indeed – Birk Engmann suggested that a cessation in blood flow to the brain could cause psychopathological symptoms. Rick Strassman proposed that the pineal gland releases dimethyltryptamine into the brain, causing hallucinatory experiences.'
'You can get an amazing high from smoking DMT,' Emily says, almost serenely. Then, she seems to realize what she'd said, and there's a long, awkward pause. 'Let's forget that I said that.'
'Because you don't want me to know that you did drugs when you were younger?' Reid asks, part amused, part insulted. 'Think about who you're talking to, Emily.'
Emily gives him a look. He's missed that look. He loves that look. It's the look that said "Are you fucking kidding me?"
'Because that's a part of my life that I don't want to think about,' she tells him. 'I've done a lot of stuff that I'm not proud of Reid. Not just the Doyle thing.' She sighs. 'I just...I know that life is fleeting, and all of that crap. And maybe I should believe in God's will, or in heaven, or some kind of afterlife, but I was on the brink of death, and all I could see was darkness.'
'I'm probably not the best person to talk about this with,' he says. 'Perhaps Rossi, or Morgan...'
'Spencer.' The look persists. 'This is something so intimate...so personal. I can't just talk about it with anyone.'
'They're your friends, though, right?'
'Yes, and you're my...' She pauses, and her brow wrinkles. 'Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the word "lover"?'
'Several times,' he tells her. 'But there are other terms you could use. Boyfriend. Partner. Beau. Paramour. Suitor.'
'Boy toy,' Emily continues. 'Love slave. Sex dispenser. Soul mate.'
'You know, some linguists say that there are no true synonyms,' he says, which is, admittedly a little non-sequitur in the wake of her list. 'Each word is slightly different in meaning, so that none of them can ever be a true substitute for another. Like snowflakes.'
'Let me guess,' Emily says, amused. 'You can tell me absolutely everything there is about snowflakes, too?'
'If you'd like,' he offers. 'It's really quite fascinating.'
'Everything is fascinating to you,' Emily replies, but her voice isn't disdainful, or accusatory; it's warm, and loving, as though she finds his tenancy for verbosity charming, rather than annoying. She smiles, letting her hand rest atop his. 'That's what I love about you.'
He shifts awkwardly. The confession isn't unwelcome, but it is a little unexpected. 'I, uh...'
'It's okay,' she says, shaking her head. 'I don't need reciprocation. I just...Whatever I did, whatever happened, I want you to know that.' She leaned into the sofa next to him, close, but not too close. 'You can turn it back on, if you want.'
She'd watched Cosmos with him before, even if it didn't entirely fit her world view, but that was mostly down to his insistence. The same way he'd promised to watch Fringe and Eureka without criticising the scientific inaccuracies.
'I like to just...close my eyes and listen,' he says. 'We think about amazing sights, or tastes, or smells...but sometimes, sound can convey so much more beauty.'
'Like a symphony,' Emily nods.
'Symphonies of nature, even. The sound of birds, of trees, of planets... "His playing is that of so fine a pianist that one cannot even be certain whether the performer is a pianist at all. His playing has become so transparent, so full of what he is interpreting, that himself one no longer sees and he is nothing now but a window opening upon a great work of art."'
Her brow wrinkles as she tries to place the quote.
'Proust,' he offers. 'The Guermantes Way.'
'Right,' she says with a laugh. 'I feel like I should get a pass when you quote from one of the longest novels of all time. Not all of us have eidetic memories.'
His hand slides up her arm. 'The best thing about an eidetic memory, is that I remember exactly what turns you on.'
'Really?' she asks, eyebrows raised. 'I think I might need a practical demonstration.' His body turns, pushing her back against the arm of the sofa. Her eyes are filled with something dark and wild. It might be lust. It might be love.
He presses a kiss at her hip, where shirt meets jeans. There's a tattoo there, underneath the clothing; a half-naked woman in a seductive pose. He'd asked about it, once.
'Believe it or not, Reid, once upon a time I was a typical, rebellious teenager.'
'I can't imagine that,' he'd said, only he was lying, because he's seen the pictures.
'Trust me, it was horrifying.'
'Who was she?' he asks, now, pushing her shirt up. He starts, seeing the dark, ugly scar cutting through the tattoo.
'Just a picture from the sample book,' she says, but her voice is distant.
'Sexual experimentation is a completely normal phenomenon for some people.'
She laughs. 'I know. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'
'Freud's theories are outdated and unempirical,' he says matter-of-factly. 'He has absolutely no bearing on current psychological research.' He presses a kiss to the scar, and Emily sucks in a deep breath.
'You're not the only one with a Psychology degree,' she tells him, but she seems more focused on what his hands are doing than what he's saying.
His fingers grasp at her hips, as he kisses his way upwards. The bra isn't one that he recognizes – in the wake of her funeral, most of her clothes had been donated to charity, which means his going to need to catalogue a whole new series of outfits into his memory.
It hits him, like a sledgehammer to the face. The mark is crude, and uneven, as though she'd been struggling as it was drawn. Reid takes his hand away from her hip, and traces it. 'He did this to you.'
'How did he die?'
'A bullet to the head,' she breathes. 'From the SWAT team that raided his hideout.'
Spencer Reid does not get angry often, but now, he feels an unbridled fury. Ian Doyle had deserved more than a bullet to the head. He deserves the unrelenting fires of a hell that Reid isn't quite sure he believes in.
'I don't want to think about Doyle right now, Spencer,' she tells him, and he nods, but the thought is still strong in his mind. After all, he can't not think about Doyle.
He can't not think about the way he would have touched her, would have made love to her...certainly, he would have had more sexual experience than Reid. His touches come harder, faster. He kisses her nipples through the lace of her bra. He unbuckles her belt, and pulls down her jeans, starting to work her clit with his fingers.
He moves his body down, tongue laving against skin that's already wet and warm. 'You didn't mention touch,' she breaths, her body arching. 'You said...amazing sound, and taste, and...you didn't mention amazing touch.'
He pulled away slightly. 'I was just saving it for a practical demonstration.' She likes his hands, but she likes his mouth a hell of a lot more.
When she comes, her body arcs, and she makes a soft whimper. It's the same sound she makes when she takes a hit, but he doubts she even realizes. He hadn't been there for her in the warehouse, but Morgan had, even if he doesn't like to talk about it. 'I want you to...' He nods, his own breaths coming fast.
'Me too,' he says, moving up to let his head rest against hers. It's a little awkward, because his body is longer than the couch, and always seems to stick out at the strangest angles, but he manages to push up inside her. His hands are at her hips, her face, her breasts, as though mapping every part of her body to memory for the first time. He knows ever curve, every hair, every scar, and yet the ghost of memory is nothing compared to actual touch.
He climaxes with a shudder, and a happy sigh. There's a smile on his face that is only tangentially related to the intercourse. A warmth that had disappeared six months ago ripples through him once more, and that is more beautiful than any nebula, any flower, any perfect piece of symmetry.
'Hey,' he whispers, breath warm against her neck. 'I love you, too,' he tells Emily. Her eyes are wide with surprise, but that doesn't last long. They shift into an unimaginable happiness, as she wraps her arms tight around him.
A perfect harmony.