A/N – I've never written these two together before. Crazy, huh? The sentence I was given for this challenge is 'The sudden loud crash startled her and she jumped slightly, splashing steaming hot coffee all over her brand new powder-blue shirt'.
Disclaimer – I don't own it but that doesn't mean I don't get to have fun!
It was not the healthiest way of grieving, he knew, but after his 'official' talk with Hotch and several of the unofficial kind with Rossi and Garcia which failed to ease the waves of sickness that still overcame him, he was willing to give anything that made sense a shot. So he started writing to her, shorter letters than he wrote to his mother but full nonetheless of everything he wants her to know. Spencer Reid didn't believe in God and the afterlife as such, but he had always believed that there was far more man had to learn about himself and his place in the world. Who was he to say if Emily knew what he was writing to her or not? And besides, it was a proven method of therapy and no one could argue with precedence.
So, every week without fail, he sat down and penned a letter. He told her all about Seaver's passing out, and how well she was doing. He told her all about JJ and Will who were planning Henry's first visit to the South. About how he was sure that one day soon Garcia and Kevin would get engaged. About how Hotch had persuaded Rossi to help him coach Jack's team and how Rossi obviously loved it despite his complaining. He thought Em would laugh at that one. He told her about Morgan's apparent quest to own most of DC, and about his own headaches and his mother. And then he told her the other things too, the things that he didn't want to talk to the others about; about how despite the whole moving on thing, there was a certain air of sadness that just couldn't be shaken off. Hotch was withdrawing from everyone except Rossi, Spencer would sometimes catch Garcia looking at Emily's picture in the hall with a lost look, Morgan was still so angry at the whole situation he was virtually inapproachable. And he knew Em didn't need telling how he was feeling, because he ended every letter with 'I miss you.'
When he was done with the letters, he put each one in a blank envelope and placed it in the bottom drawer of his desk. He'd built up quite a collection before someone caught him at it.
It was a late night at the office, even for him, and only Derek was still there. He'd brought his paperwork out to Seaver's desk and they sat companionably, just like the old days. As Spencer was finishing up with his letter, Derek went to the coffee machine to try and milk the last dregs out for the both of them. He returned just before Spencer folded up the letter, and his brow furrowed when he read the name at the top of the paper.
"What's that, Reid?"
"I've been – uh – writing to Emily," Spencer blushed, reaching into his drawer and taking out the pile of envelopes, "Once a week since – it just helps, you know?"
"Yeah I know," Derek sighed, throwing himself down into Seaver's chair and glancing at the still empty desk behind him, "I used to write to my father, when it was still fresh."
"You did?" Spencer brightened somewhat, "How – how long for after…?"
"A year, maybe. I wouldn't go visit him so my mom told me to write him letters. She said he'd know what I wanted to say."
"Why did you stop?"
"It wasn't enough," Derek leaned forwards clutching his coffee cup, his eyes boring into Spencer's, "I had to start visiting him, if only to remind myself that he was really gone. It messes with you eventually, writing to someone and keeping the letters to yourself."
"It does?" Spencer said anxiously, sifting through the pile of envelopes with new-found caution.
Derek waited for the younger man to look up before he spoke to him again.
"Reid, have you been back to visit her?"
"No," he murmured, "I didn't want to – I couldn't-"
"Do you want me to come with you? We could go this weekend."
They both ignored the trembling of Spencer's hands as he nodded, his eyes straying to Emily's desk just as Derek's had done.
"Bring your letters, kid. We're going to deliver them."
Derek had been to visit Emily exactly four times since they'd buried her. It was his way of coping, had been since his mom had persuaded him to make his first visit to his father, and he was damned if he was going to change it. Each time he brought her a purple French willow, because someone had once told him that the flower represented bravery and that's what he thought Emily should be remembered for. He took one, carefully wrapped, from the trunk of his car when they pulled up at the cemetery on Saturday afternoon and Spencer eyed it with interest.
"French willow. Most commonly thought to represent bravery."
"That's right," Derek said conversationally, tucking the flower under his arm and walking through the main gates. When no one followed him, he turned to find Spencer stood deep in thought.
"What's wrong, kid?"
"I didn't bring flowers."
"That's okay," Derek shrugged, walking back towards him, "She'll just be glad that you're here. And you've brought your letters anyway. You don't need flowers as well."
Spencer nodded dubiously, his hand tightening on the strap of his bag, as he followed Derek through the cemetery. There were few people around besides them, and those who had ventured out on the chilly afternoon nodded politely if they made eye contact. For the most part though they were ignored and Spencer was grateful. He didn't want to share this with anyone except Morgan.
At the grave, Derek knelt down and tenderly cleared some of the dying flowers away. He moved a pink rose gently to one side and placed his offering besides it, crumbling the wrapper into his pocket.
"Hey princess," he murmured, "Look who I've brought with me."
"Rossi's been here," he added, pulling himself onto his knees and pointing to the rose, "He always brings one of those."
"Does he understand the symbolism of the rose? Only –"
"I think he just thinks they look nice, kid. Don't overanalyse everything."
Derek remained on his knees and ran his eyes over the familiar words. As he hoped, Spencer knelt down to join him, folding his longs legs neatly underneath himself and reaching out almost absent-mindedly to touch the stem of the rose.
"I don't know what to say," he said, "What do I do now that I'm here?"
"Whatever you want," Derek said, "You don't have to say anything or you can talk for as long as you want. This is up to you."
"It's hard. I don't think she was sentimental enough to appreciate something like this."
Derek's eyebrows shots up and to Spencer's surprise, he began to laugh. When Spencer shot him a bemused look, he laughed more and wiped the mirth from his eyes.
"Kid, you've got to work on the part of your brain that remembers stuff other than what you've read. I can't believe you don't remember…"
The sudden loud crash startled her and she jumped slightly, splashing steaming hot coffee all over her brand new powder-blue shirt.
"Damn it, Reid!" Emily yelped, leaping up from her desk and holding the soaked material away from her skin, "Make a bit more noise next time, okay?"
"Sorry," Spencer squeaked from the floor, where he was gathering up the enormous pile of books that until very recently had been perched on the edge of his desk, "I don't know what happened."
"I'll tell you what happened," she said, righting the coffee mug and trying to see if she'd been scalded, "That pile of books that I seem to remember telling you to move because they'd fall off ended up on the floor and I've ruined the only new piece of clothing I've had time to buy in the last two months. And you can be quiet," she directed to a chuckling Derek who was covering his mouth and trying so hard to look like he wasn't amused.
"I'm sorry, Emily," Spencer implored. He stood up and she noticed that his shirt was similarly coffee stained. So she hadn't been the only one caught off guard. That only made her feel a little bit better. Spencer didn't seem bothered by the spreading brown mark patch on his shirt and was looking instead at his desk with something close to sorrow on his face. Derek noticed at the same time she did and moved to the young man's side. Intrigued, Emily let the wet material fall against her and peered over Reid's shoulder. There was a very wet piece of paper on the desk.
"What is it, Reid?" Derek asked gently.
"It's the letter Gideon left for me."
He peeled the sodden paper off the desk and tried to make out the words. It was almost impossible.
"Don't you remember it?" Emily asked, all the exasperation in her voice replaced by a gentle tone that she usually saved for victims.
"Yes, I do," Spencer murmured, "It was just that I liked having it. It's the only thing I had."
He sighed and tossed the paper in the wastepaper basket.
"I'm sorry, kid," Derek said, patting Spencer on the shoulder. The younger man nodded and turned back to the pile of books. Derek was the only one who saw Emily fish the paper out of the trash and slip it in her desk drawer, and he was the only one there at the end of the day when Emily placed a painstakingly made copy of the letter on Spencer's desk with a note that just said –
'It's not the same but I hope it's better than nothing. Emily.'
"I never thanked her for that," Spencer said wistfully, when Derek had reminded him, "I just assumed she'd know that I was grateful."
"She knew, kid."
"Do you think I could read her my letters?" Spencer glanced at Derek, his eyes suspiciously bright, "She'd like that."
"I think that's a great idea. Whatever you feel like doing, do it. That's the whole reason we're here."
Spencer flipped open his bag and took out the pile of letters, arranged in the order he had written them with the oldest on top. He slit the envelope and unfolded the paper, smoothing it on his leg before he cleared his throat. Derek took that as his cue, standing up and leaving Spencer alone. If the other man noticed him leave his side, he didn't react, but Derek knew that Spencer would want to be alone for this. He'd take a walk, as long as it needed to be so that he could still be there to take his friend home when he was done talking. For Emily and Spencer's sake, he'd wait pretty much forever.
A/N 2 – A message from our sponsors…
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