Stepping into the Unknown
Chapter 8: Sensory Overload


Author's Note: This takes place after Daily Morning Routine. Since this is part of my first Criminal Minds story, I don't think I am going to go into cases in detail. This will mainly be focus on what Dr. Reid's life outside of work might be like.

I do not own Criminal Minds or Dr. Spencer Reid. I do own Michelle, though.


His mother was right; when you're ready, the right kind of girls will find you. It seems to have taken him 26 years, but she found him. He rolls his shoulders and stretches a little, before turning over, his face resting against his pillow.

Sunday is a wonderful day, when they don't get to called in to work anyway, because it's the one day of the week that he leaves blank of any scheduling; he gets to just lay in bed for as long as he want, he can read or listen to music, he can go anywhere, although he usually ends up spending the day in his apartment or around it. Sunday is 'Do as you please, Spencer' Day.

He reaches lazily for the book he started the night before; he didn't get past the second chapter because his mind kept bringing up their kiss. He picks up his glasses from his nightstand drawer and tries to concentrate on the book. When that doesn't work, he settles on daydreaming.

It's almost 1 O'clock when his phone rings; he beams as he sees the number on the caller ID.

"Hey!"

"Hi! I was wondering if you had plans for today?"

"No, my schedule is completely blank."

She asks if he would like to come over to her place, she proposes something simple like movies and delivery for dinner if he's interested. He accepts eagerly but mentions that he needs to run a quick errand first.

"Perfect! I needed enough the time for a quick shower..." Her voice cuts for a second, before she adds very fast sounding a little embarrassed. "That was too much information. Sorry about that."

It might have been too much information, but it sure sends his imagination on a whirl. He says it's okay, but somehow his voice sounds an octave too high; he clears his throat before asking if him arriving in half an hour would work for her and he wonders to himself when his apartment got so warm.

He checks his watch, making sure he's not too early. He makes his way to apartment 1A and knocks. She opens the door, and allows him into her home. As she closes the door, he takes in the living room. The walls are a deep auburn color and covered with everything for an unframed abstract painting to enlarged comic book covers and some cartoonish photo collages of colorful aliens-like creatures frolicking around black and white pictures of New York City. As for furniture, nothing seems to belong together, even the dinner table has four different chairs around it but somehow the whole is strangely cohesive. One thing that surprise him is the scent, there's this very distinctive sweet soapy smell in the air; he used to think it was her perfume, but it seems to be the way her apartment actually smells.

"Welcome to my home!" She says, extending her arm to show the room like it was some prize on a game show. She pushes herself on tip-toes and gives him a peck on the cheek, he blushes a little despite himself.

"Your apartment is very... you!" She gives him a questioning look, seemingly unsure if she should be flattered or insulted. "I, I meant that as a compliment; it's warm and welcoming and a little eclectic and those seem to be big parts of your personality."

"I see, well thank you then!" She takes a few steps away from the door, but he stays by the door. She cocks her head to side. "Are you gonna stand there all afternoon?"

"I was just wondering if you prefer for your guests to keep their shoes on, or..."

"It's up to you really, I'm personally a firm believer in letting toes breath." She wiggles hers as if to prove her point.

He puts down the bag he's been holding on a small bench by the door and he proceed to take off his shoes, revealing a neon blue striped sock and an orange one with black cats on it. He places both shoes by door neatly and picks his bag.

"I was told never to arrive to someone's house empty-handed, so I stopped by the market and got us snack food." He feels a little embarrassed, he has been told quite often that he lacks social grace and he hopes this was the right thing to do. Judging by her reaction, he had a good idea; she mentions she has some pop corn and ice cream, but with all this they can have an entire snack feast. She takes the bag into the kitchen, and asks if he'd like anything to drink; he thanks her, but he doesn't need anything. He stand awkwardly in the living room, it feels really intimate to step like that into someone else's living space.

The slight awkwardness relieves itself as soon as a movie is put into the player, she sits close to him and his nerves relax. The movie doesn't keep their attention for long though, after just a few minutes, he feels a compulsion to have her closer.

"Dr. Spencer Reid!" She's laughing so hard it takes her a moment before even be able to finish her sentence, her face in comically overdone offended expression. "Did you just 'yawn-and-arm-over-the-shoulders' me?"

He throws his hands in air in surrender, playing along; his smile extending from ear to ear.

"In my defense, it always works in the movies and also, I don't think can be blamed for wanting to be a little closer to you."

She blushes and he finds it hard to believe how lovely she looks or that he's the one causing this reaction in her. He's just about to mention some fact about the physiology of blushing and the fact that humans only start blushing when the conscience develops, but instead he just leans in and kisses her, and just like that movie is forgotten.

He's quite uncertain when they went from sitting to lying down on her couch, he also has no recollection of even removing his jacket but somehow it got off his body and onto the floor. That's when it happens; the phone rings. He pulls away, breathless and sits back on his heels; he gives her an apologetic smile, with one hand he pushes his hair out of his face, the other reaching into his pocket and grabbing his phone. He glances at Michelle's flustered cheeks and all he wants to do is just silence the inopportune call, despite that he looks at the caller ID and much to his surprise, it's not his phone that's ringing.

"It's not mine."

Kind of in a daze, she blinks a few times before it hits her; she wiggles herself out from under him and takes out her phone.

"Crap! It's my mom."

He signals to take it as he tries to stand, only to find that his legs to be rather flimsy. She sits up on the couch and takes a deep, calming breath before answering.

"Salut maman, oui ça va. Désolée, mon téléphone était coincé dans ma poche. Oui. Hum-hum. J'sais bien, j'm'excuse. Hey m'man, j'peux tu te rappeler plus tard, j'étais occupée. Okay, okay, on s'parle plus tard. Moi aussi. Bye!" She hangs up and sighs. "I'm so sorry about that. She never calls normally, but I haven't phoned her in a few weeks and she was worried... What?"

"The blue fleur-de-lis tattoo, it makes sense now. You're French Canadian." He can't believe he didn't connect the two together earlier, she's really distracting him more than he thought, he'll have to watch that.

"Kinda, I'm a dual citizen actually. I was raised in Quebec City and my parents are Canadians, but I was born in New York."

"Jus soli," he says. "Did you know that of the world 'advanced economies' Canada and the United States are the only countries that observe birthright citizenship? Why was your mom travelling if she was in her third-trimester, that doesn't seem very safe?"

She explains that her father is a sound technician and the band he was working for when her mother found out she was pregnant, was about to leave on tour. He didn't want to leave his pregnant girlfriend behind and therefore, her mom traveled with them. They were going to go home to Quebec two weeks before her due date, but unfortunately she went into labor a little early. "...and voilà, April 1st, 1980, I popped out in New York City."

"You're older than me."

"Really?"

"Hum-hum!" He nods and points to himself. "October 12, 1980."

"Well, I guess that makes me a cougar then." She says with chuckle, her hand resting on his thigh. She elaborates as he frowns, trying to figure out how being older than him makes her a member of the big cats family. "You know, an older woman who's attracted to younger men."

After that, they decide to give the movie another chance; Michelle makes pop corn and as she sits, he puts his arm around her. It's all so surprisingly easy and normal, it's like he's done it a million times before. She pushes a strand of hair behind his ear and places a small kiss where it was which sends shivers through his entire body.

Later on, food is ordered, delivered and eaten. They talk, laugh and he finally asks her: "I have to ask, what is that smell?"

"What smell?"

"That kind of a soapy, sweet scent. At first, I thought it was your perfume, since I've been smelling it for years at the coffee house, but when I came in, I realized it's the scent of your apartment and I can't seem to figure out what it is."

"Oh that! I don't even smell it anymore, but here, let me show you." She stands and leads him down hall pass the kitchen and the bathroom. There are two doors, one is opened and he can see it's her bedroom, the other is closed and there's a post-it at Michelle's eye-level that says: 'Don't forget your goggles!'

She opens it and steps in, he follows closely; the olfactory overload is inevitable. He doesn't know what he was expecting but this wasn't it. In one corner of the room, sits a large wooden structure with three levels and filled with dark brown bottles; a perfume organ. The middle of the room is filled by a large work bench with a hot plate, multiple pots and pans and molds. The walls are covered with shelves filled bottles and other products.

"Welcome to my lab!" She says a large smile on her face. "The Java Tree is my second job, that's why I'm only there part-time for the morning shift. The rest of the time, I'm here; I hand make bath and body products and that I sell on the Internet. It might sound silly and it doesn't pay the bills, but it makes me happy."

"I think it's great." He can't believe that he's known her for years and seems to know so little about her, but he knows one thing; he's very much looking forward to discovering everything she's willing to share.