How The Wings Ache
Spencer Reid is a compassionate and caring man,a brilliant profiler, and he has some degree of Asperger’s Syndrome or autism. I love his awkward and lonely moments and want him to find some sort of good relationship in the show. So I wrote one. Four chapters, all on this page, complete.
Spencer tiredly joined the team in the conference room. Everyone was surprised to see Emily’s mother there, Ambassador Prentiss. She brought with her an older lady with red hair who spoke only Russian and her daughter, a pretty girl named Natalya who spoke English very well but with a Russian accent. The woman was the wife of the victim and the girl was the daughter. He listened to the team discuss whether or not they should take this case, but Hotch had already made the decision. When the cut finger with its wedding band still attached was shown to the group as well as the urgency of the ransom note, it was clear to everyone they had a very short time-line. They each broke down the assignment and Spencer was to head off to the abduction scene with Gideon and Morgan, while Emily would go with her mother to make phone calls, while Hotch stayed at headquarters with the wife.
It was clear immediately they would need a translator for the wife if the daughter was going to return to the house in Maryland. Hotch called and found there was an FBI consultant translator in the building who could come upstairs to help right away. A stunning auburn haired woman stepped off the elevator in front of the BAU glass doors. She was dressed in an expensive suit and high heels. Used to her effect on men, she smiled softly at the three casually dressed men who were passing her to enter the elevator. None of them hid their surprise or interest in the woman who wore a FBI consultant badge. They stood watching her walk away from them, her snug suit skirt swaying slightly but unintentionally, almost missing the elevator as the doors began to close. As she entered the glass doors, she turned back to look at the three men, her eyes drawn into the depths of the youngest one’s eyes. He looked at her so innocently, not with the obvious lust from the dark man or the curiosity from the older man. He was a puzzle to her, one she didn’t see often. Such innocence and loneliness behind those eyes she thought as the elevator closed, disconnecting their mutual contact.
Once the elevator doors closed Morgan and Gideon both turned and looked expectantly at Spencer. Spencer was still staring at the closed doors, his mind playing over the woman and her look at him. Morgan cleared his throat breaking Spencer out of his reverie.
“Do you know her, Reid?” Morgan asked.
Spencer slowly shook his head his eyes still not moving from the last place he had seen her before the elevator doors closed. “Never seen her before today.”
“Well, I’d say she wants to see you again,” Morgan teased.
“Why? She doesn’t even know me,” Spencer’s voice cracked in embarrassment at Morgan’s teasing.
Gideon smiled slightly at his protégé, “Reid, you’re a profiler. Think about what you saw and what it could mean. I think she profiled you right off the bat.”
“Yeah, I’m some weird geek who works at the FBI. You guys are acting like she’s interested in me. Something like that never happens to me,” Spencer’s tone had become annoyed and he wanted the subject closed.
“Yeah, never happens to you. Like that starlet in Hollywood… Lila wasn’t it? Or what about that hot bartender who fell for your magic show? Chicks dig you Reid. Damned if I know why though,” Morgan finished as they walked out the elevator doors and headed for the car.
The woman walked over to SSA Hotchner introducing herself as Dr. Ella Bauer.
“I’m glad you could get here so quickly, Dr. Bauer. You speak Russian, right?” Hotch asked.
“Of course, Agent Hotchner. I’m fluent in 10 different languages including several dialects of some of them. I consult with the FBI, the CIA, and work primarily at the UN when it is in session. I’m happy I was already in the building so that I could be here quickly to help.”
“Very good then. Let me introduce you to Mrs. Churnes. Her daughter just left with the other agents to return to the home where the abduction took place,” Hotch gave her a brief background on the case and some of the gorier details before they reached Mrs. Churnas.
Ella was surprised that this giant quiet man was so gentle with the old lady. She was frightened and obviously upset, and probably feeling very alone right now. Hotch did his best to introduce Ella but she quickly stepped in and began to speak soothingly to Mrs. Churnas.
“Г-жа Churnas, я Элла. Я здесь помогут, хотя они выглядят для вашего мужа,” Ella said quietly in perfect Russian, already soothing the hysterical woman. (“Mrs. Churnas, my name is Ella. I’m here to help you while they look for your husband.)
Ella continued to speak quietly to the woman as Hotch left Mrs. Churnas in Ella’s capable hands. After a while, the woman’s panic quieted and the two women were engaged in a conversation where Mrs. Churnas even smiled slightly.
Hotch got a phone call and quietly hung up looking over beseechingly at Ella. Ella caught his eye and excused herself briefly from Mrs. Churnas, offering to bring her some tea. Hotch followed Ella into the coffee room while she prepared tea for Mrs. Churnas. “I take it you just got some bad news, Agent Hotchner.”
“Just Hotch is fine.”
“Good. Just Ella then. What has happened?”
He sighed, his mouth drawn in a tight line, “They’ve moved up the timeline. An ear was just delivered to the house.”
Ella looked quickly at her watch, “An hour ahead of time. What happened?”
“Apparently, they got mad that Natalya brought us into the investigation. And they have raised the ransom to $500,000.”
Ella gasped. “Hotch, these people, they don’t have that kind of money. From what I can tell from talking to Mrs. Churnas, they have no money at all. And they are not criminals, Hotch. I’m not a profiler, but I know people and I have lived with people like these and there is no way they are criminals.”
“We know. We haven’t found anything either. Now we have less than an hour to find Mr. Churnas and we still don’t know where to look.”
“Well, she has no idea. I’ll go back and tell her about her husband.” Ella closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again. “And she had just calmed down too. This is just going to upset her more.”
Ella returned to Mrs. Churnas giving the bad news. As expected, the woman cried out and threw herself into Ella’s arms. She already felt bonded to Ella as the only friendly face in the entire room. Ella spent the next hour calming her down and getting her to drink her tea.
When Mr. Churnas was found alive, albeit very injured, the team was relieved and a slightly smiling Hotchner walked into the office where Ella sat with Mrs. Churnas to deliver the good news. Mrs. Churnas’ constant flow of hysterical tears quickly turned to tears of joy as she hugged Ella and then a surprised Hotchner. Soon arrangements were made to drive Mrs. Churnas to the hospital where her husband was in surgery. It was a two-hour drive and Hotch felt that it was important for Ella to accompany Mrs. Churnas to the hospital for help with translation while he prepared the hospital to have another translator waiting at the hospital. Ella agreed, so she, Emily Prentiss, and Mrs. Churnas climbed into one of the bureau’s Suburbans and headed to Maryland.
Once settled in, Mrs. Churnas just stared out the window while Emily and Ella struck up a conversation. Ella explained how she translated for the different areas of government as well as the UN, while Emily asked if Ella knew her mother, Elizabeth Prentiss, the ambassador.
Ella laughed, “Not very likely. As a translator, we stay up in a room with headphones on just translating for the country we have been chosen for. Unless she is in some way infamous, I would not have known her.”
“Well, my mother thinks everyone knows her. She is quite imperious so I won’t tell her what you just said.”
“Tell me about working in the BAU. What about this team?”
Prentiss began describing how, while she didn’t enjoy the work exactly, she felt she was doing something useful, that she was contributing in some way. And she started to talk about the team. “Because of what we do, we are a very tight group. Even so, we don’t really know that much about each other. Little tidbits get dropped now and then, but we don’t go out of our way to find out much about each other just because, well…I guess because we see so much horrible stuff here, we want to keep something of ourselves untainted.”
Ella thought about that for a while, looking at the country side flying by. “I can see how that could be very important. Compartmentalizing is a special gift that not everyone has.”
“Yeah, that is what JJ asked me not too long ago. How could I see scenes like what we see and not be horrified and overwhelmed with the brutality of it all? We had found JJ in a barn where a woman had been entirely eaten by dogs. JJ had to kill the dogs in self-defense or she would have ended up like that woman. It was horrible, and JJ was very affected by it. She had been trapped in that place unsure if she would ever be found alive, everything covered in blood, and alone in the dark like that. I’m not sure I could have compartmentalized that either.”
“Jesus. These are the things you see?”
“That was a bad one, one of the worst, but yeah that is what we see. That same person who killed the woman kidnapped one of our agents, Reid, and we watched over the internet as he was tortured, drugged, and tortured some more. It was awful and I still think Reid is struggling with it.”
“Reid, he is the young genius right?”
“Yeah, that’s him. He knows every statistic that has ever been or ever will be. He remembers everything he reads or hears verbatim. And he’s only 27. Three PhDs by the time he was 24. He knows more about everything than anyone will ever know.”
Ella smiled, “Does he speak any foreign languages?”
Emily turned her eyes from the road and smirked, “Not that I know of. Certainly not Russian. I’ve never heard or seen him reading or speaking another language.”
“Hmmm, then maybe there is something I know that he doesn’t. He surely knows more than I do.”
“Reid, huh? You just passed him in the hallway didn’t you?”
“Yeah, but there is something about him. He looks so sad.”
“I won’t share any of his secrets, the extremely few I know. I’ll let him tell you himself.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Emily.”
Ella introduced Mrs. Churnas to the new translator that would help her at the hospital. She was anxious to see her husband so Ella made their goodbyes quick, and returned to the waiting team. They decided to fly back to Quantico. Ella quietly followed the group with Emily and Gideon on either side of her. Gideon was very warm and welcoming, which was nice. She already felt she knew Emily, and could peg Morgan pretty quickly. JJ also spent time talking with her on the car ride to the plane. They all seemed very nice, but Spencer hadn’t said a word to her, and if anything tried to avoid her eyes.
Gideon pulled him aside to introduce him formally to Ella. “Dr. Ella Bauer, this is Dr. Spencer Reid. She was the translator for Mrs. Churnas.”
Ella gave him a bright smile and put out her hand, while he cautiously placed his hand in hers. “Very nice to meet you Dr. Reid.”
He removed his hand reluctantly and just nodded and smiled a little quirky smile. “You can just call me Reid or Spencer.”
“Good. I’m just Ella.”
He followed her up the plane steps and she took a seat beside Gideon where a chess board was set up. Reid took his usual place across from him as if to play.
Gideon asked Ella as they buckled up, “Do you play chess, Ella?”
“Yes. My dad was a gambler and a genius. He taught me how to play it all.”
“So are you a gambler or a genius?” Gideon teased.
“I would rather hang onto my money than throw it at the house when the odds are in its favor. But I have been willing to take chances in other areas,” she looked across the aisle at Spencer, who looked at her and then quickly looked down pretending to adjust his bag. “As for a genius, no. Not like the two of you. Really really smart, but not a genius.”
Gideon laughed out loud in his soft way, “The only true genius on this plane is sitting right there.” He nodded his head at Spencer.
Spencer blushed and started to nervously talk. “Genius is not really quantifiable. IQ scores are often used but in reality if you don’t do anything with whatever intelligence you have the IQ score doesn’t matter.”
Ella smiled, “Regardless of IQ, which I’m sure yours is very high, you also had 3 PhD’s by the time you were 24. In things like physics, chemistry, and math. That’s pretty esoteric stuff. You must have been the smartest kid in your class.” Ella’s voice dropped down to a quiet empathetic voice as she realized what that must have been like. “You would have been forever the smartest kid in school, and that must have made you the loneliest too.”
Spencer’s head jerked up as he heard her words, surprised that she knew that about him. “Being the smartest kid in the room never is a good thing, no matter how old you get.”
She looked at him and sighed, her eyes slightly damp as she could feel what it must have been like for him. She softly nodded her head and ended his discomfort by looking out the window, breaking off contact for the short 25 minute flight.
She followed the team up the elevator and into the BAU to gather her stuff. She lived in Alexandria and had quite a drive in front of her. She went to the coffee room to fill up her travel mug for the drive. Spencer was already there pouring sugar straight into his coffee mug. She smirked slightly when she saw this, “Having a little coffee with your sugar?”
He smiled back, not quite as nervously this time. “Yeah, it’s been a long day. And I like my coffee sweet. If we had some mocha syrup it would be perfect.” He turned to face her as she made up her own coffee, leaning his hip against the counter.
“So, where do you live, Ella?”
“Alexandria, the historic part. It’s beautiful, but a pretty long drive from here.”
“Anywhere in the D.C. area is a long drive.”
She slightly snorted in agreement as she put the lid on her mug. Emily had walked in unnoticed, while Ella had taken up a similar position as Spencer, leaning lazily against the counter with her hip. She took a sip of her hot coffee and licked her lips. He could hardly take his gaze off of the motion. She smiled at him as she pushed herself off of the counter. She touched his arm as she walked by him saying, “Ces yeux hantée avec ces boucles innocents. Une combinaison irrésistible.”
Spencer turned his body as his eyes followed her as she walked out of the room and out the double glass doors. He heard Emily laugh behind him and he turned quickly around to face her. “Do you know what she just said, Reid?”
“No, but I have an idea that you do. Are you going to tell me?”
Emily smiled at Spencer, not teasingly but just happy for him. “She said, ‘Such haunted eyes with such innocent curls. An irresistible combination.’ ” She felt satisfied with his surprised eyes and raised eyebrows. “And did you see what she left on the counter?”
Spencer turned quickly to look at the counter top, seeing just a small business card, only it wasn’t a business card at all. It was more a calling card, or what would have been called one centuries ago. It simply had her name and two phone numbers on it. Spencer picked up the card rubbing the heavy card paper between his fingers. It felt soft like linen paper, and very expensive. He just lifted his eyes to the place where he had watched her walk away while his mind ran through the possibilities.
How the Wings Ache
A Spencer Reid Story
When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.
Spencer paused outside Gideon’s office and almost turned and walked away when he heard Gideon’s voice invite him in. Spencer’s shoulders dropped slightly like a student who had been caught by the teacher. He walked into his mentor’s office and sat down across from Gideon at the chess table.
“So Spence, what brings you lurking at my door?” Gideon asked quietly while he set up the chess pieces.
Spencer shrugged silently and frowned in thought. “I guess I’m here because I don’t know what to do and don’t have anyone to ask that won’t laugh at me. Except you. I don’t think anything about me would be a surprise to you. And you won’t laugh.”
“You’re wondering about that beautiful long-legged auburn haired woman in here the other day. I heard she found you ‘irrésistible.'” Gideon smiled as he made his first move.
“Oh come on Gideon. Why would a woman like that find me irresistible? Women never find me attractive, ever, despite what Morgan might tease me about. I have fans, and I have some women with a form of hero worship because I saved their lives, but just a gorgeous woman walking through the building thinking I’m irresistible? Never.”
“Why do you find it so hard to believe?”
“Because I’ve lived my whole life liking the pretty girl and it always turns out to be some sort of set up, some sort of cruel torture to humiliate me. It’s like I want to call her, but what if this is just some sort of elaborate ruse?”
“Now you are sounding paranoid Spence. Nothing I saw of her would indicate anything other than what she is, beautiful, intelligent, and interested in you. You should call her.”
“I don’t know,” Spencer shook his head in doubt, moving another chess piece into play. “What would I say? I don’t know if we have anything in common to talk about. I’ll probably just nervously spout off statistics and scare her.”
“I think she will know exactly what to say, Spence. And I don’t think you’ll scare her too much. She recognized a lot in you just in the few minutes she saw you. The two of you exchanged, what?, maybe 10, 20 words the whole time she was here? And yet, she knows you already. Call her. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets.”
Spencer looked up at the wise man who had guided him so well through so many years. He sighed and nodded his head, “No regrets.” Spencer got up from the chair and left the office, his step a little lighter than it was before. But instead of heading for his phone he headed for JJ’s office.
He peeked around the door, chewing on his lip nervously to see if JJ was there. She looked up from her piles of folders and smiled at him, motioning him in. He closed the door behind him as he took a seat across from her. JJ raised her eyes as she watched him close the door but waited until he decided to speak.
“Um, JJ, can you help me with something? Something I don’t want any of the rest of the team to know about?”
“Of course Spence. What is it?”
“I want to ask out Dr. Bauer, the translator. But I don’t really know what to say or what I should suggest that we do. Can you help me?”
“What do you usually like to do on dates? Do you know what she likes?”
“JJ, come on. As Gideon so delicately put it I’ve said maybe twenty words to her, so I don’t know anything about her except she speaks a lot of languages. And I for what I like to do…” he ducked his head shyly, “I haven’t been on very many dates, so I don’t really know what I like to do.”
JJ looked at him her eyes reflecting the embarrassment he must be feeling in even asking her for help. “Well, ok then. Let’s talk about when you would want to go out. Saturday’s are always good because we don’t usually work on Saturday, and she probably doesn’t either. She is a PhD like you so you might see if there is a lecture or an art exhibit she, and you, might be interested in seeing or hearing.” Spencer looked hopeful at that suggestion so JJ continued.
“You can take her to dinner. When you ask her out, find out what she likes.” She saw Reid’s face drop a little at that suggestion. “Why not going out to dinner?”
“JJ, you know how miserable I am as a conversationalist. Sitting at a table with a person I hardly know, I’ll just babble on about whatever comes to my head. Dinner is out. I need to be able to walk and do stuff or listen to something interesting. I can’t just sit at a dinner table, at least not yet.”
JJ nodded in understanding. “What about a picnic? She lives in the historic part of Alexandria. There are lots of places around that area to go visit and picnic at.”
“It’s pretty close to Mr. Vernon. We could go there and then have a picnic on the grounds after seeing the home. Maybe?”
JJ gave him a big smile. “Sounds like a great plan to me. Give her a call and ask. I need to go get some coffee anyway, use my phone.” She patted him on the arm in reassurance and left, closing the door behind her.
Reid sat at JJ’s desk, nervously fiddling with the phone. “No regrets…” he whispered to himself, and clearing his throat started to dial the number.
Ella answered on the second ring, “El…” she said breathlessly.
“Um, hi. This is Spencer Reid with the FBI. I don’t know if…”
She interrupted him laughing happily, “Of course I remember you. I was beginning to despair that you would ever call. How have things been Spencer?”
“We’ve been busy. Just got back from California on a case. I think we are home now through Monday, or at least I hope so.”
“You travel a lot I suppose. That alone says a lot about the state of the criminal life in this country.” Ella was serious.
“Actually, we are asked to go around the world to either help profile someone or teach profiling skills to others. Maybe you can be our translator next time we go.” Spencer’s voice cracked slightly at the invitation, and then nervously moved on to what he had called about. “Ella, I was calling to see if you wanted to go out with me, maybe.” He was disappointed that he didn’t come across as self-assured as he would have liked but it didn’t seem to matter to her.
“I would like that very much, Spencer. Did you have something in mind?” She was trying to alleviate his obvious nervousness with the encouragement in her voice.
“Well…I was thinking maybe we could go to see Mt. Vernon on Saturday and turn it into a picnic…or something.” He really wasn’t sure that his idea was such a good one now.
She paused, smiling on the other end of the phone, and then spoke, “I think that sounds like a perfect first date, Spencer. I haven’t been to Mt. Vernon before even if I have lived here a while. And a picnic, well that is just as good as it gets. Not so structured that we feel weird and we can both relax. What time are you thinking on Saturday?”
“Why don’t I pick you up around 2:00? We can do one of the last tours of the day and it will be less crowded and then picnic afterwards. I’ll get a picnic together. Is there anything you don’t like or would prefer to have?” His confidence was growing now. She had really liked his idea he could tell. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard afterall.
“Good picnic food for me is just fresh baked bread, kalamata is my favorite, olives, cheese, crackers, fruit. I’m sure there are other things too. Do you want to bring some wine or something or would you like me to?”
“I’ll take care of it. Maybe you could bring a blanket we could use?”
“Wonderful Spencer. I’m really looking forward to seeing you again. See you Saturday.”
“Yeah, me too. See you then,” and Reid disconnected the call. He leaned back in JJ’s chair and rocked happily back and forth, his hands behind his head and a smile on his face.
Behind closed doors, JJ helped him to strategize a little, suggesting clothes to wear, things to talk about, what not to do…like nervously spouting off statistics. He was grateful for her help and thanked her before leaving.
Before he left her office JJ asked, “Spencer, can you do me a favor?”
“Of course, anything.”
“Can you call me on Sunday and let me know how it goes?” She smiled slightly and raised her eyebrows.
“You are acting like a mom, JJ, and like this is homecoming or something.”
“Did you even go to homecoming Spence?”
“No. Nothing like any of that.”
“Well, let me be your sister and it won’t be homecoming, it is just a date. But I still want to know.”
“And you promise you won’t tell anyone on the team, not even Gideon. If I want him to know, I’ll tell him.”
“Scout’s honor, Spence. Won’t tell a soul.”
He nodded his head, his shoulders held higher than they had been earlier, and he had a secret little smile on his face the rest of the day.
How the Wings Ache
A Spencer Reid Story
And think not you can
Direct the course of love,
If it finds you worthy,
Directs your course.
Spencer took a long time getting ready that Saturday morning. JJ had helped him get over much of his nervousness by suggesting some things to wear, what to buy for the lunch, even some things to talk about so he didn’t wander off into his favorite subjects of statistics. He cleaned his car out and put the picnic basket in the trunk.
He drove to her house listening to classical music, it helped to clear his head and not let even more words in to fill his already over stimulated brain. He thought about Ella and how he remembered feeling when he first saw her and then again when he touched her hand when they were introduced. That first day as she walked through those glass doors towards him he remembered his heart racing and his eyes couldn’t leave hers, until of course she looked at him. Then he wanted to look anywhere but her eyes. Then there was the cool touch of her hand against his as they were introduced, practically thrown together by Gideon. At least his hands were dry when he shook her hand. He didn’t usually shake hands, went out of his way to avoid it, but when she confidently had put her hand out expecting to shake his, to touch him, he couldn’t resist.
And then when she said those words in French to him, words he didn’t even know but hadn’t forgotten since, he was completely lost. She considered him ‘irresistible’ and he found that alone fascinating. He was quite sure that no one had ever found him irresistible before. Eccentric certainly, geeky, scary, weird, he could think of a hundred words that he guessed others thought of him, but irresistible would not have entered into that list. And he felt the same about her…she was beautiful, intelligent, smart, and he could tell in just their few interactions quite empathetic. She seemed to *know* what he had gone through as a kid, what his job was like and how it must affect him.
As his thoughts wandered, sex crossed his mind. Of course it did. Fifty-four percent of men thought of sex every day or several times a day. He wouldn’t say he thought of it every day, it had long been a source of dissatisfaction for him so he had sort of given up thoughts on the subject. But since he met Ella, sex had definitely become front and center in his thoughts. He smirked to himself as he remembered a scene in Star Trek when Tasha Yar asks Data if he is fully functional and he replies “In every way of course. I am programmed in multiple techniques. A broad variety of pleasuring.” Spencer didn’t tell JJ that he’d only had a handful of dates in his young life, not really surprising given he was so much younger than his counterparts. But he wasn’t a virgin, and he did read, a lot. He hoped that, if the chance ever did arise, so to speak, with Ella he would not let her down.
Spencer pulled in front of Ella’s house and sat in his car, taking it all in. He profiled even when he didn’t want to. The house was a two story white-board country house, not very big, but very well groomed. The paint was perfect and fresh white, the turn-style windows were open upstairs letting the breeze blow the white sheers on each window. The house had a wrap-around porch that was bursting with potted plants of bright fuschia, roses, and herbs, and those were just what he could see. There was a double swing on the front and two rocking chairs on either side of the two steps up to the porch. He smiled slightly, here in the south of course they called it a veranda. The yard was likewise well-kept with gardens edging the white picket fence that looked to surround the property. And in the center, grass. Just thick beautiful grass that one would want to walk through barefoot.
If a man could fall in love with a person just by her house, he was in love. This house represented everything that he never felt he had had: beauty, order, abundance, care, and love. She obviously took care with her garden and with the plants on her veranda. He could see various watering cans and if he looked through the railings on the veranda he could see a small garden tool box. The whole setting was completely picturesque and charming, like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. If he was profiling her, which he told himself he was not, she was organized, her surroundings were important to her, she preferred to work individually or privately, and she felt the need to be involved in something directly.
Someone tapped on the window of his car with a finger nail…tap, tap, tap, startling him out of his reverie. He looked over and saw Ella’s face filling the small window of the car, a bemused smile on her face. He nervously unbuckled and stumbled out of the car and turned towards her. She laughed lightly, asking, “What did you glean from my front yard, Dr. Reid?” Her teasing smile immediately put him at ease, even though he was terribly embarrassed at being caught sitting there.
“Well, I don’t think you are a serial killer. You are much too organized and love beauty too much to be that.” He lightly teased back.
“Good. I’m glad we have established that. Are you ready to come in now and profile me a little more while I gather up Jezebel and her picnic supplies?”
“I wasn’t profiling you, at least I was trying not to. And Jezebel? The most hated woman in the Bible? Why would you choose that name for your dog?”
She laughed as he joined her to walk beside her up the cobblestone path. “Ah, profile me that…” in a parody of a line from Batman, “Riddle me this…”
She was tall, but he was much taller and he smiled down on her shining face. “I hate to tell you this at this late date, but dogs hate me. I never know why…”
“With Jezee I never know…she is a sweet dog to me, but others it is hit or miss. We’ll just have to see,” she said as she opened the door and led the way into her home.
Unlike the outside of her home, covered in plants and pots, the inside was very neat, a comfortable but austere presence. There were several pictures around, but he saw no TV in the living room and very comfortable leather sofas and chairs, and some softly lit Tiffany lamps, but nothing else really. The hard wood floors were bare of any kind of throw rugs and the lines of the furniture just looked clean. As he followed her through the house to the back and into the kitchen Jezebel met him, looked at him curiously and then came up to him wagging her tail in greeting. He was surprised at the dog’s response and it seemed so was Ella.
“That is unusual, Dr. Reid,” her teasing voice was back. “She seems to like you very much.” She watched his unease seem to dissipate as he tentatively reached out a hand to pet her and was welcomed with a lick. Then Ella turned away from the pair as she began to gather some food and water for Jezebel in a pack.
Spencer looked around the kitchen as he pet the red and white Cavalier Spaniel. The kitchen was similar to the rest of the house, clean and neat. The plates and cups were matching and set behind clear glass cabinets. The coffee machine was small and took up limited space. The microwave and oven were built in. Otherwise, there was nothing remarkable about it at all. And even so, it felt warm and cozy, just not covered with the ‘stuff’ he found in so many other homes. He could see the plentiful bird feeders outside the window and could imagine Ella watching the birds feed while drinking her coffee in the morning. As much as she traveled, he imagined that this home she had created was her solace and her inner sanctum and she probably treasured every moment she was there and not in some random hotel room in some random city or country. It made him wonder at why he had spent so little time creating the same sort of sanctuary at his apartment as she had in her home. Perhaps it was because he simply had no understanding of what he needed to feel this grounded. His home was purely functional, no sense of his own personality except perhaps the thousands of books spread around his small apartment. If she ever went there, she would no doubt be disappointed. What Spencer did know is that he liked Ella’s home very much.
The two of them gathered the big fluffy comforter that they would use for their picnic on the Mt. Vernon grounds as well as the stuff for the dog and left the house, making sure the doors were locked and Spencer insisted she close and lock the upstairs windows even when she would have just left them open. As they approached his car she asked, “Classic?”
“Just old,” he said looking at her over the car roof.
“Classic just the same, irresistible…” She smiled at him as she climbed into the passenger seat.
He stood there with the door braced open with his body and smiled happily before climbing into the driver’s seat beside her. This just might be a great day, a really great day.
How the Wings Ache
A Spencer Reid Story
“In that book which is my memory,
On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you,
Appear the words, ‘Here begins a new life’.”
— Dante Alighieri (Vita Nuova)
The drive to Mt. Vernon began uncomfortably for Spencer. There was a beautiful woman sitting in his front seat he liked very much and he could not think of a single thing to say to her. He kept starting something in his head and then stopping himself afraid he would just come across as a babbling idiot. Ella felt his discomfort and tried to ease it a bit. After all, uncomfortable silence was never a good thing between two people. Silence was often good, but not an uncomfortable one.
Before she could start a conversation, Spencer reached nervously for the old radio turning the music up to fill the silence. As his arm stretched out, his white rolled up sleeves fell back revealing the few and tiny needle tracks on the inside of his arm. Ella noticed the tracks right away while he immediately tried to hide his embarrassment and shame by pulling his sleeves back down again. Ella smiled sympathetically at him, as she rubbed her soft thumb against the old scars.
“These are old Spencer.” She made it a statement, with no judgment attached.
“Yeah, umm. It was a case… I got captured and tortured and in between…” his voice wandered off into his painful recollection. Her thumb continued to rub lightly against the marks, as his voice drifted into silence.
Her eyes were sympathetic as she looked into his pooling brown eyes. He turned his eyes back to the road, unwilling to let her see his vulnerability. “You know Spence, we all have our dark memories, our dark times. And we all come out of those times. You came through whatever story this is and instead of staying in that story, you have rewritten it to make you a stronger person because of it. We all have those dark stories in our past. It is how we rewrite those stories to survive that is the measure of our person. You have nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Spencer looked over at her, his brow wrinkled as he thought about what she said, completely aware that she was still stroking those tiny marks on his arm. “And you…do you have those dark stories?”
Ella’s soft smile dropped as she stared into the distance. She was silent for some time, and then she answered him. “Like I said Spencer, we all have them. It is how we survive them that makes us who we are,” She paused and looked at him again, forcing a more cheerful mood into the car. “Now, I have never been to Mt. Vernon, or at least not since I was a child. What can you tell me?”
Spencer breathed deeply and took the out she had offered him, smiling. “Well…” And they continued the rest of the way with Spencer telling her tales of Mt. Vernon and our first President until they pulled into the parking lot.
Two hours later found them in the gardens surrounding Mt. Vernon. Ella had only lightly squeezed Spencer’s arm a few times to keep him from interrupting or correcting the tour guide. From the time they left the car heading for the tour to the time they entered the gardens Spencer had held Ella’s hand and she had wrapped her other hand around his well defined forearm. She was surprised at his strength given his lithe body. She liked the feel of his arm under her hand and kept it there wrapping them close together. Neither of them seemed to mind at all.
On the large smooth ground under a large oak tree, they set the large down blanket Ella and started unloading the picnic basket. Spencer had chosen wonderful picnic finger foods, complete with cut cheeses, fruit, various olives and tapenades and breads. JJ had been very helpful in his choices and Ella seemed to appreciate. He had also brought a bottle of a nice light wine. They laughed and talked quietly on the down comfortably. Spencer’s nervousness had disappeared the more time he spent with Ella and she found she really liked him a lot. While she wasn’t the genius he was, she could keep up with him in a lot of areas. She was amused that as intelligent as he was he knew no foreign languages. She was sure that with a little ‘tutoring’ she might actually turn him into a linguist as well as a genius in everything else.
After they were finished with their meal, they packed away most of the food and laid back just watching to puffy clouds roll by, picking out different animals or things in the clouds. Eventually their giggling at their silliness slowed down to a soft breathing, both watching each other, wondering what would happen next. Spencer rolled to his side, his head held up by his hand bent at the elbow. He looked down on Ella’s beautiful face. He brushed an errant hair off of her face and tucked it behind her ear.
Looking down into her eyes, he sighed as he ran his finger across her cheek and then her lips. “Can I kiss you Ella?”
Her lips turned upwards in a slight smile, recognizing just how difficult even asking that question must have been. “I wish you would Spencer.”
He leaned forward, licking his lips nervously, and let out a sigh as his soft lips brushed against hers. There was no pressure, but for just a few seconds, their lips touched. He pulled away and looked at her again. Burying her hand in his soft curly locks, this time her hand went up and pulled him towards her. The kiss was much longer than a few seconds and their tongues sought each other out, Spencer’s hand pulling her head towards his as well. The pent-up need for each other finally found its outlet and the kisses became more passionate and drawn out. Spencer took a risk and rolled her slightly under him, afraid of her rejection and when her body stiffened he felt it and rolled away again.
This time he pulled away completely, breathing hard, and confused. How could he have read the symptoms so wrong?
He started to apologize when Ella interrupted him. “Spence, remember when we spoke earlier of dark secrets that haunted our pasts?”
He turned his head to face hers, his brow furrowed in confusion. “Yes.”
“I have my own dark secrets. When you rolled over me and I stiffened up, it had nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with something that happened a long time ago.”
“Do you want to tell me about it? I understand if you don’t.”
Ella sighed and her shoulders slumped. “I really like you Spencer. Really. If I tell you this, you may not like me, or want me anymore. I’m afraid.”
“Ella, you know my deepest darkest secret. No one else knows. People might suspect, but no one really knows. I can understand you being afraid.”
Ella rolled towards Spencer’s body and let his comforting arms embrace her. He could feel the start of tears hit his white shirt and felt her pain, but knew he could do nothing to take it away. She just had to start and tell the story how she wanted.
“You already know that I spent most of my youth and young adulthood was spent traveling around the world. It’s why I know the languages the way that I do. Traveling that way, constantly meeting people, needing to be accepted is hard on anyone, much less on a girl who never knew anyone for very long. When we were in Greece, I met a boy. He was beautiful and made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. He promised me things in the light of a full moon that only an innocent would have believed. And I was an innocent. And I believed.”
Ella took a big shuddering breath, tears coming faster but her voice still did not crack. “One night, he wanted me to meet him under the pier for a romantic meeting. My parents watched over me carefully, afraid for my safety, so I snuck out of my window and met him under that pier. Only he wasn’t the only one there. He had brought several friends with him. My brain immediately signaled something wasn’t right, but my body couldn’t translate what it was.”
Ella was silent for a long time. Spencer could only imagine how horrible it must have been and would not have broken into her thoughts for anything. After several minutes, she began again. “They raped me. Repeatedly. There was nothing they did not do to me. But they left no physical mark…they didn’t cut me, they didn’t kill me obviously. Because of my family’s connections, it was kept very quiet but one day the three boys disappeared, probably used as shark bait. We soon left Greece. I got all the counseling I could stand, and eventually healed to the point where I could have a sexual relationship with a man again. But it is hard for me. When you moved on top of me earlier, I wasn’t prepared and I tensed. I’m sorry, but now you know why.”
Spenser pulled her even closer to his body, as if by doing so he could shield her from everything horrible, everything that could hurt her. He wrapped both arms around her and breathed into her clean smelling hair, kissing the top of her head.
“Ella,” he whispered, “Your story, your darkest moment is truly awful. More than I can possibly imagine. But it doesn’t scare me away. If you will have me, I’d like to date you and we’ll go at your pace, follow what makes you comfortable. We are in no rush. There is nothing that would cause us to hurry. We just go nice and slow. But only if that is what you want.”
Ella lifted her head up from his tear dampened shirt. “Spencer, I would like that very much. I like you a lot. I want to get to know you, everything about you. And one day, hopefully soon, we’ll be able to make love.”
He kissed her swollen and salty lips. “Perfect.”
“…the cold winds of insecurity… hadn’t shredded the dreamy chrysalis of his childhood. He was still immersed in the dim, wet wonder of the folded wings that might open if someone loved him; he still hoped, probably, in a butterfly’s unthinking way, for spring and warmth. How the wings ache, folded so, waiting; that is, they ache until they atrophy.”
Spencer Reid’s wings would not ache until they atrophy and neither would Ella’s. Together, they opened the dim wet wonder of the folded wings that opened when one found love. They found love together, and together, like any butterfly as it comes out of its chrysalis flies off together into the future.