May 082014

Title: Warmth
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters: Spencer Reid
Rating: Rating: PG (L0 N1 S0 V0 D1)
Warnings: Eccentric genius, sans pants, drinking brandy.
Notes: For TumblrFrellingaround, who put 'warmth' in my ask box. A little Criminal Minds, to shake things up. Introspective!Reid because that's how I roll.

Spencer Reid was always dressed. Well, almost always. He wasn't usually dressed in the shower, but that was because showers were a poor place in which to be dressed. Principally, though, whether he intended to be seen or not, he wore clothes.

The root cause could be said to come from any number of things — his mother's poorly-timed bouts of madness, the fact that even when he wasn't at work, he was still effectively at work — but, on the whole, it was because he was an exceptionally thin man, and couldn't retain body heat worth a damn. Some lesser percentage of his coffee intake might be said to have the same cause — if it weren't a hot drink, he might have taken his caffeine in a different form.

But, as it stood, he tended toward a slight chill, even on warm days. It was less bad, at work, where the modern double-paned glass windows were properly sealed, and the walls didn't have those tiny cracks where the chill crept in. Los Angeles, he decided, wasn't bad, either. Substantially less swampy than Miami or New Orleans.

He could have moved. He knew that. He knew he didn't have to live in a draughty brownstone near a Metro station he never used, but… It was home — his home — and that was a powerful motivation. Moving also meant he'd have to give up those beautiful windows that let the light illuminate his library. He adored the diffraction in the finish on the coffee table, and the pooling illusions as it washed over the mismatched wood furniture. It was amazing, when he was actually home to enjoy it. A bit of a chill was a small price to pay for the freedom inherent in knowing it was his — that he belonged here, in this spectacular haven of light and literature.

He had coffee and an enormously heavy dressing gown. With both, he felt in control of his domain, scholarly king of all he surveyed, in his tan terrycloth robes of office. It was that utterly ridiculous little pomposity that brightened his dim days. The dark ones took a whole lot more effort, but even those could be buffed to a glossy black with the addition of coffee and delusions of royalty.

Thirty-something, and still playing dress-up? Damn straight. Life was meant to be enjoyed.

And then, one day, change visited his draughty kingdom of books. He came back from a case to find men on scaffolds outside the windows, running lines of sealant along the edges of the panes. Over the next two weeks, all the cracks and crevices the cold had crept through, on the outside of the building, were sealed up and painted over. It was a strange feeling — almost a wrongness — that came with opening his door and not being struck with the change in temperature.

In the dead of that winter, a particular madness beset him — a strange nagging wonder. And so, he bought a bottle of that brandy Rossi introduced him to, and went home to his strangely-warm apartment. First, the thermostat. He turned it up — now that the heat would stay in, and he wasn't paying to heat the neighbourhood, seventy-five sounded nice. Maybe he'd nudge it up a bit, later. It didn't go past eighty, so maybe he'd just put it all the way up. The thought sounded delightful. Eighty degrees. In his apartment. Like a summer day, in the middle of the night, in December. He left the brandy on the coffee table and his shoes beside the couch, before he wet to put on a pot of coffee. The sweater-vest got tossed onto a chair, as he stepped back into the living room, and he unbuttoned his shirt, as he pondered a shelf of books. Something bold and delirious, he thought, and his hand leapt to The Knight of the Cart. Not Launcelot's best moment, but definitely bold.

His shirt joined the sweater-vest on the chair, as he returned to the couch, book in hand. He could feel the heat winding through the room, from the radiators, like warm serpents around his legs. Morgan, he thought, was an average weight, for his age and size, and Morgan walked around shirtless, at appropriate times. He was pretty sure Morgan just put on shirts to come to work, in the summer. It made him smile to think of himself as 'more like Morgan', in that moment.

He turned a few pages of the book, reading much more slowly, handling the pages of this particular book with care. He'd learnt quite young that older paperbacks just didn't hold up to his reading speed, and the delicate bindings just disintegrated in his hands. About halfway through the book, he set it down to get his coffee — a cup and the whole pot. He was done getting up for the night. First a shot of brandy, and then fill it the rest of the way with coffee. The warmth stayed in him, spreading through his chest, as he drank. He could feel the heat travel through him, meeting the warming air around him.

And he just relaxed. Like a switch had turned off. Like this was the thing he had never quite comprehended, and now it had become brilliantly, perfectly clear. This was what it meant to be warm. Warm and alone, he decided, was a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter.

He opened his trousers and kicked them off, resting his legs on one arm of the sofa. This was perfect. He felt content in a way he never realised he'd been missing. He felt safe — secure in his own momentary solipsism and the warmth of the air. The world, for now, was just this: his coffee and brandy and the sound of turning pages, occasionally punctuated by him shouting dirty words, in French, at Launcelot's brazen bedaftedness. Perhaps after another drink, he'd pick a different book and lounge nude. The neighbours would get over it. It was his apartment, of which he was the scholar-king, and they shouldn't be looking in his windows, anyway.

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