Rating: FRT for references to rape, violence, language, angst, drug use
Pairing: Rossi/Reid friendship, pre-slash mentions of Morgan/Reid
Summary: The day after Christmas, Reid runs into Rossi and builds a snowman.
Comments: Better than watching Reid suck on a lollipop (and that was pretty darned good)
SPOILERS: Mentions of cases from seasons 1-4, but doesn’t follow the same canon.
This is a continuation of my ‘Least Expected’ series. If you read the series, you’ll have to read this to set up for the next sequel. If you don’t read the series, this most likely won’t make sense—it’s too reliant on back story. This story is also inspired by the fact that I think Rossi is really a loving and supportive person (mostly because he’s learned it from the team) and has always regretted not having a child of his own. I realize I might be a minority in my Rossi love, but it’s in here nonetheless. It also was inspired by the criminal_prompts ‘Winter’ prompt.
*I really love comments…they keep the fic coming. Thanks to all who have said they read and review my series, yer all awesome!
Disclaimer: I don’t own any rights or trademarks to Criminal Minds, the FBI, CBS or any of the characters within. No infringements of these copyrights are intended. Any similarities between original characters therein are a coincidence. I make no profit from the following fictional story. (Fictional, maybe, but I swear this happened all in my head).
6am on December 26th in Washington DC
Dr. Spencer Reid
I couldn’t sleep. Something about Christmas has always been unsettling to me. Maybe it’s because my mother forgot it more often than not. I remember one year, it was June 2nd, the last day of second grade. I brought home a friend who wanted to see my Millennium Falcon model. She had set up the Christmas tree, wrapped gifts (well, she wrapped some of my old toys and several of her books) and had baked cookies. My friend left and I decided to just play along even though it broke my 7-year-old heart. As an adult, I know that she must have honestly thought it was Christmas. But I want to believe that she was just trying to make up the lost holiday the year before in her own way. I don’t believe that, but I want to.
I can’t stop thinking about all of it, about everything. It’s my curse, the ability to remember every single detail of every single event of my life. To remember the way Morgan looked at me when I asked him to leave only a few short hours ago, and the way my whole body broke when he closed the door behind him. His feelings won’t last, and I just can’t take anymore anything. I can’t stop thinking about that night at Deep Lake. The look on Toby’s face when…
My two cats, Taffy and Sally, are spread over the back of the couch napping. When my tea kettle starts to sing Sally opens her eyes and watches me get up to pour some hot water, but she doesn’t move. As long as she can still see me, she’ll stay put.
I pour a cup of tea and stare into it. I don’t want to drink it. So I pour it out in the sink and move to my bathroom for a shower, this time the cats wake up and follow me. Maybe a hot soothing shower will help calm me.
Armed with my newly purchased cup of coffee, I decide to forgo catching the next Metro and just walk the last mile to the office. It’s crisp, but not freezing cold. It’s been a long time since I could stand the sight of winter without feeling sick. In Nebraska when I had to call into the local radio stations and go on-air with a description on the unsubs I was surprisingly not nervous. The thought that I could be out in the snow going door-to-door like the rest of the team was much more terrifying. Even now I look out at the snow and remember what happened at Deep Lake. The only reason I made it out alive is because Morgan and Rossi came looking for me. As large snowflakes start to fall around me, I’m finding myself wishing they hadn’t.
Snow used to be so beautiful to me. Winter used to inspire me, but now I just see red in the white, pain in the cold, and fear in the dark.
Ice and salt crunch underneath my feet as I walk. I pull up my red scarf to cover my mouth and nose (I lost the purple one in the fire in Colorado), and quicken the pace. I walk past the park with the concrete chess boards. I remember Gideon and I would come out here during a nice day, play a game during our lunch hour. Back when life was just as sturdy as those tables.
A car pulls up to the curb several feet ahead of me and parks. I see Rossi get out and walk towards me. “Hey Reid, wanna ride?”
I shake my head. It’s common knowledge that I don’t drive unless I have to. Mostly because my car—used to be my mother’s—is on it’s last leg, but also it’s hard to read or think when driving. I can get things done on the Metro. “I’m okay. Just trying to enjoy the winter again.”
Rossi nods. “I know what you mean. But, it’s nice to see a big open space filled with snow that isn’t tainted red.”
I look over into the park. Not a single footstep or squirrel track. Just a large patch of pure snow. “I can’t forget things Rossi. I mean, I know that you’ll remember what happened there, but I have to remember every single detail.”
“I know Reid.”
I pull down my scarf to sip my coffee. “I know everyone thinks that I blame myself for what happened to Toby. They’re right. Everyone thinks it’s because I never forgave myself for what happened to Tango.”
“Are we right about that?” he asks me.
I shrug. “I’m sure you are.”
“Reid, have you ever built a snow man?” Rossi asks me, walking into the park. His expensive leather shoes are going to be ruined, but he can buy another pair. While Rossi prefers to indulge in the finer things in life, he doesn’t let them dictate his behavior.
“What?” I stand there on the sidewalk, frozen by the rapid change in conversation.
“This year was the second time I’ve been able to put up a Christmas tree,” he says, bending down to begin piling snow up for the base of a snowman. “I spent too many years connecting dots between the worst things of life and the best things. Some things are meant to be good.”
I set my coffee down on one of those concrete chess tables and move to join him. I bend down and begin to pile snow into a second ball for the torso. “You watched them nearly kill Prentiss.”
“I also ran out there and shot one of them before he could take out Morgan,” Rossi pauses to smile at me. “I’ll always remember what it was like to carry her dying body back into the Visitor’s Center, but she’s alive. Granted, she talks like my Aunt Sylvia after smoking a carton a week for sixty years, but she’s alive.”
I manage to laugh at the description of Prentiss’s still-healing voice. “You try to believe in the good side.”
“That’s what this team has taught me. I retired from the BAU the first time because all I could see was evil. But it’s the team, it’s you that keeps the hope going.”
“I’ve never made a snowman before,” I admit. “Growing up in Vegas there was a complete lack of snow and by the time I moved to DC I was too old.”
“You’re never too old.” Rossi smiles at me.
Once finished with the base, he helps me put the torso on. “Too bad we don’t have a carrot or coal or anything,” I say. “That’s what goes into these things, right?”
Rossi shrugs. “It’s okay.”
“No,” I run over to a bush and snap off some twigs for the arms. Knowing this park very well, I dig in a few inches down to find the bark mulch used around the base of the bushes and plant beds, picking up several chips to use for buttons and eyes and a mouth.
When I return, Rossi’s managed to get the head on. “That’s why you’re a genius.”
“There are a lot of things that aren’t okay, not just the snowman.” The words just start pouring out of me, my hot breath clouding up the space between myself and Rossi. “It’s not okay that I don’t look at myself in the mirror because the circles under my eyes just keep getting darker and the scar on my stomach seems to practically glow. It’s not okay that my knee hurts in the cold. It’s not okay that Prentiss can barely speak, or that Josh Bell has to live with the fact that his brother and his co-workers were gunned down by three psychopaths in the middle of the woods. It’s not okay that you have to move past seeing blood in the snow. None of that is okay. It never was and never will be.”
“It’s not okay that such a young man has all those crosses to bear,” Rossi puts a hand on my arm and pulls me into a warm fatherly hug. “What is okay is that you have friends who would take those all away from you if they could.”
“If any of you knew what I’d done, you wouldn’t.” We part and I have to wipe my running nose on my sleeve. At least I’m not crying.
“Reid, if we found out you were Jack the Ripper we’d still be your friends,” Rossi jokes. “But mostly to find out the secret to eternal youth.”
I crack a smile to try to hide the nervousness I feel about that reference. I might as well be. “Here, we have to finish the snowman.”
Once we’ve finished, I take off my red scarf and tie it around his neck. “That’s better.”
“Don’t you need your scarf?” he asks.
I shrug. “I didn’t like it anyway.”
I accept Rossi’s offer for a ride to work. He has heated seats, another Rossi luxury. His car, however, isn’t neat. It reminds me a lot of my apartment sometimes-there isn’t garbage laying around per se but there is a lot of clutter. I finger the stenciled emblem in the leather covering the center console.
When I see the buildings of the FBI Academy looming before us I feel the need to speak again. “I want to use again. I want it so bad that my body aches. The memory of it makes me anxious.”
He puts on his blinker as we make the last turn into the parking garage. “I only know a little bit, what Hotch told me shortly after I joined the team. You were…”
“I was abducted by a multiple personality, one of which was a junkie who gave me Dilaudid to help me cope with the abuse from the other two.” I blink a few times with the memory of Hankel’s face coming into my mind’s eye. “I took the drugs off his dead body and kept using until I realized I was risking the only thing I’ve ever really known: this job.”
“Do you still go to meetings?” Rossi asks me with a caring that until this morning I didn’t think he was capable of.
“I went to a few but I haven’t gone since I got that first-year chip. I actually found the entire twelve-step process to be rather hindering to recovery. If you sit down and read the twelve steps, most of them require that you either put your faith into something other than yourself, a higher power, or that you accept that you don’t have control. It reads like a list of ways to not take responsibility for your actions. I would notice that after a while, participants would just exchange an addiction to substances for an addiction to the meetings, to the ‘sober lifestyle’ that is so far removed from reality it’s a wonder anybody ever gets better.” I realize Rossi hasn’t tried to shut me up yet and I’m grateful to him for it. “At first I thought I had to believe in myself and I would be strong enough but now I’m not so sure.”
“One thing you need to be sure of is that we’re here for you.” He feeds his parking pass into the machine at the gate and the arm goes up. He finds parking on the sixth level and turns off the engine. “If you don’t want to go to meetings, you can talk to me. I might have a flair for the dramatic every now and then, and I won’t go tattling to Hotch unless you do something really stupid, but I’m a good ear.”
I smile, feeling the best I have since we got home from Deep Lake. “Thanks Dave.”
That day had us mostly doing the paperwork for the Nebraska case and catching up on some we’d started before we left. Morgan was cordial, not as cold as he had been before we left for Nebraska, but not the way we were over a year ago. Before everything changed. He spent most of his time making phone calls for Prentiss, whose throat was particularly bad from all the talking in the past few days coupled with being out in the snow for several hours on Christmas morning back at the Buell house, ordering officers to sift through jars filled with hair and torture-themed pornography. Some things are never okay.
Towards the end of the day, I look for Morgan. I don’t know how I feel about us yet, I don’t know how I feel about me. After looking around, I decide to give up and go home. I head to the Metro station, but change my mind and head to the park instead. I’m curious to see if anyone has destroyed our snowman.
When I get to the park, I see our snowman has been demolished. There’s my red scarf, covered in snow, and it makes me frown. Too many times have I seen things break like this, too many times have I felt like this snowman. Then I remember: I made a snowman. I feel a small smile tug at my lips at the thought, even if I’m standing over its corpse. I’m going to put this in my next letter to my mother, she’d appreciate it. If they manage to get her on better meds, get her balanced again. I get my cell phone out and snap a picture to print out and send with the letter. That and catching up on some APA articles with cats on my lap makes for a typical evening. Keep my brain occupied enough to not want to think about much else. Maybe I could try learning a new language. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sign and I’m sure I’d pick it up rather quickly.
I turn around to see Morgan leaning against the side of his car, hands in his coat pockets. “I didn’t hear you pull up. This isn’t your route.”
“I was going to your place,” he approaches me. “Isn’t that your scarf?”
I nod. “I was walking here this morning when Rossi saw me and stopped. We made this.”
“David Rossi made a snowman?” Morgan snickers. “I guess hell has frozen over.”
“I have a feeling we’ve all underestimated him and his paternal abilities,” I wrap my arms around myself. “Why were you going to my place?”
“I wanted to know, uhm, I wanted to say hi to Taffy and Sally.”
“You are a terrible liar,” I say, turning and walking down the sidewalk. Even though there are people bustling around, going home for the day, nobody is paying attention to us. The illusion of privacy.
“No I’m not lying, you know how much I love those cats,” he says, walking beside me. “But you’re right, it’s not my only motivation.”
“I don’t know,” I stop and turn to face him. “About us, I don’t know. What I do know is that I want to try. I want to try a lot of things. Like being okay with snow again, or forgetting things.”
“Fate gave you that memory of yours for a reason, that I believe.” he says quietly, facing me.
“It’s genetics,” I reply.
“Well, you’ve already taken one step,” he looks past me back at the snowman. “You built a snowman.”
I smile. “Yeah I did.”
“Wanna ride home?”
I shake my head. “I think I’m going to walk to the next station, try to enjoy the snow. Something things need to be okay again.”
He shrugs. “Just...I hate to hover but…”
“I’ll text you when I get home, let you know I’m safe. And, uhm, I, uhm…I’ll let you know when I’m ready to talk.”
He smiles. “I hope so.”
I watch him walk away and remember his lips. The way he held me close back at that motel in Nebraska, how he told me he’d wait for me to get my shit together, to think. Maybe this is one of those things that can be okay. Some things should be okay.
“DEREK?” I yell.
He stops and turns around. “Yeah?”
“Derek, I think it’s worth trying.” I swallow the lump in my throat, but it doesn’t work. “Us.”
“You sure? I’m willing to wait longer if you need to…” he walks back towards me. Not fast, but not slow. In that sort of ginger way I’ve seen him walk towards an armed unsub. Cautious. Do I scare him in the same way he scares me?
“There’s a lot of things in my closet,” I manage to say, stepping to the side to avoid getting run over by a gray-haired man in a full-length washed wool coat.
“Mine too kid.”
“Didn’t I ask you not to call me that?” I say, instantly feeling defensive again.
I lower my voice. “I’m not ready to have sex. I haven’t since Davenport.”
“That’s just fine with me. Whatever you need.”
“Just don’t treat me like a kid who needs protecting or coddling, please?” I look him straight in the eye.
“Can I kiss you then?”
He doesn’t wait for his answer before cupping my jaw and kissing me softly, right here on the sidewalk in the middle of Washington DC. My eyes are still closed even when we part, because this is a memory I want to relive over and over and over. At first I see Toby in the cabin. Then I see Tango in that storage garage. I open my eyes to remind me that it’s really Morgan.
And for some inexplicable reason I get scared.
“I should go home,” I clear my throat. “Taffy and Sally are hungry and I still haven’t caught up on sleep.”
“Have you ever?” he laughs. “I can give you a ride.”
“I don’t think we should…”
“And I’ll stay in the car. I promise.” He reaches out a hand. “Ride?”
I take his hand. “Sure.”
*A/N-this is just an interlude to tide you over until after the New Year when the next sequel comes out!
*A/N: The views I gave Reid in this story about AA are actually mine. Whatever way works for someone, I support. I do not mean to start an OT debate or anger/upset anyone in any way. I will say that I have personal experience with addiction, having a younger brother who has been in multiple treatment centers (and has been sober for what, two years now?).