plausive: (CM: Reid)
[personal profile] plausive
I wrote this as a bit of a flashback for an RPG, but it works as a ficlit, and I really like the way it came out.

Title: Playing With Fire
Author: Plausive
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters: Spencer Reid, Diana Reid
Rating: G


"Right as the humour of melancholy
Causeth full many a man in sleep to cry
For fear of blacke bears, or bulles black,
Or elles blacke devils will them take."
- Geoffrey Chaucer

Standing in the doorway of their kitchen, young Spencer Reid watched his mother as she scribbled in her journal. Sometimes he was sure she could write even faster than he could read, her script tight and small, but neat. The handwriting of a professor, a talent she never lost no matter how long she was out of a classroom. Her hair was long again- nearly to her shoulders. Sometimes she cut it, keeping it short and tidy, a style that made her look less crazed and lost. Like this, however, she looked wild. Her bright blond hair, streaked ever so slightly with gray, fell in uncombed waves around her face, falling forward and causing her to tuck it behind her ears over and over again.

Tomorrow it would be short again. She would find a pair of scissors tonight and carefully trim it until she looked like some sort of wise pixie. Spencer knew this, he could spot the signs that she was getting sick of it.

If he asked, she would cut his as well. He liked when she took care of him that way- a moment of calm and normality as she carefully trimmed it. Never too short, she knew exactly what length to keep it for him. Long enough to tuck behind his ears, short enough to look neat without effort. Long enough to hide his face when he ducked his head- short enough to deny the boys at school a reason to call him a girl.

Her pen moved over the paper, and then stopped as she looked up, smiling at Spencer and then shaking her head.

"You should be in bed, you have class in the morning," she said. "If you've come down for a drink, have water, not milk."

Spencer sighed, pushing his glasses up his nose and stepping into the room. "It's noon, and tomorrow is Sunday," he said softly.

"I know that. I know that- I'm just busy. I have papers to grade, and my lecture. I haven't finished my lecture..." Diana said, getting irritated as she started to write again.

Spencer didn't have it in him to remind her that she hadn't had a class to teach in years. That whatever it was she was writing was a waste of energy. Instead he sat down at the table, watching her and taking off his glasses to clean them. "What is the lecture on?" he asked, careful to keep his tone light and curious, rather than concerned.

"The Garden of Cyrus," Diana replied, not looking up from her work as she spoke.

"I'd like to hear it," Spencer said quietly.

"When it's done," she replied, scribbling and then stopping. She rubbed her head, and then looked at her son again. She smiled softly, reaching across the table and taking his hand. "Look at you. You're so tall now."

At age 13 Spencer Reid was about five foot two, not very tall at all in his opinion. His doctor had told him he'd grow more though, that he would be tall like his mother. Taller maybe. Spencer couldn't wait for that day- he was so tired of being small.

"I'll still be the shortest at graduation next week," he said, pulling his feet up onto the kitchen chair and sitting cross legged. "I don't want to go," he admitted quietly.

Diana looked up again, concern in her eyes as she studied him. "You're going to be valedictorian, you have to go. They'll want you to speak."

"I don't want to speak to them- they don't care about what I have to say. I just want the year to be over so I can start my summer classes at the university," Spencer said honestly. "Don't make me go. I don't want to- and they don't care if I do. I don't want to celebrate the last few years, mom. I just want to move on."

Diana rubbed the bridge of her nose. “To elope is cowardly; it is running away from danger; and danger has become so rare in modern life,” she said.

Spencer looked down at the table. "Oscar Wilde," he replied, letting her know he knew what she was quoting. He was quiet for a moment, and then offered a quote from the same play. "The one advantage of playing with fire, is that one never gets even singed. It is the people who don't know how to play with it who get burned up."

In context it was hardly relevant to their discussion, but Spencer understood her point.

Diana smiled. "You're not the kind of person who'll ever get burned, Spencer," she replied, as if she saw something in her son that he didn't. "Come here," she said, patting the seat beside her.

Spencer didn't hesitate, and he moved to change seats, leaning against her lightly as she slipped an arm around him. "They can't hurt you, Spencer," she told him, her voice soft in a way he'd forgotten it could be. "They can try, but you're so much stronger than they are. They have stones and fists, but what you have is so much more. You intimidate them- I know you can't see it, but you will one day."

Leaning over, she pressed her lips to his forehead. From here he could see what she was writing, the way the words shifted with her moods. From paranoid to calm, from angry to tired. It was all there, and it made him ache for her.

"You'll go, and you'll speak, and they'll listen- and when they look at you they'll know they'll never have what you have," she told him, stroking his hair as she spoke. "It's so late now though, Spencer, you should go to bed."

He didn't have the heart to tell her it was still only noon.
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