Spencer was sitting at a table, eating a snack and drinking a cup of coffee in the square made in the center of the building. He had stood outside of his bookstore and stared at the staff running the register until Derek had finally relented and came in to escort him to get coffee and a snack. There was no Aaron around that day to take pity on him and get him coffee.
It was beautiful outside and Spencer was enjoying being out in it. He had spent the morning at the park playing chess with a group of people that he played with on and off. Then it had been a picnic lunch he had packed by the side of the river that ran around one side of the park and he had finished a few books that had been in his to-read pile for a while.
Familiar voices had Spencer looking around to figure out who it was. He found Harry and Draco sitting at a table very close to Spencer. Their contrasting black and white blonde hair making it easy to see them. They were seated beside each other with a bottle of wine at the table. It must be a day off for Harry or he had finished up early. He was usually in the restaurant before anyone else, especially on the nights he couldn't sleep, or so Spencer had been told.
The two of them looked like they were in a world of their own making as they sat and chatted. Their voices were lower pitched again Spencer could only hear a low rumble from them. It was nice to see them out and about. Spencer had really only seen Draco in Aaron's office and Harry when he was dragged out of the restaurant by Tony. They were not antisocial but they were very introverted and hadn't got used to Spencer yet, which given the amount of time that each of them had known him it wasn't unexpected at all.
Spencer felt like a voyeur as he watched them but he couldn't take his eyes away. They were eating lunch but neither of them lifted a hand from the other's thigh where it had been since Spencer had started to watch them. The wine was sipped after putting down whatever utensil they had in hand. It was kind of adorable and even though Spencer knew that they were roughly the same age as him it seemed like they were young. It was the vulnerability that they showed.
"Hello," a voice said.
Spencer looked up and saw that it was one of the waitress's from Tony's restaurant.
"Hello," Spencer said back, raising up his hand to block the sun that was making it hard to see her.
"Did you want more coffee?" she asked. Her hand was pointing at his cup, which was one of the reusable from Spencer's store which Spencer didn't realize looked like Tony's restaurant ones until after he had bought them all.
"I got this from the coffee shop," Spencer said and he hoped it didn't embarrass her.
"I know. I have a pot of Tony's coffee in my hand and I was sent with it and creamer and sugar for you. Harry and Draco are moving onto dessert and want coffee so Tony wanted them to have good coffee to go with the pudding cake they are eating. I was told to ask you if you wanted some so that you didn't pout at the shop door." She was smiling at him and Spencer made sure to look at her name tag.
"Thank you, Mel, I'd love some coffee." Spencer moved his cup over to where she could pour it and not have to worry about splashing him. She poured the cup and set down just the right about of creamer and sugar. Spencer nodded his head in thanks before she walked away. Spencer doctored the coffee with what he liked and took a sip. Hazelnut flavored it seemed was Tony's choice of coffee for the day.
Spencer closed his eyes as he took a second sip. When he opened his eyes he noticed that Mel had set something else down on Spencer's far side, she was good because he hadn't noticed her doing it. It was an orange rose. Spencer's mind picked apart the meaning of an orange rose. It was different but the meaning was no less clear. Orange roses meant excitement, desire, and enthusiasm. In an established relationship, it would show a continuing affection for someone while in a starting one it meant that they were looking forward to starting one.
Picking up the rose, Spencer smelled it and found that the smell was soft and pretty damned perfect. Spencer looked at the stem of the rose and saw there was a note written on the damned stem. Spencer turned it sideways to read it. Tony wanted him to wear it in his lapel that night. There was even the location of where to cut it marked.
Spencer laid the rose down in the shade and picked up his coffee to drink it. He wondered where Tony was. Spencer looked at the time and knew that he needed to get going to his haircut appointment. Aaron had forced one on him to get his hair trimmed and styled some. Spencer knew that it was Aaron's way of letting Spencer know that he was really happy with Spencer dating Tony. The last few people that Spencer had been interested in had set Aaron on edge. It had never felt like it was an action that meant that Aaron was jealous but just that he didn't think they were good enough for Spencer. It was like have a possessive best friend who you used to have a lot of sex with.
Finishing his coffee, Spencer started to clean up the table. Someone would be around to fetch the cup and plate that Spencer had used but he had to put them in the bus tub that was on top of the trash can to the far side. Everything for the coffee shop was run through the restaurant's dishwasher and then returned to them. Tony had offered it because it wasn't like a few extra loads would really bother the restaurant’s profit margin and then Spencer didn't have to have one, even a small one, put into the bookstore.
"Hello," Steve said as Spencer almost backed into him.
Spencer spun around. He had not talked to Steve that much since getting the shop moved in. Steve was smiling at Spencer. It was nice to see Steve smiling.
"Hello, Steve. What are you doing out and about?"
"It's the weekend, Spencer. While Aaron's bogged in a case I don't have one at the moment that needs my attention on the weekend. He wanted to play hooky yesterday and that meant paying for it today. I was actually looking for you. I was going to offer to drive you to your hair cut. I have one as well at the same time."
Spencer narrowed his eyes at the man but he looked genuine and it wasn't like he could fake a haircut appointment. He would either get one or not when they were there.
"Sure. That's fine."
Steve was more reserved with Spencer than many of the others but Spencer was pretty sure that it was just that Steve wasn't used to having Spencer around in his personal life as compared to professional. It was nice to have one of them that didn't want to live in Spencer's pocket. Since it was nice they walked to the car.
"So Tony's been very excited about this, according to Danny." Steve pointed to a car that was in the parking garage for the building. When Minerva had built the location she had done well at it. There was a floor that was just for people who lived there and staff and the rest was for customers and there was even a skywalk that allowed them to enter the building without going outside if the weather was bad. It was also used by the residents and staff but it was nice to have a nice place. Minerva made more than enough money to keep it all up and she did. There were never potholes in any of it for longer than it took for the company to come out and patch them.
"I'm glad," Spencer said.
"Tony doesn't date much. He talks about it and he goes out with friends and such, friends that don't live here but he doesn't actually bring anyone home."
Spencer realized then exactly what this was. Spencer wondered if he was going to get the same conversation from a few of the others or if Steve had been the one to win the right to give Spencer the shovel talk. Spencer knew that Steve had been military until an injury had put him out of it. That was when he went and got his law degree and where he had met Aaron. Their friendship had spawned from there. Spencer still wasn't sure exactly how Danny had come into it but it was interesting to see the difference between all of them. No one in the building was exactly like the other so Spencer was sure that there were small spats between them.
Minerva ran all of them like a firm mother. It was interesting because Spencer had never had a mothering figure, well after he was about six years old. After an accident where his mother thought that a friend was trying to steal him, his father couldn't hide her illness anymore, she had been committed. After that Spencer was left with a father who didn't care about what Spencer did as long it didn't bother him. Spencer had been raised by a nanny of sorts after that. It had been strange but she had never treated him like her own child, she was just as distant as Spencer's own father. She was the one that went with Spencer to California when he got into Caltech at the age of thirteen. When he turned sixteen and got emancipated and grants to live off of while he was getting his degrees, she left his life and he had never heard from her again.
Spencer didn't chafe under Minerva's hand though, she was good at not being too much. Probably something she had perfected while working at whatever school she worked at.
"I like Tony a lot," Spencer said.
"It's not like I'm the only one who is skirting around starting a relationship. I think actually Tony and I are moving at a fast pace compared to you and Aaron," Spencer said.
When they stopped at the light, Steve looked at Spencer with a raised eyebrow. "I am not wanting to start a relationship with Aaron."
"No, but Aaron and Danny are circling each other and so are you and Seeley."
Steve glared but he couldn't for long as the light changed.
"So did Aaron tell any of you that I have degrees in psychology? I was almost lured into the FBI to be a profiler but I found that I liked working in the local bookstore to help people find books. It might not be the best use of my degrees but I really enjoy it and isn't that the best thing? Doing what you love as long as you can sustain a life at it."
"I think you'll find that we all feel the same on that," Steve with a smile.
"So nothing on the relationships?" Spencer asked.
"Not everyone is as open as you and Tony but you are correct on the status of the kind of relationship between Seeley and I."
"Though your relationship is a little further along than Aaron and Danny's. At least you two are having sex."
"That's going to get you in trouble one day," Steve said.
"It hasn't yet and I've noticed things like that from when I was young. I people watch and I watch very closely. It's a curse and a blessing." Spencer waited for Steve to park the car, the haircut place was technically close enough to walk to but Steve liked to drive places instead and it was a contrast to Spencer who liked to walk everywhere or take the bus. Spencer liked to drive but he liked to take long trips in the car instead of short hops so when he was doing errands, he walked or took the bus. "So friends with benefits that turned into feelings and such?"
"I can see why Aaron likes you. You are blunt." Steve opened his door and got out of the car. Spencer did as well. He looked at Steve over the top of the car. "Yes."
Spencer grinned and followed behind Steve into the shop. Spencer had never been in there before. It was a family place so there were ladies under the perm machines and even an area set up for kids to play in as well as kid areas to get a hair cut. Spencer had found a place when he had moved to town to open his bookstore with a friend that was cheap as hell and he had just never stopped going there but he liked what he saw of this new place.
"Steve!" an older lady called out with a grin. She stepped up and hugged Steve. "You are a little early. that's unlike you."
"Well I brought along Spencer and his appointment is a few minutes before mine."
"Oh, Aaron's Spencer?" the lady asked. She turned to look at Spencer with that grin still in place. "It's lovely to meet you. You can call me Mama. Everyone here does. Now I think you are with Dale while I have Steve here."
"Yes, Mama," Spencer said. Spencer was shocked when he was pulled into a hug. Spencer tried not to push her away. He knew that some people were tactile but he had never been. Which Spencer knew was from the way that he had grown up. He usually tried to pass his near touch phobia as a germ phobia but there were some that noticed the difference and asked him about it.
"Oh, shit. Aaron told me not to do that," Mama said with a frown. "I'm sorry. Aaron told me that you don't like strange people hugging you. Oh, don't tell him. He told me seven times not to do it and even made me write it down when I took the appointment. Fiddlesticks."
"It's okay," Spencer said with a smile. He had got used to people like her. never met a stranger and liked to give affection.
"Dale's in the back there, purple chair. Aaron said that you would like that."
"Thank you." Spencer nodded at Steve before going back to where the chair was. He looked at the shop, it was nice, upscale and kind of home fancy while not being like those places that tried to model themselves after the big fashion hair places. It was really nice. If Dale was good at what she was doing, Spencer would come back to get his hair cut here from then on out. It was a lot closer to where he was living even before but especially now than his other place was.
Dale asked what he wanted as compared to what Aaron had told her that he wanted, which in this case lined up exactly. That had set Dale laughing. She asked inane stuff about his life while sharing a few tidbits about her own.
Steve was done long before Spencer was because Steve had never stopped getting his military cut, even so long out of it. He settled in a chair that was next to Dale and tried to talk her into cutting Spencer's hair like his own. Spencer had longer hair and he liked it but he had been debating getting it cut down to something shorter.
The register was run by a teenager that Spencer was pretty sure was holding the job because it was easy. He was studying a math book but was quick to turn to Spencer as he stepped up to the register.
"Name?" the teen asked. There was no name tag on his shirt but since it seemed that it was all regulars there, Spencer was shocked.
"Spencer Reid," Spencer said with a slight frown.
The teen typed out the name and clicked a few things.
"It's already been paid for by Hotch," the teen said.
"Oh, thank you." Spencer pulled a ten from his wallet and dropped it into the tip jar with Dale's name on it. He was pretty sure that Aaron had probably done that as well but Spencer didn't feel right not paying something.
Steve opened the door for Spencer and the sunlight that was right in front of them blinded Spencer as he stepped out. He covered his eyes and turned his head to the side as quick as he could.
"So that's where we all get our haircut. Just so you know Mama probably thinks that you and Aaron are a couple or something so don't be shocked if she makes a comment like that in the future."
"I was a little shocked to see a computer system that sophisticated."
"That was Mac, well Mac helped. Jimmy, the boy at the register works a little for Mac and Q during the summer. Jimmy is Mama's grandson. She raises him. He's good at code and built that system from the ground up for her. It keeps track of all ins and outs, including the supplies that the staff uses. It's all barcoded so when they grab something, a new bottle of shampoo, or dye or anything like that, they scan it at their station. There is one for each station and all of them do really well at it. Every Saturday morning an inventory list is generated and everything that is low is ordered. Every customer, from one time to the regulars are kept in a database by name so that they can track what they do to each of them just in case the normal person isn't there to do the appointment."
"That's...huh." Spencer knew that technology helped a lot with smaller businesses that needed help but he had never thought of that kind of application for a hairdresser's store.
"Jimmy was so proud when Q approved the idea and then Mac made Jimmy build the computer from the circuit board up. He earned the parts by working in the shop cleaning up on the weekends, which let me tell you, the back is a mess on a good day. Right now they have a girl from an apartment a few blocks down come and clean. She's not interested in computers but she wants the money to help her mom with bills."
"So Jimmy built a computer and then built the code that would make up that system to make his grandma's life easier?"
"Yup. Jimmy's working on getting it patented with Mac's help. It'll help him get into a good college which he'll get into next summer. MIT's got their eye on him because of Mac."
"Eh, it's the other coast and no one we know has gone there."
"Really? Never talked to Aaron about this have you?" Spencer pulled out his cellphone and started to send Jimmy's name to one of his professors that still worked there. "What's his last name and has he actually applied for early acceptance there?"
"He has and his last name is Holsinger."
"Okay. Well, my old math professor still teaches there so he'll do some looking into it."
"You went to Caltech?" Steve asked.
"Yes. Aaron knows that as well so either he's not been paying attention or no one has talked to him about it."
Steve was silent and Spencer wondered if that was the way that he was or he was thinking. Just as they were pulling into the parking spot with Steve's name on it, Steve's phone rang.
"Hello," Steve asked as he accepted the call and put it on speaker phone.
"I ordered pizza for me. Yet, someone there decided that they needed to make your pizza instead."
Steve pursed his lips and tried not to laugh before he hit the mute button so that Danny wouldn't hear him.
"I guess your pizza has pineapple on it?" Spencer asked. He unbuckled his seatbelt and got ready to get out of the car and looked at Steve as he did.
"Yes," Steve answered. He took a few seconds to get himself under control before he unmuted the phone. "I am sorry but I'm back and I'll eat it while you call and bitch, again about someone there trolling you."
"No, you eat this and I'll walk down there and take care of this."
Steve shook his head and got out of the car. Danny was right there, coming out of the stairs. Steve hung up his phone and walked over Danny.
"How about we go together?" Steve asked.
Spencer knew that whatever happened between those two was enough that they were close friends but not anything more. Closer to brothers than friends. Spencer wasn't sure that he could ever live with someone that he wasn't with in an intimate relationship. The both of them had to be doing it because they didn't want to live alone.
Watching them leave, Spencer again tried to figure out what Steve's injury was. It wasn't very evident but as Steve turned a corner to leave the parking garage, he saw the subtle give of one of Steve's knees as he walked. Danny grabbed him but made it look like he was just wrapping an arm around him for them to walk side by side like they were but Spencer could tell that it wasn't just that.
Looking at the time, Spencer knew that he had just enough time to get a little work on the books for the shop done before he had to start to get ready for his date.
James was alone in the shop when Spencer entered to pick up his suit. James was grinning and nodded his head toward the garment bag hanging beside the large changing room that was beside the dais that was used for fittings. Spencer grabbed the bag as he entered the room. He slowly put it on, careful of his hair as he did. He would, of course, take it off again once James was sure that it was perfect. Spencer looked at himself in the mirror after changing into the tux and he liked the look of himself in it.
The tuxedo was ready, James checked it all over as it hung on Spencer's body and Spencer was left with the feeling of weirdness as he was touched more by someone that wasn't Aaron in a long time. It was over the clothes which was good but still, Spencer was a little wary.
The trip was quicker than any of Spencer's other trips into the store but when he was done, he was carrying his tuxedo and he was ready to do some work to clear his mind of what was coming.
Spencer hung up the garment bag on the back of his closet door and left his bedroom, forcing himself to go to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. He liked the machine that Aaron had given him. It was fancy but it made just plain coffee, which Spencer liked better than lattes but he liked the indulgence of the lattes when he was working. The machine allowed Spencer to make a single cup or a pot, whichever he wanted with ease. Spencer made a single cup of coffee with the idea that he could make more if needed.
The office was still very empty as most of Spencer's stuff was in the office in the store. Spencer didn't need an office in his apartment but he liked the ability to work on it when he was unable to sleep. The computer was mirrored to the one in the office so Spencer was able to bring up the expense spreadsheet and start to plug in numbers. The numbers helped to take Spencer's mind off of what was coming in just a few hours.
The sound of a bullhorn drew Spencer out of his perusal of one of his favorite sites for finding new in print authors for bookstores to order from. There were usually at least several chapter excerpts if not the whole book on there. Spencer found several that he liked and had already started to build his order for the next month. He had got on to order a few of the books that had been released the month before that had near flown off the shelves. Spencer silenced the alarm on his phone and stood up from his chair. He stretched out his back and arms before standing up. He looked to see what the weather was like outside and saw that it looked good. The rain that had had a chance of falling didn't seem to be and Spencer was glad.
Spencer stood up and stretched out his entire body, trying not to let his nerves ramp up. He turned to look at the garment bag for a few seconds before walking over to where it was hanging there. He unzipped it and stared at the tuxedo. Spencer wanted the date so he forced himself to get ready.
It wasn't long before he was dressed and ready. Spencer didn't use makeup at all, even to hide blotches on his face and such. Spencer had tried it once and didn't like the feel of it on his skin. Since his hair was already styled and ready to go, Spencer found that he had several minutes to wait around before the time when Tony said that he would be there to pick him up.
Spencer made himself another cup of coffee to give his hands something to do instead of running through his hair which was a default nervous motion. Spencer jumped a little when his cell phone started to ring. He looked around for where he had set it, it was Aaron's ringtone and not Tony's. Spencer had assigned everyone in the building that he had the cell phone number of a different call and even text sound.
"Hello," Spencer said after he found the phone and accepted the call.
"Just wanted to make sure that you weren't freaking out," Aaron said.
"I could just hang up on you, you know."
"I do know that but I also know that you won't because as soon as you picked up the phone you stopped feeling nervous as much. I mainly called to remind you of the rose."
"Shit," Spencer looked where he had put the rose in a vase of water when he had got home. He had set his pair of scissors down beside it to help remind him but he had still forgotten. Spencer walked over, slipping his phone up to where his shoulder was holding it against his ear. He picked up the scissors and snipped the rose right at the mark that was drawn on and then turned his head to where he could put the rose where it beloved.
"How does it look?" Aaron asked.
"I don't know. I'm in the kitchen where my scissors are," Spencer said. He dumped the water into the sink and laid the vase down in the dish drainer. "Let me go to my bedroom and look."
"Okay." Aaron sounded like the patient man that he was, even if Spencer knew that he was excited about Spencer's date. Spencer wondered if Aaron realized that if Tony and Spencer worked out, that would mean that the both of them would focus on Aaron and the pseudo flirting game that was going on between him and Danny. Or they would focus on Steve and Seeley first because at least those two were in bed together already.
"It looks good."
"Really? I want evidence."
Spencer sighed and let the phone slide down into his hand and he brought up the camera before taking a picture and sending it to Aaron in a text.
Spencer waited for Aaron to tell him how he looked.
"Oh, that looks good on you. James and Danny did wonderful on the tux. I kind of regret never getting to strip you out of something like that."
"The best dressed you ever got me was in that vest and shirt combo that day that we went to that one restaurant because you wanted me to have creme brulee. You did strip me out of that one before we even got into your apartment. I never did find that tie and sweater, the elevator had to have ate it."
Aaron laughed and there was a soft chime from Spencer's door. He looked at the time on the clock on his bedside and saw that it was just perfectly the time that Tony told him he would be there to get him.
"Tony's here, Aaron. I'm going to hang up and you can just jerk off to the thoughts of what I look like being stripped naked in this tux." Spencer hung up before Aaron could say anything. Spencer placed his phone in the inside pocket on the tuxedo jacket and straightened everything in the mirror before leaving his bedroom. He opened his door and found Tony in an older style tuxedo. He looked damned good in it.
Tony's eyes moved up and down Spencer's body and grinned at him. "Hello."
"Hello. You look very good."
"You look absolutely beautiful," Tony said.
"So where are we going?"
"That's still a surprise but first." Tony held out an arm so that Spencer could slip his into it. He was tucked into Tony's side. Tony pressed a kiss to Spencer's cheek from that angle and it was a little thrilling. Spencer wanted to reach up and draw Tony back, kissing his lips but the grin on Tony's face said that he wouldn't allow it. "That's for later, Spencer."
"Spoilsport," Spencer said.
"Oh, no. Not a spoilsport. I just want this to go wonderfully and if you get your lips on mine, we are not leaving this apartment." Tony held a mischievous grin on his face and he gently tugged on Spencer's arm. As soon as they were out of the apartment, Tony let Spencer set the alarm before pulling the door shut and locking it. Then Spencer was tucked back into his side and they were off.
There was a town car with driver waiting on them when they exited the building on the backside that was flush with the street. The driver stayed in the front while Tony opened Spencer's door for him.
"So how much theater have you seen?" Tony asked.
That question startled Spencer as he made himself comfortable in the backseat of the car. He watched Tony get into the car and shut the door. He leaned forward and knocked on the window that separated the front of the car from the back. The car was put into gear and they drove off.
"Getting into a getup like this for the theater? Never. Hole in the wall theaters where the actors love the job of acting and not the money or recognition? I've been to ones like that a lot."
"Good. Now the next question, teal or purple?"
"That depends on what it is."
Tony laughed and reached over to a bag that Spencer hadn't noticed was inside the car. Out came two stylish but subtle masks. They were both handed over to Spencer for him to look at. They were the style that had an elastic band to keep them on but they were very expensive. There was padding at crucial points on the face to make it comfortable to wear. They were only half masks as they covered the forehead, eyes, and nose and a little of the cheeks with a taped side but not the lower cheeks or mouth and chin at all. The purple matched the accent colors on Spencer's tuxedo while the teal matched Tony's. There were two options for that. Wearing the matching colors for each of them or being subtle on the claim of each other by wearing the other's color. Spencer handed Tony the purple mask. The masks were twins except for the colors.
"Excellent choice. We will be attending a function and then will be going to dinner. The function will have finger foods but please don't stuff yourself."
"I'm sure that I can eat more than you think and still eat a good dinner." Spencer turned to face Tony a little better and he grinned at the man as he threw his right leg over both of Tony's. It boxed Tony in but allowed him to move around a little as needed. "I'm also sure that dessert will be wonderful."
"Oh, really?" Tony's eyes were sweeping across Spencer's body, taking in the change with the new position that he was in. "And what's for dessert?"
"That depends on how much of a sweet tooth you have. You have the main part of the date, I took care of dessert." Spencer used his leg to pull himself just that much closer to Tony before he turned Tony's face fully to him and pressed a kiss to his lips. One of Tony's hands gripped Spencer thigh, to either push him away or closer, Spencer as sure because it didn't move until Spencer pulled out of the kiss.
"That was unfair," Tony said but he was smiling as he said it.
"I refuse to be distracted the entire night on what your lips feel like pressed to my own." Spencer leaned back in and brush his lips over Tony's very gently. Tony laughed when Spencer pulled back from it.
The car stopped and Spencer looked to the window that was tinted to stop people from seeing in but they could see out. There was no name on the building that they were stopped in front of so he leaned across Tony to look out the other window but there was no name on that one either. Spencer looked at Tony a little confused.
"It's still a secret but if you want to actually do this, we need to get going." Tony shook Spencer's leg using the hand on his thigh. Spencer swung his leg off of Tony and allowed the man to get out before he started to scoot across the seat to get out as well. Tony was there with his arm out. When Spencer was up, he tucked his arm in a loop around his arm.
The door to the building that they were in front of opened up and there was a man there in a full face mask that looked like a close cousin to the ones in their hands.
"Masks on before you enter, please," the man said.
Spencer raised his arms to put his mask on, settling it just perfect on his face before he turned to look at Tony. Tony was doing the same, his lips twisted in a grin. Spencer turned back to the man at the door and found him bowed with his hand outstretched, welcoming them into the building.
"There will be drinks flowing. There is no reason to fear anything here. It's all very safe. Seeley checked them all himself, using a few contacts of his from when he was in the FBI for a few years. Everything is paid for and the only job that you have is to have fun."
"I'm already having fun," Spencer said honestly. He pressed a kiss to Tony's cheek where he could reach with the mask on. "I'm here with you."
"Big talker." Tony was blushing a little bit and the mask wasn't able to hide that.
"I do like talking." Spencer pushed a little huskiness in this voice and Tony stuttered in his steps just enough that Spencer felt it. Spencer hadn't been that kind of bold with anyone in a very long time and it felt good.
Spencer looked around the room that they came into and it was made up like an old time salon. There was a dead body in the corner that was very close to looking too real. Spencer couldn't help but take a step toward it but someone stepped in his path. Spencer looked at the woman who was standing there with a mask that was exactly like the one on the man outside.
"Welcome. Now, are you new?"
"Yes," Tony answered.
"Good, good. All rules are in the envelope that you'll get if you go to the welcome table." She waved her arm toward the table where two other ladies were sitting and drinking what looked like martinis. They tapped their glasses and took a healthy sip as Tony and Spencer stepped up to the table.
"Oh, Mr. Purple, Mr. Teal, welcome!" the ladies said in unison. They each reached into a basket that was in between them and pulled out an envelope. They handed them over. As soon as that was done, they focused on each other again.
Spencer opened his envelope and found that it had a character biography inside of it as well as a list of rules. There was also a sheet of paper to describe what happened beforehand to lead to a dead body. Spencer read over all three sheets before tucking them into his jacket pocket where his phone was.
Tony clasped his hand over Spencer's elbow and led him into another room. There were the rest of the people. Everyone had a mask that was a copy of the ones that Tony and Spencer were wearing except they were all different colors. There was no rhyme or reason to the color scheme other than all were very distinct. It was all shades of light or dark with no middle colors, or very bright when it came to the neon yellow and the salmon color that were on two. It made it easy to be able to tell them apart.
"So, how exactly did you find out about this?"
"We catered it. My catering staff are in the back and will be serving the food once it all starts, they will also be serving the drinks. That's how I know that everything will be safe. The menu has changed a few times as new people were added to the guests. There are a few interesting allergies here tonight and I wanted the food to be edible to everyone."
"Then I am doubly looking forward to the food." Spencer looked around at the people and started to study them. There were a few in the groups that Spencer could tell were already slipping into the character that they had been given. It was very interesting and Spencer was looking forward to the evening.
There was mingling before and after the dead body had been "found" and Spencer watched everyone as they did it. There were small clues dropped here and there by the other participants as well as some of the non-player characters that were the staff members, including the catering staff that were Tony's.
It was four hours of acting like someone while trying to figure out who the killer was. Halfway through another murder happened, a double murder at that and two characters were taken out of the running of the show and replaced with dead bodies wearing their masks. Spencer had no clue where those two went until more staff arrived in the guise of coppers. The small scar on the back of one hand told Spencer it was them. That had Spencer looking at the other characters with interest because that meant that not all of them were actual people like Tony and Spencer but could be moles of sorts.
"It was Mr. Teal!" one of the guests yelled at the cops as they tried to take statements from the people who were around them.
"No, Mr. Teal wasn't here when the first man was killed," one of the others stated.
"So he says," another yelled.
"You are just jealous because he came on the arm of Mr. Purple," the second person said. The first just snorted and turned their face up.
"Actually, it's impossible that I could have killed either Mr. Black or the ladies Navy or Kelly," Spencer said.
"And why is that?" someone asked.
"A trained monkey can tell that they were killed by a left-handed person and Mr. Teal is not left-handed," Tony said with an exasperated tone in his voice. Spencer wondered who had made up the scripts because the ones that were given were small, except when it came to Spencer's. Was his color chosen for a reason or was it random?
"And you are a trained monkey?" another asked.
"I'm an NCIS agent since Mr. Black was a former Marine that makes it my jurisdiction," Tony said.
"Yet, this is federal land so that makes it mine," Spencer said.
"Oh, Mister Prolifer afraid that I'll step on your toes?" Tony asked and the tone matched what it should be but the look in Tony's eyes was pure happiness.
It was back and forth with the two of them slowly figuring out the crime as they talked it over with themselves and the room at large. Spencer gave a ten minute monologue on how the killer had got in and out of the locked room that the two ladies were murdered in. The people in the room after that looked at him like he was weird but Spencer wasn't sure if it was because the script said they were to or because he actually did that without messing up.
The cops arrested the man who had committed the crime because Mr. Black was his secret lover and he was jealous of the friendships that he had with the two ladies. A crime of passion.
Everyone filtered out of the small building that the murder mystery had taken place in and little talking happened. It seemed that a few knew each other but the most didn't. Spencer had drank the wine and champagne that had come out in flutes but he hadn't eaten a lot, too distracted in taking everything in. Their masks had been given back but Spencer understood that. Those had to be hard to create.
"So?" Tony asked once they were back in their car and headed to the next destination.
"It was a very interesting and a little strange for a first date but very wonderful. I think you'll have a hard time topping it."
"I'm sure that I'll think of something," Tony said.
Spencer turned his gaze out into the direction that they were driving. They were headed to the more comfortable area of town, a little ways away from where they lived. The town car stopped in front of a little family restaurant that looked like it was packed with students and families as well as a few people on dates and a few sitting at tables alone. They would be horribly overdressed going in there. Spencer looked at Tony to find him ditching his tuxedo jacket as well as his bowtie. Even the vest came off to where he was just in the shirt and pants. Spencer started to follow him and when they were both down to very little on, Tony got out.
"This place looks very homey."
"I figured that you are used to my cooking and your own but there is something that is very nice about a place where you can get the food of your childhood without having to be the one to cook it."
"You say that like we each had a normal childhood and food," Spencer said. He didn't mean it as a barb but just the fact that neither of them were raised on comfort food made by parents.
"There are still some things like macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes that make me feel like I'm good in the world. One of my staff makes a meal after a holiday or an event at the restaurant. Baked steak, mashed potatoes, and a veggie casserole of some kind. It's good and reminds us that it's that kind of food that makes ours stand out. The staples make the good meals really stand out."
"You know," Spencer said as Tony opened the door for Spencer. Spencer stepped inside and waited until Tony was in and was wrapping his arm around Spencer's again before he kept on going. "I think I could listen to you talk about food for hours."
"I'm sure that some point we will see. I already I know that I like you talking about books. I think that I was in there what, two hours as you read to kids and then gave a impromptu lecture on getting reluctant teen readers to read."
"I actually give that one a lot. I get parents in who are exasperated about finding books for their teens to read and how their teens refuse to read. Most of the time it's parents trying to get them to read the books that they read as kids or the classics and wondering why the kids don't want to. I have a boy that refuses to read books but he loves magazines. It took five visits of finding nothing for them to give up and allow him to get his magazines. As long as the kid is reading, it doesn't matter what he reads. I pushed him to magazines that had a few reader-submitted stories of various genres and that's when we found that he really liked Steampunk so now he's been reading fiction and non-fiction books on steampunk. I think the mom cried the first time he bought a book and not a magazine."
"See that's the feeling that I get when I make a meal that makes someone happy."
The discussion was tabled while they were seated and their drinks were chosen and ordered. Spencer glanced over the menu and Tony didn't even look at his menu at all. Spencer found a meal that he liked the sound of and purposefully set his menu where Tony has placed his at the edge of the table.
A different waiter came out with their drinks and took the menus before he looked a Tony with a grin on his face.
"The special," Tony said.
"Country fried steak please, daily veg, and the asparagus," Spencer said when the waiter looked at him. Spencer saw that his name was Anthony which made Spencer smile. Anthony made a motion with his hand and Spencer realized that he was signing to Tony.
Tony signed something simple back. Spencer wasn't watching close enough to be able to read his hands.
"Sure," the man said. There was a little distortion that was normal for some deaf people who had not heard words spoken.
"What did you order?" Spencer asked.
"They have a bottle of dessert wine that is very lovely with their cheesecake. I ordered that for us with dessert. I know that you said that you had dessert taken care of but I want something sweet and I have plans for us for a while after we are done here."
"So an all night long date?" Spencer asked because it was already a little late in the evening.
"Oh, sweetie, it's going to go until morning if I get my plans done."
Spencer laughed and reached for his glass of tea to drink.
The conversation floated back to Spencer and the trials he had over the years as a purveyor of books while Tony talked about his career as a chef, from the moment where he had stopped being able to play because of an accident during a game with a man that to this day Tony disliked. Tony talked about debating doing into law enforcement but had ended up taking a cooking class at the college because he could do it sitting down and it was interesting. That had made him love of cooking and it had grown from then.
Spencer didn't focus much on his food, listening to Tony talk about pranks done to him when he had been in the various culinary schools he had gone on to figure out what kind of chef he wanted to be.
Time passed and before Spencer knew it a slice of cheesecake was being set down along with a bottle of wine that looked like it didn't have enough for both of them but when Tony poured it, enough for just two glasses came out. Spencer took a sip of it. It was sweet and strong and when a bite of cheesecake was held out on Tony's fork, Spencer opened his mouth. Spencer moaned at the taste of the cheesecake on his tongue. He tried to grab his fork but Tony snagged it and dropped it on the floor with a grin.
"That's not nice."
"I'm not playing nice. I'm playing a short game here." Tony scooted his chair closer to Spencer and speared another bite of the cheesecake. He ate half of what was on the fork before holding it out to Spencer. Spencer made sure that the fork was totally clear of cake when the tines appeared from between his pressed lips. Tony was doing this to arouse, to create intimacy and Spencer could play that game back. He picked up his wine glass with one hand and took a sip while laying his other hand on Tony's thigh, too high to be anything but intimate. Tony's eyes widened but there was a challenge in his eyes.
"What kind of short game?"
"You staying the night in my place."
"Hmm, I never go to someone else's place on the first date," Spencer said after clearing the bite of cheesecake from his mouth with the wine.
"Do you invite someone back to your place on the first date?" Tony asked, leaning in just that little bit more.
"Then why don't we finish up here and we can see what happens."
"Oh, I know what is going to happen." Spencer grinned but seconds later opened his mouth for a slightly larger bite of the cheesecake. Tony was wanting them to get going and Spencer was totally okay with that.
Spencer smelled coffee and groaned as he rolled over in bed. Tony's arm was still wrapped around him and only let him get a little bit away from the other man. It was nice to wake up in bed with someone after so long of not having it. The smell of coffee was luring Spencer out of the bed though. So Spencer decided to head out and get coffee ready for the both of them as well as the dessert that Spencer had made for them that they had never got to. It would make a good breakfast.
Leaning over, Spencer kissed Tony on the lips, feeling the man push into the kiss enough to tell him that Tony was waking up. Spencer brushed at the fringe at the top of Tony's head, the careful styling of his short locks freed from the product that had held them in place until Spencer's hands started to play with it the night before. Tony hair wasn't long enough for Spencer to get a grip at all but that hadn't stopped him from trying. Spencer was sure that his hair looked just as bad.
The coffee pot was just finishing brewing as Spencer entered the kitchen. It was a perfect alarm clock for the times when Spencer didn't have to be into the store that early. He could wake up when he wanted. Spencer got into the fridge to grab the dessert and set it out on the counter before grabbing two mugs and digging out his breakfast tray from the cabinet that it was stored in. He set it down and fixed both cups of coffee directly on it. Spencer cut into the cake that he had made and dished out two very large portions of it.
Spencer's stomach was demanding food but then they hadn't exactly got a lot of sleep. Tony had woken Spencer up not long before dawn for a second round of sex, sleepy rubbing off on each other while their lips never parted and hands didn't stop touching.
"I see it's a good morning," Aaron said from behind him.
Spencer turned to see that Aaron was dressed in pajamas and he had a book in hand that Spencer knew had been in his home office. It was a series of books that Spencer had got Aaron reading years before but instead of Aaron buying his own copy, he always read Spencer's first and then bought his copy. He said that the story was better reading Spencer's copy instead of his own. That book had come out just a few days before and Spencer was kind of shocked it had taken Aaron that long to come and find it.
"It's a good morning but any morning where one wakes up is good. Why do you think I am having a good morning?"
"Because that is Tony's shirt. I recognize the cut of tuxedo shirts that he likes and it hangs in a few spots on you, it wouldn't if it was made for you. I can also see a very lovely hickey on the skin just above your hip when you turned to face me."
"Go away, Aaron Hotchner before I come and make you!" Tony yelled from the bedroom.
Aaron laughed and saluted Spencer with the book before he left, locking the door behind him. Spencer shook his head and picked up the tray to go into the bedroom. Tony was sitting up in bed with the blanket pulled up to cut the chill in the apartment. Spencer liked it cooler to sleep in and the heating was just kicking on to make it warmer in there since it was around the time he normally woke up. Spencer liked the whole programmable thermostat.
"He's nosy," Spencer said.
"Everyone in this building is nosy. Why was he here?"
"A book came out Tuesday and he always reads my copies. I have a feeling that he didn't get it before now just to be able to actually come in here and take it to see if I stayed with you or you stayed with me or we both went home alone."
"I see." Tony didn't look upset.
"I guess it's better than any of the others coming by for a cup of sugar or something. The last time that I went on a date that is what Danny did. Sugar at seven in the morning because he had none for his coffee."
"Danny doesn't drink coffee with anything in it!" Spencer laughed but he set the tray down and proceeded to crawl into bed beside Tony. Tony picked up the tray and set it over his lap. He looked down at the dessert on the tray and then looked at Spencer a little confused.
"What is this?"
"This is something that mom and I made one summer when she had a craving from new medication for banana splits. So it's a graham cracker crust then you layer sliced bananas on that. Spread crushed and drained pineapple on that. Then drizzle with red raspberry preserves mixed with chocolate sauce. Once that's done you top it with whipped cream and then add a cherry and nuts. Banana split cake and since the bananas are covered they don't turn brown and so it can be eaten over a few days."
Spencer felt the blush creep up on his face as Tony picked up the fork on the plate and cut off a section of the cake. Spencer watched him basically dissect the cake layer by later. He worked painstakingly worked on getting a small section of each layer to try on it's own.
"That's not just chocolate sauce and red raspberry preserves," Tony said.
"No. I did make it very grown up. Chocolate liquor sauce and brandy raspberry preserves. I might have also mixed some cherry liquor in the whipped cream." Spencer tried to go over in his head what else he had for breakfast as it didn't seem that Tony liked what Spencer had made. Spencer reached out to take the plate but Tony's hand shot out and grabbed him by the wrist.
"What are you doing?"
"Taking it away."
"Why?" Tony looked at Spencer's face with nothing but curiosity in his eyes.
"You..." Spencer waved his hand at the cake. He frowned because he was at a loss for words. He didn't know how to put into words what he was feeling.
"I only took off a small part to pick apart and not eat as a whole. It's the way that I taste things. I like what I have tasted so far. All recipes have to start somewhere. This one started while you were a kid and you wanted to help your mom feel good. You made this. I can tell." Tony cleaned his fork and he snagged a full bite of his cake. Tony's eyes closed as he savored it. "Why did you add alcohol to it?"
"I did when I was in college. It was part of a cooking thing that one of the sororities did. There was enough sugar in the rest of it that a few got a little tipsy, which was the point. I was finally twenty one so it was kind of nice to be able to do something that my other schoolmates had been able to be a part of."
"I can see that. How do you feel about helping me with it?" Tony asked.
"Making this a true banana split dessert. Isn't that the fun of it, putting the three toppings that you like on it? We can work on making sauces with alcohol in them that work well and then just regular toppings for the few kids that come in. A thick caramel sauce that tastes of scotch."
"Why me? You have other people who could do that." Spencer turned to look away from Tony. He didn't want to be in the kitchen. Tony gave Spencer a weird look before he picked up the tray and set it on the far side of the bed. Tony was still naked under the sheet and Spencer only had on Tony's shirt. Tony grabbed one side of the shirt and pulled Spencer over into his lap. Spencer didn't fight it but it was a very intimate position. While they were both soft, there was every chance they would not remain so while in the position they were in.
"Come here," Tony whispered as his hands held onto Spencer's hips. Spencer slid his hands up to where they were holding Tony's shoulders and he pulled himself in closer. "That's good. I meant you and me in my kitchen, Spencer. We do desserts on occasion that are made at the table. The whipped cream could be made there and then the drizzle already in bottles of bowls. There could be kid friendly ones as well for the few families that we get in. But the process to get it what I think will do well in my restaurant? I wanna do that in my kitchen, just you and me."
Tony leaned in again, rubbing his lips over Spencer before he pressed in for a kiss. "Touching, tasting, and I don't mean the dessert."
Spencer slipped his arms around Tony and leaned closer. "You really wanna do it in your restaurant?"
"I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. I have an ice cream flavored thick whipped cream that I use for another recipe we can use it on top of the graham crackers and banana and then use the cherry whipped cream as it's supposed to be. How do you feel about that?"
"I like it. I wanna try it first though." Spencer started to feel a little bit better about it all. One of Tony's arms wrapped around Spencer's waist holding him right where he was. It was nice to be close to someone like this. It was the only thing that Spencer missed about the sexual relationship that Spencer had had with Aaron. Spencer had never wanted touch before Aaron. Touch was something that only came with sex but Aaron had got Spencer used to the small touches that lovers did and even after that Aaron still touched him in other ways that Spencer learned were for friends.
Tony leaned back from Spencer and then a finger was running down his chest. Spencer looked down to see it was whipped cream.
"Tony," Spencer said as Tony's tongue followed the reverse path the finger had gone on.
"Trying to see if it tastes better on you but I don't know."
Spencer tried to wiggle out of Tony's hold but the arm around his waist was holding him tight. Spencer wiggled again but stopped when he felt how they were both getting hard. Tony finally let Spencer go but a fork with cake was right there in front of Spencer's face.
"I think we are going to need to eat to keep up our strength. I have plans for you today and I don't think that I want to get out of bed. Except maybe for more food."
"Then you had better let me eat." Spencer scooted back enough to where Tony could move the tray back over his lap and they could both eat and drink. Tony watched Spencer more than he looked at anything else including his food but he never missed his mouth or the food when picking it up. He figured it was a chef trick.
Spencer had been a little worried about jumping into bed with Tony too quickly but Tony was very tactile and Spencer was more than willing to take that touch but it meant that part of his emotional process involved touch and the willing acceptance of it. Given they were both sexual creatures, sex was then a natural process of Tony bonding with someone. Spencer finished off his cake before he stirred his coffee once more and drank it in one go.
Tony was eating his last bite, the added back together bits that he had deconstructed first before he drank some of his coffee. Everything was set on the tray and Spencer got off his lap to allow him to slide the tray on the floor before turning back to Spencer. Tony crooked a finger at him so Spencer moved forward to allow Tony to wrap his arms around him again. Spencer shivered at Tony's warm skin on his own. The shirt was doing little to keep Spencer warm and was basically giving him a little bit of modesty.
"We will go out for lunch to the restaurant to allow everyone to check in on us because once word gets out we are there, everyone will flock to us."
Spencer nodded as Tony shifted his hands to grip Spencer's ass cheeks instead of holding him close. Tony leaned up for a kiss and his lips found Spencer's pulse point on his neck.
"I don't care as long as you are there to protect me," Spencer said before gasping as his cock finished filling.
"I think I like you in my shirt," Tony said. Tony dumped Spencer backward on the bed, his limbs sprawling as he bounced a little. "I think you are going to stay in it."
Spencer laughed as Tony started to crawl up his body to kiss him again. Laughing during sex was one of those things that Spencer had come to love and finding it with Tony was utterly perfect. Spencer thought that maybe Tony could become the most important thing in his life.
In fact, Spencer hoped that he did.