As the bus lumbered away with Ellen Russell safely on board, Dave turned away from the cars jockeying for parking spots along the boardwalk and scowled back towards the beach. Angular, out of place in his slacks and cardigan, Reid stood down on the sand looking out towards the water, letting Dave have his privacy. He sighed; six damn days. Although, if he could convince Aaron to let Spencer take the week with him, it might not be all bad. He stepped down off the boardwalk and back onto the sand, dashing off a quick text to Aaron about whether he could afford to lose Spencer too for the week.
“You look like you just beamed down from the damn Enterprise,” Dave said as he stepped up next to Spencer.
Spencer just smirked and leaned back on his heels. “Ellen get off alright?”
Dave shook his head, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure,” Spencer answered placidly. He glanced over, and even though Spencer’s eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, Dave could still feel Spencer sizing him up. “How long until Hotch expects you back?”
“A week.” He shrugged. “Well, six days.” Dave pulled his phone out of his pocket to see if Aaron had answered him yet. He opened the reply sitting on his lockscreen: We can spare you both. Enjoy your vacation. “Until he expects us back,” Dave said, turning his phone so Spencer could read the text.
Spencer reached into his own pocket and pulled out his ancient Nokia and smiled at what could only be Aaron’s message to him saying the same thing. “So it would seem.” He stuck both his hands back in his pockets and turned back to the water. “Any ideas about how to spend our week?”
Dave shrugged again. “Not really. I said it before we left: I’m terrible at this whole vacation thing. We could--”
“Oh, no, no,” Spencer shook his head. “We are not going to keep looking for Darlene. There are plenty of other field agents who specialize in fugitive recovery to take care of that.” He slipped his arm through the crook in Dave’s elbow and smiled at him. “Let’s take a walk and find something to eat. We can figure the rest out later.”
Spencer’s suggestion turned out to be less “let’s find a place” and more “I know a place,” but Dave wasn’t complaining since it meant he was currently eating the best fish tacos he’d ever had.
“So how often have you been to Tijuana that you know where to go for good food that’s not a tourist trap?”
Spencer shrugged as he trailed his spoon through his half-finished paella. “Oh, you know...you do all kinds of crazy stuff in college.”
“Crazy stuff?” Dave repeated skeptically. “Weren’t you like twelve?”
Spencer flashed him a devious smile. “I wasn’t twelve my entire college career, you realize.”
Dave laughed. “Does that mean you have a regrettable barely legible tattoo?”
“You’ve seen me naked,” Spencer answered. “Frequently. And in many types of lighting. Where could I possibly be hiding a tattoo from you at this point?”
“Fair point.” Dave watched Spencer take the last few bites of his dinner before he spoke again. “So is this how you know?”
“Know what?” Spencer asked innocently, motioning the waiter for their bill.
“That you can get from here to LA in under two hours.”
“Well not from here . But yeah. It’s just basic math,” Spencer said with a smirk.
Dave rolled his eyes. “Basic math my ass.”
The moment they got back to their hotel, Dave went to take a shower, and Spencer shed his work clothes in favor of an old set of Academy PT sweats he’d repurposed as pajamas and wandered out onto the balcony. There was still enough street traffic that he could only just hear the waves crashing on the beach, but he curled himself into one of the chairs and listened to the lives going on below him as the stars began to peek out.
Dave tapped him on the shoulder with one of the bottles of water from the hotel mini-bar a few minutes later then handed it over when Spencer looked up at him. He dragged the other chair over so he could sit right next to Spencer and lean his feet on the balcony railing. He admired their feet on the railing next to each other for a moment then tapped the top of Spencer’s foot with his toes. “So how do you know?”
Spencer smiled and rolled the bottle between his hands a few times before he looked over to meet Dave’s eye. “Ethan and I came down here the weekend after I turned 18. He didn’t think I’d still want to be friends with him by the time I turned 21, so he wanted to ‘give me the full college experience’ before I outgrew him.” Spencer’s expression softened at the memory. “His words, not mine, of course.”
“So the full bucket list of questionable life choices?” Dave asked.
Spencer laughed. “Yeah. He tried to convince me to get a tattoo, but...well…”
“Why mess with perfection?” Dave asked, only kidding a little.
“We had planned to get up early that Monday morning...like 5:30...to drive back for class, but we slept through our alarm and by the time we woke up we only had two hours to make the drive back to CalTech.”
“I don’t know a college student alive who knows what 5:30 in the morning looks like unless they haven’t been to bed yet,” Dave said with a laugh. He motioned for Spencer to continue, “So you hopped in your…”
“Ethan’s Camaro,” Spencer finished. He smiled fondly at the memory. “I was more...on top of things...than he was, so he let me drive. We were barely on the edge of LA when Ethan decided he was starving and had to eat right then, so we stopped at this little all night taco place. Still made it back to campus in time for my first class.”
“You were 18, right? You had to have been doing graduate work by then,” Dave said. Spencer nodded. “What class could you possibly have had that early in the day?”
“Oh I had to teach,” Spencer answered.
Dave cracked up laughing. “Oh my God! You were teaching with a hangover after recklessly speeding back from a weekend bender in Tijuana!” He collapsed against Spencer’s shoulder still laughing helplessly. “You have hidden depths, Doctor Reid.”
Spencer sighed and settled down so he and Dave were more tightly snuggled together. “Yeah, it definitely wasn’t my best lecture. Thankfully they had a quiz so I really only had to fill about half the time.” He wriggled the hand trapped between their bodies free and laced his fingers with Dave’s. “It felt like the full college experience, at any rate.”
Dave chuckled and straightened up so Spencer could lean his head more fully on Dave’s shoulder. As the night drew in around them, the cool wind blowing in off the water and the low thud of the bass from the nightclubs lulled them into a soft torpor. Occasionally Spencer curled his bare toes around the cables of the balcony rails, and intimate familiarity told Dave he was doing it to keep himself awake.
“So…” Dave jiggled their joined hands against Spencer’s leg. “As illuminating as this has been, it doesn’t solve how we’re going to spend a week’s worth of leave time.”
“Mmm?” Spencer roused himself and smiled hazily at Dave. “Well, we don’t have to make any decisions until tomorrow, but I wouldn’t say no to a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Extend our beach theme a little longer.”
Dave hauled Spencer to his feet and started propelling him back into the room and towards the bed. “Our beach theme?”
Spencer dropped into bed and nodded. “Yeah. Probably fewer murderers as well.”
“You work the same place I do...you know how many times we end up on beaches,” Dave replied.
Spencer chuckled. “Good point. Go to sleep, we’ll figure it out tomorrow.”
Dave planted a kiss on Spencer’s forehead. “Yes, sir.”
Dave woke early the following morning with the sun shining straight in his face. Cursing under his breath about forgetting to close the curtains the night before, he closed the drapes then called down to room service for coffee. While he waited, a thought struck him, and he grabbed his phone off the nightstand and fired up the browser.
“Is there coffee?” Spencer demanded from the depths of the blankets shortly after the room service had arrived.
Dave brought over a cup doctored the way he knew Spencer liked. “You have got ESP or something where caffeine’s concerned,” he said, passing the cup over.
“Thanks.” Spencer sat up and took a few tentative sips then smiled and sagged back against the headboard. “Oh, yes, this is good.”
Dave watched Spencer drink his coffee for a moment longer then asked, “What if I told you I’d rented a Camaro with a V8 engine for the rest of our leave?”
Spencer set down his coffee and gifted Dave with a brilliant smile. “Then I'd offer to give you a practical demonstration of my mathematical skills."