Fandom: Criminal Minds which belongs to CBS.
Summary: Ethan gives Spencer a real birthday.
Notes: As requested by a lovely anon on tumblr for a friend's birthday. Don’t let the title fool you. It isn’t that angsty. It’s taken from Little Miss Sunshine. I mention Proust too much for my own good. The quote is from Proust. There are also several Casablanca references.
It wasn’t that Spencer had never celebrated his birthday. Before his father left there would be a party of sorts with his mother backing a cake and his father handing him books wrapped tight with ribbon. However, as his mother became progressively worse birthdays were like any other day. Spencer would beg her to leave her bedroom for “at least an hour, just one hour” and then, late at night in his room alone, reminded himself only so many years until he could legally get her the help she needed.
Spencer’s eighteenth birthday was the worst.
He met Ethan the day after he admitted his mother to the institution. He was amazed anyone would want to talk to the awkward dork especially when it was evident he had been crying. His eyes were still bloodshot when he looked up from his book, Ethan’s shadow cast over the page.
“Can I help you?” Spencer asked annoyed.
“I haven’t seen you here before,” Ethan said. He grinned wide and sat down at Spencer’s table without asking.
“I can’t believe you just used that line,” Spencer muttered. “Also, you’re not really observant. I come into this coffee shop all the time.”
“Really? Because I’d think I’d remember you. It worked, though, didn’t it?”
“The line. It got ya talkin’.”
Spencer laughed despite himself. “I suppose it did. I’m Spencer.” He dropped his book as Ethan grabbed his hand in a firm shake.
“Pleasure’s all mine. I’m Ethan.”
“Do you make a habit of starting conversations in coffee shops with cliché lines Ethan?”
“No, only with cute guys who are reading Proust,” Ethan replied causing Spencer to blush. “Is it for a class?”
“It isn’t. I, uh, I’m currently working on my engineering degree right now. I’ve already covered psychology. Proust is a favourite of my… of mine.”
Spencer braced himself for the inevitable questions. You’re a bit young to have a degree, let alone be working on another one? What are you? A genius? A freak? Ethan didn’t say any of it.
“Proust is a favourite of mine too, and that is not me using a cliché device, honest. That statement is 100% truth.”
“I don’t know,” Spencer said ducking his head as he smiled. “You might have to prove it.”
Ethan sipped his coffee quietly for a minute before speaking. “Very well. Anything to enjoy your company a little longer Mr. Spencer.”
Spencer’s nineteenth birthday was the best.
After meeting Ethan in the coffee shop, he had given Spencer his number. They would meet up at the same table there for awhile, but soon Ethan was taking Spencer to jazz clubs and classic movie nights at small house theaters. They were watching Casablanca when Ethan first kissed him after whispering in his ear, “We’ll always have Proust.”
Spencer learned Ethan had graduated a few years back and was now “weighing his options” while working in an independent record store. Spencer told him about how he was thinking of joining the FBI and Ethan was the first person who didn’t tell him he couldn’t do it. He had just said, “Well, I hate the cold, so please pick a California branch.”
A year had passed, and Spencer’s birthday was steadily approaching. Ethan had insisted the week prior that he was cooking for him. “A nice night at home. We can go out for our anniversary.” Spencer had just smiled and nodded. If that was what everyone else did, it was fine with him. As long as he was with Ethan.
Spencer went to Ethan’s apartment after class and was greeted by the smell of tomato sauce. He walked to the kitchen where Ethan was hunched over the stove, a wooden spoon held to his lips as he dribbled the sauce everywhere. He laughed when he noticed Spencer in the doorway.
“I never said I was the best cook,” he offered.
“It doesn’t matter,” Spencer said before kissing him, the taste of tomato mingling with something that was purely Ethan.
“Oh, good. We’ll just have to survive on take out,” Ethan said.
He shooed Spencer away then until it was time to eat. As they sat at the rarely used dining table, eating the strands of spaghetti that had seemed to all be stuck together, Ethan slid a small package to Spencer.
“I should wait until we’re done eating, but this food sucks, and I need to see you smile.”
“Ethan, I don’t… you didn’t have… you made dinner…”
“That doesn’t mean I couldn’t get you something,” Ethan said shrugging. “Just open it Spencer.”
The box was wrapped in old sheet music that Spencer carefully unfolded before lifting the lid. Inside was a key on top of a note card. With trembling fingers, Spencer lifted it and read the writing over several times even though the words were imprinted forever.
Someone once said, ‘Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness impossible.’ Spencer, with you, there is no unhappiness.
“It’s a key to the apartment,” Ethan said, his voice barely above a whisper. “You shouldn’t have to keep living in the dorms. I mean, you spend most of your time here anyway.”
Spencer threw his chair back and pulled Ethan up from his. “Thank you so much,” he said.
“Here’s lookin’ at you kid,” Ethan mumbled for Spencer’s lips were on his.
Spencer’s twentieth birthday came and went. He and Ethan were too busy packing to go to FBI Academy.