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Learning to Use Chopsticks

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“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” -Walt Disney

She always moved in the middle of July.

It wasn’t something that she actively tried to do, of course, but it never failed that when that itch in her legs started again it was just as the weather started to turn hot and cloying.

As it was, this particular moving week wasn’t quite as terrible as it could’ve been. Storms had been plaguing most of the East Coast for nearly a solid month, but she was blessed with a small series of perfectly dry days in which to move, handy given that it was just her hauling box after box into the apartment.

Thank God for elevators, at least.

While moving in itself only took a day, she was thankful for the couple of days that followed wherein she could open up the windows and take in the city noises of DC, so like that which she’d gotten used to in New York, but so terribly different at the same time.

But, that’s why she’d moved here, wasn’t it?

Something new and exciting, but something she could make sense of at the same time.

It was on her third evening in her new apartment that things went a little… Hinky.

She’d ordered Chinese to be delivered from a place that had a pretty good Yelp rating - instinctively knowing that it still would never be as good as anything from Chinatown - but she didn’t have anything besides a couple of cans of soup in her pantry and that simply wouldn’t do.

The woman on the phone had promised her they’d have it to her within thirty minutes - busy Friday night - but after forty minutes and still no food, she decided to call back and check on the status of it.

And heard yelling in the hallway.

Grabbing her baseball bat just in case, she unlocked the doors and opened up, taking a quick peek and snorting at the scene before her.

There was her food. At the wrong door.

Two men were arguing - one of them clearly the delivery boy - and the other was a tall, lanky man with a mop of curly hair who seemed to do more talking with his hands than with his actual mouth.

“No no no, I’m sorry, but you have the wrong apartment!”

“Apartment number four fifteen! See - right here on the ticket-”

“I understand that, but I promise you I didn’t order takeout, so unless someone is playing a trick on me-”

“It’s mine!” She spoke up, stepping out of her apartment with a bashful smile, and she tucked the bat up under her arm as she approached the delivery boy.

“Sorry, I must’ve mumbled my apartment number when I gave the order. Should’ve been four sixteen.”

The delivery boy scowled at her, but since she produced the money and took the food, he wasn’t going to argue any further and ran away as quickly as he could, leaving the two new neighbors standing there awkwardly staring at one another.

“I’m really sor-”
“Should’ve known it was-”
“Sorry, you go fir-”
“Where are my manne-”

They both stopped at once with bashful chuckles, but the tall man broke the silence a moment later.

“Please. Ladies first.”

She grinned at him. “I’m sorry for the mixup. First time ordering takeout since I moved in. I’ll be sure to enunciate better next time.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all. I actually just got home from work, but my coworkers like to play tricks sometimes. Chinese food is a fan favorite.”

She opened her mouth to ask why but decided against it, instead shifting the bag in her arms until it was resting more on her hip so she could extend a hand in greeting.

“I’m Delilah Jacobs. Nice to meet you…”

“Doctor Spencer Reid.” She noted that he was a touch hesitant to reach out and accept the shake, but did so anyway though it ended quickly and his hand immediately returned to his pocket.

“Listen, I um… I won’t keep you. Enjoy your dinner.”

“Wait-” She reached out towards him as she took a faltering step, nearly losing her hold on the bat still tucked under her arm but somehow keeping it all in place. “-I um… Look, I-I probably ordered way too much food here. Definitely too much for just me. If you don’t have any plans, and since you just got home... “ She gave a small shrug. “...you could join me if you wanted?”

Spencer honestly stopped and thought about it for a second, and Delilah was just starting to feel a touch awkward about the suggestion when he gave a nod and a smile.

“I’d like that. Thank you.”

~+~+~+~

Spencer wasn’t sure what exactly had possessed him to agree to dinner with this total stranger - albeit a very pretty stranger - but he figured if anyone was going to figure out that she was a serial killer, it was most likely going to be him.

Probably.

“Sorry about the mess-” Delilah chirped as she led him inside her apartment, the mirror image of his own one-bedroom next door. “-moving is such a pain, you know? So many boxes to go through…”

“I understand.” He glanced around the space, noting the boxes marked ‘kitchen’ and ‘office’ and ‘other’ though he gave her another quick smile as she started pulling cartons of food out of the bag and setting them down on the table.

“Here, let me help you with that.”

“No, I’ve got it. But thank you. Could you get us some drinks though? I think there’s a couple of beers in the fridge if you want one too. If not, I know there’s plenty of bottled water…”

He nodded and turned his attentions towards the fridge, listening as she dug around in a drawer for some cutlery - he was silently praying for the inclusion of forks - and grabbed a beer for her and a bottle of water for himself out before returning his attentions to her.

Delilah still had her back turned to him, and he took a quick minute to assess her just like he did nearly everyone he came into contact with out of some deeply ingrained habit after his years at the BAU.

She was a touch on the taller side of average for a woman, probably around five foot eight, with a head of dark, thick curly hair. She had it tied up at that particular moment, but Spencer would hazard a guess that it probably came down to the center of her back when it was allowed to hang free.

She was also seemingly in good health, slender but not skinny. Perhaps a curvy athletic build? He tried thinking about how Morgan might describe her, but that just made him blush so instead he pushed a bit of hair behind his ear and instead rejoined her at the table.

She had both a fork and a set of chopsticks set out at both places.

“So, Doctor Spencer Reid…” She started after thanking him for the beer and popping off the cap. “...tell me a bit about yourself?”

He noted that she used the fork to scoop out her portion pork lo mein, leaving it in there for him to get some out as well, though she used the chopsticks to carefully pick up a bite of noodles.

“Oh, well, I um... I-I’m a criminal behaviorist with the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico.”

“FBI, huh? That’s impressive. So, you catch bad guys all day?”

“I help.” He nodded, trying not to look to ashamed at the fact that he was clearly just using his fork to eat the noodles. “I’m part of a team. We’re all experts in different areas, which gives us a unique take on how to track down and catch the bad guys.”

“So, what are you a doctor of then, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I actually hold multiple doctorates in mathematics, chemistry and engineering, but I have other degrees as well.”

“You’re some kind of genius, aren’t you?”

He didn’t immediately notice the teasing look on her features and was about to inform her that yes, he was a genius, but then he realized she was grinning at him. A good grin. Not a making-fun-of-him kind of grin.

And he blushed, but grinned back.

“But uh… What about you? What do you do?”

“Well, nothing as impressive as all that…” She chuckled, taking another small swig of her beer. “...I’m a music teacher.”

He just finished putting a bite of food into his mouth, but he made a gesture with his hand to encourage her to keep going.

“I actually just moved to DC to take a new job as the choir director at Woodrow Wilson. I was in New York City before this, but needed to make a change, and Woodrow Wilson made the right offer.”

“Choir director? So you sing then, too?”

“Some, yes. But you know the old saying: ‘those who can’t do, teach.’”

He frowned at that, but couldn’t form a reply because his phone suddenly started buzzing and he jumped to dig it out of his pocket.

“I’m… Sorry. This is work. I need to take this.”

“Yeah, of course.”

He excused himself from the table and stepped closer to the door, sighing as he ended the call and returned his attentions to Delilah.

“I really hate to eat and run, but duty calls. But, this was lovely and thank you, so much, for letting me eat dinner with you. I um… I’d like to do this again sometime. If you’d like? I’ll make it up to you somehow…”

She’d risen to her feet as he’d gathered his bag from off the back of his chair, giving him another small smile as he started rambling a touch, but she nodded all the same.

“I’d like that.”

“Great, I’ll um… I’ll check in with you. Later. We’ll figure out the details.”

“Sounds good.”

He gave her another little awkward smile and a wave as he opened the door. “Have a good night.”

She nodded. “See you around, Spencer.”

And then he was out the door.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” -Thomas Merton