Requested: The Reader is a photographer, and when she sees how insecure Reid gets around the models she shoots, she sets up a little photoshoot just for him.
The dark corner of the studio is a refuge for him. Far enough that the blinding flash of the camera lights are a little dimmer, but close enough to hear the faint echo of her voice as she directs her subjects.
“Now run your hand through your hair and tilt your chin down a little bit more,” she says to the man in front of her. “No, a little more this way.” She leaves the camera to position him herself, her hands moving his. “Like this. There you go. You’re perfect.”
Reid tries to distract himself. Absent-mindedly he opens up his phone and scrolls through the photo album. There isn’t much he takes pictures of. Grocery lists or case information are quickly deleted, and while he sometimes feels moved enough to snap a photograph of a sunset or a flowers in the park – airplane window views have long since lost their appeal - they’re overwhelmingly photos of her. The two of them together. Selfies of Y/N in the afternoon, when he’s left his phone behind and she’s decided to make funny faces on it. Pictures here and there that he’s taken when she’s not paying attention; making coffee or lost in a book or laughing at something. A few of her in the morning, fast asleep in his bed. There are photos of them together out at restaurants, plays, posing in silly ways in front of museum exhibits. He flips through months worth of photos in the hopes that they’ll keep him from focusing on the shoot happening at the moment.
It’s irrational, and he knows it, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling what he feels, watching Y/N spend hours with gorgeous models. They’re all so beautiful, practically flawless. The man posing before her now could practically be Photoshopped. It’s her job to make them look beautiful, to see them in a way that brings out their potential. Still, he can’t help but worry that with so much of her attention on these perfect people, she’ll someday realize there’s something wrong with him.
Despite his best efforts, it’s still difficult to tune out her voice. It makes sense, psychologically the mind has the lowest attention threshold for that which is most important. One’s own name, warnings like “fire!”, and other relevant information. She is a flame, and he is moth, drawn towards her light and her warmth, unable to turn away.
A few other male models filter in and out, and eventually she bids them farewell, with a few hugs – one even exchanges cheek-kisses with her before parting. She then strolls over to join him in the corner, falling into a chair beside him.
“Goodness, those boys wear me out,” she says. “They’re beautiful, but they need a lot of direction.”
“Mmhmm,” is all he offers.
“You alright?” she asks.
“Yeah. Fine. You just seem awful friendly with them.” The instant he speaks, he wishes he could take it back.
She raises her eyebrows. “Spencer, are you… jealous?” Almost incredulous at his words. “You know it’s strictly professional.”
He sighs, crossing his arms. “I know. And it’s not that I think you’d ever cheat on me or anything, it’s just that, well, they’re all so perfect. You spend all day with these handsome men, and I can’t help but feel inferior. I’m just afraid that one day you’ll realize you’re making a mistake with me.”
“That’s never going to happen,” she says softly. “You’re the most intelligent, kind, and wonderful person I’ve ever met. Sure, those guys are conventionally attractive, but some of them have about as much substance as water vapor. Others think they’re so great you should automatically feel grateful for their presence.”
Reid has always been humble, partly because he never felt he had anything worth bragging about. Except maybe her. From the moment he met her, he hasn’t been able to shut up about her. Rambling to Morgan, asking JJ for advice, mentioning her on cases. As though there is a need for her name to always be in his mouth, as though she’ll disappear if he doesn’t keep talking about her.
“I know. But your job is to work with models. And Y/N, you’re so pretty. I just don’t want you to feel embarrassed by me.”
She laughs, but it’s a gentle sound, and she gently caresses his cheek. “My dear, you don’t realize how absolutely stunning you are, do you? I could spend hours staring into your eyes. Your smile is immaculate. And don’t even get me started on that jawline. You’re absolutely beautiful. Honestly, you could be a model if you wanted to.” At that, her eyes light up with a familiar spark of mischief. “You know what? Maybe you should model!”
Before he can ask for clarification, she’s already dancing around the studio, shuffling around her equipment and fiddling with props. “I want you to model for me!” she tells him. “It’s easy. Just stand in front of the backdrop, then do what I say.”
Hesitant, he complies, having learned long ago not to question her when her artistic vision takes over. He stands awkwardly on the set, shifting his weight from foot to foot, while she stares right through him, her eyes combing over every inch of him. Then she steps towards him and instructs him to stay still, loosening his tie and undoing the top two buttons of his shirt.
“There we go. You need to relax, that’s all. You’ve got such a good face, but you’re stiff as a board.” With gentle, steady hands, she moves him this way and that, maneuvering his limbs into various positions and running back to the camera to snap quick shots. All the while she’s shouting encouragements, telling him how great he looks, and slowly his uncertainty melts away.
“Smile,” she urges him. When he comes up with a frog-like grimace, she begins reciting lame puns and telling him funny stories to make it more genuine. “Remember the night you walked me home from dinner? And I made the world’s lamest Carl Sagan joke? You laughed and laughed and if I wasn’t already head over heels, that smile of yours sealed the deal. I don’t know why, but I just knew I had to kiss you right then, with that beautiful grin on your face.”
At the memory, he can’t help but smile now, an echo of a past gesture. Of course he remembers. It was the very first time they’d kissed, and even now with several months and countless kisses between them, he remembers that first sensation of her lips against his, and how very perfect it felt.
A flash goes off. She’s grinning now too, happy with the shot. “That’s a good one. God, that smile of yours is just dazzling. I am henceforth committing myself to making you do that more often.”
“And how exactly do you intend to do that?” he teases. She smirks at him, a challenge, and fiddles with her camera for a few seconds before strolling over to join him on the tiny set.
“With anything and everything,” she answers. “But this seems like a good place to start.” With the same gentle direction she uses with the models, she guides him back onto the prop armchair, pushing him down before climbing into his lap. Turning his cheek, she runs the tips of her fingers over his face. A flash goes off, and he looks towards the camera, startled, but she redirects his attention back to her. “Don’t worry about that. Just relax.”
Her skin is against his and she’s staring up at him through her eyelashes and he’s finding it hard to remember what about those other guys bothered him so much. So he does as she says and lets her distract him. Her hand on his chest, around his waist, running through his hair. At some point, she leans in and brushes her lips against his. It’s a soft gesture he returns with intense passion, the sound and flash of the camera fading away.
Briefly, she pulls away, pushing his hair away from his face. “I swear, you’re a work of art,” she murmurs. “How can you not see that?” In response, he kisses her again, pulling her closer. Because with her, he finds that just maybe he can start to believe that.
Later when they sit down together, she shows him the results. And he decides that maybe she’s the magician in the relationship, because somehow her camera has transformed him into a version of himself he actually doesn’t hate. For once, he doesn’t mind the way he looks. His favorites though, are the images she’s captured of the two of them. The way she looks at him, that’s magic.
She uploads several of her shots onto his phone, and he instantly makes his favorite of the two of them his background. And each time he sees it, he’s reminded exactly what kind of man he wants to be. It doesn’t matter much if he’s a cover model or a bodybuilder. The person he is when he’s with her though - that’s who he wants to be.
That’s what he wants to capture. A snapshot of the way he makes her feel. And he never intends to let her go.
She’s the artist. He’s her muse. But what they are is a masterpiece.