- *No Site Warnings Apply
Spencer shuffled through the airplane, go bag over his shoulder. The frigid air of the jetway him him, making him draw in a breath after so many hours in the warm plane.
“Have a merry christmas.” A voice spoke, making him glance over his shoulder. It was the man who’d sat beside him during the flight.
“Yeah, you too.”
“Hope your mystery turns out to be a good one.”
It made Spencer chuckle. “Me too.” He turned back, making his own way through customs and eventually down toward baggage claim. There, a suited man was standing with the others with a sign that read ‘Spencer Reid’. He walked up to the man. “I’m Spencer.”
The man smiled. “My name is Geoffrey Collins, Sir. Do you have any checked bags?”
“Uh, no. This is it.” He patted his bag.
“Good, good. Right this way then. I know the flight can be tiring, there is water ready in the car and we will make a stop on the way out of the city for coffee and perhaps breakfast?” Geoffrey ended in a question.
“That sounds good. The stuff on the plane was a bit…” He trailed off. The two men moved out of the airport before he spoke again. “You said out of the city.”
“Ah, I was warned you would want to ask questions.” Geoffrey chuckled. “I can tell you nothing, I’m afraid. Strictest orders.” He led Spencer to a very nice looking black sedan. “I will say, I have known the person who set this up for a number of years and when they came to me with the idea, well, I wasn’t convinced it was one of their better ones. Up until today, my part was limited to transcribing their words into the cards as they assured my you would know their identity immediately from their handwriting.”
“The cards were definitely a surprise. A good one though.” He thought back to the first card that had arrived the day after Christmas a year prior.
Spencer never really received Christmas cards in the mail except from his mother. Hers though had arrived promptly two weeks before the holiday, so the festive green envelope he pulled out of his box the day after Christmas was a surprise to him. More interesting was the international postmark, he wasn’t sure he knew anyone overseas. Not that would want to send him a card in the mail. Most people now sent texts or emails and the few cards he got were from work and those, they were hand delivered.
Locking his apartment door behind him, Spencer dumped the rest of his things so he could carefully open the envelope and pull the card, the front of which had a lovely picture of a quaint village coated in snow. Opening it, he saw that there was a handwritten message.
“Beauty like this should be shared with the person you love. I have fought for years to hide how I felt, but this needed to be shared.”
Stunned, he sank into his sagging couch. Someone loved him. Someone had loved him for years? He fought the urge to simply toss the card aside as a prank. WIth his mother slipping away, he was feeling more alone with each passing month.
“I wasn’t sure whether to believe or not really that someone has secretly loved me for years.”
“Oh, believe it. When I met our mutual friend, I at first thought their heart was broken for an entirely different reason. But over time, I discovered that their heart was for you.” Geoffrey sighed from the front seat. “They will hate me saying this, but it took many failed attempts when I was trying to push them to get on with life and then a less than healthy night of some of my best liquor before I learned of their feelings. The heartbreak, it ran very deep.” He guided the vehicle into the lot of a restaurant. “We will stop here to eat and get your coffee, then it’s an hour or so to where we are going.” He could see Spencer working something out in his head. “I see I should not have said the amount of time. I was warned of such slips.”
Spencer smiled. “Okay, I promise not to try and figure it out.” He followed Geoffrey out of the car once they were parked. “So, you know what was in each of the cards then?”
“Yes, I do.”
The cards turned up once a month through the first half of the year, each one offering a proclamation of denied love, some including apologies for taking so long. All of them had pictures of what appeared to be the same village on them in various states of winter bliss. It was the card in late July that began to change things.
“There is a festival in the village in December and while it is beautiful any evening, the final night, Christmas Eve, is the most magical. The villagers believe in magical set of circumstances surrounding Christmas Eve in their town square. I have included with this card a plane ticket and instructions on what to bring and to wear, everything else will be taken care of.” Inside the card had been another envelope which, sure enough, had the details of a plane ticket taking him into London and a detailed list of what to pack.
Spencer at first had sworn he wasn’t going, they had worked cases that had started this way, but as the remaining months wore on and the cards had started to increase in frequency, he relented that he was, in fact, flying to England.
“I had stressed to our friend that I didn’t believe someone as intelligent as they claimed you are would simply get onto a plane and fly to another country without more details.” Geoffrey commented later as they returned to the car. “Their faith in you doing so, it seemed foolish.”
“Can you tell me about the festival?”
“That I can. The village has been around in some form for thousands of years. The festival has been going on for about a hundred years now. They cose most of the roads through the town center and the shops and things open up later and sell special things just for the holiday. There are carolers in period costumes and everything gets decorated.”
“That sounds nice.”
“The place our friend has reserved for you, it’s right on the town square, so you will be able to just step outside and be a part of everything. Unfortunately, it does mean that when we arrive, we will have to park up a bit away and walk, our friend said you wouldn’t mind though.”
Spencer shook his head. “That’s fine.”
Just over an hour after leaving the airport, the car began working its way through a small village with narrow roads clearly made before cars. On the side of one cobblestone lane, Geoffrey pulled to a stop. “We walk from here. Would you like me to get your bag?”
“No, I’ve got it.” Spencer climber out and fell in step with the older man until, two blocks later, they arrived at what appeared to be the side door of an inn. “This is it?”
“The room reserved for you, it is accessed from this door, not the main entrance. Up the stairs on the left and then through the next door and you can rest until tonight.”
A yawn came unbidden. “That sounds good. I think my internal clock is still somewhere around four in the morning.” He took the keys and followed the instructions up after thanking Geoffrey for the ride. From the window in the bedroom, Spencer looked over the square. It was as beautiful as the pictures had been. Even if nothing else came of this trip, the peacefulness was definitely worth the journey.
Hours later, long after dark had fallen, Spencer bundled up in his coat and scarf and finally made his way out into the bustle of the festival. He’d been glancing down since people had begun milling about but no one had looked familiar. It was intriguing. He was sure that the person would be around if only to be sure he was there and would be coming down. But then, he thought to himself, perhaps Geoffrey had updated the person.
Stepping into the hum of activity, Spencer looked up, the sky was clear and he could see the stars even with all of the twinkling Christmas lights. From around a corner, a group of carolers appeared singing a traditional song.
Walking around the square, there were shops offering roasted chestnuts and mince pies. He smiled at the children, bundled in their coats and hats, attempting to build snowmen from the available snow. On the far side of the square, he stopped in front of one shop and watched as the keeper encouraged everyone forward to take a guess at the weight of the Christmas cake. Once the first group had dispersed, their wide guesses not coming close enough, Spencer stepped up to take a guess of his own.
“He cheats.” A voice warned from behind Spencer, amusement laced the words. “Don’t trust him, Miss Wheatley.”
The homely woman laughed, tossing her head back before replying with a grin. “You’re just sore because you always get it wrong.” She admonished fondly.
As she spoke, Spencer had turned around, he found himself at a loss for words as the man approached him.
“You came.” Aaron spoke again after a minute. “Geoffrey had me convinced I was crazy to think you would.”
Spencer opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. After a minute of his mouth flapping, Aaron chuckled.
“I have rendered you speechless.”
“Give his some cake, he’ll come around.” Miss Wheatley suggested with a laugh. “They always come ‘round with some cake.”
“I’m not sure who I thought was behind this but…” Spencer trailed off.
“I meant everything I said in those cards. I got here and realized why I was so upset to have had to leave.”
“I have been in love with you for as long as I can remember.” Around them, the carolers had stopped as music started from somewhere from the town center. Aaron stepped closer, reaching out finally to Spencer and pulling taking his hand. “I would love it if I could kiss you right now.”
Spencer nodded a moment before finding his voice. “Yea- yeah. Yes.” His breath stopped as Aaron’s lips pressed to his. It was as if time in the village had halted, after what felt like an eternity, it was something brushing his cheek that made him pull back. Another something had him looking up. “How….” There was mistletoe seemingly floating in mid air above their heads.
“It’s snowing.” Aaron stated. “It’s Christmas Eve, Spencer.”
“The story here is if you kiss under the mistletoe on Christmas Eve and it begins to snow, the person you are with is your true love.”
Spencer tipped his head back down, meeting Aaron’s eyes. “True love.”
Aaron gave a tiny nod, a small smile curling his lips.
“I love you too. I think I’ve been in love with you for years, it became why none of my relationships ever worked out, you were the ruler I measured them by. When you went away, I felt so lost and adrift for so long.”
“No.” He shook his head. “I dreamed from the first card that they were from you, I just, I never actually imagined it would be true.”
Aaron felt his breath catch. It was beginning to feel like a let down.
“Mom doesn’t know me anymore. My job at the Bureau is as good as over. My life… I have no roots anywhere. I’d never made them. I guess… I guess I never considered the importance of doing so until it was too late.” He glanced back at the woman with the Christmas cake and then around the square. “Your cards. I’ve been dreaming of this place for a year. It’s more beautiful than the pictures.”
“You could stay.” Aaron suggested with baited breath.
Spencer turned back to the woman again. “I think your cake weighs two and a half pounds.”
Miss Wheatley shook her head. “Grams I’m afraid, Hon.”
“Oh! Then eleven hundred and thirty-four.”
She smiled wide. “That’s about right.”
Behind Spencer, Aaron shook his head with a gentle smile. “He’s a game killer.”
Spencer turned back to him. “I would love to stay.”
It surprised Aaron to hear. “What?”
He through his arms around Aaron’s neck. “I would love to stay here with you. I love you, I will always love you.” It was his turn to press his lips to Aaron’s as the snow began to fall harder.
“What’s this?” A man called from the next booth over.
“True love, Deary.” Miss Wheatley called back. “Just true love.”
Profilers for Christmas is an anonymous crime drama Advent Calendar featuring both art and stories. Author/Artist reveal is on the 25th. Additional information about the challenge can be found here.