"But at the same time that the experience is pulling you apart, it's also bonding you. You have this joint venture! You both made this baby. And that's the thing I still can't get over." ~ Paul Reiser
To be honest, Dave doesn't really harbor any hope. He's had enough time to get used to the fact that he won't have kids, and although the knowledge still hurts, the pain has lost most of its edge. Spencer, on the other hand, is nothing but stubborn, and it takes a hundred fights (twelve, Spencer corrects him) for Dave to finally agree on trying. What Spencer doesn't seem to see, or at least seems to see as too inconsequential to pay heed, is that Dave has tried before - more than once, actually.
Moreover, Dave's ex-wives had been healthy on those previous attempts (and as ex-wife number two had so clearly put, it was his fucking problem, why did she have to suffer), while Spencer has been shooting up the wrong kind of hormones for years. Well, not wrong - simply not conductive to conception. And, while still the owner of a womb, Spencer is the least qualified of Dave's partners, past and present, to bear his (totally hypothetical and not happening at all) offspring.
Plus, Spencer is so goddamn thin.
So after weeks of watching Spencer deal with the side effects of getting off T, and knowing the young man still has to face equally endless weeks of fertility drugs, Dave finally decides enough is enough and puts his foot down. It is his child, and it is not happening. Yes, he would love to have his own bundle of joy, and yes, he is old-fashioned enough to render adoption a non-option (Spencer points oh so helpfully that he's not old-fashioned enough to get involved with a man, a trans-man at that, and his off-limits-by-Bureau-rules and many-many-years-younger co-worker to boot). But even an egotistical bastard like him has to stop being selfish once in a while, and thus he orders Spencer to leave the whole thing behind and go back to his patches.
What follows is, well … it isn't pretty. Spencer cycles from being bat-shit mad to completely ignoring him, to acting as if nothing had happened while in the company of others. It is an emotional carrousel, and it makes Dave doubt his decision - it was equally tiring with his previous wives, after all (not that he thinks of Spencer as a wife), and at least he looked forward to the possibility of a child on those occasions. This time, what lies in the future is devastation, both of their relationship and of the BAU.
And yes, Hotch and Morgan are going to have his head in a plate once they figure out what's going on. Which they are going to, soon, because while they've been discreet so far and have managed to keep their whole involvement a secret, sometimes Dave feels like there's a countdown somewhere, tickling to the end of the most fulfilling connection he's ever had.
So he does what he didn't before: he works to keep it alive. He pays attention to what Spencer says, and to what he doesn't. He even guiltily considers the possibility that Spencer wanted a child for his own reasons, and that he wasn't simply trying to make Dave happy. But, well, Spencer is many years younger. He still has a future of giving birth children, after they- if he and Dave ever-
Oh, who the hell is he fooling? He doesn't even want to think of the possibility of Spencer having children with someone else, of Dave not being around to watch him with a baby in his arms, his baby. Theirs, their baby. And that is how, as part of working for it, Dave agrees to research into the many aspects of adoption. It isn't easy, and he can't help the questions that raise their ugly head now and then, like whose child will they be raising (ours, Spencer says in fond exasperation, after Dave admits he's ashamed of his own doubts), and what if the biological parents decide they want their baby back (a question Spencer doesn't really has an answer to).
And when Spencer starts getting migraines, Dave feels both relieved and disenchanted. The first is easy to explain; he never wanted for Spencer to give up something as important as his own sense of self for him, even if the fact that he was willing to fills Dave with incredibly warm and ridiculously teenage-crush-like feelings. As for the disenchantment, well, it can be explained by still not getting used to Spencer changing the therapy delivery method from dermal to injection; which makes sense, given his skin sensitivity issues and the fact that he's not afraid of syringes anymore.
… which is a whole can of worms, and the reason why Dave feels something like regret every time he catches Spencer bravely facing another headache - because they are a known side-effect to testosterone, and it is Dave's fault that Spencer has to go through them, that his body has to get used to the hormone again.
(He isn't going to mourn the disappearance of the cloth menstrual pads from Spencer's drawer, though; they freaked Dave out more than he is willing to admit, to be honest.)
Life is nice for a while. They still fight, but Spencer seems to have mellowed out, which in itself happens to be more of a risk than his fits of anger were, when it comes to keeping their involvement a secret. And Dave is sure that Hotch, if not all of the team, has noticed their resident genius' sudden craving for human contact, no matter how discretely it manifests. Not that Dave is complaining, but as days go on, the light brush of a hand, the bump of shoulders as they walk, all the little things, they get too much and they make him wish to throw caution out of the window and let the world know - which, he has to remind himself, is dangerous, if not for his career, for Spencer's (and Hotch's).
Now and then, though, a case brings the subject of children to the front, a case such as the one they are facing currently. And Spencer … Spencer is as professional as ever, and he works his hardest while amazingly still remembering that human beings need more than coffee and sugary treats to survive. But every day, as night approaches, he steps aside and waits while JJ calls home, and then spends some time talking to Henry.
And it breaks Dave's heart a little, every single time.
By the seventh day, after the death toll has increased to five, they finally track down their UNSUB … and then she escapes. Or, as one police officer puts, Spencer lets her escape. Not that the fact that said police officer is right stops Dave from breaking his nose, if only to teach him to show more respect for FBI agents, no matter how badly they mess up.
"How is it that you are the one bodily assaulting people, and Reid's the one facing the ire of Hotch?" Morgan asks when Dave returns from the bathroom, his hand painfully throbbing but at least clean of blood.
"I don't think it should be called 'the ire of Hotch'," Prentiss adds, glancing at Dave before looking back at the other side of the parking lot. "It is more like 'the worry of Hotch', I'd say."
And Dave agrees, as Hotchner's face, while blazing in anger for the uninitiated, clearly shows worry to those who know him well enough.
"Any idea as to why Reid stepped aside?" Morgan asks Dave, as if he needed more confirmation that the team has realized something is going on between the two of them. Thankfully, JJ's hurried approach saves him from answering.
"She called nine-one-one," she says as soon as Hotch and Spencer are within earshot. There's no need to elaborate who she is. "She wants to negotiate, says she'll deliver the baby, unharmed, in her own terms."
"She asked for your boy here, specifically," the Sheriff, who's followed JJ, adds before she can continue. He doesn't look any of them in the eye, but again, there's no need to elaborate. Only one person can be labeled boy.
Spencer's statement is short, but hangs in the frigid night air with finality.
"Reid," Hotch starts to say, just to be interrupted by Spencer.
"You promised!" and his voice quivers. "I'll go back to the station, you just agreed!"
"That was before this development," Hotch declares, his this-is-an-order voice full on.
Spencer's mouth opens and closes a few times before any voice finally comes out, and when it does it is a painfully sounding "I won't do it."
"There's a baby's life in risk!" the Sheriff states in disbelief, stepping right inside Spencer's personal space. He takes a step back, disgust clear in his face, when Morgan all but snarls at him. "It's your call," the Sheriff says to Hotch, before going to talk to his men.
They spend a moment in silence, just a second or two. In the current circumstances, though, it feels like an eternity.
"Reid," Hotch says, managing to make it sound like a question, an order and a plea all rolled in one.
"Okay." Spencer's voice, Dave realizes with dread, is scared, but there's also fire and determination in the glare he directs Hotch. "I'll do it, but after this, I'll stay out of the field unless I say it is okay."
Hotch looks at him with his usual intensity, as if trying to read deep into his soul, before answering, "We'll talk about it later."
"No. Now." From his tone of voice, Dave knows that to Spencer this is life-or-death important, and from the raw pain in his eyes he knows that, if Hotch doesn't give his word and mean it, Spencer is capable of quitting the BAU immediately.
Hotch sees it too, as he narrows his eyes but doesn't hesitate to nod in agreement.
"Rossi, what the fuck," Morgan spats, but wastes no time before rushing after Spencer and pulling him in the direction of the surveillance van, at the same time ordering a random officer to go retrieve one of the FBI vests.
It never fails to make him jealous, the two of them.
"I'm going to call Garcia," Prentiss says, hitting the speed dial as she steps aside. "See if there's any security system she can hack into. Do we know where the exchange is taking place?" she asks JJ, and the two of them disappear, not really managing to make it look like they aren't purposefully leaving Dave and Hotch alone.
The silence between the two of them is heavy, but Dave will be damned if he breaks it. Hotch doesn't seem in a hurry either, but he is the one getting paid to be the boss and facing difficult tasks.
"Reid doesn't get scared easily," the man finally says, frowning as the words leave his mouth. "Or at least, he usually doesn't allow fear to negatively interfere with his job."
Dave nods, because while he couldn't agree more, he doesn't know what else he could add.
"Talk to him, Dave," Hotch says when it becomes obvious that Dave has nothing. "If he really doesn't want to do this, then I'm sure we'll find a way."
"We'll find a way," Hotch kind of growls.
Dave isn't fond of orders, but this time he is glad to follow them.
The situation is a mess from the beginning. Spencer is obviously not okay with the part he has to play, but he goes anyway. None of the team is happy to see him go, actually, but they all act professionally - except JJ, whose professionalism kind of slips when she delivers a solid punch in the face of an officer that makes fun of Spencer asking to talk to Henry before declaring himself ready. But that happens before the operation actually starts, so in Dave's book it totally doesn't count.
The UNSUB is, as Morgan helpfully explains, completely cuckoo … which means that, as painfully as it is to admit, Spencer is the perfect choice of a negotiator, even if she is so out of reality that he doesn't really have much to negotiate with. Still, he manages to make her give up the baby girl before they reach a stalemate. She doesn't allow the two of them to leave, which means that the child hasn't been feed for way too many hours, and the tired wails they can hear from the mic Spencer carries make clear she won't survive much longer.
It kind of explains why Spencer puts the baby in a crate and engages the woman into forgetting about the bomb and the snipers waiting outside, all of her considerable fear and anger focused on him long enough for the distraction to work. It doesn't explain why Spencer is a wreck when the team finally breaks in to find a barely alive baby and a slightly bruised yet mentally shattered FBI agent. But Dave, Dave knows. Between the nagging and still unvoiced feeling in the back of his mind, and the fact that, despite lost in some unknown nightmare, Spencer keeps protecting his midsection, Dave knows.
"I need a medic here!" he bellows, dropping to his knees and pushing Morgan, damn him, aside. "Spencer, honey, where did she kick you?" he asks, and he is crying, but he doesn't care.
"Man, what-" Morgan tries to complain, but Spencer's voice, fragile and weak, shuts him up.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have, I'm so sorry," again and again, while he clings to Dave's hand.
The paramedics arrive before further words are shared, and thus Dave is the one who has to explain. "He's pregnant," he says, and gives them two heartbeats to register what he's said. "Yes, he's a trans man, and if I ever find out that you didn't do your work because of some irrational prejudice, I'll shoot you," he adds with the sweetest, sickest smile he can muster, given the circumstances.
"I, eh, is it a risk pregnancy?" the woman asks, discretely glancing at Dave's gun. Her partner just shakes his head, shrugs and gets to work.
Dave doesn't really know, but he trusts Spencer to not having kept it from him, had it been the case. "Other than by the risk associated to our work, no," he says, smiling back when Spencer smiles tiredly at him, confirming his words.
"I am going to take off the vest, tell me if it hurts," the second paramedic is saying, and Spencer's focus changes to him. Dave watches while the two of them work him out of the protective gear, and breathes a little more easily when Spencer shows only a bit of discomfort.
"Sir?" the woman touches him briefly to gain his attention. "I asked, do you know how many weeks-"
"Sixteen," Spencer answers before she can finish her question, grimacing while allowing himself to be secured to the stretcher. "I'm on my sixteenth week."
Sixteen. That's about four months.
"You really need to put on some weight, sweetie," the female paramedic say, and they start pushing Spencer out of the building.
It is a worried "Dave?" from Hotch what brings him out of his stupor, and by the time he reaches the ambulance they are closing the doors.
"Hey," he says with a sheepish smile, jumping inside without asking for permission.
"Hey," Spencer smiles back, if a little nervously.
The paramedic pulls Dave out of the ambulance before they can say more, and he doesn't even gives Dave a chance to threaten him before starting to talk. "It'll be really helpful if you call your doctor, ask for his file to be sent to the hospital as soon as possible," he says, gripping Dave's arm hard to keep his attention. "I heard you're not from the city?"
Dave glares at him. He didn't have to shun him from Spencer's presence to say that. It is not as if they had to keep a secret that-
And then the siren goes live, and he understands. Nodding and grimacing at the grating sound, he jumps inside one more time, just long enough to quickly kiss Spencer and deliver some sweet nonsense before rushing back outside. JJ, looking a bit stunned but apparently having figured out the gist of it, gives him half a hug before letting herself into the ambulance, blessed be her soul.
Somehow, it doesn't surprises him that it is Morgan the one who drives him to the hospital. Hotch would have been the obvious choice, but given that they are basically closing a BAU case, he doesn't blame the man for staying behind.
It doesn't make the ride easier, though.
"So, you and Reid," Morgan says, but he doesn't sound surprised, and Dave just makes a noncommittal sound while making a show of being engrossed on the difficult task of making a call. As he expected, Spencer has remained a patient to the Infertility Clinic they visited so many months ago. The doctor seems genuinely worried to hear about Spencer's condition, and wastes no time to offer contacting the gynecologists (plural) that have been treating Spencer, and have them sent all relevant documents and even make a few calls to help things move smoothly.
So either everybody loves Spencer, or they are trying to bask in the glory related to making possible the birth of famous David Rossi and his out of the charts genius, three PhDs wielder, FBI Super Agent, and obvious BAU future legend of a partner's tikes.
Whatever, it works for Dave.
"So, a baby," Morgan says as soon as the call ends, and Dave smiles smugly at the jealousy he can perceive dripping from those three words.
Hotch shows up hours later, and by then Spencer is sleeping soundly, utterly tired after all the stress-released adrenaline has purged from his organism, and finally allowing to be reassured by the doctors' words. Dave knows that Hotch has been updated -JJ and Garcia teamed up to make sure everybody was kept up to date with the latest news- but still he's touched when the first words out of the man's mouth are ones of worry.
"How are they?" Hotch asks, and the knowledge that it is they, not he, makes Dave's soul overflow with so much love that really, it should be forbidden. It is so ridiculous, a man his age …
"Between the vest and Spencer's successful attempts to protect his belly, the baby is perfectly healthy," his hearth skips a bit when he says baby, he has to calm down or he's going to die of happiness. "Spencer has many bruises and a busted lip, and a hairline micro fissure on his right arm, but nothing that threatens his- their health. They are keeping him overnight, through, just to be sure."
Hotch nods, and for a moment Dave hopes he's going to be given the slip, but then Hotch calls Prentiss into the room and orders Dave, without actually needing to utter a word, to follow him out of the hospital.
And wow, but dawn is happening already, and how many hours did Dave miss?
Hotch opens with a "You didn't know" that would have sounded like an accusation from anybody else, but is both carefully inquiring and unassuming coming from him.
It makes Dave feel guilty as hell because yes, he didn't know, and it is his goddamn fault.
And if he says "We'd been visiting an Assisted Reproduction specialist, so yes, I kind of knew," is only because it is the truth, not because he doesn't want to look too much like an ass in front of Hotch. Hotch's surprise is unexpected, though. "What," Dave snarls rather exasperatedly and quite a bit worried, if he's honest with himself. Hotch isn't one to be easily surprised, after all.
"It seems I made a wrong assumption," the man says, hesitancy as strange on him as surprise was. "I get you've been together for longer than two months?"
"Hotch, the baby is four months old." Dave is not sure what to make of Hotch's comment, but he sure as hell doesn't like what he can read on it.
But Hotch is surprised again, and more than a little apologetic, and it makes Dave realize that JJ and Garcia didn't share that particular speck of information with their boss. Hell, for all he knows none on the team is aware of how long Spencer has been hiding his state from (him) them. He hasn't told them, and the doctors have no reason to tell them, which only leaves Spencer himself. And apparently, he hasn't-
"He's too damn thin."
Dave can't help but chuckle at that, and share a grin to let Hotch know that his accidental faux-pass has been forgotten.
"So I guess everybody noticed Spencer getting quite … affectionate these last weeks," Dave says, doing some simple mental math.
"Hormones?" Hotch asks, rubbing the back of his neck, just a tad uncomfortable.
And of course, hormones. They quite explain a lot of Spencer's changing moods, which Dave had correctly noticed while at the same time being ridiculously wrong as to the reason for them.
God, he is such a fucking idiot.
"Two years, seven months," he eventually says, dismissing Hotch's clear (yet already hard to see) worry. "We've been together for two years, seven months and I don't know how many days, but that idiot of a genius in there can surely tell you down to the second how long it has been."
"And seven months. Actually, it was in our second anniversary that he asked what I wanted, and what did I say? A child, of course!" He knows he's sounding a little hysterical, but who wouldn't, under the circumstances. "It was a joke, for Christ's sake!"
"Rossi." The word is sharp and cold, and the granite-like face Hotch is sporting makes it difficult for Dave to look away. "Do you want this child?"
The question is so unexpected and the delivery so blood-chilling that for a moment Dave finds difficult to think, much less to answer.
When he finally does, his voice is even more frigid and scathing than Hotch's had been. "Two words, Hotcher: Assisted Reproduction. You don't subject yourself and your loved ones to ART without good reason."
And then Hotch is confused again, which by the simple fact of being a visible emotion is startling, but still better than anger.
"Because I'm an idiot!" There, he's admitted it. "Because I got scared on Spencer's behalf and decided I could take decisions for the two of us without paying attention to what he thought. But Spencer, he's so - so -"
"Stubborn?" Hotch asks with a quirk of a smile that makes Dave snort as much as the fact that yes, Spencer is stubborn as hell.
"That, he is," he admits, allowing a small pause before asking what he's wanted to know for a while. "Did you know, about Spencer?" He knows the correct words, he's done research and he's talked to Spencer about the subject. He is, nonetheless, unsure as to how much Hotch knows.
He doesn't need to ask, through.
"It is on his file," Hotch says, and the knowledge makes Dave angry on Spencer's behalf. Despite the circumstances, he keeps forgetting that Spencer wasn't born a man, and every time he's faced with the world's insensibility towards his circumstances he feels like punching someone.
"Who else knows?" he asks instead, as only Hotch is around, and hitting him is not an option. A name comes to his mind and he blurts it out immediately, as if mentally burned by the possibility. "Jason?" Because even if Jason Gideon was Spencer's SAC for only a couple cases before Boston happened, to read one particular line in a file doesn't take that long.
"Actually," Hotch starts to say but then hesitates, and Dave knows that, whatever it is, it has to be bad and he doesn't want to know.
"Tell me," he snappishly asks from Hotch, because when it comes to Spencer, his beloved and future father of their child, he can't allow being a coward.
"The Admission Board asked for a complete psychological examination of Reid as part of his admission process to the Academy. Jason argued against it but was outnumbered."
The bastards. The misogynist, cis-sexist, absolute bastards. Dave knows psych tests are standard requirement for all agents present and future, but Hotch's reluctance to share the information tells him just how complete and disturbingly invasive the procedure had been for Spencer.
He shakes his head, trying to get rid of the anger. He should be feeling nothing but joy, he's finally going to be a father, after all.
"Morgan knows, too."
It takes Dave a moment to turn gears from his daydreaming to make any sense of Hotch's words, and when he does, it is not anger or joy what courses through his veins. It explains, in an absolutely perverse way, why Morgan flirts with Spencer so much. It disgusts him that the other agent might think of Spencer as a girl, and therefore hunting prey, a notion as insulting as-
"Wait. He didn't learn it when he became Team Leader, did he?" It would make sense, because stepping in Hotch's place gave Morgan access to everybody's files - but he's been calling Spencer Pretty Boy, and tousling his hair, and suggestively winking at him for far longer.
"Morgan has always been the one accompanying Reid to the hospital, way before your return. It makes sense he knows his medical history. Reid certainly doesn't seem to mind."
There's a ghost of a smile in the corner of Hotch's lips that tells Dave he's being made fun of. Apparently, after two years and a half of not seeing what was happening under his nose, Hotch has suddenly developed the ability to read him as an open book.
He huffs and turns around, unwilling to take another blow to his ego. He's going to sit in Spencer's room and watch him sleep, and dig out the ultrasound prints the technician gave them, and manly cry tears of happiness over the alien-like but absolutely beautiful images of their baby. Tomorrow all the shit is still going to be around for them to deal; he can let it go for a while.
"You are being absolutely delusional," Spencer says while Dave helps him get dressed. Is way past noon, the second battery of tests has shown no change that's not for the best, and he can't help gloating at everything that's fine in the world.
"You're blind, sugar," he says, pulling Spencer closer so he can button up the shirt more comfortably, and at the same time discretely brush his fingers over the almost flat stomach. Spencer really needs to gain some weight. "Morgan has been trying to get into your pants for years. Even Hotch sees it."
"De-lu-sional," Spencer repeats, stressing every syllable with a tap on Dave's chest. "And what's the matter with the nicknames? Honey, sweetie, sugar? My teeth are getting rotten, and I'm not the one delivering them."
Dave rolls his eyes and doesn't answer, embarrassed and unable to explain his change of behavior. He had clearly stated at the beginning of their relationship that he wasn't one for pet names. Now, though, Spencer doesn't seem enough to express all he feels.
He hopes a hug is enough, even if it is a careful one, unwilling as he is to cause further damage. "I love you, you know that, right?"
Spencer doesn't answer, doesn't look up when Dave lets go. Tears are building up in his eyes and there's absolute devastation on his face, which he's valiantly trying to hide. He's something of a master at misdirection, a fact Dave absolutely hates, but he currently seems unable to reign in his feelings.
"Ready to go, Pretty Boy?" Sometimes, Dave wishes the people around him weren't trained in their specific field. As it is, it only takes a second for Morgan to notice Spencer's state, and another to turn a thunderous glare on Dave as Spencer rushes out of the room. "Rossi, what -"
"Not now," Dave tries to sidestep him, and end up slammed against the corridor's wall, Morgan's hand around his neck. He isn't being chocked, and the crash was barely strong enough to knock some air out of his lungs. Still, the simmering fury in Morgan's eyes clearly tells that he's willing to unleash it as soon as Dave gives him reason.
"What the hell did you do, Rossi?"
The question is, in fact, one Dave has no answer for. "I told him I love him," he says, because it is part of the truth, even if he still doesn't understand how, or why. And apparently it confuses Morgan too, as he owlishly blinks and steps back, letting him go.
Dave runs as soon as he's set free. He has no idea what he's going to say when he catches up with Spencer, but he sure as hell is going to figure it out.
"You are a mother." JJ raises an eyebrow at him, slightly mocking yet waiting for him to elaborate. "I think I might have made a terrible mistake."
The fury in JJ's eyes tells him she's reaching a completely wrong conclusion, which hurts more than it should. Does anybody trust him?
"A mistake?" she asks, her voice clipped.
"I told Spencer I didn't want a baby. I told him to stop."
"Stop?" The look in JJ's face is absolutely scandalized, and he's thankful they are in her office, the door closed. "Rossi, he's in his second trimester, he can't stop."
"No, I mean. He was two weeks pregnant, at most."
He watches JJ's thoughts shift and rearrange, anger weakening but not disappearing. "Why?" she asks, and he knows she's trying to give him a chance, to keep an open mind. She is a mother, though, as he has already pointed out. He knows she can't help seeing it all under the light of her own experiences.
"Because I could see how much it was costing him, and previous experiences told me it would be for nothing," he states truthfully. He's been repeating the same words in his mind, again and again. Every time, though, they sound more feeble and pathetic.
He looks at her and tries to will his mind into some semblance of operational. "I keep forgetting you kids haven't been around for long." She smiles at his unwilling admittance of his age. "It was not a secret, back in the day, that we tried assisted reproduction, my wife and I. Wives," he corrects ruefully, if tiredly.
There's a small grin in JJ's lips, but empathy makes sure it doesn't last. "And it didn't work, those other times."
The memories hurt, even if time has passed, even knowing Spencer is finally making his dream come true. "It never caught, not a single time. But we dared to hope, every time, just to have our hopes crushed."
"But this time it did," she says, and reaches to touch his hand. She's serious, though, and it makes him nervous. "Then why, Rossi? Why, after all you had gone through, after all he had gone through, did you want to terminate?"
Dave looks at her, too stunned by the words coming from her mouth.
"Oh god Rossi, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean, I though-." He's peripherally aware that he's witnessing a rare scene, she's never one to fight with spoken worlds. Nonetheless he's numb, and her hurried mumbles just confuse him further. "You didn't know," she finally says after pausing and taking a deep breath.
The phrase is clear enough to seep into his brain, and he shakes his head.
She squeezes his hand, apologies clear in her eyes even if they've stopped falling from her lips. He squeezes back despite the hurt he still feels. At least he knows she's firmly on Spencer's side, and he's glad to have evidence that she'll support his partner, even against him.
"Did he know?"
He grimaces, looks away. That right there, that's the part that pains him most about the whole mess.
"He'd just discovered it, that day."
JJ's wince is too much and he has to excuse himself. He's not gotten the answers he came looking for, hasn't gotten the chance to ask the questions, even. But this is the first time he's admitted this, the first time he has shared this knowledge since Spencer, worn and shaken and eyes red-rimmed, told him. About his truly horrendous timing. About what his words did to Spencer's insecurities. About how he wondered every day, the first three months, whether he should tell Dave, or go back to the clinic and ask for a termination.
In his entire career as an FBI agent, Dave has never lost his lunch, no matter how grisly the scene. After Spencer's pathetically small voice delivered the bomb, through, he had had to rush to the bathroom. He still can taste vile in his mouth every time he remembers.
God, he's such an idiot.
There are two perfectly usable guestrooms in the house they share, each one bigger than Spencer's bedroom had been in his old apartment. They are tastefully decorated and each has its own bathroom, its own state-of-art TV set, its own mini fridge. Most important, they have perfectly usable beds, twin mattresses instead of a king-sized one as in the master room, but they are as comfortable as they get.
So why, oh why, is he tossing and turning in the living room's couch?
Because you're an idiot, his brain helpfully provides. Not that it has let him forget. So yes, he deserves to suffer, but rancid Catholic family or not, he's still unsure about self-flagellation.
"I almost got our child killed," Spencer's voice sounds out of nowhere, almost startling Dave into an early death. Just how the hell did his partner snuck on him so easily, he wonders, craning his neck to find Spencer standing a few paces away from the couch, looking forlorn and pitiful and way too small for a man of his stature.
And there's no answer Dave can give, because Spencer is not one to appreciate being told white lies and half truths, and because they both know that Hotch wouldn't have sent him to meet the UNSUB had he know about the pregnancy. But Dave is also aware that the only reason Spencer didn't tell Hotch in that moment was because he wanted Dave to know first, not to be told along the rest of the team. And the bittersweet knowledge that, in a completely twisted manner, Spencer managed right that makes Dave lung for him and crush him in a breathtaking embrace.
Oh god, how much he loves this man.
"If I had to choose between you and our unborn child, I would choose you," Dave admits later, after they have shared a warm and relaxing bath and they are back in bed, their bed. The lights are off, but the moon is full, and enough of its silver white beams leak through the open curtains to allow him to see the sudden stiffness in Spencer's back.
"I would never want you to choose," Spencer says in a tiny voice, not turning around. Dave drops a kiss on his right shoulder and spoons behind him, careful not to touch the still flat midsection, wanting to make clear that, despite the baby, they're first and foremost David and Spencer, and they will always be.
"I know. But I do love you, baby or not."
And that, Dave knows, is the crux of the problem. Spencer is aware that, to most, his intellect is what makes him desirable. He is wary of compliments, because past experiences have taught him that they almost always mean that those behind them are trying to manipulate him for their own selfish motives. He has to form personal, emotional attachment before believing any praise given. And, as Dave and the rest of the team know, once emotions are involved, Spencer invests himself fully, he gives himself completely.
Which is why Dave has to make him understand that I love you in their current circumstances means exactly that, and not the I only love you because you're carrying my child Spencer seems to be hearing.
The shine in Spencer's eyes and the skittish smile in his lips when he turns so they are chest to chest make him know that the message is received. Good. Now he only has to repeat it a million times until Spencer truly believes it.
"I can't believe I'm being this selfish," Spencer mumbles, his face now buried in Dave's neck. "How can I be jealous of my own child?"
"Well, I'm an extremely desirable man."
As expected, he gets hit for his honesty.
"I can't believe you," Tony says. It is 3 in the morning but Dave has been waiting for the call, so he bends down to kiss Spencer and tell him to go back to sleep. By the time he's out of their bedroom Tony is still in the other side of the line. Angry, yes, but a Rossi and thus stubborn enough to wait indefinitely for the chance to yell at his baby brother.
"Mom called you."
"Of course Mom called me, she's absolutely devastated!" And of course she is. For some reason Dave hasn't been able to explain, he's always been able to be around to celebrate his mother's birthday. Over the years he's seen fellow agents struggle with guilt whenever a case conflicts with a celebration of a beloved one. He's had his share, too, of missed Christmas and wedding anniversaries, but his mother's birthdays? Never.
He'd hoped she would understand if he missed it this one time.
"I really can't fly this year, Tony," he says wearily, because this is another fight he has had with himself. He doesn't want to show up alone when the last two years Spencer has been by his side, and he doesn't want to explain that Spencer refuses to accompany him in fear anybody would know. It doesn't matter that, at five months, the baby bulge is still barely visible when he's fully dressed, even if Spencer dutifully chocks down the doctor prescribed protein shakes three times a day.
It is not that Spencer cares about what others might think. He has, nonetheless, developed some strong bonds with certain members of Dave's family, his parents mostly, and he's utterly terrified they are going to shun him once they realize he's even more of a freak than they originally believed.
His words, not Dave's.
Surprisingly, instead of the onslaught of epithets he's expecting from his brother, all Dave meets is silence, followed by a defeated sigh.
This is not good, his gut tells him, and he agrees.
"Davey," Tony says, and Dave can hear his brother's voice trembling. "Mom is sick."
And that is all that needs to be said.
In the end he makes Spencer fly with him. He doesn't like the idea of leaving his pregnant partner alone in New York, but their prenatal nutritionist has arranged for him to meet a world-wide famed physician that leads the field of FTM pregnancy, however restricted that field might be. And, as much as Dave would like to accompany Spencer, they've been told that he would have to stay on the waiting room most of the time, so…
So it makes sense that he goes to a party. That's what he came to NYC for, after all, and he needs to do something before Spencer calls him back. Not that he's looking forward to learning what the family has been hiding about his mother's health, and for how long, but locking himself in their hotel room is not going to help in either situation.
Three and a half hours later he's managed to alienate everybody, including Aunt Anna, who's a nun and the only Rossi he'd never pissed off before. But he's not really in the mood to be social, especially not after being told that his mother has been refusing to see another doctor for a second opinion. "Dr. Mancini is almost ninety years old, for God's sake!"
"You know your mother," his father replies, patting his shoulder before entering the house. Dave is still surprised by how much older he looks. Yes, his mother is worn and visibly sick, and he had prepared himself for that. But his father? He looks ancient.
"I'm not saying you don't care about Mom," Tony says, joining him in the backyard with a glass of wine for each of them, "but you're being particularly harsh with her, given the circumstances."
And that, that's what been eating at Dave. Everybody is treating her with kid gloves, watching her give up without interference from her beloved ones, refusing to make her realize she still can fight, there still are options.
"Yes, well, maybe I'd like for my daughter to have a grandmother." The words are out of his mouth before he has the chance to censor himself. Moreover, he sees his brother's face move from sarcasm to enlightenment before he even thinks to make it all a joke.
"Ah, so that's why he dumped you."
Oh but that really, really is a low blow.
"What the hell are you talking about," he grits through his teeth, even if he knows exactly what Tony means. In his brother's favor, at least he doesn't immediately blurt out what is in his mind.
"I hope the two of you are adopting, or getting a surrogate," he eventually says, and when Dave doesn't immediately answer, his face darkens with unexpected anger. "Shit, David. Tell me you didn't impregnate some groupie and are forcing the baby onto your boy."
It really keeps getting better and better, doesn't it? "First of," Dave retorts, leaving the glass in the banister to avoid throwing it to his brother's head, "Spencer is an adult, not a boy."
There's enough venom in Tony's "Did he turn thirty already?" to make him see red.
"Second," he says, seething, just to be interrupted by his cell phone. The call, he quickly discovers, is a wrong number, and the young woman is almost crying by the time he is finished with her.
"I'm waiting for an important call," he says when he is done, carefully putting the phone on his pocket where he can't obsessively check the screen.
"So you kept repeating." There's worry on Tony's face now, which is unexpected until he asks his next question. "Is Spencer okay?"
And he wants to say yes, but it's been four hours, and he's dying of worry.
"He's in the hospital right now."
"Wait, here in New York?"
Dave can see him add two plus two and reach the wrong conclusion, and despite the circumstances he can't help feeling guilty. Because Spencer is almost the same age of his oldest son, Tony has always been rather protective of him. But then, while Paulie never went into politics like his old man, Spencer has proven time and again that he can hold his ground on whatever subject they discuss. Tony treats him like an equal, even asking for his professional opinion now and then. Tony has even threatened to bodily harm Dave on Spencer's behalf, when in the past he could never stand any of his wives.
Later, Dave will say Tony tricked him. In truth, he tells him all because he knows that, despite Spencer's fears, to Tony and to their parents Spencer is family. And to a Rossi, family is everything.
~TBC, I hope ...