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Gideon shifted uncomfortably in his seat, the black robes and hat feeling oppressive over his suit. Not for the first time since the ceremony began, he had to forcefully remind himself why he was there despite years of telling himself that he wouldn't do exactly what he was about to do.

Every year since Reeves Industries' IPO, he had been asked by the MIT Commencement Committee to be the keynote speaker at graduation. And every year, Gideon had told them in no uncertain terms that it was never going to happen. This year, though, he'd been unable to say no. Because this year, sitting out among the graduating students, was Mateo. 20 years old, spectacular grades, with a tenaciousness that rivalled his mother's, and a double degree in Mathematics with Computer Science and Materials Engineering.

How could Gideon say no, when it had been Mateo asking?

As he waited for the Dean of Students to finish welcoming everyone and introduce him, Gideon found himself thinking back to his own graduation.

He'd barely taken his seat and already he was regretting his decision to go through graduation. The cap and gown was uncomfortable over his t-shirt and jeans, the plastic folding chair was already starting to hurt his butt, and it was hotter than hell with so many people filling the room.

Initially, he'd been looking forward to the ceremony. With no family who would celebrate the achievement of graduating MIT at 20, he'd hoped the commencement would fulfill some of his desire to at least be recognized as accomplishing something. As he'd entered with the rest of the graduates though, any anticipation he'd felt had gone away as he listened to family and friends cheering as their grad entered. Knowing that none of the noise that echoed through the room was anything to do with him hurt, way more than he could have expected.

As the Dean of Students and then the Commencement Speaker droned on, Gideon contemplated just getting up and walking out. Even as his brain considered exit routes and best timing, he knew he couldn't bring himself to do it. Maybe no one else gave a damn that Gideon Reeves was graduating, but he did and he couldn't find it in himself to leave and pretend like he wasn't.

As students began to be called on stage, he prepared himself as best as possible for the silence from the crowd that would accompany his name and his receipt of his degree. As he filed closer to the stage, the painful knot that had formed in his stomach tightened.

"Ravenswood, Kathryn." Cheers. A large group on the right side of the hall.

"Rawbusan, Matthew." Clapping. A few whistles. Small, but loud, from the back of the room.

"Raza, Felix." Two groups. One loud, rowdy, young at the back. One smaller, clapping, from the left.

"Redmond, Alison." Clapping and yells of 'Ali' from the front left. They must have arrived early.

As he watched the girl in front of him cross the stage, waving enthusiastically towards her cheering section before shaking the Dean's hand, Gideon took a deep breath. 'Let's get this over with.'

"Reeves, Gideon."

He had just started up the stairs when the noise hit him. Several small groups of sound from different points in the room. Clapping from somewhere behind him. His name yelled from the back of the hall. A loud whistle from the left hand bleachers in front of him. He stumbled slightly on the second stair, surprise washing over him. Rebalancing he forced his focus on getting up the stairs and over to the Dean without making an ass out of himself, all the while trying to locate the sources.

He had just reached the Dean when he found the first group. Lauren Fitch and several of her girlfriends, whistling and shouting as he made his walk. He grinned in their direction as he shook the Dean's hand. He was most of the way to the second set of stairs degree portfolio in hand (empty of course; it would be a couple of weeks before they received their official ones) when he found the yellers from the back of the room. Sully and a few of the guys from the Robotics club. He waved as he stepped down. And the third? As he walked down the aisle back to his seat he found them. His mentor from his internship at Boeing the previous summer and a half dozen members of the research team he'd worked with there.

Sully had called them together, he found out later. Had known, as Gideon should have expected, that there would be no family in the stands for the young genius and had reached out to make sure someone was there to congratulate him. The guys from Boeing had bought him dinner and when he'd gotten back to his apartment, Sully and Lauren had been waiting - with far more people than he was friends with - and they'd partied until dawn.

Gideon shook himself out of the memory as the Dean of Students started to wrap his welcome speech. Tugging at his robes, he waited to be introduced.

He was profoundly glad that Mateo's graduation experience would be so different from his own. Sure, his had ended up okay, but Mateo would have none of the anxiety or fear that he himself had felt before stepping on that stage. The kid knew that his own private cheering section was in attendance. They'd made themselves very known when he'd come in with the Processional: his mom and grandmother, his dad, a half dozen sophomore and junior friends, and a dozen others from Reeves Industries and the 13th who Gideon had flown out to Boston for the occasion.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce this year's Commencement Speaker," the Dean's voice rang through the sound system and he forced himself to sit up straighter, "MIT alumnus, Gideon Reeves."

As he walked to the front of the stage, he couldn't help the wide smile that broke across his face. Because amongst the clapping from the graduates and their families, he could make out the loud cheers and whistles coming from the stands where Mateo's cheering section was located. It was nice to know that they were cheering him on as well.

Taking his place at the podium, he was glad to find his notes for his speech exactly where he had placed them before the ceremony began. Ada had tried to convince him to write out a speech in it's entirety, but he'd never been good at sticking to a script, it made him feel anxious - the expectation of a fully written and edited speech - in a way that winging it through a set of notes didn't. As the crowd died down, he took a few seconds to look over the first part of those notes. And then he spoke.

"Uh, hi, everyone." He grinned at the smattering of laughter that opening brought from the crowd, "First off, thanks to all of the friends and family who came out today to support and celebrate the achievement of the students sitting in front of me, the MIT Undergraduate Class of 2027."

He paused momentarily as the crowd broke out in loud cheers. As they settled back down he continued.

"So, most, if not all of you have heard of me. You know Reeves Industries or own Reeves Tech. And some of you-" He gestured to the graduates in front of him, "Have probably applied or considered applying for jobs with us. Good." He took a breath, "But what most of you probably don't know is that I am not very good at the inspirational speeches or the wall poster quotes. So I hope you'll all forgive me for using the words of others instead." He looked down at his notes briefly, finding his place, and then back up, " 'The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.' Those words were spoken by author Neil Gaiman to a graduating class in 2012. 15 years ago. But they are just as true today as they were then. Starting today, all of you will join the real world..."

Amongst his fellow graduates in their small sea of black robes and caps, Mateo listened to Gideon speak. Over the past decade he'd heard him make plenty of speeches and give tons of advice. But unlike the rest of his classmates, Mateo had also heard him swear like a sailor, comfort a friend, and have a few Eureka moments. Now, listening to him stress the value of forging one's own path in life, the young man remembered the first time he'd met Gideon Reeves.

He had been in the hall bathroom, washing his hands before dinner the first time he heard Gideon's voice. It had raised his curiosity - they rarely ever had anyone over who wasn't family and no one had told him they were having visitors. He'd dried his hands quickly before darting out into the hall to find out who had come for dinner.

His mom had quickly introduced the tall man as her new boss, Gideon, and it had taken a lot of effort not to laugh at the strange name. Instead he smiled, shook the man's hand and headed to the table. He had taken little notice of the stranger as they ate dinner beyond thinking that adults had boring conversations and that he hoped he'd be able to get down from the table as soon as they were done eating despite the visitor. And when his mother had allowed him to excuse himself, he gave the man a small smile and then promptly forgot about him while he played with his cars and motorcycles.

When Gideon had asked him about school and told him about engineers, he'd felt very grown up to be telling the man in a suit about the track he'd built - which his ten year old brain supposed made him an engineer, since that's what Gideon had said engineers did: build things - and about how the motorcycles were better. He'd felt even more like one when he'd been handed a $100 dollar bill and instructed to go to college anywhere but Caltech. And the conversation, brief as it had been had stuck with him far longer than passing conversations with most adults did.

Laughter from the students around him drew Mateo out of his thoughts about that day so many years ago and he realized that he had completely missed the last few minutes of Gideon's speech as he remembered the day that had set him on his current path: MIT and Engineering. And in so many ways it had. It had been memory of that conversation, after all, that had, 6 months later had him asking his mom if Gideon could help with his science fair project - a model of the solar system that had been fully mobile by the time the energetic engineer had spent a month and a half teaching him about gears and servos.

Mateo smiled as he remembered the years since then. Science projects and math homework and Gideon as a more and more regular guest at their dinner table. He hadn't realized it at the time, too young to really recognize or care about the signs, but looking back he had to admit that Gideon might have gone along with that initial project less because Mateo had asked and more because his mom had.

"In 2008, J.K. Rowling," Gideon paused as the crowd cheered at the author's name, "told the Harvard," Another pause for the required booing of the Crimson, "graduating class 'It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.' I urge you all to take those words to heart. Even if you get absolutely nothing else from everything I say to you today, remember that. Failure is a part of life. Things aren't always going to go your way. Failure doesn't determine who you are. How you react to that failure does. Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, have a drink, and get back in the fight. That's life."

From her vantage point in the crowd, Theresa was happy to have a view not just have the stage and Gideon speaking, but also, anytime another student hadn't shifted to block her eye line, of her son. Her baby boy. Except of course that he was no longer her baby. He was a grown up. 20 years old and ready to take on the world. She thought back to a time when that wasn't so true.

When his elementary school had first suggested that Mateo skip a grade, Theresa had been more than a little concerned at the idea, but after long conversations with guidance counselors and teachers she had agreed that he was well ahead of his current classmates in all subjects and that he should advance faster. The transition from the second grade directly to the fourth had gone smoothly enough that when they once again suggested it a few years later, she agreed after a few conversations with Mateo and Scott. That transition, from the sixth directly to the eighth, had been a little bumpier, but had also gone reasonably well. As a result it hadn't really occurred to her to worry overly much when Mateo graduated the eighth grade and started the ninth. Yes, he was 12 and attending high school, but he had a good group of friends from the middle school who would be starting with him, older though they might have been.

So she'd been taken a bit by surprise when, after his first day of high school, he had come home with barely held back tears and much slamming of doors. She hadn't been able to get much out of him other than that it was all her fault for having him skip grades and how could she and dad do that to him before he had shut down completely and refused to say another word.

She had just been considering calling Gideon for some advice, he had after all been through this himself - nevermind the closer relationship that he'd had with her son, and herself, over the last 18 months - when the doorbell rang. When she'd opened it to find Gideon on the other side, she'd smiled in relief and put down her cell. Despite her smile, her face must have shown her distress because the moment he was through the screen door he was asking what was wrong while simultaneously pulling her in for a hug.

She went into his arms gladly, silent for a long moment as she took comfort from his presence. 'I am damned lucky to have him as a friend', the thought came unbidden as he ran a relaxing hand up and down her back. As did the follow up: 'I wish he was more.' She forced the notion away, telling herself that now was not the time to be fawning on her best friend. Instead she pulled away.

"I'm glad you're here." He nodded as he used a gentle hand on her back to steer her toward the living room, sitting them both down and waiting for her to continue speaking. "I don't know exactly what's wrong, he won't talk to me except to say that it's all my fault, but Mateo came home from school really upset about something. He yelled for a little bit and then just stopped talking. He's flopped on his bed and won't say a word."

She expected Gideon to chime in, but he just sat next to her nodding gently.

"You knew this would happen?" She snapped at him, instantly regretting it as he shifted swiftly away from her on the couch, holding his hands up in surrender. "Sorry, sorry."

"I didn't know, but my first day of high school sucked, so…" He sighed and lowered his hands, "It's not easy being the youngest and the shortest kid in a school full of teenagers. And Mateo is way more extroverted and empathetic than I was at that age," Theresa couldn't help but notice the affectionate way he talked about her kid and the realization that he really cared about her son helped calm her further, "so it was probably a bit harder on him. That's why I came over. I don't know, I thought I could help. Maybe."

He wasn't looking at her as he spoke, his gaze fixed on his hands and his tone nervous and apologetic at the same time. It had been a long time since he'd last done that around her, curling into himself against the anticipated onslaught of anger and disappointment, and she momentarily hated herself for bringing that behavior pattern back. Reaching over, she grasped his hands with her own and waited until he looked up at her.

"I'm glad that you're here, Gideon. I think you could help, too." She paused, her eyes locked on his until she was sure that he believed her. "Mateo's in his room. I think it would be great if you tried to talk to him."

She stood, but was surprised when his hand stayed wrapped around hers and looked back at him confused.

"I'm sorry that I didn't tell you that this might happen. I didn't want you to worry, and I hoped that…"

He trailed off, but she understood. He'd hoped that everything would be fine. That her son wouldn't experience what he had. Once again she thanked the universe for putting him in her life and on impulse bent to lay a kiss against his cheek, her lips lingering a moment longer than was probably wise.

"I know." Her voice was soft as she pulled away and stood upright again, letting go of his hand as she did so. She thought she heard him sigh softly as he too stood, but ignored it as part of her overactive imagination.

He looked like he wanted to say something, opening his mouth for a brief moment, but then closing it with a shake of his head. With a smile he headed out of the living room toward Mateo's bedroom, knocking lightly before stepping inside. When no yelling immediately started, she headed to the kitchen to start dinner.

Thirty minutes later, she heard Mateo's bedroom door open and she was joined in the kitchen by Gideon and her son. Most of the residual worry she felt bled away when Gideon smiled and gave her a reassuring nod and the rest disappeared as Mateo wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. She held him to her for a long moment before he pulled back. She could tell that he'd been crying, but the tears seemed to have fully dissipated and dried.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you, mom."

She pulled him back to her and hugged him again while laying a kiss on the top of his head. "I understand, hun." She pulled back so she could look him in the eye, "And if you really don't want to be in the ninth grade yet, we can-"

He stopped her in a rush of words, "No! No, that's okay." He glanced back at Gideon who just smiled, "I think it'll be okay now. I want to stay."

"As long as you're sure." He nodded and she smiled her relief. "Okay. Well, I am making pulled pork mac and cheese for dinner and you can tell me about your classes." That seemed like the part of the day least likely to have distressed him and her suspicion was confirmed when he nodded with a small smile.

"Okay, but can we eat a later than normal? I'm kinda beat and wouldn't mind taking a bit of a nap."

"Of course." She gave him one more tight hug before pushing him off in the direction of his bedroom. She waited until she heard the door close before turning to Gideon.

"Thank you." Her tone was weary, but grateful and she felt on the verge of tears herself, the anxiety and frustration of not being able to help her son finally taking it's toll. When Gideon stepped up to her and pulled her into his arms, she sank into the embrace, taking deep breaths of the scent that she had learned to think of - on the rare occasions she allowed herself this closeness to him - as uniquely Gideon.

They stood like that for long moments. Her hands and cheek against his chest as his arms wrapped tightly around her waist and his face pressed against her hair. When she felt that she had finally regained her composure, she pulled away just enough to look up into his face.

He had a gentle smile on his lips and his eyes were deep with affection and care. She found herself wondering why exactly she kept enforcing this ridiculous distance from a man that she cared so entirely for. As she looked into his eyes, she couldn't think of a single good reason, and just as she was about to act on that knowledge, he was leaning in to press a brief kiss to her forehead before stepping away from her completely.

Her disappointment hit her like a physical blow, but she shook off the feeling as he gave her a smile and spoke.

"So… Pulled pork mac and cheese, huh? Am I invited?" The pouting, hopeful look on his face so entirely reminded her of Mateo that she huffed out a short laugh, her earlier sadness drifting to the background at his behavior.

"Of course you are."

As he helped her with the dinner prep, she explained that pulled pork mac and cheese had come about during the 10 months when Mateo wouldn't eat anything but mac and cheese and she and Mita had had to get creative to keep themselves from going insane from the repetitiveness of their meals. She laughed as she talked.

"He was about 6 at the time. And he would eat anything in the mac and cheese, but it had to be mac and cheese. Which is how," She turned to him with a grin, "steak fajita mac and cheese, pepperoni pizza mac and cheese, and enchilada mac and cheese became real meal items in this household."

Gideon laughed right along with her, settling in to the easy routine of helping her with dinner. It had been happening more and more since he'd first helped Mateo with a science fair project. At first maybe once a week, at Mita's insistence that he needed home cooked meals, and then more often. Sometimes at her request, sometimes at Mita's, and sometimes at Mateo's as her boy found a role model in the genius billionaire. He always insisted on helping, proving more adept in the kitchen than Theresa would have originally credited him with, and eventually getting to the point where he knew her kitchen as well as she did.

They worked together for several long minutes before she brought the conversation back to Mateo's day at school, wanting to discuss it with him before her son woke up.

"So how bad was it?" She asked, the trepidation in her voice palpable.

He shrugged, "Not horrible. Not great, but not as bad as he originally thought it was." He handed her one of the glasses of wine he had just poured and picked up his own before continuing, "A couple of the upperclassmen were giving him a hard time. Wouldn't have bothered him, but two of his 'friends'-" Theresa could practically hear the quotes around the word, "from middle school joined in."

Her hand rose to her mouth in distress. How was that 'not horrible' in his estimation? Two of his friends had essentially betrayed him. If that wasn't horrible, what the hell was? Before she could lower her hand to speak he was setting down his glass and moving towards her, stooping slightly to look her right in the eye as his hands rose to her shoulders, rubbing gently as he continued speaking.

"Hey, it's okay. I mean that was bad, but two of his other friends stuck by him and another freshman that he didn't know came to his defense as well. Actually told this group of juniors to go…well, do something that a 14-year-old probably shouldn't have the vocab for." His large grin made her smile despite herself and she lowered the hand from her mouth to rest on his chest as he continued. "It's really going to be okay, Theresa. By the time he'd finished telling me what happened, he had already figured out that it was better to have a couple of real friends than a whole bunch of fake ones. He's going to be fine, he just needed some time to process it all. That's one smart kid you got there."

He smiled affectionately at her for a long moment and she thought she saw his eyes dart briefly down to her lips, but by the time she had processed what she thought she saw he was moving away from her. She might have been imagining his gaze dropping to her lips, but she certainly wasn't imagining the brief flash of longing and sadness that crossed his features before he turned away from her towards the stove to stir the pasta simmering there.

Once his back was to her, she closed her eyes and forced herself to take several long deep breaths. Moments and expressions like that had been happening a lot lately. They'd just be talking or sitting in the car on a stake out or filling out paperwork across from one another in his office and then something would happen. A word or a look would flash between them and they would be within what felt like a millimeter of changing what they were together and then one or both of them would back away or say something to break the moment.

And she was so tired of it. Tired of being so close to him in so many ways, but not at all in others. Tired of acting like being his best friend was enough. Tired of wanting. Tired of it all. And done with it, she decided in that moment.

Taking in one more deep breath, she opened her eyes. His back was still to her and she took the opportunity to take a long drink of wine before setting her glass down and stepping towards him.

"Gideon." Saying his name felt different now that she'd made the decision and it must have sounded different as well because when he turned to her his face held confusion, but also a level of hope that she hadn't seen there before. She grinned at the expression and ducked her head slightly as a blush spread across her cheeks. God, she hadn't been this nervous around a guy since she was a teenager.

The gentle touch of his hand cupping her cheek brought her gaze back to his. After a moment studying her features he began to slowly lean into her, his eyes zeroing in on her lips. She could feel his breath against them and she closed her eyes in anticipation.

"Mom," Mateo's voice sounded loudly in the hallway and Gideon practically sprung away from her, taking a large uncoordinated step backwards, banging his head against an open cabinet in the process, as he tried to put some distance between them before her son walked in, which he did a moment later. "Can Gideon stay for dinner?"

"Already managed to wrangle an invitation," Gideon's voice was deeper and harsher than normal and Theresa felt a thrill rush through her at the sound, "but thanks, kiddo."

Fortunately her son's face was largely free of suspicion as he replied, "Everything okay? You sound weird."

"Yep, fine, just banged my head." He reached up as he spoke and closed the offending cabinet, the motion effectively covering the frustrated look he shot her, clearing his throat before speaking again, "But I'll be fine."

"That sucks." Theresa couldn't help the small huff of laughter that escaped her at that proclamation from her son and she was glad to see a large grin spreading on Gideon's face as well.

Her initial concerns about the interruption quelled by Gideon's behavior, she turned her attention to her son, "How are you feeling? Nap help?" She kept her tone light, not wanting him to feel like she was prying. His answering smile brought one to her own lips as well.

"Yeah, it did. I feel a lot better." He paused for a brief moment, "Hungry, though."

She studied his face for another moment before replying, "Okay, well dinner's almost ready. Can you set the table?"

He nodded amiably before beginning the task, pulling plates from a cabinet and taking them over to the table. As soon as his back was to them, she looked over at Gideon, their eyes locking for a long moment. She read heat and want and frustration in his expression and she knew her own likely echoed those emotions. The clatter of cutlery being pulled out of a drawer broke their intense stare down.

As they moved around the kitchen making final dinner preparations, it seemed to Theresa as if they were bumping into each other significantly more than they usually did. His hand brushing hers as he grabbed a colander. Her hip resting against his as she added the pork to the pasta he was stirring. A dozen little unnecessary touches, ones they had never allowed themselves in the past, and the little secret smiles and wanting looks that passed between them from across the room. Not that she objected.

She was happy to find that, now that they had attempted to take that step towards each other, neither of them was backing away. It was as though, even without the kiss actually happening, they had an unspoken agreement that it would; that they intended to finally move past being just friends. The knowledge put a smile on her face that she couldn't shake as they sat down to dinner together. The flirtation that had persisted in touches and smiles as they finished making dinner dissipated, replaced by a contented calm as they ate. As Mateo talked about the awesome physics lab - with Gideon asking questions about equipment and safety procedures - and his new math teacher - who seemed weird, but cool - she found herself imagining this for the future: the little, slightly odd, family they could potentially be.

Once dinner was over - as they cleared the table, and loaded the dishwasher - the heated looks returned. And as much as Theresa loved her son and knew he'd had a hard day, she found herself trying to come up with ways to get him out of the room. No way she was letting Gideon leave without concluding what they'd been so close to earlier. She felt guilty about that; about the stupid little scenarios her brain was coming up with to get her son to bed. As it happened, she didn't need to do anything.

"Mom," Mateo's voice broke the comfortable silence that had filled the room as they cleaned up, "Can I call Tommy?"

She smiled slightly, glad that he was still at an age where he wanted to talk to his friends instead of just text or email them, as she glanced at the clock on the stove - 8:30pm, "Sure, but just 45 minutes and then bed okay?"

He nodded and started to turn out of the kitchen, but stopped and stepped back to her, hugging her tightly. "Thanks, mom. And sorry again about earlier." When he pulled away, she smiled warmly at him and nodded her understanding. She was surprised when he then stepped over to Gideon. They both hesitated for a moment before he pulled her son into a brief hug.

Mateo spoke as he pulled away, "Thanks. For talking. You know, earlier."

"Hey, anytime, kiddo. Anytime." She smiled at the sincerity in his voice.

The young man had barely waited for a response before he was moving out of the kitchen, pausing only long enough to grab the cordless phone from it's charging station on the counter before he was moving down the hallway towards his room. Theresa watched him until he rounded the corner into the hallway and then shifted her gaze to Gideon.

His eyes were already on her, heated and so dark they seemed almost black. Her breath caught in her throat at his look and she found herself counting her son's steps down the hallway, willing him to walk faster. The moment the sound of a door closing in the hallway made it to their ears, he was in motion, covering the ten feet between them in a few long strides. His hand found her waist and, without preamble, his lips were on hers. She didn't hesitate in her response, her arms immediately rising to wrap around his neck and her lips opening to his.

'God, why didn't we do this sooner?' The thought went through her mind as he immediately reacted to her opening, his tongue sweeping into her mouth and a groan rumbling through him as she stepped closer, her chest pressing firmly against his. The hand at her waist swept around to her back while he raised the other to bury his fingers in her hair.

The kiss was hard and fast and intense, the culmination of nearly two full years of desire and need, their tongues dueling for dominance as Theresa felt him walking her backwards until she was against the refridgerator, their bodies pressed tightly together, and she couldn't stop the low moan at feeling him in a way that she had been fantasizing about for months.

He pulled back at the noise, just far enough to look at her, and the hand in her hair dropped to her nape, his fingers massaging gently. The smile that bowed his lips as his eyes swept across her features was one that she had never seen before. It was heat and want, but also affection and relief and such utter happiness that her heart skipped a beat. She matched it with one of her own, taking in his tousled hair and dark eyes, before speaking.

"That was-"

"Wow." The one word was rasped out, his tone sending shivers down her spine.

"I was going to say 'a long time coming', but 'wow' works."

His grin widened at her words and then he was leaning back into her and reclaiming her lips with his own. This second kiss was so different from the first, their lips moving against each other languidly, tongues sweeping against one another in soft, erotic caresses as hands roamed backs and hips and necks. They stayed locked together for long minutes, taking their time learning taste, and smell, and touch. Both eager for the other - for more - but also with the unspoken understanding that her kid was just down the hall and, despite years of yearning, as a result there were lines they wouldn't cross. Yet.

When they finally separated, they shared a contented smile before he pulled her into a soft hug. They stood like that, in the middle of her kitchen, for a long time, neither speaking or moving, just reveling in the resolution of nearly two years build up of want and frustration.

Cheering from all around her brought Theresa out of her memories of that happy day and she was embarrassed to realize that she had not heard any of the last few minutes of Gideon's speech, too lost in her thoughts of how they had started their journey to this point.

She had been surprised at how easy it had all been. Any time prior to that first kiss, when she'd considered them getting together she had assumed that it would come with a certain awkward period as they tried to adjust to the new relationship. But that awkward adjustment time had never materialized. At work, they went about much as they always had, the only change being that when he shot her 'that' look across the precinct control room it no longer brought feelings of sad regret and 'what ifs'. Now she knew and seeing that look just made her smile and sent happy butterflies dancing through her stomach.

The reality was that not much changed other than their acknowledgement of what had already been there. He still ate dinner at her place 2 or 3 times a week, helping Mateo with his homework or Mita with the clean up. The only difference was that once a week they were just the two of them, at his place or out at whatever fancy restaurant he insisted she try. When she told Mateo that she was dating Gideon, his only response had been 'That's cool' followed by an inquiry about whether she thought that Gideon would take him on a tour of the Reeves research facility. And when Gideon first told her, a month later, that he loved her she didn't hesitate for a moment before saying it back. It had been true for so long she realized that it hadn't even occurred to her to question it or worry about the timing.

As the crowd died down, she refocused on Gideon's speech. She was pretty sure that he was coming to the end. He'd spent the two months since Mateo had asked him to be Commencement speaker going round and round on the various quotes that he wanted to use, but he had never wavered on the one he would end with. And sure enough…

"Congratulations again Class of 2027 on the achievement of your undergraduate degrees. I leave you with one last piece of advice from Michael Dell: 'Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people, or find a different room.'"

The crowd was laughing before he even finished the sentence and he waited for them to quiet before continuing.

"You laugh - because, yeah, I'm frequently the smartest guy in the room - but nothing could be truer as you all go out into the world." He paused, his eyes sweeping over the grads in front of him. "You think I succeeded by surrounding myself with idiots or people who agreed with me? No! I succeeded by surrounding myself with people who challenged every idea and pushed me to be better. Then we invited smarter people and we found different rooms. Now it's your turn. So this is me, inviting all of you into the room."

He stopped for a long moment, his expression issuing a noticeable challenge to the young people in front of him.

"Don't blow it."

And then he was stepping away from the microphone as the crowd began to clap. He shook hands briefly with the Dean and then was heading off stage. It was the one demand that he'd made of the Commencement Committee: he'd give the speech, but once it was done, he wasn't hanging around on stage. He would join the crowd on the bleachers where he could cheer Mateo properly rather than just sit and clap politely like the rest of the school staff and dignitaries sitting behind the podium.

As he took the steps down off the stage he gave one last wave to the still applauding crowd before moving toward the nearby door and the hallway that he knew would allow him to circle around to the main seating area. As soon as he was in the hallway he was stripping off the cap and robe, dropping them into a convenient chair, adjusting his suit, and then heading down the hallway.

His long strides took him quickly down the empty corridor and up the set of stairs to where he knew Theresa, Mita, and the rest of their friends and family sat. Pushing open the door at the top of the steps, his eyes found Theresa almost immediately. It had always been like that, even at the very beginning of their association, her presence drawing him in. He watched her for a long moment, a happy smile on her face as she listened to the Dean speak, her gaze not on the podium though, but rather on the crowd of students. He followed her look and spotted Mateo among the other graduates, his black cap slightly eschew. As he looked at the young man, he remembered the events of another graduation.

As they made their way out of the stands, Gideon was glad to finally be on his feet. The ceremony had seemed to drag on for ages with no less than eight speakers droning on with advice and words of congratulations for the Carpenter High School graduating seniors. And the stands in the auditorium, which had been uncomfortable to start with, had grown more and more painful to sit on as things had dragged by. Fortunately, there had been no similar lengthy process for getting the students on stage and diplomas in hand and they'd made it through the roughly 800 students in good time. And closing remarks had been minimal, whether by design or because the Principal sensed the growing restlessness of the crowd.

As he and Theresa stepped onto the auditorium floor, their hands clasped against losing one another in the crowd, the finality of the ceremony suddenly hit Gideon. Mateo was no longer a high school student. In most ways, he was no longer a kid. He had graduated at the top of his class, received the admission to MIT that he had been talking about since he was 13, and eager to get out there and take on the world.

But despite how proud Gideon was of Mateo, it was also a slightly melancholy reality. Over the 4 years that he and Theresa had been together, he had grown incredibly close to the bright and optimistic young man. He had been surprised, given his own shitty example, at how easily the father role came to him. Homework and science projects, helping him deal with his first heartbreak, soccer games. It had all been extraordinary and challenging and great. And Gideon couldn't help feeling a little sad that things would never be quite the same again. The house that they had lived in together for the past 2 years - that they had spent 6 months hunting for and compromising over - would seem so empty without the young man and he knew that Theresa was feeling the same.

They moved through the jumble of people toward the hallway as quickly as they could, having agreed to meet Mateo outside rather than try to find each other amongst the mass of grads and families. Once in the hallway, Theresa and Mita excused themselves to the restroom and Gideon down the long corridor - now also starting to fill with people - and outside. Taking a deep breath of the cool air, he turned towards their chosen rendezvous spot, not at all surprised to find Mateo already waiting.

"Congratulations, kid." Gideon grinned at the scowl that briefly took up residence on the young man's face at the diminutive, but the expression cleared as he continued to speak, stepping close to pull him into a short hug as he did. "I'm proud of you, Mateo, and so's your mom."

"Thanks, feels kinda weird to be done with high school. I mean, I know I'm going back to classes in a couple months, but that's college and it's just…" The teenager trailed off with a shrug, but Gideon knew what he meant.

"It's different. Yeah." He grinned before continuing, "Even if you didn't hate high school, being in class because you choose to rather than because you are legally required, it makes a big difference."

As Mateo nodded his agreement, a hint of confusion tinged his expression and his eyes searched the area around and behind Gideon. It took Gideon a second to understand what he was searching for.

"Your mom and grandma are using the restroom, they'll just be a minute."

Mateo smiled. He didn't ask about his father, who he knew would be meeting them at the restaurant for his graduation dinner. Gideon was surprised when the smile dropped away, replaced by an unusually serious expression his eyes locked on Gideon's. The teenager's voice was deliberate and even when he spoke.

"Good, because I wanted to talk to you about something."

"Okay." Gideon matched his tone to the young man's and met his gaze as his mind ran through all the possible things that a sixteen year old would want to discuss without his mom around. Sex, drugs, and sex were the things that immediately sprang to mind and he tried to prepare himself.

"When are you going to ask mom to marry you?"

It took Gideon a moment to shift his mind from the track it had been on to the question at hand, but when he did he couldn't help the short bark of laughter that escaped him. The sound caused a scowl to appear on Mateo's face and he was quick to reassure the young man that there was no disrespect meant by his reaction.

"I didn't know that you could read minds." He said as he took a step closer. Taking a quick glance around to confirm that Theresa was still nowhere to be seen, he tucked his hand into his pocket and continued, "I was actually planning to ask her tonight," he pulled out a black ring box and opened it so Mateo could see the beautiful ring inside, "after you head out to Tommy's party. As long as you don't object to my stealing a little of your thunder."

He smiled brightly as the young man examined the ring within the box. A round diamond was the centerpiece of the intricate design, set in a square bezel, each corner highlighted by a trio of gems - two small diamonds flanking a dark blue sapphire. The band was white gold, expertly cut to form a latticework of metal, studded here and there with additional sapphires.

"Think she'll like it?"

Mateo looked up at him, his mouth turned up in a large smile. "It's perfect. She'll love it." He paused for a long moment while Gideon closed the box and tucked it back in his jacket. When he spoke again, his voice was tinged with confusion, "Why'd you wait so long?"

"Well," he gave a small shrug, "when we first talked about getting married, we agreed that we wanted to make sure. Didn't want to jump into something just because it seemed to work. Since we've both had long relationships in the past that didn't work, we're a bit cautious. So we agreed to go a bit slower, to make sure that not just the dating was good, but that living together worked, and all that. And now that we've been living together for 2 years…"

He trailed off with a smile, watching carefully as the young man who he thought of as a son processed what he was saying. When Mateo seemed to have fully taken in his words, he spoke again, a conspiratorial smile playing on his lips.

"But, just between us, I got the ring about 6 months after we first got together." He paused as Mateo let out a laugh and when he continued, there was a more serious note in his voice, "So do you mind if I ask her tonight? It seems like the perfect time to take that next step, but I can absolutely wait a bit longer if you want today to be just about your graduation."

"Don't be stupid." They both laughed at the phrase that had become something of inside joke between the two of them over the previous 4 years, "You should totally ask her tonight. You don't even have to wait until I'm gone, if you don't-"

He stopped speaking abruptly as motion beyond Gideon caught his eye. The older man turned to see what had interrupted their conversation and smiled as Theresa and Mita covered the last few feet to join them, both of them immediately pulling Mateo in for a group hug as Gideon pulled out his phone to capture the moment. Even after they pulled away, it was several minutes of congratulations and conversation before they were moving into the parking long for the drive to dinner.

When they arrived at the restaurant, Mateo hung back briefly, allowing his mom and grandmother to get a short distance ahead of them before he spoke to Gideon, who had matched his pace.

"Just… Don't blow it, okay?"

Gideon nodded seriously, aware that the teenager wasn't just referring to the proposal itself. "Deal."

They had joined the others at the restaurant entrance moments later and Gideon had barely been able to sit still and join the conversation during the dinner, his stomach suddenly in knots and his mind trying to find just the right words.

With the young man's okay, he had asked her that night, not able to make it ten minutes past Mateo heading out before he was pacing nervously and making an ass out of himself, stumbling over words and only remembering halfway through that he was supposed to be down on one knee. It had in no way been as swave as he'd hoped and planned for, but he must not have completely blown it, because she had said 'yes'.

It might have taken a while to get to the proposal, but they hadn't wasted a moment on the wedding itself, wanting to do it before Mateo headed off to school. So six weeks after the graduation, they were wed. It had been a reasonably small service - Mateo and Mita heading up the family and friends on her side; Ada and Pete leading the smaller group of friends on his - only 20 or so guests in total and Captain Conrad specially ordained for the occasion. The reception had been a whole different story. A massive gathering of nearly everyone they'd ever met plus all of Chicago and the tech world's biggest names.

Gideon had then surprised her with a 30 day honeymoon trip through France, Italy, and Greece. And they'd both been surprised when 5 days into the trip, and three days into morning vomiting sessions on Theresa's part, a pregnancy test and subsequent doctor's visit had informed them about an impending addition to the family: a daughter, Adrianna, born almost exactly 8 months after the wedding.

Gideon pulled himself out of the memory, sparing only a brief moment to look down at the simple titanium band on his left hand, before moving swiftly down the steps and sliding onto the open bleacher next to Theresa. She gave him a brief kiss, reaching over to grasp his hand before turning her attention back to the podium where the Dean was about to start calling students up on stage.

Knowing that it would be awhile before Mateo's turn on stage, Gideon took a few moments to look around him at the people who had gathered with them to celebrate. On Theresa's other side sat Mita, happy tears streaking her face. And then Captain Conrad, whose steadfast leadership of the 13th over the last 10 years had Gideon hopeful of being able to convince him to run for Commissioner next year. He and Brandt, sitting next to him, were chatting quietly. Adrianna, now three and a half, had ensconced herself in Brandt's lap, but was more interested in the belly of the very pregnant Ada sitting next to him than she was in the man who held her. He smiled as Ada put his daughter's hands on a specific spot on her belly and the smile widened as Adrianna's face lit up from something, most likely one of the twins kicking.

It had come as a surprise to Gideon when Ada had told him she was dating the cop, but apparently not to Theresa, who had merely rolled her eyes in an 'it's about time' expression when he'd conveyed the news to her. But it had been no surprise to anyone when the two had chosen to elope with only Gideon and Theresa present just 6 months after getting together. That had been three years earlier and they were expecting their second and third kids in a couple of months.

He turned his attention back to the stage for a brief moment to check where they were in the process (only the D's) before continuing his perusal, his eyes shifting to the row behind Ada where Scott Murphy sat. Despite their rocky beginning, Gideon had to admit that things had been good between himself and Scott over the years that he and Theresa had been together. And while it was still occasionally awkward, they'd manage to find a balance as Mateo had grown up. Much of that he attributed to the pretty blonde sitting next to Scott, his wife Alicia. They'd met during Mateo's sophomore year of high school and she had brought a definite calm to the previously tense interactions between Scott and himself.

And immediately behind Gideon sat Pete, Goss, and Reyes, currently heavy into a discussion about Pete's wrestling days with occasional input from one of Mateo's friends sitting behind them.

As he took in the group of friends and family who had gathered together to celebrate Mateo's achievement, Gideon thought back on the 10 years that had brought them all to this place. If anyone had asked him, all those years ago, where he would be today, he never would have imagined this, but he now couldn't imagine wanting anything else from his life. In fact, for the people around him, for the young man out on that floor and the woman by his side, he would be willing to give up all of things he had thought, 10 years earlier, that he had wanted: the company, the money, all of it.

A squeeze on his hand from Theresa let him know that they were finally coming up on Mateo's turn on stage and he turned his attention back to the auditorium floor and the stage. He could see Mateo just a few students back in the line.

"Multani, Aidan."

"Munoz, Rebecca."

"Muretty, Rochelle."

Gideon could practically feel the excited tension from the group around him as they waited for Rochelle Muretty to shake the Dean's hand, grab her diploma, and head off stage. And then it was finally time.

"Murphy-Reeves, Mateo."

As the people around him erupted at the name, his first thought was that he couldn't have asked for a more awesome son. And as Mateo crossed the stage, Gideon thought back to the day that Mateo had asked him to sign official adoption papers. No ceremony or preamble. Mateo had arrived home after his first year of college and had almost immediately sought Gideon out, a stack of papers in hand, asking him to officially become his second father. He'd very happily agreed, signing the papers and then helping Mateo through the onerous process of officially changing his last name on everything - made only slightly easier by Illinois' adoption of multi-parent laws.

His second thought, as the cheers continued while Mateo shook the Dean's hand and received his diploma portfolio, was that they should have bought some baby earplugs for Adrianna, but a quick glance over showed that Brandt had the situation well in hand, his hands tight over the young girl's ears - she seemed to think it was some kind of game, a huge smile across her face - to deafen some of the noise around her.

The rest of the ceremony was a huge blur for Gideon; the final students receiving their diplomas, the Dean's speech (he couldn't remember what it had been about, but it had seemed to drag on forever), and speeches by others (really how many people needed to talk at one of these things, he wondered) were nothing but background noise as he let his mind wander over all of the events that had brought him to this point, starting with Sully's murder so many years ago. For a time in his life that had started with such sorrow and loss, it had certainly not stayed that way.

Just as his mind was about to get lost in the most terrible five minutes of his life - even after so many years he could still see the convenience store in his mind, remember how red the blood had been as he tried desperately to save his best friend - the crowd around him broke into applause. Shaking off the melancholy, he noticed that the grads were making their march back down the aisle and out. He enthusiastically joined in the clapping for a few minutes and then stood with those around him as they began to slowly make their way out as well, the entire group heading to the line of cars and drivers that Gideon had hired to ensure that no one was lost in the hectic Boston traffic on their way to Mateo's graduation party.

Despite Gideon's insistence that Mateo could choose absolutely anywhere in Boston to have his party, the young man had been adamant that the only place that would feel right was the house in West Roxbury. Gideon had purchased the property shortly after he'd started Reeves Industries, thinking that as Boston was the first place he'd ever been really happy he'd want a place there. But the house had gone largely unused for decades as his visits had become shorter and fewer. When Mateo had started school at MIT, it had been a godsend, allowing Theresa, who'd never been away from her son for more than a few days prior to his high school graduation, a chance to visit regularly.

The party was just getting started as their driver pulled up in front of the house. The caterer had arrived early that morning, as has the DJ and parking attendants, and as they walked around to the back they could hear music already playing.

The next few hours were spent surrounded by friends, family, and the kind of noise that only comes from people who care about each other getting a chance to catch up. As his mind had been wandering to the past all day, Gideon couldn't help but see the enormous difference that was his life before the 13th and now. In the only days he had partied, too - lavish, expensive affairs that went until the early hours of the morning and involved more alcohol than food and more admirers than friends - and while, at the time, he had thought himself happy in his lifestyle and among those people, looking back at it from the present - the casual atmosphere, three full tables worth of food, more soda and water than beer or wine, and a huge yard full of people who honestly cared about him - he could see how lacking it had all been.

As the sun began to set, with no sign of the party dying down anytime soon, he stepped up behind Theresa on the porch. Wrapping his arms around her tightly, he stooping to press a kiss against her shoulder, her hands settling on top of his as they looked out at all the people they loved. Gideon watched as Mateo - robe gone, but cap still firmly in place, tassel dangling - lifted Adrianna into his arms. The young man danced her around the yard, 'dipping' her to face various people as they made their way around, her laughter loud even over the chatting crowd and music.

Turning his head, he kissed Theresa's cheek gently before speaking, "Could this day get any better?"

He had meant the question rhetorically, so was surprised when she shifted, turning in his arms just enough to put her lips against his ear in response.

"I'm pregnant."