"Doctor Reid," a voice called out as Spencer watched Patricia Cornwell sign autographs inside of her book. Spencer looked at the man who was calling out to him and nearly dropped his bag. The man stepped up to him, and for a few seconds, Spencer thought that he was dreaming. Jackson Grimes was standing in front of him.
"Mister Grimes, I didn't see you in the crowd."
"Well, I am glad that I saw your name on the flyer for this conference here. It saves me a trip to DC in two days."
"I have a suite booked on the top floor, what I want to discuss with you is a little bit delicate."
Spencer frowned at the man as Grimes ushered him out the main doors. Spencer looked back at Prentiss as she talked about cases with a few interested fans, Grimes was the only person that wanted to talk to Spencer. The elevator ride was silent, and Spencer wondered at his own intelligence at getting into an elevator with a stranger, no matter that the man was world known. He was also an infamous playboy. There had never been a single thing about him forcing someone though. Still, Spencer pulled out his phone.
"Calling home? I thought that profile that my assistant made up said you were single."
"I am single. I am texting my boss. He wanted me to tell him when I was done with the conference."
"And not the lovely Miss Prentiss?" Grimes was leaning against the opposite wall of the elevator from Spencer as it climbed all the way up to the top.
"I am going on a short vacation, and technically it started the moment I was done. He wanted to know, so he didn't bother me while on vacation."
"Where are you going?"
"I'm staying here. The only time that I visit cities other than home in DC, and Vegas is when I am on cases, and my boss keeps harping me to go other places for fun." Spencer looked down at his phone again. He found the texting app and opened it, finding Hotch's number and typing in that he was done with the conference and talking to Jackson Grimes. Spencer hit send and looked back up. Grimes was smiling and holding his phone like he was waiting on a call. It started ringing seconds later.
"Hello," Grimes said with a smirk on his face. "I would never do that. His virtue, what's left of it, that is, is safe with me."
Spencer was totally confused. Grimes was a very strange man. Spencer wasn't sure what the man was talking about. Spencer tried to look away to give him some modicum of privacy but the man's grin kept Spencer's eyes right on him.
"I wanted to talk to him about that thing that I talked to you about, and you said that you had a person you knew that would be perfect. You never did tell me who it was and well I got curious. Wasn't hard to find your pet genius. And what a genius you have been hiding." Grimes's grin got even bigger, and he held out the phone to Spencer.
Spencer took the phone, and he looked at the caller ID, and all it said was AH. Spencer knew a single AH that he would be called the pet genius of and he had no clue how Grimes would know Hotch.
"Hotch?" Spencer asked as he put the phone to his ear.
"Reid, I'm sorry. I didn't think that he would hijack you. Just tell him you are leaving and nothing will happen, I promise." Hotch actually sounded a little worried.
"Hotch, he just wants to talk to me about something. He's not said anything, and we haven't got to his suite yet."
"Reid, he's a lothario. Yes, he probably does want to talk to you about something work-related, but he doesn't have to do it in his room."
"Your phone number is programmed into his phone, and you are warning me away from him. Hotch, what is going on?" Spencer looked at Grimes, and he reached out and hit the button for the floor they were getting ready to pass. Grimes frowned a little. This felt too much like a setup.
"Reid, just leave and I'll tell you."
"I think that maybe it's best that I just get off here." Spencer handed Grimes back his phone and stepped out of the elevator. There wasn't much that could have made this worse but a friend of Hotch's, of Grimes's caliber, pranking Spencer or whatever was going on had made it the worst day of his life, topped only by putting his mother in Bennington. Spencer didn't even look back at Grimes as he moved toward the stairs just down the hall.
Spencer got out on his floor, the fifth floor. He fumbled out his key and let himself into the room. Spencer tossed his bag onto his bed before he slumped down to the floor with his back against the bed. He sighed and reached up to dig his phone out. He found the setting that he wanted and made it so that only a call or text from Garcia would make a sound at the moment. If there was a case, it was different.
Hotch had already sent him two texts, but Spencer just ignored them and got rid of the notifications. He was already upset enough, and he didn't need Hotch making him feel stupid. He never saw it coming. Spencer had never seen any of the betrayals in his life coming. He hadn't seen what had happened to him that night on the football field coming or when he had been blindfolded. The time a TA had pranked him when he was sixteen, he hadn't seen coming. He had never seen this coming from Hotch either. Spencer laid his head back on the edge of the bed and stared at the ceiling.
A few minutes later, while Spencer was concentrating on counting the tiles in the ceiling, the phone in his room rang. Spencer looked at it and debated for ten seconds if he was going to answer or not. He chose not. If it was someone who wanted him the call would be transferred back to the desk, and a message would be taken. Only Hotch and Prentiss had his hotel number, but it could be Grimes. He could be at the desk calling. He really hoped that whoever was at the desk wouldn't be charmed by the man to let him.
That next morning when the call came from Garcia about the case in California, mimicking the Zodiac, Spencer was still in the same spot.
Spencer debated what he wanted to do. Really he still wasn't that set on staying on the team. He knew that the moment he went up to the sixth floor, he would be questioned by Hotch on why he had been acting weird on the case and Spencer would have to let it all out because Hotch wasn't going to let him out of the office without thoroughly talking about it. Spencer was still supposed to be on leave until the next day, so he didn't have to go into the building. He had come back with the team solely because he hadn't wanted to go back to Chicago.
"Doctor Reid?" a voice called.
Spencer turned around and saw a man standing beside a town car. He hesitated, but a woman stepped out of it.
"Doctor Reid, I'm Jocelyn Watson," the woman said as she stayed near the car. It only took seconds for Spencer to put that together with where he had heard that name. She was the new head of the DC branch of Grimes Tech. "Jackson regrets whatever he did to upset you and has asked me to submit his offer to you."
Spencer looked at the woman. He had read the profile on her in the paper and what he had read didn't make him think that she would be doing this if it wasn't genuine. Spencer held up his hand and closed all but a single finger. She nodded and sat back down inside of the car. Spencer looked up at the window that looked out from Hotch's office. Spencer pulled his phone from his pocket as he moved toward the car. Spencer dialed the number from memory.
"Hotchner," Hotch answer, his tone only showing that he was a little confused.
"Hotch, I decided to take your offer on taking my days off starting with this morning. I'll be back at the office in three days."
"What changed your mind between the gate and here?"
"You had the gate tell you when I got on base?" Spencer asked. He was hurt.
"I asked to be told yes. Reid, please just let me-"
"I'm taking my days, Hotch." Spencer hung up. Spencer sat down in the car and looked at the woman who was seated beside him. "Hello Miss Watson, you may call me Spencer."
Aaron looked at his phone in shock. Reid had never hung up on him. Ever. Even when he was in trouble post-Hankel, Reid had never hung up on Aaron. He didn't count the last time the two had talked, and it wasn't a case. That had been an extreme circumstance.
"Where's Reid?" Prentiss asked when Aaron left the roundtable room and waved her toward him.
"He's not coming."
"But...but...we have a party going on for him," Garcia protested.
"It'll have to wait." Aaron pocketed his phone and turned to cross through the roundtable room to go to his office. He felt like this all had something to do with him. He hadn't meant to freak out Reid about meeting with Jackson. He just knew that Reid had been acting weird for a little while and it had coincided with him turning thirty. A milestone that everyone on the team had missed. Aaron had let himself believe that the party would fix everything. That it would start them healing. Aaron missed being close to Reid, and that closeness hadn't been there since Prentiss's return. Then Reid's birthday had passed with no one realizing it, and Spencer had to point it out to Prentiss.
Aaron remembered once hearing Spencer talking to Austin early one evening close to his birthday when he was still in touch with her. Spencer told her he celebrated his birthday by going to a bookstore and finding three books to read that night and then going and picking up his favorite takeaway and spending the evening drinking a bottle of wine that was almost as expensive as his rent for the month while reading and eating. Aaron had never heard Austin's reply on it, but Aaron knew how he felt about it. Then the following year Aaron had to break his promise to himself that he was going to break Spencer's tradition. Foyet had been looming over them all, and it hadn't seemed like a priority. Then Spencer had still been reeling from JJ leaving the team the next year, and then they were where they were now post-Spencer's birthday, and he turned thirty and hadn't had a chance to celebrate it with anyone.
"That sour face isn't going to fix anything," Dave said as he entered the office and shut the door. He looked out the window, but the team was still in the round table room, so Dave sat down without pulling the blinds. Aaron just glared at Dave. "Glaring isn't going to help either. There is more going on than I know and I think you need an outside set of eyes. So start talking."
"I have a friend that I made while I was in Seattle, he was younger than me and just getting started really. I saw him a while back, and we talked. He has a forensic accountant going over things in his business because something is off and he can't place it. The situation is serious enough that he thinks that more than a few people are lying to him. I made an offhanded comment that what he needed was a profiler who was good with numbers. He asked where I was hiding one of those and Reid's name came up. The problem is that my friend is a well-known lothario. He has an escort on his payroll, and it's pretty much an open secret. Someone like Reid would be perfect for him to seduce. My friend went to Chicago to talk to Reid after the conference and offer him the job. I might have freaked Reid out a lot when I tried to talk him out of going into Jackson's penthouse suite."
"Jackson...Grimes?" Dave asked.
"I think that I insulted Reid and his ability to make a decision for himself."
"And he was headed in here and got as far as the building door when he turned around and ran."
Aaron was about to answer when his personal phone dinged. He looked and saw that it was a text from Jackson. Aaron was loathe to look at the message but he also really wanted to know what the man wanted. Aaron had not been kind when he had talked to Jackson last after Reid had all but sprinted away from Jackson. All Aaron could see was Jackson taking Spencer to bed to get what he wanted out of him, even if he knew that Jackson didn't mix that kind of business and pleasure.
I have my head of the DC facility offering your Spencer my offer. I didn't want you to be blindsided and this time take it out on him even more. He got into the car about ten minutes ago with Jocelyn Watson.
Aaron knew that he had messed up and he vowed to send the man a bottle of the good Scotch that he loved in apology.
"Well, at least I know that Reid didn't look at the building and decide that he didn't want to come in. Jackson had his head of the DC office offer Reid the job that he had been offering him before."
"Job, so it's more than just a single thing."
"Yes. Jackson likes intelligence and with him getting more and more defense contracts for technology and putting in a bid to make the FBI an operating system of their own, having someone like Reid on his payroll would only help that. Jackson made it plain to me when he was in Chicago that he'd allow Reid to write his own ticket on what he would and wouldn't do as far as working for him and would pay him handsomely. Reid's in the FBI because he likes the job and the challenge of hunting after the bad men that we chase, but that doesn't mean that's the only thing that he likes. After what I did and adding on the Prentiss debacle and now a missed birthday, I would be shocked if Reid didn't seriously think about it."
Spencer felt his phone vibrate and he looked down at it and frowned. He looked back up at Miss Watson and saw that she had stopped speaking.
"I'm sorry. This is my lawyer who handles everything for me that's not work-related. For him to call now, something is going on."
"Please. I'll step out and see about getting lunch ordered for us." Miss Watson stood up and left all of the papers there on the table they had been spread out on. She was out of the room without even a look back.
"Doctor Reid," Spencer said.
"Spencer," Daniel Waters said on the other end of the phone. "I'm sorry to call you on a work day, but you know that your profile that the FBI puts out about you has my number for all non-work related things and I...have a lawyer from Lafayette Parish, Louisiana calling me."
"The only person in Louisiana that I know is Ethan, and he has my number." Spencer knew that he was Ethan's medical contact, the man had done that after they had reconnected.
"Well, it seems that about a year ago you worked a case there."
"Yes," Spencer nodded even though he knew that Daniel couldn't see him. "Sammy Sparks, parents killed in kidnap for ransom gone wrong. He was handed over to his Aunt Elizabeth Sparks after we found the man who had kidnapped and killed his parents dead in his boat."
"Yes, well it seems that the Aunt is giving him up and trying to find a place for him has been hard in the area. He's a very special little boy. The last family to take him in couldn't connect with him, and when he went back to school, he kept on drawing a person over and over. It took the Principal of the school to figure out that it was you. Something to do with your socks and hair and glasses. Elizabeth Sparks' lawyer is searching you out to see if you will take custody of the boy."
Spencer didn't know what to say to that. Someone wanted to give up a kid and give them to him. Spencer just stared out the window that looked over DC. He didn't realize that he had dropped the phone until he went to talk again and realized it wasn't in his hand. Spencer picked up the phone again and looked down at it to make sure it was still connected before he opened his mouth. "They want to give him to me?"
"Having a child like that is hard to place, and in the area that they are in, it's not a feasible thing to go on for long. Miss Sparks even moved in the neighborhood where Sammy had lived before after selling the house that he had heard his father shot in. I don't think that Miss Sparks was ready to deal with a child with Sammy's level of Autism."
"So the Aunt wants to drop him off with a total stranger in a whole another state and leave him?"
"There was a discussion of you visiting a few times to see how things went and then an aide from the state agency in Louisiana doing some home visits if those went well. The lawyer faxed me their paperwork and I wanted to have it messengered over to you, but I have no clue where you are at the moment."
"Umm...I'm at the Grimes Tech DC Headquarters talking to Miss Watson about a job offer."
"Did you quit the FBI?" Daniel neared screamed.
"Not yet. I had a small eye-opener on this last case, and Grimes himself tried to recruit me then my boss did something, and it upset me, and I just don't know what I want."
"Do you want me to have a messenger run the documents over to you there? I'm sure they won't mind."
"Please. I'm staying at least through lunch. I can take a few moments to read over the papers and think." Spencer hung up and looked down at the phone. It was all too much. He really hoped that Miss Watson didn't come back in for a few minutes. He really needed to just think.
Grimes was offering Spencer a set job. Nine to five or whatever he wanted to work really. Starting off with finding out what was wrong with the numbers in his company and the people who were messing it up. After that, it was whatever he wanted.
Spencer loved the work he did for the FBI, but maybe it was time to take that consulting job that had been offered to him when Gideon had left. It would be on an as needed basis, and usually over the phone consulting. If he did it, he would have to get a secure room in his apartment. Spencer looked at his phone again and pulled up Daniel's number in a text.
Set up a meeting with whoever. I want to meet with Sammy myself before I make any decisions. I have the next three days off of work, and my boss has promised me that he won't call me.
Spencer set his phone down and looked for Miss Watson. He found her looking at him and waved her into the room.
"Mister Grimes told you to tell me that anything I wanted I could have."
"Yes, Doctor Reid."
"If I had to go to Lafayette Parish, Louisiana today and see someone and maybe fly back before I have to be at work four days from now...is that possible?"
"Yes. Although, that might catch Mister Grimes eye and he might pop in to see what you are doing in Louisiana."
"Something personal has come up and getting it figured out might mean that I would agree to come to work for Mister Grimes."
"Lovely. I can see how quick the pilot can be ready. Do you know where exactly you will be going?"
"Not yet. This is highly insane and something that I've never done before. Making a life-altering decision without thinking it all the way through. I just...I need a change."
"Mister Grimes was sure that you would not take him up on a full-time job offer, but he wanted me to pitch it anyway."
"A job like he's offering might just be the best thing for me right now. I might have to have a job soon where I would have to be working set hours. I just don't know. I'll know once I am back from Louisiana."
"Well, I'll see about the pilot, and I'll give you my number. I need to go and take care of something. Jim from security will be bringing you your lunch as soon as it gets here. Look over everything and text me once you find out where you are going."
Spencer nodded and picked up his phone. Daniel had texted him several times all with good information that he needed. It seemed that he would be going to Lafayette, Louisiana to see Sammy as soon as he could get there. Spencer wasn't sure what he wanted to text Hotch. He usually let him know when he was leaving the city, just in case he was needed, he didn't want the team to freak if they couldn't get a hold of him but with everything that had happened, he wasn't sure he wanted the man to know where he was going.
"Sammy, do you remember me?" Spencer asked as he entered the room inside of the home that Sammy was being fostered in at the moment. A family had stepped in from just outside of the county. Sammy was sitting at a very cheap piano, but he looked happy.
Sammy didn't respond verbally. Instead, Sammy started to play the song that he had played to get the team to understand where he knew the man who had taken his parents.
"Yes, Sammy. That's good." Spencer smiled as he sat down at the other end of the very second-hand bench that Sammy was sitting at. Spencer slid in beside him and was shocked when Sammy's hand plucked his up from where he had set it on his thigh. Spencer's hand was set down on the keys and Sammy started to play a song that Spencer didn't know, but he picked it up easily. Spencer didn't realize how long he had sat there and played until he realized that Sammy was asleep with his head resting on Spencer's arm. Spencer was loathe to stop but his hands kind of hurt. Spencer didn't know what to do. He didn't know if he needed to wake up Sammy and then help him into his bedroom or just pick him up and carry him. His instincts were at war with his brain.
In the end, though, instincts won, and Spencer shifted to where Sammy kind of tipped forward and Spencer picked him up in a bridal carry. The lady, Miriam, who had taken in Sammy for the short term showed Spencer to the bedroom that she had given to Sammy. Spencer laid him down on the bed and took off his shoes before starting on his pants. He left Sammy in his underwear and shirt.
"He's not slept well at all since he had been put back into a group home. It's why I took him in. I'm only in town for two weeks though," Miriam said.
"I came home for a few family things, and when I heard about Sammy, I stayed longer. My husband and I maintain this house for when we come home but he's currently stationed in Europe, but we live here when we are not abroad. Our youngest child is Autistic, but he's able to live on his own. I had the piano and the bench in the basement and pulled them up for him. I've talked with his aunt, and she's at her wit's end. I know that I can't take him in. He's too much for me long term at my age. How do you know him?" Miriam didn't touch Sammy, but she did pull the covers up over his body a little more as he slept. Spencer tried not to be affected by the boy sleeping, but he was pretty sure that he was going to be going home and getting things set up for a house and a school that was perfect for Sammy. Spencer had already sent Daniel looking for a school that would work well with Sammy's issues. Whatever school he found, Spencer would find a house near there. He had the money to live anywhere that he wanted but he'd never wanted a house.
"What do you know about his past?"
"I was told that his parents had been kidnapped and killed."
"I was on the team that was trying to find them. I was the one that connected to him. I was a little shocked that he even still liked me."
"He's not played like that until you came. Whatever happened at that time I think you became a touchstone for him. Autistic children are so set in ways. How long ago did you last see him?"
"It's been a year, actually over a year." Spencer could get down into the days and minutes, but he didn't think that Miriam would care for that. "I need to do a lot of things back home before I can even think about taking him with me. School, out of my apartment and into a house. Out of my job and into the new one."
"That's a lot of changes just to take in a child that you are not related to."
"The job thing was already up in the air. I love my job but I think that I need a change and this might just be what I need."
Spencer made sure that he was the first into the building. He had already talked to HR and everyone above Hotch. He didn't want Hotch to be blindsided, so he made sure that everyone who knew anything kept their mouths shut. Spencer wasn't sure how he felt about the man after Chicago, but Spencer owed him handing in his resignation from the team in person and not having someone deliver it. Spencer cleaned out his desk and made sure that it was all in order for the next person to join the team.
The bullpen held so many memories for him. The birthday that he'd sat and blown out candles wearing that horrible hat and his camera film canister rockets. He had grown up in the bullpen in the eight years he had been on the team. He had grown from a bumbling scientist to a strong young man.
"Reid," Hotch said his name like he was shocked at all to see him. Spencer wondered if Grimes had told Hotch something. The man wasn't looking around but was looking at Spencer like Spencer was going to run away. "I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow."
"No, I know that but this is both personal and professional. Can we talk in your office?" Spencer really did not want to do it where anyone could step in and hear. This was going to be hard enough as it was.
"Sure. I was going to get a cup of coffee. Do you want one?"
"Sure. I'll just go up and wait." Spencer moved toward Hotch's office and settled into the chair that was closest to the door. He tried not to look around like he was trying to profile the office or find something else to focus on. Spencer instead pulled his newest book from his bag and laid it over his lap. Spencer had spent too much time in a very large bookstore in Lafayette buying every single book on children with Autism that they had. He compiled another list and had ordered them from the jet that he had flown home on, and some of them had started to come in for him already.
"Here, you look a little harried, so I added extra creamer." Hotch set the cup down in front of where Spencer was sitting in the chair, and the words he said rushed over Spencer's brain as he reached for the cup. Spencer didn't pick it up but instead just looked at Hotch. It took a few seconds for Hotch to realize that Spencer was staring at him and another thirty-eight seconds before Hotch squirmed for the first time.
"You know how I take my coffee."
"Why?" Spencer asked. He looked at Hotch and saw the start of a blush on the man's neck. That night in Chicago came to Spencer's mind, and he looked at it from a different perspective. He saw it from the eyes of a man who knew that someone he liked, someone he wanted, was going into a hotel room with a known lothario that he was at least somewhat friends with. Spencer turned over every single conversation between then and now in his head, and he felt a little upset at himself.
"Reid, Spencer, I want to tell you how sorry I am about what happened in Chicago. I realized after I had got off the phone with you how it sounded. That was why I asked the guards at the gate to tell me when you were coming. Prentiss overheard, and she felt that she needed to be the one to greet you instead of me, but of course, you never made it into the building. I did not ask Jackson to go to you there. I did not set you up for something. I would never disrespect you that way."
"I know, Hotch. I was already upset about something else that had happened at the conference, and I let it color how I was feeling, and it made for a pretty abysmal night. I do want you to know that no matter what happens, nothing is based on that night in Chicago, not your part in how I made me feel."
Spencer pulled the paperwork from his bag and handed it over. Spencer knew Hotch's reading speed. He knew that the man was reading too slow to not be just forcing himself not to confront it.
"There are many reasons, and too many are personal, but several things happened at the same time that made me think that I needed to try something different."
"This lists you as a consultant for the BAU, so you aren't leaving the FBI totally?"
"Jackson has a few projects in line that the government would like an agent on hand for. So no. I'll be keeping my status as an FBI agent. I will have to keep up my gun rating to carry and pass psych evaluations. I will be able to help on cases. On occasion, I will also fly out to meet the team if needed. Whichever team needs me."
"Your contact lists two dependents."
"That's the personal that is going to be hard for the others to understand. Do you remember the Sparks' case a year ago?"
"Autistic child who saw who shot his father and then kidnapped father and mother. UnSub ended up killing the father and the mother. Sammy's custody was given to his aunt."
"Lizzie Sparks has been having a lot of trouble with Sammy, and the principal of the school realized that he was trying to tell them who he wanted. I went to Louisiana over the past two days, and in that time spent with me, he's settled back down to where he was when we left the last time. I've taken temporary custody of him, and a lady named Miriam Sacks is watching him until I get a house set up here and find a school for him."
Hotch looked shocked, speechless. Which was something that Spencer had never seen on him before. Spencer kept quiet to allow Hotch time to get over his speechlessness.
"You have already signed everything, so there is no going back."
"No. This is what I want. I don't make decisions rashly, and I thought this through. With the day to day work that I will be doing for Jackson, I will have more than enough to money to send Sammy to a really good school. I've already found a house that is close enough to it for Sammy to walk once we get a good routine but I do want Sammy. I didn't realize how much I wanted a kid until there he was. And he's going to need a routine. I can't do this job and keep him."
"You won't find me trying to talk you out of this, Reid. You know your mind." Hotch's voice was sure, and Spencer knew that he didn't say things that he didn't mean, but it was still something that Hotch wasn't trying to talk him out of it. This was something that Hotch hadn't done, left his job for his son but other circumstances led to that and Aaron was doing the best that he could for his son. Lesser men would have taken Spencer doing what he was doing as a reason to be upset and think that Spencer was judging him. Aaron knew Jack better than anyone in the world, and he knew what was best for him and his son.
Sammy was a different creature with a lot of different needs. Spencer needed to be on a schedule, and he needed to be around more than he would be if he were working with the BAU full time. Grimes was a lenient man, and as long as he got results from Spencer, he didn't care what hours he worked.
"And yet you didn't want me going into a suite with Grimes, alone."
"That was entirely personal, and I cannot tell you how bad I felt when I realized what you thought. I was stupid."
"You are never stupid, Hotch. It threw you for a loop. Looking at it through your eyes, I can see where you were coming from. I don't hold it against you."
"Good. I do want to say again how sorry I am. Jackson turns a lot of things into competitions, and I was worried."
"About my virtue?" Spencer smiled to himself as he saw the blush working its way up Hotch's neck again. Hotch's eyes moved away from where Spencer was to the doorway where there was no one. The door was shut, and there was still no one in the bullpen. Spencer took a long sip of his coffee, the temperature on it perfect for longer drinks.
"I wasn't worried about your virtue, Reid."
"Then I'm afraid I don't understand what you could be worried about? The job Grimes was offering at the time was just a part-time consulting job that I could do a few hours here and there. The only thing that you were talking about was him being a lothario. People only worry about lotharios when it comes to an object of their affection. So the question becomes, which person is the object of your affection."
Hotch choked a little on the drink of his coffee that he was taking. He grabbed a napkin from a drawer of his desk and dotted at his mouth a little, never meeting Spencer's eyes. Hotch took his time cleaning up his face, the mug, and even a section of the desk before he leaned back, looking up at Spencer for a second before looking back down. Spencer allowed him his time to compose himself. He wasn't pushing for a reaction anymore. No, he would wait because if this were what Spencer thought it was going to be, Spencer would wait however long it took.
"I had wished that you would not read that far into my intentions," Hotch said.
"If wishes were thrushes beggars would eat birds," Spencer said in answer.
"That's the first time I have heard that version of that saying."
"It's the first actual version of that saying to make it into print. The popular version came out over a hundred years later. However, we are not here to discuss sayings and their origins."
"And we are technically not here to discuss personal things." Hotch smirked at Spencer a little, and Spencer nodded his head in agreeance. He took another sip of his coffee, and the sound of someone laughing in the bullpen drew both of their gazes to the window. The team had arrived, all at pretty much the same time. "We have a lot of paperwork to cover to get you out of here, and I know that most of it can be done at home but let's get the things that can't be done at home done."
"Why don't we finish our discussion at that little bistro you like. I heard you talking to Rossi about it a few weeks ago? Tonight?" Spencer asked.
"That sounds perfect. I'll text you a time when I get my day straightened out. I have a lot to do before I can leave."
Spencer nodded his acceptance and started to prepare himself for what was coming.
Aaron sighed as he looked at his glass of half-finished wine. The location of the meeting between him and Reid had changed from the bistro that Aaron loved to go to, to a nice little Italian place that Aaron had been at once when he had tried to go on a date the year before. No one on the team knew about the failed date because he hadn't been ready for more at the time.
Reid was fifteen minutes late which wasn't that odd considering he had been heading to deal with paperwork with his lawyer but what was odd was that he had not called or texted to say that he was going to be late. Reid was meticulous about that kind of thing, and it had Aaron feeling a little upset. He wasn't worried about the younger man, not worried that he was hurt somewhere but Aaron was worried that Reid had decided that this wasn't worth it, that Aaron wasn't worth it.
The chime above the door sounded again and Aaron resisted the urge to look up. It hadn't been Reid the last five times, and the odds are that it wasn't him this time either. Aaron picked up the wine glass and drained it. Aaron looked up to find the waitress who had been coming by his table less and less the more it seemed that he was being stood up. The waitress though was not looking at Aaron but instead at the door. Aaron followed her gaze and Aaron sucked in a breath at the picture that Reid was making.
Reid was dressed in a pair of black jeans, something Aaron didn't even know that the younger man owned. His dress shirt was black and very fitted with a silk vest over it all. He was not wearing a tie, but instead, the top two buttons of his shirt were open. He looked like sex walking, and Aaron found that his mouth was very dry. Aaron could only stare as Reid walked toward him. There was something off about the whole picture but it wasn't until Reid was sitting down that Aaron realized that he didn't have his bag with him. Reid had been carrying it around since he had joined the team and the few times that Aaron had seen him in public, he had it then too. Aaron wondered if it was something that Spencer was shedding just like he was shedding the BAU or if he never took it on a date.
Date had been a word that Aaron had not let his brain think when it came to the meal with Reid because he didn't want to get his hopes up but seeing Reid dressed as he was left no room for any other interpretation that this was a date.
"I'm sorry. I texted but it seems that there is a cell tower outage in the area. So instead of stopping at a phone and calling the restaurant I just rushed over. My appointment at the lawyers took a lot longer than I thought and it wasn't until I was halfway here that I saw the time. I didn't mean to make you think I wasn't coming."
"It's fine. It really is." Aaron tried to wave it off but the look in Reid's eyes said all that he needed to know. Reid was distraught that he made Aaron think that he wasn't coming. "Let's just start fresh. Would you like a glass of wine?"
"Yes, please." Reid smiled at Aaron and watched him pour a second glass from wine from the bottle that was in the ice bucket on Aaron's side of the table. Aaron knew that Reid liked wine. It and Brandy were the only things that Aaron had ever seen the younger man drink while in public.
"Did everything go well with the lawyers?" Aaron asked.
"Yes. Miss Sparks has already packed up everything of Sammy's and it's on a truck on it's way up here. Sammy is excited as much as Miriam can tell to come to live with me. I think that Sammy just wants something that makes him feel good, and he's unable to express it, so he's latching onto me, but even if this doesn't work out well, I have more resources at my hand to make sure that Sammy is well cared for."
"I don't see it not working out well, Reid. Sammy liked you during the case. Dave told me about him touching you when he wouldn't even let his mother hug him."
"His parents loved him but I only care for him. I'm sure that love with come with time."
"You didn't have nine months to get attached to a human that you had never even seen yet. Parental love isn't a switch that is flipped the second you become a parent, of any fashion. It grows just like any other love."
"Do you need a few more moments?" the waitress asked as she stepped up to the table. Aaron looked down at Reid's menu to see that he hadn't even opened it up.
"No, we are ready to order," Reid said at the same time that Aaron spoke.
The waitress was a little unsure who to believe but Aaron waved for Reid to go. Aaron listened with half an ear while Reid ordered. Aaron knew that Reid had been to the restaurant before and him not looking at the menu at all confirmed it. Aaron ordered his food when Reid was done and both of them handed over their menus.
"They have a chocolate cake here that is wonderful. When JJ was pregnant, she and I would come here. I would order the cake and allow her to have three-fifths of it and never mention that she shouldn't have eaten that much of it. I haven't been back since about six months after Henry was born."
Aaron didn't know what to say because if he told Reid the last time he had been there, Reid would think that Aaron took all of his dates here, even though Reid had been the one to mention it. Aaron had actually never been on a date with a man before. College had been full of experimentation, especially after Haley dumped him halfway through the sophomore year and didn't start to date him again until after they graduated. Aaron had done a lot of things with other guys in his dorm and not in his dorm, but never a date.
"When was the last time that you were here?" Reid asked.
"And I enjoyed it? The last time that I was here with Haley and Jack when he was two. It was a quick lunch and that was it."
"Hmm...you know that fudging the truth is pretty much the same as lying. So try again, Hotch."
"How did you know that I was 'fudging' the truth?" Aaron asked.
"You clench your left hand. Not very noticeable except I have learned to look for it. When you outright lie, your eyes go a little glassy."
"The last time that I was here was about a year ago on a date. Before that, I come alone when I want a night to eat by myself."
"I am the one that offered this place."
"I've never done this with a male before. I don't know what to do or not to do. I don't know what the protocol was for mentioning places that one has been on a date with someone else before."
"Well, for one, it's me, Hotch and we don't need to lie or fudge the truth to each other. Two, if your date gets upset that you've been on a date somewhere before if are the ones to suggest the place, and they get upset that you have been there before, the problem is on them."
"Okay." Aaron picked up his wine glass and took a sip. He looked up at Spencer and smiled at the younger man. "I forget that I don't have to be anyone but Aaron with you."
"No, you don't. I don't have to be anyone but Spencer. Tonight doesn't have to be anything more than friends having dinner if the thought of a date is a little too much for you right now."
"No, it's fine. I am just a little rusty."
"How did your last date go?"
"Horrible. I was nervous the whole time. I spilled a drink on my shirt. She didn't like any of the topics that I knew anything about and she only wanted to talk about shoes."
"You don't seem that nervous with me."
"Like you said, it's you. I know you. I know that we can talk about pretty much anything and turn it into a good debate. I mean your second year on the team, we spent a four-hour flight home discussing the various methods of papermaking and which one is best for the various uses of paper."
"You tried to get me drunk that night, paper was the only thing that I could talk about and not have to worry about messing anything up and someone catching me on it."
Aaron couldn't hold in the laughter at Spencer's words. He allowed himself to relax as he laughed. Spencer was smiling at him and while Aaron could see the stress on his face from the day, there was happiness in his eyes that Aaron hadn't seen since JJ had left the team near a year and a half before. JJ leaving, then Prentiss's faked death, Prentiss's resurrection, it all made for a year and a half that was just a little too much.
"I did not try and get you drunk. I was trying to give you a little bit of liquid courage to break out of your shell. I didn't expect to get into a debate on paper, even if it was a lot of fun." Aaron watched as the waitress was headed toward them with something. It was too early for their meal as it had not had enough time to be prepared. Aaron frowned but Spencer sat up a little straighter with a smile on his face as what looked like oysters were set down on the table between them. The next tray was filled with bruschetta. The waitress left without saying a word.
"I love oysters. I did not order them for any other reason than this is place the I love the sauce they coat on them. Try one." Spencer lifted up one and tipped it into his mouth. Aaron watched Spencer chew it twice before he swallowed. Aaron looked away because this was the first date and they did not need to go too far. Aaron picked up the fork and moved the oyster around in the shell before he lifted it to eat his own. Spencer was chewing on a bite of bruschetta when Aaron looked back up at him.
"I would not think that you would order them with a purpose other than you like oysters, Spencer. Morgan, yes. You, no. I like oysters as well. I was a little shocked because I did not hear you order them."
"I ordered them when I got here. Sometimes I come here and just get them. The hostess knows me well. This wine pairs well enough with both of them but our dinner pairs well with another. They'll bring a bottle of it. I figured that we could go dutch."
"I'm fine with that." Aaron smiled at Spencer before he made a slightly wild decision. The table that Aaron had been seated at normally seated four but two chairs were taken for a larger table on the other side of the room. Aaron picked up his wine glass and moved his chair over toward Spencer's side of the table. Spencer's eyebrows raised up as Aaron placed himself close to Spencer and grabbed an oyster up. Aaron made sure it was loosened before he flipped it around in his hand to offer it to Spencer.
"What is this?" Spencer asked, his eyebrows nearly lifting off his face but he did lean forward and allow Aaron to tip the oyster into his mouth. Aaron prepared another and ate it himself. He picked up a bruschetta next and offered Spencer the first bite.
"I don't want this to be between friends. I want this to be a date. I want this to be a first of many dates to come."
"I don't think that we could have a bad date, Aaron unless we tried but I'll submit to whatever you want. I'll allow you to take the alpha role on this date. You like to feed your dates?" Spencer asked, a hint of a smile on his lips.
"Not the whole meal, that gets a little...tedious in public. Now you have stated twice now on cases where I have heard that kissing is safer than shaking hands, from a germ standpoint. What about sharing food?"
"It's rare that I would share food with someone, eat off their fork, that kind of thing until later but given that if you did have anything I have a high chance of catching it based on our proximity over the past day, I would not say no to sharing food."
"Good." Aaron picked up another oyster and ate it first before getting one ready for Spencer. It was nice, knowing that Spencer was paying attention only to him. Aaron was pretty sure that his brain wasn't anywhere but their date. Aaron took a bite of the bruschetta before he offered the other part. Spencer leaned over and took the bite but made sure that his lips didn't touch Aaron's fingers.
They finished off the bruschetta, the last two oysters, and the wine before the waitress brought out their dinners. Aaron was a little shocked to see Spencer with a steak. It was rare that he ate beef unless it was hamburgers on cases. He went for fish or chicken.
"I just realized that this is the first time I have ever seen you get steak ever."
"I like my steak rare and while we are on cases, no matter the subject matter, a bleeding steak is not exactly something that I want to eat much less make people watch me eat. So I go for fish and chicken." Spencer started to cut on his steak and Aaron did see that it was rare. Aaron liked his steak the same way but got it medium on cases for the same reason.
"We all have a lot of things that we do because of the job. I've just gotten to where I can eat bacon and not feel bad about it."
"I never stopped eating bacon after Canada but I did cringe when I saw a pig for a while after that. Given that I knew that about pigs beforehand, the fact that pigs are omnivores didn't bother me as much." Spencer dipped a bite of his steak into something that was on the side of his plate and Aaron frowned because it wasn't au jus like prime rib had. This was thicker and looked like it had cracked herbs in it.
"What is that?"
"One of the waitresses here brought it out to me once with a chopped steak. It got put on the wrong plate. It's a sauce that one of the waitresses makes for her steak and chopped steak. I really liked it, so I ask for it. She makes up a lot of it and any of the staff can eat it if they want. Do you want to try it?" Spencer cut off a piece of the steak and dunked it down into the sauce before holding his fork over to where Aaron could take the bite. Aaron cupped Spencer's hand to hold it steady as he leaned in to take a bite. The sauce was light and full of flavor. It was a perfect addition to the steak but didn't overpower the taste of the meat. Aaron hummed as he pulled off of the fork.
Aaron looked down at the plate of food that he had. The ravioli was a butternut squash in a cream sauce with sausage. There were seasonal vegetables in the sauce as well but all of it made a perfect meal. Aaron loved it but the restaurant only had it when squashes were in season. He tried to get it as much as possible during Autumn. Cases notwithstanding, Aaron came the first day the restaurant had it each fall season.
"That's really good. I'll have to get that sometime. Do you want a bite of mine?"
Spencer looked down at the bowl of ravioli in front of Aaron before using his own fork to poke at one. Aaron laughed and speared one of the ravioli, holding it out for Spencer. Spencer took a drink of his water that was beside his wine before opening his mouth. Aaron watched him close his eyes as he chewed, seemingly concentrating on what he was doing. Aaron had never seen someone do that before in real life, movies yes but never real life.
Aaron was waiting with baited breath as Spencer swallowed and opened his eyes. Spencer's face cracked into a small smile.
"I never was brave enough to get that but I'll have to do it next time we come here. Or we can split the next time. You get that and I'll get steak. I really do like how they do steak here."
"That sounds good. I guess I should feel good that you want another date with me."
"I don't know how much this might impinge on your manhood but any date that that didn't end in death of one of us would get you a second date, or dates until we finally got the hang of it." Spencer started to cut the next bite of his steak and before he could lift up the knife all the way, Aaron reached over with his fork and speared the bite and dunked it into the sauce. Aaron had the bit in his mouth before Spencer could even look at him in shock. Aaron grinned at Spencer while he chewed. "That kind of thing could earn you a fork jab to the hand."
"You have to catch me first."
"Morgan learned that the hard way. You might get the first but you won't get the second."
"I remember that. You made him bleed. JJ nearly fell off of her chair."
"And that was dessert. This is steak. Damned good steak that makes my mouth water. Just think what I'll do to your hand." Spencer quirked an eyebrow at Aaron as he relaxed into the seat to work on eating again. Aaron filled their glasses with the new bottle of wine that Aaron just realized was there. Aaron tried it before he put much in his glass. Aaron agreed that even though both of their meals were very different, the wine went well with the steak. He chased the wine with another piece of pasta. It was damned good.
The silence that followed while they finished off their main course should have been strained but with trading small bites of food back and forth, it was good. Like a meal shared among people who had been together for years. Aaron knew that it made a date a lot better than it would have been. Aaron was glad that he had calmed down to allow this to happen.
After cutting up the last of his steak and spearing the last of the broccoli that was on Spencer's plate, Spencer laid his knife hand down on the table and let it relax there. Aaron switched his fork to his right hand and settled his left down beside Spencer's. He rubbed his thumb over Spencer's lowest knuckles. Spencer's hand jerked a little but he didn't raise it up and he didn't take it away. His eyes darted up to Aaron's for a few seconds before going back to his food. Aaron saw the smile curl at his lips as he took it in.
Aaron didn't move his thumb up higher until after Spencer had finished off the last of his steak. All that was left was the jacket from the potato. Aaron watched as Spencer used his fork and knife to roll up the jacket. He speared the middle of it on his fork and raised it up to eat. Aaron had never seen anyone eat a potato jacket like that before.
"If I didn't know you well enough to know that you are not staring at me because you find me strange but are intrigued, I would find you staring at me while I eat weird."
"I learned at a young age the proper way to eat for polite society. It took a lot of years to get rid of those habits. I know that you taught yourself to eat for the most part. I can see little ticks that tell me that you had some correction but that you were mainly left to teach yourself. I learned a long time ago you taught yourself a lot of things mainly because you crave knowledge. I saw the book you had in the office. I know that you are surrounding yourself in knowledge but a lot of it, you are going to have to learn as you go."
"I know. The thing is that most parents of Autistic children his age have had time to grow into the relationship. They know what not to do and what to do in times of stress. No two children like Sammy are the same but I want to have the all the best and latest information possible. That way if A doesn't work, I can try B through D before moving on."
"I had Morgan come to me, once about two months after you had been on the team. Gideon bringing you in like he did kind of threw all of us for a loop. But back to Morgan. He wondered if you were on the spectrum. I never said anything and I never really needed to know but as the years went by, I did see what Morgan saw. Have you ever thought of getting tested?"
"No. If I am on the spectrum, it won't really help now. I'm already older and too set in my ways. It's not going to help in any way. There are a lot of genius minds that are on the spectrum. But, for me it would be another label that I would be slapped with. I don't need another label."
"No, you don't need another label. I heard you telling Morgan about the classes you want to take. I didn't realize that you wanted to add more degrees to your name, enough to where not being in the BAU would help with that."
"I am always taking classes. It wasn't the main reason at all for me wanting to leave, Aaron. I want to keep myself entertained and right now the only thing that I can do is classes. It'll be easy to work around whatever schedule I set up with Sammy."
Aaron laid his hand over Spencer's, letting the warmth of Spencer's hand soak into his. It was nice, being able to touch. Aaron had been holding himself back because he was afraid that if he took an inch to make himself happy in his friendship with Spencer, he would take a mile and that would not go well for either of them.
"Did Miss Sparks give you what Sammy's schedule was before she gave him up?"
"Yes. Some of it will be a little different as my job would vastly vary from hers but I don't think that it will be hard to do. Part of it all though will depend on school and what we do with Sammy there."
"Have you looked into pianos yet?"
"Kind of yes. The one from Sammy's old home was with Miss Sparks and it is on the way with Sammy's things. I do want to get some kind of grand piano for the empty room I have in the front of the house on the ground floor."
"I look forward to seeing what you do with the house. You'll have to hold a party. Garcia will probably make you."
"She already said that she was coming over to help me decorate for Sammy. I made a noncommittal noise. I don't think that she will be needed for that part. I remember what Sammy's room looked like at his parent's house. Her style does not mesh well with his. I figure that if I don't tell them when I move in and get everything set up beforehand, no one can change anything."
"Garcia is a force to be reckoned with. She means well but she lets herself get a little too excited and doesn't think. She wanted to help me decorate Jack's room after Haley's death but I already had a room for him in the apartment and it was already decorated."
"I remember that. She pouted for days and wouldn't listen to reason. It wasn't like you were starting over from scratch."
"After Sammy gets settled in and you both are at a good place, I'd like to bring Jack over to meet Sammy. There is no rush but I thought that maybe it would go well if they met early instead of late, with what we are doing. Jack's never been around another child who was Autistic and I don't want him to get psyched up and mess up because he's thinking about it too long."
"That's fine. I'll let you know."
"Dessert?" The waitress asked as she stepped up to the table to clear off the dinner plates.
"Yes, please. The chocolate cake with two forks. A caramel latte and a black coffee please," Spencer said.
Aaron didn't say a word. He knew that the black coffee was for Spencer and the latte for him. The caramel lattes were an indulgence for Aaron and it felt nice that Spencer wanted to spoil him a little. Aaron waited for the last of the plates to be pulled away from the table before he leaned a little closer to Spencer and used his free hand to lift up Spencer's hand that was on his lap. Their other hands were still tangled together on the table.
Spencer watched Aaron lift his hand up and his eyes never left their hands as Aaron flipped Spencer's wrist to lay Spencer's hand on his knee. Aaron brushed his thumb over the pulse point on Spencer's wrist before he arched it over and over the wrist to touch Spencer's palm. Spencer's fingers flinched a little and Aaron repeated the movement.
"I guess. I've never had that happen before but then no one has ever done this before."
"I like touching and right now if I touch anywhere else, we are going to go a lot farther than I want to when we leave. Your hands are soft."
"I've heard that before. I have some callouses but not a lot. Mostly to do with pen and pencil holding and gun firing." Spencer lapsed into silence again as Aaron's fingers brushed up along the area just below Spencer's fingers before Aaron started to trace all of the lines on Spencer's hands. The sounds of the people around them disappeared from Aaron's ears as he focused on Spencer's breathing. There was a hitch at the end of every single inhalation of Spencer's breathes and it had Aaron smiling. Spencer had become so hard to read over the last year and a half, which was good as it meant that UnSubs would have a hard time reading him but Aaron kind of hated it because he was having trouble reading him as well.
The smell of coffee told Aaron that their waitress was coming back, so Aaron leaned back and let go of Spencer's hand. The waitress stepped up between them, allowing Aaron to leave their hands on the table joined. The coffee was set down. First, an empty cup for Spencer and a carafe before Aaron's latte was set down. She turned to get the cake from the helper that was right behind her. She said nothing as she stepped back. Aaron reached out and grabbed a fork. Spencer laughed as he set about filling up his cup with coffee and he took a sip as Aaron speared the first bite of cake. Aaron offered it up to Spencer.
Spencer closed his eyes as he leaned forward, humming when the first taste of cake landed on his tongue. Aaron was glad that he had a lot of control over himself because dessert was going to be torture to his libido. Spencer enjoyed chocolate more than was normal, in Aaron's mind if he made that kind of noise about a bite of chocolate cake. He followed the bite with a drink of the black coffee. Aaron started to spear himself a bite but stopped when Spencer pouted. Spencer set down his coffee and picked up a fork to take the next bite onto his fork. He offered it over to Aaron.
The dessert was gone in quick fashion with at least every other bite being fed to the other person at the table and sips off coffee to wash them down. Spencer looked half asleep despite drinking two cups of coffee with the cake when he finally leaned back after draining his cup. Aaron watched him as he slumped into the seat and smiled at Aaron.
"I think that date number one was a resounding success," Spencer murmured before he filled his cup with coffee again.
"Yes, I think so as well."
"I'll have to think hard about what to do to top it." Spencer sighed as he pulled his hand from Aaron's finally. He cupped his coffee cup with both hands and drank deeply of the coffee. "I'm all of a sudden really tired. I need to wake up before taking the train home."
"I'll drive you. I drove here and would rather drive you than to worry while you are on your way home."
"I'll be fine."
"I know you will be. You are a federal agent but please, don't make me worry about you."
Spencer nodded his consent, a blush on his face.
Silence reigned again as they finished off their drinks and all the way until Aaron was parking in the loading/unloading zone in front of Spencer's apartment complex. Spencer seemed nervous and Aaron was pretty sure that he knew why.
Aaron leaned over and pressed a dry, chaste kiss into Spencer's cheek and he felt the blush as it crept higher up on his face.
"Do you want more of a kiss than that?" Aaron asked.
"Please." Spencer turned toward Aaron, his eyes darting from Aaron's eyes to his lips and back up again. Aaron grinned and kissed him on the lips, still keeping it dry and chaste.
"That's all you get for tonight, Spencer."
"I don't get to taste you?" Spencer asked, his breath ghosting over Aaron's lips.
"No. There is a process to this. I want to do this right. So a simple goodnight kiss tonight. Maybe next date I can see what you taste like."
Spencer kissed Aaron's cheek before he opened the door to the car and exited. Aaron watched him as he stopped at the door and let himself into the building. He only looked back once, when he was shutting the door. Aaron really wanted this whole thing to go right.
Spencer looked around the living room. All of the furniture was around the outer walls and the middle was mostly empty. There were two huge bean bags, one for Spencer and one for Sammy to sit in. If there were guests over, the bean bags could be moved to a corner but no one but Sammy could sit in his. Just like his bedroom, no one was to enter it without Sammy allowing them.
The house was simple but a little big for just him and Sammy but it would allow Spencer to be able to move around the house without it feeling like he was crowding Sammy. It was a Tudor style house with a lot of windows and plenty of rooms. The windows in the front room had been replaced in just days by a group of engineers and a crew from Grimes Tech. Some of the best windows on the market for cutting out damaging rays of the sun. The room was totally safe for the piano that Spencer had ended up buying for him and Sammy. Sammy's piano that he had learned to play on had been delivered and Spencer had set it up in the living room that was opposite the sunroom.
Spencer moved out of the living room with a last look at the piano in there before he crossed the foyer to look into the sunroom. There were blinds that could be pulled when they didn't want the sun in the room but right then they were open and getting all of the morning sun. There were also several stands scattered under some of the windows with plants that loved the sun. Those were the only decorations in the room and Spencer loved it. It was a very sight neutral room that Spencer hoped Sammy liked.
The kitchen was next on Spencer's list of looking the house over before Sammy arrived. Morgan and Will had helped Spencer get all of his boxes from the apartment loaded up and moved into the house. While doing the last few things that were needed for Spencer to finally be able to call himself a half retired agent, Spencer had worked on a few boxes each day. It had helped him say goodbye to the person that he had been in a good way.
Spencer adored the kitchen. It was a cozy spot with a corner that was taken up with a table that was perfect for him and Sammy to eat breakfast at together, any meal really but Spencer wanted to have the habit of breakfast being eaten there. There was a small dining room that was separated from the kitchen by a half wall that had a window cut into it so that things could be set on it and dinner would be eaten there. In the kitchen was also an island that doubles as counter space. There were two raised outlets set into the island that Spencer used to set up his Keurig as well as the toaster and water kettle. His standard coffee pot and his housewarming gift from the team, a very complicated espresso machine that Spencer was already in love with were closest to the fridge on the actual counter space. It wasn't hard to see that Spencer loved coffee. The tea kettle had been a gift from Henry. Sammy liked tea and it would be good for Spencer to make them tea with at night. The Keurig had been brought from Spencer's apartment because he did like flavored coffee on occasion but never a lot at a time, so single serves worked best for him.
The other end of the island had four stools stretched around it and Spencer could see Sammy sitting there while Spencer cooked, either working on homework or reading or even just watching Spencer. The notes from the psychologist that Sammy had been seeing said that he liked to be around first his aunt and then Miriam even if nothing was said between them.
There was a small half bath that finished off the first floor of the house and on the second was the master bedroom that had an office already attached to it. Spencer wasn't sure if the bedroom had been larger and the office closed off or if the door between the two rooms had been added but Spencer had enjoyed setting up the office the way that he wanted it. The office had a door that did lead into the hallway but Spencer would keep that door locked when he wasn't in the room just to be safe. Spencer had bought a chair that Sammy could sit in for hours if he wanted when Spencer was working.
Sammy's room was the second largest on the second floor of the house. With two modest sized guest rooms finishing off the top floor. There were three bathrooms on the top floor, one in Spencer's room, one in Sammy's, and a shared one for the guest rooms. It was part of what had sold the house to Spencer.
The ring of the doorbell was silent but there was a light in every single room that flashed the heartbeat of a Time Lord when it was pressed. Spencer saw the flashing out of the corner of his eye and started toward the front door. He frowned when he saw that it was a delivery truck of some kind. Spencer opened the door and recognized the uniform of one of the more popular couriers in the area.
"Doctor Spencer Reid?" the woman standing on his front porch asked.
"I have a package for you. I need your signature please." The woman handed over a clipboard and Spener signed on the line before handing it back to her. Spencer frowned at the box that the woman leaned down to pick up and hand over. Spencer felt the weight of it and nodded his thanks before stepping back into the house. His mind was racing over the possibilities of what was in the box, most of them bad before he saw a signature on the corner of the box. That signature he knew. It was from Aaron. There was a card taped to the box, so Spencer pulled that off. He locked the door as he looked at the envelope. It was made from very thick paper and the card inside was one of the handmade kind. The card was made to look like the night sky with a tiny TARDIS hanging out in the corner of it. Spencer opened the card.
It's been two days since our first date and I can't stop thinking about it. I'm trying to think about the perfect place to go on our next date and then I remembered that you've never really done a lot of things when it comes to that. There is also Sammy. So, I propose this. We take the next few dates as casual things, with Jack and Sammy included. Once Sammy is settled, we can make it for a night that Jessica can watch them. I've already talked to her and as long as Sammy likes her, she doesn't mind coming to your place to watch the kids. I want this to work and I will do whatever it takes to make it work.
I want a life with you Spencer.
I want to court you with that in mind.
The writing inside of the card ended there. Spencer flipped it over to see if there was more but there was not. Spencer didn't know how he was supposed to respond. Did he call Aaron and tell him that it was what he wanted. It didn't seem like the thing to tell in a text. First, though, Spencer opened up the box with a scrape of the tape on it. He looked at the packing peanuts scattered inside and frowned. Spencer grabbed the trashcan from next to where he had set the box and scooped out enough to where he could start to see what was inside. Whatever it was, it had vivid purple feathered wings.
Spencer pulled out a beautiful sculpture. He nearly cried at the detail in the wings done for the Phoenix. It was all done in shades of purple, even the body was a dark purple that was almost black. The sculpture was perfect for Spencer's office. He knew right where he wanted to put it. There was a huge empty spot on a stand that was right across the room from his desk. Spencer had not found anything that he wanted to put there until now. The box that the Phoenix came in was sturdy, so Spencer finished fishing out the packing peanuts and dumped them into the trash. Sitting at the bottom of the box was a simple, string bound stack of paper. It was thick and matched the style of the card. There was a long note attached to the stack of paper.
I thought that this could be fun. You like writing letters to your mother and I have seen you working on letters to Ethan. I know that that we going to spend time together but I thought that this could be good. I will send the first letter to you but not through the mail. It will show up when you least expect it.
I look forward to your response to everything. Feel free to call. I'll be eagerly awaiting it.
Spencer heard the doorbell ring and looked at the time. It was the child protective agent that was escorting Sammy to Spencer. Spencer set down the Phoenix and wiped his hands on his pants to get rid of any remnants from the packing peanuts and moved to open the door.
"Hello!" Spencer said brightly. The woman standing there look frazzled and Sammy looked upset. "Please, come in."
Spencer stepped back and the woman waited for Sammy to enter before she did as well. She was staying a respectable distance away from the boy and Spencer was happy about that.
"Sammy, this is-" the woman stopped when Sammy started to just walk toward the piano room. Spencer shut the door and smiled after Sammy "Well."
"He's fine and he knows me."
"Yes, well I wasn't sure that he would remember you. Doctor Reid, I don't think that you understand this child's needs. He needs to be put in a mental facility that can manage him."
Spencer looked at the woman in shock.
"I think that it's time that you leave. I've already signed all the paperwork that I need to adopt Sammy and right now I really wish that I wouldn't have listened to the authorities in Lafayette that told me that it would be better to not come and get him. Sammy does not deserve to be put into a place like that. He lived a happy and full life with his parents, Ma'am and he will live a happy and full life with me. Good day." Spencer opened up the door and glared at the woman until she stepped outside. Spencer wanted to slam the door but he didn't. He shut it gently because he didn't want to scare Sammy, who it seemed had a horrible bus ride to DC.
Spencer walked to the piano room to see Sammy, not at the piano but standing at a window. He was standing there and staring, not moving at all.
"Sammy, are you hungry?" Spencer stayed back and just waited. Sammy didn't move for a long time but when he did, he turned to face Spencer.
Sammy walked toward Spencer, his eyes darting back and forth from Spencer's face to the side and back. Spencer was shocked when Sammy reached out his hand and clasped Spencer's hand. Spencer took that as he was hungry and started to walk toward the kitchen. As soon as they stepped inside, Sammy dropped Spencer's hand. Sammy started to look around the room again, his eyes darting everywhere and his hands almost reaching out to touch.
"You can touch whatever you want, Sammy. If something could hurt you, I have it put up. Don't open doors or cabinets and you'll be fine. Now, there is a cabinet over here." Spencer walked toward the weird wall mounted cabinet that was all by itself on a wall. Spencer had seen no need for it at the time and had been about to have Morgan remove it. But he thought that having a place that he could put snacks and drinks for Sammy that didn't need to be refrigerated would be a good idea. Sammy followed Spencer to the cabinet and his finger traced his name where Spencer had painted it onto the cabinet. "Everything in here you can eat. I stocked it with the snacks and things that you like."
Sammy opened up the cabinet door and stared inside before he grabbed a package of raisins and shut the doors. He glanced up at Spencer like he was waiting for approval. Spencer nodded. Sammy opened up the box and pulled out a raisin.
"There is also a drawer in the fridge." Spencer walked toward the fridge and opened the door. It was one of the ones with a freezer in a drawer in the bottom so that Sammy's drawer was at his height that had his name taped to it. Sammy opened the drawer and looked at what was inside. He picked up a bottle of juice and handed it to Spencer. Spencer carried it over to the nook and set it down after cracking the lid open. Sammy scooted to one side and grabbed a napkin and spread it out. He dumped his raisins down onto the napkin. Spencer watched him start to lay out the raisins like music notes before he ate a single one. "Sammy, I'm going to go make a phone call in the living room. If you need me, come and get me."
Sammy didn’t respond but Spencer took it to mean that he did hear him. Spencer walked backward out of the kitchen, watching Sammy the entire time. Spencer pulled his phone from his pocket and looked at the time. Aaron was still at work but if he didn't have time to talk, he would tell Spencer that.
"Hotchner," Aaron said when he answered and the tone that he used told Spencer that he had not looked at the caller ID.
"Hi," Spencer said as he flopped down onto the couch.
"Spencer, hello. Hold on a second." Aaron's voice changed from slightly harassed to very happy as he realized that it was Spencer. Spencer could hear Aaron talking in the background like he had covered the phone with his hand. "Thank you, Anderson."
"How is Anderson working out?" Spencer asked.
"You were perfect in recommending him. He's quite happy to come onto the team. His degree in media is working out well. He did well helping me with managing the press on the one case we have had since you left. I think that I am going to ask him to take JJ's position. He can still help with profiling but that would take a few things off of me."
"I think he would like it. He is happy to do anything." Spencer looked at the time. It wasn't quite lunchtime yet. "Is this a good time?"
"I have a meeting after lunch but I can work and talk. I see what time it is. Did Sammy get there okay?"
"Yes and no. I should have flown down to ride up with him. Even though the Louisiana social worker didn't want me to. The woman who dropped him off. God Aaron, she told me that he needed to be in a mental facility. He went right to the piano room to get away from her. He's eating some raisins and drinking a juice in the kitchen. I think he likes the cabinets that have things for him in them. He dumped his raining out and started to lay them down like they were music notes."
"Do you need me?"
"Want you, yes. Need you, no. You stay there. I don't want to overwhelm him. I don't want him freaking out. The bus ride had to be horrid for him. I wouldn't be shocked if he napped."
"Okay, but if you change your mind, I can stop by after work. You are not alone."
"I know. I love the phoenix. I know right where I am going to put it in my office. And I would love to be courted by you."
"Good. That's great. Awesome really."
Spencer could hear the blush in Aaron's tone. Spencer knew that he had made the right choice in accepting. He had seen some of the things that Aaron used to do for Haley when things were still good between them.
"Aaron Hotchner, rambling. What is the world coming to?" Spencer teased, a blush coming to his cheeks as well.
"I don't know what else to say that I can say here at work. How long do you want to wait before we do a meal together with the kids?"
"Next weekend, barring a case?" Spencer asked. That would give Sammy time to get used to the new house and his new school. Spencer had the week off even though he had just started at Grimes Tech. Jackson had been more than willing to give it to him. Spencer had taken some of the files home with him to look at but it wasn't a lot. Spencer still had a lot of books to read on caring for and understanding an Autistic child.
"Sounds perfect. I'll bring stuff to make pizza. Sammy does like pizza, doesn't he?"
"Yes. He ate pizza when Rossi and I got it on the case last year. And why can't we order pizza?" Spencer crinkled his nose.
"Jack and I love to make pizza together. I have these round pizza sheets that are perfect for making pizza for a single person on each. Everyone gets to put what they want on and how much. If Sammy doesn't like making it, you or I can make it for him how he wants."
Spencer wasn't sure on that. He would submit to it. He could see the fun. And the island would be perfect if he got a stool that Jack could sit on or a step stool he could stand on. Spencer leaned forward and grabbed the list he had started of things that he wanted to buy for the house. He added a taller stool as well as a step stool for Jack.
A shadow moving told Spencer that Sammy was walking around. He didn't get up to follow and instead just let Sammy wander on his own. The upstairs could wait until the boy was a little more settled after his trip up. Jackson had been the one to make sure that everything that Sammy might want out of his parent's storage, as well as the things that his aunt had taken into her house, was shipped up without damage. Jackson even offered the jet but Spencer was unsure of how Sammy would do on an airplane of any kind, without or without other people.
"Spencer?" Aaron called out, his voice louder than normal.
"Sorry, I was listening to Sammy wandering around the house."
"Do you need to go?"
"No. I want him to explore on his own for right now."
"Have you made a decision on your bed yet?" Aaron asked.
Spencer could hear his tone and knew that he was asking for more than just finding out if Spencer had decided to keep his single or upgrade to a larger bed. Spencer knew Aaron's stake in it but Aaron wanted to court him. If it went by the old-fashioned standards, Aaron and he would not be getting into a bed until marriage.
That thought stopped Spencer cold. Marriage, to Aaron. Marriage to anyone really was something that Spencer had never thought about. There was silence on the other end of the phone so Spencer knew that Aaron knew that he was thinking.
"I've not made a decision. I will need to soon though. I need a new mattress. Morgan was trying to talk me into one of those four-poster beds. He said that he had seen one that was massive and it had the curtains on it and everything. Told me it would be perfect for me. I don't know whether to be offended or pleased."
"You are an old soul, Spencer. I could see you with one of those beds. Black curtains on the side of the bed that the sun comes up on so you can eek out those few extra minutes of sleep. The other side open and inviting."
Spencer didn't say anything because his mind was going elsewhere for a reason for the curtains. He was saved by answering because Sammy entered the living room. Sammy moved around the edge of the room, taking in everything.
"I think that Sammy is done with the look around on the ground floor. I'm going to have to go Aaron."
"Think about a movie to watch for all of us this weekend. I'm bringing the food, you can do the entertainment."
"I will." Spencer knew that a collection of DVDs had been shipped with Sammy but those were still in the box in the one guest room. "Goodbye."
"Goodbye, Spencer." Aaron hung up first and Spencer was kind of glad about that.
"Are you ready to look at your room?" Spencer asked as he stood up and slipped his phone into his pocket. He had the ringer down on it as well as all of the phones in the house. That was why he had an expansive cordless phone collection. There was one in the piano room that was on silent, one in the kitchen, one in the living room, as well as one in each his office and his bedroom. Lots of phones with low ringers meant that it could be heard anywhere without startling Sammy.
Spencer watched as Sammy looked toward the steps and his hands both moved in a yes sign from sign language. Spencer had read about some parents teaching their Autistic children sign language, especially for the non-verbal ones. Spencer picked up his notepad and made a notation about sign language books. Simple signs would be awesome to teach him and it would make it so that they could communicate better. Sammy's grasp of understanding language was vast and Spencer knew that he had the capacity to learn more. He would have to talk to the Headmistress at New Haven about their classes or if after school would be best for Sammy.
"Then let's go and see your room."
Spencer watched as Sammy was playing a new song on the piano. Spencer could tell that he was nervous, even after living with him just a week. No case had come up, so Aaron and Jack were on their way over. The kitchen was spotless and the island ready for them to make lunch on it. Aaron had opted for a lunch get together with possibly going into the evening. Spencer had a casserole ready for the evening no matter if Aaron and Jack stayed over or not.
Aaron's knock was readily known to Spencer. It was the same knock that Spencer knew from cases and other times that Aaron had picked him up before a case. Spencer looked at Sammy who was still playing away before he moved to the front door and opened it.
Spencer was shocked to see just jack standing there with two bags in his hands. Spencer saw that they were full of vegetables. Spencer frowned.
"Daddy says that he is bringing the pizza stuff and I have the snacks for later." Jack held up the bags. Spencer took both of them and Jack ran back to his father and took a box from the back of Aaron's SUV. Spencer had been shocked by the purchase because before Aaron had always gone for sedans. However, Aaron had said that Jack and his soccer love needed a bigger vehicle.
"What's that Jack?" Spencer asked.
"It's a present for Sammy." Jack clutched it to his chest like it was the most precious thing in the world to him. "Daddy told me to wait until you went inside to go inside so that I don't scare Sammy."
Spencer looked at Aaron with a frown on his face. He hadn't got a thing for Jack and there was nothing in his house that he could fake being something that he bought for Jack. Jack was turning seven but everything that Spencer had was either for Sammy or along his developmental path. Spencer waved Jack in with the bags in his hand.
"We'll go and set up in the kitchen. When Sammy gets done playing the piano, I'll introduce you, how does that sound Jack?" Spencer was half distracted as he tried to figure out something inside the house to give Jack. He thought about adding a book or thirty on social gifts between friends and family and the like. He cursed his thoughts for telling him that it wasn't needed when he joined the team. He should have also looked into when it was important to bring a gift for a boyfriend's child. Spencer stopped halfway across the kitchen and thought about that for a second. He wasn't even sure what to call the man who was courting him.
Spencer felt Aaron run into the back of him. Aaron neatly sidestepped him and walked to the counter by the fridge. He turned to look at Spencer after he divested himself of the two bags. Aaron looked at him with a curious look on his face.
"Sorry got lost in my head. It's nothing." Spencer tried to wave him off but the bags in his hand stopped him. Spencer moved to the fridge and set his bags down before opening the door. He started to put up the two bags he had taken from Jack. Spencer could feel Aaron's eyes on him. The sound of Sammy playing was still echoing through the house.
"Jack I left the bag you wanted to give Spencer in the car. Do you wanna go and get it?" Aaron said as he handed Spencer three different packs of cheese.
"Okay, Dad!" Jack's quick footfalls told Spencer that the boy wasn't running but walking fast.
"I can't figure what I've done already that has upset you. Normally I can figure it out in seconds but you are wearing your upset and don't know what to do to fix it face."
"It's not nothing." Aaron's hand grabbed Spencer's as he put up a bag of cheese sticks from the bags at his feet. The veggies were in bags from where Aaron had already cut them up. Spencer wasn't sure what they were for because the cuts were not small enough for pizza. Aaron tugged on Spencer's hand when he stood up to look at Aaron.
"You have a present for Sammy and I don't have anything for Jack."
"It's a welcome to the area, welcome to the family, we are happy to meet you present, Spencer. Not a hi I'm your new father's Beau and I don't want you to get upset present."
"Beau?" Spencer asked focusing on that and not the family part or the present. Spencer knew that Aaron meant the BAU family and not the Aaron and Jack family. Aaron smiled at Spencer wrapping his arms around Spencer in a loose hug. Spencer returned it wholeheartedly.
"Well I'm a little old for the term boyfriend and partner is a little too...work for me. Beau is a little old fashioned but I think it fits for us. What do you think?" Aaron pulled back but his arms didn't drop.
"I like it. I like it a lot. I think that I can call you that and be called that."
"Good. And I didn't really spend money on Sammy's present. It's been in storage since I went to England and meet Kate Joyner. I saw a book of sheet music that I had never seen a single song of. Mom had me in piano lessons as a kid and I saw some songs I would have liked to play. When I got home, Haley had got rid of the piano we had. She didn't realize that I even played it. It was usually during sleepless nights."
"Not well and not often. Dave has a piano. It's more for show than anything else. After Haley died, I sat up one night that Jack sacked out after dinner and played the whole night."
"I bought an electronic keyboard after the case with Sammy. It kind of helped my migraines. The stress release was more the help than the playing but the playing was the method."
Jack's footfalls started down the hall and stopped before he got to the kitchen. Spencer realized that the piano wasn't being played anymore. Spencer turned to see Sammy right there in the door looking kind of at Spencer and Aaron.
"Sammy, come on in. Do you remember Agent Hotchner?" Spencer asked.
Sammy walked toward where Aaron was standing instead of Spencer. His eyes darted to Aaron's face and back before looking at Spencer. Spencer saw his hand twitch in the yes sign. Spencer smiled.
"That's good. And this is Agent Hotchner's son, Jack." Spencer said as Jack sidled up beside his father. Jack didn't offer his hand but he did wave.
"Hi, Sammy. My name is Jack. Dad says that you are really smart and know how to play the piano. I don't know how to play the piano but I have asked Daddy to teach me. He says that he knows enough to play horrible music. Do you think you can you play a song for me? I've never watched anyone play." Jack turned and looked up at his father. "Can I get the present for Sammy and give it to him?"
"Yes, Jack." Aaron's voice was a little different than it normally was. Jack moved over toward the island and Spencer saw the simply wrapped package. He watched as Jack carefully pulled a stool over to in front of Sammy before he went back and grabbed the package. He set the package on the stool and backed into his father's arms. Sammy touched the paper and Spencer saw that the least amount of tape had been used on it.
Sammy took his time as he loosened each edge of the tape before starting to lay it flat. Sammy flipped the book over and looked at the cover, his fingers tracing the words. He opened the cover of the book and looked up at Aaron before closing it and snatching it up to his chest. Sammy turned to leave but stopped and turned around. He stared at a spot just above Aaron's left shoulder and raised his free hand up to his mouth and nearly touched it with his open, flat hand before tilting his hand down and out a little in the sign of thank you.
Spencer felt a swell of pride because Sammy's parents had only taught him yes and no but thank you was the first one that Spencer had been trying to get Sammy to learn. It was the first time he had used it without Spencer prompting him. Sammy reached out with that hand and pulled on Jack's sleeve, tugging until Jack followed him.
"See, they will get along just fine," Aaron murmured once the two boys were out of earshot.
"I'm less worried about Jack and more worried about Sammy. Jack is the first kid that I have had around him."
"I let Jack know that he wasn't allowed in Sammy's room at all. He knows and will stay out. He also knows not to go into the office. Now, do you have a platter we can put the veggie on? Jack's going through a growth spurt and he gets hungry a lot. I have a covered dish that I put the veggies in at home and he gets into them when he wants a snack. That's why I brought them. About an hour and a half after he gets done with pizza he is going to want something to eat again. When you came to the office to discuss a few cases with the attorneys over the secure video line, you were muttering about what you had in the fridge and what you needed to pick up. You have carrots and apples for Sammy but Jack doesn't like carrots raw. So I picked up things that Jack likes."
The sound of the piano picked up again and it wasn't a song that Spencer knew.
"You haven't been very talkative this week in texts. Thankfully I know Spencer speak to understand what you mean. Have things been good?"
"As good as can be expected. Sammy is trying and while we've had a few ups and downs, it's been good. He starts school next week and I think that getting back into a good routine with it will help him. The Headmistress at New Haven is looking forward to having him start. They have a really good piano teacher and all of the teachers in the school have gone through training and classes on dealing with Autistic children. Sammy will be the seventh in the school but as far as on the spectrum, he's the highest."
"How is he settling in with a new routine?" Aaron asked as he took Spencer's hand and led him to the island to sit down. Aaron pulled the stool that Spencer was going to sit on a lot closer to him before Spencer sat down. The only way to sit comfortably was to slip one of his legs between Aaron's.
"Good. I kept it as close as possible to what he had with his parents but I think that he's been without one for so long he's clinging to anything." Spencer turned his head to look at the doorway, expecting Jack to come running in and saying that he was bored. Watching someone play the piano was not very entertaining for a child like Jack who was used to moving around.
The entire relationship was going to be based on whether Jack could handle it. Spencer was under no illusions that if Jack hated Sammy or got bored too often that Aaron would stop coming around. It could die before anything could actually start.
"Hey, where did you go?" Aaron asked, reaching out to tilt Spencer's face to look at Aaron's face.
Spencer tried to tip his head away but Aaron's hand turned to where he was gripping Spencer's chin. Spencer dropped his eyes instead. He saw the brief flash of uncertainty in Aaron's eyes as Spencer dropped his eyes. Spencer felt his lips turn into a frown. Aaron cupped the sides of his face, his thumbs tracing just under Spencer's eyes.
"Don't cry," Aaron whispered. Aaron's fingers spread the tears that were leaking from Spencer's eyes. "Tell me what I can do to help."
"I'm just overly emotional with everything, that's all," Spencer said. He tried to pull his head back so he could wipe the tears but Aaron's hands were like vice grips on his face. "Really, Aaron. I'm fine."
"No, you had a thought and it bothered you so much that you started to look sad."
"It's nothing you can do to fix, Aaron. Time will just have to play out." Spencer still wasn't looking at Aaron but he allowed the man to pull him up a little. He expected to feel a kiss on his lips but instead, his head was tucked into Aaron's shoulder. Aaron's arms wrapped around him in a hug that was too tight but Spencer said nothing. It felt like that night standing over the grave that Spencer had just dug.
"I don't hold the illusion that I can fix everything, Spencer but a burden shared is a burden halved. I want to comfort you. I want to make you happier. We are going into this relationship with too many years knowing when the other is lying or trying to cover up things. Tell me what's wrong, please?"
"I know," Aaron murmured.
"If he hates this, hates being forced to spend time with Sammy. If he hates that Sammy does nothing but play piano, Jack will get unhappy. If Jack's unhappy, this will end."
"Fear is a mind killer, Spencer."
Spencer jerked back out of Aaron's loose hold and stared at the older man. Aaron was smiling.
"I do read."
"Yes, spy novels. You don't read cop books because it's too close to real life but you do adore spy novels. You have never read a science fiction book that I have ever seen or a fantasy one."
"I should have picked up a science fiction books years ago. You read a few spy novels to have something that I liked besides law to talk to be about. I should have extended it."
"It took me a day to read those books, Aaron. It would take you longer." Spencer tried to reason it off but the look on Aaron’s face told Spencer that he wasn't going to win it. "It was nothing."
"No, it was you trying to extend an olive branch to me and I didn't see it for what it was until way too late. You learned the rules of baseball to give yourself something to talk to Morgan about. You even went duck hunting with Dave once. While he doesn't speak of it often, Dave was very happy with you doing it. You and JJ have Henry to talk about. You and Prentiss have too many things that you can talk about. You even learned about...knitting was it for Anderson?"
"No, it's not because no one else really takes the time to learn anything for you. I wanted to surprise you, so I checked out the entire series written by Frank and finished the last one three days ago. Even with the heavy emphasis on the politics of the universe, I did enjoy them. I don't know if I want to read the series that was continued by the son but I'll see."
"I have all of them. You don't need to borrow them from the library." Spencer knew that Aaron was allowing the change in topic for now but he would go back to Spencer's fears soon enough.
"I usually start the dough early and pre-bake it before allowing Jack to add anything to it. He hates the feel of the dough on his hands, so I handle that alone. Do you want to help me?"
"Sure. It's been years since I have made fresh pizza dough. There is a store close to my old apartment that bakes up various size doughs for their pizzas and you can buy them and make your own at home. I did that all the time."
Aaron leaned in and gave Spencer a quick, chaste kiss. Spencer frowned and Aaron leaned in again but he didn't let the kiss turn anything more than that.
"I still can't taste you?" Spencer asked.
"I said after the second date and that it was a maybe. I have a strong will, Spencer and I want to do this right. I want this to be my last relationship of my life."
Spencer had to look away from Aaron at that. He had said it before but to Spencer it was daunting. Spencer had never had a relationship before, not anything that was serious at all. To go from that to a relationship that was already serious before they even started to date was a big step. Spencer wanted it though. He wanted security, he wanted consistency.
"I do, too."
"Good. Now, let's see about making pizza." Aaron gave Spencer one last kiss before he pulled away and stood up. Aaron held out his hand and Spencer allowed himself to take it. "So I bought new pans for your house. Mine are older and it just made sense. If Sammy likes it, you can make them without having to mess around and try on something else. I also bought a lot of toppings. You generally don't get anything other than pepperoni and sometimes ham but I know that you don't get adventurous on cases after that one time where we all got sick."
"Yeah, I tend to stick to tried and true things but I think that I can be adventurous today."
"Good." Aaron started to assemble the ingredients that they needed. Asking for Spencer to grab things and asking where certain items were. Spencer had never smiled so much while making food in his life. Aaron touched him all the time, every time that the older man passed him as they worked.
Jack stayed entertained with watching Sammy play his new music and after a while, he and Sammy even played scales together.
"You know, that is something I can get used to."
"I'm trying to look into soundproofing to at least cut off the sound from getting upstairs but yeah. I like it. Sammy also likes to watch TV. I have a Netflix account so that he can watch what he wants. Three hours yesterday he entertained himself that way in my bedroom while I was working in the office. He's pretty good at entertaining himself. He likes to be near so I figure when I am in the office, he'll be in my bedroom. So far it's good."
Spencer looked up at Aaron and the huge smile that was on the man's face. Spencer hadn't seen him smile like that since Jack had been born.
"I look forward to getting to know Sammy," Aaron said and Spencer believed it to the core. Aaron would never lie about something like that. It's part of what attracted Spencer to him. It was way too early for other words, for four-letter words that Spencer was pretty sure he was feeling. That would come later when they were both less unsure of everything and more secure in their now new relationship.
Time would bring everything and Spencer was looking forward to it.