“Why would anyone want to run that much?” Emma asked, munching on her breakfast. It was a sunny Saturday at the park, where Reid, Emma, Ellie and Jack gathered at the table with cinnamon rolls and orange juice, counting the number of times Hotch ran past them.
“Same reason you like horseback riding,” Reid replied.
“How many laps is he at now?” Ellie asked.
“11.43,” Emma said.
“Are you making that up?” asked Jack.
“Maybe,” Emma said with an evil smile. “But how will you ever know?”
Ellie and Jack turned to Reid, who, they were sure, knew exactly how far Hotch had run, down to the centimeter. Reid, however, was watching Hotch talking to a lovely young woman. He seemed to be enjoying his conversation with her.
Jack pulled on his shirt. “Spencer!”
“Huh?” Reid turned to the boy sitting next to him.
“How far has Dad run today?” Jack asked.
“Oh, about… 5.6 miles. That’s about 11 and a half laps.” Reid said, trying not to make it too complicated for the kids. He wondered vaguely why Ellie and Jack were glaring at his daughter.
The Doctor Who theme song started playing in Reid’s pocket.
“Are you kidding me?” Emma cried as Reid answered it. “We haven’t even finished breakfast!”
“Maybe it’s just his mom.” Ellie offered.
Emma scoffed. “Yeah? Is Grandma calling Hotch, too?”
The three children groaned as they turned to see Hotch approaching, talking to someone on the phone.
“Yeah, alright, Garcia.” Reid said.
“We’ll be there as soon as we drop the kids off at Jessica’s.” Hotch said. “Have everyone meet on the plane.”
“Let me guess,” said Ellie. “You have a case.”
“But it’s a Saturday!” Emma cried.
“Bad guys don’t take days off,” said Jack, cleaning up the table.
The looks of betrayal the girls gave Jack were priceless.
Half an hour later, the children waved goodbye to them from Jessica’s front lawn, and Hotch pulled onto the highway toward Quantico.
The two of them were quiet at first, until Reid could no longer hold in his curiosity.
“So, who was that you were talking to?” Reid asked.
“The woman in the park. It looked like you two were having a good chat.”
“Oh, she’s someone I’ve seen around during my training for the triathlon,” Hotch explained. “We were properly introduced today. Her name is Beth, and she’s training for the MS triathlon.”
“That’s this month,” Reid said.
“Mm-hmm.” Hotch said, unsurprised that Reid knew a random date like that.
They didn’t talk much more about it, their minds turning to the case they were about to take on.
“You can’t go!” Emma cried. “You promised!”
“I’m sorry, Butterfly, but I have to.” It pained Reid to hear his daughter so upset, but they both knew he had a job to do.
“I can’t go without you! It’s a Family Ride, and you’re the only family I have!”
Paisley looked a little hurt across the room.
“Paisley, you’re family, too, but you’ve got a big test,” Emma added before turning back to his father. “Daddy, you said you would go on this trail ride with me.”
Reid knelt down. “Emma, the BAU needs my help, and I’ve got to go. But I promise I will do everything I can to get back here in time for our trail ride.”
“And if you don’t?” Emma asked, staring at the buttons on his shirt.
Reid was quiet for a moment, thinking about what to say. Finally, he lifted her face up so that she could see the honesty in his eyes. “If we miss the family trail ride, then we’ll take the first chance we get to go on a different one together.”
Emma nodded. Reid knew it wouldn’t be the same, but any quality time they could have together was worth it.
“I love you, Emma,” said Reid.
“Love you, too, Daddy,” came the reply, followed by a hug and a kiss.
And then she was gone, running to catch up to Paisley, who was halfway to the car.
Reid was startled by his team’s way of greeting. “What’s all this?”
“Uh, your birthday party?” Morgan said.
“My birthday was in October…” Reid said. “It’s January…”
“Yeah, we know,” JJ said. “But somehow, all of us forgot about it, and we felt really bad.”
“Oh, um, it’s all right,” Reid said. “I went to see a movie with Emma and Adam, and then we went out to dinner. It was Adam’s birthday, too.”
“So we bought a cake for nothing?” Morgan asked.
“Well, we’re not taking it back,” Rossi said. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t need an excuse to eat cake.”
“That’s fine,” Reid said. “Let me know how it tastes, because I have to go.”
“Where?” asked Morgan. “What could be more important than cake?”
“A family trail ride with my daughter,” Reid replied. “It’s in two hours, and if I don’t leave right now, we’ll be late.”
The team was speechless as Reid dashed out of the office.
“I don’t know how you guys do it,” said Garcia.
“Do what?” asked JJ.
“Balance parenting and this job.”
JJ and Hotch shared knowing glances.
“It’s never easy to raise a child,” said Rossi.
Morgan nodded. “Speaking of which, I’d better get home before Ellie hides my CDs again.”
Rossi quirked an eyebrow. “Is that her passive aggressive way of saying you’re gone too much?”
Morgan laughed. “She only does it if I take too long to get home after we land.”
“Sounds like you and Reid have similar situations,” JJ said.
“Yeah, I never thought I’d have so much in common with a guy who idolizes Doctor Who and has three Ph.d.’s,” said Morgan, grabbing his stuff and bidding farewell to his team.
“Is no one going to help me eat this?” asked Rossi.
Prentiss walked by at that moment, volunteering herself to eat cake. “Did you know ‘Happy Birthday’ is spelled wrong?”
“Morgan ordered it,” Rossi explained. “Hence the name, ‘Pretty Boy’ instead of Spencer. You should have seen the bakers laughing when I picked it up.”
“Yeah, it looked a lot like that.” Rossi opened the lid, and started cutting pieces for himself, Prentiss, Hotch, JJ, and Garcia. “Who wants the P in pretty?”