Fran Morgan loved her children.
She loved Desiree for all her sweetness. Des had a crush on a guy at her work named Thomas Marcum, though she didn't know her mother knew. Recently, Tom had invited Des to the movies with him and his friends and Des had come back beaming like a child on Christmas. Without asking, Fran knew Tom had kissed her.
She loved Sarah for her outspoken attitude. Fran knew Sarah had gotten a promotion before she ever opened her mouth. She knew Sarah was upset that she couldn't find a good man, though she would never admit to it. Fran loved her free spirited daughter; so strong and capable, but so lonely.
She loved Derek for just being Derek. She had known Derek was different for years now, even though she also knew that Derek didn't know how different he was. She had known the day he started telling her about his team in the FBI, the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Her baby liked boys; or at least, one particular boy.
But Derek's life had never been easy. He watched his father be killed right in front of him, got involved with the wrong gangs, was constantly hounded by the police, injured his knee and lost his scholarship…She also knew that something bad had happened when he was a teenager, though she was waiting for Derek to tell her what it was. He never did. Fran had been so happy when Derek joined the FBI; because Derek seemed happier since he joined the FBI.
He probably didn't even realize it himself, but Derek talked about Doctor Spencer Reid every time he spoke with his mother or his sisters about work. Emily Prentiss was the newest member, the daughter of a diplomat who spoke several languages. Aaron Hotcher was a father in real life and the father of the team, and they would all lay their lives on the line for him, as he would for them. Jennifer Jereau was the liaison who could outwit any reporter and convince people to do things they never would have agreed to otherwise. Jason Gideon was the best of the best in behavioral analysis, but he was still recovering from a terrible case from several years back. And then there was Spencer Reid.
Reid who had three Ph.D.s, two B.A.s, and was still going. Reid who had an I.Q. of 187, higher even than Einstein. Reid who loved Star Trek and classical music and could read 20,000 words a minute. Reid who did magic tricks to stop a schizophrenic on a train, who almost single-handedly stopped a sniper from killing everyone in a hospital, who took down an armed stalker with no weapon, who figured out an impossible riddle and saved a girl from burning to death, who saved countless people's lives. Reid who had a schizophrenic mother he wrote to every day. Spencer Reid, Derek's "Pretty Boy."
He talked about Reid so often that even Sarah and Desiree began to pick up on his feelings. However, the one time Desiree tried to tease him about it, he got almost violently upset and didn't talk to any of them for hours. They only teased each other about it now, when Derek sent home letters or after a phone call when he mentioned the younger doctor.
Fran Morgan wanted to meet Spencer Reid. She wanted to meet the little white boy who'd stolen her son's heart right out from under his own careful watch. She hadn't wanted to meet him under the circumstances she did, however: Derek arrested for murdering young boys in the neighborhood.
When Dr. Reid first entered her house, she hadn't known who he was. Only Agent Emily Prentiss had been allowed to introduce herself before they'd been interrupted.
"Hi, Fran Morgan?" the woman asked. Fran nodded. "My name is Emily Prentiss and this-"
"Just let us in, Fran," Detective Dennison interrupted. "It's about Derek."
"Oh, come on in then," Fran said hurriedly, moving aside. "Do you work for the police?" she asked as they filed into the house.
"Actually, no," Emily stated, stopping in the middle of the living room and turning back to face Fran. "We're coworkers of your son. We're with the FBI and we're trying to clear his name."
"Is that cake?" the younger man with her asked absently, turning toward the kitchen curiously with a slight sniff of the air. Fran smiled.
Desiree gave Spencer a piece of birthday cake. They talked about why Derek had been arrested and what Derek liked to do when he was home. They were trying to prove Derek didn't kill anyone.
Fran Morgan shook her head. "I don't understand how they could think he did this," she said. She needed to know her baby boy was innocent. She needed the world to know it too.
Emily sighed. "Someone…may be trying to make it look like he hurt those kids."
"And the police believe it?" Sarah asked incredulously, her anger shining through.
"Just following the evidence," Dennison mumbled.
"But he's an FBI agent," Desiree countered, her grip on Fran's shoulder tightening ever so slightly.
Emily nodded, opening her mouth to agree, when the younger agent spoke up first. "Actually," he began, "law enforcement officials are just as probable statistically to commit a crime as anyone else, uh…" Emily looked aghast at her colleague, but he didn't seem to notice. "Look at the cross-section of a society there's a general population," he explained further, holding his cake in one hand and making hand motions with the other. Fran propped her head up on her right hand, regarding him curiously as he continued, "and a small fraction of this percentage-"
"He's," Emily interrupted, pointing at her partner as she sat down to be closer to Fran, who turned to look at the older agent, "not actually saying we believe Derek's involved in this," she assured them.
"Oh no!" the younger agent gasped. "Yea, n-n-not at all. I'm merely um…." He waved his free hand around wildly near his chest. "Speaking theoretically."
Desiree let out a light breath. "You're...Doctor Reid, right?" she asked, like everything suddenly made sense.
"Mmhmm," he acknowledged, sounding curious as he ate another piece of cake. Fran smiled up at her youngest daughter and then lowered her eyes to the table to hide it. This was the boy her baby had fallen for: all his nervous energy and social awkwardness, his brains and his sweetness.
Sarah couldn't stop herself from smiling a bit. "Derek talks about you," she revealed.
"He does?" Spencer asked, sounding happily surprised.
And Fran Morgan learned then that perhaps this young doctor loved her baby too.
For the rest of the day, Fran, Sarah, and Desiree played host to the young Spencer Reid. Desiree played with his hair, asking if she could braid it. Fran giggled at the shade of red that took over Spencer's face. Sarah asked about Morgan's behavior at work and what it meant about him as a person.
"Oh," Spencer let out. "We're not allowed to profile each other," he revealed. "It's uh- It's a courtesy. We could profile each other pretty easily, but we respect each other's privacy and do our best not to analyze each other."
"But….That's what you're doing right now, isn't it? Profiling Derek to prove he didn't do it?" Desiree asked, running a brush through Reid's short hair.
Spencer blushed. "Well, yes. We are. That's part of it, sure. But-"
"But nothing," Sarah cut him off with a smile, sitting down at the table across from him with a cup of tea. "Do it. Profile him."
Spencer's blush crept further up his cheeks. "I'd rather not," he said quietly, sinking into the chair a bit further. Desiree pulled him back up so she could keep working with his hair.
"Spencer," she said warningly. "I'll perm you."
"Ok ok!" Spencer caved.
So he told them about how Derek acted at work and how he acted in the field. He said the evidence pointed towards Derek's protective nature toward kids and that he'd probably be a great father. He told them about Derek and the many women around him and how his lack of a relationship pointed toward a fear of commitment, likely stemming from the early loss of his father and or some other important event in his early life. He explained how losing the ability to play a sport Derek loved, coupled with the memory of his father and his experiences as a teenager, had spurred Derek into joining the police, the bomb squad, and the FBI. He told them of Derek's love of dogs and what that said about Derek's perception of loyalty. He tried to explain Derek's anger with male unsubs. He talked about why Derek attended funerals for people he barely knew. In the end, even Fran Morgan felt she'd learned something new about her son from this skinny little boy.
Spencer rifled through their library and talked to Desiree about her favorite books and movies. He discussed politics and medicine with Sarah. He even confided in Fran about his fear that his mother didn't know how he felt about her when Sarah and Desiree went out to buy him some special coffee.
"Mothers know, Spencer," she'd assured him, placing her lightly tanned hand on his pale one. "They always do. In fact, sometimes they know things even their children don't know about themselves." She sighed. "There are some times when we get it wrong, but most of the time..." She squeezed his hand and smiled at him. He managed a small smile back. "We don't need you to say it aloud or write it down to know that you love us. We just know. You say it best when you say nothing at all." She shrugged.
Reid smiled a bit wider. "When You Say Nothing at All by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz," he said. Fran nodded. "Performed by Keith Whitley, Alison Krauss, and Ronan Keating since its inception. It's topped the-"
"Spencer," Fran interrupted gently, and he shut his mouth. "Remember what I said."
Spencer nodded. "When you say nothing at all," he repeated quietly.
Sarah and Desiree came home shortly after that and they all enjoyed the new coffee together. Fran was certain that Sarah was going to be sick when she saw how much sugar Reid poured into his coffee. "You want some coffee with that sugar, Spencer?" Desiree asked with a nervous laugh.
Spencer smiled. "That's what Morgan asks me all the time," he said, as if that was the correct answer. He blinked and shook his head as he finished with the sugar. "I-I mean, Derek. Sorry."
He was in the midst of enjoying his sugary liquid when his phone rang and he had to leave the room. It was already dark by that point, the sun having just set. When he came back in the room, Spencer looked tired and worried as he explained that Derek had escaped police custody and they were looking for him everywhere.
All pleasantries ended. They sat in silence, waiting for a phone call or a knock at the door. Over an hour later, Spencer's phone rang again. He didn't even leave the room, just taking the call right there at the table.
"Reid," he answered. There was a voice on the other end of the line and Spencer looked relieved. "Oh good." He leaned the phone away from his mouth. "They found him." All three women let themselves breathe again. Spencer's expression changed slowly into a frown. "Buford?" He looked about to say more, but his eyes darted to each of the women around him and he shut his mouth, nodding mutely to what the woman on the other end of the phone was saying. A moment later, his jaw dropped and he looked horrified. "Wh-what? J.J. are you sure? Really?" He shut his eyes, his expression pained. "O-o-ok. Th-thanks for telling me, J.J…..Mmhm…Ok…I'll just stay here, k?" His cheeks flushed a bit and he opened his eyes to glare at the phone, though there was no heat. "No, J…J.J. stop laughing at me." He ran his fingers over the braids Sarah had given him several hours ago, his blush deepening. His glare vanished to be replaced by a look of sorrow. "Yea…I know it does….Look," he glanced around at them again, his eyes settling on Fran's face, "I'll talk to you about this later, ok?...Yes….Uh-huh. Ok. Y-yea. Yea I'll see you later. Bye." He clicked his phone shut and slipped it in his pocket. They all stared at him until he finally sighed and lowered his chin to the table top. Sitting up straight he said, "Derek got the unsub to confess."
"He did?" Desiree gasped.
"Who was it?" Sarah asked, sounding murderous. "Who set him up?"
Spencer looked around at them all with sad eyes. Understanding hit Fran Morgan like a ton of bricks. "Carl," she breathed out. Spencer's eyes got ever sadder. "Carl Buford."
"What?" both Sarah and Desiree gasped out loudly. Sarah turned on Spencer. "He didn't!"
Spencer pushed himself out of the chair. "It isn't my place to tell you," he said softly. "If Derek wants to tell you the details….then he will." He lifted his eyes to Fran's. "I'm gonna go sit on the couch."
"Sure, honey. Go right ahead."
Spencer sat on the couch, completely still and staring at the front door, until almost eleven o'clock. When Fran came to check on him at eleven thirty, he was curled up in the crook of the arm of the couch, deep asleep. He'd undone the braids in his anxiety and now his slightly crimped bangs were lying cutely across his face, just over his eyes. Fran smiled and pushed the hair gently behind his ear, revealing the innocent face hidden below.
The front door opened and Fran jumped up. Standing in the doorway, looking more forlorn than she'd ever seen him, was her baby boy. "Derek," she breathed out, rushing over to him. "Oh, we were so worried." She wrapped her arms around him, pressing her face into his shoulder as he held her tightly in return.
"Oh mama…I've got a lot to tell you," he whispered into her hair.
Fran led her son through the living room towards her bedroom, where they could talk in private. Both Sarah and Desiree had fallen asleep over an hour ago, so they wouldn't be disturbed. Fran couldn't help but notice how her son stopped when he saw Spencer on the couch, and how his expression softened a bit at the mere sight of the younger man.
"He's a sweetheart," she whispered, grabbing Derek's attention. He turned a curious look on his mother. She smiled. "He's been here all day, keeping us company and keeping us informed on how the case was going." Derek looked worried and Fran shook her head. "He didn't tell us how it ended. He said you would if you wanted us to know." She inclined her head towards the sleeping man. "Like I said….he's very sweet."
Derek gave a tiny smile in Spencer's direction. "Yea he is, mama."
Fran couldn't keep the soft smile off her face. "Now….you wanted to talk?" she asked, again moving back toward her bedroom. Derek followed.
The news he gave her that night broke her heart. How could she have not known? How had she let that happen? She fell asleep holding Derek in her arms, comforting him as well as herself. When she woke up, her son wasn't there anymore, but she smelled food and figured that one of her daughters had made breakfast and he'd been drawn to it.
When she found Spencer standing over the stove making bacon and eggs, she couldn't look away. Derek was leaning back against the counter looking as at ease as he ever had.
"Never knew you cooked, pretty boy," he teased, laying his hands on the counter top as he leaned a bit closer to the now blushing doctor. "You'll make a lovely wife someday."
Spencer scowled. "Careful. Fire is very unpredictable. Your eggs may burn," he warned.
Derek leaned away, laughing. "Alright. Alright." He pat Spencer on the shoulder and Fran saw the light dusting on the doctor's cheeks. "But seriously. You're a great catch."
Spencer's blush deepened but he inclined his head a bit. "Th-thanks….Derek."
He didn't seem to notice what he'd done, but Derek's eyes widened in surprise and his dark cheeks turned red. Right then and there, Fran knew her baby would be ok. With the people he worked with and with the people he loved, Derek would once again overcome this adversity and become a better person for it. And if he decided to share his life with this skinny little white boy who drank coffee flavored sugar and spouted facts at all hours of the day and was loyal to a fault….well Fran had to say she accepted it wholeheartedly.
Now all they had to do was admit it to themselves and everything would work itself out.