It had been a month since Maeve died, a week since Will had. JJ and Spencer sat on his couch, both facing forward, coffee mugs in their hands. Silent. Spencer, still in his robe and pajamas looked over at JJ as he lifted the cup to take a sip. "Can I take your coat?" he offered, voice flat.
JJ stared straight ahead. "No."
Spencer set his mug down and got up, scuffing down the hallway to the bathroom. He ran the faucet and splashed cold water on his face, looking into the mirror for the first time in a few days. He regarded his scruffy beard and tangled hair and grimaced, then shrugged. Fuck it.
He went back into the living room and JJ hadn't moved. She sat there like a lonely black bird, swathed in her dark trenchcoat and wool hat. He wished she'd leave. There was barely room in his apartment for his own grief, let alone hers.
Spencer hadn't gone to his funeral. He supposed he had cared about the man once, but since Maeve was murdered, he didn't care about anything. Anyone. The last thing he needed was another reminder of death. From the looks of things, JJ had come over straight from the graveyard. He knew why she did. He knew that she needed to be near someone who understood. Someone who was feeling like she was. Spencer wished it wasn't him… would give anything if he didn't know exactly what she was feeling at that moment.
He felt the now-familiar knifelike pain in his chest and breathed in sharply. He walked over to his bookshelf and got down a slim volume, bringing it over to the couch and handing it to JJ. She looked up at him and her stricken face made him cringe inwardly. Yeah, he knew that look.
JJ stared at the book for a second or two before setting down her coffee and taking it from him. She looked at the title, Tear Soup, and tried to hand it back to him. It looked like a children's book. It wasn't.
"Take it home, JJ," he said. "It'll help."
"Spence I don't think Henry…" she began.
"It's not for Henry, it's for you. Trust me." he said, unsmiling.
JJ looked at it again, then clutched it to her stomach, leaning forward. She stood suddenly, and said "I should go."
Spencer just nodded.
"Thanks for the coffee… and this."
"Sure," he said.
JJ moved to hug him awkwardly, and irritated, he went through the motions of lightly putting his arms around her, then let go. She looked up at him once more, her dry eyes searching for… what, exactly? He didn't know. Didn't want to.
She walked stiffly to the door, and Spencer leaned down to open it for her. Their hands met on the doorknob and as Spencer touched her tiny, cold hand he felt tears spring to his eyes. Ugh, not again, he thought. He tilted back his head, hoping JJ wouldn't see and quickly opened the door. She turned to look at him one last time and saw his tears fall.
"Spence," she whispered, tilting her head and reaching for his arm.
He sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve, wiping his eyes dry in the process. "It's okay, I'm alright, I'm fine," he said, his voice shaky. God he just wanted her to leave.
She dropped her hand and as she turned to go Spencer noticed all the color drain from her face. "I'll call you," she said, as he watched her retreating back, he lightly closed the door behind her.
He moved to latch the deadbolt when he heard something heavy drop in the hallway. He opened the door and saw JJ on the floor, a lump of loose black cloth.
"JJ!" he yelled. He hurried to her side and knelt down, picking her up. God she was so light, she weighed next to nothing in his arms and he carried her back inside and laid her on the couch. He sat next to her and felt her pulse. It was strong, but she was so incredibly pale. He patted her cheek and then caught his breath as her huge blue eyes fluttered open, swimming for a moment and then fixing themselves on his own.
"Spence… wha-" she said as she quickly tried to sit up, then slid back down saying "Whoa… dizzy."
Spencer patted her hand and asked her "When's the last time you ate anything, Agent Jareau?"
She looked at him guiltily. "Uh, I've pretty much been… living off of coffee the past few days… I don't remember…"
"Spence, I'm sorry, I should go." She said, starting to get up again.
Spencer sighed. "JJ, you aren't getting off this couch until you've eaten something. I've got some crackers around here somewhere, and I'll make us both some soup. Just sit. SIT!" he ordered, as she tried to stand up again.
JJ complied, grudgingly. "At least let me help with the…" she started.
"Sit," he said, softer now. He moved to the kitchen, silently heating up some canned soup for the both of them. He got the crackers down and set them on a plate.
JJ watched him, thinking how like an old man he looked. He moved so slowly, deliberately, like every motion was painful.
He brought the food over to the couch and they ate in silence. When she was almost done he looked at her. "Feeling better?" he asked.
She nodded. "Much. Thank you, Spencer."
He nodded back. "Give me a minute to dress and I'll drive you home," he said.
She started to protest and he wouldn't have it. "Look JJ, it wouldn't do for you to pass out again while driving. It's not happening, alright?" He looked directly at her.
She took a breath and looked back at him. It felt like looking in a mirror. The dark circles, the sunken cheeks, the emptiness in his eyes… so familiar. Despite how numb she felt on her own behalf, she felt such empathy for him… for his loss.
He saw what she was thinking and it was unwelcome. He got up abruptly, saying "I'll be right back."
He went to his room to throw on whatever was clean and thought about what had just transpired. Who was she to feel sorry for him? He didn't want any of that and she'd better not… but then he saw her crumpled in a tiny heap in the hallway again and his agitation vanished. God, poor JJ. She was going through exactly what he was. Looking after herself was the last thing on her mind and he could immediately relate to that. He walked back out to the living room fastening the last of his shirt buttons and… saw no one.
He looked at the coffee table and there scrawled on a napkin in lipstick was one word – Sorry.
Damn. He hurried to the door and looked out but she had gone. He closed the door and moved slowly to lie down on the couch. He took a throw pillow and hugged it to himself, curling his legs up in the process. Spencer lay like that a long time, until the afternoon shadows lengthened across the room, the light growing dim.
"He knows. It's the one thing you can never take from us."
*BLAM* and she's dead. He runs to her, cradles her. Her limp, lifeless body warm in his arms. His knees soaked in her blood. He's crying, crying so hard he can barely see. Holding her against him, his face in her hair.
"Spencer… Spencer…" He hears her voice. But she's, no, she's in his arms and he turns his head and sees…
Diane. Diane in Maeve's clothes. Standing behind him, using Maeve's voice. He looks down. Maeve. Her eyes look up at him. "You're too late," she says, her voice like soft water. She melts. She becomes water and dissolves and Spencer looks at his hands, wet with her. And Diane laughs. She laughs louder and louder until-
"Ahh-hhh! No… NO!" Spencer wakes himself up screaming. Not for the first time. He looks around, sweating, afraid, gasping for air, his heart racing, his stomach in knots. He sits up on the couch in the dark, trying to get a handle on his agony, his pain. He can't. He looks around and shouts GOD NO! FUCK! NO! AUGHH! to nobody. He reaches out and shoves the stack of books off the coffee table in front of him, the antique crystal fruit bowl going with it and listens with satisfaction as it shatters on his wood floor. He kicks the coffee table over onto its side and throws himself back against the leather couch. Again and again he rocks, slamming himself against the back of it, the heels of his hands jammed into his eyes. He's crying now, his sobs loud and he can't catch his breath.
BAM BAM BAM Someone's here. Someone heard. Spencer gets quiet. BAM BAM BAM again on the door…BAM! BAM! BAM!
"Kid, I'm comin' in man! Don't MAKE me break it down – you KNOW I will!"
Spencer's hand is over his mouth, he hastily wipes his face, his eyes. "GO AWAY MORGAN! FUCK OFF!"
Morgan hears. He's on the other side of the door and he knows he has to get to his friend, his little brother. He lays his head against the door and closes his eyes.
Just then Spencer opens the door wide. He stands there looking like a creature wild, a… Yeti. His hair sticking up everywhere, haloed around his red, angry face, his scruffy unkempt beard and robe, his feet bleeding from the broken crystal he's just walked through… He looks like an ersatz religious figure.
Morgan moves through the door and picks up the lanky man in one swift move, Reid fighting him, hitting him. Morgan carries him into the kitchen and sits him on the counter without a word.
Reid shouts "You fucking asshole! What are you doing? Go home, get the hell OUT of here! Sonofabitch! Leave me alone!"
Morgan looks at him. Raising his finger, he points at Spencer, his head tilted in warning, his eyebrows arched.
"NO! You SIT your narrow ass down, Reid! You stay there, you hear me? STAY THERE!"
Spencer glances down at his bleeding feet, not caring. He moves to get up and Morgan strides over, planting a muscular arm on either side of the slight doctor. He looks him dead in the eye and repeats, though quieter now, "Stay. There."
Spencer grits his teeth and lunges at him, throwing his full weight against Morgan and knocking him down. Reid was thin, but tall, and his bones dense. He wasn't as light as Derek had anticipated.
Morgan fell back, hitting his head on the cabinet and trying to grab Spencer's flailing arms. It hurt but all he cared about was getting the younger man to calm down, to stop. Spencer swung at him, hitting him in the arm, the face. Derek grabbed his fist as it swung again and said "ENOUGH!"
Spencer sagged against the stronger man, his anger spent. Derek lifted him back up and roughly deposited him on the counter. He looked at his friend, understanding. He watched Spencer as his shoulders sagged, his face a mask of pain, and Morgan slowly put his arms around the sad, sad man in front of him. Spencer hid his face in Derek's shoulder, sobbing quietly, and Derek just letting him. After a time, he didn't say a word, just handed a roll of paper towels to Spencer, then went to the bathroom and got band-aids for his feet.
"Damn, boy, you got a mean punch," was all he said as he bandaged his friend's damaged feet. He washed off as much blood as he could see, and made sure there was no glass still stuck anywhere. "And you get to do that exactly once." as he applied the final band-aid.
Spencer looked at him, his face blank. "Thanks Morgan." he said. He folded his arms in on himself as he walked slowly back to his room. He turned back once as he moved into the hallway and looked at Derek.
"I'll see myself out," Morgan said. Spencer nodded and continued down the hall into his room.
Morgan had no intention of leaving that night. The couch would be his bed. He looked under the sink for a whisk broom. He couldn't find a dustpan so he used one of Spencer's books to scoop up the crystal shards.
He made himself as comfortable as he could, one ear listening all night for any help his young friend may need. He'd be damned if he let Spencer go through this alone.
Spencer sleepily went to open his door. "What now?" he thought, irritated. It was early and he was still tired and didn't want to see anyone anyway. He leaned his head against the door, letting his arms dangle. "Go A-WAY." he said, loudly.
"But I've come so far," a soft, feminine voice replied.
He straightened, his spine stiff as a board.
"Are you gonna let me in? I brought Solaris-"
Spencer flung open the door, letting it bang against the other side. He stood there, smelly and scruffy, with bloody bandaids on his feet and his teeth unbrushed.
She stood there, her hands in her coat pockets and her Emilyface and her bangs, and he burst into tears at the sight of her.
She was prepared and she went to him, arms around him in an instant. Spencer gripped her for dear life as he cried. He couldn't believe she was here, that she'd come.
Prentiss reached behind her with one hand and closed the heavy wooden door, as her ride, one Jennifer Jareau, slipped silently away on little cat feet.
"Shhh," she said as she held him, rubbing his back. "Reid, Reid… it's good, it's okay… c'mon let's go sit, come on…"
They moved to the kitchen table, Spencer still not quite believing she was here. They sat across from one another and Emily took his hand, looking into his red, teary eyes. He grabbed her other hand too and said "Emily, do you, did you hear?"
"I came as soon as I heard. I was on assignment Reid or you know I would've been here so much sooner." She looked into his eyes and moved her head in that sincere way she had and he was just so glad to see her! "JJ couldn't reach me until last night… I flew out on the next plane. Are you okay?"
The loaded question left him tongue-tied. No, he wasn't okay. He was alive but he couldn't cross the room without crying or beating on something. He couldn't sleep because of the nightmares and he… ached for her. For Maeve. It had been a month and it was like no time had passed. He felt like a raw, open wound.
Once he started telling her all of it, it was like a floodgate opened and he couldn't stop. He got up and started pacing, forgetting his torn feet as he paced and told her the entire story. How he and Maeve had met, their courtship of letters and phone booth calls, their shared passion for literature, science… everything about her stalker. He told her how they finally felt they should meet, then didn't, then did. And how it was their first and last.
Emily sat transfixed and just let him go, let him tell it all. She watched him as he told his story, asking little questions here and there, but mostly just… listening. She watched him as he paced, sat down, got up and paced again and her heart went out to her friend. This special, sweet, gifted oddball that she'd always been close with and, she felt guilty. Guilty that he'd been so flattened, so devastated and she hadn't been here for him.
She always had been before. Randall Gardner, Benjamin Cyrus, she'd covered him when he bravely talked down Owen, all alone and unarmed, she knew about his headaches when nobody else did… but she hadn't been there this time. And the team had lost. Reid had lost. And it was probably the most important thing in the world to him.
Spencer stopped talking and kind of sagged, leaning forward, his arms on the kitchen table. He looked up at his friend's face, god how he missed her. "Emily it's not getting any better. And I hate everyone and I just want them to leave me alone but they won't and-"
She reached again across the table and took his hands in hers. "Reid, they love you. They want to help. I'm here, I want to help. Do you hate me?"
He looked at her and tilted his head, his eyes softening. "No. I've missed you so much." He said truthfully. "But if you were still here? Yeah, I'd probably be hating you too right along with everyone else.
She smiled at that, at his honesty. "And JJ?" she asked.
He stiffened. "What about her?" he asked flatly, averting his eyes.
"What's going on there?"
He looked at the wall, his expression blank. "Nothing. Should there be?"
"Well… you two have always been so close. I thought you'd be there for each other. She says you haven't hardly even spoken since Will-".
"I don't have time for her, Emily!" he burst out. "I can't deal with Maeve and all of this and her grief on top of it too! I can't, I don't have the strength! I don't…" he trailed off.
Emily nodded. "I figured it was something like that. Did you ever stop to consider that helping her with hers might help you work through your own?"
"Whatever. I really don't want to be having this conversation."
Spencer didn't want to tell her that he was angry with JJ. Unreasonably, he knew, and he was ashamed of it, but there was a part of him that blamed JJ. Blamed her for his meeting Maeve in the first place. If JJ had just… come to him… been with him like he had always wanted. If they had been together, he never would have sought out Maeve. Never would have fallen in love with her amazing mind, never would have seen her die. Spencer's analytical mind knew that he was looking for a scapegoat. Someone to transfer the blame to from himself. He knew it, he just didn't care. It was easier to be angry at JJ, than himself.
"That's too bad." She looked down at the table, serious. "Well, I guess I should be going, then."
"What? Why? Spencer looked startled. "You just got here! Emily…"
"Reid I came here to see if I could help. To talk you through some things like we always have, but I don't have much time. If you don't want to hear what I have to say, and don't want to discuss anything with me then… then I'm just wasting both my time and yours."
They sat there in silence, Spencer looking at his hands in his lap. Finally, he said "You know what would really help me right now?"
"The best sci-fi meditation film of all time."
"In the original Russian?" she answered, her voice quiet.
"That's the only way to watch."
"You got popcorn?"
"I think so."
"You'll talk to me after?"
"You're on, handsome."
JJ sat in her house. She wanted to go outside, but she didn't… couldn't. It was wonderful seeing Emily again, she just wished she could be happier about it. Henry sure was glad to see her… Henry. She'd just told him a little, how daddy went away for a while. She wanted to establish their own routine before telling him that he was never coming back.
Spence. She had called Em every day, trying to get in touch and tell her what had happened to Spencer. She knew she would come. And then it had happened to her too. To Will. "Line of duty" and all that. Cops risk their lives every day. He was… gone because of it. He was gone.
She thought she'd cry more. She thought she'd be more emotional. Instead she felt numb. Like she was all filled up with cotton inside, everything muted. She wanted to be with Spence, because he of all of them knew, could understand. But he didn't want her there. He didn't want anyone, it seemed though, most of all, he didn't want her. She didn't know why, but she wouldn't force it. She'd just help him. Getting Emily for him, making sure to keep Hotch informed about how he was doing, making sure he had food. It seemed like he was so much worse off than her, emotionally.
A part of her knew she was sublimating. Like it was all just too much for one month and her brain, her heart, was protecting her by going numb. But she wondered if she'd ever feel anything ever again. She jumped as her phone went off. Emily.
"Hey, how's Spence?" she asked, immediately.
"He's as good as he can be at the moment. We're watching Solaris and I took a minute to come call you from the bathroom."
"The bathroom, huh?"
"We'll be about another 2 hours or so. Then I think you should come over."
"Emily… he really doesn't want me there. He hasn't been overtly rude or anything, just always seems relieved when I go."
"JJ, I don't think Reid knows what he wants right now, and what he does think might not be the best thing for him. It's been a month. I know everyone grieves in their own time, but he needs to let us in a little more. The only way that's going to happen is if we push."
"Alright, well I'm going to try to get outside for a long walk, then I'll come over, if you think it'll help."
"Good. See you soon."
Emily walked back into the front room and Spencer said "How's JJ?" without taking his eyes off the screen.
"Busted." she admitted.
"When's she coming?" he asked.
"She'll be here in a few hours. I thought we'd finish the movie."
"Why don't you finish, Emily?" He handed her the remote. "I'm gonna go take a bath."
"But –" she began.
"I've seen it 13 times. I know what happens." He said, shrugging.
"I'm going to order food, then. I'm hungry."
Spencer shrugged again.
"Chinese?" she asked.
"Sure. No chopsticks for me."
Emily watched him go. Saw his slumped shoulders and understood. Something like a movie can only take you out of your pain for a little while, and he was at his limit. JJ had emailed her the scans of his and Maeve's letters and she had seen the depth of what they felt for each other, the way they had perfectly understood one another. Poor Reid.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. Yep, she still had her favorite Chinese takeout on speed dial. As she waited for them to answer she thought how much she missed these people, this town, this life. She always felt so needed here…
JJ walked. And walked. Her stylish yet affordable boots kicking the dry leaves in her path, or stepping on them. She loved the crunch. She looked up at the bare boughs, breathing in the crisp air, feeling the cool, light breeze toss her hair. She was amazed at how focused she could be on these inconsequential things, how much satisfaction they gave her, while what was really important, she was numb to. Jennifer was no dummy. She knew she wasn't going to get off scot-free with this, and that her grief would hit her – probably very hard in the coming weeks – but right now? She was almost… enjoying her solitude.
Her sadness was there, scratching at the edge of her consciousness. She could sense it, feel it, but she could also ignore it, and she was grateful for that. Will's death, his sudden, violent death, was horrific. So why wasn't she feeling the horror?
Her thoughts turned to Spence. Her amazing, brilliant friend. She missed him. And this was an emotion that she did own. They had grown apart since Emily's faked death and re-emergence. Things had never been the same since then. He glossed over it, for the sake of the team, but he had never really come fully back. They'd never gotten back to the special rapport, the trust… that had been broken with that fiasco. Everyone had understood. The deception had been necessary to protect the team. All but him. He had never really forgiven her. And she had married Will.
Part of her had to wonder if it was payback, now. If he was being cold and distant because he wanted her to feel what that was like, from him. She doubted it, though. He didn't have a vengeful bone anywhere near that body. Sweet, kind, dear man. God what was he doing in this life, this job?
JJ shook her head to clear it, and looked up. She opened her mouth in surprise as she found herself in front of his apartment building. She glanced up at the second story window and there he was, his hair still wet from his bath, looking down at her.
They stared at each other for what must have been five full minutes. JJ finally noticed her hands were freezing. She put them in her pockets and, never breaking eye contact, shrugged. He tilted his head down towards the door, beckoning her in with that slight gesture, and she moved then, obediently coming in and climbing the steps to his place, his home, feeling somewhat welcome here for the first time in a very long while.
Spencer came out of his room dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, running his hand through his wet hair.
"JJ's here," he said as they heard her knock.
Emily went and opened the door and JJ walked in, squeezing Em's arm as she walked by her. She went to stand in front of Spencer, meeting his eyes again. He reached up and pulled a bit of leaf from her hair and showed it to her. She smiled softly and started unbuttoning her coat.
"Chilly?" Emily asked.
"Yeah, but nice." JJ answered, looking over her shoulder at Emily. "Have I told you just how really awesome it is hearing your voice in the same room?"
Emily smiled at her and said "Thanks, but don't get used to it, I have to fly back tonight."
Spencer's head jerked at that, and he looked over at her, surprised. "I thought you'd be staying at least a few days…" he said, disappointed.
"Sorry, handsome, duty calls." She walked over to the both of them.
Spencer reached for her, pulling her into a hug and said "You mean you came all this way just for… I mean for…"
"Hey," she said, mock-seriously, fluttering her long eyelashes. "I have my priorities, y'know." She squeezed her slender friend and looked at JJ. "So now that you're here I want to go see the rest of the team before I have to get to the airport. Morgan would kick my ass if I didn't stop in."
JJ smiled and nodded at that.
Spencer said "'Now that you're here?' What's that supposed to mean? I'm not a kid you guys, I can be by myself."
"Spence. We know. She didn't mean anything by it."
Spencer unruffled his feathers, shrugged and said to Em "You want to use my car?"
"Thanks but I think I'll just cab it. I called one right before you came out." She reached for them. "You know I love you both."
They all embraced, and then Emily moved to put her coat on. "Reid will you keep me posted on everything, let me know if you need anything? JJ?"
They both nodded. She picked up her purse and Spencer walked with her to the door, opening it for her. He did his customary little wave and Emily Prentiss winked and blew him a kiss goodbye before disappearing down the stairwell.
"That was… really great seeing her." Spencer said to the closed door, then turned around and looked at JJ. "I take it you arranged it?"
"Guilty," she said, folding her arms and moving to the couch. "Mind if I sit?"
"Actually? I think I'm going to go take a nap. I'm really tired and… so if you don't mind…" He looked back at the door.
"Spence…" JJ started.
"I mean… you know. It was great – I loved seeing her but I really don't have the energy for any more guests today." He put his hands in his pockets.
"Guests?" JJ said, hurt.
"Visitors… you know, whatever." He avoided her gaze.
She looked up at his face. "How about 'friends'? she said.
He cleared his throat and looked directly at her, almost hostile. "Them too, yeah."
She returned his look. "Well, I was hoping for someone to talk to, but I guess…" she leaned down to collect her coat.
"Yeah, sorry I don't feel like being your fallback-boy today."
She stood straight up and looked at him, tossing her coat back on the couch. "Is that what all this is about, Spencer? Is this why you've been barely civil to me this whole week?" she asked, her eyes growing dark.
"Look, I'm tired…"
"So am I! And frankly this is one of the things I'm tired of! I've been mincing around you all month, trying to help you, trying to talk to you, to be there for you – and you've been… you've been –"
"What, JJ? What have I been? he asked softly.
"Well, nothing!" she replied, louder now. "Absolutely nothing, especially since Will died… it's like you're not even there, standing in front of me right now!"
Spencer turned to face her, crossing his arms. "Sorry, Jennifer, that I can't be there for you right now just because your husband died. Sorry that I can't be there to dry your eyes and listen to your tearful, loving memories. Sorry I can't make your pain go away, make it less with cooing words and soft hugs. I'm dealing with a few things myself and I can't take yours on too." He took a breath and set his jaw. "How about you leave now."
JJ was shaking, she was so angry. "You think I want you to console me? You think I want you to take time out from mourning Maeve to soothe my pain, my loss? You arrogant asshole!" She lunged at him, shoving against his chest with both hands, pushing him nearly off his feet and out of her way. She grabbed her coat and flew for the door, turning back to him as she got there. "I have been there every single day for you since your loss! I've done things behind the scenes you never even knew about, and I've been thinking of you almost every single minute of the day! The last thing I wanted was for you to have another burden, Spencer. All I wanted was for somebody to understand!"
Her tears were running down her face as she reached for the doorknob. She started to open the door but then Spencer was there and he slammed it shut.
"It's not the same!" he shouted. "It's not the same thing at all! I never got to really have her! I knew her like I know myself and she was perfect and we were perfect and…" His tears were coming now too.
"Don't you dare compare your loss to mine! They are different, Spencer! Will and I had a family, a son! We've been together for years and – "
"You didn't love him! Not like I loved her! You didn't love him!"
JJ's hand lashed out and slapped him, hard, clean across his face, sending him reeling. She recoiled and put her hand up to her mouth in shock, falling back against the closed door. She felt for the doorknob behind her and turned, flinging the door open and dropping her coat in the hallway in her haste to run, to get out of there. She ran, blinded by tears and nearly lost her footing on the landing.
He caught her, pushing her up against the wall he pinned her shoulders back and held his slender body up against hers as she struggled, bringing her knee up to – "STOP, stop, god JJ stop I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry…"
She stopped struggling against him and felt him sag against her, both of them out of breath. His mouth was at her temple and he was whispering, crying… "I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…"
She brought her arms up against his chest and gripped his shirt, burying her face into him and let the sobs come. Deep, wracking sobs from her very core, and Spencer held her. He held her, rocking her gently on the landing. They stayed that way for a long time, letting all the pain out, feeling everything, and taking comfort in the closeness, the warmth and the nearness and the sheer aliveness of one other.
He went to check on her, making sure she was still asleep. He had carried her in and put her on his bed, getting a blanket and draping it over her, tucking it under her chin. Her sad blue eyes had been on him the whole time. He had reached over and smoothed her hair back from her furrowed brow, and sat next to her on the bed. She was so quiet. He leaned down and said "Rest now, okay?" into her ear before standing up. She had grabbed his hand and squeezed it and a look of understanding passed between them before she closed her eyes.
Jennifer Jareau in his bed. Well that sure as hell wasn't anything he'd ever expected. She just had looked so tiny and sad, and… weightless. She had finally touched him, gotten through his own pain, and now he couldn't believe he'd been so callous before. Of course she was hurting. She could stay here as long as she liked, if she needed to.
She was right, he thought as he peeked in the bedroom door seeing her peacefully sleeping face, he had been an asshole. He wouldn't be again. He closed the door quietly and went to put the kettle on for tea. He thought she'd probably like some when she woke up, and he could use a cup himself. As he turned the burner on he thought about how she had been there for him through all of this. Of everyone he knew, it was JJ who cared enough to put herself in reach for him, every day, even through her own tragedy.
He couldn't believe he had said that about her not loving Will. He shook his head. Even though he'd always harbored a small hope that it was true… he should never have said that out loud. He could blame the grief, but he felt terrible all the same.
"Spence… Spence?" He woke up startled in the darkened living room, Maeve – no, GOD… it was JJ sitting next to him, her face backlit by what little light remained. She rubbed his arm and his eyes swam into focus. He looked at her and quickly sat up, rubbing his face.
"Are you okay, is everything…?" he asked her, his voice hushed.
"Sure. I didn't know if you wanted to continue sleeping or…?"
"No, hey thanks, thanks." He moved to turn on the lamp on the table next to the sofa. "I need to get up."
She looked at him and tilted her head, her hand still on his arm. "Spence, you really don't. You don't need to do anything you don't want to do." She smiled a soft smile. "Thank you for letting me rest here. I was really knocked out. I think those three hours were the most restful I've had since…"
"I'm glad," he said. "Well… not glad glad but…"
She did smile then. "I know what you meant."
Spencer turned and took both her hands in his. "JJ I want you to know that you're welcome here any time. I'm so sorry I've been such a… such a…"
"… man who's suffered a terrible loss consumed with grief and anger?" she finished.
He shrugged. "Yes, there's that, but mostly how I've been behaving. You're right, you've been there for me since the first minute. All I've been to you is… mean."
"Yeah. You have been."
They both quietly laughed at that, and JJ said "You were also right… about a lot of things." She reached up and touched his face where she'd slapped him, the red mark still there. "But that doesn't mean you get to say them to me ever again." She leaned in, and to his surprise planted a soft, tiny kiss on his sore cheek.
"Can we just… can we go from here?" he asked, looking into her tired eyes.
She nodded. "That's what I'm hoping."
Spencer felt hopeful too. For the first time in 36 days, 4 hours, and 17 minutes, he didn't feel like there was a dull, jagged knife in his chest. Emily had been right, as usual. Once he decided to be there for JJ, things would start to get easier for him, too. He could feel it already.
"Can I get you something, you want some tea? It'll only take a minute." He offered.
"I should probably get going. Henry will be calling me from my mom's and I like to sit in his room and read him a bedtime story over the phone."
"Okay, sure, sure, of course…" Spencer was surprised to find himself disappointed. Now that he'd decided he wanted her around, she was leaving.
JJ noticed his hesitation and said "Can I do anything for you, is there something you need?"
He furrowed his brow and looked down at the floor. "Will I see you tomorrow?"
"Count on it."
Now that the barrier had been broken, they spent a lot more time together. In the ensuing weeks they went for long walks, sometimes holding hands, they had a lot of dinners together, and they took in the occasional late movie when one of them couldn't sleep. He showed her The Smithsonian, and that took them the better part of a month, as Spencer had a curator's knowledge of every aspect, every installation in the famous institution, and it made him happy to share it with her.
He went back to work part time, although he wasn't in the field yet, and found a lot of it meditative. At first, every case, every UnSub reminded him of Maeve's death, but he had expected that. It was really good to be doing something useful again. There were still bad, very bad, days for the both of them, but they passed like any other day and he started noticing the world again.
He began to miss JJ when she wasn't around, and they became very protective of each other, almost insular, turning down get-togethers with Morgan or Garcia, preferring instead to keep each other company alone. They told one another secrets they never had, played chess (he always won), and backgammon (she always won, though she suspected he let her – being from Vegas and all), and actually laughed a few times. Spencer started stopping by later in the evenings, so he could hear the bedtime stories, too, and even started reading some to Henry himself.
One night, after Henry had been properly tucked in, JJ went to the kitchen and brought out a bottle of red wine. Spencer looked up from thumbing through a novel JJ had on the coffee table (Why do you read that junk?HEY – I have good taste, step off, genius!), and said "Wow, what are we celebrating?"
"I'm thinking about… coming back to work," she announced, setting down the glasses in front of them.
"Hey!" Spencer lit up, genuinely happy for her.
"Right?" she said, glad to see his reaction.
"No kidding, that's great JJ! It'll be so good to have you back – everyone misses you so much and the office just seems so empty without you there."
"That's really sweet. I won't be in the field just yet, but it'll be good to get back to making a difference, you know? Even a small one."
"JJ what we do isn't small to the people we help. I know you know that." he said.
"I do, I just don't know how much help I'll be in a reduced capacity."
"You'll get back into the swing… just don't try to do too much at first. It may… stir things up."
"Like it did for you?"
He looked down. "Yeah."
JJ didn't want to think about that. She felt like celebrating, so she handed his glass to him, picked up her own and said "Okay – here's to forging ahead. Remembering and respecting the past, but having the strength to move forward."
Spencer said "Cheers!" As they clinked glasses, and they both took a sip. JJ set down her glass and took Spencer's face in her hands.
"Thank you, Spence, for being here. For helping me to get to this point. For being my dear, darling friend. Through everything."
JJ leaned over and touched her lips to his. Just a delicate, soft kiss, but it caught him off-guard and he spilled a little wine in his haste to set it down. Spencer felt her warm mouth against his and thought he'd never felt anything so amazing in his life. He felt warmth spreading through him and he didn't want her to stop, so he kissed her back, relaxing his lips and letting them slide against hers so softly, tenderly. JJ broke the kiss… both flushed and a little flustered, and looked at him, smiling just a little.
Spencer stood up. "I should go. Sh-should I go?" He asked her, wiping his now-damp palms on his pants, his heart racing.
JJ stood up too, and took his hand in hers, lifting his long, elegant fingers to her cheek. "Spencer Reid," she said softly, looking up at him through lowered lids. "Unless you have somewhere more important to be? I don't want you 'going' anywhere."
Spencer smiled inwardly and thought "Here we go…"