Series: Long Journey
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Sentinel
Category: Established Relationship, Sentinels/Guides, Emotional Whump, Angst,
Pairings: Hotch/Reid, Morgan/Garcia, JJ/Will,
Spoilers: Through Season 10
Summary: Spencer heads to Vegas to see his mom and Aaron follows because he’s worried about his Guide. What he finds there will change their lives forever and not for the good of either of them.
Spencer folded up the letter and shoved it inside his messenger bag. This was coming at the worst time. They had just gotten home from a two week case in Texas and Jack was clingy. He’d read enough of his mother’s letters that he knew that even though she didn’t say there was something wrong, there was something wrong. He spared a few seconds to look up at Aaron’s office. His mother was something that he had never brought up with Aaron.
It wasn’t that he was ashamed of her. What was wrong with her couldn’t be helped, the blame laid solely at the feet of his father. Spencer was protective of her. He had been her sole means of peace for a long time and the only person who cared enough to help her. Trusting anyone with the knowledge of his mother took time. It wasn’t until lately that he thought of telling even his Sentinel about her. First though, he needed to talk to her. Aaron would want to meet her as soon as he found out anything about her and that wasn’t something that Spencer could consent to.
Decision made, Spencer slung his bag strap over his shoulder as he shut down the computer. Aaron was alone in his office so now would be the perfect time. Ignoring the looks from Morgan and Prentiss, he strode up and pulled Aaron’s door shut behind him. His Sentinel looked at him with concern on his face.
“I can’t go into details, at least not yet but something happened back home and I need to go back there for a few days. As soon as I know what’s going on, I’ll call you.”
“Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know yet.” Spencer wasn’t sure what was wrong but he knew that something was. Aaron was looking at him with a great deal of concern on his face. “It’s nothing work related or even Sentinel or Guide related. It’s family.”
“Spence?” Aaron stood up from his chair and Spencer took a step back, causing Aaron to stop his movement. The Guide knew that he was worrying his Sentinel, but he couldn’t take being touched at the moment. If Aaron touched him, he could spill it all and he wasn’t ready for that. He hadn’t stepped back from Aaron advancing on him since they had bonded. The look on Aaron’s face changed from slight worry to scared.
“Please, Aaron. I just need a few days to get it all figured out and then I’ll call you. I promise that it’s nothing that’s going to get me hurt. I just have to deal with some family issues.”
“You’ve never talked about your family, Spencer. Your FBI file doesn’t list any next of kin so excuse me when I worry when you bring up a family issue that you need a few days off for and you don’t want me with you.”
The worry from his Sentinel was washing over him in the bond, but he pushed it off. Once he talked to his mom, everything would be better. He needed to see her and confirm she was all right and then he would tell her that he’d bonded with a Sentinel.
“It’s Tuesday, so if I haven’t heard from you by Friday, I’ll be flying out to find you with the whole team.” Aaron moved around his desk but wasn’t moving closer to Spencer, he just leaned back against the front of it.
“I’ll be fine,” Spencer said with a large smile on his face. Aaron wasn’t going to press the issue, at least not now. When he got back would be another story, but by then Spencer would be able to share it all with him. He stepped up to Aaron, opening his arms for a hug. The older man pulled him into a tight hug before tipping his face up to kiss his Guide.
When Aaron pulled back he spoke. “I’m going to be too far away to rush in and help. Anything looks like it’s going to go pear shaped, you call me. I don’t like you going that far away without me but I understand your reasoning. Just promise me you’ll be safe.”
“I’m going home. Not on a case.” Spencer kissed Aaron a last time before he let go of his Sentinel.
“I know but just be safe.”
Spencer had his go bag and had repacked it the night before so stopping and grabbing it out of the car was simple. Checking his phone for departure times, and he was in luck. He’d just make it on a nonstop to Las Vegas.
Stepping out of his rental, Spencer looked at the front facade of Bennington. It’s where his mother had lived since Spencer had put her in there when he was eighteen. It hadn’t changed at all over the years. He locked his messenger bag in the trunk, carrying little inside. He’d learned it was better.
“Doctor Reid!” One of the nurses called as he entered. Betty was her name and she was his mother’s favorite nurse. “Professor Reid is in the sunroom on the third floor.”
“Thanks, Betty.” Spencer waved at her as he turned to the elevator bank, grabbing a keycard from his wallet. It would allow him access to the same patient areas his mother was allowed. Swiping the card in the elevator it allowed him up to the third floor. When the doors opened, his ears took in the classical music playing from the speakers that lined the halls. It was low so that talking could still happen but loud enough that it wasn’t just complete background music. The third floor housed the patients of the hospital that could move around more and had fewer restrictions. It also had more comforts of home.
“Professor Reid is expecting you, Doctor Reid,” Jeanette said, his mother’s second favorite nurse. He smiled at her as he passed her. The sunroom was his mother’s favorite room and it was rare on sunny days to find her anywhere else.
Diana Reid was curled up in a chair in the room, writing in her journal. Beside her was a box and Spencer knew exactly what it was. It was the box that held his daily letters to her. Spencer hated that he had to put her in Bennington, but it had been for her own good. He’d protected her for eight years while the Consortium did nothing for her.
When his father had walked out of their life it had shattered more than just the bonds he’d had with his wife and his son. It had shattered Diana Reid’s mind. Most of the time she didn’t live in the same reality as the rest of the world and Bennington really was the best place for her. After he’d placed his mother in Bennington, he’d filed papers for her divorce from William Reid. It didn’t take the courts long to grant it given that he had left eight years before and hadn’t been back since. The judge who had made the final decision had been horrified at what Spencer had put up with over the years, but as he had told the judge, he loved his mother and losing him would have killed her.
The matters of the case had been sealed so that no one could access them. He wasn’t even sure that Garcia could. William had been notified but never reached out.
There wasn’t a single thing in the world that Spencer wouldn’t do for his mother and he knew it. He had to keep her safe. He had to find out why she wrote to him about seeing people watching her. She had never been paranoid like that since she’d settled down in Bennington. He had to find out what was going on.
Aaron took in Bennington Hospital. He knew of it from reputation as one of the best Guide hospitals in the United States but he’d never had to visit it before. It hadn’t been hard to follow Spencer from the hotel to the hospital. There was no way to track who he could be visiting at the hospital as the records were sealed. Not even the Consortium could get into those files.
Making himself small in the bond, Aaron settled his nerves and entered the building. He had just crossed the threshold when a voice called Spencer’s name and then she continued to speak when Spencer turned towards her. “Professor Reid is in the sunroom on the third floor.”
Spencer turned to the elevators and Aaron watched as he pulled a keycard from his wallet. Professor Reid? Was that Spencer’s mother? Father? Grandparent? When his Guide was gone from sight, Aaron moved up to the nurse that Spencer had called Betty.
“Regular?” Aaron asked, trying for nonchalant.
“Oh, Doctor Reid visits his mother as much as he can. Writes letters daily to her as well. He loves her very much.” Betty was all smiles.
“Sounds like a wonderful son.” Aaron’s heart clenched. He’d never noticed Spencer writing daily letters to anyone. There was a notebook that he wrote in a lot but that was it.
“He is. Makes sure his mom has everything she can want.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Aaron hated having to ask her but it seemed that Spencer was okay with hiding this from him. He wanted to know what had happened to his mother to cause her to be put in here as well as the fact that it seemed even the FBI didn’t know.
“Her bond with her Sentinel was shattered.”
“Her Sentinel died?” Aaron asked. He didn’t even know that Spencer’s parents had been a Sentinel/Guide pair. If his father had died…that could explain a great deal.
“No. He broke the bond himself when he left the family.” A scream from down the hall had the nurse turning away. “Sorry I need to go.”
Aaron nodded as the nurse turned away from him. He waited until she was out of sight before turning and leaving himself. When he got to his rental car, he just sat there for a long while. Spencer’s father had left him and his mother. Had just up and left. If he had broken his bond with his Guide, he probably broke the bond with Spencer as well. That explained why he could never find the link to him but the bond between Spencer and his mother should have still been active. Unless that bond had severed when his mother’s bond with his father had shattered. The thought of a parent breaking a bond with a biological child was astounding. Aaron wouldn’t ever entertain the thought of breaking his bond with Jack. His son was the light of his life. He couldn’t see Spencer wanting to break his bond with Jack either but Spencer had different reasons.
The hurt was there though. Spencer didn’t trust him with his mother. Yes, his mother had been hurt by her own Sentinel but Aaron wasn’t him. Hadn’t he proved how much he loved him? Sitting in the parking lot of the hospital where Spencer was visiting his mother wasn’t the place for sitting and thinking. The drive to the hotel that his Guide had chosen was quick. He quickly parked and made his way to the room he had chosen. He knew that he was angry. Spencer knew every single aspect of his life. He’d laid it all bare in the months since they had met, but Spencer keeping this from him was horrible.
Spencer had told him parts of his life. Issues with bullies and such due to his intelligence and problems he had with his Guide gifts. Keeping such things about his parents secret though, that wasn’t something that Aaron liked. It meant that Spencer didn’t fully trust him. He really didn’t like that.
“Spencer, you look happier than you have the past few times you’ve come to see me,” Diana said as they settled down for dinner. It had been a good visit so far. Spencer hadn’t brought up the letter or that he was bonded. She always did better talking about things like that while she had something to focus on, like eating. “Don’t lie to your mother Spencer. We always know. You’ve found your Sentinel.”
“Yes,” Spencer said with a smile. He didn’t want to meet his mother’s eyes but he knew that he had to. Her eyes were wary but happy.
“How does that work with the team? I can’t believe that your Sentinel would allow you to go off after the people you do and not go along. Did the FBI place him on your team?”
“No. I actually bonded with my superior, Aaron Hotchner.”
“The stern looking man I have seen on the news?”
“He’s like that for work but he’s not anything like that with me or his son, Jack.”
“Do you get along with Jack?”
“I love Jack. I actually formed a bond with him first. Jack came online at age five when he heard his mother get murdered by a serial killer in their home.”
Diana looked at him with sadness in her eyes. “Oh that poor boy.”
“Around the time that I joined the team, he was having some sensory spikes. He didn’t settle well outside his or his Aunt Jessica’s house and there came a night where Jessica couldn’t watch him and Aaron couldn’t leave work. I offered to watch him. We got along well before that, but this was different. It was just he and I. I showed him how to call his spirit animal. He’d only ever interacted with him around the time of his mother’s death.”
“You played with yours a great deal when your father left. It’s comforting, your spirit animal is something that will never leave you. The single, solitary thing in life that one can count on to always be there. We can’t run from them and we can’t banish them away.”
Spencer swallowed around the lump in his throat. He remembered the nights of finding his mother in bed crying after his father had left, curled around her spirit animal. The great dane had been a staple of Spencer’s childhood.
“You don’t visit without a reason, not without letting me know in a letter first.”
Spencer pulled the letter from his pocket and handed it over. He watched as his mother read over the words. The shock in her eyes told him one thing. She hadn’t written it. Closing his eyes to remember the words, he sighed. Whoever had written it had done it perfectly. He couldn’t find a single word that told him that it wasn’t his mother. The tone, the pace, everything about the letter said it was from his mother.
“Spencer, you told me of the person or group inside the Consortium who is trying to get at you…could this be them?”
“I don’t know. I’ll talk to Doctor Norman and make sure that you are safe. I’ll have a tech at Quantico look at the letter.” Spencer took the paper when it was offered. “Anyone bothers you, Mom, you tell someone. If they go after you…”
“Worry about your Sentinel and Jack. I’ll be safe here, Spencer. You look so happy. When work permits, I’d like to meet your Aaron.”
“Mom…” Spencer wanted that but he knew how his mother reacted around Sentinels, even bonded ones.
“It’s your Sentinel, Spencer. He would never do a thing to hurt you or me. I want to know the man who holds your heart. I see how much you love him.” Diana reached across and laid her hand on Spencer’s wrist. “I can understand if you choose not to bring Jack with you on the first meeting. He’s young and while he’s a child, it might be best to not have two new Sentinels around me.”
“I’ll talk to Aaron when I head home. I’ll stay today in Vegas and head home tomorrow. How about we do a late breakfast on the grounds tomorrow before I head out?”
“That would be lovely.”
Spencer leaned over and kissed his mother on her cheek before he slipped out of the sun room. He found a nurse easily and she directed him to where Doctor Norman was.
“Doctor Reid, Betty told me you were here. Is something wrong?”
“Actually yes. I received a letter from mom but it seems that it’s not hers. It had me worrying about how she was doing so I headed out here as soon as I could. I want to limit her visitors to myself for the next while. The hospital is safe from cops and such but please if anyone from any level of government wants to speak to her, alert me as soon as possible. I’ve been having an issue with some former elements of the Consortium.”
“Yes. I made sure to limit Diana’s television while that horribleness was going on. I’ve had your mother’s visitor list locked to those who have been to visit her before since then. I’ll gladly make sure that all staff is notified of her new restrictions. You are taking this as a threat?”
“Yes. There are not many who know that mom is here and not even the FBI is aware. I’ll be looking into what I can from my end but please tell me if anything happens.”
The knock on the door to his room pulled Aaron from his thoughts. He quickly answered it, worried that Spencer had figured out that he was there. Shocked, he stared at Smythe.
“Agent Hotchner. Welcome to Las Vegas.”
“I alerted the pro…”
“Yes, yes. You and Doctor Reid went through the right channels. That’s not why I am here. I have some information to share.” Smythe gave him a smile and Aaron stepped back to allow her into the room. “Thank you.”
“Say what you will and then leave. I’m getting ready to head home.”
“Actually, it’s just a file. I’ll gladly leave.” Smythe handed over a thin manila envelope before she turned and left. Aaron nearly ripped it open, his anger peaking again. He’d almost gotten rid of all of it and then she had to arrive.
The first page of the file had a memo from a therapist to a man who had been the leader of the Consortium some twenty years back. It described a young Guide who had shown interesting abilities when under hypnosis. Especially given the Guide wasn’t online at that time. He flipped to the next page.
Therapist: Are you comfortable?
Therapist: Tell me about where you are.
Guide: I’m in a backyard.
Therapist: Who is there?
Guide: I’m in a chair and there is a little boy beside me. An older man with black hair is standing in front of me at a grill. To the left is a table with a nice sized group of people. They are laughing.
Therapist: What’s going on?
Guide: The little boy just set down a bottle of water on the arm of the chair. He’s keeping away from me not like he’s scared but like he knows I don’t like being touched.
Therapist: Who is he?
Guide: His name is Jack. The black haired man is his father, Aaron.
Therapist: Where’s the boy’s mother?
Guide: Dead for five years. A man named Foyet killed her. Her death brought Jack online. Aaron had to listen in.
Therapist: Who are they to you?
Guide: Aaron will be my Sentinel. I’ll be bonded with Jack first though.
Therapist: How do you know this?
Guide: I feel it. I can feel the bond between us. He’s in Virginia right now. I can feel him. He’s already married to Haley and working on his law degree.
Therapist: You mean right now in real time not the time in your vision?
Guide: Yes. Right now. I can feel him right now.
This young Guide has shown an ability to see his own future. While what he sees is nothing more than this single event, this cookout that seems to be happening, it never changes. The young Sentinel Jack falls to the ground and the Guide catches him. Given that we can’t contact this Aaron, it’s only supposition that the young Guide can actually feel him but I know of no reason to doubt it. We need to find more Guides of this bloodline or ability level and see if more have this ability and if it lasts for longer than pre-online status.
Aaron dropped the paper to the floor. The Guide had to be Spencer. Given the date he would have been around the age of ten at the time. Burning anger enveloped him and he wanted to push that into the bond. He wanted Spencer to know how angry he was. Instead, he closed certain aspects of the bond. Spencer would be able to feel that he was alive but that would be about it. He wouldn’t notice that unless he actively tried to access anything in the bond. He needed to get out of Las Vegas before he did something that he would regret.
“Aaron?” Spencer called as he let himself into the house. The flight out of Vegas had been delayed in Kentucky due to a malfunctioning part on the plane but a few hours of repair and then it was good to go. He’d texted Aaron but hadn’t heard a word back. That worried him a little. Especially since the house was silent but the car was outside.
Flicking on the light, Spencer stopped at the sight of boxes lining the entryway to the house. Had Aaron decided to do some cleaning while he’d been gone? Setting his go bag down on the floor, Spencer stepped closer to the boxes. There were nine of them. Just past the boxes was a set of luggage. He stopped cold. It was his luggage.
Running to the master bedroom, Spencer shoved open the door, finding what he expected. It looked exactly like it had before he’d come to live with Aaron. There was nothing of his left in the room at all. Spencer pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed Aaron’s phone. It went straight to voicemail. He called the office phone next but it rang until the voicemail picked up. He thought about calling the team but stopped. He needed to figure out what the hell was going on before he worried the team.
Moving back to the boxes he saw a folded piece of paper sitting atop one. Underneath that was a manila envelope. He unfolded the piece of paper and looked over the words.
I couldn’t not worry and so I followed you to Vegas. I had Garcia find out the hotel you were staying in. When you left to visit Bennington, I trailed behind you. I don’t know the reasons behind why you hid the status of your mother from me and now with new knowledge of what led you to me, I don’t want to know.
I don’t want to bring others into this but I will if you don’t remove your things from my house before I return home on Saturday morning. I know that you should be returning sometime on Thursday based on the flight you booked.
Jessica will contact you on visitation with Jack.
Inside the envelope is the paperwork needed to transfer you to wherever you wish to go within the Bureau. I’ve signed off on what is needed. Again, I would prefer to keep the details of my life private, don’t make a scene at work.
Spencer folded the letter and opened the envelope. He found the paperwork but there was something else inside as well. He pulled out a file from the Consortium. He was a few lines into the second page when he realized it for what it was. After his father had left, his mother had gotten him to talk to a therapist so that maybe he wouldn’t come online due to emotional overload. A few of the files had disappeared from his records. This had to be one of them. He finished reading the page, dread filling him. He didn’t remember any of it. The age of the paper was correct for what it should be but he had no memory of a visitation with the therapist that resulted in this. Either it was a fabrication or he had really been under hypnosis at the time.
Reaching out he found just what he expected in the bond. He could feel that Aaron was alive but that was it. He put the papers back in the envelope and then slid the entire thing into his messenger bag. He wanted to rage and scream but he couldn’t. He felt nothing.
It took no time at all to load the boxes up in his car. Four in the trunk and four in the backseat with the fifth on the front passenger seat. The luggage with his clothes were slid in where he could fit them. His old apartment had been rented out as soon as he’d left it when he’d bonded with Aaron. He didn’t want to go to anyone on the team. He didn’t want to have to talk. Slipping into the driver’s seat he thought about where he could go. A hotel wasn’t a good idea. He had no clue how his emotional control was going to be. Gripping the inside of his elbow he knew where he could go. There was only one person he trusted enough to keep him sane during this.
Aaron didn’t know what to expect when the arrived at the office after his long weekend. He found a file on his desk; it wasn’t the paperwork he was expecting though. Instead of the transfer papers he pulled together it was a resignation. Dave had already signed it and other than notification of Doctor Reid leaving the FBI, Aaron had to do nothing. There was nothing personal.
“He turned in his gun and credentials to me. Want to tell me what happened?” Dave asked as he stepped into the office and shut the door behind him.
“He lied to me and I found out some truths about his past that made it impossible for us to stay in a relationship.”
“So you broke the bond?”
“We can only do that after six months of living apart.” It turned his stomach but it was something that he might have to do at one point. He wasn’t going to be the one to bring it up with the younger man, if he ever saw him again. He knew of pairs that lived apart just fine. Garcia had done well at keeping him on an even keel before.
“What about Jack?”
“I’m letting Jessica handle that. She’ll be more of an unbiased opinion in the whole thing. She’ll set up visits for him when she can.”
“He showed up at my house with the paperwork last night. I haven’t told the team a thing and I won’t.” Dave was out the door before Aaron could say a thing. He had no clue what to say.
Next Part: Truths