General Tag Update-I added a lot of tags so please be warned. If you see a tag up that you don’t want to read, just ask and I’ll tell you which chapter/chapters has it in it so you can skip.
Spencer dropped his messenger bag onto the table inside the door. He was tired from the case in Mexico followed by a night of little sleep and a day of just working on case files. Starting the coffee pot was his first order of business and he really needed it. He’d just clicked the button for brewing when his land line rang. He picked it up without looking at the caller ID.
“Spencer, it’s Haley. I know that you’ve got to be tired but I wanted to talk to you. Do you think we could maybe meet for coffee? Aaron is still at the office if you are worried about that.”
“Why would I be worried?” Spencer frowned as he watched the last drips of his coffee out of the filter. When it was done, he quickly poured himself a cup before placing sugar in it. The first drink was heavenly.
“He’s made a comment on how you worry that he’s not getting enough time with Jack.”
Spencer didn’t know what to say to that. So he decided not to make a comment on it at all. “I haven’t eaten dinner yet. So how about the coffee shop near the office. I can get dinner there as well as coffee.”
“Sounds good. I’ve met Aaron there before. An hour? Will that be enough time?”
He’d have to drive for once but that was okay. He hadn’t used his car in a while.
Spencer was seated with his coffee at the shop when he looked up and saw Haley entering the shop with a stroller. He harshly swallowed the spit in his mouth, choking slightly as he did. Why had she brought Jack? He stood up when she neared the table and she smiled at him. There was no Hotch around this time to be a buffer. He probably never would have agreed if he’d been more awake and less tired.
“Mrs…Haley,” Spencer greeted. Haley laughed and pulled him into a hug. Spencer returned it slowly. This woman confounded him more than most women he’d met. “I ordered you a cup of coffee but I haven’t ordered food.”
“Spencer, please. Calm down.” Haley took the seat opposite him and moved Jack’s stroller to where she could see him and even Spencer could. He already looked different from when he’d seen him for the first and only time. Less bald and less wrinkly. He could see the cuteness, sort of.
“What did you want to talk about?” Spencer asked, trying to at least have something to talk about that wasn’t the weather or Jack.
“I just want to make sure you are doing all right. Aaron’s talked about a few of the cases you all have been on. I know that you don’t have family in the area.”
Spencer just looked at her for a few minutes. She never said anything, just sipped at her coffee and looked around. There was more to the meeting than just to see how he was. He wasn’t sure what it was but he’d let it play out. Haley looked around and then looked back at him.
“Aaron talked to me a few months back, just before Gideon came back. He hadn’t talked to me about visiting you. I asked him why and he didn’t answer at first but after I asked him several more times over the week, he finally told me. After Boston, he was more afraid of what you would allow him to do than of not visiting you.”
“What?” Spencer was a little shocked at the statement. “What did he mean?”
“You were floundering a little after Gideon went on medical leave. He was afraid that you would let him do whatever he wanted just to get a little bit of normalcy back in your life. It’s why it took nearly a year for him to go back to you.”
“It’s why he came right after Gideon came back.”
“That was part of it. The rest was that he needed it. Aaron has always stayed fit, Spencer. He runs when he can but it’s not enough and he knows it. I know it. He was almost out the door once but he got to the car and stopped. He went on an hour run instead. As much as he needs it physically, he’s afraid of hurting you emotionally.”
“The team doesn’t know much about my life.” Spencer stopped to take a drink of his coffee. He also flagged down a waitress and placed an order for a sandwich. The waitress was used to him. She even refilled his coffee. He didn’t know Haley that well and he didn’t know how much he really wanted to tell her. Writing letters to his mother helped but having a living breathing person to talk to…it was better.
“Whatever you tell me will never come up with Aaron, I promise Spencer. I know that you all have a deal not to profile each other but Aaron has admitted there are times that it can’t be helped. He keeps parts of himself back.” Haley’s words sounded genuine and the only thing that he could do was to be trusting.
“My dad was a lawyer.”
“I don’t know what he does anymore. He left my mother and I when I was ten. Walked away and never looked back. My mom was sick and it was just the two of us. I was the weird kid who jumped grades in school and when I wasn’t in school I took care of her on her bad days. We made it, her and I. I write to her everyday. Sometimes when she feels like it she writes me back.” Spencer smiled. It was nice to talk to someone. He’d told her more in that bit of dialogue than he’d told anyone. Ethan was the only one who had ever been told the whole truth. There wasn’t a single part of that that anyone on the team knew.
“Aaron told me you graduated at age twelve. College at thirteen? Between that and taking care of your mother you never got to have a chance to be a teen did you?”
“I didn’t know any different. It was normal for me. It was when I got to college and I was allowed to stay with actual classmates that I knew I was different. I was in a single dorm until I turned eighteen. Liability issues and such. Family dinners and other things that were left behind because of mom’s illness. It’s never bothered me. I’m happy and that’s all that matters.” Spencer smiled at her and hoped she left it at that. He hadn’t known any different and delving into what he didn’t have wasn’t going to help him.
Jack chose that time to wake up from his sleep and started to get fussy. Haley smiled down at him as she picked him up. Spencer leaned back in his seat, one to keep distance between him and the baby and two the waitress was coming with his sandwich. She set the plate down with a smile and left them. He didn’t lean forward again.
Haley pulled out a bottle from the bag and set about making up something for him to eat. Spencer kept his eyes on his own food. He’d heard JJ ask Hotch if Haley had been planning on breastfeeding. He hadn’t ever heard the answer and even seeing this wasn’t a tell. She was in public and Haley didn’t seem like the kind of woman who wanted to try and buck the social rules of public breastfeeding. He didn’t care either way but it was his superior’s wife and he was sure that while Hotch didn’t mind Spencer seeing him naked but seeing her naked? No.
“Aaron’s told me of the Reid Effect.” Haley gave him a wan smile as she said the words.
“I’m uncomfortable around children and dogs and they know it so I cause them unease. The…” Spencer stopped himself. He flashed a smile at Haley before going back to take a bite of his sandwich. A hand on his wrist had him looking back up. Haley was moving to stand up. Then she was sliding into the booth with him. He had no clue what she was doing and he turned to face her, using one of his legs to keep her at a distance by placing it on the seat in between them. She just smiled and started to hand Jack over. “No.”
“Yes, Spencer. You aren’t going to hurt him and he sure as heck isn’t going to hurt you.” As the distance between him and Jack narrowed, Spencer brought his hands up to take a hold. It was instinct. He was being handed a baby. He didn’t want to harm the baby. He didn’t want to hurt Jack. Haley placed him gently in Spencer’s hands, making sure he supported the head and then helped him tuck his arms into his own body so that he was cradling him safely. “You’ve just never been around a baby before have you?”
“No,” Spencer answered as he looked down into Jack’s face. His eyes were open and he was looking back up at him. He had Hotch’s eye color. There was silence all around as he looked down at the sweet face looking up at him. It was a few minutes later that Jack started to get fussy again and Spencer looked up at Haley pleading for help.
Instead of taking his little charge, she just shifted the infant around to where he had him tucked into one arm and handed over the bottle. She guided him and told him in a soft tone what he needed to do. Jack took to the bottle quickly. He wasn’t fussing anymore and he was staring up at Spencer as he sucked on his bottle.
“See? There isn’t a single thing scary about babies.”
Haley retreated back to the other side of the table and Spencer barely paid any attention. When the bottle was half gone, Haley came back over and helped him situate Jack to where he was able to try and burp him. He wasn’t able and Jack was starting to get fussy again so Haley took him and burped him before handing him back over. Spencer tried again to stop her but she just kept holding him out and Spencer gave in. He settled Jack into his arms and picked up the bottle again.
Twenty minutes later, Jack was fed and burped, asleep on Spencer’s shoulder. He was finally able to eat his sandwich. Haley was just smiling at him.
“Thank you,” Spencer whispered, not sure if he really wanted the woman to hear his words. He was out of his depth but he knew that it was a good experience.
“You are very welcome, Spencer. Jack’s a doll and he loves attention so he’ll do whatever he can to get it. I can see that you love your mother dearly. What happened when you left?”
Spencer chewed on the last bite of his sandwich for longer than he really needed before swallowing. Drawing out answering her. He could tell by the smile on her face that she knew what he was doing. It wasn’t hard to see where she got it from.
“I had her placed in a medical care facility. I did it on the day I turned eighteen.”
“Oh.” Haley looked like she wanted to ask more questions but was afraid to.
“My mother is schizophrenic. There is no cure for her.”
“And no one on the team has ever…asked about your family?”
“I’m spectacularly good about dodging their questions. I can start on a subject and go until they give up. I don’t like to talk about it and I know that I have a chance of getting it. I’d rather they not look at me and think, ‘is he finally cracking?’ I don’t need that kind of pressure.”
“I understand.” Haley reached across the table and laid her hand on his, just letting it rest there. A reassuring touch. One of the few he’d ever had in his life that hadn’t come from his mother. He smiled at her, liking the touch. “So I want something sweet but I am still trying to work off a little baby weight. Split something with me?”
“If it’s chocolate, I wouldn’t mind at all.”
Haley only lingered a few minutes after the chocolate cake was gone. She bundled up Jack to take him out into the brisk late fall air. Spencer stayed longer, letting his mind wander over the fact that he was making friends with the wife of the man he was having sex with. It was going to end badly, for one of them and given his track record, it was going to be him. He was always the one. He wasn’t going to stop though.