Spencer looked at the number calling him, trying to figure out where he’d seen the number before. The phone was on silent so it wasn’t bothering other patrons. Haley. It was Haley’s cell phone number. He’d seen it once on emergency contact paperwork in Hotch’s office.
“Doctor Reid,” Spencer said as he placed the phone at his ear.
“Spencer, how are you doing?”
“I’m doing fine. How about you?” Spencer relaxed, she sounded good.
“I’m doing just fine. Aaron is coming later tonight to pick up Jack. He didn’t say much but I think that last case really had something triggered in him.”
“It was a hard case on more than just Hotch and I am not shocked that he wants to see Jack. He gave the team the day but I know he went in to do some paperwork.”
“I’m getting ready to go to the mall. Do you mind joining me? Jack loves the little toddler play area they have.”
Spencer looked around the bookshop he was in. He’d found what he’d been looking for so he really didn’t have to stay. Hotch knew that Spencer and Haley were friends of sorts. He hadn’t said that he couldn’t meet up with her anymore but Spencer really hadn’t thought that Haley would want anything more to do with him. There were two things eating at him though. One, that Hotch would be upset with him for meeting with his now ex-wife and two, that he had no clue why Haley wanted to talk to him and he was intrigued. It would also help in his quest to stay away from his apartment. He didn’t want to be there when Hotch showed up and he was fairly certain that the man was going to.
The case had been horrible. He agreed that what he’d done was stupid but it wasn’t like Hotch had been listening to him either. He’d felt desperate to save at least one. He’d wondered if that was what his own father would be like if he’d stayed around and his mom had been committed when he was a child. Would the BAU have been called in to deal with him? Would he have become one of the UnSubs he chased? He agreed that he’d gone about what he did wrong but Hotch’s words about using him had struck him in a really weird way. It was the only time so far that he’d let what he and Hotch did in the bedroom effect a case. Hotch told him that he was using him and he knew it was for his brain but rationality went out the window for a few seconds.
Spencer knew that it was the reason he’d been brought onto the team. His brain. His ability to recall facts and figures. To have down the knowledge that was needed on crimes, victims, affect, behavior, and a million other things but it was the first time that anyone on the team had actually said it out loud. If he’d have been normal, he’d still be years away from the team. He’d have to work his way around another office before being considered for a spot on one of the elite teams in the Bureau. His brain and abilities were a blessing and a curse and that had been one moment in his life, he wondered if it was worth it. Did any of the rest of the team, that wasn’t JJ, see him for who he was? He knew that Morgan sometimes only saw him as a geek or a nerd but the man never hurt him with words. Even the bit with the whistle hadn’t hurt him. He’d have prefered the man hadn’t done it but what could he do? Cry to Hotch? He had never done that when he’d been picked on and bullied in school. He wasn’t going to do it with the team.
Morgan talked about being bullied and while Spencer fully believed that he had been, he’d also joined the football team. He had built in protectors. The kings of the school. His bullying had stopped the second he joined. And even in college when he’d been pulled from the team due to injury, Spencer was sure he still hung with them. He might not have bullied anyone but he probably hadn’t stopped anyone from being bullied. For Spencer it had only stopped a couple of years into Cal-Tech, when he’d shown he wasn’t leaving and that he wasn’t a pushover. Most of the bullying though was from other academics. Who saw his age as a way to prove they were better. It had failed nearly every single time. He knew that he could have come out of college with a very large ego. Many with his kind of brains did. He just wasn’t that type of person.
Hotch didn’t have a say in anything that he did. Their relationship did not dictate who he was allowed to be friends with. Decision made, Spencer told Haley after sneaking a peek at his watch. “I can be at the mall in an hour. I’m actually a good ways away from there but I don’t mind meeting you at all. Maybe we can do lunch in the food court?”
“Sounds lovely. Thank you Spencer.” Haley clicked off and then Spencer was grabbing the book he’d been looking for as well as the few others he found. He smiled at the new cashier, they’d come to know him in time.
The metro ride to the mall wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It was a late Friday morning and that meant it was mainly commuters and not kids in the car. It wasn’t hard to find the play area of the mall, even though he’d never paid enough attention to the mall layout to actually file away the information. Haley was easy to spot and so was Jack. The toddler saw him and toddled towards him. He was at a loss at what to do but the boy was making his way towards him as fast as he could. Jack had become attached at the park get together that had happened a few months back, when Haley and Hotch had been trying even though separated.
“Pen!” Jack screamed as Spencer finally picked the boy up and settled him on his hip that was opposite the side his bag was resting on. The toddler leaned his forehead against Spencer’s when he leaned down. Jack was the only child that seemed to be immune to the Reid Effect as the team called it. No dog had been found yet that seemed to like him. Clooney didn’t like to be in the same room as him; no matter how many times Morgan tried to get the dog to like him. “Play?”
“Not now. Why don’t you go play?” Spencer set Jack down and the boy ran back to play. Spencer made his way to Haley, taking the seat beside her. Haley handed over a cup of coffee with a smile.
“I think I got it right. I remember Aaron telling me that while you don’t always put a lot of sugar in it, it varies depending on mood and how much sleep you got. With the way Aaron sounded, I don’t figure you got a lot of sleep so I put in a good bit of sugar.”
Spencer hid the smile on his face by taking a sip of the coffee. It wasn’t overly sweet for him and that was good. She’d done pretty well at guessing a good amount of sugar. He could drink it and enjoy it, the sugar a blessing. “It’s good.”
“Good. I have two reasons for wanting to talk to you. Aaron kind of mentioned this last case was hard on you as well. I know that you have the team but I also know that talking to someone outside the team can help. I know that I…” Haley looked away from him. A frown on her face. “I know that I don’t handle Aaron’s job well at all. I just…it wasn’t what I wanted for us. Is it horrible to want a husband who has a nine to five and every weekend home?”
“The subject matter doesn’t help. I can’t look at that.”
“Haley, you don’t have to. It’s yours and Hotch’s relationship. You don’t need to explain anything to me. Other than telling the team when he was served the papers, he doesn’t really talk about it at work.”
“And outside of work?”
The look on her face told Spencer that this was the reason that she wanted to talk to him.
“He talks little of you.”
“I expected him to bring up my affairs. I would have never brought up you or Jake. I’m not a vindictive bitch.”
One of the other mom’s was looking at the two of them like they were scum but Spencer just smiled at her and she huffed and moved away.
“It wasn’t until later that day after the picnic that I…realized what I had done. I’d hoped that Aaron’s talk of your innocence when it came to relationship things would save me but when I thought about your reaction. I wanted to say that I am sorry for the position I put you in. I do consider us friends Spencer but Aaron is your boss. I shouldn’t have put you in a position where you would have to lie to him or tell him that I was cheating on him.”
“I didn’t…not right away. It wasn’t until after you’d left him. He’d figured it out before that though. My words were confirmation. He was more upset about me being put in the position of having to tell him or not tell him and be upset.”
“You…You understand him in a way that I never can. I still love him but I can’t be with him. He’s…different than the young man I fell in love with. That love it didn’t change over the years. I kept wanting who he was. I wanted to talk to you and ask you a promise that I have no right to ask you but I worry about him. I’m afraid that the job will consume him. Gideon let the job consume him. I don’t want Aaron to become Gideon. Spencer, don’t turn away from him.”
“I can’t make him come to me, Haley. He makes his decisions and he shares the reasons with few.” Spencer thought about now. How he was hiding from Aaron. Making sure that the man couldn’t catch him at the apartment. He was being a coward but he wasn’t ready to face him, personally, in the aftermath that was the Owen Savage case.
Spencer had no interest in finding a relationship with anyone, be they male or female. He was happy with sex whenever Hotch wanted. He still didn’t seem to want sex like Morgan did. Hook ups with random men or women. He didn’t know how Morgan had the energy after some cases to go out and snag a woman. Prentiss wasn’t interested in marriage. Rossi had been married three times already. JJ had her not so secret relationship with that cop from New Orleans. Garcia had Kevin.
The main reason that he didn’t want a normal relationship was for a lot of the reasons why BAU relationships never worked out. He was gone at the drop of a hat. Work was never truly done, there were just stopping points where one could take off and not feel like shit. When he was home, he wanted to do what he wanted. After years of caring for his mother, being bound to the house when he wasn’t in classes at Cal-Tech. Rushing home on weekends. Finding someone to look in on her. He wanted to be free. A relationship would bog that down.
“Aaron makes up his own mind. I know that more than most but if he ever thinks that he’s hurting you, he’ll stop but I think that you’ve grown. I see you the least. I see the growth more. You did well under Gideon’s hand but with Aaron and Dave…you’ve become a wonderful young man. Aaron told me that he wasn’t the same after Boston. It’s not just because of the sexual side either. Aaron talks about the team as a whole a great deal. How he doesn’t feel the need to call you Doctor Reid as much when introducing you as your stance and behavior make you act older and therefore the LEOs don’t see the need to not listen to you.”
Hotch had never said that to him. He knew that Hotch didn’t always introduce him as Doctor Reid anymore. That was hard to miss. Rossi only did a little bit of the time but was that because of what Rossi was seeing? That he didn’t need that title to show authority. He hadn’t acted that way on the last case. His personal feelings had dropped into the case long before Hotch had said that he was using him. His inner arm started to itch. He needed to go to that meeting. Hotch had been right.
“Jack loves playing here doesn’t he?” Spencer turned his gaze fully to the toddler. He was playing with blocks with a girl who looked to be about a year older than him. Jack looked up at him and Haley and smiled. There was so much of Hotch in that smile. Jack was going to be a striking male. Haley and Hotch loved him and he’d grow up a happy boy. The sins of the past wouldn’t be visited on him. Hotch was a wonderful father. He’d never do whatever had been done to him to Jack. Spencer would probably never feel like he would want a child of his own blood. There was too much of a risk of passing on his genes or of turning out like his mother; neither he would want to inflict on his child. Instead, he’d settle for what little contact he got with Jack and any children that JJ or Garcia had. He’d be happy with that.
For the first time ever, he was looking forward to the lunch with Jack. He was looking forward to being around a kid.