Spencer smiled as he settled down for the night with his mom. She was sitting on her bed while he was on the rollaway bed that had been brought in for him. While Doctor Norman had talked about only one night, he knew that he’d be allowed to stay longer if his mom wanted. The stress of the case was heavy on him but being here made him feel safe.
“There is something different about you, Spencer,” his mom said, breaking the silence. The only sound had been the turning of pages. Spencer looked up at her. She was staring at him in the way she always had when even she couldn’t understand him.
Looking out the window, Spencer sighed. His mother had been good to him growing up. He was the one person that she seemingly never forgot. He was never lost to the demons inside her head. She was a brilliant woman but his own brilliance outshined her and she’d known it since he was little. While he knew in his head that his father had left for his own failings as a human, there was that little part that wondered if he had been normal, would William have stayed around.
“I’ve started classes for a Philosophy degree. I’m liking the classes so far.”
“Georgetown. I met Alex Blake there. She teaches Linguistics and I like her a lot.”
“Oh?” His mom asked.
Spencer narrowed his eyes at her. “Her husband is really nice as well. James is with Doctors Without Borders. Alex wants me to guest lecture in her forensic linguistics class.”
“I’ve heard her name before from you.”
“She was on the team that helped solve the Unabomber case. She knows Hotch and Rossi.”
“So with the BAU before?”
“Yes. Up until the Amerithrax case. I have a lot of fun talking with her. I snuck into her class and sat in on a lecture three times before she noticed I wasn’t one of her students.” Spencer smiled when he remembered how she’d reacted.
“You used to do that at Cal-Tech when you were bored.”
“My afternoon class had been canceled I was looking for something to do.” Spencer shrugged. He’d always gotten bored really easy and he’d learned how to cope with that. He’d told the Dean at Georgetown he’d probably sit in on a lot of classes. The Dean had just been happy he’d gone through them for his first degree since joining the Bureau.”
“What did she do?”
“She asked a trick question and I let the whole of the class try and answer before I answered. I’d answered things before but I’d never drawn attention to myself. She stared at me for nearly a minute before asking if I’d taken her class before. I of course told her no. She stared at me more. I could tell that she couldn’t figure out where she knew me from.”
His mom shifted on the bed, tucking her feet up and relaxing back into the wall. A picture of happiness. While reading to each other was their favorite past time, his mom was happy with him just talking to her about anything.
“The whole class was getting on edge at that point. Her eyes narrowed and she said ‘Doctor Reid, I’d like to speak to you after class.’ I told her ‘Yes, Ma’am.’ It was only ten minutes from the end of class so the fact that she’d kind of lost them all didn’t matter. She went over the homework and the paper they were supposed to be working on. I stayed in my seat while the class filed out and those with questions asked them. Her first question to me was asking what I was doing on campus. I told her the truth. We talked for a long while. I had the day off work and it was her last class. I met her husband that night. We all went to dinner.”
“What else is new?” His mother’s eyes were staring straight into his and he looked away again. He fiddled with the page of his book before shutting it.
“JJ’s pregnant. I’ve not written about it to you. She’s very happy. Will is going to transfer up here.”
“I noticed you hadn’t been writing about her as much. On maternity leave?”
“Yes. It’s going to be a boy. I’m really happy for her.” Spencer thought about how happy JJ was. She was going to be a wonderful mom. The entire team was looking forward to seeing her little boy, whenever he decided to make his appearance. “I read up on every single book about birth and performing a delivery that I could. I wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t be hurt. Or her little boy.”
“And that’s why you are a good friend.” Shifting on the bed again to grab a light blanket, she wrapped up in it. “How is Morgan?”
“Something happened between him and JJ’s temporary replacement on the team, Jordan Todd. He won’t tell us and she’s mum on the subject.”
“Is he still against trying to find someone to settle down with?”
Spencer knew that his mother was indulging him but he hoped that if he kept her talking about a whole bunch of other things, she’d wear out and they could go to sleep before talking about what he knew she wanted to talk about. Crossing his legs, Spencer settled more on the bed, setting the book in his lap and opening it back to the page he was on.
“Yes. He met a woman in a coffee shop a while back and she knew him and his name but he couldn’t remember hers. I know that I have a spectacular memory but I can’t imagine sleeping with someone and not remembering their name.” Spencer watched as his mom’s eyes opened wide. He’d gotten too close to a subject he didn’t want to talk about. She was content knowing that he didn’t want kids, at least at the moment.
“One has to be willing to find someone to actually find someone.”
“I’m happy where I am, Mom.” Spencer wasn’t lying either. He loved his job and he did consider himself married to it. He’d watched the implosion of Hotch’s marriage to Haley first hand. He’d heard about Rossi and his three marriages. Gideon’s own marriage, he knew little about it but it hadn’t been the best. JJ and Will were both committed to their jobs as well as each other. Still they were not married and didn’t seem to want to be married.
“I know you are happy but you were lonely. You aren’t as lonely anymore.”
Spencer laughed a little. He’d learned from a young age how to read people. He’d learned it from his mom and it had helped when he’d been alone with her in his teenage years. Looking out the window again, Spencer wondered how to answer that. The least said would be better but he’d not told her about his dalliances with Hotch for a reason. She’d never hurt him on purpose, it was those times that she wasn’t herself that she could hurt him.
“I’m not serious with anyone. It’s just sex.”
“Really?” The shock in her voice was evident. Spencer wasn’t shocked by her reaction though. “You seemed so…disinterested in sex after losing your virginity.”
“I was shocked as well. This job has its horrors and it is very nice to just let go with him.”
“This doesn’t sound new. Exactly how long have you been having sex with this man?”
“I had one encounter with him just after I joined the team. Then it was a little while before he came back. We’ve been pretty regular since then but it’s gotten more…frequent in the past year.”
“He cares for you?”
“As a friend. We aren’t in this to fall in love it’s an outlet for stress.”
“That sounds…rough. You are being safe right?”
Spencer nodded but thought about what he wanted to tell her. He knew what would put her at ease. “We play with things. Kinkier aspects of sex. With the job I’m exposed to a lot of them in a very negative way but I’ve found that many are really nice, when there is trust. We used handcuffs before I was taken in Georgia. The first time we used them after, I freaked out. We talked about what freaked me out and it wasn’t brought up again. He took the cuffs we used and took them home with him. While he was out, he stopped in a leather shop for a personal reason and saw a pair of leather cuffs in there. He had a pair custom made for me. The issues I had with the ones we used before were gone. We tried the new pair not long ago and I’m enjoying them more than I had the ones before.”
“That’s what it boils down to for you isn’t it? Trust. I know that it’s not something I could help and I know that your father leaving didn’t help. You trust this man with more than just your body. You let him see the real you, the one you hide behind so that others don’t see. The you that only I get to see.”
“You said the first encounter was when you joined the team.” His mother paused just long enough for him to nod. “I thought that Agent Hotchner was married at that time?”
Spencer couldn’t form words. He’d been so careful. He just stared at her with his mouth wide open. He wasn’t going to deny it. She was like a lie detector. She would know full well if he lied.
“He was married at the time.”
“I thought that I raised you better than that, Spencer.” She sounded more disappointed in him than she had ever been. It cut like a knife through his heart. He lifted his hand and rubbed at his chest, trying to remove the pain.
“I may have been a little naïve about agreeing to sex the first time but he swore that his wife was okay with it and I took him at his word. He was in more a position to lose things than I was. I was the newest member of the team and he was at the time the second in command on the team. If he’d been lying, I could have ruined him and he knew it and I knew it. The first chance that he had, he took me to talk to his wife. I’ll not break too many confidences here but I hate that you think I would sleep with a married man so callously.”
“Then explain it to me, Spencer.”
“Hotch’s life growing wasn’t great. I really don’t think that anyone on the team outside of maybe JJ had a good life before. He’s never gone into too many details even with me but his father wasn’t a good man. It wasn’t until after college that he said he figured out he was bisexual. I think it has more to do with the fact that he felt safe admitting it then. With the stress of college and I assume the bar exam, he got a little rough with Haley one night. I don’t think he hurt her but she didn’t like it, mentally. I’ve talked with her a great deal over the years and she’s exactly like he said in our first talk. Prim, proper, and fragile. She’s a wonderful mother to their son Jack but she’s…fragile is many other ways.”
“I see. And how did you two come about this arrangement?”
“Hotch had someone else that he was having sex with before but he’d moved from the area. Hotch and Haley’s agreement was that he had to tell her, before or after each encounter, that it’s never with a paid sex worker, and that it’s always with a man. Given our job, Hotch couldn’t exactly be seen out trying to pick up guys in the bar.”
“And why did he try to start something with you?”
“He’s never given me a straight answer on that. I think to start it was my youth and my views on sex in general. The job at the BAU takes a very open mind. Growing up here in Vegas, I have a mind a little more open than most to open marriages and the like.” Spencer’s eyes went back to the window. To the brightness that no matter how dark it got was always there. “Haley never even brought up the arrangement in the divorce. She could have. Of course by that time she had been cheating on him without his consent or knowledge.”
“She sounds like she wasn’t ready for a marriage with him.”
“I’ve not talked to Hotch about it much but she married Hotch when he was a lawyer. She probably saw him becoming a judge or joining a big law firm, possibly even him going into politics. She didn’t marry an FBI agent.”
“And young Jack? How often does Hotch see him?”
“As often as he can but not as much as he would like.”
“As it should be. He sounds like a good father. Every parent should feel they don’t see their children enough, even if they see them every day.”
Spencer bowed his head. He knew that he didn’t get to see her as much as she would like.
“That wasn’t a comment on you, Spencer. We have our own issues. And you are an adult. Jack is what? Three?”
Noise had Spencer looking up. His mom was coming across the room; she sat down on the rollaway beside him.
“You mentioned handcuffs and kinks. You are safe yes?”
“Yes. He’s never hurt me on purpose. When I had the freak-out with the cuffs, he let me go as soon as I said my safeword. I think he was moving to let me go before I said it. If I wanted to end it, we’d stop. If he wanted to end it, we’d stop. He’s a good man. Our arrangement is what I can deal with right now. I was there for the aftermath of Haley demanding that Hotch leave his job. I can’t do that. I won’t do that.”
“Of course not. Whoever you end up with had better understand that, or I’ll scratch their eyes out!”
Spencer couldn’t help but start laughing as she said what had become her line here at Bennington. She’d only actually tried it with one nurse, who had tried to steal one of her books.
“You’ve always done things your way Spencer and I see that whatever you call this relationship you have with your boss has helped you. You are your own man as I tried to make sure that you were. It’s not harming you, or your man. I give my blessing.”
His mom kissed the side of his head and pulled him into a hug. He looked at the time. It was long past when he should have gone to bed but he wanted to spend more time with his mom. She was lucid and good. No matter the reason he was out in Vegas, he was happy for this time with her.