Spencer settled in at his desk, waiting for his student to arrive. The new Headmistress, Charlotte Moneta, asked him three weeks ago if he was willing to watch a student for about an hour before classes started each day. He had his file, but wanted to meet the kid before reading it, he did that will all new students. Spencer was always ready from the night before, so coming in a little early to watch the student wasn’t a big deal. The Headmistress was always busy and he kept forgetting to ask the name. He had worried that if he opened the file, he’d read it. He knew it was a he, and he was a late register, and that his dad worked at Quantico Base.
“Jack, this is Doctor Reid,” Moneta said as she escorted the kid in. Spencer looked up and was thankful he was sitting down otherwise he would have fallen down. Looking at Jack Hotchner was like getting punched in the gut. He looked more like his dad than he had almost five years ago. Spencer gulped as he stood up. Would Jack remember him? He wasn’t sure which he wanted. If Jack did, he’d tell Hotch, and he didn’t want that, but if he didn’t, that meant he wasn’t worth remembering.
“The other students affectionately call him Doctor Cane. He’ll be the teacher you will sit with on the mornings your father brings you into school. Reid, this is Jack Hotchner.” Moneta raised an eyebrow when Spencer mouthed Hotchner with her. Her face was confused, and then sad. Moneta knew that he’d been FBI, knew that he’d had issues with his team and left because of that. What team, he’d never told her. She asked silently if this was okay and Spencer nodded back. He smiled at her and came around his desk. Jack’s eyes went to Spencer’s cane and then up to his face.
“Jack, it’s wonderful to meet you.” Spencer stuck out his non-cane hand and Jack moved closer to shake it. Jack smiled at him. “Headmistress Moneta, we will be just fine.”
“I’m sure you will be.” She turned and left, shutting the door behind her. When Spencer looked at Jack, his eyes were on the planes hanging from the ceiling. All of them were models that he and Henry had put together. His eyes were wide with wonder. Spencer’s heart ached at that.
“Do you like planes, Jack?” Spencer wanted him to say no. Because he had a vivid memory of a cookout at Morgan’s with a toddler Jack and infant Henry just a few weeks before he’d been shot. He’d entertained Jack for two hours talking about planes and taking apart the model he’d been entertaining Henry with.
“I love them. Dad tells me I’ve loved them since I was three.” Jack reached out and touched the new model. Spencer hadn’t figured out where to put it. “I don’t remember who, but someone from dad’s FBI team got me into them. Sometimes I remember things dad has told me about him but he removed all the pictures of him from the house so I’ve forgot what he looked like.”
“FBI huh?” Spencer asked, playing dumb.
“Dad works in the BAU. Behavioral Analysis Unit. He’s the Unit Chief.” Jack looked proud. Spencer smiled at him. He was glad that Jack was still proud of his father. That the job hadn’t robbed Hotch of that.
“That’s good. So what interests you beside planes? I have a very large library at home and can bring in books from home once we cover planes.”
“I never have work to do in the mornings as I finish it all before I leave the day before. That’s why I was chosen to watch you. I have degrees in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, physics, psychology, sociology, and philosophy. I came in early just for this. So that means that we can do whatever you want.” Spencer hadn’t made plans because he wasn’t sure what type of kid he was going to get.
“That’s so cool.” Jack was looking at him like he was something really exciting. The kids at the school loved him. He was their go to teacher if they had a problem understanding homework from another class. “Do you know anything about the Boeing P-8 Poseidon?”
Discussion of that plane and advancements needed to make it a reality took them up until the rest of the students started to arrive. Jack smiled at him and waved before he grabbed his bag and left the room. Spencer slumped in his chair and sighed, looking at the ceiling. He’d carefully kept himself from thinking about Hotch for over a year. Every time he thought about what might have been, he’d make himself change his train of thought. Now it was all smacking him in the face again. He tried to force his thoughts back to the school day, but he couldn’t.
Indulging his mind, Spencer thought about how the day would have been if he had been part of the family. A breakfast cooked by him and Hotch. Spencer and Jack taking one car while Hotch took a second. Or even Hotch driving all of them. Rushed kisses as Spencer and Jack ran out of the house or a quick kiss as Spencer was getting ready to get out of the car if Hotch drove. His door opening had Spencer looking up. It was Moneta.
“Your resume stated you were BAU but I didn’t think…”
“Jack is the son of my former Unit Chief. He doesn’t remember me so I’d like to keep it that way. If he’s like most of the other kids only Doctor Cane will be what he remembers.”
“I can have another…”
“If we change now he’ll push until he knows why. He is his father’s son. It’s fine, really. We had fun. As long as Jack never calls me Doctor Reid to Hotch, I’ll stay hidden.”
“We love having you here, and I know you love teaching here. If push comes to shove, I’d rather lose Jack Hotchner as a student than lose you as a teacher.”
Spencer smiled and the door opened again. Sara, one of his now seniors ran in. She had a stack of papers in her hand.
“Doctor Cane! I got in! I got into Cal-Tech! Full academic scholarship!” Sara ran right to him and hugged him. Spencer hugged her back just as tight. He pulled her back to look her in the face.
“I told you that you would. Now hurry up and get to class. We can talk about it at lunch.”
Sara smiled at him and then ran back out of the classroom.
“I don’t want to lose you as a teacher.”
“You won’t. I’m happy here. Now I have a class of freshman to prepare for.” Spencer turned back to look at the papers for his freshman earth science class. His mornings were the general classes that were needed for kids to graduate, but his afternoons were the specialty classes. With students like Sara. There was even a class with younger students who liked to learn anything and everything.
Normally, Spencer left his cell phone in his desk, but he had become distracted by Jack and as he put it away it vibrated.
Hotch dropped Jack off at New Haven. He’s one of the new students. JJ was a day late and a dollar short with telling him. That meant Hotch hadn’t told the team. She would have warned him before now. He wondered why Hotch hadn’t told the team. If it was on purpose, or it was about the fact that Jack had been late in getting into the school, and he hadn’t wanted to run the risk of jinxing him.
I’m well aware as he left my classroom a few minutes ago. I’ll be watching him on the mornings that Hotch drops him off on his way to work.
There is no one else that can do it?
Seconds later, a second text appeared on his screen. Spencer stopped to read it before he sent one of his own back.
Jack didn’t recognize you?
I don’t mind watching him. We spent the morning talking about planes. And no he didn’t recognize me. The last time I spent any real time with him was when he was three.
The party that you got him hooked on planes.
Please tell me that you are fine?
JJ, it’s the past and I don’t dwell on it and what might have been.
Fine but dinner at mine. The case was a bust so Hotch will be getting off early to pick up Jack. Don’t be outside for any reason when classes let out.
Dinner at yours. I can talk to Henry about his first day at school. I promise that I will stay inside after last bell.
Good. Dinner at six.
See you then.
The day went by fast with his last class being the younger students. He wasn’t shocked to see Jack in the class. Jack sat in the seat directly in front of his desk. A few of the other students laughed as Spencer pulled out a film canister. He looked into Jack’s face and decided that he needed a helper. If this was all he was ever going to have of the boy that he could have loved as his son, he would take it.
Class flew by with Jack’s help during the class. He was more than willing to run and grab him anything. After the summer, his knee and leg were aching a little as he moved around. It would get more used to it as the week went on.
“Doctor Cane?” Jack asked as the rest of the class filed out.
“Yes, Jack?” Spencer closed his book and looked up at him.
“Would you…I know that I’m only supposed to be dropped off early when dad is in town, but would you mind if…My aunt Jessica would normally brings me to school when dad is out of town, but maybe I can talk…” Jack stopped and shook his head.
“I’d be fine with you coming every day early.”
Jack smiled at him and ran forward to hug him. Spencer hugged him back tight. He tucked Jack’s head under his own and closed his eyes against the tears that wanted to escape. He needed to not break down. Jack pulled back and then was out of the classroom, shutting the door behind him. He could do this. He had to do this.