“He can’t even come to Gideon’s funeral?” Morgan near screamed. Aaron looked at him and saw that Morgan was looking right at JJ. Even if the out of the blue question wasn’t pointed enough, Aaron would know who he was talking about with that alone. “Did you even tell him that he was dead?”
Will was right there, stepping up behind his wife, but JJ put her hand on his chest, motioning for him to go away.
“I told him when the funeral was and that’s where I left it. His relationship with Gideon was his own. He will mourn in his own way.” JJ was livid and Aaron knew it, but he didn’t want to reveal Spencer in this way now. He knew that he was there somewhere. He hadn’t looked for him though, not wanting for anyone on the team to spot him as well. Callahan had kept the revelation of who had done the shooting of the hostage takers a secret, before Aaron had even asked her to. She referred to him as Doctor Caine in the reports, and that was what the DOJ had asked him to use as well in all his own reports that weren’t on hardcopy at the top of the chain, those files were eyes only and the only place that the name Spencer Reid was on file. That made Aaron think that a lot more was going on at the school than what Spencer talked about. There was something for the government going on, and he knew that if it was something that Aaron would have an issue with, Spencer would make sure he knew.
“He’s not here. He wasn’t for Prentiss’s either!” Morgan yelled.
Lewis and Callahan gave Aaron a small nod, and then they walked away. They knew that this was something that was personal to the rest of the team.
“I’ve never been so disappointed in someone as much as I am Reid. He’s not even tried to contact us. He just ran away and hid. He’s done even worse than Gideon because none of us expected more from him!”
“Did you ever think that he stayed away because I’ve told him to?” JJ stepped up to him and looked into the enraged man’s eyes. “I’m not going to subject him to any of this. He was at Prentiss’s funeral. He was there to help me in the aftermath of it. He was there for me in ways that no one else on this team was. Because I wasn’t on the team. I know that all of your went to a bar afterwards and I wasn’t invited. We were the two on the outside. He stood at Emily’s grave until the sun went down. He regrets that he wasn’t able to make up with her before her death, but that’s his regret.”
“So now he gets to regret another person who he wasn’t able to make up with.”
The laughter from JJ was startling, but Aaron knew where it came from. There were tears in her eyes and she looked ready to kill Morgan, but she was laughing.
“Spence and Gideon started to write to each other. Spencer figured that he was at the cabin and mailed him a letter. He got Gideon’s last letter the day after his death. He’d mailed Spencer about the case. Mailed him everything he could remember about the case and how he would have to go about finding him. He dropped it in the post office the moment he hit town. So don’t you even fucking tell me that Spencer doesn’t care.”
“Funerals are for closure,” Dave said as he stepped up to Morgan and laid a hand on his shoulder. “It’s for us to say goodbye. Reid and Gideon’s relationship was rocky given everything, but it’s up to Reid to figure out the best way to say goodbye to him. You want Reid here because you want closure. Let it go, Morgan.”
Morgan looked at Dave, and then at Garcia, and then finally Aaron before he turned and left. Garcia looked at Aaron next and he nodded. She followed after him. JJ was standing, looking at the grave. Dave brushed his hand on Aaron’s shoulder as he passed, going to his own car. Aaron stepped up behind JJ, not knowing if it was okay to touch her. Will was off to the side, enough to make it seem like he hadn’t heard every single word when he had.
“He didn’t tell me that he got that letter,” Aaron said.
JJ sniffed and then laughed. “He was surprised when he opened his mailbox and found it. He was supposed to hand deliver it to you if he died. I think he knew. I know that their letters were long and rocky in the beginning, but I have to say that I think Spence talked about you and Jack more than he should have.”
“Gideon knew Reid a lot better than some of us in the beginning. His own mind worked so much like Reid’s that it wasn’t any wonder that they connected. Gideon leaving hurt a lot more than what Reid wanted us to think.”
“His father only left a letter. Spence came home from school and found it. His mother had already read it. Gideon never knew that. Him leaving a letter like that wasn’t a jag. He just didn’t know. I only found out yesterday. Even now he keeps so much hidden.” JJ turned around and looked him in the eye. “Take care of him, Hotch. He’s still so fragile on reaching out, and if you hurt him, he’ll leave and I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from him again.”
“I know. I don’t plan on hurting him. I’m letting him set the pace for everything, and that includes talking to anyone else on the team. Jack adores calling him Doctor Cane in front of everyone. He and Dave had a ten minute conversation about soccer physics with him being dropped in every chance he could. Jack sees this as an undercover mission. That Spencer is undercover and it’s his job to protect him.”
“That’s adorable.” JJ leaned over into him and he wrapped his arms around her. “I mean I know that Jack likes him. Spence talks about him a lot around me and Will, and knowing that Jack likes him that much. It’s good for him.”
“Yes, mornings that Jack goes to school early, which is nine out of ten, he’s talked Spencer into teaching him sign language. Which has now turned into me getting a book on it so that I can learn some.”
“Why don’t you ask Spence for lessons?”
“I don’t think he’s ready for that much one on one time.”
“You might have to force the issue Hotch. He’ll hide for as long as he can. Going over every single angle. We always forgot that he has a scientific mind. He’ll run scenarios until the end of time.”
“I know.” Aaron did know that. Deep down Spencer was scared. He knew that. “Where is he?”
“He watched from far away. When Will and I make sure the rest of the team is gone, he’ll come over. Did you want to stay?”
“Does he want me to?” Aaron wasn’t going to stay if Spencer didn’t want him to.
“I’ll ask.” JJ kissed his cheek and walked away.
Aaron reorientated himself to Gideon’s grave. It was still open and would be until all the mourners left. He stood there for several minutes before he looked around where JJ and Will have moved off to. They were nowhere in sight. He was turning to look behind when he heard soft footfalls. Then the thud of a cane. He smiled. Spencer tucked himself into Aaron’s side, sheltered under his arm.
The younger man stood there for several minutes before he moved up to the edge of the grave. Aaron watched him as he dropped the black king on top of Gideon’s casket. Aaron remembered the chess set. It had been very expensive. But then Spencer could play a chess game against himself using nothing. Aaron stayed where he was. He watched as Spencer said goodbye to an old friend.
“I’m going to visit mom for a day. I fly out in a little while and I’ll be back for school on Monday to watch Jack.” Spencer turned around and smiled at him. “Do you think you could drop me off at the airport? I took a cab here and I can call one but-.”
“No. I can take you. Do you have time for a meal?” It was a reach out, an olive branch and Aaron wasn’t going to turn it down.
“I’m not…” Spencer looked really unsure.
“I need to grab Jack, and he’ll be hungry. We can stop at McDonald’s and get some drive thru food. It doesn’t have to be any more than that.” Aaron hoped that Spencer knew it was just wanting to take care of him. He looked tired and worn out. “Pacify me and let me see you eat something before you fly to Vegas.”
Spencer ducked his head a little and nodded. “Okay. I’ll consent to a meal at a drive thru. I’ve got a lot of time. And I have a new device that I think you’ll laugh at.”
“Really?” Aaron started towards his car, going slow so that Spencer could catch up. The younger man kept a good pace with him, his knee was healing well. “Who’s teaching your afternoon classes?”
“No one. I have it set up for self paced on the days I miss. Even Jack’s class is going to be teaching itself. One of the other teacher’s is watching them, but they are teaching themselves. It helps them enjoy science a little and makes it easy on the subs.” Spencer laughed. “I had a class my first year where my juniors staged a rebellion against a substitute because she wasn’t following my notes. I was out for three days due to a minor surgery on my knee. After that I figured out a way to make sure that it never happened again.”
“That sounds like something that I could see your students doing.”
“The senior class has a prank war going with my physics class VS one of the mathematics classes. We are winning. It’s school sanctioned.”
“This is a feeder school for the branches isn’t it?”
“I can neither confirm or deny that statement, Agent Hotchner.” Spencer had a smirk on his face. Aaron found it adorable and as they stopped at the car, Aaron opened Spencer’s door and as the genius moved to get into the passenger seat car, Aaron kissed his cheek. Spencer just stared at him as he crossed around the front of the car to get in. Nothing was said about the kiss, but Spencer wasn’t freaking out. That was a good thing.