Spencer hoped that February was a better month than January. He looked at the heads of his younger students and smiled. While running a drill still scared them, they were doing a lot better. The kids were split into groups of twos and threes working on a diorama. He was at his desk working on grading tests from the class before. It was the third day of the project for the younger students and Spencer had made the most of giving them class time to work on it.
The Deputy Headmaster entering his room had the kids and Spencer looking up at him. He nodded out into the hall. Spencer nodded back.
“I’ll be in the hall. Grown up talk, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Just school stuff, I promise.” Spencer stood up from the desk and looked for his cane. Deanna ran over to him with it. He smiled at her. “Left it at your table?”
“Yes, Doctor Cane.” Deanna ran back to the table where Eliana and Jack were. Jack had been pairing up with them more and more. It was good for Eliana and for Jack it meant that he got to practice his signing and having Deanna help him.
Spencer shut the door and kept an eye on his kids.
“Agent Hotchner just called. He is on a case and he didn’t go into it, but Jessica is unable to get Jack. He is trying to find a replacement babysitter who can come and get him. Is it alright if he stays here at the school with you until someone can?”
“I’ll call Agent Hotchner and see if I can just take him home with me. I get my godson on Wednesdays, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy playing with Jack.”
“I’ll go into the classroom while you call.”
Spencer had his cell in his pocket as he had been using it to control the slides earlier. He pulled it out and dialed.
“Hotchner,” Hotch said. He was very much in case mode. Probably hadn’t even looked at the number.
“Hotch, it’s Reid.”
“Okay, give me a second.” The noise in the background disappeared and then there was silence. “Yes?”
“I can watch Jack. It’s no problem. I can keep him overnight.” Spencer figured that Hotch would try and get him to say no, but Spencer was going to push. Hotch didn’t need to worry about his son while he worked a case. It was the least that he could do.
“Are you sure? You have Henry tonight.”
“And they get along, so that won’t be a problem. And that Jack talks that much about my routine is a little scary.” Spencer only ever mentioned Henry by title in class, not by name, but he knew that it wouldn’t be hard for Hotch to put together Godson and Henry.
“Jack talked about a play room, and that your godson comes every Wednesday. Jack has keys and knows the alarm code.”
“What for?” Spencer did not want to go to Hotch’s apartment. He could stop at the store and get Jack enough clothes for a day or two.
“You were going to stop and buy him clothes weren’t you? Spencer, going to my apartment isn’t going to change anything. And I told you it’s fine.” Hotch’s voice was soft, but Spencer could hear laughter in it. The older man was right though. It wasn’t going to change anything. He’d been there before, and Jack could grab his own things. “There is a gift for you. It’s for watching Jack. He found it and was going to take it to you Friday. It’s on Jack’s dresser.”
“I’ll stop by and get him clothes.”
“We are kind of local, but Jessica is dealing with something with her father. If you have to keep him until the weekend, would that be alright? I know it’s asking a lot.” Hotch sounded stressed. Whatever was going on with Mr. Brooks had to be bad. “Tell Jack that his aunt is busy. I don’t want to lie, but it might come down to that.”
“Jack asked me about Alzheimer’s two weeks ago. Does that have anything to do with what is going on?”
The sigh that Hotch let out told him that he was right.
“I ordered in some stuff from friends of mine. I was going to talk to him about it tomorrow as it came in today’s mail. So, should I put a hold on that?”
“No. You don’t know how much a relief that is. Talk to him about it. I’m sure he’s scared. He’s been around Roy more than I have been, and he’s probably picked up on it. Jessica was going to talk to me about something tonight so I am sure that it’s that. You watching Jack so that she can focus on Roy is going to help.” The sound of voices had Hotch stopping. Spencer didn’t recognize the voice so he figured it was either a LEO or one of the two newer members. Spencer stayed silent. “I’m sorry, Spencer I have to go. Please text if you need help with anything.”
“I will.” Spencer didn’t know what to say as a closing. He thought about and rejected several before he rushed out. “Stay safe.”
“I will.” Hotch laughed and then hung up. Spencer slipped his phone in his pocket just as the bell rang for the end of the day. The Deputy Headmaster opened the door.
“You have a good bunch of students. That little timer that goes off five minutes before end of class is nice. They started cleaning up on their own. It was very refreshing.”
“Thanks. It helps with time management. They look at the clock less, and get more done. I employ it even with the older kids when we have free class like this. It’s a program on my computer that I can install on any in the school.”
“I’ll talk to the Headmistress when she comes back and we shall see. It’s a program you created?”
“I learned a little bit of programming while laid up at my last major surgery three years ago. It was a summer well spent I’d say. Agent Hotchner has agreed to allowing me to take Jack.”
“He just texted the school line,” the Deputy Headmaster raised up his phone. “It’s actually a blanket permission for you to take him home at any time. You’ll have to tell me everything sometime. We don’t have a staff meeting so you are free to go whenever you get packed up. That way you can go and get Henry,” was whispered where only he could hear it.
“Thank you, Sir.”
“One of these days Spencer you will call me Justin.”
“Yes, Sir.” Spencer smiled at him and laughed. It was a running joke. The man was happily married, but his wife flirted with Spencer all the time, and at the last school gathering, he had started to flirt with Spencer as well. “Just once more, as always.”
The Deputy Headmaster had to cover his mouth from laughing out loud. Spencer cocked an eyebrow at him and that just made him laugh harder.
“Another movie reference?” Spencer asked.
“Pirates of the Caribbean, Doctor Cane,” one of the kids called out as they shuffled past them. Jack was at the back, always checking to make sure that everyone else had cleaned up after themselves. He was ever his father’s son.
“I’ll have to see about watching it. Jack, please stay back. I need to talk to you.”
Jack nodded and dropped down in the seat he had been in.
“I’ll be in probably later than normal. Jack is going to be staying the night, and we may not rush to get in. But if you need something from me, just text.”
The Deputy waved him off and turned to wade through the kids flooding the hall to make it back to the office. Spencer turned into his room and shut the door.
“Your father had a case come up and Jessica is unable to get you. If you would like you can stay the night at my house.”
“But you get your Godson tonight!” Jack looked upset at possibly disrupting his normal routine.
“I do and I know that I keep details of my life separate from school, but my godson isn’t going to mind if it’s you that crashes our night together.”
Spencer moved towards his desk and opened a drawer. He grabbed a picture that he had put up that showed him with Henry at the zoo. He turned it around to show Jack. Jack looked at it and smiled. “JJ and I were good friends when I was on the team, and after we stayed just as close. I was named Henry’s godfather the day he was born. So see, you’ll have a lot of fun tonight at my house cause you and Henry can both stay. Henry’s father has to work, and he was going to get picked up early tomorrow morning, so that bunk bed in the back bedroom will get use. Henry had wanted it when I set up his room, and now I think it was a great idea. So the first thing that you and I have to do is go to your house, and pick up some clothes. Your dad says that you have a key and you remember the alarm code.”
“Yes, Sir!” Jack near saluted him and Spencer laughed.
“I just need to pack up my messenger bag and then we will be ready to go. Thankfully I had plans on picking up Henry from DC today, or we would have to walk to my house to get my car.”
“Can we do that in the morning? Walk to school?” Jack asked. He was digging around inside his backpack for something. He popped up with a book in his hand. He looked around for a few seconds before slipping up to sit on top of the lab table with his legs crossed. He opened the book and smiled at Spencer before starting to read. Spencer sat down and printed out a few things that he needed to work on over the night, along with slipping all the tests and homework that he needed to grade. Thankfully his memory allowed all of it to be very quick for him. He thought about dinner, and wondered if the boys wanted to go to the diner. Henry always enjoyed it because he was allowed to get a milkshake. Together, they would probably have a good time. Maybe they would even stop at it in the morning to get breakfast. Most days Spencer did walk into work as it was easier, but it always depended on his knee.
“Yes, we can walk, if it’s good weather. And get breakfast on the way.”
It took another twenty minutes until Spencer was ready to go. He had to pack up things that he normally didn’t take home as he did them before he left to pick up Henry but with stopping at Hotch’s, he’d need the extra time. The boys would be fine to play for a while so that he could get some work done.
Traffic into DC wasn’t that bad. Spencer had already texted Will to tell him that he might be a little late. Will had texted back that he could always drop him off. Spencer then explained that he had a stop to make, and if it got too close to the start of his shift, he would text him and tell him. He gave Will the address, and he wasn’t shocked when the man had asked why he was at Hotch’s. Spencer had ignored that for the time being.
Jack had run to his room after giving him the code to enter in. Spencer felt weird and stayed in the living room. He was looking at the collection of books on the shelves when he heard Jack run up behind him. He turned, and the boy had a box in his hand.
“Your father told me about this.”
“Awww, he ruined it!” Jack cried out.
“He didn’t tell me what it was. Just that you had a present for me.” Spencer looked at Jack before he opened it. The boy had something else behind his back and was rocking back and forth on his heels. He was really excited about the present. Spencer made sure that he kept a smile on his face, no matter what it was. He opened the wrapping paper, a collection of words. It was nice wrapping paper. Inside was a tie. It was bright purple with math equations all over it. He smiled even brighter at the boy. “That’s a very nice tie Jack.”
“I’m glad you like. I also got one,” Jack said as he brought his left hand out from behind his back, and he did have one in his hand except it was green, but it had the same math equations all over it. “I was hoping that we could pick a day and wear them on the same day. Dad and I have several matching ties. I wanted to get this one, and he said that I could, but that he didn’t think he could get away with it at work. Then I saw the purple one, and you wear a lot of purple, so I asked Dad if I could get it for you, to thank you for watching me. I know that you don’t do it for any other reason than to help, and you don’t expect anything in return, but I wanted to say that I am happy that you do it.”
“If you keep on there, your father is going to say that I rubbed my rambling off on you. I love it Jack and we can wear it on Wednesdays if you want.” Spencer rolled the tie up and slipped it back into the box it had come in. He didn’t have his bag so he just held onto it.
“I can carry it in my go bag!” Jack held his hand out, and Spencer handed it over. When he had a hold of it, Jack took off for his room. Spencer turned around and looked at the books again. Ten minutes later, Jack came out in the kitchen. He stopped in the kitchen and grabbed something. Spencer turned to watch. It was a bottle of something. He set down another bottle. It was children’s vitamins. “Dad said I was getting low so he got a new one. This is the new one, and I’ll leave it here, but I am taking the low one with me. It has a few days worth in it.”
Spencer watched Jack slip the bottle into what looked like one of Hotch’s old go bags. He smiled. Of course Jack would want one. He knew that he shouldn’t have expected anything less.
The closing of Friday’s classes had Spencer looking forward to the weekend, with or without Jack. The boy had been perfect for him. He missed his dad, but he was happy to be there with Spencer. The case was a bad one, and Spencer kept an eye on it in the news. Jack was seated on top of the lab tables again, working on his homework while Spencer was getting all of his work done, so that he would have a clear weekend.
The knock on his classroom door startled him. It should only be teachers, and they just usually walked right in. Jack looked up and the look on his face told Spencer who it was before Jack screamed for his father. Hotch opened the door and stepped in just as Jack bound off the table to run at him. Hotch picked him up for a big hug and Jack was chattering all the things that they had done over the two days that Spencer had been watching him.
“That’s really good, buddy. Spencer and I need to talk.” Hotch was looking around.
“Jack come and play on the computer. Headphones on.” Spencer got up out of his seat and allowed the boy to take it. He dug around for headphones in the drawer beside the computer and pulled out a pair that was labeled with his name. Spencer ruffled his hair as he popped the buds in.
“Thanks. I wasn’t looking forward to talking in the hall.”
“What’s up?” Spencer sat down on the lab table that Jack had vacated. He worked on cleaning up Jack’s stuff.
“It is what we talked about. Jessica doesn’t know what to do. His sister was supposed to take him in, but she injured herself. The only place that she likes, and will take him is in West Virginia. Roy doesn’t like it. She doesn’t make a lot at her job and lives in a single bedroom. The only option is to lie to Roy and tell him that her recent promotion comes with money and I’ll help her pay for moving into a double.”
Spencer nodded and leaned over to grab a file from his messenger bag. “You know about mom.”
“Yes.” Hotch leaned back against the lab table behind him, looking relaxed.
“I go and see her every few weeks now. Have been for a while and well…I started to notice things. She’s in the early stages of early onset Alzheimer’s. When I was looking into things for her I found out about a pilot program of sorts. LA has one and so does New York City.” Spencer pulled out a sheet of paper. “This is the information for the one that is placing residents now in Alexandria. I know one of the doctors that is in the facility, and I’ve talked in general terms with what I know, and what Jack has told me. If he’s at the point it sounds like he is, this place is for him.”
“Spencer there is…” Hotch was looking at the page that gave the information on the facility. When he looked back up, Spencer could see the vulnerability in his eyes.
“I can get him in, Hotch. Mom can’t live in a place like that. Not with her schizophrenia. It’s an apartment complex, but with monitored ins and outs. He’d be in an apartment, alone. Have his meals cooked for him, and brought up to him, or he can eat in the dining room. Jack would be able to visit. That’s not restricted at all unless he’s in an episode, or becomes violent but getting him into a place like that now when he’s still mostly there helps. It won’t be totally new. They handle all the stages. The upper floors are the apartments, the lower two floors are for the end stage patients. I can have Jessica and Roy looking at them tomorrow.”
“Spencer, this is…”
“I know what this is like Hotch. I had to make that decision when I was eighteen. I understand what Jessica is going through. It doesn’t get any easier the older you get. Jack talks to me about him. How he knows that Roy doesn’t like you because of Haley’s death. He sees it, but he knows that he can’t stop it. So he just doesn’t say anything because he doesn’t want you upset by feeling like you are making him choose. I can’t help mom, but I can help him, and you, and mostly Jack. Just talk to her about it. If she wants to talk to me she can. You can give her my number.” Spencer handed over the rest of the information that he had printed out. He watched as Hotch read it all. Answering any questions that he could.
“I’ll call and talk to her when we get home. This is more than I ever thought anyone could help with this. I see the out of pocket cost is minimum for people without insurance, and they work out the rest with insurance.”
“It’s all grants and such. New medicines are offered when they come out, but the doctors will work with Jessica for the right medicines for him.”
“Are you going to your mom’s this weekend?”
“If Jessica wants you to go with her, or if she wants me, can you watch Jack?”
“I don’t…I don’t want you think that’s all I want from you, Spencer. I don’t trust many people with him.”
“You almost lost him with Foyet, and you do everything you can to never lose him. I understand, Hotch. You trust me with him and he likes me.”
“I want to take you out. I know this place in DC that has good food, and Jack loves to go there. We can do an early dinner, then I can talk to Jessica.”
“Please. You just took in my son for however long this case could have gone. I keep dropping into your life, and you keep letting me. I’m not pushing for more than telling you thanks for taking care of him. That’s all.”
“Okay.” Spencer knew that it wasn’t all that Hotch wanted, but he knew that agreeing to go was the only option. He wanted it. He wanted to be included and he wanted Hotch, he just wasn’t sure of himself.