Title: To Trust, Or Not To Trust
Series: Apartment for Rent
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds, Harry Potter, James Bond, Bones, Hawaii Five-0, N.C.I.S., MacGyver (2016)
Relationships: Tony DiNozzo/Spencer Reid, Jack Dalton/Angus MacGyver, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, James Bond/Q, Pre-Relationship Aaron Hotchner/Danny Williams, Pre-Relationship Seeley Booth/Steve McGarrett, Jack Dalton/Angus MacGyver
Characters: Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner, Tony DiNozzo, Seeley Booth, Harry Potter, Jack Dalton, Angus MacGyver
Tags: Alternate Universe, All Human AU, Non-Canon Compliant, Established Relationship
Summary: Spencer and Harry bond a little and then he gets to go on a road trip with Jack and Mac with someone waiting at the end.
Year: Modern Day
Spoilers: Up Through Everything Current for Each Fandom
Spencer looked up at the night sky as he walked. There was no one else around, and it was a warm and beautiful night and perfect for walking around. He was having a bout of not calming down at all so after he had tossed and turned for nearly an hour in bed with Tony he had slipped out of it to head back to his apartment. Tony had a big breakfast shindig at his restaurant, and Spencer had kept waking him up. There was no reason to keep doing that, so Spencer had told him that as well as wrote a note to him to find in the morning.
“Evening, Spencer,” Seeley said as he stopped in front of Spencer.
“Seeley,” Spencer said as a way of greeting. Seeley was dressed in a pair of sleep pants. He was not dressed for being out and about. “What has you out?”
“Cameras caught you wandering around, and cameras caught Harry in Café Américain. I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind keeping him company.”
Spencer frowned as he had never been invited to do anything like that before.
“He’s not been sleeping well at all and Draco’s a little worried about him. You two seem to click, so Draco called me and told me to check on him. When I found him in the restaurant and you wandering, I thought that maybe it would be good for both of you.”
“You are all busy body’s, did you know that?” Spencer asked.
Seeley laughed in response, but he stepped up to wrap an arm around Spencer’s shoulders to steer him toward the restaurant. Spencer allowed himself to be dragged in that direction. He was content and happy to keep Harry company. Especially since it seemed he was ravenous. While sweets were not the best thing to be eating in the middle of the night, it was better than nothing.
“How often is he like this?” Spencer asked.
“It’s an anniversary of something from the war. I’ve never asked, and Draco’s only mentioned it a few times. We all try and keep an eye on them around this time. We’ve only ever been able to be there for them. Aaron’s good at keeping Draco occupied, but Harry’s a different story. We were hoping…” Seeley trailed off.
“You were hoping that with my degrees and window into the psyche of humans, I can maybe start to help him.” Spencer knew that it was only a matter of time once the word had spread of what degrees Spencer had that someone would want him to fix Harry. There was no fixing until Harry wanted it, but Spencer could be a friend to him.
“Not quite that. We were hoping that you could even just be an ear for him to talk to. He knows what your degrees are, but he’s a very…Draco’s the book smart one. He surrounds himself with knowledge, Harry is a good learner, but he’s very action-oriented. He can learn anything if he’s shown it but learning from a book…he’s got issues. That’s why food is good for him. Recipes are easy to write down to get amounts, but the act of baking, of making just helps him. Maybe he’ll talk more while he’s doing than if he sits in a therapist’s office on a couch.”
“Tried that route did you?” Spencer asked. He watched at Seeley pulled a set of keys from his pants pocket and unlocked the door. He turned off the alarm before it even started to beep. Spencer looked away so that he didn’t see the code. He did try not to learn things like that.
“Here,” Seeley pressed the keys into Spencer’s hand. “The code is Clark Gable’s birthday in the British format.”
“Why did you tell me that?”
“Because I went to Tony’s and got the keys he’s been meaning to give you so you could lock up tonight and set the alarm. We all have keys to each other’s places, just to be safe. Except for Q and Mac’s. That place has a code that changes every single hour, but given what they have access to, it’s best. This key ring has everyone’s on it. I know that you have not given a key to anyone for you place beside Aaron. When you are ready, I do have keys made for the others.”
“How does that work? I mean…I can see access to food, just in case one is hungry. Why should anyone have access to your place? Who needs access to there?”
“Aaron locks his guns in our place. He has his handgun in a safe that’s in his bedside drawer, but his others are in our place. He comes and goes with them as he wants. James is the same way. Though Q is the ones, who is the one who modifies those. I have never asked what they did before moving here. I don’t think I want to know after seeing James’s scores on the gun range on the other side of the city. It was a bonding say for a lot of us, well those who like to shoot guns. Harry’s scores didn’t faze any of us, nor did Draco’s. Aaron’s and James’s did.”
“What about Jack?”
“Figured that out, did you? Jack, Steve, and I served together so no it wasn’t a shock to me or any of the others that knew that.” Seeley stopped moving, and Spencer followed his gaze to where he was looking. Harry was rolling out something on the counter, a pair of headphones in his ears. “Well, it’s a music night, better than I expected. I’m going to leave you here. I heard your stomach growl, use that.”
Seeley left right then and walked back toward where the exit was. Spencer stayed where he was just looking at Harry. There were knives on the counter right beside where he was, and Spencer didn’t relish in having one brandished at him. He would wait for Harry to realize that he wasn’t alone. It was nearly twenty minutes before Harry stopped what he was doing and looked up at Spencer. He was not shocked that Spencer was there at all.
“I get a text when I am here at night, and someone enters the restaurant. One too many times of Tony being threatened with a frying pan. Hungry?”
“Yes and can’t sleep either.”
“Welcome to the Insomnia club,” Harry said with a smile. He waved Spencer forward.
Spencer entered the kitchen area proper and saw there was an area cleared off where he usually sat when Tony was doing the cooking at this area. Spencer climbed up on top of the table and settled there. A cup of coffee was handed over. Spencer took a sip but stopped because it wasn’t coffee like he thought. Though the smell should have clued him in, but he was smelling whatever Harry had in the oven was covering up the scent of what he was drinking. That was what he was going to claim if he was asked if he knew he was going to be drinking tea and not coffee.
“Earl Grey with a little cream tea and some lavender petals.”
“Tony told me a little that you mix your own teas to be paired with some of your desserts.”
“I really like tea, so I did some lessons on it before we moved here. I have a company that I get the parts from and mix my own here, yes. They have even let me sell them the blends. I had a few ask where to get the teas we have here. I didn’t want to sell them, so I contacted the company to do it. They were quite happy as it was more revenue for them and they already do custom blends. I get a small bit of royalties for the blends sold, but I just use it to buy tea for personal use so.” Harry picked up a paring knife and started to make a few designs in the dough that was rolled in front of him.
Spencer saw that he had a lot of pies around him. That had to be what was in the oven. The first batch of pies. Spencer looked to find the base of the pie to see what was in it. He found it, and his stomach growled. Harry laughed. There were peaches and what looked like small pieces of strawberries and blueberries on top of the peaches.
“I have never seen a pie like that.” Spencer really wanted to grab one of the peaches and eat it, but he figured that the pie was going to be sold so touching it was a no-no.
“It’s a special request for lunch today.”
“Oh, good. Tony’s forcing me to lunch here today with everyone.”
“It’s about time. Our Sunday meals when we can are sacred, and it’s time you started acting like one of us.” Harry might have had a stern look on his face, but his eyes were shining with laughter.
“I’m not used to this kind of living. If I had known about it before signing the lease agreement, I might have thought twice about it.”
“That’s why Aaron’s not letting us kidnap you. What you and Tony do is a different story. Though make sure if you have sex down here you clean up.”
“Is that really something that happens?” Spencer took a sip of his tea. It had just a hint of sweetness to it, not enough to cover the taste of the tea but enough to help with the slight bitterness of unsweet tea. Spencer had developed a taste for tea because of Aaron. Aaron liked coffee in the morning, but the rest of the day, it was water and tea. Aaron’s collection of teas were very nice, and Spencer had never tasted one that he didn’t like. “Does Aaron get tea from that place you are talking about?”
“Yes. I turned him onto it, and yes, sex does happen here sometimes. The tables are cleaned well before work starts just to stop the collection of dust overnight.” Harry looked up at Spencer when he was done with the design in the crust. He gave Spencer a smile before he turned back to his pie.
Spencer didn’t try and make Harry talk. It might take a few times. While Harry had been around Spencer, there were always others as buffers. Spencer knew that Harry was getting to the point where he felt like opening up would take time. Spencer sipped at his tea as he watched Harry check every single pie in the oven before pulling them out and slipping the new ones in, including the one that Spencer had watched him decorate.
There was a pie that had no decoration on the top, just standard holes to make sure that crust didn’t bubble up with released gases from cooking. Spencer frowned, wondering why it had been missed. He watched as Harry lined up the pies on a shelf on a rack before pushing it away from them. He saw the other pie had been left where it was on the table. Spencer laughed because it was probably a test pie, for staff to try before recommending it, Spencer had forgotten that Tony did things like that with new dishes, of any kind. Everyone, especially on the wait staff, tried it.
“Regular or gluten-free?” Harry asked as he walked back to Spencer with a pie in hand. It also did not have the crust cut into a cute decoration. It just had fork holes poked into it.
“Oh, you have a few gluten free ones?”
“We have enough customers that have that issue that I’ve made a line of things. I don’t do all of my desserts like that but pies I do. I make them first so that there is no chance of cross contamination at all. Just like there is an area over there in the main cooking that is for gluten-free dishes. They don’t even go into the same window for serving.”
“I’ve noticed as well as another area that is used to prep dishes with other things that need to be left off.”
“Tony is one of the only restaurants in the area that has stringent ways of preparing. We are just very, very lucky that we have space. Tony had that envisioned when he had this kitchen built when we did the remodel a few years after opening.”
“That’s really good. I think I’ll do the gluten free since I know you did that pie for Vanessa, the hostess who can’t have it. I figure others can try the other pie.”
“That’s what I do as well. When they force me to eat if it’s pies and the like, I do the gluten-free.” Harry cut into the pie, and there wasn’t the release of steam like there would have been if he had cut the fresh one. He cut them both good sized pieces before plating them up. Spencer reached out for his, but Harry took both plates and walked into the area where Spencer knew the dessert freezer was. He came back out a minute later, and there was a scoop of ice cream on top of each piece. Spencer’s stomach growled.
“More tea?” Harry held up a glass pot that looked full.
Spence drained the tea he had in his mug before handing it over. Harry set down that cup and got a fresh one. He poured them both cups.
“If you get the tea, I’ll take the dessert over, and we can sit and eat like civilized human beings.”
“Sure.” Spencer slipped off the table he was on and picked up the two tea mugs. The tea smelled fruity and very peachy. It was a lighter color than average, so he bet that it was a green or white tea. Harry sat down at the table that Spencer had been calling the buildings. He had grabbed lunch in there a few times while working at the bookstore and found that everyone kind of fluttered in and out.
“So, how long have you lived here?”
“Oh, since college really. I moved here and just kind of never left.”
“Draco and I followed Minerva over here after we got out of the military. We both were just tired, and she had written and offered us a place to stay until we got on our feet. We weren’t expecting this place. Neither of us was prepared to live at all. I was raised by a family that didn’t care if I lived or died, but they never hurt me, it wouldn’t have looked good if they did. That’s why I signed up for the military as soon as I could. Draco wanted away from his parents and a way to make it on his own, so he signed up for the military as soon as he was able. We had been rivals of sorts during school and then we were shoved into the same place for boot camp. We made the best of it. They say there are no atheists in foxholes, the same can be said for enemies fighting on the same side. We both learned that we never saw past the outside to the heart of each other. We were lovers at first just to have someone to fuck, the feelings came later and then we were inseparable.”
Spencer didn’t know what to say to it, but he had the feeling that Harry wasn’t talking to have Spencer comment on it all. He speared a bite of his pie and savored that rush of flavor over his tongue. There was not a lot of sugar in the filling, just enough to help the fruit but not enough to cover any of the flavors. Spencer knew that he would become fat if he ate and didn’t work the job that he did. Harry was really good at desserts while Tony’s meals were decadent but filling.
“That’s really fucking awesome,” Spencer said.
“Good. I’m glad. I’m going to do hand pies with them for the store. Maybe tarts. A peach diced up. Then the strawberry cut in half and laid down into the center with the blueberry on top. Maybe the bits of strawberry taken off dropped on top of the peaches. I haven’t decided.”
“Tony, had you make this, didn’t he?” Spencer asked. He looked down at the pie. Those were his three favorite fruits with peaches being the primary fruit. He picked up the tea and found that it was a green tea with peach flavoring as well as a hint of strawberry and blueberry. It was just kind of perfect for him to drink as it was but paired with the pie, it was wonderful. He groaned at the mixing of flavors on his tongue.
“Yes, the pie and the tea. I have a container of tea for you to take up to your apartment. I’ve been given orders to make sure that you never run out by Tony if you liked it. He said you have the things needed to make loose leaf tea in your apartment.”
“Aaron got me started on it. So yes, I do. That’s really good. The green tea just kind of supports the other flavors.”
“I did a white tea, but it was too soft to get the flavor that I wanted. So I tried green.”
“You know he’s…a lot to take,” Spencer said. He had nothing that had to do with what he did for a living that he could shower Tony with. Tony loved his books on the old stars and such, but he read them all as they came out. Spencer could only indulge and give him a book before he bought it, but that was random.
“Tony’s a lot to take even when you are just friends. You’ve only seen him with this but never seen him as he was getting used to all of us. We all are a found family, and we like adding new people in. Tony will settle down at some point, but he does this with new people all the time. He was the one that forced Bruce out of his apartment to join us when he could be drawn away from his work. He would be like this if you were just friends as well. This is Tony as he is. He loves life, and he wants those around him to love life.” Harry turned silent, but it wasn’t one that needed to be interrupted. Spencer could tell he was thinking.
Spencer turned back to his pie and his tea, taking a bite and washing it down with his tea every single time. The two together were just awesome. He was looking forward to lunch a great deal if this was dessert for it.
“I live for Draco. I know that I’m taking a long time to heal, but there is no timeline on any of it. I heal at the pace I need. I live for Draco, I’ve had a few times where I thought that giving up was best. Tony though gave me something to focus on, to be happy with, to be happy in. To be proud, when all I could see was the blood on my hands.” Harry set down his fork and looked at Spencer with a very wane smile on his face. “I know what your degrees are in and I know why Seeley pushed you in here. I just…you listen, and that’s anything that I would have wanted. Aaron listens too. He doesn’t talk unless he knows that I want or need him to. I can see why you two were drawn to each other, but I can see why neither of you went that last step. You are almost too alike with nothing else pulling you two together.”
“I will always love him, but I’m not and never have been in love with him.”
“Danny is good for him. Hell, we are all good for each other in one way, shape, or form. Though, if a few would get over their googly eyes or thinking it’s only sex, life would be better for the rest of us.”
Spencer laughed at that, and he eyed his empty plate.
“Another slice?” Harry asked as he stood up.
“I should say no, but I’m just still not ready for sleep.”
“I understand that. I won’t be getting back to sleep at all tonight. So why don’t we eat too much pie, drink too much tea, and I’ll teach you how to make one of Tony’s favorite dishes.”
“I like your thinking.” Spencer got up to grab the teapot, finding that it was still warm, it was on a warmer of some kind. He refilled both of their mugs and put the pot back while Harry cut them more pie and dished it up. It was going to be a good night to have insomnia.
Spencer settled into his office and sighed as he looked at the work he didn’t even have around to do. He had caught it all up the day before, and now the store was more than covered for the customers they had while he had nothing to do. Aaron had hijacked Tony to come with him to a court case four hours away. There was a vineyard that Tony wanted to check out and get some new wines for the restaurant as Tony’s supplier was going out of business after something to do with a court case. Spencer hadn’t been listening to Tony that much as it had been at the family meal, as Tony called it, a few days before. There had been too many conversations going on, and Spencer had been unable to follow all of them at the same time, he got too distracted with one or another. Harry was helping to run the restaurant, so he was out to entertain Spencer. James and Danny were working on a new line of suits to sell off the rack. Jack and Mac had been missing all day, so that left Seeley to run Sharpshooter alone while Q ran Gadgetry alone. Draco was stepping up to help Steve do the day to day running of the law office. Derek was running the store and had shooed Spencer out of three times.
“Don’t you just look bored,” a voice said.
Spencer looked around his home office but saw no one around. The door was shut. Hell, the alarm was set for his whole apartment so no one could slip in, even Aaron without alerting Spencer. Spencer was starting to start to think that he was hallucinating when he saw movement on the bottom corner of his computer screen. He saw that it was a Mac. He glared at the little image before clicking it to expand it. Tony had Skype’d him the night before, and he had been doing some book orders, so he had minimized the image of his lover to be able to focus more on the screen while he worked.
“Hello, Spencer. So Jack is almost to you and then you, he, and I will be going out to a movie. So get dressed in movie clothes and get ready to have fun.”
“Movie?” Spencer looked down at his clothes. He was in slacks as well as a nice dress shirt. It was about what he wore day to day, so there would be no changing. “What if I have plans?”
“Derek texted Jack and begged him to pull you out of here before you drive them all nuts.”
“You know, as the owner, I should be telling him where to shove his ass.” Spencer knew that he pouting but going out, even if it was to see a stupid action movie with Jack and Mac sounded better than just sitting at home and missing Tony. He was kicking himself for not going up with Aaron and Tony and had been for over a day. Tony had asked him, and even Aaron had just to spend time with Tony. The thing was that Spencer was scared. He knew that he was and he knew that the issues were all in his head. He was afraid of moving way too fast with Tony and given how much he was missing him, Spencer knew that he was too attached already.
“Eh, he runs your life, and you know it. He’s got the shop, and you have not taken a vacation at all since you opened up the new place. It’s been enough time. You are taking one.”
“You know a single day off is not a vacation.”
“No, you are right, it’s not. It’s a good thing that Jack already packed you a bag to take with us, isn’t it?” Mac was smirking, and then the image of him went away. Spencer frowned and got up. He walked into his bedroom and found that there was a suitcase on the bed, already packed. That had not been there when he had come back after spilling coffee on himself at breakfast in the courtyard this morning. That meant that while he had been in the bookstore, Jack had slipped into his room and done it. He wasn’t shocked that Jack would use the emergency key that Sharpshooter had on hand for every place they secured to break into his place.
Spencer debated just slipping out the side of the building, but with Mac watching, he probably wouldn’t make it far before Jack would corner him and then carry him to the car kicking and screaming. Spencer had learned it was better to just go along with whatever anyone in the building wanted. It was much better for his happiness. No one had ever done a thing that he didn’t like. Hell, they went out of their way to include him in things. He wasn’t used to the whole if you hear about it you are invited thing that was going on, so everyone made sure to actually invite him to things. At first, it was just Aaron, but the others started.
High school and even college had set Spencer up to be afraid to go to things that he was not invited to. It had happened a lot in both places. There would be parties that he would go to that had said everyone was welcome, but Spencer had been on the list of not invited, even though everyone else was allowed. Behaviors like that were hard to break, especially when Spencer was the newest person to be added to the mix there.
A knock on the door had Spencer turning around to walk over and open it. Jack was standing there with his sunglasses still on even though they were inside.
“Ready for a road trip?” Jack asked.
“I would ask where we are going, but you won’t tell me. This had better be a really cool movie or a really nice theater.”
“Oh, it’s one of the best on both accounts. Mac and I make this trip every year to the theater as it was the first place we watched a movie together many years ago on downtime. We are happy to share that with you as we know you are a little edgy.”
Spencer looked at Jack, trying to figure out what the man really thought about it, but he was hard to read, at least so far to Spencer. He was sure with time he would figure out what was going on in that head, probably even today.
“Why do I need clothes if we going to and from a movie.”
“We are not just going up and coming back the same day. We are staying at a little bed and breakfast up there as well. Don’t worry, we’ve got this all planned out.” Jack stepped in and took control of grabbing Spencer’s suitcase and ushering him out the door. Down the stairs they went, not taking the elevator which Spencer had learned not a lot of them did during the day, at night when they were tired, yes. Or if they were in a rush. Jack kept a hand on Spencer at all times he would run if Jack let him go. Spencer shook his head and let the man do what he wanted. Do at the back of the building where the parking lot was a beautiful cherry red convertible. It was a thing of beauty Mac was already in the back seat and held out his hand for something from Jack. Jack handed over a phone before going to the trunk and putting Spencer’s suitcase in there. Spencer realized that the phone was his just as Jack was shutting the trunk lid. Spencer rushed forward to grab it, but Mac kept a hold of it and moved to the far end of the car. Spencer huffed but waited to be told where to sit.
“You’ve got shotgun,” Jack said as he climbed over the door of the car instead of opening the door to get in.
Spencer walked around the car and got in like a reasonable person. He settled into the seat before turning to look at Mac who was still fiddling with Spencer’s phone. “What are you doing?”
“I am making sure that only calls from a few people will go through on your phone. Don’t worry, Derek will still be able to get a hold of you, but he wanted me to make sure that no one else from the store can get a hold of you. Derek wants you to have fun. So we are going to leave you up there and then come and get you later.”
“Leave me in a strange city with no transportation. Isn’t that asking for a serial killer to come after me?” Spencer asked.
“See Mac, I said the same exact thing.” Jack was looking at Mac in the rearview mirror, but there was a look on Mac’s face that said he was not impressed. Jack just laughed. He started the car, and it purred like a well taken care of car engine should.
“So who restored this?” Spencer asked.
“What?” Jack asked. He was about to put the car in gear to pull out of the parking lot, but he stopped and looked at Spencer. “What do you know about cars?”
“I have a degree in engineering, I just never really say what. It’s automobile engineering.”
“Oh, where have you been hiding that,” Mac said as he leaned up to put his head between Spencer and Jack.
“No matter what I say, someone finds fault in every degree I have at some point. Why cars when I have math and then why psychology as well.”
“I understand that,” Mac said. He looked at jack before looking at Spencer. “I liked taking a lot of classes, and most of them were not working toward any single degree. A little Jack of All Trades I was, and it pissed off those at MIT who wanted me to stick to just their track. I wasn’t happy like that at all. So why cars, though?”
“There was a man who helped me with mom while I was in college at Caltech. He liked cars, and on the weekends when I was home, I could always go to his place, even before I went to college. I spent a lot of time at his house watching him rebuild cars. He let me help, and I just came to love it.”
“Is he still in Vegas?” Jack asked as he finally pulled them out onto the road.
“No, he went home to Florida to be with his family when I turned eighteen. I think that he stayed for me. He never said it, and I never asked. He sends me letters, pictures of his kids that he has now and his wife. He’s happy, and when I work on a car on occasion, I remember him and just being allowed to be me when I wanted to be me. He didn’t pressure me to perform, mom did that. He didn’t pressure me to be a normal boy, dad did that. He didn’t pressure me to be anyone but who I wanted to be. I could cry when I hurt myself, I could indulge in just coloring and doing it outside of the lines when I wanted to. I was me. He’s the reason I didn’t go into the FBI when I was nearly recruited to be. I didn’t want to go somewhere that I would have been used just for my brain. Books make me happy, and so I became a book dealer as he called people who ran bookstores and librarians. He said that knowledge could be a drug, and everyone should have an addiction to it at some point.”
“That was some deep shit,” Jack said. He was grinning that stupid grin of his as he said it.
Spencer laughed, and he reached out and pushed at Jack’s shoulder even as the man was driving because he knew that Jack would never let it take them off the road. He trusted every single one of these people that he lived in the building with more than he should. He knew it was because Aaron trusted them. Aaron loved them and trusted them, and Aaron was the first person that Spencer had ever put his full trust in. He knew even back then that when he and Aaron ended on the sexual side that Aaron would never leave him. Now it was just getting his head to understand that Tony wasn’t going to leave him either.
“Our Spencer can be deep,” Mac said.
Spencer glanced back him to see that he was messing with a paperclip, playing with it almost. It was very interesting to see. Spencer turned to where he could watch as Mac made a book out of three paper clips, including a few wires that were made to look like pages. Mac handed it up to him.
“This is cool.”
“Yes, I like to fiddle with things, so I was taught to play with paperclips. Sometimes I make things, and I don’t notice it.”
“So where are we going?”
“Oh, that’s top secret,” Jack said with a grin on his face.
“And what exactly do you think is going to keep from pestering you to figure it out?” Spencer asked, grinning back.
Jack just started to laugh, and even Mac chuckled in the back seat.
“Well, we thought that maybe you would like to ask us questions. I mean you’ve not really intersected with us together, and I know with a mind like yours you have got to have questions.” Mac’s tone was soft, but Spencer could tell that he was a little more interested than he sounded.
“Well, I do have a lot of questions, but you guys should have them as well.”
“Oh, I was going to to do it Quid Pro Quo.”
“Squid what?” Jack asked.
Spencer looked at him to see that Jack was looking in the rear view mirror, which was placed perfectly to see the road behind, but Mac had sat right where Jack could see him by looking. It was quite a bit telling, even to Spencer.
“Tit for tat,” Mac said.
“Why the hell didn’t you just say that?” Jack asked.
Spencer let himself smile as he looked out into the traffic that was all around them. He let the bickering between the two of the wash over his mind. It lasted until they were on the open road heading up into Northern California. Spencer had been all over the southern area of the state, but he hadn’t ventured much up toward the north.
“So,” Jack started, and the tone and the way he reached over and tapped Spencer’s shoulder told Spencer that Jack was talking to him.
“I guess the really, really big question on a lot of our minds is you and Aaron.”
“Of course, it is. And Aaron’s being very quiet on it, isn’t he?” Spencer knew that he was, but he liked teasing Jack.
“Yes,” Jack said.
Spencer knew that Jack was one of the people who while he didn’t like to gossip, much, he wanted to know everything that happened in the building. He said it was for security reasons, but Spencer could tell it was just him wanting to know everything just to know everything.
“We met at a coffee shop. I was working on a paper for a class, and Aaron was wanting away from his office for a little bit while he worked on a brief. There were no tables when I had got there, so I had to wait for one to open. I offered Aaron to share mine when I saw him. We worked silently for a while until I went to the bathroom at one point. Aaron followed, and we had sex. He fucked me into the wall of the bathroom.”
“Now see it’s really funny because it’s exactly the same damned story that Aaron said except for one fact.”
“What’s that?” Spencer asked, and he tried really hard to keep the grin off of his face.
“Aaron said that you fucked him.”
“Then I guess you’ll have to figure out which one of us is lying.”
“Bah, I think you both are.” Jack frowned a little bit, but he didn’t say anything else.
Spencer was unable to keep the grin off of his face any longer. He and Aaron had concocted the story because they both knew that Jack would ask sooner or later on it all. They had plans for three other versions before telling him the truth. It would be good for his curiosity.
“I will get the story out of one of you at some point.”
“And that’s the fun of the game,” Spencer said.
“You and Aaron and your games. I don’t know if you are the one that inflicted him with that, but I don’t like it.”
Mac laughed in the backseat, and the smile that came on Jack’s face said it all really. Jack was only happy when Mac was happy, and it seemed like he was a little lost at the moment, given the look on his face when he thought no one was looking.
“How about you two?”
“I don’t know, man. You didn’t tell us the truth.”
“Ah, but you never asked, but I don’t tell stories of others without their permission. Ask me anything about me and me alone, and I might tell you about it.”
“So how did you two meet?”
“I was Mac’s handler when he was EOD.”
“And that’s how you know both know Steve?”
“Hmm.” Spencer thought about Mac and the military. He didn’t seem like someone who would go into the military. He knew that Mac had gone to MIT but was unsure if that was before or after EOD.
“I dropped out of MIT because I got to where I didn’t want to work on theoretical problems anymore and wanted to help soldiers who were facing real issues,” Mac said.
“Which is how you ended up meeting Jack and then what happened?”
“A lot of bad and a lot of classified stuff that I would love to tell you about but I don’t want either of us going to prison. I left the military and then six months later, Jack showed up on my front porch. We had not kept in contact at all, so it was a little bit of a shock.”
“And then I kissed him,” Jack said.
“Which was even more of a shock.” Mac was smiling up into the mirror. His eyes only on Jack. Spencer could see that their relationship was built on trust. They had trusted each other at the worst times in their life. At the points that would have broken most men. EOD was not for the faint of heart. Hell being in the military at all, was not for the faint of heart. Spencer wasn’t sure that he could ever do it. He wasn’t sure, though. He could have had a few points in his life that had gone a bit different that would have changed him.
“Then we met Minerva and moved into the building.”
“And the rest was history,” Spencer said with a laugh to Mac’s words.
“It is known,” Mac said.
Spencer wanted to reach back and slap the man, but he was too far back, and while Spencer had long limbs, he didn’t have limbs that long.
The topics turned to movies and books for the rest of the near four-hour car ride. Spencer found that while Jack went silent at some points, he didn’t feel left out, he just liked listening to Mac talk about things that interested him, as long as it didn’t get too sciencey. Spencer had a great time getting to know them. Especially when it came time to talk about stupid things that they did in college. Spencer had fewer stories, but Jack’s stories were great while Mac’s were more along with what Spencer would have loved his college experience to be like. Spencer didn’t regret going to college early, but he had been so much on the outside looking in at other lives. It was part of what had made him start even a sexual relationship with Aaron. It wasn’t going to last, but it was fun while it had been.
“Here we are,” Jack said.
Spencer started to look around for the theater that they were going to be seeing the movie at only to see nothing but nature and a huge house. It was the weirdest theater that he had ever seen, but then there was something for every taste in California.
“So where exactly are we?”
“Well, see, I kind of lied.”
Spencer turned around fully in his seat to look at Mac who was blushing a little. He was looking kind of to the side of Spencer’s face. It was very interesting.
“What kind of lie?”
“Jack and I are going to see a movie at a little theater about half an hour west of here, but you are staying right here.”
“Like at this weird house here?” Spencer asked. He was about to demand that Mac tell him what was going on when he heard whistling. It was a jaunty little tune from a show tune. He had heard it before, many times when he was hanging out with Tony. Spencer turned to find Tony and found him coming around the side of the building. It had to be the bed and breakfast that Tony had been talking about. Spencer looked at Jack and then at Mac.
“You were moping, and it was dragging the whole building down, so Derek, Jack, and I planned a kidnapping.”
“Tony wasn’t in on it?” Spencer asked.
“No. He knew nothing. Aaron was given the heads up as they are sharing a suite of sorts here. That’s it, though.”
Spencer looked back to see that Tony was stopped in the middle of the yard with a massive grin on his face. He looked like it was Christmas come early and the fact that Spencer being there was the reason for that made Spencer’s heart sing with joy.
“So are you going to break his heart a little by leaving? We would take you with us to see the movie then take you back home.”
“No, I’ll stay. I’ll remember this, though and I’ll get you back for it.” Spencer opened up the door to the car and stood up out of the seat. He was sure that his hair was a rat’s nest, but he didn’t really care. Tony was walking toward him.
“You came!” Tony was quite happy, and he wrapped his arms around Spencer to hug him, not even giving him a kiss he was happy. Spencer wrapped his arms around Tony and savored being in his arms again.
The sound of the trunk lid slamming shut drew Spencer’s head around to look at Jack who was handing over Spencer’s suitcase to Aaron of all people.
“Case has a break today as the judge caught a stomach bug. The prosecution and I chose to wait to give her time to get better than to have another judge step in and have to start all over again. So we all took a day. I was planning on sitting in the garden in the back and read most of the day. There is no one else staying here at the moment to be as free as you want.” Aaron waggled his eyebrows.
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Someone might get an eyeful,” Jack said.
“See I don’t mind that eyeful, on either case.”
Jack started to laugh, and it took just a few seconds for everyone else to join in.
“We have a movie to catch, Jack,” Mac said after another moment. His face was all smiles, and the haunted look was mostly gone from his eyes. He looked at Aaron and held out his hand, but Aaron pulled him into a hug. Aaron said something but Spencer couldn’t hear it. Mac nodded. Jack and Aaron shook hands, and then Mac and Jack were leaving.
“There is a wine tasting party here tonight. Not fancy with the spitting and such. I planned on getting smashed at it, but I think that maybe just a little buzzed is best.”
“Is that why this place is empty?”
“Yes. They don’t usually rent out rooms during their annual week of parties. There is a two-night event with the spitting and the judges and such for various night class places. Then three for restaurants that can spit out the wine or not to try and get some of their lines into restaurants. Then a night of people who are into wine but not snobs to have run. I got to all of them over the years but have never used their wines. I like to try as I do recommend to a few places in LA that don’t have the staff to do this kind of stuff.”
“I’ve never been to a wine tasting of any caliber.” Spencer sighed and leaned into Tony as his lover turned to wrap an arm around the back of his shoulders and hold him close to his side.
“I’ll take your bag up to Tony’s room,” Aaron said. He pressed a kiss to Spencer’s forehead as he passed by them.
Spencer felt the tug that drew him toward the back of the house where Tony had come from. He was kind of shocked that Tony wasn’t going to try and get him up to the room for a proper hello. The day was beautiful, just warm enough that the cool breeze that came down from small mountains behind them felt really good.
The vineyard was enclosed in the small mountain range that was spread out behind the house. It was all enclosed and was protected on three sides by the mountain. It was an excellent way to make sure someone didn’t slip in as it would take a lot of work to get that to happen. Spencer looked all around as Tony stayed silent, letting Spencer take it in. The vineyard was vast. It looked a hell of a lot bigger than Spencer imagined. The people who owned this had lucked out in finding the land. It looked like it was all really perfect for a vineyard. The house at the mouth of the mountain range was picturesque.
“I see why you like it here. How did you snag being able to stay?”
“Aaron’s good friends with the man who owns the place and lets him stay when he has court cases anywhere near here. I don’t ask how he knows him, and they rarely talk when they are around other people. It seems personal and something that I don’t want to intrude on. That’s how I met them. I came up with Aaron when I needed a break from the restaurant one week. Then I just kept on coming back.”
“It seems like a really nice place.”
“They always keep one room empty for their regulars, meaning people who come yearly and not you know monthly. Though there is a couple that comes up one weekend a month.”
“I could see myself coming to love coming here. I could get so much read.” Spencer looked at the area that Aaron had to be talking about. It looked perfect for reading. Spencer really wanted to go over there and sit and read. His stomach growled, and he laid a hand over it.
“That’s not a sound I like to hear as a chef,” Tony said.
“I was very…despondent at home.” Spencer smiled as he felt Tony press a kiss to his temple before leading him over to where there were a few tables set up outside. There was a meal spread out on one. More than enough for one person. “I don’t want to intrude if you were doing lunch with someone else.”
“No. I was looking around for Aaron as I assumed that was who was joining me for lunch after I put in an order for one and an order for two came out.”
“Aaron knew I was on my way.”
“Then that’s what Aaron did, he added you to my kitchen order.”
“They have a kitchen?”
“Yes. Breakfast is served buffet style, and dinner is a big to do, but lunch is off a limited menu. The kitchen staff is preparing for tonight, so I got whatever they were willing to make. I was going to go off the grounds to eat but I just…I was lonely.”
Spencer turned Tony to face him and brought his lips close to kiss them. “I’m glad I came and sorry I didn’t come when you asked. I thought that a little distance was going to do me some good, but all I did was miss you.” Spencer wrapped his arms around Tony’s neck to keep him close while Tony’s arms slipped around his waist. Music started to play, and it sounded like it was coming from the back porch area of the house.
“Aaron is a troll. He’s a veritable troll,” Tony said with happiness in his voice.
“He just wants to see us happy and maybe embarrass us along the way.” Spencer looked for where Aaron was, but the man was gone. Spencer’s stomach growled again.
“I need to feed you.”
“I didn’t bring snacks, though I wasn’t that hungry right up until we got here.” Spencer looked at the spread that was on the table. It was finger sandwiches and small bits of various sides. It looked like a tasting menu spread so probably a little of things that were being made for the evening to go with the wine. There was also a bottle of wine and two glasses there on the table. Spencer let Tony escort him over to the table and settle him down into his chair before he took his own seat. Spencer started to split up the sandwiches between them while Tony filled their glasses with wine. “I don’t think I have drunk wine with lunch for a long time.”
“I only really do when I am here. I tend to go for tea or water, but I love this wine, so I indulge. It’s the vineyard specialty.”
They were silent as they ate a little bit, and for the first time ever, it felt like something was nagging in the air.
“Aaron’s told me a little about how you don’t trust easily and why. I understand, Spencer. We don’t have to move that fast if you aren’t ready.”
“I need to stop second guessing myself. I need to embrace that I want to be happy and to be happy I have to actually try to be happy.”
“I knew that you didn’t go with me because you were hesitant more than just having too much work to do, but I didn’t push it. I have seen how stubborn you can be when pushed when you don’t want to be.”
“I really care for you, and I see us being happy for a long time I just…everyone has left me in one way or another. Aaron stayed around, and he’s the first to break that cycle. I knew before we started this that you were looking to settle down. I knew that and yet.”
“And yet we all have issues like that. Look at Steve and Seeley and Aaron and Danny. Jack and Mac have days where they don’t talk to anyone unless they have to. Harry and Draco, we all see that they struggle. James and Q are mysteries to most. They have deep secrets that are almost as bad as some of the ones that Jack and Mac have, and they dealt with bombs. We are all a little broken in some way, shape or form, and I think it’s why Minerva took us all in. I think she likes protecting broken people.”
“She’s a terribly sweet old lady who has managed to take a group of broken men and then turned them into successful men who rent her in her building and make her a lot of money.”
Tony laughed, and Spencer knew that he couldn’t refute that. She was charming and doted on them all, even Spencer, like they were her grandkids, but she was a keen businesswoman who had all but created a financial empire in her building. She was damned good with her money and how she invested it as she started from nothing and rose to be one of the most influential women in the city. Though she was also free with money for charities.
Spencer reached for his wine and took a sip. He found that it was a lovely blend of fruit flavors that support the taste of the grapes but didn’t cover. “This is an outstanding wine.”
“And I love it, but I don’t think flavor profile wise it’s the best they make. Wait until you try their new one tonight. I think you’ll really like it.” Tony picked up one of the sandwiches and took a bite before stuffing the other half into his mouth before the first was even chewed. Tony had a vast array of manners, and each one was based on where he was and how comfortable he was. This was his he was relaxed and feeling good manner set. Spencer was astonished at how many faces he could have and how quickly he moved between them.
“Do you want to dance?” Tony asked as he picked up his wine to take a drink.
“What?” Spencer asked.
“This is my dancing CD. I don’t even want to know why Aaron brought it with him. The tracks I like to slow dance to.”
“I don’t…” Spencer swallowed and looked at the area where it was level ground, shaded by the trees but streaks of light shining through. He could see that being used a dance floor for a large shindig. “I’ve never really danced before.”
“I was twelve when I was a senior in high school, Tony. I was not even going to think about going to prom. I didn’t go to anything at college either. I actually never went to a since dance in my entire school career.”
“Then we will have to fix that. I’ll teach you how. Eat up.”
“Tony,” Spencer started, and he stopped before he said something stupid. He covered by putting food in his mouth. He ate everything that was in front of him, including a few dessert things that Tony split up between them. Spencer hoped he could talk Tony into taking him around the actual vineyard part of the land and then they would be too tired to dance.
Tony was the first to stand up just as the song playing changed to something slow and beautiful. Tony held out his hand as he came around the table. “Do you trust me?” Tony asked.
There was only a single answer that Spencer could give to that and he knew that it was going to end up with him right there on that patch of grass in Tony’s arms dancing. He wasn’t sure that he needed that or wanted that, but he would do it. Tony would see how bad he was at dancing, and then he would never ask him to do it again. He could dance with Steve or Aaron or any of the others when he wanted to dance. Spencer would enjoy watching that. He wasn’t he jealous type, and he especially wouldn’t be jealous of anyone that they lived in the building with because none of them would start drama like that. Tony would also never stray like that. He had nothing close to that fear, Tony was a good man. He was one of the best men that Spencer knew.
“What are you thinking about?” Tony asked as he got them settled where he wanted and took Spencer’s hand in his a different way before slipping the other around Spencer’s waist, keeping them pressed together as he started to move them.
“That you are one of the best men that I know and that it’s not really a ringing endorsement as I’ve only had two people in my life that have ever been good and stayed in one-way shape and form. I don’t mean to be thinking about such bad things, but I am, and it’s sucky.”
“I’ve learned from being around Q and Mac that you can’t control your brain and the way that it is any more than you can control the wind. So walk me through what you are really thinking about.”
“That I don’t worry about you cheating on me or doing anything stupid that would hurt me and that you would probably enjoy dancing with Aaron or Steve. I’ve seen him at that club before I got called away with Seeley and then Q on the dance floor. They are all so much better dancers.”
“I don’t know. I think you are doing well,” Tony said with a grin on his face. He leaned in and brushed his nose against Spencer’s. It’s all in the way that you are led around.”
Spencer stopped thinking and just let Tony take him around the grassy area. He found that it was a lot easier with Tony around. Tony made him feel good, happy, and just made his life better. That was pretty much worth anything and everything in the world to him. It was still a little too early for him to say words that were stronger than he liked Tony, but he was feeling them. He was feeling them all. It was damned good, the feelings inside of him. He hoped that they never went away and just got stronger and more profound.
I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!
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