Author's Note: I have been sitting on this one for a looooong time, until I figured out what the right time was to post it. Looking ahead to the next few stories, I decided that now was the right time.
This story continues my Reid/Prentiss series, which begins with "How to Fight Loneliness," found on this site. The stories continues with "Perspectives on a Romance," followed by "Casefiles of Mr. Prentiss and Mrs. Genius."
The scratching of Reid's pen was driving her insane.
Emily was sitting across from him at the library table in their house. They were both supposed to be writing out names and questions and notes for Emily's extended family, to ask them over the holidays. It was homework from their genetic counselor. Reid had been diligently doing his homework, as all the good boys did. He'd dug up information on his father, his father's relatives, his mother's relatives, and had Garcia do extensive searching for other relatives. He'd made meticulous notes and family trees for Dr. Venkatesen, annotated with more information than she would ever need in a million years.
Emily had called her mother. Once. And asked her one question before getting sidetracked into yet another conversation about Hobart's divorce. She'd been doing homework, though. Hers wasn't about her family, and it hadn't been assigned by their counselor. Her self-proscribed homework had been to profile her husband, to step outside her own emotions and watch him. She had to do this. She had to know if she was doing the right thing.
Now he was writing out more questions. He was making a preliminary family tree to fill in with names, birthdates and death dates where applicable.
And it was driving her insane.
"Stop," she whispered.
"Hmmm?" he said, distracted.
"Stop!" she exclaimed.
He looked up, startled. "What?"
"Stop doing that."
"Doing what? Was I doing the muttering thing again?"
"No. Just stop. All of it. Stop writing. Stop working."
He carefully put down his pen. "Emily, this is all for you."
"Yes. Right there. That's the problem, right there."
"We've been over this," he said, wearily. He ran a hand through his hair, short again as it was every other year or so. "Do we have to go over this again?"
"No, we really don't."
"We need to get this done for the counselor. The counselor that you wanted to see."
She looked across at him. "Spencer, are we happy?"
He sighed, getting up to walk around the library. "So far, so good."
"Don't be flippant about this. I want the truth."
"I can't tell you with any certainty if you're happy. I know I'm happy."
She nodded. "So am I. And you know what else? You don't get all the credit for it. I was happy before I married you. You didn't complete me, and I sure hope I didn't complete you. I was happy on my own, with my work."
"I wasn't supposed to be. According to society, a woman of a certain age who isn't married with kids is supposed to be unhappy and discontent, and desperate for a man and babies."
"No. I did want those things. But I was happy even if I didn't have them. You make me happy in a different way, a way I could never have imagined. But if we'd stayed the way we were, co-workers and friends, I would have kept being happy on my own."
He smiled. "Just one of the many reasons that you are awesome," he said.
"And yet here I am, letting you talk yourself into something you don't want."
"I'm not talking myself into anything," he said, sounding a little put out by the suggestion.
"Please, Spencer. Who knows you better than I do?"
"Look at you. You've gone gung-ho on this genetic counseling, and I know why. It's a project. It's scientific and it will have statistics and probabilities and percentages and they will seduce you, because they always do. And you will use them to paper over the inconvenient fact that you don't want this."
"What if I do?"
"You don't. And if you think you do, it's only because you know I do."
"Why is that so terrible?" he said, vehemently, his pacing picking up its pace. "You keep saying that! Is it such a horrible thing for me to want something because it'll make you happy?"
"Yes. When the something in question is a baby, yes. Parenthood is really hard, and you have to want it very badly, for yourself and not for someone else, or you won't make it. What's more, I don't want you to father our children unless you really want them, because you want them. And it's my fault for letting it go this far. I let myself think that it was okay. It's legitimate science, right? Knowing damn well that you'd respond to it. Knowing that it was just a way to trick you."
Reid made a frustrated, angry noise in his throat. "You're not tricking me! I have agency, you know, I can think for myself! You're always complaining about people infantilizing me, now you're doing it! I'm not some moron who'll be fooled by the pretty shiny numbers and all the Science and get led down the garden path to my doom! What do you take me for?"
"I take you as you are," she said, a lump rising in her throat. "I made an informed decision when I married you. But I know you, Spencer. And I said I wasn't holding out hopes, but I was. I said I wasn't going to try and change your mind, but I did. I was just sneakier about it. I let myself believe you could make any kind of decisions after Harmon had me for two days. I let myself think that seeing a genetic counselor was any different than the old-fashioned way of hounding you until you cracked, or enlisting my friends and female relatives to nag and pressure until you gave in. I wasn't going to be like that, oh no, not me. Not well-adjusted Emily, not Agent Prentiss, not Mrs. Genius." She was choking up. Reid sat down in the chair next to her, turning it to face her so he could take both her hands in his. "I've been playing you, and I'm sorry," she whispered.
"You haven't...I don't..." he stammered. He took a deep breath. "I can't keep up with you, Emily. What is it that you're saying?"
She hesitated, running her thumbs over the backs of his hands. "How many Christmas parties have we been to in the past month?"
"And how many babies were at those parties?"
He frowned. "I don't know."
"I know you don't. You didn't so much as glance at any of them. In fact, you avoided it. If someone brought one to you, your body language went all defensive."
His expression was darkening. "Emily, if we start profiling each other too much, we're going to drive ourselves crazy."
"I had to know how you really felt. I already knew the answer. So here's what I'm saying." She gripped his hands tighter and held his eyes. "I don't want us to have children, Spencer. Not now. This isn't a you thing and a me thing, it's a we thing. It's either we both want it, or neither of us do. If you don't want it, then by definition, I don't. If I let you, you will rationalize yourself into it. You're already doing it. You want so badly to give me something I want and do what you think will make me happy that you'll talk your way into something you're not ready for. I love you for being willing to think about it. But I'm a profiler and I'm your wife, which means your chances of hiding your real feelings from me are very slim. I can see that you're not ready."
He dropped his gaze to their joined hands. "I want to be," he whispered, hoarsely.
"I know. But you want to be for the wrong reasons."
"What do you mean?"
"You're trying to wrap your brain around fatherhood because you still think that you're not enough for me."
He sighed. "How can I be?" he said, barely audible.
Emily leaned forward. "Look at me." He did, his impossibly large brown eyes filling his whole face, wide and confused. "You know, someday you will know your own worth and believe in it. You will know what you mean to me and everyone around you. I just hope I'm there to see it." She smiled and put her hand on his cheek. "You are enough for me because you are you, and I chose you. I chose you because I can't imagine my life without you. A minute ago, when I mentioned if we'd stayed just co-workers and friends? It gave me a chill all over just to say that, because the idea of not loving you and not being married to you..." She shook her head. "If there's some alternate universe where that never happened then I don't want to live there." He smiled a little. "You are all I will ever need."
He was looking at her intently, evaluating, weighing, hopefully believing. She could actually see it when he realized he didn't have to make himself okay with this. It was like watching someone warm up after being out in the cold for a long time. "I'm not ready," he said.
"I know. Neither am I."
"Really. And...I want it to be just us for awhile. I want you all to myself," she said, smiling. "I don't want middle of the night crying and diapers and breastfeeding and exhaustion right now. I don't want to try and figure out how to handle our jobs while having a child. I want us to travel and sleep in and have sex whenever we want and spend whole evenings together not talking. I love our life. I want some more of it before we turn it upside down. If it happens, it'll be because it's the right time and we're in the right place. If that time and place never comes, then we'll just have to keeping being happy on our own."
His eyes were still searching her face. "I love our life, too. But you're right, I'm still getting used to the idea that someone wants to be with me. Being your husband is blowing my mind enough without trying to be someone's father. It feels selfish, but...I don't want to complicate things with a child now."
"Me, neither. And I didn't really realize that until it started seeming like it might happen. So let's put all this stuff away. I'll call Dr. Venkatesan and cancel our next appointment."
He nodded. "Just do one thing for me."
"I need you to look me in the eyes and tell me you're sure about this. If I can't consider having kids just to make you happy, then you can't consider not having them just for my sake, either."
She took a breath and looked him right in the eyes. She could, because she was sure. "I'm sure about this."
He held her gaze for a long minute. "All right."
"And we're not going to talk about this again until you come to me and tell me you want to reopen the subject. And you're going to have to convince me," she said, smiling a little. "I'm not going to be asking you if you're ready yet every six months, like a kid asking 'are we there yet.' Maybe it isn't fair but I'm putting it on you. When we talk about it again, you have to be the one to bring it up. Got it?"
Emily sighed. She felt like a great weight had been lifted from both of them, the weight of decision. Not forever. Just for now. She leaned forward and kissed him softly. "I'll go make that call," she said. She got up and headed for the den, where her phone was. She didn't quite make the door before he pulled her back. She turned around and was drawn into his arms and before she could make a sound he was kissing her, passionately. She kissed back at once, winding her arms around his shoulders, giving it back to him and then some, arousal coursing through her body and pooling between her legs. She slid one hand down to his ass and grabbed it possessively; he had one hand on her breast now, kneading it through her t-shirt. His mouth was hot and demanding, like he was making sure she was still his. He broke off, breathing hard just as she was, resting his forehead against hers. "Ooooh boy," she murmured. "We are so doing that thing tonight."
"Yeah?" he said.
"Oh, hell yeah."
He grasped her upper arms and pulled her into a tight embrace again. "I just...I'm..." He trailed off.
"It's not often you're at a loss for words," she said, into his shoulder.
He let her go enough that he could look her in the eyes. "I just didn't know there were feelings this big. Words aren't much good."
Emily's chest hitched but she didn't let him see. She squeezed him and stepped back. "Let me go make that call. I'll be back and we can make out some more."
He smiled, a little shakily. "Okay."
She left the library and made it to the den before her knees gave out. She sank to the chaise and buried her head in her hands. She didn't need to make the call so desperately, she just needed a moment to pull herself together. She knew what he meant about big feelings. When she got to feeling a little overwhelmed, she had to take a step back. She hadn't ever really let him see. Not even after Harmon, although that had been close.
Maybe you should. Maybe he wouldn't still think he wasn't enough for you if you did.
Emily sighed and straightened up. I will. It's Christmas. We have the whole day to ourselves tomorrow...well, until three, when we're going over to JJ and Will's. I need to let him see me.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and Spencer was there, looking down at her. In his eyes she saw that he knew what she was really doing in here. He crouched down before her, his hands on her knees. "Tell me," he whispered.
"I can't. I can only show you."
"Then let's go to bed, and we can show each other." He smiled. "And then later, we can do that thing."
She grinned. "You are on, Dr. Reid." She got up and took his hand to lead him to the stairs.
She turned back. "Hmm?"
He shut his eyes for a moment, then opened them again. "Someday."
She squeezed his hand. "I know."
I'm aware that some of you are very keen on Reid and Prentiss having children, and some of you are very NOT keen. After this one-shot, there will be no further discussion of the kids issue in the current timeline, barring perhaps an occasional one-line reference or speculation by other characters. I always intended for this to be their decision, I just wasn't sure when I was going to have them make it.
However, I do have plans for other stories that are set in Spencer's "someday," at a time when the decision is made that they do want to have children, some amount of time in the not-too-distant future. This way, those of you who want to read about their potential family can do so, and those of you who don't care for that can skip those. There will still be kid-free Casefiles and stories for your perusal. And I know even those of you who like the idea of baby geniuses will still enjoy straight-up romance/casefile fics even without kids.