Thanks one more time for all the reviews. The third and final chapter of this story is below...I hope you continue to enjoy!

As always, I make no ownership claims on any of these characters...

X X X X

Spencer Reid was…exhausted. The time change was still screwing up his body, but even without that little problem, he hadn't slept much…well, actually, at all…since he'd gotten the still-shocking news. His mind had been reeling the whole flight over, a quick trip to Bennington had given him information that upset him more, not less, and yesterday he'd spent the day going through his mother's personal effects, waiting for an answer on the autopsy and making initial calls to funeral homes. Today, he just felt like he'd been bombarded with decisions, questions, requests…drama.

He remembered his quip to Rossi, when Rossi had asked what he needed to solve a particularly complex problem: "The ability to clone myself and a year's supply of adderall." Rossi's response? "I'll put on the coffee." Well, adderall was out of the question, but cloning was seeming like a particularly wonderful idea.

For example, he'd love to send a clone right now to have the conversation he was about to force with his father.

He'd called the man before he'd gotten on the plane. Left a message. No response. Called again from the airport…not that, like, he expected his father to do anything like say, "Why don't you stay with me?", but still…no answer, no response. Called again when he'd checked in to the hotel, called at the end of the day yesterday once he discovered his mother's body…ugh…had been cleared for burial. He hadn't gotten a response until this morning, and then it had been a terse message that he'd meet Spencer for lunch at the hotel.

Now he found himself restlessly waiting at a café table for his old man to show up. Half expecting that he wouldn't. Like that would shock him. He wondered if he was really out of line to say he needed the help…would like someone else perhaps to go with him to the funeral home and pick out a casket and decide on flowers and other things that just seemed so FUCKING POINTLESS when your mother was dead. He didn't need financial help…although the fact that his mother had committed suicide had effectively resulted in no life insurance payout, she'd had some savings from when Spencer had sold their old house. He'd had on occasion to dip in to the fund to cover the costs of Bennington, but there was enough left to make sure she had a proper burial.

He could hear her now: Stuff and nonsense, Spencer! People waste too much time in the trappings of death. My memory is in your mind, not in a pot of ashes on your mantle!"

Well and good that she thought that way. Unfortunately the state of Nevada was rather funny about requiring certain necessities after death, and he, as her only child, was not going to sit back and let them just shove her in to a pauper's grave. He knew she wouldn't have cared…but HE did.

His cell phone buzzed…he looked down. A text message confirming his appointment at the funeral home to go this afternoon to go over final arrangements. He had fifteen voice-mails…he'd given Bennington permission to give out his phone number to anyone wishing to call him about attending his mom's memorial. He hadn't expected many; but he was wrong. Though she hadn't taught in over 10 years, several of her old colleagues…and students…seemed to be coming out of the woodwork to pay tribute to her. Reid sighed; while he was happy to have the tangible reminder of the woman she used to be, this all meant that he was going to be expected to provide some kind of…what, reception? When he was at the funeral home, he'd ask about a place people could gather, that he could cater in with light sandwiches or something. That was what people did at times like this, right?

That was what "the family" did when somebody died. And, for what it was worth, he was "the family."

"Hello, Spencer…" A voice said to him from above.

Reid got up quickly, feeling strange and awkward. "Um, Dad…Hi."

His father looked unchanged from when last he saw him; still giving off an air of being a beatnik, although technically that was wrong for his father's generation. Reid wondered if he still carried a copy of "On The Road" with him everywhere. "Thanks for coming."

The man looked around uncomfortably, and then sat across from him; Reid sat back down as well. The older man leaned forward on his elbows. "I figured you'd keep calling unless I did."

Reid flushed. "Right." He huffed lightly. "I just thought…well, you were her husband. You should know what happened. You might want to be involved." When there was no speech from the man across from him, he continued. "I would LIKE for you to be involved." He waited, and then in something that was remarkably uncommon for Spencer Reid, he practically begged. "Please?"

Reid had learned a long time ago not to ask for things from other people. They always seemed to let him down. At least, until he got to the BAU…and even still, it was hard for him to ask for help.

His father was not a member of the BAU.

"You have A LOT of nerve, Spencer." The man hissed. "Seriously? I walked away from your mother nearly twenty years ago because I never wanted to FACE this day. You think I didn't know where this was heading? Or am I wrong, did she not take her own life?"

"They changed her meds…." Reid began defending, feeling his pulse quicken in anger.

His father swept on. "And the last time I saw YOU, you were accusing me of being a murderer. NOW you want to try playing at being my son?"

Reid winced. "I've tried calling you…tried writing." He defended himself. "You never responded."

"And if you were as much of a genius as you are purported to be, you'd have taken the hint." His father shook his head. "Look, Spencer, I have a life…I've remarried. She has three boys of her own. I've adopted them. I'm their father. Not yours."

The blow was more crushing than he'd have expected.

"So…what was the point, then?" Reid asked, keeping his voice controlled. "All that keeping tabs on me that I found out about the last time; the newspaper clippings, the trade journals where I've published articles? WHY did you do that?"

William Reid looked embarrassed. "I was…curious. Not sure how you'd have turned out. To be honest, I was a little surprised you'd ended up somewhat normal. It…validated my choices."

Validated his choices? "I'm so glad that the fact that I didn't end up a raging psychopath made you feel good about walking out on a ten year old child and his schizophrenic mother." His voice dripped ice. "Tell me…your new sons…are they normal?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do they play baseball? Get average grades? Hang out at the mall, play video games? For their sake I certainly hope so." Reid felt rage boiling beneath the surface, and he was controlling it with only the greatest effort.

"They're good kids." William defended. "We have plans to go camping this weekend. I won't let them down." He coughed. "Besides, they don't know about you. Never did seem to be much point in telling them. So it would be a little awkward if I had to cancel for the funeral."

"I'm so sorry to have been such an inconvenience. You'd have been wiser to encourage her to have an abortion." He shot back.

"If I'd realized all the potential ramifications of her disease, I would have." William returned, equally angry.

They just stared at each other for several seconds, Reid in shock from the hurtful words; exhausted and angry, he no longer trusted himself in what he'd say. When he did finally find his voice, his words were terse. "You're free to leave. I will handle the funeral arrangements, the luncheon, the flowers, the cremation. I will handle everything the way I always have." His hands gripped the edge of the table, knuckles white. "I would suggest you leave now. I am licensed to carry a handgun, and you know children of mentally unstable parents might not always be so stable themselves."

A sudden, unexpected voice spoke from behind him, like the voice of God. "If he doesn't shoot you, I will."

X X X X

Aaron Hotchner had arrived at the hotel just around noon.

Yesterday, they'd flown to Tahoe. He'd been required, of course, to spend time with the local officials; it wouldn't have been right for him to cut and run immediately. However, that morning he'd pulled the police chief aside and said he'd had an agent in Vegas in need of assistance; with the rest of the crack team there, the man had been more than understanding.

So he'd gotten in his car and driven here; starting with the hotel where Spencer was staying. And the desk manager had been more than happy to inform him that in fact Doctor Reid was at that moment having lunch in the hotel's café.

At least he's eating. Hotch thought, and went right away to find him.

He'd come up on the back of the table in the middle of an argument. It took him a few seconds to realize the other person there was Reid's father. And he stood behind Reid, out of eye-shot, not intentionally eavesdropping, just surprised in to inaction.

He'd come upon them when Reid was awkwardly pointing out the number of times he'd tried to reach out to his father. Rather surprising; he and Rossi had discussed whether or not Reid had been able to re-establish relations with the man, and had surmised based on Reid's total silence on the subject that it hadn't been attempted. Apparently, Reid had TRIED, but relationship building required two people, not one. No wonder he hadn't said anything; every unreturned phone call or letter must have been mortifying.

The father pointing out that Reid had been replaced by children who were quote-un-quote normal, that William Reid wanted no part of acknowledging his child, not even in his time of deepest need, that in fact William Reid wished Spencer didn't exist, had never existed, filled him with rage and loathing he hadn't known he could feel.

Suddenly Spencer's stubborn insistence that Hotch not walk out on Jack became crystal clear.

As he noticed Reid barely containing himself, he came forward. "If he doesn't shoot you, I will."

As he made that statement, he put his hand on Reid's shoulder. And squeezed. He felt the tremble in his young agent's body, and hoped just to radiate strength for him. He felt Reid exhale, almost in relief.

William Reid stood, regarding Hotch in some alarm. "Who are YOU?"

"I'm his boss." Hotch said quickly. "And as an FBI agent, I can assure you I would have methods of making my disposal of you seem entirely legal."

"Right." The man took one look at Spencer. "I'd say I'm sorry but…"

He felt Reid tense. "Just go!" Hotch hissed, still keeping hold of Reid's shoulder.

And with that, the man did.

At that second, a waitress took the chance to drop a BLT at Reid's place. She looked Hotch over carefully. "Can I get you something, Sir?"

"Reuben Sandwich, club soda." He replied, easing his grip on Reid and finally letting go, coming around to take the chair abandoned by the father. As the woman walked away, he looked over to a stunned Spencer. "I hope you're not going to not eat that."

Reid blinked once. "If I told you I'd just lost my appetite, would you believe me?"

"I totally believe you. I'm still going to insist you eat some of it. You need your energy." Hotch looked him over. "And some sleep."

"Hasn't been a lot of time." Reid grumbled, then shook his head, listlessly picking a slice of bacon from between the bread. "Um, you're here." He pointed out, the statement containing more than a bit of a question.

"Of course I am." Hotch said, making it sound like the most natural thing in the world. "You didn't think I was going to let you go through this by yourself?"

He watched Spencer tremble for just one second, a brief hint of wetness I his eyes that vanished so quickly that if Hotch didn't have the eyes of a profiler he'd have missed it. Another piece of bacon was picked up; he fiddled with it for a second before nibbling on it slightly. "Surprised Strauss let you."

"Technically she didn't." Hotch smiled calmly. "The team has a case in Tahoe and there was nothing more easy for me to come over to Vegas to lend a hand. The others hope to be here for the memorial."

Reid frowned. "Wait…we decided Tahoe didn't need us."

"We changed our minds." Hotch said simply. His food arrived at that moment.

This time Spencer picked up the slice of toast from the top of his plate, and started eating. "The, um, entire team is here?" He said, his voice sounding quite small.

"Yes." He considered asking why that would surprise him, but after the ugly scene he'd just witnessed, it was quite clear why it would do just that. "We all care about you. We don't want you to be alone."

"Oh."

They sat in silence for a few minutes, but not an uncomfortable one. Hotch found his sandwich to be quite good, and was pleased to see that Spencer actually seemed to be getting down a fair amount of his own food. Understanding Reid's feelings were probably rather raw at the moment, he decided to let his agent steer the conversation. Eventually, he did.

"Um, I have to go to the funeral home. There's going to be a memorial after the service and a few planning details I have to get through, so if you want to meet me back here later…"

Hotch raised his eyebrows. "Would you object to my accompanying you?" He asked,

Reid came to a standstill, hand frozen halfway to his mouth. "You don't have to." He said, then flushed. "Sorry, that came out rude…"

Hotch waved away any rudeness. "You've had a lousy few days, I'm surprised you're not more on edge. And I know I don't have to…I just figured you could use the moral support." Hotch made a point of meeting Reid's stare. "Spencer, I've buried both parents and my wife; I know this isn't easy."

Reid let his hand drop limply to the table. After stopping and starting for a few moments, he finally got some words out. One word, actually. "Thanks."

Hotch nodded, and moved to pick up the check. Reid emitted a slight squeak, but Hotch quelled him with a glare. Then he dug his keys out of his pocket.

"I'll drive. You're functioning on coffee and fumes right now." Hotch insisted.

"So the reason you won't let me drive normally is?" Reid tried.

Hotch let himself smirk. "When are you EVER not functioning on coffee and fumes?"

X X X X

Reid was still somewhat lost, sorting through everything that had happened that morning. He shouldn't have been surprised by his father's behavior, yet he was. He should have been surprised by his boss turning up to support him in something so entirely personal…yet strangely he wasn't. Although he'd never have asked for help from Hotch, somehow he found it understandable that Hotch would see that he was in need and offer assistance.

No, not offer…just provide it, without question.

That was Hotch.

Entering the funeral home, the first thing Spencer felt was how stuffy the room was. He'd have expected it to be cold, but this seemed like the air had been shunted out of the room. The man before him was explaining why a coffin was necessary with a cremation, and then had moved to a selection of urns…some elaborate, some simple…he ran through descriptions in his mind…rococo, Edwardian, Victorian, Romanesque, Grecian…honestly, how many different ways were there to hold ashes?

Ashes. His mother's ashes. His mother, going through Janson's History of Art with him when he was a boy and discussing the importance of particular styles of pottery in antiquity. He could feel the heavy weight of the book on his lap...it was huge!...and see the animation on his mother's face as she described the differences between black figure and red figure designs. She'd been so happy that day…one of her good days.

And soon she would be nothing more than a pile of ash in an urn that was a pathetic copy of those vases she'd studied with him.

"Reid? Reid?" Hotch's voice came from him, a million miles away.

"Too hot." He tried to say.

The room swam in front of him. His knees buckled. He expected to feel the floor strike him in the face.

He didn't.

Hands captured him, under his armpits, and would not let him fall. Someone walked him over to a chair and sat him down. He heard a voice call for water.

Reid shook his head, but that didn't help; spots were floating over his eyes, like television snow. A faint buzzing was in his ear.

Gently he felt his head being pushed downwards, towards his lap…of course. Head between the knees when you feel faint. Why hadn't he thought of that?

Someone grasped his hands; he felt thumbs rubbing against his inner wrists, calming him. The voice spoke soothingly, though he couldn't seem to make sense of the words.

Water was held to his lips and he got some of it down; a damp cloth was rubbed over his wrists and at his temples.

Slowly, the fuzz and buzz began to fade. He trembled, but he was there.

"Hotch…" He spoke quietly, embarrassed; unsure what to say. His boss was kneeling before him, looking concerned.

"You've been through hell." Hotch spoke gently. "You are exhausted." His boss handed him water, and he downed it, amazed at how wonderfully cold it felt. "Do you trust me?" Hotch asked.

"Of course." Reid blinked; uncertain why the question needed to be asked.

"Right. Stay here, rest." Then Hotch was gone.

Reid, somewhat dazed still, listened as his boss fielded questions about the entire service. Urn? "Simple and elegant; she wasn't a fussy woman." Flowers? "Tulips. She hated heavy fragrances." Memorial? "She was a teacher, no doubt former students would come out to speak. Reid might be up to speaking as well; best leave a space for him to do so." Food? "Light sandwiches and tea would be best. Nothing fancy."

Before he knew it, Hotch had managed it all, and had come up beside him. "We need to get you back to the hotel. Can't have my resident expert in everything falling face first and concussing himself while on personal leave."

Reid understood Hotch's banter for what it was, namely, a way to keep him from being completely mortified at the amount of assistance he was getting from his boss. He forced a smile, despite Hotch's not so subtle insistence on standing within fingertip reach of him, just in case Spencer should keel over again.

As he sank back in to the leather seat, exhaustion seeming to seep from his very pores, he found himself stumbling to get his seat-belt buckled. Without comment, Hotch reached over and did it for him, and pulled away from the curb.

Reid found himself speaking. "How'd you know all that? About my Mom, I mean." He wondered.

Hotch's lips twitched. "Perhaps you weren't aware…but I'm a profiler too, Reid."

Spencer flushed slightly, but Hotch saw his embarrassment and went on, "Forget that, Reid. Truth is, this team is family. I know Morgan sends his mom yellow roses every mother's day. JJ's brother has a fondness for candied apples. YOU knew Jack prefers playing with his blocks or coloring to just about anything else. Garcia could probably pick out my meals for the next month and not make a wrong choice. The seven of us, we're so intertwined we nearly prop each other up. Hell, sometimes that's EXACTLY what we do."

"Right." Reid sank backwards more deeply in to the seat. "Everything okay with Jack?" He asked, glad Hotch had brought him up.

His boss's smile became more pronounced. "Yeah, it is. Thanks to you."

They made it back to the hotel, Reid forcing himself to stay awake, if only to ensure that Hotch didn't end up bodily carrying him back to his room. As they got in the elevator, Hotch took a quick glance at his phone. "Case solved. The rest of the team will be out here for the memorial tomorrow. Wheels up the day after…will you be able to leave with us?"

"Try and keep me off the plane." Reid responded. Or tried to…the words were broken up by an enormous yawn.

"Get some sleep." Hotch nudged him out the door as they got to their floor. "And Reid? Call me if you need anything. I mean that." He urged.

Reid managed a smile. "I know you do." And with that, he stumbled in to his room, and without any sort of preamble, fell down on to his bed.

As Reid felt sleep taking him, it was with the comfort of knowing that there was someone, for once, who he could completely count on. He'd have said he known all along that he could count on Hotch, in a work situation…this wasn't work. And knowing something, and truly believing it, on faith, were different things.

Some four hours later…so he could tell by the blinking numbers on his clock reading the time to be eight pm…Reid was awakened by a knock. Figuring Hotch had decided to weigh Reid's need for food against his need for sleep, he forced himself out of bed, rubbing at his face. There was another rap…funny, normally Hotch's knock was much more, well, COMMANDING. "Coming, Hotch…" He murmured, not at all sure his boss wouldn't resort to breaking the door down.

He flung open the door, and found himself staring at air.

Then he looked down…just in time to see Jack Hotchner throw himself in to a full blown hug of his legs.

What the…?

"Hey, kiddo." Reid said, stroking Jack's head gently. "How on earth did you get here?"

"In a PLANE, silly. You can't walk from Virginia to Nevada!" Jack giggled, a little, then looked carefully up to catch Reid's eye. "Daddy said I could come see you like you came to see me when my Mom died. I came with Aunt Jessie."

Reid swallowed hard, then got down on one knee to look the child in the eye. "That was very good of you, Jack. I am very glad that you're here."

"Me too." He hugged Spencer again, then grabbed at his hand. "C'mon…Daddy's ordering room service for us…and I have new pictures to show you. I don't have blocks, but maybe we could color!"

Just down the hall, Spencer could see Hotch leaning out the doorway, smirking as Reid found himself dragged along the corridor. "I guess the Reid effect is over?" Hotch deadpanned.

"Not at all. Your son just happens to be exceptional." Reid replied, allowing himself to be pulled in to the suite.

Ahead of him, Jessica was arranging food at the table; Jack dragged him to a desk and a stack of papers and crayons. Behind him, Hotch merely clapped Reid's shoulder. "You look better." He paused, and added in the same tone. "God knows you couldn't have looked worse."

"Ha, ha. Keep it up and one of these days I will join a boy band."

"No chance. I've heard you sing."

Reid pulled a chair up to the desk next to Jack, and picked up a few crayons, "And singing has what to do with being in a boy band?"

"Daddy, color with us." Jack insisted, handing Hotch a particularly lurid looking purple crayon.

Reid looked a challenge at his boss.

Hotch took the crayon, and raised an eyebrow at him. "You tell ANYBODY about this, Reid, and I'll reconsider firing you."

Jack snorted. "Daddy…you're not going to fire Uncle Spencer." He said, sounding as if he thought the idea was absurd. "Now you're being silly."

"That's your Dad, Jack. First rate comedian." Reid replied.

For some reason Jack found that thought hilarious. Jessica also joined in, snickering at the table. And for as stern as he tried to look Reid rather thought Hotch might have found the thought a little funny himself.

X X X X

Two days later, Reid sighed to himself on the team's plane back towards Quantico.

He'd gotten through the memorial, speaking briefly to a room full of his mother's colleagues and former students. He'd related a simple story that he felt could sum up what he felt without completely losing it: he'd repeated to the group the message he'd once recorded when "for about the thousandth time, I'd put my life in jeopardy…" (that garnered a share of smirks from his assembled co-workers). It was the recording he'd had Garcia make when he'd contracted Anthrax. Simply put: he loved his mother, and was always proud to be her son.

Giving that little speech had been the hardest thing he'd ever done. And considering he'd killed men, that was saying something.

Somehow, he'd gotten through the afternoon. Sometimes, the tears seemed to want to overpower him, and that scared him: raw emotion was never something he'd dealt well with. Yet, every time that had happened, one of his team-mates seemed to be by his elbow. Morgan pulling him away asking questions about one of his mom's papers, that had been presented at the home. Rossi, extricating Reid from a particularly emotional flood from the dean of literature of UNLV to ask about local Italian restaurants. Garcia just always seeming to know when he needed a hug, and somehow her hug managed to make everything better.

Hotch, just being there. Being Hotch.

Now, most of the team was asleep, and Reid was alone with his thoughts. His thoughts, and a rather large album he'd assembled of photos from his mom's collection.

"Can I sit with you?" Jack asked, coming over to him shyly.

Reid smiled at the boy, and patted the leather seat next to him. Jessica was flying commercially, but somehow Jack had cajoled Hotch into letting him on the jet. Reid knew this was quite a treat for the kid; if Strauss ever found out about it there would be hell to pay. But who would tell?

Jack scooted in to the seat and right up next to Spencer. "Can I see the pictures with you?"

"Sure, Jack." Reid opened up to the first page. "That's my mom, and me…I was about three years old." His father had probably taken the photo; Reid was at a chess table, looking slightly confused, while his mother beamed beside him. He had just won his first match (he knew from the caption; it certainly wasn't something even he'd stored in his eidetic memory).

"She was pretty." Jack said, looking thoughtfully at the much younger Diana Reid, with long, blond hair and sparkling eyes. "She looked so happy."

"She was happy…that day." There were a lot of happy days when he was little. Fewer as his mother's condition got worse, and those days became rare once his father left.

Together he and Jack went through the book, Reid stopping to answer Jack's questions, telling Jack the happy stories from his childhood.

It wasn't until they got through two thirds of the book that something dawned on the boy as missing. "Where's your Dad, Uncle Spencer?"

Hoo, boy. Did he have an hour? "My parents got divorced when I was just a little older than you, Jack. I stayed with my Mom…and he kind of moved out of my life." Reid said, quietly. He ran a thoughtful finger over a photo of him with his Mom when he'd graduated high-school, age thirteen. A good day for his Mom, he'd gotten her cleaned up and out of the house; she looked both proud and terrified; he looked…God, look at him. He was far too old for a thirteen year old, even a precocious one. He could see a mile away the burden that child bore…the dark circles under his eyes and the wariness, the watchful look on his face, just waiting for his mother to have a panic attack.

If Spencer Reid, adult, saw Spencer Reid, child, on the streets today, he'd be on the phone to family services within seconds.

"My Dad said your mom had been sick for a long time." Jack mused, looking at another picture, a slightly older Reid with his Mom, the last Christmas they were in his childhood house. Right before he went to Cal Tech for his graduate degree. Reid had set the timer on the camera to that photo, as he suspected what their future held, even if he wasn't admitting to it. Jack had picked up on it being one of Mom's bad days; she stared in to the camera, fearful, unsure, nothing like the woman she had once been. Beside her, Spencer held her hands tight in one of his, the other arm draped over her in a hug. He looked protective and strong in that photo; he was more the parent than the child. "You took really good care of her."

"I tried to, Jack." He sighed deeply. "It isn't always easy to know the right thing to do…to know the right thing for her, or for me." Forgetting he was talking to a child, he forged on. "I can look back now and see things should have been different, in a lot of ways, there should have been more help, should have been more money, should have been more support. But at the same time I'm not sure if I would have done anything differently."

"She loved you. You loved her. That's all that matters." Jack said, reaching over to hug him.

Suddenly the tears that Reid had managed to hold inside for a very long time spilled over his cheeks. They were quiet tears; he would not sob. But he could no longer keep the dam up on the grief he held inside. He had loved his mother. She had loved him. And losing her hurt. He squeezed the boy tight to him, accepting the unconditional love of a child who understood how he was feeling too well.

There was a slight rustling sound, and suddenly across from him was Hotch. Reid managed to meet his eye, and he forced a shaky smile. Hotch nodded once and reached over and squeezed his shoulder. "You need to let this out, Reid. You've held it in for too long, and that isn't a good thing." A brief pause. "And I know how rich that must sound coming from me."

A laugh of acknowledgment escaped from him, then he gave in, broke down, and truly cried for the first time since he'd learned of his mother's death.

X X X X

The weeks went by. Reid went back to work as soon as he was able to, and blessings of all blessings, a case had come up. Nearly a month pursuing an unsub in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a pretty effective way of not having to think too much about personal things. And the case was complex enough that it kept him engaged...no time for awkward memories to intersperse.

They arrived back at the office at 4pm on a Friday, just ten weeks to the day from when he'd stormed Hotch's office over Jack. He half smirked in memory of that; impossible, with everything that had happened since to even conceive of Hotch without Jack. And if Hotch ever tried to do something so amazingly stupid again, Reid'd kill him.

Around him, co-workers were dumping files and heading out...Morgan mentioned something about beer and Reid shooed him away; next Friday, maybe...but not this one. Beer with Morgan meant a late night, and that wasn't in the cards for him this evening. He'd scrounge up dinner, maybe put in a movie. Not more than that.

He barely noticed that again, he was the second to last person out. Although it seemed Hotch was not far behind him; his boss was locking his office while on the cell phone. Reid gave him a slight wave as he slung his bag over his shoulder to make for the door.

"Wait...hold on a second...Reid?" Hotch called to him. "Jack wants to know if you want to come over for dinner. It's pizza night."

"Um..." Reid hesitated; strange to feel awkward after all this. Really, wouldn't he be intruding?

Hotch had come up next to him, cell phone next to his ear. "Jack is insisting. He has several new drawings he wants to show you."

"I wasn't planning on a late night." He replied, lamely.

Hotch rolled his eyes. "Well, Jack and I weren't planning on hitting up any strip clubs after dinner...what's that, buddy?" Hotch blushed suddenly. "Um, a strip club is...um...kind of a place where people...never mind, Jack; hey, I'll pick up ice-cream for desert on the way home...with chocolate syrup!" He added in a rush.

Reid nearly doubled over laughing.

"And your Uncle Spencer will be there." Hotch said, half glaring at Reid through his embarrassment, as he hung up the phone. "Great, Reid...you better put your brain to coming up with some kind of definition of strip club or I'll never hear the end of it." He grumbled.

Then he noticed the photo.

A new one...or rather, one newly framed. It was the one Jack had liked so much, of his mother, young, beautiful, sane...and him, age three, staring in to the camera. Hotch smiled, and picked it up. "She was an amazing woman, Reid."

"I wish you'd known her better." Reid replied.

"I know enough." Hotch countered. "I know you are an amazing person, and that had to come from somewhere. Clearly not your father."

Reid shrugged. "He had his hand in making me what I am, for better or worse. As your father did you." He pointed out. "I've accepted that."

"Yeah, neither were father of the year material." Hotch understated. "You do know your father is an idiot and a fool, right?"

Reid grinned. "Not a complete fool. He ran like hell when you threatened to shoot him."

"And I'd have done it, too." Hotch raised an eyebrow. "Well, in the end, they both lost, our fathers. Yours will never know the man you are. Mine died unable to make me the same sadist he lived to be."

"So...if they lost...we won?" Reid asked. He chewed lightly on his lower lip in thought over that. There were days still where he doubted everything about himself except his brain; that was his father's legacy. He imagined there would still be days where Hotch would fear letting his father's violence come out in him; that was the Hotchner legacy.

"We're still fighting." Hotch corrected. "I don't know if you get to declare yourself a winner until the game is over."

Fighting. Yes, that he could do.

It made it easier to know he wasn't fighting alone.

Reid took the picture from Hotch and put it back down on the desk, and moved to follow him out. "Let's get caramel sauce, too!" He grinned up at his boss.

Hotch rolled his eyes. "You're a bigger kid than my son is!"

"Technically, not possible...the etymology of the word "kid" coming from the German..." Reid spouted off happily as Hotch pushed him towards the doorway, rolling his eyes in mock exasperation. Possibly Reid was intentionally being annoying. Possibly Hotch was not really annoyed. Possibly all of this was one more step to normalcy.

That is, for them.