Chapter Twenty Four: Home
Vegas was significantly less glamorous in the middle of the day, Emily thought, but just as packed with people. This was why their taxi was moving so slowly, inching through the throngs of traffic. It didn't bother her particularly; she wasn't a fan of Vegas as a city (she tended to…over-indulge…in Vegas), so she was in no hurry to hit the Casinos or bars or what have you. She was here for just one reason.
"This is ridiculous," Spencer muttered from where he was sitting by her left side. "If we'd just taken the back roads we'd have been there half an hour ago."
"Yeah, well, most people aren't natives, hon." she said lightly, reaching over to give his arm a gentle squeeze. "They don't know this place like you do."
"But who thinks cutting through the tourist traps is a good idea? On a Saturday?" he grumbled. He was being grumpy and passive-aggressive. Nerves, no doubt. As much as she hated to see him anxious, she was almost glad that he was being so vocal about it. It was a good distraction from her own anxiety.
"We should be there soon," she said, trying her best to sound calm. "What time did you tell the Doctor?"
"Just that we'd be there in the early afternoon."
"Ah, see, then we literally can't be late. No specific time."
He didn't say anything, because of course they both knew being late wasn't what he was worried about.
When they finally did pull up in front the clinic, 'early' afternoon was dangerously close to 'late' afternoon. Spencer gave the driver a healthy tip despite this.
"I've memorized his license plate. We're never hiring that guy again," he said as they watched the cab retreat. Then they both turned and faced the clinic.
The two of them stood in front of the sliding doors together, gazing up at the building for what felt like a long time. Neither of them said anything, and even though she knew she should, Emily couldn't bring herself to take the first step forward.
"Maybe we should go back to the Hotel," Spencer blurted out. "This might be a little sudden for her, and I don't want her to say anything…I don't want her to come off wrong to you…"
She listened quietly. They had no intention of turning around, but she felt she needed to let him get this off his chest.
"It's just that she can be a little, um, hysterical. She says things she doesn't mean, or hits herself. She doesn't take change in my life very well…"
"Didn't the doctor say she was having a good week?"
"That can change on a dime," he said flatly.
"Well, she won't scare me off. I promise."
He smiled weakly at her. "I know. I just want her to…"
"Is that the word? I guess it must be."
"What about your letters?" she asked, with sudden interest. They'd been together for almost six months now, and she knew he wrote letters to his mother very frequently. Surely she'd come up in at least a few of them?
"I talk about you, but she doesn't respond to those parts. It's like she didn't see them. That's fairly typical."
Now she was getting nervous. Diana Reid was really a blank slate to her, then. She could literally expect almost any reaction, and not all of them good. A sudden urge to turn and run all the way back to the hotel was starting to overtake her; it was one thing to be introduced to your significant other's family, but usually they weren't actually crazy.
Ill, she reminded herself, a little ashamed. Not crazy.
"We've come this far," she said, sounding a lot braver than she felt. "Come on."
Reid hesitated…and then nodded, and they stepped forward. The glass doors slid open soundlessly, and they ventured inside together.
They'd been sitting in the common room having a quiet conversation (about what, who knew, Emily was only half-thinking about what she was saying she was so nervous), when Dr. Norman returned with Diana. Immediately she stopped breathing; this was it.
Diana Reid was looking between her and Spencer quickly, as if she couldn't decide which one to focus on. Her lips were pressed together and her eyes hard. She and the doctor came to a stop before them.
"Shall I leave you three alone?" Dr. Norman asked Spencer, casting a wary glance in Emily's direction. Spencer nodded and waved him off. Then they were sitting opposite this blond, disheveled woman whose opinion mattered more than anyone's at the moment.
Unexpectedly, it was Diana who spoke first. "So you're Emily?" she asked. The both of them nodded in unison, and she stuck out her bony hand. "Spencer's told me about you. So pleased to finally meet you. It's about time he brought you to meet his own mother."
She shot her son a slightly withering look, but the tension was gone. In her own way, she approved.
Early on Monday morning Emily turned the key to her brownstone and let the two of them in; she had to push the door a little harder than usual to slide the pile of boxes across the floor. Spencer didn't have much in the way of actual furniture or clothes to bring with him, but he had more than enough books to fill as many moving boxes as a family of five. Morgan complained about as much when they enlisted the team's help with the move, he, Rossi and JJ carting boxes out of the tiny apartment while Garcia and Hotch went over the list of things to sell with Spencer. She figured one more day of work would be enough to finish off the process, provided of course her own bookshelves didn't collapse under the weight of it all.
"I'm going to go check the mail," she said as Reid disappeared into the kitchen to start some coffee, and she turned back out the door. Her postbox was just a little ways down the street, and she wrapped her coat tighter around her shoulders as she hurried along, snow falling gently down through the air around her.
There was only one letter in their box when she opened it, and she snatched it and glanced at the front. It was to Spencer, and the loopy, meticulous handwriting was all too familiar.
She bit her lip, frozen to the spot. They hadn't seen nor heard from Gideon again in the months since the meeting with Strauss. It was like his first disappearance all over again, and now here was the final goodbye letter to finish off the impression. Perhaps.
Would Spencer even want to read this? He didn't talk about Gideon much, although she noticed that when he did he continued to refer to him as 'Jason,' whereas before he was always called, somewhat honorifically, by his surname. It did not take much of a profiler to figure out why that could be. Anytime he DID talk about his former mentor was cool-headed, however, his rage perhaps tempered by the fact that Gideon had thrown in the towel, in the end… but would this letter mess that up?
Furthermore, how did Gideon even know that they were living together now? Was he keeping tabs on them, somehow? Did he have a mole within the FBI? It wasn't as if they'd kept their decision to move into her house much of a secret in the past few months…
She shuddered at the idea of being spied on, but tucked the letter into her jacket. She'd give it to him later today, after the team had come and gone. He was looking forward to today, no sense getting it off to an awkward start.
"You guys, I think this is the last thing!"
Morgan was crouched on the floor amid a pile of empty boxes and bubble-wrap, a huge tome in his hands. The rest of the team (including baby Henry, who was sitting placidly in JJ's lap where she was taking her break in the corner) was situated around the room, stuffing books into already super-stuffed shelves. Reid himself had nothing left to do, and instead stood in the middle with his hands hanging at his sides, amazed and touched by their continued help. Morgan stood up, a huge grin across his handsome features.
"An Advanced Anthology of 21st Century Existentialism," he read off the cover of the book in his hands. "Kid, you need some new hobbies."
"It was for school," he said defensively.
"Er…well, it wasn't on the course list persay, but…"
Morgan shook his head, amazed but apparently not at all surprised. "'Aight, everyone else put their last books away?"
"Barely," Hotch said, from where he was standing in front of a bookcase with his palms out, as if he were afraid it were about to explode.
"Then this will be the LAST last one. As soon as this gets put somewhere, you're officially moved in," he said to Reid. He looked around the room, and then decisively stuck the book in the middle of Emily's coffee table. "It will make the perfect tea tray. Congrats!"
Unexpectedly everyone swarmed him in a rather disjointed group hug, having to lean over boxes as they did so. Only JJ refrained, standing up with Henry on her hip, smiling wryly at the proceedings.
"This calls for a drink!" Rossi announced, and everyone broke apart. "Emily! Have you got any champagne?"
"Have I got any champagne?" Emily mimicked from in the kitchen, where she was working on dinner. "It's like you don't know me at all."
"So how's it feel to have a house again?" Morgan asked, wrapping an arm around his shoulder while they walked into the kitchen.
"It's not like I've been living on the streets all this time, Morgan."
"Yeah, but it's home now, y'know?" he paused. "How in the world are you ready for this? It's only been a few months."
"We just are," he said for what felt like the thousandth time.
Morgan stopped entirely now, and waited until everyone else had filed into the next room. Then, under his breath, "Listen, you know I'm behind you and Emily every step. An' I know I've been harassing you about this for weeks. But I gotta know that my friends aren't just doing this to please Strauss."
He wasn't even fazed. It was an argument both he and Emily had been listening to ever since that last meeting. Strauss had asked what the nature of their relationship was, and they replied that it was in no way a casual affair. She felt uneasy about that answer, but had to take their word for it. They announced their intention to move in together less than a week later. Some people found this suspicious, and had staged mini-interventions much like Morgan was doing now (Hotch included). It was true; the bureau had every right to be suspicious of couples who casually dated, but people who lived together under one roof were, in this day and age, to be treated with near-equal status as that of a married couple. To behave otherwise was considered archaic, and more importantly, 'politically-incorrect,' something the politician in Strauss couldn't abide. She couldn't touch them, now.
It was even true that this immunity did take a part –perhaps even a large part—in their decision. But it was not the main driving point. Not even close.
"My answer hasn't changed," he said. "Honestly, Derek, I'm happy. We both are. This isn't scary to me like you think it is."
Morgan was examining his eyes –no doubt looking for signs of hesitance or dishonesty—but Reid knew he wouldn't find any. Everyone knew he was a terrible liar, so if he appeared to be telling the truth, he was. Morgan turned away with a wistful sigh.
"I envy you, man…I couldn't be that sure about something like this in a thousand years. Especially not at your age."
"Well, I am a genius. I generally know what I'm doing."
The older man smirked, and then pulled him into the kitchen, where JJ was waiting with two glasses of champagne for them.
It was just after ten thirty when everyone had finally gone home. Emily closed the door after Garcia and Morgan, the ones who'd stayed the longest (JJ and Hotch left first, both with their sons to think about and, in JJ's case, an eternally patient husband waiting at home) and pressed her forward against the window, breathing deep. It had been an exhausting day, and work was starting back up tomorrow after their few days off. It was kind of everyone to schedule their days off all at once (Sam's team took over their duties for the day). Rest was needed.
Reid was waiting in the living room for her, and she wanted nothing more than to crawl into his arms and just talk, about the day, about the weekend in Vegas, about how in the world they were going to make their bookshelves functional again (she may have to convert one of her guestrooms into a library, but they'd cross that bridge when they came to it). But there was one thing that had to be done first.
She walked over to her coat where it was hanging, and reached into her pocket. Gideon's letter, slightly crumpled from it's time buried under the jackets of half the profilers in the BAU, still needed to be delivered. It wasn't something she looked forward to; her lover was in such a good mood, today. He'd even gotten to play with Henry. She gripped the letter tighter, and hoped Gideon had the good sense not to write anything too distressing.
Spencer was sitting on the couch with his feet up on the table, like she'd expected, leaning his head back with his eyes closed. Completely relaxed, completely exhausted. She cleared her throat and he looked at her blearily.
"Something came in the mail for you," she said, sitting down next to him. He took the letter from her and scanned the front.
"This is from Jason."
There was a three second pause where Emily wasn't sure how he was going to react, and then he started tearing at the sides like it was any other piece of mail. He unfolded the sheet of paper within and she sat patiently, resisting the urge to read it over his shoulder. It only took two seconds before he actually snorted out loud.
"What? What is it?" He passed it to her and she read out loud.
"'To avoid repeating past mistakes'…and then he gives you a number?" Spencer nodded, even as she turned the paper over looking for more writing. "He sent you his phone number?"
"We talked about how last time he didn't even call when he disappeared," Spencer said, without an ounce of distress in his voice. "What's interesting to me is that he sent me HIS number, instead of just calling. If he knows I live here now then he obviously knows the number."
"He left the choice to speak to him again up to you."
"So it would seem."
"That's…progress, I guess?"
To that, Spencer seemed to have nothing to say. The hand holding the letter dropped into her lap as she looked at him, searching for a way to enter the conversation she felt they should have.
"Are you…going to call him?"
"I might. I don't know, it's hard to be sure about anything to do with him. I don't think HE'S even sure about anything he does," he took the letter out of her hands and placed it on the table, ending the talk. It was the sort of assertive move she couldn't imagine him making when she first met him but was now becoming increasingly common. "But it doesn't matter right now. What matters is that I'm here, now, and we don't have to live in a pile of boxes anymore."
She laughed and leaned in to kiss him as he moved towards her. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and propped his chin on the top of her head, and she could feel in his body that he was completely relaxed. Embraces like this hadn't put him on edge in such a long time; it was hard to think back to the days when he would shy away from a handshake, back in the days when all they had in common was crime and chocolate. But of course, that wasn't all they had in common, was it? To think it had taken all this to figure that out.
Half an hour later JJ called and let them know they would probably be leaving on a case tomorrow, so they were advised to prepare their go-bags. "Sorry for kicking you out of your new place so soon, Reid," she said. "The case is in Alaska, so this might be a long trip."
After the phone was hung up, Emily stood and took Spencer by the hand and led him upstairs to their room. They would prepare for the case later, of course, but right now –and probably for many years to come—they would take refuge against such things when they could.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who stuck with this story through all the delays. Thanks to all the readers and all the reviewers especially. This is the single longest thing I've written, and your kind words made it easier to keep going when I might otherwise have stopped. And thanks for the constructive criticism, too!
I've had a lot of fun with this story and I hope you liked at least some of it, dear reader. If even a sentence of it gave you some sort of enjoyment, than I consider this a success. Happy fanfictioneering!