Title: Attitude Adjustment
Title: Attitude Adjustment
Warnings: Spoilers up to Proof.
Pairings: No explicit ones. Reid versus the Team, somewhat Reid & Team centric.
Summary: 'All of our actions have consequences eventually, they might come sooner, they might come later but they always come,' Spencer deals with the betrayal and other problems on his mind, and he has enough of them to spare for few people.
Word count: About 7 600 with the possibility of going up.
DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. I just took them out to play and I promise to put them back when I'm done.
Feedback is welcomed with open arms.
Anger wishes that all mankind had only one neck; love, that it had only one heart; grief, two tear-glands; and pride, two bent knees.
Jean Paul Richter
Attitude Adjustment: Adopting Attitude
He was telling the truth when he told Emily that he wasn't sure that he was going to make it to Rossi's yesterday, after she apologized for their deception he gave her elusive answer but he was quite adamant to not go at all and spend the evening and the rest of the weekend at home but his efforts to avoid meeting the team outside the office were stonewalled quite quickly thanks to his annoying, extremely supportive and supposedly well-meaning neighbors.
He was going and that was on order and he knew better than to argue when Jeff Moretti sacrificed better part of his Ultra Hot Date Night just to drive him over to Rossi's place while Kelly Dupoint cancelled his order for pizza and her partner Zoe Howard along with another neighbor, Kate Cameron removed from Spencer's vicinity remaining distractions.
He was evicted from his own apartment without as much as a blink and he only managed to grab his jacket before Jeff dragged him down to the parking and to the car.
They said that he was allowed to have private life and that he was allowed to enjoy it. Kelly and Zoe were present when he brushed off JJ's offer to meet for a brunch over the weekend, Kate saw him turning off his cell-phone later on and Jeff claimed during their on and off semi-weekly evening that he had hard time to keep up with Spencer's tempo and that for Jeff it was saying something and all four of them had claimed that in last few weeks he had undergone a hell of attitude adjustment and not in a good direction either.
So in the end they booted him out from his flat and Jeff delivered him to Rossi's house.
It was utterly humiliating for him to be handled like a hot-tempered teenager but the alternative was even more humiliating and besides if he would be able to control himself for the better part of the evening then he wouldn't have to talk about things other than things he was expected to talk about which meant his trust issues and whatever or not he was going to get another degree.
So he would talk and give the air of slowly letting go of his anger and frustration, he would smile few times, laugh few times to maintain the façade of 'I'm fine, there is nothing wrong with me'. Once the evening would end Morgan or Garcia would drive him home, he would head up, go to sleep and spend the rest of his weekend just like he planned, in the privacy of his flat, with minimal involvement of overly well-meaning neighbors if he would be able to save half of hour for a brunch with Kelly and Zoe or Kate because Jeff surely was going to sleep until early afternoon at the very least.
It was nothing but ironic that the answer to JJ's deception was a deception of his own but he needed more time to adjust to the changes in his life and right now when he needed the support of his team the most he found himself unable to ask for it and he had to rely on support of the people whom up until last three weeks he considered distant though friendly acquaintances.
But that was what he got for leaving in a bohemian community in Chinatown. Naturally considering what aforementioned bohemians were doing for a living which actually as far from bohemian lifestyle as one could get for they were two doctors, plastic surgeon and psychiatrist respectively, one high-school teacher and one ex-prosecutor turned federal agent (not of FBI).
Nevertheless they treated each other like a family and Spencer himself was occasionally adopted for different outings, accompanied Kelly and Kate to occasional medical conference one time here, one time there, argued with Zoe on occasions about French literature and when Jeff was stuck with an extremely annoying cold case he used Spencer as his sounding board.
He really wanted to be back at home even if he would have to get through the wall of frowning females which would try to stop him as soon as he entered his flat on earlier hour than they expected him to come back.
Apparently him being a single father didn't mean that he had to sacrifice his private life on the altar of fatherhood – Zoe's dramatic proclamation supported by Kate's nod and enigmatic grimace.
In fact he had brought it on his head by his own. Subconsciously he knew at some point his past drug-use will come back to haunt him and that he should really consider himself lucky that it ended the way it did. Not that he believed in luck but that was it, he was lucky enough to avoid the worst outcome.
He just wasn't lucky enough to avoid Tracy O'Malley.
Four years ago when the lines between nightmares and horrid crimes he faced everyday were blurring Tracy O'Malley had given him two bottles of Dilaudid for relatively cheap price and he was desperate enough to succumb to her allure. Really, it was flattering and at that moment her warmth, sinful sway of hips and most important back then her drugs were enough to lure him into heated, slightly awkward but rewarding intercourse of sexual nature.
Luckily the only thing he got from her aside of the obvious was mild cold and no STD, which considering circumstances was a small wonder.
Four years was just enough time to put that part of his life behind and move on even if Emily's supposed death had brought the shadows closer to the surface and yes, he told JJ that he thought about starting to take Dilaudid again and it was the truth but the desire to get nicely stoned sized him while he was on an out of state consults with Morgan and unlike JJ who seemed to completely forgot about his stint with drugs Morgan knew better than to allow Spencer to wander off in the direction of the nearest junkyard.
So there he was, he moved past the stage of wandering if being drugged to the gills would dull the ache he felt in his heart whenever he thought about Emily and he moved from thinking to acting with the speed and dedication that raised more than several eyebrows. He started spending more time at the firing range, added an hour here, an hour there to spend at the gym, made running with Jeff more regular thing than in the past two years and then to use the slang and Jeff's favorite idiom, the shit hit the fan, on all fronts.
Emily turned out to be very much alive and back and with Declan being kidnapped he had not a lot of time to concentrate on acknowledging the extent of JJ's betrayal. The idea itself had flashed through his mind but he didn't examined it until after he crawled out from Jeff's guest bathroom where he woke up with a mother of all migraines, the feeling that something quite recently died in his mouth and prompted him to vomit everything he had eaten in past week (practically impossible but that was how he felt back then).
As annoying as it was he was deliriously happy with suspension and the hearing in front of the senate committee because he didn't think that he would be able to maintain a façade of calmness in front of JJ. He knew that in the moment he saw her too early he would fly off the handle, spectacularly on that with very probable involvement of physical violence.
So he stewed in peace for three days, with interruptions brought up by the girls dragging him out for lunch and directing most of his steam towards good causes. Zoe had him involved with helping in homeless kitchen and he spend the second night handing out soup, tea, coffee and sandwiches to the less fortunate ones. Kate's twin nieces and nephew got nicely fixed bookcases. It took him half of hour to assemble the pieces, put each bookcase together and move them to their appropriate rooms before he spend an afternoon with Jeff tailing a suspect of the case Jeff was working on.
The third day after he was suspended he spend in similar fashion, blowing off his steam by physical work and avoiding the team like a plague, he even went as far as to help the owner of his previous flat in his music shop to fill in for the employee who went down with violent food poisoning.
It was simple, the more of physical work, the more of dealing with people he wasn't supposed to trust with his life the calmer he became and the initial fury lowered to irritation under the façade of calmness. It wasn't the best solution but it was enough to get Kelly and Zoe of his back which left more skilled in reading the nuances of facial expressions due to their occupation Jeff and Kate frowning and shaking their heads but since they also let him be and didn't bother him as much as before he was on the best way to calm down to complete coolness just in time for the hearing.
That was his plan, to calm down utterly through the combination of physical work and maintaining the façade of calmness in contact with other people but on the fourth day of the suspension everything went to hell.
Tracy O'Malley was the last person whom he expected to find waiting at his door three weeks ago and she wasn't alone.
Except she left Spencer's apartment building alone and the company she brought with herself stayed with Spencer. The company had three feet and three inches of height and weighed thirty lbs, each. The company also happened to answer to names Noah and Aaron and happened to be three years and eight months old.
And for Spencer past three weeks were crash-course on single parenting of monozygotic twins who couldn't sit straight for longer than a minute and as far as Tracy's finances allowed were spoiled rotten.
The thought of calling the team or at the very least someone from the team had lead nowhere because he didn't trust those who knew the most about parenting any longer and the last thing he wanted from JJ or Hotch was being pitied. He also knew that Morgan was working out his own trust issues in a new house he was planning to flip, Rossi's editor was on the edge of losing his senses thanks to the all delays and calling Garcia on extension meant summoning the whole team.
So he had to rely on the help of his neighbors and their help was gigantic. Between themselves and with few Spencer's directions Jeff and Kate, along with Terry, the PE teacher from third floor had cleaned off Spencer's study by moving most of the bookcases out of the room to his bedroom and sitting room. In the meantime Zoe and Kelly took Spencer's credit card hostage and went on a speed shopping for toddler friendly furniture.
It really took them a day to put together quite smartly furnished room for two boys.
Next crash-course he received or rather the part of the first one was cooking for picky eaters who while not allergic to any food had a long list of dislikes. By the fourth day of fatherhood Spencer was frantic with worry that everything Noah and Aaron would be eating ever will be cold fries because warm were on the list of 'no-no' and cocoa, not exactly a proper diet for growing boys.
Kate managed to shake some sense into him and patiently and repeatedly explained to Spencer that the twins were acting out the abandonment, change of the situation and they were simply checking how far Spencer would allow them to control his life and that the best course of action was patiently showing to them that he was the boss.
Spencer was dubious about her approach and he almost caved in and went to Burger King nearby for the fries when the twins started whining that they were hungry but they didn't even look at the dinner Spencer prepared for them but then he realized that if he caved in once, he would cave in again and again and each time he caved in he would be proving to the boys that they were controlling him and not the other way around.
So he told them that they will either eat their sandwiches for dinner or they would go to sleep hungry and the crestfallen look on their faces made him feel like the lowest vermin on earth and he himself went to bed hungry with guilt weighing heavily on his stomach.
The guilt ebbed slightly after few hours later the boys woke him up saying that they were very hungry and this time previously frowned upon sandwiches were cleared off. Naturally they tried to seize control again and again but Spencer learned his lesson after that night. If he could face off serial killers for a living he could also establish control over a pair of toddlers.
It was hard but it was very slowly becoming easier to ignore fussiness over sweets and toys the twins wanted him to buy and boy his first shopping trip with Aaron and Noah was a literal walk of shame that gave him a headache and made him swear off walks with them for three days when the cabin fever sent him to the park.
In the meantime he read everything about parenting he could get his hands on but better than books were actual advices on parenting. It was also what frustrated him the most. If it wasn't for their deception about Emily Spencer would have turned to JJ, Will and Hotch in the first place, adding their advices to the growing list he was receiving from Kelly and Zoe and Kate, along with the advices of Terry and Mrs Henderson who was a retired preschool teacher. If it wasn't for their deception Spencer would have a proper support system he and the boys needed.
Asking Will for advice was out of questions as long as he remained angry with JJ.
Somehow he managed to make through the suspension and the hearing without losing his mind but what followed shattered what remained from his façade of calmness.
Everybody was acting as if nothing had changed, as if they all hadn't been fucked over for greater good. Yes it was pretty strong choice of words but it was exactly how he felt.
Garcia was excited that Emily was alive, Rossi didn't even blink and Hotch and JJ acted as if nothing had changed. The only difference was that Emily's return cooled down a great deal the relationship between Morgan and Hotch, but Morgan didn't initially act hostile towards Emily and didn't give any indication of being hostile to JJ and if he did Spencer wasn't there to see it.
That Hotch expected them to be angry with him and him alone for making this decision was almost laughable and almost naïve for someone as experienced as Hotch. True, Hotch was a part of the deceit but he wasn't the only person who knew the truth and he certainly didn't remember what Aristotle wrote: anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.
Spencer reminded Hotch of it when they were down in Oklahoma. Hotch wasn't the one he went to cry because of Spencer's courtesy to not bestow upon Hotch his own grief when Haley's death was still so recent, yes, over a year had passed but Spencer had a feeling that Haley's death was still affecting Jack and therefore affecting Hotch. For Jack's sake Spencer avoided going to Hotch aside of that laughable grief counseling session and now he was only glad that he didn't go to Hotch because at least now he had the satisfaction of proving Hotch wrong, reminding him that sometimes what one wanted the most they weren't going to get.
But everything was different with JJ. She was his best friend and he trusted her to understand how much he needed support to do what he was doing and still keep his composure in front of the rest of the team. Being over at her house, spending time with her, Will and Henry comforted him a great deal. Quietly he admired her composure, her patience and her understanding. Her support helped him regain his footing.
When he was with Aaron and Noah they had his undivided attention and he didn't allow himself to think about anything else than doing right by them, pleasing them while still remaining in control and the only time he allowed his thoughts to wander past his sons was when they were sleeping and in the waking hours of the morning.
And with each day of everything being all right at the surface because what really should matter was having Emily back he was getting more and more frustrated and more and more angry.
So he brushed her off, repeatedly. He ignored her invitations, hid behind non-existent class schedules, taking care of the problems with his mum (that part was actually true, except he handled the problems with her medication over the phone but she didn't need to know that he was spending the weekend with his sons).
Her fixation to draw him out from his stupor and to finally get him to talk made him finally lose it and answer to the invitation for confrontation. He wanted to slap her for implicating, for daring to think that what hurt him the most about the deception was that he was unable to decipher it from the start. He couldn't believe that she of all people would have said something like that about him but then again she had done a lot of things he never expected her to do, like lying to him while looking him straight in the eye.
Calling her Jennifer was a first because all of her friends called her JJ and the only person who called her differently was Will when he called her Jen or Jenny, even if mostly he called her JJ like the others. No one who know her called her Jennifer.
Bringing up Dilaudid had a desired effect on her. He wouldn't have shaken her harder even if he actually hit her physically and that he was keeping his mouth shut while she was nicking his parsley didn't mean that he was going to trust her again.
Cooking allowed his mind to wander back home to his, by now, sleeping sons. He knew that they were in good care. After all they were under Kate's, Kelly's and Zoe's care and whom like whom he could trust experienced mothers to handle two sleeping toddlers while he was with the team.
Last three days only proved that. Sure he missed Noah and Aaron like crazy and they missed him just as much but he knew that they were taken care off while he was gone. While the girls were at work and their own kids were at daycare Noah and Aaron were with Mrs Henderson because Spencer didn't manage to settle the issues with daycare yet. Initially they stayed with Kate who had the most stable hours from all of them and the biggest flat but Kelly and Zoe along with Jeff helped Kate and her nephew to manage them when she needed a hand or two.
There was a difference between knowing that his sons were fine and being there himself to make sure of it.
He really wanted to come back home.
"Henry misses your visits," JJ said suddenly.
He knew that it was an opportunity to prove good will but he wasn't going to give her that. It was too soon so he ignored it and kept to his parsley. He still had about an hour, more like an hour and half before he could return home and he was planning to eat something in the meantime.
Except he could feel her starring at him expectantly so he grudgingly admitted, "I'm busy this weekend and the one after that too."
"It doesn't have to be weekend visit," JJ offered.
"Tight schedule," he muttered.
"He is in Baltimore from Monday to Wednesday," Hotch said as he passed. "I've already booked us a hotel."
Damn. Fooled again.
"Unbook my reservation," Spencer shrugged.
"You are listed as a speaker," Hotch reminded him.
"I said unbook my reservation, Hotch," Spencer pointed out tersely. "I didn't say that I'm not going to attend it because I'm going but I'm not planning to stay in Baltimore for the night."
"So you are going to drive from DC to Baltimore back and forth for three days?" Hotch asked skeptically.
"I'm more surprised that you are making designs at spending three days and two nights away from home three days after you came back from a case," Spencer said simply. "Especially since your progeny just went to first grade. But hey, I'm not a single father of a first grader."
Just a single father of two active toddlers and I want to be home every night I can to do as much as put them to sleep, he thought to himself.
"So you wouldn't mind coming around to read Henry a bedtime story?" JJ asked hopefully. "He misses you, Spence."
Spencer didn't say a word and started slicing tomatoes for the salad. Except now it wasn't just JJ who was staring at the back of his head. It was Hotch and also Rossi, who was looking at him from the side, which meant that in a span of thirty seconds he was going to have the eyes of the whole team on him.
He really should have stayed home and if not then he should have went out with Jeff, sure he would be bored out of his mind but at the very least it would please the saint trio that he went out.
It felt like he pissed off a very moody and still unknown deity. If he said exactly what he was thinking about JJ lowering herself to guilty-trip him about Henry then he would screw the whole evening and Rossi, Garcia and Morgan didn't deserve to be caught in the middle. But if he wouldn't say something, and fast on that the rest of the team, especially Garcia would spend the evening at questioning him senseless.
There had to be some middle ground and he had to find it. There was also the truth and after everything he had been through in past seventh months and especially in past three weeks he didn't want to have his life dissected and he didn't want to be pitied.
Except the remaining alternative was undergoing humiliating to him psych evaluations and Hotch was getting closer and closer to directing him to one very soon.
"Excuse me," he heard Rossi saying. "Reid, can you give me a hand?"
"Just as long as you aren't planning to have me making a soufflé, because you picked the last person who is able to make it look good," Spencer said simply.
"No, I need you in the cellar," Rossi said and he lead Spencer out of the room.
Except instead of leading Spencer to the cellar Rossi lead him to the patio by the swimming pool.
"It wasn't working," Rossi said simply. "And if you kept abusing the parsley any longer your fingers would be next."
"I'm capable of controlling myself," Spencer grimaced.
"Deep inside you know that they didn't have a choice," Rossi pointed out. "And you are still angry and about to chew JJ again. Rightfully or not."
"I shouldn't have come here," Spencer admitted.
"I didn't say that," Rossi shrugged. "I happen to know that out of the whole team you are one of two people capable of not burning the dinner that requires more attention than throwing a steak on the grill which has to be turned over few times."
"So taste wise I came here to make sure that Morgan has something edible on his plate," Spencer said humorlessly. "And I hazard a guess that Hotch is the only other person you trust in the kitchen."
"Correct," Rossi smirked. "You know that the purpose of cooking the dinner was more than eating it and right now you are wounded up tighter than a string and whatever is bugging you right now runs deeper under the surface than your issues with JJ."
"Those issues are just as big," Spencer shrugged. "I'm capable of handling them on my own as long as some people don't make a carnal mistake of questioning my profiling skills in the field and pretending that because the team is back together everything is fine. And the sooner JJ will get rid of her naivety that everything can be fixed with simple I'm sorry the better for her and if I'm the one teaching her that lesson then so be it. Trust isn't given, Rossi, it has to be earned and I'm not going to pretend that everything is okay when it's not."
"Brunch tomorrow?" Rossi offered.
"Don't you have one of those soccer trainings tomorrow?" Spencer asked skeptically.
"I do but they aren't going to take the whole morning you know and Aaron can take a hint," Rossi said simply.
Spencer frowned. He knew Hotch well enough to know that as long as team's stability was on the line hint wasn't something which Hotch would take willingly. But Jack's presence will keep Hotch from raising the most pressing issues.
"I'll be there," Spencer sighed. "Just don't expect me to cheer loudly."
"You know that if you want to leave I can cover for you," Rossi offered. "Not that I'm kicking you out."
"If I will leave now I assure you that most of them will end being camped in front of my door within next half of hour," Spencer grimaced. "And someone has to save us from Morgan's sauce."
He spend the rest of the evening at cooking and making small talk with Morgan over past consults in Baltimore and at maintaining the air of civility towards JJ in front of the team.
He gave her an elusive answer to her question about visiting. He wasn't planning to show up or accept any invitations anyway but a definite no will raise Garcia's attention and the last thing he wanted was being estranged with the only woman on the team who didn't lie to him for months.
He denied JJ's offer to drop him to his house and hitched a ride home with Morgan who was going in opposite direction altogether but nevertheless offered Spencer a ride. Another alternative was hitching a ride with Hotch and right now he didn't want to talk with Hotch all on his own.
The ride was silent unlike the dinner and Spencer said all but ten words altogether before Morgan dropped him off in front of Spencer's apartment building.
He made his way up the fourth floor, through the corridor and down to his door.
It was fifteen minutes past ten and the twins for sure were sleeping in their beds. Dimly lit kitchen and the surrounding silence only confirmed his assumption but he went to check upon them nevertheless.
Noah was sprawled on his stomach, with his left hand clutching on white teddy bear he called Mr Fuzzy. His curly brown hair were spread over his head like a halo.
Spencer smiled at the sight and tucked the covers around him before he moved to Aaron's bed.
Unlike his twin Aaron was sleeping on his back but his hair were fanned over his head like a halo exactly like Noah's. He wasn't clutching on a toy but had his left arm wrapped around small pillow and he completely kicked down the covers.
It was funny how for monozygotic twins the two of them could be completely different at times.
"A sight from sore eyes, aren't they?" he heard from the doorway. "I'm sorry for leaving them but I had to read the riot act to Lian and check upon the girls."
"I don't mind," Spencer said quietly to not wake the boys. "Do you think that the administration would allow us to install doors with the intercom on the corridor?"
"Only if we will fund it," Kate said simply. "How was dinner?"
"Just like I expected," Spencer shrugged. "A bit funny, a bit terse. I would manage without it but part of me is glad that I was able…"
"To test a façade of I'm fine, there is nothing wrong with me?" she offered.
"That too," Spencer grimaced. "And I failed spectacularly. Rossi knows that something is up other than the obvious, Hotch suspects something too and JJ was…"
"Hopeful that you got over it?" she supplied.
"I didn't and I won't anytime soon, Kate," Spencer shrugged as he motioned her out of the room and followed her to the living-room. "I can afford being civil to her but I'm not going to apologize for anything I said to her in past three days. It doesn't work that way and I'm definitely disinclined to trust her again the way I used to."
"Do you want to talk about it?" she offered.
"I do, but not with you and not today. It's a talk for which I need to prepare myself mentally and right now I really don't feel like it," he sighed.
"Okay, you know where to find me if you will change your mind," she said simply. "Have fun tomorrow and don't let Jeff talk you into borrowing the twins to impress his latest conquest."
"You too," Spencer nodded. "How long you will be gone?"
"Weekend for sure, probably I will be away until Wednesday but Kelly and Zoe are staying in town this week and Jeff's team is off the rotation for four days through the end of the week," she said. "He will for sure try to drag you out."
"Just as long as it won't be clubbing I will be fine," Spencer said. "Have a safe flight."
"Bye," she smiled. "I will see you next week either way."
She left his flat and after he closed the door behind her Spencer dropped his jacket and wandered to the shower. Ten minutes later he was sleeping like a baby.
"Stop acting like a toddler, Jeff."
"Please! It's just half of hour, Spencer and I solemnly swear that I will return them to you before the time will run out. If I will be late even for a minute I will give you my company cap."
Spencer rolled his eyes. For six o'clock in the morning he was really starting the day from the wrong foot, not that he was firm believer of the folktale that the side of the bed you dragged yourself from would be able to affect your day.
In the end whatever or not he get up from his bed on the left side didn't matter because what roused him from sleep was Jeff's insistent knocking on his door.
Kate was right about Jeff wanting to borrow the twins to impress his latest conquest and judging by Jeff's whining and his persistence he slept the night in his own bed which meant that the woman he hooked up with didn't belong to the kind of easy ones.
"Wrong company, Jeff," Spencer shrugged and he resumed preparing the coffee. "The answer is no. I'm not letting the twins out from my sight with you just because you want to impress a woman."
"It's not a woman, Spencer," Jeff said quickly. "She is the woman and she has a five years old son."
"She ditched you, stop obsessing," Spencer said simply. "My answer won't change."
"Twenty minutes?" Jeff groaned. "Just few circles around the field and few minutes of conversation?"
"Which field?" Spencer muttered.
"Soccer field at Walker-Jones Elementary," Jeff said quickly. "Her son is playing."
Walker-Jones Elementary. Jack's match was supposed to be there. So either way Spencer was going to listen to Jeff's whining all the way. He might as well succumb now instead of later.
"Twenty minutes, half of an hour tops and if they will be gone from my sight for longer than an hour I will charge you with kidnapping," Spencer muttered.
In the end he was glad that he left the twins with Jeff because as soon as he stepped onto the playground because when he approached the crowd he saw that Hotch and Rossi weren't the only members of the team at the field.
JJ and Henry were with them, though Will didn't seem to be around. He had a little time to turn around and disappear but knowing Jeff and knowing that the twins will carry out his instructions he had no other choice but to stay.
JJ spotted him quite quickly, under two minutes and like a master manipulator Spencer considered her lately she unleashed on him the only thing which would make sure that he won't do a runner on the spot, Henry.
Henry spotted him as soon as he was let out from the stroller and he ran to Spencer happily as fast as his short legs allowed him.
"Uncle Spence!" he squealed happily before he wrapped his arms around Spencer's legs.
"Hey Henry," Spencer smiled after small, defeated sigh. "How are you today young man?"
"Great!" Henry piped up. "We are going to play after the match and then we will go to have a… have a…"
"Brunch?" Spencer offered as he picked him up.
"Your dad is somewhere around?" Spencer asked hopefully.
If Will was around he would have to hold himself together and he would be able to distract JJ for long enough to pull a runner, grab Jeff with the twins (hopefully still in possession of his mental capacities) and come back home. But if Will wasn't around it changed a lot.
"Will is in New York," JJ said quickly. "One of his friends is getting married and he is a best man, so he and the rest have a stag party."
"I'm sure that he will behave," Spencer quipped.
"Listen Spence…" JJ started.
Spencer stared at her with a sneer which seemed to block her but only for a moment.
"I'm sorry, Spence. I'm sorry that I lied to you but we didn't have a choice…" she started. "I feel so horrible…"
"If you are trying to guilty-trip me, Jennifer it's not going to work," Spencer said simply. "All of our actions have consequences eventually, they might come sooner, they might come later but they always come and if someone is unable to bear the consequences then they shouldn't take their actions in the first place. You lied to me, Jennifer. You didn't lie about something small that can be forgiven easily. You lied to me repeatedly in one of the lowest time of my life. Don't expect me to act as if last seven months didn't happen at all because they did happen. Don't expect me to forget it because I won't and not because I have an eidetic memory. I don't need an eidetic memory to always remember that my best friend, someone whom I trusted blindly betrayed all trust I put in her. Am I angry with you? Hell, yes. Will I ever forgive you? Eventually. Will I trust you again? In a line of duty sooner rather than later but outside of work… that day isn't going to come anytime soon."
"Spence…" she started.
"You know…" Spencer grimaced. "We actually buried something in Emily's grave other than empty coffin, me more than the rest. Now if you wouldn't mind I would like to spend some time with my godson without the eventuality of getting an ulcer. We will be somewhere around the field."
With that he turned on his heel and walked away towards the other end of the field, with dragging Henry's stroller in his other hand . He fully expected JJ to follow him but apparently she realized that he didn't want to approach the issue anytime soon, that Henry wrapped himself tightly around Spencer most probably helped.
He realized his mistake quite quickly when he spotted twitchy eyed Jeff by the end of the field with the twins in the state of what Kelly and Zoe deemed pan and demonium.
"I was…" Jeff mumbled. "I've got called away on a case… I really, really, really have to go Spencer. I'm so sorry…"
"Scram," Spencer sighed. "Did it work?"
"She wasn't there," Jeff muttered before he started walking away.
The twins looked at Spencer expectantly while still chorusing the list of wants.
"Okay, you can stop now," Spencer smiled at them. "And as promised," he let go of Henry's stroller and started rummaging in the storage bag in search of a prize, "candy bar," he said quickly as he started tearing off the wrapping of one and handed it to Noah before he unwrapped another and handed it to Aaron.
Henry's pout over not being given the candy disarmed him completely and Spencer pulled out the candy bar he saved for himself and unwrapped it.
After appeasing the sugar intake of three toddlers he started thinking about logistical horror he just managed to maneuver himself into. Jeff was gone, JJ was on the other side of the field and Hotch and Rossi were on the other side of the field and he had with himself three toddlers in two strollers and only one pair of hands.
If he was surrounded by lesser crowd he would have let out Aaron and Noah from the stroller so they could push it on their own. It was one of their most entertaining activity every time they went to the park. But he was surrounded by parents with small kids and they boys would be able to get lost easily in the crowd.
Walking around the field again was out of questions so he dragged the strollers a bit farther from the crowd and pulled out small ball.
After few minutes of initial shyness and suspicious looks thrown both ways he was participating in a small, mock soccer game on his own in the accompaniment of all around giggles and snickers.
It was almost ironic that his sons and his godson had hit off so nicely when Henry's mother was the last person Spencer wanted to see outside of work.
The three of them had played through the major part of the match and when they grew bored with chasing the ball they moved to the game of the most chaotic tag Spencer ever observed.
Finally they climbed into their strollers with expectant looks on their faces and Spencer had seen that look enough times on all three of them to know that it was the time for recovery and a short story.
He was almost finished when he was tackled from behind by a human bullet which quickly wrapped its arms around him with an excited giggle, "Uncle Spencer!"
"Hi Jack," Spencer smiled. "How are you?"
"I'm great," Jack said happily. "Did you watch the match?"
"Only a part of it," Spencer admitted. "But you were great."
Jack looked at him, then at the stroller and then back at Spencer again.
"You didn't meet Noah and Aaron yet," Spencer said. "This is Noah," he pointed at his left side of the stroller and then moved his hand to his right side, "and this is Aaron. They are my sons."
"So they are like my cousins, right?" Jack asked eagerly. "Like Henry."
"Like Henry," Spencer nodded.
"So I have another aunt?" Jasked asked hopefully.
"No," Spencer shook his head. "Their mum is very, very far away and she isn't coming back."
"Oh," Jack mumbled and for a moment he looked pensive before he added, "But they have you so it's okay, right?"
"Right," Spencer nodded. "Come one we will get to your father but I need your help with Henry's stroller."
With Jack's help he managed to come back where JJ and Hotch were waiting along with Rossi. The pair had their backs turned to Spencer and it was Rossi who saw Spencer first. He froze for a moment before he smirked to himself and nodded in his direction.
Spencer froze inwardly. He wasn't ready for it, not yet. Kids? Kids he could stand, kids he could control and even fool into thinking that everything was great. Without doubt JJ relayed to Hotch what he said and this time he was in trouble.
Or worse they all were reaching the conclusion that the strain of dealing with problems with his mum along with single parenthood… Wait! He didn't advertize that he was single parent but he was so wounded up that he was ready to predict their possible reactions when they learned that he was a single parent.
Right in that moment he had nowhere to turn. He could of course turn around and come back home but then he would be avoiding the confrontation and he had enough of it.
He was unable to read Hotch's and JJ's expressions from this distance, they both froze when they saw him with the kids. Rossi's former smirk became the look Spencer learned to associate with concern under the surface of joviality. He was smiling but he was also standing a bit straighter.
"I didn't expect that," Rossi admitted when Spencer was within twenty feet from the group. "Were you holding out on us or was it very recent development?"
"The former," Spencer said simply. "I hit the jackpot of shocks for the month and I'm going to promptly ignore next revelation that comes by. Trust me, we might be converted into a gospel choir and I won't even blink. I won't sing either."
"For a recent development it's surprisingly big," Rossi said pointedly.
"It's recent for me," Spencer shrugged. "It took me some time to get used to the idea but it also proved that I'm capable of dealing with one life-altering revelation at time and since I happen to live with one the choice was obvious. I'm handling it better than I expected that I will be able to handle it and seriously, I'm fine. A bit more sleep deprived, a bit more tired with the mountain ride but it gets better day by day, certainly less bumpy."
"How recent?" Hotch asked cautiously.
"Three weeks and before you will ask, no, I'm not transferring the issues between my home and work. Trust me, if I did you will know because the day when I would let my job affect how I treat my sons or my fatherhood affect my job in not a good way would be the day before I will turn over to you my badge and my gun," Spencer said stiffly. "And it isn't happening anytime soon."
"Their mother…" JJ started.
"Is in Australia," Spencer said simply. "Sydney, last time I checked. No plans for return, she forfeited all parental rights and I was granted the whole custody. And before you ask, I'm fine."
"It explains why you don't want to stay in Baltimore for the night," Hotch said. "And why you delivered me riot act for staying."
"Does it surprise you?" Spencer rolled his eyes.
"That, no," Hotch said simply. "It's the whole idea that surprises me… but I will shake it off. One is slipping away."
Spencer looked down just to see Noah inching towards the soccer ball.
"Noah?" Spencer asked calmly. "What do we say when we want to leave?"
"Can I?" Noah asked innocently.
"That and what else?" Spencer pressed the issue a bit harder.
"Please, Papa?" Noah chimed.
"Can I too, Daddy?" Aaron asked curiously.
"And me?" Henry piped up.
"Yes, but don't go too far," Spencer nodded and then turned to Jack. "Jack could you make sure that they won't run away too far?"
Jack nodded quickly.
"Noah and…?" Rossi asked curiously.
"Aaron," Spencer said simply as he eyed the bunch who started inspecting the soccer ball. "There are only three ways to tell them apart. One is calling out their names and waiting which will say Daddy or which will say Papa. The other is giving them a carrot or a banana to chew. Aaron won't touch a banana and Noah won't look at the carrot. The third is freckles on the back of their necks, Noah has them, Aaron doesn't."
"Good names, wear well," Rossi smirked.
"You think so?" Spencer snorted. "Spend a half of an hour with them and you will change your mind. Noah is calm and mellow but he is capable of staring a broccoli into submission, he posses the power of a pout that can put Henry's pout into shame. Aaron is the complete opposite, persistent to the point of bullying, bull-headed and nine times out of ten he has a retort to everything."
"Sound like someone I know," Rossi chuckled.
"Yeah, like his father," Hotch muttered. "They both took their character after him."
"They seem to be having fun together," JJ said gently.
"That doesn't change anything, Jennifer," Spencer muttered. "You made your choice, live with it."
Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.
Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha
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