Title: Attitude Adjustment
Warnings: Spoilers up to Proof. Mild swearing.
Pairings: No explicit ones. Reid versus the Team, somewhat Reid & Team centric. Testosterone filled chapter.
Summary: "Definition of friendship consist from existence of mutual honesty, equality, sympathy, empathy, desire of doing what is the best for the other person and mutual trust."
Word count: Past 16 500 and heading 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. Thanks for all of Your support so far.
It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.
Attitude Adjustment: Carry Each Other
Maybe it was the effect of the emotional roller-coaster he hitched the ride on in past three weeks or maybe it was overwhelming relief that despite a lot of things that changed in those three weeks he still had someone who had his back. He knew that he had support in his neighbors and it was good but a lot more comforting was support in the team.
He walked away too early from Hotch, Rossi and JJ to learn if he got some from either but that Morgan stayed after lunch with him and offered to keep an eye on the twins while Spencer slept right now was more than he expected and more than he hoped for.
It wasn't that he expected Morgan to walk away completely. No, he expected an earful and he got some of it but it didn't weigh as much as he expected. There was a difference between being supposedly dead and between prioritizing that what was the most important were the kids.
He wasn't forgiven for his own deception in the form of omitting the truth but he was almost excused, almost.
So in the end he slept. It wasn't for a very long time, just nine minutes past one blessed hour of a nap and when he crawled his way to coffee express he could hear that Morgan was still there and judging by excited exclamation the twins were having fun with him.
He was more coherent after first sip of coffee and he realized that when he was asleep company arrived. Apparently his earlier plan had failed and Jeff came around and now together with Morgan and the twins they were building the towers from blocks on the living-room floor.
"Well, hello Sleeping Beauty," Jeff chipped.
"How was your case?" Spencer shrugged. "You were getting away awfully fast."
"I got called off when I reached the car," Jeff said simply. "You ever got one of those cases when you are prepared for the worst but when you get down to the scene it turns out to be plain old meh?"
"No," Spencer said simply. "We get to work after the scene was processed for evidence, wrong spelled CSI."
"That's Senior Field Special Agent for you," Jeff quipped.
"I was Supervisory Special Agent when you were just Probationary Field Agent and I was in the academy when you didn't even have an inkling to join the agency," Spencer shrugged.
"Well not everybody is born a genius and I needed to take some time to get a Master from criminology," Jeff said simply. "Speaking about genius, would you mind giving a once over to the file on your desk because all of our resources were stonewalled and when Hopkins grunts 'your FBI buddy should take a look at it' it's really bad."
"Cold case?" Spencer asked curiously.
"North Pole, but it has connection with South Canada cold case and we had been over those files so many times that I can recite everything in my sleep and Frassier is on his best way to get there in few more days," Jeff answered.
"Hopkins called me your FBI buddy?" Spencer smirked. "That's huge."
"I guess Norman's case left him impressed enough to get you on the very short list of FBI agents he would willingly cooperate without pulling a rank or jurisdiction or both," Jeff shrugged.
"He was impressed because teacher's assistant with FBI's credentials that looks like he never got his hands dirty had crawled through the garage that looked like a butcher shop to recover two years old daughter of a psychopath who slipped past the psych evaluations and saved you all from a wild goose chase," Spencer quipped. "Trust me, me getting down and dirty had more to do with it than my ability to list statistics on child abductions."
"Well, that too," Jeff grinned. "But he doesn't admit easily that he wouldn't mind having the consultant as a full time agent."
"Another offer to my corkboard," Spencer rolled his eyes. "Coffee?"
"Waited for you to ask, the usual," Morgan grinned. "Corkboard?"
"Kate's idea," Jeff explained. "Ego boasting tactic. I'm surprised that it didn't manage to topple over."
"I'm surprised that it actually fit there," Spencer muttered. "But Kate gave me an idea, I just need some time which closet is more comfortable for me to do that. You saw those cork mats that you can glue to the wall?"
"You mean that wall between the closet and the guest bathroom?" Jeff asked. "There is an actual cork mat under all those papers and pins?"
"Yeah and I even saw it completely empty," Spencer shrugged. "She gave me few other ideas that might be handy but to do it my credit card needs a huge boast of cash so it's going to wait a month or two until I will become credible client again."
"And you aren't credible client now?" Morgan asked skeptically. "Come on. You can walk out from casino without raising an alarm with five grands. You are go to guy when it comes to psychological and sociological conferences…"
"I spend more on travel and lodgings," Spencer pointed out.
"You guest lecture on at the very last two universities on variety of subjects…"
"Three," Spencer interjected. "And as a guest lecturer I get the scraps."
"You used to teach at juvenile detention…"
"Pro bono," Spencer cut in. "But as of late I have more expenses than actual income and for now I'm not credible enough client for the bank to get the credit for a new car."
"You are replacing your Volvo?" Morgan asked curiously.
"Upgrading," Jeff mouthed. "His own words," he added when Morgan looked at him. "Not that there is much to upgrade mind you. He has been piece hunting since February and only two weeks ago he had been informed that with all the work that needs to be done with it it's cheaper to buy a new car. So for the past two weeks he had been car hunting."
"I thought that you called it being whinny," Spencer snorted.
"That's because I'm not going out with you again to search for ideal car," Jeff said simply.
"You aren't," Spencer shrugged.
"Oh no," Jeff groaned. "Tell me it's not going to be lime green…"
"It's not," Spencer grinned. "I'm more into purple…"
"Dodge?" Morgan grinned. "Chevrolet?"
"No," Jeff shook his head. "Another Volvo. He is faithful to the brand. Not very patriotic."
"My patriotism is just fine but it can't squeeze into parking lot, especially since the Harris bought their fifth generation Lincoln Continental," Spencer shrugged.
"Speaking about Lincoln," Jeff shrugged. "Kyle barely managed to slip past it when I was coming back, Ben had to replace third front bumper in past two months and I'm running out of storage bricks to keep that thing from rolling into my car. Reckon that four of us would be able to persuade MPD to tow that thing away since Mr Harris is not going to use it for a longer while?" he asked curiously.
"Not a chance," Spencer snorted when he picked up the coffee and brought them to the living-room. "You will hear in return that four feds should be capable of handling the situation on their own."
"Great, which means that all we need is a corpse in navy suit with a stash of cocaine and TNT hidden inside the trunk of that car then all of us will have jurisdiction over that car," Jeff muttered.
"Four jurisdictions?" Morgan asked curiously.
"FBI, NCIS, DEA and ATF," Spencer explained. "Which considering that this building houses thirty-one flats four federal agents make it the safest house in the neighborhood."
"We also have our own hospital," Jeff added dryly. "Psychiatrist, plastic surgeon, dermatologist, orthopedist and a nurse."
"And school," Spencer continued. "PE, French, math, biology, English and history."
"Let's not forget about retired chopper pilot, accountant, journalist and cook," Jeff added. "And what that guy who is never there does for a living?" he looked at Spencer.
"Builds bridges all over the country," Spencer answered. "And four bankers."
"Right, party-hardy," Jeff nodded. "And you forgot two firefighters, two IT specialist, three lawyers, retired preschool teacher and the Harris."
"That's thirty-nine," Morgan said.
"I didn't say that they all live separately," Jeff shrugged.
"Remember where you are," Spencer pointed out.
"Right," Jeff nodded. "Little ears."
The knock on the door came late, long after Morgan and Jeff left and Spencer put Noah and Aaron to sleep with minimal fuss over a bath and dinner. The knock itself was a courtesy bestowed on him because his visitor had his own set of keys and two bottles of beer.
"May I come in?" Hotch asked through closed door.
"The door are still open," Spencer said simply. "Let yourself in, I need to check on the boys."
He didn't need to check upon them because he knew that they were sleeping soundly but it gave him time to get his mental shields up for a pep-talk. When he reentered the room Hotch was already seated at the dining table and had two glasses of beer in front of him and a plate of pretzels.
"How is Jack?" Spencer asked simply.
"At sleepover party," Hotch answered. "I know it's hard…"
"And I know that you know," Spencer shrugged as he continued standing by the table, facing Hotch. "If there is one thing I can trust you with right now it's understanding single fatherhood. When you are doing for a living what we do you have to trust people around you implicitly, not only people who are there for your sons when you are gone but also people you work with, you have to be sure that the person who is standing right next to you won't stab you in the back when you turn around."
"We had no other choice," Hotch said quietly. "It was…"
"The only way?" Spencer snorted. "Think again, Hotch. Who do you think you work with kindergarten students who babble around everything they hear or adult profilers who deal with TS/SCI material on daily basis? You think that we wouldn't be able to understand the idea of keeping a secret? That we wouldn't understand how many lives were at stake if one of us slipped? That Emily's life, our lives were on the line? Instead you allowed us to walk into that mess blindsided and you and I know what happens when an agent walks into a situation blindsided, shit happens, Hotch, people get wounded, lives are lost."
"I'm not sorry for following an order, Reid," Hotch said calmly.
"Of course you aren't," Spencer muttered. "After all an order is an order. Never mind that said order risks the integrity and effectiveness of the team. Never mind that said order comes from the mouth of a woman who knows that said order compromises your own moral and work code. Congratulations, Hotch, you finally managed to put yourself above the team and I sincerely hope that you had shreds of decency to lose few nights of sleep because of it… I know I did," Spencer spat.
"And what you did in Durant?" Hotch asked quietly.
"In Durant I was repeatedly harassed by your junior profiler. In Durant I had my profiling skills and almost eight years of experience challenged by said junior profiler in front not only the team but also local LEOs," Spencer sneered. "I flew over the handle and I'm sorry for doing it in front of the locals but I'm not sorry for putting Jennifer in her place. She wanted to know the truth, she got it and it's more than I got from her in past seven months."
"She is your friend…" Hotch started.
"Definition of friendship consist from existence of mutual honesty, equality, sympathy, empathy, desire of doing what is the best for the other person and mutual trust. Jennifer hadn't showed none of them in past seven months aside of moderate levels of sympathy but then everybody shows moderate levels of sympathy to a man who is bawling his eyes out on your couch," Spencer snorted. "Hell, even my neighbor spend two hours at comforting me after I got informed that my mum tried to commit suicide for the second time in past four months and he isn't really touchy-feely."
"You didn't say a word," Hotch said quietly. "About your headaches, about your mum, about your sons."
"Because I've dealt as best as I could with my mum and now it's out of my hands. Everything I can do about it is trusting medicine to work and trust the doctors to not leave her unsupervised with meds again. It has been taken care of for now," Spencer said simply.
He walked over to the walk-in closet that in past three weeks served as his office space and pulled from the drawer of the desk a single sheet of paper before he walked over to the table sat down, took a sip of beer and pushed the paper towards Hotch.
Hotch scanned it quickly, frowned, straightened his back and said stiffly, "It's incomplete."
Spencer nodded and took another sip of his beer, "I know. It lacks the date and my signature. My life is no longer my own, Hotch, and this job is hard enough without dealing with bullshit from people I'm supposed to trust with my life. All I'm asking for is honesty, even if it would be brutal, I can take it but I won't take another lie, not from you."
"I cannot promise you that I will never lie, Reid," Hotch shook his head. "You can't expect that from me…"
"What I expect from you, Hotch, is to be you. I expect you to be the same man who never compromised his moral and work code for himself but willingly went deaf and blind when it became evident that his agent was using highly addictive drug. I expect you to be the same man who put all regulations aside and did not rest until the attacker of his technical analyst was shot dead. I expect you to be the same man who didn't even write off for insubordination the agent who almost got his head blown up on a case and who willingly compromised the integrity of the team because he wasn't himself. I expect you to be the unit chief who accepts personal cases because the peace of mind of his agents are worth more to him than regulations. I expect you to be the same man who admitted to me that if we found the kidnapped family of a cop dead then he wouldn't be able to hold it together and he would just quit," Spencer said calmly before he added softly, "I don't expect you to change, I expect you to understand…"
"Reid…" Hotch started.
"I expect you to understand that I can still do my job but I cannot be good at the job when I feel threatened by another agent, who thinks that she can fucking lie to me for months on end and expects me to be fine after I'd realized the extent of her betrayal. I expect you to understand that I'm not fine, that I fell down enough times already to know that next time I won't bounce back. I expect you to understand that more than half of the time here I'm terrified out of my mind that I would say or do something that will permanently scar my sons for life. I'm scared shitless that I won't be able to be the father they need and deserve. Their mother walked away on them without a word and all she ever said to them about leaving was that they were going to stay with me now. They didn't deserve to have their lives turned upside down. I'm all they have now, all they will ever have and I have to do everything right by them, Hotch. I'm sure that this, you can understand," Spencer said quietly.
"I can't promise you that I will never lie, Reid," Hotch shook his head. "Not when too much is at stake. It wasn't only about keeping all of you safe, it was about keeping the team together. Telling you the truth right away put at risk not only my job, not only JJ's job. A lot more was on the line than you can imagine and trust me when this would happen Senate Committee would be the last of our worries and from that place there won't be any way to return. That, I couldn't risk, not even on the price of trust of all of you."
"You are an idiot Hotch if you think that this won't affect us," Spencer snorted softly. "Some of us are simply doing better job at concealing it than the others. Some of us concentrate on good and pretty instead of bad and ugly but those issues won't disappear just because you will chose to overlook them."
"I'm not overlooking them Reid, I'm dealing with them," Hotch said simply.
"Yeah, I felt it," Spencer muttered. "For the record it didn't work because no amount of glue and rubber bands is able to hold together something that had been broken beyond repair. Jennifer made her decision, I made mine. I can work with her and I can be civil to her but if you expect me to forgive her on the spot seven months of deceit, seven months of lies and seven shittiest months of my life so we can be friends again I strongly suggest you to get your head checked. This is it, I'm done with her."
The call came at 4 AM on Sunday morning, an unforgivable hour for anyone but even more unforgivable to someone who had been up since the early hours of the previous morning until half past midnight even with a little over an hour mid-day nap.
But as much as he wanted to bite the head off of the offending bugger Spencer couldn't bring himself to do so. Not when the voice in the receiver sounded almost automatic and drained from all strength. Not when he heard a distinctive mewl of a fussy infant somewhere in the background.
"Just get up the stairs. Apartment 44, the door will be open. You can stay here for as long as you need to," Spencer said tiredly.
He hung up, dragged himself up from the bed and into the kitchen. He put on the coffee and started rummaging the cabinets for Cerelac which Noah's and Aaron's pediatrician suggested Spencer to feed the boys from time to time.
By the time the door opened he was pouring in the coffee into two big mugs and was almost done with Cerelac. He turned his head towards the door and abandoned reaching out for sugar bowl to sweeten the coffee in favor of rushing towards the door.
With Vicky Anderson secured on his left hip with his free hand he removed the bags from her father's shoulders and placed them on the ground by the guest bathroom door before he directed Anderson to the breakfast bar and sat him on the bar chair.
He pushed one of the mugs along with sugar bowl towards Anderson and started to untangle Vicky from her blouse.
"Talk," Spencer instructed him. "I didn't understand half of the things you said on the phone."
"I don't want to return to that house ever again," Anderson said quietly. "The coroner said thirty-six hours. Thirty-six effing hours and no one… no one heard a word, a single cry, a single mewl! No one fucking cared to even come to the door for thirty-six effing hours!"
"Helen?" Spencer asked gently.
"COD couldn't be determined on site," Anderson said shakily. "Forty hours now, I just got out of the hospital with Vicky… I'm sorry," he shook his head. "I just couldn't…"
"Believe me, I can understand that," Spencer said calmly. "You can stay here for as long as you need to. I don't mind."
"Few days," Anderson sighed. "I just need to… find something temporary and I…"
"Don't make me smack you with rolled up newspaper," Spencer scoffed. "Stay few weeks and find something decent and long-term."
"Trust me you wouldn't appreciate any more wake up calls than those that come from the job," Anderson grimaced. "Vicky is teething and she is incredibly fussy and she is quite a handful without it."
"Trust me, I can survive fussy and handful," Spencer said simply. "I know certain fussy that is handful and also certain handful that is fussy. As long as she won't blow this place up I will be fine."
"You are too generous sometimes," Anderson sighed.
"I'm not generous," Spencer shrugged. "I just understand what it means to have your life turned upside down," he added as he sat Vicky on the counter so she was leaning against his chest with her back and started spoon-feed with Cerelac. "Now, that's a good girl," he beamed at her and added, "have another one."
Vicky gurgled happily which made her spew some of the Cerelac which Spencer whipped with his hand from her chin before he asked, "You have something for her with you?"
"Just some clothes and few nappies everything is still at the house," Anderson shook his head.
"Easily remedied," Spencer shrugged. "Leave me the keys to your house and the list of things you will need for next few days and where I can find them and you will have them here before lunch."
"Few changes of clothes for myself, a few more for her, her portable crib, her stroller, her playpen and toys, the rest I can buy easily," Anderson said tiredly.
"Consider it done. Now finish your coffee and go to sleep, you look like you are about to fall over. Take the futon in my bedroom for now, I will fix the couch by the evening," Spencer said.
"I will crash there now," Anderson said.
"Not until evening," Spencer shook his head. "You need more than two hours of sleep and trust me, that's as much as you will get if you crash on the couch now."
"Why?" Anderson asked curiously and he yawned immediately after he asked.
"You remember that part about me understanding what it means to have your life turned upside down?" Spencer said simply. "I wasn't only referring to resurrection of Emily Prentiss, in fact Emily has nothing to do with upside down part. I'm a single father of monozygotic twins aged three years and almost nine months old and if you take the couch they won't let you sleep longer than half of hour after they will wake up. I can keep them out of the bedroom but not out from the living-room, take the futon."
"Dear God," Anderson mouthed. "Over three years…"
"Try three weeks, that's how long I knew and how long they are living with me," Spencer corrected him. "Intra-department memo isn't out yet but I have a feeling that it will be by Monday's lunch courtesy to Garcia, it's a good thing that I'm going to spend three days on a conference in Baltimore."
"Australia, not interested anymore, I have sole custody," Spencer shrugged. "Futon, now."
"Yes sir," Anderson yawned. "And Reid?"
"Thanks and congratulations," Anderson smiled weakly.
"Don't thank me yet, thank me after you will decide that you can survive few weeks with Aaron and Noah," Spencer pointed out.
"You are too merciful for you own good," Jeff decided when he put the last bag down by the kitchen counter. "And wardrobe?"
"Privacy, living-room doesn't have any," Spencer pointed out from the wardrobe. "If I can fit in there he will too. How are the kids?"
"Vicky pulled off her socks and now she is gnawing on her right big toe, Noah and Aaron are finding it terrifyingly fascinating. I bet you a fiver that they will lose socks in next five minutes," Jeff answered. "Anything else?"
"No, enjoy your Sunday and thanks for help," Spencer said.
"Anything for a fellow underpaid federal agent in need," Jeff bowed. "If you aren't up to cook for dinner I can bring over lasagna."
"You are still bent over that woman enough to work on your stamina?" Spencer snickered.
"My stamina is fine, thanks for interest," Jeff snorted. "It's the patience department where I need to improve. See you in the evening," he added and left Spencer's flat.
Spencer emerged from the wardrobe where he was putting up the mattresses for Anderson to have a private place to sleep even if the only thing that fit in there was the mattresses and small side-table with a lamp.
He went for his phone which was still laying on the counter, on the way noting that Noah and Aaron just like Jeff predicted had pulled off their socks and started tickling Vicky's toes.
He dialed Hotch's number and waited through three rings.
"I need the number to Weston's private cell-phone," Spencer said simply when Hotch picked up.
"Weston from team Beta?" Hotch asked curiously. "Why do you need his cell-phone?"
"Since I'm advocating for his agent," Spencer shrugged.
"Weston called me last night that they are getting out of the rotation list until Tuesday," Hotch said. "Which agent?"
"Anderson," Spencer answered. "Bereavement leave effective immediately and everything Weston can get out of Strauss."
"What?" Hotch muttered.
"Helen departed without the possibility of returning two days ago and no one realized what happened until Anderson himself returned home. Imagine how past nine hours looked for him. You know Weston, he is not a happy camper when he is robbed from his beauty sleep and saving Anderson from taking the burn of Weston's bad mood is the last thing I can do for him now," Spencer explained.
"Do you know what happened?" Hotch asked alarmed.
"Not much," Spencer shook his head. "It had to be sudden and if it was an illness then it had to be dormant. COD couldn't be determined on the site so I'm hazarding cerebral aneurism or something similar."
"He is with you now?" Hotch asked.
"And he is going to stay a longer while," Spencer nodded then he heard the knocking. "Weston's number?"
"I will call him," Hotch said. "He can't write me for insubordination."
"Call me back when you will know something," Spencer said as he approached the door and hung up before he turned the knob.
In front of him was standing JJ, with Henry propped on her left hip.
"Spence," she started. "I'm so sorry…"
"Do you know U2?" Spencer asked impatiently. "Bono?" he added. "With or Without You? I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For?"
"I heard of them," JJ nodded.
"They have a song I strongly suggest you to get familiar with," Spencer said sourly. "It's called One. Bye for now, I will be at the office on Thursday," and with that comment he closed the door in front of her.
Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head
Feedback is love.
AN: Harsh, I know but I think that the extent of the damage on Reid's and JJ's friendship deserves more than one shocked sorry uttered right after she insulted him. So yes, Reid is still pissed off at her; yes, she will try to mend the fences and yes, Reid isn't going to make it any easier for her.
As for Anderson, for all of Reid's anger he needs a distraction from his personal issues and having to be the stronger party for someone who is at lowest point of his life in circumstances similar to Reid's own is a distraction and around Anderson right now Reid can't be overly angsty. As for why Anderson went to Reid... I will explain it in next chapter.