AN: I did it! I finally finished this story! Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me through it. Special thanks to my wonderful beta peanutmeg who puts up with me, Klcm for he help brainstorming the Fran/Reid conversation, and Dragon Claymore for the inscription on the Garcia's last gift to Reid. This chapter wouldn't have come together as it did without the three of you. Please enjoy!

Opening his eyes, Reid took in the unfamiliar surroundings, trying to figure out where he was. As his eyes fell on his bags stacked against the wall near the door, it came back to him - he was in Morgan's childhood home. He had actually agreed to come to Chicago. The dimly lit room told him it was evening now, meaning he had been asleep for several hours.

Slowly sitting up, the intense headache of the morning having subsided to a very dull throbbing in his temples, Reid fretted about the impression he had made on Morgan's family. Given his less than stellar impression the last time he was in Chicago, Reid wasn't sure he wanted to know what Morgan's mother and sisters thought about him.

~Why did I let Morgan convince me to come. I should have just stayed home,~ Reid thought, sitting on the side of bed.

However, Reid knew he couldn't really blame this situation on Morgan. Yes, the older man hadn't accepted his refusal to the invitation easily but Morgan had been straightforward with all of his attempts at getting him to come. Even when Morgan had given his ultimatum, he had made it clear that the choice was Reid's, though the genius had little doubt that Morgan had known all along he wouldn't elect to stay in D.C. if it would mean the older agent not going home for Christmas. And deep down, despite his uneasiness at being with Morgan's family and possibly ruining the holiday celebration for his friend and his family, Reid had to admit that he hadn't been looking forward to spending the holiday alone.

Not quite ready to leave the relative safety of the bedroom, Reid crossed over to his luggage. Opening the suitcase he had put the last three gifts from the Advent Calendar in, he pulled out the funny shaped package that had been in the spot for the twenty-third. Walking back over to the bed, Reid tore the paper revealing the contents - a stuffed Grinch in his Santa Claus outfit. Reid smiled as he held the stuffed animal. Like many of the gifts he had gotten from Garcia over the month - the small snow globe with Elmo in a Santa hat coming out of a chimney was one of his favorites - he felt like he was getting a small taste of a childhood he had never experienced.

Getting to his feet, Reid placed the stuffed animal on the second bed in the room as he quickly made the one he had used. He then retrieved the Grinch and placed him against the pillow, despite the fact that he could already hear Morgan teasing him in his head. ~So what?~ he thought with a shrug of his shoulders. Let Morgan tease, he sort of liked the green furry creature and besides, this was the first stuffed animal he'd had since he was five and he had decided he was too old for them. It had been his father who had tried to talk him out of actually throwing them all away, telling him there was nothing wrong with children having stuffed animals. His mother had told his father to let him do what he wanted and deal with the fact that their son simply didn't need the false security that children got from stuffed animals. His father had left the house then, mumbling something.

Ever since he had reconnected with his father, memories of his childhood had been resurfacing. Those recollections had led him to realize that his parents had very different ideas on how he should grow up. It led him to wonder if things would have turned out differently if there had been more agreement.

Reid sighed, it really didn't matter now. His father had walked out on them when he was ten and what was done was done.

Glancing around the room, Reid tried to recall what he had done with his cell phone. When he had first stepped into the bedroom he remembered that all he had wanted to do was fall into the bed and closed his eyes. He remembered dropping his bags, slipping out of his heavy jacket, and doing just that. But now his tie and shoes were off. How did that happen? Morgan or his friend's mother taking them off were the only answer. He could feel the heat rise in his cheeks at that thought, though there was nothing he could do about it now. That still left the question of where his cell phone was. What had he done with his phone this morning when he left his apartment?

Recalling that he had put it in his coat pocket, Reid crossed to where his jacket was draped over the back of the desk chair. Despite not remembering putting it there when he took it off, he let it go. Morgan had obviously tidied things up after he had collapsed into the bed.

Reid found his cell phone with little trouble. Turning it on, he settled back on the end of his bed. To his surprise he found that he had a missed voicemail and a missed text message. Reid checked the text message first. It was from JJ.

New Orleans at Christmas time is beautiful. Henry is so going to be spoiled by Will's mother. The two are getting along great. Hope things are well in Chicago.

There was a time when he would have either sent a text message back or given JJ a call. He hadn't been doing that much lately, still trying to avoid her as much as possible. He still felt like an idiot after all the times he had cried over Prentiss' "death" when JJ knew the truth. If it wasn't for Henry he would avoid the former media liaison even more than he did now.

Closing the message, Reid opened the voice message. He heard Hotch's voice first.

"Leave a message then, buddy," Hotch prompted softly, his voice clearly in the background.

"Uncle Spencer, I'm in New York," came Jack's voice. "I saw the biggest Cris'mas tree ever. A lot of presents would fit under it. Uncle Sean's cooking dinner before we go see the lights!"

The message ended abruptly. Reid could imagine Hotch gently lecturing his son about how to properly end a message. He thought about calling Hotch and trying to talk to Jack but decided not to. He didn't want to intrude on the rare family time the two were enjoying. He would just wait until tomorrow and call to wish the little boy a merry Christmas.

Getting to his feet, Reid slipped the phone into his pocket. Though part of him would prefer to stay hidden away in the bedroom, he knew it wasn't really an option. Eventually someone, most likely Morgan, would come looking to see how he was doing.

Stepping into the hallway, he was surprised at the quietness in the house. Surely they hadn't left him here alone. Still, as he made his way down the steps each footstep seemed loud to him in the otherwise quiet environment. No lights were on in the living room as he stepped off of the stairs. Looking around he did see a light on in another room and headed in that direction. Soon he heard the sounds of someone moving about in the room but no voices.

Stepping into the doorway, Spencer found that he had reached the kitchen. Fran Morgan was moving about the room, dinner preparations well underway. She turned at Reid's approach and smiled when she saw him standing in the doorway.

"Well, Dr. Reid, you definitely look much better than you did earlier today," Fran said, motioning him into the room. "Have a seat," she added, indicating one of the chairs at the small table, big enough to only seat about two people comfortably, in the center of the room.

Reid walked into the room slowly, moving in the direction of the chair Fran had indicated. "Please, just call me Spencer," he requested softly, not at all comfortable with the idea of being referred to by his title the entire weekend.

"Of course," Fran responded as she pulled a chair out for him. "How are you feeling? Is your headache gone?"

"For the most part it is," Reid replied, still aware of the dull ache in his temple. Still, it was a huge improvement over the throbbing pain from earlier.

"Let me make you some ginger tea. I find drinking it helps ease my headaches," Fran suggested as Reid sat down.

"You don't need to go to the trouble," Reid protested. "I'll be fine."

"I'm sure you will be. But really, it's no trouble at all," Fran insisted, turning from the table to start her tea preparations.

Reid didn't bother with any further protest. It was clear that Fran wasn't going to take no for answer. Apparently Morgan got that trait from his mother.

"Derek and the girls headed for the mall for some last minute Christmas shopping," Fran said, as she placed the tea kettle on the back burner of the stove behind the egg noodles she was boiling for the beef stroganoff she was making for dinner. "They should be back soon though. Are you hungry? Dinner is going to be awhile yet, but I can heat up some of the soup we had for lunch."

Despite not having eaten anything since this morning, and having had very little for breakfast, Reid wasn't sure he was ready to try and eat a full meal quite yet.

"No thank-you. I'm not really very hungry."

"How about a blueberry muffin then- I hear they're your favorite? And they're fresh, I made some this morning. You really should eat something."

"Okay," Reid consented, touched by the older woman's motherly instincts. It was clear that once again no wasn't going to be accepted. And besides, turning down a muffin that she made for him probably wouldn't be considered good etiquette. It was then that something dawned on him. "How did you know blueberry was my favorite?"

"Derek mentioned it," Fran replied without missing a beat. She opened the lid on a bowl on the counter and pulled out a muffin. "He talks about you quite a bit actually," she continued retrieving a saucer from a cupboard, "you and Penelope. I feel like I know you both already, although actually having you here for the next few days is going to be nice. It'll make me feel more of a part of my baby boy's life."

As Fran placed the muffin in front Reid, the genius had to smile. He wondered how Morgan would react to being called 'baby boy' in front of a co-worker. ~Probably not too well,~ Reid thought as he spoke a quick thanks to his hostess who returned to the dinner preparations.

As he peeled the paper wrapper away from the bottom of the muffin, the aroma from the muffin reached Reid's nose. He was relieved that the nausea that had hit him when he had tried to eat breakfast this morning didn't come. As Fran started making small talk, pausing her dinner preparations only for getting him a cup of ginger tea, Reid slowly ate the muffin. As he listened, Reid tried to make responses in what would be considered the socially accepted places.

Reid had popped the last bit of the muffin into his mouth when he heard his cell phone beep. As Fran put the Pyrex dish into the oven to bake, he pulled the device out. Checking it he saw a new message from Garcia. With a sigh, he opened it just to make sure it wasn't something important.

Hey my Junior G-man. Morgan said you were sleeping when I called him. Just wanted to say I hope you enjoy your time off.

Closing the message, Reid put the phone back in his pocket.

"Everything okay?" Fran asked, as she placed a cup of tea for herself on the table across from Reid.

"Yeah. It was just a quick message from, Garcia," Reid replied, trying to dismiss the slight annoyance he felt that Morgan and Garcia had discussed him. ~Although if she had asked to talk to me he would have had to tell her why I couldn't talk,~ Reid reasoned.

"Do you want some more tea?" Fran asked, taking in Reid's half empty cup. When he politely refused she sat down across from him. "You're not going to reply?" she asked casually.

"It can wait," Reid replied quickly.

Not able to resist an opportunity to give out some motherly advice, even if the person wasn't one of her children, Fran decided not to change the topic. "You know she was only trying to help. Sometimes, though, when we try to help those we care about we don't always think things through before we act."

"He really does tell you everything, doesn't he," Reid commented, letting his gaze fall to the ginger tea left in the mug in front of him. Nervously, he wrapped his hands around the ceramic which was still slightly warm from the beverage inside of it.

Reid knew it was more embarrassment than anger at Derek that made him suddenly feel self-conscious. After all, how could he be mad at his friend for confiding in his mother when he did exactly the same thing.

"Not everything," Fran assured the young man sitting across from her. "He'd never tell me something that would break a confidence unless he thought it was absolutely necessary," Fran continued, recalling some of the evasive replies Derek had given her over the last couple of years when it came to his teammates and his job. "However, Derek does talk to me about work related things that bother him. We talk a lot about how he felt when Prentiss died and then the impact of find out she was still alive. He's talked to me about the dynamics within the team since she came back." Fran paused for a moment, as if debating whether to say something. "He's still worried about you, you know," she told him.

"He doesn't need to be. I can take care of myself."

A knowing smile came to Fran's face. "It doesn't work like that. Whenever you care about someone, you're always going to worry about them. Desiree and Sarah can take care of themselves but he still plays the protective brother. Derek can certainly take care of himself but he'll always be my baby boy."

"That's different. You're all family."

Fran reached across the small table, her fingers wrapping around his slender wrist. "Family isn't just about blood relations and legal titles. It's what we make of it. Derek considers you family, you do realize that don't you?"

Reid glanced down at the hand grasping his own. He wasn't one for physical contact but this felt right somehow. He looked back up and into the gentle dark eyes across the table from him. Eyes that reminded him of his friend's.

"Yes," Reid slowly replied. "It's just not something I'm used to. I don't have the best track record with friends and family."

Fran smiled across the table at him sympathetically. "I know protecting yourself by keeping people away may seem like the best thing to do, but you close yourself off to a lot. Your teammates, all of them, had good intentions, Spencer. And I'm not saying that it makes what they did right, but maybe when you're able to accept that then you'll be able to forgive and move past it - for their sakes and for your own."

Reid wasn't sure what to say as he sat there trying to process Fran's advice. Luckily he was saved from having to say anything by the sound of the front door opening followed by laughter floating through the house.

"Sounds, like they're home," Fran commented, giving Reid's wrist a final squeeze before withdrawing her hand and standing up.

As Fran left the room to greet her children, Reid slipped his cell phone out of his pocket. He typed a quick response to Garcia's earlier message before following his hostess into the living room.

"Thank-you, Penelope. I really think my mom will like the necklace you helped me pick out," Emily told her friend as they walked into the mall's Italian restaurant on Friday evening. Like every other place in the mall, Mario's was busy. "You're a life saver."

"Glad I could help. Besides, I love shopping," the blonde gushed, three bags of her own dangling from one hand.

"Yeah, JJ is going to love that Henry has more gifts waiting for him when he gets home."

"I'm his Godmother! I'm supposed to spoil him!"

Emily last as she stepped up to the podium.

"Just two?" the blonde hostess asked.


The hostess consulted the diagram in front of her and then looked back up. "It'll be just a couple of moments. We're clearing a table."

"Okay, thanks," Emily replied. "Spoil him, yes. Bury him in gifts, not necessarily."

Penelope laughed. "I told you, I like shopping!"

"Well good, because you still need to help me find me outfit for my family dinner."

"We'll have you looking spectacular, Gumdrop!" Garcia assured her. "Just as soon as I feed my rumbling tummy."

Emily laughed as the hostess called to them that the table was ready. The two women followed the hostess through the restaurant to a table along the back wall. They settled their bags on the floor between their chairs and the wall, placed their purses on the table and picked up the menu. It wasn't long before the waiter, a Hispanic with short, spiked hair that had blue in the tips of the spikes, was there taking their drink order, flirting with Emily in the process.

"I think he likes you," Garcia whispered as she watched their waiter walk away.

"He is kind of cute. The hair would drive my mother nuts," Emily commented, as she glanced at the menu trying to decide what she wanted to eat.

"Planning on showing up at Christmas dinner with a guest?"

Emily shook her hear. "Nah, I'd at least wait for New Year's," she joked, glancing over the top of the menu at Garcia.

The women shared a laugh as Penelope's phone gave off a chirp at an incoming text. She fished the phone out of her purse and opened the message.

I'm sure I'll enjoy myself. Morgan's family has been welcoming. Enjoy the time off as well.

Garcia smiled at the simple text. She hadn't been expecting to hear from Reid, as he had only been replying to her texts when directly asked something. She considered this progress.

"Flirty text from Morgan?" Emily asked, curious as to what was making Penelope smile.

"No. A reply from Reid. After the past week that's actually better than a text from Morgan."

"I told you he would come around if you gave him time," Emily said, having repeated to Penelope the same advice Morgan had given her about Reid. "He's even warming up to me and at least he isn't sniping at JJ every chance he gets."

"I wish we could all just get along again," Penelope said longingly.

"He was hurt. He needs time. Giving everything he's been through, it's understandable that he needs more time than everyone else."

Penelope nodded.

"Come on, cheer up," Emily told her. "We've got less than forty-eight hours before Christmas. I want a festive mood tonight because I have a feeling time with my family will be anything but that."

"Festive, right," Garcia said, trying to smile again.

Glad to hear that, Sugar Plum, she texted back, before tucking her phone back in her purse and picking the menu up again.

Penelope Garcia settled back against her couch with a sigh. Maybe she should have taken Kevin up on his invitation for her to join him at his parents' house for Christmas Eve. Even though his parents didn't particularly like her, mostly because her wardrobe was too flamboyant for their conservative beliefs, being with Kevin would have been better than the empty apartment she was sitting in right now. Even the Christmas music she had put on wasn't cheering her up.

Penelope ran through her mental checklist again, checking to see if she was forgetting anything while preparing for Christmas. Once again she came to the conclusion that she had did everything that she could do early. Kevin's presents were wrapped and placed under her Christmas tree. She had baked more than enough cookies even with giving some to every team member at work on their last day. Her good dishes, that she used only a handful of times every year, were washed and reading to be laid out on the table, which she had decorated with an evergreen center piece and two silver candles.

Her cell phone beeped from its place on the coffee table. Leaning forward, Penelope picked it up and glanced at the screen to see that the incoming text was from Morgan. Happy for any little distraction from her loneliness, Garcia pressed the button to open the message.

Hey Baby Girl. If you're not too tired, meet me on Skype at midnight.

Garcia smiled at the message Morgan had sent her. A flirty reply immediately popped into her head. Pressing the reply button she began to swiftly type her own message.

I'm never too tired for you, Sugar.

Garcia sent the message and waited for a reply as the song "Last Christmas" came on the radio. Her mood picked up by Derek's text message, she found herself humming along with the song. Finally her cell phone chimed with an incoming text.

Nice to know I can still get your motor running. See you at midnight.

Garcia smiled at the text. The short message seemed to brighten up her evening. In a better mood now, she placed her phone on the coffee table and retrieved her lap top from the desk. Settling back down on the couch, Garcia turned the computer on and expertly navigated to one of the online roleplaying games she frequented. If she didn't have real life company to spend her Christmas Eve with then cyber company was the next best thing.

Walking up the basement steps Morgan heard Reid's laughter float through the air. Though he was glad that his friend was enjoying being here in Chicago since his mother had instantly put the genius at ease, he wasn't sure he wanted to know what had caused that laughter. Derek had brought enough friends and girlfriends home over the years to know his mother loved telling stories about him to anyone who would listen. Stories that weren't always his shining moments or something that he wanted getting around at the office.

"And if Reid repeats one syllable of one of her stories at the office or to one of our team members there won't be any more going easy during hand-to-hand workouts," Morgan muttered as he reached the top of the steps and pushed the door shut behind him.

Morgan had gone downstairs to check that his mom's generator was ready if the power should go out during the predicted snowstorm. They had been keeping watch on the storm predictions since yesterday and each prediction seemed to get worse. The latest ones had Chicago being hit by a Christmas Blizzard.

Walking into the living room, Derek found his mother and Reid seated in the living room where he had left them. "Do I even want to know what the two of you have been talking about while I've been gone?" he asked, sitting down on the couch next to Reid.

"Your mother has been telling me stories about when you were younger," Reid said, smiling as he made the reply.

"That's what I was afraid of," Derek replied, looking from Reid to his mother in the nearby easy chair. Fran wore the innocent smile of a loving mother who just wanted to share her memories of her child. Still trying to sound put out, but knowing he wasn't really succeeding he looked back at Reid. "You know this really isn't fair. I never get to hear stories from your childhood."

"No, you don't. But it's not my fault you didn't take advantage of your opportunity when my mother was at the BAU a few years ago. She would be more than happy to oblige you, given the things she's told the staff at Bennington."

Fran smiled at the exchange. She enjoyed seeing her son happy and was glad they had been able to put Spencer Reid at ease here in their home. As much as Derek talked about him, she knew he was important to her son.

"So, everything okay with the generator?" Fran asked steering the conversation in a new direction.

"Yeah. If the weather gets as bad as they're predicting we'll still stay toasty warm in here."

"I just hope your sister gets home before it gets too bad outside."

"Relax, she's just as aware of the weather forecast as we are. Besides, it's not supposed to start snowing until after midnight," Derek replied, trying to set his mother as ease though he knew from experience that she wouldn't stop worrying until Sarah was safely inside the house. She had already called Desiree to make sure that she and her fiancé were at home and prepared to face the weather the storm if it turned out to be as bad as they were forecasting.

Before anything else could be said they heard the front door open. Moments later Sarah appeared in the doorway, snowflakes still clinging to her coat and hat as she removed her gloves.

"It's already snowing?" Fran asked.

"Yeah. I left the party when it first started," Sarah replied. She had been at a Christmas party at her boyfriend's parent's house. "Everything out there is already coated in white."

"Well, looks like they got that part wrong," Derek commented.

"Let's hope they're wrong about the snowfall amounts too," Fran commented as Sarah stuffed her gloves in the pocket of her coat.

"Well at least Derek is here to shovel us out in the morning. That's one nice thing about having a brother," Sarah replied teasingly as she reached up to unzip her coat.

"Oh, so now I'm only good for manual labor, huh? Maybe I just need to keep your Christmas present. I'm sure I can find someone else who would enjoy it."

"Can't you take a joke?" Sarah asked, pausing in the removal of her coat. She wasn't sure if her brother was serious with his threat or not.

"Sure I can. I claim you for a sister, don't I?" Morgan replied, leaning forward a bit to gaze around Reid at his sister.

Reaching up, Sarah took the beret from her head and threw it at her brother. Derek ducked back behind Reid and let the hat fall to the floor in front of him.

"You missed," Derek stated playfully to his sister.

"I didn't want to hit Spencer," Sarah replied.


Smiling at her children's antics, Fran got to her feet. "Well, now that I know my children are safely indoors, I think I'm going to call it a night," she commented. "I'll see you all in the morning."

Fran leaned down and gave Derek a kiss goodnight on the cheek as he told her goodnight. After a similar goodnight to her daughter, she headed upstairs. Sarah left the living room to hang up her coat, but stuck her head back in a few minutes later. A few moments later she was sticking her head back into the livingroom.

"I'm going to make some hot chocolate. Do either of you want some?"

Both Derek and Reid said yes and thanked Sarah. As his sister headed toward the kitchen, Derek leaned forward and retrieved her beret from the floor. As he placed it on the coffee table Reid spoke up.

"Morgan, thanks for dragging me along. Your family has really made me feel welcomed and this definitely beats spending Christmas alone."

"You're welcome. I'm glad you came."

"You didn't really give me a choice."

"I could say the same thing, you know," Derek replied

Reid flushed at the comment, remembering the scene in his apartment. "I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize, Kid. Just remember you can ask me for help with anything at any time."

"It's just sometimes I don't know how to ask. I'm just so use to dealing with everything by myself, I had to start taking charge of things when I was ten, that I learned to be self-sufficient." Reid paused, debating on whether to confide the fear he had grown up with. "Back then, Morgan, asking for help meant the possibility of being taken away from my mother. As hard as things were growing up, even then I knew that would be even worse."

Derek looked at him sympathetically. Reid hadn't had an easy childhood, none of them had really, but when he thought of all the things his friend had been through it just validated how he felt about the genius.

"Kid, you are one of the strongest people I know. Even the strongest of people need someone to lean on from time to time. That doesn't make you weak, it just makes you human."

"I'm not weak."

Those pleading words to Tobias Hankle so many years ago echoed in Reid's mind like they had countless of times before. How many times had he felt like the weakest link of a group - in school, in the Academy, among the team. To hear one of his team reaffirm those words meant a lot to him. Despite all the facts and statistics stored in his memory, Reid couldn't figure out how to express that feeling in words.

Morgan reached out and rested his hand on Reid's shoulder, giving it a slight squeeze. The gesture told Reid that Morgan knew what it was that he couldn't express in words.

"Let's go see how the hot chocolate is coming along," Morgan said, getting to his feet.

Without another word between them, the two friends headed for the kitchen.

"So is this your first blizzard, Kid?"

Reid jumped at the sound of Morgan's voice. Standing at the front door of the house, the outside light illuminating the swirling snow, the genius hadn't heard Morgan's approach.

"Sorry," Morgan said, though his voice revealed his amusement at seeing Reid jump.

"Yes, this is the first blizzard I've been in. Also, the first white Christmas I've ever experienced," Reid told him, glancing only briefly at Morgan over his shoulder before his gaze drifted back to the storm outside. There was something calming and peaceful about watching the snowflakes fall, adding to the snow that already covered everything outside.

Morgan and Reid were the only two awake in the house now. The tree still helped illuminate the living room from its place in the corner, Morgan having decided to leave it on until he retired for the night.

"Well technically it isn't Christmas yet," Morgan said lightly.

"And all of that is going to magically disappear in ten minutes. Even I can't pull that trick off," Reid replied.

Morgan laughed, conceding the point.

"I'm going to chat with Garcia over the computer shortly. You want to join us?" Morgan asked.

Morgan wasn't prepared for the look of panic that appeared on Reid's face. It didn't take him long to figure out what the younger man was thinking though. "Relax, man, it's just an invitation to join us. I didn't say a thing to her about you being involved so she isn't expecting you. I wouldn't do that to you."

Reid relaxed at Morgan's words, relieved that he wasn't being manipulated by yet another friend. "I guess I could at least wish her a Merry Christmas after all the effort she's gone through these last few weeks," Reid conceded.

"That's the spirit," Morgan replied as Reid turned away from the door.

As Reid reached out to turn off the porch light, Morgan pushed the front door shut, automatically checking to make sure it was locked. The two men made their way over to the couch sitting side by side in front of Morgan's laptop which was open on the coffee table. As arranged, Garcia popped up on the screen at midnight, clearly elated to see Reid.

"So, I'm a little jealous," the technical analyst said after greetings had been exchanged. "You guys actually get a white Christmas."

"Yeah, the downside to that is going to be digging out once this snow actually stops. There's got to be over six inches out there already, Baby Girl."

"Well, it'll keep you in shape for kicking in doors when you get back," Garcia quipped.

"Very funny."

"So, Sweet Cheeks, have you still been opening the gifts daily?"

"Yes, I have. I've liked every one of them so far," Reid told her.

"Yeah, the Grinch is upstairs sitting on the bed as we speak and Reid read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' out loud to Sarah and me tonight," Morgan added.

"You're the one that insisted that I read it out loud," Reid protested.

"I still can't believe you never heard the story before."

"Sorry if the secular belief of Santa Claus wasn't very popular in my household as a child," Reid replied.

"Try non-existent."

"Maybe I should just head to bed after all," Reid said, getting to his feet.

Morgan reached out and grabbed the younger man's wrist. "Come on, man. I was just fooling around. Seriously, sit down," he said, inclining his head in the direction of the cushion next to him.

With a sigh, Reid sat back down next to Morgan. The three friends spent some time catching one another up on their activities of the last two days. As it was nearing one thirty in the morning, they started wrapping up the conversation. Before saying goodnight though Garcia made a request of Reid.

"Why don't you go get your last present now and open it. Then I can see your reaction too it."

"Okay," Reid acquiesced, as he got up from the couch and headed upstairs.

"So, Baby Girl, what's the last present? More children's stories?" Morgan asked, flashing his patented smile at the screen.

"You will just have to wait and see," she replied smugly. Garcia's face then grew serious and she lowered her voice. "So, my junior G-man seems more at ease than when he left but how is he really doing?"

"He's fine, Baby Girl. We're taking good care of him and I really do think he's been enjoying himself today."

"Good. I can enjoy my day better knowing that he's happy."

"Speaking of your day, everything ready for dinner with Kevin?"

"Except for the cooking, yes it is."

"Good to hear. Hope you have a wonderful day, Sweetness," Morgan told her as he heard footsteps coming down the steps.

"Thanks," Garcia told him as Reid sat down on the couch next to Morgan. "Go on open it," she encouraged, as Reid held the package in his hand.

"Okay, okay," Reid said, as he slipped a finger under one of the edges of the paper and pulling it away from the package, unveiling a box from a jewelry store.

Even more curious now, as the gift didn't seem to fit in with the other ones that Garcia had given him, Reid glanced quickly to the computer screen. Garcia was smiling in anticipation of his reaction. Reid let his gaze go back to the box in his hand. Discarding the wrapping paper onto the coffee table, Reid found he was holding a box with the logo of a local jewelry store on it. Carefully he lifted off the lid of the box to reveal a gold pocket watch, with the scales of justice embossed on the front.

Reid slowly the watch up from its resting place. "Garcia, its . . . you shouldn't have," he commented, his mind registering how much something like this would have cost. Still, he did have to admit it beat the plain one he sometimes carried when he didn't feel like wearing a wrist watch.

"I wanted at least one serious gift. Besides, once I saw it I just knew it belonged to you," Garcia replied, beaming at her friend's reaction. "Read the inscription on the back," she encouraged.

Reid flipped the watch over. Engraved in the back were the words - For my favorite genius, may you always know when the time is right.

Reid swallowed the lump forming in his throat. Given recent events, those words took on a whole lot of meanings right about now for him.

"Thanks, Garcia."

"You're welcome. Merry Christmas, my turtle doves," she said, her happiness coming through even over the computer. "Now I need to go get some sleep, so I can get in time to have dinner ready on time.

"Merry Christmas," Morgan and Reid replied, before the connection was cut.

For the first time in his life, Reid realized that there was more to the words than just the customary greeting for the holiday. This time he could honestly say that it was a Merry Christmas, despite everything going on his life.

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night," Reid said softly, as he followed Morgan up the steps to the room they were sharing. The grin the older man shot back over his shoulder told Reid he had been overheard. "What?" Reid asked defensively.

"Please tell me that you're not going to recite that story to me before we turn in."

"I wasn't planning to, no, however if you would like-"

"Unless you want to find yourself bound and gagged then I wouldn't recommend it," Morgan replied, the slight lilt in his voice revealing that he wasn't serious about the threat.

Falling silent, the two made their way to the bedroom to get a few hours of sleep in before Morgan's family woke them up to start the Christmas celebrations.