Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and all its characters belong to CBS. I own nothing. I do not own anything you recognize.
Previously on Criminal Minds- Chuckling as the four year old used his slice of apple like a steering wheel, Hotch leaned back against the sofa and settled in to enjoy a quiet night alone with his family.
"Hailey! You're looking as beautiful as ever!" Sarah cheerfully greeted. She then gazed at the wide eyed four year old in her friend's arms. "And this little guy must be Spencer! He is simply adorable!" She reached out to pinch the boy's cheek.
Spencer buried his face in his mama's shoulder. While the raven haired lady was smiling at him, she was still a stranger and he didn't want her touching him.
Realizing her mistake, Sarah quickly withdrew her hand. "You two come right on in!" she instructed with a sad smile. "I've set everything up in the living room. Jason is already there waiting for you."
"Alright" Hailey agreed. She followed the older woman into the spacious sparsely decorated room. Spying the injured profiler sitting in his well-worn leather recliner, she strode over and carefully hugged him. "Hi, Jason! You look like you're feeling better."
Jason nodded. "I am." He replied, adding loudly, "even though some of us refuse to believe that."
"Better does not mean one hundred percent." Sarah reminded as she walked back into the room with a tray of drinks.
"She's right, Jason. You don't want to push yourself too hard. All that will get you is a one way ticket back to the hospital and you don't want that, do you?" Hailey lightly scolded.
Jason sighed. He hated to admit that the young mother was right. Noticing the tiny boy in her arms staring curiously at him, the disgruntled man smiled. "No, we wouldn't want that, right kiddo?"
Spencer cocked his head to one side as he continued to look intently at the agent.
"Spencer, honey that's Uncle Jason. He works with your daddy." Hailey reminded. "You remember Uncle Jason, don't you?"
The four year old turned his gaze on his mother. "Jay Jay?" he muttered.
"That's right buddy!" Jason praised, grinning from ear to ear. "I'm Uncle Jay Jay!"
"Jay Jay!" Spencer excitedly hollered, reaching for the man.
Hailey leaned down so her son could hug their friend. "Careful Spencer, Uncle Jason is hurt." She advised.
Nodding, Spencer gently hugged Jason and then began squirming to get down. "Down mama, Spencer want down" he demanded.
"Come over here Spencer" Sarah called once Hailey set him on his feet. "Aunt Sarah has a table and chair all ready for you. See? You can sit here while you eat."
Spencer glanced at the set-up. He grinned at the sight of the mini recliner covered with colorful animals and the beanie babies scattered around the small wooden table. "An'mals!" he shouted. He quickly toddled over and scooped up an armful of the stuffed toys. "Spencer love an'mals!"
"I thought you might." Sarah said as she set the last of the food on the coffee table. "Alright everyone, it's ready! Go ahead and fix your plates and dig in."
Jason watched out of the corner of his eye as Hotch's foster son walked around the room examining everything within reach. For the age he was acting the boy was being awfully careful with the items. That was a good sign. It meant the intelligent four year old they all knew was starting to come to the surface. All he needed was a little more…Jason smiled as the boy came to a stop at the chess table beside his recliner.
Spencer ghosted his hand across the antique surface reverently. He eyed the glass black and white pieces all over the board for a moment before gently picking up the closest piece, a black knight, and placing it back on its starting point. Smiling, the little boy picked up another piece and then another, setting them in their places.
Gideon looked on proudly as the youngster swiftly and confidently set up the chess board. Once that task was finished, the profiler decided to see if he could bring the boy out a little more. He picked up one of the white rooks and moved it to a square in the middle of the board, an illegal move in a game.
Spencer's forehead scrunched up at the placement. Snatching the piece, he quickly set it back in its proper place.
Encouraged Jason picked up another piece, a knight this time, and set it between the king and queen on the other side of the board.
"No" Spencer growled, placing the knight back in its rightful place.
Grinning, Jason scooped up a pawn and slid it sideways across the board, coming to a stop on the last square.
"NO!" Spencer shouted before righting the piece.
Jason held out a hand to stop Hailey from saying anything. He gave the woman a smile to let her know things were okay and then tuned back into their game. He rubbed his chin for a moment before picking up another piece and making a move.
"Hailey! Spencer! I'm home!" Aaron called as he strode through the doorway. He set down his briefcase, frowning when his announcement failed to get a response. He shared a worried glance with Rossi and then hurried through the house searching for his wife and son. The two men scoured the upstairs and living room before making it to the kitchen. Seeing the open back door and hearing laughter, they quickly made their way outside. They both relaxed as soon as they saw Spencer and his two best buddies happily playing while Hailey and the Jareaus manned the grill. "There you are!" Aaron said as he walked up to the adults.
"AARON!" Hailey exclaimed. She gave her husband a hug and a kiss before continuing. "You won't believe what happened at Gideon's today! Spencer played chess with Jason! He actually played chess!"
"A real game?" Aaron asked, breaking into a grin when his wife nodded.
Rossi patted his friend on the back. "Congratulations Aaron" he said. "It sounds like Spencer's finally starting to come around."
Hotch beamed. "Thank…"
"Come on in!" Hailey hollered, waving to the mother and children standing at their gate. She linked her arm with her husband's and the two went across the lawn to their new guests. "Mrs. Morgan, I'm so glad you could make it!" Hailey greeted. "I'm Hailey and this is my husband Aaron."
"And I'm Susan Jareau and that's my husband Henry flipping the hamburgers." Mrs. Jareau introduced. "And the man helping him is Dave Rossi."
"It's nice to meet you. My children have done nothing but talk about you and your children since you all met the other day." Fran told them.
"All good I hope" Hailey teased as they slowly made their way back to the deck.
"Of course" Fran replied.
Rossi licked his lips as the group walked up to the grillers. "That looks delicious." He declared, pointing to the watermelon that had been cut to look like a basket and filled with an assortment of fruits.
"Thank you Mr. Rossi" Fran said. "It's not much but I wanted to bring something."
"Please call me Dave" Rossi insisted as he took the watermelon basket from the young mother and set it on the table. "And this is more than enough."
"Thank you Dave" Mrs. Morgan stated. "I'm Fran by the way and these are my girls Sarah and Desiree and my son…"
"ICKY!" Spencer shouted as he raced over to the group, latched onto Derek's arm, and began jumping up and down. "Icky! Icky!"
Derek rolled his eyes at the new nickname. "It's Derek, remember Spencer?" he corrected. "Come on. I know you can do it. Say Derek."
"Icky!" Spencer hollered.
Sighing, Derek knelt down in front of the younger boy. "Try again. Say Der"
"Der" Spencer repeated.
"Ek" Derek said.
"Ek" Spencer copied.
Derek grinned. "Great!" he praised. "Now say Derek."
"Icky!" Spencer proudly exclaimed.
Derek groaned even as his smile widened. "Fine, I'm Icky." He conceded. He ruffled the four year old's hair and then stood and held out his hand. "Come on Pretty Boy, let's go check out that wicked looking ride of yours."
"Okay" Spencer agreed. He took the older boy's hand and the two ran off to play.