I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.
- Robert Fulghum

Spencer sat on the bench and looked at the rectangle of rumpled earth. On some level he wished he was under his own. Perhaps in some other, better world they would have more time.

He felt someone sit next to him. "I know." Hotch said.

For a moment Spencer bristled. How the hell did he know? What did he know about nothing but pain and humiliation the loneliness of being so horribly unique and then finally, for the first time, finding someone who truly understood? What did he know about the pleasure of going home after a tough case to find a letter or a voice there just for him, the comfort of anything but the hell they worked through. What did he know?

But then his lucid voice reminded him, Hotch knew it all. He'd had Hailey.

"I can only tell you what someone told me." Hotch told him. "Take all the time you need but don't let this end here. Don't destroy part of her legacy that way." Spencer finally looked over, confused. "She taught you how to love. Don't let those lessons go to waste."

One year later

Spencer was sitting at a chess board in a quiet park, just noodling out one of the rarer attacks, trying to see if he could come up with a better defense. It was a glorious spring day, crisp enough for a coat but sunny, there was no reason to do this indoors. And a lot of reasons to do this outdoors, if nothing else this was the first time he'd felt like being in a park since…well, since.

"Mate in three." Someone said.

He looked up at a woman standing there. Pretty chestnut hair, a smattering of freckles, hard to see her figure under the coat she was wearing. "No way." She nodded. He gestured to the bench opposite. "Show me."

As he'd expected she didn't mate him in three. But she did mate him in eight. "Ouch." He murmured.

"Good game." She said. He finally looked up and met her eyes, and something just seemed to click over. He saw her blink like it clicked for her too. It took her a moment but he watched her take a deep breath and nod at the food cart a little ways away. "One more, loser buys coffee?"

"Deal." They set the pieces back up and started. But only a few moments in and his phone beeped a text from Garcia.


He nodded, "Raincheck?"

She sighed. "I'm going to England tomorrow. For four months, I'm doing some graduate work over there."

Damn. He turned to go but something in his head told him no; something that sounded exactly like Maeve. He turned back, "E-mail? We could…try a game that way?"

She smiled. "I don't have personal email, prefer old-fashioned letters. But we could…"

Spencer smiled.