Chapter 18

JJ held her breath, watching and waiting for what came next. This time, Reid didn't look at her at all. He was completely focused on his godson.

"Are you mad at Mommy and Daddy, Henry?"

Henry's eyes were on his mother. Her heart broke for her son, but she had to let him get it out.

"It's all right, Henry. You can tell Uncle Spence. I'm sorry if you're mad at me, but it's okay. And it's okay to tell him."

Henry ran to his mother and hugged her legs. "I love you, Mommy!"

That almost undid JJ completely. She had to swallow before she could speak. Bending down, she hugged her son. "I love you too, Henry. And I'm so sorry if I made you upset. But I want you to talk about it, okay?"

He pulled back from her. "Can I tell Uncle Spence?"

JJ looked from one of her 'boys' to the other. Reid gave her a subtle nod and an encouraging smile.

"Of course, baby. How about I go and finish making dinner, and you guys can talk in here?" With another squeeze, she left godfather and godson alone together.

Reid pulled Henry up onto the sofa with him. "Okay, little man, let's have it. What is it you're mad at your parents about?" He ruffled Henry's hair as he asked.

"I don't want to be sad like Toby. When his mom and dad didn't live in the same house, he got so sad and he did those bad things. He got in trouble all the time. Mommy said Daddy's gonna live in a 'nother house from now on. And I'm scared that I'll get sad too. I'm scared that I'll be bad."

Reid sat back, his arm around Henry. He wasn't sure what to do with this. Henry wasn't saying he was sad per se, he was saying he was afraid it would happen. And he was afraid of what it would do to him. There was both an innocence and a sophistication to what his godson was telling him that completely confounded Reid. Help!

Praying he wouldn't fail the trust JJ had put in him, Reid asked, "Henry, are you sad right now?"

The blonde head nodded.


"Because I made Mommy sad."

Reid squinted at him. "Just now? You think you made Mommy sad just now?"

"She was sad. I could tell."

Reid shifted to look at Henry straight on. "Henry, she was only worried about you. She wasn't really sad. She would only be sad if you were sad. So, are you? Sad? Are you sad about your mom and dad not living in the same house any more?"

Henry was visibly thinking it over. "I'm s'posed to be. Right, Uncle Spence?"

Reid gave him a small smile. "You don't have to be, Henry. There aren't any rules about it. It's not always a sad thing. A lot of times, it's okay, and everybody's happy."

"Really, Uncle Spence?"



And he climbed down from the sofa and got to work with his toys. Reid just sat there, at a loss. Here, he'd been ready for a deep, heart-to-heart talk with his godson, and it had just ended abruptly. All it had taken was for Henry to be given permission to react as he was inclined to, and not to mimic his classmate. Next time I'm getting ready to call myself a genius, I'll remember this conversation with a four year old and keep my mouth shut. But somehow he knew this wasn't the last time they'd be talking about this subject.

Reid made his way to the kitchen, where JJ was tossing a salad.

"Well?" She was sniffling.

"He's fine. He's not even upset about you and Will not being together, at least not that he could say. It was that he thought he would start acting like his pal Toby, and he was upset with you for making that happen. But I told him it wasn't necessarily so, and he was happy. He's playing now."

"That's it? He's not mad at me for leaving Will? Not mad at Will for last night?" Both of them were sure Henry knew it had actually been his father banging on the door.

Reid shook his head. "Not that he can say. At least, not yet." But it was early in the process, and much could change.

JJ sagged into a chair. "Thank you, God."

Reid studied her for a few moments. "How are you holding up, JJ? You barely got any rest last night, and now you're cooking up a feast. You must be exhausted."

She smiled her thanks to him. "I am tired, physically and emotionally. But," she said as she reached for her cell phone, "I think I'll be able to sleep tonight."

She showed him the text she'd gotten from Will.

'I'm sorry. I was drunk. It will never happen again. I'll talk to the lawyer and sign anything you want me to. Please don't take Henry from me.'

Reid moved his eyes from the text to JJ. "Do you believe him?"

She nodded. "I think I do. He drinks, but he doesn't get drunk. I don't think he'll do anything like last night again."

"But do you believe him about signing an agreement?"

She sighed. "My best guess is that his buddies on the force talked to him. They certainly would never arrest him, but they'd let him know that his behavior would put him at a disadvantage when it comes to custody. Enough of them have been through it to know that. And while they might not be willing to support a statement from me, there are plenty of neighbors who heard him that night. Will's mistake was acting out in public."

Reid still wasn't sure he felt comfortable with this. "So, are you thinking about staying at the house if he signs an agreement to leave you alone?"

"What choice do I have, Spence?"

She was right. It wasn't realistic to think of them staying with him indefinitely. They needed a home. But he needed them safe.

"Well...I guess. If you think you can trust him on it."

"I don't have a choice about that either, Spence. You heard Hotch. There's nothing specific that he's said or done that puts us at risk, and I can't keep him from his son. Part of me doesn't want to keep Will and Henry apart, because I know they love each other. It's just..."

He finished for her. "It's just that it might not be the healthiest kind of love."

She was tearing up again. "I have so royally screwed up my life, haven't I? And Henry's too."

Reid took her hand across the table. "You've done no such thing. Henry is an amazing, brilliant, kind, loving kid. And that didn't happen by accident."

She squeezed his hand in thanks. "I hope he stays that way."

"He will. He's just like his mom."

Now she gave him her full smile. "Enough about me and my woes. How did your talk with Maeve go?"

JJ got a kick out of watching the smile come to Reid's face. He's got it bad.

"Fine. She said to wish you and Henry well, by the way."

JJ looked surprised. "You talk about us?"

He couldn't tell if she was upset about it. "Well...yes. Is that okay? It was Maeve who helped me to see how trapped you were. She knew, from her own experience."

JJ had to think about that for a moment. She'd heard from Reid about Maeve's problem with her former boyfriend, but hadn't related her own situation to it.

"So she helped you to help me?"

He nodded. "At first, she told me that I shouldn't push you, that you had to see it for yourself, and do something on your own. But then she said she thought you might not be able to, because of Henry. Because you would feel guilty about taking him away from Will."

JJ just stared at him, impressed with the insight he was reporting. "Boy, did she have my number. That's exactly how I felt."

Whew! He was relieved. JJ didn't sound upset with him for discussing her with Maeve. In fact…..

"You know, Spence, I think I'd like to meet Maeve some day. She sounds like a pretty amazing woman. After you meet her, of course." Her smile told him she was teasing him now.

"Very funny. It will happen some day. Although I don't know if I'll be ready."

"You'll be fine, Spence. Don't be afraid of meeting her. Any girl would be lucky to have you."

Shy smile. "I don't know, I may need some moral support."

"What you'll need is some fashion advice. But I'll be happy to dress you up."

"Are you serious?"

"I'm kidding about the fashion advice, Spence." Not really. "But I'm serious about getting you ready. Any time."

"I may take you up on that, JJ."

All three inhabitants of Reid's apartment slept soundly, and long, that evening. In the morning, Reid left for the BAU while JJ got Henry off to preschool and then went to an appointment with her attorney, Richard Cartwright. Although they'd had several conversations by phone, this was the first time they were meeting in person.

"How's Aaron?" He was ushering her to a seat.

"He sends his regards. Thank you for making time for me so quickly."

"Aaron made it sound like some things were coming to a head. I like my clients all in one piece. Hard to get paid otherwise."

JJ wasn't so sure she was fond of legal humor.

He continued. "Tell me everything again, and then I'll probably have some additional questions for you. Then we can start negotiating. I'm assuming he has an attorney?"

"I think he's contacting someone today."

"Great. Let's get started..."

JJ told the whole story from her point of view. Her sense of fairness caused her to try to represent Will's perspective as well, but Cartwright discouraged her.

"That's for his attorney to do."

"Mr. Cartwright…Richard….I don't want this to be adversarial. We have a young son together, and I don't want him hurt by this. No more than is absolutely necessary."

Cartwright studied her. He'd had this conversation with a great many of his clients. Only a few succeeded.

She knew Reid would be upset with her for going to the house alone, but JJ knew Will's schedule and was confident he wouldn't be there. And she needed to gather more of their things. They'd left so quickly on Saturday that she'd packed only enough for a day or two. And it was now that day or two later.

His car was nowhere in sight, so JJ parked and made her way to the house. She fumbled with her key chain, now laden with her new house keys and a key to Reid's apartment as well. The police had advised her to give Will a set of keys to the new locks when they'd responded the other night. As they'd informed her, she had no right to lock him out. That was a waste of time and money.

She entered the house cautiously, not certain what she would find. Without being consciously aware of it, she was using the state of the interior as a measure of Will's behavior. Was he angry and resentful enough to cause damage? Or was he truly remorseful?

"Will? Is anybody home?" If he was there, she wanted to draw him out. "It's JJ."

No answer. No sound at all except the ticking of the wall clock. The house was empty. And intact.

JJ made her way to their bedroom and started packing. This time, she would take enough for a week. She paused and stared thoughtfully at the side of the closet that held Will's clothes, remembering the day they'd moved everything in there. He'd joked with her about how his 'side' was only about a quarter of the closet. It had been a good day, and they'd been excited for their future together. How did it all so go so wrong?

Moving next to Henry's room, JJ packed a combination of clothes (optional) and toys (necessities). She had to bite back tears as she thought of the disruption his parents' failure to love one another was bringing to her son's life. But we'll be back in a week. It will be okay. She did her best to convince herself.

For the second day in a row, Reid followed his nose into his home. There was another wonderful aroma coming from his kitchen.

"JJ, you don't have to cook, you know."

His words were belied by his actions when he went directly to the stove and lifted the lid on the pot simmering there, closing his eyes and wafting in the scent of it.

"I know I don't have to, but I was home, and you weren't, so….."

He patted his midsection. "I think I might put on ten pounds this week."

JJ backhanded him in the same areas. "Good. Then I'll have fulfilled my mission."

"Ha, ha. How did it go today?"

She hesitated. "Okay, I guess. It's so odd, telling a complete stranger about such private things. Hard, you know? But I did it, and it's over."

"Any word from Will?"

She nodded. "He's got an attorney, and his attorney and mine are going to talk. Then they'll "get back to us." She was making finger quotes. "It's so strange, Spence. These people who don't even know us are going to come up with a plan for our lives. I just don't like how it feels."

His face showed her his regret. "I don't think anything about this is going to feel good, JJ. I'm sorry."

She smiled her thanks, and changed the subject.

"I stopped by the house and picked up some more things. Clothes, a bunch of Henry's toys. They're kind of all over the floor in there. But, don't worry, Spence, we'll get it all cleaned up before we go. You won't even be able to tell we were here."

He wasn't used to sharing his private space, and it was requiring him to make some adjustments. But he already knew he wouldn't ever want to forget the time he'd shared his home with them. Instead, he thought he might come to treasure it.

But all he said was, "I don't mind."

"Uncle Spence!" Henry had been in the bedroom, and hadn't realized Reid was home. He hugged his godfather's knees.

"Henry, my man! How was your day?"

JJ had been trying to signal him not to ask, but it was too late. Henry launched into a lengthy, play-by-play commentary on his day, complete with the occasional dramatic reenactment.

"And then Mommy came and got me, and we came home. Well, we came home here, to your house. And my toys were here!"

Now JJ was standing behind Henry, laughing at the series of expressions on Reid's face. They'd been passing from rapt attention, to amusement, to horror at someone's bad behavior, and around again. When Henry got to the part about his toys being in the apartment, the youngster remembered that he wanted to play with them. He ended his story abruptly and ran from the kitchen.

JJ'd had to cover her mouth with her hand to keep her laugh from escaping. Reid just looked at her.

"Is it always like that?"

"Every day," she giggled. "But I get most of it in the car, if I pick him up."


"Just in case you need to use it, I find a more directed question is better. Like, 'what did you do in circle time', or 'what story did you read'. He doesn't tend to go on as long if you do that."

Reid was still recovering. "Wow." He thought about it a minute more, smiled. "I don't mind. I think I could listen to that every day."

She loved him for that. For being so enchanted by her little boy. Will may not have agreed, but I was right about asking him to be Henry's godfather.

They both ran when they heard a sudden crash in the hallway.

"Henry, what happened?"

His back end was sticking out of a closet. "Nothing."

The adults looked at each other and laughed.

"That was a pretty loud 'nothing', Henry. Did something fall?" Reid pulled the door all the way open.

"My car went in there. Under the door. I was just looking for it, Uncle Spence."

"No worries, Henry. Nothing's broken." He pulled out a large box to make room for them to look for the car.

"Spence, is that what the box says? Is that a keyboard? Do you play?" She hadn't known.

"I play a little. But it takes up space, so I put it away to make some room."

"Can I play with it, Uncle Spence?"

"Henry, it's not a toy. Uncle Spence plays music on it."

"He can play it, JJ. But," turning his attention to the little boy, "we have to play softly. The neighbors might not like it if it's loud."

"I'm never loud, Uncle Spence!" he yelled.

After dinner, Reid set up the keyboard and Henry pounded on it for a while. Tiring of it, he went back to his cars. JJ had been reading, but now turned to Spence.

"Will you play for me? Anything you want."

She expected him to be shy and refuse, but he surprised her by complying. When he sat down, she made a mental prediction that she'd hear a classical piece. But it wasn't. It was something light, and sweet, and airy.

"That's beautiful, Spence. I'm so surprised that I didn't know this about you. Have you always played?"

He told her about how he'd learned after having his experience with their young witness with autism. How the music had been his main means of expression.

"That, and his drawings."

She already knew Reid liked to draw, even if his renderings were 'interpretive' at best.

"So you just picked it up, that quickly." She was impressed, then realized that maybe she should have expected it. He was, after all, a genius.

"Well, it's mostly math. And manual dexterity. Years of doing magic helped with that."

"Well, it was beautiful. What was it?"

"Oh, just something I messed around with."

Now she was even more impressed. "You composed that?"

Realizing her reaction, he was shy. "Sort of, yes."

JJ was shaking her head in an expression of amazement. But she also realized he was becoming uncomfortable, so she didn't comment further. "Play some more. Please?"

He did. And JJ sat, and listened, and marveled at what he was expressing in his music. He was usually so serious and reserved, sometimes even with her. But this music was lilting, and free. How is it I feel I know you so well, and yet I keep learning more and more about you. Such are the depths of Spencer Reid, I guess.

As much as people can in the space of a week, they fell into a routine. Fortunately, they weren't called away, so Henry's life didn't suffer further upheaval. Reid shooed JJ out of the kitchen one night, surprising her with a delightful pasta creation that even Henry enjoyed. But she insisted on doing most of the cooking, as her contribution to the household. Unknown to Reid, she was also stocking his freezer with meals created from their leftovers.

The rest of the pieces of JJ's life were settling into their new places. Karen, the sitter, proved a godsend when she agreed to pick Henry up after school, and even to take him for overnights when JJ was away. Will was true to his word, and moved his things out of the house by the end of the week. He promised not to return uninvited. In turn, JJ was asked to allow him joint custody of Henry, pending the final, legal decision by the court. For now, Will would contribute to the household expenses so that Henry wouldn't be uprooted. But he hadn't made any permanent commitment on that. It would, apparently, be decided in court.

By Saturday, JJ and Henry were ready to move back home. Reid wasn't entirely sure he trusted Will at his word, but he agreed with JJ that they had to let it play out. As he helped them pack everything up, he was surprised at how empty his apartment was already looking, absent Henry's toys everywhere. He could only imagine how it would feel when it was also absent Henry, and his mother.

He went with them back to the house, and saw them settled in. JJ walked him to the door after they'd gotten Henry down for the night.

"Thank you, Spence, for everything. I don't know what I would have done without you."

"It's what you do for the people you love, right? Isn't that what you told me? You know, when I got shot and you had to bring me groceries?"

"Guilty. But that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to tell you how grateful I am. Really, Spence, you made all the difference for us. All of it."

He was flustered, not used to this. She saw it, and rescued him.

"Say 'hi' to Maeve for me. And tell her 'thank you' for the advice she gave you. And tell her I said she should take your advice." JJ had been able to tell Reid was already getting excited about his weekly phone call.

Reid wondered how he'd come to this predicament. He may have loved them differently, but the two women in his life had started having a conversation with each other, through him. Giving new meaning to the term 'middle man'.

"Maybe I should just bring you with me, and the two of you can talk to each other."

"Someday we will, Spence. I hope."

He did too. Until he realized they'd both be talking about him.

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