The ringing wouldn't stop. He'd taken the receiver from
its nest, repeatedly spoken into it, waiting for a response that wouldn't come.
He began to shout into the phone. "Maeve! Maeve!" But there was no
response, and the phone continued to ring. Maybe…..He took his cell from his
pocket and shouted into it. Again, no response, and no end to the ringing. He
threw the phone in frustration, and began to shout aloud, in the middle of the
park. "Maeve! Maeve!"
A figure he didn't recognize approached him.
"Why didn't you answer her?"
"What? Who are you?"
"Why didn't you answer her?"
"I tried! I tried, but she wasn't there!"
"Spencer. Why are you here all alone?"
"I'm not alone, am I?"
"You're right, you're not alone. Why can't you see that?"
He awakened, heart pounding in frustration, surprised to find that he was in his own apartment, stretched out on the couch. The late afternoon sun slanted through the blinds, creating a pattern on the floor and walls. Reid rubbed his eyes, trying to erase the dream. He'd had some variation of it each day for the past three days.
Later, the receiver was in his hand again, as he waited for the party he'd called to come to the phone. He'd been alerted she was having one of her good days.
"Hi, Mom. Happy Mother's Day."
"Spencer, you know I don't celebrate any of these made-up holidays."
He paused to sigh. "I know, Mom. I just thought….well, I just wanted to wish you a happy day, that's all."
On her good days, days such as this one, she realized her errors. "You just…..well, thank you, Spencer, it was very nice of you."
"You're welcome. Mom, how are you, really?" Whenever the nurses announced a 'good day', he took advantage to have a more meaningful conversation. Now, he was trying to be sure she was happy with her care.
"I'm fine, Spencer," she assured him. But she thought she'd heard something in his voice. For Diana, motherhood trumped mental illness. She was always able to tell when her son was troubled, but not always able to act on her concern. Today, she heard, and, having clarity, she mothered.
"You don't sound quite yourself, Spencer. Is something wrong?"
The question brought him back to a day many weeks ago.
He hadn't told his mother about Maeve. Not in detail. Not in any kind of truth. In his daily correspondence, he'd mentioned a 'new friend', but not the nature of the friendship.
Then, when he'd lost Maeve, and lost his ability to function for days on end, he'd not maintained that correspondence. He'd not written his letters to Diana. His mind was so consumed with trying to understand Maeve's disappearance into death that he'd completely forgotten everything else. That disruption in their routine aroused Diana's maternal instinct. For the first time in a very long time….really, the first time since the dilaudid…she'd written to him. The letter had been found by JJ, in an unattended pile of mail, during one of the visits she'd forced upon Reid. He'd been having up days and down, and this was a very down day.
"Spence, it looks like this is from your mother." When he didn't make a response, she pushed him. "Don't you think you should open it?"
He shrugged. "Why? It won't make any sense. It never does."
It was the first time JJ had ever heard him express defeat about his mother's illness. His emotions were so unfettered during this period that she wondered if maybe she was finally seeing things the way they really were. He'd never expressed resentment about Diana's situation before, but it was oozing from him now.
As much as JJ cared about Reid, she was also a mother. She loved her friend dearly, but she also identified and related with Diana. She knew that, if it were Henry…..
"Spence, I think you should open it. She's probably worried about you. You haven't written her at all in the past few weeks, have you?"
He just looked at her with those faraway eyes. Watching him, she prayed for the day when he would stay fully present with her. For now, she was going to have to do her best to lure him back.
"Would you like me to read it to you?" Indirectly asking permission to open it.
She decided to interpret his shrug as assent, and tore through the envelope.
She began to read it aloud. "It says, 'Dear Spencer, You haven't written me for four days now. I'm worried. Dr. Norman says you're just busy, that you have an important job. But I have a mother's instinct. I've told you before, we know things. I know something's wrong. Please write to me, Spencer. Or please call me. I'm your mother. Sincerely, Diana Reid."
JJ's voice was choked by the time she reached the final line. Her heart broke for the broken Diana, so ill, and so stilted, but so worried with the heart of a mother. And her heart broke all over again for Reid, as she gained an even deeper understanding of how he was raised. Of how the young Spencer must have longed for nurturing, even in the presence of his mother. And she understood, on a new level, the depth and devastation of the loss of Maeve. For the first time in his life, he'd tasted true unconditional love, and it had been brutally ripped from him.
He was standing by the window, his back to the beauty of the sun framed against the clouds. He'd begun to unconsciously eschew beauty these days. He was a shadowed figure, with the stance of someone defeated by life. For a fleeting instant, she actually felt his loneliness. She walked slowly over to him, arms outstretched. He just stood there, not resisting, but not responding.
JJ put her arms around him and hugged him close. "I love you, Spence. I love you. And Henry does too. You have people in this world, Spence. I know it feels like you lost the only person who matters. Maybe you did. But I need you to know that we love you. Henry and I love you. And I think your mother loves you too, in the only ways she knows how."
She thought she wasn't getting through to him, because he just stood there, unresponsive. And then, ever so slowly, he lifted his arms and put them around her, settling his chin against her shoulder. She held him like that for a full minute. When she released him, she could see the tears running from his eyes.
"I love you, too."
Now, on the phone, his mother was asking him. She knew something was wrong, had known it all those weeks ago. He could hear the clarity in her voice, and knew he needed to answer her. He felt that this time he could reach out for maternal comfort, as he had so longed to do in his younger years. Knowing that, and so desperately needing the comfort, he told her.
"It's just I've lost someone close to me, Mom. You remember, I told you I had a new friend? And now she's died…..she…..she was killed."
"She?" Diana's voice hung on the word. Seconds passed before she spoke again. "Was she special to you, Spencer? Was she a special girl?"
It was such an odd phrase, and yet he knew what she meant.
"Yeah, she was. She was…..we were close. We were getting very close."
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. "Oh, my baby boy. My poor baby. I'm so sorry, Spencer. So sorry."
If he'd been having this conversation a few weeks ago, he couldn't have responded to her. He would have been too lost himself. Now, he could hear it in her voice. When Diana had her moments of clarity, she could interface with the world in much the same way as anyone else could. But the clarity also gave her an awareness of her illness. He could hear the anguish in the tone of her voice. And now she put it into words.
"God damn this disease! I should have been there for you. I should have comforted you. Can I do it now, baby? Can you come to see me? Can I love you?"
In these all too rare moments, he knew what it was for a son to love his mother. Not the image of what his mother might be, or could have been. But the real person, the one who gave life to him, and who, in this moment, would have given her life for him.
"Mom…..thank you. Thanks for that. It means a lot to me that you want to. But I'm back to work now, and I can't get time off, because..." Because there's someone after us. But he couldn't tell her that. Instead, he tried to give her comfort by telling her the source of his.
"My friends have been really good to me. Garcia, and Morgan, Rossi, Blake, Hotch…all of them. And, you remember JJ…." He knew she wouldn't, even though the two had met once. But he'd written of her often enough….
"JJ's been really good to me. I've spent a lot of time with her and Henry….he's my godson, you remember." Hoping she did. "I'm okay, Mom. Or, I will be." So they say.
She was placated, but only for the moment. "Well, the minute you can, you come out and see your mother, you hear?"
He smiled at her, through the phone. "I will, Mom. I love you. Happy Mother's Day." Oops, he hadn't meant to bring up the 'made up holiday' again.
But Diana was in full out maternal mode. She wasn't going to let a commercially-inspired celebration come between her and her son. "Thank you, Spencer. I love you."
Monday morning dawned gloomy and overcast, matching Reid's mood. He'd had the dream again last night. The frustration of not being able to reach her, of not being able to answer her call. The combination of the dream and the weather made him irritable.
"Hey, Pretty Boy, how was your weekend?"
"Peachy. I'll bet yours was "outstanding"….isn't that what you usually say?"
The older agent hesitated a moment before responding. "It was good. I'm sorry if yours wasn't."
Normally, Morgan would have given it right back to him. But he was sensitive to Reid's loss, and watched his words. That irritated Reid, too.
JJ arrived, looking exhausted.
"Whoa, Pennsylvania Petite….what happened to you?" Morgan wasn't mincing his words for his female colleague.
She headed straight for the coffee bay, calling over her shoulder, "You wouldn't believe…"
Reid waited for her at her desk. "Wouldn't believe what? What happened?"
She fell into her chair and started sipping her coffee. "Well, I had a perfectly lovely Mother's Day. Henry made me a card, and this little…..thing…..a pottery thing….that they made in school. And he brought me breakfast in bed….."
Morgan was surprised. "He cooks?!"
She chuckled. "No, he pours cereal, and only under his grandmother's supervision. But he made me breakfast in bed anyway."
She was watching Reid as she spoke, seeing the storm clouds in his eyes.
"Everything okay, Spence?"
He looked startled. "Me? Yeah, why wouldn't it be?"
"Just asking." She kept her gaze on him as she turned her body towards Morgan. "Anyway, I had a nice breakfast in bed, and then we took my mom out for lunch. It was a great day."
"So why the upset?" Morgan encouraged her in the story.
She was still watching Reid as she spoke. "Because I had a call from the lawyer last night. Will's gotten the hearing moved up, to Thursday. He didn't even speak with me about it."
Reid hadn't been making eye contact with either of his colleagues, but his response made it clear that he'd been listening.
"He's trying to catch you off guard. And he doesn't want to give you enough time to establish that you've got a support system in place. It's strategy." Now he met JJ's eyes.
She looked back at him. "Do you think it will work?"
He could see how much she needed reassurance. So, whether he believed them or not, he spoke the words she needed to hear. "Absolutely not."
She caught up with him later in the day.
"You don't look happy, Spence. Did something happen?"
"Nothing new." He hadn't even looked up from his file. JJ leaned in to put her face in front of his, forcing his attention.
"Okay, so what 'old' thing is on your mind today?"
She reminded him so much of Henry in that moment, of how the four year old's face was always just inches away from his when he wanted his godfather's attention. He couldn't help but laugh.
"What? What's funny?"
"You. And Henry. You are definitely mother and son."
It took her a moment to realize what he was talking about, and then she laughed too.
"Touche. But really, Spence, is there something you want to talk about?"
He closed the file and pushed his chair back so he could see her better. "It's just this dream. I keep having it….four days in a row now. Some variation on it, anyway. I feel like it's trying to tell me something, but I can't figure it out."
"Do you want to tell me about it?"
He did. He ran through the several variations, and the common theme of not being able to answer Maeve's call. He was shaking his head as he concluded.
"I don't know what it's supposed to mean. Is it that I can't speak with her again? I already know that, why do I need to dream about it? Is there something she never got to tell me, and still won't? I don't know, and I can't figure it out. And it won't go away."
JJ was quiet for a few moments, thinking. Then she shook her head as well.
"Don't know. But aren't you supposed to see Anna Hughes again? Maybe she can help you sort through it."
He recognized her not-so-subtle reminder that his therapy wasn't over. "Yeah, I know. I'm supposed to go tomorrow afternoon. But I'll be through in time to pick you up for the preschool thing."
"Thank God. It's actually a pretty helpful thing…..it's how I got to know some of the mothers of Henry's friends, especially since I'm not usually there for pick up time. But my new "available" status," she was making finger quotes, "puts a whole new spin on it. You're a lifesaver, Spence."
"Just doing my job, ma'am."
She'd started to fill him in on some of the personalities he would meet when Garcia approached them with a bouquet of flowers.
"For you, JJ. It seems you have an admirer." She set the vase on Reid's desk.
JJ rolled her eyes. "You see? This is why I need you with me tomorrow night, Spence." She took the card from the envelope to see which of the single dads had sent them.
Reid, watching her, made sure he had a smile on his face, despite his feelings about her being pursued by a new suitor. That smile turned to concern when he saw her recoil from the card in her hand.
"What? What's wrong?"
For a split second, he didn't understand, but the word hit him with almost physical impact. He grabbed the card from her. "Let me see that."
He stared at it for a moment, and then pushed all three of them back from the bouquet. "We need to have it analyzed. Don't let anyone near it. Garcia, you need to get checked out." She'd had the flowers in her hands, right under her nose.
Morgan's office overlooked the bullpen. He was a restless paper pusher at best, and had a habit of making a visual sweep of the BAU after every few pages of reading. He'd noticed the small group of his colleagues gathered around Reid's desk. He watched as all of their facial expressions simultaneously took on a look of grave concern, and he started to rise. When he saw Reid move them all away from the flowers, he went out to the railing.
"Guys, what's going on?"
Reid responded. "Morgan, we need to get Garcia to a doctor. And we need to isolate this area."
At the news about Penelope, Morgan leapt down the stairs. Once Reid explained the situation, Morgan started to scort their protesting technical analyst to their medical division.
"I'm fine, Derek. Really, I feel fine."
"Baby Girl, if you don't come with me willingly, I will carry you there myself."
Despite the situation, Reid and JJ couldn't help but chuckle when it looked like Garcia was seriously considering her options.
"Go on, Pen. I'll come down and check on you later." JJ wanted to get to work on finding out who'd arranged for the delivery.
"Oh, all right. But you two were near the flowers, too. If it turns out there's a problem, make sure you get checked out yourselves." With that, she allowed Morgan to bring her for evaluation.
JJ turned frightened eyes to Reid. "What does it mean, Spence?"
That word. Zugzwang. The word that preceded the attack on Maeve, and the near loss of Reid as a result. Were the ones she loved in the crosshairs now? She thought of her mother at home with Henry. Henry!
Reid didn't have to be inside her head to follow her train of thought. He put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed.
"We'll find a way to keep them safe, JJ. We have to."