Chapter 44

It was still early, and they wanted to talk privately, so the two young profilers headed to Reid's apartment after they left the social. Reid noticed JJ's eyes wandering around the rooms, looking for signs of his emotional state. What she saw apparently pleased her.

"No more mess. I'm trying to keep things straightened up."

"So I see. Good. And if I look in the fridge, will I see food? Have you been eating right when you're at home?"

"Yes, Mom. I can even fix us a snack."

"We just ate…twice. Do we really need a snack?"

He smiled. "Just something to go with the wine."

"Ooh, wine. Now you're talking." The punch at the social had done nothing to take the edge off the day.

She went to the kitchen with him to help. He popped the cork and handed her the bottle while he put together a tray of cheese, crackers and nuts.

"Are those the nuts Garcia sent? That was months ago, Spence."

"She sent a lot of baskets, JJ. I couldn't get through it all in a year."

He followed her back into the living room. They clinked their glasses together, as JJ said, "Well, here's to better times ahead. All we have to do is get there."

Her words sounded so much like those of Anna Hughes this afternoon. All they had to do was to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trudge ahead to some distant future, somehow trusting that things would be better. He didn't know if he had enough faith for that.

JJ noticed his keyboard still set up in the corner and commented on it. "Have you been playing?"

"Yeah, it helps me, especially when I'm restless….you know, when I can't concentrate."

She reached a hand out to rub his arm. "Still having trouble?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes, a lot. Sometimes, not so much. It depends on the day. Or the hour."

"It will get better, Spence. It's a little better already, isn't it?" She watched for his reaction. He'd once told her how it made him feel guilty whenever he realized he was having a moment of enjoyment, however fleeting.

He knew she was recalling that conversation. "It is. And it's okay. I'm not all the way there yet, but I'm getting okay with it."

She leaned back, relaxing against the sofa. Her eyes fell on the keyboard again.

"Play something for me?"

He thought she was remembering the uplifting melody he'd played when she and Henry were staying with him. He didn't have that kind of music inside him anymore.

"I don't know that you'll like it, JJ. My music has kind of changed."

She was undeterred. "Play it anyway. Anything you want. I just want to listen."

He put down his wine glass and moved to the keyboard. For weeks it had served as a means of articulating his mourning for Maeve. For weeks he'd played the only melody that would come to him, the one he'd come to think of as "Maeve's Elegy".

He hesitated now, not sure if he wanted to keep it private. But his fingers decided for him, and began to move over the keys. The soft minor chords blended with the melancholic succession of notes to create a melody that touched JJ's heart. She watched him as he played, eyes closed, a peaceful expression on his face. When he was done, he looked over at her. She smiled at him through the tears brimming her eyes.

"That was for Maeve, wasn't it?"

"The first time I sat here after she died, it just came out. And it's been the only thing that I can get to come out ever since."

"It was beautiful, Spence. I'm sure she loves it."

She'd purposely used the present tense. She fully believed that her own lost loved one watched over her, and she wanted Reid to believe it about Maeve. She knew from experience that it brought much needed comfort.

He rejoined her on the sofa. "I hope she does."

It was the first time she'd heard him say anything that made it sound like he might still have that sense of Maeve. For so long, he'd frantically tried to resolve the question of how her presence could so suddenly have been lost. Now it seemed as though he was finding that presence again.

"Do you mean that? That you think she might know about it?"

He shrugged his shoulders in the process of taking a deep breath.

"I don't know. But I guess I'm starting to understand what you've been telling me all along. That she didn't just disappear. That she'll always have some kind of presence in my life. Even if only in my dreams."

"I really do mean that, Spence. I wasn't just saying it to make you feel better. I really believe we carry each other in our hearts, somehow. I even think we do it when we're alive. I know I have Henry in my heart. I even carry you there."

For a moment, his gaze was so intense that she felt like she could literally feel it. Like he was looking inside, trying to see her heart. Trying to find himself there.

"I think I understand what you mean," he said. "I think I've got you in mine as well."

Without thinking, she reached out and put her hand on his chest, over his heart. "Right here."

He lifted his hand and covered hers, holding it against his chest. The moment felt intense, and intimate, and important…..and unexpected, and enigmatic. It was as though they'd each become caught up in a moment out of time….and then plopped right back into it. They both dropped their hands, still staring at one another.

JJ blinked, and came back to herself first, remembering that they'd come here to talk about the events of the past few days. She started that conversation.

"Did you want to talk about your session with Anna Hughes?" Knowing that it was confidential, and that he might want to keep it that way.

"It was…..I don't know. It was productive, I guess. But…."


"But basically she said I just need to wait it out. That it will get better, that I'll understand the dreams….all if I wait. But the waiting is what's making it so hard. And yet….." His voice dropped off.

She stared off for a minute, remembering back. Seeing the child she'd been so many years ago.

"You know, Spence, when I was a girl….when I lost my sister….I remember people telling me the same thing. To give it time. To just wait for it to get better. And I remember thinking that I couldn't wait for the time to pass, because I so desperately needed to feel better. But I also didn't want time to pass, because I'd be so much farther away from my sister…..from when she was alive. I felt like I was pushing her away, just to feel better."

His eyes widened, ever so slightly. That was it. She was articulating that thing that had been escaping him all this time.

"JJ….I think that's exactly how I've been feeling. I just wasn't connected with it enough to realize. How did you ever do that as a child?"

She gave a cynical snort. "I lost that part of my childhood, Spence. Having someone you love purposely leave you will make you grow up in a hurry."

He knew about that. He hadn't lost the person he'd loved in the same way, but he'd grown up very quickly when his father abandoned him.

"So, how do you reconcile it? How do you deal with the guilt of wanting to feel better? Of wanting the time to pass?"

She heard the hurt that was still in his voice. "You grow into it. They're right, Spence. It doesn't feel better…..until it does. And when it does, you realize that you can move on, without forgetting. That you don't have to hurt so much just to honor a memory. Because you can honor it by living life well, and being happy, and productive."

He squinted at her. "You learned all that at eleven?"

She chuckled. "No, that came much later. As a kid, I just lived. Period. As an adult, I looked back. And that's what I came up with."

He was quiet, thinking, absently stroking his chin. "I don't know. I don't know that I can really have enough faith to trust the future. But it's clear I can't live in the past. So I guess maybe I'll just have to stay in the present. You know? To just live in the day. Day after day."

"Isn't that the motto? One day at a time?"

He smiled and nodded. It was supposed to be his motto.

JJ continued. "Well, it works for everything, doesn't it? Live in the present, one day at a time. And, before you know it…."

"You're in that future, and it doesn't look as scary." I guess perspective can work both ways.

"Right." JJ shifted. "But we need to talk about the present as well, don't we? Because that's pretty scary right at the moment."

He knew she was talking about the Replicator.

"I don't like the idea of you and Henry being alone, JJ. Even with the surveillance team. Taking care of him is distracting, and you need to be on alert." Not to mention that they might use him to leverage you. The thought frightened him so much that he couldn't utter it aloud.

"My mom will be here until next week, and then Will has a few days off, so if we're traveling…"

"But what about when it's just you and Henry? I don't like it."

"What would you have me do, Spence? It's bad enough we're at risk. I don't want to put my mom in harm's way as well."

"You could come here again."

He'd said it so quickly that she realized he'd already had it planned. It made sense that they try to do this together, but it seemed such an imposition, when he was still trying to heal. Maybe….

"Okay, I get that it might be good for both of us to be with Henry, but this is your private space, Spence. And we've already crowded in on you once…."

"I didn't mind that, JJ, I told you. And I meant it." He remembered how much he'd missed them when they'd gone.

She thought a while. "Okay, what about this? After next week, after Will's gone back to work, maybe you could come and stay with us? That way, if you wanted some time alone, you could still get away to here. You could still have some privacy. Believe me, it's a hard commodity to come by with a four year old in the house."

He considered it. She might be right. He still had some pretty bad days, and nights, and he didn't want to scare either of them.

"All right. Settled. If we haven't got the Replicator by the end of next week, I'll move in with you."

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