Chapter 9

Reid couldn't wait for his Sunday afternoon 'appointment' with Maeve. It had become something of a lifeline for him. Until he'd had this relationship, he hadn't realized quite what it was like to live in one. To have a life that wasn't solely devoted to work, or the amassing of knowledge and academic degrees. Despite the occasional get together with his BAU colleagues, most of Reid's free time was spent alone, reading, painting, playing his keyboard. These aspects of him, the outside interests, weren't really things he shared with the others. He wasn't sure anyone else even knew that he painted, or played music. It wasn't something that came up in casual conversation, and he wasn't disposed to share it. Until Maeve. He'd told her everything, and she'd heard him. Really heard him.

Unlike almost everyone else in Reid's life, Maeve not only listened to what the others called his "ramblings", but she actually welcomed them. She was fascinated by him. By how the sum total of all that his remarkable mind had absorbed and processed throughout his life was made present in his personality. Initially, the academic in her thought of Reid as an interesting study subject. But, gradually, she'd come to cherish him, and who he was, right down to the quirks. As much as Reid was growing in and through the relationship, so was Maeve.

It was remarkable, he thought, how they'd started out their communication with purely professional discussion. She, about her interest in his published work. And he, about his need to resolve the medical issue that was plaguing his life. He couldn't even really recall how or when the conversations became more personal. When they'd each decided to trust the other with snippets of their lives. How they'd made that decision based solely on the quality of a voice, and a prior exchange in conversation. Reid realized that he'd done with Maeve exactly what he would have counseled a victim against doing. And yet, he reflected, I think it saved my life. Even though I didn't realize it needed saving.

The things that brought pleasure to his life continued to do so. But the sharing about those things gave his life meaning. For so many years he'd corresponded with his mother, telling her about his work, his colleagues, his current reading and study. But it was simply that, telling, without knowing how she might be receiving it. He couldn't know whether she was having a good day…a lucid day….or a bad day, when she opened his letter. It wasn't sharing. There was no response. Maeve changed all of that.

He began to see his life through another's eyes. Maeve was interested in everything about him. What he thought, what he hoped. In fact, it was she who coaxed the 'hope' from him. Before Maeve, he'd tended to live in the moment, or to visit the past. Planning for the future had never proven a worthwhile enterprise for him. Any time he'd done so, he'd been disappointed. And so he'd abandoned that aspect of his life. But Maeve changed that. Immediately upon ending their weekly phone call, he became anxious for the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that. And where all of it might, one day, lead. His life had become divided into two: the time before Maeve, and the time that was filled by her presence, however distant.

It had taken him longer to share about some things that he'd always kept private. His relationships with others fell into that category. His great friendships with Morgan, and Emily. His special relationship, and deep friendship with JJ. His love of Henry, his growing dislike of Will. And now, his great concern for Will's wife and son.

"I don't know what to do, Maeve. I feel like they need help, but I don't know how to help them. This weekend, he made Henry call me. I'm betting JJ refused. But he got Henry to call me, and got Henry to tell me that he wanted to go to the zoo with his father instead of me. How could he do that? How could he manipulate his own son like that, Maeve?"

She could hear Reid getting angry all over again as he told the story.

He continued to vent. "Henry probably doesn't realize it. I hope to God that he doesn't. But I think JJ does. I mean, she's a profiler, she's got to see his behavior for what it is."

Maeve's voice was always gentle. This time, it was also the voice of experience.

"Sometimes, when we're too close to something, especially something big, we can't make it out, can we? We need to step back, to see it from a distance, to gain some perspective."

That gave him pause. "So you think she can't see it?"

"Spencer, sometimes we can be so busy surviving from minute to minute that we can't take the time to step back."

He realized she wasn't just talking about JJ anymore. Taking a moment to be careful about his phrasing, he responded.

"But you did, didn't you? Finally? You realized."

"I realized how controlling Bobby was being, yes. But not until after I took a good look in the mirror one day. I barely knew the person looking back at me. I had different clothes, different hair, even different makeup. All of them were changes that I'd made to please him. And when I saw how much I'd changed externally, I paid attention to my behavior. And that had changed, too. I hadn't seen my friends in weeks, I'd even turned down getting involved in a new study at the lab, so I could spend more time with him. He always complained that I didn't have enough time for him."

"So, what did you do?" He was beginning to wonder which 'Maeve' he'd met.

"I had to think, long and hard. I prayed. The relationship had become so much a part of my identity that I was afraid to take the next step. I was no longer just 'Maeve' but half of 'Maeve and Bobby'. Changing that would change so much of my life, the life I'd gotten used to."

"But you did."

He couldn't see her gentle smile and nod over the phone. "I did. One sleepless night I got up, thinking to at least get some work done. But I was drawn to the window by the moonlight. It was so bright. And I ended up sitting there, looking out at the moon and the stars. The sky was so big, and I was so small….."

Hearing those words, Reid wished he could reach through the phone to her, to put his arm around her. He'd never felt comfortable initiating physical contact, and especially not with a woman. But he felt he could do it with Maeve. He wanted to do it with Maeve. Even in her telling of this story so much later, she sounded in need of comfort.

She was continuing. "….and somehow it felt like the problems in my life were small as well. Approachable, manageable, you know? Things that could be solved. Things I could change. To this day, I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the next morning, I told Bobby that I wanted time alone. That I wanted him to move out for a while."

Reid was quiet, processing. "How did he react?"

"You know that I was already getting messages from the stalker. Part of me wondered if it was Bobby, and his way of making me more dependent on him. He immediately went to that. Told me he needed to be there, to protect me. I almost gave in. But, in the end, I'd caught a glimpse of who I used to be, and I wanted to be that 'me' again. So I insisted. And, even though he wasn't happy about it, he left. And I started to find 'me' again."

Answering the question of which' Maeve' Reid had come to fall in love with. Even if he hadn't yet processed that he had fallen in love. That kind of thing didn't happen to Spencer Reid.

Reid had heard a lot of this before. But now, with his concern about JJ and Henry, it carried new meaning. And Maeve's next response would be crucial.

"Maeve, when you told him to leave, when you said you wanted to be away from him…did he threaten you? In any way? Was he violent? Did you feel unsafe?"

The idea of Maeve being in such a situation sickened Reid, but he also knew that it was in her past. For JJ, it could very well be imminent.

She knew what he was thinking about. Although he'd shared about JJ reluctantly, he had, eventually, shared.

"He was angry, and he argued with me. But he didn't try to hurt me. That wasn't how he operated. It was more that he was exerting control through his words, and taking advantage of situations."

Reid was relieved. Bobby sounded of a kind with Will. But there were never guarantees. Will was, after all, a cop, trained in combat and lethally armed. But so was JJ.

"So, how do I make her see?"

She waited, knowing he wouldn't like what she had to say next. "I'm not sure you can, Spencer. I had to see for myself, and she probably does as well."

"Maeve, I don't know that I can wait for that. I couldn't have waited for you either, if we'd known each other then."

She smiled, grateful for his chivalry, even coming so long after the events.

"Then I will hope and pray that you will find a way, Spencer. Or that she will somehow come to realize it. For her sake, and for Henry's." And yours.

He smiled at that. "Thank you, Maeve."

Aware that their call was coming to an end, the smile on Reid's face became rueful. "Same time next week?" Already beginning to long for it.

"Of course, Spencer. It's the one thing I look forward to. Please be careful, if you speak to JJ. Please be careful of her husband. There is so much danger out there, Spencer. I don't want to lose you."

"You won't lose me, Maeve."

"Please make sure that's true. Goodbye, Spencer. Love you."

He froze. Tried to open and close his mouth, tried to respond. But he couldn't. Long after the connection was broken, after he'd headed off in the wrong direction and then remembered which was the way home, the words rang in his head. "Love you."

Neither of them had ever spoken it before. And now Maeve had. And he hadn't responded.

It was an internal conversation he'd avoided up until now. Something had been moving inside him, but he hadn't acknowledged what it might be. Maeve's words, said so casually at the end of a conversation, forced him to confront it. "Love you", she'd said. And those words connected with that process that was moving inside him. "I love you, too." Putting a name to the movement inside. Love. Wishing he'd said it to her. Praying he'd be brave enough to do so, if given another chance.

Reid realized he was changing in ways that were both wonderful and bewildering at the same time. In ways that carried inherent risk. Trusting, and loving, opened one up to the possibility of loss. Loving someone, he knew, required great courage. His relationship with Maeve was inspiring such courage.

Thinking about it again that evening, and every evening afterwards, he would remember turning in the wrong direction as he left the phone booth. But maybe I didn't. Maybe she is the way home.

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