Going to the Zoo
What Have You Done Dr. Reid-Part 2
Spencer picked-up the boy and looked in him right in the eye "So, James, do you want to do something together today?"
The boy shyly shrugged his shoulders and lay against Reid's chest and silently cried. "Shhhh, it's okay, everything will be okay. Do you believe me?"
James nodded yes but still clung to the Dr. as if Spencer was now his whole world.
Spender wracked his brain trying to think of something that might be fun for a five year old. Then he thought about the wonderful Smithsonian Zoo, "Do you want to go to the Zoo? We have a pretty cool one. We can get some lunch and maybe some ice cream. Would you like that?"
James looked up excitedly. It had been a long time since he'd gone to the Zoo and with wide eyes and a smile shook his head yes.
"I just have to make a phone call, okay? You like to read, right?"
James nodded yes. Spencer knew that right then he was going to have to work on James's shyness and his reluctance to talk. But, that would come in time, for now the two just needed to get to know each other. Reid perused his vast collection of books trying to find something appropriate for a five year old. He had a small shelf of books for when Jack, his boss's son and Henry, his best friend JJ's son, came over. He pulled out the first volume of The Boxcar Children and gave it to James.
"Here, have you read this one before?"
James shook his head no. Spencer picked the boy up and put him in the too big but comfortable reading chair and gave the book to James. "You might like this, it's about four kids who live in an old train boxcar out in the woods. They have no Mom and Dad, but they soon find out they have a kindly Grandfather who takes them in and cares for them. The Grandfather moves the car to his house and the children have all kinds of adventures in it. Does this sound good?" Spencer smiled down at James.
The boy smiled back and nodded yes and took the book from Spencer. Spencer ruffled the boy's hair and went back into his room to call Hotch back.
"Hotchner," Again Hotch smiled at the name on his phone. He knew Spencer would call back and he hoped it was going to be good news.
"Well, Austin is working on her psychology dissertation. She got an opportunity to live and work at a small mental health facility in California and doesn't want to expose James to that environment, and frankly I wouldn't want my son to experience it either". Hotch listened intently and knew what it was that Spencer wasn't saying. He knew Spencer's upbringing with a Mother who has paranoid schizophrenia so Hotch understood why it was that the young Dr. wouldn't want that for his child.
"So, you're going to be taking care of the boy?" Hotch asked questioningly.
"Yes, but he's shy, really shy. I know he can talk, but I think he might be having a hard time expressing himself. Austin said she and his teachers were having a hard time keeping him engaged. Austin thinks he might have inherited my intelligence, but she hasn't tested him yet. I want to do that, but not until I've established a relationship and some measure of trust with him". Reid smiled inwardly when he said, "He wants to go to the Zoo".
The last statement caught Hotch off guard for a second and before he knew it he asked, "Would you like Jack and I to go with you?"
Reid didn't even realize that he was holding his breath when he let it out in a whoosh, "Thanks Hotch that would be great. I just, I want to do this right and I don't know what I'm doing".
Hotch smiled to himself and let out a little chuckle, "When Jack was born I said much the same thing to Gideon. I told him I was terrified and I didn't know what I was doing. Half the time I still don't, but all we can do is be there for them and guide them the best way we can. Why don't we meet you there in about an hour?"
"Sounds good Aaron and thank you," Reid breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't alone and that helped immensely.
"Spencer, it's okay. It's not easy being a single dad, trust me, but you have friends that will be more than willing to help, if you let us. See you in about an hour". Hotch hung up and went to get Jack ready so they could meet Reid at the Zoo.
Spencer went into his kitchen and grabbed some water bottles for him and James. He looked around in his fridge and cupboards to see if he could find something for snacks. Luckily he had a bag of baby carrots, some granola bars and a bag of almonds. Just then it occurred to Spencer that James might have some kind of food allergy so he went and called Austin back to ask her about it.
"Hey Austin, I just wanted to find out if James has any food allergies or anything I should know about medically?"
"Oh I forgot to tell you, in the blue suitcase, the zippered front there is a packet of medical information. He doesn't have any food allergies. He likes just about everything. Not too picky of an eater, thank god. But, he does have severe allergic reactions to morphine".
"Thanks Austin. And be careful. Call us when you get there so we know you're safe, okay?"
Austin smiled "Okay I will. If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to call. If I can't get to you right away leave a message and I will call right back. And Spencer, again I really can't thank you enough".
"Austin, I want to do this, I think, I think I need too. Bye Austin, and be careful". They hung up with each other and Reid continued on with what he was doing. He realized right away one of the first things he was going to have to learn to do was cook. He lived on quick frozen entrees or take-out. He knew it was okay for him alone, but now he had a growing boy to think about. He set that thought aside for the time being and concentrated on getting what snacks he could put together. Reid grabbed his satchel and started to put the food and water in it when his hand brushed the book, The Narrative of John Smith. Reid moved over to the couch and sat down with the book in his hand. He opened it up to read the quote by Thomas Merton that Maeve had written to him. He was trying to hold back his emotions because he didn't want to cry, not today.
James looked up from his book and saw Reid holding the book, he got up and sat beside Reid, "Daddy, are you okay?" Reid looked down and saw his little boy looking at him with concern and a little fear in his eyes.
"I'm just a little sad right now James".
"Why? Is it because of me? Because mama kept me a secret?"
Reid set the book on the end table by the couch, pulled James into his lap and sat back. "No James I'm not sad about that. I'm glad she told me, that she trusts me enough to take care of you. No, I'm sad because I lost someone I cared about very much and sometimes when I see something that reminds me of her it hurts".
James looked in his dad's eyes and he whispered a question, "Did she die? My Grandma died and it makes me sad sometimes".
Reid pulled the little boy closer in his arms, "Yes James, she died and I miss her everyday".
James reached up his hands and put them on either side of Spencer's face and pulled him closer. The little boy placed a kiss on Spencer's cheek then hugged him tight. "That's what mommy does when I'm sad and it sometimes makes me feel better. Do you feel better Daddy?"
Reid smiled wide and looked at his son, wise beyond his years and said, "Yes James that did make me feel better". Reid cleared his throat and tucked the memory of this tender moment away. No matter what happened in the future he knew he would always have this moment and it made him smile.
Reid looked down and noticed that James had taken off his shoes, "Okay you, let's get your shoes back on. Why'd you take them off?"
"Not 'sposed to have shoes on the furnitur. That's what mommy always says". Reid laughed as he helped his son to get the shoes back on.
"Okay, let's get out of here. Were meeting some friends of mine, Aaron Hotchner, he's my boss and he has a little boy also. He's older, but he's really nice. Will that be okay?"
James looked up and nodded his head yes. James was a little nervous, but he was slowly beginning to trust this new man in his life.
They made it to the metro station quickly and took the redline train and stopped at the Cleveland Park stop. The walk to the Smithsonian National Zoo was short, but Reid picked-up James he had decided he wanted to carry him. James put his arms around Reid and lay his head on his dad's shoulder and held on tightly.
When they got to the entrance Reid saw Hotch and Jack waiting for them at a small table. Hotch looked up and graced Reid with one of his rare warm smiles. Watching the young Dr. who was carrying the boy warmed Hotch's heart. After all the things that Spencer Reid had gone through in the last few years Hotch was glad that something good was finally coming into his life. He was determined to help Reid in any way that he could. This simple act of going to the Zoo and helping Reid find his footing as a father was the least he could do for the young man.
"Morning Hotch, Jack".
"Uncle Spencer," Jack ran up and greeted the man quite enthusiastically.
Reid sat James on one of the tables benches and introduced the boy to his boss, "Hotch, Jack, this is James, my son". Reid was practically beaming with pride when he introduced the boy.
Hotch sat back down in front of James and held out his hand, "Hello James, my name is Aaron". The boy shook his hand.
"If your name is Aaron, why does Daddy call you Hotch?"
Hotch laughed and looked up to Reid, shook his head slightly and looked back down at the boy, "Well, my full name is Aaron Hotchner. Hotch is kind of a nickname and the people I work with call me by my nickname".
James looked at him with bright wide eyes, "Okay".
Jack had moved over to stand next to his dad, "Hi James, I'm Jack Hotchner". He held out his hand and they shook also.
"Do they call you Hotch too?"
Both adults laughed, but Reid was secretly proud that James had made that connection.
"No, I'm just Jack. Wanna go see the Panda's? They're really cool. Dad?" Jack turned to look at Hotch with a questioning look.
"Okay, but wait for us," Jack nodded as he took James's hand and walked a short distance away and waited for the two men to follow.
Hotch got up and handed Reid a coffee cup, "Here, I think you maybe in desperate need of this".
Reid breathed a small sigh of relief and thanked his boss for being so thoughtful. They quickly made their way over to the two boys and walked over to the Panda exhibit.
The two men had their attention on the boys and heard the conversation they were having.
"Where's your mommy Jack? Did she have to leave like my mommy?" James looked at the older boy with a very serious expression on his face. Reid went to intervene, but Hotch stopped him, he wanted to see what Jack would say.
Jack bent down to look James in the face and said, "No, she died, but my Dad and I talk to her every night".
"Like my daddy's friend?" Hotch looked over at Reid surprised.
Reid lowered his voice, "I was ah," He cleared his throat and schooled his emotions, "Getting some snacks ready. Maeve's book…I ah, I had a moment and James asked if I was sad. So I told him a little bit about Maeve, that she died and it made me sad".
Hotch just put his hand on Reid's shoulder, giving him some comfort.
Reid smiled, "You know what he did Hotch?"
"What?" The older man asked curiously.
"He reached up kissed my cheek and hugged me. He said, 'that's what mommy does when I'm sad and it sometimes makes me feel better', then he asked me if it worked". Reid looked at Hotch, eyes wet with unshed tears.
"What did you tell him?"
"The truth, that it did. I have never had this feeling Hotch and I don't want to lose it. I've only known him," Reid looked down at his watch, "For about four hours, but I never want to lose this feeling. God, I don't even know what I'm saying".
"You don't have to explain it to me Spencer. When I held Jack for the first time I felt the same. Like all you want to do is love them forever and never let them go. It's only natural, what you're feeling, and Reid," Hotch looked at the young Dr. with a playful expression on his face.
"For godsakes, once in your life don't analyze it, don't run statistics in your head and don't try to read a million books to figure it out, just feel it and believe me, you'll know what to do".
Reid looked sheepishly at his boss because those vary things were going through his mind right at that moment.
"I guess I do tend to over think things". Just then he heard crying and the two men looked over and saw that James was lying on the ground.
Reid rushed over and panic started to set in, but he knew he needed to be calm to find out what happened.
"Hey, hey buddy what happened?" James held his arms out and Reid picked him up and sat down on the ground with the boy on his lap. "James, can you tell me what happened?"
"I fell down," He looked at his dad with fat tears rolling down his face.
"Oh, is that all?" Reid looked at James with a smile on his face. "Did you hurt the ground more than it hurt you?"
James stopped crying and looked-up confused and shook his head no.
"No? Then why all the crying?" Reid smoothed back the boy's too long hair.
"I got a owie," Confusion was playing all over the boys face. Usually his mom babied him, but not his dad.
"Well, let's see you're owie, okay?" Reid looked James over and saw the small tear in his parts and a scraped knee.
"Ohh, did we scrape our knee there?" James wildly nodded his head yes, long hair flopping all over the place.
"Well, let's see what we can do about that okay?" Reid pulled a bottle of water out of his satchel with some tissue and helped James clean up his wound, then gave James the bottle and had him drink some. During this small distraction Reid pulled a band-aid out, he kept a few handy for when he got clumsy at work, and hid it in his hand.
"Oh no, what do we have here?" Reid reached up behind James ear and made the band-aid 'magically' appear. James smiled hugely and laughed. Reid also smiled down at his son while he applied the first aid. He then set James back-up on his feet then got-up himself. "Feel Better?" James smiled and shook his head yes.
He took James's hand and the group decided to move on from the Panda exhibit and leisurely started to walk on to a new destination.
Hotch had been close by just in case Reid needed any help but after watching the pair he knew that he was not needed.
"Reid," Hotch said to get the younger man's attention.
"I don't think you have anything to worry about". Hotch knew right then and there that Spencer Reid was going to make a wonderful father. He saw how Spencer was honest and gentle with the boy and in his heart he knew there was no need to worry.
"What do you mean?"
Hotch just smiled and decided not to answer the young genius.
They had an amazing day at the zoo, with James coming out of his shell a little bit and Jack finding a new friend. They had lunch at a nearby restaurant and as promised the aforementioned ice cream. By the time 6:00 rolled around both boys were tired and Hotch offered Reid and James a ride home.
After giving James a bath and reading to him from The Narrative of John Smith the boy started to fall asleep. Just then Reid's phone rang. He looked down at the phone and saw that it was Austin calling.
"Hi, how's your trip going so far?"
"Good, I stopped for the night. Is he asleep or can I talk to him?" She asked anxiously.
"Not quite asleep, I'll get him." Reid went into his room and woke-up the boy.
"James, buddy, mommy's on the phone". James immediately sat up and took the phone.
"Hi mommy," He said excitedly but with a yawn in this voice. He then proceeded to tell her all about his first day with his dad. He talked about the zoo, his new friend Jack and Jack's dad Hotch. He tried explaining about the nickname, but didn't quite do a good job. Austin laughed and after a couple of more minutes told him she wanted to speak to Spencer.
"Hey, sounds like you two had fun".
"Yeah, we did. Austin," He took a moment to gather his thoughts before he spoke again, "I know this didn't happen the way either of us would've liked it too, but, and I really mean this, I'm glad he's here. I'll take good care of him, I promise".
"Oh Spencer, I know you will". They talked for a few more minutes and said their goodbyes. Since Spencer didn't have a room set-up for the boy they were going to share his bed for the time being. He went back and checked on his son and saw that he had fallen asleep. He tucked the boy in and still was amazed at the depth of love he already felt for James.
"Goodnight James". He said as he bent down to kiss the boy's forehead.
"'Night daddy". The boy said sleepily.
Monday came too soon and Spencer was in the coffee nook when Hotch approached, "How'd the rest of Sunday go?"
"Too fast. Thank you for Jessica's number, she jumped at the chance to help out. She's amazing, by the way. I know I have to get him into school and there's a million things I have to do, but," Spencer didn't know how to express his feelings right at that moment.
"I know how you feel, it's okay just take it one day at a time".
Reid cocked his brow and looked at his boss "Hotch, that is the most cliché thing you've ever said to me, do you know that the word cliché is French for "to stereotype…"
Hotch put a hand on Reid's shoulder and smiled, "Some things will never change". He then walked away to go to his office to catch-up on paperwork.
Reid turned and walked back to his desk with his coffee in his hand and sat down to start his research on schools in the DC area when he heard Morgan next to him.
"So pretty boy, what put a spring in your step this Monday morning?"
Reid looked over at his partner and thought about what he wanted to say and realized he wanted to tell his best friend all about James, "Well, this weekend I found out I'm a dad". He turned back to his paperwork wondering just how long it would take for Morgan to process that bombshell.
Not long apparently, "You wanna run that by me again boy genius?" Morgan looked at Reid with the most confused look on his face.
Reid smiled and told Morgan all about his weekend. He even showed his partner a picture Hotch had taken of them at the zoo and beamed proudly. Hotch was looking down from outside his office at the interaction and thought, Reid will do just fine.