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Spencer considers not answering the door. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that he has gone out. Highly unlikely, but not completely impossible. Spencer considers the odds. Then he considers the odds that whoever is on the other side of the door will consider those same odds. The knock comes again. Solid, three raps. Morgan. Hotch has more of a polite edge to his knocks, and Rossi is a bit faster. Prentiss and Garcia don't have that type of force behind their knocks.

Spencer puts his back to the door and thinks. He has to answer. If he doesn't answer, Morgan will just take the fire escape and climb into his window. The problem is that the the others--Hotch, Prentiss, even Garcia--Spencer knows how to calm them, how to make them see at least most of what he wants them to see. Morgan is...Morgan never backs down when he senses something is off.

And Spencer is less on his game than most days. He presses the back of his head to the door, closes his eyes. Then he figures he might as well save some dignity, and opens the door just as Morgan has raised his fist for a third time. Spencer stands back and says, "Hey," like he hasn't been thinking about whether it might be worth it to make Morgan scale his fire escape.

From the look on his face, Morgan is not fooled. "Hey," he says, and tilts his head ever so slightly. "You gonna invite me in?"

Spencer can't help the hesitation before he steps back from the door. He tries, but the instinct to guard his privacy, his space, is a little too strong to dampen entirely. Morgan doesn't say anything, just steps past him. Spencer closes his door and thinks about what he would do if it were one of the others. Thinks, it isn't one of the others. He turns. "Want some coffee?"

"Got anything to put in it, kid?"

Spencer rolls his eyes and goes to brew a pot.


Morgan drinks in silence for a bit. Spencer forces himself not to give into the urge to fidget, to talk just to fill the silence. Finally Morgan says, "I'm glad it wasn't him. Even if you were wrong and-- I'm glad it wasn't him."

Spencer doesn't say anything, can't, because he's actually afraid of what he'll say, of what will come out of his mouth if he approaches the topic of father figures and crime. He's starting to be more aware of the lines between profiler and friend, even if he isn't as comfortable with them as he senses other people are. Morgan says, "You didn't need that."

Spencer's not entirely sure he needed to be sent down the path his dreams had catalyzed, needed to dig up history that was long--and perhaps well--buried. He says, "A man's going to go to prison because a pedophiliac sexual sadist raped and murdered his son. My mother's probably going to have to go on a higher dosage of meds she hates just to calm down for a while. And all I got from it was that my father didn't know how to be a father." Spencer says this all calmly. They are facts; he's good with facts.


Spencer looks at Morgan, hoping, despite himself, that Morgan will have the right words, will know what to say to make it better. Morgan shakes his head a little. "None of us are perfect, kid."

It's the stupidest, most clichè thing Morgan has ever said to him, which makes it ten times worse that Spencer knows it's pretty much the only thing to say. He sips at his coffee. It's going cold, but Spencer can't be bothered to really notice. "Some of us try harder than others."

After a second, Morgan laughs. Spencer looks up at him, completely ready to tell him to get out, but the tenor of the laughter isn't cruel, just a rueful acceptance of Spencer's point. Spencer doesn't mean to join him, but he finds his mouth curling up. Morgan says, "That's it kid, c'mon."

It isn't until Spencer feels his eyes stinging that he realizes Morgan isn't talking about his laughter.


Spencer's chest feels sore when he's finished. He's taken the cups to the sink, is cleaning them, slowly and methodically. He takes a breath and says, "You can probably go now."

His voice stays even. It's an accomplishment. "Yeah, probably," Morgan says, and then walks into Spencer's living area, dropping onto his couch. He's got his feet up on the coffee table before Spencer can utter a protest. He probably wouldn't anyway. Spencer's never really cared much about propriety. The only parts of it his mom ever taught him were weird, and Spencer had learned, at some point, to dismiss some of her more off-the-wall lessons. He thinks about repeating the offer for Morgan to leave, but Morgan heard and Spencer doesn't want to be alone as much as he should, so instead he asks, "What's on?"

"Basketball," Morgan says.

Spencer makes a face but sits anyway. He actually doesn't mind watching sports with Morgan. Morgan will toss out explanations without the condescending, belittling air of most of the male sports fans Spencer has known, and he makes funny comments but doesn't get enraged in a way that sets Spencer on edge. And Morgan doesn't seem to mind when Spencer spouts statistics about the teams and players. The numbers don't even really have any emotional content for Spencer, not the way so many of his do, but he has them inside his head, it seems pointless to simply keep them there.

Tonight, Morgan says, "So, lay it on me. What do you know about the Knicks and the Jazz?"

Spencer ducks his head a little, but he also laughs and lets numbers, as stark in his brain as they were on the page, take over. Morgan interrupts every once in a while with, "For real?" or, "Actually knew that one," but mostly he just lets Spencer talk about things that don't matter, never will.


Spencer falls asleep on his couch, waking to a cautious hand on his knee. He startles all the same and then, seeing Morgan says, "Oh, sorry," and feels...young.

Morgan shakes his head. "I shoulda suggested it earlier. C'mon." Morgan holds out a hand and Spencer slides his own into it, allows Morgan to pull him up. Only once he's on his feet does he think that maybe he should have managed it himself, but it's done, it's over, and like everything else, there's no way for Spencer to go back, to try again, do better.

Morgan gives him a little push. "Pajamas. Brush your teeth while you're at it."

Spencer says, "I've actually been getting myself into bed since I was six."

"Tell it to someone who cares."

Spencer shakes his head, but goes and puts his pajamas on, brushes his teeth, his hair, even washes his face. He expects Morgan to have let himself out by the time he is done and even goes to lock the door behind him, but Morgan is still there, cleaning out the coffee pot. Spencer says, "I can do that in the morning. You should go home, get some sleep."

Morgan laughs, a bare wisp of sound, but Spencer knows Morgan's sounds, even if everything else can be more of a mystery than it should. Morgan says, "I'm not leaving, kid."


"I'm not leaving."

Spencer thinks he should fight, should explain that this is his home, but he doesn't really want to. For one thing, he's exhausted. For another, he feels...safer with Morgan there. Not safe, Spencer doesn't even know what that means, not really, but it's easier to breathe with Morgan next to him and that's enough, that's just enough that he can't take one more inch than Morgan's giving and press the point.

Instead he says. "The couch isn't very comfortable."

Morgan says, "I've endured worse."

Spencer goes to find his extra pillows.


Spencer wakes to sunlight and a note.

Turned your alarm off. Don't worry, I'll take the blame. There's coffee in the kitchen. See you at work.

Spencer wants to be upset, pissed, anything that isn't content. He stretches slowly and pretends not to revel in the feeling of being awake, more so than he has been for weeks. He had dreams last night, but they were his regular dreams--incomprehensible patterns, languages he can speak in the dreams but not when he wakes, the mind's jumble of subconscious cacaphony. He pads into the kitchen and notes that Morgan folded the blankets he used, stacked the pillows. The coffee is still warm, the machine left to heat. Spencer pours himself some and lets the smell wake him up before he ever takes a sip.

He checks his phone, but it's clear--no messages, no texts. Spencer thinks he maybe has time for a shower. He's already late, so why the hell not, really?

He makes his way to the bathroom. When he gets there, there's another note, taped to his shower door. It says, "Go for it, kid."

Spencer laughs and turns the tap to hot.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile