"Hello?" Ryder says groggily into the phone after answering it, not even bothering to open her eyes.
"I'm sorry, I woke you," Spencer whispers. He knows it's a lot later at home than in Nevada but Morgan had all but dialed the phone for him, knowing Spencer needed to talk to her.
"No, it's fine. Is everything okay?" Ryder asks and sits up, more awake after hearing the odd tone in Spencer's voice.
"Um," Spencer hesitates before opening his mouth again to say everything was okay but Ryder beats him to it.
"Don't lie to me, Spence."
"Bad dream," He mumbles and he looks up at the stars.
"I'm glad you called me," Ryder tells him as she leans against her pillows, getting in a more comfortable position. "Do you want to tell me about it?"
Spencer shakes his head before realizing Ryder can't see him and speaks again. "No, I just needed to hear your voice."
"I'm here," She said, knowing this case was most likely getting to him because his work was the only topic he tried to steer clear of when he talked to her, only giving her the few details he had to. "You know you can tell me anything."
"You don't have to, just know that I will listen whenever you need me too. And I don't know what's happening but I have no doubt that you can figure it out and save whoever needs saving."
Feeling a small smile pull at his lips, Spencer nods his head and lets out a breath. "Thank you, I needed to hear that," He already feels better from just talking to her.
"I'll always be here, Spence," Ryder assures him and Spencer can feel his heart flutter at her words. "I love you."
"I love you," Spencer repeats, wishing he could be back home with her and wrap her in his arms. "I'm okay, I'll let you get back to sleep."
"Yeah," Spencer says with another nod. "Goodnight, Ryder, I love you."
"I love you too, Spence." Ryder says before the couple hang up their phones.
Sighing with one last look up at the sky, Spencer walks back into the Bridges' house.
"You okay?" Morgan asks his friend from where he sits in one of the chairs next to the couch.
"Yeah," Spencer nods and retakes his place on the couch, closing his eyes before falling into a dreamless sleep.
"It's only for a few more days, I promise."
"Are you sure you're okay, Spence?" Ryder questions her boyfriend, concerned by his phone call.
"Yeah, I'm just gonna stay a few days with my mom, you know I haven't seen her in a long time." Spencer says, guilt building in his gut. He hates lying to her.
"I understand if there's something you don't want to tell me, Spencer, but please don't lie to me." She could hear it in his voice, she always could when he was lying to her. She got it, she did, and she doesn't think she has to right to make him tell her everything but she hates when he thought he couldn't.
"Those dreams I've been having lately," Spencer starts, unable to keep up the lie. "It just, they brought up some old memories. I'm okay, I just need to figure a few things out."
"Okay, take all the time you need." Ryder nods, crossing her free arm over her chest. "I can even come down there if you want."
"I couldn't ask you to do that. I'm okay, promise." He'd be lying if he said having her by his side would make this easier but at the same time it'd be harder. It was easier all around if she stays home.
"Just call me, okay? And if you change your mind, I'm here."
"Have I told you how much I love you lately?" Spencer asks with a smile.
"Maybe," Ryder says slowly, her lips pulling up into a smile. "But there's no limit on how many times you can say it."
"Well, I love you and I will call you, don't worry."
"You make it hard not to." She tells him. Ryder's always worried for him, every time he walks out the door, especially when he goes off on a case. "I love you."
"I got to go, but I'll call you soon, I love you."
"Love you too."
The next few days are difficult for Spencer, with seeing his father again, accusing him of crimes he didn't commit and secrets of the past coming to light. He'd called Ryder like he promised until he got so caught up in the case he forgot until Morgan suggested it to him, knowing the young women would be able to talk some sense into Reid.
He tried his best to open up to her but it was still hard for him, to which she understood, doing her best with what she was given. In the end, everything worked out for the most part, leaving Spencer, Morgan, and Rossi to fly home with the news that JJ had gone into labor.
Ryder had met them when they landed, immediately wrapping her arms around Spencer in a hug before they go to the hospital together to see JJ and her new son. He was one of the cutest babies Ryder had ever seen and she couldn't wipe the smile off her face, especial when JJ had asked if she wanted to hold him.
After saying there goodbyes, Ryder and Spencer - the latter gaining the title of godfather - went home. Spencer was exhausted and almost fell asleep on the way home, collapsing on Ryder's bed as soon as they arrived.
It was still early so Ryder made them dinner in case he woke up, passing the time by showering while the food was in the oven. Stepping out, Ryder wraps a towel around herself when she hears footsteps in the hall, alerting her to the fact Spencer had woken up, leaving her to quickly dress in a T-shirt and sleep shorts before joining him in the kitchen.
"Good evening," She greets him with a smile, her arms going around his waist from behind, her chin resting on his back. "You feeling okay?"
"Better now," Spencer answers, turning in her arms to face her, bending down to place a soft kiss on her lips. "Something smells good."
"That would my famous lasagna." She informs him before furrowing her brows. "Or my shampoo."
"I think it's the food," Spencer says with a small laugh. "Although your shampoo does smell nice too."
"It does, doesn't it?" Ryder mumbles and stands on her tiptoes to give Spencer a kiss, the couple being pulled apart by the beep of the timer. "Hope you're hungry."
"Starving," Spencer responds as he moves to help her with the food, making them both drinks before they sit down to eat. "My mom want's to meet you."
"Really?" Ryder asks with a smile. "You told her about me?"
"Of course I did," He nods, smiling back at her. "She was apprehensive about it at first but after I told her how great you were, she seemed excited."
"Well, I would love to meet her." Spencer had told Ryder all about his mother, about her schizophrenia and everything. "Whenever you're ready."
"Yeah," Spencer nods, giving Ryder's hand a gentle squeeze before turning back to his food.
"I was talking to Emily earlier," Ryder starts as the couple get ready for bed. "She said I should come to the teams next night out."
"Oh yeah?" Spencer questions, crawling over the bed to sit behind her, his chin resting on her shoulder. "Sounds good."
"You think so?" She asks with a smile, turning her head to catch Spencer's eyes.
"Know so," He answers with a quick kiss before he moves to his side of the bed.
Smiling to herself, Ryder turns and climbs under the covers and slide over to Spencer, resting her head on his chest before falling into a peaceful sleep.
"What?" Ryder questions her brother, noticing his stare. "Is there something on my face? If there is you better tell me."
"No, there's nothing on your face." He chuckles. "You just seem happy."
"I am," Ryder nods. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"No reason," Tommy shakes his head, happy that his sister is doing well. He had been worried when he shipped out again, he was always worried about his baby sister and always would be but she was doing well for herself and he was happy for her. "I love you."
"I love you too, Tommy, but why are you saying that?" She asks, worry bubbling up in her gut. "Is something wrong?"
"No," He scoffs. "Can't I just let my sister know I care about her without an ulterior motive?"
"No, of course, you can, I'm sorry, I just worry." She tells him with a laugh, her hands cold from her loose grip on the cup of water in front of her.
"Yeah, I feel like mom somehow passed that down onto us despite the fact that we aren't actually related." Tommy chuckles, thinking back to how protective their mother was.
"She probably did," Ryder agrees with her own laugh. "I miss this."
"Yeah, me too. But I'm home now, should be for a little while, so hopefully we can stop missing this."
"I love you, big brother." Ryder smiles over at him. "You ready for tomorrow?"
"I'm never ready for that day." Tommy says, the smiles gone from both the siblings' faces now. "But we'll be okay."
"I'm just glad you're here." Ryder sighs, dreading the next day. The anniversary of their mother's death. It wasn't easier for either of them but Ryder always imagined it was harder for Tommy. Eleanor had raised him since he was a baby, she was the only mother he ever knew. It was the same with Ryder, the older woman was the only true parent she had ever had but she didn't know her nearly as long as Tommy and she felt selfish thinking it was any harder for her than it was for him.
"I wouldn't miss it." A silence falls after Tommy's words but it only lasts a moment. "Talk about a shift in mood."
Chuckling, Ryder shakes her head as she tries to get rid of the negative thoughts. "You coming for dinner tonight?"
"Definitely. Is Spencer around?"
"No, he's away on a case." Once again Ryder has to remind herself that Spencer is away saving people. She has to understand that but she wants him there so badly right now, he always makes things easier to deal with. But at least Tommy was there and Steve would always be there for her so she wasn't alone.
"I can stay over if you want." He offers and Ryder nods, not wanting to be alone.
"Alright, enough of this, let's go for a walk." Tommy puts on a smile, standing and offering his hand to Ryder, pulling her from her seat before the two made their leave.
"How long have you been up?"
"I don't know, a while." Ryder shrugs at her bothers question, her eyes watch her cellphone as she twirls it between her fingers.
"Do me a favor, sis," Tommy says, catching Ryder's eyes when she finally looks up at him. "Call him."
"No, I'm sure he's busy." She shakes her head, eyes going back down to her phone.
"And I'm sure he won't mind," Tommy whispers while leaning over the back of the couch. "Call him, or I will."
"Okay, fine." Ryder gives in, pushing her brother away before turning back to her phone, dialing Spencer's number.
"Hey," Her boyfriend's voice greets through the phone after a few rings, Spencer having excused himself from the team to take her call.
"I'm sorry, if you're busy you can go." Ryder tells him, not wanting to be a bother despite all the times he had told her she wasn't and never would be.
"No, no, it's fine. Is something wrong?" Spencer asks, worry seeping into his voice.
"I-I just needed to hear your voice." She whispers to him, turning to look into the kitchen, her brother nowhere in sight.
"Ry, is everything okay?" Spencer pushes, sensing something off with her behavior.
Sighing, Ryder uses the hand not holding the phone to her ear to play with the blanket thrown over her lap. "Today is the anniversary of my mother's death." She forces the words out, closing her eyes as she does. "And I know it's been years but it's never any easier, you know? I mean she was the first person to ever treat me like I was family and I just miss her so much."
"Of course it's not any easier, she was your mother. Damn it, I should be there." Spencer adds more to himself than to Ryder, beating himself up over the fact that he wasn't there for her.
"No, it's okay, you're working and Tommy is here. I just knew talking to you would make me feel better."
"We should be done soon, I'll be back as soon as I can, promise." Spencer says with a glance towards his team.
"Thanks, Spence. I'll be okay, don't rush. I love you."
"Call me if you need anything, okay? Whenever." Spencer catches Morgan's eye, the older man waving him over when he did. "I got to go, I love you."
"Love you, see you soon." Ryder lets out a sigh after hanging up and stands from the couch. She returns to her room to get dressed for her day.
"You ready to go?" Tommy asks his sister once she emerges from her room a few minutes later.
"Yeah," She mumbles with a nod, tightening her coat as they walk to the front door and out of her apartment.
Driving them to a local flower shop, the siblings pick up a bouquet of peonies, their mother's favorite flower, before driving the rest of the way to the cemetery. The weather doesn't seem fitting for the day, Ryder thinks, the sun is shining bright and there isn't a cloud in sight. The cold weather seems to be the only right thing.
"I was such a bitch to her when we first met." Ryder states as she looks down at the tombstone in front of her, feeling her brother's presence from where he stands beside her.
"You weren't that bad and she understood." Tommy assures her, his hands shoved deep into his pockets as the wind blew on them.
"I was horrible, to you and her," The younger woman shakes her head, watching the flower peddles shift in the breeze.
"She never held anything against you, you know that. She loved you." Tommy tears his eyes away from his mother's grave and lets them rest on his sister, seeing her head hanging low. "C'mon, you know how mom was with this stuff, she hated it when we were sad."
"Yeah, she did, didn't she?" Ryder feels her lips turn up and lets out a small laugh. "I remember once I had had a bad day at school, I locked myself in my room, refused to come out, she showed up outside my door with so much junk food. We ate until we were sick."
"She was good like that." Tommy nods, remembering all the times his mother cheered him up, especially after his father died. He can't remember ever seeing her sad even though he knew she was, she hid it in order to comfort him. She always put her them before herself.
"I just wish we had more time with her," Ryder mumbles, leaning into her brother's side when he puts an arm over her shoulders.
"Me too," He agrees with a nod, eyes glued to his mothers name carved into the tomb stone. "Me too."
"Everything okay? You've been acting weird since you took that phone call." Derek asks his friend as he takes the seat across from him on the jet.
"Yeah, just...ready to get home." Spencer answers, the book in his hand going unread.
"Is she okay?" Morgan takes an educated guess on what's bothering the young man.
"Ryder?" Reid asks, earning a small nod from Derek. "I think so." He says, unsure of his answer. "She called me, I knew something was wrong. You know? She sounded upset. Apparently, today is the anniversary of her mother's death."
"Oh, man," Morgan sighs, leaning back in his seat. "That's tough."
"Yeah, I just wanted to be there for her but I couldn't," Bitterness seeps into Spencer's words. He loves his job but hates it when it gets in the way of him helping the ones he loves.
"Don't do that man, there's nothing you could've done, but you can go to her and be there for her now." Derek tells him, hating the thought of Spencer beating himself up over something he couldn't prevent.
"I guess you're right," Reid sighs, closing the book and setting it in his lap. "Doesn't make me feel any better."
"Yeah, not much will."
"She told me the other day that Emily invited her to the next time the team went out." Spencer changes the subject, knowing there was nothing else he could do until they land.
"Great idea, we all want to get to know her better." Morgan agrees, wanting to better know the young woman who stole his best friend's heart. "I think we earned that much, you keeping her from us for almost a year." He jokes.
"Yeah," Spencer smiles. "It'll have been a year last month." A whole year together and he still gets nervous around her like they'd just met and he only loves her more and more each day.
"Congratulations," Derek tells his friend with a smile, happy for him. It isn't common to find what he has and even less to keep it, especially with this job. "I'm ready to be an uncle whenever, by the way."
Uh-" Spencer stutters, blinking as he processes Derek's words. He had thought about kids with Ryder, of course, he had and he wants them one day but hearing the words from someone else just makes it even more real. "I, uh-"
"Relax Reid, I was only joking." Morgan chuckles, amused by the shocked look on Spencer's face. "Partly." He adds with another quiet laugh.
Once the jet lands, Spencer wastes no time in rushing out of the office and to Ryder's apartment, using his key to let himself in. His eyes immediately scan the room, seeing Tommy sat on the couch. The younger man holds a finger to his lips before pointing to the part of the couch Spencer can't see.
"She tried waiting up, but..." Tommy trails off once Spencer is close enough to hear his quieted voice, looking down at his sleeping sister on the couch next to him.
"She didn't tell me." Reid says as he crouches down in front of Ryder, lightly pushing some of her dark hair from her face.
"I'm not surprised. Ry's never been one to talk about stuff like that." Tommy knows how much his sister doesn't like talking about her past. "You can take it from here?"
"Yeah, thank you." Spencer nods to Tommy and slowly stands from the couch, returning to the guest room where he was staying for the night. "Hey, love." Spencer greets his girlfriend with a smile when he notices her eyes blinking open.
"Spence?" She mumbles sleepily, her voice groggy as she rubs her eyes.
"It's me. Let's get you to bed." Helping her up, Spencer guides Ryder down the hall and to her room where she wraps her arms around him in a tight embrace. "I'm sorry I couldn't be here."
"It's okay, you didn't know." She assures him, pulling away from the hug to kiss him. "You're here now, that's what matters."
"You want to get some sleep?"
"Yes, please," Ryder answers, taking Spencer's hand and pulling him over to the bed, climbing in and giving him the chance to change before he joins her, wrapping her in his arms. "I love you."
"I love you," Spencer repeats, placing a kiss on her head.
"Anyone up for drinks?" Emily asks the team while everyone prepares to head out for the night.
"Sounds good," Agent Todd agrees as she comes down from her office.
"Count me in. Reid, is Ryder busy?" Morgan asks his friend, remembering the conversation they had on the jet a few days before.
"Shouldn't be," He responds, pulling out his phone to check in on her.
"Who?" Todd questions the group, looking between them for an answer.
"Spencer's girlfriend," Morgan says in a teasing voice, laughing when he sees Spencer roll his eyes and shake his head. Of course, Derek had teased him relentlessly sense he'd met Ryder so he was mostly used to it by now, deciding it was just best to ignore him when he did.
"I didn't know you had a girlfriend." The stand-in agent says in surprise, turning her attention to Reid while he looks at his phone, a pink tint rising in his cheeks with the new attention.
"Yeah, for a year now, was it?" Emily asks rhetorically, tilting her head to the side as she also looks to Spencer. "But we've only known for a few months."
"Yeah, he kept her from us." Morgan continues with narrowed eyes, not missing Todd's confused face.
"I can't imagine why," Todd mumbles sarcastically with a chuckle.
"Can't imagine why what?" David questions while joining the group, only catching the tail end of their conversation.
"Talking about Ryder," Emily informs the older man, collecting the last of her things as she did.
"Oh," Rossi hums in understanding. "Yeah, who knew Reid was so sneaky."
"Seriously?" Spencer whispers to himself, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "She's free but I'm second-guessing my decision to go now."
"No, Reid, we're just playing." Emily tells her friend, patting him on the shoulder.
"Yeah, c'mon, let's go out, I promise to keep the teasing to a minimum." Morgan raises his hands in slight surrender.
"I'm gonna go pick her up, I'll meet you guys there." Spencer says before rushing from the office and heading to Ryder's apartment where the young women was getting ready to go out.
"Spence, I told you you didn't have to come." She tells him when he enters her home, grabbing her coat from the back of the couch.
"I know, I wanted to." He answers, wrapping his arms around her, smiling as he leans down to kiss her.
"Was Derek teasing again?" Ryder asks suspiciously, raising her eyebrows at her boyfriend.
"Maybe a little." He shrugs.
"It's because he loves you." Ryder sighs, moving away from Spencer to grab her purse. "We'll be late." Shaking his head, Spencer follows Ryder out of the apartment and the couple drove to a bar and grill the team often frequented, going in to find the team.
"There they are," Morgan says with a big smile when he sees them approaching, moving to throw his arm around Ryder's shoulder in a greeting hug. "How've you been, little lady?"
"Good, I'm good." Ryder answers, moving to hug Emily and Garcia. "And you guys?"
"Oh, you know," Emily shrugs, smiling at the younger women. "We're glad you could join us."
"Me too, thanks for the invite." Ryder responds before her eyes fell on an unfamiliar face.
"Jordon Todd," The agent introduces herself, holding out her hand for Ryder to shake. "I'm the agent filling in for JJ."
"Right," Ryder nods in realization, remembering Spencer had mentioned her. "Nice to meet you."
"Drinks," Penelope shouts out, turning her attention to the newcomer. "What's your poison, sweetie?"
"I'm not really much of a drinker." Ryder admits, never having acquired a taste for the stuff as she saw what it did to the people she grew up around.
"That makes two of you," Morgan motions towards Spencer, the younger man not having much of a taste for alcohol either.
The rest of the night was filling with various conversations and laughs, leaving the young couple stumbling out at a late hour to get back home, smiles on both their faces.
As it nears Christmas, Ryder becomes busy with her work. It's a hectic time of the year, she doesn't just photograph models, she does family pictures as well, and as everyone gets ready to get their holiday cards out, she becomes busy with back to back appointments .
She's excited for this years Christmas, Tommy is home and it would be her first one with Spencer, she can't wait despite her dislike for gift shopping. She hates it because she sucks at it, she never knows what to get anyone, especially Spencer.
But she tries not to stress about it, the thoughts easily leaving her mind as she got buried in work. Like now, the young women is rushing from her apartment to meet up with a small family for baby's first Christmas pictures, holding her phone to her ear with her shoulder.
"It's perfectly fine, Spence, I'm super busy anyway." She tells her boyfriend with a chuckle. "Just call me when you can."
"Okay, I will, I'm sorry again." Spencer apologizes, the team about to leave for the jet, having just been called away on a case.
"Stop apologizing, Spence, it's okay, we probably wouldn't have been able to see each other much anyway, just go catch the bad guys, I'll see you when you get back, okay?"
"I love you," Spencer sighs, feeling bad for having to be away over the holidays.
"Have a safe flight Spence, I love you too." Ryder says her goodbyes, struggling to hang up her phone and slip it into her pocket without dropping anything in her hands. "Oh, I'm sorry," She apologizes to a man when she bumps his shoulder.
"Are you Ryder Mathews?" The middle-aged man asks, causing Ryder to stop in her tracks and look up at him, his face unfamiliar to her.
"Yes?" She states confusedly, the single word coming out as a question as she squints her eyes at him. "Do I know you?"
"No, you wouldn't," He says, wringing his hands when his nerves got the better of him. "But I know you." His words only confused her more, her heart beating faster as she regards the man with suspicious eyes.
"I'm your father."