"I'm your father."
"I-...what?" Ryder breathed out, her heart dropping as her mind filled with confusion. "No." She denied, shaking her head.
"You look so much like your mother," The man across from her said, acting as if he hadn't heard her words. "I know this is a lot, but if you were willing, I would love to sit down and talk, over lunch maybe."
"I don't-" Ryder continued to shake her head, having a hard time believing this man. "I can't-." She once again cut herself off as she couldn't find the words. What the hell was she supposed to say? Some stranger claiming to be the father she'd never met, a man she held anger towards for giving her up when she was only a baby. Of course, she never knew the reasons behind it, her real parents could've been dead for all she knew but if he was telling the truth then he obviously wasn't.
"I-I have to go," The young woman finally forced out, missing the drop in her supposed father's face as her own emotions started to consume her.
"Wait," He called out and for some reason, she did. She paused in her steps and turned back to him. "I know you probably hate me and I understand if you do. But I've been looking for you for almost a year now and I just want to get to know my daughter. I'm sorry for everything. Please give me a chance."
He was sincere, Ryder could see that much, but she was still skeptical. "How do I know you're telling the truth?"
"Your name is Ryder Faith Mathews, you were born July sixth, you weighed six pounds and eight ounces, and you were sixteen inches long. You have a birthmark on your left shoulder blade." He listed the things he knew about his daughter, some of the things even she didn't know. He wasn't sure why he told her the unnecessary details, maybe it was to prove to either himself or her that he was her father and he did care.
Hearing his words made Ryder falter. She didn't know those things about when she was born but he knew her middle name, her birthday, and about her birthmark. How else would he know unless he truly was her father?
"Why are you here?" She asked him, trying to keep her voice emotionless as she shifted on her feet.
"I've lived with the guilt of giving you up for twenty-four years and I just couldn't anymore. It's a long story and I'd be happy to tell you all about it." The man became hopeful as he looked over at his daughter, seeing the eternal debate she was having with herself.
"I-I can't," She started and his heart dropped until she continued speaking. "I'm working right now."
"Another time then?" He asked, stepping forwards slightly, pausing when Ryder shifted away from him.
"I need time," She told him, looking up into his hazel-green eyes. "To think."
"Of course, take all the time you need." He nodded, understanding her position. "I can give you my number, you can contact me whenever you're ready."
"Um," Ryder mumbled, looking around herself as if all the answers and explanations she needed would appear out of thin air. But they wouldn't, she could only get them from the man standing in front of her. With that in mind, Ryder knew what she had to do. "Okay."
"Great." He sighed in relief. "My name is Roy, Roy Parker." He introduced himself when he realized he hadn't, a smile on his face as he gave Ryder his number.
After departing from him, Ryder drove to her appointment in a daze, her mind whirling with everything that had just happened. If this man really was her father, and why wouldn't he be? What could he get from pretending to be him? She had a lot to think about. She would be lying if she said she wasn't angry at him and wanted to shut him out despite not even knowing him, but she needed answers, answers she had her entire life, ones she never thought she would get the answers to.
"You wanna run that by me again?" Tommy asked his sister, not expecting the words that just came from her.
"He said he was my father, Tommy." She repeated, sighing as she paced her living room floor, wringing her hands together. "What should I do? I mean he knew things about me only he would know so it has to be him but I just...I don't understand."
"Hey, it's okay," Tommy quickly moved to hug his sister, seeing the tears build up in her eyes. "I can't tell you what to do, Ry, but I can be here for you in whatever decision you make."
"Thanks, Tommy," Ryder said as she wiped her eyes, sniffing as she moved to sit on the couch.
"Have you told Spencer or Steve?" Tommy asked his sister as he sat next to her, resting a comforting hand on her back.
"No, Steve's away for work and Spencer's on a case, I don't want to bother them." She shook her head, covering her face with her hands as she spoke.
"And I know for a fact that neither of them would mind. They'd probably be mad if you didn't call actually." He added and Ryder nodding, knowing he was right.
"That does sound like them." She chuckled slightly, pulling out her phone to send Spencer a quick text, decided to tell Stevie when he got home. "Let's order pizza and watch cheesy Christmas movies."
"Sounds good." Tommy chuckled, knowing his little sister was trying to take her mind off the days events.
"Hey kid, you okay?" Mogan asked Reid, noting the younger mans brows furrowing as he look down at his phone.
"Uh, I don't know." He mumbled, rereading the text he had received.
"What's up?" Moving to sit next to him, Derek looked over Spencer's shoulder to read the same messages he was looking at, the text reading 'I need to talk to you, call me when you can please.' "That doesn't sound good."
"Yeah, excuse me." Spencer said before standing from his seat, leaving the police conference room they were set up in, passing Emily as he went.
"Uh, is he okay?" She asked Morgan, pointing over her shoulder to where Spencer disappeared to.
"Trouble in paradise?" Derek guessed, shrugging his shoulders.
Finding a quiet corner to hide in, Spencer quickly calls Ryder, a million different thoughts running through his mind as the phone rings, once, twice, three times until he hears a click followed by Ryder's voice.
"You're not busy are you?"
"No, I stepped away, is everything okay?" Spencer asked with worry.
"Uh, sort of, it's nothing that can't wait, I just wanted to talk to you as soon as I could."
"I'm not busy, I promise, we just wrapped up the case, we'll be home tomorrow." Reid informed her, tucking his free hand under his arm to prevent himself from fidgeting. "Now please tell me what's wrong."
"Um, so the other day I was leaving for a job, I had just hung up with you actually and I met this man..." She trailed off, unsure of how to proceed. She thought it would be better to wait until Spencer got home to talk to him about this but she couldn't wait, this had been weighing on her and she felt like she was being crushed.
"Ryder?" Spencer prompted after a moment of silence.
"He claimed to be my father." Ryder told him, continuing before Spencer had the chance to say anything. "He told me things only he would know and I believe him. We didn't talk long but he gave me his number to contact him when I was ready to talk but Spencer I don't know if I'll ever be ready and I don't know what to do I just want you here." She rambled, her emotions once again getting the better of her as she started to tear up.
"Okay, okay," Spencer tried to soothe her, keeping his voice calm for her sake as his own thoughts ran through his at this new information. "I'm going to see if we can fly out tonight, it's only two hours, okay? I'll be home as soon as I can."
"It's okay if you can't. Tommy's here and I've been talking to him about it, but I really just want to talk to you. In person. I just had to tell you."
"I'll be home soon, okay? I love you." Spencer said, closing his eyes his a sigh, wishing that when he opened them he would be home, with Ryder.
"I love you." She mumbled before hanging up, the click sound alerting Spencer of that fact.
Slipping his phone into his pocket, Spencer took a few more seconds before he reentered the conference room he'd previously left, the whole team had gathered while he spoke with Ryder.
"Hey, everything okay?" Emily was the first to notice him, asking out of curiosity from the way Spencer left and the distant look in his face. She feared the worst, it was an occupational hazard the whole team had.
"Uh, yeah. Would you guys mind going home tonight, instead of waiting until morning?" He hated to ask but he really needed to get home to Ryder. The team had only decided to stay the night because it was getting late but there was no reason not to leave.
"If it's okay with everyone else, I don't see why not." Hotch nodded, looking around the room to see everyone nodding, confusion and worry hidden on all their faces.
"You sure everything's okay?" Morgan asked, with the text and the way Spencer was acting, he was worried.
"Yeah, um," Reid debated with himself on what to say, he couldn't just say what Ryder had told him, it wasn't for him to tell. "Ryder just got some...news, and I need to be there."
"Is she okay?" Emily voiced what everyone was wondering, the whole team's attention on Spencer at this point.
"Yeah," Spencer nodded even though he honestly didn't know if that was true.
The two hour plane ride back home felt like two years as Spencer stared out the window, his leg bouncing, unable to focus on anything as he thought about the way Ryder sounded on the phone.
Once they landed, Reid only spared his fellow team members a goodbye before rushing off to Ryder's apartment, sending her a text that he was on his way. When he arrived, Tommy greeted him at the door as he pulled off his messenger bag and coat.
"She's in her room." Was all the younger man said before Spencer thanked him and walked down the hall, softly knocking on her door, pushing it open to see her sitting in the middle of her bed.
"Hey," He greeted, drawing her attention to him as she hadn't heard his knock.
"Hey," She greeted back, climbing off the bed and walking into his arms, enjoying the warmth his body gave off. "Thanks for coming back."
"Of course," Spencer whispered, rubbing her back as he buried his face in her hair. "I'll always come when you need me."
"I want to talk about this, can we do that?" She asked. Ryder wasn't one to talk about herself or her past but this was different, she felt like she had to talk about this.
"Whatever you need," Spencer nodded, rubbing Ryder's arms before leading her to the bed where the two sat down.
"I don't even know what to say," Ryder scoffed, looking down at her hands in her lap. "I mean, what do I say? What do I think? What am I supposed to do, Spence?"
"Well first thing, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. If you don't want to see him you don't have to and you don't have to feel like you do because you don't." Spencer started, his words a comfort to Ryder. "And call me paranoid but if you don't mind I can look into him for you, make sure he's legit."
"You'd really do that?" She already thought he was but Ryder had her doubts about this man so to know a hundred percent that this man was truly her father, it would help.
"Of course I would. I can find out tomorrow." He nodded. He could easily get Garcia to look into him, find out if this man really was her father, it would make him feel better about this whole situation.
"Yeah, okay, I'd like that." Ryder nodded as Spencer took her hands in his larger ones. "And if it is him, what do you think I should do?"
"I can't answer that, it's entirely up to you but know that I will be here no matter what decision you make."
"Tommy said something similar," Ryder mumbled. She understood where they were coming from but she just wanted someone to tell her what to do because she had no idea herself. "I don't know what I want to do."
"And that's okay. I'd probably be surprised if you did, to be honest." Ryder huffed a laugh at that, a small smile pulling at her lips. "You don't have to decide anything tonight or even tomorrow, okay? Maybe you should sleep on it."
"I am tired." Ryder nodded, rubbing her eyes as she did.
"Come here," Spencer mumbled, pulling her into his arms where she soon fell alseep to the steady rythm of his heart beat.
Going into work the next day, Spencer goes straight to Penelope's office, knowing she'd be there because he wasn't early today, having stayed with Ryder as long as he could've, making her breakfast and sitting until she all but forced him out the door, telling him she was fine.
Knocking on the slightly opened door, Spencer enters when he hears Garcia's voice tell him to come in, seeing the blonde sitting in her desk, looking over her shoulder to see who had entered.
"Hey, boy genius, what can I do for you on this fine morning?" She asked with a smile, turning back to her many computers as Reid walked over to her.
"I need you to look up a name for me," He started, pulling up a chair to sit next to her. "It's uh, a personal thing. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell the rest of the team."
"Is everything okay?" She asked, her smile gone as she looked to her friend with worry.
"Yeah, just..." Spencer sighed. Ryder had permitted him to do this, even to tell Garcia who he was looking into. "Ryder grew up in foster care until she was adopted at fifteen. A man approached her the other day claiming to be her biological father. I need you to look him up, make sure he really is."
"Oh, my poor girl." Garcia mumbled to herself, nodding as she turned to her computers, ready to do anything to help her friend. It took a little bit of searching to find the exact Roy Parker but once they did, Penelope was able to find everything out with some digging, the adopting papers being sealed until she unsealed them.
"So it is him?" Spencer asked just to be sure, even though he was reading the evidence in front of him.
"It seems so," Garcia said, her voice slightly distant as she read over Ryder's file. She knew she shouldn't, that it was an invasion of privacy but she couldn't help it, almost like her fingers moved over the keyboard with a mind of their own. "Oh," She squeaked out when she read something in particular that she didn't like at all, drawing Spencer's attention back to her.
"What?" He asked, his eyes going from her face to her screen, quickly reading over the words on her screen, the younger man letting out a sigh of realization came over him.
"Did you know?" She asked him, tearing her eyes away from the screen to look at Spencer, a frown overtaking her face.
"Yes," Spencer nods, his eyes meeting Garcia's, the worry showing through them. "She's okay, Garcia, really." He assured his friend, knowing how big of a heart the women had and how she worried for the people she cared about.
"Garcia," Spencer said softly, his friend big eyes looking into his own. "She's okay. Thank you for your help."
"Uh, okay, n-no problem." Garcia nodded, quickly closing all the tabs before she could read anymore as Spencer walked out of her office, pulling out his phone on his way.
"Hello?" Ryder's voice came through the speaker, the young women sounding slightly out of breath.
"Hey, it's me," Spencer said when he realized she probably answered without looking at the caller ID. "Where are you?"
"I just got home, I went for a run, needed to move. I couldn't stand being cooped up in the apartment." Ryder told him as she walked through her building. She had been working a lot that week so she was far from couped up but with the decision about her father weighing on her, she felt like she was trapped and needed to do something.
"I talked to Garcia, I have your answer."
Pausing in her steps, Ryder nods before taking a seat at her kitchen counter, ready to know. "It's really him, isn't it?" She knew, of course, she did, she had an undeniable feeling deep down that he was who he claimed to be.
"Yes," Spencer said after a moment. "Are you okay?"
"You know, I think I am." Ryder nodded, feeling different than she expected. She still didn't know what to think or what to do but she felt different knowing for sure. "Thanks, Spence."
"You're welcome. Call me if you need anything, I'll see you later. Love you."
"Yeah," Ryder nodded, standing as she walked back to her room, ready to take a shower. "Love you too."
After hanging up, Ryder tosses her phone onto her bed before going into the bathroom and stripping from her workout close and climbing into the shower, trying to relax as she thought about her father.
She couldn't deny her need for answers but she knew how hard it would be to sit across from the man with all the anger and resentment she held towards him. But would she ever be able to move on if she knew she had the chance to learn about where she came from and she passed on it? She'd always secretly wondered about her past, why her parents have given her up. Had they died, not been able to keep her for reason beyond her knowledge or did they just not want her?
The answer is no, she wouldn't be able to move on and she wouldn't be able to forgive herself if she didn't at least try to talk to him, have him explain why he and her mother did what they did, why they didn't want her.
By the time Ryder figured out her thoughts, the water had run cold and she exited the shower, wrapping herself in a warm towel and returning to her room to get dressed for the day. Her schedule wasn't as full today but she did have things she needed to do which she was grateful for, it helped keep her mind off the decision she knew she was going to make.
It worked, she was distracted all day, returned home right before Spencer did, the older man bringing food with him.
"Aww, Spence, you didn't have to do this." Ryder said with a smile, greeting her boyfriend with a kiss before she grabbed them drinks and utensils, joining him on the couch were they frequently ate dinner.
"How was your day?" Reid asked, the question having a larger meaning than it normally would.
"Uh, busy," Ryder started, playing with her food more than eating it. "I think I've come to a decision." Spencer didn't talk, only gave her his attention, allowing her to continue. "I'm gonna call him."
"That's great. If you need anything, if you want me by your side, I'll be there." He made sure she knew he was with her, no matter what.
"Thank you, Spence, that means everything but I think I'm gonna do this one on my own if that's okay." Ryder hadn't thought this through much but she did know this. When she sat down to talk with her father for the first time, she wanted to do it one on one. Not that she wouldn't be anxious and nervous, knowing Spencer's presence would help, she needed to do it by herself.
"Of course, just let me know you're okay when you do."
"I will," She nodded, smiling at his protectiveness. "Promise."
The day arrived sooner than Ryder imagined, but she just blamed it on her nerves. Spencer and Tommy both knew she was meeting her father today, she'd even called Steve the day before to fill him in, her best friend promising to be home soon.
As she normally did, Ryder worried about what to wear among other things before she finally set out to meet her father at the cafe she had suggested, knowing she wouldn't have much of an appetite, his faintly familiar face coming into view as her eyes scanned the room.
He looked to be in his forties, his dark hair starting to turn grey on the sides. He was on the tall side, Ryder guessed he was only a couple inches shorter than six feet. He wasn't particularly fit, but he didn't look like he spent his weekends sitting around the house.
He stood when he saw her, a nervous smile pulling at his lips when he did. Taking a deep breath, Ryder walks over to him, giving a tiny wave when she couldn't manage words.
"I'm glad you called." Roy told her after they sat down, his hands fidgeting much like Ryder's were and have multiple times in the past.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to." Ryder told him, finding it easier to speak than moments before.
"I understand," He started, his mouth open to say more before Ryder cut him off.
"Do you?" She asked, looking into his eyes, her brows furrowed. "Did your father abandon you when you were a baby?" He could have for all she knew and it felt rude to ask but she couldn't stop herself.
"No, he didn't," Roy admitted, bowing his head when he heard the anger behind her words. "I'm sorry."
"Are you?" She didn't mean for his previous words and they both knew it. "Are you sorry?"
Roy hesitated in his words, his eyes scanning his daughter's face. She really did look like her mother, he thought, she had that fiery look in her eyes just like she had when she got angry.
"Yes," He finally said, his word just louder than a whisper, his face holding a somber expression.
"Then why?" Ryder asked, trying her best to keep her emotions in check, blinking as her eyes started to burn with unshed tears.
He knew that question would be asked and no matter how many times he'd run through the answer he would give in his head, he couldn't seem to find the right words. There weren't any right words really, he knew that but he also knew he had to explain, he owed her that much.
"When your mother and I found out she was pregnent with you, we were only teenagers. I was sixteen, she was fifteen." He began, the memories in his mind that it was yesterday, not twenty-four years. "We were scared, we didn't know what to do. And we both decided..." He hesitated, not even wanting to bring up the fact that abortion was even on the table in the first place, but Ryder knew what he meant. "We decided that's not what we wanted, so she went through with the pregnancy and..." He trailed off, the rest speaking for itself.
"Where is she? My mother?" Ryder didn't know if she wanted the answer but she knew she needed it. Her father's words spread some light on things, it was an option she had run through her mind a few times before along with many others but she found it didn't help at that moment, she was still angry.
"She uh," Roy once again hesitated. "After you were born me and your mother moved on, we drew apart. It just wasn't working. Seven years ago I got news that she had passed."
"Oh," Ryder mumbled. She held anger towards her mother just like she did her father, but she still felt sad at the news that the woman she had never even met was dead. "Why now? Why did you start looking after all these years?"
"Ten years ago I married the love of my life. Two years after that we had a little baby girl." Roy informed, his words causing Ryder's eyes to snap to his face.
"I have a sister?" She whispered, the new information shocking her.
"Yes. She's eight. Her name is Isabella." Roy said and Ryder let out something that sounded like a choked laugh and cry all in one. "But I never stopped thinking about my first daughter, I never stopped thinking about you. And when Bella was born I couldn't hold it in any longer and I told my wife. She excepted it and even suggested I track you down when she saw how guilty I felt about everything. It took me seven years until I finally started looking."
Ryder didn't speak, she couldn't. Her head was in her hands, elbows resting on the table in front of her. What was she supposed to say to that? She wanted answers and she got them but they only made her feel worse.
"Um, I-I'm sorry, I need to go," Ryder finally stuttered out, standing to grab her bag and coat.
"O-of course," Her father nodded, knowing this was probably a lot for her but also fearing she would leave forever. "If you want to talk again..."
"I don't know what I want right now," She told him before storming out into the cold, deciding to walk home to help clear her mind.
By the time she reached her apartment, her fingers and toes were numb to the cold, her nose red and lips turning slightly blue from the breeze that seemed to be on her face the entire way there.
She hadn't noticed until she got there that she had a missed call from Tommy and Steve, two from Spencer. They must have been trying to check up on her. It was sweet, she thought before sending them all a quick text so they wouldn't worry before turning to her bathroom.
Turning the shower on, Ryder slowly removed her winter clothes, not realizing tears were falling down her face until after she had climbed under the waters warm spray. She wasn't even sure the reason she was crying. She had always imagined the reason her parents had given her up was because they just didn't want her but hearing it was still like a punch to the gut. And even if he tried coming back into her life now, it didn't make her feel any better. If he wanted to be in her life, he was twenty-four years too late.
Her mother was dead. Her biological one. She would go as far as to say she hated the women despite feeling sympathy for her. She had just as much a hand in giving her up as her father did and she couldn't even ask her why because she'd never be able to meet her.
Not to mention she had a half-sister. The idea just seemed crazy to her, having another sibling, this one a little sister over an older brother. She felt no anger towards the little girl, she probably didn't even know Ryder existed and probably wouldn't understand if she.
Ryder was pulled from her thoughts by a faint ringing sound. Her phone. She had brought it into the bathroom with her, setting it on the sink before she got into the shower. She'd been in there long enough, she decided, running all these thoughts through her head as she cried. It was time to stop.
"Hey," She answered her phone after wrapping a towel around herself, seeing Spencer's name light up the screen, clearing her throat when her voice came out slightly raspy.
"Hey, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." She nodded, whipping her nose as she looked at her reflection, her bloodshot eyes looking back at her.
"Really? You sound like you've been crying." Spencer said worried, knowing she was most likely upset from the meeting with her father.
"Can't get anything past you." Ryder chuckled before sniffing. "It's just..."
"Your father?" Spencer filled in when after a few moments of silence.
"If you can even call him that." She said bitterly, her left hand playing with the edge of the towel as her right one holds the phone to her ear.
"I take it didn't go well?"
"Not exactly. I don't really want to talk about it over the phone if that's okay."
"Yeah, of course, I'll be home soon, want me to pick anything up?"
"I don't know," Ryder mumbled before an idea popped into her head. "Junk food."
"I can do that," Spencer chuckled, nodding his head on the other side of the phone. "I love you Ry."
"Love you too, Spence, see you later." Hanging up the phone, Ryder went to her room where she got dressed in comfortable clothes before colapsing onto her bed, tired after all the crying she had done.
Spencer was relieved when no cases came up that day, allowing him to leave on time, make a stop before heading to Ryder's apartment. It was quiet when he entered and dark, Ryder's purse was lying on the kitchen table.
Dropping his coat next to it, Spencer moves down the hall and towards Ryder's room, pushing open the cracked door to see her asleep on the bed.
He smiled at her peaceful face as he moved into the room, setting the shopping bag on the nightstand, the plastic making a louder sound than he anticipated, the noise waking his girlfriend.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you." He whispered as she sat up, rubbing her eyes while she did.
"No, I'm glad you did." Ryder mumbled, yawning as she threw her legs off the bed, now facing Spencer. "How was your day?"
"I think I should be asking you that," Spencer said, taking a seat next to her.
"Well, I talked to him. Or he talked. Said quite a bit actually." Ryder said in a tone Spencer had rarely, if ever, heard her use before. "About how he gave me up and just moved on like I was nothing." She was standing now, unable to sit still as she paced.
"Did he say that?" Spencer asked, watching her movements as he stayed seated on the bed, anger in him towards this man but he knew he needed to stay calm and be there for Ryder.
"He didn't use those exact words but..." Ryder trailed off, pausing in her steps and throwing her head back with a groan. "He told me my mother was dead. My biological mother. And apparently, I have a half-sister."
"Ryder, I'm sorry," Spencer said as he stood in front of her, his hands rubbing her arms.
"Don't apologize Spence, nothings your fault." She mumbled, her shoulders dropping as she leaned her head onto his chest. "I thought hearing why they did what they did would make me feel better but I was wrong, I feel worse."
"I couldn't even listen to him talk anymore. I just left."
"That's not on you." Spencer told her as he rubbed her back, doing his best to comfort her.
"And now I don't know what to do," Ryder started again, pulling away from Spencer's embrace to pace once more. "Is it bad that I hate him? Because I do. He said they were scared when they found out about me, well how does he think I felt when I was all alone, in foster homes with shitty people I didn't know and who treated me like I was nothing more than a piece of garbage."
"I hate him, I just hate him so much for what he did, for what they did." She was crying now, salty tears falling down her face as Spencer wrapped her in his arms again, holding her close as she cried.
"It's not bad that you hate him, and no one, especially not me, would think any less of you for it. He left you when you needed him most. I hate him too." That last part drew a surprised laugh from Ryder, the younger woman pulling back to wipe her face.
"I don't know what I would do without you," Ryder told him, messing with his tie to distract herself.
"Then it's a good thing you'll never have to find out." Spencer told her with a smile, wiping away her tear with his thumbs. "Guess what I got."
"Candy? Things that will rot my teeth?" Ryder asked hopefully, a small smile on her lips as she watched Spencer turn and grab the bag he'd set on the nightstand and present it to her. "Thank you."
"Anything for you, love."