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Boy Meets Girl

Chapter Text

Monday mornings. Hectic for most people. The weekend has ended, time to drag yourself out of the comfort of your bed and get to work or school. Most people relying on the support of caffeine to make it through the day.

That's why every place open in the early hours that sell coffee, or other caffeinated drinks, are packed. The lines all holding people that are nervous and or anxious about being late to there 9 to 5 jobs or the more pressing jobs. Nurses, engineers, teachers, doctors, the list never ending. Some students stressing about being late to their first class, wondering if they got all their assignments completed.

Not all people are rushing to get to work or to class, some people just getting off work, looking for a quick pick me up so they can make it home or complete the errands they have to run that day. Some people not having work or school to get to, just taking some time to enjoy an early breakfast at their favorite café. The few who make their own hours, choosing to get out early and complete their other daily tasks.

Despite the packed cafes and other establishments, the sidewalks seemed to be just as crowded. People rushing one way or another to get to those early morning jobs or classes, maybe even just trying to get home. No one paying attention to anyone other than themselves and their tasks at hand.

That being the reason two people, walking fast, both distracted by different things concerning something that only themselves know of, run right into each other. The man jumping back as he feels the hot liquid of the girls newly acquired drink soaking into the top layers he's wearing to help ward off the cold air.

"Oh my gosh!" The young women gasped out, "I am so sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going and I-"

"No, it's fine. I wasn't really paying attention either," The older, yet still young man cut her off.

"No, no it's my fault. I swear I'll pay for w-whatever I ruined." She stuttered, looking the man over for damage the hot drink may have caused.

"N-no, really, it's mostly on my jacket. No damage done, I swear." The young man also stuttered slightly as he assured the women that it was alright. "Is your camera alright?"

Looking down at the camera hanging from her neck, the women quickly answered. "Oh, it's fine. It's an old one anyway." Calming down, the women sent the tall man a smile, taking in his appearance. He was tall, on the skinny side, with shaggy hair, it suited him well, she thought. His brown eyes shining in the early morning light, a few strands of hair falling in front of them.

"At least let me buy you a coffee or something, I feel terrible and I need a new drink anyway." She held up her empty, half squished cup for emphasis.

The young man looked at the girl, she was a bit shorter than him so he had to look down slightly to really see her face. She was beautiful, he had to admit. She had long brown hair, it falling in waves around her shoulders, freckles dotting around her nose. But what he seemed to focus on most were her eyes. Bright brown eyes shinning with the small smile that lit up her face as she looked up at him. It was just a small smile, simple, yet it seemed so bright. Something he didn't see a lot of these days.

"You really don't have too." He insisted even though he found himself not wanting to leave her company just yet.

"I promise, it's no trouble, I want to. It's the least I could do." She found herself saying as she looked up into the eyes of the stranger she ran into moments ago. There was something about him, something in his eyes. They seemed to hold so much. So much knowledge but also pain. They looked happy yet sad. Bright but dark.

"Ah, alright, if it's no trouble." The man in front of her said, pulling her from her thoughts.

Shaking her head, she gave him a bigger smile. "No, no trouble at all. You know Lilly's? I've heard they have the best coffee." She asked while pointing over her shoulder, referring to the café near by that she had just come from. "If coffee is what you want of course." She quickly added.

"Ye-yeah, a coffee is fine." He stuttered again, actually surprised he hasn't more. He's never been great at talking with people, especially women.

"Okay great. Oh, I'm Ryder, by the way. Ryder Matthews." She introduced herself, suddenly remembering she hadn't given her name.

"Uh, Spencer, Spencer Reid." He noticed she didn't offer her hand to shake, which he was grateful for, he thought it would make this awkward, or more awkward. She slowly turned around, motioning for him to follow, which he did.

"Again, I am so sorry for this." She told him with an apologetic smile as they walked next to each other.

"It's fine, really. I didn't like this jacket that much anyway." It wasn't a total lie, he wasn't attached to the jacket but he did like it. But he could live without it and he could see how guilty she felt and didn't want to make it worse. He found that he liked her smile and didn't want to give her a reason to frown.

She smiled at him as she opened the door to a little corner café that read "Lilly's". Spencer guessed it was maybe the owners name or something along those lines. It was a cozy little café, it smelled of freshly baked foods with a hint of coffee and chocolate. There were a few tall round table scattered around the floor with tall chairs to match, around the walls there were a few booths, some being window seats. Over to the left there were two couches and a chair facing each other with a large coffee table in the middle. The walls were a dark color, along with the dark hardwood floor. There was art and pictures lining the walls, adding the color the place needed, along with the chairs and couches.

As the duo walked up to the counter to order, a lady in a floral dress walked passed them, having just received her order. "Just order whatever you'd like." Ryder said to Spencer as she leaned on the counter.

"Hey Ryder, back so soon?" A small girl with a pixie cut asked as she walked up to them from behind the counter.

"Hey Amy, I just love your company so much I purposely ran into someone and spilled my drink on them so I could come see you again." Ryder said to the young girl, teen most likely, with a smile. Spencer realized she was being sarcastic and smiled slightly at her easy going and light personality. It's refreshing as he finds himself surround by the opposite most times.

Amy gave a small laugh and shook her head, not seeming surprised at all. She took their orders, Ryder reordering her hot chocolate, stating that she wasn't much of a coffee drinker, and Spencer got a normal cup of coffee with lots of sugar.

"I can't say I'm sorry enough. I've probably made you late for work or something." Ryder apologized again as they set there drinks on a near by table, allowing Spencer to remove his chocolate stained jacket, leaving him in a sweater and button up shirt.

"That's alright, I don't mind." Spencer didn't mind being a few minutes late and he found himself not wanting to leave. It's odd he thought, he had only just met this women yet she's had some affect on him. He's not sure what it is, but he can't seem to take his eyes away from her smile. "I hope I'm not making you late for anything." He added quickly, hoping he wasn't inconveniencing her.

"Oh no, I wasn't on my way anywhere really. I have odd hours, I guess you could say." She said with a small chuckle, cause Spencer to smile. Even her laugh was beautiful he thought as he smiled down at her. "I was just going to sit and read my book, nothing to exciting."

"What book?" Spencer asked, his interest peaked. Books are sometime he knew, something he could talk about.

"Oh, um.." Ryder said as she put her bag on the table, carful not to knock their drinks off as she pulled out a book to show to the young man beside her.
Spencer turned his head slightly to get a better look at the cover and soon found himself reading the tittle "Knights Gambit". "Have you ever read it?"

"Uh no actually," Spencer said, surprising himself a little. He was familiar with the book. He was familiar with all of William Faulkner's books. He had just never gotten to that one. "Although I have read some of his other works."

"Really? You like to read?" She seems truly interested as she asked, setting the book down on the table.

"Yeah, I read a lot actually." He decided to keep the whole reading 20,000 words a minute thing to himself, he didn't want to scare her off. "Did you know that William Faulkner was rejected from joining the United States Army in 1914 because he was too short. He reportedly gorged on bananas and glasses of water before the medical examination, in order to give the impression that his short and puny frame was more robust than it appeared; the plan failed. Instead, Faulkner succeeded in joining the British army in 1917 – having forged letters from a fictional referee, a vicar named Edward Twimberly-Thorndyke."

"Really? I didn't know that." Spencer was surprised he hadn't gone off on one of his little rants sooner, it normally scared people off, but Ryder didn't seem to mind, she actually seemed interested. "You don't meet a lot of people who read these days it seems." Ryder said before taking a sip of her drink. She was amazed by this man, she had just met him but he intrigued her. He was one of the nicest people she'd ever met, that being after she spilled her drink all over him. She's not the biggest reader but she does love it and she's never met someone else who shares in her love. He was also kind of cute. She found herself not wanting to leave his company and for a moment her mouth seem to take over and say things before she even fully processed them. "You can barrow it if you'd like, I've already read it once and I'd hate for you to not get the chance to read it."

Spencer pushed past his surprise as he watched the women in front of him. She seems shocked by her own words, a pink tint coming to her cheeks as she looked down at the cup in her hands. "I mean," She quickly started talking again, not letting Spencer get a word in. "You totally don't have to, but if you want I don't mind. I could just maybe write my number down and when your done we could meet up and give it back." If she was going to be honest, she was looking for an excuse to see him again. She knew he would have to leave soon and she would never see him again after he left. That thought itself bringing an odd feeling to her stomach, one she did not like.

"Re-really?" Spencer asked. He probably wouldn't normally do it but he thought it was the perfect excuse to see her again. He knew she couldn't possibly ever like him in that way, but he couldn't help the feeling he got when he thought of not seeing her again after he left. It was an odd feeling in his gut, and he did not like it.
"Yeah, it's no problem and I did ruin your jacket. Here," Spencer watched as she dug through her bag, soon pulling out a pen. She opened the book and on the first empty page, she wrote something down before closing it and handing it over to him. "Just read it and whenever you've finished you can call me or send a text."
Spencer carefully took the book, opening the hardcover book to see what she had written. It was a number with her name below it, a smiley face following soon after. He smiled down at it, before carefully closing the book, almost like if he did it any faster it would all blow away.

"Th-thanks." He stuttered, not knowing what else to say. He's never been in situation like this before. But she was just being nice right? She felt bad for spilling her drink on him and was trying to be nice.

"No problem really, I hope you enjoy it." Just as she fished saying that, Spencer phone went off. He mentally sighed, knowing what it meant. He wasn't ready to leave. Saying a quick apology, Spencer pulled out his phone to look at the text he'd gotten.

"I'm sorry, that's work. I got to go." Spencer said as he looked up at the girl.

"Oh no, it's fine. I'm the sorry one, I hope I didn't make you too late and again, I sorry about your jacket." She gave him another smile and Spencer couldn't help thinking that he'd ruin all his jackets if it meant he could spend time with this young women.

"I-it's fine really, uh, thanks for the coffee and t-the uh the book." Spencer scooped up the book and slid it into his messenger bag as he found himself smiling back at Ryder.

At seeing his smile, Ryder's grew bigger. He had an amazing smile she thought. It wasn't a big toothy smile but it was enough for her to see how amazing it was. "Yeah, just let me know when you finish it." Ryder said as she walked around the table, heading to the door with Spencer. "And," She started hesitantly, "Maybe I could buy you another coffee sometime. Or any drink."

"Uh, um y-yeah. T-that'd be great." Spencer found himself stuttering. Did this girl really want to spend more time with him? He had just thought she was being nice but now she's offering to buy him another drink sometime.

"Okay," Ryder breathed out with a smile. She surprised herself buy saying that, she's not normally the type, but there was something about this man and she found herself not wanting him to be out of her life just yet. So when he said yes, she gave a sigh a relief and smiled up at him. "I look forward to it."

"Y-yeah, me too." They both stood at the door for a moment, looking at each other before Ryder shook her head.

"You're going to be even more late for work, I won't hold you up anymore."

"Right, thanks again for the coffee." Spencer said as he opened the door, allowing both of them to walk out onto the sidewalk.

"No problem really. Well, I wish you a good day at work, and I hope you enjoy the book." Ryder motion to the messenger bag hanging off his shoulder, where the book now resides. Spencer knew it would only take him a few minutes to finish the book, but he wasn't going to tell her that just yet. He really wanted to see her again and didn't want to do anything to prohibit that from happening.

"Thanks, I'm sure I will." Spencer adjusted the strap on his messenger bag as he stopped in front of Ryder. He wasn't sure what else he should say, he's been being cautious this whole time, not wanting to say something wrong.

"Alright, I guess I'll see you when you finish the book." Ryder gave him another smile, earning her one in return.

"Yeah, see you then." Spencer said before slowly turning to walk off. He knew he needed to get to work, Garcia texted him about a case, but it was like he was being drawn to this women. As he walked away it was like there was a rope pulling him back. He stopped after a few strides and turned to see her still looking at him. When she caught his eye, she waved and sent him a smile. He'd only just met her but he couldn't seem to get enough of her smile. Smiling himself, Spencer waved back before turning and making his way into work.


"You're late, you're never late." JJ said as Spencer walked into the briefing room.

"Yeah, what you do? Fall asleep on your couch watching Star Trek?" Morgan teased as Reid sat down to his left.

"No, I uh... got a coffee." Spencer wasn't going to tell the team about Ryder. He knew the teasing would never end. And he would admit to himself that he wanted something that was untouched by his work. Spencer saw Ryder as something pure and untainted by all the bad things he sees everyday and he would do anything he could to keep it from infecting her. She was like a brightness seeping into all the darkness he sees. And he didn't plan on snuffing out that light anytime soon. If ever if he could help it.

"Then where is it?" Emily asked, pulling him from his thoughts of Ryder. Reid looked to his left, seeing Emily's raised brow.

"I drank it." He quickly answered, wanting them to drop the subject already. He loved his team, he really did, they were his family, but sometimes he wished they would just let him keep some things to himself.

"What happened to your jacket?" Morgan asked, inspected Spencer still damp jacket that he hung on the back of his chair.

"Isn't there a case?" Reid asked, looking around at everyone.

"Yes, there is." Hotch spoke for the first time, drawing everyone's attention to him. Reid didn't miss the small looks the team gave him as they all turned their attention to the screen as JJ turned it on. "If you would JJ."

As JJ started to talk about the case, Spencer found himself glancing down at his messenger bag. The bag holding a simple book with a few simple numbers, and found himself thinking back to the most beautiful smile he's ever seen.

A spilled drink, a ruined jacket, and a love for books. Who knew that was all it took to change someones life forever?

Chapter Text

It's been a few days since Spencer met Ryder, and he hadn't had time to read the book yet, the case taking all his time. But as everyone piles into the jet after a long few days, Spencer takes a seat in the far back away from everyone and pulls out the book that's been burning a hole in his messenger bag since he put it in there.

Even though he's just reading a book, Spencer felt the need to look up at the others, like if he got caught he'd get in trouble. Emily and JJ were sitting across from each other at the table, in a conversation between themselves. Hotch sitting on the other side, talking on the phone. Morgan was settling down in his own little world, maybe hoping to get some sleep.

Slowly opening the book, Reid looks down at the smiley face Ryder drew and finds himself wanting to see the real thing. This wasn't the hardest case he's ever worked on, but it was still difficult, as all of them are, and just imagining Ryder's smile makes him feel better.

Flipping through the pages, Spencer sees the small markings Ryder has made. Sections and words underlined or boxed in. Reid guessed they were her favorite parts, things that maybe spoke to her. He wondered if she did this with all the books she read.

As Spencer begins to read the pages, he finds himself going slower than his normal speed, taking more time to go over the areas Ryder marked. He wanted to finish the book quickly so he could see Ryder again but he wanted to really see the words, really read them. And he may have been stalling slightly, nerves getting the best of him. Would it be a date? She said she wanted to get a drink, she could have just picked up the book, something that wouldn't take long at all, but drinks, drinks take time. So does she want to spend time him?

Pulling out his phone, Spencer looks at the time. It was late, too late to call, but maybe not too late to send a text. Thinking it over, Reid glances down at the book - he was halfway through - then back to his phone. Deciding a text couldn't hurt, he quickly writes one out and hits send, trying to ignore the anxious feeling that started to creep up on him.

Digging through her bag, Ryder struggles to find her keys. It was late, she was tired, and her bag really seemed to hate her at the moment as it's hiding her keys, preventing her from unlocking the apartment door.

Just as she slides the key into the lock, Ryder's phone buzzes. Wondering who was texting her, Ryder continues into her apartment, turning left so she could set all her things down on top of the dining table before going over to her couch and plopping down. Sighing, Ryder pulls out her phone to see one unread message.

Unknown: Halfway through the book, love it so far. -Sincerely, the guy you spilled your drink on.

Ryder can't help the laugh that escapes her lips when she reads the message. She had been thinking about Spencer since she ran into him that day, she couldn't get those eyes out of her head. Eyes not much older than hers that held so much, they seem to hold enough for more than a lifetime.

Shaking away those thoughts, Ryder adds his number to her contacts before sending a reply.

Ryder: So glad you like it, I'm excited for you to finish it. What are you doing up so late? If you don't mind the asking.

Standing up from the couch, Ryder makes her way to her bedroom where she pulls out some sleeping clothes, planning to grab a quick shower before trying to get some sleep. It was a quick shower, Ryder put her hair in a messy bun to prevent it from getting wet. After she gets out, she removes her contacts, swapping them for her glasses.

Heading back into the living area, Ryder sits back down on the couch, and retrieving her phone from where she had placed it on the coffee table, she notices another message.

Spencer: Just got finished with work, decided to read. What about you? I didn't wake you did I?

Writing out her reply, Ryder suddenly stops as a thought comes to her. Thinking for a moment, she wonders if it's the best idea. Would he mind? What if he didn't really want to talk to her? He did text her first. Shrugging, Ryder discards her reply and quickly hits the call button before she can back out of her decision.

"Uh, hey." Comes a hushed reply, making her really rethink her decision. She shouldn't have called.

"Um, hey. Sorry, I shouldn't have called, I'm just not much of a texter." Ryder quickly says, suddenly feeling nervous.

"Oh, it's fine, I-I don't really text often either." She hears Spencer say over the phone, voice still slightly hushed. Ryder momentarily wondered why he was talking quietly, but soon put those thoughts aside.

"So it's okay that I called? I'm not bothering you or anything?" Ryder really didn't want to annoy him, make him not want to talk to her. From the little time that she's known him, Ryder really likes Spencer, and she doesn't want to run him off.

"Y-yeah, it's fine. You could never bother me." Ryder breathes a sigh a relief at his words, letting a smile overtake her face.

"And no, you didn't wake me. I just got home actually, also working."

"You really were serious about having odd hours."

Ryder gives a small chuckle, slightly surprised he remembered that. "I'm always serious."

"Is that sarcasm?" Spencer questions through the phone after a moment of thought. Ryder wondered if he actually didn't know she was being sarcastic for a moment. It took him a few seconds to answer like he was running it through his head a few times. She thought it was cute.

"Yes, yes it's sarcasm. Sorry, I find I do that sometimes."

"No, don't apologize. It's late, I'll let you go if you're tired."

"No, no," Ryder quickly answers, not quite ready to hang up. "I'm actually a pretty big night owl. I find I do some of my best work at night."

"Many people who classify as night owls feel they're more creative at night No one really knows why." As Spencer was talking, Ryder lies down on the couch to face the tv, holding the phone to her ear. "It actually reminds me of a poem."

"Oh yeah? What is it?"

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

"Robert Frost, I know it well." Ryder responds with a smile, catching the quiet sound of a small laugh on the other end of the phone. "Remember that drink I offered?"

"Yeah." Spencer responds in a quiet voice after a moment.

"Well...what would you think about maybe, turning it into dinner?" Ryder finally gets out, her heart beating faster and faster in her chest. "Or lunch, lunch works too." She quickly adds, not wanting to come on too strong.

"D-Dinner, dinner sounds great." Comes Reid's stuttered reply, causing a relieved smile to spread over her face.

"Okay, great. Well, I'm free anytime soon, so just let me know when you're up for it."

"My schedule is usually changing, but as of right now, I'm free tomorrow. Unless that doesn't work for you." Spencer says, quickly adding the last part.

"No, no, tomorrow night is perfect. Just let me know a time and a place, and I'll be there."

"Do you like Italian?"

Ryder let her smile grow as she answered Spencer's question. "I love Italian."

"O-okay, great. It's ah, it's a date." Spencer says, still in his quiet voice, although Ryder could hear the smile through his words.

"It's a date," Ryder repeats Spencer's words, a smile evident in her voice. "I'm looking forward to it."

"Y-yeah, me too." Ryder yawns right as Spencer says this, causing him to add. "You're tired, I'll let you go."

"Yeah, I'm sorry, it's been a long day." Ryder mumbles to Spencer, cursing the timing of her yawn. Yes, she was tired, but she enjoyed talking to Spencer.

"No need to apologize, it has been a long day. Goodnight Ryder."

"Goodnight Spencer." Ryder bids Spencer a goodnight with a smile, unable to wipe it off her face.

"Goodnight," Spencer says one last time before slowly hanging up the phone, Ryder following soon after.

As Ryder sets the phone on her coffee table, she finds herself smiling at the tv screen as some characters try to get a couch up some stairs. It's a funny scene, but not what she was smiling about. She was smiling about Spencer. As she thought earlier, she hadn't known him very long, but she liked the way she felt when she thought about him and when she talked to him. Like when she thought about never seeing him again, that was a feeling she didn't like in her gut, this is a feeling she likes, like butterflies.

Managing to drag herself to bed, Ryder quickly falls asleep with a smile on her face.

"Alright, spill." Looking over the edge of her cup, Ryder gives her friend Steve a confused.

"What do you mean?" She asks while setting her cup back down onto the table.

"Don't give me that," Steve starts, pointing a finger at her. "There's something up with you today. You seem... well I'm not sure but it's weird." Smiling, Ryder raises a brow at him while he quickly adds with a thoughtful look. "Well, weirder than normal."

Huffing a laugh, Ryder avoids his eyes, choosing to look down at her food instead. "I'm not acting weird."

"Uh-huh sure," He hums, obviously not buying the lie. "I've known you too long to fall for that. Now talk."

Peaking up from under her hair, Ryder smiles as she whispers. "I have a date."

Steve fake gasps and puts a hand over his heart. "Oh, my what? Ryder Mathews has a date? Did I wake up in another dimension?"

Laughing, the young woman throws a blueberry at him, hitting him in the face. "Shut up." Steve laughs with her as he catches the blueberry, throwing it in his mouth.

"So, when's this date?" He asks as he chews.

"Tonight." Ryder tells him, causing herself to realize how close it was. She was going on a date. That night. In a few hours. She didn't even know what she was going to wear. Oh no.

"Don't freak out." Steve suddenly says, seeing the panic over take his friends features.

"Not freaking out." Ryder tells him after taking a deep breath.

"Mhm. So, tell me about this lucky person, How'd you meet?" Steve inquires, taking a sip of his own drink.

"His name is Spencer, and I may have spilled my drink all over him and ruined his jacket."

"Of course you did." Steve responds, not sounding or looking the least bit surprised.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ryder questions, raising her eyebrows.

"You've always been clumsy." Steve states matter-of-factly.

"Have not." She mumbles weakly in defense.

"So, do you know where you're going?" Ryder opens her wallet while Steve questions her, pulling out enough money for the bill and extra for a tip.

"Um, he said something about Italian. Didn't say where though." Ryder answers, looking up in time to see an odd look on her friends face. "What?"

"Nothing, I just haven't seen you like this since Tom left." At his words, Ryder frowns, her good mood dampening slightly.

"Yeah, I know... can you blame me?" Steve's right, Ryder hadn't been feeling her normal self since Tommy left again. She'll always worry about him, like all siblings worry about each other, whether or not they would admit it.

"No, of course, I can't." Steve leans forward and takes Ryder's small hand in his larger one, giving it a comforting squeeze.

"Thanks, Stevie."

"For what?" He asks with a furrowed brows.

"Being the greatest friend anyone could ask for." Smiling, Ryder turns her hand over and grips Steve's tightly. "That's enough of that for today."

"Yeah, I pretty sure we have somewhere to be anyway."

Sighing in defeat, Ryder throws another outfit onto her bed. She was convinced at this point she would never find something to where. It sounds girly, she knows, she wasn't normally like this. But sue her, she wanted to look nice. Dating has never been her thing, anyway. Sure, she's been on a few before. The only guy she ever really dated asked her out their senior year in collage but it didn't go anywhere. He kind of creeped her out.

Letting out a groan, Ryder throws her phone onto her bed next to the growing pile of clothes. It was getting late, she was going to have to leave soon. She should call Steve, she thinks, ask him for help. They were both good with clothes, but it seemed all her knowledge on the subject has suddenly disappeared from her brain.

"No." Ryder mutters to herself. She will not call Steve for this. She was an adult, not a two year old, she could dress herself. Although, she imagined any two-year-old was more functional than her right now. Closing her eyes, Ryder takes a deep breath before marching into her closest with the mission not to leave until she finds someone to wear.

Yes, she has a very large closet, with lots of clothes. But in her defense, half of them are for work.

This is just the first date, Ryder tells herself, she doesn't want to go crazy with her outfit but she also wanted to impress. Something casual but dressy. Would a dress be to much? She does love a good dress but always preferred pants. "I'm thinking about this to much." The young woman mumbles aloud with a shake of her head.

Grabbing her dark, high waisted skinny jeans, Ryder drapes them over her arm before looking at the tops. A splash of purple catches her eye and she turns to grab the dark, purple sweater from the rack. it was light and flowy, the neckline was lose and would show off her shoulders. Smiling, Ryder nods to herself before moving to find shoes. It wasn't a hard choice. Purple sweat, purple high tops. It was a hobby, she supposed, collecting all different colored converse shoes.

Quickly changing, Ryder looks in the mirror to make sure her hair still looks okay. The light brown locks fell in easy waves around her shoulders. It was simple but classy. Nodding to herself in approval, Ryder grabs her jacket and purse before heads down the hall. Her and Spencer had decided to meet at the restaurant. He'd sent her the address earlier that day.

With another deep breath, the woman opens her apartment door and exits, turning to lock it behind her as her phone buzzes in her hands. Looking down, Ryder smiles down at the text from her friend.

Stevie: Good luck tonight. Let me know if I need to help you bail out.

He really was a great friend, Ryder thinks as she sends her reply, really hoping she wouldn't have to take him up on his offer.

People. People rushing or walking by. On their way home or some even to work, some going to meet with freinds or significant others. Maybe they're going out for drinks or dinner, maybe deciding to just go home for the night and relax.

Some people waiting for others, like a particular young man with shaggy brown hair standing, outside a small Italian restaurant, nervously fiddling with his hands.

He's dressed nicely, but it's not too different from his normal attire. A button up shirt, tie, and slacks. It's really all he owned other than sleeping clothes, he didn't need anything else.

He looks back and forth at the people walking, getting more nervous by the second. He had shown up early, not wanting to be late. He wondered if she would be late, or maybe right on time. The thought of her not even showing up briefly crossed his mind, not for the first time, and it didn't help with the heavy feeling in his chest.

At the sound of a loud noise, Spencer turns his head to see a group of friends, all laughing as they make their way down the street.


Jumping slightly, the tall man quickly spins around before freezing at the sight before him.

Ryder was standing there, wearing a dark purple sweater with her hair falling in more defined curls than the last time he saw her, although they were still soft. She had minimal amount of make-up on, it helped define and bring out her eyes, other than that there wasn't much else, letting the freckles that lined her nose still be seen.

"I'm sorry, did I scare you?" The young women asks him with a small frown. Great, she thinks, the date hasn't even started and she's already scared him.

"N-no, I just uh, got distracted," Spencer assures her, only partly lying. He prefers to think of it as leaving out the truth. He was distracted, that much he told her, but she did scare him a little.

"Okay," Ryder breathes a small sigh of relief. "Good." They both stand there for a moment, looking into each other's eyes before Spencer brakes the growing silence.

"Shall we?" He uses his arm to gesture into the restaurant to his left.

"Oh yes, we shall." Ryder responds with a smile and turns to small building, walking through the door as Spencer holds it open for her. Ryder honestly couldn't remember the last time someone held the door for her. Other than Steve.

After getting there seats, Ryder takes a second to look around at the little restaurant. It's bigger than she thought when she saw it from outside, she imagined it being smaller. There were a good many other people here yet it didn't seem crowded, which was good for Ryder, she hated feeling crowded. There were larger tables and smaller ones, like the one she and Spencer were sitting at. It had a darker setting to it with little lights on the ceiling, giving it a nice cozy yet spacious feeling. She really liked it.

"This place is beautiful." Ryder comments with another quick look around. "I wasn't sure if I would be underdressed or anything." She stats nervously.

"You look beautiful." Spencer says, proud of himself that he didn't stutter. Looking into his eyes, Ryder feels a blush rise in her cheeks as a smile grows on her face. She's been called pretty before, but she never really felt it until Spencer said it.

"You too." She says before she could catch herself. "I mean handsome. You look handsome, not beautiful." Ryder quickly corrects herself before looking down as heat rises in her face. Did she really just call him beautiful? Great going. Hearing a soft laugh, Ryder peaks up to look at Spencer to see him smiling at her. "I'm sorry." She winces. "I'm not very good at this."

"Me neither." Spencer admits with a small smile.

"Well, if you're up for it, we could learn together?" She asks with a nervous smile. She really hoped he's say yes.

"Y-yeah, I would like that." He tells her, watching the relief flood over her face. He could tell she was nervous, he was too. He found it odd though, how could a woman as beautiful as her be nervous around someone like him? He was nerdy and dorky, he had weird hair, how could anyone want to be with him?

"Okay, good." Ryder gives a relieved sigh. "Okay, what do people do on first dates?" She questions, more herself than Spencer. Before either of them could say anything else, the waiter comes over to take their drink order. They both get water and the waiter quickly leaves with a promise to be back soon to take down their food order.

"Have any recommendations?" Ryder asks as she looks up from her menu at the man across from her.

Spencer proceeds to tell Ryder the best things on the menu while giving her the facts and history behind each dish. He was more nervous at first, no one ever likes to listen to the random facts he can say off the top of his head. The team will listen to him, but he can see it in their faces that they're not very interested. But when he looks at the smile on Ryders face his nerves calm down. She seems to be truly interested in what he was saying and normally he wouldn't have a problem reading someone but he found himself sometimes unsure about her.

Ryder listened to Spencer tell her about his favorite foods and the histories behind them. It was interesting she thought, to learn all about it. She loved learning new things and she's always loved food, she used to help her mom cook, it was how they bonded.

They soon ordered their food and continued to talk until it came, only slowing down slightly to eat. It was a little awkward and slow at first but after they got into the rhythm of talking, time easily passed.

For the first time in a while, Reid completely forgot about work. He forgot about the cases and the horrible images that haunt his dreams most nights. He just talked. He talked about random things, nothing related to work, while smiling and laughing.

Ryder couldn't believe how easy it was to talk to Spencer, especially on the first date. She's never had much experience with first dates, but she was sure they were supposed to be harder than this.

She loved every second of it and was sad when they finished off the last of their dissert, signaling it was time to go.

"Thank you, for tonight, I had an amazing time." Ryder tells Spencer as they walk side by side down the sidewalk.

"Yeah, me too." Spencer says as he stuffs his hands into his pockets when he finds himself wanting to reach over and take her hand. He found it odd that he wanted to do that, he doesn't even shake people's hands much less hold some ones for a long period of time.

"Um.." Ryder starts to say but hesitating. "Walk me home?" She asks as she peeks up at Spencer with a hopeful smile.

"Of course." Spencer nods with a smile, looking down into her eyes. He still can't get over how beautiful she is. And that smile, he knows as long as he gets to see her smile, everything will be okay.

They didn't talk much on there walk, but their pace was slow and they stood close, arms brushing together. It was different from dinner when they talked a lot, but it wasn't any less amazing.

"Well, this is me." Ryder says as she comes to a stop in front of a gated apartment building. "Tonight was...probably the best date I've ever been on, but I honestly don't think that says much because I haven't been on many dates. Oh, not that I'm saying it wasn't great because I don't have much to compare it to, really it was amazing and I'm going to shut up now." Looking down to hide her flushed face, Ryder bites her lip and she mentally scolds herself. The night was going so well, why did she have to go and mess it up by opening her big mouth?

Hearing a quiet laugh, Ryder peeks up from under her hair to see Spencer smiling down at her. "I'm sorry, I ramble when I'm nervous. It's one of my many flaws."

"Well, from where I stand, I don't see any flaws." Spencer finds himself saying. He's not sure where the sudden confidence came from, but as he watches Ryder try to contain the huge smile on her face, he couldn't care less.

"I-I don't know what to say to that." Ryder admits when she could finally look up into Spencer's eyes again.

"You don't have to say anything, your smile is enough." Spencer tells her, again confused by the words that were coming out of his own mouth. He's never been good at talking to girls. That's always been Morgan's strong point, not his.

"How are you still single?" Ryder asks him in amazement.

"I'm not normally...You make this easy."

"Well, I'm glad, because I would really like to do this again." Ryder tells him with a smile.

"I-I would really like that too."

"Okay," Ryder says with a sigh of relief. "Well, as much as I don't want to leave your company, I have work super early in the morning."

"Yeah, yeah, of course." Spencer nods in understanding.

"Well, goodnight Spencer Reid. I really enjoyed tonight."

"As did I, goodnight, Ryder Mathews." Spencer says as he slowly steps away from her, walking backwards and keeping his eyes on her face.

"Goodnight." She calls with a wave, her smile stretching across her face.

"Goodnight." Spencer calls out before quickly turning around as his foot catches on the curb, causing him to stumble slightly. "I'm good." He shout when he looks back to see Ryder with a concerned yet amused look on her face.

"Goodnight." Ryder calls one last time with a chuckle in her voice before turning to open the gate to her apartment complex. "Goodnight, Spencer Reid." Ryder whispers to herself with a glance over her shoulder to the receding image of Spencer, her smile never faltering.

Chapter Text

"Good morning." Ryder greets Spencer with a smile as she sits across from him. He had called her the night before, asking her to breakfast before he had to get to work. Is hours are unpredictable and he wasn't sure when they would get the chance to go out again.

"Good morning." Reid greets back, smiling at the young women sitting in front of him. They both sat in the outdoor second of the little café, warmed by the morning sun shining down on them.

"So sorry I'm late, something came up with work as I was walking out my door." Ryder tells Spencer as she settles into her seat. She'd gotten a call just as she was closing her door, delaying her by a few minutes, therefore making her late.

"No, it's fine, I understand. Especially when it comes to work." Spencer nods to her, completely understanding how easily work can get in the way of your personal life. And she was only a few minutes late, he wouldn't mind waiting forever if it meant seeing her again.

"You know, you never did tell me what you did for work." Ryder says as she looks over at Spencer. They had talked a lot on their date, but the subject of work never came up for either of them.

"And you never told me what you did for work." Spencer shoots back as he quickly glances at the menu.

"Are you dodging the question, Spencer Reid?" Ryder asks with an amused smile, raising one brow.

"Technically it wasn't a question." He informs, dodging the question for a second time.

"Okay then, I'm asking. What is it that you, Spencer Reid, does for work?"

Taking a deep breath, Spencer looks over at Ryder and decides it's best to tell her now as she's going to figure it out eventually anyway. And just because she knows what he does for work, that doesn't mean he can't keep her away from it. Who knows, it might even make it easier. "I work for the FBI." He blurts out. Ripping the band-aid off, they say.

"Really?" Ryder asks, trying not to show to much surprise. Not that she thought he couldn't do it, she knew Spencer could do anything he wanted and be amazing at it, she just wasn't expecting FBI. "May I ask what it is you do for the FBI?"

"Yeah, I uh, I work with the BAU. Behavior analyst unit. We predict the behavior of criminals in order to help us catch them." Spencer tells her, trying his best to describe what he did without putting to much detail into it. He loves what he does but it's dark and evil and he'll do all he can to keep that away from Ryder.

"The BAU." Ryder whispers to herself. "Wait," She suddenly says, looking Spencer in the eye. "Do you carry a gun?"

Letting out a small laugh, Spencer nods his head, "Yes, I do carry a gun."

"I always thought about getting a gun. Can't be too careful, right?" Her mother always kept a gun in the house and Tommy has always said she should get one, she just never got around to it.

"I could probably help you with that." Spencer says just as their waitress walks over to there table, notepad in hand and a smile on her face.

"So sorry for the wait. My name is Alex, I'll be your waitress today. I can take your orders now if you're ready." The dark haired girl says to them.

"Um, I'll have orange juice with blueberry pancakes please." Ryder tells the young girl with a smile, handing over her menu when Alex offers her hand. "What?" Ryder asks when she notices Spencer looking at her after he orders his own food.

"Nothing." Spencer says, shaking his head.

"Is it my food choice? I will not apologize for liking blueberry pancakes, they've always been my favorite. My mother made the best blueberry pancakes." Ryder says sternly but with a smile, remembering all the times her mother made her blueberry pancakes. Whether it was morning or night, they were one of her favorite foods.

"No actually, blueberries can help heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health. One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of a person recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. So it's a good choice." Spencer informs her.

"Well I have to admit, I didn't know all that. I mean I assumed blueberries were on the healthy side but I never thought all that stuff." Ryder says just as their waitress comes back with their drinks.

"What about you? What do you do for work?" Spencer asks after taking a sip from his drink, getting them back on topic.

"Well, it's going to sound a little boring compared to the FBI, but I'm a photographer. That's what came up earlier, one of the models I photograph a lot called, something happened and her calendar got messed up and she needed some information." Ryder explains before taking a sip of her juice.

"That's definitely not boring." Spencer tells her as Alex walks over with their food, setting it down in front of them and making sure they didn't need anything before walking off to tend to her other tables.

"Reid?" I voice says from behind Ryder, interrupting whatever it was Spencer was about to say.

"Hotch?" Ryder hears Spencer say as she glances over her shoulder to the man standing in a suit not far behind her, a young boy beside him clinging to his hand tightly.

"Hi, Uncle Spencer." The little boy waves to Spencer, his young voice high in pitch.

"Well, are you going to introduce us?" The older man Ryder took to be Hotch asks Spencer with a glance towards her.

"Oh, uh, Ryder this is Hotch, my Boss. Hotch, this is Ryder my..." Spencer says, momentarily freezing up. What is Ryder to him? She's obviously his friend, but is she more than that? "Friend." Spencer decides to say, he's not going to say anything more without asking her first.

"Ryder Mathews, it's nice to meet you." Ryder says while trying to contain her smile at Spencer's awkwardness.

"Aaron Hotchner, nice to meet you too." Hotch nods once, noticing how she didn't offer her hand to shake despite being close enough to.

"Daddy, can I go with Uncle Spencer to get donuts?" The little boy questions his father, tugging on his hand.

"I thought we agreed on something with less sugar, Jack." Hotch says as he crouches in front of his son.

"Okay," Jack mumbles with an unhappy sigh, "But can I go with Uncle Spencer?" Looking away from his son, Hotch looks over at Reid and watches him share a glance with the young women before turning to Jack, telling him that he would love to take him to get his breakfast. Smiling, Jack grabs onto Spencer's hand, letting Spencer guide him inside.

"I'll be right back." Spencer tells Ryder with an apologetic smile.

"It's okay." Ryder assures him with a smile. She thought it was adorable and sweet. And she's always had a soft spot for children.

"Sorry about him, I don't mean to interrupt your date." Hotch says to the young women standing in front of him, using the word date to see if it got a reaction out of her. Hotch has noticed Reid acting different lately, in a good way, but he wasn't sure what had caused it. Until now anyway.

"Oh no, it's perfectly fine. I don't mind at all." Ryder tells him with a smile. She truly didn't mind waiting, but she's never been the best at starting a conversation with certain people, Spencer's boss apparently being one of those people.

"Spencer..." Hotch starts, catching Ryder's attention. "Spencer, he's been through a lot of stuff recently. But lately, I've noticed he's doing better. Are you the one I have to thank for that?"

"Um, I mean, I uh, I haven't, I.." Ryder stumbles over her words, feeling flustered suddenly. How was she supposed to respond to that?

"Well," Hotch continues once he notices that Ryder wasn't sure what to say. "Whatever you're doing, don't stop. And don't hurt him either."

Hearing Hotch say this, it was clear to Ryder that he cared about Spencer in more ways than just his boss. He had a fatherly vibe about him, she could respect that. And his son called Spencer 'Uncle' and she was sure they weren't actually related, so they must be close. She imagines people working closely for long periods of time, it would be hard not to grow close.

Nodding her head, Ryder looks Hotch in the eyes as she promises both herself and him that if she could help it, she would never hurt Spencer. "I won't."

"Daddy, look!" A small, high pitched voice calls, causing Hotch and Ryder to turn their heads and see Jack trying to walk faster towards his father with Spencer trying to keep up with him. "Uncle Spencer got me a muffin."

"I see that buddy. And what do you say?" Hotch asks his son.

"Thank you, Uncle Spencer." Jack says to Reid before taking the last few steps towards his father.

"No problem, Jack." Spencer says with a smile and a small wave towards the boy.

"Come on buddy, we got to go." Hotch holds his hand out for his son to take. "Reid, I'll see you at work." With a nod towards both Reid and Ryder, Hotch turns and leads his son away.

"Well, he seems cheery." Ryder says as she turns to Spencer.

Sensing her sarcasm, Reid gives a small laugh as he sits back down. "He can seem serious, he-he is serious, but you just got to get to know him. He's a good guy."

"You look up to him." Ryder observes, looking over the table at Spencer with a smile.

"Uh, I-I mean, uh-"

"It's a good thing." Ryder assures him. "Having someone to look up to, especially if that person is your boss."

"Yeah, I guess." Spencer says before taking a bite of his food.

"So," Ryder says, a smile playing at her lips. "Friend?"

"Oh, uh, I-" Spencer starts, stuttering as he tries to find his words.

"It's okay," Ryder cuts him off, chuckling. "I mean, this is our second date. I don't even know what we are." She says, starting to feel uncomfortable herself.

"I just didn't want to overstep." Spencer admits sheepishly.

"No, I don't think you would have been overstepping." Ryder tells him. "So if in the future you ever have to introduce me, I wouldn't mind if you called me something more than a friend."

"I-I would like that." Spencer says, matching Ryder's shy smile.

"Me too."

Finishing up there breakfast, Ryder suggest taking a walk through a nearby park after she notices they both have time before they have to be anywhere. "I love this place. I've done quite a few photo shoots here." Ryder says as she looks over the park, a peaceful smile on her lips.

"It's beautiful." Spencer agrees, looking down at Ryder more than the scenery.

"Oh, over there," Ryder says with an excited smile, grabbing Spencer's hand, pulling him to a stop before pointing to an area with a lot of flowers. "Last Halloween I did a photo shoot with a single model dressed as Disney princesses. That was one of the spots we took photos and I remember this little girl coming over all excited that she was meeting a real-life princess."

Turning her head, Ryder sees Spencer looking down, soon realizing he was looking at their connected hands. "Oh, I'm sorry." Ryder says as she goes to remove her hand from Spencer's, only to be stopped as he holds tight.

"It's okay. I-I mean if it's okay?" Spencer questions, his heart fluttering at the contact, hoping she wouldn't let go.

"Yeah, it's okay." Ryder says smiling up at him before they continue to walk, hand in hand.

But all good things come to an end as Spencer gets a call from work. It was an urgent case that he needs to rush off too, leaving Ryder to make her own way back home to get everything together for the photo shoot she had later. He apologized many times after he hung up the phone, causing Ryder to shake her head and tell him that it was okay, she understood.

"You have lives to save, don't ever apologize for that." She tells him. "Call or text me when you can, okay? Let me know you're okay."

"I-I will." Spencer says, suddenly seeming nervous.

"You okay?" Ryder asks, worried it was something from work.

"Y-yeah, uh, it's just..." Spencer trails off, biting his lip. "Nothing, it's nothing."

"You sure?" Ryder questions, knowing it wasn't "nothing", but not feeling like she had no place to push.

"Yeah, I'll call you when I can. Or text, I-I can text." Spencer says, trying to stop stuttering.

"Okay, yeah. Well, you should go, I don't want to make you late again." Ryder tells him. "Well, goodbye."

"Goodbye." Spencer says as he slowly lets go of Ryder's hand, knowing he needs to get to work fast. "I'm sorry, again."

"It's okay, I promise. Just go, don't be late?" Ryder chuckles, lightly pushing Spencer away from her.

"Okay, bye." Spencer repeats, waving as he runs off to work. I should have kissed her, Spencer thinks to himself as he makes his way to work. That's why he got so nervous so suddenly, he felt like saying goodbye wasn't good enough. It's too late now, the moments gone.

Sighing, Ryder watches until she can't see Spencer anymore before she takes one last look at the park. Turning in the opposite direction that Spencer went, Ryder makes her way home, wishing she had had the guts to kiss Spencer goodbye.

But it's too late now, moments gone.

Chapter Text

It was a few days later that the two saw each other again. The case Spencer had to run off too didn't take as long as they normally would, but neither he nor Ryder had the chance to escape from their jobs to see each other before he was called away to another case.

Ryder missed spending time with him of course, but she understood that he had to go, he was saving peoples lives, after all, making the world a safer place one criminal at a time.

And of course Spencer missed Ryder as well, he loved his job but it was hard, some cases taking bigger tolls than others. Sometimes he wished he could just leave and never come back, never have to look into the lifeless eyes of another person that would forever be saved in his head, never to be erased, and instead look into the lively eyes of Ryder Mathews, the short, brunette girl with a smile bright enough to chase away the shadows of his mind.

Like now, as she sits across from him at the little café she had first brought him too after spilling her drink on him, smiling as she looks over to him, noticing his stare.
"What?" Ryder asks him with a quiet laugh, momentarily wondering if she had gotten some crumbs on her face.

Shaking his head as he pulls himself away from his thoughts, Spencer smiles at the girl before answering with words that surprised even himself. "Nothing, just admiring the view."

Feeling the heat rise in her cheeks, Ryder hides her growing smile behind the cup in her hands, letting out another quiet laugh. "Not much to admire, really." She says after a moment, taking a small sip of her drink.

Furrowing his brows in confusion, Spencer looks at Ryder as she casts her own eyes towards the window, watching the people was the walk past, going about there day. "Not from where I'm sitting." He says, his words surprising himself again. Where were these words coming from? They didn't sound like him. He can spew out random facts and knowledge in one breath but casual conversation and, dare he say, flirting was not something that came easily to him.

Laughing a bit more loudly this time, Ryder sets her cup down and turns her full attention to Spencer, "I quite like my view as well." She says while playfully lifting one brow, her smile turning into a smirk for only a moment before she laughs once more. "How have you been?"

Smiling fondly at the young women, Spencer takes a moment before he speaks as he truly didn't know the answer to that question himself. "Not bad, how have you been?" He decides to say, drawing the attention away from himself and onto her instead.

"Alright, I suppose, you know, the normal." Ryder informs, not missing the way he quickly threw the attention away from himself. "Rough week?" She questions him softly as she studies him for a moment, noticing the way he would wring his hands occasionally.

"Huh?" Spencer asks as his attention snapping back to Ryder. "Oh, uh, normal I suppose." He finally answers, using similar words to her previous ones. Ryder knows she couldn't begin to understand what working Spencer's job is like. She's seen her fair share of evil in her lifetime, but he works day in and day out seeing probably the most evil things this world has to offer, what humans are truly capable of. She can't even imagine and wonders how he does it.

"You know," She starts after a moment, both her hands rotating her cup around the table, "For most of my life I had trouble talking to people. And I think that was because no one ever told me I could until one day someone did. And I'm not saying you don't have other people who would be willing to listen, but I want you to know that I am. I'm here and you can talk to me if you want. Or just, you know, sit in silence." She quickly adds, meaning it just as seriously as the rest, but saying it with a smile to keep the mood light.

Looking up at the young women in front of him as she shyly looks down at her cup, Spencer feels an odd warmth flooding through him. Sure he knows anyone on his team would be willing to listen to him but he's never been able to bring himself to talk to them about this stuff. He knows they see the same things he does and he doesn't want to admit the effect they have on him and seem even weaker than he already does. And he has no one else to talk to, his father hasn't been in his life for a long time now and his mother is in no condition. Not that he would tell her these things anyway, she would only worry.

"Thank you." Spencer tells her sincerely, a small smile on his face. He greatly appreciates her offer and as much as he would like having someone to talk to about everything he sees daily, he didn't think he would ever be able to completely open up to her about his work. The mind can only take so much evil before it's never the same again, whether it sees it in person or hears it in stories, and Spencer didn't want to risk Ryder having to even imagine seeing the things he does.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I need to stretch my legs. Up for a walk?" Ryder asks Spencer, the small smile she previously wore now replaced by a much bigger one.

As his own smile grows, Spencer nods as he stands from his seat and, to Ryder's slight surprise, offers his hand to the younger women.

Accepting his hand, Ryder's smile doesn't waver as the two make their way out of the café and onto the sidewalk. "So, is there any place that you, Dr. Spencer Reid, would like to take a walk?" She asks him, using his title as Dr. as she had previously learned about his many Ph.D.'s.

"There might be a place, if you're willing to stick with me." Reid tells her with a smile and a glance down at her.

"Always." She responds with a smile when their eyes meet, realizing how easy it would be to get lost in his deep brown eyes.

With a destination in mind, Reid holds tight to Ryder's hand and makes his way through people and cross streets until he makes it to the familiar park that holds more people than any other day as it was the weekend, the chess tables he often found himself at mostly full.

"And I somehow don't find myself surprised." Ryder jokingly says once she also sees the chess tables, remembering the times Spencer had mentioned the game to her. "Okay, now sit." She says before Spencer could get a word out, removing her hand from his to take hold of the camera that was hanging from her neck.

"What?" Spencer questions with a small chuckle, looking down at her.

"C' mon, it'll make a good picture." She tells him as she motions towards the empty chess table, giving him a slight pout until he shakes his head, moving to sit on the chair, feeling awkward as Ryder raised her camera to take his picture.

"Don't think about it, just act like you're playing a game." Ryder tells him, noticing his tensed shoulders and the clueless expression on his face. "Come on, please? Just humor me. Shaking his head again, Spencer laughs as he turns his attention to the bored and studies the abandoned game, reaching forward to move a piece, the faint sound of a camera shutter reaching his ears. "Perfect." Ryder mumbles as she looks down at her camera, smiling at the pictures before looking back to Spencer, making a mental note to look them over later. "I'd offer to play a game but I know you'd beat me before I even realize what was happening." She chuckles with a shy smile. Sure she knew how to place chess and she was decent, but she knew she wouldn't last playing against Spencer.

"You never know." Spencer says with a smile.

"Oh but I do know." Ryder says back with a smile as she walks closer to Spencer, joining him as he stands from his seat, taking hold of Ryder's hand once more.

"As much as I enjoyed today, I need to get back home. Photoshoot got rescheduled due to weather last week and I can't miss it." Ryder mournfully tells Spencer a little while later as the walk together, hand in hand. "Walk with me?" She asks hopefully as she looked up at him.

"Of course." Spencer nods, loving the way her eyes light up when she smiles up at him.

"Thank you so much for today, Spence, it was amazing." Ryder says to him once they reached her apartment, the rest of their walk having been spent in comfortable silence.

"Yeah, it was pretty great." Spencer responds with a smile, taking both of Ryder's hand in his had she stood in front of him, loving the way his name sounded coming from her.

"Yeah..." Ryder trails off, biting her lower lip as her eyes unintentionally drop down to Spencer's before she quickly brings them back to his eyes, noticing how his eyes had done the same.

"Kiss me?" Ryder surprises herself by asking, feeling her heart drop to her stomach at the thought of being rejected before all thoughts leave her at the feeling of Spencer's soft lips on hers.

Responding immediately, Ryder wraps her arms around Spencer's neck, lifting to the tips of her toes to reach more comfortably as she moves her lips in sync with his, his arms go around her waist.

Breaking away all too soon, Ryder keeps her arms around his neck as she catches her breath, looking up at him with what she had no doubt was a goofy smile on her face.

"Well if that's not a proper goodbye, then I don't know what is." Ryder says with a laugh, once again biting her lip as she backs away from Spencer just enough to keep her hands between his neck and shoulders, his own hands on her waist.

Ducking his head with a small laugh, Spencer feels his cheeks heat up. He had been wanted to kiss Ryder for a little while now but he didn't want to overstep, so when she asked him, he didn't waste any time.

"Thank you again, Spence. I had a great time today."

"Y-yeah, me too." Spencer said, stuttering slightly as he looked Ryder in the eye, his smile matcher her own.

"Keep in touch, yeah?" Ryder asks, her insecurities taking over, causing worry to set in. Worries that he wouldn't be interested anymore or that he never was in the first place.

"Of course." Spencer tells her seriously, easily reading the expression on her face.

"Okay." She smiles, her worries disappearing for now as she quickly rose back to the tips of her toes to give Spencer a quick kiss before backing away in fear that if she didn't, she'd stay there forever.

"Okay." Spencer repeats as he also backs away.

"Goodbye, Spencer. See you soon." Ryder decides to say instead of ask, hoping it would be true.

"Yeah, see you soon." Spencer agrees as he slowly backed away, watching rider do them same towards her apartment.

Chuckling, Ryder waves to Spencer once there farther apart and turns to her apartment, glancing over her shoulder back towards him once she reaches the door, catching his eye as he does the same thing.

Shaking her head, Ryder's smile doesn't disappear as she walks into her apartment, feeling happier than she had in a long time.

Chapter Text

"Beautiful," Steve says as he snaps another picture of the dirty blond-haired model, Natalie, earning a smile and head shake from Ryder as she looks down at her camera. He's had a crush - is it still called that when you're adults? - on her for a while now, Ryder knows, but he hasn't done anything about it.

"That's great Nat, we still on for breakfast tomorrow?" Ryder asks the older girl as she struggles to untangle the cords in her hand.

"Definitely," Natalie nods with a fond smile. She's been a model for a long time, since she was a teenager, and it's rare to find photographers that make you feel like yourself, like you're not wearing a mask. She's always found she feels comfortable in her skin around these two rather than feeling like she has to be someone else with other photographers. And Ryder's always been so sweet and kind to her.

"Great. Would you mind if Steve comes along?" Ryder questions with a glance at the older man from the corner of her eye.

"No, of course not." The model quickly says, smiling towards Steve.

"Oh, no, I couldn't impose," Steve was saying as he discretely glares towards Ryder.

"No, you wouldn't be, I'd love to have you there, Steve." Nat shakes her head, sharing a look with Ryder.

"Oh, alright," Steve gives in after clearing his throat, excusing himself to grab something for his camera.

"One sec," Ryder tells Nat with a smile before rushing after Steve. "C'mon Steve, she'd love to have you there." She repeats with a teasing smile once she catches up to her friend.

"Shut up." Steve tries to say sternly but couldn't quite keep the smile off his face.

"I mean, you come and we all sit down and I may or may not get an important phone call and have to leave you two alone..." Ryder trails off, lifting her brows with a smile as Steve gives her a look.

"I don't know, Ry." He says, suddenly serious.

"Oh Steve, I know things didn't work out with your last relationship but that was a while ago, you can't think that all relationships are going to turn out that way, you deserve to be happy, whether that's single or in a relationship," Ryder tells her friend, hating the thought of him not being happy. "And I know for a fact that this little crush isn't one-sided." She adds with a smile, lightening the mood.

"Crush? What are we, twelve?" Steve's asks rhetorically, trying to shift the attention off the topic.

"Oh but you didn't deny it." Ryder says with a laugh, nudging Steve's shoulder as they make their way back towards Natalie, a buzzing in her back pocket catching Ryder's attention. Now normally she wouldn't take phone calls while with a client but with Steve here she decided it couldn't hurt. "I'll just be a second." She mumbles to Steve when she reads Spencer's name lighting up her phone.

"Uh-huh, sure." Steve says sarcastically, also seeing Spencer's name, before continuing the walk back to Natalie.

"Hey, Spence," Ryder answers her phone, a smile on her face as she turns her back on her two friends, taking a few steps away.

"Hey." Spencer responds in a hushed voice.

"You're whispering," Ryder tells him in her own hushed voice. Why? She wasn't sure, she just found herself doing it.

"Uh, yeah. We just got done with a case, I didn't get the chance to call you before we boarded the plane." He informs her, wary of his team members not far from him.

"You landing soon?"

"Yeah, shouldn't be too much longer," Spencer hums, giving a shy smile to Emily as she walks passed him.

"Well I'd say let's grab a late dinner but I'm sure you're tired," Ryder says, looking down at her feet as she kicks the ground. She wanted to see Spencer but it really was late, she didn't want to keep him up.

"No, no, well I mean yeah, a little bit, I-I mean," Spencer stumbles over his words before pausing and taking a breath. "I would really like to get dinner with you."

"You sure?" Ryder asks him, happy she could possibly see him but not wanting him to miss out what she thought was some probably much-needed sleep.

"Yeah, I'm definitely sure," Spencer says, already feeling better just by talking to her. "Just, maybe we could skip dinner and just get ice-cream or something?" He suggested tentatively, thoughts of the cannibalistic killer causing him to lose his appetite.

"Yeah, sure. I know a place, open late, has the most amazing milkshakes." Ryder nearly gushes, a fond smile on her face as she thinks of the small diner she discovered a night many years ago, a night that had started out awful but ended with one of her favorite memories.

"Sounds amazing. I'll ah, I'll call you when I'm leaving the office."

"Okay, sounds good. See you soon."

"See you soon," Spencer repeats, waiting a few moments before hanging up the phone, Ryder following soon after.

"Okay, sorry about that guys." She says once she catches up with Natalie and Steve, the two sharing matching smirks as they look down at the shorter girl.

"What is this Steve tells me about a boyfriend? How could you not tell me?" Natalie asks her friend, no real malice in her words.

"I know, I'm sorry, just, hadn't gotten around to it yet." Ryder tells her friend with a sheepish smile.

"Well, you can run on off now." Steve tells her, drawing her confused glace towards him.


"We were basically done anyway and I know you got your shots already, go run off to be with your guy." Steve shrugs, only acting annoyed as he waves her off.

Biting her lip, Ryder turns her attention towards Natalie. "I better see you at breakfast tomorrow." She tells her, pointing a finger at her before moving to hug her.

"Of course, you guys are the best." Giving Steve a quick hug, Ryder turns away from the two before making her down the sidewalk and towards her car.

Finally arriving at her apartment, Ryder parks her car before making her way inside, the buzzing from her pocket catching her attention for the second time that night.

"Hey Spence, I was just-" Ryder starts before Spencer's voice interrupts her.

"Ryder, I am so, so sorry but I can't go out tonight."

"Oh, okay, that's alright, is everything okay?" Ryder questions with furrowed brows. She may not be a profiler like Spencer, but she can easily tell something was off by his voice.

"Um, yeah, no, um I'll call you back, okay?" Spencer rushes, feeling bad about canceling but not knowing any other way around this, having just received a call he never thought he would've.

"Yeah, yeah, okay, be safe." Ryder nods even though he can't see, worried about whatever was going on, many thoughts going through her head. She just hoped Spencer was okay.

"Okay, I'll call you later." Spencer says one last time before hanging up the phone, leaving Ryder standing in the hallway alone, phone held limply in her hand.

Finally snapping out of her thoughts, Ryder walks the last few steps to her apartment door, sliding the key in and opening it up. "I'm sure everything is fine." Ryder tells her self aloud in hopes of making herself believe it. It didn't work.

Lying her belongings on the kitchen table, Ryder makes her way into the bathroom and turns on the shower. Before entering the water, Ryder turns her ringer up as loud as it will go in case Spencer called.

The steam starts feeling the bathroom as Ryder tries to let the hot water relax her. It doesn't help. Her mind is racing, to many thoughts flying around her head. She get's out quickly

"I need a dog, or a cat." Ryder states to herself as she looks around her empty apartment, the silence sounding oddly loud. Shaking her head, Ryder turns to the kitchen, the sudden loud ringing sound causing her to jump and yelp, her phone falling from her hand and onto the hardwood floor. "Holy mother of-" She says, hand over her heart before another loud ring sounds throughout her apartment. Bending down Ryder quickly retrieves her phone, answering soon after she sees Spencer name light up her screen.

"Spence?" She asks, worry seeping from her voice. "Are you alright?"

"Um," Spencer mumbles after a moment. No, he wasn't fine in all honesty. One of his team members was fighting for her life after being shot. "Yeah," He finds himself saying instead, taking a deep breath as he leans his back against the wall, sparing a glance down the hall towards his other team members.

"I'm um, I'm at the hospital-" Spencer starts to explain, only to be cut off by Ryder as her heart drops to her stomach at hearing those words.


"No, I'm fine, I promise." Spencer hurriedly assures her, sliding down the wall until he's seated on the cold, hard ground.

"Spencer please talk to me." Ryder begs as she falls onto the couch.

Closing his eyes, Spencer takes another deep breath, hating the way Ryder's voice sounds. Confused and worried rather than her normal happy, cheery voice. "Um, one of my team members, she ah, she was shot." Reid finally forces out.

"Oh my- Spencer, I am so sorry. Is she-" Ryder says, sadness flooding her systems as she cuts herself off, not sure how to voice her question without causing Spencer more hurt.

"She's in surgery now." Spencer informs her, understanding what Ryder was thinking.

"Oh Spence, I am so sorry, do you need anything? Can I do something? I can come to the hospital or something?" Ryder spits out, wanting nothing more than to comfort him.

"No, no, it's getting late. You should just stay at home. My team and I are going to work the case." Spencer tells her, turning down her offer no matter how much he wanted to take it.

"You sure?" She questions softly.

"Yeah, I'm sure. Th-thank you though, I appreciate it." Spencer says as he looks down towards his team, catching Morgan's eye.

"Yeah, sure, just call me if you need anything, okay? And keep me updated?" Ryder asks hopefully, shifting in her seat and pulling her legs under herself.

"Yeah, yeah, I will," Spencer nods once he breaks eye contact with Morgan. "Don't stay up though, get some sleep, I'll text you when I know something."

"Okay." Ryder reluctantly agrees. "She'll be okay Spence, I'm sure of it." She tells Reid after a moment. She wishes she could tell him in person. Be there with him, to comfort him.

"Thank you, Ryder." Spencer says, wishing he could just be with her, wrap his arms around her and hide his face in her hair to escape from the reality he was currently living. But he couldn't do that now, he had to be strong and he had to be present if he was going to help Penelope.

"Of course. Call if you need anything, okay?"

"Yeah. Bye." Spencer ends the call after hearing Ryder's soft 'bye', afraid that if he didn't do it now, he'd never hang up. Taking one last deep breath, Spencer stands from his spot on the floor and walks back over to the rest of the team.

"Who was that?" Morgan asks him, nodding his head towards Spencer phone as he slips it into his pocket.

"Uh, no one." Spencer poorly lies, saved from any more questions as an old man in scrubs walks over to them, gaining the whole team's attention.

"Penelope Garcia?" He asks, looking down at a chart in his hands.

"Yes." Emily and Hotch say in unison.

"The bullet went in her chest and ricocheted into her abdomen. She lost a lot of blood. It was touch-and-go for a while, but we were able to repair the injuries." The doctor informs them.

"So what are you saying?" JJ questions.

"One centimeter over and it would have torn right through her heart. Instead, she could actually walk out of here in a couple of days." The doctor tells them, earning relieved sighs from everyone. "And I'd say that's a minor miracle. She needs her rest. You can see her in the morning."

"David and I will go to the scene, I think the rest of you should be here when she wakes up. I don't care about protocol, I don't care whether we're working this officially or not. We don't touch any new cases until we find out who did this." Hotch tells his team, earning nods of agreement from everyone.

Feeling as if a weight had been lifted from his heart, Spencer once again steps away from his remaining team members and pulls out his phone. It hadn't been that long since he talked to Ryder but he didn't want to risk calling her and waking her up. So instead Spencer writes out a text letting her know that Penelope was okay, smiling when she texts back almost immediately.

"Nobody?" Morgan's voice sounds from behind him, causing Spencer to jump slightly.

"What?" Spencer asks, sliding his phone back into his pocket.

Giving Spencer a small smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, Morgan decides to drop the subject for now and instead asks, "I was gonna go get coffee for everyone, want a cup?"

"Uh, yeah, sure. Thanks, Morgan." Spencer nods, glad he didn't push the subject anymore. Call him selfish, but Spencer wasn't ready to share Ryder with the team. Hotch already knew about her by accident, but Reid knew he wouldn't say anything to the rest of the team.

He would tell them, one day. Today just wasn't that day.

It was a few days later that Ryder really heard from Spencer. He had sent her texts when he got that chance, letting her know he was okay and that he and his team were still working on the case, until they finally caught the guy. He had called her earlier that day and Ryder suggested they go out for those milkshakes they never got the chance to, promising him they'd make him feel better.

That's how Ryder finds herself walking down the sidewalk in the direction of the diner.

Hearing a ding from her phone, Ryder removes it from her back pocket and looks down at the screen, but before she was able to see who it was, Ryder bumps shoulders with someone passing by, causing her to drop her phone. "Oh, I'm sorry.." Ryder tries to apologize, trailing off when the man keeps walking passed her like nothing even happened. "Okay then." Bending down, Ryder picks up her phone and continues on her way, glancing over the shoulder to where she could still see the hunched form of the man she had bumped into.

Shaking her head, Ryder slips her phone back into her pocket, the message she had received long forgotten as she continues her way to the diner, catching sight of Spencer as she neared it. "Hello, stranger." She greets him with a smile that only grows when he takes hold of her hand before kissing her.

"Hey." Spencer greets back, smiling down at the shorter girl, studying the way her smile lights up her beautiful face.

"Rough few days?" Ryder asks him, smile gone from her face as she gives his hand a light squeeze.

"Yeah, better now though." Spencer tells her, successfully bringing the smile back to her face as Spencer leans down for another kiss.

"Wanna go in?" Ryder questions once they pull away.

Nodding his answer, Spencer holds tight to Ryder's hand as she leads him inside the diner and over to a booth where she sits across from him. "I love this place, actually did a photoshoot here once. I used to come all the time with my brother." Ryder tells him, smiling fondly as she looks around the retro diner.

"What's your brother's name?" 

"Tommy." Ryder quickly says before correcting herself. "Well, Tom I guess, I'm the only one who calls him Tommy. Do you have any siblings?"

"Um, no, no, I'm an only child." Spencer tells Ryder right as an older waitress comes over to take their order.

"Ryder, dear, haven't seen you in a while. How are you doing sweetie?" The strawberry-blonde lady asks the younger women, the wrinkles around her eyes more prominent when she smiles.

"I'm good Ms. Linda, just been busy, how about you?" She kindly asks the older women she's known since she was a teenager.

"Oh you know, same old same old. How's Tom doing? You heard from him recently?" Sitting back in his seat, Spencer watches the scene in front of him, noticing the way Ryder's smile drops slightly as she answers the older women's question.

"No, not recently." Ryder shakes her head with a small frown.

"Oh that's alright sweetie, I'm sure he's just fine." Linda says while placing a comforting hand on Ryder's shoulder for a moment before turning to Spencer. "And who might this handsome young man be?"

Chuckling at how uncomfortable Spencer suddenly looks, Ryder's gaze shifts to him as she answers Linda's question, her eyes not leaving his. "This is Spencer, my boyfriend?" She hesitates slightly and it ends up sounding more like a question. She and Spencer never talked about it, she had mentioned something that one time but they never actually used the words boyfriend and girlfriend.

"Yeah." Spencer agrees, nodding his head.

"Oh, how wonderful." Linda says with a big smile. She's known Ryder since she was a teenager, having known her brother since he was little as their mother liked to bring him here growing up. Ryder and Tom were almost like grandchildren to her. "Well, what can I get the lovely couple today?"

"Well I know I said milkshakes but I'm actually a little hungry." Ryder admits to Spencer with a sheepish smile.

Chuckling, Spencer agrees and they both end up ordering a burger and fries with their milkshakes.

"If you don't mind me asking," Spencer starts once Linda walks away to prepare their order. "Where is your brother?"

"No, that's okay. Tommy is in the army. He ah, he got deployed about five months ago." Ryder says as she plays with a napkin to distract herself, Spencer's hand soon finding hers as he reaches across the table. "I mean it's not the first time, you know? He enlisted when he was twenty, he's been gone before and he's always come back but it doesn't make it any easier."

"I'm sorry." Spencer's voice is sincere when he gives Ryder's hand a comforting squeeze.

"Thanks Spence." Just then Linda comes back with their food and milkshakes, causing the two to break contact to allow her to set down there plates on the table. "Thank you, Ms. Linda." Ryder says with a smile towards the older lady before she walks off, leaving the two alone once again.

"What about your parents?" Spencer asks after a few minutes, looking over at Ryder as she twirls a French fry around in some ketchup.

"Oh well, you see that answer is a bit more complicated." She tells him, looking down at her food.

"You don't have to tell me." Spencer quickly says. He knows very well what it's like to not want to talk about something. 

"No, no, it's okay. Just..." Ryder trails off, looking up at Spencer and giving him a smile that didn't reach her eyes. She liked talking to Spencer, she found it oddly easy, but she didn't want to unload all of her baggage on him, what if he decided to leave her for it? No, Spencer wouldn't do that. With this in mind, Ryder takes a deep breath before she starts speaking.

"My mother, Eleanor was her name, uh, she passed away three years ago." She says while avoiding Spencer's eyes, speaking again before he could say anything. "And don't get me wrong when I say this, Eleanor was a great mother and I loved her but she wasn't my real mother."

Feeling Spencer's confused gaze burning holes into the top of her head, Ryder looks up to meet his eyes. "She adopted me when I was fifteen. Um, her husband had died a few years prior and she'd always wanted another kid, but she was getting older and without her husband around she didn't think she could raise a baby so she decided to adopt older." Ryder shrugs while gesturing to herself, letting out a small laugh that holds no humor.

"Tommy was actually adopted too, just when he was a baby. Mom and her husband tried for years and couldn't have kids so they decided to adopt." Ryder continues before rubbing her face, letting out another laugh. "I'm sorry, that was a lot and I just kind of dumped it on you."

Quickly standing from his seat, Spencer moves to sit next to Ryder and gently grabs hold of her wrists and pulls them away from her face, holding her hands in his lap. "Please don't be sorry." He tells her, removing one of his hands from hers to gently turn her head towards him.

Feeling Spencer's feather-light touch on her jaw, Ryder slowly turns her head up to meet his eyes, smiling softly when she sees the look in his eyes. Not judgmental or annoyed but acceptance and understanding.

"You can always talk to me." He tells her with his own soft smile, happy she was able to open up to him.

"Thank you." Ryder mumbles, her heart swelling with happiness at the amazing man sitting across from her. "You don't know how much that means to me."

"Come here." Spencer places his arm around Ryder's shoulder and pulls her into his side. Wrapping her arms around his waist, Ryder rests her head against Spencer's chest, the sound of his heartbeat relaxing her. Placing a light kiss to the top of Ryder's head, Spencer asks, "You ready to go?"

Nodding, Ryder pulls away from Spencer and smiles at him, sliding out of the booth after Spencer, grabbing his offered hand before leaving the diner, paying on their way out which Spencer insists on doing.

"So, I'm free for the rest of the day if you're not tired of me yet." Ryder tells Spencer as they walk down the sidewalk, one of her hands in his, the other resting on his arm.

"I'll never be tired of you." Spencer responds, looking down when he feels a pressure on his shoulder, seeing she's leaned her head against him.

"Well, we'll see about that." Ryder jokes. Slowing to a stop, Spencer turns and looks down at Ryder, and gently places his hands on either side of her face before leaning down to kiss her, Ryder's own hands coming to hold his wrists as she returns his kiss.

"Did you know that you are a really good kisser?" Ryder asks him with a smirk after pulling away.

Blushing, Spencer smiles as he looks down, lowering his hands to take hold of hers. "Can't say I've ever been told that before."

"Well, you are." Ryder tells him, smiling at how cute he looks when he became shy. "C'mon." Tugging on his hand, Ryder starts leading him away. "You willing to stick with me a little longer?"

"Always." Spencer answers, the smile never leaving his face.

Chapter Text

"Reid," Hotch calls to the youngest team member as he approaches his desk late one night after a case. "Reid?" He says again once he's closer when he doesn't receive an answer.

"Huh?" Spencer mumbles in response to his boss, only sparing a glance at the older man towering over him.

"It's late." Hotch reminds him.

"Yeah, I'll head out in a bit," Spencer tells him without looking up from his desk.

Hotch knows this last case wasn't easy for Spencer after he had to watch a kid get gunned down. Whether he was the unsub or not, something like that is never easy. No matter how he acts around the team, Hotch knows he has a hard time dealing with some things. He's just always thought it was best to wait instead of trying to get him to talk because he knows Spencer won't talk unless he wants to.

"Reid," Hotch says once more, finally gaining the younger mans attention. Opening his mouth to say something else, Hotch gets interrupted by Spencer's phone vibrating on the desk. "I think you should answer that." He decides to say when he sees who's name was on the small screen before walking away and back up to his office, pausing at his door to look back to Reid. Watching him as he brings the phone to his ear, a small smile appearing on the younger mans face.

Hotch had noticed a change in Reid's behavior. He hadn't been in a good place after the Tobias incident and although he had gotten better he knew it still wasn't easy on him and then Gideon leaving hit Spencer hard. But he'd noticed a change in him lately, a good change. Then that one day he was able to take Jack out for breakfast and he saw Spencer with a beautiful young women, huge smiles on both of their faces, he knew then that she was the reason Spencer was doing better.

And watching him now, a smile slowly taking over his face as he talks with her on the phone, standing to collect his jacket and messenger bag, Hotch knows she's helping him and knowing that, he couldn't stop the tiny grin that pulled at his lips.

"So I know it's getting late but I may or may not have ordered way too much Chinese food and there's no way I can eat it all and it's never the same after spending the night in the fridge so I was thinking if you were hungry, maybe you could come help me not waste food?" Ryder rambles in a hurried voice after Spencer answers his phone.

"How much food did you get exactly?" Spencer asks her, a smile slowly coming to his face.

Pausing in her back and forth pacing, Ryder looks over at her coffee that was now covered in Chinese take out boxes and bites her lip. "Well, you see, I may have thought I was more hungry than I was and everything on the menu looked really good."

"You ordered everything on the menu?" Spencer questions with an incredulous laugh.

"Well..." Ryder trails off with another glance towards the food. "Not everything, just, a lot of it. Maybe most of it." She mumbles, twirling a strand of hair around her finger.

"Wow." Spencer says as he stands from his desk, grabbing his jacket and messenger bag.

"Oh don't make fun of me, are you going to come help me or not?" She asks, a pout in her voice as she finally stops moving and takes a seat on her couch.

Laughing, Spencer loops his messenger bag over his shoulder as he answers his girlfriend. "Okay, okay, I'm coming." He tells her with a laugh, waving to Hotch as he turns to leave, swearing he saw a small smile on the man's face.

"Okay, good."

"I'll be there as soon as I can." Reid tells her as he waits for the elevator.

"Okay, see you then." Ryder says, fidgeting the sleeve of her sweater.

"See you then." Spencer repeats before hanging up the phone and stepping onto the elevator. The details of his last case slowly slipping from his mind.

The thought of Spencer being inside of her apartment finally hits Ryder and she jumps up from the couch to look around quickly, making sure the place was in order and even though it all seemed to be, she still walks around, straightening things up. She realizes that she's just nervous after straightening the flowers on her kitchen table for the third time. "Geez Ryder, calm down." She tells herself as her phone ding from the couch.

Reading the message from Spencer telling her that he was almost there, she quickly texts him back with her apartment number before going back to her pacing until she hears a knock on her door.

Giving her apartment one last glance, Ryder walks to her door and opens it, smiling up at Spencer. "My hero." She says with a smile, moving to the side to allow him entrance. "I do hope you're hungry."

Smiling down at Ryder, her large sweater basically swallowing her as it goes passed her hands and down to her mid-thighs, tendrils of hair falling from the messy bun she had her hair in. Spencer can't help but think she looks adorable as she leads him over to her couch where he finally sees how much food she ordered.

"Wow, you really did order the whole menu." He jokes, hands by his side.

"I did not." Ryder says defensively, lightly slapping Spencer's shoulder, only earning her a laugh from her boyfriend.

"Hey." Spencer says after turn towards Ryder, hands leaving his side to reach out and find hers, the fabric of her sweater feeling soft in his hands.

"Hey." Ryder says back, lifting onto her toes to kiss him. "How was your day?"

"Uh, maybe we could talk about your day instead?" Spencer suggests. The last thing he wanted to do was talk about his day.

"Yeah, okay." Ryder agrees, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her chin on his chest as she looks up at him. He didn't have a good day, she could tell that, but something else was different but she wasn't going to push. If he wanted to talk he would, she couldn't push it, she just had to keep letting him know that she was there for him. "I'm here, you know."

"I know." Spencer tells her, placing a kiss on her nose before moving to her lips.

"Just don't forget it." She says, turning her head to rest fully against his chest, tightening her arms around him as his own wrap around her shoulders. "The foods gonna get cold." Ryder reminds him after a moment of standing in silence.

Chuckling, Spencer pulls back from the hug and removes his bag from his shoulder and sets it on the couch as Ryder walks around and takes a seat, Spencer soon joining her."Okay, there's a lot so just dig  in." Ryder tells him, turning the volume up on the tv slightly.

"Okay, no, here let me show you." Ryder says while leaning over to Spencer, taking his hands in her own to position the chopsticks correctly. "Just hold them between your fingers like this and just move them back and forth."

"It's just not practical." Spencer grumbles, drawing a laugh from Ryder.

"Do you want a fork?" Ryder asks him after another failed attempt.

"Please?" He nods, watching Ryder stand from the couch and walk over to the kitchen, pulling two forks from the drawer, returning and handing one to him, using the other one for herself which he found odd because she had no trouble using the chopsticks as he had.

"What?" Ryder questions when she catches Spencer eyeing her fork. "Chopsticks, what can I say? They're not very practical."

After finishing as much food as they could, Ryder snuggles into Spencer's side as they watched a random movie that was on tv, enjoying each others company.

"Thank you." Spencer whispers to Ryder, pulling her closer. Understanding that he meant more than just for the food, Ryder only nods her head and she relaxes against Spencer, enjoying the comfort and warmth he was giving off.

Looking down at the girl in his arms, Spencer feels a smile come to his face. He wasn't sure how he got so lucky but he did and he couldn't be happier. Being with Ryder he was able to forget, forget all the bad things he sees every day. This last case had ended badly and he knows it was only the first of many more to come but he was able to forget about that and be happy when he was with her.

Spencer was starting to think he couldn't be without her.

Chapter Text


Spencer and Ryder continue to see each other when they can, between both their jobs. Spencer busy with cases and Ryder busy with her work, Photoshoots along with a few meetings and editing. The last few times Spencer has seen Ryder he opened up to her a bit more. He didn't go into detail with anything, he just told her he had gone through something bad a little while back and sometimes had trouble. Trouble dealing with things and when he saw that kid killed in front of him he wasn't in the best of places. Although he hadn't told her that's what happened, he just said a case had ended badly.

It was hard for him, but easier than he'd thought it would be to talk about it. And although he didn't get into detail, Spencer felt much better after talking to Ryder. And he was eternally grateful that she still accepted him.

He hadn't realized how long he had been talking one night and ended up there passed midnight and Ryder had offered to let him stay so he wouldn't have to travel home so late. He was hesitant at first, he didn't want to impose or make her uncomfortable but she had insisted with that smile of her's and he couldn't resist.

So he stayed the night, sleeping soundly with his arms wrapped around Ryder. He would be lying if he said it wasn't the best nights sleep he's had in a long time.

Waking the next morning, Ryder rubs her foggy eyes before looking up at Spencer's sleeping face. He was adorable when he was sleep, Ryder thinks as she carefully detangles herself from his arms without waking him up. Sneaking out of her bedroom, Ryder quietly makes her way down the hall and into the kitchen with the plan to make breakfast. Spencer had opened up to her last night and although he didn't use a lot of detail she was happy he was starting to trust her. It made her feel all warm inside.

She didn't have a coffee maker because she never drinks the stuff so she couldn't make him coffee but she knows she made killer pancakes. So collecting all the ingredients, Ryder starts mixing everything up, grabbing some fresh blueberries from the fridge to put in her own.

"Morning." A groggy voice says from behind Ryder as she stirs the pancake batter, causing her to turn to see Reid standing in front of the kitchen, hair tousled from sleep, his white undershirt wrinkled.

"Goodmorning." Ryder greets with a smile, setting the bowl down before walking up to him, trying to smooth down his wild hair.

"Why are you so cheery?" Spencer asks her as he rests his head on her shoulder, hands holding her waist. Don't get him wrong, he slept great last night, doesn't mean he wanted to get up just yet.

"Because I get to make my amazing pancakes for my amazing boyfriend." She tells him with a smile, her hands covering his to keep them on her waist as she leans back to look Spencer in the face.

"Pancakes?" Spencer asks, perking up a bit.

"Yup. I'm putting blueberries in mine." Ryder states while turning away to continue cooking.

"Of course you are." Spencer mumbles, coming to stand behind Ryder, his arms wrapping around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder.

"Oh shut up." Ryder shoots back playfully. "I'm sorry I don't have a coffee maker or anything, just juice."

"That's okay." Spencer says, kissing her cheek and moving away from her towards the fridge, opening it to grab the orange juice before setting it on the counter, going to the cabinet to grab two cups. Leaning his back against the counter behind Ryder, he watches her as she cooks, not able to keep the smile from his face. He was so happy right now as he watches her, he thinks she looks adorable. She had pulled her hair into a messy bun on top of her head, still in her pajama shorts and a batman T-shirt.

"You're staring." Ryder tells him with a smirk, looking at him from over her shoulder.

"It's kind of hard not too." Spencer responds before pouring both of them a drink while Ryder brings two plates over, coming around the counter to sit on one of the barstools.

"Please, I'm still in my pajamas." Ryder says, looking down to hide the blush rising in her cheeks.

"You're beautiful." Spencer mumbles as he lifts her head with a hand under her chin, leaning down to kiss her. Pulling away, Ryder smiles and shakes her head. She would never get tired of hearing that.

Settling into a comfortable silence, the couple eats their breakfast until Ryder speaks up as she finishes her food. "You still going to a meeting tonight?"

"Yeah." Answeres Spencer after taking a sip of his drink.

"You want to come over after?" She asks, knowing he shouldn't be alone. A head nod was the only answer she receives, so it was Ryder's turn to use her hand and turn Spencers head towards her and place a kiss on his lips. "You want to shower before you go into work?"

"Mhm." Spencer hums his answer, eyes still closed as Ryder gives him another quick kiss.

"Okay, there are clean towels in the bathroom, you go shower and I'll wash the dishes and change. Maybe I can drive you to work? We can stop for coffee on the way." She asks hopefully, smiling when Spencer agrees before going to take a shower, leaving Ryder to quickly wash the dishes and change.

"Call me tonight, I can pick you up if you want." Ryder tells Spencer as they say their goodbyes for the day.

"Okay, I might just take you up on that." Spencer says with a grin, his hand sliding around the back of her neck as they lean across the car to give each other a parting kiss.

"Okay, have a good day." Ryder mutters when they separated, giving Spencer a smile and wave as he exited the car.

With the way the day started, Spencer figured it would be hard to have a bad day at this point. Or at least he hoped he was right.

Having to call and tell Ryder he had a case was not how Spencer saw his night going, but he wasn't surprised either. Ryder had told him she understood like she had every other time he had to cancel for a case and she told him she'd be there when he got back. He feels guilty for canceling on her all the time, the way she always says she understood somehow making him feel even worse. He wasn't sure why, but it did.

He should have known when that morning started so good that he was going to have a bad next few days.

When he got to the office to start the case he had been late, resulting in teasing from his team members and then the case started and he saw so much of himself in the unsub. It got to him and he took out his anger on everyone around him. He was angry that everyone around this kid didn't do anything to help him when he so obviously needed it. It reminded him of when he was a kid in school, all the things that happened to him.

He realized he was being unprofessional but he couldn't help it and he found himself lashing out at others, even going to the extent to lie to Hotch and confront the dangerous unsub, risking his life and others in doing so.

It's later that night on the plane headed home as Spencer twirls his phone in his hands that Hotch came to talk to him, "You knowingly jeopardized your life and the lives of others, I should fire you. You're the smarted kid in the room, but you're not the only one in that room. You pull something like this again, you will be. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir." Spencer tells his boss with a nod of his head. "It won't happen again. Thank you."

"What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking that that would have been the second time a kid died in front of me." Spencer says, looking down at his phone to avoid his boss's eyes.

"You're keeping score, just like Owen."

"It was my turn to save one."

"It doesn't work like that."

"It should." Spencer says to him, a humorless smile on his face.

"I know it's painful when the person you identify with is the bad guy."

"What's that make me?" Spencer asks, finally looking up to meet Hotch's gaze.

"Good at the job." Hotch tells him. Hotch wasn't one to show emotion much, but it definitely didn't mean he had none. "I know it's none of my business, but I think you should make that phone call." He  nods his head towards Spencer's phone.

Nodding, Spencer looks back down at his phone. He had been thinking about calling Ryder since before he boarded the plane. He wasn't sure why he didn't just do it, but something was holding him back. He knew whatever it was had to do with this case and the feelings and memories it brought with it.

But he decided to ignore those feelings as thoughts of Ryder's voice floods through his head, telling him it didn't matter, that he could talk to her, that she was there for him. So picking up his phone, Spencer quickly calls her, looking over his shoulder at his sleeping team members.

"Spence?" Ryder's voice says, sounding through his ear as he closes his eyes, leaning back in his seat.

"Hey." He responds quietly.

"What's wrong?" 

"Rough case." Spencer says, knowing he didn't have to say anything more.

"You almost back?"


"I'll be here." Ryder says, letting him know he could come to her if he wanted.

"Thank you."

"You don't have to thank me." Ryder tells Spencer, feeling her heart clench in pain at the sound of his tired, defeated voice.

"Stay on the phone with me?" Spencer nearly pleads, never once opening his eyes.

"Of course."

And she does, Ryder stays on the phone with Spencer until he lands. Going between small talk and not talking at all until she has to hang up, offering to pick him up at the office to which he declines, saying he had a few things to take care of first.

And what felt like forever later, a small knock sounds at her door, causing Ryder to jump up from the couch and open it, immediately wrapping her arms around Spencer's neck, his own going around her waist. "Do you want to talk about it?" She questions, her voice slightly muffled by Reid's shoulder. Tightening his hold on Ryder, Spencer shakes his head as he buries his face further into the crook of her neck. "That's okay, you don't have to." She reassures him, her left hand coming up to play with his long hair.

"I will," Spencer tells her, reluctantly pulling away from Ryder's warm embrace. "Just not right now, if that's okay."

"Of course that's okay." Ryder nods, stepping back into her apartment, allowing Spencer to do the same. "Are you hungry, or anything?" She asks him after he sets his bag down by the couch, coming back to stand in front of her.

"Not really." He mumbles, playing with her fingers and avoiding her eyes. "You have small fingers." Laughing at Spencer's random statement, Ryder moves her hand flat against his own, the size difference very obvious. "See, small." Spencer says as he takes both of Ryder's hands in his own, covering them both completely.

"How do you know my hands are small and your's aren't just big?" Ryder asks, confusing herself a little.

"What?" Spencer asks with a laugh.

"I don't even know." Ryder says, laughing as well. "But hey, I got you to laugh."

"Yeah, you did." Says Spencer, leaning down to place a kiss on Ryder's lips.

After they separate, Ryder leads Spencer over to the couch where she turns on the tv and cuddles into his side while they watch in silence for a while. Ryder knows Spencer has a lot on his mind when he doesn't say anything about the movie, never pointing out the mistakes or anything. He just sits there in silence, playing with her hair. She wasn't going to push him to talk, she didn't think that's what he needed right now, and she trusts he would talk when he was ready. And her thoughts were confirmed as Spencer's voice broke the silence between them.

"He reminded me of myself." Is all he says, his hand still brushing through her hair, his eyes never leaving the tv.

"Huh?" Ryder asks him softly, turning her head to look up at his face.

"The unsub." Spencer mumbles before realizing Ryder probably didn't know what that was and corrected himself. "The bad guy."

"Oh, Spence." Ryder sighs sadly, reaching up to turn his head towards her so she could look him in the eye, any words she had dying on her lips when she sees the emotions behind them.

"He was just like me, tormented in school, absent parent. Poor kid just needed help and no one around him did anything." Spencer leans into the hand Ryder places on his cheek but doesn't meet her eyes.

"Spencer look at me." Ryder says more sternly than before, causing his eyes to snap to hers. "You are not and never will be a bad guy. You went through some horrible stuff when you were growing up but you didn't let that define who you are. You are one of the greatest people I've ever met. And please don't ever think otherwise." Grabbing her wrist, Spencer pulls on her arm, bringing it around his neck as he pulls her closer, burying his face in her shoulder.

Allowing him to pull her closer, Ryder wraps her arms around hm and runs her fingers through his hair, laughing when she feels Spencer place a kiss on her neck. "Are you ticklish?" Spencer asks her, pulling away just enough to see her face.

"No, maybe, yes, a little." Ryder reluctantly says, knowing there wasn't any way to get around it.

"How about here?" Spencer asks before squeezing her sides, drawing a surprised squeak from Ryder.

"Spencer!" Unable to control her giggles, Ryder grabs Spencer's wrist in a poor attempt to stop him. "Spencer, stop." She says, laughing hard enough to bring tears to her eyes.

"But you're so cute when you laugh." Spencer tells her, stopping his movement but not removing his hands from her sides.

Catching her breath, Ryder wipes the tears from her eyes, attempting to glare at Spencer, only resulting in her laughing even more. "There are other ways to make me laugh that doesn't involve tickling me to death." She tells him, tapping him on the chest.

"How did I get so lucky?" Reid asks, looking down into Ryder's eyes, smiling fondly at her.

"No, I think I'm the lucky one." Ryder tells him, reaching up to push some hair out of his face.

"You'd lose that argument," Spencer responds before leaning down to place a kiss to her lips, Ryder responding immediately by wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer.

Truth was, they were both lucky. Running into each other that morning was the best thing that ever happened to them, and their lives would never be the same because of it.

Chapter Text

"Hey, Reid," Morgan says as he walks up to his team member and friend, watching the younger man pack up for the night. "You up for drinks?"

"Not tonight, Morgan." Spencer tells him without stopping in his movements, having just texted Ryder to inform her he was leaving work.

"C'mon man, why not? You haven't been out with us in a while." Morgan groans, suspicious of the kid. He had been turning down all the offers for drinks and food after cases lately. At first, he had been worried, thinking his friend hadn't been doing well but that worry soon left his mind when he noticed Reid's behavior. The lack of bags under his eyes, his light attitude, smiling and joking around. Well, as much as Reid can joke.

"Another time, Morgan." Spencer says as he throws his messenger bags strap over his shoulder.

"Another time, what?" Emily asks as she approaches the two.

"Pretty boy here is turning down drinks, again." Morgan tells her as he sits on the edge of Spencer's desk.

"Again? Come on, Reid, I feel like we never see you outside work anymore." Emily tells her younger team member.

"Sorry guys," Reid shrugs apologetically. He was sorry, he enjoys his team's company and he feels guilty for not telling them about Ryder but he just wasn't ready yet. He felt that the moment the team knew about her it wouldn't be the same. She was his escape from work and everything connected to it. If they know, he's afraid it won't be the same. But deep down he knows that's not true, he just wasn't ready to tell them. "Next time."

"That's what you said last time." Morgan points out, grabbing Spencer's jacket before he can.

"Morgan." Spencer sighs, looking at the older man.

"He's right, Reid, you've said that the last two times actually," Emily says, coming to stand next to Morgan as they both observe Spencer with curious eyes.

"Yeah, he did, didn't he?" Morgan questions, holding Spencer's jacket behind his back.

"I've just been busy." Was Spencer's poor excuse.

"Uh-huh." Emily says in disbelief as Spencer tries to reach around Morgan to get his jacket.

"Not so fast, pretty boy. Just tell us what you've been doing." Morgan say, keeping the jacket from Spencer's reach. "Or who." He adds with a smirk, watching the heat rise in Spencer's cheeks.

"It's not like that." Spencer tells him after another failed attempt to get his jacket. Morgan's teasing is a small reason he wants to keep Ryder to himself.

"Oh, yeah? Then what is it like?" Asks Morgan, smiling at his younger team member.

"You know what? Keep it." Spencer shrugs, referring to his Jacket before turning and walking out of the office. He has to meet Ryder and he can't be late.

"Wait, Reid!" Emily calls after him, smiling as she watches Spencer enter the elevator. "What do you think that was about?" She asks Morgan, turning to look at him as he regards Spencer's jacket with squinted eyes.

"I'm not sure, but I'm gonna find out." He tells Emily, sharing a laugh with her, setting Reid's jacket on his desk.

And he was going to stand by those words. One way or another he was going to find out his friends secret.

"I'm so sorry I'm late." Is the first thing Spencer says when he sees Ryder. "You look amazing." He adds once he gets the chance to look at her properly.

Chuckling, Ryder moves away from the door, leaving Spencer to enter and close it behind him. "Don't worry about it, you're right on time. They're not even here yet."

"Good." Spencer mumbles, a sigh of relief escaping his lips as he looked at Ryder. She did look amazing - not that she doesn't always - in a short flowy, dark blue skirt, her legs covered by black leggings, her grey, V-neck top swooping down, showing the top of her chest.

"How was your day?" She asks while clicking on her last earing before coming to stand in front of him. 

"Not bad. Got interrogated by Morgan." He informs her after a quick kiss, watching an amused smile come to her face. "He took my jacket."

"Aww, he's just curious." Ryder tells him as she straightens his tie. "You know, you can tell them about me." She states hesitantly.

"I know," He admits with a sigh as he looks at the ground. "Just not yet."

"Okay," Ryder nods, not voicing her thoughts on the matter any further. She was a little hurt that he didn't want to introduce her to his team but she also understood why he didn't. She wasn't going to push him on the matter, it would only cause more harm than good. "That must be them." Ryder says when I knock sounds at the door.

"Ah, don't you look beautiful." Natalie gushes with a smile when Ryder opens the door to reveal her and Steve.

"I could say the same about you but that's nothing new." Ryder grins at her friend. The model never looks anything but perfect. It must be exhausting, Ryder thinks.

"Oh, shut up, you always look great." Natalie lightly hits Ryder's shoulder before Ryder moves to let her friends enter. 

"Hey, Steve." Ryder greets her friend with a short hug before turning back to Spencer, seeing him standing a little ways away, hands in his pockets as he shifts uncomfortably. "Natalie, Steve," Ryder starts as she walks to stand next to her boyfriend. "This is Spencer. Please play nice." She adds the last part as an afterthought, only half-joking.

"When have you known me to do anything but?" Steve asks as he approaches Spencer, sending Ryder a playful smirk.

"Oh, I can name a few occasions." She mumbles as Steve pats Spencer's shoulder.

"Oh, Spencer just so you know," Steve starts, looking the other man straight in the eye. "If you hurt her, no one will ever be able to find your body."

"Okay!" Ryder announces loudly, grabbing Spencer's hand. "That's enough of that. We'll be late. And I'm pretty sure it's against the law the threaten a federal agent."

"I wasn't threatening," Steve says defensively, taking Natalie's hand as they make their way to the door. "Just warning."

"Okay, well, either way, please don't do it." Ryder tells him with a smile, appreciating the thought. Steve and Ryder have known each other for years, he was like her second older brother, he was naturally protective of the younger girl.

From Ryder's apartment, the four of them walk to a restaurant nearby where they all sat down and talk, Ryder's friends getting to know Spencer, avoiding the topic of his work as Ryder had asked them too beforehand.

"He's cute, I like him." Natalie states as they walk together behind the two men down the sidewalk, watching them as they have a conversation about something.

"Yeah, he is cute, isn't he?" Ryder asks with a laugh without taking her eyes off Spencer.

"Oh man, you are in deep." Her friend tells her, drawing Ryder's confused eyes to her.


"Oh come on, you make it so obvious." Says Natalie, not helping Ryder's confusion. "You're in love." She finally whisper shouts.

"What!" Ryder squeaks, momentarily drawing the two men's attention. "What?" She repeats, keeping her voice barely above a whisper.

"Well, it's not a bad thing." Natalie assures her friend, only slightly surprised by her reaction. "You guys are cute together and he obviously feels the same. He's barely been able to take his eyes off you all night."

"You're being ridiculous." Ryder dismisses, her eyes on Spencer as he walks ahead of her.

"Oh, I'm the one being ridiculous?" Natalie asks her friend with a smile, throwing her arm around the short girl's shoulders. "You're in denial, Ry."

Rolling her eyes at her friend, Ryder wraps her arm around her waist as they continue their walk, no particular destination in mind. "Thanks for coming out tonight, I appreciate it."

"Of course, I've been dying to meet your man."

"I'm just surprised Steve finally asked you out."

"Yeah, I thought he'd never do it. He said something about someone giving him some really good advice." Nat says with a smirk towards Ryder.

"Good advice, huh? Wonder who that could've been."

"Yeah, I wonder." Laughing, the two girls continue until they catch up with Spencer and Steve, pulling away from each other to stand next to their boyfriends. "Well, Steve, why don't we go on? Leave these two love birds by themselves."

"Great idea, Nat." He tells the beautiful girl hanging off his arm, smiling down at her before turning to his friends. "We will see you guys later."

"Thanks for coming out tonight, Steve."

"Anything for you, Ry." Steve tells the young woman he's come to know as a sister in the past years, giving her a quick hug and Spencer a fist bump.

"Bye guys." Waving their friends away, Spencer and Ryder turn their attention back to each other once the others are gone.

"Did you two just fist bump?" Ryder asks her boyfriend, wondering if she had seen what happened right.

"I think so." Spencer furrows his brows, sounding equally as confused.

"So you guys get along okay?" Ryder inquiries as the two start walking together.

"Yeah." Spencer says shortly. He had gotten along with Steve, he liked the guy but he was still his awkward self. Though Steve didn't seem to mind, willing to make small talk about anything. And he was someone who meant a lot to Ryder so Spencer would do whatever he could to get along with him.

"Yeah? That's all I get? What did you guys talk about?" Ryder asks, worried two of the most important people in her life weren't getting along.

"Different things, small talk mostly. I really did like him." Spencer assures her, knowing him meeting her friends meant a lot to her. "What about you? What were you guys talking about back there?" He asks, wondering what had gotten such a reaction out of Ryder previously.

"Oh, you know, just girl talk." Ryder deflects with a shrug. There's no way she was going to tell Spencer what Natalie had said. "I'm glad you could come out tonight."

"I almost couldn't getaway." Spencer says as he remembers Morgan and Emily trapping him back at the office.

"Yeah," Ryder chuckles. "It only cost you a jacket."

"It was worth is." Spencer tells her, placing a kiss to the top of her head as they continue to walk.

"You staying at my place tonight?"

"Um, uh yeah." Answers Spencer, causing Ryder to stop and look up at him with furrowed brows.

"Spence?" She prompts, a little worry seeping into her voice.

"I mean it's not that I don't want to, but I always stay at your place, I was just thinking..." He trails off, the worry leaving Ryder's face, replaced with a smile.

"Spencer Reid, are you inviting me to stay at your place?" She asks him, looking up at him with a smirk on her lips.

"Maybe I am." He responds, the previous nerves he had now gone as he looks down at Ryder's smile.

"Well, I think I would like that very much."

"Good." Spencer says, taking hold of Ryder's hand, leading them both back to her apartment upon request so she could gather a few things for her stay at Spencer's apartment.

"I expected nothing less." Ryder mutters upon entering Spencer's apartment, the cozy apartment smelling unsurprisingly of books and something else Ryder couldn't place, but she likes it. It made her feel at home as soon as she stepped inside. Large bookshelves line most of the walls, piles of books sitting around the living room, the dark hardwood floor going well with the dark-colored walls, giving the place a cozy, relaxing vibe.

"You didn't tell me you lived in a library." Ryder jokes with Spencer as she runs her hand across the spines of the books. She wasn't sure why she hadn't been here sooner but now that she was, she wasn't sure she wanted to leave.

"Funny." Spencer says with a sarcastic laugh, coming to join her after setting their things down.

"Do I get the grand tour?" Asks Ryder as she wraps her arms around Spencer's neck.

Giving a small laugh, Spencer leads Ryder around his apartment before they end up on the couch, watching tv. Ryder had talked Spencer into watching Friends, one of her favorite tv shows and he enjoyed every second of it. Watching Ryder smile and laugh more than he was watching the show itself.

And there they stayed on the couch until Ryder falls asleep on Spencer's shoulder. Smiling down at the girl, Spencer carefully lifts her petite body and carries her to his bedroom where he places her on his bed and covers her with his sheets before joining her, falling into a peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

It's safe to say Ryder was worried when she saw the news of the random shootings taking place in New York, especially when she found out Spencer and his team were working the case. She knows his job is dangerous but this feels more real, being able to see what was happening. So when Ryder sees something about a car exploding on the news and she can't get a hold of Spencer, she goes into a small panic. Her chewed nails attesting to that.

"Calm down, Ry, I'm sure he's fine." Steve tries to comfort his friend as he watches her pace back and forth in front of her couch. The news plays on mute in the background. He had tried to turn it off when he got there, knowing it wouldn't help her at all but she had refused to let him so he settled for just turning to volume down.

"You don't know that." She says as she continues to pace, chewing on her already chewed nails.

"If you keep that up you won't have any nails left." Steve informs her, having dealt with Ryder in a panic before. "Look," He stands from his seat, gently grabbing her wrist to stop her pacing and pulls her fingers from her mouth. "I understand you're worried, but this isn't going to help so please just sit down." Looking up into her friend's eyes and seeing nothing but calmness helps Ryder slightly, but not enough. She turns her head to look at the tv. "And stop looking at that, it's only making things worse."

"What if he's not okay?" She asks Steve, letting him guide her to the couch and change the channel on tv.

"Ryder you can't think like that, Spencer is fine." He tells his friend once again. Truth is Steve was a little worried too, he's not super close to Spencer but he likes the guy and he makes his friend happy.

"Then why isn't he answering his phone? Spencer always answers his phone." Ryder says with wide eyes, glance at the tv even though it was playing some movie rather than the news.

"He's probably super busy, okay? He'll call you when he can, I'm sure of it." Sitting there waiting was torture for Ryder but she knows Steve is right. Spencer will call her when he can and he was fine. Or at least that's what she continues to tell herself.

It isn't until later that night as Steve is standing in Ryder's kitchen trying to decide if he should order some food - he knows with Ryder like this she won't eat unless he makes her - that a ringing sounds from the small device in her hands, making her jump before quickly answering it.

"Spencer?" She quickly asks, jumping to her feet as Steve walks back over to her.

"Yeah, it's me, I'm okay." Spencer tells the worried girl. He would have called sooner if he could've.

"Damn you, Spencer Reid, you had me worried to death." Ryder says, her shoulders dropping with relief.

"I sorry." Spencer shrugs lamely, not expecting that reaction from the tiny women on the other end of the phone.

"No, I'm sorry, are you sure you're okay? Is everyone else okay?" Ryder questions, feeling bad for yelling at him.

"For the most part." Spencer says, Hotch's injuries fresh in his mind. "We're leaving New York in the morning."

"Okay, good. You'll come see me?" She asks hopefully.

"First thing." Spencer nods. He wants nothing more than to see her.

"You're tired." Ryder states. She can hear it in his voice.

"Long day, even longer night." Spencer mumbles, everything that's happened hitting him. He imagines everyone else is already sound asleep as he leans against the wall outside the hotel the team is staying at.

"I'm sorry, babe. I should let you get some sleep." Ryder says to him, the little pet name slipping through her lips before she even processed it.

"Can you stay on the phone actually, I just..." Spencer trails off, looking up to the sky, wishing he could be back home with Ryder instead of talking over the phone. But he'd take what he could get.

"Of course." Ryder says, turning to look at Steve as he puts his jacket on. Ryder is okay now, and so was Spencer, his work is done, he'd leave them be. "Just give me two seconds."

Setting her phone on the couch, Ryder jumps up to hug Steve and tell him thank you for coming to be with her. "Anything for you, Ry." He tells her before making his exit, leaving Ryder to rush back to the phone.


"Still here."

"Sorry about that, I may or may not have called Steve in my panic and he came over to try and calm me down." She explains as she pulls her legs under her, covering herself with the blanket that was hanging over the back of the couch.

"Sorry I couldn't call sooner." He feels guilty for worrying her.

"No, it's okay. As long as you're okay."

"Yeah, I'm okay. Better now." Spencer says as the relaxed against the wall, closing his eyes, finding comfort in Ryder's voice. "Tell me about your day."

"My day?" Ryder asks with a small chuckle. Her day was nothing compared to Spencer's.

"Yeah, or anything, I want to listen your voice." Spencer confesses, bringing a small smile to Ryder's lips as she gets more comfortable on the coach, prepared to talk to Spencer about whatever he wanted to.

And she does, she talks to him about random stuff. What she did that day or the day before, things she had coming up soon and everything until she eventually falls asleep, phone still held to her ear.

"What do you think your team will say?" Ryder asks one morning as she watches Spencer get ready for work.

"I don't know. Morgan will definitely say something." Spencer responds, running a hand through his now shortened hair. He got it cut the day before. He hadn't even told Ryder about it, choosing to surprise her instead. And surprise he did, he had told her he was coming over and as soon as he walked through the door her eyes had gone wide and the only words that left her mouth were "Your hair!". He had been a little worried she wouldn't like it at first but all worry disappeared when a wide smile had broken out across her face and she approached him to run her hands through it.

"They'll love it." She tells him with a confident smile. "It makes you look very handsome."

"It doesn't really matter, as long as you like it." Spencer says with a smile as he comes to stand in front of her from her seat on the bed.

"I love it." Ryder grins, standing to kiss him. "You think you'll be able to get away this weekend?"

"It's your birthday, I wouldn't miss it for the world." Spencer tells her not for the first time. He knows she's worried he'll miss it as she's asked him similar questions throughout the week.

"Okay, okay, I'm sorry." Ryder apologizes with a sigh, knowing he was probably annoyed with how many times she's asked. Ryder didn't do a lot for her birthday, she'd never had a party or celebrated growing up until she was adopted and even then she'd never had a big party.

Her first birthday after being adopted was just dinner with her mother and brother. She hadn't expected anything at all, having spent her whole life without doing anything for her birthday. So when Eleanor had asked what she wanted to do she was surprised. She hadn't known what to say so she just decided to help Eleanor cook her favorite meal and they spent the rest of the night watching tv together. As a family. And that was the greatest birthday gift she could have asked for.

And since then, after discovering the diner she had taken Reid to, they went there every year for dinner. So that's what she planned again this year, going with Spencer and Steve. Last year it had been Steve and her brother. She was sad Tommy couldn't be there this year, he'd always done everything he could to be there for her as he knows how much her birthday means to her.

But he couldn't be there this year and as much as that saddened her she understood. He was a soldier, he was protecting people and for that, she didn't think she had the right to be upset with him. He'd been gone before but never for this long. She really missed him but she doesn't let herself think about it too much or she'd start crying and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to stop.

"And remember, no gifts." Ryder reminds him as she's done before. Sure Ryder likes gifts and the thought of them but she never likes receiving them if she wasn't also giving them.

"Too late." Spencer mumbles as they both make there way down the hallway towards the front door.

"What!?" Ryder nearly shouts, picking up her pace to catch up to him. "Spencer, I said no gifts."

"Yeah well, I don't know how you expecting me to not get you anything. Don't worry, you'll love it." He tells her as he finishes the last sip of his coffee. Ryder had bought a coffee maker after Spencer had started staying over and it wasn't for nothing as it was used quite often.

"What is it?" She asks, a tiny pout on her lips as she looks over at Spencer.

"It's a surprise." He smiles, coming to stand in front of her, rubbing his hands up her arms.

"Fine." Ryder sighs, looking off to the side.

"Are you mad at me?" Spencer asks the shorter girl with a smile.

"No." Ryder admits, kicking the floor before looking up to meet Spencer's eyes. "I could never be mad at you."

"Good." Spencer grins, leaning down to kiss her.

"You better go, you're gonna be late." Ryder says before kissing him again.

"I don't think I'll be able to if you keep doing that." Spencer mutters before kissing her again, closing his eyes when she runs her fingers through his hair.

"That's the plan." Says Ryder right before the ringing of Spencer's phone sounds throughout her apartment causing her to groan and pull away from him, allowing him to answer it.

"Yeah? Okay, be right there." He says disappointedly to the person on the other side of the phone.

"It's okay." Ryder says with a stronger pout, pulling and pushing Reid with the hold she had on the front of his shirt.

"I'm sorry." Spencer frowns.

"It's okay." She repeats, smiling up at him. "Be safe, have a good day."

"I will." Spencer tells her before giving her another kiss, walking to the door with Ryder trailing behind him. "Bye." Spencer says with one last kiss.

"Bye." Ryder waves, a funny, odd feeling in her heart as she watches him go, closing the door once the disappeared down the stairs. "Oh boy." She mumbles to herself as she leans her back against the door, a good idea to what that feeling was.

His last case dragged closer to the weekend than Spencer would have liked. But he was able to finish with his paperwork with enough time to go home and change before he had to be at Ryder's apartment if he were to leave early. Now all he had to do was get the okay from Hotch.

"Come in." Aaron Hotchner's voice calls from the other side of his closed office door.

"Uh, sorry to bother you, sir." Reid says as he slowly makes his way into his bosses office, suddenly nervous. Almost like a child asking their parent if they could go out with friends.

"Spit it out, Reid." Hotch tells his youngest agent, seeing his trouble to form words.

"Um, I need to leave early. Today is Ryder's birthday and it means a lot to her and I wanted to be ther-." Spencer starts rambling before being cut off by his boss.

"Reid," Looking up, Spencer wrings his hands as he waits for his answer. "It's fine, you can go."

"Thank you, Hotch." Spencer tells his boss with a sigh of relief. There's no way he could've missed Ryder's birthday. He was going to mention this to Hotch at the beginning of the week but they got called away on a case and he just hadn't had the chance until now.

"Tell her I said happy birthday." Hotch says before Spencer leaves his office. He was happy for Reid, he could clearly see he loved this girl and how good she was for him. He doesn't blame him for not telling the team either, he understands. He's also heard the teasing from the other team members, even directed their attention away from the topic on occasion. And of course he would let him leave early, Hotch knows first hand what this job takes from you, it took his wife from him, he wouldn't let the same happen to Reid if he could do anything about it.

"I will, thank you, again." Reid nods once before making his exit, passing his other team member on his way back to his desk to collect his stuff.

"And where are you going in such a hurry?" Emily questions as she watches Reid get ready to leave.

"Nowhere." Spencer quickly says, hoping she would drop it but knowing she wouldn't

"Well, it's obviously somewhere." Morgan sits back in his seat, watching Reid in amusement.

"I just have somewhere to be." He tells his team, ready to leave and get away from their questions. He knew they meant well but sometimes he wished they would mind their own business.

"Oh yeah? Where's that?" Emily pushes when he finally collects all of his things.

"Somewhere." Is all Spencer offers them before quickly making his way to the elevator.

"Somewhere?" Emily repeats to Morgan with raised eyebrows, the two sharing a suspicious glance towards Reid. "What the hell is he up to?"

"I have no idea," Morgan shrugs with a laugh, tempted to snoop through Reid's desk in hopes of finding a clue.

"No," Emily says when she follows Morgan's gaze, immediately knowing what thoughts were going through his mind.

"Well, what do you expect me to do? The kid's not telling us anything." Morgan argues but doesn't move from his seat.

"C'mon Morgan, let him have a secret or two." Emily tells her team member. She likes teasing Spencer but it was just for fun, if Spencer didn't want to tell them then he didn't have too.

"Last time I let him have a secret it wasn't a good thing." Morgan suddenly turns serious, causing her to see he was just worried about his friend. Morgan saw this team as family, Spencer like a little brother and he just wants to watch out for him.

"Yeah," Emily sighs. "But I don't think it is this time." She reminds him. "He's happy Morgan, let him have this one."

"Ryder?" Spencer calls out as he enters her apartment with the key she had given him a few weeks back, closing the door behind him as Ryder calls back.

"In here!" Walking towards her voice, Spencer passes the kitchen and living room and he enters the hallway, going halfway before turning to the double doors on his left, smiling at the sight of Ryder sitting on her stool, paint covering her clothes as she stares down the canvas.

"As cute as you look covered in paint, we're going to be late." He tells her, laughing when she looks at the time, stumbling out of her seat as she lets out a curse, rushing passed him, down the rest of the hall and into her room, stripping out of her paint-stained clothes on her way.

"I swear it wasn't this late five minutes ago." She says to Spencer as she shrugs on the pants and shirt she had picked out earlier that day. Her hair and makeup already done.

"You know how easily you lose track of time when you're painting." He reminds her with a fond smile, watching her twist the shirt in her hand with a confused face, seeming to have forgotten which side was the front.

"Yeah, yeah I know." She mumbles, finally figuring out the shirt and throwing it over her head before walking to her full-length mirror to check her appearance.

"Hey." Spencer says as he wraps his arms around her waist from behind, this being the first time he's seen her since getting called away on his case a few days ago.

"Hey." Ryder says back with a smile, turning in his arms to kiss him.

"Happy Birthday." He tells her, not for the first time that day but for the first time in person.

"Thank you." Ryder says cheerfully, giving him another kiss that makes his knees go weak.

"As much as I want to stay here alone with you, we really are going to be late." Spencer tells her, reluctantly pulling away.

"You're right, Steve will never let it down if I show up late to my own birthday dinner." Ryder agrees, pulling Spencer with her down the hall and towards the door, grabbing her purse from the kitchen table before exiting. Walking hand in hand towards the diner, Reid pulls his phone from his pocket but keeps it by his side so Ryder won't see and sends a quick text to Steve to let him know they were almost there before sliding it back into his pocket.

"It's about time." Steve says as his two friends approach him, Ryder pulling away from Spencer to give him a big hug.

"Hey, we are not late." Ryder defends as Steve sets her back on the ground, having had lifted her off the ground.

"Sure," He says sarcastically before opening the door and letting her enter, sending Spencer a nod once he was sure she wouldn't see it. "Happy birthday, Ry."

"Aww you guys," Ryder says when she sees the flowers on their table and the balloons floating above the booth seats. "Thank you." She tells them sincerely, sliding into the booth after Spencer, Steve sitting across from them.

"There's the birthday girl." Ms. Linda says as she approaches the table, having helped the boys set everything up, this being the eighth birthday Ryder has spent here.

"Hey Ms. Linda." Ryder greets with a smile up at the women.

"Happy birthday, dear." She tells the young women she's had the pleasure of watching grow up with a smile and a hug. "I made sure we had your favorite pie, it's just come out of the oven, it'll be perfect when you're done with your meal."

"Thank you." Ryder tells her with a smile before they each ordered their food.

"Now, there's only one thing missing." Steve says, drawing Ryder's confused eyes towards him.

"What?" She asks him, narrowing her eyes in suspicion at the mischievous smile on his face.

"Well, your present of course." Spencer tells her, looking down at the confused girl with a smile before both him and Steve look over her shoulder towards the door, causing her to do the same.

Feeling her eyes go wide and mouth fall open, Ryder's hand goes over her heart as she blinks rapidly, not believing the sight before her.

"Tommy?" She asks, looking at her brother standing before her, dressed in his uniform and smiling down at her.

"Hey, punk." He greets with a fond smile, using one of his many nicknames that always annoyed her.

But she didn't seem to care about the stupid name as she jumps from her seat and bolts towards him and into his open arms, wrapping her own around his neck as he lifts her from the ground and spins her in a circle.

"Or should I say, Flash." He jokes as he holds his sister close. Finally setting her down, Tommy runs his hand over her hair, messing it up as he looks down at her. "Did you get shorter? I didn't think that was possible."

"Shut up, Tommy." Ryder says as she wipes the tears from her eyes, lunging forwards to wrap her arms around his waist in another hug. "How are you here?" She asks him once she pulls away, still wiping her eyes. She suddenly glad she wore minimum makeup.

Looking over his shoulder, Tommy nods towards Steve and Spencer, the two of them the reason this possible. Turning around Ryder runs back over to the boys, emotions swirling around as she all but jumps into Spencer's arms, giving him a giant hug, the words leaving her mouth before she could stop them.

"I love you!" Taking a moment to realize what she had said, Ryder loosens her hold from around Spencer's neck, her feet slowly hitting the floor as his own hold loosens as well.

"Hey, I helped too." Steve breaks the awkward silence after a moment, earning him a slap to the shoulder from Tommy.

Admitting she loved someone was not easy or something Ryder takes lightly. She'd never said those words until she met Eleanor and Tommy and even then it had taken a long time, but she meant it, she really did love Spencer. She had for a while now, she'd just been too scared to say it. What if he didn't say it back? What if he rejected her because he didn't feel the same way?

"I mean that," Ryder decides to say instead of playing it off. She did love Spencer and she just told him and her brother was home, she felt so happy right now like she could do anything.

Without wasting another second, Spencer bends down to capture Ryder's lips in a sensuous kiss. "I love you." He tells her once he pulls away, huge smiles on both of there faces.

"As amazing as this moment is," Tommy interrupts after giving the couple a moment, "I'd like to officially meet the man that's sucking face with my little sister."

"Tommy!" Ryder shouts, turning away from Spencer to look at her brother with wide eyes.

"I apologize for nothing." He shrugs before turning to Spencer, offering him his hand which he easily accepted, to Ryder's surprise. "I'll give you the big bother talk later."

"Not necessary," Ryder shakes her head as she looks back and forth between the two who have their eyes locked in some sort of standoff, she assumes.

"Totaly necessary." Tommy tells his little sister, finally breaking eye contact with Spencer to look down at her.

"Tommy? Is that you?" Ms. Linda calls from behind them, a smile growing on her face when she sees the young man she's known his whole life.

"Hey, Ms. Linda," Tommy greats the older women, moving towards her to hug her.

"Oh my boy, how have you been? You look skinny." She tells him while looking him over. The other three raise their brows at her words. Tommy is many things but skinny isn't one of them. He's basically a rock. Tommy had gotten into working out in highschool and Ryder doesn't think he's stopped since. But she can see where Ms. Linda was coming from, she was very grandmotherly, always looking after those she considered family, and Tommy may have had muscle, but in his slightly baggy uniform, you can't tell. He didn't look huge by any means, she supposed he did look on the skinny side of muscular.

"I've been good, just missing you guys." He says with a glance towards his sister.

"You worry us, you know?" The older women tells him with a stern look.

"I know, I'm sorry." He mumbles before she shoos them into their seats so they can eat their food.

"I can't believe you guys did this." Ryder says after they've finished their food, looking around at her friends and family.

"I told you you'd like your gift." Spencer whispers to her, feeling nothing but joy in his heart for the beautiful girl he loves sitting next to him.

"I love you guys." She tells them all, this being one of the greatest birthdays she's had in a long time. And even though her mother couldn't be there, she would never forget the women who saved her life, changing it forever.

"Aww, we love you too!" Steve says over dramatically, placing his hand over his heart, earning chuckles from everyone around the table.

After having dessert, the group makes there way back to Ryder's apartment where they watch tv until late and Steve leaves and Tommy i so tired he almost falls asleep in the living room. "Thank you so much for today, it was the best." Ryder tells Spencer as they get ready for bed, Tommy having retired to the guest room for the night.

"Well, I kind of lied about something." Spencer says, his back facing her. Ryder's heart to drop to her stomach, a thousand thought's going through her head of what he could've lied about. "I got you more than one gift."

Sighing in relief, Ryder looks up to Spencer, realizing what he was said. "I said no gifts, in what universe does that mean to get me two?" She asks as Spencer makes his way towards her.

"Seriously? Just let me have my moment? Please?" Spencer pouts as he sits in front of her, a small box being help behind his back.

"Okay, I'm sorry." Ryder apologizes, actually excited to see what he had gotten her.

"Close your eyes." He tells her.

"What, why?"

"Come on, Ry, please?" He says, smiling despite himself at how difficult she was being.

"Okay, fine." She gives in and closes her eyes.

Smiling, Spencer pulls the box in front of him and opens it, pulling out the silver chain and dangling it in front of Ryder. "Okay, open." Opening her eyes, Ryder blinks to help them adjust to the dim lighting, Spencer face being the first thing that comes into focus before she sees him holding his hand up, a silver chain hanging from his.

Following the chain down, Ryder feels tears fill her eyes when she looks down at the jewel. Her birthstone. The necklace an almost exact match to the one her mother had gotten her for her sixteenth birthday. She had cherished that necklace for so long, never even taking it off until one day she'd lost it. She had gone into hysterics trying to find it, going to her mother in tears to tell her she'd lost it. Eleanor had comforted her daughter, telling her it was okay, that it was just a necklace and that it wasn't what truly mattered.

"Oh, Spence." Ryder whispers, reaching out for the necklace. She lets the small jewel rest in the palm of her hand, feeling Spencer's warm hand come to rest on cheek and he wipes away a stray tear that falls from her eye

"Do you want me to put it on you?" He asks, prompting Ryder to nod and turn, allowing Spencer to drape the necklace around her neck and lock it together as she holds her hair out of his way.

"You don't know how much this means to me." Ryder tells him with a teary smile.

"Anything for the women I love." He says pulling her into a kiss, wiping away her tears.

If he could stay there for the rest of his life he would. He loves Ryder and she loves him. He never believed in love at first sight or soulmates but in that very moment, he couldn't deny the fact that Ryder was everything to him and he couldn't imagine his life without her.

In that moment he would admit that she was his soulmate.

Chapter Text

"That sounds dangerous." Ryder says through her phone as she walks out of her apartment to check her mail.

"Of course there's risk involved but it's a basic operation, we should be in and out." Spencer tells Ryder after stepping away from Emily, explaining his reason for canceling dinner.

"And it's in Colorado?" Ryder asks him while approaching her mailbox, pausing as another person stands in front of them. She had thought the hunched man was collecting his mail even though his figure didn't seem familiar, but as she watches him for a moment, he just seems to be standing there before moving on.

"Yeah, we'll hopefully be back soon." Spencer says with a glance over his shoulder.

"You better be careful." She demands after shrugging off the man's odd behavior, approaching her mailbox, and collecting her mail before turning back to her apartment.

Chuckling, Spencer shakes his head before responding. "I will, don't worry about me."

"You make it hard not too." She informs him as she walks up her stairs, holding her phone with her shoulder, allowing her to sort through her mail.

"Occupational hazard, I'm afraid." He mumbles with a helpless chuckle.

"I know, it just sucks." Ryder says as she opens the door to her apartment, closing and locking it behind her.

"I'll be okay, promise."

"I'm going to hold you to that." Ryder smiles, leaning against the back of her couch.

"I'll try to call you when we get there, but I gotta go."

"Okay, please be safe. I love you." Ryder says, worry settling in the pit of her stomach despite Spencer's reassurance that he would be fine.

"Love you." Spencer repeats before hanging up the phone, turning around only to jump back as he comes face to face with Emily.

"Sorry." The older women apologizes with a small laugh.

"I-it's okay." Spencer says, his heart racing from the small scare. How long had she been standing there?

"Who was that?" Asks Emily as she points to Spencer's phone.

"Uh, nobody." Spencer shrugs before walking around Emily. He hates lying to her.

"Uh-huh." Emily mumbles to herself as she watches Spencer walk away, wondering to herself if he always told "nobody" that he loves them.

After barking off orders and prepairing to fly to Colorado, Hotch takes a minute to lock himself in his office and pull out his phone, dailing the number in mind and letting it ring. "Hello?" A feminine, if not slightly worried voice responds after a few rings.

"Ryder?" Hotch asks, making sure it was her before he continues.

"Agent Hotchner?" She questions when she recognized his voice. "What's wrong?"

"Have you seen the news?" He asks the young women, already knowing she had.

"Please tell me that's not Spencer in there." Dread fills her voice. It's him, she knows it is. She knew the moment she saw it on the news.

"I'm sorry but it is. I don't want you to worry, my team and I are on it, we'll get him out of there safe." He assures the girl, hoping he was right. Spencer had given Hotch Ryder's number not long after he found out about the girl, he had told him it was in case anything ever happened to him, and as much as he hated that thought, he knew it was a risk of the job.

So he was calling her now because he knows she would've seen the news and no doubt would've guessed it was Spencer and gone out of her mind with worry. Especially if the things Spencer had mentioned to him about her was anything to go by. He was surprised sometimes, that Spencer was able to keep her a secret from the team for so long, he obviously loved to talk about her, the affection shining in his eyes as he did.

Taking a deep breath to try and control her emotions, Ryder nods before realizing he couldn't see her. "Okay, please jus-" Cutting herself off as she felt her voice quiver, Ryder takes another deep breath before continuing. "Please bring him home safe."

"I will." Hotch tells her before ending the call, taking a moment for himself before going out to meet with his team, prepaired to do whatever it took to get both of his team members home safe.

"Hey." Emily greets as she sits across from Spencer on the jet.

"Hey." He mumbled back, unable to meet his team members eyes.

"Hey," She says again, reaching forward to gently pull the book from his hands. "I need you to listen to me. What Cyrus did to me is not your fault. It was my decision, and I would do it again. Do you hear me?" Overcome with guilt, Spencer finds it hard to meet Emily's eyes as he gives her the smallest of nods and she rubs his hands with hers.

"Thank you." Smiling at his team member, Spencer turns back to his book for a moment before looking back up when he feels Emily's eyes burning a hole through his skull. "That phone call earlier?" She asks him, meaning both the one before they left and the one she'd heard him having before they boarded the plane.

"It was n-" Spencer goes to lie before Emily cuts him off.

"Nobody?" She's not an idiot, she'd figured it out at this point. She was a profiler, after all, the phone calls only confirming it for her. Spencer had a significant other and he was keeping them from the team. She understands why to a certain degree. He wants something separate and untouched by his work. She could understand that. And with the relentless teasing from Morgan, she couldn't blame him. But she wasn't going to push him on the matter, not too much anyway. "You could've told us." She informs him, smile on her face as she watches the moment Spencer completely realizes she knows.

"Please don't tell the others." He asks her in a whisper as soon as he was able to speak again. He couldn't believe he'd been so sloppy, letting Emily and who knows who else here his phone calls.

"It's okay Spencer, we won't judge." She tells him, wanting to know more about the person who seemed to have stolen the young doctor's heart.

"It's not-it's not about that." Spencer sighs as he let his book fall closed.

"Then what is it?" Emily questions, not pushing completely gone from her mind.

"I just- It's' different when I'm with her." Spencer admits as he looks to the window, once again not able to meet Emily's eyes. "It's like I can turn everything off and not think about all the awful things we see every day."

"And you think if you bring her into this part of your life it won't be like that anymore?" Emily guesses, earning a nod from her friend. He knows it's selfish but for the first time in his life, Spencer wants something for himself, and that was Ryder.

"Oh, Reid," Emily mumbles, looking to her friend with something akin to sadness in her eyes. "You love this girl, don't you?" Nodding his head, Spencer finally turns to look at his friend, wondering where she was going with this. "Then it won't matter." Furrowing his brows, Spencer looks down at his hands as he thinks over Emily's words.

"It doesn't matter if we know or not, this girl and this team are apart of your life. At this point, mixing the two won't matter." Emily tells her friend. She felt a pang of sadness shoot through her heart when Spencer told her why he'd been keeping this girl a secret. He just wanted to escape from the horrors the team deals with and she was how he did it, and he was afraid that if she came to close to this part of his life that it wouldn't be the same.

And deep down Spencer knows that isn't true, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. "Thanks, Emily." He tells his friend, seriously thinking over her words. Maybe it was time he told the team. It would definitely make things easier.

He had a lot to think about before he got home.

"You promised." Ryder's voice breaks as she wraps her arms around Spencer's neck.

"I know, I'm sorry." Spencer says, his own voice muffled when he buries his face in the crook of her neck, his arms holding her close.

"No, I'm just glad you're okay. I was so worried." Ryder pulls back, looking Spencer over. "Are you okay?" She asks. He had called her on the phone the moment he could and assured her he was fine, but she had to see for herself that he really was.

"I'm okay, really." He nods and grabs her wrist and holds her hand in place on his cheek where she had placed it while looking him over, turning his head to place a kiss to her wrist. "I'm okay."

"You better be." She tells him, meaning to sound stern but failing as she falls into his arms, letting him guide her into her apartment.

"Emily knows." Spencer says as the couple sit comfortably on the couch, watching tv, enjoying the feeling of being close to each other again.

"About me?" Ryder asks, looking up at Spencer but his eyes stay on the tv.

"Yeah, she figured it out." She can't help it, but Ryder feels a smile pulling at her lips.

"I thought agents were supposed to be good at keeping secrets." She teases, earning her an eye-roll and smile as Spencer finally looks down to meet her eyes.

"I think maybe," Spencer starts hesitantly. "I think maybe it's time you meet my team."

"Oh my gosh, really!?" Ryder asks, her eyes going wide with excitement. "Seriously!?" She squeaks out, sitting and grabbing Spencer's arm.

"Seriously," Spencer says with a laugh, thinking he would've told them sooner if he knew this is the reaction he would've gotten.

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh." Ryder repeats before taking a deep breath to calm herself down. "No, I'm calm, I am fine." She says before a thought hits her, causing her to drop back down into her seat, the smile gone from her face. "What if they don't like me?"

"What? Don't be ridiculous, they'll love you." Spencer quickly tells her, shifting to face her better. "You wanna know how I know?" Nodding her head, Ryder takes Spencer's hand as she looks up at him. "Because I love you."

"Don't be cheesy." She tells him before letting a smile take over her face, excepting Spencer's kiss.

"It's settled then, we'll tell them."

Chapter Text

Spencer struggles with how he's going to approach the subject of Ryder with his team. He wants her there when he tells them, wherever there was. It's a rare moment for Spencer, not knowing how to do something. He's thankful to Emily as well for not saying anything to the team, but he doesn't miss the looks she gives him whenever he leaves to take a phone call or rushes out of work some nights.

He even considered asking Emily for advice at one point but decided against it. The problem soon got pushed to the back burner as a case comes up and he has to give all his attention to it. And little did he know that when they returned from their case that the perfect opportunity would present itself.

"Team dinner, my house, tomorrow night." Rossi announces to the room, not even voicing it as a question. He doesn't plan on taking no for an answer. The team tries to get together to have a calm dinner on occasion, usually hosted at Rossi's. The team goes out a lot, usually for drinks and or food but half the time the whole team can't come and being at a crowded bar or someplace else with lots of people isn't the same as a quiet sit down that the team can relax and enjoy each other's company outside of work. It was the perfect opportunity.

"Um-" Is all Spencer was able to get out before being interrupted by Morgan.

"No, not this time, kid, you are not canceling." He says sternly as he points a finger at him.

"No, actually I was just wondering if..." Spencer trails off, glancing first at Hotch then at Emily, the latter giving him a small nod of encouragement. "I was wondering if I could bring someone." He finally gets out, nearly shrinking in on himself when he feels everyone's eyes on him.

"Uh, of course," Rossi says as he shares a look with the others. "The more the merrier."

Nodding his head, Spencer continues collecting his things before making his exit, not wanting to stick around for the questions he was sure the others had, briefly catching Emily's eye and she sends him a smile.

It was almost like a weight off his shoulders but it was replaced by a pit in his stomach that he guessed would be there until dinner the next night came.

"Ryder?" Spencer calls out as he steps into her apartment, setting his stuff on the table. He turns around when he doesn't get a response, the sight of a barstool knocked over catching his eye. "Ryder?" Walking closer, Spencer feels his heart drop and his hand go to his gun at the sight of blood, a decent-sized pile on the floor, a trail leading down the hall.

Keeping his gun holstered but his hand near it, Spencer follows the trail down the hall until he comes upon the cracked bathroom door, slowly pushing it open to reveal Ryder sitting atop the closed toilet with her bloodied wrist in her lap.

"Ryder?" Spencer says for the third time, finally catching her attention as he rushes to his girlfriend. "What the hell happened?" He asks while taking the towel from her, lifting it slightly to see a gash down her small wrist.

"I'm an idiot, that's what happened." She tells him, trying to laugh it off but he can hear the pain shinning through her voice.

"Shit, this need stitches," Spencer mumbles and applies pressure on the wound, trying to ignore the way the towel was becoming soaked.

"Is it really that bad?" Ryder asks, looking down at the wound, happy that she wasn't affected by the sight of blood.

"Yeah, come on, I'm taking you to the hospital." Spencer leaves no room for argument and helps Ryder to her feet before leading her out of the bathroom. "Where are your keys?"

"In my purse, on the table." Ryder answers and holds her wrist to her chest, watching Spencer grab them before he returns to her, helping her outside and into the car where they then drive to the hospital.

"This is a pretty nasty gash." The nurse observes as she starts stitching up Ryder's arm, having already numbed it and stopped the bleeding. "Mind if I ask how you got it?"

"I wasn't paying attention," Ryder reluctantly admits, watching the nurse work. "Broke a glass, tried to clean it up, somehow ended up with this. Probably would've bled out on the bathroom floor if Spencer hadn't come home."

"Ah, been there, I've always been clumsy." The nurse says as she continues her work.

"It's a curse." Ryder mumbles, turning her attention to Reid who stands by her side, holding her uninjured hand in his own.

"You scared me half to death." He mumbles while squeezing her hand.

"What can I say, it was my turn." She jokes.

"And we're all done." The nurse announces, half of her cheeriness faked. She's been on her shift for many hours. "Just keep the wounded area clean and dry, change the bandages daily."

"Thank you." Ryder tells the lady politely, standing from the bed and walking with Spencer to sign some papers before finally leaving the hospital. Ryder doesn't like hospitals and didn't want to be in there any longer than she had to be.

"I'm canceling dinner tomorrow." Spencer says once their both seated in Ryder's car.

"What?" She question, turning her furrowed brows towards her boyfriend.

"The team's having dinner at Rossi's tomorrow and I told them I was bringing someone. But I'm going to cancel." Spencer explains as he navigates through the streets.

"What? No, I'm fine." Ryder shakes her head. No way she's going to miss out on this opportunity to finally meet Spencer's team. "Really Spence, it's not that bad. I'm okay."

Quickly glancing over at her and seeing the hopeful look in her eyes, Spencer sighs in defeat. No way he could tell her no when she looks at him like that. "Okay, if you're feeling okay we'll go."

"Yes!" Ryder says happily and sits straight in her seat, suddenly feeling tired, a yawn escaping her.

"Let's just get you home."

"Good idea." Ryder mumbles, leaning to rest her hand against the cars cool window.

The next thing she knows, Ryder is being shaken awake by a hand on her shoulder. "Five more minutes." She mutters, drawing a small laugh from Spencer.

"You can't sleep in the car, Ry." Spencer tells her. He hadn't wanted to wake her but Spencer knew he wouldn't have been able to get her out of the car and up to the apartment without doing so anyway.

Grumbling, Ryder opens her eyes with a yawn and allows Spencer to unhook her seatbelt before he goes around to car to help her out of it. "I'm sorry."

"You don't have anything to be sorry for, let's just get you upstairs so you can sleep." Spencer says as the two make their way inside and up to Ryder's apartment.

Letting Spencer lock the apartment door, Ryder walks passed the kitchen and living room, down the hall and into her bedroom, sitting on the bed to remove her pants so she wouldn't fall over. After fighting off the tight fabric, Ryder stands before walking over to retrieve her sleeping shorts and slipping them on before removing her slightly bloodied shirt. She'd probably just throw it out, she didn't like that one much anyway.

"You feel okay?" Spencer asks the younger women as he wraps his arms around her from behind, his hand skimming over the uneven ridges in her skin, reminding him of the first time he'd seen them. It had been a night a lot like her birthday. Spencer had come over, the couple having plans to go out, and found Ryder in her studio lost in her head. He had watched her for a moment before reminding her of the time, causing her to rush to her bedroom, shedding her shirt as she went.

He hadn't meant to watch her but his eyes had landed on her back and he found himself walking closer to her as he caught sight of the marks on her smooth skin. He had asked her about them carefully, not wanting to make her uncomfortable, but he'd already seen them and there was no way he could've ignored them.

She had acted like she didn't mind, but Spencer could tell by the shift in her body language that she was uncomfortable about it. He had apologized for asking but she just shook her head and reminded him of the time she'd spent in foster care before being adopted. She didn't give any details, she had just said, "I'm sure you know better than anyone that not all people are good people." And left it at that.

"I'm okay, just tired." Ryder nods weakly, pulling Spencer from his thoughts and back to the present time. "My whole arm is numb."

"The feeling will be back by morning." Spencer mumbles into her ear and gently lifts her injured arm in his own. "I walked in and saw the blood, I didn't know what to think."

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to worry you." Ryder says and spins in his arms, wrapping her arms around him. "But now you know how I feel every time you walk out that door." She reminds him, pulling away to look up at him, only half-joking.

"Yeah," Spencer mumbles against her lips before kissing her. "Come on, you need sleep."

Nodding her head, Ryder pulls away, grabbing a random T-shirt she assumes is Spencer's and throws it on before climbing into bed.

"Goodnight," She says to Spencer, her voice muffled by the pillow she buries her face in.

"Goodnight, love." Spencer whispers with a smile, leaning over to place a kiss to Ryder's cheek

Ryder has been nervous before, many time actualy, she's had trouble with anxiety in the past. It's safe to say this was one of those times.

"What should I wear? Do we need to bring anything? Are you sure they'll like me?" She fires the questions at Spencer rapidly while looking through her many clothes. Spencer watches her with amusement from his seat in her desk chair he had rolled over. She had asked him these question already and he had assured her that it didn't matter and of course they would love her. She would calm down for a few minutes before jumping back up, her nerves preventing her from sitting still.

"Don't look at me like that," She says with a pout when she turns to see his face. "I just want tonight to go perfect."

"I know, me too." He tells her as he stands. The truth was Spencer was also nervous, he knows the team will like Ryder, it's impossible not too, but he's still scared about how the night would go.

"Okay, it's fine," Ryder nods, to herself or to him, Spencer isn't sure, but he guesses it's a mixture of both. "Should I go casual casual, or dressy casual?" She asks him as she battles to get her emotions under control.

"Whatever you decide will be perfect." Spencer shrugs and he crosses his arms, leaning against the doorframe.

"That's no help," She tells him before turning back to her clothes, trying to decide over pants or a skirt. After much debate with herself, Ryder finally decides on some grey jeans with a pastel pink sweater that hangs loosely on her thin frame, deciding to wear her black high-tops. The only jewelry being some earrings and the necklace Spencer had gotten her for her birthday. Her hair styled into loose curls.

"You look beautiful." Spencer is sure to tell her. 

"And you look very handsome." Ryder returns the compliment as they walk out of her apartment. "We're not going to be late, are we?"

"We'll be fine." Spencer shakes his head and climbs into the car. 

"Okay." Is all Ryder says before she looks out the window, wringing her hands in her lap. Reaching over, Spencer takes them into one of his own and squeezes, drawing her attention back to him. 

"We'll be fine." Spencer tells her one last time and Ryder nods, trying her best to believe him.

Chapter Text

"Who do you think it is?" Garcia asks her fellow female agents as she sips on her glass of wine.

"Reid's got a girlfriend," Emily says quietly in a sing-song voice that was slightly muffled from her own glass of wine.

"What!?" Garcia shouts, careful not to spill her drink and turns her wide eyes towards Emily. "Our doctor Spencer Reid?"

"Yeah." Emily confirms. Of course, she wouldn't have said anything if she knew Spencer wasn't bringing her with him tonight, and she figured everyone else had already figured it out. They were profilers, after all.

"How long has this been a thing?" Garcia demands to know while looking between her two friends.

"Quite a while." JJ answers, sticking with water as she was pregnant.

"Did everyone know except me?" Penelope huffs, annoyed no one had brought her into the loop.

"No one knew for sure," Emily explains in their defense. "We just knew he had been acting strange."

"Then how did you know?" Garcia raises her brows in suspicion and Emily shrugs.

"He's not very quiet when he's on the phone."

"Wait," The colorful blonde suddenly says, drawing the other twos attention. "What if she's evil?" She whispers, as if afraid the subject of the conversation could hear her.

"What?" The other two women ask at the same time, sharing a look before turning their attention back to Penelope.

"I mean, we don't know anything about her. What is he kept her from us for a reason?" Garcia questions, more to herself than the others as she looks down, a thousand thoughts running through her mind.

"Don't be ridiculous, Garcia." Emily tells her friend with a laugh.

"I'm just worried about our resident genius." She holds up her hands. She's happy for Reid, over the moon for him, but she doesn't even know this mysterious girls name. Penelope spends her days looking into people and finding out their darkest secrets and all the nasty things about them, could she really be blamed for worrying about this girl?

"Don't worry Penelope, Spencer seems really happy." JJ assures her friend. Although she wasn't a profiler, JJ had also noticed a change in her friend. She wasn't sure what it was at first but over time her suspicions grew, having experience keeping a relationship from the team a secret herself. But she's happy for Spencer, he's her friend and he deserves to be happy.

"If you guys say so." Penelope says with a sigh, relaxing in her seat slightly.

"What are you ladies talking about in here?" Morgan asks as he walks into the room, Rossi following behind him. Hotch, Reid, and his mystery guest are the only ones yet to arrive, and Will who wasn't able to be there.

"Just girl talk." Emily informs the men as they enter the room.

"Is that so?" Morgan ask questions with a raised brow.

"Is that them!?" Penelope jumps form her seat when she sees headlights approaching the house.

"Or Hotch." JJ suggests as the others peek out the window.

"Nope, not his car." Morgan informs, drawing a high pitched noise from Garcia that the others took to be excitement. "Calm down, baby girl."

"Calm down? How do you expect me to calm down?" Exchanging a look with Morgan, Rossi excuses himself to answer the door - It is his house, after all - leaving the others to get Penelope under control.

Opening the door, Rossi smiles at the two people standing on the other side. One his friend and colleague, the other a young women he doesn't know. They seem to have been talking to each other before he opened the door, causing them to stop and turn their attention onto him.

"Rossi," Spencer greets, a little more stiffly than normal, David notes. "Um," The younger man continues after he collecting his thoughts. "This is Ryder, my girlfriend." He introduces.

"It's nice to meet you," The young women says with a smile towards the older man. "Finally." She adds as an afterthought.

"And a pleasure to meet you, my dear." Rossi says with a smile and a head nod towards the young women. He'd only known her barely a minute but from what he can tell, he likes her. She's obviously anxious, her body tense with nerves but she's doing her best to hide it.

"Come on inside, meet the others." Moving to the side, David allows the young couple entry, smiling as he watches Spencer take the young woman's hand in his own.

"Is everyone here?" Spencer asks the senior agent as they enter his large house.

"Aaron is running late." David responds and he closes the door, going ahead to lead them to the others. "Everyone," He says to gain their attention, Spencer and Ryder stopping behind him. Ryder's hold on Spencer's arm is tight. She isn't normally this nervous to meet new people, she meets new people quite often actually. But she sees this differently. This is Spencer's team, his friends, and his family. If they don't like her, she doesn't know what she'll do.

Being the beautiful and bright person she was, Garcia is the first one to go up to the couple, a huge smile on her face, any earlier worry gone once her eyes landed on Ryder. "Oh my, look at you. I'm Penelope Garcia. I'm sorry, can I hug you?"

Sparing a look up at Spencer to see him smiling down at her, Ryder detaches herself from his arm and nods to Garcia, the older woman's arms immediately going around her. Returning the hug, Ryder smiles as she feels some of her anxiety leave her body. Penelope just has that effect on people.

"It's great to finally meet you." Ryder says with a glance around the room at everyone.

"As much as we would like to say the same, we didn't know you existed. Derek Morgan." The older man introduces with a look thrown towards Spencer. He holds out his hand for Ryder to shake, smiling at her when she tentatively accepts it.

Derek hadn't known what to think of Spencer's odd behavior at first but as time went on he suspected it had something to do with a girl. And he may or may not have snooped. Well, not so much as snooping he would say. He had been passing Spencer's desk the day before their last case as he came back from the breakroom and Spencer hadn't been there but his phone had, along with a notification from someone named Ryder, a heart next to her name.

"Emily Prentiss." The dark-haired woman nods, deciding not to approach the younger woman. Her shoulders are tense, the nerves all but rolling off of her. Space will be good for her.

"Jennifer Jareau, but you can just call me JJ." The blonde introduces herself as well, following in Emily's actions to give Ryder space.

"Um, Ryder," She says once she realizes Rossi was the only one who knew her name. "Ryder Mathews."

"Sorry, I'm late." A new voice sounds behind everyone, turning they're attention to see Hotch entering the room.

"Agent Hotchner, nice to see you again." Ryder greets the older man, earning the two raised brows and odd looks from the others.

"Please, call me Aaron." He tells the girl with a rare smile.

"Wait, you knew about this?" Morgan asks, pointing to Ryder as Emily mouthed "Aaron?" to JJ, earning her a shoulder shrug from her blonde friend. "Of course you did." He mumbles when Hotch just gives him a look.

"I hope everyone is hungry, dinner is ready." Rossi announces to the room.

Grabbing each others hands, Spencer and Ryder move with the others to the dining room before finding a seat, Ryder mentally preparing for the questions she has no doubt she'll have to answer once they start eating.

"So, Ryder," Penelope is the first to speak, ready to find out what she could about this girl that hadn't strayed more than five feet from Spencer the entire night. "You ever been married?"

Not expecting that question at all, Spencer is surprised enough by it that he almost chokes on his drink. "Um, no, never been married." Ryder responds once she's sure Spencer can breath properly.

Pleased with that answer, Penelope opens her mouth to ask something else but paused in her actions when she sees the look Derek is giving her. She takes a moment and accepts that she may have gone a little too far, especially for first questions, and backs off, deciding to ask a much simpler one. "What do you do for work?" It's a much less intrusive question compared to the other ones she had in mind. You can't blame her, she's just looking out for her family in the best way she knows how.

Ryder hadn't taken offense from the blondes earlier question, she understands Penelope is just looking out for her friend. "I'm a photographer."

"Oh that's exciting, what do you take pictures of?" The blonde continues, earning smiles and smirks from the others around the table.

"People, mostly. I do scenery shots sometimes." She informs the women, happy to answer her questions.

"Wait," Morgan interrupts. "Does this mean you know a bunch of models?" He asks, drawing laughs and eye-rolls from the others.

"Yes," Ryder nods and chuckles herself. "I know quite a few. Some of them are even single." She adds with a wink in his direction.

"Please, don't egg him on." Emily tells Ryder. Derek's ego does not need anymore inflating.

"It was an innocent question." Morgan shoots back, earning a snort from Emily but she decides against saying anything more about it.

"What about your family?" Garcia asks, causing Ryder to pause. The feeling of Spencer's hand on her thigh brings her attention back to the table as he looks down at her, the motion not going unnoticed by the team.

"Um, I have a brother, he's in the army." Ryder says after a moment, deciding she didn't want to get into her family history. Or lack thereof.

The team, even the none profilers, could see it was a touchy subject, especially since the girl only mentioned a brother. So, they decide it's best to steer clear of asking any more questions on the subject.

"What happened there?" JJ motions to the bandage around Ryder's wrist, her eyebrows furrowing.

"Oh, that," Ryder looks down at her arm, lifting it slightly. "I was born with a curse, most call it clumsiness."

"Been there, girlfriend," Emily huffs with a sympathetic nod.

"Scared me to death." Spencer mumbles to himself and Ryder, but the whole table hear him. They all can't help but smile at the interaction. The love and admiration in his eyes shining brightly.

"Wasn't my finest moment," Ryder admits with a chuckle.

"Do you travel at all for work?" Rossi asks after a moment, bringing the conversation back from where it had strayed.

"I do," Ryder answers easily. "I haven't in a little while, I've had lots of projects going on here. As much as I love to travel, it's good to just be home for a while." Everyone nods to this with agreement. Having to travel so much for work, they all understand the need to be home.

Taking turns, the team continued asking small questions to try and get to know Ryder more while doing their best to stay away from deeper topics. Especially after the question about her family hadn't gone over so well. By the time they moved on to dessert, Ryder had forgotten about her anxiety and nervousness and was laughing along with the others as they told stories. Mostly embarrassing stories about Reid, much to his chagrin.

"I just remembered," Penelope pipes up. "We forgot the most important question. How did you two meet?" The question succeeds in drawing everyone's attention back to the couple.

"Well," Ryder starts with a fond look towards Spencer. "That comes back to my clumsiness. I spilled my drink on him one morning."

"I remember that!" Emily shouts, Ryder's words bringing a memory to the front of her mind. "You were late to work that day, you are never late."

"That was months ago." Morgan points out, also remembering that day. Spencer had rushed in late with a poor excuse and a wet jacket. "How long has this been going on exactly?"

"Um," Spencer starts, sheepish as he looks down and catches Ryder's eye. "A few months shy of a year." He informs the team, his one-year anniversary with Ryder quickly approaching as October nears.

"Damn." Morgan mutters, impressed Spencer had kept her a secret for so long even if he had noticed his strange behavior.

"So," Garcia motions for them to continues impatiently. "What happened after!?"

"Um, well I felt bad and offered to buy him a drink to make up for it." Ryder's smile grows when she thinks back to the day that had changed her life for the better.

"Who gave who their phone number?" Emily questions, also interested in the story.

"I gave him mine," Ryder squeezes Spencer's hand, looking up to meet his eyes. "I had been reading one of my favorite books that day and Spencer asked about it and when I learned he hadn't read it yet, I insisted he take it."

"Wait," Morgan holds a hand up with a shake of his head. "There's such a thing as a book pretty boy hasn't read?" He teases, earning a sarcastic laugh from Spencer.

"That is a beautiful necklace, by the way." JJ observes, admiring the elegant piece of jewelry hanging from Ryder's neck.

"Thank you," Ryder's hand goes up to gently touch the necklace. "It was a birthday present from Spence."

"Wow Reid, I never would have guessed you had good taste in jewelry." Emily says as she also looks at the jewelry, impressed with her younger team member.

"Yeah, he did good." Ryder agrees, her full attention on her boyfriend. Moving back into the lounge area, the team and Ryder continued talking about whatever until it gets late and Ryder can no longer hold in her yawns.

"I think it's time we head out." Spencer says after seeing Ryder's third yawn that she tries to hide behind her hand.

"Yeah, it is getting late." Emily looks down at her watch.

"You're telling me." JJ says as she struggles to stand slightly, her ever-growing belly making the simple task difficult.

"It was really great meeting you all." Ryder tells them while she and Spencer both get to their feet.

"You too, little lady." Morgan gives her a short girl a side hug. "Keep this one in check, yeah?" He jokes with a nod towards Reid.

"I will try my best." Ryder says with a laugh at the way Spencer rolls his eyes. "Goodnight everyone."

"Told you they'd love you." Spencer says to her as they walked out to Ryder's car, his arm around her shoulder's holding her close.

"Yeah, I don't know what I was worried about." She releases a breath and settles into her seat, happy with the way the night turned out. She can clearly see how close this team is, they're a family. And they like her. Being apart of something like that means so much to Ryder. After growing up so long without a family, then finding one only to lose half of it a few years makes her happier than she thought possible that Spencer's own family accept her as one of their own.