Derek Morgan would like it to be noted, penned down in ink, carved into stone, that he loves his family. It's important that there's a record of a point of his life when he adored his sisters, because right now, all he feels is annoyance and rage, and is weirdly sympathising with the UnSub they're investigating, a man who kills younger sisters.
"Desiree," he says for what feels like the tenth time, "I'm fine. I'm happy. I don't need to meet your friend Savannah. Matter of fact, I don't need to meet anyone, because I'm not on the market for anyone. Why can't you trust me when I'm telling you I'm happy?"
"Derek," Desiree's voice seems significantly more whiney over the phone, "You forget that I know you. That job of yours is killing you, and I just want you to be happy. Why are you against meeting her? I'm not asking you to knock her up, just meet her for dinner."
Her voice takes a suspicious tone, "Are you seeing someone Derek Morgan? Is that why you're so against this?"
Derek opens his mouth to explain that no, he isn't seeing anyone, he's just content with his life as it is right now, but a commotion in the bullpen distracts him. He looks over to see Hotch opening the door to someone, must be the new recruits. He squints, trying to get a feel for the fresh blood, and what comes out is, "Spencer?"
In his ear, Desiree squeals, and he remembers with rapidly growing horror that his sister is still on the phone. "You're seeing Spencer?" her voice gets progressively higher pitched, "I had no idea you guys reconnected! When did that happen?"
Derek means to explain, but he's so tired of trying to convince his sisters that he's better off single - which is how he ends up coming up with his half-cocked story about how he met Spence in D.C a couple months and they'd been seeing each other. He keeps the details purposely vague because his mind is wrapping itself around the fact that tiny Spencer Reid is in his office at Quantico.
(and that he's no longer tiny anymore)
"I always thought you guys would end up together," Desiree says speculatively, "but then Spence moved to Nevada. Did you know that Ma and Mrs Reid had bets about when you guys were going to get your heads out of your asses. Oh, she's going to be so happy that you guys reconnected."
"No!" Derek says loudly, causing Elle and Gideon and look up, "Desiree, listen to me very carefully - you cannot tell Ma." Lying to his sister was one thing, Derek was not about to lie to his Ma.
"Why not?" Desiree asks plaintively, "she'll be so happy about this Derek you know it. Plus, she already knows Spencer, so it's not going to be a huge shock for her."
"I just," Derek fumbles for words, "I want to be the one to tell her okay? And I want to do it proper, bring him back to Chicago, the whole nine yards. This isn't something that I want to do over the phone. Can you respect that?"
"Okay," Desiree huffs, "but you owe me."
The knot inside his stomach loosens. In the bullpen, Hotch is waving him over, "Desiree I have to go, I think there's been an update in our case. I'll talk to you later okay?"
"Okay, but I expect details!" she says, but he's already stepping outside Gideon's office and climbing down the stairs.
"Hey," he says when he gets closer, tapping Gideon's shoulder, "Thanks for letting me use your office. My sister does not like to be ignored. I appreciate it man."
"Not a problem," Gideon gestures for Spencer to come over, and Derek notices the minute Spencer recognises him, "Derek Morgan this is -"
" - Spencer Reid," Derek finishes, unsure of whether he could open his arms for a hug or settle for a single handshake, "As I live and breathe."
"Actually," Spencer ducks his head, "It's Doctor Spencer Reid now. I got my PhDs a couple years back. Derek Morgan? As in..?" he trails off, and its soothing that Spencer is just as unsure of how to approach this as he feels.
Gideon gestures between them, "Do you guys know each other?"
Derek decides to take the first step, and throws his hand around Spencer's shoulder, the way he used to when they were kids, "We grew up together. I've known Spencer since he was a kid in diapers."
"I thought you were from Nevada," Elle pipes up from next to them, and Spencer answers, "We moved when I was 15. But I was from Chicago before that."
He looks up at Derek with warm fondness, "Derek was there when I graduated from highschool. He was there for most of it."
"Hell, yeah I was. So, PhDs huh? Plural? Wanna tell me about that?" Derek asks, but before the conversation can go anywhere, Hotch interrupts them. "I hate to break this up, but we've got an update on the case."
The shift in the group is remarkable, even amongst the newest members. Derek shifts everything out of his mind, including his conversation with Desiree.
Looking back, that was probably where the trouble started.
Holding cells are not unfamiliar territory for Derek. He's been inside more than he can count, all over the country. They're all the same, four drab walls and a window or two shackled with bars, and a one-way mirror so that you can look at yourself. Ostensibly, it's so that interrogations can be witnessed by other officers, but Derek thinks they have a more important purpose - they force the perp to face themselves, to look themselves in the eyes with the knowledge of what they've done.
He's seen hundreds of holding cells. He's just never been the person they're trying to keep in a holding cell.
(Actually, that’s a lie, but Derek lies to forget that part of his life. There's nothing about that period of his life worth remembering)
"Derek Morgan," the doors open to reveal Gordinski, and Derek fights the urge to introduce Gordinski's face to his fist. What was the man thinking, arresting him outside his Ma's place? How was he going to explain this to her?
"Did you get any sleep?" he asks, carrying a beefy file with him. "Slept like a baby, myself. Didn't even want to get out of bed."
"Really?" Derek cocks an eyebrow, "So that wasn't your donut-eating ass on the other side of the glass all night?"
Gordinski ignores him, which is expected, because he's a shit cop, and barrels on with the witch-hunt that he's concocted in his head.
"Whose grave is this?" he asks, shoving a photo in front of Derek's face.
"Have you been following me?"
Gordinski presses like he hasn't heard Derek, "Whose?"
"I don't know his name," it was the truth. Nobody had known the kid's name. But Derek had looked down at his still body and seen his own face staring back - and it never sat right with him.
"But you led the collection," Gordinski switches out the photo for more of him at the grave, "And you visit him a lot."
"Everytime I come home," Derek isn't ashamed of that, but he has no idea where Gordinski's going with this, "What, you got a crush on me all of a sudden?"
Gordinski's face twitches, and mentally Derek tallies it. Derek:1, Gordinski: 0, he thinks to himself, but is careful to keep his face blank. There's no need to give Gordinski more ammo than he already has.
There's a new photo in front of him, and Derek's brow furrows, "Okay that's me at the youth centre, tossing a ball around with a couple of kids."
"You did a little more than that," Gordinski's alluding to something, but for the life of him, Derek can't figure out what, "This is about you giving one of them a ride home, one of the boys."
Terror creeps into Derek, surely? - "Yeah I did. This kid named, um, Damien. His place was on the way to my mother's."
Gordinski puts down a final photo in front of him, and when Derek sees what it is, he thinks that there should be some sort of law against Gordinski being this smug about a crime scene photo. "Damien Walters," he jabs at the photo, "D O A."
"Fuck," Derek says out-loud, "someone killed him."
"Not somebody Derek," and with sudden clarity, Derek understands what Gordinski's getting at. "You think I did this?"
Gordinski opens his mouth to reply, probably to read him his rights, but there's a knock on the door - and he excuses himself, radiating smugness.
"Fuck," Derek says again, out into the empty cell, listening to it echo against the walls.
The door swings open again, and Derek stands up, fully expecting it to be Hotch. When Spencer steps in however, he loses all of his steam, sagging back down against the desk.
"Spence," he says in a long huff, "What're you doing here? I thought they weren't letting anyone see me?"
"They weren't," Spencer confirms, "but Hotch and Gideon are busy, and I can be convincing. Occasionally. I think I might've talked so much that Gordinski let me in just so that I would stop talking, but it worked right?"
"Yeah it did," he says with relief, and moves to hug Spencer before the metal around his wrists dig into his skin, "It's good to see you man. How's everything going on out there?"
Spencer's face turns solemn, "It's not great. You were right, Gordinski is convinced that you did this, and he won't listen to any of us when we say you didn't. I really missed out on some crazy years huh?"
"Yeah you did," he chuckles despite the situation he's in, and reaches out to grasp at Spencer's fingers, "Gordinski's had it in for me for ages. It's a good thing you left before that shitstorm hit me."
"Yeah Desiree filled me in when I went to see your family earlier," Spencer's face turns sly, "Speaking of, when were you going to tell me that we were dating?"
Derek's eyes widen. Fuck, that conversation felt like it was an age away. "I'm not saying I'm against it," Spencer continues, "but I do like to be consulted about this stuff."
"Oh you do Pretty boy?" Derek says, just to watch his cheeks heat, "I'm sorry man. It completely slipped my mind, what with the murder charge I'm facing and all."
"I know what you're doing," Spencer hums, "but I'm not letting you off that easy. Desiree thinks that we've been dating for close to a year. Says you talk about me all the time. Somehow, I feel like I would've noticed if I was sleeping with the Derek Morgan for a year, but it never came up."
Derek ignores the twitch in his pants at the thought of sleeping with Spencer, and instead says, "Your observational skills clearly need work pretty boy," he jangles the cuffs, "I'll help you out once I'm out of these."
Spencer huffs, but lets the subject be, "Are you sure you don't know who's got it out for you Derek? I'm not saying that Gordinski is right, but you have to admit - it's a hell of a coincidence that bodies drop every single time you're in town. It's almost a statistical impossibility. The only logical explanation is that someone's setting you up."
Carl Buford, Derek thinks instantly, almost unbidden. He dismisses the thought almost instantly though, even though it ruminates in his mind. "Rodney Harris, he's a local gangbanger in town. He's had it out for me ever since we were kids. It’s gotta be him Spence."
"I think Hotch is running down some leads now," Spencer says with a nod, "I'll tell the team though. Get all of us on it. Are you sure there's nobody else Derek?"
Carl Buford, he thinks again, but he shakes his head. He's not ready for the team to know that about him yet. He's not ready for anybody to know that about him yet, least of all Spencer.
He knows that Spencer can sense he's lying, but thankfully, he drops it. He's almost at the door when Spencer turns back to him and says, "I didn't hate it. Being your boyfriend. Wished you'd actually asked me, but - I didn't hate it."
He's out of the holding cell before Derek can formulate a response.
Despite his loud, emphatic protests otherwise, all roads lead back to Carl Buford. Derek is still smarting about the fact that Hotch dug into his past, when he specifically told him to leave it the fuck alone, but he takes small comfort in the fact that the rest of the team seems any the wiser.
He can't escape his Ma and sisters though, and there's a lot of tears and hugs in the Morgan household that night.
"I never knew," his Ma says desperately, cheeks wet, "you have to believe me Derek. I never knew what he was capable of. I wouldn't have pushed you to reconnect with him if I'd known."
"I know Ma," he soothes, and brings the her palm to his lips to press a dry kiss to the back of it, " 'Course I know that."
"Were there others?" Desiree asks bravely, even though Ma turns to her with a sharp look, "Did he have, others?"
"I don't know," Derek says honestly. "I'm sure he did. Abusers," his voice cracks over the word abuser, but he pushes ahead, "generally have multiple victims. It's why I made it a point to keep up with kids like James, just in case he ever did something - I wanted them to think they had someone to tell."
"Shit load of good it did, since Buford still fucked him up anyway. But at least now," he takes a steading breath, "At least now he's behind bars. James has still got time. Time to get over it, to make a new life for himself. I just hope it's enough." His Ma starts crying again then, collapsing in his arms, and Derek just holds up. He feels Desiree wraps her arms around his neck and lean against his back.
He's loath to leave them the next day, but his leave is up, and JJ got wind of a new case that demands their attention. Still, it's not easy walking out of his Ma's house and onto the plane, especially not with everything that's ever come out.
There are a few advantages of being back with the BAU though.
"You didn't hate it huh?" he knocks at Spencer's shoulder, grinning when he blushes, "I believe those were your exact words?"
"I'm the one with the eidetic memory," Spencer replied wryly, "your shtick is muscles. Stop taking my stuff."
"Oh is that how it is?" Derek raises an eyebrow, "I'm not gonna let you skirt past this pretty boy, we're having this conversation. There's nowhere to run anymore."
Spencer looks around the plane like he's looking for an exit anyway, and Derek softens, "Hey. If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. But there's a reason I never came clean with Desiree." He moves to get out of his seat, give Spencer some space, but a hand on his bicep stops him.
"Did you know," Spencer says, apropos of nothing, "that our mothers had a bet going about whether we were going to get together. She told me during one of her more lucid moments. Said the thing she regretted most about leaving Chicago was separating us."
"I did," Derek says gamely, "Desiree told me about it when I first told her that we were dating."
"I had the biggest crush on you," Spencer says, admitting it like it's a secret, which - given how long it's been since they were kids in Chicago, Derek supposes it is, "Still do, if I'm being honest."
Derek's heart is pumping so loudly in his chest, he can hear his blood roaring. "As long we're being honest," he says with a lilt, but reaches down and intertwines their fingers.
Spencer looks down at where their fingers are joined, and back up at him, and Derek knows that he gets it from the way his face splits into a wide smile. Before either of them can say anything though, Derek's phone buzzes, and he fishes it out of his pocket with this free hand.
>> Hotch: I expect the paperwork on my desk by the end of the week. Congratulations.
Spencer and Derek look up at Hotch simultaneously, but he's looking down at his book. There's a smile playing on his lips though, and despite himself, Derek smiles too.