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Hot Rhythms

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"Come on, Derek, you'll be one to oblige me just this once, won't you," Savannah insisted, glancing down at Morgan, who had made himself comfortable on the couch. "After all, how often do I pick where we go out?"

Morgan sighed. "Honey, I don't mind you picking something. But does it have to be a Latin dance club? I heard about a new disco very close to your favorite Italian place. Wouldn't you rather go out for dinner first and then see what the disco is like?"

But Savannah put her hands on her hips and Derek already knew he had lost this discussion. "Don't be like that. I hear the club is great. Mirjam and Sarah have been there with their boyfriends, too. And they were quite enthusiastic."

Peter and Damian were probably less enthusiastic, Derek thought. Only the partners of Savannah's friends weren't allowed to show it. They were under the henhouse, after all. And now he had to be careful that the same didn't happen to him.

"This dancing by the rules is so not my thing," Derek tried to find a way out, building himself up in front of his girlfriend. "You know I'm a rebel." He took Savannah in his arms, pulled her close, and then purred in her ear. "Hot and dirty, that's my motto, and you can't do that in a stilted dance posture. And I know how much you like it when I remind you of the bedroom while we are still dancing."

"Derek!", Savannah admonished him playfully, giggling. "We won't get out of the house like this at all!"

"Do we even have to," Morgan echoed. "We can go upstairs right now, can't we? That's where I'll show you how the mattress waltz works." He grinned suggestively.

"Derek Morgan! Not like that!" said Savannah suddenly firmly, freeing herself from Derek's arms. "I'm not going to let sex get in the way of my plans. I promised Mirjam and Sarah we'd meet them at the club tonight. And unless you'd rather spend the night on the sofa, you're coming with me."

Ouch! thought Morgan. So much for being careful so he wouldn't be pussy-whipped.

"I'm going to make a total fool of myself," he tried another tactic. "Peter and Damian at least have some idea how to dance this stuff - cha cha, rumba, mambo, whatever. You're not seriously going to make a fool of yourself with me?"

But Savannah tilted her head. "You're not a fool, Derek. You've got rhythm in your blood and some eyes in your head to pick up a few steps from the other men there. So finally give up making any more excuses. Or: I might as well throw your bedding down the stairs."

Morgan rolled his eyes. Yes, he could call his bluff, of course, and pick a fight with Savannah over something like going to the club. But was it really worth it?

"Okay, you know, the smart one gives in. You'll get your way," he conceded defeat. "But don't complain to me later when I keep stepping on your toes."

Savannah grinned and immediately returned to Derek's arms. "No complaints. And when we get back, I'll show you what you can do with a salsa hip-swing in bed."

Chapter Text

Resigned to his fate, Derek stood at the bar of the Latin dance club Noche Cubana, clutching his mojito. His patience was already being severely tested now that he had entered the club with Savannah only a few minutes ago. Either Savannah had made a thorough mistake about the time, or she had dragged him here way too early on purpose. The whole room was brightly lit, but not really densely populated yet. Music was playing in the background, the typical Latin American sounds, but much too quiet for an evening of dancing. And the spectacle in front of him! Oh, that had certainly been Savannah's intention, but he definitely wasn't going to be pussy-whipped like that.

On the well-lit dance floor, nearly two dozen couples had gathered - and were practicing some dance steps under the guidance of a Latino who might have come out of a Brasilian guidebook. In the middle of it all were Savannah's friends with their partners and not far from them, slightly sulking, his Savannah. Yes, of course she had tried to get him to join this introductory class. But such a henpecked man as Peter and Damian he was far from being. The two men now had to take turns being dance partners for all three women.

Derek might have been persuaded to dance with Savannah at some point, but now he felt pretty screwed. She had planned all this, after all. But not with him.

At least the bartender could whip up a good mojito. Derek expected to cling to the bar all evening. Initially, he had hoped that freestyle dancing could be done at this club, but the dance class suggested that it wasn't necessarily desired or common here.

"In a moment, the basic salsa step will be shown. At least come with me now," Savannah addressed Derek from the side, trying to grab his hand to drag him onto the floor. "No need, honey," Derek countered in a tone that should have made it clear to her that there was no way he was up for this. "I gave in to you and came here with you. There was never any question of me making an ass of myself at some class."

"So Peter and Damian are making an ass of themselves?" inquired Savannah, piqued.

"If they want to learn to dance, they're welcome to it. But it's not my thing. And if you had let me in on it before, I could have told you that right away."

Savannah stuck her lower lip forward, pouting. "Can't you do me a little favor? There I am with the best-looking man here, but he's just not paying attention to me."

Derek shook his head. "I do pay attention to you, my little viper. I just don't play the rabbit who lets you lull and then devour him. If you want any more attention ... then let's get out of here. Home." Derek leaned closer to Savannah. "Or, if that's too far for you, then out the back way," he murmured in her ear. "I can pay you a lot of attention there."

He felt his words having the desired effect on Savannah, and saw the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. "Is that what you want? A quick, hot ride?" he murmured, planting a kiss on the back of her neck. "That'll give me a chance to show you what a hip-swing I've got."

"Derek," Savannah whispered.

"Yes, sweetheart?" He had her almost ready. Carefully, he nibbled on her neck.

"Please!"

"Come on, let's ..."

"Hey, find a room for what you're up to here," Peter laughed, slapping Derek hard on the shoulder.

Damn, Derek thought to himself, as Savannah immediately broke away from him and moved to safety between Mirjam and Sarah. Couldn't Savannah's friends have stayed on the dance floor for a few more minutes? He had almost had her ready to leave with him.

"Well, how about salsa, rumba and the other stuff. Are you going to be a dance god now, Peter?" taunted Derek, who could see from where he was sitting that Peter kept tripping over his own feet. "At least I'm trying," the latter returned good-humoredly. "Which is more than I can say for you."

"I'm just not one for rules when it comes to the dance floor," Derek explained, taking a sip of his mojito. "Next time you guys come with me to a disco I pick. Then I'll show you how to move while dancing in a way that will make the ladies go weak just looking at you."

"Does that mean you're going to let Savannah watch all night tonight?" inquired Mirjam, at the same time signaling to the bartender that she wanted a mojito as well. "Oh, I'm sure Peter would love more opportunities to hone his dancing skills. And you sure do share a little with your best friend, don't you?" grinned Derek.

At that moment, the lights in the club were turned down. "I won't be accused of not being a good friend," Mirjam returned. "But for now, I'll keep Peter to myself for a few dances."

As if that had been the sign, the DJ turned the music up louder at that moment. Derek noticed that the club was slowly filling up, and the first couples - especially those who had just been practicing so diligently - were making their way to the dance floor. Mirjam and Sarah also moved off with their boyfriends, while Savannah watched indecisively.

"I can recommend the mojito. It's really good," Derek said. "You want me to order you one?"

Savannah nodded. Derek knew for a fact that she hadn't given up yet. She would surely try to drag him onto this floor a few more times, but he was determined not to give in.

---

An hour later, Derek was torn. He was bored and drinking more alcohol to forget his boredom, he didn't want that either. He could give in to Savannah and somehow dance with her now after all, or he could leave. Neither option was really optimal. But Savannah had so far resisted his repeated attempts to coax her into a quickie in some back alley. Meanwhile, in addition to Damian and Peter, she had found two or three men who were obviously here without female companionship and who didn't mind her boyfriend watching her dance with them from the bar. In that respect, at least for Savannah, boredom was not a problem.

By now, the club was not only well filled, it could almost be described as crowded. And obviously most of the people had really come here to dance. There were some beginners among the dancers, but clearly also a lot of people who really had the Latin American rhythms in their blood. Derek also estimated that at least seventy percent of those present were here with a steady partner. A comparatively high rate, considering that dancing is often meant to initiate acquaintances and relationships.

From his stool at the bar, Derek let his eyes wander over the dancing crowd. Savannah was not far from him, Sarah and Damian in close proximity to her. Mirjam and Peter - the two had moved a little more towards the middle of the dance floor.

The slow song that had just been playing - a rumba, Derek guessed - was gradually fading out. Savannah didn't give the impression of wanting to come back to him. The rhythm changed, something clearly faster was played, and Derek tapped his foot along with the beat. Salsa, perhaps?

More movement was coming to the dance floor, but it wasn't just from the change in dance steps, as Derek noticed from his vantage point. Something or someone was getting the crowd moving at the other end of the dance floor, like a sea parting and coming back together.

The dancers there were clearly making way for someone. Curious, Derek watched the spot where he suspected the person that had triggered it. Like a wave, the movement continued toward the center of the dance floor, and Derek could perceive that it was a pair of dancers moving roomily to the salsa rhythm, who were respectfully given way. A pretty Latina with long black hair and a tight-fitting gold sequined dress was in the arms of a tall slender man. Sexy was the first word that came to Derek's mind as he watched the couple. And confident. The two seemed right at home on this dance floor. The man Derek could only see from behind at the moment, but he guessed he must be Latino as well. His long, slender legs were tucked into tight black pants, and he wore a relatively loose white shirt. His long hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, and only a few strands seemed to frame his face.

Surely the man led his partner across the parquet, pulled her close to him and pushed her off again in quick turns. One moment their hips nestled close together, the next moment he leads her in quick circles around him.

Derek stared at the couple as if mesmerized, yet noticing that some of the dancers on the floor felt the same way. In the meantime, a small free area had opened up around the dancing couple, which they used cleverly - and which gave the spectators more insight.

Frowning, Derek fixed his gaze on the man. The young woman was admittedly very sexy and extremely provocative in her movements. But there was something about the man that captivated him. He seemed ... somehow familiar to Derek.

Morgan stumbled. He knew this man. He was almost certain of that now. If only he would turn around once now that his view of him was almost clear, so that he could look at his face.

At that moment, the man did just that, leading his partner in a turn in Derek's direction, turning to face him.

"Reid?" groaned Derek in amazement.

Chapter Text

Thoughtfully, Morgan regarded himself in the mirrored sidewalls of the elevator that would take him to his office. He looked pretty similar to the reason for his discomfort today: tie slightly askew, shirt not freshly ironed, eyes small, dark-rimmed and hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. When Reid showed up at the office like this, he'd usually spent the night poring over some files instead of sleeping. Anyone who saw him now, however, would think he had a severe hangover.

But in fact, the reason for his predicament was the unexpected encounter with Reid rather than excessive drinking. Whereby one could almost not speak of encounter. Derek cursed himself inwardly as he stepped off the elevator and quickly made his way to his office. There he might be able to hide for a few minutes until the others showed up.

Why had he given Savannah such a bad time about the club? He alone was to blame for not being able to investigate the phenomenon he had stumbled upon so unexpectedly yesterday.

Derek had slid off his stool when he'd recognized Reid on the dance floor - more for the surprise than for the reason that he'd really wanted to move. Reid's face had been visible to him only briefly, then his dance partner had slid in front of him, with her high heels she was almost as tall as Spencer himself. When the song had finally slowly faded away, Derek had wanted to make sure he had seen correctly, but at that very moment Savannah had approached him and told him that they were now going home. She would have no more desire to see his pouting figure on the edge of the dance floor.

She had quickly brushed aside his objections that he had seen a friend. "Where?" she'd asked. And when he'd gone to show her Reid, he'd found that the young man had disappeared from the dance floor.

So it had come to pass that he had really gone home with Savannah. They had gone to bed, had had sex, but Derek, strangely enough, had not fallen asleep immediately afterwards, as he usually did. Rather, he had lain awake for hours thinking about whether Reid had really been at the dance club or whether he had imagined it all out of sheer boredom.

As a result, he was anything but fit today. He hadn’t also expected that today, on a Sunday morning, that they would already be ordered back to the office.

Derek threw his leather jacket on the chair in front of his desk and plopped down on the other one behind it.

The relationship with Savannah was getting really serious. She had practically moved in with him - without ever asking him - and spent every day he was at Quantico at his house. They had been together for a little over a year now, and what Derek appreciated about her was that he never had to justify his job and the frequent travel it entailed. She was a very busy woman herself and had successfully built a career for herself. She knew that such a thing was only possible if one cut back privately.

Admittedly, Savannah really had a mind of her own and didn't always make life easy for him. When she set her mind to something, she did everything she could to get to her goal. And that often meant that Derek had to give in to her, even if something went against the grain for him. But then again, he was glad she wasn't just a fashionista. A beautiful shell alone, he knew very well, could not capture his attention in the long run.

But what would it look like when he took the next step in their relationship? First, he'd probably suggest Savannah move in with him for real. Okay, that was doable. She would certainly want to modify his house; she had already more than hinted that she didn't like everything. But that wouldn't really be a problem. And if in doubt, they could move. Derek owned a couple of other houses that were currently rented out, and one that he was currently remodeling. They could set up a new home somewhere together there, too.

Then engagement and marriage? Those were already on a slightly different page. Derek had a funny feeling about promising eternity to another person. Far too often he had seen the drama that came from such eternities. That was one item he definitely wanted to put off for some time.

And finally, there was the big question of children. Derek liked kids, he was good with them. But children of his own? That would mean Savannah would have to scale back her career. He knew she wanted kids, she had hinted at that a few times. But he wasn't sure she wanted to give up her career because of it. But it really had to be clear to her that he wasn't going to be the stay-at-home dad like J.J.’s Will was. No, children probably had no place in his life at the moment.

Derek was puzzled. How had he just come up with all these thoughts in the first place?

Oh yes, there was the question of whether he had actually seen Reid at Noche Cubana. If he hadn't spoiled Savannah's evening like that, he might have had a chance to get to the bottom of it on the spot. But now his only option was to grill Spencer here about his secret as soon as he showed up. Because that it was a secret, that was clear. Never had Spencer even hinted that he could dance, let alone how well. The image of the confident and also amazingly erotic dancer just wouldn't leave Derek's mind.

Morgan was suddenly jolted out of his thoughts by a knock on his door.

"Yeah," he called out shortly, and already J.J. was poking her head in.

"I'm glad you're here already. I'll meet you in the briefing room in five minutes," she explained briefly before disappearing again.

Derek adjusted the sunglasses on his nose. Off to the fray. He just hoped that for once they had a case that didn't take them across the entire continent.

Chapter Text

Just under an hour's drive, that was an extremely comfortable distance. The new case led them to Arlington Heights, where several women had disappeared within the past two weeks. The local police had not yet discovered any connection and had not even been sure whether any crimes had been committed. But last night, another woman had disappeared, and this time everything pointed to an abduction. Sally Foster had talked to her husband on the phone while she was on her way back from the hospital, where she had finished her late shift. The young mother worked there as a nurse. She should have arrived home a few minutes after the phone call, but she never did. Her husband had tried in vain to reach her. Then he had called the hospital to find out whether she might have been ordered back there. But there they had assumed she would be home by now. Finally, Mr. Foster had asked a neighbor to watch the children, had gotten into his car, and had driven the distance to the hospital. But nowhere could he find any sign of his wife. And calls to her cell phone only went to voicemail.

"If the women hadn't all disappeared in the same part of town, it probably wouldn't have occurred to anyone even now that the cases were related," Spencer said as he flipped through the still relatively thin file during the drive. With Sally Forster, there were a total of six missing persons cases, and in at least three of them, Arlington police so far seemed to have assumed that the women had left their homes voluntarily. "Do you actually know that more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the United States every year? And that nearly one-sixth of those cases are never solved? What's encouraging is that the number of missing persons, however, has decreased by nearly 200,000 over the last 20 years, but that still leaves too many cases, in my opinion. Surprisingly, statistically speaking, about as many women as men go missing. Yet one always has the impression that there could be more women, doesn't one? But that's only true if you look exclusively at children and young people. Among those under 21, significantly more females go missing than males; among those over 21, it's the other way around. When you put missing persons in relation to state residents, Washington ranks fifth. Surprisingly, in first place is Alaska. And did you know that kidnappings haven't even been shown separately in our statistics for that long? There are more than 14,000 kidnappings across the U.S. each year, and frighteningly, more than half of them involve children and young adults. Unfortunately, I can't recall any statistics right now that say how many adult women are abducted each year."

"It's a really good thing we always take you walking encyclopedia with us," Derek grumbled as he focused on the traffic. "Anyway, our kind can't remember all those statistics that easily. So what do you derive from that for our case now?"

"Hmm," Spencer mused. "If I distribute the abduction cases proportionally to the missing persons cases by state, I can say that the likelihood that we're dealing with six abductions here is significantly higher in Arlington than in cities in most other states. However, a proportional distribution is purely a guess on my part. I don't know statistics on that."

"So I don't see how that gets us anywhere now. But we may still need your statistics at some point," Morgan conceded to Spencer, who seemed a bit disappointed that his knowledge had no practical use right now.

Derek pondered how to bring the conversation to the last evening as cleverly as possible without just blurting out his question. But Reid had already stuck his nose back into the file and seemed to know nothing but work. But maybe that was the starting point, Derek reflected.

"I was hoping we'd have a quiet weekend. After all, I have usually plans for my free time," he explained. But Reid didn't respond.

"Didn't you have plans?"

Again, no response.

"Hey, Reid, it's not quite as easy to keep up a conversation when the person you're talking to isn't talking," Derek finally complained vehemently.

His name finally snapped Spencer out of his thoughts. "What did you mean?" he asked innocently, finally raising his face.

"I wanted to know if the case was spoiling any plans for you," Morgan repeated.

Spencer shook his head. "Nothing that couldn't easily be postponed."

So there were plans, Morgan inwardly triumphed.

"Did you have to postpone a date," he probed further.

Morgan could see out of the corner of his eye as his question jerked Reid's head toward him. "What makes you think that?"

"Well, it's not that far-fetched. You're not going to tell me you never date, are you?" Now he had to pay attention. Spencer still acted shy and awkward when it came to women, even mentioning them and him in the same sentence. If he started stuttering too much now, there was definitely something to the date thing.

"What ... why ... I ... no, no date. I didn't postpone a date," Reid brought out with difficulty, and Morgan could see him ducking his head at that. Either he'd hit it out of the park with that, or there was something else the boy wanted to keep secret.

"Too bad, I really would have liked you to," Morgan declared generously. "You get away from your books far too rarely." Derek paused briefly to lull Spencer into a sense of security, then followed up, "What did you do yesterday?"

"I ... why ... why do you want to know that now?" stammered Spencer a counter question.

"Just because. Maybe I can get some ideas from you. You know I have to keep Savannah happy." Something was definitely up, Morgan was sure. And he would keep tapping a little further.

"Is that so difficult?" tried Reid to deflect. And for a moment, he made Derek wonder. Yes, sometimes it was indeed difficult to maintain harmony with Savannah. Yesterday had been an excellent example of that. But then again, that balanced out with the days when they were in complete agreement.

"Sometimes," Derek confessed. "I think it's like that in every relationship. Sometimes it's easier, sometimes it's harder. I'm sure you know that."

And there it was again, the blush that rose to Reid's face when the conversation turned to his love life. The boy didn't give an answer to that. So Morgan followed right back up, "But you were about to tell me what you did yesterday. Where were you out and about?"

"I didn't want anything like that," Reid immediately protested. "I ... I wasn't anywhere. At home. Reading. I was reading."

Derek shook his head. "If you'd been at home reading, I would have gotten a detailed paper on your current reading the first time I asked. So don't fib to me. It's not like what you did was that bad."

Spencer shook his head vehemently. "I didn't do anything interesting."

Okay, so he wasn't getting anywhere here, Morgan reasoned. If the boy wasn't to voluntarily spill the beans, then he would just go confrontational after all. "Funny, and I thought I saw you yesterday."

"What, where?" asked Reid immediately, startled, and his face had such a horrified expression that Derek promptly had to laugh. "So I guess you weren't home after all. Because otherwise it would be obvious that I couldn't have seen you anywhere. Or are you going to tell me the story of the evil twin again."

"You couldn't have seen me anywhere either," Spencer insisted.

"Not even at the Noche Cubana," Morgan played his last trump card.

"You ... n... no. You ... you have to turn there," Reid stammered, suddenly looking quite pale.

Derek put on his blinker and took the path Spencer directed him. "And I don't know what a Noche Cubana is. So you didn't see me there either. You probably had too much to drink," Reid was now babbling away. "It really shows in your face today how overindulged you are. Haven't you seen those dark circles under your eyes? I'm sure Savannah could have covered them for you with some makeup. Didn't you know that generally speaking, a third of all men are willing to wear discreet makeup, or do? So you'd be in good company. And it wouldn't be as ridiculous as wearing sunglasses to the office so people can't see the marks of the previous night on your face."

When Spencer took a quick breath, Derek drove into his tirade with a loud laugh. "Okay, okay, I get it. No more preaching or statistics. You were never at the Noche Cubana, I definitely couldn't have seen you there. And there's certainly no chance of that happening in the future. Because you're not going out, and I'm certainly not going to let Savannah drag me there again."

To Derek, Spencer's reaction was a clear sign that he had been to the club. But if he wasn't going to confess, then he would just have to find another way to get behind Spencer's secret. Maybe it was related to his dance partner. It was funny, though, that Derek could hardly remember her.

Chapter Text

"Okay, let's go over this again," Hotch asked as he sat down at the table across from Philip Foster. Morgan slid Foster a cup of coffee and then sat down as well. "What time exactly did you talk to your wife on the phone?"

"Her shift ended at 9:30. I checked it on the cell phone: It was 9:44 p.m. when she called me. She told me she just got in the car. But I already told all that to Captain Flinch and his people. Why isn't anyone out there looking for her?" Desperately, Foster ruffled his hair.

Morgan could clearly see from the man's facial expressions and gestures that he was in the greatest concern for his wife, a clear sign that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. Thus, they could already rule that out.

"We prefer to hear the facts firsthand. And we sometimes ask different questions than the local police," Hotch explained patiently. "That usually puts us on the right track."

"Okay, okay, what else do you need to know?" relented Foster, sinking back into his chair. "I'll tell you anything, but you have to find her. Please, you have to bring her back to me."

Hotch nodded.

"Tell us about the phone call," Derek prompted the man. "What was it about?"

"Nothing in particular, really. Sally tries to leave work at work, too. And if she's having a hard time doing that, sometimes she calls when she's on her way home to get everything off her chest. Then when she gets there, she can completely forget about her job," Foster explained.

"So something's been bothering her, then?" prodded Hotch.

"Nothing bad. She had an argument with a colleague. It was about some patient trying to bribe the nurses to get special treatment. And Sally can't stand that sort of thing to death. I guess her colleague was happy to take the money, and they got into an argument about that."

Hotch nodded and makes a quick note.

"We'd need the name of the colleague," Morgan said.

But Foster shook his head. "She didn't tell me that. She never says who it is. I never get names from the patients either. Do you think, then, that the matter has anything to do with Sally's disappearance?"

"It's too early to tell," Morgan explained, "but we're following up on every lead."

"Has your wife told you anything else?" inquired Hotch.

Foster shook his head.

"Approximately how long did your phone call last?"

"I can tell you exactly. It was 14 minutes and 27 seconds. The length of the call was recorded by my cell phone."

"So your wife had already traveled most of the way home by the time she ended the call," Morgan recapped. "Was there a reason she hung up early and didn't continue the call until you would be home?"

"Actually, no. She had told what she wanted to tell. And we knew we'd see each other in a minute."

"Well, let's go into everything else you heard on the phone call besides your wife. What do you remember about that?" asked Hotch.

"Besides my wife? Nothing at all. What would I have heard there?" Foster was visibly confused.

"The first question is whether there might have been someone else in the car with your wife," Morgan explained. "Could you hear another voice, perhaps a rustling, coughing or loud breathing that couldn't have come from your wife? It could have been a soft noise in the background."

Foster shook his head. "I don't remember anything about that. I know that shortly after we started talking on the phone, an ambulance drove by her. It was clearly audible, and Sally even had to repeat the last sentence she said because I didn't understand it."

Derek nodded. "It's good if you remember it. Stay with that thought. Were there any other sounds they could hear from the street after the ambulance? Go through the entire time of your phone call."

Foster closed his eyes, and it was obvious how hard he was concentrating. "At one point, a car honked. The streets are still surprisingly busy at this hour. And at one of the big intersections, Sally was cursing violently because the car that had to stop behind her at the red light must have had its high beams on, and it was blinding her pretty badly. After that ... hmm ... I think just before we ended the conversation, a police car with a siren went by her. But that's ... that's all I remember."

"That was really good," Hotch said. "We can definitely do something with that already. Now let's talk about your wife's habits and yours. There are rarely spontaneous abductions. We're assuming your wife was chosen for some reason, possibly knowing the perpetrator - or you knowing him."

Morgan nodded briefly at Hotch before standing up. They already had a first clue. This they should follow up on immediately.

Morgan walked out of the office that had been made available to them at the Arlington Police Department and looked around. He was standing in the middle of the central area of the precinct, where there were a plethora of desks. Where had his colleagues put Reid now?

Derek stopped a police officer who was about to walk past him and inquired about the boy.

"That doctor who keeps us all on our toes here?" the cop inquired. Morgan nodded. That could only be Reid. "Down that hallway to the right and then the first door on the right. And when you get to him, would you please tell him to get his own coffee? Maps, bulletin boards, markers - that's all fine. But he should take care of his own personal stuff himself."

Derek nodded. "I'm sure he didn't mean to upset you with that," he said with a grin. "I'll bring him the coffee, if you'll just tell me where the coffee kitchen is around here."

The cop pointed him in the right direction, and for two minutes Morgan juggled two coffee cups and two donuts through the door behind which they had shoved Spencer. The cops had probably already guessed it was better to get the boy out of the way before he caused chaos throughout the open office with his research.

"Can you get me some more blue flags?" inquired Reid, without turning away from the city map. "And maybe another color or two right away. Who knows what else I'll need to mark here."

"Kid, this is your personal coffee delivery person, not the fairy godmother. You just pissed off the fairy in uniform pretty good, by the way," Derek grinned, setting his loot from the kitchen down on a small box.

Now Spencer looked up in confusion. "What did I do?"

"Wouldn't you think it a little rude if someone in our office asked you to organize coffee?"

"Oh," Spencer went on. "I didn't mean to be rude. But ... I don't know his name ... but he asked me if he should bring me anything else. That's when I thought coffee was included in the offer."

Morgan had to laugh out loud. "If you want people to keep talking to you here, you better get your coffee yourself. Now take this one before it gets cold." Morgan pressed one of the two cups into his hand and then sat down at the table. "Foster just told me something that might be relevant to his wife's kidnapping. I need you to help me narrow down a location."

"Okay, shoot," Spencer said, turning his full attention to Morgan.

"Mrs. Foster complained during the phone call that a car behind her was blinding her. This was at an intersection with a traffic light. It's possible she was being followed by her captor and he was trying to irritate her by then. And just before the end of the phone call, a police car drove past her, probably in the opposite direction. I want to put Garcia on the job now to get us images from the traffic cameras. And it's possible that the police car also caught the car behind Mrs. Foster driving by with its dash camera. Only now I would need to know approximately where that may have been."

Spencer nodded. "Do you have any time stamps so I know how far away from the hospital she could have been?"

"She's probably been gone more than five minutes and less than ten minutes. I can't be more specific than that, I'm afraid."

Spencer nodded again, then turned to the map of the city behind him. "Can you organize me another detailed map of Arlington Heights? I can't mark the details very well on the overall map of Arlington."

"Wishing on the fairy godmother again, kid? Well, I'll see what I can do." Morgan got up, grabbed one of the donuts, and headed off to get Spencer the materials he needed - preferably including the flags, so he wouldn't drive the cops here even more crazy.

Chapter Text

"Hey, baby girl, how's my sweetie today?" inquired Morgan as he entered Garcia's computer den the next morning. Unlike Hotch, Reid and Prentiss, he could save himself a trip to Arlington Heights today. Hotch had set him to working with Penelope to dig up comparable kidnapping series and find out if there might be any connections to them.

"When I'm with you, I can't help but feel good," Garcia immediately purred. "It just always makes me feel so terribly hot."

Morgan grinned. "Want me to get you a little cooling off?"

"Don't you want to see me melt in your arms?"

"Don't tempt me!" Morgan winked at her, then sat down next to her in front of the monitor wall. "Before we get started, I have a little something. You, great oracle, always know everything. Can you give me a little of your infinite wisdom?"

"What do you want to know, wisdom seeker?"

"Two things, actually: Did you hear anything about Reid having a girlfriend? And, did you know that Reid is half a professional dancer?"

Garcia nearly choked on her tea, which she was about to take a sip of. "Reid has what, please? And he's what? You can't just throw something like that in my face."

"Then you don't know about it?" inquired Derek.

Penelope shook her head. "Now, you tell me right now where you got these rumors."

"Less rumors, more observations," Derek explained.

"You've seen him? With a woman? And you're sure she's his girlfriend?", Garcia immediately wanted to know.

"I'm not sure about anything, or I wouldn't be asking you."

"Then why don't you start talking and stop letting everything come out of your nose so laboriously?"

Appeasingly, Derek raised his hands. "Take it easy, my girl. Take a break for a minute and I'll tell you everything I know." And he told Penelope about his trip with Savannah to the Noche Cubana dance club and that he was sure he saw Spencer there. "However, he denies everything. Supposedly he's been at home reading. He wouldn't know the club. You can't imagine that: I'm really sure that must have been Reid. And on the other hand, it's so unlike him."

"Did you imagine it, perhaps? Did the dancer maybe just look like him?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean. Reid and dancing, that doesn't go together. To do that, you have to have a sense of your fellows, you have to be able to interact with them normally - not to mention be able to move appropriately. And we all know how awkward Reid can be - in terms of people and movement," Derek said. But at the same time, he couldn't get the image out of his head. The dancer looked a bit foreign, in the club's disco lights, with the unfamiliar hairstyle and clothes he'd never seen on him before. And yet: the face had clearly been Spencer's. "I'm not mistaken. That was Reid."

"And with his girlfriend?"

"Well, I'm not so sure about that. But the way he led that woman across the dance floor, he must know her pretty well. I don't think a woman would otherwise go toe-to-toe with a man like that."

Garcia stared at Derek in disbelief. "And then how big is the harem you've amassed over the years? I remember dozens of women who have gone toe-to-toe with you without being your girlfriend. Hell, I'd go toe-to-toe with you any time!"

Derek grinned wryly. "Okay, okay, that argument didn't hold water. But then again, I did say I wasn't sure she was his girlfriend. A Latina she certainly is, petite, dark-haired, quite pretty. I wonder where he met her. Women like that don't usually walk around in any libraries or archives."

"You chauvinist!" immediately outraged Garcia. "Just because a woman is pretty doesn't mean she can't be intelligent or intellectual. Does Savannah know you talk about women like that?"

Morgan groaned. "Don't you dare tell her. Who knows how long she'll banish me to the couch if you do."

"Yeah, yeah, the big, strong men," Penelope chuckled. "If they're threatened with a little sex deprivation, they'll give up in a heartbeat."

"Savannah is to blame for me bumping into Reid in the first place. If she hadn't wanted to ban me from the bedroom because of that silly club, I wouldn't have seen him at all."

"Well, then you should give Savannah a big smack," Penelope said immediately. "Otherwise, after all, we would never have discovered Spencer's secret."

"And now?"

"And now you let me do a little magic. And get to your work. And as soon as I figure something out, I'll let you know."

"Penelope, you're the best, you know that?"

"Actually, I do, but feel free to tell me more often."

Chapter Text

Tuesday morning brought the entire team to Arlington again. The day before, Hotch, Emily and Reid had interviewed the partners and husbands of the five other missing women. This had strengthened the suspicion that all the cases were probably abductions and not voluntary disappearances. Only in the case of one young woman, Rosalyn Worthington, who had arguments with her boyfriend before she disappeared, was the team not entirely sure.

"Victimology presents a big challenge in this case," Hotch explained at the morning team meeting at the Arlington Police Department, which included several detectives. "At first glance, there are no commonalities that can be identified between these women." He pointed to the pictures of the six women on the bulletin board. In fact, the kidnap victims were of different ages - the youngest was just 19, the oldest 55 - and did not resemble each other visually. In addition to three blondes, there were two brunettes and one redhead, two women had average figures, three were rather athletic, and the last one was rather chubby. There was also a wide range in terms of size,

"The women have completely different occupations, from student to housewife to lawyer," Rossi continued. "And as far as their families and significant others could tell, they didn't know each other. So right now, it's completely unclear what could connect them."

"The only connection that's really obvious," Reid explained, "is the fact that they all live in Arlington Heights. Also, as far as we've been able to trace so far, they were abducted on their way to work or home or while shopping, respectively. No women appear to have disappeared directly from their homes."

"Now that we have no leads on the kidnapper or kidnappers, now that there have been no ransom demands and - thank goodness - no bodies have turned up yet, our attention must turn to how the kidnapper or kidnappers choose their victims," Hotch took the lead again. “That means: We talk to everyone who knows our kidnap victims, to friends, to colleagues at work, if necessary to the cashier at the supermarket where they regularly paid. Our focus has to be on what these women might have in common and where they might have come to the attention of their abductor. Reid and Morgan, you're looking through Rosalyn Worthington's life. This is the student. Ask around the university, interview fellow students and faculty. J.J. and Rossi, you take on Maria Fernandez. This is the 42-year-old housewife and mother. Her husband said she's been active in her church community and various charities. Have a listen there. Prentiss, you're coming with me. We'll take a look at the life of Sally Foster, starting at the hospital.

"And what can my people do?" inquired Captain Flinch.

"First of all, we need an APB on Sally Foster's car," Hotch said immediately. "Also, check with the families of the other victims to see if they may have also disappeared in a vehicle and have them put out an APB on it. Also, we need to follow up on a tip from Mr. Foster. His wife was being harassed by another car driver at an intersection. We were also able to find a recording of this from a traffic camera. However, we can't make out the license plate number of the car or the driver on it. However, there could be a recording of the car on a dash cam of a police car that passed Sally Foster. Dr. Reid has already narrowed down the likely window of time and the route where this must have happened. Find the colleagues who were on duty there that night and evaluate the camera footage. And last but not least: We could use someone to look at all the traffic camera footage on Mrs. Foster's way home. If it's not possible to see what happened, then at least we might be able to narrow down where the abduction happened."

Captain Flinch nodded at the list of orders. "I'll put my people on it right away," he declared, leaving the briefing room with the other officers.

"What are the chances, really, that we'll find all these women alive?" inquired J.J. into the sudden silence of the room.

Reid hesitated briefly before answering, "I don't have statistics for that. But I think if we find them, the chances of them being alive should be relatively high."

"You're thinking organized crime, too," Morgan inquired.

Spencer nodded. "Given that the women who are missing don't fit any particular type, it stands to reason that we're not dealing with a unsub abducting them as a proxy for another woman, for example. That we haven't found a body yet, even though there have been six abductions in two weeks, also suggests that the women are meant to serve a purpose. And that there are several perpetrators behind it. It might be difficult for a single perpetrator to keep six women at bay at the same time."

"What if he has already killed them, after all, and we just haven't found the bodies yet?" inquired JJ.

"That's the reason we can't put a profile out there yet," Hotch opined. "There are still too many uncertainties and too few tangible things. So folks, get to work. We've got a lot to look forward to between now and tonight."

---

As the team made its way out, Derek's cell phone rang.

"Baby Girl, to what do I owe the honor of chatting with you so early in the day?" he inquired cheerfully as he answered the call.

"The miraculous oracle has found something out for you," Garcia fluted back. "Can you talk?"

Morgan looked around briefly. Reid was waiting for him a few steps away. He quickly signified to him that he needed to make a short phone call and retreated once again to the briefing room, closing the door firmly behind him.

"Here we go now, my girl. What did you find out for me?" he then immediately wanted to know.

"What do I get if I tell you all my secrets?" asked Garcia cheekily.

"You'll get your sweet ass spanked if you don't," Morgan playfully threatened. Garcia chuckled. "Well then ... I'll keep a few secrets. My rear is at your disposal."

"Penelope, please!" demanded Morgan impatiently. He certainly didn't have much time before Reid stuck his head in and motioned for him to leave.

"All right, all right," Garcia placated him. "So, I can't tell you if our Spencer is having a secret affair. But ... I can tell you that you're not wrong: He was definitely at the club."

"How do you know?"

"Do you really want me to tell you my ... okay, okay, I can literally see your impatience right now. Don't puff so tense. I've been playing with my computer some time and spying on Spencer a little bit," Garcia explained. And she paused for an artistic pause before continuing, "You owe me one, because I've been watching a lot of traffic camera videotape. Thank goodness there's one right outside the club. Long night at work, short result: I spotted Spencer on some of the footage and was also able to somewhat trace his path to the club. It's definitely him. However, he is neither in nor out of the club with someone in tow. In other words, I can't tell you if there's anything going on with any women."

"Baby girl, you're the best!" exclaimed Derek. "So I can trust my eyes and my mind after all. I really owe you for that."

"I'll take your word for it, my chocolate muffin," Penelope returned. "And I expect to be informed immediately if you learn anything new regarding Spencer."

"I will tell you, my darling, I will," Morgan promised, "and rest assured, I'll get to the bottom of it."

With that, he ended the call. Right now, he needed to get on the case. But then he needed a plan to get to the bottom of Reid.

Chapter Text

"Um ... hi ... sorry, can I interrupt you for a second," Reid asked the female students who were just coming out of a small seminar room. "That ... that was just ... um … the course ... so history, cultural history, American cultural history from 1900 on, wasn't it?"

Derek kept a little distance, watching the scene in front of him. They had decided that Spencer should try to interview the female students because he was closer in age to them than Morgan, and besides, there was nothing intimidating about him at all.

One of the four young women Spencer had stopped nodded in agreement. "But the course just ended. You're too late if you wanted to get in there," she explained, giving Spencer an assessing look. "Besides, Mr. Kogler doesn't take new students during the semester."

Morgan snorted softly. That had been almost to be expected: The girls thought Spencer was a student looking for his course.

"No, I ... I wasn't looking to get into the course," Reid explained, sounding as rattled as he looked. "I ... then you ... you usually take the course with Rosalyn Worthington. You ... you know her, don't you?"

"Why do you want to know?" another of the girls inquired.

"I ... oh, I forgot ..." Reid rummaged in his pants pocket and pulled out his ID. "I'm with the FBI."

The looks on the four young women's faces immediately revealed that they didn't believe a word Spencer said. One even grabbed the ID and looked at it closely. "There's no way that's real. You're way too young to be with the FBI."

"And why would the FBI be interested in Rosalyn?" another asked.

Morgan saw Reid's hides completely swim away. And now that he at least knew the four women knew Rosalyn, it was time to intervene before they just left Reid standing there.

"Sorry, ladies, if I have to disappoint you," Derek therefore interfered. "But the ID is absolutely genuine. My colleague Dr. Reid," and Derek emphasized the doctorate, as many colleagues did when introducing Spencer, "and I, we're investigating the disappearance of Rosalyn Worthington, so we're looking for people who know her and can tell us about her."

He showed his ID to the female students as well, but immediately noticed that none of them even glanced at it. Sometimes he really felt sorry for Spencer. As insecure and awkward as he was, he often just wasn't taken seriously.

"How can we help you, Mr. ..." One of the women inquired.

"Morgan, actually Supervisory Special Agent Derek Morgan," Derek explained, pulling a couple of business cards out of his pocket to hand to the girls. "And this is my colleague Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid."

Out of the corner of his eye, Derek noticed Reid retrieve his ID and then, in turn, rummage through his messenger bag for business cards - though this went completely unnoticed by the women.

"As I said, we're investigating the disappearance of Rosalyn Worthington, and we're hoping you can tell us a little bit about her, who she's seeing, what she's doing besides studying, especially anything her boyfriend might not know."

It didn't escape Morgan's notice that Reid took a step backward, pulling himself out of the conversation even more than had already happened due to Derek's intervention. But he knew at the same time that Reid would remain a careful observer, analyzing exactly how the female students responded to each question.

"There's not that much to know about Rosalyn," one of the girls explained. "She doesn't live on campus. That's why we don't know her that well."

"So is there anyone who knows her better. A particularly close friend maybe, or a study partner," Morgan inquired.

"Natalie maybe, she's the one I've seen Rosalyn with more often."

"And the last name?"

"Nathalie Porter. She lives in the Christian sorority house on the edge of campus."

Morgan knew better than to take notes. Reid would store it all in his brain instantly.

"And are there any men she might be seeing from time to time? Besides her boyfriend?"

"Honestly, I'm surprised Rosalyn has a boyfriend at all. She doesn't date and she's insanely shy," one of the students explained. "I don't know what else she does, of course, but I don't think she's friends with any men or dating any male students."

This confirmed the impression Derek had already gained from the interview with Rosalyn's friend and family. The girl was more of a loner.

"Has she maybe told ... well ... that she feels ... I mean, that she feels like she's being followed or watched?" interjected Spencer. "Or that there's someone she's having trouble with?"

The female students shook their heads. "None of us are close enough friends with her to tell us anything like that, either," one said.

"But you talk about her disappearing all the time," another spoke up. "What happened?"

"We're trying to find out. When was the last time you saw Rosalyn?" asked Morgan. He suspected they wouldn't learn too much here.

"She was absent from our cultural history class for the first time a week ago, but I honestly don't know if she was gone before that. I thought she was sick."

"We ... we need your names," Spencer agreed. "And the phone numbers. In case we have any questions." He pulled out a pad and jotted down the information - probably more to avoid getting weird looks again, Derek figured, than because he really needed the mnemonic device.

"Ladies, if you think of anything that might be helpful, no matter how trivial, you have my number. Just give me a call," Morgan grinned at the female students. He knew exactly the effect he was having. The inhibition to contact the FBI dropped enormously if the witnesses felt he was trying to flirt with them. Also something Reid either didn't grasp or simply couldn't get across. Rossi, Morgan had seen more often, used this tactic with women, as did Emily and J.J. when it came to male witnesses. Only Hotch didn’t play up his charm. Their team leader was also far too stiff and serious for that.

"We should go see Natalie Porter," Reid said as they said goodbye to the female students. "I don't get the impression that we're hearing more from other students here from other classes Rosalyn has taken. She seems to have rather few social contacts."

That's the right guy talking, Morgan thought to himself. "Can you explain something to me, Reid?" Morgan stopped and waited for Spencer, who had taken two steps away, to turn to him. "Um, what? How I got the impression that Rosalyn has few social contacts? That's ..."

"No, not that," Morgan interrupted him. "How come now you're talking like a book, but earlier when you were supposed to be talking to the girls, you couldn't get a straight sentence out? I don't get it."

Reid looked at Morgan, puzzled. "Now what does that have to do with our case?"

"Nothing and everything. It's so confusing and I never know if I can let you do an interview on your own."

"You don't know what, please? And what do you mean here that you can or can't let me do anything?" outraged Spencer. "You don't get to let me do anything at all. And you know full well that I've been very successful at interrogating people."

"Yes, and equally I know you wouldn't have gotten anything out of those girls if I hadn't intervened," Morgan returned in frustration. "I just don't get it. You can act so confident one minute and the next you're acting like a little schoolboy." And in that moment, Morgan had to think again about the confident dancer that was inside Spencer. It so didn't fit the sad figure he'd just cut again.

"Pfff," Spencer went on. "Have you ever thought that maybe that's because of you, too?"

Now it was Morgan who looked puzzled. "Because of me? What do I have to do with it?"

"The great Derek Morgan exudes confidence and sex appeal like no other. A big bright spotlight that attracts all the moths. How can anyone not feel small and incompetent next to you? What woman will even give me an answer if she can talk to you?" it burst out of Spencer. "Yes, when it comes to expertise, statistics, being able to combine quickly, I can sometimes keep up with you, or the others. I'm confident in those areas. But how can I not be inhibited when you're in the back, and after all, the girls can't take their eyes off you even when I'm addressing them?"

"Um...," Morgan didn't quite know what to say in response.

"Now, let's go find Natalie Porter. Feel free to talk to her. I'll play your shadow. I'm sure you'll get all the answers you want then."

With that, Spencer turned and sped away toward the car they had parked in the lot in front of the faculty building.

Chapter Text

The next morning, the entire BAU team gathered at the Quantico office to compile the results of the surveys. It was frustrating. They had talked to umpteen people, but after a day, they still could not define a consistent victimology. If there was one, the kidnap victims were distinguished primarily by the fact that they had precisely nothing in common. There was no pattern whatsoever that would point to an unsub.

"None of the six women seem to have known any of the others, in fact, even though they live in the same part of town, there doesn't even seem to be a connection through mutual friends or acquaintances," Rossi said. "There's no commonality in terms of work life, in recreational activities or even in terms of their personalities."

Usually, there were always connections of some sort, no matter how coincidental. But this dissimilarity in itself was so unusual that it almost became circumstantial itself.

"What conclusions does that suggest about our perpetrator and his motive if we fail with victimology?" asked J.J. the question that was also troubling the others.

"I think we can safely assume that we're dealing with multiple perpetrators," Morgan opined, "If only because of the number of kidnap victims. But it's also possible they have different preferences in terms of their type of women, and that's why the missing people are so different."

"The question is what happens to the women," Reid added. "I see three scenarios here right now. One, we're dealing with a group of perpetrators who have banded together to provide themselves with women. I'm thinking of a circle here, like we saw with the so-called company in Chicago. Secondly, we are dealing with a cult of which we have not yet found any traces. There are always cults that cause their members to suddenly disappear without a trace. But it could also be that such a cult 'recruits' women in this way. And thirdly, we could be dealing with a human trafficking ring. With these, it's often less about a particular type and more about abducting women as quietly as possible."

Hotch nodded. "All three scenarios could be possible. And all three argue that the women are still alive." But that small glimmer of hope paled in the face of the fact that they currently had no real lead going in any of those directions.

But Morgan bristled. "I tried to find similar cases with Garcia the day before yesterday. We limited ourselves mostly to Virginia and Maryland and found nothing that resembled our case here. But in the process, a couple of missing persons cases slipped in that may now have significance after all. In Philadelphia, there were several missing persons cases in a four-week period, all women. But they were not recorded as abductions."

"What makes you think there might be a connection?" inquired Hotch.

Morgan explained his discovery. The reason the missing persons cases had stuck in his mind was that the reports had all taken place within four weeks of each other last year. All the women had been from Philadelphia; there had been eight or nine cases. However, there was no suggestion of kidnapping in any of them.

"We need the complete files on these missing persons cases. We also need to find out if one or more of the women have resurfaced," Hotch immediately explained. "I'll talk to Garcia and have her also search across state borders for those missing at the time," Morgan confirmed.

"Reid, get on it with J.J. , to follow up on the cult theory," Hotch then gave more assignments. "Try to find out what cults are currently active in Virginia and how they operate. Also talk to Arlington's cult commissioner and the university office to see if there are any known cult activities there."

That, they all realized, was where they could most easily start. It was much more difficult should they actually be dealing with a trafficking ring, or with a group like the Company. There they would only find clues if the perpetrators made a mistake.

"What about the women's cars? After all, three disappeared with their cars. Have the Arlington police found out anything about that yet?" wanted to know Prentiss. But again, there was no result so far. None of the cars had turned up anywhere yet.

Jennifer suggested reaching out to the media. "Who's to say there aren't more missing women? We should let the public know that there is a series of abductions. It's possible that other people will come forward who are missing a wife, girlfriend or daughter." Hotch agreed, telling J.J. to set it up immediately. Then suddenly his ringing phone interrupted the meeting. "Captain Flinch," Hotch explained briefly as he answered the call. "Captain, good morning, our team is conferring about your case at this moment. Is there any news?"

Hotch listened briefly, then explained, "I'll put you on speaker so the team can get the information right away."

"Thank you," Flinch agreed when he was audible to all. "I do indeed have some news, unfortunately not all good. The bad right up front: we got another missing person report last night. Again, a woman from Arlington Heights. I was wondering if any of you could come down and talk to the husband. You have your own methods there."

Hotch promptly agreed and instructed Rossi to get on the road with Emily immediately. He would fill them in on any news later.

"Then to the positive news," Flinch continued. "We have both footage of the car that may have been following Sally Foster and an idea of approximately where she disappeared." However, Flinch had to qualify right away that the license plate of the car recorded by the police car's dash cam was not visible. Perhaps that was exactly what the high beams were intended to do as well. Nevertheless, there was now a description of the car, so they could search for it. What's more, the section within which Sally Foster had been abducted could be narrowed down to three blocks based on the traffic camera footage.

"We're going door-to-door there now, trying to find witnesses to the abduction. Maybe someone saw something."

"Our colleagues are already on their way to you," Hotch finally ended the call. "Let us know if the searches turn up anything."

---

"Chocolate cutie, what brings you to me?" inquired Garcia as Morgan walked into her office. "Do I need a reason to visit my baby girl lately," Morgan asked with a smile.

"Never. But call it experience: you never come to see me without a specific reason," Penelope immediately returned.

"Touché. Unfortunately, I don't come just to chat with you."

Morgan briefly summarized what she was supposed to be researching and then asked her to send him all the pertinent data on his tablet.

"You said 'not just to chat.' Does that mean there's news you want to tell me, too?" asked Garcia then.

"Umm, yeah. Spencer threw something at me yesterday that I can't get out of my mind," Morgan said, then recounted Spencer's awkward attempt to talk to the female students and his outburst afterward when Morgan called him on it.

"I just can't imagine intimidating him to the point where he's not capable of normal communication," Morgan concluded.

"Spencer is a very self-reflective person," Garcia agreed. "If he's telling you something like that, then there's probably something to it, even if you don't want to admit it. It's not like he accused you of intentionally setting him off. You're not to blame, you're just the cause in his eyes."

"But I've seen him take apart badass criminals in interrogation without even batting an eye. And he knew that behind the glass, the entire team was watching."

"Yeah, but that's when he was able to draw on his knowledge and skills. And let's face it, some of you profilers could learn a thing or two from him. Even if Spencer doesn't say so, he's smarter than all of us put together, and that gives him confidence in the appropriate situations."

"My girl, sometimes I want to have as much insight into others as you do," Morgan explained. "I spend all my time trying to reconcile Spencer's insecurity with his demeanor at Noche Cubana. But maybe it's just what you're describing: he knows what he can do there, and he feels like he doesn't have a lot of competition. That gives him security. And apparently enough so that he becomes interesting to the ladies."

"I still think it's too bad there are no security cameras in the club that I can get to," Garcia said. "I would have loved to have seen Spencer as a Latino knockoff myself. What do you think: I wonder if he goes there more often. Should I stop by there sometime."

Derek immediately shook his head vehemently. He knew immediately that Spencer would never forgive him if he learned that he had revealed his secret to Garcia. "Please don't. To be honest: I'm thinking about going back and confronting him myself. However, after what happened yesterday, I'm not so sure. Maybe I shouldn't mess with him on that one."

Garcia looked at Morgan searchingly. "This is really bothering you, isn't it?" Morgan just nodded. Again and again his thoughts returned to that evening and what he had seen. "Then let me put your mind at ease: I think even if Spencer ran into you there, you wouldn't rattle him. That's his territory. He's at home there and has the upper hand. The only thing is, I don't think he'd be happy."

Chapter Text

Morgan had dismissed the thought several times over the past few days and then brought it up again. Now, as he entered his home, his mind was made up.

"Savannah, I'm here. Where are you, sweetie?" he called, and immediately heard Clooney barking. Seconds later, the German shepherd came rushing toward him, while there was still no sign of Savannah. But since the door was unlocked, he assumed she was somewhere in the house.

"Well, my boy? Did you miss me? Want to play a little?" murmured Derek to the dog, scratching its fur. "Give me a few minutes and I'll chase you around the house."

Morgan took off his jacket and shoes, then tried again, "Savannah? Where are you, dear?"

Again, no answer. That could really only mean she was upstairs, in the bedroom or bathroom. Taking several steps at a time, Derek ran up the stairs and pushed open the bedroom door. "Savannah?"

She wasn't there, but from the adjoining bathroom he could hear the sound of rushing water. He knocked, then poked his head in the door. "Honey, I'm here," Derek said to the figure behind the shower curtain.

A loud cry immediately made it clear to him that Savannah hadn't heard his knock. "Derek, are you crazy? How could you scare me like that?" hissed Savannah angrily, her voice quivering at the same time. "I could have slipped and fallen. Do you actually know how many lacerations we see every day because someone fell in the shower?"

"Sorry, sorry," Derek explained, raising his arms placatingly and pushing his way in the door. "I really didn't mean to scare you. Calm down."

"That's easy for you to say. My heart is racing like I just finished a sprint."

Derek took it as a good sign that Savannah, who had been completely frozen until just now, was moving again behind the shower curtain. "Want me to scrub your back as reparation?" he asked seductively.

"Thanks, but no thanks," Savannah promptly replied. "I know exactly what you're up to. You just want to distract yourself from your workday with a quickie. And I'm not in the mood for that right now. Not to mention, I still want to go out tonight."

That cue came at the perfect time for Derek. "Do you already have plans, or can I make a suggestion?"

Savannah turned off the water and grabbed the towel hanging right next to the shower as she stepped out. "Now if you're going to suggest that we get comfortable on the couch together, you can save your breath," she declared.

Derek took the towel from her and wrapped her in it. "I wasn't really planning on it," he said, then pressed a kiss to her lips. "Hi honey. Let me greet you properly first." He kissed her again and this time Savannah returned the kiss.

"Why, Derek Morgan, do I not trust you when you come out the gentleman and seducer?" murmured Savannah as Morgan then placed a series of kisses down her neck to her shoulder.

"Always this suspicion," Derek countered. "I don't know what I did to deserve it at all."

Savannah smiled wryly as she finally extricated herself from Derek's arms and turned her back on him. "You can rub my back dry while you tell me about your idea for tonight. Then we'll quickly see if the distrust was really so undeserved."

Derek took the towel from her and turned to the task assigned to him. "I wanted to go out with you today, too. I don't have a weekend this time, but if we don't get home too late, I should be able to make it to work tomorrow reasonably fresh."

"Still with the kidnappings?"

"Hmm," Derek just grumbled, "That's why I had to work today, and tomorrow looks similar. As long as we don't find the perpetrators, we have to expect new kidnappings every day. In the meantime, there are already eight. But that's not really what I wanted to talk about right now." Derek lowered the towel and turned Savannah around to face him again.

"I wasn't entirely fair to you last weekend. The dance club wasn't so bad. I was just in a bad mood and felt blindsided by you. So I want to make it up to you now. Let's go there again today."

"I thought you didn't like the music? And you don't want to dance at all. What am I supposed to do there if you don't set foot on the dance floor?"

Derek hadn't really counted on this argument. He had assumed that Savannah would be on fire right away, partly because she probably really liked the club, and partly because she liked it too much at times when he came crawling back with apologies and reparations.

"Maybe the others will come along again?", Derek tried to find a way out.

"And then you'll stand at the bar as an observer forever again? No thanks, I don't need you as a companion for that."

Derek closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. "Okay," he then said, looking at Savannah again. "I'll try to learn a step or two at this course at the beginning so we can get out on the dance floor a few times. Agreed?"

Savannah tilted her head. "Who are you and what did you do with Derek "I only dance disco style" Morgan?"

"Nothing at all? I just want to have a nice evening with you," Derek tried to answer as innocently as possible. But he had clearly been with Savannah for too long. "Well, if you can believe it, you can believe it. You're up to something. What do you want from me in return?"

Derek put on an offended face. "Nothing at all, my darling. I have no ulterior motives whatsoever."

Savannah looked at him searchingly. "Mark my words," she said, "I don't care what it is, if I find out, I'll put a spoke in your manipulative wheel."

Derek pulled Savannah closer to him. "Does that mean you'll go dancing with me?"

"I guess it does," Savannah replied, then kissed him. "Now make sure you get in the shower. I want to see you spiffed up and pressed later!"

Derek grinned. He had accomplished his goal. Exactly a week ago he had seen Spencer at Noche Cubana and with any luck he would be there again today. And then he would definitely confront him.

Derek quickly explained to Savannah that he wanted to take Clooney for a quick spin around the block first so the dog could get the exercise he needed. After that, he would be ready to get dressed up for the evening right away. He knew all too well that Savannah liked it when he caught other women's eyes, and then she could make it perfectly clear that he was her turf, where no other was allowed to poach. And admittedly: Derek also enjoyed the envious looks that many a guy gave him because of Savannah.

Chapter Text

It had to be worth this ordeal, this torture just had to pay off, Derek repeated in his mind like a mantra. As he did so, he looked back and forth alternately between the Latino standing in the middle of the dance floor and his feet. Yes, he could feel the rhythm of the music, a cha cha as he had been told, but his feet just weren't keeping up. Not to mention that they didn't want to move in the direction they were supposed to move according to the instruction. Derek felt as if his shoelaces had been tied together. Every time he wanted to take a step somewhere, his second foot or one of Savannah's was in his way.

"Next time I'll need steel-toed shoes," Savannah hissed at him as he stepped on her toes for the umpteenth time.

"I warned you I was going to make an idiot of myself," Derek countered, trying hard to keep his tone neutral. After all, she had been the one who didn't want to believe he couldn't dance. Now she had to live with the consequences. But he still didn't want to upset her. He had to somehow hold out here for another hour or two - and preferably with company - if he was going to try to catch Spencer "in the act," so to speak.

"Who could have guessed that you, who always come across as so sexy at every disco, would be like a cow skating on the dance floor?" muttered Savannah as she quickly pulled her foot back to avoid another kick from Derek. "You're not usually this clumsy motor-wise."

"Didn't I say this was new territory for me? If I put my Glock in your hand, you can't hit anything with it right away either, even if you're pretty accurate in a pillow fight."

Savannah reluctantly accepted the argument and pushed Derek in the direction she wanted him to go. She'd only had a few dance lessons as a kid, too, so there wasn't that much difference between them there. But she was starting to get the feeling that Derek was being awkward on purpose so he wouldn't have to dance with her too often.

"The salsa at least, then you can sit out for the rest of the lesson," she conceded to Derek. "You'll just mess up the dances anyway."

Derek would have liked to kiss her for finally relenting. But he refrained from doing so. He would certainly have stepped on her toes again in the process, because kissing and dancing at the same time seemed like an impossibility to him.

Salsa was definitely even more difficult than cha cha, Derek realized when José, the Latin dancer, pushed the tempo. The steps were fast, the counting didn't work at all and to think of hip movement at the same time seemed completely out of the question.

Again Derek had to wonder how Reid had managed to learn that. Okay, he had only watched him do one dance and he had no idea what that had been. But he couldn't imagine that Reid's skill was limited to a single dance. When he thought of how many times he had stood by Reid while he trained for self-defense and hand-to-hand combat, and how clumsy he had been. He still managed to hurt himself rather than someone else when he tried to defend himself with kicks. Then how could someone like that suddenly move his feet so coordinatedly?

"Ouch! Derek, where do you have your eyes? Why don't you watch where you're going a little bit," Savannah complained, snapping Morgan out of his thoughts. He must have just stepped on his girlfriend's foot with full force.

"Doesn't salsa come a little slower? I just can't keep up here," Derek offered as an excuse.

"Salsa slow? You must be out of your mind. It's a dance meant to express joie de vivre. Have you ever seen slow, leisurely joie de vivre?" Savannah shook her head and Derek could see her scraping together the last bit of patience she had. "Let's stop here. Two dances are already too much for you, apparently. It's just a good thing they're sure to play lots of cha cha later. You'll get a chance to practice."

The ordeal will be worth it, this torture will pay off, Derek repeated in his mind. He wouldn't give up now short of the finish line.

---

A good hour and a half later, Derek began to have doubts. More than a dozen times now, Savannah had dragged him onto the dance floor to cha cha, and he didn't feel like he was making any progress. He honestly wondered about himself: He hadn't assumed it could be so difficult to properly implement the few steps he'd been shown. That scratched him quite a bit, especially when he considered what a good figure Reid had cut.

The fact that he hadn't spotted Reid anywhere yet also bothered him. The last time - also a Saturday - he had shown up at the club about an hour after the dance lesson. But so far there had been no sign of him. Did Spencer perhaps not come here regularly? Or on different days? Or had the prospect of possibly being seen again scared him off this time?

That Reid should come to Noche Cubana for the first time or only irregularly, however, did not seem likely to Morgan. The way the crowd had behaved, the way they had made room for him, somehow suggested that the spectacle his dancing represented had been seen here more often. The regular club-goers had known what to expect. It was all the more disappointing that this should now be denied him today.

Morgan looked in the direction of the dance floor, where Savannah was just being led across the floor by another man. Women definitely had it easier. They could be led and didn't have to think about where to go. Morgan reached for the beer sitting on the counter next to him. Today he had purposely decided against high-proof alcohol. At least that way he could be sure that what he was seeing wasn't coming from his alcohol-fogged brain - if there was anything to see at all.

He recalled how Reid had looked a week ago: he had been wearing tight-fitting black pants and a loose-fitting white shirt. If he remembered correctly, the shirt was not closed up to the last button, as was usually the case with Reid. His hair was tied at the nape of his neck, with a few shorter strands escaping the ribbon and falling around his face. With this image in mind, Derek again scanned the crowd. But the men, at least the Latinos, were all dressed similarly and some also had long hair tied up. Still: none of them was Spencer.

"Are you looking for someone? Your girlfriend's over there," a voice behind him explained. Derek turned to see the bartender pointing in Savannah's direction.

"Thanks, I know," Derek declared. And in the next moment, an idea struck him. "But I'm really looking for someone. A week ago I saw a dancer here who resembled a friend of mine. Tall, extremely slim, brown shoulder-length hair that he had tied up, black pants, white shirt. I think he came around the same time as now. Danced with a Latina, she had long black hair and wore a gold sequined dress. I was hoping to run into him again today."

"The way you describe him, half the men who come here look like that," the bartender commented.

"He's not Latino, he's white," Derek added to make his description even more accurate. "I think he's here more often."

"And does this guy have a name, too?"

Derek hesitated for a moment. Was he supposed to blurt out Reid's name here? And was Reid even appearing here - for all his secrecy - under his real name?

"Spencer. His name is Spencer Reid," Derek finally blurted out. "At least, if I haven't mistaken anyone else for him."

"You're looking for Spencer? Why didn't you say so?" the bartender suddenly grinned at Derek. "He's probably still upstairs. He will show up soon, though, I'm sure."

"Upstairs?" inquired Morgan, stunned that he had actually been given information.

"Yeah, but there's no guest access up there," the bartender promptly explained. "Should I call him and tell him you're waiting for him?"

Morgan immediately shook his head. Reid would just take the opportunity to leave immediately. "No need. I'd rather surprise him. If he's coming soon, I'll just be patient over a beer for a little while longer." Derek held out his empty bottle to the bartender promptly. One order, a nice tip, and maybe he could elicit some more information about Reid from the man.

"Then I was right about Spencer coming here more often?" echoed Morgan as the bartender set the beer down in front of him. The nodded. "He's here almost every Friday and Saturday. And if he doesn't stop in on a weekend, he'll come by during the week."

"I can understand that. The music here is cool," Derek interjected, trying not to make his questions seem too obvious. "I was here for the first time last weekend. My girlfriend Savannah knows a few dance steps, but I'm afraid it's going to be a long time before I can get some decent steps on the floor. What is Spencer's partner's name? I can't remember right now if he ever mentioned her."

"Spencer's partner? Which one do you mean?"

"Well, the girl who was here with him a week ago."

The bartender laughed. "I'm sure Spencer didn't come with any girl. Why would he? They're all lining up here for him to pay them the slightest bit of attention. Wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't even know all their names. He has two or three favorites. Fernanda, for example, I've seen somewhere today. But I don't know that he's ever brought a girl here."

Morgan quickly closed his mouth, for his jaw dropped at this information. Surely this had to be a case of mistaken identity. Girls were supposed to be lining up for Spencer "shy virgin" Reid? And he had several favorites at once? Were they trying to pull a fast one on him here?

"Hey, the wait is over. Spencer's here," the bartender informed him with a glance toward the dance floor.

"Where?" inquired Derek when he couldn't see Spencer anywhere.

The bartender just laughed. "See those pretty ladies back there by the door? That's the line in question. Let's see which one gets the honor first today."

Sure enough, Derek saw a cluster of women standing at one side of the club in front of a door, already at first glance one more attractive than the other. And now that he looked more closely, he could also make out a shock of brown hair in the middle of it that could very well belong to Reid. Curious, Morgan watched the goings-on. The women seemed to be crowding around the man and talking at him. It took a bit before the knot slowly loosened and Reid stepped out, his arm wrapped around the waist of a slender, this time short-haired Latina. The girl was wearing a slinky short red dress with a fluttery skirt and in turn had her arm around Spencer.

Yes, this was clearly Reid - albeit seemingly from a parallel world. This time he was dressed completely in black. The only splashes of color were the dark red belt, the red ribbon with which he had knotted his hair, and - yes, that really was Reid - the different colored socks: one red and the other dotted black and white.

Chapter Text

As if spellbound, Derek watched Spencer lead the young woman onto the dance floor as the song that was playing came to an end. Yes, the crowd made room for him this time, too. Derek was glad that the rhythm of the next song didn't sound like a Cha Cha. Otherwise, Savannah would certainly have immediately forced him to dance with her. But this way she continued to settle for her previous dance partner and Morgan had time to follow Reid's every move.

The dance that began was slow by comparison. With one fluid motion, Reid brought his dance partner out of his arm and into a spin so that only their fingertips touched. Reid almost didn't move, in fact he kind of just shifted his weight from one foot to the other, but in doing so he brought quite a bit of hip movement into play. Slowly, as he did so, he pulled his dance partner, who was dancing seductively back and forth, closer to him again until he brought her into dancing position with a sudden twist. But Reid didn't keep this up for long before another turn of his partner followed and Reid then led her around him.

Even more than the slow, sexy movements, though, Morgan was captivated by Reid's gaze. It was as if he didn't even need his hands to guide his partner. After the next turn, he pulled her to him and placed her left hand on his chest while looking at her with such a fiery gaze as if there was no other woman in the world for him. He lowered his arms, moving only in light swaying steps, while his dance partner slid her hand a little lower and then danced around him in rhythmic steps, brushing her hand along him just above his waistband until she had circled him completely. Reid held her gaze captive the entire time.

Derek was pretty sure: if a woman touched him like that, he knew where it would end. He noticed something stirring in his pants. How could this dance have such an effect on him? He wondered if Reid was getting turned on by it, too. Morgan let his eyes slide over Reid's tight pants, but he couldn't see anything.

Reid has something of a predator about him, Derek suddenly thought. Or of a snake: he hypnotized his victim with his sexy movements until she succumbed to him completely. And strangely enough, Derek had the feeling that he suddenly belonged to Reid's prey, too.

By now, more people were standing around Reid and his dance partner to watch the two than were actually still dancing. Because of the large open space that had been created, Morgan also had an excellent view of the action. And he had to swallow when he saw Reid suddenly pull his dance partner close to him and then lift her up so that she could wrap her legs around him.

Was that even allowed? That could no longer be called dancing. This was sex on the dance floor!

Reid more or less pressed his face between his partner's breasts before grabbing her by the shoulders and pulling her back so he could run his lips down her torso. And the next moment he pressed her against him again, she released her legs from him, danced around him and embraced his upper body from behind. As they both swayed back and forth in the seductive pendulum steps, she pressed her whole body against Reid. A beat or two, then Reid grabbed her hand and pulled her forward again, bringing her back into the dancing position. But a little later, he again turned her away from him, brought her back, and now pressed against her back in turn, so that no sheet of paper could fit between her butt and his hips. Another turn and Reid's dance partner was in his arms again, but this time literally. The couple no longer went into dancing posture, but Reid grabbed his partner's hips and she put her arms around his neck as the two literally stared into each other's eyes. With slow, easy, yet sensual steps, they moved back and forth until the song faded.

Morgan expelled his breath as the couple broke away from each other and Reid took the girl by the hand and led her off the dance floor. He hadn't even noticed how he had been holding his breath tensely and now he had to take several deep breaths to get enough oxygen back into his lungs.

Morgan reached for his beer without taking his eyes off Reid. He took a sip, then slid off his stool and made his way around the dance floor. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Savannah still dancing. That was a good fit. Then now was the time to confront Reid.

The boy seemed to be holding court. At least that's what occurred to Morgan when he saw Reid surrounded by a crowd of young women. Only one or two men had mingled with the group, with whom Reid seemed to be having a brilliant conversation. A little bit of the Spencer Morgan knew came through when he let a coin disappear between his hands and then promptly reappear in triplicate: behind one girl's ear, in another's originally empty hand, and - Morgan couldn't believe his eyes - in the neckline of her dress of a third girl, where Spencer let two of his fingers slide in and didn't even get a slap on them for it.

The loud music didn't make it possible for Morgan to understand much of the conversation within the group until he was standing immediately behind two girls - and Reid suddenly fell silent when he saw him.

Spencer's admirers immediately realized something was wrong when Reid stared at Morgan in horror. "You said you didn't want to come here again," Reid pressed out after a few seconds.

"You said you didn't know the club at all," Morgan countered immediately.

Reid closed his eyes for a moment.

"¿Pueden darme unos minutos a solas con él? Tengo que aclarar algo aquí[1]" , Reid said to the group. The women and men eyed Morgan briefly and then retreated. Morgan could only assume that Reid had told them he wanted to have a one-on-one conversation.

"What do you want?" asked Reid curtly, sounding genuinely hostile.

"Why did you lie to me?" asked Morgan right back.

"Are you now planning to answer every question I ask with a question in return? Quit playing games." Reid was definitely not up for small talk.

"After you said you hadn't been here, I doubted myself. I wanted certainty," Morgan said, studiously concealing the fact that he had already gotten the certainty from Garcia's spying.

"Certainty you could have had if you had disappeared again now that you've seen me. If I lie to you, you must realize that there is a reason for it."

"And I would like to know it."

"It's none of your business!"

Morgan was silent for a moment. He had seldom seen the boy so angry - and he could not describe Reid in any other way. Nor had he expected this violent reaction. Rather that Reid would retreat back into his shell.

Morgan took a deep breath and exhaled. "Okay, maybe I made a mistake. Can we ... can we just start over here? In peace? Maybe over a drink? And after that ... after that, I'll collect Savannah and get out of here."

Reid looked at Morgan searchingly. Morgan had no idea what the boy was looking for in his gaze - and whether he found it - but finally his expression relaxed a bit.

"Okay. Order me a water from Jonas. I'll join you in a minute," Reid relented.

Morgan avoided asking if Spencer meant the bartender. That was the logical conclusion and he didn't want to upset him again with useless inquiries. He just nodded and then went back to the bar. On the way there, he watched as a couple of women immediately gathered around Reid again.

"Jonas, right?", Derek asked the bartender as he resumed his place at the bar. His counterpart nodded. "Can you get me a glass of water for Spencer?"

"As usual?" inquired Jonas.

Morgan frowned. "I don't know, he didn't say. But I'm assuming yes."

Jonas promptly grabbed a cocktail glass instead of the small water glasses and placed a few dark berries, lemon and lime slices in it before adding ice and topping it all off with sparkling water.

"Thanks, Jonas," Reid declared as he stepped up next to Morgan the moment the bartender set the glass down on the counter.

"Interesting mix," the latter commented.

"More exciting than plain water, and definitely better than any cocktail if you start sweating while dancing here."

Morgan eyed Spencer. At the moment, the boy didn't look like anything could make him sweat - aside from the hot girls here. Morgan's gaze flitted briefly to Spencer's pants. They really were so tight that it was ensured that no movement whatsoever could be seen. Surely this couldn't be pleasant!

"Finished with the muster?", Spencer snapped Derek out of his thoughts.

"Sorry, but ... you look so completely unfamiliar."

"You look different, too, depending on whether you're wearing a suit or jeans and a leather jacket. It's not that unusual," Spencer said, taking another sip of his water.

"I really pondered for ages whether you had a twin when I saw you here last time," Morgan confessed, eliciting a small smile from Spencer. "I can assure you that there is only one of me."

"Why are you making such a secret out of all of this?"

"Morgan, I told you it's none of your business. Can't you accept that?" retorted Reid.

"It's admittedly hard for me," Morgan explained. "It's not like there's anything reprehensible about going dancing. And nothing that would make you look ridiculous in any way, either. On the contrary, I have to honestly admit that I'm impressed with what you've shown on the floor. And the girls ... well you seem to have them thoroughly wrapped around your little finger, too."

"You don't have to tell me that this isn't forbidden or ridiculous. I know that myself. But why do you think Garcia hasn't told us she's been doing theater for ages? She wanted something for herself. Something where none of us would judge her. Something where she could give free rein to another side of herself without stoking any expectations," Spencer said. "And that's exactly it, if you must know, which is why I wanted this to be my secret."

"Spencer, me prometiste la próxima salsa. ¿Podrías separarte de tu amigo para bailar conmigo?"[2] , one of the women who had previously surrounded Reid addressed him from the side.

Spencer smiled at the girl, "Por supuesto, mantendré mi promesa, Chelita. Sólo quiero decir adiós."[3]

Spencer reached for her hand, then turned to Derek. "You're going to have to excuse me now. I have a prior engagement here." He took a step toward the dance floor, but then turned again and looked at Morgan seriously, "If any of our colleagues find out I'm coming here, you'll wish you'd never set one little toe in this club."

With that, he turned away and headed to the dance floor with the girl, where a new song began at that moment.

-----

 

Translations:

[1] Can I have a few minutes alone with him? I need to sort something out here.

[2] Spencer, you promised me the next salsa. Can you maybe tear yourself away from your friend for a dance with me?

[3] Of course, I keep my promise, Chelita. I just want to say goodbye for a moment.

Chapter Text

Morgan had kept his word. No sooner had Spencer disappeared into the crowd than he'd pulled Savannah off the dance floor, feigning a headache. He wanted to head home immediately. Surprisingly, his girlfriend had barely protested. Presumably that had been because he had, in fact, proved to be a rather incompetent dancer. That had probably spoiled her fun a bit.

Now Morgan felt almost as he had a week ago. He lay awake in bed next to Savannah, staring at the ceiling. They had skipped sex completely right away. After all, he would have a headache and he should not exert himself, but rest, Savannah had explained to him. Derek wasn't sure if she was serious or just wanted to teach him a lesson. But he hadn't really been in the mood either.

Reid had always been interesting, but lately he was really puzzling him. It really almost seemed like there were two personalities in Spencer, and so far he had only known one of them.

Derek didn't quite know how to deal with this development. One thing was clear, though: he had to talk to Penelope first thing tomorrow and make sure she kept her blabbermouth shut no matter what. Reid could never know that he had told Garcia anything about him. What he didn't believe was that he could forget what he had seen and experienced. He would have to be extremely careful not to reveal anything to his colleagues.

And he had no idea how to behave toward Reid in the future. Spencer had recently lectured him that he, among others, was to blame for his insecurity and lack of self-confidence. But what he had seen today had nothing at all to do with insecurity. On the contrary, it felt like Reid owned this club and everyone who set foot in it. He was the one everyone looked up to, he was the one everyone was happy to see. What was it about Reid that made him so confident there? And the way he treated the women! They all adored him and - at least that's how it seemed to Morgan - he treated each of them as if she were his queen - and his lover.

Amazing, how sexy the boy could be all of a sudden. And it didn't occur to Morgan until now that he usually only used that word around women, and now it came to mind every time he thought of Reid on the dance floor.

It was crazy that this was the second time the kid had literally robbed him of sleep.

Derek turned to the side and stared at Savannah's back for a change. With her, he would have to figure something out. He had disappointed her quite a bit today, he had to admit. He would have to make up for that, otherwise she might sulk with him all the next few days. And Savannah in pout mode was anything but pleasant. Flowers, chocolates or a nice meal - Derek knew right away that he could cross that off the list. That wouldn't win him a pot of gold with Savannah. It had to be something she knew he would go out of his way for, something he would do just for her. And Morgan realized that he would automatically suffer for it.

Slowly, Morgan crawled a little toward Savannah. Even if she didn't want sex now, she loved to cuddle. And he - quite frankly - did, too. Maybe she wouldn't be quite so offended if she woke up in his arms tomorrow. It was worth a try, at least. Derek gently pulled Savannah toward him until her back was against his chest. He wrapped one arm around her waist and buried his face in her hair. Her hair smelled wonderful. He had loved sliding his fingers through it and sticking his nose in it from day one. This was pure Savannah. And her smell also had an immensely calming effect on him. Maybe he could finally find sleep this way.

---

Sunday morning brought some surprises in the office. Since they were still searching for the kidnapped women, there was of course no weekend for the team. They would not take time off until this case was solved to the point where the Arlington Police Department had everything firmly back in hand. To that extent, the entire team gathered at nine o'clock for a briefing.

"There's a new kidnapping, but now finally a real lead,too," Hotch opened the meeting.

"This young woman here, Melanie Chandler, married and mother of a one-year-old child, disappeared late yesterday afternoon," Garcia took over, showing a picture of a blonde twenty-something on the large monitor. "We can be certain this time that it was a kidnapping. Mrs. Chandler was on her way to the park with her child to playdate with two other mothers and never arrived. However, the stroller with her baby was found not far from the park by passersby. No harm came to the child."

Involuntarily, a collective sigh of relief could be heard in the room. The moment Garcia had mentioned the baby, everyone had immediately feared the worst.

"Arlington police are already looking for witnesses. It was still daylight, so it's not unlikely that someone was out there and saw something."

"That makes seven kidnapping victims now," Rossi interjected. "What's going to happen to the women?"

"I think," Emily said, "it's a good sign that they didn't hurt the child or take it. That could be an indication that they're not killing the women."

"And is the lead now related to this kidnapping?" wanted Reid to know.

Hotch replied in the negative. "Arlington police are starting to interview family, friends and acquaintances this morning. Reid, Morgan, I'd like to have you guys there on the scene. Especially talk to the husband and mother of the woman who was abducted. They live in the same household. You might be able to find out more there than our colleagues. As for the lead, it involves the missing persons' cars that disappeared with them. Arlington police actually found three of them in a junkyard."

Hotch then reported, that it had been a worker at the junkyard who had noticed one of the cars. He had been on a job stripping some cars. In the process, he had stumbled across a car that seemed much too new to be scrapped, so he had asked his boss to be on the safe side. After he could not remember having accepted the car, the owner of the junkyard had informed the police. There, of course, all alarm bells had gone off immediately. A closer examination of the junkyard had revealed that two other cars, each belonging to one of the abductees, had been hidden there.

"Right now, forensics is taking care of the cars. They may find fingerprints or other clues that point to the perpetrators," Hotch explained.

"If the cars are just disposed of like that, surely that means the women have a significantly higher value to the unsubs. After all, they could also turn the cars into cash," Emily reflected.

"I think it would be premature to conclude that it's about human trafficking," Rossi spoke up. "For me, the cult issue wouldn't be off the table yet. Traffickers usually choose women who are more beautiful than average and also young. Not all of our victims fit this image. For a cult, however, these characteristics would possibly have less significance."

"I'm still on the Philadelphia missing persons cases," Garcia interjected. "Unfortunately, since these were never declared abductions, the files are not as extensive as we would like. How should we proceed on that?"

"J.J., could you get on the phone there and ask for support in Philadelphia?" asked Hotch. "Explain to them that we suspect a connection with our current case. We need two or three people to take another look at the old cases, on the premise that they might be kidnappings. The families need to be interviewed again."

"I'm trying my best. What do you want me to do if we don't get the help we need?"

"Then we'll go to Philadelphia ourselves and talk to the families."

Chapter Text

"Hey, kid, can I ask you a question without you biting my head off?" inquired Morgan as he and Reid made their way to Arlington once again.

"Sure, I've never ripped your head off before. What do you want to know?" retorted Spencer, seeming a bit absent-minded.

"It’ about ... well ...," Morgan hesitated, knowing he was treading on thin ice. But he had an idea, and if it worked, he could kill two birds with one stone.

Reid, of course, didn't miss the hesitation. "It's usually me who can't spill the beans," he commented, and suspiciously followed up, "What's wrong?"

"Maybe you're contagious," Morgan grinned slightly, but then turned serious again. "It's ... about the dancing. You're really good, as far as I can tell. Where did you learn to do that?"

"Didn't we say that everything about the Noche Cubana was my business, and that we won’t talk about that?" countered Reid coolly.

"Actually, all I did yesterday was promise to leave, which I did. And I'm a man of my word that I'll never bring it up in the office," Derek returned. At least as soon as he could clear it with Garcia that she had to forget everything he had told her, he added in his mind.

"Can't you accept that I want some privacy where my job and my colleagues have no place?"

"And a friend? Doesn't he have a place there, too?" tried Morgan.

He knew that wasn't entirely fair; after all, he was all too aware of how much Reid valued their friendship. But it also pained him all the more that Reid was keeping such secrets from him.

"I learned that back in Las Vegas, at least the early beginnings," Reid suddenly relented. He turned his head toward the window, but kept talking. "I like the rhythms, they can fill my head so much that I can't think about anything but dancing. And it's relaxing. The subtleties of the dances ... well, I didn't learn those until the Noche Cubana. The people there didn't just learn the dances, they got them in the cradle, so to speak. There, dancing is more feeling than technique."

Reid fell silent, and Morgan could see out of the corner of his eye that the boy was completely lost in thought.

"It's probably silly of me, and I'll accept it if you say no, but let me finish first," Morgan set about putting his plan into action. "I want to ask you if you can teach me a little bit of what you know."

Reid immediately jerked his head around to Morgan and he could already see the protest on his friend's lips.

"Please, let me finish," he said before Reid could get a sound out. He waited a second and then continued. "Savannah took me to the club for the first time just over a week ago. I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed there. I simply have zero idea about dancing and I didn't want to make a fool of myself trying. Savannah was pretty pissed. And yesterday ... well I had promised her I would try. And honestly, I never thought dancing would be so difficult. You probably would have been thoroughly amused at the picture of misery I gave. I was so awful that even Savannah finally gave up and said more than the basic step of a dance was probably too much for me."

Morgan hung his head a tiny bit. He knew Reid was watching him closely, and hoped to use the contrite gesture to get at him.

"Savannah's friends go clubbing with their partners more often. And they can dance, or rather, they probably learn to dance faster than I do. In any case, Savannah is pretty frustrated. And to be honest, so frustrated that we didn't even have sex yesterday."

Morgan hoped that was dramatic enough. Surely that had to make the boy relent.

"And now I was hoping that maybe you could help me a little. Secretly, without anyone knowing. Just enough to surprise Savannah with a few steps."

Morgan let his words sink in for a bit before following up, "And now you can say no if you want."

It took a bit for Reid to even respond. "You're an asshole, you know that?" sighed Reid. "You know exactly how to make me feel bad for denying you a wish. Friends should never do that."

When Reid didn't say anything else, Morgan glanced over at him briefly before asking, "So does that mean you're going to help me? Or not?"

"I promise you, I'm going to make your life hell. But yeah, I'll teach you a little bit," Reid relented. "And now I don't want to hear about it anymore. I'll have to figure out the best teaching methods to torture you with."

A slight smile showed on Morgan's face. This definitely sounded like a win. And this way, he would be able to reconcile Savannah while gaining more insight into Reid's secret second self.

---

"Mr. Chandler?" asked Morgan as a man opened the door for him where he had just rung the bell.

"Yes?"

"Hello Mr. Chandler, we're with the FBI. I'm SSA Derek Morgan and this is my colleague Dr. Spencer Reid. I believe our coming has been announced to you."

The man nodded. "Yes, come in," he said, holding the door open for Morgan and Reid. "My mother-in-law is upstairs with the little one right now. Do you want to see her, too?"

"Let's talk in private first," Morgan said. "We can talk to your mother-in-law afterward, and then your son won't have to be left unattended."

"This way, please," Mr. Chandler directed Morgan and Reid into the living room and offered them seats. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"If you had some water for us, that would be pleasant," Reid explained. They rarely turned down the offer, getting a chance to look around a bit at the people they were interviewing.

"There are countless photos of them and their families hanging here," Morgan immediately remarked. "It looks very harmonious."

"And Mr. Chandler is really extremely worried and depressed," Reid commented. "If you compare him to the photos here, you'd think they were two different people."

Indeed, any joie de vivre the man exuded in all the pictures seemed to have completely drained out of him.

"Any sign of Melanie yet?" inquired Mr. Chandler as he returned to the living room with two glasses of water.

"Not yet, I'm afraid," Morgan admitted. "But we believe your wife's disappearance is connected to other abductions. And in those cases, the Arlington Police Department has made progress. There are leads that we are following."

"Do you ... do you believe that ... that she is still ... alive?" It was clear how difficult Mr. Chandler found this question.

"We assume so," Spencer tried to reassure the man. "It's a good sign that the kidnappers only took your wife. It would have been much more inconspicuous to have your son disappear as well. But that tells us that they may have inhibitions about killing people."

"But what do they want with Melanie? We don't have any money, we can't pay a big ransom."

"We don't assume that the perpetrators are trying to blackmail you," Morgan said, briefly explaining the connection to the other cases. "What's important to us now is to learn as much as we can about your wife's usual routine. Where does your wife go, what hobbies and commitments does she have? We need to find out where the perpetrators came across her."

Morgan was interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. A glance at it showed him that Garcia was calling him. "Go ahead and start outlining the day's schedule with my colleague. I need to make a quick call," Morgan excused himself. Then he took the call and left the room for the hallway.

"Hello, my girl. What news do you have for me?"

"I do indeed have news, my chocolate cupcake. Can you talk?" inquired Garcia. Morgan thought for a moment that the kidnap victim's mother was still somewhere in the house. So he stepped outside the door for a moment.

"Shoot. What's up?"

"You may have put us on the right track with the Philadelphia cases," Garcia immediately blabbed. "The missing women are also all from the same part of town, and victimology is as inconclusive as it is in our current case. We can't find any similarity or relationship between the women yet. But - and now hold on: we have found a kidnapping victim, a case that was really treated as a kidnapping, and where the woman was simply released after a few days."

"And you're sure that this single case is related to the series?" immediately echoed Morgan. If it really was, then these discoveries could take them light years further.

"Rossi and Emily will check it out. They're already on their way to Philadelphia to talk to the woman. But according to the police log, this could really fit," Garcia said.

"And ... I hate to ask, but ... did they do anything to her?"

Garcia immediately answered in the negative. "She was, of course, completely messed up, but physically she didn't suffer any harm. She was held for five days, but provided with food. After that, her captors simply dropped her off at the city limits. The unsubs wore masks throughout and when they let her go, they had blindfolded her. But we know that a victim, even without seeing, can witness a lot."

"My Goldilocks," Derek purred into the phone, "this is really excellent news. Reid and I will be back no later than tonight. In the meantime, keep me posted if there's any news."

"Speaking of Reid," Garcia immediately took the cue. "What are you going to do about the little dancing god? Are you going to keep checking up on him?"

Morgan looked around again cautiously to make sure he was still alone. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about, baby girl. Reid is extremely sensitive about the whole subject. He can never, and I mean never, he can never know that we've been spying on him or that you know anything about this. Please, promise me you'll keep this to yourself."

"Don't you think he's acting plenty weird?" asked Garcia. "There's nothing wrong with the fact that he likes to dance. Maybe not the most manly sport, but it's not ballet, after all."

At Garcia's words, an image of Reid in a tutu abruptly popped into Derek's head, but before he could think about how ridiculous that was, it was replaced by a scene from the Noche Cubana. No one could argue dancing wasn't manly once they saw how masculine the otherwise often quite feminine Spencer had looked on that dance floor.

"Let's just leave it at that, okay? Spencer wants to keep this secret. I guess we'll just have to accept that." But in doing so, he felt rather bigoted. After all, he wasn't keeping his own words at all.

Chapter Text

Over the next two days, the team, working with Arlington and Philadelphia police, achieved incredible success. The junkyard in Arlington did not have surveillance cameras, but there were some on the surrounding streets. It had been laborious for the cops to sift through well over a week's worth of recordings from so many cameras, but the search had finally been crowned with success. They had found footage of all three cars as they were being taken to the junkyard. The driver, after parking the cars, always reappeared on the same street corner. While he wasn't visible enough in any of the shots there to make out his face, it was all enough for an initial description of the unsub. Reid had calculated that the man was about six feet tall and might weigh around 95 kilos. He was clearly a white man, was blond, and had neck-length straight hair. His clothing was inconspicuous in contrast to his hairstyle. Another lead: the perpetrator was picked up by a dark red van. While the vehicle had no lettering of any kind and the brand could not be discerned, the color was rather conspicuous among the multitude of vans that usually drove through Arlington's streets. Usually one had to do it with white, silver or black vehicles.

And progress had also been made in Philadelphia. Sure, the police there had been a little reluctant at first to reopen missing persons cases that were more than a year old and declare them a kidnapping series, but J.J. had proven to be very convincing in this regard. In any case, it was better for the image of the local police, they took the initiative themselves, than to have the FBI roll over them and completely take over the reins in what was obviously a cross-state case.

The conversation with Peggy Wright, the woman released by the perpetrators, had been conducted by Rossi herself, and the outcome had been quite interesting. The perpetrators had been anxious that she should not be unwell. She had been locked in a small room with barred windows, had not seen much more than trees outside, but she had been provided with food and water regularly, allowed to go to the bathroom, and had been able to wash. There had even been a somewhat decent bed. During the kidnapping, she had been surprised by the perpetrators and drugged with chloroform. Afterwards they had held her at gunpoint, but had not touched her in any way.

Her abductors had always worn masks, but Peggy Wright was relatively certain that they had been at least four men, which now also confirmed what the BAU team had already suspected: that they were dealing with a group of perpetrators. Apart from the unsubs, Peggy had not seen anyone - but she had heard them. Outside her room, she had always been blindfolded, which is why she couldn't tell exactly whether the perpetrators had an entire house at their disposal or just an apartment. She was sure, however, that she had heard voices of women from the two adjoining rooms. However, whether they belonged to the perpetrators or had also been abducted, she could not determine.

The exact motive of the perpetrators was still unclear, but it might be possible to find out why Peggy Wright had been released by her kidnappers. Of course, they had not commented on this to her, but Peggy had noticed that there had apparently been an argument among the men beforehand. Afterwards she had been taken into a car, a van as she suspected, and at some point had been tied up and blindfolded and left on a road, completely without comment. She had quickly gotten rid of the blindfold after that, but it had taken a while for a car to come by that she could get attention from.

The BAU team now had new tasks ahead of them. Garcia had been sitting on finding more abduction clusters all along. What had happened in two cities could possibly have happened the same way in others without the police noticing. J.J. and Morgan assisted Penelope in this effort. They made phone calls to police in all the cities where there had been at least three missing persons cases at approximately the same time. Where had the women disappeared? Had one or the other reappeared? Had there been suspicions of kidnapping? Last but not least, they sent out the description of the single perpetrator and the van they had from Arlington.

Rossi and Emily had remained in Philadelphia. Due to the completely new initial situation, all the families and friends of the missing persons had to be re-interviewed there. The team did not want to leave that to the local police.

While Hotch continued to coordinate the various aspects of the operation from Quantico and made another trip to Arlington himself in between, Reid had bunkered down in a briefing room. He was working on a geographic profile that was steadily growing in size. By now, the team already suspected that there had been similar kidnapping sprees in at least two other cities on the East Coast.

"Hey Reid, you got a minute for me?" inquired Morgan as he follows Reid, who had come out of the briefing room and was walking toward the kitchen.

"Of course, if I can get another cup of coffee while I'm at it," was the immediate reply.

"I'll get one too, and then I'll come with you to your maps. I'd like to see what you've figured out already," Morgan returned.

Reid gave him a suspicious sideways glance, and Morgan could guess that his request struck the boy as odd. After all, he didn't usually make it a habit to check in with Reid about his work progress. If Spencer discovered something, he couldn't keep it to himself for long anyway.

Without further explanation, he finally followed Reid into the meeting room with his coffee and closed the door behind them.

"Should I be worried?" inquired Spencer uncertainly as he gave the closed door a questioning look.

"Be worried? No. What makes you think that?"

"When you want to talk to someone alone, it rarely means anything good," Reid returned. "Did I screw up and Hotch assigned you to tell me?"

Morgan shook his head and laughed. "Hotch would never put me first if he wanted to lecture you. Besides, you don't have to be so insecure." He couldn't help thinking again about what Reid had told him. Sometimes the boy just felt like he wasn't living up to the standards.

"This has nothing to do with our work," Morgan said. The brief expression of relief on Reid's made way for new suspicion seconds later.

"So what do you want? We don't really have time for coffee talk right now."

"Well, I was going to ask you ...," Morgan faltered and ran a hand over his bald head - using the sign of uncertainty quite deliberately. "I was going to ask when we could start dance lessons."

"So you're really serious about this?" asked Reid, and Morgan could tell the boy had hoped he'd changed his mind by now.

"Yeah, if you help me. I think taking dance lessons somewhere official would be too embarrassing. You didn't see me the other day. I really made a fool of myself." Morgan knew it wasn't entirely fair to Reid to pit his own problem with his insecurities against him here. But probably this manipulation was the only way Derek could learn more about this other Spencer.

"Okay, so how did you envision this? We can hardly go to your place, because Savannah shouldn't miss what you're up to. And there's not enough room at my place," Reid relented. If he thought he could escape the whole thing by asking about the location, he had not reckoned with Morgan. He already had the solution ready.

"I do teach self-defense classes for the candidates here at Quantico. We can use one of the training rooms. There's always something free and I have the keys." Morgan pulled his keychain out of his pocket and waved it demonstratively in Reid's face. He could tell by the look on Reid's face that he was not pleased with the quick solution.

"All right, we can try it. I'm free tonight. We can meet at the training hall at 8 p.m., and you'll have time to change before then."

Morgan bristled for a moment. He always had workout clothes handy in his locker at the gym. But if Reid might need some time to change out of his sweater and shirt into something more appropriate, he wouldn't object now. He could quickly put Savannah off until later with the half-truth that a training session had interfered.

"Okay. I'll text you as soon as I know which training room we can use," Morgan agreed. "Thank you."

---

At 8 p.m. sharp, Morgan stood in his workout outfit in Room 3A in the Quantico gym. He had even done two easy laps on the running track that ran around the building beforehand to warm up. So he should be well prepared. However, when Reid hadn't shown up five minutes later, Morgan began to get nervous. Was the kid planning to stand him up? Or did he simply not know where the training hall was anymore? After all, there had been no reason for the boy to come here for a long time.

Morgan dug his cell phone out of his gym bag, in which he had also packed two bottles of water, just to be on the safe side. You never knew how sweaty a dancing workout could get. No message from Reid. Text or call, Morgan pondered, as the door to the room opened and Reid poked his head in.

"Hey, kid, I was wondering if you were going to stand me up," Morgan greeted him.

"I wasn't planning on it. Sorry about the delay. I had to make a phone call to the home where my mom is staying."

"Everything okay?" inquired Morgan immediately. He knew that his mother was definitely the most important person to Spencer, behind her everything else had to take a back seat.

"Yeah, it was just about some necessary renovations because of that my mom has to move into another room temporarily. Of course, that upsets her quite a bit. But she's fine," Reid explained, looking around the room at the same time. But his gaze finally lingered on Morgan. "What are you wearing?" he asked.

"Workout clothes," Derek returned, puzzled by the question - noticing at that moment that Spencer had gotten rid of the sweater somewhere, but otherwise still looked the same as he had a few hours earlier in the office. "Aren't you going to change?"

"Morgan, we're not here to run, bench press, or wrestle. Why would I need gym clothes. And ... oh my God! Are those sneakers?"

Confused, Morgan looked down at his feet. What was so wrong with his clothes and his shoes? "I thought you told me to change."

Reid groaned loudly. "We really have to start at the beginning. Changing clothes yes, but then please choose something that is suitable for dancing: a light top, not too voluminous, so one can follow your arm movements exactly. Pants with narrow legs and not too long, so that you don't get caught in the hem of your own pants when you take tighter steps, especially at the beginning. And most importantly, shoes that allow you to move easily across the floor."

Morgan glanced at Reid's feet. Sure enough, the boy had traded in his typical Converse for dark dress shoes.

"Doesn't that work today?" he inquired.

"We'll see," was Spencer's curt reply. He stepped further into the room and ran his foot across the floor testingly. His expression clearly showed Morgan that he was not satisfied with what he found. Reid took a swing with his arms and spun around once. "See," Morgan said immediately. "You can do that!"

Reid gave him a dark look: "That should have been a double turn. The ground totally brakes. Totally unsuitable for dancing."

"Please, give the room a chance. I'll find us another location for next time," Morgan assured him. However, he was a little perplexed at the moment as to where that location would come from. Of course, the floor wasn't particularly slippery. That was a matter of course in a training room. After all, in hand-to-hand combat, one should not lose the ground under one's feet when attacking one's opponent.

Reid took a deep breath in and out. "Now, show me what you can do already. You said you'd already learned a basic step."

"You wouldn't happen to have any music with you? It was a cha cha I had learned."

Reid nodded, pulled his smartphone out of his pocket and searched for the right song for a moment. Then he turned up the volume full blast.

Morgan frowned. Was the tempo correct? He couldn't even remember the rhythm being that fast. But he struggled to get into the song. After counting a few bars like the dance instructor in the club had explained, he tried the first steps. Yes, he could still quite remember. To the side, forward, back, two hops to the other side, back and forward again. Only the tempo wasn't really right. He was too slow. Morgan tried to move his feet faster. But now the disaster was clearly preprogrammed. Somehow he got his feet mixed up on the hops - and landed abruptly on the seat of his pants.

"Damn, that's not the way it's supposed to go," he grumbled. "There you see: it just doesn't work."

Morgan scrambled up from the floor and was about to start the steps again, but Reid turned off the music.

"Honestly, this is absolutely horrible!" he declared. "But how are you going to be able to dance with shoes like that. Go on, get them off!"

"Without shoes?"

"Yes, with them you're just stuck to the floor. You just noticed yourself how you got stuck."

"But I'm just as stuck barefoot," Morgan immediately protested.

"Which is why you're going to try it in socks."

Morgan's eyes snapped open. Reid couldn't be serious. As a kid, it might have been fun to slide around a room like this on socks. But he would definitely lose his footing again if he tried that now with the cha-cha steps.

But Reid's look didn't allow for much protest. So Derek took off the sneakers with the admittedly rather thick rubber sole and ran his socked feet across the floor for a test. Oh yeah, that was pretty slippery.

"Now let's do it again from the start," Reid declared, turning the music back on.

Disaster was bound to happen and caught up with Morgan after just a few beats: once again he landed on the seat of his pants. "If this should be going to work, please show me - but in socks!" complained Morgan as he picked himself back up.

"Just to show you it's not impossible," Reid explained, and Morgan had a feeling he was suppressing a grin as he slipped out of his shoes, stood in front of Morgan and did a few of the basic steps - followed by a double turn. "I told you this was horrible - not just your steps, but this whole room. Let's go. This is getting us nowhere."

A short time later, Reid sat next to Morgan in the latter's car. "I don't suppose you have any suitable training space available," Reid lifted, and Morgan could already guess where the conversation would lead: The first training session would also have been the last. He was all the more surprised when Reid continued, "We'll meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Noche Cubana. Without workout clothes. Wear something normal. And please wear shoes without rubber brakes."

"Can we just practice there?" inquired Derek.

Reid nodded. "But be on time. I have plans after this."

Chapter Text

The big breakthrough in their case came neither from the resurfaced kidnap victim nor from the manhunt for the van and the kidnapper seen on the video footage. Rather, Garcia was allowed to take credit for the success.

"Derek, dream of my sleepless nights, you've got to see this!" burst out Garcia as she roared into Morgan's office without knocking. "I found something!"

"Baby Girl, why are you so excited?" inquired Morgan in as calm a voice as possible to calm down Penelope.

"I set up a search algorithm, with descriptions and photos, and I planted that on the Dark Net, starting from a few relevant, well-linked sites. As well as it can be done there, because a lot of things come and quickly disappear again. It's not supposed to be trackable at all."

Garcia was nervously trotting up and down in front of Derek's desk, and Morgan was getting dizzy just watching her - let alone understanding what she was trying to tell him. So he stood up, held Garcia by the shoulders, and pushed her into the chair in front of his desk. As he squatted down in front of her, he took the laptop she had with her and grabbed her hands.

"My girl, first take a deep breath. Okay? In and out. And then, very slowly, tell me what you found. First of all, without the how. Just what you found."

Morgan's calm voice seemed to have an effect. Garcia squeezed his hands as she lowered her head and tried to calm her breathing. When she finally looked Morgan in the eye again, she explained tersely, "I found the women."

Derek's eyebrows moved up, but Garcia didn't say another word.

"Now you're going to have to elaborate a little," he asked, therefore.

Garcia took another deep breath, then flipped open the laptop and turned it so Morgan could see it. "This is Sally Foster. And that's Melanie Chandler," Penelope pointed to two photos. "And this woman's name is Judith Walker. She was reported missing from Richmond two years ago, as were five other women who disappeared from there in the same time period and never reappeared."

"So we're really dealing with a human trafficking ring then," Derek muttered as he pulled Garcia out of the chair. "Come on, this needs to be seen by Hotch right away. The whole team needs to see this."

Minutes later, Garcia presented her findings to the team. Although she hadn't expected much success from it, she had programmed an algorithm that would be used to search the Dark Net for photos and descriptions of the missing women. Surprisingly, it was not the photos that had brought the desired success, but the descriptions. Some of the photographs online were so bad that you could only recognize the women on them if you knew exactly what you were looking for.

"Even though this site seems like it, I don't think we're dealing with a common human trafficking ring," Garcia explained about the view with the photos of 20 women. "How horrible that there can even be such a thing as a 'common trafficking ring.'"

"Garcia, please, we need the information," Hotch interrupted Penelope before she could ramble on about how bad the world is.

"Yeah, sorry boss. So: most trafficking organizations kidnap people they think are marketable and then offer them over the Internet, for example. We've already seen that happen via auctions, for example. This group here operates differently: they take orders and then procure the women according to the customer's request."

Garcia went on to explain that the twenty pictures of the women were simply examples of successful transactions. For each woman, it was indicated what characteristics the customer had ordered, and check marks were used to indicate the extent to which the women matched that profile.

"Does that mean, then, that all the women here are already sold?" inquired J.J., aghast. Garcia nodded. "I'm afraid so. Unfortunately, there's no indication on the site how the transactions take place. There is only a contact form here. Through it, the potential customer can place his order and select what the woman should look like, how old she should be, and what her social background should be, based on various criteria. The query is quite detailed and even goes as far as how many children the woman should have already given birth to."

"Is there any way to find out who is running the site?" echoed Rossi.

"That could prove difficult. The Dark Net is designed in such a way that it's not immediately obvious who is moving around there."

"And what are our options?" inquired Hotch.

Garcia bit her lips, and everyone could see she hated to say what was about to come, "We could place an order ourselves."

Reid's eyes snapped open. "And then what if a woman gets kidnapped because of us? You can't seriously want that?"

"No, no, of course not. But it's the only way we can get in closer contact with the kidnappers. They'd have to contact us to fill the order, and that should make tracking much easier and faster than through the website." Garcia suppressed a small sob. "I wouldn't want anyone else to get kidnapped either!"

Morgan, sitting next to Garcia, patted her hand lightly. "But I think we know what happens to women who are ordered and not picked up, so to speak. Peggy Wright may have been such a kidnap victim. For some reason, I guess the buyer didn't want her or didn't have the money anymore, so she was set free."

Hotch nodded. "As bad as this may sound right now, I think Garcia's suggestion may lead us to our goal. Very good work, Penelope!" He then assigned the new tasks. Garcia and J.J. were to take care of all that was necessary to place a fake order. They needed a customer that would stand up to scrutiny by the hijackers. The order had to be unable to be linked in any way to Quantico or, for that matter, the FBI. And all of this had to be set in motion today, if possible. Hotch also instructed Garcia to call in more technicians to assist. Their algorithm was to be further fed with photos and profiles of kidnap victims to find out if the women were showing up elsewhere on the Dark Net.

Reid was to continue working on his geographic profile. Research among the old missing persons cases had revealed some striking geographic clusters. Offenders spent a few weeks in one city and then moved on. Distances were usually only between 200 and 300 miles. In addition, the unsubs probably stayed primarily on the East Coast.

Rossi, Morgan, and Prentiss were to further develop the profile of the perpetrator group so that it could be presented as soon as possible to police forces in Arlington, as well as Philadelphia and possibly other cities where the unsubs had struck.

---

The next day brought the team back to Arlington. Several Philadelphia detectives had also been invited to the profile presentation.

"We made a breakthrough in the kidnapping series yesterday, so today we can present to you the profile of the unsubs that will help you and us catch the kidnappers," Hotch introduced, then turned the floor over to Morgan.

"We are dealing with a human trafficking ring that specializes in kidnapping and selling women based on the exact profile that each client creates. We believe the group to be at least four people, probably more. Among them, there is at least one person who is very well versed in IT and knows the Dark Net well. The group operates extremely efficiently, which suggests that it follows a strict hierarchy with a single head at the top. We suspect that this is a man. The members of the group are not concerned with violence or power, but mainly with making as much money as possible. So far, nothing in the kidnappings suggests that the women are harmed in the process. On the contrary, the 'goods' are to be handed over to the client as intact as possible."

Morgan nodded for Reid to take over. "The perpetrators have been operating for several years and stay primarily along the East Coast. They basically pick up multiple victims in one city, usually over a period of three to five weeks. They then go underground for several weeks before striking again in another city. Distances between cities are usually between 200 and 300 miles. We assume that during their stay in one city they rent a house on the outskirts, preferably secluded so that they are not observed. From there, they coordinate the kidnappings and that's where they keep the women."

"During the periods when they don't seem to be active, the transactions are completed," Rossi took over. "There may be special couriers to take the women to the customers for that. Also, during this time, they do intensive research. We suspect they select their victims online. They look for women who meet the clients' requirements and try to find them all in one district of a city if possible. This is probably because they keep a close watch on their potential targets for some time, which is easier if they are all in the same part of town. The fact that the kidnappings are spread out over a longer period of time tells us, on the one hand, that they are cautious. They don't want to attract attention by having ten women disappear on two or three days. Also, the group is probably not so large that multiple abductions in a few days would be feasible for them."

"We're trying to set a trap for the kidnappers by acting as customers ourselves. Our tech team is currently working on setting everything up for that," Hotch explains. "Currently, the perpetrators may still be in the Arlington area, so there should be a search for the hideout here. However, a public broadcast must be avoided. That might cause the perpetrators to pull up stakes here, and we might have to wait until they strike again in another city several weeks from now before we can catch them."

Hotch paused, and immediately the first questions poured in on the team. "Does that mean there could be more kidnappings in Arlington?" one of the officers wanted to know.

"Yes, that would be possible," Prentiss replied. "To that extent, we would ask you to send more police patrols, especially through Arlington Heights, and to be alert to where a red van might show up.

"It might also make sense to tell the press that a red van is being sought in connection with a hit-and-run accident," added J.J. "That lulls the perpetrators to safety, while potentially making the public aware."

"How far out of town should we look for the house that serves as the kidnappers’ base?"

"Start where there are no immediate neighbors left to view the properties. We assume it will be a rather simple house, probably partially furnished. It may be a property that has been on the market for a long time, so the owner is now happy to rent it out for at least a few weeks. However, since the unsubs must also spend a lot of time in the city, the house is unlikely to be more than 20 or 30 miles outside the city."

"What if the perpetrators have long since disappeared after the last kidnapping?" another police officer wanted to know.

"We are in contact with police departments in all major cities within a 300-mile radius and give them our profile," Hotch replied. "If the perpetrators have already left Arlington, hopefully they'll follow their previous pattern, so they'll strike next in that radius and we can catch them early in a new series of kidnappings."

Morgan didn't know if it was fair not to tell the cops that the search for the house would likely be less successful than the trap the FBI was currently setting for the perpetrators. On the other hand, he knew all too well from his time as a cop how bad it was to be relegated to waiting for other departments to get their act together. So it was probably better to give the local police a task that was - if less promising - at least meaningful.

Waiting, that was something Morgan really wasn't good at. And that reminded him again that he had to wait another day until he would meet Reid at Noche Cubana.

Chapter Text

No lights at the entrance, the door closed, and not a sound to be heard from inside - Morgan wondered if Spencer had been playing a silly joke on him when he'd asked him to join him at the Noche Cubana at seven. The club didn't open until eight, as far as he knew, and it didn't look like anyone was there yet.

Morgan tried the door handle anyway. Locked, of course, that was to be expected, he thought to himself, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and was already about to dial Reid's number when he heard a key in the lock. When the door opened, Jonas stuck his head out.

"Oh, it's you. You're lucky I just walked past the door or I wouldn't have noticed you," the bartender greeted him. "Then you're that Derek, aren't you? Spencer said you were coming."

"Yes, Derek Morgan," Morgan introduced himself formally. "So Spencer announced me, then?"

"Yes, but I guess he forgot to tell you to come to the back door." Jonas pushed the door open completely. "Come on in. I just have to lock up right after you. After all, we don't open for another hour."

Morgan pushed past Jonas, then looked around. The lights in the club were off, with only a slight glow coming from a door on the side, so something could be made out. The stools were still on the counter, the chairs on the few tables that there were in the corners of the room. The DJ's desk was unoccupied, and next to the counter were a few crates of drinks that needed to be put away before the club opened for the evening. What he didn't see anywhere, though, was Reid.

"Spencer not here yet?" he inquired of Jonas, who walked over to the bar and flipped some levers in a switch box there, causing the first lights to come on.

"Oh, sorry, of course," Jonas muttered as he rolled back his sleeves. "He's already here. I just forgot that you don't know your way around here. Spencer's upstairs. You can go up. He invited you, after all."

Again, Morgan wondered what Reid's status was at this club, so that he could apparently come and go here as he pleased, use the rooms after hours, and bring other people along as well.

"Is that upstairs over there," Morgan echoed, pointing to the lit door. Jonas was already completely engrossed in his work again and didn't quite look up. "Yeah, out that door, up the stairs, and then the second door on the right."

Morgan nodded. As he walked across the dance floor, he took off his leather jacket. He wondered why Jonas didn't work in a T-shirt right away. It was pretty warm in here. Derek was glad he had at least decided against a dress shirt and in favor of a T-shirt. He had a feeling he might get even warmer soon.

As he stepped through the door, Derek immediately heard that he was not alone here. Music was blasting down from upstairs, the typical Latin rhythms of course. Was there perhaps another smaller room here that was used for practice purposes?

Morgan followed the music upstairs and sure enough, it came directly from the direction of the second door, which, as a glow of light showed, was open.

Derek stepped into the doorway and was about to make himself heard when he was taken aback. In the small dance hall a couple was dancing. The dance was very sensual and reminded Derek of what Spencer had danced when he had watched him on his second visit. And one of the dancers was Spencer, too - but instead of holding one of his Latinas, Spencer was in the arms of a man.

Without uttering a sound, Derek watched the action in front of him, secretly glad that Spencer had his back turned and that his dance partner also seemed oblivious to the fact that someone was in the room with them. The two seemed to have eyes only for each other. Spencer's hips were close to his partner's as they moved minimally with light swaying steps. Then one figure led them a little further apart, the other man brought Spencer into a spin, as Morgan had really only seen with the ladies' steps, and then brought him back close. This was followed by a figure that Morgan also already knew from Spencer, only now he was taking the female role: The other man - Morgan thought he recognized the Latino who led the dance introductions - lifted Spencer up so he could wrap his legs around him.

Morgan gulped. If this had already looked extremely sexy with Spencer and his female dance partner, the figure now had something clearly wicked about it. As the man continued to dance with gyrating hip movements, he pulled Spencer back slightly and then pressed his face against Spencer's neck. Morgan was sure she heard Spencer groan. The next moment, the Latino grabbed Spencer's head, pulled it toward him, and kissed Spencer.

Morgan stood transfixed in the doorway, but when he realized the music was starting to fade out, he immediately turned around and disappeared as fast as he could from the upstairs.

"Didn't you find Spencer?" inquired Jonas as Morgan returned to the bar, wondering what to do next. "Um ... yes ... yes. He was ... he was still busy," Morgan brought out hesitantly and in his mind's eye immediately flashed again the image of the kiss between the two men. He hadn't expected that at all.

"Maybe this isn't the right day," Derek then said, pushing himself off the counter. "Can you tell me where the back exit is? I think I'd better get out of here."

"Back out the door, past the stairs straight ahead. Then you'll be right in front of the back exit," Jonas explained, not looking up from the cash register he was counting change into.

"Thanks. And see you soon," Morgan said a quick goodbye, turning around - and coming face-to-face with Spencer. "Oh!"

"Yeah, oh!" said Spencer with an indefinable look on his face. "And oh, you shouldn't forget anything when you're trying to sneak peeks at other people and then sneak away." And with that, he thrust his leather jacket into Derek's hand.

Morgan could feel himself getting hot all over, and he was glad that it wasn't immediately obvious when he was blushing. He hadn't even noticed in his shock at seeing Spencer with a man that he must have dropped the jacket.

"Um...where...I...," he stammered sheepishly.

And Spencer didn't seem to intend to make the situation easier for him. "You've seen that the dance hall has mirrors upstairs, right?" he put in. "It would have been more polite if you'd ducked out right away instead of watching us at length first."

Derek felt his throat tighten. This was so embarrassing! If Spencer had at least been with a girl, he could have dropped a casual comment about hot Latinas right now. But like this?

"Jonas, do you have any tequila for Derek? Maybe we can use it to get him out of his state of shock," Spencer unapologetically turned to Jonas and stepped past Derek to the counter.

"What did you do to him in the three minutes he was upstairs with you?" inquired Jonas with a grin, pushing a bottle and small glass toward Spencer.

"He was sticking his nose - again - into things that were none of his business. And you could say that's hit him in the stomach now."

Morgan watched Spencer fill the glass. He didn't know what to say and had no idea how to interpret Reid's behavior. Only one thing was clear: Reid was - amazingly - considerably less embarrassed by the whole thing than he was.

"Here, drink this," Spencer said, thrusting the glass into Morgan's hand. "And then pull yourself together. We don't have forever."

For Spencer, that seemed to put the issue to rest.

Morgan downed the tequila in one gulp. It was supposed to make him feel warm, but he was already so hot that he didn't feel anything more from the liquor than a faint tingle that trailed from his stomach to his forehead. Setting the glass down on the bar, Spencer immediately turned and made his way across the dance floor.

"Come on!" he called. "I assure you, we're alone now."

Derek didn't know if that allowed him to take a breath now, or if it didn't create a whole new tension.

Chapter Text

As Reid stepped into the small room, Morgan stopped in the doorway and stared at the mirror that stretched along the complete opposite side of the room. How could he have possibly overlooked that? When had Reid noticed him? He must have had a direct view of him, after all. Had he spotted him the moment he had looked in through the door? Or only when he had dropped his jacket at some point? It was embarrassing, but he still wasn't aware of when that had actually happened.

"Are you going to stand there forever? I don't have all night!" said Reid, tampering with a small stereo system. It was only now that Morgan even noticed that Spencer was wearing one of his dancer outfits again: The tight black pants were probably mandatory. But this time Reid had paired them with a white shirt with a stand-up collar and V-neck, and pulled a short bolero jacket over it. He looked a bit like a Spanish matador.

Morgan took a few steps into the dabce hall. "Close the door," Reid immediately called out. "I've been told there are uninvited observers around here." Morgan couldn't help it: Heat rose to his face again. It was amazing what this place alone was doing to Reid. Morgan would have bet that if he had caught the boy with a man anywhere else, Spencer would have been red-faced, stammering, and hiding somewhere. But there was no sign of embarrassment now.

Morgan closed the door. It was a strange feeling to be alone with Spencer in the room where just a few minutes ago he had surprised him in such an intimate situation. If Reid were a woman, Morgan would assume he'd be next on the list of men the boy wanted to seduce.

"After yesterday was such a disaster, I hope you're better equipped today," Reid said, turning to Morgan. "Let me see your shoes."

"No sneakers, as discussed," Derek pointed to the black suit shoes he was wearing. "Foot up. I want to see what kind of heel we're working with here," came the prompt command. Obediently, Morgan propped himself against the wall and held out a shoe sole to Reid.

"Hmm. Not really good, but it'll have to do. Look through your shoes at home and see if you can find some with more heel. The heel may also be narrower. So less bearing surface and higher for it. That helps with posture and steps alike."

Morgan cast an appraising glance at Reid's shoes. In fact, he hadn't even noticed them. They had to be special shoes for dancing, because they had heels that were almost two inches high. Still, there was nothing about them that made them look overly feminine. "I can tell you right now, I don't have anything like that in my closet," Morgan remarks, pointing at Reid's shoes. "You're welcome to come over and pick out the shoes you think would work best. Just don't let Savannah know. She'll think I have a shoe fetish lately."

"How did you sneak off, anyway?" wanted Reid to know. It was no secret that Morgan's girlfriend had all but moved in with him.

"Our job always provides an excellent excuse, thank goodness," Morgan confessed.

"Hmm, maybe someone should warn her not to believe everything you say." Reid turned and strode to the center of the dance floor. "Do you use that excuse regularly?"

"Hey!" protested Morgan immediately. "What do you think I am, a chronic cheater?"

Reid said nothing to that, just cast a meaningful glance back over his shoulder at Morgan.

"I've never cheated on Savannah," Morgan affirmed, "I would never do that to her."

"I should stay out of it anyway. Now come here. We should get started."

Morgan strode over to Reid. He didn't like the fact that the boy thought he was cheating - maybe even regularly. Yes, he liked to flirt. But Savannah knew that. He had never made any secret of that. And there had never been more than a little harmless flirting during his relationship with Savannah. And never in her presence, either. After all, he didn't want to offend her or belittle her to others by his behavior.

"I'm really faithful," Morgan assured her again as he stood up to Reid.

"It's okay, I shouldn't have said anything. Just forget it."

Reid pulled a small remote control out of his pocket and started the music. "Remember this? This is Cha Cha. Listen to the rhythm carefully. Try to feel it. Counting can help, but if you have to count all the time to keep the rhythm, the dancing will seem cramped. Also, you can tell by the look on most beginner dancers' faces when they count. It looks too funny sometimes."

Reid paused so Morgan could focus on the music. Then he started tapping along to the rhythm with his fingertips on his leg. "One, two, cha cha cha. One, two, cha cha cha. One, two, cha cha cha, that's how you can count if you need to. But please: only in your head. The constant mumbling of novice dancers just drives me nuts."

"Sounds like you have students more often."

"Not anymore. I used to try, but I honestly don't have enough patience for that."

"Then I'm honored that you'd try again with me."

"That was, if I may remind you, emotional blackmail. Now shut up."

Reid let another few seconds pass before he saw Morgan himself start tapping the beat. Then he turned off the music. "I hope you've got the rhythm in your head. Because now we're going to start doing dry runs," Reid explained. "As you've probably figured out: You're not going to stick to this floor like you would in your gym. It's important that you can glide, do turns and also drag your feet easily. You've already seen the basic step of the Cha Cha. Now look at my feet. The movements must be light and flowing. You shouldn't feel like you're pounding the basic step into the ground. Basic steps are often considered boring. But when you get a basic step like that right, it makes more of a difference than any half-assed turn."

Reid got into position in front of Morgan, paused for a moment, and then began dancing the basic step in the exact rhythm the song had just had. Tensely, Morgan watched Reid's feet. It was the exact step he had recently learned downstairs with Savannah. But yet, somehow, it looked different, too.

"Don't just look at my feet," Morgan heard Reid say with a smirk in his voice. "The secret is not just in the movement of the feet, but in the whole body."

Morgan looked up and tried to take in Reid's entire movement. "How do you do it?" he inquired, puzzled. "One would almost think one could see the music inside you, even though there's nothing to hear."

What Morgan didn't comment on was that even though Reid was really just perpetually dancing the basic step, it looked pretty darn sexy.

"I can feel the rhythm, even though I can't hear it," Reid commented. "But that's something I can't teach you. You have to find the way there for yourself."

Reid stopped. "Okay, you've seen the goal. And I'll tell you this: I won't show you any other step of the Cha Cha until you've mastered the basic step to my satisfaction."

Morgan groaned. "Then I'll probably never get past the basic step."

Reid just grinned a little. Then he turned his back to Morgan and stood so that he had a clear view of the mirror. "There's your dance partner over there," Reid explains toward Morgan's reflection. "You are welcome to look at his feet as long as you are at least four meter away from him, but never, I repeat, never look down at your feet. If you do that even once, I'll get you a neck brace so you can't move your head down another millimeter."

Morgan nodded. Reid had talked about torture early on, and he absolutely trusted the boy to carry out his threat. Still, he immediately felt weird thinking about the fact that he was now just not allowed to control whether his feet were doing what they were supposed to.

"I'll tell you when you make mistakes," Reid explained, as if he could read Morgan's mind. "So, eyes forward. Now, do the basic step. Remember, don't stomp and stay in rhythm."

Reid started the basic step and Morgan watched him for a moment before trying to get into his tempo and movement. All the while, Morgan kept his eyes on Reid's or his reflection in the mirror so he wouldn't be tempted to look down.

"Who told you to stop," Reid inquired as he paused and Morgan immediately stopped with the basic step as well. "Keep going. You need to practice the basic step, not me."

Morgan tried to get back into the rhythm, but now that he saw Reid eyeing him intently, he felt very self-conscious about it.

"Keep going, you're not going to stop until I tell you to," Reid declared. Morgan felt as if he had a test to take - and came close to failing.

"So now you're going to tell me why you're holding your arms funny."

"Why am I holding ..."

"Keep going, I said," Reid promptly interrupted him as he tried to stop with the basic step. "Surely you're going to be able to multitask enough to do the step and talk at the same time. I'm sure Savannah wouldn't be happy if she had to dance with a silent hollyhock."

Obediently, Morgan resumed the basic step. Why, the boy was a drill sergeant.

"Now answer me: What are you doing with your arms?"

Morgan looked at his arms scrutinizingly in the mirror. "I don't know what you mean," he then explained. "Isn't that the right dance posture?"

That made Reid giggle. "If you're planning on grabbing Savannah's butt, then maybe. Otherwise, your arm would belong much higher. But I didn't tell you to do anything with your arms at all. Did you see me waving them around just now?"

Morgan frowned. He had actually been so focused on Reid's feet that he hadn't really noticed that the boy hadn't done anything special with his arms. Morgan put his arms down, but at the same moment he didn't know what to do with them. Next to him, he heard Reid's giggle again, something he didn't even know if he'd ever actually heard so freely before.

"Don't think about your arms. You don't need them. Concentrate on your steps. I can dance with a partner without even touching her. Your whole body has to radiate the dance; it and your eyes give the command."

Morgan felt immediately reminded of the looks Reid had captivated his dance partners with. Yes, he could understand that. Who would be able to escape that look? You just had to follow him. Morgan swallowed hard. That was a funny thought. And he was relieved when he was pulled out by Reid's words.

"Where else are you going to run today?"

"Excuse me?"

"Keep dancing," Reid immediately admonished, and Morgan only now realized that he had automatically slowed down. He resumed the rhythm, then inquired, "What do you mean?"

"You're taking steps like you want to get out of here as fast as you can. You may only make them half as big. It looks more elegant, you're faster, you don't step on anyone's feet, and you can dance in a smaller space," Reid justified his instruction. "After all, you don't always have a whole room to yourself.

Morgan tried to gauge in the mirror how big the steps were and how small he should make them now. Reid moved away from him, but this time Morgan kept to the instruction and continued with the basic step.

"Okay, stop!" commanded Reid as he stepped beside him again. "I hereby introduce you to your new training partner.

Puzzled, Morgan looked at the strange slings Reid held in front of him. "What's this? I wasn't up for any bondage games today."

That really made Reid laugh. "Your loss. You're about to be pretty tied up - to yourself." With that, he went to his knees in front of Morgan. Morgan had to swallow again. It felt so strange, the way Reid knelt there in front of him, tugging at his pant leg. Morgan didn't even dare lower his eyes to watch what Reid was doing.

"Okay, done," Reid announced as he stood back up. Now Morgan did look down. There was now some kind of strap around each of his ankles and they were connected with some kind of thick rubber band. Morgan tested how mobile he was with it, and immediately realized that he could no longer take normal steps.

"You have enough wiggle room to get your stride size right. If you try to take too big a step, the elastic will hold you back. And if you're too careless about it and lose your balance, you'll fall flat on your face," Reid explained with a grin.

"I see: now we've definitely arrived at torture."

"Didn't I promise you," Reid said with a broad smile. "But I want to be gracious: You get music to go with it. Then you can focus more on your feet than the rhythm." The boy dug out the remote again and turned on the stereo. "The rhythm always stays the same. Five or six songs, I think after that we can call it a day," he said.

Morgan calculated through in his head and groaned. "That's 15 to 20 minutes!"

"22.5 minutes even. But you're athletic. You'll make it. Now get going. Or I'll put on another song."

Obediently, Morgan "got to work" while Reid disappeared somewhere off to the side of the hall. Gradually he wondered what he had gotten himself into with his stupid idea.

Chapter Text

Reid had mercifully left it at six songs and the just over 22 minutes. Morgan didn't like to admit it to himself, but his feet and legs were beginning to hurt. And the ankle bracelet definitely hadn't made it any easier. Morgan was just glad that he had managed to avoid similarly embarrassing scenes as at the previous training attempt: He had been able to stay on his feet, even if it had been really close once or twice.

"So, let's put you out of your misery," Spencer said when he had turned off the music and given Morgan permission to stop doing his basic steps.

Morgan immediately freed himself from the rubber harness. "Whoever invented this thing should be put in it himself," he growled as he handed it to Reid.

"Don't worry, I tried this thing on myself," Reid returned.

Morgan was flabbergasted. "You designed this thing?"

"I had the idea. An acquaintance made it," Reid admitted. "So, in conclusion, I want to see if this thing helps you. Go. I want to see some more basic steps as a dry run."

Morgan groaned. He had hoped the ordeal was over for the day. But obediently he repeated his basic steps, resuming the rhythm he had had in his ear all along.

"Well, there you go. Clearly getting better," Reid commented after studying Morgan's efforts at length. "You can stop."

"Does that mean we're done for the day?"

Reid glanced thoughtfully at his watch. "How long do you have?"

Morgan shrugged. He had assumed that Spencer, who had said that he had plans after practice, wouldn't have much more than an hour. But he hadn't told Savannah an exact time when he would be back from his workout. "I don't have any more plans. Don't you have to leave?"

"I'm expected downstairs. But if you still have time, I have an idea."

Morgan nodded. He was curious to see what else Spencer had in store, especially if he then learned more of his connection to this club here. Was he perhaps expected by the Latino he had kissed so passionately earlier? Were there gay nights here, too, perhaps, and that was why Spencer and his Latin lover had arranged to meet?

Morgan swallowed. He hoped that wasn't true. He wasn't about to mingle with a crowd of gay dancing men. As erotic as that might have seemed earlier, Morgan was sure he didn't want to witness any more scenes like that.

"Did I say something wrong?" inquired Reid with a puzzled look on his face.

"Why?"

"You're looking at me like something has you pretty scared."

Morgan put on a forced smile. "I was just wondering what other torture you had in store for me."

"Let me show you. So you're still staying?"

Morgan nodded. He wouldn't have known how to back out gracefully now, either. He followed Reid as he left the room and headed downstairs. As they walked down the stairs and Morgan heard loud music, he involuntarily looked at his watch. Could it really be that they had spent more than an hour training? It was indeed after 8 p.m., and that was confirmed by the sight before him as they walked through the door back into the club. There, the dance floor was already well filled, but there didn't seem to be any dance instruction this time. Morgan, on the other hand, noticed that there were almost no white people among the dancers anymore; rather, with a few exceptions, they were almost exclusively people of Latin American descent or African Americans.

Reid made his way along the dance floor and stopped at a group that had made themselves comfortable in a corner around a small table.

"Hola, Spencer, ya te hemos echado de menos[1]," a dark-skinned man who might have been about Reid's age said as they approached the table.

"Lo siento, estaba ocupado. Pero sabes que nunca te dejaría plantado. Siempre cancelo cuando no puedo ir[2]", said Reid. Morgan felt a bit like a fifth wheel. Spencer really had to know that he didn't understand Spanish; on the other hand, Spanish seemed to be the language of the day around here.

"¿A quién tienes a cuestas?[3]", a young woman said questioningly, and Morgan didn't have to puzzle for long. He could tell by her tone and look that she was asking for him.

"This is my friend Derek Morgan," Reid introduced Derek. "He wants to take a lesson from us because he wants to impress his girlfriend with some dance moves."

Morgan immediately felt the scrutinizing stares of the four women and three men in front of him as he tossed a quick "Hi" around. He could only imagine that they were possibly as curious as he was. That he knew nothing of Spencer's hobby probably meant they knew nothing of what Spencer did for a living either. It was fitting that Spencer introduced him only as a friend, not a colleague.

"No te gustan los novatos. ¿Por qué lo traes hoy? Podría haber venido al baile de mañana cuando todos los de primer año están allí"[4], a dark-haired woman explained, putting a hand on Reid's arm. Morgan had the impression that this might be the Latina he had seen Spencer dancing with on the first night. If he interpreted her tone correctly, she seemed annoyed. Was Reid possibly dating her? And how did that fit with what he had observed upstairs just over an hour ago?

"Spencer, maybe I should go," Morgan murmured in Reid's ear. "I don't want to barge into your date." But Spencer just shook his head.

"Es mi mejor amigo y le estoy haciendo un favor. Si no te gusta, Fernanda, puedes encontrar a otra persona para bailar esta noche. Porque si él va, yo voy"[5], Reid explained seriously and Morgan would have loved to know what he had said. The young woman, whose name must have been Fernanda, was definitely not thrilled by what she had to hear. She turned on her heel and stalked away toward the bar.

"I don't want to start any trouble," Morgan said, more audibly this time.

"Don't mind Fernanda. She's always jealous when Spencer pays attention to anyone," one of the men interjected. "She'll catch on, too - at the latest when she wants to get on the floor."

"That's where you hear it. You don't have to go," Reid confirmed, then approached a girl who looked to be in her early twenties or so. "¿Puedes hacerme un favor, Sandra? Sólo aprendió el paso básico del cha-cha. En dique seco. ¿Bailarías dos o tres cha chas con él? Voy a pedirle a Marco un par de canciones más lentas."[6]

Morgan felt the girl, obviously a Sandra, eyeing him up and down.

"Por su aspecto, se podría pensar que tiene algún sentido del ritmo. ¿Qué se supone que debo buscar? ¿Necesito zapatos con punta de acero?"[7], the girl said.

Reid let out a happy laugh and glanced at Morgan before saying, "Creo que tus pies deberían estar razonablemente seguros. Asegúrate de que no cuente en voz alta y de que no se mire los pies. Vas a tener que guiarlo hacia el ritmo. Y lo mejor de todo es que le obligues a hablar contigo para que los pasos sean más naturales. Se centra demasiado en sus pies."[8]

Reid then turned to Morgan. "Let me introduce you: This is Sandra. She's nice enough to venture out on the floor with you, so don't hurt her when you dance with her. I want her back in one piece."

Reid winked at the girl, who held out her hand to Morgan.

"Do you really think that's wise," Morgan inquired uncertainly. And at the moment, he could all too well put himself in Reid's shoes, if he was forced to talk to a couple of young women while feeling completely out of his depth.

"Are you doubting my ability as a teacher?" asked Reid back.

"More like my ability to learn as a student," Morgan immediately returned. The prospect of immediately making a fool of himself in front of Reid's friends unsettled him more than he wanted to admit to himself.

"It'll be fine. I'll make sure now that the music is right," was all Reid said, patting Morgan on the back and disappearing into the crowd.

Morgan felt extremely abandoned.

"You're lucky to have Spencer as your teacher," Sandra said. "One lesson from him will get you more than ten from any other teacher."

"I hope so for your sake," Morgan replied, looking at the young woman. She was small and petite, and he already had a feeling that together they would make a terrible picture on the dance floor - which would be completely up to him.

"This is our song," she said suddenly, pulling Morgan to the edge of the dance floor just as two bars of a new song had sounded.

Torture, this had to be part of the torture Reid had devised, Morgan thought as he followed her.

The beginning was dragging. Morgan had no idea what the proper dance posture was now. Reid hadn't shown it to him, after all. But Sandra patiently adjusted his hands. Then she had him start and stop five times before she was satisfied with his entry into the basic step. He should pay closer attention to the rhythm, she explained to him. In the Cha Cha, you couldn't start on any beat.

After that, however, it got much better. Sandra didn't let on whether she was happy with his moves or not. Instead, she asked Morgan about his taste in music. She wanted to know if he knew the title, what music he preferred, and what other songs with a Cha Cha rhythm he could think of.

By the third song, she had gotten Morgan to the point where in his mind he wasn't checking to see if he was still planting his feet correctly after every sentence he said.

After the song, however, it was immediately clear to Morgan that the exercise was now over. The next song was extremely much faster and could not be a Cha Cha.

"I think this is now finally the sign that I should go," Morgan said to Sandra as they left the dance floor. "Thank you so much for giving yourself away as a practice subject, so to speak."

"You're welcome," Sandra said. "But if I were you, I wouldn't leave just yet. Or have you seen Spencer with Fernanda yet?"

"Once, briefly, and only from a distance."

"Then you shouldn't miss their samba."

Sandra stopped at the edge of the dance floor and cast a searching glance back. "Here they come. And as you can see, Fernanda has already gotten herself together. She knows full well that it would be her loss if Spencer stopped dancing with her."

The spectacle that followed reminded Morgan immensely of his first night at the club, only this time the dance floor was suddenly completely empty when Spencer entered it with his partner. The samba, for which the couple used the entire floor, was joyful and playful on the one hand, and immensely erotic on the other. The way Reid touched his partner, it couldn't really be otherwise than that she was also his lover. If Morgan imagined himself in such a situation with Savannah, he knew that he would end up in bed with her afterwards - or in a dark back alley. But that thought once again led Morgan to wonder what then had been the deal with the other man. Was Spencer here maintaining multiple affairs at once?

"Is Spencer in charge of showmanship here," Morgan inquired of Sandra without taking his eyes off his friend. "Oh God, no," the girl immediately giggled. "He just comes here to dance, like the rest of us. But when someone dances that well, you pay your respects by giving them space. Honestly, each of us can still learn something from him."

 

Translation:

[1] Hello Spencer, we missed you already

[2] Sorry, I had some things to do. But you know I would never stand you up. I always cancel when I can't come.

[3]  Who do you have in tow?

[4] You don't usually have a thing for rookies. Why did you bring him today? He could have come to the dance tomorrow when all the beginners are there.

[5] He's my best friend and I'm doing him a favor. If you don't like it, Fernanda, you can find someone else to dance with tonight. Because if he goes, I go.

[6] Can you do me a favor, Sandra? He only learned the basic step of the Cha Cha. In dry dock. Would you dance two or three Cha Chas with him? I'll ask Marco for some slower songs.

[7] The way he looks, you'd think he'd have some sense of rhythm. What do you want me to watch out for? Do I need steel-toed shoes?

[8] I think your feet should be reasonably safe. Make sure he doesn't count out loud and that he doesn't look at his feet. You will have to guide him into the rhythm. And best of all, force him to talk to you so the steps become more natural. He focuses too much on his feet.

Chapter Text

"Hey Morgan, have you heard yet? I think we've got them hooked," Emily threw at Derek as he entered the office.

"They? Our human traffickers? Did they take the bait?" inquired Morgan immediately, walking over to Prentiss' desk. He sat down on the edge of her desk and looked at her promptly.

"Penelope is with Hotch right now," Prentiss readily explained, pointing to her boss's office, where the two could be seen talking behind the glass. Garcia seemed quite agitated, as she gestured wildly. Kevin, standing next to her, on the other hand, seemed almost petrified. He didn't seem to be saying a word and was probably wishing he was far away. "She stormed past here earlier, Kevin in tow, and just yelled 'I got them, I got them’ at me. But I'm going to make a strong assumption that she means the kidnappers."

"We should know soon enough," Derek said, glancing again toward Hotch's office. His gaze lingered on Reid's desk - which, surprisingly, was still empty.

"Where is our boy wonder today? He's usually in the office before me," Morgan asked. It was so unlike Spencer to be late, and usually it didn't bode well.

"Oh, he was already there. Had to go again. Special order from Hotch," Prentiss explained with a grin.

Morgan eyed her insistently. "A special assignment? And you're already laughing your ass off like that? It's not April Fool's Day, and Hotch isn't exactly known for his jokes. Then what amuses you so?"

"Oh, I'm sure you'll find out in a minute. It's best you stay close by so you don't miss the spectacle," Emily advised him with a wink. "I promise you, it will be a delicious surprise."

"Prentiss, do you have your fingers in the pie? What prank are you trying to play on Reid? I have a bad feeling about this."

But Emily just grinned meaningfully and remained silent.

If Morgan had known what it was about, he might have intervened or given Spencer a heads up. He probably owed him that because of the dance lessons. But as it was, he had no real choice but to wait to see what surprise gave Prentiss such mischievous pleasure.

Before Morgan could even think of what reason he would have to hang around the bullpen anymore, he suddenly heard excited voices coming from the direction of the elevator.

"Watch it, here we go," Prentiss hissed at him with a grin.

The next moment Spencer came around the corner, looking even more disheveled than usually - and in tow, three young women. Or should we say three girls?

"Who are they?" inquired Derek of Prentiss, as he watched the girls bombard Spencer with questions of some sort, and he stopped, red-faced, in front of the first tables and turned to face them. "Please keep it down. I will answer all questions. But the colleagues here have to be able to work in peace," he almost begged the three.

"May I introduce: Spencer's new entourage. Three female students who got into the FBI selection process. He now gets to take them under his wing for a few weeks," Emily announced cheerfully.

Morgan couldn't believe his eyes and ears. What had possessed Hotch to appoint Spencer, of all people, to watch over these chicks? And why hadn't Spencer just declined with thanks? Disaster was already a foregone conclusion.

Spencer talked tooth and nail to the girls, who were barely older than 20. Somehow, though, he still couldn't seem to keep them in line.

"Shouldn't we help him?" inquired Morgan, "This isn't for Reid. Why didn't J.J. get this assignment?"

"Remember how you told Rossi the first year he started working here again that you didn't want to talk to the priest? And then how Rossi pushed that very assignment on you? I would guess that just as you were supposed to grow from your assignments then, Spencer is supposed to now."

"Doing something you don't want to do is very different from having to do something you don't have the right skills for," Morgan returned.

But in the next moment, he bristled. Just a few weeks ago, the comment that Spencer lacked social skills would have been absolutely correct. But now he had to admit that this was probably not the case. Thinking of Reid's circle of friends at Noche Cubana, he had to admit that the boy was perfectly capable of communicating with others, even beyond his immediate circle of friends, considering how many people he was surrounded by there.

"If you think so, play knight in shining armor for him. See if he thanks you," Prentiss said with a shrug. "But remember: the girls might stick to you instead of Spencer after this. I don't know if you'll like that any better."

There was no way that was better, Morgan immediately thought to himself. And he wasn't sure Reid would approve of his interference, either. But something occurred to Morgan, and with a grin, he turned away from Prentiss and walked over to the small group.

"Reid, can I talk to you for a minute?" he asked Spencer as he stepped up beside him, paying no attention at all to the girls. "Morgan, can't you see I'm busy right now?" whined Spencer. "Can't this wait until ..."

"No problem," Morgan interrupted him. "Ladies, please join my colleague Emily Prentiss," he turned to the girls, pointing to Prentiss. "She will be happy to assign you each a desk here and tell you where to find office supplies. Dr. Reid will get back to you after we talked."

With that, he immediately turned back to Reid, put his arm around his shoulders, and with a "Come!" pushed him toward his office.

"You can't do that," Reid immediately protested as Morgan closed the door behind them.

"What, you want to go back to your goslings? Now sit down first," Morgan demanded, pushing Reid into the chair in front of his desk before settling on the other side.

"But Hotch told me to take care of the students," he said.

"And I don't know anything about that, and I need you now for a situation briefing."

"What situation briefing? And why here and not in the briefing room?" echoed Reid, confused.

"Your situation. And this is a one-on-one," Morgan replied with a small smile. "Now, just relax for now. Prentiss can handle your goslings. Serves her right if she has to deal with them now. You should have seen the fun she was having just a minute ago."

Spencer slapped his hands in front of his face with a groan. "I'm just not cut out for this. They don't listen to me at all, either. They just babble on and on, asking countless, completely pointless questions. Why did Hotch just give me this assignment?"

"Probably because you're the youngest on the team. And our poster child."

Indignant, Reid looked up. "I haven't been a junior for a long time. I think you're forgetting how long I've been part of the BAU."

Morgan grinned. "I haven't forgotten, but you seem to have. Mind if I give you a few pointers?" This time, he preferred to ask cautiously before assaulting Reid with his wisdom. He didn't want to upset the boy again.

"Hmm," Spencer returned with a shrug. Apparently he didn't think Morgan's tips were going to help him.

"Okay, first of all, how old are these girls?"

"Twenty-one, twenty-two, something like that."

"And what were you doing at that age?"

"In college? At 21, I just finished my third Ph.D., then I went to the FBI Academy. At 22, I started at BAU."

"So while these goslings are just getting started on their degrees, you've had yours three times already - and got your career going. And in the meantime, more than seven years have passed, during which you've made a name for yourself in the FBI and in various scientific fields. So if anyone would have reason to be nervous, it's those three girls, and certainly not you."

"If they saw it that way, then maybe. But I think they think I'm a student, too. Or a temp, an intern, or something," Spencer admitted meekly. Morgan had to stop herself from laughing out loud. That could only happen to Reid. And admittedly: Considering his somewhat nerdy style of dress, including sweater, rumpled tie, and Converse on his feet, you really were probably more likely to think he was an intern instead of an experienced FBI agent.

"And you did nothing to clear up this mistake?"

"No opportunity presented itself?"

Reid really was delightfully helpless at times. Inwardly, Morgan could only shake his head.

"Okay, second point: are they on a first-name basis with you?"

"Yes, of course."

"No, it's not natural at all. You're not their friend, you're not their study buddy. You're their supervisor. And here comes my tip: When you go back out there to them, the first thing you do is make it clear what your rank is here. And the second thing you do is you forbid any confidences. You can be friendly if you are naturally in control of a situation or don't need to be in control. But when you have to gain that control, you create distance. You're going to reprimand them every time they use your first name. Believe me, that alone will work wonders."

Morgan looked at Reid forcefully. "Imagine that they use your first name to question your professional competence. Every time they use your first name they say you can't have a Ph.D. at all. And then counter them!"

"But I can't be unkind and mean to them," Reid objected. "After all, we want them to be interested in a career in the FBI."

"That's why you're not being rude and mean, you're being matter-of-fact and sober. And if they really want a career here, they need to learn discipline."

"You always make that sound awfully easy," Spencer sighed.

"As easy as you make the cha cha sound," Morgan countered. "When you can do something, it's always easy, and I don't have to tell you that you have to put in a little effort on the way to being able to do it. But I have another tip for you: You don't have to deal with the girls alone. The fact that you're supposed to take care of them doesn't mean you have to constantly scurry around them alone. Split them up, give them different tasks, send them to J.J., Prentiss, Rossi, or me. You just have to make sure they always have someone to turn to."

"Well, at least I should be able to manage that," Spencer said, finally looking back up at Derek from his hands, which he had been knotting in his lap the whole time. "Anyway, thanks for your tips. I'll try to implement them."

"You'd best start now," Morgan advised him. "If what Prentiss said earlier is true, Garcia has news on our case. So see that you find your three goslings something nice to do that will cost them a few hours so we can get on with our case."

---

"Hey, baby girl, you got a few minutes for me?" inquired Morgan as he poked his head into Garcia's chamber.

"I'm just getting ready for our meeting," Garcia replied, typing away on her keyboard at lightning speed. "But for you, dream of my sleepless nights, I always have time." She pressed enter, then spun her chair around to face Morgan. "What brings you to me?"

"Spencer?"

"Is that you asking if I've seen him, or is that supposed to be the answer to my question?" inquired Penelope, eyeing Morgan closely. Then she pushed a chair toward Derek. "Sit down and tell aunt Garcia what's on your mind."

Morgan turned and made sure the door was closed behind him one more time before dropping into the chair.

"You know this has to stay between us," he then implored Penelope.

"I don't even know what has to stay between us, but none of your words will ever get out of this cave."

"Okay, so ... actually, gossip isn't really my thing ...," Derek muttered, staring at one of Garcia's monitors.

"But?"

"This thing with Reid is confusing me, and I can't talk to anyone without giving away more of what I promised to keep to myself. And you ..."

Garcia nodded. "I already know more than I should anyway."

"Hmm," Morgan grumbled, then fell silent. He wasn't sure he should talk to Penelope about Reid - he had, after all, assured Spencer of secrecy. On the other hand, his experiences with the boy were so much on his mind that he feared they would become too much of a distraction if he couldn't talk about them with anyone.

"He leads something of a double life," Morgan explained after a few seconds.

"A double life?", Garcia immediately became curious. "Like, as an secret agent or something? Is he investigating undercover? Does he have a Russian wife and two small children somewhere?" she gushed.

Morgan couldn't help but laugh heartily. "My girl, now the horses are running away with you. Reid as a double agent, or what?" And yet, he had to admit, he was beginning to believe the boy could e everything.

"What then? What kind of double life?"

"Here he's the shy, uptight nerd who stutters around way too much, knows more than is good for him, and blushes at every little thing. But at Noche Cubana ..." Morgan broke off, recalling the scenes from the first sighting of Spencer on the dance floor, to the hot kiss with the Latino, to his numerous friends at the club.

Penelope raised her eyebrows questioningly and nudged him. "What's there?"

"It almost feels like the club is his kingdom and he's the regent. He's confident, has a ton of friends, everyone there knows and appreciates him. And, well, I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing he's having more than one affair."

"At the same time?" immediately asked Garcia about what she was most interested in. "Does that mean he's keeping a whole harem there?"

Morgan almost wanted to agree. The host of women at Reid's feet at Noche Cubana could already strongly resemble a harem. "I don't know," he replied truthfully instead. "I've only seen one thing: How he kissed a man."

"I beg your pardon?" squeaked Penelope excitedly, and Morgan immediately looked around, startled, fearing that at any moment someone might rush in and ask the reason for the scream.

"Shh, not so loud, baby girl. I don't want the whole office to know what I'm telling you right now," Morgan admonished.

Garcia put his hand over his mouth and whispered behind it. "Tell! Please, please tell! Who is this guy?"

And Morgan related how he had come to the club again in the first place and what he had observed there before his first dance lesson.

"Is he perhaps completely gay and that's why he's always so nervous, hardly ever to speak to any woman?" inquired Penelope.

Morgan shrugged his shoulders. "I haven't the faintest idea. But if Reid really is gay, he knows how to hide it well from the ladies at Noche Cubana."

"Wow, who would have thought such a thing of our boy wonder," Garcia muttered, sinking back into her chair. "And what a shame I can't just go there and observe it for myself."

Morgan shook her head. "There's no way you can do that. If Reid finds out I'm talking to you about him, he'll never talk to me again. I'll probably show up on the missing persons list eventually, and no one will ever find my body."

"Well, it can't be that bad. After all, we're talking about Spencer."

"Right, about a Spencer that none of us really know."

"I understand that this is all bothering you," Garcia agreed. "Do you blame yourself for the fact that he can only be so himself on the sly and is so different here at work?"

"You mean because he said he feels inferior next to me?"

Garcia nodded.

"No, I don't think so. I can't help his complexes," Morgan continued. "But I wonder if it's not up to me now to help him break those down. I've ... I've tried to give him tips on how to deal with these female students that Hotch has thrown at him. With moderate success, though."

"Derek Morgan, you are just too good for this world," Penelope gushed.

"That, my girl, could be said about you," Morgan promptly returned. "So you think it's right for me to try to help him?"

"I think it's right for you to try," Garcia replied. "Whether you get anywhere with Reid, that remains to be seen. But be careful. I'm not sure he's so happy about your meddling. It could backfire if he thinks you don't trust him with anything and that's why you keep giving him tips."

Morgan nodded. That could be true. He really needed to act with extreme caution.

"Thank you, baby girl, for listening to me," Morgan said as he stood up. Reid would continue to haunt his mind, but at least he could talk it out with Garcia if it got to be too much.

"Always, my sugar bear," she returned. "And even if I'm not allowed to know anything: I'm always happy to hear some news about our little genius," she added with a wink as Morgan left her office.

Chapter Text

Garcia had very carefully cast her virtual line with Kevin and two other technical analysts, as well as the FBI's Indianapolis branch office, and now the kidnappers seemed to have actually taken her bait. In a meeting to which the entire team had been called together - Reid, to his chagrin, with the three female students in tow - Garcia had briefly explained how they had proceeded. In Indianapolis, a fake identity had been used that the FBI had set up some time ago. There were countless of these identities, for example, in order to have immediately available suitable and credible material for the background of a person for undercover operations. In this case, the fake identity was a successful management consultant named Jonathan Corban, who had sold his company when he turned 50 and had been enjoying his retirement for two years. He was unmarried and childless, which made him a suitable potential buyer for the human trafficking ring. Corban had several properties listed and cars registered - at least on paper. He also had a city apartment in Indianapolis and a country estate outside the city.

In his name, Garcia had now placed an "order" on the Darknet. Everything had been set up to make it look like the computer used to do it was in Indianapolis. For safety's sake, there were also two phone lines there for Corban, which were redirected to Quantico. And now the first contact had been made with the kidnappers. The latter had responded to Corban's order and sent their detailed terms. Corban was to deposit half of the purchase amount, which was $100,000, in Bitcoins into an appropriate account. Then the order would be executed within three months and Corban would be contacted as soon as the delivery of the “goods” could take place. After that, the second half of the purchase amount would be due.

"No contact before delivery, and bitcoins are actually untraceable," Reid summed up thoughtfully when Garcia finished her report. "How are we going to catch them?"

"Via email, I might be able to track where the gang is at the moment - shouldn't they have a central base from which to manage orders," Garcia opined. "But phone contact would definitely have been my preference. That would be a much quicker way to determine where they are."

"Then we need to draw them out," Rossi suggested. "We need a reason or incentive to get them on the phone with us."

"I doubt they'll go for something like that. They've gone undetected for so long because they're cautious. They're not going to throw that caution overboard now," Hotch countered. But Rossi shook his head. "They're only after one thing: money. If the amount is right, this group will also become careless. I'm sure of it."

"And what do you suggest?" inquired Reid.

"We answer that the price appeals to us, and that if there is a discount, we would be interested in a bulk order. And if they go for it, then we insist on telephone negotiations."

"And if they don't go for it?" echoed JJ. "Maybe they'll stay cautious, too. After all, we know there's one person at the top. If he doesn't go for it, then we're at an impasse."

"Yeah, but I still think it's a good idea," Garcia interjected. “Because even these additional negotiations are over several e-mails. That means I have more time and more material to work with."

"Then let's do it this way," Hotch declared. "Who plays our decoy? From the time we propose the phone call, Corban's phone lines will have to be diverted to one of ours."

Hotch looked back and forth between Morgan and Rossi. Morgan thought it was a little unfair that Reid was excluded right away. But then again, he knew all too well that Reid might react nervously if a call actually came in, jeopardizing the operation.

"I better not. If a call comes in while I'm at home and Savannah's around, that might be hard to explain if one can hear her in the background," Morgan also declined the task himself.

"The same goes for me because of Jack," Hotch indicated. "Dave, could you take over?"

Rossi nodded immediately. "If Garcia sets up all the technology for me, of course."

"Come with me, and we'll set up your cell phone appropriately right away so we can trace the calls," Garcia suggested, bringing the meeting to a close as well.

As the team left the room, Morgan stayed behind a bit. He wanted to observe how Reid was getting along with the female students. But a quick glance showed him that his tips probably hadn't helped that much yet. The girls besieged Reid as soon as he sat down at his desk. One squatted down on his desk, a second even managed to put her hand on his arm. And Reid, who generally didn't like that at all, didn't manage to shake her off without much fuss. The girls seemed to be questioning him again, and judging from Reid's facial expression, he was highly uncomfortable with the questions. When Reid finally jumped up in a hurry and fled toward the kitchen, Morgan followed him. However, he was stopped in his tracks by Prentiss.

"You want to play savior again, Morgan," she inquired with a grin. "This is getting to be a habit with you."

"What can I say, I'm just a nice guy," Derek returned with a small smile.

"So nice that you put the ladies on me. Do that again and you'll find out just how nice I can be," Emily playfully threatened. "By the way, it's probably just as well you go after Reid. I guess he's got some questions he needs you to answer before he can show his face at his little harem again."

Morgan frowned in confusion. What was that supposed to mean now? But before Prentiss could keep him guessing, he continued on his way to the kitchen. Spencer would surely tell him in a moment what was going on.

"No, I don't know what Morgan's favorite color is, and I'm not going to find out for you what kind of beer he likes best," Reid hissed as Morgan entered the kitchen without turning around. "And I'll be damned if I'm going to tell either of you where I live!"

"Dark red, Anheuser, and I wouldn't tell them your address either," Derek said with a quiet smile as he closed the door behind him.

Spencer, who was about to transfer oodles of sugar into his coffee cup, spun around jerkily, sugaring half the counter in the process.

"You? Oh my God, sorry, that ... that was ... that was supposed to ... that wasn't meant for you," Spencer stammered, eyes wide.

"Calm down, Reid. And then you tell me what made you bolt in here like a startled rabbit."

Spencer turned back to his coffee cup and heaped two more spoonfuls of sugar into it before muttering, "They're just killing me. And I don't know what to do. And since you showed up, it's gotten worse. They ... they're asking me questions ... about you. And about me, too. The blonde even asked me if ... if ... if I had a girlfriend. And if you're married. And if you're faithful. That's ... I'm not ... that's just not ... not my world," Spencer stammered to himself.

Of course, Morgan would have liked to ask what answer Spencer had given the girls about his love life. But that was probably not very helpful. And it had probably been this very question that had prompted Reid to flee to the kitchen.

"Well, I hope you told them right away about your tough girlfriend Emily Prentiss and made it clear to them that I'm as gay as a post," he therefore said dryly. He didn't have to wait long for a reaction from Spencer. "What?" the latter almost shouted, "Who's supposed to be my girlfriend? Are you out of your mind? And you ... you gay ... no one will believe me that!"

Derek couldn't help it anymore, he just had to laugh out, because Spencer's face was just too funny.

"That ... that's exactly the point," Derek explained, chuckling with laughter. "How many more questions do you think they're going to ask when you tell them all kinds of nonsense as soon as it gets too personal? You might as well tell them they're welcome to visit you in your penthouse apartment up here in the building. Just imagine how they would try to figure out which elevator leads up to your apartment."

That finally elicited a little giggle from Spencer, too. "I should really try that out."

"You do that. Now, you go out there and hand out assignments: One you send to Charly's Café to get us sandwiches for lunch today. The second you assign to look for printed files in the archives on all the abduction cases we have on the tables right now. And the third ... well, have Garcia give her the video footage of Sally Foster's walk home from the hospital and search them all for a red van."

"But Morgan, that's just nonsense: It takes half an eternity to walk to Charly's Café. And they don't even serve sandwiches anymore. There are only digital files of the abduction cases. And we already know that the van doesn't show up in the records. Why would I give them orders like that?"

Morgan smirked. "It's simple: when all three of them come back to you with no results, you explain to them that once they start acting like serious prospects for a career with the FBI, you'll give them reasonable assignments. And then you send them home. Don't care about how late it is then. They can think about it until tomorrow if they learn any lessons from that."

"I think I'm starting to be glad I didn't have you as a supervisor when I started here. You can be really mean."

"But that's the only way you're going to get anywhere with them. And for your peace of mind: Everyone here knows that those kinds of methods would never have been necessary with you."

Morgan gave Spencer a quick pat on the shoulder, "Now, let's get into the fray. After that, you'll definitely have your peace for the next few hours."

Chapter Text

The week had passed without any major events. Derek had therefore almost been looking forward to this evening. But now he was actually a little unsure. Music was blaring from the room where Derek had practiced with Spencer last week. Involuntarily, Morgan wondered if it was wise to show up there completely without notice. He really didn't want to experience such an embarrassing scene as last time - or worse.

"Spencer?" called Morgan, hoping he would be heard, stopping at the top of the stairs.

It took a few seconds before his prayer was answered and Reid actually stuck his head out the door. "Did you forget where the practice room was?" inquired Reid, confused.

"No, I just wasn't sure if you were there yet," Morgan said, adding the "or alone" only in his mind. But apparently the boy could read minds of late. "You can come in. There are no nasty surprises," he commented, then disappeared into the small dance hall. Just like last time, Morgan closed the door behind him as he stepped through.

"So, have you been practicing?" inquired Reid as he fiddled with the stereo.

"A little?"

Reid laughed. "Well, I guess not. Let's see what you've got still in your head - or feet."

"Since you only taught me one basic step, there's not that much I could have forgotten," Morgan explained with a slight pout. Yes, he really hadn't learned many dance steps, but he had learned an incredible amount about Reid. And that's where he hoped to continue today.

"The cha cha has the same tempo as last time. Find your way in and do the basic step until I tell you to stop," Reid commanded, and in the next moment he turned on the music.

Morgan was not prepared for such a fast start. He quickly took off his jacket and stepped onto the dance floor, already counting out the rhythm in his mind. He had to let a few more bars pass until he was sure that he had found his way into the song, then he started with the basic step and counted the first bars with concentration. Only then did he allow himself to look in the mirror for Reid. The latter stood diagonally behind him and did not take his eyes off him.

Morgan had never noticed how intense Reid's gaze could be. Maybe he'd never come into Reid's focus like that before, but he felt as if the boy was peering through all the layers into his innermost being. And that gave him a strange feeling, as if everything inside him was tightening.

Morgan stumbled and got out of step.

"You can stop," Reid said as Morgan tried to get back into his basic stride. "Not putting all your focus on your feet is good, not having your head in the dance at all, on the other hand, not so much," the boy commented, as if he could read Morgan's mind.

Morgan just mumbled a quiet, "Sorry." He certainly didn't feel like giving Reid an explanation for his digressive thoughts.

"I may hereby inform you that you are not a lost cause," Spencer explained with a small smile as he stopped the music. "Which, by the way, I didn't assume you were. You did a pretty good job of retaining what you learned last time. The steps a little smaller, or I'll put you in shackles again. The rest is okay."

Morgan was honestly relieved. Right now he couldn't judge at all how good or bad what he was doing was. "Does that mean you're going to teach me something new today? A different dance?"

That really made Spencer laugh. "Now you're getting a little carried away. Just because you can set your feet correctly in the basic step doesn't mean you're ready for new steps. And certainly not for a new dance. Sandra didn't have to tell me a week ago, but she did: you move like you've got a stick up your backside. Such a stiff posture may be good for standard dances, but not at all for what we are dancing here. Meaning: we're dealing with posture and hips today."

"Posture and hips," Morgan repeated, feeling like he was back in the classroom. Reid was really good at playing the role of a teacher.

"That's right, and just to make this a little fun for me - what else would I get out of the whole thing - we're going to film you now."

"You want to please what?" asked Morgan incredulously. "You don't seriously think I'm going to go along with this. Who knows who can make fun of me afterwards?"

"How about a little trust?"

Morgan fell silent. It didn't suit him at all what Reid was up to. How quickly did a cell phone film find its way onto the Internet? And then everyone could have a good laugh about him strutting across the parquet like a stork in a salad. The only thing he was sure of was that Reid would never show the film around at BAU. In doing so, he would only be giving himself away.

"Seems like confidence isn't your strong suit," Spencer muttered, and Morgan could see some disappointment in his face. "We'll take your phone and you can delete the movie yourself afterwards, okay? But you won't understand what I'm about to explain until you can watch yourself in peace, not just in the mirror while you focus on the steps."

Reluctantly, Morgan nodded. If he didn't want to throw Reid completely off his game, he guessed he had to play along. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, unlocked it, and thrust it into Spencer's hand.

"I'm going to give you a whole song. Don't worry about me filming you from all angles. Just focus on the music. Remember, you're already better today than you were a week ago. It's not about making you look bad."

Morgan appreciated Reid's emphasis. But he still had a bad feeling. Once again, he had to think about what it might be like for the boy to be in unfamiliar territory and be watched. Slowly he could really understand some of Spencer's insecurities.

Reid started the music again and then disappeared from Morgan's direct field of vision. Getting into the song took even longer than the first time, and Morgan actually attributed this to a certain amount of nervousness he felt in the pit of his stomach. After that, the steps worked sometimes better sometimes worse. The moment he saw Reid in the mirror, holding the cell phone directly at him, he almost tripped again, but managed to catch himself just in time. When the song was finally over, Morgan felt like there was sweat on his brow, not from exertion, but from tension.

"Okay, little breather for you," announced Reid, who was probably pretty well aware that this had tugged at Morgan's nerves. Derek found it amazing that Reid seemed to be able to read him like an open book - and this when he was usually completely at a loss when interacting with others.

"Don't you want me to look at it now?" inquired Derek anyway. Maybe it was better to get the inevitable over with right now.

"Nope," Reid opined. "I want you to watch me first. And to be more specific: Everything but my feet."

"Posture and hips?"

"That's right," Reid smirked.

I could get used to that light-hearted expression, Morgan thought to himself as he watched Reid walk to the center of the hall and then turn on the music. And it definitely had its appeal that he could now not only surreptitiously watch Reid dance, but had even been asked to do so.

Spencer let a beat pass before entering the dance with a rather snappy movement. As he always required Morgan to do, he simply let his arms hang at his sides. And yet: they didn't just hang limply. Somehow, without much movement, they moved along anyway.

Morgan couldn't help but pay attention to Reid's feet anyway. Somehow the boy set the steps differently than he did - although the sequence of movements was exactly the same. They had more verve, were more vigorous, without coming out stomping.

Morgan's gaze slid further upward. Hips Reid had said, and yes, there was a lot going on. That was what made Reid's dancing seem so erotic: those hip movements. Normally, when Morgan thought of a hip thrust, she would think of a woman's pretty butt, but there was nothing feminine about Reid's hip thrust. Now Morgan suddenly wanted to know what it looked like from behind. Reid had asked him to watch, after all. He hadn't said he should only do it from the front.

Morgan walked slowly around Reid, well aware that he was being followed by the boy's gaze in the mirror. But apparently this change of position did not irritate Reid one bit. Without the slightest change, he continued to dance the basic step while Morgan circled him until the song finally faded out.

"I think you saw what it came down to, didn't you?" inquired Spencer as he stepped up beside Morgan. "And now comes the moment of truth. You watch the video and tell me what you need to do differently."

"Pretty much anything. But why don't you just tell me what to do. Do I really need to look at this?"

"Yeah, I won't look if you don't want me to. But it's important to be able to literally see yourself. And it's very different whether you're seeing yourself in the video now with a clear head, or in the mirror during the steps."

Morgan was all too aware of that, or his core wouldn't be so resistant to judging himself right now.

"You know, that's actually just as true for you," Morgan said, not looking at Reid as he picked out the film on his phone. "I mean the 'being able to see yourself' thing. Is it possible that you can't always do that either?"

"Yeah, I know," Spencer quietly returned. And a glance showed Morgan that a bit of Reid's confidence had suddenly disappeared.

"Are you going to watch this with me or not?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood. He definitely preferred the confident Spencer to the one who was easily intimidated.

Reid put on a wry grin. "But you're commenting yourself. You have to see for yourself what you need to change."

Morgan started the video and held the phone so Reid could look at the small screen with him. It's just awful, he thought to himself as he watched himself take his first steps. He immediately stopped the video again. "I can't. How am I supposed to compare that here to you?" he asked. "I'll tell you when you tell me how I'm supposed to compare myself to you at work," Spencer suddenly became serious again.

"Not at all," Morgan immediately protested. "You're a person in your own right. Why would you want to compare yourself to me?"

"And we both have to learn that. You here and me at work. And that takes time," Spencer said, looking very sheepish. "Don't think I don't know why you'd suddenly want to learn to dance. I'm pretty sure it has little to do with Savannah and a lot more to do with me."

Morgan lowered the phone. "So why did you agree?"

"Because you're my friend. You appealed to my friendship with you, and in doing so, you reminded me that big secrets are not good for a friendship. That's why I showed you this."

This - Morgan knew full well that Reid wasn't just talking about this practice room or a few dance steps, but the whole web he was a part of here. And his second self. "And does that mean the dance lessons are over now?" he inquired cautiously.

"That's up to you. If you really want to learn something, then we'll continue. If you just wanted to know what I was doing here, that's it. I don't want to waste my time on a farce. I'm sure you understand that."

Morgan thought about it for a moment. Surprisingly, he didn't find the decision difficult at all. "I think I really want to learn this," he said. "But I also want to be honest: I want this less because of Savannah and more to learn about the world you're in. To understand what makes you such a different person. If those are the wrong reasons for you, then I'll also accept if you quit teaching here."

Chapter Text

As Spencer turned away and took a few steps down the hall, Morgan could already picture Spencer's decision. He shoved the cell phone into his pocket and walked to his jacket.

"I ..."

"Stay!", Spencer interrupted him. Morgan glanced back over his shoulder.

"I'll teach you a few more steps, and you can come to the dance evenings if you like. But you promise not to try to find out about me from my friends. If you want to know anything, you ask me. That's my condition."

It was on the tip of Morgan's tongue to promptly question Reid about his kiss with the Latino, but he knew he would probably be gambling by doing so. He put his jacket back as he replied, "I can live with that." And they both knew eventually Morgan's questions would come.

"Then back to your video. I want to hear from you what you need to change to make your basic step look less stilted," Spencer promptly returned to their original topic.

Morgan took a deep breath, pulled the phone back out of his pocket, and watched the video. Don't compare to Reid, he repeated in his mind as he did so, like a mantra. He couldn't become a copy of Reid. "I think those hip movements, which I don't have at all, already make a lot of difference. Plus, you're kind of faster with the steps."

"Not faster, or I'd be off the beat, but faster on point," Spencer explained. "Maybe a silly comparison, but think of it like using a fly swatter. You have a certain amount of time before the fly that's just sitting in front of you takes off. You can, of course, sneak up on it with the swatter and hope it doesn't notice you. But you can also strike quickly and then, before you raise the swatter again, look around to see if the fly is buzzing anywhere around you. Roughly understood?"

"Something like that? Faster and then wait?"

"Yeah, something like that. You'll have to try it out, it's hard to explain," Reid said. "And it's similar with the hip swing. Exercises like gyrating hips or the famous stair climbing from 'Dirty Dancing' don't help much, by the way. To women, maybe, but to a man, it quickly seems overdone."

"So how do I learn it?"

"A lot happens in the mind. You have to imagine it first and foremost. And that's why it's important that you stop thinking about the steps. You need your concentration for other things."

Morgan nodded. That sounded doable. If he only had to do basic steps, he'd be fine thinking about something other than his feet.

"Okay, now add posture to that. Fortunately, you're so well trained that it doesn't even occur to you to kind of roll your back like some people do." Morgan could see from his facial expressions that the image Reid must have had in his mind's eye during his explanation was anything but pretty. "No matter how big or small your dance partner is, you never lean down to her. Your arms go the distance, not your back," Reid admonished him. "Which brings us to the fact that now you have to learn how to hold your arms so I can unleash you on Sandra again."

Spencer played around with the stereo remote until the next Cha Cha sounded. Then he stepped into the center of the room. "Show me how you would hold your arms," he demanded.

Derek faced Reid and raised his arms. The right one he put fairly high around an imaginary dance partner - Reid had told him to stay away from anyone's butt, after all - the left one he stretched a good bit away from him.

"Well, now I'm glad I didn't end up on the rack," Spencer commented dryly on the posture. "You should demonstrate on me, though. Dry runs don't help here at all."

Morgan swallowed. He immediately remembered how Spencer had been in his dance partner's arms a week ago - and how close they were.

"You're so tall. Shouldn't I try this with a woman instead? They're usually shorter than me," he tried to talk his way out of the situation.

"If you want lessons from me, you practice with me," Reid promptly retorted. "Besides, you've seen Fernanda. With her high heels, she's barely two centimeter shorter than me. So don't be so coy."

Morgan swallowed again. That was training, he told himself. In hand-to-hand combat training, he got in other men's faces, too. Then here he should have no problem taking Reid's hand in his or putting his arm around him. But just the thought of it sent a strange shiver down his spine.

"Morgan?"

"Yeah, yeah, okay," Derek returned, taking a step toward Spencer. He held out his left hand, into which Spencer promptly placed his right. Hesitantly, Derek took another step closer. Damn, he felt like a teenager trying to put his arm around a girl for the first time at the movies - only more watched, because Spencer wouldn't take his eyes off him. Slowly, he reached around Spencer and placed his right hand somewhere on his back.

Morgan was relieved that Reid didn't comment further on his hesitation as he explained, "You lead with your whole body, not just your right hand. That means you don't have to stretch your arm out like a signpost in the direction you want to go." Reid pulled their hands back a bit from their very extended position. "You angle your arm, but keep your elbow up. That gives you room to lead." Reid demonstrated the stance, then waited for Derek to position his arm about right. "The position of the right hand is simple if you know a little anatomy: under your partner's left shoulder blade. Not on the middle of the back, not directly on the shoulder blade, and certainly not at the waist or lower. Got it?"

"Under the shoulder blade. Got it," Morgan muttered, feeling his way to the right spot.

When he reached it, Reid held the position for a moment and then took a step back. "Shake out your arms," he commanded, followed by "and right back in position."

Morgan grimaced, but tried to resume what he saw as a rather unfamiliar position. Reid corrected again, held the position, and then stepped back again. A dozen or so times Morgan eventually had to endure the exercise until Reid was satisfied with the result.

"I thought I was learning to dance, not stand," he grumbled as it began to get too much for him.

"You're not going to get impatient already, are you?" laughed Reid. "I bet you also tell the aspirants you're training that they have to repeat the steps and moves over and over until they get it right."

"But at least they can move while they're doing it. I'm just standing here stiffly," Morgan protested.

"That can be changed," Reid promptly countered. "As you can hear, the music is still playing. Let's dance."

A cold shiver ran down Morgan's spine. He could have guessed, of course, that Reid would mime the female part, but somehow he hadn't expected that to happen today already. He couldn't explain his reaction himself, but his heart beat a little faster as he stepped back up to Reid to take up dancing position again.

And then they just stood there again.

Morgan waited.

Nothing happened.

"A little hint," Reid finally said. "I'm the woman in this game. The man leads. So you should start dancing at some point."

Reid's quiet words completely threw Morgan for a loop: he started up, took a step forward instead of to the side, and promptly traipsed onto Spencer's toes.

"Okay, new rule," Reid explained as Morgan apologized. "If you step on my toes, you clean my shoes afterward."

"You have funny rules: Neck braces when I look down, restraints when my steps get too big, and now shoe shining if I ever accidentally step on your toes. Does everyone put up with you like this?" grumbled Derek.

"No, but you're also the only beginner I volunteer lessons to."

"And you're really serious about shining shoes?"

"If you step on my toes again, then yes."

Focus, Morgan told himself. He truly had no intention of becoming Reid's shoeshine boy.

Again he took up dancing posture with Reid, this time already much less hesitant than the times before. He counted two more bars, then started the basic step - now also in the right direction. Reid followed him immediately.

The dancing definitely felt different than with Sandra a week ago. It might have been because Reid was significantly taller than the young girl. But probably also because he didn't dare to look Reid in the eye right now, which hadn't been a problem at all with Sandra.

Reid completed a series of steps with Morgan until he paused. "Okay, new exercise."

"As long as no new rule comes."

"Oh, you can call it a rule if you like. How bored are you right now?"

Reid's unexpected question made Morgan look up in confusion. "Not at all. Why would I be bored?"

"Because I was under the impression you were counting wooden panels behind me to distract yourself from the boring dance."

Morgan immediately grew noticeably hot. Did the boy have to notice everything, too - even if he then misinterpreted it?

"I ... I ...," Morgan stammered, simply not knowing what to answer.

"New exercise or rule: the partner is not left out of sight."

"Reid, I ... I can't do this," Morgan protested. Something was going completely wrong here. And he knew he couldn't bring himself to hold Reid in his arms while looking him in the eye. Immediately he saw again the scene of Reid with the Latino in his mind's eye. Would he never be able to forget that?

Peeking out from under half-closed lids, Morgan saw Reid eyeing him intently. Right now Spencer would ask for the reason for his strange behavior - and he would have no real answer.

"Okay, different exercise setup," Reid said suddenly, however. "Stand over there," he instructed Morgan, placing himself in the center of the hall again, but this time so that he had the mirror at his back. He himself faced him a good six feet away.

"You don't just lead with your body. You lead with everything you put on the floor. That includes your gaze and that includes your thoughts," he explained. "I want you to look at me, otherwise I have no lead. Do you understand that? Keep your arms down. We'll take the posture back to that sometime later. I want you to start dancing. I'm going to do the steps with you, just as if we were in dancing posture. If you don't really focus on me, I won't know when to start. And I want you to think about hip movement. I don't want you to watch yourself do it, so now you have the mirror in your back. It's just going to be overdone or too angular if you're trying to coordinate the movements based on the mirror. You start, we do five basic steps and then stop. Pause for a few bars and then start again, okay?"

Morgan nodded. Whether Reid suspected what was causing him problems or not, he was definitely accommodating him with this modified exercise.

Chapter Text

"Hola, Spencer. ¿Dónde has estado? Últimamente siempre llegas tarde[1]," Fernanda purred as Spencer joined his friends at the table - putting on an icy stare the next moment when she spotted Morgan behind him. "¿Qué hace ese tipo aquí otra vez? ¿No puedes deshacerte de tu nuevo perro faldero?"[2]

Spencer eyed her coldly from top to bottom and removed her fingers from his arm, which she promptly clutched. "Hola, Fernanda. Prefiero rodearme de amigos que de víboras celosas. Así que adiós, Fernanda"[3], he said to her as he did so.

Fernanda then glared angrily at him and, without another word, stalked away.

"Please tell me it's not my fault again that your dance partner is mad at you," begged Morgan, who, even without understanding the language, could interpret the scene to some extent.

"If you mean my former dance partner, then yes, she had a problem with you. That problem has been taken care of, she can look for another dance partner," Spencer explained without much ado.

"But aren't you ... aren't you guys ... together or something?" asked Morgan, oblivious to the fact that Spencer's friends could hear everything.

Reid stared at him, stunned. "Or something? Do you mean am I sleeping with her? God forbid, no! Fernanda is like a praying mantis: if you get into bed with her, you're as good as dead afterwards."

Sandra, standing diagonally behind Spencer, blurted out a loud laugh. "¿Realmente quería saber si te estabas tirando a Fernanda? ¿Y realmente te pregunta eso delante de todos? ¿Siempre es tan directo?"[4]

"Sí, puede ser bastante directo, especialmente cuando ha apagado su cerebro durante unos segundos"[5], Reid gave in reply, grinning.

"Could it be that you're having a pretty good time at my expense right now?" echoed Morgan. He was beginning to wonder if he should take Spanish lessons now, too, so he wouldn't always stand by like an idiot when jokes were made about him. Now if only Emily were around. Surely she could translate all this for him quickly.

"Sorry, I'm trying hard to stick to English. I'm just so used to speaking Spanish to people here," Spencer apologized. "And don't worry, Sandra just wanted to know if you were always this indiscreet. You can be sure she won't tell you any secrets, anyway."

"Secrets? What secrets?" asked Morgan, confused. Was Spencer referring to the dancing itself, or had he missed something here completely altogether.

"Maybe he means the secret of who he's going to dance with tonight," Sandra giggled as Spencer walked off without further explanation and just left Derek standing there.

"I really didn't want Spencer to fight with that Fernanda because of me," Morgan affirmed. But Sandra just shrugged. "If you hadn't been the reason, there would have been someone else sooner or later. Spencer doesn't like to commit, and Fernanda was so besieged by him that it was only a matter of time before he dumped her."

It was always interesting what he learned about Reid here. All right, he obviously hadn't been in the sack with Fernanda. But from the way Sandra talked about him, he wouldn't keep his hands off any lady, at least on the floor. And Morgan had already observed how a whole harem gathered around the boy.

"Does he find a new dance partner that easily?" inquired Derek to Sandra.

The question immediately made the girl laugh again. "I think you mean more like whether one of the many standing in line is good enough for him. But that's so nice about Spencer: he may have a few favorites, but he also dances with girls like me. Even if we're nowhere near his level."

Now that, in turn, Derek could imagine all too well. Spencer probably even went in search of wallflowers to redeem them from their lonely existence and bring them into the light of the dance floor for once. The boy was just very good-natured.

"So, now come on, this is our dance," Sandra suddenly demanded, reaching for Derek's hand.

"What, our dance?"

"Don't you hear? This is going to be a slow Cha Cha. I guarantee the next two will be, too. I'm sure Spencer has that covered so you can practice. Come on, show me what you've learned since the last time!"

---

"Get in line!" snapped Fernanda at him, gesturing with her thumb for him to pass her.

Confused, Derek looked at the line of women standing behind her. One Latina after another, one prettier than the other, and he couldn't even see the end of the line. What was the point of him standing in line?

Derek turned, and looked in the other direction. Up ahead, there was some kind of entry barrier to a dance floor, and between Fernanda and the barrier, there were about a dozen other women waiting their turn. Only for what?

"Why are you standing in line here?" inquired Derek of Fernanda.

"Don't play innocent with me. You know damn well it's about who's going to be Spencer's new dance partner. And just don't think I'm going to let you get ahead. He's mine. Mine alone!" hissed Fernanda. "So get to the back of the line. Or get the hell out of here right now. You don't stand a chance anyway, he sure doesn't want you."

"Excuse me?"

"Didn't you hear her?" a woman suddenly turned in front of Fernanda, "You don't stand a chance!"

And behind her, another shouted, "You don't stand a chance." And there were more and more women shouting at him, "You don't have a chance! You don't have a chance! You don't have a chance!"

Drenched in sweat, Morgan jolted up and looked around in confusion.

"Derek? Did something happen?" asked Savannah beside him sleepily.

"No, ... um ... sorry honey," Derek apologized, letting his head sink back into the pillow. "I was just dreaming. I didn't mean to wake you up. Try to go back to sleep."

Savannah mumbled something unintelligible, then turned her back to him and pulled the blanket over her shoulder.

What was that all about, Derek wondered. What a strange dream. He could understand if he was kind of dreaming about dancing, and also if he was dreaming about Spencer. After all, both were keeping him pretty busy at the moment. But in combination, it was more than upsetting. Why should he see himself as Reid's dance partner? Or at least as a candidate? What kind of nonsense was that?

But Morgan knew his dreams, mostly nightmares related to his youth or the BAU cases, too well to dismiss this new dream as completely meaningless. Most of the time, his dreams were trying to tell him that there was something to work through that he didn't recognize as a problem when awake, or else was repressing. Only Morgan didn't know what problem there should be in connection with Reid. Actually, everything was going like clockwork after all. Together with Reid, he was developing their friendship, he was learning to dance in the process, and in return, perhaps he could show Reid how to take the confidence he showed where he felt superior to where he had not been so confident before.

So there was no problem in sight.

Or was there one he didn't want to admit to himself?

Morgan pondered, for the dream would not give him peace. It had been far too vivid and exciting, so there was no way he could find his way back to sleep now.

Leaving aside the fact that legions of women longed to dance with Reid - which wasn't entirely far from reality - there was one more point in his dream that bothered him. It wasn't that he was being shouted at from all sides that he wasn't good enough. He was aware of that, and he had no problem with that. Rather, the odd thing was that he had been the only man to try to curry Spencer's favor. He would prefer to dismiss it as nonsensical that Reid would dance with a man at all. But there was the first night of practice at the club, where he had watched Reid with his lover in the small dance hall. If he now again assumed that men were also possible dance partners for Reid, then the dream again made no sense. Then why hadn't he seen other men there? First and foremost, Reid's lover?

Morgan bristled, by now really wide awake through his spinning thoughts. Was the problem perhaps that he was too concerned with Reid's love life right now?

Yes, of course, it was always interesting to know if and with whom colleagues were currently involved, especially when relationships were in the offing or still very fresh. But when it came to Reid, his curiosity - spurred on, of course, by what he had learned in recent weeks - seemed to go well beyond the usual level. And - what was almost a little embarrassing - Reid was probably aware of that, too. It was probably not for nothing that he had told Morgan to ask him if he was interested in something, and not to try to sound out his friends.

Should he perhaps really ask Reid directly? And if so, then what exactly, actually? Whether he was in a committed relationship with the Latino? How many of his dance partners he had slept with? Whether he was gay or bi?

And would Reid rip his head off if he asked, or would he actually answer his questions?

He guessed he would only find out if he actually asked him about it.

 

Translations:

[1] Hi Spencer, where have you been? You're always late lately.

[2] What's that guy doing here again? Can't you get rid of your new lapdog?

[3] Hello, Fernanda. I'd rather surround myself with friends than jealous vipers. So goodbye, Fernanda.

[4] Did he really want to know if you were fucking Fernanda? And he's really asking you that in front of everyone? Is he always that direct?

[5] Yes, he can be pretty direct, especially when he's just shut off his brain for a few seconds.

Chapter Text

"My sweetie, if you had been with me tonight, then I would know what was going on. But my bed was awfully empty without you. So tell me: what cost you your sleep?" assailed Garcia Morgan when she burst into his office the next day.

Derek looked up from his desk. Was there nothing to hide in this office? "What little birdie out there hasn't kept its beak shut now?" he wanted to know. The crazy dream last night had kept him awake forever. He felt it in all his bones this morning, and it was obvious to anyone who dared take a closer look. Actually, Morgan had thought he had snuck into his office relatively unnoticed, but at least one of his colleagues had probably been extremely alert.

"Emily said that you either partied hard with Savannah last night or had an incredible fight with her. That's the only way to explain you looking like that," Garcia replied. She tilted her head and eyed Derek intently. "You really haven't been sleeping well, have you?"

"Yeah," Morgan groaned, slumping back against the back of his chair. "But Savannah had nothing to do with it. Everything's going great with her."

"No little engagement party either?" asked Penelope.

Morgan's eyebrows moved upward. "Where did you get that idea? Is my wedding already being planned out there?"

Garcia shrugged as she dropped into the chair across from Morgan. "It wouldn't be completely out of the question, as long as you've been together with her."

"You're welcome to tell Reid and Rossi that I won't need a best man for the foreseeable future. And you girls certainly won't be bridesmaids in the next few months either," Morgan protested vehemently. "I don't plan on getting married anytime soon, and I hope no one gives Savannah that nonsensical idea."

Garcia looked a little confused, but then dropped the subject. "Then what is it that has kept you up?"

Morgan took a quick look to make sure his office door was really closed before answering. "Reid ... and a dream. I couldn't sleep half the night because of an absolutely idiotic dream."

"You want to tell me about it?"

Morgan hesitated for a moment, but then explained, "Maybe I should start with last night. I had another dance lesson with Reid. And ... and because of me, he broke up with his dance partner."

Morgan gave a rough account of the dance lesson and of meeting Spencer's dance partner, Fernanda, afterward. "I don't know exactly why they were fighting. I don't understand any of that Spanish. But I got the impression it was about me."

"And that's what kept you up half the night?" inquired Garcia, only to immediately continue, "But I can't imagine Reid just ditching someone over a little argument. That certainly wasn't your fault."

"That's what one of the girls there thought," Derek admitted. "And it wasn't that either, or not just that, which kept me up at night. I had this weird dream." He quickly told Penelope what he had dreamed. Thinking about it anew now, he wondered why the nonsense bothered him so much in the first place. Dreams were usually not logical and often not realistic.

"Whew," Garcia made, propping her arms up on his desk. "Tell me, Prince Charming, are you trying to tell me something through the grapevine here?"

"Um ... I'm just telling you what I dreamed here," Morgan returned, confused.

But Garcia somehow didn't quite seem to buy it. At least she put on an oddly questioning look.

Then she nodded. "If you really just want to tell me about the dream, then I understand why it kept you awake," she said, and Morgan didn't understand anything anymore. "What do you mean?"

"Chocolate cupcake, that's something you're going to have to come up with on your own. I can't help you there," Penelope replied. "You wouldn't want to hear it from me anyway." With that, she pushed back the chair and stood up.

"What's that supposed to mean?" inquired Morgan, somewhat gruffly. "You can't tell me something like that and then just leave me standing there. And what do you mean I wouldn't want to hear something from you? I always listen to you when you have something to say to me."

"Just take my word for it, Derek: you'll have to figure that out for yourself," Penelope threw over her shoulder at him, then disappeared from his office.

Derek stared after her in disbelief. So far, Penelope had always had advice ready for him when he had come to her with anything. The fact that she was holding back so much this time - and over something as mundane as this weird dream, at that - didn't sit well with her at all. And what the hell did she think he was trying to tell her through the grapevine?

Derek groaned and pulled one of the files lying on his desk towards him. It was time he got to work and forgot all about this nonsense. Eventually Garcia would come around and tell him what she had meant. And until then, he should stop worrying about it unnecessarily.

Chapter Text

"Hey, wildcat, didn't you work yourself out enough at the gym today," Derek laughed as he suddenly landed on his back - the bed groaning softly beneath him - and Savannah sat up over him. Finally, another night when they were both home early and still had some energy left, he thought to himself.

Savannah just grinned at him and then closed his mouth again with a kiss. Derek took the opportunity of her leaning over him and fumbled at her back for the clasp of her bra. He desperately needed to advise her sometime to get ones that opened in the front. Or even better, he would give her one or two nice lingerie sets with appropriate bras. Then he wouldn't have to argue at all long that he could free her from them much more efficiently.

"And you must be in a hurry," Savannah giggled as she left Derek's lips to completely get rid of the bra he'd slipped off her shoulders.

"No, not in a hurry. I just wanted to remove all obstacles," Derek growled. He pulled Savannah back down to him, playfully brushing a hand over one of her breasts. Savannah winced a little, and he felt the slight tremor not only on his hand, but also on his lap, where she had placed her ass directly over his cock. He would have to see that they both got rid of the remnants of their underwear as quickly as possible. Then the fun could really begin.

As Derek continued to kiss Savannah, his mouth moving back and forth between her lips and her neck, he slid a hand down her back to her ass. Once there, he continued to feel his way around, running his fingers between her butt cheeks and pushing her panties down as he did so.

"Where are you wandering?" whispered Savannah against his lips. "Are you getting adventurous today?"

"A little variety can't hurt, can it?" he whispered back, searching for her backdoor with his fingertips.

"Okay, but only if you can make me come first," Savannah agreed.

Derek knew exactly why she made that condition. The last two times he had fucked her pretty ass, he had come so fast that she hadn't gotten much out of it.

"I'm sure that can be arranged," he promised. "Now get those panties off before I rip them off you."

Instead of sliding off him and getting rid of the last piece of clothing, Savannah promptly stood over him with her legs slightly apart and then slid the panties down. "Do you like what you see?" she asked, swaying her hips back and forth provocatively.

"Oh yes, I do!" growled Derek, sitting up and pulling her closer to him. He kissed her flat stomach and then briefly played his tongue in her navel before pushing her legs further apart and moving his lips further down.

Savannah groaned and grabbed his head, pressing it even tighter against her. He knew she didn't stand a chance if he spoiled her with his mouth. Five minutes with his tongue between her legs and she would have her first orgasm. And then her ass would be his.

With his hands he embraced her ass and pulled her buttocks a little apart. After all, there was no reason not to make sure she was ready for him there at the same time. But at the moment when he was about to stroke her entrance with his fingertip, a beeping sound reached his ear.

This couldn't be true now!

"Derek?" Savannah's sounded confused as he pulled away from her, but then she too became aware of the beeping. "Your phone?"

Derek flopped back on the bed and, without looking, fished for the cell phone that was on his nightstand. "Yeah, it's Hotch," he commented with a groan when he saw the name on the display.

"I guess that's it for tonight," Savannah muttered richly disappointed as she dropped down on bed beside him while Derek took the call.

"Yeah, it's Morgan."

"It's Hotch, sorry to bother you so late," Hotch's voice immediately rang out on the other end. "But I need the whole team in the office right away. Rossi got a call from the kidnappers and Garcia was actually able to get an approximate location. We need to coordinate an operation."

"Okay, I'll get on it right away," Morgan replied. "Do the others know yet?"

"I've already briefed J.J. Can you call Reid and maybe collect him so he doesn't take half an eternity on the subway? I'll call Prentiss."

"Sure, I'll do that. We'll be there in half an hour."

With that, Morgan ended the call and let his head sink into the pillow again for a moment.

"I'm sorry," he murmured to Savannah. "A breakthrough in our case. It can't wait now. But we'll catch up as soon as I get back."

Savannah nodded. "Don't worry about it and go save lives." She slid out of bed, pulled on a teasing nightgown, then searched the shelf for a book. "I need something to calm down," she explained in response to Morgan's questioning look. "Otherwise, I won't be able to fall asleep for ages."

Morgan stood up and pulled a fresh shirt from the closet. Reid he would call from the car, then he could get out of the house faster now. And when it was all over he really had to think of something to please Savannah with.

---

The briefing in the office was short and to the point. The fake assignment to the kidnappers had been so tempting that they had actually called Rossi a little over an hour ago to negotiate the details. And Rossi had managed, on the one hand, to credibly get across that he was looking for a good dozen women for a highly exclusive establishment, and on the other hand, to keep his unknown call partneron the line long enough for Garcia to narrow down the location to the point where they could now hope to catch the criminals soon. In consultation with the Arlington Police Department, with whom Hotch had immediately contacted, the FBI was to take charge of the operation.

Just twenty minutes after the team had assembled in the office, they were off. Reid, who still seemed rather sleepy because Morgan's call had jolted him out of the middle of his first rem period, as he had explained to him, was in the car with Emily and Derek, but this time in the back seat. Garcia hadn't been able to determine an exact location; the phone call hadn't been long enough for that. But the kidnappers had to be in an area on the outskirts of town that had an approximate diameter of five kilometers. It was now up to Reid to figure out where the gang's hideout was likely to be, based on the building structure of the houses and road connections scattered there.

Morgan hoped the boy in the back seat didn't feel sick as he alternated between maps and laptop. But Reid himself had said it would be wasted time to wait for his geographic analysis before they left - or even to drive to Arlington first and then wait there until he could tell them the most likely targets. And the third option, leaving Reid at Quantico while the rest of the team headed out, was one no one wanted to take. After all, how quickly could it come to pass that they would need him on the ground just for a reanalysis of the situation.

"You all right back there?" inquired Morgan, glancing in the rearview mirror as Reid cursed for the second time in a row.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," the boy muttered without looking up. "Can you maybe stop the overtaking for a bit? My map keeps slipping off my lap with all this rocking."

Prentiss couldn't help laughing. "That's because you always need all that paper. Why can't you just use Google Maps or something like that?"

Morgan could only agree. "We've got a mission ahead of us, kid, so I can't just chug along behind every truck forever. Be glad I'm at least trying to avoid all the potholes."

In the rearview mirror, Morgan caught Reid's gaze, grinning, as he promptly failed to avoid another pothole with full intent, and Spencer's laptop nearly slid off the seat during the hop.

"Careful, or I'll make you pay for that the next chance I get," Spencer muttered with a venomous glare." But Morgan couldn't help but grin even wider.

"And when is that supposed to be?" inquired Emily with a laugh. "Are you planning on unleashing the next string of pranks? Then let me know beforehand, so this time I'll be standing there with my cell phone, recording it all for posterity."

"Oh no, my revenge will be terrible, but very private," Reid announced. And at that, a grin suddenly spread across his face that made the pit of Morgan's stomach feel queasy. What was this kid up to now? He thought he could almost hear Reid whispering: "Collar, shoeshine, bondage." What other torture methods could he think of?

At that moment, Emily snorted loudly. "Morgan, you're not going to let Reid put you through that!"

"Certainly not," Derek replied shortly.

"Well, your face says otherwise," Prentiss chuckled. "And, after all, we'll find out shortly how much Reid scares you. If we don't hit another pothole, you must be pretty panicked about him."

Now Morgan was trapped. How had he gotten himself into this? If he drove properly now so as not to upset Reid, he'd look like a coward in front of Prentiss - and she'd promptly broadcast it around the team. And if he took aim at the next pothole, he could already brace himself for Reid to torment him terribly next Friday. The little genius could really be extremely creative in that regard.

Cowardice or torment, that was the question now - and Morgan's ego allowed only one.

"Damn it!" cursed Reid loudly as he sailed his fingers all over the laptop's keyboard because Morgan had steered the car into the nearest pothole. "That was on purpose! You are so going to pay for that!"

Prentiss snorted, "At least Morgan can't be accused of being afraid of you."

"That's going to change," Reid threatened.

"Be merciful and remember that I may still be needed," Morgan pleaded with a smirk - secretly hoping that Reid really would show mercy.

Chapter Text

Although it was still the middle of the night, the team was completely awake. Shortly after midnight, everyone had arrived at the Arlington Police Department, and there was an initial briefing with the police officers there. Reid had identified a total of five houses in the area Garcia had narrowed down, where the kidnappers might have been holed up. According to the location of the buildings and their connection to streets leading into Arlington Heights, he had prioritized them. It had taken another hour or so for the necessary task forces to be assembled and equipment to be ready. In particular, this included listening devices and a thermal imaging camera.

"We can't just bust into the buildings," Hotch explained during the final briefing at the precinct. "On the one hand, there could be perfectly innocent people living there, and on the other hand, we can't put hostages in danger should the kidnappers be present. Therefore, the technical unit will first try to find out whether and how many people are in the building and where, and whether they are asleep or awake. If the suspicion is confirmed that we have found the right building, we will have to infiltrate someone there. We'll send someone ahead pretending to have car trouble and asking for help."

"I can do that," Prentiss volunteered immediately. "A woman seems harmless. I'm sure they'll let me in."

But Hotch shook his head. "You seem way too tough. And I want to send someone in who can talk his way out of the situation if necessary. With a woman, that would be difficult, in case she might be a match for one who's still on their 'order list'." Hotch looked around briefly, although everyone was aware that he had probably already decided who would take on that role. After his explanation, J.J. and Morgan were also eliminated. So was he himself - what's more, he would definitely want to run the operation from the outside.

Morgan had an inkling of what was to come when Hotch's gaze passed over Rossi and stuck with Reid. "Reid, you take over. We'll get you a car with local plates. It'll be prepared in such a way that the breakdown will definitely seem plausible, should anyone bother to take a quick look at the car."

"Me? But shouldn't I ... I don't know ... check the next places ... or ...?" stammered Reid. For Morgan it was clear: This mission didn't fit into Spencer's comfort zone at all.

"You'll be fine, kid," he tried to encourage him, adding with a wink, "And at least you can be sure you don't fit their prey pattern."

A couple of the cops present laughed, but Reid put on a face like he was being led straight to the scaffold. "You'll be wired so we know what's going on in there," Hotch explained. "And you'll get a signal word that we'll storm on if things get dicey. Now, let's get to work folks. We're moving out in 20 minutes."

---

"You can do this," Morgan assured Reid again as he helped him hide the wiring of the small microphone under his shirt. "You know what makes these people tick. They're just in it for the money. The level of violence should be low. They don't seem to be done here yet, so they're going to do everything they can not to get busted. And they have no idea we're on to them."

Morgan spun Reid around to face him. "Just be yourself, the shy you, and nothing bad can happen. You try looking around the house a little bit. You're going to have someone call you a cab. It'll be about twenty minutes before we send the car to the front door. If everything goes smoothly by then, you just come out, get in the cab, and then report back to us what you saw. Got it?"

Reid nodded. "I'm not stupid. I memorized the plan the first time. But what if they somehow realize something is wrong? What if they knock me out right away so I can't sound the alarm at all?"

Morgan shook his head. "Hey kid, I'm sitting out here listening to everything that's going on. And the minute there's the slightest danger, I'm going to rush in there and get you out. Okay? And if we go in while you're in there, you come straight to me. I'm your cover. Got it?"

Reid nodded again as he removed his pistol holster and thrust it into Morgan's hand. "I still feel weird without my gun."

"Hotch knows why he sent you," Morgan replied as he opened the van door and waved Reid out. "Those guys in there don't know that behind your harmless facade is a mind more dangerous than any gun."

That finally elicited a small smile from Reid. Morgan slapped him amicably on the shoulder before pushing him in the direction of the old Ford Taunus they had found as a cover for the breakdown. A mechanic would drive Reid to just outside the suspicious house, manipulate the car appropriately there, and then leave immediately. Derek didn't think the kidnappers would check the car at night, but that way they were covered just in case. A little nervously, he watched as Reid got into the car and then drove off. The police force would split up: One group would stay here with the cars and - should someone escape from the house - immediately take up the pursuit. The rest now advanced around the house on foot, together with the BAU team.

"Cross your fingers for me," Morgan heard in his ear. Morgan could not give an answer, for a listening device, however small, might have attracted attention. Reid appeared to be on his way to the suspicious house. The previous listening sweep of the building had yielded nothing; the thermal imaging camera scan had shown that there were several people in the house, probably eight, two of whom kept moving, so they were awake.

Morgan took up position behind a hedge and watched from there as Spencer stood at the door of the house. He had just rung the bell, now they all had to hope he would be answered.

"What do you want?" a man's voice inquired as the door opened.

"I'm so sorry to bother you," Reid muttered. "It's just ... well I ... I need help. My car ... it's back there ... the engine ... it just won't start."

Morgan wasn't sure if the nervousness and uncertainty he heard in Reid's voice was genuine or feigned. It certainly seemed very genuine.

"So what do you want from me now? I'm not a mechanic," the man growled. And apparently he seemed to want to slam the door in Reid's face, because Reid immediately shouted, "No, please wait. I ... oh man, ... I'm having a terrible day. First my girlfriend, then the cell phone, and now the car. Please ... please don't leave me standing here. Can't you at least ... well maybe call me a cab?"

Morgan could only hear a soft rustle and it took a few seconds for the man to inquire of Reid, "What's all this about your girlfriend and the cell phone?"

Morgan snorted softly. This couldn't be happening. There was the guy standing under the front door in the middle of the night asking Reid about his girlfriend instead of inviting him inside and calling the damn cab.

"You ... oh man, this is so upsetting. I ... when I went to her place this morning after my night shift ... I caught her ... with ..."

"Well what? The janitor or your best friend?" the man growled impatiently.

"With ... with ... her best female friend," Reid muttered rather meekly.

The man burst out laughing. "Oh man, I would have liked to have seen that. Why didn't you join in right away. There's nothing wrong with a threesome."

Now Reid actually sniffled a little. "You don't know her girlfriend. Bouncer, muscle packed. She actually threw me out."

Again the man laughed out loud. "You got it really bad, man. Come on in. I can't have a heap of misery like that standing on my doorstep."

Morgan breathed a sigh of relief. Reid had really done it. He didn't know what had driven him to invent this abstruse fairy tale, but apparently he had literally found a door opener with it. The glow of light at the house disappeared as the door closed behind Spencer.

"Who's that, Mike?" another voice suddenly inquired in Morgan's ear. "Who are you letting into the house in the middle of the night? The voice was steely, the command tone immediately audible.

"Cool it, Steven. The poor sap's car broke down. He just wants to call a cab for a minute so he can get home."

"Um ... hi ... I'm Spencer. The phone would be very kind," Reid explained.

"Here in the living room," said the man, whose name was obviously Mike.

"Steven, guess what, Spencer here got cuckolded by his girlfriend - with another woman. And she threw him out flat. Always these fucking broads. When you're not fucking them, they're nothing but trouble."

"Shut up, Mike. And you, Mr. Spencer, hurry the fuck up. We're not a sanctuary for cuckolded lovers here."

"Hello? I'd like a cab to ... oh excuse me, one moment please ... um ... Mr. ... what street is this?"

Morgan had to say that Reid played his role really well. Hotch couldn't have chosen a more suitable candidate.

"18 Marlboro Lane," came the reply.

"Listen, miss, a cab to 18 Marlboro Lane, please. Yes, right now. How long? Okay, thank you. ... The cab should be there in about 20 minutes."

"Mike, Steven said we have a guest," another voice suddenly sounded with some distance. "Shit! What did you get us in the house?"

"Why?" asked Mike, confused.

"Help! Please, what are you doing?", Spencer's voice sounded at the same time, a good octave higher than before. "Why are you pointing a gun at me?"

Morgan cursed. What had happened there?

Immediately Morgan signaled Hotch that something was wrong in the house. The latter immediately gave the signal to advance slowly.

"You must be mistaken," Spencer insisted, and Morgan was annoyed that he had obviously missed something just then. He could only hope that Reid hadn't given the signal to storm yet. "I don't go to university. I'm working the night shift as a gas station attendant."

"Mike, I definitely saw that guy. There was another one there. A black guy. And he had a badge. He belongs to the police for sure."

Damn it, Morgan cursed inwardly. Who could have guessed that they had been watched at the university when they had questioned the female students.

"So what are we supposed to do now?" asked Mike.

"Get Steven, he'll know what to do. And you, you sit there. And if you so much as move a finger, I'll shoot you."

"But I didn't do anything, I'm innocent," Reid whined.

Innocent! Morgan signaled to Hotch. That was the signal to charge in.

With quick steps, the police force ran toward the house, Hotch, Morgan and Rossi immediately in the front line.

Morgan crouched against the side of the window, which he suspected belonged to the living room into which Reid had been led. The moment the policemen at the door readied the ram, he took a quick look inside. A burly man had his pistol pointed at Reid and was not taking his eyes off him. Reid sat on the front edge of a chair, no cover in sight for miles. Any second, the door would be forced open, and then Reid would either be a victim or a hostage. Morgan braced himself.

Loud crashing from the door told him his colleagues had broken it down. The guy in the living room whirled toward the room's door, gun still half pointed at Spencer, however. "Mike, Steven," he yelled as he took a step toward Reid. His colleagues would be unlikely to be able to help him. They'd run right into the muzzle of Hotch and the others. And the thought seemed to have occurred to the guy now, because he turned back to Reid.

Morgan lashed out and struck the window glass hard with his elbow; the glass immediately gave way and shattered. "Gun down, now!" he yelled as he aimed at the guy from the cover of the window frame. While the latter, dumbfounded, pointed his gun at Morgan, Reid reacted. He grabbed a book lying on the table and hit the guy on the fingers with it so hard that he dropped the gun. Morgan immediately took the opportunity to climb into the room through the window while threatening, "Lay down or I'll shoot."

Spencer dropped the book and immediately got himself out of the suspect's reach. "Get behind me, Reid," Morgan commanded as he continued to hold the man at bay. "And you put your hands up and place them on the back of your head."

The man hesitated briefly; Morgan could see he was calculating through whether he had a chance to reach his weapon before Morgan caught him. But then he obeyed the command and slowly put his arms up.

"Reid, take my handcuffs and put them on him."

Spencer didn't need to be told twice.

---

An hour later, the team found themselves at the Arlington Police Department. Four suspects had been arrested and four women, including Sally Foster, had been freed. At the moment, there was no trace of the other women.

"I wonder if there's any way we can find them?" asked J.J. to the group, passing out coffee, which they all needed after the all-nighter. The team had gathered in the briefing room for a short break.

"We're going to question the kidnappers at length now. If even one of them is reasonably intelligent, he'll try to broker a deal. And that's where the buyers of the women are a good bargaining chip," Rossi explained. "And Garcia gets the two computers we found. They were probably used for the communication with the customers. And there must be leads we can follow," Hotch added.

Morgan looked over at Reid, who was staring into his coffee cup, lost in thought. "Hey, kid, you did great, by the way."

Spencer looked up briefly and just snorted. "Pretty swell that I let them checkmate me so badly that you had to save me."

"Well, it wasn't your fault, was it? There was no way anyone could have known they'd already noticed us."

Hotch nodded. "Morgan's right. If it hadn't been for that stupid coincidence, I'm sure you could have spied on the house just fine."

"That Mike guy who let you in, you definitely had him dead to rights. Nice fairy tale you told the guy, by the way. He totally bought it," Morgan grinned. But surprisingly, Reid just looked at him in confusion. "What fairy tale?"

"Well, the one about you surprising your girlfriend in bed with her female lover," Morgan returned, realizing that he had immediately drawn the attention of the whole team to himself and Reid.

Reid, however, still said nothing. No, rather he stared at him out of big round eyes and ... was Reid blushing now?

"No ... no," Morgan said, shaking his head. "You're not ... you're not seriously going to tell me now that this really happened to you?"

Reid ducked his head.

"Oh my God. Reid, when was this? And why didn't you tell me?"

"Yes, Morgan, very clever question," Emily blurted out. "Why do you think Reid won't tell us something like that?"

But Morgan didn't respond to her at all. He couldn't believe that Reid would reveal something about his love life in a situation like this, of all things. And then such an unbelievable story, too. "Did she really throw you out? Man, that ... I'm so sorry."

"Morgan, just leave him alone," J.J. demanded, "Can’t you see that he doesn't want to talk about it?"

But Morgan couldn't just let it go, especially when Reid now seemed so crestfallen.

"Hey, kid. Let me tell you, a woman who pulls something like that on you, she definitely doesn't deserve you. You don't have to shed a single tear for her," he tried to comfort Reid. "Just forget about her. She's not worth you wasting a single thought on her.”

Reid slowly raised his head and then smiled a little wryly at Morgan's face. "That might be a little difficult with my eidetic memory. However, it comes with the great advantage that I also won't forget that you've just been on my case as much as this guy." A big grin spread across Reid's face as he saw Morgan's stunned expression and heard the others at the table laugh out loud.

Chapter Text

"Why should I come here so early today?" inquired Morgan as Reid approached him. Morgan had just been thinking about calling Spencer, because the back entrance to the club was locked this time. But it was also just 6 p.m. - far too early for any of the employees to be there yet.

Reid pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked the door. At some point, Morgan figured, he'd really have to grill the boy about what exactly his connections to the club were. "Do you have any plans later?", Morgan probed further.

"Yeah, dancing, as usual. But that's not why you're here early today." Spencer turned to Morgan as he held the door open for him. "I guess you're a little too cocky right now. And you're going to work off that cockiness on the floor today."

Morgan groaned, which elicited a small smile from Spencer. So the kid hadn't forgotten that he was still going to punish him for that little drive through the pothole on their way to Arlington.

Reid locked the door again before shooing Morgan up the stairs. "You have two wonderful hours ahead of you. So use them well so something sticks." And what might have sounded like a positive outlook to others, clearly felt like a threat to Morgan.

The small dance hall was still dark this time when they entered it; not a sound could be heard throughout the building. While Reid turned on the lights, Derek shed his leather jacket and then slowly strode onto the dance floor. It was hard to believe that he was already starting to feel at home here - on a floor that he hadn't wanted to step on at all just a few weeks ago.

Curious, Derek watched as Spencer fished out some CDs from a shelf he hadn't really paid attention to yet and placed them next to the stereo. Somehow Spencer looked a little different today. Contrary to his habit of tying his hair up here at the club, it fell open on his shoulders today, which made him look younger. Also, he wasn't wearing one of his loose shirts today. On the contrary, the dark red shirt was extremely tight and traced the muscles in his upper body and arms. Tight as ever were the black pants he wore. Overall, they made Reid look even slimmer than usual, almost fragile.

"If you're done staring at me, we could actually start now," Spencer suddenly snapped him out of his thoughts.

Why did the boy have to rub off on him like that, Derek promptly thought to himself as he felt heat rising in his head. Just as well Spencer wouldn't be able to see the slight blush.

"I just had to admire your shirt," Derek tried to talk his way out of the somewhat awkward situation. "It's my favorite color, after all. However, I can only advise you not to wear something like that to the office while your gaggle of geese is still there. Otherwise, you probably won't be able to avoid them at all."

Touché, Morgan cheered inwardly as he saw that Reid, for his part, was now getting a little more color in his face. "Let's get started," the boy promptly changed the subject. "Do you remember the two most important points of the last lesson?"

Morgan nodded, "Posture and hips."

"Correct. That's where we're going back to today. And to help you focus extra on both, we'll have a new dance today: the rumba."

"I thought you weren't going to teach me any new steps until I had mastered the cha cha to your satisfaction."

"The basic step of the rumba is very similar to the cha cha, but much slower. You can benefit from bringing that one into play now," Spencer simply passed over Derek's comment. "Watch closely and learn."

Spencer set up in the middle of the dance floor and demonstrated the basic step.

The step doesn't look that complicated, Morgan thought to himself as he followed Reid's feet with his eyes. But then, when he looked up and considered Reid's overall movements, he had to gulp. Not because of the movements themselves, but because of the feeling they conveyed: This was pure sensuality. While Reid's upper body hardly seemed to move, any movement, possibly even that of his feet, came from his hips. These he swung from side to side slowly and rhythmically in a beat that only he could hear. But the thing that really took Morgan's breath away then was Spencer's gaze, which held him riveted as soon as he first looked him in the eye.

That must be what Reid meant when he talked about being able to lead with his gaze. Derek didn't want to take his eyes off Spencer and had the impression that his eyes were transmitting to him the rhythm of the song that was going on only in his head. He almost felt that his hips were already automatically wanting to follow Spencer's movements. Morgan felt like the rabbit in front of the snake, hypnotizing its prey with its gaze and rendering it will-less.

Morgan had the impression he had to somehow regain consciousness first when Reid finished the steps and then eyed him scrutinizingly. "You okay?"

Moran cleared his throat. "Yes, ... yes, I ... um ... I think I've grasped how this works ... and what this is about," he returned.

"All right, I'm going to play you a song. Focus on the rhythm. And after that, there's dry practice in front of the mirror again. Just like you already know: You repeat the basic step until I tell you that you can stop. I'll tell you what to improve."

Reid started the song. A shiver ran down Morgan's body as he immediately deduced from the first lines of lyrics that it was about a pair of lovers longing for a night together. It fit the dance, but at the same time made him kind of nervous. Morgan tried to push the lyrics out of his mind and focus solely on the rhythm - yet somehow the two seemed almost inseparable.

He almost breathed a sigh of relief when the song finally ended.

Reid made room for Morgan on the dance floor and stood behind him at a slight angle so he could watch him both from behind and in the mirror from the front. Derek felt a slight flutter in his chest as he realized that it was now up to him to copy those sensual moves from Spencer, and that he would be watching him closely.

"Recall the song and then go," Reid instructed him. Morgan hesitated for a moment, then closed his eyes. He had a feeling he was supposed to feel this dance more than see it.

The first steps were shaky, he felt it immediately. He had no idea how to move his hips. And moving them in any way, that completely threw him off.

Reid didn't say a word, but Morgan could feel his gaze on him.

Feet first, Morgan then reasoned, trying to focus only on the steps. That was working much better. After a few steps, which Reid still didn't comment on, Derek remembered not to make the slow step in the middle too big. Reid would otherwise surely put shackles on him again right away. Only when he felt he had gotten it all in line did Morgan open his eyes again. In the mirror, he was immediately met by Spencer's gaze.

"Not bad," Reid said after a few more steps. "I'm going to give you some music to go with it. Try to get into the rhythm. And then think about your hips. Right now, you've still got a stick up your butt."

"It almost sounds like you're halfway satisfied with me already," Derek said with a smile as Reid turned on the stereo. "I am, actually. But don't let that go to your head. You still have a long way to go," Spencer tossed over his shoulder. "Now get going. I'd like to finally see you move your hips, too."

Getting into the music actually became easier each time, but the hip movements, Morgan quickly discovered, were extremely challenging. At first, he saw nothing at all in the mirror of the movements he thought he was performing. As he focused even more on his hips, he forgot that he was still supposed to be taking coordinated steps. And whenever he matched steps with a visible hip movement, he had the impression of seeing a boisterous belly dancer in front of him, somehow moving everything he could.

Reid again kept astonishingly quiet and didn't say a word until the song faded out. "Are you going to punish me by not helping me at all?" inquired Morgan in frustration as Reid fiddled with the stereo after the song ended instead of telling him how to make his cramped movements into something that looked remotely like dancing.

"You're doing just fine," Reid returned without looking at Morgan. "You've identified the goal of the exercise, you're trying out solutions and discarding them when you realize they're not on target. And you know exactly what's not working yet."

"But I don't know how to change that," Derek growled indignantly, walking over to Reid. Somewhat annoyed, he grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around to face him. "If you don't feel like teaching me anymore, just tell me now. Then we can both save ourselves the time."

But Reid gave him no answer, he only looked him questioningly in the eye. And Morgan sparkled back angrily. He didn't even know why he was suddenly so angry, only that it seemed to him as if Reid would suddenly drop him because of a little joke he had allowed himself. And that was anything but fair.

"So it is possible," Reid said as he shook Morgan's hand off his shoulder all at once. Morgan hadn't even realized he was still holding Reid.

"What's possible?" inquired Morgan, both pissed and confused at the same time.

Reid stepped onto the dance floor and beckoned Morgan over, "Touch and eye contact at the same time."

The anger in Morgan gave way to even more confusion as he stepped up to Spencer. "What do you mean?"

A small smile showed on Spencer's lips. "Remember our last lesson? I had told you how important eye contact was. But you couldn't bring yourself to dance with me while looking me in the eye. I'd say we should try that again now."

Immediately, the strange sinking feeling in the pit of Morgan's stomach made itself known again. The boy had tricked him and lured him into a trap. And Morgan didn't know how to get out of it other than outright denial.

"I ... I can't do this," he muttered.

But Spencer shook his head. "Don't say that if you don't want me to ask why."

Morgan swallowed. He didn't want to have to explain anything to Reid. He couldn't. He couldn't even explain it to himself.

"Go on," Reid demanded, probably sure he wasn't going to get an explanation. "You have rumba and cha cha to learn. And Sandra won't be willing to dance with a stiff as a board dancer for too much longer," he tried to move the situation back to safe territory at the same time.

Morgan really had to force himself to step up to Reid. He didn't understand himself. It wouldn't be as if he never touched Reid - quite the opposite. A pat on the back here, a hug there, yes, he had even thrown Reid to the ground a few times to keep him safe from gunfire. And last but not least, he had helped him with the micro wiring two days ago, with Spencer standing bare-chested in front of him as he taped the cable to him. None of that had ever been a problem. And now? What also pissed him off the most was that Reid seemed to think he knew what was causing the problem.

"We'll start with rumba. The steps are slower, you can focus more on your movements," Reid explained when Morgan finally faced him directly. "We're going to take dance postures. Remember the proper placement of your hand on my back and angling your elbow to the left." The instructions came totally matter-of-factly, and Morgan tried to focus on them and not look Reid in the eye, at least for the moment. "Small steps, like you just did. Eye contact. And then add the hip movement. Think of it as wanting to move, but not shaking me in the process. I have to feel something stir, but subtly, subliminally."

Morgan suppressed a groan. He wasn't sure Reid realized what he was saying. But if he kept it up, something would surely stir. And it would hardly be as subtle as the boy wished.

But Reid didn't seem to notice any of that. He turned on the music and then looked at Morgan promptly.

Derek took a deep breath. At least Reid wasn't demanding that he get all touchy-feely with him, too.

Derek reached for Reid's hand, placed his other against his back, feeling with his thumb premeditatedly to see if it came to rest under his shoulder blade. Then he counted off two beats in his head before starting the steps. Reid went right along.

Three or four basic steps passed as Morgan felt his way into the dance, but then he was snapped out of his concentration by Reid. "Eye contact!" the boy demanded gently but firmly. "I'm not dancing with anyone who is bored because of me."

Boredom was the last thing on Morgan's mind right now. He searched for the tip of Reid's nose with his gaze. Maybe the boy didn't realize he wasn't aiming directly for his eyes.

But one basic step later, Reid let go of his hand and stepped back from his dancing posture. "Find someone else. It doesn't seem to work with me," he declared as he turned and left the dance floor.

Morgan groaned, completely torn inside. He didn't want this weird closeness. But he also definitely didn't want anyone else teaching him how to dance.

"Wait!" he asked Spencer, as he was already reaching for his jacket. "I don't want another dance teacher. But ... you ... you have to give me time."

"What do you want time for?" asked Reid as he slipped into his jacket, not looking at Morgan.

Time to understand what's got me so rattled, Morgan told himself. But he couldn't admit that to Reid. Silently, Morgan stood there, searching for the right words to get Spencer to stay.

As Reid reached for the first switch to gradually turn off the lights in the hall, he paused briefly. "I'll give you until tomorrow night. 7 p.m. here. If you don't show up, or if you can't bring yourself to look at me again, then it's over for good. And I mean that with the best interests of you in mind, because then I can't teach you anything. Now go!" With that, Reid flicked off the lights in turn.

Morgan grabbed his things and left the room before the last lamp was out.

Chapter Text

Savannah squealed as Morgan tossed her onto the bed. "Didn't you get a good workout in today? Were there too few poor aspirants for you to finish off?" his girlfriend inquired with a laugh as she watched from the bed as he quickly shed his clothes. "And now you're taking it out on me poor creature?"

"You poor creature just swung your tempting ass back and forth in front of me for half an hour," Derek growled, not taking his eyes off Savannah. "Now I want to have some fun with it."

And he needed a distraction. He'd driven home completely confused and frustrated, surprising Savannah in the middle of her yoga workout. While watching from the couch as she did her exercises, he had tried to sort out his thoughts. This new Spencer was messing with his head so much, he was soon losing his mind over it. And why couldn't he just drop all this nonsense about dance lessons? He had already uncovered part of the mystery that had interested him, after all. And maybe he should just be content with that. For the sake of his own nerves, he should end the matter now.

But he could not bring himself to do it.

When he thought now about how Reid had moved and how close they kept getting, it somehow made his blood boil.

It had to be because he hadn't had sex with Savannah in several days. After the interruption the other night, somehow neither of them had shown any real interest. That would change now.

So it had come to pass that he had jumped up, grabbed Savannah and unceremoniously carried her into the bedroom.

"Come on, get undressed!" he demanded with a dark glint in his eye. "I think, we've got some catching up to do."

But Savannah was merely lolling comfortably on the bed. "If you want me naked, you're going to have to take care of it yourself."

Morgan didn't need to be told twice. Today he had no patience for little games. He stripped himself of his clothes and then reached for Savannah's legs. With a strong tug, he pulled her to the end of the bed so that her butt was just resting on top. He lowered her legs, grabbed the tight-fitting leggings and pulled them off her body along with the lace panties underneath. Involuntarily she tried to close her legs, but he wouldn't let her. He got down on his knees between her legs, put one hand on her stomach so she couldn't sit up, and stroked her between her legs with the other.

"Does the deal from last time still apply?" inquired Derek in a rough voice.

"Yes, yes, yes," Savannah yipped. The excitement in her voice and her rapid breathing told him that Savannah's arousal was also increasing with each passing second.

Derek didn't waste another minute: with both hands, he spread Savannah's legs even wider, then kissed her hot center.

Savannah let out a pointed cry as he immediately began to play his tongue around her and penetrate her with it.

A litany of "Oh," "Yes," and "Derek" kept interrupting her moans as he lavished her with his lips and tongue. With his hands, he stroked along her legs, caressed the inside of her thighs, and moved to her bottom, which he first gently kneaded.

When he felt a tremor in Savannah's legs, he knew she was about to climax. He pressed his face even closer between her legs and thrust his tongue into her as far as he could. With a cry, Savannah reared up under him as her orgasm rolled over her.

Derek let his lips slide over her a little longer until he realized that the trembling in Savannah was subsiding and her limbs were slowly going limp. He couldn't wait any longer. Now he would get what he craved.

Derek got up and retrieved the lube from the nightstand drawer. Then he arranged his comfortably purring girlfriend, who was like pudding in his arms, on the bed. He turned her onto her stomach and gave her a little back rub as she closed her eyes and buried her head in her pillow. Then he worked his way down to her butt. She really had a damn nice ass, small, firm and well-rounded. Just right for his hands.

Derek caressed Savannah's butt cheeks and then placed little kisses on them. Seductive, Derek thought to himself, and surprised Savannah with a little bite. She winced and groaned. Let's see if he could get her going again.

Gently Derek pushed her buttocks apart. There lay his target. The small, rosy muscle seemed to twitch under his gaze.

Derek reached for the lube, coated his fingers with it, and let a generous amount drip into Savannah's butt crack. She shuddered under him as he followed the lube with his fingers, letting them travel over her hole again and again. Finally, he gently pressed against it with a fingertip until the muscle gave way and he could penetrate a bit. From that moment on, Derek almost couldn't be patient. He longed for the tight heat. First he slid into her further and further with one finger and, as the resistance slowly eased, added a second. He let it slide in and pulled back, again and again, until he felt she was relaxed enough. Then he spread his fingers a little, widening them until he could push a third finger into her.

A continuous low moan indicated to him that Savannah found his play quite arousing as well.

That would have to be enough. Derek withdrew his fingers from Savannah and took the lube again. Generously, he rubbed it on his stiff cock, which he had pretty much neglected so far. It twitched in his hand and Derek knew he didn't need much to come.

Derek pulled Savannah's legs even further apart and then pulled her up onto her knees that she perfectly presented her ass to him. Derek's cock pulsed as he drove the tip between Savannah's buttocks. Using his fingers, he pulled her cheeks apart a little, placed his cock at her hole, and then penetrated her deeply with a slow thrust.

Savannah's groan beneath him turned into a small cry at the end as he pushed all the way into her, pulled back, and immediately thrust into her again.

Only then did he pause for a few seconds, letting her get used to the unfamiliar sensation. Her body held him tightly and he had the impression of feeling each of her breaths and each of her heartbeats directly against his cock. And that drove him on.

He pulled back, gripped her hips tightly and thrust into her. Again and again, faster and faster.

As if from far away, Derek was aware of Savannah's little cries as he focused completely on his own pleasure. His thrusts became harder and harder. With one hand he reached forward and stroked her folds. A tremor ran through her entire body, causing his cock to quiver inside her as well. He continued to stroke her, moving his fingers faster, and then finally penetrated her with two fingers in front as he thrust his cock deep inside her at the same time. A new orgasm rolled over Savannah and also swept Derek away as she tightened around his cock. With a few more thrusts, he poured himself deep inside her.

---

"Why can't you keep eye contact? You have to keep eye contact. Otherwise, it's about to end!"

Derek looked to the head of the bed, and could read in Spencer's disapproving look that he was once again not at all living up to his expectations.

"But I'm looking at you!" he protested, staring demonstratively into Spencer's eyes.

"You're not supposed to look me in the eye, you're supposed to look your partner in the eye," Spencer demanded, shaking his head and pointing at the body in front of Derek, which the latter hadn't really noticed yet.

Derek let his eyes roam over the butt that was seductively presented to him. Savannah was kneeling in front of him on the bed, her hands spreading her buttocks. She was ready for him - and he for her. The tip of his hard cock was already wet all over, just as wet as the little rosette that was literally beckoning him.

Derek set his cock at her hole and penetrated Savannah with one fierce thrust.

"Eye contact! How many times do you want me to tell you?" came Spencer's demanding voice again from the head of the bed.

Okay, if the boy was only going to let him get to it if he looked Savannah in the eye while he did it, then he was going to get his way.

Derek pulled his cock out of Savannah, grabbed her by the hips and flipped her over onto her back.

A scream escaped Derek as he suddenly looked straight into Spencer's face.

---

Gasping, Derek shot up from the bed. "No, no, no," he repeated like a mantra before he noticed Savannah, who was lying in bed next to him, begin to stir. Quickly, Derek slipped out of bed and plodded into the bathroom. His heart was beating up to his throat and a glance down at himself showed him that the dream had also breathed new life into his cock.

That could not be true. He didn’t need that right now. He was happy with Savannah. Spencer shouldn’t appear like that in his erotic dreams.

Derek bent over the sink and ran cold water over his face. His heart was still pounding and his arousal just wouldn't subside. He couldn't go back to bed like this. For a moment, Morgan considered slipping into his clothes and jogging a few laps around the house to cool off. But he realized that if he did that, as amped up as he would be afterward, he probably wouldn't get any sleep at all. And he couldn't let Reid and those dreams rob him of sleep again. So he did what was the next logical conclusion: he laid hands on himself.

Slowly at first, then faster and faster, Morgan let his hand slide over his cock, trying to imagine himself having sex with Savannah. But her butt kept appearing in his mind's eye, and the next moment Spencer's face. It just wasn't working.

Groaning in frustration, Morgan took his fingers off his cock and lowered himself to the cold bathroom floor. There he sat now like a heap of misery, totally aroused but unable to come because Reid literally kept interfering with him. He could only hope that Savannah was fast asleep. If she found him here like this and demanded an explanation, what was he supposed to tell her? Sorry, my subconscious is telling me I should be fucking Reid, and stupidly he's not here?

A twitch went through his cock at the thought. Yes, that was probably the solution, but one he didn't want to acknowledge. Still, Derek let his hand wander to his cock again, gripping it lightly. He allowed thoughts of the seductive butt from his dream - and then consciously forced himself to see Spencer in the person in front of him. His cock pulsed violently and he gripped tighter. He wondered if Spencer would be even tighter and hotter than Savannah. Or was he used to being fucked, and his entrance would allow Morgan effortless access?

As Morgan imagined himself penetrating Spencer, moving in and out of the tightness with powerful thrusts, he pumped his hand up and down his cock faster and faster. Yes, this was it, this was the feeling he was seeking. In his mind's eye, Spencer groaned and screamed his name loudly. And in the next moment, Derek was coming all over his hand.

Chapter Text

Derek was glad that Savannah was on duty during the day and had already explained to him in the morning that she was going to meet some friends for a birthday party afterwards. The previous night had taken its toll on him and he needed rest to think about everything. With the kidnapping case closed, he hoped he wouldn't be called back to the office on a weekend right away. Hotch always tried to make sure they got a few days off after such intense periods. That's why Morgan had made his way to the house he was working on these days. The weather was nice and he needed some contemplative work. So he had taken it upon himself to paint the upstairs rooms, whose remodeling was already complete.

The windows were open and outside in the trees some birds were chirping. The house was a bit out of the way, but Derek could still imagine moving in here someday. The large property outside offered enough space for not only Clooney to run around, but at least two or three other dogs. And the house was big enough for a family.

As he ran the paint roller evenly up and down the wall, he remembered the conversation he had had with Penelope after his first strange dream. She had told him that he would have to figure out for himself what the dream meant - and along with the images from last night, it was probably fairly clear: he had the hots for Reid.

Unconsciously, he'd probably known that for over a week. That was probably why he couldn't bring himself to look at Reid while he was dancing. If they were that close, surely the boy had to be able to read the lust in his eyes immediately.

But knowing what was going on with him was only half the battle.

Derek dipped the roller into the paint again and painted a few more lengths.

He had been with Savannah for over a year, making it the longest relationship Morgan could remember. He felt comfortable with Savannah, they had common interests, good sex, and - at least at some point - Morgan could definitely see Savannah being a great mom, too. He couldn't jeopardize that because of a few dreams.

And he had a deep friendship with Reid. They looked out for each other, supported each other. A fleeting affair wasn't worth jeopardizing that.

Besides, there was still the question of whether Reid would even be available for such a relationship. Well, he was not averse to men in general, he had already seen that. But would he get involved with him, for a short adventure? That was difficult for Morgan to assess. The agent Reid would certainly have immediately run away from such advances, but the dancer Reid seemed to be much more open-minded. You could tell by the way he seemed to flirt with everyone.

Morgan hadn't thought about a man in a long time. He had experimented a bit during his college years. When he was on the police force in Chicago, he had a brief relationship with a fellow officer. But being a police officer in a homosexual relationship was not easy - not to say that it was actually taboo. They had therefore kept their relationship a secret, which had led to suspicion and jealousy and eventually the breakup. After that, Morgan had simply checked men off as too complicated. There were enough women to catch his attention.

Reid, though, had now somehow cheated his way behind that wall he'd built. Or danced.

Morgan had been struck from the first moment he'd seen Reid on the dance floor by how sexy he was there. And somehow, it had suddenly become quite difficult to resist this newfound attraction.

Thoughtfully, Morgan looked at the wall he had just painted white. Should he perhaps have brought color into this room after all? Maybe yellow or terra cotta?

Reid had used to be like that white wall: it was there, but unobtrusive. It was needed, but not really noticed. And all of a sudden, splashes of color had appeared there, growing larger with every glance. And the wall was suddenly impossible to miss at all.

Derek turned away. White was a good color for a wall. You could put whatever you wanted in front of it, it always looked good.

Morgan dipped the paint roller again and started on the adjacent wall.

He would have to paint Reid white again in his mind, he reasoned. Those flashy splashes of color had to go, to bring back the harmless friendship he needed but didn't want to be conscious of all the time.

He realized that the quickest way to accomplish that would be to not go to the Noche Cubana tonight. Reid had threatened to declare the dance lessons over if he didn't show up. That would cut off contact with this other Spencer, and he'd only see the one who came to the office in a rumpled tie and a sweater, stuttered as soon as a girl approached him, and rattled off statistics when he was in his element. It was the white wall all over again.

But Morgan had a hard time deciding. He had a hunch that if he backed out now, he'd disappoint Reid. And he didn't want that. The dance lessons and also the time afterwards at the club were fun, if one disregarded individual unpleasant moments. And it made him feel special that Reid was revealing all this to him, which he didn't share with any of his colleagues otherwise. He really didn't want to miss that anymore.

That meant he had to build a fence in his mind around the beautiful colorful wall called Spencer Reid. Look yes, touch no - at least as soon as it came to touching that went beyond dancing. And he had to make sure Reid didn't notice his dilemma. The reactions of the boy, should he notice that Morgan would like to jump him, were not to be estimated at all. The possibilities ranged from outright rejection and refusal of any contact to trying to seduce him - and neither of those extremes was particularly desirable right now.

Morgan looked thoughtfully at the second wall. Maybe he should think about something else for the third. White walls could be pretty boring, too, at least when there was nothing to cover them with.

Chapter Text

"I actually wasn't sure if you were going to come," Reid greeted him as Morgan stepped into the small practice room at 7 p.m. sharp.

"Neither was I," Derek confessed as he took off his jacket and then walked over to Reid on the other side of the room. "But I want to learn from you. And I'm not going to give up just because I'm pushing my own limits. I want to see to what extent I can overcome them."

"You know I'm not going to give in just because a day has passed."

Morgan nodded. "Yep, I'm aware of that. And I don't plan on failing again." Reid's eyes widened a tiny bit. Morgan knew his words sounded like a declaration of war. Only the boy wasn't aware that he wasn't the opponent, but Morgan himself.

Morgan felt like he was under a magnifying glass as Reid eyed him intently. Then the boy turned to the stereo and started the music. "You know the drill. First thing I want to see is your rumba basic step. Alone. In front of the mirror. You control yourself. I'll tell you when to stop."

Morgan wordlessly got into position. The tense atmosphere didn't make it easy to concentrate on dance steps. But he had to get through it now. If he passed Reid's test, the boy was sure to loosen up, and so was he.

Morgan let a few bars pass before he took his first steps. He broke off again immediately when he realized he was out of time. Next attempt. And another. It wasn't until the fifth time that he managed to pick up the rhythm of the music properly and dance the steps in time. Step size and hip movement, those were the next items on the agenda. Morgan fervently hoped that the song lasted long enough for him to get everything reasonably correct. When he finally felt he could be reasonably pleased with himself, came the most difficult exercise - the one Reid had not yet specifically mentioned: eye contact.

Morgan tried not to lose focus on the steps as he simultaneously took his gaze from his own reflection and sought Spencer's. As he often did, the boy stood diagonally behind him, watching him intently.

Morgan forced himself to breathe calmly, then sought Spencer's gaze. He noticed Reid flinch a tiny bit as he caught Morgan's gaze in the mirror. So he could surprise the boy a little after all.

The test had begun: Reid didn't avert his gaze, and Morgan tried to match it. It was all about eye contact, nothing more, Derek held to himself like a mantra.

"You can stop," Spencer suddenly declared, leaving his position behind Morgan. "Amazingly well," he commented on Morgan's steps as he fiddled with the stereo. "Set the long intermediate step a little tighter. Imagine trying to dance with Sandra. It doesn't look very ladylike when she has to take such huge steps."

Morgan hummed a quick agreement. At least Spencer didn't come right back with the ankle bracelet; so the steps couldn't have been that huge.

"Ready for the next exercise?" inquired Spencer as he approached Morgan.

"As ready as I'll ever be," the latter replied. He knew exactly what was coming up now.

"Okay, same as last time for the Cha Cha: assume dance posture, eye contact, watch step size and hip movement," Reid listed briefly. Then he started the music and waited.

Morgan took a deep breath and repeated his mantra: It was all about eye contact, nothing else. He could just look Reid in the eye like any other colleague.

He let two more beats pass before reaching for Reid's hand and placing his other on Reid's back. Dance posture assumed.

In his mind, he counted two bars before looking Reid in the eye. Eye contact established.

He let another measure pass before starting the first basic step.

It was working.

The entry into the song was optimal - at least Morgan believed it was. He would be sure to hear from Reid shortly if his perception matched reality.

Morgan didn't take his eyes off Reid. To him, the rumba already seemed more like a duel than a dance. Was he going to hold on or not?

"Okay, stop," Spencer abruptly broke off the dance and broke free of the dancing posture. Morgan waited for him to start over, but Spencer paced up and down the hall a few feet.

"Positive: You've got the eye contact thing down. Negative: You're just mechanically working off everything I told you right now," he explained as he stood in front of Morgan again. "In the first few lessons, I believed you about the dance, even when the steps failed. Now you could put down a robot where you've got all the mechanics down to the details. But nobody believes a robot that it can dance. You know what I mean?"

Unfortunately, Morgan understood all too well. He would prefer to play dumb, but that wouldn't be fair. He had tried to block out any emotion so he could meet Reid's demand for eye contact without losing himself in the process. He had obviously succeeded - but with an undesirable side effect.

"Yes, I understand," Morgan admitted. "Again?"

Reid again didn't look at him as he paced the room, and Morgan was beginning to fear that he was going to call it off after all, as he slowly shook his head. "Not yet."

Spencer reached for the remote and started the music again. "I want you to practice basic steps again first. Just for you. I've got a short playlist here with ten song clips, all only about 30 seconds long. It's cha cha and rumba, but I'm not going to tell you which song is what. The task: recognize the dance, get into the beat, and dance at least three basic steps before the 30 seconds are up."

"That doesn't leave me much time," Morgan said, relieved to be back practicing on his own for the moment.

"You're supposed to be dancing more than standing around on the dance floor. Savannah will thank you if she doesn't have to wait a minute for it to start," Reid returned immediately, starting the music at the same moment.

Morgan didn't have much time to think and the next five minutes flew by. He focused completely on himself and the exercise and only realized when the music stopped that he no longer knew where Spencer was or if he had been watching him.

"That was good," Spencer commented as he slid off a stool that was against the wall behind Morgan. "You recognized all the dances correctly. And except for the second rumba, you always got into them good, too. The step size fits, the hip movements could be a little more pronounced."

"It almost sounds like you're giving me a little credit," Morgan commented as he grinned at Reid.

Spencer smiled back. "You're welcome to take it that way. I'm just afraid the high times are about to come to an end. I'll teach you something new, but it'll involve getting back into the dance stance."

Morgan nodded. He had expected that, but the breather had helped him regain his composure.

"A new step or a new dance?" he inquired as Spencer stepped toward him.

"Actually, neither. A figure that you can lead your partner into. For you, the basic step stays the same."

And Spencer began to explain how to lead the dance partner into a solo turn and bring her back to the basic step. "Got it?" he finally said.

"Doesn't sound that difficult."

"Then try it," came Reid's immediate challenge. He turned the music back on - a rumba, as Morgan immediately recognized - and waited for Morgan to take the lead. In fact, this time Morgan found it much easier to go through his "program," as he called it for himself: Dance posture, eye contact, basic steps. It took him a bit of time before he was actually confident enough in the rhythm to venture into the figure. Then he turned Reid away from himself - and promptly stopped when his dance partner was about halfway through the turn.

Spencer had to chuckle as Morgan looked utterly confused. "Sorry, I didn't mean to ... but you ... you were suddenly ...," Morgan stammered. He couldn't explain why he hadn't just moved on.

"Don't worry about it," Spencer said with a laugh. "I'd say at least 50 percent of men fail at their first time."

Morgan's heat promptly shot to his head. Was Spencer's innuendo intentional, or was the boy simply not paying attention to what was tumbling out of his mouth? And had that just been a mischievous wink?

"Again. I'm sure I won't backfire the second time," Morgan went into the banter. And this time, he didn't have much trouble at all getting Reid back into the dance stance. Morgan also gave them just two basic steps before pushing Spencer into the spin again - and stopping halfway again.

Spencer broke away from him, laughing, and patted him on the shoulder, giggling. "You're not usually known for teething problems. Does a fear of loss come over you when I'm suddenly not standing in front of you?"

Morgan grumbled to himself. This couldn't be true. All he had to do was continue his basic step. Why wasn't this going to work?

"Stay here!" he demanded, grabbing Spencer's hand again. "Now either you explain to me how this works, or we're going to keep doing this until it does."

Morgan didn't give Reid time to answer at all before he resumed dancing posture and started on the first basic step.

"Want a tip?" muttered Spencer with a mischievous grin.

"Probably be better if you don't want to do turns half the night," Morgan growled back.

"Then don't worry about what I'm doing. You just have to be sure I know my moves."

"Of course I know you know your steps," Morgan returned gruffly. After all, he had never doubted that before.

"But you're stopping because you want to check that I'm actually doing them and not just taking off," Reid explained. "I promise you: I'll come right back to you. You have to visualize that. If you get away from trying to control me, then it works."

Morgan didn't give himself or Reid any more time to think about it. Of course, he was aware that the boy wasn't running away. He wouldn't let go of his hand, after all. Morgan pushed Spencer into the turn - and was surprised to find that three steps later he was right in front of him again, this time without breaking off in mid-step. Morgan tried his luck again - again with success.

"It's really not that difficult," he echoed his initial assessment. Reid nodded, then stopped.

"Same exercise with the cha cha," he commented, starting a new song. "Try not to forget your hip movements when the steps are faster again now."

Morgan didn't waste any time: Dance posture, pick up the rhythm, basic steps, turn. It was working. It was really working!

After the third turn, he picked up on what Reid had reminded him of: more pronounced hip movements. And this really felt like dancing now.

Oddly, the few seconds he now lacked eye contact with Reid because of the turn suddenly seemed stranger than the time in between when he didn't take his eyes off the boy.

Morgan's heart beat faster with every step he took and every turn he led Reid into. Euphoria spread through him. He was really making progress. When Morgan realized the song was coming to an end, he led Reid into one last spin so that they were standing in front of each other again just as the last beat faded.

Spencer smiled, and Morgan warmed to it. With their gazes still holding, Morgan thought he felt the intensity he'd usually only seen from Reid and his dance partners on the floor.

And he couldn't help it: with his hand on Spencer's back, he pulled the latter closer to him and pressed his lips to Spencer's mouth before the latter could protest - closing his eyes only just before the touch.

It took Morgan a few seconds to notice that Spencer didn't return the kiss, but rather stiffened in his embrace.

Chapter Text

"Shit! Sorry!" Morgan groaned as he let go of Spencer and took two steps back to give the boy space. Spencer immediately turned away from him – and it was like a slap in the face to Morgan. "It ... I didn't mean to," Morgan affirmed, his heart pounding in his throat. "I ..." He broke off. What could he even say? That it was an accident? That it wasn't intentional? That this was exactly what he had wanted to avoid at all costs? That Spencer had more or less driven him to it?

"The steps were very good," Spencer suddenly declared. "Hip movement is getting better, too. Make sure that while your partner is doing the turn, you keep your steps small. Otherwise, she'll be half a mile away from you afterwards."

Morgan stared at Reid's back as he turned off the stereo and then pointedly looked at his watch. "The lesson is over, I'm expected downstairs. Are you coming?"

Spencer turned and looked at him questioningly. Morgan didn't know what to make of it: Reid just acted as if the kiss, brief as it was, had never happened. How could he have blocked it out so completely?

At that moment, Morgan longed for FBI Agent Reid, who would probably be standing in front of him right now, stuttering and red-faced, not really knowing what had happened to him. The boy who left the impression that he had just been kissed for the first time and didn't know how to handle his emotions.

As exciting as Reid the dancer might be - right now Morgan wanted him to go to hell.

Morgan cleared his throat. "Um, yeah, I don't know. Is ... is Sandra there, too?" So far, after all, he'd only ever seen the girl who so willingly gave herself up to practice with him on Fridays. Today, the club's clientele would be different again. Among the highly professional dancers would again be the "common party people."

"I think so. She's here a lot, takes every opportunity for a distraction from the daily grind," Reid said, gradually turning out the lights in the room.

Morgan grabbed his jacket and retreated to the door. He was completely torn: On the one hand, he was quite uncomfortable with the situation. He should never have kissed Reid. On the other hand, he was totally flabbergasted by Reid's reaction. And he would have liked to kiss him again just to see if he could provoke a real reaction. Either way, he was supposed to leave. But Reid had the same effect on him as light has on a moth: he was incredibly attracted to him.

"Why does Sandra have to distract herself," Morgan inquired, striving for an innocuous topic as he stepped out in front of Reid. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he realized that the boy was back within his reach and that, in theory, all he had to do was pull him close.

But Morgan deliberately turned the other way and strode slowly ahead down the stairs.

"You'll have to ask her that yourself. We don't talk about our friends behind each other's backs here," Reid explained. His tone, in complete contrast to the content of his words, did not sound dismissive at all, but absolutely neutral.

Morgan wasn't sure if everyone saw it as narrowly as Reid did. At least Sandra had dropped a remark or two about Spencer. But he remembered that Reid had also obliged him to ask him directly if he wanted to know something, and not to sound out his friends.

Most of all, Morgan would have liked to ask him now what had bothered him about the kiss. That it was him kissing him? That he was just being kissed at all? That there was a partner he didn't want to be unfaithful to by kissing someone else?

But Morgan slipped wordlessly through the door into the club and then stepped aside to let Reid go ahead to seek out his friends.

---

Sandra was definitely taken with the progress Morgan had made, and told him so effusively. "If you keep this up, there really is potencial with you on the dance floor someday," she declared with a laugh as Morgan brought her back to her dancing posture after the third turn in the Cha Cha.

"So I'm not entirely a lost cause then?"

"Fishing for compliments? You can start doing that when you get a few more figures down than the basic step and a turn," Sandra chuckled.

Derek focused a little more on the music again and led Sandra into the next turn. Unlike Spencer, Sandra was a dance partner who was fun to dance with, but no matter how seductive she was with her hip swing, she didn't tempt him at all.

"Don't you actually have a dance partner?" inquired Derek as he held Sandra again. "Or am I going to get in trouble someday for keeping you from dancing with someone else?" He actually knew next to nothing about the girl. And after she kept giving him her time, he was starting to get curious about who she really was.

"I have a dance partner, but before you ask, he's just my dance partner not my boyfriend. And he certainly doesn't get jealous: we all rotate through here from time to time so everyone can learn from each other," Sandra explained with a smile, pushing his hand, in which he held hers, up a little further. "Don’t pull your shoulder up," she commented as she did so.

"Does that mean that steady dance partners are otherwise synonymous with relationships here," Morgan inquired, immediately making Sandra laugh. "Is that how you're trying to find out if Spencer did have a thing with Fernanda?"

"No, really not," Derek immediately affirmed, although his thoughts had already secretly gone in such a direction.

"I'll let you in on an open secret: I would love to be Spencer's new favorite. Only on the dance floor, though. He'd be much too old for a relationship," Sandra explained in a feigned whisper.

Derek's eyebrows moved up a little. "Too old? Ten years difference in age isn't too much," he said, although he couldn't help thinking that he himself was eight years older than Spencer. But what was eight years.

"Ten years? I thought Spencer was past 30," Sandra pondered, confused.

Morgan nodded. And paused. "Can I ask how old you are?"

"I've been 19 for a few weeks."

The answer surprised Morgan so much that he promptly tripped over his own feet. Sandra had to laugh heartily, pulling him off the dance floor in the process. The Cha Cha was about to be over anyway and another slow dance was not to be expected.

"I don't know now whether to take your reaction as a compliment or an insult. Did you really think I was past 20 already."

Morgan considered Sandra, then shrugged. "I kind of already assumed that." And then a whole chandelier went up for him, "Shit, then you're not even half my age!" Sandra almost couldn't contain herself from laughing. She met the curious stares of Spencer's friends, whom they had joined, with a gush of Spanish that made them laugh, too.

One of the Latinos slapped him on the shoulder in a friendly manner. "Don't worry. Dancing with young girls is not yet a crime, as far as I know," he explained with a grin. Derek shook his head. People here might tease him a little, but their banter always seemed good-natured. He could see why Spencer felt comfortable here.

"I'm going to get something from the bar," he said to Sandra. "Can I get you something - without alcohol, of course?"

The girl giggled. "I should have let you think I was 21. If I had, I'm sure you would have invited me for a substantial cocktail by now. But if I were you, I'd wait a moment. This song here is going to be a paso doble, and if I'm not mistaken, we're about to see Spencer, perhaps with his new fave."

Needless to say, Morgan wasn't about to miss that. What kind of woman would Reid lead onto the floor this time?

Morgan didn't have to wait long. He saw Spencer step onto the floor with his head held high and a proud rhythmic stride. The crowd around him immediately made room, only a few of the unsuspecting dancers who were not regular visitors to the club took a few seconds longer to realize that they might be in the way. Morgan wondered, though: there was no sign of a dance partner anywhere. But seeing no surprise in Sandra's gaze, he kept his eyes on Spencer. He stomped a few times in the middle of the dance floor, steps that reminded Derek of flamenco dancers. And no sooner had Spencer held still, his gaze fixed on the edge of the dance floor, than the appropriate response came from there: a dark-haired beauty clattered toward Spencer with steps that matched the music, rhythmically waving a scarf she had tied around her waist as an extension of her short skirt. Spencer picked up the flamenco steps, never taking his eyes off the black-haired woman, who - if Derek was right this time - had to be around 30.

Morgan swallowed: there was that look in Spencer's eyes again that seemed to render everyone around him will-less, and that captivated Morgan more than any pair of handcuffs ever could.

The pair's dance was watched spellbound by the entire crowd, but Reid didn't seem to notice any of it. He only had eyes for his dance partner. Although the dance didn't require as much closeness between the two partners as, say, a rumba or salsa did, the heat and passion that seemed to build between the dancing couple literally laced Morgan's throat. He had experienced a little bit of that look, of that passion that wanted to burst out of Spencer himself. And his heart beat faster at the thought that Spencer was now giving it to someone else.

Derek stared at Spencer, wishing he could turn on the boy with his gaze the way the boy managed to turn on him with his dancing. And as if Spencer could sense this, he suddenly looked over at Morgan for two seconds and caught his gaze for a moment.

Derek felt hot and cold run down his spine. Unconsciously, he shifted closer to the edge of the dance floor to catch Spencer's attention again.

But the dance faded away without Spencer looking at him again.

Morgan could no longer think clearly. He knew himself that he was acting completely irrationally as he watched Spencer leave the floor with his dance partner and then leave her with a small group of people. With long strides, Morgan circled the dance floor, cutting off Reid's path to the bar.

"You need to come with me," he growled as he reached Spencer and grabbed his wrist.

Spencer looked at him in surprise, but, probably because he was so surprised, allowed himself to be pulled through the door leading toward the restrooms and back exit without much protest.

"Morgan, what ...", Spencer continued, but Derek interrupted him with an "In a minute!", opened the door and pulled Spencer into the rather dark alley behind the club. Before the boy had a chance to say anything else, Derek suddenly pressed him against the wall next to the door and planted a passionate kiss on his lips.

Chapter Text

Heaven and hell fell upon Derek at the same time when he felt Spencer hesitate at first, but then return his kiss. He felt hot and at the same time a cold shiver ran down his spine and made him tremble as he ran his tongue lightly over Spencer's lips. The boy somehow tasted like coffee, raspberries and lemon, sweet and tart at the same time, and all Derek wanted to do was chase that taste.

Protectively, he slid one hand between the back of Spencer's head and the rough wall of the house, while sliding the other up his neck so he could brush his thumb across Spencer's cheek. He felt Spencer's hands on his chest, but they weren't trying to push him away. Rather, Spencer seemed a little unsure of what to do with his fingers.

A low moan escaped Spencer as Derek pushed a knee between his legs. And Derek took the opportunity as Spencer's lips opened and began to explore his mouth with his tongue. He could truly lose himself in that taste.

At Reid's throat, Morgen could feel the boy's pulse quickening, matching his own in pace. Gently, Derek nibbled on Spencer's lower lip before letting it go and moving his lips down his neck to the very spot where he could feel Spencer's pulse. Reid's fingers clawed at his shirt as he bit there lightly.

Derek pushed the collar of Reid's shirt aside and his lips wandered to Reid’s collarbone. When he reached a spot that would surely be covered by the shirt again later, he bit down, a little less gently than before, and then sucked on the spot. Though not overtly visible: he would leave his mark on Reid. The boy would still remember tomorrow who claimed him.

Spencer reared up under Derek's lips and let out a louder moan. His pelvis shifted even closer to Derek and he could feel how aroused Spencer already was.

Returning his lips to Spencer's mouth, Derek rather slid his hand to the button placket of his shirt. He pressed Spencer even harder against the wall, as if to show him that there was no escape. Then he deftly slid one of the small buttons after another through their respective buttonholes until Spencer's shirt slid apart, revealing his chest.

Spencer was pale in comparison to Derek's hand, which he placed in the middle of his chest to feel his heartbeat. Only a slight blush ran down from his neck, again a signal of how aroused Spencer was by the game.

Derek traced Spencer's lips with his tongue once more before disengaging and looking at Spencer admiringly. The latter's chest, on which only a very slight fuzz could be felt, rose and fell in rapid rhythm. The small nipples were erect stiffly and pushed towards Derek with every breath. He couldn't resist the temptation. As he continued to press Spencer against the wall with one hand, he lowered his head and licked lightly over one nipple before closing his lips around it, sucking and finally nibbling lightly.

"Derek!", Spencer unexpectedly groaned out loud, rearing up under him. "Please ... don't ..."

Morgan had no idea what the boy was trying to tell him, but his body was clearly demanding even more attention. And he was going to give it to him.

In turn, Derek licked over Spencer's nipples until they shone wetly and contracted even more in the crisp night air. While he distracted the boy in this way, he let one hand wander further down over Spencer's chest and stomach. He pulled his shirt out of his pants and pushed it aside so he could reach Spencer's waistband unhindered. Derek didn't know if Spencer was consciously rubbing against his knee or if he had no control over his body at all, but he could clearly feel how aroused Spencer was. And he wanted to see that now - and savor it.

Quickly, Derek returned to Spencer's lips and gave him a deep kiss before lifting his head and demanding, "Eye contact. Open your eyes and look at me!"

The moment Spencer complied with the request and looked wide-eyed at Derek, the latter unbuttoned Reid’s pants and slid his hand inside.

"Aaah!" it burst out of Spencer before the boy bit his lips to stifle a loud groan as Derek's hand closed around him.

"Do you like that? Is that what you're looking for when you demand that I look you in the eye? That passion? That fire that burns you from the inside out? I'll make you burn. Just don't let me out of your sight and I'll show you a fire you've never known before," Morgan murmured in a low voice.

Morgan pressed his lips to Spencer's and pushed his tongue into his mouth, while at the same time pulling on Spencer's much too tight pants with both hands, pushing them further down along with the waistband of the underpants until he exposed Spencer's cock.

"Eyes to me," Derek demanded again as he ended the kiss once more. And he could see how difficult it was for Spencer's pleasure-fogged brain to understand and comply with the request. But it wasn't until Reid looked him in the eye again that he went to his knees in front of him. He could see the moment immediately when Spencer became aware of what he was about to do. The boy's eyes widened even more and a soft gasp came from his lips followed by an even quieter "Don't!", which Derek paid no attention to, however. He reached for Spencer's cock and didn't allow him another second of preparation: he immediately let it slide between his lips and took it in as deep as he could.

Spencer let out a small cry, dropped his head back against the wall of the house and squinted his eyes.

Immediately, Derek let go of him. "Eye contact!" he growled, immediately returning the torment Spencer had made him endure to the boy. "If you don't look at me, it's over right now."

He held Spencer with one hand, but didn't move his fingers an inch. Now Reid was at his mercy, and he relished the power he had over the boy right now. He wouldn't leave him hanging for too long, but he would let him feel a little of his own medicine.

As Morgan watched Spencer's face insistently - the slightly parted lips, the fluttering lids - and listened to his soft gasp, he reached between his own legs with one hand. His own cock urged to be freed from his jeans, but Derek was still aware that they were in an alley behind the club and that there was no point in him giving up control either. Someone could show up here at any time. At least one of them should be able to provide cover from prying eyes.

When Spencer finally opened his eyes again, Derek saw that although he had regained some of his control, the unbridled lust was still reflected in his gaze. Lightly, Derek ran a finger along Spencer's cock and then circled its tip as light as a feather. "Look at me if you still want me to make you come sometime tonight," he said softly. "Or don't you want to feel what my mouth feels like?"

"I ... no ... do...," Spencer stammered in confusion, finally looking back down at Morgan. The latter suddenly felt as if Reid had changed. Uncertainty was in Spencer's gaze, maybe even something that could be fear.

"I promise you'll like it," Derek murmured, planting a kiss on Spencer's tip. "Give me your hands."

He reached for Reid's hands, that the boy had unconsciously clawed into the rough brickwork behind him, and intertwined their fingers. "Hold on," was the only warning Derek gave Spencer before he took him in his mouth again.

"Oooh! ... Der... aaah!" burst out of Spencer as Morgan slid his lips over him, sucking gently. He kept his eyes up as he did so, watching Reid's reactions.

Spencer's lids lowered slightly as he let out a flood of sighs, but he kept his gaze fixed on Derek.

Morgan felt the intense throbbing between his own legs, but he chose to ignore it. He could worry about that later. Right now, there was nothing more important than Spencer. Slowly, he pulled back until he had only Spencer's tip between his lips, watching with a mischievous grin as Spencer's whole body twitched as he let his tongue dance over Spencer's most sensitive spot. The grip Spencer used to cling to Morgan's hands tightened, and Spencer's eyes grew so dark they seemed almost completely black.

"Move!" demanded Derek as he let go of Reid for a second. "Fuck me! Get yourself what you want!"

And when he took Spencer in his mouth again, Spencer immediately came to meet him with his hips.

A wild ride began that also pushed Morgan's arousal further and further. It took him an incredible amount of self-control not to give up on Reid's cock and seek release in his ass instead. But this was going to be for Spencer, he could think about himself later - if he didn't just come in his pants by then.

Spencer's movements became more and more uncoordinated as he tried to plunge deeper and deeper into Morgan's mouth. He began to tremble, and Morgan knew he was nearing climax.

Spencer was almost crying out in desperation when Morgan suddenly withdrew and Spencer's cock jerked up and down in the cold night air.

"Please ... please ... I have to ... I ... Derek!" whimpered Spencer, trying to thrust forward with his hips as Derek's hands trapped him against the wall with his own.

"What do you want?" inquired Morgan, further delaying Spencer's agony. "Tell me what you want and you'll get it."

Spencer gasped and closed his eyes in despair.

Derek blew lightly over Spencer's cock, causing the boy to moan again.

"I've got all night, I just don't know if you can take it," Morgan said with a smile as he watched Spencer wrestle with himself. So even the confident dancer had his limits, Morgan thought to himself, regaining some of his confidence with that realization.

"I am completely at your disposal. Ask me, and I'll relieve you," Derek murmured, trying to make it a little easier on the boy.

"P... pl... please," Spencer whispered in anguish.

And in the next moment, Derek took him in his mouth again, sucking on him and letting his tongue dance around him. Spencer thrust his hips forward, pushing into Derek's warmth. And it took only seconds for Spencer to suddenly pour himself into Derek's mouth.

Chapter Text

Euphoria and horror mixed as Morgan sat in his car and drove home. What had he done? How could he have lost control like that? And how wonderfully had Spencer responded to him?

An insistent throbbing between Morgan's legs reminded him that if this "problem" didn't go away by the time he got home, he should be dealing with it. Savannah would assume he'd been watching one porno after another if she came home and found him so aroused. And she'd probably tell him to take care of it himself, too, if he was more aroused by porn than by her.

Morgan tried to focus on the traffic, but it wasn't that easy. It wasn't late yet, and half the city seemed to be out and about on a Saturday night. Just as well, Savannah certainly wouldn't be home until midnight.

Morgan shook his head at himself. He had done exactly what he had wanted to avoid: he had given in to unexpected lust for Reid and ... well, not really slept with him, but had sex with him, if somewhat one-sided. He had cheated on Savannah … and Reid ... no idea what he had done to him.

No sooner had the boy regained his senses to some extent than he had gathered up his clothes and fled out through the alley.

Derek had considered for a moment whether he should run after him. But what was he to tell him if he actually found him and caught up?

Instead, Morgan had returned to the club, grabbed his own things as well as Spencer's, and made off. He was just glad that Spencer's friends were mostly busy on the dance floor right now, and that the two who had stayed behind didn't pay him any further attention when he threw them a cursory "bye." He wouldn't have known what to say to them if they had asked him about Spencer's whereabouts.

But although on the one hand he regretted what he had done to Reid, on the other he wouldn't for the world want to turn back the clock to undo it. The moment, as brief as it had been, was simply magnificent. In Morgan's mind's eye, Spencer's face appeared, a look full of uncertainty that turned to lust before he climaxed. He had certainly taken Reid by surprise, but the boy had also allowed it. Derek knew full well that Spencer could have put an end to it all if he'd really wanted to.

Morgan steered the car into the driveway to his house and parked it in front of the garage. He lowered his hands from the steering wheel and listened into the silence that suddenly surrounded him. He'd made quite a mess of things with that impromptu blow job. And he didn't have the slightest idea what the consequences might be. In any case, Savannah was not to know about it. That had been a slip, provoked by Reid's behavior, which always gave him a new roller coaster ride of emotions. He didn't want to jeopardize his relationship with Savannah by making a confession to her - or worse: by her finding out about it through Reid.

Morgan got out and locked the car. That meant he would have to talk to Reid about the matter. While Savannah and he met extremely rarely, Morgan knew full well that fate could be a bitch. When you least expected it, it would spark you.

As Derek unlocked the front door, he immediately heard a quick tap sprinting toward him. "Clooney, my boy! I'm sorry I've been neglecting you like this," he greeted the dog, who jumped happily toward him. He was running much later than he had planned, and Clooney certainly needed to get out urgently.

With the pressing problem in his pants slowly subsiding, Morgan decided to work off his excess energy not in the shower, but on a run with Clooney. "Wait here," he instructed the dog, and quickly ran upstairs to the bedroom. Two minutes, he returned in gym clothes and left the house with Clooney. "It will do us both good to get some more fresh air," he said to the dog as he turned out onto the sidewalk at a slow pace.

He needed to talk to Spencer, his thoughts returned to the point where he had stopped to think about his plight earlier. Probably an apology was in order for coming down on him like that. And then an urgent request to keep it a secret from Savannah.

He wondered how Spencer would react: with FBI Agent Reid, he probably never would have gotten into this situation. Morgan couldn't imagine ever succumbing to the temptation to relieve Spencer of his sweater and impossibly old-fashioned pants. But then again, he could only be happy if the reaction came from Dancer Reid and not FBI Reid. Morgan didn't even like to imagine how Reid would blush to the tips of his hair every time he crossed paths with him in the office and then hurry out of the room.

As if to escape that very situation, Morgan picked up the pace as he made his way to the nearby park. Clooney trotted happily along beside him.

How the dancer Reid would react, Morgan couldn't even gauge. This version of Spencer seemed to just completely tune out and ignore some things, as if they never happened. Would he do the same with tonight's events? Just forget about them as if they had never happened. A return to the strange normalcy before the kiss and the blow job? Morgan could hardly imagine that? Could Reid really be that hardened? It was rather unlikely, especially considering that he had literally fled from Morgan earlier.

There was more of a chance that he would make a violent scene and forbid him to return to the club. Whatever the outcome, Morgan reckoned that his time as a dance student was over. He couldn't imagine a scenario that included a continuation of dance lessons. And perhaps that was for the best. Under no circumstances could there be a repeat of tonight.

After a big lap around the park, Morgan made his way back. He was now exhausted in every way and Clooney had certainly gotten enough exercise as well.

As Morgan approached his house, he was surprised to see Savannah's car parked behind his in the driveway. He hadn't expected to see her until midnight. Why was she there now?

"Savannah?" he called out as he unlocked the door and entered the house.

"Be right there," his girlfriend's voice immediately rang out from upstairs.

Morgan quickly ran into the kitchen, set fresh water out for Clooney and treated himself to a glass as well.

"Where have you been?" inquired Savannah as she walked in the door. But the workout clothes he was wearing spared him an answer. "I see, jogging with Clooney. That you have energy for that this late?"

Morgan shrugged. "It's not like there was anyone around to miss me in the meantime," he said, giving Savannah a small smile. "What are you doing back so soon, anyway? I thought you were at a birthday party."

"It came to a rather abrupt end," Savannah explained as she stepped up next to Derek and pressed a small kiss to his lips. "Whew, you smell like Clooney!" she then said with a sniff. "You're not getting into bed with me like that."

"I was actually planning on showering first, too," Morgan grinned. "You want to quickly tell me what's been going on?"

"Do you remember Mira?"

"The nurse you've worked with for many years?"

Savannah nodded. "It was her party. And she got a terrible birthday present from her husband," Savannah explained. "Imagine, he gave her an expensive necklace with an engraved pendant."

"And what's so terrible about that? You'd think she'd enjoy jewelry. You women don't generally object to that, do you?"

Savannah snorted. "I'd rather have no jewelry at all instead of a surprise like that. Just think, the pendant had her husband's name engraved on it along with another woman's name and a date."

"Did the jeweler make a mistake?" echoed Derek, although by now he could guess that wasn't the case.

"That's what Mira's husband wanted her to think. It's just unfortunate that she recognized the name: It was his secretary's. And the date, as far as she could remember then, was the date he'd hired her."

"Oh my God," Morgan groaned. "How could he be so stupid as to mix up the chains?"

Savannah immediately stared at him, aghast. " That's just typical man. You're grumbling because he switched the gifts. But the fact that this asshole has been cheating on Mira for over a year, you don't say anything about that!"

Morgan felt a cold shiver run down his spine when Savannah turned the focus to the other man's cheating. "It's a mess, of course," he followed up, but his words didn't seem very credible to himself. How could he even condemn another man when he himself had not acted much better tonight? "I ... I'm going to take a quick shower ... to rid you of my stench," he muttered, quickly leaving the kitchen behind. He knew himself that he wasn't exactly acting unsuspiciously, but at the moment things were so fresh that he preferred to avoid any subject related to cheating. Not that he would have such violent remorse that he made a completely unnecessary confession to Savannah. After all, he had already decided that there would be no repeat with Reid.

Chapter Text

The weekend had been a disaster, and Morgan had never wished so longingly on a Sunday that Hotch would call and summon him to the office for an urgent case as he did on this one. But the phone hadn't made a sound and Morgan had to endure the Sunday within his four walls together with Savannah.

Morgan walked past the still empty bullpen to his room. He had wanted to avoid breakfast with Savannah at all costs, so he had left for the office as early as he rarely did. He set the coffee and sandwich he had gotten on the way on his desk, and Spencer's small shoulder bag and jacket, which he had taken from the Noche Cubana on Saturday night, he packed on the chair in front of his desk. It was imperative that he check on the boy as soon as he came into the office.

Sighing, Derek plopped down in the chair behind his desk. He never thought a guilty conscience could get to him like this. He still felt that Savannah had best not find out about his slip with Reid. But he had to see to it that he got a grip on himself in the process.

The disaster had already started Saturday night - with his absolute failure in bed. Morgan couldn't explain to himself what had happened, but when Savannah had climbed into bed with him, his best piece simply hadn't been able to do its job. And this despite the fact that only two hours earlier he had been thinking about how to cope with the arousal that had refused to give way during the entire drive home. Savannah, it had been clear, had been quite disappointed. And so, for the second time that night, Derek had pleasured a partner with his mouth.

The whole of Sunday then seemed to revolve around the vexed subject of cheating, as if fate had wanted to punish him for not being able to keep his hands off Reid. It had all started with a call from Mira in the middle of his breakfast with Savannah. Derek had heard the loud crying on the other end of the line, even though Savannah had by no means put her cell phone on speaker. He had also overheard his girlfriend and the cheated wife talking about what should be done to cheating husbands. Morgan had had to hold on to himself not to put his hands protectively in front of his best piece, as if it could be exposed to an attack in a moment.

And the phone call had ended with Mira, the cheated wife, being generously invited to Derek's house while her husband went to get some things from their shared apartment. Derek had been relieved that the cheater had obviously moved in with his girlfriend right away. Otherwise he might still have been coerced into taking the cheated woman under his roof. So he "only" had to endure a lunch with a constantly crying Mira. He then spent most of the afternoon behind the house doing some actually unnecessary work in the garden - Savannah had in fact invited a few more friends to Mira's support and the ladies were raving in his living room about the totality of the bastards who called themselves men.

Morgan had already hoped that the time of his personal punishment would be over when the five female guests had finally left in the evening. But far from it: no sooner had he gone to bed with Savannah than the tragedy of the previous night was repeated. This time Savannah had refused to let him bring her to climax in any way. Instead, she had urged him to see a doctor when he had a chance - and to get little blue pills if necessary.

Morgan still got ice-cold now thinking about this moment. Since his dick hadn't really caused him any problems so far, its lack of willingness to work only suggested that he was blocking himself. How could a few minutes with Reid have made such a mess of his psyche?

Sensing the first voices in the open office, Morgan decided to tackle what was probably the most difficult task of the day right away. He reached for his phone and dialed Reid's extension.

"Yeah?" rang out Spencer's rather uncertain voice on the other end seconds later.

"Hey, Reid, you got two minutes for me?", Morgan tried to sound as casual as possible.

"Well ... there's no new case yet, but ... but I have ... there's a mountain of files here ...," Reid stammered.

So Spencer definitely isn't putting what happened away, Morgan thought, and then explained, "Your files aren't going anywhere, and I just need you for two minutes. Come into my office for a minute, please." He then hung up immediately to prevent Reid from trying to weasel out of the one-on-one conversation with more excuses.

Morgan actually had to wait a good five minutes before he heard a tentative knock on his door and Spencer hesitantly entered in response to his "Come in."

"Close the door, please," Morgan said, deliberately remaining seated behind his desk. Distance was something they both surely needed today.

Reid pushed the door into the lock, but stopped just beyond the threshold.

"I brought your things," Morgan offered by way of explanation for the conversation, pointing to the chair.

Reid nodded. "Thanks. You could have left them there. Juan would have kept them for me."

Morgan didn't know who this Juan was, but he just shrugged it off. "I wanted to make sure you got everything back." He hesitated for a moment, but when he saw Spencer about to grab his things, probably to leave right then, he asked, "Won't you sit down for a minute? I think we should talk."

"I don't think we should," Spencer promptly replied. "We both made a mistake, and it won't happen again," he then emphasized.

It was only at these words that Morgan realized that Reid had not looked him in the face for a second since he had entered the room. His gaze came no farther than the desk top in front of Derek.

"I agree with you about the mistake. But we still need to talk," Morgan insisted.

Spencer's fingers twitched toward his things again, but Morgan wasn't about to let the boy disappear before he had really spoken with him. He stood up and circled his desk, which immediately caused Spencer to put more distance between himself and Derek again. In doing so, however, he offered Morgan the opportunity to get between him and the office door - and simply lock it.

Morgan slid the key into his pants pocket, a move Reid followed with wide eyes. "What are you doing? Lock it back up now!" the boy demanded, now really looking at Derek for the first time.

"Not until we get a few things cleared up," Morgan said, sitting back down behind his desk.

"You do know there are already some people out there, right?" retorted Spencer threateningly. "They're guaranteed to hear if I start yelling here."

"And what are you going to tell them when they break down the door?" challenged Morgan. "That I've been keeping you here to jump you?"

At those words, all color drained from Spencer's face.

"Oh man, just sit down," Morgan groaned, giving the chair a kick from under the desk so that it rolled a few inches toward Spencer. "The sooner we get this all sorted out, the sooner you can get out of here."

Spencer hesitated for a second, then pulled the chair back a bit more and settled on the far edge of the seat. "What do you want?"

"First of all, that we keep what happened yesterday between us. Savannah, especially, can't know about it. And here, well here in the office, it's best that word doesn't get out either," Morgan explained, looking at Spencer searchingly. "Or have you told anyone yet? J.J., maybe?"

"How ... where did you get that idea? I would never ... well ... no, of course not," Reid stammered, and Morgan wondered where he'd even gotten the idea Spencer might have confided in anyone. Running around the office bragging about his conquest was truly not in his nature. And confiding in anyone at all, especially with such intimate details, was unspeakably difficult for him.

"Good, then this matter is settled," Morgan said, reassured. "I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with Savannah. The fewer people who know about us, the less chance there is of anything leaking out to her."

Morgan had thus immediately broached a second subject, but he wasn't sure if Reid was aware of it. Therefore, he explained, "I hope you realize there's not going to be a repeat."

Having gone quite pale earlier, the blush now suddenly returned to Spencer's face. The boy poked his head in, but nodded. "If you remember, it was me who didn't want any of this in the first place," he murmured softly. "You just didn't want to hear my no. I don't start anything on principle that could end in disaster."

"Are you ... are you suggesting I ... I would have ... I would have done something that you didn't ... I ... I didn't rape you!" it burst out of Morgan in horror.

Yes, he could definitely remember Reid interjecting a "please don't." But he hadn't acted like he really wanted Derek to stop.

Relieved, Morgan perceived Reid shaking his head. "No, you didn't. I should have been more emphatic that I didn't want this. I ... I couldn't say no at some point either," Reid confessed.

"It won't happen again," Morgan promised, "It would be good if we could just forget about it."

Reid nodded again, still not looking at Morgan.

Derek was relatively certain that the matter wasn't completely over. It started with Spencer not being able to look at him anymore, and went to the point that working together was certainly not going to be easy anytime soon.

"Are you going to unlock the door now?", Reid's question suddenly brought Morgan back to the present. Derek pulled the key out of his pocket and tossed it to Spencer. He would have preferred to tell the boy now that he had enjoyed their being together despite everything. But that would do more harm than good.

Reid unlocked the door and then awkwardly tried to throw the key back. Of course, it landed just beside Derek's desk instead of in his hands. But Reid didn't even seem to notice as he hurriedly left the room.

Chapter Text

No current case in sight. It also meant the team didn't have to work as closely as usual. Morgan was relieved when Hotch instructed him to join Prentiss in advising a New York detective on a profile. They had been emailed the paperwork; no trip to New York was necessary.

"Can you imagine a serial killer really wreaking havoc in one city for several years, then disappearing without a trace and reappearing a good ten years later in another city, only to kill a single person there?" inquired Emily as she read the summary of the case on which they were to consult. "We've seen stranger things," Morgan returned, pinning the photos of previous victims to a bulletin board he had managed to get into his office. "For now, though, I'd guess more of a copycat killer, too. Confirming or ruling that out must be what we're dealing with here."

Joseph Smith, the young New York detective who had asked the BAU for help, was just about to earn his first spurs, but unapologetically admitted that, at just 28, he still had too little experience to solve the case on his own. Actually, it had almost been a cold case when the file landed on his desk. The murder of a New York banker's wife was almost six months old. After heaven and hell had been set in motion to solve the murder quickly, the search for the perpetrator came to nothing when all available leads turned out to be dead ends. It was only because the New York City police commissioner now wanted to dramatically increase the rate of solving crimes committed in the city for political reasons that the case had landed on the desk of Smith, who had been a member of the New York department for barely three months.

"Let's start with the new homicide," Morgan opined, "What do we have?"

Prentiss opened the file and gave the salient facts: A banker's wife had been stabbed to death in her mansion nearly six months ago. The housecleaner had found the dead woman on a Tuesday morning and alerted the police. Suspicion had originally fallen on the husband and then on his mistress, but both had watertight alibis and the motive was rather tenuous. The couple had signed a prenuptial agreement that, in the event of a divorce, gave the husband most of the assets, since he had already brought them into the marriage. Other suspects had also been gradually excluded. These had included the banker's former gardener, whom his wife had fired, but also a young woman who had been engaged to the couple's son and whose union had been foiled by the apparently quite manipulative mother-in-law-to-be. In the end, the police were left with some highly curious leads, but no potential perpetrators.

"It was the rather distinctive leads in the murder that have now given Detective Smith the idea that the crime might be connected to a series of murders that had kept Boston in suspense for over five years," Emily explained.

"Let's stick with the current murder for now so we don't construct a connection that may not exist," Morgan said. "Pretty striking, after all, was the murder weapon that the killer left behind."

"I don't even know how to pronounce that: a d'k tahg. What exactly is that?" inquired Prentiss.

"Be glad you didn't just ask Reid that now," Morgan grinned, pushing a photo of a rather flashy dagger toward Emliy. "It is a Klingon dagger," he said.

"You mean one of those from Star Wars?"

"Just don't let Reid hear you say that!" laughed Morgan. "The Klingons are part of Star Trek, not Star Wars. Very big difference. But I'll spare you the hour-long monologue that our genius would give you for this mix-up."

"Is it a movie prop then?" echoed Emily.

Morgan shook his head. "There are plenty of fan stores that sell replicas of such weapons. Some are dummies made of rubber, but some, unfortunately, are quite real and dangerous."

In fact, Morgan considered the dagger one of the best leads available in the murder case. The weapon was so unusual that it had to say something about the unsub. And there might also be some way to determine where the dagger came from.

"Besides the dagger, what's pretty striking is that the murder happened during the day at the victim's house and that there was no break-in," Prentiss noted next. Morgan made bullet-point notes on his whiteboard to that effect. "This could indicate that the victim knew the unsub. And the unsub might have known what the daily routines were in the house: that the husband was already gone and the cleaning lady wasn't there yet," Morgan noted.

"But that's only true if the banker's wife was not an accidental victim. So the unsub was probably explicitly targeting her," Emily countered.

Morgan nodded. "That would also fit with the fact that nothing appears to have been stolen from the house. The money in the man's desk, the woman's jewelry, a coin collection - it's all still there."

The circumstantial evidence all pointed to this being a planned murder, executed with precision.

"Just looking at these clues, I would say we're dealing with a highly organized perpetrator who probably hasn't killed for the first time," Morgan concluded. "He knows how to operate without leaving any useful clues, takes ample time to prepare thoroughly, and was either known to the victim or trustworthy enough that the victim let him into the house."

The only thing that puzzled Derek was the dagger. Why would such a deliberate perpetrator use such a distinctive weapon and then leave it at the scene?

Emily seemed to have come to the same conclusion, as she looked closely at the picture of the dagger. "Where would anyone get the idea to use something like that?"

Morgan shook her head. "I don't know. But I'd say that thing is probably part of our unsub's signature. Where's Reid, anyway, when you need him? And why didn't Hotch assign him to this profile as well. He must have known that our boy wonder could be helpful here with his extraordinary knowledge."

"Oh, I'm afraid Spencer is fully occupied," Prentiss suddenly chuckled. "Hotch didn't think your idea of Reid assigning the female students to other agents and keeping them busy with nonsensical tasks was all that bright. Now he's instructed him to work with the three of them over the next few days to catch up on unsolved old cases and reprofile them. They've been sitting in the conference room all morning. And as loud as it keeps getting in there, the girls either don't care what Reid tells them, or he's trying to shout them into the ground."

Morgan raised his eyebrows. Reid locked up with no escape with the three graces: surely this could only spell disaster. "Why is Hotch doing this to him."

"You know Hotch doesn't believe in resting in one's comfort zone. And let's face it, there would be so much potential in Reid. But if he doesn't learn how to deal with other people, he'll never get ahead on the career ladder, no matter how smart he is."

It almost wanted to burst out of Morgan that Reid, when the circumstances were right, could very well interact well with those around him. But he had, after all, promised silence. Normally, he would have at least tried to get the boy some time off from the goose circus during his lunch break now, but under the circumstances, there was no way it was wise to go anywhere alone with Reid. While Morgan was sure he had himself under control, he didn't want to give the temptation a chance.

"We should still ask him about the dagger later. Maybe he can give us some helpful info on that," Morgan said, then turned back to his bulletin board. "Now for the old murder cases: What do we have?"

Chapter Text

Overnight, assisting the New York Police Department with a profile had turned into a detailed consultation. The next morning, after Morgan and Prentiss had created the profile and submitted it to Detective Smith, the latter had promptly formally requested the BAU's assistance in solving the case. The young detective felt that the case was out of his league. It had not been clear from the profile whether the latest murder was a copycat or the same perpetrator as in Boston. In any case, the fact that the unsub was probably a man in his forties who had experience in killing and who had used the same weapon left behind in some of the Boston cases suggested that a serial killer had become active again after some time.

The Klingon dagger was the most conspicuous clue so far, so Morgan now decided to ask Reid for help. The boy had barricaded himself back in the briefing room with his female students earlier that morning. And surprisingly, things were quieter there today than they had been the past two days. Maybe he was finally getting the hang of how to handle the girls? But now, as Morgan let his eyes wander over the glass wall, he saw only two of the students there, but no Spencer.

Certainly he's getting coffee again, Morgan thought to himself, and made his way to the kitchen. Maybe it was even good to meet the boy on neutral ground, but still without witnesses. The past two days they had thoroughly avoided each other, but it couldn't go on like this. It would be a shame if their friendship broke up over something that couldn't even be called an affair or a one-night stand.

Morgan returned to his own office briefly, grabbed his coffee cup to have a valid reason to visit the kitchen, and then made his way there. He frowned when he saw that the kitchen door was closed. Normally it was always open, unless someone was using the small space for a private conversation or phone call. Sure enough, Derek could hear what sounded like a soft chuckle. He hesitated for a moment, but then pushed down the handle and slowly pushed the door open.

As if rooted to the spot, Morgan stopped in the doorway. There was no way he had expected this. Leaning against the kitchen counter diagonally in front of him was Reid. And directly in front of him was the missing student. She had her fingers buried in Reid's hair, and even though Morgan couldn't see it clearly, the two seemed engrossed in a passionate kiss.

Morgan immediately pulled the door shut and returned to his office in a daze. What had that been now? Since when did Reid just kiss random girls in the office? Since when did he kiss girls at all? Since when did Reid the FBI agent bring Reid the dancer into the workplace?

Morgan slumped down in his chair and contemplated the empty coffee cup thoughtfully. Had Reid completely misunderstood any advice he'd given him about female students or about dealing with women in general? Flirting, yes, that helped if you wanted to get anywhere with women. But where did the boy get the idea to just make out? And with a girl who was about ten years younger than him and didn't even have that much IQ?

But in the next moment he realized that he himself was eight years older than Reid and that this had not stopped him from making out or doing something else with him.

Still, there was something completely abstruse about the whole situation. Apart from the kiss in the pool with the actress Lila, he could not remember a single moment when Reid had acted in any way other than a purely professional manner in a professional context. He was always matter-of-fact and sober; flirtation or even something like lust had no place with him in the work environment. But no sooner had he discovered that Spencer had another side, one that was sexy, that attracted men as well as women like light attracts moths, than that side suddenly appeared somehow in the office.

Well, Reid had at least made sure the kitchen door was closed, but just how much privacy that had provided had just become obvious. Morgan couldn't imagine that Reid had had a fling or two with a female colleague - or even a male colleague - before. Surely he would have found out somehow. So why this completely new development?

Shaking his head, Morgan stood up. The fact that he had to think about Reid all the time wasn't good either. He urgently had to put a stop to that. But now he had no choice but to see if the boy had finished kissing in the kitchen. He needed him for that dagger.

When Morgan returned to the kitchen, to his great relief, the door was open again and Reid was still there - but now without the student.

"Hey, Reid, can I bother you for a minute?" inquired Morgan as he set his coffee cup down on the counter. He tried to appear as composed as possible as he did so.

"I guess it depends on what you want," Spencer mumbled, not looking up from his cup, into which he was scooping spoonful after spoonful of sugar.

"You know I'm consulting with Prentiss on the New York Police Department. I could use your help on the murder weapon," Morgan explained.

Reid paused and stared at his cup as if he were mentally counting whether he had sunk ten or eleven spoonfuls of sugar into it. "You usually know more about guns than I do. If you need stats, send me an email with the exact info and I'll put together what I have on that."

Reid reached for the cup without looking at Morgan and tried to worm his way past him out of the kitchen. But Morgan would not allow it. "I don't need statistics, I need your expertise. And besides, I want my friend back."

Spencer shook his head. "I can't do that right now. I need some space." Again, he took a step toward the door - head still bowed - but Morgan blocked his path. "Then at least be professional," he snapped at him. "From me, you want distance and refuse to support me, and here you are making out with this girl. Maybe you better keep your distance from her too. I don't even recognize you!"

Startled, Reid did look up now. "That ... that's what you ..."

"Oh yeah, I saw that. Just be glad it wasn't Hotch who went to get coffee. That would have made a nice telling off."

"It's not like I'm seducing a minor," Spencer interjected defiantly. "And none of this is any of your business anyway."

"But it is my business when I need your knowledge for a case and you can't think about work anymore because of all the little hearts in your eyes," Morgan burst out, glaring angrily at Reid.

"Hey, you two, what's going on?" suddenly inquired Emily, who had stepped up to the kitchen door unnoticed by the two of them.

"Nothing," Reid immediately returned.

"He’s refusing to work," Morgan promptly replied.

And immediately he felt Reid's annoyed gaze on him.

"That sounds like pretty thick air," Emily commented, and it was obvious that she was wondering whether she should try to mediate or whether it was better to just back off.

But Reid took that decision away from her. "I don't have a lot of time. Morgan said you guys need my help with some weapon. What's it about?" the boy inquired, turning his back on Morgan, much to the latter's chagrin.

"Um ... well ... the current murder victim and also several killed in an older case were killed with a Kling dagger. You know your way around the fan scene. Maybe you have some information that can help us?" Prentiss said cautiously. She sensed all too clearly that the two men were as sensitive as two live explosive devices.

"Klingon it is," Morgan corrected, trying to regain some control of himself. He didn't quite understand himself why he was letting Reid get him so worked up right now.

But the boy didn't respond to him at all, instead focusing completely on Prentiss. "How do you know the murder weapon is a Klingon dagger?" he inquired. He took a few steps toward Emily, thereby motioning her to leave the kitchen. Without turning back to Morgan, he followed her to her desk.

"The unsub left the weapon behind. It was the same in the previous murders in the last four cases. The evidence suggests that, in addition, two other murders from the earlier series were committed with a similar weapon. But it wasn't found at the time," Emily explained. She handed Reid the file, which had the picture of the dagger on top.

"Yes, that is definitely a d'k tahg," Spencer immediately confirmed. "That's a knife that's sort of standard equipment for any Klingon warrior. See the two blades on the side? Those can be folded in when the knife is put in a sheath. "Do you happen to have any pictures of the other side of the dagger?"

Prentiss shook his head. "That's the only shot. Why? Should the other side look different?"

"Well, I don't see any engraving here. Usually, the emblem of a Klingon's house and his personal insignia are engraved above the handle. With professional suppliers of such fan items, you can usually have a personal mark or initials engraved as well," Reid explained, studying the photograph closely. But clearly there was nothing at all to be seen, at least on the visible side of the dagger.

"What else may be interesting for your case: The dagger has three central uses. On the one hand, it is a ritual weapon used in various ceremonies, such as weddings. On the other hand, it is also used by assassins and in suicide rituals. What is strange: If a Klingon loses his D'k tahg, he actually loses his honor as well. In that respect, it begs the question of what the unsub is trying to express by leaving the weapon at the scene."

"Spencer Reid, the walking Star Trek encyclopedia," Prentiss grinned. "Morgan was right: Hotch definitely should have had you on this case."

"I'm pretty busy with the cold cases and the three students, too," Reid said defensively. And Morgan thought he heard some pride come out as he continued, "Besides, we're making progress: We can probably reopen two of the old cases and maybe clear them up because we've found weaknesses in the profile."

"Say, you're turning into a goose whisperer," Emily laughed, winking at Reid. It didn't escape Morgan's notice that the boy immediately blushed. And he could only imagine why. At least with one of the goslings, his efforts definitely went beyond whispering.

"Back to the dagger," Morgan grumbled a bit sullenly. "Where do you get weapons like that? Are there many stores and manufacturers, or are such weapons rather rare?"

Prentiss gave Morgan a sharp look and frowned. Yes, he knew he wasn't exactly friendly. But then, she didn't know what he had observed before. If she did, maybe she wouldn't joke with Reid about the students now, either.

Without looking at Morgan, Reid replied, "You can get dummies in any fan store, but real, sharpened blades are rather rare - and, above all, expensive. Good replicas can cost 200 to 300 dollars, and some have even been auctioned off for several thousand dollars. They are mostly handmade by blacksmiths who have specialized in replicas of historical swords and film weapons. And there is only a manageable amount of them, at least if the dagger is not too old. Before the turn of the millennium, the Star Trek hype was much bigger than it is today. I'm sure more weapons like that were made and circulated then, too."

"Can't I just swap you out for Morgan on this one?" inquired Prentiss, visibly impressed by Spencer's fan knowledge. "He's too grumpy for me today anyway. Besides, I'm sure he'll love dealing with your students."

"Reid already has the students pretty well covered. Don't you, Reid?" teased Morgan. Every time he thought about Spencer and the girl in the kitchen, anger boiled up inside him again. "I'll go to Garcia and ask her if she can put together a list of relevant vendors of these weapons for us." With that, he turned on his heel and rushed off. Behind him, he could still hear Emily asking Reid, "What's wrong with him now? He was normal this morning, wasn't he?"

Chapter Text

"Hey, what's the hottest computer whisperer in the whole FBI doing right now?" asked Morgan as he poked his head into Garcia's cubbyhole.

"Boring review of various financial transactions - so far," Garcia returned. She spun around in her chair and grinned cheekily at Morgan. "But when my computers pick up your vibes, they're about to show me nothing but hot love, instead of cold facts and figures. What, my Adonis, brings you to me?"

"A research assignment," Morgan said, leaning against the table next to Penelope's seat. "And maybe a little need for conversation."

"Oooh!", Garcia's eyes widened. "Quickly give me the search parameters for my underpowered computers. And then you'll have all my concentration right now."

Morgan briefly explained which dealers Garcia should be looking for as she turned back to her monitors. Penelope was typing away on her keyboard. "At least that's an exciting search assignment. I'm curious to see what comes up. I'm sure a Klingon dagger like that would look good on you, my fiery warrior."

"I'd rather stick to my Glock and fists. Knives aren't really my thing," Morgan returned, glancing over Penelope's shoulder.

"True. Actually, you're already so sharp yourself, there's no need for a blade."

Morgan grinned. "And extremely pointy and hard as steel I am sometimes too," he flirted back, running his fingers over Penelope's arm.

"You're making a poor girl all weak," the latter breathed back, then pressed the Enter button emphatically.

"The search is on," she declared, turning back to Morgan. "Now sit down and tell me what else drove you to me."

Morgan hesitated for a moment. He wasn't quite sure himself about how much he wanted to tell Penelope. Only that he probably needed her to get his head in order, he was pretty sure.

"Do you remember our conversation recently when I told you about my dream?"

Garcia just nodded and remained silent.

"You made such strange insinuations. Well, by now I know where you were going with it. And ... and you're probably right about that. Reid has become an extreme distraction for me because I ... well because I find him kind of sexy as hell and ... man, it's not easy ..."

"Don't torture yourself with long explanations," Garcia said, looking at him sympathetically. "At this point, there's only two choices. Which is it? Sex or love?"

"Sex," Morgan shot out immediately. "I had another ... another dream. Pretty erotic. And at the dance lesson last weekend ..."

Garcia's eyes snapped open as Morgan left the sentence unfinished. "Does that mean ...?"

"No ... well ... it kind of does. I ... let me put it this way: I still kept my pants on."

From the look on Garcia's face, Morgan could clearly tell that "Reid didn't have his on anymore," had gotten through to her even without words.

"I'd ask now if it was nice, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you didn't come to me to report on a successful adventure."

Morgan was already glad Garcia hadn't immediately reminded him that he had a girlfriend he'd cheated on last weekend. But how could it be that this woman, who wasn't a profiler at all, always hit the nail on the head like that when it came to him?

"I told him that was a mistake that can't happen again. And that seemed to be right up his alley," Morgan said. "But now ... he ... Reid is suddenly acting so different."

"What do you mean? Is he not talking to you anymore? Is he avoiding you?"

"All that, and more."

Morgan hesitated.

"It could be that I caught him pretty off guard. He ... he didn't want this. So, don't get me wrong. There ... there was nothing against his express will. I didn't take him ..."

"Derek," Garcia interrupted him, "I know for a fact that you would have stopped whatever there was going on immediately if Spencer had said no."

Morgan exhaled in relief. "Still, I probably pushed him to do something he didn't want to do. And all this that came after, it confuses me even more. I ... I caught Reid ... with one of the students ... making out in the kitchen."

"You what?" inquired Garcia. Her eyes grew wide and her voice climbed an octave. "Our Spencer? Was making out here in the office? Possibly with tongue, too, or what?"

"Well, I didn't really want to know that much. I left right away," Morgan returned, but had to grin when he thought of what Garcia's first thought was at that opening. "But that's so unlike him. And now I was wondering if I was the catalyst for that. Did I say anything that Reid now thinks he needs to start kissing every girl here? Or even worse, is the girl maybe the reason he didn't want to start something with me? And did I possibly jeopardize something that is about to start? Or ... or is Reid's hidden side just suddenly coming through here in the office too? After all, I saw him making out with a man at the club. Is he maybe not really serious about any of them? And if so ... why ... why ..."

"Then why doesn't he want anything from you? Morgan, are you worried about Reid here, or are you talking about a bruised ego because for once there's someone who doesn't want to get in the sack with you?"

That hurt! And Morgan feared he felt hurt, because Garcia had once again hit a sore spot.

"I don't know," he confessed, "I just know that at times I'd like to turn back the clock to prevent myself from ever knowing about this other side of Reid. And the next minute, I know I wouldn't if I had the chance."

Garcia nodded. "And you want advice from me now on what to do?"

"It would be brilliant if you had a solution ready. But with this mess ..."

"I'll give you some advice - actually, the same advice I gave you last time: You'll have to come up with the solution yourself. But my advice is to first realize how serious you are about Savannah. Because she doesn't deserve to have you constantly worrying about a possible affair with a co-worker."

Those were harsh words, but Morgan knew it was the only advice that really made sense.

"Savannah is important to me," he explained.

"People can matter to you in very different ways. You're infinitely important to me, but I'd know I had a problem if I started thinking about you in my shower when I'm sitting on the couch with Kevin."

Morgan nodded. "Understood. But could you still do me a favor?"

"Like what?"

"Can you find out what's going on between Reid and this girl? He can't be so shallow that he's hooking up with someone else every few days or weeks."

Garcia laughed. "You get clear on your relationship with Savannah first. After that, if you still care about Reid's relationship status, then I'll see what I can do for you. Now get the hell out of here. My computers and I, we want some time alone."

"Thanks, baby girl," Morgan smiled and turned toward the door. "You already know you're the best, don't you?" he was still throwing back over his shoulder as he left the room.

Chapter Text

Thoughtfully, Morgan looked at the flowers he held in his hand. Now that he was just outside his front door, he wondered why he had bought the “vegetables” in the first place. Giving Savannah flowers in the middle of the week - something he'd never done before - was hardly the way to rekindle their relationship, which had been somewhat on the back burner in recent weeks. Hell, neither would it do much to assuage his guilty conscience, nor accomplish much with Savannah. But before Morgan could even think about where best to dispose of the flowers, the front door opened and Clooney came dashing out.

"What's taking you so long today?" greeted him Savannah, who appeared in the doorway. "Clooney's been panting his heart out behind that door forever."

Betrayed by the dog, such a thing could only happen to him. Of course, Clooney had heard his car and was looking forward to him coming home. Savannah - well, she didn't look particularly pleased.

"Flowers? Where did you get these?" she inquired as she eyed the bouquet suspiciously.

"Um...the...I want to take them to Penelope later," Morgan produced the first explanation that came to mind." Savannah's look had dispelled the last doubts that flowers would make her suspicious rather than particularly friendly.

"Is it her birthday? I thought it was a couple of weeks ago."

Damn, did women always have to be so attentive when they didn't need to be?

"No, she was helping me. With my computer. I caught a nasty virus there. The flowers are supposed to be a thank you."

"Well, I guess she'll try dieting again. I told her before that these diets don't work. Diet change is the magic word," Savannah muttered as she walked back into the house.

Morgan followed her, Clooney in tow. "Why would Penelope go on a diet?" he asked, confused.

"Well, because you're not giving her anything sweet. Or is there some other reason why flowers are suddenly in style?" Again, he thought he heard suspicion in Savannah's voice. Yet he had thought it was quite clear that Penelope was his best friend, but that there would never be anything more between them.

He shrugged, trying to seem unsuspicious. "I just thought flowers would be a nice change."

"And why didn't you give them to her right there in the office, or stop by her place afterwards?" asked Savannah as she plopped down on the couch in the living room and gave Morgan a searching look.

"What's with the interrogation?" inquired Morgan, frowning. "If you must know, I had to get the flowers first and she was going to meet a friend for shopping after work. So she's not home yet. That's why I came here first."

One lie after another, it occurred to Morgan. Hopefully he could remember it all. And hopefully Savannah would forget it all real quick. Not that she was still going to ask Garcia about the virus at the next opportunity.

Savannah gave him a less than enthusiastic look. "You've been acting pretty strange lately. So I guess it's okay to ask."

Morgan turned on his heel. "If you're going to keep tabs on my every move, I'm going to go to the kitchen and put the flowers in water. Then I'm going for a jog and, when I get back, I'm going to Garcia's," he called over his shoulder. Actually, he did want to spend time with Savannah and make up for the fact that things hadn't been so great lately. But she really wasn't making it easy for him.

"I actually had a surprise planned for Saturday, but maybe I should ask you first if that's even okay with you," Morgan explained as he stopped back in the living room on his way back from the kitchen to the bedroom.

Savannah sighed and stood up. "Sorry, I'm not being very fair to you right now. I've had a busy day, and you got me off on the wrong foot with the flowers." She pressed a light kiss to Morgan's lips as she stood in front of him. "Just surprise me. Only tell me beforehand when you want me to take my time and if there's anything I need to do to prepare for your surprise."

Morgan pulled Savannah into his arms. "That makes me like my girl a lot more," he murmured against her lips before kissing her. "Are you coming for a jog?"

Savannah hesitated for a moment, but then agreed. And Morgan finally felt like he was starting to get a handle on the situation. The only thing he had to get rid of later were the darn flowers. The small thought that sprouted in the back of his mind, whether he should perhaps apologize to Reid with the flowers, he immediately suppressed again.

Chapter Text

For the umpteenth time since getting into his car after duty, Morgan wondered what drove him to come here. Once again, he stood in front of a door and wondered whether he should open it or turn back. But then he reached for the handle anyway and found that the back entrance to Noche Cubana was open. It was Friday, just before 7 p.m. He had almost gotten used to the fact that this evening belonged to dance lessons with Reid. And this new habit had driven him to come here now, even though he'd barely exchanged a friendly word with Spencer all week. They had stayed out of each other's way as much as they could, and by now it was clear to the whole team that there was trouble between them. Only the why - as far as Morgan knew - was known to no one but Penelope. Morgan wondered how long this weird state of affairs between them would last before Hotch stepped in and tried to figure out where this animosity was coming from.

Maybe that was one of the reasons that brought him to Noche Cubana today. The tense situation between them had to come to an end, or cooperation throughout the team was at stake. The team functioned so well precisely because they all understood each other so excellently, trusted each other, took each other's weaknesses into account and used each other's strengths. But at the moment, it felt like an explosive device was about to go off as soon as he was in the same room with Reid. And Morgan knew that was on him, too.

Slowly, Morgan climbed the stairs to the top floor. He could hear soft music. So Reid was indeed there. The only question was whether he was alone. And whether he wanted to see him.

The door to the exercise room was ajar. Morgan had learned and, to be on the safe side, knocked clearly audibly before pushing the door open further. Looking around, he first thought the small room was empty, but then he perceived movement out of the corner of his eye. But the person approaching Morgan from the side was not Spencer.

"You're Derek, aren't you?" the Latino inquired. And Morgan recognized him immediately. It was José, the man who led dance introductions on Saturdays - and Reid's lover.

"Yeah," Morgan returned hesitantly. "I'm looking for Spencer." He held back on further comment. He would surely learn in a moment whether Reid had sent his lover ahead to show him boundaries, or possibly still tried to teach him a lesson for making a pass at his lover. Or maybe Reid just wanted to signal to him that the dance lessons were coming to an end. At the very least, Morgan didn't think Jose was here by chance. Rather, it seemed as if he had been expecting him.

And that's exactly what the Latino's words confirmed at the same moment: "Spencer's not coming. He asked me to wait for you in case you showed up."

"He could have just called me or sent me a message," Morgan grumbled, "Then we both could have saved ourselves some time."

José shrugged. "I would have been here in short order anyway. And a little practice can't hurt me, either."

Morgan was about to turn on his heel, but his counterpart's words confused him. "Practice? Do you want me to practice beating someone's face in?" hissed Morgan. "I wouldn't advise it. It would end badly for you. I'm out of here. And you're welcome to tell Spencer he doesn't have to send you back here next week."

The Latino let out a deep laugh, but at the same time cautiously took a few steps back from Morgan, as if he feared the latter was about to lunge at him. " I don't know what kind of problems you two are having with each other right now, but Spencer asked me to take over your dance lessons if you came over. He thought you might be serious about it after all, and didn't want to leave you hanging."

Morgan groaned. And the boy couldn't think of anything better to do than sic his lover on him? Was this supposed to be punishment or torture now? Surely Reid should have figured he wouldn't go along with it.

"The dance lessons are between Reid and me. If I wanted any dance lessons, I would have gone to some dance school," Morgan returned. And he almost wished José would follow up on what there was between him and Reid besides the dance lessons. Spencer apparently hadn't informed his lover about the events of the previous Saturday. But Morgan was itching to give the man a clear hint that Reid was not his alone.

"That's what I told him, too. But you probably know that it's important to Spencer to keep his promises. And he probably promised to teach you how we dance here. You should have realized by now that this isn't the usual dance school material."

José turned away. "Then I'll tell him you don't want any more lessons."

Morgan felt a quiet twinge in his heart. That wasn't true at all. He still wanted to keep coming to lessons. But he wanted Reid as a teacher. He had told Spencer some time ago that he was serious about learning to dance. And that was still true.

"I don't want to stop," Morgan called after José before he could stop himself. "But Reid is my teacher, not you."

"Your call. Spencer's not coming today. And how that's going to be in the future, we haven't talked about that."

Morgan felt torn. It almost looked like Reid hadn't completely pushed the dance lessons off on José yet. If he had, he probably would have told him right away. But if he himself backed out now, that would probably be final. But settling for the Latino as dance instructor was something Morgan was reluctant to do. There was no way he would stick it out if the latter's teaching methods looked like Spencer's. He'd rather have José a mile away than within reach of his arms.

"I don't know if I can do that with another dance instructor. I tried one of your introductions. Nothing came out of that," Morgan tried another tactic. Maybe José would back down, leaving a void that only Reid could fill.

"These are not lessons. These are step instructions so the clueless can venture onto the dance floor while not completely ruining the fun for the rest of the attendees by stepping on everyone's toes or constantly asking how to dance this step or that step," José shot back, turning back to Morgan. "Reid said you weren't completely untalented. If that's true, then you'll learn when I teach you, too."

Damn, the man knew exactly how to choose his words so as not to give him an out. A refusal now would be tantamount to saying he didn't think he had enough talent. Morgan cursed his pride, which drove him not to simply ignore such a challenge. "Okay, then we'll give it a try. But if this doesn't work, then Reid will take over again."

"I can't promise you that," José immediately objected. "But if it doesn't work, I'll definitely tell Reid that he would be a better teacher for you."

Morgan didn't know whether to wish that the lesson he'd now just gotten himself into with José would be a disaster, or whether he hoped to confirm some measure of talent. The only thing that was clear to him was that he would not sabotage his own success. Nor could he reconcile that with his own pride.

Morgan tossed his jacket on a chair at the wall and stepped into the center of the room. "Let's do it, then. I suppose you're up to something again after 8:00, too."

---

"Where'd you leave Spencer?" inquired Sandra with a grin as Morgan approached the small group made up of Spencer's friends. "Did you dance him into the ground today, or is he completely desperate because you don't get what he's showing you?"

Morgan wondered if it had been wise to come to the club after the dance lesson, too. Yes, he had hoped to find Spencer here. But he might have guessed that the boy wouldn't show up here today either. And now he had to come up with a way to explain Spencer's absence.

"Spencer's not here today. José took over my lesson," Morgan explained briefly. And immediately followed up with, "Can you maybe arrange for us to get two or three cha chas and rumbas in a row so I can practice with you?" If he distracted the girl thoroughly, she might forget further questions about Spencer.

"I'll see what I can do," Sandra nodded and immediately headed for the DJ.

"You don't look happy today," one of the men Reid was friends with commented as he stepped up next to Morgan. Derek pondered for a moment. Mario? Was that his name? "I've had better days," he returned without going into details. It surprised him that the man had approached him at all. So far, he had only exchanged a few words with Reid's friends, some of whom he wasn't even sure spoke English. At least with Reid, everyone here spoke Spanish.

"Aren't you getting anywhere with your lessons?" asked Mario - Morgan now mentally just called him that - looking at him curiously.

"José tried it with me today. He wanted to teach me something that is probably called promenade. You could say that afterwards he was as frustrated as I was. I kept getting the forward and back steps mixed up, and the transitions to and from the basic step didn't work either."

Morgan had truly not provoked this poor outcome of the dance lesson, but he had not been able to concentrate properly on the one hand, and on the other hand, the lesson had seemed so emotionless that he had not been able to develop motivation and thus a willingness to learn. Somehow he hoped now that it would work out a little better with Sandra, whom he really liked, than with José, whom he would have liked to send to the moon.

"Everyone has their own methods of learning something, but also of getting something across," Mario said. "Spencer, as far as I know, is a little unconventional about that - which is why he doesn't really give lessons to beginners anymore. But if you learn better with him, I'm sure he'll explain everything again next week. Or should I try to show you the step again?"

Morgan really had to wonder about the offer. He could still remember being looked at highly suspiciously when he had first shown up at the group with Reid. But apparently people accepted him now, even though they didn't know him at all. Reid obviously had a very good nose for which people were best to surround himself with.

"Thanks for the offer. I just don't know if it'll do any good," Morgan returned as Sandra rejoined.

"We're about to get the dances," the girl explained.

"He's having trouble with the promenade," Mario said immediately. "He learned it today, but seems to be getting his feet mixed up. Stay here on the edge. I'll take a look and try to help direct a bit."

Sandra nodded as if there was nothing at all unfamiliar about receiving directions from the sidelines.

"That's really not necessary," Morgan tried to object, but Mario didn't respond and Sandra pulled him onto the floor at that moment.

"Rumba, we'll get two in a row, then two Cha Cha," she said, then waited for Morgan to take action.

"Try this sequence," she instructed him when he finally got into dancing posture and started with the first basic steps. "A couple of basic steps, then solo spin, again one or two basic steps and then promenade, two or three repetitions and then back to the basic step."

Morgan nodded, but it all sounded confusing, like instructions written in a language he didn't know.

"Is there anything else coming today?" inquired Sandra as he did one basic step after another and couldn't bring himself to lead her into any other step.

"Actually, there is, I just don't know when to start," he admitted.

"Now would be a good time, otherwise the song will be over before you've even made any attempt."

Morgan concentrated. At least Sandra was more familiar to him than José, and he wouldn't feel so foolish if he made mistakes with her.

Solo spin. Morgan put on, raised his arm - it worked.

Again. The spin worked again.

A third time.

"Enough spinning, your lady wants variety. Go on, I dare you!", Sandra encouraged him.

Okay, how was that? Arms down so the lady knew it was off to the promenade.

Well, his lady got it right away - only his own feet didn't. Instead of going into the promenade, Morgan had promptly continued dancing the basic step.

Sandra stopped. "Again from the beginning, but this time without spins," she commanded.

Morgan was already aware: this was going to be a miserably long couple of dances!

Chapter Text

The dinner had gone wonderfully. Morgan was most pleased with himself. He had found a fancy new restaurant that offered excellent Japanese cuisine. Not the sushi rolls you know from any fast food joint, but beautifully arranged, almost decorated plates of the finest pieces of fish, different varieties of seaweed and sprout salad, and accompanying fruity drinks with a hint of alcohol, stimulating but not intoxicating. The dessert, green ice cream and fruit bites, had also been excellent. The restaurant could really be recommended. Not only because of the excellent cuisine, but also because of the ambience. It had an authentic feel: Each table stood in a small alcove, framed on three sides by screens decorated with fine paintings. Unobtrusive Japanese music sounded in the background, and overall it was very quiet in the restaurant. One really had the feeling of being an exclusive guest around whom everything revolved.

"I had almost forgotten that you can be terribly romantic," Savannah commented as she sipped her glass of rice wine that they were enjoying to finish off. "We haven't had a date like this in ages."

"I know it's been stressful lately and I kind of haven't had the energy for something like this. But we should definitely leave more room for that in the future," Morgan returned with satisfaction. "And another thing I should make time for more often: I have to tell you that you look beautiful. If the other guests could see us here, I bet I'd get all kinds of envious looks for having you by my side."

"You sweet-talker!" scolded Savannah, smiling at him. "I'm sure the women here would envy me, too."

She reached for his hand and stroked her fingers over his. But when she circled her index finger around his ring finger several times, he felt queasy. Was she just thinking about a ring that wasn't there? Had he overdone it with the romance and was she now expecting a marriage proposal?

Carefully, he withdrew his hands from her, but then pulled her over to him with one hand on the back of her neck to kiss her. "My star," he murmured against her lips, "like today, this is how it should always be."

Savannah returned the kiss passionately. Either she had understood the message and had no problem with it, or he had just successfully distracted her from any possible thoughts of rings and marriage. Either way, he was back in safe waters.

"Should we leave now?" he inquired.

"It's so early, not even 9:00 yet. Could it be that you have something else planned?"

Morgan grinned. "This was just the entree, so to speak. The bigger surprise is yet to come," he replied mysteriously before beckoning the waiter to join him.

---

Morgan knew there was a bit of a risk in taking Savannah to Noche Cubana for a third time. But he had decided that he wanted to revisit the thought that had kept him coming back here - along with Reid's second personality - after the first disastrous evening: it was time he showed Savannah that he was learning to dance by now.

Granted, he hadn't mastered that many dances and figures yet, but Sandra and Mario had really helped him yesterday to get the promenade somewhat in order. And with that he could at least show two figures besides a pretty good basic step in Rumba and Cha Cha. That should be enough to impress Savannah with, even more so where Sandra had praised how excellent his basic steps were by now.

"What are we doing here?" inquired Savannah suspiciously when she saw Morgan parked not far from the dance club.

"Let me surprise you, my angel," Morgan crooned before getting out, walking quickly around the car, and holding the door open for Savannah like the perfect gentleman.

"It's nice of you to bring me here so I can dance, but I had something else in mind for a continuation of our romantic evening," she returned, somewhat scowling. "After all, I want to spend time with you, not dance with other men."

"Wait and see," was all Morgan said, putting his arm around Savannah's waist and maneuvering her toward the entrance.

He had deliberately timed it so that the dance introduction would be over by the time they arrived. For one thing, he didn't want to struggle with it, and for another, he could hope that way he wouldn't run into José.

A small voice in the back of his head asked him if he hoped to run into Reid instead. But he immediately pushed that voice away. The evening belonged to Savannah. And he wanted to show her that he might not do everything for her, but he would do quite a bit - even learn to dance.

The club was well filled, as was usually the case on Saturday nights, the crowd quite mixed: on the one hand the usual party crowd, on the other hand also quite a few of the regulars, some of whom he knew by now at least by sight.

"Hey, Derek, I wasn't expecting you today," Jonas greeted him as he walked Savannah to the bar and organized a stool for her.

Savannah's eyes immediately narrowed to little slits. She was no fool, and had noticed immediately that he was on far too familiar terms with the bartender to have known him only from their two brief visits together. But Derek tried to distract her a little longer. "I need the best cocktail you can coax out of your bar here for my girlfriend," Derek explained, giving Savannah a bright smile. "Fiery yet sweet, spicy yet full of harmony - just like my sweetheart it should be," he said, holding Savannah's gaze. What Reid had instilled in him for the dance floor could definitely be put to great use off it.

Jonas grinned. "I'll work some magic for you lovebirds, then."

"Derek, what's this all about?" inquired Savannah. "And how do you know the bartender? I don't remember you two being on such friendly terms the last time we were here."

"You'll have to let me keep a few secrets, my sweet," Morgan murmured in Savannah's ear. And at that he felt a slight tremor in the hand he held in his. "But I will reveal one of the secrets to you today."

Savannah's eyes narrowed slightly. She was clearly suspicious and not sure the surprise would be any good.

"You wait here, please, I have to do something quickly," Derek told her, kissing her briefly and then leaving her at the bar. He'd never spoken to the DJ himself, but if he called on Reid, surely he'd be persuaded to play a few cha chas and rumbas in a row. And maybe he could even talk him into playing "Time after time," one of Savannah's favorite songs.

And indeed, Spencer's name worked wonders. The DJ, a twentysomething named Marco, had in fact seen Derek with Spencer a couple of times before, so it didn't take much persuasion to place a song sequence of five songs, cha cha and rumba in rotation.

"Ready for my little surprise?" inquired Derek as he stepped up to Savannah and saw that Jonas had since placed their cocktails on the counter.

"If only you'd finally tell me what it's about," Savannah replied, "then I could also tell you if I'm up for it - or if I'd rather take flight."

Morgan listened for a moment, the current song slowly coming to an end.

"Come on, let's dance," he prompted Savannah, unceremoniously pulling her off her stool before she could resist.

"Derek, spare us both this ordeal. I admit defeat: you're not a dancer, and you don't seem to have the talent to learn to dance. Don't torture either of us with another attempt."

But Morgan shook his head. "I was talking about a surprise, not torture. There's a cha cha coming up. Show me you still remember how that one goes."

Savannah's eyes widened at this challenge. But Morgan gave her no more time to think much about excuses. He pulled her into the midst of the dancers who were listening to the first bars of the new song, got into a dancing posture as professionally as he had learned from Reid, and looked Savannah firmly in the eye. In his mind, he counted out a beat before beginning his basic step. Savannah followed immediately and a small smile crept onto Morgan's lips. The first hurdle had been cleared.

The Cha Cha went excellently. Morgan was even pleased with his promenades, a figure Savannah blocked on the first two attempts because she didn't know it yet. But on the third try, she let herself be pulled along and quickly copied from him what she needed to do. Highly concentrated as Savannah was, she even forgot to ask where the dancing skills suddenly came from.

Finally, during the second rumba, the last dance in the sequence, Savannah literally melted in his arms. Derek almost had the impression that they would be making their way home pretty quickly. He had, as he had learned from Spencer, not taken his eyes off Savannah for a moment and had given her unmistakably fiery looks. And by now she was returning them - with a promise of more once they were alone.

When the last bars finally faded, Derek escorted Savannah, also following Spencer's example, back from the dance floor to the bar in perfect gentlemanly fashion.

Savannah took a sip of her cocktail before turning to him.

"Where is this coming from all of a sudden?" she finally wanted to know. "Last time I saw you, you were still stomping on my feet all the time. And now ... wow ... now you're suddenly so good ... and so sexy." She literally purred as she said it.

Morgan grinned. "That'll be my little secret. But I hope you enjoyed this surprise."

Savannah wrapped her arms around his neck. "Do you want me to show you how much I enjoyed it?" she asked, then didn't give him time to answer at all, but kissed him passionately.

"You can show me more of that," Derek murmured against her lips as she gave him some space to do so again.

"¡Oye, imbécil! No es suficiente que te cueles aquí con demasiada frecuencia y arruines todo. ¿Tienes que arrastrar a esta perra aquí también?"[1], a voice suddenly hissed behind him. And when Morgan turned around there stood Fernanda, nagging at him "No podemos usarte aquí, ¿entiendes? ¡Piérdase! Y llévate a tu puta contigo. Te arrancaré los ojos si vuelves a aparecer aquí. Y si te acercas más a Spencer, ¡pronto no te quedará nada con lo que joder a tu chica!"[2] And with that, Fernanda lashed out and slapped him hard across the face. In the next moment, she turned and rushed away.

Morgan stared after her, transfixed. What had that been? Hadn't it gotten through to her that he didn't understand Spanish? What was that scene all about?

"Derek? Who was that?" suddenly Savannah wanted to know. And her tone was icy cold. Gone was all the passion she had made him feel just a few seconds ago.

"That ... that was Fernanda. But I ... I have no idea what she said."

"Fernanda? Who is Fernanda? Derek, you tell me right now how you know this woman and why she's hitting you!" demanded Savannah.

Only now did Morgan realize that Savannah wasn't the only one staring at him. Some people around them had of course not missed the scene and now numerous curious glances were directed at them. And probably they knew even more what had moved Fernanda to this action than he did.

"She's a friend ... or rather dance ... no ex-dance partner of Spencer," Morgan tried to explain to Savannah. But from her look he gathered that he could probably say what he wanted now, and she would make up her own story after all.

"Let's go, okay?" said Morgan, quickly sliding some bills onto the counter. "I'll explain everything outside."

"Outside? So she won't overhear the lies you're telling me about her? Derek, is there something going on with this woman? I want to know right now."

"No, there's certainly nothing going on with Fernanda, and this isn't the place for that discussion," Morgan grumbled, reaching for Savannah's hand to pull her outside. But she shook it off, glaring angrily at him, then rushed ahead of him toward the exit.

Morgan knew how that had just looked, but surely Savannah had to understand that he was innocent.

At the same moment, Morgan felt a strange knot in the pit of his stomach that made him realize he was far from innocent. Only he hadn't cheated with Fernanda. No, cheating couldn't even be called that slip. It was a bad decision that would not be repeated and that Savannah did not have to know about.

 

Translations:

[1] "Hey, asshole! Isn't it enough that you sneak in here way too often and mess everything up. Now you have to drag this bitch in here too?"

[2] „We can't have you here, understand? Get lost! And take your whore with you. I'll scratch your eyes out if you show your face here again. And if you come near Spencer even once more, you'll soon have nothing left to fuck your chick with!“

Chapter Text

Morgan sat on his couch in the dark, staring at his cell phone. Was he supposed to call?

It was the first time in months that both Savannah and he had been off work, and she wasn't staying over after all.

"Goddamn it," Derek cursed, peppering the phone into a corner of the sofa. Clooney raised his head and looked at him in wonder. Then he came trotting over to him from his dog bed and nudged Derek's hands with his muzzle.

"It's all gone thoroughly wrong," Derek explained to the dog as he scratched him between the ears. Clooney rested his head on his knee and squinted up at him with one eye, as if to say he would listen if Derek wanted to tell something.

"That crazy broad Fernanda! I could rip her head off. Savannah now thinks I'm having an affair with her. She wasn't really listening to me at all. I tried to explain everything to her, but ... she just didn't listen to me."

Derek lowered his head. "First Spencer doesn't want anything to do with me, and now Savannah. Shit, Clooney, I'm making one mistake after another. I should have stuck to my earlier motto: No relationship longer than two weeks and don't start anything with colleagues. That always worked out well."

Clooney pressed closer to him, as if sensing that his master needed comfort right now.

"I really thought that this relationship with Savannah might work. But now I'm not so sure."

They'd had a terrible fight. And Derek was feeling quite conflicted. On the one hand, of course, there was nothing at all to Savannah's accusations that he had slept with Fernanda. He had every right to be indignant about that and to fight back against those assumptions. On the other hand, there was the story with Reid, which Savannah had no clue about. But it felt like her anger was justified because of it. And the way she'd snapped at him - Derek didn't even know if he felt like patching that up at the moment.

Morgan glanced at the clock. It was just past 10:00. He could safely venture a phone call then. He reached for his cell phone and after just two rings, the call was answered.

"My chocolate muffin, please tell me we don't have another case. A girl needs her beauty sleep once in a while," Garcia fluted on the other end.

"Hey, baby girl, no, not a case. Can I still bother you?"

"Derek, you sound weird. What's wrong?" The cheerfulness had immediately drained from Penelope's voice, giving way to a concerned tone.

"I had a big fight with Savannah. And ... I think ... it's over."

"Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry. Are you really sure you're not going to make up real fast?"

"I ... don't know if I want to."

Penelope was silent for a moment. "Do you want me to come over and you tell me everything?" she then asked.

"If ... if it's not too much for you?"

"Nothing's too much if it is for you, you know that," Garcia quickly assured him. "I'll jump in the car and be with you in 20 minutes.

---

Almost exactly 20 minutes later, Morgan's doorbell rang and Garcia was standing in front of it, carrying a huge bag.

"I didn't know what you liked, so I packed all kinds of soul comforts: Wiskey, vodka, a bottle of red wine, some fruit schnapps I still had in the cupboard, and lots of nibbles," she explained as she rushed past him into the house. "Get the glasses out, and then you tell Aunt Penelope exactly what happened."

Garcia turned into the living room and immediately began spreading the contents of her bag on the coffee table.

Whiskey sounds good, Morgan thought to himself, and retrieved the appropriate glasses from the cabinet before going to the kitchen for ice. When he got back to the living room, Penelope had spread out a huge cozy blanket on the sofa and had already made herself comfortable under it.

"Come here," she urged him, and Derek obediently slid under the blanket beside her before filling two glasses with whiskey and handing one to Garcia.

"Now tell me."

Derek didn't need to be told twice. He related how perfectly the evening had started and how proud he was of himself for having such a surprise for Savannah even before going to the dance club. And then everything went downhill with Fernanda's appearance.

As soon as they had been outside again, Savannah had yelled at him so that it could be heard all the way down the street. He should tell her how long he'd been screwing around with this woman, and it wouldn't have escaped her notice that something was going on behind her back. After all, at first she would have just thought it had to do with the job or he was struggling with midlife crisis. She would have honestly tried to overlook his odd behavior, but the constantly booked Friday nights from which he returned sometimes elated and sometimes exhausted would not have escaped her, of course. She just wouldn't have wanted to admit it, but if he was stupid enough to take her where his floozy ran around, she couldn't close her eyes to that truth any longer.

"She had even suspected that I might have a problem with my sexual orientation. She could have overlooked that. But a 'dancing whore' - her words, not mine - would have cleared up that assumption immediately, of course," Derek explained.

"You have to admit: Even if Savannah is on the wrong track right now, she's a smart girl. It's not like you can deny that she was kind of on the right track there," Penelope said.

"I had told her at the beginning of our relationship that I was bisexual. I thought it was important for her to know that. Maybe that gave her the idea and ..."

"And?"

"Well, in bed ..."

"Okay, okay, ... I don't need that information," Garcia immediately fought back with a laugh. "So there was a big falling out between you, and then?"

"She insisted that she wanted to go to her own apartment. And after I tried to persuade her to come here and work things out calmly, she just waved a passing cab over and left without another word."

"Did you try calling her?"

Morgan shook his head.

"Are you going to call her?"

A shrug. "That's just it. I don't know what I want anymore. It wasn't that long ago that I was thinking about our relationship, thinking about whether I should suggest she move in with me for good. And I answered that question to myself with a yes. But ..."

"But?"

"I can't imagine marrying her. And children?" Derek shook his head again. "That would never work with either of our careers."

"Do you want kids?"

Another shrug. "Maybe. I kind of do. But ..."

"I get it, with Savannah, you've blocked out kids." Garcia reached for her glass and took a sip of the whiskey. It was really good, but she'd be careful not to get too much of it.

"I've recently advised you to get clear about where you want to go with Savannah. It's starting to sound to me like that decision has been made by now."

"Is it wrong to not want to put any more energy into repairing a relationship if you're not sure you even want that relationship anymore?"

"A simple question: why did you call me to tell me about the predicament instead of Savannah to beg her to give you another chance?"

Derek put an arm around Garcia's shoulder. "Because there's no one better to help me get my thoughts in order than you, my girl." And he pressed a little kiss to her forehead. "I just hope I never lose you."

"You won't. I'm like a boomerang: I keep coming back, no matter how far away you throw me."

Derek had to laugh. "I should probably put a GPS chip on you after all, just to be on the safe side."

"Still, promise me that tomorrow you'll reconsider whether your decision today is still valid. Right now, emotions are fresh. Maybe with a little distance you'll change your mind. I don't want you to throw away something that's important to you over a glass of whiskey."

Morgan nodded. "Will you promise me something then?"

Penelope nodded as she snuggled into Morgan's arm.

"If I don't want Savannah back tomorrow, will you find out for me what the deal is with Reid and this girl?"

Garcia shook his head in disbelief. "If I ask you the same question now that I asked you a few days ago, will I get the same answer?"

Derek furrowed his brow in confusion. "What question?"

"Sex or love?"

Chapter Text

"Well, you've comforted yourself quickly," an ice-cold, much too loud voice tore him from his sleep. "It's over with two, but you'll have the next one in bed the same night. Or has that been going on longer, too? Does she know she's just one of many, too?"

Derek lifted his head and saw Savannah standing in the doorway to the bedroom. While her words were cold and cutting, hot anger flashed in her eyes. This was what an avenging angel had to look like.

"What ... what do you mean?" asked Derek, confused, trying to clear his head.

"I actually thought Garcia would be smarter, but apparently she can't resist your pretty larva either. Well, at least it's not pulling for me anymore." Savannah cast a venomous glance at the bed next to Derek. Morgan realized at that moment that he had invited Penelope to spend the night at his house. And because they'd both had too much to drink to have enough energy left to prepare the guest bed, Morgan had simply offered her the other half of his bed.

"Shh. She's still asleep," Derek admonished, glancing at Penelope beside him, her face half-hidden by her blonde curls. "And you don't seriously think ..."

"Go ahead and fuck whoever you want. Do your whole unit, I don't care. I just want my stuff. I'll come back tomorrow morning and pick it all up. And it would be better if you weren't there then." With that, Savannah turned on her heel and rushed out of the room. The loud slam of the front door signaled that she had also left the house.

"What?" groaned Garcia softly from beside him. "I'm coming, I'll be right there!"

She opened her eyes, blinked, then looked at Morgan in confusion. "What are you doing in my bed?"

Derek grinned a little wryly. "You're in my bed and Savannah just caught us in the act, so to speak," he opened for her.

"Oh my god! Oh my God!" squealed Penelope, instantly wide awake. She sat up and pulled the comforter, which had slipped down, up to under her chin.

"We didn't ... I can't ..." She quickly glanced under the covers. "Your shirt. I'm wearing one of your shirts. And my underwear. And nothing happened."

With that, she turned to Morgan and slapped him hard on the upper arm. "You idiot! Why are you scaring me like that? What does Savannah want us caught doing if we were just sleeping?"

"You explain that to her. She probably won't believe anything I say now that she's seen you in my bed," Derek said, letting his head plop back on the pillow. "I wonder a little bit what would have happened if I had been alone."

Penelope also lay back down and turned to Derek. "Do you want me to talk to her?"

Derek thought for a moment as he stared at the ceiling of the room. The accusation that he now had slept with Penelope as well was ridiculous. Penelope shouldn't have to put herself in an awkward situation over this. "No. Thank you for the offer, but it's not necessary. You know, there haven't been any big fights between Savannah and me so far. Maybe that's why I thought it would work. But come to think of it, I guess it was because I was always giving in, pleading guilty, or looking for a solution that would make her happy. And now, when it comes to something important, she doesn't even give me a chance to say anything about it. Maybe she wants me to grovel. But I'm not. I want to discuss things. And I'm not going to be henpecked."

Morgan turned his head to Garcia. "These new suspicions are so ridiculous. Why doesn't she realize she's getting herself into something? Everyone knows you're my best friend. And that we flirt with each other. But more?"

"I know: brrrr!" Garcia contorted her face in disgust before chuckling away.

"Okay, my girl, now what are we going to do with this morning that has dawned so abruptly?"

"Well, I certainly can't sleep now. There I'd just be dreaming of Savannah coming after me like a harpy for stealing her man."

"Then let me take you out to breakfast. I owe you one, after all."

"Chocolate muffin, you don't owe me anything. But getting me something to eat certainly isn't the worst idea. You don't want me to get any ideas about nibbling on you after all."

Derek leaned over to Garcia and gave her a peck on the nose. "Then I'll quickly put out some fresh wash clothes in the bathroom and you can shower here. I'll take the guest bath." And with that, he scurried out of bed. If only all relationships were as uncomplicated as the one with Penelope. Then his life would be significantly easier.

---

"You didn't answer my question yesterday," Penelope commented between bites of scrambled eggs.

"What question?", asked Morgan, feigning deliberate ignorance. Yet he could guess exactly what Garcia was getting at. She just looked at him with a look that clearly said, "Don't play games with me!"

Sighing, Morgan relented. "I don't know exactly. Sex is still the strong driving force. You can't imagine how erotic that boy can be on the dance floor. You shouldn't even get to see something like that before 10 p.m."

"But?" promptly probed Penelope.

Morgan lowered the fork on which he had just speared a piece of salmon. "It feels strange when I think about how many affairs Reid has had side by side, or in quick succession, one after the other. And ... well ... so far, I've never really been jealous when one of my girls is jumping in the sack with someone else. Hell, sometimes I could have even imagined a threesome - whatever the combination. But with Reid ... that's where the women and men he's with bother me. Is that maybe because he makes no secret of it?"

Morgan shook his head. "I never imagined Spencer would be so open about his affairs. Hell, I would have sworn he'd never had sex until recently."

Garcia chuckled. "I would have been with you on that one. After all, if the subject of sex is about anything other than all the dry technical terms for sexual desire, intercourse, or any of the fetishes we have to deal with far too often on the job, our boy wonder immediately blushes and can only stammer. I'd love to see that other side of him."

"Watch him in the kitchen. Maybe you'll catch him shoving his tongue down one of those student’s throats - or something else."

"Morgan! We're sitting down to breakfast! How can you be so vulgar?" reprimanded Garcia in a serious tone - and the next moment burst out laughing, causing several people at neighboring tables to turn to them.

"But all kidding aside, that doesn't just sound like lust to me. I almost think you have a little more going for our genius." Garcia slipped a piece of toast between his lips and looked at Morgan expectantly.

"Maybe? What do I know! If I knew, then maybe now at least I'd be clear about what I should do. But like this ..."

Morgan shook his head. He didn't even like to think about tomorrow. Savannah would show up at his house sometime in the morning to pick up all her things that had wandered into the various rooms over the weeks and months. When he got home from work, he would return to a bachelor pad, a single household. Maybe that had been why he had convinced himself that Savannah was right for him. He liked not being alone, being able to come home to someone or wait for someone to come home to him. As of now, he would be alone again with Clooney.

"But what?" echoed Penelope, because he had lapsed into thoughtful silence.

"After all, I've ruined even the friendship between Reid and me. He hardly ever speaks to me. And I haven't even told you that yet: He sent his lover when I wanted to come to our dance lesson on Friday. Can you imagine? His lover or ex-lover was teaching me. And I couldn't bring myself to say no thank you because he cleverly cornered me. I would have looked like an idiot or a coward if I had left."

"Do you think Spencer informed him of your slip?"

Morgan shook his head. "I don't think so. If he had, I think his lover would have punched me in the face instead of teaching me dance steps. Anyway, I wouldn't be so neutral and friendly toward someone my partner just cheated on me with."

"But you're sure those two are involved."

"Or have been involved, yes, for sure. I don't make out with some man the way those two do when there's nothing going on."

"Spencer is really acting very strange," Garcia mused aloud. "I can't imagine he's as shallow as he seems to me from what you're telling me."

"I feel the same way. And if I hadn't seen it and experienced it myself, I wouldn't believe anyone who told me. But that's not Reid. It's this other side of him. Do you think ... do you think that maybe we're really dealing with a split personality. So that Reid is seriously mentally ill and that's why he acts so strangely differently?" Morgan ran both hands over his head in frustration.

"I'm not an expert. You should be able to answer that more as a profiler," Penelope returned, reaching for one of his hands to comfort him a little. "But if I understand correctly, really sick people aren't aware that they have two personalities inside them. It's different with Spencer, isn't it? He knows that he acts differently depending on what environment he's in. He talks to you about it and has even asked you to keep it a secret. That doesn't sound to me like a disease he wouldn't be aware of."

Derek snorted. "And can you tell me why these boundaries he seems to have established for himself at some point are suddenly blurring? Then why does he start this affair with the student in the office for all to see?"

"Weren't you the one who broke those boundaries? The one encouraging him to bring more of his confident personality to his work?" echoed Garcia. "I would guess that you were the trigger. And as is sometimes the case with newfound freedoms, maybe Spencer is just overdoing it a bit in savoring them."

Derek squeezed Penelope's hand. "We should definitely get you out of your computer cave more often. You seem like a better profiler than I can ever become."

Garcia shook his hand. "It's just that you're always so busy with your cases that you don't think much about your own behavior and often leave your skills out of the equation, even with your colleagues. And finally, you promised each other never to profile a colleague on the team. For my part ... well, I just observe and tell you what I think. I'm just not a profiler."

"So what do you think I should do now?"

"Get clear about your feelings. And if they pull you toward Spencer, confront him," Garcia said. "If you provide clarity, then maybe you'll get him to lay his cards on the table, too. Maybe then he'll tell you he doesn't want to commit to anyone. Or he'll tell you you're not his type. Or ... or he'll drop everything else and give a relationship with you a chance."

"Now if you, oh all-knowing oracle, could just tell me which of those possibilities is most likely, I'd be forever in your debt," Derek murmured with a small smile.

"I can't see that far into the future yet," Garcia replied. "But I promise you I will consult my many crystal balls about what this student is all about." And she winked at him.

Chapter Text

"Team meeting in ten minutes," Emily called out to Derek as he came into the office Monday morning. "Our cold case got pretty hot over the weekend."

Morgan immediately came over to Prentiss' desk. "Does that mean there's a lead? Has Smith discovered anything?"

"Unfortunately. A new body," Prentiss immediately opened up to him. "I got the e-mail with all the details half an hour ago and have already informed Hotch. Since Smith has asked us for help because of the profile, he felt we should get more involved now. The whole team will be involved."

"All right. I'll get my files and be right in the briefing room," Morgan returned. He had hoped for a quiet week with lots of research and working only as a small team with Prentiss and Garcia to sort through the private clutter in his head on the side, but fate once again threw a wrench in the works. Now he would have to work with Reid again sooner than he would have liked.

A little later, the entire team was gathered around the round table in the meeting room, Spencer again with his three-man entourage. Surprisingly, however, they began to behave in a relatively disciplined manner, the loud conversations that had been going on everywhere and at all times between the three girls just last week were reduced to a few whispered sentences. Possibly this was due to a change in the hierarchy within the group of three, the profiler in Derek made himself aware as he studied the three girls out of the corner of his eye. The blonde - he might have to find out her name sometime - Spencer had been making out with was sitting directly to the boy's right. All that was really missing was the two of them holding hands, because as close as they were sitting, Derek could guess that their legs were touching under the table. The two other girls sitting to Spencer's left kept considerably more distance. Probably the blonde had risen in their esteem because she had started something with Spencer. And this new rank also caused her to be more disciplined in order to distance herself even further from the other two - which in turn rubbed off on the other two students.

Morgan wasn't sure if that was exactly what Reid intended with the affair, but if he had indeed started the whatever relationship because of these changes, he would have to be congratulated for the outcome on the one hand, and scolded for the way he played with the girl's emotions on the other.

Unless Reid was so cunning that he had even partially let the blonde in on his plans: a rise in standing with the friends through a short-term little office affair that brought them both some fun and Reid more peace beyond that. All with no big commitments and no long-term guarantees. A few weeks ago, Morgan would have thought such a thing completely out of the question, but knowing Spencer now, it was well within the realm of possibility.

"Good morning everyone!" greeted Hotch to the team as he settled into his seat next to Derek. "A cold case, possibly a copycat, related to homicides that took place a few years ago has become acute over the weekend. A woman and a man have been murdered in New York about six months apart. The second murder occurred yesterday. The connection became apparent because of the murder weapon, which was ..." Hotch glanced at a file. "I don't know how to pronounce that. It's a replica of a dagger from the Star Trek series."

"A d'k tahg," Reid muttered more to himself than to the others.

Hotch glanced at him briefly, but then continued. "Morgan and Prentiss were already on the case because the murder that happened six months ago was going to be reopened. It may even have been the catalyst for yesterday's murder. The earlier series of murders took place in Boston, no perpetrator was ever caught there."

"I'm sending you all the info there is on the new murder to your tablets," Garcia announced.

"That means Emily and I are flying to New York?" inquired Morgan immediately.

"The whole team. Departing in two hours. You can fill us in on all the details during the flight then."

"Why are we waiting so long? Shouldn't we fly out right away?", Emily wanted to know. Normally, the team was ready to leave within 20 to 30 minutes.

"Kathrin Burns, Julia Congoletti and Marcy Tucker will be joining us," Hotch pointed to the three students. "They are on the shortlist for the FBI Academy and should get a little insight into what it's like to work in the field. The three of them have some packing to do first."

Morgan groaned. That was all he needed. Now Spencer's entourage was going to be involved in their case, too.

Hotch gave Morgan a searching look. "Any objections?"

"No, of course not," Derek forced out. He certainly wouldn't be so unprofessional now as to pick a fight over his jealousy.

---

"Well, were you actually able to tear yourself away from your pigeon?" inquired Morgan as he dropped into the seat across from Reid on the jet and pointed his eyes to the back where a quad seat had been occupied by the three female students. Morgan had considered for a moment whether to continue avoiding Spencer, but that would only solidify the tense situation between them. Spencer had certainly chosen the two-seater because he had hoped Morgan would sit at the large table further forward, as he so often did. But he would not do him that favor.

"What is it with you and all these birds?"

"I don't know? You always get me going with your fondness for one particular blond bird," Derek grinned suggestively.

Spencer looked up jerkily, a reaction Morgan had deliberately provoked.

"I never talk about birds. Why do you have to keep giving the girls bird names?", Spencer remained pointedly matter-of-fact. "First they were geese, and now you've moved on to pigeons."

"Don't deflect," Morgan demanded, "What's going on between you and the blonde?"

"None of your business," Spencer muttered, poking his head back in. He demonstratively flipped open the file he had on his lap to signal he wasn't ready to talk.

"Do you think a young thing like that can really be the one for you?" inquired Morgan impassively. "She doesn't know where she stands yet herself. Let alone that she could offer you anything."

Spencer did look up now. "I'd say that didn't stop you from the affairs you had before Savannah, did it? And besides, you have no idea what Kathrin can offer me."

Kathrin, then, the blonde was Kathrin Burns. He had to tell Garcia that, should she not have figured it out for herself yet. She really needed to do a thorough background check on this Kathrin.

"Is she good in bed?" inquired Morgan, almost casually, though it made everything inside him tense up. After all, he didn't want to know the answer.

But he did want to know if Reid was even sleeping with the girl. Maybe they weren't that far along and he could keep Spencer from doing something stupid.

"That's none of your business either," Spencer returned, emphatically calm.

Today he again reminded Morgan more of his dancer persona than the young genius he usually knew. In the past, Spencer would have promptly blushed at the question. If he didn't now, was that an indication that he hadn't gotten into bed with Kathrin? Or that he was so comfortable with her that he suddenly wasn't embarrassed by the questions anymore?

"Come on! I used to tell you about my conquests too. I'm curious," Derek tried another ploy.

"You never asked me if I even wanted to know," Spencer returned. "And no, I didn't want to know. And again, no, I'm not going to tell you anything."

That was a dead end.

"Are you going to take her dancing?" launched Morgan into another round of questions.

"What part of 'I'm not going to tell you anything' don't you understand?"

"I mean, we're friends. Friends tell each other things like that."

"And friends accept it when the other person won't tell," Spencer promptly shot back.

As much as Morgan hated to admit it to himself, he was getting nowhere at this corner. He would really have to rely on Garcia to figure out what was going on between Spencer and Kathrin.

---

During the flight, Emily and Derek told the team about the past murders and how the connection was made by the replicas of the Klingon dagger. Penelope had also sent them, along with the data on the new murder, a list of art smiths who specialized in making authentic replicas of movie weapons. Unfortunately, there were more than enough of them. Before that list could get them anywhere, they needed to establish a more accurate profile of the perpetrator with which to go into the interviews.

"This time it's a man who was murdered," Morgan noted as he sifted through the details of the latest homicide case.

"And what about the Boston murders? Was there a preference there?" inquired J.J., who sat diagonally across the table from Emily, looking back and forth at her two colleagues.

Emily shook her head. "Not in terms of gender, age, or ethnicity. It was all a mixed bag there."

"Once again, this suggests it could be the original killer," said Rossi, who occupied the third seat at the table.

"But then why the long period of silence. There was no murder for several years. And with that signature, one like that should have stood out. Garcia searched the entire database for homicides with a Klingon dagger," Morgan interjected. He rather had the impression that it could be a copycat. That would also explain the change of location.

"We've had enough cases where the killer has been inactive for several years. Illness, a stay in a closed institution, a prison sentence - there are dozens of reasons," Spencer explained without looking at Derek. Morgan had the impression that he was just playing the advocatus diaboli, only to contradict him again.

"What are we actually sure of yet?" inquired Rossi.

"That it's a man in his mid or late forties, burly, so not necessarily the typical nerd, but still at least to some extent a science fiction fan. Probably nothing connects him personally with the victims, because we have not been able to discover any connection among them either so far. The victims could be proxies for someone. But we are still completely missing the glimpse of a commonality," Morgan summarized.

"How do you come up with the age?", Reid promptly wanted to know. "The perpetrator could just as easily have started killing early and then be just over thirty now."

Morgan tried to remain composed. Was Spencer going to question his every word today? He didn't mind factual objections or criticism, after all, but the way Reid questioned him suggested he was deliberately trying to put him on the spot. Was this now payback for trying to question him?

"As far as my research has shown, Star Trek was a big deal, especially in the mid-to-late 1990s. So it's likely that someone who uses a weapon like that for his murders is a fan and has internalized a lot of the facts. And so the likelihood of that being someone who was past their early teens during that time is relatively high," Morgan laid out his reasoning. "But I'll be happy to be convinced otherwise, if you'd like to finally put your expert knowledge to work." He couldn't help but take the small side swipe then, after all, he had asked Reid for help as soon as it was clear that the murder weapon fell within the realm of his expertise.

"Look around at the conventions. Then you'll see how many Star Trek fans are just in their mid-twenties," Spencer returned. "And not every fan has to be a nerd."

"I didn't say they were," Morgan muttered, catching a look from Emily that meant him to back off.

Rossi furrowed his brow. "We should add another question mark to the age just to be on the safe side, so we don't get misled by it," he tried to get Morgan and Reid back on track. "But let's agree then that we're dealing with a burly man."

Emily immediately agreed before Morgan or Reid could lapse into the next discussion. "The dagger itself points to a man. Also, the victims were killed with one or two well-aimed stabs. So the perpetrator knows what he is doing and has the strength to do it. Also, a woman probably wouldn't leave such an expensive weapon at the scene regardless."

"Guys, the unsub is picking up speed," Hotch suddenly interrupted the conversation. He had been sitting further back in the jet and - Morgan had been able to observe - had been on the phone for a long time. "There's already a third body, this time another woman. Same murder weapon, again left at the scene. We need to put a stop to this unsub as soon as possible before we have to deal with a real rampage. Rossi and J.J., go to the coroner's office. The male victim is already there, the female is being taken there now. Morgan and Reid, you're going to look at the latest crime scene, Garcia's about to send the address to your phones. And Emily, you're coming with me to the slain man's apartment. His wife is waiting for us there. We'll all meet Detective Smith at the precinct afterward."

Morgan groaned inwardly. Did he now have to be harnessed to Reid, of all people? But the logic behind assigning him and Emily to different teams didn't escape him, of course. This way, the knowledge about the case they had accumulated in the meantime could serve two teams at once. And as far as working with Reid was concerned, Morgan didn't doubt that Hotch's intention was also that they had to pull themselves together somehow.

"So what are we going to do about Reid's appendages?" inquired Derek, who had no desire to have the girls in tow.

"Kathrin, Julia and Marcy will be split up. Each team will take one of them," Hotch determined. Now Morgan really groaned audibly. With his luck, he could then watch Spencer fool around with his Kathrin all day.

Chapter Text

Morgan's only consolation was that the SUV he was currently steering through New York's streets didn't have three seats in the front. Of course, fate - or maybe Hotch - had struck and Kathrin Burns had been assigned to Reid and him. A few weeks ago he would have good-naturedly teased Spencer that he now had a wonderful chance to make a pass at the girl and shine before her with his outstanding intellect. But now he wanted just the opposite. Why was Spencer not as shy as he was a few weeks ago? Why didn't he stammer around as soon as Kathrin even looked at him? Why did she even manage to coax a small smile out of him, while all he had left for him, Derek, were cold stares?

"We're here," Morgan announced as he parked the car in front of a brick-look townhouse. "Penthouse apartment, our victim had money."

"I didn't read anything in the file about her husband," Reid said matter-of-factly. "Was she divorced or was her husband already deceased?"

"From what I gathered from Hotch earlier, she had been living apart from her husband for a short time. Detective Smith is currently trying to locate the husband's whereabouts."

Morgan got out of the car, then cast a questioning look in Kathrin's direction as she climbed out. "Do you really think it's advisable to take your girl to a crime scene where there might still be a body lying around?" he murmured to Spencer as he saw Kathrin looking at herself in the SUV's side mirror as she tussled her hair.

"You heard Hotch: she should come with us. Kathrin can handle it," was Spencer's curt reply.

So much for leaving the girl in the car.

The victim or her husband had to be wealthy indeed, it occurred to Morgan as he entered the house after showing his badge to the officer on watch. In the small foyer of the house, there was a counter for a doorman who usually showed visitors the way and intercepted unwanted guests. Immediately, Morgan wondered how the perpetrator had gotten past it to the victim's apartment.

The wood-paneled, brass-framed elevator then went up to the sixth floor, where the elevator ended directly in the apartment, which took up the entire last floor. So once you were in the elevator and it was cleared for the penthouse - something that could be done with a key or via the doorman's control panel - there were no more doors to negotiate here.

"Excuse me, but who are you?", Morgan was immediately stopped as he stepped out of the elevator. Again he flashed his badge and introduced himself, Spencer and Kathrin. The police officer promptly gave way. "We're almost done," he explained. "We should have the first preliminary forensics report in an hour or two. Do you still want to see the body before I have it removed?"

Morgan nodded immediately. Now it would become apparent what Reid's student was made of.

Derek followed the policeman into the victim's bedroom, where she was slumped against the bed in her robe. The woman's eyes were still wide open, and her clothes were soaked with blood. The murder weapon lay packed in an evidence bag on a nearby dresser.

"How many stabs," Morgan inquired as he stepped closer.

"One to the abdomen, the second from below her ribcage upwards," the officer explained. "She was dead within seconds."

"What do you mean?" asked Morgan, clearing a view of the victim for Spencer. As he did so, he cast an appraising glance toward Kathrin.

He had to give the girl credit: She was plenty pale around the nose, but she was studying the image before them intently. She had clenched her hands into fists, another sign that the scene was by no means leaving her cold. But she seemed determined not to avert her eyes.

Spencer stepped up beside Morgan and squatted in front of the victim. "The stabs went through clothing, which suggests they were not sexually motivated," Reid explained. "Any signs of rape?"

The officer shook his head. "We haven't found any usable evidence at all so far. It appears that the perpetrator walked in, stabbed her, and then immediately left the apartment."

"And where exactly was the dagger found?" inquired Reid.

"Next to the woman. We took photos."

"We really need those. And as soon as possible."

Morgan listened up. Did Reid have some hunch he wanted the photos to confirm?

"Did you discover anything?" he inquired, as he looked again intently at the woman's position. Nothing in particular caught his eye. She had probably been surprised by the perpetrator on her way to the bathroom or from there on her way back.

"Maybe," Reid muttered. "But I need the photos."

"Okay. I'm still mostly interested in how the perp got in. You look around here, and I'll go down and talk to the doorman."

Reid just nodded. Morgan looked briefly at Kathrin. He could now relieve her of the sight and take her with him - and at the same time pull her away from Spencer's proximity - but on the other hand he didn't feel like dealing with her or possibly having to hear from her how great Spencer was. He knew that well enough himself.

Morgan turned on his heel and walked back to the elevator. As he pressed the button that would take him back to the first floor, he caught a glimpse of Spencer and the girl. He was talking urgently to her - and holding her hand. Since when did Reid hold hands? He didn't even like shaking hands with anyone in greeting, after all. But Morgan had to remind himself that this was Agent Reid - and he seemed to be blurring more and more with Dancer Spencer, merging into one person.

---

It was clearly an advantage if not only the local police appreciated the backup, but also the city government. Someone had pulled strings and gotten the BAU team an excellent hotel, centrally located, not far from the police station, and with all the comforts of home.

Derek marveled at the size of the room. It was not unusual for him to have to share a much smaller room with Reid or Rossi when they were investigating elsewhere. But today he had it all to himself. Even the female students had been housed so luxuriously and all the rooms were on the same corridor, an advantage should they suddenly have to leave at night and alert each other.

They would all meet for dinner in a moment at one of the hotel's three restaurants. Hotch had chosen the least expensive, but even that promised outstanding food with international cuisine.

Quickly Derek freshened up. The day had been exhausting and it felt good to take a quick shower and then put on some fresh clothes. When he finally left the room to go down to the restaurant at the appointed time, a door diagonally across from his room opened at the same time.

Morgan narrowed his eyes as not only Spencer stepped out there, but Kathrin followed right behind him. He hadn't kept in mind who really owned the room now, but clearly the two of them had used the short break right away to spend time together.

Morgan pulled his door closed and just nodded to the two as he turned toward the elevator. By the sound of their footsteps, he could hear that they were immediately following him.

Derek took a deep breath as he finally entered the elevator, holding the door open for the two of them. He urgently needed to get a grip on his emotions and try to re-establish normal communication with Spencer.

"That dagger thing could really be important for us," he explained as the three of them waited for the door to close. "I'm sure it's part of the perpetrator's signature to always have the tip pointed at the victim. I'm counting on you to figure out why, too. Surely it has something to do with the dagger itself, doesn't it?"

"Yes, probably. I already know of a couple of websites dealing with Klingon culture that I plan to peruse after dinner," Spencer returned. And for the first time in a long time, he finally looked at Derek without that cold look in his eyes.

"Do you need help?" inquired Morgan, indirectly offering himself. But Spencer immediately shook his head. "I don't think you know enough about the subject matter that all the things that might be relevant to our case would be obvious to you."

"You're probably right," Morgan agreed. "There you are our unbeatable luminary."

The corners of Spencer's mouth twitched ever so slightly. Derek could guess that it wasn't easy for the boy to slow down like that and not gush with all his knowledge like he usually did. But at least it was apparent that the lovable little nerd was still inside him.

---

Dinner was both torture and redemption for Derek. On the one hand, Kathrin was sitting at the big round table right next to Spencer, and Morgan could imagine all too well how she was holding Reid's hand hidden under the covers, resting hers on his leg---or maybe even doing more with it? On the other hand, Derek sat facing him at a slight angle, and Spencer's gaze wandered to him more often than it rested on his young girlfriend. In general, he seemed to pay little attention to the girl during the meal. If this wasn't a maneuver to distract from under-the-table activities, Spencer seemed to be acting comparatively normal again. He chatted animatedly with J.J. and even included Derek in the conversation at times. And when he told that as a boy he had even appeared as Vulcan Spock at a high school Halloween party, where he had received some sexual innuendos from his classmates because of his pointed ears, which he - at that time much too young for that - had not understood, his face even showed again that slight blush that Derek loved so much.

What was annoying, however, was that Kathrin wanted to retire to her room quite soon after dinner - and Reid immediately seized the opportunity to do the same. He wanted, he explained, to peruse said websites. But to Derek, that seemed more like an excuse. If later, on his way to his room, he heard distinct noises coming from the room across the hall, it would certainly confirm his suspicions.

But then Morgan wasn't prepared for the surprise he experienced when he stepped out of the elevator from the hallway a good three hours later.

"Do you really have to go already?" inquired Julia of Spencer, who was standing just a few feet from the elevator quite obviously in the doorway of the room where the girl was staying.

"Yeah, I need some sleep now," Spencer explained. "Tomorrow is another day."

With that, he turned away from the door, not even looking in Morgan’s direction, and walked down the hall to the door Derek had seen him come out of before dinner with Kathrin. That, Morgan guessed, was his own room then. But what the hell had Spencer been doing at Julia's? 'Tomorrow's another day,' the boy had said. Was that supposed to mean that he was now having an affair with the two female students in turn, and that tomorrow was Julia's turn for a change?

Morgan disappeared into his room and tried to slam the door in the lock. But the comfort of the room ensured that the door closer caught the force and Derek didn't even get the satisfaction of a loud bang.

Sighing, Derek sat down on his bed and pulled his cell phone out of his pants pocket. He desperately needed someone to talk to now. And he could only hope that his baby girl had a little time for him.

"Omniscient goddess and magic fairy in person speaking. What can I do for you, Chocolate Bunny?" came Garcia's cheerful voice after two rings.

"Are you still in the office, my girl?" inquired Morgan promptly as he heard the clack of a keyboard.

"Tech wonders take time, too," Penelope returned. "After Reid refined the search for the manufacturer of the murder weapons a bit, I'll try to feed you some results by tomorrow morning."

"Baby girl, you can't be up all night. You've been sitting at your computers since this morning, too," Derek explained anxiously. Sometimes when the team was on the road, they forgot that Penelope was slaving away at Quantico for as many hours as they were, if not more.

"I'll hang in there a little bit, sweetie," Garcia returned. "But surely you're not calling to send me to bed? I wouldn't let you do that anyway unless you got in with me."

"We just had that, baby girl," Morgan reminded her, grinning. If only her colleagues knew that. All too well that Savannah wasn't so good friends with any of them that she'd tell anyone anywhere that she'd surprised him in bed with Penelope.

"Oh, yes," Garcia sighed blissfully. "And the way you spoiled me when I woke up ... I could get used to that."

Morgan actually had to laugh out loud now. "I just hope Kevin isn't around. Otherwise I could get into some serious trouble. But I'll be happy to take you out for breakfast again when we get back."

"I accept that invitation immediatly. But now spit out what you're calling me about."

"Do you still have to ask?"

"Spencer."

"Yes. He ... he seems to be having another fling."

"What, another one? You mean besides this Kathrin Burns?" echoed Garcia, confused.

"That's right. If I hadn't seen it myself, I wouldn't believe it, but it appears that he's also sleeping with Julia Congoletti. When I came in from the elevator earlier, he had just come out of her room."

"And you think he's really having an affair with her?"

"She asked him if he couldn't stay a little longer, and he answered that tomorrow was another day and that he needed to sleep now. That sounded to me like he had been in the sack with her, but doesn't want to spend the whole night with her. Probably so he won't be surprised by Kathrin, with whom, by the way, he even held hands today."

"Oh my God! Oh my God! Tell me, is it possible that Spencer suddenly feels like he has to catch up with you when it comes to love affairs. Is that why he's upping the ante like this, to catch up with what you've exemplified in the past?"

"But why would he do such nonsense? And by the way, I've never had multiple affairs at the same time."

Silence on the other end.

"Not at the same time, certainly not. Maybe close together, and maybe a threesome once. But that doesn't count. That's not a relationship I kept a secret from another partner."

"You had a threesome once?" immediately echoed Penelope. "With who? Do I know them? Was it even two women? Or men? Or mixed?"

"My girl, you know the well-known saying: a gentleman ..."

"Enjoys and keeps silent, yes, I know. But since when are you a gentleman?"

Morgan clutched his chest. "Now you're hitting me hard," he said, playfully hurt. "When would I ever have been anything but a gentleman?"

"Okay, I for one wish you'd be less of a gentleman with me sometimes. But then I'm going to be all lady for a change and not dwell on your sexual escapades. But back to Reid: How does the boy do it anyway? That must be at least three affairs - not even counting you. Where does he get that kind of stamina?"

Reid is young, was on the tip of Derek's tongue. And possibly he really did have some catching up to do for the time he'd spent seemingly almost celibate. But couldn't he work it out with him, Derek?

"He's talking to me again. That's the only positive development I can report from today," Morgan muttered instead. "I've been trying to just ignore the girlfriend thing. But the more I see it, the harder it is for me."

"If it makes you feel any better, I checked out Kathrin Burns today. For one thing, she really does seem like a normal girl. She's no genius, but she still graduated second best in her high school class. She's interested in horses, dancing, and anything to do with criminology. At least that's what I gathered from her social media profiles."

"Interested in dancing. That's all I need," Derek grumbled. "Then it won't be long before he drags her to Noche Cubana, too."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that," Garcia agreed. "Normally, you'd think a girl like that would brag about a conquest like Reid. But in fact, I only found one or two comments on her social media channels about Spencer and only one photo. I think she took that in the office, and it includes the other two students."

"Are you saying she's ashamed of Reid?" burst out Morgan. Couldn't the girl, after all, hold the man she had hooked up with in appropriate esteem?

"That's not what I'm saying at all," Garcia tried to reassure him. "Maybe the relationship hasn't progressed as far as you think?"

"Making out, holding hands, coming out of Spencer's hotel room together - what does that look like?"

"I can only go by what my research shows. And I don't see any signs of a relationship there," Garcia stressed again. "But if you want, I'd be happy to look into this Julia, too."

"You probably won't find anything there either," Morgan returned in frustration. "It's up to Reid. He doesn't want anything to come out about his life. I'm sure he's forbidden the girls from posting anything about a possible relationship or telling anyone about it. That would suit him all too well."

"It would really fit. Remember how long it took Spencer to tell us his mother had schizophrenia? That was half an eternity."

Morgan had to agree with Garcia. Spencer had always been careful to keep his private life secret in every respect. Surprising, really, considering how much and how quickly the boy could yap when a subject captivated him.

"So what do I do now?" inquired Morgan in frustration.

"I'll probably sound like a broken record soon, but talk to him. Confront him with your observations and especially with your feelings. Then you'll quickly know where you stand."

"Baby girl, I'm a man. We find this much harder than you girls. And most of all, we don't like to risk rejection," Derek brought up.

"You're a man, so get your courage up. You're supposed to be the stronger sex. Then prove it," Garcia tried to cheer him on.

Chapter Text

"Everywhere the dagger is pointing directly at the victim, in all the crime scene photos we got from Boston," Morgan said more to himself than to his colleagues. Together, they pored over the old cases, because there simply weren't any current leads to follow up on. Only Spencer and Julia were missing. The two had sought out another office to make phone calls to various art smiths who might have made the daggers. Morgan was a little surprised that Spencer had chosen Julia to assist him; after all, to the outside world, Kathrin was his favorite. But perhaps their status had changed overnight.

"That must mean something then," Rossi mused. "Can you still remember the case with the threads of life? There, the length of the threads symbolized the age of the victims. Should the positioning of the daggers perhaps tell us more? Are there variations in angle or distance from the victim?"

Morgan shrugged. "Unfortunately, you can't tell that precisely from the photos. I don't think anyone was paying attention at the time."

"I'm still puzzled by the daggers being left at the scene at all," Emily said. "Remember what Reid told us about the weapon? If you follow the explanations from the Star Trek world, a Klingon would never give up his weapon. It's a kind of badge of honor. Surely our perpetrator should know that if he's using such a weapon specifically."

"And if this is all just a diversion?" inquired Kathrin, speaking up for the first time in the plenary. "Maybe the unsub is trying to lead the police on a false trail?"

Morgan gave Kathrin a disapproving look. Had Reid now possibly set the girl up to constantly contradict him? But before he could reply, Hotch spoke up, "That does happen sometimes, but usually very subtly. Here, the weapons certainly have meaning, I absolutely agree with Morgan."

Morgan tried to recall exactly what Spencer had told him all about the weapon. Why was the kid never around when he was needed? Yeah, sure, because he was probably making out with Julia behind some locked door. Those images wouldn't let him go, and if something didn't change about that gradually, he was going to lose his mind.

"Let's stick with the idea that it's some kind of honor symbol. And let's assume - just as a thought experiment - that the honor of our perpetrator was violated. If this had happened through all these victims, wouldn't there have to be some connection between them? Some point at which they all met our unsub?"

Morgan looked around questioningly.

"So far, though, our research there has turned up absolutely nothing," J.J. finally said.

"And if ... yes, if the honor of the victims is at stake? Then wouldn't it make sense for the dagger to stay with them?" continued Derek.

"Morgan, I think that's it!" exclaimed Emily suddenly. "Didn't Spencer also say that the Klingons were committing suicide with the dagger to save their honor?"

That made everyone look up. "But we're not dealing with suicides here," Rossi pointed out.

"But perhaps our perpetrator sees it as his job to help the victims save their honor. He may be in a similar situation: his honor was violated, he wanted to seek a way out in suicide, but was too weak himself to go through with it. And now he is standing by those who he believes are doing the same."

"But then how do you explain the long pause that occurred between the Boston murders and the ones here?" wanted Hotch to know.

"Possibly his honor was restored in some way back in Boston. That may have reassured him. And something must have happened here in New York for him to start again now."

"The theory sounds plausible. But how does it put us on the trail of the unsub?" wanted J.J. to know.

"I guess by the way the victims' honor has been offended. That's likely to connect them," Morgan replied. "It could be the loss of a job, some position that had to be resigned, a humiliation based on physical appearance - gee, there are a hundred thousand possibilities."

"Or a relationship," Emily interjected then. "Our last female victim lived apart from her husband. And there's a reason why she was living in that super-expensive penthouse: Her husband was cheating on her, and she caught him at it. According to the prenuptial agreement, he has to give her half of the not inconsiderable fortune if they divorce because of an infidelity he committed"

"The husband has already been ruled out as the perpetrator?" asked Hotch.

Emily nodded. "He was at a convention in Paris, was seen there, and could also prove his absence with the plane ticket and hotel bill."

"But then why doesn't our unsub kill the cheating partner?" interjected Rossi. "Wouldn't that be much more logical?"

"Maybe our unsub got dumped and blamed it on himself?" suggested Morgan. "Besides, the first woman murdered here in New York fits the pattern, too. Her husband had a mistress and she knew and condoned it. That could be a prime example of wounded honor for our perpetrator."

"That would make this theory a good fit for two cases already. We need to check all the victims for such a match. We'll divide up the files. If there's nothing in them, we'll have to go directly to our colleagues in Boston and possibly re-interview former partners and spouses. Morgan, you take over ..."

"We've got the blacksmith!" interrupted Hotch as Spencer rushed into the room, Julia close on his heels. "And he even runs his shop here in New York!"

---

"Your knowledge was really worth its weight in gold," Morgan said as he sat next to Spencer in the car and steered it south. They had to get to Staten Island, where the blacksmith had his workshop in an industrial area. And as luck - or Hotch - would have it, the job went to them both.

"What knowledge?" inquired Spencer, without looking up from his cell phone. He was studying the crime scene photos the team had been examining when he was busy making phone calls about the blacksmith.

"Your Star Trek knowledge, the one about the dagger and stuff."

"What about it?"

Morgan gave Spencer a sidelong glance. Either the boy had spotted something in the photo or his head was somewhere else entirely. He hadn't flipped to another photo in five minutes.

"I think we should have just noticed the green hair wrapped around the spear earlier. But that's the kind of thing only you notice. That's where we mere mortals lack the know-how."

"Oh, the green hair ... green ... what green hair?"

Reid jerked up and looked at Morgan in confusion.

The latter had to laugh out loud. "Good morning, Dr. Reid. How kind of you to leave your home planet and join us on the streets of New York."

"Did you just blather something about green hair?"

"Yes, because you were at least five miles away from here and I wanted to know what could bring you back. What are you mulling over?"

"That is non ..."

"Now, if you come at me again with that line about how it's none of my business, the next chance I get, I'm going to spank your pretty ass so hard you won't be able to sit on it for three days," Morgan blurted out. Inwardly, he immediately bit his tongue. He shouldn't have said that for so many reasons.

"Sorry, that was ..."

"You ... are right - at least partially," Reid slowed him down before he could really apologize. "I was just off my game, and that wasn't supposed to happen to me. I ... had to think about something Julia said."

Morgan had to hold back a lot from asking directly about what Reid's recent relationship was with this girl. Instead, he tried to be more diplomatic. "Can you tell me what it's about?"

"About the daggers."

Morgan exhaled in relief. So it had something to do with work, not Spencer's love life.

"She wanted to know if I thought it was crazy that she would find it romantic that someone would commit suicide out of heartbreak. She ... she would have thought about it before."

And they were back in dangerous waters.

"Does she seem suicidal to you?" inquired Morgan.

Reid shrugged. "I don't know her that well yet."

And you'd best break up with her before she sees you as a reason to commit suicide when she has to realize she's not the only relationship in your life, Morgan's inner voice whispered. But he restrained himself from making a loud statement on the matter.

"You should definitely put that in her candidate file. I'm not sure she's cut out for a job at the FBI with views like that," he said instead.

"The thought has crossed my mind, too. But wouldn't that be treason? How much have we kept out of each other's files to keep our jobs from being compromised?"

Morgan knew all too well that Reid's first thought was that no one had ever made public his dependence on Dilaudid.

"It's not like you're supposed to write in that she's unsuitable. It's just to give an indication of possible suicidal tendencies. Then those evaluating whether to admit her can look more closely at the issue with her," Morgan explained. "Or would you like to work with someone you can't be sure won't voluntarily and intentionally let a bullet catch them at the next opportunity?"

Spencer shrugged. "How many times have we put ourselves in the line of fire?"

"To protect others, but not to end our lives," Morgan reminded him. "Think about how you feel every time one of us gets shot - and through no fault of our own. No one should have to go through that because a team member feels they have to end their life because of heartbreak."

"Okay, I'll put a note in the file. And maybe I'll talk to her again about the issue," Reid relented. "If she's really having thoughts like that, it might also help to suggest therapy early on."

Morgan nodded. It really sounded like Reid cared about the girl. He just couldn't understand how Spencer could have so much affection for so many people that he wanted to be with them all at the same time. And it didn't fit at all with the Spencer he'd thought was an inexperienced virgin for half an eternity.

"Are you ... I mean ..." Quickly Morgan corrected himself, "Could it be that she's in love with you?"

"I'm not sure about that. The hint you gave me the first day the three of them came to us has really helped in a way - but also had some kind of side effect."

"Side effect?" Morgan tried convulsively to remember what he had told Spencer that could cause him to now be lusting after one student after another.

"Yes. Remember? You had told me to make it clear that I wasn't an intern, I was her supervisor. It took me a while, but I finally got it right. And since then ... well ... since then, they really adore me. All three of them. But not in that schoolgirl way anymore. They're polite, eager to do whatever I say. They provide me with coffee, donuts, lunch ... you name it. And one by one, they want to go out with me. Believe it or not, now that they're acting like reasonable people, I find all three of them very nice. They're really good to work with."

Inwardly, Morgan had to shake his head. The way Reid told it, it all sounded again like the terribly naive boy wondering about his own attraction. If he didn't know that Spencer could use his charms quite selectively, and if he hadn't seen him first leave one student's room and then the other's a few hours later, he would still have thought him as innocent as when he had started at BAU. But who was to say Reid was even innocent then.

"You can credit it to your educational and teaching skills if they're starting to become viable candidates," Morgan said, steering the conversation in another direction. "Hotch seems to have picked the right counselor after all."

"I just hope he doesn't get the idea to do this more often. I definitely prefer working on actual cases."

Morgan laughed. "I don't think he'd waste your skills like that in the long run."

Talking to Reid almost feels normal again, Morgan reflected. No tension, no argument, no icy silence. Maybe they were finally back on the road to friendship. The only question was what to do with the feelings that didn't fall into that friendship category.

Chapter Text

Reid finding out which art smith the daggers came from had been the breakthrough in their case. Back in his Quantico office, Morgan sat at his desk and reflected on how many cases they had solved simply because Reid had stored countless little details about everything possible and impossible in the infinite depths of his brain. And because he could retrieve that exactly when they needed it. Now it was just up to Morgan to write down the finer points of the case in a final report, a task that had fallen to him because he had been entrusted with solving the murder series from the beginning.

Morgan leaned back in his chair for a moment. During the questioning of the blacksmith, Reid had stayed in the background for a long time. Only when it came to the finer points of the dagger - which had after all shown a characteristic that had previously remained undiscovered - did he interfere. A Möbius loop, worked into a small heart, that had been the small mark Reid had discovered. To anyone else who hadn't been looking for it, it might even have looked like a material defect, so tiny was the stamping.

Tiny and yet full of meaning: eternal love. That's how Reid had interpreted the tiny mark. And if the tiny seal were not connected to a series of murders, Morgan would certainly have liked it.

Questioning the blacksmith had been a bit difficult at first. The man was a maverick - and that was a major understatement. He wasn't obliged to give out any customer data, he had said. He didn't keep a customer file anyway. And he didn't keep detailed records of who bought what from him - especially not if it was several years ago.

Only when Reid intervened, recalling that they had already spoken on the phone, and began to talk shop with the man about various weapons from some series and movies, did he become more accessible. Morgan never imagined that the movie database in Spencer's head could also help solve a case, but it did.

Unfortunately, the sketch of the possible perpetrator didn't give much away. The blacksmith himself had already noticed that his client was wearing a wig. In addition, he had hidden behind large mirrored sunglasses. Rather conspicuous clothing that appeared much too large had distracted from the rest of the man's appearance - so much so that the blacksmith couldn't even tell whether his customer had been taller or shorter than himself. But: the order had been placed by mail, and the customer had been careless enough to leave a cell phone number so that the blacksmith could contact him as soon as the ordered daggers were ready.

Morgan had gotten quite a scare when he had heard that the order amounted to a dozen of the weapons. That meant that their perpetrator might have nine more victims on his list if he wasn't stopped in time.

But in fact, thanks to Garcia's magical skills, they had succeeded. She had tracked down the cell phone and had actually been able to track down a name to go with the email address. Tom Reynolds was a life-scarred man in his late forties who had recently been betrayed and abandoned by his second wife - something he was then experiencing for the second time, having suffered the same fate with his first wife. Suffering from severe depression, he had tried to take his own life after separating from his first wife, but was unable to follow through. Four weeks after he was released from the hospital where he had been committed, he had begun with the murders.

Reynolds had a nose for cuckolded partners. He hadn't actively gone looking for people who had been cheated on by their partner. No, rather, he stumbled upon them everywhere. And he wanted to give them a redemption that he had not received. At irregular intervals, he killed a total of 14 people in Boston. As soon as he recognized signs of adultery or the like somewhere, he spied on the person in question. He memorized habits, daily routines, weak points - until he finally struck. He always left the dagger, the murder weapon and at the same time the symbol of restored honor, at the scene of the crime. He wanted to express that he did not kill in his own name, but only accomplished what the deceived themselves could not.

The murders had ended when Reynolds met his second wife. He was in seventh heaven, the depression was gone. And the relationship went very well for several years. The couple moved to New York because Mrs. Reynolds had received a lucrative job offer here. Tom Reynolds himself worked as a mechanic and got a job in a small garage. He didn't earn much, the main income was brought home by his wife, but neither seemed to care.

Until Reynolds caught his wife in bed with her boss one afternoon. He had injured himself at work and had been sent home by his boss. Had he worked until evening, he probably never would have found out about the affair.

Instead of flaring up and raving, he had collapsed and his wife had also taunted him for not being man enough to demand accountability from her. And then she had told him that she was going to divorce him anyway, that she would have her things picked up the next morning, and had disappeared with her lover.

Reynolds had then been catapulted back into depression. Two days off for his injury had turned into a termination for not showing up at work. Three months later, the landlord put him out on the street because he could no longer pay the rent. Reynolds ended up staying in a cheap flophouse. Thoughts of suicide boiled up again. But this time he realized right away that he would not go through with it. And so the killing began anew.

"Movies, and especially series, can truly become a kind of refuge for people disappointed in life and in despair," Spencer had explained to him at one point when he'd asked his opinion of why Reynolds, of all people, had resorted to such a striking weapon. "In this fantasy world, Reynolds simply still held the reins, while they had been snatched from him by his two wives in the real world. In principle, there's nothing wrong with such fantasies - as long as they don't spill over into real life."

Morgan glanced at the file in front of him and the blinking cursor on his monitor. It was time he not only completely reconsidered the case, but actually put it all down on paper.

But as he typed paragraph after paragraph, his mind kept wandering. The arrest of Tom Reynolds had been a small matter. After they had located his whereabouts and found him there, he had allowed himself to be arrested without resistance. Morgan suspected that a clever lawyer would plead insanity and thus be able to commute the prison sentence to a long-term stay in a closed facility.

With Reynolds behind bars, it was then just a matter of getting back to the hotel, packing things up and flying back to Quantico.

It had occurred to Morgan, of course, that Spencer had not secluded himself this time, but had taken his usual seat at the table. Morgan had plopped down in the seat across from him. He didn't want to miss the opportunity to watch the boy for a bit.

Morgan paused with his writing. It was crazy that he just couldn't stop thinking about Reid.

He seemed to be on a good path back to the old friendship. And Morgan was sure that if he kept his feet still now, didn't comment on Spencer's womanizing, and gave the Noche Cubana a wide berth, then in a week or two there would be none of the tension they'd just been through.

Only, in that case, he would have to be willing to distance himself from Reid quite a bit more again than he had in recent weeks. And he couldn't imagine that right now.

Garcia had told him several times that he should talk to Spencer. Maybe that really was the way to go. But maybe that was also the way he would catapult himself out of the picture with Spencer?

Couldn't he somehow signal interest without immediately attacking Spencer or verbally stabbing him in the chest? Something indirect, so to speak: I want to be around you, but I'll let you make the next move - something like that.

Morgan shook his head. If he kept this up, he'd still be working on the report at midnight. And he really didn't want to do that.

---

He felt as if he had been set back weeks in time. Yes, this time he knew exactly where he had to go, but what was waiting for him there was a big question mark?

Morgan slowly climbed the stairs to the upper floor of the Noche Cubana, from which the Latin American rhythms, already so familiar to him, sounded down. He was well aware that there were clearly more bad scenarios than good for what awaited him. Possibly Spencer wasn't there at all, but José or someone else was using the small dance hall. Or Spencer was there, but not alone. Maybe he used the favor of the hour to practice dance figures undisturbed with José - or for something else. Or Spencer was there and would throw him out of the room as soon as he turned the corner. Or ... or Spencer was there ...

He was there.

Derek cautiously peeked in the door to see if Spencer, who was standing by the stereo, had company. But he couldn't spot anyone.

He was about to make his presence known when Reid turned and saw him standing in the doorway.

"What are you doing here, Morgan?"

"Learning to dance?"

"I don't give lessons anymore."

"Does that mean you're giving up because you don't think you can teach me anything? Or are you just going to leave me hanging because you're mad at me?"

"You can't provoke me. Think what you want. My being a dance teacher is over once and for all."

"Then tell me this: why are you here?"

Morgan knew he'd hit the right spot when Reid didn't answer right away.

"I come here regularly, you know that," came Spencer's rather lame reply after a few seconds.

"Yeah, downstairs, to dance. But up here ... No, you're here because you wanted to see if I'd show up again. Surprise! Here I am!"

Spencer stared at him motionless, and Morgan took that as a sign he wasn't about to be thrown out. He entered the room and closed the door behind him. "Your friend can't teach me anything. I hope he told you that. That hour with him was a complete waste of time," Morgan declared, placing his jacket on a chair.

"You learned the promenade," Reid returned. "A move I haven't shown you yet, and wouldn't have shown you yet."

"Is that what he told you?"

"Sandra," was Spencer's curt reply.

"Then I hope she also told you that she taught me more than your friend." It was on the tip of Morgan's tongue to say partner or lover, but he held back. To completely antagonize Reid would be to throw any chance he had with him to the wind.

Morgan walked to the center of the dance floor. "Do you want me to start with basic steps again as a dry run?" he inquired.

"Why don't you just let it all go?" wanted Reid to know. "Can't you surprise Savannah with something else?"

Morgan wondered if perhaps he should now tell Reid that he was no longer with Savannah. However, that would lead to new discussions that ended with Reid telling him that there was no reason for the lessons at all anymore.

"No, I can't think of anything else," Morgan therefore declared. "So, basic steps or something else?"

Spencer shook his head and turned away. Morgan could see the boy was struggling with himself. Possibly he was trying to prevent a repeat of what happened the week before last. But Spencer certainly wouldn't be here if he hadn't also hoped or expected a tiny bit that he would insist on the dance lesson. Reid wandered up and down a few steps, running his fingers through his hair, which for once wasn't tied up. Today, he actually reminded Morgan more of the young FBI agent than the salsa dancer. The two personalities seemed to blur together more and more often, oddly enough.

"Get started, then," Spencer suddenly hissed. "You're going to practice step sequences because, according to Sandra, you don't have a plan of switching between figures. First without music, then with music."

"Okay," Morgan immediately said readily. "What do you want this to look like?"

"You get two minutes from me. Show me a varied cha cha."

"Without a dance partner?"

"Your time starts now!", Spencer ignored his question and pointed to the watch on his wrist.

Morgan understood: the kid was trying to make it extra hard for him so he'd give up himself. But really, Reid should know him better than that. He could rarely resist a challenge.

Obediently, Morgan got into position and, without a partner, simulated the dance posture that was beginning to become familiar to him. He counted two bars of the Cha Cha in his head to make himself aware of the rhythm - not so easy after not having heard any corresponding music today. He tried to ignore Spencer's impatient look. He knew that probably half of his time had already passed, but he didn't care. He wanted to get the step sequences right, not just fast.

Basic step, basic step, basic step - now something had to happen.

After the fourth basic step, Morgan pushed his imaginary partner into a solo turn. Then it was back to the basic step.

Basic step, basic step, basic step. The time had to be long past, but only now did Morgan feel confident enough for the promenade. Change hand position and then go. The steps worked - somehow. But Derek realized himself that he had gotten out of rhythm in the process. Certainly it would have been a little easier with music. But easy was something he clearly shouldn't have counted on today.

"Stop!" commanded Spencer as Morgan pulled his invisible partner back into a dancing posture. "Now this was supposed to be varied? Two minutes and all you get is a lady solo and a promenade? If I were Savannah, I'd be pretty bored."

Morgan knew Reid was trying to provoke him, but the shot - even if the boy didn't realize it yet - backfired straight. "See, and that's why I need your guidance," Derek promptly retorted. From the way Spencer's eyes minimally widened, he could tell that the latter understood what mistake he had just made.

"Then you'll get my instructions now. Two basic steps, lady solo, two basic steps, promenade, two basic steps, promenade, two basic steps and lady solo. And then again from the beginning. This is what your step sequence looks like now. Got it?"

Morgan nodded and immediately repeated the sequence again in his head.

"I'm going to put the music on for you. You're going to get two cha chas. In between songs, you're going to pause so you're also practicing starting again. You pay attention to the step sequence, making sure you stay in time, and your posture. Also, I want to see hip movements. Those were completely missing right now."

The drill sergeant was back. Reid really set the bar high, but Morgan wasn't about to back down.

"Ready to go," he merely returned in response, assuming a dancing posture.

Spencer turned on the music, then watched as Morgan tried to meet all the requirements. After Derek completed the first pass of the sequence of figures, Spencer disappeared from his view. But Derek knew better than to try to look around for the boy or even stop dancing. Concentrating, he continued the sequence of steps, trying to think of the appropriate hip movements as well. Once again he realized how strenuous and complicated dancing was. He would never have imagined it like this before.

After three or four minutes, the first cha cha faded out. Now Morgan dared to take a look behind him - and had to notice that there was no trace of Reid anymore.

Had the boy simply disappeared and left him here alone? What was that all about? Was he supposed to stop now? Was he trying to get him to end the dance lessons once and for all?

The music started up again.

Reid would surely know how long the songs were. Morgan wondered if he would reappear before the end of the second song.

He decided he might as well keep practicing until the second cha cha was over. If Spencer still was missing then, he might as well leave. So he returned to dancing posture, counted in a beat, and then started the step sequence again.

Morgan didn't know why he felt it, but in the middle of the song he suddenly had the feeling that he was no longer alone in the room. Sure enough, after a few seconds, he perceived Spencer slowly walking to the stereo, presumably waiting for the song to end. So he had indeed come back. Derek was a little relieved, because he hadn't been sure how he should have reacted if Spencer had just left him sitting there.

"That looks pretty good already," a voice at his back suddenly startled him as the last bar of the Cha Cha faded away.

"Sandra?" asked Derek in confusion, turning around. Sure enough, the girl was standing in the doorway.

"Hi!" she said shortly, waving at him.

"What ...?"

"Sandra is kind enough to practice a new step with you," Spencer interrupted him.

So that's where the wind is blowing from, Morgan thought to himself. Spencer had been looking for a way out and actually found one. Now that he was practicing regularly with Sandra, he could hardly object if she now made herself available as a practice partner during dance lessons.

"Hi, Sandra," Derek greeted the girl and gave her a small smile. After all, she couldn't help it if Spencer threw a stick between his legs at any advances.

Chapter Text

"Hola Spencer, cariño, te he estado esperando con nostalgia[1]", a young woman called out as soon as Morgan, Spencer and Sandra approached the usual group of Spencer's friends. And the next moment she already had her arms wrapped around Spencer's neck and pressed a kiss on his cheek. "¿Donde has estado tanto tiempo? Tenía miedo de que hubieras cambiado de opinión."[2]

The exotic beauty, who had dyed her presumably black hair fiery red, looked up at Spencer from below with a pout.

"No, claro que no, Teresa. No digo a la ligera que quiero bailar con alguien. Y lo digo en serio acerca de querer desarrollar mi baile contigo"[3], Spencer returned. With that, he slowly freed himself from her clinging grip, but in return put his arm around her waist and pressed a small kiss on her cheek, smiling.

Morgan stared at the scene in front of him and once again understood nothing. Who was this woman and what did she want from Spencer? Was this his next mistress? If so, he could only repeat that Reid had pretty good taste, at least when it came to looks. The woman was slim, but had seductive curves in just the right places. And she accentuated them with a tight-fitting black top that featured a plunging neckline and a fringed skirt that reached just above her knee.

"Hola Sandra, gusto en verte de nuevo"[4], the woman next addressed Sandra. "¿Es tu novio? Realmente atrapaste a un chico guapo allí."[5]

Okay, now it was about him. Morgan understood that much - especially since the woman was eyeing him curiously from top to bottom. And at the same moment, Sandra started giggling. "¡Oh, no! ¡Eso sería horrible! Es demasiado mayor para mí. ¡Podría ser mi padre!"[6]

Morgan looked back and forth between the women in confusion, and then had to notice that Spencer, who was standing between them, was grinning broadly.

"Would you mind filling me in on what's going on?" demanded Morgan of Spencer, irritated. "I get the impression these two are making fun of me at my expense."

The woman just blathered on unapologetically, "¿Ahora tu papi de azúcar está enojado por estar expuesto? no parece entender mucho, ¿verdad? Si no lo desea, puede dármelo, siempre que tenga más que cambio en su billetera."[7] And Sandra promptly burst into more giggles.

"Hey, what are you saying? Will someone tell me what this is about?" demanded Morgan.

"This is Teresa, Spencer's new dance partner," Sandra finally enlightened him, still effortfully stifling her laughter.

"And what's so funny about that?"

"Maybe that you were first appointed boyfriend and then demoted to sugar daddy in the space of half a minute," Spencer explained with a laugh, patting Morgan on the back. "Don't hold it against Teresa. It was meant as a compliment. She even said she'd let you put up with her, too, because you're so pretty."

"Sorry," Teresa interjected with a smile, holding out her hand to Morgan. "It's nice to meet you, Sandra's non-boyfriend." And at that, she winked at him.

Spencer and Sandra burst out laughing again. But then Spencer composed himself and explained, "Teresa, this is Derek Morgan, a friend of mine who I'm teaching some dance steps. And he really doesn't have anything going on with Sandra."

"Hmm...," Teresa made there, letting her gaze sweep Morgan from top to bottom again. "In that case, you're welcome to join my dance card sometime - when Spencer isn't available right now."

To Morgan's ears, Teresa's words sounded more than ambiguous. And this was reinforced by Spencer's next comment.

"Teresa, you're not going to be unfaithful to me already, are you?" inquired Spencer, playfully indignant. Or did that really resonate with something like jealousy?, Morgan immediately pondered.

"Oh, no. I'm all yours. Shall we show people that right now?" purred Teresa and pressed herself closer to Spencer. He gave her a quick wink and then pushed her ahead of him toward the dance floor. "Let's put on a little show," Spencer heard him say.

This time, Morgan was sure it was jealousy - jealousy he himself painfully felt as he watched the couple pull away. And he could guess what kind of spectacle would now follow. It's just silly that he felt as drawn to the dance floor as Spencer's friends, not wanting to miss the show Spencer was about to put on.

"Have you ever seen them dance together?" inquired Derek to Sandra in passing.

She nodded immediately, destroying Derek's hope that perhaps Spencer hadn't known Teresa long and therefore there was still a chance to push her out of his circle of friends again.

"She's not as good as Fernanda. But Fernanda wasn't as good before Spencer either," Sandra explained as she positioned herself so she could watch the entire floor. "Spencer has already slipped in a practice session or two with her to work on some technical tweaks. I'm curious to see if you can tell she's making progress yet."

A lump formed in Morgan's throat. Had that been the reason Reid had sent José to him, then? Had he been dumped for the next best dancer? Derek was beginning to get the impression that Teresa was becoming unsympathetic to him.

"I think you've seen a paso before, haven't you?" inquired Sandra of him as the first bars of a new song played.

"A what?"

"A paso doble. Spencer must have requested that one, because it's rarely played. Unlike a lot of other dances, you can't dance that one in a confined space at all. If I'm not mistaken, Spencer showed that one with someone a few weeks ago. I'm excited to see what kind of show he puts on with Teresa."

So Spencer had thought of something special for the show with Teresa, too. Morgan felt a twinge in his chest again. "Well, I'm curious to see what there is to see," he tried to answer nonchalantly. But he had the impression that everyone should hear the tension in his voice.

He would only too gladly know what was actually going on here. Teresa didn't seem to be a stranger, at least to Sandra. He wondered if he could elicit more from her.

"Say, do you have any plans for tomorrow night?" he inquired quickly as he watched Spencer and Teresa slowly enter the dance floor.

"Is that supposed to be a pickup line now? Did Teresa give you any ideas?" inquired Sandra with a laugh. "I thought we'd worked out that I am too young for you."

"No, oh my God!" exclaimed Morgan, "Don't get me wrong, you're pretty and smart and ..."

"Yes, yes, all right," Sandra reassured him. "What are you asking about?"

"I wanted to take you out to dinner. As a thank you for practicing with me all the time. Today you did so much, I definitely owe you one. I was thinking I could just take you somewhere nice."

Sandra just nodded, but didn't take her eyes off the dancing couple. "I won't say no to that. But now eyes forward. Otherwise you'll miss out."

Just a few seconds later, it was clear that Morgan really would have missed something if he hadn't watched Spencer's show carefully. The Paso Doble was completely different from the version he had recently seen. It was a completely different kind of dance than he had encountered so far at the club. The dance was extremely spacey and almost aggressive, a kind of duel between the two dance partners who met at eye level and fought for dominance. But for Morgan, it was quite clear that Spencer would emerge victorious from this battle.

With his chest swelling with pride, the boy moved to the music, which was dominated by flamenco rhythms. He twirled his dance partner around, but this time she was not the cuddly complement, but a kind of challenger. And yet the dance was marked by an improbable eroticism.

Derek had to admit unapologetically that Reid had picked a dance partner who was once again an excellent match for him. If a painter had painted a flamenco couple - this is what it should have looked like.

Their heels clacked across the floor as Teresa pushed Spencer off of her, but he grabbed her wrist, pulled her back to him, and took a few steps with her in a dancing posture and wide turns across the floor before twirling her off of him in a solo spin. They circled each other, heads slightly lowered and their gazes almost piercing each other. Oh, how Spencer was right to insist that eye contact was so important. How much of the sparking tension between them came from that alone! Spencer reached for Teresa's hands again, pulling her to him and leading her around him in flamenco steps. Finally, he pulled her hands over her head, spun her around in front of him, and with the final notes of the Paso Doble, brought her to the floor in front of him, where she wrapped her arms tightly around his legs.

It was clear who had won the duel.

Cheers, clapping and loud whistles drowned out the beats of the next song as Spencer and Teresa left the dance floor.

Derek followed the couple with his gaze until he lost sight of them among the dancers who were now streaming back onto the floor. He would too gladly congratulate Spencer on this feat, even if it meant he probably had to congratulate him on his choice of dance partner. The red-haired beauty definitely fit the role of flamenco dancer perfectly.

But apparently Spencer had no desire to go back to his friends. Morgan couldn't spot him anywhere. Had the boy already left the club? Or had he retreated somewhere with Teresa? Because his dance partner didn't show up anymore either.

"Well? Do you want to try another Cha Cha?", Sandra snapped him out of his thoughts.

"Um, yeah, why not," Derek returned somewhat absently, then followed the girl onto the dance floor. He should be concentrating on his steps right now, but his gaze promptly wandered back along the edge of the dance floor.

"I don't think he'll be back so soon," Sandra said, as if she could read minds.

"Spencer? Why not?" inquired Derek immediately as he assumed dance posture, trying to pick up the cha-cha rhythm despite the conversation.

"He went upstairs with Teresa. It'll be at least an hour before he shows his face here again."

It was on the tip of Morgan's tongue to ask what Reid was doing upstairs with his dance partner when the music was playing down here. But he held back. During such a discussion, he would certainly not succeed in getting his steps right. Besides, he would hopefully have enough time tomorrow to ask Sandra about anything that interested him.

 

Translations:

[1] “Hello Spencer, my darling, I have been waiting for you eagerly.”

[2] „Where have you been for so long? I was afraid that you had changed your mind.“

[3] “No, of course not, Teresa. I don't say lightly that I want to dance with someone. And I'm serious about wanting to develop my dancing with you.”

[4] “Hello Sandra, nice to see you again.”

[5] „Is this your boyfriend? You sure got yourself a handsome one.“

[6] “Oh no! That would be terrible! He's much too old for me. He could be my father.”

[7] “Is your sugar daddy mad now because he's been exposed? Doesn't seem to understand much, does he? If you don't want him, you're welcome to cede him to me - as long as he's got more than change in his wallet.”

Chapter Text

"Wow, this place is really fancy. It's a good thing I'm not wearing jeans and a T-shirt," Sandra commented as she and Morgan entered the establishment he had chosen for the evening. The two stopped at the reception desk while Sandra surveyed the establishment with curious eyes. It was an Italian restaurant where Morgan had been a few times before with Savannah. The food was excellent, the place classy, but the staff friendly and as accommodating as if each guest were a member of the family.

"You look very nice," Morgan commented on Sandra's outfit, a shiny silver top with which she wore a tight but knee-length skirt.

"I've been trying to find something dignified in my closet. It worked out so-so," Sandra returned with a smile.

Morgan laughed. "It didn't have to be dignified because of me."

"Says the man who pulled out a white shirt and jacket. I'm already glad you're not wearing a suit. Otherwise I'd feel like I was dressed wrong for my own prom right now."

"Mr. Morgan, it's nice to have you with us again," a waiter interrupted them. "May I show you and your companion to your table?"

Derek nodded, then let Sandra go ahead so she could follow the waiter between tables.

Sandra's bright eyes told him that he was really giving the girl a treat with dinner. A little late it occurred to him that he didn't really know anything about her, apart from her age and her fondness for dancing. The way she looked around, he could only assume that she couldn't afford to go out to eat in such a place herself, nor had she ever had anyone at her side - whether family or friend - who would have financed such an evening for her.

It was about time he turned out the gentleman and rewarded Sandra for her courtesy and patience with him.

"I'll take care of that," he told the waiter as he tried to pull out the chair for Sandra. Gallantly, he helped her sit down while she giggled quietly to herself.

When Morgan had seated himself, the waiter handed them the menu. "May I bring you and your date an appetizer while you make your choice?" the waiter inquired. "A martini, perhaps, and a glass of champagne for the lady?"

Morgan gave Sandra a quick wink, then nodded. "That sounds excellent, Stefano." Again he was rewarded with a giggle from Sandra, who, not being 21 yet, really shouldn't have ordered alcohol. But who would be so particular about that today?

"Do you perhaps have another recommendation for us? I know there's usually an insider tip that's not on the menu."

"For you, of course, always, Mr. Morgan," the waiter said with a smile. "For an appetizer today, I could offer you an excellent saffron risotto with shrimp. And for the main course, our chef has another exquisite pasta with lobster chunks in a dill white wine sauce for special guests."

"That sounds excellent," Morgan reflected, "but we'll still look at the rest of the menu."

Stefano nodded, then went to bring the appetizer."

Sandra's eyes widened as she opened the menu, immediately seeing the prices. "Hui, I'm glad you said you were going to take me out. I could never afford this," she commented.

"The evening is supposed to be special," Derek returned with a smile.

"But we still agree that this isn't a date, right?", Sandra suspiciously probed.

"Absolutely," laughed Derek. "I'll try to refrain from any flirting, too."

Sandra giggled. "You can't do that, can you?"

"I'll do my best. But now tell me: can you find something you might like? Or should we order the waiter's recommendation?"

After a moment's thought, it was clear: the risotto and pasta sounded too good not to order.

Finally, as the martini and champagne were placed in front of them, Morgan mused about how he could slowly move on to the topics that so intrigued him.

"Where do you go like this when you go out to eat? I like variety. Maybe you have another tip for me?"

"To the nearest burger joint? I'm afraid I can't afford to go out for a fancy meal like that," Sandra told him, giving him the opportunity to ask her about her private life. And so Morgan immediately asked how she earned her money. By the time the appetizer was served - to which they had both ordered water - he had found out that she worked as a cashier at a supermarket just a few blocks from Noche Cubana. She had grown up in the same neighborhood and had lived with her family until a year ago - six of them in an apartment that wasn't too big. She actually had a good high school diploma, but lacked the money, so studying was out of the question.

"Every now and then, talent scouts come to Noche Cubana and look for dancers for shows or for television. I always hope that I'll get a chance someday. Then maybe I could go to university with the money," Sandra confessed.

"And what would you want to study?" inquired Derek.

"Law, criminology, international law - something along those lines. There are so many exciting majors."

"Have you looked into getting a scholarship?"

"I'm not good enough to do that, unfortunately," Sandra confessed. "My degree is good, but not outstanding enough for anyone to pay me to go to college."

Derek could well imagine that Sandra would be a hardworking student who wanted to make something of herself. That showed itself in that she saw a dance career as just a step toward a larger goal. He would check with Garcia to see if she could look for a suitable scholarship. His baby girl, with all her computer wizardry, might turn up something that could help.

"And you met Spencer at Noche Cubana?", Morgan carefully motioned in the direction he wanted to steer the conversation with an initial question.

Sandra nodded. "A friend took me there. I think it's been almost two years since I first went. I'm sure you can imagine Spencer was hard to miss."

Derek grinned. Even out of a huge crowd of people, the boy stood out on the dance floor. After all, he'd experienced that himself.

"Then were you also among the gaggle of girls who wanted a spot on his dance card?" asked Morgan with a smile.

"I'd say I was more like one of the wallflowers he got on the floor. I didn't have a clue what was going on after all, and only knew a few basic steps of salsa, mambo, cha cha and samba."

That fit, too. Derek had already figured, after all, that the do-gooder Spencer took care of the girls who would otherwise stay in the background.

"Did he teach you to dance then?"

Now, surprisingly, Sandra shook her head. "Spencer doesn't actually give lessons to beginners. Yes, he dances with them once or twice, but mostly to see who has potential. And then he introduces them to other people. Samuel was kind of my dance teacher. You may have noticed him, the tall dark-haired guy who hardly speaks a word."

Derek mused. He could faintly remember a tall, dark-haired man who always kept to the background of Spencer's friends. But he didn't have a face in mind of him. "Sorry, but I can't really picture him right now. You'll have to introduce us properly next time. And it was to this Samuel that Spencer introduced you then?"

"Yeah, sort of. Spencer knows almost everyone in the club and knows who dances at what level and who is looking for a partner. He puts the right people together. Just funny ..."

Sandra broke off and regarded Derek thoughtfully.

"What's funny?"

"Just funny that he hasn't found you a suitable dance partner by now. After all, Spencer knows that I dance mostly with Samuel and that we get along great. So it would stand to reason that he would introduce you to a dancer who could help you get started and maybe continue dancing with you."

Indeed, that now struck Morgan as odd as well. "Maybe it's because I actually wanted to learn to dance because of my friend Savannah."

Sandra looked askance at Derek. "Actually?"

But before Morgan could answer, Stefano appeared and served the pasta with lobster.

"Wow, this looks great!" gasped Sandra as the elegantly decorated plate was placed in front of her.

"Rest assured, miss, it tastes just the same," Stefan whispered to her playfully, then set the second plate down in front of Morgan. "May I offer some wine to go with the main course?"

Morgan glanced briefly over at Sandra. When she nodded with a smile, he asked Stefano for two glasses of white wine. A whole bottle would certainly be too much, but a little glass wouldn't hurt the girl.

No sooner had Stefano disappeared from the table than Sandra was wrapping the noodles around her fork. "This is really excellent," she enthused as she tried the first bite."

"And the lobster tops it off," Morgan commented, pointing to the bits Sandra hadn't even tested yet.

Absorbed in their food, it took a bit for Sandra and Derek to return to their conversation.

"Why did you say 'actually'?" the girl inquired abruptly.

"Actually? When did I say actually?"

"You said that you actually wanted to learn to dance because of your girlfriend. Why actually? It sounds like your reasons have changed."

Morgan shrugged. "I'd say it's more like my relationship status has changed."

"Oh my! I'm sorry to hear that. Did she break up with you or did you break up with her? Oh, sorry. I shouldn't be so nosy."

Morgan laughed softly as Sandra poked her head in. "That's all right. I'm nosy, too, after all. She dumped me, but she probably just beat me to it. I think ... no, I'm pretty sure that relationship wasn't built to last."

And amazingly, Derek was absolutely sure about that now. Thinking back a few weeks, hadn't he been trying to talk himself into the relationship, yet at the same time trying to push commitment like marriage or children far away? He should have realized by then that something was no longer right.

"And you still keep dancing?"

Derek nodded. "When I start something, I follow through. At least to the point where I either run into limitations that I can't overcome, or until I know that the thing is clearly not for me. And so far, I haven't reached either of those points with the dance lessons."

"Maybe that's because Spencer sees that you're still on the fence about making dancing a permanent part of your life. So it would just be a disappointment to any potential dance partner if she had to give you up after a few weeks."

Morgan had to laugh. "I think you mean it would be more of a relief if she got rid of me then. I truly have no illusions about my talent."

But Sandra shook her head. "What makes you think you'd be so bad?"

"Maybe because Spencer has only taught me two dances so far, and of those, only two figures besides the basic step?"

"And the result is better basic steps than you see from many a dancer who has been training for a year or two. The approach has nothing to do with the result. Spencer teaches you fundamentals that you can use to excel yourself."

The girl might be at least partially right about that. Morgan was aware that Spencer kept asking him to assess his own progress and shortcomings, and to define for himself where the goal lay that he needed to achieve. And he kept giving him leeway to explore the path to that goal for himself.

"So you don't think I'm a lost cause?"

"Fishing for compliments? You don't need that, do you?"

Morgan grinned. "Confirmation just feels good sometimes."

"Before you get me stroking your ego too much, tell me about yourself? Besides your taste in music and that you have an ex-girlfriend, I don't really know much about you. For example, where did you meet Spencer?"

Morgan frowned. "He didn't tell you that? I thought he would have filled you in on that the first night."

Sandra shook her head. "All he said was that you were a friend. That's all."

"I ... I work with Spencer," Morgan said slowly. And now he was thinking about how much Sandra and the others from the club really knew about Spencer Reid outside of the dance club.

"And what do you guys do? Spencer pretty much never talks about his work."

That settled the question.

"Well ... um ... if Spencer didn't tell you that ... well, I don't know if I should tell you that."

"Well, you could just tell me what kind of job you have, couldn't you?"

Derek smiled. "Little bitch!" he scolded playfully. "Are you trying to snitch on me about Spencer in the back?" And the next moment an unpleasant thought occurred to him. "Are you perhaps interested in him after all?"

"Oh, God, no!" immediately groaned Sandra, nearly choking on a noodle. "I told you before, you guys are way too old for me."

"Well, Spencer is still eight years younger than me."

"And still more than ten years older than me. Really: no thanks!"

"But you're still curious."

"Wouldn't you be?"

"I thought you guys had like a code of honor there, that you don't ask each other about others?

"The code of honor applies at the club."

Morgan raised his eyebrows. That sounded better than he'd hoped for there. Maybe Sandra really was a bountiful source of information tonight.

"Okay, let's make a deal: I'll answer all your questions and you answer mine. And no one finds out about what we're talking about here. Especially not Spencer. Okay?"

Sandra immediately held out her hand to him, "Deal! Punch it!"

Morgan pulled her hand toward him and placed a little kiss on it. "May I remind you that we are in a fine establishment. I think this gesture might be more appropriate for our deal."

Sandra giggles. "And you weren't going to flirt!"

Chapter Text

Morgan quickly handed Sandra her napkin as the girl threw a coughing fit. He hadn't thought it would be such a shock to her to learn that he and Spencer were with the FBI.

"Really? You're not messing with me here? You are both agents?" she echoed incredulously as she regained her composure and took a sip of water.

"Yes, I swear to you. Do you want to see my badge, too?"

"Did you bring it?"

Grinning broadly, Morgan pulled his ID out of his pants pocket and slid it over to Sandra. "Wow. I've never met an FBI agent in person before. And I always thought you were all haughty, unfriendly, and fat."

Now Morgan almost had to laugh it off. "Where did you get that idea? The only one in our unit who might have an itty bitty belly, that's Rossi. And yet he's fit as a fiddle. And very nice, if you're not a criminal."

Sandra shook her head again as she handed the ID back to Morgan. "But Spencer? He doesn't look like an agent at all. And he doesn't act like one either. He's not that serious at all; he's always in a good mood and joking around."

"Well, you can imagine the shock I got when I first saw him at the club. In the office, Spencer almost always wears a tie, a vest over his shirt, and corduroy pants too readily. He often trips over his own feet and is ... I can't put it any other way ... he's usually pretty shy. If a girl even looks at him, he turns bright red in the face. ... Although ..."

"That's not Spencer! You're really pulling my leg. Spencer and awkward? Spencer and shy? That doesn't go together at all! And what do you mean by 'although'?"

Morgan wondered if he had already given too much away to Sandra. But somehow he trusted that she was really keeping this conversation to herself. "Spencer has changed over the last few weeks. I don't know exactly what it is, but he's coming out more for sure and becoming more open," he tried a very rough paraphrase of his observations. He hesitated for a moment, but then continued, "I know I shouldn't be asking this, but I trust you to really keep this between us."

Sandra nodded promptly.

"How many people from the club is Spencer sleeping with?"

Sandra's eyes widened in shock. "Sorry, but that's really a very offensive question. Why do you even want to know that? I thought you guys were friends? Don't you guys talk about stuff like that? Just between you guys?"

Morgan shook his head. "I've unfortunately had to realize over the past few weeks that there's a lot in Spencer's life that he's never told me about. And a few weeks ago, I would have sworn stone and soul that he was still a virgin."

"And now you want me to tell you who he's having sex with? What makes you think I could know that?"

Morgan shrugged. "You've probably heard more about his personal life at the club than I have outside of it."

"Again, why do you want to know? Do you collect notches on the bedpost at the FBI for every woman you've laid, and now you're afraid Spencer might top you?"

The notion was so nonsensical that Morgan had to hold on to himself to keep from laughing out loud. "Oh, you have no idea how conservative some of us are. There's certainly no such frivolous competition. It's ... well ... at my first dance lesson ... I caught him almost in the act, so to speak, at the club. He never mentioned the man after that, though. And now ... well, I have the impression that he started something with Teresa. But at the same time, there seems to be a sudden flirtation in the office. And ... man ... that just makes me curious."

"You're talking about José," Sandra promptly noted.

"Um ... yeah. So you know about the relationship?

"Let's put it this way: I know they used to be together. I didn't know it was still current, or current again."

"A longer relationship?"

"Was going on when I first came to the club. My friend warned me at the time not to fall for Spencer because he was taken and extremely faithful."

Now that didn't fit at all with the image Morgan had recently gained of Reid. After all, the accumulation of affairs had nothing to do with fidelity. "And what else? Is he involved with any of his dance partners?"

"With regard to Fernanda, he has already answered that question himself. I'm sure he never had anything going on with her. And apart from that? Well, Spencer likes to flirt. For him, that's also part of dancing. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to create the atmosphere that captivates everyone watching him. But I don't think he went to bed with any of the girls. And Teresa? I don't know. But I can't really imagine that at all. Especially not if, as you say, he's still got something going on with José."

Spencer was increasingly becoming a walking contradiction in Morgan's eyes. First, the shy FBI agent suddenly met the extroverted dancer. Then there was Spencer, loyal to the core, who was suddenly confronted by an edition of Reid, who was obviously seducing rows and rows of female students in the office. How many personalities were actually in his friend and colleague?

"But you're really extremely curious about Spencer's potential relationships. Isn't there maybe something more to it?"

Morgan gulped. Why did the women around him always have to be so quick on the uptake lately? Could just anyone read him like an open book?

"No, not really," he returned. "Spencer is just so closed off in the office. Now that I'm experiencing him so differently, I want to know everything about him." He could only pray that Sandra would swallow that. But the girl tilted her head and looked at him scrutinizingly.

"It can't be by any chance that you're homophobic?"

Morgan was glad he hadn't taken a sip from the glass he was about to put to his lips. He coughed, startled, and quickly set the glass down. "Excuse me?" he asked, as if he hadn't heard right.

"You heard me already: Are you homophobic? Are you afraid a man who's gay or bi might rub off on you?"

Morgan took a deep breath and exhaled, then shook his head vehemently. "To be honest, then I would have to be afraid of myself. My interest has zero to do with whether Spencer is into women or men or both."

"You're bisexual?"

Morgan didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the fact that Sandra was now taking the focus away from Spencer and putting it completely on him instead. He nodded cautiously.

"Is that why your girlfriend left you?"

"No, no, that certainly wouldn't have been a reason for Savannah."

Sandra propped her arms on the table and leaned closer to him. "Then you cheated?"

"Um ... well ... she left me because first she thought I was having an affair with Fernanda, and then she got the idea I was having an affair with a colleague who was merely staying over to comfort me ... precisely because Savannah broke up with me." That wasn't a lie, Morgan told herself. Savannah, after all, had no idea that in truth Spencer was the one with whom he had cheated on her.

"That doesn't answer my question."

Morgan frowned. "Why? I told you why she left me, didn't I?"

"And I asked you if you cheated."

Morgan felt his face grow warm. "You should start working for the police or the FBI. Interrogating people, you've obviously mastered that."

"And that's still not an answer."

"I didn't have anything with Fernanda, nor with my colleague Penelope."

"We've been down that road before," Sandra persisted.

Morgan swallowed. "There was a little slip-up there. But she didn't hear about that."

Sandra leaned back comfortably in her chair and looked at him with a grin. "See, that wasn't so hard."

"And I mean it: you should come to us. They could use people like you at the FBI: little bull terriers who'll tug at you until they get the info they wanted."

Sandra grinned even wider. "If you get me in there, I might even consider it."

Morgan bristled. "Honestly?"

The girl shrugged. "This is probably just diversionary tactics on your part now, but I told you I was interested in law or criminology. The FBI isn't that far off there now. But I guess they only want people who've finished law school, too."

"Not a diversionary tactic ... so not only," Morgan grinned wryly. "I'll look into what training programs we have. But only if you promise me something."

"That I won't tell anyone about your fling?"

"That would be nice, but that's not what I mean. You have to promise me that if you come to us, you won't become a split personality like Spencer. Twice Jekyll and Hyde, I can't stand that!"

Sandra laughed happily. "Well, I can assure you of that. I'll certainly never wear ties and cardigans either."

Morgan joined in the laughter. He would definitely look into it to see if there was a training program that would suit Sandra. And apparently, along the way, he had now managed to draw the girl's attention away from himself again after all.

"And now you're going to tell me what you and Spencer were fighting about."

Morgan buried her face in her hands. "What did I get myself into at this dinner," he muttered, but clearly audible to Sandra.

"I may not be 21 yet, but I'm not stupid. When Spencer calls me to suddenly back you up on dance lessons, and you take me out to dinner afterwards, something's up. Even more so if you're trying to ask me about Spencer." Sandra tilted her head and eyed Morgan again urgently. "If I were to guess anything right now, I'd say you've got a guilty conscience. Did you perhaps cheat with the girl you referred to earlier as Spencer's 'flirtation in the office'?"

Half-truths, he needed believable half-truths. Sandra would never buy an outright lie from him. She was apparently far too clever for that.

"Yes, we had an argument. Yes, I have a guilty conscience. But no, it's not about Spencer's potential affair at the office, nor did I start anything with anyone there. And what we were fighting about, sorry, I'm definitely keeping that to myself. That, my dear, is really none of your business."

Sandra pulled a little pout, but the next moment she was smiling again. "I think you've told me enough," she said, then sipped from her wine glass. "Do you think there's any dessert in it for me if I stop torturing you with questions."

"If you want, you're welcome to order up and down the entire dessert menu. If you stop interrogating me, I'll spare no expense," Morgan smiled back. And at the same time, he waved at Stefano. Dessert was certainly a good idea.

Chapter Text

Sandra had kept her end of the bargain: she had actually stopped digging into what had caused the disagreement between Derek and Spencer. But it had finally been Morgan who had brought up the subject again. In the process, he had to learn that Spencer had pressured Sandra to now show up for the dance lessons every Friday night and dance with him. In return, Spencer had promised to give her a few lessons himself.

Morgan had had to use all his powers of persuasion, but finally he had managed to get Sandra to cancel Spencer for the next Friday on totally short notice. He wanted, he had convinced Sandra, to use the opportunity to be alone with Spencer to settle the disagreement. And in a way, that was true. Because for Morgan, it was clear by now that he wanted to find out what was there between him and Spencer that was driving him more in the boy's direction every day. And he wanted to know why Spencer was so resistant to this feeling, which he had to feel as well.

So it had come to pass that Spencer had reluctantly stepped back in as a dance partner and was now repeating the steps with Morgan that he had taught him last time.

"Where's the eye contact," Morgan growled, dropping his arms. He braced his hands on his hips and looked challengingly at Reid. "You've been on my case about this forever. And now? Where's your eye contact now, please?"

From the look on Spencer's face, Morgan could tell the boy wasn't expecting to be confronted with his own lesson. But Derek knew by now what a difference it made whether the little details Reid was so fond of were right or not.

"I need to check your step size in the mirror," Spencer returned. "If you keep this up, I'm going to have to get the straps out again."

"Don't talk nonsense. My steps are small enough and you've never had to look in the mirror to check it before."

Spencer sighed and turned away. "You've been trying to avoid eye contact forever, haven't you? You should be glad I don't insist on it anymore."

"Except now I can apparently handle it, but I guess you can't. I'm supposed to jump over my own shadow, just as your lordship commands. And what about you? Can't you even stick to your own rules? I'm starting to get the feeling that you back down and take flight whenever I make progress or when I'm not quite so easily manipulated by you anymore. Maybe your two sides aren't all that dissimilar after all. Maybe even here on the floor, you just get rattled too easily as soon as someone counters you."

Morgan knew he was provoking Reid immensely. But he didn't care. He wanted to see behind that facade, he wanted to know what made Spencer tick. And if the latter always avoided him, then he would just push him into a corner until he couldn't go back any further.

"You can't rattle me here at all," Spencer now promptly returned. "This is my territory here. You want eye contact? Can you even hold that? Are you going to run away again? Or ... or do you lose your self-control again?"

"Try it if you have the guts."

Now Spencer was definitely maintaining eye contact, and he was glaring at Morgan with a mixture of pride and anger. Then he reached for the remote and turned on the music. "How about a rumba, three minutes 56 seconds, can you keep it up?"

Morgan made no reply, but reached for Spencer's hand and brought it into dancing position. His gaze literally bored into Spencer's as he counted through the first two bars in his head before beginning the first basic step.

Immediately, the tingling sensation that he had come to associate with Spencer and the closeness to him returned. Reid had to feel that too, that sizzle between them whenever they looked into each other's eyes like that.

Morgan would have liked to immediately forget all about the steps and pull Spencer to him with both arms. This was where the boy belonged, with him, not with José or some stupid student who just looked at him with big eyes and didn't even have ten percent of the intelligence that Spencer had.

But he held back. He wanted to show Spencer with the dance and with his gaze that there was more between them than work and friendship.

Morgan led Reid into a spin. He would have liked to pat himself on the back as he did so. Not only did he think the figure was nearly perfect. He also managed to really only lose Reid's eyes for the few seconds his back was turned. The moment he turned his head back to him, their gazes were firmly locked again.

Morgan finally understood what Spencer was really trying to teach him. These little details, they had meaning and spoke their own language. Derek felt the hip movements that Spencer so expertly incorporated into each step. They made this dance. That sensual, seductive movement, it promised so much, hinted at what could come after the dance.

Derek had to use all his concentration not to get lost in these movements, which he could only imitate extremely mediocrely, and not to forget that there was more to the rumba than the basic step. He let another turn follow and then transitioned smoothly into the promenade, immediately missing the eye contact that was not possible here. After two repetitions, Derek therefore brought Spencer back into the dance position, grinning a bit because he had once again managed this flawlessly. Now came the showpiece: Fan and Alemana. There was no way he was going to tell Spencer how many YouTube videos on proper leading he had watched over the course of the week to memorize what he had to do. Yes, the ladies' steps were definitely more complex. But if he didn't lead, he had memorized, everything went wrong.

With a smooth movement at just the right time, Morgan signaled the new figure and then pushed Spencer away from him, never taking his eyes off him for a second. That was it, that feeling of being able to say anything with a look. And now Derek wanted to use it to signal that Spencer should come back - and not just for this figure.

A soft tingle ran down Morgan's right arm as he finally put it around Spencer again. But this time he had the impression that the feeling wasn't coming from him at all, but was actually coming from Reid. He would have loved to feel under his shirt now to see if a cold shiver had just run down the boy's spine and if he now had goose bumps there. Derek repeated the sequence of steps again: solo spin, promenade and finally Fan and Alemana. He knew the song they were dancing to pretty well. And so he timed the return to the basic step exactly with the last bars of the song.

He felt as if he had just run a marathon when he faced Spencer again, placed his hand just below his shoulder blade once more, and paused in that position. His heart was pounding, and at Spencer's neck he saw that the young genius's pulse had quickened as well.

Morgan let his hand slide a little lower. Either Spencer would admonish him in a moment that this had nothing to do with proper dance posture anymore, or ...

Spencer swallowed, but said nothing. For Morgan, that was signal enough to move into an entirely different dance. With his right hand he pulled Spencer closer to him, while with his left he gripped the back of his neck. Morgan didn't give him any more time to object. He pressed his lips firmly to Spencer's and captured his mouth as Reid gasped in surprise.

It didn't take long for Spencer to return the kiss. But when Derek broke the kiss briefly to gasp for air, it seemed to bring Spencer back to the present. "Don't," he whispered in silent protest, turning his head to the side before Morgan could kiss him again. But Derek took the opportunity to cover Spencer's chin and neck with kisses instead. He had to smile a little at the fact that he felt more fuzz than stubble there, despite the hour being so advanced, while he knew full well that his face felt considerably rougher.

"This is wrong," Spencer muttered, but his body didn't quite know what it wanted. While Reid, on the one hand, braced himself against Morgan with his hands, he bent his head so that Morgan could get an even better grip on his neck. And Derek saw the hairs stand up there as a quiet shiver trickled down his spine.

"Something that feels so right can't be wrong," Morgan growled back softly, then worked Spencer's neck with his teeth. As he did so, he reached out with the hand he hadn't closed around the boy's back and pulled one of his own hands off his chest, instantly lessening the resistance.

Morgan brought his lips back to Spencer's and played out the full repertoire of his seduction skills, distracting the boy with his kisses enough that he didn't realize where he was carefully steering them. Derek brought Spencer's hand behind the latter's back and captured it with the other one lying there. Reid didn't even seem to realize it, but came to meet him with the tip of his tongue in little kisses.

When Spencer let out a sigh, Morgan took the opportunity and started nibbling on his lower lip, eliciting a soft whimper from the boy.

Cleverly taking advantage of having Spencer so completely distracted, Morgan slowly pushed him toward the wall, where his jacket also lay. This time he was prepared.

"Whew," escaped Spencer as his back was pushed against the radiator, bringing him back from the fog of pleasure. "What ...? Morgan, stop ... stop," Spencer stammered as the turned his face away from Morgan, trying to prevent him from taking his voice away with more kisses. "I ... I want ..."

"Your body tells me exactly what you want," Derek growled, pressing close to Spencer. "You feel it, too, don't you?" He pushed his knee between Spencer's legs, where his arousal was more than evident. "And this time, we'll both get what we need."

"What ... what is ... this supposed to ... mean?" brought out Spencer, gasping. "Let me ..."

Morgan grabbed Spencer's chin with her free hand, held him tight, and then kissed him again, full of passion. As Spencer closed his eyes and surrendered to the kiss, Derek withdrew his hand and fished around in pocket of his jacket that was lying on the chair next to them.

Found it!

"Don't be mad," he whispered against Reid's lips as he pulled away from them.

Spencer looked at him in confusion, and Morgan was almost sorry for taking the boy by surprise like that, but this time he wasn't going to let him just take off again.

Before Spencer could realize what was happening, Morgan pulled his hands over his head and cuffed him to the top of the radiator. Spencer still had a bit of slack, thanks to his height, but he couldn't get more than 20 inches forward or down.

"Derek? Derek! What are you doing?" cried Spencer in irritation, tugging on the handcuffs. "Unlock me right now! Unlock!" Dark clouds passed over his face, which had so recently reflected so much passion.

But Morgan completely ignored Reid's protests. They wouldn't last long if he took the boy back to where they were before. He huddled Spencer tightly against the radiator and held his head.

"I want at once ..."

Morgan ended the protest with a kiss and used his hands to prevent Spencer from turning his head to the side again. It didn't take ten seconds for the resistance to turn into a passionate return of play with lips and tongue. Only by the clacking above his head did he realize that Spencer was still trying to somehow free his hands from the cuffs.

"Now how about some nice hip movements?" murmured Morgan in Spencer's ear as he grabbed the latter's ass with both hands and pulled him as close as he could. Just as he felt Spencer's arousal through the tight pants, the boy had to feel it too. His cock was demanding to finally be released from his pants.

Derek thrust his hips toward Spencer and moved them back and forth provocatively, just as he had learned to do when dancing. "You like that? Are you already imagining what it's going to feel like once I get you out of those pants? Do you want to know what it's like to feel my hips moving against your ass? When ... when I move inside you?"

"Derek ... please ... please ... untie me."

Morgan shook his head. "I'm not giving you another chance to ignore me or run away from me."

"Let me go. This is ... wrong ... so wrong."

"Tell me this doesn't excite you!" demanded Morgan.

Spencer lowered his head, but didn't reply.

"Tell me I didn't turn you on last time! Tell me this disgusts you!"

Again, no answer.

"Tell me you don't lust for me!"

Spencer didn't answer that either, and nothing else had Morgan expected.

But he wasn't going to coerce Spencer into doing anything he absolutely didn't want to do.

"Give me a really good reason why we should stop. A reason why we should let this moment go to waste."

Now Spencer raised his head, and Morgan's heart sank at that. He couldn't really interpret the look. Uncertainty was there, but also excitement, anger, but also something that somehow reminded him of trust, and above all, lots of confusion.

"Don't make this so hard for us," Morgen whispered, resting his forehead against Spencer's. He closed his eyes as he felt Spencer's quick breath on his face. Now he would have to wait for a signal from the boy. Either he would turn away, or ...

Spencer's lips settled into a tentative kiss on his, much more careful and reserved than they had kissed a moment ago. But that was the signal.

"Thank you. Thank you. ... I lo..."

Morgan broke off before he could say something that had no place here and now.

He ran his fingers through Spencer's curls, burying his face in them as he slowly moved one leg up and down Spencer's arousal.

"I just want to make sure," he then murmured in Spencer's ear. "Have you ever ... well, has anyone ever ... well your butt ..."

Morgan broke off, wondering at his own lack of words. How could he possibly ask the boy in a less vulgar way if he'd ever been fucked in his pretty ass?

Spencer took it from him with surprising composure. "It's called anal sex," he explained quietly, but in best Agent Reid fashion. "And yes, I have had anal sex, even in the receiving position."

"Good, very good," Derek whispered back, and went back to placing little kisses on Spencer's face, first on the lips, then down to the chin, back over the cheeks, and then very gently on the closed eyelids.

"Will you untie me now?"

"Are you afraid I'll do something you really don't want me to?"

Spencer's answer came after a moment's hesitation. "No."

"Then let me feel like I'm in control here for once."

Spencer exhaled with a slight tremor.

Morgan knew full well that the boy was aware that he would be relinquishing control completely. But maybe it wasn't just him who needed a bit of control back, Spencer needed to learn for once that he didn't have to control everything and that sometimes it did good to just let things happen instead of frantically pushing them in a direction they couldn't go.

Derek kissed Spencer again, but this time very gently and tenderly. It took a bit, but then he noticed the tension in Spencer's arms and shoulders easing.

With his fingers, Derek slowly traced a path down Spencer's neck to the collar of his shirt and along the neckline to the first button.

Now that he was in control and Reid was giving in, he wanted to show the latter that he would always give him time to stop him. So Morgan first played around with the little button a bit before sliding it through the buttonhole and then sliding his fingers over the bit of skin he had just exposed.

Then he followed the button band down to the next little button and repeated the procedure there.

Slowly he worked his way further and further down until Spencer's shirt was gaping wide open and Morgan couldn't reach the last buttons because they were stuck in Spencer's pants.

Reid's chest rose and fell faster and faster. As harmless as these touches still were, they were arousing - for both of them.

Derek continued his game with the button on Spencer's waistband. When he didn't hear a stop there either, he opened it and in the next moment pulled the zipper down as well.

This now caused a clearly audible reaction: Spencer sucked in air as if startled, and expelled it with a soft sigh.

Morgan looked up from his fingers, only now noticing that Reid had finally lifted his head again and was looking at him. "Please, kiss me," the boy whispered as they looked into each other's eyes. And Morgan immediately complied with the request. At the same time, he slipped his hand down Spencer's pants and stroked his hard cock as it stretched toward him.

Spencer let out a whimper and pushed toward Derek's hand.

"You like that?", Morgan teased him. "You want me to get you out of those clothes? Do you want me to pull your cock out? Do you want me to stroke it?"

"Yes ... ahhh," Spencer moaned against Derek's lips.

"And what do I get in return?"

"Derek!" moaned Spencer, unable to formulate any other response.

Morgan pulled his head back a little, but kept moving his hand down Spencer's pants.

"What do I get?"

"Please ... please, you have to ... please ..."

"Answer me: what do I get?"

"Anything ... anything you want. Take ... take me."

Derek had only been waiting for this. "Oh yes, you'll be all mine," he whispered into Spencer's ear. With one hand he pushed Spencer's pants down a bit, with the other he continued to slide up and down him. "I remember so well how you tasted," he murmured as he did so. "But today I want more."

Derek now grabbed Spencer's pants with both hands and slid them down to his knees along with his boxers. "Turn around. Show me that nice ass of yours that you can wiggle around more seductively than any girl."

Spencer promptly complied. The handcuffs left enough slack on the radiator for him to turn around. And he used the few extra inches he had left to shove his butt toward Derek.

"Perfect! You're perfect!"

Derek grabbed Spencer's butt with one hand, bringing the other back around him to his cock. "Tell me if it gets too much. I want to be inside you before you come."

With his fingers, he slowly drove between Spencer's butt cheeks, toward his hidden target.

"Derek, stop, you can't," Spencer whined when Derek finally reached his entrance and ran his fingers lightly over it. "You can't just take me like that. I ... you ... you're going to hurt me," the boy whimpered.

Derek withdrew his fingers and let his hand slide over Reid's back, massaging. "Don't worry. I'm prepared. I'll make sure you like it."

Morgan saw Spencer shiver slightly as he let go of him and rummaged in his jacket for a condom and the small tube of lube he'd stashed there a few days ago as a precaution.

Before turning back to Spencer, Derek freed his own cock from his pants so as not to get the gel all over his clothes later.

"Oh, now if you could only see how hard I am because of you. But I'll let you feel it right now," Derek said as he closed his fingers around himself and pumped up and down a few times.

"What ... what are you going to do?" asked Spencer, as if he had completely forgotten what Derek wanted.

"I'm going to pleasure you with my fingers first and then with my cock," Morgan murmured against his ear as he squeezed some lube out of the tube and then coated Spencer with it. "That'll make it so much better." The boy groaned and pressed his hips further forward, as if he could get even closer to Derek's hand with it.

"Oh no, stay here," Derek laughed softly, using both hands to pull Spencer's butt back toward him. He took more lube and then slid his wet fingers between Spencer's butt cheeks. Promptly, the boy was now stretching his butt towards him.

Derek wanted to take his time, but they were both impatient too. He ran a finger over Spencer's entrance a few times until he noticed the boy begin to pulse there and shake all over his body. Then he slid a finger a little way inside him.

Spencer let out a sigh and wanted to push back even further, but because of the handcuffs, he couldn't get any further now.

"Please ... Derek ..." he whimpered.

"Slow down," the latter admonished. "You're about to get more. So much more."

That Spencer wasn't entirely inexperienced didn't mean he could just take him right away.

Derek pushed his finger further forward, withdrew it, and repeated the motion. At the same time, he brought his other hand back to Spencer's cock. The boy was literally torn by this. He pushed forward, toward Derek's hand, but immediately pushed his butt back again to take Derek's finger deeper inside him.

"Yeah, show me what you want. Just get it," Derek cheered him on.

When he felt Spencer being stretched a little, he placed a second finger at his opening. Spencer moaned loudly as he pushed his ass back again, taking both fingers inside him.

"You are so tight and hot. I want to take you right now and feel you squeeze around me."

"Do it! Please! Now!" moaned Spencer, moving back and forth between Derek's hands in a tantalizing rhythm. "I can't take much more of this."

With Spencer's next backward movement, Derek spread his fingers a little apart. The boy had to take a third before he was ready for him.

"In a minute. Just a little more," Derek urged patience.

He continued to work Spencer with his fingers, penetrating deeper and pushing them apart until finally there was room for a third.

Spencer's pulse was racing by now, Derek could clearly feel it.

"Ready?" he finally inquired.

"Yes, yes ... please ... now!"

Derek eased off of Spencer's cock, rolled the condom over himself, and then spread a generous portion of the lube on his cock. Then, with both hands, he pulled Spencer's buttocks apart. "Hold on tight," he warned. Then, with a steady motion, he penetrated him to the hilt.

"Ahhh," burst out of Spencer, who clutched at the slats of the radiator with his fingers.

For a brief moment, Derek thought he should have been more careful. But as he paused to give Spencer time to get used to him, the boy began to move.

"Take me, take me!" demanded Spencer as he moved his butt back and forth.

"Slow down, take your time," Derek wanted to urge him to be careful while he still had enough sense to do so, but Spencer seemed to have no desire to be careful. "Move. I want to feel you. Deep inside me. Please!" he demanded.

And when Derek didn't respond immediately, he shouted louder, "Fuck me already!"

Derek didn't need to be told twice. The boy wanted his cock, then he should get it. He pulled out, then thrust fast and hard into Spencer.

"Yessss," the latter moaned out, spurring Derek to repeat the action.

With each new thrust, Spencer produced more little cries. "More, Derek, more!" he demanded. And Derek felt the boy tighten around him more and more. He brought one hand back to his cock. "Come on, give me all you've got!" he demanded, thrusting faster and harder into Spencer until he finally began to shake in his arms and climax.

Derek stroked his cock a few more times, then grabbed Spencer by the hips and pulled him tightly against him. One, two, three more thrusts and he poured himself into Spencer.

Breathing heavily, Derek leaned against Spencer, pushing him against the radiator until they both found support there for a moment.

Only after a few seconds did he pull out of him, which Spencer acknowledged with a low moan. As Spencer began to shiver and shiver after shiver ran over his skin, Derek realized that the boy was half naked while he was still wearing his clothes.

"I'll get you unlocked in a minute," Derek said immediately, and he cursed himself for not putting the key to the handcuffs in his pants pocket. He had to rummage around in his jacket pockets for the key before he finally found it and was able to unlock the handcuffs.

"I've got tissues," he then muttered, turning to his jacket again. He should get rid of the condom sometime, too. Quickly stripping it off, he reached for the tissues and cleaned up the traces of their activities before sliding his cock back into his pants.

"Here," Derek said as he turned to Spencer and held out the remaining packet of tissues to him.

He was a little surprised to see that Spencer was almost dressed again - only a few shirt buttons were still undone - and that the boy was staring at the tissues with a strange look on his face. When Spencer looked up, Derek saw anger flash across his face for a moment - before Spencer lashed out and slammed his fist full force into his face.

"Ow!" Morgan yelled out, taking two steps backward to get himself out of Spencer's reach. "What the hell are you doing now? Are you still okay or what?"

"You bastard," Spencer hissed.

Morgan didn't understand the world anymore. Where had this sudden mood swing come from? What had he been doing? And that was exactly the question he was asking now, rubbing the aching side of his face with one hand. The boy had a stronger punch than he would have given him credit for.

"What did I do to you to make you suddenly lash out at me?"

"What you did? What you did, you want to know?", Spencer almost shouted back at him. "What haven't you done? You don't respect me. You emotionally blackmailed me. You spied on me. And now you've manipulated me into having sex with you. I say no, and you ignore it until I don't know where my head is. And that was the second time now. I am not your toy! Don't you ever come near me again, do you hear me? Don't you ever touch me again. Or, I swear to you, you will regret it!"

"Spencer, please calm down," Derek tried to reassure the boy. "I asked you if this was okay. You said you trusted me. And you wanted us to do it yourself. You told me to take you."

"You manipulated me. You made me give in to you. That's coercion, not consent. Now get out! Get out of here! I don't want to see you anymore!"

Derek tried again to get through to Spencer. But as soon as he opened his mouth, the boy screamed back at him. "Get out of here, or, I swear to God, I'll call the police and report you for coercion! The marks from your handcuffs should be enough evidence."

And Spencer held out his wrists to him, which were indeed rubbed a bit sore from the handcuffs.

"Please, Spencer, let's sort this out!"

"Get out!" hissed Spencer again, then turned away demonstratively. "You have until I get my phone out of my pocket."

Derek didn't want to risk Spencer making good on his threat. He grabbed his jacket and dashed out of the room. He would give Spencer an hour or two to calm down. But then they had to talk.

Chapter Text

Spencer hadn't answered the phone all weekend and hadn't responded to any of Morgan's text messages. In fact, as Morgan could see, Spencer hadn't opened any of the other 53 messages after the first one. He may have even deleted them all. Morgan had briefly been tempted to drive to Spencer's apartment. But what use would that be if the boy then just left him standing outside the door? After all, he could hardly kick down his door to be heard.

So it was with a rather sinking feeling in his stomach that Morgan arrived at the office on Monday. Even though the weather was rather gloomy, he had hidden his eyes behind his mirrored sunglasses. Spencer had gotten him pretty good, and a black eye was evidence of his anger.

A quick glance Morgan cast about the bull pen showed him that Spencer wasn't there yet, even though it was relatively late. Morgan would simply have preferred to know the boy was already at his desk. Then he could have called him on the phone and asked him to come into his office to talk. So he probably had no choice but to check every now and then to see if Spencer was already there.

As Morgan closed the office door behind him, he wondered for a moment that there was no sign of Reid's student harem either. But then it came back to him: the internship's time was up.

Would Spencer continue to meet with the girls outside the office? With Kathrin, he was probably pretty sure, and possibly with Julia, too. That probably depended a little on the half-life of Reid's affairs.

Sandra's words flashed through Morgan's mind. Where did she get the impression that Reid was faithful? If he counted himself, Morgan came up with four, maybe even five men and women Spencer had something going on with at the same time. And the only one Reid probably didn't want to see in that harem was him.

Morgan still didn't understand what had gone wrong the previous Friday. One moment they'd been kissing and having passionate sex, and the next Reid had been slapping him and threatening to press charges for coercion. Yes, the handcuffs might not have been the finest move. But he hadn't originally planned to sleep with Spencer on the spot, either. He'd wanted to talk to him more than anything, and just to prevent Reid from running off on him without everything being settled between them.

That had all gotten stupidly out of hand. Why was it that he just couldn't keep control as soon as the boy got close to him?

Or possibly he had simply released Reid from the handcuffs too soon. Maybe he should have clarified where they were now first. But he had been under the impression that this time they were both on the same page. It hadn't even occurred to him then that the mood could change immediately.

Still, Morgan didn't get the impression that he had really coerced Spencer. He was still convinced that if a partner said no and meant it, he would know. And he had offered him ways to end it.

Morgan put his sunglasses aside and ran both hands over his face as he plopped down in his chair. The matter was getting more and more complicated. And he was probably not innocent of that. He finally had to learn that he had to talk first before the sex came, not the other way around.

"Oh, my dear! What happened to you?" a loud cry suddenly rang out from the doorway.

Morgan groaned as he caught sight of Penelope in the doorway. He hadn't even realized she had come in, but she must have spotted his black eye right away.

"Could you close the door before half the office rushes in to see the attraction of the day?" he grumbled, pushing his sunglasses back on his nose.

Garcia pushed the door shut, but then promptly came around the desk to him and pulled the glasses back off his nose.

"Derek Morgan, what is that on your face and who put you through that?" she demanded sternly. "Has a doctor looked at that yet? When did this happen?"

Morgan snatched the glasses from her fingers and put them on again. "It's just a black eye, not a broken leg. And it looks worse than it is. I almost can't feel it already." In fact, he was glad the swelling had gone down by now and he could look out of his eyes properly again.

"What kind of fight did you get into? We didn't even have a case." Garcia anxiously put a hand on his arm as she leaned against the edge of the table in front of him and looked at him urgently. "Do you have any other injuries?"

Morgan shook his head. "You're not going to believe this. That wasn't a fight, that was Spencer. And now he wants to press charges against me."

Garcia looked at Morgan, confused. "What the hell happened? And why would Spencer want to press charges against you?"

"Because I slept with him."

"You did ...?"

Morgan slapped his hands in front of his face and mumbled in there. "Yeah, I made him have sex with me at the dance club on Friday. I used ... admittedly somewhat unusual methods. But ... he ... Spencer ... he wanted it too."

Penelope pulled his hands away from his face, and Morgan sensed that his friend didn't know what to make of the whole thing. After all, the whole thing had really gotten completely out of hand.

"Derek ... what did you do?"

"I ... handcuffed him to the radiator. And then … well … you know …" Morgan squinted as he said this, trying not to meet Garcia's gaze. Disgust? Horror? Exasperation? Anything was possible. If someone told him he'd tied someone up to sleep with them, he'd probably call the police in a minute, too.

"Oh Derek, why did you do that?" asked Penelope.

Morgan slowly raised his eyes to her again, and in fact could see only a measure of curiosity and even compassion in it, but not the anger he would have expected.

"I didn't force him, I swear to you. I just wanted to keep him from running away again like he did last time. And then ... all of a sudden, I just kind of didn't have it under control anymore."

"You want to tell me exactly what happened?" inquired Garcia cautiously.

"I have to talk to Spencer first. He hasn't answered his phone all weekend and hasn't returned my text messages. But as soon as he gets in, I'll find a chance to talk to him - and apologize."

"I'm afraid you're out of luck there today," Garcia explained. "I overheard Hotch saying to J.J. earlier that Spencer took a week off and flew to Las Vegas because of his mother. Apparently she's not doing well."

"Damn it!" cursed Morgan, "That's just an excuse! He probably hasn't even flown out yet."

"I think he did. He sent J.J. a message earlier to go over to his apartment and water his plants in the meantime. You know, ever since the Maeve thing, she's had a key."

Morgan shook his head. "And what am I supposed to do now? I can't fly after him, can I? And I can't just pretend nothing happened, either, can I?"

Penelope shrugged. "If he hasn't answered the phone the last few days, he probably won't answer your next calls. You could send him an email."

"If he's really at his mom's, do you actually think he's reading his emails?"

Garcia shook his head. "Should ... should I try ... to talk to him?"

Morgan thought for a moment. With Penelope, Reid would probably answer. But should he really send his baby girl forward as an advocate? Wouldn't it be even more awkward for Spencer to learn that Garcia knew what had gone on between them?

"No, I think I really need to do that myself," he therefore declined. "I'll try the email. And if that doesn't help, I'll probably find him at the club next Friday. I'd be surprised if he avoided the club completely now because of me. I'm sure he won't let our problem take away his dancing and his friends there."

Garcia nodded. "That's probably for the best. And I'll ... I'll see if he's reported you or if there's a complaint against you, just to be on the safe side. Not that I think he really would, but in anger sometimes one makes mistakes."

"Thanks, baby girl, that would be really swell. Just so I know what I’m in for." Morgan hesitated for a moment. "And could you maybe do me one more favor?"

"Any."

"Can you check to see if Spencer is actually in Las Vegas? If you track his cell phone or see if he's on any airline passenger lists - you should be able to find out through that."

Penelope nodded immediately. "I'll do that right away. You'll have the info on the table in a few minutes."

---

Ten minutes later, Morgan actually had some answers. Spencer had not turned him in, nor had he filed a complaint with the FBI. That was all positive. However, Garcia had also found out that Reid was not at Quantico. He had boarded a plane. But not headed for Las Vegas; he was headed for Boston. What Reid was doing there was impossible to find out: Spencer had turned off his cell phone when he boarded the plane - and he didn't turn it on again for the next few days.

Chapter Text

Morgan swallowed hard. This couldn't be true. After Spencer had made out with Kathrin in the office and done who knows what with the other two students behind closed doors, Morgan couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the scene in front of him. Had Spencer set out to drive him completely insane by starting another fling here at the club now?

Morgan didn't care whether or not Spencer noticed him in the mirror or otherwise. He remained standing in the doorway of the dance hall, watching the play of the two men on the dance floor. This time, however, Reid's partner was not José. Reid was in the arms of a significantly younger man, younger than Spencer himself, perhaps just in his mid-20s.

"Closer, don't be shy. I want to feel you," Spencer just demanded. The young dark-skinned man, who was one or two inches taller than Reid, stood behind him with both arms wrapped around him. His left arm was way up above Spencer's chest, almost right at his neck. And his right hand was below Spencer's rib cage at his stomach. At Spencer's prompting, the man pulled him so close with both arms that clearly no leaf could fit between them: His chest was pressed against Spencer's back, and Spencer’s butt ... Morgan couldn't help but think of how Spencer's butt had felt against his lap, and his blood promptly rushed down from his head to other body parts.

"Yeah, that's just the way it should be. That way I don't even want to get free then, I want to give myself to you totally," Spencer said, and Morgan could hear a soft smile in his voice. Reid put his own right arm over his dance partner's, pressing himself even tighter into the embrace. He wrapped his left arm around the young man's neck. He turned his face to the side, bringing his lips very close to his dance partner's face. "Now give me some more hip movement."

When the young man promptly complied with the request, gently swaying his hips from right to left and back, it was finally enough for Morgan. He knew what he himself would do next, holding Reid in his arms like that. And the fact that another man was about to pull Spencer’s pants down and enjoy his magnificent ass was something he truly didn't need to see.

Furious, Morgan rushed out of the room. Spencer seemed intent on screwing around with anyone who got in his way. Only he, Morgan, was clearly not on the boy's menu and would be punished for any improper advances.

---

"Derek, what are you doing here?" inquired Garcia in surprise as she opened the door to find Morgan on the other side.

"Can I come in?" murmured Morgan softly.

Penelope briefly glanced behind her to where Kevin had just pulled his shirt back over his head. "Um ... yeah, but ... Kevin's here." She pulled the door open wider and waved Morgan in. But the latter stopped in the doorway.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. I should have called first," Derek said.

Garcia cast a pleading look toward Kevin. She could tell all too clearly from Morgan's voice and his whole demeanor that he was not at all well.

"You're not interrupting at all," Kevin declared, trying to keep his disappointment in check. He knew Penelope too well, after all, to know that the evening was over whether she let Derek in or sent him away. "I was about to leave anyway."

Kevin hugged Penelope and pressed a kiss to her mouth. "You owe me for that," he murmured against her lips before breaking away from her, squeezing past Morgan. "I'll see you tomorrow, honey," he tossed back, then disappeared down the hall.

"I really didn't mean to ruin your evening," Derek affirmed as Garcia pulled him into her apartment and then pushed him toward the sofa.

"Don't worry about it," Penelope reassured him. "Kevin doesn't have a problem with it. He told me earlier anyway about an update he wants to run on his computer tonight. So he wouldn't have stayed much longer."

"Penelope, you're a terrible liar, but the best friend anyone could ask for," Derek said with a wry smile.

"You know I love you. Then how could I send you away when you look so ... so sad?"

"Sad, angry, frustrated, confused, jealous - take your pick. All apply."

"Then you're here because of Spencer?"

The answer to that question was really unnecessary, but Morgan nodded anyway. "I wish I could put him out of my mind – and at the same time I don't want to think about anything but him."

"That settles the question once and for all, then," Garcia resumed the ongoing discussion of whether sex or love would be Morgan's driving force. "You're falling for him big time, aren't you?"

Morgan sighed. "And he's screwing around with everything that has two legs. But me ... I don't even get a place in that never-ending list. No, I'm the bad guy he threatens to press charges against if I do what he does with his girls and guys."

Garcia plopped down on the couch next to Derek and wordlessly took his hands in hers.

"I just don't understand why he sleeps with everyone," Morgan muttered, "Just me, he definitely doesn't want me. And yet we have more in common than he could ever have with any of those students or that little Latino." Morgan faltered for a moment. "He's got another new guy already. I was watching them earlier. The guy's in his mid-twenties, tops, and I've never seen him around Reid before. But you should have seen Spencer ask him to get up close and personal. Why does he do that?"

"Did it ever occur to you to ask him that yourself?"

Morgan stared at his hands. "When things were going well between us, I never really wanted to bring up the subject of his love affairs. And when I tried ... you remember the Kathrin thing. He blocked out any questions."

"What if you took it the other way?"

Morgan looked questioningly at Penelope.

"You know: talking about your feelings," she prodded. "You do love him, after all. Maybe you should tell him that."

Morgan sighed. "You women always find it so easy to talk about your feelings."

"You tell me you love me, too, don't you?"

"Yes, I do love you. But that's different, we are best friends. That’ very different from saying 'I've fallen in love with you'. That's ... I don't know ..."

"If you tell it your best friend you don't have to be afraid of rejection. I get it. But sometimes it's important to take a risk. If you want to achieve something in one of our cases, you also take calculated risks to get to the goal and get the bad guys. Here, you have to look at it similarly: If you want to win Spencer, you may have to take risks, too. And it's possible he'll turn you down. And it's safe to say that rejection hurts. But Spencer certainly won't hurt your feelings on purpose, should he feel nothing for you. He's still your friend, even if you're having problems right now. And with honesty, you'll find your way back together one way or another."

"Penelope, you wise oracle, what would I do without you. I wish I fell in love with you, then some things would probably be a lot easier."

"Oh my God, Derek, you don't really mean that now," Garcia groaned out with a laugh. "We'd kill each other before even a month was out."

And Morgan had to join in their laughter.

"Can I stay with you tonight?" he asked softly when the laughter had given way to a thoughtful smile. "I'm afraid I'll go crazy at my house. The house feels so empty. And at the same time, thoughts of Spencer are buzzing all over it."

Garcia nodded. "But there's no alcohol this time. I don't want to have another black out and have to worry in the morning whether we ended up in bed together or not."

Morgan grinned. "I'll be good and stay on your couch, too."

---

"Sorry to call you so early. I hope I didn't wake you," Morgan explained quietly over the phone.

"Just missed it. I got up half an hour ago. But why are you calling me? And where were you yesterday? I thought you would have talked things out with Spencer by now and everything would be back to normal."

Morgan could hear the curiosity in Sandra's voice. "Have you seen him? Talked to him?" he inquired.

"He sent me a message in the afternoon that I wouldn't be needed for practice. And in the evening I did see him, but he danced with Teresa for an hour almost without stopping and then disappeared rather quickly. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was practicing for some competition. He was pretty tense and kept correcting Teresa continuously."

"But he didn't say anything about a competition?"

"No, Spencer doesn't do that kind of thing on principle. He once told me there were too many rules he didn't want to follow. But now about you, why weren't you there?"

Morgan sighed. "The problem isn't solved yet. Spencer won't give me a chance to work it out. ... And ... and so I have a request for you."

Morgan could directly imagine the cogs in Sandra's brain turning faster and faster.

"Sorry, but if I don't even know ..."

"No," Derek interrupted her, "I don't want to ask you to talk to him, if that's what you were thinking now. Spencer doesn't even need to know that we have any contact outside of the club. And he really shouldn't know about our dinner."

"Then how am I supposed to help you?"

Sandra still sounded suspicious, but Morgan hadn't slept half the night, and by now a plan had matured that he desperately needed Sandra's support to execute.

"It's nothing bad, and you're not violating Spencer's trust at all by doing this. I want to ask you ... I want ... you to fill in as dance instructor."

"Me?" asked Sandra promptly in amazement. "What made you think of me? I've never taught anyone before - and I don't even know most of the men's steps. So how would I be able to show them to you?"

"It doesn't matter. I ... I want to learn the ladies' steps."

"You want to learn what?"

Morgan took a deep breath and exhaled. "I want to learn the ladies' steps," he repeated tensely, waiting for Sandra to laugh at him in a moment.

But the girl on the other end remained silent.

"Are you still there?" he inquired when he heard nothing.

"Yes ... yes, I'm ... still here."

"Well?"

"How do you figure that? Especially if you don't want Spencer to know? Then the club is already ruled out. And I don't see where else we could go."

Derek breathed a sigh of relief. Neither was Sandra making fun of him, nor was she completely rejecting his request. It made him feel positive that he could go through with his plan.

"I've already thought of something. Before, it was out of the question to practice at my place because of my girlfriend. But since she left, there's nothing against it. I have a big living room with hardwood floors. That should be alright."

"And ... and when do you want to start?"

"Today."

"Today?"

"Today. I can't waste any time. I have to master some steps by Friday. And ... and I want to pay you for the lessons. If you help me, all your free time will go to that purpose. And I want to compensate you for that."

"You're out of your mind. I'm not a real teacher. If I teach you something, it's a favor, but not a job I want to get paid for," Sandra objected.

Morgan decided to remain silent. Sandra had a certain pride. Even though she could use the money, she wouldn't give in so easily and let him pay her for the hours. He would figure out a way to still repay her.

"Can you take the time?" he inquired.

"Send me your address and tell me when to be there. But I can't promise you that it will work. I've never taught anyone before."

"Will 1 p.m. work for you?"

"Works for me. Do you have music?"

"Would be good if you could bring some. I don't know if what I have is suitable for dancing."

"Okay, don't forget to send me the address."

"Will do. Thank you. And I look forward to our meeting this afternoon."

Morgan hung up and slid the cell phone into his pocket with relief. A first hurdle had been cleared.

"Was that Spencer?"

Startled, Derek wheeled around. "How long have you been standing there?" he wanted to know when he spotted Garcia in the doorway.

"Not long, my chocolate cupcake. That's why I don't know who you've been talking smack to."

Morgan plopped down on the couch where he'd spent the night. "Not Spencer, unfortunately. He's still not answering his phone. I've been on the phone with Sandra, the girl I've been dancing with on and off. And I asked her for lessons."

"Derek Morgan, what are you up to?", Penelope immediately wanted to know and sat down next to him. "Are you trying to replace Spencer now?"

"I'm trying to convince him that he has to give me a chance. And I need Sandra's help to do that," Derek said as he reached for Penelope's hand. "Do you think he'll ever give me a chance?"

Chapter Text

The week had been a disaster, at least half of it: Terrible were the hours Morgan spent in the office with Spencer completely ignoring him. On Monday, the whole team had noticed immediately that something was even less right than in the weeks before. But Morgan suspected Garcia was behind the fact that after the initial questions about what was going on, the cloak of silence was spread over the situation, and even Hotch only let questioning glances slide back and forth between Morgan and Reid, but didn't address either of them directly about the disagreements.

Morgan had continued to send Reid text messages that likewise continued to go unanswered, but he had neither approached nor called him during office hours. He knew it was a balancing act to maintain professionalism and not put Hotch on the spot to make peace between them, while also signaling to Spencer that he still wasn't giving up.

Morgan was just glad that fate - or the serial killers - were being merciful and that there was no acute case coming in this week that might require them to travel somewhere. So he had been able to spend the more uplifting half of the week - the evenings and nights - working with Sandra and learning new dance steps. Sunday's start had been extremely bumpy. For Morgan, everything he'd known so far was suddenly mirrored. And the fact that Sandra was smaller than him didn't help that he suddenly had to learn to be led. Sandra, however, had spontaneously remedied the situation on Monday - and brought along her current dance partner, the dark-haired, taciturn Samuel. Morgan had been torn: On the one hand, he had felt very strange and also awkward in the other man's arms, but on the other hand, he had immediately noticed that it was much easier for him to be led that way.

As the days went by, Morgan had realized how helpful it was that Spencer had so tortured him with the basic steps of Cha Cha and Rumba, paying attention to every detail. And that he had also shown him how to look at his own mistakes and progress. From Monday on, Morgan had set up a video camera to record everything that happened in his living room. He studied his own steps and even then, when the lessons were over, watched everything again closely to figure out what he needed to improve.

Morgan had even canceled his regular FBI training and gym sessions to have more time for dance training. The evenings and nights were just racing by, and the time he had available to learn was short.

And he almost felt like saying that the week had gone by way too fast.

Now Morgan stood outside the club, hoping and praying that his plan would work and he wouldn't make a complete fool of himself.

Morgan pulled open the door and felt his heart begin to beat faster at that moment. The Noche Cubana was already packed and dozens of couples were moving around the dance floor. Derek had intentionally arrived at the club later than usual to lull Spencer into a sense of security. Sandra had sent him a quick message when the boy had shown up. So he had by no means made the trip here completely in vain. And it didn't take long for Morgan to find Spencer among the dancers on the floor, either. Salsa it had to be right now.

Morgan felt reminded of the first evening at Noche Cubana, when he had first experienced what an erotic atmosphere Spencer could bring to the floor. Teresa was a really good match for him, Morgan had to admit in no uncertain terms. The redhead had fire and that underscored the tension that existed between them.

Morgan kept himself in the background. He would watch and wait for Spencer to leave the dance floor. He definitely didn't want to be noticed by the boy prematurely, or else there was a risk that he would simply make a break for it.

In fact, he had to hold out for three dances until he saw his chance had come. The moment Spencer had dropped Teresa off at the edge of the dance floor and was making his way to the bar, Morgan hurried after him.

"Spencer, we need to talk," Morgan declared as he moved up behind Reid, more or less trapping him between himself and the bar.

Spencer whirled around and immediately glared at him in annoyance. "I thought it was clear that your days here were over."

"You can't keep ignoring me like this," Morgan countered, not caring what Reid said.

"I'm not going to ignore you much longer. If you don't get out of here right now, I'm going to report you after all," Reid hissed. "And I'll have you thrown out of here. Believe me, it'll only cost me a little finger pointing."

"Can't you think of anything better to do than to repeatedly threaten me with charges? If you were going to report me, you would have done it already. You can't stay mad forever over something I've apologized to you for a thousand times."

"Put yourself in my shoes for once and then tell me again to stop being mad at you. You just don't understand anything." Spencer was starting to get louder and Morgan knew he had to get to the point gradually before they drew too much attention. "I understand you, at least in part. That's why I'm apologizing. And ... and if you really want me to never come back here again, at least give me the proper closure."

A confused expression flitted across Spencer's face, and Morgan didn't let the chance pass before Reid could start his next tirade again. "I want a dance with you. Right here on the floor. Sandra told me you never turn your back on anyone who asks you for a dance. Now I ask. Let me have this one dance for closure, and then if you want me to leave, I won't put another step through that door."

The annoyance on Reid's face gave way to even more confusion and also a large dose of suspicion. "There are no male couples dancing here," he then stated sternly.

"Don't give me that nonsense. I know from Sandra that it doesn't happen often, but every now and then. And that you, too, have danced here with a man. With José."

The name stung Derek's heart, but he needed it as a powerful argument.

"Are you so desperate to make a fool of yourself? Here, in front of all these people? You know that every step I make on this floor will be watched. I'll be pitied and you will be thought of as a laughing stock when you stomp your basic steps into the ground."

"You don't believe that yourself. You know very well that I would never make a fool of myself with you. After all, you taught me the steps with a quality that dancers usually take several years to master."

"Yes, but I can make sure you make a fool of yourself. All it takes is for me to take one step in a different direction to completely throw you off your game."

"How long are you going to keep trying with counterarguments? If you want to make a fool of me in front of the assembled audience, now is your chance. Take it. I'm not afraid of it. I just want one thing: this one dance with you."

Spencer closed his eyes in agony, and Morgan knew he was close to the finish line.

"Please, Spencer, please just this dance."

Reid took a few deep breaths in and out. Morgan knew he was struggling inside. Should he insist that Morgan keep his distance, and if necessary, really still make good on his threats, or give in and hope that this ended the whole affair once and for all.

"Cha cha or rumba?"

"Rumba."

Inwardly, Morgan cheered as Spencer turned to the DJ's console. Derek didn't take his eyes off the boy for a second, because somehow he still feared Reid might bunk. But when he saw that he was slowly coming back, he was relieved - and at the same time felt a growing excitement. Now it would become clear whether all the effort had been worth it.

The two men gazed silently out onto the dance floor, each lost in his own thoughts as they waited for the current song to fade out and the rumba Spencer had ordered to be played. When the final bars of the song finally faded, Spencer wordlessly stepped out onto the dance floor, knowing Derek would follow him.

"Have you forgotten everything in the past two weeks?" hissed Spencer to him as Morgan reached for his with his right hand instead of his left. "You take my right hand and your right hand belongs at my back."

"Yeah, when I lead and you follow. But today we're going to do it the other way around: you lead."

Spencer dropped Morgan's hand. "You're crazy. You don't know the steps. Or are you suddenly going to do the spins? Are you deliberately setting out to be a laughingstock?"

"No. I trust what I've learned and your guidance. You lead, I'll follow."

Spencer snorted, but relented. He probably hoped that would end the disaster after two steps. And he didn't allow Morgan ten seconds to come to his senses.

Spencer, for his part, now reached for Derek's right hand, put his own right hand on his back, and got him into dancing position. And half a beat later he got into the rumba. Derek was glad that he had practiced this start in particular intensively, since it had been one of his biggest problems at first because of the change in step direction.

Spencer was surprised by the smooth start, and he suddenly looked Morgan in the eye - something he had avoided doing since he first stepped onto the floor. Derek tried to keep his gaze captive, while at the same time concentrating on getting the steps just the way he'd learned: not too big, with some accent, and always looking for the right hip action.

"Where did you learn to do that?" suddenly Spencer wanted to know.

"You taught me the basics and taught me to learn on my own," Morgan replied after a few more steps. "I just hope you don't want to leave it at basic steps."

Spencer's eyes narrowed. "Have you been playing me for weeks?," he inquired suspiciously. And the next moment he was leading Derek into a solo spin. Smoothly, Derek returned to his dancing posture and immediately resumed eye contact. "No. I couldn't do a step until you taught it to me."

Another spin followed, and immediately after, Spencer transitioned to Fan and Alemana. Morgan followed the lead easily. These were all figures where Spencer had already taught him the appropriate leading steps. Now it came down to whether Sandra had guessed correctly what else Spencer might try.

"Why are you doing this?" inquired Spencer. The anger had by now completely drained from his voice and expression, giving way to wonder and curiosity.

"I wanted to dance with you properly for once. And I can't take the lead from you on that. That would be so completely wrong in every way."

"You learned this because of me?"

"Only because of you," Morgan affirmed, "only because of this moment."

"What else can you do?"

Another solo spin separated the two men. As Morgan returned to his dancing posture, he tried to pack all his heart, his emotions into his gaze. "I'll try to follow you wherever you want to lead me." That sizzle between them, Spencer had to feel it, too. It couldn't leave him untouched, could it?

"What if I let you go?"

Morgan guessed what Spencer meant, and seconds later his suspicions proved true when the boy abandoned the hand position after a solo spin. Pursuit was the name of the figure Sandra had suspected Spencer would try. Morgan had recorded everything and tried to memorize the step sequences so he wouldn't make a mistake. And so now he surprised Spencer by really following him as he moved backwards, and then did a spot turn to run away from him, so to speak. Two steps, spin, follow Spencer. Spin, two steps, spin - and Spencer brought him back into the dance posture with another solo spin.

"Who taught you that?"

"Does it matter?"

"Yes, to know what else you might be able to do. I don't intend to make a fool of you, even if you really take the risk."

"Sandra," Morgan admitted truthfully. And at that, he was pretty sure Spencer had long suspected that. Promptly, Spencer shoved him into another figure Sandra had shown him: Fan and hockey stick. Morgan mustered all the concentration he could, but still got caught short, and was just saved by Spencer back into the dance posture before he was completely out of step. Gradually he reached the limits of what he had learned.

He couldn't even interpret the look in Spencer's eyes, which now wouldn't leave him. He only hoped that somewhere behind them was hidden a chance for the future.

Spencer said nothing more. His gaze was penetrating and Derek believed Spencer could see right into his heart with it. But at the same time, he didn't reveal what was going on inside him. Reid led Morgan through the complete sequence of figures again before the rumba faded out. It wasn't until Spencer released him from the dance position after the last spin that Morgan noticed how empty the floor was. They weren't entirely alone, but even the simple steps Spencer did with him had attracted the attention of many dancers, who had then given up dancing in favor of watching. Probably because it just wasn't that often that two men danced together after all.

Morgan took a deep breath. Now came the final step in his plan, and he could only pray he hadn't miscalculated it. "Thank you for this dance," he declared, holding Spencer's gaze captive for a few more seconds. Then he turned around, leaving the dance floor and seconds later the Noche Cubana.

Chapter Text

"Morgan! Damn it, Morgan, stop!" suddenly sounded behind him.

Derek's heart was pounding up to his throat when he heard Spencer's voice and immediately after that his footsteps. Having already reached the next intersection and thus almost his car, which he had deliberately parked far away from the club, he had not expected Reid to follow him anymore. He had put all his eggs in one basket and finally lost - he had thought.

Morgan stopped, but didn't turn around until he heard Reid's footsteps right behind him.

"You're driving me crazy, you know that?", Spencer angrily charged at him. "Why are you doing this to me? Why do you keep playing with me?"

"I might as well ask you that. One moment you're challenging me and the next you're pushing me away. Isn't that a game?" returned Morgan calmly. He knew that the only way he was going to get anywhere now was if he didn't let himself be provoked this time and, even though this was about feelings, let his head rule and not his heart - or other body parts.

"What was that about just now? Why ... why do you come here when you can guess that I don't want to see you? Why ... why ... you learn ladies' steps? Why? And what was that dance about? Why did you insist on it?" There was plenty of confusion, almost desperation, speaking from Spencer, Morgan could clearly hear.

Carefully, he reached for Spencer's left hand, which had held his right as he danced. He hesitated as he lightly stroked Spencer's fingers, not knowing how long the boy would allow it.

"I didn't know how else to express that I'd submit to your leading if you'd even give me a chance somehow. You wouldn't listen to me, after all. I had to get your attention - and in the right way this time," Morgan murmured as he looked at Spencer's fingers. "I tried to push you in the direction I wanted you to go. And that wasn't right. So I want you to take the lead now. And ... and if that means that you ... that you end the dance ... then ... then I have to accept that, too."

Morgan gently stroked Spencer's fingers. Around those slender, long fingers the boy wonder had wrapped him, probably without even knowing it. And if he wanted to, he could hurt Morgan's heart mightily with a flick of his finger.

Spencer shook his head. "Morgan, what you're suggesting ... I can't do it. I'm not your experiment and I certainly can't be your dark little secret. I may not be confident enough sometimes. But I have enough self-respect not to give myself over to you trying yourself out and testing what the other shore feels like."

Derek frowned as he looked up and saw something very sad in Spencer's eyes. "What do you mean? Testing? What should I be testing?"

And all at once it flashed through his mind.

"Oh my God! You think ... you think I would want to know what it's like to be with a man? But ... Spencer, don't you know that? I ... I already know that. I'm bi. I got through my experimentation phase in college a long time ago."

Spencer's eyes widened with every word Derek said. "You ... you're not straight?"

"Didn't anyone tell you I tried to hook up with a co-worker the day I started at BAU? In the elevator on the way up? And, of course, without knowing I was going to be working with him. Peter Franklin, that was his name. And he took a mischievous delight in telling the story all around. Since then, actually, everyone knows that I'm interested in men, too."

Spencer shook his head wordlessly.

Morgan ventured a step toward Reid. Garcia had been right: he should have talked to Spencer much earlier. Then this misunderstanding would have been cleared up long ago.

But suddenly Spencer withdrew his hand.

"The fact remains, however, that I will not become your little secret. Besides, I swore to myself that I wouldn't cheat with anyone. And you ... you told me yourself not too long ago that you were faithful. Believe me, it's better to stick to that principle."

Morgan felt Spencer's words tighten his throat. "How ... how can you speak of loyalty? You of all people? My God, I've been thinking about the extent to which I'd be willing to share you with someone if you insisted. I've been thinking about it all last week, wondering if I could. And the thought kept coming to me that a little of your affection would be better than nothing at all. And you? You tell me that you don't want to cheat and that I should be faithful? But to whom, if not to you?"

Spencer's eyes narrowed to narrow slits and Morgan could see anger boiling up inside him again. "How about Savannah? Or have you completely forgotten about your girlfriend tonight?"

"Savannah? Why Savannah, she already left me a few weeks ago," Morgan snapped. He was struggling to control his temper now, after all.

"She ... has ..."

"Shit!", Morgan groaned at that moment. He hadn't even told Spencer that yet. "Spencer, you would never be my dark secret. If Savannah hadn't dumped me, I would have broken up with her. You have to believe that!"

"Did ... did she dump you ... because of us?"

Morgan shook her head. "No, she doesn't know about us." He sighed. It seemed another obstacle had been cleared out of the way. All that remained was the question of who Spencer wanted to be loyal to, and whether he stood a chance against that person. Or were there more than one? Did they perhaps all know about each other? Such strange arrangements were supposed to exist, after all. "But ... but how can you talk about fidelity when you're having - I don't know - four or five affairs side by side?"

"I've what?" exclaimed Spencer, confused and upset at the same time.

"Well, you'll hardly be able to deny that you've got something going on with Kathrin. And then there's Julia, who you recently snuck into the room with at night. And what about José? If you haven't ditched him by now, you've been having at least the occasional fling with him, too." Morgan slowly picked up speed, because Spencer's innocent act was annoying the hell out of him. How could the boy accuse him of umpteen offenses and at the same time get into bed with countless people. "Then there's Teresa, your new favorite, who you've also been quick to back out with lately after a few dances. And let's not forget that boy you were having fun with a week ago. Does it turn you on when they're as young as Kathrin, Julia or that boy? When they have no idea what they're getting into with you, and when you can direct them to your liking?"

"Morgan, what are you talking about? I think you're completely losing it now?"

"I know what I saw, don't I?"

"The only thing you really saw was me kissing Kathrin. And I admit that probably wasn't wise."

"The understatement of the year!"

"What do you want me to say? You fall all over me, and the next morning you make it all too clear that I was nothing but a mistake. I was hurt. And Kathrin took an interest in me. I was honest with her. I told her that I didn't love her and that I didn't know if the feeling would ever come. She said that she was willing to give it a try. And that's exactly what those few weeks were: An attempt I abandoned when we closed our last case."

"How noble of you. And did she also know that you must have a similar arrangement with Julia? Or was she just a one-time slip?"

"I never had anything with Julia."

"I saw you coming out of her hotel room, didn't I?"

Spencer stumbled for a moment, then put his hands on his hips. "So you were watching me. And why didn't you ask me what I was doing with her? I can tell you: because jealousy clouded your brain. Nothing happened in that hotel room except work. We were working on the case because Julia had some ideas about how to move forward. Nothing more, nothing less."

"How nice for you that that can't be verified. Are you going to make an excuse for anything and everything now?"

"Are you going to accuse me of having an affair with every person I've ever crossed paths with?"

"You have to admit that I've found you in more compromising situations in the past few weeks than you've ever had any real known relationships. And the only one you seem to keep pushing away is me."

"Because I thought you were straight and dating Savannah. And how many relationships I've had and with whom is none of your business. You're making me out like I'm a Casanova and I'm going to bed with another woman every night."

"Or another man," Morgan grumbled sullenly.

"Now, let's get this straight once and for all: The thing with Kathrin is over and there was never anything with Julia. I'm not in a relationship with Teresa either. She is my new dance partner and nothing more. If you misinterpret the mood between us, I can't help it. With José, yes, I was with him, but that's been over for more than a year. We're still good friends, but that's about it."

Morgan snorted in disbelief. "Yeah, sure, because I also throw myself into my friend's arms and make out with him when I think I'm unobserved."

Spencer shook his head in disbelief. "I ... I told you we saw you."

"Oh yeah, you guys make out when you're seen, too. But it's all just friendly," Morgan returned pointedly.

"Yeah, because we might have been joking around with you. I thought that was obvious when I told you we noticed you. We just wanted to shock you a little bit for watching us so blatantly."

Morgan eyed Spencer suspiciously. Was the boy really telling the truth?

"And what about the little boy I saw you with last Friday?"

Spencer frowned. "Where did you see me last Friday?"

"Here, at the club, upstairs in our ... in your practice room. You were in his arms, asking him to hold you even tighter, too." Morgan saw the scene before him again in his mind and had to stop himself from pulling Spencer into his own arms to show him where he belonged.

"Antonio? You mean Antonio. I ... I'm not going to start something with a boy who could almost be my son!"

"That didn't stop you with Kathrin either."

"Okay, let me put it another way: Antonio is completely straight and is getting married in a few weeks. There's no interest on my part whatsoever. And what you saw ... do you think you're the only one I have to teach? I agreed to give Antonio a few lessons because he can't keep up with his dance partner. What you saw, that's what they want to show at their wedding."

Morgan was silent. Was all this really supposed to be true? Then there was no obstacle at all between him and Spencer.

"Spencer ... I ..."

But Reid shook his head wearily. "At least now I know what you think of me. No wonder you take any liberties then. I guess I'm not worth more in your eyes." And all at once the boy turned on his heel and headed back in the direction of the club.

"Spencer ..." This couldn't be true now. It couldn't all be in vain, his efforts and this debate. "Spencer, wait!"

But Reid didn't respond and just kept walking.

Morgan jogged quickly after him and stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

"Let me, Morgan. Or did you bring some more handcuffs again to chain me up somewhere?"

Derek immediately dropped his hand from Reid's shoulder. "No, no. ... I ..." Morgen blocked Reid's path. "That was a mistake. I apologize again, and I swear I won't make that mistake again. But ... everything else ... everything else that happened between us that night ..."

"Morgan, stop it!" Spencer's expression no longer showed anger, but plenty of determination. "You said you were going to let me take the lead. And when I finish this dance, that's it. ... Morgan, I don't want this dance anymore."

With that, Reid pushed past him and just left him standing there.

Chapter Text

Tired, Morgan walked down the street toward his house. It was almost three in the morning, and at the moment he was cursing the thought that had driven him to walk home. His car was parked in front of Garcia's house. He would have to come up with something special for his baby girl, now that he had ended her evening with Kevin early again. But after the rejection Spencer had given him, he had automatically gone to her place. After all, she was the only one he could cry to - and this time literally.

Completely lost in self-pity, he had drunk too much. A ride in his car was out of the question and he really didn't want to spend another night on Penelope's couch. At least this way she could invite Kevin over for breakfast without him getting in the way somehow. He also didn't feel like taking a cab ride, which might get him a talkative or nosy cab driver. And so he had decided to simply walk.

The few kilometers in the cold night air had ensured that he was now almost sober again. But the fact that he could think clearly again probably had more disadvantages than advantages. He was only too aware that today he would have to bury all the hopes he had had yesterday. The only thing that kept him going was the thought that maybe he could at least manage to rebuild his friendship with Reid over the coming weeks and months. He would suppress his feelings, and if the boy stopped seeing them, then maybe normalcy could return.

Morgan kicked a pebble down the street and slowly glanced after it. He had racked his brain for what else he could do, but everything that had happened in the last few hours led to only one conclusion: he loved Reid, but Reid didn't return the feelings. And there was no antidote for unrequited love.

Relieved, Morgan turned into the path to his front door. It had now become noticeably cold, and he was glad to finally be home.

But as he pulled the key from his pocket and glanced toward his front door, he stopped in surprise. Someone was sitting on the steps to his porch. And if his brain wasn't still completely befuddled by alcohol, it was Reid.

"Spencer? What are you doing here?" inquired Morgan as he walked up to the boy.

Reid winced at being addressed, then looked up at Morgan out of rather small eyes. Had he been asleep?

"My God, how long have you been sitting here in the cold?"

"I don't know," Reid muttered. "What time is it?"

"Almost three o'clock."

"Then it's about four and a half hours."

"Come on, up you go. You'll catch your death out here in the cold," Morgan demanded, grabbing Spencer by the arm and pulling him up. It didn't matter at all why Reid waited outside his door half the night, right now he needed to get inside and warm up."

Quickly, Morgan unlocked the door and pushed Spencer in front of him and right on into the kitchen.

"I'll make us some coffee," he explained as he pushed Spencer toward a stool at his kitchen counter. "Why didn't you call me when you realized I wasn't there?"

"Left my phone at the club."

Morgan shook his head. "Then why didn't you wait in the car? Why were you even waiting here? I might as well not have come home at all." Involuntarily, Morgan was immensely glad that he had decided against Penelope's offer to sleep on her couch.

"I probably would have fallen asleep in the car and missed you," Spencer muttered as he stared at his hands, which were already turning almost blue from the cold.

Morgan sighed. "Wait here," he said briefly, then disappeared toward the living room. From there he retrieved the cozy blanket Penelope had left with him on her last visit. "Here, wrap yourself in this to get warmer," he said, pressing the blanket into Spencer's hand.

Awkwardly, Spencer threw the blanket around his shoulders, trying not to slide off the stool.

"Why are you here?" inquired Morgan quietly as he busied himself with the coffee maker. First the boy rebuffed him, and then he spent more than four hours waiting outside his door? What was that supposed to mean?

"I want to correct a mistake," Spencer returned just as quietly.

A mistake? What did Reid mean? Had he changed his mind after all? Or was it just a matter of setting the record straight about something he had said?

Morgan waited, but Spencer said no more.

When the coffee was finally ready, Morgan slid Spencer a steaming cup and the sugar bowl.

"What mistake?" he echoed as he sat down on a stool across from Reid.

"I did the same thing you did: I made assumptions, but I didn't ask. I simply just assumed I was right. In retrospect, it occurred to me that if your imagination hadn't galloped away with you like that, there wouldn't have been so many problems. And ... and maybe ... well ... maybe that's why I should check to see if my conclusions are correct."

Morgan furrowed his brow. "You do realize that I don't really know where you're going right now, don't you?"

"Hmm."

"And are you enlightening me?"

"Do you want to have sex with me?"

"What, now?"

"Yeah ... no ... so ... I mean ... like, in general?"

"Um ... well, I'd be lying if I said no."

Spencer nodded. "And nothing else?"

"What do you mean, nothing else? What do you mean?"

"Is ... is sex all you want?" Spencer looked Morgan straight in the eye at that question, and Morgan felt like he was looking right into his heart and soul.

"N... No. That ... you know that."

Spencer shook his head. "I don't know anything. That's the thing."

"But, I ..."

"You told me and showed me that you had lust for me. Yes, you were jealous. But who's to tell me that's not just offended vanity. The great Derek Morgan, heartthrob extraordinaire, can't get his way with the gray mouse Spencer Reid. He can't put up with that. And if you have to, then you persuade the awkward guy in a creative way. And then just leave him there."

Spencer's voice went quiet on the last sentence.

"But ... I didn't just leave you."

"Then what was that? You came, and that was it for you. Quickly looking for the keys and then removing traces. Not a kind word ... not a ... not a kiss. Nothing."

Morgan looked at Spencer in horror. He had completely forgotten after that passionate moment that Spencer was just not only the tough dancer who had the upper hand everywhere, but also the sensitive boy who sometimes couldn't understand or interpret himself or the people around him.

"That ... I'm sorry ... oh, Spencer, I really didn't mean to do that. I ... I ... ask me again!"

"What do you want me to ask you again?" inquired Spencer, confused.

"Whether sex is all I want."

Spencer was silent for a moment, then almost whispered, "Is sex all you want from me?"

Morgan reached for Spencer's hand. "No, no, and no again. I want you, with everything you can give me. With every dance step and every statistic, with every laugh and every tear, with every minute you curl up in a book and every second you give me a smile. And most of all, I want your heart, because where mine was, there's a big hole right now because you stole it from me. Spencer, I've fallen in love with you."

Morgan felt on Spencer's hand, which was in his, that the boy started to tremble slightly. He couldn't interpret his look at all. And then Reid pulled his head in too, so Morgan couldn't even see what was going on under the mop of fuzz.

"I can't say this right now," Spencer brought out with difficulty a few seconds after Derek's confession of love.

Morgan didn't know what that meant now. Ten seconds ago he had thought Reid would return his feelings, but maybe he had completely misinterpreted something again? But then he realized that he was about to make again the mistake they had both made several times. That's why he also reached for Reid's other hand, which was still clutching the cup, loosened it, and pulled it toward him to get the boy's attention. "What can't you say?" he inquired cautiously.

Again, he had to wait a few seconds, but then Reid slowly raised his head again, even though he kept his gaze fixed only on their intertwined hands. "That ... that I ... love you."

It was hard for Morgan, but he needed clarity now, so he hitched, "Don't you feel anything for me?"

"Yes ..." Spencer broke off, finally really looking at Morgan. "You ... you keep messing up my life. I ... I've been trying for weeks now ... I've needed protection ... I've been trying to build a wall in front of me. And now ..."

"And now?"

"You've taken a stone out of the wall. And the sun shines into my corner through it. But ... but I'm like blinded. Can ... can you understand?"

Morgan nodded. When Spencer spoke in pictures and not statistics, it was really easy to understand him. "You're overwhelmed. I can understand that very well. I kind of felt the same way - when I kept dreaming about you." Morgan let his thumb slide over Spencer's left hand. "And you need time?"

Reid nodded.

"A lot of time?"

"I don't know."

"And you want me to keep my distance?"

"I ... I don't know that either."

"A little test?"

Spencer looked at him questioningly. "What kind of test?"

"Tell me how you feel more comfortable." Morgan let go of Spencer's hands and moved back a little from the counter to give him space. "Like this?" He waited a few seconds, then moved back and took Spencer's hands again. "Or like this?"

"No distance," Spencer returned. Morgan smiled with relief. "That's a good start, isn't it? How about dancing?"

"What, now?"

Morgan had to grin. "If you want, that too. But I was thinking more like next Friday, at the usual time at the usual place."

Spencer nodded. "That sounds good, too."

"I think so, too. And the rest ... will come somehow," Morgan agreed. "Shall we go to bed now, then?"

Spencer immediately withdrew his hands.

"Oh dear, no!" exclaimed Morgan at the same moment. "I didn't mean it that way. I'm just tired, that's all. I ... you get the guest room if you want to stay. And if not ... I'll call you a cab."

Spencer considered for a moment, then slid his hand back into Morgan's. "I'd like to try the guest room."

Derek breathed a sigh of relief. He felt like he was walking on fragile eggshells. It wasn't going to be easy until Spencer trusted him and himself, but if it got him Spencer, it was worth all the trouble. Morgan slid off his stool and pulled Spencer to his feet as well. "Come on, I'll show you where the guest room is and bring you a shirt of mine to sleep in."

Hand in hand, they then walked slowly up the stairs.

Chapter Text

"How are you today? Is your head okay? And your poor little heart? I brought you muffins. And lemon tarts, in case you're in the mood for something sour. And ice cream, in case you ate yours last night and need a refill tonight."

With a flurry of words, Garcia pushed past Morgan into the house and immediately maked his way to his kitchen. "I'll make coffee. And pancakes, if you want. You've got eggs there, right? And syrup?" she continued before Derek could produce more than a "Good morning." "And you," Penelope raised her eyes and insistently eyed his shirt and shorts, which made it clear he hadn't been up long, "you should definitely shower. I know everyone likes to let himself down when he or she is heartbroken. But you don't need others to see or smell that. And believe me, you'll feel a lot better right away after you've had a good shower. And by the time you're done showering, breakfast will be on the table."

"Breakfast sounds good, especially if it includes coffee," a voice suddenly sounded from the doorway. And Garcia let out a sharp cry as she whirled around - and saw Spencer standing in the doorway, still pretty disheveled from sleep, unshaven, in tight black pants and a way-too-big T-shirt.

"Morgan! That's...that's...that's Spencer standing there!" stammered Penelope in a shrill voice. "What's Spencer doing here?"

"Right now I'm being yelled at, even though someone just promised me breakfast," Spencer muttered, rubbing his tired eyes.

"Derek Morgan! What explanation do you have for this?" demanded Garcia firmly, her pitch gradually lowering back to a normal level. "I thought ... I thought I had to play soul comforter today. In doing so, I have to note that you've already done an excellent job of comforting yourself. What is ..."

"One moment, please," Morgan finally interrupted the tirade with a raised index finger, silencing Penelope. "You'll excuse us for a moment?"

With that, he walked over to Spencer and pushed him out of the door, which he closed firmly behind him.

"I'd say you just did an excellent job of outing us," Derek muttered.

"I heard something about coffee," Spencer returned, and if nothing else Morgan could tell that the latter wasn't really awake yet.

"Yeah, that was Garcia. And she saw you in my T-shirt with a shock of hair that just screams, 'I just crawled out from under the covers after a passionate night,'" Morgan sighed.

"Well, that's not true," Reid yawned as he let Morgan push him back up the stairs.

"Unfortunately," Morgan muttered.

Spencer bristled. "I thought ..."

"That's okay, Spencer. We've got time. But a little dreaming will be allowed, won’t it?"

Reid nodded

"Here's the guest bathroom. You'll find towels in the closet, and there should be a toothbrush and toothpaste in the mirror box. I suggest you get yourself into a fresh, reasonably awake state. And I'll try to calm our computer queen down there enough that breakfast won't be a disaster, okay?"

"Yeah, sounds good," Spencer yawned again. "If there's coffee, too, then?"

"I get it. Coffee is most important. The rest comes after," Morgan laughed, turning on his heel.

"Derek?" he heard Spencer's voice, though, when he was almost to the stairs.

"Huh?" Derek looked back over his shoulder and saw Reid frowning.

"Did you ... want to keep us a secret?"

Morgan immediately couldn't help but think that Spencer feared being just his dark little secret. That's why he came right back to the boy. "You mustn't think that at all," he explained. "I was just hoping we could first explore a little bit where we are now before our team finds out. And call me possessive, but I just wanted to have you to myself for a few hours."

Morgan hesitated briefly, then pressed a light kiss to Spencer's lips. "Okay?" he asked as he broke away from Spencer again.

"Okay," the latter returned and smiled before turning and disappearing into the bathroom.

How was he supposed to keep this up, Morgan wondered as he slowly made his way down the stairs. After all, he already knew how exciting it was to be with Spencer, and could imagine that now that they were getting closer, the sex had to be even more glorious. But he had no choice but to exercise restraint until Spencer signaled that more than a little kiss was allowed.

"Where is he? You didn't throw him out now, did you?" inquired Penelope immediately as Derek returned to the kitchen without Spencer.

"Now slow down, my girl," he tried to calm the blonde, who was violently tossing pancake batter around in a mixing bowl. "Of course I didn't kick Spencer out. He's upstairs implementing what you advised me to do: he's taking a shower."

"How ... what ... did you ...?" Garcia set down the mixing bowl in frustration. "Why is he here? Did you ... well, um ... you know ... were you in bed with him? So ... well, so ... at least that's what he looks like."

"Baby girl, actually, I should be bringing up the line about the gentleman who enjoys and keeps quiet. But you'd probably misinterpret that completely. And so that you don't question Spencer afterwards: No, I did not sleep with him. Yes, I told him I loved him. No, he didn't use the L word. But yes, we are kind of on the road to a relationship. Any questions?"

"Thousands!" replied Penelope promptly, grinning. "But the most important one first: where did you hide the sugar?"

Morgan couldn't help but laugh out loud, and Garcia promptly joined in. "Baby girl, you're the best!" commented Derek as he slowly regained his breath. "I'm going to go make sure no one can smell my 'desperation' now, too. The sugar is in the left hanging cabinet at eye level. I'll be right back to help you. And do me a favor: If Spencer shows up before me, hold off a wee bit on questions. Right now we're dealing with Spencer's reserved side, and I don't want you to scare him off before I've had a chance to convince him he can't live without me."

"Then shoo, get in the shower. And if you need help scrubbing your back, just call me - or Spencer."

---

"Does this smell like pancakes?" inquired Spencer as he entered the kitchen a good 20 minutes later.

"Yes, my genius, those are ... yikes ... you sure cleaned up," Garcia interrupted herself as she turned to see Spencer standing in the kitchen doorway. Morgan, too, looked up from the pan in which he was turning the bacon. To him, the sight Spencer presented was no longer quite so unfamiliar. He was no longer wearing the oversized T-shirt with his black pants, but his black shirt with the wide sleeves, which obviously had no buttons in the upper third and therefore offered a generous view of his chest. In addition, he had tied his hair, still damp from the shower, back up with a red ribbon at the nape of his neck. Dancer or buccaneer - the two words came spontaneously to Morgan's mind.

"Um ... yeah ... well, I didn't have ... any clothes with me other than the ones from yesterday," Reid explained slowly, and Morgan guessed that he wasn't awake enough yet to come up with a good excuse for the outfit, which was, after all, quite unfamiliar, at least to Penelope.

"Did you go to a party last night?" inquired Garcia when she finally managed to take her eyes off him again and was scooping little pancakes onto a plate.

Morgan might have kissed her for being so on her toes and not letting on that she knew why Spencer was dressed like that.

"Yeah ... yeah, you could say that," Reid countered. "Kind of a theme party. Spain ... Spain was the theme."

"You should wear it more often. Spain really suits you," Garcia grinned, and Morgan could only nod in agreement. "But back to your question, the pancakes are already done."

"Sorry, I guess I'm still not fully awake," Spencer said in response. "I didn't mean to invite myself to dinner. I didn't even know you guys were having breakfast. Otherwise, I wouldn't have stayed at all." At that, he looked at Morgan a tiny bit reproachfully.

"Hogwash. For one thing, you always get to invite yourself over, especially when I'm cooking, and for another, I sort of invited myself over for breakfast with our chocolate muffin. I just wanted to surprise him. And now it's a double surprise." That she didn't mean she had surprised Spencer, but was alluding to the surprise of finding Spencer at Morgan's, Derek heard subliminally in her every word. She was dying to know what had happened. That was clear. But she would have to be patient until he could enlighten her in a quiet - Spencer-less - minute. And in doing so, he hoped there would be no such minute anytime soon.

"Here, take it with you, but don't snarf anything yet!" demanded Penelope, thrusting the plate of pancakes into Spencer's hand as she did so and shooing him away toward the dining room table. "Syrup will be right behind."

"And coffee?"

"And coffee," Morgan confirmed with a laugh, taking the pot out of the machine. On some things, Spencer remained delightfully predictable.

---

A little later, the three of them sat together at breakfast. Morgan thought he was safe - and so did Spencer - when Garcia suddenly asked innocently between two bites of scrambled eggs: "And you two were at the party together yesterday? Did you drink so much, Spencer, that you couldn't find your way home afterward?"

Sometimes Morgan wanted to strangle Penelope all too badly, and this moment was one of them. Spencer promptly choked on his pancake as he tried to stammer out a response. "I ... well, no ... not that directly. And I didn't drink anything."

Garcia just raised her eyebrows and gave Spencer an unblinking questioning look. After all, she knew better than to expect an answer from Morgan.

"Baby girl," Derek tried to draw attention to himself. "Can't Spencer ..."

"I had something to work out with Morgan," Spencer interrupted him all at once, then explained kindly but firmly, "And you can stop beating around the bush. You know full well that there's been trouble between us lately. So the fact that I'm here shows you that we've sorted out the problem."

Garcia smiled beatifically. "I love it when my two dearest friends make up." And she reached for Spencer's and Morgan's hands and squeezed them.

Spencer glanced back and forth between her hands. Then he looked at her inquiringly. "What did Morgan tell you?"

Now it was Morgan's turn to cough violently. "What ... what am I supposed to have ... told her?"

"That's what I want to know," Spencer said, not taking his eyes off Garcia.

"Well, that's not his reserved side now," Penelope whispered to Morgan.

Derek groaned and ran both hands over his face. Anyone looking at Penelope now could tell immediately that she had a secret that was about to burst out of her. Now was not the time for Spencer to find out about his hoax and realize that Penelope knew about everything. The boy would probably turn on his heel right then and there.

"Penelope?" asked Spencer when he got no response.

"I ... well ... why don't you ask our chocolate cupcake? I don't really know what you're talking about."

Spencer shook his head, then looked challengingly at Derek. "You told her, didn't you? Now spit it out already: How much does she know?"

Derek screwed up his face. "Everything?" he said cautiously.

"And since when?"

"Since the beginning?"

Spencer snorted and shook his head. "You're asked to do one little thing and that's exactly what you can't stick to?"

"Spencer, I'm so sorry. I told her about ... you know, before you told me that you don’t want anyone to know about it. And after that ... somehow there was no way back?"

"I really don't tell anything else either. Nobody hears a word from me," Garcia chirped in between, sensing how tense Derek was beside her.

"Well, if you're so generous with information, Derek, I guess I can't help but do the same now. Actually, I didn't want to tell you this in front of an audience right now ..." Spencer looked at Morgan urgently and paused. "But if Penelope knows everything, I want her to hear this now, too." Spencer looked at Morgan seriously, so that it almost squeezed the latter's throat with tension.

"Spence ..."

But Spencer shook his head. "This has to be on the table now. I thought about what you said at length last night and this morning in the shower ... and what I said in response."

"What do you mean?" Was Spencer backpedaling now?

"I can and will tell you now, after all." Spencer took a deep breath and exhaled. "I love you."

Morgan's eyes got big and bigger, but he couldn't get a word out. Had he just heard right?

The shrill squeal beside him and Garcia's excited waving of his hands could really only mean that.

"You ..." was all Morgan could get out.

Spencer nodded with a smile. Then he stood up and came around the table toward Morgan. "I love you," he repeated before leaning down to Derek, taking his face in both hands and kissing him passionately.

"Aaah! This is truly a historic moment," Garcia screeched from beside them. "And I'm right there with you. Where the heck is my cell phone. This all needs to be recorded for posterity. The first kiss of my new favorite couple: chocolate cupcakes and vanilla bean!"

 

The end