Chapter Two: Death and Forgiveness
Standing in the waiting room of the hospital, waiting for information from Gideon or Rossi about Emily’s condition, Tony found himself thinking back on his life since he came online, and Spencer entered his life. There were times that he still battled with his Guide to try and get him to forgive himself for how badly the young boy had reacted that first day. It seemed the older Spencer got, the more stubborn he got about it, especially now that he was an adult and understood the scars Tony’s past had left on him. Spencer recognized how hard on his soul being matched up to a 10-year-old was for the 20-year-old college student Tony had been at the time.
“What are you thinking about?”
Looking at Li’l Bit’s reflection in the mirrored reflection of the window thanks to the night beyond the hospital’s walls, he flashed a thankful smile and leaned forward into the other man’s touch. “Just reminiscing about when you came online.”
“You mean, what a brat I was,” Spencer threw back making Tony roll his eyes.
“I thought we agreed that you weren’t going to say that shit anymore?” Tony chided gently as he placed a kiss on his Guide’s neck.
“You have your opinion on our past, and I have mine,” Spencer replied before leaning back slightly to rest his head on his mate’s shoulder.
“Hmm,” Tony offered as he wrapped his arms around Spencer’s waist. “You know I hate it when you talk bad about yourself. You were scared and rightfully so. Your anger was understandable.”
“Maybe so,” Spencer conceded frowning, “but stretching it out almost 2 years was a little much. I wish they’d hurry up and tell us how bad Em was hurt.”
“Surgeries take time,” Tony reminded softly. “She’ll be ok, Spencer.”
“I know,” Spencer replied back, but no sooner had the words left his mouth than a distinct sound of anguish was heard from Penelope.
Both Spencer and Tony turned quickly to see Gideon and Rossi standing in the entrance way. “She was simply hurt too badly,” Rossi said smoothly, and Tony couldn’t help but take in the rage, Morgan, and anguish, Penelope, that his coworkers were suffering. He could smell their emotions filling the room.
He couldn’t help but think back to the day when he found out Alec died, and those that followed. As he stood in the waiting room, with his cheek rested against the top of Spencer’s head, and his arm wrapped firmly around his shoulder, the Sentinel let his mind wander as a sense of clarity and certainty began to build inside of him about what he always thought really happened
Tony knew that neither he nor Spencer would forget the day that the Guide met the Marquess of Montagu whom he would in the years that followed come to call Uncle George because he was his Stephen’s oldest brother and Tony’s own Uncle.
~~*~~ Flashback ~~*~~
The last almost 2 years had been a level of difficulty that Tony didn’t even know existed. He’d never had problems with his senses before Spencer coming online, but now that he was in this weird state of constant flux they felt like a wire with a short in it. Sometimes they were fully online, and Tony couldn’t function without a conservator, and others it felt like he didn’t have any enhanced senses at all. If it wasn’t for Dean, he wasn’t sure what he’d do.
The day that he’d left Spencer’s room after being thrown out, he hadn’t made it all the way to the elevators before the first spike hit. While Marcus had been by his side, as a fellow Sentinel, there hadn’t been much that he could do to help. Fortunately, Stephen had felt something was wrong and quickly rushed to his side. After spending almost 24 hours in an isolation room though, the wire had moved again, and Tony had his first experience of having no enhanced senses at all since he’d come online at 8. As painful as the spike had been without a Guide, he would have traded it in a second for the dead zone he found himself in without his senses. During those periods he didn’t even have the senses of a mundane and felt as helpless as a newborn.
It hadn’t taken long to determine that Tony was definitely going to need a conservator. Fortunately, the person Jim hinted at when they’d talked in the conference room was available and willing to help to solve two problems in one action.
Blair and Jim recently helped an online but Unbonded Guide named Dean Winchester gain custody of his minor brother who was an online but Unbonded Sentinel that was showing signs of being an Alpha Sentinel. Both brothers came online at the same time thanks to the actions of their father, who to put it nicely, was batshit crazy.
The man hadn’t taken the death of his wife in a house fire well, and his developing schizophrenia had drastically worsened. Unfortunately, without his wife Mary around, there hadn’t really been anyone else to help. One night about a month after his wife was buried, he left in the middle of the night, and no one saw them again until Dean showed up at a Sentinel and Guide center in Cascade begging for help. Dean had been just 18 and Sam was 10. It had taken Blair and Jim almost two years to help the older brother to gain full custody of his sibling. Dean was in college, and no one wanted him to give up his studies. So, finding him a place at Ohio State University with Tony was perfect. The two brothers got a chance to start over where nobody knew them and could learn to live in one place.
Now, Tony and Dean were getting ready to graduate from OSU with Finals just recently completed, and Sam was graduating High School at 14. While he didn’t quite have Spencer’s level of genius, he was incredibly smart in his own right. He’d already been accepted to Stanford. The plan was that Sam would be starting there in the fall while living with Stephen and Marcus, who would be there with Spencer.
At some point, Tony’s Guide had switched his mind about his college of choice, although the whys were unclear to Tony. It worked out well though because Sam already knew Marcus and Stephen from the times they’d visited Tony, and the teenager liked them both. They’d even managed to get John Winchester moved to Bennington where Spencer’s mother was, which made any visitation easier.
They were trying to plan a graduation party for the three of them when the call came in from Marcus that they were needed in Vegas asap. “It’s Alec, Tony, and it isn’t good news. We can’t get Li’l Bit calmed down, and he’s calling for you.”
Tony offered to go alone, not wanting to pull Sam out of school, but neither Winchester brother would hear of it. “It isn’t like Sam actually needs to be in class. He’s already got all of his final projects finished. We’ll go in and talk to his teachers in the morning and get whatever work he needs done that he doesn’t have. He’ll be back in plenty of time for finals.”
“But he’ll miss Senior year activities,” Tony protested only for Sam to make a face.
“Nothing I care about,” the soon to be 14-year-old shot back frowning, “besides, Spencer is your family, and I’ll be living with them in the fall.”
“He’s more important than some stupid Senior Skip Day and whatever other crappy things that I’ll just get picked on for participating in.”
So, the three men had taken an afternoon flight out of John Glen Columbus International Airport and were in Vegas by dinner time. Tony spent most of the flight contemplating the various relationships in his life. Despite Dean’s presence and the friendship that they’d formed, which would last well past this temporary Sentinel and Guide thing they were doing, it hurt every day to not have at least a Platonic Bond with Spencer. It constantly felt like there was a hole in his chest where the younger man should be. He’d always had something of a longing but knowing who his Guide was without being able to do anything about it just made things all that much worse.
Spencer Reid had to be one of the most stubborn people that Tony had ever known of in his life. The kid certainly knew how to hold a grudge, which made the call for Tony’s presence all that more worrisome. Every time Tony tried to heal things between them, he got nothing more than the teenager’s version of go fuck yourself in return. It was part of why they were putting Sam with Stephen and Marcus. In fact, it had been Sam’s idea, to begin with.
The boy had quickly developed a brother-like bond with Tony and knew how much it hurt the older man to have such a hate-filled relationship with his Guide. While it would be years before Tony would have to think about a full bond, he wanted to at least be able to be friends with Spencer, and Sam had made it clear that he was determined to make it happen.
Tony loved the brother-like bond he had with Sam. The younger man had even switched from soccer to basketball because it was one of the two sports that Tony played at OSU. Since he had no siblings of his own, it helped him to understand the connection that his Guide had to his older brother Alec. It also filled a need that Tony never imagined he’d be able to satisfy.
The relationship between Tony and Dean was complicated, and one that both men knew would last a lifetime. They quickly developed a friendship after meeting that each man had desperately needed, and more often than not turned to each other for their sexual needs. They each found it more straightforward than bringing an unknown into the mix that could make the already complicated situation even more confusing.
Both Tony and Dean knew what the other’s situation was. Tony couldn’t and didn’t want to risk someone forming an attachment to him when he knew someday he’d have Spencer in his life. Dean just wasn’t ready to bring a Sentinel into the mix yet. Sam was his top priority, and until he was confident that his younger brother ok on his own and preferably bonded to his Guide, that wouldn’t change.
As the flight attendant announced their final descent into the Las Vegas airport, Tony’s thoughts turned to Alec Trevelyan, and he couldn’t help but hurt over his Guide’s loss. He’d only met Spencer’s older brother once. The man had been waiting in Tony and Dean’s room at the frat house when they returned from a game. A room that had a locked door. Sitting in the dark. Menacingly. To say that the two men had been startled was an understatement.
Tony was reasonably confident that he hadn’t been that scared since the night his mother died and hoped that he was never that scared again. When Marcus told him about Spencer’s older brother, he’d advised that he worked for an international import and export company. Tony could say with complete surety though that there was no way in hell that was the truth. Dean hadn’t reacted much better than Tony had, and for weeks after had nightmares that he refused to talk about.
Despite his fear though, there was a part of Tony that was relieved Spencer had someone who loved him enough to go to the lengths Alec had to ensure his new Sentinel was worthy of him. Tony guessed that he must have passed the test because, by the time he left, the Englishman had promised that he’d try and get Spencer to come around and told him to just be patient. The Brit had left an impression on Tony that he would certainly never forget, and his death only made the Sentinel that much more determined to fix things with his underaged Guide.
“I think I’m gonna actually miss that scary motherfucker,” Dean muttered from the seat behind him, and Tony flashed a sad smile over his shoulder in agreement. As the plane touched down, Tony couldn’t help but send up a request to whatever spiritual being or beings looked out for Sentinels and Guides that they were done taking people away from his young genius.
Spencer was huddled up in a corner of his room with his arms wrapped tight around Samson’s neck and with Leonardo perched on his back petting his hair. He refused to talk to anyone outside of the haven his room had become and was determined not to speak to anyone until his Forever was there. If no one else would listen to him, then he wasn’t going to waste his time with them. Surely, Tony would listen. Alec had been chiding him about his treatment of his Sentinel for quite some time, and repeatedly advised him to give in and end what he called his temper tantrum.
In the shadows of everyone’s insistence that his brother was dead, Spencer couldn’t help but regret that he’d stayed so stubborn and refused to give in. It seemed incredibly childish now, and despite the fact that in terms of life years he was only 12, Spencer hadn’t felt like a child in quite some time. It wasn’t a feeling that Spencer enjoyed, and it was a moment that would influence future interactions, especially the difficult ones. There had been an instance, just a quick flash that had been locked down almost immediately, where the devastation of being rejected had crossed his Sentinel’s face that day in the hospital when he’d thrown the older man out.
The power to hurt another human being that badly with nothing more than words was one that Spencer found he wasn’t comfortable with.
His mother always stressed to him how important words were, and even more important was how he used them. “There are so many different things that you can say with a word, Spencer, depending on how you say it. A good man is conscious of that and thinks about not just what he says but how he will say it before he speaks. Only fools just open their mouths and spew whatever comes to mind without a care as to how the other person will take it. You’re too smart to be a fool. Remember that, Spencer. Always be a good man and take care of how you share your thoughts with the world.”
It wasn’t until that moment that he understood, really understood, what his Mamma had been talking about.
He didn’t want to hurt people that way. He certainly didn’t want to hurt his Forever that way. He didn’t like it. Inside he felt ashamed and as if he’d been swallowed by a dark cloud when he saw that hurt on Tony’s face. He’d been so scared and hurt so badly with all the uncertainty and new sensations surrounding him, he’d just wanted someone else to feel what he did. Well, he’d certainly managed it, and he would always consider it one of the moments he was least proud of.
Alec had actually told him that he was disappointed in him when he’d come to see him. Spencer hated that more than anything.
Now, Alec was gone, or so they claimed. All he had left now, really, was the Sentinel that he’d shoved away with hate and said he never wanted to see again. He didn’t want to even think about what his mother said when he told her.
“I love you, Spencer, and I will always be proud of you, but I raised you better than that. Those are not the words of a good man.”
Yet, it still had taken Spencer almost two years and the loss of his big brother to come to his senses. Now, he could only hope that Tony was a better Sentinel than Spencer had been Guide. When his door opened, he peaked up over Sampson’s mane and felt his breath catch as Tony stepped inside of the room.
“Hey, kiddo,” His Forever greeted and for once, Spencer didn’t stop to think. He just acted. Getting up he barreled around the big Spirit Guide, who disappeared along with Leonardo, and ran to Tony burying his face in the man’s chest. “Hey now, it’s gonna be ok.”
Spencer followed along as Tony led him toward the bed, and when the taller man was seated, he crawled into his lap thankful for once that he hadn’t had his growth spurt yet. “They lied! Uncle George said that he’s dead, but he’s not! I can still feel him. He doesn’t feel the same, but he’s still there. Make them stop lying!”
“Oh, Spence,” Tony murmured softly as he began to rock slightly when Spencer let go of the tears he’d been trying to hold in. “It’s ok. Just let it all out, and then we’ll talk.”
So, let it out he had. For nearly an hour he’d sobbed and screamed and begged until the tears and emotions were all dried up. Then he’d sat snuffling on the older man’s lap with his arms wrapped around him and his mind numb. “Why are they lying? I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know, kiddo,” Tony admitted still speaking quietly. “You said he feels different. What do you mean?”
“It’s like he’s faded,” Spencer said painfully as he mentally tried to cling to the connection to his brother in his mind. “He’s barely there, but he’s not gone! I don’t understand why Uncle George is lying!”
“Maybe he doesn’t know he is,” Tony offered carefully, and Spencer looked up frowning at that.
“What does that mean? Either he’s lying, or he’s telling the truth. How can he lie and not know?”
“Well, say I know something isn’t the truth,” Tony started as Spencer listened carefully, “and someone else needs to know the lie.”
“I don’t want to tell them myself though, so I send someone else to do it. But, all I tell that person is the lie. So, the second person goes to deliver the news only knowing the part that isn’t true, and they tell a third person. That one in the middle is really lying but thinks they’re telling the truth. So, even though they don’t know it, they’ve really lied to you, the third person.”
“Why would they do that, though?” Spencer asked frowning, and when Tony just shrugged.
“I don’t honestly know. I don’t have any practical experience in this area, but my guess is that they would be trying to protect someone,” Tony conceded carefully as if he was thinking something over in his head. “As much as I hate to say it, L’il Bit, I think that you need to stop telling people that you can still feel him. Take that tiny bit of Alec that’s in your head and put him in a box. Seal it shut, and don’t ever look inside of it. ‘Cause, either he’s really dead, and you’re just feeling an echo of something, or he’s alive, and someone is trying to protect either you or him. If it’s the second one, then telling people you can still feel him will only put him in more danger.”
Spencer never actually agreed to his Sentinel’s suggestion, and he was days before he talked again. He’d stuck to his Forever’s side though as long as the older man was there. When he had needed to go back to Columbus, he’d stood in the driveway and watched with silent tears falling down his cheeks. He’d made a new friend though in Sam Winchester and spent all summer writing letters back and forth to the other teenager. He’d also worked on his friendship with his Sentinel, and agreed to the Platonic Bond, which they’d gotten settled before Tony left.
~~*~~ End of Flashback ~~*~~
While he never really forgot that he didn’t believe Alec was really dead, he eventually stopped thinking about it. That is, until that night in the hospital when Jason Gideon lied to them all.
As Spencer pulled himself out of his memories, thankful that, at least, after those dark days, he’d had a better relationship with his Sentinel, he found himself glaring at the team’s lead pair. Being lied to once about someone dead that really wasn’t was bad enough. Twice in one lifetime was just possibly inexcusable. The ironic thing was that neither party that had lied to him could possibly know about the other, but it was the very thing that convinced him of the other’s deceit.
Indeed, George Paddington, who had merely been playing messenger for MI6, didn’t know that Alec was alive. Most likely the man, whom Spencer respected a great deal, honestly thought that Alec was dead. While Gideon and Rossi both knew that Spencer had a brother named Alec, they had no idea what he did. They only knew that his brother was deceased and had worked for the British Government. Hell, Spencer hadn’t had any reason to believe he was anything other than what he said until years later when he joined the FBI and became more aware of how certain aspects of the intelligence community worked. So, it was somewhat ironic that it was the past lie that made the current one so glaringly obvious.
“Spencer?” Tony asked softly, but Spencer just continued to glare, focusing mostly on Jason Gideon, who was staring back at him with that look of arrogant disdain of his. He’d called the man his mentor for years. While he could understand in theory the need to protect Emily from Doyle as she recovered, he had trouble with their execution, primarily when it related to himself and Tony. Surely, they knew that Spencer would be able to feel that she wasn’t really dead.
He’d known others who really were deceased. Haley Hotchner was the first that came to mind. How he hadn’t caught the difference between her death and Alec’s before now, he wasn’t sure. Except that after considering Tony’s advice, he’d locked Alec up in a protective box in his mind that he just did not look in.
If this fiasco with Emily hadn’t happened, it could have been several more years before he realized that he’d been right all those years ago. The child inside of him wanted to rage at the Sentinel and Guide pair who were looking at him as if he were a ticking time bomb. He’d long ago outgrown such impulses, but that didn’t mean that they would be let off scot-free for this fiasco they were perpetrating. He also noticed that JJ was looking in his direction with a closed off expression on her face, and a distinct tilt to her chin that almost dared him to contradict what the older men were claiming.
Her going along with this mess just might piss him off more than Jason and Rossi. Unlike the Team Leads, JJ did know all about his brother, and also knew about his doubts surrounding the whole thing. She was probably the only person outside of the family he’d made for himself that he’d told about his misgivings about Alec actually being dead. Why she thought he wouldn’t know this all was a lie he had no idea. The facts of the situation simply outshone the untruths that they were trying to con the rest of them into believing.
Fact: Haley Hotchner was dead. The spot where she used to occupy in his mind, at the moment of her death, immediately become nothing but an empty hole.
Fact: Alec never felt like that. If Spencer were to open that box right then, he knew that his older brother would still feel very much alive.
Fact: Emily Prentiss felt just like Alec had and nothing like Haley Hotchner.
Conclusion: Emily Prentiss was alive as was his brother.
She felt weak in his head, and he kind of remembered Alec feeling the same for almost a year after his fictional death. He guessed now that it had something to do with the seriousness of their injuries. As Spencer continued to glare at the Team Leads, he could feel something resembling regret in Rossi’s emotional makeup. He guessed that the Italian hadn’t wanted anything to do with this lie. Oh, sure he’d never say anything that countered his Guide’s schemes. Rossi was nothing if not an attentive Sentinel who did his best to always back his mate’s play.
Spencer’s mentor hadn’t been the same since he came back from his breakdown after Boston. Since his return, he tended to overcompensate his weaknesses by wrapping himself up in his arrogance, as if he could fool people into believing it was the same thing as confidence if he just believed hard enough. Spencer knew that he should give them a chance to talk to him, and also knew that at some point shortly there would be a confrontation with the two men. This was not the moment though. He was no longer the reckless boy who’d hurt his Sentinel so severely with impulsive words of hate.
“Spencer, the others are starting to notice,” Tony said softly, and Spencer turned around to face him.
“They’re lying,” Spencer whispered softly into his Sentinel’s ear. Since there were no additional Bonded Sentinels on the team beyond himself and Rossi, he knew there was no way the wrong person would overhear them. Derek was classified as a sensitive, and Garcia was oddly enough just a regular human. In that moment he could give two fucks if Rossi knew. While he tried not to act impulsively on his feelings anymore, that didn’t mean he didn’t allow himself to feel them. He just tried to keep them wrapped up inside of himself for only he and Tony until he felt it appropriate to act upon them.
“Emily’s alive. She doesn’t feel anything like Haley. She feels just like I remember Alec feeling though.”
His Sentinel pulled his head back slightly to look at him and after taking the time to study him, gave a nod of understanding. Letting Tony make excuses about it being too soon for Spencer after Aaron leaving and therefore needing to get him out of there, the Guide kept his eyes trained on the floor as his mind worked furiously over what to do next.
As far as he was concerned the FBI could go fuck itself. He would keep his mouth shut about Emily, but he’d have no part in continuing the lie otherwise. His and Tony’s time with the BAU was over. Spencer now had a much more critical task, and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that his Sentinel would support him. He also knew without a doubt that it wouldn’t take more than a quick call to both Sam and Dean to get them to assist them. Something in Spencer told him that wherever this was taking him, he needed to bring the Winchester brothers along, and he was okay with that. They’d been such a large part of his life up until that point that he couldn’t even begin to imagine leaving them behind in this.
As Tony pulled him out of the waiting room, Spencer gave one last look over his shoulder at the team before mentally moving on. It didn’t matter anymore what happened with the BAU. The connections that he was meant to keep he would. The ones he wasn’t just didn’t matter. He had a brother to track down, and that would be his sole focus until he had him back.