The Penrose Triangle
Since he broke down in Hotch’s office, Spencer had been going to see him periodically. Sometimes he would just sit in the office and say nothing; the two of them would read before work, or more accurately, Spencer would read a book as Hotch continued on with the mountains of paperwork that needed to be done. Other times, he would enter in the morning with everything on his mind. Their talk had brought on the possibility that the words meant next to nothing and he was struggling with that thought. Either way, one thing stayed the same. Hotch would say nothing unless Spencer specifically asked, finding it more therapeutic for Spencer if he kept quiet.
Each day was work. Trying to move on when he didn’t want to, when he still missed Maeve, was difficult, but eventually, as Hotch had said, if he wanted to be happy, he would have to find a way to make peace with the fact that Maeve was gone; she would want him to be happy. Nearly three years after she’d been murdered, he had good days and bad days. Now, most were good. He’d think of Maeve and focus on the sound of her soft voice when they spoke on the phone, or the way she cracked the corniest jokes with such confidence, or even the way her hair had cascaded over her shoulders during those few minutes he’d been able to see her in person, but occasionally the bad days still reared their ugly heads.
Today was one of those days, and he didn’t feel like talking to Hotch or JJ or Morgan. What he wanted was to talk to his mother. Though she’d recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was in and out of lucidity, he felt as though she was the only one that could make him feel better. The soothing sound of her voice telling him the story of the word on her arm was what he needed right now, so he called Hotch up to tell him he wouldn’t be at work for the next few days – that he needed to see his mother, not for her sake, but his. Though he needed to fly to Houston to see her, it was worth it.
“My baby,” she said softly, wrapping her arms around his neck after opening the door. Silently, he thanked the Gods that she was lucid. “Not feeling well today?”
Spencer shook his head, his eyes downcast as he walked into her room in the facility she’d been staying in. “I’m just really confused, Mom.” As he walked into the room, his mother sat down on her bed and patted the comforter beside her.
That was the question wasn’t it? Was he even confused? Or was it just that he didn’t know how to deal with all of the thoughts that were cascading through his brain? Even the thought that he couldn’t control his mind left him uneasy. “Everything,” he said with uncertainty. “I want to move on from Maeve, but I don’t know how. I want to look at the new words on my arm and yet I also don’t. I want to believe that the universe has someone out there waiting for me, but like my boss, Hotch said I also want some autonomy over my own love life…I just don’t know anymore…” When he looked up, expecting an answer from his mother, she just squeezed his hand tighter. She could tell he wasn’t finished with his thought even though he thought he was. “The words have been a constant in my life, in everyone’s lives, since the dawn of time…apparently. Everyone I know that is happy has put their faith in the words, and everyone that is unhappy hasn’t.” As he flopped down onto the bed, trailing off, Diana took that as her chance to speak.
“True,” she said, running her hands through his hair. “You need a hairbrush.”
“Is that really what you were going to say?” He closed his eyes and giggled to himself.
“No,” she laughed. “But I can’t help but think you need to brush your hair more often. What I was going to say about the people you know who are happy and who aren’t happy is that that’s only because you live in this small bubble. Everyone does,” she continued quickly. “We all exist in our own little world, but that doesn’t mean that another possibility doesn’t exist outside of it. I was happy with my word and my companion,” she spoke, smiling softly at her son, “because after divorcing your father I didn’t want anyone else in that way. I am of the firm belief that we manifest the words due to our own state of mind. All I wanted was a beautiful life with you, so the word remained. What I mean to say is that I think your boss is right. The words exist, but you are in control of them.” She placed her hand on his arm – the arm that was bandaged, hiding his eyes from what might be the words of his new soulmate. “I think you should look at them. The longer you wait, the more weighty they become.”
“But what if I’ve already met this person, and I felt nothing and yet their words are on my arm?” Spencer asked, petrified of the possibility. Despite the fact that both Hotch and his mother felt there was some autonomy in the process, Spencer had grown up believing otherwise, so attempting to rewire his brain wasn’t going to happen quickly. It was going to take him a very long time. “Mom, I’m scared of being alone because these words have too much power over me.”
“Do you think I’m alone?” she asked, looking fondly at the word upon her skin.
Spencer shook his head as he sat up. “Of course not. You have me.”
“Then you are never alone. Soulmate or not, you have people out there that would give the world for you. You put too much weight on these words Spencer.” Her voice turned from reassuring to saddened. The idea that her son felt at all unloved because of these words ripped her apart. How could someone not love her son? He was the light of her life and the reason she kept on going. If only he could see how special he was, he would find someone to love and who would love him in return.
She was right of course, but his brain was still wired to believe in the same things he did when he was younger. “It’ll take time, Spencer,” she said softly. “But I think that your time might be better served knowing exactly what’s painted on your arm. That way, if it’s not what you expect, you can make peace with that and take control.”
For a few moments, mother and son sat in silence. She was right, but as of yet, he couldn’t peel the bandage away, so he slowly pulled his sleeve down over it. Another time, he promised himself. “Mom, will you tell me the story of my word again?” he asked, seeking for an answer in here eyes as he felt a buzzing in his pocket – probably Hotch asking how he was.
“Do I know you?” His mother asked as his eyes met hers once more.
Spencer’s heart dropped. She’d forgotten before, but never him. “It’s me, Mom,” he whispered, his lip quivering. Maybe seeing her had been a mistake. Now not only did he feel helpless in the context of his own life, but in regards to his mother as well. “Your son, Spencer.”
“Oh,” she said quietly, looking away from him and staring off into the distance for a minute or so. “When did you get here?”
“About 30 minutes ago, Mom.” With everything else going on, he needed her now more than ever. There had to be something he could do to bring her back, to show her that he was worthy of the word on her arm. As much as he didn’t want to, he still believed in those words, and the one on his mother’s arm spoke to him more than whatever was waiting under his bandage. His own words be damned – his mother needed him now.
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