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“I don’t know how I let you convince me to come here.” Spencer said with a shake of his head. He sat back in the booth, cradling his glass of bourbon in his hand, giving his best friend a sardonic look. “You know I hate these clubs.”

“Come on, Reid!” Next to him, Penelope bumped their shoulders together. “Would you loosen up that tie a little and have some fun?”

JJ, Emily, Derek, Gideon and Aaron all called out a “Hear, hear!” and raised their glasses to clink together over the table. Spencer tried not to let his scowl melt away to the smile that wanted to break through. For appearances sake, he added another token protest. “I could be sitting at home with a good book and a glass of wine right now. That sounds like fun.” He told them. They all knew that he didn’t mean it. All of them needed this get together.

This last case had been particularly gruesome and it had taken its toll on the team. They were tired, stressed, and ready for anything that didn’t involve blood and murder. To that point, they’d gathered as a group and headed to the bar, even managing to drag Gideon and Spencer along with them, a rare feat indeed. Yet as Spencer sipped his bourbon and watched his friends talk and laugh, he couldn’t help but smile at them. He really was blessed to have people like them in his life. Not just because they were good coworkers, or good friends, though they were both. No, Spencer appreciated them above and beyond that.

When he’d first met Jason Gideon, the man had quickly tried to recruit a young Spencer Reid into the FBI. The first time he’d suggested it, Spencer had laughed right in his face. A young genius with no physical abilities would have little enough chance of getting into the FBI. But one with the…uniqueness that he had? Impossible. Because Spencer wasn’t just a genius with a high IQ and multiple degrees. He was also a mutant. The only outward sign to show that he was a mutant were his multicolored eyes—his irises were a mixture of purple, blue and pink that could change or flash, depending on what was going on—and he had perfected a pair of contacts that turned his eyes a muddy shade of brown while providing a slight UV protection, seeing as how he was sensitive to sunlight. But just because he could cover it up didn’t mean that the FBI would never find out. He’d have to see their doctors at some point! He’d told this Jason Gideon that it was a nice idea, but the Bureau would never allow a mutant in their midst.

Yet Gideon was a persistent person. He hadn’t let the idea go, swearing to Spencer that he could work around this. That no one at the Bureau would ever know that he was a mutant. Somehow, Spencer found himself agreeing. It was the best decision he’d ever made. Gideon had found a way around the doctor visits by sending Spencer to a doctor at the Bureau that also had a secret to hide, a mutation of her own. She kept his mutation secret and he kept hers secret.

But one thing that Gideon had stipulated was that the team know. So when Spencer joined the BAU, he had sat in that conference room with Gideon and the rest of this team he trusted so much and Spencer had fearfully admitted his secret to them. He’d admitted to being a mutant.

Smiling, he remembered their reactions. They’d been the last thing he’d expected.

Elle had raised an eyebrow and asked him “Can you do anything cool or useful? Like, I don’t know, a built in scum bag sensor or something?”

He’d let out a surprised laugh before shaking his head. “No, no, nothing like that.” He’d finally stammered out nervously. “I, um, I can absorb, conduct, create, generate and control electricity. I’m also an empath.”

“So, you can feel what other people feel?” Derek had asked him.

Spencer had nodded in a nervous sort of way. At the time, Derek had really, really intimidated him. “I can. I can project emotions as well. It’s beneficial in telling me when a person is lying about something and when I need to calm someone down.” Something that he had used quite often in his life.

“You can control it?” Aaron had been the one to ask.

“Yes.”

“Good. Now, do you have a go-bag ready?”

That had been his start at the BAU. Since then, Spencer had never fully regretted his decision to join the team. These people were his friends, an almost extended family, and he was happy here. He made a difference with them and that was something that was important to him. He wanted to make a difference in the world. Things may have changed a little since then; things had happened not only to the team, but to himself. He’d changed. How could he not, after they’d lost Elle and gained Emily? Or after that fateful case in Georgia and the addiction that had followed. But, while it had hurt at the time, Spencer felt it made him stronger in the long run. He was a better person for having gone through what he’d gone through.

He was drawn from his thoughts when he heard JJ make a low, whistling sound. “Would you ladies look at that?” She called to the girls.

“Oh Lord.” Penelope breathed out. She started fanning herself. “Talk about drool. And look! There are three of them. One for each of us!”

Derek laughed at her and gave Penelope a fake pout. “Bailing on me so easy, baby girl?”

“Oh, hot stuff, I could never bail on you. But, look at them.”

Curiosity had Spencer turning just enough to take a quick look to where the girls were busy watching and almost drooling.  Unfortunately he was taking a drink when he did. When he saw who it was that had come in, he gasped, sucking bourbon straight down his throat in the process. His glass thumped onto the table and he bent forward, coughing as the liquid burned its way down. Penelope instantly turned toward him, patting his back and passing him a glass of water. Across from him, Derek was laughing. The others were grinning at him. “Man, pretty boy. You’re supposed to breathe air and drink liquids, not the other way around!” His friend teased him.

Spencer didn’t even care. “Can I get out?” He asked Penelope. She was between him and the safety of the floor where he might be able to make a quick exit before the three that had come in could spot him.

She gave him a funny look, but scooted out and stood up anyways, saying “Yeah, of course. You okay, sugar plum?”

He tried to nod at her, still coughing slightly. But just as he reached the edge of the seat, a loud voice boomed out “Pidge!” right before an arm wrapped around his neck and a set of knuckles was running over the top of his head. Spencer gasped for air, hands coming up to yank on the arm that was pulling him up and out of the booth. He saw his team starting to rise, each one of them ready to leap to his defense, until they heard Spencer snap out “Alex! I can’t breathe!”

The arm let go of him and Spencer straightened up to find himself face to face with the blond haired, muscular wall that was Alex Summers; a walking, talking pain in his ass. He scowled at the other man, ready to snap something. His words cut off when the other man stepped up; a skinnier, brown haired man with rose quartz sunglasses and a wide grin. “Damn, Sherlock.” The man said warmly. “You look good.” Then Spencer found himself yanked into a hug that almost pulled him off his feet. He couldn’t help but hug back, smiling even as he sighed. “Scott. What’re you guys doing here?”

They pulled apart and the last man stepped up. Shorter, stockier, with dark hair and the brightest blue eyes, Logan looked like the type of guy to pick a fight, and win, and the kind of guy that had the attention of every woman in the bar. He took his hug as well, squeezing Spencer until the young doctor had to laugh. “Scooter’s right. You look good, runt.”

“Who’re you calling runt?” Spencer replied as he always did. “I’m taller than you are!”

“Your waist is as big as my leg, runt.”

Alex flung his arm over Spencer’s shoulders, giving his neck a quick squeeze. “It’s not his fault he’s the runt of the litter.” He said. With a laugh, he dodged the elbow jab that Spencer gave.

As always, Scott stepped in, separating the two. “We came for a bit of a visit. We were close and it’s been months since we last saw you. You haven’t exactly been checking in lately and we’ve been worrying about you.”

It took everything Spencer had not to roll his eyes. “As you can see, I’m whole and healthy. How did you know to find me here, though?”

“Tracked your cell.” Alex quipped with a grin.

This time Spencer gave in and rolled his eyes. “Gee, guys. Thanks, so much.”

“Hey, Reid.” Derek’s voice came from behind Spencer, abruptly reminding him that his team was there, witnessing this whole moment. “You going to introduce us to your friends there?”

Spencer closed his eyes and prayed to God for some kind of miracle. Something, anything, that would prevent this from happening. Of course, he had no such luck. He didn’t even get a chance to think of what to say. Alex turned around and gave the whole table the patented crooked Summers grin. Spencer felt everyone startle at it and knew that their brains were already making the leap. He edged away from the table, moving toward Logan, hoping to use him as a barrier to give him a head start. Logan raised an eyebrow. “You ok, kid?”

“Block them for me.” Spencer whispered the words right as Alex said “We’re his brothers. I’m Alex and that’s Scott. And that’s Logan, but he’s just a friend. He wishes he was cool enough to be a Summers.”

He was barely around Logan when JJ said “Brothers? But…Spence is an only child!”

“Yeah. And his name isn’t Summers. It’s Reid. Spencer Reid.” Penelope chimed in.

There! He was just far enough around Logan that the man would be a perfect barrier. Feeling the shock behind him, Spencer knew it was now or never. He took off like a flash toward the door. He’d made it three quarters of the way there when Alex’s tackle caught him around the waist and sent them both flying to the ground, making people around them scatter. Without an ounce of hesitation, Spencer kicked right after they landed, using his momentary advantage to catch his foot against Alex’s shoulder and shove off from him. Then he was dodging toward the door again, trying to scramble up to his feet. Just as he started to straighten, Alex’s hand closed over his ankle, yanking him back down.

“Get back here, you little shit!” Alex snarled at him.

Spencer tried to kick with his other foot. “Let go of me!”

“Like hell I will! You get back here and explain why they don’t know you have brothers!”

Growling, Spencer kicked again, grinning when his foot connected with the top of Alex’s head. “I don’t have brothers! I have one brother and a baboon we felt sorry for!” His words cut off on a loud ‘oomph!’ when Alex gave a tug and lunged forward at the same time, putting him right on top of Spencer. He quickly tried to pin him down and was failing miserably as Spencer fought back. The young genius used every move he’d ever learned in years of wrestling with this man. He’d just delivered a solid elbow to Alex’s face, catching his eye, when two sets of hands lifted them apart. Spencer found himself lifted up in the air by his armpits, much like a child. Looking over, he saw Scott holding Alex by an arm around his throat. “That is enough!” Scott snapped at them.

The bartender stood nearby, a baseball bat in his hands. “He’s right. That’s more than enough. You boys just clear on out. I don’t want fighting in my place.”

Scott let go of Alex and Logan let go of Spencer. “The two of you, outside. Now!” Scott ordered. When it looked like they’d protest, his expression grew harder and he hissed out “So help me God, you push me right now and I’ll kick both your asses. Now, outside! Logan, go with them, please, and make sure they don’t kill one another.” One of Scott’s hands came up to rub at his temples. “I’m going to pay for the little shit’s drinks and any damages and get his team. We’ll be outside momentarily.”

When Scott got that look on his face, it was best not to argue with him. Spencer hurried toward the door, trying not to let it look like he was scurrying to obey his older brother, even if he was. Alex was only an inch or so behind him. He, too, knew better than to push Scott right now. That didn’t mean that, once out of his sight, Alex wasn’t going to cause trouble. Sure enough, he barely waited for the door to shut before ramming his shoulder against Spencer’s bicep, almost sending him flying. “Asshole.” He growled at him.

Spencer stuffed his hands in his pocket and marched straight toward the SUV he’d arrived in. “Go to hell, Alex.”

“Fuck off! What the hell is your problem, anyways? You can’t even tell the people you work with that you have brothers?”

“What’s my problem? What is my problem?” Mouth gaping, Spencer turned to stare at him. “My problem is that I just got tackled in the middle of a bar by a Neandertal who doesn’t know how to go out anywhere without getting us kicked out of at least one place!”

“I wouldn’t have tackled you if you hadn’t run like a coward!” As soon as he said it, Alex blanched. He hadn’t thought before the word slipped out. If there was one insult guaranteed to piss Spencer off, it was calling him a coward. “Pidge, man…”

Temper burned bright inside of Spencer. His eyes narrowed and his face hardened. If it hadn’t been for Logan stepping forward and neatly catching him around the waist mid-leap, Spencer would have been the one to tackle Alex this time. There was no way in hell that Spencer was going to get away from an adamantium infused arm and he knew it. Energy crackled around him as he fought to hold it in. “You fucking asshole.” He swore loudly. “You take that back. The hell if I’m a coward! I swear, when I get free, I’m going to…”

“Spencer!”

Scott’s shout echoed over the parking lot. He was striding out the door, the BAU team right behind him. The furious man stormed right up to stand between his two brothers, glaring at them both alternately. “I sent you two out here to calm down, not to fight more!”

“The hell if I care!” Spencer said furiously. Even knowing he wouldn’t get free, he still tugged on Logan’s arm, paying no attention to the group that was watching him with shock. “You let me go right now, Logan! I’m going to go over there and rearrange his face! We’ll see how much your airhead bimbos want you then, you self-absorbed little prick!”

Groaning, Scott looked over at Alex. “Tell me you didn’t.”

“I didn’t mean to, Scott. It just slipped out!” Alex defended himself quickly.

Scott’s groan was louder this time. “Endless possibilities of insults and you have to pick the one word that sets him off like a firecracker? Gee, thanks, Alex. Get in the damn car. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your mouth shut through the entire car ride. Move it!”

“What do you want me to do with the furious wonder?” Logan asked him, still holding Spencer with just one arm.

Only when Alex was safely in the car did Scott say “Let him go, Logan.”

As soon as he was free, Spencer started toward the car, temper snapping in his eyes. He stopped when Scott threatened “You start another fight with him and I’m going to have Logan sit on you for the whole ride to your place, brat. Shut your temper down and get in the fucking car.”

A speculative look crossed Spencer’s face. He read the moods around him, gauging how serious Scott might be. When he felt his brother’s emotions, he flinched. Shit. Scott was pissed. Abruptly Spencer’s temper left him. He bit his lip, stuffing his hands down into his pockets and kind of drawing in on himself. Without another word, he made his way to the car, quietly climbing in. He scrambled to think of a way to fix this. Something to make this better.

Outside the car, Scott rubbed at his temples once more. He’d seen the fear that had flashed over Spencer’s face and knew the other man had felt his emotions. He didn’t want to get into the car until he was sure he had himself under control once more. To give himself a moment to get control, he looked at the BAU team. “I am extremely sorry you had to be subjected to that. If you want, please, follow us to Spencer’s apartment. We’ll explain everything there. Why he hasn’t, I don’t know. But we’ll find out.” When they gave him hesitant looks, Scott offered them a reassuring smile. “Trust me, he’ll want you there. Give him a chance to explain. I’m sure, in his mind, he has good reasons for this.”

There was a short pause before Aaron nodded at him. “We’ll follow.” He said firmly. Whether it was to find out what was going on, or to protect Spencer from any more fights like they’d just witnessed, Scott wasn’t sure. He figured it was probably a little bit of both. If only they knew he thought to himself. With a sigh, he gestured to Logan. “Let’s go. You’re in charge of making sure they stay quiet. If I hear one word out of either of them the whole ride home, I’m blasting them both.”

CXCX

The car ride was basically silent. Spencer stayed as far over on his seat as he possibly could, pressed up against the door. His knees were curled up to his chest, feet on the seat, and his arms folded over top his knees. It allowed him to rest his cheek on his arm and stare out the window. What was he going to do now? How was he going to explain this to everyone? People were going to be hurt by it all. Hell, people were already hurt. He’d felt the hurt coming off Alex like a thick cloud and he’d felt the traces of it underneath Scott’s temper. The last thing he’d wanted to do was hurt them. Would they understand why he’d done this? He sighed and closed his eyes. Probably not.

When the car was parked outside his building, Spencer didn’t hesitate to unbuckle and step out. He saw the SUV’s pulling in as well and nodded to himself. It would figure that Scott would be smart enough to think to invite them. That would make this easier. He could get it all taken care of at once. The idea of explaining this multiple times and coping with people’s reactions multiple times just wasn’t appealing.

Voice and expression flat, Spencer looked at Logan and told him “Lead them up when they’re parked, please. I’m going to go unlock the door.”

He didn’t wait for Logan to answer, just set off toward the apartment building, trying not to limp. Damn, Alex had definitely left bruises. Spencer could feel them aching on his stomach and arms and his knee throbbed from where it had connected with the ground. He heard his brothers fall into step behind him. They said nothing to one another the entire way up to the apartment or even as they went inside. The first place Spencer went once in his apartment was to the kitchen. This was not something he wanted to do without a drink in hand.

Habit had him setting out extra wine glasses on the counter and tumblers for the others that wouldn’t drink wine. He pulled out the bottle of scotch that he saved for when the boys visited and set it down on the counter by the tumblers he’d set out. While he set about pouring the wine, Scott stepped up and poured the scotch. Together, the three carried the glasses and bottles to the table, setting them out right as Logan came in the door with the BAU team behind him.

It was the most crowded that Spencer’s apartment had ever been. His table seated four on a good day, which was nowhere near enough room for everyone. So they ended up in his living room. Jason and Aaron brought chairs in from the kitchen and sat in those while Derek, JJ and Penelope took the chaise lounge and used it like a couch—after moving the books off of it and onto the floor. Emily sat in his overstuffed recliner. Logan grabbed a chair from the table, bringing it in and spinning it around so that he was straddling it, arms resting on the back and cradling his glass. That left Scott, Alex and Spencer on the couch. Any other time, Spencer would have been amused by how Scott made sure to sit between the two of them so that he could act as a buffer. Now, all he could do was stare down into the wineglass he was cradling with both hands.

After a long moment of silence, Scott sighed softly. “Since Spencer apparently lost his voice somewhere between the bar and here, I’ll start this. I’m Scott Summers, the oldest. This is Alex Summers, the middle. And Spencer here is the baby of the family. We’re full blood brothers. When Spencer was just born, he was…adopted by the Reid family, who are Mom’s cousins. That’s why he’s a Reid, not a Summers like us.”

“Adopted?” Penelope said softly.

Spencer couldn’t help his flinch. “Yeah.” His voice was slightly hoarse before he cleared his throat and forced his words to be steady. “Yes, I’m adopted.” He knew they were wondering the same thing that everyone wondered—why had he been adopted out while his Dad had kept the other two children—but that wasn’t something he wanted to talk about with them. Ever. It was a tender topic for him, no matter how many years went by, and not one he talked about easily. But it was also the reason he hadn’t told his team about his family.

A hand on his knee drew him out of his thoughts. He looked down and saw Scott’s hand resting there, a silent support.

It didn’t surprise Spencer that Gideon was the one to ask the question. He’d known his mentor would be the one to speak up. “Why don’t you tell us why you never mentioned your brothers, Spencer?” He suggested calmly. “You were open from the first day I met you about your mutation. The team knows about it and you’ve never held back in that area. Why keep quiet that you were adopted or that you have a relationship with your blood brothers?”

The way that Gideon asked the questions was typical for him. It wasn’t just a question that needed an answer. It was an opening to try and draw information from him. The psychologist in him was coming to the forefront and taking over the meeting. Spencer had expected that. However, it didn’t make it any easier to answer him. It didn’t make it easier to spill his guts. He tried to cover up his discomfort with a poor stab at humor and a pot shot to get back at Alex for the ‘coward’ comment. “Why on earth would I want to claim that giant baboon over there?” He cut off when Scott’s hand connected with the back of his head.

The eldest Summers brother shook his head. “And why not claim me, brat?”

Dropping his head lower, Spencer mumbled his answer. When no one said anything, he sighed and spoke just slightly louder. “I don’t have the right.”

“The right?”

That soft spoken question said so much more than just those two words. Scott was a master at that. To stall, Spencer took a bracing drink of his wine. He swirled the liquid around and stared down into his glass. “No matter how hard you two try to make me part of the family, I’m not. I’m the reason our family isn’t whole.” Setting his glass down on the coffee table, Spencer rose, making his way past a stunned group of people. “Excuse me.”

It wasn’t long after he’d sat down on his bed in his room that he heard footsteps coming down the hall. He wasn’t surprised; he’d been expecting it. A moment later, the footsteps reached his room. He kept his back toward the door and his legs curled up, his arms wrapped around his legs and his forehead pressed against his knees. Staying there, he listened to the door shut softly. Then soft footsteps before the bed dipped beside him.

In his usual, no-nonsense way, the other man dove right in. “Pop was wrong, Spence.” Scott’s voice was soft and yet it held a hint of firmness to it. “He was wrong to give you up and he’s wrong to blame you. It wasn’t your fault.”

Spencer gave a watery sort of snort. “How is he wrong?” he asked sarcastically. “Mom died giving birth to me, Scott. I killed her. And the Colonel made sure I never forgot that a day in my life.”

“You were a baby. You had absolutely no control over what happened. If anyone was at fault, it was the doctors. What were you supposed to have done, Spencer? You may be a genius, but even a genius newborn is helpless.” When that failed to elicit a smile or a chuckle, Scott made a soft sound before wrapping his arm around Spencer and scooting up against his side. “Listen to me, kiddo. Mom’s death wasn’t your fault. Pop’s reaction to it wasn’t your fault either. He never should have given you up and he definitely shouldn’t have given you to William fucking Reid. You’re just as much a Summers as the rest of us. You have every right in the world to claim us and I proudly claim you to other people. More proudly than I claim Alex, that’s for sure.”

This time Spencer couldn’t help chuckling. “Anything is better than claiming Alex.”

“I heard that!”

The voice echoing down the hall had both Scott and Spencer laughing. The tension of the moment was broken. Scott hugged him a little tighter for a second. “You’re pretty much stuck with us, Sherlock.” The older man teased. “Now, you ready to get back out there and let us embarrass you a little more before your friends go home?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not in the least.” Laughing, Scott hooked his arm around Spencer’s neck and hauled him off the bed. “Let’s go. This is going to be so much fun.”

Spencer mock scowled his whole way back out toward the living room. Because he knew his brother, he was braced when Scott let go of him. Sure enough, Alex leapt over to him, catching him in a tackle around his waist. Scott didn’t even flinch at their fighting this time. He took his seat on the couch once more, toeing off his shoes and curling his legs up before picking up his glass of scotch. “So, anyways, tell me what it’s like working with Spence. Does he still mumble to himself about things that make no sense to the rest of the world when he’s fixated on a puzzle?”

Laughter bubbled up from Penelope. “Constantly.” She said.

Over in the hallway, Spencer and Alex were rolling around, each trying to pin the other down. “Anything is better than claiming me, huh?” Alex said. He tried to roll them so that he could sit on Spencer’s back. “I’ll show you! Who’s the better brother, huh? Who’s the better brother?”

“Get off me, you overgrown swine!” Spencer grunted. He gave another grunt and a twist and then he was on Alex’s back, one arm wrapped around his neck and trying to shove his face down into the carpet. “What makes you think you’re the better brother? You tackled me in the middle of a bar! You do realize I can never go in there again?”

“You’re such a gasbag!” Alex shouted at him.

There were more thuds that drew the eyes of the entire team now. Only Scott and Logan continued to drink, paying no attention to them. The two crashed into the dining room table, shaking the bottles that were on top. “Gasbag is not a real insult!” Spencer was snarling. “When are you ever going to take an English class?”

“Ass hat! Fuck stick! Pencil dick! Pillow biter! Poof! Augh! OW!” A loud thump and then there was a crashing sound.

Emily looked over at Scott, her face shocked. “Aren’t you going to stop them?”

“Why?” he asked, one eyebrow raised. “We’re not in public.”

Chuckling, Logan drained his glass. “Those two can’t ever be in the same room for five minutes without some kind of fight.” He explained to everyone. “There’s something about the two of them when they’re put together that just sends off sparks.”

“Not to mention that Alex is provoking him. He knows Sherlock can’t stand it when he uses words that are made up or that don’t make sense.”  There was a slight crackle in the air that had Scott looking up. “No powers!” he called out. The crackle vanished but the thumps and insults continued. Scott just shook his head and looked back at the team. “Anyways. The two of them may fight, but it’s how they communicate, I think. The day they stop fighting is the day I’ll worry about them.” He smiled as memories swarmed him. “I remember once, when Spence was, oh man…I think he was five.  So Alex would’ve been seven. We got together for a visit and the boys were building a Lego tower in Spencer’s room.”

“Which was lame.” Alex said as he came into the room and plopped down on the couch. Spencer was right behind him, rolling his eyes as he took his own seat once more. “It was not. It was awesome. And do you know what he did to it?” Spencer looked at his friends, picking up his wine glass. “He got so jealous that mine was better than his that he ‘accidentally’ fell over on top of it and squashed it.”

That had the group laughing. Scott reclined back on the couch, his drink in one hand while he rested his other arm over the back of the couch, behind Spencer. “I was thirteen going on fourteen, so I was too cool to be in building with Legos. I was still downstairs talking with Diana and William when suddenly we all heard loud crashes and screaming and crying. The three of us practically flew up the stairs. And can you figure out what we found up there?”

A blush was heating Spencer’s cheeks and he busied himself burying his face in his wineglass while Scott finished the story.

“They were rolling around in this giant mess of Legos, arms and legs flailing, beating the living shit out of one another. It ended in a trip to the hospital. And what was the injury list, Spence?”

Flushing, Spencer dutifully recited “I had six stitches, bumps and bruises and a sprained wrist. Alex had eight stitches total and a broken pinky finger as well as various bumps and bruises and they had to extract a Lego from his nose.”

“You shoved a Lego up his nose?” JJ asked with surprise.

“He did!” Alex said right as Spencer said “I did not!” There was a hint of a smile on his lips, though. “I just…rubbed his face in the carpet.”

Derek let out a loud laugh. “Oh, man, that’s great.”

From her seat, Emily spoke up again. “So, even though you guys were in separate houses, you all still got to see one another?”

“Yeah.” Spencer told her. A corner of his mouth quirked. “For the first few years, Scott and Alex came to me to visit. But Mother set up something with the Colonel after that, somehow, and I spent parts of my summer vacations with them.”

“The Colonel?” Aaron spoke for the first time since coming into the apartment. He was reclined in his seat, looking comfortable and casual.

“Pop.” Alex supplied. “Pop had Spence call him Major back then, but he’s a Colonel now. He’s in the USAF.”

The pity that swelled up at that had Spencer wincing slightly. He tried to gloss over it with some humor. “I would’ve called him Starlight if he’d asked me to.” Spencer said with a roll of his eyes. “So long as I got to come spend time with them. And once Scotty went away to school, it timed perfectly for us both to visit on our summer breaks.”

Penelope leaned forward on her seat to give them her bubbly grin. “So, how far apart are you guys?”

“I’m the oldest. Alex is six years younger than me, and Spence is two years younger than Alex.” Scott supplied. He reached out and ruffled Spencer’s hair. “So he’s our baby of the family.”

“The runt.” Logan said with a wink.

Spencer wrinkled his nose at the man before giving him what Penelope always called his ‘kitten glare’. “Shut up, Logan.”

“Bite me, runt.”

Before it could progress to a full-fledged battle of words, Scott cleared his throat. “Who wants to hear about what happened at Spencer’s party for his first degree?”

While everyone called out and his eldest brother grinned before launching into a story guaranteed to embarrass Spencer to no end, the young genius reclined back in his seat. He felt Scott’s arm settle around his shoulders and didn’t think about leaning against him. He watched his friends and his brothers interact with one another and he couldn’t help but think that maybe, maybe, he was finally starting to get his life in order. Maybe things were finally starting to settle down a little for him and become the way they were supposed to be.

What more could a guy ask for? Good friends, good family, a nice glass of wine, and lots of good feelings floating around the room. It was nice enough that Spencer didn’t even mind that the laughter was at his expense. He just basked in the pleasant emotions and let himself smile.