Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: R (FRM)
Word Count: ~ 9,150
Word Count: Angst, fluff, melancholia (and angst and fluff).
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their copyright holders. No profit is intended.
Summary: Aaron and Spencer kiss throughout the years.
Author’s Note: Part of my Five Dinners universe, although this fic can stand alone. (All “Five Dinners” stories can be found here). General SPOILERS through Season 5.
My first “five times plus one” story, although I miscalculated somehow and added a scenario for Jack, so technically it’s a “six times plus one” story (yeah, I must have been tired when I outlined the fic and counting to five was somehow beyond me).
JJ wasn’t sure what had woken her from where she lay curled up on the couch on the jet. She blinked blearily and then heard a faint rustle. She saw that Reid was moving to sit across from Hotch near the back of the plane.
“Hi,” Reid said quietly.
JJ couldn’t see Hotch’s face, but she could see his clenched fist on the table in front of him.
“What do you want, Reid?” Hotch said, his voice tight.
JJ suppressed a sigh. It had been a rough case. It was always rough when it involved children, and this had been particularly hard. The UnSub had been abducting kids from day care centers, specifically targeting children of single parents. He then killed them. He said, when the BAU team finally caught him, that he was ‘saving them’ from the horror and disappointment of growing up alone with parents who was too busy to care for them.
Hotch had been on edge since that custodial interview.
“Do you want to talk about it,” Reid murmured to Hotch. “The rest of the team is asleep.”
JJ quickly closed her eyes and kept her breathing steady.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Hotch said quickly.
“What? You think you have some incredible insight into me now that we’re fucking?”
JJ’s eyes flew open in surprise. She expected to see Spencer react – to at least look angry or upset. Instead she saw a determined look on his face.
“I’m not going to argue with you, Aaron,” Reid said, his tone steady. “I know you’re lashing out at me because you’re upset, but I’m not going to argue. I’m willing to listen, however.”
JJ could see Hotch’s fist clench even tighter. (She didn’t think that was actually physically possibly). Then he released it with a heavy sigh.
“God, Spence, I’m sorry,” Hotch said.
“I’m such an ass sometimes.”
“Thanks,” Hotch said sarcastically.
“Talk to me, Aaron.”
“What if he was right?”
“That the kids were better off dead?”
“No.” Hotch sighed. “That they were doomed to a life of disappointment, isolation, loneliness…” his voice trailed off.
“Aaron,” Reid said firmly, “both Morgan and I come from single parent homes. While we both have our issues and those times could have been better, we’re doing okay. And Jack has it better than either of us. He has a loving father and a dedicated aunt who both care for him deeply, as well as other people who are there to support him.”
“I should still be there more for him. At least before he was with his mother. But now…”
“So what are you going to do about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“You seem to think there’s a conflict between your two top priorities, Jack and your job. Essentially, you feel that you don’t have enough time to give your all to both. In some ways that’s true, but that’s also because you feel that you need to be perfect and give everything you have to both of them.”
JJ knew that was true – Hotch always tried to be the perfect agent, the perfect parent, the perfect husband. And such perfection was impossible to obtain. She had tried to emulate that to a certain extent with Henry and Will, but Will had told her that they would love her any way they could get her, imperfections and all. She knew she was blessed with such support, and her heart ached a little that Hotch, of all people – good, strong, brave, solid, dependable, willing-to-do-anything-for-you Hotch – had not gotten that backing from his marriage. But it appeared that he was now getting that support from Reid. She felt warmed by that fact.
“I think you could reach some compromises,” Reid was saying. “I know that Morgan has offered to step up and do more; I’m sure the rest of the team would be willing to help out too. When we’re in town, you could work a flexible schedule and do more of your job from home. You could be there when Jack gets home from school and then do work in the evenings when he goes to bed. That way when you’re out of town, you’ll know that you spent as much time as possible with him when you were home.”
“I don’t know if the Bureau will go for it,” Hotch pointed out.
“Find out. I’m sure something could be worked out.”
JJ knew how to push the paperwork in the vast bureaucracy that was the FBI. She silently vowed that she would make it work. Besides, she could always convince Garcia to hack their personnel files and set up something.
“When do I get to spend time with you?” Hotch asked Reid.
“Aaron, I’ll be home in the evenings. You’ll see me. And Jack needs you right now.”
“God, Spence, you really should be with someone better who can offer you something more than evenings stretched out on the couch in exhaustion.”
JJ saw Reid grasp Hotch’s hand.
“You think there’s someone better than you?” Reid said, his voice low. “I don’t. What do you think I’m missing, Aaron? Going out to bars or clubs? You know me, you know that’s not what I want. Spending a night stretched out of the sofa with you, reading or watching TV, is better than anything else I can think of.”
JJ smiled to herself. She saw Hotch rubbing his thumb along Reid’s hand. “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you,” Hotch said.
Reid snorted. “I’m hardly a catch. But, seriously, find out about a flexible schedule, Aaron. Take care of your son.”
They sat in silence for a few moments. JJ was beginning to drift back off to sleep, feeling, if not content, then relieved.
“I really am sorry about before,” Hotch said suddenly. “Lashing out at you, I mean.”
“I know. If you look at it right, you can take it as a sign that you trust me enough to feel comfortable about lashing out.”
“That’s taking an optimistic view of me being an ass.”
Reid just smiled.
“You’re not my third priority,” Hotch said after a moment’s silence.
“What?” Reid asked.
“You said before that my top priorities were Jack and my job. You’re right about Jack – he has to be my top priority right now, even if I feel I’m doing a shitty job as a parent. But you, and my relationship with you, are equally important.”
“No. The biggest mistake, my biggest regret with Haley was that I let the job have priority over my marriage. I won’t make that mistake twice. Look, you know that I’m, in fact we’re both, dedicated to the BAU. That won’t change. It’s a large part of who we are. But it’s not all of who we are. You are vitally important to me, and I will try very hard to not lose sight of that.”
JJ could see that Reid was speechless. He looked suspiciously like he was trying to blink back tears. She then saw Hotch lean forward in his seat and kiss Reid, gently, firmly, seriously. The kiss lasted for several moments. She blinked back her own tears.
When they broke apart, Reid leaned back and closed his eyes, a faint smile on his lips. JJ did the same and let sleep claim her once more.
It was a beautiful spring day. The cherry trees were blooming in Washington DC. It was the weekend. The team wasn’t on call. And Penelope Garcia had convinced Kevin that a picnic in the park was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
They headed to East Potomac Park and had walked and laughed and ate. They were now “hiding” behind some bushes and making out like a couple of teenagers. Penelope giggled at the thought, but then kissed Kevin some more.
Their make out session was interrupted by a voice that managed to be just on the right side of whining. “Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight,” the voice was saying. “An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells. A human brain has 10,000 million, so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human. And while the common Black Ants and Wood Ants have no sting, they can squirt a spray of formic acid.”
A deeper voice asked, “Your point is?”
“Why would you want to picnic on the ground and expose yourself to the collective human intelligence of an entity that wants to carry you away and squirt you with acid?”
A child’s laugh rang out.
“Spencer, have you really never picnicked in the park before?” the deeper voice asked with a tone of exasperation.
Penelope stifled a gasp as she looked over and she realized that the voices belonged to very own fearless leader, Aaron Hotchner, their esteemed genius, Spencer Reid, and Hotch’s adorable son, Jack. Kevin came to the same realization almost at the same time, and silenced her with a quiet kiss. “Think of the blackmail ammunition you can get by listening.”
“Kevin,” Penelope hissed and then smirked at him. She had no intention of missing out on watching this elusive pair outside of their normal work interactions with the team.
“When would I have picnicked, Aaron?” Reid asked as he watched Hotch lay down a blanket. “Vegas is a desert. Not much grass for picnics. And not very many family outings in my family.”
Jack was ‘helping’ his father, which resulted in him picking up the corners of the blanket that Hotch had already straightened, folding them over, and giggling.
Hotch sighed, both at his son and at his lover. “Come on, guys, a little help here.”
Jack just giggled some more. Reid finally moved and smoothed out one corner of the blanket.
“You could have gone on a picnic on the grounds of the Huntington Library in Pasadena while you were at Cal Tech,” Hotch pointed out.
“College wasn’t really a time for picnics,” Reid said with a slight pout. “I was busy earning three Ph.D.s, you know.”
Penelope and Kevin stifled their giggles. They kissed quickly, then turned their attention back to their colleagues.
“Well, it’s about time you relaxed and enjoyed some fine outdoor dining,” Hotch said as he sat down on the blanket. Jack sat next to him and began trying to open the picnic basket. Reid just stood there with a frown on his face.
“Ants,” Reid said.
“Ants won’t hurt you, Spencer,” Hotch said patiently.
“They can,” Reid argued. “Army ants are nomadic and notorious for raids, in which huge numbers of ants forage simultaneously over a certain area, attacking prey en masse. Armies of as many as 1.5 million will destroy almost all animal life they encounter and attack everything in their path, including humans.”
“There are no army ants in DC.”
“What if a colony escaped from the National Zoo and is heading here right now and—”
“I like ants,” Jack said suddenly. “We have an ant farm in my classroom and we can watch them eat and make their nests and stuff.” Jack looked up at Reid and frowned. “Aren’t you going to eat, Spencer? I made you a chicken sandwich.” Jack held it up.
“I—” Reid began.
“And a brownie,” Jack added, holding that up too.
“A sandwich and a brownie, Spence. How can you say no?” Hotch said.
Penelope and Kevin held in their laughter from their spot behind the bushes, but only barely.
Spencer stood there for a moment, and then sat down gingerly, grumbling something about “obstinate Hotchner men.” Jack handed him a sandwich. “Thank you,” Reid said with a sigh.
Hotch laid out the food.
“There are ants,” Reid said mournfully.
“It’s a picnic,” Hotch said. “There are always ants.”
“If I get ants in my pants, I’m blaming you.”
Jack broke out into peals of laughter. “Spencer’s silly,” he told his father.
“Yes he is,” Hotch agreed. “But let’s keep him anyway.”
Jack stood up, ran over, and threw his arms around Reid. “We’re going to keep you,” Jack said as he hugged him.
There was a moment of hesitation and then Reid hugged Jack back tightly. “Thank you. I’d like that very much.”
Through the bushes, Penelope could see that Hotch had a smile on his face and a look of utter contentment that she had never seen before. She couldn’t help a huge smile from forming on her face too.
“Yep, we’re definitely keeping you,” Hotch said and then leaned over to son and his lover. He kissed Reid firmly, holding the back of his neck. Penelope could see that Reid grasped Hotch’s shirt and pulled him in closer.
“Ewww… mushy stuff,” Jack said.
Hotch and Reid broke apart and Hotch tousled Jack’s hair. “Hey,” Jack cried. Hotch and Reid laughed a little and Hotch kissed the top of Jack’s head.
“So who’s hungry?” Hotch asked as he sat back.
“Me,” Jack exclaimed. “I want a brownie.”
“Sandwich first Jack. Then brownie.”
Jack pouted a little, but then started to eat his sandwich.
Reid started to eat too. “There are still ants,” he said after a moment.
Hotch started to laugh.
With that, Penelope pulled Kevin away from their hiding place in the bushes and down the hill; she hoped they remained out of sight. “Let’s head home,” she whispered.
Kevin hugged her and followed as she led them away from the picnicking family.
All Emily knew was that one moment she was following Hotch as they moved into the warehouse where they believed UnSub was hiding, and the next moment she heard Reid shout, “Look out,” as he leapt through the air and pushed her to the ground several feet from where she had been standing. Then the ceiling collapsed and Reid was under the debris and there was a metal spike impaled in his abdomen. Emily noted, almost in passing, that the spike was located where she had been standing mere seconds before.
“Reid,” she said urgently as she knelt beside him. There was no response.
She looked up to see Hotch running back to them, his eyes wide with a horror she never wanted to see again. He swallowed and then spoke into his microphone on his wrist. “Rossi, Morgan. Be careful, the place is booby trapped.” His voice got more urgent. “I need an ambulance immediately. I have an agent down.”
“Who is it?” both Rossi and Morgan asked simultaneously.
“Reid,” Emily said as Hotch knelt down.
“Come on, Spence,” Hotch whispered. Blood began to pour from the spike. Hotch applied pressure with his hands. “Stay with me.”
Emily checked his pulse. Reid’s heart was still beating, but his breath was shallow.
“I think we’ve got the UnSub trapped in a container in the back of the warehouse,” Morgan reported. “He’s armed, though.”
One of the local cops rushed in. “Careful,” both Emily and Hotch warned.
“There are booby traps,” Emily explained as Hotch continued to apply pressure to Reid’s wound.
“How long until the ambulance gets here?” he asked.
“A few minutes,” the cop replied. Emily remembered that his name was Bob… Bob something. He pointed to her leg. “You’re wounded.”
She looked down to see a giant gash bleeding down her thigh and calf.
“I’m okay,” she said, her attention focused on Reid. Hotch gave her a quick glance to assess her injury, but didn’t let up on his task.
The paramedics rushed in and quickly relieved Hotch. They got Reid on the stretcher, applied compresses around the spike, and got him on oxygen.
“Go with them,” Hotch told Emily. “I have to stay here to try and capture the UnSub.”
“I’ll stay too.”
He shook his head. “Emily, you’re wounded. Don’t tell me you’re fine; you don’t know. Get checked out.” He then gave her an intense look and his voice lowered. “I need you to stay with him. For me.”
She couldn’t help her frown, but she nodded.
“And remember,” Hotch said, “no narcotics.”
Emily hurried after the paramedics, ignoring the sharp pain in her leg. “I’m coming too,” she told them.
“We don’t take passengers,” one of them told her.
“I’m not a passenger. I’m FBI.” She then realized that they probably knew that from the letters emblazoned on her Kevlar vest. “Besides, I’m injured.” She pointed to her leg.
“Get in,” the other one said. “We don’t have time to argue.”
She jumped into the ambulance. The ‘unfriendly’ paramedic was pushing drugs. “No narcotics,” she said.
He gave her a sharp look. “Sweetie, that’s the least of my problems right now. I’m just trying to stabilize him. His pressure is collapsing.”
She sat there, trembling with shock as Reid fought for his life. She couldn’t seem to pull her gaze away from the spike protruding from Reid and the blood seeped around it.
Upon arrival to the hospital, Reid was rushed immediately into the operating room. Emily wandered around the ER until someone grabbed her and placed her in an examining room. Soon she was providing the hospital staff with information for both Reid and herself. Emily’s wounds were dressed and she made her way to the waiting area outside of the operating room. A television was playing in the background and she saw a press conference by JJ reporting that the UnSub had been captured. JJ indicated that two of the FBI agents had been taken to the hospital but deflected any questions about the severity of their injuries.
Almost immediately after the press conference ended Emily’s phone rang. “Prentiss,” she answered.
“It’s Hotch. What’s happening?”
“He’s still in surgery.”
She could hear him take a sharp breath. “How are you?” he asked.
“Okay. It was mostly surface scratches and abrasions from where I hit the ground. Some wounds from debris from the ceiling. But I’m fine.”
“I’m glad. I’ll be there when I can.” Hotch hung up.
Emily paced the waiting room, ignoring the throbbing in her wounded leg. She hated hospitals, hated waiting rooms, and hated not knowing what was happening. The local newscast discussed the UnSub’s capture, replaying what JJ had said. There was no new information.
Emily thought she was going to go out of her mind.
Finally, a doctor showed up, holding a clipboard. “Spencer Reid,” he said.
“I’m here for Dr. Reid,” Emily announced. The doctor looked her over and she realized that she was still wearing her Kevlar vest. He glanced down and saw her wounded leg. She cleared her throat and he met her eyes. “How is he?” Emily demanded.
He smiled slightly. “Dr. Reid is a very lucky man. The object managed to miss his vital organs. There was, however, quite a bit of internal bleeding, which we think we have under control. He’s still is critical condition, but stable. He’ll be in the ICU, where we’ll monitor him carefully.”
“Cautiously, he should be fine. I expect him to make a full recovery.”
Emily let out a breath she hadn’t been aware that she was holding. “Good. That’s… good. When can we see him?”
“Usually we only allow family members to visit with the patients in the ICU.”
“Doctor, his FBI teammates are his family. I strongly suggest that you let us see him. You have no idea how crotchety FBI agents can get when one of their own is wounded in the apprehension of a serial killer. We’re armed, dangerous, and short-tempered. I can also warn you that when my supervisor gets here, he will not take ‘no’ for an answer. Really, you don’t want to stand in his way.”
The doctor stared at Emily for a moment and then his smile widened a bit. “I’ll make a notation that Dr. Reid’s FBI team is allowed to visit him, although I would suggest that you limit the number of people with him to one or two at a time.”
Emily found her way to Reid’s room. He was still unconscious, the beeping of his heart monitor providing the only sound in the room. He looked pale, far more pale than usual. His hair was lank and hung limply. She gently brushed it out of his face.
“Has he woken up yet?” Hotch asked quietly, coming into the room.
Emily shook her head. Hotch tapped her shoulder. She forced herself to meet his eyes.
“I brought you your go-bag,” Hotch said, “so you can freshen up.”
She swallowed with difficulty, her throat tight. “Thanks,” she whispered. She looked back at Reid. “He saved my life.”
“I’m sorry,” Emily said.
“Whatever for?” Hotch asked, genuinely surprised.
“I should have been more careful. He shouldn’t be lying here. It should have been me.”
Hotch grasped her shoulder and forced her to meet his gaze. “Emily, the only person responsible for this is the damn UnSub who booby trapped the place. Not you. I don’t blame you for what happened.”
Emily looked away. “And if something happens to Reid?”
“Spencer makes his own decisions,” Hotch said quietly. “Including being totally reckless and jumping into dangerous situations to save people. We can’t protect him from that. Hell, we have no right to.”
She gave a sad smile. “Even if we want to.”
“I want to protect you all. But Spence, yeah, I especially want to protect him now. But I have too much respect for him to not let him do his job. Besides, we’d all do the same as he did, and you know it.”
A soft moan came from the bed. They turned their attention to the wounded man lying in it.
“Spencer?” Hotch said quietly.
Reid whimpered and his eyes fluttered open. “Aaron?”
Hotch smoothed his hair. “Shh… you’re in the hospital. You were injured by a booby trap and stabbed with a spike. But everything is going to be fine.”
Reid blinked and then his eyes widened. “Emily. Oh my god, Emily. Is she all right? Where is…” he struggled to rise.
“She’s fine,” Hotch said firmly, keeping Reid in place.
“I’m right here, Reid,” Emily said, placing her hand upon his.
He blinked at her blearily. “You’re okay?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
He relaxed back into the bed. “Good.” He turned his hand over and grasped hers. “That’s… good. Is everyone else okay? Did you catch the UnSub?”
“Hush, Reid,” Hotch said. “Everyone’s fine. We got him. Stop worrying now. Just rest.”
“Okay.” Reid lay back, but then opened his eyes again. “Shouldn’t you be at the police station, interrogating him?” he asked Hotch.
“I’m exactly where I need to be right now,” Hotch said.
Reid smiled faintly. “Okay.” He squeezed Hotch’s hand with his free hand. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Hotch leaned down and kissed Reid, very gently. “I’m glad you’re here too,” he whispered.
Reid made a small, contented hum and closed his eyes. Hotch smoothed his hair again.
Emily hugged herself tightly and smiled.
The last of the old BAU team filed out of David Rossi’s home, leaving him and Hotch standing in the foyer.
“A drink?” Rossi said.
Rossi handed Hotch a scotch as the two men stood in his den. “To retirement,” Rossi toasted. “To writing more books, making more money, indulging my whims, and meeting my future ex-wives.”
“Dave Rossi, retiring. Again.” Hotch shook his head. “You think you’ll be able to make it stick this time?”
“I’ll try. I didn’t think I’d stay around for so long after I came back. I figured I’d stay a year or two, resolve my unfinished business, and go back to writing books. Somehow 10 years got by me. I blame you, my friend.”
“Me?” Hotch protested.
“You. I couldn’t leave you alone to face the wiles of Erin Strauss, now could I? Besides, you needed help raising the ‘kids’ on the team.”
Hotch leaned back and took a sip of scotch. “Well, I think we did a good job. They’re all grown up now.”
Hotch smiled briefly. “Sort of,” he agreed.
“So Morgan’s taking that position in the Chicago office?” Rossi asked.
“Yes. It’s too good an opportunity for him to pass up. He really should be in a leadership role. He’ll be closer to his mom, which I think she really wanted.”
“You’ll have fresh blood to train?”
“New trainees.” Hotch sighed heavily. “I don’t know if I’m up to ‘raising’ new kids. Maybe it’s time for me to retire too.”
“Aaron Hotchner, retiree,” Rossi scoffed. “I just can’t see it.”
“You never know. I could lounge around, play golf, drink those little drinks with umbrellas…”
“Never gonna happen…”
They each took a sip of their drinks.
“Speaking of the ‘kids’,” Rossi said, “where’s your wayward lover? I assume he’s still around since you’re drinking and he didn’t run off with the rest of the gang.”
“He’s probably outside, admiring your view. Figured he’d give us a chance to talk.”
“So what’s wrong?”
“Why do you think something’s wrong?”
“I’m a profiler,” Rossi said patiently. “And I know you.”
Hotch sighed. “It’s nothing, really. With you leaving and Morgan transferring, the only ones left of the old team will be Reid and me. Yes, we’ll get new recruits and yes, they’ll be good. But that sense of camaraderie, that sense of family won’t be there.”
“What else? You’ve trained people before. There’s something more.”
“Spencer and I will have to hide ourselves, our relationship again. With you guys, you all knew, probably before we did. But now…” Hotch looked away. “New people, new opportunities. You know, I am 15 years older than Reid. He really should be with someone… younger.”
When Hotch looked back, Rossi’s look was incredulous. “Have you lost your mind?” he exclaimed. “Reid loves you. Seriously loves you. And you two are so goddamn good together it hurts. I’m jealous of you, you know. What the hell? Do you have the seven-year-itch or something?”
“What? No. Just… sometimes I think I’m holding him back.”
“Have you told him this?”
“And how does he react?” Rossi asked.
Hotch shrugged. “Much like you just did, actually.”
Rossi stared at him for a moment. “You’re a goddamn lunatic, Aaron Hotchner.”
“Spencer would probably agree with you.”
Rossi downed his drink. “Don’t fuck up. And I’m not going to be there for watch over you all the time now. But don’t think I won’t get Reid to give me reports. If I have to call you and lecture you, I will. I’ll have plenty of time to bug you now that I’m retired.”
Hotch finished his drink more slowly. “With both of you and Reid working on me, I wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“Damn straight. Let’s go find Reid. I’ll ask him why he puts up with your lunatic ass.”
They found Reid sitting on Rossi’s porch, observing the sunset. Hotch sat next to him and the three men looked off at the horizon.
“A good ending to a good day,” Rossi said.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Hotch murmured.
“Did you know,” Reid chimed in, “that due to refraction of light in the atmosphere, the ray path of the setting sun is highly distorted near the horizon making the apparent astronomical sunset occur when the sun’s disk is already about one diameter below the horizon? And in the Northern Hemisphere, the latest sunset does not fall on the summer solstice around June 21, but occurs in early July. The precise date of the latest sunset depends on the viewer's latitude and is connected with the slower Earth's movement around the aphelion, occurring around July 4.”
Rossi groaned. “Reid.” He then noticed that both Reid and Hotch were suppressing grins. Rossi frowned. “You’ve been yanking my chain for years, haven’t you Spencer? Spewing forth facts and statistics just to see how I’ll react.”
Reid grinned openly. “Took you long enough to figure out. Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”
Rossi just growled, but was secretly pleased to see the smile on Hotch’s face.
“And yes,” Reid said to Hotch, “to answer your question, it is beautiful.” Reid took Hotch’s hand, entwining their fingers together.
Rossi was pleased to see that Hotch let him and, in fact, squeezed Reid’s hand tighter.
They watched the sunset in companionable silence, until dusk was upon them and the mosquitoes began to buzz.
“Let’s head inside,” Rossi said quietly, almost regretting the moment ending.
Hotch and Reid nodded. Rossi turned and headed toward his house, but heard a slight sound behind him. He turned back. Reid leaned over and kissed Hotch, very gently. Their hands were still twined. Hotch took his free hand and cupped the back of Reid’s head, pulling him closer.
Rossi turned back around and went inside, a smile on his face. He knew his friends would be just fine.
Jack had survived his high school graduation.
Well, he knew his actual survival had never really been in question. But his day had been busy and filled with his wonderful, eclectic, extended family. Everyone had come. His Dad and Spencer, obviously. His Aunt Jessica. Even Uncle Sean had made it from his restaurant in New York.
And then there was ‘the team’ – even though they didn’t work with his Dad anymore, they were the people who had been there for him since he was a child, the people his Dad thought of as ‘family’. ‘Uncle’ Dave, retired for a few years now and writing again. ‘Aunty’ Em (although Emily would pretend that she hated that nickname), finally married to Dave, with both of them looking ridiculously happy. Penelope came too, with promises of a new laptop (and more hacker lessons). JJ, Will, and ‘cousin’ Henry. Even Derek had made it in from Chicago (and refused to answer his phone during the ceremony, Jack later found out, which ‘Uncle’ Dave called “a goddamn miracle.”)
All of them there for Jack. All of them looking on happily, his father and Spencer’s eyes shining brightest with their obvious pride in him.
Jack knew that he was very, very fortunate.
Although he could see a brief shadow, sometimes, pass across the faces of his Dad and Aunt Jess. Jack knew that they were thinking about his Mom. He wished that he remembered her better, that she was more than just a tenuous memory reinforced by some photos and videos. Sometimes he thought he could remember how she smelled and how she felt as she held him in her arms. Spencer once said that Jack probably could, since smell and touch are some of the strongest subliminal senses. It comforted him to know that his memories were real and not images he had made up. He wished, sometimes, that he could know how she would have felt about him.
His Dad and Jess assured him that she would be proud of him too.
Jack had been so excited when he was accepted to Cal Tech. He wondered if Spencer had something to do with making sure his acceptance went through, but Spencer insisted Jack had earned it on his own merits. Although he wasn’t entirely sure that Penelope hadn’t just hacked the admissions system. But Jack loved physics, the likely extension of his learning from Spencer’s “physics magic”, and was looking forward to starting school in the fall at Spencer’s alma mater. Growing up, he supposed. Starting his own life.
Jack gave a sigh of relief as the three of them walked into their home. His extended family had thrown him a party, having dinner at a family-run Italian restaurant which was a favorite with Dave. Even Uncle Sean had admitted the food was excellent. There had been much laughter and presents (and, although Jack would never admit it out loud, love).
His father collapsed onto the sofa and leaned his head back. “I had forgotten how exhausting celebrating is,” Aaron said with a moan.
“Well, at least we don’t have to do that again for a while,” Spencer agreed, sitting next to Aaron. He leaned onto the side of the couch and put his feet in Aaron’s lap. “Not until you graduate college anyway, Jack.”
Aaron closed his eyes and absently rubbed Spencer’s leg.
Jack shook his heads. “Oh please,” he said, rolling his eyes at them. “Don’t tell me you’re exhausted. You chase UnSubs all over the country, foregoing sleep to work.”
“The UnSubs usually don’t sing,” his father said.
“Or dance,” Spencer added. “Especially not the way Garcia was dancing.”
“Or Prentiss and Rossi.”
“I’m glad to see them finally together. And happily married. It seems to be working,” Spencer said. “They had been dancing around that for forever now.”
“Yeah, I think they finally took the plunge and realized what they wanted the day after Dave’s retirement.”
Jack looked at them. “So,” he said, “speaking of being together, when are you two getting married?”
Aaron’s eyes flew open and he stared at his son. Spencer froze in place.
“Jack,” Aaron said.
“What? Look, I know that one of the biggest reasons you wouldn’t have married beforehand was because you didn’t want me to be teased in school. You know that I had some problems a few years back because of my ‘gay dad’, and I know that you two were being pretty circumspect after that. I wish you didn’t feel like you had to be, and I would have stood by you no matter what. You both taught me that. But now… high school is done. I even have my handy diploma. There’s no reason for you two not to get married.”
“There’s the FBI,” Spencer said quietly.
“Don’t they know?”
“Not everyone,” Aaron said. “In fact, most of them don’t. Not anymore since the old ‘team’ is disbanded.”
“Even after all this time? I think they can hardly complain that after… how long have you been together now?”
“About 14 years, give or take,” his father said before Spencer could provide an exact number of days, probably down to the exact minute, of their first kiss.
“After 14 years,” Jack continued, “I hardly think the FBI would have the right to complain that your relationship would affect your job performance.”
“Well, if Strauss was still there, she would,” Spencer commented. Aaron threw him a quick, annoyed look.
“So what’s the problem?” Jack asked earnestly in a way that only teenagers can.
Aaron looked over at Spencer, who wouldn’t meet his eyes. Spencer sat up. “Look, Jack,” he said, “your father and I are committed to each other. Marriage would create certain complications that would difficult, especially at work. Besides, your father was already married and I doubt I could compare.” Spencer tried to give a quick smile, but it didn’t last and he looked down at the floor.
Jack could see that his father was scowling slightly as he looked at Spencer, Aaron’s face taking on that look of concentration that it when he was working something out in his head. He shot his son a quick look and then looked back at his lover. Finally he grasped Spencer’s hand. Spencer started and looked up at Aaron.
Aaron just stroked Spencer’s hand.
Jack knew that his father and Spencer were not particularly demonstrative concerning their relationship, probably because they were used to concealing it from most of their colleagues at the FBI. But they had also never hidden it from him. There were little gestures, occasional kisses, enough so that Jack knew how they felt about each other. Those gestures hadn’t diminished over the years either. Although there were times growing up when Jack wished he had a “normal” family (especially after being teased mercilessly), he had come to appreciate the strength of his father’s relationship with Spencer and their unwavering support for each other, and for him.
But it seemed at the moment that Spencer was unsure of where he stood. Jack shot his father a disbelieving look. Aaron nodded slightly.
“Sit down for a second, Jack,” Aaron said, indicating the chair across from the couch where he was sitting with Spencer. He smiled at Spencer, squeezing his hand tighter, and then looked at his son. “We all know that I’m not very good at expressing my emotions, so I’m probably only going to say this once…”
Spencer’s eyes widened, looking almost alarmed. “Aaron, there’s nothing that needs to be said. I just…”
“Shh,” Aaron said gently, still stroking Spencer’s hand. “Let me talk.”
Spencer swallowed and nodded.
Aaron took a deep breath and let it out slowly, as if gathering his thoughts. “I loved Haley,” he finally said. “I was 17 when I first saw her, a little younger than you are now, Jack, and I fell in love immediately. I knew right then I was going to marry her.”
Aaron looked between his son and his lover. Jack had already been told how Aaron had met his mom and their courtship. But he knew that his father was going to reveal something different, something more.
“We were happy together. For a long time. You need to know that, Jack. Your mother and I were happy.”
“But, sadly, we began to grow apart. There’s a part of me that blames myself for that. I probably always will. But we both needed something that the other person couldn’t give. That doesn’t make either of us wrong. Just unsatisfied together.”
Aaron held his son’s gaze. “I have so many regrets when it comes to your mother, not the least of which is the guilt that I will carry until the day I die about her death. But you need to know, Jack, that she loved you. And we still loved each other, for all the pain we were going through. And she would be so very, very proud of you, Jack.”
Jack swallowed hard and nodded.
Aaron smiled sadly. “But you also need to know that our marriage was over. It took me a long time to accept that simple truth. Neither one of us could have provided the other one with the support and understanding we needed. Again, it doesn’t mean that either of us was wrong. It just means that we couldn’t be there for each other.”
Aaron turned to Spencer. “Not the way that you’ve been there for me.”
Spencer’s eyes grew even wider. He licked his lips nervously. “Aaron…”
“No, let me finish. You have been my foundation, you and Jack, for the past 14 years. You have been my support, my encouragement, my pillar of strength. It hasn’t always been easy, and God knows we’ve had our issues from time to time. It also wasn’t easy for me to accept, initially, that I felt this deeply about a man. But I did and I do. So I wouldn’t compare a hypothetical marriage with you to the one I had with Haley. I still miss her, and I always will. But you, Spencer, are my partner now, and that’s not going to change.”
Jack could see Spencer take in a shuddering breath. Then he leaned over and kissed Aaron gently. Jack sat there, feeling both emotionally touched and a wee bit awkward.
Finally Jack said, “Eww… mushy stuff,” in a whining voice like he used to use as a young kid, in an attempt to bring a bit of levity to an obviously emotionally charged situation. His father and Spencer broke apart, each laughing a bit.
“Mushy stuff indeed,” Spencer agreed.
Jack smirked at them. “So, when are you getting married?”
Aaron rolled his eyes. “Jack, marriage would be extremely difficult with our jobs and…”
“Is it just the job?” Spencer asked suddenly.
Aaron looked at him cautiously. “Yes.”
Spencer nodded. “Then,” he began and slid off the couch so that he was on one knee (his good knee, Jack noticed), still holding Aaron’s hand. “Then, Aaron Hotchner, if we can figure out a way around the ‘job situation’, and I think I have an idea of how we can, I love you and I would be honored if you would consider becoming my spouse.”
Aaron looked at him for a moment with a quizzical expression, and then suddenly grinned. “Spencer, did you just propose to me?”
Spencer swallowed and licked his lips. “Yes. In front of your son. I think I’m about to die of embarrassment.”
Aaron shot a quick glance to Jack. “I think you better leave.”
“Why?” Jack asked, slightly alarmed.
“Because I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of ‘mushy stuff’ in a moment.” He looked back at Spencer, who was still kneeling before him. “Yes,” Aaron breathed and then, using his free hand, pulled Spencer in for a fierce kiss.
“I’ll just take the car and head to the movies,” Jack said.
The couple completely ignored him.
Jack hurried to the door and shot one more glance back at his father and Spencer. They continued to kiss. Jack quickly left the house, but with a huge smile on his face.
Derek Morgan found himself coming back to DC for another visit, a little over a month after he had just been there. He was coming back due to the same people – Hotch, Reid, and Jack. Last time Derek had been there for Jack’s graduation. This time, however, he had to admit that he was surprised by the purpose of his trip.
The day he had gotten back to Chicago after Jack’s graduation, he had a voicemail from Reid, which said, “Hotch and I are getting married. I’d like you to be my best man. You’ll need to come back to DC in a few weeks.”
Derek had blinked a few times and then replayed the message. It still said what he had thought it had said. He could also hear that Reid’s voice sounded tight, like he was a little freaked out (and Derek had heard Reid being freaked out many times throughout the years, so he knew that tone). But he also heard something else in Reid’s voice – happiness.
Derek was amazed, and utterly pleased, that he was still in touch with his BAU ‘family’. He had feared when he took the supervisory position in Chicago that they would drift apart and he would lose touch with them completely. But Reid had taken to writing him letters – maybe once a month, sometimes less, rarely more – but letters that kept him informed about everyone’s life. Derek thought that Reid wrote to him because, after Reid’s mom died, he didn’t have anyone else to write letters to anymore. Whatever the reason, Derek was grateful, since he had managed to keep in touch with everyone. He would send Reid an occasional email, Reid would respond with a letter, and then Derek would email the rest of the ‘team’ based on Reid’s information.
Derek should have known that the ‘team’ was too much like a family to ever fully fall out of touch. But he was relieved to when he finally realized that fact.
Derek rushed up the stairs to the Superior Court of DC. He had a wedding to get to, and he didn’t want to be late.
Derek found the group in a hallway, obviously waiting their turn to go into the marriage ceremony room. Most of the old ‘team’ was already there, and Hotch’s family – Jack, Hotch’s brother Sean, Jack’s aunt Jessica.
“You made it!” Reid exclaimed, beaming, when he saw Derek and then actually shook his hand. Reid looked almost elegant, dressed in a well cut suit that fit him, with a waistcoat as opposed to a frumpy sweater vest.
Hotch shook Derek’s hand as well. “Thank you for coming.” Hotch looked immaculate in his suit, but then he always did.
“Are you kidding?” Derek said to them. “I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.”
He examined them closely. They looked… happy. There was a lightness there that he had never seen in either of them. “I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by your news.”
“Yeah, I think we’re surprised we’re doing it,” Reid admitted.
“So what’s the rush?” Derek asked. “I was just out here and you didn’t mention this. Did one of you get knocked up?” He grinned at Reid, who scowled at him.
Hotch actually gave a quick laugh. “No. My best man wanted us safely married before he went away to school.” Hotch reached out and put his arm around his son’s shoulder.
“Hey Jack,” Derek said.
“Derek,” Jack exclaimed and gave him a huge hug.
“So this is your fault?” Derek asked the teenager.
“Yep. I don’t trust them not to do something stupid when I’m away. This way I don’t have to worry about them.”
Derek didn’t quite know what that meant, but everyone looked happy so he decided not to worry about them. “So how did you get this through the Bureau?” he asked Hotch instead.
“Well, actually Spence took care of it.”
Derek gave Reid a quizzical look, but Reid had noticed someone else come in. Derek turned and saw John Evans, FBI bigwig, walking down the hall. Derek had heard that he was going to retire soon, but he still had a great deal of leverage and respect within the Bureau. Derek expected Hotch to go over and greet him. Instead Reid did. The two men embraced quickly.
“John, thank you so much for coming,” Reid said.
“I wouldn't miss this, Spencer.” The older man gave Reid a penetrating look. “You seem happy.”
“I am. I… thank you. For everything.”
Evans waved him off. “Think nothing of it.”
“Are you coming to the dinner afterwards?” Reid asked.
“No, I just came to see you married. The missus has some plans for me for later today. Besides, this is a day for you and your family.”
Derek looked over at Hotch. “What’s that all about?” he asked.
Hotch shrugged. “I have a hunch, but Spencer’s never said and I’ve never asked.”
Derek gave him a surprised look.
“We all have our secrets, Morgan. Even in a 14 year relationship. And it’s actually a bit exciting when we can still surprise each other. Especially as profilers.”
Derek shook his head in bemusement as Reid made his way back to them. Hotch went over to politely greet Evans and then talk to David Rossi and Emily, who had just arrived.
“So… John Evans?” Derek asked Reid.
“Yeah. He cut through the red tape about our relationship and, essentially, issued a special dispensation for us. Even though he’s about to retire, they still followed his orders. He told them he had known about us for years and was fine with what we were doing.”
“And did he? Know about you for years, I mean.”
Derek frowned. “You seem to know him pretty well.”
Spencer gave him a quick look. “I wouldn’t say I know him well but, yes, I’ve known him for a while.”
Derek was about to ask Reid how he knew John Evans, but he could tell by Reid’s defensive expression that he wouldn’t answer. “So, where are you going on your honeymoon?” he asked instead.
Reid blinked, as if surprised by the change in topic, and then actually blushed faintly.
“They’re not going anywhere,” Jack said, coming over. “They always have to travel for work, as you know, and traveling is a bit of a chore for them. Instead, I’m going to New York with Uncle Sean for two weeks and they’re going to spend the time at home, alone.” Jack smiled at Spencer, who seemed to blush even more.
Derek smiled. “So when do you leave?”
“Tonight,” Jack answered. “I don’t want to be in the house on their wedding night.”
Derek punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Come on, Jack. After all this time you can’t be surprised that they’re sleeping together.”
Jack gave him an exasperated look. “They’re my parents, Derek. I know, theoretically, that they probably have sex, but I don’t want to know that they are actually having sex. Really, does anyone want to imagine their parents having sex? Eww…” Jack shuddered and walked away.
Reid stood there looking utterly flabbergasted that Jack considered him his parent. Derek put his arm around Reid’s shoulders. “You did good, kid,” Derek told him quietly.
Reid gave a quick smile.
Then Penelope Garcia arrived, embracing everyone (including John Evans). She held on to Derek, her head on his shoulder, clutching a handkerchief. “I always cry at weddings,” she declared.
Then it was their turn to go in. They entered the room where the judge was waiting to perform the simple ceremony. Derek stood next to Reid, Jack next to his father, their friends and family standing behind them, sharing in the experience. Derek watched his two friends as they looked at each other, a joy between them that he had never seen before. They looked happy. They looked… in love.
Derek felt a pang of almost jealousy, but he also knew that he couldn’t think of two people who deserved more to be happy. He smiled.
They exchanged their vows fairly quickly and then, suddenly, Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid were married.
And then Reid stepped forward and cupped Hotch’s face. Hotch’s eyes fluttered shut, Reid leaned over, and then they were kissing.
Derek had an almost startling revelation as watched them kiss. He had always known, or at least suspected, that Reid relied upon Hotch for support. But as he watched Hotch surrender to his lover’s… his husband’s… kiss, Derek realized that Hotch relied just as much, if not more, on Reid. Hotch had always seemed like a rock, except for that one crushing moment when Haley had been killed. But Hotch had retreated back into his stoic, granite exterior. Morgan had thought that Hotch would never let anyone slip past that steely façade. He realized he was wrong; Reid knew and supported that vulnerable Hotch who had hid his pain from everyone else. And Hotch supported Reid, who used his intelligence as a shield and was so afraid to give his trust. Yet the two of them had, somehow, learned to trust and be there for each other.
They broke apart from the kiss, both men grinning foolishly.
Derek blinked a few times, realizing that Garcia wasn’t the only who was going to shed tears of joy at this wedding.
Aaron and Spencer
Aaron drove toward Quantico, not really seeing the road. Fortunately he still knew the way, driving by habit, even though he hadn’t driven these roads as much since he had retired three years earlier. But he had driven them for so many years that they were ingrained in his subconscious. He was grateful for that right now.
He drove to the park where he had asked Spencer to meet him. The ‘team’ would sometimes have lunch there on days when they just had to get out of the office. Aaron had always liked that park.
He didn’t know how he felt about it today.
It was fairly deserted when he got there. Spencer, however, was waiting for him on one of the benches. He was on the phone. Aaron parked his car and then slowly made his way to his husband. He sat down on the bench next to Spencer.
Spencer hung up and turned off his phone, putting it in his pocket. He then grasped Aaron’s hand.
“What if you have a case?” Hotch asked.
“They’ll wait for me,” Spencer replied.
They sat there quietly for a while, just holding hands. Aaron knew that Spencer wanted to know how his doctor’s visit had gone. Aaron also knew that Spencer would wait until Aaron was ready to talk.
“It’s cancer,” Aaron finally blurted out. He could feel Spencer clutch his hand tighter and stiffen beside him, inhaling sharply.
“Okay,” Spencer finally said. Aaron was grateful that Spencer didn’t launch into a long-winded lecture on the various treatment options that they had already researched. Aaron knew that there were treatment plans, and that they were even promising. That didn’t mean that it still wasn’t terrifying.
“Okay,” Spencer said again. “I’ll resign from the BAU and see if I can simply lecture on a part-time basis at the Academy. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll retire from the Bureau.”
This time it was Aaron who inhaled sharply. “You don’t have to give up your job, Spence. I’ll be fine.”
His husband turned and looked at him directly in the eyes. “I’ve been in the BAU for over 30 years now. I wouldn’t mind a break.”
“You won’t have to go through this alone, Aaron. Whatever happens, I’ll be there with you for every step.”
“You’ll give up the Bureau for me?”
“I would have given up the Bureau for you 25 years ago if the team hadn’t accepted out relationship. I’ll certainly give it up for you now.”
Aaron felt a tear trickle down his face. He brushed it away quickly. Spencer put his arm around Aaron and Aaron laid his head on his husband’s shoulder. “I’m scared,” Aaron finally admitted.
They sat in silence for a few moments.
“You’ll have to tell Jack,” Spencer finally said.
Jack was finishing up his Ph.D. in Cal Tech in astrophysics. Aaron didn’t want to burden him with this information, but he also knew that Jack would want to know immediately.
“The treatment options…” Spencer began to say.
“Are promising. I know. And we caught it early, Stage I. The prognosis is actually quite good.”
Spencer took a deep breath. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying.”
“I’d rather face an UnSub with a gun,” Spencer admitted.
“Yeah, me too. And I’m retired now.”
Spencer kissed Aaron’s temple, then drew him in for a tight embrace. “You can’t leave me, you know,” Spencer whispered. “I have terrible abandonment issues.”
Aaron snorted and then pulled back slightly. He brushed away the tears that he knew would be on Spencer’s face. Then Spencer brushed away his tears.
“I love you, Spencer Reid,” Aaron whispered. “You have made the last 25 years of my life far better, far richer, than I could ever have hoped.”
Tears were now running freely down Spencer’s face. “I love you, Aaron Hotchner. You have given me something I never thought I would have – a sense of family, a sense of belonging. You are my world. And we’re going to fight this and, you know, together we are unstoppable.”
At that moment, Aaron believed him. He had hope. “We going to win,” he declared.
Spencer nodded. “Yes we are.”
They smiled at each other through their tears.
They kissed, their passion, their respect, their love for each other flowing between them. Then they sat in the park in the sunshine, holding on to each other.
Author's Note: There are several more stories in this universe. All of them can be found at the "Five Dinners" tag here (scroll up from the bottom of the page).