Series: Love Heals the Shattered Soul
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 7 (2012)
Category: Romance, Fluff,
Pairings: Hotch/Reid, JJ/Will,
Spoilers: Up through Season 7
Summary: When Jack shows up at Spencer’s with a black eye, Aaron isn’t shocked his son went to him first.
Aaron was in the small office in Spencer’s house when he heard the doorbell ring. No case had been in the pipeline so Aaron had given the team the afternoon off to start the weekend early. Spencer had been talking to him about an article he was getting ready to submit that he wanted Aaron to look over. The older man had jumped at the chance to spend a few hours with his former loved in his home.
There had been a change in the way that Spencer had been treating him since the migraine the week before. He was less unsure of himself around Aaron in a non-work setting like when the team went out to eat at lunch. He’d started sitting by the older man again.
“Jack?” Spencer’s voice called out. “What happened to you?”
“I had Aunt Jessie drop me off.”
Aaron stayed where he was. Spencer knew he was there. He would have called out to him if he was needed.
“You didn’t answer my question.” There was fear in Spencer’s voice. Aaron moved out of the office, making no noise as he did. He could hear the rustle of paper. “A fight, Jack?”
“No. Keep reading.”
Aaron was shocked. A school fight that Jack was part of? It wasn’t like his son.
“A kid at school punched you and you tried to walk away. Two of his friends grabbed you and held you as the first punched you in the stomach. You have tomorrow off school to rest and while they deal with the kids. The school called Jessica, I can understand that. How did you get her to drop you off here? How did you know I was here?”
“I heard dad say that he was going to give the team the afternoon off if no case came up. And I told Aunt Jessie that I needed to talk to you before I talked to dad. She said no case had come up.”
“Why did they do this? You’ve never had an issue with bullies.”
“Can I have a new ice pack? My eye is starting to hurt again.”
“Let’s go to the kitchen.”
Aaron waited until he heard the freezer door shut before he moved down the stairs, staying back so neither Jack nor Spencer could see him. He wondered briefly how Jack had missed his car and his shoes. He was pretty sure that Jessica hadn’t missed the car so he set his phone to silent.
“What happened?” Spencer prodded, his tone soft.
“I didn’t go camping last week because of those three. I was talking to a new student, his name is Adam. His mom recently got remarried. She works at GWU and his other mom works at a hospital. I told him about mom and about how dad became happy again after mom because of you. Stephen and his friends overheard.”
“Why didn’t you tell your dad?”
“You had a headache and I didn’t want dad to worry about me as well. I was fine. I hoped by Monday everyone would forget.”
They never do Aaron said to himself. He’d seen it enough in his line of work and heard enough about it from Spencer.
“No. I heard you and dad talking about what you went through one night. What can I do?”
Aaron’s heart broke at that.
“Well before we go into that Jack, your dad is here. He was up in the office, but I would guess he’s now in the living room listening in. This is my house so you can make the decision of if he stays or he goes.”
A small thud sounded and the scrape of chair legs then running feet as Jack ran into the living room. He got a bare glimpse of Jack’s face before it was buried into his leg with his son’s arms wrapping around the limb as well. Spencer followed him at a slower pace, and when he was close he handed over the letter.
Aaron read through the letter and it said exactly what Spencer had said other than they wanted to meet with him as soon as his job allowed about Jack and schooling. He handed the letter back and Spencer placed it on the small island between kitchen and living room. When Jack finally released his leg, Aaron leaned down and picked him up to set him on the island.
The black eye was going to be pretty massive. He hated that it was on his son.
“The nurse already poked at it and well she said nothing is broken.” Jack was meeting his eyes and Aaron was happy. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“Don’t be. You didn’t fight back even though on a three on one, you should have. Tomorrow before Spencer and I go to work, we’ll stop by the school and talk to the principal.”
Aaron noticed the look of shock on Spencer’s face.
“What did you do with the ice pack, buddy?” Aaron asked over top of whatever Spencer was trying to say. Spencer frowned at him but Aaron gave his former lover a look that said they would talk about it later. The genius nodded and Aaron smiled at him.
“In the kitchen.”
“Go sit on the couch and you can watch some cartoons. I’ll get you a new ice pack and then Spencer and I are going to go upstairs and talk.”
“When we get done, we’ll both come down and we can talk about what you are feeling and what you want to do.”
Jack nodded and Aaron picked him up. Spencer moved to the kitchen and he heard the freezer open, he heard the clink of ice next. He settled Jack down on the couch and handed him the remote. His son smiled up at him and it made his heart ache. He knew a very big part of why Jack had wanted to talk to Spencer first.
Spencer handed Jack a plastic bag wrapped in a hand towel and helped him settle it on his face. “Once the swelling has gone down some, I have some cream that will help heal up the bruise a little quicker.”
“Thanks, Spencer,” Jack whispered. Spencer smiled down at him and kissed his forehead. The TV turned on just as Aaron was starting onto the stairs behind the younger man. When they got upstairs, Aaron pulled the door shut behind him.
“Why didn’t Jessica call you?” Spencer asked.
“I don’t know.” Aaron finally remembered that he had put his phone on silent. He lifted it and saw that he’d missed a call from her. Then he found her texts. He quickly read over them. “She said that Jack was pretty upset but that she was going to drop him off here and then call me. She was torn between doing what she thought Jack needed and what she should do. Then she saw my car outside.”
“Oh.” Spencer moved to lean against his desk and looked up at Aaron. “Why do you want me to go with you tomorrow?”
“Because we both know why Jack came here today instead of home to me.” Spencer didn’t say a thing, he just raised an eyebrow and waited for Aaron to continue. “When we were in Georgia right after you’d called me a narcissist the others tried to tell me that I couldn’t believe a word you said. I knew what it was and I told them. I asked each of them to tell me my worst quality. JJ said I could be a bully and we both know that it’s true. I am not a bully like those kids but I still use a bullying way to get what I want.”
Aaron stepped up to Spencer who stayed still, even while he was reaching out to him. The younger man’s body went rigid but Aaron kept going until his hand was cupping the genius’s cheek. This really wouldn’t have been allowed before this. “He wanted comfort and he knew that I would give it to him and he knows that I love him but comfort from a bully is not what he needs.”
“Aaron, you aren’t…” Spencer stopped when Aaron moved his hand from cheek to cover the genius’s mouth.
“I’m not a normal bully no but I am one none the less.” Aaron stepped even closer and was happy when Spencer spread his legs a little so he could move in between them. He let his hand drop and linked both his hands with Spencer’s. “Look at what I did to you. Instead of listening to you, I let my anger cloud my judgement. I figured it out about two days later when the anger fled. I went to you apartment but you weren’t there. Still I let anger cloud my judgement again. I let myself believe that you were out there with ‘her.’ That day in the conference room when the case was brought to us, I almost threw up. That night when I went home to sleep, I did. I worked that case harder than I’ve worked a case since Foyet.” Aaron kissed Spencer’s forehead and rested his head there. Spencer tensed but relaxed after Aaron did nothing else.
“I wasn’t able to save you from the horrors that you and JJ faced and I wasn’t there to help you in the aftermath but closure. I could give you closure. I had set myself up to just stay on the edges. To never even let the thought pass through that you would ever want anything from me ever again. Will was right. I broke you worse than any UnSub ever thought they could. I don’t know why you are even letting me back in but I will never take you for granted again. I won’t ever hurt you like that. I can’t promise to never get angry but I promise I will hear you out. I promise that if I am so angry I am afraid of what I might say or do, I’ll leave but I will come back. I promise all these things and more. Thank you for not giving up on me.”
Spencer didn’t say anything, didn’t move for a long time. Aaron would wait forever for him to make the next move. He was shocked when Spencer let go of his hands and raised them up to cup his face, pushing his face back a little but holding him there. His eyes were bright with unshed tears and Aaron knew that his own were the same. Even after the time and the changes, Aaron could still read him. When Spencer straightened up, no longer leaning on the desk, Aaron knew what he was going to do and he wasn’t going to stop it.
Aaron kept his eyes open as Spencer leaned over the distance separating them and pressed a firm kiss to Aaron’s mouth. It was nothing like the kiss in the hotel room weeks ago. It lasted only seconds but it was the best kiss of Aaron’s life. He let Spencer pull back when the younger man wanted. A smile was on his face when he did.
“You are worth it, Aaron.”
“Let’s go take care of Jack,” Aaron said before he forgot himself and kissed Spencer again.
One Week Later
Aaron took the seat that the Headmaster indicated while Spencer took the other.
“Welcome, Agent Hotchner, Doctor Reid. I’ve looked over young Jack’s file and I am quite surprised that you want to place him here.” The Headmaster was only looking at Aaron. He knew what it looked like from the outside. “As well as the young man named…” The Headmaster leaned over to open another file. “Adam. His parents have already signed the paperwork. Jack’s records are spotless and his testing shows that he is rather smart.”
“Jack was given two options by the school, to keep his family life discussion out of the school or leave. We were not terribly happy with that.” Aaron kept his voice level but the anger was still there.
“You and your wife?”
“My wife Haley passed away a couple of years ago. No, Doctor Reid and I.”
“That makes a great deal of sense. Young Adam was very upset when he figured out his mothers wanted to separate him from Jack. I can see why the bond between the two boys is so strong. I also understand why you want to place Jack here. We are a refuge for those who do not like the standards of what public school allows. There is a wonderful young man in Jack’s grade that likes to dress in skirts and dresses. We are a zero tolerance school but with an understanding of what can cause bullying and we try to fix it if it comes up, not cover it up.”
“A friend at Georgetown recommended the school,” Spencer said with a smile on his face.
“Knowing what I do of you Doctor Reid, I am sure you have done the research on the school. We are very happy to have young Jack here. We can start him on Monday. I already have the check for the year’s tuition in the file.”
That shocked Aaron. He hadn’t done that. He looked at Spencer and saw the blush on his cheeks. He didn’t say a word though, just laid his hand over the young genius’s hand and squeezed.
“It’ll just take a little bit to take care of the final paperwork and then he’ll be ready to go.” The Headmaster stood up and left his office to grab the paperwork, only then did Aaron turn to Spencer.
“Spence?” Aaron asked.
“He really wants to go here and the tuition isn’t bad. I know other places in the area that are much higher. I’ve been playing in the casinos more lately on down time and really it’s not a…”
Aaron covered his mouth with his hand. He smiled at his former lover.
“Thank you.” Aaron pulled his hand back when he felt Spencer smile.
“Supplies are all on you. There isn’t a dress code but you may find that his clothing style may change as he’s around new peers. We can deal with that as it comes.” Spencer grabbed Aaron’s retreating hand and laid a kiss on his palm. “I love him like he’s my own. I love that you are allowing me this.”
When the Headmaster came back, he noticed that the two men were sitting closer together. He smiled at the love between the two men. He’d seen how the agent had acted when he’d brought Jack in for the visit. Seeing him so changed now made him not worry. He’d been afraid that the little boy would grow up with no love shown to him but he could see the love now. Jack was going to be a wonderful addition to the school.