Title: Gone Was Any Trace Of You
Fandom: Criminal Minds,
Year: Season 10
Tags: Alternate Universe, Canon Divergence, Post Break Up, No Dialogue,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Beth Clemmons, Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 10
Summary: The feel of Beth was still all over Aaron like a wine stained suit that he couldn’t wear anymore. The sky was black like the perfect storm but just maybe there was a bright dawn on the other side.
Warnings: Beth Bashing, Spousal Abuse, Child Abuse,
Aaron was sitting down on the top of the hill in the park seven blocks from his house. Jack was at a friends’ for the weekend. The sun was setting overtop of the trees in the distance.
Ten months of coming out to the hill every night as the sun dipped below the horizon when he was in town. In that ten months, he’d kept himself away from what he thought he wanted. Ten months of trying to figure out what he needed in his life and not what he thought that he needed.
Growing up, he’d been the strong one. Sean had needed protection and he’d been able to give it, right up until he was sent away when Sean was starting school. Boarding school had just cemented all the things that his father had beat into him. After the passing of his father, he’d been allowed to come home. He’d become the perfect son for his mother. He’d gone to school, did his homework, started dating Haley.
He’d tried to be perfect. He’d followed in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer but he hadn’t been able to hack it. He hadn’t been able to sit in the courtroom day after day watching the murderers being caught too late. Too many dead that could have been saved.
Haley had been furious about him leaving the prosecutor’s office. She’d been livid that he’d joined the FBI without asking her. It had all changed then. For a short while he’d lived the life he wanted. Then the pressures started again. He’d settled into the BAU and then it was time for kids.
Aaron loved Jack with all that he was. The only point of his life where doing what he was supposed to was what he wanted to do. He wanted to be the best father to him that he could be.
For three years that had included the picture of a loving woman at his side to raise his son. Beth and he had married just one year after meeting. She’d passed over a position in New York to stay and be a mother to Jack. Jessica was still a part of Jack’s life but she wasn’t needed as much when Aaron was on cases. His whole life revolved around Beth and Jack. He’d become addicted to Beth. It had taken two years to figure that out and he’d been clean for ten months.
The house that they had moved into when they got married was sitting empty. Beth had gone to Hong Kong and Aaron had been left to pick up the pieces. The flowers that they had picked out and even he cared for when he was home, were dead. When he’d left, taking Jack with him, he’d left everything. His clothes, his pictures, everything. He’d left it all. Dave and Morgan had gone in and cleaned out his things when they’d gotten back from a case. Aaron hadn’t set foot inside the house. The divorce had been rushed through, favors and being agreeable got things done quick. Beth had tried to take him for everything he had but the judge who’d made the final decisions had split everything down the middle, except the house. He’d bought that with his money and the judge had given it back to him. The actual proceedings were a blank for him. He remembered nothing at all other than walking out to find the team waiting on him. Jessica had Jack sitting with her.
Jack. Jack had been the reason behind it all but the boy had bounced back. He missed having a friend like Beth but now, Aaron could tell that Jack hadn’t loved her. It had been a hell of his own making and he wouldn’t have been shocked if Jack had hated him for it. But Jack didn’t. Jack loved him with the same intensity that he loved him before Beth.
Jessica slid back into their lives like she’d never left. Coming home after cases to find her there, doing her own work or just reading on the couch was normal. It was like the last three years hadn’t existed.
Aaron looked at his phone at his side. There was no blink of a missed message. No word that his text message had been received. He’d been an idiot and he knew it. He had to try though. He needed him to know that he had his head on straight for the first time in his life. He needed what made him happy and that wasn’t a white picket fence and the addition of more kids.
What made him happy was laughter that was rare but never forced. Smiles on a face that, while not as rare as on his own face, but were still pretty rare. The touch of hands that knew what he’d gone through over the past ten years but still want to touch him. Hands that wouldn’t hurt. That would never touch him in anger. Lips that caressed his skin. Lips that didn’t spit word after word of pain.
He’d made himself a promise when his father died that he’d never let another loved one touch him like that. He hadn’t but he’d learned first hand that words and anger hurt worse than fists and bats. It was never in front of Jack but still it affected the boy. He hadn’t even seen it until they were working a case and Reid and Morgan had been interviewing a couple. The profile said that the husband was abusing his spouse but they needed him to see it and give him up. Morgan had been the blunt instrument of the interrogation of the suspected UnSub but Reid. Reid had been a scalpel digging into old wounds on the spouse. By the time that the spouse had jumped up and ran to the door to get away from his husband, Reid had ripped open every single one of his wounds and had the blood scattered everywhere. Callahan had been right there to take the husband to safety as he confessed all that his husband had been doing while Morgan held the UnSub down in his seat.
Reid hadn’t gotten up from his seat. He just sat there. It was after Morgan and Rossi had escorted the UnSub out that the younger man had gotten up from his seat. He’d turned his head and looked at Hotch through the two way mirror as his eyes locked with Reid’s and he knew. He knew that Reid knew. Reid should have never been able to see him through the mirror but he had. He’d looked right past the glass to the core of Aaron.
Aaron had ended up in the bathroom throwing up. He’d thrown up the sandwich he’d eaten in a rushed meal while the LEOs had escorted the married couple to the precinct. When he’d had nothing left to expel from his stomach, he’d heard footsteps. Boots. Dave. He’d been shuffled off to the hotel room and he couldn’t remember what exactly happened after that. He remembered waking up the next morning with a body on the bed with him. Reid had been sitting there reading. No words had been spoken but he’d gotten himself ready and the team headed back to DC.
When the plane touched down, Jessica was there with Jack, and Dave didn’t take no for an answer. All three were shuttled off to Dave’s. The next morning, Aaron had gone home alone and had told Beth that he was leaving and they were getting a divorce. He’d left the house while she’d been spitting venom at him.
Ten months, he’d been focusing on himself and building himself back up. He was happy alone. Content and could live like that the rest of his life. He could and he knew it.
He’d endured the counseling that had been all but been forced on him by the team. The remembrances of the period between being stabbed and killing Foyet had been forefront in his mind then and was the only reason he agreed. He talked circles around the therapist. After his third session with the man, he’d been sitting at home watching Jack sleep when he knew that he needed help but the therapist wasn’t going to be able to help him.
So he’d found his own therapist. He still went to the other one but when he’d get home after the session, he’d call and just talk. The person on the other end of the phone knew when to speak up and when to keep quiet. There were nights where all Aaron wanted was to hear another voice. Those nights he’d fall asleep listening to story after story of a childhood that had been too brief.
Aaron had known going into the relationship with Beth that his heart laid elsewhere but he’d never had the courage to do anything about it. The objection of his love had known that as well but hadn’t ever been anything more than a good friend. The best friend that he could have possibly asked for.
Ten months and the only thing that he knew without any doubt was that he needed to grab with both hands whatever made him a better person. To take what made him happier with his life.
The sun had dipped below the horizon and it was dark now. Aaron couldn’t see five feet in front of him but he knew that someone was approaching him, silently. He knew exactly who it was. Shifting his legs, he let his arms rest on each knee.
Where his visitor sat down would tell him why he was there. He expected the normal distance of a foot between them. He hoped for sides pressed together. What he got was a lanky body settling in front of him between his spread legs and a head tipped back onto his shoulder. It felt right to wrap his arms around the body and tilt his head to inhale. The scent was the same as it had been for over ten years. Constant, changing yet staying the same at the core.
Spencer smelled like something clean. Something untouched and still pure. He’d stayed away from him to save him and in the end almost destroyed himself. He wasn’t that strong anymore. He wanted. No. He needed Spencer in his life. He needed Reid on the job and Spencer for the rest of the moments of his life. He wanted to be strong and not want the younger man but he couldn’t be. Not anymore.
And Spencer was just fine with that. Aaron could feel it in the way that he relaxed back into him. They stayed like that through the night, cuddled together for warmth until the sun rose. The morning runners, joggers, and walkers started to swarm the park but still they sat there, Aaron wrapped around him. It wasn’t until Spencer’s stomach growled that either of them moved.
Stiffness had set in but still Aaron stood up and pulled Spencer with him. When they were both upright, Aaron leaned in for their first kiss. It was simple and chaste, but for Aaron it was like it was washing all of Beth off of him and he felt like he could finally breathe again.