That (Repeated) Moment of Déjà Vu Arc 3

Title: That (Repeated) Moment of Déjà Vu
Fandom: Criminal Minds,
Year: Pre-Series Through Season 7
Tags: Time Travel, Canon Level Violence, Hotch Centric, Canon? What Canon?, Happy Ending,
Ratings: NC-17
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner/Haley Hotchner, Jack Hotchner/Henry LaMontagne,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 10
Summary: Throughout his childhood years, Aaron had a best friend. His name was Tristan but when Aaron’s dad died, Tristan never came back. He’s always wondered about him. Years later, he meets a young man, Doctor Spencer Reid, and he’s just as enamored with him. And he can’t figure out why, then past and present slam together in the middle of a life altering moment.
Words: Arc 3-55,694 Total 111,376
Notes: Based loosely on the time travel method of “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I’ve messed around with some things.
Warnings: Child Abuse, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Murder, Rape, Canon Character Death, Spousal Abuse, Adultery,
Beta: Reidemption

October 2009
Aaron slammed the door shut on his car, his eyes locked on the front door of the house. He moved quickly but silently. When he got to the door he tried the knob and found it unlocked. Silently, he swung the door open making sure that it wouldn’t make a noise. He steeled himself for what he was going to see. Haley dead on the floor, a puddle of blood forming around her body.

When he stepped into the room with his gun drawn he wasn’t expecting to see three people. Foyet was dead on the ground, his gun kicked away from his body. Haley was on the floor a few feet away, her head in the lap of another man. His hand was on her throat like he was checking her pulse. Aaron kept his gun raised as he took another step closer. The man holding Haley must have heard him because he looked up.

Spencer Reid.

The gun lowered a little as Aaron looked at him, truly looked at him. He scooted back and laid Haley’s head down on the floor carefully and then stood up with his hands raised. He was dressed exactly like he had been the day that he’d met Spencer, five years before. FBI academy graduation outfit with the messenger bag slung over his shoulder. He looked scared to death. He took a step back and Aaron raised the gun again. He wanted to know exactly what the hell he was doing there.

But before he could get the words out of his mouth, Spencer was gone. Faded out exactly like Tristan used to do. Aaron just stood there, looking at where he had been. He looked down, expecting to find clothes but there were none. Holstering his gun, Aaron checked Foyet first. He was dead. He moved to Haley next and saw her starting to come around. How the hell was he going to explain this? He wracked his mind for something. He came up with nothing.

“Haley?” Aaron asked.

“Aaron? Where is he?”

“He’s dead. He’d dead, Haley.”

“There was a man. He just appeared in the room and he shot him. Then the horrible man shot him in the shoulder and the other man fired back. I couldn’t…did I faint?”

“Yes you did. Haley, I…that man isn’t here anymore. He’s gone, and you can’t tell anyone about him.”

“How are you going to explain the blood?” Haley asked pointing at where there were several spots of blood on the floor. Aaron looked at her for a few seconds and then moved over to the cabinet where he knew a Swiss Army knife was kept. He grabbed it and opened the blade. He lifted it and made a shallow cut on the base of his neck. He dropped bits of blood on each spot that was on the carpet and then spread a few more around, as well as making sure it got all over his shirt. He tried to find where the bullet was but stopped when he saw the neat hole where it had gone in. It had been pulled out and scraped, exactly like his apartment. Given that the person was gone, Aaron was sure that it was Tristan again. There wasn’t a single thing that he could do now.

“Where’s Jack? Where did you send him?”

Aaron turned to her and then looked up the stairs. Foyet had never made it up there but he needed to see Jack. He took off at a run to find his son. As he crested the stairs he heard a voice.

“Shush, someone’s coming. You are strong, Jack. Your dad will come and get you soon. Shush.”

Worried, Aaron opened the door but no one was there. He looked all around before he finally opened the cubby up in the window seat. Jack was lying there exactly like he did when Aaron worked in the office. He pulled him up into his arms and just held him.

“I worked the case, daddy.”

“That’s wonderful buddy. Want to go see mommy?”

Jack nodded, and Aaron stood up on shaky legs. When he got down the stairs, he found his team in the living room with Haley and Foyet’s body. He looked at Blake and saw her looking around. Did she know the truth of her TA? Or had Tristan…Aaron shook his head. Spencer. His name was Spencer. He’d lied to Aaron every single time as a kid. He knew exactly who he had been when they had met at the academy. Now was not the time to talk to her about it. That could come later. The front door opened, and Aaron turned, ready to grab his gun when ADD Michaels stepped inside the house.

“What happened? I got a panicked call from Analyst Garcia that Foyet had your family.”

Aaron looked around and saw that Haley had moved a picture to cover up the bullet hole. Aaron thought quickly on his feet and told a tale of how he got there just as Foyet was getting ready to shoot. How he put two in him. There was no way to back that up, but he was hoping that it would all blow over. He spun a tale of pure fantasy, and the ADD just nodded. Haley told what she knew. She’d passed out before the shot and woke up in Aaron’s arms. Jack stayed in his dad’s arms the entire time. He wasn’t just protecting Spencer in this, he was protecting himself because there wasn’t a single person that would believe in time travel. When he’d been a kid, he’d believed in it and accepted it before he’d found proof, Tristan had proved it time and again though. Aaron sighed internally. He didn’t know what to call him.

Medics treated his throat and checked over Jack and Haley. Aaron was shocked when the coroner was brought in and Foyet’s body removed before CSU got there. The ADD just smiled and said that it was open and shut.

“We have a dead serial killer with no fallout. It’s open and shut. Horrible that he won’t stand trial for what he did in Boston but he can’t hurt anyone else. We already have confirmed his blood at your house from the first attack. He’s shown a predilection for going after you and he’s shown he’ll kill with no issue. Putting two in him was the best option.”

Aaron just watched him leave, shocked. He sat down on the couch with Jack in his lap. Haley was tucked into his side. Aaron didn’t know what to think. He didn’t know what to do. As he sat there he thought about his life. He needed to talk to Spencer. He really needed to talk to Spencer but he was afraid of the man running from the discussion, away from him. He looked at Blake, tossing the idea of asking her away. She would warn him.

Morgan, Dave, and he escorted Haley and Jack to a hotel that Aaron was paying for. It was going to take a day or so for Morgan to change out the carpet and to fix the bullet hole in the wall. He had no clue how to explain that one. Morgan had already promised to come out and start ripping up the carpet as soon as he could the next day. They’d been given the next few days off, mainly for Aaron to settle himself in believing his family was alive. He was thankful. Haley would have questions and when she settled down, she’d start to ask what happened, and Aaron wanted to be the only one around for that.

When Morgan and Dave left, Haley turned to Aaron. Jack was asleep on the bed; the day’s activities had worn him out.

“I remember you, back in college. You talked about a friend named Tristan. I’ve never met him and you haven’t mentioned him in the present tense at all. Yet, Jack was talking about a Tristan that he’s made friends with. Had a play date here with him with you and then just now. A Tristan kept him company. That’s kind of odd.”

“Tristan is a kid of someone I know from work. He saw me coming into the house here and came over to say hello. He’s close to Jack’s age so I let them play together. As to the Tristan I knew when I was younger, he moved away just after my father died and I haven’t seen him after that.”

Haley eyed him like she didn’t want to believe him, but in the end she settled down on to the bed.

“I have somethings that I need to take care of. If you need me, call. I’ll be by in the morning for breakfast.”

“Fine.” Haley was upset, but Aaron didn’t care. He had two things he had to do. He knew that she was scared. As he was grabbing his jacket to leave, Aaron saw the look on her face. It was a look of naked want. She hadn’t looked at him like that in years. Since before Jack had been born. Had she thought that they were going to sleep together? That he was doing this because he loved her? Aaron kept going because he was not going down that path again.

A stop at the office to find what he needed before he met his goal for the evening. He knew that the FBI was still interested in Spencer, they’d not wanted to let him go, but health reasons were a good reason to allow someone to leave. Now that he knew the truth though, he wondered exactly how Spencer had gotten through the academy. Why had he even tried? Hadn’t he disappeared at least once? The personnel file for Spencer was surprisingly up to date. The ADD had updated with a new address just seven months before. Aaron was shocked at that. Why had they been keeping that close of an eye on him?

Not going too far thinking about it, Aaron wrote down the address to program into his GPS, and then he was gone. No one of importance saw him come in and even if they had he could just say that he’d needed something from his office. It wasn’t hard to lie, not when one was so good at seeing the lies in others.

The apartment that Spencer lived in was a little shocking. It was pretty nice. Nothing like he’d ever thought about Tristan living in. There was a guard sitting inside and Aaron flashed his badge and the man just sat back down. Aaron took the elevator to the fifth floor. He took a few deep breaths but the anger that had been building inside of him wasn’t going down. He’d met with Spencer outside several times. He stopped by all the time at the BAU to drop and/or pick up papers for Blake, pertaining to her class. He’d been out for drinks with the team twice now. There was plenty of time for him to tell him about who he really was. He wondered if Spencer was sitting on the other side of the door, waiting for him. The Spencer he had seen that day was the one form five years before. Had he been waiting for this day? Would he even be here? Then again that Spencer had only popped in and out. Had he had the chance to figure out the date?

Knowing that just standing there wasn’t going to get a thing resolved. He knocked on the door. He made sure to knock loud enough for Spencer to hear him even if he was asleep. He listened close to the sound of feet on the floor. He was barefoot. When the door opened and Spencer’s eyes widened in shock, Aaron got angry.

“Agent Hotchner? What are you doing here?”

That set him off. They were alone, and he was just going to act like they didn’t know each other? Aaron pushed him into the apartment and shut the door. When Spencer opened his mouth to speak again, Aaron grabbed him by the shoulder and shoved him in the wall right beside the door. The younger man’s eyes widened in fear and part of Aaron’s heart cracked a little at that. He’d seen that fear in Spencer’s eyes before and it was never a good thing. Still his anger was so great. He wanted to grab him by the neck. but he needed him able to talk. The little voice in his head that told him that this wasn’t him that he needed to calm down, he ignored that.

Right up to the point that he felt something press against the back of his head and then a sound that filled his heart with fear, the sound of a cocking gun. A revolver at that. His mind supplied the information. There was nothing he could do. He inhaled to calm down and that’s when he smelled that the gun had been fired recently, the gunpowder was very strong. Who the hell was behind him? Who the hell was Spencer living with?

“Step back from him, Aaron and keep your hands up,” a very cold, male voice said and Aaron did as it asked. As soon as he raised his hands up after letting go of Spencer, the younger man skirted around him and took off to the other side of the room, if his footsteps were anything to go by. Aaron stayed still. The gun was still pressing against the back of his head. He startled a little when a hand reached for the gun on his hip. It was unlatched and then pulled free. “Don’t even try for your backup. Turn around.”

The gun was removed from his head and he heard the sound of not so soft feet stepping back from him, he turned. His eyes blinked because he wasn’t sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. There were two Spencer’s in his view. The Spencer that he’d attacked, because there was no other word for it and a Spencer that looked a little older. He was standing funny. He looked him up and down, still with his own hands raised in the air. He had a holster at his hip for the revolver, and he was dressed in slacks and a sweater vest over a button up. His right arm was pressed down his side and along his stomach. He looked up and saw the gunshot wound. Spencer had been shot! Aaron took a step forward but Spencer raised the gun a little more to stop him. Aaron took a step back.

The younger Spencer had Aaron’s gun in his hand and was slipping it into a gun safe before he moved forward to stand beside older Spencer.

“Take his backup from his ankle,” older Spencer said and the younger did as asked. That gun went into the safe along with the other and Aaron watched as older Spencer sort of wavered and then was gone. Younger Spencer slammed the gun safe door shut and then just stared at Aaron.

“He…”

“He didn’t tell me who shot him, just that he was shot in the line of duty, and he got shot protecting his family. Then you came. He knew though. He hid. I should have known. I shouldn’t have answered the door.”

Aaron listened to his words but he couldn’t process them. The bullets in Foyet were revolver ammo. He hadn’t gotten a good enough look at the revolver to see what ammo it used. He hoped that the ammo wasn’t compared to what his gun had shot before. He hoped the ADD had been right, that it would never see the light of day. Every single little bit of anger left him as he watched Spencer move to the far side of the room and sit down in a chair. It wasn’t until the younger man tucked his feet up in the chair and dropped his chin on his knees to look at him that he truly felt like shit.

“I’m sorry, Spencer. I truly, truly am. I’m so sorry,” Aaron said as he moved closer slowly. He watched as Spencer tensed as he dropped to his knees in front of him. He wasn’t seeing Spencer anymore. He was seeing Tristan. Running from him in the woods. He was remembering being held on the day of his father’s funeral. That Spencer had set aside a gun. That startling fact jumped to the front of his mind. He’d seen in the safe. Only his two guns were in it, but older Spencer, who did carry a gun, had to visit enough to warrant a safe.

When Aaron moved to cup his cheek, Spencer tried to move away but Aaron kept up the movement. Until he was cupping the cheek of his friend. Spencer’s eyes closed and Aaron leaned up to kiss his forehead. It didn’t feel odd when he lifted Spencer’s legs and scooted up into the chair. It was an oversized chair and he fit with his back to the armrest. He dropped Spencer’s legs over him and then pulled him close. He could feel slight tremors in Spencer’s body. Adrenalin leaving him.

“So, where did the name Tristan come from?” Aaron asked, trying to settle Spencer. Talking always settled Tristan. He hoped it was still true for Spencer.

“It’s my middle name. Spencer Tristan Reid. Mom is a professor of literature and Tristan and Isolde are her favorite characters. Dad didn’t want Tristan to be my first name so they settled on Spencer, one of mother’s favorite authors. Dad didn’t know that until later.” Spencer settled more against him, the weight was familiar even though it shouldn’t be. Aaron raised his arm and the younger man ducked down to where his head was on his shoulder.

“No wonder I could never find you.”

“That and I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Aaron pulled back to look at him in shock. He would have never thought that it was where Spencer was from. Why the hell had he been coming here to the DC area? Why New York? Was it because of Aaron? “I think you should start at the beginning.”

“Remember when you said you wanted to come and live with me? When you were going to Hargrave at first? I didn’t lie. I was born in 1981. I wasn’t even on my parents radar. And while mom was a traveler before she got sick and dad knew this, they never would have taken you in.”

Aaron sighed at that. Near sixteen years between them. There was no way that Aaron ever would have looked at him as a friend if they had grown up down the block from each other. The only thing they shared were crappy childhoods. He tried to remember the date of Spencer’s birthday because it was close to his own. He just couldn’t place it. Looking at his watch which had the date, it struck him. It was today. “Today is your birthday. You are twenty eight today.” Saying the words out loud had Aaron wanting to shift their position. This was a horrible position for them to be sitting in. But he couldn’t make himself do it. He really couldn’t. Tristan had been the only one allowed to ever be this close besides Haley, and if he was honest with himself, while she had his love, there was something that stopped him from allowing her to be this close to him.

The smile from Spencer, Aaron could feel it on his neck as the younger man shifted a little. It was intimate but Aaron couldn’t push him away. “Yes, it is. Mom called me this morning.”

“And your father?”

“Haven’t heard from him since about two hours after ten year old me got back from your father’s funeral.”

“What?” Aaron wanted to jump up and go and find him, but the way that Spencer curled down farther into him had Aaron wrapping his arm around Spencer’s shoulders and rubbing at his opposite arm.

“He left me and mom. Oh, he would leave enough money for us to survive on but I’ve not seen him since he left and he’s never checked on us.”

“Your mom was sick. How could he leave a ten year old with a sick mother? How did he expect you to care for her and yourself?”

“How can a father slap a five year old? Give him a bloody nose at age eight? Dad didn’t want to be saddled with a strange kid and a schizophrenic wife.”

Aaron stopped and applied that word to everything that Tristan had told him. How had he managed to go to school, take care of his mother, and handle his random time traveling spurts? How had he managed with the weeks he was in New York? Then he remembered that Tristan had been around nine then and Spencer said that it was after the funeral that his father had left. That’s when it started to make sense on why he never saw an above ten year old Tristan. Before he could ask to confirm, Spencer started to speak.

“I stopped traveling after that. Mom stopped when her schizophrenia manifested. Our minds protect ourselves. Even if we find the perfect meds and she’s lucid for the rest of her life, she’ll never travel again. I stopped and that’s why you’ve never seen a teenaged me. I figure that my brain decided I had enough on my plate to not have to deal with it was well. I was afraid at first but then I remembered that an older me had come to the funeral so I knew that I got it back. I just didn’t know when. Adult me watched you on the edges when you were a child, only stepping in when I knew that I was needed and not a child. Like when you were eight. It’s a little creepy, adult me hanging out with a child. Even if we are friends, with the turning of the tides, I didn’t want to be thrown into jail.”

“Is that why little you hasn’t come around much?”

“Yes. I do have a confession to make.”

“Okay.”

“I creeped you out on the Georgetown campus. I was that guy you chased.”

Aaron laughed and thought back over the years. He tried to place Spencer’s face all over. There was one place it was startlingly obvious. “My wedding to Haley. STR. The books, the purse, the tie. That you was!”

“Yes. And on a beach in the Hamptons.”

Inhaling sharply, he thought about that man on the beach, the same man from the bar. He pulled in all the men over the years that he’d sworn he’d known. The moments of déjà vu that had spilled over him.

“How are Haley and Jack?”

“You know exactly how Jack is.”

“What?” Spencer asked, turning his head up to look at Aaron. There was pure confusion in his eyes.

“There was one of you in the room with him.”

“There was?” Spencer turned to where he was fully facing him, Aaron lost the band of warmth on his side and he wanted it back but the look that he was giving him shocked him. “I never…Shit.”

“You didn’t know that’s where you were?”

“Not until you…There was no current calendar in your office and I didn’t see Jack. He heard me moving and kept quiet but I heard him shift because I was so quiet and that’s when I started to talk. I introduced myself as Tristan and he said that he had a new friend named Tristan that his daddy brought him over to play. I asked if he was Jack. We talked and then the gunshots went off. I talked him out of crying. Settled him, and then when I heard someone on the stairs, I concentrated really hard to get the hell out of there. It’s come and go but sometimes I can do it. I hated leaving Jack, but he was hidden and if I was in the room whoever was coming in would look harder for Jack.”

“You did fine. That was me. Jack’s fine. He’s with Haley at a hotel. I came to talk to you.” Aaron watched as Spencer settled against the other armrest. It was easy with Spencer. It felt normal to settle with him like this. “So when did you start to travel in time again?”

“The day I met adult you for the first time when I wasn’t traveling, so that means the day of my graduation from the academy. We touched and I don’t know but that’s why I ran. I didn’t want to disappear in the middle of the hall and not in front you either. I wasn’t ready for traveling and I wasn’t ready to meet you. I knew that you were in the FBI but I hadn’t expected you to be there at the graduation.”

“I went every year up until that one,” Aaron said. Realizing that he had stopped then and he hadn’t even noticed it. He stopped and thought about it. He hadn’t felt the need. “I stopped going.”

Spencer smiled. Aaron pulled on him until he turned into him and laid his head back down on his shoulder. It was comfortable. Spencer curled into him and then laughed when his stomach growled.

“So what’s your excuse for not eating now?”

“Got busy reading over papers for Blake’s class. Lost track of time.”

“So what place is good that delivers because I haven’t eaten dinner either.”

Aaron watched Spencer as he moved to the drawer with takeaway menus. When he came back over, Aaron took the menus. Spencer looked a little lost until Aaron pulled him back down. In the privacy of Spencer’s place and even his own, he didn’t mind this. Tristan had never liked touching when they touched where people could see on the few times they played together out and about on the street.

“So, I’ve always kept my questions to myself because I didn’t want to make you uneasy but exactly how fast do you read?”

“Twenty thousand words per minute. I thought I did better at hiding how fast I read.”

“No, not really. You didn’t hide and when I didn’t ask, you kind of let yourself go.”

“I also have an eidetic memory and an IQ of 187. It’s why Gideon wanted me for the BAU. I spent days debating taking it. Before I started to travel again. That kind of threw a kink in my plans. There isn’t a way to hide it. I had to leave the FBI. I was able to get a part time job at Georgetown while studying for another degree.”

“That’s right. Gideon said that you had three PhDs and two BAs. How the hell did…what age did you actually graduate?”

“Twelve, like mom wanted. Cal-Tech not long after and I was happy with classes. Neighbors on the block helped me to take care of mom while I was in class. Tutoring on campus and other things helped me get money to get back and forth between Pasadena and Vegas.”

“Where is your mom?” Aaron set the menus down and then tilted Spencer’s face up to his own.

“I put her in Bennington Sanitarium when I turned eighteen. So, exactly a decade ago. I could tell you down to the moment if you wish.”

“We never had a childhood did we? Our fathers messed that up royally, but we had each other right?”

“Yes, we did. And that was enough for me. Knowing that you were in my future as a friend was the only thing that got me through high school. Things got so much better when I got to Cal-Tech. The bullies went away and I got rivals. Rivals I could deal with. Still I kept my head down and did what I needed to do. Pick something, Aaron. Or you are getting egg drop soup.”

Aaron couldn’t help it, he leaned over and held Spencer’s legs still with one arm and then went after his side with his free hand. Spencer realized what he was going to do too late. He tried to escape but Aaron tickled him until he screamed for mercy.

“Chinese, General Tso’s Chicken.” Aaron smiled as Spencer tried to catch his breath. Spencer grabbed the menus and put them back in the drawer as he called in their orders. Aaron stood up to look around the apartment. His focus before had been on his anger and then on Spencer. There were books on shelves and other little things all over. He stopped at the bookshelves to look and ran his hands down the spines of the books as he read the titles. He grabbed one of the books and pulled it free. It was the exact copy of The Secret Garden that he’d read to Tristan. That’s when he realized that Spencer had brought his clothes with him and taken then back at the house earlier.

“How are you able to take your clothes with you? You never could as a child.”

“When I was younger, I was able to use some science to figure out exactly what kind of electrical field I put off when I traveled. The problem was that the field didn’t extend to anything that I was wearing. I figured it out and over the years as a teen I refined and made it better.” Spencer moved closer to him and showed him his wrist. There was a leather strap there. He unwrapped it from his skin and held it out to Aaron. He wasn’t expecting there to be that much weight in it. “I have a small device in there that kind of extends that field. I have a few in my messenger bag as well. When I travel it all travels with me. I carried it with me all the time when I was a teen and even then at graduation I had it in a pocket. I slipped it on quickly when I started to run from you.”

Aaron handed the leather bracelet back, and Spencer wrapped it around his wrist again. Aaron settled down on the couch again with a random book from the shelf in hand. He looked at the book and then back up at Spencer. “You always read to me. Did you do that from memory?”

“Most of the time. Books that I really enjoy, I do like to read at a much slower pace. I like to savor the words.” Spencer was leaning against the counter in the kitchen. Aaron appreciated the view. Allowing himself to look. He smiled as Spencer turned to look at something on the counter. He was smiling and Aaron couldn’t help but smile as well. “So Haley is in a hotel. Jack’s with her. Are you going back to your apartment?”

“I don’t know. I can’t go back to the hotel, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to sleep tonight.”

Spencer cocked his head to the side. “Why can’t you go back to the hotel?”

“Haley, seemed to hint that she’d be just fine sharing a bed.” Aaron looked away to stare out a window.

“Oh. Has she offered that before?” Spencer’s voice was calm and collected and when Aaron looked up at him, there was nothing on his face. Almost too blank.

“No. I know that it was just a reaction to almost dying but I didn’t want it. I’ve not even attempted to start anything with anybody. I focus on my job and on Jack and that’s fine. It wasn’t until I saw the look on her face that I even thought about the fact that I was lonely and I’m not so much. I feel like I’m waiting.” Aaron rubbed his hands down his face. “Sorry. I’m just tired.”

“You can stay here. I have a perfectly comfortable couch. I fall asleep on it more, I think, than I sleep in my bed.”

“You think?” Aaron looked at him and Spencer ducked his head and smiled. “What’s the exact number?”

“The average is one to one unless it’s finals. Then I’m on the couch more than the bed.”

“When you fall asleep out here, book in hand?” Aaron was about to stand up and move over to him when a knock sounded at the door. He moved instead to the door and opened it. Before Spencer could get there, he paid and tipped the driver, taking the food. He shut the door and Spencer was just looking at him.

“I would have paid.”

“I know. You are letting me stay the night. Let me feed you.”

“And all the times that you fed me growing up?”

“I got more than you know out of that. So who is the special man in your life?” Aaron handed Spencer his container of food and the younger man just looked at him in shock.

“I don’t have a special man.”

“But…” Aaron set his food down and looked at him. “You had a picture of a your son. Given the son’s age compared to how old you were when you showed me, he would have been born already.”

“Oh!” Spencer blushed. “Yes, the boy who will become my son is already born but he’s my partner’s and we’ve not started a relationship yet. I actually don’t know when we will. I know roughly but there’s not a specific day.”

“You’ve met him?” Aaron was interested in it. He was interested in making sure that Spencer was happy. His own life might not be what he wanted, but he’d make sure that Spencer was happy.

It should have been weird, when they went to bed. Aaron had a go bag in the car with sleeping clothes. He went first taking a shower and then Spencer. They started off on opposite sides of the bed but when Aaron woke up wrapped around Spencer, he wasn’t shocked. If he had a lifeline in his life, it was the man in his arms. So instead he curled his head down into the back of Spencer’s neck and slept a little longer.

January 2010
Aaron looked around the room that Doctor Malcolm had his office set up in. He couldn’t quite place what exactly was wrong with the room. Before he could even attempt to think more on it, a knock came at the door. Aaron turned to look at the doctor.

“Come in,” Malcolm yelled.

The door opened and in stepped Spencer. Except that it wasn’t his Spencer. This Spencer had a different haircut and since he’d eaten dinner with Spencer before heading out on the case, Aaron was sure it wasn’t him. On his hip was a revolver and he had an FBI badge on display.

“Sorry I’m late, Hotch. Traffic was terrible,” Spencer said as he shut the door. The younger man looked up and looked right at Dave. “Rossi. Doctor Malcolm, yes?”

“Yes, who are you?”

“SSA Doctor Spencer Reid.”

Dave raised an eyebrow at the words but said nothing. He turned to start to question the doctor about the location of his daughter. Spencer started to move around the room. Looking at everything. Aaron wanted to call him in. He didn’t want to call attention to him though. Aaron just watched as his eyes roamed everything. He ended up settling on the far side of the desk, beside the doctor

“That’s the end of this meeting.”

“Where’s your daughter, doctor?” Dave demanded.

“And Agent Rossi, if you try to talk to her. A mentally ill woman without her knowing what she’s doing…”

“Do you know about the women she’s keeping?” Dave asked. Aaron was leaving the questioning up to him, he had the doctor on edge, and he would be the one to get him to talk.

The doctor continued like Dave hadn’t spoken. “…and have no medical or legal counsel present, you’ll have no case. Do you understand me? None.”

Spencer was now messing with the items behind the desk. The doctor was getting more agitated but Aaron wasn’t sure who was the cause, Dave or Spencer.

“We’ll keep the police here in case Samantha drops in for a visit. Let’s go, Aaron, Reid,” Dave said and turned.

“Hey, a really fast question,” Spencer said. He pointed behind the desk. “Why are these toys here?”

“I use them in my therapy.” The doctor didn’t look at him.

“No, I understand that. But why are they way up on this shelf, away from where any kids can actually reach them?”

Aaron watched the doctor’s face at the question. There was something there. Aaron stepped closer to the two of them. A little afraid.

“They’re reminders of patients I’ve helped.”

“Let me ask you something.” Spencer pulled a stuffed animal down off the shelf and set it on the desk. “What was the name of the girl you helped with this one?”

“Jenny Larson.”

Spencer grabbed another. “And this one? What was the name of the girl you helped with this one?”

“Abigail Moore.”

“How about this one?” A third one was set down.

“Linda Krauss.”

“These girls are like what nine, nine or twelve years old, I’m assuming.”

“My PhD is on the effect of trauma on prepubescent girls. I do not appreciate what you are implying.”

Aaron took a step closer but Dave stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Oh, I’m not implying anything. I’m making an inference. An inference is an educated guess and based on that, I form a hypothesis.” The doctor was fully turned to Spencer now, and the younger man was staring him down while talking. “For instance, my hypothesis here is that after you raped your daughter, you submitted her to electroshock treatment to make sure she stayed quiet.”

“This is outrageous.” The doctor turned to Aaron and Dave but they both ignored him.

“And then out of guilt you bought her toys. More specifically you bought her a line of dolls. Because that’s what serial molesters do. They give gifts. So you continued the pattern with your other patients, and once they left your care you added their toys to your collection.” Spencer was pissed but it wasn’t something the doctor or even Dave would have known.

“I’m sorry, you can’t back up your story, doctor.”

“This is why I love my job, doctor,” Spencer answered back. Aaron felt a weird twinge in his gut at the way that Spencer said the word doctor. “Because my lab? It’s a jury of your peers. My tests will be Jenny Larson, Abigail Moore, and Linda Krauss.” Spencer moved to sit on the edge of the desk in front of the doctor and kind of leaned over him. The twinge in his gut was becoming a full blown heat and Aaron didn’t know what to do. He’d only felt something like it once so long ago in a closet in a random house near the Georgetown campus. “The D.A. will put them on the stand and I’m going to personally bring these dolls in and we’re going to watch how they react.”

“Or,” Dave started his voice soft compared to the louder voice Spencer had been using. “You could tell us where your daughter is and we’ll tell the DA you cooperated.”

The rest of the time was posturing with the doctor. Aaron was the first out the door with Dave on his heels, Spencer was just at the edge of the door when the doctor shouted an address.

“You want to know how I figured you out? Those toys you take care of them.” Spencer pointed at the lower ones while he walked up to the desk again. “These ones you treasured. But you know what? The collection’s not complete. Where are they?”

Aaron supervised getting the dolls while he left Dave and Spencer in the SUV to wait on him. LEOs were meeting them to take the doctor into custody. Spencer had files open on the back seat of the SUV and Dave was watching him in the visor mirror. Now that he had the time, he could see that the revolver was the same one that he’d used to scare the shit out of Aaron. He wondered if this Spencer was from before Foyet being shot or after. He wasn’t going to ask.

“Hotch, do you mind if I take the lead in dealing with Samantha?” Spencer looked up at him as he got into the SUV driver seat. Aaron turned back to look at him and was about to make the comment that he couldn’t be a part of it since he wasn’t an FBI agent when he remembered the badge on his waist. What the hell had caused Spencer to come back to the FBI with his traveling in time issue? How was he doing that? There was the chance he could disappear on a case.

“Let the kid try. He’s had practice.”

Spencer’s head shot up to look at Dave. Aaron could see the anger in his eyes. There was something there in those eyes. He needed to distract him.

“I’m well aware that you probably looked me up, Agent Rossi but I would rather you spoke plainly or we shall see exactly who has the bigger stick.”

Aaron was shocked that those words had come out of his mouth. He turned back to the file. Aaron decided it was better to get to the house where Samantha was staying. If she had the women anywhere, that’s where they would be.

Aaron was loathe to send Spencer in there, but Dave had made a good point and it was obvious that whatever point in time that this Spencer came from, he was in the BAU. There would be some interesting reports to keep this out. He’d need to talk to the entire team. He also needed to ask Spencer if Blake knew exactly what his “health” issue was that kept him out of the BAU and the FBI.

When the call came for medics, Aaron wasn’t worried. He hadn’t heard a gunshot and Spencer sounded fine. Dave escorted Spencer out and they all three settled in at the SUV while the medics dealt with the captive women. Aaron was about to ask when Spencer handed over a picture to him. Aaron looked at it, and he saw that it was a group shot at some random police department. He could see black clothed cops while the team was all gathered around a whiteboard. Everyone on the team was looking at the camera, all seven of them. Spencer though was turned with his body facing the side, Morgan’s arm was around his shoulders, forcing his face to look at the camera. Aaron was standing on his other side a big smile on his face. That face was one that he knew only Spencer and Jack got.

“I’m actually still considered an inactive agent. I was kept on.”

“Who knows?” Aaron asked.

Spencer looked at Dave and sighed. “That I need to wait on but I know that I go home with you on the jet. Everything will be answered then.

“So I remember a young rookie who asked me once about a member in the BAU named Spencer. He looked downright upset when I told him that no one had ever worked in the BAU with a first or last name of Spencer. I’m guessing that you are that Spencer? Blake’s TA? Who has a set of credentials that list him as part of the BAU?”

“That would be me.”

“Hmm.” Dave just looked at him as the rest of the team pulled up in the second SUV. Prentiss, JJ, and Morgan stopped at the sight of Spencer standing there but Blake came right up to him, hugging him. When she asked a silent question, Spencer moved his hand to a thumbs up position and lifted his fist in the air. She nodded at him. Aaron was pretty sure that she had just asked him how old he was and he answered older which given the picture, he’d already figured that out. He handed the picture back over and Spencer tucked it back into his wallet.

“Hotch, we’ve been pulled back to Quantico as quickly as possible. The ADD wants us there. The LEO’s are going to fax us everything that we need. I have the jet on standby. He um…well he told me that we’d have a guest on the way home. Is Doctor Reid the guest?”

The questions waited until they were airborne and able to move around the cabin of the jet. Blake hadn’t been the only one to give a weird look when Spencer took a seat on the interior of one of the two seater sets and Aaron took the outside. When it came time for moving about, the team came to them. Spencer laid his gun and his credentials on the table. Morgan picked up the credentials and the clipped on ID that came out of his messenger bag that Aaron hadn’t realized he’d slipped into the SUV before he’d gone into Malcolm’s office.

“This has an issue date of today,” Morgan said as he set it back down.

“Yes. I know exactly who you think I am.”

“You’re Blake’s TA, Doctor Reid.”

“Yes and no. I’ve not been Blake’s TA for three years at this point in my life.”

“What do you mean? When I picked up Blake two weeks ago you were teaching her class.”

“Thirty?” Blake asked.

“Thirty-one.”

“But Doctor Reid is twenty eight,” JJ said.

Aaron looked at the team, seeing the slightly guilty looks on their faces. It was astounding how much the team had seemingly looked into him. The narrowing of Spencer’s eyes told him that he had caught on.

“When we land, you’ll have your proof, for now you will have to go on trust. I understand that for some, trust comes after a very long time.” Spencer looked at Morgan when he said that.

“I remember a case I worked. We had a near hysterical girl who we needed to get calm to ask her where her father took her mother before he raped and murdered her. Damnedest thing in the world, watching this little boy appear, naked as the day he was born, walk over to her and talk to her, he got her settled and she told us what we needed. After we’d come back with her mother, unharmed, the boy smiled at me and disappeared before my eyes. If Jason hadn’t seen it as well as many locals, I would have called myself crazy.”

“Sheila just needed someone closer to her age. She was eight, I was six.”

“How many members of the BAU did you stalk?” Aaron asked, sounding hurt even to his own ears. When Spencer looked at him with anger in his eyes, he wanted to take the words back.

“None. But the BAU is my future and I go on to big things, as I’ve told you before.”

“Before?” Blake asked. She looked between the two of them and then her eyes widened. “That’s Aaron. THAT’S Aaron?”

“That’s Aaron.”

“Who exactly is Aaron?” Dave asked. Spencer spared a glance at him.

“I popped in and out of BAU cases and will continue to do so until the last day that I travel.”

Spencer spent the rest of the trip avoiding answering personal questions by telling the entire team in length about the physics of how he travels, why he travels, how he’s able to get his clothes to go with him in the future but doesn’t drop off a bracelet to himself in the past. There wasn’t much that Aaron didn’t know about the slightly personal side, but the science behind it, as well who exactly was studying it the world over, was interesting. Aaron also got distracted by how happy Spencer seemed when telling the team all of it.

That was when it hit him exactly how lonely Spencer had to have been growing up with the home life that he did, throwing in his time travelling as well as his geniusness, he was a damn sight lonelier than Aaron had ever been. Aaron was lonely by his own choice. He connected when he wanted but Spencer, Spencer had only ever had him and a sick mother.

When the call was made that the jet was approaching, the team finally split back off to their seats. The team wasn’t quite believing Spencer’s story, and Aaron understood. He’d believed Spencer when they were younger, but there was an innocence to it all then. Now it was nothing like that. He’d also seen him come and go so many times by the time that Tristan had stopped coming around.

Aaron was the first off the jet and he was quite shocked to see the ADD with another Spencer standing at the bottom of the stairs. Aaron heard the halting of movement as each member stepped off the jet. Spencer was the last off. Aaron had his eyes on younger Spencer as the older one stepped out of the cabin of the jet. Down the steps he moved, and he looked at Aaron and smiled before stepping up to his younger self. The younger one started to smile and then gave a little wave and then the older one was gone. The remarks of surprise from the team, minus Blake, told Aaron that they hadn’t truly believed at all until that moment.

“I’d like to introduce you to Doctor Spencer Reid, he’s going to be joining your team. On paper, his start date was the start of the case so please do add him in your reports. Doctor Reid will give you all the rest of the breakdown, I have a meeting I need to get to.” The ADD waved and then was turning away. Aaron tried to meet Spencer’s eyes but every time he almost had it, he’d look away. The ADD stopped at the door of his car, turning back to them. “Analyst Garcia is hosting a very precocious young boy in her office at the current. Might I suggest going back to meet him?”

Aaron watched Spencer blush even more. That answered who the child was. There were two SUVs waiting for them. Aaron wondered exactly how the ADD had gotten the brass to sign off on another member for the team. That was eight now, if one included Garcia, and Aaron wholeheartedly did. He moved to the lead SUV and got in, waiting for the others to pick a vehicle and pile in. Morgan, Prentiss, and JJ chose the other one and Aaron waited. Watching Spencer’s face. The three that believed in him, knew of him were in one vehicle while the three still slightly skeptical ones were in the other.

Spencer stepped up to Morgan’s SUV and Aaron’s heart fell a little bit. He needed to corner Spencer before he left to figure out exactly what was wrong. Spencer had already proven himself a capable agent.

“He always talked about Aaron. Never more than just the first name but I didn’t picture anyone like you. So exactly when did you meet him? Your timeline, and how old was he?”

“I was five. It was the day that Sean was born. He was four. I’m sure that the rest can wait. The others will want to know as well.”

“You’ve been seeing Spencer as an adult?” Blake asked.

“Off and on and always just enough of a distance in time that I didn’t put it together, of course now I have. He’s popped in and out of my life as an adult and I didn’t know it.”

“Hmm,” Dave said. Aaron looked over at him when they stopped at a light. Dave had his thinking face on. “So…what exactly did Michaels do to get Reid into the building today?”

“What?” Aaron asked.

“Spencer runs things to me here but he makes sure that he’s in and out. He doesn’t want to run into some of the uppers. They took no for an answer when he quit just after graduation. I’m not saying that they would force him into the BAU but what kind of offer becomes an offer that can’t be refused?”

Aaron sighed as he pulled past the checkpoint onto Marine Base Quantico’s property. He was certain that Spencer might have been cornered but his addition to this case meant that this case was always the start of it. There was only a three year difference in ages between the Spencer that had so deftly taken Malcolm apart and the one that was in the SUV behind him. There would be bumps in getting him up to that but the ability to gage the situation when and where he could go when he traveled meant that he was good at profiling already.

The trip from SUV to sixth floor was long with seven people inside an elevator that didn’t know exactly what to say or exactly how to start a conversation. It was the quietest that Aaron had ever seen his team. The bullpen was empty when the elevator doors opened. That almost never happened except really late at night. There was the noise of laughing coming from inside the round table room. Aaron looked up to see Garcia sitting at the table with a boy beside her. He was sitting on the table his hands moving around like he was telling a story. When a hand tucked hair behind his head, Aaron saw that it was a five years old Tristan.

“Bossman, who is the cutie puttie? The ADD said you’d explain when you go here.” Garcia smiled at him as she spoke. Tristan didn’t turn to look at him. Instead he tucked his feet up onto the table and wrapped his arms around them. The clothes he was wearing fit him better than many of the things Aaron had on hand for him at the house. How had Michaels found clothes for him so quickly? “Bossman?”

“It’s fine, Garcia. He’s just a little shy.” Aaron kept his voice calm and centered. Tristan’s head shot up and looked at him. There was such relief in those eyes at finding a familiar face that Aaron couldn’t do anything but step up to the table. Tristan clambered to his feet and ran across the table, jumping into Aaron’s arms. He was like a monkey, wrapping arms and legs around him. His whole body was shaking and Aaron turned to Spencer.

“Hello, Tristan,” Spencer said. The boy turned his head to where it wasn’t buried in Aaron’s neck and he felt the boy relax all at once. His arms though held tight. It wasn’t hard to understand that he didn’t want Aaron to let him go. Aaron moved to a chair and with Spencer’s help sat down. As soon as he was seated, Tristan just seemed to pass out.

“What happened?” Aaron asked Spencer.

But Garcia thought that he was asking her. “I don’t know. The ADD brought him down and introduced me to him. He asked me to keep him entertained until you guys got back. He was fine until you showed up.”

“Tristan is very good at hiding. He was around a stranger and he can’t show weakness to strangers,” Spencer said. He pulled his own suit jacket off and draped it over Tristan. “I remember this well. The doctors are switching mom’s medicines. She’s in the middle of a three day episode. This is the third day. Day one I got out and went to spend the day with you at Hargrave. The second day I stayed out of the house. Dad’s at work right now and I just got out of school for the day. I came home to find mom throwing stuff and I just took off running.”

“Is he hurt?” Aaron asked. Spencer lifted the coat off and Tristan shifted and groaned. Aaron watched as Spencer raised the boy’s shirt to see a large bruise starting to form. He lowered the shirt back and covered him back up. Aaron petted the head resting on him. “Everyone this is Tristan.”

“I prefer Tristan for when I am younger,” Spencer said as he took the seat next to Aaron.

“Where did the clothes come from?” Aaron asked.

“The ADD keeps some on hand for me. I’ve appeared here a lot of over the years. That’s why I’ve never actually been classified as having quit. I’ve been on leave. I don’t get pay but I have ID so that I can move around the place.”

“You…The ADD has brought a boy to me before to watch him. I thought it was a nephew. This is you?” Garcia asked.

“Yes. This is me.”

“Why did he run to Hotch?” Prentiss asked.

“Because I’ve been traveling to Hotch since I was four.”

“I would assume that episode means schizophrenia?” Dave asked.

“Yes. Her episodes trigger my traveling more than anything else.”

“Yet, he didn’t recognize you the first time you met. And he’s not acted like this around you before,” JJ said.

“Tristan is my middle name. My mother traveled like I do before her schizophrenia started. It was a very high probability that I would travel as well. There is research done into it. I had a twenty percent chance of not having the gene that causes this. My children, if I choose to have them, would have a fifty-fifty. My grandkids would have a twenty percent chance of having the gene that causes it. The rest of the generations after would also carry the twenty percent chance. ADD Michaels had a great uncle who was the start, so there was no chance of the ADD having it but he grew up around it.

“How long do you stay?” Aaron asked as he shifted a little, moving the small body to lie on his other shoulder. “I ask because I am getting hungry and I thought pizza would be a good idea.”

“I stay through pizza,” Spencer smiled.

“So you visited adult Hotch as a kid?” Morgan asked. His voice was hard and Aaron looked at him. Trying to figure out what exactly was wrong.

“I have. I’ve visited and played with Jack and I also had a small stint as a pick-pocket in the streets of New York.”

“New…” Prentiss started to laugh as she looked at little Tristan and then back at him. “You were the one who nabbed Hotch’s wallet and did a runner with it!”

“Yes. That was me. He also got me to the hotel so that I could have at least one good night’s sleep. By that point in time, I’d been there two weeks. I needed the night’s sleep. He also cared for my wounds that I’d gotten before and after arriving in New York. Adult me has also visited Hotch a few times when he was a kid. But the majority of our visits took place when we were both under the age of eighteen, Morgan, and I don’t appreciate what that question meant.” Spencer was looking Morgan directly in the eye as the other man sat down at the table. The rest of the team took seats with Blake sitting on Spencer’s other side. There was a bit of tension that only stopped when Morgan was the first to look away. He was fairly certain he knew exactly where Morgan’s mind had gone and he was glad that Spencer took care of it.

“So you sort of grew up with bossman?” Garcia asked. Aaron wasn’t sure that he liked the look on her face.

“In a very weird fashion, yes.”

“Was he cute?” JJ asked.

Aaron groaned and turned his whole chair so that he was looking at Spencer. Spencer was steadfastly not looking at him though. A smile quirked his face and he laughed.

“I can’t be an accurate judge of that. He was my first and only real friend until I got older.”

There was something there that piqued Aaron’s memory. Then he remembered the bar and Dave and Ethan Marks. “Ethan Marks, the piano player. The ADD had Dave check on him when we were in New Orleans. There was a kid that came and played with him. Was that you?”

“Yes. I remember seeing you in the crowd but I didn’t come to you because I was afraid of you making me go home with you. Which in all fairness wouldn’t have helped.”

“Why not?” Prentiss asked.

“Spencer was born in Las Vegas and raised there,” Blake answered.

“And you appeared in Hotch’s backyard?” JJ asked.

“Mom spent her life going to England. Her best friend lived over there. She died when mom was twenty five. Distance really isn’t an issue.”

“Food?” Dave interrupted. Aaron had his back to him but the look on Spencer’s face said that he wasn’t upset. Aaron moved to stand up, and when he did Tristan woke a little bit. Aaron shifted him over to Spencer and the boy settled quickly.

“Do you want your pizza normal?” Aaron asked. Spencer nodded. Pizza was a common enough occurrence at the office and in the field that Aaron knew the other’s orders by heart. He stepped out of the room and placed an order for more than enough pizza.

When Aaron got back up to the room, Spencer was seated on the couch, holding a sobbing Tristan. He looked like he was trying to calm the boy down but the boy was having none of it. Aaron moved over and surprised both of them by just pulling Tristan out of Spencer’s lap right into his own. Tristan tried to fight him, but when he saw it was Aaron he settled down quickly.

“In my office is a copy of The Secret Garden. Fetch it for me would you?” Aaron asked. Spencer was up and moving before the words were fully out of his mouth and it was only two minutes before he was back in the room. It was a different copy than they had read as kids. That copy was still in the hideaway. This was a beautifully illustrated copy that Aaron never wanted to admit how much money he’d spent on it. He’d never told Haley, but given the look Spencer was giving him; he knew how much he’d spent on it. Tristan curled into his lap, head on shoulder and side of his body curled into Aaron’s front. The book was propped on Tristan’s stomach and the boy settled there and listened as Aaron started to read.

In the background he could hear the team talking, Spencer was talking about his life and about what to do when he disappeared and reappeared. He let their words go in one ear and out the other. When Tristan leaned up to look more at the book, Aaron knew he was settled. They’d made it about thirty pages into the book. The boy took the book from him and settled down on the couch with the book propped on his legs, reading. The team had stopped talking when he had so all of their eyes were glued on Tristan as he flipped through the book at an astonishing rate.

“You know, this is the event that settles that book as my comfort book right?” Spencer asked. Aaron only smiled as he moved back to the table to sit down. Tristan was more than content to sit and read. “It was a nightmare. Even I don’t remember exactly what it was about.”

“It’s fine,” Aaron said as he reached over and squeezed Spencer’s hand on top of the table.

“If any of you have objections now or in the future, just speak up.”

“So exactly who got Malcolm to confess to molesting his daughter?” Blake asked.

“That would be Doctor Reid, the other one,” Dave said with a smile on his face. “I knew that something was off about the room and I could tell that Aaron could as well. So Reid knocks on the door and comes in. He just apologizes and blames traffic. I’m shocked as hell to see him and the look on Aaron’s face is shock but there’s something more to it. Like it’s not a shock to see him but that it’s a shock to see something with him. That’s when I saw the gun and the badge. I knew that he hadn’t been reinstated and if Strauss had sent backup, she would have called.”

“He starts looking around the room. Actually moving around it and looking. He spots what we missed. There are kids’ toys all over but there are a select few that are up where no one can reach them.” Aaron looked at Spencer to see that he was blushing.

“Trophies,” Spencer said.

“Exactly. Although I don’t think he was expecting the jab about a jury of his peers being your lab.”

The rest of the team started to laugh and then the talk turned to smaller things. A call from security interrupted their talking. The pizza was there. Aaron took Morgan with him to go and get it.

“Get enough to feed an army?”

“Spencer dodged on exactly how long Tristan was going to be staying. I’d rather Tristan eat cold pizza than anything else if he’s here for a day or two if we get called out on another case.”

“You’d leave him in an apartment for days by himself?” Morgan asked, shocked.

“What do you think happens Morgan when he appears somewhere? That there’s a version of the family to take him in? We’ve seen him in New York, New Orleans, here in DC. At age nine he survived for two weeks on the streets of New York. An apartment with running water, TV, books, and handy food is not going to be a problem.”

“What if he’s hurt?”

“He’ll travel. The body fights and takes him home when he’s injured. If the pain is great sometimes he’ll pop somewhere else but he always ends up home for a long while. You don’t have to worry about him in my place or Spencer’s. Obviously whatever happens has already happened and look, he’s still here.”

Aaron had stopped second guessing himself when it came to a younger Tristan. He’d adopted the mentality that it had already happened and he lived so whatever he was doing had to be right. Morgan seemed to accept that.

It was hours later when the team had enough of their questions answered. Tristan had read through at least half of the books in Aaron’s office, having wandered that way to put up The Secret Garden after he finished it when he was done eating pizza and had just never come back out. Aaron had talked Spencer into coming with him to the house where no one would bat an eye at seeing Tristan.

Tom was outside when they pulled up, sitting in the backyard looking up at the sky, despite the weather of January. It was a clear night but the air was frigid.

“Aaron,” Tom greeted as he stepped close. Tristan bounded out of the back seat of the car and took off for the woods. “Where did you pick him up from?”

“He showed up at work.”

“I’ve not seen him that young in a while. I get a sullen ten year old most of the time. Eats like a bird.”

Spencer laughed and it was then that Tom seemed to notice him for the first time. Tom looked at him and just stared. Spencer smiled back at him and then waved. It took several seconds for the man to start to laugh.

“You had to have grown like a weed to go from that small to that tall.” Tom held out his hand and Spencer was hesitant but he shook it. Aaron felt a little upset that Tom had recognized him with no issue while Aaron never had.

“I grew very tall while in college. Spencer Reid.”

Aaron was a little shocked that he gave the name over so quickly, but then he was a part of Aaron’s life now on a near full time basis.

“The sprite’s not going to be staying the night here is he?”

“No. He’s already home. Ran to the hideaway and stripped the clothes off. They are in a pile to take back to the BAU.” Spencer patted Aaron’s shoulder and moved down the same path that Tristan had taken into the woods.

“So is that current him or a past…well you know what I mean.”

“It’s the current him. He’s on my team now.”

“Really?”

“He should have been for about six years now but with his issues, he had to step down. I’m sure that he’ll explain it to you more.”

“Have you two eaten dinner? I spent the day lounging and I was getting ready to make myself some soup.” Tom pointed in to where Aaron could see the kitchen light on.

“Yes, we ate pizza with Tristan. Go ahead in. You don’t need to entertain us. We’ll be gone before you go to bed I am sure.”

“Have a good night, Aaron. Tell the sprite the same.” Tom moved inside the house and Aaron watched him lock the door and set the new alarm. That had been installed only a few months before. He’d had one on it for years but it had been old and the threat of Foyet had him buy a new one. He’d wanted to make sure that Tom was as protected as he could be. He knew the man could fire a gun and there was a shotgun in his bedroom but he felt better with better security.

Aaron waited for Tom to get into the kitchen before he started back to where Spencer was. He moved to the hideaway but found it empty. He looked around and decided to go to the pond. There he found Spencer, sitting at the edge, looking at the frozen water. He slipped down beside him and pulled Spencer close, enveloping him in his warmth. Spencer settled there with no complaint.

“So…why didn’t you tell even Blake that this was coming?”

“I didn’t know it was. I knew I joined the team but no older me has told me when. Michaels called me and said that he had a younger me there that was upset. I came to settle him and that’s when older me called from a payphone. He told him that he was helping with the case and that he knew I was sitting in the office. There are a few addendums to me working but most of them are things that the FBI can’t do. It seems that I am not the first traveler that they have employed. I am the first on such an out there unit but Michaels wants this to work. Of course, we both know that it does.”

“What does your future partner think of the job coupled with your traveling? Do you know?”

“He takes it well. It gets frustrating, I’ve found out, but we work through it all.”

“So how many times have you visited him?” Aaron figured that Tristan would have gone to him growing up as well. He was a little put out that Spencer or Tristan hadn’t shared much with him about the man that would become a part of his life as well. Spencer was grown,but he could still see the friendship, the closeness there. He was never going to push him away from him, he wanted that friendship more than he wanted anything else. It would help fill in that hole in his heart nicely. He’d learn to like the man that Spencer was going to spend the rest of his life with, even if he had to keep his mouth shut about things that made him mad. He wasn’t going to lose Spencer.

Aaron had spent thirty years without him and only ten years with him but he’d become such a big part of his life in those ten years that Aaron could suffer whatever he needed to keep him close.

Summer 2010
Aaron was trying to raise Morgan when a call from him finally came through. He looked at the ID in shock for a second before he answered. He looked up at Spencer and nodded, letting him know that they finally got through.

“Morgan.”

“Sorry, Hotch, not Morgan,” Spencer said over the line. Aaron looked up again at his Spencer and found him standing there frowning at him. It wasn’t hard to figure out that a different Spencer was there with Morgan. “We have the UnSub in custody. Spicer, his sister, and daughter are fine. “

“Give us your address,” Aaron demanded. He’d made a deal with Spencer that he didn’t want to know when another him was going to show up on cases. It was better that way. Spencer rattled off where they were and Aaron wrote it down. He just looked at Spencer as he showed him the address. They were at the local station while the rest of the team was out and about with the rolling blackouts. “We will be there as soon as possible.” Aaron hung up the phone and looked at Spencer. “We need to get there as fast as possible.”

“Okay.” Spender grabbed his messenger bag and then they were off with two cars of locals behind them. Traffic problems with the blackouts made their path long and winding. Aaron though trusted that Spencer was getting them there. When they pulled up, Aaron laid a hand on Spencer’s thigh.

“Stay in the car.”

“Hotch?” Spencer asked. Aaron wasn’t used to being called Hotch by him. He wasn’t used to that word coming out of his mouth. “What’s wrong? You said that Morgan had the UnSub in custody.”

“He does. Him and you.”

“Oh. Uh, yeah. I’ll stay in the car.” Spencer pulled a book out of his messenger bag and then climbed into the backseat of the SUV. He laid down on his stomach on the seat, propping his book on the door and started to read. It was a book to do with physics. When he was sure that he was settled, Aaron got out of the car. Morgan and, who Aaron could tell was an older Spencer, came out of the house. Morgan had the UnSub while Spencer had a woman and a kid. Had to be Spicer’s sister and his daughter.

“Hotch,” Spencer said as the locals took the women from him, wrapping them in blankets and escorting them to cars. Spicer came out of the door next and he followed right behind them. Morgan let the locals take Flynn from them as well. “I appeared outside the house and I remember it from…” Spencer pointed at the SUV where the younger him was. “The curse of an eidetic memory. Makes it really great for cases. I know where I am as long as I pop into the past.”

“What did you hit him with?” Morgan asked.

Spencer laughed and ducked his head. The team had learned that it was his almost ashamed reaction to anything. “A physics text that I’m working on helping revise.” Spencer dove in his messenger bag and handed it over to Morgan. The book was at least a thousand, if not two, pages long. Aaron held out his hand and Morgan passed it over. He started to flip through it, seeing Spencer’s writing in the margins as well as a whole bunch of text that had been marked out. He couldn’t understand a word of it but still he felt a swell of pride.

“So how old are you?” Morgan asked.

“Thirty five. I’m from two thousand and seventeen.”

“Wouldn’t that make you thirty six?”

“No, it’s spring, I’m still six months away from my birthday. I’ll help Spencer write a report for this.” The young man grabbed the book from Aaron and then started off to the SUV. He opened the back door and the younger Spencer sat up, making room for him.

“How bad was it?”

“It was bad. He probably would have killed all four of us. I have never been so thankful as to see a member of this team. He was silent, more silent than I ever thought he could be.”

“He’s learned to be silent over the years. I looked at his file from the academy, he wasn’t the greatest at the physical stuff but he did well. Passing in everything. Hell, I didn’t know that he’s run since he was small. Don’t ask me how that has never come up. His marks in long distance running were almost better than yours.”

“What?”

“I had to sit and think but look at it this way, he had to be faster than those chasing him. As a kid he showed up naked in places, couple that with what he’s been exposed to from going to his own future, he’s going to make sure that he’s faster than anyone who will be chasing him or at least wily enough to get away from them. He can make himself downright small when he wants to fit into impossible places.”

“I don’t see a runner when I look at him.”

“I think it’s the clothes. He’s always cold here. Always. Even as a kid, he always went for long sleeves unless we were going swimming.”

“Him swimming, that I kind of need to see.”

“He’s good.”

“Did you teach him?” Morgan asked.

“Yes. God, he scared the crap out of me several times but he took too it quick for a desert kid.”

“How old was he?” Morgan pulled Aaron off to the side when the CSU team finally arrived and needed into the house. Aaron looked to the SUV to see the shadows of the two Spencer’s talking back and forth. With the way their hands were moving, they were not talking about the case. He watched as the younger Spencer leaned down, his whole body shaking. He was laughing. Aaron rubbed at his chest, an ache had set up there.

“Four. Taught him how to ride a bike too. His father wasn’t that interested in showing him things like that. He wanted him to play t-ball and other truly physical sports.”

“Poor, Pretty Boy.”

“What?” Aaron asked turning to look away from the Spencers to look at Morgan.

“You can’t tell me that…Hotch those hookers on the last case, they were not talking to him for his intelligence. I think that if they could have snuck off with him they would have. They wanted to spend the night with him. He’s lithe and his cheekbones. I’m straight but I can see what others would see in him. I know that you see him like a brother but Hotch man, he’s going to attract attention everywhere. Do you know anything about his sexual orientation?” Morgan sounded concerned and it was the only reason that Aaron was even thinking of answering. “Or anything about past partners?”

“He’s not talked to me about past partners but I know somethings about who he loves.”

“Loves? He’s taken?”

“Not yet. He hasn’t met his partner yet. He won’t tell me when or how many times he’s met him.”

“Him?” Morgan asked.

Aaron nodded. He hadn’t meant to let the gender pronoun slip in.

“And you are okay with sharing him with someone else?” Morgan asked.

“Yes, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Hotch, you act the quintessential over protective brother with him. The last two cases where we’ve had to double up, you’ve roomed with him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sharing with Rossi but it’s always been you two. JJ and Blake, me and Prentiss. We knew that something would change when we got another guy on the team, I just figured that I would be rooming with Pretty Boy. We’ve not said a thing because we can see how much you care for him. You can’t tell me you aren’t going to resent it when Reid brings in his partner after meeting him. I know that you two hang out after work a lot. I don’t see you becoming a third wheel.”

“This is not the time or the place for this.” Aaron looked around the area they were at. There were locals swarming the area. Morgan nodded and moved over to where the Spicer family was while Aaron moved to the SUV. The rest of the team would be there as soon as possible and then this case would be behind them. He’d make sure that JJ knew to set the jet for either a late morning departure or an early afternoon. All of them needed sleep.

Kurzbard came up to him. “Go get some sleep. We have the man in custody. You guys can do the rest of what you need tomorrow morning, whenever the hell you all wake up. I want to see Doctor Reid before he leaves. Thank him for saving the day.”

“Of course,” Aaron said and moved towards the SUV. He waved at Morgan at the same time he pulled his phone out to text the team to tell them all to meet at the hotel. Aaron climbed into the driver’s seat and waited for Morgan to get in before he drove off. The two Spencer’s were leaned over the text that older Spencer had cracked Flynn over the head with. He couldn’t understand a single word that the two younger men were saying, and the look on Morgan’s face the longer he listened to them told him that he didn’t either. The entire ride back to the hotel was filled with talk. Aaron was lulled into a sense of safety with it. The others were waiting outside when they pulled up. The Spencers flew past them with a wave, and then they were gone inside.

“And how was that car ride?” Dave asked as his eyes never left the retreating forms of the two younger men.

“Geek heaven. I pity Hotch. Kid’s from twenty seventeen if anyone wants to know that. Took the UnSub out with a big assed physics book. Clocked him right on the head.” Morgan was all smiles.

“Kurzbard told us to finish up in the morning. He’s got third shift taking care of everything. We need sleep so I wasn’t fighting him on any of it. JJ, have the pilot book us a late morning or early afternoon departure. That’ll give us enough time to pack things up and go.”

“Sounds good, Hotch.”

Aaron pushed through the doors into the hotel. He didn’t have to wait long for the elevator. He wasn’t sure what he was going to find when he got to the room but to find only one Spencer sitting on the bed wasn’t it, until he heard the shower running.

“He’s coming off a two week case in Texas in the middle of July. He was about to shower when he showed up here. He has no clue what time, as he wasn’t wearing a watch due to sweat,” his Spencer said as he slipped into the room. “We are going to share. We are pretty tired so we are going straight to sleep. After showers. You can go next if you want.”

“No, I’ll wait until you both are done.” Aaron started to ready his things. Spencer never took long showers on cases. By the time that he had his things ready for a shower, the Spencers were swapping. He kept his eyes away as Spencer moved around the room drying his hair before finally slipping a shirt on.

“We need to talk,” Spencer said as he plopped onto Aaron’s bed. Forcing Aaron to look him in the eye.

“Okay.” Aaron took a seat on the other side of the bed mimicking Spencer’s pose.

“I don’t usually tell what happens but in this case, it’s better if I do. JJ’s turned down a placement at the State Department. She thought that would be the end of it but it’s going to come down from on high and she’s going to have two options, go where they want or quit. She needs to quit.”

“What?”

“Look, I’m on the other side of all of this and I’ve seen what happens to the person they got to get her in there. I like JJ and we become good friends but she’s not equipped for what they want. Hell, they get someone who is equipped and still it goes pear shaped. If she hands in her resignation, the FBI will finally go to bat for her and keep her here. I don’t know if I’ve told you this before or not. But we can’t lose her. Not because of something like this.”

“When?”

“Before the next case.”

The shower shut off and Spencer moved back to his bed. He lay down on the far side and said nothing else. Aaron stood up with his change of clothes and shower kit as Spencer left the bathroom. Towel draped on his head but this one was fully dressed.

By morning, the older Spencer was gone but still Aaron just stared at his Spencer. The young man was dead asleep. Almost all of the team slept like the dead the night after a case was over. It was the rest of knowing that one didn’t need to get up early to catch a bad guy. The jet ride was filled with the team doing all of their post case rituals to purge the case from their minds. Aaron was working on paperwork so that he wouldn’t have to do much of it once he got back to the office. He wanted to get home so he could get the place cleaned up a little before he had Jack all weekend. Due to Haley having made plans when he went on the case, he wasn’t going to get him until Saturday morning but that was fine with him.

When he left for the night, Spencer was the only one left. Aaron wasn’t shocked, he was sitting as his desk reading case files. Aaron had tried to get him to go home early before but the younger man never did. He had a set amount of older files he wanted to read each week and case depending, he didn’t leave on Fridays until he was done. Aaron clasped him on the shoulder as he passed and waited for the wave at the doors.

As Aaron got ready for bed his thoughts filled of Spencer. He thought about his plans for the next day and how it would have been a good day to invite Spencer along. The younger man though had yet to go on an outing on the times that Aaron had Jack. He would always push off and say that it was time for him and his son, not him, his son, and the tagalong. Aaron hadn’t fought him on it yet. Spencer had met Jack as a kid but not as an adult and he wanted to fix that.

The only times that Haley had ever woken Aaron up with a blow job could be counted on one hand and happened in the months that directly followed their marriage. So when he felt a hot, wet mouth on his cock, Aaron knew he had to be dreaming. He thrust up into the mouth and sighed in happiness. He’d had sexual dreams more in the recent years than he ever had before. Still, he wasn’t going to say no.

Hands ghosted up his thighs and curled before nails dragged down the skin of his stomach. He arched farther and the mouth on him pulled away. Aaron cried out, but then he felt the person who had been sucking him shift. The blanket on him moved with them and then he felt a tighter heat slip down his cock. He lifted his hands to pull the covers off of him and his bed partner but stopped when his partner started to move.

Instead of pulling the blankets off, Aaron shifted his hands to slide them under the blanket. He felt knees and then thighs and then a tight stomach. The cock that brushed his fingers wasn’t as big of a shock as it could have been. Aaron knew that he’d been dreaming of males for a while now. He remembered the closet in college and the classmate of his that he’d scared. He’d never figured out who the man had been but he really hadn’t looked either. While being gay or bi wouldn’t bat too much of an eye at the time, back then it would have.

As his partner brought him closer and closer to orgasm, Aaron wanted to see who he was imagining. The body moved forward but instead of the blanket coming off, Aaron was enveloped in it. It was dark and he couldn’t see but still his partner found his lips. Aaron tilted his hips up so that he could still thrust in and out of the man. Harsh breathing and the sound of slapping skin were the only sounds that he heard. He could smell their mixed sweat and the scent of sex. An arm around the waist and Aaron rolled them over, hearing the bark of laughter from the man he was fucking. Knees tucked up to his chest and Aaron moved inside him faster and faster. Lips sought out his again and the only thing that Aaron could do was brace one arm on the bed and bury the other in hair. He expected short hair but instead he found long hair.

Mouth jerked away from his and Aaron heard harsh panting, the body below his was tensing up and Aaron waited, keeping the same pace in the same spot.

“Aaron, please. Aaron.” The voice was familiar so Aaron let go of the hair his hand was tangled in and reached up to pull the covers off them. A mess of brown hair was the first thing he saw and then familiar eyes. He tried to stop because if he stopped it wasn’t true. Aaron felt shock as he stared into Spencer’s eyes.

Jerking awake, Aaron felt himself come. He sat up in bed and ran a hand down his face, trying to come to terms with his dream. It had felt so real, even though he’d known it wasn’t. There had been a point in time in life, before his father’s death, and the time just after, that he’d thought things like that. He thought about how he wanted Tristan in his life always. He’d put away those childish thoughts, but it seemed that it was still there in the back of his mind.

Needing a shower, Aaron stood up, his release cooling in his sleep pants. He looked at the clock. It was over two hours before he’d have to get Jack. He threw his clothes into the hamper before stumbling into the shower. He was fucked and he knew it. Spencer was taken. No matter that he and his partner weren’t together yet.

Spencer had been talking about his partner to a victim a few cases back. Aaron hadn’t been around for the start of it but he’d come in on it. When the victim had been settled and taken away by her mother, Spencer had turned and smiled at him.

“So when are you finally going to meet this man?” Aaron had asked when they were finally alone.

Spencer’s smile had turned even bigger and brighter and even now thinking of it made his heart swell and then start to hurt. “He’s the only one I’ve ever loved and I don’t mind waiting for him, Aaron. I know we are going to be together for a long time, so the wait is worth it.”

Aaron hadn’t known what to say to that so he’d gone back to the outer office of the police station. He’s felt that sure once before and he’d lost it. His heart had hurt then and he’d thought it was over the loss of Haley but he knew the truth now. He thought about Morgan and his asking him how he was going to take Spencer being with the man he was going to settle down with. It felt like shit and Aaron hadn’t even met him yet.

Slamming his fist into the tile of his shower, Aaron thought about how he’d never had him to begin with. There wasn’t a thing he could have done to keep him. Spencer had been meeting with his future partner at the same time he’d been meeting with Aaron. Aaron’s heart felt raw as he rinsed off and then dried off. He looked at the time and he knew he needed to get going so he could get something to eat and coffee.

Jack was so excited for a day at the zoo with Aaron. It was lovely weather for it. Aaron dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Something that he didn’t get to wear enough. When Jack had seen what he was wearing, he wanted to change into jeans and a t-shirt as well. Haley had laughed the entire time. Aaron’s shirt was a pale green color and Jack had picked a dark purple shirt that had a red dragon on it. Jack’s favorite place was the zoo so it was never an issue wanting to go there. At the zoo, Aaron’s work didn’t intrude. He kept his eyes out for people who would want to take Jack, but he did that all time. He didn’t see death and destruction everywhere though.

Aaron parked in the farthest spot from the gate. He picked Jack up and carried him on his shoulders as they got closer to the gate. Aaron had chosen the zoo because there was a new attraction that had opened last week. The Polar Landscape. It had polar bears, arctic foxes, a few new kinds of penguins, and a few other animals. It was really nice looking from the pictures that Aaron had seen in the paper and in the email the zoo sent out. For first thing on a saturday morning, it wasn’t that busy yet and Aaron was thankful. It wasn’t long before they were paying to go into the zoo behind a family of five.

Just inside, was a stand where a jug of water could be bought and Aaron stepped up to it. He was behind another person and it wasn’t until he heard him tell the worker thank you that Aaron recognized who it was. Spencer.

Seeing him there brought back all kinds of memories of his dream. He felt himself start to harden and shifted to hide it as Spencer turned around. his eyes scanned everywhere before looking at Aaron. Those eyes widened in shock and Aaron couldn’t help but smile back when the younger man smiled at him with a largest grin in the world.

“Aaron,” Spencer said.

“Spencer.”

“Daddy, who is he?” Jack stage whispered in his ear. Spencer’s smile turned different and Aaron wasn’t sure what to think of it.

“Jack this is Spencer Reid, he’s new to my team. Spencer, this is Jack.” Aaron couldn’t help but smile when Jack held out his hand to be shaken by Spencer. One day, when Jack was older, Aaron would explain to him that Tristan and Spencer were the same.

“But all of your team calls you Hotch. He called you Aaron. And you called him Spencer, not Reid.”

Spencer cocked an eyebrow up at Aaron. Aaron could only smile.

“Sometimes Jack, you are too smart for your own good. I’ve known Spencer since he was little. So, when we are not at work we call each other by our first names.”

“Oh.” Jack moved around a little and Aaron couldn’t tell what he was doing but he tightened his hold on the boy’s legs to make sure that he didn’t fall. “Did you come alone?”

That explained the movement, he was looking around for someone else.

“Yes, I did. I wanted to see the new exhibit. I love zoos and I didn’t get to go to one as much as I would have liked as a kid so I go to all kinds of zoos now that I am an adult.”

“That’s cool. Do you want to go around with us?” Jack asked. Aaron sighed and was about to open his mouth to make sure that Spencer knew that he didn’t need to. That it wasn’t something he felt he needed to do. There was a look though on Spencer’s face that seemed he was more than happy to go around with them. Jack started to wiggle and Aaron set him down on the ground. The boy grabbed Spencer’s hand and moved over to towards the map of the zoo pulling him along. “Where do you start?”

“I don’t have a set way that I go. I always end at the aquarium though.”

Jack gasped. “That’s where we end as well!”

“Well then, do you want to see the new exhibit first or something else first?”

Aaron listened as the two of them plotted out exactly where they wanted to go from first to last. Jack grabbed for one of the paper maps but Spencer crouched down and put it back.

“We don’t need that. I have a memory that doesn’t allow me to forget what I see. That means that I memorized this map after the first time I saw it. So if you want, I can lead us all around and not need a map.”

Jack looked at Spencer like he was the next best thing and Aaron’s heart contracted. He thought about how good a dad Spencer was going to be to his partner’s child.

“While you guys finish up the plans, I’m going to get some water for Jack and I.”

Spencer nodded and Jack didn’t even react. Aaron kept an eye on them though as he bought a large jug of water. It had a curved bit in the jug so that it could be carried easily with one finger or more. He made sure it was full of ice before leaving. Spencer had one as well and Aaron saw that he didn’t have his messenger bag on him. There was a lump in his pocket. It took Aaron a few seconds to figure out that it was probably a camera.

There was no way that he was going to tell Jack that Spencer couldn’t go around with them so he’d have to make sure that he kept his reactions down. Spencer wasn’t dressed any different than normal; slacks, button up, and a pair of purple Converse. Still, Aaron couldn’t take his eyes off of him. He knew he was screwed. It was like that single dream had opened his eyes. He’d blinded himself so long ago. Spencer turned to him as he walked up with the water for him and Jack.

“Your dad is ready, Jack. Are you?” Spencer stood up and was shocked when Jack grabbed his hand and then reached out for Aaron’s. Spencer let Jack lead the both of them to where they were going to start.

By the time that they broke for lunch, they had visited half of what Jack wanted to see. There was no way they were going to get to see the whole zoo, but Jack never wanted to see it all in one go. Today they seemed to be hitting all the aquatic things.

Jack spent nearly half an hour playing with a family of otters who swam back and forth while he was running to and fro in front of the glass. It was right after lunch so Aaron was more than willing to sit a little longer and let his food digest. Spencer took the seat next to him on the bench. They were closer than convention would say was normal, but not as close as they usually sat. Aaron wondered why and then he saw the woman staring at them. She was older and seemed to be there with her granddaughter. The granddaughter was on her phone and not really paying attention to anything going on around her.

The feeling of weight around his shoulder pulled Aaron’s attention from the woman and her granddaughter to Spencer who had leaned back, draping his left ankle over his right knee. He could have set his arm on the back of the bench but instead had placed it on Aaron. The smirk on his face told Aaron that he was doing it to upset the lady. A few seconds later, when Spencer didn’t move and Aaron didn’t shove his arm off, the lady was grabbing the granddaughter’s arm and pulling her away.

When they were gone from sight, Spencer started to laugh.

“You are horrible,” Aaron said with a laugh of his own. He kept waiting for Spencer to remove the arm but the younger man never did. “So, are you still liking the job?”

“Oh, yes. Some parts are better than others but a few things make up for the bad parts.”

“Like what?” Aaron asked.

“Seeing families reunited when we save the day. Listening to Morgan and Garcia doing whatever the hell you call what they do.”

Aaron laughed hard and leaned into Spencer more. It was a warm day but Aaron had to hold back shivers at being close to Spencer like this. The younger man curled his arm and his fingers started to brush up and down Aaron’s arm maddeningly.

“Working with you.” The words were full of warmth and happiness and Aaron just hummed in response. He didn’t want to say anything that would break the spell of the moment. The scent of Spencer was different than he remembered it. There was something more to it and he couldn’t place it. He watched Jack as he tried to play what looked like patty cake with the otters for a few minutes before the boy turned to look at them.

“I’m ready to move on,” Jack said.

Aaron stood up and held out a hand to help Spencer stand up. The younger man took the hand and when Aaron settled it on his elbow once they were up, he didn’t pull away. Aaron celebrated inside. He’d take what he could get between now and when Spencer became unavailable. He tried to imagine the man that Spencer was going to spend the rest of his life with. Spencer’s own words said that whoever it was stayed with him, so he was able to live with the job. When he tried to picture him though, all he could see was himself. Shaking his head to clear it, Aaron saw they were headed towards the new exhibit. There was a large glass tunnel with the two polars bear swimming above it. Jack wanted up on Aaron’s shoulders so he had to let go of Spencer to be able to carry him. He couldn’t reach the glass but he could see the bears a lot closer.

The chatter between Jack and Spencer carried him through the rest of the exhibits that Jack wanted to see before they finally entered the aquarium. It was actually a giant building filled with so many different large tanks. There was one massive one that housed many types of fish, but there were smaller ones all around as well. The shark tank always kind of frightened Jack a little. He stayed in Aaron’s arms when they stopped to look at it. The touch tank was the draw of the kids but Jack had never felt the need to go back to it after the first time he’d touched a lot of the creatures.

Jack pulled on Spencer’s arm until they got to the main room. He kept going until they stopped in front of the first section of the massive tank. Aaron stayed behind them, listening as Spencer named each fish that Jack pointed out. It was nice to have Spencer with him. They would have to make plans to go again to see the rest of the zoo with him along. He knew a lot more than the signs did about each of the creatures. When they moved down to the next section, Spencer sat down and Jack took the seat beside him. Aaron let his gaze wander around for a while and it wasn’t until Jack gasped that Aaron looked back. It was a shark, a small one but still a shark and it had swum up to the glass. Jack was in Spencer’s lap, a leg draped on either side of Spencer’s legs. One of his arms was wrapped about Jack’s stomach, making sure he couldn’t fall, even though the distance of the fall would be nothing to him.

Aaron thought about the son that Spencer was missing out on things with. How old was he going to be when Spencer finally found them? In the correct timeline? Aaron moved to crouch behind him. Jack was silent for a moment and it would be a good time to ask him when he was going to meet his would be son, but then he took in the look on Spencer’s face. He was so happy at that moment. It had been a long time since that look had been seen on his face. The closer Tristan had gotten to ten, the more sullen he had gotten, between not being able to see Aaron as much and the impending leaving of his father. He didn’t want to interrupt them and make that look go away.

Jack leaned forward and the hand on his stomach stretched to allow him to wave his little fingers at the fish that had come up to the glass. Spencer ducked his head down and Aaron could have swore that he heard a hard intake of breath like he was almost smelling Jack. Then when Jack leaned back up, Spencer’s head came up and Aaron saw something on his face that he had never seen outside of Tristan talking about his mother. He’d categorized it as pure love long ago. Aaron couldn’t look at it fully anymore. He turned to the tank in front of him but kept an eye on Spencer from the corner of his eye and after Jack was fully settled, Spencer looked at him, the look no less full of love but also full of heat.

Aaron’s mind raced and he thought about it. Every single time that Aaron tried to press for more on his partner, Spencer clammed up. He’d admitted to visiting him but would never tell Aaron when or how many times he had. Every single little slip that Spencer had made to the team and even to him about the elusive partner fit Aaron, and a lot of other men. He couldn’t ignore that look though.

Spencer wasn’t looking at him anymore so Aaron looked at him. Yes, Tristan had said that he loved big him and little him but the words of a child were overreaching. Spencer had shown up and saved Haley’s life. Tristan had shown up to help protect Jack. Time and again, they were there when Aaron needed them.

It was him. Every single time that Spencer talked about the man he was going to be with, he’d been talking about him. He’d been so fucking stupid. So goddamned fucking stupid. Aaron wanted to rush over and kiss him. Wanted to do all kinds of things with him but they were in public. There was also the job to consider. Spencer wouldn’t want to leave the team and there was no way that Aaron was going to. The younger man had never exactly told him about what the future partner did. He wasn’t sure what he wanted now that he knew that he could take.

The pair standing up distracted Aaron from his musings and he looked at Spencer and smiled at him. Spencer smiled and it was the same smile as always. The same one he’d always gotten. He felt so stupid. How could he ever think that Spencer would care that much about anyone else? When they sat down in front of the final bit of the tank, Aaron made sure to sit down next to Spencer. Jack still sat in Spencer’s lap and Aaron was fully okay with that. This might have been the first time that they met with Spencer in the right timeline but he could already tell that Spencer loved Jack and that was perfect for him. He wrapped an arm around Spencer pulling him in close and let the happiness wash over him.

They would figure it out. They had to. He’d let it all take it’s course. He had Spencer here now, and for now that was enough. There wasn’t some dark man in their future to steal him away. He was Aaron’s and Aaron was his.

October 2010
While Aaron hadn’t had sex with a man, he’d looked it up. Therefore he wasn’t surprised when his dreams turned more and more erotic. He was waking up having to change his bed clothes and sleeping pants more often than not. Impossible dreams of him and Spencer having sex anywhere and everywhere. His office, the round table room, the SUV while on a case. It was all well and good but he was getting more and more wild with the dreams.

So, dreaming of Spencer sucking him off in bed was something that kind of shocked him. He could feel the familiar wet heat on his cock and reached down to grab at hair. It wasn’t what he wanted but he would allow Spencer to suck him until he got close. He wanted lips. He wanted touching.

The only reference that he had for what sex between two men was like was what he’d found on the Internet, he’d stayed away from commercial porn and had found homemade things, other things like it. Thankfully, Garcia had shown him how to wipe his browser history a long time ago. It made it better that the evidence of what he’d done wasn’t on his computer.

Spencer shifted and Aaron tried to pull him up but he fought the pull on his hair and then was near swallowing him. Hands held him down or he would have thrust up into the heat. Tightness around the head of his cock had him ever closer to orgasm. He knew that he had a good imagination but he’d never thought that he could imagine this much pleasure. A finger slid back between his cheeks and Aaron felt wetness on it. The finger didn’t slide inside of him, just moved up and down his crack. The other hand was still holding him down but he wanted it. He wanted it to so bad. When the finger was over his hole, Aaron tried to push down on it. A chuckle from Spencer had Aaron seeing stars as he came, the vibrations on his cock too much.

The swallowing of his release was too much. He tried to pull away but the hand slipped back to hold him down better.

“It’s okay, Aaron. Calm down. Aaron?” Spencer asked.

It wasn’t fuzzy like a dream. The hands that were sliding up his body felt solid and real, Aaron wondered exactly how vivid his dreams were going to get. He could smell Spencer’s shampoo. He wasn’t going to open his eyes. If he opened his eyes then it was going to be over. The weight on him shifted and Aaron felt a hard cock along his thigh. Spencer’s hands were rubbing on his chest, trying to help him settle.

“Fuck,” Spencer said in a tone that Aaron had never heard before and he opened his eyes. What he saw was not his Spencer. What he saw was a naked Spencer with shorter hair than his own and a tattoo on his chest. “You are not my Aaron.”

“No.” Aaron was shocked he was able to speak. It hadn’t been a dream. He’d been given a blow job by an older Spencer. He looked at his face and tried to gage exactly how old he was. The freak out about what exactly all of this meant could wait until Spencer was gone.

“How old is your Spencer?” Spencer wasn’t getting up off the bed. He was naked and while his erection had fled a little, Aaron could tell that he was still at least half hard. Before Aaron could answer, Spencer looked around. He looked at the bedside that Aaron didn’t have his things on and his eyes widened. The younger man scrambled backward off the bed and started to grab at clothes. Aaron could see the leather wrist band on his arm. Sleep pants and a t-shirt were thrown on before Spencer turned around to face him.

“I…” Aaron rubbed a hand down his face. He wanted to reassure the Spencer that everything was fine but he couldn’t. Was it considered cheating? What the hell was future him going to think? Hopefully he remembered exactly what night it had happened on and that he wouldn’t get mad. “Spencer just turned twenty nine.”

“So you aren’t together yet?” Spencer asked, a little frightened.

“No, but I know that we will be. I kind of worked that out a few months ago, I’ve just been waiting for the right time.” Aaron smiled and only then realized that he was still naked. He grabbed the blanket that Spencer must have pulled off him and threw it over his lower half. The genius moved towards the bed and sat down on the end of it. “Want to help me on what exactly the right time is?”

“You’ll know it, I promise.”

Aaron looked at him. Really looked at him. His eyes were haunted and there were such dark circles around them. Spencer always had circles around his eyes but this was a lot worse than normal. This wasn’t in the middle of a case Spencer. This was a troubled Spencer. What exactly was happening in his time? Something caught his eye and he saw a cut on his throat. He moved forward on the bed and reached out to touch it. Spencer didn’t back away and he allowed it.

“What happened here?” Aaron asked. It wasn’t a neat cut like one would see from a knife. It was like something had ripped at his skin.

“We had a bad case. Kind of shook all of us to the core. I fell asleep on the couch because it’s better. My Aaron is having nightmares. The case hit him hard, but I don’t want to go into it too much.”

“Why are you sleeping on the couch?” Aaron settled a hand on Spencer’s knee, rubbing and trying to settle him.

“He’s having nightmares. This.” Spencer waved at his throat. “Is from me touching him and him freaking out. His nail did it. He was so upset that he tried to sleep on the couch but it was making the nightmares worse so we swapped. I don’t like to sleep alone in a bed so I wasn’t getting any sleep. I tried the guest room but it failed too.”

“What is he dreaming about?” Aaron could tell that Spencer was tired. That he was fading fast. He wondered if that was an effect of being here with him, a safe Aaron.

“He won’t talk about it. All I know is that it’s something about a scratch, which he was saying before hs gave me this and when he allows the dream to get far enough, he screams about ‘Spence is down.’ I don’t know how to help him and I’m so tired. I took a nap today instead of eating lunch. I slept on the couch in Morgan’s office.”

“Can I see that tattoo?” Aaron asked, trying to distract him at least a little. He couldn’t help, as it seemed the entire nightmare he was going through was based on a case that Aaron hadn’t worked yet but he could try and help this Spencer. The younger man lifted up the shirt to show the tattoo to him. It was a simple design with their initials making a circle. He wondered when Spencer had gotten it and if he had a matching one but he didn’t want to ask about it. “I’ll be right back.”

Aaron got up from the bed and moved to the bathroom to clean up a little and get dressed in at least sleep pants. When he exited the bathroom a few minute later, Spencer was lying down on the bed, curled into a ball dead center. He looked almost asleep. Aaron coaxed him into shifting to one side of the bed and then covered him up, slipping in behind him. Spencer tried to act like a board and stay stiff but as Aaron wrapped his arms around him and held him close, he relaxed more and more.

“I’m not him and I’m not trying to be but you need sleep.”

“I’m dead tired. It’s the first time I’ve ever traveled and didn’t know it. I thought I was back at home. You were in bed jerking off and I hoped that intimacy would help. That he could see that I was fine and that it was all good. But it wasn’t him, it was you.”

“Shush,” Aaron said as he pulled the covers up a little higher. Spencer huffed a little so Aaron released him. He was shocked when the younger man rolled him over and pressed his back into the bed before cuddling up to his side. He draped his arm across Aaron’s chest and then laid his head on his shoulder. He exhaled and all the tension in his body was gone. Aaron waited until he was sure that Spencer was asleep before he allowed himself to sleep.

It felt weird waking up alone in bed. He rolled onto his stomach into the spot where Spencer had been and inhaled. The man’s scent was on the pillow and he knew it would be on him as well. He settled down and sighed. He knew he needed to get up. His alarm hadn’t gone off yet but he knew there was a chance for a case in Detroit, if the city could decide to invite them in or not. It was also very near Halloween and he knew that Jack had picked out Spider-Man as his costume. He was looking forward to going out trick or treating with Haley and Jack.

As he got ready for work, he thought about Spencer and hoped that the older him was able to break through whatever hang up that Aaron was having. He wanted them to work it out, for their own sake. For Aaron to not be talking about it meant it had to be horrible. He talked to Spencer and Tristan about everything. He was sure that by that point in time Spencer knew everything that he’d faced with Haley. The words that Spencer spoke kept going through his head. ‘Spence is down’ could only mean that in the nightmare he saw Spencer die. Just that thought had his heart aching. He couldn’t imagine a future without Spencer in it. To be alone.

Looking forward to going into work, Aaron wanted to see his Spencer. To see happy, unhaunted eyes. He’d never gotten the actual age of that Spencer out of him but he didn’t look too much older. He figured five years at max.

The bullpen was filled with various people when Aaron got there but there was no Spencer. He was a little disappointed. JJ handed him the paperwork for the case in Detroit. The team had been called in.

Chatter in the bullpen went up and Aaron looked out to see Spencer coming in with Prentiss and Blake, a monster mask on his head. Aaron had to hold in the laugh but he couldn’t control the smile on his face. JJ looked at him and then followed his gaze, smiling as she saw him.

“He’s made you happier, Hotch. I’ve never seen you this happy.”

“I’ve not been this happy in a while,” Aaron admitted. JJ patted his shoulder and then moved to call the team into the round table room. He wasn’t shocked when Spencer described Devil’s Night to the whole team. He remembered most of it from when Tristan had talked about it when they were younger. The whole team was shocked by exactly how much Spencer liked Halloween.

Aaron was able to keep himself professional, or at least as professional as he always was when it came to Spencer, up until they were on the jet home. Spencer fell asleep with a book propped on his lap. Blake had laughed when she took the book from his hands and set it inside his messenger bag. Aaron hadn’t been able to stop looking at him. He knew that he’d been allowing his fears to guide him the past few months. Ever since the zoo, he’d pulled back some from Spencer. he’d been so happy that day. Then, the thought that he didn’t have a choice in the matter popped into his head and he tried to fight it. The thought that his future was already mapped out had scared him. That nothing he did could change it.

The thing was though, that he wasn’t happy, and he knew it. Denying what he wanted wasn’t making him happy and it was hurting Spencer. There were a lot of things that he needed to figure out. He needed to talk to Strauss to see exactly what the terms of Spencer being on the team were. The ADD had told him that when he was ready he needed only ask her and the file would be given to him. He resolved that he would look at the file and then see about asking Spencer out on a date.

Letting his mind go there, he thought back to his abrupt wake up call with the older Spencer. It had felt wonderful and he was happy that it hadn’t gone any farther, that he hadn’t stayed asleep through more. He wasn’t sure exactly what Spencer had been planning but he wanted to be awake for their first full time together. Words that Spencer had said came back to him. That his partner was the only man he loved. There was something that Aaron found thrilling about the thought that Spencer was probably a virgin. Haley and him had both been their first time. That had gone better than he expected. The thought of being Spencer’s first and Spencer being the first guy he was with was intoxicating. He felt himself start to harden and shifted the file from the table into his lap.

Aaron pulled himself from those thoughts as quickly as they started. He needed to not get a hard on while on the jet. Discretely, he looked around to see if anyone had been looking and was happy when they hadn’t been. Grabbing his cell phone, he texted Haley. Now that his mind was made up, he needed to talk to her. He was going to be introducing someone new into Jack’s life in a more than friends capacity and he felt that he needed to tell her this. First Strauss, then Haley and then Jack. He had his plans. It wasn’t long before Haley texted back that he was more than welcome to come over for dinner. He told her thanks and then set his phone aside to focus on the paperwork he needed to get done before he could slip away to meet her for dinner.

Strauss was in her office when the team arrived back at Quantico. He’d already finished most of his work that had to complete before the end of the day, he’d even brought up to Strauss what he needed to.

“Agent Hotchner, what can I do for you?”

“ADD Michaels told me that when I was ready, I could look at the file for the full terms of Reid being on the team. I would like to do that.”

“Of course.” Straus stood up from the desk and moved over to the wall safe that she had. It was open but given that it was a work day, Aaron wasn’t shocked. He watched as she pulled out a manila envelope. The security level on the front astounded him. He looked and saw that there were only two exceptions and they were himself and Spencer. He looked at Strauss.

“You are not included in that?”

“There is only a single clause of his hiring that I am not privy to. I was told that it was deeply personal and wouldn’t affect his job so I am going on that for now. That is your copy. Burn after you read, give it back to me, or hide it in your office, I don’t care. It’s not allowed to leave the building though.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.” Aaron stood up with the folder in hand and left the office. He believed her that she felt it was personal and didn’t affect the team, but how did she feel that he would have access to it and she didn’t? When he got to his office, he closed the blinds and shut the door. Everyone would knock with the blinds and door shut so he wasn’t worried about locking it. Instead he sat down on his couch and opened the folder. The seal was easy to break and he pulled out the first set of paper. It looked like a standard contract but there were several addendums on it. How to handle absences and other things related to his travel. The exact protocols that he followed when he did disappear. How to go about giving them a heads up when he was gone for long periods. When he went to the past, it was easy but when he went to the future there was no way. There were a few instances several years in the future written down on the margins of the paper, he recognized Spencer’s scrawl.

There was a sheet of paper that was written by the Director of the FBI allowing him to quit for any reason at any point in time and not have to give a reason. Aaron wondered about that one. On the back of it was a sentence written in green ink that told him it hadn’t been photocopied. There are papers like this in all the files of the travelers who work for the Bureau. That told Aaron there were more than just Spencer. He’d always wondered. The research that Spencer spoke of told him that there were more travelers in and about the world, but he was shocked that so many were open, and that it seemed several worked with the government. He settled down with the final sheet of paper in the envelope. It was folded in half, and there was another handwritten note. I need you to be sure before you open this and look at it, Aaron. While you don’t have a memory like mine, you can’t unsee this once you see it. This had to be the personal thing. The thing that Strauss wasn’t able to look at.

The lawyer in him knew what he was seeing. It was a contract. Between Spencer and the FBI with a spot for Aaron to sign. The top of document was where Spencer had signed and it spoke of careful wording. The bottom where there was a spot for Aaron to sign was plainer. It was a contract between Spencer and the FBI giving them the right to a relationship of a sexual nature. Of the ability to move in together. The bottom was for when he and Spencer did start something, his agreement in the terms. There was a post-it telling him that he was ready for that he just needed to go see Michaels to sign the original.

The visit to the ADD was quick, as he was in between meetings, but Aaron signed it and Michaels’ secretary signed as witness. He was in and out in five minutes, left with nothing left to keep him at work. He’d done all his paperwork. He found he just wanted to get to the apartment and change before having dinner with Haley, then taking Jack out trick or treating. It was Halloween and he was looking forward to Jack in his Spider-Man costume.

Pulling up outside of the house, Aaron thought about that day, when he’d figured out who Spencer was. Haley had debated long and hard about moving but Jack hadn’t wanted to and after speaking with a therapist and seeing that Jack was doing fine in the house, it was decided that they would stay. He sat in the car and looked at the house. He saw Haley pull back the curtain and watch him for a moment before she closed it. A minute later the door opened and she was coming towards him. He waved her into the passenger seat of the car.

“You look like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.”

“I can never regret what we had together, Haley. It gave us Jack.”

“I wondered when we were going to have this conversation. You’ve been pensive the past few months and yet happier at the same time. So…name?”

“Spencer.” Aaron laughed as he said the name. He wasn’t shocked. She could read him well. “His name is Spencer.”

“Jack adores him. Every time the zoo is brought up, he starts to talk about him. I wondered. Jack said that you hadn’t made plans to meet him but you spent the day with him and Jack regardless.”

“He does make me happy. I think…no. I know that I love him.”

Haley looked at him. Her eyes searching his face. Whatever she was looking for she had to have found it. “Tristan.”

“That’s what he called himself when I met him when we were younger. It’s his middle name. He liked it better back then.” Aaron didn’t like lying to her but he couldn’t betray Spencer like that. He needed his permission to tell her. “He’s also the newest member of my team.”

The silence was a shock and Aaron looked at her expecting to see anger. All he saw was acceptance.

“He’ll understand the job and the hours better than I ever could. What about if it’s found out? Isn’t there a risk of losing your job?” Haley asked.

“It’s worth it.” Aaron looked away from her as he said it. He didn’t want to see the hurt in her eyes. He wouldn’t leave the BAU to make her happy but he was more than willing to lost his job over Spencer. While she didn’t need to know that there was no risk, he needed her to understand what this meant to him. What Spencer meant.

“I thought that was what you were going to say. You don’t do things by half. If he wasn’t worth it, you would never start something with him. I just didn’t expect it to hurt this much. I always worried. You only talked about things you didn’t really care about. Your parents, Sean, Tristan, they always were sore subjects. I’m glad you found him again and I want to meet him, when it’s time. When it’s appropriate.”

“Do you remember that wedding gift that we never figured out who it was from? The ties, books, that purse you still love so much?” Aaron turned fully in the car seat to face her, unbuckling his belt.

“Yes. I can’t remember the initials.”

“STR. Spencer Tristan Reid.”

“Oh…He…why didn’t you see him there?”

“He dropped off the gift during pictures and then left.”

“We should probably get inside to Jack,” Haley said as she pointed. Jack was standing in the window, the curtain at his back. He had a frown on his face. Aaron smiled and got out of the car, when Haley did so as well, he pressed the lock button. Haley went into the house first and Jack was right there. Looking sad. “What’s wrong?”

“I didn’t do anything wrong so that means that you two wanted to fight where I couldn’t hear.”

“No, sweetie,” Haley said. She crouched down and Aaron followed, pulling his face to meet his eyes. “No, we just wanted to have a grownup talk.”

“I was talking to mommy about Spencer, Jack.”

“What about Spencer?”

“About how he’s going to be hanging out with me more and that means you as well. I have to tell mommy everyone who is going to be around you. Like when Aunt Jessica started to date Fred. Remember, she brought Fred around so you could meet him?” Aaron asked.

“But Aunt Jessica didn’t stay with Fred.”

“No, she didn’t.”

“And I don’t see Fred anymore. What’s going to happen if you and Spencer don’t want to be friends anymore? Who will go to the zoo with me?” Jack asked. Aaron tried to keep a straight face and he heard Haley muffling a snort behind him.

“Well, Jack. I am sure that Spencer will still go with you to the zoo even if he and I are no longer friends. He really liked going to the zoo with you.”

“Are you sure?” Jack asked.

“Yes.”

Jack smiled and nodded before going back into the living room where he had been sitting before with books spread out. They were all about fish. All the fish that had been in the tank in the zoo.

“We might want to discuss upping the amount of money that we have set aside for books for him,” Haley said as she motioned him in towards the kitchen. There was the smell of roast in the air. That was one meal that he missed of hers. He’d tried to make it and never got it right. “His visit to the zoo has upped his want of science books. Also, he wants a pet otter for Christmas.”

“An otter?” Aaron asked. He remembered Jack playing with the otters at the zoo. He wasn’t shocked at all. “That’s a feat there. We can sit down and talk with him about that later tonight, if you want.”

“He said that Spencer sat with him and told him all about the fish in the tanks at the zoo and about all the animals that they saw.” Haley opened the lid on the roaster in the oven and stuck a fork in one of the carrots. Even Aaron could tell that it was still a little harder than they liked.

“Spencer is unique.”

“The way that Jack was talking I figure that he’s a genius of some kind. Some of the words that Jack was saying after were very high level, even for an adult.”

“Three PhDs working on a fourth in his spare time and I think it was five BAs. I am not quite sure on that number. High IQ.”

“I can’t fault that he’ll be a good role model on Jack. Like I said, Aaron, have him around. It doesn’t have to be a long meeting, just a simple hi how are you and bye. Maybe one of the nights you are picking up Jack.”

“I think that I can swing that,” Aaron said, happy that Haley wasn’t that upset. He was actually looking forward to introducing them. He thought that they might be able to get along, if for nothing else than their shared love of books.

“So Jack, why don’t you go grab your costume so you can show daddy your new one?” Haley asked. Jack smiled and took off running. Aaron looked up at his ex-wife and cocked an eyebrow. She smiled and held out a hand for him to wait. Ten minutes later, Jack came back in. Dressed in a suit with a crooked tie.

“Spider-Man was itchy.”

Aaron crouched at Jack’s side and straightened the little tie. Jack smiled at him and Aaron knew that no matter what, he and Haley were doing well by Jack.

December 2010
Aaron knew that he slept lightly. Even lighter when Jack was in the apartment. So, when he rolled over at 6am knowing that something had woken him up, he just listened, his hand reaching for the gun in the safe at his bedside. When the bedroom door opened and Spencer stalked into the room and went right for his closet, Aaron relaxed but only slightly. Jumping minutely, Aaron felt something hit him. He opened his eyes and looked down at the pair of jeans. Next, a long sleeved polo came flying out. Spencer left the closet and moved to his dresser pulling out a pair of matching socks with a look of disdain on his face and then underwear. He turned and threw them onto the bed on top of the rest of the clothes.

“Well, don’t just gawk at me. Get dressed!” Spencer hissed at him before leaving the room. Aaron watched him leave and knew from the haircut that this wasn’t his Spencer. He got out of bed and stripped out of his sleep pants and t-shirt and changed into the clothes that Spencer had thrown at him. He wondered what was going on. The plan had been to shower that morning but he had a feeling that he’d get yelled at for that. So he promised himself he’d shower that night. He did brush his teeth though and moved towards the main part of the apartment. There, he found Spencer watching the TV. The sound was on mute so Aaron couldn’t hear anything. He made noise as he walked so that Spencer would hear him. The genius’s eyes were on the TV, but he was blocking it and Aaron couldn’t see what was happening on it.

When Aaron got close enough to see, Spencer turned. He held up his hand for silence. Text was scrolling across the bottom on the screen, but Aaron wasn’t paying attention to that, he was looking at Spencer’s body language. He was standing and acting like this was a case. Like he needed to move at a moment’s notice.

“I know the team is on a case and that you have Jack this week. I know it’s about two weeks to Christmas. I’ll stay here with him. I look close enough to your Spencer that it doesn’t freak him out. You need to get to that bank. The FBI agent who is on site is going to cock it up. You’ll get there in time to stop it from going even worse.”

“How do I explain me going…?” Aaron stopped when he saw the bank being held up. It was his bank. He’d banked there for years. It opened at 6 am to get those who needed to do things before work. It was part of the reason why Aaron had chosen it for his banking when he’d turned eighteen. “Do you have your cell on you?”

“No. It wouldn’t matter anyway. I’ve upgraded recently and I don’t think it’ll work here. Call the phone here. If it’s your number, I’ll answer. If you can’t use your cell, call once, let it ring three times, hang up. When you call back again, I’ll answer.” Spencer’s eyes were back on the TV and Aaron could see exactly how upset he was.

“You know what happens?” Aaron knew the answer but it wasn’t confirmation from him. He wanted to be sure that Spencer could help him deal with the fallout.

“Yes.” The answer was choked out. Whatever was going to happen was going to be horrible. The genius wasn’t looking him in the eye.

“And you won’t tell me?” Aaron stepped closer to him to try and pull him into a hug but he stepped away. He could count the number of times in a private setting where Spencer stepped away from his touch.

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you can’t change what’s going to happen before you get there. And you don’t need that having you make a run to get there.” Tears were forming in Spencer’s eyes.

“Spencer?” Aaron asked.

Eyes tracked to the clock and then back to Aaron. “You need to go, Aaron. Please just be safe on the way.” The look on Spencer’s face said that he wanted to say something else but stopped himself. Aaron grabbed his keys, wallet, and credentials. It took only a minute to slip his gun on. He held up his backup and when the younger man shook his head no, Aaron left it off. He looked at Spencer and could see that he was utterly upset, staring at the TV so he moved behind him and pulled him into a backwards hug and kissed the top of his head.

“I’ll come back to you, I promise.”

“I know. You aren’t going to come back the same though.”

“But as long as I always come back, we’ll be fine.” Aaron squeezed him one last time. “I’m sure that you can come up with something better for Jack to know than I went to deal with a hostage situation at a bank.”

“I will. Go.”

Aaron moved out of his apartment and down his car. He wasn’t ready to deal with this. Not alone. He was going into unknown territory just because a future Spencer said that he needed to. He needed to come up with a reason to take over by the time that he got to the bank.

Slipping through the perimeter was easy. He stayed at the back and watched. Then the sound of a shot ringing out from the bank had him on edge. The HRT leader, Banner, moved up to who Aaron was sure was the lead agent on hand. He didn’t recognize him.

“Why are I and my team even here if you are not going to listen to me?” Banner asked. The agent in charge just glared at him and Aaron started forward. The movement drew Banner’s gaze to him.

“Agent Hotchner, please tell me the BAU is here to take this over?” Banner asked.

“I’ve not been given approval. I was on my way here for banking when I saw the barricades.”

“Call your section chief, I’d rather deal with you if I am going to be dealing with anyone.” Banner looked at the other agent and Aaron pulled his phone. He dialed straight to Strauss’ cell phone.

“Agent Hotchner, I’ve been made aware that you are on the scene at the bank. What is going on?”

“One suspected loss of life so far. We have not been able to confirm. The agent in charge is not listening to HRT.”

“Well that won’t do. Take over, and I’ll have the someone call the former agent in charge. Find out the dead. Garcia is helping your team with their case but I’m sure she can help you.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Aaron looked at Banner and nodded as he dialed Garcia.

“Sir, I thought that you were hanging with little Hotch.”

“I’m on the scene of a bank robbery, Garcia. I need eyes into the bank and that feed transferred here. I also have a suspected dead inside the bank. Can you try and get me a name?”

“Of course, Sir. I’ll call you back as soon as I have anything.”

Aaron moved to the agent in charge. “You are pulled from this. I’ll keep your team on hand as I don’t have mine. They are on another case. If you will listen to me, you can stay, if not, leave.” Banner stepped up to him and handed over a tablet that had a feed on it.

“We were able to get footage up to before the bank was breached. We have a suspected thirteen customers and fifteen workers. The armored truck has already done a pick up, yesterday. There have been few demands. A chopper and that if we tried to breach the bank, they would kill everyone. Stephens wanted to try and get a camera inside and I vetoed that until we had the plans for the bank in hand. He chose to ignore that and now the camera was found and someone is probably dead.”

“I have someone trying to hack the feed and see if we can get some eyes turned back on in there,” Aaron said.

“We have movement.”

Aaron felt his phone vibrate and he looked to see it was Garcia. He watched the door as an old man stepped up to it from inside the bank. He was carrying someone.

“Garcia?” Aaron asked but instead of a bubbly voice, all he heard was crying. It sounded like she was trying to talk but he couldn’t understand a single word. The man turned to hand off the person he was carrying to a member of HRT. Next he handed over a purse and Aaron’s phone fell. He knew that purse. He was running towards where the person was being set down on a gurney.

Banner stopped him when he was five feet away. “Hotch, calm down. She didn’t feel a thing.”

“Let me go, Banner. That’s my ex-wife.” Aaron pushed past him and touched Haley’s face. Her eyes were closed and Aaron knew that she was dead. He could feel someone moving behind him. He wanted to scream and cry but he couldn’t. Not here. Not with all the eyes watching. He closed his eyes and leaned over her, not caring if her blood got all over him. He kissed her forehead as he saw the coroner come closer. He now knew why Spencer was so upset. He knew. He knew that she would die. He wanted to hate him but she’d been marked as dead before he had even gotten to the scene. There was no way he could have saved her.

“Hotch, here’s your phone,” Banner said as he pulled him back from the gurney. Aaron took the phone and saw that he was still connected to Garcia.

“Garcia, I need eyes on that bank. Do not tell the team anything. I need their minds on their case.”

“Yes, Sir. I am almost in. They are good but I am better.”

“As you should be.” Aaron looked one last time at Haley and then turned to Banner. “I want SWAT on the exterior but not for a breach. I don’t think that we are going to get to do a breach. I want eyes on every single angle. The next time they call, I want to talk to them.”

Three hours later, Aaron gave the order. Between Garcia’s feed from inside and the view of the bank through the windows coupled with what the older man gave them on how many UnSubs were inside, they knew that there was four of them. Snipers were ready to take out the three that were accessible and two teams were ready to swarm just after the shots were fired. The fourth UnSub was in the basement, working on trying to crack the safe. As soon as the shots were fired and the first SWAT team confirmed that the three were dead, the second team breached as well and when the fourth UnSub came up, he was facing ten guns. He gave up quickly.

“Aaron,” a female voice called out and he turned to see Strauss there. He really didn’t want to talk to her. He needed to called Jessica and he needed to get home to Jack. “Garcia called me and told me everything. All I need from you is a report from when you stepped across the barricade to now and you can go home. The second you leave the office you are on two weeks downtime with more allowed as needed. Where is Jack?”

“Jack is at home with a neighbor. I texted and said that I was held up and would be really late in getting back.”

“In my eyes this is a win. HRT and SWAT are praising you. Nothing bad it going to come of this. You acted with honor and respect when most would have been crying on the floor. Go be with your son.” Strauss looked around. “I’ll handle this.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

Aaron pushed the thoughts swirling in his head away. He hadn’t talked to Spencer and he didn’t think that he wanted to call until he was done. If he heard Jack, he’d probably break down and that wasn’t going to do them any good with him in DC proper.

When he arrived back at his apartment hours later, he could barely remember his time at the office. The only bright spot had been Garcia hugging him. Telling him that she’d keep the team in the dark until he said otherwise. He’d told her that as soon as their case was wrapped would be fine.

“Okay, Sir but I need you to understand that Reid is already circling. He knows that something is wrong. He’s trying to use his mind powers for evil. He almost had me spilling the secret but then my computer beeped and I hung up on him.”

Aaron had wanted to laugh at that. He figured that he knew exactly how troublesome Spencer was being. Letting himself into the apartment, Aaron was greeted with the sight of Jack asleep on the couch with Spencer at the opposite end. Jack’s feet were in his lap. The younger man had a book in one hand and the other was rubbing at one of Jack’s feet. There was something undeniably domestic about it and it just broke down the last of Aaron’s defenses. All the tears he’d been holding in all day broke free. He moved with heavy feet towards the kitchen. Needing a drink. He found a bottle of his favorite bourbon and a glass beside it. The sound of soft feet on carpet drew his gaze and he saw Spencer leaning there against the doorway. Aaron looked him up and down and saw that he wasn’t looking the greatest. Then the cut drew his gaze. This was the same Spencer from months before. The cut looked mostly healed.

“How long has he been asleep?”

“Fifteen minutes give or take. He’s easier to deal with the younger he is. And no he didn’t ask a question about me looking different. I told him that something came up at work and you needed to go in and do some filing work and since he was still asleep, you opted to let him sleep. He only asked about what would happen if you and I weren’t friends anymore. If I would still take him to the zoo. I told him yes and it seemed to make him happy.”

“I was talking to him about the fact that you are going to be around more and that you and I were going to be more than friends. He was only worried about losing his new friend.”

“I’m sorry, but I saw no outcome where telling you what you were walking into was going to help. She would still be dead and you’d have a massive guilt complex. You saved the others’ lives.”

“Distract me from this. Distract me with words. How is your Aaron doing? The bags under your eyes look better.”

“He got a very rude awakening the other morning. He was in the middle of a nightmare and scared the shit out of a young Tristan.”

Aaron remembered the Tristan that had run from him. Had he just been to see that Aaron on his trip before? God, that had to be what happened Aaron thought as he looked at Spencer.

“And?”

“He’s talking finally. He’s afraid that he’ll scare Jack like that.” Spencer looked off to the side and his body shivered. Aaron stepped up to him. While things sounded better he knew that things between the two of them weren’t perfect yet in the future. “I’m getting ready to leave. I can feel it coming.”

Aaron reached out and cupped the side of Spencer’s face. He watched as eyes widened and a weird look came over Spencer’s face.

“I love you, Spencer. Big and little you.”

Spencer laughed and his eyes lit up. “I love you, Aaron. Big and little you.” Aaron stared at his face until he was gone. Draining two fingers of scotch, Aaron moved to the couch and sat down, taking up Spencer’s spot. He looked around and saw a notebook down on the coffee table. He leaned forward to pick it up and looked at it. It was the name of a doctor that Aaron recognized as one of the ones that the FBI used in local cases. There was a list of books, for both him and Jack, about dealing with loss. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He needed to call Jessica so that she could come over. He looked around and decided to text her to come over as soon as possible, he needed to talk to her. That was when he noticed the flashing light on his answering machine

Settling Jack’s feet back on the couch, Aaron moved over and hit the play button.

Aaron, I don’t know where you are but I hope that you and Jack are having fun. Please, if he’s listening, hit stop. I’m in the bank and it’s a holdup and I don’t think that I am going to make it out. Whoever is negotiating with them is really bad at it. I just wanted to say goodbye. If I make it out, we can laugh about how dramatic this is. But if I don’t. Make sure Jack has a good life. Show him that you used to smile, long ago, before everything. Keep Spencer close and don’t let him go. I didn’t get to meet him due to cases but he makes you happier than I have ever seen you and Jack’s already in love with him. He’ll be a good father to Jack and a good lover to you. Jack, I love you. I am sad that I won’t get to see you grow up and be a wonderful man, just like your father but know that mommy loves you.” The sound of a scuffle was next and then the firing of a gun. Aaron flinched and hit stop. He’d have Garcia edit out the end before putting it on a disc for Jack to listen to.

Looking at the clock, Aaron figured he had a few minutes before Jack woke up so he went to his bedroom, shutting the door most of the way. He moved to his ensuite and looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were bloodshot and his hands were shaking. He ran water and splashed it on his face. He needed to hold on until Jessica was there. He was afraid if he gave into his grief that it would cripple him and he needed to be strong for Jack. Haley’s purse with cell phone was in the backseat of his car. He wanted to get the pictures off the phone. Haley had shown him several pictures that she had taken with Jack lately. There was so much that he would have to do. While they may have been divorced, they’d promised each other that they would take care of their final things if Jack was still alive. He knew that Jessica would want to help and he wouldn’t deny her that right.

The sound of a soft knock on the door drew his attention from the mirror. It wasn’t Jessica, the knock was different than her normal. He took a towel to his face to wipe away the water before he went to answer the door. He hoped it was Strauss. Sparing a second to look at Jack, he saw his son moving about on the couch, he was near ready to wake up. Aaron unlocked the door and opened it to find Spencer standing there.

“Aaron, what’s wrong? You’ve not answered a single message from me. You look like shit so don’t try and tell me that nothing is wrong.” Spencer moved to push past him into the apartment but he stopped when he saw Jack asleep on the couch. “Aaron?”

“Jack’s down for a nap. I’ve been handling the hostage situation at the bank today.”

“That’s your bank wasn’t it? I heard other than the robbers, there was only a single civilian casualty. What happened?”

“The lead agent in charge wouldn’t listen to HRT. The civilian was dead since before I arrived on scene.”

“Who stayed with Jack?”

“A future you. He’s the one who sent me to the bank. He knew the outcome of today.”

“It’s not like you to blame yourself for a death that’s not on your watch.” Spencer
stepped closer to him and Aaron shut the door. He pulled Spencer into the kitchen where the bottle of bourbon was still out. He looked at it and then back at Jack before he put it up. He’d had his glass.

“The horrible thing is that as much as I am so mad at the death, I know that for future you it has to be harder.”

“Future me? Aaron, what’s going on?”

“Before we had an ID I knew exactly who it was. I knew it because of that damn purse you got her. She’s been using it since she found out that it was you.”

“Haley?” Spencer asked and he turned to look at Jack. “Does he know?”

“No. He’s been asleep since I got back. I am assuming that your case is over?”

“Yes.”

“Stay? I can’t do this alone. I don’t want to do this alone. I’ve got to tell Jack that his mother is dead. That while he was here, playing with you, her body was cooling at the morgue.”

“Did I leave anything? Notes?”

“There is a notepad in the living room.”

Aaron watched as Spencer moved in and picked up the pad. He stopped before coming back into the kitchen and just stared at Jack. He could see the pain in his eyes and Aaron knew that future Spencer, the one who just went home was going to need help. He hoped that Aaron had his head out of his ass enough to help him. Spencer had been the one to save her from Foyet only to have her die by the hands of idiots who wanted quick money. Jack had lost his mother for senseless violence. Yet he’d had over another year with her. If it hadn’t been for Spencer, she would have died a year before but Jack needed more time with her. He needed his mother to see him graduate high school and college. To see him get married, to help with her grandkids. Aaron stopped at that. Cadance. The name of his granddaughter. He knew that and Haley never would.

The tears started and Aaron couldn’t stop them. He moved backwards until he felt something solid behind him and dropped to his ass. He tucked his knees up and hid his face in them. He heard the clatter of the pad and then Spencer’s hands were on him. Aaron grabbed him and held on. He held tight as he let all of his emotions out. While he wasn’t in love with her anymore, she held a place in his heart as Jack’s mother and as a good friend. He shifted and Spencer kissed his head.

“Shush, Aaron. Just let it all out.” Spencer held him tight and Aaron felt safe. It was just like at his father’s funeral. He felt safe in his arms.

“Daddy?” Jack’s voice called out from right beside them. Spencer didn’t let him go fully, just enough to where he could look at his son. “Daddy, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, buddy.” Aaron pulled Jack into his arms and Jack curled into the shelter of the two bodies. “You know how I had to go into work today and Spencer watched you? Well I did go into work. There was a bank holdup and I was the best to take care of it.”

“Did someone die?” Jack asked.

“Why do you ask that?” Spencer asked.

“Daddy’s crying and you were looking up books on death. You bought a few when you thought I wasn’t watching.”

“Jack, before I got to the scene one of the bad guys killed someone there. When I got there I took over and made sure that everyone else got home okay.”

“That’s sad.” Jack pulled back to look at him. Aaron couldn’t do it. He couldn’t say the words that were going to crush his son. He choked on a sob and then buried his head in Jack’s chest, pulling him back to him. The sound of the front door shutting had Spencer moving away from them but Aaron trusted him that if it was someone bad, that he’d take care of him. His gun was still on his hip.

“Why is Haley’s purse in Aaron’s car? Aaron what’s wrong?” Jessica’s voice carried. “And who are you?”

“Spencer Reid.”

“Oh, Aaron’s…what’s wrong?” Jessica was crouching at his side, he felt her hands on him and he started to cry again.

“There was a hostage situation at a bank downtown today. Aaron went to cover it while I watched Jack. I consulted with the team on the case they are on. A hostage was killed just as Aaron was arriving on scene.”

“And why am I…the purse…” Jessica tucked her head into Aaron’s shoulder and he pulled an arm from around Jack to wrap it around her. He heard Spencer retreat.

“I’m sorry,” Aaron whispered to her. Jessica started to sob then. Jack tucked his head closer and Aaron felt his shirt getting wet. “I’m so sorry, Jack that I wasn’t able to save her for you.”

Aaron could barely remember anything after that. He was crying and then he swore that something picked him up but his legs were moving. Then he was down in bed. He tried to sit up but then something was placed on top of him and he smelled Jack. He curled his arms around him holding him tight. He felt a kiss on his forehead and then warmth over him as a blanket was pulled up. Then blessed nothingness.

An unknown time later, Aaron woke up in bed alone. He could smell something and realized it was pancakes and bacon. He got up out of the bed and moved towards his now shut bedroom to find a post it at eye level. Shower was written in all capital letters in Spencer’s handwriting. He did as he was bade before he wandered into the kitchen to find Jessica cooking while Spencer was seated with Jack at the table.

There was a list of things on the counter beside Jessica and when he stepped up he looked it over. It was a list of things that needed done as well as a smaller list of who had been told. Aaron saw that BAU team had been written and then crossed out. Jessica stepped up to him and hugged him tight and he returned it.

“I’ve called Haley’s job at the library. The Director is very upset and very understanding. He’ll gather her things and keep them for whenever you are ready to grab them. I’ve gotten ahold of mom and dad. I told mom’s nurse because she’s not doing well. She’s going to break it to them. Dad refuses to come into the city. I guess word got around about the situation at the bank. Spencer took a call outside. I heard him yell at one point. He didn’t offer and I didn’t ask. He’s doing well with Jack, talking…has he lost a parent?”

“Not this way. His father left him and his mother when he was ten and his mother is sick.” Aaron looked as Spencer and he nodded. Aaron smiled back at him. “She has schizophrenia and it got worse the older he got. So, while his parents are alive, he’s sort of lost them, and I think sometimes that’s worse than having them die. He’s studied this though. He’s one of the better death notifiers on the team. I thought for a long time that no one would top JJ but he does.”

“So you are dating and on the same team?” Jessica asked, her voice soft.

“I’ve not actually gotten up the nerve to ask him out yet.”

“Oh. But he’s here.”

“Yes, he is because he’s a good friend.” Aaron hoped that Jessica got the hint and dropped it. He was thankful when she turned back to the stove. “So breakfast for dinner. That sounds like a good idea.”

“Spencer made a cheesy hash brown casserole,” Jack said, looking up at Aaron. Aaron nodded and looked back down at the list. Jack’s school had been called. There were initials out from the rest. Things that Jessica would take care of and things that Aaron would need to.

“Aaron, think we can talk in your bedroom for a moment?” Spencer asked.

“Sure.”

Spencer ruffled Jack’s hair as he stood up and Jack gave him a not quite smile. Aaron waited for him to pass before following him into the room.

“Garcia and Morgan are chomping at the bit, but I was able to waylay them coming over. Tonight should be about the three of you. I told Jack I’d stay until you woke up. Morgan is not happy about being denied but I sicced Rossi on him. Prentiss and Blake are understanding. JJ’s upset that it happened at all. I just wanted to make sure Jack was okay. Call me if you need anything.”

“I need you here,” Aaron said, being truthful. Spencer had been turning to leave the room but he stopped and turned back. “I need you here.”

“Are you sure?”

Aaron stepped up to him and pulled him close. He’d meant for it to be a hug but instead his lips found Spencer’s and he kissed him. Spencer tried to pull away but Aaron kept a hold of him. Pulling him close. He needed this. A connection with the man he loved. He kept the kiss chaste and pulled back when he was ready. “When things settle down, I’m taking you out on a proper date. Just me and you and good food.”

“Okay,” Spencer said with a smile. He leaned in for another quick kiss. “Jessica wants to talk to you about something so I’ll take Jack back to his room. He wanted to show me a book he brought with him.”

Aaron smiled at him and opened the door. Jack was waiting at his bedroom door and Spencer slipped in there with him. Aaron moved onto the kitchen. Jessica was shutting the oven door after slipping in a plate of pancakes. The bacon was almost done.

“Your job is important to you. It’s important to Jack as well. I can step in when you need someone to watch him while you are on cases. I’ve moved into an apartment that’s closer, about a year ago.”

“Do you like it?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t need the money from the sale of the house and Jack doesn’t either. He’s well taken care of. You can have the house. To live in or sell it. Buy a different house with less memories.”

“Aaron,” Jessica started.

“No. The house is wholly Haley’s. I know that her will states it’s to go to Jack but he’s probably not going to want it. We can talk to him about it. If he does, then I’ll help you find a better place. While I am sure that you wouldn’t mind watching Jack here, there are times you are going to want to go home so a two bedroom is a good option. Jack can have a room that your parents can use when they visit. Just think about it. I’m off work for two weeks and we have all that time to find you a new place. My team would help you move. Haley told me that you hate where you are right now.”

“Okay, Aaron.” Jessica smiled at him and Aaron smiled back. With Spencer at his side and Jessica to help with Jack, he felt that he could make it.

Jack took longer to get to sleep that night and Aaron brought out the baby monitors for the first time in a long while. Jack hadn’t protested its use, thankfully. He understood that his dad was just worried. Aaron had pulled Jack’s door shut all the way as the boy had asked and went to find Spencer. The genius was dressing to leave. Aaron watched as he picked up his messenger bag and that was what prompted him to react. Aaron was across the room and pulled the bag from his hands before he could get the strap over his head. He got a good look at Spencer’s wide eyes before Aaron had him against the wall, kissing him again. This time there was no hesitancy on Spencer’s part.

When Spencer parted his lips and their tongues touched for the first time, Aaron moaned. Hands were sliding under his shirt and Aaron pulled back. He looked in Spencer’s eyes. He’d been thinking about what exactly he wanted that night and the look in his eyes told him what was going to be the best thing. He worried about Jack waking up, knowing that Spencer had slept in his bed but the only thing that he could think about was older Spencer who slept on a couch because he couldn’t do the guest bed alone and his Aaron was too afraid to sleep in the same bed as him.

“Stay the night?” Aaron asked.

“Yes.” Spencer tugged his coat off and hung it up before toeing off his shoes. When he was stripped of his extras, Aaron grabbed his hand and pulled him back towards his bedroom. The monitor was already there and set up. Aaron was more than ready for this. He’d been celibate for so long. Spencer hands slid under his shirt again and their lips met again in a kiss. Aaron didn’t worry about anything. He was ready for this. He wanted this. “Do you have supplies?”

“Lube, yes. Condoms no. I haven’t been with anyone since Haley and we are tested enough for blood splatter transmission that it would have popped up.” Aaron backed up towards the bed, pulling Spencer with him. When he sat down he pulled Spencer into his lap and started to kiss him again.

“I have a confession,” Spencer said, pulling back from the kiss. He laid his forehead on Aaron’s though. “October 1984. Halloween party. Seven minutes in heaven.”

Aaron remembered it. It was the only person that Aaron had really kissed besides Haley in college, the others from spin the bottle didn’t count to him. There was guilt in Spencer’s eyes and Aaron wondered why until he figured it out. Ben had been the only one that he’d ever told about kissing a guy in a closet at that party. So, either Spencer had been there or he’d been the one Aaron had been kissing.

“It was you. How did you know that I was going to be there?”

“I didn’t. I was on campus during a travel and some group of people took me as someone they recognized and invited me along. They had a spare costume and I went. It was my fifth travel since getting my ability back. I was having fun, the kind of fun I never indulged in during my own years at college. The spin the bottle room was the easiest for me to handle, not too many people. Also easy for me to run if I started to travel. I didn’t expect to see you there. You’d never gone to anything like it before and never after, that I could tell.”

“That’s why you ran? You saw my face and knew what? That’d I’d recognize you?”

“No, it shocked me. It shocked me so bad that I started to travel. I had to get out of there because I knew that it wasn’t when you met ‘me’. The look of shock on your face at your house that day told me that you hadn’t known who I was before. I freaked out. I almost blurted it out that night that you came to my apartment but I didn’t.”

“That tells me why I liked it so much. I chased you through that house.” Aaron wasn’t sure what he thought about that being Spencer. He looked into his happy eyes and decided that later was a good time to think about it. He pulled Spencer back in for a kiss. It wasn’t that hard to get lost in the taste of him on his tongue and the feel of him under his hands. He tasted every single inch of skin as he pulled off each item of clothes. They only separated to take off pants and underwear and then Aaron had a naked Spencer on top of him in bed. It felt wonderful and had Aaron thrusting up into him. Spencer went after the lube first and when he sat up with lube on his fingers, Aaron closed his eyes and groaned. He waited for Spencer to move off of him so that he could be prepped but instead he heard a groan from the younger man instead. He opened his eyes to see Spencer with his legs splayed and a hand behind his back. Aaron sat up and kissed him, grabbing his hand as he did.

“Aaron?”

“I want to feel you, love. You in me.” Aaron steadied Spencer’s hips while the younger man shifted from straddling Aaron to being in between his legs. Spencer was gentle as his first finger slid inside of Aaron. He’d played with fingering himself. In the few times he thought about going out and finding someone to take home. Thoughts about how many victims he’d given justice too when they had done the same thing had stopped him.

Before he knew it, Aaron felt himself stretched. He hadn’t even realized that Spencer had more than one in him. His soon to be lover stretched up and kissed him. Aaron pulled him close and tried not to make a noise as he felt the head of Spencer’s cock at his entrance.

“Relax or we are stopping,” Spencer said as he pulled back from the kiss. Aaron nodded and relaxed. He wasn’t afraid, he didn’t know why he was tensing. Spencer shifted back to where he was kneeling back on his haunches. He smiled at Aaron before leaning down again but not to kiss him. Instead he licked at a nipple. Aaron didn’t hold back the moans and gasps as Spencer helped him relax.

When he couldn’t stand it anymore, Aaron begged him to get inside of him. “Spencer, please. I don’t want to come without you in me. Please.” Aaron hitched his legs up as Spencer moved in closer again. The breech was slow and Aaron swore that Spencer was trying to torture him. He could tell that his lover was holding back. Nothing that he did had Sencer going faster though. It was slow and steady, the thrusts in and out of him. When Aaron couldn’t take it anymore he pulled his knees up farther and forced the younger man to where they could kiss. Spencer laughed at the first kiss and settled down, bracing an arm above Aaron’s head.

The change of angle and the first full thrust of Spencer into him from that new angle had Aaron throwing back his head and moaning loudly. Spencer dove forward and kissed him swallowing the moan. Aaron knew that he needed to not wake up Jack but what his lover was doing to him felt so good. He wanted more but every single thrust had him flying higher and higher and he knew he wouldn’t last long. When he fell over the crest, his hands were on Spencer’s shoulders and he was fairly certain that he had left scratches on his back. He squeezed his knees together, trapping Spencer on an upward thrust inside of him. He felt more than anything the feel of Spencer’s body going taut as well. There was a final few small thrusts and then his lover collapsed on top of him.

Aaron hissed when Spencer shifted and pulled out of him but before the younger man could do anything, Aaron wrapped his arms around him and rolled them both onto their sides. Aaron wanted more kisses before they fell asleep. He’d wake up at some point and dress again. He found lips again and kissed until Spencer pulled away.

“We need to at least clean up a little. And I don’t have any clothes with me so…” Spencer’s voice trailed off.

“I have a pair of pants you can sleep in and I think I have some things in your size. I know that you have that bracelet on your arm but I have clothes just in case something happens and you come back here naked from the future. Slacks and a sweater.”

“Thank you.”

When they laid down a little while later with Aaron in a pair of shorts and Spencer in a pair of sleep pants tied as tight as they could go, Aaron wrapped his arms around his lover and sighed in contentment. He fell asleep knowing that as long as Spencer was with him, in his life in all the good ways, he’d be happy.

“I love you,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear just as they were drifting off to sleep.

“Love you, too,” Spencer whispered back.

February 2011
Aaron settled into the booth as he watched Morgan, Garcia, and Prentiss out on the dance floor. He settled there easily with Spencer at his side. The past two months had been hard but having Spencer abound made things easier. Jack hadn’t had a nightmare about Haley’s death in two weeks. Aaron and Spencer had been on seven dates so far that hadn’t been interrupted by cases. The only thing that was upsetting was that between cases, Jack, and Spencer’s own traveling, the pair hadn’t been able to have sex again yet. It wasn’t for lack of trying either.

“So,” Morgan said as he dropped into his seat with the girls trailing behind him. The table was just big enough for all of them with four seats on the outer edge and a booth just big enough for four on the inside. Blake and Dave were on Spencer’s other side while JJ had taken the seat next to Dave. “How exactly do you keep of this straight in your head?”

Aaron looked at Morgan, unsure exactly who he was talking to and what he was talking about. The younger agent tipped his bottle of beer at Spencer though.

“I’m sure that if I was normal, I’d have some issues with it. With my memory, all I need is a date. The area changes thoughout the years. I had a harder time when I was younger because well, Hotch’s backyard never changed. Sometimes I only knew the rough year because of how old he was. Then when Tom was hired in as the groundskeeper, he’d leave the day’s before paper in a spot in the garage. I could slip in as a child or as an adult and look at the date.”

“How exactly do you get around?” Garcia asked. The dancers finally seemed like they were getting their breath back. Aaron took a second to brush his leg with Spencer’s hoping that the younger man didn’t react other than to press back. Spencer pressed his leg back and smiled. It could have been a smile for Garcia’s question, but Aaron was sure that it was for him.

“Money. It’s easy to change in current bills for older bills. There are many ways of doing it and I’ve even been able to take things back to younger me to make sure that he has access to money. I leave plenty of smaller bills for him.” Spencer picked up his wine glass and drained the last sip of it. He slid it over towards Aaron and picked up his messenger bag from the floor. He slid it onto the table. “I bought this bag because it’s sturdy and doesn’t really look out of place either now or in the past or the future. It wasn’t hard to split the seams and slip some of my sensors into it. I’ve also attached some to my shoes, just to be safe.”

“Show us the sensor thing?” JJ asked as she leaned forward. Spencer slid his bag back down to the floor, ghosting his hand over Aaron’s knee as he did. The bracelet came off easily and he handed it over to her. Aaron decided that he looked weird without it. “How does it work?”

“When I start to travel I give off a bit of an electrical field. It triggers these,” Spencer said as he pointed at the bracelet that Garcia had in her hand. “They give off the same field and it extends the field a little to take my clothes and such with me. Of course, by the time that I had what I needed to make it, I’d stopped traveling. The first test of my technology was a blind test and I am very happy that it worked even if it dropped me someplace I was ill prepared for.”

“What happened?” Blake asked.

Aaron inhaled subtly. They had discussed this not long after Spencer had joined the team but were waiting for someone on the team to bring up anything that could connect to Foyet.

“I went into the future a few years. My first time of traveling after over a decade, I appeared in a living room with a guy pointing a gun at a woman. He was talking to someone on a phone. The woman was terrified. I just stood there staring. The woman saw me but she turned her eyes away quickly. I didn’t know what to do. I had no weapon and if I moved, he’d see me. There was no way that I saw that I could help so I stayed silent for the moment. Then another me popped into the room right in the guy’s line of sight. It only took seconds for the second me to pull his gun and fire. Caught the guy in the arm. The guy fired back and caught me in the shoulder. The final shot that the other me did, shot the guy right between the eyes. I’ve been told in the future that I do my best work under intense terror. The woman fainted and I barely had time to catch her. I just stared at the other me who disappeared. Just barely a minute later, someone else bursts in the front door. Gun drawn. I set the woman’s head down on the floor and backed up. I was so scared that I just stood there. When he lowered the gun a little I tried to take a step back but he raised the gun again and I felt it. I sat there and prayed that he wouldn’t shoot while I was leaving. He didn’t. I appeared in an empty classroom at Quantico, shaking.”

“I would not have wanted to be the local that dealt with that,” Morgan said with a shaky laugh. Garcia and JJ nodded with him. Prentiss, Blake, and Dave though were looking introspective. There was just enough in the story for one of them to guess it. “So there is an older you running around with a gunshot to the shoulder with no way to explain it.”

“I’m sure that someone is taking care of it. I know that older, older me doesn’t seem to have any issues with it. It was my left but I still use it for a lot of things.”

“Is that why that case is classified?” Prentiss asked.

Aaron looked over at her.

“How would one explain revolver ammo when Hotch uses a Glock?” Prentiss asked.

“What?” Garcia asked. She looked around the table, but Aaron knew that everyone else’s gazes were just as confused as hers.

“Foyet,” Dave whispered. He looked at Spencer and then at Aaron and back again. He looked at him with a new expression on his face. “That’s why you were so protective of Aaron after Haley was killed two months ago. You saved her there just to have her die like that.”

“Yes. It wasn’t something that I was warned about. Big things like that, I don’t warn my younger self. Not unless I was warned in the past. It’s confusing but I can keep it straight. My older self went into the room, knowing that he was going to get shot.”

“So you know what day you are going back?” JJ asked.

“Not really but I’ll know it as soon as I show up in the living room. I never know where I am going. Each time feels no different than the one before or the one after. Unfortunately, I know that I’ll travel again not long after coming back after getting shot.”

Aaron winced knowing what the younger man was talking about there. He was glad that day was in the past for him but he knew that getting shot and seeing a younger Aaron lose control like that was coming for Spencer.

“Is that something that happens a lot?”

“Yes and no. I cut myself pretty badly when I was younger but didn’t travel. Mom and dad were home. I seem to travel to safe places. Or places I think I’ll be safe.”

Aaron caught Dave’s eye and pleaded with him to change the topic. Dave nodded and turned to Spencer. “So you and Aaron have said before that you traveled to him. At his parent’s house?”

“Yes. And Hargrave a few times. That place was less often, most of our interactions were in the backyard of his parent’s house.” Spencer relaxed back into the seat and Aaron smiled.

“How did you hide from the help?”

“Help?” Morgan asked.

“My parents were very influential. There was a cook, cleaning staff, mother had a driver, and then the groundskeeper. I didn’t find out until Tristan wasn’t coming around that at least the groundskeeper was always aware of him. Tristan never told me and neither did any of the groundskeepers. I’m sure the cooks thought that I was either feeding stray animals or a stray person as most of them never batted an eye when I was taking basically two full meals outside in the spring, summer, and fall on odd occasions. Of course, we’d just sneak food straight from the kitchen when we were alone.”

The team looked like they wanted to ask. This was the most that Aaron had ever talked to anyone except for Tristan and Spencer about his childhood.

“I saw something very interesting the last time I was visiting you and Jack. A book on the shelves in the living room. Self First Aid Care. I had looked at it before but that was years ago. You used to keep it in your office. What caught my eye this time was the author. Well that and the fact that it’s a book that doesn’t exist anywhere. I’ve looked it up before. I wasn’t aware until I looked at the publication date that I’d been looking for it before it existed.”

“When I started to travel again, I wanted to get a book on first aid to Aaron. We spent a lot of time in the woods. Things change and I wanted to make sure that he had the best so I wrote it myself and a friend from Cal-Tech printed and bound it for me as a favor. I slipped it under his pillow one night.”

“You went into Hotch’s room when he was a kid as an adult?” Blake asked with a raised eyebrow but a smile on her face.

“He carried me to bed after I fell asleep in the woods. I never got to see Spencer much as a child much like I’ve not seen Tristan much as an adult. We know the stigma.”

“I just choose not to go around Aaron when he’s an adult and I am a child, unless Jack is around. I’ve played with Jack a few times and sometimes when it’s just Haley around Jack.”

“Does Jack know?” JJ asked. She looked like she wanted to ask a lot more than just that.

“No. Not yet. I want to give it a few years. Jessica knows.” Aaron couldn’t help but smile as he thought about that. Spencer outright laughed.

“And what’s so funny?” Morgan asked as he took a sip of his beer. The whole table was running low. Aaron debated more and when Prentiss stood up and moved towards the bar he nodded his head. Spencer shook his head. Aaron waited to answer until she came back to the table. A waitress would bring the drinks when they were ready.

“Spencer showed up in the middle of the apartment one day. He’d left two days before. She was in the middle of the living room folding my laundry even though I told her I’d get it when I got home. I was in court all day and wasn’t sure when I was going to get home. Jessica decided to stay at my place instead of taking Jack back to hers. I came home to find Jessica, Spencer, and Jack all watching a movie. Seems that Spencer hadn’t been allowed to go home. Thankfully, he had a go bag in his car and was able to change.”

“Where did you go? You never said.” Garcia asked.

“Home. It was before I was born. So, I wandered the strip for two days, playing poker and such. Got kicked out of a casino or two. Came home a thousand dollars richer. I looked up after I appeared and there was Jessica with a pair of Hotch’s underwear in hand. There was no mistaking that I hadn’t come in the door as her back was to it and I appeared right in front of her. For an adult, she was surprisingly easy to convince. Even if she did see me just appear. I’ve come and gone in front of others and they don’t believe me. Hotch did before he even saw me leave but then that’s the beauty of children. We were going to tell Haley and then Jack before…” Spencer trailed off and reached over to take Aaron’s glass and took a sip. Aaron grabbed his glass of wine and moved to the bar to fill it. The waitress was going back with the rest of their drinks. When he turned back to look while he waited, he saw Spencer finish off his first glass of bourbon. No one on the team had ever seen him drink more than wine and sometimes a beer. His tolerance for the stronger stuff was up there and Aaron wondered exactly how it had gotten that high given his size. He just didn’t like to drink.

Taking the wine back to the table, Aaron handed it over and moved the fresh bourbon glass out of Spencer’s reach. The younger man looked up at him and Aaron felt just childish enough to stick his tongue out at him. The entire table erupted into laughter and Aaron ducked his head a little. He shifted his hand that had been on his thigh to lay it on Spencer’s. His lover startled but it wasn’t noticeable to the rest of the team because they were still laughing.

The topic turned away from Spencer and Aaron after that. Instead, everyone was talking about how their families were. Blake and Dave were the first to leave once they’d finished their second drinks. Morgan, Garcia, and Prentiss went back out onto the dance floor. JJ stayed seated, talking about Henry with Spencer and Aaron.

“Jack wants me to see about bringing Henry over for a play day. He had fun playing with him when we did that team meal at your place. Maybe we can set up something for a weekend and then even if we get called out, Jessica has said that she wouldn’t mind entertaining Henry for the day if Will has to work or even if he wants a day to himself.”

“Entertain?” JJ asked.

“My influence. I was reading a book on the social gatherings through the ages and well…Jack saw me and we discussed it. I think that he wants to send an invitation to Henry and everything. I hope that Henry likes macaroni and cheese and green beans because that was the dinner menu when we last talked.”

“Oh, I hope that we don’t have a case because I kind of need to see that. I’m sure that you’ll help him plan it all, Spence?”

“Yes. He’s already contracted me to help him. I’m getting paid in him doing his homework by the way. The contract says so.” That comment had JJ laughing. Aaron smiled as he remembered a somber Jack coming to him wanting to talk about how to get someone to do work. That had started a two hour talk about what Aaron had used to go and what it meant to be a lawyer. He’d drawn up the contract and had been there when Jack had presented it to Spencer who had just gotten to their place for dinner and a Disney movie. He’d also been the witness who had signed the contract. Spencer had held it together and hadn’t started laughing until after it had been signed and Jack had left the room to put it someplace safe. Spencer had told him then that Jack was exactly like him. Too stern for his own good when he needed to be. Aaron been a little upset but watching Jack that night had proved to him that Spencer was correct, but that it wasn’t a bad thing. He was a kid who had a lot of fun, who was healing from the death of his mother and if all he got from Aaron was his sternness, he would take that. Jack’s childhood wasn’t being ruined by him. He wasn’t his own father.

“He’s such a little Hotch,” JJ said.

“That’s what I said.” Spencer turned to look at him. “Is Jack still going with Jessica to the Brooks’ for the weekend?”

“Yes.” Aaron watched Spencer’s face as he answered. He wasn’t sure what was going through his mind.

“I need to get going. Will’s got Henry down and we are going to attempt a date of sorts.” JJ smiled as she spoke. She waved at the dancers on the floor and all three waved back at her. Aaron signaled to them that he was going as well and then pointed at Spencer to tell them that he was taking him as well. Aaron had driven him over. While Spencer could drive, he didn’t like to on the off chance that he did end up traveling. In the city he could park somewhere but on the highway between DC and Quantico, there wasn’t really a good way to ditch the car. It’s why he took the metro to and from work or a taxi if need be. Or Aaron sent Anderson after him if it was a big enough emergency. “Want a ride, Spence?”

“I’ve got him. His stuff’s in my car anyway.”

“Okay,” JJ said as she stood up. Aaron and Spencer slid out of the booth. JJ hugged Spencer and made him look at her. “You did really well with Sammy, Spence. We wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did as quickly as we did without you.”

Spencer’s only response was to blush and turn his head away from her. JJ smiled and nodded at Aaron before she left. Spencer never took praise well but took it from JJ, Blake, and Prentiss better than he took it from the males of the team. Aaron figured that it had to do with his mother being the only one to praise him as a child, other than Aaron. Spencer grabbed his bag from under the table and shouldered it waving at the rest of the team before he moved out the door. Aaron turned back to the table to set down money and saw that Spencer had already set down enough to cover their drinks plus a healthy tip for the waitress and the bartender. Aaron picked it up and moved over to Morgan along with the money that the others had left on the table for theirs.

“Pretty Boy tired?”

“No. I am. I’m his ride and he doesn’t dance so…with me he goes.”

Morgan smiled and took the money, nodding as he did. Aaron was never sure if Morgan knew that he and Spencer were more than friends. He was unsure if the team as a whole thought that they were a couple. He didn’t ask and they said nothing. There was nothing that could be done to them unless they made a disastrous decision in the field to save each other but as Spencer and he had talked, it wasn’t like that decision wouldn’t be made if it was JJ, Morgan, or anyone else on the team. All of them had made the choice when they started to call each other family instead of a team and the whole of their superiors knew it. Aaron thought that was what made them the elite unit of the BAU. Their closeness made their profiles and their work better.

Garcia surprised Aaron with a hug but he gave her a quick, hard one back. She giggled as he let go of her. A wave at Prentiss and he was leaving. Spencer was waiting at the door with a smile on his face.

“You indulge her and she loves you for it.”

“I’m well aware, but it makes her happy and a happy Garcia is a happy team.”

Spencer laughed as they moved out of the building. Aaron had found a nice close spot so it wasn’t a long walk. Aaron clicked off the alarm as Spencer rounded the back to get into the passenger side. He set his bag on the back seat next to his go bag. Aaron was quite happy that he drove left handed as it freed his right to touch. When they were out on the road for the short trip to Spencer’s apartment, Aaron laid his hand on Spencer’s thigh. The younger man’s hand came to rest on top of it, not stopping his movements with the tips of his fingers on the inside of his slack’s clad inner thigh.

Aaron hadn’t regretted their first time together. He’d needed it more than he’d thought when he woke up in the night twice with nightmares and just having a body in bed with him had helped. They still roomed together on the cases where they had to double up but other than falling asleep in each other’s arms, Aaron wanted to go no farther when on the job.

“Is Jack looking forward to visiting his grandparents?”

“Yes. He knows his grandmother isn’t doing well and he wants to see her. Roy on the other hand. Roy is angry and right now I am the scapegoat for that. My name was released in the paper as the agent, but it wasn’t listed on the front page that I arrived and took it over after Haley had been killed so he blames me. Jack overheard him say something over Christmas and Jessica has raked him over the coals for it and said that if she hears a single bad word about me, she’ll take Jack home and he won’t be coming back out until her mother’s funeral. I’m letting her handle that. I’ve told her that I’ll go with anything she says.”

“It’s sad that he’s so angry. Hopefully he keeps a civil tongue in his head.”

Aaron nodded as he pulled his car into the garage for Spencer’s apartment building. The younger man turned to him and gave him a weird look, but he said nothing. Aaron parked in the spot beside Spencer’s Amazon and shut the car off.

“Did you want to come up?” Spencer asked as he got out of the car. Because of Jack, all of their interactions have happened at Aaron’s. Aaron had grabbed his still filled go bag at the office when they left for a reason. He wanted to leave it at Spencer’s for the odd night that they could go back there.

“I was hoping to stay the night,” Aaron said with a smile on his face.

“Oh,” Spencer said and Aaron thought for a second that Spencer didn’t want him to. He let that feeling swell for a few seconds, but then he got a good look at the younger man’s face. He wasn’t upset. “I have no fresh food. Everything is frozen or boxed. And none of that is breakfast food. I don’t keep milk on hand between cases and traveling.”

“I’m too tired to go to the store tonight but we can go tomorrow if you wish, in the morning. We’ve already eaten dinner at the restaurant so we shouldn’t be hungry. What do you do for breakfast after cases like this?”

“There’s a little diner I eat at. They have good coffee and wonderful biscuits.”

“Then we can go there. Everything for the past few months has revolved around Jack and I know that you are fine with that. You’ve not complained or gotten upset once but this weekend is about us. What we want to do.” Aaron grabbed his spare bag and carried it up to the door leading into the back of the complex. Spencer grabbed his things and followed him, an odd look on his face. Aaron let him think as they walked up to the apartment and Spencer let them in.

Spencer stopped just a step into the apartment and Aaron moved to grab his gun but as his fingers closed around air, he remembered that his gun was in the trunk of his car. He had his backup on him but when Spencer just bent down and picked up something, Aaron relaxed. It was an envelope that had been shoved under his door. The return address on it was from the complex, it was official looking.

“We had the locks changed. The whole place. When they did, they only gave me two sets instead of the five I requested.”

“Five?”

“Yes. One set for me. A spare to keep around just in case a me from the past is around long term and does a run to the store. A set for my desk at work in case I lose my first set. And two sets for the team. One for you and one for Morgan.”

“Me?” Aaron asked. He knew that Morgan had a set of keys but that was because Morgan had a set to everyone’s places. He was official keeper of the keys for the team.

“That way you can come in whenever you want.” Spencer opened up the envelope and handed over a set. “I have my set and the one for the other mes. I need to take these two into work. The envelope was folded over and tucked into the front of a go bag that was sitting on a table just beside the door. Aaron was a little shocked at it. There was space for another bag. “I rotate. When I get this one restocked and the clothes cleaned it’ll go there by the door and the other will go into work with me. This is my hot weather bag. I still have the cold one at work.”

“That’s very detailed and I shouldn’t expect less from you.”

“Next case is a double up case. Can you make sure to bring your personal tablet with you?” Spencer carried his dirty go bag into his bedroom and then set it on the floor. Aaron followed with his and Spencer took it from him as he entered the room. There was an empty spot on the dresser for it.

“Why?”

“Because you don’t want a bored five year old me in a hotel room all day with nothing to do. Don’t ask me why I join us on the case but I do. I don’t help with it. I know the date and given that I appear in a hotel room with your bag and my bag, it has to be a case and it’s in a week.”

“Good to know. Obviously you don’t know when we start the case but it’s good to know. I’ll make a note in my phone and I’ll make sure to take it with me to work each day. I agree a bored Tristan is not a good idea.”

Spencer hummed moved around the room, grabbing a set of pillows from the closet and throwing them onto the bed. Aaron enjoyed watching him shift his own pillows over to one side and placing the new set beside them. Aaron moved up behind and wrapped his arms around his waist.

“Let’s go to the living room,” Aaron whispered in his ear.

“Why?” Spencer asked, turning in his arms.

“Because I feel like making out with you on the couch.”

“Oh.” Spencer looked perplexed but not upset. “I’ve never made out on a couch, much less anywhere else.”

“I know. We’re still in the new phase even if we are acting like a long term couple.” Aaron pulled and Spencer went with him. He pulled Spencer’s vest off of him not wanting to have to stop in the middle to remove it. He removed his own jacket and laid it over the back of the couch on the other end of where he sat down. He pulled Spencer down into his lap and kissed his cheek before just rubbing their noses together. Spencer laughed but settled into a better position as he straddled his legs. Their groins weren’t pressed together yet but it wouldn’t take much for them to do it. “I want your mouth on mine.”

“Yes,” Spencer breathed before he leaned down and started the first kiss. Aaron settled his hands on Spencer’s hips while the younger man settled his down on Aaron’s shoulders as a balance. When the kiss was deepened with a parting of lips, Aaron pulled Spencer’s shirt from his pants. His lover arched into his hands at the first touch of hands under the shirt. Nimble fingers trailed down his shoulders and started to work on unbuttoning his shirt. He ran his hands up Spencer’s sides. He felt his shirt being parted but it wasn’t pulled out from his pants. Instead, Spencer just seemed to want to touch.

Aaron had been hard since he’d pulled Spencer into his lap. The younger man though was just getting fully hard. He wanted to explore. Figure out what Spencer liked and what he didn’t. He was barely paying attention to what his lover was doing up until he felt the first brush of fingers over his hipbone. He waited and was rewarded with a scratch of nails over it next. Aaron hissed and bucked up into Spencer. He slipped his arm around Spencer’s back, holding him in place. Haley had found that by accident and Spencer found it on the first try? Aaron pulled back to ask why he had done that but he couldn’t talk because Spencer’s head just moved downward and kissed at his jaw. He moved lower and lower to go after the pulse point on Aaron’s neck. The clink of his belt told him that the younger man was going for more than just making out and Aaron didn’t want to stop him.

Lifting up to allow his belt to be pulled free, Aaron also used it to take off his shirt and then pulled at Spencer’s. The genius quickly unbuttoned his shirt and threw it behind him. Aaron worked on reciprocating on pants as he realized that Spencer had done more than just undoing his belt. He tried to get the other man off his lap so he could take off his pants but Spencer just pulled him in for a kiss. Aaron gave up and dove into the kiss with full enthusiasm.

The first touch of warm hand on his hard cock nearly had Aaron coming right then. He bucked up into the touch and sighed as he felt Spencer’s cock line up to his as well. He was jerking them both off at the same time. Aaron settled back a little on the couch, forcing Spencer to lean over him to keep being able to kiss him. Spencer didn’t make a sound, just followed him forward but he moaned when he started to stroke them again, the new angle making it feel better. Aaron felt slick on his cock and he reached down to feel. It felt like lube. Where had Spencer gotten the lube from?

Something was shoved into his hand and Aaron knew that it was lube. He blindly opened it one handed and then reached behind Spencer to coat one of his hands. He dropped the lube beside them and then reached down. As soon as his fingers brushed their cocks, Spencer let go with both his hand and his mouth. Aaron wasn’t going to last long, not with the breathy pants in his ear. The feel of both of them in his hand, hard and hot made Aaron want to roll them to where Spencer was under him. He wanted to bring them both off by thrusting their cocks together but that would lose him the feel of breath on his ear and the look of Spencer’s gaze centered on their cocks. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the face beside his and the way that Spencer’s eyes kept darting to him told him that he knew. Still Aaron squeezed and stroked their cocks.

“Close, Aaron,” Spencer whispered. He shifted and took Aaron’s mouth in another kiss, thrusting his tongue into mouth as soon as Aaron parted his lips. The arm around Spencer pulled him closer and Aaron felt his muscles tense and then warmth started to spread on his fingers as he came to a top stroke. Aaron let his own cock go to stroke at Spencer until his body stopped shuddering. He was about to take himself back into hand when he felt finger caress him and then a sure grip had him surrounded. Aaron used his now free hand to pull Spencer even closer to kiss him more, not caring that he was spreading Spencer’s own release all over him. The genius didn’t seem to care either as he moaned into Aaron’s mouth. His hand twisted as he came to the head of Aaron’s cock and he was done. He shouted into Spencer’s mouth and came all over the hand that had been stroking him.

“Sleepy,” Aaron said when he finally pulled away from Spencer and let his head drop to the back of the couch. Spencer smiled but it was a tired smile as well. Aaron’s head was full of thoughts of what they could do in the morning, before and after going and getting breakfast at the diner that Spencer liked. He let those thoughts fill his head as Spencer pulled him towards the bathroom and they cleaned up silently. They settled naked under the sheets on Spencer’s bed and Aaron pulled his lover close.

“Never made out and had sex on a couch before.”

Aaron nodded and closed his eyes. Then he remembered the question that he’d been wanting to ask. “You’ve said that it’s only ever been me. Was that your first time?”

“No,” Spencer said and there was an odd note to his voice. Aaron tried to catalogue it through the various tones that he’d heard Spencer use. He was ashamed. Aaron hated that. He didn’t care if Spencer had been a virgin or not their first time. Yes the thought was heady but he’d not been a virgin either.

“It’s fine. I just wanted to be sure. I don’t care. Sometime you’ll have to tell me about it so that I can make sure if you had a bad time, I can fix it.”

“You don’t understand.” Spencer rolled over and Aaron laid back when his shoulder was pushed at. The younger man leaned over him with a grin on his face. “It wasn’t my first time but it was my first time with an Aaron in my correct timeline.”

“What?”

“After I started to travel again, for a while I was bouncing everywhere. I popped into a living room to find an older Aaron standing there. I asked where Spencer and Jack were and he answered that Spencer was in Vegas visiting mom and that Jack was at a summer science camp. I nodded and moved to sit down on the couch. I noted the date and set my bag down. I’d visited enough at that point to not feel too out of place. It was near dinner time in Aaron’s time and in mine it had been around lunch. I had been studying so I hadn’t stopped to eat. Aaron said he would fix dinner and asked if pasta and meatballs was fine. I said that whatever he was having would be fine. It wasn’t until after I had gotten back that I figured out that he’d set the whole thing up from the start. He knew when I was going to arrive and the wine was my favorite and the dessert.”

“An older me seduced you and took your virginity?” Aaron asked, shocked.

“Then, he was a lot older to me but yes a twice as old as me Aaron took my virginity. It was wonderful and perfect. Just like our first time in the same time period was wonderful and perfect. I actually figure that it happens not too long in the future from now because well…” Spencer smiled and ducked his head a little. “There’s only a little more wrinkle lines around his eyes and mouth. Given how fast I know your face ages, I’d say that it happens soon.”

“You said you looked at the date.”

“I did. There wasn’t a clock with the year though. Just a little block date thing on the desk. It listed month and day. If I knew the day of the week, I would be able to extrapolate out and figure out the year. July fifteenth at five thirty four pm is when I appear. Also it wasn’t at my place or yours but a new place. It was a house with a big backyard.”

“So after we move into a house and we aren’t on a case on July fifteenth and I am home around five I know to expect you and to seduce you, got it.”

“I’m sure that I remind you. It also has to have me visiting mom and Jack at science camp. It was a good time though. He was gentle and loving and it was everything I hoped my first time with you would be since I’d started to imagine it.”

“I feel a little jealous,” Aaron said but he could see that Spencer wasn’t trying to make him upset, just telling him the truth as he saw it. He was glad that his first time was something that he could look back on with happiness and Aaron was looking forward to it. Spencer laid down settling his head on Aaron’ chest, pulling the covers up just a little more to keep them warm. Aaron made a promise to himself that in the morning he’d wake Spencer up in just as wonderful a way. The evening out of the breathing of the younger man told Aaron that he was slipping into sleep and Aaron allowed himself to follow.

April 2011
Letting himself into his empty apartment was something that Aaron was loathe to do. He had gotten so used to Jack being there when they were not out on cases. Then there were the nights that Spencer stayed over. That wasn’t going to happen until Aaron was sure he could look at Spencer and not just tell him the truth. There was no way he’d be able to keep a straight face. He’d barely made it through the funeral weeks ago with Spencer crying. Aaron was alone in keeping the secret on the team. He’d pulled in favor after favor to hide Prentiss from everyone. She was in witness protection somewhere in the United States. There was a proper set of failsafes that would be tripped if Doyle even thought of looking for her. She’d been forced to have her hair cut and when it was safe it was going to be dyed. She hadn’t been happy about it but she had agreed to it. Of course she was still in a hospital. He got emails about the state of the small trust in Jack’s name that told him how she was doing.

Aaron missed Spencer like an ache in his heart but he couldn’t keep up with the lying. Spencer still came over but Aaron made sure that Jack was a wonderful buffer for it all. He watched from the sides as Spencer spent time with Jack. There had been a break down when Aaron had taken Spencer home with him after the hospital but he hadn’t come back to Aaron for comfort in the time since then. A discussion with Jack had told him that he was going to JJ’s. He had been hurt at first but he’d seen the good in it. He didn’t have to manage his reactions as much. He could be himself.

Flicking the small overhead light on for the bar area, he moved towards it. Aaron unlocked the cabinet and pulled out the expensive bottle of bourbon. He poured an over large glass of it and downed it in one go. He sighed as he set the glass down and then turned. Sitting on the couch was Spencer. Aaron looked at him and tried to place how old he was but the shadows cast over his face hide his true age from him. The haircut though told him that he was older.

“You’re home late,” Spencer said as he stood up. He moved over toward Aaron and reached around him to take the bottle of alcohol and lifted it and drank straight from it.

“Had too much work to do.”

Spencer hummed and handed the bottle back to him. Aaron took a drink before setting it back down and grabbing Spencer, kissing him. If Spencer was allowed to fuck future Aarons, Aaron could fuck future Spencers. He hauled him close and ravaged his mouth. Spencer gave back as good as he got. Aaron backed Spencer into the wall and where he’d been so careful with him in all their sexual encounters before this, he wasn’t careful this time. He grabbed hands and slammed them into the wall above their heads and Spencer just moaned into his mouth. Their teeth clacked together and Aaron just pushed even harder. He didn’t gentle the kiss down any until he tasted blood. Pulling back he looked at Spencer’s face and found that there was smeared blood on his lip but it didn’t look like his skin was split. The younger man just darted out his tongue and licked up the blood. That meant that Aaron’s lip was the one that was split but he didn’t feel the pain of it. The pain in his heart was greater.

“Where’s Jack?”

“I asked Jessica to keep him tonight. It sounds horrible but I couldn’t deal with him tonight.” Aaron tried to read the look that came over the other man’s face but he couldn’t. He wanted to ask how long she was going to be gone. How long their family was going to ache with her loss before he could bring her out of hiding but also didn’t want to know. To stop himself from asking, he kissed his lover again. Spencer pulled him in by the neck and thrust up into him. He was feeling desperate to Aaron it seemed.

Hands dropped to Spencer’s pants and jerked the belt open and he pulled hard enough on the pants to break the button, but he didn’t care. Shoving down on the other man’s pants, Aaron relished the gasp that came from his mouth. He stepped back and pulled Spencer with him before helping him out of his pants which had pooled at his feet. There was a moment where the younger man almost fell over when trying to get his pants off but Aaron grabbed his upper arm to stop him. He was fairly certain that it would bruise but he didn’t care. He needed this. He needed something to feel alive and he was certain that was why Spencer had traveled back to him. To help him. As Spencer backed down the hall with just a button up on, Aaron stripped himself naked. By the time he made it into the bedroom, Spencer had his shirt open and was about to take it off but Aaron kissed him and drove him backwards onto the bed. His hand reached out and snagged the lube from the nightstand. He’d found it under the bed and hadn’t had a chance to put it up.

Coating two fingers, he slid the first into Spencer and watched the man’s eyes close in pleasure. Leaning over, he took the right side nipple into his mouth and bit. Spencer’s hand grabbed his hair and Aaron expected to be pulled away but instead it held him there. He thrust his finger in and out a few times before switching to two. He felt Spencer’s muscles give and the younger man thrust onto his fingers. Other than gasps, Spencer was quiet. It was so unlike their other encounters. Usually there was moans and small pleas but this time nothing. He chalked it up to the grief that the younger man was feeling and pushed it from his mind. He pulled his fingers free and snagged the lube again to coat his cock. He licked up to Spencer’s neck as he centered himself to push into his lover. Spencer arched his back off the bed and Aaron bit down to keep him from trying to get away. He didn’t stop pushing until he was bottomed out. The genius was coated in a sheen of sweat.

“Fuck, Aaron. Yes. Hard. I want you to fuck me hard.” Spencer tried to thrust down on the cock inside of him but Aaron was holding him down and stopping him. He released his neck, seeing that it would probably bruise but didn’t care.

“Roll over. Up on your knees.” Aaron leaned back, pulling out of him carefully. Spencer rolled to his stomach and went to his knees but he didn’t kneel down. Instead he ripped his shirt off his body and tossed it to the side. He leaned over and braced himself on his arms. Aaron lined up and slid back inside of him, hard and fast. Spencer’s head dropped and his body shivered. Aaron stayed upright as he thrust in and out of Spencer. He wasn’t gentle as he fucked his guilt out on Spencer. He wrapped a hand around the man under him’s side and brushed his fingers over the tattoo. There was no raised skin but Aaron could see it in his mind, see his hands splayed over it.

When he was close, he looked and saw that Spencer had an arm thrown up and braced on the headboard. Aaron realized that they had moved up the bed a little. He started to feel a little bad but he knew that if he was hurting Spencer, the younger man would stop him and he sounded like he was into it. When Aaron reached around and palmed his cock, the younger man dropped his head onto a pillow and screamed. His entire body tensed and Aaron felt his cock twitch as he came. Aaron leaned up and braced an arm on the headboard and fucked into him harder and harder until he came himself.

It wasn’t until after he’d pulled out carefully, checking for blood, and let himself drop to the bed that he felt the tears. Spencer was on his stomach, his face turned towards him but his eyes closed.

“I’m sorry,” Aaron whispered but the opening of eyes told him that Spencer had heard him. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I need to know that you forgive me.” He knew that he and Spencer had made it through this. Whatever the outcome, he and Spencer were together in the future but that didn’t mean that Spencer had fully forgiven him. He knew that tears had to be rolling down his face but he didn’t care.

“Aaron? What do I have to forgive you for?” Spencer reached out with a hesitant hand and brushed his knuckles down his face, gathering up some of the tears. “I wanted sex and you didn’t hurt me.”

“No, for lying. For lying and telling you that Emily was dead.”

“WHAT?” Spencer shot up in the bed and looked down at Aaron and that’s when Aaron saw that there was no tattoo. He reached out a hand and checked and the skin was unmarred. He looked into a shocked face. “What do you mean you are lying about Emily being dead?”

“I…” Aaron sat up as well. This wasn’t a future Spencer. This was his Spencer with a new haircut. He looked at the younger man and knew that he’d made a big mistake. He needed to make sure that Spencer told no one. “Spencer, please you can’t tell anyone. No one knows.” Aaron leaned up and grabbed him by the shoulders. “You CAN’T tell ANYONE!”

“Let me go!” Spencer yelled and shoved him back. He scrambled off the bed and looked around the room. He moved to his shirt and grabbed it. Aaron bounded off the bed, knowing that he was going to go and find the rest of his clothes. He grabbed a pair of sleep pants from his drawer and slipped them on, moving too quickly after his lover and nearly tripping. By the time he caught up with Spencer the other man had his pants on, as well as one of his socks. He was jumping around on one foot trying to pull up his other sock. Aaron grabbed his arm and spun him back around. He looked into Spencer’s eyes and he could tell that something was off with him. The alcohol in his own system was affecting him more than it should have been and that was when he remembered that he hadn’t eaten lunch much less dinner. That wasn’t what was going on with Spencer though. His lover’s eyes were off, duller than normal and not from pain.

“Spencer, please. She’s safe, but if anyone thinks that she’s alive, Doyle will go after her and kill her,” Aaron begged. He needed Spencer to understand why he did it. Her life was worth the lies.

“Because I am a horrible liar.” Spencer dropped onto the arm of the couch and started to put his shoes on. Aaron was still. He couldn’t move forward. He’d fucked this up so bad. “You know exactly what this kind of thing can do to me, Aaron. There was no way that this went through the Bureau because Michaels would have told me. Which means that you don’t even trust us with this. Morgan spouts off at the mouth and JJ’s naive in some respects but I’ve shown that I am a consummate liar. But no, it’s not that you won’t tell me, you’ll only tell who you think is an older me. What were you hoping for absolution for lying to me? That older me would forgive you? You didn’t even ask me how old I was so you were hoping that this was short term. Well you know what, Aaron?”

Spencer stood up and moved towards the door, grabbing his coat and slipping it on before grabbing his messenger bag. He jerked the door open and then turned back to Aaron. “Fuck you. I don’t…I’ve never been disappointed in you. Even when you screamed to me that you wanted your father to not have died of a heart attack because it would prolong his pain. I could understand that but this…I don’t think that we need to see each other for a while. Not until I am sure that being around you isn’t going to make me travel. If Jack wants to see me, just text.”

The door was swinging shut and it slammed with a finality that Aaron didn’t want to think about. Was this the end of them? Had he done the impossible and changed the future?

Aaron slept poorly that night. He showered before bed and when he got up just to wake himself up. He drank coffee at his place and then got another cup on the way into work. He was going to need more coffee in his veins than blood to make it through the day. He was still the first to arrive and turned on the lights as he moved through the bullpen. It was normal. It was ritual. he pointedly didn’t look at Spencer’s desk because the picture from a winter visit to the zoo with Jack was sitting there, ready to mock him. He had no clue exactly how Spencer was going to act when he got into work but Aaron was going to play it however he wanted. There wasn’t a chance though that the team wouldn’t realize that something was going on.

“Aaron,” ADD Michaels said from the hallway leading farther into the depths of Quantico. “When you get your stuff settled down, join me in my office please.”

Aaron nodded. The ADD usually split his time between DC and Quantico as far as working so it wasn’t odd that he was there. What was odd was him waiting for Aaron. He quickly dropped his stuff off in his office, leaving the light off. Michaels was gone when he got back so Aaron made his way into the depths of the building. Michaels’ secretary wasn’t even in yet and his door was open so Aaron knocked on the doorframe.

“Come on in.”

“Sir.” Aaron took a seat and stared at him.

“I’m not going to tap dance around this. Doctor Reid came to see me last night and has requested, and I approved, an open ended sabbatical.”

Aaron’s heart leaped up in his throat and he just stared.

“We have cited health reasons on his paperwork so that Strauss can’t complain. He said that he’ll come in later today and talk to the rest of the team but that he needed the morning.”

“Sir, I can…”

“Off the record,” Michael interrupted. “He told me that it was deeply personal. I could see how wrecked he was and I agree that if he’s that upset, he’s better not in the field.”

Aaron looked away from Michaels and saw a paper about a request for someone to lead an investigative task force in Pakistan. He picked up the paper and looked it over. He had all the qualifications plus some extra. It was a six month tour but the ability to leave after four if needed for prior work. He just looked at the paper. Maybe distance would help. He wouldn’t have to look at the team. Wouldn’t have to go out on cases and see that empty space that Spencer had been in. Jack had Jessica and Spencer would be more apt to be around the boy if he wasn’t around. He’d be able to SKYPE with him every day. Distance. Distance was the perfect solution to it all.

Holding up the paper, Aaron nodded. “I’ll take this position.”

It took two hours to hammer out all the details and for Aaron to get his marching orders. He had a week before he’d leave. When he finally entered the bullpen it was to a lot of eyes on him and that’s when he saw it. Spencer’s desk was empty. There was nothing left on it. He had made sure not to look at it when he’d gotten to work that morning so he had no clue if Spencer had been in or not.

“Reid’s already talked to the rest of the team. He said that you and he said all you needed to say. What’s going on?”

“It’s personal.”

“Personal? Reid’s taking a sabbatical and that affects this team so it’s become un-personal.”

Aaron turned to Dave and glared. There must have been something on his face because the glare almost never worked on him, and he backed off. Dave held up his hands and moved to his office. JJ, Blake, and Morgan were all looking up at him, and he ignored them. He had to get his things together and talk to Jessica. There was a daycare service that he could use since he was going abroad that would help her and give her time to herself since it was going to be summer when he was gone. He’d make sure that his apartment was taken care of and mail forwarded to Quantico. Jessica was set up in her place and it wouldn’t take much to get her set up as an added person on his main bank account so that she could get things for Jack. She already had all medical rights when it came to Jack. He had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. With a final look at the empty desk, Aaron sat down to start to work on getting Morgan named as acting unit chief. He knew that Dave didn’t want it and he would back up Morgan if needed. Michaels had already agreed to it as had Strauss once she knew why Aaron was leaving. She was bound to be upset to lose two more members of the team but had to adjust quickly.

When Aaron boarded the military transport a week later, his only regret was that he’d never told Spencer. He had taken the man at his word and hadn’t contacted him at all. He’d had Jessica promise not to tell him until he was out of the country. Morgan and the team knew how to get ahold of him and Jessica had the SKYPE information. Distance and time, he just needed distance and time.

August 2011
Strauss left the team standing in the round table room. Prentiss had come back to the team. Aaron’s transfer to Pakistan had been pulled and he was back but the only person left was Spencer. Aaron hadn’t known that he’d ended his sabbatical but after talking to Strauss alone, he still hadn’t requested to come back to the team. He’d been working as just an agent inside the BAU before Prentiss’s return and had helped with the Doyle case just to help. He’d been shocked when he’d arrived back to Quantico and had seen him.

“You knew,” Morgan said interrupting Aaron’s thoughts. He looked to see exactly what was going on. He found Morgan standing in front of Spencer. “Of course you knew. Hotch’s friend, he probably doesn’t keep a single thing from you. Why the fuck didn’t you tell us?”

“Derek,” Garcia started as she moved towards him. Morgan shrugged off the hand that she settled on his shoulder. His eyes were locked on Spencer’s. Spencer just snorted at him.

“Morgan,” Blake said, trying to get his attention. The whole room was tense. Aaron expected to see some kind of emotion on Spencer’s face but there was nothing. Aaron looked at him. Really looked at him and all he saw was muted eyes. There was no spark of happiness in them. Aaron’s heart broke at that.

“Do you want to know how I know, Morgan?” Spencer took a step closer to him and Blake shifted from trying to keep Morgan back to being prepared to keep Spencer back. Aaron just stood on the far side of the room. JJ and Dave stepped closer. “Because Hotch was so wracked with guilt on keeping it a secret, of having to lie to his son as well as us that he broke down one night. The only thing is, he didn’t think it was me. No, he thought it was an older me. One who knew what had happened. He begged forgiveness for lying to me. Then, instead of saying he was sorry all he did was beg that I tell no one. So don’t you just sit there and blame me. I lost my best friend. I lost what makes me happy and I lost everything that gives me a reason to live because of that secret. So, you and your anger can go fuck yourself.”

The sound of a pin dropping could have been heard in the room but all Spencer did was grab his messenger bag and leave the room. No one even tried to stop him. He walked right to the stairs and went down them. When Aaron looked at the team, Garcia was crying silent tears while JJ and Prentiss looked on the verge of them. Morgan looked like he’d just watched someone kill Clooney in front of him. Dave and Blake were looking at each other.

“Hotch?” JJ asked.

“It was when he cut his hair short. I didn’t know that he was thinking of getting it cut at all. He was in my apartment and I had given him a key because sometimes he comes over to meet Jack when I have to work late and Jessica drops him off. I didn’t have the lights on and I thought it was an older him.”

“Henry got gum in his hair,” JJ said. She cleared her throat before continuing. “And it was high enough that it’s what caused the short hair. I paid to have it done. We don’t even know where Henry got the gum. It was that next day that he asked for the sabbatical.”

“Yes and that I agreed to the overseas transfer. He’s right. I didn’t even try and explain anything. I just begged that he not tell anyone. I was so worried about Prentiss that I never took him into account.”

“Why would you need to?” Prentiss asked.

“When his father left, his traveling ability shutdown but stress and grief can also make him travel more. His first day of high school, he traveled seventeen times in one day. It was short trips but still.”

“He came to my place for ten weeks crying. I wondered why it became more frequent after the sabbatical but now I understand. He visited Jack. Even brought him over to mine for visits or would take Henry with him. I think they went every weekend to the zoo.”

“That’s because the zoo is Jack’s favorite place and Reid knows all the facts. He actually started to run out and had to do more research on the animals at the zoo to find out more.” Aaron laughed despite everything. He remembered nights of Spencer reading up on things about lions and tigers just to have things to tell Jack. Aaron dropped into a chair at the table and cradled his head in his hands. Taking deep breaths he tried not to cry. He knew exactly how much he’d fucked up. He had already gone through how much he could have hurt Spencer. With him traveling uncontrollably, he’d have been pulled off active duty. If he was on a case, he could travel into a situation on a case that was harmful. Aaron hadn’t thought about him. He’d pushed to protect Prentiss so much that he’d neglected everyone else.

“I’m alive and we can fix this, Hotch.” Prentiss crouched at his side. She rested a hand on his knee. “Go and talk to him.”

“He’s not requested to join the team again,” Aaron stated.

“Then talk to him until he comes back,” Blake said from somewhere behind him.

“Tell him, I’m sorry. I spoke without thinking.”

“We’ve all fucked up a little on this,” Prentiss said.

Aaron took a deep breath and stood up. JJ hugged him and the whole team seemed to relax a little as they looked at him. “I’ll go talk to him. If no one has heard from me by morning, Reid’s killed me and you won’t find the body.”

“Too soon, Hotch,” Blake said but she was smiling. The team moved out of the room, Morgan with his arm around Garcia. JJ and Prentiss, arms linked. Blake and Dave moved towards his office. He texted Jessica and told her what his plans were. That he planned to get on his knees and beg. Jessica agreed to stay with him until he was done. After not seeing Jack that much, Aaron should have been going home to him but bringing Spencer home with him as well would make Jack happier. He knew that he and Spencer had broken up. It made him sad and he felt horrible for it, but hindsight was twenty-twenty.

Before he left, Aaron stopped by the showers and shaved. While the beard was good for face protection in the deserts of Pakistan, Jack hated it and really so did he. When he was done, he showered as well and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He chose carefully on the jeans. It was a pair of his that he’d brought to work on accident as after work clothes. The jeans were old and faded and the softest thing he owned. Spencer loved him in them.

The drive to Spencer’s was full of anxiety. He almost turned around three times by the time he parked in what had become his spot. He left everything in the car except for his keys. He moved to the stairs to go up to Spencer’s floor and tried once again when he got to the floor to turn around. He was the only one who could convince Spencer to come back though. The team wanted and needed him and Aaron had admitted to himself that he needed the genius in his life when he’d been unable to sleep a month into his stay in Pakistan. He’d stared at the stars and just thought about how exactly his life had gotten to where he was.

Aaron knocked before he could second guess or fiftieth guess himself. Spencer opened the door after a minute and he didn’t look shocked to see Aaron standing there. Worried he was going to be denied access, Aaron readied himself to slip his foot between jamb and door.

“Come on in, Hotch,” Spencer said as he turned away from the door. The use of the name Hotch burned. He was used to hearing it when they were working, but here in Spencer’s apartment he’d only ever been Aaron. He stepped inside and shut the door. He had a lot to apologize for, but he needed Spencer to look at him. The younger man was in the kitchen fixing what looked like a cup of tea. Aaron stopped at that. There was a string hanging out of the cup and while he was certain it could be bagged coffee, he’d seen Spencer use it before on cases but never in his own home. It was brewed or nothing. Aaron took a few steps to read the tag. It was chamomile tea. He’d never seen Spencer drink it before. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

“Spencer…”

“Reid,” Spencer said coldly. He turned around and leaned against the counter, eyeing Aaron. “We are nothing more than work colleagues. Best to keep the names formal. I’ll be discussing my placement with the bureau with Michaels and Strauss first thing Monday morning. Michaels was ready to rake you over the coals for hiding Prentiss like that.”

“I’ll talk to him if he wishes.”

“I don’t think he cares much at this point. He’s basically already told me that I can write a ticket anywhere in the Bureau and get what I want. I was thinking of going back to Vegas.”

“Don’t.” Aaron watched as Spencer’s head shot up. “Don’t go that far away.”

“You have no say in what I do.” The cold tone in Spencer’s voice sent alarms through Aaron’s mind. He looked at him and saw that his eyes were still the muted looking they had been. He wanted to know what had gotten them looking like that. He was worried about his words to Morgan about taking away his reason to live. Aaron didn’t want to be his reason to live. He wasn’t ready for that type of commitment. While he knew that before all of this they had been together for what he assumed was the rest of their lives, it hadn’t happened yet. He was at his place and Spencer was at his. There was no pressure.

“I’m sorry for leaving like I did. I’m sorry I took the coward’s way out and left without telling you. When Dave found out, he bitched me out. Jessica told me that you came by that weekend. She was so mad at me as well. We can’t fix this if you go away.”

“I was under the impression that you didn’t want to fix this.” Spencer looked away from him, taking a sip of his tea. “Or what was I supposed to think about you running to Pakistan without even letting me know.”

“I deserve that. I was such an idiot and I regretted it after I was there a week.” Aaron moved closer and when Spencer didn’t even look up or move away, he moved right into his space and stopped when he could feel the heat off of his body. “Give me a chance to fix this, please.” He cupped the younger man’s cheek and forced his eyes up to his. He could see the mutedness but there was sadness there as well. Aaron hurt with how much pain he’d given him. “Please come back.”

Aaron closed the distance between them slowly. He made his movements known so that Spencer could push him away if he wanted. With his free hand he pulled the mug from Spencer and set it on the counter behind him. When he brushed his lips on Spencer’s, it was tentative. When there was no reaction, Aaron brushed them over Spencer’s in a firmer manner. The sigh that escaped Spencer told Aaron all he needed to known and he closed the small distance between their bodies. Spencer lifted his hands and framed Aaron’s face, the warmth from the mug burned his cheeks but he didn’t care. All he cared about was the way that Spencer was kissing him back. The pressure, the warmth, and the taste of his lover.

When he felt on the verge of tears, Aaron pulled his lips away and wrapped his arms around Spencer to hold him close. Face tucked into his neck, Spencer relaxed into him. “If you ever do anything like this again, I’ll go. You’ll never see me again. Even if I travel to a spot ten feet away from you, you won’t know I am there.”

“I won’t. I promise.” Aaron kissed the top of his head.

“So exactly what are you going to tell Jack?” Spencer asked, but the tone was something that Aaron had only heard when he was interrogating UnSubs. It was his “I am smarter than you” voice and Aaron didn’t like it being used on him. He pulled back to look at Spencer’s face. There were no clues there.

“What do you mean?” Aaron asked.

“What exactly are you going to tell Jack? He attended a funeral that was very much like his mother’s funeral. You told him that his Aunt Emily was dead but now she’s alive. How exactly are you going to explain it to him that you lied? How are you going to explain it in a way that isn’t going to mess with him? What exactly are you going to tell him that isn’t going to get his hopes up that his own mother isn’t going to come back as well?”

Aaron took a deep breath and considered how he was going to tell Spencer that he didn’t lie to Jack. He knew his son well and knew the boy could keep this secret. He didn’t want to hurt Spencer anymore than he already was and knowing that Jack knew when he didn’t just might push him away further. He knew he was taking too long to answer when Spencer continued.

“Didn’t go that far with your plan did you? I spent a day wondering if you’d hid her away like that but when you told Jack. When you took Jack to her funeral…I didn’t think you would be that heartless. That’s what made me believe that she was truly dead and then your little confession after fucking me. The ground dropped out from under me with that. I could only think of Jack. How much it was going to mess with him. You need to call his therapist and talk to her before you talk to him. I suggest telling him with she’s around. Probably Jessica too. He’s too much like you and he won’t like that you lied to him.”

“Like he’s going to like that his friend Tristan who, in his eyes, doesn’t visit enough, is really you?” Aaron asked, his voice hard. Spencer looked like he expected that barb.

“He knows. He thinks it’s kind of awesome that I time travel. Of course, he wanted to tell his friends but between Jessica and I, we explained that he couldn’t. I was visiting him and I disappeared only to appear back about two hours later. By then Jessica had explained most of it to him. Then Tristan appeared in the living room the next day. Jack was shocked when he ran to me. He was nine and mom and dad were in the middle of a giant screaming match. Jack wasn’t aware that I knew Tristan and well…Tristan blurted out how could he not know me because we were the same person. Jack put it all together and they played until Tristan left a few hours later. Jack then made the comment that he wondered why you had a drawer in your room of some of his older clothes. He donated an outfit to the pile. He gave up his Spiderman shirt and his blue shorts with a Captain America and an Iron Man sock as well. He understands secrets. He’ll understand protecting her but he’s going to be very upset that his mother can’t come back like that.”

“Spencer,” Aaron sighed and knew he had to say something. “Jack knew. I told him the truth because I thought about it and knew what it might do to him, but I love that your first thought in this whole thing was Jack , and that doesn’t change the fact that I ran like a coward to not have to face the team and the ghost of you.”

“Jack understood that part. That you were out there doing good. Although I think you’ll score brownie points for shaving off the fungus on your face.” Spencer smiled at the words he said but it wasn’t a happy smile. “He asked me what grew on things that it shouldn’t and changed them and the first thing that I could think of was fungus and well…that’s how your unfortunate facial hair got it’s name.”

“He wouldn’t tell me where he got the name from.” Aaron stepped closer again and pulled him close, brushing lips over his forehead in an apology. “JJ said you spent a lot of time with him and Henry.”

Spencer laughed and Aaron wondered exactly what he was laughing at. “I…I traveled to when Jack is home visiting from college.”

That piqued something in Aaron’s memory. He remembered older Spencer. The picture of his son and his partner and their daughter. He tried to remember the picture to see the partner. His best friend. Jack’s best friend growing up.

“I don’t know who was more shocked, me or Jack.”

“Or Henry?” Aaron asked. He closed his eyes and laughed. He couldn’t see the picture but Jack loved to play with Henry even though he was a few years younger than him. “Wait where were you?”

“At home.”

“What were they doing there?” Aaron figured that the dodge of home meant that it was a place that they shared together.

“We were away on a case over spring break for Henry and Jack. Henry was just starting college by the look of him. You aren’t shocked.”

“An older Spencer showed me a picture of his son once and said that his partner was his best friend growing up. Apply son to Jack and best friend to how I have see those two and it wasn’t hard to get four. I just hadn’t thought about it. So you were a cock block?”

“Unfortunately yes. They brought their dog with them. I startled the dog and Jack came running down the stairs with your gun from the desk in your office.”

“They were having sex in my office?” Aaron was incredulous. He wasn’t shocked on the gun. He’d started teaching Jack about gun safety before he went to school. “Remind me when we get back from that case to disinfect my office.”

“He had a condom on so you know that whatever sex talk you have with him stuck.”

Aaron couldn’t help but laugh at that. He stood there and laughed with Spencer in his arms. He didn’t want to think of Jack having sex, ever. “Come back with me. I won’t push. I just. I want to feel you in my arms when I sleep. I got used to a body there on occasion. I want to thank you for helping with Jack. I know that you could have just not bothered at all.”

Aaron had heard about moments like it before. That moment where you knew that you had said something so monumentally stupid that you wanted to take it back but Aaron couldn’t. There wasn’t just anger in Spencer’s eyes. There was disgust and malice too. He had never see that look on his face before. Not even when they were dealing with UnSubs. Aaron was about to start backing up when Spencer advanced on him. The first poke to his chest happened and all that Spencer could do was mutter incoherent words. Aaron took another step back and all Spencer did was step as well. A poke to his chest happened again and it was starting to hurt.

“YOU!” Spencer uttered before he poked him again. He withdrew his hand and it looked for a second like Spencer just might slap him. Aaron would have taken it. He knew that he’d said exactly the wrong thing. He had never in his life said something so horrible.

“Spencer.”

“No. You don’t get to talk. You get to listen to me and keep your mouth shut!” Spencer spat at him and Aaron nodded. “I don’t know exactly what being in Pakistan has done to your brain but you need to get it checked out. What part of my fucking life has given you the thought that I would EVER leave a child who loved me? Did the heat scramble your brain?”

Aaron didn’t answer because while Spencer had asked him a question, he hadn’t been given leave to talk yet and he wasn’t going to do another thing to vex him. Aaron just kept his mouth shut and let Spencer stare at him.

“You know that I love Jack with all my heart and that love isn’t dependent on yours. It’s nowhere near that. If you think that I would ever leave a child, you can just take your ass out of my place and never darken my doorstep again.”

Still Aaron kept his mouth shut. He wanted to say so many things. He said something stupid and he wanted to correct it. He knew that Spencer would never leave a child. Not after what his father did to him. Not after Jack had lost his mother.

The sound of an alarm going off startled both of them. Spencer reached into his pants and pulled out his phone. He silenced the alarm and turned back towards the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle and shook out two pills and tossed them into his mouth. Aaron could only watch as he swallowed them with a bottle of water that was sitting there on the counter. He moved to the sink and filled it back up before setting it back down near the bottle. It was a prescription bottle. Spencer didn’t take anything. Aaron knew that from working the field with him.

“You can speak,” Spencer said as he grabbed his tea back up and moved towards the chair.

Aaron wanted to start with the bottle but he decided to wait instead. “I am sorry for what I said. It was stupid and I wasn’t thinking. I know that you would never leave him. I’ve known that since the moment that I figured out that I was the partner you talked about. What I meant to say was that you kept him happy while I was gone. You and Jessica took care of him when I wasn’t here and I love you for that.”

“Okay.” Spencer sipped at his tea again, his eyes going to the bottle and then to Aaron. He was waiting. He wasn’t going to offer information but it didn’t seem that he didn’t want to not talk about it.

“Are you sick?”

“Depends on your definition of sick.” Word play meant that he was ashamed of them.

“What are the pills?”

“Mood stabilizers. I’ve been on them since two days after Emily’s funeral. Doctor Tanaka and I were afraid of what the grief was going to do to my traveling and we’d had limited success with the pills before. I was on double the dose for a while but we’ve cut that back.”

“You went on double after our fight and when I left.” Aaron waited for the nod before he stepped closer to him. “What are they treating?”

“Depression. Anxiety. Also, they help me sleep.”

“You never talked to me about this.” Aaron felt sick. That explained his eyes. How had he not noticed before that. He hadn’t noticed the change in his eyes until that night of their fight. When he’d confessed his sins. The doctor was probably using a higher dosage to make sure he was stable.

“You’d pulled back after the funeral and I tried to get you to talk but you never wanted to. I gave you space because the one time I tried to talk to you, you got mad and I’d rather have you distant than mad. It was so close to Haley and I just wanted you to get better. I wanted to feel better. Then the confession and you left. I came to your house to tell you about the pills and how I’d been doubled up because the day after our fight I traveled seven times, even on the medicine.”

“What is it?” Aaron moved into the living room and crouched in front of the chair but Spencer shifted his legs and Aaron smiled. He sat down in the chair and pulled Spencer’s legs over his, it was the same way they had been sitting the night that he’d found out that Spencer was Tristan. It felt good.

“Seroquel. And we are slowing down my dose. It was never meant for long term just to help keep me from traveling and it adding to my agitation and anxiety which was stopping me from sleeping which was making it all worse.” Spencer sighed and closed his eyes. Aaron could see his hands were shaking so he took the mug and set it down on the table at his side. Spencer curled into him and Aaron wrapped his arms around him, pulling him close. The head tucked under his shifted and then he could feel hot breath on his neck. His hand started to rub up and down the younger man’s back.

Aaron didn’t think anything of Spencer’s silence until he felt the wetness on his shirt. Before he could even reach up to touch his face, Spencer’s whole body was shaking with the tears that he was crying. Aaron chose to just hold him. Words were inconsequential right now. Spencer just needed to be held. He needed to purge out all the emotions he’d been holding in check and Aaron was a safe place to let them out.

It was half an hour later that Aaron realized that Spencer wasn’t crying anymore and that he was a dead weight on him. His plan had been to talk to Spencer and get him to come back home with him. Jessica was waiting on him. So, he made a snap decision because he didn’t want to wake up Spencer and he didn’t want to not see Jack.

Aaron lifted his phone to his ear and brushed hair from Spencer’s face. He looked at peace, happy.

“Aaron, how is Spencer?”

“Asleep on me. Do you think you’d mind bringing Jack here? I want to see him and seeing us together will be good for him given the roughness of the last few months. I’d also love it if you would pack me a change of clothes.”

“I can do that. I’ve dropped Jack off to Spencer’s before so I know where he lives. Jack is waiting for you so it won’t take long for him to get packed. I’ll see you soon.”

Aaron wondered if he’d be able to stand up with Spencer in his arms or if he would drop him. He shifted the younger man a little and felt that he was lighter than he had been. He knew that Seroquel could cause some people to lose weight mainly because of a decrease in appetite but he was fairly certain that Spencer’s loss of weight had more to do with grief than his medication. He’d make sure that they got up in time for breakfast at Spencer’s diner and if Jack hadn’t been there with him before, it would be a treat for the boy. His legs shook a little as he stood but Aaron maintained and found that it wasn’t hard to carry him into bed. Either the pill had kicked in or it hadn’t been helping him sleep as much because he didn’t wake when Aaron stripped him of his pants or his over shirt. Left in just boxers and a t-shirt, Aaron covered him up and moved to wait for Jack. He found linens for the couch and set it up. Jack wouldn’t mind sleeping on the couch, if he didn’t end up in bed with him, happy to have his dad home. Aaron vowed he wasn’t going to do anything like that again. It had hurt him far more than it had helped him. He had what he needed.

October 2011
Aaron had been excited to find a new training partner. Beth seemed like she was going to be fun to run and bike with. Right up until Dave made a comment about getting back on the bicycle. The look on Spencer’s face of utter confusion had just added to Aaron’s own. Then on the plane. There had been no down time on the case where Aaron could talk to Spencer alone and he wanted to talk to him. He’d heard what the team had been pushing at. He’d heard the statistics about men going out on dates after divorce.

He watched Spencer through the whole case but nothing. He didn’t act any different than normal. The first night though he did notice that he’d taken his Seroquel. He was down to a low dose but Tanaka was lowering the dose at a much slower rate than would be used with most people. No one on the team commented on seeing him take them or that two cases ago, Aaron had not woken him up when the UnSub struck in the middle of the night. He knew that even if he was able to get Spencer awake, keeping him awake would be impossible with the Seroquel. He wasn’t sure who on the team knew that Spencer was on a mood stabilizer but it wasn’t his place to talk about it. The cases where Spencer had to take the dose late, JJ always had a cappuccino waiting on him when he woke up. Outside of Aaron, Spencer spent the most time with JJ and Blake so he kind of figured that those two knew more than anyone else.

On the flight home, Spencer sat with Blake and Dave and discussed a new book that had come out that all three of them were interested in. Aaron sat alone and tried to work on as much paperwork as he could so that he could enjoy the next day off. He had plans with Spencer and Jack and didn’t want anything to mess them up. After Haley had died, it was a rush to get Jack’s things set up at his apartment. The room was a mishmash of things that Aaron had on hand and things from the house. The bed had been the one that Aaron bought for him when he graduated out of a crib. It had bars at one point but those were long gone. The desk and bookshelves were from the house. A dresser was bought quickly because his from the house was too big for the room and the one that Aaron had for him wasn’t big enough for his clothes.

Jack’s room had been emptied of all things before they had been called out on the case and instead of going ahead with the painting, Jack wanted to wait until he and Spencer were back. So Jessica took Jack to her place for the duration of the case. Aaron wasn’t going to be shocked if Jack woke them up at the crack of dawn to get started on painting his room. Aaron was looking forward to it. He hoped that the closeness of the day would get rid of whatever he was feeling. He and Spencer had been wonderful since August but there was something else just on the edge of Aaron’s mind that was stopping him from being truly happy and he couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Plans on your day off?” Dave asked.

“Redecorating Jack’s room. We got called out on the day we were supposed to start it.”

“The kid going to be helping?”

“Of course, it’s his room.” Aaron waited for Dave to get to the point of what he was asking.

“No, Reid. Since he came back to the team, you two seem to be joined at the hip when we have down time. Maybe that’s why you haven’t been dating?” Dave asked.

“Reid is the only person that Jack wants to spend time with since his mother’s death other than Jessica, Henry, and me. I’m not going to deny him that.”

“And you shouldn’t, but that has to get old. Even if he is your best friend. Why don’t you and Jack work on his room together. It’ll be a wonderful father/son project.”

Aaron thought about it for a moment and he didn’t know what to think. Dave’s words made sense. He looked at his friend though and tried to figure out why he cared so much. Had they all been waiting to see him make a mention of dating again before bringing it up? He liked that they cared, but he was happy with what he had. They didn’t know what he had but he didn’t want their meddling.

“So I’m supposed to deny Jack what he wants because you think that my friendship with Reid is keeping me from dating?” Aaron looked out of the corner of his eyes but Spencer was reading a book with a pair of headphones in. Blake looked like she was reading as well. Prentiss, JJ, and Morgan were out of sight in the seats in front of Aaron but they had been sleeping.

“No. Jack will love to have some just you and him time. He’s probably just used to having Reid there for everything and believe me it was nice of him to step in and help when Haley died but it’s time for some you and him time.”

“I don’t…”

“Aaron, he needs to get out there himself.”

Dave’s words made sense but not for them. Neither of them needed to get out there. They had each other, they loved each other. It just wasn’t time to tell the team that. Before Prentiss’s faked death Aaron had been thinking of it. The team wasn’t back on steady feet anymore.

“He’s not even been on a date, ever.”

“How do you know?”

“Morgan and Garcia tried to get him to go out with them. He turned them down. Then, when Morgan was talking to him about a wonderful woman that he thought that he might like, Reid told him that he didn’t want to date. We know that with his traveling and intelligence, he’s isolated.”

The sound of a moving body alerted Aaron that someone was up and moving around. Aaron looked up to see that it was Spencer and he could see that his headphones hadn’t been connected to anything. Using the noise cancelling effect of the headphones without having music playing in them. Aaron sighed.

“Rossi, have you ever entertained the thought that the reason that I turned down going out with Garcia and Morgan was that I didn’t want to go to a club. That the crush of people and the throbbing, pounding music would trigger a traveling event? Or that the reason I turned down Morgan’s generous offer to go on a blind date with a woman was that I am not interested in women? Tulsa two months ago, the team, minus Aaron, got into a discussion of first kisses because of something that Garcia said on the phone. I guess that when I said that I’d been kissed by a girl first and a boy second and that I liked the second kiss better kind of went over everyone’s heads.” Spencer paused to take a breath and he turned from Dave to Aaron and Aaron shivered at the look in his eye and it wasn’t from pleasure. “Don’t worry, Hotch. You and Jack have fun. Alex and James invited me out to lunch since he’s in town and wanted to meet up with me.”

Spencer moved back to his seat and this time he plugged the headphones into an MP3 player. He opened his book back up and pointedly looked at no one.

“Spence?” JJ asked. She leaned over to try and get his attention but it was futile. Prentiss got up from her seat and sat down beside him and nothing. He wasn’t turning pages.

“He’s in his head,” Aaron said. JJ turned to look at him while Prentiss just looked up. “All he can hear is the music and all he can see is whatever he has going on in his head. It’s a coping technique he’s learned as a kid to try and calm his mind. It didn’t stop him from traveling but he does it when he’s emotionally overwhelmed. The only thing that is going to pull him out is the landing of the jet.”

“Aaron,” Dave started but he stopped when Aaron looked at him.

“Spencer knows little of social cues,” Blake started. She stopped for a second and Aaron saw Morgan shifting to what had been JJ’s seat, he leaned out so that he could see everyone. “Growing up like he did with his mother and then the traveling, his intelligence that put him six years ahead of his peers. He reads body language to tell him when someone is bored with what he says. In one discussion, Dave you have insinuated in his mind that he has been taking advantage of his best friend and spending too much time with him and his son. You’ve also seemingly missed what the rest of us had figured out in Tulsa. The last time that Morgan invited Spencer out they went to a bar. No pulsing lights, no loud music. He said that he had a wonderful time, even with Morgan scoping out guys for him. He said that he’d do it again. He is a grown man who knows what he wants. Hotch is also a grown man who can tell Spencer when he feels he’s spending too much time with him and Jack. Stick your nose back into your business.”

Aaron closed his eyes and tipped his head back onto his seat. Dave was silent and the rest of the team was as well. The last hour of the flight was dead silent. Aaron was too lost in his own mind that he barely registered when they landed, but he realized that Spencer had come out of his mind as soon as they had touched down. His MP3 player and book were put up in his bag and he was the first off with his go bag in hand. He was in his car driving away. Aaron had been shocked that he’d driven to the case when he’d realized it. He hadn’t had the chance to ask him about it. Then the thought of the meds he was on and how it slowed down his traveling so maybe he felt safe driving into work.

Dave got into his car after handing off his report. The man was sulking and Aaron knew it was going to be an epic one. He hated that someone had gotten a better read on someone than him. Aaron just wanted to get in his car and go after Spencer. Morgan stepped up to him and took Dave’s file.

“I’ll take care of these Hotch. You go and try and settle down Pretty Boy. He didn’t look good. I didn’t know that Dave felt that he was taking advantage of you and your time together. And when we went out that last time, he told me that he had a significant other but asked me not to tell the rest of the team, that he’d tell them when the time was right. I figured that you would know but if you didn’t, just pretend.”

“No, I know. The problem is that he’s not around right now.”

“Is it that partner he’s talked about? I think that what Dave was trying to say was that as long as Spencer spent time with you he was never going to meet that partner.”

“It’s him.”

“Look the way that I see it, if you are happy and he’s happy and Maddox doesn’t kick your ass, no one else should have a say in how much time you spend with anyone.”

“Maddox isn’t ever going to have an issue with me hanging around Spencer.” Aaron thought about how Spencer had talked to someone on the team about them it just wasn’t who he thought it would be and using his rarely said middle name as his partner’s name was smart. He should have thought about it given that Spencer used his own in the past. He didn’t know what it was that hadn’t put him and that elusive partner into the same little hole in Spencer’s life. He had been blind, too much wanting the younger man to understand that he was what the man had wanted.

“Thanks, Morgan.” Aaron moved to his car, which he had parked next to Spencer’s and found the younger man’s file under his wiper. He picked it up and handed it over to the other agent.

“Text me when you get him settled, okay?”

“Sure.”

Two hours later, Aaron had no clue where Spencer was. He wasn’t at his apartment and he wasn’t at Aaron’s. He called and texted and had only gotten one thing back. Spencer asked him that unless it was a case, he wanted to be left alone. He’d turned back for home when he got that. He really didn’t want to go home without the genius but there was nothing else he could do but give him space. Aaron knew exactly what he did wrong. He should have told Dave that his life was his own and shut him down instead of trying his hardest to keep Dave happy at the expense of Spencer. Yes, Jack liked to have him around, but Aaron liked it too and he never fully outright said that. It was all about Jack. He’d been a coward. There was something else there as well. Something that had been nagging about Spencer and his reactions around the team for over a month. He hadn’t been able to put his finger on it.

Jessica met him at the door, which was odd but when he heard laughing, he hoped. Aaron rushed in to where the couch was but instead of his Spencer it was an older Spencer. He looked to be somewhere in his fifties or sixties.

“Aaron,” Spencer said with a smile on his face.

“Where are you?” Aaron asked. If Spencer was thrown by the question, he didn’t show it. Instead he moved up and cupped Aaron’s face.

“Jealousy is a two way street Aaron. You were so jealous of yourself without ever knowing it. How do you think that I feel, watching as you don’t even tell the team that you are fine. That you aren’t looking for someone. I don’t want you to come out and make a grand expression of your love but something that tells the team you are fine would be nice.”

“So nothing about where you are hiding?”

“Hiding? I’m getting my head on straight. I’m in the place I always go when I need to get my head on straight, in the correct timeline at that. It’s not my fault that you didn’t even think to check there.” Spencer smiled at him and then he was gone.

“Dad! Spencer said that my room is going to look so cool when we are done with it.” After hugging him, Jack looked behind him at the shut door. “Is Spencer not coming?”

When Aaron didn’t say anything, Jack’s eyes widened.

“Did you fight again?”

“Sort of. It wasn’t just me though. Uncle Dave made him mad and I didn’t stop him.”

“Why not?”

“Because I was an idiot.” Aaron looked at Jessica who was getting ready to go. “You can stay, Jess.”

“No, I think that father/son time is just what you need.” Jessica kissed his cheek and then she was gone. Aaron didn’t know what to think of it.

“Is that why Spencer called earlier? Why Jessica didn’t let me talk to him? Was he telling Jessica that he wasn’t coming.”

Aaron sat down on the couch and pulled Jack to sit beside him. “I don’t know why Spencer called earlier. I don’t know what he said to her.”

“Why don’t you tell the team about you? Would they be that upset with you for loving him?”

“I don’t know how they would react. I just…I guess that I don’t want to share that with them. I can understand why aunt JJ tried to keep uncle Will a secret for as long as she did. Them knowing does change things and Spencer has never brought it up. He’d never talked about wanting the others to know.”

The phone rang and Aaron moved towards it. The caller id stated that it was his house. He cocked his head to the side and picked it up.

“Hotchner Residence.”

A snort was the only thing that came down the line and then a giggle. The sound that came next sounded like two people fighting over the phone. An over dramatic sigh came next. Aaron was about to hang up when the scuffle stopped and a voice came over the phone.

“Aaron?” Tom asked. He sounded normal but someone else was there giggling. “I just wanted to let you know that I have Spencer here. A drunk Spencer.”

“He’s what?” Aaron had never heard of Spencer getting drunk before. He wasn’t allowed to drink on the Seroquel so he was worried about that as well.

“Tell him that the doctor has weaned me off the pills,” Spencer said in the background just loud enough for Aaron to hear.

“I heard him,” Aaron said but he was tempted to drive out there.

“Good. I’m not sure if he’s sad or mad or what has caused this but I’ve cut him off and I have him in the house. He was in the hideaway. Good news is that it takes nearly a whole bottle of rum to get him drunk, for future reference. I’m going to go. He said he wanted to be up to help Jack paint his room so I’ll make sure.”

“Did he drive there?”

“Yes and I have his keys. I’m going to sleep with them under my pillow. There isn’t a place in this house that is safe from him and his lock picking skills. I’ll make sure he’s up in time to get to your place by eight am.”

“Thank you, Tom.”

“I’d do anything for him.” Tom hung up and Aaron was quite certain that the man was mad at him.

“Spencer will be here by eight in the morning to help with your room Jack so I think we need to see about getting some dinner and then a bath for you.”

“Okay.” Jack seemed in better spirits now that he knew that Spencer was going to come by. Aaron wondered if that was the only reason he was coming by. If Jack wasn’t depending on him, would he be coming by? He knew that Spencer loved Jack but was that the only thing keeping him around? Things had been rocky since his return but Aaron didn’t know if it was coming from him or from Spencer. He was hesitant on his own. Was Spencer picking up on that? He didn’t know and he wasn’t sure that he liked not knowing.

Aaron moved to Jack’s empty room and found that the only thing that hadn’t been taken down was a calendar. It was a week to Halloween and Aaron knew that Jack was excited. Garcia had sewn him his costume for the year. His eyes tracked back to the beginning of the month and he felt nauseous. Spencer’s birthday had passed and he hadn’t done a thing for it. Spencer had been there that day. There hadn’t been a case. He’d been in a new sweater and Aaron had commented on it and Spencer had said he’d bought it as a gift for himself. He hadn’t even said a thing about anyone missing it.

The only thing that Aaron felt was anger. He knew it was stupid but he was mad at himself and mad at Spencer. Spencer should have brought it up. Did he expect everyone to just remember? He was shocked that Garcia hadn’t but that wasn’t here nor there to him. His anger kept him awake a lot longer than he would have liked.

When morning dawned, Aaron was tired and more than ready to just go back to bed but he knew that he couldn’t disappoint Jack. He showered to try and remove the feeling of crappiness from his body and then braved the living room. He was sure that Jack was already awake and preparing for painting. The day that they had made the plans, Aaron had listened to a two hour discussion between Spencer and Jack on how to make sure that no paint got on things that it didn’t need to go on. Drop cloths, paint tape, and other things were bought. Jack had even gone through his clothes and found a t-shirt and pants that he wanted to become his work clothes. The smell of pancakes filled his nose and Aaron took off to the kitchen.

He expected to find Jack at the stove cooking but instead he found Spencer.

“What are you doing?” Aaron asked. He knew that his tone was sharper than it needed to be but he didn’t care. It wasn’t even seven am yet. What the hell was he doing there? How did he look so good when he was so drunk last night?

“I called and Jack answered the phone. He was awake so he let me in.”

“You’ve said I can answer the phone if it’s a number I know. I know Spencer’s number.”

“I know. You can’t just open up the door to strangers though.”

“He stayed on the phone and he did his special knock. I heard it through the phone and the door.” Jack was sounding more and more upset while Spencer’s face was just shutting down.

“Jack…” Aaron started but stopped when Spencer switched off the knob on the stove. He walked over to Jack and crouched at his side, whispering something in his ear. Jack looked at Aaron and then turned back to him. His son nodded and then hugged Spencer. Jack looked back at Aaron.

“I want pancakes for breakfast, dad.”

“Isn’t that what Spencer is cooking for you?” Aaron asked after a minute of trying to process what had happened but he looked and Spencer was gone from the room. He heard the click of the front door shutting. Aaron ran to his bedroom and threw on a pair of pants. He didn’t care about going out without a shirt but he wasn’t going in his underwear. As he was racing out the front door the doors on the elevator were shutting. Aaron ran to the steps and started down them. When he reached the bottom he didn’t see Spencer anywhere and he waited for the elevator to make it down. When it opened finally, there was only an older couple on it. He waited and even checked the stairs but Spencer was nowhere to be found.

Opening his front door, Aaron saw that Jack was still seated at the table. His glass of milk was half gone but his plate still empty. Aaron moved to the stove to see that the pancake in the pan was done just a little cool. He heated the skillet back up and cooked two for Jack, eating the first one cold with nothing on it.

“What did Spencer say?”

“That you weren’t up for company and that it was best that maybe he didn’t help today. Can I have Uncle Derek come and help me?”

“You don’t want me to help?” Aaron felt crushed.

“I think maybe you need some you time, daddy. Maybe then you will feel better.”

“I’ll call Morgan and ask him.”

Aaron grabbed his phone and texted Morgan. It wasn’t long before he got a message back from the other agent. He’d be over within the hour. Aaron went to his office and shut the doors. He heard Morgan arrive thirty five minutes later and Aaron let him in before going back.

He sat at his desk and thought about his life. He hadn’t thought a single thing of how much Jack had come to rely on Spencer. How much his son turned to Spencer and not him. He wasn’t sure that it was a good thing so close to Haley’s death. But what could he do?

November 2011
Aaron knew body language. He knew it well, especially a certain person’s body language. So when he got off the elevator to see Spencer standing there, leaning against the wall outside his apartment door on a Tuesday after work, he knew that it was going to end in the fight that had been building since that damned case where Dave had opened his mouth and inserted his foot and Aaron hadn’t done a thing. The younger man wasn’t dressed in the same clothes that he had been in at work. He’d been wearing a sweater at work. There was something familiar about the clothes but he couldn’t place it. He was a little shocked to see that he had his gun on him and no messenger bag.

“Spencer.”

“Hotch.”

That hurt. Aaron though got angry instead of sad. Spencer had barely spoken to him since leaving the week before, disappointing Jack. The room had been finished, exactly to the way that Jack and Spencer had planned but it wasn’t the same. What was supposed to be a fun day with Jack had turned into hell because of him.

“I’d rather not do this in the hall.”

“For once, we agree on something,” was the only thing that Spencer said. He looked at Aaron with a strange look on his face and he couldn’t place it. He let himself into the apartment, Spencer waited for the alarm to go off before he stepped inside and shut the door.

Aaron knew what he wanted to talk about. What had been the elephant in the room. The team had been shocked by the handshake that he’d given Spencer at the impromptu birthday they had thrown for the younger man. Spencer had been the first to leave the party. He’d moved over to his messenger bag and pulled a small wrapped box out of it. Then he’d set it down at the table in front of Aaron.

“Since I’m on leave starting when I leave today, I wanted to make sure you got your birthday present.” Spencer had left then. Walking out without even looking back at him. Aaron had taken it for what it was, a jab. The team hadn’t known what to say to that. They just stared at the box. Aaron never wanted his birthday celebrated like the others did. Gifts were slipped into his office and a single cupcake would be found on his desk after he took lunch. His birthday, when they were in town, was the only time he indulged in a long lunch alone. Up until the start of the fights, Aaron had been looking forward to inviting Spencer to go with him. Then the genius had put in a leave request to go visit his mother starting on the first of November and running for a week. Aaron had opened the gift and sighed at the custom made set of black cufflinks. He knew the image that had been etched into the face of them. It was the hideaway. His anger at the younger man had been building again since then. If he had wanted Aaron to have the gift before he left, he could have not made a scene at work. He could have dropped it off at the apartment or even given it to Jessica.

“When does your flight leave?”

“Doctor Norman called, mom is refusing to see me. I changed my ticket to an open flight time and I’ll call back each morning to see if that’s changed.”

“Does she do that often?”

“No. This is the second time.”

“That was a shitty thing you did, at the office.” Aaron finally turned around to face him. Spencer hadn’t moved from the doorway. He was nervous. He was nervous to be alone with Aaron. Aaron didn’t care.

“What, making sure that you got your gift? My flight was set to leave and I didn’t have time to stop by and give it to you. I had to run to the store on my break to pick it for you. I didn’t have it when we started the case. I got the call it was done yesterday. Sorry for wanting to give you a gift.”

“You could have given it to me in private.”

“We haven’t exactly been allowing ourselves to be alone with each other, Hotch.”

“Quit calling me that!” Aaron took a step towards him but he didn’t back up or seem to be backing down. He just widened his stance and cocked an eyebrow at him.

“Why? It’s your name. It’s who you’ve been for months now. Hotch is the leader. The one who can’t show weakness. You came back from Pakistan changed in ways that I can’t understand. Oh, you showed weakness that night in my apartment but you woke up Hotch the next morning and you’ve not changed since then.”

“Stop.”

“The truth hurts doesn’t it? Like going through work all day expecting anything from you. Something that acknowledged that it was my birthday but nothing. I couldn’t give a crap that the team didn’t remember. Then I thought that maybe you just didn’t want to draw attention. You invited me over for dinner when we were leaving so I went home and changed. Showered. Packed up a bag of clothes. Then all night, I spent more time with Jack, which was very nice, but I didn’t get to see you. You found reasons to be away from me the whole night. Why did you even ask me over? You commented on my sweater but didn’t even blink when I said I’d bought it as a present for myself. Then you walked me to the door before Jack even went to bed.”

“Work had been stressful.” Aaron knew it was a lie even as he said it but he didn’t want to go down that path at the moment. Not with Spencer standing right there.

“Bull fucking shit, Hotch.”

Aaron felt his anger tick up another notch. He clenched his fists and stared the younger man down.

“Two years ago, you were dealing with the attempted murder of Haley and Jack, the death of Foyet and the shit storm that me shooting him was going to cause and you fucking remembered. You hadn’t had contact with Tristan for years at that point and you barely knew me. I wasn’t even sure if you remembered me. Yet it was one of the first things we talked about. So don’t fucking tell me that you are too stressed.”

“I spent a year worried to death about you!” Aaron yelled. He watched as Spencer’s face didn’t change and it made him even angrier. He hated that look. “I looked for you everywhere. Missing children reports and all kinds of things. No Tristan that went missing fit your description. No boys did. I didn’t understand why you hadn’t come back to me. I worried that I had created you as a fantasy but there was too much and then Tom talked about meeting you and I knew that you weren’t a figment of my imagination. I thought that you’d been hurt on a trip and had died. Don’t tell me that I forgot you.”

Spencer at least looked shocked at his confession and that was when Aaron realized what had been the thing that had been bothering him. He’d known it, but he hadn’t let it process in his mind. Spencer had been all in, in their relationship, from the word go. From the moment that he joined the team he knew what he wanted and he had only been waiting for Aaron to be ready. Every bit of anger inside him fled at that.

“I’ve loved you since I was six, Aaron. You were my best friend and as I got older my only one. I was so scared though of someone overhearing us or figuring out that I was a time traveler that I lied about my name but I never lied about anything else. Then there you were on graduation day. I was so happy to see you. We were meeting in the correct timeline then I felt it. I hated running from you but I had to. I couldn’t do that there with everyone around. And what happens? I travel to a day where I see myself getting shot by a killer and I save the ex-wife of the man I love. You need to figure out what you want because forgetting my birthday is a lie. You may have deluded yourself but you can’t me. You made yourself forget it and then you were surly after it.”

Aaron had nothing that he could say to that. Nothing at all. He just stared at Spencer for a few seconds before turning and leaving. Spencer didn’t even try and stop him. Aaron didn’t know what to think about that. Either Spencer was done with him or he understood that he needed time. He’d fucked up and he need time to think.

Before he knew it he was parked on a hill that Jack loved to come and sled on during winter when it snowed. Aaron had found it during a case a few years before and when Jack was old enough he’d started to bring him to it. It was at the edge of DC but it had a spectacular view of the city. He felt the guilt creeping up on him. For everything he’d put the other man through. All because he was scared. He was scared of exactly how well Spencer fit into his life. Tristan had done the same thing but as a child it had been easy to accept it. Now that he was an adult, he feared it.

Aaron had never thought that he would be so scared of something as accepting, wholly that he was going to spend the rest of his life with Spencer. He’d accepted it in broad terms. Happy that he wasn’t going to be alone for the rest of his life. It was the little things in the grand scheme of things. Telling the team. Having Spencer move in with him. Actually going out on a full date. He’d called what they did before dates. He’d never been big on showing affection in public, even with Haley but he would at least act like they were a couple. The discussion that started this round of the fighting wouldn’t have happened if the team knew anything of their relationship. Spencer wouldn’t have been hurt but the casual words that Dave said.

He’d said the words by rote, meaning them but not really showing them. He was jealous of Jack’s time spent with Spencer, he hadn’t been until Dave had brought it up. Yet it was exactly part of what he was feeling. Because he wasn’t thinking of them as a family unit. He was thinking of them as Spencer and Aaron, Aaron and Jack, and Jack and Spencer. Not Aaron, Spencer, and Jack. He’d never been jealous of the things that Jack wanted to do with Haley and not him. He hadn’t needed to be.

Sighing, Aaron laid his head back so that the only thing that he could see was the ceiling of his car. One of his teachers at Hargrave had said that he could see him sabotaging his own happiness. That’s what he’d done. And it wasn’t just affecting him. It was affecting Jack. Haley wanted Jack to have a happy life and Aaron was ruining it with his own cowardice. He’d accepted Spencer into his life the day that he’d shown up at his apartment and had a gun pressed to the back of his head.

Aaron jerked to an upright position as that night came back to him. That horrible night that could have been so much worse. That Spencer that had leveled a gun at him had been wearing what Spencer was wearing at his apartment. He tried to remember his face, the age of him but it was elusive. The anger though. That fit with how that Spencer had been with him. He turned the key to start the car.

Driving home as quickly as he could, Aaron tried not to break any driving laws. He really didn’t need to be stopped. He didn’t even attempt the elevator, just bypassed it and took the stairs three at a time. The apartment was locked when Aaron tried the door. He unlocked it and quickly disarmed the alarm. The lights were out so he turned them on and that’s when he saw the blood. He touched it and it came up sticky. Spencer had been gone a while. Aaron found a note on the floor beside the blood and when he lifted it he realized there was money under it.

Hotch,

This should cover getting your floor clean and the towel I took with me.

Aaron threw the money to the ground and grabbed his phone. He didn’t give a shit about carpet he only cared about Spencer. He tried Spencer’s cell but it rang until voicemail picked up. He left a message begging Spencer to call him. Morgan the only one he knew of that knew Spencer was with anyone so it would make sense to call him. He dialed the number by heart and waited for the other agent to pick up.

“Don’t tell me we have a case, Hotch.” Morgan sounded tired and Aaron felt bad for just a second.

“Not in the normal sense. Have you seen Reid?” Aaron tried not to let his panic bother him.

“Not since he left work. I have a feeling things are not going well with Maddox.”

“Morgan, my middle name is Maddox.” Aaron waited for something on the other end but there was only silence.

“Oh. Then…” There was nothing but silence on the other end. “No wonder he took Rossi’s words badly. And no wonder he is so upset with you. What happened?”

“He called me on how I was acting around him. I left and when I came back I found blood. It didn’t click until I was thinking, but he’s wearing the outfit I saw him wearing the day he shot Foyet.”

“You said you never saw the older Spencer.”

“Not in the house. I saw him later when I went to current time Spencer’s apartment. He was still bleeding so it was before he got help. The thing is that I have no clue where he is.”

“So you think he is out there somewhere and bleeding, hiding from you?”

“I say he is just pissed at me. Can you check his apartment? You’re closer.”

“I’ll call Garcia and have her track his phone. I’ll make sure she keeps quiet. When this is done, I talk to both of you. I want the whole truth from the moment he joined the team to now.”

“Whatever he is comfortable telling. I’ll leave all that to him since I have proven that I am not the best when it comes to it all.” Aaron figured for a while that he would be giving in to a lot of things that Spencer wanted. He felt like shit and it wasn’t going to get better until he had him in his arms.

“Look, Hotch, he loves you and has said before you guys are happy together in the future.”

“Or have I fucked the future up? I’ve not seen an older Spencer other than a few minutes and he never said we’re still together. I know that Spencer has said that nothing we have done changed the future but I can’t help but think maybe I have. I love him, Morgan and I need to make sure he knows that.”

“What are you going to do if Strauss finds out?”

Aaron wasn’t going to lie. This would be the best test of the reactions of the team. “Spencer took care of that. His contract states that we can’t be brought up for it. They try and he’s gone and can sue. Right now though we need to find him. You check the apartment and with Garcia. I’ll hit a few other places.”

“We’ll find him Hotch and he’s going to be fine.” Morgan hung up before Aaron could say more. He pocketed his phone and started for the door. Just as he got to the elevator it opened to Jack and Jessica.

“Aaron?” Jessica asked.

“I need to go. Spencer has been hurt and I don’t know where he is. I’ll find him and bring him home. There is blood on the floor. Throw a towel over it and I’ll take it off tomorrow.”

Aaron leaned down and kissed Jack’s head. The boy looked sad but Aaron didn’t have time to reassure him. “I’ll bring him home, buddy. I promise, and we aren’t going to let him leave. He’s ours.”

Jack hugged Aaron’s legs and then took off for the apartment.

“If he wants to wait up, let him. I’ll try and remember to text if I find him.”

“Go. This is the day that Foyet tried to kill Haley and Jack isn’t it? Where an older Spencer got shot?”

“Yes.” Aaron wasn’t sure how she knew that but he didn’t care at the moment.

Taking the stairs again as the elevator had been called down; Aaron tried to think of where he would go. Spencer’s car was in the garage so he was worried about driving. So how was he moving about? He’d never heard talk about how older Spencer said he got shot. He knew that he was shot in the right shoulder and that was pretty much it. Aaron stopped when he thought about how Spencer was off for the next two weeks. Had he known? Two weeks was enough time to be allowed back on light duty with no in the field work. Had he been just planning on never telling him? Coming back from his vacation with a gunshot wound and a doctor’s clearing him for light duty? Aaron felt his heart break at that. He had to find him.

An hour later, Aaron was slumped in the last place he could think of that was close. There were a lot of places around Aaron’s apartment that Spencer liked to go. Book stores, coffee shops, and two parks were the main ones. There was no evidence of him at any of them. If he got on a bus or took a taxi, he could be anywhere. His phone ringing startled him and he jerked it from his pocket, hoping, but it was just Morgan.

“Did you find him?”

“No. His apartment is empty and the guard on the desk said that he hasn’t seen him since he left after coming home from work. He is going to call you if he comes back. Garcia had a little luck but it’s not the best either. She tracked him thirty miles from here but lost it.”

“Did she send you the coordinates?” Aaron asked.

“Yes.”

“Text them to me.” Aaron waited for the text to come through, keeping his ear away from the phone. It came through and he knew where that was. There was only one reason that Spencer would be headed in that direction. He lifted the phone back to his ear. “Morgan, I’ll text you an address. Meet me there. I know where he is or at least where he is headed. Bring supplies to treat the wound, please. I’ll pay you back.”

“Okay, Hotch.”

Aaron sent off the text and got into his car. He drove, his mind racing at how much of an idiot he had been. It should have been his first thought. Once he was on the highway he called Tom but the man didn’t answer. Aaron kept trying up until he pulled into the driveway. He didn’t even pull the keys from the ignition, just raced for the house but it was locked. His keys for the place were back at the apartment. The locked door didn’t meant that Spencer wasn’t inside though. He tried to spot any blood on the ground but it was too dark and the outside lights weren’t on. That meant that Tom wasn’t going to be home that night. It was starting to rain pretty hard and by the time that Aaron made it into the backyard, he was dripping wet.

Slipping in between the trees, Aaron moved quietly but not so much that he wasn’t making noise at all. He knew that Spencer was armed and he didn’t want to be shot.

“Spencer?” Aaron called out when he was ten feet away from the hideaway. The rain started to come down harder and Aaron flicked the collar of his coat up around his neck more. He hoped that Tom had been keeping the hideaway protected. The lantern was on so Aaron was fairly certain that his lover was in there. He didn’t know what he was going to see when he stepped in so Aaron took a deep breath before he opened the flap.

Spencer was curled into a ball in the corner, using the two boxes to help hold him up. Once Aaron had slipped inside, he shrugged off his jacket and set it aside where its wetness wouldn’t get on anything. Spencer was breathing, Aaron could see that much but he wasn’t moving. One of the blankets from the box was draped over him but it was slipping down. He sat down to where he could pull the younger man into the V that his legs made, setting his good shoulder against his chest. He pushed the blanket down to Spencer’s waist, getting a good look at the field dressed wound. He’d used what was in the kit in the hideaway. Doing the best that he could one handed.

“Aaron?” Spencer asked.

“Shush, I’m here, Spencer. I’m here.” Aaron kissed the top of his head as he heard what he thought was the faint echo of a car door slam. He pulled his phone free from his pocket and texted Morgan to go into the woods in the backyard and that where they were couldn’t be missed. Aaron tried to shift them around to where Morgan would be able to help him with Spencer more but the younger man reached out with his injured arm to try and stop him. Aaron stopped and pulled Spencer’s arm back down gently but he still felt the genius’s body stiffen in pain. “I’m sorry. How much did you rip it traveling back and forth to the past?”

“Bad.”

“Where were you when you went to the apartment?” Aaron was trying to distract him, he knew it wasn’t really working but he needed to stay calm and talking would help the both.

“Still in your place.” Spencer shifted and hissed his pain. The flap on the hideaway opened and he tried to pull his gun with his good arm but Aaron stopped him, pulling the gun free himself. He set it aside. Morgan was frozen. He looked around the little hideaway and then settled on Spencer.

“How you feeling, Pretty Boy?” Morgan asked as he set down a bag and then took his soaked coat off.

“Been better?”

“Yeah. See this is what happens when you take on crazy killers alone.” Morgan tried to make light but Aaron could see the look that Spencer was giving him.

“Wouldn’t have made another choice if I had the choice.”

“I know.” Morgan scooted the rest of the way over. The hideaway had seemed big when Aaron was younger and it was just him and Tristan but now with three grown adults inside, it was tiny. “Scale of one to ten.”

“Right now, five. When I move a ten.”

“You call sitting there not moving a five?” Morgan asked.

“High pain tolerance,” Aaron answered for him. He pushed the injured man into a more upright position and then pointed at the small heater in the corner. Morgan followed his gaze and nodded. By the time that Aaron had Spencer’s upper body clothes off, Morgan had the heater going.

“Nice setup you have here. I see why you kept coming back, Reid.” Morgan opened his bag and started pulling out everything. Aaron was shocked when he saw a still sealed needle and a small bottle of stuff come out. Spencer saw it as well and started to shake his head. “Calm down. It’s not going to hurt you. It’ll take the edge off while Hotch and I clean it out.”

“It’s a narcotic.”

“Yes.”

“NO!” Spencer said.

“Morgan, narcotics make him travel more. We need to minimize his traveling until he’s healed. I’ll keep him still while you care for the wound.”

“He should see a doctor.”

“I will. I’ll go and see him tomorrow. He’s not on call and I won’t call him tonight and I don’t want to go to the emergency room. I expected Tom to be home.”

“Tom?” Morgan handed over a few pills of over the counter pain relief and Spencer took them with no protest, washing them down with a bottle of water. When he tried to stop when the bottle was half gone, Aaron tipped it back up. He drank with a glare.

“My groundskeeper. He lives on the property.” Aaron hadn’t ever really brought up his childhood, outside of knowing Tristan. He didn’t want to. He knew he had a life of privilege and most of the rest of the team didn’t. There were times that Aaron would have traded his life for Morgan’s, scars and bad times too just because he had parents and siblings who loved him. That would have meant no Spencer though and he’d take the pain for him. Aaron ducked his head to whisper in Spencer’s ear. “I love you.”

“This is yours?” Morgan asked.

Aaron was thankful that Morgan was ignoring the look that Spencer was giving him now. They’d talk more once he was gone. “It’s the house I grew up in. I was given it when my father died. I used to rent it out but after a while I’ve just kept it empty and let Tom live here. He keeps Tristan busy when the boy shows up and I am assuming Spencer.”

“Don’t need kept busy,” Spencer protested. He gripped Aaron’s arm hard with his good hand and buried his face in his neck as Morgan started to clean the blood from around the wound. “Lucky it was a through and through.”

“Very.”

Aaron whispered calming words into Spencer’s ear while Morgan took care of the front side of the wound. Then it came time to sew the wound shut. Morgan looked up at him and Aaron nodded. It needed to be stitched shut in case he traveled. Spencer was muttering under his breath and it took a few moments for him to recognize what he was saying. He was reciting a book back to himself. When the other agent pierced his skin for the first time, Aaron felt his own skin break from where Spencer’s nails dug in. The words faltered and Morgan opened his mouth to apologize but Aaron shook his head.

“I’m not the best at this. Haven’t closed up a wound on anyone in a long while.”

“It’s fine,” Spencer said through clenched teeth.

Aaron tucked his head closer to Spencer’s and pulled him in tighter to his body. Spencer’s mutterings were growing louder and he heard plainly the words. “Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” His words quieted as Morgan made his last stitch.

“You need to turn around for me,” Morgan said. Aaron helped move him to where the other man could get to his back. The process was repeated and Aaron knew that his own arm would need at least a bit of gauze wrapped around it but he didn’t care. He held Spencer tightly to him and pressed kisses in his hair at the times when his body was frozen with pain.

When it was all done, Morgan had an over-sized button up shirt to slip Spencer into. It was flannel and would be warm to his body.

“So this is your land, what is this?” Morgan’s hand moved around the hideaway.

“It’s where I hide away from the world,” Aaron answered. Spencer was neared passed out leaning on him. He combed his fingers through his hair. “Tristan was the only one who I allowed to come with me into here. Over the years we added things, boxes to store bed clothes and clothes for Tristan. Others for food and basic medical supplies. Books.”

“Can’t forget the books.” Morgan touched Spencer’s knee and the younger man didn’t react at all. “Take him home Hotch. I’ll cover for you tomorrow. Plus, it’s your birthday. Enjoy it with Reid and Jack.”

“I will. Thanks.”

“I haven’t forgotten the discussion that we need to have but we can put it off until he’s in better shape. Do you want help getting him into your car?” Morgan handed over Spencer’s gun and Aaron tucked it into his jacket pocket where it was draped.

“Yes. Just shut off the heater and the lantern. I’ll leave a message for Tom asking him to batten the place down in the morning.”

It took longer than Aaron would have liked, in the rain, to get Spencer to the car. Morgan had covered the younger man with his jacket and only took it back once he was down in the passenger seat of Aaron’s car.

“Aaron?” Spencer asked when Aaron shut the driver’s side door.

“Let’s get you home.”

Spencer nodded and relaxed into the seat more. He closed his eyes and seemed to fall asleep. Aaron kept silent on the drive to his apartment. The pills had to have been taking affect. The only time Spencer reacted was when Aaron couldn’t avoid bumps.

Aaron parked in his spot and looked at Spencer’s car. It looked at home there. Like it belonged. Like Spencer belonged, and he did. The apartment was small. Not as small as many were. Aaron had wanted space when he moved out of the house. He knew that he’d have to rearrange the office to fit some of Spencer’s things in there. It wouldn’t be hard to do that though. Spencer’s computer was older than Aaron’s and he didn’t figure that the younger man would mind using his. He didn’t care about computers other than using it to get his work done.

“Where are we?” Spencer asked as he unlatched his seatbelt. Aaron reached over and cupped the side of his face.

“We are home.”

“Home?” Spencer looked around and then he saw his car. “This is your apartment.”

“Jack and I can’t fit in your apartment, Spencer.”

“What?” Spencer shook his head like he was trying to clear it, his face full of perfect adorable confusion. “Aaron, you aren’t making any sense. Why did you bring me back here when you said you were taking me home?”

“Because I want this to be your home. I know that I messed up. I was an idiot and I realize that my fears put us into the fight. Morgan obviously knows and we’ll tell the rest of the team as soon as possible. Jack’s been missing you and that’s my fault. I was jealous of how much you love him and he loves you. I’m sorry I ever made you doubt that I did love you. I don’t want to go to sleep another night in my bed without you in it.” Aaron watched Spencer’s face as he talked. There was nothing there. He was processing. Aaron just waited.

“You want me to move in with you and Jack?”

“Yes. We can find a bigger place later. A house or a flat, whatever we want. After you are feeling better. Even if I have to break my lease. I can afford that.”

“You kissed me in front of Morgan.”

“I told him that my middle name is Maddox. I should be shocked you remember that from the single time that mother called me by my full name when we were younger but I’m not.” Aaron leaned over and kissed him. When he was done, he didn’t pull back he just settled his forehead on Spencer’s. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. No more hiding from the world.”

Aaron thought about the tattoo and looked down at his chest. The tattoo was exactly where the gunshot wound was. He hadn’t noticed the scar before on older Spencer. “How do you feel about a tattoo?”

“A tattoo?” Spencer asked.

“Instead of a wedding band? Something permanent.”

“You’ve seen it before. Where do I get it?” Spencer pulled him down for another kiss, smiling as he did so. Aaron braced himself on the door and let the kiss deepen as far as Spencer wanted it. He trailed his hand over the dressed wound.

“Here.”

“So we have a while before I get the tattoo.”

“Yes.” Aaron kissed him again. Spencer was tiring out and Aaron knew it but he didn’t want to leave the car yet. It was a happy place right now. “You haven’t said yes to any of this.”

“I said yes a long time ago, Aaron. You just weren’t hearing it. The second I signed those papers that declared me an active FBI agent, this was the end result. This was what I was agreeing to more than working with the BAU. You just needed time.”

“And I am glad you gave it to me. Why don’t we head up? I forgot to text Jessica that I’d found you and I told her she could allow Jack to stay up. They caught me doing my mad dash to find you so they know you’ve been hurt and Jessica put two and two together and realized what this was. Jack’s going to be clingy. It’s the first time either of us has been seriously injured since Haley’s death.”

“I know. The bed is big enough for all of us. I just need to get settled down and sleep.”

“I’ll help you upstairs. Morgan did a good job of getting all the blood so pajamas and bed for you until you see your doctor. He’ll give you some of the good things that you can take. I know that we need to do a lot more talking but it can wait until we are both not tired and you are settled in. I faced years without you in my life, Spencer. I don’t want to face anymore. I love you. I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Aaron. Big you and little you,” Spencer said with a smile on his face.

“Big you and little you,” Aaron said back as he kissed Spencer’s head before finally getting out of the car. Even with Spencer injured he felt happier than he had been in a long time. He’d let go of his fears and he was looking forward to forever.

December 2036
Aaron was used to the feeling of Spencer coming home in the middle of the night after being gone for hours, days, and the rare weeks. He’d been gone for two days this time and Aaron was happy he was finally home. He heard clothes being stripped off and tossed in the hamper followed by a drawer being opened. It wasn’t hard to see his husband moving around the room with a pair of sweats in hand. He’d seen it enough that he didn’t have to open his eyes. He was nestled in the warm blankets of the bed with an electric blanket in between the sheet and the quilt that was on the top. It was on low but Spencer would probably turn it up to medium, depending on how cold he was.

Years living in DC and all the traveling he’d done there as a child still hadn’t changed him out of a desert born man. It was December and there was a foot of snow on the ground so Spencer usually froze. The blankets lifted just enough for him to slip into bed without letting too much heat out. His motions were smooth, telling Aaron that he didn’t know that he was awake and was trying not to wake him up. He waited until the younger man was settled and then he reached out and pulled his body to him. Spencer fit so well, still, to his body. It was like they were made for each other.

“What time is it?” Aaron asked as he buried his nose into Spencer’s hair and breathed deep. There was something strange there. He took another deep sniff and finally placed it. Sand and sea.

“Just after five. We have a few hours yet.”

“You smell like sand and sea. Where exactly did you go?” Aaron shifted his arm to slip under the t-shirt that Spencer had put on. He heard the click of the remote for the blanket and smiled. He knew that he would do it. Spencer was predictable because of their long years together.

“Hamptons.” Spencer shifted back just enough so that they were perfectly molded together. Aaron laughed.

“When?”

“I met a very nice young man. Still in college. He was running on the beach and stopped to talk to me. A looker, especially all sweaty. We talked for hours.”

Aaron thought about it. He tried to remember any of his trips to the Hamptons before he and Spencer took Jack every summer and then later Henry as well. The first summer, Spencer and he had bought one of the nice smaller beach houses so they could go whenever they wanted away for a few days. Then he remembered the trip with Haley where she got sick. He’d forgotten about it. The older man on the beach. “My first vacation with Haley and she got sick. She kicked me out of the house.”

Spencer shivered as he tried to snuggle into Aaron’s body farther. Going from summer in the Hamptons to winter in DC meant that Spencer was probably freezing. Aaron tucked the blankets around them more.

“Only you would go to the Hamptons in the middle of summer and decide to come back to Virginia in the winter.”

“Can’t miss Christmas. Jack and Henry are bringing the twins and Candace. I can’t miss Christmas.” Spencer’s words were slowing down and Aaron knew that he was falling asleep. Aaron kept his words to himself until he was sure that his husband was asleep. It was still hours before the house would be beset with the rest of the family. Jack and Henry had taken two weeks off of work and were coming to stay in the house for that two weeks.

An alert went off on his phone and he rolled just enough to grab it and Spencer grumbled. Aaron read the alert that the door to his old bedroom had been opened. The security system that had been installed had been wonderful for them as it meant that Tristan and Spencer, no matter their ages, could get access to the house with no keys. The hideaway was still in the woods but there was a note for them to come up to the house and to go to Aaron’s old room along with how to access the house. A quick look at the camera feed from the hall showed him that it was a nine or so year old Tristan. It was three days before Christmas. He wrote a note in the app to make sure that more food was bought for meals. Candace would love to have a friend to play with and the twins would love to be read to.

Spencer and Aaron had moved into the old house when Aaron had moved to a desk job. A new groundskeeper had been hired in and Tom had a small house built twenty years before at the back edge of the property and was still living there. The new groundskeeper, Elan, visited with him, and Tom helped as much as he could. Out of being bored more than anything. Elan had gone to school for horticulture and was the gardener on hire for many of the houses on the block. He had his own house two blocks over. When Tom had wanted to retire, Elan had been the only person he wanted to hire. Tom had been training him since he’d wandered into the backyard at age five.

Tucking his phone under his pillow, he settled down to try and get a little more sleep. Even though he hadn’t been unit chief for several years, he still got up with Spencer when he had to head in. With Jack out of the house, he went in with Spencer and when the younger man was on cases, he stayed at the office a lot longer than he probably should. He should have been a lot higher up on the food chain at the FBI but he was content to stay as section chief that over saw all of the BAU teams. When Morgan had transferred to a desk job, Spencer had been put in as unit chief. His traveling had slowed down a great deal and most years he could count his travels on two hands. The two of them were the only ones left in the BAU. JJ had retired when she turned sixty and she and Will had moved to New Orleans. Prentiss was still with Interpol and Blake was still teaching at Harvard. Dave had retired to Arizona and wrote as much as he wanted, which wasn’t a lot. Garcia was in charge of all the analysts for several departments, but she answered the phone whenever Spencer called her, needing help with vexing problems. There had been others after but none had stayed long enough for Aaron to call them family. The house was going to be full for Christmas Day. Everyone who could make it was going to be there.

Aaron had never called his childhood home, home. Not really, until he and Spencer had moved in. He’d been afraid that he’d wake up in fear at the memories, but his life with Spencer had tempered them all away. He stepped into the office and didn’t see his father yelling at him or hitting him, he saw him and Spencer breaking in the new desk, much to Jack’s consternation at helping the move in and finding that they had slipped away for half an hour. Jack had learned to not enter a room with a shut door without knocking first and getting an okay from someone inside not long after Spencer had moved into the apartment with them. Spencer hadn’t been able to look the boy in the eye for two days after Jack had gotten home with Jessica early from a birthday party to enter his parents bedroom to find them having sex on the bed with no covers on them. He’d been so excited that they were home after a long case that he’d not knocked. He never did that again.

He thought about their wedding, a small quiet affair that had happened in the backyard of the house. Dave had offered his mansion but Spencer hadn’t wanted to get married there. Aaron hadn’t been able to say no. There were so many good memories in the house now that Aaron couldn’t see his father or his mother anywhere. Spencer had worked for years at remodeling the entire place. Going on trips to Vegas and coming back with substantial winnings. Aaron had tried to talk him into just using the money in their joint interesting earning accounts but Spencer had wanted it to be a gift to Aaron. It had taken two years of Aaron not being allowed into the house before Spencer proclaimed it ready. Tom had overseen the contractors doing the work and it looked nothing like it had before, outside or in.

The house was perfect and Aaron was in love with it in a way he’d never been before. It was a perfect mixture of Aaron and Spencer and it was a testament to Spencer’s love for him. Every single room made him feel safe and Aaron had wanted to move into it as soon as they could. An injury to his leg had forced his retirement from the field before he’d been ready but it had given him a reason to move into the house because it had an elevator.

Aaron and Spencer had started with the house as their center, he wanted to end that way as well. And he wasn’t going to regret a single moment since he’d talked Spencer into moving in with him. He knew that Spencer didn’t either.
The End

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