Series: The Alphabet Game
Fandom: Criminal Minds,
Year: Season 7
Tags: Pre-Slash, Angst,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Curiosity (The Cat),
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: In a single instance, Aaron changes their relationship forever.
Aaron smiled as he knocked on Spencer’s door. He had started to use the same knock all the time and was rewarded with the sound of Curiosity on the other side of the door crying out for him. He could just hear the scamper of feet on the hardwood floor. He crouched and waited. A shadow appeared and Aaron caught a paw as it slid under the door. He felt the hint of claws just as the door was opened. He watched as Curiosity was scooted back along the floor. As Aaron stepped inside, the kitten scrambled to his feet and he realized that the kitten was a little bigger than he thought he should be.
“So, he’s getting big.” Aaron was shocked at how much bigger Curiosity was. It wasn’t a normal growth of a kitten.
“Yes he is. I finally figured out his breed. I found a nice vet and she told me that someone cut his ear tufts. They will grow back in but it’ll take time.”
“Ear tufts?” Aaron looked down at Curiosity who was staring up at him. There was something to the ears that looked a little different.
“He is a Maine Coon. I would say that someone cut them so that he wasn’t as noticeable as a Maine Coon. The vet says that he was probably the runt, it’s why he was so small. A stable home and good food means that he’ll start growing as big as he should. Which can be up to eighteen pounds.”
“Wow. That’s…” Aaron tried to imagine a cat that big. He wondered exactly what he’d got Spencer into when he picked him up. At least now he understood why the kitten had been left on the base.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to take him three to five years to reach full maturity and size. The breed is very independent but likes company. I think that he’ll be perfect for me.” Spencer smiled at him and Aaron felt his heart swell. Then Aaron saw behind him and noticed that Spencer had been cooking. There was vegetables scattered across the island just behind the stove and spices on the counter to the right. The left side counter was taken up by a regular coffee pot as well as a Keurig and various coffees and teas. It was the counter closest to his reading nook.
“I interrupted dinner.”
“It’s fine. Curiosity was keeping me company by trying to steal food. Feel free to hang around.”
“Thanks.” Aaron smiled as Spencer moved back towards the stove. There was a stock pot of some kind on the stove as well as two skillets, one big and one slightly smaller. Whatever he was cooking looked complicated and Aaron was a little shocked by that. He’d never heard Spencer talk about cooking before. The beginning smells were wonderful and Aaron was tempted to move over to the island to see what he was doing but the sight of the gaming table covered with sheets of paper and books caught his eye. It looked like a game had happened the night before. The papers were different and the books were vastly different. The one that caught his eye had the title of Atlantis. It was Rifts. At Spencer’s seat at the table was what he thought was the main book. He’d done a little looking online at roleplaying paper & dice games. It looked like it could be a lot of fun, with the right people. There are notes on pages and Aaron grabbed them to look. It was a list of character names and vices, or fears, and in one place something about one of them being insane.
“Working on your Rifts game?”
“Yes. Walmond threw me for a loop and I need to re-strategize what I was doing.”
“Who is Walmond?”
“A friend I made in London. He works as the lead tech for a company over there.”
“And how did you meet him?”
“Online. Through a math forum.”
“He sounds like he’s right up your alley.” Aaron turned and saw that Spencer had his office fully set up. He walked towards it.
“Yes.” Spencer turned and watched him approach the office. Aaron figured if he didn’t want him in there, he’d say something. The two interior walls were filled with books. It didn’t take long to see that it was all work related. Dave’s books as well as Max Ryan’s were shoved in beside other books on serial killers on the smaller book shelves. The longer book shelf that ran the length of the office was filled with psychology books, law books, and anything related to things that had come up on past cases.
Aaron moved to the law section and found that most of them were specialized. He could see exactly where most of Spencer’s money went. He wasn’t shocked. All the books in the living room were on math and science. Some philosophy as well as a healthy amount of fiction in several languages. He’d never been inside the little nook Spencer had set up to know what he kept there. He figured it was the more precious books. Favorites from childhood that his mother read him. A few others that he’s found a love for some then.
A little jingle told Aaron that he wasn’t alone and he looked down to see Curiosity holding a ball in his mouth, looking at him with longing in his eyes. Aaron bent down and grabbed the ball from his mouth and Curiosity took off towards the other side of the living room.
“What the boundaries?” Aaron asked as he stepped out of the office.
“Huh?” Spencer turned to look and Aaron held up ball. “Oh. Just not towards the kitchen. He’s good about not jumping on things he’s not supposed to even when playing.”
“Good.” Aaron looked at the furniture and tried to figure out something fun. Smiling he moved toward the split in the two islands in the kitchen and threw the ball so that it rolled into the back of the gaming couch and then bounced towards the seating area of the living room Curiosity took off at a run towards it and when it hit the couch, he slid into it and then had to scramble to catch the ball.
“There are treats in the lower cabinet on the right side of the fridge for him. Every time he brings the ball back, give him one. He can have a lot of them, they are good for him.”
Aaron moved towards the cabinet and found that the whole cabinet was filled with cat things. Cans of food. A plastic container of dry food as well as spare toys. The bottom shelf had the litter container as well as pan liners. There was also a bottle of Dawn as well as other medicinal things for a kitten and even a brush. Aaron grabbed the treats, finding that there were several kinds but he was pretty sure that the front package was the one that Spencer was talking about. He held them up and Spencer nodded.
Curiosity dropped the ball at his feet and sat there looking at him as he shut the cabinet doors.
“He will take them from your hand but if you are more comfortable he will eat them from the floor.”
Aaron held out his hand and while he felt the drag of sharp kitten teeth on his hand, there was no actual pain from it. He wondered exactly where Spencer was hiding the cat raising books because he was pretty sure that he had gone out and bought every book on the subject. He eyed the shelves that he could see and wondered. Nothing caught his eye.
“Have you eaten?” Spencer asked as he dropped something in one of the skillets. Aaron watched a cloud of steam poofed up above the skillet.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Good. How does pasta sound?”
“I’d eat anything that isn’t something I cook and isn’t macaroni and cheese.”
“Jack’s favorite?” Spencer had a smile on his face that Aaron couldn’t quite place. He’d never seen it before. He’d have to wait and see what situations that he saw it in after this.
“Very much so.”
“I have a recipe that mom used to make for me. Sometime you’ll have to bring Jack by for a lunch or dinner and I’ll make it.”
Aaron hummed a noncommittal noise as he threw the ball for the kitten. He watched as Curiosity scrambled around the living room and in between the dining room chairs, batting it more than trying to catch it. Spencer said nothing more on the subject and Aaron was glad that at least for now it was dropped. He enjoyed the silence of not talking while playing with Curiosity.
“How done do you like your noodles?” Spencer asked and Aaron looked over to him. There was a second pot on the stove and the skillets were gone.
The look on Spencer’s face was worth the words that it took to speak because if the rest of the team had been around, Morgan, JJ, and Prentiss would have been laughing. Dave would have chuckled and Garcia probably would have hugged the crap out of him.
“However you take them is fine.”
“Okay.” Spencer turned back to the stove and Aaron turned to find that while Curiosity had dropped the ball in front of him, he was off on a small cat bed that was near Spencer’s door. He was curled in a ball and there was what looked like a shirt in the bed with him. Aaron moved over to him and found that it was his running shirt. “He’s a thief. No matter where I put it, he finds it.”
“Just my shirt?” Aaron knew that Curiosity liked him but there was a difference between liking him and missing him.
“Yes. I’ve laundered it. Several times. I keep meaning to take it in to you but I wake up in the morning and it’s covered in cat hair again. You ought to see him dragging it all over.”
Aaron leaned down to pet the kitten, who started to purr as fingers touched fur.
“If you want to wash your hands and get a drink, dinner will be ready by then.” Spencer hadn’t even turned around. Aaron gave the kitten a pet from head to tail and then stood to do as asked. As Aaron stepped away from the sink, Spencer stepped up to the other side and started to drain the pasta. Aaron hadn’t seen the shape of pasta before.
“What kind of noodle is that?”
“Radiatori. I love them.”
Aaron hummed as he moved to the fridge. There was cans of pop and few bottles of beer. And several jugs water. He found Spencer’s reusable bottle in the fridge and filled it from a jug before grabbing a can of pop for himself. He knew the jugs were a habit from when he was younger. Diana wouldn’t drink tap water so he made sure there was always jugs on hand. It carried over into his adult life. He drank from bottles more but given the taste of water in some cities, Aaron never questioned it.
Turning away from the fridge, Aaron saw that Spencer had pulled a chair around to the kitchen side of the island, across from another chair. Two plates were already ladened with food and set down. Forks were on napkins and a bowl of shredded parmesan was between the two plates.
“Looks and smells wonderful.” Aaron set down the drinks before he sat down. The sauce had diced, sauted vegetables in it.
“No mushrooms. I didn’t like the look of them in the store.”
Aaron dug into the pasta. It tasted wonderful.
“How is training going?” Spencer asked as he picked up his water to sip it.
“It’s going well. I’m focusing more on swimming now that I have my biking in hand.”
“Good. Good.” Spencer didn’t say anything else and Aaron let the silence fill the space between them. There was no need to fill the silence. It wasn’t stressed nor uncomfortable.
When both plates were empty, Aaron grabbed them. Spencer tried to take them but Aaron just glared and the younger man held up his hands. “You cooked. I can clean.”
Aaron grabbed the sauce pan from the stove and found that it was empty. He carried it over with the plates to the sink. Spencer just hopped up on the right side of the sink and smiled at him. It only took a few seconds to adjust the water to a good temperature. The soap was on the back of the sink and Aaron poured some in. Spencer reached over him grabbing the colander and setting it down on the other side of him. He plucked a noodle out and popped it in his mouth. Aaron chuckled at him. This was the side of Spencer that Aaron liked most. When he let himself be free. He wasn’t scared of saying something to make someone dislike him. He was himself and Aaron adored that the younger man let him see him like that.
“How is the training aspect going with Beth?”
Aaron stopped scrubbing at the pan in his hand, just letting himself breath for a few seconds before he answered that. This was where he needed to be strong and make sure that Spencer knew that there was nothing between them.
“She’s a good training partner. We push each other and we have fun.”
“Rossi seems to think that she is a good match for you. I know that the rest of the team has been pestering him about her. Especially Garcia.”
“I’ve told Dave several times that there is nothing like that between her and I. I get that he wants me to move on but he can’t force it.”
“I know you do.” Aaron turned his head slightly and found that Spencer was staring off towards the living room. He couldn’t tell what the younger man was looking at but he could tell that he was happy. Hopefully after this time, Spencer would maybe start to actually show something other than the snatches of longing and want that Aaron caught when the man thought he wasn’t looking. He needed more than that since he was Spencer’s superior. “You are the only one who hasn’t asked me about it.”
“I know just as well as you that there are some things that one needs to keep personal. Secrets that aren’t made better by sharing.”
“Or you haven’t found the right person to share them with yet.” Aaron grabbed the tea towel that was hanging on the hanger on the door below the sink and dried off his hands. He moved to stand directly in front of the younger man. Spencer didn’t shy away when Aaron sort of bracketed him with his arms. “I know that you are passing the time where the schizophrenia is less and less likely. I can tell that something has been bothering you lately and I’m here if you want to talk.”
“It’s working itself out. Nothing that you can help with.” Spencer gave him a fond smile and Aaron was so overcome with emotion at the smile that he leaned up and kissed him. As he did he moved his hands from the counter to resting one on each of Spencer’s thighs. It was a firm press of lips on lips and Aaron enjoyed it.
Up until Spencer gasped and pulled back. Aaron saw just a flash of something in Spencer’s eyes and on his face and it worried him. It scared him. He didn’t know what to think of the emotion and he did something that he’d never done before. He ran.