Series: The Alphabet Game
Fandom: Criminal Minds, Bones
Year: Season 7
Tags: Pre-Slash, Slow Build,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Penelope Garcia, David Rossi, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Seeley Booth,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: Aaron knows he messed up. Now he’s got to make sure that at least the friendship survives what happened.
Aaron entered the bullpen a lot earlier than he wanted to. He hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and it showed on his face. He was certain that he looked worse than Spencer had after his all nighter working. He hoped that the younger man was able to have gotten some sleep the night before, more than he had. He dropped his briefcase beside the desk and dropped into his seat. He’d taken what he thought was a week of files home the night before but after he’d gone to bed at nine he tossed and turned until eleven with sleep eluding him, he’d given up. He’d settled on the couch in the living room using the coffee table as his desk and worked. He’d passed out at some point after the last file. Jack had been in bed but when Aaron had woke up the next morning, Jack had been curled in one of the chairs with a blanket over himself and the boy had even draped one over Aaron.
The bad thing was that he woke up before his alarm was set to go off. That meant that he was dressed and ready to go to work early. He’d picked up Jack and carried him to his neighbor Stania’s apartment. She was a work from home mom and the parents in the building dropped their kids off at her apartment when they left for work so they could hang out or sleep a little more before getting on the bus for school. Aaron didn’t use her that much but she had gladly taken his sleepy little boy off his hands. Aaron had dropped off clothes and his backpack as well as his packed lunch before heading into work himself. He stopped at McDonald’s to pick up something to eat for himself. He also needed more coffee.
As he stood up from his chair, Aaron saw a letter addressed to him with a return of Pasadena, California. It was the address for Cal-Tech. Who at Cal-Tech would be sending him a letter? He grabbed it as he passed with his coffee cup in hand. He’d look it over while he waited for a pot to brew.
Once the smell of brewing coffee filled the area around him, Aaron carefully opened the letter. It wasn’t until he saw something slightly familiar that he even remembered who at Cal-Tech would be sending a letter. The guy on the computer. Leonard. Spencer’s friend. Aaron wondered exactly what had prompted the man to send him a character sheet for Dungeons & Dragons. He looked at it. It was all written in red pen so he didn’t miss a single bit of the filled in letters and numbers. Aaron read it over, but a lot of it was things that he didn’t understand. The character name was Hotch. Player was Agent Hotchner. That didn’t bode well for him. Class of Paladin with a race of human. It was very much him. He looked at the stats for the character and while they didn’t make much sense he knew that it was very close to what an upper level human would be. Skills were very close to his own. He was starting to feel a little exposed with how much this character sheet reflected him. He’d been looking more and more into D&D just so that he could understand more if he was there on another game night.
Aaron tried to figure out exactly what this character sheet meant when his eyes came across the only blank spot that wasn’t filled out in red. It was filled out in black. Wounds/Current Hit Points. It was at -10. He knew that was dead. Any negative number above was just dying. He folded up the character sheet, putting it up in the envelope before slipping it into his inside pocket. He filled his mug and moved up to his office to try and get some work done before the team arrived. There was every chance that a case would fall on their desks. Garcia had warned him that there were several big ones that were close to being in their purview. He settled in and worked, pushing his mind away from the character sheet in his pocket.
The team arrived all at once which meant that they had caught each other in the parking garage. He saw that they all had cups of coffee from the little shop near Spencer’s. Spencer was carrying two and Aaron hoped that the second was for him. What shocked him was the keys in his hand. He’d drove himself, which made sense given that he’d had to carry seven coffees and the subway wasn’t exactly the best for that. He stood up from his seat just as Spencer took a drink from one of his. He watched the younger man drain it before he threw the cup away. He then took a sip of the second. He heard their voices as he stood there.
“I thought you said that was plain coffee.”
“It is. I’ve developed a craving for plain coffee lately.” No one else on the team would have been able to see his eyes track over to Aaron’s office or the smirk but Aaron did. He sighed and grabbed his now empty coffee cup. He greeted the team as he stepped from his office.
“Reid, did you get some sleep last night?” Aaron made sure to connect with the other man’s eyes but they were unreadable.
“Slept like a baby. Made dinner, relaxed in front of the fish tank in my reading area. Curiosity curled in my lap and purred like a baby all night.”
“Who is Curiosity?” Garcia asked.
Spencer smiled and pulled out his phone. He brought up a picture of the kitten and Aaron could just barely see the screen. Curiosity was laying on his shirt.
“He’s adorable. Why haven’t you mentioned him before?” Garcia asked. She took the phone from him and started to scroll through his pictures. She stopped and looked at at Aaron a few pictures in. “Bossman, you’ve met this adorable little thing?”
“Hotch found him on base here and brought him to me.” Showed him the picture that had been taken that first night.
“You mean that he’s been to your new place?” JJ asked.
“When he brought over Curiosity.”
Aaron saw the look that Dave gave Spencer and knew that something else was there. Dave knew something and when Dave looked at him, Aaron knew that it was something to do with the two of them. Aaron felt like an outsider as Spencer and Garcia talked cats, bringing in Prentiss to discuss Sergio. He went up to his office and started working.
When lunch rolled around he left his office to hopefully talk Spencer into a lunch out to talk. What he saw instead was Spencer at his desk. He had what looked like a salad in front of him, half gone. Aaron frowned. He should have asked before. Aaron approached, Spencer turned to look at him.
“Did you need something, Hotch?”
“I was just heading to lunch and wanted to if you needed something.”
Spencer smiled at him but it was a cautious one. “No, I’m good. But thank you.”
“You’re welcome. If you change your mind text me.”
Aaron felt eyes on his back the entire trip to the elevator but when he turned after entering it, Spencer was eating. After his monumental asshole display the day before, he had a lot to make up for. Indulging in a long lunch, Aaron went to a diner in Quantico. He had just received his drink order when Seeley Booth sat down across from him.
“Booth, to what do I owe the pleasure of you leaving DC to visit?”
“I’ve worked with Bones’ squints for years now. Never seen them this riled up and ready to take on another federal agent but I have two on my team ready to maim you.”
“Hodgins and Bray right?” Aaron sighed. He’d now heard from three of Spencer’s friends.
“So you know why?”
“I upset a mutual friend.”
“Reid?” Booth actually looked scared. “If so I’d worry more about what he’s going to do than my team.”
“Well I don’t think they know what I did yesterday.”
“Hodgins thinks that Reid is in love with you, so anything you do…” Booth stopped as Aaron ducked his head some. “Shit. What exactly did you do?”
“I kissed him and ran. Ignored him for weeks and then got jealous when I went his place and found him there with Abby.”
“Gibbs’ Abby? She’s had an eye on hooking up Reid with I think McGee. But Reid and McGee are not interested.”
“How do you know so much gossip about my team?” Aaron wondered how far the gossip had spread. It explained why Abby had been mean to him when Aaron had come over.
“Hodgins tells Angela who tells Bones who tells me. Bones tried to head hunt Reid for my team while he was on sabbatical. If you pissed off the king of geeks, I’d watch it. I’d worry more about the Brit than anyone else. I’ll get Hodgins and Bray to step back. McGee and Sciuto are yours to handle.”
“Thanks,” Aaron said with a frown.
“Take him chocolate pie.”
Aaron nodded and Booth left. His meal was delivered and he ate quickly. He looked at the dessert menu and saw they had tiramisu. He ordered a piece. He didn’t trust all of Booth’s Intel since it came several sources from the original. Still he wanted the friendship back.
Spencer was still at his desk when Aaron came back from lunch. JJ and Prentiss were at theirs as well. He stopped at Spencer’s side.
“When you are done with lunch, do you mind coming up to my office?”
Spencer turned to him, “I’m done. Need my files?”
“No, just you.” Aaron tried to give him a reassuring smile and when the younger man stood up, his stance relaxed. Aaron let him go first and when he looked at the girls, they looked like they wanted to follow. It probably was going to be that way for a while. He was happy about that. When he stepped into his office, he saw Spencer with the character sheet in hand. He patted his pocket forgetting that he’d taken it out to look at before lunch.
“Is that what I think it is?” Aaron asked as he shut the door.
“A threat to be nice? Yes. I’m actually rather shocked it came from Leonard. He’s not that known for overt acts of aggression.” Spencer folded it back up and set it on his desk. “You left it sitting out and I was intrigued why you had a D&D character sheet on your desk.”
“That’s actually a good segue way into what I wanted to talk to you about.” Aaron waved him towards the couch at the back of the room and Spencer moved towards it. Aaron took the chair at the end of the couch that Spencer sat closest to. He handed over the tiramisu and a fork while he sat back with a piece of chocolate cake. Spencer opened the container and looked at it for a few seconds then looked up at Aaron, a look of shock on his face. “I’m sorry for yesterday and the day before.”
“Okay. You didn’t have to buy me food to apologize.”
“I saw the tiramisu and thought of you. I wanted to get it and not just because of the apology. I let things outside of work interfere with work and I should be above that. You took the high road and I didn’t.”
“Hotch,” Spencer started but stopped when Aaron raised an eyebrow at him. He waved with his fork for him to go on.
“I’m glad you got sleep and you were right to do what you did. I did tell you that but I never thought that you would do it. I can understand why you did. It called me on my bullshit and I needed that. Please tell me that you ate some food while you were here overnight?”
“Rossi sent pizza up for me.”
“Good. I am sorry, Spencer. I just…” Aaron set his cake down and leaned back in his seat, rubbing a hand down his face. “I should never have acted like I have the past few weeks. Booth came and visited me to tell me that Hodgins and Bray are looking for blood.”
“None of them know what happened yesterday and the day before. At least they don’t know from me. I wouldn’t be shocked if they found out from the grapevine. You were pretty loud when you were yelling at me and it’s probably the talk of Quantico. I’ll make sure that McGee and Abby don’t do anything in retaliation. Abby must have told them all about how you’ve been giving me the cold shoulder.”
“He’ll let me handle it on my own. He’s very big in not getting into other people’s problems. He has enough to do with his job as it is.”
“And his job is?”
“And the Brit? Booth says that I should be afraid of him.”
“Walmond is protective but mainly because he’s so far away. I was going over to London to meet him last year but work things came up with him and he wasn’t going to be able to meet so I just went to Vegas instead.” Spencer closed his container and set it down, turning to face Aaron a little more. He reached over and touched his knee, doing it slow like he was afraid of being pushed away. “What happened? Why did you run?”
“I ran because I was ashamed I’d kissed you like that. I wasn’t planning on it and then I was just worried, so I ignored you. Then I went to apologize and you were in your flat with Abby. I wasn’t aware that you and her were something. I never would have kissed you. I was reading more into our friendship than what was there.”
“I’m not in a relationship with anyone but especially not Abby. I wouldn’t be able to handle her more than on game nights. She was available and able to talk and I needed someone to talk to. If someone told you that we were together, they lied to you. If you heard gossip, they are wrong.” Spencer’s eyes hardened for a few seconds and his hand squeezed at Aaron’s knee. “There is only one person that I have wanted and for the past three weeks, it’s been like pulling teeth to even get him to look at him.” Spencer squeezed his knee again and then stood up. He grabbed his container and fork and slipped them into the trash can at the other side of the couch but instead of going around the small coffee table, he went between it and the couch. He brushed Aaron’s knees with his hand and then in a move that shocked Aaron into silence he leaned over and kissed his cheek, close to his lips. “Figure out what you want because I can’t do the back and forth.”
Aaron didn’t move as Spencer left his office, pulling the door shut as he stepped out. He sat there for longer than he would have liked to admit to anyone trying to figure out exactly what he wanted to do. He knew that he wanted to get back into Spencer’s good graces but he needed to figure out a way to do it that showed he was in it for the long haul. He’d need to take the evening to figure out exactly what. One of the things he needed to do was make sure that Spencer meant it when he talked about it being okay to bring Jack over. Spencer knew that they were a package deal. He knew it better than most but he didn’t want to just show up with Jack one day, too soon, given the issue that they had been having.
When the day was wrapping up, Aaron looked up from the files he was looking over and signing to see that something was written across his computer screen.
You are being watched, Aaron Hotchner. I have eyes everywhere.
Aaron looked at it and for a few seconds he was worried but then he remembered that Kevin was part of Spencer’s circle of friends. He was about the only person who would have gotten onto his computer like that. He hit enter and the screen popped back to the view of his inbox for his email. He shrugged it off. Kevin had to have heard about what happened the days prior and he wasn’t shocked to be confronted. He knew that Kevin had confronted Dave when the man had thought that the older agent was making a move on Garcia.
There was a lot that he needed to do that night so Aaron was one of the first out of the office. Spencer was totally focused on a file in front of him when Aaron passed him. The look of the picture that he was looking at told him that it was a cold case. Spencer had a small obsession with cold cases, from any department in the FBI. He knew that many sent him problem files for his help with them. Spencer never let it interfere with his caseload with the BAU and it kept his mind active. Making sure that no one was paying attention to him, Aaron stopped behind him, laying a hand on the curve of his neck. Spencer didn’t startle at all but he did turn his head to look up at him.
“Don’t stay too late. Get another good night’s sleep. We will probably be leaving on a case tomorrow.”
“Good night, Spencer,” Aaron whispered.
“Night, Aaron.” Spencer’s smile was radiant as he said Aaron’s name and he made sure to squeeze his hand a little. When he lifted it, he let a knuckle brush the younger man’s cheek. He stepped back and started towards the elevator and when he turned around in it, he wasn’t shocked to see Dave standing at the bar outside his office, staring at him with a fond look on his face. Aaron smiled back at him and then the doors closed. He’d made a good start on making it up to Spencer. Now to show Spencer that he’s vested in a relationship with the younger man.