Series: The Alphabet Game
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 7
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, David Rossi, Emily Prentiss, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Derek Morgan, Penelope Garcia
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: Aaron tells the team his intentions.
Notes: Nathan Arthurs is an OC, he’s not based on anyone.
Aaron stepped into the bullpen with a smile on his face. He’d been taking Jack to school over the past two weeks every morning that they were not on a case and his son was loving it. It also meant that he was able to stop and grab a coffee from the shop near Spencer’s and bring one in for the genius.
Spencer didn’t ask him anything. Didn’t offer anything. He was leaving the ball solely in Aaron’s court. He wasn’t sure that he liked that but he could work with it. Aaron didn’t feel back on even enough terms to invite himself over to the younger man’s place again. He set the coffee down right beside Spencer’s left hand. He waited the two seconds it took for Spencer to stop typing and look at the coffee before he pulled his hand away. It was a quirk. Spencer wanted to see the hand of the person giving him coffee. In stations across the country, it was to know if it was his team giving it to him or another cop. If he didn’t know the hand, he never drank from it. Which saved his life once when Spencer had been working on the profile and had figured out that it wasn’t a female they were looking for when dealing with dead males who had been poisoned. It had been another male and a cop in that same station to boot. He’d acted like he had taken a sip of the coffee, with so much cream and sugar that the taste of cyanide would have been covered but the smell. He could smell the almonds. He’d picked up his phone and texted every single member of the team that he’d just been almost poisoned. He gave the name of the officer so that when the team had arrived, they’d taken him right into custody while Spencer had dumped his coffee out.
Even when they were inside Quantico, his habits didn’t die. The BAU and it’s frank reality got to everyone in different ways. Demons broke different people in different ways. For Gideon it was all internal. For Greenaway it was all to do with those around her, her loss of trust in all of them. For Spencer it was a hesitance in all things. He was jaded in that way long before he joined the FBI and it wasn’t until the whole of the team had got a glimpse into the life that he had while growing up. Seeing his mother in the round table room. Seeing her brilliance, just as bright as her son, dimmed by her mental sickness. Then hearing about his father second hand from Morgan and Dave. After getting the entire blow by blow from his friend on William Reid, Aaron was shocked that Spencer hadn’t hung up on them after he and Garcia had been so happy that William had looked him up, that he kept track of his son’s education and acting like Spencer should have been happy about that. Instead of actually keeping track of the son he left when he was ten by talking to him.
Spencer’s life had been hard. He’d grown up at the age of ten. Everyone single person on the team had been forced to grow up early and it was what drove them to the job they were in. But Spencer rarely fully trusted anyone and Prentiss and that situation had made it hard for Aaron to even get close for a while. It was what had led him to where he was now. Seeing Spencer as more than a friend. He could see himself happy with him. He could see himself being happy with Spencer for the rest of his life.
After brushing his hand on Spencer’s back as he moved, Aaron moved up to Dave’s office. He pulled the door shut and looked at his friend. “I need to talk to you.”
“Okay.” Dave looked up from where he was reading a report of some kind. Something must have been on his face because Dave put the cap on his pen and set it aside, leaning back in his chair. He stared.
“I need to talk to the team. Without Reid but I don’t want to call them all up here. I need to get him out of here for lunch and not make it seem like we are pushing him out.”
“Interesting.” Dave picked up his phone and sent off a text before he set it back down. He waited and Aaron didn’t know what to say or what to do until the door to the office opened. “Reid, thanks. You drove in today didn’t you? I heard you telling Morgan you had something to do after work.”
“Yes.” Spencer looked at Aaron and then back at Dave before he nodded as well.
“Good. I had lunch plans with an old friend and something has come up. I can’t meet him and he came into town just for this meal and I’d feel bad about leaving him to fend for himself.”
“Okay.” Spencer said the word slowly like he hoped that he’d get an understanding by the time he closed off the last syllable.
“I think that he wouldn’t mind you taking my place.”
“You want me to keep your friend busy?” Spencer’s nose crinkled up and he looked adorable. The confused look was so rare on his face that Aaron always loved it when it appeared.
“Nathan is always open for a good debate and I know that he’d love to try and out think a great mind like yours.” And with those words, Spencer started to blush.
“How long is he in town?” Aaron asked.
“Just today. He came in for a meeting of some kind with someone this morning and is flying out tonight.” Dave raised an eyebrow.
“Then Reid, you can take the afternoon if you feel like you want to. Go have lunch and then either go do something fun if you don’t feel like talking to him.”
“I doubt that I’ll be able to keep him interested for an entire lunch period much less anything longer.” Spencer kind of glared at Aaron before his eyes widened in shock. “Nathan. Nathan Arthurs?”
“The very same. Still think that you won’t be done before dinner time?”
“Who is Nathan Arthurs?” Aaron asked. He’d heard Dave talk about a friend named Nathan before but he’d never asked for more information.
“He is one of the best names, at the moment, on non invasive rehabilitation of non violent teenage offenders. He runs a bootcamp of sorts in Kentucky where parents nationwide send their teenaged sons and daughters. It’s a camp but he has tutors that cover all subjects and accreditation for getting GEDs for the kids.” Spencer looked very excited but then when he talked about things like that, he was always excited.
“Yes. Yes. Go. I’ll text you the address and make sure the bill is covered.”
“I can pay. I’d pay more than the cost of dinner to talk to him.”
“I was already planning on covering his meal and you are doing me a favor, Reid. Go before I end up gluing your lips shut like Morgan threatened two days ago.”
There was a look on Spencer’s face that said he was close to sticking his tongue out at the older man but he didn’t. He turned and left the office. Aaron watched him walk back to his desk. His steps were light and happy.
“And just like that I made the kid’s day and possibly his month.”
“And what about Nathan?”
“Nathan has wanted me to slip his name to the kid for months. He wants to talk to him about seeing what else can be done for some of the kids that he gets that are gifted and their offenses are because they are bored. I had planned on asking Reid to come with me at lunch today but this works better. You get your boy distracted away from whatever you want to talk to the team about and he gets to talk to someone he admires.” The look on Dave’s face told Aaron that he knew more than Aaron thought he did about all of it but if he wanted to have a lunch that could possibly run long due to discussion with the team, he needed to get to work. He nodded at Dave and slipped from his office and then into his own.
The morning flew by like he was on a case. It had to do with how worried he was about what he was going to do. Spencer had told him to figure his mind out. He’d done that but now he had to show a willingness not to hide. Spencer was private but that was an extension of his childhood and knowing that if anyone found out, his mother would be taken from him. He carried that over to his adult life but him and Aaron had already made a spectacle in front of the rest of the team. Aaron owed it to him to make sure they understood exactly why it had happened and to show that he was serious and it wasn’t going to happen again.
When a knock sounded on his office door he looked up and there was JJ. She smiled at him and he smiled back.
“Spence bought us all lunch but he said that something came up and he needed the afternoon. He said he cleared it with you but he still wanted to get lunch so we have boxed lunches from that place that makes those sandwiches that Morgan tries to steal when he brings them.”
“So lunch in the round table room?” JJ asked.
“Sure. Give me a minute and I’ll be in.” Aaron looked back down at his paperwork and rushed through the last two forms that he needed to fill out. By the time that he was walking in the door, the rest of the team was seated. Each box had a name on top. Aaron had never been able to figure out the name of the place. All he knew was that they didn’t usually deliver out to Quantico but something to do with Spencer and his brain and money, the owner made a special trip the few times he wanted something brought to him at the academy. He wondered if Spencer had been planning on it before Dave and his way of getting him out of the building but he didn’t really care.
Inside his box was a six inch roast beef sandwich that looked like it had pepper jack and not swiss on it and a little bit of vegetables. A cup of fresh looking fruit, a side of pasta salad, and coleslaw. He looked up to see the team setting out theirs. Instead of pasta salad they had chips. Aaron smiled. Then he saw the note at the top of the box. It wasn’t Spencer’s writing but he knew it was his words.
You didn’t need to have me hijack Rossi’s lunch. All you had to do was tell me you wanted to talk to the team and I would have gone to lunch on my own. Not turning down talking to Nathan Arthurs though. Enjoy your lunch. S.
Aaron laughed and closed the lid after getting his lunch out of it. There were bottles of water in the center of the table. He leaned over and grabbed one, grabbing one for JJ as well who was seated beside him.
“So, Pretty Boy all of a sudden gets a better offer than his boxed lunch with the team and he takes it? What’s up, Hotch?” Morgan asked.
“I asked for Dave’s help in getting Spencer out of the building so that I could talk to you all.” Aaron was sure that no one missed the use of Spencer and not Reid.
“About?” Prentiss asked.
“What happened a few weeks back and why it happened and to reassure you that it won’t happen again.”
“Go on,” Dave said. Aaron looked at him and while the other man looked interested, Aaron could tell he really wasn’t but was trying to seem it. The only explanation was that Dave had talked to Spencer. It had to have been that night that Aaron had made an ass of himself.”
“I’ve been seeing a great deal of Spencer outside of work.” Aaron thought about his next words, taking a bite of his sandwich to give himself the time. “As you can guess by him letting it slip that I’d been to his new place, I’ve been doing it a while.”
“And what did you do?” Morgan asked.
Aaron could see that both him and JJ were getting defensive.
“Don’t worry I saved most of me being an ass for here at work, in public. There has always been something between him and I. I pushed it away for a long time. I let other things scare me away. What started out as a way to just be friendly with him turned into something a lot more. Still I ignored the spark. Then we went on that stakeout together and everything changed. It wasn’t one sided. That made it a lot harder to ignore. We moved ever closer. I helped him move in. I found that kitten and brought him over to him. I used Curiosity as a reason for visits but we both knew it was different. Then I did something stupid. I didn’t hurt him. I am just unwilling to go into what I did without him here but it was stupid and I felt bad about what I did and my reaction to it. That’s what caused the weeks of not talking to each other. I was ready to apologize and beg his forgiveness when I went to his place. I saw him with someone and I got angry. It wasn’t anything sexual at all or even sexual like. I over reacted and instead of talking to him and asking what was going on, I acted like I did that day at work.”
“But you’ve talked?” Prentiss asked.
Aaron nodded. “Yes. We’ve talked and right now, everything is in my court. He’s made his feelings known and has described exactly to me what I saw that night and how stupid the assumptions I made were.” The rest of the team had been eating, albeit slowly, while he was talking. He hadn’t eaten much but he’d be able to after the discussion if need be. He set down his sandwich and sighed. “I made my decision and that’s why I wanted to talk to you all. Tell you everything upfront. Without Spencer here to be embarrassed by my assholeness and what it caused.” Aaron’s phone vibrated and he looked down at it.
Does Morgan want to kill you?
Unknown at this point. Thank you for being magnanimous and not telling Dave you saw through his rouse.
You and feelings and the object of said feelings in the same room at the same time does not an eloquent Aaron Hotchner make.
Shouldn’t you be paying attention to your lunch date?
He’s not here yet. Rossi told me the wrong time on the reservation. So I’m sitting here with people staring at me like they pity me.
Aaron looked at Dave and raised an eyebrow. The older man just shrugged his shoulders. He looks very unrepentant about it.
Didn’t expect him to be. Go back to telling them team about us, Aaron.
I will. Lunch was perfect by the way.
Good. Nathan is here. Have a good day.
You too, Spencer.
When Aaron looked up from his phone the entire team was looking at him. He didn’t look down but he knew that he was blushing a little bit and he hated that Spencer could do that to him.
“I think that tells us everything we need to know,” JJ said with a smile. She leaned close and stage whispered. “Was that Spence?”
“Yes. He was wanting to know the results of this discussion. Because he knew exactly what getting him out of here meant.”
“That’s because One Eight Seven isn’t an idiot. As long as nothing happens like a few weeks ago, you have my blessing, Sir.”
Morgan and JJ nodded their agreement but there was a look that spoke of pain on their face and he took it that he’d be in pain if he hurt him. He was going to make sure that he never did, if it was in his power.
“You have balls, Sir,” Prentiss said and it brought every face in the room to stare at her. She smiled. “Have you been around on any of his game nights?”
“Yes.” Aaron looked at Garcia to see if she was latching onto that but she didn’t seem to be. She just stared at Prentiss.
“Then you met the rabid horde. Did you meet Walmond?”
“No. I was privy to the game where Sam was playing. Do you know Walmond?”
“I do. I also know that he watches Spencer. They communicate via letters and email. Various conversations for each method. What he might not have told you is how I know him.”
“MI5. I had dealings with him in the technical department in my time in Interpol.”
“I see.” Aaron remembered that message on his computer and reevaluated it coming from Kevin Lynch. He stared at Prentiss and she smiled. He had a feeling that while Spencer wouldn’t tell Walmond about what happened at work, she just might and he wasn’t sure that he liked that.
“I need to talk to Aaron alone, so why don’t you all scatter,” Dave said as he picked up his cookie from his lunch. Aaron picked his own sandwich back up and started to eat it. He knew that whatever Dave was going to say had to be secrets that he only knew. That he didn’t feel like sharing with the rest of the team. Aaron wasn’t sure that he wanted to hear them. He popped open his coleslaw and dug into it. Dave moved to the chair next to him. “What do you know of Reid’s sexuality?”
“Sexuality?” Aaron asked, trying not to choke on his food. He really didn’t want to talk to Dave about this at all.
“You go silent when thinking and I know that Reid is used to that but when it comes to one and one’s own sexuliaty, that kind of stuff can go out the window. So I’d rather have him pissed and you pissed at me than to have something happen again because I’d let Morgan beat your head in with his foot.”
“Fine. Go.” Aaron set down his fork so that he wouldn’t put food in his mouth by rote and choke. He did take a drink and Dave waited for him to swallow before he finished.
“Answer my question.”
“I’ve never thought much on his sexuality other than the fact that he’s a male and his eyes rarely ever strayed to any person really. And there was the starlet who hit on him and pulled him into a pool, kissing him. I heard him and Morgan talking about her and it was seemingly like a crush.”
“She was a very pretty face, a very nice body, and not all that dumb really. She seemed attracted to him from the get go if I believe Gideon. I never thought of him really in that way back then. That came later and I guess I slotted him into bisexual.”
“And if I told you what he thought he was at that point?” Dave waited for him to wave before he went on. “Up until your little thing between the two of you in that car on that stakeout he was fairly certain he was panromantic.”
Aaron stopped all thought with that. He just stared at Dave. He knew he wasn’t speaking a foreign language but it felt like it. Romantic was on the asexual scale. Pan fit him well but the romantic. But Dave said up to that point. “And after?”
“Demipansexual or Hotchsexual.”
“He never…” Aaron knew exactly why Dave had made sure to bring this up. Wrapping his mind around it all. He knew that people who had that orientation existed. He knew academically but he’d never met anyone like that. Asexual yes. He’d had the unfortunate, for the woman, job of taking the statement of a woman who was asexual who had been raped in a case. He hadn’t known his team well enough to trust them at that time to take it after he’d joined the BAU.
“What he has done and hasn’t is in your ball to talk to him about. I just didn’t want you blindsided. The kid seems to have dealt with his own acceptance of his change well but I’m a co-worker and a friend, you are the love interest and dealing with that is always different. He’s eloquent when it comes to talking about sexuality in an abstract way but I’ve never seen him really talk about it any other time. That night with me, he was simmering with anger at you. I think he told me more than he meant to.” Dave stood up from the table, putting all his trash into the box before dropping it into the trash can at the side of the room. “And just to give you a heads up. He has fish. A tank in his reading room and a tank in his office at his place.”
“He’d mentioned wanting fish. I’m sure that Curiosity loves them.”
Dave laughed and nodded as he left. He pulled the door shut behind him. Aaron could only try and think about what he’d learned. Demisexual. No wonder he’d been so upset that Aaron thought he had been stringing him along. Aaron had changed his life and he hadn’t meant to. He felt like apologizing about it but he knew that Spencer wouldn’t care about it. He’d accepted by this point and moved on. He didn’t need to worry then at all about how Spencer felt. Still he wanted to give it time. Time to settle after what he’d done. Time to get Jack used to the idea of him dating. Beth had fizzled out before Jack had been brought into it but with Spencer there was the added level that Jack knew Spencer. He adored his Uncle Spencer. There was a knowledge that if they fizzled, there would be a lot of damage on all sides. He wanted it though, even if it ended. He wanted to know what being with Spencer felt like.