Series: The Alphabet Game
Fandom: Criminal Minds,
Year: Season 7
Tags: Fluff, Pets,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner, Curiosity (The Cat), Toothless (The Bearded Dragon),
Spoilers: Up Through Season 7
Summary: Spencer does the first thing when it comes to Jack that he fears Aaron may not like.
Notes: Spencer’s Flat
Spencer had never felt so nervous in his life. He looked to the area of his flat that was rearranged. It hadn’t been hard to shift books around, or the bookshelves that had been there. The tank stand had been easy to acquire. The vision cage on top was empty, for now. Beside it were the supplies that he’d bought that were needed. Beside them was the smaller tank that the as yet unnamed Bearded Dragon was in.
There had been a reptile expo at a local convention center and Jack had wanted to go. Aaron had asked him to go with them. It had been fun. Jack had wanted to take one home and Aaron had almost given in but their apartment was too small for a tank a full sized Bearded Dragon would need.
Spencer knew that he should have asked Aaron first but he’d gone back the next day and had spent time talking to one of the vendors. He’d been put in contact with a local man who wasn’t at the expo but would be able to help him get what he wanted.
Now Aaron and Jack were going to be coming over for a movie night and Spencer was so nervous that he thought he might puke. It hadn’t really set in that he had done something he shouldn’t have until about twenty minutes before.
Knowing that just standing there staring wasn’t going to make him feel better, he moved towards his reading room. There his laptop was open. He was trying to get a paper done but the distraction that was his personal life was causing him issues. He looked at the clock to see that there was still several hours before the Hotchner men arrived. So he forced himself to get into the paper.
The sound of the door opening and Curiosity’s mad dash across the flat had Spencer looking up. It was still a couple of hours before Aaron and Jack were due.
“Curiosity!” Jack said in a loud but still sort of inside voice.
Spencer froze because Aaron wasn’t going to miss the reptile area. They were early and while that was good for what he was sure was a developing ulcer in his stomach, he wasn’t ready. He’d told Aaron to let himself in a little while and the man had. Powering down his laptop, Spencer set it aside.
Jack’s scream had Spencer up and out of the room before he could acknowledge the peeling laughter that came after. He saw Curiosity on Jack’s shoulders and Aaron holding in a laugh. Spencer tried not to look at the tank, he really did, but still his eyes went to it. He watched as Aaron’s eyes went to it and widened in surprise. Before Aaron could say a word, Spencer moved towards his bedroom,
“Excuse me,” Spencer said as he passed them. He pulled the doors shut and took a deep breath. He moved to the bathroom and shut out the murmur of talking by shutting the door. He slipped his glasses off as his stomach threatened to push out the light lunch he’d eaten. He dry heaved once before he knew he couldn’t hold it in.
That’s how Aaron found him minutes later, sitting on the floor with his face over the toilet, throwing up what was in his stomach. Aaron didn’t say a word. Instead, he moved to the cabinet and grabbed a rag, wetting it. Spencer watched him from the corner of his eye. Aaron sat down behind Spencer and laid the rag on his neck.
“I didn’t think, realize until a little bit ago that I shouldn’t have done it without asking you. That you might have used space as a reason to not want the lizard but that there could be other reasons as well.”
“And you made yourself sick with worry?” Aaron asked.
Spencer nodded before he leaned forward again, puking into the toilet. It was only stomach acid at that point. When he leaned back up, pulling the rag from his neck to wipe at his mouth, he felt a hand snaking under his shirt. Aaron splayed his hand on his stomach and his fingers just rubbed a little, trying to calm him down.
“Space was my only issue on getting him a Bearded Dragon. I saw that a sixty five to a hundred and twenty gallon tank was best for one that was adult sized and there is no room in my apartment for that. There is also the consideration of Jessica. I don’t want to get a pet that would need care like the lizard would on a daily basis while we are on a case. You already have someone who comes and takes care of Curiosity, so taking care of the lizard as well will be no issue. While yes I would have liked to have been asked about it, I know that you were coming from somewhere good and genuine. And I don’t like that you thinking I’d be upset has made you throw up.” Aaron’s hand pulled him back into his chest and he easily went, relaxing into his body.
“I have a nervous tummy. I spent three hours before defending my first dissertation in the bathroom. I’d got a good head by my second. And I easily carried that over for work. I puked once after getting the call that I was being placed in the BAU.”
“Jack’s a ball of energy out there right now. He’s quite excited for your new pet.”
“I’m glad.” Spencer’s stomach was settling down but he wasn’t sure that it was quite time for him to get away from the toilet yet.
“Close your eyes, Spencer.” Aaron’s voice was soft in his ear. Spencer did as he asked. “Never worry about gifts. Even pets. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not going to get angry. Upset yes but we will talk. We will always talk.”
Spencer didn’t answer verbally. He just nodded and turned his head to nuzzle at Aaron’s throat. Aaron wrapped his arm around him and held him close.
“Now clean up and join us to introduce us to our new pet.” Aaron kissed his cheek before standing and then helping Spencer up.
It wasn’t until Aaron was out of the room that his words sunk in. Our. Aaron had said our new pet. That made Spencer’s stomach flop for a whole different reason. He brushed his teeth before leaving his rooms. Jack was leaning on the stand his face all but pressed against the front glass of the twenty galleon cage. The top of the cage was wooden and held the heat from the lamps well so it was Curiosity’s new favorite perch. The access hatch was on the side and when Spencer stepped around the boy to open it, the lizard moved over towards the hatch.
Jack’s eyes followed the creature as it moved out on its own. The little thing and Curiosity had come to an agreement just that morning. Curiosity got to leach heat from the cage and the Bearded Dragon left him alone. The only sign Curiosity was upset at not being the center of attention was the flick of his tail.
“What’s his name?”
“I haven’t named it yet. While the breeder was sure that is going to be male, we won’t know until it’s mature. Do you want to name it?” Spencer asked as he picked up the lizard carefully. He held it out. Jack reached out to pet him. “For right now, have your father or I take it out.”
“Yes, Spencer.” Jack eyedd the lizard with barely concealed excitement. Spencer handed it over and Jack grinned so wide that Spencer swore his face was about to break. Jack moved over to the couch area and sat down carefully. Curiosity opened his eyes and looked towards the boy, deciding that he needed attention from him since someone else was getting attention. H. He jumped down and sauntered over towards the couch. Spencer watched as Aaron’s eyes followed the cat and seemed ready to jump over to stop the cat when Curiosity just sat on the arm of the couch and stared at Jack. The cat huffed when Jack didn’t turn around to look at him, which still didn’t get a single response from Jack. Curiosity moved closer, settling at Jack’s side stretched along his leg. Jack reached over and petted him once before turning back to the lizard.
“So Jack, do you want to name it?” Aaron asked.
“Toothless,” Jack uttered as he petted the lizard crawling on his lap, towards Curiosity. Spencer knew that Curiosity wasn’t going to harm the lizard, they had a mutual ignorance thing going,, but he was shocked when the lizard crawled right off Jack and onto Curiosity. The cat turned his head to look at the lizard and seemed to deflate when the lizard settled along his back, seemingly content to just sit there. “They like each other?”
“I think it’s more that Curiosity knows that he has a better chance of getting attention if he makes nice,” Spencer said under his breathe so that only Aaron could hear. The older man barked out a few notes of laughter before reigning it in. Spencer smiled at him before moving back to the two cages.
“What does he eat?” Jack asked.
“Bearded Dragons are omnivores.” Spencer saw the subtle shiver in Aaron’s body. That word was probably always going to be a trigger. “Which in the case of lizards means theyey eat a variety of things. As a baby, the lizard needs to eat more insects than vegetables. He’s fed insects three times a day, as many as he can eat in about fifteen minutes, after that they need to be removed. Since there is a pet store just a block down the road, I go there in the morning and get the crickets and they are brought back and put in this tank.” Spencer showed him the tank with the crickets in it. “When he gets older he’ll eat more vegetables than bugs but vegetables need to be kept in the tank for him. Some of the best things for him to eat are acorn squash, artichoke hearts, raw bell peppers, bok choy, butternut squash, raw cabbage, carrots, celery, peeled cucumber, endive, mustard greens, and yellow squash. Plants are carnations, chives, clover, dandelion greens, daylilies, maple leaves, mint leaves, and rose petals. In moderation he can have fruits are apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, pineapple, plum, prunes, raisins, strawberries, and watermelon.” Spencer stopped but Jack was looking at him like he was enthralled.
“Do you have any of that?” Jack asked.
“Yes. But we can’t feed Toothless a lot of that right now. We will refresh his vegetables later tonight to keep him happy over night. Then in the morning you can help me feed him crickets. Tonight I want you to watch me do it.”
“Okay,” Jack said a little upset. But he didn’t say anything about it.
“So what kind of technological devices do you have set up to keep Toothless’s tank the right temperatures for the right times of day?” Aaron asked moving back over to the the cages.
Spencer smiled and ducked his head. Of course Aaron would know that he had things like that setup. The older man wrapped his arms around Spencer’s stomach and peered over his shoulder at the smaller cage.
“With the smaller cage having glass, it’s a little trickier to heat but I have relays and such set up to where the heat kicks on and off as needed to have the temperature set at the best degree for the time of day. Obviously cooler at night. The bigger tank, when it’s time for Toothless to go into it, will have the same set up but it’ll be regulated a little better as there will be a much larger hotter area and a cooler area.”
“What’s the little hammock for?”
“To relax in.” Spencer pointed at the tree in the opposite corner and then up to the heat source above. “That’s for him to get close to the heat as he wants to.”
“How big will he get?”
“Twenty four inches is the biggest. Hence the one hundred and twenty gallon vision tank. He’ll be full grown by around a year and a half but once he’s out of baby stage, he can be moved to the big tank. This smaller one is used while he is getting used to catching food and just being away from his siblings.”
“Of course you have researched this to death.”
“I don’t do anything without making sure I am making an informed decision. Anything less is just stupid.”
“Put away the claws,” Aaron whispered in his ear. “I wasn’t making fun of you. I think it’s adorable. I know Morgan makes fun but it’s the way your mind works.”
“Nothing to be sorry for. I still haven’t said sorry for showing up hours early. Jack wanted to go to the park he noticed down the block. We stopped to see if you wanted to go. I knocked but you didn’t answer so Jack wanted to say hi to Curiosity then leave and come back later.”
“I was lost in my own little world working on a paper.”
Spencer opened his mouth to answer but stopped when he watched Curiosity ease himself off the couch with Toothless on his back. Jack was giggling. Toothless wasn’t trying to get off and seemed okay. Spencer felt Aaron laughing.
“And it seems that what was needed was Jack to end Curiosity’s disinterest in Toothless.”
“The wonder of children. If you need to work on the paper, we can go to the park alone.”
“No it’s not one that I need to have due any time soon. The American Journal of Psychology wants a paper on the differences between Adam Jackson and Tobias Hankel. Amanda signed a paper releasing me to and she’s agreed to talk to me over the phone. When I get a chance I want to go see her.”
“I’ll go with you. We can take a day, take the jet. She’s our only alive case and learning more can help.”
“We can talk at work Monday. A distraction from the paper is a good thing. We can take Curiosity if Jack wants. Toothless needs to stay for now.”
“You have him harness trained?”
“Yes.” Spencer looked at Aaron and wasn’t shocked when the man just stared at him. “Are you that shocked?”
“I shouldn’t be but I am. I’m sure that you and Jack will have Toothless that way soon as well.” Aaron turned to where Jack was following behind Toothless and Curiosity as they moved around the apartment.
Spencer watched as Aaron carried Jack into bed in his and Henry’s bedroom. The boy had tuckered out after a long day of playing in the park with him and Aaron as well as taking Curiosity on two walks around the park, in the grass. They’d eaten dinner in the park, throwing off Spencer’s dinner plans but thankfully the food could be eaten for lunch the next day.
While Aaron was putting Jack to bed, Spencer filled their glasses with wine again and washed out Jack’s water glass. Spencer smiled as the day had been wonderful. He was enjoying spending most of his free time with Jack and Aaron. He had his quiet moments and got what he needed done when they weren’t there but he knew that he’d have to work more on getting other things done when they were there.
“Why don’t I take care of breakfast and lunch so that you can work on your papers and whatever classwork you have to do. Jack and I can entertain ourselves for a few hours,” Aaron said as he came up behind him. He snagged his wineglass from the counter and took a large sip of it.
“But…” Spencer stopped when Aaron turned him around, bracing his arms on either side of him.
“But…we don’t need taken care of every single second that we are here. I like spending time with you. We used to just spend evenings with me reading and you doing whatever you needed to do. It’s not like there isn’t enough to keep Jack entertained between the large collection of movies, the Wii, Curiosity, and reading up on his new pet. Just being here is enough for us. We want to spend time with you and that doesn’t mean that you have to entertain the whole time. Just relax.”
“But I…” Spencer waved towards the fridge.
“I’m cooking breakfast and lunch, Spencer.”
Spencer glared at him half heartedly for a few seconds but Aaron’s face didn’t change and he gave in. “Fine.”
“And you’ll work on whatever you need to work on for a little bit tomorrow?” Aaron asked.
“Don’t pout, Spencer.” Aaron raised his hands and cupped Spencer’s face, pulling him in for a kiss. He felt the older man start to step backwards but his face wasn’t let go of. Spencer shifted up off where he was leaning on the counter. Aaron pulled at him, not stopping kissing him until Aaron dropped down onto one of the futon couches. He pulled Spencer down to straddle his lap. “Every time you pout, I’m going to kiss you until you stop pouting.”
“That’s just going to make me pout more.” Spencer pointed out as he settled himself down on Aaron’s lap.
“And that means more kissing.”
“Aaron.” Spencer ducked his head because he couldn’t take the look that Aaron was giving him. He was allowed to hide his face in the side of Aaron’s neck so he relaxed totally down into the man. One of Aaron’s hands came up to play with his hair while the other laid itself on his hip, just sitting there. The few glasses of wine that he’d drank was making him pleasantly sleepy given the hour of the night.
“You can’t keep dropping everything for us. You have an active life in academics and I don’t want that to suffer because of Jack and I. The only other option is for us to not come over as much and I will do it but none of us will be happy. So take the time to get done what you need to get done and Jack and I will just enjoy being around you. Jack gives me time at home to do things without bothering me. We can do the same here.”
“You were raised to entertain your guests. I know but Spencer, when are you going to stop thinking of us as guests?” Aaron asked. He rolled his shoulder and Spencer lifted his head up to look him in the eyes.
Spencer almost gave him the answer that first came to his mind but instead he said, “I’ll work on it. Help me finish cleaning up?”
“Sure.” Aaron smiled and kissed him briefly.
When they settled down to bed just an hour later, both worn out from a stressful week, Spencer thought about what he’d almost said. When you move in. He’d almost said it, but he was afraid that Aaron would have taken it as an invitation, and Spencer wasn’t ready for that yet, was he? He liked them being there but did he want them there all the time? He’d take time and think about it before talking about it to Aaron.
“Love you,” Aaron murmured as he drifted off to sleep. Spencer repeated it back and felt Aaron’s body go lax. He wasn’t far behind with Aaron wrapped around him. This part he really liked and living together would mean it every single night that they were home. That might just be worth it.