Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 10
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 10
Summary: Things go bump in the night and some of them look human. Some might even be the people you trust most in the world.
Notes: Based off the series Project Monster with the author’s permission. The Little Spies are all androgynous, both male and female. They will be referred to as its for the story.
Warnings: Threats Against Children,
Gift For: swtalmnd
Spencer Reid hated using the shadows to move around. He only used them when he had to and getting into Hotch’s apartment wasn’t easy, even using the shadows. There was no shadow big enough for him to fully enter the apartment except for the closet and even it was a fight. Hotch’s apartment was protected against all manner of monsters that would want to enter. Hotch had his apartment alarmed but it was against someone entering through a window or the door. Once inside, Spencer had the run of the place but he had to make sure that he didn’t move anything.
“So exactly what are you afraid of, Hotch?” Spencer asked himself aloud. He took in the living room and saw the hidden lights that had been concealed in the nooks and crannies around the room. None of the team, including Hotch had been there for the actual birthday party. Hotch used their apartment for the members of the team to give Jack his birthday wishes. It had been the first time that Spencer had ever been in the apartment. Hotch had never even invited the team over to his house he’d lived in with Haley so no one had said a single thing about never getting invited to the apartment.
The faint scent of a monster was only in a single room and Spencer growled as he realized, after opening the door, that it was Jack’s room. There was no reason for a monster to go after a child. Even the worst of them had learned long ago that killing children was taboo because humans liked to fix those kind of deaths and Monsters had been too close to being revealed more than once because of the death of a child. Spencer entered Jack’s room and found that it was the most lit up. There were blackout curtains on every single window, all pulled closed so that the bright light wasn’t visible outside. There were fairy lights strung up around the top of the room and five lamps on various surfaces. All had long lasting bulbs in them.
The scent of the monster was one that Spencer didn’t know at all. It was concentrated on the window. For the monster to never make it inside, meant that he wasn’t humanoid like Spencer, he was the whole deal and dangerous. But weak if he hadn’t got to his prey yet. He couldn’t fully manifest in the human world until he killed. If he was focusing on Jack or Hotch, that meant it was someone that they had crossed paths with before and had died. There was a long list of humans that it could have been and even Jack’s own mother, Haley. Spencer really hoped that it wasn’t her. He would kill her again if she had sold her soul to live again but it would hurt.
“You aren’t getting him,” Spencer said aloud even though he was sure that the monster wasn’t trying to manifest at that point. Spencer felt out inside himself and found the tiny link that connected him to his little monsters. His spies. He’d never used a spy to watch Hotch, even when Foyet had been after the man because while the spies were smart, they were clumsy and hyper and he didn’t want one of them making itself known to Foyet. Three sets of eyes blinked at him from outside the window. It was too bright for them to come into the apartment.
“Spencer need us?” Plato asked as it appeared in the nook made in Spencer’s shirt pocket.
“I need you and Virgil and Homer to stay here and watch this apartment. There is a monster trying to get to Jack.”
“Henry too?” Homer asked from inside Spencer’s vest.
“No, just Jack.”
“Too brights,” Virgil lamented. He sneezed and shivered from Spencer’s pants pocket. The spies were good at finding just enough darkness on him to appear but they had been smart to appear outside first.
“Henry no in trouble?” Homer asked.
“No. Henry is fine. This someone is going after just Jack and Hotch by extension.”
Spencer laughed to himself. All of his spies were attached to Henry even though Clara was the one that watched Henry all the time. Henry even had a small nest in his desk for it to live in.
“Jack scared,” Plato said as it sniffed around in the air. “None of us will make friends.”
“No, I was thinking that maybe Ash would work but I want to talk to it first. I want you three to guard the building. I’ll figure out a way to get Ash to Jack, maybe through Henry and Clara.”
“That’s good. That work.”
“Clara,” Spencer called out. He felt his back pants pocket wiggle a little and laughed before he reached back and pulled Clara from his pocket. The littlest of his spies blinked at him and took in the room.
“Fraidy Hotch’s boy,” Clara said as it looked around the room again. Clara was the most used to light. It had been with Henry since he’d been born. Naming Spencer Henry’s Godfather had been something that JJ hadn’t understood exactly what she was doing. Clara had watched Henry grow up and from infancy became his “imaginary” friend. It went with Henry everywhere, including the boy making sure that Clara was safe at school. At one point, JJ would question that the imaginary friend wasn’t going away and Spencer would deal with it then. Until then Clara was Henry’s guard. “That’s not good at all. What’s wrong with Jack?”
“A monster is after him. I want you to keep Ash with you and the next time that Jack is with Henry, make them friends. Ash is going to live with Jack.”
“Good. Jack needs friend. I make it happen. Where Ash?”
“In my apartment like it always is.”
“Be good for Ash and for Jack. Henry would love it. Ash and I can be secret messengers back and forth.”
“Whatever you want to do.” Spencer knew that Clara did a lot of what it called secret fun stuff for Henry. Including pranking Spencer on occasion. Henry didn’t know that Clara was Spencer’s spy but Spencer knew about Henry’s imaginary friend and on occasion Spencer asked about how Clara was doing with Henry. Spencer had made sure that Clara knew to tell Henry that adults couldn’t see imaginary friends and he shouldn’t try and show it to them.
“Be funs, after monster go away. Who is it?” Clara asked. While it had the best grip on the human language, it had only a few years learning it, same as Henry and sometimes being around the other spies made Clara’s language revert closer to the generally accepted speech.
“I don’t know. I’m going to find out though.”
The sound of a key in the door alerted Spencer that someone was trying to gain entrance to the door. Jack and Hotch were supposed to be gone for the weekend, a small trip to the coast for father and son.
“Scatter,” Spencer said and the spies all disappeared. It was the code word for them leaving without a fight. Spencer forced himself into the small shadow that was made by the blackout curtains and hoped from Jack’s bedroom to the living room. Hotch was opening the door with Jack in his arms, the boy asleep on his father’s shoulder with what looked like a cast on his left wrist. Spencer frowned to himself. JJ and Henry were right on Hotch’s feet and Spencer’s frowned deepened. Clara kept Henry’s secrets, never telling Spencer anything unless it was dangerous.
“You didn’t have to pick us up, JJ. Henry should still be asleep.”
“Henry heard you call me and he was worried. You guys didn’t even make it out of town.” JJ’s voice was loud even as she made it down the hall towards Jack’s room, following Hotch. Spencer moved towards that shadow and peeked at what was happening. The man laid Jack down on the bed and Henry crawled into bed with him. Spencer smiled at small lump that moved right around Henry’s hip. He wasn’t shocked that Clara went right to Henry when Spencer had told it to scatter. Another lump moved just below, thankfully neither JJ or Hotch saw it.
“Jack will like having Henry here this weekend since our trip to the beach was cancelled. Hard to have fun in the water when one can’t go in the water.”
“Well, I have Henry’s bag in the car. I’ll run down and get it.” JJ left the room and so did Hotch. Spencer didn’t manifest himself more. Henry shifted on the bed and pulled the blanket to see Clara. Ash was there was well. Spencer glared at the little spies.
“Is this your friend?” Henry asked Clara.
“Yes. This is Ash. Ash wants to be friends with Jack.”
“Jack said that a shadow monster hurt him. Scared him in the train station and he fell and broke his arm. The monster wants to hurt him.”
“Hen?” Jack called out as he sat up in the bed. He rubbed at his eye with his good hand and Spencer saw the grotesque hand shaped bruise on that arm. Spencer recognized it easy as from a Monster. Ash turned towards Spencer with a angry look on it’s face.
“It’s me, Jack,” Henry whispered. “We have to be quiet Mom and Uncle Aaron are out there.”
“Who is this?” Jack asked. He reached out to petted Clara. Clara crawled up into Jack’s lap and nuzzled into his hurt hand. Jack’s gaze though was on Ash.
“My name is Ash, Jack Hotchner,” Ash said as it moved towards Jack on the edge of Henry’s knee. It didn’t reach out to touch Jack but it did hold out it’s hand for Jack to shake. Spencer smiled. Ash had taught itself to read and to write while it lived in Spencer’s apartment. The poor thing had been born white instead of the black that all the other spies were. Spencer had recused it and kept it safe. “I wanna be your friend.”
“You are white, unlike Clara.”
“I born different. My master protects me and keeps me safe. He not allow anyone to hurt me for being different.”
“Who is your master?” Jack asked.
“Secret. Secrets keep me safe. Secrets keep you safe. Master never want to harm you. I promise this,” Ash smiled at Jack and when Jack finally reached out and held out two fingers for Ash to shake. Jack shook Ash’s hand gently.
“What is your master’s name?” Jack asked.
Ash looked at Clara before glancing at the curtain. The little spies could see Spencer. He nodded and Ash seemed to puff up.
“The other Monsters call him The Doctor.”
“Like Doctor Who?” Jack asked.
“I like Doctor Who. I like it when Dad lets me spend the day with Uncle Spencer and we watch it.” Jack smiled for the first time since he’d woken up but he yawned afterward.
Clara clicked it’s tongue, causing Jack to giggle. “It’s past bedtime for all little humans. Ash and I will watch and make sure that no monsters appear. If one does, I’ll call my Master. Master will protect Ash and Clara and Jack and Henry.”
“Good. I hate the dark,” Jack said. He laid down and Henry laid down as well. With a beat of the wings on their back’s, Ash and Clara covered the boys up and left a kiss on their foreheads. The little spies then moved to the edge of the bed and flew up to land on the sconces on either side of the bed, settling in for the long night.
Spencer didn’t leave until he heard the boy’s breathing deep and he knew they were asleep. He moved back to the living room to find Hotch sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee in hand, half gone and both of his guns on the coffee table. Spencer thought him admirable but there wasn’t anything that the gun would do for what was after Jack.
Two hours later, Hotch turned the lights off to the living room and waiting in the dark. Spencer kept watch as the man tried to invite the Monster who was hunting his son into their apartment. Spencer knew the Monster wouldn’t show up. He’d made his move for the day, it was a way to wear Hotch down. Make small moves that wore him out and then when he was at his weakest, the Monster was going to strike.
Spencer had got good at making sure that not even Monsters knew that he was one as well. He left no trace and spies being around with kids wouldn’t be that much of a trigger for the Monster hunting Jack. He’d make his move and Spencer would be there. He just had a few things he had to do first.