Title: The Angst War
Fandom: Criminal Minds, James Bond,
Tags: Angst, Canon-Typical Violence, Emotional, No Happy Endings, Psychotic Breaks, MPreg, Sentinel/Guide, Rejection, Maeve Lived, One Sided Bonding,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, James Bond/Q,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 12 & SPECTRE
Warnings: Major Character Death, Murder, Suicide, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Drug Use, Non-Consensual Bonding, Rape, Child Molestation, Child Rape, Self Harm, Cutting, Dubious Consent,
This is a series of one-shots that were written and posted on AO3 in a writing war with Rivermoon1970.
Chapter 2-Aaron and Spencer
David Rossi stood and looked at the strong man who didn’t seem so strong at the moment. He was wearing black. He never wore black. Even though it went against the wishes, he’d worn black. Garcia, Prentiss, and JJ were all in purple. The woman who Dave had been introduced to as Greenaway was in red. Morgan was in white. Even Dave himself had dressed in pale blue. But he was in all black. Black suit, black tie, black shirt, black socks, black shoes. It hurt to see him.
There were two coffins at the front of the room and for all of people who had already left, it was the second, smaller one who garnered the most emotion. But for those that still remained it was neck and neck which one gave them the most grief. At the moment for the man in black, Dave was sure that it was the bigger one. He’d been at the back, paying his respect to those that were leaving. Now it was family only, where he could finally let go.
The man in black walked up the aisle, staring at the bigger of the two caskets. Morgan was there just off to the side ready to do whatever was needed. As he reached the casket, his hand wavered to open it up. He stopped though and just touched the spot where his face would be.
“This isn’t what I meant when I said I wanted to walk down the aisle to you.”
Dave felt the tears he’d been able to hold in the entire day start to fall.
Aaron Hotchner was a strong man who had finally been bent so much that he broke. The death of his lover and his son at the hands of George Foyet had broken him. He fell to his knees and started to cry. Dave wasn’t sure that he was going to come back from this. That Aaron was going to live past finding Foyet. He’d hang on long enough to kill the man and then he’d waste away. Aaron was too proud to kill himself outright but he’d die all the same.
According to the report, Reid’s face had been disfigured from the blast of the forty four that Foyet had shot before resorting to the knife that he’d used to make the fatal blows to both him and Jack. After getting back from Canada, Reid had gone ahead home to relieve Jessica while Aaron had gone into the office to finish up and file the team’s paperwork so they could enjoy a long weekend without having to come in. The call that had come in pushing them onto a case hadn’t been that odd. What had been odd was the fact that they hadn’t been able to get ahold of Aaron or Reid at all. Then Prentiss had gone to Aaron’s house where blood had been everywhere. Garcia had found them where they had all been dropped in Aaron’s car outside the closest hospital. Reid and Jack hadn’t made it off the operating tables while Aaron had only suffered minor head wounds from being knocked out after finding the bodies of Reid and Jack displayed for him.
To the rest of the FBI, Reid had moved in with Aaron to help him in the aftermath of Haley’s death. Jack had been young and Aaron needed a hand. To the team they knew that Reid had spent so much time with Aaron that they had fallen in love. Dave hadn’t known that some sort of wedding or at least an exchange of rings had been something they had talked about.
When Aaron started to sob so hard that it sounded like he was choking himself, Morgan stepped up and wrapped an arm around his waist, lifting him up. Prentiss moved to the other side as Morgan turned them to leave.
Chapter 4-Aaron and Spencer
There was little that could be done. What had come and gone couldn’t be changed and Spencer didn’t even know how he could change it. He looked at the man in front of him. There was nothing left of the man that he had known. There was nothing left of the man that he had loved. Instead there was just this almost inhuman man who looked like Aaron Hotchner.
It had started a year before when the thirteen serial killers had escaped and the DOJ had messed with their ability to track them, fearing Aaron. Their hands had been tied and they had been subjected to so much oversight that in the end, when the dust had settled there had been too many dead. The premiere BAU team was left in ruins after the capture of the last killer had been done. The capture had taken place in Spencer’s apartment, after he and Jack had been taken captive by The Fox.
When the rest of the team had arrived, Spencer had already taken three shots to his body. One to his chest, one to his thigh and the last had shattered his ankle. But Jack, Jack had tried to help him and The Fox had slit his throat. Spencer had watched as the boy he’d come to love as his own bled out in front of him. He had no recollection of the moments that came after. When Morgan had kicked in the bedroom door, Spencer was cradling Jack’s lifeless body and The Fox was knocked unconscious from a pistol whipping.
But as much as it had hurt, as much as it had damaged him, it was nothing compared to what Aaron had gone through. Aaron blamed himself while Spencer laid blame at the feet of the men and women who had decided that the BAU couldn’t find the killers alone. It had left them jumping when they said jump and it was what had allowed The Fox to stay hidden as long as he had and for him to get his hands on Spencer and Jack. Because the men and women who were calling the shots didn’t see that The Fox would go after the BAU and their families. Aaron had spent weeks trying to get details for Jack, Will, Henry, Joy and her family, as well as Morgan and his.
And because the people above them didn’t have their backs Derek Morgan, Savannah Morgan, Hank Spencer Morgan, and Jack Hotchner were dead. And Aaron Hotchner? Aaron was now dead by Spencer’s hand because the man had gone on a killing spree and had killed thirteen high ranking officials in the FBI before he’d tried to kill another and Spencer had caught him. Spencer had been off desk duty for a week when he’d figured out Aaron’s plan and had cut him off.
What he hadn’t expected was that Aaron would actually shoot him. He’d only shot to wound, right in the same place that he’d been shot in by The Fox. But Spencer had still protected John and Aaron had been forced to actually enter the house instead of snipe. And he hadn’t back down and when he’d pulled his backup gun, Spencer shot him in the head. In the same spot that he’d shot Phillip Dowd what felt like seven lifetimes ago.
Chapter 6-Aaron and Spencer
There wasn’t a single way to look at the scene in front of him and not know that it was a suicide. The apartment was totally boxed up. Each box had wrote on it was inside of it and who or where it was to go to. Doctor Who things to Garcia. Some books to Prentiss, some to JJ. A box of things for Henry. Three boxes of things for Jack. A few boxes for Dave. The sound system to Morgan.
The couch was gone as was every other piece of furniture in the living room and bedroom. The clothes were gone too, except for the suit that was hanging on the bathroom door, a note on it that he was to be cremated in it.
A sealed letter was on the kitchen counter with a note that Morgan be the one to deliver it and tell his mother everything. Beside it was his will. Typed out and notarized with a clear detailing of where his money was to go. A trust that Dave was to oversee for his mother’s care, a trust fund for Henry and Jack that JJ and Will were to oversee to make sure they got into good colleges. That if Cal-Tech was either of their choices, he’d already made arrangements.
The only things left in the bathroom were cleaning supplies. Well the only thing besides the body.
“Hotch, there’s a box with no listing of what’s inside but it has your name on it. And his safe has your name on it.”
Aaron turned to move towards where Morgan was in the living room. There was a box beside the gun safe and Aaron opened the safe first. Inside was a gun, the wallet with his credentials, and his regular wallet. Aaron shut it and opened the box. There was a single note inside of it.
This is not Pandora’s Box because like me there is no hope left inside.
“What’s in the box?”
“Hotch, he left no note. There’s nothing. We’ve all looked through the boxes and outside of opening the letter for his mother, we have no idea why Reid…”
“It’s personal Morgan.” Aaron tried to shut the box but Morgan strong armed him out of the way. Morgan looked down and read the note that was at the bottom.
“What the hell does that mean?” Morgan asked.
“Derek,” JJ called out from where she was just inside the bedroom door.
Morgan turned to her and so did Aaron. There in her hands was a note.
“What does it say?” Morgan demanded to know.
“‘I lived for love and now I die for the loss of it.'”
Aaron ran from the apartment and he didn’t even try and get into his car. He just took off down the street. He kind of expected Morgan to be there, to stop him, to demand that he explain what the hell was going on. Aaron wasn’t sure that he could ever explain it. He pulled his phone up and dialed.
“Matteo, when you took over for Strauss, there should have been a offer of retirement that was open ended. After the death of my wife, she left it in there for when it all became too much. I’ll sign it in the morning.”
“No. No. I gave him up because you and those above you were going to ruin us. Me forced into a desk job and him stuck at the academy. Well, don’t worry. The Bureau won’t have to worry about us anymore. I’ll be in to clear out Reid’s desk and mine tomorrow as well.”
“No, Matteo. He killed himself. Because I did what was asked and told him that my job was more important. That I didn’t love him enough to want to give it up. And now I have to go home and tell my son that he’s lost another parent. I have to live knowing that the two people I’ve loved in my life died and it’s my fault. I couldn’t protect either one of them. So have what I need ready before I get there because it’s the only time I am stepping into that building for the rest of my life.”
Chapter 8-Spencer and the Adoption
Spencer looked down at his son as he slept in his bed. Life wasn’t anything like he thought it was going to turn out. He rolled over in the bed and Spencer knew that he needed to stop it. He needed to just step away and shut the door. The vibration of his cell phone was the thing that finally pulled him away.
Stepping into the kitchen, Spencer pulled the phone out and sighed at the caller ID. He silenced the call and set the phone down.
The legal adoption had gone through three years ago. He’d never thought that he’d have a kid but the circumstances that had preceded it had given him no other option.
The knock on his door twenty minutes later wasn’t a surprise either. He ignored it though. There were no lights on in the house and the person at the door wasn’t going to ring the bell on the chance that they woke up the entire house.
“Sweetie?” Jessica called from where she came down the stairs beside the kitchen. Spencer turned to her and smiled. She had grabbed one of his sweater to throw on to combat the chill in the air.
“It’s Rossi, again. We’ll go to the diner so that we don’t wake Jack.”
“Did Aaron call again?”
“He just tried. I figure when he didn’t get me that he called Rossi.”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“I know. Just go back to sleep. I’ll set the alarm.” Spencer stepped up to Jessica and kissed her forehead. She leaned into him. It hadn’t been something that he’d planned. He really hadn’t.
“I won’t be able to sleep until you come home.”
Spencer moved to the back door and went out it. Setting the alarm as he did. He watched Jessica move up the stairs before he moved to the front of the house. Rossi was still on the porch, waiting.
“Meet me at the diner three blocks over. We are not talking here.” Spencer went right for his car in the driveway. He didn’t even give Rossi time to say anything before he was in the car and backing down the driveway. The diner that was close to the house was open twenty four hours a day and it was a big spot for night shift cops to stop in and get coffee refills. Spencer was seated in the back with a good view of the door by the time that Rossi entered.
“Rossi, it’s Jack’s choice. It’s no one else’s and he’s not talked to Jessica or I over what reasons he had for the choice that he made. Jack has agreed to write him in six months and he knows that. I will not force Jack to talk to Hotch if he doesn’t want to.”
“He misses him.”
“He should have thought about that before he broke Jack’s arm.” Spencer looked down at his coffee. The images in mind would never go away. After Haley had been killed, Jack’s family fully became the team. Everyone knew that Hotch was having issues but none of them had seen how bad. Then Jack had shown up on Spencer’s doorstep late in the night a little over a year after Haley had died. The horrible thoughts of what could have happened to the five year old boy as he’d walked the seventeen blocks from his apartment that he had shared with his father to Spencer’s.
The first words out of his mouth had been, “Daddy needs help.”
Spencer had thought that something had happened to Hotch so he’d texted Rossi and had him go and check on Hotch. Then Spencer had ushered Jack in but the boy wouldn’t move. The next words still woke Spencer up from a dead sleep with sweat broke out on his body.
“I need to go to the hospital, Daddy hurt my arm.”
Spencer hadn’t even thought anything of grabbing his badge and his gun and getting Jack into the car. He knew where Jessica lived and he knew that she had power of attorney over medical care for Jack in case things happened when Hotch was on a case. So he’d left Jack in the car and went up to Jessica’s apartment to get her. She’d grabbed what they needed and instead of going to the closest hospital, Spencer drove to one that had a few doctors that he knew. Jessica had sat in the back with him and figured out that not only had Hotch hurt him that Jack’s arm was broke in at least one place and had handprints bruised into his skin.
The doctors had easily taken the paperwork that Jessica had given them, Spencer’s badge, and after a check of handprint to bruise shape test, had allowed Jack to worked in under a false name. Jessica had stayed with Jack and Spencer had tried to figure out exactly what had happened. When he’d left the room to check his phone he found that Rossi had found Hotch passed out drunk in his living room and Jack was presumably with Jessica. Spencer had asked him if he confirmed and all that Rossi had answered was the boy wasn’t home so he assumed that with Hotch drinking that the boy was with Jessica. Spencer’s next called had been to CPS and his own lawyer. Who hadn’t liked being disturbed at home but once Spencer had explained, it wasn’t hard to get the name of a damned good family lawyer in the DC area that would make sure that the case was taken care of.
Twelve hours later, Jack was released from the hospital with a cast on his arm and Jessica with temporary custody. The CPS agent had gone straight to Hotch’s apartment, woke him from his sleep and when he’d been unable to tell her where his son was, she hadn’t been happy. Once the hospital and the cops had been added to it all, Hotch had been arrested for child abuse, endangerment, and a slew of other charges.
The next few months of court visits and everything had been the worst on Jack and Jack liked Spencer so he spent as much time with him as he could. The relationship with Jessica had come out of nowhere. He’d been there for her as well as Jack and it had just surprised them. The team hadn’t been happy when Spencer had revealed to them that he was dating Jessica and it had all gone down hill from there. It had been the icing on the cake it seemed. His work life had imploded at that point and he’d ended up moving to White Collar Crimes. The paper trails made him happy and it was a more stable life, which at that point was better for Jessica and for Jack.
Rights hadn’t been severed until averted after Hotch had got out of jail two years later and Spencer had picked up Jack after his first unsupervised visit and Jack was sullen. The boy had admitted that he’d seen his Dad drink what he thought smelled like the stuff from before meaning alcohol. So Spencer had turned the car around and found Hitch leaving. He’d called Will and had a cop on the scene. As soon as Hotch had messed up, the cop pulled him over. He blew three times the legal limit and given only fifteen minutes had passed, it was easy to figure out that he had been drinking around Jack. That broke his parole and back in he went. The courts severed his rights and Jessica had full custody. Two days after Spencer and Jessica married, Spencer adopted Jack. Jack had been all for it and had been happy to start calling Spencer Papa. He still called Jessica Aunt and after a detailed discussion, between the three of them they kept it that way.
“Reid, he wants to see his son.”
“And his son doesn’t want to see him. Rossi, the only people that can force Jack to see him are me and Jessica and we aren’t going to. Hotch already has a TOR and it can get turned un-temporary as quick as lightning. Him calling all the time will not help the situation. He and Jack got into a fight and he turned to drinking again. Losing Jack didn’t snap him out of his drinking. I don’t know what else will but I will not sacrifice Jack’s happiness to make Hotch happy. Jack wants to forgive him. Wants to love him. Hotch needs to man up and actually change. Jack’s ten now Rossi and he’s smart. He knows that his father has an addiction and I’ve not kept my own from him. Jack went to my last NA meeting with me. He calls me Papa. Not Dad. Dad will always be Hotch and when Hotch is better and puts Jack first, we can see about visitation.”
Chapter 10-The Almost Wedding
It wasn’t a church wedding. Between the two of them, it had never been in the cards. And as much as Aaron had wanted to be married at Rossi’s, he understood Spencer wanting it somewhere else. So they booked a little piece of land that was used for weddings all the time. It had a reception hall and everything. It was six months of planning. Jack as the ring bearer and Henry as the flower boy. There had been a brief fight between the boys on who got to do which job. But in the end they agreed that since the ring bearer went to Aaron’s side and the flower boy to Spencer’s it was better to have Jack as ring bearer and Henry as flower boy. There wasn’t a lot of stress once everyone learned that Spencer was going to plan the wedding that he and Aaron wanted not the one that everyone wanted them to have.
In the end, Aaron wanted to know why he hadn’t realized it. Why he hadn’t seen it. He stood up at the alter and waited. And waited. And waited. After twenty minutes, Morgan stepped up to the door and shook his head. Spencer had never even shown up at the ceremony hall. Every single call to his phone went unanswered and at the end of the day, Aaron went home to his house with Jack and a massive broken heart. He didn’t find a note anywhere. Spencer’s part of the bathroom looked like he got ready in a hurry. Like he was going to be late to the wedding. The ring case was gone and so wasn’t his bag that was packed for the honeymoon. There was no evidence that he was pulling a runner.
“Dad, where’s Spencer?” Jack asked as he was getting ready for bed.
“I don’t…” Aaron stopped when his cell phone rang. He looked at it. It was number he didn’t recognize but the area code told him it was DC area. “Hello?”
“Is this Aaron Hotchner?” a female voice on the other end of the line asked.
“Mr. Hotchner, this is Sergeant O’Mara with the MPD. Can you-”
“Is he alive?” Aaron asked and regretted it as Jack shot up in bed.
“Mr. Hotchner, we need to have an ID done. The country coroner-”
“I’m Agent Hotchner with the FBI. Doctor Reid is an agent as well. If his body is still at sight, I’d rather do an ID there.”
“Yes Sir.” The Sergeant listed the address and Aaron didn’t even hesitate to bring Jack with him. He texted Dave and Morgan to meet him at the address but didn’t tell them why. He arrived at the same time as them. Over the embankment there he could see cops crawling all over. He handed Jack off to Dave and asked Morgan to come with him.
“Just stay, Dave. Please.”
Aaron walked to where a cop was waiting and he saw the backend of Spencer’s car. Not the Amazon which was in the garage at the house they shared but the newer car that Aaron had talked him into buying.
“We have the footage and the BOLO is out on the other driver. It was a hit and run.”
“Where?” Aaron asked and he heard the intake of breath from Morgan as he took in the scene. Aaron was silent as he lead over to where the body bag was. He wanted it to be a joke. That someone had carjacked him but the evidence bag on top of the body bag, the ring case visible in it. His knees tried to give out. Morgan grabbed him and the coroner opened the bag. The gash on the forehead was gruesome and bloody but it didn’t mask what he knew. It was Spencer. Dressed in the suit that they had picked out for him to wear.
The coroner opened the bag more and there was three inch round tree branch sticking out of his chest.
“He didn’t suffer, if it’s any consolation. Death was near instantaneous. Sergeant said you were a co-worker?”
“And fiancé. They were set to be married today,” Morgan said. Morgan’s voice was rough. “He missed their wedding and we thought he was standing Hotch up.”
It wasn’t even a drunk driver in the end. It had been a mom on her way to get her kids from her mother’s because her mother wouldn’t stop calling. She’d been on the phone while going around a turn and broadsided Spencer. Aaron hadn’t cared. He’d seen her prosecuted to the highest that she could have been. He and Jack had gone to Vegas to tell Diana and he wasn’t shocked that before he left, she’d killed herself. William Reid hadn’t even called him back when he’d called and notified him. The funeral was small, mainly filled with other agents and even a few victims that Spencer had connected with. The funeral was held weeks after the death as Aaron hadn’t been able to fully say goodbye. The cremation had happened in the normal time but the ashes has just sat on his bedside after.
Afterwards, Aaron couldn’t even spread his ashes like Spencer had wanted. He wore his own wedding band on his finger and Jack wanted to wear Spencer’s so he did on a chain around his neck.
And for the rest of Aaron’s life, he regretted that Spencer’s body had been slowly cooling after death, he’d hated him for standing him up at the alter.
Chapter 12-Eight Years Later
Aaron watched the man in the very nice suit enter the glass doors that housed the BAU. With him was a seven year old girl. Her hair was black and she was very pale skinned. The man stopped and talked to Lewis before she pointed up at his office.
“Agent Aaron Hotchner?” the man asked when he reached the office.
“Yes. How may I help you?”
“My name is Victor Marks. I’m Annabelle’s lawyer.”
“Okay.” Aaron looked to see Dave standing there at the edge. He waved the man away and stood up to shut his door. As he got closer to Annabelle, he realized it was like looking in a mirror. Her hair may have been long, curly and black but her face was all him. The eyes though. The eyes were all Reid’s. “What happened to Doctor Reid?”
“Car accident. He was in a coma for a month before finally passing in the night. His will states that Annabelle’s other father is to have a chance at custody of her.”
“I’m gonna go outside, Uncle Victor.”
“Okay, sweetie.” Marks smiled down at her and she moved to the door, opening it just enough to slip through and then closing it behind her. Aaron watched as she moved over to what was now Lewis’s desk but had been Reid’s a long time before. Lewis wasn’t there and she sat down in the chair, slouching like Reid used to when he was trying to think, the chair going left and then right and back and forth.
“If I deny her?” Aaron asked. He hadn’t ever met her. Hadn’t want to.
“Then she goes to her godmother.” Marks looked smug at that and Aaron wanted to wipe it off his face.
Aaron looked out at the girl who was sitting and staring all around the bullpen and he knew that even if he took her in, even if he came to love her, Jack wouldn’t understand and there was a real chance that Aaron would come to hate her. He never wanted to be his father but with her, he could become him. She’s been an accident. A horrible mistake that he’d made on the way back on the day he’d signed his divorce papers. A quick release of emotions that had turned into something horrible. He’d forced Reid to leave the team and to never contact him. He sent monthly checks to help with her care but that was it. She had never been a name, a face to him. She’d been a reminder of what not to do and that was it.
“Then her godmother gets her.”
Marks nodded and laid his hand on the doorknob. “I’ll send over the paperwork to rescind all rights to her as soon as I get to my office here in DC.”
“She called you Uncle?” Aaron asked.
“Yes. I have a sympathetic firm here in DC as a lot of my actual clients are not based in Vegas. The monthly check that you send…you won’t need to. Doctor Reid had a good life insurance policy and Annabelle won’t need anything for the rest of her life from you. Good day.”
Lewis, Garcia, and JJ all stepped into the bullpen from the direction of Garcia’s office. JJ stopped in her tracks.
“Auntie!” Annabelle cried out and she ran at JJ. JJ picked her up and held her close.
“Vici?” JJ asked and Marks just shook his head.
“It was the middle of the night. They couldn’t get him back. I’m sorry, JJ.”
“Why are you here? I would have thought a call…”
“The other father declined rights to Annabelle. As godmother…”
“Yes. Of course. Have you notified Derek Morgan yet?” JJ asked.
“No. He was next on my list. As Godfather…”
“Yes. Of course.” JJ turned to look at Aaron. “I’m taking the day, Hotch. Probably the rest of the week.”
“Sure,” Aaron said because his thoughts were swirling. He turned and went back into his office. JJ and Morgan were the godparents to his daughter. His…offspring. The child he just gave up. He was going to see her at team get togethers. There was no way that the team wouldn’t catch on that he was ignoring her and at get togethers, he never ignored kids. He was going to see her and she knew that she was his daughter. She knew it and so far was quiet. Would she stay that way? How did JJ and Morgan miss that she looked like him? He was backed into a corner that he didn’t like and didn’t know how to get out of with dignity intact.
“So…” Dave said as he entered his office. “Who is the kid and why is she leaving with JJ?”
“That’s Reid’s daughter.”
“And she’s leaving with JJ because?”
“Reid passed away sometime in the night. JJ is Godmother and now has custody.”
“You don’t sound upset at all. One of your team is…” Dave stopped. “Reid left the team not long after I got onto it. I never got to be close to him. Why did he leave? No one could ever give me a straight answer.”
“He left for his own reasons and shared them with who he wanted to know.”
“That’s all I am saying. I’m going to take the day. Tell everyone else that they can as well.” Aaron packed his bag, ignoring Dave as he did. He texted Jessica and asked her to keep Jack overnight. He was out of the building and into his car before he stopped and thought about what he had done. Jack had no siblings and he’d denied his son to know his half sister.
The phone call to Matteo Cruz took little time at all. He started the ball on his retirement, the same package that had been offered when Haley had died. They had caught the killers that had escaped and Jack was still having the occasional nightmare from the SWAT invasion of their home. It was a good time to leave and not muck up anything. When he finally pulled out of the parking lot that he parked in, he headed, not towards home but to JJ’s. There he found Will and Henry. He told them that he could wait for JJ to come home before discussing why he was there. Henry talked to him a little bit but even he moved onto other things after a while.
“Hotch, what are you doing here?” JJ asked when she entered the door with Annabelle.
“I made a very rash decision today. And I want to try and correct it.” Aaron looked at his daughter. She wasn’t looking at him. That hurt and he didn’t know that it could. “But only if I am allowed.”
Annabelle just stared at the wall where there was a new picture of Will, JJ, and their two kids.
“I talked to Cruz. I’m retiring. No matter the decision on if I can make up for my mistake. With the SWAT thing and Jack…I need to be home more.”
“So I was right,” JJ said.
“Belle’s father. The other one.” JJ didn’t look mad but she looked…unhappy.
“Can I stay with Aunt JJ while I get to know you?” Annabelle asked. She was tucked in at JJ’s side and she looked unsure but she was looking at him.
“Aunt JJ, can you call Uncle Victor and have him stop the paperwork?”
Annabelle didn’t rush to him as JJ left the room to make the call. Instead she moved over to a chair on the side and sat in it with her legs tucked up to her chest. It wasn’t the best start. But it was one. Aaron didn’t know if he could love her like he loved Jack but he had to try.
After six months, Annabelle decided to stay with JJ. Jack and her got along well but there just wasn’t the love their between father and daughter.
Chapter 14-The Impossible
Aaron didn’t think anything of it the first few times that Spencer came home late from the office during the hunt for the serial killers. They all worked long hours. But it wasn’t until after the first time that he was late for one of their dates that Aaron started to think that something more was going on.
Spencer had moved in with him and Jack just a year before. His apartment was kept to have a different place of residence for work but he never went there to sleep anymore. So one night after work, Aaron didn’t go home. He sat in his car and waited for Spencer to leave. The genius got into his car and it wasn’t long before he realized that Spencer was going back to the apartment.
Aaron watched the front to see anyone strange coming into the building but no one did. Spencer was sitting at his chessboard, Aaron could see that. For three hours, he could see the back of Spencer’s head as he sat there and did who knows what. Then the text came though that he was leaving work.
Driving home, Aaron wondered exactly what Spencer was doing. Why had he gone to the apartment to just sit there?
Two months it went on and Aaron would only followed him every third or fourth time to see if the nights he was following were the exception and not the rule but no. Spencer went to his apartment to just be there.
When Spencer was home, he was there. He talked with Jack, played games with him, and just existed. But there was a hesitance to his interactions with Aaron. The pause before he’d lean into him when they were watching a movie in the living room. There was a intake of breath that wasn’t excitement when Aaron wrapped his arms around him from behind in the early mornings when he was waiting for coffee to brew.
Aaron stopped following him and started to see about giving Spencer space at home. He offer up a night in their now shared office while he took Jack out. The nights away lessened and Aaron was happy about that but it wasn’t a measure that he could live with long term. So, he brought up buying a house. When they talked about it as a family, Aaron watched Spencer’s face the entire time. There was no reticence in his face at all. But when they looked for a place, Spencer always went for the places that had attics. He vetoed any that didn’t. Jack didn’t catch on but Aaron did so in the end they bought a place that had a large attic that Spencer wanted to turn into a library.
Once they were moved in, Spencer would disappear up there and lock the door. Jack didn’t notice it really as it was always just an hour or two. Time went on and Spencer brought up letting the lease on his apartment go. It was an unofficial secret that they lived together. The team knew it, hell most of the BAU did. Cruz knew and just acted like he didn’t. Spencer could weave three thousand reasons why they were living together without letting on that they were having sex.
The sex was normal. Aaron started it sometimes, Spencer the rest. Just a touch to the skin Spencer’s stomach with him standing behind would get the younger man hard. There were times that it seemed like every single touch between them was sexually charged. Weekends that Jack was with Jessica visiting the Brooks family or at some kind of weekend camp, it seemed like they never left the bed.
Then Aaron figured it out. It didn’t come like a freight train to him. He wasn’t slammed with a clue bus as Garcia would put it. It was the night after the team had a meal to celebrate them catching all of the serial killers that had escaped. Will and JJ were dancing. Dave was dancing with his now again wife, Hayden. Garcia even had Sam with her. There were looks of love on their faces and he realized that he’d never seen that look on Spencer’s face.
Spencer wasn’t in love with him.
Aaron sat down at the table as he watched Spencer and Jack dance, the boy having fun learning fancy dancing as he called it. Spencer was an awesome teacher and there was a look of fond love on his face. He loved Jack, that was never questioned but it was the same look Spencer gave him. He loved him on some level but he wasn’t in love with him. But why was he staying if he wasn’t? He watched Spencer with Jack and then Henry demanded to be taught and so Dave came over to take over Jack’s instructions while Spencer taught Henry.
When it was time to eat, Spencer sat down beside him, a kiss on his cheek and a nuzzle at the skin behind his ear. It was normal and comforting and that’s when Aaron got it. Spencer wanted to be with him. He wanted whatever comfort and normalness that would give him. He was safe and there was a good chance that Aaron would never leave him.
Aaron loved him enough to make up for what was lacking on Spencer’s side. He just hoped it was enough for the rest of their lives.
Chapter 16-The Letter
Aaron looked at the letter in his hand. He read it for the tenth time. He didn’t have an eidetic memory like Spencer but he remembered every word he’d said to the man.
“I asked for one thing, Spencer one thing and you couldn’t even do that for me.”
“It’s not just that you cheated on me, it’s that you lied. You said I would be the only one. And you went out and you had sex with someone. Unprotected.”
“Did you enjoy fucking him? Was it worth it? Was it worth losing everything?”
Aaron cringed. He hadn’t even listened to him. Spencer had tried to explain that he’d no clue how he got infected. The letter in Aaron’s hand told him. Non-risky, non-sexual contact with a carrier for the person who infected him. The jab though had come in the envelope after from Dave. A news article about the hospital in McLean being sued by the FBI for the endangerment of an agent. The article stated that the agent in question was exposed to the HIV virus and testing wasn’t done on either the agent nor the man who had also been treated whose blood had got into the agents open gunshot wound had got his blood inside.
Spencer had been infected and hadn’t known it. He’d hadn’t lied to Aaron and he hadn’t cheated but instead of believing him, he’d thrown him out of the home they had made. Cut him off from Jack. His son still hadn’t forgiven him for that.
Aaron looked at his cocktail of pills he took. He sighed and laid his head down.
“Dad?” Jack asked coming up behind him.
“How would you like to go to DC? Visit Spencer?”
Jack looked at him like he was crazy. Aaron sighed again. He had stopped allowing Jack to even talk about Spencer.
“I was mean to you and Spencer. For three years he was a father to you. Then I just ripped you away.”
“So was he telling you the truth?” Jack asked.
“Yes. He was. He wasn’t lying at all and now…I’ve robbed you and him of a relationship. I was thinking that I’d fly with you to DC and then you could visit Spencer. I would stay at a hotel.”
“How are you sure that Spencer is still there?”
“Because the team was a few towns over and he was on the news. Called him Unit Chief on the news.”
“The team is in office this week, according to the note that Dave sent with the news article about what happened.”
Jack just stared at him for a few seconds before he nodded.
“Go pack and we will head out as soon as possible.”
Aaron’s job could be done from anywhere that had an Internet connection. He worked from home to have more time with Jack.
Spencer heard the doorbell ring. He looked out the window and saw a car in park but running outside his house. He couldn’t see the driver but it was a rental.
Opening the door, Spencer looked in shock at Jack Hotchner. Before he could say a thing, Jack was hugging him. Spencer looked up to see Aaron in the driver’s seat of the car.
“Can I stay the week?” Jack asked.
Jack waved a negligent hand at his dad and Aaron drove off.
“Why are you here?”
“Dad knows you weren’t lying. He got a letter from the CDC and he knows. Uncle Dave sent a newspaper article and Dad asked if I wanted to visit. I’ve missed you.”
“Oh Jack, I’ve missed you too.”
Chapter 18-The Prodigy
As Spencer looked at the man looking at him, he thought back on what had got him where he was. He had two choice and neither were good. Neither one of them could save him from what was going to happen.
It had all started in the aftermath of the serial killers escaping and Aaron’s loyalty to his job and his country being called into question. He had gone back to work and tried to do his job but those above still looked at him too hard and for too long and no person could function under that. It had done the job that Peter Lewis had wanted. Aaron hadn’t broke under his hands and his drugs so he tore the world down around him. What Lewis hadn’t counted on was the fact that did live for his job but he lived for Jack and Spencer, too. So after a case gone wrong for no other reason than pure bad luck, Aaron had stepped away from the BAU. A squabble about the team had erupted in the aftermath, many wanted them split up to where the damage could be minimized. Rossi stayed in the BAU, taking on a new team. Garcia was still with him. JJ was pushed to a job on another team inside the BAU. Lewis stepped back. And Spencer, Spencer had been shipped off to white collar crimes.
Until a serial killer took the lives of thirteen women in Texas, then a child molester was able to escape the team sent after him and set up residence in a new town and only Rossi not letting it go found him. Another case in Maine had an injustice collector blowing up a police station when the team that was there to catch him couldn’t get a handle on what he was. It was case after case after case of bad endings and finally, the Director of the FBI stepped in. The whole department was revamped and in the aftermath, Rossi was the Section Chief, taking over for Cruz who was bumped up higher, where he could protect the BAU more.
That left Spencer, JJ, Lewis, and Garcia. Rossi the asshole had only put forth a single name for the Unit Chief of the main unit in the BAU. Aaron had laughed for two hours when the Director of the FBI had stopped by their at the time combined house to ask him to lead it. Spencer hadn’t been able to turn it down. After he got over the shock, he knew who he wanted to try and talk back into the unit. Callahan hadn’t been hard. Her baby well old enough for her to let her go to take days away from her. Luke Alvez had been a little harder but after his help catching the fugitives, Spencer liked him. For a while they worked a man down as the people to fill that spot rotated in and out, unable to handle the BAU.
The next shock had been when Spencer had got home from a two week case during the summer after being unit chief for six months. Jack was at a soccer camp and Aaron was supposed to have be there to greet him when he got home. Instead, he was laying on the bed where he’d just never woke up that morning. Cause of death was declared a heart attack. Spencer’s world had been rocked too hard. Spencer had drove himself to get Jack from the camp and when the boy had seen him without his father right there, he’d lost it on the field. He didn’t talk for weeks.
But time moved on. Jack adjusted to a life without his father. He adjusted to a life with just Spencer and his Aunt. High school came and went. College came and went. Medical school came and Spencer had celebrated extra hard when Jack had finished it in the least amount of time needed with the top score in the country.
Residency had been hard as Jack had gone to John’s Hopkins for it. Video chatting just wasn’t enough.
Three years into Jack taking his place in the cardiac unit at the top DC hospital, the BAU was put onto a case of deaths at the hospital. A nurse had been found to be an Angel of Mercy there. Spencer had never been happy about it but she had confessed and knew details that had been kept from the papers.
It wasn’t until the MPD was called in because the clinic and hospitals in the area showed a very marked rise in the death of drug seekers that it was found out that DC and the areas around had another Angel of Mercy. The case made headlines and Spencer’s team was pulled off all other cases by Rossi’s replacement until the UnSub was caught.
Two months of searching and the team agreed that whoever the UnSub was the best mind they had ever come across. The team was tasked back to other cases but they all still searched. In every spare moment. The dining room table was filled with the files from the time that Spencer got home to the moment he went to work next. Then one morning the signature hit him. He was sitting and reading a book that had just been published about physics. The signature of the killer wasn’t left on the crime scenes. It was hidden farther back. Every single victim had lost a parental figure at the age of four. The methodology needed to find all of that and still have no connection to the victims was exhaustive.
Before Spencer had got dressed for work, he had a profile in his mind for Garcia to search and notes on a pad that he needed to take with him. He was walking out of his bedroom when he paused. His hand was in his pants and pressed the button that would connect him to his first emergency contact. His phone vibrated when the call connected.
“I wondered how long it would take,” the shadow at the edge of the hall had said. “You were the only one that would be able to figure out the once piece of information that was needed to figure out that it was me.”
A hand moved and Spencer saw what was in it. A syringe.
“You have two options. You kill yourself with an overdose or you put me in jail. No one but you will ever figure it out. Those are your only options because I won’t stop Papa. I am never going to stop. Until they are all dead.”
Spencer didn’t know what to say to that. Because Jack was right. He’d never stop. Spencer knew what he had to do. He knew.
“Who was your first?”
“Dad. It was easy. You had enough access to everything I needed to learn how to kill him and make it an accident. The stress of the job, the drinking that he did. It was easy.”
“Why not me?”
“I had planned on it. After your mother died. But it was too close to the birth of Serena. Your perfect Goddaughter. No one would have believed it. It wasn’t time but now…The team is all replaced. I’m off working and you are all alone. It just got to be too much. And everyone knows about your former love affair with Dilaudid. No one would be shocked.”
Spencer stared at the man he called his son, loved as his son, and tried to figure out exactly where he and Aaron had gone wrong. Jack was right. He’d never stop because after growing up at the knee of the entire BAU. He held his hand out and Jack handed the needle over. Next came a tourniquet. There was only a single thing that Jack had overlooked. And that was that he didn’t just carry a gun on his hip anymore.
Shifting like he was going to wrap the tourniquet around his arm, Spencer grabbed his gun from his back and pulled it.
Aiming it at his son. The front door crashing in came next as well as Morgan and JJ storming in with guns drawn. They all lived on the same block, with kids around the same age for the two of them and Spencer wanting to be close to his godchildren.
“Spence?” JJ asked.
“Looks like you win, again, Papa. But do you really?”
“He’s the Angel, Jayje. I…” Spencer dropped the needle and backed up, letting JJ and Morgan get closer to Jack. He moved to get his cuffs from his bag and then cuffed his son. As the metal clicking sounded, Spencer’s heart broke.
Chapter 20-In Sickness & Health
Aaron was dreading going to work. He didn’t want to face the team. He’d been gone for a month and in that month his whole life had changed. The best change the team didn’t know about. The worst they did. But the worst change to his life wasn’t the worst to the team. Cruz had told them a week ago that Spencer wasn’t coming back to the team. He’d taken a leave of absence to cover his last two weeks and Aaron had already called Callahan to take his spot on the team for at least temporary if she found she couldn’t be away from her child.
“Hotch,” Morgan said as the doors opened onto the hall outside the bullpen. Aaron wasn’t shocked to see him there. He also wasn’t shocked to see the bullpen empty. He assumed the others were waiting in the round table room. “We have to talk.”
“Yes we do. Is Callahan here?” Aaron had asked Spencer to join them later. Spencer said he would. The smirk on his face though still had Aaron worried.
“She’s in the room.”
“Good. Because I am only going over this once.”
Aaron moved past Morgan and sighed as he entered the room. Lewis, Garcia, and Dave all started in. He ignores them as he moved to JJ and hugged her. He hadn’t seen her in a week and knew that Michael was giving her and Will fits with his bouts of being sick. Hence Henry staying with Aaron.
JJ hugged him back tightly. When she pulled back she squeezed his hand, pressing the new ring onto his finger.
That drew the attention of the entire room.
Dave’s voice was the loudest. “You got married?”
“I did a week ago.”
“Look, not that I am not happy about it, Hotch. I am but I want to know why Reid left. With no warning.” Morgan was visibly upset. Aaron wanted to take the brunt of that. So far he and Spencer had been ignoring the team. Hell they were not living in the old apartment and only JJ knew about the house. It wasn’t that they didn’t want them to know. They didn’t want to deal with them.
“Because it was the lesser of two dislikes. The bigger in his eyes was me leaving.”
“Why does one have to do with the other?” Lewis asked.
“You all know that I took the past month off to deal with health issues with Jack. I know that I have been vague with what is wrong with him but we have been trying to deal with the issues and figure out a game plan. Jack started to have seizures months ago. He’s been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. He’s not as responsive to medication as the doctor would like and surgery is on the table. So Spencer and I discussed many options and while I would have gladly given up my job to be the one to sit at home with Jack and care for him and teach him as his seizures are bad enough that he needs home schooled, Spencer can do so better.”
“Why would he even do that?” Garcia asked.
Aaron didn’t answer as he saw that Spencer had arrived with Jack and Henry in tow. The two boys went right to Aaron’s office while Spencer just stayed where he was.
“Because he had been dating for the past two years. We chose to keep it a secret and that choice would have stood until this happened. As of two weeks ago, Spencer and I wed. He’s already adopted Jack as well. He’ll work from home as many engineering firms have already started to circle. Boeing is wooing him nicely. I was calling Cruz when he came up with the alternate plan but it’s not forever. Within the year I’ll be taking over as Section Chief. Cruz has already talked of being offered a higher position but wasn’t going to take it since it would leave the unit without a stable Section Chief. At that point in time, a new Unit Chief will take over.”
“Emily,” Spencer said from the doorway. The team turned as one. Callahan was up and hugged him. Spencer actually returned the hug with vigor. “Aaron was going to take the brunt of it all but I couldn’t let him. I made the choice to leave and I would make it again and again and again. Aaron can’t sit still and even with taking care of Jack and teaching him, he’d grown stagnant. I can work from anywhere with all of my things and with mom getting worse. I like the thought of dropping everything and taking Jack with me to visit her. I don’t care that some of you are angry. It’s my life and it’s my choice. If Jack gets better and is able to go back to school, I am sure that I’ll be allowed to come back. You can have your opinions but I don’t wish to hear them. The only opinion that matters is Aaron’s.”
“Reid,” Morgan said as he stepped closer to the younger man but a cry from Henry had Spencer running around the room and towards Aaron’s office. Aaron stayed where he was because if it was a seizure, Aaron didn’t want to break down. He took a few deep breaths before he made his way towards his office. Henry was there at the door and as soon as he saw Aaron he stepped inside. There was little that could be done other than making sure that Jack didn’t hurt himself.
Aaron loved his son but it was hard to see him like that. Spencer though took it in stride. When Jack had been playing soccer in the park with Henry for the first one. Spencer had been calm and collected while Aaron had been freaking out inside. Aaron knew that Spencer had been trained for things like this, with his mother. Taking it all in stride, he’d just crouched at Jack’s side and made sure he didn’t hurt himself. Then as Jack had come back to him, he’d sat there, brushing the fringe of his hair back and talking softly to him. It had been hard, going on visits to doctor after doctor. Listening to whoever they were with talking in words that Aaron didn’t understand but Spencer did who then explained it to him and to Jack.
JJ stepped up behind Henry who was there with a baggie of wipes and as soon as Spencer waved him over, the boy ran to his friend and started to wipe his face. Jack smiled at Henry. Spencer lifted Jack up and carried him to the couch where Henry sat down first and Spencer laid Jack down with his head on Henry’s thigh. Aaron found Jack’s backpack and pulled out the book and handed it over to Henry. Henry started to read as soon as he opened the door and JJ ushered the rest of the team out of the room, Aaron followed leaving Jack and Henry with Spencer.
“I think that Spencer knows his mind. He wants this and I won’t tell him no. I won’t take that choice away from him. Even if I were to quit, he’d not come back. Morgan, you need to accept that. He loves Jack as if he was his own son. I’ve caught him at night, crying while doing research because he can’t find anything to help him more than what the doctor’s are already doing. Let him make his own choice about what he wants in life.”
Morgan sighed and turned away. He stopped at the glass door to the bullpen and looked back. He stared at Aaron and Aaron knew that Morgan was still mad with anger. He wasn’t listening even to Spencer. He wondered how Morgan had got such a bad idea of him, that he thought that Aaron would even try and force Spencer into quitting his job. Spencer was going to be earning a lot more at his new job, whatever it was. He had long stayed with the BAU because he liked the job. Because he wanted to be there. Now he had someone else to take care of and soon Aaron would be able to work from home more as well. They were doing what was needed and Morgan’s opinion of it didn’t matter.
Aaron looked back at Spencer through the window in his office. Spencer was sitting on the floor while Henry read.
“So wanna take a bet on how long until Henry asks to be taught by Spence as well?” JJ asked.
Aaron wanted to laugh. He did but all he could see was his son, on the floor jerking. It was what he saw every single time that he closed his eyes. It woke him in the night, gripping his heart with fear. If having Henry there with Jack made him happy, Aaron would pay for him to have what he needed to be taught at home with Jack. It was a small pittance.
Chapter 22-The Ability To Rely
Spencer grunted as he was loaded into the ambulance. He looked at his phone and sighed.
“I need to text my boss and tell him that I’m going to indisposed. After that I’m going to shut it off and hand it over to you to put with the rest of my personal effects.”
“Sure.” The first medic smile at him.
Spencer typed out the text that he didn’t want to send but that would be the best to send.
Hotch, I’m going to be indisposed for a while. I’m sorry that I’ll not be there to help with the case but I’ll be back as soon as I can. I’ll take whatever anger you have at me but this can’t be helped.
After making sure that the message was sent, he stared at the screen. The little check mark that appeared next to the text popped up meaning that Hotch was reading it. Spencer shut his phone down then. He handed it to the second medic and sighed, relaxing back. He’d already handed over his credentials and his gun. They were safely in a box on the side of the back bay of the ambulance.
“What happened?” the first asked.
“Several months ago I was shot by a suspect in a case. I’m just recently fully off a cane and am still doing physical therapy.”
“Why were you in a ditch?”
“My co-worker decided that his shoes were more important than my knee. So I went into the ditch and when I needed help out, he walked away. I moved down the ditch to try and find a better way out and when I didn’t find a really good one, I took the best I had found. It was a mile away from where I had gone in. Halfway up the side, I wrenched my knee wrong and I called 911.”
“And not your co-worker?” the second medic asked.
“He’s not a doctor. There was nothing that he could do for me. I’m sure by now he’s worried. I don’t even know if he saw me walking away. Last I saw him, he was on his cell phone.”
“Do you want us to call anyone?”
“I have the information needed on my knee and I can give it to the doctor. If he or she wants scans of what my knee looked like two weeks ago, I have all the information needed to talk to my doctor.”
“Then I think we are good to go. We are about five minutes from the hospital. You said no narcotics?”
“I was taken by a suspect a few years back and was given regular doses of Dilaudid. I developed an addiction to it.”
“Then we will make sure that you aren’t given any. Not many could admit that,” the second medic said.
“When I was in for my knee, my doctor kind of forced it out of me.”
“Our doctors will take care of you, Agent Reid. Don’t worry.”
Aaron looked at his phone and read the text from Reid. His eyebrows shot up and he hit the call icon on the screen. The call went right to voicemail.
“Garcia?” Aaron asked as soon as the woman answered the phone. “I need a track on Reid’s last cell location.”
“Umm…right away Sir.” Aaron could hear typing on the other end of the phone. “His phone is off but his last ping is the dump site that he went to with Rossi.”
“Thank you.” Aaron hung up and called Dave next. “Dave, where is Reid?”
“He’s canvassing a greater area around the dump site. Trying to figure out some more information.”
“It’s a ditch, Dave.”
Aaron hung up in disgust. He didn’t need this. He really didn’t need it at all. He debated looking for what information he needed on his phone but thought better of it. He looked and saw a very young officer in the bullpen of the station. He made his way over to him.
“Sir?” The officer stood up quickly.
“Follow me.” Aaron walked into the conference room that they were using and shut the door. “This dump site here, what is the closest hospital?”
“I need you to do me a very big favor. I think that one of my team was hurt and is going there. I will clear this with the chief but I don’t want attention brought to the fact that he might be hurt. I need you to check on the fact and report back to me. Before you go, I’m going to give you the spare card to his room. In his go bag is a brace. Please don’t look through anything. Just get the brace and take it with you.”
“Sir.” The officer left and Aaron moved to the chief to talk to him. The man was thankfully understanding, especially when Aaron told him how he got the injury and that a freak accident on the dump site hurt him more. He even offered the officer to Aaron with no stipulation on what he wasn’t allowed to do. Including taking files and things to the hospital.
Settling in at the table, with a file open in front of him of the case, he texted Dave and told him that an officer was going to pick up Reid when he was done with his canvass and that Aaron needed him back at the station.
When Dave entered the station half an hour later, he didn’t even act like anything was wrong. Aaron looked at his shoes and knew exactly why Dave hadn’t gone down into the ditch.
The day moved on and the officer called and gave Aaron updates but that Reid had made sure that little was being allowed to be released about him. The officer had only been able to wheedle a little information from a nurse because he flirted with her. He knew that Reid had several scans done and was in a room and not the ER.
No one on the team questioned why Reid wasn’t there until after dinner. Aaron just said that he was working on some trucker leads.
Finally, at eleven thirty that night, Aaron received a text from Reid.
I’m off the case, Hotch. I know that you sent the officer with my brace to the hospital but he can go home now. That brace won’t do me any good. I did ask the officer to go back to the room and clean up all of my things. I’ll be catching the first flight home to see my doctor and surgery will proceed after that. The exact extent of the damage will not be known until my knee is opened up again. As soon as I know anything you will be the first to know.
Take care of you and when you get to DC, contact Jack Garrett. He has some cases that might keep you interested and you can do some long distance consulting with him if you want.
Aaron let it all stew in his head as they drove to the hotel to get some sleep. He found that the maid service was cleaning Reid’s room. So the officer had been and gone with his things. Aaron went right into his room and texted Garrett. He had no clue where the IRT was at the moment and he hoped they were on a case so that Reid could help them. He texted Strauss after that made sure that she knew that Reid was coming home and would be going back onto medical leave due to a case related injury to his already injured knee.
By the time that Aaron woke up the next day he had several texts from Strauss and from Garrett on his phone. He’d had his phone on silent and only calls from the team would sound. Strauss had made sure that Reid was given a damned good room in the hospital as well as starting a reprimand for Dave. Aaron had his own guilt as he’d made light of Spencer’s injury when he’d made the man stay behind because he technically wasn’t cleared to fly. Aaron had done it before and he’d not wanted Reid to hurt himself like he almost had done. He’d apologized as soon as they had got back from the case and made sure that Reid knew that he hadn’t meant to call him out like that.
Aaron wasn’t shocked that Garrett was jumping at the chance at the genius. Aaron knew how many transfer requests that Reid got a year. Other sections that courted him and tried to woo him over. Aaron knew that Spencer hadn’t wanted to leave the team but he also thought that maybe a new team would be a good thing for Reid. The best thing for him.
Strauss would handle Dave because Aaron wasn’t sure exactly what he would do if he was the one to do it. He’d probably put him off the team. Make him go to one of the other teams. That would be a blow to his ego that would probably make him hurt for a while. Dave knew that Reid would do it. Because he respected authority. Reid did what was best for the victims more than he did what was best for himself.
His phone vibrated in his hand.
Do you want me off the team?
I want you where you won’t be hurt anymore by the people you should rely on.
Garrett and I talked last night. I’m intrigued.
Take it. You will always have a spot on this team, no matter what.
Then I will tell Garrett yes.
Five cases. After five cases with the IRT and we can discuss what we discussed in the hospital while you were recovering from Anthrax.
Five cases. But we can talk in the meantime right?
Aaron smiled as he got up out of bed. Whatever recovery Reid went through and then five cases then he’d see about that date.
What about if I can’t be a field agent anymore?
Then we can talk as soon as you are settled into whatever job you choose.
Okay. Get to work. If I think of anything, I’ll text.
You worry about you and I’ll worry about the case.
Even in texts, I know what you are not saying, Hotch. No one asked about me yesterday did they?
No. I didn’t really give them a chance. They were told you were doing things for me.
JJ and Morgan texted me. I told them to talk to you. I don’t care what you tell them. I told Garrett that pending the result of my surgery, I am accepting his offer to join his team.
I’ll tell the team today that as well as the fact that you are home and awaiting surgery. I’ve got to get ready. I’ll text you later, Spencer.
Talk to you later, Aaron.
Chapter 24-Battered and Bruised
Spencer entered the bullpen with his head held high. He wasn’t going to feel ashamed at all, even if the pain he was in made him want to double over. He knew that it wouldn’t be long before someone saw him but for the moment, the bullpen was empty. He sat down at his desk and started to work. DC was a city that never slept and having a friend as a detective was good at getting a TRO signed quickly. He just had to wait for Cruz to get in and get his desk empty. By the time that Rossi finally made it in, Spencer had all of his files done and already in Hotch’s office.
“Doctor Reid?” Cruz asked as he entered the bullpen. Spencer turned around to greet him. The look of horror on the man’s face when he took in Spencer’s was…nothing if not alarming. “What happened to you?”
“I’d prefer to speak alone in your office, Sir,” Spencer said, half clenching his jaw as it hurt to open it.
“Reid?” Rossi called out but Spencer didn’t turn to look at him, instead he started to move towards Cruz’s office.
“I’ll handle this, Agent Rossi,” Cruz called out as he started to follow behind Spencer. The trek to the office just a hallway away was silent. Spencer went right past the secretary and listened as Cruz told him to hold all of his calls. Cruz offered the chair on the other side of his desk but instead Spencer went over to the chair that was in the corner. It was soft and fluffy and his body needed that, not the hard chair that Cruz offered him. As he sat down, Spencer watched Cruz’s face. Spencer knew that he looked like an old man but his broken ribs and bruised stomach wouldn’t allow him to move any other way.
“Obviously you are not going on field work for a while.”
“No, I am not. I have three broken ribs and five cracked ones, my stomach is heavily bruised and I’m doing daily blood tests to make sure no organs are shutting down. My cheekbone is fractured. I was driven to the ER and checked in at nineteen thirty eight and released at oh four thirty five. I was dropped off here and when I call I will be picked up. I cleared my desk of all outstanding work.”
“You didn’t have to come in, Reid. Agents Lewis or Jareau could have done the work.”
“I was picked up from my partner’s house by…” Spencer tried to figure out a way to say what she was without saying what she was because as soon as he said it, Cruz would know but there was no stopping it. Cruz had to be notified about the TRO. “This is the second time that my partner has raised his fists to me. He promised to get help after the first one and it seems he hasn’t found the time. So Detective LaMontagne walked a TRO through night court. I am out for at least two weeks on doctor’s order but I wanted to clear my desk in case this does not go in my favor.”
“How can this not go in your favor?”
“I was dropped off here by my partner’s dead ex-wife’s sister. Who as of this morning was made my partner’s son’s temporary guardian.”
“Whatever you need to keep him away, Doctor Reid we will do.”
“Oh, he’s in jail. Will picked him up and has him in jail. I’m sure that sometime this morning Rossi will be getting the call to bail Hotch out.”
Cruz was stunned speechless. He just stared at Spencer as the words seemed to trickle into his brain one letter at a time.
“And you intend to take it all the way to court?”
“I do. I don’t care about my career at this point. I only care about my safety and Jack’s.”
“That busted lip four weeks ago…that was Aaron?”
“It was and as I told Rossi, I was handling it just seems that everything in my power to stay in the relationship is not enough.”
“Son, you can’t go in there!” the secretary yelled and then Cruz’s door was slammed open and Spencer turned to see Jack running at him. Jack stopped just in front of the chair and just looked at Spencer. Cruz waved the secretary away and he left. Jack’s hand reached out and touched the few stitches on the side of Spencer’s face. Jack turned to look at Cruz and that was when the man saw the bruise on the side of Jack’s face as well.
“That is not done by Hotch’s hand, in a direct way that is. Jack grabbed Hotch’s hand to stop him from slapping me again and he threw him back and his face cracked off the coffee table. He was checked out.” Spencer looked to see Jessica, along with Will and JJ right behind her. “Jack, please. I need you to stay with your aunt.”
“I heard Aunt Jessica, Dad was released on bail, his lawyer got him out.”
“The restraining order means that he won’t come here. And even if he does, the guards at the door have it and know that while you and I are in here, he’s not allowed. He’s not going to come here and hurt me.” Spencer leaned over carefully and kissed Jack’s forehead. When he pulled back he pushed Jack towards the door and the boy thankfully left. “If Jack hadn’t been injured I don’t know what would have happened. It seemed to snap him out of his rage.”
Spencer cocked an eyebrow.
“I don’t mean that you did anything to…That came out totally wrong.”
“I fell asleep before he got home and had trouble staying awake after that. He was upset about something else from work and he just…I haven’t seen him like this before. The last time we were arguing about something that Jack had done and I punished him for it. Hotch thought it wasn’t enough and when I pointed out that it was an escalation from the last time that Jack had done it, Hotch told me that Jack was his son to do as he saw fit with. When I told him that it was fine and moved to leave the house. When I didn’t come back when he demanded that I do so, he ran after me and grabbed my arm. He spun me around and when I told him to let me go or else, he backhanded me so hard that he split my lip. He recognized what did as soon as he did it and was perfectly guilt ridden. He started to see someone about it and then anger issues but obviously it’s not helping and/or making it worse. So I chose to end it. When Will delivered the TRO to the station where Hotch is being held, he delivered a note handwritten by me that states this all to him.”
“We don’t need this, Doctor Reid. The BAU is under a lot of spotlight with the serial killers on the loose but I know that it is not something that you can help. If Hotch is let go, are you willing to stay in the unit?”
“I am. But I am also more than willing to move to the New York unit.”
“Away from Jack?”
“Jessica has been offered a job in New York, she was going to turn it down but this has given her pause.”
“I’d prefer to keep you here. Give me the week, I’ll come to you in a week. Where will you be staying?”
“At my apartment. At the current, Derek is putting in an alarm system and changing the locks and upgrading them on my door. The building security has been warned about the TRO.”
“Do you want it to stay as a temporary or make it full time?”
“I guess it all depends on what he does.”
“Keep me informed, Doctor Reid. For the moment since Morgan hasn’t been replaced on the team as of yet and that makes it three members down, I’ll keep the team on stand down. I expect that Agent Jareau knows since her husband was…”
“The first cop to arrive at the hospital to talk to me. At this point only Lewis doesn’t know and possibly Rossi. I figured that Hotch would have called him to get him out so either Rossi decided not to or Hotch didn’t even try and call his friend.”
“I’ll visit Agent Hotchner at home. I think that it might be time to dust off the retirement package that Erin Strauss offered him.”
“I’ll be taking him to court. I don’t know what kind of sentence he’ll get but at this point I figure it’s the only thing that is going to wake him up fully, besides what Jessica will be doing.”
“Whatever help the FBI can be just let me know.” Cruz moved closer and held out an arm, being steady help to Spencer getting up out of the chair. “And may I suggest letting Morgan know that it would look bad on your case for Agent Hotchner to be hurt in anyway.”
“He knows and he’ll stay away. Don’t worry Sir.”
“Keep me informed of your healing, take the time that you need.”
Spencer allowed Jack to settle in at his side, trying to be helpful, as soon as he exited the main part of Cruz’s office. JJ and Will walked with them silent. Rossi and Lewis were right there in the still empty bullpen. Rossi looked him up and down and shook his head.
“I’ll be off for at least two weeks, Cruz is going to have the team on stand down.”
“Why are you here, Reid?” Lewis asked.
“I’ve never felt more ashamed,” Rossi said as he stepped forward. “What did Cruz decide?”
“He’d rather keep me. I’m sure he’ll tell you the particulars.”
“Will, make sure that Morgan doesn’t kill him.”
Will nodded at Rossi and Spencer started to move again. He needed to not be standing. He was getting tired and he needed to just get somewhere that he felt safe.
“What do you mean Morgan will kill him? Who? Who did that to Reid?” Lewis asked Rossi as Spencer made it to the doors.
“Spencer’s I am assuming now ex-boyfriend did that. And given that Cruz wants Spencer here. Our ex-unit chief.”
“Hotch?” Lewis sounded shocked.
It was always the ones that were least expected.
Chapter 26-You Can’t Break Me, I Won’t Allow It
There was something to packing up a life that he wasn’t going to have. He hadn’t even realized how much he had wanted it until it wasn’t there anymore. He also hadn’t realized how much stuff of his was at Aaron’s until he was packing it up. A near year long relationship, that had really started before that but a year before was when they had kissed for the first time. They were three weeks shy of one year. Three weeks shy of it becoming the longest relationship that Spencer ever had. His last long term relationship had made it to three weeks before a year too.
Aaron was in the backyard and Spencer could see him pacing. There wasn’t anything that Spencer could do to make him less upset. Aaron’s heart might have been breaking but Spencer’s was shattered.
All of the clothes fit into two go bags and those were sitting on the end of the bed. The rest of the things, Aaron had been bringing up to the bedroom over the past week. Spencer had already done his walk through and found a few things that Aaron had missed and put back a few things that yes he had bought but he didn’t want to take home.
Spencer took the first load down to his car. Walking back to the house, his heart felt like it was going to break into a million pieces. It was the last time. He had never been to Aaron’s place before this had all started and he didn’t see a reason that he ever would go back. He unlocked the door with the key that Aaron had given him and laid it down on the table just inside the door. He went back to the bedroom and slung the last bag over his shoulder and picked up the box. It had been petty of him but he’d removed all the pictures that Aaron wanted him to have. He didn’t need them to remind him of what he’d lost. He’d left them sitting on the bed, right beside the last picture that Jack had drawn him. He didn’t need it and he didn’t want it.
Jack was in his bedroom where he’d been since Spencer had got there. He thought about knocking and telling him that he was leaving but decided against it. He locked the door and made sure that it was shut before he walked to the car and slipped the last things in the back.
Spencer had promised Aaron that he would tell him before he left. He walked around the side of the house and opened the gate. He stepped into Aaron’s POV and waited for the man to see him. Aaron stepped up to him with a frown on his face.
“I’ve got my things in the car. I’m just going to go. Jack’s still in his room.”
“Everything has already been said. There is no point in dragging it out. It is what it is. I’ll see you at work on Monday.” Spencer turned to move away but stopped when he felt the hand on his shoulder. He didn’t turn around though. He didn’t want tos ee what look was on Aaron’s face. He needed to leave. He needed to feel safe and that wasn’t here.
“Don’t make me into the bad guy, Aaron. Don’t make me say words just to hurt you to get you to let me go.”
The hand left his shoulder and Spencer walked away. He walked away from the place that Aaron had bought for them. Where he’d wanted to see them all live happy together. That it seemed wasn’t in the cards.
Two Years Later
Aaron didn’t know what to say but still he showed up at Spencer’s apartment door. The basket told him that Garcia had been there.
“Reid?” Aaron called out after he knocked. There was no sound inside the apartment. Garcia had been unable to get anything from him. Morgan had been unable. There had been nothing from him after he had left the scene of Maeve’s murder. Aaron had told him to take his time but no hearing anything from Spencer was worrying.
Aaron knocked again, harder this time and long enough and loud enough that he was sure the neighbor would call the cops. Still nothing from Spencer.
“Reid, I just want to know that you are alive. That’s all. You don’t have to speak. Just give me a sign of life.” Aaron had his briefcase with him and he’d told Jack that he’d give Spencer the drawing but he wasn’t sure that it was a good idea. But he didn’t want to lie to his son. He didn’t know what to do.
There was still no sign of life from Spencer. Aaron reached out and tried the doorknob. The door opened up but stopped when the chain hit it’s max.
Still there was no noise.
“Please, Spencer just give me anything.” Aaron leaned on the door and just breathed.
The door was shut quickly and hard. Aaron jerked back and heard the deadbolt slamming home. He’d got the sign of life that he wanted but he found that he couldn’t leave. Not yet.
“Thank you. I’m glad to know that you are alive.” Aaron swallowed and made up his mind. He reached down and freed the drawing from his briefcase. “Jack heard me talking to Dave and he drew something for you. I’m going to slide it under the door.”
Aaron crouched and did as he said. It stayed there, halfway under the door and halfway still in the hall. After a few minutes, the drawing slid under the door for a few seconds and then was shoved back. Aaron held the hurt inside and didn’t lash out. He knew what it meant and he knew that even now it all hurt.
“I’ll be there if you need me. Reach out at any time. I mean it. I will be your rock if you need it.” Aaron stood up and sighed as he did. If he’d stayed stronger, figured out what to do sooner, this never would have happened. Maeve would have been just a friend and Spencer wouldn’t have cared enough to reach out like that. Aaron had ruined his one chance at true happiness.
Three Years Later
In the aftermath of it all, Spencer didn’t care much about the serial killers on the loose. The team would catch them, they always did. He cared about Peter Lewis being free and able to hurt Hotch again. Still after the call, the team had gone back out to spend time with the family. Dinner had been finished a while before and everyone was scattered again.
Spencer was by himself at the back of the property. He hadn’t felt like entertaining Jack and Henry again so he’d slipped off. He had a glass of wine in his hand and has been sipping it so long that it was very warm. He heard footsteps coming around the bush that hid him from most of the eyes farther up in the yard.
“There you are, Reid. Garcia was a little worried when she didn’t see you,” Hotch said as he came into full view.
“You can tell her I just needed a little silence.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m as good as I can ever be.” Spencer looked up at Hotch and saw the pain there on his face. Spencer snorted as he took a drink of his wine. “Go back to the celebration, Hotch.”
“We’ve not talked in awhile.”
“No, we haven’t. We haven’t really talked in five years, two months, a week, a day, and about five hours. I think that everything that needed said was said then.” Spencer looked out into the foliage around the property that he could see. He could hear the squeals of the kids as they played and even little Michael was giggling.
“You don’t get to call me that anymore, Hotch.” Spencer put emphasis on the nickname.
“I wasn’t aware that you still resented me and him over that.”
“I don’t. I don’t think about it at all. It’s easy to count the time after an event. That’s all it is.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“I know you didn’t. That didn’t make it hurt less at the time.”
“Don’t. Just don’t. You gave the reasons then and the whys and did what the psychologist suggested. There is no way to change the past and I don’t want to drag it up.”
“Then why are you sitting here? All alone?”
“Because I was hoping that I’d get a few minutes to get my head on after I just got a call from Bennington about mom. But you didn’t ask about that. You assumed that I was upset because of you and Jack. The loss of that. I got over that a very long time ago. I pushed it all down and hid it away because anything else would have broken me more than Hankel ever did.”
“I didn’t ever want to do that.”
“I know that. I know that Jack didn’t understand it either. He was just a child and couldn’t help how he felt. But there was a reason that I left every single piece of that life behind, Hotch. The only family that I have that I can depend on is me. I didn’t want a reminder every single day of the family that I lost.”
“I’ll send JJ over in a little bit if you are still over here.” Hotch walked away and Spencer was glad. He’d need the time to get everything back where it belonged.
He’d never blamed Jack for what happened. The boy had lost his mother and was scared of losing his father as well and having someone new in the picture, someone that was taking some of his father’s time had caused his nightmares to come back. There was no way that Spencer would have ever made Hotch pick him over his son. The only hurt was that instead of just backing off, Hotch had just ended it. It went from having a family, a son that he was loving more and more each day and a man that he loved so much that it had made his heart burst thinking of him to being on the outside and watching as Jack was healed more and more without him there. To watching Hotch move on with Beth. That had hurt because Hotch hadn’t even had the decency to even give him a heads up. He’d just heard Rossi waxing over the woman and trying to get the team to push Hotch into asking her out. Rossi had even talked to them all about watching Jack so that Hotch could go on dates.
Everyone on the team had done that, except for Spencer. He hadn’t offered and when confronted with Rossi he’d told him that Jack wouldn’t have fun with him and that it was better to just not do that. Hotch never offered and as far as Jack went, today was the first time that he’d been close to the boy since he’d been pushed out of the little family they had been. He didn’t hate the lie that he told Hotch. He just hadn’t expected the emotions to come back when he’d been doing the magic for Henry and Jack.
“Your Godson wants you,” JJ said as she came around the bush and handed over Michael with little fuss. Setting the diaper bag down and laying the cloth over his shoulder as Michael settled in there with a smile on his sleepy face. “Feel free to use this to get over the mood. He needs to sleep and it’s quiet here.”
JJ left with a kiss to his cheek and Spencer smiled at her. She’d never asked the name of the person who he had lost just after she had left the team. Sometimes, Spencer thought that she knew but she’d never pressed. It’s why he’d put all of his anger onto her in the aftermath of Prentiss’s faked death. He couldn’t even feel angst at Hotch anymore.
“I love you so much Michael,” Spencer whispered as he closed his eyes, rocking his Godson.
Chapter 28-Mortis Memoria
Spencer didn’t like lying. He really didn’t but no one on the team understood. So every time that the team got leave, Spencer packed up and went to Vegas. It was good on his bank account as there was little for him to do there but play the casinos. He’d come home even worse mentally than he had been when he’d gone.
Time after time he repeated it, at least every other month. The only bright spot was that he got to come home to Aaron. They’d talk but even then he didn’t tell him. Aaron asked about how the trip was and he’d answer fine as always.
Year after year she got worse.
Even when she hadn’t known who she was because of her schizophrenia, she’d known on some level that she knew him, thinking he was a student but with her Alzheimer’s, there was nothing there. Everything that made her who she was slowly slipped away. Her love of literature was still there but she was so tired all the time that she couldn’t read. So Spencer paid for someone to come in for two hours every single day and read to her. It usually drew a crown and other patients at Bennington were settled by it but when Spencer would visit, he could barely stand to see her there, sitting and just not being anywhere near herself. There was no lectures being held that he could slip into and pretend to be an adoring student who absorbed her every single word.
Spencer looked too much like her for her to even realize in her last days that he was related.
Diana Reid was barely awake when Spencer arrived every morning of his week of annual leave. Now that she slept most of the time, Spencer could be around her. Even in her moments of being awake, she was barely there.
Every single year that she taught, she had a class at ten a.m. on Thursday morning. It was her favorite class. So when Spencer was reading to her on Thursday, when ten a.m. hit, he switched from Chaucer to Tristan and Isolde. He didn’t stop reading until the story was done and when he looked up, he knew that she wasn’t sleeping. Spencer leaned over the bed and kissed her forehead before hitting the button that would call a nurse. There was little to do except for wait for the coroner to arrive to take the body away. Spencer had been cleaning the things out of her room, some given to other residents and the rest were waiting to be shipped back home with him. The books were all going with him.
The staff were all very kind to him as he waited, holding her ever colder hand. Spencer called the funeral home that was going to handle her cremation. There was going to be no funeral just a memorial tree at the college where Spencer would be burying her ashes.
The work with the lawyer was the easiest of what he had to do to close out her trust fund and transfer it back into his account with half of it going to Bennington. The house had been sold long before. He did have the lawyer write out a letter to William to let him know that his wife was dead. She had long before cut him out of her will and the lawyer had made sure that no one was doing to be able to fight it. Spencer was sure that his father had life insurance on her and he didn’t care who got that money.
When it was time to leave, Spencer wondered what he was going to tell the team. If he was even going to do it. Spencer had stayed his entire leave there. His flight had already been booked and he hadn’t felt like changing it. He’d taken a cab to the airport in DC and was looking forward to just giving the cabbie a few hundred dollars and having him just drive him around the city before finally taking him home just in time for bed. The solitude of his apartment wasn’t any different than the solitude of Vegas but at least it wasn’t Vegas.
Disembarking from the plane, Spencer let the crowds carry him to the baggage claim only to find that his things weren’t there. He turned to find the desk where he could file a claim when he saw no only Aaron but Jack and Jessica standing there with a sign that said Welcome Home Spencer. One look from Aaron on his face and the man dropped Spencer’s bag and went right to him.
Spencer let himself sag into Aaron’s arms.
“You sounded tired but Spencer, dammit. I could have come to Vegas.” Aaron wrapped him in strong arms and just held him there.
“I needed to do it alone, Aaron. I needed it. This is what I want right now.” Spencer buried his head into Aaron’s neck and waited to feel Jack hug him as well. He’d felt so cold since he’d arrived in Vegas. He’d known when he’d seen his mother for the first time that she wasn’t going to last the week.
“What else needs done?”
“The last of her things are going to be shipped next week. I just want…noise. I’ve been locked in silence. Can we just go home and watch a movie and eat dinner and just…” Spencer stopped when he realized what he said.
“Is that what you want? To move in with me and Jack?” Aaron whispered in his ear and Spencer nodded. He wanted that. He’d lived alone since going to Cal-Tech but he thought that maybe the time for that to change was at hand.
Chapter 30-S/G 1-To Lessen the Pain
No one questioned it after Foyet was dead and gone. Hotch had been on the cusp of coming online for so long that in the wake of waking up from the stabbing and having to hide his child. It wasn’t any wonder that the new Sentinel was given a hunting order. George Foyet was found by a bonded pair in Maryland two weeks later. The Center had put out the word that he wasn’t to be harmed just found.
Hotch had been notified and released from work to go on the hunt. Three hours after he’d stepped out of the Bureau issued SUV, the empathic event from it was felt all the way in DC. Hotch was a high level Sentinel so of course a Guide search was done. After Foyet was dead. He hadn’t consented to one before that because he wasn’t going to put a Guide in danger.
When the highest ranking pair in the DC area came to visit Hotch just days after Foyet was gone, no one questioned when they left again quickly looking a little scared.
Rossi brought up the word Guide once in relation to Hotch just weeks later and Hotch just looked at him until he shut up. It was never brought up again. Spencer though had been waiting for a call that never came. So he chalked it up to wishful thinking, that Hotch could be his Sentinel. It had felt like it from the moment that they’d met.
There had been a moment in time in the middle of an ER where Spencer had thought that Hotch would come online. It had passed like every single other moment. For months, after New York, Spencer had thought that Hotch and him were growing even closer. He’d been an ear to listen to Hotch and not condemn him for his thoughts. Then after Foyet, Hotch all but disappeared from his life.
It wasn’t until after Prentiss’s return that Spencer realized exactly how far away from him Hotch was anymore. Hotch hadn’t said a thing for the blowup that Spencer had had at JJ in the station but Spencer knew that he never would have done it if she hadn’t kind of forced him to. He’d apologized to Hotch after the case was over and the man said nothing.
Spencer was sure that Hotch and Rossi had forgot that he was there and in fact in Rossi’s office. The man had let him use it while he helped on a case with the IRT.
“You need a Guide, Hotch. Your senses are blowing and you need to just give in.”
There was no one else in the the bullpen and if Spencer tried to leave, they would all see it. There was no way to leave and with the emotions that they were both projecting enough that Spencer couldn’t block them out. Their words couldn’t be blocked either.
“I’m fine, Dave. Stay out of this.”
“No. You are not fine. You are so far from fine that you can’t even see the city lights of fine. Why won’t you just accept that Guide? I saw the match reports on him. It’s a near fucking perfect match but you won’t even meet him.”
“He’s better off without me,” Hotch said in a tone that if it had been anyone else talking to him, Spencer was sure the person would have run away.
“Because why? He’d be able to get on a civilian consultant. I’m sure that we’d figure out a way to get him to help on cases, even if it’s just babysitting us all and helping JJ and you with the media things.”
“Just drop it.”
“No. Because I’m close to reporting you to Erin but the Center as well. Unless you can give me a damned good reason why you won’t even try.”
“He’s sixteen years younger than me Dave.”
“And? Age doesn’t matter. That hole inside of him isn’t going to allow him to resent you for your age. He’s gone a while without you already.”
“He doesn’t need another burden in his life and a late coming online Sentinel who can’t even get full control of his emotions around his son when he has a nightmare and an ex-wife who would resent him for being what she never could be is not something that I need in my life.”
“Another? What kind of information did the Center give you on him? How can you know he has any burden at all?”
Hotch was silent. The silence was more damning than anything else he would have said.
“The Center doesn’t share that information and given that you don’t exactly run around in the circles that would allow you to know that information on someone that was sixteen years your younger. That can only mean that you near perfect match of a Guide is Reid.”
Spencer had got to that point long before Rossi so he was moving files around and let himself drop down on top of them like he’d been working and passed out. He’d done it before on late nights and he’d been helping the IRT for a few days so no one was shocked. He made sure that his head was turned away from the door and closed his eyes tight. Mimicking his sleep breathing was easy, he’d learned to do it at a young age.
“Reid who is currently working in my office.”
There was the sound of footsteps and Spencer kept his breathing, locking down on his emotions because there was no way that he could fake sleeping if his emotions were bleeding out. The steps stopped at the door and Spencer inhaled and exhaled, inhaled and exhaled as he waited for the steps to go away. After a few minutes they did and he listened as they moved down the hall and then into Hotch’s office, he assumed.
Spencer gave it a half of an hour before he cleaned up the desk and vacated Rossi’s office. It was a long weekend for all of the team but Spencer had planned on coming into the office in case the IRT needed him. He’d just keep Monty busy in his office instead of taking over Rossi’s again. The long working weekend was going to be perfect. He just modified his plans with a stop at the Center.
It wasn’t until the first case where his muted abilities were in fact a hindrance instead of a help that the team noticed that he wasn’t like himself. There were drugs out there, legal ones that helped to puress Guide abilities in those that were not bonded. Spencer wasn’t on the BAU for his Guide abilities but on more than one case they had helped. It wasn’t anything that compromised the case but it was something that Spencer knew that he’d need to keep an eye on.
“When did you start to take the suppressors?” JJ asked as the team was packing up to leave. “You said after Hankel that you didn’t like the way they made you feel.”
“It was better than the ache that I couldn’t hide anymore.”
“Why didn’t you talk to me? Or Morgan?”
“Because it’s my life and my choice.”
Spencer just sighed and JJ took it as what he meant it to be. He didn’t want to talk about it.
However just two hours later, Morgan wasn’t going to let it drop. Even slipping on his MP3 player headphones and listening to music didn’t deter the man. Instead of saying what he was wanting to say, Morgan was projecting it at him. Spencer ripped his headphones off his ears and looked at the man who was across from him.
“You told me that you had a partial bond with your Sentinel that you’d passed by them somewhere and your abilities had linked with him or her.”
“That’s what the resident Guide doctor told me at the Center but that bond has never got any farther and the ache was more than I could handle. I came online as a Guide at a horrible time. The Center has always watched me closely because of it. It was thankful that the Doctor at the hospital recognized what had happened because otherwise, I could have become addicted to Dilaudid trying to make it all go away. I started to take the suppressors months ago. When I was sleeping way more than I should have been and wasn’t getting enough at the same time. I had to balance what I felt was best for me vs what I didn’t really want to do. My headaches are gone. They think that it’s the bond that was causing that.”
“Did they do a new search for you?”
“I got the same results but if a Sentinel has rejected me, I’d never know it.”
“And they can’t force them to reconsider?”
“I don’t want a Sentinel who has to be forced to bond with me, Morgan. I can still be what this team needs without a Sentinel. Now that I know my issue, I can correct it. The only other option is to leave DC. See how I do away from here but that’s not what I want.”
“Just don’t…don’t leave us out like this again. I don’t care that you are on the pills, man. I just wish we wouldn’t have been blindsided with it all. That we didn’t see it before now.”
“I’ll tell you what I tell you every single time. It’s my life Morgan and I am going to do what I feel is best, even if you don’t think that it is.”
Spencer closed his eyes and hoped that it would be left at that. He’d not said the time he’d started the suppressors because he didn’t want Hotch to know that he knew. He didn’t want to leave and if Hotch didn’t want him, he’d not make him feel guilty.
Chapter 32- S/G 2-One Sided
Spencer woke up with a groan. He wasn’t sure where he was but he knew that it was dark. He knew that he wasn’t alone. He knew that he was in pain. When he tried to move, whoever was with him would push him back down. The hands were rough but kind. He stopped moving after the third time. Spencer tried to open his eyes but the light was blinding so he shut them again. What he had seen though was Hotch.
“I’m okay, Hotch,” Spencer said with another groan as he cataloged every single injury on his body. It wasn’t until he realized that he hadn’t heard his own words that he looked at Hotch again. Hotch was just staring at him. “Hotch?”
Hotch though didn’t even try and speak he just looked at Reid with a weird look on his face. Spencer though pushed all thoughts of him out of his head. He hadn’t heard himself that time either. Spencer started to hum and felt up to his adam’s apple and it was vibrating but he couldn’t hear it. He was deaf. At least temporarily deaf.
“What’s going on?” Spencer asked. Hotch looked away from him and towards where the door was. It opened and the growl that Hotch let out, Spencer could feel in his chest. The man at the door threw in a few wrapped sandwiches and a case of bottled water then he shut the door. The case came back to Spencer. The UnSub was taking two random people and locking them up for days, and even weeks to see what they did. Studied them. Humans, Guides, and Sentinels. Random pairings across a total of nine states. The main focus was Tennesse and the people were taken from Tennessee’s eight border states. This was the first time that the UnSub had taken a pair that knew each other much less a Sentinel and a Guide at the same time. Spencer reached up and touched the inner side of his arm. He felt the small nodule that was located there. It was a newer system of giving him the suppressants that he needed to be able to function. The dosage had been upped five times in the four years that he’d been taking it.
Hotch was going to kill the man who had taken them, Spencer knew it. There wasn’t any other way that it was going to go. The man had proven that he’d do whatever it took to keep himself and anyone on the team alive. Going as far as killing Diane Turner just seconds before she would have taken the shot that would have killed herself and Maeve. It had all been for nothing because the end result had been Maeve hadn’t been able to handle Spencer’s job and his reluctance to search out his Sentinel in the DC area. Spencer had never told a soul that he had known who it was all the time. The look on Hotch’s face when he’d come in the day after the breakup had told Spencer all that he needed to know. That nothing that ever happened to him would make Hotch want a bond with him.
Spencer watched Hotch as he moved towards the food and water. Picking up the sandwiches before he moved back towards Spencer with them. The look on Hotch’s face was the same and Spencer realized why he couldn’t place it. He’d not seen Hotch in his feral drive when he hunted Foyet. He’d been kept safely away as an injured Guide of any ranking would have messed up Hotch. Spencer wondered why he was in a feral state though. How he had got into that state. How long exactly he’d been out. The last thing that Spencer remembered was going to sleep in the hotel. Since abductions were taking place at night while the victims were in bed, the team had doubled up and no one stayed alone in the hotel room no matter the time of day. Spencer had bunked with Rossi this trip as the man had enough of Morgan the last time they had to double up. Spencer didn’t know why he wasn’t teamed up with Morgan but he didn’t really care. All he had cared about was sleep.
The food and water were inspected before Hotch handed over a bottle of water to Spencer. Spencer didn’t really want the water. He wanted the food but when he held out his hand for the sandwich. Hotch kept it back. Spencer dove for it but his body protested and he leaned back, winded from the pain. He had a few broken or at least cracked ribs. Hotch dropped the food and pushed him down into a laying position again. He tried to roll to his side but the older man stopped him again. He slapped the hand away that tried to hold him down by his stomach and was shocked when a look of hurt appeared across Hotch’s face. When the man reached out to touch him again and Spencer slapped his hand away again, Hotch pulled it back like he’d been burned. Spencer looked at him and tried to reason out anything. Hotch reached out again and Spencer didn’t slap at him. He waited. He waited until Hotch’s fingers brushed on his side. It didn’t hurt but it told him that Hotch knew that he was hurting and where and that wasn’t good. No Sentinel had been able to get a read on him for three months, since his last upping of his suppressors. Hotch had commented that he didn’t feel like a Guide at all anymore.
Spencer tried to roll to his side again and this time his own pain stopped him. He laid back and breathed carefully through the pain. Hotch’s hand shot out and laid on his stomach again, just touching. When Spencer was breathing normally, Hotch uncapped the water and helped him take several drinks. After he was settled down again, Hotch opened the sandwiches and handed over small bites as he tore them off.
After that hours went by, Hotch never took his eyes off the door unless he was feeding Spencer a sandwich or making him drink water. Spencer tried to stay awake but he was unable to, the pain when he breathed worsened as the day went on. He just hoped that Rossi and Morgan were okay and that they were close to finding them. As long as Spencer was in pain, Hotch was going to stay feral. He hoped that the team had a presence of mind to enter the room slowly or at least check the camera and not barge in.
Late in what Spencer assumed was night, Hotch curled around him, sleeping. Spencer forced himself not to think on what that meant. He just stayed like he was and settled in. Hotch’s hand laid on his stomach, rising and falling with his breaths.
Spencer woke up but didn’t open his eyes. He was warm and not in pain. The smell told him that he was in a hospital. He still couldn’t hear. Opening his eyes slowly, Spencer took in the room he was in. It told him everything. It wasn’t a normal room. No it was a Sentinel room. He looked around and found Hotch asleep in the second bed, closest to the door. There was a notepad and pencil at Spencer’s side and he picked it up. There was a note from JJ telling him that as of her leaving it, he’d been asleep for three hours after being rescued. That the UnSub was in custody and that Hotch wasn’t feral anymore. There was more left out than what was there. Why was he deaf? Did they even know?
The paper was taken from him and Spencer looked up into hard, dark eyes. Hotch was awake. Spencer watched him write something on the pad.
Childers ruptured your eardrums. Hopeful that you’ll regain all of your hearing with proper rest. Two cracks ribs and one broken.
“Why are we in here?” Spencer asked. It was weird talking and not hearing himself.
Hotch looked away towards the door and frowned. He acted like he didn’t want to an answer.
The doctors were afraid of me going feral again. I had to be sedated.
Because I did the unthinkable and bonded with you while you were vulnerable. The doctors are already sure it’s unbreakable.
Spencer took in his words but was confused. He didn’t feel that bond. There was nothing in that hole where the partial bond used to be. He hadn’t paid attention to the area in months. When he meditated, he looked elsewhere.
“Are you sure?”
Hotch nodded looking at him weird.
“Get the doctor.”
Hotch moved away, setting the paper back down. When he got to the door he opened it. Spencer could see his mouth moving but no words came. The door was shut and Hotch stayed right by it until it was opened again and a woman and a man entered. The man had a tablet and he had something typed on it.
“Why do you think Hotch bonded with me?”
It shows on his tests and the feral episode stopped as soon as you were safe.
“I need to speak with Hotch alone.” Spencer didn’t answer anymore questions. He just ignored them and stared at Hotch. Finally, they left them alone. “We aren’t going to be allowed in the field anymore, Hotch.”
“Why?” Hotch asked, his word unheard but understandable.
“Because there is no bond on my end. That hole in me where my Sentinel is supposed to be, is still there. There used to be something there but it’s gone.”
The look of utter devastation on Hotch’s face hurt Spencer but there was little he could do. He’d never heard of a one sided bond. He had to figure it all out and fast because life like this wasn’t going to work. Hotch wasn’t going to be allowed in the field with an unstable bond and Spencer wasn’t without his Sentinel.
“Fuck,” Hotch said and Spencer could only agree.
A battery of tests were run on Spencer after they had got some food in him. Hotch hovered the entire time. It was strange to know that the man was bonded to him but yet he didn’t feel it. They were sent home with the test results with an appointment to see their Center and Spencer’s doctor there. Hotch got a rental for them to drive home as Spencer wasn’t able to fly.
The trip was silent as Spencer didn’t feel like distracting Hotch since Spencer wouldn’t be able to hear him. The Center texted him to come in as soon as they made it back to DC. Hotch dropped off the rental at the local place and Rossi was there with Hotch’s car and two bags of clothes. Spencer recognized his bag from the office. Morgan was waiting in his truck to take Rossi back to work.
There was little fanfare inside the Center. Spencer and Hotch were sent to the room that all of Spencer’s appointments were in. The only difference was that there was a laptop in there with two keyboards. Spencer frowned but took a seat. Hotch sat down beside him and Spencer wasn’t sure whether he liked it or not. His doctor, Doctor Singh came in several minutes later. She picked up a keyboard and handed it to Hotch before taking the second.
Doctor Reid, how are you feeling?
“Really confused. Was the other hospital wrong?”
No. Agent Hotchner is bonded to you. I agree that there will be no breaking it. As to you not bonding back with him, we have discussed it and we feel that there are three options. One, you remove the suppressors device and give it time. The high dose you are on has never stopped a Guide from bonding but this situation is…delicate.
“Because Hotch had refused to even talk to be about being compatible?” Spencer felt Hotch’ gaze on him. “I’m not stupid Hotch. I knew we were compatible within moments of meeting but not online Sentinels are not in searches for Guides. I heard you and Rossi talk as well.”
At this point that all doesn’t matter. The second option is to leave things as they are, you two continue to work together and live together. The third is what we feel is the best option. Agent Hotchner has bonded with you but an imprint hasn’t been done. It also includes the removal of the suppressor. After that we suggest a two day wait for the drugs to fully leave your system.
“You hope that the imprint will force me to bond with him.”
Yes. But it would have to be a sexual imprint. We don’t think that anything el.se wpuld work.
Option one is fifty/fifty. Option two is thirty/seventy. And three is ninety/ten.
Spencer wasn’t sure on her odds. She wasn’t taking into account neither of their stubbornness. Options one and two sucked because there was no time soon for them to be back to work. Option three at least gave them quicker results.
“If we don’t bond?”
“I don’t know. There are no long term effects documented on one sided bonds with the other side living.“
“If I take out the suppressor and this fails, I’m back to square one. How long would I have to be off before I can go back onto it?”
A month. During that time, neither of you would be actively traveling on cases.
“I already knew that. With the bond fragile, Hotch could go into a feral drive at any point. A teammate touching me could send him off. There is fair chance that neither of us could be field agents again.”
Agent Hotchner you are silent.
Just understanding it all. Taking it in.
What option do you want?
Whatever Reid wants.
That’s not what I asked.
Spencer looked at Hotch for the first time. The older man was glaring at the doctor and he said something. She frowned and said something back. Spencer didn’t care. He closed his eyes to think. He knew what he was going to say. He wasn’t going to hurt Hotch and it was in both of their best interests to try option three. If it failed, Spencer could take another job elsewhere in the FBI and Aaron could take over for Cruz. The man was gone more then he was there and Hotch did most of his work when he was gone.
“You know that three is the best option. We put ourselves in this because both of us were too stubborn to do what we knew we needed to do. You thought you would be burden and I didn’t want to force you to do something that you didn’t want to do even though it hurt me. We built our bed and now we have to lie in it. So let’s get this out of me and get on our way.”
Hotch shook his head and Spencer sighed.
“If this fails. What is the best thing we can do?”
Agent Hotchner’s Sentinel self is going to need your connection. Living in the same house. Sleeping in the same bed when needed.
Hotch was silent but he nodded assent.
A nurse will come in and prep you for the removal. I’ve already contacted the HR lead on Sentinels and Guides to let them know that you’ll be out a week at the minimum.
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Spencer didn’t look at Hotch to see what he said. He waited for him outside the door. He was going to be deaf until the rupture in his ear drums healed. He was looking forward to that for a lot of reasons.
Two days passed in a rush. Spencer had grabbed enough things for a few days before they had gone to Hotch’s after the Center. Then two days of packing up his life and moving in with Hotch. Spencer had left it to Hotch to talk to Jack. The boy had been hesitant to talk to Spencer until he got in the hang of writing everything out. The situation had been no where near normal and Spencer wouldn’t have blamed the boy if it had taken him a few days to get used to someone living with him and his father.
Spencer was getting used to his silent world. Just as he was getting used to living with someone else. He had his own bedroom but so far he had slept in bed with Hotch. He could tell that the one sided bond was putting a strain on him so when they watched a movie at night, Spencer would encourage him to touch. Spencer could still feel the drugs in his body after the second night at Hotch’s so he told Hotch that.
That next morning Spencer woke up with Hotch wrapped around him tighter than a blanket. The cock pressing into his lower back told him that Hotch’s Sentinel self knew that he was on the mend. He took stock of his own body. His ribs weren’t ready for anything strenuous but it wasn’t like Hotch would hurt him on purpose. Instead of rolling away from him, Spencer thrust back into his body. As if a switch had been flipped, Hotch’s body surged and instead of heat all along his back he was turned to lay on his back and he had heat all along his front.
Hotch took his mouth in a kiss so searing that Spencer lost the ability to breathe. He felt hands sweep down his sides before settling on his underwear and jerking them off. They had been sleeping in just underwear. When Hotch settled back down on him, Spencer realized that Hotch had been naked the entire time. His cock started to fill at that thought. The nights sleeping together had allowed Hotch to imprint on the feel of him and the scent. Really, the only sense left was taste and Hotch was trying his hardest to imprint that one at the moment.
Gently, Spencer’s leg was lifted up and Spencer felt fingers at his hole. They had talked to death the sexual aspects of their relationship. Hotch was tactile and rarely went ten minutes when they were in the same room without touching him. He wasn’t going to deny him the bond that his Sentinel side needed. Fingers pressed inside of him and Spencer gasped. There was no sound and it was centering for him. Hotch prepped him quickly but thoroughly. As cock was sliding inside of him, Spencer tried to focus on that hole inside of him, trying to get it to react or do anything. He pushed out with his abilities, his empathy, hell his everything but nothing happened.
As Hotch lost himself in Spencer’s body, Spencer held back the tears. He didn’t know what was wrong with him. What had happened to him that had caused this. He could feel Hotch’s emotions on a low level now that he was off the suppressors. Spencer tried to lock onto them and pull them inside of himself but again it was a fail. Spencer lost his erection as he felt Hotch’s elation at his end of the bond settling more. Hotch came with a muffled cry into Spencer’s neck. Spencer felt that more than anything else. As Hotch pulled from him, he was wrapped in his arms. The arms were like bands of heat across his cold body but didn’t press on his ribs. Spencer felt words being said into his neck as he rolled to his side, it hurt his ribs but he didn’t care. Spencer buried his face in the pillow. He gave into the tears now. Aaron stayed right there with him, holding him and just not leaving him alone. Spencer cried himself to sleep because he and Hotch were broken and he didn’t know how to fix them.
Chapter 34-Burglar & Prisoner
Aaron knew that his window was small. He had just an hour to get in and get out. He had a lot of information to get and he needed as much time as he needed. The room he needed to get into was under a lot of security but none of it was manned by a human. Foyet didn’t trust humans with his secrets. Aaron had everything that he needed to get into the room and when the last lock clanged open, Aaron opened the door.
It wasn’t books inside the room.
There wasn’t even a computer.
There was just a boy.
A naked boy.
Behind a set of bars. There was a chain on his neck, keeping him well away from the bars. The boy didn’t look frightened at all but he looked at the gun and his demeanor changed. He slumped down to his knees and then look at Aaron with such a look of relief on his face.
“Please…just kill me.”
“What?” Aaron asked.
“Just kill me. Don’t leave without killing me. Don’t leave me here.”
“You help me and I’ll help you. Where are Foyet’s files?” Aaron asked.
The boy scrambled over to a stand where Aaron saw there were piles of books. There was a pot of ink and the boy grabbed what looked like rolled up paper and started to write with it on another sheet of paper. He waved the paper when he was done and folded it up. He looked at Aaron again before moving as close as he could and set it down.
“The location of the files is right there but first, you have to kill me.”
“What’s your name?”
“What’s your real name?”
“It’s the only name that I know. Master has only called me that since I was little.” The boy frowned at him. “Are you going to kill me?”
Aaron darted for the paper but the boy grabbed it up.
“You don’t get it until you kill me.”
Aaron knew everything about his target. He knew that he was an ephebophile. He was certain he knew what the boy was there for. Aaron had the tools to get the boy out and obviously the boy knew where the files of every single one of the man’s hits had been. He was mission essential. Aaron pulled the lock pick set out of his coat, holstered his gun, and set about opening the door. As soon as it clanked and swung open just a little bit, the boy ran back to the corner and huddled on the bed. Aaron didn’t even want to think about the stains on the bed.
Slowly approaching the boy, Aaron tried not to spook him. He pulled the gun back out and when he did the boy dropped to his knees again. He was calm and accepting. No child should ever look forward to death as opposed to life. Aaron set the safety and raised the gun, he brought it down on the head of the boy. The boy crumpled to the floor. Aaron holstered the gun again and set about picking the lock on the collar. It was more detailed and Aaron found that it took him longer than anything else.
The goal was the files but when Aaron heard noise in the hall, he pulled his gun out and waited.
“Pretty Thing, daddy is happy and he wants to share. If you are on your hands and knees when I get in there, I’ll fuck you gentle and allow you to orgasm!” Foyet yelled as he entered the room, opening his pants. The fucked up man barely had time to realize what was going on before Aaron put one in his head, right between his eyes. Foyet fell to the ground. Aaron just hoped that the boy really did know where the files for all of the hits that Foyet had done and the people he was connected to.
Aaron looked back at the unconscious boy. There was no clothes in the room and Aaron had been through the entire house already, there was no clothes but Foyet’s and he wasn’t going to dress him in Foyet’s. His apartment wasn’t really set up for the boy either. He wasn’t going to just leave him there though.
So Aaron went up to the second floor and found a blanket that was stuffed in a closet. It was soft and warm and would protect the boy from the elements. Aaron wrapped the boy in the blanket and prepared to stand up but saw the paper on the floor. He looked at the paper and then the boy before he picked it up and opened it.
I’m sorry but I couldn’t take another night wit him. The files are in my head.
Aaron looked at the boy and frowned. He’d heard stories of a boy who was a genius that had been passed around the men that Aaron was hunting. Shane Wyland had him before that and Aaron had never been able to figure out what happened to him. He was transferred from a pedophile to a ephebophile. The boy had a horrible life.
Aaron wasn’t sure what the boy ate on a regular basis but given how small he was, he didn’t figure it was ever enough so once he got back to his apartment, Aaron found a can of soup in the back of a cabinet.
There was a knock on his apartment door and Aaron grabbed his gun before he moved to the door. He looked out the peephole and found that it was Stanley Howard. The one wild card in the group that Aaron was in. Aaron opened the door but kept the gun out where Howard could see it.
“There’s been a shakeup. Foyet’s house burned down with him inside of it.”
“Who did it?”
“Accident. Gas line leak. There is an emergency meeting tomorrow as our safe was destroyed as well.”
“Okay.” Aaron shut the door when Howard stepped back out. He looked back at his bedroom. The safe wasn’t a place, it was a person, the boy. The safe had only ever been referred to as that and if it wasn’t a place in Foyet’s it had to be the boy.
Aaron sat down in front of his computer and booted it up. He waited for it to load and then opened up the encrypted chat and waited. The face looking at him was smiling.
“Done already? I don’t have a download on the scanner,” the younger man said.
“I need a private jet to take me home, Q. The plans have changed. There is an emergency meeting tomorrow and everyone will be there. I’m going to take them all out and come home.”
“Where are the files?”
“Wyland and Foyet have been the keeper of the files for a long time. Wyland had him from an unknown age until puberty and from puberty up it seems that Foyet had has him.”
“Wyland is a paedophile and Foyet is a ephebophile.”
“Yes and their safe is a boy that I assume has some sort of photographic memory.”
“Eidetic is more like it. Troubling. I’ll have a jet prepared for your arrival by seven pm tomorrow. Anything else?”
“Yes. I need some clothes sent over for the boy. He was naked and chained inside of a cell. Foyet is already dead. I put a bullet in his brain as soon as he came home.”
“This boy is going to need a lot of help. He wanted me to kill him. He didn’t ask him to save him, he just wanted me to kill him. He was relieved when he saw the gun in my hand.”
“I’ll see if any of Psych has degrees in working with children. Get some DNA and run it through the scanner on the computer.”
“I have a fingerprint. I took a picture.” Aaron pulled his phone out and pressed the upload icon.
“Hmmmm.” Q was typing away and after a few moments, he frowned. “Spencer Reid. Fingerprint taken from his home after his father sold him to a child porn ring. He was never recovered. Father was killed in prison once word got out that he had sold his child. Mother is Diana Reid, she killed herself three years back. A combination of her own schizophrenia and the loss of her child. Bring him with you. I’ll make sure that something is found for him. How old does he look?”
“I’d say at minimum thirteen. I don’t know how long Foyet had him.”
“Thirteen is right. I’ll send along papers.”
Aaron watched Spencer as he woke up on the jet. Q had one of the junior agents get him a sedative that he’d given him to get him on the plane as getting him through the airport, even a small private one,
“Where are we?”
“Heading to England.”
“Because that is where I live. I have a passport here for you.” Aaron tossed over passport. Spencer didn’t leave his seat. He just eyed Aaron.
“You killed Foyet. I heard you tell Howard that. Why did you kill him?”
“I was sent to gather the files from Foyet’s band of assassins. You had what I needed. After the death of Foyet they called a meeting because you were sited as lost with him. They were freaking out and I killed them all. I shot Wyland in the stomach so that he bled out slowly.”
“What do I have to do to be worthy of your kindness?”
“Tell my bosses everything that you remember. Everything that they forced you to remember about their businesses. That’s all.”
Spencer eyed him like he didn’t believe him but Aaron knew that trust would only come with time. He hoped that the doctors in Psych would be able to help him.
Chapter 42-The Decision
Aaron was walking through the house, heading back to his office, when he passed by Jack’s bedroom. The door was cracked, which was odd because Jack always shut it when he was inside, especially when Jack had friends over. Nearly nine months in Witness Protection and Jack still hadn’t forgiven him for making the decision without him to remove them from DC and the threat of Peter Lewis. Aaron had changed his name to Noah while Jack had stayed Jack, just making it easier on the boy. Nine months without contact to the only family that Jack had known. Jessica had chosen not to go into Witness Protection because of her father. Aaron paused outside the door and listened. Jack was inside with Gunter, the only friend that Jack had even attempted to make since arriving in Salem, Oregon.
“So you don’t have a mom?” Gunter asked.
“I had a mom. She died when I was little. I don’t have a lot of memories of her, but Papa used to help me remember her. He remembered all of the stories that Dad used to tell about her.” Jack sounded sad, and it wasn’t the kind of sad that he seemed on any given day, this was more than that. Aaron was worried.
“Why don’t you have any pictures of your Papa?” Gunter asked.
“Because when Papa died, Dad got rid of them all. I keep trying to draw his face so that I don’t forget but I can’t get his smile right.”
Aaron’s heart clenched. The backstory was that Noah and Jack had moved to Oregon after the death of a spouse, but Aaron hadn’t realized that Jack had been telling people that his Papa died. Aaron had made sure to never give a gender to the dead spouse. He was sure that it was in the cover that WitSec had created for them. He didn’t care.
“Show me. Maybe I can help.”
Aaron walked away before he could barge in and assist them as well. WitSec hadn’t allowed them to take anything with them. There were no pictures squirreled away, nothing. Only memories that in the middle of the night gripped Aaron hard. Thankfully the loss of a spouse exempted him from the ladies at the office trying to set him up on blind dates, or trying to hit on him it seemed. The thought of even trying to go on a date with someone that he would never be attracted to made Aaron sick. He missed Spencer so much. His body ached to feel the younger man just one time. There was little that Aaron could do about that. He had made his decision, and he needed to keep to it, to keep Jack. Spencer understood that. Spencer had let them go, it hadn’t been without a fight, but Aaron laid out the threat to Jack, Spencer had relented. Spencer had always understood that Jack came first. From the first date to when Aaron and Jack had walked away from him. Aaron had felt sorry because it was another family that left, but Spencer understood. Aaron wasn’t sure that Spencer would ever forgive him, but he understood. Aaron had left him behind to tell Peter Lewis that it wasn’t worth going after him because if Aaron had left him, that meant that Aaron didn’t love him.
It was early afternoon, and Aaron was happy that he got off early. He worked at a local corporation as a business lawyer. It hadn’t taken him long to brush up on law and then to work his way through what Aaron needed to know to do his job, but sometimes it was long hours. Jack was home from school just an hour when Aaron walked through the door. Aaron hoped that he would be in the living room working on homework or even in the study that was across from Aaron’s office, but he wasn’t. Aaron looked around for him inside of the house, but his son wasn’t there.
Worry set in his stomach like a stone before Aaron double checked the three bathrooms. When he entered the downstairs guest bathroom, Aaron saw a gauze pad on the floor. Aaron moved to the cabinet that had the first aid kit and found that the gauze inside was a lot lower than it should be. There was also the bottle of alcohol and the tube of bacitracin missing. Aaron frowned and left the kit sitting on the counter before he walked to the back door. There had been a wooden fort in the backyard when they moved in. Aaron had talked about getting rid of it, but Jack had wanted to keep it. He spent warm days out in it, away from his father. Aaron was silent as he crossed the lawn to it. Jack wasn’t in the upper section, but the sound of movement from the lower area had Aaron crouching.
Aaron hadn’t been in or around the wooden fort since Jack had claimed it, trying to give his son a place that was entirely his without Aaron desecrating it but looking inside, Aaron wished that he hadn’t done that. The fort had been made from white birch and so was very light in color, but yet the boards that made up the floor of the lower section were stained dark. Jack was sitting in the corner with a book in one hand, but he wasn’t looking at it. Jack’s eyes were closed but he wasn’t asleep, his breathing was too forced for that. In Jack’s other hand was a razor blade. Aaron could see trails of blood running down each of his inner thighs. The blood coated the floor and was the source of the dark staining. Aaron watched as Jack set the razor down before he wiped his bloodied hand before picking the book back up and starting to read. Aaron realized that the book was one of the ones that were on the shelf in the old apartment for Jack and Spencer to read together.
Leaving before Jack could see him, Aaron didn’t know what to do. His son was cutting. Jack was cutting. Jack was hurting himself. Aaron spent hours researching the best psychologist in the area, but in the end, he was scared to send Jack to one. He would have to wait until their contact with the Marshal service visited them. Figure out if there was a safe psychologist in the area for Jack to see. There had to be someone that Jack could talk to, truthfully talk to because there was no way that Aaron could handle it. Aaron had caused it.
Aaron went to bed that night and only passed out from exhaustion in the early hours of the morning, but his dreams were not letting him rest. He kept replaying the day that he found Haley head in their bedroom except Jack was beside her, the Jack that Aaron had seen cutting on himself, no his precious four-year-old boy who he had been trying to save by fleeing from Peter Lewis.
The dreams stayed with him for weeks, even after Jack had been put into therapy. Which wasn’t helping because Jack wasn’t stopping.
Aaron stepped into the apartment building, feeling like he was going back in time a lot longer than just a short year. Three months of therapy for Jack and nothing was helping. Jack wasn’t opening up to any of the three therapists that Aaron had taken him to see. Jack was perfect in school, pulling perfect grades but at home, he didn’t speak to Aaron, and he was either locked in his bedroom or out in the fort. Aaron had tried to get rid of everything sharp in the house, locking the knives in his gun locker but Jack just found something else to cut himself with. Aaron gave that up and just made sure that Jack had safe and clean things to cut himself, enough bandages, and everything he needed to keep himself safe. It hurt Aaron to know that Jack was doing it but he couldn’t risk that Jack would indeed hurt himself by being forced to hide it and being compelled to use whatever he could find.
“Agent Hotchner?” a voice asked, pulling Aaron around of his thoughts. He looked up to see Maria, Spencer’s next door neighbor. “Spencer said that you were gone.”
“Gone?” Aaron asked. Maria looked white as a sheet. Like she saw a ghost.
“Every time I asked for a while he said nothing, just went to a different topic and then I never saw Jack either, and when I finally pushed him, he said that you two were gone, never coming back. I thought he meant that you died. I tried to find the accident report, but I didn’t. I figured it had something to do with your job.”
“Something like that except no, Jack and I are alive.”
“Then why the hell have you let him rot in prison?” Maria asked, her eyes turning fierce.
“Prison?” Aaron looked at the door to Spencer’s apartment and then back at Maria. Prison? What the hell was Spencer doing in prison.
“He was framed for the murder of a woman while on a case, that’s what JJ told me when she came by to get him things.”
“What do you know?” Aaron asked.
“That’s all I know. It happened in Minnesota, but since he was on the job, his lawyer was able to get it moved to Federal Court, but he was denied bail.”
Aaron turned, and he didn’t even stop to think before he hailed a cab. He hadn’t expected to leave so soon, so he had told the cab that had dropped him off to leave. Jack was with Jessica and a Marshal. The service hadn’t been happy that Aaron was leaving their protection but just as the reasons for him to join it was protecting Jack, leaving it was to save Jack because Aaron wasn’t going to lose Jack to his own spiral just to save him from Peter Lewis. Jack’s health was more important, and when Jack had attempted suicide, Aaron had to make a decision.
The drive to the station to get him to Quantico was quick, but Aaron hadn’t wanted to walk to the nearest station. Instead, he’d had the cab driver take him to the closest station to the edge of the city, making the ride from there to Quantico shorter. Aaron’s thoughts were swirling as he was taken closer and closer to Quantico. He searched the Internet for anything and everything that he could find on the case.
Spencer had been charged with the death of a Sofia Carey in Minnesota. He had been found with heroin in his system and his blood on the murder weapon, a cut matching it on his hand. There was no reason why Spencer would have killed her though. She was eventually cleared of the crime that she had thought to have committed. The Federal Judge had deemed him a flight risk for unknown reasons and thrown him in prison.
Stepping out of the station in Quantico, Aaron debated how he was going to get inside of the base. He had nothing on him that named him as Aaron Hotchner, those documents were all locked up, and the Marshals hadn’t got them to him yet. Aaron had no weapon, nothing. Still, Aaron made his way to the entry point on the base that he had used what felt like a lifetime ago. Aaron sighed in relief when the two guards were ones that he knew. They would at least talk to him and not shove him out.
“Agent Hotchner?” the first guard, Stan called out. The second guard, Alan turned around as well and smiled at him before frowning.
“You are supposed to be gone, in Witness Protection if the rumors are right.”
“I’m here to talk to my former team.”
“Why?” Alan asked, his eye critical on Aaron’s body. Looking Aaron up and down for a threat.
“Because I want to know why the hell Doctor Reid is sitting in prison.”
“Agent Rossi hasn’t come in yet for the day. If you wait, I’m sure that he’ll sign you in. We will look the other way if he does and not check ID.”
“Good because I haven’t been given those back yet.”
“Aaron?” Dave called out. Aaron thought about the old saying about speak of the devil, and he shall appear.
“What the hell has happened to this team in the time that I have been gone?” Aaron demanded. He could be Hotch, the hardass who brokered no failure.
“Get in the car.” Dave didn’t look happy.
“Tell me everything.”
Aaron felt weird being in one of his old suits, he’d chosen this one because it was Spencer’s favorite on him. Aaron was sitting in the crowd, waiting for the court session to start. Prentiss’s lawyer was stupid. Aaron could see the bruises on Spencer’s face even from a distance. Aaron burned with righteous anger. Dave hadn’t driven him into the base and into the FBI building. No instead, Dave had driven him to a law office in Alexandria after texting to tell Prentiss that he was running a lead on Spencer’s case.
The law office was one of the older ones in the Virginia area, and Aaron had worked with some of the lawyers there. It was one of the best defense firms in the country. Before the end of the first meeting, Aaron was signing a contract to work for them, working on the Spencer Reid case, as a favor to Dave. What had followed a whirlwind of a debrief. Aaron had learned every single aspect of Spencer’s case from Dave and then found out about the side case that was being worked, in that the FBI had washed their hands of Spencer. They had pulled their support, and someone from inside the FBI had made sure that Spencer was in general population inside of the prison. Someone wanted Spencer dead, and that didn’t sit well with Aaron.
“I don’t understand why we are visiting the matter of bail for Mr. Reid again.” The judge did not look happy at all.
“I’m confused as well,” the district attorney said as he looked at Spencer’s lawyer. “This motion wasn’t filed by Miss Duncan but a…” the lawyer flipped through the motion and found Aaron’s name. “Aaron Hotchner.”
Aaron watched as Spencer sat up straighter in his seat, but he didn’t look around. Aaron looked away from Spencer to where the team was all sitting in the row behind Spencer, they did start to look around. JJ was the first to spot him in the back corner. Only a few seconds passed before everyone, but Dave was looking at him.
“Who is that?” Duncan asked.
“There is also a motion to sever the current council, also filed by Mr. Hotchner,” the judge said. She looked at Spencer, there was a frown on her face, a massive one that Aaron knew wouldn’t mean good things for Spencer but Aaron would make sure that what he wanted, he was going to get. “Mr. Reid, did you know about this?”
“Who is Aaron Hotchner?”
“My former boss.”
“Why does he want to take over as your council?”
“I am unsure, Ma’am. I wasn’t even aware that he was in the area.”
“Because the last I knew he was in Witness Protection.”
“The same man that I believe set me up for this murder charge.”
The judge’s eyes widened.
“This is highly irregular, Your Honor.”
“However, that motion is not needed,” Spencer said.
“Yes, that is true, Mr. Reid doesn’t need a change in council.” Duncan sounded smug.
“No, it’s nodded because I release you as my attorney.”
Duncan looked at Spencer in shock. She didn’t notice Aaron standing up at the back of the court and making his way forward. He tugged on his suit sleeve, making sure that he looked impeccable. Duncan didn’t leave willingly telling Spencer that she needed him. Aaron just waited until the officers removed her from the court before he sat down in the seat that she had been in. Spencer didn’t look at Aaron. He didn’t look at him at all. Aaron felt that deep in his heart, but still, he pulled the seventeen motions that he had wrote up and set them down on the table in front of him.
“Mr. Hotchner, do you need a few minutes to confer with your client?”
“No, Ma’am. My first motion to have my client released on his own recognizance.”
“Bail has been decided on.”
“Yes. Ma’am, however since this court decided that Doctor Reid should be denied bail, and placed in Protective Custody inside the prison to await trial, yet he was not placed in protective custody. Instead, he has been put with criminals, a few of which Doctor Reid put in jail, it’s showed that this court can’t protect him.”
“What?” The Judge waved her hand for the motion. Aaron stood up and moved forward to hand it over. Inside the motion was what Aaron’s new law firm could find on why Spencer was denied what the court had ordered to happen and what had been done to make sure that no red flags were raised.
“Your Honor, that may be, but Mr. Reid is still a flight risk,” the DA said.
“Doctor Reid is not a flight risk.”
“His only ties to the community are his mother, who has been placed back in Las Vegas. He has no other family.”
“Doctor Reid’s team is his family. He has two Godsons and-” Aaron cut himself off because he almost called Jack Spencer’s son. That didn’t need to be revealed until Aaron had got a chance to talk to Spencer.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I was speaking without thinking.”
The doors opened, and Aaron turned to look because it was rare for someone to enter, but his heart stopped when he saw Jessica and Jack.
“No minors,” The Judge called out.
“I’m sorry, Your Honor,” Spencer said. Aaron looked over at him and saw that Spencer was watching Jack. “They’ll leave.”
“Papa!” Jack cried out. Jessica wrapped his arm around Jack’s waist and started to pull him out.
“Son, who exactly are you calling out for?” the Judge asked.
“My Papa,” Jack said. There were tears on his face, and Aaron wanted him to leave to not have to face if Aaron’s motions didn’t get Spencer out of jail.
“Who is your papa?”
Jack pointed, and it was very clear that he was pointing at Spencer.
“Mr. Reid doesn’t have any children listed,” the DA called out.
“Papa was going to adopt me, and then I had to go away, and it never happened.”
“What is your name?”
Jack looked up at Jessica, and she nodded. “Jack Hotchner, Ma’am.”
“Chambers,” was the only thing that the judge said.
Aaron ached as he took in the sight in front of him. Spencer was sitting down in the armchair in Dave’s personal study in his house. The armchair was oversized, so it fit Spencer and Jack, in Spencer’s lap, perfectly. The two had their heads pressed together, and they were talking. Spencer still hadn’t said a word to Aaron at all, even in the Judge’s chambers where everything was laid out for her. Why Aaron and Jack had gone into custody and why Spencer hadn’t been taken if the relationship was that strong. By the time they left the chamber an hour later, Spencer was freed on his own recognizance.
“It’s going to take time. Reid’s been in jail for three months, Aaron. I think that Jack, Henry, and Michael are going to be the balm to his soul. Now, you’ve danced around telling me why you left WitSec. Tell me now.”
“No. Cutting himself. He’s been doing it for months, and I sought mental help for him, but it kept on. I took everything sharp out of the house, but he just kept getting other things. I was afraid of him doing something stupid and getting himself sick. He never opened up to anyone, and the last therapist had access to our entire file. She suggested that if for Jack’s mental health, maybe coming back was a good idea. I’ve already seen him smile more in the past hour with Spencer than he has in the entirety of our year away. No matter what happens, I made the right choice.”
“I’m glad you think so because the AD of the FBI is here to talk to you and Spencer and what he has to say isn’t good.”
“What do you mean?”
“Peter Lewis has a contact inside of the FBI, and he’s been using her. She framed Reid for the murder of that suspect because he was in her way of getting to you. Lewis is using her for information and hoping that framing him would bring you out. He wasn’t prepared for you to take this long and she went off the rails and killed him.”
“Lewis is dead?” Aaron asked.
“Fitting end I say. Agent Bloom documented it all it seems but everything is being checked over.”
“And we are finding out about this now?” Aaron wanted to know why Spencer had gone to jail for this. Why the FBI had even allowed that to happen.
“It seems that this was used as a way to try and ruin Reid.”
“So this goes higher than Bloom?”
“Yes, how far I don’t know and I don’t know if the people above Bloom knew about Lewis or not.”
Aaron nodded. “Let him have a few more moments with Jack before we sic him on the AD.”
The discussion that followed broke Aaron’s, heart. Spencer had been put into prison to hopefully have him do something that would actually get him fired from the FBI when it was found out that he was innocent of murder. His entire career washed away because there were those that were afraid of what would happen when he rose higher and higher. Every single word that the AD laid out broke Spencer more and more. The retirement package that the AD offered Spencer was better than the one that Aaron received. Of course, the higher-ups at the FBI hadn’t tried to ruin Aaron’s life. Spencer accepted and signed the paperwork before he left the room.
“I have ruined many friendships that I have cultivated over this,” the AD said.
“You don’t sound upset over it.”
“The Director wasn’t happy when a few others tried to use the meetings that Spencer goes to as a reason for his dismissal. Especially after I pointed out to the Director that he started to go to meetings after being dosed on the job by an UnSub. My long time of going to the Beltway Clean Cops has been known to the Director, and I made him aware that I took Spencer under my wing when he started to go after being subjected to Dilaudid while on the job.”
“You…” Aaron looked at the AD and realized that he was Spencer’s sponsor. He was the person who Spencer saw when he needed help. Aaron realized that the AD had known about Spencer’s relationship with Aaron and had kept it a secret.
“I also fought it when Witness Protection wouldn’t allow you to take your partner. I told them that Lewis would just go after him. I had eyes on him here, but I wish I would have found a way to make sure that he had eyes on him during cases. I’ve worked tirelessly for three months to uncover all of this. The FBI is going to be going through a lot of changes.” The AD looked at the door that Spencer had gone though. “He would have done well inside the FBI in the years to come. He would have been my pick to take over the BAU when Prentiss left. We lost a good person.”
“I know.” Aaron stood up and moved to the door. He needed to talk to Spencer. There was a lot to say.
Healing took time, Aaron knew that and Spencer wasn’t just healing from having Jack and Aaron taken away from him. He was healing from losing faith in the FBI. He was recovering from his time in prison. Aaron kept his job at the law firm, willing to take cases that had nothing to do with defending criminals, which there were a lot of them for Aaron to take. Jack was enrolled in the same school he had been in. Aaron had been offered his place inside the FBI again, but he hadn’t wanted it. Aaron wouldn’t do that to Spencer. He wouldn’t make Spencer watch him leave on cases.
Spencer slept in the guest room, and Aaron was just thankful that he was willing to live with him and Jack. Spencer went every two weekends to Las Vegas to see his mother, while she still remembered him. Aaron hated the days that he was gone from them. Jack wasn’t entirely healed. He dreamed that Spencer did die on a regular enough basis that all three of them were in counseling. The FBI paid for Spencer’s as part of his retirement package. The FBI also was going to pay for Diana’s treatments as long as she was alive because of what had happened to Spencer. If Spencer had sued the FBI, he could have got a lot more, but it was worth it for the less stress of it all.
The house they lived in had been bought with some money from the both of them. Spencer hadn’t cared about what was purchased as long as it had a room that he could turn into a study/library. Aaron kind of hated that place. It’s where Spencer spent most of his time. Aaron worked some in his office but most of his time at home was spent with Jack and Spencer when Jack could convince him to come and watch a movie with him.
“Aaron?” Spencer called out as he entered Aaron’s office at the house. Aaron looked up to see him dressed in a soft pair of pajamas and a t-shirt. Aaron glanced at the clock on the wall to see that it was past ten. He hadn’t meant to work for so long.
“Yes, Spencer?” Aaron scooted back from the desk some as Spencer walked closer. Aaron watched him as he fought with himself about something. His eyes danced between Aaron and the chair in front of his desk. It was set so that Jack could sit in there and work on homework some nights. Decision made, Spencer moved around the desk. Aaron turned to face him as he stopped just in front of him. Aaron itched to reach out and touch him. He ached for it, but Spencer had flinched away from all of those touches since Aaron had come back into his life.
Spencer reached out his hands, and Aaron reached out as well. Spencer grabbed Aaron’s wrists but not to stop him. Spencer laid Aaron’s hands on his hips. Aaron couldn’t help himself as his fingers curled into flesh and held on tight. Aaron didn’t want to let go.
“Come to bed, Aaron.” Spencer reached out and pulled Aaron’s face up. Tilting it up so he could kiss it. He placed a kiss on Aaron’s forehead before he pressed kisses to Aaron’s eyes. “I miss sleeping in the same bed with you and tomorrow I have called you off of work already. I talked to your secretary, and she said that you are not in court tomorrow. So we are going to spend the day together once we drop Jack off at school.”
“Okay.” Aaron stood up and pulled Spencer close with his hands before letting going and wrapping them around Spencer’s shoulders. Spencer buried his face in Aaron’s neck, inhaling deep and sighing before he relaxed into him.
Healing took time and Aaron had all of the time in the world to make sure that Spencer healed.