The Dove

Title: The Dove
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Year: Season 11/12
Tags: Angst, Sequel
Ratings: Explicit
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner, Jack Hotchner, Peter Lewis, Karl Arnold,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 12
Summary: The escape of thirteen prisoners from all over the East Coast, changed the way the BAU operated but it also changed the lives of Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid, throwing them together again years after Hotch left the BAU and then the FBI in the aftermath of Haley’s death and Hotch’s own unthinkable actions against Reid. Now they have to rely on each other in ways that they never thought they would have to.
Words65,576
Notes: This is a sequel to Silverwrym’s The Raven. Wrote with permission.
Warnings: Discussion of Child Rape, Child Molestation, Child Abuse, Threats of Violence Against Children, Suicide of a Child, Pre-Teen Pregnancy,
Beta: rivermoon1970

And the lovely Banner Art for my story was made by Rigel99 and can be found HERE!

Part 1-The Albatross

Spencer Reid was never one for histrionics; he would rather be coolly calm than out of control because it got better results. He sat down in front of the board that he had convened to discuss what had taken place inside of the BAU bullpen just a day before. It had all moved quickly because there were thirteen serial killers on the loose. John was sitting at the helm of the brass and Spencer was sitting by his lonesome in a single chair in front of them. He crossed his legs, and he stared at them. He would wait for them to speak.

“Doctor Reid, you called us here, not the other way around,” John said.

“Yes, Sir but I was taught to wait until I was told to speak.” Spencer could see the shock on the face on every single face of the men and women in front of him. There was a small crack in the FBI facade on John’s face, but it didn’t last long at all.

“Go ahead,” John said with a serious look on his face.

“Why was the word of a serial killer with a marked vengeance to me taken without a full check of everything?” Spencer made sure that his body betrayed nothing. Not the anger that was filling his heart. He felt betrayed, and he wanted to make sure that those above him understood that nothing was going to stop him from finding out what had actually happened.

“That is being looked into,” one of the two women said. They hadn’t introduced themselves, but Spencer knew that he’d be able to get the names of the two women and two men that he didn’t know. If he needed to.

“It took Garcia twenty minutes to check the audio and figure out that it had been spliced together. A SWAT team invaded the bullpen of the BAU and took me into custody. There is no point in time where I resisted, and yet I was cuffed and lead out of the unit. I was not told what I was being held on until I stopped talking.”

“Terrorist threats have to be taken seriously,” the oldest male said.

“A warning that was given to the FBI by a man who hacked the FBI. Who spent decades plotting revenge against adults who were children at the time they committed the offense. He proved that he could do the impossible and yet the ability to make a fake license or even lay a false trail wasn’t even thought about. After Peter Lewis had dosed me, I went through every single Psych evaluation that was asked of me. I even made sure not to piss off the evaluators. When I was in an interrogation room, his drugging of me was brought up. I was tested for Dilaudid as well, which I find funny as I wasn’t tested for it after I was shot in the neck or shot in the knee, or my knee was re-injured by my then Unit Chief. So why was I tested yesterday?”

“Peter Lewis intonated that you had an addiction to it,” John said. His tone was calm and neutral, but Spencer could see the anger in his eyes. He didn’t like that it had been done.

“I work with profilers. If I had been addicted to drugs, they would know. Almost a decade has passed since Tobias Hankel injected me against my will in a misguided attempt to help me through his alter father’s torture of me.”

“We had to investigate every single allegation.”

“Made by a man out to get me? Who ended up using the FBI to make sure that he and twelve other serial killers escaped. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but yesterday the FBI was lead around by a string at the hands of a serial killer in jail. The BAU hates being played by serial killers, and thirteen of the worst we have ever had are now free. I wanted this meeting to figure out why I was taken into custody and to make sure that the BAU is going to be getting funding and human resources to ensure the killers are caught promptly.”

“That is being discussed.” The look that the youngest man got from John told Spencer that he was the only one fighting the BAU getting what it needed to find the killers that had escaped.

“There is another thing, Doctor Reid,” John said. He held up a picture. Spencer knew that face. “Karl Arnold, as you know, was one of the escapees. Agent Anderson was sent by you to look over his cell, and many disturbing things were found.”

“Yes?” Spencer asked. Anderson hadn’t reported to him yet, but given that Red Onion was six hours away, he really hadn’t expected anything until lunch. The man would need time to look over everything in the cell. An agent had been sent by him to every single cell of every single one of the thirteen escapees.

“Agent Anderson requested that you are to join him when he reported in while you were waiting for us, Agent Jareau had the information rushed to you, and I intercepted it.” John looked upset at what he had in his hand. “Arnold has a single target, and that is former Agent Aaron Hotchner, and his son, Jack. I will be meeting with WitSec later today to discuss his removal to a safe and secure location. Once you look at Arnold’s cell, please send an agent to talk to Mr. Hotchner to prepare him.”

“Of course. Mr. Hotchner is not going to like going into witness protection.” Spencer was sure that Rossi would be the agent that he would send.

“Few do, Doctor Reid. Few do. A helicopter will take you to Red Onion as soon as you are ready. I promise that the reason for you going into custody before anything was actually looked at will be investigated to it’s fullest. You have my word.” John stood up and moved around the table to hand over the file that JJ had rushed to him.

“Thank you. I want surveillance on my mother and former Agent Morgan and his family.”

“Agents in Vegas are already setting up guards on your mother’s facility, and Mr. Morgan has already been in contact with us. He will keep a close eye on his family, and if he feels that something more is needed, he will do it. Chicago PD is already starting drive-bys of the rest of the Morgan family.”

“Then I am done here?” Spencer asked as he stood up from the chair and straightened his vest.

“Yes, Doctor Reid,” John said, and he waved Spencer away. Spencer turned and left. He knew that the meeting was going to be short, but he wasn’t going to let them just sweep it all under the rug. There was plenty of steps that had been skipped before he was arrested, in his own damned bullpen. He had been Unit Chief for only a handful of months. His team would never look at him different for it but others might. It wasn’t the best thing to happen, and Spencer didn’t like it.

XxXxXxX

Karl Arnold’s cell had been a stomach turner. The guards had become lax in checking over his belongings, and it seemed that someone had been sending items to him for years about Jack Hotchner. There were pictures of the boy from long distance for each year of his life. The most disturbing though was the detailed journals of what Arnold wanted to do to Jack while his father watched. His MO had changed over the years. The prison was wont to do that to someone. Spencer knew why Anderson wanted him there as soon as he read over the first page of the last journal.

Spencer looked at the house that was in McLean. It seemed like the perfect home for Hotch. It was sedate but beautiful. Spencer reached down and rubbed at his knee. It had started to ache the moment that he had got into the SUV and had headed towards McLean. He knew that it was psychosomatic, but it didn’t stop it from hurting all the same. Spencer turned to look down the street. Of all the places that Hotch had to move to, it had to be five houses down from the place where Spencer’s knee had got shot in the first place. That was what had allowed Hotch to use his knee against him, to trap him in his own home and hurt him even more. He shivered and forced his gaze away. Spencer still woke up with a nightmare from that night on occasion.

There was evidence of Jack all over the yard, just like the other houses in the suburb. Spencer was in one of the Bureau SUVs because he knew that he wouldn’t be able to just get out and go to the door and knock. Hotch would get nervous with a vehicle out front of his house, but with it being a visibly recognizable bureau car, he hoped that Hotch wouldn’t exit the house with a gun.

The curtain on the front window moved every five minutes for the entire half an hour that Spencer was sitting outside of Hotch’s house. It wasn’t until the bus came down the block and let off a gaggle of eleven kids that the front door opened. Jack went running to the open door, and Hotch stepped up to stare at Spencer. The tinting on the windows and the position of the sun meant that Hotch didn’t know it was him but he would as soon as he left the vehicle.

Spencer inhaled and opened the door. He made sure his gun was on his hip, and he slid out of the seat. Hotch was still in the doorway, his face as unreadable at it ever was, but his body showed shock. Spencer moved towards the front door with purpose not letting his fear show. He timed his arrival so that Jack would be home. Morgan had forced him into therapy to deal with what had been a big betrayal, but it could only do so much without confronting his attacker. He’d never allowed anyone as close as Hotch had got to him.

“Doctor Reid,” Hotch said as Spencer got a few feet from the door.

“Hotch. May we speak inside?”

“Of course.” Hotch stepped back and waved for Spencer to enter. Spencer watched as he stepped farther back from the door than was socially acceptable for politeness. Spencer wasn’t sure if that was for his own benefit or to set Spencer at ease. “I am assuming that this is a professional visit?”

Spencer nodded and looked towards where Jack was seated at the kitchen table, it looked like he was working on homework. He took a seat that gave him a view of the boy and his father and gave him two exits, unhindered. Hotch took a seat in a chair that showed a lot of use.

“You have no case files.”

“Case files are not needed for this. What do you know about what happened last night?”

“Not much. Thirteen men escaped from various prisons in the Virginia area.”

“The FBI is managing what is being released. All thirteen men were put in jail by the BAU, serial killers by name. The orchestrator escaped as well with his eye on an individual person. However, the reason that I am here is the last name that was unaccounted for. He escaped from Red Onion with a single target in mind.”

“Who?” Hotch asked, his voice calm.

“Who escaped or who is the target?” Spencer asked.

“Who is the target?” Hotch asked, his voice showing weakness. Spencer didn’t answer verbally. Instead, he looked in towards the kitchen.

“Arnold,” Hotch said.

“Yes. You and Jack are being placed in Witness Protection. I came instead of Rossi because he would let you talk him out of it. I am more than willing to send Jack alone into Witness Protection to protect him if your pride gets in the way.”

“You are more than willing?” Aaron asked.

“Has Rossi not told you who the new Unit Chief is after Morgan left?” Spencer asked. He assumed that Rossi told Hotch everything big inside the unit. Spencer knew that they kept in contact. Rossi never talked about Hotch when Reid was around, but he had heard snippets of things when JJ or even Garcia asked about Jack.

“Every time I ask, he starts to talk about his new book. I figured that it was someone upsetting, so I dropped it. I stay away from anything related to the BAU in my day to day life. I knew though that Morgan had retired.”

“Mateo Cruz only put forth a single name when Morgan made it known that he was leaving and I was the only one that fought him. I didn’t want the job, but I took it to stop someone else from coming in.”

“You?” Hotch asked, but he didn’t sound upset. There was pride. That same pride that Spencer had seen on his face when Spencer had forced him out of the BAU. The feeling of satisfaction that a mentor got for their underling. “That’s why Dave has been so secretive about it. I’m glad for you.”

“I think that when the AD told me to send someone to talk to you he thought I was going to send Rossi. I do not know what the plans are but you will be going into Quantico. Whether you go with me or I can send for an agent is up to you.”

“I won’t force my presence on you if you don’t want it.”

“I wouldn’t have offered, Hotch if I didn’t want to do it.”

Hotch just stared at Spencer, but Spencer didn’t look away. Not until the sound of bare feet on hardwood floor told him that Jack was entering the living room.

“Dad?”

“Yes, Jack.”

Jack stopped at Spencer’s side of the couch and stared at him.

“I remember you,” Jack said as he stared at Spencer’s face. He looked so much like his father that it was eery to get the Hotchner stare from a ten-year-old. “From before. You used to do magic tricks when I was younger.”

“Jack, this is Spencer Reid. Yes, he was a member of my team at the BAU.”

“Doctor Reid.”

“Yes,” Spencer said.

Jack looked at Spencer, and then he looked at his father. He looked back at Spencer and frowned. “Something bad happened didn’t it?”

“Yes,” Hotch said. He reached out and turned Jack to face him. “We have to go away for a while. Me and you.”

“What about Grandpa and Aunt Jess?”

“They will be watched. Given what is wrong with your grandfather, the decision was made to keep him where he is. The AD is willing to have an agent undercover in Miss Brooks’s life, either as a tenant in her building or as a boyfriend who moves in with her. She is being contacted to come in at this moment.”

“Should I go pack a go bag, Dad?” Jack asked.

“Yes, buddy. But don’t pack more than two outfits. Pack things that you can’t live without.”

“Like the picture book?”

“Yes. Go. Doctor Reid and I need to talk, just us adults.”

“Yes, Dad.” Jack turned and looked at Spencer for a few seconds before he turned away and headed up the stairs. As soon as Spencer was sure that he was far enough away, he looked at Hotch.

“You know that WitSec isn’t going to let any pictures go with you.”

“They will let his picture book go with him.” Hotch’s tone was hard, and Spencer remembered when it used to scare him.

“Don’t try and fight me on that. I’m just doing the notification.”

“What evidence is there?”

“Credible threats and graphic images. He had pictures of Jack and wrote everything that he wants to do to him in front of you. Prison has only turned him into a worse offender. I will not let you read the journals. Anderson threw up reading just the first page.”

“But you read them all.”

“It’s my curse, isn’t it? To read and remember the worst of what humanity does to each other?” Spencer turned his words bitter at the end of it. Reminding Hotch of what Spencer could never forget about him. Hotch looked away from him, and Spencer could read the guilt on his face. That same damned guilt that had been on his face that day in the BAU. Hotch’s last day inside of the BAU.

“Jack and I will be ready to leave in half an hour. I am assuming that WitSec will come in and take care of the house?”

“Do you want it mothballed or stripped and sold?”

“Sold is fine. We’ve only been here six months. No attachment has formed. I would rather not chance Arnold coming here to try and find something of ours to use against us. I will take my guns into Quantico.”

“I’m sure Rossi will watch them. WitSec will get you guns registered to the name you will be given. I don’t think that they want a background check run on you to get a gun, just to be safe.”

“I am sure that they don’t. There is coffee in the kitchen if you want a cup while Jack and I pack.”

Spencer nodded but didn’t move. He watched Hotch as the man walked into the small office and the sound of rustling was heard. Spencer stayed still until the other man finally went up the stairs with a briefcase in hand. When Hotch got to the top of the stairs, Spencer went to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. He found it odd to have a sugar bowl by the coffee pot. Hotch never took sugar in his coffee. Cream was rare and only in stations where the coffee was too bitter. But both cream and sugar were sitting there beside the coffee pot, and by the levels, both were used. Spencer made his cup his way and then moved back into the living room. He tried to find the other person in Hotch’s life. Signs of them anywhere but there was none.

Hotch was the first one down the stairs with a go bag and his briefcase.

“If you need to have someone else taken with you, you need to speak up now,” Spencer said. Hotch looked at him funny for a few seconds.

“Why would you say that?”

“The cream and sugar by the coffee pot.”

“The neighbor that watches Jack after school three times a week uses both.” There was a lie somewhere in that statement, but Spencer wasn’t going to press it. Whoever she was, she wasn’t someone Hotch wanted with him in hiding.

“I’m ready,” Jack declared as he came down he stairs. He just had a single backpack, and it didn’t look too stuffed.

Spencer drained his coffee and moved to the kitchen to wash out the cup. There were no other dishes, so he washed the coffee carafe as well after dumping it. Hotch was waiting by the door with it open for him when Spencer came back into the living room. Spencer slipped by him, staying as far as he could. Jack was waiting at the edge of the sidewalk with his bag slung over his shoulder. Spencer moved fast to unlock the SUV. He slid into the front seat and started it. Hotch settled Jack into the backseat before he climbed into the front.

There was silence for the entire trip from McLean to Quantico. Spencer barely looked at Hotch as he drove but he could feel Hotch’s eyes on him from time to time. Rossi was waiting for him inside of the parking garage.

“Uncle Dave!” Jack yelled as he opened the door as soon as Spencer killed the engine. He unbuckled himself and took off at a run towards Rossi. The look on his face said that he was shocked to see Spencer arriving with Hotch and Jack in tow.

“WitSec is waiting to talk to you, Aaron. I figured that I would keep Jack occupied.”

“I can’t stay with Doctor Reid?” Jack asked.

Spencer looked at the boy in shock.

“Doctor Reid has someone that he needs to meet with as well,” Rossi said. His tone was that he knew something that would piss Spencer off and didn’t want to be the one to tell him. Spencer looked at the older agent with a frown on his face. Something was going on, and Spencer didn’t like it. “Reid, if you would go with Aaron to your office. Everything will be explained there. Jack and I are going to go to the round table room.”

Part 2-The Heron

Aaron Hotchner had never felt so cold as he did the moment that he realized who was exiting the SUV in front of his house. Aaron knew that for him to be the one to come, it had to be bad. As far as he knew, Spencer Reid had never uttered his name again or thought of him after what had happened.

Following Reid into the offices where they used to work together was like stepping back in time. He got to see Reid as he was now and there was little that remained of the bright-eyed genius who had followed Gideon into the bullpen over a decade ago. Jack and Dave were chattering behind them as they walked. As soon as they cleared the glass doors, Jack and Dave turned to head up into the conference room. The last time Jack had been in there was right after Foyet had killed Haley. Reid had spent two hours entertaining Jack with magic while Aaron had gone over his statement time and again. It was the part that always made Aaron feel the most ashamed. Reid had done something that was so out of character for the young man, just to make Jack smile and a short time later, Aaron had attacked him.

“Hotch, this is our current Section Chief, Mateo Cruz,” Reid said as Aaron entered behind him into the office. “And you remember AD John Richmond.”

“Sirs,” Aaron said, nodding his head at them both.

“This is May Whittaker from Witness Protection. She has been working on your covers since last night.”

“Last night?” Aaron asked.

“There have been a few developments since Doctor Reid went to Red Onion. He went right from there to your house, Hotch,” Cruz said. Cruz waved for them to sit down. Aaron took the seat farthest from where he watched Reid take a seat. Richmond was sitting on Reid’s side of the desk but away from him. Aaron could see a stack of books that kind of turned the desk into a no-go zone. There was a path that allowed Reid to get to his chair and that was it. “Reid, security is already tightened at your mother’s institution and Morgan is allowing the DOJ to refit his house and Savannah’s hospital has been notified as well.”

“Rossi said that I needed to be here as well. If that is all, I have a lot of work that I need to do.” Reid stood up, and Cruz cleared his throat. Aaron had never met the man, but he didn’t seem all that intimidating. Reid just looked at Cruz with a near blank look on his face.

“Sit down, Doctor Reid.”

“Sir.” Reid sat down, and he leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs, and staring ahead at nothing. Aaron was sure that those two butted heads a great deal. He didn’t envy Cruz at all for the man that Aaron was sure Reid had become. Aaron had shaped him, long before his ill deeds, to never back down.

“Mr. Hotchner,” Whittaker said, and Aaron turned from Reid and looked at her. “I know that none of this is what you probably want but the man after you-.”

“Men,” Reid interjected.

“What?”

“Men. While Arnold is the one after Jack and Hotch, Peter Lewis is the one that actually turned him loose. Lewis is going to want maximum chaos, so he will help Arnold find Hotch.”

“Yes, well…” Whittaker looked at a loss for words.

“What did Reid tell you of Lewis?” Cruz turned and asked Hotch.

“Not a lot. I more or less knew that something big had happened when it was Reid who stepped out of the SUV. I went with what he wanted.”

“Lewis drugged his victims and had them kill those precious to them. He had a vendetta against them from something they did when they were a child. His last victim was in Witness Protection, and he hacked and found her. All files about this will only be on paper and inside of my office,” Cruz said.

“Why your office?”

“Because to get into Quantico is a lot harder than the main offices in DC. Once WitSec has created your profiles, all traces will be deleted by NSA. Once you go into WitSec, there will be no contacts. There will be no handler. No one will know where you are going. My own file will be secured, and I will only open it if something horrible happens. You will be on your own.”

“That’s a lot of protection for just me and Jack.”

“There will be a third person with you,” Cruz said. His eyes darted to Reid. Aaron nearly swallowed his tongue. Reid though hadn’t seen it. Cruz looked at Reid and cleared his throat. He started to talk when Reid looked at him. “Agents Jareau and Brannon were the ones you sent to Lewis’s cell.”

“Yes?”

“Your mother is being moved to a high-security wing inside of Bennington. Unless you are there in person, no changes will be made to her routine, her medicine, nothing. Peter Lewis hated you, Reid and he wants to destroy you.”

“No more than he wanted to destroy the lives of those he drugged. Thankfully, the only weak point is my mother.”

“And your Godson,” Aaron said before he could even realize what he was saying.

“Doctor Reid,” Richmond said, and Reid looked over at him. There was a fond look in Richmond’s eyes that was out of place for where they were. Aaron wondered what that meant. “You will be going into Witness Protection as well. We hope that hiding you will force Lewis into doing something drastic like hacking the DOJ again or even setting up an incursion into the BAU. We don’t want to give him what he wants, and that means taking you out of play.”

“Where will you be sending me?”

Richmond pulled a piece of paper out of a file and slid it across the table towards Reid. The younger man’s eyes darted across the paper, and he gasped, looking up at Richmond.

“Read it all, Doctor Reid,” Whittaker said.

“He did,” Aaron, Richmond, and Cruz all said at the same time. Cruz laughed a little while Richmond smiled.

“Doctor Reid, you will be doing this.”

“You can’t force me,” Reid said.

“Yes. We will. I will blackmail you until you hate me worse than Lewis,” Richmond said. Reid frowned at him. “Do you want Agent Jareau to have to go home and tell Henry that you are dead?”

Reid didn’t answer him instead he slid the paper over to Aaron and stared at him. Aaron picked up the paper and started to read. They weren’t just sending Reid into WitSec with Jack and Aaron, they were sending them as a family, a gay, married family. That was never going to work.

“Have you read the situation of what kind of identification they are giving us?” Aaron asked, trying not to sound like he was freaking out because he was.

“Yes. I approved it. Lewis isn’t going to look for a homosexual couple. The cover is that Haley was your wife and she died in childbirth. Photos of Haley and Hotch will be allowed but none of a child Jack with her. Those Rossi will keep safely. The plans are to sell the house and put it all in a trust. Hopefully, you’ll have more money than when you go in. Your accounts will be drained and frozen. There is no agency inside of the United States that wants this man to go free for long. In that interest, many have pooled funds. MI6 is even pitching in. There was something about an agent using five million of ours funds to take out a terrorist and the funds were finally recovered so the CIA was paid back and MI6’s Quartermaster has been trying to track Lewis since he escaped and he’s pissed, so their leader is sending over some money as well.”

“You two will be instilled as a family, Doctor Reid will be the breadwinner as it’s called, having become an overnight millionaire and kept playing the game and now he wants out. The land is already picked out. Your entire past is being created as we speak by our best hacker. By the time that tomorrow morning comes around, it’ll be like you three always existed. For now, all three of you will be here. The hacker is in Rossi’s office, and you two will help create the full backgrounds for the three of you.”

“May we speak alone, Sir?” Reid asked, looking at Richmond.

“Agent Whittaker, thank you. This part of the conversation you are not needed for.”

“I-”

“It’s private business, Agent Whittaker,” Richmond said, his tone leaving no room for arguments. The female agent stood up and took leave of the office, shutting the door as she did.

“What is wrong? The profiles for both Hotch and you, Reid are that you are open.” Cruz looked flummoxed. Aaron was left to believe that he didn’t know what had happened.

“You knew when you stepped into this office after the death of Erin Strauss that you were getting a live wire, Mateo,” Richmond said.

“Yes. After the faked death of Emily Prentiss.”

“No. Before that. Everyone in the agency knows what happened to Haley Hotchner, but not everyone knows the real fallout of that.”

“What do you mean? It caused Agent Hotchner to leave.”

“No. I did,” Reid said, his tone cold.

“What?”

“I forced Hotch out of his job.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What Reid means is that he gave me two options, I could quietly take the place in White Collar crimes as I had been offered a few years before or I could fight it and have what I did to him dragged through a disciplinary process.”

“And what did you do?” Cruz asked.

“I got so drunk that I attacked Reid in his own home and reinjured his knee that was healing, on purpose.”

“Why?”

“Because I blamed him for the death of my ex-wife.”

“I’m not needed for the rest of this. I need to get my team straightened out and get everything ready. I also need to write to my mother. So please leave. Hotch, I don’t care what you come up with as backstories. I’ll be able to remember it all so do whatever you like.”

Aaron wanted to fight it, but he could tell by the look on Reid’s face that he was done. He was so done with everything, and he needed space.

“Sure, Reid. I’ll go do that.” Aaron stood up from his seat, and he looked around the office a little. It had been his office so long before, but everything in it was changed. It didn’t look like his old office at all. The walls were a dark shade of purple, and the bookshelves were all white. There were books on every single subject lining the walls. The only personal pictures that Aaron could see were the ones of Reid and his mother and a few of Reid and Henry. He was smiling in all of them. There was even one of what looked like Henry dressed up as Reid for Halloween. Aaron didn’t know what to do so he did what Reid wanted him to.

XxXxXxX

Spencer sat at his desk, looking at the letter he had penned for his mother and the one he wrote for Doctor Norman. He had them both sitting in front of him. He wanted to talk to JJ and have her take them to Doctor Norman and his mom. Spencer had taken Henry to see Vegas just a few months before, while JJ’s mom had Michael. Spencer had visited his mom as well, and Henry had been a perfect angel. His mom had fallen in love with Henry just as much as Spencer had the first time he had held the boy. It had been a good weekend long trip for him.

John was going to protect him no matter what, and Spencer knew that it meant knocking him out and having him wake up wherever the fuck they were dropped. Once there, he couldn’t leave or risk Hotch and Jack. Spencer might hate Hotch, but Spencer would never risk Jack. John knew more than anyone else in the world about what he had gone through in the aftermath of Hotch’s attack on him. The man had not let Spencer bury what happened to him. He was forced to go through it all.

Spencer had been compelled to walk through everything that Hotch had said to him, with John in his house. John had recorded it and then had even typed it out so that Spencer wouldn’t have to hear his own voice repeating it back. John had forced him to see that it wasn’t a failing on his part but an overall failing on the entire team’s part. On the Bureau as a whole. No one had questioned the medications. The team as a whole failed or succeeded.

“Spence?” JJ asked as she opened the door and stepped in. She shut it, and the look on her face told Spencer that she knew at least a little bit. Spencer pushed himself back from his desk and sighed.

“Can you and Morgan take care of my place? I don’t want to loose it. I love my house.”

“Yes. We will pull your things from storage and put them in the basement like you have wanted to do for three years.” JJ stepped around his piles of books and sat down on the edge of his desk, facing him. “I can see if any of my friends from the State Department will correct this.”

“AD Richmond has all but blackmailed me into this.”

“Why does he care so much, Spence? Rossi said that he was pissed when he figured out you were a target.”

“You know the things that no one ever asks me directly about, but everyone was afraid of after Hotch attacked me?”

“You said your sponsor was watching you closely.”

“Yeah. How better than to watch me like a hawk while I am at work and even follow on a few cases.”

“Richmond?”

“Yes. Richmond approached me at my first meeting, and it spiraled from there. ”

“Do you still have your anxiety pills? I can get a fill on it before you leave.”

“I have a full one at home, but I doubt they are going to let me take it with me. That could get me on illegal drug possession.” Spencer opened up his junk drawer on his desk. It was neat and tidy but had non-work related things in it. He handed over an envelope. “This is the tickets to that weekly science program that I was going to take Henry to. There are three tickets to each event. All age tickets. Michael won’t count. I want to be here, JJ to catch him. He’s smart but I am smarter, and I’m scared he will hurt you guys.”

“Look, I’m going to call a few of your friends from within the FBI. What do you think about Epps and his brother coming onto the team? Charlie is smart enough, isn’t he? To be what we need?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ll tell him the truth that you are in hiding, and you only trust him to get you out. Prentiss will watch over us while you are in hiding.”

“Why are they putting me with Hotch? Why can’t I just hide Minnesota in a small town and be a loner?”

JJ looked like she wanted to touch but she didn’t reach out. He had not taken well to anyone touching him in the aftermath of what had happened. Morgan got away with more, but even JJ never touched him unless he touched her first.

“I know that he isn’t fucking up my life this time that it’s Peter Lewis but fuck if it doesn’t feel like he is as well. Our cover is husbands, JJ. I have to act like I love a man that I would rather never see again and be a parent to a child that I’ve not seen in six years. According to our cover, we have been together since Jack was six months old.”

“You’ll do it, Spencer, because you have to. I have faith in you not to kill Hotch in his sleep.”

“I am not sharing a bed with him. I don’t care if the house is only a two bedroom. I’ll sleep on the couch. This is so rushed, and there is so much back end stuff that is going to have to erased.”

There was a knock on the door, and Spencer looked up as he called for them to enter. A man he had never seen before stepped inside. JJ though startled.

“Miss JJ, Miss Penny sent me to fetch a Boy Wonder?”

“Spencer this is Filipe. He is the man that does Penelope and I’s hair. I think that he is going to be taking care of your hair.”

“Yes. And someone that Miss Penny called Mr. Hard Ass Asshole.” Filipe smiled at the words.

“Let’s get this over with.”

“Spence, Kate’s back, Prentiss is coming back. We are all going to be in good hands. Don’t worry about us. Just focus on you. We will be here when Peter Lewis is put away, and you can come back,” JJ said, and the smile on her lips and the surety in her eyes made Spencer believe that she believed it. He just wished that he did. Spencer wanted to believe that he was going to come back from it all, but there was too much doubt. Spencer would have no one to rely on and no one he could trust with him while he was in hiding. He didn’t trust Hotch to protect him at all.

XxXxXxX

Aaron settled into the conference room but this time no one was in there. Jack was getting his makeover, and then Reid would be. There wasn’t a lot that could be done to his hair, so they changed the style as he had refused to have it colored. He had a thin pair of glasses on the table in front of him. He only occasionally needed reading glasses, so he was used to wearing them. The lenses were faked. He had overheard Garcia sending Lynch to a one-hour glasses shop with a pair of Reid’s glasses and having them put into a different pair of frames. There was so much going on around him, but all he cared about was that he would be able to prove to Reid that he had changed. He would be able to use the time that they couldn’t get away from each other to tell him everything that he had been denied being allowed to say six years before.

This was his second chance at making it up to the genius, and he wasn’t going to waste it.

Part 3-The Grosbeak

There wasn’t much to stay about the location that they were being left at other than calling it Hell. Spencer looked at the horse farm that had been bought in the names of their now assumed identities. Spencer hadn’t thought it odd picking up two SUVs in Columbus when their plane from northern California had landed in the capital of Ohio. He knew that they were headed for an area of the southern part of the state that a four wheel drive vehicle wasn’t a stupid thing to need. Seeing the location that the GPS had taken them to, if there was snow on the ground, it was going to be hard to get out in anything less than an SUV.

“Cool,” Jack said from the backseat of Spencer’s SUV. Jack had wanted to ride with him because his SUV was purple. Which was Jack’s favorite color it seemed. Hotch had been bought a dark green one. The vehicles had been purchased and paid for five days before, by WitSec. They already had their Ohio Driver’s licenses and everything they needed to assume their fake identities.

“Yeah, cool,” Spencer said back.

Hotch took the lead into the driveway of the farm, and Spencer followed him. Everything on the farm looked to be in good condition. The house was beautiful and had a wrap around porch.

“Dad grew up around horses. He was going to see about getting me lessons soon. We have the room, I want to buy a horse.”

“You’ll have to talk to your father about that.”

“Why don’t you say his name?” Jack asked as Spencer put the SUV in park. Jack unbuckled himself and leaned up between the front seats. Spencer turned and pulled his body as far away from Jack as he could. “You haven’t called him Hotch or Aaron or even his new name at all.”

Spencer was saved answering by Hotch opening the door to the back seat and peering in at Jack.

“You can look around but stay in either Reid or I’s line of sight.”

Jack looked at Spencer one last time before jumping out of the SUV and taking off to the edge of the line of trees that marked the driveway.

“Why the hell did WitSec pick here?” Spencer asked Hotch. The first real thing that he had said to Hotch since they had left Quantico.

“They picked the location and found a list of houses. This was the most remote, largest land, and there is no line of sight from the neighbors.”

“Tactically sound except for the distance.”

“Barlow is not that far, and Belpre is just a little past it. We are in range of several major roads that can take us to several different cities. You said you didn’t care, so I picked a place where neighbors weren’t going to gawk at the homosexual couple and talk about how we act around each other in our own home and on our own land. There are two bedrooms on the top floor as well an office and a bedroom on the ground floor. There is also two finished rooms in the basement. I don’t care which set you pick.”

“Basement.” Spencer looked at the two moving pods that were off to the side of the house. It had their things like new mattresses and some clothes. Enough to get them through until they were able to shop for more. It was also where their guns were. Hotch had kept up on all his weapon qualifications even though he took retirement after six months at White Collar Crimes. There were five guns in total in the crate. A sniper rifle for Hotch, a main handgun, and a backup for him, a revolver for Spencer, and a regular shotgun as well. Given where they were going to be living until Arnold and Lewis were caught, he understood the shotgun better.

“I don’t think the shipping pods are separated. Why don’t we look around and then call Jack so he can take care of his room?”

“Sure.” Spencer pulled out the keys from his pocket that he had been given that was supposed to work on the locks on the pods. He opened the first one and looked inside. It mainly had the bulk of furniture that had not been furnished in the house. He hoped it didn’t take long at all to set up and then he could hide away in his room.

There were no groceries in the house, and Spencer wasn’t hungry when they finished setting up the bedrooms as much as they could. Spencer had his mattresses on the floor, and he really didn’t care if a frame was bought. The whole of the basement was broken into two rooms. There was the first that was open right from the steps but the second was behind a door, so Spencer chose that as his bedroom. There was a lock already on the door, and there was no way to unlock it from the outside. He was putting away a few his clothes that he wasn’t going to wear the next day.

Hotch and Jack were headed to get pizza from a place called Jukebox. Spencer was trying to figure a way to get out of eating but he hadn’t eaten a big breakfast at the restaurant in Columbus and lunch had been gas station turkey sandwiches, and Spencer had decided not to eat any of that. Hotch wasn’t going to let him get out of eating.

“Spencer?” Jack called out from the door.

Spencer didn’t answer.

“Dad said that I needed to tell you that dinner was here. And that he got pepperoni, pineapple, and green pepper pizza.”

Spencer sighed and pushed himself up off the bed. He moved to the door and unlocked it before opening it. Jack was standing there with a smile on his face. Spencer couldn’t help but smile back. Hotch was going to use Jack to try and get him to be sociable, and it would win because Spencer couldn’t be mean to him or ignore him it seemed.

“Lead the way,” Spencer said to Jack, and the boy turned on his heel and moved to the stairs that led into the house proper. The kitchen had already been stocked with everything needed. The house and land had been in the same family’s hands for generations, but when the parents died, the children hadn’t wanted it at all, so they sold off the house and all contents. The house had an updated kitchen, all the toys that made cooking easy and an island in the middle that could be used for food prep or eating. There had been four stools tucked underneath. Spencer moved to the pizza box and grabbed two slices as well as a can of soda, not caring which one he grabbed.

Hotch was leaning against the counter opposite from where Spencer took a seat on a stool. Jack had been doing what Hotch did all day, so Spencer expected him to either take a seat on a stool close to his father or stand beside him, not drag a stool close to where Spencer was sitting.

“You have Dad’s old job?” Jack asked.

“Yes.” Spencer had hoped that Jack would be out of the questions phase of his childhood.

“Do you like it?”

“I’ve not worked at it long enough for an opinion to form.”

“I remember you.”

“You said that the day I visited you at the house.”

“Your first name is Spencer right?”

“Not anymore. It’s Arthur.”

Jack looked at him like he was being stupid.

“Yes, my first name is Spencer.”

“After Dad left his job and went to the one that depressed him but before he retired he used to wake up screaming the name Spencer.”

Spencer looked up at Hotch to see the man staring at him.

“Jack,” Hotch said his tone a little sharp.

“You would never tell me about it other than something bad had happened. I remember you telling me that Reid never lied so I figured that if I asked him what happened, he’d tell me.”

“What do you remember about that time, Jack? Other than your mother died.” Hotch set his pizza down, grabbed a stool, and sat down just close enough to both Spencer and Jack that he could look them both in the face.

“I know that Uncle Dave was upset at you for a while. He never told me why either, said that it was nothing to do with me and it was an adult thing.”

“And?”

“You dumped all the weird bottles that you kept in that one cabinet.”

“Yes. I did. Do you remember why I told you I got rid of them?”

“You said they made you sick.”

Spencer snorted and looked at Jack. Jack looked between them before his eyes settled on his father. “I am not needed for this, and it really doesn’t concern me at all.” Spencer grabbed his plate and his soda, standing up but before he could get all the way up, Jack reached out and grabbed his arm. Spencer looked down at the hand on his arm.

“But, it has a great deal to do with you, Reid.” Hotch’s voice was soft.

Spencer sat back down. He ate by rote. Not paying much attention to the two Hotchner men that were around him.

“I was not in a good place mentally, Jack, in the aftermath of your mother’s death. I blamed anyone and everyone so that I didn’t have to blame myself. How could I look at you day after day and have that guilt inside of myself? I picked the most vulnerable person on the team, and I focused on him. I picked apart everything that he did and didn’t do and focused all of my rage at the world on him. I went to a bar, and I got drunk. Alcohol is called Dutch Courage, but I didn’t need that. I ended up walking to Reid’s apartment because he was close to where I had been drinking. He let me in because he had no fear of me. By the time that I left, I had hurt him physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is why I left the BAU, it’s why I eventually left the FBI because he was right about one thing. I didn’t care about him. I never would have done what I did if I actually had cared for him. I saw Reid as a tool to getting my job done better and faster. I left the BAU because he was right to never trust me again with anything. It was one of the reasons that I left. If Reid couldn’t trust in me again, no one on the team would either. It was better I left.”

“Why did you retire later?” Jack asked.

“I didn’t trust myself. Reid was right that I had to focus on you. So that’s what I did. I focused everything on you.”

“Why did they stick us together?” Jack asked.

“Strength in numbers.”

“The AD loves drama. I would have been happy to hide in a cabin in the woods.” Reid wasn’t going to pull his punches, even around jack.

“The AD was right that they aren’t going to look for us together,” Hotch pointed out. Spencer shrugged. The tactics of it had been sound, but that didn’t mean that he had to like it. He’d just set himself up as a hermit except for his “family.” Spencer set his crust down on the plate and picked up his last piece of pizza. “While the full details of what happened were concealed from even Strauss and later Cruz, I am sure that Lewis knows that something happened. Your knee being reinjured all of a sudden and me taking leave of the BAU happened too close for it not to be related.”

“By why…husbands. Why couldn’t he have been an uncle or something like that.”

“Because no one would think that I would ever do it. That’s why,” Spencer said. He stood up, cleaning up his spot at the island before moving to the trash. Spencer washed his hands, feeling gazes on him as he did. No one stopped him when he moved to the basement stairs and went down.

XxXxXxX

Aaron settled into his bedroom, looking at the bed and sighing. He was already dressed for bed, but he knew that sleep wouldn’t come. He had no clue what to do about Reid. There was no way that they would be able to fake a relationship at the moment. Thankfully the area was pretty remote, so hopefully, there was no looky loo’s to come around. Jack had been pulled from school early for the year, and the records for him as John Abbey stated that he was homeschooled. Aaron hadn’t decided what he was going to do about that. It was another thing that needed to be discussed with Reid. Reid’s identity as Arthur Abbey, Arthur Harrison before he had married Aaron, was that he had been immersed in the tech world. Several of his ideas had been profitable. He had sold it all and the whole family had moved away from it all. Aaron had been a lawyer in California. He was going to be teaching at a local community college come the fall. Washington State Community College seemed like a good school. It would be laid back for Aaron, which was good as he was used to just taking cases as he wanted them at a firm back in DC. It had kept his brain active and stopped him from going insane from not being in the FBI.

Jack knocked on the door before opening it. It had been cracked, so Jack knew that he was allowed to enter.

“What’s up, buddy?” Aaron asked as Jack just looked at him.

“I remember you acting a lot different for a while after you left the FBI. Aunt Jessica would watch me every Tuesday and Thursday night until the morning.”

“I was seeing a therapist. Getting control of my issues and working through them. I wouldn’t sleep those nights and instead spent them wandering around DC. For seven months I went to those sessions, and for seven months of walking around, I ended up at the same place each night. Outside of Reid’s apartment. He wasn’t there the whole time, but I stood out there, outside of it for hours before leaving just as dawn hit. It’s why I always was run down the day after. It took me seven months to fully accept what I had done to him. It was years before I fully let the guilt go and stopped punishing myself.”

“But you haven’t.”

“No, Jack I have. The guilt lives inside of me, but I’ve let it go. I don’t let it lead my life anymore. The changes it wrought in me will stay.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I won’t force Reid to talk to me. He seems willing to talk to you.”

“What do you want me to do?” Jack asked.

“Nothing, Jack. I won’t deceive him. I hope that time will wear him down and he’ll talk to me.”

“How can you live with him and not talk to him?”

“I won’t force him. That will only make him hate me more. I don’t know the man standing in front of me. He is a stranger, shaped by what I did. He’s just as likely to walk away from us and never come back if I push him and then I’ll never have my chance to tell him how sorry I am. I just have to hope. Hope is all I have left.”

XxXxXxX

Two weeks went by before Aaron saw Reid again, more than in passing. The younger man disappeared every morning and came back right after dinner, going into the basement before anyone could see him. He always left a note of where he was going and what time he expected to come back. Some days he was early, some he was late. Aaron had taken Jack shopping for clothes and picked up a few things for himself. Reid was taking care of the groceries. A notepad left on the fridge with a note to write down what they wanted and he’d get it.

Jack was back on the farm, alone, while Aaron made a quick run into Belpre to hit the hardware store before it closed. He saw the library when he drove past it and vowed to stop after he got the washer needed to fix the sink.

The in and out at the store was easy, and Aaron checked the times at the door of the library and was happy to see that it was one of the late nights. He’d get a card and then bring Jack to get one as well.

Aaron stepped inside the library and saw that it was small, just like he thought but perfect for the town. He found an excellent selection of new books and a big kids section for Jack’s reading level as well as a teen section, which Jack was reading some things from. Generally, after Aaron had given him the okay after looking at reviews.

“You are the perfect definition of tall, dark, and handsome,” a female voice said. Aaron turned to the side to look at the woman who spoke, and he found a woman who looked like she should have been close to his age, but her botox and other cosmetic enhancements made her seem younger. It was hard not to profile her and Aaron knew that even though they both had rings on their fingers, she wasn’t going to give up. He was fresh meat, and she was a shark. “Did I catch your tongue?”

“No. It’s just been a long time since anyone has hit on me in such a clear manner that I’m a bit shocked.” Aaron hoped she’d back off, but all she did was move closer. Aaron tried to take a step back, but there was a table in his way.

“Do you always hit on men who are wearing wedding rings?” Reid asked as he stepped up behind Aaron. Aaron had to turn to see him, the younger man was just on the other side of the table. The woman turned her head to look at Reid, and the look that she gave him said that she recognized him.

“Do you always invite yourself into a conversation you are not a part of?” the woman asked.

“Just when someone is hitting on my husband, and he’s too polite to tell them to fuck off. It’s the gentlemen in him.” Reid smiled, but it wasn’t a friendly smile at all. Aaron had never seen him smile like that. It sent a chill down his spine. “I like that in him. So proper in public.”

The woman looked at Aaron with a frown, but she didn’t leave. She looked like she didn’t believe Reid. Aaron slipped between her and the table, going right to Reid’s side and wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Aaron wasn’t sure what to expect from the genius, but a hand around his back, wrapping a hand around his hip in a possessive manner wasn’t it. The woman’s eyeballs bugged out of her head, and she turned and left.

“I was shocked to see you come in here,” Reid said lowly.

“I’m not shocked you were here. Is this the closest library?”

“No. Well, technically from home Barlow is closest but I’ve already read all of the things there.”

“There is a library in Barlow? How did I miss it?”

“It’s outside sign isn’t digital like this one.” Reid seemed to realize that he and Aaron were still touching because he pulled away, under the guise of going to look at the graphic novels on the other side of the table but Aaron knew that Reid wasn’t into them that much. “The head librarian saw the picture that Garcia had made of us in my wallet when I checked out yesterday. She saw you come in and recognized you. I was back in the corner looking at books.”

“Arthur,” Aaron said, the name sounding so wrong on his lips.

“I’m almost done,” Reid said, acting like he hadn’t heard his fake name on Aaron’s lips. “So, I’ll see you at home?”

“Sure. Tomorrow, why don’t we all go to the Barlow Library? As a family?” Aaron asked, hating himself for wanting to be out with the younger man, forcing him to be kind to him. But they needed it. Jack needed to know how to act around Reid and Reid needed to learn how to act around Jack.

“Johnnie will love that,” Reid said with a smile. Aaron stepped up to him, cupping the side of his face and putting a sappy smile on his lips. Reid smiled back and that smile, Aaron knew. It was the one that baby Henry had got the first time Reid had held him. Aaron would take that smile.

Aaron left the library, getting into his SUV and driving home. Jack was still sitting on the porch reading a book that he had found in the living room, it had to have been one that Reid had gotten from the library as it was a kids book.

“Dad?” Jack asked.

“I stopped at the library in Belpre. Tomorrow, we are going to go the one in Barlow. You and I are going to get cards.”

“Yay!”

“Yeah, then we can get you books.”

“But…Spencer has been getting me books.”

“What?” Aaron stopped as he crested the top step onto the porch. He looked at his son, He’d seen the book Jack had found this morning, but he hadn’t realized that Spencer had been getting him books.

“Beverly has a gigantic comic book section while Belpre has a lot of fantasy and science fiction books for kids. Or that’s what Spencer said in the notes. Garcia hacked my school’s AR listing and had sent it along, so Spencer used it to find what books I like to read and what I have read and found me more. I thought you knew. He also found a soccer league in Belpre that starts soon. There is a lot of homeschool kids in it.”

Jack jumped out of his seat and ran inside. Aaron just stayed where he was, shocked. It wasn’t hard to understand what Reid was doing. Jack wasn’t in school at the moment, and he had no friends yet so books, Reid’s friends growing up, would be the first thing that he thought of. Aaron had just assumed that what Jack spent a lot of time inside doing was drawing. Aaron finally shook himself out of his stupor when he heard tires on the drive. Aaron turned to see Reid’s purple SUV coming down the drive. He really hadn’t expected him to come home.

Reid got out of his vehicle with a bag slung over his shoulder. He could tell it was full of books. His face was blank, but his body wasn’t as closed off as it used to be. Aaron could only hope that he was thawing toward him.

“I thought maybe we could go out to dinner?” Reid asked as he stepped even with Aaron on the porch. Before Aaron could answer, Jack, burst out the front door with a paper in his hand. He gave it to Aaron, but his eyes were on Reid. Reid smiled at him and reached into the bag, grabbing three books. “Came in new today at Belpre.”

Jack took the books and smiled at them. Aaron recognized them as a series Jack was reading. Jack rushed forward and hugged Reid. The younger man was startled by it, but he laid his hand on Jack’s head, ruffling his hair. Jack smiled at Aaron and then darted back inside, grabbing his other book as he did.

“So dinner?” Reid asked, following Jack inside.

“Where did you want to go?” Aaron asked. He could play along with whatever Reid wanted. The young man was at least talking to him.

“Well, we can go to one of the few diner-like places in Belpre or something bigger in Parkersburg or Marietta. Depends on what you are in the mood for.”

“Mexican?” Jack asked.

“Sounds good. Now, do you want to go to Parkersburg or Marietta?” Reid wasn’t looking at Aaron but at Jack.

“We haven’t been to Marietta yet, have we Dad?” Jack asked.

“No, buddy we haven’t.”

“Then let’s go there. Can we take Spencer’s car?”

Aaron looked at Spencer, making sure that he was okay with driving. Spencer nodded.

“Jack, change into a nicer outfit,” Aaron said. Jack took off up the stairs.

“I’ll go change too.” Reid was up to the stairs before Aaron could say another word to him. Aaron dreaded what conversation topics were going to come up at dinner.

An hour later had them pulling into a weird parking lot. Aaron looked and saw it was a large lot that everyone who was going shopping on the street was using as each of the businesses had no lot around them. Aaron tried to spot the restaurant, and after he had made it halfway down the street, he saw it. There was no way to mistake it as anything other than a Mexican restaurant.

“How did you know where this was?” Jack asked as he unbuckled from his seat and popped his head up between the front seats.

“Reid has an eidetic memory. He remembers everything that he sees. Maps are his thing. He can see one and know the best way to get anywhere.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah, it is,” Reid said with a smile on his face. Aaron stared at him for a few seconds. Reid had always been wary of telling people about his memory and his genius intellect. He never volunteered it unless he had to. Aaron wondered what had happened that had allowed him to stop fearing his mind and the abilities it gave him.

“I’m hungry,” Jack said as he slipped back into the back of the car. He opened the door on Reid’s side of the car and then opened up Reid’s door as well. Reid smiled at him and stepped out. Aaron realized that he didn’t have his messenger bag with him. It had been in the hallway leading out of the house, but he hadn’t grabbed it. Aaron let himself out of the SUV since it seemed Jack wasn’t going to open his door as well. Aaron didn’t feel jealous. Reid was new and someone that Jack kind of remembered and was having fun getting to know again.

As Aaron rounded the back of the SUV, he realized that Reid and Jack were waiting on him. He stepped even with them and started to think about what he wanted to do as far as showing their relationship. This was the first real public interaction they had had since starting the whole hiding thing. Aaron knew it would set the tone for all of their interactions going forward. Reid had his arm wrapped around Jack’s shoulder, and the boy was tucked into him tight. Aaron could stay on that side, putting Jack in the middle or go around and wrap an arm around Reid’s shoulder.

“Are you coming?” Reid asked, staring at him.

“Sure.” Aaron prayed to whoever was listening that Reid wasn’t going to slap him or hit him for what he was about to do. His default was to be touchy to his lovers, and this was a long standing relationship. Aaron moved to Reid’s other side and wrapped an arm around his waist. He kept his hand up high on the younger man hip but the way that he startled when Aaron touched him, Aaron almost pulled back. Aaron held him close as they started to walk away. Jack looked both ways for them before he declared it safe to walk.

The host inside didn’t even bat an eye at the three of them as they walked in.

“A corner booth if you have it,” Aaron said to him.

“Sure,” the host said motioned for them to follow him. They were shown to a corner booth, and Aaron was shocked when Reid sat down first and pulled Aaron down with him. Jack just slid into the other side, his back to the whole restaurant.

“Athair, they have a Shirley Temple, can I get it?”

“Yes, you may,” Reid answered without missing a beat at all. Aaron wasn’t sure what the word meant so while the other two were looking at their menus, Aaron checked his phone. It took two times to spell it to get back a result that would even make sense. It was Irish for father. Aaron wondered if they had discussed it beforehand. Aaron tucked his phone back into his pocket, and he started to look at the menu.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Their waiter asked as he stepped up to the table.

“I would like a Shirley Temple, please.”

“Sweet tea for me, no ice and an unsweet for him,” Reid said before Aaron could even think about what he wanted to drink. It was what he probably would have ordered, but he was shocked that Reid had even remembered. On cases, Aaron generally ordered water. With Italian, he ordered sweet tea, but that was to combat the herbs and spices. The team rarely ate Mexican together but still, Reid had remembered.

“They have a family fajita meal, Dad,” Jack said, tipping his menu down so that Aaron could see where he was pointing. Aaron looked at that spot on his own menu and read it over. Aaron was just about done reading it when Reid’s hand landed on his thigh under the table. No one could see it but just seeing the angle of Reid’s arm would tell everyone where his hand was.

“Do you know what you want?” Aaron asked Reid, turning his head to look at him. Reid’s eyes were fixed on the menu in front of him. ”

“I would be okay with the family fajitas. Extra guacamole, please.”

“Of course,” Aaron said. The waiter was coming back towards them with their drinks, so Aaron leaned over and kissed Reid on the side of the cheek. The hand on his thigh tightened, but there was no outward show of his dislike of it. Aaron didn’t push for more though. He looked at Jack across the table, the boy’s eyes were huge, but he didn’t say anything. The waiter set down the drinks.

Aaron ordered for them, and the waiter left the table. The awkwardness of the silence was only noticeable to Aaron. Reid was looking around, his eyes darting all over everyone and everything. Aaron knew the look well from when they had entered crime scenes.

“When am I going to start riding lessons?” Jack asked.

Reid started at Jack’s words and looked at him.

“As soon as I find someone I like to teach you.”

“Do you think that you would want to go and learn with me Athair?” Jack asked.

“Learn to ride a horse?” Reid asked.

“Yes. It’ll be fun won’t it?”

“Why don’t you want your dad to learn with you?”

“I’ve known how to ride horses since I was able to walk.”

“What?” Reid turned to look at Aaron, his face slack with surprise.

“It was high on the list of things that I had to know to make my mother be able to be proud of me in public.” Aaron knew that the shared background had only been delved into a little so far, it was more of a making it up as they went. He was aware that the best way to not mess up was to make sure that the background he created was as close to his own as possible. “Riding lessons, etiquette, dancing, I had a lot of lessons as a child.”

“Why don’t you teach Jack then?”

“Because proper lessons are better taught not from a parent.”

“Can I go to the bathroom?” Jack asked.

“Yes,” Aaron and Reid answered at the same time. Aaron watched Jack slip out of his chair and move towards the back of the restaurant.

“I learned with soccer that Jack pushes himself too hard to look good for me and to be perfect. I don’t want him hurting himself while he is learning to ride because he is afraid to mess up.” Aaron turned his head inward towards Reid’s ear, making the conversation seem intimate even though it wasn’t.

“I’ve never been interested in learning how to ride a horse.”

“I’ve been thinking that a horse would be a good way of getting away if Lewis or Arnold found us. I was going to see about getting some work done on the stables and see about getting a yearling for Jack to learn on. There are a few other horse breeding farms in the area, and it wouldn’t hurt for you to know as well.”

Reid looked at Aaron in a way that said that he didn’t like being put on the spot that he was in. He wasn’t happy, and for now, Aaron would let it drop. If Reid really didn’t want to learn how to ride a horse, he would have to tell Jack that.

Chips and salsa were delivered to the table. Just as the busboy who dropped them off turned, Reid raised his hand to try and get his attention, but Aaron grabbed it and pulled it down, wrapping his arm around his shoulder.

Aaron leaned in close to his ear. “Couples don’t ask for secondary cups of salsa as to not contaminate. Anything I have, you would get and vice versa. Jack does not double dip, and neither do I.”

“But-” Reid protested, but Aaron didn’t release his hand at all. Aaron reached over and grabbed a chip, scooping up some of the salsa on the end of it before he held it up to Reid’s mouth. That glower was back on his face, and Aaron vowed that one day when his thigh wasn’t being held by Reid’s hand, that he was going to tell the genius that his glower did nothing as he looked like a pissed off kitten. After another forty-three seconds of a stare down, Reid opened his mouth. Aaron knew that the whole chip wouldn’t fit so he pushed in as much as he thought Reid could actually bite off and not gag and waited. When Reid had snapped it off, Aaron took the second half and ate it.

Jack giggled and started to eat the chips. Reid’s hand was still on Aaron’s thigh but he wasn’t looking at Aaron. In fact, Reid was looking everywhere but at Aaron. Aaron really wished that he would have asked JJ if Reid had ever had a relationship. When Aaron had left the team, the short thing with that starlet in LA had been the only thing Reid had ever had. Reid ate a few more chips while Aaron thought about how a lot of Reid’s distance might not just be the fact that he and Aaron were not close and that part of it might just be that he didn’t know how to act in a relationship at all. Reid, of course, would have all kinds of anecdotal evidence from JJ and Will, Morgan and his new wife, and other people from over the years but being in a relationship was different than seeing other people in them.

Aaron kept his arm around Reid the entire time that they ate on the chips while they were waiting for the main course to be served. Jack chattered about the horse lessons, and Reid answered questions where he could, but Aaron realized that he hadn’t done a lot of research on horses. He envisioned a trip or two to the libraries to find out more.

“Hot plate,” the waiter said as he set down a vast sizzling skillet on the table. The skillet was resting on a flat board of wood that would allow them to move it around safely. A plate with three sets of tinfoil wrapped tortillas was set down next as well as a plate of rice, a plate of beans, and a plate that had the sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, and lettuce on it. The hot plate had peppers, onions, tomatoes, as well as chicken and beef on it.

Reid eyed the food like it was going to bite him. He took one of the rolls of tortillas and unrolled it to get one out. He set it on the plate that Aaron set in front of him. Jack grabbed his little plate and laid his first tortilla on it.

“Have you ever eaten fajitas before?” Aaron asked softly.

“No. Morgan used to get them though, but he always got something that had shrimp in it. I tried to figure out the correct way of eating them but I never could.” Reid sounded honest, more honest than he had since Aaron had seen him for the first time weeks ago.

“There is no correct way. You put what you want on it. Jack doesn’t like guacamole at all but loves sour cream. I know you don’t like it on your tacos so I’ll take a little of each and then you guys can have the rest. Jack is partial to beef but will eat the chicken. I prefer chicken but will eat beef. Why don’t you eat one tortilla filled with each and then your third can be whichever you like the best?”

“There’s three? How I am supposed to eat three?”

“Not filling them like Morgan does is the best way. Just watch Jack.”

Aaron looked at his son and watched as he put the sour cream on the bottom followed by the pico and then a little of each vegetable and a few strips of meat. Reid hummed as he watched Jack roll it and then tuck in one end, using his fingers before taking a bite. Jack smiled, his cheeks puffed a little from the food.

“It’s not science, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just edible.” Aaron pulled his arm from around the genius so he could work on his own food, Reid took his hand off of Aaron’s thigh as well. He watched Reid out of the corner of his eye as Reid put guacamole on the tortilla before using a fork to get at some of the pico. He laid each strip of onion and green pepper down but bypassed the tomatoes. Next was the beef. He picked out some of the darker, more grilled pieces and set them on his tortilla. Reid’s face scrunched up, and he looked around.

“Cheese. Can we get some shredded white cheese?” Reid asked, looking at Aaron. The fact that he asked was good.

Aaron waved the waiter down and asked for some of the shredded cheese. He had never thought of putting that on a fajita. Aaron waited to finish his until the waiter came back under a minute later with a cup of cheese for each of them. Reid reached into his and took about a third of it before rolling up his fajita. He took a bite and smiled. Aaron’s heart fluttered at that smile. He looked boyish again, instead of the mantle that had been settled on him. He only hoped that it didn’t take long for Aaron to be able to actually talk to Reid about things that mattered.

XxXxXxX

“Tigre, can you pass me that shirt three inches above your left hand?” Reid asked.

Aaron looked to his left hand and up three inches, finding the shirt that Reid was talking about and agreeing mentally that Jack would love it. He grabbed it down and handed it over. Jack was in the dressing room, trying on the safety gear needed for soccer. The league was doing tryouts that following weekend and Jack wanted to get his gear broke in before tryouts for the teams happened.

Reid had built a soccer field for Jack to practice on in the land around the house as well as making a set of goals from pipes and things that were found in the tool shed. Jack had called it the coolest thing ever. He spent several hours outside each day working on his footwork and his kicking.

“I don’t know how many of each thing he actually needs.”

“Depends on how often we want to do laundry. I used to buy enough so that by the time all of them are dirty, there is an entire load.” Aaron saw a shirt that he thought would look nice on Reid during practice. Reid wasn’t adjusting well to the slightly cooler weather. He moved over to grab it and stopped as the words that Reid had said ticked over his mind. Reid moved away over to the shorts, and Aaron just watched Reid as Aaron played the morning over in his mind. Aaron didn’t have Reid’s memory, but he did have a pretty good one, and he was trying his hardest. He hadn’t heard Hotch in almost a week and what had taken its place was either no form of his name at all or one of those cutesy nicknames. That only happened in public. There had been a Dear, a Sweetie, and today a Tigre. Aaron wasn’t sure what to make of it. He had only called Reid, Reid in private or Arthur in public but if the names continued, Aaron was going to get him back.

Movement behind him alerted Aaron that he needed to get out of his head. He felt a hand on his lower back as Reid settled in at his side. The PDA chicken that they had been doing in public was never talked about. Aaron always waited for Reid to start it. There was a lot that still had to be talked about, but Reid was good at not talking to him at all.

“Here,” Reid said as he slung a shirt over Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron reached up and grabbed it, letting his eyes rove over the design on it. It had a pair of running shoes in black on it, and it was just an otherwise plain shirt, but bright pink. “I think you’d look good in this on your morning runs. It has reflector stripes on the back.”

Aaron looked at Reid, seeing the small smirk on his lips and the mischievous glint in his eye. Aaron held the shirt up to his body as Jack came out of the fitting rooms with two piles of clothes, one over each arm. He set one stack down by the cleats that had already been tried on. He carried the other to the lady at the counter who smiled and took them from him to be refolded and placed back out. Jack turned and saw what his father was holding up.

“That’ll look cool, Dad,” Jack said with a smile.

“Thanks.”

“Look,” Jack said, and he moved over to the side of the store that Reid had been at before. Jack held up a bright purple shirt. “You two can match!”

The look on Reid’s face was worth whatever he did to get back at Aaron for it. It was purple and had the reflectors on the back, but the shirt front was bare.

“You can run together!” Jack was smiling like he had found the best thing in the world.

“You run?” Aaron asked, looking at Reid. His voice was small, and Reid just frowned at him, like he did whenever they broke cover in public.

“Go ahead and get it Jackers. I like that color.”

“You like anything purple,” Jack said with a smile on his face.

“I do,” Reid said with a smile. Jack added the purple shirt to the growing pile of things being bought. Aaron stayed where he was, he had already picked out his running clothes that he wanted. He had been running in a pair of loose shorts that had been bought when he had been shopping for Jack.

Reid wandered off back to where he had been when he had found the pink running shirt. Aaron watched him. He was looking at running shorts, but it was ones that were below the knee and fitted. Reid draped a few pairs over his arm and moved towards the fitting rooms. Aaron watched him go, knowing that he needed to force the younger man to talk. The issue was that Reid used Jack like armor, only coming out of the basement when Jack was around. If Jack was outside, the younger man never left the basement.

Aaron pushed himself to find a few more shirts to run in, he was getting sick of just running in regular t-shirts. He was used to running gear and spoiled by it. They were stuck in the ass end of nowhere and paying for it. Aaron knew that sticking somewhere small was in their best interests, but he hadn’t been prepared for the travesty that was everything. Most of the food was chain oriented, the coffee sucked, the best source of books was the library and even Reid bemoaned that because of the area they were in the non-fiction wasn’t that great. Aaron vowed that they would head towards either Columbus or Charleston as soon as he could get Reid into the car with him for a trip.

There wasn’t a lot let for Aaron to do while he and Jack waited for Reid to get out of the fitting rooms. Aaron moved over to the entrance to the rooms and looked around. The girl at the register was smirking at him. It wasn’t hard to read where her mind was going. Aaron blushed. He wasn’t tempted to head back there. He was pretty sure that Reid would give him a black eye if he even mentioned attempting anything like it.

Reid stepped out two minutes later, shocked to see Aaron right there.

“Bored?”

“No, just waiting. Jack is wandering around, and I’m done picking out my clothes.”

“I’m ready.” Reid moved forward and grabbed up his and Jack’s items before heading to the register. Aaron grabbed his things as well.

Ten minutes later, items stowed in the car, Aaron was leaning against the truck door and watching as Jack and Reid were discussing something with a local woman. Aaron had taken all of the bags from the store and had thought that they were following him, but when he had asked for help in getting the trunk open, he had found them not there.

Reid turned and looked at Aaron, and there was such happiness in his eyes that it took Aaron’s breath away. Aaron’s stomach started to churn because he knew that it wasn’t him that had put that look on Reid’s face. Reid looked back at the woman and nodded, reaching out and shaking her hand. Jack looked pensive, but he followed Reid when the man started over towards him.

“Tigre, I know where we are going for dinner!” Reid proclaimed as he got close. Reid was still smiling and looked so happy that when he got close, Aaron pulled him into his body. Reid leaned into Aaron’s body and cupped the sides of his face. Aaron saw him leaning in, and he pressed in closer, claiming his mouth in a kiss. Reid’s entire body went stiff the second that Aaron’s lips touched his and if it weren’t for the fact that they were in public, Aaron would have pulled back.

There was a storm of emotions in Reid’s eyes when Aaron did pull back. Aaron had no clue what Reid had been leaning in to do, but it apparently wasn’t kissing.

“Where are we going?” Aaron asked, his voice calm when he really wasn’t. Aaron hadn’t kissed anyone in so long. He had only focused on Jack for so long and even if it was something that hadn’t been wanted by Reid. It had felt right to Aaron. Aaron felt horrible for the thought, but it was the truth. He was starting to think that the whole hiding with Reid was going to backfire and it was going to do it horribly.

“There is a Thai place just across the street. Lady says it’s not the best but the only Thai that can be had in the area. Jack says that he likes Pad Thai and the lady said it was pretty good. I want sushi.”

“Then that’s where we are going.” Aaron pressed a kissed to Reid’s forehead, not liking going without something. When Reid pulled back, Aaron saw that a few people were looking at them. Jack tucked himself into Reid’s side, and the two moved around to slip into the backseat. Aaron settled into the driver’s seat and started the trek across the busy seven-lane road that separated the mall they were at and the restaurant that Reid had chosen.

The windows of the place were covered in Asian-style prints. Reid smiled at Aaron as he held open the door for him and Jack to enter.

“Hello, welcome to Tokyo. Three?”

“Yes, thank you,” Reid said with a huge smile on his face. “Preferably the one in the back.” Reid pointed where he wanted, and the host nodded and smiled. As they were sitting down, a younger man exited the kitchen area and set down three bowls of soup. Jack looked at the soup wearily, picking up the soup spoon and poking at the mushroom floating in his soup. Reid picked up his spoon and took a sip of soup from the bowl.

“What is this?” Jack asked in a whisper. He poked at the mushroom again.

“Clear mushroom soup is the generalized name for it. I think you’ll like it. It’s just chicken broth. If you don’t like the mushrooms, just pass them to your father.”

Jack dipped his spoon down into the soup and dipped up just a few drops. Aaron kept his smile to himself as Jack dipped his tongue into the soup on the spoon and almost made a face until he realized that he did like it. Jack dipped up more into his spoon and downed it quickly. Aaron watched as he sipped at his own until a mushroom piece slipped into the spoon. Jack eyed it for a second before drinking the broth around it and then taking a careful small bite of the end that was sticking off the spoon. Reid was looking at the specials menu and eyeing the man making sushi at the bar. Menus were set down in front of them.

Aaron looked up at the man.

“Drinks?”

“Water please, lime wedge,” Reid said.

“Sprite for me please,” Jack said after swallowing his spoonful of soup.

“Sweet tea, no lemon.”

“Okay. Need a few minutes?”

“Please,” Aaron said.

Reid went back to looking at his menu. Aaron saw that the Pad Thai came with shrimp. He would order that for Jack, extra lime slices because he liked the tang of it. Reid was looking at the sushi side and nothing else so Aaron figured he would just be eating that. Aaron wanted the Hibachi. He was going to get steak though on it.

“What are you going to get Athair?” Jack asked as he set his own menu down.

“I’m getting sushi. Don’t worry I won’t make you try the second one. Just the first.”

“Eww.”

“From the fact that you’ve never had the soup, you can’t tell me you have had sushi. Everything should be tried once before declaring it disgusting.”

“I’ll try one bite.”

“Good. That’ll be the yum yum roll. Nothing raw about it or nasty.”

“I’ll try it.” Jack picked his menu back up and looked it over while Reid flipped his over and started to look at a few other items. The waiter arrived with their drinks and Reid ordered the yum yum roll. Aaron wasn’t that sure about it, but he did at least get the sauces on the side. Aaron flipped his menu over to look at the various sushi offerings. There was nothing that interested Aaron at all, but he would at least be like Jack and try a bite of the yum yum roll. Aaron wondered if he could get the other half of Jack’s slice of the roll. He had never been adventurous on food. Aaron had kind of been forced to eat too many weird things as a child by his mother at her dinner parties. He could see now that it was narrowing Jack and his palate.

“Bento box?” Jack asked.

Reid leaned close to the boy and pointed various things on the menu and gave descriptions of them, low enough to where Aaron could only hear a whisper of words. The picture was beautiful, and when Reid looked up to find Aaron staring at him, Aaron could only look away. Aaron felt though that he lost something when he did, he just wasn’t sure what.

When Jack set down his menu and Reid did as well, the waiter appeared right there.

“I’ll have a bento box. Spicy tuna, Philadelphia roll, shrimp sashimi, mackerel sashimi.”

“Of course. And for the young mister?”

“Shrimp Pad Thai, extra lime slices please,” Jack said, surprising Aaron. Jack never ordered for himself.

Aaron was staring at Jack as the waiter was looking at him for his order. “Sorry. Steak Hibachi, noodles instead of rice, please.”

“Yes.”

Aaron handed over his menu, and the man took it and walked away.

“Athair,” Jack said, a little loud. Aaron shushed him, and he ducked down and looked around. “Sorry. There is an opening in the adult lessons. Carl wanted me to tell you.”

“And who is Carl?” Reid asked.

“That’s the man that gives Johnnie his riding lessons. He also teaches the adult lessons at the ranch I found, remember.”

The look that Reid gave Aaron would have melted glass. Aaron didn’t look away though.

“The last time he was brought up, you called him Mister Van Kemp, Tigre. So excuse me.” Reid looked away from Aaron and towards the man making sushi. Jack frowned at Aaron, looking a little hurt.

“Do you want to have Dad call to schedule your first lesson? Carl said it would be after mine if you wanted it.”

“That sounds good. I can call tomorrow and see if I can start tomorrow as well.”

“YAY!” Jack was louder and this to everyone around them looked at them. Jack ducked his head before anyone could tell him to be quiet. Reid had a smile on his face, and he wrapped an arm around Jack’s shoulder, pulling him in close. The waiter set down their appetizer, and Aaron just looked at it. A pair of chopsticks were set down in front of all three of them, and Aaron was a little shocked when Reid didn’t open up his rolled silverware for the fork. Aaron had taught Jack how to use chopsticks as Chinese takeout was a staple of the household.

“It tastes good,” Jack said as he dipped one of his sticks into the eel sauce. He stuck the second one into the yum yum sauce, and he made a face. He didn’t like that one.

“You don’t have to use that one, Johnnie.”

“I know, Athair.” Jack used his chopsticks to pick up the first slice of the roll in front of him. He set it down on the little plate that the waiter had set down in front of each of them. Aaron took a slice of the roll as well. Reid though was just sitting back and watching Jack. Jack used his fork from the rolled silverware to coat the top of the slice in eel sauce before picking it up with the chopsticks. Aaron left his plain as he took his first bite. Aaron barely held in a face at the textures of it all. He didn’t want Jack to see it. It was not something Aaron wanted to eat again. He hadn’t tried sushi in a long time and thought maybe his tastes had changed, it seemed they hadn’t. Jack took a bite of his, almost half of the slice in one go. He chomped it a few times before he gave a big grin with his lips pressed together to not show food. He chewed faster before swallowing quickly.

“I see one Harrison loved it. What do you think, Tigre?” Reid was smiling at him like he knew that Aaron didn’t like it. Aaron didn’t answer Reid verbally, he just picked up the other half of the roll and set it on Reid’s plate. Aaron smiled at him. Reid picked it up with his chopsticks, dunked it in the yum yum sauce and ate it. Heat flared through Aaron’s abdomen. Aaron knew that he should look away but he didn’t, he couldn’t. He couldn’t give Reid that satisfaction.

“One more?” Jack asked, breaking the silence that had descended over the table.

“Yes. Two won’t ruin your dinner,” Reid said, but his eyes never left Aaron’s. Reid reached over and picked up another, dunking it in the eel sauce before lifting it and eating half of it. Aaron was mesmerized by watching him use the chopsticks. The second half was dunked in the other sauce. Aaron forced himself to look away, having to give the round to Reid. The heat was slowly spreading to his whole body, and he knew that it wouldn’t take much at all for him to become aroused. His libido had never been an issue. Even age really hadn’t dimmed it, even if his only release was by his left hand. This hiding business was going to ruin him, and he knew it.

Dinner was brought out just as Reid was finishing off the last slice of the yum yum roll. Jack tucked into his with happiness on his face. Reid’s food was set down next, and Aaron watched as Reid dumped the remaining eel sauce all over his rolls in his box. When he picked up the chopsticks again, Aaron remembered the case where he had first seen Reid try and use them. Aaron watched him use them like they were extensions of himself. Aaron made a note to ask him who had taught him how to use them.

Aaron realized that Reid was looking up at him every other bite. Aaron wasn’t eating his dinner.

“Dad, your food is getting cold.” Jack frowned at Aaron until Aaron picked up his own chopsticks and started to eat. He had taken a few bites before Jack began to talk. “When did you first try sushi, Athair?”

“I ate it from places in DC and the area, but I didn’t fall in love with it until much later. I took a two-month vacation to Japan and there I fell in love with sushi. They have locations all over there where sushi is put around the whole place on conveyor belts. It was awesome.” Reid looked like he was going to say more, but he stopped himself. He looked at Aaron again a small smile on his face. “It’s where I was taught to use chopsticks. I spent a month learning the Japanese language in all of its glory before I went there. I was on bedrest at the time, so it wasn’t hard to learn it. I learned then that I have a talent for languages.”

Reid talked lowly; hopefully, no one around them heard it but Spencer’s cover wasn’t hard to fake, he had a nice life before them. Aaron dug into his food. Every single thing he learned about Reid, showed Aaron that he really didn’t know who Reid was anymore and he wanted to know.

“Don’t worry,” Aaron said. Reid looked up at him. “You’ll get to go back, Honey Bear.”

The look that Reid gave him was worth whatever Reid did to him in retaliation. Any emotion was good.

XxXxXxX

There was a feeling of peace in the ass end of nowhere in Ohio. Aaron was sitting on the side of the house, in the chair that had been there when they had moved in. It was just after midnight, and Aaron was waiting for Reid to come home from his run. He’d kept a watch on Reid from the master bedroom as he slipped out just after eleven for a run. Aaron had moved to the porch after Reid had left the property. He sat and thought about various scenarios of how it all could go with Reid but knew that statistically, it wasn’t going to go that way. Nothing ever did with Reid

Reid came down the driveway, and if it weren’t for the way that his body went from running loose to tight, Aaron would have thought that Reid hand’t seen him. The younger man ran up to the edge of the porch, using the railing to start to stretch out.

“I actually hadn’t put a good percent behind you actually confronting me today.” Reid let go of the railing and leaned down, almost in half. Aaron kept his mouth shut as Reid cooled down his body from the run. Reid had been hiding a lot of things from everyone. His body was almost all lean muscle. His clothes had become an armor of a different kind. Before he had worn them as a way to push attention off of himself. The clothes were meant to blend him into everything around him. Now Reid wore them as a way to hide from everyone. His choice in running clothes didn’t hide anything from Aaron.

Reid was wearing tight running shorts that went down below his knees but showed off the muscles in his legs. The shirt he was wearing was one of the body armor kind, hugging every single curve. Aaron could just see the slight definition of a six pack on his abdomen and the V that he knew made some women go crazy.

“We have to talk.”

“No, you want to speak. We’ve been doing fine. It’s not like either of us are the type to make out in public. Besides, you and I and the dark have a bad history. Last time, our lives changed and not for the better, but I think that ìf you tried anything like that, you’d find a very different Spencer Reid fighting back.”

“That’s what I want to talk about. I am not that man anymore, Reid!” Aaron stood up from the chair he had been sitting in. Reid eyed him but didn’t move away. “I haven’t touched alcohol, even wine since that night. I stayed away, I didn’t contact you. I did everything that you asked, and you were right, I wanted to say I was sorry to assuage my own guilt. I’ve spent the last six years making up for what I did that night, but I wasn’t allowed to make it up to you.”

“I don’t need your apologies. I never have.”

“I don’t care anymore. You are going to listen to me. You are going to talk to me.”

“I could just go right past you and in the house. You wouldn’t lay a hand on me.”

“You are right that I wouldn’t, but I locked the house up tight. Deadbolts included. I know you only have the primary lock key on you. My house keys are in my pocket. I will fight you if you try and take them.”

“I could just go to the barn.”

“But I would follow you. You are tired from a run while I am nice and refreshed from waiting for you. So pick Reid.”

Reid stared at Aaron, his eyes moving all around his face. Aaron knew that he was trying to profile if he was speaking the truth or not.

“Out in public, I’m the perfect loving husband. I act as I adore you and I act like I adore Jack. What more do you fucking want from me? This house is the one place I can be myself, and you want me to what, play the loving husband here too?” Reid moved up the stairs and onto the porch. He didn’t go for the door, but he faced Aaron. “Do you want me to stroke your ego here? Or something else? I know what arousal looks like, even on you. Is your left hand not good enough anymore? Need the touch of another person?”

Aaron realized then that he had backed Reid into a corner that he didn’t want to be in and Aaron realized exactly how deadly that mind had become in the over six years since they had seen each other. Reid went for the worst chink in the armor and was making it as wide as he could. Aaron mourned the man he had been, before he had been gutted by someone he trusted, by Aaron himself. Aaron wasn’t shocked at that moment that Reid had become Unit Chief. Because he saw the man that Reid let the world see. Reid used to hide behind his intelligence, use it so that no one wanted to get close to someone so weird but now that intelligence was used to hide in a different way. Reid built an armor of psychology to make sure that no one wanted him. He had become a hardass, it seemed, more of one than Aaron had been. Reid had actually become what Aaron had let the world think he had been.

When Aaron took a step towards Reid, he hesitated as Reid took a step back. Aaron angled himself a little bit different, but still, Reid backed up on the next step. Reid backed into the wall, and Aaron lunged forward. Before Reid could kick out at him or react, Aaron had his arms wrapped around the younger man.

“I’m sorry, Spencer. I’m so sorry for what I did to you,” Aaron whispered into Reid’s ear. Reid’s body was tense, and he seemed to be just waiting for Aaron to let go of him. Aaron didn’t though. Aaron held onto him, losing the grip on one arm to lift his hand and wrap it around the back of the base of Reid’s skull. “I can’t make up for what I did, even then there had been no way. Dave told me after you had your last surgery that you might have never been able to walk unassisted again. You were right that I only ever saw you as a tool to use to get the job done. I faced up to a lot of hard truths in the months that came after. Sobering up, no matter what drug is used is hard. I’m sorry that I never gave you the help you needed after Georgia. That I let Gideon sway me when I knew that you needed help. I am sorry for the trust you had for everyone else in the world that I destroyed. I am sorry for everything that I did.”

Reid’s arms didn’t come up around him nor did he kick or hit or try to get away. He was stiff in Aaron’s arms. Aaron sighed and let go of him, stepping back. Reid was staring off into the middle distance, his eyes hard and no emotion on his face. A mask that was dead on his face.

“I don’t want to live in this house with a stranger, Reid.”

“Then maybe you should have fought harder to not be placed with me. But you saw it as your way to get redemption. At the cost of me, again. You may not want to live with a stranger, but you are going to have to live with it. And if you ever touch me again when we are not out in public, I will make sure you won’t do it again. Even if it lands me in jail for spousal abuse.”

Aaron stepped to the door and dug the keys out of his pocket. He unlocked and opened the door. Reid went past him, but as he did, he looked up at Aaron. His eyes were confused and wary, but despite the anger in every single line of his body, Reid’s eyes held no anger. Aaron felt that the confrontation hadn’t gone as well as he would have hoped but it went better than the worst case scenario. He just needed to get Reid to open up.

XxXxXxX

Spencer watched Jack as he rode around on the small horse on the farm. Hotch had been working with Jack at his lessons. Spencer wasn’t looking forward to his lesson at all. He had never liked the touch of strangers or even friends, and over the years he had started to hate it. Carl was an excellent teacher, but it was hard to teach the proper way to ride without touching. Carl was fantastic with Jack.

“Honey Bear!” Hotch called out. Spencer grimaced inside, but he couldn’t do a damned thing about it. He had started it. In an attempt to not have to call the man anything, Spencer had been calling him different nicknames. Tigre had got the best rise out of the man, but he’d come back with Honey Bear. Now Spencer couldn’t back down, and Spencer knew that Hotch wouldn’t either. Still, he didn’t turn to acknowledge the call of the man he still actively hated being in his life.

As soon as they had got to the ranch, Hotch had slipped away. Spencer had stayed with Jack, worried about the boy falling off the horse. Transference was a bitch, but with no Henry and no little Michael to fuss over, he was transferring all of his emotions for the boys onto Jack. He missed his godsons a great deal.

“Athair!” Jack called out as his horse trotted past Spencer where he was leaning against the fence around the training paddock. He wasn’t looking at Spencer though he was looking behind him. Spencer turned around and saw that Aaron and two ranch hands were coming at them with three horses on leads. There was a smaller, probably not much older than a year horse and two adult ones. Spencer heard noises behind him and found Carl helping Jack off of the horse he was riding. Jack climbed the fence as soon as he reached it and took off at a run towards his father.

“J’s lesson is done today, ready for yours?” J was what Jack had started to have other call him. Spencer figured it was an easy way to not get lost in his new name.

“Sure.”

Spencer actively loathed riding lessons, but he agreed that the strategy behind it was a good reason to learn. He still got really sore in the legs from the riding, and some days his knee ached a lot after them. Carl was all the time reminding him that he needed to relax in the seat but Spencer couldn’t. Not with Carl touching him to correct his posture or Hotch watching him the entire time. Spencer hadn’t figured out what that was about, but the older man’s eyes never left him when he was riding on a horse. Spencer watched Jack and Hotch talking to the two ranch hands as he moved to the gate to let himself into the paddock. Carl readied the mounting block for him to get up onto the horse from. Spencer hadn’t quite mastered pulling himself up on a horse yet. He really hadn’t learned much at all when it came to horses.

Spencer settled in on the saddle of the horse and ran through it all in his head of what to do and what not to do. He looked at Carl to see his eyes were not on Spencer but on Hotch and Jack. Hotch settled himself onto the saddle of the horse he had been leading around. Jack was petting the small one which was black with white spots.

A touch to his thigh, right above his gunshot wound, had Spencer reacting. He tried to jump back away from it, but as he was in the seat of the saddle, he fell off of the side. Spencer didn’t try and correct himself. Instead, he landed wholly on his back, the breath getting shoved out of him.

“Arthur!” Carl yelled.

There was a lot of noise and shouting and then hands on his cheeks. Spencer tried to shove them away, but the hands didn’t leave. He didn’t back away from the hands for fear of hurting himself more. A voice was louder than the rest. It was hard to focus, but he knew he needed to get away from that voice. That voice hurt him. That voice was why he couldn’t move. Spencer tried to grab the ground under him and push to get away. He pushed and his back seized. It shouldn’t be his back though. He moved his leg, and it only caused his back to hurt more. His knee was fine. Spencer tried to figure out why his back was hurting.

“Breathe for me, please.” Hotch sounded scared. Hotch shouldn’t have sounded scared. Memory and reality merged in Spencer’s mind, and he wasn’t sure what was real. Spencer opened his eyes to see Hotch above him, older than his mind was telling him he should be. His eyes were bright and not hazed in alcohol. Jack was right there on his other side, Jack who was older as well. Spencer forced himself to inhale, slowly and sort of shallow until he figured out exactly how much pain he was in. Spencer forced out the breath. He tried to focus on Hotch, but the man was not looking at his face. His hands were moving down Spencer’s neck, so he focused on Jack. Spencer raised his hand and cupped the side of Jack’s face. Jack was crying, and when Spencer’s hand let go, the boy dropped his face down and tucked into Spencer’s neck, his body resting on Spencer’s.

“Athair,” Jack sobbed.

“I don’t know what happened, George. I just touched him,” the man behind Hotch said. Spencer tried to figure out why the man was calling Hotch George and why Jack had called him the Irish word for father.

“I don’t think he was expecting it. He’s kind of touch phobic. Where did you touch him?” Hotch looked back at the man and then back down at Spencer. There was such desperation in his eyes.

“His thigh.”

“Where? Show me on you.”

The man laid his hand on his thigh, right at where Spencer remembered being shot.

“He was injured there by a friend. You probably sent him into a sort of flashback.”

“Not a friend,” Spencer said, forcing the words out. He watched Hotch’s face and saw the flash of pure and utter pain on it, and Spencer actually regretted making that look appear on his face. Jack was a weight on his chest, so it was hard for him to reach up and pull Hotch down but Spencer did. Hotch fought him, but he didn’t fight him hard at all. Hotch pulled Spencer’s hand off of his face, but still, he leaned down and brushed their noses together. The older man took his hand and clasped it to his chest, right at his heart.

“Don’t scare me like that, love.”

“Sorry.” Spencer inhaled deeper, and the swelling of his chest cavity didn’t make his ribs hurt or anything else.

“Tell me how you feel?”

“Back hurts. I can breathe fine. Legs are fine. Arms are fine.”

“The ranch vet is on his way,” the man behind Hotch said. Carl. Spencer remembered his name. Jack and his riding teacher.

“Stay still until we get a look and clear your neck.”

“I didn’t hit my head,” Spencer said. Before he could say anything else, Jack shuffled a little and laid down along his body. Spencer nodded his acquiescence to Hotch. He watched the older man deflate like he had just finished a hard won war. Hotch pulled Spencer’s hand towards his face, kissing the knuckles. Spencer couldn’t get away. He settled in and waited.

Spencer closed his eyes, not liking the sun shining in his eyes. He heard running and then a new man was there when he reopened his eyes.

“Don’t touch him without him seeing you,” Hotch said.

“How did he hit?”

“No one saw. Arthur went backward.”

“I landed on my entire back. And my neck doesn’t hurt at all. I am not worried.”

“You know you, but I would feel better if we braced your neck before sitting you up.”

Spencer huffed but allowed it. Jack got up on his own, and the look on his face had Spencer feeling like shit. He had put that there. It had been an accident, but still, it was his fault. His back protested the move, but it was the muscles that were hurting and his skin. Not his bones. He settled down when his neck was let go of. The vet didn’t move closer, but Hotch moved behind him. Helping to support him.

“Raising your shirt,” Hotch said as his hands worked on untucking Spencer’s shirt. Gentle fingers raised the shirt up and moved down his back. He shivered at the touch. He hadn’t been touched like that outside of his doctor in years. “No broken skin but I think that you’ll bruise up a great deal.”

“You aren’t going to be riding for a few days, Arthur,” Carl said. The man took a step closer to Spencer, and he didn’t miss the way that Spencer tensed up. Carl stopped moving. “George I’ll come by tomorrow with the horses. I have plenty of time then. Take your husband home and get him settled into bed. I have a tub of cream that you can use on him that will help with his muscles.”

“Thank you.” Hotch looked at Jack and Spencer did too. Jack looked so very upset, and Spencer could understand why. Hotch had left the BAU no long after Haley’s death, so the injury was probably rare for the boy. “Jack, stay with Athair while I go and get the SUV so he doesn’t have to walk far and I don’t have to carry him all that far.”

“I wouldn’t let you carry me that far.” Spencer cringed at his own words and smiled at Hotch before he started to speak again. “I mean I don’t need you with an out of joint back while I am laid up.”

Carl chuckled, and the look on his face told Spencer that the man had read something into Spencer’s words. Spencer started to run them through his head, and then he realized that he’d made a reference to sex. Spencer felt his cheeks heating up, and it caused Carl to laugh more and harder. Spencer ran situations through his head, trying to figure out exactly what someone in a relationship would do. He turned a little, hissing at his back protesting and buried his nose in Hotch’s neck. Hiding his face, Spencer stayed there. The crowd disappeared away from where they were, and Spencer was happy. Hotch ran his hand through Spencer’s hair and pressed a kiss to the top of his hair.

“You have to let me up if you want to go home, Honey Bear.”

Spencer grimaced at the name but started to move. He pushed himself up and off of Hotch. Jack was right there, scuffing up dirt all around them as he tucked himself into Spencer’s side and tried to get the man to lean on him.

“I’m okay, Johnnie. I can sit up on my own. Come here.” Spencer pulled on the boy until Jack crawled into his lap. “I’m sorry I scared you. I didn’t mean to.”

Jack made a snuffling sound, and he buried his head in Spencer’s chest. Spencer wrapped his arm around Jack and held him close until his father came back and they could go home.

“Arthur?” a voice called out. Spencer turned to see a lady standing there. She smiled at him. Spencer recognized her as the local doctor. They had all been in for checkups, settling into the area weeks ago. Hotch had forced it so that a trip to the ER could be stopped if they go hurt as she made house calls. One of the only doctors in the area that did.

“I brought my daughter for her dressage lesson, and Carl said that you had taken a fall?”

“Doctor Cook. Yes. I fell off of my horse and landed on my back.”

“Do you mind me doing a quick exam? I have my script pad, and White Oak will do a delivery if I drop it off there after Amanda’s lesson.”

“You don’t have to go through that much trouble.”

“It’s no trouble. I see that Johnnie isn’t happy with you at the moment.”

Spencer nodded and saw that she had her stethoscope in her hand. He nodded towards it and smiled.

The doctor did a cursory exam, listening to his lungs and pressing around on his back. Spencer heard Hotch’s arrival with the SUV and was happy when Jack slid out of his lap and opened the back seat door.

“Well, Arthur, you are going to be black and blue, but I don’t feel any cracked ribs or any damage other than your muscles are going to seize up as soon as you get relaxed. I’m going to drop off a muscle relaxant and a mild pain killer to White Oak. I assume that is where you had Johnnie’s allergy medication filled at.”

“Yes. We have all three of us on record there,” Hotch said.

“Good. Amanda’s dressage lesson is going to last about an hour, and then I’ll drop them. I’ll ask the pharmacist to rush them.”

“I can drive and pick them up,” Hotch pointed out.

“You need to worry about him. Do you have your email address on file? I can email the things that he should do to not make his back worse until the muscles start to loosen. Usually, I would print them out, but that isn’t exactly an option.”

“That would be great, and yes my email is on my file. Maybe with instructions from a medical doctor, I can get him to actually do what I say.”

“Unlikely,” Spencer said, but there wasn’t any heat to it. His back was protesting sitting up on his own.

Doctor Cook looked between Spencer and Hotch a few times before she frowned.

“I think that the front seat will be better for Arthur. Lean it back so that he’s not putting as much pressure all down his spine.”

“Sure.” Hotch moved back towards the SUV.

“Carl said that you had a minor freak out and it was what caused you to fall. Do you feel comfortable talking about that here?”

“I was attacked in my home a few years back by someone I considered a friend. I was recovering from a gunshot wound, it was an accident while I was on the streets in California, gang related. The man was drunk, and he damaged my knee and the ligaments that had been injured. I wasn’t expecting Carl to touch me there and I had a minor flashback to that night. I have them on occasion.”

“So George…” Doctor Cook trailed off, and Spencer got her meaning.

“No. George has never hurt me. It was a flashback to a night that is one of the worst in my life. I sought counseling for it and was deemed recovered, but the chance of flashbacks will stay with me my entire life.”

“Good. For the short term, if you are having trouble sleeping, I can prescribe something that will help and won’t react with your muscle relaxants.”

“No, the relaxers will make me sleep, and if not, George knows how to help me sleep.”

“I’m sure he does. If you need anything, call my service.”

“Thank you so much, Doctor Cook,” Hotch said as he came up behind Spencer. He crouched to help Spencer stand. Spencer stood with a lot of aid from Hotch, much more than he wanted to admit to needing. “I’ll make sure to get him into you if he’s severely stiff for more than a few days.”

“Take care of him, George, Johnnie.” Doctor Cook offered a smile before she walked away from them.

“I’m sorry,” Hotch said.

“For what? You didn’t do this.”

“No, but I am sorry that I have to touch you.” Hotch sounded so sincere that Spencer wasn’t sure how to answer it. He braced his body against the SUV, turning to face Hotch. The man’s dark eyes were a sea of emotions, and Spencer didn’t know what to do with them. Hotch came willingly when Spencer reached up, despite protesting upper back muscles, and pulled the older man down for a kiss. Before then, Spencer had only allowed subtle and quick brushes of lips. This was different. He pulled Hotch’s lips in hard and fast, the kiss was making his brain fuzzy, and it wasn’t from a lack of oxygen. The first brush of a tongue across the seam of Spencer’s lips had him shivering. At the second brush, Spencer opened his lips. Hotch’s hold on Spencer shifted from holding him up with as little touching as possible to an arm wrapped around his waist and holding their bodies together.

Spencer pulled out of the kiss, panting for oxygen but he didn’t look up at Hotch’s face. Instead, he just stared at the man’s shirt. Spencer hadn’t meant to kiss him like that. Spencer could taste the man on his tongue, feel Hotch’s panting breaths on his face. The cold metal of the car was helping to calm him down, and he was sobering up. It felt like he was high. Spencer slipped into the front seat of the SUV, and Hotch buckled him in. Spencer could hear Jack in the back seat, but he ignored it all. Spencer didn’t understand why he had kissed Hotch like he had. Spencer hadn’t meant to, and he hadn’t planned on it. Spencer couldn’t blame medicine because he hadn’t taken it yet. He spent the entire ride back to the house trying to figure it out. His thoughts came back to the same thing.

The man that Spencer had thought Hotch to be before the attack was everything that Spencer had wanted in any kind of partner. That had been a hard-won truth that Spencer had found inside of himself. His mandatory evaluation that he had been put through hadn’t pulled that out of him. No that had come in Japan. He had taken a two-month vacation after he had been cleared healed enough to do extreme strenuous activity again. Morgan hadn’t wanted to let him go on it, but between Garcia and JJ making him understand that he didn’t have a choice in it, Morgan had finally seen reason. Spencer had healed more on that trip than he had in the months that had led up to it.

Spencer had come back from Japan more aware of himself and how the world saw him than he had before he had gone. Spencer knew that he was keeping Hotch at arm’s length because he didn’t trust himself not to fall for the damned bastard.

“Spencer?” Jack’s voice cut through Spencer’s musings.

“Yes, Jack?”

“Are you really okay?”

“Yes. I am. I’m just sore, but it’s no worse than getting a ball to a face in soccer. A few days of being careful and then I’ll be back to normal.”

“You aren’t going to do horse lessons anymore are you?” Jack sounded upset. Horribly upset. Spencer couldn’t turn around and look at him, so he looked over at his father and saw that the man was looking the rear view mirror at his son.

“When you fall off of a horse, you have to get back on. I’ll still do lessons.”

“Just not with Carl,” Hotch said.

“What?” Spencer and Jack asked at the same time.

“We can’t have you flashback like that again.”

“I won’t.”

“You can’t promise that, and if you start to call me Hotch in public, we will have a problem. I bought our three horses. Chaucer is the one that you rode last week, and you liked him. I’ll give you lessons at home.”

“And if I would rather have lessons with Carl?” Spencer asked because lessons with Hotch was not what he needed. That much close time to Hotch wasn’t going to be good.

“We will discuss that privately, but I am going to win.” The look on Hotch’s face was his stern look, the one that Spencer had learned meant that he knew he was going to win but not just win, he was going to devastate the other side. Spencer knew that with that look, Hotch was going to be hard to dissuade, but he wasn’t going to let Hotch win.

“Whatever you want to think, Hotch.” Spencer turned his head away from looking at Hotch and watched as the world passed him by. He had been over all the roads around the house. He knew the best way home, but Hotch went a different way that Jack liked better. It didn’t add but a few minutes and it passed by a lot of farms. Hotch didn’t go that way this time. He went the quicker way, the way that Spencer went when he was the one driving them home from lessons.

Hotch pulled closer to the house than he normally did. He parked right in front of the main stairs, and there was barely enough room to open the door. Jack was the first out of the car and ran around to open Spencer’s door. Spencer didn’t move until Hotch came around and was right there to help him. Spencer was able to turn on his own out of the seat, but when he moved to push himself out of the SUV, it hurt. Hotch walked around, and before Spencer could even protest, he was up in Hotch’s arms in a bridal carry.

“Jack, open the door.”

Jack ran forward.

“Hotch put me down,” Spencer demanded.

“Nope. This is going to better in the long run.”

“Better for you and me.” Hotch started up the stairs, and Spencer braced for more pain than he was in. Hotch took each stair gently and carefully, never hurting Spencer. Jack held the door open, and when Hotch stepped through but instead of going to the left and into the living room, he went up the stairs.

“HOTCH!” Spencer screamed, but he wasn’t stupid enough to even attempt to wiggle out of Hotch’s arms. “PUT ME DOWN!”

“Nope.” Hotch continued up the stairs. Spencer only just barely refrained from crossing his arms. Jack carefully darted up the stairs and around Hotch. Spencer watched the boy run to the master bedroom and open the door.

“Don’t even think about it, Hotch. If you take me in there, as soon as you leave the room I’m going back to my room.”

“You aren’t going to be able to take one set of stairs much less two. This room is the best because it has a bathroom closer than any other as well as a TV for you to watch and books that you’ve never read.”

“How do you know that I haven’t read them?” Spencer was affronted that Hotch even thought he could guess his reading habits after years of not talking.

“Because they are spy novels and you don’t read them unless you run out of things to read on jet rides home. I found a used book store that had a full set of the Fleming Bond novels. Those won’t take you much time at all, but I have a few from the library. Until I get that email from Doctor Cook, you are confined to bed.”

“Your bed,” Spencer said. Spencer tucked his legs in close as Hotch turned to walk sideways into the room.

“I will sleep elsewhere.” Hotch started to lay him down in the bed, gently. Spencer’s back protested the movement, but the pressure of the mattress top on his back didn’t make him hurt more.

“Damn right you are,” Spencer said when he could talk again.

“Jack, run downstairs and get sleeping clothes for Reid, please.”

“I have them at the foot of my bed,” Spencer called out when the boy took off like a rocket out of the room.

“You have two options for help on getting undressed and dressed again and doing it alone is not one. You have Jack or me.”

Spencer glared at the man. There was no way that he was going to get undressed in front of Jack. “Close your eyes.”

“Of course. I’m going to help you sit up for a minute while I tuck the bed clothes down. Then I’m going to help you lay down and lift your legs so I can pull them down farther. Once Jack gets up here, I’ll let you handle as much as you can alone, but we can use the blanket for modesty.”

Jack came running back into the room with the pajamas that Spencer had worn to bed the night before. He handed them to his father then left the room, pulling the door shut. Hotch gave up the pants before helping Spencer to sit up. It took longer than Spencer would have liked to do what Hotch had said about getting him undressed from street clothes and into bed clothes.

“Shirt, please,” Spencer said.

“I want to look at your back first, please.” Hotch set down a tub of something on the bed and then sat down on the edge of it. His eyes were closed.

“Okay. You can open your eyes.” Spencer braced himself for what was to come because outside of his regular doctor and a few other doctors after getting injured on cases, no one had seen him shirtless in a long time. Hotch’s eyes raked over his chest and arms for a few seconds before settling on his shoulder.

“What’s this?” Hotch touched the edge of the tattoo on Spencer’s shoulder. “A phoenix.”

“I got it after I finished rehabilitation. Morgan took me. He paid for it.”

“Why a phoenix?” Hotch asked. His fingers were not just tracing the edge anymore but the entirety of the tattoo. Spencer shivered, but the man didn’t take his fingers off of him, and Spencer didn’t want him to stop. Spencer knew then that he was screwed.

“Rebirth. I think that Morgan hoped that it would help and it did, but I never became the Spencer Reid that I had been before again.”

“He died in the ashes of what had been our friendship. I’m s-”

Spencer slapped his hand over Hotch’s mouth. “You’ve already said you are sorry. You don’t need to keep saying it. You really don’t. Just…give me actions. Show me who you are now.”

“I’m trying, but you aren’t letting me. It’s why I was forced to confront you.”

“I’ll try.” Spencer turned away from, not wanting to see his face. The older man moved around to get a better look at his back.

“Touching,” Hotch said. He waited until Spencer nodded before he touched Spencer’s shoulder blades. Hotch picked up the tub, and when it was cracked, Spencer could smell the aroma of a homemade essential oil and herb blend of a muscle rub. Spencer closed his eyes, but he could see still in his mind, Hotch rubbing it between his hands before placing those hands on him. Hotch was so careful and gentle as he spread it all over Spencer’s back. Spencer shifted around on the bed, tucking his legs up to where Spencer could wrap his arms around his legs and rest his head on his knee. The muscles in his back protested, but as he stayed like that, the pain started to fade. The gentle glide of hands on Spencer’s skin helped him settle down.

Hotch continued to rub on his back long after the cream was rubbed into his skin and Spencer didn’t ask him to stop. Spencer didn’t stop him when his hands moved up to his shoulders and started to rub. The hands moved down to his elbows before moving back up. The pressure was gone, but the hands were still there, rubbing. Spencer closed his eyes, the sensations making him sleepy.

When he was just on the edge of going fully to sleep, Spencer felt Hotch laying him down on the bed, there was a spike of pain, and Spencer hissed, but Hotch’s hands rubbed on his back again after he was laid down. When Spencer was settled on the bed, Hotch pulled the blankets up over him. Spencer stayed there, drifting in and out of rest that wasn’t full sleep until he heard the door open again awhile later.

Hotch sat down on the bed, coaxing Spencer onto his side.

“I have your muscle relaxant and a low-grade painkiller. It’s nonnarcotic.”

Spencer moved slowly to his side and lifted up so he could drink and not choke. Hotch handed him the pills, and Spencer popped them into his mouth before taking the glass of water from Hotch.

“Drink it all,” Hotch insisted.

Spencer swallowed down the water before he handed the glass back.

“Yell if you need anything, anything at all.”

“Thank you. For taking care of me.” Spencer meant it. Hotch smiled at him before helping him lay down again. Hotch stayed right there, hand rubbing lightly on Spencer’s back as the muscle relaxant took effect and made Spencer sleepy.

XxXxXxX

Aaron watched Spencer with Chaucer. It was two weeks post the younger man having a flashback and freaking out, falling onto his back from the horse at the ranch. Carl had brought the three horses to them the next day. Aaron had been unwilling to leave Spencer alone inside the house, so he had convinced him to come outside. Aaron’s spy books had been brought with him, and while Carl helped Aaron and Jack get the horses settled, Spencer had read in a chair in the shade of the stable. He had been so stiff for days but had done whatever Aaron asked him to as far as working on making sure the muscles didn’t freeze up.

Spencer had been acting different since that day, but Aaron wasn’t sure that it wasn’t an act. There was still something in the younger man’s eyes when Aaron caught him staring.

Every morning, Spencer came down to take care of Chaucer. Spencer hadn’t ridden him yet, and Aaron was going to change that, today. Spencer wasn’t scared of riding the horse, but he was afraid of hurting himself. After Jack’s last lesson, Aaron had bought a new saddle off of Carl, made for two people to use to ride. Aaron had plans to ride with Spencer on Chaucer. The horse was fit enough for it, even an extended lesson.

“Good morning,” Spencer said, never turning to look at Aaron but just seemingly knowing that he was there. “Did you need something?”

“Good morning to you too. I want to do your lesson today.”

“When?”

“Now. Jack has already eaten his breakfast, and I saw evidence of yours. I figure we could get the ride in before we take Jack for soccer.”

“I’ll get Chaucer ready.” Spencer picked up the reigns from the ground and started towards the stable. Aaron had interrupted their trek around the grounds. It was what the two did every single morning.

“The new saddle, please.”

“That’s too big for me.” Spencer turned to look at Aaron, his face full of confusion.

“I’m going to ride with you. It’ll help settle you down and get you relaxed. If you are relaxed, Chaucer will be relaxed.”

“Oh.” Spencer frowned but said nothing else before starting up to the stable. Aaron followed behind him. He stayed back enough so that Spencer could have privacy. Spencer talked to Chaucer all the time. Aaron had heard him talk to the other horses when he took care of them in the mornings, but he spoke to Chaucer more. Spencer took care of the horses in the morning, Jack in the afternoon, and Aaron at night.

Aaron watched Spencer as he saddled the horse. Chaucer was relaxed and kept turning his head to look at Spencer. When Chaucer was fully saddled, Spencer stepped up to his head. Aaron made a promise to himself that when they had to leave when it was all over, and Spencer went back to his life, Aaron would make sure that Chaucer went with him. There were stables in the northern DC area that would stable him so that Spencer could come and ride him as much as he wanted with the time the job allowed him.

“Go ahead and get up on him, I’ll get on after.” Aaron stepped closer, afraid that Spencer would get a little upset about getting up on Chaucer but Spencer stepped up onto the mounting block and swung his leg up and over. He settled into the saddle and looked over at Aaron.

“Ready.”

“Hold onto him. I’m going to move him up a few feet.”

“You don’t need a mounting block?”

“No.” Aaron urged Chaucer forward, and Aaron could tell the horse wasn’t sure about doing what he said, but when Spencer clicked his tongue, Chaucer moved forward enough to where Aaron could get up on him. Spencer tensed as soon as Aaron came into body contact with him. Aaron stayed still, waiting for Spencer to calm down.

A full sixty-seconds later, Spencer still hadn’t relaxed. Aaron laid his right hand on Spencer’s hip and his left on Spencer’s upper arm.

“Relax. I won’t let you fall.”

“Why did you choose this saddle compared a standard two-seater saddle?” Spencer asked, his voice small like he was scared of the answer. Aaron took the reins from him before he answered. Giving him time to settle himself down. While the situation wasn’t intimate the position was, and Aaron could understand why the younger man was asking.

“Because those saddles are good when both riders know what they are doing, but this one will allow you to feel what I do. The other has too much space between us.”

“Okay.” Spencer sounded like he believed it, but Aaron wasn’t sure.

“Now, I’m going to start us up, and after you settle down more, I’ll give you the reins.”

Aaron clicked his tongue and squeezed with his legs, and Chaucer started to move. Spencer Grabbed the horn with his right hand, and his left grabbed onto Aaron’s thigh. Aaron transferred the reins to one hand and wrapped his other around Spencer. Spencer inhaled, his stomach pushing itself inward but Aaron just tightened his arm a little and when Spencer exhaled, he loosened it up.

“Calm down,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear. Aaron kept his arm around the younger man, holding him close. The gate around the paddock was still open from where Aaron had entered it. He pressed with his left hand, and Chaucer turned that direction. His gait was slow and measured like Chaucer knew that Spencer was scared. “He doesn’t want to hurt you, Spencer. Just think like this is you walking him around by his rein. Don’t be afraid of him.”

“I’m not. I’m not afraid of Chaucer, and I’m not scared of falling.”

“Then what are you scared of?” Aaron knew there was something. There was fear in his eyes every single time he got on a horse.

“I’m afraid of the fact that me getting on a horse means that they found us. That this is the best way for me to escape. I don’t like trusting a horse to get me to safety.”

“It’s a last resort. I don’t want it to be our escape route but we are in the middle of nowhere and on foot is not an option. We can meet and then go on foot after we get far enough away. Once I am sure that you and Jack won’t get thrown riding, we can work on escape routes.” Aaron realized that the longer he talked, the more Spencer relaxed not just into Aaron’s body but onto Chaucer as well. Aaron walked them around the full breadth of the property twice before Spencer took his hand off of Aaron’s thigh. His hand was still on the horn, but Aaron kept a close eye on it. Another slow walk around the property and that hand that was on the horn loosened up.

Aaron took them around another few times before he handed over the reins. Spencer was the exact opposite of tense as he used his thighs to direct Chaucer around. Aaron didn’t say anything to him. Instead, he just held onto Spencer’s hips, trying not to react at all to the fact that he was pressed up into Spencer’s body. There was only so much willing away that he could do with his erection. There had always been an edge of an attraction to Spencer. From his mind and the way that it worked in the way that he looked at the world, to the way that he treated everyone around him. Aaron knew that not many ever looked at Spencer that way. There were those that only wanted him for his looks or his status, he probably had his share of people who only wanted him because he was the Unit Chief of the BAU. There had been plenty of them going after him before his divorce from Haley. After his divorce, there had been more.

Spencer kept everyone at a distance, and all it was doing was keeping him lonely. Aaron didn’t want that to be his own legacy on the team. Aaron’s hand was already painted all over the psyche of Spencer Reid, but Aaron couldn’t keep that guilt inside of him anymore. It had lived inside of him for years but being here with Spencer now, he knew that acting guilty wouldn’t make him feel any better. Aaron needed to do as Spencer said. Show Spencer the man that he was now. Show him how he had grown.

“So, Jack wants to invite the soccer team over for a barn sleepover. I was thinking that we could have the girls sleep up in the loft on sleeping bags and the boys down below. I could work on that fire pit, and we could roast dinner.”

“Roast dinner?”

“Hot dogs on sticks, wrap some potatoes in foil and set them on the edge. Maybe get a grate and​ do some hamburgers on it.”

“That doesn’t sound like it’s sanitary at all.”

Aaron couldn’t see Spencer face, but he was fairly sure of the look on it. It was the one that always had made Morgan laugh. The childhood of science and raising himself had made Spencer miss out on the fun things if being a child.

“How do you know if the meat gets up to temperature?”

“Well for the hotdogs, about the time they are almost bursting and with the hamburgers when there is no pink left.”

“The parents really want to trust their kids to two gay married men?”

“This isn’t like New York or DC. Jack’s an outgoing kid with no reservations about anything to the people around here, that means that we are raising him right. There might be a few who don’t send their kids because we are deviant, but for the most part, the kids will make the parents cave.”

“When?”

“Jack wants this weekend. It’s nearing the starting time of the championships and the season will be over, and kids will scatter to other activities for the start of school.”

“The kids just want to go to vukojebina.”

“What?” Aaron pressed with his left thigh, turning Chaucer back towards the stable.

“It’s a Serbian/Croatian word that doesn’t translate well into English, but it means the place where wolves fuck. Meaning out of the way, backwoods home. Most of the kids in Jack’s soccer group live in the city. Farms and even ranches are places that surprise them.”

“How did you even learn that word?”

“I learned it when I was learning Croatian.”

“Why were you learning Croatian?” Aaron slid his hand from Spencer’s hip to his stomach. He shifted his feet in his stirrups.

“Because I could. What are you doing?” Spencer wasn’t tense but his tone was a little wary.

“Once we get back into the paddock, I want to have Chaucer trot.”

“I’ve never done that.”

“I won’t let you fall or hurt yourself. We are only going to do it for a few seconds then rest, repeat. Give Chaucer a little more on the reins, and it might be best if you hold the horn. Try not to slam down onto Chaucer. His gait is going to change. If you start to lose control and go to slam down, go backward and slam down into me. Use your ankles more than your legs to tighten and release.”

Aaron guided Spencer and Chaucer through seven rounds of a few seconds of trotting before he kept them at a walk again. From the pumping of his blood from the higher speed to the feel of Spencer nearly sitting in his lap for the entirety of each trot. Aaron’s leg muscles were strong from running so he was able to help Spencer post for the trot before relaxing back down into the saddle. Aaron didn’t think that it would be long before Spencer was okay trotting on his own.

“You are doing wonderful,” Aaron said as he watched Spencer brush down Chaucer. Handsome nickered from his stall, shaking his head for attention. Aaron moved over to him for a few minutes of love. Jack was just as enamored with his Oreo as Spencer was with Chaucer. Aaron would have to see about getting all of them back to Virginia when it was time.

“I’m glad you think so. I…” Spencer buried his face into Chaucer’s mane. “I had a good time this morning, Aaron.”

Aaron’s heart clenched at the sound of his real name coming from Spencer’s lips. His real first name at that.

“I’m glad. Until classes start, we can ride in the mornings. After classes start, we can do afternoons or evenings.”

“I’d like that.” Spencer smiled at Aaron and Aaron lost the ability to breathe for a few seconds. That smile, Aaron had never seen before. Aaron stepped closer to Spencer, cupping the side of his face and kissing Spencer. Spencer’s hands pressed into Aaron’s stomach, and Aaron was afraid that he was going to be shoved back but instead of pushing, the hands curled into him and held him there. Aaron held Spencer’s face and when he parted his lips, and he licked at Spencer’s lips, those lips parted. Spencer tasted like heaven to Aaron.

Spencer was gone before Aaron could even process that Spencer’s lips were no longer pressed to his own. Aaron knew that going after him wasn’t going to do any good. While it would give Spencer time to entrench himself in the basement, going after him would just make him feel like he was being trapped. So Aaron finished taking care of Chaucer and gave treats to the rest of the horses before he went up to the house.

Jack was sitting on the porch with his soccer bag in front of his feet when Aaron got up to the house. Jack was reading a book and smiling as he did. Spencer exited the side door of the house with a slightly panicked smile on his face.

“You have enough time to change if you want,” Spencer said as he lifted up Jack’s bag.

“I’m fine. You are going with us today?” Aaron was a little shocked it was Spencer’s library run day.

“I thought maybe after we eat lunch out in Belpre I thought we could stop at the library, together.”

“That sounds perfect.”

Part 4-The Flamingo

Spencer stumbled into the kitchen. The kids were all still asleep in the barn. Or most were. Jack and a girl that it took a second for Spencer to remember her name, Serena were sitting at the island. Jack had a glass of water and Serena a glass of orange juice.

“What are you doing inside?”

“Serena was thirsty, and you said that no one should wander alone in the dark and it’s still dark so I said I would walk her up.”

“Well your dad is going to be waking everyone up in a little bit, so you two head back down. He might just let you two help on the prank he has planned.”

Serena downed her juice while Jack moved over to the counter and set his glass on the little tray with the letter J on it. The two kids walked out of the kitchen and as soon as they were off of the porch, they were running towards the barn. Spencer turned to the coffee pot and added water to it from the jug on the counter before he scooped the grounds into the basket. He’d done his research into the area, and after he had, it had been bottled water for them for everything. He wasn’t sure the exact issues that C8 could or would cause, but he wasn’t going to be lax in keeping things away from himself, much less let it harm Jack.

The silence of the house was happiness to Spencer. The kids had been up and moving around in shifts all night long. Some stayed up way too late, and others had woken up several times in the night when animals moved around in the bushes around the barn. Spencer had gotten used to the animals around then, so none of those noises had woken him up, but the kids kept on doing it. Spencer shook his head to clear his thoughts as the smell of coffee filled his nose.

There had been no silence since the kids had swarmed the property at nine a.m. the day before. Only a few had come that early and the rest were dropped off as the day went. Along with Jack, there were thirteen other kids in the barn in various stages of sleeping. Aaron was still asleep on the ground in his sleeping bag. Jack had been the one to set up the bags all over, and he had placed Spencer’s right beside his father’s. Spencer would have been happy sleeping elsewhere, but Jack had pouted. That boy had learned that if he pouted, Spencer usually caved. It got Jack his way with books and even movies. Aaron had left Jack’s books solely in Spencer’s purview. Aaron said that it was because Spencer could read so quickly and therefore could read the books before Jack did.

The lines that Spencer had tried so hard to keep entirely drawn in the sand were blowing away like he was in a storm. There was no separating him and Aaron and Jack anymore. Spencer had stayed in Aaron’s bed for two nights before he talked the man into letting him go back to his basement bedroom, but after that, it was like he wasn’t a hanger on anymore. Jack and Aaron wanted him to be there every single meal. It was strange to him as he had never had anyone who wanted him around all the time, except for Henry. Spencer still ran at night, but it was his only solitude anymore.

Just as the coffee finished its steady stream and started to drip, Spencer felt hands on his hips. He closed his eyes and tried to hold in the shiver, but Spencer’s body betrayed him. Spencer didn’t want to want the affection that Aaron gave him, but he did. Aaron was only affectionate when others were around. There were times that he craved the affection when they were alone, but he denied himself.

“Good morning, Tigre,” Spencer said as Aaron wrapped his arms around Spencer’s waist. Aaron nuzzled in at Spencer’s neck, taking a deep breath. Aaron opened his mouth, his lips tracing the pulse point on Spencer’s neck.

“Good morning, Love,” Aaron mumbled into Spencer’s skin. The nickname was new, and Spencer didn’t know what to think of it or the lips on his skin. There were no kids around. Aaron turned Spencer around, cupping his cheeks. He leaned in and kissed Spencer. Spencer gasped as Aaron’s hands settled on his hips, holding him in the position he wanted. As soon as Spencer’s lips parted, Aaron’s tongue was there. Spencer had never been a big fan of kissing. It was a means to an end, orgasm being the end. Kissing Aaron though was becoming addictive.

Spencer could feel himself getting aroused. It was a near constant state for him when he was around Aaron in public. Aaron took a half step closer, pressing their bodies together. Spencer could feel that Aaron was slightly aroused as well. Spencer moaned, feeling himself harden even more. It was too much and not enough at the same time. This was the first time that they had ever gone that far. Spencer’s hands were immobile at his sides, he wanted to reach out and touch, but he was afraid to. He was afraid of what he would do. What he would allow to happen.

Aaron pulled back with a gentle nip to Spencer’s bottom lip. Spencer forced his eyes up into Aaron’s, and he saw happiness in those eyes. Spencer’s stomach flopped at the look he was getting. Aaron leaned in and nuzzled at Spencer’s ear, his breath ghosting over it as he started to talk.

“A few kids followed me up here. One of them convinced the others that we don’t kiss. I wanted to make sure that they knew that we did.”

“What?” Spencer tried to turn his head to look at the door, but Aaron’s hand came up and stopped him. Aaron pressed a chaste kiss to Spencer’s lips.

“Don’t look. It’s a child’s curiosity. They need to see that we aren’t different from their own mom and dad. Just let them peep at us while we are being cute.”

Spencer nodded, finally raising his hands up and wrapping his arms around Aaron’s waist. Spencer turned his head to where he was looking away from where the kids were, laying his head on Aaron’s shoulder. In the silence that followed, Spencer could hear faint giggles. A blush was starting on his face, and he knew that he would be red all day long with the kids.

The sound of a few kids talking outside the window had Aaron pulling back from Spencer. Spencer turned to look out and saw that two of the boys were heading towards the small area of the woods that were along the side of the house where the boys were going to relieve themselves. The girls went inside, but there were only six of them compared to the ten boys. Spencer watched as the one boy slipped into the woods while the other watched. After a minute, the boys swapped. The sound of something running had Spencer looking and saw the two boys were freaked out until a bunny ran across the front of the yard. The boys slumped in relief.

“So how was your first night sleeping in a barn?” Aaron asked.

“Not as terrible as I thought it would be. Do you want to get some food started? You never did tell me what you wanted to make.”

“Oh, we are cooking at the fire pit again. I bought a big cast iron griddle. The kids can eat in shifts. Pancakes and bacon.”

“You are taking to this rural life well, from California and big cities.”

“Country boy at heart here, love. I was happy to follow you to here, Remember? One of these days before it gets too cold we are going to ship Johnnie off to one of his friends and go camping alone.”

“Why?”

“For fun.”

“What kind of fun can we have in the wild that we can’t have in our own beds?”

“Let’s not get into that. I’ll go start the fire again, and you can work on the pancake batter.” Aaron pulled back from Spencer, even more, smiling as he did so. He turned, and Spencer could hear feet scrambling off the porch.

Spencer busied himself with the pancake batter as Aaron asked as well as getting the plastic cups down for milk and juice. As he reached past one of the cups, his hand hit a baggie. He looked at it and remembered buying it because one of the boys was gluten intolerant. Spencer grabbed it down and read the directions. He grabbed a clean mixing bowl and worked on mixing that batter. There was more of it than what was needed for the one kid, and Spencer decided that it was the kind of pancake that he would eat. Stefan would be the first to eat, getting pancakes that were not tainted.

“Athair?” Jack asked from behind, startling Spencer. He turned around to see that Jack wasn’t alone.

“Yes?”

“You remember Maggie right?”

“Yes.”

“Can you talk to her? I can run everything down to Dad.” Jack looked upset but scared as well. Spencer didn’t like it, not at all.

“Sure. Take this down first.” Spencer handed him the mixing bowl with the gluten free pancake mix. “This is for Stefan. Make sure your father knows.”

“I will.” Jack took the bowl and the cups. “I’ll be back for the rest.”

Spencer set everything down on the edge of the counter that Jack needed to take down to Aaron. Maggie was standing by the back door, not an inch farther in than she needed to be. Spencer smiled at her.

“Do you want to meet me on the front porch?”

“Sure.”

Spencer turned to go into the living room while Maggie went out the back door. Spencer pulled his phone from his pocket and texted Aaron that he was going to be having a heart to heart with one of the kids and that Jack was going to be bringing everything down to him. Spencer shoved his phone back in his pocket as he crossed through. Maggie was already seated on the top stair.

“I don’t know why J wants me to talk to you,” Maggie said.

“What is going on in your life?” Spencer asked. Maggie shrugged, and when she did, Spencer could see the bruise on her arm. Spencer sat down with his legs crossed. “How old are you?”

“Twelve.”

“Do you have any older siblings?”

“I live with my aunt.”

“And who is your aunt?”

Maggie pressed her lips into a line.

“How did you get that bruise?”

Maggie lifted her arm and looked. She frowned but didn’t try and cover it up. She raised the hem of her sleeve up further, and Spencer could see the full hand print shaped bruise.

“Would you rather that J was here?”

Maggie shook her head. Her hands picked at the cuffs of her leather wristbands. Jack had talked about how she never took them off. Maggie sighed and unsnapped the first one. She held out her hand.

“J said you would help and I didn’t know how you would be able to.” Maggie’s wrist was ringed in fading and fresh bruises.

“Who is doing this to you?”

“They said that they would kill my aunt and take me away to make sure that I knew they meant business. And I know that I am not the only one that they do this to.”

“More than one?”

“Of the people who hurt me? Yes.”

“And you aren’t going to tell me a name?”

Maggie shook her head.

“You know that I have to report this right?”

“That’s what J said.”

“Then why can’t you tell me who hurt you?”

“Because I won’t have told on them.”

“I see. Well, anytime that you want to stay the night here, let J know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Abbey.”

“You are welcome. Now, why don’t you go out and get some breakfast?”

Maggie took off at a run. Spencer watched her. There were bruises and given what Maggie had said, there were probably bruises all over and given that more than one person was involved, it wasn’t just physical abuse. Spencer moved into the living room, finding Aaron’s laptop and logging into it.

Spencer sent a message to Aaron that something had come up and that he was going to be in the living room for a while. Aaron messaged back that he understood. It didn’t take Spencer long at all to find all of the information that he needed. There was something wrong in the town of Belpre and Spencer really wanted to figure out what it was but he couldn’t. He couldn’t just go and ask questions. That would paint him in the spotlight. However, he had ways of hiding his trail and getting information into where it would do good. There had been three suicides in Belpre for kids under the age of thirteen in the past two years. There had only been a single case of children under the age of thirteen in the prior twenty years.

A half an hour later, Spencer had an email sent off towards a general account that had been set up and was used by the single WitSec agent who would monitor them. An equivocal death investigation wasn’t done much by the BAU but for a small town like this one with a mortality rate that high for suicide they would make the exception. If the BAU came to Belpre, the deaths went back farther than the time that they had been there so there was little chance they would be in the line of fire as people who were suspected.

“You okay?” Aaron asked as he entered the living room through the front door. Spencer shook his head back and forth but didn’t answer. “Do you want me to leave?”

Spencer almost nodded his head. He had started the upward movement when he thought about it for another second and shook his head back and forth again. Aaron came over and sat down right at Spencer’s hip. It was strange to Spencer to want the touch of Aaron, even before the man made it known that he was going to touch.

“We can talk when we get the kids all off with their parents,” Aaron said as he pushed back the hair that had fallen on Spencer’s face.

“I’m waiting to hear back from the Robertson’s about the EDI from the Bureau,” Spencer said. The Robertsons was the name that they used to talk about their WitSec handler, just in case a kid was listening in.

“Really?” Aaron looked shocked and more than a little upset.

“Three suicides in kids under thirteen in the past twenty-three months,” Spencer leaned in and whispered into Aaron’s ear.

“You trying to draw in the Bauer’s?”

Spencer frowned. Bauer was a new name. He tried to puzzle it over and then it hit him. BAUers. Spencer snorted and laughed at how quickly Aaron had come up with that, or he had been sitting on it for a while. Spencer nodded in answer.

“I’m going to head back out and wrangle the kids before the sugar high from the pancakes hit. Come and join us. They are enjoying sitting by the fire until it starts to get too hot. I’ve already had one set of parents call and ask when they can pick up their daughter. I figure that by noon we will be child free, or at least mostly. Come out when you can.”

“I’ll be there soon. Just have to do some wiping of information.”

Aaron kissed the side of Spencer’s head as he stood up. Spencer watched Aaron leave the room and felt a knot forming in his stomach. He didn’t even want to think on what was going to happen if the BAU did come to Belpre, Spencer really hoped it wasn’t the A Team. Rossi would know Jack, the rest of the team would know him with a little help, even with a different hair color. Even Brannon would know Jack and the man had only met Jack once. Brannon had only heard about the good that the man he had replaced had done. The evil was kept a team secret. The only time that Morgan ever even talked about Aaron was when something happened to Spencer, and his knee hurt. Even then though he was only referred to as he or asshole. Brannon was smart though, and Spencer was sure that he figured out that whatever happened with his knee had to do with why Aaron left the team.

No matter what, the kids in Belpre deserved justice, and for Maggie to be afraid, it was someone that could do some harm to even Aaron and Spencer. Spencer got up off the couch and moved to the basement to change. He found a pair of jeans that he had bought just the week before. He had tried them on and came out of the dressing room to see how they felt as he had walked. Aaron’s eyes had attached themselves to Spencer’s ass and hadn’t stopped looking until Spencer had gone back in. He slipped on an A-shirt before heading back upstairs and into Aaron’s bedroom. He dug through the closet and found a long sleeved T-shirt that he liked and tugged it over his head. There was little of Spencer’s clothes that Aaron could fit into, just a little small across the shoulders but Spencer had taken to at least once a week wearing something of Aaron’s when they were out in public.

The sound of laughing kids greeted Spencer’s ears as he came down the stairs. Aaron was in the kitchen with all of the kids as they looped around the island in the kitchen, putting their plates in the trash and their cups and forks in the sink. Maggie looked back at Spencer and smiled as she stepped out the door.

XxXxXxX

Aaron watched as Spencer galloped ahead of him on the trail. It was nice to see him so settled on Chaucer that he felt that he could go ahead of Aaron so fast and so sure. It also felt sad because it meant that Aaron wasn’t needed to ride on Chaucer with him anymore. Aaron missed that closeness because things had been busy with Aaron getting ready to start to teach at the college it was taking up all of Aaron’s time and getting Jack ready for homeschooling was taking up all of Spencer’s. The Marshals had slipped packets of info on Virginia and DC’s requirements for homeschooling as well as Ohio’s in the moving containers. Aaron had been unsure of how willing Jack would be to learn from Spencer, but Jack was looking forward to it.

Chaucer’s constant patter of hooves told Aaron where to go on the trails in the woods. He smiled as Chaucer took Spencer right where Aaron wanted him to go. Aaron had big plans, and the horse was doing what he wanted easily. Aaron had been the one to take Chaucer out to teach him the paths that would get them to safety. Oreo knew the trails well and would turn the correct way without prompting from Aaron. Chaucer liked to investigate things, and Handsome was more than happy to do what he wanted, but if Aaron prompted, he would go the way he needed to.

The sound of a near galloping horse stopped, and Aaron smiled. Chaucer had stopped in the clearing. The day was bright and sunny but not too warm, especially with the breeze. Handsome caught up to Chaucer and Spencer, stopping just as they entered the clearing.

“This is pretty,” Spencer said, not looking back at Aaron.

“I know. Why don’t you hop off of Chaucer and let him have a rest?” Aaron asked. Spencer did turn around then, giving Aaron a weird look. “Spencer?”

“Why? We won’t make it back in time for lunch.”

“I brought lunch with us. It’s in the saddle bags.” Aaron patted the one under his left hand gently. Spencer’s eyes narrowed, and he still didn’t move to get off of Chaucer. Aaron slid off of Handsome and wrapped the reins around the horn. Handsome wouldn’t leave the clearing. He hadn’t for any of the times that Aaron had spent in the clearing.

Aaron moved over to where Spencer was still sitting astride Chaucer. He reached up and coaxed Spencer into slinging his leg over from the far side. Aaron grabbed Spencer’s hips and tried to tug him down. Spencer resisted for a few seconds before he gave in and slid down from the saddle. Aaron didn’t step back at all, so Spencer’s chest and groin pressed along Aaron as he moved down. Chaucer moved a little, and it pushed Spencer closer to Aaron, the genius’s hands settled on Aaron’s shoulders for balance. Aaron’s eyes were focused on Spencer’s lips, especially after Spencer licked them, a habit that Aaron remembered well from before. Aaron’s reserve crumbled. He’d proven in the past that he wasn’t a strong man and Aaron wasn’t ever going to be able to show that he wasn’t after this either.

Dipping his head just a little, Aaron took Spencer’s mouth in a kiss. Spencer’s hands tightened on Aaron’s shoulders but didn’t push him away. Instead, Spencer’s mouth opened up, and Aaron pushed his tongue inside. Aaron’s entire body shuddered at the taste of Spencer. Chaucer didn’t move as Aaron pressed Spencer into the side of the horse. Aaron held tight with his hands on Spencer’s hips as he felt the first touch of Spencer’s tongue on his own. Aaron had never felt himself harden as quick as he did as he felt Spencer thrust into him, seeking friction for his own cock. Aaron held on just a little tighter with his left hand as he let go with his right. He reached up and wrapped his arm around Spencer’s back, holding the back of Spencer’s head with his hand.

Aaron used his hand on Spencer’s hip to keep him right where he wanted him as he chased that feeling of his cock pressing into Spencer. Spencer’s hands moved from his shoulders to wrapped around Aaron’s neck. Aaron pushed into Spencer a little harder, and this time instead of staying, Chaucer moved. They stumbled as one. Aaron tried to pull Spencer into him to stop them from falling, but Aaron pulled too much as Spencer tilted too far forward and Aaron ended up on his back on the ground with Spencer on top of him. The kiss didn’t break even though their lips and teeth crashed together with a little harder than Aaron would have liked.

Spencer tried to get up to his knees, or something and Aaron didn’t want that. He didn’t want Spencer to move away from him at all. Aaron rolled them over, blanketing Spencer’s body with his own. Aaron straddled Spencer, pressing his legs into Spencer’s and helping to hold him down. Instead of holding Spencer’s head, Aaron braced himself on the ground, grabbing grass to help keep himself in place. Spencer’s hands grabbed Aaron’s shirt, right at his abdomen. His fingers dug into skin, raking down even through the shirt as he grabbed a hold. Their tongues danced, and Aaron let Spencer have control of that aspect of the kiss. The younger man kissed like he hadn’t ever kissed anyone before.

Aaron didn’t know if it was from his Spencer’s need for touch or that he was so desperate for Aaron that he had no finesse, but for Aaron, it was one of the better kisses. Spencer was losing control. Aaron was making Spencer lose control. Spencer Reid who was so in control of himself that Aaron could barely read him.

When Spencer’s fingers raked over Aaron’s skin again, only thing time it was the nail on skin, Aaron came. He muffled his cry of pleasure in Spencer’s mouth. Aaron hadn’t come in his pants since he was a teenager. Spencer’s hands raked at his skin harder and harder as Aaron tried to remain upright and not sink down into Spencer. He could barely breathe, much less keep up on the kissing.

Aaron panted into Spencer’s mouth as he kept his eyes closed. He didn’t want to see the look on Spencer’s face on the fact that he had come so quickly. Right when Aaron had got his breath back, Aaron felt himself rolled onto his back. When Aaron opened his eyes, he expected to see Spencer hovering above him, but there were just blue skies. Aaron turned to his side to see Spencer right there at Chaucer’s side.

“Spencer?” Aaron called out. There was nothing from the younger man until Aaron grunted as he shifted to his knees before getting up. Spencer was shaking his head back and forth, rubbing his face in Chaucer’s mane. Aaron stood up and reached out, not wanting to touch if Spencer really didn’t want him to. Spencer didn’t say anything, he just kept rubbing his face on Chaucer’s body. Aaron brushed the tips of his fingers along Spencer’s shoulder and waited.

“What is this to you?” Spencer asked.

“What do you mean?” Aaron asked, not understanding at all what Spencer was saying.

“This, whatever this is between us.”

“Do you want me to name it or do you want me to tell you what I want from you?”

“I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what you want.”

“I don’t know the answer to any of that. I like being around you. I miss you when you are gone. I don’t like to see you in pain. I don’t know if there is an answer to the question as it stands right now. I know that I want to find out the answer to your question.”

“If Lewis and Arnold were found right now, what would you do?”

“In regards to what? I’d go home. I’d find a place to board the horses because there is no leaving for you and Jack without them. I would make sure that you weren’t able to hide from me anymore.”

“What if I don’t know what I want?” Spencer asked.

Aaron’s stomach fell a little. He hadn’t expected that to be a question that Spencer asked. He wasn’t sure what he wanted his answer to be. When he figured out what was wrong with Spencer, Aaron started to smile. He stepped up close to Spencer his hand closing around Spencer’s upper arm.

“Why do you have to know this instant what you want?” Aaron asked, his breath ghosting over Spencer’s neck because of how close they were. Aaron grimaced a little at the feel of his release in his pants. He was thankful he’d packed wipes to clean their hands with before and after eating. He could use them to clean himself up, once he had talked Spencer out of running. Aaron wasn’t going to even lie to himself. It was what Spencer was thinking about doing. Aaron wrapped his arms around Spencer trying to keep it non-sexual, just wanting him to know that he wasn’t alone. “We are here for the time being. Why can’t we just do what feels right, do what we want, and go with the flow?”

“Aaron Hotchner, going with the flow? Not planning every single second of his life?” Spencer’s tone was playful, but there was something underneath it. Aaron wondered if Spencer was scared.

“I’ve learned that I don’t need to plan every single second. I go with the flow and go with what feels right.”

“Does this feel right?” Spencer asked, his voice so quiet that Aaron almost didn’t hear him.

“Yes.”

Spencer turned around in Aaron’s arms. He looked at Aaron’s eyes, looking scared. Aaron leaned down and kissed him, gently. Spencer melted into the kiss. Aaron cupped his cheeks, holding Spencer in place. Aaron didn’t press for more than just the kiss.

A small grumble from Aaron’s stomach had Spencer laughing into the kiss. Aaron pulled back and smiled at the genius.

“Let’s deal with the future when it happens. We can just be together.”

“That’s not a healthy way to deal with anything,” Spencer said, but he didn’t look upset.

“Right now, what else can we do? We have an ax hanging over our heads. There are two serial killers out there hunting Jack and us. We are not in a position to even attempt anything remotely like we would normally do. We are playing a game with ourselves as we are everyone around us. Once this is all over, we can see what comes of what happens here. I know that I don’t want to go back to how we were. With you hiding in the basement whenever I am home and never seeing you. Do you?”

“No.” Spencer shook his head, shaking Aaron’s body a little from where he was still cupping the younger man’s cheeks.

“Okay. I didn’t hurt you did I?” Aaron asked. Spencer’s face wrinkled in confusion. It looked cute on him. “We fell on the ground, Spencer.”

“No, I’m fine. How is your stomach?” Spencer’s hands lifted Aaron’s shirt before Aaron could even answer. His left hand held up the shirt while his right traced over the barely there red scratches on Aaron’s stomach. Spencer’s nimble fingers were hesitant as he discovered the darkest red of the marks. Aaron wasn’t sure what the younger man was going to do but dropping to his knees and pressing a kiss on the top of the red mark wasn’t it. Aaron’s hands were dislodged from Spencer’s face, so he settled one on the back of Spencer’s head and gripped his hair. It wasn’t supposed to be erotic, but it was. Pleasure flooded Aaron’s body, and he felt his cock give a half-hearted jerk, but there was nothing else for it.

Spencer laid kisses over every single scratch he had inflicted on Aaron’s body before he stood up and kissed Aaron’s lips. Aaron watched Spencer’s eyes the entire time. Spencer looked like a frightened kitten, but he was trying. Aaron reached up with his free hand and cupped Spencer’s cheek, pulling their lips apart.

“We don’t have to do anything, Spencer. I’m more hungry than anything else.” Aaron let go of Spencer’s face and reached down to untangle Spencer’s hand from his shirt. Spencer nodded. Aaron looked down to see that he was still half hard in his pants, but the growl from Spencer’s stomach forestalled any thoughts of getting the younger man off. Aaron turned his head to find where Handsome had wandered off to, the horse was in a small patch of grass that had almost no wildflowers in it, unlike the rest of the clearing. “You pick where you want me to set up the picnic.”

“Okay,” Spencer said, but he dove back in for a straightforward and quick kiss. Spencer stepped back to be able to start to turn around and look for a place. Aaron moved towards Handsome, finding his horse content in the patch of grass he had found. Aaron dug around for the wipes and set about cleaning himself up. He made sure to slip those wipes into the trash bag that he had brought. The food was simple and just consisted of sandwiches and some veggies. Aaron had slipped reusable ice packs just straight into the saddle bag with the food. Drinks were bottles of water that were on the other side. It was simple fare but things that Aaron knew that Spencer liked, or he at least ate when given and didn’t eat too slowly. Aaron had realized that Spencer didn’t eat things that he couldn’t stand just a few months into him being on the team. Things he didn’t care for, he would eat if given by someone he trusted. Finding what he liked and what he didn’t had been something that JJ had gotten down to a science by the time that Aaron had left the team. The Spencer in front of him though was harder to read on what he didn’t and did like. It was hard, but Aaron was learning, or Spencer was allowing him to see more.

“HERE!” Spencer yelled from the far side of the clearing. Aaron turned to look at him and found Spencer waving at him like Aaron might have trouble seeing him. Aaron waved back and moved around Handsome to dig out the water and the blanket. There was a nice breeze so the fact that Spencer had picked a spot that was getting full sun didn’t bother Aaron at all.

“Have you heard anything about the team?” Aaron asked as he got close enough to where they could talk without having to yell.

“No. Nothing. I’m sure that when the BAU goes to Belpre, we will know. I just hope that my team isn’t the one to get it. We will have to make sure to keep a good check.”

“Yes. Soccer is over, so we don’t go into town much at all. We can just keep going to Marietta for things if you want.” Aaron handed over the blanket as his other arm was full of food so he couldn’t lay it out.

“For now, Belpre should be safe.” Spencer unfolded the blanket with care and flipped it out a few times before letting it fully drift to the grass covered ground. Aaron took a step closer, but Spencer dropped to his knees and tried to flatten out the blanket, making sure to flip turned corners out. Aaron laughed. Spencer’s entire body stiffened and his hand that had been reaching out to push out a wrinkle pulled back into his body.

“Spencer, there is no getting it perfect with the grass underneath. Just let me sit down.”

“Okay,” Spencer said as he sat down on his ass on the blanket, in the corner farthest from Aaron. Aaron was going to allow it. He knew that he shouldn’t have laughed, he had just been shocked by seeing the younger man trying to make things perfect. Aaron hadn’t seen that side of him in a long time. The Spencer that sought to do everything that he could to make things perfect so that no one could say a thing that would get him to feel small.

“You don’t need to be like that with me, Spencer,” Aaron said as he handed over Spencer’s bottle of water. “You can’t make everything perfect. There is nothing that you can do that will make me not want this. I shouldn’t have laughed, I wasn’t doing it in a mean way.”

“I know I…do you know what it’s like to see things happen in movies or read about them in books but one has never actually done it in life? I know what a picnic is. I know what happens during them from books and from the few movies I have watched that have them in them.”

“When was the last time you were on a date?”

Spencer’s mouth went slack and his eyes kind of went distant. Aaron knew the look well as the one that he wore when he was thinking, trawling his memory for things.

“Does kissing Lila Archer in a pool after she forced me in count as a date? Or what happened after before I had to arrest her friend?” Spencer asked.

“No.”

“Then never.”

Aaron couldn’t help that his mouth fell open in pure shock. He just looked at Spencer, trying to figure out if he was joking or not. The look on Spencer’s face said that he wasn’t.

“How?”

“How have I never been on a date? Sex doesn’t need a date when it’s a bunch of science kids who don’t see the point in doing stupid things when both parties know that it’s just sex. Waiting on the results of an experiment can take time, and an orgasm is a great way to pass the time. I’ve kept in contact with a great many of them over the years, and when that itch really needs to be filled, it’s easy to meet up.” Spencer grabbed the baggie of vegetables that was closest to him, and he opened it, taking out a celery stick.

“When was the last time that you had sex?”

“I’d prefer to not answer that.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to and there should be no other reason why.”

“The last time that I had sex with another person was with Haley, while I was suspended. I turned my focus to work and then after Haley’s death I did as you said and I focused on Jack. So Spencer, is your last time of sex before or after that?”

Spencer’s head didn’t move up, but he shrugged. His fingers fiddled with a carrot that was still inside the bag.

“Austin?” Aaron asked.

Spencer’s head shot up, and he looked at Aaron in shock.

“Morgan hoped that Austin would go somewhere. I don’t know if he thought you were that helpless or what but he really wanted to see you with anyone.”

“I know. Morgan backed off for a while after everything with my knee but a few years back he started trying again. He tried to get me to talk to this lady that I wrote to a few years ago when I was having trouble with migraines. I didn’t want a relationship but I think it was because he finally was starting to settle down, he wanted to see me settled down. He still tries to get me to agree to a blind date with one of Savannah’s friends from the hospital. Another doctor lady that Savannah says is a true southern belle.”

“I’d stay away from that. No matter how doctorly she is. She can’t be right for you at all. I stayed away from the belles when I was in school, despite my mother’s best efforts.”

“That’s why you loved Haley, you thought that she wasn’t like the other social climbers.”

Aaron didn’t answer other than to shrug his shoulders. He sighed and opened up his sandwich bag.

“She never acted like that. She was happy to be a stay at home wife, yes but she never once made it seem like she was marrying me for money.”

“So prestige?”

“I don’t know. Haley never wanted me to stop being a lawyer. I think that she wanted me to go into politics.”

“You can’t stand politics, you never have.”

“I don’t know if she thought that if she pressed me enough that it would make me change my mind, but there was no way I was ever going to run for any type of political office.”

“What did you do?”

“What?” Aaron asked.

“Before this, before going into hiding. What were you doing for a job?”

“A few cases for a law firm in the area. I kept the load light so that I could focus on Jack.”

“What kind of cases?”

Aaron frowned as he looked at Spencer, but the younger man still wasn’t looking at him, but what he could see of his face, he could tell that he was genuinely interested. Aaron talked to him about his job between bites. Some of the cases that he worked on but that the central part of his job was a consultant for the cops to work out the legalities while still making their job easier without worrying about cases being thrown. Aaron mainly dealt with family law cases for the ones that he worked on personally. Spencer ate and listened when all of his sandwich was gone, he finished off his veggies. Aaron ate his a lot slower. He spent more time talking.

When Aaron finished off his sandwich, he stretched his legs out and relaxed backward, holding himself up on the one hand. The other picked through his veggies. Spencer moved closer before he laid down, resting his head on Aaron’s thigh. It was good. When Aaron was done eating, he wiped his hand on his pants leg and used it to card his fingers through Spencer’s hair. Spencer’s eyes fluttered closed at the first touch.

“You look like a cat, sunning himself.”

Spencer didn’t open his eyes, but he stretched, and Aaron could feel a slight vibration as Spencer started to mimic a purr. Aaron laughed, leaning down to buss a quick kiss on Spencer’s temple. Spencer rolled onto his back and looked up at Aaron.

“How do you like being Unit Chief?”

“It’s different. I don’t think that anyone above me really likes it. I fight everything that they try and make me do that I don’t consider to be better for my team.”

“Dave got drunk once and joked about making you Unit Chief for a day, not long after he was on the team. I think that he followed that conclusion to the end and was a little freaked out. He said that it was a headache for everyone that probably shouldn’t come to pass.”

“That’s pretty much what he said when Morgan only gave my name as the one for his replacement after the birth of Hank.”

“Dave didn’t tell me much about the team after I left. He did say that Morgan left because of his son.”

“Hank Spencer Morgan. He’s an adorable little guy.”

“He named him after you?”

“Yes. Morgan didn’t let me back away from him like I did the others. JJ didn’t either.”

“Why did you go to Japan?”

“Morgan called it soul searching. JJ said I was trying to hide. I went to find myself. The new me. I needed to figure out who I was after it all. Japan had a history that I’d never seen and hadn’t read a lot about. I experienced the learning instead of reading about it. I loved it over there, and I’ve gone back for a week each year.”

“Dave said something to you before you left and I tried not to listen but you were emotional, and I couldn’t’ help it.”

“Rossi said a few things to me, which one are you talking about?”

“He stated that he would keep up with the doctor for you and make sure that everything was good.”

“Mom.” Spencer closed his eyes and sighed. “She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s last year. I visited her, and she didn’t know me. She always knows me on some level, even if she just thinks I am a student. This time it was different. It was all gone. It’s making her paranoia worse, and her delusions are setting in harder.”

“And you are here.”

“I trust that between everyone on the team, they will keep an eye on Mom.”

“What about-” Aaron stopped himself. He didn’t think that bringing up William Reid wasn’t a good idea. It hadn’t been right over six years before.

“William Reid hasn’t spoken to Mom or me since the case in Vegas. I didn’t tell him about her at all. He’s never contacted me, and Mom’s never asked for him.”

“How many degrees are you up to?” Aaron started to scratch at the skin on Spencer’s head.

“Five PhDs. Seven BSs. I even got a three Masters. One in library science.”

“And too many languages to count.”

“Well, I could count them if you want. In their own languages.” Spencer smiled up at Aaron, but before he could start to talk, Aaron slipped his hand under Spencer’s head and lifted. Aaron laid down, tucking himself along Spencer’s body and kissed him. Spencer didn’t hesitate to kiss him back. It was fun, laying on the blanket and making out with Spencer. Aaron didn’t feel the urge to take it to more than that. The sounds of the horses moving around as well as the birds and the breeze going through the trees around them was nice background music while they laid there.

Kissing for the sake of kissing was something that Aaron had forgotten how much he loved. It was nice, and it wasn’t until the sun started to dip below the tallest trees that Aaron knew that they needed to leave. Jack wasn’t home, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t things that they needed to do. It was getting closer and closer to the start of school, and for Aaron, it had been too long since he had stood in front of a class and taught at the academy.

“We need to go, don’t we?” Spencer asked when Aaron pulled back and didn’t dive back in.

“Yes. As much as I hate to. We can come back anytime.”

Spencer leaned back in and kissed Aaron one last time before he rolled away to stand up. Aaron grabbed the trash from where Spencer had slipped it all into one of the sandwich bags and the two empty bottles of water. When Aaron stepped off of the blanket, Spencer lifted it up and started to fold it up. Aaron whistled and Handsome, and Chaucer wandered back over to them. Aaron helped Spencer up onto Chaucer. The view of Spencer’s ass passing in front of him had Aaron wanting to either reach out and bite it or give it a smack. He wasn’t sure.

Aaron pulled himself up onto Handsome and waited for Spencer to turn Chaucer around to point him the right way. Aaron let Spencer lead until Chaucer was set into his slow pace. Aaron convinced Handsome to speed up enough to catch up, and the two horses fell into a natural rhythm side by side.

“The Road goes ever on and on,” Spencer started to sing low enough to where Aaron could just hear it. Aaron tried to figure out where he knew it from as Spencer kept on singing. “Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, let others follow it who can! Let them a journey new begin, but I at last with weary feet will turn towards the lighted inn, my evening-rest and sleep to meet.”

Aaron listened to Spencer move to a lot of other songs as they wandered their way home.

XxXxXxX

“DAD!” Jack yelled as soon as he was out of Spencer’s SUV. Spencer had barely been able to park before the boy was out of it like a rocket. They weren’t going to be going to Belpre for the time being. It had been pure luck that Spencer and Jack had gone through the drive-thru instead of inside of the Wendy’s. They had talked about going inside right up until they got there. Spencer hadn’t even paid attention to the vehicles, but after JJ and Prentiss leaving one of the small SUV’s in the parking lot, Spencer had nearly crashed.

“Jack?” Aaron called out as he walked around the side of the house. His hands were covered in some kind of grease. He had a towel in his hand.

“I saw Uncle Dave!” Jack cried out a little lower than his previous outburst. Spencer opened his door and slipped out of the SUV. Aaron looked up at him.

“Why didn’t the Marshals tell us that not only was the BAU coming but it was your team?”

“I don’t know,” Spencer said.

“I’ll be inside in a few minutes. Why don’t you turn on the TV to catch the news and we can see if we can get some information from it.”

“Okay.” Spencer leaned back into the SUV and grabbed the three bags of food. Spencer hadn’t ordered drinks as there was plenty to drink at the house. The house was silent as Jack had gone around back with his father. Spencer laid the food on the coffee table in the living room and turned on the TV before going into the kitchen to grab bottles of water. As the screen door slammed shut on the back of the house, Spencer started to actually set out the food.

Jack had got a bowl of chili and a side salad while Aaron had wanted one of their taco salads. Spencer had actually gotten a burger and fries for once. It had been a while since they had eaten fast food. Spencer hadn’t missed it from eating it on cases, but there was sometimes that one just wanted a greasy burger and fries.

Spencer looked at the couch and thought for a few seconds about moving his things to the end away from where Aaron had taken to sitting down. It had been two weeks since that day in the clearing. There had been nothing remotely sexual between them in the days since. There was touching and kisses and a make out session on the side porch one night after Spencer had got back from a run.

Aaron had been waiting for Spencer in one of the lounger chairs. Instead of just letting him pass, Aaron had reached out and pulled him down into his lap, kissing him. Spencer had fought for a few seconds, thinking that Aaron didn’t really want a sweaty genius getting his sweat all over him. But when Aaron’s hand had closed over his hip and turned him so that the older man could hold him in place, Spencer had given in. Just like that day in the woods, Spencer had lost all track of time as he lost himself in Aaron’s mouth.

Kissing Aaron was becoming addictive, and Spencer didn’t know what to think of it. He really didn’t. He didn’t know what to think of anything that they did. Jack knew that something was up, but he hadn’t asked, Spencer could see the questions in his eyes as he watched his father and Spencer touch and act like they did in public in the privacy of their home.

“Anything yet?” Aaron asked as he passed by Spencer to take a seat on the couch but he didn’t sit down on the end but kind of in the middle of two places. Spencer frowned as he realized that it wasn’t going to leave room for Spencer and Jack on the couch. Jack didn’t even ask as he sat down on the far end. He grabbed his salad and popped the lid on it before starting to prepare it. Spencer grabbed his box of fries and began to move towards the chair that had a good view of the TV when Aaron pulled him down into his lap. Spencer let out a squawk and gripped his fries tighter as he was arranged to Aaron’s liking. He wasn’t sitting in Aaron’s lap, but his ass was jammed in between Aaron’s legs and the couch. His legs were draped over Aaron’s lap, and the man grinned at him before stealing a fry from Spencer’s box.

“No. The news hasn’t started yet,” Spencer answered. He reached over and grabbed a bottle of water and handed it to Aaron before he grabbed his. Spencer tucked it on his side on the couch cushion and tried to focus on the TV. Aaron waited until Spencer was settled in his lap before he reached over him and grabbed his box with the salad and cheese in it, setting it down on the couch, he leaned over and grabbed the bag of chips and then the cup of chili. Spencer took the bag of chips and started to crush them while a commercial played before the onset of the news. Aaron took the lid off of the salad and cheese mixture as Spencer popped open the bag of chips. Spencer dumped the chips on the salad mix, and Aaron worked on opening the chili before he did the same thing. Spencer grabbed a few fries from the box and munched on them as he looked at the TV.

“The area is in a fervor as the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit arrived in Belpre late last night after the fourth pre-teen suicide rocked the small town. More to follow,” the announcer said before the TV cut to a commercial again.

“Fourth?” Aaron asked.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything about it.” Spencer was tempted to set aside his fries and grab his phone from where he had set it on the coffee table. As if reading his mind, Aaron picked up the box of fries and handed them to Spencer before setting his taco salad into Spencer’s lap. He started to eat it from there, taking care to not drop anything on Spencer. Spencer looked at Aaron, but the man’s eyes were on the screen. Jack was watching the TV as well, his salad gone and he was already started on his chili.

“The small town of Belpre was shocked as a pre-teen was found dead in her bedroom from an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. The death was the fourth in a line of pre-teens who have killed themselves over the past few years. The FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit arrived late last night to start an Equivocal Death Investigation into the sharp upturn of suicides in Belpre. Not much is known at this point in time. We will, of course, keep all residents in the know as things unfold.”

The TV screen flashed to a picture of the team as they were standing outside of the Belpre police department. JJ was talking to the Mayor while the rest of the team was talking to cops.

“Jack, have you heard from Maggie?” Spencer asked.

“No. I can call Stefan. He and she are pretty good friends.” Jack started to eat his chili a lot quicker, and Spencer didn’t stop him. He had a bad feeling that it was Maggie who had killed herself. Spencer just swallowed, forcing himself to do it because he knew that he needed to eat. He had not eaten a lot of food for lunch and breakfast had just been coffee as there had been a lot of paperwork required to be filed for homeschooling for Jack. The seat for the Board of Education for the county was thankfully not in Belpre but in Marietta but where it was located in Marietta was hell and far away from a hardware store, so Spencer had decided to go the minor route and stop in Belpre at the hardware store there. He had planned on going to Belpre to the few second hands shops in town to look for things for the porch and the small garden that Aaron had been working on.

“Don’t ask too many questions. Just say that you saw the news. Let him guide the conversation,” Aaron said.

Jack sighed, rolled his eyes, and groaned. “I know, Dad.”

Spencer buried a smile into his bottle of water. Aaron though must have seen it as he pinched Spencer’s side with his free hand. Spencer reached out for his burger ignoring what Aaron had done to him. He didn’t feel like the burger, but again he forced himself to eat it.

“We aren’t going to be going to Belpre until they leave are we?”

“No,” Spencer and Aaron said at the same time.

“Shucks. I was supposed to go to Stefan’s this weekend, can he come here instead?”

“We will play it by ear. Maybe Stefan’s dad can meet us in the park and ride and take you.”

“That sounds good,” Jack said.

Spencer opened up the wrapper on his burger, picking out a piece of bacon and waving it in front of Aaron’s face. Aaron opened his mouth. Spencer tried to set the bite in his mouth and jerk his fingers free, but Aaron closed his lips around Spencer’s fingers, licking at the tips. When Spencer pulled his fingers free, Aaron smirked at him. Spencer flicked his fingers on the tip of Aaron’s nose.

“Eat,” Aaron chided, and Spencer took a bite of his burger.

When dinner was finished, Jack wandered away to make the call to Stefan before his parents didn’t allow him to talk on the phone.

“I think that it might be time to get one of those pay as you go phones for him. Just to be safe. He spends a lot of time at friends houses, and all of them are soccer friends, and the team is probably going to want to talk to the team members that Maggie has been friends with for a long time. We came in too late for us to be the UnSubs, so that’s a good thing.”

“We can go into Marietta and pick out one tomorrow. I’ll take him there while you go to that meeting at Washington State.”

“Sounds good. I don’t even want to think about Lewis stalking the team here and finding us.”

“I couldn’t ignore it. I had hoped that the Marshals would make sure a different team came, but maybe they didn’t want to tip their hands. The BAU gets tips from a lot of other agencies all the time now.”

“Is that because of you?”

“You know that I do work with other agencies and I have kept those contacts in the know. The CIA had proof of a child pornography ring that was operating within the US borders, and when I found out that they were more worried about catching their guy for drug trafficking, I made sure that the team that was on the mission was busted down. The director of the CIA wasn’t a happy man at all when I ensured that his team’s work was destroyed and their mark was taken into FBI custody.”

“I bet the other agencies dislike you being where you are.”

“I’m tough but not unfeeling.” Spencer wrapped up the half of the burger that he couldn’t eat and set it down on the coffee table. Aaron finished off his taco salad and laid the empty container on the table as well. Aaron wiped off his face before he drew Spencer in for a kiss.

“I know that,” Aaron said as he pulled back. “I just know how much of a hardass that I was and especially with other agencies. I don’t know what kind of Unit Chief Morgan was, but I bet that they thought that they could walk all over you and they got someone that was very much of a steel spine.”

“There was a lot of people who thought that I would be a pushover.” Spencer slipped down a little further, resting his back on the arm of the couch more and settling in to cuddle into Aaron’s side. The man was always so warm, and even with it being summer, Spencer disliked the coolness of being so far from asphalt and the buildings helped make a city feel warmer. The house was cool as well as Aaron liked it that way, Spencer usually had a blanket over him. Again it seemed that Aaron was reading his mind as he picked up the blanket and threw it over Spencer’s body, trapping his own body heat inside.

Jack’s feet heralded his return a short while later. He moved stuff out of his way and sat on the coffee table.

“Maggie was pregnant with the baby of one of the men that hurt her. Stefan said that his parents were at a town meeting about it. He’s upset as he really liked Maggie and she kept pushing him away.”

“Too young,” Aaron whispered.

“She sent Stefan a letter in the mail. He said that he was going to take a picture and send it to me in an email. He didn’t understand a lot of it.” Jack looked lost, but he didn’t seem too upset. “I’m glad your team is here, Dad.”

“Same here Jack but just remember to be careful.”

“I told Stefan if the FBI comes around to give them the letter.”

“That’s good.”

Spencer closed his eyes again and just started to drift. He itched to be there with the team, to help them find the sick people who were praying on children in town. It wasn’t a good thing at all and Spencer hated that he couldn’t help.

The rest of the days of the week passed with little issue. Aaron spent a lot of time in Marietta at the college getting everything set up for classes, and Spencer worked on pushing his mind off of what was happening in Belpre by doing anything and everything that he could around the house. It was entirely spotless.

It was Saturday, and Spencer was home alone. Aaron was on a ride on Oreo and Jack was at Stefan’s house. In the end, the boy hadn’t emailed a copy of the letter to Jack, just in case the FBI was going to be looking into the Internet traffic in the area, and Jack didn’t want the FBI going to them.

The sound of the back door opening and closing told Spencer that Aaron was home. Spencer’s skin was crawling, and it wasn’t from a need for Dilaudid. He hadn’t really felt a craving for that in a long time. He needed something, but he wasn’t sure what it was. Aaron appeared in the small hallway that led to the stairs for the upstairs. He was in a pair of jeans that looked sinful on his legs and an A-shirt. Spencer watched him move up the stairs, not even looking at Spencer at all.

Spencer growled a little and pushed himself up and off of the couch. He followed behind Aaron, slow so that the man wouldn’t hear him. Aaron went right to the master bedroom and didn’t even close the door behind him. Spencer stepped into the room as Aaron was stripping off his socks, tossing them towards the hamper in the corner. Aaron reached down to the hem of his A-shirt and started to pull, but Spencer laid his hand on the little bit of stomach that was revealed. Aaron jumped and spun around, his eyes were wide in shock.

Not letting Aaron say a word, Spencer kissed him. Aaron’s hands settled on Spencer’s hips, pulling him close. The smell of leather and horse were fragrant in Spencer’s nose, but it didn’t dissuade him from what he wanted. Aaron’s mouth opened willingly at the first touch of tongue onto it. Spencer groaned at what Aaron tasted like. He had to have stopped and grabbed one of the snickerdoodles that Spencer had made after he had cleaned the living room. The burst of cinnamon on his tongue had Spencer wanting more of it.

Aaron’s hands slipped down gripping Spencer just below his ass cheeks. Spencer didn’t even have a chance to figure out what the man wanted before he was being lifted up. Spencer wrapped his arms around Aaron’s neck, not wanting to fall. Spencer didn’t break the kiss, not wanting to let go of the taste of Aaron and cookies.

Spencer’s back connected with the wall and it jostled his mouth free of Aaron’s. Aaron didn’t hesitate to latch his lips onto Spencer’s throat.

“Aaron,” Spencer said, trying to grab Aaron’s hair and pull his head back up to kiss him. Aaron resisted and instead kissed lower. Spencer tightened his legs around Aaron’s waist, drawing the man’s groin that much closer to his own. Aaron moaned into Spencer’s neck before he started to suck a hickey on Spencer’s neck. Spencer pressed Aaron’s mouth into his neck harder.

The ringing of Aaron’s phone had Spencer groaning. It was the ringer that Aaron had set for Jack’s cell phone. Spencer unwrapped his legs from around Aaron’s waist, and Aaron helped him stand on two feet before he reached over for his phone.

“Jack?” Aaron asked, his face fell into a frown. He pulled the phone from his ear and pressed the speakerphone button. There were hushed voices and then louder ones.

“And what is your name?” a voice asked.

“Johnnie Abbey,” Jack answered.

“Johnnie, how do you know Stefan?” a different voice asked and Spencer knew that voice. Spencer grabbed Aaron’s arm.

“Aaron, that’s Charlie Epps. The BAU is there at Stefan’s house.”

“We played soccer together this summer.”

“Where do you live?”

“Vincent. I just move to the area earlier this summer from California.”

“How long had you lived in California?” Prentiss asked.

Spencer’s hand tightened on Aaron’s arm, and Aaron directed them both to the bed.

“My whole life.”

“Who do you live with?”

“Daddy and Athair.”

“Athair, the Irish word for father. What are their names?” the other male asked, which meant it had to be Don. Spencer didn’t know his voice well enough to recognize it without help over a phone.

“George and Arthur Abbey.”

“They weren’t here when the first suicides happened,” Charlie pointed out to the room.

“How well did you know Maggie?”

“Maggie was one of my best friends up until last year. She started to pull away, and I never knew why,” Stefan said. There was the sound of footsteps and then the scrape of wood on wood. “She mailed me this the day that she killed herself.”

“Why didn’t you give this to the police when they talked to you last week?” Prentiss asked.

“Just read,” Jack said.

“You are very calm,” Charlie said.

“My dad used to be a lawyer in California, and he teaches law at the college in Marietta. You aren’t any scarier than him. He used to cross-examine me when I got into trouble. Like when I spilled chocolate milk into his briefcase when I was four. He’s scary, you aren’t.”

“Does he scare you a lot?” Charlie asked.

“Just when I do stupid stuff. I don’t do as much stupid stuff anymore either. He never hurt me.”

“I’m more scared of his other father,” Stefan said.

“This is…Don,” Prentiss said. There was silence on the other end of the phone and Aaron looked at Spencer, his eyes were scared. “We need to change the profile.”

“Profile?” Stefan asked.

“The thing that is going to help them find the people who hurt Maggie.”

“How do you know what it is?” Don asked.

“Dad told me what the BAU is when I asked when I saw it on the news.”

“You are a brilliant child, Johnnie. Your fathers must be proud.”

“Dad says that I take after Athair.”

“What does your Athair do for a living?”

“He used to do stuff with technology in California. Now he stays at home with me. He’s going to be my teacher. I wanted to be homeschooled this year. Dad says that Athair is the smartest man that he knows.”

“It’s good you take after him huh?” Prentiss asked.

“Athair is smart. That’s why he doesn’t have to work anymore. He sold an idea of his to someone, and they paid him enough for us to move here, and he doesn’t have to do anything anymore. Dad doesn’t have to work as much either. Did you want to want to interrogate me anymore?” Jack asked.

Spencer laughed but kept it quiet.

“You remind me of someone,” Prentiss said.

“Who?” Jack asked.

“A man that I used to know, who used to be my boss. He used to glare at people like that. Stefan if you think of anything let your mom and dad know. They will get ahold of us.” There was the shuffling of feet and Spencer could only hear two sets of footsteps.

“Johnnie, do you know your Athair’s IQ?” Charlie asked. There was silence. Charlie laughed. “You might have the intelligence to match your Athair’s, Johnnie but you are the spitting image of your father, I bet.”

“He knows,” Spencer whispered. Aaron gasped. “That’s the only thing that he could mean by that. He won’t let the team head towards us though. He’ll keep them away.”

“What’s going to happen if they run our driver’s licenses?”

“The Marshal’s said something about the fact that if the FBI run them or anyone not in the area’s databases that it’ll pop different pictures when I was listening to them when I was working on getting things set up for us to leave. I don’t know if Garcia will be able to check it but if they do just a general search, we will pop in California for the first three suicides, so there is no way that we are a part of it.”

“Dad?” Jack asked over the phone.

“We are here, Jack.”

“I didn’t like that, but as soon as I heard that the FBI agents were coming up to talk to Stefan, I called you. I didn’t know who was coming up and I needed to make sure that if it was someone who would know me that I would be safe.”

“You did the right thing, Jack. Did you want us to come and get you?”

“No. I’m in the bathroom right now. Stefan is a little upset, and I think that me staying here will be better for him. Don’s a little scary, and Prentiss was weird. Charlie was nice though.”

“Charlie knows who you are, so be careful.”

“I wondered with that comment at the end. I take it with pride that I reminded Prentiss of you Dad. I need to go. I’ll call you tomorrow when I want to come home.” Jack hung up before Aaron or Spencer could say anything else.

“I’m going to get him,” Aaron said as he stood up from the bed. He reached over to the nightstand to grab his wallet that was laying there.

“No, you aren’t.”

“Yes, I am. I am not letting Charlie come in and take him away. I don’t know Charlie from any other genius who you think can do your job.”

“Is that what you think?” Spencer demanded as he stood up and moved to the bedroom door. He shut it and threw the lock. It wouldn’t stop Aaron for long but hopefully long enough for Spencer to convince him that what he was going to do was stupid. “That I would just plop down any genius on MY team?”

“You have spent over a decade on that team. Intellect doesn’t mean that one can be a profiler.”

“You don’t even have a clue who that is, do you?”

“Get out of my way, Reid. I’m going to get my son.”

“You’ll have to go through me.”

“I have before. Move.”

“No.” Spencer glared at Aaron. “If you go and get him, you are putting him in danger. Do you really want that? You are thinking like an overly concerned father instead of a federal agent. This isn’t a big area. I’m sure that the block has other agents all over it. What are you going to do if Dave or Prentiss see you? We’d have to leave.”

“Because that is what you are worried about isn’t it? Moving. Not about the fact that my son could come under the eyes of either one of the killers who are after us. No all you are worried about is having to move. Jack is not your worry, he is mine. It’s not as if you care for him anyway,” Aaron spat at him as he took two steps that put him right into Spencer’s space. Spencer didn’t even know that he was going to slap Aaron until he felt his hand connect with the side of Aaron’s face.

“I can’t believe that I ever thought that you had changed.” Spencer reached behind himself for the lock on the door, and as soon as he had it flipped, he slipped from between Aaron and the door. Spencer fought back the tears as he opened the door. Spencer wasn’t going to let Aaron ever see him cry. Every single time that he let Aaron in the man wrecked his life.

Aaron reached out, and Spencer thought that he was reaching for the door but his hand connected with Spencer’s shoulder instead. Spencer flinched away from the hand and looked at the man who had hurt him for the last time. He wondered what the Marshals would do if his fake persona divorced Aaron’s fake one.

“Spencer,” Aaron said, reaching out again but Spencer just dodged the hand and slipped between the door and the wall to get to freedom in the hallway. Spencer was two steps down the hall when he heard the bedroom door slam shut. He was halfway through the next step when he felt a hand wrap around his elbow, and he was jerked back into Aaron’s body. Spencer clenched his fist a little and turned into the body, ready to cold cock Aaron when his other arm was grabbed. Spencer was pushed into the wall closest to the master bedroom door, he stared up into Aaron’s dark eyes.

“Go ahead, you’ve already proven once that you could hurt me. All this would be is a confirmation that you haven’t changed.”

“I’m sorry,” Aaron said, and it was so utterly heartfelt that Spencer’s heart skipped a beat. Aaron let go of Spencer’s arms and reached up to hold his face, gently. “I never should have said that. I didn’t mean it.”

“You have a habit of doing things that you seem to regret in the end,” Spencer said carefully.

“I…Arnold is after him, and there is a very real chance that Lewis is tracking the team.”

“Not on a case. That would make no sense. I can see Lewis following the team when they are home with the hope that they lead Lewis to us but not on a case but if Lewis does check in, what do you think you storming in and taking Jack from a friend’s house is going to do? That’s going to draw attention to Jack and to you and then to us. What if Prentiss or even Don sees you and what they see of George Abbey isn’t what matches the photo on your license?”

“I don’t like the thought of them finding us.”

“Neither do I.”

“He’s all alone right now.” Aaron’s hands dropped from Spencer’s face, and he moved back into the bedroom. Spencer frowned at the man who was walking away from him. That was the Aaron Hotchner that he knew from their time together here and it wasn’t the man that Spencer had known years before. This was a broken man, who needed help. There was anger in the lines on his body, and Spencer knew that part of his problem from before was still there. He was internalizing everything.

“You are not walking away from me right now, Aaron Hotchner!” Spencer yelled, and he stomped after him. Aaron turned around and looked at Spencer in shock. Spencer shoved at Aaron’s chest when he got close enough. Aaron caught both of Spencer’s wrists and just held him there, looking like he didn’t know what he needed to do. Spencer fought the hold, and all it did was make Aaron grab his wrists tighter. Spencer used that to his advantage. He jerked and pushed and maneuvered Aaron right to where one last shove would cause the man connect with the same wall that Spencer had been pressed into what felt like hours before. Spencer pushed him that little bit and Aaron’s eyes widened as he felt the wall touch his back. Spencer kissed him hard, sure that he felt his lip split as he did. Aaron turned the grip on his wrists to where they were holding hands, and Spencer pressed those hands into the wall on either side of Aaron’s head, pushing his entire body into Aaron’s large frame. The time for talking with words would come later. Right now, Spencer had too much nervous and angry energy to not do something with it. “Strip.”

Spencer stepped back and started to work on his shirt as he kept his eyes on Aaron. Aaron pulled his A-shirt off first and then started on his jeans. Spencer abandoned his own clothes to drop to his knees in front of Aaron. As soon as Aaron had his fly open all the way, Spencer was reaching in for his cock. It was half hard, but at the first pass of Spencer’s tongue across the head, the cock finished hardening.

“Don’t,” Aaron choked out but the way that his cock jumped when Spencer breathed over it, Spencer wasn’t sure what the don’t meant. “Don’t do this if you are trying to make me feel two inches tall,” Aaron begged.

“I’m not. I don’t suck cock for just anyone,” Spencer said before he took as much of Aaron as he could into his mouth. Aaron was sweaty from the ride, and the tang of it on his skin had Spencer’s mouth watering. He used his right hand to fondle Aaron’s balls, reaching back with fingers and pressing on his perineum. Aaron tried to spread his legs but that trapped Spencer’s hand against his skin with his jeans tightening up. Spencer grabbed one side of the fly and started to tug it down. Aaron helped as much as he could as Spencer bobbed up and down on his cock. When the jeans were at knee level, Spencer pulled off of Aaron’s cock all the way to finish stripping the jeans off. Aaron hadn’t been wearing any underwear. Spencer leaned his head to the side and inhaled the smell of Aaron that was unscented except for what his body honestly smelled like. Pure masculine and Spencer wanted more. He wanted to feel it all, but for now, he was going to fuck Aaron Hotchner until the man lost all ability to think. Spencer wrapped his hand around the length of the cock in front of his face as he licked at a ball before mouthing at it. Aaron groaned and was able to spread his legs just that little bit more. Spencer lifted his free hand and spit on the tip of his middle finger before trailing it back, just that little bit farther. He trailed the spit slick digit over Aaron’s hole, feeling the man jerk as he did. Aaron let out a strangled cry at the feeling, and Spencer pulled his head back to look up at him. Aaron’s head was thrown back into the wall, and his hands were trying to find purchase on the flat, painted surface. He looked utterly wrecked, and Spencer hadn’t even slipped a finger inside of him yet.

Spencer reached over and grabbed at the bedside drawer. It was Aaron’s left side drawer so the chance of it being where the lube was, was a big possibility. Spencer watched Aaron’s face as he traced around his hole with the tip of his spit slick finger. He dipped the tip of it inside. Spencer had chosen his middle finger because it was clipped the shortest and would have a lesser chance of hurting Aaron. He wanted sex, but he didn’t truly want to hurt the man. When Spencer found what he was looking for in the drawer, he pulled his hand out and dipped the tip of a finger inside of that ring of muscle and back out again.

“Don’t tease me.”

“What do you want?” Spencer asked, teasing with the tip again.

“I want more.”

“More of what?” Spencer asked. He slipped his finger just a little farther inside, and Aaron moaned.

“Anything.”

“On the bed, while I strip. I have more clothes on than you.” Spencer tossed the bottle of lube onto the bed as he stood up, pulling his other hand way from Aaron. The older man groaned at the loss, but he moved over to the bed. He sat down and looked at Spencer, watching him as Spencer stripped his clothes off slowly. Aaron’s eyes were locked on Spencer’s cock as he opened his pants up after getting his shirt off. Aaron’s eyes never left his cock until he was stepping in front of him. Aaron reached out and touched, like he was enthralled. Spencer groaned as Aaron’s fingers wrapped around his cock. Spencer grounded himself by grabbing Aaron’s shoulder and holding on tight as Aaron explored.

“Can I?”

“You can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t make me come,” Spencer said. Aaron licked at the tip of his cock, catching the drop of fluid there. Spencer opened the drawer a little more and found that there were no condoms in there. “Condoms?”

“I didn’t buy any. I’m clean. Don’t need one, do we?”

“You really don’t want to do that do you?” Spencer felt his breath leave him. He looked at Aaron and saw that Aaron did mean it. Spencer had never had penetrative sex without one, even oral. What he had done to Aaron wasn’t something that could really get him sick. He believed Aaron’s words that he was clean. Aaron would never lie about that.

“Yes.” Aaron let go of Spencer’s cock and pulled him down into a kiss. Spencer kneeled up onto the bed to straddle Aaron’s lap. Aaron leaned back and took Spencer with him. Aaron thrust up into Spencer, grabbing his hips and groaning. Spencer felt so close to coming that he pulled out of the kiss before he wanted to.

“Hands and knees, grab the headboard,” Spencer said. Aaron did as Spencer asked. Spencer grabbed the lube and popped the lid to open to spread it on his fingers. Spencer pressed a finger inside of Aaron, the man didn’t even tense at all. Spencer was shocked at that. Two fingers inside of him and Aaron was shivering. Spencer wiped the remaining lube on his cock and scooted up to start to press his cock into the older man’s hole. Again Aaron didn’t even tense up. He stayed loose as Spencer pushed balls deep inside of him. Aaron’s head dropped as skin connected on skin and Aaron moaned.

“Hard,” Aaron panted when Spencer started to pull out. Spencer snapped his hips and thrust inside of him as hard as he could. Aaron took it, begging as Spencer fucked him hard and fast. Everything that Spencer felt over the years, from the moment he realized that Aaron meant to harm him years before to the moment he slid inside of him the first time, all the pent up everything burst out of Spencer. He pushed Aaron up the bed a little and grabbed the headboard right beside where Aaron’s hands were grabbing it, his left hand was on Aaron’s hip, holding him in place. Spencer fucked him hard and fast.

Spencer felt Aaron spasm as he came, the muscles around Spencer’s cock gripped him tight. Spencer fucked Aaron through his orgasm and kept on sliding in and out of the tight heat until he couldn’t hold off on his orgasm anymore.

“Fuck!” Spencer screamed as he came. His legs seized up, and his arm gave out. He slumped down onto Aaron as his body just stopped doing what he wanted. Aaron let go of the headboard and helped to settle Spencer down on the bed, Spencer going with him. Spencer’s cock slipped from his body before he wanted it to but he couldn’t say a word about it. Aaron rolled them to where he could look Spencer in the face. Aaron kissed him gently, wiping at something on Spencer’s cheeks. When he kept doing it, Spencer realized that he was crying.

“Let it out, Spencer. Don’t hold it in anymore,” Aaron whispered into his hair as he kissed Spencer’s temple. “I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

“You made me fall in love with you, you bastard.”

XxXxXxX

Aaron watched as the classroom door opened up. He opened his mouth to call out that anyone else would have to come to his office hours the next day except it wasn’t a student, it was Spencer. Spencer smiled at Aaron and gave one of his little waves that showed he was a little uncomfortable. Aaron looked back at the small gaggle of students that were surrounding him. He had another fifteen minutes before he could leave, promising the students to talk about their papers.

Spencer’s eyes never left Aaron, and he could feel it. As Aaron answered questions for some of the students, they wandered out, but there were two girls and a boy who didn’t. They asked questions about the lecture topic, and Aaron couldn’t not answer their questions. He turned his thoughts away from Spencer and his eyes watching him and focused on the students.

When the first girl, Samantha giggled after whatever Aaron said, Aaron realized that the three of them were more than just interested in discussing criminal law and just wanting to talk to him. Aaron shifted his hand to make sure that his ring was visible.

“Professor Hotchner?” Gabrielle asked as she turned around to look at Spencer.

“Yes?” Aaron asked as he turned to look at the young woman entirely.

“Why haven’t you told that man back there to leave?”

“Yeah,” Samantha said.

Aaron laughed and looked up at Spencer to see that Spencer wasn’t smiling anymore. He was looking at the three students and glaring at them.

“Why would I? He obviously has a question for me, and I have five minutes left of open discussion after class.

“He’s staring, so he obviously isn’t interested in asking a question,” Samantha said.

“Yo!” Gregory said as he turned around entirely to look at Spencer. “What question do you have for Professor Abbey?”

Spencer smirked, and even from where Aaron was he could see that glint in Spencer’s eyes.

“Professor Abbey, what do you want to do for dinner?” Spencer asked.

The three students looked shocked, and Gregory turned to look back at Aaron.

“He can’t ask that,” Gregory said. He looked smug.

“I think that my husband is allowed to ask whatever he wants.” Aaron smiled as the students took way too long to figure that out.

“Husband?” Samantha asked. Her eyes tracked down to the ring on his finger and then back up to Spencer at the back of the class. Gabrielle huffed and linked her arm with Samantha before she started to pull her away from Aaron.

“We will let you head off with your husband,” Gregory said as he followed the two girls out. Aaron laughed to himself and packed up the notes he had used to lecture from. There had been side notes in the margins from Spencer and Aaron had used some of them, but most were too advanced for the class he had prepared the notes for, but the advanced class was a different story. Aaron wanted to talk to Spencer about the class notes and such as Spencer had brought up a few points that were good but also a few points that were different from his own. Aaron felt bad that he’d never even thought about debating with Spencer, they had done it a lot over the years that they worked together. He wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t want to bring up the memories of what they were before or because he was scared of getting used to it all only to have it all taken away when Lewis and Arnold were found.

The ache of that thought bloomed in Aaron’s chest. There wasn’t going to be a happily ever after for them when this was all done. Aaron knew that there was a very real chance that what they were was going to crash and burn when it was in the cold light of day for life in DC again. Spencer was the Unit Chief of the BAU, he was important, as Aaron had been a long time ago. He had his life, and Aaron knew that he loved his life, loved what he did. Aaron didn’t’ know where Aaron and Jack fit into that picture of life for Spencer, but there was no use in talking about it before it happened. What would be would be but until that happened, Aaron was going to make sure that he was with Spencer as much as possible.

Spencer’s confession from weeks before still resounded in Aaron’s head, but he knew that no matter what love Spencer spouted, he would do what he felt he had to do. Aaron hadn’t been able to say anything back to him; instead, he had just feigned that he had been asleep and nothing else had been said about it. Aaron knew that Spencer meant it, at that moment but Aaron also knew psychology.

“George?” Spencer called out, and Aaron looked up at him. Aaron realized that the students were long gone and that nearly five minutes had passed and Aaron was just standing there.

“Thinking about my lecture tomorrow is all. Let’s go home.”

“I got your tire fixed. Three nails in it,” Spencer said as Aaron started to move towards the front of the class. Aaron wrapped an arm around Spencer’s shoulder as he evened out with the younger man. Spencer wrapped his arm around Aaron’s waist and smiled at him. There was something different in Spencer’s eyes though, and it was an emotion that Aaron couldn’t figure out. Aaron tried to process it through, but there was nothing there. The Spencer from before, before Foyet, before Haley’s death, before going into Witness Protection had been someone that Aaron thought that he could read, that he had seen all of his emotions before but this Spencer was entirely different, and Aaron knew that he had never actually seen Spencer before. He had seen what he had been allowed to see, but he’d never tried to dig deeper.

“How did I get three nails in it?”

“State Route 339. You came in that way to go home, and there was an accident of some kind earlier in the day yesterday. Debris. It was a painter’s truck that was rolled due to a drunk driver in an SUV hitting him. I assume that the road cleanup didn’t go as well as they thought that it did.”

“How did you find that out?” Aaron asked. The halls weren’t empty of students, but Aaron didn’t pay them any attention. He was focused on Spencer.

“When I took your tire to get repaired, the people were talking about the wreck. I think they are looking for anything to say that isn’t the visit from the FBI and what it revealed about their police force.”

“It was the state police though.”

“But all had been cops in Belpre at one point or another, and all lived in Belpre. The AG for the state is stepping in, I read in today’s paper to stop the FBI and the DOJ from coming in and dealing with it.”

“What was the final count?”

“Five cops and six other well-known people in Belpre.”

Aaron had kept away from the papers, he’d been too frightened about what he would do if he followed the case. It had been all over the news for the five days that the BAU had been in the town. After finding the full extent of the conspiracy, the BAU hadn’t stayed long. Instead, the attorney general had sent a team of investigators to take care of the rest of the cleaning up of Belpre. State Troopers were going to take care of keeping Belpre safe while new officers were looked for.

“Has the name of the father of Maggie’s baby been released yet?”

“No, but according to rumors it was one of the longer standing officers in Belpre.”

Aaron shook his head. The exit to the building was up ahead, and Aaron directed Spencer towards it. There were a few glances from some of the staff Aaron’s way, but he was used to that. Every employee had looked at him a little weird when he had first come to the college over the summer to finish his hiring paperwork. Most of them had got used to him, and Spencer had gone with him a few times to work on setting up his classroom.

“Where did you park?”

“The student lot. I figured that it would be easier to get out of. By the library.”

“How long exactly have you been in the library?” Aaron asked.

“I dropped Jack off at the Marietta School for the testing they wanted him to go through, I did a little shopping and drove the groceries home. Then I came back and spent most of the morning reading. I got lunch and then read some more.”

“About what?”

“Oh, it wasn’t here. I was at the Local History and Genealogy Branch of the library. It’s by the Marietta Branch. I read everything they had on the local history.”

“Sounds like you had a fun day.”

“Then when the school called, I went and picked up Jack, stopped at the Belpre Library and picked up the books that had come in for us, dropped him at home and then came here to pick you up. The parking spot at the library was just a coincidence.”

“I’m going to be the gossip of the students tomorrow,” Aaron said as he saw the SUV getting closer. Spencer moved around to the driver’s side of the SUV while Aaron transferred to the passenger side. It was unlocked, but Aaron wasn’t that worried as he was fairly sure that Spencer had unlocked it as they were getting close.

After starting the vehicle, Spencer looked over at Aaron, and that same look was in his eyes. Aaron watched as Spencer carefully pulled out of the parking spot and made his way down the hill that the student parking lot was on. Aaron knew better than to try and get him to talk about anything serious while they were inside of city limits. Spencer was focusing more on traffic, which was insane for the time of day that it was. Aaron waited until they were on the highway that led home before he laid his hand on Spencer’s thigh. He squeezed it tightly, letting his fingers trail up the seam of Spencer’s pants.

“Your class was full of students talking after class.”

“I don’t know why. I’m the meanest teacher they have. I give the worst assignments, and I don’t take any reason for things being late. I hear them curse me in the halls.”

Spencer slowly merged them onto the main part of the highway before he looked over at Aaron, that look was there again, but there was also a look of disbelief. Aaron tried to figure that look out again, but there was nothing. He decided to change the subject.

“So what exactly were they testing on Jack and why three weeks into the start of the public school year?”

“He was supposed to take a standardized test for his age group. The same one that you took him for when we moved here. What I overheard the superintendent talking about was that they were worried that we had coached him.”

“What?”

“I think that the areas biased against non-heterosexual couples was rearing it’s ugly head, singling Jack out to prove that a homosexual couple can’t raise a good child​. Jack did better this time. He scored near an eighty-five percent on it.”

“That’s worse than he did last time.”

“I said he was supposed to take a test for his age group. He’s ten almost eleven so he’s in sixth grade. He took the test that the sixth graders are supposed to take at the end of the year to prove that they know enough to go to junior high. I let it stand until I saw the score he got on it. The superintendent made a big show of running it through the scantron in front of me and his eyes when he looked at it was worth whatever they did. He scored better than most of the kids who take it at the correct time. I asked for a copy of it so that I could use it to factor that into what I am going to be doing with him. He’s a sponge, and the small lessons I’ve been doing over the summer have just pushed him more.”

“What did the superintendent say?”

“Nothing really only that Jack was expected back at the end of the year to take the test again. I didn’t fight it. The whole of the board of education is being raked over the coals by the state over the failure to realize that seventeen students over the past five years have been regularly sexually abused by people they should have been able to trust and that the school never saw the signs or they ignored them.”

“Small towns don’t like individuals who are different and the kids would have started to pull away from people, making them outsiders.”

“Sometimes I wonder if the major cities are really that bad. Yes, there are more students, but at least there are fewer ingrained prejudices that challenge their small mindedness.”

“I’m sure that you’ll have plenty of evidence to write an excellent paper on it that you’ll publish as soon as you are allowed.”

Spencer huffed. Aaron didn’t push for more conversation, he just watched the trees pass by as they finished their trip on the highway before turning onto State Route 339. Aaron never lifted his hand from Spencer’s thigh and instead would squeeze his hand or brush his fingers along the seam of the pants when Aaron felt like it. He tried to vary it enough to where Spencer couldn’t anticipate what he was going to do.

Subtle looks Spencer’s way as he turned them on the last road to home showed Aaron that Spencer was hard in his pants. Instead of stopping, Aaron trailed his fingers up a little farther, to where the tips of them were touching where the seam from each pant leg met. Aaron smirked to himself when Spencer spread his legs just enough to where the pants pressed up into his groin more and with a shift of his fingers, Aaron could feel the heat from the trapped cock as well as a ball when he let his fingers drop just a little bit.

Spencer never looked at Aaron as he drove, but his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, and Aaron wanted to see how white he could make the whole hand with how tight Spencer was gripping the wheel. Making Spencer lose control was a new hobby of Aaron’s. Aaron had never come with his cock untouched like he had when Spencer had fucked him that first time. He hadn’t expected Spencer to fuck him at all, something closer to what they had attempted in the woods had been what he thought, but from the second that Spencer’s finger had traced his hole, Aaron had been gone. All he could think about was Spencer’s cock sliding inside of him.

The sudden stopping of the SUV and Aaron looking around. He hadn’t realized that they had got home. Spencer wasn’t parked where he regularly parked though. Before Aaron could even start to think on why Spencer was parked there, he was out of the SUV and near running around to Aaron’s side. He jerked the door open and grabbed Aaron by the tie he was wearing, pulling him from the seat and slamming the door shut. Aaron let himself be manhandled into the backseat of the SUV. Aaron was pushed to sit on the small gap was for access to the third row of seating. Spencer let go of his tie as Aaron sat down.

“Spencer?” Aaron asked as hands grabbed at his belt undoing it. When it was undone, hands spread his legs wide, and Spencer dropped between them. Aaron barely had time to process what was going to happen before he had wet heat wrapped around his cock. Aaron spread his legs just a little more to allow Spencer to get as close as he could, as well as scooted his ass forward enough to where he was barely on the carpet anymore and felt more metal than anything else. Aaron felt the tightness at the head of his cock and knew that Spencer was trying to deepthroat him. Aaron grabbed his hair and tried to pull him back.

Aaron tugged on the hair, and the moan that Spencer let out had Aaron near seeing stars, he could feel the vibrations on his cock, and it was torture. Aaron tried to pull the younger man back off of his cock, at least enough to where he wasn’t going to choke himself but Spencer fought him. Up and just a little farther down than before Spencer moved, his hands on Aaron’s thighs, holding him right where Spencer wanted him. Aaron grabbed the back of the front passenger seat as he felt himself slide a little farther down Spencer’s throat, it took everything in his power to stop himself from coming at the tight, wet heat that was around his cock.

“Oh, God, Spencer,” Aaron moaned. His hand twitched, and when Spencer moved back down again, his tongue pressing along the vein on the bottom of his cock, Aaron used his hand to pull him down a little harder, a little faster. Aaron whimpered as he was unable to hold back anymore. He pulled with all he had, but Spencer swallowed around the head of his cock and Aaron came.

There was a period of nothing as Aaron tried to regain his senses. He could feel his mouth moving, but there was nothing there to tell him what he was saying. Aaron felt his arm twitch, and he followed the process to figure out what he was holding. Aaron felt something almost like thread in his hand. Hair. He remembered that he had been holding onto Spencer’s hair before he had come. The feeling of a body on top of him told Aaron that Spencer was still right there. Aaron made his other arm move and found that his hand was wrapped around Spencer’s hip. Aaron pulled him closer, feeling hot heat pressed into his hip and knowing that Spencer had not come yet.

Pushing his tongue to the roof of his mouth, Aaron realized that he wasn’t talking but kissing. Spencer’s lips were pressed to his own, and he could taste his own release in Spencer’s mouth. Aaron let go of Spencer’s hair, trailing his hand down his back to grab his other hip, pulling his cock into his body harder. When Aaron needed to breathe, he pulled back to press kisses to Spencer’s cheek, back to his ear.

“Come,” Aaron whispered, his voice sounding raspy. Spencer buried his face into Aaron’s neck and screamed as he came, his hips stuttering in their movement as his rhythm faltered. Aaron let go of his hips as the younger man slumped down into him and he just wrapped his arms around him to hold him close. Aaron nuzzled in at Spencer’s hair, smelling a light sweat as well as the scent that he had come to associate with him. Aaron’s body was trying to fall asleep but he fought it. That was something that they still didn’t do, sleep in the same bed. Sex happened in Aaron’s bed and then Spencer went back down to his bed in the basement but he was staying for longer periods post orgasm before leaving.

“Jealous,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear and the young man tensed for a few seconds before he relaxed back. He didn’t refute it but Aaron knew that he would when his brain was working again but it was the only emotion that it could be. Aaron smiled into Spencer’s hair before pressing a kiss on his neck below his ear. “Jealousy looks good on you, Spencer. Anytime you want to save me from students with sex, I’m up for it.”

Part 5-The Vulture

Aaron watched as Spencer moved around the living room, cleaning up a little. Jack was long in bed, and Aaron knew that he needed to get some sleep as well. It was Friday but the day had been stressful for Aaron, too many students who didn’t like how their first test had gone and his office hours had been full of students complaining, and even a few parents whose perfect children deserved perfect test scores. Aaron was starting to hate freshman students and the post-secondary education options students. High schoolers who didn’t fully understand what they were doing by starting college two years too early without the proper college experience.

“What’s wrong?” Aaron asked.

“Nothing. I’m just not tired,” Spencer said as he started to straighten the papers on the desk that Jack used to do his schoolwork when he didn’t feel like doing it in his bedroom.

When Spencer passed by the couch to set a few books on the bookshelf, Aaron didn’t do anything, but on the way back to the desk, Aaron grabbed Spencer by his hips. Aaron pulled Spencer down into his lap, wrapping his left arm around his waist and holding him right where he wanted him. Spencer didn’t try to escape, but he wasn’t exactly relaxing back into Aaron, so Aaron tugged his head a little to the side using Spencer’s hair. Aaron nipped at the shell of his ear before kissing up to the side of his neck. Spencer turned his head, fighting the hold on his hair and kissed Aaron. Aaron was more than willing to let go of his hair and instead worked both of his hands underneath Spencer’s shirt, finding warm skin.

Aaron worked on the buttons of Spencer’s dress shirt, the vest had been taken off before Aaron had even arrived home. When he got to the last button, Aaron snapped it out of its hole and dropped his hand down to cover Spencer’s cock in his pants. The younger man gasped and thrust up into Aaron’s hand as much as he could. Aaron spread his legs a little more, taking Spencer’s with them and making it harder for the younger man to move. Aaron trailed his free hand up, tweaking a nipple as he moved.

“Please,” Spencer asked as he tried again to thrust up into Aaron’s hand on his cock. Aaron bit at his neck, right at his pulse point, hard enough for Spencer to feel it but not hard enough to leave a mark. Aaron could feel the cock under his hand hardening. Aaron had plans, and he was going to make sure that they happened. Spencer had been the one dictating their sexual encounters since the relationship had turned sexual. Aaron was okay with that as Spencer was selfless with sex. He made sure that Aaron got off before he even turned towards the thought of himself getting off and Aaron loved fucking him, but he wanted Spencer to get the most of their sexual encounter for once.

“Upstairs and onto the bed, don’t get naked,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear before he stopped what he was doing with his hands to grab Spencer’s hips and held him stand up. Aaron watched as the younger man moved at a very fast pace to get up the stairs. Aaron checked all the locks and the windows on the ground floor before he walked upstairs.

Aaron wasn’t sure what he was going to find when he went into his bedroom, but seeing Spencer’s clothes draped over the back of the chair, and Spencer under the covers wasn’t it. Aaron frowned as he took in the sight. Aaron tried to understand why Spencer had stripped when Aaron asked him not to. Spencer glared back at him when Aaron didn’t move farther into the room. Spencer started to fidget, and when Aaron didn’t move closer, Spencer sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, the sheet over his body, protecting it from Aaron’s view. When Spencer pulled on his pants, the sheet covering right up until he was buttoning them, Aaron got it. Spencer grabbed his shirt and slipped it on before he grabbed the underwear he hadn’t slipped on before his pants.

“This was a mistake,” Spencer said as he started towards the door. Aaron stepped aside like he was going to let the younger man go, but just as he drew level with Aaron, Aaron’s arm shot out and blocked his way out of the room. When Spencer made to duck under his arm, Aaron dropped it and wrapped both arms around Spencer’s shoulders, holding him. He realized that every single time that they had sex where Spencer was on the receiving end, he was on his hands and knees. Aaron never got to see him fully naked for extended periods before all he saw was his back.

“It wasn’t a mistake. I was just a little upset that you didn’t do as I asked. Then I watched you use the sheet as a cover to dress again. What don’t you want me to see?”

Spencer shook his head no, but he didn’t try and get out of Aaron’s hold. He just stood there. Aaron pushed him a little, and he moved with Aaron until his knees hit the bed and he dropped down onto it. Aaron grabbed the underwear from Spencer’s hands and tossed it over to the chair that it had been sitting on before. Aaron swept his hands up Spencer’s chest before tangling his hands in the shoulders of Spencer’s shirt and dragging it down. Spencer pulled his arms free as soon as the shirt was on the bed. Aaron tossed it over with no care. The second that Aaron touched the button holding Spencer’s pants closed, Spencer tensed up. He relaxed as Aaron gently unbuttoned it and started to sweep the pants down his frame, meeting the bed. Spencer lifted up, and Aaron pulled the pants down enough to where Spencer could sit down again and not have to get up again to get the pants off. His cock was only half hard, a testament to the fact that Spencer was freaked out by something. Spencer was relaxed until Aaron had the pants almost to Spencer’s knee. Aaron figured it out then. Aaron realized that every single pair of shorts that Spencer wore when running always went below the knee and Aaron had yet to look at Spencer’s knee. Aaron hadn’t seen it since that night that he had hurt Spencer with words and with deeds and ill intent. He hadn’t been thinking of doing anything but taking the pain away with his mouth on Spencer’s cock.

Aaron backed up and stood up, pulling his shirt with him. He stripped out of the rest of his clothes before he dropped to his knees in front of Spencer. He grabbed one of Spencer’s hands and laid it on his stomach. Aaron guided Spencer’s pointer finger over the raised scars on his abdomen and stomach. After the second one, Spencer’s fingers moved on their own. His finger traced down the wound that was the newest. Aaron hadn’t told him about that but he would, in time.

“I’ve never blanched at you seeing these. I accepted them as part of me a long time ago.” Aaron laid his hand over Spencer’s knee. “Why would I care about this?”

“I had to have another surgery, and the old entry point had too much scar tissue to use it as an entry point so the surgery had to be done from a different point and it had to be bigger to access the area needed.”

“And?”

“And I didn’t want you to see it.”

“Why?”

“I didn’t want to remind you of what you did.”

“I remember it every single time that I touch you, Spencer. I have to remember to be gentle and to not do anything that will make you flash back to that. It’s calmed down since we’ve become more, but it’ll always be there. I remember the look on your face when I touched you that night. The look of hesitance as I demanded that you show me your knee. I could read the fear in every single movement as you took off your brace and then pulled your pajama pants leg up. When you tried to swat my hand away after I poked your knee. I may not have remembered the night well in the light of the next day, but I haven’t let myself forget a single second of it since then. It was easier to blame you than to fault myself for the despairs of my own life. You were not the reason that Gideon lost Sarah. No one on the team saw Breitkopf coming. No one could have predicted it. Gideon passed him off as a nonentity, and so did the rest of us. Then we stupidly did it again with Foyet. Out of sight, out of mind. There was nothing that you could have done to not get shot. No matter the words that I used, you were the only member of the team covering the target of a serial killer. I’ve done some research into that strain of Anthrax. I pulled some strings a few years ago, did you know that for up to a year after infection in few survivors there was a marked slowness in healing everything else inside the body?”

“Yes, Doctor Kimura told me that, after my last surgery. It’s why I was given antibiotics for longer, just to make sure that no infection set in on my knee,” Spencer said, his voice at a very low pitch.

“I had nightmares, and all I could see is your face with pain all over it, that moment that you realized what I was going to do and then the agony as I hurt you. It sometimes blends with Foyet stabbing me, and it’s me, stabbing you. Killing you.”

“Aaron,” Spencer said as he reached up and cupped the sides of Aaron’s face, pulling him up but not kissing him; instead he just pressed their foreheads together. After several moments like that, Aaron tilted his head and took Spencer’s lips in a kiss. Spencer’s fingers curled on his face, nails raking over his skin just enough to spur Aaron into a harder kiss. Aaron laid his hands on Spencer’s thighs, just brushing the tops of the exposed skin. Aaron gripped the top of the pants and started to push them down again. Spencer didn’t fight him or even tense, Aaron figured he was too lost in the kiss. Aaron thought that Spencer would be content to have a makeout session, without sex, at least once a day. The genius loved kissing, and Aaron was happy to indulge him as much as he could.

Aaron tugged the pants off of Spencer’s lithe frame, dragging the socks off as he did. He laughed a little when he realized that Spencer had kept his socks on. Spencer’s feet got cold, and Aaron knew that Spencer would only take them off after he was warm under the blanket. He did it often enough on the couch. Aaron skimmed his hands back up Spencer’s legs, brushing the tips of his fingers over his knee, just barely there. Spencer shivered, but when Aaron felt the first scar, Spencer tensed. Aaron just kept moving his fingers up, no matter that he wanted to touch those scars until Spencer stopped feeling like they were ugly. Aaron coaxed Spencer into wrapping his legs around Aaron’s waist and wrapped one of his around Spencer’s lower back, holding him close before Aaron stood up, Spencer wrapped around him like a limpet. Aaron used his free hand to balance the both of them as he knee walked them up the bed. Spencer never broke the kiss other than to gulp in a breath before going back to it.

“Grab the headboard,” Aaron said when he finally laid Spencer down on the bed. Spencer unwrapped his arms from around Aaron’s neck, but he just looked at Aaron instead of doing what he said.

“Why?”

“Because if I allow you to use your hands, you’ll have me back up and be kissing you and I don’t want that so if you hold onto the headboard and don’t let go, you’ll be less tempted.”

Spencer pouted, but he did what Aaron wanted him to. The lattice work of the metal had gaps perfect for him to grab and hold on. Aaron reached around and unwrapped Spencer’s legs from around his waist and settled them on the bed on either side of him. Aaron leaned down and kissed Spencer once briefly on the lips before he moved to Spencer’s neck. Aaron heard the creak of the headboard as Spencer’s arms tightened and pulled just a little but he didn’t let go. Aaron pressed opened mouth kissed all down the long column of Spencer’s throat before he nipped at his collarbone.

A trail of kisses was laid from collarbone to just over Spencer’s heart where Aaron sucked a bruise into the skin. Spencer was utterly pliant under Aaron’s body, as his hands let go of the headboard to drop down farther and grab where the headboard ended, his arms relaxed on either side of the pillow that his head was on. Aaron smiled into his skin as he watched Spencer get comfortable before he decided to move up a little. Aaron followed Spencer’s ribs to his side. He placed kisses on each bone as he found it before he ran out of them and buried his nose into the hair of his armpit. Spencer flinched a little, but when nothing happened, he relaxed again. Aaron inhaled, smelling the musk of a day working as well as the smell that was just Spencer. Aaron bit at the skin just on the backside of the armpit before he moved back down. Aaron spared a glance down to Spencer’s cock, seeing it more than half hard between his legs.

Aaron moved enough to brush his cock alongside Spencer’s, the near choking sound that Spencer made had Aaron smiling.

“Don’t tease,” Spencer begged.

“I’m not. I’m just showing you how much I love you.”

Spencer gasped but said nothing else. He nodded his acquiescence to it, and Aaron kept on his path across Spencer’s chest to lick at a nipple. Aaron watched as it tightened, so he blew cool air across it. Spencer’s legs raised, squeezing Aaron’s hips. Aaron pressed his tongue into Spencer’s chest and licked across to the other nipple. He licked at it until it was as hard as it was going to get before he nipped down the rest of Spencer’s chest and abdomen to his belly button. As soon as his tongue ringed around it, Spencer moaned. The younger man’s legs fell open, and he tried to press his cock up into Aaron’s chest, so Aaron moved to balance himself on one elbow, using the other hand to hold Spencer down into the bed by his hip.

Aaron repeated the path of his tongue around Spencer’s belly button before he dipped his tongue down into it. Aaron pushed down on Spencer’s thighs until he laid his legs down along the length of the bed.

“Oh fuck,” Spencer uttered, and Aaron smirked as he repeated it. Aaron leaned up enough to where he could see all of Spencer’s cock as a drop of fluid slid down it. Aaron licked again, and when Aaron looked back, another drop was flowing down Spencer’s cock. Aaron vowed to spend a lot of time there one day, to see if he could make Spencer come just from that but today he had another goal. Aaron laid open mouthed kissed all down the side of Spencer’s hip and down to his thigh. Aaron kept going down all the way down to the tip of feet, pressing a quick kiss there before he moved to the other foot. Aaron kissed the bend of his foot before licking up his shin. Spencer giggled a little and Aaron glanced up.

Spencer wasn’t looking at him, his head was turned up, and Aaron wasn’t sure, but he thought that his eyes were closed tightly. Aaron looked back down, surveying the knee in front of him. He could see the surgical scars from the first surgery, the faded lines of them blending with his memory and he saw how they had looked that night in the shadowy dark of the living room at Spencer’s apartment. Aaron blinked, and the freshness was gone, just the faded lines of old scars. On the other side of his knee cap though was newer looking scars, not quite as faded as the others were and there at the top of his kneecap was the scar from the entry of the bullet. Aaron pressed a kiss there, and he was ready for Spencer to jerk his leg away. Aaron gripped his ankle holding it down onto the bed.

“I’m not going to hurt you again,” Aaron whispered, just loud enough for Spencer to hear. Spencer was looking down at him. His head raised up and his eyes wide. Aaron forced himself to look away from those eyes staring at him and moved to the first surgery scars and kissed down them, leaving not even a centimeter without a kiss on it. He found the small dots of entry from that surgery and kissed those before he moved to the scars that he had caused to be there.

Aaron moved back to the first entry scar from the bullet and kissed it again. Spencer’s entire body went limp with that, complete submission and Aaron realized that all the times that he had thought the genius was lax, he really wasn’t. Aaron marveled at that before he kissed from Spencer’s knee to his hip. Aaron ignored the hard cock that gave a jerk with every single press of lips on skin, moving up to Spencer’s belly button again. Aaron felt the bed move a little and he saw that one of Spencer’s hands was tangled in the sheets at his hip, grabbing hard enough to jerk the entire bedding. He looked up to see that the hand was white on the headboard. Aaron reached out and wrapped his hand around Spencer’s wrist and pulled. It took a few seconds, but Spencer let go of the sheet and allowed his hand to be lifted up. As soon as it brushed Aaron’s hair though it tangled there. Gentle fingers carded through his hair and he waited for the hand to move back to start the same path before he licked around the navel again. Spencer’s hand gripped his hair tightly, pressing his face down.

Licking across the whole of naval, Aaron kept the trail all the way up to the tip of Spencer’s chin before he kissed him, hard. Spencer let go of the headboard and wrapped that hand around the base of Aaron’s skull and held him there, trying to kiss the life out of Aaron. Aaron couldn’t breathe at all, but he didn’t try and pull away. Aaron reached towards the dresser and found the bottle of lube that was there and laid it down on the bed.

Spencer wrapped his arms around Aaron’s waist again, not letting him go anywhere. He used that new leverage to keep Aaron right there, thrusting their cocks together, seemingly chasing his orgasm. Aaron pulled away from Spencer’s lips, grabbing the lube and coating his fingers before dropping it back. Aaron pushed backward, making room to get his fingers inside of Spencer, spreading the lube as generously as he could before he coated what was left on his cock.

Aaron looked up at Spencer’s face, seeing the flush of arousal all over his face and his eyes, his eyes were clear of everything except want. Aaron lined up his cock with Spencer’s hole, pushing forward as steadily as he could. Aaron bottomed himself out, watching for signs of discomfort but there were none in the younger man. He looked to be fucked out before he was actually fucked.

Trailing his hands down Spencer’s legs, Aaron slipped his hands under Spencer’s knees, lifting and pressing them into the younger man’s chest, Aaron rested the inside of his knees snug against his chest, and he leaned back down. Aaron pulled out just enough for Spencer to really feel it and then pushed back inside of him as he took kiss swollen lips in another kiss. Spencer pulled him down further, using his legs to hold his chest in place as he was kissed hard. Aaron broke the kiss when he needed to breathe, burying his face in Spencer’s shoulder as he rocked in and out of Spencer. He liked this position better than taking Spencer on his hands and knees. That way was right for a good hard fuck but this, this was so much better. Aaron felt a hand on his hair again as well as one on his back and jerked as he felt nails scrape down his back as Spencer let out a scream.

Spencer’s back bowed as he came nearly pushing Aaron off and out of him. Aaron braced himself up higher, pushing his cock in and out of Spencer, fucking him through his orgasm. Aaron was barely hanging on, and when Spencer gasped before speaking, Aaron came.

“I love you,” Spencer gasped. The utterance falling from him lips like it was coming out with his permission.

Aaron slumped down, barely stopping himself from crushing Spencer as he tried to recover from his own orgasm. Spencer wrapped his arms around Aaron tighter and tipped them onto their sides. Spencer straightened his legs and tangled his with Aaron’s laying there. Aaron pulled Spencer’s face in for a kiss, they laid there just basking in the afterglow. He reached down and cupped the side of Spencer’s knee. Spencer didn’t even react at all. Aaron smiled.

The sound of knocking on the bedroom door had Aaron grabbing the sheet from where it was tangled in their legs and threw it over them.

“Dad?” Jack asked.

“Come in, Jack,” Aaron called out. Spencer was the one facing the door, and he wasn’t letting go of Aaron. Aaron just stayed there like he was. Jack hadn’t bothered them during any other sex act that they had done over the past weeks.

“Dad, what’s wrong?”

“Why would anything be wrong?” Aaron asked.

“I heard Spencer scream.”

Aaron rolled over, Spencer kept his arms wrapped around him. Aaron couldn’t see Jack in the light in the room, so he turned on the bedside lamp. The light from the moon shone over the bed, but that was it. Jack’s eyes widened, and he looked away.

“I’m all right, Jack,” Spencer said.

“People don’t scream unless they are hurt,” Jack protested.

“Jack, I’ll be in the hall in a second let Spencer and I get dressed.”

“Okay.” Jack backed out of the room and shut the door behind him.

“Do you mind if I take a shower in yours after we talk to Jack?”

“You can shower while I talk to him.”

“He’s not going to accept anything unless I am there, you know that.” Spencer reached over Aaron and grabbed his pants from where Aaron had thrown them on the floor. He tossed the covers off of them and drew the pants up on his legs. Aaron grabbed his shirt from where it was and slipped it over Spencer’s head. Spencer smiled as his head popped out the hole.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” Spencer said with a little laugh.

“You go ahead out, I’ll meet you in his room.” Aaron pressed a kiss to his lips before he stood up and moved to the bathroom. Aaron heard the bedroom door open before he turned on the water. Aaron wet a rag and cleaned himself up before he grabbed a pair of clean underwear from his drawer and a pair of sleep pants. Aaron found Jack sitting on his bed with his knees tucked up to his chin. Jack looked at him before he looked back at Spencer.

“He didn’t hurt you?” Jack asked.

“No, Jack. I promise that he didn’t. If anything, I hurt him.”

“What?” Jack’s eyes widened, and Aaron frowned.

“Turn around Aaron.”

Aaron did as Spencer asked. He showed them his back for a few seconds before he turned around.

“Dad, you back is all scratched up.”

“Do you remember when we had the sex talk last year when you ask about it?” Aaron asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, sometimes sex can be…” Aaron didn’t know what word he wanted to use there.

“Exciting,” Spencer filled in. Jack turned to look at him. “Remember on the last day of practice, the younger teams were all practicing, and that one boy got really excited when he kicked his first goal. He ran so fast around the field that he fell over three times trying to get to his mother?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever got so excited or so happy that you kind of lost control of your body?”

“Yes.”

“When you are older, and you find yourself in love, you’ll have moments like that during sex,” Aaron said. This was never a sex talk that he wanted to have with his son but what else could he say? That he fucked Spencer so well that Spencer screamed and raked his nails down his back.

“You didn’t hurt him?” Jack asked, his eyes boring into Aaron.

“No. And even these scratches don’t hurt.”

“Okay.”

“Do you think you can go back to sleep?” Spencer asked. He reached out and ran his hand through Jack’s hair, smiling.

“Yes. Can we talk more in the morning?”

“Sure,” Aaron said, pulling Spencer to stand up. Spencer grabbed Jack’s blankets and covered him up. Aaron watched as Spencer pressed a kiss to Jack’s forehead with a smile. Aaron moved to the door to wait for Spencer to finish. Jack closed his eyes and rolled onto his side. Spencer flicked the light off as he shut the door.

“Sorry. I didn’t even think.”

“Don’t. While not a topic that one would call a good one to have with a near eleven-year-old, I’d rather not tell him a lie when it comes to sex. I washed up quickly. You go ahead and take a shower. I have a pair of pajama pants that will fit you.”

“Thank you.” Spencer moved right into the bathroom after he entered the bedroom. Aaron set about cleaning up the bed and changing the sheets. Aaron could feel the scratches as he moved. Haley had never been expressive like that during sex. She didn’t like Aaron to be handsy during sex either. Aaron hadn’t ever had that kind of experience with sex before her, and he’d thought that sex was great with her. Sex with Spencer though was so much better than Haley. The only thing lacking was cuddling after.

The shower shutting off told Aaron that Spencer would be getting out soon. Aaron grabbed the pair of pants for Spencer and moved to the bathroom door. Spencer was standing in front of the mirror with his hand tracing the small red bites that Aaron had left all over his chest and his eyes were locked on the big one at his collarbone.

“I brought you pants.”

Spencer’s eyes raised up and looked at Aaron through the mirror. “Thanks.”

Aaron handed over the pants, and Spencer slipped them on.

“I’ll return them tomorrow morning.”

“Spencer, stay.”

“Stay?” Spencer turned around to look at him.

“Yes. Stay here, in my bed tonight.”

“I’ve never…” Spencer bit at his bottom lip. “Okay.”

Aaron reached out took Spencer’s hand, pulling him into his body, kissing him. “I like cuddling after sex.”

“I’ve never slept in the same bed as someone so if I hit you or react weird, just don’t hate me.”

“I could never hate you, Spencer. Never.”

XxXxXxX

The boom of thunder woke Spencer from a dead sleep. He rolled over and buried his face in Aaron’s neck to block the flashes of lightning from his eyes. Aaron’s arm that was wrapped around him tightened, and for a few seconds, Spencer thought that maybe he would freak out. His fears for storms had come from the night that Aaron had attacked him and being in bed with the man during one wasn’t exactly a safe place to be, for his irrational fears.

Aaron’s hand reached down and grabbed his knee, pulling Spencer’s leg over his own, Spencer moved just that little bit closer to the older man, but there was no fear.

“Shh,” Aaron whispered. His other hand cupped the back of Spencer’s head, pressing his face just a little farther into the darkness. “I’ve got you.”

“I’m all right.”

“You’ve been whimpering for an hour. I tried to wake you up, but you were too caught in whatever nightmare you were having, so I just held you.”

“I don’t remember a nightmare,” Spencer said as a large boom of thunder shook the house. The windows rattled, and the whimper came out of his throat without him even knowing it.

“You never said anything, just whimpered. So I can’t even help you with what you were dreaming about.”

“You sound really awake.”

“Keeping watch.”

“Sleep, Aaron. You have classes tomorrow.” Spencer felt his cheeks getting hot from the feeling inside him that Aaron cared that much. He had the nagging at the back of his mind that it was just something that was born from them being in such close quarters for so long and that after they had gone back to their lives, it was all going to fizzle, but Spencer tried his hardest to push those thoughts away.

“I’ll go to sleep when you do,” Aaron murmured. Aaron’s hand in Spencer’s hair was doing a good job at trying to put him back to sleep, but the feeling of needing to pee was high.

“First, the bathroom.” Spencer didn’t have the second syllable of bathroom out before Aaron was letting him go. Spencer moved to the bathroom on tired legs and used the facility. He turned the water on and washed his hands, looking over at where their electric toothbrush was. Spencer frowned and looked at it harder. Even without his glasses, he should have been able to see the light that it was charged. He’d put it on the charger when he had gone to bed, but there was nothing. Spencer reached out behind himself and pushed the light switch. Nothing happened. Spencer flicked it a few more times before turning and doing the same to the bedroom light switch, and nothing happened. Fear formed in the pit of his stomach.

“Spencer?”

“The power is out. Check your phone.” Spencer moved towards his side of the bed and picked up his phone. The wireless was off, and there was no cell service. The storm wasn’t that bad to cause that.

“Do the Tomers still have the flood light in their backyard?”

“I saw it last night,” Aaron answered. He was up and moving to the window that looked out over the woods between them and their closest neighbor whose flood light was visible from near a mile away. The way that Aaron’s body tightened, Spencer knew the answer before he spoke. “It’s still on.”

“I’ll go wake up Jack.”

“Get dressed first and go down stairs to get your gun. I’ll wake Jack up.”

“My gun and holster are in your safe up here. I moved it up when I started to sleep every night in your bed. Jack has the taser in his room yes?” Spencer began to strip out of his pajama pants and grabbed a pair of jeans. He didn’t even attempt underwear. Spencer did grab socks and the heavy boots from the closet. He looked and realized that a lot of his things had made it up into the master bedroom, even though he still thought of it as Aaron’s room. Aaron slipped in beside him and grabbed clothes for himself as well as his heavy boots.

“We can’t get away on the horses if this is what this is. The storm has a chance of spooking them and hurting us by throwing us.”

“I know.” Spencer did know that. The plan had been to send Jack on Oreo with his taser away at the first sign of something wrong, and Spencer and Aaron were going to follow if the situation was untenable.

“I want Jack down in your room. There is the secondary exit that can be blocked and he has your room itself to hide in. With that, if someone gets down there, he has a chance.”

“I’ll get him ready,” Spencer said as he pulled his shirt over his head and moved to the door. Spencer had his hand on the doorknob when he felt a hand grab his upper arm. Aaron turned him roughly, grabbing his face next and pulling him into a kiss. Spencer could feel the fear in the kiss. When they broke apart, they were both panting. “For luck?”

“Yes.” Aaron looked like Spencer remembered him, grim-faced and taciturn, this wasn’t Aaron in front of him but Agent Hotchner. Spencer gulped and turned to leave again. Aaron didn’t stop him this time. Spencer crept down the hall slowly. There was no noise besides what was coming in from the storm. Spencer was glad of one thing though, cutting the power had a benefit for the three of them, Lewis would have to get a lot closer to dose them with his drugs instead of using the ventilation.

Spencer opened Jack’s bedroom door and shut it again. He locked it, just to give them a chance. He turned on the light on his phone and found Jack asleep, spread out like a starfish on the bed. Spencer was loathed to wake him up as the boy hadn’t been sleeping well due to allergies, but this had to be done. Spencer shook Jack’s arm. Jack started in his sleep and rolled over to his side, blinking with the light shining on him.

“Athair?” Jack asked. Spencer’s heart clenched at the word, but he didn’t show any emotion.

“The power to the house is cut as well as cell phone reception. We haven’t tried the landline, but I assume that it was cut as well.”

“They found us?”

“Your father and I think so. Get your taser.”

Jack crawled out of bed and moved to his desk in the corner. He pulled open the top drawer and lifted a few things out before taking a piece of wood out, followed by the taser. Aaron had said that he had made sure it was hidden with all the kids that came in and out of their house over the weekend but he hadn’t realized that Aaron had built a hidden compartment in the desk.

“Get dressed in warm clothes. It’s storming too hard for us to escape on the horses. You are going to hide down in my room while we figure out if this is just a cause of the storm or it’s Lewis and Arnold coming after us.”

“Arnold is the one that is after me isn’t he?”

“Yes, and Lewis is after me.”

“Dad says they are both atrocious men but that he’s more scared of Arnold.”

“That’s because Arnold wants to hurt you to get to your father and destroy his life. Arnold plans to just kill you, in the most horrible way that he can think of so that your dad suffers for the rest of his life.”

“He’s like George.”

“Yes. I don’t tell you this to scare you but so that you don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on your taser if it’s not your father coming through a door or me. Shoot first and ask questions later.” Spencer didn’t even want to think about the fact that there was only two of them and that Lewis was smart. He wasn’t going come in without a plan

“That’s what Dad always tells me. Even when he is teaching me how to shoot a gun.”

“Yes, he told me that he’d been giving you handgun lessons on the weekends and had been doing it for years. I didn’t realize that he had been doing that.”

“He does it when you go for your book trip to Athens on Saturdays. Because he wasn’t sure if you would care or not, but he didn’t want to fight at first.”

“Yes, I have realized that he did a lot of stuff not to fight with me.”

“What’s going to happen if it’s them?” Jack asked as he started to get dressed. He picked a heavy pair of jeans from his closet and a t-shirt as well as a long sleeved t-shirt. Next was a thick pair of socks and the heavy boots that Jack wore when mucking out the stables. They were always cleaned off and put back in the closet just in case they were needed to run.

“We will defend ourselves. By any means necessary.”

“Will we get in trouble?”

“No. We won’t. Not with them wanted criminals who escaped from prison.”

“Where is dad?”

“In the bedroom getting dressed. We are going to escort you down to my room.”

Jack nodded. Spencer turned the light off on his phone before he moved back to the door. He laid a hand on Jack’s shoulder when the boy came up beside him. Spencer opened the door and listened. There was no noise. They were safe for now.

XxXxXxX

Aaron listened to Jack lock the door to Spencer’s room before he moved to the stairs. Spencer was securing the outside access door to the basement. It was an old house, and there was an old cellar door that from the outside was well hidden behind bushes but Aaron wasn’t going to take the chance that it wouldn’t be found. Aaron didn’t like leaving Jack down by himself, but he hoped that with Aaron and Spencer upstairs, they would think that Jack was with them.

“Safe?” Aaron asked.

“Yes. But I heard movement outside when I was at the door. I couldn’t tell if it was one or two people.”

“I can’t see Arnold working with Lewis much less anyone else. Lewis was the best way to track us down or Arnold would have gone on his own.”

“I agree. I’d prefer to be as far from Jack as we can get.”

Aaron motioned for Spencer to go first. There was no light in the room except for what came from the small flashlight that Aaron had in his hand. It was one of about thirty that Spencer had squirreled away around the house to have one close at all times in case this happened. Aaron was happy about it given what was going on. Spencer had two other flashlights on his person, but Aaron was shocked at how well he could navigate the entire house blind.

“Spencer,” Aaron said as they crested the stairs onto the ground floor. Spencer turned around and looked at Aaron, the light making his eyes seem a lot darker than they normally were. “If you have the chance, I want you to go with Jack and get help. If I…”

“Aaron, we are all getting out.”

“Spencer, you know what happened the last time that a killer came after me and mine. I will not let someone else be the sacrifice this time.”

“Lewis is after me. Arnold is after Jack. You are here because no one would separate you and Jack. Yes, Arnold is going after Jack to hurt you, just like Foyet went after Haley and Jack to get to you. No matter what happens, if you die or if Jack dies, Arnold wins. You aren’t allowed to die, Aaron Hotchner.”

“Spencer,” Aaron started.

“No. NO. NO! You are not allowed to die!”

Aaron wanted to say more, but the look on Spencer’s face was pure anger. Aaron stopped and nodded. He had made plans and left a will that outlined what he wanted to happen if he did die. Spencer would probably hate him for joint custody with Jessica, but Jack loved Spencer. He knew that Spencer loved Jack as well and taking Jack away from a man that he had come love wasn’t going to be good. There was already a trust set up for Jack. There was enough money in it for his college education. There weren’t sufficient funds to care for him if Aaron wasn’t around so the house would be sold and it and his life insurance would go into that trust and Spencer, and Jessica would have access to it, to make sure that Jack was taken care of.

“Okay, Spencer. I’m not going to die.” Aaron pulled Spencer in for a quick kiss. There was nothing that he wanted more than to have this never happen. He didn’t like hiding, but they were happy where they were. Life was good. Aaron had less stress even with the living situation. All things had to come to an end and he would rather it happen sooner rather than later. Jack was still missing his friends in DC and hadn’t formed too hard of bonds with the kids in the area. Maggie had been the closest, and with her death, he had pulled back from everyone, even Stefan.

“You had better not,” Spencer said. The genius turned and was gone before Aaron could even say anything. He knew that this was hard on Spencer. Being unable to see Henry, unable to write to his mother. Aaron just hoped that everything was fine when they left. He had heard JJ talking to Dave about the chance that Diana Reid wouldn’t take well to the fact that Spencer was in Witness Protection. It would destroy Spencer if she killed herself because of that. Aaron was going to make sure that Spencer didn’t die because of her and because of Henry. They needed him.

Aaron moved around, checking all of the windows and the doors before heading up to the second floor. It was a waiting game. Aaron found Spencer sitting in the window on the outside of the curtain. With just enough room for him to see most of the backyard.

“We are safer inside. If we go out, they can breach,” Spencer said.

“This is true.”

“I worry though that they’ll do something to the horses to draw us out.”

“There is that chance but Spencer, it’s them or us. I love Handsome, but I won’t trade him for you ever.”

“I can see movement around the tree to the left of the house. Not enough to tell who it is but it’s enough to say to me that someone is out there.”

“And you checked the land line?”

“Silence. I just want to see hair. I can tell them apart by hair.”

“Unless they dyed their hair. Lewis’s profile puts him as it a real possibility.”

“Lewis isn’t entering the house unless he knows that he’s going to win. If it weren’t for our security system and the fact that none of the small traps have been tripped, I would say that he’s been in the house.”

“He hasn’t, and you know that. Quit freaking yourself out.”

“I’m not. I’m going over battle plans in my head. I have to do something, and this is better than pacing.”

“What percentage have you set up the possibility that one of them is out there with a sniper rifle.”

“Zero point zero zero two three percent.”

“Why so low?”

“Neither of them would want to incapacitate us with a cold method like that. Lewis wants to get close and drug us before making us do what he wants. Arnold needs the close kill.” Spencer sat up straight and jerked the curtain open a little more. “It’s Arnold, and he’s going up to the porch.”

“We are staying up here until we know where Lewis is.”

“Agreed.”

Aaron moved to the bedroom door and sat down behind it with it open half way. He pressed his ear to the crack and waited. It wasn’t long before the sound of shattering glass sounded. Aaron started when it kept happening. He looked at Spencer and saw that he was looking out a window on the other side of the room, it looked over the side yard. Arnold or Lewis, Aaron wasn’t sure, broke every single window on the ground floor it sounded like. The storm was picking up outside. There was a cold draft running through the house with the smashed open windows.

“What is the percentage that Lewis is already inside the house?” Aaron asked, his voice just loud enough for Spencer to hear.

“Zero or we would be drugged already. Lewis wasn’t counting on me going to pee and realizing that the electric toothbrush wasn’t charging or showing a full charge.” Spencer drew his gun and Aaron heard the safety going off on it even across the room. “I’m going to Jack’s room.”

“Okay.” Aaron turned his head to look out the crack, waiting to see if he could see anything. Spencer disappeared out of Aaron’s sight after a few feet and Aaron wanted to follow him. He understood what Spencer was doing, but he didn’t want to be separated from him for long.

Aaron waited for five minutes, checking his watch regularly, thankful for the light up face before Spencer came back down the hall.

“I can’t see anything from Jack’s windows. And I can’t hear anything. I’m tempted to go down the back stairs and check. I hate waiting around.”

“Same here. Let’s go. You take the back, and I’ll take the front.” Aaron stood up and moved out the door. Spencer went towards the back hallway that would lead to the back stairs into the kitchen. Aaron moved silently and slowly down the stairs. Aaron was loathed to turn on his flashlight to see, giving the UnSubs a chance to find him. Aaron moved to the last step and waited for the lightning to flash again before he moved forward. There was no one in his line of sight, so Aaron stepped forward into the living room.

There was no noise other than the wind screaming through the broken windows and the echo of thunder all around. Aaron waited for the next flash of thunder before he moved farther into the room.

“Agent Hotchner, I’d go to poor little Jack,” a voice said.

Aaron turned around quickly to where the voice was, clicking on the flashlight. The man in front of him was Peter Lewis. Aaron knew the face. What shocked Aaron was the gun in the man’s hand.

The sound of a gun going off was loud, even in the storm.

XxXxXxX

Spencer heard the gunshot and took off towards it. He rounded the stairs into the basement but didn’t run. Spencer took the steps calmly. When he hit bottom, a flash of lightning showed him that the bedroom door was open. Spencer heard ragged breathing coming from two people, so he didn’t turn on the flashlight.

“Athair?” Jack called out, and Spencer sagged in relief. He turned his flashlight on to see Jack standing there with a gun in hand. Spencer didn’t recognize the model, but it was small, and Jack didn’t look any worse for the wear in firing it. Spencer moved the flashlight down the path that Jack was aiming and he saw Karl Arnold on the floor with a gunshot wound to his knee. It was bloody, and Spencer turned his light away from it. Stuck in Arnold’s clothes were the two barbs from the taser. The taser itself was lying on the floor. Spencer cleared the rest of the area.

“Dad put my gun in the safe. I had the safe opened but the door shut. When I shot him with the taser, and he didn’t stop, I ran and grabbed the gun. I told him to stop, but he kept coming.”

“It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay. Come over here. We are going to go upstairs and find your father.”

“I”m bleeding.”

“And you can stay there until the EMT’s get here.” Spencer waved Jack to him, and as soon as the boy tucked himself into Spencer’s side, a gunshot went off upstairs. Spencer knew the sound of that gun. It’s was Aaron’s preferred gun, and he really hoped that Lewis wasn’t using one.

“CLEAR!” Aaron yelled.

Spencer kept Jack behind him as he moved up the stairs. Aaron was walking around in the living room, so Spencer made his way to that direction. He rounded a corner and saw Aaron laying a sheet over a body.

“Lewis?”

“Yes.”

“That was too easy?”

“He tried to get me to go to Jack. I don’t think he was expecting us to separate or for me to be the one to go into this area of the house.”

“He made a mistake. The storm probably pushed him to act sooner than he wanted.” Spencer stepped forward and crouched down to lift the sheet up. He stared at the face of Peter Lewis. He lifted the sheet a little farther up and saw the gunshot wound that had ripped through his heart.

“I don’t think that he thought I would shoot. Thought me to soft from years of not being in the FBI.” Aaron took the sheet from Spencer’s hand and laid it back down. “Arnold?”

“Tased and shot in the knee. He’s down in the basement.”

“We have to get a hold of the Marshals and then the local cops to secure the scene.”

“I’ll talk to the neighbors and ask to use their phone.” Spencer felt numb inside. Lewis was gone. Dead and gone and Spencer was free. He didn’t know what he should be feeling, but it felt like he was feeling nothing or too much at once and it was overloading him. Aaron moved away from him and over to Jack. Spencer stood up from the body and laid his gun on a nightstand. He didn’t want to go to the neighbors with it on his hip, it was an area that was used to guns, but he didn’t need to freak them out.

“Jack and I will stay here,” Aaron said as he and Jack moved towards the only furniture that didn’t have glass all over it. Spencer nodded and walked towards the closet to grab a rain slicker. He slipped it on with no words.

Outside, Spencer didn’t go to the neighbors first. Instead, he moved toward the stable at the edge of the woods. When he opened the door, he could hear the restless horses, but Spencer didn’t relax until he checked on each one of them, sugar cubes grabbed from the stash at the door was given to each one, a treat for not freaking out too much in the storm. Oreo was calm but restless while Handsome was nearly asleep with the storm. Chaucer was waiting for him, head out watching him as he visited the other two first.

“I’m going to miss you, Chaucer. As soon as I can, I’ll get you a place. A beautiful place where you can roam as much as you want between my visits.” Spencer laughed as Chaucer nickered and butted heads with Spencer.

The walk to the neighbors was slow going with the winds as high as they were. Spencer kept his eyes on the road ahead of him as he was walking in the oncoming traffic lane, just to be safe. The ground was wet and slick, and he didn’t need to fall. For near two minutes, Spencer swore he saw headlights coming his way but kept telling himself that it was flashes of light because why would anyone be out in this area at that time of night. Then just fifty feet from where he needed to turn to head down the driveway, headlights flashed over his body. Spencer felt like slipping into the trees, so he did. Spencer’s hand twitched to have his gun in it, especially when the vehicle stopped just level with him.

“Are you okay?” a voice called out from the SUV, and Spencer could see as the interior lights turned on that the SUV was full. Spencer saw a flash of blonde hair and then a door was opening. That blonde haired person was running out towards him. Spencer was ready for whatever the person did except lightning flashed again and he saw a bullet proof vest with the letters FBI stenciled on it and a face he had missed.

“JJ,” Spencer said as the blonde collided with him, knocking him back and onto the ground. Spencer wrapped his arms around her tight. Spencer allowed himself a moment of pure happiness as he felt hot water on his neck, in deference to the cold rain that was pelting. “I’m okay, JJ. Lewis didn’t get me.”

JJ pulled back, staring down at him. There were a lot of bodies around them and when Spencer looked two more SUVs pulled up just behind. The interior lights flicked on in the second one, and Spencer saw Prentiss and Charlie in it. Rossi and Don were standing above Spencer, Don helping JJ to stand before the man helped Spencer up as well.

“Where are Callahan and Brannon?”

“Third SUV. We went down the three main roads in, one on each. As soon as he saw you on the side of the road, JJ called for them to join us,” Don said. He looked up and down the road. “Where are Hotch and the kid?”

“At the house. Lewis set up a cell phone scrambler and cut our power. I noticed it when I went to the bathroom. They weren’t expecting that. Lewis is dead, and Arnold was shot by Jack.”

“Jack?” Rossi asked.

“The taser didn’t take him down, and Hotch had been training him on gun use. Jack took out his knee. I was going to the neighbors to call for help. How did you know to be here?”

“Charlie said that he found footage of both of them converging on this area. And tracked a cell phone to this location,” JJ said.

“Yeah, that was a lie,” Charlie said as he joined them. Charlie stepped past all of them and went right to Spencer for a hug.

“WHAT!” JJ near yelled, even for trying to talk over the storm. Spencer heard running footsteps to see Prentiss and Brannon joining them. Spencer looked to see Callahan not far behind.

“It’s a lot easier to track a killer when one knows the target. I just wasn’t able to check the footage as often on the last case, and I didn’t see them arrive on two different buses until after they were already here, so we were a little behind,” Charlie said.

“What do you mean? You knew where they were?” Rossi asked.

“Prentiss said it. Little Johnnie Abbey reminded her of Hotch,” Charlie said.

“What?” Prentiss said.

“The boy on the case here, the new friend who moved to the area with married fathers? Johnnie Abbey? That was Jack Hotchner.”

“No,” Prentiss said.

“Yes,” Spencer said. Prentiss turned to look at him, shock on her face. “Can we move this to the house? Arnold is still in the basement alive.”

“Yes, let’s go inside,” Rossi said.

JJ wrapped her arm around Spencer and led him to the SUV that she had left. JJ stayed tucked into his side, even though they were both soaked. The drive was silent even though Spencer could feel the questions that they all wanted to ask. He wouldn’t be able to warn Aaron that the team was going to descend.

The house was dark still, and with the windows shattered out, the house looked like it belonged in a horror movie.

“They downed a line,” Spencer said. He could see it now that he was looking for it. The line that ran into the house was laying in the yard. As soon as the lights shone over the house, movement happened inside. Spencer made sure that he was the first out of the SUV and moved up to the porch. “HOTCH!”

Aaron appeared in the front door, gun in hand.

“Our backup was a little late,” Spencer said as he got close to the man. He felt the urge to reach out and pull the man into a hug, but he didn’t want to do that in front of the others. He heard footsteps on the steps behind him and watched as Rossi moved over to hug Aaron. Jack was in the background, and when Spencer held out his arm, Jack tucked himself into his side. “Charlie was keeping an eye on the area and was delayed in catching them arriving by bus.”

“So you were right, Charlie did figure out who Jack was.”

“Genius,” Spencer said with a smile.

“I thought that intelligence couldn’t be quantified?” Aaron asked with a smile on his face.

Spencer laughed, a real and genuine laugh. He was going home, and it was over. The first thing he was going to do was go and visit his mother in Bennington.

Part 6-The Robin

Settling back into life as Aaron Hotchner was taking Aaron more time than he thought it would. Eight months he had been George Abbey and in those eight months, even fighting against Spencer to force the man to act like he existed, Aaron had been happier than he had been since long before the birth of Jack. It was an eye opener.

The locals had only been brought in on the clean up so that they knew what was happening in their area, but as it was a case of two Federally wanted fugitives and three people in Witness Protection, there wasn’t much fighting that the locals could do to get the case handed to them. Once the full breadth of exactly what Lewis and Arnold had done and the backtracking that would have to be done, the Ohio State Troopers had been more than happy to hand it over without a fight.

Aaron’s job had been waiting for him when he got back, but he hadn’t wanted it. He had enjoyed the teaching he had done at Washington State Community College, and outside of the students hitting on him, he hadn’t disliked any of it. So Aaron had quit that job and spent the first week back finding a new house. Jack had enjoyed looking for a new home as well as doing his online schooling that had been set up for him. Jack had enjoyed being taught by Spencer and had wanted to do school online which worked for Aaron as it meant that finding a house could take time as he didn’t need to worry about enrolling Jack in school and then have to pull him out.

The money portfolio that Aaron and Spencer had been shipped off to Ohio with hadn’t gone down even with all the spending done. Instead, Spencer had managed it well and even after buying and then selling the house at a loss due to the death that happened in it and the vehicles bought, WitSec had earned money off of them being in hiding.

“Dad?” Jack asked as looked in Aaron’s open bedroom door. Aaron turned and looked at him. Jack had a stuffed animal in his arms, something that had appeared after Jack had shot Arnold. The man had lived through the experience, but he was never going to see the light of day, and he had ended up losing his leg. Aaron opened his arms, and Jack scrambled into the room and cuddled into Aaron. “Where is Spencer?”

“Visiting his mother. She’s sick, and it was hard on her to have him go into hiding. The FBI gave him some compassionate leave to where he can go and visit her and not have to worry about his job.”

“But he’s not called.”

“I know.” Aaron could feel the ache of that like a whole in his heart. Letters had arrived via Dave on an every few days basis with a return address of the BAU. The letters were for Jack, and while they were short, it was all about Jack’s schooling and how he was settling back into life. Spencer never talked about him in the letter and never asked about Aaron either. Jack wrote him back each time, and when Dave dropped off another letter, he took the other back and promised to send it to where Spencer was staying.

Aaron had plans, and he was going to see them happen. It had taken a week for Aaron to realize that going to see Diana in Vegas was just a smoke screen. Yes, Spencer wanted to see her, but he was hiding. He was scared. Aaron knew the psychology behind forming attachments to people in short time because of being thrown together. It wasn’t unlike Stockholm Syndrome, but he was sure that it wasn’t what was going on. It was more like life moving on even with a near six-year gap in their lives.

With the final piece of the puzzle slotted in where it belonged, Aaron had finally figured out the one fact that he had never figured out in the aftermath of what he had done to the younger man that night. Aaron had been mourning the loss of the woman that he had loved since high school. That was why he had gone to that bar but the whole reason of him attacking Spencer, verbally and physically, hadn’t dawned on Aaron until he had been talking to his therapist. He had made an appointment for Jack with a trauma specialist, and Jack had wanted him to speak with her as well, and she had wanted the same thing, just to gauge what kind of support Jack was going to have going forward.

No matter the fact that Karl Arnold was alive, Jack had shot him. It had been in defense of his own life, but it didn’t change the facts. Nightmares from Foyet had resurfaced when Jack had fallen asleep after that night. Spencer had been there for that first night and between the two of them, sitting up on either side of the kid, Jack had slept safely.

Aaron had gone to two sessions with the doctor without Jack, and in the middle of the second session, she had asked the question that no one had ever asked before.

“You have talked about what happened years before but never why.”

“I blamed him because it was easier to do that than blame myself.”

“I don’t think that’s all of it, Aaron. Yes, he was easy to blame, and he was weak at the time, but you have talked about how when he’s scared he does his best work. You might have said that with a smile on your face like you remembered something that makes you happy, someone doesn’t figure that out in a happy situation.”

“No. The first time Spencer shot a man who was going to kill him, me, and a whole bunch of innocent civilians. He had failed his firearms test just days before but with his hands zip tied, a bruised body from me kicking him, little light, and under intense pressure, he used a gun he had never handled before. Spencer put one in between the man’s eyes because it had to be a head shot, anything less and the suspects finger on the trigger could make his body spasm, and he could have injured or killed almost everyone in the room.”

“That’s still only one single instance.”

“A few years later, we were doing an interview with a serial killer that was slated for execution. The man was going to try and kill us so that his execution could be extended. I allowed the man to bait me and I was getting ready to fight with him. Help was several minutes away as it was a shift change. It was going to take at least ten minutes for someone to come and let us out. Spencer bluffed the man with the psychology of why he was what he was for thirteen minutes allowing the guards to come and let us out.”

“Why were you susceptible to the baiting?”

“Haley was pushing me into signing the papers uncontested. Giving her everything that she wanted in the divorce for no care in what I wanted. I was upset about that and quick to anger, and it almost got Spencer, and I killed.”

“But he was just a coworker at the time.”

Aaron had stopped then and just stared at her. It hadn’t taken long for Aaron to figure out what she meant. The woman didn’t need to tell him anything else or even talk to him. He had gone down that path on his own. He had been self-destructive, and in a blind, drunk rage after the death of Haley, he destroyed his one chance at happiness. He had always been drawn to Spencer. He had always liked talking to him, being around him, and protecting him when it was needed. He had set out that night to destroy himself and his future, and he had almost done the same to Spencer.

That therapy session had been the last that he had done with the woman, but Jack still saw her once a week and sometimes called her in the mornings if he had a bad night. Aaron though didn’t have an outlet. He had no way of contacting Spencer, and he knew that if he even asked Dave, the man would tell him no. Dave had been protective of Spencer after he had found out what Aaron had done to him that night.

Aaron was shocked that Morgan hadn’t paid him a visit.

“Aunt Jessica said that Spencer is confused.”

“She’s probably right, Jack. It’s been a big difference for him. He didn’t mean to get as attached to us as he did and Spencer needs time to get his head on straight but the fact that he writes to you is a good thing.” Aaron was happy that Spencer did because it meant that Spencer didn’t want to cut ties all the way.

“Aunt Jessica said he’s funny for writing letters and not just emailing them.”

“Spencer has always written letters. He used to write his mother every single day, even if it was just a few lines on a page when we were working a case. I know that he wrote to her every day that we were in hiding. He kept it in a journal, and he told me that he was going to give it to her when he got back.”

“What are we going to do if he doesn’t want us anymore?”

“Well, I’m not going to give up as easy this time, and I’m going to make sure that he truly doesn’t want us before I give up. I love him, and I don’t let those who love me go without a fight.”

“Good.

XxXxXxX

Spencer sat down at his desk and sighed as he relaxed back, ignoring the blinking light that said he had a voicemail. It was his first day back as Unit Chief for the BAU. There was a knock on his door, and he looked up to see Morgan. In his arms was Hank, who had dropped a lot of weight since Spencer had last seen him. Spencer was up and taking Hank from his father before he even said anything. Hank screeched at him in happiness.

“Hello to you too, Pretty Boy,” Morgan said with a laugh.

“Hi, Morgan. You didn’t have to stop by. I could have come over tonight. You just back in town from Chicago last night.”

“Hank’s missed you.” Morgan shut the office door, and Spencer dropped his knees, setting Hank down. The boy was a little shaky on his feet, but then he moved around quickly. Spencer smiled. “Yeah, he started to walk right when you said he would, at the point that he began to forget to put things up high. Hank went right after that vase that you had made for Savannah. He had it in his hands. Molly barking is what alerted us to it.”

“He looks pretty steady on his feet. I can see that he doesn’t stop much given how slim he’s gotten, dropping some of his baby fat from all the activity.”

“How was everything?”

“We kept to ourselves. I stayed in the basement and Hotch in the master bedroom. I was Jack’s homeschool teacher, so I did get close to him, but I’m okay, Morgan. He didn’t hurt me.”

“When JJ told me what was going on, I near lost it. Why would they make you go into hiding with him?”

“Safety in numbers. Don’t worry, Morgan. I’m fine. I’m happy to be home. Mom is all settled after having me all to herself for a few weeks. I’m ready to get back to work.” Hank tottered back over to where Spencer was with one of the toys that he had on a bottom shelf in the office just for him when he scooted on his butt around. Spencer broke the toy into pieces and handed them back to Hank. The boy started to put each of the pieces back together.

“Did you get any of that research done that you were working on before you left?”

“I did. I got seven papers and the thesis for my doctoral done. I finally get to add a real medical degree to my name.”

“I’m glad that the committee allowed you to put off the defending of your thesis.”

“Yes well the fact that the school wooed me into it, to be able to tout that I got a degree there, means that me not completing the degree means that they can’t.”

“Do you know if JJ has a case in the pipeline?”

“Savannah texted me yesterday evening and said that the first night that I am caseless, I had better be at your table.” Spencer turned his eyes back down to Hank.

“That sounds very much like my wife. So besides schooling Jack and working on paperwork what else did you learn in the wilds of Ohio. Prentiss said that the land looked like the last place that you would want to live.”

Spencer smiled, but he didn’t want to answer at first, so he picked up Hank and settled the boy in his lap. Hank still has a hold of the pieces of the puzzle, and Spencer only helped slip two the pieces together when it was fine motor skills that were stopping him. He had got so much better at everything while Spencer had been gone.

“In a weekend or two, I want to have Hank, Michael, and Henry over for a sleepover.”

“All three?”

“Jack played soccer. Sixteen kids were regularly at our house. I had to watch them on occasion while Hotch went shopping or something. I handled sixteen overactive pre-teens on a regular basis, I think that Henry and two toddlers will be just fine. I just need to get back into my place and get it all cleaned.”

“It’s clean, Reid. I kept the place clean, and I know that you got in late last night but you had to have realized that the place looks exactly the same.”

“There is that, but no I didn’t look around. I face planted and passed out, and this morning I showered and dressed, but I got breakfast at the diner close to the Academy. Thank you.”

“JJ and I agreed that we could make the transition easy on you. All of your things from storage are in the basement, sorted the exact same way you had them sorted. We took pictures.”

“We?” Spencer asked looking up at Morgan.

“Will and I. We didn’t have anyone strange in there. Henry was put out that most of the things were too heavy for him to help so we set him up on a chair and he used the pictures to tell us where to put everything. He enjoyed that a lot.”

“Of course he did. I’ve taught him well.”

“Well, he saved a whole bunch of comics to read with you. Now answer the question you are trying to dodge.”

“You know me too well.”

Morgan frowned at Spencer and Spencer didn’t know what it meant. Morgan looked away from him for a few seconds before he looked back.

“You say things like that, Reid but I don’t. I know what you have allowed me to know. I took what you offered though because as much as it pains me to say, I knew that if I had pushed for the relationship that we had before that day, you would have cut me off all the way. You don’t allow anyone to actually see all of you anymore. You hide away all of your pain and everything that could be considered a weakness. You wear nothing on your sleeves anymore, and I don’t think that I have heard you genuinely laugh since that day. I’m not saying this to hurt you but so that you know that I understand and I am not going to push. If you don’t want to tell me what you did for fun while there, I get it.”

“Hotch and I worked out an escape plan, we were unable to use it due to the massive storm the night that Lewis and Arnold attacked. From where we were in the area, three cities were in riding distance.”

“Riding, as in horseback riding?” Morgan asked with a smile on his face. Spencer nodded.

“Yes. Jack had to take lessons, Hotch had learned as a child, something to do with what his mother wanted. I took lessons with the same people who taught Jack.” Spencer left off that most of his lessons had come from Hotch. Morgan didn’t need to know that. No one ever needed to know that. “Chaucer was the horse that I liked and bought. He is a sweetie, and he listens well.”

“You on a horse. That’s…I don’t think I can even picture that.”

“I got pretty good at riding before we had to leave.”

“I bet Chaucer is missing you.”

“Probably but I’ll see him as often as I can. The Marshals had him brought here. He’s at a ranch not far from here. They stable horses for those who don’t have the land for them but want to ride. I pay a fee for him to live there and I can ride him pretty much whenever I want.”

“You are going to keep up on it?”

“I got to where I enjoyed riding. It was all woods in the Vincent area that I lived in so it was slow riding for me, but I could think and let my mind wander.”

“So you finally have a hobby that isn’t science or work related, that’s good. Sometime we will have to all go out and see Chaucer. Maybe I can get Savannah on a horse.”

“I’d love to see you on a horse,” Spencer told Morgan with a smile on his face. Morgan laughed and shook his head. The gravity of what the man had said wasn’t gone from the room, but it was less. Spencer knew that he had reverted into himself over the years, letting those around him see less and less of what he really was but he’d paid for allowing people too close.

“I bet you would, Pretty Boy. I bet you would.”

Hank giggled as he finished off the puzzle and held it out for Spencer to coo over.

“Pen,” Hank said.

Spencer looked up at Morgan.

“Yes, one of his first words was asking for you. Savannah and I were talking about you, more like I was ranting about them putting you in hiding with Hotch and Hank was looking at a picture of you. He pointed and asked Pen. Savannah started to cry so now when we talk about you, it’s Pen.”

“Better than Henry’s first try at my name. Will said that for the first few hours it was Pisser instead of Spencer. JJ was not amused.”

“Oh, I remember. Will laughed himself silly she said. Was Henry happy to see you again?”

“He was. JJ kidnapped me for a meal out on my way to the airport from DC. It was just Henry and me at one table with JJ and Will taking another. Henry wants me to stay the night as soon as I can. If we don’t get a case today, I might just do dinner at yours and then a sleepover with Henry. He said that his mom and dad bought him an adult bed and there is room enough for both of us to sleep.”

“He really missed you didn’t he?”

“He did.”

Spencer heard his phone ring again and moved over to it and saw that it was Hotch’s cell phone number. The man had never changed from so long ago.

“Do you need to get that?”

“No. It can go to voicemail.” Spencer wasn’t going to answer it at all with Morgan in the room. The look on Morgan’s face said that Spencer wasn’t guarding his thoughts as well as he would like.

“Hank and I need to get going anyway. Crowds still bother him, and I know the team and possibly most of the BAU will be descending on this office soon.”

“Yes. I think that JJ said something about cake or cupcakes. I don’t know. Garcia will be upset that you aren’t staying.”

“I had dinner with her right before Savannah, and I left for Chicago, and we have dinner set for tomorrow night, case willing of course.” Morgan stood up from the chair he had claimed and moved over to Spencer. Spencer wrapped him in a tight hug. Morgan seemed shocked by how long it took for him to wrap his arms around Spencer and hug him back. “Glad to have you back, Reid. It’s been too silent without you.”

“Tell Savannah that I’ll text her if we get a case. If she doesn’t hear from me, plan for me for dinner tonight.”

“I will.”

Spencer picked up Hank again and moved towards the elevators. Morgan was silent behind him. Spencer hugged his Godson tight to him. Hank hugged back and planted a very wet kiss on Spencer’s cheek.

“Buh-bye,” Hank said.

“Bye Hank. See you soon.”

Morgan took his son and entered the elevator as soon as the doors opened. Spencer watched them until the doors shut. When the elevator had started its trek downward to the ground floor from the sixth, Spencer moved towards his office. He sat down in his desk chair and looked at the two messages now on his phone. Picking up the receiver, Spencer hit the button to access his voicemail. When he was prompted, Spencer put in his access code and waited.

“Spencer, when you get this, please call me. We need to talk.” Aaron’s voice sounded desperate, but Spencer ignored it and hit delete. The second message was the one that Aaron had just left.

“Spencer, you’ve been hiding from me. We have to talk because this isn’t something that I am going to allow you to hide from this time. I love you, and there is nothing that you can say that will convince me that you don’t love me as well.”

Spencer was a little shocked at the abruptness of the message, but he picked up the phone and dialed Hotch’s number by memory alone. Spencer wasn’t sure if he wanted Hotch to answer and him before able to shoot him down in person as it were or to have to leave a message. When after eight rings it went to voicemail, Spencer sighed in relief.

“Hotch, I thought that I made myself understandable when I have not contacted you over the past month that I want nothing to do with you. What we had was nothing but a product of being stuck in a location and being forced to act like lovers in public. You think that you know my mind better than I do and I’m sorry, but I don’t love you. I’ve written to Jack, and I do not mind him writing me back here at the office, but I am unwilling to give even him my home address so that you cannot just show up at my place. Please, just stay away from me, or I will be forced to get a restraining order. I don’t love you, and I never have. Distance has shown me that it was just a form of Stockholm syndrome. That closeness was born from nothing but lies.” Spencer hung up before he could say anything else.

There was a pit in his stomach, and he pushed thoughts of it away. There were voices in the bullpen now and no one needed to see him so unsure of himself. He was Spencer Reid, Ph.D. and Unit Chief of the BAU’s A-Team. He couldn’t ever appear weak. Standing up, Spencer saw that it was all of his team, with Don and Charlie helping Garcia carry what looked like a heavy cake box and a few smaller boxes into the round table room. Spencer was glad that he saved some room because the team needed this even more than Spencer did. They needed to know that they were safe and hale on the far side of the storm that had shaken up all of their lives.

Spencer pasted a smile onto his face and stepped out of his office. He would have to live with the hugs and kisses from Garcia because she had yet to even see him, leaving from the Hoover building in DC to head to Vegas to see his mom. He could get through this, and he was kind of hoping that a case would take them out of town sooner rather than later, getting more distance between him and Hotch.

XxXxXxX

Aaron looked out over his classroom full of students. His return as a teacher, to the FBI academy had been kept quiet, but that wouldn’t stay that way forever. This was his last class of the day, and they were working on the test that he had given them on the first day. The test wasn’t going to count against them, but it was the best way for him to figure out the actual knowledge of the students.

The Director of the FBI was more than willing to reinstate him. He’d gone through a short reclassification course at the Academy on his own with only a single overseer. Aaron’s scores were nearly as good as they had been when he had first gone through, with deterioration for certain things because of his age. His score on the range was still as good as it had been, for all guns.

“Agent Hotchner?” one of the students asked.

Aaron looked and saw that she had her hand raised and he must not have noticed it, hence the speaking.

“Yes?”

“Are you the same Agent Hotchner who used to work in the BAU?”

“I am.”

“Are you going to join the BAU again?”

“No, Cadet Dane. If the BAU wants my expertise, I will gladly consult, but I will be based here at the Academy. My reasons for leaving the FBI years ago still stands but I find that I’ve come to like teaching and here at the Academy, I can teach everything that I like to teach without having to pick and choose.”

Silence filled the classroom. Aaron turned his head back to his lesson plans. There was no way that it wouldn’t get to the BAU that he was back inside the FBI by the end of the day. Aaron had talked the Director into a soft insertion of him. No big fanfare that he was back. Aaron didn’t want to have to fight on his first day back. He had his plans for what was going to happen just a few hours from then, but he had a lot of stuff that he had to do before then.

The new house was working well for them. The master bedroom had been fully remodeled, and Aaron enjoyed waking up in it. The land that came with the house was large but unfortunately not large enough for the horses, but the stable that he had found for Handsome and Oreo wasn’t far away, not really. The master bedroom was actually a converted attic. It sprawled over the whole of the house and Aaron had knocked out walls and had glass put in for the entire back of the room and half of each side. It was a glass that would turn itself dark with a touch of a button, and no one could see inside from outside no matter if it was opaque or not inside. Aaron had the king sized bed right in front of the window and enjoyed waking up to the sunlight.

Jack was enjoying staying in homeschooling, all of his classes were online. Jessica took him riding nearly every single day, and Jack looked forward to it more than anything else since arriving back in the DC area. Jessica was tight-lipped about the friend that Jack had made at the stables who was there randomly over the past two weeks. Aaron had just asked her to promise that whoever it was, was safe for Jack to be around. Jessica said that Jack was with no one safer. Handsome was missing Chaucer, and Aaron felt it like a hole in his heart. WitSec had been a little hesitant about letting them keep the horses, but Spencer had fought until he won on getting Chaucer and Aaron and Jack getting Handsome and Oreo.

The cadets slowly handed in the tests and left. Aaron started to grade the first one as soon as it was handed in. Even long after the last cadet left the room, Aaron sat there working on the tests. He checked the time more than he really should have and when the four o’clock hour hit, Aaron packed up all the tests and slipped them into his briefcase. One of the security guards for the building was entering the classroom as Aaron was standing up.

“Agent Hotchner, two dozen carnations. I confirmed with the delivery woman that it was for you as the name on the card is for Doctor Reid.”

“Yes. I bought the flowers for him. I wanted to do a hand delivery.” Aaron took the flowers from the guard with a smile on his face.

“I see. Well, I am just glad that there wasn’t a mistake.” The guard left with no other words spoken. Aaron took the hallway down to his new office, smiling at the new layout of it. Aaron moved around and set his briefcase down beside the desk, promising to do the grading on the tests first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. Everything depended on how the evening went. Aaron felt his palms start to sweat. He hadn’t done anything so scary as what he was about to do ever. Aaron would almost rather head into the home of a serial killer in the middle of a standoff with the cops than be going into the bullpen of the BAU and force Spencer to confront what was going on between them. He’d given just enough time since that message left on his phone from Spencer, for Spencer to start to relax and not expect anything from him. It was more than a form of Stockholm Syndrome between them. If that was what it was, there would be obsession and Aaron would feel less like he was missing half of himself. Spencer might be able to convince himself that it was all that it was.

The only thing that Aaron was thankful about was that Morgan wasn’t in the BAU anymore because Aaron was pretty damned sure that Morgan would lay him out before even letting him get close at all to Spencer.

Aaron put the flowers on his desk, making sure not to damage them at all before he slipped into the bathroom. While Aaron still preferred to work in suits, he was technically not working at all, and he knew exactly how to dress to catch Spencer’s eye. He had learned well what garnered longer looks from Spencer over their time together and Aaron had gone out and bought a new outfit, in the shades that Aaron liked best.

The way from the main Academy class area to where the BAU was housed on the sixth floor was easy. Aaron moved to the main building comfortably and found that what the Director had said was correct, he had the same access that he had when he had retired. A swipe of the card and he was inside the building. Aaron had a gun on his hip and his backup on his ankle. He didn’t expect any trouble, nothing that would need a gun but it felt right to be there like that. The guards at the main desk were not the same that they had been years before, but Aaron didn’t expect them to be. One look at his badge and the guards paid him no mind.

Aaron was thankful that the elevator was empty when he got to it and that no one joined before the doors shut. Floor by floor Aaron moved up, his palms starting to sweat more and more the higher that he went. When the doors opened on the sixth floor, Aaron stepped out and looked inside the glass of the bullpen. Prentiss, Callahan, and Brannon were sitting at their desks, and the rest were filled with other members of other teams. There was a light on in both Spencer’s office and in Dave’s. Just as Aaron moved to open the door, JJ was leaving Spencer’s office, and she spotted him. JJ stopped in her tracks, confusion on her face. Aaron went through with it and stepped inside, pushing the door shut.

“Hotch?” JJ called out and, Aaron really wished that she hadn’t done that. Prentiss was the first to look up and, Callahan and Brannon looked next. Aaron stayed where he was and waited for Spencer to come out of his office. That was Spencer’s domain and, Aaron wasn’t going to go in there until he was invited in.

Dave was the first to leave his office. There was a look of utter confusion on Dave’s face as he took in Aaron standing there with two dozen carnations of various colors in his hands.

“Aaron?” Dave asked.

Aaron didn’t look away from where he was waiting to see movement inside Spencer’s office. He knew that Spencer was going to be mortified, but there was a method to Aaron’s madness. Even if Spencer ignored him, the rest of the team would be intrigued and force Spencer to confront it. Aaron waited, barely breathing for the movement.

Finally, after near two minutes of standing there, Spencer stood up from his desk. Aaron crossed the room to stand at the bottom of the steps, waiting for his first glimpse of Spencer since Vincent.

XxXxXxX

Spencer signed the papers that JJ needed him to and leaned back in his chair. It was almost time for him to leave to meet with Jack at the stables for them to go riding. Spencer had recognized Oreo the first time that he had been able to go for a ride. Spencer had been shocked that Hotch had chosen the same place for stabling his two horses that Spencer had chosen, but Spencer had just made sure to check around when he arrived. Then one day, Spencer had finished up his leisurely ride with Chaucer when another horse had come up to him and put his nose into Spencer’s side. Spencer turned around and found Jack and Oreo right there with a lady behind Jack trying to get his attention. That was how Spencer had been introduced to Hotch’s ex-sister-in-law and made plans to meet Jack when he could. Jack rode at the same time nearly every single day, so it was easy for Spencer to slip away and join him. Of course, throughout the week, Jessica took Jack while on the weekends, Hotch took the boy.

“Hotch?” JJ’s voice carried back into the room, and Spencer had to stop himself from jumping up to look. There was no way that JJ would have said that name if Hotch wasn’t out in the bullpen for some reason. Spencer hoped that the man was there to see Rossi. Spencer had made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with him anymore and while Spencer was more than willing to spend time with Jack, he was not going to do the same for Jack’s father.

Spencer waited, expecting to hear footsteps on the stairway outside of his office, so he looked down at the file that JJ had given him for a possible case if another body was found in the next day. Spencer didn’t want to be seen watching for Hotch, even if he did want to see the man and make sure that he was doing fine. Spencer pushed that part himself down. Hands starting to sweat, Spencer picked up a pen to make notations on the file. He read over the same paragraph seven times before he looked back up.

“Aaron?” Rossi’s voice called out from his office, loud enough for the whole of the bullpen to hear which meant that Hotch hadn’t gone to Rossi’s office. Spencer dropped the pen into the cup for it and closed the file. Hotch was there for him. He didn’t need this to become office gossip. Spencer stood up from his chair and made sure that his clothes were all neat and orderly. Spencer grabbed his suit jacket and slipped it on as he moved to his door.

Spencer’s words of calling Hotch up to him died on his lips when he saw Hotch standing just on this side of the glass doors with flowers in his hands, carnations of every color. Spencer remembered the night that they had talked about flowers. Sweat cooling on their skin with the bedroom windows open in the middle of the night. Spencer had been on his stomach with Hotch pressed into him from the side. Hotch’s fingers had traced over the bumps on his spine and even the curves made by his shoulder blades. It should have been maddening, but for Spencer, it had felt good. He’d answered whatever questions Hotch asked, never actually filtering what he said.

There was no mistaking what the flowers meant for Spencer or for the rest of the team that was scattered around the bullpen. Thankfully, the members of other teams weren’t that invested in things, so they were looking at their paperwork while Prentiss and Callahan were looking between Spencer and Hotch. Brannon was watching Spencer with a confused look on his face.

“Inside,” Spencer said, and then he turned and stalked back into his office. Spencer sat down in his office chair and pushed himself all the way up to where his legs were as far under the desk as they could get. Spencer waited for Hotch to come up the steps. He expected the man to get inside and start to profess his undying love and Spencer could shut him down as quick as he could. Spencer was the consummate profiler. He was damned good at his job, and he could make Hotch understand that it had been nothing more than a diversion to pass the time while they were stuck in backwoods Ohio. He could shred the man just as effectively as Hotch had tried to do to him years before. Except there would be no physical touching. There would be nothing from the other man.

Hotch entered the office, shutting the door but he didn’t move to sit down in front of the desk or even stand in front of it. He moved to where there was a vase of fake purple flowers on a shelf just to Spencer’s right. Garcia swapped out the flowers in it from time to time, telling him that he needed color in his office. Hotch laid the fake flowers on a shelf below and took the vase over to where Spencer’s coffee pot sat. Spencer watched him as he grabbed the gallon of water that was on a shelf and filled the vase before he dropped the carnations into it and undid the string that was holding the flowers in the bundle. Hotch threw the package from the flowers away and moved over to Spencer’s desk with the vase, setting it down on the corner before he finally sat down in the chair that was directly in front of where Spencer was.

Spencer didn’t even say anything, he just sat there, staring. Hotch stared back and, Spencer remembered why he had been the hardass that he had been. Still, Spencer wasn’t going to break, not even to look and see if the team was looking inside from the window. Spencer counted the seconds as they passed by with Hotch just staring at him. There was nothing on Hotch’s face and, Spencer made sure that there was nothing on his. Hotch stood up from the chair and moved around, keeping Spencer eyes locked on him as he moved to the window and closed the blinds without looking. He stalked forward, and Spencer wasn’t sure what he was going to do until he grabbed the arm of Spencer’s chair and pulled, spinning him, never going fast enough to force Spencer to look away from him.

It wasn’t until Hotch trapped him in the chair and leaned down that Spencer realized what his plan was. If he cried out, the team would burst in, lock or no lock. If Spencer looked away, Spencer lost the staring contest and possibly more but if Spencer let Hotch actually kiss him, he’d lose everything. Hotch didn’t stop, and his eyes just got bigger and bigger, and then he was tilting his head enough for the kiss, but his eyes were open. The first brush of lips on his own had Spencer closing his eyes in defeat. Spencer pressed his lips into Hotch’s, reaching up to hold him in place by the hand on the back of his neck.

“I almost had you out of my system, why couldn’t you have stayed away longer?” Spencer asked, his voice a whisper. He didn’t open his eyes to look at the infuriating man in front of him. “I would have been able to turn you away then.”

“Because I love you and I was not going to let you walk out of my life like you were trying to do.” Hotch pulled on him, and Spencer slipped off the chair and into Aaron’s lap, Spencer’s legs on either side of him. Spencer didn’t feel lips press into his own but brush his forehead and arms wrapping around him. “I had a three-page speech all planned out that can basically be summed up in ‘prove that you don’t love me by remaining calm as I kiss you.’ I knew I’d win.”

“You don’t even understand what I have put myself through to not think of you.”

“I know that we can’t slip into what we were before, in Vincent without a lot of work. I don’t expect us to just jump into bed and think it’s all going to be roses. Jessica is taking Jack riding this afternoon, and I have finished up my work for the day. I was going to call and ask her to watch him while I took you out to dinner.”

“Your son is incorrigible.” Spencer didn’t open his eyes, he was enjoying just being held. He had missed this most of all.

“I know that but what exactly do you mean?”

“What is the closest stable to here, Aaron?” Spencer asked. Spencer could feel hands cupping his cheeks and turning his head back up, strong thumbs rubbed on his cheeks.

“Horizon Ranch.”

“Where do you think Chaucer is?”

“Really?” Aaron asked, his voice so hopeful.

“Yes, and I meet up with Jack at least once a week to go on a ride. He talked Jessica into not telling you but has been trying his hardest to make me talk to you. Oreo doesn’t help with coming up to me all the time, and then that makes Handsome do it. Those four are matchmakers, and the poor horses just want things to go back to normal.” Spencer opened his eyes, finding Aaron right there. That happiness was back in his eyes. The happiness that said that Spencer was making the right choice, no matter what he wanted to try and make himself think. Aaron, and Jack, had carved out holes in his heart, and when he had left them, they had taken chunks of him with them. “Kiss me like you mean it, please?”

“No. Not yet. We will go and ride together and then make a decision if you want Jack to go out to eat with us or if it’s just us but first I know that the team is out there and there is probably a damned good chance that Morgan has been called. At least by Prentiss if not JJ as well.”

“Possibly Callahan. She was around for the fallout of what happened that night. She heard the rumors like a lot of the others in the Academy at the time. Morgan is going to flip. If he’s out there, I would stay behind me.”

“I’m going to stay behind you anyway. You are the scary one now, not me.”

“But he doesn’t have to listen to me, I’m not his boss, and he’s a civilian and so are you.”

“Actually,” Aaron started, and he stood up. He unclipped the ID badge clipped to his shirt pocket and handed it over. Spencer looked at it and was shocked to see it was a full badge. Next, a set of credentials was shown to him, a shiny badge and all. Spencer looked up at him. “I’m a teacher for the Academy, basic law, profiling, and when needed some marksmanship. I started back today. The Director kept my reentry quiet, much like he did Dave’s back in the day. I found that I liked teaching at the college, but I didn’t want to teach at any of the colleges in the area. I set up a meeting with the Director, and we talked things over. I had classes today, but it wasn’t anything too horrible. Enough rumors are floating around about my time as an Agent that none of the kids gave me any issues. I figured that even if you didn’t ever take me back, our paths wouldn’t cross that much.”

“You…what did the Director say about us being in a relationship?”

“Considering that we aren’t going to be in the same unit and the only time that we would work together is if I am needed to consult on a case and not have Dave do it behind everyone’s backs. He already told me that Dave would have control of me in the field if I ever had to go out into it. I don’t plan on it happening often. The Director also said that he wasn’t going to check how many rooms were rented when it did happen. I took that to mean as long as no one says a damned thing about us sharing, he was okay as long as it never reached his ears.”

“I don’t know if I want Rossi to talk about the fact that we share a room. He tries his hardest to get me to be his wingman when he goes out. I agreed once, and the woman was like a cougar. I felt like I should have asked for ID to make sure she was healthy enough for sex.”

“Spencer, you do realize that I am sixteen years older than you, don’t you?” Aaron asked.

“You didn’t set out to find someone that is younger than you to have sex with. You don’t feel more in power by having sex with someone younger than you.” Spencer started to lay down the psychological profile of a cougar when Aaron leaned in and kissed him. It wasn’t the kind of kiss that Spencer wanted but, it did silence him. Aaron pulled back a few seconds later with a smile on his face. “I do like the carnations.”

“I knew you would. Why don’t we get up and you can read the card.”

“Card?” Spencer asked. He stood up as Aaron did and slipped between the older man and the desk to round it and find the little plastic stick with a card on it. Spencer plucked it off and read it. You are the only one I want for the rest of our lives.

“I mean it, Spencer. You are the only one that I want,” Aaron whispered into Spencer’s ear. Spencer turned around to wrap his arms around Aaron’s neck. Aaron cupped the back of his head and kissed him. It was a hard and possessive kiss that had Spencer clinging to him. Spencer reached back to support himself on his arm. Both of them were breathless when a knock came at the door.

“Reid?” Rossi called out.

Spencer pulled back and sighed. He leaned in and tucked his head into the side of Aaron’s neck and inhaled. Aaron tipped his head back up and pressed a last kiss onto his lips. Aaron sat down in the chair, and Spencer moved to sit down in the center of the desk.

“Come in!” Spencer yelled. Just as the door was opening, Spencer set his foot on the arm of Aaron’s chair. Rossi was the first one in the door with JJ and Prentiss right behind him. Brannon stayed on the outside as Callahan and Garcia entered. “Come on in Brannon, please shut the door and open the blinds.”

Brannon did as Spencer bade, but even after closing the door he stayed well back from the others. Rossi though went right for the flowers at Spencer’s left hip. When he read the card, Rossi looked right at Spencer.

“I heard an interesting rumor,” Callahan said with a smile on her face.

“About the new instructor at the academy?” Spencer asked. Callahan nodded. “Exciting isn’t it?”

“What?” Rossi asked.

“Aaron has taken over as one of the primary instructors for the profiling classes and law at the Academy,” Spencer said.

Aaron has?” Rossi asked.

“So who called Morgan?” Spencer asked as he saw Morgan step off of the elevator and make his way right for Spencer’s office.

“That would be me, boss man,” Garcia said.

“It’s okay, Garcia. I’m not upset.”

Morgan looked in the window, and Spencer waved him inside. Morgan opened the door.

“You made excellent time unless you were already on your way.”

“Garcia and I were going out and her car is in the shop so I told her I would pick her up. I just put the gas on a little more when I got the call. What is he doing here?”

“Why do you think you have a say where he is?” Spencer asked.

Morgan stopped and looked at Spencer, shock on his face. He looked between Spencer and Aaron before his eyes narrowed on Spencer’s face.

“Why…” Morgan trailed off as he looked at the flowers.

“We had a rough go of living together at the beginning. I wanted to never have to speak to Aaron. He made it his job though of making sure that we could at least act like a married couple. We laid bare every single issue between us in the months that we were together in Witness Protection. Everything. I finally allowed him to apologize for what he did to me years ago and we talked about it until we were blue in the face. What came after that is ours and no one else’s. I will not fight to make you all happy about our relationship. I will not beg for you all to accept us. You can accept us as we are or you can not. I can’t make you happy about our relationship, and I am not going to spend my time to make you accept us.” Spencer smiled at the team, and he knew that the only one who was going to have a big issue, big enough to make a public display was Morgan. Rossi would talk to Aaron in private. JJ would talk to Spencer in private. Callahan and Brannon would accept and move on. Prentiss would follow JJ’s lead and let her speak to him first while Garcia was the most problematic. She would either talk to JJ or Morgan and go from there accordingly.

“Relationship?” Morgan asked.

“Relationship, one that I started without your opinion and will continue despite what you think.” Spencer had learned over the years the best way to handle Morgan, especially in the aftermath of what happened. Morgan had been lost at sea a little bit as Spencer had found his footing but while he didn’t need Morgan to be the shelter for him, he’d made sure that Morgan understood that he valued his friendship.

Morgan looked like he wasn’t sure what he wanted to say but he looked between where Aaron was sitting, his back still to the rest of the team and Spencer. Aaron was sitting, ramrod straight in his chair, his eyes forward. Spencer pushed at his arm with his shoe causing Aaron to finally move, to look at Spencer.

“You look happier than you have been in a long time,” Morgan said. He looked down at the back of Aaron’s head and sighed. “Happier than you were when you got back. Savannah said that something had happened while you were gone but she wasn’t sure what it was. You’ll have to bring Hotch around for dinner soon. He needs to meet Savannah and Hank.”

“Jack will enjoy playing with Hank. He’s found an appreciation for small children with one of his friends in Vincent having a younger sibling,” Spencer said, and with his words, Aaron relaxed into the chair for a second before he decided to stand up. He looked unsure of where he should stand because at the moment he was blocking Spencer’s view of most of the team, but a tug on his pants pulled him back to where Spencer could wrap his arm around his waist, holding him off to the side. “Agents Kate Callahan and Dean Brannon, this is Agent Aaron Hotchner.”

Callahan and Brannon stepped up to shake Aaron’s hand, and as JJ moved up to look at the flowers, Rossi moved over to talk to Aaron. JJ kissed Spencer’s cheek, smiling at him.

“Happiness looks good on you, Spence,” JJ said.

“It does. It feels good too. This weekend, I’m pulling Godfather rules and taking your children. Jack’s used to having my undivided attention, and while he knows that I have three godchildren and that I dote on them, that’s different than seeing me with them. Jack likes comics, so that will be something that he and Henry have in common.”

“He’s good to you?” JJ asked, her eyes darting to Aaron, who was still engrossed in a conversation with Rossi and strangely enough Brannon. Spencer tightened his arm around Aaron’s waist, and he turned to look at Spencer with a smile on his face before he turned back around.

“He’s wonderful to me.”

“I’m glad. You know that I’ll support you. You aren’t some weak willed man that is going back to an abuser. He’s kept Jack for years, and if he was truly what he seemed he was going to become after that night, that sister-in-law would have taken him away.”

“Yes, Jessica would have. That reminds me that I have an obligation.”

“Riding isn’t something that your horse is going to miss if you are late.”

“No, but my riding companion might get a little bit upset. JJ, I’ve been meeting with Jack and riding. Aaron is going to join us.”

“So this wasn’t a spur of the moment Aaron wanting to bring you flowers was it?” JJ asked.

“No, he was being stubborn and trying to act like he didn’t love me,” Aaron said.

Spencer blushed and ducked his head a little bit. He could feel how hot his cheeks were getting and hated it.

“Well, don’t keep him waiting. There is no case in the pipeline, the serial killers are strangely lackluster since we caught the last of the escapees in Texas. It’s like they know that we would be extra hard on them with you back.” JJ kissed Spencer’s cheek before looking at Aaron and leaning in to kiss his cheek. “Glad to have you back, in some fashions, Hotch.”

“I’m glad to be back.”

JJ ushered everyone out of the room in only a way that a mother could do. Morgan went with only a glance back at Spencer but, he knew that Morgan would calm down. He’d watch Aaron with Spencer for a while before fully accepting it but, Spencer would make sure that he was aware that he didn’t want to lose Morgan’s friendship over the relationship but if he kept up the dislike, Morgan would see him less.

“Are you ready to go and surprise Jack?” Aaron asked.

“I am.”

XxXxXxX

Aaron smiled into his pillow as he woke up. He could feel the sun shining inside the room and couldn’t wait until he was able to actually open his eyes up. Aaron rubbed his face into the pillow, forcing himself to wake up. He wanted to be fully awake before he opened his eyes. The room was warm but not so hot that a sheet wasn’t needed and Aaron could feel the sheet, where it was barely on his body.

Finally, Aaron opened his eyes as he rolled onto his side to take in the form beside him. Spencer was half on his side and half on his front, dead to the world. One arm was under the pillow, his head resting on the pillow right on top of said arm. The other arm was stretched out, hand dropping off the bed. Aaron’s eyes swept lower, taking in the slim waist and round buttocks before looking at his legs. Right leg was straight down the bed while the left was crooked up, pushing Spencer’s hips into the side instead of flat on the bed. The sheet was barely on the bed at all, only a slip of it was on Spencer much less the bit that was on Aaron.

Aaron reached out and grabbed the corner of the blanket and lifted it, he wasn’t shocked when as soon as it was up high enough gravity finished the job of it slipping off Spencer’s body, leaving him gloriously naked. Aaron moved his eyes from the tempting sight of bare back sprawled inelegantly on the bed to take in Spencer’s face, what he could see of it. Spencer was beautiful, but Spencer was near ethereal when he slept. It was the only time that his face was perfectly relaxed, his brain not racing a mile minute with a case or just the things that he always thought about. Well, it was the only time that nothing was giving him fits. He was sometimes perfectly relaxed when Aaron broke his brain for a few minutes after a spectacular orgasm.

Jack was at JJ’s for the weekend. The friendship that had formed between Henry and Jack had been fast but no less deep. It was like they had been friends over the years. Jack remembered Henry from when he was a baby and had told Henry that the first time that he had met the boy at a team dinner out, Henry had spit up all over Aaron and Spencer AND Prentiss before finally settling down to sleep in JJ’s arms. Henry had been mortified, and everyone else had just been shocked that Jack had remembered it. Aaron had been happy when JJ had agreed to babysit Jack for the weekend. The team had been on a nine-day case with JJ staying back because she had caught a nasty stomach virus that had lasted for three days. She helped with small things but Spencer had handled the press for the case, and Aaron hadn’t even tried to hide that he was trolling YouTube for all of the news videos from the area.

Spencer was a force of nature in his place as Unit Chief for the BAU. Aaron had accessed everything that the BAU had done over the years that he hadn’t been with the BAU, his excuse was to know what changes had been made over the years that he had been gone, but in reality, it was to understand the changes that Spencer had gone through. When he had got to the case in Texas where Spencer had been shot in the neck, Aaron had wanted to pull Spencer into his arms and never let him leave again, but Aaron knew that it would never fly. Aaron finally felt that fear that Haley always spoke of when he came back from hard cases or the fear that Aaron would never come home. Aaron had bought Garcia a dozen of her favorite cupcakes in thanks for protecting Spencer in the hospital from the man that had tried to kill him.

Reading everything that had happened to Spencer over the years had been eye opening to Aaron on the exact depth of his feelings for the younger man. He knew that he was in love with him, but the sheer depth had been an unknown until he had read the Texas casefile. Aaron had wanted the younger man to move into the house with him that instant but he knew that Spencer would balk at that. Spencer had his own place, and he liked it. It wasn’t big enough for Aaron and Jack to move in and that was what calmed Aaron down. Spencer would move in when he was ready, and the only thing that pushing him would get is an upset partner.

Spencer shifted on the bed slightly, going to a position where his back was closer to flat on the bed, his ass on display even more. Aaron gave up his fighting temptation and touched. He ran the back of his fingers down Spencer’s spine. The younger man shivered but did nothing else. Aaron marveled at that. If Aaron wasn’t home when Spencer went to sleep, sometimes cases actually wore him out, and he was asleep before the sun slipped below the horizon, Aaron just breathing in the room would wake up Spencer. However, if they went to bed together, there was little that Aaron did that woke him up until he was ready to wake up.

Aaron moved Spencer’s hair to where it was off of Spencer’s neck, allowing Aaron to place kisses there. The kisses were light and dry, nothing that would chill Spencer’s skin, at least not now. Spencer tilted his head up in his sleep, giving Aaron more room to place kisses up the lithe neck. Spencer loved it when Aaron touched him, even if it was just fingers on his clothed thigh when they were eating out.

A kiss placed to the tip of Spencer’s shoulder before Aaron moved onto new territory had Spencer parting his lips and sighing in his sleep. Aaron smiled to himself before he kissed along the back of Spencer’s shoulder. When Aaron found Spencer’s spine, the knobs sticking out and begging to be kissed, he started down Spencer’s back, mentally naming each disc because Jack had begun a biology section on the bones in the body and Spencer had delighted in making sure that Jack would name every single bone in the human body. Which had turned into a lesson in the best ways to take apart a chicken, with visual aids of a poor de-feathered chicken that Aaron still wasn’t sure where Spencer got. Aaron had been thankful that Spencer hadn’t even broached the best places to separate humans into pieces, even though Spencer and even Aaron knew that.

When Aaron reached the dip of the tailbone, he looked down, the swell of buttocks filling his vision. He looked back up to see that Spencer was still in the same position, he wasn’t even trying to wake up at all. So Aaron stuck out his tongue and flattened it as much as possible before licking from small of Spencer’s back all the way up to his neck, leaving a just went enough trail that when Aaron blew cool air on it, Spencer shivered. Spencer turned his head away from the light of the room, meaning that he was waking up. His left arm was drawn up and slipped under the pillow at the same time that he rolled onto his front, straightening his left leg. Aaron let him settle in that position before he trailed one of his fingers down the same path that his tongue had moved up.

The swell of Spencer’s buttocks finally could be ignored no longer. Aaron reached out and cupped it. Aaron scooted down the bed to place a kiss on the swell of the other buttock. Spencer shifted on the bed, his legs opening up just a little. Aaron scraped his teeth on the cheek before he moved lower, placing a kiss just at the bottom of the cheek. Spencer still smelled like Aaron’s body wash. Spencer hadn’t brought any of his things for the shower to Aaron’s. It had thrown him at first, thinking that Spencer didn’t want it, but then one night after a shower, Spencer had been sitting down on the toilet as he had worked the lotion into skin and Aaron watched as he put it everywhere except his right shoulder. Over the course of the rest of getting ready for bed, Aaron watched as Spencer kept smelling that spot. Aaron had moved over to him and rubbed in some lotion into the place. Spencer had frowned, but Aaron chastised him that he missed a spot. When they finally laid down, Aaron had pulled Spencer to where he could smell the scent of the body wash on Aaron instead of having to smell it on himself. The next time that Aaron had gone shopping, he had bought Spencer the brand of body wash that he liked but found a lotion in Aaron’s favored scent.

Aaron nosed in at the crack of Spencer’s ass, and Spencer responded by spreading his legs even more. Aaron moved to where he could slip between those legs, his hands parting the cheeks in front of his face. Aaron looked up at Spencer, watching him rub his face into the pillow, fighting waking up but knowing that he needed to. Aaron moved to hold the cheeks open with a single hand and pressed his thumb between the cheeks, just on the underside of the hole, brushing the finger down to press on his perineum all the way down to the sack of his balls. Spencer lifted his hips and Aaron watched as he tried to make room for a growing cock between his body and the bed. Aaron scooted the finger back up to press at the underside of Spencer’s hole again before he pointed his tongue and licked from hole all the way up. Spencer jerked on the bed, his arms curling tighter around the pillow and Aaron could just hear a faint moan. Aaron settled his hands back onto cheeks, spreading Spencer fully open to him.

Pressing on Spencer’s hole briefing with both of his thumbs Aaron watched the minor twitch that Spencer gave. Aaron wasn’t sure if he was awake and hiding it or if Spencer was purely reacting while asleep. Aaron wasn’t sure which one he wanted. Aaron pressed his nose just above the crack, pressing in on the dimple there. Aaron followed it with his tongue. The sacral dimple, something that Aaron had only learned the name of when Spencer had talked to Jack about it. It seemed that not everyone had one. Aaron had never paid attention to his own body that close, and he realized that Jack had one but Aaron didn’t. Spencer did, and it was sensitive. Spencer lurched on the bed again, rubbing his cock on the sheets.

Aaron smiled into skin as Spencer rutted on the sheets again. Aaron leaned his face down a little to suck a hickey onto the top of Spencer’s left buttock. There was a fading one on his right from days before. Aaron bit at it and the moan that Spencer let out told Aaron that he was fully awake finally.

“Good morning,” Aaron said, his voice rough with disuse and arousal. Spencer turned his head and tilted it down to where he could look at the blurry shape that was Aaron.

“Morning. I’m holding the reservation on whether it’s a good one or not by what you are going to follow this with.”

Aaron laughed but didn’t answer. Instead, he dipped back down, his thumbs pressing on Spencer’s hole again before he licked. Spencer was utterly relaxed, and when Aaron pulled the hole apart a little with his thumbs, it moved. Aaron dipped his tongue inside as far as it could go. Spencer buried his head in the pillow again but pushed himself up onto his elbows so he could breathe easier. Aaron moved his thumbs out of the way so he could get his tongue in there more. Aaron loved making Spencer lose himself in pleasure, to where he only thought about orgasm.

“More, please,” Spencer begged. The lithe genius spread his legs more, but Aaron pulled up to his knees. Spencer groaned at the loss of touch to his skin but didn’t move. Aaron moved backward until he could stand on his feet on the floor at the end of the bed. Aaron scooted the pillow he had laid there the night before over a little and grabbed Spencer’s legs, pulling on him. Spencer tried to roll over but Aaron didn’t let him, he pulled the younger man until he was kneeling at the end of the bed. Aaron let go of his legs then and grabbed his arms, pinning them behind him before plastering himself there.

“No touching yourself. Your hand even barely touches your cock, and I’m getting your cuffs. Grab the bed if you have to.”

When Aaron let go of Spencer’s hands, he reached up and grabbed handfuls of the fitted sheet on the bed. Aaron tilted his head back by his hair so he could kiss him. Spencer’s mouth opened automatically, and Aaron couldn’t resist dipping inside just enough to taste his lover.

“Stay.”

“Aaron,” Spencer breathed.

Aaron moved down again, his hands going for cheeks and spreading them again. Spencer’s body tensed but not in fear but anticipation. Aaron smiled before he licked again, from below hole all the way up to the dimple again. Spencer didn’t hold anything back as he begged, panted, pleaded, and moaned out his pleasure as Aaron used his tongue to make Spencer’s hole as loose as he could. Aaron slipped a single finger inside of Spencer’s hole using his spit to coat the inner walls before he pulled it out and went back to using his tongue. He brushed his fingers along the bottom of Spencer’s balls, pressing just a little too hard on the sensitive spot.

Two fingers pressed inside of Spencer, and Aaron knew that he was ready. Aaron grabbed the lube that was on the floor, just barely under the bed, also placed by him the night before. He slicked up his cock and pressed two fingers back inside of Spencer to coat actual lube inside of him. Aaron wanted to breach Spencer from that position before putting them back up on the bed. He had plans, and he was going to see them through. Aaron shifted up to his knees, hand holding his cock straight as he pressed the head to Spencer’s hole. He didn’t press inside just sat there with it pressing just slightly on Spencer. He knew if he waited long enough Spencer would take matters into his own hands.

It was forty-five seconds before Spencer groaned and pushed back, the head of Aaron’s cock popping inside of him. Aaron finished the movement pressing himself all the way inside his lover’s willing body. Aaron watched as Spencer turned his head down and bit at the bed. Aaron pulled his cock most of the way out of Spencer before slamming back inside. There was the sound of fabric ripping, and Aaron wondered if that was just the fitted sheet or if Spencer had ripped the covering on the mattress as well. He would check when they were done, not before. Aaron thrust inside of him, roughly, a few times before he pulled all the way out. He reached up and grabbed Spencer’s shoulder and tugged him into a kneeling position.

“I’m going to climb up on the bed, and you are going to ride me,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear. Spencer started to move before Aaron could even get himself moving. Spencer was up on the bed and waiting for Aaron to get in from the side. Before Aaron was even on his back and settled, Spencer was straddling his waist and guiding Aaron’s cock back inside of him. Aaron laid his hands on Spencer’s thighs, feeling the taut muscles as Spencer rocked on his cock.

Aaron looked up from Spencer’s bobbing cock to take in the full view. That view right there was why Aaron had bought the house and remodeled the bedroom the way it was. The morning sun was still bright in the room, and it shone behind Spencer. The light sheen of sweat made Spencer look like he was glowing. Spencer wasn’t looking at him, his eyes closed as he sought his pleasure on Aaron’s cock. Aaron liked this position because he could just watch. Spencer had gone from a solitary creature of habit to someone who adored pleasure whenever he could get it. Aaron loved watching him take what he wanted, whether it was riding Aaron’s cock in the position they were in or he was fucking Aaron’s ass.

That night, Aaron was going to fuck Spencer against the glass as the sun was setting and when they were sated and curled around each other in bed, Aaron was going to propose. It had only been six months since Aaron had forced Spencer into seeing what Aaron knew in the genius’s office of the BAU, but for Aaron, it felt right.

Aaron felt the muscles under his hands falter a little and he watched as Spencer came, his head thrown back, mouth open in a silent exclamation of orgasm. Spencer started to slow down on his rocking on Aaron’s cock, so he took matters into his own hands, tipping Spencer back onto his back. Spencer didn’t need a single prompting to wrap his legs around Aaron’s waist as Aaron slipped back inside of him. Spencer grabbed Aaron’s hair, kept a slight bit longer than he used to keep it and pulled him up into a kiss. Spencer’s head was on the downward curve of the bed, and when Aaron pulled out of the kiss to breathe, it wasn’t hard to follow the curve of that neck with butterfly kisses before a nip to Spencer’s Adam’s apple.

“Harder, Aaron. I want to feel you inside of me.”

“I am inside of you,” Aaron said but he sped up his thrusts. He braced his left arm on the bed, keeping himself upright enough to where he could still thrust but so that he could hold onto Spencer’s hip with his other, pulling him back just slightly enough each thrust for their skin to smack together. It sounded lewd, even to Aaron’s ear with the amount of times they had sex before.

Aaron slammed into Spencer one last time, coming as he curled, his teeth closing around Spencer’s shoulder, muffling his near scream of pleasure. Spencer’s hands in his hair gentled down, rubbing at his neck before dipping down to smooth down his back. Spencer’s hands were never still after sex, he loved to touch, gentle touches that reminded Spencer that Aaron was still there. Aaron had fallen asleep to those touches many times over the last six months.

“I love you, Aaron,” Spencer said, rubbing his nose on the side of Aaron’s cheek, the only thing he could reach. Aaron licked at the skin he had bit before he stretched and caught Spencer’s mouth in a kiss.

“Love you too.”

“Marry me, Aaron Hotchner,” Spencer said next. Robbing Aaron of his breath. He looked at Spencer’s wide eyes. The younger man was smiling up at him. Spencer’s hand cupped the side of Aaron’s face and pulled him into a light kiss before he repeated. “Marry me.”

“Yes,” Aaron breathed before he crashed their lips together. Aaron felt his cock slip from Spencer, so he rolled them to their sides and threw a leg over Spencer’s hips, keeping him right there. “You minx, beating me to a proposal.”

“What?”

“I was going to ask tonight. After dinner.”

“Rossi reminded me that it was six months ago today that you stormed the BAU as everyone is calling it, which how come I didn’t know that.”

“I don’t know, Spencer and I know it’s been six months. That’s why I was going to propose tonight.”

“I don’t like wearing things.” Spencer reached down and drew up Aaron’s hand. The mark where Aaron’s wedding ring to Haley used to sit was long gone. Lithe fingers trailed all over Aaron’s skin right above the knuckle on his ring finger. “The rule of tattoos in the FBI has been relaxed over the years and well…I asked the AD about tattoo wedding rings. That spawned a lengthy discussion back and forth, but given that most tattoos that sit in place of wedding rings are pretty tame and some wedding rings can be quite ostentatious, rules are being written into the dress conduct that wedding ring tattoos are allowed in non-undercover agents. We can get simple one as engagement rings and then add a ring of marriage later, just simple bands or script in the band or whatever you want. If you want. Or I can just get the tattoos, and we can shop for rings for you.”

“Tattoos are hard to remove.”

“Yes, but I am not ever going to let you go. I don’t see where I will ever want to divorce you. You are hesitant because of your past, but it just makes me want you more.” Spencer kissed Aaron’s ring finger before looking up at him.

“You’ve thought a lot about this.”

“I saw it once a few years back, and there are more of them than I thought around. When I started to think about marriage for us, it just fit. I don’t like rings. I tried on a few at a shop, and it just felt so wrong.”

“So you proposed, and you don’t have a ring to slip on my finger?” Aaron asked, partially joking but mainly he didn’t have a ring for Spencer either.

“I have ring templates. They are in my bag downstairs. I can go get them.” Spencer moved like he was trying to get away, but Aaron tightened his leg around him.

“Later, after a cuddle. We can cuddle here until you feel the need to shower then we can go again in the shower and eat breakfast while talking rings.”

“Okay.” Spencer tucked his head under Aaron’s and went near boneless in Aaron’s arms. Maybe instead of spending the afternoon lazing around they could go out and get their engagement rings and then that night when Aaron fucked Spencer into the glass, he could stare at their ringed fingers instead of just imaging rings there. Sounded about perfect.

The End

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