Title: The Angst War
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Tags: Angst, Canon-Typical Violence, Emotional, No Happy Endings, Psychotic Breaks, MPreg, Sentinel/Guide, Rejection, Maeve Lived, One Sided Bonding,
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid,
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner,
Spoilers: Up Through Season 12
Warnings: Major Character Death, Murder, Suicide, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Drug Use, Non-Consensual Bonding, One Sided Bonding, Rape, Child Molestation, Child Rape, Cutting, Self-Harm
Chapter 42-The Decision
Aaron was walking through the house, heading back to his office, when he passed by Jack’s bedroom. The door was cracked, which was odd because Jack always shut it when he was inside, especially when Jack had friends over. Nearly nine months in Witness Protection and Jack still hadn’t forgiven him for making the decision without him to remove them from DC and the threat of Peter Lewis. Aaron had changed his name to Noah while Jack had stayed Jack, just making it easier on the boy. Nine months without contact to the only family that Jack had known. Jessica had chosen not to go into Witness Protection because of her father. Aaron paused outside the door and listened. Jack was inside with Gunter, the only friend that Jack had even attempted to make since arriving in Salem, Oregon.
“So you don’t have a mom?” Gunter asked.
“I had a mom. She died when I was little. I don’t have a lot of memories of her, but Papa used to help me remember her. He remembered all of the stories that Dad used to tell about her.” Jack sounded sad, and it wasn’t the kind of sad that he seemed on any given day, this was more than that. Aaron was worried.
“Why don’t you have any pictures of your Papa?” Gunter asked.
“Because when Papa died, Dad got rid of them all. I keep trying to draw his face so that I don’t forget but I can’t get his smile right.”
Aaron’s heart clenched. The backstory was that Noah and Jack had moved to Oregon after the death of a spouse, but Aaron hadn’t realized that Jack had been telling people that his Papa died. Aaron had made sure to never give a gender to the dead spouse. He was sure that it was in the cover that WitSec had created for them. He didn’t care.
“Show me. Maybe I can help.”
Aaron walked away before he could barge in and assist them as well. WitSec hadn’t allowed them to take anything with them. There were no pictures squirreled away, nothing. Only memories that in the middle of the night gripped Aaron hard. Thankfully the loss of a spouse exempted him from the ladies at the office trying to set him up on blind dates, or trying to hit on him it seemed. The thought of even trying to go on a date with someone that he would never be attracted to made Aaron sick. He missed Spencer so much. His body ached to feel the younger man just one time. There was little that Aaron could do about that. He had made his decision, and he needed to keep to it, to keep Jack. Spencer understood that. Spencer had let them go, it hadn’t been without a fight, but Aaron laid out the threat to Jack, Spencer had relented. Spencer had always understood that Jack came first. From the first date to when Aaron and Jack had walked away from him. Aaron had felt sorry because it was another family that left, but Spencer understood. Aaron wasn’t sure that Spencer would ever forgive him, but he understood. Aaron had left him behind to tell Peter Lewis that it wasn’t worth going after him because if Aaron had left him, that meant that Aaron didn’t love him.
It was early afternoon, and Aaron was happy that he got off early. He worked at a local corporation as a business lawyer. It hadn’t taken him long to brush up on law and then to work his way through what Aaron needed to know to do his job, but sometimes it was long hours. Jack was home from school just an hour when Aaron walked through the door. Aaron hoped that he would be in the living room working on homework or even in the study that was across from Aaron’s office, but he wasn’t. Aaron looked around for him inside of the house, but his son wasn’t there.
Worry set in his stomach like a stone before Aaron double checked the three bathrooms. When he entered the downstairs guest bathroom, Aaron saw a gauze pad on the floor. Aaron moved to the cabinet that had the first aid kit and found that the gauze inside was a lot lower than it should be. There was also the bottle of alcohol and the tube of bacitracin missing. Aaron frowned and left the kit sitting on the counter before he walked to the back door. There had been a wooden fort in the backyard when they moved in. Aaron had talked about getting rid of it, but Jack had wanted to keep it. He spent warm days out in it, away from his father. Aaron was silent as he crossed the lawn to it. Jack wasn’t in the upper section, but the sound of movement from the lower area had Aaron crouching.
Aaron hadn’t been in or around the wooden fort since Jack had claimed it, trying to give his son a place that was entirely his without Aaron desecrating it but looking inside, Aaron wished that he hadn’t done that. The fort had been made from white birch and so was very light in color, but yet the boards that made up the floor of the lower section were stained dark. Jack was sitting in the corner with a book in one hand, but he wasn’t looking at it. Jack’s eyes were closed but he wasn’t asleep, his breathing was too forced for that. In Jack’s other hand was a razor blade. Aaron could see trails of blood running down each of his inner thighs. The blood coated the floor and was the source of the dark staining. Aaron watched as Jack set the razor down before he wiped his bloodied hand before picking the book back up and starting to read. Aaron realized that the book was one of the ones that were on the shelf in the old apartment for Jack and Spencer to read together.
Leaving before Jack could see him, Aaron didn’t know what to do. His son was cutting. Jack was cutting. Jack was hurting himself. Aaron spent hours researching the best psychologist in the area, but in the end, he was scared to send Jack to one. He would have to wait until their contact with the Marshal service visited them. Figure out if there was a safe psychologist in the area for Jack to see. There had to be someone that Jack could talk to, truthfully talk to because there was no way that Aaron could handle it. Aaron had caused it.
Aaron went to bed that night and only passed out from exhaustion in the early hours of the morning, but his dreams were not letting him rest. He kept replaying the day that he found Haley head in their bedroom except Jack was beside her, the Jack that Aaron had seen cutting on himself, no his precious four-year-old boy who he had been trying to save by fleeing from Peter Lewis.
The dreams stayed with him for weeks, even after Jack had been put into therapy. Which wasn’t helping because Jack wasn’t stopping.
Aaron stepped into the apartment building, feeling like he was going back in time a lot longer than just a short year. Three months of therapy for Jack and nothing was helping. Jack wasn’t opening up to any of the three therapists that Aaron had taken him to see. Jack was perfect in school, pulling perfect grades but at home, he didn’t speak to Aaron, and he was either locked in his bedroom or out in the fort. Aaron had tried to get rid of everything sharp in the house, locking the knives in his gun locker but Jack just found something else to cut himself with. Aaron gave that up and just made sure that Jack had safe and clean things to cut himself, enough bandages, and everything he needed to keep himself safe. It hurt Aaron to know that Jack was doing it but he couldn’t risk that Jack would indeed hurt himself by being forced to hide it and being compelled to use whatever he could find.
“Agent Hotchner?” a voice asked, pulling Aaron around of his thoughts. He looked up to see Maria, Spencer’s next door neighbor. “Spencer said that you were gone.”
“Gone?” Aaron asked. Maria looked white as a sheet. Like she saw a ghost.
“Every time I asked for a while he said nothing, just went to a different topic and then I never saw Jack either, and when I finally pushed him, he said that you two were gone, never coming back. I thought he meant that you died. I tried to find the accident report, but I didn’t. I figured it had something to do with your job.”
“Something like that except no, Jack and I are alive.”
“Then why the hell have you let him rot in prison?” Maria asked, her eyes turning fierce.
“Prison?” Aaron looked at the door to Spencer’s apartment and then back at Maria. Prison? What the hell was Spencer doing in prison.
“He was framed for the murder of a woman while on a case, that’s what JJ told me when she came by to get him things.”
“What do you know?” Aaron asked.
“That’s all I know. It happened in Minnesota, but since he was on the job, his lawyer was able to get it moved to Federal Court, but he was denied bail.”
Aaron turned, and he didn’t even stop to think before he hailed a cab. He hadn’t expected to leave so soon, so he had told the cab that had dropped him off to leave. Jack was with Jessica and a Marshal. The service hadn’t been happy that Aaron was leaving their protection but just as the reasons for him to join it was protecting Jack, leaving it was to save Jack because Aaron wasn’t going to lose Jack to his own spiral just to save him from Peter Lewis. Jack’s health was more important, and when Jack had attempted suicide, Aaron had to make a decision.
The drive to the station to get him to Quantico was quick, but Aaron hadn’t wanted to walk to the nearest station. Instead, he’d had the cab driver take him to the closest station to the edge of the city, making the ride from there to Quantico shorter. Aaron’s thoughts were swirling as he was taken closer and closer to Quantico. He searched the Internet for anything and everything that he could find on the case.
Spencer had been charged with the death of a Sofia Carey in Minnesota. He had been found with heroin in his system and his blood on the murder weapon, a cut matching it on his hand. There was no reason why Spencer would have killed her though. She was eventually cleared of the crime that she had thought to have committed. The Federal Judge had deemed him a flight risk for unknown reasons and thrown him in prison.
Stepping out of the station in Quantico, Aaron debated how he was going to get inside of the base. He had nothing on him that named him as Aaron Hotchner, those documents were all locked up, and the Marshals hadn’t got them to him yet. Aaron had no weapon, nothing. Still, Aaron made his way to the entry point on the base that he had used what felt like a lifetime ago. Aaron sighed in relief when the two guards were ones that he knew. They would at least talk to him and not shove him out.
“Agent Hotchner?” the first guard, Stan called out. The second guard, Alan turned around as well and smiled at him before frowning.
“You are supposed to be gone, in Witness Protection if the rumors are right.”
“I’m here to talk to my former team.”
“Why?” Alan asked, his eye critical on Aaron’s body. Looking Aaron up and down for a threat.
“Because I want to know why the hell Doctor Reid is sitting in prison.”
“Agent Rossi hasn’t come in yet for the day. If you wait, I’m sure that he’ll sign you in. We will look the other way if he does and not check ID.”
“Good because I haven’t been given those back yet.”
“Aaron?” Dave called out. Aaron thought about the old saying about speak of the devil, and he shall appear.
“What the hell has happened to this team in the time that I have been gone?” Aaron demanded. He could be Hotch, the hardass who brokered no failure.
“Get in the car.” Dave didn’t look happy.
“Tell me everything.”
Aaron felt weird being in one of his old suits, he’d chosen this one because it was Spencer’s favorite on him. Aaron was sitting in the crowd, waiting for the court session to start. Prentiss’s lawyer was stupid. Aaron could see the bruises on Spencer’s face even from a distance. Aaron burned with righteous anger. Dave hadn’t driven him into the base and into the FBI building. No instead, Dave had driven him to a law office in Alexandria after texting to tell Prentiss that he was running a lead on Spencer’s case.
The law office was one of the older ones in the Virginia area, and Aaron had worked with some of the lawyers there. It was one of the best defense firms in the country. Before the end of the first meeting, Aaron was signing a contract to work for them, working on the Spencer Reid case, as a favor to Dave. What had followed a whirlwind of a debrief. Aaron had learned every single aspect of Spencer’s case from Dave and then found out about the side case that was being worked, in that the FBI had washed their hands of Spencer. They had pulled their support, and someone from inside the FBI had made sure that Spencer was in general population inside of the prison. Someone wanted Spencer dead, and that didn’t sit well with Aaron.
“I don’t understand why we are visiting the matter of bail for Mr. Reid again.” The judge did not look happy at all.
“I’m confused as well,” the district attorney said as he looked at Spencer’s lawyer. “This motion wasn’t filed by Miss Duncan but a…” the lawyer flipped through the motion and found Aaron’s name. “Aaron Hotchner.”
Aaron watched as Spencer sat up straighter in his seat, but he didn’t look around. Aaron looked away from Spencer to where the team was all sitting in the row behind Spencer, they did start to look around. JJ was the first to spot him in the back corner. Only a few seconds passed before everyone, but Dave was looking at him.
“Who is that?” Duncan asked.
“There is also a motion to sever the current council, also filed by Mr. Hotchner,” the judge said. She looked at Spencer, there was a frown on her face, a massive one that Aaron knew wouldn’t mean good things for Spencer but Aaron would make sure that what he wanted, he was going to get. “Mr. Reid, did you know about this?”
“Who is Aaron Hotchner?”
“My former boss.”
“Why does he want to take over as your council?”
“I am unsure, Ma’am. I wasn’t even aware that he was in the area.”
“Because the last I knew he was in Witness Protection.”
“The same man that I believe set me up for this murder charge.”
The judge’s eyes widened.
“This is highly irregular, Your Honor.”
“However, that motion is not needed,” Spencer said.
“Yes, that is true, Mr. Reid doesn’t need a change in council.” Duncan sounded smug.
“No, it’s nodded because I release you as my attorney.”
Duncan looked at Spencer in shock. She didn’t notice Aaron standing up at the back of the court and making his way forward. He tugged on his suit sleeve, making sure that he looked impeccable. Duncan didn’t leave willingly telling Spencer that she needed him. Aaron just waited until the officers removed her from the court before he sat down in the seat that she had been in. Spencer didn’t look at Aaron. He didn’t look at him at all. Aaron felt that deep in his heart, but still, he pulled the seventeen motions that he had wrote up and set them down on the table in front of him.
“Mr. Hotchner, do you need a few minutes to confer with your client?”
“No, Ma’am. My first motion to have my client released on his own recognizance.”
“Bail has been decided on.”
“Yes. Ma’am, however since this court decided that Doctor Reid should be denied bail, and placed in Protective Custody inside the prison to await trial, yet he was not placed in protective custody. Instead, he has been put with criminals, a few of which Doctor Reid put in jail, it’s showed that this court can’t protect him.”
“What?” The Judge waved her hand for the motion. Aaron stood up and moved forward to hand it over. Inside the motion was what Aaron’s new law firm could find on why Spencer was denied what the court had ordered to happen and what had been done to make sure that no red flags were raised.
“Your Honor, that may be, but Mr. Reid is still a flight risk,” the DA said.
“Doctor Reid is not a flight risk.”
“His only ties to the community are his mother, who has been placed back in Las Vegas. He has no other family.”
“Doctor Reid’s team is his family. He has two Godsons and-” Aaron cut himself off because he almost called Jack Spencer’s son. That didn’t need to be revealed until Aaron had got a chance to talk to Spencer.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I was speaking without thinking.”
The doors opened, and Aaron turned to look because it was rare for someone to enter, but his heart stopped when he saw Jessica and Jack.
“No minors,” The Judge called out.
“I’m sorry, Your Honor,” Spencer said. Aaron looked over at him and saw that Spencer was watching Jack. “They’ll leave.”
“Papa!” Jack cried out. Jessica wrapped his arm around Jack’s waist and started to pull him out.
“Son, who exactly are you calling out for?” the Judge asked.
“My Papa,” Jack said. There were tears on his face, and Aaron wanted him to leave to not have to face if Aaron’s motions didn’t get Spencer out of jail.
“Who is your papa?”
Jack pointed, and it was very clear that he was pointing at Spencer.
“Mr. Reid doesn’t have any children listed,” the DA called out.
“Papa was going to adopt me, and then I had to go away, and it never happened.”
“What is your name?”
Jack looked up at Jessica, and she nodded. “Jack Hotchner, Ma’am.”
“Chambers,” was the only thing that the judge said.
Aaron ached as he took in the sight in front of him. Spencer was sitting down in the armchair in Dave’s personal study in his house. The armchair was oversized, so it fit Spencer and Jack, in Spencer’s lap, perfectly. The two had their heads pressed together, and they were talking. Spencer still hadn’t said a word to Aaron at all, even in the Judge’s chambers where everything was laid out for her. Why Aaron and Jack had gone into custody and why Spencer hadn’t been taken if the relationship was that strong. By the time they left the chamber an hour later, Spencer was freed on his own recognizance.
“It’s going to take time. Reid’s been in jail for three months, Aaron. I think that Jack, Henry, and Michael are going to be the balm to his soul. Now, you’ve danced around telling me why you left WitSec. Tell me now.”
“No. Cutting himself. He’s been doing it for months, and I sought mental help for him, but it kept on. I took everything sharp out of the house, but he just kept getting other things. I was afraid of him doing something stupid and getting himself sick. He never opened up to anyone, and the last therapist had access to our entire file. She suggested that if for Jack’s mental health, maybe coming back was a good idea. I’ve already seen him smile more in the past hour with Spencer than he has in the entirety of our year away. No matter what happens, I made the right choice.”
“I’m glad you think so because the AD of the FBI is here to talk to you and Spencer and what he has to say isn’t good.”
“What do you mean?”
“Peter Lewis has a contact inside of the FBI, and he’s been using her. She framed Reid for the murder of that suspect because he was in her way of getting to you. Lewis is using her for information and hoping that framing him would bring you out. He wasn’t prepared for you to take this long and she went off the rails and killed him.”
“Lewis is dead?” Aaron asked.
“Fitting end I say. Agent Bloom documented it all it seems but everything is being checked over.”
“And we are finding out about this now?” Aaron wanted to know why Spencer had gone to jail for this. Why the FBI had even allowed that to happen.
“It seems that this was used as a way to try and ruin Reid.”
“So this goes higher than Bloom?”
“Yes, how far I don’t know and I don’t know if the people above Bloom knew about Lewis or not.”
Aaron nodded. “Let him have a few more moments with Jack before we sic him on the AD.”
The discussion that followed broke Aaron’s, heart. Spencer had been put into prison to hopefully have him do something that would actually get him fired from the FBI when it was found out that he was innocent of murder. His entire career washed away because there were those that were afraid of what would happen when he rose higher and higher. Every single word that the AD laid out broke Spencer more and more. The retirement package that the AD offered Spencer was better than the one that Aaron received. Of course, the higher-ups at the FBI hadn’t tried to ruin Aaron’s life. Spencer accepted and signed the paperwork before he left the room.
“I have ruined many friendships that I have cultivated over this,” the AD said.
“You don’t sound upset over it.”
“The Director wasn’t happy when a few others tried to use the meetings that Spencer goes to as a reason for his dismissal. Especially after I pointed out to the Director that he started to go to meetings after being dosed on the job by an UnSub. My long time of going to the Beltway Clean Cops has been known to the Director, and I made him aware that I took Spencer under my wing when he started to go after being subjected to Dilaudid while on the job.”
“You…” Aaron looked at the AD and realized that he was Spencer’s sponsor. He was the person who Spencer saw when he needed help. Aaron realized that the AD had known about Spencer’s relationship with Aaron and had kept it a secret.
“I also fought it when Witness Protection wouldn’t allow you to take your partner. I told them that Lewis would just go after him. I had eyes on him here, but I wish I would have found a way to make sure that he had eyes on him during cases. I’ve worked tirelessly for three months to uncover all of this. The FBI is going to be going through a lot of changes.” The AD looked at the door that Spencer had gone though. “He would have done well inside the FBI in the years to come. He would have been my pick to take over the BAU when Prentiss left. We lost a good person.”
“I know.” Aaron stood up and moved to the door. He needed to talk to Spencer. There was a lot to say.
Healing took time, Aaron knew that and Spencer wasn’t just healing from having Jack and Aaron taken away from him. He was healing from losing faith in the FBI. He was recovering from his time in prison. Aaron kept his job at the law firm, willing to take cases that had nothing to do with defending criminals, which there were a lot of them for Aaron to take. Jack was enrolled in the same school he had been in. Aaron had been offered his place inside the FBI again, but he hadn’t wanted it. Aaron wouldn’t do that to Spencer. He wouldn’t make Spencer watch him leave on cases.
Spencer slept in the guest room, and Aaron was just thankful that he was willing to live with him and Jack. Spencer went every two weekends to Las Vegas to see his mother, while she still remembered him. Aaron hated the days that he was gone from them. Jack wasn’t entirely healed. He dreamed that Spencer did die on a regular enough basis that all three of them were in counseling. The FBI paid for Spencer’s as part of his retirement package. The FBI also was going to pay for Diana’s treatments as long as she was alive because of what had happened to Spencer. If Spencer had sued the FBI, he could have got a lot more, but it was worth it for the less stress of it all.
The house they lived in had been bought with some money from the both of them. Spencer hadn’t cared about what was purchased as long as it had a room that he could turn into a study/library. Aaron kind of hated that place. It’s where Spencer spent most of his time. Aaron worked some in his office but most of his time at home was spent with Jack and Spencer when Jack could convince him to come and watch a movie with him.
“Aaron?” Spencer called out as he entered Aaron’s office at the house. Aaron looked up to see him dressed in a soft pair of pajamas and a t-shirt. Aaron glanced at the clock on the wall to see that it was past ten. He hadn’t meant to work for so long.
“Yes, Spencer?” Aaron scooted back from the desk some as Spencer walked closer. Aaron watched him as he fought with himself about something. His eyes danced between Aaron and the chair in front of his desk. It was set so that Jack could sit in there and work on homework some nights. Decision made, Spencer moved around the desk. Aaron turned to face him as he stopped just in front of him. Aaron itched to reach out and touch him. He ached for it, but Spencer had flinched away from all of those touches since Aaron had come back into his life.
Spencer reached out his hands, and Aaron reached out as well. Spencer grabbed Aaron’s wrists but not to stop him. Spencer laid Aaron’s hands on his hips. Aaron couldn’t help himself as his fingers curled into flesh and held on tight. Aaron didn’t want to let go.
“Come to bed, Aaron.” Spencer reached out and pulled Aaron’s face up. Tilting it up so he could kiss it. He placed a kiss on Aaron’s forehead before he pressed kisses to Aaron’s eyes. “I miss sleeping in the same bed with you and tomorrow I have called you off of work already. I talked to your secretary, and she said that you are not in court tomorrow. So we are going to spend the day together once we drop Jack off at school.”
“Okay.” Aaron stood up and pulled Spencer close with his hands before letting going and wrapping them around Spencer’s shoulders. Spencer buried his face in Aaron’s neck, inhaling deep and sighing before he relaxed into him.
Healing took time and Aaron had all of the time in the world to make sure that Spencer healed.