Don’t Talk of Stars Burning Above Arc 1

Title: Don’t Talk of Stars Burning Above
Ratings: Explicit
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Category: M/M
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Spencer Reid/OFC, One Sided Aaron Hotchner/Emily Prentiss, Aaron Hotchner/OMC, Jessica Brooks/OMC, Past Aaron Hotchner/Haley Hotchner
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner, Jessica Brooks
Tags: Canon-Typical Violence, Discussion of Rape, Past Child Abuse, Violence Against Animals, Slow Burn, Alternate Universe, Soulmates
Summary: Aaron Hotchner is just trying to do his best. Trying to do his best for his son, for his team, and for the victims that he helps. After Haley dies in WitSec, Jack comes back to him a broken boy. Jack’s not said a word since his mother died. Dave introduces him to a fellow FBI Agent, an analyst, who is mute, who Jack bonds with instantly. What follows is a whirlwind of trials and tribulations as Dave makes sure that there is only a single agent is put forth when one of the team leaves. Doctor Spencer Reid: FBI Agent, Genius, Tech Guru, Play Enthusiast, and Mute.
Words: 170,329
Year: Season 5 (2009-2010)
Spoilers: Up Through Season 6
Notes: “Speech from Spencer’s TabletSpencer’s Texts Aaron’s Texts Texts from Anyone Else
Beta: rivermoon1970
Gift For: NimueOfTheNorth

Chapter 1-May 2009

Aaron Hotchner hadn’t questioned his lack of a soulmate mark on his body in years. He hadn’t thought about it at all since meeting and falling in love with Haley. Haley Brooks whose soulmate had died when she was young, who had never met her soulmate, who hadn’t cared that Aaron didn’t have the mark. To her, that meant that Aaron was made to be hers, even if the fates hadn’t given them to each other. Haley had never felt that Aaron was anyone else’s. It was probably why she thought that she could get away with what she had before the inevitable divorce. Aaron had given Haley everything that she wanted, and thankfully she hadn’t tried to keep Jack from him. The divorce had still been bitter, and one meeting between the two of them and their lawyers ended with her telling him that she knew why he didn’t have a soulmate mark on his arm. Because he was never going to be in love with anything that wasn’t the BAU and that since the BAU was a thing, its words to him that made him fall in love would never be uttered.

That thought kept going through Aaron’s mind as he tried to make sense of everything that was going on in his life at the moment. Haley and Jack were being whisked off to Witness Protection to protect them from the serial killer George Foyet, better known as The Boston Reaper. Aaron was in the hospital after said serial killer had attacked him inside of his own apartment and stabbed him nine times before dropping him off outside of an ER. Aaron’s team was distraught because they had not been able to get a hold of him and it took hours before it had been discovered that he had been attacked, longer still to find him. Aaron hated that he had been the cause of discord among the team, part of them wanting to find him and the other part wanting to work the case that they had been given.

A case that Aaron never would have let them take. The case in Canada had taken up too many reserves physically and had way too much of an emotional impact which meant that the team needed a break of at least a day. The team had no reason to be the one to take that case. It didn’t matter what reasons that Strauss had for making them take it, Aaron would have said no and taken it above her head. Mistakes were made on the case, and not all of it had to do with their split focus on finding Aaron. Dean Brannon had been left alone with the subject of a serial murderer, in the end, the subject had lost his life, and Brannon had to watch the UnSub take out the victim before Brannon could shoot him. Aaron had forced Dave to give him the reports that had been typed up in the day and a half since the end of the case. Aaron had no idea when he was getting out of the hospital; the doctors were worried about reopening the wounds on the inside, so he was being kept under close watch. The doctors who had found him reading over the reports had frowned, but Aaron had won with a glare and an explanation that he wasn’t going to do anything but read and did it really matter if he was reading a book or a report, both were going to put him to sleep.

It had taken seven times of falling asleep just to wake up again before Aaron had been able to read all of them. Aaron knew that part of why he was being kept was that the doctor was sure that he would do something stupid if he were allowed out. Dave was sure to have a hand in that and Aaron knew that Dave was right and he would. Right now, Dave had access to everything that was given to Aaron, and so he knew what the man would be doing. However, Aaron had talked a nurse out of a notebook and a pen so that he could work on Foyet’s profile and try to catch the fucking son of a bitch.


Aaron heard the nurse moving around in the room. It was time for a check on his pain medicine and his vitals before breakfast. Aaron tried to ignore that she was even in there. He tried to ignore that he wasn’t alone and couldn’t lock his hospital room. The ward was under lockdown because of him being in there. A private ICU ward that Dave had said was a bitch for even him to get into and the rest of the team had been barred. Once it was figured out that Foyet wasn’t going to be caught quickly or easily, the Director of the FBI had made sure that Aaron was protected. It wasn’t something that Aaron was thankful for. He would rather have it out in a shoot-out with Foyet while in the hospital than to go home and wait for him to show up again.

“Agent Hotchner, you didn’t fill out your food card. Do you want the same thing as yesterday?”

Aaron kept his opinion to himself because it was the same question every single day from the nurse. He had filled out his food card the first two days that he was there and nothing on it had been correct, so he had given up. At least then, he could blame it on the nurse.

“Yes, oatmeal with milk and brown sugar, orange juice with a cup of coffee, no creamer or sugar, please.” The nurse left the room without saying a thing to Aaron. Aaron didn’t reach for the button that would turn on the light. The nurse would do that when she brought his food. He wasn’t fussy about his lunch and dinner; he could stomach whatever they gave him, used to grabbing food and not being able to eat it when it was warm or even slightly cold while on cases.

The silence of the room was deafening to Aaron. He liked the time to think, but today the thoughts just weren’t coming. It was a week in the hospital and the only bright spot in his day was the physical therapy. He was pushed out of his bed and made to walk around the ward while a physical therapist that made Morgan look small made sure that he didn’t fall. Each day he got a little farther before he would have to rest. Aaron had never balked at doing what was needed to get himself back in the field, not since his stupidity with the explosion and what it had almost cost him by going back into the field excessively early.

Aaron turned on the light, needing it before the nurse brought his meal it seemed, and grabbed the notebook that he had halfway full of things about Foyet and the Foyet case files that he remembered in bits and pieces. There was a section at the back that Aaron was using to write up his thoughts on the case that the team had worked. Both about the fact that they had the case and the reality of what his team had done without him at the helm. Aaron wasn’t as upset with the team as he would have been if they had sacrificed more than a single team member to find him. Prentiss had done well at keeping the rest of the team’s mind off him so that they could work the case, but it could have been handed off to another team from any other unit, and he might have been found earlier. There was also a page on the fact that a forty-four magnum had gone off in the middle of the night inside of his apartment and no one had called the cops. That was something to discuss with the building owners. His notes were down though so that he wouldn’t forget a thing.

The page opened up to the one that Aaron had been messing with on and off. Aaron had been writing down things to add to a dating profile online. Dave had been talking about it, but Aaron had been ignoring him. Sitting in the hospital room though with only Dave as company had changed Aaron’s mind. Not that he would have allowed whoever he was seeing to come and visit him, not with Foyet possibly there watching but the thought that there was someone out there missing him did have its perks.

Aaron looked at his arm, where he felt there should be a mark, where he had kept wishing for a mark to appear. There was nothing. After sixteen years old, Aaron had stopped hoping that a mark would appear. He didn’t want someone who was so much younger than him. Nothing had ever appeared on his arm so that only meant the person meant for him was dead before Aaron had even been born. Aaron didn’t know which was harder, knowing that his soulmate was dead or never knowing if he even had one. The population of the world was split in half, but the Hotchner’s had always had a soul mark, it was a matter of pride for Aaron’s father. Sean had one, so he was the favored son. Of course, Sean wasn’t interested in finding his soulmate. He hadn’t cared about finding whoever it was before their father had died, but he had gone to every event that their father had forced them to go to. Aaron had never gone to one, even with Sean and at the time Aaron had been thankful.

Soulmate meeting events were nothing more than veritable meat markets for underage kids. The surge of the parties had been huge when Aaron had been a kid even though it had a success rate of less than five percent across the nation the parties still happened. If the marks were the first words said between a mated pair, it would be different, but instead, it was the words said that made the other fall in love, which wasn’t always said at the same time.

One of the kitchen staff entered with the tray of Aaron’s breakfast, he smiled at her and looked at his food. He saw that there was an extra cup of coffee on the tray. The lady smiled at him and nodded down towards the plate that held two cut slices of wheat toast with two packets of apple butter.

“I’ve already put in your breakfast order for the week, Agent Hotchner. I heard you talking to one of your coworkers the other day. Don’t worry about getting a messed up order.”

“Thank you.” Aaron smiled at the lady, looking at her badge to see that it was flipped around. Aaron’s eyes narrowed, and the lady frowned before following his gaze. The lady smiled and flipped her badge around.

“They flip so much. I never know which way it’s facing. Linda Turner, Sir. My brother works out of the DC office as a field agent. You need anything for breakfast, just ask for a note to be given to Linda. I’m the only one that works morning shift.”

“Thank you.”

Linda left the room before Aaron could say anything else. Aaron picked up the first cup of coffee and drank it down. He hadn’t been allowed it before now, having to settle for weak tea to combat the caffeine headaches he got. Aaron set the empty cup down before he started to smear the apple butter on his toast then added the brown sugar to his oatmeal. Once that was mixed to his liking he poured a little milk from the cup in and drank what was left. The orange juice was weak compared to what Aaron usually liked. He could live on it though because it helped with the aftertaste of the paste that was the oatmeal.

Breakfast was eaten as fast as Aaron could eat it. His second cup of coffee was savored as he relaxed in the bed before it was time for therapy. With a better breakfast for at least as long as Linda was working, Aaron had more than just therapy to look forward to. He at least had a meal that was going to give him the energy to do anything.

Aaron flipped to the back cover of the book and traced the barely there dips on the cardboard. He’d wrote the words and then pulled the paper out and on one of his assisted trips to the bathroom he had flushed the paper.

DON’T WANT TO LEAVE had been scribbled in Aaron’s perfect handwriting across the page several times. Aaron felt ashamed at the feeling that the words gave him, but at the moment he didn’t want to leave the hospital, not until he was sure that he was going to be able to defend himself. He felt safe in the hospital, and he wasn’t going to do a damned thing that would stop himself from healing enough to where he could protect himself.

In the back of the notebook, between the last two pages was a slip of paper that Aaron had read when he’d gone over his entire medical chart. Given how covered in blood he was and how he was dumped outside the hospital and his clothes had barely been on him, a rape kit had been done. There had been no evidence of penetration, but there had been evidence of semen on Aaron’s pants, not his own. It had been rushed to the FBI as soon as it had been figured out that he was an agent and it was being run against the DNA they had of Foyet. Aaron never would have known if the kit hadn’t been done. It was just another aspect of the profile that had been proven right, the act of stabbing someone got Foyet off.

The fear of rape was something that Aaron had never worried about too much, not for himself. It was a fear that he had for JJ, Prentiss, Elle, and Garcia, the few times that the perky woman joined them in the field. There was little fear of it for the men on the team because when they had a rapist whose target was men, it was never men of their type. Gideon and Dave were either too old, Morgan too strong, or even Brannon was too hard to be able to take, even in an unfair fight.

“Agent Hotchner, are you ready?” Carlos, his therapist of the day, asked as he stepped into Aaron’s room.

“I am.”


Spencer Reid sighed as he finally logged out of his computer. What was supposed to be a two-hour information dig for a case had turned into a nightmare as soon as it was realized that it would take more than two hours and someone above Spencer’s computer skills to hack. Once the hack was in, Spencer had been able to print out all of the information that he needed to go over. It had been pushing it to the wire of the start of the operation, but that was also why Spencer was leaving the office for the first time in three days. Changes of clothes in a go-bag was a rare off that Spencer only kept around for when a case took him away from DC, but it was rare that he had to use the clothes inside of the office.

“Doc, you leaving us finally?” Martin shouted from the end of the hall. Spencer turned around to face him. Martin didn’t usually shout so Spencer figured that he was afraid of Spencer being too lost in his head to hear him if had spoken normally.

“Yes, finally,” Spencer signed as he moved towards the man. Martin had been in the unit long before Spencer and like him was good enough at a computer to do low-level work but never wanted to be one of the analysts that broke into things for the FBI. Martin and Spencer shared a love of paper trails and had become friends just weeks after Spencer had got there. Martin had never treated Spencer different for his inability to speak and the one thing that Martin understood more than anyone else in the Unit was that Spencer didn’t need to be set up on dates. The rest of the Unit in the current incarnation was full of women who thought that Spencer needed to be with someone to be happy. Spencer had never disclosed his status as a soul marked to anyone outside of the HR personnel who had processed his paperwork and whoever had seen said paperwork to hire him into the unit that he was in. Spencer had never asked, and no one had ever offered. Spencer’s mark was across his upper arm, in the fine cramped print of Spencer’s own handwriting. The phrase had been forever burned into his brain from the moment he had been able to understand what it said, having an eidetic memory made it impossible to forget.

“Good you need to get some sleep. Take tomorrow off so that we don’t get yelled at for keeping you here as a slave.”

Spencer smiled at Martin and nodded. Martin had learned enough sign language over the years to where Spencer didn’t need to use his speech program on his tablet to talk, but still, sometimes, Spencer didn’t feel the need to use it. He and Martin understood each other perfectly. Spencer had heard from two others in emails for him to take the next day as well, especially since it was already after nine in the morning. So just having that day off wasn’t going to be much once Spencer actually got home. He needed food, and thankfully he had stocked up before his three-day stint at work.

Martin waved when Spencer turned to face the doors of the elevator that would take him down to where his car was parked. Spencer smiled at one of the agents as he got on a floor down. Spencer didn’t know him off hand, but the Hoover Building was a web of activity, and there were a lot of agents that just stopped by for things. The man looked really upset though. Spencer reached into his bag and grabbed a book. It wasn’t a long trip, but he had learned that people were less likely to talk to him if he was busy in a book. Spencer was saved when the man answered his phone on the first ring.

“No, Baby Girl, the grilling is all done. I don’t know what it’s about. It’s more in-depth than any meeting that I have ever had with the brass, and I’ve never done one in DC and not at Quantico. No, Hotch wasn’t there.”

Spencer stopped reading but kept his eyes on his book. Hotch. He knew that name. Agent Aaron Hotchner and Unit Chief of the A-Team of the BAU. He had worked with Jason Gideon and now David Rossi. Spencer went over the team members in his head and came onto Derek Morgan who had to be the man in the elevator with him. It wasn’t just the fact that the man with him was black and Morgan was, it was also the accent, Chicago. The only other man on the team was Dean Brannon, and Brannon was from Texas with the accent to go with it. This man’s accent was not Texan.

“I don’t know when he is coming back. It will probably be weeks though. He was hurt pretty bad.”

The whole of the FBI in the DC area and probably for several states had heard about the attack that had left an agent injured by a killer. There were whispers of exactly who it was, but Spencer hadn’t given credence to any of them until now. It had been Agent Hotchner. Spencer was grateful when the doors opened, and Morgan stepped out first. Spencer made a beeline for his exit and didn’t look back at the other agent. Spencer filed the information away in a vault that would never be used unless something big came up. He didn’t like gossip, even though a great many of the agents that worked around Spencer forgot that he wasn’t deaf, just mute. Spencer knew more about his co-workers than they probably wanted him to know. He kept it all to himself.

Spencer thought about what he was going to do after taking about a three-hour nap. If he slept more than that he wouldn’t sleep at night, but he needed something to get him through the day. He needed to eat and then sleep. Driving home was mainly done by rote, Spencer only having to pay attention to the light traffic. It was after rush hour and traffic was light.. Pulling into his parking spot, Spencer sighed. He could already feel the exhaustion setting in. There was no one around in the underground parking for the building, so Spencer allowed himself a minute of just closing his eyes and relaxing back into his seat.

Knowing that he would fall asleep, Spencer forced himself up and out of the car after a few minutes. He looked at the stairs and then the elevator, deciding that the elevator would be easier than the stairs that he normally took. Spencer settled into the car and into the corner after pressing the button for his floor. Spencer watched as the numbers grew and grew, thankful for the fact that no one was getting on. When the doors opened, Spencer sighed and pushed himself up from the wall. Keys were still in his hand, and he unlocked the deadbolt before the main lock. The alarm softly chirped at him, and Spencer put in his code to turn it off. The door was shut and then the deadbolt was thrown into place. He looked at the alarm before he rearmed it as well. He knew he would sleep better with it on.

Spencer checked the answering machine and found a message from the financial office at Bennington to tell him that his check for books for the month for his mom had cleared. She had already picked her books that she wanted to buy, as well as the a new set of journals that she kept. If it was something important, usually Doctor Norman called him at the office, and they could talk over a secure video connection. So Spencer erased the message, glad that his mom was happy about her books. Next Spencer turned on his CD player to add some background noise to his apartment. It was soft jazz, and Spencer found himself closing his eyes and just listening for a few minutes. When he felt himself start to fall asleep on his feet, he forced his eyes open so that he could go to his bedroom and change. He had showered in the middle of the night at the office to help refresh himself.

In a warm pair of sleep pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt, Spencer settled onto his couch with a premade sandwich from his fridge. He had grabbed it on the day he had shopped and never got around to eating it before being called into work. Spencer was glad that he had picked off the lettuce the day that he had bought it, the bread was just to the edge of almost too soggy, but Spencer was hungry and didn’t have the energy to even make one for himself even though he had the meat and cheese. Curiosity chirped and came running from wherever he had been sunning himself, settling onto Spencer’s lap. The heavyweight of his just out of kittenhood Maine Coon cat was welcome after several long days at work. Spencer had made a food dispenser that fed him on a regular schedule and a water dish that kept the water full while he was gone, it was connected to the spot where a sprayer would go on the sink.

Spencer was chewing his last bit of sandwich when there was a knock on his door. Spencer frowned and looked at the time, Curiosity jumped off of his lap and ran back towards the bedroom. His cat was nearly as antisocial as he was but unlike Spencer, he could hide under the bed when people visited. It wasn’t too early, but he hoped it wasn’t Mrs. Barnaby from two floors up wanting to drop off cookies for him because it was always an hour of talking when she did. Spencer dusted the crumbs off of his shirt as he stood up. He checked his mouth in the mirror on the way to the door. Spencer looked through the peephole and saw that it was a man, a man that Spencer couldn’t make out. A quick press of the button that would allow him to open the door for two minutes before the alarm sent out an alert and Spencer was opening the door.

David Rossi was standing on the other side of his door. Spencer frowned but waved the man inside. Rossi smiled at him before he nodded his thanks and entered the apartment. Spencer shut the door and checked the alarm, still active and ready. Spencer grabbed his tablet from his messenger bag, checking the battery as he did. It was charged enough for a conversation.

Hello, Agent Rossi.” Spencer had the tablet say to Rossi. Rossi’s eyes widened in shock, not at the fact that Spencer hadn’t said it but that the tablet had and in such good clear diction. “I have a friend who created this application for me.

“A good friend that is.” Rossi’s smile widened, and from his inner pocket of his jacket, Spencer saw that he had pen and paper. “I figured that you would have the means to talk, but I wasn’t sure that even knowing who I am if you would actually allow me into your home. I have met some deaf witnesses who didn’t allow even cops into their homes. Is now a good time? I can come back later.”

Now is as good of a time as any,” Spencer admitted. The fatigue was gone from having one of the idols within the FBI there in his apartment. Spencer waved him in towards the living room area. “Would you like something to drink?

“I would like a glass of water or bottle, whichever you have.”

Please have a seat, and I’ll get it for you.” Spencer set down his tablet beside his chair that he liked to read in and moved towards the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle of water for Rossi and grabbed a glass of juice for himself. Spencer took a breath as he tried to settle down. He didn’t need to make an idiot of himself like he had with a few other agents. Gideon had introduced him to Max Ryan once after the BAU had captured the Keystone Killer, and it hadn’t gone well at all. Spencer took a sip of his juice before moving out into the living room again. Rossi was looking around the room, silently profiling him, Spencer bet. It was okay. Spencer knew that it was hard for them to turn it off. Spencer had been given a chance to join the BAU straight out of the Academy, but given his disability, Spencer didn’t want to go into the Unit that way, even if it had made Gideon very upset that Spencer didn’t do what he wanted.

“Thank you,” Rossi said as he leaned up to grab the bottle from Spencer. He set it down on the coffee table in front of him, on the coaster, telling Spencer that whatever he was there for, he wanted to make a good impression.

You are welcome, Agent Rossi. What can I do for you?” Spencer sat down in his chair, taking a sip of the juice before setting it down and leaning back in his chair. He crossed his left leg over his right and tried to settle down and now show his curiosity.

“I don’t know what gossip you have heard here in DC about what happened with the BAU over the past few days, but I’m going to assume nothing.”

Spencer nodded. He wasn’t sure exactly what Rossi wanted, so it was better to go with that he had heard nothing than for an important part to be left off with Rossi thinking that Spencer had heard it when he hadn’t.

“Our team was called in when a former Army man crashed his car into the guard shack at the border close to Detroit. We were called in because he admitted to killing several people. The case took us all over Detroit before we figured out that the Army man hadn’t killed anyone and had, in fact, did it all to get the FBI there to investigate who had actually done it. We followed the trail to a farm in Canada. The investigation found eighty-nine pairs of shoes.”

Just shoes? What kind of farm was it?” Spencer was more intrigued than he knew he should be. It was tipping his hand on that front. The look in Rossi’s eyes told Spencer that he knew that he had him on the hook.

“Pig farm.”

Omnivores. They eat everything.

“Yes. My entire team was worn out by the time it was all said and done. Mentally, emotionally, we were all just done. So we came home and got no rest before our Section Chief pulled us into another case.” Rossi grabbed the bottle of water and sighed before taking a large drink of it. “It was a normal case that we really didn’t need to be pulled into, but we can’t refuse an order. When Agent Hotchner didn’t respond, we assumed that his phone died or he was sleeping too deeply. It wasn’t until the morning passed that one of the members of the team went to his apartment. It was found empty, a gunshot hole in the wall and blood on the floor. Hotch was found in a hospital where he had been dropped off. He had been stabbed nine times and dumped outside of the ER. There was no evidence of who did it except for the picture found in Hotch’s wallet, threatening his wife and child. After the case that the team was working on was finally closed, the team descended on Hotch, getting his family into protection. The problem is that the man who attacked Hotch escaped, again.”

Again?” Spencer asked.

“George Foyet.”

Spencer gasped. He knew that name. Foyet was on the top ten list for most wanted by the FBI non-terrorist list. There wasn’t an agent that didn’t know about him inside of the whole of the FBI.

“The better details are all in the files that I have given you access to.”

Me?” Spencer asked.

“This team is too damned close to it all. I went to the Deputy Assistant Director above our Section Chief, and he said he would ask around about someone to help outside of the BAU.”

Why outside of the BAU?” Spencer asked.

“George Foyet has beaten the BAU three times now. We take all of our profile off of what was compiled over a decade ago by Hotch. It was fresh eyes that linked Foyet and his attraction to younger women to the reason why the Reaper wasn’t caught. We never looked at Foyet because of his injuries even though he was the only one to survive.”

What can I do?

“I want you to be the new set of eyes in this case. I want you to go over it. Whenever you have the chance. It’s not to be put above the rest of your work, but your boss said that you had a good eye and a mind for having multiple things going at once. I also broke down and called an old friend of ours.”

Gideon has not talked to me since the day that he mailed me a letter when he left his gun and badge for you to find after calling you and hanging up on you. He detailed it all in his letter.

“Yes, he didn’t talk to me long, but once I brought up Foyet with him and how Foyet was going after Hotch, he offered everything that he could on the profile, but he agreed that for his own health it would be good for him to not give too much. Before I could even ask about you and if he thought that you could handle it, he brought up you. Said that your eye would be good in helping and that it might be a good shoe in for you in the BAU. I read through your file, why you turned down Gideon on the fast track into the BAU. I’ve read through your yearly evaluations, the psych reports that are attached. You are courted by many units inside of the BAU. You didn’t put in your name when Greenaway left, or when Gideon left. Do you not want into the BAU?”

Spencer held up a finger asking Rossi for time. There was a short answer, and a long answer to that question and Spencer didn’t know which one he wanted to give to Rossi. The BAU didn’t court or steal people like a lot of the other sections inside of the FBI did. The way that Gideon had put it that the BAU didn’t have time to hunt people down to fill positions. They looked at those that applied.

When Agent Greenaway and Gideon left, I had not put in the time needed to be considered as an agent just on my career alone. My IQ, abilities, and what Gideon cultivated in me are good yes but I don’t want to get in just on that.

“What if I made you a deal?”

Deal?” Spencer asked. Deals were all well and good but deals were broken all of the time and there was nothing that would hold Rossi to his deal once he got what he wanted. However, Rossi was a good man and Spencer trusted that in him.

“Yes. You help me find Foyet, and I’ll make sure that it’s why you get put into the BAU the next time that an opening happens.”

Why me?” Spencer wanted to know that before he agreed to anything at all.

“Because I agree with Gideon that your brain could help a lot of people. Show me that you deserve to be in the BAU by finding this monster and I’ll make sure that more people are helped by getting you into where you can do the most good.”

Spencer stared at Rossi. He could see how desperate the older man was. It was in every single line of his body. The attack on Agent Hotchner had rocked the team horribly, and it had shaken Rossi to his core. He didn’t want to show it though. He didn’t want to show that he was scared about what the attack on Agent Hotchner could mean.

I’ll help you for no other reason than I want George Foyet caught as well. He’s attacked several agents now and killed many. He’s threatened an innocent woman and child. The future can be discussed in the future. You said that I had access.

“I was told that you had a work laptop that you used on occasion for cases where you need to not be in the office. You’ll find the files under your access there.”

I do have the laptop here just in case I was needed to log in and do anything on the case that I just finished up on.

“Good. I’ll take my leave of you and let you get some rest. You look like you need it.”

Who do I report to for this? Do I go to my boss and he’ll forward it all to you, or do I give it to you? Your Section Chief? Agent Hotchner?

“For right now, I am the acting Unit Chief for the team. Even once Agent Hotchner is back from medical leave, I still want you to go to me with all of this. Our Section Chief is not aware of this, and the only reason I am telling you this is so that you don’t worry, but I don’t know what kind of sanctions our Section Chief is going to see in the time to come. She broke the BAU’s SOP to send us on that second case so close to the first and it was done without clearance of those who should have been the ones to make that decision if the situation was dire enough, and it really wasn’t that dire that a lower ranked team couldn’t have taken it.”

“I see. Thank you, Agent Rossi, for telling me. I won’t tell anyone.”

“I know you won’t, Agent Reid. That much I got from your boss.” Rossi stood up from his seat on the couch and handed over a card. Rossi’s work number and personal cell were on it. Spencer glanced at the card but didn’t take it. Rossi chuckled and slipped the card back into his pocket. Spencer stood up from his seat and walked towards the door. He cleared the alarm from going off at all. When Rossi got near the door, he stuck his hand out for a handshake.

I’m sorry, Agent Rossi. I don’t shake hands.

“Germaphobe?”

No. I communicate by hands when I am out and about and through all of my childhood. My hands are the most important part of my body. I learned to protect them from a young age from bullies, and it has progressed to the point where I don’t shake hands at all.” Spencer wasn’t going to apologize for that. His hands were his only means of communication that was unfailing, unlike technology.

“I understand. Keep me up to date with texts. I don’t like to talk on the phone much, so texts are going to be easier for us both. I don’t need daily updates just anything as you find it will be fine.”

Spencer nodded and smiled. Rossi opened the door and stepped out, not looking back as he shut it. Spencer locked the door and reset the alarm a little shocked that Rossi had just left like he did. Spencer grabbed his work laptop from the case beside the door and moved back to his chair to start looking at the files. He could look at them for a few hours before he bunked down for the day. Curiosity slinked out of the bedroom at some point, becoming a brand of heat along Spencer’s leg.

The room was dark when Spencer pulled his head out of the files that he had printed out. The entirety of the Foyet file was spread all over Spencer’s living room floor. There was a knock on Spencer’s door, a very familiar knock from the delivery boy from his favorite take-out Chinese restaurant. Spencer frowned and picked up his phone checking over his texts. He had not texted his order into the woman who ran it. Spencer checked the peephole and found that it was the typical kid and he opened the door after turning off the alarm. Curiosity was sitting on the back of the couch. Spencer laughed to himself about the fact that the cat knew from the knock who it was.

“Doctor S, hey man. So this weird guy came in and ordered your normal for you to be delivered right now. Said that his name was Rossi and that he figured that you would be working most of the day and this was a thanks from him,” Kyle said as soon as he saw Spencer. He looked nervous, and Spencer gave him a smile. Spencer reached for the tablet but found that it wasn’t right by the door. He frowned and looked around for it. Seeing it where he had left it after doing some research on it. Spencer grabbed it and nearly ran back to the door.

Yes, Kyle. I am doing a favor for him for the Agency. It’s okay.

“Good cause he has set up a service that he’ll call when he wants another delivered for you. Mama J wanted to check with you that it was all right before she took the next order from him. She said he was a sweet talker and very suave. Mama J thought that he might have been trying to pull a fast one on her and using her to either seduce you or to stalk you.”

Tell Mama J that Agent Rossi is highly venerated within the FBI and is a good agent. I am just doing him a big favor, and he tends to spend money on those that do favors for him. Rossi is not trying to seduce me. He’s old enough to be my father. Thanks though for caring.” Spencer dug into his pocket for a tip for Kyle.

“Don’t worry about tip, Doctor S. Your friend Rossi left a good tip for me when he ordered the food. I’ll tell Mama J not to curse him and to not refuse him if he calls.”

Spencer gave Kyle a big smile and took the bag of food from him. Kyle waved and moved towards the stairs that led out of the building. Kyle always took the steps. Spencer looked into the bag and saw the fork on the top as well as the container of noodles for him to eat for breakfast the next day. Spencer put those right into the fridge before he turned the music playing over to the music from the play La Boheme and he smiled. Spencer settled in on the coffee table, looking down at the files with his General Tso’s Chicken in hand. He had a lot of work to do.

Chapter 2-Later May 2009

Aaron didn’t know what to expect when he opened the door to his apartment after so long out of it and what had happened the last time that he was in it. The chirp of the alarm was expected, so Aaron dealt with it, putting in the code that Dave had given him after it had been installed. Aaron stared at the keypad after the chirping stopped. It was simple but something that he had never thought that he needed before. He wasn’t sure though that it would have done anything in stopping Foyet from attacking him. If Foyet had been unable to bypass it, the killer could have jumped him in the parking garage for the building. There was no way to stop a killer from going after their targets except for finding them before they do and the BAU and the Fugitive Retrieval Squad had not been able to find him.

The apartment looked the same. There was nothing out of place. Aaron knew that Prentiss had searched it and a CSU team had been through it. Aaron didn’t like that someone had put it all backs to rights. He figured that it was Dave, but it was probably a joint effort of the whole team. The whole of the apartment had been recarpeted, which was a shock. The carpet was softer than it had been before and fluffier. It looked nearly the same as what had been inside before, just better.

Aaron sighed, walking to the couch to sit down and stare around his very changed apartment. It wasn’t that the apartment was really that changed, it was more that he had changed. Aaron leaned his head back to stare up at the ceiling. He knew that he needed to do something, he needed to do anything really other than wallow in self-pity. Aaron had checked himself out, getting a taxi back to the apartment. Aaron knew that Dave would descend at some point because he had lied to the man and said that he would be getting out in the afternoon instead of the morning that he actually did. Aaron wanted to go home alone and face what being there would do. Aaron didn’t want to have to think that he was performing for Dave and acting the way that the man thought that he should. He wanted to feel what he was feeling and not have to justify any of it.

A growl from Aaron’s stomach told him that he needed to eat something, but nothing was exciting that he knew was inside the apartment. Being in the hospital meant that anything fresh was long expired and Aaron wasn’t sure if when the team had been taking care of his apartment, they had cleaned that out as well. Pushing himself up from the couch gently, Aaron made his way towards the kitchen. He opened up the freezer, knowing that he had a better chance of finding something to eat in there than anywhere else. He found that it was stocked with easy to prepare meals, including some microwavable breakfast sandwiches. Aaron grabbed two out and unwrapped them.

While the sandwiches were cooking in the microwave, Aaron started a pot of coffee. He leaned against the counter and looked at the fridge. Jack’s last drawing of Aaron catching a bad guy was there, stuck up by three magnets. It was not in the same place that it had been. Aaron frowned and moved to take it from the fridge. Slipping the magnets just far enough off the page to where he could lift the paper away, he nearly sobbed when he saw that the back of the page was clean. There was no Eye of Providence on it. Aaron figured that it had been checked by CSU or the team and just not put back in the same exact spot.

The microwave beeped, and Aaron nearly jumped out of his skin. Aaron glared at the machine even though he knew that it wasn’t its fault. Time was what he needed, time to get used to the fact that his home had been violated. He had been violated. Being in the hospital and dealing with it was one thing. Living in the place that it had happened was a whole other thing. Aaron popped open the microwave and pulled out the two sandwiches. He dropped them onto a plate and grabbed his coffee cup. Swapping the cup for the carafe, Aaron let the coffee pour into his mug from the machine while he filled it the rest of the way with coffee from the carafe. Aaron swapped the cup and the carafe again before tipping the sugar over into the cup, getting just enough in to cut the slightly bitter taste. Aaron sighed after taking the first sip, he had missed his coffee. Grabbing the plate, Aaron made his way back to the living room and the small table that he used to eat at. Aaron looked at it, realizing that it wasn’t quite where he wanted it and set down his coffee on a stand to push the table where it needed to be. When Aaron was done, he grabbed his coffee again and settled in at the table. Aaron allowed his eyes to finally dart where they had wanted to since he walked in but hadn’t been letting himself do it. Aaron could still see Foyet above him as Aaron laid there on the floor. The haze of the concussion he had received from fighting the man after the warning shot had made it impossible for Aaron to fight back with any real hope of winning. Aaron might have been bigger, but with the concussion making him nauseous and seeing double, winning had been impossible.

Aaron’s phone ringing just after he finished the first sandwich wasn’t a shock. Nor was the fact that it was Dave.

“Yes, Dave?” Aaron asked.

“I came to visit with you until you were released, only to find that you had checked yourself out early.”

“I was more than okay to take a cab back to my place, Dave.”

“Stubborn assed man. Aaron, I know that you were capable, but you don’t have to do everything on your own.”

“Taking care of my apartment was more than enough, Dave. I don’t need to be coddled.” Aaron glared at his sandwich, imagining Dave’s face on it. He sipped his coffee before taking the first bite of the sandwich. Aaron chewed while he organized his thoughts on what he wanted to say to the man. “I needed time to come to grips with coming home, alone, Dave. I need this.”

“I’m calling later.” Dave did not sound happy, but he would at least respect his wishes. Aaron hoped that the others would as well. He doubted it because as he had been downgraded at the hospital, Prentiss had been around more and more. Still, Aaron didn’t want to deal with that, not yet at least. He had thought that Prentiss had moved on before now but seeing her so upset, he realized that she had hidden it well. Aaron had never noticed it until Dave had pointed it out over a year before. It was stupid that Aaron hadn’t. Afterwards, he had seen it all the time, until his indifference had finally made her see that it was impossible. That wasn’t something that Aaron would ever do, especially with someone who had a soulmate out there. Prentiss’s soulmark was visible on the up and down stretch of her neck. It was hard to miss. Prentiss’s infatuation with him was going to get them in trouble one day if Aaron didn’t get it nipped in the bud. She had backed off but now was there all the time it seemed.

There was a knock on Aaron’s door, and he sighed. He was pretty sure that it was Prentiss. Aaron drained his cup and stood up from the table. He set the coffee cup in the sink as well as his plate. He looked at the coffee and debated dumping it, but it was his special blend, so he just shut off the machine and dumped it into the carafe that he rarely used. It would make it so that the coffee smell would disappear. He didn’t want her thinking that he wanted her to stay or that he would offer her a cup of it.

Turning off the alarm, Aaron opened his front door to see Prentiss there.

“I went to see you, and the nurse said you had checked out. I thought that Rossi said you were getting out in the afternoon?” Prentiss asked as she moved like she was going to move inside.

“I told Dave that because I wanted to have the day to myself. I don’t need a babysitter.” Aaron stayed in her way so that she couldn’t enter the apartment. Prentiss looked at him with a hurt look on her face. Aaron knew that this was going to cause an issue, but with him not going to be at work for a few weeks more, it was better to do it now than then.

“I don’t think you need a babysitter but being home alone, it’s not going to do you any good.”

Aaron wasn’t sure if she was trying to act like a lover or a mother at that point. Aaron’s own mother issues were long but not as long as his father issues. The deal with his very absent mother had been dealt with a long time before. Haley had made sure that he sought help for it all before she’d married him. He had hated her a little bit after she had forced the issue, but when a pregnancy scare came and went, Aaron had agreed. He agreed that he needed to have a handle on those issues before a child was brought into his life.

“Prentiss, I don’t need you. I don’t need you to come into my life and wreck it. Your own issues are longer than mine, and I don’t know what you need, but I am not it. I can’t be your lover or your dad replacement. I can’t be what you need, not now and not ever. You aren’t going to make me feel better by forcing your presence on me. I deal with things in my own way and in my own time and you being here is disrupting that. I asked you at the hospital to stop visiting me, and you persisted, but instead of coming alone you always brought someone else with you. I am asking you now to not come back here unless you are expressly invited.”

“Hotch, I-”

Aaron glared at her, and she stopped.

“I know that you think you are in love with me. I thought you had got over it before now, but it seems that I was wrong. You need to evaluate yourself and figure out what you are really feeling.” Aaron tried gentle, he had tried ignoring it, now he had to be mean and while it wasn’t really contrary to himself, he did not like being mean to someone who he did care for.

“My place on the team?” Prentiss asked, but she didn’t look happy at all. Aaron didn’t really care because he had shown her his own disinterest and she still continued.

“Depends on what happens when I come back to the team after my medical leave. If things go back to what they were before you started to show yourself to be in love with me, we will be fine. You are a valuable part of this team, and you have proven yourself time and again. I don’t want to lose you as a member or as a friend.”

Prentiss said nothing, she looked gutted though. She nodded and turned away from Aaron’s door and moved towards the stairs. Aaron watched her leave, hating the look on her face but knowing that it was needed. Aaron shut the door and locked it. He looked at the alarm and sighed as he set it again. Aaron briefly thought about changing it, but he decided to keep it the same for now. With his wounds, Aaron knew that anything could happen and he would rather allow Dave to enter with as little issue as possible. Dave was the only one with the code though. The company had installed it and the team had been in and out after that and then before Aaron had come home, Dave had changed it to the code that it was now.

Aaron moved to the bookshelf in the corner, smiling as he saw that his CDs were still in the order that he had them. He grabbed The White Album and slipped it into his CD player. His record player was in the bedroom along with his records, but he didn’t want to turn it up that loud to hear that, and he didn’t want to go into the bedroom quite yet. Aaron set the CD on repeat and moved to the kitchen. His chest and stomach were starting to ache, and he knew that he needed to set out his pills. Dave had grabbed him a pill holder that had four times a day slots as well as one to carry with him throughout the day. Once he was cleared to go back to work, Aaron would take his pills with him in bottles. State by state regulation on prescription pills just made it hard to remember, so the team generally took the entire bottle with them. Aaron was on a careful regimen of pills, and it was close to time for him to take his next dose of pain medicine as well as the muscle relaxers. It was a low dose of those and Aaron knew that it was to help keep his abdomen softer than it usually was so that he wouldn’t hurt himself on accident by moving too quickly.

The music filled the apartment, and for Aaron it made him feel like he wasn’t alone. He felt calmer as he dosed out his pills for the week, double and even triple checking the dosages and such before putting each of them away. Aaron usually wouldn’t leave the pills out in the kitchen because of Jack, but since Jack was in hiding with Haley somewhere inside of the United States, there was no reason to put the pills on the high shelf in Aaron’s bathroom. Instead, Aaron left them on the counter as most of his pills had to be taken with food of some kind. Aaron knew that he needed to pick up snacks, Dave had stocked him well with food for meals, but some of his pills were necessary to be taken at odd intervals so staging them around meals was hard to do, but a snack would be easy to eat with the pills. The collection of pills was vast, and Aaron just looked at them. Most of them had side effects, and Aaron was going to keep checking for those. The main side effect was with libido, but Aaron hadn’t really had much of one since the divorce. He jerked off when he felt like it, so not doing it at the moment was a good thing. He didn’t want to hurt himself more.

Piled on the desk in the office just off the living room was all of Aaron’s mail. Aaron looked at the piles and smiled. Someone had sorted it. It was either Garcia or JJ, Aaron figured as it was something that Aaron couldn’t see Morgan or Dave doing, or Prentiss really. Aaron found one pile was junk mail and took little time at all for him to go through, the next collection was questionable, most of it went into the trash. There was personal and bills left. Aaron’s bills were all automatically taken out due to the nature of the job so Aaron wasn’t too worried about them but he would check over the statements for weird overages and such. The personal was small, but Aaron wasn’t shocked about that. He didn’t get much mail from friends and other than an occasional “Hey I’m alive” letter from Sean, nothing from family. Aaron didn’t see anything that he wanted to deal with, so he shoved those into the top drawer of his desk.

Aaron was just finishing up going over all of his bills, balanced against his bank account when his phone rang. Aaron, tired from doing a little too much looked at the phone. He knew the number by heart, having called it for years while he and Haley were dating. Aaron looked at the answering machine that was on the stand and saw that he had seventeen messages waiting on him. Aaron wondered how many were from Roy Brooks.

“Hotchner,” Aaron said as he picked up the phone. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with Roy, but he would rather get it over than have the man call back over the course of the day.

“So you finally decided to talk to me.”

“I’ve just gotten home.”

“So you just went on with life, huh. She’s hiding because of you, and you are just lollygagging through life.”

“Roy, what did Haley tell you?”

“You were injured after a case, and one of those killers you hunt is hunting you.”

“I was stabbed nine times and have been in the hospital since the day that Haley and Jack went into Witness Protection. I promise you that my team and I are doing everything that we can to find this man so that Haley can come back.”

Roy was silent on the other end of the phone and Aaron for a few seconds was shocked. He’d never known the man to be quiet. He always had something to say about Aaron. Those words had turned sour when Aaron had left the prosecutor’s office and had gone to the FBI. Haley took after her father way too much, as Aaron was finding out post-divorce. Aaron waited for Roy to say anything, anything at all. He wholeheartedly agreed that this was all his fault, but there wasn’t a thing that he could do about it. The people that the BAU went after rarely ever escaped to come back and hurt the team but it had happened, but this had been a blindside. Which Aaron knew he should have seen coming, after Frank Breitkopf, after Gideon. Aaron closed his eyes, and he waited.

The click was a shock when it happened a few seconds later. Aaron pulled the cordless phone back from his ear and looked at the phone. Roy had hung up on him. Aaron wasn’t going to call him back. Instead, he would listen to the messages on his machine and see what was going on with those before he even thought about actually calling Roy.

Fifteen of the seventeen calls were from Roy, mainly wanting to talk to him and to see what kind of threat Roy and his wife, as well as Jessica the youngest of the Brooks children, were under. Aaron didn’t want to call him back, so he started to write a letter out, detailing everything. When he was done, Aaron finally listened to the last two messages. Both were from the company that managed the apartment building, telling him about the upgrades being done to the place after his attack. There was also talk about a letter. Aaron frowned and moved back into the office to find the letter. He found it stuck to the back of one of the personal letters and opened it.

Aaron was shocked at the content. It detailed the investigation into why the cops had not been called after a middle of the night gunshot went off. It was from a .44, there was no way that Aaron’s two neighbors on either side of him or the two across the hall hadn’t heard it. It wasn’t a high crime area and the fact that no one had reported it was odd. Aaron was glad that something was being done about it. Aaron wasn’t sure if the company was doing it because they were genuinely concerned or if something had happened that was causing them to do it by force. He knew that it wasn’t a secret, the FBI crawling all over the place was hard to hide. It wouldn’t take long at all for the building to have heard what happened.

Putting the letter on top of his bills, Aaron left the office. He needed a nap. His pain medication was making him sleepy, and he knew that his body needed rest. Aaron moved to his bedroom and settled on top of the bed, grabbing a throw and tossing it over his body. He was too sleepy to even want to try and untuck the covers on the bed to crawl in. It didn’t take long for sleep to claim him.


Spencer loved a good paper trail. It was why he was an analyst for the FBI. His paper trail varied depending on what he was doing. Spencer was loaned out to whatever unit wanted him. Being on loan of sorts to the BAU was strange but not new. It was the first time that the BAU had ever asked for outside help within the FBI when it wasn’t terrorism or cases against children and such.

“Agent Reid,” a voice called out, and Spencer turned his head up from his computer screen to look at the woman standing there. She was frowning at him like he had done something wrong and Spencer didn’t know who she was.

Spencer closed the file that he was working on for a unit in New York and wiped his hands on his pants before starting to sign. “How may I help you?”

The woman frowned at Spencer, and the frown turned into a glare when Spencer repeated the signs. The hint of anger in her eyes really pissed off Spencer.

“No one told me you were deaf.” The woman stepped closer to Spencer’s desk, and he was glad that it was between them. “I need you to tell me why you were given access to a file that you shouldn’t have access to,” the woman said very slowly. Spencer narrowed his eyes at her.

“I don’t know who you are but I am not deaf, and you don’t need to speak to me like I am stupid.” Spencer signed the words hard at her, she wouldn’t understand what it meant but it made him feel better.

“I don’t understand a thing you are doing.” The woman stepped back and leaned out of the doorway. “Is there anyone here who can help me understand this deaf man?”

Spencer heard the scrape of a chair from the office across from him and knew that it was Clarence. The man disappeared down the hall towards Martin’s office. However, a minute later it wasn’t Martin that entered the office. It was a signer that Spencer knew from other cases and various things. Spencer nodded at her.

“Make him understand what I want,” the woman all but demanded to the new person.

“Agent Reid can understand you just fine, Section Chief Strauss,” Melinda said with a grim smile at Spencer that Strauss couldn’t see. Spencer was shocked that it was a Section Chief that was acting like she was. “He is mute, he can’t speak with his voice.”

“Oh, why didn’t he make me aware of that?” Strauss asked.

“Most agents who seek out Agent Reid know of his inability to speak with his voice. And if they don’t when Agent Reid starts to sign many understand that he is using Sign Language and then try and find out if he is deaf or mute. Then they ask him to write down his answers instead of yelling to the whole of the office that someone is needed to make you understand him.” Melinda did not sound happy at all and Spencer would gladly let her deal with Strauss. Spencer knew enough to stay out of her reach as much as possible. The rumors that were abounding, even in Spencer’s area of the FBI buildings were massive.

Spencer signed at Melinda that Strauss was asking him questions that he can’t answer because she wasn’t explaining herself enough to be understood by anyone.

“Agent Reid would like to know what you need him for, Section Chief Strauss.”

“I was doing some checking on files, and I found that Agent Reid has access to a file that I did not give him access to. Then I find that the clearance was granted by the Director.”

“And you aren’t asking him why I was given access because?” Spencer quirked an eyebrow as he moved his hands.

Melinda verbalized what Spencer said.

“I am asking you, Agent Reid.” Strauss looked like she was ready to blow up at Spencer but was only not because there was someone else there.

“And you will have to ask him. I do not answer to you and was told to not discuss with anyone except who gave me the case file to work on.” Spencer’s signing was taking on the hard edge again and he could tell that Melinda was seeing it. Spencer didn’t even want to bring up that it was Rossi. Spencer knew the rumors about Rossi and Strauss from before Rossi had retired, the first time. That was something that Spencer didn’t want to get into. He hadn’t been aware that the Director was who had given him access though.

Melinda relayed the words again, and Strauss looked at Spencer like she wanted to kill him.

“I demand that you tell me.” Strauss was beginning to sound like a petulant child.

“Section Chief Strauss, I have to say that Agent Reid is correct, you need to go through the Director, and I will make sure that it’s known that you are trying to make an agent tell you classified information,” Melinda said her tone icy enough to give shivers to an eskimo.

“Who are you to threaten me?” Strauss asked.

“It’s not a threat, it’s a promise. You really do not know who I am?”

“No.”

“Melinda Waters, Section Chief of White Collar Crimes. I was down here visiting, and I have to say that I am happy that I was. So please leave.” Melinda glared Strauss down until she left. When she was gone, Melinda shut the door and turned to Spencer. “So why did you not use your app?”

“I didn’t want to give up my ace in the hole. As soon as she opened her mouth, I knew who she was. I wasn’t aware you were here. I was hoping it would be Martin who came in. However, I am glad it was you.” Spencer liked signing with Melinda, she never made him feel like he was less of anything for not being able to speak.

“Because I don’t take any shit from other Section Chiefs that try and lord over other agents that are not theirs to control. I know you have a steel spine. Use it.”

“I do for those that matter. Strauss doesn’t matter. She’s being heavily looked into for mismanagement of the BAU. The death of that Doctor is being pinned on her for forcing Agent Hotchner’s team into working a case that they should not have been so close to another without proper rest. It’s the talk of this division.”

Melinda looked at him with a strange look. She sighed and lifted her hands. “And you know this how? I thought you didn’t like gossip.”

“Agent Rossi was the one who wanted my help, I wasn’t aware that he wasn’t the one who ultimately gave me access.”

“You are hunting Foyet aren’t you?” Melinda looked shocked. Spencer shrugged.

“Hunt is not the word that I would use. I’m trying to see if I can find something that the BAU missed or at least some new insight. I’m still playing catch up on the behavior and all of the case files.”

“If you need me for anything, just let me know. I’ll gladly play interpreter as my cases, and job allow if you have other assholes that bother you. When is your next lecture?”

Two days,” Spencer typed out on his computer, finally bringing up the program that allowed him to talk with others.

“Send me an invite so I can go if I can. I love hearing you lecture on language.”

Spencer smiled at Melinda, blushing as he did. She was old enough to be his mother, but she was sweet. She had been brought in on a lot of his cases, partially because she was one of the few in the Bureau who understood what Spencer said, sometimes very quickly with his hands. Her parents had been deaf, so she had been raised in the culture. There was a small group of them inside the FBI that went out for drinks or meals on occasion. Mama J allowed them to take over a whole secluded room that they could talk, verbally or with hands and not have every single eye in the place on them, especially for the deaf who chose to verbally speak. Mama J even had a cook who was deaf, and when they all ate there as a group, he was the one that waited on them. Erik was a wonderful young man who worked at Mama J’s as his schooling allowed.

I’ll send you an email with the time.

Spencer looked back at his computer and opened up his files that he had been working on for several units within the FBI. Melinda wandered away, and Spencer waited for about twenty minutes before he left his office and moved to Martin’s. He stood there, looking at him until the man finally looked up. Spencer cocked an eyebrow at him.

“Strauss called down to see if you were at work today and I kind of figured that she would be coming down and I wanted back up and knew that Melinda wouldn’t let anyone walk all over you. There are a few units that are calling Strauss harpy lady. Hell, there was a memo in one that said that no one should touch her with someone else’s severed limb.”

Spencer raised a hand up and covered his mouth, one of the few outward signs that he did that mimicked laughing since he couldn’t make the sounds. Martin smiled back.

“I’ve got your back, remember.”

Spencer gave him a thumbs up and nodded before he went back towards his office. He pushed himself into his work, keeping his email tab open. He checked it often. There was nothing that came up other than usual emails. Spencer was half expecting to be called into his Section Chief’s office and raked over the coals in a mock fashion. He knew that he would be supported in what he had done, especially with another Section Chief backing him up.

Five came and went and so did six before Spencer logged off for the day. The sun was still bright outside when Spencer stepped out of the building. He could see some of the night shift heading inside, but Spencer ignored most of them. He didn’t know them, and he didn’t really care to meet them.

There was a coffee shop that Spencer loved that was just a five-minute walk from his apartment building. Spencer drove to the building and then walked towards the place. He had a new book that had arrived at work for him the day before, but he’d spent the evening chatting with a few friends from Caltech, so he hadn’t read it. Spencer settled into the corner seat, his back to the walls. The shop was nice because it had a digital ordering system for those who sat at specific tables. Spencer tapped in his order for coffee, dinner would come later.

Fifteen minutes later, a waitress set down his coffee and Spencer smiled at her. She left without a word, he was a regular, so they knew him well. When Spencer read about a quarter of the book, he placed his dinner order. Spencer watched the people move around the coffee shop while he waited for his food.

At the table next to him, Spencer watched a woman as she read a book and made notes in a notebook. Spencer looked around the room before going back to her at least every few minutes before he decided to just watch her. She never noticed his casual observance of her, much less his more intense focus. She had a glass of iced tea that the waitress refilled twice while Spencer was watching her.

Finally, when Spencer’s food was delivered, the woman looked at him. Spencer smiled at her, and she smiled back before going back to her book. Spencer propped his book open again and started to read as he ate. Spencer lost himself in the world of myth and magic, not realizing that the woman had taken a spot across from him at the table until he had finished eating.

“Hello,” the woman said with a smile on her face.

Spencer waved at her and held up a finger for her to wait. She frowned at him as he pulled his phone out of his pocket and he queued up the talking app. He made sure the volume was down at the appropriate setting for the venue they were in.

Hello, my name is Spencer. What’s yours?

“Oh.” The woman looked startled. She looked down at her hands for a few seconds before looking back up at him. “My name is Andrea. I’ve noticed you looking at me.”

I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I was enthralled by how much you were able to concentrate here. So you are a teacher? Of literature?

“How did you know that?”

My mother was a professor of literature at the University of Nevada. I recognized the same mannerisms when a new textbook came out.

“Oh, is that what you were doing, thinking of her?”

No, it’s what drew me to look at you, but your own mannerisms drew me the rest of the way in.

“I see. So you know what I do for a living, what do you do?”

I’m an analyst for the FBI. I mainly follow intricate paper trails for all manner of divisions.” Spencer had learned long before to make sure that people knew that he didn’t have the glamorous lifestyle that many romanticized an FBI agent having. It saved a letdown from happening. “I like paper trails and hunting out the misinformation and the tricks used by the bad guys.

“Sounds like breaking down a novel to understand every single aspect of it.” Andrea leaned forward, seemingly entranced.

It can be like that sometimes.

“So, I’m all done with my work for the evening and you are done with your dinner. What do you say about getting some ice cream and walking around the park?”

I won’t be able to talk much while eating the ice cream.

“That’s okay. I can always hold your ice cream to allow you to talk.”

Spencer stared at Andrea for a few seconds. He was eighty-nine and a half percent sure that she wanted this to be a date. Spencer hadn’t had a date with a typical person in years. His last three relationships had been inside of the deaf community, and none of them had ended well. He lived on the edge of the community, and many felt that he shouldn’t be a part of it.

Do you know sign language?”

“No.”

Spencer looked at her, he could see the interest in her eyes. Spencer knew that his looks attracted people to him. Usually, the muteness turned them off of him. Or once he started to talk, his scientific nature put them off. So far, Andrea wasn’t put off by him. She was an academic, so maybe for once, he’d have a chance. Of course, the last academic that Spencer had dated had been put off by the fact that he worked for the FBI. He had not understood Spencer’s want of finding bad guys.

I can talk pretty quickly with my speech app. Everything should be good.

Andrea smiled at Spencer and she had such a soft look on her face, Spencer wanted to reach out and touch her face. He didn’t know if she would like it though so Spencer dropped his free hand to his lap, setting the phone down on the table.

“Are you ready to go now?” Andrea asked.

Yes.”


Spencer gave a small wave to Melinda as she exited the back of the lecture hall. The hall had been packed and only seats saved had allowed her and James Blake to be able to listen and not have to stand, of which many students were doing. Alex Blake had sat on the side smiling as Spencer had lectured on the development of various sign languages the world over and even the difference in dialects between close areas in America. Every year when Spencer gave this lecture, the rooms were packed. Melinda had seen him give it twice before, but she always enjoyed it.

The students actually in the class and in Alec’s other classes were given first spots in the hall, and after that, anyone else was allowed in. Spencer scanned the room as the students who just wanted to listen to the lecture and not talk to him filed out. The rest were staying seated until Alex called them forward, it looked like about fifteen were going to stay and talk to him afterward.

David Rossi in the back of the hall shocked Spencer. The man was seated and writing in a notebook but didn’t seem like he was going to get up. Spencer pushed the thought of the man out of his head as Alex waved the students up. It was a bum rush to the front as they all jockeyed for a position close to him at the desk. Alex’s lecture laptop had the speech program loaded. Spencer had spent two hours updating it to the newest word database while he and Alex prepared. Spencer had pre-programed his lecture, allowing for pausing and question answering during it. Raven had indeed created a wonderful program for him, and he thanked her for it every day.

“Doctor Reid,” the first student asked, his voice sounding like he was so excited that he might just wet himself. There were no classes scheduled in the hall after and while Alex had a class in a little over an hour, Spencer knew that he would be there until he got tired of answering questions or the kids got tired of asking. The longest had been Spencer and a freshman named Silva talking for five hours, it had changed from the hall to a campus coffee shop after an hour but still. The boy had been intrigued by the speech software and how Raven programmed it.

Three hours later, Spencer was watching as the kids finally left. Alex had come back after her other class, and it was only then that Spencer realized that Rossi was still there in the back of the room. He followed Alex up to where Spencer was still sitting on the desk. The laptop was turned to where he could type on it, but Spencer hated sitting behind the desk with the kid’s all gathered around. If he had wanted that, he would have become a teacher.

“You know, right up until you sat down on the desk with your legs crossed, I truly thought that you would be a boring talker. You sat on the desk for the first hour of your lecture and then moved around after that, then got back onto the desk to talk to the kids. Your hands, even when not signing are very active. I have never seen someone lecture the way that you do and that is not adding in the speech program. I can see why you fill a hall.”

Agent Rossi, why did you come here today?”

“I wanted to see you, and hear you lecture. I heard about it from Melinda Warren. I heard that she had been to almost all of your lectures for this class. It made me wonder what was so good about it. I am glad that I came and that a case didn’t pop up.”

So you didn’t come to check up on me?” Spencer asked.

“Check up on you?” Alex asked. She looked at Rossi, her eye very critical. “Why would you need to check up on him, Rossi?”

“Thanks, kid. It’s not what you think. I am getting his help on a case. And no, Reid, I am not checking up on you. I was intrigued to see how you did this. It helps a lot on our Quid Pro Quo. Now, I’ll take my leave of the both of you and let you two have fun.” Rossi held out his hand for Alex to shake. Spencer was watching her, and he realized that Rossi did something to her. Rossi gave Spencer a wave before he left. Alex waited until Rossi was gone before turning to Spencer.

“What case are you helping him on and is it legal?”

It was approved through the proper channels, and I can’t talk to you about it because it’s active and ongoing.

Alex just stared at Spencer, her eyes even more critical. Spencer held her gaze. The sound of the doors opening had Alex looking away to see James, her husband entering.

“Time for dinner?” James was smiling as he said it, oblivious to the tension.

Yes,” Spencer said.

“You aren’t going out into the field right?”

Spencer just glared at her,.

“Good. I know that you were cleared for going on cases as long as you didn’t go on takedowns and only went to fully clear crime scenes but Rossi is a cowboy, and I would worry.”

It is just analysis. I promise.

“Something wrong?”

“No,” Alex answered when James asked. She smiled at him, and James reached out to pull her into a kiss. Spencer started to clean up the desk before he slid off of it. He shut down the laptop and started to pack it up. Next was all of his files into his bag. James took Alex’s laptop bag and her things before grabbing Spencer’s briefcase. James knew not to touch the messenger bag.

“Good. So, I have reservations at the new Indian place that you have been raving at. If we don’t leave now, we won’t make it.”

Spencer nodded, and James led them out of the lecture hall. Spencer dug his phone out of his pocket to tlet Raven know that he would need a software update soon. He had a large file of new words that he needed. Most of the words had to do with George Foyet and the names of the agents on Rossi’s team. There were a few other words that were from books and TV shows. Raven texted back pretty quickly that she would be able to do it within two days of getting the file. Spencer was happy with that. He wasn’t meeting Rossi until the middle of the next week to go over what Spencer had figured out so far.

Chapter 3-June 2009

Aaron woke up, fearing to move for the first time. His stomach was mostly healed on the outside, but inside, he was sore still, especially after a night of not moving. His muscles protested the movement, but Aaron made himself move. It got better after but as Aaron stopped while he was sitting up in bed, his body broke out into a thin sweat. It was standard, it was routine. Aaron’s morning routine was twice as long as it used to be but when he had got out of the hospital it had been three times as long. He was getting better. Every day it hurt less and less, and he was able to do more. He was not cleared to get back into running his regular route around the park near the apartment building but his physical therapist did have him run a mile on the treadmill at the facility where he went every day for therapy. A lot of it was breathing oriented, hence why he did it every day.

The therapy was grueling, breathing and holding it in or out depending on what the sadist that was masquerading as a physical therapist wanted. Aaron was attempting to figure out what kind of horrible thing had happened to make Carl Lamb a sadist that liked to make other people hurt themselves. Aaron knew that it was helping, but the man’s smile never broke, he was always smiling, and Aaron wanted to wipe that smile off of his face by profiling him back to childhood and wrecking his brain. However, every single day when he was done, and he didn’t hurt as much or wasn’t as tired, Aaron changed his mind.

Aaron slid over to the side of the bed and breathed deep, in and out seven times before he stood up. The pain flared a little as his muscles moved in new ways. Aaron shuffled to the bathroom, waiting for the sweat to start to go away from his skin before he stripped naked to shower. He looked at himself in the mirror and sighed. There was not a lot that could be done for the scars, Garcia had picked up a jar of cream for him that was supposed to lessen the scars, and it did seem to be helping, but anyone that he had sex with was going to see them. Of course, sex with anyone was a long way off as Aaron wasn’t even attempting to date. His work took up too much of his time and finding someone who would understand his job, and the time it took him being away was difficult at best.

Turning on the water, Aaron stood stared at the falling drops. He had been allowed to renovate the bathroom to his liking after a flood while he was gone on a case dropped the bathroom above into his. He had a contractor put in a shower and a bathtub that was sinful in its comfort. The shower had a system where it could simulate rainfall and Aaron used it more than anything else. He stepped out from under it to wash instead of turning it off because the sound of the falling water soothed him. When the water was the perfect temperature, Aaron stepped under it, bracing his right hand on the wall and just letting the water fall all over him.

Aaron’s mind went to college and the one break that he and Haley had during that time. Aaron’s roommate Jake had spent days trying to cheer him up, and it had ended up with the two of them at a bar. The waitress serving them had taken both of their sets of keys and said when they were sober, they could pick the keys up. What had followed was a drunken stumbling back to their apartment just off campus. Halfway home it started to rain. In the alley outside of the side door of the complex, Jake pushed Aaron into the wall. Aaron still couldn’t remember what Jake had been saying, only that they were both laughing when Jake pressed his lips into Aaron’s. Aaron had been shocked, but he had kissed Jake back. Aaron had accepted he liked both men and women before he had left junior high. Meeting Haley had kept him from exploring that side of himself.

With the rain falling down all around them, Aaron had allowed Jake to pressed him into the slick wall and take what he wanted. The kisses became deeper the longer they touched until Jake’s hand covered Aaron’s hard cock, trapped in his pants. Aaron remembered the sound of his moan as he started to thrust into that hand. Jake wasted no time in releasing both of their cocks, wrapping his hand around both and jerking them off.

Aaron pushed himself from the memory, Jake was long gone from his life, not surviving Haley and her influence. Aaron reached to grab the shampoo but froze when he realized that he was hard. The feeling was strange after so long of not feeling it. Aaron reached down and dragged his finger up from root to head and back down. He watched his cock jerk at the attention. Aaron grabbed his conditioner and drizzled some on his cock, shielding it from the water by leaning forward just a little more. He was fully braced on the all and groaned as he wrapped his hand around his cock, stroking lightly. Aaron just enjoyed the sensation of stroking his cock, keeping himself hard but not racing towards the end. He stroked up and down, watching his cock head appear and disappear.

An image popped into his head of the younger man he had seen in the recruitment seminar at Georgetown. Aaron had been pretty sure that the younger man was in a post-graduate degree, but before Aaron had been able to talk to him, he had left. He had watched Aaron with such intensity that Aaron had been half hard before he had exited the lecture hall. No one had known who he was so Aaron hadn’t been able to figure out. The younger man was beautiful and his face so expressive. Aaron didn’t usually allow himself fantasies, but the younger man was a stranger who he would never see again. Aaron imagined the younger man on his knees in the shower. His hand stroking up and down Aaron’s cock, getting him nice and hard, teasing Aaron with little licks at the head of his cock. Catching the pre-seminal fluid that appeared on nearly every single stroke of hand on his cock. Aaron closed his eyes and allowed the full image to take over his brain. He imagined the mouth wrapping around the head of his cock, teasing him even more before the younger man took the cock farther inside of his mouth.

Fantasy didn’t live up to reality, Aaron knew that, but he had learned how to make his fantasies pretty damned good. He had been self-servicing since long before Haley had left him. He could almost feel the hot mouth wrapped around his cock. The heat, the suction, even the bump of his cock head at the back of the younger man’s mouth. Aaron’s hand sped up on his cock as he imagined pushing his cock just a little farther back, testing the young man’s gag reflex. He wanted him to have none, driving all the way back inside of him, feeling the throat flex around his cock. Aaron panted as he finally came, seeing the younger man swallowing his release. Aaron leaned up and watched as his release washed down the drain. He felt better than he had in awhile, more himself, despite everything.

The reawakening of Aaron’s sexual side wasn’t just a show that he was a man, but it was the fact that he was healing. His body was healing, and his mind was coming to terms with what had happened to him. The closer Aaron got to going back to work, the more that he was being pushed into talking to a psychologist. This was going to be a good step in getting back to work. Aaron felt confident in making the appointment soon. Just in case he needed to go back for another session before he was allowed back to work.

Aaron finished his shower and stood under the water, looking down at the scars again. He hated the scars. It was easy to hide the faded scars on his back, Haley had never commented on them, so he was pretty sure that she didn’t know that they were there. Only a single fellow cadet had seen them when Aaron had gone through the academy. Jake had traced them the only time that they had even done penetrative sex with Aaron receiving. Jake had never asked about them. These scars though would be hard to hide during sex unless he made sure to never take his shirt off during it. Theoretically, it would be easy, especially with one night stands, fumblings in the dark where the release was the goal. However, Aaron knew that didn’t want a string of temporary lovers, he wanted stability not a revolving door of sex partners who only wanted him for the high of release that he could give them. Which meant talking about the scars. Most people didn’t look at stabbing like the BAU did, they didn’t see the sexual side of it. Which meant admitting a lot more than he wanted to.

Washing and drying off took little time. Aaron was moving to the kitchen to get the coffee started and to make sure that he ate something with the low dose of pills that he was still on. His physical therapist would be there soon and after that a quiet apartment. That was the biggest adjustment that Aaron was having. When he was off work as much as he was, Jack was usually over. Haley at least didn’t fight him on getting Jack when he really wanted the boy.

The chirp of Aaron’s phone told him that someone had texted him. He grabbed it from the counter where he had absentmindedly set it to see Dave’s number at the top of the screen. Dave was in the area, having taken the day off of work to do book errands and he was lunch partnerless and wanted to know if Aaron wanted to join him. Aaron texted back that he would gladly do that. He even gave Dave the address of the little cafe that Aaron had been walking to for at least a snack during the day as he wasn’t allowed to run alone. Aaron had a set amount of distance he had to walk in a day to make sure that his diaphragm wasn’t lapsing.

Aaron braced himself for the day, not knowing why Dave wanted to meet to eat. If Dave were anxious, he would invade Aaron’s privacy, knowing that he would get a better look at how Aaron was without the public persona that Aaron put on firmly in place. Still, getting out and talking with a human who wasn’t part of his medical team was something that Aaron was looking forward to if only to chase the ghosts out of his head that taunted him with his aloneness.

Fresh from a second shower because of his sadistic therapist, Aaron was leaving his apartment building. He wanted to carry at least his backup gun but he wasn’t cleared to do so yet and while he was one for bucking the rules when needed, doing so with his untested mindset to a stressful situation was asking for someone to get hurt.

The cafe was a few blocks away, enough of a distance that Aaron walking quickly covered it in no time but also it allowed him to test how fast he could go before his wounds would start to protest. He was barely able to run more than a few minutes at a low speed before his breath would stop him from being able to do anything but stand in one place and pant. It was better than the few steps he’d been able to do just weeks before.

“Agent Hotchner,” the new front door guard said as Aaron was moving away from the building. Aaron realized that it had to be shift change time. Aaron couldn’t remember the guard’s name, so he just nodded back at him. Aaron looked at the area ahead, seeing everyone and hearing everything. This was good for him. Lunchtime was one of the busiest times on the streets of DC, everyone going to and from work to get their midday meal. Aaron gritted his teeth as people jostled him. He took a deep breath as a reminder that it was good for him to be out and about. He was handling his PTSD better alone, but he knew that he had it. He wasn’t going to allow himself to become Gideon though.

Dave was already seated at a table with what looked like a pot of tea in front of him. Two cups were sitting on either side of the pot. Aaron frowned at him as he sat down.

“There’s that grim face that I have missed.” Dave reached out for the cup that was in front of Aaron and Aaron realized that it had been used. A waitress came and took the pot as well as the two cups away from the table and set down a glass of what looked like pop in front of Dave and a glass of iced tea in front of Aaron. “I’ve already ordered for both of us. Don’t worry, I ordered sweet tea for you.”

“And here I thought that you were only meeting with me today.” Aaron waved at the back of the leaving waitress. “Who did you have here today, the fourth Mrs. Rossi?”

“Oh, I don’t know that he would like being called that. Just someone that wanted a few moments picking my brain that is all. I treated him to some tea while we talked.”

“How long have you been here?” Aaron asked as he unrolled his silverware and draped his napkin over his lap, crossing his legs in the process. He leaned back in his seat and just looked at Dave.

“I have my laptop with me. I needed some time to clear my head and with the team on day three of in-house paperwork, I decided that today was a perfect day to write up stories about killers instead of case reports about them.”

“How is Brannon doing post the shooting of the Doctor in McLean?”

“I don’t think that he is going to last long. I’ve already been looking for replacements.”

“Is the team going to hell right now?”

“No, but Brannon isn’t finding what he needs. He won’t talk to anyone, and he’s dodging the psychiatrist. We can’t make him talk. The only thing that Morgan and I can do at the moment is keep him from takedowns. He’s doing fine as long as he has a purpose. We’ve been sticking him with cold case files. He’s found a few leads to send to some LEOs.”

“Have him meet me somewhere. We can talk, and maybe he’ll open up to me.”

“Fat chance but I can do that. You look better than the last time I dropped in on you. The bags under your eyes are gone. Are you settled back into a good sleeping pattern?”

“Yes, I was finally taken off the high dose of the pills that were making me sleep erratically. The dreams have stopped.”

“Director wants you to talk to a new psychologist as soon as you are comfortable.”

“I had a good rapport with the other.”

“She retired. It’s why Brannon is able to mess around with the current one. However, that’s not who you will be talking to. You get someone from the CIA.”

“Well, that’s…” Aaron sighed and picked up his tea and took a drink. As he did, the waitress set down two plates of food. Aaron looked at his plate of chicken parmesan and at Dave’s plate of a steak salad of some kind. The dressing and the amount of cheese and bacon made the salad barely worth being called healthy.

“So go ahead and start bitching at me about how big the apartment feels and how empty it is without Jack there.”


Spencer opened his apartment door, hearing the scampering of Curiosity’s feet as he ran towards the door. Spencer flipped on the apartment lights and stepped forward to allow Andrea to enter after him. As soon as Curiosity realized that Spencer wasn’t alone, he stopped in his tracks, sliding on the hardwood floor a little.

“Oh, he’s adorable,” Andrea said as she shut the door. “He looks bigger than the photo that you sent to me.”

Curiosity is a Maine Coon cat and only three years old. He will continue to grow for the next two years.

“Oh, did you get him on purpose or was it a mistake of you not knowing the breed?” Andrea asked.

I knew what breed I wanted. I went to find a Maine Coon cat at the shelter. There was a litter of them, and he was the last. He never stayed in the pen that they kept him in. He always got out and was always curious. It’s why they called him Curiosity.” Spencer moved forward and picked up Curiosity, holding him up for Andrea to pet. Andrea held out her hand and Curiosity sniffed at it before he recoiled back and hissed. Curiosity struggled until Spencer let him go. He ran into the kitchen and Spencer was sure that he wasn’t going to be seen until after Andrea left.

He doesn’t like strangers. Martin from work, it took him weeks to get used to him coming over every day after I was unable to drive due to a broken arm and a leg after I was clipped by a car that ran a red light in DC.

“Oh,” was all that Andrea said. She watched where Curiosity went, but she didn’t seem too upset. Spencer moved towards the kitchen, but her hand on his arm stopped him. She trailed that hand down to his hand, pulling his phone from it and tossing it onto the couch. Spencer raised his eyebrows up at her, but all she did was smile before backing him towards his comfortable chair at the window. Spencer’s legs connected with the chair, Andrea kept pushing him back until he fell on his ass into the chair. She crawled into his lap and kissed him, hard. Spencer didn’t know what to do with his hands because he didn’t know what this meant. Not until she settled her crotch over his and ground down. Spencer grabbed her hips and pulled her even more into him. She gasped as his length started to harden in his pants.

Spencer wanted his phone to be able to talk to her. He thought about that home system that Raven had tried to talk him into. Spencer trailed kisses down Andrea’s neck, nipping as he reached the bottom. Andrea’s hands were working on opening up his shirt, her fingers dipping inside to brush his skin but all she found was another shirt. Andrea reared back to see what she had found and looked shocked.

“That’s a pink shirt.”

Spencer nodded.

“You wear pink undershirts?”

Spencer wasn’t sure how to answer that with the methods that were available to him, so he just shrugged. Andrea ripped the rest of the buttons open. She shoved the shirt down his arms and Spencer leaned forward so that he could get his hands free. He was barely out of the long sleeved shirt when she tugged the undershirt up and over his head. Spencer immediately reached up, both of his hands cupping the underside of her breasts and lifting them up to where he could lean down to exhale over her nipples. Andrea moaned, tipping her head back, hands on Spencer’s shoulders. Her hands dug in as Spencer took a hard nipple in between his lips, the shirt not helping to hide how aroused she was.

“Harder, Spencer.”

Spencer smiled around the cloth and flesh in his mouth and opened his lips wider. He took moe of the breast inside his mouth so that he could tongue at the nipple. One of Andrea’s hands left his shoulder, moving to grip the back of his neck and hold him in place. Spencer let go of the hand that was holding and massaging Andrea’s breast, dropping it down to cup the outside of her sex, he dug his fingers up just enough to where his three longest fingers were right over her panty covered hole. Andrea bucked up and then back down, gasping at the feeling. Andrea let go of him fully so that she could rip her shirt off of her body. Spencer didn’t waste any time at all, he dove in and took her naked breast back into his mouth, realizing she hadn’t been wearing a bra all evening.

“Bed?” Andrea asked, her body shuddering at the feel of Spencer’s mouth on her flesh and his hand working her up. Spencer let go of her, and grabbed her arms to wrap them around his neck as he stood. Andrea screeched a little before she got her arms around Spencer’s neck. His hands were gripping her ass so that she wouldn’t fall but still she freaked out a little.

Spencer walked as fast as he could to the bedroom. Ever since he had broken his arm and leg, he had kept up with the running and some of the weight lifting that he had been doing as physio. Moments like this he was glad of it because he surprised everyone when he did it. Halfway to the bedroom, Spencer had to stop and press Andrea’s weight into the wall or risk dropping her. He kissed her again, hard as he ground his cock into her pussy.

“Fuck, bed now, Spencer.”

Spencer gripped Andrea’s ass a little harder and lifted her just a little more. He turned and pushed the bedroom door open all the way, Curiosity had to have been playing with himself using a toy on the other side because it was usually the only reason that it was half shut like that. The door crashed into the wall, and Spencer flinched a little at the sound. His apartment usually wasn’t that loud. Andrea didn’t notice, she was more interested in kissing, and Spencer was willing to indulge her. Spencer’s bed was tremendous in his room. He loved having space to sleep like a starfish as his mother had called it. It was a California King with special sheets that stayed cool all the time. The bed was the most significant indulgence that Spencer had beside his books.

Dropping Andrea on the bed, Spencer fell to his knees to start to work her pants open. It wasn’t long before Andrea was helping him strip her down to just her skin. Spencer grabbed her legs and spread them ducking down to swipe his tongue over her clit for the first time. Andrea dropped down to her back on the bed, moving her feet up onto the bed and spreading her knees as far apart as she could get them, giving Spencer all access to her pussy. Spencer allowed himself a smile at the fact that Andrea was perfectly bare under his gaze. She obviously waxed or had even paid to have hair removal done. If she waxed, it meant that she was expecting sex on the date and Spencer was okay with that. Spencer had made sure to clip all of his nails and even soften up a few of the calluses on his hands to make sure that he didn’t hurt her at all.

“Please, Spencer,” Andrea begged as Spencer just licked at her for a few minutes, teasing her with swipes of his fingers over her clit, barely dipping inside of her hole. Spencer didn’t hesitate to slide two fingers inside of her as he blew a puff of air over her clit. Andrea jerked on the bed, her hand reaching out and grabbing a handful of Spencer’s hair, holding Spencer’s mouth in the place where he was trying his hardest to make her orgasm quickly.

“Don’t stop, please.”

Spencer curled his fingers just right, his tongue working her outside and his fingers the inside, making Andrea near scream when she finally came. Spencer kept pushing his fingers inside of her, pressing in just enough to make her moan, kept licking and sucking on her clit until she drove him away from her. Unbuttoning his pants, Spencer stood up and shimmied out of them, he pushed his underwear down at the same time. He looked down at Andrea, who was panting and staring up at him with half-lidded eyes.

Andrea pushed herself up the bed, and when she was settled with her head on a pillow, she beckoned Spencer up the bed as well with a curled finger. Spencer dropped to his knees at the end of the bed and braced his hands at her hips, he dipped his head down to place a kiss just above her belly button, loving the breathy sound that she made as she inhaled, trying to get her skin away from him. Spencer didn’t even pause before he licked the skin Spencer had just kissed. Spencer kissed and licked, occasionally he nipped skin as he moved up to kiss her on the lips again. Spencer’s hips slotted between her legs and Andrea shuddered at the brush of Spencer’s hard cock across her sensitive pussy. When he sat up to reach over and grab a condom, Andrea’s hands dropped down and started to play with Spencer’s cock and balls.

Spencer looked down at her hands and watched as she stroked his cock. The condoms were right on top of the nightstand, Spencer had set them out before he had gone on the date. Spencer even had slipped a pack into his glovebox, in case she had wanted to go back to her place. Spencer didn’t do penetrative sex without a condom, with a male or a female but especially with a woman because he did not want to end up with a pregnant girlfriend.

“Do you want me to put it on you?” Andrea asked. Her hand squeezed tightly on his cock, just tight enough to where it felt terrific, making Spencer’s mouth open in a gasp. Andrea’s eye lit up at the sound. She gently tugged, and Spencer frowned, but when she stopped playing with his balls and beckoned him forward, he realized what she wanted. Spencer shook his head and dropped the condom on her stomach before holding up that hand and using his thumb and pointer finger to show that he was too damned close. If her mouth touched his cock, he was going to go off because Spencer loved the feel of a mouth around his cock.

Andrea let go of Spencer fully and grabbed the condom, she opened the wrapper carefully and pinched the head of the condom before she started to roll it down Spencer’s cock. Even the feeling of just that had Spencer too close for his own comfort. He groaned and grabbed the headboard as he dropped forward a little. Andrea looked smug as she pulled her hands free of his cock.

“I want you inside me,” Andrea said.

Spencer nodded and wrapped his hand around the base of his cock, making sure that he didn’t go off too soon. Andrea settled and spread her legs just a little more. When Spencer was convinced that he wasn’t going to come, he shifted his grip from the base to the shaft of his cock and let himself drop down to where his hand was braced at Andrea’s head. She squeaked and laughed until he pressed the head of his cock into the space between her clit and hole, just enough pressure to let her know that he was so close to what she wanted. Andrea was watching him closely as he leaned forward, but instead of his cock slipping down, Spencer angled it up to where the head brushed over her clit before the rest of his flesh followed. She closed her eyes at the feeling, so Spencer did it again and again. Her hands gripped the bedsheets, and Spencer knew that soon she’d scream at him to fuck her and he didn’t need the neighbor banging on the wall so when he pulled back, he angled his cock down.

As soon as the head of Spencer’s cock pressed into Andrea’s hole, Andrea’s eyes shot open she locked gazes with Spencer as he slowly pushed inside of her. She let out a breathy moan when Spencer bottomed out. Spencer felt so much as he reveled being inside of her, the tightness, the heat, it felt too good. Spencer didn’t pull out until Andrea shifted a little bit. Spencer wrapped his arm that he was bracing himself on around the back of her head, pushing her head up to where he could kiss her as he thrust inside of her.

This was Spencer’s favorite thing about sex, feeling his partner’s breath over his skin. He wanted this as often as he could, his body pressed against a lover, their bodies speaking instead of voices. For Spencer this was his chance to really tell someone how much he liked them. Using his speech program wasn’t as personal as this was. Even though the voice that Raven had crafted for him sounded natural, it wasn’t, and to Spencer, it put a barrier between him and his partner.

Spencer was so lost in his head, thinking about how everything felt to him that he didn’t realize that Andrea had orgasmed again until she was whispering for him to stop. Spencer pressed himself all the way inside of her as he felt more spasms of her muscles around his cock. Spencer gasped as it brought him over the edge. Spencer shuddered as Andrea tipped his head up to kiss him again, her tongue mapping his mouth. Spencer allowed her to kiss him until his cock softened enough to slip out of her on its own. Spencer reached down to hold onto the top of the condom before he slid off the bed to take care of it and cleaning himself up. He grabbed a clean rag and wet it with warm water and grabbed another to use to dry Andrea up.

When Spencer was done he tossed the rags into the hamper in the bathroom before he moved to grab his cell phone from the living room as well as all of the clothes that they had scattered everywhere. He dropped his into the hamper in the bedroom and laid Andrea’s over the back of a chair. Andrea was watching him from the bed, a smile on her face. She was snuggled down under the blankets. Spencer smiled back at her and moved over to get under the sheets. He settled in on his side facing her, she reached out and brushed her thumb over his bottom lip. She pulled the phone from his hand and frowned when it was locked.

“You have work stuff on here don’t you?” Andrea asked as she handed the phone back over to him.

Spencer nodded. Still, he unlocked the phone and handed it over. The haptic feedback for the apps on his phone made different sounds for each one opened. Andrea clicked into the camera and took a picture of herself, blowing a kiss to the camera. When she was done, she handed the phone back over.

“You can set that as the picture for my profile so you can see my face when I text you.”

Spencer nodded and did as she told him to. It was better than the generic icon that came for people without a picture in the contacts. Almost everyone in the contacts had an actual picture of themselves, but for Rossi, Spencer had put the cover of the first book of his that he had read. Andrea closed her eyes, a sappy smile on her face and Spencer turned up the alarms on his phone a little so that he wouldn’t sleep through them.


The sound of an insistent chirp was what pulled Spencer out of his sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around, seeing Andrea’s face half buried in the pillow, the blankets pulled up to her chin. Spencer smiled at her, leaning over to kiss her cheek. The chirp sounded again, and Spencer frowned at his phone. It was Raven’s text message tone, but given the time of day on the weekend, she should be just going to bed if not already dead asleep.

Spencer unplugged his phone and looked at the message that was waiting for him. He frowned as it took a few tries for his half-awake brain to make out the words coherently enough to actually made sense to him. Curiosity jumped up onto the bed and Spencer reached out to pet him, but instead, Curiosity sniffed at his hand before running away. Spencer shook his head at his snooty cat and turned back to the phone.

What medicine over the counter can be substituted for Grace’s medication?

Spencer looked at the words, and his brain supplied the list of things that could be combined to give to the three-year-old, but instead of sending that, Spencer rushed to the bathroom to get a shower in. While he was in the shower, Spencer thought about all the medication that Foyet was on. Spencer hadn’t even thought about using that to track him. While he was on too many to also try and find one person who was taking it all, Foyet wouldn’t be that stupid. He was probably getting all of his medicines filled under different names if he was doing it that way at all but there had to be something that he was on that wasn’t available over the counter.

Dressing after the shower was on autopilot. Spencer wasn’t paying attention to anything at all.

“Spencer?” Andrea called out, and it caused Spencer to spin around so fast that his arm flailed out and it crashed into his dresser. Spencer lifted his hand and bussed a kiss on the back of his hand. It was a self-soothe that he had picked up as a child. Andrea was sitting on the bed and holding out his phone. Spencer moved over and grabbed it.

A break came in a case I am working on, and I need to go to work. I’ll probably be there most of the day.

“I’ll get dressed then.” Andrea looked a little put out, but Spencer wasn’t paying close attention to her. He was focused on the Foyet case. Running the list of medications through his head. He hadn’t done research on them as he knew that it was a black hole that he would go down and never get out of. The case had needed his full attention, so he had dismissed the medication as a non-entity. He felt so stupid.

Twenty minutes later, Spencer was leaving, just minutes after Andrea had gone. He had kissed her goodbye and told her that he would call her as soon as possible but Spencer was distracted on his phone. Unfortunately, the search function on it wasn’t as good as the one that he had developed for his work computer. Spencer made sure to grab his work laptop just to be safe. Spencer hailed a cab because he knew that his brain was too focused on the case to even attempt to drive himself in. It was still early enough in the morning that traffic wasn’t bad yet for a Saturday.

Spencer looked at his phone, looking at the texting app and frowned. He didn’t want to get Rossi’s hopes up, but he did want to let him know that he had a lead. Still, it wasn’t much of one, and it had every single chance of striking out, so Spencer decided to not text Rossi as the cab pulled up to the Hoover building. He tossed money to the driver, knowing that he at least paid for the trip if not a trip back as well but he didn’t care.

There were few people in the office, those who worked the weekend still had about an hour before their shifts started and even in Spencer’s office, there was no one about. Spencer set his laptop down in the meeting room before he began to grab all of the medical files on George Foyet from his trip to the hospital after stabbing himself and of his intake reports for the short period of time that he spent in lockup after the BAU team had caught him. There were also files from prescriptions that all of Foyet’s aliases had filled and anything related to the doctor visits under those names.

A list two pages long was what Spencer had when he compiled every single medication that Foyet had taken over the years since the self-stabbing. Once it was organized, Spencer sent off seven texts to analysts that were better at hacking than him. Raven answered as well as Joe Faraday that worked for Homeland Security. Raven was busy with work, but Joe was in the building on a different case that he had wrapped up with the homicide division.

“What’s up genius?” Joe asked as he settled in with his laptop across from Spencer.

I need your hacking skills. I have a fugitive that I’ve been tracking for a little while, and I think I found a way to find him but the man is good and is technological enough to create and maintain several aliases well enough to see doctors and get prescriptions with those aliases.

“So he’s going to have things set up for when his aliases are searched. Good thinking. So lay it all on me.”

I am waiting for one last person.

“Sure. I’ll get my laptop booted up and ready to go.”

Joe looked down at his laptop and started to type on it. Spencer was barely paying attention as he waited for a reply to one of his emails. George Foyet was close to DC, there was no other place for the man to be and Spencer knew that the BAU was off on a case in New Mexico. So Spencer had emailed the head of the fugitive retrieval squad. Spencer didn’t want to start a search into the details of Foyet before he knew that he had a team ready and waiting to go.

“Doctor Reid,” a man said from behind him. Joe reacted before Spencer, reaching for his gun at his hip. However, Joe relaxed back into the seat.

“Greg Lamb,” Joe said and stood up to lean over the table and offer his hand. The man, Lamb, stepped over to shake his hand. “That’s Doctor Spencer Reid, and please have a seat.”

Lamb sat down where he could see Spencer and Joe. “My team is loaded up and ready to go. I also have SWAT and two back up teams ready.”

“What?” Joe asked. Joe looked at Spencer, but Spencer didn’t have anything to say. Spencer hadn’t told Joe who he was hunting. Spencer hadn’t expected for Lamb to just arrive like he did. He planned to get an email and for a notification that the team was being assembled.

“The FBI wants George Foyet dead, and with the firing of Erin Strauss, the FBI wants this chapter of the BAU done and over with. I have had a team at the ready for a while. I had thought that I would hear from Agent Rossi but the Director let me know that it could come from you as well. I have contact with my entire team and the secondary teams. I just need a place to go.”

“Okay, I’ll have that as soon as possible. Okay, Doc, give me the rundown. I’ve already downloaded a copy of the database that we need. I just need the medication that I need to track.”

What about the DMV database to track him?”

“I made sure to download the addresses of the patients when I did it, without triggering anything. It’s easier to do that with one database than two.”

“And being homeland security, you have access to a few more things than we do.”

“Hey, this man has killed a lot of people, I consider him a terrorist. He terrorized Boston and is now terrorizing an entire unit in the FBI. Foyet is going to go down, no matter what I have to do.”

This might not even pan out.

“Doc, I trust you now let me work my magic.”

Spencer gave him the name of the medication and watched him work. Lamb was a pillar of raw anxiety beside him, and Spencer looked him up and down. The man hadn’t even offered his hand in a greeting. While typically, Spencer would be upset at that. Many before had never done it because they wanted to slight him.

“I can see your brain working, Doctor Reid. So what are you thinking about?”

You didn’t offer your hand in greeting to me.

“I have a cousin who is deaf. He doesn’t shake. I treated you like I do him. I guess you didn’t see me wave, sorry about that, Doc. My cousin is a good guy, and I understand his reasons for not shaking hands. I shouldn’t have assumed.”

I don’t shake hands either, so it wasn’t a bad assumption.

“I got our guy,” Joe said.

Spencer looked at him.

“I even have a traffic cam that has a picture of the side of the building. I’ll forward it to you, Lamb. Go.” Joe waved him out.

“Nope, I’m on desk duty for a while. I’ll stay here and coordinate. Doc here knows his profile and will be the best person to ask questions if Foyet takes off.”

Time passed slowly for Spencer. Lamb was keeping the channel clear as the team moved in to take Foyet into custody. Spencer watched him as he listened in. Lamb kept glancing at him, and Joe was typing away on his computer.

“Here,” Lamb said tossing over an ear mic. “You can’t jam up the channel with noise so just write out a statement if you have something to add.”

Spencer slipped the mic into his ear. He could hear the chatter between the team as they moved in on the apartment.

“He’s running,” one of the team said over the mic.

“George Foyet! STOP! FBI!” was heard and it was too loud for Spencer, and he flinched. Lamb did not.

“What is the order on Foyet?” Joe asked, looking up from the computer for the first time.

“Dead or alive but that’s from brass. Agents agree that dead is better. He escaped custody once, and he’s too smart to go back in and not get out again.”

“FOYET! Freeze, or I will shoot!” an agent yelled.

The sound of a gunshot echoed in Spencer’s ear, and he knew that Foyet was dead.

“Suspect down,” a calmer voice said.

“Foyet is dead. No pulse,” the shooter said.

Spencer looked at Lamb and nodded.

“Do you want the notification?” Lamb asked Spencer.

No. You can meet the BAU at the airstrip. They are in Utah and on their way home. Given the current weather patterns between there and here and flight departure, they will be here in just over three hours.” Spencer wasn’t going to go anywhere near the team at the moment. He had no clue what their reaction to not being the ones to bag Foyet was going to be.

“It’s going to stay quiet until I get to talk to the BAU and then Agent Hotchner specifically. My team is locking down the scene. He was killed on a rooftop so it will be easy to hide. Thank you, Doctor Agent Reid. I am glad that we found him. My team has had little luck tracking him.” Lamb looked like he meant that fully and it gave Spencer a good feeling. Most of the time agents like Lamb didn’t like to be showed up by someone else who was coming in and did their job. “Maybe I need to find an egghead like you to help us. An analyst who stays back at the office and can help every team. I’ll pitch it to my boss. Again. Thank you.”

Spencer nodded. He looked at Lamb and held out his hand. Lamb took it gently and shook his hand before letting go, no outward show of strength at all. Spencer didn’t know what he felt inside. The people Spencer hunted were never dead at the end of the hunt. Spencer hadn’t been the one to pull the trigger, but he was the cause of his death. Foyet was someone who would strike again and again if he had been taken in alive, Spencer knew it was the best outcome. Foyet had attacked an FBI agent in his home and caused two lives to be disrupted. Two innocent lives that were only connected because of the man that Foyet had an obsession with breaking. Spencer picked up his phone and made a note to give a call to his friend in California who acted as his psychologist, and he made plans to pick up the books from the store that he ordered so that when Spencer had trouble sleeping, he would have something to do that wasn’t work.

Chapter 4-Later June 2009

Aaron knew that the whole reason that he wasn’t allowed to go and bring Haley and Jack home was to preserve secrecy. Still taking two weeks to bring them home was driving Aaron nuts. Aaron wasn’t sure why it was taking that long. Two weeks was a long time for Foyet to be dead and Aaron not seeing Jack again. The two weeks was good for Aaron though because he was cleared to go out and about in his life again. He wasn’t cleared to go to work.

Those two weeks were put to good use because Aaron cleaned up the house that Haley and Jack were going to be going back into. The master bedroom had looked exactly the same as it had when Aaron had seen it the last time. Still, he pulled the linens off of the bed and put fresh ones one that he had laundered himself so that it all smelled crisp and clean.

Jack’s room was updated, a few toys that Aaron remembered were gone and new ones replaced. Aaron had spent the day before shopping for a few new toys for Jack as well as some clothes. The last report he had from WitSec on Jack was that he had grown an inch. Aaron hoped that his favorite color was still orange.

Standing in Jack’s room, Aaron felt more out of place than he had in a very long time. He had felt that way since he had opened his apartment door to see Dave standing outside of it with another man that it took a few seconds for Aaron to place. Greg Lamb, head of the DC area fugitive retrieval squad. Aaron hadn’t liked it, but he had invited the two men into his apartment. Other than the psychiatrist that came to him, Aaron had no strangers in the apartment.

“Dave, what can I do for you?”

“Aaron, Greg Lamb, Greg, Aaron Hotchner.”

“We’ve met. It’s been a few years, but we have met.” Aaron waved for them to sit down because, with the way that Dave was acting, it wasn’t a personal visit. “What can I do for you?”

“Four hours ago, in an apartment seven blocks from here, my team under the direction of my second in command invaded an apartment. The inhabitant escaped from the apartment and fled the scene. He was commanded to halt and did not, so a kill shot was taken.” Lamb’s tone was no-nonsense, but Aaron did not understand why he was there.

“And why are you here?” Aaron had a few thoughts it being Sean, a case of mistaken identity but no, Sean was in New York, and if there were a warrant for his arrest, Aaron would know.

“George Foyet is confirmed dead.”

Aaron had sat and stared at Lamb. The wind was taken out of his sails. Even now, two weeks later, Aaron still wasn’t sure what he felt about it. He had spent so long hunting the man. From the first day he had stepped on the original case, Foyet had held a place in his mind. To have it end and him not be apart of it, Aaron was going insane.

The agent who had escorted Haley and Jack to the airport, where ever they had been, had texted when the jet had taken off. The notification that it had landed at Quantico had come two hours after that. Aaron had been pacing from room to room since then.

Aaron hated the pacing, but it was the only thing that he could do. Dinner was in the oven, a recipe for a baked cheeseburger macaroni meal. Aaron made himself leave Jack’s room because he couldn’t take it anymore. He moved to the guest room and grabbed his shaving kit. He hadn’t been shaving every morning and today had been too much for him to even attempt it. He had slept for shit, and it had shown. He was surviving on way too much coffee.

Shaving centered Aaron even though he was using a store cartridge razor instead of his straight razor. He was afraid of cutting himself if he used the straight razor. The feel of the blades calmed Aaron in a way that nothing else did, which was a very odd feeling. Aaron used the aftershave and looked at himself, there were bags under his eyes, but that was something that he couldn’t fix. He just hoped that Jack didn’t get scared seeing him again. Jack had never been gone this long and not seen him, he could understand if the boy was scared.

The sound of the phone ringing inside the house startled Aaron. He looked at the number on the phone in the hallway and grabbed it up.

“Hotchner,” Aaron said.

“We are not far away. Don’t come outside, please, Aaron,” Sam Kassmeyer said. He sounded tired. “Let us come to you.”

“Sam,” Aaron said.

“Please, Aaron.”

“Fine.” Aaron hung up the phone, slamming it into the cradle, hearing the loudness of it in the quiet home was too much, but Aaron didn’t care. There was something wrong, and Sam wanted to keep it out of the public eye. Aaron didn’t care. He moved forward, down the stairs as he heard the front door open. Sam had lied, or it was someone who shouldn’t have been there. Aaron took the last half of the steps at a near run, and when he rounded the corner and saw not Haley but Jessica standing there with her hands on Jack’s shoulder and his son, his son looked so upset and just broken that Aaron wasn’t sure what he was going to do.

Jack looked up, and when he realized that it was Aaron standing there, he fought out of Jessica’s light hold and took off at a run towards Aaron. Aaron crouched just in time to catch the young boy as he jumped into his father’s arms. Aaron wrapped his arms around his son’s body tight and stood up. He looked at Jessica and knew that something devastating had happened.

Jessica opened her mouth to say something but stopped, letting out a sob instead. It was then that Aaron realized that Jack hadn’t said his name. Jack hadn’t said, Daddy. Jack was crying, little sniffles into Aaron’s neck but he wasn’t saying a word. Aaron looked at Jessica. She had a file tucked under her arm. Aaron pressed a kiss into Jack’s hair and moved to the living room. He sat down in the chair that he had always sat in to read to Jack when he had been younger. Jack clung tighter to him as he sat down and Aaron didn’t even try and move him. Instead, Aaron settled into his lap better.

“Oh, Jack, I love you,” Aaron muttered into Jack’s hair. Jack said nothing but just clung to Aaron, softly crying. Aaron sat in the chair until Jack went limp, asleep from his crying. Jessica stayed at the edge of the room until Aaron looked up at her after Jack had passed out.

Jessica stepped over and handed the file to Aaron. Aaron shifted Jack to where he was cradled in Aaron’s lap, his head tucked on Aaron’s side and resting on the arm of the chair. Aaron held the file in one hand and opened it up. On top was an autopsy report. Aaron looked at the name on the report. It was for a Selena Smith. Aaron raised his eyes to look at Jessica. She waved for him to keep reading. Aaron dropped his eyes again and read over the report. After years of looking at ME reports, Aaron knew what it was and could understand it.

There were brain scans and very detailed images of the inside of the brain after it had been autopsied. The cause of death was brain cancer, undiagnosed until it killed her. The details said that she had been found in bed, dead, by an officer when she did not go to work and her child did not go to preschool. The child was found playing in his room, unaware of what had happened to his mother. There was no mention of a father.

Aaron looked down at Jack’s face, asleep. Looking like he hadn’t slept in weeks.

“It was a week into her placement there. If it weren’t for the fact that Jack hadn’t gone to school and the school had called Haley’s office, the cops wouldn’t have been called to check out the house. That was two people not where they were supposed to be. The ME said that it was quick and painless.”

“Why are you here? How do you know this?”

“Sam came and got me from work. He made me sign a paper that said that even if I turned him down, I would not speak to you or dad or mom about what he told me. When he was done, there was no way that I wasn’t going to go with him. So I called dad and told him that I was going on a work trip for a few weeks and wouldn’t be able to call a lot due to time differences.”

“Roy never said that.”

“Dad’s called you?”

“He calls me nearly every day demanding that I do my damned job and get his daughter home.”

“I’ve not been over there yet. I don’t want to go and tell him.” Jessica looked scared, and that broke Aaron inside a little more. “I was going to do it tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll go and tell him. We don’t need him upset at you as well.”

“I can take care of my father and mother, Aaron. You have bigger problems.”

“How can I have bigger problems?” Aaron asked. Jessica wasn’t dramatic. She wasn’t anything like Haley had been. She was calm and rational, and it was part of why Aaron had been glad that when Haley had issues, she went to Jessica. Jessica calmed her down and make Haley see reason. If Jessica was telling him that he had a more significant problem, she meant it and was probably, understating it.

“There is a reason that I was brought in to take care of Jack.” Jessica stopped and looked down at Jack in Aaron’s arms, there was such a look of sadness on her face that Aaron ached to go to her. He was afraid of disrupting Jack. Even if he was a passed out asleep from crying, Jack looked like he needed it. “He hasn’t spoken since he was told that Haley was dead. The day after I got to where Jack was we were taken to a new place. There was a child psychologist there that works for the federal government and was vetted to work with Jack. He is withdrawn and silent. He’s still affectionate with me and obviously with you. You don’t know how many times that I sat with him in my arms at night and thought about running. Coming back to DC so that he could be with you. I knew that it wouldn’t fix him, but I was hoping to hear his voice again. It’s broken me, Aaron. Not hearing him laugh, not hearing him say my name.”

“He’s mute?” Aaron looked down at Jack again, looking at his son who was mute it seemed. Aaron knew the effects of trauma on a child. Jack had always been on the shyer side of extroverted, and Aaron wasn’t shocked that he internalized. He would almost take Jack acting out and being a little asshole. He could take that better than silence. The silence was harder. Silence brought on a whole lot of other issues. Jack was supposed to be in preschool, where silence wasn’t going to be a possibility. Given that Jack had been in school in June meant that Haley had been sending him to one of the year-round schools. It had been Aaron’s wish for Jack to be in year-round schooling. While Aaron had hated his boarding school, he had liked that aspect. He had liked not coming home for three months in the summer but instead just a few weeks here and there. Aaron had done a lot of research into year-round schools in the DC area for Jack. He had been in a regular preschool because the divorce had put a backburner on those plans. It was all on Aaron now. Aaron had to plan and find a school that would be right for Jack. He had never looked at schools for kids with disabilities of any kind. He would make that the point of the rest of the leave to make sure that Jack had a new psychiatrist and a new school for him to go to in September.

“The psychologist calls it a traumatic loss of voice. She said that he could recover it at any point, but she wasn’t making headway with him or connecting with him at all. She gave a list of many doctors in the area that she thinks could do well with him. I’ve looked it over, but this is more your realm. I’m going to help you in every single way that I can, but I can’t help with this part.

“Aaron…I had to make a decision about her remains, and I did. There is no body to bury because I didn’t want to bury her and then pull her up when Foyet was caught. I had her cremated. She had talked about it before mom started to get sick. I can’t…” Jessica shook her head and disappeared from Aaron’s sight.

Aaron sighed and lifted Jack up in his arms and followed Jessica. He found her in the master bedroom, she was sitting on the bed, her hand resting on the clothes that Aaron had laid out for Haley to change into. Her favorite around the house casual outfit.

“How can I go home tomorrow and tell them that they don’t even get to buy their daughter? That they don’t get to say goodbye and kiss her forehead in a casket? How do I tell mom and dad this?”

“It never is easy, telling someone that their child is dead. I still hate doing it as part of the job. I meant it that I will go with you.”

“No, Aaron. You need to be here for Jack. He doesn’t need to be there for my father’s meltdown.. I have a digital file of all of the sessions that Doctor Milgram did with Jack.”

“What happened to your apartment?”

“WitSec cleaned it out and stored everything. They did not expect for this to be resolved so quickly. Sam said that he would make sure that I had a place to stay until I could find a new place.”

“You can stay here. I had planned on staying for a while to help settle Haley and Jack back in. Now, this…” Aaron stopped because everything was changed. He had to get moved out of his apartment and back into the house because Jack needed stability and this home was as close to security as he could give him in the wake of what had happened. It made sense to have Jessica around, the only person that Jack had been around in the time after Haley’s death. Aaron wasn’t ready to face this on his own. Going from a slightly absent father to being a single parent. Of course, Roy would have an issue with that. He would hate that Jessica would even have a single thing to do with Aaron in the wake of what happened. The only saving grace was that even if she had been home, she would have been dead. The report said that even if it had been caught at the first signs, she still would have only lived a short time after her diagnosis, even with treatment.

“Aaron I can’t just move in with you.”

“No, no I know. It’s stupid. You have a life.”

“Aaron, why do you want me to move in with you?” Jessica asked.

“For Jack. He needs stability, and right now that is you. You’ve been there for weeks with him. I don’t want to know what would happen to him if you were all of a sudden gone but I understand. We can work through it. I just need to get settled in here. I have a lot that I have to do.” Aaron started to make a mental list. He shifted Jack to where the boy was sleeping on Aaron’s shoulder. He moved to the chair in the corner and sat down, turning towards where he was able to see Jessica sitting on the bed.

“I can’t sleep in this bedroom, Aaron. I don’t know what exactly you were thinking about this, but I can’t sleep in this room.”

“There is only the guest room.”

“There is the basement. I know that half of it is unfinished and until it’s done I can stay on the couch, the one in your office pulls out into a bed right?” Jessica asked.

“Yes.” Aaron had spent many nights sleeping on it. He’d bought one of the best mattresses on the market for it.

“Good. I can stay in there, and while you are moving back in, I can watch Jack. I am sure that the team will help as much as possible when you guys are home from cases.”

“Jessica, I’m still not cleared for duty.”

“What? Haley said you were stabbed, but she didn’t…Aaron?” Jessica was upset, and Aaron could tell. He wasn’t shocked that Haley downplayed what had happened to him. It made it better that Aaron was not that hurt but was still putting her into Witness Protection. It showed a bigger disruption to her life for such a little thing.

“I was stabbed nine times by a serial killer. That’s why Haley and Jack were sent away to protect them. He left a note that he was going to go after them. That’s why they were put into Witness Protection. It’s why I’m still stuck on the sidelines, the damage was extensive. My doctors have a baseline of what they want me back to before clearing me for field work, and I have not hit it yet. Running after a while gets me to where I have trouble breathing.”

“It’s been months.”

“Yes it has, and it’s at least three weeks before I am allowed back to work. In that time I can get everything taken care of as far as moving me back in here. There is a group of movers that the Bureau uses when moving agents from place to place. I can get a hold of them and use them to get me moved in quickly.”

“Why don’t you call them now. It’s still daylight, and I am sure that there are cases for rush jobs.”

“I…” Aaron didn’t want to deal with it. He really didn’t. He wanted to focus on Jack, his son who had been away from him when his mother died. Who was mute and dealing with too much for his age, hell it was too much for anyone to ever have to deal with. Jack didn’t need Aaron splitting his focus. Aaron leaned his head back onto the back of the chair.

“Why don’t you have that team member that came back help you. Haley said that he was too much of a busybody to be anything else.”

“Dave is a nosey Nancy. If I call him everyone is going to descend.”

“No, they aren’t, not if you want Dave to not let them know.”

“He’s at work, and if he leaves, Garcia will look into it and she doesn’t stick to the actual law when she feels something is wrong with the team. I have been trying to break her of that, but right now, she won’t listen.”

“Then have him make up something that no one will question.”

Aaron nodded and pulled his phone from his pocket. He hadn’t told even Dave when Haley and Jack were coming home. He had wanted some time to himself with them before everyone else descended because the team was going to.

Dave, I need you at Haley’s house, please. I don’t want the team figuring out that this is where you are going.

Aaron set his phone on his leg, and he shifted Jack just a little to get some feeling back in his arm. His phone vibrated, and Aaron looked down at it, seeing that it was Dave texting back.

I’m actually not even at work right now. I’m sitting in my office at home trying to get some writing in.

Aaron dialed Dave’s office number to talk to him instead of texting back and forth.

“What do you need, Aaron?”

“Jack’s home.”

“Jack and not Haley?”

“Dave, I can’t. Not over the phone. Just come here, please.” Aaron hung up and closed his eyes. He could feel tears threatening. He needed to keep it together until Jack was asleep that night. He had to be strong until then because it was what Jack needed. He needed to see Aaron stable at the moment. It wouldn’t take much to scare Jack more.

Jessica left the room, leaving Aaron to his silence. Aaron sat there for a few minutes before he stood up and moved to Jack’s room. The rocking chair from when he had been a baby was still there. Jack liked to sit in it and read to himself, look at the pictures for the more laborious books, and wanted to sit in it with Haley or Aaron while they read to him. When no one was in the chair, some of Jack’s stuffed animals lived in it. Aaron swept them out with a hand and settled into the chair. Sitting beside it was the book that Haley had been reading to Jack at bedtime. Aaron looked at it and sighed. James and the Giant Peach was not exactly the best story to be read. Aaron unlocked his phone and pulled up his reading app and found a kids book and bought it.

Aaron was halfway through the second chapter when he saw Dave hovering in the doorway. Aaron stopped reading and looked up at him. He had papers in his hand.

“Jessica has been printing out the full psychological evaluation of Jack from the first doctor and then just before he left.”

“What did she tell you?” Aaron asked.

“Cliff Notes. She also showed me the autopsy report. This is…if you didn’t have bad luck, I would say that you would have none. How is he?”

“I don’t know. Jack cried himself to sleep as soon as I picked him up. He looks worn out, and I just want him to sleep as long as possible.”

“Jessica took the food out of the oven and said that Jack hasn’t eaten since last night. He was too upset, and she didn’t force him to eat breakfast. She is hoping that the smell of food will wake him up and that with you here, he’ll eat.”

“I don’t think that I can eat.”

“Well, you’ll have to buck up and eat because Jack needs to.” Dave stepped over to Aaron and handed over the papers in his hand. Aaron nodded his thanks and started to read them over. It fit just like a standard case of traumatic loss of voice in a child as young as he was. The report stated that he was learning sign language very well, actually the follow up said that he was absorbing it at an astounding rate. There was a note to have his intelligence tested as soon as possible to make sure that he wasn’t going to get bored with school.

“I need your help, Dave.”

“Okay. What do you need?”

“Your brand of getting things done in less time than it should take. I’m moving back into the house, and I don’t want to leave Jack here alone.”

“So you want me to have your place packed up and brought here and reopened.”

“Yes.”

“I can do that. I can make sure that the team doesn’t find anything out until you come back to the unit. You know that this is going to delay that right?”

“Has the new Section Chief been picked?”

“Yes. I’ll do a meeting with him. You remember Jack Applehorn right?”

“Yes. He was a good Unit Chief for the LA SWAT unit.”

“Yes. Applehorn requested a position here, and when this one opened up, he took it. His parents are in declining health, and he wanted to be here for them. He’s been doing good. It’s part of why I was off today. He’s getting himself acquainted with it all, and all teams are working from home base unless something major comes up. I’ll make sure that he knows that you leaving here isn’t going to happen.”

“Tell him that I will gladly talk to him here whenever he wants to.” Aaron knew that to get it over sooner rather than later would be good. Still, he didn’t want to leave Jack, and he wasn’t taking Jack to Quantico anytime soon.

“Of course. So I’ll go and make a few calls and then I’ll join you and Jessica for dinner. I saw the kitchen, you were doing your best to make Haley happy.”

“It was my fault that she was in WitSec.”

“No, that was all on Foyet. You did your job, Aaron. It’s not your fault that a serial killer targeted your family.”

“If I had moved away to White Collar crimes like Haley wanted, this never would have happened.”

“No you are right it wouldn’t have happened, you going to White Collar crimes would have stopped the cancer that was growing inside of Haley and it would have stopped it from taking her life.”

“Dave,” Aaron hissed. He jerked in the chair, and Jack shifted on his body, showing signs of waking up. Aaron settled back down.

“That’s right. None of this ever would have happened. As much as it was the worst timing ever for the cancer to take Haley’s life, what if she had been here? Given the time difference, she would have been in the middle of making Jack breakfast. He would have seen her fall over and been unable to wake mommy up. Everything happens for a reason.”

Aaron glared at Dave. He knew that the older man was right, but he didn’t have to like it. He hadn’t even thought about the fact that with the time difference what Haley would have been doing. There was every single chance that Jack would have been eating breakfast like Dave said and they would still be where they are, with Jack silent and Aaron picking up the pieces just with less guilt.

“Did you see the symptoms?” Dave asked.

“No.” Aaron hadn’t read those because he wouldn’t have been there to see them.

“Erratic behavior and a dramatic change in normal behavior.”

Aaron stood up as Jack started to wake up. He thought he knew where Dave was going with that. Haley had hated Aaron’s job at the BAU but what if the change from hating it to loathing it and even her affairs were because of the brain cancer. He looked at Dave and made him understand to table it for now. Dave nodded just as Jack’s eyes started to open. Aaron stood still as Jack looked around. His eyes took in the room before focusing on Aaron’s face. Jack’s hands shot up, wiggling from where Aaron had pressed them into his chest. His fingers started to move, signing something.

“Woah, buddy. I don’t know what that means.” Aaron smiled, trying to make sure that Jack didn’t get upset. Jack did the sign again and then pointed at Aaron. “Oh, does that mean Daddy?”

Jack nodded before he slung his arms around Aaron’s neck again. After a few seconds of a hug, Jack leaned back again and made another sign but that sign Aaron knew.

“I love you, too buddy. Hey, look who it is!” Aaron turned so that Jack could see Dave. Dave stayed where he was and just waved at Jack. Jack made two different sets of signs.

“Does that mean Uncle Dave?” Dave asked, his eyes going a little wide at the words that Jack was signing. Jack nodded his head up and down. He reached down and patted his stomach just as it started to growl.

“Wow, sounds like someone is hungry. Aunt Jessica has pulled out dinner from the oven, and I get there is a plate of it set up just for you and a glass of milk. Do you want Daddy to carry you or do you want to walk?”

Jack cocked his head to the side and then mimed walking with two fingers. Aaron smiled and set down Jack after pressing a kiss into the side of Jack’s head. Jack took off at a run and Aaron didn’t have it in him to call the boy back for running. Aaron knew that he would have to make sure to start to discipline him for things that he did wrong or he would have a whole other set of problems with Jack going forward but a single day of it wasn’t going to hurt Jack. Dave though was chuckling, and Aaron moved towards him.

When Aaron got to the hallway, he saw Jack on the top step. Jack signed something new and didn’t understand it. Jack scrunched his face up and then smiled. He mimicked two legs with two fingers showing them moving really fast and then stop and start to walk slower.

“Are you saying that you are sorry?” Dave asked.

Jack nodded emphatically as he started to go down the steps at a sedate pace. He waited at the bottom of the steps for Aaron and Dave, and when Aaron stepped down beside him, he took off towards the kitchen at a regular and only slightly fast pace.

“Jack!” Jessica called out as Jack entered. The boy ran to her and Aaron was greeted with the sight of Jessica hold up Jack for a hug before she set him down in the booster seat chair that was Jack’s normal one. There were plates set out for all of them, and Aaron was right that a cup of milk was out in front of Jack. Aaron sat down in the chair that had been his at the table while Jessica took Haley’s waving for Dave to sit down in the other chair.

Jack took a bit, smiling as he chewed. He set down his fork and made a sign at Jessica.

“He says that it’s yummy.”

As Jessica said the word yummy, Jack made the sign again. Jessica repeated it as well.

“We learned food words very quickly as it’s the most basic need that he has beside needing to go to the bathroom and tired.”

Jack made those signs as she said the words as well. Jessica had a smile on her face.

“I saw that he is picking up words and signs very easily.”

“I know that Haley always said that she thought he was smart but I kind of chalked some of that up to a parent’s pride but this…how quickly he is learning sign language, as well as the alphabet, I can agree that testing does need to happen. I am sure that there is a place somewhere that does that kind of testing for someone with a disability like he has.”

“There is but most of them are for kids who had been deaf since birth. They know sign language better than Jack. At this point, testing would only be skewed by what Jack knows more than how smart he is. We can take that road when we have a better grasp of everything.”

“Sam is having Jack’s things, what he had as far as clothes and stuff that Jack wanted to bring with him shipped as quickly as possible. A lot of the delay was the psychiatrist wanting to work with Jack about the fact that he was going home. With the trauma he had already been through, she wanted to make sure that he was good for coming home. I couldn’t…I had to either agree with her or bring him but I just…”

“I would have had you stay as well if I had known. His mental welling being is more important than anything else. Don’t worry, Jessica.” Aaron laid down his fork and covered Jessica’s hand with his where it was laying on the table. Jessica nodded and gave him a feeble smile. The rest of the meal was mostly silent, Jack taught Aaron and Dave a few words that had to do with food as they ate before he was dismissed.

Aaron was happy that Jack had asked for seconds of the meal. Aaron had only forced his very small serving of it down for the sake of Jack seeing him eat but when the boy wanted to go play, Aaron stopped making himself eat. Jack moved to the living room to play with some toy soldiers that were on the table. Aaron had bought them the day before and had left them there for Jack to play with while Aaron and Haley had talked. It was almost like clockwork, every minute to minute and a half, Jack would look up at him, making sure that his father didn’t leave him. When Dave and Jessica were done eating, Aaron moved to the living room. Aaron could hear the two of them cleaning up, but he couldn’t make himself go in and help them. Instead, he watched his son play with toy soldiers.

“He’s going to need a lot of help, Aaron,” Dave said his voice low as he sat on the couch beside Aaron.

“I know that he is. I’ll be calling tomorrow to see about getting him into to see on the people on the list. I don’t want him to settle for the first one that I pick. I want someone that he is going to like. I’m going to talk to that man…what’s his name. Sweets. Works out of the DC office. I’m not the first agent that has been targeted by an UnSub there has to be a child psychologist that works in trauma.” Aaron made sure that his voice was low so that Jack wouldn’t hear it. The boy was moving towards the front window. He set all of his toy soldiers on the padded bench of the window before crawling up in himself. The silence stretched, Aaron ached to hear Jack’s voice again. He wanted to listen to it and to understand what was going on inside of his head.

“What about your ex-father-in-law?”

“Jessica wants to handle him alone, but I am afraid to let her. His anger is…deep on this subject, and it doesn’t matter how Haley died it will be my fault. I’ve been setting myself up for this conversation except it was Haley dying at Foyet’s hands. Cancer took her away from Jack. Cancer.”

“Look I know someone who knows sign language.”

“Dave.”

“No, listen. Who are Jack’s favorite superheroes?”

“FBI agents.”

“Yes. What do you think about an FBI agent who is mute?”

“You know an FBI agent who is mute?” Aaron asked, turning and looking at Dave. He spoke a little loud, and Jack turned to look at them. When Aaron didn’t get up and come and get Jack, the boy started to play again.

“I do. He’s a good agent. The kind of analyst that goes on loan to any department as well as working his own projects. He loves paper trails from what he has said.”

“How do you know him?”

“Research for that fiction book my publisher wants me to write. He’s smart, and I think that Jack would like him.”

“And what exactly do you want him to do with Jack?”

“He might show Jack that it’s okay to be mute. Jack’s scared. We both know what has caused Jack to be silent and while yes talking about it will make the boy feel better, also showing him that if he never speaks again, it’s still okay. Show him that even those who can’t or won’t speak can still become FBI agents. Jack looks up to you and showing him a mute FBI agent will do him some good.”

“You’ve thought a lot about this.”

“Look the kid, the FBI agent kid that is, he’s smart, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t love to see him in the unit, but he’s still a ways from wanting that.”

“You want him in the BAU.”

“He has four Ph.D.’s, Aaron and I can’t remember how many BAs and BSs. One of those is in psychology. He lectures with Alex Blake at Georgetown. The one I went to was packed. The seats, the floor, the aisles, and anywhere that someone could squeeze in. At least let him meet Jack. He might be able to help you get some help for Jack in the area. It’s better than going about this blindly.”

“Okay. I agree that Jack and him meeting would be good. I do not promise anything else. If Jack doesn’t like him, I’m taking Jack somewhere else.”

“Why don’t I make plans to meet him tomorrow morning at that park that Jack loves to play soccer at?”

“Sure. I can talk with him about the best places to get help for Jack. Make sure he knows that we don’t know enough sign language to talk to him without help.”

“I will and don’t worry. He’s good at making sure that people can understand him.”

Aaron wasn’t sure that he liked that look on Dave’s face, but Jack waved him over, and Aaron went to play with his son, so he wasn’t able to interrogate the man.


Spencer still didn’t understand why Rossi had got ahold of him again. Foyet was dead, the word was that the Hotchner family was headed home. Everything was back to normal for Spencer. Yet, Rossi had asked to meet him at a park. Spencer had tried to duck it, but Rossi had just stated that he would drop in on him at work and would be obnoxious. Everything was already messed up at work because it had made the rounds that Spencer’s unit was the one who had found Foyet. Spencer had made sure that it wasn’t talked about outside of the unit.

Still, a park was a bizarre spot for them to meet. Other than when Rossi had come to the lecture at Georgetown, they had only talked via text. Spencer gripped his tablet tight in his hand as he scanned the people milling around the park. There were plenty of kids, there were plenty of parents watching the kids, but Rossi wasn’t visible. Spencer sighed and figured that man had to be late, so he found a bench and sat down, he set down his messenger bag on the bench next to him, to save the spot for Rossi. Spencer woke up the tablet and opened up the Go game that had been started the night before with a man in Russia.

“Jack, be careful,” a voice yelled out from behind Spencer, and it made him look up to see a boy who looked to be around four kicking a soccer ball around in the broad expanse of the park but nowhere near the actual soccer fields on the far side of the park. Spencer turned his head to follow the voice to where it had come from and gasped when he saw that it was Agent Hotchner. Spencer looked back at the boy, Jack, the name was only known from the file. There had been no picture of Jack in the file, for safety’s sake. There had been pictures of Agent Hotchner though. Detailed pictures of his injuries as well as his work file. Parts had been redacted, but victimology was a big part of finding out why a serial killer went after who they did. Spencer knew too much about the man’s life.

The movement just behind Agent Hotchner had Spencer looking up. Rossi was there with a tray of drinks in his hand. Spencer saw that there were three drinks in his hand. He passed one over to Agent Hotchner and took one for himself before setting the third down still in the cup holder on the bench next to him. Spencer didn’t move. Why would Rossi want to talk to him with Agent Hotchner and his son there?

It wasn’t until Spencer had decided that he didn’t care if Rossi showed up in his unit and talked to him that Rossi even noticed that Spencer was there. Rossi waved, and before Spencer could escape, Agent Hotchner was looking at him. Spencer knew that he had two choices and really only one of them was one that he could do. If he turned around and left, his chances of getting into the BAU someday were slim to none. If he moved forwards towards them, he wouldn’t be damaging his career. Rossi waved, and Spencer waved back before he pushed one foot in front of the other.

Hello, Agents Hotchner and Rossi,” Spencer tapped out onto his tablet when he got close enough for the speakers on his tablet to be loud enough to be heard. He was able to see Agent Hotchner entirely now and was a little shocked to see him out of a suit. Spencer hadn’t seen a lot of the man at work, but every single time that he did, he was in a full suit while the majority of the team wore business casual, and when it came to Rossi, sometimes just casual.

Spencer was bewildered by the look of utter shock on Agents Hotchner’s face.

What can I do for you, Agent Rossi?” Spencer did not move closer, even when Rossi held up the third cup towards him. Rossi gave him a look that he was exasperated with Spencer and set the coffee cup down on the ground. Spencer still didn’t take the coffee.

“I got you one of those horribly sweet things that I heard you order at that coffee shop close to the Hoover building.”

Spencer just looked at Rossi, glancing towards Agent Hotchner. Spencer wasn’t looking at Agent Hotchner but wholly focused on Rossi, hoping to get him to do something, do anything really. So when the cup appeared in front of his face, Spencer jumped back. He looked at Agent Hotchner and saw that the man was grief-stricken. It wasn’t hard to see it all over him. His eyes were so sad, and his whole affect was bogged down. The cup moved towards him again, just a few inches and Spencer reached out and took it. The man gave him a small smile, it didn’t change his face anywhere except for his mouth. His eyes didn’t shine any brighter, except with maybe tears. Agent Hotchner’s forehead didn’t uncrease. There was nothing to show that smile meant anything more than something that Agent Hotchner knew he wanted people to see. Profilers and their ability to understand what people wanted to see to make others see them as people.

After making sure that when he sat down that his coffee wouldn’t spill, Spencer sat down on the ground just a foot from where Rossi and Agent Hotchner’s feet were. He would need both hands to use his tablet to talk to them, and standing was stupid as it would mean that he would have to hold his drink with the crook of his arm. Spencer crossed his legs and settled the drink into the crook made between his legs and settled the tablet on the valley also made by his legs. He looked at Rossi, waiting for the man to speak.

“Dave,” Agent Hotchner said.

“Yes, yes. Aaron, this is Agent Spencer Reid. His actual department that he works for has some name that I am not bothered to remember. Reid, this is Agent Aaron Hotchner, you can call him Hotch…is your tablet programmed with that?”

Yes, it has been programmed with the name Hotch. I add names whenever I meet people, and it was a given that I would at some point meet other members of your team, so I made sure that all formal names, as well as nicknames, were programmed into my speech program.

“That’s nothing less than what I would expect from you. Anyway, I am sure that you have heard the scuttlebutt around the FBI offices about what happened with the capture and death of the Boston Reaper, George Foyet.”

There has been a lot of chatter yes.” Spencer wasn’t sure what the hell Rossi wanted him there for. Rossi was playing it like Spencer had nothing to do with taking down Foyet and Spencer were fine with that. The Director of the FBI had been the one to seal that case file and Spencer’s own notes on it. Spencer understood the need for secrecy, he had no clue why the BAU wasn’t allowed to know who had tracked Foyet down in the end, but he would do what he was told. Especially since he wasn’t personally invested in the people of the BAU. Hell, he figured that once it was done, he would never hear from Rossi again. The man had promised to help him try and get into the BAU but promises made when friend’s lives were on the line really meant nothing. Spencer had let the hope that it was a possibility enter his mind. If it had been Martin, Spencer would have promised the world to someone to save him.

“Good. I know that the truth rarely ever goes around, but there is always a little bit of the truth in gossip. So what do you know?”

Spencer quirked an eyebrow at Rossi, asking him silently if he really wanted Spencer to answer that question. Spencer knew a lot of things, and he was pretty sure that most of them, Rossi cared nothing about.

“Let me rephrase that. What do you know about the aftermath of the Foyet case?”

Spencer looked at Agent Hotchner and waited for him to acknowledge that he didn’t care what Spencer said. Agent Hotchner’s gaze was not on Spencer though, he was looking directly behind Spencer his eyes moving just slightly enough to tell Spencer that Jack was walking around behind him. When Agent Hotchner didn’t look at him, Spencer decided that he should just keep his mouth shut.

I’ve not heard a lot of rumors about what has happened after. I would assume it’s because Agent Hotchner is not back at work yet.

“You can call me Hotch, Reid.” Hotch never looked at Spencer when he said the words, but his face softened a little bit from staring at his son. “And what Dave is trying to say without upsetting me is that there were a lot of consequences of sending my son into Witness Protection.”

Hotch turned and finally looked at Spencer, his gaze felt like he was looking straight through Spencer and into his soul.

“Have you ever worked with children or even adults that have suffered from the traumatic loss of voice?”

That question from Hotch shocked Spencer, he was sure that the profiler was filing away the emotions and reactions on his face and profiling him, but he didn’t care. Spencer had only met a single person who had suffered from the traumatic loss of voice, and she had been an adult, and it had come after she had been horribly gang raped after a date. She had been part of a group that Spencer sometimes went to when he needed to be around those like him. The last time that he had seen her, she still hadn’t got her voice back, and she had admitted that her psychologist was worried that she would never get it back.

I have met a single adult. Most children are sheltered by their parents and are generally not put into group therapy settings with adults if the parents seek help for them outside of ASL.

“Why don’t they seek help?” Hotch asked, his eyes darting away before coming back to rest on Spencer’s face.

It’s easier for the parents, mentally, to try and act like there is nothing changed. That it’s just like an illness that will go away if no one mentions it. It’s not the best way to handle a child like that, but they are scared. Acting like it’s going to change and just go away with nothing being done does not help the afflicted children. Usually, the routine going of back to normal and more time around the family helps. Most of the time, it’s just time. Time for the brain to realize that nothing is wrong anymore, for the trauma to fade. That can take years though.” Spencer watched Hotch’s face as he talked. Trying to figure out which one was traumatized mute from what had happened, whether it was the ex-wife or the child, Jack.

The sound of thudding footsteps told Spencer that someone was running up behind him. He hunched down a little, covering his tablet from damage and making sure that his coffee didn’t spill. His move did not go unnoticed by the looks on both profiler’s faces, but Spencer didn’t care at all. His reflexes had saved his life a few times. The boy, Jack, ran to his father and Spencer expected to hear a loud exclamation about how tired he was, or hungry, or anything at all really, but instead Spencer watched as the boy made a few careful signs. Spencer knew what the boy asked, but it seemed by the look of confusion on Hotch’s face that the man didn’t. That answered the question on who was mute because if the child had used sign before this, Hotch would have known what he said.

He’s thirsty,” Spencer tapped out on his tablet. Jack turned around quickly and looked at Spencer as if noticing him for the first time. Jack stared at him and cocked his head. Like he was trying to figure Spencer out without someone helping him.

“Hello, my name is Jack Hotchner. Do you know sign language?” Jack asked. His fingers moved faster than they had before, testing Spencer and how quick he could read fingers.

Spencer smiled at the boy before sliding his tablet a little closer to his coffee so it wouldn’t fall to the ground and lifted his hands. “My name is Spencer Reid, and I do know sign language.”

Jack looked Spencer up and down a little more before his eyes settled on something at Spencer’s waist. The boy darted forward before Spencer could process and grabbed something. Jack clutched it in his hand and spun around to his father. His fingers tried to sign something but with the item in his hand, he was having trouble. Hotch reached forward and took the item from his son and held it up.

“I’ve told you not to touch ID badges on people, Jack.”

Jack just ignored his father’s words and signed towards him, very quickly to where Spencer could barely understand. Still, Spencer reached down to tap out what the boy said.

He’s excited that I’m an agent, like you, and knows sign language. It’s no harm, no foul but your father is correct Jack, you shouldn’t grab badges from people.

Jack’s body turned around, and he looked down at the tablet, seeing Spencer’s fingers still resting just above it. Jack took the badge from his father and moved over to stand in front of Spencer. They were nearly eye to eye with Spencer sitting on the ground. Jack crouched and then settled on his knees, staring at the tablet. He handed the badge over, and Spencer slipped it inside of his bag, forgetting that it had even been on his person.

“May I?” Jack asked with his fingers. Spencer turned the tablet around and let it rest in the valley between his legs.

This is how I talk to those that don’t understand sign language.” Spencer tapped out the words on the screen. Jack’s eyes were riveted to Spencer’s fingers as he did. The boy didn’t reach out to touch like most kids did, even when Spencer wasn’t using it to talk at all. The tablet was a magnet to most kids Jack’s age.

“This is cool,” Jack said, his fingers very careful and sure. The boy was good at sign language. Spencer wondered precisely how long he had been using it. Spencer looked up at Hotch.

“Jack, why don’t you go with Uncle Dave. He’ll get you one of those slush things you like from the stand across the street.”

Jack nodded and looked at the tablet again before he smiled at Spencer got up to his feet and took Rossi’s hand. Spencer watched them walk away before he turned back to look at Hotch. Hotch surprised him by sitting down on the ground, a little closer to Spencer, leaning back into the bench.

“Just a week into being place in WitSec, Haley, my ex-wife, died. Brain cancer that had gone undetected. My ex-sister-in-law was pulled in to take care of Jack, instead of just placing him in foster care for which I am happy for. Jack has not spoken a word since he has been told that his mother was dead. The psychologist that was placed over his care in the new city tried, but she was unable it seemed to connect to him. She got him into an ASL class and by her notes and his teacher in that class he learns the signs like a sponge. I’ve learned a few important words like hungry, yes, no, and other simple things. It’s been a hard for me to wrap my mind around this. When Jessica showed up instead of Haley, it was hard.”

I’m sorry for the loss of her.” Spencer wasn’t sure what else he could say on that. While she had been his ex-wife, it seemed that there were still feelings there. Spencer wasn’t sure what the correct thing to say to someone who lost their ex-wife. Spencer looked over to where he could just make out Rossi and Jack across the street at the little shop that catered to the families that came to the park. Spencer had eaten there a few times when he was enjoying the weather. He really liked the sauce that they had for their hotdogs.

“Thank you. I’m sorry that I never did the actual introduction.” Hotch leaned forward some and held out his hand. “It is good to meet you.”

I don’t shake hands.

“Ah.” Hotch looked like he wasn’t shocked, which made the next words a shock to Spencer. “Germaphobe?”

No.” Spencer wanted to glare at him, but he didn’t. It wasn’t his fault. He was still too damned new to the community. Hell, he had probably only known about his mute son for a week or two, that he was reaching out was good. “If I didn’t have my tablet, I would only have a single way of talking that wasn’t pencil and paper, and that is sign language. I protect my hands at all costs because even to write I need them. I haven’t shaken hands since I was five and a kid on the playground decided that he didn’t like how I talked so he thought that breaking my fingers would make me talk with my voice.

The look on Hotch’s face made Spencer want to see if he could find a trash can for the man to throw up in. Spencer wasn’t going to sugar coat this. Hotch had a long road ahead of him with a son that going to be mute for who knew how long. His life was going to change, and it was going to change a lot.

Spencer only knew of Hotch’s reputation around the FBI. As a father, he wasn’t seen in the best light, given his adherence to the job, despite the loss of his wife. Spencer though could understand that. He had sacrificed a lot to get to where he was, and he wasn’t going to let someone else rob him of it.

“That’s…” Hotch looked at a loss for words.

Bullies are bullies no matter their age. He was raised to not understand the differences in humans. Just like prejudice against those who have a different color of skin or different sexual preferences.” Spencer didn’t know why he said the last one. He could have left it at the color of skin, but he had to stick his foot in it.

“I have never understood it since I was a child. I was raised by a man who hated anyone for being different than him. Race, color, religion, sexuality, it didn’t matter. He hated everything that wasn’t powerful and white and a lawyer.”

Spencer didn’t know what to answer to that, so he kept silent.

“I don’t know much about the mute community at all. I don’t understand much at all that has to do with any of this, and I would rather reach out for help than flounder. It’s not in me to not do my best, especially when it comes to my son.” Hotch looked out towards where Rossi and Jack were walking back. Spencer saw that they had four drinks with them. Spencer picked up his coffee and drank it. It was just cold enough for him to be able to chug.

I can help you with names and places. There is an awesome community center that caters to those with visual, auditory, or voice deformities. I can give you the address.

“That would be great.”

Jack sat down beside Spencer, a look of happiness on his face as he looked up at Spencer and held up the two drinks.

“Jack wanted to get you one as well. We weren’t sure if you liked blue or red and Jack likes both so whichever one you want you can have,” Rossi supplied helpfully.

“Really?” Spencer asked Jack. Jack nodded his head very quickly. He moved so much and so fast that the drinks his hand started to shake. Spencer took the blue from Jack with a smile then he took the red as well. He set them both down carefully and stood up. Wait here. I’ll be right back.

Spencer waited for Jack to nod his agreeance before he took off running towards the place where Jack had got the drinks. He used universal sign language to point at the larger cups and the long spoons. He mimed mixing two drinks together and then spitting them back out, and the teenager running the place gladly handed over what Spencer wanted.

When he got back to the place where Jack, Hotch, and Rossi were, Spencer sat down again and picked up both drinks, pouring them into the larger cup and using the straw to mix them around. When he poured it back out into their cups, they both had a purple drink. Spencer grabbed his tablet so that everyone could understand him.

Purple is my favorite color.” Spencer handed Jack his drink with the lid back on and straw still inside before he took a swig of his. Jack took a large drink and showed his tongue to his dad when he was done.

“You do have a purple tongue, Jack, and teeth.” Hotch was smiling, and the smile at least reached his eyes a little bit that time. He looked very handsome when he smiled, Spencer thought as Spencer looked away.

Rossi laughed. Jack beamed and took another drink of his slushie. Jack leaned into Spencer’s side a little as he drank his slushie. Spencer looked at the two profilers, but they were both staring at their drinks. Spencer waited them out.

Jack handed his drink to his father several minutes later and signed at Spencer, asking if he would ask his father if he could go play more.

“Of course, just stay in my sight, please.”

Jack nodded and took off towards where his ball was five feet away.

Why do you want me here? Rossi could have got the information from me about places where Jack would be good to go to.

“I forced him to allow me to introduce you. Trust is slim in our line of work, and right now, Jack has no one that he’ll trust outside of the team. You are an FBI agent, and to Jack, that means that you can be trusted. Right now that means everything to him.” Rossi looked at Spencer like he was going to make Jack talk again.

Why would he trust me?”

“Aaron is a superhero in his son’s eyes, all FBI agents are. And right now I think that Jack needs a superhero FBI agent who is mute as well, to show him that it’s okay to be who he is.”

Spencer pulled his hands back from the tablet. That was a lot to put on Spencer’s shoulders for a kid that he had only known for under an hour, but still, Spencer turned his head to see Jack playing with the soccer ball on his own. The thought of kids, having one and raising it, had been something that Spencer hadn’t thought a lot about. Not since he realized that not only was the schizophrenia that his mother had was genetic but so was the deformity that he had been born with. Spencer didn’t like the chances of passing either one onto a child, much less both of them. Spencer wouldn’t play Russian Roulette with a kids life. He hoped that he’d be able to find a woman who wanted to adopt or even use a sperm donor, or a male who wanted to adopt or even use a surrogate with his DNA and not Spencer’s.

Jack would play for close to a minute before looking over at his father. His eyes would dart to Rossi and even to Spencer before he went back to playing.

I will agree to help him find a tutor and a school in the area that he likes. I don’t mind helping him and you Agent Hotchner.

“Thank you. That tablet that you use to talk, what is that?” Hotch moved around to where he could look at the tablet and Spencer allowed him into his space.

I had a friend who made the software, the tablet is inconsequential. It’s just the best on the market at current. The transferring of the database takes some time when I get a new one, but it’s worth it as sometimes on my phone or tablet the program gets a little bit laggy when I talk fast. On the laptop, I can type really fast using the software.

“That’s great. What would the program cost?”

Raven doesn’t sell it. The program is free to all who want to download. The version that I have is not available to the public. I think that I am five versions ahead of what is made available to the public. I’m her first test phase, but I always keep a tablet with the stable version on hand at work and when I am in the field. This is not something that Jack needs though. He needs to learn ASL and how to talk with his hands. That’s going to help him more in the long run. That’s going to be better for him. This program is as much a hindrance in my daily life as it is a help. When I am with my girlfriend, she doesn’t like me talking to her about it. I don’t know why but she sometimes seems to really hate it.

“That sounds…frustrating,” Rossi said, chiming into the conversation.

Yes, well. I’ve taught her a little bit of sign language but not a lot so that we can talk some that way, but she doesn’t seem to like it either.

“I would have thought that you would date within the community, as it were.”

The non-verbal community and the non-hearing communities are not as close as one would think and while there is some overlap, those who can’t hear but can speak but choose not to look down on those of us who are mute. The disability communities are just like the rest of the humans, there is prejudice everywhere.

“Do you know a good tutor that can help me learn ASL while teaching Jack as well?”

The schools should have good ones on hand for Jack. For you, given your work schedule, I think that books will be the best way to go. There are also classes that you can go to when you are home through the center I am going to send you to.

“That sounds good. I’ll give you my personal email to send it all to. Thank you, Agent Reid.”

You are welcome, Agent Hotchner. I am glad to help in any way that I can.” Spencer looked at the time on his watch. He was supposed to meet Andrea for lunch, and he was already going to be late. “I have a thing that I need to get to. I’ll go say my goodbyes to Jack and Rossi. Have a good day.

Spencer shoved himself up to his feet, his tablet going into his bag, slipped inside of its case before he made his way over to Jack. Spencer had a short conversation with the boy about him needing to leave. Jack didn’t like it, but he understood. When Spencer got to the edge of the park, he looked back to see Jack looking at him. Spencer waved, and Jack waved back. Hotch was watching Jack with a stern eye, and Spencer knew his father would do what was needed to make sure that Jack had everything that Jack needed to succeed in life, no matter when or even if he got his voice back.

Chapter 5-July 2009

Aaron watched Jack sleep, a tumbler of scotch in his hand. The boy was frustrated, and so was Aaron. They had met with three different tutors and two local schools, and none of them fit with Jack. Jack had cried himself to sleep in Aaron’s arms every night since the meet and greets had started. Aaron wasn’t sure what was wrong with the boy, but he was getting to his wits end over it.

There was also the fact that the two therapists that Jack had met with so far were less than desirable for Aaron, much less Jack. The first had wanted to meet with Jack alone, even after the boy had started to cry when the man had threatened to throw him out of the office before Aaron just left with Jack. Aaron hated that it was so hard to find Jack what he needed. Aaron was half tempted to find an adult therapist and just go with them for now because Jack needed to talk with someone that wasn’t him or Jessica.

Aaron hadn’t indulged in a single drink since he had been released from the hospital and even the one he had in his hand wasn’t making him happy, but it wasn’t hurting him either. It was the last of what was in the apartment, and right now, Aaron didn’t have plans to go out and get more.

The new Section Chief had stopped by for a visit just hours before, interrupting dinner but Jack hadn’t been eating anyway so Aaron had him go to his room with a pack of peanut butter and cheese crackers to snack on if he got hungry.

Jack Applehorn had been known to Aaron from when he had been in SWAT. What Aaron knew of him from then and the scuttlebutt from the people that Aaron kept in contact with from his days in SWAT said that he would be a perfect Section Chief for the BAU and the IRT. Aaron was looking forward to going back to work when he had Jack settled in. Aaron was working at home on case files, he had been cleared to work again by medical and psychological doctors. In fact, Aaron had been given a stellar review by the psychologist that he had seen. Aaron had been given a copy of it from Applehorn before Aaron had left. Still, Aaron knew that he was going to be watched.

Aaron had offered dinner to Applehorn, it wasn’t much just macaroni and cheese, one of the few things that Aaron had been able to get Jack to agree to eat that wasn’t sugar related. Applehorn had eaten it while they talked.

“I know that I am stepping in at a very touchy time. I would have never allowed your team to be called in to that case. We are lucky that Brannon’s flesh wound on his thigh is the worst of it,” Applehorn had started out the conversation.

“I would have made sure that Strauss knew where she could shove the case. As I put in my report that Dave took into work, I was going to hold her responsible if my team had lost someone.”

“The higher ups are already combing through every single infraction she set against someone. From the moment that she was put into place until the moment that she left. There is already a group of section chiefs at the Hoover building going through it all.”

“That’s a big deal.”

“The first was your jacket. Everything that Strauss had ever done to you. Morgan, JJ, Brannon, Prentiss, and Garcia are being interviewed about what happened on that college campus, and Rossi is doing the interviews with them. He’s treating them better than anyone else would.”

“Dave’s been keeping me up to speed on things, but I didn’t know that.”

“He was told to keep it quiet because I was coming to see you and tell you today. For a while, I will be keeping a close eye on your team. Brannon is seriously debating his placement on it, and I would rather not have anything happen again like it did with Gideon or Greenaway.”

“I don’t want that either. We seem to bounce from one crisis to another. I’m glad that a new Section Chief was found quickly. That will help settle things down.”

“I have the actual recording of the conversation that took place between Strauss and Agent Jareau. It’s not pretty, and even Agent Jareau stated the bylaws for the BAU that make sure that teams rest between cases, especially hard psychological cases and even with the status updates that you gave over the case, I knew that the case was horrible. I would have never let the team take the case. The tertiary team was headed home after getting out to a case in California and coming home just as fast because the UnSub was killed by an almost victim just as they were landing.”

“I wish that I would have been able to stop what happened after.”

“I know that you are moved back into your old house, and I commend that, with all that is going on with your son. If you need anything, Hotch, just ask it. The team will be waiting for you when you return, or you can take the retirement offer that is being offered. I have the details at the office, but it’s a damned good offer.”

“Do I have to make a decision now?”

“Nope. It’s an open-ended offer that’s good from now until you use it. Jack’s four right now and with all that is going on with him, six months or even two years or ten from now it could change. This offer comes from the Director himself and will never go away.”

“It’s a generous offer.”

“I’ll email it to your work email. Did Rossi bring your laptop to you to work on case files and write-ups while you are at home getting Jack settled?”

“Yes. I’ll look it over and let you know as soon as possible.”

That had been four hours ago. Aaron looked at the glass of scotch in his hand and thought about the offer. He hadn’t even thought about retirement. It hadn’t even crossed his mind at all, but now that it was there, it was all that he could think about. Between whatever retirement the FBI offered him and his Hotchner trust fund, Aaron could live for the rest of his life and Jack’s without having to work again.

Aaron drained the last bit of the scotch and moved to wash out the tumbler in the kitchen. He stood there looking at the dishes in the drainer and the evidence of his life with Jack. Jessica was still getting things settled in the basement, but at the moment she was away for a two-day training seminar for her job. Aaron was working a little in the mornings on helping her finish what she wanted to be done to the walls.

The chirp of Aaron’s phone distracted him from his thoughts. He looked to where his phone was sitting on the table. Pushing off of the counter, Aaron grabbed the phone and unlocked it. It was from Dave.

How are you holding up after what happened today?

Aaron chuckled. Dave was trying to not act nosy but being only a little nosy.

Jack’s asleep for now, but I’m bracing for a nightmare at some point. I’m relaxing after Applehorn’s visit.

There was no time at all before Aaron’s phone flashed again. He knew that Dave would not hesitate to jump on it since Aaron had opened the door.

And what did our new Section Chief want?

To offer me retirement if I so wished. According to him, it’s an excellent package. He also let me know about you interviewing the team about the college case that was Gideon’s last as a precursor to all infractions against the team being looked at.

The state of the BAU under Strauss’s reign is being looked at hard, and there are quite a few things that are coming to light, and it’s only the first day. Applehorn told me that if it weren’t for you taking over a few things, the department would be a lot worse off. Why didn’t you ever tell me any of this?

Aaron snorted as he looked at his phone. He moved towards the fridge and grabbed one of his bottles of water. The call of the couch was too much to resist, and Aaron sat down on it, relaxing back and propping his feet up on the coffee table.

There is not much to tell. A lot of it was things that she had me do, and I did it to keep the department running smoothly. Instead of making waves, I was waiting because someone was going to notice something at some point.

Aaron frowned as he stared at his phone. He wanted to talk to someone, and it wasn’t Dave. Yet, the only contact that Aaron had for Reid was email, and that just didn’t seem right for what he wanted to discuss with the man. He didn’t have a TTY phone in his home or access to a relay for it but if he could get Reid’s cell phone number. He wondered if Dave had it.

On a different note, Dave. Do you have a cell phone number for Reid? I had a few things I wanted his help on.

We’ll talk work when you get back to work, but as to Reid, I won’t give you his cell but I will text him and give him yours if you agree and it’s up to him if he wants to text back to you.

That sounds fine. Thank you, Dave. I have some things that I need to do at the moment, so if I don’t answer, I’ll get to you as soon as possible.

Aaron set down his phone and grabbed the list of psychiatrists that he had been given by Jack’s former in whatever city he and Jessica had been in. There were three names marked out with the black Sharpie. Five other names were marked out with the pen after Aaron had done research on them. The page under it was the tutor list that Aaron had been given by Reid and under that page was the schools. That list was a lot different as Aaron wasn’t pushing to get that done yet. He really wanted to find a good school for Jack.

There was a stack of papers about the school that Reid had sent him. Aaron had printed out everything that he could find on all of them, but the thing was that he kept going back to one school that was actually very close to Quantico, just over in Dumfries. New Haven was a private school with a not too bad tuition for being private and upscale like it was. The students that were part of the initial class had just graduated the year before and were scattered across the world at top schools. Five deaf kids were going there at the moment, but none were younger than fifth grade.

Jack and Aaron had an appointment there the following morning, and Aaron was a little apprehensive because he didn’t know what he was going to do if Jack didn’t like the school. Aaron had taken Jack to a few others first just to build up to New Haven.

Aaron spent the next hour going over the other schools, find a few more that he liked that could take a student like Jack for the preschool portion of the school. None of them were ones that Aaron liked, but he would make whatever Jack wanted his priority. New Haven was the top of Reid’s list for Jack for the fact that every teacher knew ASL. The school was well protected and was able to run like it was due to Government grants and the fact that many movers and shakers in the DC area sent their kids there if they showed any aptitude for the sciences.

The alert for an unknown number sending Aaron a text went off, and Aaron looked down at his phone for a few seconds before picking it up. He opened the text.

Agent Hotchner, this is Doctor Reid. Agent Rossi said that you wanted to talk to me.

Aaron smiled as he read the words. It sounded very much like Reid.

Thank you for getting back to me quickly. Jack’s having trouble talking to me about why he doesn’t like any of the tutors that have come over to see him and there is not a single psychiatrist that I like that we have met yet.

Aaron waited for words to come over the screen but nothing came over it. Aaron waited for nearly ten minutes before his phone vibrated in his hand. He unlocked it and stared at the screen.

This is better-done person to person. Can you text me your address or a place that you want to meet?

Aaron thought about it for two minutes. He didn’t invite many people to his house. The team had never been invited when he had been married to Haley and never invited to his apartment. Of course, all of them had been over after the attack. Aaron wasn’t sure that he wanted to invite the younger man over.

However, just as Aaron was getting ready to text Reid that they could meet up tomorrow, Jack came running out of his room and jumped right into Aaron’s lap. Aaron texted Reid his address as soon as he was able to fumble his phone into his left hand. Aaron looked at the time on his phone and saw that it was just after ten. Jack should have been asleep for longer considering that he had cried himself to sleep.

“Jack, buddy, what’s wrong?” Aaron asked, but Jack just shook his head, rubbing his face all over Aaron’s shirt. Aaron manipulated Jack around to where the boy was straddling his waist, his face tucked into Aaron’s chest. He had a feeling that Jack had another nightmare and given the way that the boy’s frame was shaking, Aaron was pretty sure that it was a bad one.

Five minutes later, Aaron heard a knock on his door. It was a strange knock, and it took Aaron from the time that he stood up until the time that he was checking the peephole to place it as Shave and a Haircut. Aaron chuckled despite himself as he realized that it was Reid. Which was odd considering that it hadn’t taken the man long at all to get to his place. Aaron opened the door just as Reid was raising his hand to knock again. Reid looked startled to see Aaron opening the door, but he covered it well so that Jack wouldn’t notice.

“Thank you for coming over. Please come in.”

Jack didn’t even move to look to see who it was and that worried Aaron. He just kept his head buried in Aaron’s chest. Aaron went to the kitchen and grabbed one of the bottles of water out of the fridge and handed it to Reid before directing him to take a seat in one of the chairs. Reid nodded his head in thanks before he cracked the seal and took a drink. Aaron wasn’t shocked to see him balancing his phone on his knee. Aaron sat down in the same spot that he had been in before Reid had got there. The paperwork on New Haven was still visible on the table, and Reid’s eyes were on it.

What’s going on?” Reid asked.

Jack’s entire body stiffened, and he jerked his head off of his father’s chest, spinning to look at Reid. Aaron wasn’t ready for his son to nearly shooting off of his lap, scrambling over the coffee table. Reid’s arms shot out to catch the boy as the papers gave under his feet and he nearly face-planted. Reid pulled Jack up and into his lap his hands moving over Jack’s legs and his stomach, checking him for injuries. Given how Reid had acted that day in the park, Aaron was shocked to see a move like that in his repertoire.

As soon as Jack was settled, his hands and fingers started to move. Aaron was only catching every third to fifth word, but he could tell that Reid understood it all. After about a minute of Jack signing, Reid reached over and laid his hands on Jack’s, Jack stilled. Reid signed something back to him, and Jack answered with a no. That one Aaron knew well. Reid looked at Aaron briefly and signed something back to the boy. Jack nodded his head that time. Jack slid backward off of Reid’s lap before he took off running to his bedroom.

“What’s going on?”

He had a nightmare, and it was just run of the mill that he seems to have had before. He described a lot of detail which means that he has had it before. Losing not only his mother but you and Jessica to the hands of Foyet. Or the Bad Man George as Jack calls him. He didn’t go into too many details about how you all died, but I know that he needs a psychiatrist. I think I know what part of his problem is.

“What?” Aaron asked.

Jack is young but what is your IQ?”

“The last time that I was tested was when I went to college, and it was 150.”

And your ex-wife?”

“Her’s was never tested, but she did well in college, and she was by no means dumb. Why?”

I’ve not talked with Jack but two times now but he understands a lot more than most kids his age should, and he is learning sign language very quickly, even with him just learning things from his Aunt Jessica at the moment?” Reid waited for Aaron to nod before he went on. “I see that you have a bit of information on New Haven there. It’s a good school, and I think for Jack’s intelligence it will be a good school for him.

“He hasn’t liked any of the three schools that we have looked at.”

New Haven has tried four times to get me to come to the school and teach. As it is, I go just about every year and do a class with the learning, physical, or mental disabilities about succeeding in life. I will also help with some of the higher IQ students and help them figure out what they want to do in life so that an education plan can be made. New Haven would be good for him, and I bet that you like how close it is to Quantico and with the security.

“I do like the security. Would you be willing to go with us tomorrow morning? I know that it’s a Saturday and I know that you really have no stake in this, but I’m worried about Jack not giving it a chance and just shutting down.”

Let’s play it by ear. I don’t want to make Jack think that I’ll come running whenever he wants.” Reid’s body language was off. He was upset by something, and Aaron didn’t know what it was. It had been off before Aaron had brought up him going with them, but now it was even worse.

“What’s wrong?” Aaron asked. He looked back towards Jack’s bedroom, and the light was still on, and he could hear noises, but he wasn’t sure what those sounds were. He was sort of afraid to go and check.

Jack is finding a book that he wants you to read to him for bed tonight, and he wants to sleep in your bed. He said that if he did, the monsters would stay away from his dreams and stop turning them into nightmares. Jack wants me to be his tutor and yours for ASL.”

“I didn’t know that.”

It’s why he doesn’t like any of the tutors or the schools. Given that it’s summer, you have time to get him into a school, but he’s going to fight you. You might have to make a choice based on what is best for him and not what he thinks is best.

“I will if I have to.”

No, you won’t. Letting Jack choose his school and his tutor outside of him and the tutor getting along is what you are going to do. He doesn’t need that. Yes, what has happened is upsetting and Jack does need some control over his life, but I would suggest you visit New Haven, meet the teachers there, meet the Principal and go with what you feel is best for him. Give him the option of New Haven or one of the schools he already hates. Jack might dislike you for a few days, but he will get over it. I think that he’ll like New Haven, once he’s adjusted. Thankfully, he has only been in pre-school classes elsewhere because otherwise, this fight would be worse. He would expect to have that, and he’s not going to get that.”

Aaron was shocked by Reid’s bluntness. It reminded him a lot of Gideon and Aaron wasn’t sure that it was a comparison that he should have made. He was upset with Reid for pointing out what Aaron knew would happen too. Aaron mentally applauded Reid’s ability to profile him. No one else would have been able to do that except for maybe Dave. Of course, Dave knew him best in the world. Jessica might have been able to figure it all out, and he was glad that she was coming home in the morning. Aaron just hoped that she got there before they had to go to New Haven. He wanted her at his back.

Jack came back into the room with a book in his hand. He was staring at Reid, but Reid was focused on Aaron, and Jack stopped looking at him and crawled into his father’s lap after nearly a minute. Jack sat sideways in Aaron’s lap so that he could look at Reid. Jack showed Aaron the book, and Aaron smiled at it. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was part of the collection of Newbery books that Aaron had bought to read to Jack. Aaron had found ones that better fit Jack’s age level and what was appropriate for the boy as well. Aaron’s eyes caught Reid signing something at Jack, the boy pouted before he nodded at the genius. Spencer signed something else, and Aaron knew that he was asking about talking to someone. Aaron wasn’t going to ask Reid to tell him everything.

I know someone that might be the kind of therapist that Jack needs. She is not on the approved list that you have from the FBI so you will have to see about getting her clearance for the Foyet files and for Jack to be able to talk to her without reservation but I think that she would gladly sign whatever is needed. She meets with prospective students for local colleges who are below the age of eighteen. She is used to dealing with high IQ students and those that can be challenging, I think that she and Jack will get along. I’ll text you her name and address of her practice.

“Thank you,” Aaron said.

I’ve had a long day at work and was just three blocks over at a restaurant finishing up dinner before I went home, so that’s what I am going to do.” Reid stood up and signed goodbye to Jack. Jack signed farewell back but appeared listless when he did it. Aaron looked down to see that his eyes were barely open. Aaron wrapped his arm around Jack’s back and shifted him to where he could stand with Jack tucked into his body. He stepped in front of Reid to open the front door of the house. Aaron saw Reid’s car parked along the street. He was shocked at what it was, an old Amazon. Aaron waited until Reid was pulling away from the curb before he stepped inside and shut the door, setting the alarm. Jack was clutching the book in his hands as Aaron started up the steps. The light was still on in Jack’s room, casting the light down the stairs as Aaron climbed them. Jack hadn’t asked to sleep in his bed, and even when he woke up from nightmares, Jack didn’t seem to want to go to Aaron’s bed. Aaron would make sure in the morning to let Jack know that it was fine that he wanted to sleep in Aaron’s bed.


Spencer stepped out into the night air. It was later than he would like given that he needed to be at work early but Spencer knew that if he called, he could come in an hour or so late, but he hated to do that. Spencer watched the traffic move before he decided that he didn’t need to call a cab as one came down the street with the light lit up that it was on the clock, but the light saying that it was busy wasn’t lit up. Spencer waved it down as he grabbed his phone and prepped his address for it. His car was at the Hoover Building, and he would take the bus to work the next morning. It was too late to add time by running there to get his car.

“Where to?” the cab driver asked. He didn’t look startled when an electronic voice answered him. Instead, he just started the meter and drove off. Spencer settled down into the back seat and brought up the information about the weekend plays that were going on. Spencer had a season pass to The Kennedy Center, but he went all over to see plays when he had downtime, and he hadn’t gone to a play in weeks because of Andrea and his workload. A play sounded like the perfect thing for him to do the next night.

The ride was short, and before Spencer knew it, he was being pulled up to the front of the apartment. Spencer paid the driver the amount that was on the fare meter plus a tip for not making Spencer ask him to be quiet. The driver only gave his thanks as Spencer shut the cab door.

Spencer jumped when his phone chimed. He closed his eyes, asking for strength because he was pretty sure that it was Hotch, begging for him to come with them the next day. Spencer slipped his phone into his pocket as he slid his key in the lock to open the front door. He made sure to press the door closed once he was inside. He was tired, and he didn’t need a person entering after him and either robbing someone in the building or worse.

Inside the solace of his apartment, Spencer sighed as he slung his messenger bag over the coat rack. His gun was in his office where it would stay until he grabbed it when he got ready for work the next day. He didn’t like leaving it, but he did have a backup weapon in his safe in his apartment. It was a revolver, it wasn’t allowed as an FBI issue except in extreme cases. Spencer didn’t qualify as a special case because he wasn’t a field agent. He mainly worked from Hoover and only went into the field on an as-needed basis, and even then it was with others.

Digging his phone out of his pocket, Spencer woke the screen up and smiled as he saw that it wasn’t a text from Hotch, it was from Andrea. Spencer unlocked the phone and opened up the texting app. The smile slipped from his face as he read it. Andrea wanted him to spend the night.

Spencer flopped onto his couch, crossing his ankles, one over the other as he rested the bottom one on the arm of the couch. Curiosity chirped and jumped down from where he was sleeping on the top of one of Spencer’s bookcases. The cat dashed across the room and jumped onto Spencer’s stomach. Spencer huffed as the weight settled there before Curiosity moved up to love on Spencer’s face, ducking under Spencer’s steepled hands that were holding his phone. As soon as Curiosity’s face touched Spencer, the cat started to purr.

My big baby,” Spencer said with a smile, but he nuzzled back into Curiosity’s face, let the cat scent mark him to his heart’s content. Curiosity never paid attention to the phone or the tablet that actually spoke to him. It was part of why he had wanted a smarter breed, and Maine Coon’s were smart. It had taken the cat sometime after Spencer had got him for the cat to get used to the fact that Spencer’s mouth actually never spoke but he had never reacted badly to the phone or tablet. Spencer moved his left hand off of the phone so that he could pet down Curiosity’s back, giving him love back. “What do you think? Should I tell Andrea to come over?”

Curiosity cocked his head to the side and stared at Spencer for a few seconds before Spencer turned the phone around with the texting app open and not the speech one, showing Andrea’s face. Curiosity hunkered down on Spencer’s stomach, his purring dropping lowering in pitch, showing that he wasn’t happy.

I don’t know why you don’t like her,” Spencer mused as he petted down his cat’s back. Curiosity huffed against Spencer’s cheek before turning around to where his ass was showing to Spencer with his tail raised so that Spencer saw it all. “And there is the cheek.

Spencer laughed as he pushed Curiosity around to where at least Spencer wasn’t looking at the cat’s butthole. He tapped the section on the phone so that his speech app would close and he could text Andrea back.

I had a rough day at work and got home not too long ago. I don’t feel like going out right now, but I would not say no to some company.

Spencer laid his phone on his chest and waited for Andrea to text back. He used both hands to pet Curiosity who was finally purring loudly again. Curiosity walked around in a circle on Spencer’s chest, not being able to decide which hand of Spencer’s he liked petting him where. This was what settled Spencer down more than anything after a stressful day at work. Spencer stopped stroking Curiosity just long enough to grab his remote and turn the TV on. He pressed the power button for the DVD player as well and waited, petting Curiosity as he did, for it to load up and ask him if he wanted to start watching from where he had left off. Spencer smiled as he heard the first words that Professor Henry Higgins spoke. Spencer began to mouth the words as Curiosity moved down to Spencer’s legs, flopping onto his back between Spencer’s thighs so that Spencer could get to his belly.

Spencer sat up on the couch and worked his tie loose before dropping it down onto Curiosity’s belly, the cat jumped a little, but when he realized that it wasn’t going to attack him, Curiosity started to play with the tie. That was the main reason that Spencer didn’t like to buy expensive things all that often, the ties were Curiosity’s favorite toy. Spencer worked his vest off next followed by his dress shirt, just leaving his A-shirt on. He laid back down on the couch and lifted his right arm. Before he got it all the way up, his phone chimed.

I’ll be there as soon as possible,

Andrea’s text read. Spencer smiled as he read the text before laying his phone on the coffee table. He turned back to look at Curiosity, slipping his fingers of his left hand between tie and cat belly to start to play with him. Spencer turned his head to the TV and watched a few minutes of My Fair Lady as he played with Curiosity. Spencer pulled his tie from Curiosity and started to dangle it over the cat’s face, waiting for him to get a good hold of it with teeth and claws before pulling up until the cat had to make a choice between actually getting up or letting go. The first three times that Curiosity let it go, Spencer laughed but on the fourth time Curiosity rolled over and followed the tug all the way up to Spencer’s face.

Curiosity moved up to where his face was rubbing on Spencer’s inner arm. Spencer sighed as he looked at what the cat was obsessed with rubbing against every time that Spencer wasn’t wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Spencer looked at it as well. Spencer knew the words well. Even if it wasn’t the written word and what his eidetic memory liked best. Even if Spencer didn’t want to remember the words, the words would never be forgotten. Spencer hadn’t known that the words were from a play until his first year at Caltech. Spencer had been obsessed with plays before that, but after, he had been even more. Spencer understood why his mother had kept him from seeing it when he was a child. She had been good as he’d never even heard about the play. Given that she was the primary supplier of his play watching habit before Caltech, it was easy to just never bring it up.

That first semester at Caltech, Spencer had used the connections with the head librarian at the college to get his hands on every single recorded version of My Fair Lady that he could get. It had become his favorite play from the moment that he realized that the words branded to his arm when he had been born were from it.

Spencer let go of the tie and pushed Curiosity away from his arm. He traced the words with his fingers, saying each one in his head. Don’t talk of stars burning above; if you’re in love, show me! Spencer felt Curiosity nose him out of the way, and the cat licked his soul mark. Spencer knew that it wasn’t exactly going to be easy to figure out his soulmate given that what was on his arm was so widespread, most people knew the line. He knew that the first person to say it to him wasn’t going to be his soulmate, he knew that the words would have to be said at the moment and it would be the thing that made him fall in love with whoever it was.

Curiosity licked at the mark until Spencer lowered his arm and tucked it into his side. Spencer rolled onto that side and cradled Curiosity as he did. Spencer settled the cat against his stomach, sheltered by his arm as Spencer laid there, his eyes on the screen of the TV. Curiosity shifted to where he was on his stomach, his head resting on Spencer’s forearm. The cat just laid there purring while Spencer petted his back.

Spencer was content with his life, he liked what he did even if he didn’t love it. He was happy with his apartment, it was his and his only, well it was Curiosity’s, and he deigned to let the man who fed him live with him. It was a simple life, but it made Spencer happy, even if some of the friends that Spencer had stayed in contact with from Caltech didn’t understand why he wasn’t out there taking the world by storm. Spencer closed his eyes and just listened to the TV, his brain nearly shutting off as it played the words of the play over in his head before they were said by the actors and actresses on the screen.

The knock startled Spencer awake, causing him to jerk and Curiosity slipped off the couch, looking back at Spencer with such a glare on his face.

I’m sorry, I didn’t expect to fall asleep.

Spencer typed into his phone as he grabbed it up. He flicked the volume up to its max and typed in “Coming.

Spencer pushed himself up and off of the couch. There was little for Spencer to do except open the door, he realized though as he stood with it open that he hadn’t put on a shirt yet. Andrea’s eyes were locked on the stark black words on his underarm. Even though they had sex on several occasions since that first date, Spencer realized then that she had never seen the mark. Spencer didn’t go out of his way to hide it from her, in the day to day of his life yes. He was registered with the FBI as a Marked, but given that many were it wasn’t a big thing, mainly it was a mark to use to check when facial identity wasn’t able to be used. There were too many that had been ID’d that way after a catastrophe. Even if someone went out of their way to actually disfigure a mark, the exact placement and size were not the same from person to person. While there had never been a match between the scripts used by whatever bit of fate marked them between the soulmate and the mark as far as handwriting went, there was no script used the same way twice on a person, so it made for very long or very short marks. Spencer’s own was shorter but still with a beautiful flowing script that flowed over three lines on his skin. The lowest line was the shortest with show me written on it.

“What’s that?” Andrea stepped up and looked at the mark on his arm, she almost seemed like she wanted to reach out and touch it.

I told you that I had a soulmark when we took that first walk. This is it.

“How have I never noticed it?”

I don’t know. I cover it up for work and going out as it draws too much attention, but I’ve never covered it up when we had sex. Maybe I’m just that good?”

Andrea laughed and looked away from the mark to look at Spencer’s face. She reached up and cupped his cheek, bringing him down for a kiss. Andrea shut the door behind her and locked it, without taking her lips off of Spencer’s. Spencer allowed her to direct him backward, getting him to sit down in the chair that he used for reading. She didn’t sit down on his lap though. Andrea smiled before she reached down to the hem of her shirt and pulled it up and over, standing there in a lacy black bra that stood out on her pale white skin. Spencer’s eyes moved down expecting her to sweep her pants off when he realized that she wasn’t wearing pants but a very short skirt.

Spencer licked his lips as he thought about the fact that if she bent over, he would see her underwear. He had been tired, but now he was finding that his cock didn’t think that he was that tired. He reached down to adjust himself in his pants as his cock start to thicken at the sight of Andrea doing precisely what he thought of. Except when she bent over, making a show of unstrapping her high heels from around her ankles and calves, there was no flash of black, just pale skin that moved up to ass cheeks and already wet and parted pussy lips. Spencer reached out and grabbed her hips, bringing her back to where he could touch, with more than just his hands. Spencer trailed his hands up her thighs and used his thumbs to hold her pussy lips apart as he swiped his tongue over her hole.

“Fuck, Spencer. Yes.” Andrea carefully stepped out of her high heels, and it put her just a little too low for Spencer to be able to do what he wanted, so he slid out of the chair and moved to his knees. He shifted his hands to where he could use his long fingers to tease her clit. Spencer thrust his tongue inside of her as he did it. Spencer loved this, feeling her shuddering as he tongue fucked her and hearing her moans and pants as he brought her closer and closer to orgasm.

The hardwood of the floor started to bite into Spencer’s knees so he thought about where they could move this and still be able to do what he wanted once he got her off. His mind supplied the image of the apartment from the middle and Spencer’s lips curled into a smile as he knew exactly where he wanted her. Spencer shifted his left hand to where he could plunge two of his fingers inside of her as he stood up.

“Spencer?” Andrea asked she turned her head to look at him, and Spencer pointed to the couch. Andrea nodded and started to move that way. Spencer kept up with his fingers inside of her, thrusting and rubbing. Andrea kneed up onto the middle of the couch and was bracing her hands on the back of the couch when Spencer brought his other hand into the action. He rubbed her clit, he twisted his hand inside of her to where he was rubbing at the same spot, inside and out and was rewarded with Andrea’s arms giving out and she near collapsed against the back of the couch. Spencer pulled his fingers free and grabbed her hips, lifting her up to where she was bent over the back. He heard her arms find purchase on the stand just on the other side of the couch. When she arched her back so that he could see her pussy better, Spencer ducked back down and started to eat her out again.

It wasn’t long before she shuddered through an orgasm. Spencer flipped up her skirt bottom and shifted to where he was pressing his cock into her thigh as kept up fucking her with his fingers, two pushed inside of her, making her shake and quake as he overstimulated her.

“Fuck. Do you have condoms out here?” Andrea asked. Spencer leaned his head down to where she could feel him shake his head against her back. “Lube?”

Spencer bit at her side nodding.

“Do you…” Andrea stopped, and Spencer could see her bite her lip. She shot her hand back and grabbed Spencer’s hand that was buried in her pussy and pulled it out. Spencer started to pull it even further back, but she held on and trailed his fingers up until the tip of his middle finger rested over her other hole. Spencer reached over into the end table that his current book was resting on. He jerked the drawer on it open and grabbed the lube there. He didn’t masturbate in the living room often but enough to where he didn’t want to have to get up and get lube from the bedroom that when a bottle got low in the bedroom, he’d bring it out and get a new one for the bedroom.

Spencer pushed forward with the finger over her hole, it wet enough from her pussy that it slid inside of her easy.

“Shit.” Andrea dropped her head down, and Spencer could feel her muscles tightening around his finger as he slid it in and out of her. “Just go slow, it’s been a while. I’m clean, I promise, Spencer. I’m just not good at remembering to take my pills on time, and I don’t want to take chances.”

Spencer pulled his finger free, and she gasped as the loss. Spencer snapped the cap on the lube open before he let a large drop fall down right onto the top of Andrea’s crack. It started to slide down, and Spencer used that time to coat two of his fingers before it fell down too far. Spencer pushed those two fingers inside of her. She was still all loose-limbed from orgasm, and the fingers slid inside of her just fine.

“You do know how to fuck like this,” Andrea said as Spencer dropped the lube after coating his cock with it. He slid the lube all over his cock before using that hand to work on Andrea’s clit more. He leaned forward a little more so he could slip the fingers back and tease her pussy hole.

Pulling his fingers free of Andrea’s ass, Spencer lined himself up and started to push inside of her. She was tight. Spencer carefully worked her open, pushing in a little before retreating and going back in just a little further than before. Spencer bit his lip to stop himself from letting out the rush of air of a very wrong sounding moan. He could do gasps and pants, but with his damaged vocal cords, his moan was horrid sounding with the air passing over the cords and the wrong sound that it made. Spencer shifted his knees on the couch to where he could fuck her like he wanted, pulling her hips down a little to get the angle right.

“Spencer, please,” Andrea begged as Spencer pulled out all the way. He waited there with just the head of his cock inside of her before he thrust up and inside her all the way. Andrea let her head fall onto the table again, she wasn’t even trying to hold herself up. Spencer curled his hand that was playing with her clit and pushed fingers inside of her. He grabbed the back of the couch with his other hand, not caring about the mess. With a cat, he got furniture that had fabric that was easy to clean. Hairballs were not fun on furniture. “More.”

Spencer started to fuck her harder, his cock moving in and out of her easily. It wasn’t hard enough though. Spencer laid his head down on her back, panting into her skin. He didn’t want to fuck on the floor, and the bed would be fine, but he didn’t want to move that far.

“More, I need more, Spencer.”

Spencer used his messy hand to grab a notebook and pen. He pressed himself inside of her all the way and scribbled down a single word before he threw the pad onto the table. Andrea lifted up and looked at it. She nodded. Manhandling Andrea over to the arm of the couch was easy to do. She was limp with pleasure as he mounted her again. She tried to spread her legs as far as she could so that he could get even further inside of her but if she moved too much, she was going to fall off the arm. Spencer braced a hand at her hip to stop her from falling off as he settled the other on the back of the couch, fucking her as hard as he could.

“Harder,” Andrea panted, and Spencer did as she demanded. With her balanced on the arm, Spencer could fuck her harder and faster. Spencer could hear the couch scooting a little from the force of his thrusts. Shifting his hand from the arm to her hip, Spencer grabbed her tight, pulling her back just slightly on each thrust. Andrea thrust downward on each thrust, rubbing her clit against the arm. Spencer knew that she was trying to get herself off and he let her. If she did, he would fuck her until he got off himself but if she didn’t before he got off, he’d make sure that she did.

“I’m not going to be able to sit down for days without feeling this. You are bigger than any other guy I’ve let have my ass. Fuck, Spencer please.” Andrea was still trying to rub herself, so Spencer pulled out of her just long enough to coax her onto her back. Andrea grabbed pillows and slipped one under her neck and another under back before Spencer grabbed her legs by the knees and tipped them to her chest. Andrea reached backward and braced her hands on the cushions as Spencer guided his cock back inside of her. When he was all the way inside, he grabbed her by the hips to pull her just a little towards him, hanging the edge of her ass off the arm and allowing him to piston in and out of her.

“Don’t stop,” Andrea panted.

Spencer gasped as he picked up the pace again. When he was sure of himself and his ability to hold her in place one handed, he teased his hand down her thigh before ghosting it over her clit.

“Shit,” Andrea near screamed before her body shuddered as Spencer ghosted just his thumb over her clit. Andrea’s eyes closed in pleasure, and Spencer pushed down just a little more as he started to rub. Every few passes he would slip his thumb down to pass over her pussy hole and gathered the moisture there. It was his cleaner hand, not having been inside of her ass so, after another minute of fucking her and teasing her clit, he turned his hand to where he could get two fingers inside of her pussy and still get her clit with his thumb. That was all that it took, and Andrea screamed. Her entire body locked and she arched off the couch, pressing her ass down on his cock more. Spencer’s fingers inside of her were trapped, and even his cock could feel the drag from tightened muscles. Spencer gasped as he came inside of her ass. His grip on her hip tightened, and Spencer hoped that he didn’t leave a bruise, but if he did, he didn’t think Andrea would mind.

Spencer carefully pulled from Andrea as he felt himself soften enough to where it hopefully wouldn’t hurt her, he pulled his fingers from inside of her regretfully. Andrea held out her hand, and Spencer pulled her up. She unbuttoned her skirt and let it fall to the floor before she did the same with her bra. Spencer couldn’t help reaching out and tweaking still hard nipple. Andrea squirmed but didn’t try and get away from him as he leaned his head down and cupped a breast to where he could lick at the nipple. Andrea gripped the back of his head and pushed him closer.

“Do you think you could get me to come again?” Andrea asked, her voice breathless.

Spencer lapped at the nipple in response and started to push her towards the bedroom. His bed sheets needed to be changed anyway and what better reason to want to do that than to mess them up. Spencer had plans to splay her on the bed and eat her out until he was hard again and either grab a condom to fuck her pussy or have another go at her ass. First, he wanted to clean his cock off before he did.

Andrea willingly laid herself on the bed, her feet planted on the end of it with her knees up and legs splayed. She looked like a pornstar, but Spencer didn’t care. He stepped over to his closet and grabbed a tub there, finding the toy that he wanted to use on her while he was cleaning up. A little lube from the bottle at the bedside then Spencer was pressing a small but useful plug vibrator into Andrea. She gasped as her asshole flared open to accept it and then closed again. Spencer flicked the button that started it vibrating. The bendable arm that was attached was good for pressing against a cock or a clit, so Spencer pressed it down until it was just barely touching her clit. Andrea reached down, and Spencer grabbed both of her hands and pressed them into the bed at her head as he straddled her belly, looming over her. She was looking at him with half-hooded eyes. She seemed almost high, high on sex with him.

“I’ll be good if you hurry. I’ll suck your cock while your toy drives me nuts.”

Spencer didn’t need to be told twice, he moved to the bathroom to wash up. Spencer started the water in the sink to begin to warm it up while he grabbed what he wanted to clean himself up and even a rag to take in to clean Andrea up a little. He even set out a towel set for her because they were going to shower before falling asleep. Fun sex was messy and messy sex wasn’t enjoyable to fall asleep covered in.

A sound drew Spencer’s attention to the shower, and there was Curiosity, curled in the corner with Spencer’s tie wrapped in his paws. He was shredding it. Spencer crouched to free the tie from his claws, but Curiosity hissed at him, baring fangs. Spencer pulled his hand back. Spencer didn’t know what was wrong with Curiosity, but he hated the shower, Spencer trapped him in it to give him a bath once a month, and this was the first time that Curiosity had ever gone into it on his own. Spencer stared at his cat until the sound of the water running pushed through his brain. He’d worry about Curiosity later because right then all that it would do was get him hurt if he tried to do anything with the cat. Spencer made a mental note to see if something had happened to him in the morning after Curiosity had a chance to calm down.

Spencer washed up quick and came back out to the bedroom to see Andrea writhing on the bed. The rest of the night was going to be fun.

Chapter 6-August 2009

Aaron knew that skipping a big entrance for his first day back, well that and not telling anyone that it was going to be his first day back, was going to upset the team. Aaron needed the time to get his head around coming back to work though. Hence why he was at work at five am. Jessica was going to take Jack to New Haven Academy in time for his lessons with the tutor, Leslie Shore, that he thankfully agreed to after a near hour of talking to. Jack was doing well with summer lessons and would be ready for pre-school come the beginning of September according to Leslie. Aaron liked her, and she got along well with Jessica. Aaron had been going to Jack’s lessons over the past two weeks, and Leslie had given him a few books for him to learn to sign and to understand sign language.

Jack’s IQ was already under debate by Leslie and the rest of the teachers at New Haven. Aaron did not get into that debate, but he had been informed that by the end of the year, actual year not school year, Leslie figured that she would be able to give him the testing needed to at least get them a ballpark number to start to work on a game plan for his education. Jessica’s notification to Roy about Haley’s death had not gone well, especially since it had started with Jessica telling her father that she had lied to him, that she hadn’t been gone for work. Jessica hadn’t taken Jack with her but instead had gone alone. When she had got back, Aaron could tell that she had been crying and the only thing that Aaron could do for her was hold her while she cried that night after Jack had gone to bed. Roy wanted nothing to do with Jessica. The man hadn’t been heard from since and Aaron was just bracing for him to come back with a vengeance.

Jack hadn’t asked about visiting his grandparents at all and that worried Aaron. The subject was avoided being discussed while Jack was awake but Aaron wondered if the boy had overheard something. Aaron vowed to ask Jack. It might be a topic to have Doctor Stevens ask about. Aaron was thankful that New Haven had an on-hand children psychologist that Jack had been able to bond with. In the end, even the one that Reid had suggested had not connected with Jack. Doctor Stevens though connected well with Jack, she had been a child prodigy as well. She reminded Aaron a lot of Ried.

“Agent Hotchner?” a voice called out, and Aaron saw that it was the night shift guard. Aaron looked at the time and saw that it was past his shift.

“Bob, what are you still doing here?”

“I worked a transfer today. Took a suspect to the Hoover building for a chat with Agent Booth. When I was leaving, a young Agent stopped me and asked me to bring you a delivery. He let me look through everything, but it’s just books.” Bob leaned down and picked up a box.

Aaron stood up from his desk and moved around to take them from Bob. Bob took the top book off the stack inside the box and held it up. Aaron read the title and the title of the one below. None of them were old, all were new and each one, as Aaron looked at each title, was about dealing with raising a genius child. Aaron knew exactly who it was from even though there was no note. Aaron looked at Bob.

“Thanks.”

“Rumors have gone around the building that something happened with your son in WitSec. I’m not asking what’s wrong with him, but I wanted to let you know that there was gossip.”

“Thanks. Jack’s mute, traumatic loss of voice. In trying to find him help, Dave put me in contact with Agent Reid, the agent that you met that sent the books with you.”

“Well, at least the young man was known to you. I’ll let you get back to work. It’s good to have you back, Hotch.” Bob smiled as he left and Aaron set his box of books down on the floor beside his desk, out of sight, out the purview of the others of the team when they realized that Aaron was in his office. He did pick up one of the books and set it down on his desk to look at when he needed to clear his head of paperwork.

Dave and Morgan had done an excellent job of stepping in and taking care of things, but some papers needed to be seen over by Aaron before being filed. The first file was a disciplinary file on Brannon with a date of the day before as well as the typed resignation letter. Aaron was kind of glad then that he was surprising the team and coming back.

Dean Brannon was a good agent, he was good at the job, but in the aftermath of the day where Foyet had attacked him, and the team was forced on a case they should not have been, Aaron had been sure that this was the outcome. Dave had kept him informed about Brannon. Thankfully, he had not gone the Greenaway route and had not become an executioner against a suspect. Instead, he had been questioning every single decision that Dave and Morgan, and according to the report, every member of the team made, including JJ with the press. Aaron was glad that Brannon was leaving the unit of his own volition. He did not want his first priority when back in the unit being that he had to transfer out Brannon.

The resignation was just from the unit and not the FBI as a whole, so Aaron started to write up a recommendation letter for him. Brannon was a good agent, he just needed distance from the BAU to see things clearly. Brannon was already in counseling, so Aaron didn’t need to put in something like that into the report write up for his leaving the unit.

“I wondered if you were going to just slip in and try and act normal,” Dave said.

Aaron looked up at him in the doorway. He said nothing.

“The rumor mills have been working on overtime. A few have some of it right, no one has everything right.” Dave stepped far enough into the office to shut the door but didn’t come any closer. “I’ve not told the team anything, other than you were taking time off to spend with Jack post him getting out of WitSec. I know that you opted not to have a large funeral and while I am sure that there are some who know that Haley is dead, it’s not common knowledge.”

“Haley’s parents had their own wake of sorts for her and Jessica had her cremated wherever they were. Jessica did not go to the wake the parents had. In fact, Roy and his wife have cut all ties with their daughter because of what happened.”

“That’s…How is Jessica taking that?”

“Like a trooper. She’s been focused on getting the basement of the house set up for herself. Jessica’s using as much time as she can to get herself and Jack settled in.”

“How is Jack?”

“He’s doing better now that he has a psychologist to talk to that he likes and he’s really looking forward to preschool this fall. I am looking forward to him being in school. I’ve already got things set up for dropping Jack off at school on the days that I am in town, which includes bringing him here for a while. New Haven is so close. I’m thinking of setting up part of my office with a little area for him. A small desk and a chair and maybe even one of those little bean bag chairs for him to sit in if he wants to read. Jack’s already excited about that, coming to work with me throughout the week.”

“That means no more early days of coming into work.”

“No, I’m going to be taking some work home with me at night to work on then and again in the morning. I’ve already had this discussion with Applehorn after I generously turned down the retirement offer.”

“I didn’t think that you would take it. You aren’t the kind to sit at home and be lazy.”

“I am not and right now while Jack does need me, he needs a father that is happy with his life.”

“You don’t have to explain any of it to me or anyone else really. Your life is your life, and you are doing what makes you and your son happy.”

“When will the rest of the team get here?”

“About an hour and a half. Morgan and I have things covered. I come in early, he stays late for us to cover things.” Dave opened the door back up and moved to sit in the chair in front of Aaron. “So Brannon is gone.”

“You made sure I knew that was a possibility.”

“I’ve already started to put out feelers. As soon as you are ready, the official notification can go through about there being a spot on the team. I know that Prentiss was added to the team in the wake of Greenaway and that it wasn’t done with your knowledge. I didn’t want to go through and push a new person until you were back.”

“Thank you. And yes, I would rather it come from me unless I was going to be out longer. I’m going to shoo you away so that I can get some work done before the team gets here. I know that they are going to be upset that they couldn’t throw me a party but I don’t want a party. I don’t want hugs and happy to see you. I just want to work and get back into the swing of things.”

“I understand, and I’ll make sure that the others understand as well.” Dave stood up with a smile on his face and left the office.

Aaron had blissful silence for three hours. The team had come and gone, each one welcoming him back with a smile before leaving, except for Garcia who hadn’t entered his office yet but he knew that she was there. Aaron might have sought her out except for the fact that he knew that she was pouting. He was sure that Dave had got to her first and made sure that she knew to not overwhelm him. Aaron had never liked sharing any of his life with his team. There was the obvious that they knew he was married from his ring and Gideon had forced more out of him in public as it were as time went on and Aaron was thankful as it made the team more ready to approach him if they were having a problem. He understood the reasons behind why it was necessary, but the team didn’t need to know every single aspect of his life.

“Hotch?” Morgan called out as he stepped into the doorway of Aaron’s office. Aaron looked at the time on his watch and frowned. It was just before lunch. The team was wanting to do a meal out to welcome him back to work, and Aaron had agreed to it.

“Yes, Morgan?” Aaron asked.

“You have a visitor.” Morgan looked behind him, and there was a frown on his face, so Aaron stood up from his desk and looked out. Aaron was only mildly shocked that it was Roy.

“Thank you, Morgan. Please show him up to my office.” Aaron moved around his desk and shut the blinds that blocked the team being able to see into the room. He didn’t need the team seeing what he was sure was going to be a fight. Aaron sat back down in his office chair and opened up the recording software on it. Aaron was going to make a recording of what he and Roy said to each other because Aaron wouldn’t put it past the grief-stricken man to do something reckless. Aaron kept his eyes on the screen and opened up a file that he needed to work on so that he at least looked busy when Roy stepped into the room. Morgan pulled the door shut as he stepped out, giving Aaron a look of worry.

“Roy, what can I do for you?” Aaron asked. His upbringing was warring with his mind in that he wasn’t getting up to shake hands with the man, the man wasn’t showing respect for Aaron or for Jessica, and he plainly wasn’t showing respect for the memory of his now dead daughter. Aaron was only willing to go so far in giving him respect.

“I want to see Jack. My wife wants to see Jack.”

“I will have someone get in contact with you about supervised visitation with Jack. You refuse to see Jessica, and I am unwilling to let Jack spend time with you alone. He’s not taken his mother’s death well, and I refuse to let you have time alone with him because of that.”

“He’s my grandson.”

“And he’s my son, and I won’t see him harmed any more than he already has been.”

“And yet, here you are. Still in this God-damned place that took my Haley away from him.”

“Haley was going to die no matter where she was. I’ve had her files looked at by some of the best neurologists here in DC. Even her own personal doctor didn’t know that she had cancer. I have report after report, and since I was still her medical power of attorney on record when she died, I was allowed to look at all of her records, pre, and post-death. There was no way that she could have ever been saved unless it had been found at least months before. Given the size and her abnormal behavior that was slowly changing her not even her sister could tell a change, it was there for years. No one caught this. Not even me. I blame myself for that but there was nothing to be done and you blaming me for it is not going to get you anywhere.”

“YOU KILLED HER!” Roy shouted, and he moved closer to the desk, grabbed the vase that was at the moment empty and Aaron was happy that it was empty because he didn’t want water thrown everywhere. Before Aaron could even get up out of his chair, Morgan was there with Dave not far behind him. Aaron waved his hands to calm them both down.

“Roy, go home and calm down,” Aaron said. He stood up from his desk and looked at Dave, trying to get him and Morgan to leave but neither of them did.

“You will not tell me what to do. You will not tell me that I can’t see my grandson!”

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to calm down, or I will have you escorted from the building,” Dave said using a voice that Aaron only ever heard him use around cadets and when he was giving his rare lectures in the Academy. Aaron came around his desk and tried to reach out to Roy, but the man backed up away from Aaron.

“You have ruined my life!” Roy was yelling again, and with the door being open, everyone in the bullpen could hear him. “YOU TOOK MY DAUGHTER FROM ME. My life is ruined because of you!”

Dave nodded at someone in the bullpen, and within a few seconds, two security guards entered the room.

“Agent Hotchner, would you like us to escort this man out?”

“Roy, are you going to calm down?” Aaron asked.

“You took my only happiness from me!”

“Yes, please be gentle. Roy is my ex-father-in-law and is not handling the death of his eldest daughter well.”

“We will Agent Hotchner.”

Aaron watched as the two guards escorted Roy out, the man screamed the entire way. Only when the doors shut on the elevator did he finally go to his desk and sit down.

“Please, Dave, make sure that he’s on the not allowed inside the building alone from here on out list.”

“Sure, Aaron. Morgan, go and make sure that everyone is calm. Aaron lunch is in an hour. Take the time to relax.”

“I’m going down to records to do some research.” Aaron grabbed his cell phone and set a time for when he needed to be back up and into the bullpen to leave for lunch on time. Aaron had a goal in mind, and it would help to clear his head a lot. Aaron had a single target for his research. Now that he was back at work, he was going to look up to the man that had slipped into Jack’s life through little more than him being mute.

Almost an hour later, Aaron realized a lot of things as he looked at the digital file of Reid. For Reid’s disability, he had not allowed it to stop him. Aaron had a list of degrees for the man that was more than what the BAU combined if counting Aaron’s various law degrees as a single one. The man had been to every single one of the seminars hosted in the DC area by the BAU. Aaron knew that he had been in the profiling classes offered by the FBI at the Academy. The list of classes that he had gone back to take at the Academy astounded Aaron until he found his college transcripts. Reid loved to learn, it was evident in all of the classes he took in college that had nothing to do with his degrees. There was a letter scanned into Reid’s file that Aaron knew the handwriting of right away. No look at the signature line was needed. It was dated from two years before Reid entered the Academy.

Gideon had been the one to recruit Reid into the FBI. The next letter was from when Reid had been in the academy wanting to fast-track Reid through the ranks and get him in the BAU right out of the Academy. Aaron stopped. Gideon had wanted Reid for the BAU. Aaron could see why. Even without his disability, or even his speech app, there were ways to make it work. Aaron’s mind went to the case in Florida where the UnSub had killed himself to hopefully stop them from finding his partner. Two weeks later, after a neighbor had called about a smell, the BAU had found the missing women, the UnSub’s partner, and a dead baby in the house. DNA confirmed the baby was his and the information on the woman showed a tragic tale. That case had haunted Aaron. It hadn’t been until much later that the only mistake was the team missing the UnSub had kept revealed a partner in his journals, but there were too many of the journals. Aaron thought about how quick it would have been for Reid to make his way through all of them and how fast he might have put it all together.

Aaron moved forward in the file that was as massive as Aaron’s and even Gideon’s with a lot fewer years in it. Some files were closed above Aaron’s clearance level. Aaron wasn’t worried about those files as it apparently had to do with cases that Reid worked on for other departments. There was a lot that was above Aaron’s clearance as he moved through the file. There were a lot of letters of recommendation, but Reid never applied for other jobs inside or even outside of where he was. Aaron closed out of the digital file, making a note of its number and moved onto the paper file. There was a lot less paper in it, many items referencing digital sections of Reid’s file. Aaron found nothing else in it, outside of a single reference to the residence of his mother. The address told Aaron nothing, but when he researched the address on his phone, he found that it was Bennington Sanitarium. Aaron closed Reid’s file and felt kind of guilty. He hadn’t meant to find that out. Reid had never pushed more into Aaron’s life than he needed to help Jack, even knowing Jack and Aaron for just hours but here Aaron knew something that Reid didn’t want anyone to know, otherwise it would have been in his digital work file.

“Agent Hotchner, Agent Rossi called down and wanted me to remind you that lunch is soon,” Melinda called out. She had been the protector of the records for years, old and set in her ways but Aaron kind of adored her.

“Thank you, I’m leaving now.”

Melinda just smiled at Aaron and stared until he put Reid’s file back where it belonged and straightened all the files on the shelf. Melinda reminded Aaron of a stern librarian.

“Thank you, Agent Hotchner for leaving the records in better shape than you found them..” Melinda said nothing else but instead just turned to move back to her desk. Aaron left with a nod in her direction and tried not to wonder why Reid’s mom was in a mental hospital. It was private, and Reid was a very private person, but Aaron had come to start to care for him a little, if for nothing else than making sure that Jack’s friend didn’t go away.

Aaron entered the bullpen from the stairs and saw that a security guard had a man in a suit standing in the middle of the bullpen. As soon as the guard saw Aaron, his eyes kind of saddened.

“This is Agent Hotchner,” the guard said pointing at Aaron with his open palm. The man in the suit moved closer to Aaron and handed over a manila envelope.

“You’ve been served,” the man said before leaving. The guard followed behind him. Aaron looked down at the papers. It was the second time that he had been served at work. This time though, he had no clue what it was about. Aaron opened up the envelope and found two packets.

The first was him being sued for Haley’s death and the second was Roy contesting Aaron’s custody of Jack.

“Dave, I’m sorry, but it seems that my welcome back lunch won’t happen today. I need to go and see my lawyer. My ex-father-in-law is suing me for the death of Haley and trying to get custody of Jack.” Aaron made sure that the whole team heard what was happening because this was something that affected them, he would be meeting with his lawyer a lot and due to court appearances, will be missing days at work.

“Go. We will survive.” Dave shooed Aaron up towards his office.

Aaron hoped that his lawyer had time to meet with him. Aaron took the adage about a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer. Aaron didn’t need this and Jack undoubtedly didn’t as well. It was going to hurt Jessica badly, but Aaron was going to make sure that she understood that what her father did would not make Aaron hate her. Aaron was not looking forward to going home, he was not looking forward to going to see his lawyer, and he honestly hated Roy for what he was doing, and the only person that Aaron hated in his life was his own father.


Spencer was good at adapting, he knew that. He didn’t hold to plans long past the first breach into them. He had learned that as a child. Change was fundamental, but with his disability, it was hard to not be adaptive. Still, what was supposed to be a date night where he was supposed to be the one to pick what they did, Andrea changed plans the night before because her friends wanted to go out and Spencer not being upset about it was one thing. The dinner was nice, Spencer had not been too upset. No one blinked an eye at the phone doing the talking for him. Several of Andrea’s friends engaged Spencer in their discussions and Spencer was on his best behavior in not going into a ramble. The movie after dinner was fun as Spencer didn’t go and see many actual movies. It wasn’t the play that he had bought tickets for that he had ended up giving away to one of his coworkers that afternoon.

It was the club afterward that upset Spencer more than anything. In a club, Spencer had no way of talking to someone without using a pen and paper or even just the notepad function on his phone. The group settled into a corner booth, and after ten minutes, Spencer tried to catch Andrea’s attention. She was on the dance floor with two other girls from the group that Spencer was trying to forget the names of because they were vapid, shallow, and the only reason that they were there was to find a guy to fuck for the night. Spencer didn’t want to have his brain filled with their names instead of other things that were actually important.

Andrea finally came back to the table fifteen minutes after Spencer waved at her. She dropped into the seat beside him and leaned into him.

“You should totally join us out there, Spencer. It’s fun!” Andrea was already slightly tipsy, and while Spencer was drinking, he was drinking wine.

Spencer picked up his phone and sent her a message.

Andrea, there is nothing here for me. I can’t even talk to the other people at the table. We’ve had a good evening together.

“You are going to leave?” Andrea asked, her voice about five decibels above what it needed to be for the loudness of the music in the club. The few guys at the table that were not out dancing all looked at each other and escaped. Spencer sighed and looked at Andrea.

I’m not having fun. So yes, I am going to leave. You are having fun.

“That’s because you are being a stick in the mud. You need to get out here with me and dance. You’ll feel better after that.”

Spencer laid his phone down to reach for his drink but as he did, his hand was grabbed, and before Spencer could jerk his hand free from Andrea’s hold, she was pulling him by his wrist out onto the dance floor. The girls all turned to look at him before going back to their intended targets for the night. Spencer tried to get into the music and let the music flow through him as one of his older college friends had tried to get him to learn, but it just wasn’t happening. The jerky movements that he was doing were making everyone around him take a few steps back, and Spencer waited until one of the other girls caught Andrea’s attention before he turned to go back to the bar for a new drink. He had not kept his eyes on his other glass of wine, and he wasn’t going to trust that there wasn’t something in it.

Mike was the guy that was sitting closest to where Spencer sat down again, grabbing his phone from across the table.

“Hey, man, Andrea said that you work for the FBI.” The look on Mike’s face was pity. Spencer knew that look well, but he didn’t want to upset Andrea even more so he turned towards Mike, opening up the notepad function on his phone and typing into it.

I do work for the FBI. I’m an analyst that is currently on loan to the White Collar crimes division. Spencer turned his phone around to where Mike could read the screen, and it wasn’t until Mike’s eyes flicked away from the screen that Spencer turned it back around.

“That’s cool. Being on loan means that you are good at what you do. Or you really suck at it.”

Spencer shrugged.

“No, I mean it. Which is it? Are you the worst FBI agent at analysis, whatever that is, or are you the best at it?”

Spencer was saved by answering as Andrea appeared at the table. She picked up Spencer’s old glass of wine and downed it before she grinned at Spencer.

“The girls are all paired off, and I have no one else to dance with so, let’s go home,” Andrea said as she offered out her hand to Spencer. Spencer stood up from his seat without taking her hand in his. Spencer followed her out of the club, never looking back at anyone who they had come with. As Andrea hailed a cab, Spencer realized that the club had always been part of the plan. Andrea had wanted to take a cab to the restaurant when they had been talking of the plans, she had said it was so that they could spend time together and not have to worry about driving. He knew now though it was so that neither of them would have to drive after the club. Spencer piled into the back of the cab with Andrea and allowed her to push into in the door, her lips attaching to his.

There were no words shared between Spencer and Andrea as the cab took them back to Andrea’s apartment. Spencer frowned as they usually went back to his because of Curiosity. Spencer allowed it though because Curiosity had enough food and water to do until the morning. Spencer would just slip out of her apartment as early as he could and go home to give his cat some love.

Andrea was acting like a horny teenager, pressing Spencer into the wall every few feet, her hand working open the zipper on his pants and stroking him as they finally landed on her floor of the apartment building. Spencer had to be the one to get her keys from her purse and unlock the door before nearly shoving her inside. As soon as the door was shut behind them, Andrea was stripping off her shirt and her skirt, she was wearing flats because she hated to dance in high heels. Andrea kicked off her shoes and grabbed Spencer by the edge of the light jacket that he was wearing, pushing him backward until he fell on the couch. Andrea straddled his lap, and Spencer could feel how wet she was already because after a few seconds of rubbing her sex on his pants, he could feel the wetness seep through his pants.

Spencer gasped as he was drawn out of his pants and he could feel first hand how hot and wet Andrea was. Andrea ground herself on his cock as she tried to suck his lungs out through his throat. Spencer gave as good as he got though, grabbing her thighs and drawing her down onto him even harder. Only her panties were keeping him from sliding inside of her, and he was thankful.

Andrea tipped her head back as she started to come just from rubbing off on his cock. Spencer grabbed the back of her head, tangling his hand in her hair as he cupped the underside of her breast, still in her bra and lifting it up to where he could suck on her nipple. Spencer loved this aspect of sex, losing himself in pleasuring the other person. Spencer didn’t know what he would do if someone didn’t like to have their primary and secondary sexual organs sucked, licked, and played with. Spencer wanted to give pleasure.

Spencer felt the gush of wet on his cock as Andrea started to gasp and groan. Spencer pulled his mouth off of her breast and switched to the other, using his thumb to rub just enough at the wet nipple, the cloth adding extra sensation.

“Please, more,” Andrea begged so Spencer used his fingers to pull the bra down enough to get his tongue on the skin, he licked up from the underside of her breast before suckling just a little on the nipple. Andrea’s body tensed, and she nearly bucked herself off of Spencer’s lap. Only quick thinking on Spencer’s part, dropping her breast that wasn’t in his mouth and wrapping that arm around her back stopped her from falling off of him. Spencer licked up from her nipple, up her breast, and to her neck, finding her pulse point and sucking on it. Andrea writhed in his lap as he took her higher. He kept her right at the edge of orgasm, prolonging it all until she pushed his head away from her body and slipped off of his lap.

Spencer watched her as she stumbled into her bedroom. He started to stand, intending to follow her when she yelled out at him.

“Stay there!” Andrea yelled out, so Spencer dropped back down to the couch and waited. Spencer listened to her try and find something before he heard a drawer being jerked off of its track and it’s contents being dumped out. There was an exclamation of happiness, and then feet were coming towards him. Spencer watched Andrea as she dropped to her knees in front of him. She showed him the condom in her hand before she tore open the package and rolled it down his cock. Spencer expected her to stand up and straddle his lap before slowly sliding down his cock.

Instead, Andrea leaned forward taking the head of Spencer’s cock into her mouth. As her lips slowly slide down his cock, Spencer grabbed the couch cushions on either side of him, trying not to thrust up into her mouth. Spencer allowed each little pant and gasp to fall from his lips, but as Andrea bobbed on his cock, Spencer realized that she wasn’t enjoying herself. Spencer reached under her chin, pulling her up and off of his cock. He grabbed his phone from where it had landed on the couch as he had fallen onto it.

You don’t have to do that,” Spencer said. He didn’t like to make someone do a sex act that they didn’t like, even if he reciprocated on them. Andrea though instead of looking up at him, happy about doing what he asked, she looked pissed off.

“Is my blowjob not good enough for you?”

Spencer was shocked at the venom in her voice, and he realized that he had touched on a subject that was sensitive, but there was no reason for her to treat him that way.

I don’t like people doing things that they don’t like, and I could tell that you didn’t like to give blowjobs.

“I can’t just give you a blowjob because I want to?” Andrea grabbed Spencer’s hands and pinned them down to the couch as she leaned over to take his cock into her mouth again. Spencer moved quickly, twisting his hands-free from her’s and pushing away her away from him. Spencer fastened his pants and was quite happy that he had packed light that day, not having his bag.

If you want to do something, you could at least act like you like what you are doing a little and not acting like you would rather be doing anything but it.

“Oh, because you are so fucking perfect at everything that you can’t stand to get a subpar cock suck?”

I think that it will be better if I just left. Let you sleep off this drunkenness that is making you fight with me.

“That’s it, run!” Andrea yelled as Spencer worked on tucking his shirt in and making himself look at least a little presentable. Andrea came towards Spencer, and he darted to the side, and she nearly fell on her face in her drunken stupor. The look on her face though was pure venom. “You can’t even fucking enjoy a blowjob, you have to be so buttoned up. You won’t even show pleasure when a woman has her mouth wrapped around your cock.”

Spencer looked at Andrea, and in that instant, he realized what she had been trying to do. She was no better than the bullies who would kick him and keep on kicking, trying to get him to scream when he was younger, except she was using sex. She thought that if she fucked him well enough, she’d cure whatever was wrong with him.

I think it’s best if I leave. You can’t cure me with sex, Andrea. I was born without the ability to talk, and nothing can fix that. Not sex and not the best blowjob in the world. We are over. It was fun while it lasted, but I figured out tonight that you will never accept me for who I am and what I can and can’t do.” Spencer slipped his phone into his pocket and moved towards the door. He heard the growl of frustration and turned to make sure that she wasn’t following him when he saw that Andrea had picked up a vase and was getting ready to throw it at him. Spencer moved quicker, shutting the door just as the vase impacted with the door. Spencer kept his hand on the knob and waited, she did not try and follow him.

Spencer knew that he jumped into bed too soon with the people that he liked, building false intimacy because his method of communication put up barriers, but Spencer had thought that Andrea was more accepting and she understood that he wasn’t a thing that needed to be fixed. As Spencer exited the building, he saw that it was too late for the buses that would take him straight home, but he could ride around on one for a few hours and get where he needed to go. Spencer walked the seven blocks to the bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive. As he did, Spencer thought about the fact that he wasn’t ever going to find someone who accepted him for who he was.

There was not a large wholly mute community in DC, or at least Spencer had never found a person who was mute that he could stand to be around for more than a few minutes. Spencer hadn’t found a non-hearing person that could stand him for long periods of time.

As the bus pulled up to pick him up, Spencer swore off dating. He’d be fine with just him and Curiosity and his job. Spencer sat down in one of the front seats and closed his eyes, tipping his head back to rest on the back of the seat. He hoped that no one would bother him, he didn’t feel like talking to anyone really. Spencer spent the entire hour and a half ride home thinking about what theater he wanted to get a set of season tickets for. He was going to have a lot more free time on his hands, and he needed to fill it, plays and opera sounded like an excellent way to go. He might even take a few weekend trips to New York and see something that was on Broadway.

Spencer let himself into his apartment and Curiosity was right there on the back of the couch, as soon as he saw Spencer, he started to chirp at him. Spencer tossed his phone onto the stand just inside the door along with his keys and picked up Curiosity, cuddling his cat close. Spencer thought that at least when Curiosity left him, it wouldn’t be of the cat’s wants, time killed all things. Spencer wandered into his bedroom, looking at the bed and deciding that maybe it was time for a new mattress or even a whole new bed. Spencer set Curiosity down on the bed before he moved to change. A quick shower to get the smell of the club and Andrea off of him and Spencer was ready to go to sleep and at least catch a little bit of sleep before he woke up.

Curiosity was sitting exactly where Spencer had set him when he exited the bathroom dressed in his sleep pants. Curiosity was looking at him with a sad look on his face.

“You never liked her anyway, I should have known that you were a perfect judge of character,” Spencer signed to the cat. Spencer knew that Curiosity couldn’t understand him, but sometimes he felt better just talking to the cat, even in sign language. A byproduct of him living alone for way too long he knew. Still, Spencer moved and picked up Curiosity, enjoying the warmth of the cat on his bare chest. Spencer moved to the living room and settled onto the couch, after grabbing his phone. He was guaranteed the weekend off, but he felt like maybe he should send an email to his boss to let them know that if something came up that Spencer could help with, he would. Spencer nixed that, he needed the weekend to get his head on straight. Curiosity shifted around on Spencer’s chest until he found the perfect position, the same one that he always did. Spencer buried his hand in his cat’s fur and closed his eyes, willing sleep to take him quickly.


The sound of his phone chirping woke Spencer from a thankfully dreamless sleep. He blinked in the bright morning sun and debated just ignoring the text message. It wasn’t anyone of his friends because it was his general text sound. But he was too nice, and Spencer grabbed his cell phone, only disturbing Curiosity a little. The cat was still asleep on his chest, nearly covering the entire thing and that was why he slept without a shirt when he slept on the couch, he always got too warm when Curiosity rested on him, and if the cat left in the middle of the night, Spencer had a blanket ready.

Spencer shifted his glasses back to the regular position and looked at his phone. He frowned when he saw who it was. Spencer didn’t open the texting function though. Instead, he opened the ringtones and found the one that he wanted to use for Hotch.

Jack and I had a rough night, he’s feeling a little under the weather due to a cold, and I hoped that maybe you could come over and join us for brunch. I understand if you have plans, but I do really good at fried potatoes and cheesy potatoes. I can do bacon or sausage or both if you want both. If none of that sounds good, I can make anything you want.

The text read that there was more going on than just Jack being a little under the weather. The boy had been doing a lot better at communicating with his father and his aunt, but Spencer knew that he was a child and a child that was hurting and nothing was making it better. Spencer spending most of the morning and part of the early afternoon with the Hotchners didn’t sound like it would be a bad thing at all. So Spencer tapped in the box to send his reply.

Brunch sounds wonderful. I had a late night and relaxing, and not cooking sounds perfect.

It’ll be ready around one. Do you have a meat preference?

I love bacon and sausage so either one or both will be fine.

Spencer set his phone down and worked on waking up Curiosity so that he could get up with no injuries. Curiosity took his sweet time waking up, stretching but curling up again and Spencer hated to move him. Instead, Spencer just kept petting him on his side until the purring was so loud that it echoed around the apartment then he stopped. Curiosity’s head popped up and started to look around. When his eyes settled on Spencer, he stretched again, and this time when he was done, he shifted up to where he was sitting on his butt in the middle of Spencer’s chest, his face rubbing against Spencer’s. Spencer gave him several minutes of attention, petting him and even rubbing at his sides before he curled his arms around Curiosity and sat up. Curiosity’s claws popped out a little but not enough to hurt Spencer, but when he realized that Spencer wasn’t going to let him fall, the claws disappeared.

Silly cat, Spencer thought as he moved to the kitchen. He glanced at the clock and realized that he was going to be late if he didn’t get a move on. Spencer set Curiosity down on the counter in the only area he was allowed to be on. He turned the tap water on, and the cat leaned over and drank his fill from the running tap before Spencer stuck the coffee carafe under it and filled it, adding it to the coffee pot. Spencer opened his cabinet that was full of coffees and chose the most expensive that he had and set it to brew while he popped into the shower.

Feeling at least a little more awake when he left the shower, Spencer dressed in a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt. It was from his Caltech days and wasn’t the best shirt that he owned but he wanted comfort, and this shirt was it. He had been given one in his preteen size when Spencer had first started at the college. He had worn it nearly all the time when he wasn’t in class so when Spencer had finally left the school Spencer had gone through three other sizes of the shirt and had bought another that was a little larger so that he could fit into it after he had finished growing. Spencer had modified it as the sleeves were a little long, so he had opened the seams at the wrist and reinforced them so that there were thumb holes there. The cuff of the shirt covered his palms, and in the cooler weather of DC, Spencer enjoyed the warmth it gave him.

Spencer moved to the kitchen and prepared a cup of coffee, drinking it all the way down before making a second cup before he filled his overly large travel mug with the rest of the coffee and prepared it, slipping the lid on so it would stay warm. Spencer finished his regular morning routine of washing out Curiosity’s water bowl and giving him fresh before refilling his food bowl. He drained his second cup of coffee, feeling the caffeine finally start to wake him up more.

Curiosity ignored Spencer in favor of his food, and so Spencer took that as his cue to leave. Spencer grabbed his messenger bag along with the tablet that he knew was fully charged. Spencer was almost done shutting his door when he realized that his coffee was still in the kitchen. Spencer ran back inside and grabbed it and made it outside before his alarm was fully set. He didn’t relish calling the company and telling them that he had forgotten his coffee again and set it off. It had been three months since he had done it, the longest stretch that he had gone without doing it. He was sure that there was a sign in the office that worked the DC area with his name attached to it and a daily changed number of days and it said something about X many days since a coffee incident. That thought made Spencer chuckle to himself.

Spencer took the elevator down into the underground parking garage for the apartment and looked at his car before making the decision that he didn’t feel like driving. Spencer settled at the bus stop, opening up his book in his bag and reading. It was early still for the buses to be running a lot through his area so Spencer knew that he would have time to get some reading in. As he heard the hydraulic hiss of the door, Spencer pulled his bus card from where he had slipped it into the book. Spencer tapped it on the area where it went and smiled at the driver. He would have to swap buses twice to get to Hotch’s house. So Spencer sat down on the front-most seat, the driver knew him well enough to not engage him in conversation.

Counting the stops wasn’t hard for someone like Spencer when the next to last stop was completed, Spencer slipped his book under his arm and stood up, there was a crowd of people at Spencer’s stop, so he didn’t need to pull the chain. Spencer patted the driver on the shoulder, smiling at him as he got off. The man gave him a thumbs up. Spencer moved two blocks away from that stop to catch the next bus and then it was just a few stops before he had to swap busses again. This time there were seven stops between it and the one that would drop him off a block away from Hotch’s house.

As Spencer rounded the corner of the block that Hotch’s house was on, he pulled his phone out of his bag as he heard it chirp. When he looked at the time, Spencer realized that he had looked at the time wrong in his apartment and he was over an hour early for brunch at Hotch’s. Spencer slowed his walk. There wasn’t a lot that Spencer would find interesting to do in the area around the house, and if he went anywhere that would hold his attention, he would possibly be late. Spencer stood stock still and stared at the house, trying to decide what to do when his choice was taken from him. The sound of running feet heading towards him had Spencer looking around, and he saw Jack coming from the backyard, running full tilt at Spencer. Hotch was standing at the backyard gate, Spencer hadn’t even realized that they had been outside in the back.

“Spencer, come and play,” Jack signed, his little fingers moving so fast. Spencer smiled at Jack, and when the younger boy held out his hand for Spencer to take, Spencer couldn’t say no. Jack tugged on him, and Spencer allowed himself to be dragged into the backyard of Hotch’s house.

“I’m sorry,” Spencer signed at Hotch as soon as Jack let go of his hand. “I looked at the clock in my apartment wrong and thought I was going to be late not over an hour early.”

“It’s fine, Reid. Jack saw you, and he couldn’t get the gate open, so I had to open it. You can hang out here with him instead of me having to bring him inside when I start to cut the potatoes.”

“I don’t think that I should be the one to stay outside with him. I’d rather cut potatoes.” Spencer knew that most kids didn’t like him and Jack would figure that out soon. He did not want to have the kid hate him.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t understand all of that. I’m getting better at sign language, but I am not that good.”

Spencer dug out his tablet and laid it on the wooden picnic table setting it so that he could type and the speaker wasn’t muffled by being on the table. Spencer was happy with his newest case for the tablet.

I said that I don’t think that I should be the one to be outside with Jack. I’d rather cut potatoes.

“But you are a guest and if you don’t want to be alone with Jack that is fine but I won’t allow you to help me cook for you.”

“Why?” Spencer asked, going back to signing.

“I wasn’t raised to allow guests to do work inside of my house.” Hotch gave Spencer a smile that said that Hotch got into that with people before and that Hotch usually won. “Jack isn’t going to need much in the way of watching. I just haven’t quite relaxed enough yet to allow him out of the eyesight of an adult yet. You can sit and read or do whatever you want. I’ll check on the two of you. The window above the sink has a perfect view of the backyard.”

Spencer looked over at where Jack was and saw that the boy was having fun playing in the sandbox. Spencer allowed the statistics on the cleanliness of sandboxes in neighborhoods like this to himself, but he nodded at Hotch. The man gave him a quick smile, and Spencer knew that it was the same smile that he pasted on for everything and everyone. There was nothing personal to it. Spencer wondered if after everything that had happened if it was the only smile that he could muster up. Spencer wouldn’t be shocked. Hotch passed by Spencer as he headed into the kitchen and Spencer froze when he felt a hand land on his shoulder and squeeze. The man said nothing else to him as he disappeared from sight.

There was a light breeze, but the weather promised to be hot as time passed in the day, Spencer pushed up the sleeves of his shirt and looked at Jack again. The boy was content by himself. Spencer watched him as he drank his coffee. Jack wasn’t like other kids that Spencer had been around for long periods of time. Beside his traumatic muteness, Jack still didn’t act like other kids. He looked up to make sure that Spencer was there, but he was content to entertain himself.

“Haley and I both had siblings, but we had our share of friends that were only children, and we saw other kids from friends of ours who needed attention every single second of them being awake. Even from when he was able to crawl, we taught him to entertain himself and use his imagination. I’ve watched him build and tear down castles for up to five hours before,” Hotch said as he came out a while later. He had two mugs in his hand. He set one down in front of Spencer, and Spencer knew that it wasn’t coffee. There was a scent wafting up in the air that Spencer couldn’t place. He knew that it was tea, but it wasn’t just the regular tea or even just a strong black.

“What is this?” Spencer asked, pointing at the cup.

“Tea. It’s a blend of Earl Grey that one of my coworkers gave to me. I find that in the aftermath of my injury, sometimes in the afternoon and evening my stomach can’t handle coffee, so I carry tea with me now. I think that she said that it had lavender as well as the normal bergamot. I watched you finish off what I assume was coffee, and you look nervous enough already that I think that if you get much more coffee inside of yourself, you might vibrate through the ground.” That smile that was fake was plastered on Hotch’s face again.

“Actually, it’s impossible to vibrate enough to slip through anything much less the ground below my feet.” Spencer reached out and grabbed his tablet, knowing that to tell Hotch about it accurately, he would need it.

“You mean that abilities like the X-Men have are not possible?” Hotch asked, and it took a few seconds of Spencer staring at him to figure out that the man was joking. Spencer ducked his head down not able to take the look that Hotch was giving him.

“I don’t think you want a lecture on what is factual and what is not when it comes to the X-Men.” Spencer kept his head down as he signed at Hotch.

“Not at the moment I do not, but at some other point I would have a lot of fun discussing various superheroes and their abilities, factual or not. Jack has an affinity for superheroes, so I have read up on a lot of the newer ones.” Hotch laid a hand on Spencer’s shoulder again before he stood up and moved closer to Jack. Spencer could barely hear the man say something to his son, Jack nodded and made a big deal about brushing off his hands, and after getting up off of his knees, he cleaned off what sand he could before stepping out of the sandbox. Spencer watched as Hotch picked the lid up and laid it on the top. There were several sharp sounds of locks shutting, and Spencer realized that the sandbox was handmade, snaps kept the lid on it, and he saw a trap being thrown over the top of it and then it was hooked at the four corners to stakes in the ground, keeping water out of the box. Spencer smiled because that was a sandbox that he wouldn’t mind playing in with Hotch making sure that the neighbor animals and wildlife were kept out of it and wouldn’t use it for a receptacle for their waste.

Spencer took a drink of his tea and nearly spit it out when Jack stepped onto the little back porch area and started to strip out of his clothes. Spencer diverted his eyes away from the scene, looking down into the depths of his tea. He wasn’t going to look up until he was sure that Jack was clothed again or just wholly gone from sight.

“Reid, I’m going to give Jack a bath real quick. Feel free to wander inside as soon as you want. I’ll be starting the eggs as soon as I am done,” Hotch called out, and Spencer waved a hand at the man, sighing as he heard the back door slide shut. Spencer looked up to see that the clothes that Jack had been wearing were laying over the back of one of the deck chairs that were in the shade of the roof of the porch. There was only a pair of pants and a shirt, so it was obvious that it was play clothes and the boy had taken them off to make sure that no sand got into the house. Spencer remembered his childhood, sand was a non-entity. It got everywhere no matter what one did so playing in the sand didn’t have the same issue that it did here. Spencer remembered picnics with his mom in the desert after his father had left.

A large umbrella was used to keep the sun off of them so that they wouldn’t burn and they would spend as long as they could out in the fresh air taking turns reading to each other or just sitting and reading silently to themselves. Spencer rubbed his chest and the ache in his heart.

Spencer took another sip of his tea before he stood up, setting the mug on top of his travel mug to be able to open the door. He made sure that his bag wasn’t going to fall down off of his shoulder even as he reached out for the door handle to slide the glass open.

Less than ten minutes after Spencer sat down at the table in the kitchen, the sound of bare feet near running on the floor told Spencer that Jack was done with his bath. Spencer kept his head down just in case the boy was naked again but as a flash of red and blue passed by Spencer looked and saw that he was dressed in Spider-man clothes. Hotch was behind only a single spot on his shirt that was wet to say that he had been bathing a child.

“How do you like your tea?”

Spencer took a sip and smiled at him.

“You were so worked up that I thought that more caffeine would be bad but I only have juice other than coffee so I thought that a cup of tea would be good.”

Spencer mouthed the word thanks to Hotch, and it wasn’t until Hotch was looking at him like he had grown another head that Spencer realized what he had done. Spencer ducked his head again, but Hotch said nothing at all just turned towards the stove. Spencer waited until Jack was coming towards him with a coloring book and crayons.

“Will you color with me?” Jack signed after he had set down his burden. Jack slid the second book over towards him, and Spencer realized that it was a lot more detailed than a kid’s coloring book would be. Spencer opened it up and looked at what was already done inside and realized that it was the one that Hotch used when coloring with Jack. A pencil box full of colored pencils was scooted over next.

“Sure.” Spencer found a picture in the middle that was a mandala that he could already see how he wanted it to look like when it was done. Spencer dug through the pencils and found them to be of excellent quality. Spencer was finishing picking his colors when he felt a hand on his side pushing. Spencer leaned back in his chair, and Jack crawled up into his lap, sitting with his legs draped on either side of Spencer’s right leg. Spencer wrapped his right arm around Jack on instinct, holding the boy in place. Jack did nothing but start to pick out a color from his box of crayons. Jack began to color, and Spencer just stared at him for what felt like minutes before he looked at Hotch.

Hotch was paying attention to cracking eggs before he started to whisk them. Spencer turned his eyes to the drawing in front of him and moved his chosen pencil to his left hand before he began to color in the areas that he wanted to be that color. Spencer made himself not look up because he didn’t want to know what Hotch thought about the way that they were sitting. No child, no matter if they were a younger cousin from Spencer’s distant relatives ever wanted to be around him much less sit in his lap.

Jack spent the entire time that they were all waiting for brunch to be served sitting in Spencer’s lap and coloring. Hotch said nothing about it, even when he set down Spencer and Jack’s plates. Jack’s was set in front of him with a glass of what looked like a cranberry like juice while Spencer got orange juice. Jack cleaned up his book and his crayons, setting them in the seat beside him while Spencer slipped his pencils back into the case they were in and closed the book. As soon as he did, Hotch grabbed the two things and set them on the little island in the middle of the kitchen.

“I could have got my own food,” Spencer pointed out.

“It’s no big deal. I gave Jack the amounts that he eats typically and then split the rest up among us. He might steal a bit or two of bacon from your plate but other than that, if you don’t eat it all, it’s okay.

“Are you a bacon thief?” Spencer asked Jack as the boy shoved a bite of eggs into his mouth. Jack nodded his head up and down very quickly, and if Spencer didn’t know what the human body could endure, he would have sworn that his head would have popped off.

Hotch laughed at his son’s antics. The rest of the meal was silent, Jack eating his food and asking his father if he could be excused when he was done. Jack moved to the living room, playing with something on the coffee table.

“What did you need me for?” Spencer asked. Jack seemed to be okay.

“He’s not feeling well with the cold, and he was getting frustrated with my inability to understand all of his words. The one sentence that he was painstaking in making me understand was that you would understand him. He refused to take the medication that I wanted to give him last night until his coughing got so bad that he begged for it. I want to understand why he doesn’t want to take medicine. He’s never balked at taking things before. From his mom or me. I really don’t want to call his psychologist as she is on vacation before school starts.”

Spencer pulled his tablet from his bag where he had stored it after finishing with it outside.

This will be easier to talk to you. Did this start while Jack was away from you?” Spencer typed out carefully on the tablet, making sure the volume was down.

“Yes, and I called Jessica and asked her about it, and she’s not had to give him anything so whatever it was started after he left here after I was attacked and before she got to him.”

You mentioned cancer, and I know those mood problems were a part of the symptoms but would, or should I say, could your ex-wife have used things like Benadryl to make him sleep? If he was causing a problem.” Spencer hated asking, but the look on Hotch’s face said that he hadn’t thought about that before and it was dawning on him that maybe he should have.

“Jack, come here please,” Hotch called out.

Jack set down whatever he was playing with and came into the kitchen. Hotch shoved his empty brunch plate back from his seat, and Spencer grabbed it as well as Jack’s and his own to at least put in the sink. Hotch picked Jack up and set him down on the spot in front of him on the table so that they were kind of looking eye to eye.

“Jack, why won’t you take the medicine that you need to feel better?” Hotch asked.

Spencer heard nothing, so he turned around to see Jack looking at him and signing something. What the boy said kind of broke his heart.

“Mommy gave me pills and said that they would make me sleepy and then when I woke up we would be on vacation. We weren’t. We were in the bad place, and mommy took them one night. I watched her, and she never woke up again.”

“Reid?” Hotch asked, but his tone said that he understood enough of what Jack had said that he looked distraught.

Spencer debated for several seconds whether he should try and use sign language to get Hotch to understand or just use his tablet. In the end, he decided his tablet. Spencer moved back to the table and sat down.

Haley took sleeping pills the night that her cancer killed her. Jack was given some kind of sleeping pill to take him away from here, probably to keep him calm. He doesn’t like the medications that make him sleepy, and most children’s cold medicines make them very sleepy. If you would like, I can help you find pills that won’t make him sleepy, even if it’s adult medication that’s cut down to be dosed for kids until you can get ahold of his primary care physician.

“Thank you. I will see about finding some of those in the store, and we can go from there. I can text you?” Hotch seemed a lot calmer than he had been, now that he fully understood what was wrong with his son. Spencer nodded his answer and closed his tablet. He didn’t know how long he should stay. What he was there for was done, he had eaten, and as far as Spencer could tell there was no reason that he couldn’t leave.

Spencer pointed at the door, and Hotch held out a hand for him to wait.

“Jack, why don’t you go dig your soccer ball from the bush, and we can see about kicking it around the yard for a while.”

Jack nodded and jumped off of the table before going outside. Hotch moved to stand by the door, watching his son.

“Thank you. I’ll make sure to talk to Jack’s psychologist about this, and we can work around medication. If I can’t find something that won’t make him drowsy, I’ll text you. Thank you. You really don’t understand how much this has helped. I don’t know if him not feeling well was just making him cranky, or he’s getting fed up with not being able to make me understand.”

Spencer smiled at Hotch, not wanting to get into how hard it can be when a grown-up can’t or won’t understand what one is saying when one is a child. Spencer had been there as a child as well. The only difference was that Hotch cared that he couldn’t understand and tried his hardest to make sure that Jack was being heard. Spencer grabbed his bag from the chair, drained his tea and moved to slip it into the sink. On the way back through he grabbed his travel mug and started towards the front door.

“Reid,” Hotch called out.

Spencer turned around and looked at him.

“When you got here earlier, I could tell you were upset. If you want to talk about it, I don’t mind listening.”

Spencer shrugged and waved it off. He lifted his bag up to slip the strap over his head. When he was done, he looked up at Hotch to see the man reaching out to him. Hotch’s hand landed on Spencer’s shoulder, heavy and warm. It wasn’t quite a look that Spencer would expect Hotch to give Jack but it was a glare, and Spencer caved. He pulled his cell phone out.

My girlfriend and I broke up last night.

“I’m sorry. I know that’s rough.”

Spencer shrugged and started to type again. “I’m used to it. Everyone has an issue with me at some point. Either I’m not disabled enough for their liking, or I am not normal enough, or they can’t take the fact that I am nonverbal. There is also the fact that I am too damaged from my disability for most normal people to cope with.

Spencer didn’t realize what he had said until he took in the look on Hotch’s face. The man looked like he didn’t know what to say. Spencer ducked his head and pulled back out of the hold of Hotch’s hand, and Spencer didn’t stop moving until he was at the end of the block. Spencer didn’t look back at the house even though he really wanted to. Spencer didn’t know what he would have done if he had seen a look of pity on Hotch’s face. Spencer didn’t know what he was thinking telling him that. Spencer had never told anyone that aspect of his life. Even his mom. He never cried on her shoulder about how different he was.

The trip home was a blur. Spencer didn’t really pay attention to what he was doing, but he knew he was home when he heard Curiosity chirp at him and come running. Spencer picked him up and moved to the little office he set up in the secondary room in the apartment. Spencer grabbed the paperwork that he had printed out weeks ago. Spencer signed his name and dated it before he sealed it. Spencer remembered the address that he had looked up for the Academy and made sure that his printing of the address was perfect.

Whenever Rossi was ready to see about fulfilling his part of getting Spencer at least a shot on the team, Spencer was ready.

Chapter 7-October 2009

Aaron looked at the calendar and realized that it was October. He knew that it had been October for nine days, but it was the full realization that it had been over two months since Brannon had resigned from the team and still there was not a replacement for him. The last had left in the middle of the case, he had been unable to deal with the kidnapping and death of seven kids with an eighth having been kidnapped but not yet dead. There were less and fewer applications coming in from agents that Aaron didn’t consider cannon fodder right off the bat.

Being on the job and seeing many burn out, Aaron was getting better at picking out the ones that would be like Gideon or Greenaway. Still, it was hard to do it from things written on paper. Aaron liked to meet the prospective agents and go from there.

“You know if you keep staying this late, your son is going to stage a rebellion,” Dave said as he entered Aaron’s office and took a seat on Aaron’s couch, forcing Aaron up and off of his desk so that he wouldn’t have to talk loud across the room. Aaron snagged his tumbler of scotch as he passed, Aaron had only poured a half of a finger, wanting the sharp taste more than the feel of the alcohol in his system.

“My son is currently having a pizza night out with Jessica. I think, at Chuck E. Cheese. His hands were moving way too fast when Jessica picked him up after she got off of work. Besides, I would rather stay late tonight than this Friday.”

“He’s doing well at New Haven?”

“Jack’s happier there than he was at that little preschool that Haley took him to visit before everything happened. He’s flourishing there, and there are a lot of older students who know sign language as it’s one of the secondary languages offered there and many take it and Spanish from what Jessica told me so many of the kids can talk to him, even though he’s a baby according to the seniors. Also, I’m learning that Jack is near absorbing Sign Language. He’s learning more words in a day than I can.”

“Are you afraid that with him learning sign language and not having a struggle that he won’t ever regain his voice?”

“No. I don’t think so. I agree with the assessment of it being because Jack doesn’t feel safe, even now at home, he’s scared he’s going to lose me or Jessica or any number of things. He’ll get it back when he’s ready and not before.”

“You are holding a lot on the faith that it’s all that is wrong.”

“I’ve also learned that there is nothing wrong with my son. I accept him for who he is because anything less is me turning into my father and I won’t do that. If he truly never speaks a word for the rest of his life, I’ll be content if he grows up happy and healthy.”

Dave looked at Aaron like he had never seen him before. Aaron though just stared back at him, waiting for him to make a comment.

“I think that’s the first time that you had ever admitted that your father disliked you when you were growing up.”

Aaron still didn’t say anything about it. He had never needed to admit anything about his life growing up. The team did not need to know, and Aaron did well enough at making sure that he stayed unbiased when cases with abusive parents came up.

“I came in here for a reason, and it’s work related, but I had to ask about Jack. If you are content with the way that things are going with him and you both are happy, I’ll keep my mouth shut.” Dave took a drink of the tumbler that he had in his hand before he looked into it for a second before draining it. “We need a permanent team member. This thing where we swap one person for another and sometimes we have someone and sometimes we don’t isn’t working.”

“I know Dave, but I can’t make a perfect candidate fall into our lap. This is a voluntary unit.”

“How do you feel about me bringing in someone on a single case basis? No one else need know who they are and if they don’t do well and they don’t do good on the case, nothing else needs to be said or done, and they will go back to their unit?”

Aaron glared at Dave for a few seconds, gender-neutral pronouns were not uncommon in Dave’s musings like that, but usually, he slipped up which meant that he was trying his hardest to make sure that he didn’t slip up.

“When can they meet with the team and me?”

“I can talk to them tomorrow and have them come around.”

“Well, we are going to be working on some cold cases tomorrow. I had JJ pull a few. It’s from days where it was the BSU. Why don’t you bring him around near the end of the day and we can see how he does with a cold case before we jump them into an active one. Then if he does fine, three cases trial.”

“I’ll bring them around close to the end of the day,” Dave said with a smile on his face. Aaron frowned because Aaron using a male pronoun did not trip Dave up.

“Good night, Dave. I’ll head home and leave the pile of resumes and jackets for another day.”

“Will you have time to join Jessica and Jack at Chuck E. Cheese?”

“I don’t know.” Aaron drained his last few sips of scotch before he moved to his desk to slip the glass back into it. He’d clean it out in the morning. He grabbed his things and walked out of the office before Dave had even left it. In the elevator down to the parking garage, Aaron texted Jessica. A message popped up just as he was sitting down in the car. They were still at Chuck E. Cheese, and she would place an order for pizza for him and distract Jack and make sure that Aaron arriving was a surprise.

Putting Jack to bed that night was hard for Aaron because the boy wouldn’t stop talking about his day at school. Aaron hated making him sleep, but he knew that Jack needed it. Jack finally fell asleep with his hands still moving as his eyes closed. Aaron couldn’t help but stare at him for nearly an hour as he slept. He meant what he told Dave, as long as Jack was happy and healthy, he didn’t care if the boy never spoke again.

“You know that he’s not going to magically disappear on your right?” Jessica asked, her voice barely in a whisper but it startled Aaron all the same. He looked into the dark hallway and saw her standing there. She was in a pair of thin sleep pants and an oversized T-shirt. She must have come out of her part of the house to talk to him and found him not in the living room like he usually was after Jack went to bed.

“No, but I hate missing even a single minute of seeing him like this. He fell asleep telling me all about school. He used to do that on the weekends that I had him. Reid was right when he said that Jack was still the same boy that I knew just one part of him has changed. I love him just as he is.”

“And that is why he’s going to get his voice back when he’s ready, but still he is going to get it back. He just needs some normalcy for a while. It might be a new normalcy but still.”

“I’ll pick Jack up from school tomorrow and bring him back to the office with me. We are working on cold cases, and I finally found a desk for my office today when I was looking online. Anderson is going to pick it up in the morning. I think Jack is going to love it. I already have the beanbag chair in my office for him. Now with the desk, I don’t mind having him spend all night with me if I have to stay past five.” Aaron looked down at Jack, pressing a kiss to the young boy’s forehead. Jack shuffled around in his sleep, but he smiled. When he was sure that Jack wasn’t waking up, Aaron got up off the bed and stepped out of the room. Jessica was right outside, a smile on her face.

“He’s going to enjoy that. He has a session after school ends tomorrow.”

“That’s fine. Dave is bringing in a trial agent. We are going to go over a cold case before we take them out on an actual case.”

“I know that you’ve talked about how hard it’s been to find a replacement for Brannon. Do you think this new one will work?”

“I have no clue. I don’t even know who he or she is. Dave’s being secretive and I know that he would have told me if I had pushed him, but I just don’t feel like it. I wouldn’t care if it was a monkey as long as he or she gets along with the team and help contribute something to cases.”

“You need the team to settle down so you can settle down.” Jessica linked her arm with Aaron’s and pulled him down into the living room. Aaron didn’t fight her. He knew not to fight the Brooks’ women on things like this. However, when she pushed him down to sit in front of the couch instead of on it, he started to fight a little, but a swift but gentle kick to the back of his knee had him dropping down to sit with his legs stretched out in front of him. Jessica sat behind him on the couch, her hands going to his back, on top of his shirt.

“Jessica,” Aaron warned.

“I know. Haley told me that you never really liked to have your shirt off to get a back rub but Aaron even after spending this evening with Jack, your muscles are tight. I won’t go under the shirt.” Jessica’s fingers were soft, just caressing his back with the dress shirt still on him.

Aaron sat ramrod straight as her hands just moved back and forth across his shoulders. He didn’t fight her, but he didn’t relax either. When she didn’t stop and didn’t go under his dress shirt, Aaron relaxed a little, but there were too many clothes between the skin and her hands, so Aaron worked on unbuttoning his dress shirt and pulled it off. He still had his undershirt on, and he couldn’t help but tense again as her hands landed on his newly revealed shirt. Jessica made a humming noise before she started to scratch just lightly. She moved her hands in circles that made no sense but it didn’t allow Aaron to anticipate anything and his body relaxed even without his permission.

Before he knew it, Aaron was curling his legs up to his chest and laying his head on his knees, relaxed entirely under her hands. She had touched him more than anyone else, outside of Jack, had in years. Aaron didn’t like people touching his back. He never had. Aaron knew that what his father had done to him as a kid and a teenager had scarred him and he didn’t want people seeing the scars. Even at the height of their relationship, Aaron never showed his back to Haley. When they showered, he kept his back away from her eyes, washing it himself. She’d never questioned it and never fought about it, even though he’d scrub her back, but he never allowed her to do his.

“See this isn’t so bad is it?” Jessica asked as she finally started to dig her fingers into his flesh. Aaron hummed in agreement. This wasn’t that bad as long as she didn’t push it. He knew that he should feel weird but he had massaged her shoulders after she’d been working in her basement rooms, so this was just an extension of that. Aaron wasn’t even sure that he had it in him to want her sexually. He’d always cared for and had come to love her like a sister. Jessica was pretty, but to Aaron, it was abstract, like when one looked at a painting or an animal.

Aaron didn’t realize that he had fallen asleep until he began to fall to the side.. He had meant to get a shower in before he went to bed, but now the thought of doing that made him exhausted.

“Thank you,” Aaron whispered. Jessica leaned over and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tightly.

“You’re welcome. Now I think it’s time for both of us to go to bed. I won’t go in until late so I’ll take Jack into school before going to the office to finish up everything to get my office here setup. Then you can pick him up when he’s done.”

“Sounds good.” Aaron pushed himself up to his feet, and as he rolled his shoulders, he realized that she was right that he had needed the massage. His shoulders didn’t feel so tight, and he felt really good. He might have to set up an appointment with a masseuse in the area that he liked. He might even contact the physical therapist that he had used after he had been stabbed to see if they knew anybody. Aaron might have hated them when he had been under their thumb, but he did know that they had helped him a lot in the long run. Jessica slipped down into the basement while Aaron went up to his room. Aaron did something that he hadn’t done in a long time when he went to change into a pair of pants to sleep in. He opened the bathroom door so that he could see the mirror on it and looked in the mirror over the sink. He could see the faint scars that were crisscrossed all over his back. The worst was a thin one on Aaron’s upper back that he remembered had been the only time that his father had ever taken a knife to him. Aaron had never understood why his father had done that and he didn’t think that he ever would. Aaron had been sixteen when it had happened, and not long after, his father had been dead.

Aaron shut off the light to the bathroom and forced his eyes away from the mirror and made himself lay down in bed. Aaron expected nightmares that night, but nothing came. It was for once a peaceful sleep.


Aaron was hanging up after a phone call with Garrett of the IRT when he heard Dave’s voice. Dave had left over an hour before to get the trial agent that he wanted to try on the team. Aaron stayed seated in his chair as he listened for the voice of the person to waft up into his office but nothing came. Aaron wondered how scared the person was.

“Now, this is Aaron’s office, and the rest of the team is in the round table room. That’s where we will go next. I think it’s time that you met them.”

There was silence again, and Aaron finally stood up from his seat as Dave and the person started up the steps, it wasn’t until Dave pulled the agent into Aaron’s office that Aaron realized why he couldn’t hear the agent, the agent wasn’t speaking. It was also then, and the look on Reid’s face, that Aaron realized that Dave had told Reid nothing of why he was there. Reid was looking around like a kid at a zoo.

“Reid, welcome to the BAU,” Aaron said as he waved at the younger man. Reid waved back. “Did you bring your phone or better yet your tablet with you?”

Reid dug into his ever-present messenger bag and pulled out both items.

“Good. Good. Now as Dave said, you’ll be meeting the team in a few minutes, but first I think that you need to know why you are here, don’t you think Dave?”

“I’m not here to talk with Jack?” Reid looked at Dave like the man had personally offended him.

“Yes, Dave, what exactly did you tell Reid?”

“He asked me if he was needed to talk to Jack and I kind of didn’t answer him and let him just think that. I wanted him to meet the team with no pressure on either side. I see though that plan didn’t go past its first stage.”

“Reid, Dave brought you here to give you a three case trial for being the newest member of the team. I assume that you do actually want to be on the team and Dave’s not forcing this, right?”

Reid nodded his head, and for a few seconds, Spencer was acting like Jack, his youthfulness pushing past the agent exterior that Aaron was used to seeing. Reid’s eyes tracked over to where Jack’s backpack was.

“Jack’s with Agent Anderson I think raiding the snack machine on the eighth floor. According to Anderson, the snacks on that floor are better.” Aaron saw Reid’s mouth quirk into a half smile before Aaron looked at Dave. “I expect to see the normal paperwork on my desk tomorrow morning.”

“Of course, now everyone is in the room.” Dave left Reid standing in the doorway to Aaron’s office and moved into the roundtable room with no words. Aaron took pity on the man and motioned for him to turn around. Aaron stepped up with him as they both exited the office all the way and it was second nature to lay his hand on Reid’s shoulder, to help ground him and to show the team that Aaron at least agreed with this on a trial basis. Aaron knew that the muteness was going to be a hurdle, but it was one that was worth getting over if Reid was good at what he did.

“Team, this is Doctor Spencer Reid, he’s from the Hoover building and will be joining us as a trial agent for the next three cases.”

“Hello,” Morgan and Prentiss said at the same time that Garcia and JJ said “Hi.”

Spencer slipped his tablet into his bag and tapped on his phone. “Hello.

Garcia’s eyes widened while the rest of the team’s mouths fell open. It was evident that Spencer’s phone had spoken for him. Aaron started to say something when Reid pulled away from him. Aaron followed Reid’s gaze and saw that he was looking at the case that was on the board. Morgan stood up and moved to turn the board away from Reid’s eyes, but Reid darted forward his phone clattering to the table top beside where Aaron had been working. Reid’s mouth was moving, but of course, no words were coming out. He pulled a free chair out and laid his bag on it before pulling his tablet out. The case lid was flipped open and then he tapped at the screen for a few seconds before it started to speak for him.

Were any of the suspects at the time teachers?”

“No,” Dave answered as he took a seat and motioned for Morgan to do the same. Reid frowned and looked back at the board. All that was up was pictures of the crime scenes where the women had been killed and their bodies left for their families to find. The final two had been murdered in backyards and not inside the houses, meaning that the women had tried to escape as soon as they realized that they were going to die.

“Hotch?” Morgan asked.

Before Aaron could say anything, Reid turned and looked at the files scattered across the table.

Who has the files on the victims?” Reid’s eyes roved over the faces of the team until Morgan raise his hand. “Good, Agent Morgan, were any of the families in the middle of a remodel or buying another house?”

“All of the families were in the middle of moving houses or buying a new house.”

Can we go there?” Reid asked.

“What?” JJ asked.

I need more data than what we have here and going to the city will give me more up to date data or data that matches the time period that we need.

“Hotch?” Prentiss asked, and she looked at Reid like she was looking at an UnSub.

“We don’t have another active case at the moment, and I would rather try and do a cold case with Reid for his first case than a truly active one.”

I don’t think that the UnSub is inactive or dormant at all.

“What?” Aaron and Dave asked at the same time. Dave looked at Aaron before he left the room. Aaron moved over to see if he could see what Reid was seeing but he couldn’t.

Not of his own choice. I’m missing something I can’t figure it out.

Reid moved to the table and sat down in the chair that he had set his bag in. He was sitting in the front half of the seat and grabbed the files that were right in front of him, and he started to flip through them. The team was watching him with a barely disguised look of minor horror on their face. Reid devoured each of the files that were related to the case which was a lot of them.

When Reid was done, he looked up at the team and saw that they were all staring at him. He tapped at his tablet.

“I have an IQ of one hundred and eighty-seven, an eidetic memory, and a reading speed of twenty thousand words per minute.” There was no way that Reid had typed all of that with the few taps that he had done, so it had to have been programmed into the tablet.

“Where the hell have you been all of our lives?” Prentiss asked, trying to break the tension in the room but Reid just looked at her with a confused look on his face.

I have been at the Hoover building since I graduated the academy, before that I have no reason to tell you where I was.

“Reid, she meant that someone with an IQ and abilities like yours would have been a boon to the team before now,” Dave said as he entered the room again. Reid looked at him still like he didn’t understand but he said nothing. “By the time that we get to the airfield, the jet will be ready. Jack’s already agreed that we could take until Friday afternoon to work with the newbie.”

“Then let’s get our bags. Wheels up in fifteen,” Aaron said as he turned from the room to hopefully waylay Anderson. Jack was not in Aaron’s office, and as Aaron was turning towards the stairs Anderson and Jack had gone down earlier, Jack was now coming up them. Jack saw Aaron first and then looked at the rest of the team. The bag of chips in his hands was dropped, and he ran forward towards them. Reid thankfully was present enough to put his tablet into his bag and crouch as Jack hit the top steps. Morgan almost ran into Reid, looking down at the younger man like he didn’t understand what was going on just as Jack nearly jumped onto Reid. Reid wrapped his arms around Jack and hugged him tight before leaning back and signing at him. His hands were still going too fast for Aaron to read so he didn’t even try.

“Reid has helped me with Jack on a few occasions when I needed help to understand my son. He is also the reason that Jack got into New Haven on such short notice, even despite his muteness.”

The look on Morgan’s face was priceless as he watched Reid and Jack communicating with their fingers and hands. Aaron was loathe to stop them as Jack looked very happy, but before Aaron could step up, Jack turned and found Anderson right there with his bag of chips and the agent led Jack into Aaron’s office.

“I’ll stay with him, Hotch until Jessica gets here. I got enough of what Agent Reid said to understand that you have a case?”

“Yes, thank you.” Aaron nodded towards his office. “You can use my office to help keep a closer eye on Jack. I’ll text Jessica as soon as I get to the jet.”

“I can see why Jack knows some fascinating and formal words now.” Anderson smiled at Reid and gave him a wave and signed his name at Reid before he went into Aaron’s office. Aaron had been shocked that Anderson knew at least the alphabet and some words in ASL, but it had been nice when Jack did come to the office.

“We need to get going, Reid do you have a go bag ready? If not we have a budget for picking up items given that sometimes, even though we fly private, not everything is always loaded properly.”

I do have a bag in the trunk of my car. Even my cases sometimes needed me to travel. I do need to get ahold of someone to come over and check on Curiosity.

“You can do that on the jet. You will be confined to the station for right now unless I am able to take you to dump sites. It’s standard for all trial agents.”

Yes, that’s fine.

Aaron watched as Dave escorted Reid out, talking to him as he did.

“Hotch,” Morgan said as Aaron started down the steps. Aaron turned back to look at him. “If he’s good at what we do, I don’t care about his…muteness?” Morgan posted the ending like a question.

“Yes. Reid’s just mute, not deaf. His phone and tablet do well with talking for him, but he does know sign language as you have seen. He’s been an agent since he was legally able to go to the academy. After this case, we can all discuss anything else more.”

There was nothing else that needed to be said. Morgan moved to his desk while JJ proceeded to her office. Prentiss hung back, but Aaron knew that she was going to be okay with it all. Aaron looked at Garcia.

“I’ll text you his phone number so that you two can talk.”

“Thank you, Hotch. I’ll be ready to go by the time that you guys land.”


Spencer settled down into the seat on the jet that was open. He had been the last one on it. Spencer fastened the seatbelt and hoped that no one sat across from him. Hotch and Rossi were seated around the table while Agents Jareau and Morgan were seated just behind them at the open set of seats. Agent Prentiss was sitting to their side across the aisle. Spencer was sitting as far from them as he could get as he pulled out his tablet and wedged it between his leg and the arm of the chair. He would need it while the team went over the case as it stood. Spencer wasn’t even sure that he would be able to actually help find the killer, but maybe he could help steer them in the right direction.

The chime of a text on his phone had Spencer digging around inside of his bag for the device. He saw that it was from Raven and that as soon as he could, he needed to update the word database on his phone. Spencer added that to his list of things to do once he was connected to Wi-Fi somewhere.

Alex, can you check on Curiosity every night for a few days?

Spencer slipped his phone between his legs as he heard the doors shut and the pilots got ready for takeoff. Spencer was thankful that he was a good flyer. He didn’t mind flying, and sometimes he really liked it, the hum of people around him was soothing. This was the first time that Spencer had flown on a private jet though. For other cases that he worked on, he flew commercial. He understood why the BAU had a jet though, they logged too many hours flying and going by commercial air would hinder their ability to discuss the case in a meaningful manner which meant that up to six hours of time between getting the case and landing would be wasted.

During takeoff, Spencer felt his phone vibrate, and he didn’t even try and pick it up. Instead, he looked at who was going to be his team for at least a few weeks while Hotch decided if he should become a full-time member of the team. Everyone that Spencer could see was relaxed and settled. Hotch was looking at something in a case file while Prentiss was just staring out the window. He couldn’t see enough of Morgan or Jareau to know what they were doing, but they weren’t moving. The jet leveled off, and a minute and a half after that the seatbelt sign light disappeared.

Spencer unhooked his seatbelt before he lifted his phone to read the text.

Sure. I called your office. James is in town, and he wanted to go out to dinner. Should I beg off for you?

I’m headed to Texas for a cold case with the BAU.

Spencer didn’t know what she was going to say to that. Alex knew of his want to join the team and his refusal of Gideon getting him on the team right out of the Academy. She worried though about the pressure as well as issues to due to his muteness.

I’m shocked, Spencer. I didn’t know that you had put your resume in for the opening on the team.

Rossi has wanted to get me on the team for a little bit, and I sent him the resume and application directly and left it up to him to give it to Hotch.

This has to do with the case that you can’t talk about, doesn’t it?

Yes.

Just be careful.

I’ll be at the station and only go to the dumpsites with Hotch.

I hope they will let you stay in a hotel.

Spencer smiled despite what was going on because he knew that it was Alex’s way of showing him that she wasn’t upset.

I can always sleep under whatever table is in the room the BAU is given.

A smile was all that Spencer got back from that one, and he closed the texting function on the phone and looked at the rest of the jet. Everyone was talking silently. Spencer didn’t know if he should get up and move closer or just wait. He was the outsider, so he stayed where he was, choosing to do a little reading on his tablet.

“Reid,” Hotch called out over ten minutes later.

Spencer looked up to see that Rossi was seated on the couch with Morgan and that JJ and Prentiss were no longer in their seats. Hotch was standing up and waved him over. Spencer slipped his shoulder strap over his head and set the bag on the seat beside him. He left his cell phone where it was and instead just brought the tablet with him.

“I don’t know if you would prefer the window or aisle seat.”

Spencer didn’t use his tablet to answer but instead just slipped into the seat that was by the window. Hotch settled in beside him. Spencer looked up to see Jareau and Prentiss across from them.

“If you’ll let me see your tablet I can get it setup for accessing the jet’s wifi,” Jareau said, holding her hand out. Spencer handed over his tablet after unlocking it. She tapped away at the device, and after it was handed back, Spencer saw that it was connected to the Wi-Fi. Spencer frowned at his tablet as it started to download the update without him telling it to. Raven only ever did that if something big was up.

“My talking app is updating. I won’t be able to use it. Paper and pen?” Spencer asked Hotch.

“Sure. Dave always has extra of those with him. Dave your notebook and your non-fancy pen.”

Rossi stood up and didn’t question Hotch as he grabbed what Hotch asked him to. It was slid over to Spencer as soon as Dave sat down again. Spencer listened to the team talked about that case, not contributing anything and just listening. Spencer worked better at listening to everyone else and getting their opinions or even their way of interpreting the situation and then giving his advice. It had nothing to do with his muteness and just the way that his brain worked.

The case was old, and no one but Gideon had worked on it. He was sure that Rossi had been there for Gideon to bounce his ideas off of but only Gideon’s thoughts on the case were written down. Spencer had read those when they had been in the round table room. What Spencer needed was as many angles as he could get to help his brain figure out what it was that he was seeing, but he just couldn’t put it into words.

Notes were jotted down, and when Garcia came up on the laptop screen, Spencer gave her a smile and a wave before he went back to his notes.

“None of the officers that worked the case are in the area. A few have died job-related deaths while another was killed in a fishing accident and the rest no longer live in the area but the current chief has gathered all the files that they have. Detective Kormack who was the lead never quit working on the case. He worked on it once a year, see if he could find what he had missed the first time.”

“Thank you, Garcia.”

“The hotel closest to the station and the dump sites only has three rooms. So we can either double up, or I can find another hotel.”

“Doubling up is fine. I’ll room with Reid.”

Spencer didn’t look up at Hotch’s words. Spencer had never slept in a room with someone that wasn’t his mother since the Academy, and even then it was more than one person. Spencer tried not to think about the fact that he would be sharing a bathroom with someone, he would have to be nice in the morning. It wasn’t just that, but for the moment Hotch was his boss. He was going to be sharing a room with his boss. They were going to be getting to Texas just late enough in the day that going to the crime scenes and dump sites were going to have to wait until morning.

“We can go right to the hotel, JJ. It’s going to be after ten by the time that we actually arrive. We can start fresh in the morning and get some sleep in.”

With that being the end of the discussion on the case, the rest of the team wandered away from the seats and started to work on other things. Spencer had no clue what, but he had a case file to type up, so he began to work on it on his tablet.

“Would you do better on a laptop? You can use that one if it’s work related.” Hotch’s fingers pointed at the laptop that Garcia’s bubbly face had been on.

Spencer signed his thanks and closed his file before emailing it to himself. He found the email program and logged Morgan out of it before logging himself into it.

“It’s a communal computer. It stays on the jet just for communicating with Garcia and not having to use someone’s phone. So feel free to log anyone out of anything. Even YouTube.” There was a small smile on Hotch’s face as he said it even though his eyes never left the papers that were in front of him. Hotch leaned forward, setting the papers down and started to write on it. “Does your phone need to be updated as well?”

Spencer nodded, not removing his fingers from the keyboard as he started to type out everything that he needed for the paperwork he needed to finish. He barely paid attention as Hotch got up and retrieved Spencer’s bag, setting on the table between them. He started to write something on the edge of the notebook that Spencer had been using and then turned it around to face him.

“Eidetic, meaning if you read it, you’ll remember it. That’s the password for the Wi-Fi on the jet. That way you can log your phone onto it and update it as well. Also if you are okay with it, you can download it to the laptop. That way you can use it. I watched the footage of that lecture you gave to the Academy about a year ago, you do well at using a laptop to talk as well.”

Some things are easier on a laptop as compared to a tablet, especially if I am talking for a long time or I can’t use the shortcuts that help me on a phone or tablet.

“You need anything to do this job, and I’ll make sure that you have it.”

Thanks, Hotch. I think that for right now I am set.

Hotch nodded and turned back to his paperwork. The rest of the flight was silent. Spencer could feel the stress of the day wearing him out as the jet descended down onto the airstrip in Texas. Spencer wasn’t shocked that Hotch waited until everyone else got off before he stood up from his seat and therefore allowed Spencer to get off as well.

“Hotch, Chinese?” Morgan called out.

“Sure. Reid is Chinese fine with you?” Hotch asked.

Spencer started to nod, but Rossi laughed.

“I know that it’s fine with him. I even know what he’ll get. So, Morgan why don’t we go and get it. We can drop it off at their room for them.” Rossi clasped Morgan on the shoulder and directed him towards one of the two waiting SUVs. Jareau and Prentiss looked at Rossi and Spencer. Spencer though was glaring at the man. That was not exactly the kind of thing that was going to look good once the team started to think about it. It screamed of a relationship that wasn’t there. Just because Rossi had bribed him with meals to work on the Foyet case didn’t mean that he was a close friend.

Spencer moved towards the SUV that Morgan and Rossi weren’t getting in. He watched as Hotch and Jareau walked towards where he was getting into the SUV, Prentiss was following Rossi and Morgan.

“Reid,” Hotch said when he got into the driver’s seat, and Spencer looked up at him from where he had chosen to sit in the backseat. Jareau sat down in the other front seat. “Rossi doesn’t mean anything by it. It’s just the way that he is.”

Spencer shrugged. He knew that he could tell the team exactly why Rossi knew what Chinese food that he liked but that would mean explaining the case, and it was still locked. Spencer’s part in the Foyet case was not supposed to be known. Of course, if Hotch asked, Spencer probably would not lie about the fact that he had been the one to track down Foyet and Spencer would not say he’s sorry for not contacting the BAU. There was no way that the team would have been pulled from the case that they were on and all it would have done was give Foyet time to escape. The SUV stopped in what was a police parking spot for the hotel. Spencer looked and saw that it was a nice hotel. Better than he would have expected.

“JJ, go ahead and get us all checked in. I’m going to check in with the Chief of Police and then be in.”

“Sure, Hotch.” Jareau left the SUV without another word, and Spencer wasn’t sure if he was to go with her or stay with Hotch. Spencer looked at Hotch while the man was dialing a phone number before he decided that he could at least get out of the SUV. Then Spencer could play on his tablet for a few minutes to make it look like he was staying busy. With a hand on the door handle, Spencer started to turn only to stop when he felt a hand on his knee. Spencer turned to look at Hotch.

“Stay here for a moment, please.”

Spencer nodded, dropping his hand from the handle. He pulled his phone from the inside pocket on his bag and checked if he had any messages. He hadn’t checked it since he had got off the jet. There was a picture of Curiosity from Alex.

The first of many I am sure since you are going to rock and start to be gone from home more.

Spencer smiled at the picture and saved the image so that he could make it his phone background. Curiosity had dug out a shirt of Spencer’s from his hamper and was laying on it, stretched out across the floor. Spencer tuned out the conversation with the Chief of Police and just focused on checking his personal email. He would have to talk to his professors about the classes that he was taking. He’d already been told that if he started to travel more for work that he could still take the classes and just do most of it from a distance. He was in the middle of reading over a peer review on his newest paper when he heard Hotch’s goodbye to the Chief. Spencer closed out of the article and looked at him.

“I know that this was all very sudden, but I just wanted to make sure that you are fine with all of this. I know that you were kind of swept along with it all.” Hotch looked a little upset, so Spencer just gave him a big smile and set down his phone to give two thumbs up. Hotch smiled back at him, but it was his work smile, grim and somber. Spencer didn’t realize how much of a difference there was in the Hotch that he had got used to being around with Jack and the Unit Chief Hotch.

“Is everything fine at home?”

Spencer picked up his phone again and held up the picture for Hotch to see.

“Is that…Curiosity? Is that a cat?” Hotch’s mouth was quirked in a smile that was closer to the Jack kind of smile than the work one.

“Maine Coon cat,” Spencer signed. He backed out of the texting function and opened up his pictures. He had always made sure his photographs of Curiosity were transferred from phone to phone. Spencer leaned over towards Hotch and waited for the man to lean in before he clicked on the first, right after he got Curiosity. He had been so small and had grown so big over the years of Spencer having him.

“How big will he get?” Hotch asked he reached out to hold the phone for Spencer so that he could sign. Spencer pressed a little closer so that he could still reach the phone, his shoulder pushing against Hotch’s.

Spencer smiled thanks at him before he started to sign. “He can get up to eighteen pounds if he is not overweight any, but he does have growing left to go. Not much but still. They grow until their fifth year.”

“Well, he looks like a big baby. Who do you have watching him?”

“Checking on him and a woman that I do lectures for at Georgetown. Oh!” Spencer kept on swiping and found the picture that he was looking for. He pointed at her face.

“Alex Blake. When you talk to her next, please tell her Hi for me. I’ve not seen her in years.”

Spencer nodded and took his phone from Hotch. One handed he mimed going up, and Hotch nodded. Spencer opened his door and slipped out, making sure that his messenger bag was secure before picking up his Go-Bag from where he had stashed it at his feet. Spencer fumbled with putting up his phone for a second before he felt his Go-Bag lift out of his hands. He looked at Hotch with a frown on his face.

“Let’s not have you break your phone on your first case.”

As soon as Spencer got his phone settled, Hotch handed the bag back over. Spencer wrapped both of his hands around the strap and waited for Hotch to start moving before he followed. Jareau was waiting for them at the front desk, her cell phone out like she had just got off of it.

“The families of the three main detectives who were on the case allowed other officers to go into their houses and look for personal notes on the cases. So I had one of them head this way with them. I figured that it would give Reid something to work on tonight and in the morning. I know that my first case I was too nervous to really sleep.”

Spencer nodded his thanks.

“I’ll wait for him down here then. JJ, go ahead up and show Reid which room is ours. Reid if you want to shower while you are waiting go ahead. I prefer to shower in the morning after I get a run in. Does this facility have a gym?”

“Yes, and I have the nighttime access card for it for you Hotch.” JJ handed that over as well as another card to him. “And your card is keyed to open everyone else’s rooms as well.”

“That’s fine.”

Spencer followed JJ up to the rooms, the elevator ride was thankfully short since it was silent. Spencer knew that it would take time for the members of the team to get used to him. After a case to prove himself and then just two more and if he showed that he was good at this, he would be on the team. That was his goal.


Areas changed and what had once been a good neighborhood was now rundown, and Spencer was reasonably sure several of the houses were crack houses. There had been something up with Hotch when they had woke up, so Spencer had been quite happy when the man had gone down for a run. Spencer had used that time to make coffee on the coffee pot in the room before getting dressed and ready for the day. The clothes were thankfully light enough that Spencer wasn’t going to drown in sweat. The weather actually felt really nice to Spencer. He had decided that a long sleeved dress shirt with an A-shirt under was the way to go with a light jacket if he really needed was stuffed into his messenger bag to be left in one of the SUVs for that night if they worked that long.

Hotch and Rossi were letting Spencer have the walk of each of the kill sites and the area where the victim was staged. The both of them hung back and only engaged Spencer when he asked a question or was ready to leave to go to the next.

On the fourth kill site though, Spencer heard them start to talk.

“I never asked too much about the blacked out areas on the Foyet file, Dave. I accepted that I wasn’t there to work on it so I couldn’t be upset that I wasn’t the one to catch him.”

“Okay,” Rossi said, drawing out the word meaning that he wasn’t sure exactly where Hotch was going with that. Spencer wondered if the two of them thought that they were quiet. Spencer was going to wait to see where it went before he clued them in on what exactly his hearing range was.

“I did hear that someone else was brought in to go over all of the files and to give an outside profile of the man. And that it was that person who was ultimately the one who got the thread that led to him.”

“Yes.”

“I find it very coincidental that you all of a sudden start to be friends with the protege that turned down Gideon’s proposal to put him on the team out of the academy at the same time that Foyet was found by someone outside the BAU.”

“There is no question there, Aaron.”

“Reid is the analyst that found Foyet isn’t he?” Hotch asked.

Spencer closed his eyes because if Rossi didn’t tell him yes, Spencer was sure that he was going to.

“Yes. However he was supposed to come to me with clues, but he traced him all the way while we were gone on a case, so he made the best decision with what he had in front of him. I don’t fault him for that.”

“No, I wouldn’t either. I would like to read the information about it and how he tracked him down.”

“Most of it was over my head as far as the science goes but I think that if you asked Jack he would give it to you.”

“How did you get him to work on the case? Not a lot of people would have touched the Foyet case with a ten-foot pole with someone else’s hand on the other end.”

“Easy. He wanted a shot at this. Gideon would have been the best bet but I searched him out, and I told him that I would help him get at least an interview if he helped.”

“And you bribed him with food?”

“No. I went to a shop that was close to where he lived and set up deliveries for the days I knew that he wasn’t at work. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell me to stop. Although I do know that the woman who owned the shop thought that I had designs on his body.”

“I bet that was fun.”

“She’s just over five feet tall, and she made me feel smaller than a grain of rice. I don’t know what Reid told her to make her leave me alone but she stopped glaring at me when I came in there sometimes to eat by myself.”

Spencer stood up, hoping that it would stop them from talking. He knew that nothing had been said that wasn’t the truth, but now they were getting close to personal things that Spencer didn’t need to hear. Spencer moved over to stand in front of Hotch, waiting for both men to look at him.

“I have exceptional hearing,” was all that Spencer signed before he looked at Rossi. Rossi showed no shame while Hotch had a weird look on his face. “I am done with this site, and I think it’s time to update the team.”

Spencer didn’t even wait for the both of them to say anything, he just moved to the SUV and got inside. He waited for Hotch to thank the man that currently lived at home and worked on writing down the numbers that he gleaned from seeing the areas for himself and not with the bias of the angle the photos were taken from. When the other two agents got into the SUV, nothing was said. The entire drive back to the station was silent.

When the SUV stopped in the spot beside where the other was parked, Spencer didn’t even wait until the SUV was turned off before he got out. He had a lot that he had to say, and he wanted to be able to get it into the computer as soon as possible. JJ had brought the laptop from the jet so that Spencer could use it to talk. So far no one on the team had shown a single hesitance over his disability, but then it hadn’t even been a day yet.

Spencer sat down in front of the computer and started to type, queueing up the words that he wanted to say. While he was typing, he grabbed files and pictures before he settled in and began to type in earnest. Hotch and Rossi pulled the rest of the team into the room that they were given to use and Hotch shut the door.

The UnSub left a taunt at every single crime scene.” Spencer slide over an image to each of the team as each scene had one, he didn’t have to have extra copies. “There were always five things that were arranged to make a star at each location. It was never the same five things and never even the same distance apart. The star at the first location each point was ten feet apart. It could also be a pentagon, but given that stars are more popular I am going with it. The fifth location the star was five feet from point to point. The angles of the shot from the camera distorted some of them.

“How does that help us?” Morgan asked.

I don’t know yet. However, maybe Garcia could take the suspect pool with adjustments from us over the new advances made since Gideon was last here and see how many are alive, in the area, or if they have moved. See if something like this has popped up there while I see if there is anything else about the distances between the points that might help us.

“That’s why you asked about teachers. Math or science teacher.”

Spencer wasn’t even paying attention as he signed yes, his mind lost in trying to understand what the different star configurations menat. He was finding nothing that helped. Spencer turned the feet into meters, and there he found an unusual pattern but nothing that was helping because there were no more murders to compare it to. Spencer was lost in trying to find anything else in the photos when there was knock on the table. Spencer looked up into Hotch’s face.

“Garcia has seven suspects that fit that, and there are three that were incarcerated or died around the time that the killings stopped. The man who died barely passed math according to his school records, so I nixed him. The other two are housed in the same prison not far from here. Reid, you and I will talk to one while Dave and Morgan talk to the other. I am good enough at sign language, and all else fails you can just spell the words that I don’t know.”

Spencer wondered what Hotch would do if he refused. Being stuck in prison with someone who was not the greatest at sign language, where he wouldn’t be able to take his cell phone or tablet, and he wasn’t even sure that pen and paper would be allowed.

“Fine,” Spencer signed.

Five hours later, Spencer was being ushered up into the jet by a giggling Prentiss. She was the first on the team to touch him beside Hotch. It had started when they had been in the back of the SUV with Hotch driving and JJ riding shotgun. With his tablet between his legs for support as Hotch drove tactically, as JJ called it, Spencer and Prentiss had tried to talk about books. Spencer was happy to find out that at least Prentiss read some of the things that Spencer did.

“So when was his offender group going to be DNA tested?” Morgan asked as he took a seat in the same chair he had been in for the start of the flight out to Texas. Hotch waited for Spencer to sit down on the inside seat before he took a seat on the outside.

“He was in the round of testing for two and a half years from now. He was put in for unpremeditated vehicular manslaughter so taking his DNA wasn’t a big rush, he was considered a non-repeat offender. Anyone who had been in for rape or assault was in the first for testing, given the recidivism rate for those crimes,” Hotch explained as he buckled into his seat.

“Still, he’s been sitting there for all of these years telling other prisoners about what he was going to do when he got out in just under five years, and none of them stepped up,” Morgan said.

There is much debate between psychologists and criminal investigators about the actual number but up to half of all cold crimes could be solved when states finally get all of their backlogs of rape kits and all DNA of incarcerated offenders run and cataloged. Especially between states.”

JJ and Prentiss were in the process of buckling themselves in and stopped to look up at Spencer. He wondered if he had said something wrong.

“Fifty percent?” JJ and Prentiss asked at the same time.

Depending on who you ask yes. The lowest estimated number is thirty-three.”

“Damn,” Morgan and Rossi said at the same time. Spencer watched as Prentiss pulled out a deck of cards and showed them to JJ and Hotch waiting for a nod from each of them before she showed Spencer.

No, thank you.

“See Morgan, that’s how you say no!” Prentiss yelled out, smiling and winking at Spencer. Spencer smiled back before he pulled his book free from his bag to read. He didn’t flip through the pages as fast as he wanted to because he knew that it freaked people out. He still read at a fast pace.

“You don’t have to slow yourself, Reid.”

Spencer looked at Hotch, and his eyes couldn’t help but glance at his poker hand. Spencer looked at the communal cards, and his eyes automatically started to run odds of Hotch getting the four of a kind that was his only real way of winning. Hotch gave him a smile.

“It’s best to just show your quirks to profilers and get it all over with.”

I’ll remember that.

The rest of the flight was unremarkable, and Spencer didn’t know how much he had actually helped in that case. No one else was being hurt, and the man would have been caught by his DNA before he had been released anyway. Still, he felt good because he was sure that he made a good impression.

When they got back to Quantico, Hotch talked to Spencer about how it was all going to go. Spencer knew that while he was in the BAU on a trial basis, he would still work from his regular office most of the time. When the next case popped up, Spencer would get a text from Hotch.

Spencer went back to work, telling no one about what he had done for barely a single day. He wanted the BAU so hard that it hurt to breath when he thought about not passing.

Friday morning dawned, and Spencer was worried about a case not popping up. Then he would hate himself because wanting a case meant that someone was hurting. The knock on his office door startled him, and he pressed the button that lit up the light outside of it, making it glow green so that whoever was outside knew that it was okay to come in.

It was Hotch.

Spencer jumped up out of his seat when he saw the man with Martin behind him. Martin started to sign behind Hotch’s back as Spencer’s stomach began to revolt. Hotch was going to tell him that he wasn’t good enough.

“I’m just here to help you pack up, Spencer,” Martin signed quickly, and it took a few seconds for the words to process in Spencer’s mind.

“Morgan and Prentiss really liked you and what you brought to us on a cold case. Dave talked to Jack Applehorn, and your transfer was processed an hour ago. You are a member of my team. You’ll have a six month period where at the end of it, if you or if we have a problem, you’ll come back here, but there is no three case trial for you.”

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