Don’t Talk of Stars Burning Above Arc 2

Chapter 8-October 2009

Aaron settled into the corner of the couch, sticking his feet out a little as Jack cuddled into him with a movie playing in the background. Aaron wasn’t even sure what they were watching because Jack had been the one to choose the movie and the one before it. Aaron was half paying attention to it all, focused more on other things. Not so much things, as another person.

There was something about Spencer Reid that was making Aaron take to him quicker than he had anyone else ever. Even if Haley had been alive and Jack’s primary caregiver, Aaron never would have invited someone who had still practically been a stranger over for brunch just to talk with him and Jack. He never would have allowed Jack to sit in his lap for a coloring stint. Aaron never would have allowed him over to the house, period.

Even after finding out that Spencer had been a pick from Gideon to be on the team, Aaron had not connected him with the person who had found Foyet. Aaron had let himself assume that it had been entirely the fugitive retrieval squad who had found him. Aaron had known that they were looking for him since the moment that he had escaped in Boston, but it had been so long, and Aaron had lost hope that anyone would find him. Then he had attacked Aaron. Aaron laid his hand on his stomach, touching the scars through his thin T-shirt.

Aaron looked at Jack and knew the main reason why he had allowed Reid in as far as he had so far was because of Jack. Dave had been entirely correct in the fact that Jack needed to see that even if he never got his voice back, he was going to lead a normal life and could be anything that he wanted to be.

In the week since Aaron had gone to fetch Spencer from the Hoover building and did an idiotic thing in not even doing the three case test that he had agreed to, Spencer had been working on getting up to date with files that were not available outside of the Unit. Aaron had caught himself several times standing at his window and looking down to see Spencer flipping through every case that the BAU had been on since its inception, under a very different name. Spencer had estimated the exact amount of time that it would take him to get through all of the files, slower for some of the newer files that had all been digitally scanned and trashed afterward as his reading speed wasn’t as fast on a screen.

Morgan had asked Aaron out to lunch just that day. He wanted to talk to Aaron about how the team had never had Reid apply before. Aaron admitted that he didn’t know why Spencer hadn’t applied to the BAU previously. The only reason Aaron had was in Spencer’s file about him not wanting to be seen as only getting onto the team because of Gideon. Aaron had actually been shocked that it was the only thing that Morgan wanted to talk about.

Aaron knew that he had a bias when it came to Spencer, he knew that he had a bias when it came to every single member of his team. It didn’t impede his ability to send them out to do the job that they were hired to do. For the moment, Aaron was keeping to the rule about Spencer’s responsibilities when it came to being on cases. Aaron would prefer that he stay at the station unless Aaron himself was taking him someplace, but that was more that he was the only one on the team that knew ASL. Aaron knew that the speech program Spencer used was sometimes a crutch more than it was a help, Spencer had said that and Aaron understood why now. People were not used to it. It wasn’t something that many had, or many wanted to use.

Spencer had done well at adapting to working inside of the bullpen even after just a single afternoon of being there. The first thing that had been done was for the entire team to give Spencer their phone numbers, personal and work so that the man could text them when he needed them. Aaron, there really wasn’t anything else as far as the day to day operations that needed to be changed. Spencer had a desk phone that was set up for visual calls, but Aaron knew that Spencer had already set up a protocol with Morgan, who shared a desk area with him to take calls that were more than just someone relaying information.

Aaron was pulled from his thinking when he felt a tug on his shirt sleeve. Aaron paused the movie out of habit and looked down at Jack.

“Is Spencer part of your team now?” Jack asked, his fingers very careful in spelling each word correctly.


“When are you going to do a meal like you used to?”

“What do you mean, Jack?” Aaron tried to think about anything that he had done with the team and Jack in the time around just before Foyet’s attack. There had been nothing. Team get-togethers that didn’t involve a quick meal after getting home from a case, or after the end of regular work hours were rare. . The last time that the team had got together for a planned outing with anyone that wasn’t on the team was the Superbowl of two thousand and seven. Before that Haley had talked him into scheduling team meals. Sometimes it was at their place, and sometimes it was out at a bar or a restaurant. There had even been one at a bowling alley. It had stopped after that fateful case in Georgia that had been the start of the downfall of Greenaway. One too many cases on top of each other that were horrific before she was caught killing a suspect by a local woman.

“Aunt Jessica was going through pictures with me.”

Aaron nodded because he knew that Haley had taken pictures at those get-togethers but he hadn’t realized that she had put them together into an album of some kind. Aaron thought about it, and it would be fun to get together with the team, outside of work. Mainly to get the team to know Spencer a little better. He wanted Spencer to work out, and that meant a lot of changes on how the team did things. Spencer and JJ would make a good team for staying back at the station and working on things there. Once Spencer was a little more settled on the team, he would be able to answer most questions that anyone at the station had. Aaron didn’t think that the younger man would have a problem getting his point across to the LEOs on cases, but Aaron wanted to make sure that Spencer was not bullied for his disability.

“How does after our next case sound? We can do a cookout. It’s not too cold yet for one. JJ can bring Will and Henry. Penelope can bring Kevin.”

“And you can bring Spencer?” Jack asked.

Aaron looked at his son with a strange look on his face. Jack though had his eyes on the screen of the TV.

“I’m sure that Spencer will be coming alone.”

“Would he bring Curiosity?”

“I don’t know.” Aaron knew that he should have realized that Spencer would have talked to Jack about Curiosity. Spencer was very proud of his monster of a cat, and Aaron knew that it was just like having a kid, you found every excuse to talk about them to people. The fact that Curiosity was the size of a house meant that people were more willing to talk to Spencer about him.

“Aunt Jessica told me that she didn’t know why Mommy stopped wanting to get together with the team when I asked her why I had never been in any of the pictures.”

Aaron knew the reason, and it hit him hard because he had never realized it before. He really had never noticed that even when it had all started, Haley talked to and paid more attention to the women on the team, especially after JJ had joined. Aaron carefully thought it through and realized that Haley had been worried about Aaron sleeping with one of the women on the team. She had been worried about Prentiss as well, asking about her for the first few weeks after she had joined the team. The get-togethers were a way to see how they all acted around each other.

“I think after you were born buddy, the team get-togethers were a way for Mommy to get a little break from you. A chance to be an adult and spend time with me. That’s why you aren’t in any of the pictures.”

Jack thankfully took that and seemed content. Aaron, however, wasn’t. He hit play on the movie again and watched a frog dancing around and singing. Aaron understood at that moment that it was when Haley’s problems started. He had never seen the reason behind it all, so he hadn’t realized how strange it was. Aaron always had thought that Haley had wanted to have the team get together to help release some of the burdens from their cases, but now it was all a way to check in on Aaron.

Aaron wondered what would have happened over the years if he had told Haley the one truth that he had always kept from her. Aaron hadn’t wanted to tell her because it was something that was only theoretical. Aaron had come to the conclusion in high school and later at the boarding school that while other boys his age were checking out the girls that started to develop breasts, Aaron was also checking out the guys. Even after meeting and falling in love with Haley, Aaron would find a male catching his attention and holding it. It was worse back when Haley was carefree and never dared think that Aaron would cheat on her and would sit with him while they were out to dinner and tease Aaron by talking about a guy who passed by them. Aaron had only ever got hard during one of Haley’s little teases, and by the time that they had left the table, it had gone down, thankfully.

Jack let the subject go, thankfully because Aaron wasn’t sure what else he could tell the boy about it without lying to keep his mother perfect in his son’s eyes. He was too young to know the darkness that had seeped into the relationship between his parents. Aaron thought again about how it could have been stopped from happening. How Haley could have been diagnosed in time to save her life, if for no other reason than to keep his son from having lost his mother and in such a way.

The subtle vibration of Aaron’s phone pulled him out of his thoughts. He had turned it into silent mode so that it wouldn’t disrupt movie night. Aaron didn’t check it until Jack was asleep on top of him on the couch.

There is a real possibility that we will have a case in California tomorrow.

JJ’s text was short and to the point and Aaron was thankful for it. He’d make plans with Jessica in the morning. JJ tried to always give him a heads up when she could so that he could find another caregiver for Jack if Jessica were busy or at the actual office for her job. Jack had a full day at the school, a more detailed sign language lesson that would take up most of the afternoon before a visit with his psychologist.

Aaron stayed on the couch longer than he should have, cuddling Jack. He missed this, missed the laying on the couch and snuggling with baby Jack on his chest. It was the only thing that Aaron really missed from when Jack was a baby. Aaron would have to see about talking Jack into watching movies like this more often.

Jack shifted on top of Aaron, rubbing his face into his father’s shirt before going limp again. Aaron knew that if he didn’t get up and put Jack to bed soon, Aaron was going to fall asleep and his body wasn’t going to like him if he slept on the couch nor would Jack like it if he rolled off of Aaron and onto the floor. So, Aaron cradled his son close and got up and off the couch. Jack barely reacted. Jack didn’t even wake up once as Aaron put him to bed and then left the room.

Sleep came quickly to Aaron as he laid down in bed after getting ready.

Aaron got to work first, for the first time beating Spencer into the office. The younger man had been coming in early, mainly he said because he was getting the time’s right for the train that he took into work. Aaron believed him but also wondered if it was that he didn’t want to make a horrible impression by being late. Aaron hoped that this was a trend that wasn’t going to keep going because Aaron didn’t need Spencer burning out.

However, Aaron was only alone for about half an hour before he heard movement in the bullpen. The coffee that Aaron had brought with him from home was gone, and he needed a refill, but Aaron was loathe to go out into the bullpen and get more.

The smell of coffee hit Aaron’s nose before he even noticed Spencer entering his office. Spencer was carrying two cups of coffee, there was the one that was in Spencer’s cup that Dave had bought for him, welcoming him to the team and Aaron’s generic FBI mug. Spencer set down his mug though before sitting in the chair across from Aaron’s desk and setting Aaron’s cup down on the seat beside him.

“I did not realize that I had mixed up the cups when I made it until it was done.”

“It’s fine. We can swap back later. Thank you, Reid, for the coffee.”

“Welcome. I have the laptop ready.”

“Laptop?” Aaron asked. He tried to figure out what Spencer was talking about. He didn’t know anything about a laptop.

“Bureau issued laptop for me. Garcia already loaded it with the program that she uses to send information to our phones. My speech software is all ready to go as well.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize that you weren’t going to use the one on the jet.”

“It makes more sense to have one dedicated to me. Section Chief Applehorn made sure that I have whatever I need to make this a smooth transition. Analyst Raven Ramirez set it up for me before she turned it over to Garcia.”

“Why her?” Aaron had heard the name but didn’t understand why she was the one that set up the computer for Spencer.

“Raven is the creator of my speech app. We met at Caltech during a seminar and it kind of spiraled from there. She’s kept my tablet to get it all set up with the extra needed privacy and protection software that is necessary for me to use it in our line of work. Given my need for a phone that can make the latest visual phone connection, my personal phone has become my work phone as well.”

“That’s good. So we won’t need to update the numbers given to the team and other people that we work with. Is the laptop here with you today?”

“Yes. Raven gave me a sleeve for it so that when it’s in my messenger bag, it won’t get hurt until I can go and buy a good laptop bag for it.”

Aaron watched as Spencer picked up his cup of coffee and took a sip. Aaron was startled that he had understood everything that Spencer had said. Aaron knew that he had been getting better at picking up ASL with Jack and with Spencer himself, but Aaron hadn’t realized that he hadn’t had to ask about many words. Of course, Aaron knew that Spencer spelled out words that he was sure that Aaron didn’t know, especially technical terms that revolved around their work.

“Jack bought you something.” Aaron had forgotten about the little board and markers that Jack had sneaked into the cart at the store. Aaron had slipped it into his work briefcase. Aaron reached down and dug around in his bag. He found the board and the huge pack of dry erase markers. There was also another smaller pack. Aaron left those for the moment. He set the board down and the pack of markers.

“Just like what I had you buy for him.” Spencer was smiling as he signed the words.

“Yes, except for this.” Aaron pulled out the five pack of various colors of purple. He set those down on top of the rest and smiled. Spencer picked up the package as well. He opened it up and set out all five of the markers before setting the larger pack off of the board. Aaron watched him uncap and write something with each marker before placing them back down.

Spencer turned the board around to where Aaron could that he had written out his name with the markers. Every few letters it swapped from one color to the other.

“I can use it when on cases, it’ll be better than pen and paper. I’ll make sure to get a laptop bag that can fit it in it as well as my tablet, just to be safe.”

Aaron nodded his agreement, and as he was thinking about right places to point the younger man to for bags, he thought about the laptop bag that Haley had bought for him years before. She had seen it in his home office one day about a month after she had surprised him with it and was upset that he wasn’t using it. Aaron had brought it into the office and had stored it in the back of a rarely used cabinet.

Standing up, Aaron moved to where the bag was. He found it was covered in dust and pulled out his handkerchief from his pocket to get the dust off of it. It had been in there for years, and Aaron had never used it. Looking at the dimensions, Aaron thought it would be good for Spencer’s laptop if the laptop weren’t too big. There was also another pocket that was made for tablets that were padded. Even with the marker board and markers, there was room for case files if Spencer needed to bring anything else with him.

Aaron turned around and showed Spencer the bag.

“What’s that?”

“It was a gift that I’ve never had to use. My briefcase fits my laptop, and I don’t take it out of the office that much so I’ve just never used it. If it fits your laptop, you can have it.”

Spencer didn’t say a word as he stood up from his chair and moved out of the office. Aaron waited for him, sitting back down in his chair and set the bag on the desk between where he and Spencer were seated. Aaron picked up his mug of coffee and relaxed back into his chair. Spencer came back into the office, a broad smile on his face. He went right to the bag and slipped the laptop into it. It fit perfectly. The smile that was on Spencer’s face made Aaron’s stomach clench a little bit. There was a blush on Spencer’s face that Aaron knew would have made him fetching to a lot of people.

“Thank you, Hotch. It’s perfect.” Spencer picked up the entirety of the bag and slipped it over his shoulder. He frowned at the strap and lengthened it so that he could put the strap over his head to have it balance on his hip. “I’ll go pack it up. JJ messaged me and said that we would probably be on a case today. Something to do with LA.”

“Yes, she messaged me the same thing.”

“I have a kid in my apartment building that Curiosity at least likes. He’s going to come by each night and feed Curiosity.”

“Curiosity likes?” Aaron asked.

“My cat doesn’t like many people, and most he hates. He hated Andrea with a lot of passion.” Spencer didn’t elaborate any more on Andrea, and given the look on his face, Aaron was sure that Andrea was the last girlfriend.

“And what kind of rate does this kid want for caring for your cat?”

“I’m going to feed his comic book habit. A comic book for each day that he checks on Curiosity.”

“That’s not too bad.”

“No, it’s not.”

The sound of laughter drew Aaron’s gaze into the bullpen where JJ, Garcia, Prentiss, and Morgan were arriving for the day. Spencer grabbed his coffee and wandered out of the office. JJ went right for her office, and Aaron saw her looking at her fax machine. When she looked at him, Aaron knew that they did indeed have a case. She tapped her watch, and he knew that time was of the essence.

Aaron made sure that the jet would be ready for them as soon as they were able to get there.

“Team,” Aaron said as soon as he stepped out of his office. Dave was getting off of the elevator. Aaron made sure to catch his eye, nodding towards the room and Dave diverted to the door that led from the hallway into the room. JJ started the briefing as everyone looked at their files. Aaron’s stomach turned at the realization that the killer was draining the victims of their blood.

“Vampires?” Prentiss asked.

Aaron understood why time was of the essence as Reid explained everything he knew of the psychosis of those who believed themselves to be vampires.

“Just because Manson hijacked it doesn’t have to ruin it for the rest of us,” Hotch said with a faint smile on his face.

“That’s why I stick to Beethoven. There’s no chance of guilt by association.” Spencer smiled at the team as he settled down on the couch a little, relaxing. However, the team was not reacting as Spencer would have hoped. JJ and Morgan were sharing a look before looking at Prentiss. Hotch and Rossi had a look between them, and Spencer didn’t know them well enough to know if they were making fun of him or not. Spencer swallowed. He looked away from everyone, staring at a point on the wall. He closed off his ears to any sound. There was plenty of time for Spencer to get himself centered.

Spencer felt a hand on his knee, but he ignored it. He kept staring off at the wall. The hand didn’t leave his knee but the person it belonged to settled at Spencer’s side on the couch. The scent of cologne fill Spencer’s nose, and he knew that it was Hotch. Hotch reached up and turned Spencer’s face towards him.

“I can’t talk to you if you don’t look at me, Reid,” Hotch signed.

Spencer looked at Hotch, waiting for him to say something else. When Spencer said nothing and did nothing for a minute. Hotch raised his hands again.

“There is a movie called A Clockwork Orange and sometime soon I’ll rent it, and we can watch it together. We were not making fun of you we were just shocked that you hadn’t seen or even heard of it.”

“Why?” Even Spencer’s signs showed how he was feeling. He couldn’t stop it.

“Because then you will get to bitch about those things you love being hijacked and twisted. I know that you are new, but we will not make fun of you on purpose for your disability, your genius, or any other quirk that you have. Tease, yes.” Aaron laid his hand down, settling one on Spencer’s knee. “I do not expect you to just keep your mouth shut if something that any of us says upsets you. Speak up.”

Spencer nodded but forced his face away from Hotch. Hotch didn’t move away from the couch. Instead, he sat down all the way on it, almost too close for Spencer’s comfort but it felt nice. Spencer didn’t look away from the wall, and when something was handed to Hotch, he nearly jumped when Aaron relaxed back even more and laid his hand over the back of the couch, brushing at Spencer’s neck. The sound of talking between the other team members picked up as the time of the flight got longer. Hotch didn’t leave his side the entire time.

After a while, Spencer pulled out his book and started to read. He risked a glance at Hotch and saw that he was reading as well. It was a spy novel by the words on the page. Spencer would read two pages of his book and then look over at Hotch’s reading what was there before going back to his own. After a while, Spencer was sure that Hotch figured out what he was doing he moved around to where Spencer had a better view of the book. At one point, Rossi dropped off two cups of tea to them. Spencer took a drink of it and found that it was the same Earl Grey that Hotch had given him before. There was only a touch of sugar in it, but Spencer found that he liked it.

“Thanks, Dave,” Hotch said with a slight smile on his face. He took a drink of the tea but made a face. “You need to learn how to make tea. I do not take it like I take my coffee.”

Spencer handed over his cup and took Hotch’s from his hand. Hotch quirked an eyebrow and took a drink. The smile said that it was made right. Spencer took a sip of his new tea, finding that it had no sugar in it and he liked it a lot better that way.

“Or remember which cup has sugar and which doesn’t.”

“Funny Aaron, funny. Most people who take coffee plain take tea the same way, especially from the south. You take your regular tea unsweet.”

“But the flavored teas I do with just a little sugar. Especially hot.”

Rossi laughed as he finally sat down in his seat with a stack of paperwork in front of him. Spencer looked back down at the book that Hotch was reading and poked the page. Spencer had finished it a while before and based on Hotch’s reading speed he had completed it as well. Hotch chuckled just low enough to where Spencer could hear him and then he turned the page.

“What are you reading?” Hotch asked.

Spencer closed the book and showed it to him.

“That’s not what I thought you were reading. I don’t know what I expected, but a nonfiction novel on the evolution of plays from Shakespeare to now is not it.”

Spencer didn’t feel like talking, so he just shrugged. Hotch moved the book to where it was half in Hotch’s lap and a half in Spencer’s. Hotch’s arm at his neck curled a little more, and Spencer could feel his fingers brushing on Spencer’s shoulder.

There was a chime through the jet, and Spencer knew that meant they were close to landing.

“Everyone,” Hotch said his voice loud enough to where everyone immediately looked up at him. “Since tomorrow is Saturday, I thought that a cookout at my house is in order. It’s not quite cold enough to where it won’t be fun, and Jack’s wanted to see the team and do a big meal. Jessica has been showing him pictures, and in a few of them, it’s obvious that his mom was hanging out with the team. I’ll supply the meat, buns, and condiments. You guys figure out between you a few sides and desserts.”

“I have a really nice baked bean recipe,” Spencer signed and looked at Aaron. He didn’t feel like talking to the rest of the team yet. Speaking through Aaron made it better.

“Well, Reid has beans covered.”

Spencer let the words of the team wash over him as they discussed and talked about what they were going to bring to eat.

“When is this going to start?” JJ asked.

“We could do it as a late afternoon thing and snack and hang out the rest of the day,” Hotch said as he looked up from the book, flipping the page as he did. “I think that I have that activity set still in the garage. We can set that up and see who can win at horseshoes, croquet, and I think even badminton.”

“Leave me out of those,” Spencer signed wrinkling his nose. Hotch laughed but even when the team looked at him pleadingly, Hotch said nothing of what Spencer had said.

“We can see about getting some toys for Henry too,” Hotch pointed out, looking at JJ.

Spencer remembered that Henry was young, somewhere between one and two. Spencer thought about the book that Spencer had bought in the store when he had been looking for books for Hotch. Simple signs for babies and toddlers. He had bought it with JJ in mind, long before he had met her because he knew that Jack and Henry were close. Henry couldn’t read, and so Spencer wasn’t sure exactly what they did to talk to each other if Hotch had let Jack visit him. Spencer started a mental checklist of things that he wanted to bring.

There was a tap on Spencer’s leg from Hotch’s knee, and Spencer looked up at him.

“You can come over whenever you want after nine am so that Jack can get some time in with you before the rest of the team arrives.” Hotch was watching Spencer’s face for something and Spencer didn’t know what it was so that he could hide it.

“It’s okay, Hotch. I can come over when the others do.”

“Jack does well sharing me with the team because he is used to it, especially Dave. However, he’s never had to share your attention with anyone but me. He’s not going to like sharing, but if you come over early, he’ll be less inclined to be upset. Really, I am trying to stop a fit from going on. I still don’t think that he’s going to get far from either one of us. We are his way of talking with the others.”

“If you are sure, Hotch.”

“I am.” Hotch’s face was sure, his hands were sure, and even the slight tone that Spener could read off of his body said that he was sure.

“Then I’ll get there at nine so that I can help you get ready. I do well at cutting onions.”

“Then you have onion duty.”

Spencer smiled and looked out at the team. None of them were looking at him and Hotch. They were still talking between themselves and getting the food narrowed down. Spencer saw that JJ had a piece of paper out and was writing down. She looked at Spencer, glancing to see if he was looking or not.

“Spence, Morgan usually does drinks when we do this. Do you like anything in particular?”

Spencer was thrown a little by the nickname. He had never had someone call him that before. Almost a minute had gone by with him staring at her before he realized that he needed to answer. Spencer grabbed his bag and started to dig around for his phone. He couldn’t find it in his bag, so he began to take things out. Hotch’s hand closed around his and pulled his hands out of the bag. In his other hand was Spencer’s phone but Hotch wasn’t handing it over.

“I’ll be making iced tea for Jack and I. If you want that, I’ll make enough for you for the day as well.”

Spencer nodded.

“Okay, Spence is taken care of. Hotch, beer okay still?”

“Of course.” Hotch gave her a look that said he didn’t understand why she was asking.

“Good. Will has this new microbrew at home that he loves. I’ll have him bring a case of it with him.”

“Sounds good,” Hotch said.

The cookouts seemed like something the team did a lot, but with Hotch’s words, it appeared that it wasn’t done at Hotch’s regularly but at Morgan’s.

“We haven’t done a cookout since last summer,” Prentiss said.

“No, we haven’t.” Morgan looked excited about the cookout. Spencer hadn’t seen him smile that much ever. Then again he hadn’t been around the man that much. “Hotch, what meats are you supplying?”

“Burgers, dogs, I might be talked into doing brats.”

“Can you do that sauce you did for those ones a few summers back?” Morgan looked even more excited if that was possible than he had just seconds before.

“Yes.” Hotch was smiling, and Spencer could tell that he had planned on doing the brats and whatever sauce that came with them anyway. Spencer looked down at the book and saw that Hotch had turned the page again. Spencer read over the words and was shocked when right as he finished them, Hotch turned the page. Just like that, they were back into their own little world of reading.

Spencer knocked on Hotch’s door and waited for the man to answer. When no one answered after five minutes and thirty-three seconds, Spencer rang the doorbell.

“Around back, Reid!” Hotch yelled from around the side. It made Spencer wonder if the man was unused to opening the door to people. Spencer shifted the bowl of beans around in his arms. The beans were meant to be eaten cold so Hotch wouldn’t have something that he had to worry about heating up before the meal started. Spencer was unused to gatherings like this. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to wear and how he was supposed to ask. A dinner out with Martin was about the only thing that he had done with work friends before. Bars and clubs were regular and in neither of those settings was Spencer comfortable. Spencer had messaged Raven and asked her what she wore when she went out with her team, but the only thing Raven had messaged back was that she wore what she always wore to work.

Standing and staring at his closet for an hour, Spencer had decided on a pair of dark blue jeans and a purple shirt with a black vest. It was close to what he wore to work but also not really what he wore to work.

Rounding the corner to Hotch’s backyard, Spencer saw Hotch standing at the gate. More accurately he was leaning on it. Hotch smiled at Spencer as Spencer came in sight, Hotch’s gaze swept down Spencer’s body and back up. Spencer reached down to see if he had left his fly open or something, but he hadn’t. Spencer wasn’t sure if the look on Hotch’s face was because he was upset that Spencer hadn’t dressed down more or was upset because he hadn’t dressed up more. This was why Spencer hated social situations.

“Do I need to put the beans in the fridge until time to warm them up?” Hotch asked as he reached out and took the beans before Spencer could even fully reach the gate. Spencer passed them over with no words, but he did shake his head. “Then I’ll just put them on the kitchen on the table. I have the tea already made and Jack’s playing in his sandpit. I will put you in charge of making sure that he’s out of it in time to get changed out of his sand covered clothes before the team gets here. JJ, Will, and Henry are arriving first around noon. He’s allowed to play in the yard with anything that he wants in his clothes, but the inside of the house is off limits. There is a bathroom in the shed at the back and a small shower. Feel free to use it or the inside bathroom.”

Spencer nodded his understanding before moving over towards the table where he had sat last time. However, before he got too far away, Hotch grabbed his upper arm. Spencer looked down and realized that the man had his hands wrapped around Spencer’s soulmark. Spencer didn’t jerk his arm away, but he did look up at Hotch.

“I set you up with a chair over here.” Hotch let go of Spencer’s arm and pointed before directing Spencer over to an area where there were a lot of chairs set up, but there was one that was a lounge chair that had a large almost desk like surface on top. “I found it in the garage, and you can leave your tablet set up there all the time, or laptop if you bought it. I didn’t want you all alone at the table. We generally congregate around the grill so we can all talk while I do the grilling. If it’s too close to the grill and too smokey, we can move it around.”

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Just let me know though. You can leave your bag there for now. I don’t think you need your tablet setup for just us. If I don’t know a word, you can spell it out.”

The sound of running feet stopped Spencer from answering. Jack came running up and hugged Spencer close. Spencer reached down, and kind of pressed Jack into his body a little with his hands since he couldn’t crouch and actually hug him. After a few seconds, Jack released his hold just enough to tip his head up and look at Spencer. Spencer knew that Jack would release him all the way to talk when he was ready.

“Do you want to play in the sand with me?”

Spencer shook his head, he unhooked the hand he had on his bag and started to sign to Jack. “No, I don’t like playing in the kind of sand that is from around here.”

“Why not?”

“Where I am from the sand is a lot different, a lot drier and it just feels different. I don’t even like the sand at the beaches close to here.”

“Can we go there sometime?”


“Dad, and you, and me.”

“That’s something that you can discuss with your father.” Spencer did not know how Hotch would respond to the fact that Jack wanted to go on a vacation with him to Las Vegas. Jack seemed to take it well though. Jack nodded and took off. He moved back to his sandbox and started to play again. Spencer set his bag down, pulling out his tablet and setting it on the little table attached to the lounge chair. Spencer also reasoned that if this were for him to sit at, part of the lounger would be used for Jack to sit on. Spencer counted the chairs. He did mental math of the people who had a partner on the team, and he was coming up a chair short. There was not a spot for Hotch to sit. Unless he was planning on sitting at the end of the lounger. It was right beside the grill and Spencer could see him doing it.

Spencer sat down on the lounger, pulling his knees up to his chest and started to look around the backyard. There wasn’t much changed at all. Spencer reached into his bag and touched the case that he carried his MP3 player and headphones in. He wondered how upset Hotch would be if he started to listen to it. Spencer could see Hotch moving around in the kitchen, and he thought about joining him, but he was on Jack duty. There was going to be a great deal of time between when the team was going to arrive and when they were all going to eat. There would be plenty of time for Spencer to help Hotch cut up things. Given the location of where Hotch was in the kitchen, he was at the stove. Spencer wondered if he was working on the sauce that Morgan loved.

Turning to look at Jack, Spencer let his mind wander as he watched the boy build a massive castle out of the sand. It was a simple one, but the boy was very proud before he pulled a plastic dragon that had been buried in the sand out and it started to reek havoc all over the castle. It was nice seeing the boy just playing and not caring about anyone around him.

“Jack, Reid, breakfast!” Hotch called closer to ten am. Spencer looked at his watch to confirm the time. Jack stood up from his sandbox and dusted sand off of himself. He started to run towards the house but stopped where Spencer was and held his hand out. Spencer took his hand and allowed the boy to pull him toward the house. Hotch came out of the house carrying three plates of food. He set them down on the table that was under the porch at the back of the house. “Reid, can you grab the three mugs of tea in the kitchen?”

Spencer let go of Jack’s hands and allowed the boy to sit down at the table. He watched as Jack held out his hands for his father to use a wipe on before he sat down at the table right next to where Hotch placed two plates of food. However, instead of sitting across from the two of them, Hotch took a seat at the end, closer to where the dish for Spencer obviously was. Spencer grabbed the three mugs, smelling that it was a different kind of tea than Hotch had made before.

As soon as Spencer set down the three mugs, Hotch pulled one closer to him and set Jack’s to where the boy could reach it. Spencer sat down, and Hotch handed over a fork.

“Why did you cook?”

“It’s a long while until we are eating lunch and I’d rather have food in my stomach when I start to prepare all of the meats. Jack and I woke up late, so I decided to do a brunch style meal instead of breakfast. I also know that you usually eat right when you wake up and that you would be hungry before we actually got to the meal portion of the cookout.”

“I brought power bars.”

“Yes, I saw you load some into your desk at work. This will do better.”

Jack was halfway done with his by the time that Spencer even tucked into his own. He didn’t reach over and grab up his tea until he was about a quarter of the way through his. It wasn’t as large as the portion that he had been given the last time, in deference to the meal that they were going to be eating in a few hours.

Spencer reached for his tea, finding that the mug was just cold enough to touch when he lifted it up. Spencer took a sip of it and washed the food down his throat before he took another drink to actually taste the tea. He could taste peach in it but wasn’t sure if there was anything else.

“Just a simple peach tea this time.”

“I like it,” Spencer signed back. He picked up his fork again and realized that Aaron had talked to him entirely by signing. Jack’s eyes darted to them as both of them settled into silence. Spencer didn’t know what to talk about, and given that they were eating it was harder to speak by sign language, but Spencer had left both his phone and his tablet over at the chair, there was no other way for him to talk to Hotch. Hotch didn’t seem upset by the silence though. In fact, every time that Spencer looked around the area and caught Hotch’s eye, Hotch smiled at him.

Jack was done first, eating everything on his plate before drinking what was left of his tea. Spencer watched him point back at his sandbox, and Hotch nodded before Jack took off towards it. Hotch looked back at Spencer.

“I thought kids were hard to feed?”

“What?” Hotch asked.

Spencer started to repeat his question, but Hotch held up his hand.

“Sorry, it took me a second. I understood you. I was just shocked by the question. Jack has never been a picky eater. Yes it was hard to get him to want anything other than macaroni and cheese, and that is still his favorite meal, but Haley and I set out early in making sure that he ate a balanced meal. While Jack hates brussels sprouts and corn, he will eat any other vegetable that I set out for him. Jack doesn’t like pickled beets, but he likes plain beets. Jack never really tried to get out of eating vegetables. I don’t know what it is about corn that he doesn’t like. He will pick it out of things though.”

“I had a kid I went to school with that hated beans. He wouldn’t even eat things after the beans had been picked out. I was shocked to realize that Jack wasn’t like other kids.”

“No, that’s the one thing that Haley and I at least did right. Jack’s a wonderful kid, and we were consistent enough when he was young that he knows that we aren’t going to force him to do something that Jack doesn’t like, just because he doesn’t like it.” Hotch gave Spencer a shy smile, but there was a pain in his eyes.

Spencer let the subject drop as he worked on finishing his food. He had only made himself a bowl of cereal that day, and that was why he had brought power bars with him. Spencer agreed that this was a better option, but he hadn’t been planning on cooking in Aaron’s kitchen to eat, so that was why he had brought a snack with him. When Spencer was done, he picked up his plate and Jack’s before snagging both empty cups with his other hand, taking it all into the kitchen. Hotch had a pile of dishes in the sink from breakfast and a few other things.

The other sink was full of water that when Spencer tested it, he found it still very hot. Spencer slipped his and Jack’s plates into that water along with their mugs and started to wash them. He wasn’t going to let Hotch do all of the clean-up.

A hand on Spencer’s back was his only warning that Hotch was even in the room.

“You don’t have to do them, but I know that you won’t stop. I’ll go outside and play with Jack until you are done with the dishes. Just come outside.” Hotch slipped his plate and fork down into the water. His mug he set beside the sink where Spencer had placed his and Jack’s to be done after Spencer got the plates done but before he did the pans that were used to cook the food. Spencer wanted to call him back, but as the man left the room, he knew there was no way other than throwing water at him. Spencer wanted him to stay where he was, touching his back.

Spencer knew that his aversion to touching that had come up from protecting himself from bullies was a lot of his problem, but it wasn’t until that moment that he realized how much he liked being touched by people he cared about. He had always allowed people that he was dating to touch him and Spencer was pretty damned sure that his touch hunger was why he jumped into bed with them so quick, only to have it all fizzle out. Spencer was confident that he was developing feelings for his new boss, but there wasn’t a single damned thing that Spencer would ever do about it. It worked for him in the long run though because Hotch was too wrapped up in his now dead ex-wife to ever try and date again, so Spencer would never be relegated out of his life. Jack liked him, and Spencer was sure that even if Jack started talking the next day, Jack would still want him around.

Hotch touched him all the time, Spencer realized. It was always innocent and innocuous touches, but it was enough for Spencer who found that he wasn’t feeling the urge that he had for so long to find someone else. He wasn’t missing Andrea at all, and that was rare because he usually missed his exes for a while after they left but with Andrea that want of a companion had never come up. Spencer looked out the window above the sink to see Hotch playing with Jack in the sand. The man was sitting on the ground outside the sandbox and had the dragon in hand. Jack was playing as soldiers trying to defend the castle from the dragon.

Spencer knew that he should really stop coming around so much and try and find someone else, but Hotch was safe. Hotch wasn’t going to disappoint him if all they ever had was a friendship. He also had proved that he was more than willing to accept a mute son in his life, but a mute son and a mute lover were two different things. It was always the sex that was the problem. No one was ever happy with him being unable to scream when he was having sex, especially the men. There was something about a man fucking another man that made the man feel like he had good sex when his partner screamed, and Spencer couldn’t do that. He could pant, and he could exhale but that was it, and it was never enough. Spencer was never sufficient for his lovers but this…Spencer was going to make sure that his friendship with Hotch was going to be enough so that he wouldn’t have to have a broken heart again.

Chapter 9-November 2009

Aaron was never more thankful for Jessica than the nights that she gladly took over Jack’s attention with barely a look at Aaron when he got back from a hard case. Prentiss, Garcia, and Morgan had spent the last hour of the flight home talking Spencer into going out with them. Aaron hadn’t thought they were going to win until Garcia changed the venue from a bar to a club that while they had dancing, it was on the floor above, but the lower level was people hanging out and not screaming over music. Aaron had planned on pulling Morgan aside and telling him that bars and clubs were not Spencer’s scene, especially since no one on the team knew a lot of sign language.

JJ had learned a few signs, and Aaron was proud of her. There were a lot of things that Spencer just signed without thinking. Morgan had learned hello, goodbye, yes, and no. Garcia was taking it as a challenge to learn as many words as she could but usually got distracted by something else while looking things up online. Prentiss knew some words already but wasn’t making a huge effort to learn much more. Spencer though was learning a whole new range of words in tactical sign language. Dave had got him a manual on it and told him to use it to tell Morgan to shut up on a daily basis.

“Can I get you another, Sir?” The bartender asked. It had been Aaron’s favorite bar before he had moved elsewhere in the city. And, it still was. He hadn’t found a place that he liked better.

Aaron looked down at his beer and noticed that he had drunk it all. He nodded and slid his glass over. The bartender grabbed it and stuck it down in the dishwasher while grabbing a new one and filling it from the tap. Aaron had a tab with the place, and he would have the bartender run his card at the end of the night. Aaron turned around started to watch the other people around him . The music in the bar was a mix of classic rock and what was considered oldies by the youth of the area. There was an area where people could dance, but it was empty. The bar was full enough of patrons, so Aaron watched them instead.

“I’ve not seen you around in here before,” a man said as he sat down beside Aaron. Aaron turned to look at him. He couldn’t stop himself from profiling the man. He was at least a decade younger than Aaron and showed an exterior of wealth. His clothes were fashionable but sensible as well. Whatever job he had, he was comfortable in it.

“I don’t come as often as I used to but I was a regular at one point.”

“I just moved to the area a few months back. Got a transfer.”

“I just moved back to this area after living across town for a couple of years.” Aaron took a drink of his beer and wondered at how tipsy he should let himself get. He didn’t need to worry about Jack because Jessica had him well in hand. He could go home and sleep off whatever he drunk.

“Did you miss the area?”

“Something like that.” Aaron wasn’t going to go into the reason he had come back to the area. That wasn’t something that this stranger needed to know. Aaron looked at the man again and realized exactly what this was. Aaron was being hit on. He looked down into his beer before turning to face the man. “I really did miss the area when I moved away so I moved back as soon as I could. Even though I wasn’t that far, I found myself not visiting the places that I missed because they were too far to go after work. Now I’m within walking distance of my favorite bar again.”

“That’s great. I’m walking distance as well from my apartment.”

Aaron took that for what it meant, either place was open for if anything were to happen.

“I have a table in the corner. We can go over there and continue this without having to worry about others invading.” The man stood up, and Aaron stood with him, signaling to the bartender that he wanted one more of what each of them was having. Aaron followed the man to his table, and it was in the corner, but it was a corner that had a perfect view of the entire place. Aaron watched the man sit down, turned to where he could watch the whole area. Watching the man move, Aaron knew that he was law enforcement of some kind. Aaron debated for a few seconds where he was going to sit and decided to sit in the place that was right beside the man, so they could both have the perfect view of the whole bar.

“Aaron,” Aaron said as he sat down, his thigh brushing the man’s as he did.

“Shawn,” was offered back in return, the grin on his face as Aaron settled in beside him. “Cop or agent?”

“Agent.” Aaron wasn’t shocked that the man knew that he was enforcement of some kind.

“Cop. I think though that it’s all we need to give, don’t you?” Shawn asked.

“Very much so.” Aaron grinned as he leaned closer to the man so they could talk lowly.

As the night went on, Aaron realized that Shawn was not out of the closet to his unit. He was career driven and didn’t want it to hold him back. Aaron could understand that, and it was why Aaron left first when both of them had drunk a little too much alcohol to make any significant decisions, but both had already decided that this was the goal at the end of the night.

Shawn’s apartment really was very close to the bar, in fact, it was above the store that was just a block from the bar. As soon as Shawn paused to enter the code to the ground floor door that would allow them up, Aaron pressed himself into the man’s body. Aaron was half aroused just thinking about sex of any kind but sex that he didn’t have to worry about coming to bite him in the ass or worry about the other half trying to think it was more than what it was, was going to be perfect. Shawn tipped his head to the side as soon as Aaron nosed in behind his ear. The man’s hair was cropped short but just on the edge of something that probably wasn’t allowed by his department. There was a messiness to it that Aaron was sure drove ladies nuts.

“I like a man who goes after what he wants,” Shawn said as he pushed open the door. There was a set of steps in front of them, so Aaron took advantage of the little, open area at the base of the steps and pushed Shawn in before he pushed the door shut a little harder than he meant to with his foot. Shawn pulled Aaron towards him by the tie that Aaron was still wearing. He hadn’t stayed at home long at all. Just enough to secure his gun and put up his briefcase before leaving. He needed a better headspace than what he had for dealing with his son. Aaron pressed his hands to the wall on either side of Shawn’s head and leaned in to kiss him.

Shawn kissed like the kiss was the whole reason for his being. Aaron kissed back just as hard and just as passionate. Aaron wanted this. He wanted this so bad that he wasn’t sure exactly how long he would last when Shawn started to touch him under his clothes.

“If we stay here, someone will catch us and the second floor is a family. Don’t need to scare the poor housewife with two men making out,” Shawn said when he pushed Aaron back just enough to speak but not too far away to where Aaron couldn’t feel his breaths on his lips.

“Lead the way.” Aaron waved to allow him to go first. He believed in full details even for a one night stand, not that he had had many. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had sex of any kind other than my hand so please bear that in mind.”

“Then we’ll give you a little relief before the main event. I don’t mind a good long wait before I get mine.”

Aaron nodded even knowing that Shawn couldn’t see him. When they hit the second-floor landing, Aaron wasn’t shocked that the man didn’t stop. Shawn started to move faster up the steps, but Aaron kept his pace the same, when he hit the third-floor landing he saw that Shawn had the door open already and was leaning against the left side.

Shawn looked Aaron up and down again, his eyes darkening as he looked at Aaron. Shawn curled his finger, beckoning Aaron closer. Aaron stepped up to the doorway, allowing Shawn to grab him by the tie, drawing him into the living room area of the loft style apartment.

“I have bottles of water and bottles of juice, which do you want?”

“Water.” Aaron looked around and saw that there were no walls. The bedroom area dominated the wall that was farthest from the door. There was a couch in the living room area. Aaron made up his mind and moved towards the bed. He toed off his shoes and tossed them back towards the door along with his socks. Shawn was likewise dressed when he appeared around the island that was in the kitchen. He had a bottle of water and a bottle of grape juice in his hand. His eyes were on the living room area, and when he realized that Aaron wasn’t there, he turned around to find Aaron on the bed, leaning back, his arms braced there.

“I love the way that your mind works. Lay back, Aaron and I’m going make you feel wonderful.” Shawn set the drinks on the nightstand, and he worked off his outer layers, looking at Aaron who did as he asked. Aaron could see the bulge in his pants really well from the angle that he was at but for once Aaron didn’t want to cover up. Shawn’s erection was straining against the boxers that he was wearing. Aaron reached out to him, trying to get the man to climb up on the bed and Aaron.

Shawn opened the drawer on the nightstand and pulled out two condoms and a bottle of lube. He tossed the lube and one of the condoms up towards the pillows at Aaron’s side, and he ripped open the second one. That he set on Aaron’s stomach before he climbed up onto the bed, working Aaron’s dress pants open as he did.

“I’m going to get you off, Aaron. Then we can do a nice slow build up to sex. Does that sound good?”

“Yes.” Aaron closed his eyes as Shawn pulled Aaron from the briefs that he was wearing. The condom was pressed down Aaron’s cock. Aaron opened his eyes because he wanted to see this, he wanted to see what Shawn could make him feel. Shawn looked up, locking eyes with Aaron as he took Aaron’s encased cock into his mouth. The man hummed and made it seem like just the thought of Aaron in his mouth was going to make him come. Aaron didn’t hold back, knowing that the show wasn’t going to be over when he came. It was too short of a time of Shawn bobbing his head on Aaron’s cock before Aaron came, filling the condom. Shawn kept sucking until right before Aaron became too sensitive.

“You were right that it’s been a while for you. I can’t wait until you are buried inside of me, Aaron.” Shawn pressed a kiss into Aaron’s hip as his fingers worked the condom off of Aaron, tying it off and tossing it somewhere above Aaron’s head. When he turned his focus back to Aaron, he had such a grin on his face that Aaron couldn’t resist pulling him down and into a kiss. Aaron expected the taste of latex in his mouth as Aaron dipped his tongue inside but instead of that, he tasted what he thought might be strawberries. Aaron figured that it had to be flavored condoms. Shawn pressed his cock into Aaron’s hip, humping him slowly but not enough to get him off.

Aaron lost himself in kissing Shawn, not wanting to stop, even when he felt Shawn trying to pull back. He wasn’t trying that hard, so Aaron didn’t figure that he was doing anything wrong. Aaron didn’t let him go, kept on kissing him, and after a few minutes, Shawn gave up trying to get away. Aaron could feel himself hardening up again, he knew that since it had been so long since he’d had sex that once his sex drive was kicked in again, he would be able to go several times that night. He hoped that Shawn didn’t mind him staying for a while because Aaron wanted to make the most of their time together.

A chime from a phone drew Aaron out of his thoughts. He felt the vibration from his hip that said it was his phone in his pants. And it was Jessica’s texting ringtone.

“Do you have to get that?”

“Yes but it’s just my sister checking in on me. She’s watching my son tonight.”

“Then I’m going to go about my plan of stripping you naked while you call her.”

“I should just be able to text.” Aaron dug his hand down into his pocket and retrieved his phone. Shawn felt up both pockets, finding the one with Aaron’s wallet inside of it, he pulled that out and set it on the chair beside the bed. Aaron wasn’t worried about the man stealing. Aaron had most of his cash in his safe at the house as well as his credit cards. Aaron never carried much of either on him. He had two credit cards and his debit card. His debit was with him and a little cash, enough to have covered his tab if he had been there longer. When he left for work, he would take more with him, but that was just in case there was a problem on a case. More than once Aaron had needed to buy clothes while on a case or other things that were required. There had been the time before Greenaway had joined the team that JJ had started her period early and the only place in the small town that they were in didn’t take credit or debit. So Gideon, Morgan, Brannon, and Aaron had all chipped in to get JJ what she needed as her bag had been lost before they had even boarded the plane, along with all of her essentials. JJ had bought replacements for everything, but then she had got a surprise. JJ had been so red in the face when Aaron had taken the tampons to her.

Aaron shook himself out of thoughts and focused on his phone, realizing that Shawn had his pants off of him. Jessica had sent a picture of Jack asleep in Aaron’s bed, cuddled down into the blankets. Aaron smiled. She also had a note attached that he wanted to sleep in a big person’s bed. Aaron made a note to himself to go shopping for something for him on the weekend. He was getting big for his trundle bed, and something with a bunk bed feature would be good. Aaron intended Jack to have a lot of friends and having a bunk bed would be good.

“Everything good?” Shawn asked as he crawled back up Aaron’s body.

“Yes. Sister was just sending me a picture of my son asleep in my bed. I’ll have to take him shopping for a bigger bed soon.”

Shawn hummed, telling Aaron that the man didn’t know what to say about it all so instead Aaron reached up and drew the man down, kissing him hard. Shawn was still hard, Aaron found out when he reached down to cup the man through his underwear. Shawn’s hips jerked, and it wasn’t long before the man was panting into Aaron’s mouth.

“You are too good at that.”

“Thank you.”

Shawn smiled at Aaron before he slipped up and out of Aaron’s hold, plucking at his shirt as he did. “Get that off.”

Aaron leaned up on the bed to where he could strip out of his dress shirt before he touched the hem of his undershirt. He looked at Shawn for a second before he spoke. “I don’t want to discuss my scars, any of them.”

“Don’t worry, I don’t either.” Shawn stripped off his undershirt at the same time that Aaron did, and Aaron could see the scars that he was talking about but Shawn’s looked like they were from a knife fight with someone. Shawn’s eyes looked over the nine scars that were scattered around on Aaron’s chest. His eyes widened, but he said nothing. He didn’t reach out to touch them. Aaron was glad about that. “How do you want to fuck me?”

“What position do you prefer?”

“I love to ride my lovers, but most don’t care for that. They don’t get to go as hard or as fast as they like.”

“Don’t worry. I’m quite fine with that.” Aaron didn’t care what position they did it in but him on his back with Shawn above him was perfect for Aaron because that meant that Shawn wouldn’t try and touch his back at all. Aaron thought about that as Shawn leaned forward to grab the condom and lube from where he has tossed it. They both still had on underwear, but Aaron was sure that those would be going away soon. As if reading his mind, Shawn slipped off of Aaron’s lap, and he did drop his boxers to the floor before he leaned forward and spread his hands on Aaron’s thighs, the tips of his fingers touching the edge of Aaron’s briefs.

Aaron nodded at the unspoken question, tucking his legs up so that Shawn could slip the fabric off of him quickly. Shawn’s hand moved to Aaron’s cock, stroking him the rest of the way to hardness. Aaron groaned as his pulse started to race again. Shawn handed him the condom. Aaron moved to where he was in the middle of the bed, laying with his head on the pillows. Shawn moved with him straddling his waist. He snapped opened the lid on the lube and offered it to Aaron, but Aaron shook his head. He wanted to watch Shawn finger himself open.

Shawn looked like a wonder, the look on his face was blissful as he fingered himself open. Aaron grabbed his thighs, holding him still as he pressed three fingers into his ass. Aaron couldn’t see it, but he could see the effect on Shawn’s face and on his cock. Aaron watched the head of Shawn’s cock drip fluid. Aaron couldn’t help but reach out and smear the liquid all around the head of Shawn’s cock. Shawn shuddered.

“I’m ready. Get that condom on now.”

Aaron quickly and carefully rolled the cock down his cock, pinching the head. Even before he got his hand away from the base of his cock, Shawn was sliding down the head. Aaron groaned as Shawn didn’t even pause when he was all the way down Aaron’s cock. Shawn moved hard and fast on Aaron’s cock, rocking and sometimes just flat out falling on Aaron’s cock. Aaron had never done sex hard and fast like this, he got too worked up, grabbing Shawn’s hips and holding him in place, leveraging up to where he could thrust up into the man using his muscular legs. Shawn’s mouth dropped open in pleasure as Aaron took over the entirety of the thrusting.

Shawn came with a cry as Aaron kept thrusting into him. Aaron dropped his legs onto the bed, and he pulled Shawn down onto him as he filled the condom. Aaron laid on the bed and panted, looking at Shawn’s face as the man gasped.

“I want to take a nap and try that again.”

“Sure.” Aaron didn’t want to move, but he knew that he had to. He gripped the base of the condom as Shawn lifted off of him. His hand flapped towards the bathroom as he dropped to the bed.

Morning came, and Aaron didn’t want to face it. He was on the edge of the bed, looking at Shawn as the man slept. The man was long and lanky, Aaron knew that, but he hadn’t really realized there were that many similarities between Shawn and Spencer until he really looked at the man. He had the same cheekbones as Spencer, the same full and open eyes.

Slipping from the bed, Aaron dressed quickly and left before Shawn could wake up. He had gone home with a stranger who reminded him of Spencer and fucked the man twice. Aaron didn’t want to see Shawn or Spencer. Aaron especially didn’t want to see Spencer. Aaron looked at the time as he hit fresh air. There was no way that Jack wasn’t already awake. Aaron didn’t rush home, he tried to clear his head. He had been careful with Shawn. There was no risky part of the encounter. Aaron still wanted to shower.

When Aaron rounded the block, he saw that there was a car that Aaron knew well in the driveway. He didn’t want to see Spencer, but it seemed that Spencer was over to spend time with Jack. Aaron dug his phone out of his pants. He’d shoved it in there when he had been getting dressed. He found the text from Jessica that told him that Jack had wanted to learn some science words, so she had asked Spencer to come over.

Aaron plastered on the best face that he had. It was his serious face, and he didn’t like wearing it at home, but if it got him upstairs and into the shower without having to look at Spencer or talk to Spencer, Aaron would wear it. He knew that Jack would forgive him for not stopping to say hello.

Jack met Aaron at the door, Aaron wrapped a hand around his son’s back and Jack hugged him.

“Hey, buddy. I smell like Uncle Dave’s cigars. I’m going to go shower, and then I’ll come down and play.” Aaron didn’t look where he knew Spencer was. He did not want to see his face and know that the young man would be able to tell that he was lying. Aaron shut and locked his bedroom door as soon as he got into it and stripped naked. He took his suit and threw it into the back of his closet. He grabbed the sheet off of his bed, throwing it over the top.

Aaron didn’t know what he thought that he would look like when he looked at himself in the mirror, but the man staring back at him looked the same as he always did. Aaron rolled his shoulders trying to get rid of the itch of his scar between his shoulder blades. Aaron could almost feel the itch of it like it was healing all over again. Aaron hated that reminder more than anything else that his father did to him.

There was only so long that Aaron could delay the inevitable. Jessica and Jack knew how long it took him to shower. Even when he was indulging in a nice long relaxing one. Jack was probably going to want Spencer to stay for lunch, Aaron knew that because the boy adored Spencer and Aaron now understood why he gave in to Jack when Jack wanted Spencer, Aaron wanted him too. Now Spencer was on the team, and it was only so long before Spencer and Dave, followed by the rest of the team knew that he wanted Spencer. Aaron was too young for a midlife crisis but as Aaron thought about Spencer, his cock filled. Aaron disregarded it and finished up his shower. If he was less than civil with Spencer. The young man would leave. He didn’t like to be around where he wasn’t wanted. Aaron had learned that in the short time that he was in the unit. Aaron just hoped that when he had a clearer head and reined in his attraction to the younger man, Spencer would forgive him.

Spencer buried his face in the pillow that was in his lap. Jessica was sitting in the chair across from him laughing loudly at Jack, who was playing with a few stuffed animals and some soldiers. While there was no running commentary from Jack about what was going on between them all, both Spencer and Jessica knew what Jack was doing. The shock of arriving and only finding Jessica and Jack there had been jarring. Jessica had been the one to text and Spencer had just thought that Aaron might have been asleep.

A hand on Spencer’s face drew him out of his thoughts. He looked up from the pillow to find Jack right there.

“Why do you hide your face when you laugh?” Jack looked very upset about it.

Spencer set aside the pillow and held out his hands. Jack crawled up and into his lap. Spencer tucked his head over Jack’s shoulder so that he could see his hands as Spencer signed.

“I found out from a young age that my father didn’t like to see me laugh with no sound coming out. So I either never laughed, or I hid my face in my pillow.” Spencer wasn’t going to lie to Jack about something like that, even if the story was a horrible one. Jack needed to know what he could face. Children bully each other but adults who bullied children were worse.

Jessica gasped, and Spencer looked at her. He could see the evidence of tears in her eyes. Spencer just shrugged a shoulder, and she nodded. There wasn’t anything that could be done about Spencer’s childhood but making sure that Jack’s was better was a good start. Jack jumped out of Spencer’s lap, going for the front door. Spencer marveled at the boy’s ability to hear his father coming home, even if he was walking. Jessica hadn’t said where Aaron was, but Spencer knew that wherever he was, he had walked.

The door opened, and there was the murmur of Aaron’s voice from the little foyer. Spencer laid the pillow down on the couch beside him and straightened his legs. He had no clue what Aaron was going to think of him being there. He did not want to upset the man, but he also knew that Aaron didn’t mind Spencer helping Jack with learning sign language and the words that Jack wanted to learn were right up Spencer’s alley.

Aaron didn’t even look at Spencer or Jessica as he retreated towards the upstairs of the house. Jack walked behind him pouting at his father until Aaron was gone from sight up the stairs. Jack stood there at the bottom of the steps and frowned upward at the father that could no longer see him. Spencer heard something about cigars when Aaron had been murmuring at his son but when Jack came back and settled down into Spencer’s lap that smell was not there. Spencer looked at Jessica. Before she raised her hands, she looked at Jack who had his face buried in Spencer’s chest.

“He was out settling down after the case. I don’t know where he was, but Haley talked about him liking a bar nearby. I don’t know if he slept there, which some are known to do or if he went home with someone.”

That last part was more than Spencer needed to know, but he understood why Aaron was going for the shower. Spencer thought about what Jack wanted from him and thought that maybe the next day would be better. Give Aaron a chance to calm down and get back to himself before he was bombarded with someone who wasn’t family.

“I’m going to go. Tell Jack that I’ll come over tomorrow and we can do science and sign language.”

Jessica looked like she agreed and was about to say something when Jack jumped out of Spencer’s lap and ran to the front door. The sound of the deadbolt slotting into place and then Jack feet running towards the kitchen said that he had seen what Spencer said.

“I think this means you are staying, even if it means that Jack has to lock you inside. I’ll go and talk to Aaron, see what’s wrong. Because that was not normal for him.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll go and talk to Jack, and we can see about maybe setting up in the kitchen. That way we won’t be in Aaron’s way.” Spencer realized after he had signed that he had called him Aaron and not Hotch. He had been calling him Aaron in his head and Hotch verbally through his phone and through his hands since the cookout the month previous. He couldn’t believe that he had slipped up and with Jessica at that. At least it was better than doing it in front of Rossi.

Spencer didn’t say anything, just got up off of the couch and moved toward the kitchen. Jack was sitting in the corner, his legs up to his chest. Clutched in his hand was a set of keys. As soon as Jack saw Spencer, he slipped his hand with the keys down low into the v made between his stomach and his legs. Spencer saw the playbill on it that said that it was his keys. Jack had to have grabbed them from where they had been sitting on top of Spencer’s messenger bag on the table in the foyer. Spencer was happy he was just holding them instead of trying to flush them or something.

Jack refused to look up at Spencer, so Spencer went back to the living room and grabbed his phone.

You have to look at me to listen, Jack. I’m not going to leave.

“Promise?” Jack looked up at Spencer as he asked, so Spencer set his phone aside.

“I promise.”

Jack stood up and slipped the keys into his pocket. Spencer smiled as it made Jack’s pocket bulge.

“Why don’t you go and hide those somewhere? I promise to stay here and not look.” Spencer exaggerated placing his hands over his eyes and sat down on the floor. Spencer listened to Jack near running out of the room, but he didn’t move. Spencer was sure that he heard feet on steps and wondered why Jack was hiding the keys upstairs. The soft pad of feet a few seconds later had Spencer looking up, but it wasn’t Jack coming back into the room. It was Aaron, standing there in a pair of jeans and button up shirt that was not buttoned. Spencer scrambled to his feet as he tried to think of something to say that was not him saying that he was going to leave. Or say he was sorry for being here so early.

Aaron said nothing but moved to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. He went right to the back door and exited, still saying nothing to Spencer. Spencer watched Aaron as he moved to the lounger under the awning of the porch and settled down with a blanket on top of him. Spencer wanted to go to him and tell him that he was sorry for being there. That Spencer didn’t know until after he had already got there that Aaron didn’t know that Spencer was coming over. Hell, Spencer wanted to apologize for whatever had Aaron in the mood that he was in. The look on Aaron’s face when Aaron had seen Spencer on the floor in his kitchen would have made a lesser man apologize for a lot of things that they hadn’t done. Spencer though knew the look on his face, and he wondered exactly what Spencer had done to him. Spencer hadn’t even left the station during the last case. The dump sites were not that statistically relevant other than their location within the city.

Jack came back into the room with a grin on his face. He had a book in his hand that had science experiments in it. Jack’s eyes tracked to his father outside, and the boy grinned even brighter before he handed the book to Spencer as he passed him. Jack went right outside into the cold air and hugged his father before kissing his cheek and coming back inside. Spencer wondered if it was better if Spencer did leave after just a little while. Aaron was going to stay away from Jack as long as Jack was with Spencer.

“Let him be, Spencer. He’s going to brood all day no matter what so you being here to entertain Jack will be welcome. I need to run to the store. We are out of a few things. I thought that we could do pizza for lunch. There is a nice place a few blocks over that does little pizzas however you want. We can walk there?”

Jack jumped up and down, nodding his head.

“Good. I’ll tell Aaron that he can join us or find his own food.” Jessica leaned in and kissed Spencer’s cheek. Jessica made a noise that it took Spencer to place and when he looked at Jessica he could see her looking outside. She was looking at Aaron whose head was in the process of moving to where he wasn’t looking at them.

Jessica went out to the back porch and leaned over Aaron saying something but Spencer wasn’t paying attention to that as he turned to head into the living room. Jack followed behind, and Spencer wasn’t shocked when he was pushed down onto the couch so that Jack could sit in his lap. Jack spread the book on his lap so that Spencer could read it. Spencer looked at the words in the book and saw that Jack had circled some of them in pencil. Spencer flipped to the front of the book and saw that Aaron’s handwriting declared the book Jack Hotchner’s. Spencer was glad because he did not want to have to teach Jack about writing in books that were not his.

Spencer lost himself in words and learning with Jack, but he kept an ear out for Aaron coming in and leaving the kitchen. Spencer was shocked that Aaron was staying away like he was. He expected him to come in and spend time with Jack at least. It was nice though, being at the center of Jack’s attention, even if just for an hour of time. Jack was a sponge that Spencer didn’t think would ever be filled. Even only the short time that Jack had been at his preschool, he was so much more verbose with his words. When he was speaking again, and Spencer knew that he was going to talk again, Jack was going most likely skip a grade or two once he had a verbal grasp once again of his language. Spencer was sure that the Headmistress at New Haven was keeping a close eye on him.

Jack slipped off of Spencer’s lap making the sign for the bathroom before moving towards the area where Spencer knew a half bath was. Spencer hadn’t used it the day of the cookout, but he had seen Morgan and Prentiss slipping into it. Spencer had used the outside bathroom in the shed. He hadn’t liked invading Aaron’s house any more than he had to. That thought hadn’t even entered his mind today. Jack had wanted him, and Jessica had reached out.

“Spencer, can you help me with the groceries?”

Spencer looked up from where he had been looking at the book of experiments and thinking to see Jessica standing in the doorway with two armfuls of groceries. Spencer jumped up and moved toward where the trunk of the car was still open. Spencer saw that there were at least two more trips worth in there. He grabbed as many as he could and rushed the groceries inside so that Jessica wouldn’t come out to get the other. She was putting up some things in the freezer and in the fridge from her load so Spencer was able to slip back outside and get the rest. Once he had dropped those off, he went back out, shut the trunk and made sure that the keys were not inside the car before he locked it and closed the door. He wasn’t sure if Jessica locked the doors on her car or not, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

“Thank you so much, Spencer,” Jessica said as Spencer came back into the kitchen. Spencer nodded and smiled at her. She handed over two bags and pointed to a cabinet that was under the counter right next to the stove. “That’s where canned food goes. I’m sure that it will just take a few seconds for you to figure out Aaron’s method for how he likes them. I’m going to take the rest of the frozen things down into the basement freezer. You are such a sweetie.”

Spencer was crouched down when Jessica passed by him. She laid her hand on top of his head and threaded her fingers through his hair for a few seconds before she ruffled it. Spencer didn’t know what to do so he allowed it, starting to put up the cans. Aaron’s sorting methods were not strange and made sense.

“You have the softest hair. I don’t think I ever want to stop touching it.” Jessica did stop after a few more passes through his hair.

When Jessica’s steps echo nearly faded from Spencer’s hearing, he reached up and tried to tame his hair back down. He looked up, and when he made sure that she wasn’t at the basement door, he saw that Hotch was looking at him. Spencer swallowed at the look that Aaron was giving him. Spencer vowed to have the cans put up before Jessica got back upstairs because the look that Aaron was giving him made him want to run. Spencer wondered if Aaron would calm down if he went over there and told him that he was not interested in Jessica as anything more than a distant friend. Spencer would never do that to a coworker. He would never date the sister of a coworker, and no matter what the law said, Jessica was Aaron’s sister.

Spencer placed the empty bags on the counter where Jessica had set the ones that she had emptied and hightailed it out of the kitchen as he heard Jessica’s footsteps heading up the stairs. Jack was in the living room looking at the book, so Spencer sat down beside him.

“I usually am the one that puts up cans. Thank you, Spencer.”

Spencer reached over and ruffled Jack’s hair. He didn’t want to say anything, even with his hands because he had a tendency for spilling what was on his mind and Jack was too young to understand what was wrong. Spencer instead had Jack change his focus from Spencer, Jessica, and groceries to the book again. Jack had little post-it notes in his hand that were purple.

“Daddy buys me post-it notes when we go to the store because I like to use them and I have my own desk drawer of office supplies in his office so that I know what I can use and what I can’t.”

“That’s really cool, Jack. So why do you have them right now?”

“I want to mark the experiments that I want to do with you in purple. Aunt Jessica is going to be pink, and Daddy is going to be blue.”

“Is blue his favorite color?” Spencer asked. He hadn’t been able to actually figure out the man’s favorite color. He did dress in more blues, blacks, and grays but those were the typical colors for most suits.

“No, but I don’t have yellow post-it notes. Daddy found me the purple ones, and I have a lot of things wrote down on them that have to do with you.”

“Like what?” Spencer was a little shocked at that. He didn’t realize that Jack would want notes on him.

“Questions that I want to ask you. Sometimes it’s things that I want to say to make you happy.”

“Oh.” Spencer watched as Jack flipped to the front of the book and started to stick a purple post-it note on the first page. Spencer remembered him talking about wanting to do it with Spencer. Spencer didn’t touch the topic of things that were on the purple post-it notes in Jack’s room again. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say in answer to that.

“Jack, we are leaving in a little over an hour to go to lunch,” Jessica called from the kitchen. She didn’t pop her head out or make sure that Jack was listening in any fashion. “I noticed that you didn’t pick up the action figures on the floor in your room earlier. You need to do that, or it’s water with lunch and then no toys until you do.”

Jack dutifully closed the book in his hands before setting it down on the coffee table. Instead of going to his room though, Jack moved to the bookshelf in the corner and grabbed a book. He walked it over to Spencer.

“I need to clean my room. I don’t want you to get bored and leave,” Jack said before he handed over the book. Spencer took the book and looked at the cover. He saw that there was a purple post it on it, but instead of Jack’s careful very early handwriting, it was Aaron’s with Spencer’s name on it. It was the first book in the spy series that Spencer and Aaron had read on the jet. Spencer smiled at Jack, and the boy took off. Spencer got up from the couch and moved to the bookshelf. The books that were there were well taken care of and in perfect condition, or at least the dust jackets were. Spencer stopped though when he realized that there was a copy of the book already there. Spencer opened the cover and saw that Aaron had written in the book. To Spencer with fondness, Aaron Hotchner. Spencer wasn’t sure what to make of the fact that Aaron was acting like he was, not even telling Spencer a good morning but he had bought a book for Spencer.

Aaron Hotchner was a man that Spencer didn’t understand all the time. Some of the things that he did were very understandable, some only understandable with some thought but this. Spencer didn’t know what this was. He didn’t understand why Aaron was upset with him from the moment that he got home it seemed. If all it was was that he didn’t want Spencer there after a night out, he should just say so. There was a part of this all that Spencer didn’t know, and that part was stopping him from understanding. Spencer set the book back down where Jack had got it from. While it was a gift for Spencer, it wasn’t Jack’s to give and Spencer would rather wait and either get it from Aaron or never receive it at all if Aaron had rethought the friendship that Spencer thought they were building.

Spencer didn’t think that Aaron was someone who would actually use someone for personal gain, but it seemed that Spencer had again worn out his welcome somewhere and he hadn’t known it. Spencer grabbed his book that he had brought with him and sat down on the couch. He turned his back to the arm and tucked his sock covered feet up onto the couch, laying the book on top of them. Spencer wrapped an arm around his feet and self-soothed by pressing his body as tight as it could get.

A half an hour passed, Spencer keeping track of time by the pages that he turned. There were the soft sounds of Jack cleaning his room, and Spencer listened with half an ear, it was the only reason that he heard the back door open and then Aaron’s soft footsteps through the house. Spencer didn’t look up when Aaron moved across the living room and sat down in the chair near the window. Spencer could feel his gaze on him, but he didn’t care. Spencer just kept on reading. He wasn’t going to start the conversation.

Silence, except for Spencer turning pages in his book, filled the living room until Jack came downstairs at the same time that Jessica exited the kitchen.

“You guys ready?” Jessica asked, first looking at Spencer and then looking at Aaron.

Spencer closed up his book and moved toward his bag, and when he did, he remembered that Jack had his car keys. Spencer turned to look at the boy who was diving under the couch cushion that Spencer had been sitting on. When he came out, Spencer’s keys were in his hand. Spencer laughed and waited for the boy to rush to him before he slipped his book into his bag.

“Can I ride with Spencer?” Jack asked Aaron. Spencer kept this eyes on Jack, afraid that the man would deny Jack just for the simple fact of Spencer looking at him.

“Sure, Jack. I’ll get the booster seat from my car, and we can put it in Spencer’s.” Jessica sounded happy, so Spencer looked up at her. The look on her face though was stormy, and Spencer realized that she was looking at Aaron. Spencer didn’t look at him though. If he didn’t want Jack riding with Spencer, then he could say something.

Getting the seat moved over into Spencer’s car took no time at all. Jack was quiet in the backseat, not moving around, not kicking the seat. Spencer had never driven with a kid in his car, so he was a little shocked that it wasn’t like some of those movies that he had seen where the kids were hellions.

Spencer arrived last at the restaurant, taking his time and making sure that he drove carefully to not upset Aaron. However, when Spencer and Jack entered the pizza place, Spencer was shocked to see that Jessica was sitting opposite Aaron in a booth. He had expected them to be seated beside each other. Jack ran forward, letting go of Spencer’s hand. Spencer wasn’t sure what he wanted because he was either going to be seated beside Aaron or beside Jessica and at the moment, neither was a good idea. He wondered if he could fake sick and leave.

Before Spencer could make a decision, Jack slid into the seat beside his father, and Jessica patted the seat beside her. He didn’t want to sit beside her, and he really didn’t want to sit beside Aaron either. Yet the sides had been drawn and Spencer could either leave and upset Jack or stay and get Aaron more upset at him. Spencer’s affection for Jack won out, and he sat down beside Jessica.

The waitress appeared as if summoned.

“I’ll have an unsweet tea, and my son will have a half cut tea, please.”

Spencer turned to Jessica to start to sign what he wanted, but Jessica wasn’t looking at him. She was looking at the waitress.

“I’ll have a Pibb, and he’ll have a sweet tea, lite ice.”

Spencer looked at her, a little shocked. After the waitress left, Jessica looked down at Spencer. She smiled at him and winked. The rest of the meal went like that, Jessica acting weird and Aaron only talking to Jack. He hadn’t even said a word to Jessica since Spencer sat down.

Jack wasn’t upset with Spencer when he decided to leave after he had shoved the last bite of his pizza in his mouth. Spencer couldn’t stand to be around Aaron anymore. He was glad that they had tomorrow off for Spencer to get used to the new Aaron. For all Spencer knew it was the Aaron, he had always been, and he had just been different around Spencer because he had needed Spencer. That thought made Spencer’s stomach churn even more.

The whole way home, Spencer hardened himself towards the man. It would help with the feelings that Spencer had for him because it would mean that nothing ever would come of it. Aaron was just like everyone else, he saw Spencer as a tool to be used. First to try and fix his son and now as the genius for his team. Spencer would just tell Jack that maybe it would be better if they got together when out and about and Jessica was the only one around.

Curiosity was at the door, sitting on the stand, chirping as Spencer unlocked the door and took care of the alarm. Spencer hung his bag up on the coat rack before he picked up Curiosity as he toed off his shoes and socks. Spencer marveled at Curiosity’s ability to know when there was something wrong with Spencer even before he got into the apartment. Curiosity didn’t try and get out of his arms, so Spencer carried him into the kitchen. He opened up the wine fridge that he had on his counter. It was full of various white wines. Spencer grabbed a bottle of Moscato and set Curiosity down in his spot on the counter. He sat there chirping at Spencer as Spencer popped the cork on his wine and found the glass that he wanted. He carried both into the living room before he moved back to get Curiosity.

Before sitting down, Spencer found his DVD of one of his favorite performances of Phantom of the Opera and loaded it into his player. He sat down on the couch and filled his glass much higher than what it would be in a restaurant. Turing to put his feet on the couch, Spencer got into his self-soothe position, and Curiosity stretched across his feet, keeping them warm. It wasn’t long before Spencer was filling up the glass again.

Phantom ended as Spencer was filling up his glass again. This time it emptied it. Spencer looked at the time, and it was only just a few minutes after six so Spencer moved to the kitchen and grabbed another bottle. Spencer was going to be staying home so there was no reason that he couldn’t enjoy a bottle of wine or two or possibly even three. There were three other bottles, but Spencer wouldn’t touch them.

Sighing, Spencer glanced over at his DVD shelves as he set the bottle down beside the now empty one. He frowned as he tried to figure out which one was going to be the one to watch. Spencer grabbed the last DVD on the shelf, Madame Butterfly. It would hold him over until he went to bed, whenever it ended. Spencer didn’t stop drinking and watching, and when he hit the third act of Madame Butterfly, Spencer laid down finally and closed his eyes, letting the sound of the play wash over him.

Spencer groaned as his bladder woke him up. He waited for Curiosity to move off of his chest before he rolled off the couch. From that position, Spencer debated crawling. He regretted the second bottle of wine and abhorred the third that he had drunk but knew that he would have made the same choice again. In Vino Veritas and all of that shit. Spencer felt a little better, more centered because his armor was wrapped around him again. He had been stupid to let Hotch in the first time. There was a reason that he was better off alone. He was able to stuff his attraction to Hotch down into the hole it belonged in, and soon the dirt covering it would settle, and grass would grow, and nothing would look out of place.

After taking care of business, Spencer pulled his phone from his messenger bag. He saw that the message light was blinking so he woke the phone up. Spencer saw a lot of notifications. He dismissed the emails to deal with in the morning. There were pop-ups from sites that he followed that he rejected as well. What shocked him was that he had a text message from around seven the evening before. Opening up the function, Spencer saw that it was from Hotch. He closed the function and moved back to the couch. He had been tired right up until he saw the message from Hotch. Spencer tossed his phone onto the couch before he walked to the kitchen to get water. He grabbed his water bottle that he used when he went on runs and filled it with water from the fridge.

Spencer sat down on the couch opposite where he threw the phone. He stared at where the message was still blinking because he hadn’t read it. Curiosity jumped onto the couch and stared at the phone as well. Spencer watched Curiosity watch the phone for several minutes before the cat moved around the phone in a circle several times before nosing it towards Spencer. Spencer grabbed the phone, unlocked it, and read the message.

Spencer, I am sorry for how I acted this morning and at lunch. You had done nothing to deserve how I acted. I did something stupid, and in taking it out on myself, I took it out on everyone around me and you the worst. I have already told Jack and Jessica that I am sorry and there is only you left. I know that I have already said I am sorry, but I mean it, Spencer.

Spencer just stared at the message. Words were hollow unless there was action behind them, Spencer knew this better than most.

It’s okay, Hotch

Spencer tossed his phone onto the couch between his feet and stared at it. He didn’t know what to make of what Hotch said. He wasn’t sure what had prompted the apology. Still, it meant nothing. Spencer jumped a little when he heard the chime go off telling him that Hotch had texted back. Spencer didn’t hesitate when he grabbed the phone.

No, Spencer, it’s really not okay how I treated you today. You are my friend, and I did not treat you like that today. Today, I treated you like you were someone that I hate and I did not mean that. I don’t hate you. I could never hate you.

Spencer silenced any text from Hotch because JJ was the one to text about cases so if one came up. He didn’t want to hear from Hotch at all until he saw him on Monday morning when he went into the office. Unless a case came up, Spencer planned to make a dent in his DVDs that he had ordered of various plays that had been staged worldwide. There was a beautiful version of Carmen put on by Comedie-Francaise. Spencer would just stay away from wine and veg on the couch. Spencer made plans about where he was going to go and do some shopping for his day of vegging out on the couch and building up his armor once more.

Chapter 10-December 2009

Aaron parked his car in the middle of the parking garage for the courthouse. The courthouse was packed like it always was. He looked into his rearview mirror and saw Jack was playing with the stuffed penguin that Spencer had got for him at an outing to the zoo. Aaron remembered the feeling in his stomach when he realized that Jessica and Jack’s excursion to the zoo had included Spencer but that Jessica hadn’t told Aaron that beforehand. Aaron couldn’t blame her for not telling him. Aaron would have not gone on his training day with a few of the other agents in the Bureau who were trying to get Aaron to do the triathlon that the FBI was putting on in a few months time. Aaron had started to run with a particular group that always got together on the weekends for a group run. Aaron had missed a few due to cases, but still, Aaron would have done it to have some time with Spencer outside of work.

Spencer was the consummate professional while they were working, but even the rest of the team noticed that Spencer wasn’t as close to Aaron as they had been. Ever since that stupid one night stand and the fallout of Aaron acting like an asshole to the younger man the day after. Aaron had even extended an olive branch just the case before. Giving Spencer the first book in Aaron’s spy series so that the younger man could understand the book that they had read together on the way home many cases before. Spencer had thanked him with his phone and slipped the book into his bag before he had gone back to whatever text he had been reading earlier. It was in Italian and Aaron didn’t remember enough to translate the title. Aaron hadn’t seen the book since.

Aaron knew that he had made a colossal mistake the second after Spencer had left the pizza place they had been eating lunch at. Jessica had pinned him with a look on her that Aaron knew would have killed him, if looks could kill. Jack had been thankfully unaware of what was going on, but as soon as they got home and Jack went up to his room, Jessica had laid into him. Jessica had only flirted with him to force Aaron to stop acting like a dick and come and save the man that he liked. Spencer had not really got what she was doing, and Aaron had just kept acting worse and worse to Spencer.

The sound of a tiny fist banging on the side of the car pulled Aaron out of his thoughts. He looked at Jack again in the rearview mirror to see the boy was getting restless.

“Ready, Buddy?” Aaron asked as he opened up his car door. Aaron’s work things were stored in the trunk, including his gun in the travel case. Aaron didn’t expect to need it that day at all, the case could take all day. Aaron moved around the car and opened up Jack’s door. Jack waited for Aaron to unbuckle him before he wiggled forward so that Aaron could get him out without banging his head. Aaron set him down on the concrete floor of the garage before Aaron reached back in and grabbed his briefcase from the seat behind the driver’s seat. It was full of everything that Aaron thought that he could need for his case.

Aaron hung the strap for the briefcase on his shoulder before he reached down to take Jack’s hand. The little boy clenched his fingers around Aaron’s two, squeezing tight. Aaron knew that Jack would preferably be held, but Aaron didn’t want to crease either of their suits. His upbringing of looking perfect in public was rearing its ugly head, and Aaron knew that the court didn’t care. They were in suits and carrying his son wasn’t going to upset them, but it was too much ingrained in him.

The courthouse was packed with people, so Aaron kept Jack close as they exited the elevator that led to the check-in area on the first floor. Aaron hadn’t been inside of this courthouse ever. He was used to the Federal ones in DC and the State ones for cases.

“Agent Hotchner,” one of the guards said as Aaron stepped into line. Aaron looked at him and started forward again when the guard waved him up. There was a different line and set of scanners for court officers and other officials. “I thought maybe you’d like this line. Jack will have to go through on his own, and there are no strangers in this line.”

Aaron looked where he said and saw that Morgan and Garcia were there having just gone through the scanners, and JJ was about to go through. Aaron nodded his thanks, but he didn’t say anything. Aaron waited for JJ to go through before he laid his briefcase on the conveyor belt and pulled his hand forward, getting Jack in front of him. He crouched to bring himself face to face with his son.

“Jack you have to go through this metal detector by yourself. Remember you don’t touch the sides and go through kind of slow. Can you do that?”

Jack looked at the machine and then back at Aaron before he nodded.

“Good. When you get through, go over there to JJ.” Aaron pointed where JJ was just a few feet away from the metal detector. Aaron stood up as Jack turned toward the machine. He watched as his son stepped through all by himself and Aaron hated that it was even something that had to be done. That kids were scanned because people used them for their own stupid schemes. JJ held out her hand, and Jack stepped up and took it. Aaron walked through and smiled when the scanner didn’t go off. He finally had found a belt that didn’t set them off.

The guard who was watching the machine nodded for Aaron to go ahead and go.

“I didn’t know you guys were going to be here,” Aaron said as he stepped up to take Jack’s other hand. Jack didn’t let go of JJ’s hand so the trio moved through the building towards the large staircase that would bring them up to the main level. Aaron knew that they were on the third floor, but Aaron wanted to take the steps. It would give him time to clear his head and to quit thinking about Spencer. He wasn’t shocked that Spencer hadn’t come to the court to check on it. Spencer had made sure to not be alone around Aaron unless they were the only ones in the office, but even then he was so buried in casework that Aaron knew better than to interrupt him.

“Rossi’s already up with Jessica. I guess they arrived at the same time. Rossi texted and told us not to wait for him.”

“Jessica left before Jack and I. We had a few snags with his suit, and then we misplaced the tie that I was going to wear.”

JJ gave Aaron a smile that told him that she knew that well. Aaron gave her a smile back before focusing on the steps. Jack wasn’t shying away from people that they passed them on the stairs, which Aaron was thankful for, it was probably why Jack hadn’t let go of JJ’s hand, a protector on each side of him.

“So, dinner tonight?” Morgan asked.

“What?” Aaron looked away from a couple that was passing him and looked at Morgan as he realized that they were on the floor they needed. Morgan smiled at Aaron.

“Rossi wanted to do a team dinner tonight. I guess he already booked the place. Well more a team family dinner.”

“Sure.” Aaron didn’t really want to, but he knew that no matter which way the case went, it would be good for Jack to be around those he considered his family. Aaron saw Jack sign something with his hand that wasn’t holding JJ’s anymore. “Repeat that, Jack.”

Jack turned to face Aaron a little better, dropping Aaron’s hand to sign with two hands.

“I don’t know if Spencer is going to come today.” Aaron looked up at Morgan who shrugged his shoulders. JJ shrugged as well. Jack nodded and pointed towards the room that had the right number on it. JJ, Morgan, and Garcia entered the room while leaving Aaron and Jack just outside of it. Aaron crouched down to Jack’s level again. “Remember, you have to sit with Aunt Jessica in the gallery. I have to sit up with my lawyer. Your grandfather will be on the opposite side of the room.”

Jack nodded and reached to push the door. Thankfully, it was the family court, so the room was much less scary than a regular courtroom. There was even a mural on the wall behind where the judge was. Jack had sat with the judge and spoke to her with an interpreter the day before. Aaron still didn’t know if she was going to call Jack up to the stand to talk in the actual court proceedings or not. Kids his age were hard to swear in, even in family court. Aaron let Jack walk in front of him without trying to call him back. Jack found Jessica and sat with her. The team, minus Spencer, was stretched across the seats behind her. Aaron nodded at Rossi before he moved up to sit beside his lawyer.

“The judge is going to be a few minutes late. A kid puked on her in the hallway, so she’s going to get changed.”

“That’s fine.”

Aaron adjusted himself in his seat and tried to sit like he wasn’t a prosecutor. He had been in a courtroom a lot of times but never where he was now, outside of the day in court for the divorce. Aaron barely paid attention as the Judge entered the room and they all rose. He wasn’t paying attention as Roy’s attorney called the witnesses for his claim on Jack. Aaron looked back into Roy’s side of the courtroom and saw that there was most of the Brooks’ family on that side. A few people were missing though that Aaron knew from Jessica’s words were on Jessica and therefore Aaron’s side. Aaron looked back at his side of the room and smiled at the team before he found Jack. Jack wasn’t looking up at all. He was focused on something in his lap. The penguin though was in the lap of the man that was on the other side of him. Aaron was shocked when he looked up and saw that it was Spencer. Spencer was focused on whatever Jack had in his hands. Aaron looked at Jessica who was looking at him with only a little bit of anger in her eyes.

The movement of his lawyer to stand up drew Aaron’s gaze back to what was happening. Three hours of family witness’s, a psychologist that was only talking about what her experience with kids was and not her experience with Jack as she had never met him, and Roy on the stand to malign Aaron’s character then it was Aaron’s turn to prove himself. Aaron was called first instead of last.

“Do you prefer Agent Hotchner or Mr. Hotchner?” Aaron’s lawyer asked.

“Since I am not working, Mr. Hotchner is fine.”

“Good. Mr. Hotchner. What did you do as soon as you found out that a serial killer was targeting your ex-wife and child?”

“I got them into Witness Security.”

“Even though technically as your ex-wife, she did not qualify for it.”

“There was a little resistance, but given that my son was not able to go into hiding alone, someone would have to go with him. It was preferable to placing him in foster care.”

“When did you find out that Haley was dead?”

“After the man who was after them was taken out by the fugitive recovery squad, and Jack was pulled from WitSec. I found out from my ex-sister-in-law, Jessica.”

“She had been pulled into Witness Protection to live with Jack in place of Haley.”

“That’s what Jessica told me.”

“What did you think when Jessica gave you files about Haley’s illness.”

“My first thought was about how I was going to get Jack through the loss of his mother when I wasn’t around for the actual loss of her.”

“And his disability. We’ve heard from a psychologist who thinks that being with you will hurt him worse and he’ll never recover from his traumatic loss of voice in your care.”

“Jack’s in preschool at New Haven Academy and meets with the psychologist there on a thrice weekly basis. That’s also where his American Sign Language teacher is based. His grasp of Sign Language is growing by leaps and bounds on a near daily basis. He’s more outgoing in the months since he has been home. He misses his mother, but we talk about her all the time. Jessica lives with us in the house that Jack grew up in. She took over the basement and turned it into an apartment of sorts.”

“What about your job?”

“I was on the fence for a long time. I was still out on medical leave when Jack and Jessica came home from the stabbing at the hands of the man that threatened Jack and Haley. I was offered a nicer retirement package than I would get if I retired at the usual age for the career track I am on at the FBI. Between it and the substantial trust and monies from my family, Jack would have wanted for nothing. However, my mind was made up for me about what I was going to do one night when Jack was sitting and playing in the living room. He was playing with some action figures that he had created. It was a kit that Jessica had bought for him when they were hiding. I found out that there was one that was me, and the rest were the criminals that I help to put away. I didn’t understand all of his words but when I asked Jessica the next day she told me that Jack always said the same time that no one beats daddy. I talked to him about the fact that without Mommy around, I was thinking about quitting. Jack was upset with me. Jessica had already offered to step in and take care of him when I was on a case. I spent a few days thinking about it all and when Jessica and I talked we agreed that maybe for now I stay with the BAU and revisit if it seems like it’s hurting Jack.”

“And there is nothing so far that shows that?”

“Nothing in the way that Jack acts or in the way that he’s acting at school. His psychologist’s reports have been glowing, but I know that she’ll be talking to the court later.” Aaron looked where the staff from New Haven were in seats behind the BAU team. Jack wasn’t seated between Spencer and Jessica anymore but was in fact in Spencer’s lap. They were having a conversation of some sorts. Aaron smiled at them even though neither were looking at him.

“Jack is sitting in the lap of a man right now, and they look to be talking.”

“Yes.” Aaron turned his eyes from Spencer and Jack towards his lawyer because Spencer didn’t need to catch Aaron looking at him like that in the middle of court. “Yes. That’s Doctor Spencer Reid, he is a newer member of my team. I was introduced to him the day after Jack was returned to my care. My team member and friend David Rossi introduced us.”

“He knows Sign Language.”

“Yes, I’ve never asked him what is wrong with his vocal cords, but he is mute. He has never had the ability to speak. Dave thought that he would be able to help me find a good place to send Jack to school, find a psychologist that could understand Jack and his issues with talking. Doctor Reid has also helped Jack and I when the communication barrier has hampered me understanding him.”

“And Jessica can’t help with that?”

“Jack’s ASL education has blown past what Jessica and I know and when Jack is frustrated, he doesn’t like to spell out every single word. He has my temper it seems.”

“What do you think will be the effect on Jack if he is removed from your care?”

“I would rather be blunt than nice. I know the effects of trauma like this and being ripped from the only family that he has left. Roy has disowned his only child left. So that means that if Roy gets custody of Jack, he will lose her as well as me.”

“Jessica won’t make up to her father?”

“I don’t know but Roy is the one who caused the break, and he is the one that started this.”

“Roy has a suit in criminal court that blames you for the death of Haley. Haley died of a brain aneurysm. How were you supposed to have stopped that?”

“I don’t know. The only conclusion that I can make from it is that I was supposed to catch what her regular doctor had not.”

“Do you have a medical degree?”


“We got a little sidetracked. You said you would rather be blunt about what would happen to Jack. Can you go back to that?”

“Being ripped from me, from Jessica, and New Haven, where I would continue to pay for even if Jack were not in my custody anymore but as Roy lives nearly an hour and a half from the school and transport back and forth would become an issue with DC traffic. I suspect that Jack would be put in regular school. Jack has not received an IQ test yet but his teachers and psychologist think that he will have a higher than average IQ, but until he has a grasp of either ASL or a spoken language, he can’t take the test and have it be accurate. I have hunted more than my fair share of children who grew up in terrible circumstance.”

“Your Honor, no matter his job focus, he can’t testify that if Jack is removed from his care, he is going to become a killer.” Roy’s lawyer said as he jumped up.

“That’s not what I am saying.” Aaron glared at the lawyer.

“I’ll let Agent Hotchner continue for now,” the Judge stared at Aaron until Aaron turned and looked at her.

“Roy’s own testimony was full of him bad mouthing me. I did not have my lawyer stop him because it ties well into what would become of Jack’s life if he were placed with him. I have the documentation from the security at the Quantico Base where the FBI Academy is located, where I work out of from where Roy was thrown out. I also have a transcript of the audio recording. If he can put forth what kind of life Jack will have with me as his father. I can put forth what kind of life he would have under Roy’s care. I will not state that I am the best father in the world, but I would do anything to make my son happy. I have never said a bad word about his mother in front of him. Even when we were in the middle of a divorce, and it was found out that she was cheating on me. I tell Jack about the fun times that she and I had in school. Dates that we went on. I have never said a bad word about Roy where Jack can hear. I heard first hand the fights between my mother and father, and I swore that I would never do that to my own children. The only time I have ever raised my voice in front of my child is when he’s playing outside and doing something wrong. I yell to get his attention and then talk to where he can hear, telling him to stop what he is doing.”

“Your honor, I am done with Mr. Hotchner, but I reserve the right to call him again after my other witnesses.”

Aaron turned to look at Roy’s lawyer who didn’t want to cross-examine him. Aaron stood up from the stand and move to sit beside his lawyer again. Jessica was next, and Aaron felt pity for her when his lawyer brought up the day that she went to tell her father that Haley was dead. Roy’s lawyer was having trouble keeping Roy silent and Aaron could see that the Judge was getting very upset.

Jack’s turn on the stand was a surreal experience. Jack talked about what he and his mom did for the short time they were together in WitSec and then when Jessica came. He talked about how happy he was to go home to his Dad and how he loved his new school. The interpreter had problems sometimes keeping up with how fast Jack was speaking. When it was time to talk about what Jack thought about going to live with his grandfather instead of his father, the Judge allowed Aaron to take his Penguin to him when he was starting to get upset.

“Your Honor, I have a final witness. I did not submit him as a prospective witness because I wasn’t aware of his close relationship with Jack.”

“Who?” The Judge asked.

“Doctor Spencer Reid.”

“I already sent the interpreter away to help a witness.”

“Doctor Reid has his own way of talking, Your Honor,” Aaron said as he stood up enough to show deference to the Judge.

“Do you, Doctor Reid?” The Judge asked, looking out at Spencer.

Spencer stood up, and Aaron saw that he had his laptop out. “Yes, Your Honor. I can speak for myself.

“Then I’ll allow it. Please step up, Doctor Reid.”

“Your Honor, I was not given a chance to vet this witness,” Roy’s lawyer said.

“I am using Doctor Reid as a character witness for Mr. Hotchner and as a non-child psychologist. Doctor Reid finished up his Ph.D. in psychology not too long ago.”

“I am allowing the witness. He’s more of an outsider than the rest of the character witnesses that have been called.”

Aaron made himself relax as Spencer carried his laptop up to the stand and sat down. He was sworn in and waited for Aaron’s lawyer to talk to him.

“I did a rudimentary background on all agents on Agent Hotchner’s team so that the other side couldn’t bring up something that would look bad without me knowing it. Funny enough when I looked into you, I got really intrigued. I already had paperwork that talked around Jack’s IQ with him not having the grasp of either language that he knows to be able to take a full IQ test. So here was a new agent to the team, a Genius with an IQ of one hundred and eighty-seven who was mute. A perfect role model for Jack. Showing him that what was wrong with him wasn’t going to hurt him. I looked into you Doctor Reid and do you know what I found?”

I don’t know what you found.

“Your father moved away from you and your mother when you were ten. Your parents never divorced and from all angles, it looked like your mother supported you well. However, the day you turned eighteen you committed your mother to Bennington Sanitarium.”

Aaron gasped as did several people behind him. Spencer wasn’t looking at anyone but the lawyer.

That wasn’t a question, but I’ll answer what you asked. Yes, I did commit my mother to Bennington Sanitarium on the day I turned eighteen. She should have been in there before that, but I weighed my own mental health over what the world thinks is best for a child like me. My mom wasn’t that bad until I got closer to eighteen. I was already in college at that point, and a change would have derailed my education. I would have been forced to go to a hearing to place me with a family that wanted nothing to do with me or a court battle to get emancipation. None of my father’s family stepped in and helped after my father left us because he couldn’t deal with a wife who was Schizophrenic and a genius son who was mute. He never even thought about taking me with him. My mom’s family helped as much as they could, but a lot of them were a long way away. I had an uncle who visited as much as he could. Neighbors made sure that mom was taken care of. My mom was a former professor at UNLV.

“So you are proof that a child can grow up fine without a father.”

Yes, however, I had a mother that gave me her all when she could. When she was lucid she was the best mother in the world. If had lost her as well as my father, I don’t know what I would have become. I don’t think that I would be where I am now.

“What was your first impression of Mr. Hotchner?”


“When Agent Rossi introduced you.”

That he was a loving father. He was meeting a stranger so that he could better understand his son and to figure out what was best for him.”

“And in the weeks and months that have followed?”

He’s held to that. Hotch has shown a love of his son that tells me that he would do anything for him. Every night on cases, Hotch takes the time to call his son to tell him goodnight. He has created a space in his office so that Jack can come in with him to the office.

“And psychologically, what is your opinion of what would happen to Jack if he was pulled from his father and aunt’s home and placed with his grandfather?”

I am not a practicing psychologist. However, I can assume based on my own feelings of what would have happened if I had been taken from Mom. Jack is a smart child. I can see a lot of me in him. While I don’t think that Jack is going to be exactly like me, but his IQ is up there. The amount of damage that I could have done to my own life and the lives of all of those around me is devastating. Jack’s burdened even more with his loss of voice. I could see it never coming back if he were to be removed from his father because I think that only seeing that he is safe and whole will get his voice back, just like his psychologist said earlier. I could possibly have burned the world down around me if I had been taken from my mother. I would have destroyed every single chance that I would ever amount to anything to make those that hurt me hurt as well.

Aaron could tell that his lawyer was stunned silent. He moved around the table and sat down, staring at Spencer. Spencer though was looking down at his computer.

“Cross?” the Judge asked. Roy’s lawyer shook his head no.

“Doctor Reid, you are free to stand down.”

Spencer closed his computer and stepped down from the stand. Aaron stared at him the entire time that he walked back to where he had been sitting but he never once looked up. Jack crawled into his lap, holding the penguin up for Spencer to hug. Spencer hugged the penguin, smiling at Jack as he did before hugging the boy.

“If that is all of the witnesses. Did you wish to speak to Agent Hotchner again?” The Judge turned towards Roy’s Lawyer.

“N-no, Your Honor.”

“I’ll give my ruling after I go over all of the evidence again.”

Aaron stood up as the Judge did. They were released from staying in the room. Aaron made his way toward where he saw the team gathered around Jack and Jessica, keeping Roy from even seeing them. However, Spencer was not there.

“Where did Reid go?”

“He got a text from someone and took off making a few signs at Jack.”

Jack wiggled free of Jessica’s hold to where he could sign at his father.

“Spencer had to talk to his bird friend.”

“Bird friend?” Aaron asked, looking at Jessica but her face was a mask of confusion as well.

“Raven?” JJ asked. Jack’s head bounced up and down.

“The woman who made his speech software,” Aaron said to the rest of the team. Inside, Aaron was disappointed. He had been hoping to talk to Spencer for a few minutes. Aaron just had to wait for the ruling to come back.

Jack was laughing to himself as he drew on the back of the paper placemat. The little boy had charmed the socks off of the waitress in the bistro that Aaron had taken him to for a late lunch after a morning and afternoon in court. Jessica had packed snacks for all of them, but it had only been that, a snack.

Aaron had tried to get Jessica to join them for a late lunch and then a trip to the indoor play area at the mall. It was perfect for winter time. There were always kids around. Jack loved to play there as well as the park, but he preferred the park in warm weather. Aaron was glad of that. Too many kids never played outside.

The bistro was empty, and Aaron had made sure it was okay for them to hang for a while. Their waitress Cindi had brought over a stack of the placemats and a box of seventy-two crayons for Jack to entertain himself with while Aaron just watched him and read his book a little bit.

“Jack, I have a question,” Aaron said when Jack finished up the second drawing and was reaching for a new placemat. Jack set his crayons down and looked at him. “I wanted to talk to you about me possibly bringing someone around.”

Jack looked at Aaron with a weird look on his face.

“Like Uncle Will. Dating.”

“I wouldn’t mind if I liked her or him.”

“That’s good. I want you to know Jack that if you change your mind, if you don’t like who I bring home, or you don’t like me going out one night, you just have to tell me. I won’t get upset. You are the most important person to me in the world.”

“Aunt Jessica talked to me about this two months ago. She didn’t want me upset.”

“Your aunt is very astute.”

“Are you going to date Spencer?”

Aaron looked at Jack, his jaw hanging open.

“I was playing with Bobbi on the playground. Greg wouldn’t stop teasing her and then he pulled on Bobbi’s ponytail. Miss Heston put a stop to it and told Greg that you don’t pick on girls to get their attention.”

“No, you don’t pick on girls to get attention. That’s mean.”

“But you were mean to Spencer.”

“That was stupid of me. I took something out on him that I shouldn’t have. He was an easy target for my rage instead of the person that I should have talked to instead. But if it was Spencer, what would you think about it?”

“Spencer is awesome. You look happy around him. You act happier around him.”

Aaron leaned back and watched Jack take the blue crayon and start to draw a box. Aaron didn’t comment on what Jack said so that he wouldn’t ruin the mood. Aaron had a lot of thinking to do, and he needed to talk to Spencer, but first, he really had to show that he was sorry for how he acted. Aaron would start with some of the tea that Spencer liked in Aaron’s house. A small peace offering to pave the way for the closeness that Aaron wanted.

Spencer set his last file into his outbox and leaned back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling. He had spent the morning lecturing at Alex’s class at Georgetown, so he had spent the afternoon playing catch up on paperwork. It was Friday, and Spencer was looking forward to a weekend off of work. The last four weekends had been ruined by cases. Rubbing his eyes, Spencer stretched a little before going lax in his chair.

Someone walked up to Spencer’s desk, not trying to be silent at all, so he was pretty sure that it wasn’t Morgan who had started to tease Spencer in a very friendly manner that included scaring him at some points. Spencer didn’t even open his eyes but instead reached out blindly and tapped a few keys on his keyboard.


“I saw you slip your last file into your pile and it’s after five, so it’s past time to knock off. I know you took the train in today. Dinner on me and I’ll drop you off at home,” Hotch said.

Spencer opened his eyes and looked at the older man. Hotch said nothing as Spencer stared at him. The man has been going out of his way to make things up with Spencer after the way that he acted, he still hadn’t given a full reason, but Spencer wasn’t going to push that. However, Spencer wasn’t going to get into a car with him and go out to dinner. He didn’t really want to invite the man back to his place, but he wasn’t going to go to Hotch’s either. Spencer debated meeting Hotch somewhere but the last time they had eaten out together was still burned in Spencer’s mind. He didn’t ever want to feel like that again.

“I don’t feel like going out. I was just going to go home and watch a new version of Chicago that came out from a company on the West Coast. If you want to join me, you can.”

Hotch stared at Spencer like it wasn’t the response that he wanted. Spencer hadn’t turned him down, but still, Spencer could see that he was disappointed. Spencer just wasn’t sure why.

“Sure, that’s fine. Text me your address?”

“Do you need to pick up Jack?” Spencer wondered if that was why Hotch was upset. Maybe Jack had wanted to go out.

“No, he’s going with Jessica to see his cousins. After the end of the court battle over custody, the rest of the family is upset to learn what Roy tried to do. They didn’t realize that he had disowned Jessica.” Hotch stopped and looked around. He seemed to realize where they were. “We can talk about that later. Are you ready to go? I’m all packed up. I can wait for you in my car or here and we can walk out together.”

If Spencer was reading Hotch right, the man was nervous. Spencer wasn’t sure that he had ever seen the man nervous before. Spencer wondered what had him so nervous. Surely, it wasn’t Spencer. Spencer looked at his desk. His bag had been packed since his last trip for coffee. Spencer eyed his coffee cup, full because he had worked through his files without even stopping to drink. He was technically ready to go, and there was no actual reason that he shouldn’t go with Hotch in his car except for the fact that he didn’t want to. Hotch was trying, so making a point of not riding in the car with him was going to make Spencer have to explain, and he really didn’t want to. It was December which meant Christmas was getting closer.

“I’ll be ready soon.”

The smile that Hotch gave Spencer was near radiant. Spencer looked away quickly, grabbing his cup of coffee and moving towards the little kitchen to clean out his cup. He gulped the coffee down and started to wash out his cup. There was a strange smell in the area, nothing terrible just something that he hadn’t smelled before. He stopped washing his mug when he saw the travel mug that he knew was Hotch’s sitting on the sideboard beside the coffee pot. There was a new pot beside it, and Spencer saw that there was a note attached. It stated that it was to be used for water only signed Hotch.

“I’ve been drinking more tea and the pot here, there is no hope to get rid of the coffee taste from the basket. And I had hoped that you would join me in a cup every once and awhile. That’s for you. It’s a new tea that I got in. I meant to bring you the mug that Jack bought for you, but I forgot it in my car. Jack even washed it so that you could start to use it right off the bat.”

Spencer smiled at Hotch as he stood there at the edge of the kitchen area, acting like he knew why Spencer wasn’t being friendly. Spencer finished washing his mug and set it on the drying rack before picking up the tea. He took a deep inhalation of the drink before he took a careful sip. The spices in the tea burst over his tongue before calming down with what was sure was lemongrass. There was just enough sweet in it to calm the spices and a touch of milk.

“It’s a variation of Chai called Thai Chai. Do you like it?” Hotch took a few steps into the kitchen area. Spencer took another sip of the tea and smiled as he did. Hotch smiled back at Spencer, and it was the same smile that he used to give Spencer, before that disastrous day.

“Thank you, Hotch. I really do like it.” Spencer spelled out with one hand. He didn’t want to let go of the mug.

“Ready to go?” Hotch asked. Spencer nodded, and the older man took off towards his office. Spencer watched him move realizing that there was a tension in Hotch’s body that had been there for a while that was now gone. Spencer watched the man grab his things from his office and was still standing in the kitchen, sipping the tea when Hotch exited his office. Hotch smiled at him as Spencer started forward. The man rushed to Spencer’s desk and grabbed his bag, slinging it over his shoulder with Hotch’s briefcase before Spencer could grab it. Hotch smirked at Spencer before he moved towards the elevator. Spencer followed behind him, and when the man turned around in the elevator, Spencer stuck his tongue out at him.

“My mom used to tell Sean and me that when we stuck our tongues out, one of those days she was going to grab it and not let go.”

Spencer waited for the man to say something else. He wasn’t sure what the point of that was. But as he thought about it as the doors shut and the elevator started down, Spencer’s mind went elsewhere, and it was thoughts he didn’t need to have about his boss, especially not in an elevator with him. Spencer didn’t look at Hotch but instead waited for the door to open. Hotch waved Spencer out of the elevator first. Spencer could feel the blush on his cheeks as he moved into the cooler night air. He saw that Hotch’s car was parked in a spot close to the building. He remembered that the man had gone somewhere on his lunch break and so must have snagged a better spot.

“Did you want to grab dinner on the way to your place or order out in a little while later?” Hotch asked as he unlocked the car and popped the trunk. Spencer watched him stick their bags into the trunk before he shut the lid and looked up at Spencer. The sun was starting to set behind the man, and it made him look near beautiful with it behind him. Spencer ducked his head and took a drink of his tea. He waited for Hotch to open his door and start to get in before he started to get into the car as well.

Spencer braced the cup between his legs as he buckled his seatbelt. It felt weird to not have his bag with him. His work laptop stayed at the office on the weekends but throughout the week came home with him sometimes.

“You didn’t answer me,” Hotch said as he started the car.

“I’m fine ordering in later.” Spencer left his tea in between his legs as he leaned back and started to watch the distance pass by. He looked around Hotch’s car and saw the GPS unit. He leaned forward and started to punch in his address. In a show of friendship, Spencer saved the address as a favorite. He noticed the voice was already silenced, so he left that alone.

“Good. Your cup is in the backseat on the floor behind me. It’s in the purple bag. You can grab it if you want.” Hotch risked a glance at Spencer, smiling as he did.

Spencer looked into the backseat, finding the bag and grabbing it with his left hand. He pulled the bag up and into his lap. He picked the travel mug out and realized that it wasn’t small like Hotch’s. No, it was one of the bigger twenty-ounce cups. He tipped up the bottom to see that it was actually twenty-two ounces. He flipped it back down and looked at the design. It was metal but was a vacuum walled so that the outside didn’t get hot. It was purple, but not all of it was. He realized that it was a purple curtain with black all around the upper and lower parts. Spencer found that odd, so he turned it around and saw the comedy and tragedy masks in the middle where the two parts of the curtain met. Spencer knew that he shouldn’t have been shocked by the fact that Jack remembered that Spencer liked plays, but he was. They had only talked about it once because New Haven was going to see a play of the The Hobbit around the end of the year. Some of the lower grades the teachers were reading a chapter of it a week, sometimes more, so that the students would have been read the whole book before they go to see the play. The older grades were reading it on their own, and some were doing extensive projects on it.

“He saw that and really wanted to get it for you. So I bought it, and we’ve been doing a layaway of sorts on it. We have even worked out a few extra chores so that he doesn’t lose his whole allowance to it. We can still walk and get ice cream on the Sundays I am home, and he can pay for his small cone.”

Spencer used the cup in his hands as a reason to not reply to Hotch. The image of the domestic side of Hoch with Jack popped into his head, and he was jealous. Spencer popped the top of the mug off and looked down inside. The little paper with the care instructions was still inside. Spencer knew that his feelings of jealousy were unfounded and he felt terrible for having them. He hadn’t realized that he wanted kids until that moment. Which was a shock as Spencer hadn’t ever thought about having a kid at all. He was sure that if he had found someone and the relationship had lasted longer than a few months, and they were getting serious, kids would have come up.

“You were talking about that Ethiopian restaurant that was near you. How late are they open?”

Spencer dropped the lid back down on top of the mug before he slipped it into the bag, raising up two fingers.

“Two am? That’s late isn’t it?”

Spencer shrugged. The area that Spencer lived in had a lot of low rent but really lovely apartments, so it was a lot of college students who lived in the area. Everything was open late. Spencer looked out the passenger side window, wrapping his arm around his body and gripping the area where his soul mark was with his hand. He didn’t know if he wanted to meet them or not. Spencer knew that just because someone was soulmates with someone else didn’t mean that everything was roses. He’d seen relationships that were started too soon, and things crashed and burned, both sides hurt but years later finding each other again only to be happy. Spencer wondered about his own soulmate if they were out there wishing for him to come and be their white knight and whisk them away from whatever their life was.

“You are quiet tonight,” Hotch said as he stopped at a light.

Spencer didn’t know what to say to that because he didn’t know how to go back to what they were before. He didn’t know how to breach that gap that was made when Hotch had burnt the bridge. He could feel his phone in his pocket, not knowing if he should try and tell Hotch what he was feeling.

“I know that I already apologized, in a text and in person, Spencer. And I know that I hurt you that day. If you are not ready for this. Not ready to be friends again after that I can understand. I’ll drop you off at your apartment, and I’ll go home. I don’t want to push you too far too fast.”

Spencer turned to look at Aaron, seeing that the man was looking forward at the road, even though they were stopped a light. He could turn and look if he wanted but he wasn’t. Spencer could tell that he was scared. He was scared that he was right, that Spencer wasn’t ready for a friendship again. Spencer pulled his phone out and opened up the speech app.

It’s not too fast. I am sorry I am hesitant.

“You said it that night when you didn’t mean to tell me about your now ex-girlfriend. Everyone has an issue and you are left alone. I’m sorry that my own issues hurt my friendship with you and hurt you.”

And I am sorry I’ve been acting like I have been.

“You were hurt, and you are allowed to feel those feelings. I hurt you, and you are allowed your feelings when someone hurts you. You don’t have to justify it taking awhile to get over the pain that a friend gave you. Especially when they don’t tell you what is wrong and I am sorry but what was wrong is personal and something that I am still dealing with. I do promise that I won’t let it affect my friendship with you.”

That’s understandable. I’m going to hold you to that promise, Aaron.

Aaron risked a quick smile at Spencer as he turned onto Spencer’s block. It was nice and simple, everything with Spencer was and that scared Aaron. The guest parking beside the apartment was empty at the moment, so Aaron pulled right into the spot closest to the front door. Spencer heard the trunk pop, and he started to climb out. Aaron quickly slipped out of the car before Spencer and was moving to the trunk. Spencer got out as well and moved to meet him to take his bag from him. Spencer stopped when he saw that Aaron wasn’t lifting out his satchel. But instead, there was another bag in there.

“Two cases ago you lost that scarf that you were using on that case in Minnesota. You bought a replacement, and I know that you hate it. I think that JJ said something about you mentioning it was itchy. I saw this when I was taking Jack shopping for some new pants. He was starting to look like he was wearing highwaters. He’s not getting big except in his legs right now. He’s grown an inch.” Aaron picked up the plastic bag and handed it over. “I’ve had that in my trunk since then. When the team went out to lunch two days ago, I almost stopped and grabbed it on the way back because you refused to wear the other one. But I didn’t want you to not wear it just because I had given it to you before you truly started to forgive me.”

Spencer took the bag and opened it. The scarf inside was a slightly darker shade of purple than the one that he had lost, but it looked sinfully soft. It seemed handmade. Spencer lifted it out of the bag and found that it was even softer than it looked. He wrapped it around his neck and smiled at how warm his neck felt just after a few seconds. Aaron smiled at him, taking in his face and how Spencer rubbed the scarf on his face.

“I’m glad you like it. I saw it on a rack at a shop. I guess a lady does a few of them for shops around the city on consignment. I bought myself one as well, a red one, and Jack one in green. He really likes his.”

Spencer rubbed his face on his in answer as Aaron picked up Spencer’s messenger bag from the trunk and shut it. Spencer watched him grab the strip of fabric that he clipped his keys onto so that he could find them in his bag easily. Aaron handed them over readily. Spencer realized that Aaron had all but kidnapped his bag. Spencer slipped his phone into his pocket and looked at the man. Aaron flashed him another of the winning grins of his and Spencer knew that he was screwed. He wasn’t going to come out of the night without his heart stomped on.

The trip up in the elevator was quick, and Spencer had his key in the door before he knew it. Spencer opened the door and saw Curiosity on the back of the couch. He was looking behind Spencer at Aaron.

“This is Curiosity?” Aaron asked as he stepped in behind Spencer making sure to give Spencer room to shut off the alarm. Which he did easily. When Spencer turned around and saw Aaron petting Curiosity, he stopped what he was doing. Curiosity was even leaning up into the hand when it would start to lower down. Spencer was shocked as Curiosity didn’t like anyone, ever. Aaron moved around the couch and sat down with Curiosity jumping off the back of the couch and running around to leap up into Aaron’s lap. Aaron looked up at Spencer saying something that Spencer didn’t catch because he was too shocked.

“Spencer?” Aaron said another minute later.

“Can you repeat that?”

“I said, ready to watch Chicago?”

“It’s on top of the DVD player if you want to get it loaded up while I change. I’m sick of being in work clothes.” Spencer moved to his bedroom, shutting the door to get a few minutes of peace. He heard Aaron talking to Curiosity. Spencer couldn’t hear what he was saying, and he really didn’t want to. Spencer found the pair of jeans that he had worn earlier in the week to go get pizza out with Martin. The long sleeve T-shirt that he wanted to wear was pulled from the dresser. He wasn’t ready for Aaron to see his mark and really the man didn’t need to. Aaron didn’t have a soulmate out there, and Spencer didn’t want to rub it into the man’s face.

Spencer exited the bedroom to see Aaron standing at the DVD player with Curiosity in his arms. It was a beautiful view, and Spencer knew that he really was fucked because this was not going to be good for his mind or his heart, but he had missed the man and hanging out with him and especially hanging out with him and Jack.

Chapter 11-January 2010 here

Aaron loved coming home after a long day at work. He loved having Jack right there and so happy to see him, but he knew that the day would come when Jack wasn’t going to be so happy to see him. Aaron cherished the days that Jack came running to him when he opened the door. Sadly, today was not one of those days. Jack was already in bed. Aaron hated that, but it was needed because he had been gone on cases for nearly two weeks. The team had been in Wyoming just after the new year started and had been there for a week. On the day that they were due to leave, the Jet broke down, and it would only take a day to fix, so the team opted to stay and not fly commercial. Since they were staying of their own volition, the FBI was not going to pay for their rooms, so JJ and Prentiss moved down to a single room and split the cost. Rossi paid for Morgan’s room so that he could stay in his own room, after upgrading of course, and Aaron and Spencer moved to the same room. Aaron had been given a room with a double bed in it to start just because there were no other singles in the area that the rest of the team was in.

Spencer hadn’t minded sharing with him at all. Aaron knew that he didn’t mind sharing with the younger man either. The team went out as a whole to get in the sights of the area with only Spencer complaining about the frigid Wyoming weather. He had brought the scarf that Aaron had bought for him, and Aaron was wearing his as well going for comfort in the cold weather and over a foot of snow on the ground than looking like an immaculate professional. Spencer had worn several layers of clothes with the top being some heavy purple sweater. His pants were a heavy pair of corduroy and Aaron had been a little upset and hoped that he would have gone for jean for warmth, like the rest of the team.

Aaron remembered that after dinner and before they all headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep before heading home early in the morning, Morgan had talked them all into a walk to help digest their food. Spencer had been the only one to protest, but it had died down when Aaron had asked him to join them. The look on Spencer’s face when Aaron had asked him to walk with him, not them, had been so hopeful for Aaron. It was the first time that he had seen anything in the man’s eyes that wasn’t just a simple fondness, it was so much more than that. It was almost a want. Aaron knew that it was probably just his own wishful thinking, but he couldn’t shake it, even over a week later.

The team had arrived at the park just in time. There were wooden forts all around the center of the park and a crowd of adults, teens, and kids who were being paired off. Morgan had jogged up to the seeming leader of the group and talked to him before he came back to the team.

“It’s a snowball fight. I guess it happens regularly enough that the wooden forts are kept here year around. We are more than welcome to join. He even said that since we are the guests of honor, we get to pick where each of us goes.”

Aaron had looked at the groups that were scattered everywhere. There was a group of kids that only had a single adult, and from the way that they all looked nervous, Aaron knew where he and Spencer were going.

“Come on, Spencer,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear before he took the man by the arm and led them over towards the kids. As it was realized that the two FBI agents were going to them, the kids started to look really happy. When Aaron stepped around the wall of the little fort and stuck his hand out for an introduction to the man inside the fort the kids started to jump up and down.

“Aaron Hotchner and this is Spencer Reid,” Aaron said as he nodded his head towards Spencer.

“Amy Batten. I’m thrilled to have you on our team.” Up close Aaron realized that she wasn’t so much an adult as an older teenager. “So we have twenty minutes to discuss strategy and to build snowballs. Ivan is our best builder. If you need to talk to him, you need to make sure he is looking at you and that you talk slow. He’s deaf.”

Spencer’s face lit up, and he looked around at the kids, Aaron noticed the little boy who raised his hand up. He looked like he was afraid that they were going to say something mean about him. Spencer dropped to a crouch in front of the boy, and he took off his very thick gloves so that he could start to sign.

“My name is Spencer, and this is Aaron. I am not deaf, but I am mute. I’ve very glad to meet you, Ivan.”

Aaron made sure that he caught the boy’s attention and he signed to the boy as well. He didn’t have to take off his gloves as he wore leather ones and not puffy like Spencer. “We are delighted to meet you.”

Ivan looked like it was the best day of the year and Aaron watched as Ivan and Spencer started to talk science given that Aaron didn’t know all of the words.

“That’s so awesome,” Amy said.

“Spencer is thrilled.”

“We know enough to get him to understand that we need more snowballs, but it’s hard. We have fun though, and that’s why we are all here in this fort, we never expect to win, but we have a lot of fun while playing. Two weeks ago when we had the last one, Ivan actually participated more than just making snowballs for all of us, and he got one of the best in the bigger fort in the face with a snowball.”

Aaron watched the kids as they made snowballs and talked about how they wanted to get the most of the other kids. Aaron could see why this group didn’t have more adults, the rest were in it for the competition and not the fun. Spencer and Ivan were a little too talky with their hands for Aaron’s liking, but when the action started, Spencer kept on making snowballs while helping direct Ivan who to hit. Aaron found out that getting hit with a snowball put you out. Prentiss was the first from the BAU team to be nixed, and Aaron was a little shocked that it wasn’t Dave because the man was trying to get hit it seemed. After being hit, you could stay and help make snowballs but couldn’t throw them.

It didn’t take long to realize that no one was really throwing at the fort that Spencer and Aaron were in and Aaron could tell that Spencer knew that. When the kids weren’t throwing balls, they were looking at Spencer. Aaron realized that many of them understood a few words of sign and that Ivan could talk so sometimes Spencer would sign something and Ivan would tell the kids what he said.

“I don’t think that this is a good thing,” Amy said after she was put out of the game. She crouched and started to make snowballs at Aaron’s side, stalking him with them. Before Aaron could answer, the fort was rocked with a very hard hit from a snowball. Aaron looked out to see who had thrown it because if that had hit one of the kids, they could have been hurt. Spencer was looking through a window, his eyes narrowed.

“COME ON, HOTCH!” Morgan yelled. Aaron realized that Morgan hadn’t aimed for anything other than what he had hit and it was the only saving grace that the dark-skinned agent had. However, while Morgan was focused on Aaron, Spencer stood up and launched a snowball at Morgan. It caught the man right on his chest and exploded in a puff of white snow. However, the rest of Morgan’s team was looking on in shock and the kids in Aaron’s fort all launched an attack on the other fort. When the snow cleared, Morgan’s entire fort was out. Aaron realized that Spencer was teaching the kids tactics. Aaron ducked down to miss any retaliation from the other forts, and when Spencer looked back at him, the grin of happiness on Spencer’s face took Aaron’s breath away.

Aaron and Spencer’s fort was not the winner of the fight but coming in third after usually being the first fort out was a victory for them. After it was over it was time for hot chocolate at the diner that was across the street. Aaron tried to pay for it for the kids, but he found out that it was already covered as the diner donated for the kids if the adults bought, so Aaron made sure to buy two for himself. Spencer and Ivan were huddled in a corner, and Aaron bought two more hot chocolates for Spencer because he was still shivering even after finding the warmest spot in the diner.

That night when they finally got wound down enough to sleep, Aaron laid on his bed and watched Spencer sleep. Aaron remembered it took him a lot longer to fall asleep even though he was dead tired from a week-long case and then a day of being very active and then the snowball fight. But it was the sight of Spencer smiling in his sleep and lying on his side facing Aaron that was keeping him awake.

The next day as they were boarding the jet, Applehorn called and had them diverted to where another team was already working however in looking for the bodies of the killer that they were hunting, a mass grave was found that was under fifty years old. The bodies in the grave were dumped there over the course of twenty years, and while it wasn’t an active killer, the locals wanted help with it all and the BAU team already there was hunting the newer killer. Aaron hadn’t minded taking it because the whole area was already freaked out with an active killer and the area didn’t need a panic at another killer that had operated without them knowing it for what seemed like twenty years. The case was a lower level of activity it was digging and finding who the bodies were. There was no sense of urgency to it all.

Days went by, and all bodies were identified, but it gave them a pattern that was enlightening. Two more mass graves were found while the other team hunted their killer. The killer that Aaron’s team hunted had been killing for sixty years. Three total mass graves were found, and the last body had been killed fifteen years before. When the BAU was called in to go after the current killer, he decided that if he was going to go down, he was going to take his father with him. The father had been put into a nursing facility after shattering his spine in an accident. The worst of humanity, that it what they hunted and it was never more evident than it was at that point.

Both teams had come home world-weary and ready for a few days off. Applehorn had granted both teams a five days weekend, and Aaron was planning on making the most of it with Jack. He was debating pulling Jack from school that Monday just to have another day with the boy.

However before Aaron could leave the office, his lawyer called and wanted a meeting since he was back in town. Two hours spent at his office meant that Aaron hadn’t been there to put Jack to bed. Aaron wasn’t that upset because he had all day Friday with Jack as the school had a teacher thing that was going on, continuing education or something like that.

“Aaron?” Jessica called out, pulling Aaron from his thoughts.

Aaron looked up to see Jessica was dressed for bed and wearing an apron, he couldn’t help but smile at her.

“Hey, Jess. Sorry I got caught up in my head.”

“You look like you are two seconds from passing out.”

“Not sleepy, just tired.”

“What did your lawyer want to go over?” Jessica asked. She looked back towards the kitchen before she stepped forward and grabbed Aaron’s arm. She stripped him of his suit jacket before she pushed him towards the kitchen. Aaron sighed and remembered when Haley used to do things like that when he had been in the advanced stages of law school. Aaron saw that Jessica had set out his food. He knew that he had sat in his car for a few minutes, but he hadn’t realized that it had been long enough for her to warm up his food and get it all ready for him.

“The lawsuit suing me for Haley’s death.” Aaron grabbed his fork and dug into the casserole in front of him. He knew that it was one of Jack’s favorite meals that did not involve macaroni and cheese. Jessica had found the recipe on the Internet and had modified it around to where it was more of a whole meal instead of the main dish, stuffing it full of vegetables to go with the meat, cheese, and potatoes. Tater Tot casserole it was called, and she had turned it into more of a very modified Shepard’s pie. Aaron liked it because it was easy to fix and it could even be made up and frozen. He knew that it wasn’t the one that had been in the freezer for when Jessica wasn’t around, and Aaron had a late night and needed something quick for dinner as it had been made with mixed vegetables that included lima beans, this had none. It just had corn and carrots.

“I know you are tired, and you don’t mean to do long and drawn out dramatic pauses but dammit, Aaron. Talk.”

“Sorry,” Aaron said after he chewed the food in his mouth. “The case never made it past the Grand Jury, but he’s not sure that they won’t try again. He thinks that as it was presented to them that they felt uncomfortable with it because anyone could sue anyone for someone’s death. Think about how many parents would be sued for a kid dying of cancer by other family members or even divorced parents suing the other for an accident. It was a can worms that no one wanted to open. After the debacle at the end of the custody case, the judge who reviewed the restraining order has made it a permanent one for all three of us, where we live, and where we work. I want to upgrade the alarm system in the house as soon as I can find a company that I like. This one was a good one when we bought the house, but I’m getting a little paranoid about it all.”

“And you have every reason to be. I don’t mind more security.”

Aaron nodded his understanding and started to eat again. Jessica let the silence fill the room for a while.

“So why did it even get as far as it did?” Jessica asked.

“Because the lawyer saw dollar signs. He wanted to get his hands on my trust from mom and dad’s death. Now Roy is out whatever he paid the lawyer for both cases, and I don’t know if he even has the money to support that.”

“The family is keeping an eye on him, and he sold his house and is living with his sister to pay for it. She was going to just leave him to it, but after mom’s death and then Haley’s she is feeling sorry for him. They are too close in mentality, and I am not letting Jack around her.”

“You know that I don’t care as long as he is safe.”

“I know that you would rather just not deal with my family and I understand. I’m going to head to bed. Let you finish dinner. Just throw the dishes in the sink, and I’ll do them after I eat in the morning.” Jessica stood up from where she had sat down and pressed a kiss to Aaron’s forehead before she moved to the steps to go down to her part of the house.

When Aaron was done, he washed up his dishes because he wasn’t going to leave them for her in the morning. That wasn’t something that he did, and she knew it, but still, she tried. She did most of the cooking because she got home before him, but he did more of the cleaning inside the house. The gardens were beautiful, and Aaron hadn’t touched them. Haley had loved gardening and Aaron hadn’t had the guts to go out and do anything with them, but Jessica had Jack help her weed on the weekends. Aaron was glad to leave that to them. There were so many ghosts in the house, but with Jessica here they hurt less than if he thought they would with just him and Jack. He didn’t know if he would have stayed in the house without her.

Jack’s bedroom door was open when Aaron forced himself up the steps, not stopping to even sit on the couch. He knew that if he did, he was going to go to sleep there. Jack was asleep on his stomach, his face turned towards the door. His night light was on, and Aaron could just make out his face in the shadows.

Aaron stepped into the room carefully, making sure not to wake up his son. He crouched at Jack’s bedside and brushed hair back from his forehead. He pressed a dry kiss to the skin there and leaned back, just watching Jack breathe. Aaron stayed there until his legs protested staying in that position for so long. When he straightened up, Aaron held in the groin. He hadn’t slept in his bed for so long that he was sure that he was going to be just a sore the next day cause his body had adjusted to not sleeping on it.

The light in Aaron’s bedroom was on, and Aaron saw his clothes had been put up. Jessica had done all of his laundry from the cases. Aaron had dropped it all off that morning before heading back to the office. Everyone had taken an hour or two that morning to get fresh clothes that they hadn’t been living in for two weeks. He hadn’t meant for her to do his clothes. He knew that she did it because she cared and the rest was because he didn’t charge her anything to live in the house. She took care of Jack, and that was payment enough, but slowly she was starting to force Aaron to let her help care for him as well. Aaron had only ever had Sean, and he had always protected him, Sean had never really protected or cared for him back.

Aaron didn’t feel like taking a shower, so he just stripped and tossed his clothes over the back of the chair in the corner. He grabbed a clean pair of underwear to sleep in. He didn’t even feel like getting a T-shirt or a pair of sleep pants. Jack had crawled into bed with him in his underwear before so Aaron wasn’t worried. He turned off the overhead light and moved to turn on his bedside lamp. Aaron flicked the switch on it and his eyes caught something leaning the lamp. He picked up the envelope.

I won these and won’t use them. Maybe Spencer wants to go.

Aaron opened the envelope and saw that there two tickets to see Follies. Aaron had never seen the musical before. It was for the next night. It was a later production time. Aaron saw that it was a formal dress production and he frowned a little. He hadn’t put on a tuxedo in a long time. He would have to make sure that it still fit. That added something to do with Jack in the morning.

Flopping onto his bed, Aaron picked up his phone from where he had set it when pulling it from his pants. He scrolled through the texts and found where he had texted Spencer last. Most of the other texts were two groups based on who was out and about at the time of the cases.

I have tickets to a showing of Follies tomorrow. Jessica won them and won’t use them. Did you want to go with me?

Aaron laid his phone down on his chest as he shifted around the bed a little better to where he could lay comfortable for a while. He felt his phone vibrate and realized that it was still on vibrate. Aaron turned it up to where he would hear messages coming through, even when asleep. Picking up his phone Aaron looked at Spencer’s messages.

I’ve not seen Follies since it was in Los Angeles in 2002. I would love to go.

Was it good?

I really enjoyed it. I’ll have to get my tuxedo out of my closet and air it out a little bit.

Aaron’s mind stopped a little with the thought that Spencer had a tuxedo already. As he thought about it, he really wasn’t shocked because Spencer enjoyed going to plays and musicals. Aaron wasn’t sure that he needed to see Spencer in a tuxedo. It was a visual that he would take back home and he was sure that it would be a star in his dreams. He didn’t know if this was a good idea. Aaron thought about it, and unlike everything else that they had done before, there was not going to be Jack with them. Going out to a musical was romantic. Aaron wondered if Spencer thought it was a date. Aaron wondered if he thought it was a date.

I was upset that I hadn’t got tickets to Follies yet so this is going to be perfect. There is a restaurant near that will guarantee we are out in time for the start of the musical. I can call and get us reservations if you like. Well, I’ll have Raven get me a reservation.

Aaron smiled at his phone.

Why don’t I call?

Aaron expected a text right back, but there was nothing. He frowned at his phone and looked at the time in the corner. Aaron pressed on the button to wake the screen when his phone finally vibrated again to tell him that Spencer had texted back, the chime came a second later.

Reservations made. Raven does all of that for me for the places that I can’t text to get a table.

Do you have the cell phone numbers for hostesses for places that you like?


Does that make me weird?

No, Spencer. I’m glad that they are willing to make allowances for you.

Do you have a tuxedo?

Yes, I do. I’ll be digging it out in the morning to make sure that it still fits. It’s been a few years since I was worn it.

Aaron laid his phone on the pillow on the other side of the bed and got himself under the blankets. The phone vibrated while he was getting comfortable, so he ignored it until he was settled. His body ached, but his mind was more than willing to keep going. Maybe talking to Spencer would help him start to wind down.

It’s been a few years for me as well. I did try it on not too long ago because I thought I was going to a very upscale play but I ended up at a club with Andrea. I know that mine fits me perfectly still.

Aaron closed his eyes and groaned. He didn’t need that at all. Even with his weariness, Aaron could feel his cock start to harden in his underwear. Aaron ignored it though. He tried to ignore his brain as well. Between the two, he was not going to be decent company around Spencer the next day, but Spencer was already so excited about it that Aaron would not back out at the last minute. He couldn’t hurt Spencer like that. His friendship with the young man wouldn’t last that disappointment. No matter what the younger man thought the night was, Aaron was going to make it a fun night.

I’m actually more fit now than I was when I last wore the tuxedo. The slave driver that was my physical therapist last year got me back into better shape than I had been in years. I”ve thankfully been able to keep up with it all as well.

That’s good. Staying in shape is good. I run to help relieve stress. Martin got me into it not long after I started to work with him. Asdfkr f

Aaron looked at the end of the message, and he laughed. He was getting ready to start typing when a message came through.

Curiosity was jealous of me being in bed and not paying attention to him.

Aaron laughed even harder rolling onto his side so he could breathe easier. He could see Curiosity doing that. The cat had been jealous of Aaron even talking to Spencer if Aaron stopped petting him. Spencer had been put out, but Aaron could tell that he was happy that Curiosity had taken to someone. The next workday, Spencer had confided that Curiosity hated everyone except for Spencer and now Aaron.

I missed talking to you after that day.

Aaron could read the emotions in Spencer’s tone. This was more than him just being talkative. Spencer was probably half asleep.

I missed talking to you, too, Spencer.

You are one of the only people that accept me for what I am. You don’t try and fix me, my voice or my habits.

Spencer, I think it’s time for you to go to bed.

When there was no answer for several minutes, Aaron reached over and turned off his light. He grabbed the cord for his charger. He woke up his phone again.

Good night, Spencer. Sweet dreams. I hope you have a good morning and I’ll see you at the restaurant in the evening.

Aaron plugged in his phone and pulled the blanket up a little farther. He closed his eyes and rolled over, laying his hand on the pillow opposite him. Aaron made the promise to himself that one day, he would tell Spencer how he felt about him but only once their friendship was more set, and it had a good, long foundation.

Spencer splashed water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. He had known from the first moment that he had met Aaron that the man was handsome. Seeing him in work suits didn’t diminish that but seeing him in a tuxedo, with a huge smile on his face, it was damning to Spencer. Spencer had been slightly hard and aroused since Aaron had entered the restaurant. Spencer had been half asleep when Aaron had texted him the night before. The man had been good at showing Spencer that the horrible day had been a one-off and Spencer’s heart was racing forward at lightning speed.

The appetizers had been consumed, and now Spencer and Aaron were waiting on their main course. Aaron had taken a cab, and Spencer had ridden the bus, so Aaron saw that as a reason to get a bottle of wine to split. The sommelier had brought a sample for Aaron, and while Aaron had liked the wine, he had handed over the glass to Spencer for him to try. Spencer had been tempted to wave the drink off, but the smile on Aaron’s face that went all the way up to his eyes softened Spencer up. He had taken a drink of the wine and found that it was one that he liked. Aaron ordered a bottle.

Spencer remembered the look of what looked like hope on Aaron’s face when the man had sat down at Spencer’s table and had asked how Spencer planned to talk. Spencer had frowned but lifted up his phone. Spencer could barely hold in the gasp as Aaron laid his hand over Spencer’s and asked him to just use his hands. Aaron hadn’t let go of Spencer’s hand until Spencer nodded and let go of his phone.

“Are you okay?” A man asked from behind Spencer.

Spencer turned around to see that the man was very old but dressed in a nice suit. Spencer nodded.

“Are you sure because you look a little melancholy. I’ll make your excuses to your date if you wish.”

Spencer said his hands to speak but stopped. He tried to smile, but it fell flat.

“It’s okay to tell him your heart isn’t in it,” the old man signed.

“That’s not the problem. It’s that my heart is too into it,” Spencer signed back.

“Well, I’m in a corner booth with my son and daughter. If you need me to make excuses for you, I will.”

“Thank you, you are very kind, but I will be fine. I just need to get my heart under control before I go back out and the wine isn’t helping.”

“In Vino Veritas. I hope you have a good night, young man.” The older man turned and left the bathroom. Spencer looked at his face before turning back to grab a towel and dry it off. He could do this. He wanted to do this. It was nice having a friend. It was nice having someone who would talk to him and not treat him like he was different.

“Everything all right?” Aaron asked when Spencer sat back down at the table. The main courses had not been delivered yet. Aaron had refilled the wine glasses though.

“Of course. The old man in the corner on the other side was talking to me. He saw me signing to you.”

“And once you get talking…” Aaron trailed off with a smile. Spencer stuck his tongue out at him causing Aaron to laugh hard enough to draw a few eyes at them. Spencer didn’t care. He reached out and grabbed his glass of wine and took a large sip.

“So what are you going to order for dessert?”

“Who says I am getting dessert? I’m trying to stay in shape.”

“You were eyeing something on the menu very hard earlier, and when our waiter delivered dessert to the table three over, you couldn’t take your eyes off of something.”

“I was actually thinking of that turtle cake.”

Spencer nodded but stopped when the image of the desserts on the menu came up in his head. The turtle cake was meant for two. The facts about sharing of germs and the sharing of food popped into Spencer’s head. He was sure that Aaron wouldn’t mind cutting the cake in half and the turtle cake did sound lovely.

“But let’s see how much dinner fills us up. We might not even want it. ”

The waiter delivered their meals both of them getting the steak special. Spencer started to cut up his steak as soon as the waiter stepped away from the table. It allowed him to keep his hands free to talk if he cut up his food beforehand. Aaron said nothing as Spencer was cutting his steak. Aaron had got mashed potatoes while Spencer had chosen the mashed sweet potatoes. They had both gotten the seasonal veggies as their other side. A basket of bread was set down, and Aaron grabbed one and ripped it in half to put butter on it. Spencer watched Aaron prepare his food.

Spencer had trained himself to watch how people ate and learned what it told him about people. It was a lot of the time the best way to get to know a co-worker. It rarely ever worked with dates as most people were on their best and did things to make themselves look better. Aaron though was sitting there an open book to Spencer. Even though the setting was a full spread of utensils, not everyone was going to use each one, and it all depended on what they ordered. Still, Spencer knew the use of all of them. Aaron had picked up several of his and set them aside right off the bat. He cut and prepared his food like he was under the watch of a very stern matron. It made Spencer wonder about his childhood.

Aaron was obviously from old money, the way that he lived wasn’t exactly extravagant, but he always bought sturdy things and didn’t care about the price. Jack had clothes that were well made and pricey, but they lasted. Aaron didn’t replace them though when they got a stain or a tear, but those became play clothes or clothes that Jack went out in when they were just doing simple things. Aaron’s clothes were always impeccable, and while his suits were tailored, they were not the most expensive suits on the market. Aaron also had no issue having Jessica living with him and not paying rent of any kind. Jessica had told Spencer about it in passing one day when he had been over to help Jack while Aaron had been out with Rossi during the time after that horrible day.

“You are thinking too hard, Spencer,” Aaron said drawing Spencer out of his thoughts.

Spencer looked up at Aaron’s face and saw that he was smiling. Spencer smiled back at him as he finished cutting up his steak. There was a cup on the plate that had a sauce of some kind. Spencer speared a small piece of steak and dipped it into the sauce. Aaron watched him as Spencer started to chew on the piece of steak. The sauce was light but not quite like an Au Jus for a Prime Rib. There were more spices but not enough to completely cover the taste of the steak. Spencer laid his fork down on the plate and raised his hands to start talking but stopped when he saw Aaron raising his own fork with a piece of steak drenched in sauce to his mouth. Spencer grabbed his glass of water to take a sip to cover what he was doing because the words dried up as he watched Aaron’s lips close around the tines of the fork. His eyes closed in pleasure at the taste of the food.

Ducking his head down, Spencer started to eat in earnest before he made a fool of himself. It was shaping up to a be an enjoyable evening out with his friend, and he needed that. He needed a good night out with anyone that wasn’t Martin and grabbing a beer at a bar.

“How are your potatoes?” Aaron asked forcing Spencer to look back up at him.

“I don’t know. I’ve not tried them yet,” Spencer signed with his fork pressed between his fingers.

“Try mine.” Aaron lifted up his fork with a small amount of his potatoes on it. Spencer reached out to take the fork, but Aaron just bypassed his hand and stretched the fork toward Spencer, making him have to lean up and take the bite instead of just taking the fork. This was one of those times that Spencer really wished that he could make a noise other than a gasp or pants. The ability to hum or make a pleased sound would make things like this go better.


“I really think so. Try yours so I can try a bite.” Aaron nudged Spencer’s hand that was laying on the table right next to where he had set his fork. Spencer picked up the forked and speared a small amount of the potatoes to have Aaron try. He didn’t need to try his first before the man. Spencer started to raise up his hand, and his intentions had to be telegraphed on his face or something before Aaron caught his hand and turned it back towards his face. Spencer opened his mouth, but even when it was evident that Spencer was going to take the bite, Aaron didn’t let go of Spencer’s hand. He didn’t let go until Spencer was pulling the fork out of his mouth.

Spencer really tried to keep the blush off of his face but it was hard, and he really hoped that Aaron just thought it was from Aaron doing what he did. Spencer swallowed the food, barely tasting it before he speared some more and offered it over to Aaron. Aaron caught his hand and guided it up to his face. Spencer wasn’t sure what to make of how Aaron was acting. He had never seen the man around his wife and had never seen him with anyone other than Jessica or Rossi in a personal situation. If it were anyone else, he would call it flirting, but this couldn’t be that could it?

“I think that I should have got those instead. I wouldn’t want anything for dessert.” Aaron let go of Spencer’s hand finally, allowing him to go back to eating on his own. Spencer looked back down at his food and didn’t look up until he was mostly done. The highest his eyes went was up to his wine glass to make sure that he didn’t knock it off. The first time he grabbed it, Spencer was afraid that he was going to give away that something was wrong with the shanking of his hands. It didn’t happen though, Spencer’s hand was steady.

When Aaron refilled his wine glass, Spencer signed a quick thank you and Aaron hummed in acknowledgment. The noise of the restaurant was nice and didn’t make Spencer feel like he had to talk.

Aaron’s finger under his chin, tilting his head up had Spencer near jumping in his seat.

“I’m sorry. I said your name three times. Where were you inside of that expansive brain of yours?”

“Thinking about the history of beef and how it’s prepared and served around the world.” Spencer knew the answers to give to make most people not ask any more questions.

“Really? You research cooking?” The smile on Aaron’s face was soft, and it showed an interest that Spencer was shocked about. “Sometime you’ll have to tell me about it. I was just going to say that I can keep the conversation going right now since I know it’s hard to talk with a fork in your hand. Or we can finish eating in silence.”

Spencer waved for Aaron to start to talk. The smile on Aaron’s face turned from soft to blinding, and Spencer knew that he had made the correct decision.

“I know that I’ve not talked about my family much but that’s mainly because of the Hotchner’s, there is only me and my brother Sean, and now Jack. My father had no siblings, and his parents died before I was born. On my mother’s side of the family, there is an extensive but very distant family. My grandparents didn’t want Mom marrying Father, and I will have to say that in retrospect I think that she would have been better marrying anyone but my father. My father died of a heart attack when I was sixteen and mother cut me off from all family ties just after. Sean and I have never really got along. He lives in New York now, and my last two Christmas cards have been returned to me unopened. Jack has never met Sean other than when he was a baby. He knows that he has an Uncle Sean, but I’ve never lied to him about the fact that we don’t get along. I think it’s why I’ve felt so close to Jessica. Even before Haley and I married, I was jealous of the relationship that she had with Jessica. As time went on, Jessica started to act like that towards me as well.

“After the divorce, I think that I missed my relationship with Jessica more than I missed Haley and it was hard to accept that. I couldn’t see myself pushing her away after Haley died. She had given up her life to go into WitSec to protect Jack. While I wish it had been me, I don’t know if it would have been a good thing.”

“Why weren’t you ever close with Sean?” Spencer asked, pausing in eating to set down his fork so he could talk with Aaron. He understood that this was Aaron trying to level the playing field a little since he was so tight-lipped with his life and Spencer’s had been blasted to an open courtroom.

“I’ll get to that in a moment. When my lawyer asked you what your first impression of me was, you made it seem like we had met before that day that Rossi introduced me.”

“Not met so much but I had seen you on two instances before that day. You and Gideon came to Caltech and gave a recruitment speech and another at Georgetown a few years back. I was on campus when it started after a class I had been taking finished.”

“I’ve given so many of those at both locations. Caltech was Gideon’s favorite place to give the speech, but I like Georgetown and Yale. My Father wanted what he thought was best out of both Sean and me but he didn’t go about it in the best way. Everything was a competition. When Sean went to kindergarten, I was placed in a boarding school. After Father died, Mother allowed me to go back to the local schools. That’s when I met Haley. I hated my boarding school but Jack seems to adore New Haven, and it really is such a good school. I think that I was letting my past color me too much with that. Sean has never actually lived up to his potential, and he knows it, but instead of trying harder, he just gave up. I tried so hard after Father died to make sure that he knew that it didn’t matter what he did as long as he was happy but he spent too much time partying, and it took a lot to even get him into college. He had talked about following Father’s footsteps for a long time, and I tried to push him into it after he had talked about it, but still, he resents me.”

“I’ve heard you mention your father had cancer but he died of a heart attack.”

Aaron didn’t answer at first. He actually looked away from where Spencer was for a few minutes before his lips curled into a grin that wasn’t a good one. It wasn’t sadistic, but there was something dark to it. It wasn’t happy at all.

“I was home on a weekend because my mother had some affair that was happening at the house that she wanted the entire family there for. She had even got me out of school that Monday because of it. I can’t even remember what the function was. I was trying to stay away from everyone. Especially my father. A friend of mine came over to hang out, and it was a good reason to tell my Father where he could shove it. The function was set for the next day, so the backyard was full of hired help cleaning up and getting everything perfect. I had been forced to get a haircut even though I had one the weekend before at the school. Sean was hamming it up and being the perfect son. My friend and I snuck up to my bedroom to get away from it all. I didn’t know what Father was home or I never would have-” Aaron stopped and reached out to fill his wine glass with the last of the bottle of wine. The sommelier came over with a new bottle. Aaron drained his glass and refilled it, consuming it as well.

“You don’t have to tell me anything that you don’t want to.”

“I’ve never told anyone this. Ever. Mother figured it out, and it was why she stopped having anything to do with me really. She blamed me for the death of Father.”

“How could you have caused a heart attack?”

“Father came into my room while my friend was there. Poor Ashley never recovered, and I never saw Ashley again. Father caught us half-naked in bed, and it was what caused his heart attack, with his body being weakened by cancer and the stress of the day, I technically killed my father. It took me a long time to come to grips with it. I was forced by the school to get counseling, and while it wasn’t that great, it did help. I never told the school shrink who I was in bed with, just used Ashley’s name and never anything else. If she guessed, I don’t know, but she never used a gender.”

Spencer knew that Ashley was more used for a female but that it was a male name as well and Spencer was reasonably sure that Aaron had admitted that finding Aaron in bed with a male friend had caused his father to have a heart attack.

“I don’t know what to say to that.”

“I don’t either, and I’ve lived with it for most of my life. I came to terms with it. I didn’t touch another man until college, and I had been on a very long relationship break with Haley. We didn’t go to the same colleges while they were in the same state it still took its toll. Jake and I were good buddies and great stress relief, but there were never deep feelings. When Haley and I got back together, it was easy for him and me to go back to just friends.”

“Sounds like he was just what you needed.” Spencer picked up his fork again and finished eating. Aaron finished off his as well. Spencer drank the wine a little more than he usually would have but he was afraid of Aaron working on finishing off the second bottle on his own.

“I think that we need dessert and we still have plenty time before the curtain call. So do you feel like sharing with me?” The smile on Aaron’s face as he talked wasn’t quite as bright as it had been so Spencer nodded his agreement hoping that the chocolate would help to lift Aaron’s spirits.

The cake when it arrived was huge and a dark almost black brown. It was made with dark chocolate instead of the regular milk chocolate. Spencer’s mouth started to salivate as soon as he saw it set down between them. Two forks were on the plate, one on either side. Aaron picked his up first and speared a bite, but he didn’t raise it up to his mouth. He held it out for Spencer, so Spencer picked up his fork and did the same thing. Spencer closed his eyes as the deep taste of the dark chocolate with just enough sweet from the caramel inside the cake and the pecan topping. The noise that Aaron made was near obscene for being in public, and Spencer was happy that he could not make that kind of sounds because he was sure that he would do it a lot considering how much he loved food.

“I think that sometimes I’m going to pay that price for taking a whole cake of this home and freeze smaller pieces to have when I need a pick me up. That’s almost better than mood lifter drugs.”

Spencer started to laugh, his body shaking at the words that Aaron said. Aaron smiled at him, showing his appreciation for the fact that Spencer was laughing in front of him.

Dinner was finished with Spencer overeating cake because Aaron kept forcing him to eat a bite off of his fork. The rest of the wine was finished off, and Spencer was glad that he and Aaron would be around other people soon because he wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t do something stupid. The waiter dropped off their checks, never even asking if they were paying half each. Spencer looked at the price of the cake, half on his and half on Aaron’s and agreed that it was worth the price paid for it. Spencer actually had the cash for it on him and was shocked to see that Aaron was paying cash as well. A healthy tip on Spencer’s side for the waiter never making Spencer feel stupid as he pointed at the menu to order.

“Ready?” Aaron asked.

Spencer nodded as he slipped his wallet back into the inside pocket of his jacket. He had entirely too much cash on hand to want to risk a pickpocket getting him. Standing, Spencer buttoned his jacket as he watched Aaron do the same thing.

“Then let’s go and see ourselves a play.” Aaron waited for Spencer to step even with him before he stepped away from the table. Spencer almost stopped walking when he felt Aaron’s hand settle on the small of his back. Even through several layers, Spencer thought that he could feel the warmth of his skin. The hostess at the front opened the door for them leading out, and the valet opened the outside door when they neared it. No second glances from either one of them happened, despite Spencer feeling like the entire world had to be looking at them. The theatre was only a block away, but each step felt like a mile.

Spencer forced himself to keep pace with Aaron even though he wanted to step ahead or behind the man. Aaron produced the tickets as they neared the box. His other hand never strayed from Spencer’s back. There was just enough time to find their seats before curtain rise and therefore no time to stop and talk to anyone. They were directed to their seats which were on a balcony. They were alone in it.

“I’ve never seen Follies, you’ll have to tell me if this is a good production,” Aaron said as he leaned close to Spencer. Spencer leaned into him. Silence descended as the play started.

Intermission came too quick for Spencer’s liking. He didn’t want to leave the balcony and go back to the rest of the world.

“Do you need to use the restroom?”

Spencer shook his head. Aaron smiled.

“Good because neither do I.” Aaron turned in his seat to face Spencer more than he had been before. “You’ve never told me your favorite play.”

Spencer shrugged. He really didn’t have a favorite, everything depended on his mood. The stage was dark, but Spencer wanted to people watch. He stood up and moved to the edge of the balcony. There were others that were staying in their seats, not making a mad dash to the bathroom or the bar. Spencer gasped as Aaron’s hand settled onto his arm, his fingers curling over skin to press into the words written there.

“What has you so melancholy, Spencer?” Aaron asked his voice a whisper in Spencer’s ear. He closed the distance between them, pressing his chest to Spencer’s back.

Spencer shook his head.

“Then I’m going to do my best to lift it.” Aaron pressed even closer. Spencer could feel his short breaths on his ear even more. “Just remember it’s been a long time for me.”

There were so many things that Spencer could think of that for Aaron it had been a long time. With their bodies pressed so close together, all he could think about was sex. It had been a much shorter time for Spencer since sex but fuck if his brain didn’t go to sex with Aaron.

“Words! Words! Words!” Aaron said, his voice still just as low as it had been, but Spencer knew those words. He knew what they came before. “I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through; first from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do? Don’t talk of stars burning above; if you’re in love, show me! Tell me no dreams filled with desire. If you’re on fire, show me!”

Spencer was struck still. Aaron’s hand didn’t move from his arm, and his lips stayed right there at his ear. Spencer’s grip on the bar in front of him tightened.

“Did I get it right?” Aaron sounded so hopeful that Spencer could only nod. Aaron made a cheerful sound and wrapped his arms around Spencer’s chest, hugging him tightly. Aaron relaxed the hug but didn’t let go of Spencer. Spencer raised his hands up and laid them on Aaron’s arm. If he wasn’t going to let go, neither was Spencer. Even when the intermission ended and the play started again, they stood like that.

Spencer barely paid attention to the play after that. He stood there with Aaron’s arms around him. Spencer knew that Aaron had only said words to Show Me to try and make Spencer happy. Still, it was damning because it had done what Spencer had tried to stop happening for so long. It wasn’t just feelings he had for the older man anymore. It was love.

It was love, and Spencer was alone in that feeling.

Chapter 12-February 2010

Aaron watched as Spencer and Jack conversed with their hands while sitting on the couch. Jack was curled in Spencer’s lap, and it looked good. They both seemed very happy, and Aaron’s heart fluttered when Jack grabbed Spencer and hugged him. The hesitation from Jack wrapping his arms around Spencer to Spencer wrapping his arms back around Jack to return the hug was shorter than it had ever been.

Meeting Jack, and by extension Aaron, had been just as rewarding for Spencer as it had been for Jack. Spencer had gained confidence in dealing with children that he had never had before.

Spencer pulled out of the hug and looked down the couch at Aaron. Aaron still hadn’t figured out what that emotion was on Spencer’s face when the younger man looked at him. It was one that Aaron had never seen on his face before that night at the play a month before. Aaron knew that standing with his arms wrapped around Spencer for the last half of the play had been a bad idea but for Aaron just being close to another human was worth it. Aaron hadn’t realized how much he missed just having anyone but Jack that he was allowed to touch.

Jessica had been teaching Jack how to help her cook dinner so when Jack had wanted to showcase his talent at cooking he had wanted both his father and Spencer there. So Aaron had invited him a few days before, case willing of course but when Saturday morning dawned, and there was no case it had been a breath of relief for Aaron.

Jack’s ready for bed,” Spencer said, his eyes sparkling as he tried not to laugh at Aaron. His phone was propped on the arm of the couch where it had been all night, used only when Aaron wasn’t looking at him. Aaron picked up the pillow that was on the cushion beside him and threw it at Spencer’s head. Spencer caught the pillow and stuck his tongue out at Aaron. Jack slipped off of Spencer’s lap, taking the pillow from Spencer and throwing it back at his father with a smile on his face.

“That’s it,” Aaron declared as he scooted off the couch. Jack took off running for the steps. Aaron caught him halfway there, scooping Jack up and tossing him over his shoulder. Aaron felt Jack brace a hand on his lower back, holding his little body up as much as he could.

Goodnight, Jack,” Spencer called out as Aaron and Jack disappeared from view.

Aaron pulled on Jack’s legs, pulling him off of his shoulder and holding him in his arms. Jack was smiling, and he looked really happy. He looked like he used to, before everything. There was no darkness, no shadows in his eyes anymore. The nightmares were few and far between, and according to his teachers and psychologist at New Haven, he was excelling there.

Jack was already dressed in bed clothes, that was the deal on them watching a movie after dinner. Jack had tried to bargain for Aaron and Spencer dressing in their bed clothes though. Spencer’s argument that he didn’t want to drive home in his sleep clothes had won him the right to not change out of his clothes and Aaron had only glared at Jack to make sure that the boy knew that he wasn’t going to change. Jack had relented after glaring back at Aaron for five minutes. Spencer had sat down on the couch during the glaring standoff and had barely held in a laugh. When Aaron had looked away from Jack after the boy had given up, Spencer had buried his face in a pillow with his entire body shaking.

“Is Spencer going to be here when I wake up?” Jack asked.

“I don’t think so. Spencer has his own life. It doesn’t revolve around you or me.”

Jack pouted, but when Aaron set him down on the bed, he crawled under the covers with no problem.

“Why can’t he just move in with us like Jessica did?”

Aaron reached up and brushed the hair off of Jack’s forehead.

“I know that you miss him when he’s away Jack but Spencer has his own life. He has a place to live and an apartment.”

“But I love him.”

Aaron covered Jack up, taking the blankets up to his chin as he tried to figure out a way to answer that without breaking Jack’s heart.

“We don’t always get to live with those we love. Remember when you stayed here with Mommy, and I lived in my apartment. I’ll talk to Spencer though about maybe having him come over on a more regular basis. Would you like that?”

Jack nodded before he yawned. Aaron reached over and grabbed the book that he was reading to Jack.

“No book tonight,” Jack said as he yawned again. He closed his eyes and grabbed his teddy bear. Wrapping his arms around the bear and rolling to his side, Jack snuggled down into the bed with his back to his father.

Aaron leaned over and kissed Jack’s forehead. Jack smiled as his body started to relax into sleep. Aaron hadn’t thought that he would last long, but it felt weird to not read to him. Aaron stood up and switched the light from the overhead light to Jack’s nightlight.

Spencer was still seated on the couch with his glass of wine in his hand. He was sipping it and looked like he was deep in thought. Aaron just stood on the bottom step and stared at Spencer. He looked comfortable sitting there on Aaron’s couch.

“Thought about the movie you want to watch?” Aaron asked as he finally made himself known to Spencer. Spencer didn’t jump but just glanced up at Aaron a smile on his face. Aaron had a feeling that Spencer knew that he had been staring.

“Anna and the King”, Spencer signed after he set down his wine glass. The DVD was already sitting out from Aaron’s shelves of movies.

“Anna and the King vs. James Bond…I don’t know.”

“You and your spy movies. It’s a wonder that you didn’t go into that profession instead of law school. Or even after, when you jumped from prosecutors office to the FBI. The BAU does not give a lot for playing a part.”

“Don’t I though? Tough assed boss.”

“That’s only after a few years. Though Rossi did tell me that you had the nickname Hardass Hotch from your Academy days.” Spencer was smiling as Aaron moved toward the DVD player and slipped the DVD that Spencer had set out into it. Aaron grabbed the remote from where he had set it after unloading the Pixar movie they had watched with Jack. Aaron grabbed his glass of wine as he sat down on the couch. Aaron didn’t sit where he had been sitting but where Jack had been sitting, on the middle cushion. Spencer didn’t say anything or react at all, his eyes were on the screen. Aaron grabbed the wine bottle and split what was left between their glasses. There was another bottle of the wine in the fridge, ready for them to drink but Aaron wasn’t sure if he wanted to crack it open. The bottles were not large, Jessica had bought them for them to share after dinner. There were a few bottles in the pantry and Aaron had been a little worried about the amount, but Jessica had told him that they were on a good sale and she didn’t want to have to go back and buy more each week. So there was a cabinet that made it look like they had a problem with drinking.

“I did get that name in the Academy. I’d already been through law school and all of the drama of it. I was a stickler for the rules.”

“Don’t tell me it’s so.” Spencer laughed at Aaron, his body shaking being the only thing that told Aaron that he was laughing because he was hiding his face in his knees. Spencer was smiling when he finally brought his face out of it’s hiding spot. He picked up his wine glass from where he had perch it between his feet to hold it in place so he could talk. There wasn’t a lot left even after Aaron split what was left between the two glasses. Aaron drained his and set the glass down on the coffee table in front of them. He grabbed the empty bottle and stood up to grab another. He popped the cork in the kitchen and got rid of it and the wrapper before moving back to the living room.

Spencer was slightly sprawled out, his feet on the coffee table. His empty glass was on the table right beside Aaron’s. Aaron sat down and grabbed both glasses to fill up before he handed Spencer his and took a drink of his own. Aaron was worried about setting the bottle on the table. He debated which end table to set it on and decided on Spencer’s. Hitting the play button on the remote with the pinky finger, Aaron leaned over Spencer’s body to set the bottle there. Spencer was drinking more than him so having it in Spencer’s reach just made sense.

Aaron heard the intake of breath that Spencer made as he leaned over the younger man. Aaron looked up into Spencer’s face, and he realized that Spencer was a lot closer than Aaron thought that he was. Desire. That was the look in Spencer’s eyes. A desire for Aaron. Aaron released the bottle before leaning in even closer to Spencer. Spencer’s eyes dropped from Aaron’s eyes to his lips just as Spencer licked his lips. Aaron groaned and closed his eyes as he closed the last remaining distance between their mouths. Aaron pressed his lips to Spencer’s feeling the wetness from where the younger man had just licked his lips.

It was a simple press of lips, but to Aaron, it was more than that. Spencer wasn’t trying to get away, he wasn’t trying to shove Aaron away from him. Aaron pulled back, locking his eyes with Spencer as he opened them. Spencer’s eyes were wide with shock but he wasn’t doing anything, good or bad and Aaron was a little worried. Aaron grabbed Spencer’s wine glass and set it down, only looking away from Spencer long enough to set it down without spilling it or just outright dropping it. When he looked back at Spencer, Spencer looked determined.

“Spencer,” Aaron said, trying to start a conversation.

Spencer had other ideas and cupped the sides of Aaron’s face and drew him back into a kiss. Aaron allowed Spencer to do that as he shifted a little on the couch and braced an arm right at Spencer’s hip. When he was settled, Aaron parted his lips and swiped his tongue over Spencer’s lips. There was no noise from Spencer, but he did part his lips and allowed Aaron to push his tongue inside.

At the first touch of tongue to tongue, Aaron moaned. Spencer shivered but didn’t pull out, so Aaron kept on pressing inside. Spencer sucked his tongue inside just a little bit more before he darted his tongue out and licked the roof of Aaron’s mouth. Aaron pressed his hand into Spencer’s side. There was no hesitation on Spencer’s part. He touched Aaron’s stomach. His fingers pulled on Aaron’s shirt, trying to pull him closer. However, Aaron wasn’t sitting the best.

Aaron leaned back and opened his mouth. Spencer let go of where he was still cupping Aaron’s cheek with one hand and covered Aaron’s mouth. Spencer shook his head, so Aaron closed his mouth, pressing a kiss to Spencer’s palm. Aaron lifted up and braced his hand on the back of the couch and pulled Spencer around to where he was lying lengthways down the couch. Aaron didn’t straddle both of his legs but instead just straddled a single leg. Spencer used his hand on Aaron’s shirt to pull Aaron back down to him. There was no hesitation when Aaron pressed his lips back to Spencer’s. He knew that they needed to talk, but he would acquiesce to what Spencer wanted and hold off on it.

It had been years since Aaron had made out on a couch and a lot longer than he had made out with another man on the couch. Spencer was a great kisser, following Aaron’s lead for a while before taking the dominant role in the kiss. It wasn’t long before they were both hard in their pants, but Aaron ignored his own erection. Spencer didn’t seem to care about his own either. Spencer’s hand trailed down Aaron’s shoulder, down his side and settled on his hip, pulling Aaron closer.

Aaron broke their lips apart and kissed down the side of Spencer’s jaw before he nipped at his ear. Spencer laid there panting, his hand gripping Aaron’s hip hard. Aaron pulled back to look down at Spencer, to see his eyes. Spencer’s eyes were dark. Aaron braced himself on a single arm and reached up to brush his thumb up Spencer’s cheekbone. Spencer’s cheeks started to blush under Aaron’s staring, but he didn’t look away.

“Don’t hide from me, Spencer,” Aaron whispered.

Never, Spencer mouthed.

Aaron relaxed his arm and ducked down to kiss Spencer again. Aaron was thankful that he had bought a large couch, it had been back when he slept on it after hard cases and coming home in the middle of the night, but it was big enough for both of them to settle on. Aaron slipped his arm underneath Spencer’s neck and wrapped his hand around his arm, holding him right where Aaron wanted him. Spencer gasped and inhaled sharply as Aaron’s fingers gripped his upper arm. Aaron was worried for a few seconds that he had hurt him, but Spencer’s grip on his hip held Aaron in place, so he didn’t move away.

Time was lost as the two of them kissed on the couch. Aaron didn’t want it to end, but he knew that at some point Spencer needed to go home and Aaron needed to go to bed. He was sure that all of his dreams were going to center around the man underneath of him.

Spencer wrenched his mouth away from Aaron’s, gasping for a breath before he pressed a kiss to the front of Aaron’s chin. Lower and lower he went, scooting down the couch before settling in on holding Aaron’s shirt away from the base of his neck to kiss and suck a hickey there. Spencer grabbed Aaron’s hips with both hands and pulled down on him, pulling Aaron to where they were face to face again.

“I know you don’t want to talk right now, but we will have to talk before you leave because I am not letting you leave without talking to me about this.”

Spencer nodded, his head rolling to the side and looking for his wine glass. Aaron grabbed it and leaned up to where Spencer could push himself up to take a drink. Spencer had a coy look on his face as Aaron tipped the glass down to where he could take a drink. Spencer drained the glass, his Adam’s apple bobbing and making Aaron want to chase it with his lips. When the glass was empty, Aaron set it aside and ducked down to press on Spencer’s Adam’s apple with his tongue before dipping down into the hollow of his throat. Spencer’s hands moved, one to the back of Aaron’s head to hold him in place as Aaron set about marking him. The other landed on Aaron’s ass cheek, gripping it hard before starting to knead the flesh there.

Aaron felt drunk, and it wasn’t from the wine. He knew that they should stop, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to keep hearing Spencer panting and gasping, each sound going right to Aaron’s groin and making him even harder. Aaron shifted from collarbone to the juncture of neck and shoulder, wanting to leave a mark there as well. Spencer’s hand didn’t press into Aaron’s skull but instead moved downward, pressing between his shoulder blades. Aaron stopped moving, thinking, stopped everything for a few seconds as he took in that it was where his worst scar was. He didn’t stop Spencer though. Spencer stayed above his shirt, never once going for the skin. The hand on his ass started to coax him into thrusting into Spencer’s leg, pressing his hard cock into firm flesh.

It was too much and not enough at the same time. Aaron felt like he was going to die as he wrapped his arm back underneath Spencer and grabbed his arm. Spencer made a sound that Aaron had never heard from him before. It was more than a gasp, more than a pant, and if there had been actual sound to it, Aaron would have sworn it was a moan. He wanted to hear it again.

Aaron licked up to where Spencer’s ear was, taking the soft flesh there just under the lobe into his mouth, nipping. Spencer tipped his head to the side to allow Aaron more access as he made the sound again. That sound shouldn’t be erotic as it was. It was something that Aaron was hearing, and he wanted to believe that he was the only one to get it from Spencer, he would never ask because as long as he believed it, it could be the truth. Focused on Spencer’s breathing and the enticing sounds that he was making.

Spencer’s breathing went shallow, and Spencer’s entire body went taut. Aaron slowed the kisses he was laying on Spencer’s neck until he felt hands shoving at him. Spencer was near frantic in pushing at him. Aaron moved back, getting to his knees and looking down at Spencer, worried that he had done something wrong.

Aaron looked down at Spencer, scared because Spencer looked scared.

Spencer had never felt so much from simply making out on a couch. Spencer wanted to blame the wine that Aaron had been plying him with. He knew though that it had only been a matter of time before it happened. The feel of Aaron on top of him, his hand pressed to the soulmark on Spencer’s arm, the feel of their tongues sliding against each other was something that Spencer never wanted to forget. He would take what he could get for the time that he could get it.

After the play, Spencer had tried to wrap his head around why Aaron had stood with him like the entire second half of Follies, but there was nothing other than the miss of touch. Spencer had gone through all of their interactions, at work and outside of work. Aaron touched him a lot, more than he touched anyone else, even Jessica. Mistaking it for anything other than sexual attraction was hard.

Spencer felt Aaron’s body shiver whenever he elicited a sound of any kind from Spencer. There was even the sound that Spencer hated making because it usually made his partners freak out. It was as close to a moan as he could get and it sounded horrific, but Aaron seemed to love it.

There was a sound at the edge of Spencer’s consciousness, and he made his brain focus on it enough to where he could figure out what it was. Then the sound of the creak of the top step filtered into Spencer’s brain. Spencer’s entire body stilled with Aaron pressing kisses down his neck before Spencer started to freak out a little bit. They had not had their discussion about what they were doing much less what Aaron wanted Jack to know.

Spencer started to shove at Aaron to push him up so that when Jack came down the stairs, he would not see them in a sexual positìon without a discussion first. Spencer didn’t want to hurt Jack. He didn’t want the boy to get excited if this was all they were ever going to do. Spencer was sure that how scared he felt was going to be read all over his face and when he looked at Aaron’s face he could tell that he did look scared cause Aaron was looking down at him scared as well. Spencer couldn’t get his hands to move as Aaron sat on his knees on the couch.

Shoving himself up into a sitting position, Spencer looked over the back of the couch just as Jack, clutching a blanket and a stuffed penguin came into view. Aaron looked over and saw Jack there, getting off the couch to walk over and pick Jack up. Spencer tucked his legs into his chest and wrapped his arms around them, watching Aaron murmur to Jack. Spencer knew that he should probably head out. He watched the father and son for a few seconds before he grabbed his wine glass and drained it.

Spencer grabbed Aaron’s wine glass and the new bottle and walked into the kitchen. He found a wine stopper in a drawer and before he could second guess what he was doing, he drained Aaron’s wine as well. Spencer started the water to wash out the glasses, using it cover how fast he was breathing. Spencer had known what Aaron was going to do before the man had even pressed his lips to Spencer’s the first time. He should have turned his head and laughed it off as a slightly inebriated pass by a man who was lonely. It would have been better for their friendship and working relationship in the long run.

Every other time that Spencer had allowed someone to pursue him, he had been lonely. He knew that he jumped into bed to quick with every other person he dated. A lifetime of being alone had made him craved touch, and Spencer satisfied it with sex. He did not want that with Aaron, but the downside was that for once he wasn’t touch starved. Aaron touched him and filled that need, and before now there had never been a sexual side to it from the man.

When the glasses were clean Spencer rinsed them and set them in the drainer at the side of the sink. He dried his hands and just stared out the window of the kitchen. Jack had to have got up because of a nightmare. They didn’t need Spencer there. Spencer turned, but before he could take a step, he felt hands wrapping around his thighs. He looked down to see Jack burying his head in Spencer’s hip. Spencer looked up to see that Aaron was there in the doorway.

“According to Jack, it’s a monster that only two Federal agents can keep away.” Aaron was smiling. The smile was full and fond, and it didn’t diminish when Aaron looked at him.

“I can stay the night and sleep on the couch to make sure the monster doesn’t get in the front door.”

Jack shook his head against Spencer’s clothes after he watched Spencer sign.

“Then what?” Aaron asked. Jack turned to look at his father before he grabbed Spencer’s hand, pulling on him until he could get his father’s hand in his other hand. They didn’t stop moving until they were in front of the couch. Jack let go of Spencer’s hand to push his father down onto the couch, in the middle. Spencer was next, pushing down to where he was tucked into the corner. Jack frowned and waved for his father to scoot down. Aaron moved a little bit, and when Jack frowned, he moved a little more. Jack held out his hand for his father to stop.

Jack turned his head to look at Spencer, and the frown deepened. He looked at Spencer and Aaron several times before Jack reached out with his hand and traced Aaron’s lips.

“Why are your lips puffy?” Jack asked.

Aaron looked away from Jack to look at Spencer, but Spencer didn’t turn to look at him. Instead, he just faced Jack and kept a small eye on Aaron through the corner of his eye. Spencer’s gut churned because he had no clue what Aaron was going to answer. Jack had the worst timing in the world.

“When two people like each other, they show each other how much by kissing.”

Spencer nearly started laughing at the look that Jack was giving Aaron. Spencer knew that teenage years were going to be slightly horrid with Aaron’s own looks turned on him.

“And sometimes when the kissing lasts a long time, lips get a little swollen.”

There was a slightly astonished look on Jack’s face for a few seconds. He looked from Aaron to Spencer to Aaron and back to Spencer before he shrugged and crawled up Spencer’s lap. He signed something, but Spencer couldn’t read his hands. Spencer looked up at Aaron for the man to tell him.

“Jack wants to lay on you and for you to lay your legs over mine.”

Spencer shifted the way that Jack wanted him to and scooted down the couch to where his ass was pressed to Aaron’s thigh, the only way that Spencer was going to be able to lay down and be comfortable on the couch. Aaron scooted down enough to where Spencer’s legs were comfortable. As soon as Spencer was settled, Jack stretched out with his head resting on Spencer’s heart. Spencer raised up his right arm and wrapped it around the boy to help make sure that he didn’t fall down. He could feel Aaron’s eyes on him, but he didn’t look up. This was all too much too fast.

A blanket was spread over the three of them, and it was like a switch was flipped, Jack’s eyes closed and he was breathing even and deep.

“Hey,” Aaron whispered forcing Spencer to finally look up at him. “He’ll be deep enough to where you can slip out from under him in about ten minutes. I can lay down, and he can sleep on me.”

“Do you want me to leave?” Spencer asked after he worked his left hand out from under the blankets.

“Do I want you to? No. Will I be upset if you want to? No. I would be sad if you left all together but I can understand not wanting to have a crick in your neck from sleeping with a child on you all night. You can go as far as the guest room on the second floor or your apartment. This is…a lot.”

Spencer didn’t answer at first. Instead, he just looked down at Jack’s sleeping face. Jack wanted him there, and Spencer found it hard to disappoint the boy if he could not do it. Or his father really. Spencer looked back up at Aaron before he reached out his hand. Aaron reached his out and let Spencer grab it. Spencer kissed the palm of Aaron’s hand before he pressed it to his cheek. Aaron smiled and nodded.

“I think that I am going to shift around a little and lay at an angle. I’m too old for sleeping sitting up.” Aaron moved some, and it only disrupted Spencer and Jack a little before he was laying almost the same way that Spencer was with his legs stretched out onto the coffee table.

Spencer knew that he would be sore for all of the next morning, but this was worth it.

Spencer felt cold, and he couldn’t figure out why. He was just on the edge of waking up all the way but didn’t want to, not even to find out why he was cold. The smell of coffee was drifting around the room, but still, Spencer didn’t want to move at all.

Something warm pressed to his forehead making Spencer crinkle his nose.

“Adorable,” a voice said, and it took a few seconds for Spencer’s half awake brain to realize it was Aaron. Whatever had pressed to Spencer’s forehead pressed to his cheek next. Spencer crinkled his nose again and swatted at whatever it was. His hand was caught, and this time when the thing pressed to his skin, it was to his lips, and he realized that it was lips.

“I’m not adorable,” Spencer said with a frown on his face when Aaron pulled his lips back. Hot breath ghosted over Spencer’s lips, and he could hear Aaron chuckling.

“Jack and I agree that you are when you are trying to fight waking up,” Aaron said.

Spencer was about to answer when he realized that Jack hadn’t really left him just sat up on Spencer’s hips. Jack was shaking with silent laughter, making Spencer have to open his eyes to see the boy. Jack was grinning. Spencer grinned back before he pulled his legs up, giving Jack a rest for his back but not before he tipped the boy forward. Jack caught himself at the last second before his head connected with Spencer’s chest.

“I have coffee ready for you but first a shower. It did me wonders and will help your back not feel like it slept on a couch all night with a monkey on top of you.” Aaron was crouched on the floor at Spencer’s side. He didn’t look like he was going to move anytime soon. Spencer turned his head to look at the man thoroughly. Aaron had a huge smile on his face, and as soon as Spencer locked eyes with him, Aaron leaned over and pressed a full kiss to his lips. Jack bounced on Spencer’s stomach a little, showing his happiness.

“That did not take as long as I thought it would,” Jessica said from somewhere in the living room.

Spencer resisted the urge to push Aaron away again. He remembered the look on Aaron’s face when he had done it the night before and didn’t want to see that look again. Aaron pulled back when he was ready and pressed the last kiss to Spencer’s forehead before he sat all the way up and stood. Jessica was behind him with a bag in her hand. Spencer watched as Jack jumped off of him and took off for her. Aaron held out his hand and helped Spencer up off the couch.

Jack’s fingers were moving as fast as he could move them as he told Jessica all about their night, including puffy lips.

“I see,” Jessica said when Jack finally paused. She looked up at the other two adults in the room with a smile on her face. She set the bag down on the floor before she moved across the room to give Spencer a hug. She leaned in to whisper in Spencer’s ear. “You make him happy, and he deserves happiness.”

Spencer pressed a kiss to her cheek before he was tugged back away from Jessica and into Aaron’s arms.

“He’s mine, not yours,” Aaron said with a laugh. Jessica stuck her tongue out at Aaron before she turned back to grab the bag that she had brought inside with her. She walked across the living room and headed into the kitchen to head downstairs into her part of the house.

Spencer didn’t fight out of Aaron’s hold as Jack followed his aunt into the basement and Aaron wrapped his arms around Spencer’s shoulders, hugging him from behind.

“I have some clothes from my brother here that should fit you. So you aren’t wearing dirty clothes. Afterwards, we can stop by your place, and you can take care of Curiosity before we head out to breakfast.”

“Breakfast?” Spencer asked, holding up his hands so that Aaron could see them.

“Well, Jessica told me that dinner is pretty much out of the question unless we make a dinner here or at a diner or other low-end place.”

Why? Spencer turned around in Aaron’s arms, looking up at the man with a questioning look on his face. Aaron didn’t answer though, he looked towards the kitchen before grinning and back Spencer up until Spencer felt a wall at his back. Aaron took his lips in a kiss that was a lot more desperate than any of the ones that he had given Spencer the night before. Spencer was breathing hard when it ended almost a minute later.

“Today is the fourteenth.”

Spencer nodded. Yesterday had been the thirteenth, so it was a fact that the day after the fourteenth. Aaron chuckled a little before shaking his head.

“Spencer its February fourteenth.”

Spencer crinkled his nose in confusion. He knew what the date was, but it wasn’t until Aaron started to really laugh that Spencer connected the date with the day. Spencer hadn’t been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day in years. It was another day for him.

“So I thought that dinner out would be a little much given how new this all is but dinner and a movie here with Jack sounds like a good plan. Especially since we have work tomorrow.”

Spencer nodded his agreement. Dinner and a movie with Jack sounded like a perfect thing for them. No person needed a first date to be the one on Valentine’s Day.

“Good. Now go shower. I’ll bring your cup of coffee up into the bathroom after you get inside. I’ll start getting Jack wrangled for getting dressed then we can head out.” Aaron ducked down and kissed Spencer again. Aaron let go of Spencer to turn away, but Spencer grabbed his arm. Aaron looked back at him with a questioning look on his face.

“What are we?”

“Friends who are seeing how much more we can sounds good to me. Does it you?”

Spencer nodded. Aaron headed into the kitchen with a smile on his face, and Spencer walked towards the stairs to head up and get that shower. His back was stiff from sleeping like he had the night before but he wouldn’t give it up for the world. Spencer found the bathroom in the hall but stopped because there were only things for Jack in there. Kids shampoo and kids body wash.

“USE MY BATHROOM!” Aaron yelled up the stairs like he had just read Spencer’s mind. Spencer left Jack’s bathroom and meandered toward Aaron’s. He found Aaron’s bedroom just as neat and orderly as his office, his clothes from the night before not visible at all, presumably in the hamper and not thrown in front of or beside like Spencer did half of the time when he was in a rush. Spencer tried not to profile the room at all but instead forced himself into the bathroom.

Spencer shut the door but remembered Aaron’s words about bringing him coffee, and he would have to bring Spencer clothes, so Spencer didn’t lock it. He turned on the water in the shower before he started to strip. Spencer slipped into the shower as quick as he could. Just as he got himself soaked he realized that he didn’t grab a rag or anything to use to wash himself. He turned around in the shower to see if there was anything and there was a purple loofah and Spencer was written on the tag. Spencer smiled at Aaron’s thoughtful gesture. Spencer found Aaron’s shampoo and body wash in the corner.

“Spencer, knock once for no and twice for yes. Is it okay to come in?”

Spencer knocked on the wall twice.

“Okay. So Jack and Jessica are both getting dressed for breakfast out. Jack invited her, and she tried to not come, but I figure that more is merrier in this instance, however, if you don’t want her to come, she won’t be upset. Yes or no to her coming?” Aaron sounded a lot closer, so Spencer figured that he was in the bathroom. The curtain rustled and Spencer turned around to see that Aaron had stuck his hand inside with a cup of coffee in it. Spencer took the cup and drained it before setting it back in Aaron’s hand.

“There are a lot of things that we need to talk about and right now, for me, there is something that I really need to tell you, and I would rather do it with you in the shower and unable to look at me.”

Spencer wondered at what he wanted to talk about as Spencer started to wash his hair. He wasn’t going to be able to use conditioner as Aaron didn’t have any in the shower but that was okay.

“That day that I was an asshole. There were two main reasons that I was an asshole and as I told you that it was all on me. You hadn’t done a thing to deserve how I treated you. I went out drinking, and there I started talking to a man. He was intelligent, he understood me, and it wasn’t until after I went back to his place and we had sex that I realized why I had left with him. He reminded me of you. He smiled like you did and he moved like you and his cheekbones were exactly the same. I got walloped with the clue bus about what I thought about you and hadn’t even realized before then, and then there you were. I mishandled it and believe me as soon as I was alone with Jessica she read me the riot act. I handled it like an only child who had been told that he had to do something he didn’t want to do. I was in the wrong, and you handled it like a champ. If someone had acted like that towards me who had done all that you had done for Jack and for me, I would probably hit them.”

Spencer had never thought that Aaron’s problem with him that day would be anything like what he had just admitted. Spencer had washed his body while Aaron had talked and there was not much else that he could do in the shower. He shut the water off and waited.

“I left the clothes on the counter, and I’ll be downstairs when you are ready. I have another cup for you on the counter as well.”

Spencer knocked on the wall twice, and he heard the door close behind Aaron as he left the bathroom. Spencer smelled like Aaron, and he didn’t want to miss that smell. Spencer stepped out of the shower, grabbing the towel to start drying himself off. He didn’t put his glasses on until he was dressed. The clothes were not his usual style at all, and Spencer didn’t like them. Spencer opened the bathroom door as he picked up the socks that Aaron had laid out for him. One was black and the other a plaid green, Aaron at least was cognizant of the fact that Spencer didn’t wear matching socks. Spencer grabbed the coffee and drained it before he stepped out.

“Oh, you dressed quicker than I thought you would.” Aaron was standing at his dresser after slipping something into his pocket. “Yeah, we need to stop at your place. I don’t like you looking like my brother.”

Spencer nodded his agreement. He would rather get dressed in his own clothes and not wear these ever again.

“Maybe you can pack a bag with some changes of clothes for here. I can put it the guest room. I don’t want to pressure you, but Jack’s going to be pretty insistent about you spending more time here. He’s very happy with us being us, and I know that we need to talk about us. And we will when we are alone again.” Aaron held out his hand, wiggling his fingers. Spencer stepped up to him and took his hand, following Aaron out of the room. They did have a lot to talk about, but it could wait until they had food and more coffee in them.

Chapter 13-February 2010

There was a marked difference between something that some would call a date but that neither of them had actually called it that and an actual date. Aaron was nervous as he parked his car in the ten-minute parking lane outside of Spencer’s apartment building. Aaron shut off his car and grabbed his phone from the cup holder before he got out. A lady was leaving the building as Aaron was stepping up to it. He wasn’t shocked when she pulled the door shut behind her so that he couldn’t catch it and slip inside.

“Ma’am,” Aaron said. The woman just stared at him as she passed and said nothing. Aaron just smiled to himself as he pressed the button for Spencer’s apartment. Spencer had not given Aaron the code to get inside, even though he knew that certain delivery places had the code. Aaron wondered if Spencer didn’t want surprised or if he just hadn’t thought about it. There was a crackle of sound and then a meow from Curiosity over the speaker. It shut off. Aaron leaned in close. “Spencer, it’s me.”

The door clanked as it unlocked and Aaron grabbed it to open the door before the magnetic lock reengaged. Aaron slipped his keys into his pocket as he opened the door to the steps. They were just going out to eat, but Aaron didn’t know where they were going, so he hoped that his jeans weren’t something that was going to get them thrown out. Aaron had changed his outfit seven times before Jack and Jessica had raided his closet and picked his clothes for him, not allowing him to change at all before he left. Jessica had told him that if he stayed at Spencer’s, it was okay and if he and Spencer wanted to come back to Aaron’s it was okay with her as well. She would be more than happy to keep Jack entertained the next morning. Aaron wasn’t sure if her being hopeful of Aaron not coming home was a good thing or not.

Aaron opened the door that led to Spencer’s floor. He walked toward Spencer’s door and was shocked when as he raised his hand up to knock, Spencer opened the door. Spencer smiled at Aaron and waved him into the apartment.

“How do you get Curiosity to meow at the speaker?”

“He hates the sound the intercom makes. I forgot to tell you about that. Everyone texts when they get to the door. He always meows at the intercom.” Spencer moved back toward where the kitchen table was. Aaron saw that he was packing up his messenger back. Aaron remembered that Dave had spilled coffee on Spencer’s bag. Dave had tried to talk Spencer into letting him buy him a new one while they were on the case but Spencer had just checked over the items in the bag before drying it and living with the stain. He must have just finished washing and drying it.

Curiosity jumped onto the back of the couch and meowed at Aaron for attention. Aaron stepped over and picked him up.

“Jack wants Curiosity to come over for a playdate.”

Spencer started to laugh and shook his head as he picked up his tablet and slide it into his bag. Aaron picked up Curiosity and walked to where Spencer was finishing packing his bag. Aaron was about to ask him why he was taking his tablet when he saw Spencer’s phone and wallet stacked on the counter beside the coffee pot where there was a half drunk pot.

“Curiosity would not do good going out in his career on the subway or the train.”

“Why couldn’t you drive?” Aaron asked. He stepped up to the coffee pot and grabbed the wallet and phone there. Aaron watched as Spencer froze a little, his eyes locked onto Aaron’s hand where it was wrapped around Spencer’s phone. Aaron realized that in that instant, he had never seen anyone touch Spencer’s phone. Spencer always had his phone in hand or in his pocket on a case. Even at Aaron’s Spencer’s phone was always near his hand. Spencer watched Aaron as he set down the phone and wallet on the table beside Spencer.

“I’d be too freaked out. Curiosity whined the entire trip home from the shelter where I got him. I don’t think that I could take that.” Spencer relaxed as he realized that Aaron wasn’t doing anything more than moving his wallet and phone closer.

“How do you take him to the vet?” Aaron shifted Curiosity around to where the cat could rub his face all over Aaron’s. Aaron knew that he was scent marking Aaron, reasserting a claim on him after so long away. Aaron focused on the cat as Spencer finished whatever ritual he was doing with his bag. Aaron tried not to act like he was watching Spencer as he put each thing into its pocket before moving onto the next.

“His vet is a block away. I walk him. On a leash.” Spencer finished up with the bag and started towards the door. Aaron debated whether the other man was ready to leave and if he should follow when he saw Spencer hanging up the bag on the coat rack right beside the laptop case. Aaron looked and saw that the phone and wallet were still sitting on the table. He relaxed and started to pet Curiosity. Aaron had been early but being early with Spencer didn’t seem to matter.

“I bet that many love to watch you walk your cat. So where are we going?” Aaron set Curiosity down on a kitchen chair. The cat jumped down from there and took off toward a cat tree in the corner. It hadn’t been in Spencer’s apartment the last time that he had been there. Aaron watched as Curiosity climbed up to the top level of the tree. There was plenty of evidence that the bottom level was the one that Curiosity used as a scratching post.

“Do you want to walk or drive?”

“If the place is in walking distance we can walk.”

“I have two places in mind. One is within walking distance, and the other isn’t. If you want to walk, we can do that.” Spencer grabbed his wallet and slid his phone into his pocket. He looked nervous. Aaron stepped up to him and tilted his chin up. Aaron brushed his lips against Spencer’s very carefully. Spencer smiled at him.

“Don’t be nervous with me.” Aaron cupped Spencer’s cheeks to draw him into a kiss. Spencer placed his hands on Aaron’s chest, not pushing, just touching. When Aaron broke the kiss, Spencer stepped back, so he had room to sign.

“I am not nervous about you, per se. I was more relaxed the day of the play because it wasn’t a date, or we didn’t go into it with the idea that it was. I think it ended up closer to that by the time that he left. Dates change things.”

“And making out on a couch before sleeping on there together doesn’t change things?”

Spencer shrugged. Aaron just shook his head and pressed a kiss to Spencer’s cheek.

“No alcohol with dinner,” Spencer signed as he moved to his bag and grabbed the keys that were hanging on the outside. He turned to Aaron and held his hand out. “I picked where I want to go for dinner, so we are walking.”

Aaron stepped up to him and allowed Spencer to take his hand. Spencer shivered as their hands connected and Aaron remembered Spencer talking about not trusting people enough to shake hands or extend his hand in any fashion. Aaron lifted the hand up and kissed the back of it. Aaron took the meaning of what Spencer was doing. Aaron reached out with his other hand and took Spencer’s other hand into his. He raised it up and kissed the palm of it before using his hold on both hands to pull him close so he could kiss him again.

“I’m ready for whatever you want, Spencer. I’m in your very capable hands.”

Aaron moved his car into the resident parking area right beside Spencer’s car before they headed out. The restaurant that they walked to was very close. Spencer tucked himself into Aaron’s side, Aaron’s arm around him the entire walk there. Aaron saw the place for what it was, a little family-owned restaurant that was usually only visited by locals. No one drove across town to eat there but the business was good, and everyone knew each other. The lady who ran the register kissed both of Spencer’s cheeks before she pushed him into a seat. Spencer was blushing by the time that Aaron got him to lift his head up.

“I am assuming you eat here a lot?”

“I do. I eat here at least once a week. If I go longer, she worries. Then again she worries about the mail carrier for the area. She makes him drink water when he comes in to drop off her mail. She runs the place with her brother and children. She tells me that I need more meat on my bones.”

Spencer leaned back as a waitress set down a glass of water with a small bowl of lime wedges in front of Spencer and a glass of tea in front of Aaron. Aaron looked up at the waitress and realized that he did know her.

“Alana, how are you doing?”

“Perfectly fine, Mr. Hotchner. Still, like tea with dinner?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

Spencer was looking at Aaron with a weird look on his face. It wasn’t jealousy, and it was more than curiosity.

“Alana lived on the street that I live on since she was born. She moved out of her parent’s house while I was at the apartment. I heard that she’s at Georgetown from her parents. Her father and I golfed together for a long time before he had to stop golfing because of a back injury. I’m glad she’s doing well.”

“You react differently to people that you know that you feel…parental or familial to. It’s different than how you act around Jack but close to how you act around Jessica. I was trying to figure out how you knew her. I sometimes forget that you had a long life at the house before the divorce. I’ve never gonna know my neighbors like that.”

“That’s normal for a city like DC especially for an agent who worked as much as you did before getting into the BAU. Now you’ll be lucky to realize that you have new neighbors when they rotate in and out.”

Spencer laughed, not trying to hide the shaking of his shoulder or the silence of it. There was nothing better than the look on Spencer’s face when he was laughing, Aaron decided. The rest of dinner passed much the same way. They already knew a lot about each other and knew each other well, so it wasn’t strange and awkward for them. Spencer didn’t touch his phone to use it to speak to Aaron, and if there were a word that Aaron didn’t know that Spencer used, he would write it out on the pad that Alana had brought so that Spencer could give her his order. It was one of the order pads, and it just stayed on the table.

Dessert was packaged up for them because they both ate too much dinner to want it right then. Aaron carried it because Spencer needed his hands to talk. Aaron spent the walk back to Spencer’s thinking about if he wanted to stay the night or not. Spencer had admitted that he jumped into bed with his other relationships too quick but really was this too quick for them? There was a nice alcove of a store that was closed that Spencer pressed Aaron into an alcove just a short distance from the entry to his apartment building.

Aaron couldn’t help his hands wandering up and under Spencer’s shirt after untucking it from his pants. Aaron pulled Spencer close with his other hand and allowed his other hand to spread out. Spencer gasped and muffled that gasp by covering Aaron’s mouth with his own. Aaron could hear people passing them, and Spencer was in plain sight more than Aaron since Aaron was mostly covered by Spencer’s body. It was something though that Aaron probably never would have done before.

Spencer pushed into him harder, pressing their bodies together. Aaron could feel his hard cock pressing into his hip. Aaron groaned and thrust his own cock into Spencer’s hip. Spencer made the sound that was as close to a moan as he could get and pulled away from Aaron. His eyes were dark with arousal.

“We need to stop if you don’t want to go further Spencer.” Aaron did not want to push Spencer further than he was willing to go. Spencer pressed his lips to Aaron’s again, aligning their bodies. Kissing Spencer was addictive. He didn’t want to stop kissing him.

Come up, Spencer mouthed at Aaron after he finally pulled out of his kiss.

“I bought a bag, to be prepared. If you want to head up, I’ll join you after grabbing it.”

“The code to get up is the first seven digits of Pi. Each resident has a code, and each delivery person who has access has their own code.”

“That’s some security.”

“Eight FBI agents live in the building and at our last count, five CIA. If we trust our own instincts.”

“And the others?”

“We think a few NSA and possibly a British SIS agent who is on a sabbatical from work. We all hold a don’t ask, don’t tell policy as everyone who is vetted to live here does so based on Interpol’s okay.”

“On whose okay?” Aaron asked.

Spencer spelled out the word Interpol.

“I’m actually a little shocked that there is a word for that. I think that I need to brush up on the words that you had printed out for me for working situations. I only got through the D’s before I stopped.”

“Can we not talk about that?”

“Sure. Why don’t we go do what I talked about? You head up, and I’ll get my bag. I’ll call Jessica. She was already prepared to watch Jack all night. I’ll talk to Jack now and tell him goodnight. He knows that I am on a date with you, so me staying the night won’t be a big deal. You’ve stayed at our place. Me staying at your won’t raise any flags.”

Spencer nodded and stepped back to allow Aaron to push off the wall. Aaron took Spencer’s hand and pulled him along until they separated at the door, Spencer heading in and Aaron going around to the parking. Aaron pulled his phone from his pocket and found it blinking with a message. It was from Jessica stating that Jack had fallen asleep early and that she would have him call Aaron in the morning if he wasn’t home. She told him to have a good night and please do not call. Aaron frowned at not being able to at least tell Jack good night, but he understood what Jessica was asking. Jack was a bear to get back to sleep once he had been woken up.

Jessica wanted an easy night, and Aaron couldn’t blame her. She was probably watching a sappy romance in the living room while drinking wine. Aaron would make sure that she had a night like that soon, without Jack. Aaron wondered if Spencer would allow a weekend getaway for the three of them. Either to New York or even home to Spencer’s Vegas.

Aaron took the stairs up after he let himself into the apartment building. He had learned the first fifteen digits of Pi not long after meeting Spencer. He had done it on a dare of sorts during a drinking night with Dave. It had stuck with him. Spencer’s front door wasn’t open, but it was unlocked, and Spencer was still in view of the door when Aaron entered. Spencer looked up at him, and while their ardor had cooled, Aaron could see that he wasn’t second-guessing what they were about to do.

“I feed Curiosity and have already plugged in my phone. I found the spare chargers I have, and you can charge both of your phones. I don’t know if they need to be charged.”

“Come here,” Aaron said as he dropped his bag onto the floor. He toed off his shoes and set them beside Spencer’s. Curiosity was watching Aaron from his perch on his tree. Spencer stepped up to him. “It’s you and me and doing what feels good. You don’t have to be nervous, and you don’t have to hold yourself back. I want to see you. I want to see you enjoying what we do. So why don’t you take down the apartment for the night and when you are ready, join me in the bedroom? I promise I’ll stay out of your drawers. I would prefer to not have a cat interrupt us during sex but if Curiosity has to be allowed in that will be fine.”

Aaron cupped Spencer’s cheeks, holding him like he was precious. He made Spencer look up at him and smiled when he did.

“If all you want to do is cuddle in bed and revisit this in the morning, that’s fine, but I will not be sleeping on this couch. It looks like death warmed over for my back.”

Spencer nodded leaning into Aaron’s hold and pressing their lips together for a quick, chaste kiss. Aaron let go of him and stepped around Spencer to grab his bag and head toward the bathroom. Thankfully, being used to living out of a go bag, Aaron had everything that he needed in it. It wasn’t hard to pull out his bathroom kit and set it inside the bathroom door before he dug around for a pair of sleep pants, in case he needed them. He wasn’t sure how Spencer would want to sleep.

Aaron listened to Spencer moving around. He heard the beeps of the alarm and the sound of the fridge door opening telling Aaron that the genius was putting up their desserts. Aaron thought about how good of a breakfast they would make. Or a late night snack. Aaron unbuttoned his dress shirt and laid it on the back of the chair he dropped his bag onto. He did not strip more than that though. After plugging in both of his phones, Aaron sat down on the bed and waited.

The sound of Curiosity meowing echoed around the apartment in the stillness after Spencer put up the dessert. Aaron tried not to count the seconds that passed until Spencer finally appeared in the doorway of the bedroom. He stepped inside and shut the door as Aaron heard claws on the floor.

“He doesn’t like being shut out of the bedroom?” Aaron asked. He stayed where he was on the bed and waited for Spencer to come to him. Spencer shook his head as he stepped across the room toward Aaron. Spencer didn’t stop moving until he was straddling Aaron’s lap. Spencer stared down at Aaron for several seconds before he kissed him. Aaron settled his hands on Spencer’s hips as he felt Spencer shift on his lap. Aaron groaned as Spencer shifted closer. He settled there for a few seconds before Aaron got curious what he was doing. Aaron watched him finish unbuttoning his shirt before he rolled his shoulders, letting the shirt drop to the floor. Aaron realized that he hadn’t been wearing an undershirt. For a few seconds, Aaron just let his gaze wander over all of the skin that was on display.

Spencer was fitter than Aaron thought that Spencer should be. There was definition all over his stomach and disappearing down into pants. However, it was something on Spencer’s arm that caught Aaron’s attention. Aaron felt Spencer tense as he lifted his hand to trace the words there. Aaron pressed a kiss to the uppermost part of the soulmark. He didn’t pay attention to the words that were there. Instead, he kissed up the skin of Spencer’s arm and onto his neck. Spencer went pliant in Aaron’s arms as Aaron wrapped them around Spencer’s waist to close the last bit of distance between their bodies.

Aaron felt Spencer wiggle his hands between their bodies to work on unbuttoning Aaron’s shirt. Aaron pressed kissed to Spencer’s jaw and neck as he felt the cool air in the room swirl around his now open shirt. Spencer was damned good at unbuttoning shirts. Spencer trailed his fingers up Aaron’s chest before tipping his chin up.

“Just because I am silent does not mean that you have to be as well.”

“I’m sorry, hard to talk with my mouth pressed against your skin.”

Spencer smiled at him before he slid backward off of Aaron’s lap. Aaron watched Spencer as he worked the belt on his pants free before starting to work them off. Aaron stood up and started to strip as well. Stripping each other could come later when they both weren’t as hungry as for this as they were. Aaron could tell that Spencer was a little shy about being naked, his hands shook a little as he pushed his boxer briefs down his legs. Aaron didn’t say a word as he sat down on the bed, crooking his finger to coax Spencer over to him. Spencer stepped closer, but he stopped when Aaron scooted back on the bed more. Spencer took another step, and Aaron scooted back more. Aaron waited, and just seconds later Spencer took two short but fast steps, Aaron pushed himself back a little on the bed, twice in response.

Aaron laughed as he watched Spencer’s shoulder start to shake with barely contained laughter. Spencer raised a leg and rested a knee on the bed. Aaron was watching that knee too close, so he missed Spencer bracing himself before launching up onto the bed. Aaron felt the bed shake and laid down, as his head came to rest on the pillow, Spencer’s face was appearing. Spencer was smiling as he came to rest between Aaron’s spread legs. Aaron crooked his finger again, and Spencer came a little closer, their cocks bumping as Spencer came flush with Aaron’s body.

Spencer’s eyes closed in pleasure, and his lips parted in a gasp. Aaron reached up and pulled him down to kiss him. Spencer wiggled his arms up to brace them on either side of Aaron’s head.

“Do you like foreplay, Spencer?” Aaron asked as he spread his legs a little more, tilting his hips to where Spencer could access him easier. Spencer lifted his head up to where he could see Aaron better. “I promised to stay out of your drawers. So why don’t you get the lube and condoms out before we get any further along.”

Spencer nodded his head in agreement. Aaron leaned up to lick at a nipple as Spencer stretched over him to get to the drawer. He wasn’t shocked that when he looked and saw how orderly the drawer was. Spencer grabbed a bottle of lube that Aaron was shocked how full it was. However, the condoms that were already separated did not shock him at all.

“How do you want to do this?” Aaron wasn’t sure. He knew that not all men like anal sex. Aaron had never had an issue with it, but if Spencer did, Aaron was more than willing to be the one taking it as it were. Or they didn’t even need to have sex like that.

Spencer pushed up to where he was looking down at Aaron while sitting on his heels. Aaron settled his hands on Spencer’s hips as the younger man looked down at him. He pressed his thumbs into the skin of Spencer’s hips, watching Spencer’s mouth drop open. Aaron leaned up and wrapped an arm around Spencer’s waist.

“Do you want to be under me?” Aaron asked. Spencer’s breathing deepened. He nodded. Aaron tightened that arm around Spencer’s waist and flipped Spencer under him. Aaron watched his eyes the entire time. There was no fear, no sudden look of uncertainty, if anything his eyes darkened at the show of strength. Aaron grabbed Spencer’s hands and plastered them on the bed just above Spencer’s head, holding them down there. Spencer didn’t try and pull out of the hold, if anything he pushed up and into it, trying to get to Aaron’s mouth. Aaron thought stayed just far enough away to where he couldn’t.

If anyone could make a gasp needy sounding, it was Spencer. Aaron felt the exhalation of breath on his face, but all he did was grin.

“You aren’t answering me, so I’m just going to keep us like this,” Aaron said as he started to rock their lower bodies together. Every single time that Spencer made a noise of any kind, a deep breathe, a sudden gasp, that breathy little thing that Aaron called a moan, Aaron would rock them together just a little harder. Spencer’s mouth opened up, and his entire body went taut. Aaron hissed as his hands were squeezed in Spencer’s as the genius came.

Spencer laid there panting as Aaron looked down at him, it had been hot as hell, watching Spencer come undone from just that. Aaron let go of his hands and pushed himself up. He made sure that Spencer was aware of what he was doing before he maneuvered himself between Spencer’s legs. Aaron reached up and grabbed the lube, snapping the lid open, watching Spencer’s eyes widen in shock.

Aaron had to pay attention to Spencer’s face more as he teased around Spencer’s hole with his lubed fingers. It was easy to get lost in his expressive eyes and the way his mouth dropped open the first time that Aaron pressed his fingers inside. Spencer started to blush the longer that Aaron stared at him but he didn’t ask him to stop. Aaron pushed his finger into Spencer’s hole as far as he could get. He played more than anything.

Spencer splayed his legs wide giving Aaron plenty of access to him. Aaron grabbed the condom from where Spencer had set it down and opened the package with his teeth. He wanted to be able to get inside of Spencer as soon as the younger man let him. Being prepared was the name of the game. Aaron coated his cock in some of the lube on his fingers after he slipped the condom on. Spencer’s eyes watched him the whole time. There was something in Spencer’s eyes that Aaron wanted to get rid of. It looked almost like fear and Aaron remembered that no one had ever accepted Spencer for how he was.

Aaron grabbed his undershirt from where he had thrown it as he had undressed to make sure something was on hand to wipe his hand on. He cleaned up both of his hands, just to be safe before he leaned over Spencer. The younger man hitched his legs up and around Aaron’s waist, as Aaron guided his cock into Spencer. Spencer was utterly relaxed as Aaron’s cock breached him, there was no hesitation, no tightening of muscles. His body accepted Aaron’s cock with no issue.

Spencer gasped when Aaron was flush with him, and Aaron couldn’t take it, he grabbed Spencer’s knees and pushed his legs up against his chest, allowing Aaron to lean over and kiss him. Aaron had wanted their first time to be gentle, loving, more like making love their fucking but he couldn’t hold himself back. Spencer grabbed hold of Aaron’s head and held him in place as Aaron braced himself so he could thrust inside of him.

Aaron felt Spencer hardening again as their two lower bodies rubbed his cock between them. When Spencer’s hands slipped down, grabbing at Aaron’s back and he jerked his face away from Aaron, Aaron settled to fuck him harder. Spencer pulled him down a little more, to where he could bury his face in Aaron’s neck. Aaron could feel Spencer’s lips moving against his skin, and while he wanted to know what the younger man was saying, he wasn’t going to force the man to repeat it to where he could.

The silence that surrounded them would have upset Aaron years before, but now, it allowed Aaron to hear each little intake of breath from Spencer on every thrust. Aaron stayed silent because he wanted to hear it all. Each wet exhalation against Aaron’s skin was like a brand, it traveled down to Aaron’s cock. Aaron wanted to know Spencer’s reactions to everything. Hear him do his own version of crying out the first time he came inside of Aaron. Watch his face as Aaron fucked him from underneath. Spencer riding him for all he was worth.

It made Aaron wonder what kind of lover’s Spencer’s other boyfriends and girlfriends had been. They had to be selfish or at least uncaring. Aaron wasn’t going to ask though. He didn’t want to bring up the past because as much as the friendship was based on Aaron’s own troubled past, he wanted their future to not look at it so much.

Aaron came first, pressing his lips to Spencer’s shoulder as he did. After a few more thrusts, Aaron felt Spencer’s hands curl on his back, dragging down, at the small of Aaron’s back, his nails bit into Aaron’s skin, and he knew that Spencer was probably drawing blood. Aaron stayed where he was, draped over Spencer.

There were a few seconds where Aaron fought the feeling coming over him, but he didn’t want to, for once. Aaron shifted a little and closed his eyes as he gently pulled out of Spencer. With shaking hands he pulled the condom off and leaned over to drop it into his trash can by his bedside. Aaron laid on his side, looking at Spencer’s face as the young man breathed. Aaron reached up and turned Spencer’s face to him. He placed a kiss there and then Aaron was asleep.

Spencer slipped back into bed after cleaning himself and Aaron up. Aaron was still asleep, and Spencer couldn’t help but smile at Aaron inching closer to Spencer while he was asleep. Aaron’s back was facing away from him, so Spencer couldn’t get a good look at the scars. Spencer knew that some men fell asleep after orgasm, but he had never met one, Spencer found it kind of cute. Rolling to his stomach, Spencer turned his head to watch Aaron sleep.

Aaron woke up slowly it was a testament to how much Aaron trusted him or how tired he was. Spencer brushed a lock of hair off of Aaron’s forehead, and it made the man crinkle his nose. Spencer leaned forward and kissed that nose. Aaron’s eyes opened.

“Sorry. I’ve never been able to stay awake after orgasm unless sex was still going on.”

Spencer mouthed, it’s cute, at Aaron. Aaron’s face relaxed some. Aaron rolled to his side, propping his head up on his hand and looking down at Spencer. With his open hand, Aaron lifted up Spencer’s arm and pressed a kiss to the words there before he read them.

“That’s from My Fair Lady, the song Show Me.”

Spencer nodded.

“That has got to be frustrating. To hear someone say the words and not feel it, the falling in love. It’s a wonder you still even like the show.” Aaron pressed another kiss to the word before he tugged at Spencer to make him roll onto his back. “That’s going to be easier for us to talk.”

Spencer reached up and pulled Aaron’s face down for a kiss. The habit of laying on his hands was going to be one it seemed that Aaron stopped.

“I don’t have a mark. I never did. I wasn’t born with one, and it went away or faded. Sean has a mark, and I don’t.” Aaron reached out and brushed a lock of hair from Spencer’s forehead before he sighed. “Every single Hotchner male has had a soulmark and other than my father, and I really have no clue about Sean, have married them. My father’s soulmate died when he was young. This is back when they did those parties to try and make couples get together. My father was at a party with a group of his friends. He was a freshman at college, and at the party, one of the hired help for the house owner died in the pool. It was too cold out, but it seems that the pool had been uncovered for the light the pool gave off or something. She had been drinking and fell in, unable to get out. My father was inside when his visible mark faded on his skin. It had put a downer on the whole of the party. I didn’t know until much later that she had been shoved into the pool and had told one of the other ladies who was doing the waitressing duties that she had met her soulmate that night. I don’t know if my father killed her or that someone was jealous. Mother was there at the party as a plus one for a friend who loathed to go alone. Mother’s family were social climbers but had the money needed to be one of the families It for the area. If my father or even my mother did it, they took that to the grave.”

Spencer knew why Aaron was telling it to him. Spencer was afraid though of telling Aaron that he was in love. Spencer didn’t want to scare him off, and things were too new for a commitment like the fact that Aaron was Spencer’s soulmate, even if Spencer wasn’t Aaron’s. No matter what happened, Spencer was going to cherish Aaron for as long as he had him.

“Was Sean cherished because he had a mark?” Spencer had heard of families that did that, but he never understood it. Research project after research project had been done on the soulmarks and when they appeared, why, and how but nothing ever came of it. In fact, most left the researchers with more questions. There wasn’t a lot of things known except that the more religious groups claimed their God, Gods, or Goddesses were the ones responsible.

“My father had my DNA tested, to make sure that I was his, that I was a Hotchner. Seven times in fact and the last was when I was fifteen, and he never told my mother about the last, paranoid that she was making the results be falsified. I think that it was a side effect of the chemo for that one.” Aaron leaned over and kissed Spencer. Spencer could feel a storm of emotions in the kiss. Wrapping his arms around Aaron, Spencer pulled him down a little. Spencer could feel the slightly raised skin where his nails had scratched Aaron, but there were harder, deeper scars on Aaron’s back.

Spencer pushed Aaron up and coaxed him onto his back. The scars from Foyet’s attack on Aaron had not started to fade yet. They were still red and angry looking. Spencer touched the top one, and Aaron’s body jerked like he wasn’t to get away. Spencer though just laid his hand down, covering the entire scar with his palm and spread his fingers.

“I don’t…” Aaron trailed off. He looked down, looking at Spencer’s hand and then his eyes darted lower. Aaron rolled onto his side before he sat up. He grabbed his underwear from the floor and walked into Spencer’s bathroom, shutting the door most of the way. Spencer got up off the bed as well and grabbed his sleep pants. He dug to the bottom of the drawer that he kept his sleep clothes in and found the pants that were a size too large for him and hoped that Aaron’s slightly bulkier frame would fit in them. Spencer reached around the wall and set the clothes down on the counter.

“Thank you, Spencer,” Aaron called out.

Spencer dressed in the sleep pants but left a shirt off. Aaron was always very warm to the touch, so Spencer didn’t want to heat up in the night if Aaron slept in the bed. He could always put on a shirt if Aaron didn’t.

Tidying up around the bed, Spencer split up the clothes between his and Aaron’s. Spencer tossed Aaron’s undershirt into the hamper with Spencer’s clothes, it was not going to be able to be worn without cleaning. The bathroom door opened and Aaron was standing there dressed in just his sleep pants. Spencer offered over a T-shirt.

“The one night stand. I told the guy that the scars were off limits. I didn’t want to talk about them. You know, but I wasn’t expecting you to react like you did. I promised Jessica that I wouldn’t hide things from you like I did that day. I should have just asked you to leave that day or told Jack I wasn’t feeling well and went to my room and stayed. I don’t know how to react to my scars, Spencer.”

Spencer sat down on the edge of the bed. “How did Haley react to the ones on your back?”

“She never knew they were there. She wasn’t-” Aaron stopped talking and moved over to the bed. He didn’t sit down beside Spencer but instead walked around it and crawled into the other side, laying down on his back. Spencer turned and sat down at Aaron’s side, his legs crossed. “You are the first one that’s ever grabbed my back during sex. I know you had to feel the scars there. It didn’t bother me until I realized that you would be able to tell the difference between your scratches and the scars there. FOyet’s scars don’t bother me. I worked through them with a therapist. I did a lot of talk with my therapist once I realized the depth of Jack’s psychological trauma. He needed me better, and he needed me to be the best that I could be. It was the first time I had ever been honest with a therapist in my life. The scars on my front are sort of a badge of honor. I didn’t let Foyet destroy my life, and he could have so easily.”

“The scars on your back are not shameful. You survived that too. You didn’t let it break you. You didn’t become a monster because of your father.” Spencer reached out again, laying his hand on Aaron’s heart but Aaron pushed it lower, settling it over the top scar.

“No, I didn’t. I became someone who hunts monsters.”

Spencer touched and traced each of the nine scars that were there. When he reached the bottom-most scar, Spencer looked into Aaron’s eyes as he wrapped his fingers around Aaron’s side, his fingers brushing the start of a scar that wrapped a little around Aaron’s side. Spencer scooted back enough to allow Aaron the room to roll over and pulled as he scooted. Aaron fought Spencer for a few seconds before he gave in and rolled onto his stomach. Spencer got up off the bed, feeling Aaron’s eyes on him as he did. Spencer turned on the lamp on his nightstand as he passed it before turning off the overhead lights. Aaron was more in shadow than anything else so Spencer hoped that Aaron wouldn’t be upset. Spencer climbed back onto the bed and straddled Aaron’s ass. He didn’t ask if it was okay, it was too dark to be able to do that, but he hoped that if Aaron was upset by any part of it, that he would say.

Aaron tensed up a little, but he didn’t say anything. Aaron’s back was crisscrossed with scars, some long and horrid looking while others were thin. Spencer knew from case files what had made them, a belt. Spencer laid his hands on Aaron’s lower back, letting his thumbs rub just on either side of his spine for a few seconds. Aaron inhaled and exhaled but said nothing still. Spencer let his fingers dance around the scars that lined Aaron’s back. Skirting all of them. Aaron relaxed the longer that Spencer did skirt his fingers around the scars until Aaron moved his arms. Spencer watched Aaron curl his arms up and smashed the pillow under his head to where he had it bunched up there. Spencer raked his eyes of Aaron’s shoulders, seeing the definition of his muscles better.

The movement showed Spencer a scar that he hadn’t paid that much attention to. Spencer didn’t touch around it as it was very much a different kind of scar. Spencer didn’t scratch or press hard at all, nothing that would be painful at all. He gave all of his attention to the scars though. Spencer hated that Aaron had been able to hide them from Haley.

It wasn’t something that should not have been able to have been done. Aaron shouldn’t have been able to hide the scars from her. How had Haley never realized that she had never seen her husbands back? Aaron might have not been the best husband, choosing his job over her happiness but it didn’t seem like she tried hard to understand him or to get him really. Spencer would keep his observations to himself. He could see everything through a different light than Aaron.

Spencer lost track of time as he touched and rubbed at each and every single scar. Spencer scooted up at one point, straddling Aaron’s lower back more than his ass. He brushed his thumbs over the edge of the scar that was made by a blade. Aaron was utterly relaxed underneath of him, Spencer could have done anything to him, and Aaron wouldn’t pull away. Spencer could tell the scar was not as old as the others. It was older though.

Aaron was mostly asleep when Spencer leaned over and pressed his lips to the scar. He remembered one of his favorite quotes from Les Misérables. He mouthed those words onto Aaron’s skin.

Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.

Chapter 14-March 2010

Aaron rolled over in bed with a groan. It had been a few weeks since Aaron and Spencer’s first date, and it had been an excellent few weeks. Aaron and Spencer had another date planned for that night, and Aaron hadn’t been able to think about anything but it since Spencer had asked him about it at work the day before. After a horrid case, Applehorn had given the team a three day weekend, and Aaron had been more than willing to call work done at five the day before so he could get home to Jack, who he hadn’t seen since the case had been finished as they hadn’t left until the morning.

While Spencer and Aaron had been on a few dates since that first one, sex had not come up again, mainly due to the fact that neither of them had spent the night with the other between work, Jack, and a very ill-timed case. Aaron had been jerking off near daily, usually in the shower since that night and Aaron was looking forward to not having to do it on his own.

Pushing down the sheet that was covering him, Aaron looked at the tent his cock was making in his pants. He was debating what to do about the erection because while a jerk off session in the shower sounded like a good plan if Aaron didn’t, tonight would be all that much better. Aaron rolled off the bed and padded to the bathroom so that he could shower. Aaron had been too tired the night before, he had been so tired that when Jessica had come up in the middle of the night for a drink of juice, she woke Aaron up from where he had fallen asleep on the couch watching a musical that he had seen on Spencer’s shelves. Jessica had sent him to bed after that with a smirk on her face and a shove.

Aaron stripped out of his clothes and looked at himself in the mirror. He could still make out the fading bruise that Spencer had sucked on his collarbone when they had been making out like teenagers in the backseat of Aaron’s car in the resident parking of Spencer’s building after work one day. Aaron pressed his finger against it and hissed as he pressed too hard, hoping to make it stay. There wasn’t a lot that Aaron could do if Spencer finally met his soulmate but for Aaron, it was worth it because being around the gentle genius was one of the best times of his life.

That night with Spencer touching Aaron in places that no one ever had, that Aaron hadn’t allowed anyone to touch, Aaron had fallen in love. With Spencer straddling his waist and his lips pressed to the scar that Aaron’s father had given with him with a knife when he had fifteen. Aaron had been shocked to realize that Spencer was mouthing words into his skin. Aaron hadn’t even asked what the man had said, not wanting to break the moment. Not long after that moment, Aaron had fallen asleep and the next morning had been too late, even if Aaron had wanted to ask.

Aaron had woke up that next morning with Spencer plastered to his side with his head over Aaron’s heart like he needed to know that his heart was beating. Spencer’s arm had been thrown over Aaron’s chest, and it hadn’t taken much to get the arm turned over to where Aaron could look at the words. He thought about the fact that Spencer wasn’t his, not really. That anyone with the right words could steal Spencer from him. Aaron wanted to rage at how unfair it was, that the one person that seemed to get Aaron better than anyone else in the world wasn’t meant to be his. Aaron would keep him for as long as he could, and he wasn’t sure how he would react when Spencer’s soulmate swept into their lives.

The cold water at the start of the shower helped Aaron’s erection deflate to where Aaron hoped it wouldn’t be an issue the rest of the day. Aaron had plans with Jack in the morning and in the afternoon and most that revolved around finally telling Jack about them. Jessica agreed that it was time to start letting Jack see Aaron and Spencer together and affectionate with each other. Aaron was worried that Jack’s claim on Spencer would upset the boy and make him think that Spencer liked him less. Jessica wasn’t as worried about that but was worried about Jack reading too much into the relationship too fast and pushing both Spencer and Aaron into a stronger relationship before they were ready. That had a lot of merit, there was already a stronger relationship built between them than usual with all the time they had spent together before actually getting together.

Aaron was using a towel on his hair with a towel wrapped around his waist when the bathroom door opened. Aaron grabbed the edge of the towel around his waist to stop it from falling and turned to yell at Jessica when Aaron saw that it was Jack. Jack always knocked. Aaron had the words right in his mouth when he saw that Jack didn’t look good and the boy was headed toward the toilet. Jack leaned over and threw up into the toilet before he dropped to his knees and laid his head on the toilet seat. Aaron realized that Jack had probably been coming in to knock on the door when the urge hit that he needed to puke. Aaron wasn’t going to bring up the coming into the bathroom at all.

Grabbing the sleep pants from the night before, Aaron turned his back to Jack before he stripped off the towel and slipped the pants on. Jack hadn’t been too hyper the night before, but Aaron had chalked it up to Jessica keeping his busy. Aaron sat down behind Jack before picking him and cradling him in his lap. Jack kept on throwing up until he was just dry heaving. Aaron waited for Jack to turn around and curl into him before he stood up, holding Jack to his chest before he set his son down on the counter beside the sink. Aaron turned the faucet on and let it run on the coldest setting for a moment before he filled a glass.

Jack took the glass and took a small amount of the water into his mouth before he leaned over and spit it out. Jack did that several times while Aaron went to find a soft rag that he wet under the running water before he used it to wipe at Jack’s face. After he was sure that no sick was left on Jack’s face, Aaron washed out the rag and wrung it out before lying on the back of Jack’s neck. Jack held up his hands, so Aaron picked him up, holding him by the back of his neck to make sure the rag didn’t fall while he stepped into the bedroom. A quick dart of his hand out and he snagged a shirt from the top of the dresser where had left his T-shirt from the night before in case he had wanted to sleep in it. Jack wasn’t making a sound or moving really so Aaron took it slow, especially on the steps because he didn’t need the boy throwing up because of the up and down of the steps.

In the living room, Aaron laid Jack down on the couch, and the boy curled onto his side. Aaron shifted the rag around to where it wasn’t going to fall off of his neck before he moved to the kitchen. There was a cabinet with cans of ginger ale that was well within Jack’s reach for this reason it also held a box of two packs of crackers so that Jack could grab a few if he had an upset stomach. Aaron grabbed two cans of the pop as well as few packs of the crackers. Aaron looked at the coffee pot but decided against that and instead filled the electric kettle with water and turned it on. He walked into the living room to set the pop and crackers down, ruffling Jack’s hair letting his fingers graze Jack’s forehead, he couldn’t tell if Jack had a fever or not. Aaron tried to remember where the thermometer was.

Aaron prepared the reusable strainer with the tea that he wanted before he set it into his cup. It was one that he drank without sugar, so if Jack wanted a few sips, he could have some. Aaron would just put it into a different cup, to hopefully make it so that he didn’t get sick.

“Good morning, Aaron,” Jessica said as she came up out of her part of the house. She looked around. “Jack not hungry yet?”

“I don’t think he’s going to be hungry for much for a while. He surprised me by running into my bathroom while I was toweling off and puking in my toilet. I’ve got him on the couch right now with a few cans of ginger ale and crackers. I’m just making some tea for me, so the smell of coffee doesn’t make him sicker.”

“Poor boy. I’ll call the school and let them know. They sent home a memo that there was a stomach bug going around the school and to keep any kid home that was suspected to have it, even if there was no fever.”

“Thanks.” Aaron finished with the tea, setting a little ramekin on the small tray he used to carry the tea to the living room. Aaron had a cup for Jack on there in case the boy wanted some and a little pot with more hot water for the second steeping of the leaves. Aaron filled both his cup and the pot with water before picked up the tray. Aaron had a feeling that once he sat down, Jack wasn’t going to allow him up to do anything, so he was ready for an extended stay on the couch.

Aaron set down the tray on the coffee table before he leaned over to pick up Jack. The boy wasn’t asleep, but he didn’t fight his father lifting him up. Aaron sat down and laid Jack back down to where his head was pillowed on Aaron’s thigh, but Jack started to move as soon as he was released. Aaron wasn’t shocked when Jack pulled on his legs trying to get Aaron to pull them up onto the couch. Aaron knew exactly what Jack wanted, so he shifted to where he was laying on his side with his upper body and arm propped on the arm of the couch and his legs stretched down the couch. Jack scrambled into the area behind his knees, and when Jack was settled down, Aaron curled his legs up to make a little nest which Jack settled into with a sigh. Jack rested his head on the side of Aaron’s hip. It was comfortable for the boy, and Aaron hated that one day he would be too big for sleeping there.

Jack’s eyes started to blink after a few seconds before they closed and he stopped moving except for breathing. Jessica came into the living room with one of the lighter blankets from the hall closet and tossed it over Aaron’s legs and Jack.

“Thanks, Jessie.”

“The school said that some of the kids had it for just a single day and others it’s been four or five days so if he’s not up to coming in on Monday that’s fine. They are sending an email with his lessons for the today and Monday just in case you wanted to work over them with him. His visit with the therapist today has been pushed to Tuesday, and his extra sign language lesson on Tuesday is just going to be skipped.” Jessica reached out and brushed the hair back from Jack’s face with a smile. “If you need anything just text. I’m working from your office today. I know you are loathed to get up and disturb him when he’s sick like this.”

Aaron opened his mouth to ask for a package of pop tarts from the cabinet when Jessica held out a pack of them. It wasn’t the best breakfast, but it was easy, and there was no cleanup and no smell to upset Jack’s stomach. Aaron settled down and grabbed his cup of tea, pulling the strainer out and setting it on the ramekin that he had grabbed before leaning back. Aaron smelled the tea and relaxed, the smell of it was helping him relax.

The lure of texting Spencer was high, but Aaron knew that if he did, he would have to tell the younger man that it might be best for them not to go on a date. Aaron had spent time with Jack the night before, and if he was going to share his sickness, there was a small chance that he and Jessica weren’t going to get it.

“Do you want that pile of books that you bought the other day?” Jessica asked.


Aaron watched Jessica move to the bookshelf in the corner and grab the new stack of books that Aaron had bought. Some were authors that Spencer liked and others were new authors that wrote spy novels. Aaron looked at the top two which were the ones that were from Spencer’s favorite current science fiction authors. Spencer liked science fiction just about a much as he loved plays and musicals. Aaron was willing to read a few, he had never got into science fiction as a kid mainly because his interests lie elsewhere but also it was another thing that his father considered a flight of fancy and not for real men who worked real jobs and had a real life. It was one of those things that Aaron had just never used to rebel.

“I mean it, Aaron. If you need anything, please just text.”

“I will. I promise.”

“I set out some of the chicken broth that you froze, and we can make some soup later for all of us. If Jack keeps down some crackers and pop when he wakes up.”

Aaron nodded as he opened up the cover of the first of the science fiction books. Aaron read the summary and decided that it wasn’t what he was in the mood for at the moment. Aaron set aside both of the science fiction books and picked up the top spy novel. He remembered that it had interested him the most that day at the store. Aaron opened the drawer on the end table and found one of the magnetic bookmarks that Jack had talked Jessica into buying for him. The bookmarks had the FBI logo on them.

Seventy-five pages into the book, Aaron heard his phone chime. It was a soft little trill of notes that told Aaron that it was Spencer. Aaron picked up his now cold second cup of tea and took a drink before he grabbed the phone and unlocked it.

What are you up to this morning?

Cuddling with Jack on the couch.

Aaron didn’t set the phone down, but Spencer’s reply message took a lot longer to arrive than it usually did. Aaron had to wake up his phone again to keep the screen lit up.

He’s not in school today?

No, he’s home sick. The school is passing around a stomach bug, and I’m sure that Jessica and I will be getting it.

Poor little guy. So we aren’t going on our date tonight?

Aaron could hear the disappointment in Spencer words, and he hated to cancel on him, but Jack needed him more than Spencer needed a date with him. However, Aaron really wanted to see him in a non-work capacity. Aaron looked down at Jack’s still sleeping face. They could play the day by ear, and if Spencer was willing to risk getting sick, he could come over for a simple dinner and possibly a sleepover.

Give me a few hours to see how Jack is going to be. I don’t want to leave him, but if you don’t mind the risk of getting sick as well, we wouldn’t say no to you coming over for sandwiches for dinner._

There were a few things that Aaron knew that they needed for sandwiches. Jessica had been busy with work all week and Aaron being out of town meant that it was shopping that got dropped off the to-do lists for them. Aaron knew that the closest store would deliver for a fee or he could call and have them get it ready and see if Spencer would stop and grab it all. Aaron could pay him back. Aaron was confident that he had enough cash if Spencer let him pay him back.

Only if Jack is okay with it. I know that sick kids like to have their parents around them. I don’t want to upset him while he is sick.

I’m sure that Jack will be okay with you coming over, Spencer. I’m sure that he’d love to cuddle with you as well as me, especially when I need to get up.

Yes, that’s what I am, a cuddle substitute. When do you think would be a good time for me to come over?

This afternoon by then I should know how Jack is doing and know if he’s even up for visitors.

Aaron felt Jack shift, and he set down the phone, ready to see if Jack was going to get up and take off for the bathroom. However, all he did was curl a little more to where his head was kind of tucked at Aaron’s knee and pull the blanket more around himself. Aaron laid his hand on Jack’s head and rubbed. When Jack woke up from his nap, Aaron would make sure that he ate some crackers and drank something but sleep was the best thing for him at the moment. The phone vibrated on the arm of the couch, so Aaron picked it up and looked at it.

Little hands took the phone from him, and Aaron was shocked that Jack was awake. Aaron wasn’t sure what he was doing so he let the boy do what he wanted. He was typing away on the phone, and before Aaron could grab the phone, Jack hit send. Aaron took the phone from Jack, but all the boy did was cuddle down into his nest. Aaron glared at him a little bit before he read the message that Jack had sent to Spencer.

need you, Spencer, please.

Aaron’s heart broke a little bit. Aaron set his phone down again and picked up Jack, blanket and all before he rotated onto his back and laid Jack on his chest.

“He’ll be over later, Jack. We were just making plans for him to come over after you’ve got some sleep in you and a little bit of drink and food.”

Will he stay the night?

“I don’t know. It depends on how he feels. He’s going to come over later, and we can just see how the night goes. I’m sure that he will stay until you fall asleep.”

Jack nodded and laid his head down again. Aaron shut off the DVD player and instead turned on cartoons for Jack. Aaron knew that Spencer had texted back, but he wanted to wait until Jack was distracted.

Do you want me to come over now, Aaron? Will that make him feel better?

You don’t need to come over now. Wait until he’s feeling a little better. Bring an overnight bag just to be safe. He wants you to stay the night.


The short response was odd from the genius, but Aaron wasn’t going to let his brain read into that. It was probably from him being worried about Jack and going for short instead fighting Aaron on what was best for Jack.

Spencer placed the last of the groceries that Aaron had asked him to pick up. Spencer had insisted on Aaron sending him a list and he would l]pick them out instead of having the store pick up and gather them. Spencer was unsure if he wanted to stay the night. Yes, he had stayed over that one night, but that had been on the couch with Jack right there. Not sleeping in Aaron’s bed with Jack in the room across the hall.

It was the first relationship that Spencer had been in with someone who had a child. While Jack was an easy child, Spencer was still unsure what exactly he wanted Jack to know. Catching his father and Spencer kissing had been one thing but finding them in bed together…Spencer was just unsure. He didn’t like feeling unsure. He didn’t like that feeling at all. So instead, Spencer was obsessing.

Finding things in the store that used to make him feel better when he was sick wasn’t as easy as he thought. Many things were different between the East and West coasts. So Spencer had found as much as he could, as well as more ginger ale.

A chime went off on his phone and Spencer opened it up to find that Jack had got ahold of Aaron’s phone again and was sending texts. Spencer smiled at the misspelled words, but he understood that Jack really wanted him there. That was the other thing that had Spencer freaking out. When this relationship fizzled, Spencer knew that he could continue to work with Aaron and he was confident Aaron could work with him but how was Spencer supposed to break Jack’s heart?

Spencer texted back that he was on his way. He shut the trunk lid as he heard the doors behind him open. Spencer didn’t turn even though he wanted to.

“And he didn’t say a word. He just smiled and nodded when I told him to have a nice day. Did I tell you that he waved at me when I said hello? He was so rude. He couldn’t even muster up the word hello. I hate people like that.” The voice wasn’t that familiar, but Spencer knew that it had to be the lady who worked his register. Spencer turned around to see her and another worker coming out of the store with packs of cigarettes in their hands. The worker looked up at him and stopped dead in her tracks. There wasn’t a thing she could say to cover what she had just said.

“I’m sorry that you found my lack of words rude,” Spencer signed at her even though he knew that she couldn’t understand him.

“Shit. That’s sign language. I’m sorry,” the other co-worker said, and she made a hold motion for him. Spencer cocked his head to the side and took off into the store. The other woman was still just staring at Spencer. About thirty seconds later the second co-worker came back out with a man behind her.

“Hello,” the man said, and Spencer cocked his head to the side because he swore that he knew the man. However, when another man followed him, Spencer knew that man.

“Doctor Reid,” Will LaMontagne said as he stepped up to Spencer and waved at him. “What’s the problem?”

Spencer saw that they were both wearing their shields, so they were on duty. The other detective which Spencer now knew he had seen in the new with JJ’s partner stepped closer.

“What happened?” The detective asked. His fingers were sure and steady, he was well versed in sign language.

Spencer explained in the most agreeable terms that he could, he didn’t want to get the woman in trouble but just to make her understand that not everyone could or would talk. Will’s partner took both workers off to the side, and Will stayed right where he was.

“So what are you doing in this area of town?” Will asked.

Spencer narrowed his eyes at him causing Will to laugh.

“JJ made the comment that you and Hotch were a little too close and she wondered. So I guess now the question becomes, am I allowed to tell JJ that I saw you at Hotch’s favorite store?”

Spencer shrugged.

“JJ and Prentiss are already wondering about the two of you. I would suggest that whatever you two are doing…talk to the team. I’ll keep my silence for now and act shocked when JJ tells me you two are something.”

Spencer nodded. Will looked around Spencer for a few seconds.

“Where is your bag?”

Spencer pointed to the car. He hadn’t even thought about using his phone inside the shop. Will walked to the car and Spencer started to blush when Will turned to smile at him.

“I know a go bag when I see it JJ used to bring hers with her on her weekend trips to see me. So are you staying the night or the weekend?”

Spencer held up a single finger which only caused Will to smile brighter.

“Have a good day, Spencer and a lovely evening.” Will tipped an imaginary hat at him before turning to go back to his partner. Spencer itched to pull out his phone and tell Aaron that he would drop off the groceries but then he had to leave. He had second thoughts about being around Jack while sick and afraid he would catch it. Spencer unlocked his car and slipped into the driver’s seat. He arched up to get his phone from his pocket and stared at it. He didn’t want to break Jack’s heart but going over there and being this thing that he and Aaron were in front of him was going to hurt Jack.

Spencer leaned his head against the steering wheel and breathed. Spencer knew that he needed to stop lying to himself. Spencer knew was the one that was going to get his heart broke. When he and Aaron ended, he would be alone, but Aaron and Jack would have each other, but there was no way that Spencer was going to stop what they were. Spencer would take the time that he was given and enjoy it. He’d love them both wholeheartedly until he was told that he wasn’t allowed to anymore. Spencer would pick himself back up then, dust himself off and show the world that he wasn’t broken. Because he wasn’t going to let love break him.

The drive to Aaron’s was short, and when Spencer pulled into the driveway and parked behind Aaron’s car, he was shocked to see Jessica’s car there as well. He wondered if she was taking a late lunch to check on Jack and Aaron. She was coming out the door as Spencer got out of the car. She smiled at waved at him. In her hand was a box of some kind.

“Aaron, Spencer is here!” Jessica called back into the house, aborting her movement of shutting it. Aaron appeared behind her, and the smile on his face told Spencer that it was all worth it. Every single moment that he had with Aaron, with is soulmate was worth it.

“Spencer,” Aaron greeted. He looked back inside and pointed, so Spencer assumed that Jack wanted to get up and see him, but Aaron was stopping him. Jessica walked past Spencer to her car.

“Have fun.”

Spencer waved in greeting and in goodbye. When he turned back, Aaron Was right there in front of him. Spencer jumped a little, but Aaron reached out and cupped the sides of his face.

“Do I get a better greeting?” Aaron asked as he leaned in just enough to brush their lips together. Spencer darted his eyes around, checking the neighborhood that he could see. “There are three other non-heteronormative relationships in the three-block radius of here, Spencer. Kiss me.”

Spencer did just that, leaning in to give Aaron a kiss. Spencer wrapped his hands around Aaron’s hips and pulled the man in a step further. Aaron hummed into the kiss as their lower bodies brushed. Aaron’s thumbs traced the top of Spencer’s cheekbones.

“I’m going to do that whenever I feel like it, even around Jack today, Spencer. So tell me now if you don’t want to. I don’t believe in hiding affection between myself and my lovers from Jack. My parents hid what little affection they had for each other, and it made me think for a long time that it was wrong. Haley taught me differently.”

Spencer’s heart felt like it was in his throat, so he nodded and brushed his lips over Aaron’s again.

“Good. Now you get your things, and I’ll grab the groceries. Thank you for getting them. Jack’s been clingy, and Jessica was working from home before she got called into actually going into the office. I didn’t want to leave Jack to get food.”

“It’s okay. I didn’t mind doing it.”

“You are too nice.” Aaron stepped back and turned toward the trunk miming for Spencer to pop the lid open on it. Spencer pressed the button on his key fob and watched Aaron get the things from the trunk. Spencer opened the back door and pulled out his messenger bag and his go bag. Spencer was more content now to spend the night, but it still had him on edge a little bit.

Spencer slung his items over his shoulder before picking up the laptop bag. He had some work on it that he needed to get done for some cases Spencer closed in his former unit, and he hoped that cuddling with Jack would allow that. Spencer laughed at Aaron as he slipped the bags all over a single arm before coming up to Spencer and wrapping his free arm around him. Spencer wanted to reach out and mock hit him, but he was afraid that it would upset the man’s delicate balance and break the things in the bags.

Aaron laughed and just pulled Spencer into him tighter. Aaron pulled Spencer up to the door the with him, only relaxing his hold to allow Spencer to step through first. Spencer stepped around the little wall that made up the foyer of the house and saw Jack in a pile of blankets on the couch, he was pouting until he saw Spencer. Jack sat up but stopped when he glanced at his father.

“Once Spencer is done in the kitchen he’ll come sit with you.”

Jack nodded and slid back down to where he was cuddled into his blankets again. He looked tired and just blah to Spencer. Spencer started to go into the kitchen, but Aaron pointed up the stairs.

“Put your things up first.”

Spencer nodded and walked to the stairs. As he neared them, he debated his laptop bag before setting it down on a decorative table that was empty. Spencer found Aaron’s room with ease, seeing the ruffled bed and was a little shocked that it wasn’t made, but he thought about how Aaron had probably been dealing with Jack since whenever Jack had woke him up. There was a chair on the right side of the bed that Spencer set his bag down on before opening it up and grabbing his bathroom kit. When he moved into the bathroom, he stopped. There were items on the right-hand side of the sink that was not Aaron’s. Aaron’s things were on the left instead of spread over both sides. Spencer set his travel kit down to pick up each item. It was all his things. The same things that he used when on a case. Aaron wanted him to see it all, or the shower things would have been in the shower. There was even a contact case and the brand of solution that Spencer used.

In the bedroom, Spencer saw a drawer open in the dresser, and he stepped over to find it empty. Spencer wasn’t going to assume it was for him. He left his go bag where it was but slipped his bathroom kit back in it before he traded his contacts for glasses. They weren’t going to be doing anything that would need him to stay in his contact lenses.

Jack was fully ready for Spencer when Spencer came down the stairs. He had snuck over and grabbed Spencer’s laptop bag and set it down on the coffee table but he didn’t get into it. Jack was reading a book of his own and Spencer watched him read it for a minute before he moved into the kitchen. Aaron had already put up all the groceries and was standing in front of something that Spencer had never seen before.

“Chai or black tea?” Aaron asked without even turning around. Spencer stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around Aaron’s waist, laying his head between Aaron’s shoulder blades. After a moment of resting his head there, Spencer lifted it up and looked over Aaron’s shoulder. He saw the canisters there. Aaron lifted up one and let him smell it. It smelled spicy and perfect. Spencer tapped the canister. “Chai it is. I’m making Jack some ginger tea to help calm his stomach. His fever has broken, so he should start to feel a lot better. Do you mind taking it to him?”

Spencer nodded his head on Aaron’s shoulder. He disengaged himself from Aaron and stepped to the side to grab the cup, but Aaron wrapped an arm around him and pulled him in for a kiss. Spencer pulled Aaron in closer for the kiss, taking a swipe at Aaron’s lips when the man pulled away. Aaron laughed and reached up to brush hair back from Spencer’s forehead.

“Go cuddle with Jack, and I’ll finish up our tea and pick a movie.”

Spencer nodded. He grabbed the tea before pressing a kiss to Aaron’s cheek. Jack was near asleep when Spencer walked into the living room. He was wrapped up in a cocoon, and his eyes kept drooping only to snap open again. Jack sat up all the way when he saw Spencer. Spencer set jack’s mug in reach of him on the end table before just leaning over and picking the boy up. He let most of the blankets fall down so that he could cuddle Jack into his body before he sat down and pulled the heaviest around them. Jack laid his head on Spencer’s chest, and within a minute he was going to sleep.

Jack’s face was utterly relaxed as Spencer started to card his hand through the hair that was growing longer by the day. Spencer watched his sleeping face and knew that he loved the boy as much as he loved Aaron. There was no going back for him.

“You don’t understand how happy that makes me, seeing you with him,” Aaron said from the end of the couch. He had snuck up on Spencer. “And how happy I am that Jack took to you.”

Spencer didn’t want to give up running his hand through Jack’s hair, so he dug out his phone and tapped away at it.

He is a good kid, and you and Haley did wonderfully with him. Any father would be proud to have him as their son.

“You and I both know that father’s don’t always love their children.”

Spencer nodded. He looked down at Jack. “Even if I still can’t understand how fathers or mothers can be cruel to their children.

Aaron set down a cup of tea right beside Jack’s. It looked milky, so Spencer picked it up to take a drink. It tasted wonderful. Spencer made his little breathy moan that he had learned Aaron liked to hear him make. Aaron smiled at him before setting his mug down at the opposite end of the couch. He sat down, lifting Spencer’s legs to let them rest in his lap.

“Do you want to watch a movie or do you want me to read to you?” Aaron asked.

Spencer raised his head up and looked at Aaron, he hadn’t ever had anyone besides his mother read to him like that. Spencer looked at the TV and then back at Aaron. He saw that Aaron had a book sitting on the coffee table right beside where Jack had set Spencer’s laptop bag. There was also a stack of DVDs from the local library. Spencer looked at the book and nodded toward it. Aaron grabbed the book and started to read.

The night started to fall, and Spencer wasn’t asleep but he was pretty out of it, he hadn’t realized that Aaron had stopped reading to him until there was a plate set down on the coffee table. Spencer realized that Aaron had not only stopped reading, but he’d cleaned up the area as well as made dinner. It was just sandwiches, but it was still food. The TV was playing in the background, and it had to have been why Spencer hasn’t realized.

Jack was roused to eat a few crackers with peanut butter and the ginger tea. He wanted to eat on Spencer’s lap, and the adults let him. Just like Spencer’s love of Aaron, it was too soon to tell Aaron that Spencer loved Jack too. Jack fell asleep not long after he finished eating, his fingers tangled in Spencer’s shirt.

“You ready to head up?” Aaron asked as he shut off the TV. Spencer looked at the time and looked at Aaron with a questioning look on his face. Aaron shifted, lifting Spencer’s legs out of his lap to where he could lean over Jack and give Spencer a kiss. Spencer pressed up into it, gasping when Aaron licked into his mouth. “We don’t have to sleep yet.”

Spencer nodded, pressing in for another kiss.

“Can you carry him? I’ll take your phone and grab mine before locking up.”

Spencer handed over his phone, removing his other hand from Jack’s hair. Jack barely moved as Spencer shifted him to where he could carry the boy easily. It was a heady feeling that Jack trusted him that much. Spencer pressed a kissed to Jack’s forehead and mouthed I Love You into his hair.

Settling Jack into the bed, Spencer shut off the main light and left the nightlight on the bed on. Jack didn’t even wake up to beg for a story. Aaron never appeared in the room so Spencer figured that he knew the boy wouldn’t ask for one. Spencer brushed the long locks from Jack’s forehead, wondering why Aaron was letting it get as long as it was. Jack’s hair was usually kept pretty short. Spencer didn’t understand those that could hurt children. He could hunt them, but he would never fully understand why they did what they did. He could never understand why he left his disabled son with a mentally sick woman, even if she was his mom.

Aaron wasn’t in the bedroom when Spencer finally left Jack’s room. Spencer frowned and was about to turn and leave when the door shut. Aaron was on him, pushing him into the wall. Spencer could only submit to the kiss that was stealing his breath. Aaron was hard and hungry, pressed against Spencer. Spencer wrapped his arms around Aaron’s neck, trying to hold onto the ravenous kiss that was consuming him.

Sex before had been the means of the connection between Spencer and his lovers. The relationship was built on it but this relationship, there was so much more than that was the basis. Aaron’s hands worked themselves under Spencer shirt, his hands warm on Spencer’s body. Spencer shivered feeling the hands on him. Aaron’s hands moved down, over Spencer’s cloth covered ass and down to the juncture of thighs and ass before he lifted. Spencer pulled his mouth away from Aaron’s as he lifted his legs, Aaron guiding them around his waist.

Spencer mouthed Aaron’s name into his neck, near chanting it. At no moment in his life had he wanted to be able to speak more than he did at that moment. He wanted Aaron to hear how wrecked he was just from this. From Aaron wanting him as he was and nothing more.

There was no discussion as Aaron pulled Spencer away from the wall and walked them toward the bed. However, instead of turning and pushing Spencer down into the bed, Aaron just sat on it, Spencer in his lap.

“I want you, Spencer. Do you want me?”Aaron asked.

Spencer nodded, his lips dragging up and down Aaron’s neck before he leaned back to look Aaron in the face. Spencer framed Aaron’s face before leaning in and kissing him. Spencer unwrapped his legs and moved to where he was kneeling on Aaron’s lap.

“I want you,”Aaron repeated. Aaron grabbed Spencer’s hips and shuffled him backward until he was standing on his own two feet. Aaron started to strip naked, not getting up off the bed. Spencer watched him, seeing Aaron’s hands shaking. Spencer knew that he was missing something because Aaron was nervous.

It wasn’t until Aaron scooted back on the bed and rolled onto his stomach that Spencer figured it out. Aaron was putting his back on display. He was showing Spencer the one thing he had kept from every other lover he had ever had. Aaron tucked his legs underneath of him, and Spencer figured out the rest. Spencer shivered as he stripped, tossing his undershirt up to where it could be used as a towel. He crawled onto the bed and touched Aaron’s back. Aaron reached under the pillow and handed back the bottle of lube and a condom.

Spencer knew what Aaron wanted but he didn’t want to start like that, he would take Aaron on his hands and knees, but before that he wanted to kiss and watch Aaron’s face. Spencer laid his hand on Aaron’s hip and pushed until Aaron was on his side. Spencer grabbed his thigh that was pressed into the bed and pulled until Aaron was laying under him with his legs spread. Spencer slotted their hard cocks together as he leaned up to kiss Aaron.

While they were kissing, Spencer coated two fingers with lube before capping the bottle and setting it and the condom down on the side of the bed. Spencer braced himself up on a single arm and slipped the other down to where he could tease at Aaron’s opening.

“I want…” Aaron stopped as Spencer breached his hole with his finger. Spencer gently eased out before pushing in just a little more. Aaron gasped as Spencer barely brushed his prostate. “I want you.”

Spencer mouthed ‘You’ll get me’ at Aaron, but the man wasn’t looking at Spencer. He was looking at the ceiling above. Spencer pulled out and pressed back in with two. He brushed Aaron’s prostate a little harder, feeling Aaron jerk and moan. Spencer grabbed the undershirt with his hand wiping his fingers off before he kissed Aaron Aaron, stroking their cocks together. Aaron’s legs squeezed at Spencer’s sides, trapping Spencer where he wanted him. Aaron grabbed Spencer’s arms, to have something to hold onto Spencer figured.

Several minutes they were like that, bodies rocking together, mouths pressed together, tongues tangling until Spencer couldn’t take it any longer. Spencer pulled back, looking at Aaron as he stared at Spencer. Aaron looked wrecked but so good, with kiss swollen lips and his body flushed with arousal. Spencer wanted to take him like this, so he could see his face, see his eyes and know every single emotion that came across his face. He knew though that Aaron testing himself and Spencer wasn’t going to deny him what he wanted.

Aaron rolled over on his own, getting to hands and knees. Spencer leaned over him and grabbed the condom and lube again. He opened the condom and slipped it on before squirting lube into his hand. Spencer was careful as he coated his condom encased cock, he wanted it to be coated, but he didn’t want to make himself go off before he got to be inside of Aaron.

Pressing inside of Aaron, Spencer closed his eyes because it too tight and too hot and it made Spencer want to come right then. Slowly, Spencer got himself all the way inside of his lover, laying his head down between Aaron’s shoulder blades. Spencer just breathed into Aaron’s skin until he was sure that he wouldn’t come before he wanted. It was hard, that first thrust. If he could, Spencer would just stay like that, inside of Aaron forever.

The only thing that Spencer focused on was the feel of Aaron wrapped around his cock and the way that Aaron thrust back into him each time, the rhythm was perfect, and it was heaven. However Aaron got louder and louder, Spencer worried about waking up Jack. Spencer had never had sex with a kid in the house before. Aaron didn’t try and muffle himself though so Spencer didn’t either.

Spencer felt himself getting closer and closer to orgasm, he shifted to where he was draped over Aaron’s back and reached around to stroke Aaron’s cock, but at the first brush of his fingers over Aaron’s shaft, Aaron came with near shout. Spencer felt Aaron’s muscles clench around him and it made him come as well. Spencer’s eyes started to close, but as they did, he saw something that he hadn’t noticed before. Just under the heavy scar with the blade, there was something else. It looked like thin scars. Spencer pushed his cock inside of Aaron as far as he could.

Aaron started to fall down, his legs giving out and Spencer was barely able to make sure that he wasn’t crushing the man as he started to fall asleep. Spencer was gentle as he pulled out of Aaron and dealt with the condom before he pushed Aaron onto his side and out of the wet spot.

Spencer washed up himself before he got a rag and a hand towel to clean up Aaron. Spencer was gentle as he washed his lover. Aaron was utterly pliant and relaxed even as Spencer rolled him to get everywhere and to change the sheets on the bed. Aaron didn’t react at all. Spencer laid on his side, with Aaron on his front, and traced the scars on his back. Spencer didn’t know why he liked to do it, to soothe the emotional scars left by physical scars.

Aaron was sleeping deeper than he had the time before and Spencer was getting a little bored with just laying there so he sat up and as he did, he remembered the scar on the top of Aaron’s back. Spencer moved to straddle Aaron’s lower back to that he could look at the scar at the best angle.

Spencer had kept his glasses on, and he was kind of happy that he had as he took in the words that were there on Aaron’s back. A soulmark.

Aaron had a soulmark, and his father had tried to destroy it.

Spencer looked for where Aaron had set his phone, and it was at the bedside that was definitely not Aaron’s. Spencer searched for the camera function and leaned in to take a picture, but the phone wouldn’t get it well enough. The pixel ratio was too small. Spencer looked around the room. Aaron was a parent that meant that he had to have a camera somewhere. Spencer spotted it on the top of the dresser. He slowly crept off of Aaron and made his way to grab the camera. Spencer saw that there was a battery pack for it on the dresser as well, so Spencer loaded it before making his way back to Aaron. Spencer straddled Aaron this time a little higher so that he could get a perfect angle for the picture. The flash of the camera brightened up the room, and Spencer felt Aaron shift.

“Spencer? Are you taking pictures of us naked?” Aaron asked.

Spencer felt his stomach drop to the floor as he took in the words on Aaron’s back.

Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.

Spencer knew precisely when he had mouthed those words on Aaron’s skin, but for them to be the words that made Aaron fall in love with Spencer, Aaron had to have been awake to feel Spencer mouth them onto his skin.

There was no telling how Aaron was going to take this. One would hope well but his whole world was going to change with this and change was not always taken well. Spencer slid off of Aaron and watched Aaron as he rolled over to look at Spencer.

Spencer handed over the camera. He watched the look on Aaron’s face as the man took in the picture. There was nothing there. No reaction. Spencer felt his gut start to churn.


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