Title: This Gift
Series: A Universe of Meetings
Ratings: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid
Tags: Alternate Universe
Summary: Aaron had a lot of gifts for his partner, Spencer, that year but only one of them made him nervous.
Notes: Some of the lines from the song are used as dialogue in the story.
Aaron Hotchner sighed as he settled down onto the couch. He looked at the Christmas tree that he hadn’t put up for years, not since Haley had left him after she had found out that he couldn’t give her a kid. Aaron wanted to adopt, but she had not wanted to. She wanted a child from her womb. Before Aaron could even bring up donor sperm, she had left him. Sent him divorce papers and was gone.
The last Aaron knew she had married some rich man in Georgia.
At the time, it had been the worst thing in Aaron’s life. He had spiraled, drinking, and nearly lost his job as the head District Attorney for DC. Aaron had not lost his job though and had gone through several programs to sober up, at the same time. It was during one of those programs where he was volunteering that he met Spencer. Aaron had just become friends with him, and it wasn’t until he was sober for a year that Aaron had even asked him out.
Spencer Reid had saved Aaron’s life on the day that he met him. Aaron had been near failing at sobering up until meeting him. Spencer had smiled at Aaron and Aaron was lost. There were rules, and Aaron understood why those rules were in place about relationships and starting them while in the programs. So Aaron had straightened himself out so that he could be worthy of being Spencer’s friend.
There had been little to actually do to attract the young man as Spencer had been very happy to get Aaron’s request for a date. Aaron had been relieved when Spencer agreed to the date. Aaron had been out of that game for a very long time. Spencer had been receptive to Aaron’s advances, and one date became two became three became countless ones. In fact, Spencer had he had been dating for three years.
In those three years, Aaron had learned what real love was. He had learned what it was like to love and be loved in return. He learned that love was selfless and no demands were made of him that the other person wasn’t willing to do themselves. He learned what it was like to just be in love and loved in return.
When Spencer was in town, he stayed the night with Aaron instead of his own apartment and that had made Aaron want to get a house. The house had been bought for a year, and Spencer had officially moved in with him as soon as he broke his lease on his apartment. Aaron was glad of it, but he was also lonely when Spencer wasn’t there, which was more often than not.
Aaron’s job was demanding as a lawyer, and he understood Spencer’s job, but he could see where there were those who did not want to be in a relationship with a federal agent.
Spencer had been working with the White Collar Crimes Unit when Aaron had met him, and he was mostly home for long stretches, but it was after he had taken a job opening in the BAU that Aaron stopped getting to see him all the time. The job was important to Spencer had Aaron knew that he had been working toward it for a long time before Aaron had met him.
Aaron’s own job that he had strived for years for was the job that he had. That was why he did not fault Spencer at all for going after what he wanted. The work that the BAU did was very important. Aaron had worked with the BAU twice in his years, mainly dealing with a man who was no longer on the Unit, Jason Gideon. Spencer’s own idea of Gideon and what everyone else saw were two different things. At first, Aaron had been worried that the way that Spencer looked at him meant that he looked Gideon with rose-colored glasses, but as Aaron heard him talk about the man who had been long gone from the Unit before he had joined, Aaron realized that Spencer chose to ignore the bad things when talking about Gideon, but that knew how fractured the man was when he left the BAU.
This was the first Christmas that Aaron had not spent in Vegas since he had started the relationship with Spencer. Spencer usually went to Vegas to spend Christmas with his mother but this year Spencer had not, and it wasn’t because of the case that he was working at the moment. No, he had gone out the week before to see her. Aaron had asked about why Spencer had done that, but Spencer had just said that he wanted something different for a Christmas for a change.
Aaron had gone out while Spencer was in Vegas to buy everything needed to at least make the inside look a little festive. It wasn’t like Christmas had thrown up in the house, but it was very wintery looking. Aaron knew that the meaning of Christmas, cobbled together from many religions and festivities of the time was what Spencer chose to follow instead of the commercial holiday that it had become. While some of Spencer’s gifts for Christmas, and even Aaron’s birthday, were pricey, the price was not the point. The point was that Spencer found a gift that meant something to Aaron or to Spencer to give to Aaron. Their first Christmas together, Aaron had found a set of rare books in good condition that he knew Spencer had been looking for while Spencer’s gift to Aaron was the trip to Vegas and then California.
Spencer had shown Aaron the places that had made him the man he was, good and bad. While the price tag on the whole of the trip had been up there, it had not been the point. Aaron had learned why Spencer wanted to be in the BAU as well as why he was the way that was. Aaron had seen the man who loved his mother dearly and hated his father just as much. He saw the boy who had been thrust into situations that were above his age and shouldn’t have happened, like being tied to a goal post after being stripped naked, only to figure out that his mother had not missed him. Aaron could narrow the point in which Spencer had stopped being a child at all to that point. He had worked his ass off after that to get into college where he could easily take control of his life.
Aaron had fallen in love with Spencer that trip but then Aaron was very fast on the falling in love. He hadn’t said the words for a long time after that and Spencer had been the first one to say them, on the anniversary of their first date. Spencer had set up an unforgettable dinner in the kitchen of Aaron’s apartment when Aaron got home from work.
It was one of the things that Aaron loved about Spencer, he might not be there all the time, but when he was there, he was there one hundred percent of the time. Aaron never felt like work was taking away from them when Aaron had him.
The chime from Aaron’s phone pulled him out of his musings. He looked down at it. It was Spencer telling him that the case was still not wrapped out. It was the twenty-third, and there was still time. The team was only in Georgia so even if they wrapped on Christmas Eve or Day, the team could come home for the holiday and get as much as they could with their family. Aaron looked at the tree again before he stood up and blew out the candles that he had lit all over the room. It and the Christmas tree had been the only light in the room, and it had been beautiful. There were still two days before they could not celebrate Christmas on Christmas together, but as long as Spencer actually came home, it wouldn’t matter.
Aaron woke up to the smell of coffee, and he knew that he had not made any, so that meant that Spencer was home. Aaron forced his eyes open and looked at the tree. He had not lit any of the candles like he had been doing when the sun had set but instead had just turned on the tree lights. The candles were lit though, and there were two steaming mugs of coffee on the coffee table, just far enough away from Aarons legs to where he wouldn’t knock them over if he woke up weird. It was Christmas Day, and it seemed that Spencer had just made it home in time.
Starting to sit up all the way, Aaron realized that Spencer was not in the kitchen like Aaron thought but instead laying on the couch with his head in Aaron’s lap. Aaron’s hand was buried in his hair like it usually was when they were sitting like they were. Aaron tightened his hand and waited to see what Spencer was going to do.
“Our pilot is the one that made the decision to come home. We were okay waiting until morning, but he really wanted to be home as his wife is pregnant with their first kid. I wanted to be here, but I didn’t think that the others would want to fly home that late in the day.”
“You have got to be worn out. You’ve been going since before you left Vegas. I know that Morgan didn’t pull you in until he really thought that he couldn’t do the case without you. I know that you were giving help while seeing your mom though.”
“Yes, I was. As much as I could over the phone. It was just a hell of a case. Though it wasn’t the worst case, this team has done in Georgia.”
“Yes, I heard about the case that happened a few years back after the SuperBowl. It sucked that the agent lost her life.”
“I never meet Greenaway, but yes, it was sad.” Spencer rolled onto his back and looked up at Aaron. He was smiling. “Just as we started to land a storm blew in. The pilot was glad that we landed when we did. It’s white outside.”
“Really?” Aaron asked. He let go fo Spencer’s hair as the younger man started to sit up. Aaron looked toward the window before Spencer pulled him up off the couch. Aaron didn’t let of Spencer’s hand but instead pulled him in for them to walk to the window together. The whole area was covered in a blanket of snow. Aaron wrapped his arms around Spencer ad settled the younger man in front of him. Spencer was wearing thick layers to combat the cold. He had never quite got used to DC winters.
“It’s kind of beautiful,” Spencer said as he reached out and touched the glass. HIs fingers skimming down until he tugged them back in and buried them into the thick sweater.
“It really is. One of these winters I’m going to do it. Going to force you to come to go with me to a cabin in the middle of snow ridden mountains and we are going to stay there until you beg to leave.”
“That won’t be long,” Spencer said. Aaron could just make out the reflection in the glass of Spencer smiling at him. It was an old fight between the two of them. Spencer denying that he would like it and Aaron pestering him about it. Aaron just loved the idea of cuddling and even making love in front of the fire on a rug that was warmed from the flames. It would be good for them to just get away. Give Spencer time to decompress in a way that would be away from everything.
“I think I could find ways to distract you,” Aaron whispered in Spencer’s ear. “You lit the candles.”
“I could tell you had been. I kind of figured that it was a theme.” Spencer burrowed back into Aaron just a little bit more. Aaron looked around for the blanket that Spencer liked to cuddle under, and he found it. It was just too far away for him to grab and wrap around Spencer without fully letting him go. Aaron frowned because he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to stay wrapped around his lover for the entire night. Spencer didn’t move away or get restless like he normally did when they were like they were. Spencer liked to move. Spencer liked to talk but there was just something about the night it seemed that kept him still, that kept him quiet.
Aaron wasn’t sure how long they stood there, the night was dark, the street lights not penetrating even the side yard that much. Aaron was enjoying watching the snow fall.
“Why don’t you get dressed in warm clothes and we go out onto the back porch and turn on the warmers and cuddle?” Aaron asked.
“Only if you bring the big blanket and you start getting it warm while I am changing.” Spencer turned in Aaron’s arms and kissed his cheek before turning to go upstairs.
Aaron followed the sound of Spencer going up the stairs and then moving across the bedroom to their walk-in closet. Aaron started outside because if he didn’t get it at least a little warm, Spencer was never going to go outside. The porch was screened off but not sealed. The screens stopped bugs from getting in but allowed a good amount of air flow. There were two self-contained electronic torches that Aaron had bought for just this reason so that they could sit outside and enjoy the cold weather. The porch had been the first bit of renovations Aaron had done to the house. There had been a few other rooms that he had updated but not too much. The kitchen had been a major project that Aaron was pulled screaming and kicking into the then and now. It had been severely dated. Aaron spotted the drawer that he had stashed Spencer’s Christmas present in, and he opened it so he could take it out. He hid it under the pillow on the lounger.
Spencer came back downstairs before Aaron could get his thick socks on to help keep his feet warm while they were outside. There was a stack of blankets near the door just for that reason. Spencer dug through them and found the two that he liked the best. The first was one that was going to be laid down on the lounger and the second was going to go on top of them. Aaron took the first from Spencer to get it settled down on the lounger before Spencer even got outside.
A few minutes later and Aaron had his arms full of Spencer as they watched the snow fall down. The wind was slow and steady, keeping the air fresh around them but not making their faces freeze.
“Merry Christmas,” Aaron said as he pressed his face into Spencer’s neck.
“Merry Christmas,” Spencer said, and he turned his head to where he could press it into Aaron’s head. “There is no place in the world I would rather be.”
“Yeah?” Aaron asked.
“Yes. As a kid, I would try and think about what other families did for Christmas. After Father left, Mom only celebrated Christmas if she remembered that it was. One year when I was at Caltech, she threw me out. She didn’t know me, so I went back to campus and stayed there. The staff was nice to me and one of the other kids that I was kind of friends with who had started college a year early brought me back leftovers from their Christmas meal. I never thought I was missing out after so many of my fellow students complained about things that happened while they were on break. Yes, I wasn’t with mom, but it sounded like that much family all together made them all act like idiots. Still, the waking up with presents under the tree and the thought of the fact that for a while those kids had believed in Santa made me start to understand why parents like to hold onto that dream of Christmas. I know that I’ve done the research into how Christmas has formed into what it is.”
Aaron smiled against Spencer’s neck. He had heard the talk about Christmas before just not Spencer’s Christmas’s at Caltech. It was nice to hear that. Spencer kept on talking about his other holidays at Caltech. The night was getting darker as the clouds blocked the moon and what little light was coming from it. Aaron heard the soft chime of the clock in the kitchen that said it was now the next hour. Aaron pulled his head from Spencer’s neck and looked at it. It was just now eleven.
“What?” Spencer asked.
“It’s eleven, and we haven’t exchanged presents yet.” Aaron reached back behind himself and found the present under the pillow.
“I don’t want to get up,” Spencer said, and he sounded like he was pouting. Aaron laughed and squeezed his arms around Spencer tightly. He shook his head and just kept on smiling. “But if you really want to do presents right now, let’s do it now since I’m thirsty.”
Spencer wrapped the upper blanket around himself as he got up and slipped into the living room. He made his way right to the kitchen which opened up right into the living room area that let out onto the back porch. Aaron was smiling as he got up, the chill of the air almost taking his breath away as Spencer took his warmth with him. Aaron followed behind as quickly as he could, keeping the present hidden. Spencer walked into the living room and picked up the single present that was under the tree. He held it out to Aaron. Aaron took it with a smile and sat down to open it. He tucked his gift under his leg as Spencer settled across from Aaron on the coffee table, blanket still wrapped tightly around his body. Aaron checked the wrapping job. It was one of Spencer’s with way too much attention to how the wrapping looked. Aaron usually felt bad about ripping such a pretty outer covering, but he really wanted to know what Spencer had got him. The package was pretty small.
Aaron stopped as he ripped the first part and looked at Spencer. He looked very nervous, and Aaron could never remember him looking that way before. Aaron frowned and looked back down at the present. Spencer’s leg started to bounce more as Aaron delayed so Aaron got into the wrapping as quick as he could The size of the box was long and thin as well as wide but it was heavy. As Aaron dropped the wrapper, Spencer’s whole body stilled. The box was flimsy, so Aaron was careful as he lifted the lid. He looked up at Spencer as he took in the papers that were inside. It was papers. Paperwork that Aaron recognized as official files. The words drifted over his mind as he looked at the page. There were three names on there, Spencer’s and a name that Aaron did not recognize as well as Aaron’s. It was adoption paperwork.
“Do you remember a month ago I worked the case with the pregnant lady who had been the victim of an UnSub? SHe gave birth, but with the damage that the UnSub did to her mind, she’s very damaged. She wants to keep the baby, most of the time but there are moments where it’s all too much. He damaged her, and the doctors are fairly certain that she’ll never recover all the way. Her doctors reached out to me. She wanted me to be the one to adopt the little girl if I could.”
“I had been talking to her while trying to get as much information about the UnSub as I could get. I talked to her about my partner and how he had lost his wife. I talked to her about how much even now you want a kid, but you haven’t even looked into adoption because you are afraid of the hurt of not getting approved. I guess she remembered a lot of it. If you agree to this, we would be jointly adopting her in the next month. I couldn’t get through the red tape of across state private adoptions to have her here today, though I think that was good as a baby showing up on our porch when I wasn’t here wouldn’t go well at all.”
“You got us a child? A baby?”
“Under the adoption papers are the resumes for live-in nannies and the like. We have the guest room that no one ever uses side our room. If Morgan or even JJ stay over they stay in the other.”
“This is true. The month would be good to get it all ready.”
Aaron was shocked as he thought that Spencer didn’t want kids. He had never said anything about it when Aaron had talked about what he had Haley had wanted, hell what he wanted. It seemed that Spencer had been waiting on something from Aaron to say that they wanted a kid with Spencer instead of just a kid in general. Though starting out with a baby with Spencer gone as much as he was, Aaron was glad about the nanny thing. They would need her.
Reaching under his leg, Aaron pulled out his present. Aaron slipped off the couch and got on one knee in front of Spencer with a grin on his face.
“Then maybe we should give our daughter a stable home life, well as stable as we will ever be with your job. Spencer Tristan Reid, will you marry me?” Aaron opened the ring box, and inside was four purple Tungsten rings. They were slimmer than most men’s rings, but Aaron knew that Spencer would not want a bulky one. When Aaron had seen the rings online, he had ordered them. They were almost like puzzle pieces that fit together. They would combine into one slightly thicker ring after the wedding. But either could be worn alone.
“Yes,” Spencer said had he picked up the ring that was for Aaron and slipped it onto his finger before Aaron could do the same to him. Spencer kissed the hell out of Aaron while Aaron finally slipped Spencer’s ring onto his finger.
A wedding and a kid all at the same time. Aaron was quite happy with what his life was shaping up to be.