Title: December 25th: The Chimney Song
Series: A Universe of Meetings
Ratings: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner
Tags: Alternate Universe, ProfilersForChristmas2018
Summary: Aaron had never paid attention to the Christmas songs that were playing over the speakers in shops. Until one fateful day.
Aaron was smiling at Jack who was sitting down in the cart while the basket was full of the items that Aaron needed for Christmas dinner, including the ham. It was a little tight, but Jack had the eggs down with him and with his leg in a cast and his leg hurting, Aaron didn’t want him walking on it. He had been on it all day long, and he would rather stuff everything into the basket than to hear Jack whining because he was in pain. Jack had been really good throughout his entire ordeal after falling down the stairs. He had bruised a few ribs and broken two bones in his leg.
Dave had bought Jack a Nintendo DS and a set of games called The Legend of Zelda on it. Jack was enjoying them, and Aaron was glad because while Jack loved reading, he was used to being active and wasn’t doing well at settling down and reading all the time. The damage to his leg was a little extensive, and he had already had one surgery, so Jack had to take it easy so that he didn’t have to have another. Before Dave had shown up with the DS, Aaron had been at his wit’s end with the boy. Aaron didn’t like being upset with Jack, but there was little to do when Jack was throwing fits that were very much not like his usual self.
This was the second Christmas after Haley had died and Aaron barely remembered any of the first. Jack had been sullen the whole time and broken Aaron’s heart when he demanded his mother back for Christmas. Aaron hadn’t known what to do and even Jessica being there hadn’t helped so Christmas had been a wreck but as long as Jack was alive and well, Aaron considered it a good Christmas.
Aaron wanted a better Christmas this year, and while it was starting off a little rocky, he was going to make it the best he could. He was late getting home from a case after a storm had grounded them in Tennessee for a few hours. So now Aaron was buying food for the next day. He was just glad that none of the hams left was frozen.
“I can’t believe that they are playing this song in a grocery store,” a man said behind Aaron. Aaron turned around to look at him and saw that it was a young man with messy hair. He was nicely put together, and even the messy hair was evidently artfully done so.
“What’s wrong with this song?” Aaron asked. He usually did not talk to strangers in stores, his job had put him past most of that kind of interaction, but there was something about this man.
“Have you not listened to it before?” The man looked incredulous about that.
“I guess not.” Aaron cocked his head to the side to listen. The tune behind the words was kind of cute, and the girl’s voice was kind of annoying and that was probably why Aaron had never listened to it before. Though he swore that he had heard Jack listening to it before. Then the words started to penetrate Aaron’s brain, and he felt his eyes grow rather large. He listened, all the way, to the end. He turned to look at the man again. “Is that song really about you know who getting stuck in a chimney and dying?”
“Well, not the general You-Know-Who that most would think of but yes.”
“I didn’t follow a single word of that.”
“You-Know-Who was used as a way to say Voldemort with having to say it in the Harry Potter books and movies. His name was taboo which really just gave into more fear, but then the Wizards in that series are really rather backward and stuck in the past more than America is.” The man looked past Aaron and saw Jack there. “But I can understand you not wanting to say the name. Yes, the little girl is talking about the little case you know who is stuck in the chimney until a year after Christmas and him always being there. It’s rather an interesting look into children that they don’t really get what it’s about. Though children cannot be profiled as psychopaths mainly because their empathy isn’t fully developed enough yet as they are very egocentric, but the fact that no one blinks an eye at the girl being happy that a c-o-r-p-s-e is into the chimney forever speaks to a lot of issues more than just being a child.”
“Psychologist?” Aaron asked.
“That evident?” the man asked as he started to blush.
Aaron looked down at the basket that was in his hand. There was just a bottle of scotch, nuts, fruit, and cranberries. That was not what he was expecting though if the man was going for spiked cranberry salad, he was going to do it well.
“Just because I work with them a great deal.” Aaron looked back at Jack and saw that he was still engrossed in his DS, and the line was still backed up before he looked back at the man. He offered his hand to him. “Aaron Hotchner.”
“Spencer Reid. I work as a resident traumatic therapist for local law enforcement.”
“Oh, do you know Will LaMontagne?” Aaron asked.
Spencer looked at Aaron with a stern eye as he was trying to figure out Aaron. Aaron smiled at him and pulled his credentials from his pocket and flashed them at him.
“I work with his wife JJ at the BAU.”
“So you are Hotch,” Spencer said with a grin on his face.
“I am.” Now it was Aaron’s turn to look at Spencer with a stern eye.
“Will’s talked about you. I work with the officers to help them deal with things, but I also advise on suspects and the various things that need professional opinions. Will’s tried to get me to transfer to the FBI for a long while. Since pretty much when he met me after moving up here to be with JJ.”
“I can’t comment on that but profiling a child from a song is pretty good.” Aaron heard the sound of scanning stopping and looked to see that he was the next person to start to put his things out. “Eggs, Jack.”
Jack shut his DS before he turned in the cart and settled the eggs down after Aaron got them close enough to where he could. He set the divider up and started to lay the rest of the things out. He felt Spencer reach across him and grab two candy bars before leaning back and setting them down into his basket.
“Dad, I’m hungry,” Jack said as he looked up at Aaron from playing his game.
“There is a bar around the corner that’s doing a traditional Irish meal tonight. It’s a family night of sorts, and the rowdy clientele will be kicked out if they get to be too much,” Spencer offered.
Aaron stood up and looked at Spencer trying to figure out how the man knew that. Aaron had lived in the area since he had left the house he lived in with Haley and didn’t know that.
“That’s where I am headed next. Would you like to join me?”
There was something in the way that the man asked the question that made Aaron think that it was not just a standard question. Then Aaron got it.
“You are asking me on a date on Christmas Eve when I obviously have my son with me?”
“That’s why I pointed out it was a family night.”
“You want to go on a date with a stranger on Christmas Eve and his son?” Aaron eyed the man and wondered if he was someone who was getting close to him because of his son. Aaron didn’t get that vibe from him, but that didn’t mean anything.
“Well, I assumed that the child was with you in a cast because if he had someone else to watch him at home, it would have happened. This isn’t the best weather, and you have him in the cart, and I can tell that he’s in pain. You and I crossed paths a few times in the store, and I watched you pat your pocket three times, and a rattling noise was heard from that pocket. I assume that those are his pain pills and he needs to eat, hence the very late run to the store to pick up food items for tomorrow as well as frozen macaroni and cheese. I think that maybe the young sir would like the macaroni and cheese at the bar better.”
Aaron just stared at him and tried to figure out if Spencer was doing that because he was trying to impress Aaron or he really didn’t understand how good he was at that.
“Well, I can say that I understand where Will is coming from on wanting you to join the FBI. I think though that he’s angling for you to go straight to the BAU. A mind like that could be good in the unit.”
“I like what I do, and it helps people just as much,” Spencer said as he smiled at Aaron.
Aaron turned around to talk to the cashier as he was checked out. The bag with the eggs went right back to Jack as did all of the other food. It was cold enough outside that none of it needed to be worried about if it was in the trunk of the car. Even if Aaron went with Spencer on a spontaneous date on Christmas Eve at a bar.
Spencer said nothing as Aaron was finalized on being checked out and then as he was checked out. Instead, Aaron just waited for him. He would at least get the man’s number because he did want to get to know him better.
“Are we going to eat with Mister Spencer?” Jack asked as Spencer started to leave after swiping his card to pay and getting his receipt.
Aaron looked at Jack and was a little shocked that he had been following it. Jack had been taught good manners and most of the time that meant Aaron forgetting that he was there because he didn’t disrupt him when he was talking.
“Do you want to?” Aaron asked.
“I would like to try the macaroni and cheese that he’s talking about. And you need to date.”
“You’ve been talking to Uncle Dave too much.”
“No, I haven’t. He’s not the only one who has said it. Aunt JJ has said it, and Uncle Morgan ranted about it for twenty minutes the other day when I was at your office after my doctor appointment. I think he forgot that I was in your office. He was very loud and in the bullpen.”
“Your co-workers trying to get you to date?” Spencer asked.
The automatic doors opened up, and Spencer paused to let Aaron go out first. Aaron needed the buggy while Spencer had two bags in his hands and he dropped the basket into the pile as he passed it.
“Yes. They feel that I’ve not put myself out there since the end of my marriage.”
“How long ago was that?” Spencer asked.
“Three years ago.”
“That’s really not too long. You seem to me like the type that loves with all that you are, and well that’s very hard to let go of.”
“Uncle Dave said it’s because Daddy never to really say goodbye. Mommy and Daddy were divorced, but Mommy died before Daddy could get her blessing to move on.”
“I really need to talk to your Uncle Dave about what he says when you are around.”
“He didn’t know I was. I snuck into his office to get some of the chocolate that he has in there. The ones that taste like that nasty stuff you and he drinks when he comes over.”
“And now I need to talk to him about the fact that he has alcoholic candy in the BAU offices.”
“Uncle Dave is David Rossi?” Spencer asked, and he looked like he was getting ready to laugh his ass off. Aaron wanted to kiss that smile off of his lips, and that was when Aaron knew what he wanted to do.
“Yes, and yes, Jack and I would love to join you at the bar for our final meal of the day.”
“Until you eat the cookies you put out for Santa,” Jack said without looking up from his DS.
Aaron looked at him, and Jack wasn’t paying to attention to him at all.
“Looks like someone has figured you out?” Spencer asked, and the look on his face was more stern. It took a few seconds, and it turned into a smile.
“I guess so.” Aaron looked at Jack and hated that he had figured out that Santa wasn’t real. Aaron would talk to him about it later as now was not the time with company around them. Aaron finished loading the groceries into the trunk of his car. He looked around for Spencer’s car to see what the man drove but he was still just standing there beside Aaron. “We will follow you to the bar.”
“That will take a while as I was planning on walking. I did not bring my car as I planned on drinking enough to not be able to drive but not to be so drunk I wouldn’t remember anything. It’s a bit of a tradition.”
“So you live close enough to walk?” Aaron asked.
“I do. I live just a block from the bar but in the opposite direction. I was going to go home and put up my groceries and then head to the bar. If you want to drop me at mine, I can still do that and then join you at the bar.”
“I don’t live that far either. I’m shocked that I’ve never seen you before.” Aaron tried to picture where Spencer was, and he had to be in the houses that were opposite Aaron’s apartment building. He would just have to wait and see.
“You probably have just never realized. We had to have passed before as your face was familiar before I saw you. It’s why I talked out loud like I did. I was trying to figure out where I had seen you and hoped that your voice would help me. It did not but knowing that you live around here means I have probably seen you in my day to day life.”
Aaron nodded his head in agreement and reached for Spencer’s two bags in his hand. Spencer handed them over quickly.
“I would offer you two to stay at my house so you can drink as well but Jack’s going to be an issue with walking.”
“I can carry him. Parking there instead of the bar would be nice.” Aaron thought about the fact that Spencer might be across the road from him and just leaving the car at Spencer’s might be easier. “My groceries will be fine in the car.”
Aaron pushed the buggy around to the side of the car that Jack sat on, opened the door, and easily lifted the boy out. Aaron was turning to put Jack into the car when the buggy moved. Aaron looked to see that Spencer was taking back to the line of them that was at the door. Aaron smiled at Jack as he sat him down in his seat. Jack was just big enough to not need the booster seat. “Are you okay with us doing this?”
“Mister Spencer seems nice, and you’ve smiled at him more in the last little while than you have in a long time. If he makes you happy, he makes me happy.”
Aaron pressed a kiss to Jack’s forehead as the boy opened up his DS and started to play again. Spencer was coming back, and Aaron shut Jack’s door and rushed around to open up the passenger side door in the front. Spencer looked at him with a strange look on his face, and it made Aaron blush a little.
“I might not have retained much of what my Mother taught me about being a perfect gentleman for her kind of society people, but I did keep enough when it came to being nice to other people. I know that you are not a woman, but I like doing the little things for people.”
“He opens doors for his team members all the time,” Jack said.
When Aaron looked at Jack, he wasn’t even looking up from his DS.
“That’s enough cheek from you,” Aaron said, and it made all three of them laugh.
“What? I heard Morgan telling the new guy about it a few weeks ago. Morgan said that a few people have looked like they want to punch you for doing it. I think it’s nice.”
“There is nothing wrong with it, as long as the intention is not that you think I am not able to open the door myself.” Spencer arched an eyebrow at Aaron as he said it.
“No, never,” Aaron answered.
Spencer sat down in the seat of the car and buckled in before Aaron shut the door. The wind was picking up, and he flipped up the collar on the coat he was wearing up to keep his neck warm. He got into the seat and didn’t even turn on the heat in the car. The car wasn’t warm enough for it to blow warm air before they got to Spencer’s if he was as close as Aaron thought that he was.
“So, Spencer what is your favorite holiday?” Aaron asked. It seemed like a neutral enough topic.
“Halloween,” Spencer answered as he looked up from his phone. He was grinning as Aaron stopped at the stop sign. Spencer pointed to the left, so Aaron turned that way. He was indeed heading back toward home.
Aaron thought about the house that was directly across from his building that had looked like a Halloween store had moved in starting October first. Aaron’s few times of staying home during the week with Jack, Aaron ad noticed that people were in and out of it all day. None of them had ever made Aaron think anything wrong was going on because none of them looked or profiled like they were terrible people. Aaron had figured it was a home-based business.
“I bought a house when I moved to the area to work with the cops because I wanted a home office. Many would rather talk there than a cold, clinical office as they call it. I decorate for all holidays but go a little overboard with Halloween. Next right and second house on the right. You can park right in front.”
Aaron nodded his head and looked back at Jack in the rearview mirror. Aaron had tilted it to where he could see what he needed to see but also see Jack a little easier. Jack usually sat in the middle but with his leg and needing to be carried in the lousy weather because his crutches were not doing well with the slippery ground. Aaron had left them at home for the moment because it would be more trouble than it was worth for the short trip.
Pulling into the spot behind the Amazon that was parked in front of the house, Aaron looked to his left at his apartment building. That made wanting to see Spencer a lot easier. Spencer was right across the street.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll run my groceries home, so I don’t have to worry about that later.” Aaron pointed at his building through the window. “That’s me.”
“Oh!” Spencer looked kind of excited about that. “That’s okay. I’ll sit here with Jack while you do that and then I can run mine inside. None of mine are cold so just inside the door will be fine. Then when I get back, we can walk where we need to go.”
Aaron nodded his head and unbuckled his seat belt so he could turn to look at Jack.
“Are you okay with that, Jack?” Aaron asked. He knew that leaving Jack alone with Spencer was not exactly safe but if Spencer were a predator of any kind something would have tripped on Aaron’s senses before then.
“Yes.” Jack looked up at Aaron and smiled at him before going back to his game.
Aaron got out, shutting the door quickly so that not a lot of cold air got inside the car. He grabbed the groceries from the trunk and looked both ways before stepping into the street. The street was dead because most people were already home. It wasn’t that late, but given the day that it was, everyone was either already home or already where they were going for the night. Aaron took the stairs to his apartment and shoved the two bags with cold stuff into the fridge and settled the eggs on their shelf before just setting the bags with the rest. He debated taking off his back up weapon, but since they were going to be walking to and from the bar in the dark, he decided to leave it on. He patted his pocket where his credentials were and checked his wallet as well before going to the door. He grabbed Jack’s heavier coat and left.
Jack was still playing his game when Aaron got down to the car. Spencer got out before Aaron even crossed the street but didn’t head toward the house after grabbing his food until Aaron was at the car. Aaron tossed the coat into the back seat, and Jack started to swap to it right away. It wasn’t that bad in the car, but walking was going to make it colder to the boy. Aaron rubbed his hands together because of nerves more than coldness as he waited for Spencer to come back. He turned to watch him as the man opened his house, looked like he turned off the alarm and then set down his things and turned the alarm back on and shut the door, deadbolting it. Spencer jogged down the stairs, not slipping at all which kind of shocked Aaron given the ice that was seemingly everywhere when Aaron was trying to dodge it.
Aaron got out and turned around to get Jack out of the backseat. Jack slipped his DS into the case that was between his legs and zipped it up. He handed that to Aaron who turned and handed that to Spencer. Spencer took it without a word and held the door to make sure that it stayed open while Aaron got a good hold on Jack and picked him up out of the car. Thankfully Jack did have a walking boot on, and he could walk without his crutches if it was short distances but Aaron would rather carry him most places outside of the apartment.
“So, we live across the street from each other,” Spencer said after he shut the car door and looked at Aaron with a smile on his face.
“Eww, mushy,” Jack said with a giggle before he tucked his head into Aaron’s neck. Aaron pulled Jack’s hood up to cover his head. Jack just hunkered down into Aaron even more. Aaron smiled at him before looking at Spencer. Spencer had a fond look on his face.
“So that dustup the fall before last?” Spencer asked.
Aaron swallowed and looked at Jack again before he nodded. He really hoped that Spencer didn’t ask more than that.
“So what is your favorite holiday?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never really paid much attention to any of them. Growing up they were ways to show me off my learning, my education, how good of a boy I was. It was marked with meals where I didn’t really like half of the food but was expected to eat it. Then I was in college, and other than drinking there was nothing big about any of them. Then I was married, and I was hosting the parties. After that, I was divorced and any holiday was a good one where Jack was able to be with me. This past year has been horrible because it’s our firsts without her.”
“That’s hard. Still, you have to have one that you are more fond of than any others.” Spencer stepped a little closer as the sidewalk narrowed on them. Jack’s hand shot out had wrapped in his scarf. Aaron hadn’t even realized that he had grabbed a scarf. Jack kept a hold of that end of the scarf as they turned a corner and Aaron saw the building that had to be the bar. It didn’t look like anything much at all but had an open sign up. Aaron had never paid attention to the bar at all. Spencer got to the door first and opened it up with a grin on his face. A blast of warmth hit Aaron as he stepped inside. He felt Spencer bump into him as he rushed inside. The door shut with a slam that spoke of wind and not shutting it too hard. No one looked up at them. The bar was only about half full, and there was a young couple in the corner with a baby in a carrier. They both looked to be enjoying the night out. There was Christmas music playing on the sound system, but it was thankfully instrumental and not words. Aaron wondered if that was going to be the normal or if it was just this song.
Spencer waved toward a corner booth that was right beside the fire. Aaron gladly walked over to it. He frowned because he wasn’t sure where he wanted to sit. If he kept his face toward the room, he would be right by the fire, and that might be too hot for him as he ran warm. Though if he sat in the other seat he was going to have his back to the room. Spencer tapped the mirror above the fireplace, and Aaron realized that he would be able to see the whole of the room in that mirror.
“If that’s going to be a factor in where you sit. I prefer the fire, but if you would rather have you and Jack there, it would be okay. The other seat will be warm enough.”
“I would rather not sit by the fire. I tend to run warm and might get too hot.”
“Great.” Spencer sat down, and his scarf fell off of him, the end still in Jack’s hand. Jack raised it up and wadded it up before clutching it to his chest. Spencer just smiled at him. Aaron settled Jack down on the booth, shocked that the seats were covered in padding and what seemed like pleather. Seemed like something that needed a lot of care in a bar. Still, it was nice. Aaron sat down and was happy it was as soft as it looked.
“So what do you recommend?”
“Anything. I’ve eaten everything here at various times and love it all.” Spencer leaned forward to look at something, so Aaron followed his gaze and saw that it was a menu of the specials. It seemed like it had a full kitchen.
“Shepherd’s pie and beer bread sounds good.”
“That’s what I a going to get as well. They do kids meals. Burgers, chicken tenders if Jack just wants to get mac and cheese a side dish.”
“No, all the macaroni and cheese!” Jack said a little louder than was socially polite. Aaron looked at him to settle him down, but he saw the pain lines on his face. Aaron wondered what kind of snack he could get him when a waitress stepped up and set down a bowl with three pieces of bread. There was two that looked alike, but the third looked different.
“The white one is a normal roll for the tyke. Wasn’t sure he’d like beer bread. Drinks?”
“Mule please, strong.” Spencer looked at Aaron.
“Whatever caffeine free drink you have for kids, and I’ll do eggnog, strong as well please.”
“You got it.”
Aaron looked and didn’t see a name tag on her outfit, and she was dressed for comfort instead of enticing a man’s eye. It made for a pleasant workplace. Aaron hated some of the wardrobes that some places had their staff wear. The waitress was back with a tray of drinks. She settled a colorfully decorated kids cup down in front of Jack, and it looked like it had a clear liquid inside. Spencer’s drink was next and then Aaron’s.
“Special all around?”
“Yes, and the macaroni and cheese dinner for young Jack.”
“What side dish you want?” The waitress looked right at Jack as she asked.
“Sure. Just wave when you want more drink.”
Aaron realized that she didn’t write a single word down. He wondered if she was that good or their orders were that easy.
“So what do you think so far?” Spencer asked.
“It’s nice, and you are right that it’s not bad for a bar. More like the old time bars used to be.”
“Yes,” Spencer raised up his drink and held it out. Aaron tapped his off of it, and Jack sat up so that he could do the same with both of them. Jack took a sip of his drink and settled back down. Spencer handed over the DS case. “To good first dates and the many that will hopefully follow.”
“Hear, hear,” Aaron said as he settled is drink down on the table and smiled at Spencer. He hoped it was the first of many. And maybe even the start of the rest of his life.