Title: To Friendship Being Enough
Ratings: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner & Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid
Summary: Aaron and Spencer spend Valentine’s together as friends, growing just that little bit closer and figuring out that all they need is to do things that make them happy.
Year: Season 9 (2014)
Spoilers: Up Through Season 9
Notes: Maeve Donovan is not in this, she never got that close to Spencer after helping him with his migraines
Spencer heard Rossi bring up again that Valentine’s Day was getting closer and closer and that Hotch needed to find a date so that he didn’t die alone in his bed when he was finally ready to give up life. Spencer wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong with being alone on Valentine’s Day. Spencer last foray into a relationship, at Morgan’s insistence, had ended horribly. Spencer’s girlfriend had dumped him after being called out close to Christmas after missing Thanksgiving entirely. The team had got back in the early morning on Christmas Eve, but Spencer hadn’t even called Sabrina. Spencer had given JJ the gift that he had bought for Sabrina and spent the better part of Christmas Day with Hotch and Jack.
The invitation had almost been ignored because Spencer had not been sure if his boss really wanted him to come and hang out on Christmas day of all days. Yet, when Spencer had shown up with presents for each of them, Hotch had invited him in with a smile, taking the chilled bottle of wine with an appreciative eye. Spencer had spent the day smiling and laughing and didn’t have to be anyone but himself.
Now it was just over a month and a half later and the next holiday was coming up where those who were single were shamed for being so. Spencer picked up his cell phone as he got up to go and get himself a cup of coffee. He saw that Hotch’s mug was still there in the kitchen area, so he made Hotch a cup as well. It would help give him a reason to go into Hotch’s office. Spencer stopped by the desk and picked up a small stack of random files before he walked up to Hotch’s office. He knocked on the door with his elbow making both Hotch and Rossi look up at him.
“Got time for those files I talked to you about this morning?” Spencer asked.
Rossi was still looking at Spencer, so he missed the look of utter relief on Hotch’s face. Spencer smiled back at him and walked to the desk, setting down the cup of coffee at Hotch’s normal spot, handle turned toward the man before he sat down beside Rossi in the two chairs that were in front of the desk.
“Yes, I have time. Dave, if there was nothing else?” Hotch looked at Dave with what looked like a smug look on his face. Spencer wasn’t exactly sure because Hotch usually didn’t do smug looks to anyone but UnSubs.
“Fine, fine. I’ll not impede the progress of our boy wonder finding UnSubs that no one else has caught.” Rossi stood up, taking his cup of coffee with him. Spencer hadn’t even seen that one sitting there. Spencer mentally shrugged at that.
“What files did you talk to me about before?” Hotch asked looking a little lost after Rossi had left the room.
“I didn’t. I just overheard Rossi talking about the Day-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named and thought I would rescue you.” Spencer untucked the folders from his arm and laid them down on the chair beside him. “Those are just a few research files that Garcia found me for a cold case from the late eighties. Though what would Rossi say if you did say you had plans?”
“That I was lying. The long-distance thing with Beth didn’t work. If it were just me being long distance most of the time, it would be different. He knows that I am not looking for someone at the moment, but he feels that his way is the best way, besides the fact that he has three ex-wives. He and I are nothing alike, but he holds that I would be happier with someone. He’s at least dropped the whole Jack needs a mother thing. Jack had no want of a mother. He liked Beth has a friend, but that was about it. He sees Jessica as his aunt and mothering influence. He’s not ready to let go of Haley in any way shape or form. I’ve talked to his therapist about it, and she sees no issues with it. He knows that Haley is gone, he understands she’s not coming back, but he doesn’t want another mother in his life that isn’t Jessica.”
“I can understand that one. While my father didn’t die, I didn’t want or think that I needed a fatherly influence. I had a mom, and it was enough for me. My father left, and it made me shy that anyone else would do the same. It hurts when the one leaves, why open yourself up to someone one would will leave as well. In Jack’s mind, Jessica is obligated to love him. She’s not going to leave unless she dies in a wreck or something like it. Then he can forgive her.”
“I have little depth for wanting a parent to stick around. I was glad when my father died and happy when my mother decided that she wanted nothing to do with her son that wanted to become an FBI agent instead of staying in the nice law profession. She had hoped I would become a private lawyer like my father. When I became a prosecutor, she was upset but hadn’t disowned me yet.”
“You’ve talked a little about that before.”
“So you came up here looking like you had a plan.”
“I do. Guys night. We can plan a bunch of stuff that we have fun doing and do it, with Jack. It’s a Friday night, so we could even go somewhere. New York, anywhere really. You usually let us off a half day on the day so the ladies can get ready for dates and not have to rush or ask for the time off, case willing obviously. SO what do you say?”
“I think that sounds like a plan. Why don’t you come over tonight and we can talk to Jack about it, set some plans in motion? He’s talked about wanting to go to New York.”
“New York is the second bane of our existence isn’t it?” Spencer asked the smile on his lips didn’t go up to his eyes. Boston and New York, sources of pain in the lives of the BAU. Spencer knew that Hotch’s memories of New York were worse because of his friend that had died during the terrorist attacks they were sent to help with.
“It’s running pretty damned close to Boston, yes.” Hotch smiled and leaned back in his seat. “I pulled a pan of that tater tot casserole you showed me how to make out of the freezer last night. It’s the bigger pan so I could have leftovers for lunch tomorrow, but instead, I’ll just make you buy me lunch tomorrow. How does that sound?”
“If I said I’d bring my own dinner?” Spencer laughed as he stood up, grabbing his folders and his coffee. “I’ll just hitch a ride back to DC with you. I took the train in today. That okay?”
Spencer was looking forward to the evening.
When Reid had brought up New York on Valentine’s Day, Aaron had been a little skeptical. The city was going to be packed, especially as they had gone up on Thursday to spend all of Valentine’s Day in New York. A case had prompted Cruz to give the team Friday off all the way, so the train had been taken to New York after work had ended Thursday. Aaron had picked several cities they could go to that he wouldn’t mind and had left it up to Jack where he wanted to go. Jack had picked New York, so they had spent the evening eating on the casserole for dinner and crowded around Aaron’s work laptop. It had been a very fun evening, and Aaron remembered what it was like, again, to have friends.
After the divorce, Aaron had realized that he had been isolated, but he had been unwilling to really go out and try and make friends. He wasn’t around a lot, and then after Haley had died, his focus had narrowed down to Jack and the few friends that he considered that were other father’s of kids that Jack was friends with. Reid never would have been someone that he would have made friends with if he had a choice in it, but that meant he would be lacking. Reid was kind of perfect when it came to being friends. He stayed back when he wasn’t wanted, didn’t force in anywhere but was willing to be there when needed, when wanted. He was willing to come over with dinner and watch horrible kids movies because Aaron didn’t want to face it alone. He was there when Jack needed science help, and Aaron just didn’t understand what Jack needed. He was a pretty damned good friend, which was a shock given how few friends Spencer had growing up and even the ones that he had were only there because they were all intelligent and banded together.
Aaron wasn’t sure if Reid had chosen to become friends with Aaron because there was no one else who was willing to be around him or if Spencer had wanted to be Aaron’s friend because he thought that Aaron was lonely. No matter the reason, Aaron was glad of him. Especially when Jack was hopped up on ice cream from a little shop that was in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn that had a Valentine’s special.
The air was crisp but not really cold even though it was the middle of February. Jack was bundled into his coat but looking forward to the museum that they were going to. Aaron had not even known about the Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum, but he was kind of glad of it. He was sure that Spencer and the museum would run Jack out of his energy. He was eight, and it seemed that he got more hyper with each inhalation of air. It was interesting to say something.
Reid and Jack had planned the whole trip, and Aaron had only vetoed a few things, but those were just because of time more than not wanting to do them. He promised that when it was summer, he and Jack would come back up. Though Aaron was sure that Jack would want Reid to come along as well. Aaron didn’t care about that.
By the time that they were leaving the museum, Aaron wasn’t sure who he wanted to stick in timeout more, Jack or Reid. Both of them has stumped the people who ran the exhibits with questions, Reid had gathered a following of kids in the science area of the museum and even talked staff into letting him do his physics magic for the kids. Aaron wasn’t sure how Reid had a voice left.
“This was the best day ever!” Jack proclaimed.
“I have to agree,” Reid said as he looked at Aaron with a shy smile on his face. There was a point in time when Aaron had thought that meant that Reid had a crush on him, but after years of seeing it, Aaron knew that it meant that he was unsure if what he said was socially acceptable.
“It was up there pretty high for me.” Aaron gave Reid the same smile back.
The restaurant that they had reservations at was halfway between the museum and the hotel they were staying at. It was still nice out, so they were going to walk it. Jack was tucked closer to Aaron with Reid on his other side as they walked and talked. Spencer had read up on the area in books and on the Internet to fill the walk with idle chatter and weird stories. It was nice. The restaurant was actually full with a small waiting queue for seating. Aaron saw the table that was for them. They were ten minutes early for their reservation, and it was just getting wiped off from the group that had it before. It was a three-person table because of location, so Aaron wasn’t shocked that it didn’t get used a lot.
The hostess gave them a smile, and it faltered a little when she saw Jack. Jack was the only child in the place.
“Don’t worry, Ma’am, I’ll be really good. I’m here with my dad and our best friend. They didn’t have girlfriends and decided that spending it with me was better than being alone.”
Aaron wanted to cover Jack’s mouth but the hostesses face melted into that meant she was charmed. Aaron was actually pretty sure that Garcia called it an ovary exploding moment, but Aaron was never going to call it that. There were a few other awws from people who heard that. Reid was blushing and looking anywhere but at someone.
“Reservation for Hotchner,” Aaron said.
“Yes, Sir. Right, this way.” The hostess grabbed three menus and escorted them to their table. The dress code was a lower standard than a lot of places, everyone was dressed comfortably, even the staff. It was why Aaron had chosen the place. Jack was tucked into the wall where Aaron and Reid could both keep an eye on everyone moving around them. It was nice to just sit down in a place where no one knew him. Aaron was a creature of habit that at the same places over and over. Going out with Reid meant that he went places he had never gone to before and in a lot of cases places that he never would. Aaron would rather visit the same place ten times than to go to ten different new places.
“Can I get whatever I want, Dad?” Jack asked as he looked at the menu.
Aaron had chosen the place because the full menu was online, as well as what the specials of the day were for the week and for it being Valentine’s Day. There wasn’t anything on the menu that Jack didn’t like, except a few of the sides but then Aaron knew that Jack was going to get the macaroni and cheese as one of his sides and the second would probably be the fresh steamed vegetables.
“You can, Jack.”
“The porterhouse sounds good to me,” Reid said.
Aaron would have laughed if he hadn’t seen Reid demolish one as well as two sides and part of an appetizer before. Reid might be lithe, but he was a very big eater.
“You know, that does sound really good,” Aaron said as he laid the menu down and picked up the sides of the day menu card that was on the table. There was also a sign for the Valentine’s dessert platter. That sounded pretty damned good as well.
“Cheese fries for the app or did you want to do the sampler?” Reid asked.
Aaron picked up his menu again and looked at it. The platter had a small collection of the three most popular appetizers of the place. There was going to be enough for all three of them, one of which was the cheese fries.
“Platter?” Jack asked looking at Aaron.
“Yes,” Aaron answered.
Jack laid down his menu and leaned over to get into Reid’s bag. Aaron would have normally stopped him, but Jack had been in and out of it all day, getting things that Reid had squirreled in there for Jack. Jack came out with the book that he had bought with his allowance he had saved up since Christmas had been over. It was a book of really weird facts about New York. There was a lot that technically wasn’t age appropriate for Jack, but the boy was good enough to know things he shouldn’t do.
“So, Jack how did you like New York?” Reid asked after their drink and appetizer order had been placed. Jack had ordered tea, which was good because he did not need more sugar at all.
“It’s been fun. I’m glad we get to stay all weekend.”
“Same here. I’ve only ever come here for work. I think I understand what your father was trying to push on me for taking vacations, but still, I would hate to go places like this alone. I travel too much for work that going anywhere for pleasure alone seems just depressing.”
“I can agree with you there,” Aaron said. He saw the waitress coming back with the drinks, so he leaned back to give her access to the table. Reid had got a cocktail of some kind. A glass of water was set down in front of him. Followed by his purple drink. Jack’s eyes widened at it, but he didn’t ask for a drink. Aaron had let him have a sip of scotch ones, and the boy had been cured of wanting to try anything with alcohol at least for a few years.
The dinner discussion was light as they were in public and while Jack might not understand what other adults didn’t want to hear, it was easy to steer him away from those types of conversations. The appetizer was eaten with gusto split pretty much even between them. The meal took a little bit longer, but with two porterhouse steaks and Jack’s chopped steak smothered in onions and mushrooms, Aaron wasn’t shocked on that as it would probably cover a great deal of the grill and slotting in the meals before would be hard.
Reid shared a few bites of his steak with Jack who would eat steak if Aaron cooked it, but he preferred chopped steak for his beef consumption. The dessert platter was ordered, and Jack actually didn’t eat a lot of it. Instead, he just settled in, and people watched, never watching someone for too long.
“So are we going to stop and by a movie on the way back to the hotel room?” Reid asked as they settled up the bill, leaving cash for it all on the table. Aaron had lost the battle on not splitting everything down the middle before they had even left DC. Reid didn’t mind paying more even though it was Jack and not just him. Aaron had got sick of finding money in weird places for various things they did. Reid knew that Aaron wasn’t hurting for money but that Reid wanted to spoil Jack a little made Aaron feel better about it all.
“Sure,” Aaron said.
Spencer watched as Hotch’s head nodded again as he tried to stay awake. They were all in the front room of the hotel watching a movie on the TV DVD player. They had let Jack pick the movie, and it wasn’t as bad as some of his movies were.
When Hotch’s head dipped again, it didn’t come back up at all. He slumped over to the side, landing on Spencer. Spencer just reached up behind him and helped to guide Hotch down onto the pillow in his lap. Jack was sacked out on the floor, his eyes had closed ten minutes before and hadn’t opened up again.
Hotch had been burning the candle at both ends when it came to his personal and work lives, and he was glad that the man had agreed to this weekend, he needed it. Hotch could sleep him while Spencer handled Jack in the morning. Spencer hoped that soon Hotch would let Spencer take Jack for a weekend to spent with Henry, giving Hotch the full weekend to relax without worrying about Jack. Spencer understood Hotch wanting to be there as much as he could for Jack, but there were times that Hotch needed to take care of himself.
Movement had Spencer thinking that Hotch was waking up, but the man was just moving a little. Spencer reached down and started to run his fingers through Hotch’s hair. It helped to settle him down. Hotch commented that doing it to Jack could put him to sleep, but Spencer had yet to tell him that he was the exact same way.
Even though Hotch was kind of clueless at being friends with someone, he had taught Spencer a lot about it since they had become friends of a sort after the death of Haley. It had started out with Spencer doing it because he hated that Hotch felt so alone and then it was just…right. Spencer was pretty sure that Hotch had friends before, he did a few things that were younger in acting than other things that he did, but it was always done like it was a long forgotten memory coming to the surface. Spencer’s only friends before Hotch were Morgan and JJ, and both of them were very touchy. It had warped Spencer’s sense of what was normal and what wasn’t. Hotch had been hesitant about things like this, Spencer playing with his hair but to Spencer, it was a sign of affection, so he kept on doing it because Hotch had actually not told him not to.
The movie played on with Spencer not even paying attention to it while the Hotchner men slept. Spencer would wake up Hotch when he got to when he wanted to sleep, but for now Spencer had Hotch’s Kindle with him. It was a concession that Spencer had made. He had not brought a single book with him, but he demanded that Hotch bring his Kindle because Spencer never read long on them, but he did have some times where he was going to be in the room with jack alone. Sunday Hotch planned on going to the grave that was in a local graveyard. It wasn’t where Kate Joyner was buried, but there was a memorial wall for the agents who died in New York over the years.
There was also mornings while Spencer woke up. So he had bought a few books for the Kindle and let Hotch borrow them so Spencer could read them. It worked well, and Spencer wouldn’t get lost in reading when they should be doing something together.
“Hmm,” Hotch said as he woke up a little. Spencer still his hand but Hotch made a noise that sounded very unhappy, so Spencer started up again. “You’ll put me to sleep.”
“You were already asleep. I think it’s time for Hotchner men to go to bed.”
“A few more minutes?” Hotch asked as he pushed up into Spencer’s hand.
Spencer laughed and started to scratch instead of just rub. There were no words needed between them as they just existed. Spencer was happy to just be and to just exist. Spencer knew that many never understood their friendship, but he wouldn’t change it for the world. Their friendship wasn’t the typical type of friendship, but it made them both happy, and if every single Valentine’s Day were spent like this for the rest of Spencer’s life he’d be pretty damned happy.