Letting Go of the Past

Title: Letting Go of the Past
Series: Apartment for Rent
Ratings: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds, Harry Potter, James Bond, Bones, Hawaii Five-0, N.C.I.S, MacGyver (2016)
Category: M/M
Relationships: Tony DiNozzo/Spencer Reid, James Bond/Q, Jack Dalton/Angus MacGyver, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy, Pre-Relationship Aaron Hotchner/Danny Williams, Seeley Booth/Steve McGarrett, Jack O’Neill/Daniel Jackson
Characters: Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner, Minerva McGonagall, James Bond, Q, Tony DiNozzo, Seeley Booth, Danny Williams, Steve McGarrett, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Jack Dalton, Angus MacGyver, Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson
Tags: Alternate Universe, All Human AU, Non-Canon Compliant, Established Relationship, Non-Canon Child Death
Summary: All eyes have turned to Danny and Aaron as the rest of the group are all hooked up. Now it’s just getting those two to see them.
Words: 9,144
Year: Modern Day
Spoilers: Up Through Everything Current for Each Fandom
Notes: None
Beta: Grammarly

Spencer turned around a corner made by converging sections of bookshelves inside of Dell of Riven. He frowned as he saw Danny sitting on the floor. Spencer looked at the sign above to make sure that he wasn’t lost, but no, he was in the children’s beginners chapter books. Spencer swallowed as he took in the picture of despair that Danny was at that moment. Looking down at his clipboard that had his inventory list that he was working and he sighed before setting it down. He couldn’t just leave Danny there and another day behind on the inventory that didn’t really need to be done wasn’t going to hurt. He settled the clipboard on the hook that was hanging on the end that was there for that reason.

“Hello,” Spencer said as he walked over to Danny and sat down beside him. Danny didn’t move at all. He didn’t react to Spencer’s words or the fact that Spencer sat down beside him. Spencer let him have his silence for nearly ten minutes before he started to pull his phone from suit pocket to text Aaron.

“Don’t call Aaron,” Danny said. His tone was steady, but his voice sounded rough like he had been crying.

Spencer dropped his phone down and pulled out the handkerchief from his pocket. Aaron had bought him a whole set of them that had TARDISes on them. They were washable, so Spencer wasn’t too upset about giving one up to Danny to use. Spencer would just have him drop it somewhere after he was done, where Spencer didn’t have to touch with a bare hand.

“Why don’t you want me to call Aaron?” Spencer asked as he handed over the handkerchief. He watched as Danny dotted at his eyes but didn’t blow his nose. Not yet.

“I don’t…I told myself this year; I would do this without him.”

“Do what?” Spencer wasn’t sure what was wrong, and he knew the least about Danny really out of everyone else. He could tell that Danny kept a few things very close to his vest that everyone else knew. It was tragic whatever it was because there were times that Spencer looked at him, and he could see soul-crushing grief.

“Make it through today. I need-I need a drink, but I can’t do that or I will start to cry, and I won’t stop.” Danny looked at Spencer before he looked back at the bookshelf. He pulled out a book and settled it on his knee, cover-up. It was a very popular series that had a little girl named Grace with her best friend, the cop that she called Danno and his cop friends Steve, Kono, and Kelly.

Spencer had been a little worried about the series as the author was an unknown and the topics sometimes got a little heavy, but it was nothing that Spencer didn’t think that kids needed to be exposed to and the author handled it well. D.W. Daniels had never done book signings or anything like that, but still, the books were best sellers. Spencer had done readings of all of them.

“For My Monkey,” Danny said as he set the book back into its slot in the shelf.

Spencer closed his eyes at the grief in those three words. They were the dedication at the front of every single book.

“Why don’t we go somewhere else. Anywhere else?” Spencer asked. He started to stand up and smiled when Danny offered his hand to Spencer to get help up. Spencer pulled him up and gave Danny a weak smile. Danny didn’t even try and smile back. Spencer wasn’t sure what to do so he just started to walk. They left Dell of Riven and walked to the stairs that were at the far end of the building. Danny took the lead then, and they kept on going when they hit the doors.

Spencer wasn’t sure where they were going, but he followed Danny the whole way. Spencer did text Derek to let him know that he was going to be gone the rest of the day. Derek wasn’t that shocked considering it seemed that he saw Spencer leave with Danny. Spencer looked up from his phone and stopped. They were at the opening of one of the more beautiful cemeteries in the area.

Danny didn’t say anything, but he walked with a purpose toward a hill and the lone gravestone that was there.

Spencer stopped at the base of it when they were up there and saw that it was for a Grace Williams.

“Steve pushed me into therapy when I nearly tried to lose myself in a bottle,” Danny said as he sat down on the ground. He looked up at Spencer and patted the ground beside him. Spencer sat down as well and saw the toys and various things that were scattered on top of the earth. The area that would be above the casket was roped off with a little white picket fence. Inside of that was the toys and small plastic covers of each book.

“So, you are Danno?”

“Yeah. I was her hero, but I wasn’t there when she and Rachel were killed by a high-speed chase that got out of control. The car lost control and rolled into them when it took a turn too sharp, too fast. Rachel tried to protect her, but Grace still died.”

“Where is Rachel buried?” Spencer asked.

“Back home. Her parents didn’t want her buried out here. We were divorced at the time, recently but still. I refused to let Grace be buried anywhere, but where I was. I went to her funeral and then came home and buried our daughter.”

“I’m shocked that Steve’s not here.”

“I needed some time alone. Last year, I was in your shop just the other one and did the same thing. I just stared at the books. No one bothered me, but I think that Derek knows.”

“He probably was called out as he was on the volunteer side of the fire department back then.” Spencer looked at Grace’s death date and knew that Derek had been. He had wanted to be full time with the fire department but never quite got it. Then for a few years, there was a lot of funding cuts, and so the city had made up a volunteer squad until it was too much and they started to get funding back.

“I don’t remember a lot of that day.”

“It’s no wonder. I wouldn’t have been able to either.”

“Anyway, while I was in therapy, the guy who was helping me tried to get me to write in a journal. I refused, but we did sessions with other people, and part of that was writing, so I filled up a journal with the first book.”

Spencer could see that. He had read the books and knew that there had been some form of catharsis from the writing of the books, but he hadn’t realized how deep the pain was that had caused them to be written.

“I just kept ongoing. It’s a fifteen books series, and they are all done, the writing. The drawing isn’t, but there is time on that as the books come out twice a year. Still before the first was even thought about being published, I left one of them on a table in Steve’s office, and Draco found it. He read it and started to draw. He does everything from the cover art to the inside art as well as the posters. It was good for him mentally. So we both kind of healed together over a kids books series. He’s not done with the art for the next, but as this one just came out last month, he’ll be fine. He rarely gets anything sent back.”

Spencer felt like the world had turned a little on its axis. There were so many kids who wanted to meet with the people who made the Gracie & Danno books. Here they had been around this entire time.

“Have you thought about doing a signing or even just a visit to book stores?” Spencer asked.

“Draco’s asked me about it. We both don’t want the big publicity of tours and stuff. We’d be happy with having something drawn up to where Dell of Riven has exclusive rights to us or something like that. Draco’s talked about wanting to do audiobooks for them. We’ve never decided on who we want, but your podcasts of the storytimes have gone good. If you want that job, we would gladly let you do it.”

“Seriously?” Spencer asked.

“Oh, yes. You do well. You give emotions to the books you read. You would handle my Monkey with care, and I know it.”

“I just…I can’t believe that I never linked the two, but then Steve is a prevalent name, and no one calls you Danno round here.”

“Grace is the only one who called me that really. I did have a few like Steve that did, but then when she died, no one else did after that.”

There was the sound of footsteps on the ground, and Spencer turned to see Aaron and Minerva walking over. They both had a bouquet of what were considered weeds in their hands. Spencer looked back at Danny to see that his eyes were on Grace’s gravestone. Spencer started to get up, but Aaron pushed him back down.

“You are fine.” Aaron smiled at Spencer before setting the flowers down on top of the gravestone. He pressed a hand to the side before he walked around to take a seat behind Danny.

Minerva settled her flowers on the opposite side of the gravestone, and she walked around to where she could crouch beside Danny on the side that Aaron wasn’t on. She smiled at Danny before forcing him to look at her. “You’ll do what Aaron wants the rest of today.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Danny said, and his eyes weren’t lying.

“Don’t make me worry about you more,” Minerva said.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Danny said, and his voice was breathy like he was trying to hold onto himself.

“Do you want me to take him back with me?”

“No, I brought him here without any guilt trip on his part. He was really worried about, so I wanted him to understand.”

Spencer couldn’t forget that he was always going to be on the outside in this group. They had bonded with Minerva pulling them in and had a lot longer to become what they were now. He would always be looking in from the outside, no matter how close he and Tony got. Spencer didn’t mind that at all. He didn’t want to force himself in where he didn’t belong. He had learned a long time ago that making yourself fit in somewhere did nothing for you and for anyone else.

“Are you hungry?” Aaron asked as he wrapped an arm around Danny’s chest, forcing him back to rest on Aaron’s chest.

“No but I’m not nauseous either,” Danny said like it explained everything.

“Good. Then we can hit that place that you like with the greasy diner food that scares Tony when we come back with leftover boxes from it.”

“They don’t have pineapple in there at all so I won’t get on my pizza if I order it.”

Aaron laughed and pressed a kiss to Danny’s temple. He didn’t try and get up though, he just kept his lips pressed there while Danny looked at the gravestone for his daughter. Spencer didn’t know if he should leave or not. He was pretty sure that both of them forgot that he was there, but that was understandable. He was the outside at this point in time.

Spencer watched as Danny just stared at the gravestone. He turned his head, so he was watching the grieving father out of the corner of his eye, but still, he watched. He watched as Aaron’s arm didn’t stop moving. It moved up and down to where it was continually rubbing on Danny’s arm. It looked like Aaron was whispering words into Danny’s ear as well, but Spencer wasn’t anywhere near close enough to hear the whispered words, which he was glad about.

Danny moved first. Slumping back into Aaron even more and Spencer turned his head to where he was watching him entirely. Danny nodded his head to whatever Aaron had said. He looked like a man who was about to break. Spencer looked at Aaron to see that he was turning to look at Spencer. Aaron gave Spencer a wan smile that didn’t go to his eyes.

“Danny’s hungry now. Want to join us?”

“I’ll just head back to Dell. You two have a good meal.” Spencer stood up and brushed off his pants before he turned to leave.

“Please,” Danny asked, and he sounded a little broken.

Spencer turned back to look at him. Danny was looking at Spencer like he was a lifeline. He had no clue why Danny wanted him there. He was the outsider. He had not been there for anything and had no link to this at all. There was no way that Spencer could say no to him, though. Spencer knew that grief made one do weird things, and if he had attached himself to Spencer for the day, he could indulge in him in what he wanted.

“I brought my car,” Aaron said as he stood up. He held out his hand to help Danny up, and the man took that hand and smiled at Aaron as he did it. It wasn’t a wan smile, but it was a full one. Spencer knew that Danny had an extreme affection for Aaron and that Aaron was in love with Danny, but if this was what was holding Danny back, Spencer could very much understand why Danny was hesitant. A loss like Danny had taken, recently divorced, and then the death of his child would be a lot for anyone to handle. It was hard to take for Spencer, and he hadn’t lived it.

“Good, you can drive,” Danny said.

The car was filled with silence as Aaron drove them to a diner that was on the other side of town. It wasn’t something that made Spencer feel bad, though. It was like they were all trying to figure out where their heads were at. Spencer had thought that Draco and Harry and their wars they had fought in had been the worst of what had happened to their little group, but it seemed that someone else’s story was just as tragic. Danny just did a lot better at hiding when he was out and about. He figured that wallowing was no in his genetic make-up, so he buried those feelings most of the time, he was a private man. Spencer was as well, so he understood.

Spencer eyed the diner that they ended up at and frowned as it looked like something that he shouldn’t be going into and sitting inside of from the outside. He really hoped the inside looked nothing like it as it was a horrible looking little place. Aaron opened up the door and ushered Danny and Spencer inside. Spencer stopped as he got a good look of the area. It was immaculate inside like someone had just finished a top to bottom cleaning and the clientele inside looked nothing like what Spencer thought they would. He assumed it would be druggies and the like inside, but all looked like hard-working middle-class people. There were even a few cops inside, given the way that they watched the door and their posture.

“So?” Aaron asked as he stepped up between Spencer and Danny and flung an arm over each of their shoulders.

“It’s a very nice place. Looks nothing like what I thought given the exterior. I guess that helps prove ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.'”

“That’s what we thought the first time we found this place. It’s a cop bar of sorts. Yes, it’s a diner, but they have a liquor license and staff that are all ex-cops or military. Nearly all out on medical issues. No one touches this place,” Aaron said. He tightened his hold on their shoulders and directed them over to the corner booth that had a round seat and table. Danny got in first and then Aaron with leaving Spencer to take the last little area. Aaron and Danny were sitting closer than ordinary people would but not nearly as close as the whole of their group sat on a regular basis. Aaron looked up at Spencer with a smile on his face. It was Aaron’s way of saying that he was glad that Spencer was there.

Spencer didn’t know Danny well enough to know what he could get away with as far as comforting the man, so Spencer was glad that Aaron had shown up. Spencer looked at the menu when Aaron handed him one. Spencer frowned as the things were huge. It was a three-section, but two of those sections were front and back for five pages of a menu. There was two on breakfast and two on dinner, and the last was drinks, appetizers, and snacks. It was the weirdest spread of food that Spencer had ever seen before. There was literally a little bit of everything. There was even a Native American dish on the menu. Spencer figured it was a little bit of everyone who was around when it was opened up.

“Drinks?” a woman asked as she stepped up to the table. Her name was Cinder, which was a great name, Spencer thought.

“Teas for the table, sweet,” Aaron answered before Spencer could open his mouth. He turned to look at Aaron and glared a little. Aaron just smirked back.

“The coffee is not the greatest here,” Aaron said as Cinder left the table.

“Oh. Thanks.”

Aaron nodded and looked down at the menu. Spencer looked as well, actually paying attention to remember what the food was. He saw several things that he liked, one appetizer, two snacks, and two of the meals. He couldn’t decide which to do.

“So we have a ritual here,” Aaron said as he reached out to clear the condiments on the table back to the edge. “Everyone picks a single appetizer, a snack, and an entree, and we all share. The appetizers are actually small, and they will send out one of each for each person at the table. The snacks are bigger more like the appetizers at some restaurants. The meals are a decent size, and we will end up taking half of them home each.”

“That sounds good.”

“Good then pick one of each. If there are repeats, we will let you pick the other thing since you are new here.”

The next ten minutes were spent discussing each of the various food items, and Spencer figured out what Danny and Aaron didn’t like and didn’t pick any of those items. Aaron would eat and try anything, so if he didn’t like something, there was a reason. Spencer watched the people around the diner as he had figured out what he wanted to try and closed up his menu. Aaron took it from him and slotted it back where it had been in a holder that was between their booth and the one beside. The diner was pretty empty for the lateness of the afternoon. They were in between meals, and while Spencer had eaten lunch, it hadn’t been a big one.

Spencer jumped when his cell phone went off, saying that he had a text. Spencer dug around for where he had left it and saw that it was Tony who was covering an all-day shift with a suitable break in between as he was still a little weak from his chest cold that he had been allowed back to work from two weeks before. Spencer still worried about him a little bit, but he promised to stay away from the areas where grease was released into the area as well as a lot of steam.

“Hey, where did you go?” Aaron asked.

Spencer looked around and saw that Cinder was back and was waiting on his order. Spencer gave it up and watched as Danny’s face lit up at the meal that he had ordered. Aaron gave his next, and then it was Danny’s turn.

“And for my meal, Spencer, what was your second option?”

Spencer answered and watched as Cinder wrote it down.

“You picked Danny’s favorite meal as your meal, so you got your second choice as well,” Aaron said as he leaned over to bump his shoulder into Spencer’s. Spencer smiled at him. He kept an eye on Danny as Aaron leaned over to talk to him, hushed tones again. Spencer went back to mostly looking at everyone else inside of the diner. There was not a lot of people inside of there, but there was enough to keep him entertained as it seemed that Danny and Aaron were on a date with Spencer as a third wheel. He wasn’t as upset about that as he thought he would be. The two of them had been staying away from each other for weeks, never letting themselves be alone. Spencer could understand not wanting to be alone even if it was with someone you were connected with. Someone you had known for a long time could be just as dangerous if you were worried about doing something stupid. Aaron made stupid decisions a lot, and Spencer could see him going for his regular, comforting route and hopping into bed with Danny.

That was at least one thing that Steve and Seeley had over Aaron and Danny. The physical was good for them as it was what they had started out with. There were still some exciting as hell fights between those two, just thankfully no more naked ones. At least of the ones that Spencer had heard. He was sure that naked fighting but not the kind they would do outside of the apartment they were in. When Danny wasn’t there.

Spencer understood now why Steve and Seeley hadn’t wanted to kick Danny out of the apartment when Seeley had moved in with them. Spencer figured that Steve would always want to protect Danny and keep him close as long as possible. Spencer wouldn’t have let Aaron go anywhere if Aaron had lost a kid. Spencer knew that Aaron had wanted kids for a while but had given up on that a long time before and Spencer kind of figured out why. Aaron had fallen for a man who had lost a child, and there was no replacing a kid. Someone people who lost kids did well with moving on and having more or adopting, but there were some that never could. Danny it seemed was one of them.

Aaron had known that and he stayed around and waited for Danny to be ready for a relationship, to be ready to move on in that final way. Spencer knew that Aaron loved with all that he was, but this was something else. This was monumental, and he now understood why Aaron had never made that move and was waiting on Danny. Danny might never be ready, he might never want to take that last step, but Aaron was going to stay there and be the happiest that he could while being Danny’s best friend.

“Oh,” Spencer said as he looked at the food was being set down in front of them. It was just eh snacks and the appetizers, but it looked damned good. His mouth started to water. He reached out for the egg roll that was deconstructed into a wonton taco, and his stomach growled at the thought of getting that in there. Aaron and Danny laugh. Spencer looked at Danny and saw that he was going to be okay.

Spencer watched as Draco entered the bookstore. Spencer looked back outside from where he was looking out into the street area. He had no clue where Danny was, but he had promised to be there. Spencer wasn’t worried about that at all. This event had been hyped up in the month since Spencer and Danny’s agent had set it up. It was local, but a few people had come from a long distance away to meet with the elusive D.W. Daniels and Draconis.

Danny had come to him the day after the third wheel date that he had gone on with Danny and Aaron.

“He’ll be here,” Aaron said as he stepped up behind Spencer.

Danny and James had brought out the best for suits for Danny and Draco. Danny had been around that morning to help Spencer set up before Dell of Riven had opened. There had been an uptick in families coming and looking around before settling outside where the event was going to be. The whole of the center area of the building was set up with those who wanted to take pictures being up on the second floor open space eating places. The sound system that was used for events like this was great and allowed for good telegraphing of words all around the space. It was an excellent setup. Minerva was up on the second floor, looking down with her afternoon tea spread out in front of her. She would watch but not participate. She liked to watch the kids.

Spencer had caught her in the store during storytime listening to the kids. Spencer learned that she missed the kids but not the teaching part of working in the boarding school that she worked in for many years before retiring. Spencer nodded at her and Minerva nodded back.

“Hey,” Aaron said, drawing Spencer’s head back to where he was.

“Hey, I know Danny will be here. He doesn’t need to be until right before it starts. It’s not like this is scripted. He’ll get here when he gets here.”

“You are normally more upset when things aren’t ready half an hour before.” Aaron flung an arm over Spencer’s shoulder and cuddled in close to his side. Staff from Café Americain started to flood out getting the snacks and drinks ready. There would a staff member at each table watching to make sure that no one touched the food and messed with it. Spencer wanted nothing to go wrong, for Danny’s sake.

“I’ve learned with some times to let go. This will be a good day, no matter what happens.” Spencer smiled as he watched Danny leave Café Americain with Steve behind him. Steve was as dressed up as he got for regular working days that were not in a courtroom. Aaron was dressed much the same. It was nice seeing Aaron so relaxed after being strung taut for a month. Spencer hadn’t asked about it because when Spencer seemed like he was going to, Aaron changed the subject. Spencer let him have his privacy on it all.

“Food is ready. The sparkling juices are ready to pour. Let’s get this party started!” Tony said as he held open the door so that Spencer could head out. Spencer was sponsoring the event along with the rest of the businesses in the building, but Tony was taking the lead on everything.

The next five hours were chaos but the fun kind with the kids all enjoying themselves, meeting one of their favorite authors and one of their favorite artists. Draco was busy the whole time at the art station where Draco was either drawing weird creatures out of the kids’ names or helping the kids draw their own images. Danny got tense a few times, but that was only when a kid wanted a hug.

The event was winding down. Spencer was standing up at the top of the stairs that led down from the bookstore to the ground, and he was watching as Danny wrapped up with the last kid and Draco chased off kids that seemed to want to just stay. Spencer could understand that. He remembered as a child never wanting to leave things like this. He enjoyed being around other kids, even if they weren’t as smart as them.

“Thank you,” Aaron said as he stepped up behind Spencer, caging him by grabbing the metal bars on either side of where Spencer was standing.

Spencer started to turn around, but Aaron stepped even closer, pressing his body to Spencer’s. It was an intimate position, but Spencer didn’t feel it like he used to when Aaron did something like this.

“Danny wanted to do this,” Spencer said.

“Yes, but you have allowed him to do it how he wanted, with what he wants, and never questioned it, even if something was insane to your very rigid mind.”

“You act like I don’t have a degree in psychology, Aaron. I know that grief is never handled by two people the same way. You handle it one way while everyone else is different. He’s recovering slowly by medical standards, and part of that is because everyone here shelters him, but he’s recovering at the pace that works for him. This is just one giant step for him.”

“Thank you all for coming,” Tony said as he stepped back into the throng. The crowd was just as big as it had been when they had started the event, and that made Spencer happy. “Our host, Dell of Riven Books and Oddities, would like to thank you for coming and enjoying a Saturday in the plaza. There is one last thing that we are going to be doing, and then you can all get home.”

“Spencer?” Aaron asked. He let go of the railing and stepped around to settle in beside Spencer.

The itinerary for the whole day had been done, and there was nothing left. This was something that Spencer and Tony had cooked up to show Danny that Spencer understood and he agreed with the man on things.

“The Gracie & Danno books have been worldwide best sellers for years. The owner of Dell of Riven, Spencer Reid, spent last night going over all of his logs of books sold. He’s figured out how much money he has made off of the Gracie & Danno books. Mister Reid has cut a check for that amount to the same charities that Mister Williams and Mister Malfoy put their earnings from the books to and every month going here forward each of the books that he sells, he will match his profits by triple and donate that as well. My restaurant, Café Americain, will be adding a dessert that our pastry chef and Danny create and all of the profits from it will be going as well with me matching triple as well.”

There was a lot of cheering, and Spencer watched as several parents came over to the donation booth and dropped some money. One little girl even dug into her tiny purple purse and dug out all of her change and dropped it into the cup there. Harry was the one managing that table just to make sure that no one tried to take any.

“You, Spencer Reid, are a treasure that is rarely seen in the world nowadays.”

“I know. You lost your chance to snag me though,” Spencer was grinning as he said the words. Aaron laughed, and it was something from down in his gut. There was something in Aaron’s eyes. Something really happy. It was really nice to see Aaron so happy.

Spencer’s employees started to come out of the bookstore who had arrived to do clean up. Spencer was giving them overtime hours to clean up as Spencer and Tony had a date. There was a swanky new place in town and Tony made Spencer book a reservation there for them so he could see how they measured up to his Café Americain. Spencer was willing to indulge Tony in his minor paranoia as he understood that part of how Tony stayed on top was the fact that he kept his eye on other places.

“This was awesome, Spencer. Thank you for being you and doing this for him.”

“I would have done it for anyone, but I had to make it extra special because he is yours. Don’t try and push that off. He’s yours in all the ways that matter, and you know it. You two will go around like this for the rest of your days.”

“I don’t know, he’s been different. I think that things are changing and you were the cause of it.”

“How?” Spencer turned to where he was looking entirely at Aaron.

“Since that day where you and he went to Grace’s grave.”

“No one else calls her Gracie.”

“It was something that Steve started after hearing about her. It’s kind of like…his nickname for her. We all don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. You have a date to get ready for so I’m going to leave you and work on getting things corralled down there. Morgan has it in hand, but I think that he needs help.”

“Quit picking on my store manager!” Spencer yelled, but Aaron just waved at him, dismissive little flapping of his hand over his shoulder but the yelling got Derek’s attention and the man just glared at Aaron as he walked over to him. Those two got along, but there was a lot of antagonism between them. Derek hadn’t been happy with Spencer when he had started the relationship with the man, and he had sworn that Aaron was going to hurt him, but Aaron never had. Things had ended on their own with them both moving on past what brought them together.

“Going my way, beautiful?” Tony said from behind Spencer.

“Well, bless me, I think I am,” Spencer said a very fake southern accent, adding a little breathiness to it. The smile that Tony put on his face was something that Spencer didn’t think that he would ever tire of. He waited for Tony to hold out his hand before he pushed off the railing to walk toward his lover. “Thank you for today. I do okay with small crowds of kids with a few parents but this…I would have stumbled over myself with this whole thing.”

“I teach cooking classes on occasion, this is nothing. These people were here for fun. I criticize cooks and tell them what they are doing wrong, and they have knives. This was nothing at all.” Tony was smiling, but he looked a little worn out.

“We have enough time before the reservation at Neon. So why don’t we finish that movie we were watching? We can change our clothes after to make sure that we look our dashing best.”

“That sounds better than walking around the strip and window shopping because that never works at all. We always end up with packages.” Tony wrapped an arm around Spencer and tucked himself int Spencer instead of the other way around. It was very nice. Spencer allowed Tony to lead though and he wasn’t shocked when they arrived at Tony’s place and not Spencer. Over the past month, they had been spending more time at Tony’s instead of Spencer’s. Spencer had no care where they went as long as they went together.

Tony’s couch was soft and nice, so Spencer set the alarm on his phone to give them an hour before they needed to leave for the reservation before they settled in. He figured that at least Tony would take a short nap after getting up early to get things ready for the event. Spencer would probably fall asleep not long after.

“I’m sorry, Mister Reid. There was a glitch in the system, and it seems that we gave away your reserved table. We have nothing open for at least an hour,” the Hostess Gail said as she typed on the tablet that was running the tables. “I can see where you reserved the table, and I also see where someone else did and that should not be possible. No one caught it. If you would like to wait, I’ll gladly set you up at the bar with a few free drinks on the house.”

“No, it’s okay,” Spencer said. He would rather just go elsewhere and make a reservation for another day. He was sure that she would slip into a table that wouldn’t be ready. Spencer would hate for this to color Tony’s view of the place, even though it was going to. Eating after this kind of mess up would just make it all worse.

“Gail,” Aaron said from behind her. Spencer looked to see that he was in a suit and it wasn’t one of his court suits. It was one of his fancy dress dates suits.

“Mister Hotchner,” Gail said as she turned around.

“They can join Danny and me at our table. You put us at the four-person table because the two-person was very dirty when it shouldn’t have been. It will be fine.”

“Oh, Mister Hotchner, I can’t impose on you like that.”

“It will be no imposition. Will it Spencer? Tony?” Aaron was giving them both a very heated look, and it was meant to make her think that something else was going on more than just them going on a date.

“Not at all,” Tony said. “I think that it will be a delight to go on a double date.”

“If you are all sure?” Gail asked.

“Yes,” Spencer said.

Gail slumped like a huge weight had been lifted off of her. It seemed that there were a few glitches in the first week of being open for Neon and she was probably getting the brunt of the ire of everyone. Spencer gave her a smile as she handed off menus to Aaron when he held out his hand. Aaron gave a little half-bow and pointed them in the correct direction as if they couldn’t see Danny at one of the tables on the far side of the room. Danny was also dressed for a date.

“Are you sure, Aaron?” Spencer asked as he fell back a little, so he and Aaron were closer.

“Very much so. This should be simple between him and me, and it’s not. We both don’t know what to talk about, and we’ve already lapsed into silence.”

“How did you get a reservation here?”

“I think that I’ll leave that to be the surprise of the night.” Aaron was grinning as he said it.

“Fine then,” Spencer said.

Tony grabbed Spencer’s chair and directed him into it. Spencer waited for Tony to start to push the chair in before he settled down. Aaron did the same for Tony with a grin. Tony laughed but allowed it. Aaron pressed a kiss to Danny’s cheek before he walked over to take his seat next to Spencer. Spencer picked up Aaron’s wine and took a sip just as a waiter came over with plates and glasses for Tony and Spencer.

“So, Tony, you’ve told me who the owner is but you’ve never mentioned who the chef is,” Spencer said as he waited for his wine glass to be filled from the same bottle that Aaron and Danny were drinking from.

“That’s because it’s all very hush-hush and word on the street is that there is a silent partner in all of it. It’s why I’m so interested-” Tony stopped as an appetizer tray was settled in the center of the table.

Spencer looked at the large flower made with sushi rolls covered in eel sauce. He knew exactly what those were, and he knew exactly who made them. Spencer looked at Aaron and shoved at him. Aaron laughed and toasted Spencer with his wine glass.

“Spencer?” Tony asked.

“There probably isn’t a silent owner at all but someone else who has been playing a very large trick on you. The owner is Jake Durham, and he and Aaron go back to college together. This is one of the dishes that he makes for Aaron every single time that he eats at one of his places.”

“Durham has stuck to the East Coast before now.”

“Yes, well his new husband lives here, and so he wants to set up a place here and leave the others to his chefs and managers to run,” Aaron said.

“And you helped him with start-up money,” Tony said. He didn’t look upset at all more amused.

“Yes, I do with all of his places. I make money fist over hand with him places. Today has been a mess up, but they had a busboy quit just before service, so they have two untested ones cleaning tables, and they are slower and then their software was upgraded right before service, and it’s made a mess of things. Automatic updates are supposed to be turned off, but somehow that got turned back on.”

“Yeesh, I’ve had my booking software do that before. I got on the phone with them after the service was over and made them pay for the free shit that I had to give away to make people happy.”

“Yes, well, it’s not good for the business, but I figure that you’ll understand and keep that obvious in the review.” Aaron was giving Tony a look.

“Review?” Spencer asked. He looked between Aaron and Tony.

“There is a collective of restaurant chefs and owners that give real reviews of places. They keep things like this in mind when they give reviews. It’s honest, and no one knows who is who, but I know that Tony is one as I have been his date to places before.”

“The food will be the main decider as always, but we are always honest with everything. It helps a few other people figure out what not to do and to do. It’s not meant to be harsh, just something without those stupid newspapers reviews who don’t know a bisque from a broth. If Jake does well, he’ll be added to it. Though I don’t see why he won’t. Glitches aside.”

Tony was the first to grab a set of chopsticks to pick up a roll and pop it into his mouth. Aaron handed over a fork that was on his side of the plate, and Spencer covertly flipped him off, making Aaron laugh at him. Spencer though picked up the chopsticks and deftly picked up a roll.

“Look at you!” Aaron said, laughing.

“I made him learn using threats of no sex,” Tony said.

“That’s good because I couldn’t teach him at all.”

“How are you feeling?” Tony asked as he looked at Danny.

Danny looked a little off, but Spencer figured that was the start to what seemed to be a date between him and Aaron.

“Today was good. I…think I said goodbye to her. She’ll always be my Monkey, but she’s at peace in my mind. This was the perfect way to do it.” Danny looked at Aaron as he said the last bit, and Aaron gave him a supportive smile. Danny laid his hand down on the table, and Aaron took it. He changed his chopsticks to his other hand and fumbled the first bite.

The conversations turned to ordinary things, and the more they all talked, the calmer that Danny got. He and Aaron never broke their hands apart though. It was kind of cute to see it. They closed the place down, staying until the waiters and waitresses kept on staring at them. Their table was cleared off, so they weren’t waiting on dishes, and the only thing that needed to be done was the table cloth taken off.

“Okay, you freeloaders, out with you.”

Tony’s head whipped over to look a the man who spoke. Jake was still in his chef’s coat even though it was now unbuttoned. He was smiling as he walked to the table.

“Oh, Spencer!” Jake started to move faster to the table and didn’t even give Spencer a chance to stand up. He pulled Spencer up out of his seat and into a hug. Spencer hugged him back and was glad that Jake didn’t try and kiss him on the cheek like he usually did. Jake turned to look at the Tony. “You must be Spencer’s, Tony.”

“I am.” Tony stood up to shake Jake’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Spencer has said nothing about you.”

“Why would he? Aaron’s the only thing that connects us, and Aaron wanted to keep it a surprise that I was opening a place here. I think there was a reservation in Aaron’s name for Tuesday with Spencer as his plus one to surprise him. I was also going to make gumbo and chicory coffee that night.”

Spencer looked at Aaron, who was looking up and grinning. It was his way to telling Spencer that he was planning no such thing and lying about it.

“You Aaron Hotchner are a menace,” Spencer said.

“And you love me, anyway.”

Danny yawned, his jaw cracking as he did, making Spencer look at him. Danny looked worn out.

“Aaron, why don’t you get Danny to bed?” Spencer said, waggling his eyebrows a little bit.

“Yes, I think that I need to get him into his bed. Jake, our waitress, never dropped off a check.”

“I think it got a little bit lost. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere.”

“Jake,” Aaron said.

“Look, how about this. I change your reservation to fifteen, that’s how many are living in your building now, right?”

“Yes,” Spencer answered.

“Have them all come over. I’ll do a chef’s choice menu for the table. Everyone can share things. I have the room on Tuesday as I just had a table cancel that was twenty because the one hosting it got pulled out of town for work. Come and eat good food, hang out.”

Aaron looked at Danny, who nodded. Tony and Spencer did as well.

“Great. I’ll let you all figure out the bill that night. First, three bottles of wine are on me, though.”

“Sounds like fun,” Aaron said. He held out his arm, and Danny stepped up to tuck himself into his body. They turned and left without another word.

Spencer looked at Tony.

“Want a tour?” Jake asked, looking at Spencer, but his eyes darted toward Tony. That told Spencer that Jake knew exactly who Tony was.

“Sure.” Tony did pull his wallet out and laid a hundred on the table for the staff. The busgirl who was there pounced on the table to finish turning over it so they could leave.

“The staff knew you would be staying late, Aaron seldom leaves before we close at my places. They were having fun watching you four. They are making bets on exactly what the hell your relationships are. I will tell you that.”

“We are all a lot closer than friends, but almost none of us have been lovers,” Tony said.

“Yes, well, Gail thinks you four are in a sexual relationship.” Jake opened up the door to the kitchen and waved them both inside. There was steel everywhere.

Spencer looked around a kitchen that screamed that it was new. The layout was much the same as Tony’s, but there wasn’t a lot to change as far as restaurant interiors went for setup. Spencer hung back and let Jake and Tony walk around and talk about the various bits of technology and hand crank machines that made for good food. He settled on a chair that was at a table and watched his lover move around the room. He figured that Jake and Tony could become really good friends. Tony could talk about food with Jake. He did well on food talk with Harry, but Harry wasn’t at deep into food, but he would listen and try anything.

A cookbook was on the table beside him, so Spencer picked it up and settled in with it. He looked through it slowly before he picked up the paper and pen that was beside it. He went through page by page and marked down the ingredients that were for each meal, outside of oil, water, milk, and the like. Spices went onto their own page.

“He’s easy to entertain,” Jake said as he nudged at Spencer.

“I’ve never seen him do that,” Tony said. He turned Spencer’s notepad to look at it. “I guess maybe I should leave him with my cookbooks more.”

“Aaron took him out to New York for a weekend. He and I got into discussing a new location for a place down in Florida, and Spencer checked out. He went through my restaurant recipe book and did this. I wondered if he would do the same if I left it. He found the most used spice in the book as well as the top vegetable and meat. It was interesting as hell to see it. You don’t pay attention like that. To things like that. He figured out a spice that was only used in a single dish as well as a slight tweak in two other spices and ti would be close enough to the same and it was something that I wouldn’t have to buy and keep on stock. He also helped me go through the figures for all of my places and find dishes that were not doing as well as they could but enough to keep on the menu and get them up a little more with a change.”

“Really?” Tony asked as he looked at Spencer.

“I asked you if you wanted help with your spring menu,” Spencer said with a grin.

“You never brought this up.”

“Look, I would love to keep on entertaining you, but I need to sleep before we open tomorrow.”

“No, it’s fine. We have stayed long past when we should be here.” Spencer left the notebook where it had been and slipped off of the seat.

Tony held out his hand and pulled Spencer into him. It was nice being tucked into him. Now that Spencer had realized it was late, he felt the tiredness slipping into him. Tony had planned for them drinking a little more, so they had planned on taking a cab home.

“You are cuddly when you are sleepy,” Tony whispered into Spencer’s ear. Spencer hummed his agreeance on that. “Oh, hey, Jake.” Tony turned them both to look at Jake, who was getting ready to lock them out the front door.

“Yes?” Jake asked.

“There is a chef battle we do next month. It’s for charity. We do it at the stadium, big screen type thing. We raise money for charity, but the charity isn’t named until the winner is as it’s their charity choice. The sign-ups and stuff are over, but we’ve slotted in new people before. Get ahold of Grant Nero at the paper. Tell him I pushed you his way. He’ll get you squared up.”

“That sounds good. It’ll be good publicity.”

“Yes, it is.” Tony gave him a smile as the door was shut.

Spencer heard the tumbler on the door and knew that it was locked. He heard a car pull up. Tony was the first to turn around, letting go of Spencer to get a good look at whoever was behind them.

“Cab for Doctor Reid?” someone called out.

Spencer saw it was the high-end taxi that had not questionable seats. He smiled as he saw that it was the same driver that usually picked up Spencer and Aaron when they went out places and didn’t want to drive. Aaron had probably given the name to Jake.

“So what do you know of his husband?” Tony asked as they got settled into the back seat.

“Thomas Wilkes,” Spencer said. Jake and Thomas had been together for years, but Thomas has been a flighty kite as Jake has called him. I can’t believe that Jake finally got him to walk down it aisle, even if it was just to a justice of the peace.”

“What’s he do?”

“He’s a writer. He writes a little bit of everything and writes under several names. Aaron reads his books and has since they met. They all had some random classes together in college. There was another, but Aaron’s always been a little cagey on his name.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him when he calls him. He’s always a little cagey.”

“I figure that whoever it is, wants their privacy.” Spencer turned a little and laid his head down on Tony’s shoulder to relax some. Tony reached up and started to massage Spencer’s scalp. “Hey, that’s gonna put me to sleep.”

“I know.”

“Meanie,” Spencer whispered.

The trip home was quick, but Spencer was pretty sure that was because he did fall asleep on Tony’s shoulder. He stumbled in with Tony to the private elevator and made sure that he didn’t trip, but that was about the extent of his participation in getting them to Tony’s place. The private elevator was the one that opened up on Aaron’s side of the building. While the area was safe during the day and there were cameras, this late at night it was safer to get inside as soon as possible.

“Whoa,” Tony said.

“What?” Spencer opened up his eyes to see that Aaron and Danny were leaning against Aaron’s door, and they were seriously making out. Danny had Aaron pressed into the door. It was seriously hot to watch. Spencer watched for several more minutes before he cleared his throat.

“Move it on, Reid!” Aaron called out before he pulled Danny back in.

“Come on,” Tony said with a smile in his voice.

“I’m sure we will see them doing it more at a later time.” Spencer smiled as he turned away from the spectacle and toward the way toward Tony’s apartment.

“Oh, hey, house moving party this weekend!” Danny called out.

“Yeah, who is moving who?” Tony called back.

“I’m moving in with Aaron,” Danny answered.

“Finally! The mooning was too much!” Tony was laughing as he said it.

There was laughter from the new couple, and Spencer was happy for them both. He wanted Aaron happy, not just happy but the happiest that he could be. He would be the happiest with Danny in his life. Danny would be better with Aaron in his life more as well. It was a good give and take, and it would be good for both of them. Spencer was happy that they had finally got it together. That Danny had healed well enough to want to move on and be his happiest.

Spencer was looking forward to that day for himself as well.

The End

I write fanfiction for fun. It’s a hobby and a stress relief. I refuse to stress over my writing. What you see is what you get. Errors, plot holes, and all. Thank you for reading my story!

I can be found on MeWe here, join me there and we can discuss my fics and whatnot.

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