Meant To Be

Title: Meant To Be
Ratings: Explicit
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Category: M/M
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner
Tags: Alternate Universe, Shifter, First Time
Summary: Aaron was pretty sure that the hedgehog bleeding in his backyard was a Shifter. He just wasn’t sure why it was still pretending not to be after weeks.
Words: 25,007
Year: 2009 (Season 4/5)
Spoilers: Up Through Season 5
Notes: None
Beta: Grammarly
Gift For: NimueOfTheNorth

Aaron Hotchner stepped outside for the first of two weeks off of work. It was a really nice day out so far, and it was only eight am. Aaron had been working cases non-stop, and he needed the break. Jack was off of school for the summer, so that was really nice. Jack was asleep still, and Aaron was pleased. They had stayed up late since neither of them technically had a bedtime. Aaron had woke up at his normal time, drinking an extra two cups of coffee while Jack was sleeping in.

Breakfast was ready for Jack when he did wake up. Aaron wanted to read the paper on his front porch and enjoy the sun and the light breeze that was flowing through the area. Aaron bent down to pick up his paper when he saw the trail of blood. It wasn’t a large smear like one would get with a human, but it was one that was worrying enough. They were just at the edge of some wooded areas in McLean, so sometimes there were issues with wild animals. Even normally, docile animals could react if they were in pain and hurt. Aaron picked up the paper and rolled it up to use as a weapon if he needed.

There was also the niggling at the back of his mind that it could be a Shifter. There was always that presence in the world, and while Aaron was not one, Aaron had grown up with a few. One who was a rat at that. It blew Aaron’s mind back then, and it still did that Humans could shift into animals that small. About half of the world’s population were Shifters according to the last census. Some countries had higher concentrations while others had lower. Depending on the government’s stance on them.

Aaron followed the blood trail around the house. He stopped at the fence that kept the backyard separate and found blood on a set of the links to tell him that the creature or Shifter had gone through the gate. Aaron was happy that Jack wasn’t awake. While the creature seemed small, some of the small ones were vicious. Aaron opened the gate just enough for him to slip inside and shut it again. It wasn’t going to keep the creature anywhere, but it would help make sure Jack couldn’t sneak up on him.

“Hotch,” a male voice called out.

Aaron turned to see that it was his newest neighbor, a man named George, who had moved in a few weeks before. He was gone a lot, so Aaron kept a check on his doors, and stuff and the man didn’t care if Jack played in his backyard as long as he didn’t tear it up.

“There is a manhunt going on for a serial killer who attacked a Federal Agent yesterday. There is not a lot being released except for the agent’s picture at the moment.”

“I’ll get online and look. Thanks for the heads up.”

“It happened here. In McLean,” George said.

“Then, I will make sure to keep Jack close. Any word on the serial killer?”

“His face was released as well. Someone that was called the Boston Reaper.”

Aaron remembered that case. He had looked at it hard given that he was the highest Deputy District Attorney for the area they were in. It was a mess up that couldn’t be really helped given what was known at the time. Aaron figured that it was one of the BAU that the Reaper had gone after. Aaron looked into his backyard. It was strange given the animal that was hurt but the agent being a Shifter would be released, and George would have said that. It wasn’t a piece of information that was easy to forget.

George got into his car and drove off, probably morning meetings about the trips that he took and such. Aaron kept on going deeper into the backyard, following the slight trail of the creature he was hunting. It went right to the back of the property where there was thick foliage from Aaron’s garden. Aaron took pride in working it every weekend, and one of Jack’s chores during the week was watering the plants every night before bed. Aaron got to his knees and lifted up the large elephant ear leaf of one of the flowering plants and saw the hedgehog that was cowering at the base of the plant. Aaron knew then that the hedgehog was a Shifter. It made no noise at all and was trying not to look him in the eye.

“Hey, little guy, come on out.” Aaron gently laid the leaf down, so the movement didn’t startle the poor thing. There was a small rise of Anti-Shifter rhetoric in the area, so Aaron figure he had been attacked in human form and moved to animal form to get away better. Smaller was better in the middle of the night. Aaron stripped off his shirt and laid it down on the ground. He slowly pushed it under. Aaron had no clue where the little guy was injured, so he didn’t want to hurt him by trying to pick him up. Once Aaron got past the fear that was in the Shifter, plus the pain, Aaron knew that he would be able to coax the little guy out. Aaron lifted up the leaf again and saw that the hedgehog was watching him with a very, very close eye. Never looking in his eyes but watching him. “I’m not gonna hurt you. Just come onto my shirt, and I can take you inside where it’s safe.”

Aaron waited to see if the hedgehog was going to move, but it didn’t. There was a stubborn glint to his eye, though. Aaron had no clue why he thought the Shifter was male, but he did. Aaron watched as the Shifter look at him for a split second in the eye and Aaron was able to see that the fear was going away, but there was a pinched look to his face that said he was in a lot of pain.

“I can help with the pain,” Aaron said. That made the Shifter look at Aaron even more. “I have lessons on first aid, and I have a friend who does house calls and is a Shifter doctor.”

The hedgehog moved then, getting out from under the area where he was and moving. Aaron saw that his left leg was injured. It was the source of the blood. The little guy wasn’t moving it at all, and there was just enough light getting through that Aaron could see the puddle of blood under it. It didn’t seem to be bleeding as much, it was probably the dew in the yard that had kept it bleeding like it had been.

Aaron watched as the hedgehog looked at the shirt for a second before getting on, and then he plopped himself right into the middle of the shirt. He was nearly dead center. Just another little fact that helped Aaron know that it was a Shifter. Aaron carefully picked up each corner of the shirt before he lifted it up off of the ground. There was a squeak of pain when the hedgehog was fully suspended by the shirt.

“Sorry. I’m so sorry.” Aaron knew there was nothing that could be done for it. There was no way to move him without pain this way. Aaron’s gait was slow and soft as he walked into his house. He settled the hedgehog down on the kitchen counter. Aaron was gentle again, and the squeak wasn’t nearly as bad, but still, it made Aaron’s heart clench. Aaron grabbed one of the dishes that they used to put ketchup in. It was a wide but shallow bowl that the hedgehog could drink water out of. Aaron filled it with cool water from the tap and settled int on the shirt in front of the hedgehog. He had no clue what to do now.

Aaron walked over and grabbed his cell phone where he had set it by the coffee pot. He hadn’t wanted to have a call interrupt his newspaper reading time, so he had left it in the kitchen. Which was a good thing in this case. He looked at the hedgehog, which was licking at the water slowly as he texted Samantha. She lived a block over, and they had gone on a disastrous date once when Jack was a baby. They had stayed friends after that. Aaron didn’t tell her anything other than he had a Shifter in distress and needed her and whatever she needed to work on someone in Shifter form.

The text came back quickly that she would be there as soon as possible. Aaron grabbed a fresh cup and poured himself some coffee in it. He tried to relax but he couldn’t. He was waiting for the sounds of Jack to wake up so he could waylay the boy so that he didn’t try and touch the hedgehog.

Aaron found that the hedgehog was not resting either. While he was pretty still, his head was moving all of the time, checking on Aaron more often than he was doing anything else. Aaron decided to move to make sure that the hedgehog could see him better. He found that the hedgehog didn’t relax too much, but he did keep Aaron in his sights at all times now that Aaron was where he could be seen better. The knock on his front door came at the same time that Aaron heard Jack’s feet land on the floor in his bedroom. Aaron walked over and settled his coffee cup down on the counter before going to the door.

“Hello,” Aaron said.

“Where is he? She?” Samantha asked.

“He, I think, is in the kitchen.”

“What’s wrong with him?”

“His leg is injured. I don’t know what. I don’t know how. I followed a trail of blood from my front yard to the back, but with the dew heavy this morning, the blood smear could look worse than what it was.”

“Yes, that can.”

Aaron looked at the shirt as he walked into the kitchen but found that the hedgehog was not on it.

“Umm, Aaron?”

“He can’t have got far,” Aaron said as he looked for the hedgehog. He tried to spot blood but stopped when he heard Samantha laughing. Aaron turned back to look at her to see where she was looking. She was looking at his coffee cup, which the hedgehog was standing up on one leg in front f and drinking out it.

“I think that you are going to have issues with leaving your coffee around him.” Samantha walked over to where the hedgehog was, and it seemed that he noticed her for the first time. He dropped down and moved backward as fast as his injured body could take him. Samantha stopped walking toward him then.

“It’s okay,” Aaron said as he walked over to him. He didn’t even hesitate to pick up the hedgehog and settle him in the crook of his arm with his injured leg protected. “This is Samantha, she’s a friend of mine and a doctor. She will take care of you.”

“I think maybe it’s best if we leave him in your arms while I do this. Let’s get him on his back and see what we have going on.” Samantha dug around in the bag as she set it down on the kitchen table. Aaron walked over to where she was and sat down. He reached down with his free hand to try and turn the hedgehog over but found that it was growling at him and then bit him. Aaron reached down and petted him next. Not going to the front but just rubbing a few fingers down his head and his back but stopping about halfway down that. Aaron heard Jack’s footsteps and then the sudden cessation of them.


“It’s okay Jack. I’m fine. I just found a hedgehog in the backyard that’s a little injured. Samantha is just looking at him.”

“Oh, cool. Can we keep him?” Jack moved to where he could look.

Samantha opened her mouth, but Aaron shook his head.

“I’m sure that he belongs to someone, so Samantha is going to make sure that word gets out that we have him here.” Aaron hoped that Samantha understood what Aaron was saying with is his eyes. She nodded her head.

Aaron focused on the hedgehog again to find that it was cuddled down into him. Aaron quickly but gently rolled the hedgehog over onto his back before he could react.

“Well, it’s a boy.”

“Can I watch?” Jack asked.

“Get your breakfast, it’s in the oven, and you can sit at the table and watch as long as you eat.” Aaron watched as Jack carefully got into the oven with mitts on his hands and grabbed his plate of food and took the foil off before walking over to the table with it. There was a glass of juice and of milk already in the fridge. Jack grabbed those next. He started to eat before he looked up the first time to see what was going on.

Which really wasn’t that much as Samantha was still just looking him over.

“He’s healing fast, but given the damage to this injury, he was hurt pretty bad.” Samantha looked up at Aaron, and that said there was a lot more to it than that. Aaron nodded that he understood. “I’ll have to splint the leg for a little while, and he shouldn’t walk that much on it. I have a sling made to carry small animals like this in my car. I’ll go and get it once I get him all cleaned up.”

“I’m going to call him Hedgie,” Jack said.

Aaron smiled. Jack had been wanting a pet besides the Betta fish that he had. Aaron figured the fish was an excellent first pet, and it had been, but now Jack wanted a dog. Or a Sugar Glider. Aaron was thinking about the Sugar Glider for Jack. It was a different pet, but Aaron figured that it would cuddle him more than a dog would and would be less work in the long run. The price wasn’t an issue as Aaron had more than enough money to where he could quit, and they would still be set for life. Aaron had invested the trust funds that he had well, and they made him more money than he earned in a year. So Aaron mostly lived off of the money he made as a Deputy District attorney but touched the trust fund money for the bigger things. He donated a good bit, but there was always that whisper at the back of his mind that he needed to make sure that Jack was taken care of.

Haley had left Aaron and Jack when she had wanted something more than to be the wife of a lawyer. She had wanted to Ritz and prestige of a husband in politics. It was two months after Jack was born that she had left him for someone else. He had come home after a day in court to find Jack in bed asleep and all of Haley’s things gone. Aaron had called the cops as soon as he realized. The security company was more than willing to give the time for the last activation of the system. She had left Jack for four hours in bed. Aaron assumed he cried himself to sleep. He had a soiled diaper and the start of a rash from that. Everything was documented, and one of the assistant DAs took the case over from Aaron. It had been near societal suicide for Haley as no one wanted to touch her. She was dragged through the papers. Aaron had ended up with sole custody of Jack, and while Haley’s parents and sister were allowed for visits, Haley was not. Haley had tried once when she found a man who wanted kids to get shared custody but the courts had denied her as Jack was not a plaything that could be put on a shelf and taken off again when needed.

Aaron was a firm believer in the court system. He couldn’t be anything but and still hold true to his job. Aaron had the best conviction rate in the area, but it wasn’t because he won every single case, it was because he made sure to the best that he could that he went after those who were actually guilty. Aaron had blinders on some people, but he did his best to serve lady justice. He had a sharp learning curve in his first few years, but after that, he was given the harder cases that required a lot of work to make sure they were doing what was right. Aaron believed that the judge who was presiding over the case of abuse from Haley would see through the tears on her face as she cried about being separated from her baby.

“Hey, hey,” Samantha said, pulling Aaron from his thoughts. He looked down to see the hedgehog was wiggling as she tried to give him a shot.

Aaron pushed her hand away and looked at the needle. There was no label, so he looked at the vial on the table. It was an antibiotic. He looked to see that Jack wasn’t paying that close of attention anymore.

“Do you have another one? Another kind? Maybe he’s allergic?” Aaron whispered.

“Oh, yeah this has beta-lactams in it. I’ll grab something else.” She capped the syringe and tossed it into a sharps bag that was in her medical kit and grabbed something else. Aaron saw another vial on the table with a mild narcotic in it. Samantha said the name of the antibiotic and the hedgehog settled down. He allowed the injection and then curled into Aaron. “Hey, I have one more shot to give you.”

The hedgehog growled and didn’t uncurl. Aaron saw that his leg was all taken care of, and he wasn’t nearly as bloody as he had been.

“Is there like something else that he can be given? Over the counter. If he was attacked, he’s not going to want to be drugged up no matter how much he feels safe here.”

“Yeah, thankfully Shifters metabolize things the same in whatever form they are, meaning if you dose him for his human size, it won’t hurt him in this size. We just gotta figure out his size. The same goes for food. He can eat pretty much anything.”

“Yeah, I’ll work on that and then what, give him the pills to swallow?” Aaron asked.

“Yeah, I’ll leave a manual here for you on helping Shifters in animal form.” Samantha looked at the time, and she grimaced. “I’ve got to go. You have my information. I’ll leave that book and a bottle of smaller Advil for him. It will help with swelling and stuff. Jack, it was good to see you, but I’ve gotta go.”

“Bye, Sam!” Jack called out and waved as Samantha packed up, setting a few things down on the table.

“I’ll call and check on you later.” Samantha was gone with those parting words.

Aaron looked down at the hedgehog before he reached over to grab the sling. He slipped it over his shoulder and then carefully moved the hedgehog into it. It was perfect for the size of him. Aaron watched him for a minute before he got up. He had thrown some eggs, hash browns, and bacon in the fridge that had been extra. He had thought about using it in a casserole for the next day as well as making some more. He grabbed those and popped them into the microwave before getting another cup of coffee for himself and looking at the coffee that the hedgehog had drunk from. He got some of it out and put it in a bowl like the water. He set up a whole big area for the hedgehog on the counter. Moving things around to where he had his own space for now to eat and such.

When the microwave dinged, Aaron pulled the food out and made sure it wasn’t too warm but wasn’t cold. He held out a piece of bacon to the hedgehog, and it curled it’s front paws around it and pulled the piece in to gnaw on. Aaron watched as the hedgehog ate. There was no indication that he was afraid that Aaron was going to take his food. He had no clue why the hedgehog trusted him as much as he did. Aaron grabbed the plate as well as the two cups of coffee before walking into the living room. He settled on the couch and made sure the hedgehog was comfortable before he reached out to grab the lap desk and then his laptop. He brought up the local news website which should have all of the information needed on this missing FBI agent. It seemed like a simple case of the agent being taken hostage by what they call an UnSub. There was no mention of him being a Shifter, but there was a statement about him being injured.

Aaron read between the lines of the timeline of the matter and figured out that it seemed that the agent, one Supervisory Special Agent Doctor Spencer Reid, was taken when he should have been in transit to the hospital for treatment at the hands of another suspect on a different case. Someone had targeted someone local and tried to kill him, and Doctor Reid had shot him instead but suffered an unknown would. The ambulance was found two blocks from the hospital, shot up and abandoned with no evidence of who did it except for the Eye of Providence on the side. The images were horrible, there was blood from the wound on the agent. Aaron was used to pictures like that, though. He had tried many cases with a lot of blood. Aaron knew a little about the Boston Reaper, and he had never taken captives before, but after such an extended cooling off period who knew what changes had been made to the MO. Aaron had heard he had escaped custody a few months before but nothing more than that. It was probably Doctor Reid’s team that had gone after him, and this was some form of revenge.

The hedgehog moved to the edge of the sling, pawing at Aaron’s hand that rested there to keep the little guy in when he wanted more food. Aaron would also hold over the coffee to him when he was busy reading. When the food was gone and about a third of the coffee, the hedgehog moved to the back of the sling and laid down to sleep, after Aaron had given him a dose of pain medication. Aaron was shocked he could sleep with so much coffee in him but then the hedgehog moving to drink Aaron’s coffee when he was injured told Aaron everything that he needed to know about coffee and the hedgehog. Aaron looked down at him as he settled in to sleep. It was interesting to see. He kept his injured leg up. Where he couldn’t hurt it himself, but Aaron could easily do it.

This Shifter was too trusting in Aaron’s eyes, but he wasn’t going to do a thing to hurt him, so it worked out. Still, Shifters like this were ripe for injury, just like he had actually been injured. The leg was too small to see exactly what had been done to it, even with a magnifying glass. A gunshot on a limb that small could look like a needle being shoved through. If he had been caught in Shifter form, anything could have been done to him.

“Dad?” Jack asked as he settled down on the couch. He didn’t look at the computer, he knew better than that.

“He’s asleep, Jack. It’s a nice day out. Why don’t you go outside and play?”

“He’s a Shifter, isn’t he?” Jack asked.

“Yes,” Aaron said.

“Still, he’s a hedgehog. He’s cute, and I’ll only do what he wants.”

Aaron figured that he would play dumb and act like a pet as much as possible. So he didn’t figure Jack would have too many issues getting to carry him around and stuff.

“That’s good. He left a trail of blood from the front yard to the back. Do you want to clean that up for me? I want to make sure he doesn’t have any reactions to the antibiotics and the pain medication. We can’t know what he can and can’t take, and I don’t think he’s gonna go back to human form for a while.”

“We will protect him,” Jack declared.

“Yeah, we will.” Aaron reached out and ruffled Jack’s hair before the boy took off. He rushed to the kitchen and found a red hand towel that Aaron used to dry his hands on after washing them and such before he ran outside. Aaron figured he would have a little more time to rest with the hedgehog before Jack came back. They would need to go shopping and get a few things. A small cat or dog bed for the hedgehog to sleep in. Maybe a small baby blanket so he could curl up under it. Hedgehogs were an exotic pet but not that out of the realm of normal, so Aaron figured that there would be an area for stuff for it at the exotic pet shop. They could pick up things for Bob the Betta fish while they were out as well.

Aaron looked up Doctor Spencer Reid, FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. There was a concise bio and the age of him kind of shocked Aaron. He looked young in the picture but seeing his age there in stark black and white was shocking. Aaron had worked cases with Agent Morgan of the BAU, securing convictions. He had also worked with Jason Gideon before he had left the BAU. Forced out was more the term but Aaron knew that more had to be going on than he knew on that. Doctor Reid’s degrees were long, he seemed to collect them instead of doing anything else with his life. He had four Ph.D.s and four Bachelors in various fields, it looked like he got bored easily. He was too young to have been in the unit when he joined it, not enough time in. That reeked of someone who wanted him there for his intelligence no matter what served him best.

There were a few news articles from across the country from where Doctor Reid worked various cases. Most of the pictures of him taken by the news showed him with a book in his hand or a file. It was interesting to see someone so introverted on the team where the rest seemed more outgoing. Aaron wondered if that was why he had so many degrees, he just couldn’t seem to find that way to connect to his team. Aaron had friends at work, they were work friends, but they did things outside of work. Aaron had a few other lawyers, of various walks of professions that he went out to dinners with. People that he knew he could count on if he needed something. He had counted on them. They had been his saving grace when it came to dealing with the fallout of Haley.

Aaron startled when he felt the hedgehog move. He looked down to see that he was wiggling. Nightmare. Probably of what he had endured at the hands of whoever had hurt him. Aaron reached in and scooped up the Shifter, moving around on the couch to where he was able to settle his laptop on the coffee table and grab his Kindle. He easily laid down with his head propped up an settled the hedgehog down on the pillow, with the hedgehog cradled by his neck and shoulder. Aaron smiled as the hedgehog settled down a little more before finally seemingly going to sleep again. Aaron figured that he didn’t sleep at all the night before and so Aaron planned to not move at all.

Jack was in and out of the house over the next three hours as he worked on gardening a little, weeding as he did like doing it and he usually helped Aaron with it. He even got Aaron one of the yogurt and granola cups that were in the fridge when Aaron was hungry for a snack. Aaron put the line at Jack feeding him though. When he was halfway through the yogurt, the hedgehog woke up. Aaron watched him as he moved around, making sure not to use his injured leg at all. He sniffed around where he was and then started toward where Aaron had the yogurt sitting on his chest. Aaron dipped out a little bit that had granola and held the spoon out to him. Aaron watched as he licked the yogurt first before snagging the biggest granola chunk and eating it. Aaron made sure to save some of those but ate the rest. Holding out bits to the hedgehog as he went. It felt too natural, and Aaron was a little shocked at that. He rarely let anyone eat after him. Jack was always stealing food, but he used his own utensils.

Shifters were hardy people. They rarely ever got sick outside of the common cold. The flu didn’t make its rounds with them, and neither did a lot of other transmitted illnesses like that. It why they were in such demand in hospitals. The staff that didn’t get as sick and was not able to transmit the sickness meant they were perfect staff. Aaron had a few on his staff and liked that when the sickness made its way around the office, he had a few that could step in and cover cases.

Two years ago, a staff member had worked sick and took out nearly everyone. Aaron had not caught it, but everyone else who was human had. It had been horrible as judges were sick as well. No one wanted to work cases when everyone was puking. The courts had nearly come to a standstill as the judges who were Shifters were the only ones able to do cases. It was a lot of long hours to get through the cases that needed to be run. Aaron had clocked nearly sixteen-hour days for a week and then nearly twelve after that until everyone was on their feet again. That staff member was forever nicknamed the plague-bearer. Every time she sneezed, people were spraying Lysol.

The hedgehog moved up Aaron’s chest when the last of the granola was gone and looked at Aaron before pushing up to where he was balancing on one leg, laid his front paws on Aaron’s chin and stared more.

“You know he’s going to keep on calling you Hedgie until you give us an idea on a name. You can keep on pretending you are a normal hedgehog while eating bacon and drinking coffee, but we both know the truth on that. So fess up now, and things will go better.” Aaron wasn’t sure it was going to work, and hedgehog just kept on staring at him. “Hedgie it is.”

The hedgehog glared at him but dropped down and turned to walk down Aaron’s body. Aaron made sure that he wasn’t going to hurt himself as he let himself slide down Aaron’s ankle to land on the cushion at the other end of the couch.

“We are going to be going shopping soon. To get you a bed and other things and Bob the Betta needs a few things as well. You are coming with me as I don’t trust you alone in my house.”

The look of indignation on the hedgehog’s face told Aaron that he was understanding every single little word that Aaron said. Aaron just shook his head and let the hedgehog keep up the act. There really was nothing to gain from forcing his hand in anything. There was more than enough proof that something big had happened to him. Aaron would never take that comfort away from him unless it was needed.

Aaron heard the faint shriek, and it woke him up. He listened, trying to figure out where it was coming from. Sometimes Jack woke up and turned on his TV, trying to keep the sound down but it woke Aaron up. This, however, was not that. This was something else. Aaron heard it again and then the sound of Jack’s feet on the floor. Aaron got up quickly, grabbing a pair of sleep pants and shoving his legs into them. He had on boxers, but he refused to meet whatever was making that noise with the chance of his dick flopping out.

The sound got louder as soon as Aaron got out of his bedroom. Jack was standing at his door, looking down the stairs. Jack knew better than to go anywhere when there were strange noises. Aaron kept Jack behind him as he moved down the stairs. Then the screeching started up again. It sounded horrible. Aaron looked at the bed they had set up near the fireplace for Hedgie and found it empty. Aaron looked around for evidence of someone breaking in to get him, then he saw movement. Hedgie was running, full tilt, screeching as he did. Aaron flipped on the main lights chasing the shadows away as he moved over to scoop up Hedgie. The nickname that Jack had given him was kind of stuck even after only a few hours. Aaron pulled Hedgie close to him, settling him on his heart. He looked at Jack and saw that Jack was freaked out.

“It was a nightmare, Jack. After what happened to him, I’m not shocked. I should have thought about that. He had one earlier while napping. Go up and watch some TV until you go to sleep.”

Jack looked hesitant, but he nodded. He leaned in, and Aaron leaned over so that Jack could place a kiss on Hedgie’s back. Aaron figured that whoever this person was, he was not around kids that much.

Aaron settled on the couch with his tablet this time. It was easier to use than a laptop. He settled it on his knee and placed his foot on the coffee table, so the screen was tilted toward him. He leaned back so that Hedgie could settle on his shoulder and neck and the back of the couch. He could feel the hedgehog shivering in fear, but Aaron wasn’t sure what kind of comfort he could give him. Aaron wanted to see him settle down some before he looked at his leg. He knew that there was no way he hadn’t hurt it again.

The squeaking started up again, and Aaron looked down to see that he was still shivering. It had to be the silence. So Aaron picked up his Kindle from the coffee table and opened it up to the book he had just started. Aaron started to read aloud. It was a little strange as Aaron was reading a spy novel, but after a few pages, the shaking was stopping and so wasn’t the noises from the little guy. Aaron kept on reading until the hedgehog started to move.

Setting down the Kindle, Aaron reached up, and Hedgie walked right into his hand. Aaron had bought a litter box for the guy. It was hiding under a stand that had openings at the sides, but the front area was covered. It was perfect. Aaron got up off the couch and walked him over to it. It was filled with a different kind of litter than what most cats used. There was supposed to be no dust and such from it. Hedgie was very careful when he used it, and Jack made sure that it was cleaned nearly every single time that Hedgie went. Aaron figured that indignity of that would have made the Shifter change. There was nothing. Hedgie was okay using the litter, which freaked Aaron out because he didn’t think that he would ever be okay with that kind of stuff.

There were days where Aaron wished he was a Shifter and then there were days like today where he really didn’t think that he wanted to live with an animal even himself. He knew that he would not be blessed with an animal self that was like Hedgie here. Aaron figured he would be something big, and he didn’t think he wanted to buy a bigger place. The house that he was in with Jack was almost too big, but Aaron had loved the garden spaces that were already set up, and he loved the third floor/attic. It was all glass. He had that glass swapped out for the kind that helped keep the heat out so that there was no extra warming up of that room. Aaron had turned it into a library because while he read on his Kindle, he also read a lot of physical books, and Jack read a lot of physical books. The room was filled some with Aaron’s law texts, and then the rest was some true-crime non-fiction, and a great deal on serial killers and psychology of them as Aaron was fascinated with them and then the rest of the culmination of Aaron and Jack’s reading habits of fiction books. It was interesting to see the blend of books that Aaron read all on the shelves.

When Hedgie was feeling better, Aaron was going to take him up there. Aaron looked down at the floor to wait for Hedgie to come out of the little closed off area, but he wasn’t there. Aaron frowned before he crouched down. Hedgie was on the floor, having left the litter box, but he was trying to do something with his leg. Aaron scooped him up, making him squeak in shock.

Ignoring the squeak, Aaron flipped Hedgie onto his back and started to rub his belly. Aaron had found out that Hedgie liked that. Aaron waited until he was calm before he looked at Hedgie’s leg. It was bleeding a little. Samantha had stopped by to show Aaron how to change the bandage and the weird splint that was basically a sterile toothpick on him. Aaron had the supplies. Though it was easier as Hedgie did what Aaron told him. It was easy to go through the stuff and change the bandages.

After Aaron was done with that, he snagged the pet bed and carried it up the stairs at the same time he carried Hedgie up there. Aaron settled the pet bed on the corner of his bed and looked at it before he just picked up the secondary pillows and tossed them into the chair in the corner and moved the bed there. Aaron settled Hedgie there before going to the bathroom. He grabbed a shirt to put on. Aaron looked at his face in the mirror and frowned at it. He didn’t look as sleepy as he should. Aaron slipped the shirt on and walked out into the bedroom. Hedgie was in the pet bed, but he wasn’t settled down onto it, and he wasn’t even looking like he was attempting to go to sleep.

“I’m going to check on Jack,” Aaron said as he left the room.

Jack’s door was mostly shut, and Aaron pushed it open to find Jack laying in bed with his softer night light on and a book in his hand. Aaron walked over and took the book from his hands, put the bookmark in it, and closed it. Aaron brushed at the hair on Jack’s forehead. He gave his son a smile.

“He’s fine, he’s just scared. He’s only bleeding a little bit. He’ll be fine.”

“I know, but I’m just worried about him. I’ve never. He looked scared.”

“We will protect him,” Aaron said. He grabbed the blanket and pulled it up to Jack’s chin as Jack rolled onto his side to where he was sleeping with his back to the door.

“I know, but I’m still scared.” Jack closed his eyes, and Aaron knew he wasn’t going to get more out of him than that.

Aaron slipped down to grab his Kindle and his tablet as he was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to get to sleep quickly. He sighed as he walked back into his bedroom. Hedgie was still right where Aaron had left him, his eyes glued on the door, and he only relaxed when Aaron entered the room.

That little thought that Hedgie was, in fact, Doctor Reid only heightened in Aaron’s mind, but if Hedgie wasn’t coming forward with who he was there was a good reason. Aaron could trust that. He could trust Hedgie even though he really had no reason to. It was strange that Aaron did trust him as much as he did, but Aaron was a good judge of character. Instead of jading him to everyone, Aaron’s years working for the courts had made him understand a lot about humans and the things they did and why they did them.

Aaron had spent a lot of time with people who were afraid for their lives while Aaron tried to get them to do something that would get them killed. Aaron had talked a lot of them into things that should have got them killed, but he made sure they were protected. Aaron turned off his bedroom light and settled down into the bed, he turned onto his side and laid his arm into the opening of the pet bed so that he could rub Hedgie’s back. He scratched a little as he had learned how to do over the course of the day. Hedgie relaxed down into the bed, but he still looked vigilant.

“I have a gun. It’s in a special safe that was made for me.” Aaron reached over the bed, pulling his hand from Hedgie. He turned on bedside light before he dropped his hand down to typed in the code on a small keypad that was hidden on the side. A drawer popped open where there shouldn’t be one. “I’ve had enough threats to my life over the years for cases I’ve worked, people I’ve had convicted that I keep my gun registration active and I go to the range once a week at lunch with a friend of mine from the FBI. Seeley is good at making sure I can protect myself and Jack. I also have a gun in a safe downstairs. Both are kept loaded at all times. I’ve only had a single person try and attack me, mostly it’s all threats. But still, I can’t just put my head in the sand. Response time for cops can be affected by a lot of things, and I know that by the time they get here, whatever whoever is attacking me has planned could be done. Did you see the code?”

It took a few seconds for Hedgie to nod his head like he was trying to figure out if it was a trap.

“It’s the same code downstairs. I change it every few months, so it’ll be a while before I change it. You need it, you get it.”

Aaron didn’t wait for the hedgehog to acknowledge him. He reached over and turned off the light and laid his hand on Hedgie again, petting him and just letting him know that he was safe and Aaron was there.

Still, Aaron wasn’t shocked when he woke up the next morning, and Hedgie was asleep on Aaron.

Aaron wiped the sweat from his head and opened the door into the kitchen. He started to strip down out of the gardening clothes. Settling them into the bin that was outside before he stepped inside. He stopped when he sat the setup that Jack had left Hedgie with before he had left to spend the weekend with a friend. Aaron had been happy that Jack had started to want to spend extended periods at friend’s houses when he had turned eight. Now that he was closer to nine, Aaron was more grateful for it. Jack had been attached to Aaron more than most kids were, and while Aaron had liked it when he was younger, it had been getting a little stifling. Now, if Aaron had a date set up, he just dropped Jack off at a friend’s house and didn’t have to worry about bothering the lady who watched Jack while he was working.

Hedgie was sitting at the table with a plate of cut small carrots and radishes, there was a little bowl of what looked like coffee with a little bit of cream in it on the other side of Hedgie. There was also Aaron’s Kindle set up in front of him, with Hedgie up on books to where he could look down at the screen but still reach it to touch to turn the page. Aaron frowned a little as it was a weird setup. Aaron usually lazed on the couch in the afternoons with Hedgie on his stomach, and they read together. Aaron walked to stand behind Hedgie to see what he was reading. It was a science text that was very much over Aaron’s head. Aaron remembered that he had one-click ordering turned on for the Kindle so the damned Shifter that bought the book. Aaron really didn’t care, but he would have liked to have been asked. Hedgie seemed to notice that he was there and turned to look at him. He climbed down from the books, his leg still a little stiff but after a week Samantha had declared him nearly fully healed.

Aaron had been happy about that as it meant that Aaron was keeping him fed enough. Hedgie walked to the edge of the table and made a pawing motion in the air. Aaron knew that it meant that Hedgie wanted Aaron’s hand there so he could crawl into it, but Aaron was still covered in dirt.

“I need to shower after the replanting of some of my potted plants. I’ll come and get you when I’m done.” Aaron turned, and there was a squeaking noise from Hedgie. Aaron turned back around to see him trying to paw at the air more, partially off the table. Aaron reached out and scooped him up. He placed Hedgie on his shoulder, and the guy calmed down.

Aaron knew that the attachment that Hedgie had to him was not the best thing, but Aaron couldn’t help it. Hedgie hadn’t slept a night through since Aaron had found him. Hedgie started out the night in the pet bed that lived on the corner of Aaron’s bed and then would migrate to sleep on Aaron if Aaron was on his back or as close as possible to Aaron’s heart if Aaron was on his side. The attachment wasn’t as bad on Jack’s side as while Jack kept Hedgie entertained throughout the morning while Aaron worked in the gardens or the house or the front lawn, Hedgie was with Aaron the rest of the day.

Aaron snagged the Kindle and carried it up with them. Aaron felt Hedgie rubbing his snout on Aaron’s cheek and neck when he could reach either one. Aaron felt upset at being angry that he had bought a book on his Kindle. Aaron didn’t know what it was like to be afraid to turn Human again, which was precisely what Samantha thought was wrong with why he hadn’t turned back. Yeah, in the beginning, it would have hurt like hell to change back, but now it wasn’t that bad. Aaron was pretty sure that he was healed, but he couldn’t accurately confirm that. Hedgie was moving his leg just fine, but being able to move it and being able to support weight on it were two very different things.

Shifters were hardy people, and there were not a lot of things that could kill them. Taking their heads off worked, even a shot to the heart but other wounds were very fast to heal and things that would put a human into traction for months would only keep a Shifter down for weeks. Sometimes even days. If the damage to his leg was to muscles and delicate bits like that, Aaron could see him taking a while to get up and going again. Still, it was strange as Hedgie was obviously very smart.

Setting Hedgie down on the bed, Aaron turned to head into the shower. He stopped and set up the Kindle to where it wasn’t as great of a setup as what he had in the kitchen, but he could still read. Hedge started to squeak again though as Aaron walked into the bathroom. Aaron stopped and turned around to look at him. Hedgie was at the edge of the bed, looking like he was getting ready to jump down. Aaron rushed over to grab him. Hedgie pointed at the bathroom then licked at his feet that he could reach. Aaron clued in then.

“You want a bath as well?”

Hedgie made a happy squeaking noise.

Aaron sighed and carried Hedgie into the bathroom. He set him down on the counter as Aaron shaved for the day. Aaron had looked up how to bathe a hedgehog as while he was human, there were still considerations on what exactly could be done to a hedgehog. Aaron knew that warm water was a must and to make sure to get the soap off of them. Aaron had a bottle of Jack’s tear-free shampoo in the bathroom as Jack liked to shower in Aaron’s shower as compared to his own as Aaron had the rainfall type system that came from the ceiling instead of a sprayer head. Before this, Hedgie had just got a few cloth baths, so Aaron knew that he was probably just itching for a real bath.

The shampoo was easy to put in the shower along with the toothbrush that Aaron had picked up at the store the day before when he had looked at how to bathe a hedgehog. Aaron looked back at Hedgie to see that he was looking around the bathroom with a close eye. There was more and more stacking up that told Aaron that he was dealing with someone who was in a profession that called attention to detail. Aaron had asked a few friends about the BAU and the team, but they had been closed-mouthed about it all. Aaron understood with Doctor Reid still missing after a week and no sighting of Foyet anywhere. McLean was an easy city to put on lockdown, but still, it was hard to lock it down that much. Aaron had his car searched the day after, and he had gladly done it. There was a lot that was upset but as soon as the full breadth of Foyet’s crimes in Boston and the deaths of the two EMTs that had been killed by Foyet to get to Doctor Reid had come out, it hadn’t been as bad. There were always going to be those who were upset about their routine being messed up. Even if it meant the life of someone else.

“Hey,” Aaron said as he walked back out of the shower. Hedgie turned to look at him, his face tipping up to look at him fully. “I don’t even know who you are, and I don’t care, but I don’t want you to feel awkward about me bathing you. It’s not like you can do it yourself. I looked up how to do it and was just kind of waiting for you to want to do it. Has anyone ever bathed you in this form?”

Hedgie shook his no. Aaron nodded his head and held out his hand for Hedgie to crawl into. Aaron watched him and saw that he was not putting a lot of weight on his injured leg. That meant that it was not as healed as Aaron, and even Samantha thought. Hedgie refused to leave the house though outside of that trip to the store to get the things that he needed to be comfortable. He did go outside when Aaron went out sometimes but leaving in a car ride, was a big no.

Aaron settled Hedgie down on a shelf that was built into the wall. It was where Aaron usually kept his shampoo, but he had moved it as he had settled things inside of the shower. He stripped off his underclothes that he had been wearing under his gardening clothes and tossed them out before shutting the door. Aaron picked up the hand sprayer that was connected to the wall and turned it on. He turned down the spray to where it was a gentle one. Aaron had used it on his sore muscles from sitting at a desk for hours on end sometimes when he wasn’t in court. It was good at beating on his muscles.

“Ready?” Aaron asked as he held the sprayer up. He watched as Hedgie kind of braced himself for something. Aaron let the water fall on him and watched as Hedgie kind of shook and then calmed down when he figured out the water wasn’t too hot, too cold, or too hard on him. Aaron let it fall until he needed to start to do something on himself. He could feel the sweat running down his face and wanted to get it out. Aaron put the handle into the wall and turned it to where a little bit of landed on Hedgie.

Aaron washed his hair and his face before he grabbed the shampoo to wash Hedgie off. Aaron was careful as he washed Hedgie, taking care on the quills before he grabbed the toothbrush. He applied a little shampoo to it before using it on the ends of the Shifter’s quills. Hedgie was better than Jack at being bathed. Jack still wiggled some. Aaron checked over his feet when he got to them, finding that there was not a lot of issues on them. Aaron could see where the one was still a little tender, so he used the brush on it to clean it, so he wasn’t too hard with his fingers. Hedgie started to make a weird noise that Aaron had figured out that meant he was content and happy, so Aaron used the brush on all four of his feet.

“Do you want me to wash your face with the brush?” Aaron asked.

Hedgie closed his eyes and stilled before nodding. Aaron was quick and efficient when he did it, making sure to rinse off the face quickly. He knew with a regular hedgehog it wasn’t something that he should do, but Hedgie knew when to not breathe and close his eyes. He was an adult, and he understood things that children or even animals couldn’t.

Aaron made sure to rinse of Hedgie and leave no shampoo on him at all before he settled him back on the ledge and started to wash off his body. He turned up the water a little when it began to cool down, adding more hot water.

“Is that too hot?” Aaron asked as he directed the sprayer head back to Hedgie. There was a squeak that Aaron had taken to mean no, and so he settled the spray a little more on Hedgie as he finished up a few things. He made sure to step away from Hedgie when he washed off, but he also knew that hedgehogs could slip really easy. The reason Aaron had placed him there was that there was a little non-stick mat already on the shelf there. So his shampoo bottle didn’t hit the floor or his foot as it always seemed to do.

Aaron kept an eye on Hedgie, turning when he washed his privates just because he knew that Hedgie was a male, but he had no clue what Hedgie’s sexual identity was, and Aaron didn’t want to make him uncomfortable if he was straight or gay even. It was strange to not be able to have that kind of conversation with him. Aaron knew that he could ask, but it didn’t seem right at all to do.

Shutting off the water when he was done, Aaron dried himself off quickly, barely running the towel through his hair and letting it drip down on to him as he got ready to pick up Hedgie and get him dried. Hedgie was careful not to wiggle too much as Aaron dried him before finding a fan to set up in his bedroom and let Hedgie air dry that way to get anything that Aaron was too scared to get. Aaron took that time to get dressed. Aaron wore a soft pair of jeans that he knew would start to develop holes in them soon. He didn’t care, and when they did, he would turn them into gardening jeans or cut them off and make them shorts. The sun was really getting warm, Aaron could feel it through the glass in the window in his closet. He wondered what Hedgie thought about eating in the backyard. He could run around the yard a little since Aaron had gone through it all with a mower a few days before and most of the grass was now picked up. Hedgie had gone through the grass and got covered in it the day before so Aaron had cleaned up some.

“How do you feel like eating outside?” Aaron asked.

Hedgie yawned instead of answering, so Aaron figured that he had no cares as he was going to nap. Aaron liked the idea of a nap in the sun, as well. He was a little worn out from the work he had done in the yard that day. He could get lunch ready for the both of them and stick it in the fridge until they were both ready to eat. Aaron picked up the purple hand towel that Hedgie had claimed for his own after he had used it as a way to cuddle on things that were hard like tables when Aaron and Jack were in the kitchen or other rooms that didn’t have couches and the like.

Aaron found a nice spot outside, settling down in the grass without a blanket under him. He laid Hedgie down on the hand towel, and he stretched out before settling in on his stomach. It was like he was asleep in seconds. Aaron sat close to him, making sure that he would be close if a nightmare came up. While the intensity was nowhere close to the one he had that first time that first night, they were bad enough that he would wake up Aaron with at least one of them. Aaron was glad that they were getting better, but Aaron was worried that something else was going to happen. He just really hoped that nothing that big happened.

Aaron turned the TV from the show he had been watching to the news for the evening. He saw a woman on the screen that he knew from the BAU. It was Agent Jareau the media liaison for the team. Aaron looked down at Hedgie to see that he was asleep. Aaron wasn’t shocked as Hedgie had been awake early that day. Jack was already in bed for the night. Aaron, though, couldn’t sleep. Aaron pressed the button to turn up the TV.

“The search for George Foyet continues, as well as the agent he is suspected of kidnapping, Agent Spencer Reid.” The screen flashed to both of their faces before each one getting smaller and going to an upper corner, and Agent Jareau’s face was there. “After careful consideration to the fact that this manhunt has stalled out, the Bureau is going to release more information.”

Aaron looked down at Hedgie, wondering if he was actually awake or he was asleep.

“Agent Reid was shot in his left leg by an UnSub prior to being put onto a transport to the hospital. That was when Foyet attacked the vehicle that he was in. He killed the two EMTs that were on board. Agent Reid’s injuries were not life-threatening at the time, but without medical care, they could be due to infection. If you have any information about the whereabouts, no matter how small, please come forward.”

Aaron saw that Hedgie moved. He curled into a ball. Hitting pause, Aaron started to write down the number that was on the screen as the tip line. He shut off the TV after that and turned so that he could put his leg up to stop Hedgie from running. It had been two weeks, and on Monday, Aaron was going to be going back to work, and the lady who cared for Jack was going to be watching him. There was a daycare that Jack didn’t mind but if there was someone after Hedgie like Aaron thought there was, Aaron would rather have Jack go to daycare than to stay at home and possibly risk someone getting hurt. Aaron could easily bring Hedgie with him to work. He seemed content to read for hours, and when he wanted to move around, he would walk laps on whatever he was on.

“Hey,” Aaron said as he rubbed a few fingers down Hedgie’s back. Hedgie rolled over to where he was on his front before he turned to face Aaron. “Unless you give me a reason not to, Spencer. I’m going to call this number, and I’m going to tell Agent Jareau that I have a hedgehog on my hand that reads at a fast pace, who likes books on physics, and loves to be read to who has an injured left leg.”

Hedgie sighed, and it was a huge put upon sigh that Aaron knew from humans. Aaron’s phone was there on the couch, and Hedgie walked over to paw at it. Aaron picked up the phone long enough to unlock it before setting it back down. The hedgehog carefully dialed a number that was not the one that was on the screen, and it was actually a local DC cell phone number. When Hedgie stepped back from the phone, Aaron picked it up and hit dial.

“Hello,” a female voice said on the other end o the phone. Her tone was hesitant.

“Is this Agent Jareau?” Aaron asked.

“Yes. Who is this?”

“My name is Aaron Hotchner, Ma’am. I’m a District Attorney for DC.”

“How can I help you DA Hotchner?” Jareau asked.

“Well, Ma’am, I have a hedgehog on my hands. He really likes to read physics books, and I had a friend of mine who treated him for injuries to his left leg while he stayed in animal form.”

“Oh, thank God!” Jareau sounded like she was going to cry. “Is he…is he okay?”

“He’s having nightmares, but I’m helping him with those.” Aaron looked at Spencer, who was hiding in the corner. Aaron reached out with his free hand and got it close to him. It took a few seconds before Spencer crawled into Aaron’s hand. “The thing is that he’s refused up until now to actually admit that he was anything but a hedgehog. Even when I have loaded up book after book for him on my Kindle. I’ve suspected who he is for two weeks but as I’ve learned more about him from Internet searches that I’m pretty that it’s him. When I confronted him just now and said I was going to call the tip line, he dialed this number instead.”

“Well, the investigation into this has taken a weird turn as-” Jareau paused. “You can’t repeat this anywhere-my team was not supposed to be on that case at all, and no one knew that we were as the paperwork had not been filed on the case. That he was attacked by Foyet means one of two things. Either Foyet was watching him, and that is a possibility, or there is someone inside of the FBI helping Foyet. As long as Spence is safe, it’s best that he stay where he is.”

“What about the Shifter thing?”

“No FBI agent is listed if they are a Shifter or not in their file just to keep things safe. It’s not known by a lot that he’s one at all.”

“You are trying to keep him safe as you weren’t sure if he escaped or Foyet had him and would use that against him.”

“Foyet is smart and dangerous. He’s going to make it a goal to get him again. There is more that I cannot release to you, even if you are a DA. I just…please keep him safe. Tell him that Henry misses him.”

“Hey,” Aaron said as he pulled the phone away to look down at Spencer. Spencer looked up at him. Aaron settled him on his leg and started to scratch under his chin like he seemed to like. “Henry says hello and that he misses you.”

Aaron wondered if Henry was a boyfriend. The little looking into Doctor Reid’s personal life on the Internet that he did, he was at least bi-sexual, the tabloids when he was younger with the actress in LA he had helped on a case made Aaron thing bi-sexual.

“He’s rubbing against my hand.”

“Maybe I’ll be able to actually get Henry to sleep tonight. He’s not even one yet, and he’s still so very attached to his Uncle Spence.”

“Well, I hope you can get him to sleep.” Aaron laid his head back against the couch and looked up at the ceiling. Spencer was still touching his fingers, rubbing on them. He really hoped that Spencer shifted back to human soon though he guessed that hiding as a pet was easier just in case Foyet was looking around the area for him. It wouldn’t be hard to recognize Spencer. Aaron thought that he was beautiful, and the intelligence didn’t hurt at all.

“I don’t want to contact you too much just in case Foyet proves to be too good at tracking us.”

“There is a case coming up that Agent Morgan worked as a consultant that he’s been called as a character witness for the state. I have not agreed to take it after the prior prosecutor had a family emergency. I think that maybe I will. Then at least Agent Morgan can meet with me at the offices without drawing attention.”

“That would be great. Spence isn’t the closest with him, but if that’s the only way, that’s the only way. It’s late, and my boyfriend is just getting back from a shift. He works as a detective for the Metro police. Will LaMontagne. I’ll call back in a few days and tell you what I can after I talk to my boss. I won’t mention your name at all just that someone has called in and I’ll go from there. I’ll get back to you. Keep him safe.”

“I will.”

Aaron tossed his phone down on the couch and moved to rub down Spencer’s back. “So you don’t really trust that easily do you? Federal Agent and I am a DDA, and you know this, and yet it’s taken two weeks.”

Spencer said nothing which wasn’t exactly a shock as Shifters couldn’t speak. Aaron scooped him up and laid down so he could put Spencer on his chest. He looked at him. “So Doctor Spencer Reid. Serial killer catcher, chess player. Do you want to play a game with me?”

There was no answer in verbal or physical form from Spencer. Instead, he walked up to Aaron’s chest before settling down in the crook of Aaron’s neck and the pillow. It was a favorite spot for him. It was interesting to see how he liked to sleep. The few things that Aaron had read on Spencer online showed him not shaking hands with people, hell never touching anyone but he did with Aaron and a lesser basis, Jack.

“Maybe another time. I’m not going to tell Jack who you are. He’s good but not that great at keeping secrets.”

Aaron curled a finger to rub under Spencer’s chin. Aaron wasn’t sure what he wanted to do at the moment, but he would let Spencer dictate what he was doing. The fear of having the people that one trusted be the ones who had turned you over to a serial killer was weighty, even in Aaron’s mind. It was hard to try and understand who exactly would give Spencer over to an UnSub as the BAU called them. Why would they do it? Who thought that it was a good idea to do anything like that. Aaron wasn’t sure when Spencer was going to feel to come out of hiding as it were. Aaron wasn’t going to make him. Aaron wasn’t like that. He knew that he had a thing about saving people. He had debated going into the FBI at one point because of it. Leaving the world of being a lawyer behind and going after that thrill of making the shots that would kill someone to protect someone else.

“So I have an attic,” Aaron said as he put his hand behind Spencer so that as he sat up, Spencer just slid to where he was in Aaron’s hand and not on his chest. Spencer squeaked once but didn’t protest the move at all. Just the suddenness of it. Aaron enjoyed the walk up to the third floor. He hadn’t taken Spencer up there because it was a safe space, but Aaron figured that Spencer needed that safe place now.

Aaron set Spencer down on the stand just inside the door. It was the drink cart as it were. There was all kind of teas in bags on the cart. As well as a few mugs and an electric kettle. There was a sink beside that. Aaron had that part installed when he had figured out what he wanted to do with the space. The trash can was pretty big, and it wasn’t changed that often. It didn’t really need to be. The tea bags had plenty of time to dry on the tray on the cart before they were thrown away, it allowed for no build-up of mold and such. There was also little packets of sugar so that there was less chance for ants in the room. The mugs were rinsed before they were slipped into the bin on the second shelf of the cart that Aaron grabbed before he did dishes.

“So this is my library,” Aaron said as he walked over to pick up the beanbag chair that Jack had left in the middle of the room. There were two of those, one for Aaron and one for Jack, but Aaron usually didn’t use it. There was a sizeable overstuffed armchair in one corner and in the other was a soft chaise lounge chair. Aaron used those two depending on what he felt like.

Aaron looked at Spencer to see him looking around. Aaron walked over to him and held his hand out to let Spencer make the decision on what he wanted to do. Spencer crawled into his hand. Aaron settled Spencer onto his shoulder and smiled as he felt Spencer’s nails dig into his shirt a little so that he wasn’t going to fall down. Aaron took his time as he walked around and let Spencer read the titles on the spines at least the ones that were on their level. Aaron then stopped at the chair with the high back so he could settle Spencer there before walking over to draw the shades. The shades were good at diffusing light but still letting it in.

“I had these put in as there were some morning that I couldn’t take the bright sun in my eyes in winter. So these lower the intensity of the sun that gets into the room. I really like them. Jack tends to keep them open, but then he can easily move his chair around the room to get where the sun isn’t quite so much on his face. So this is my library. I know that you are feeling a little off still, too scared, but if you want to be human and just be human for a little while you can come up here. The door does lock from the inside at the base of the stairs. No one will ever have to know that you are here. The trees at the back of the house stop anyone from seeing in. It’s the only place that has a good angle on this room. So you’ll be safe. If you want to lock my bedroom door and be in there, you can. I don’t want you to feel trapped here.” Aaron turned to look at Spencer to see that he was still just looking around the room. He smiled as Spencer carefully let himself slide down the back of the chair, using his nails on his three good paws to slow the descent and stop on the way down. It was interesting, and Aaron knew then that Spencer had allowed himself to figure out the world in his Shifter form.

There were a lot of Shifters with forms like that didn’t learn the world in their small forms. They felt it was beneath them, Aaron had seen those kinds of Shifters become forces of evil in the world. Aaron smiled as Spencer climbed up the arm of the chair next. He looked at that side of the room before going over to the other side to look at it. It was interesting to see him showing as much interest as he was. Aaron loved his little library but knew that it was not up the alley of everyone. Aaron settled on the top of the stairs turned to where he could watch Spencer as he looked around the room. The images of Spencer had him wearing glasses, but Aaron wondered if he really needed them. He didn’t seem to have issues reading anything on Aaron’s Kindle. The glasses could be for show or to deal with another problem.

Aaron yawned, and he looked at Spencer to see that he was curled on the arm of the chair and was nearly asleep himself. Aaron looked at his watch and saw that it was near midnight, and he had been staring off into space for several minutes. Aaron shook his head to clear it a little bit before he stood up and walked over to Spencer. Aaron scooped him up, seeing eyes open and then close.

Getting ready for bed took little time at all, Aaron changed in his walk-in closet like he had started to do around Spencer. He didn’t feel too bad about changing in front of him, but Aaron liked the privacy. The shower was still in his head, but he pushed that away. Aaron left the walk-in closet to see that Spencer wasn’t even trying to act like he was going to sleep in the pet bed. Aaron reached over and snagged it and carried it over to the window. The padding there wasn’t as soft, made for bodies to push it down. So Aaron had started to let Spencer get some of the morning sun, thereby moving the bed to the window. It was moved back at night, but Aaron saw no sense in keeping that up anymore. It didn’t seem like Spencer did either.

Aaron laid down and settled the blankets over himself, he scooped Spencer up from his pillow and laid him down right at his chest on the bed. Spencer rolled over to where his underside was closer to Aaron, and he curled his front paws into Aaron’s sleep shirt. Aaron smiled and cupped Spencer’s body with his hand, his fingers brushing at his some.

Aaron felt strange as he walked into work. He had Spencer in the sling on his body, he had already called his boss and gave him a short rundown that he would be bringing in a hedgehog that couldn’t be left alone, and Aaron was taking care of him. Aaron was going to tell him the truth after the room had been swept for bugs.

“Aaron, right on time. Let me see this-” Aaron’s boss, Richard, stopped speaking and looked down. “My, he’s a pretty little thing isn’t he.”

Aaron frowned and watched as Richard’s face changed a little as he looked at Spencer. Did Richard know him? Aaron tucked Spencer into his body a little more as Richard waved Aaron into his office. Richard started to search for bugs as soon as Aaron shut the door. Aaron watched him as he was more thorough than he usually was. Aaron was beginning to get worried. He even pulled all of the blinds and made sure that no light was coming in at all. Parabolic mics were an issue, but this was paranoid.

“How is he doing?” Richard asked.

“Good as can be expected after what he’s gone through.” Aaron sat down as Richard did.

“Spencer,” Richard said.

Aaron felt Spencer jerk a little and then move back further into the sling. Aaron laid his hand over him.

“I would know him anywhere. That little white patch of quills on his neck is something I’ve never seen in any other Shifter. You’ll need to get a hold of his team, at least Miss JJ Jareau and let her know that you have him. I’ve been keeping tabs on him through David Rossi after he and I broke up.”

Aaron felt Spencer tense, so Aaron swapped hands and slipped the one inside of the sling to pet Spencer. Richard was actually two years younger than Aaron, but Aaron never cared about going any higher than he was, so he had passed on the promotion to that job. Though Richard had to run for the position, Aaron had not run against him and he never would. Aaron was happy being one of the best DDAs for DC and being happy with his life that way.

“It was not pretty at all. I won’t reveal more than what he can agree to and right now he can’t. When he’s stressed he reverts to this form. Has he been with you for the whole time since Foyet tried to take him?”

“Yes, I found him that next morning where he had slipped into my garden and was hiding under plants. I followed the blood.”

“George Foyet, the man, known better as the Boston Reaper, escaped from jail in Boston and came down here. Nothing is known about what he’s been doing these last months except for he has only gone after Spencer. I was given the file by Dave Rossi, and we can only assume that while he had focused on Dave while they were on the case, he’s chosen Spencer as his target now because no move has been made on Dave.”

“Why him?”

“George Foyet was given access, the assumption is, by someone to the case file and it was laid out there that Spencer is the one to figure him out as the Reaper instead of a victim. There was just not enough that matched up. The BAU member who had been sent to Boston the first time around had not been that thorough. So Spencer delved deep into everything that had been found about the first time the Reaper had been active and worked from there. He’s targeted Spencer because of his intelligence. The FBI has already stationed agents at Bennington to protect his mother to make sure that Foyet doesn’t go after her. Her wing has been made secure. His picture given to all staff down to janitors to make sure that Foyet doesn’t gain access to her.”

Aaron felt Spencer relax in his hand, and Aaron started to pet him a little harder to calm him down.

“He’s a wonderful man, and I’ve been worried about him, but I understand staying in that form. I’ll get clearance to make sure that you can carry him around. You don’t have a lot of court cases on your docket.”

“His teammate, Morgan, has a case going through the system. I want to be put on that one so that Morgan can at least see him. Miss Jareau is worried that someone is watching the team to see if they go to him. This will make things better.”

“You’ve already talked to JJ?” Richard asked.

“Yes, Saturday night. I’ve spent the last day, making sure that my house is secure. Spencer knows how to get into my gun safes, but I’m afraid of leaving him alone with Jack and Miss Stewart.”

“He’s safer here with you. Your office already is on lockdown because of that one case you are working on so it won’t be hard to make sure that it stays that way. I’m sure that you can set him up with a book or two.”

“Or the four hundred dollars in books I bought him this morning.”

Richard got a fond look on his face as Aaron said the words. “That’s a morning worth of books.”

“I’m well aware, but he’s not touched a lot of the books of mine on the Kindle so I guess that he can read those when he gets through the books I bought him this morning. I have a good bit of books on my Kindle account.”

“I remember,” Richard said. He stood up from his chair and walked over to where Aaron was. He leaned against the desk and made a little clicking noise before he settled his hand at the end of the sling. Aaron felt Spencer wiggle before he walked to the end of the sling, however, all he did was swipe a paw at Richard’s closest finger. Aaron kept the smile and laugh to himself. Richard drew his hand back. “I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me.”

“What did you do?”

“I cheated on him.” Richard had only ever cheated on one person.

Aaron remembered that. When Richard had been upset and took time off after a horrible breakup. Aaron knew that Richard regretted cheating on the person before the person had even figured it out, and then Richard had been gone. Aaron had stepped in as acting DA until he was back. Aaron had never been disappointed in Richard more than he had then but at the moment knowing that it was Spencer who had done it. That Spencer had trusted him enough to show him his Shifter side and he did that.

“I see.”

“Doesn’t stop me from worrying about him and loving him, but I can understand him never wanting to deal with me again. Go to your office and let him calm down. He likes cinnamon-flavored lattes when he’s upset. When Avery goes on the coffee run for our office, I’ll have him get one for him. Small as in that form, he doesn’t need that much caffeine.”

“Yes, I figured that out yesterday morning. He couldn’t stop vibrating.”

“Caffeine works differently in him when he’s like this. It’s bizarre.” Richard sighed and moved back to sit in his chair again. “Go before I do something stupid. I’ll make sure no one bothers you. Hannah brought in her dog when it was injured so I don’t see a reason why anyone would question you leaving a hedgehog napping in your desk drawer. What has your son been calling him?”


Richard snorted and nodded his head before waving Aaron away. Aaron stood up and carried Spencer into his office down the hall. There was the outer area where his assistant was.

“Hotch,” Wind said. He had a hippie for a mother, and she had named him weird, but he had grown attached to the name before he turned old enough to actually change it, so he had stuck with Wind Pride. Aaron had picked him out of the pool because to get as far as he did in the judicial branch and still not have a nickname meant he was a tough bastard. He was one of the toughest men that Aaron had ever met.

“Wind, this is Hedgie. My son found him over the weekend in the backyard. We figure that someone dumped him after not knowing how much work goes into having a hedgehog for a pet. I’m going to keep him in my office if I have to go to court.”

“He’s an adorable little thing,” Wind said, but he didn’t try and reach out and pet Spencer which Aaron was thankful of. Wind just turned back to the computer as the phone rang.

Aaron typed in the code to access his office. He took a lot of the very high profile cases that sometimes meant having document and files that were sensitive, and after a break in five years before, Aaron had upped the security on his office. Aaron settled Spencer and the sling down onto his desk before he opened up the drawer that he had in mind to make a little place for Spencer where he wouldn’t be in the way but could be closer to Aaron. He settled the Kindle into the spot that he was pretty sure that it would work in and it did. Next, he grabbed the thin pillow he had packed into his briefcase.

Spencer started to walk around the desk, looking at everything that was there. Including the small dish of candy. Aaron picked up the lid and let Spencer grab a piece of chocolate from it. It was his dish with chocolate-covered random things. It looked like Spencer had picked a chocolate-covered Brazil nut. Aaron knew that he could get the chocolate off pretty easy but then would need help getting the nut down to a good size. Aaron didn’t mind helping him with that when the time came.

“I need to make a few calls about some notes that Wind left on my desk before I left Friday but if you need me, just paw at me.” Aaron didn’t look to make sure that Spencer heard him.

Aaron worked on his casework, getting things ready for what he was going to be doing in court that afternoon and then later in the week. Aaron felt Spencer moving around on the desk and then slipping down into the desk drawer to read. Aaron would reach out when he was swapping files or answering a call and rub his hand down Spencer’s back. Aaron hoped that Richard didn’t do a lot of his just dropping into bitch about people while Spencer was there. Aaron wanted Spencer to feel safe here and he wouldn’t with Richard just popping in randomly. Hopefully, Richard stuck to phone calls which Richard hated but would do if he felt he was chained to his desk with work.

Coffee was dropped off with Aaron getting an eye for having two, but Aaron just gave a smile, and he made sure that he had something that Spencer could drink out of easily, so he settled that in the drawer not on the pillow. It was safe and shouldn’t tip over. Lunch came and went with Wind getting Aaron his lunch and not batting an eye at the order having more food than Aaron regularly ate.

It was an hour before Aaron had to be in court when his office phone rang. He looked at the door before answering it.

“Hotchner,” Aaron said.

“Aaron. Dave Rossi just got in contact with me about getting a hold of a judge to get a warrant for a set of hotels. Foyet has been sighted there. Also, he was found to have broken into Spencer’s apartment in the night. However, Agent Morgan had already gone through the whole thing and pulled anything that would lead to where his mother was from the place. All of his letters and various other things are safe in a storage unit on the base. Everything is good and safe and Agents Morgan and Jareau on their way to see you after you get done in court. I offered the secure briefing room to go over Morgan’s testimony on the case.”

“So Jareau has not told the team yet?”

“No, it doesn’t seem that way. I could be wrong on that front though as I just talked to Rossi and as far as I know, Spencer never told anyone on the team except for Jareau about me.”

“He does seem to keep things close and likes Jareau.”

“Her son is his godson. Like I said, I’ve kept my eye on him. I love him, and I think that I always will. He’s a loving man who gives his whole heart when he does love but I just…I was stupid. Just break it to him easy. None of his books were destroyed, I know he’ll be worried about that.”

“I will.” Aaron hung up without saying goodbye. He hoped that Jareau was making sure that her family was safe as he could see Foyet going after them to get Spencer out of hiding. Foyet’s move though proved to the BAU that he didn’t have Spencer. He just hoped that the team was able to keep on acting like they were searching for Spencer.

“DDA Hotchner?” a voice asked from the doorway.

Aaron frowned as he had sworn that he had locked the door. He looked up at the man. He looked gruff and very no-nonsense, and he made Aaron seem like he was in trouble.

“My name is John. Since I’m not here for work-related issues, I don’t think that you need to know more than that.” John shut the door and locked it. John walked to sit down, his eyes moving around the room like he was looking for something. Then he stopped on the Kindle, a fond smile came over his face. “I work with the Beltway Clean Cops, and I’m a sponsor for an extraordinary and bright young man.”

Aaron looked down at Spencer to see that he was asleep. His paw was stretched out like he was getting ready to press the button to change the page on the Kindle. Aaron closed the Kindle and laid it down before picking up the pillow that Spencer was on. As soon as John saw Spencer, he relaxed.

“I talked to Agent Jareau and revealed who I am to Spencer, so she caved and told me. I guess that Spencer has told her enough about me to know that I was safe to talk to about this. I told Richard to stay away.”

Aaron didn’t know what to say to that.

“Spencer craved for a few days after that. It was strong and horrible. He stayed with my wife and me during that. She’s worried to death over him, but just in case Foyet has followed him to our place where he eats once a week, I don’t want to tell her. I looked into you, and you are a very honorable man. He’s safe in your hands, or I would be taking him away. I had a case I needed to watch over today, so I hope that Foyet didn’t try and slip in here. I know that Agent’s Morgan and Jareau are coming to see you today when you are out of court later. His team is not the leak, but we are finding it, but it seems that it’s digital, not verbal and not an agent who has betrayed him.”

“That’s good.”

“And it’s why things like Shifter form are not on files. Just that they are a Shifter. Foyet knows that, but given that there is some that turn into bugs, it’s impossible for Foyet to track him like that. He’s going to assume that Spencer will get in contact in some way shape or form. We are running traces on every single line that the BAU uses, to make sure they are not tapped, including the personal ones. Richard has been made aware of what is going on because we want his help in getting warrants. I’m going to have Spencer’s apartment emptied, and his things moved onto the base.”

“Is that wise.?” Aaron looked at Spencer and thought about waking him up for this.

“He’s talked about wanting to move for a while now since the new management has taken over the building. JJ is making sure that his bills are paid. We are, however, unsure how to deal with his mother.”

“Do you want me to wake him up?” Aaron asked.

“No, let him sleep. Bring it up when you take him home tonight. JJ knows how to get a hold of me if he makes a decision about that and lets you know. Take care of him.”

“I will be.” Aaron stood up and shook the man’s hand. He would have to figure out where he was in the hierarchy of the FBI because he looked like someone who Aaron knew from press briefings, but he had never actually met the man. Aaron sat back down when the door was shut. He heard the lock engage. When Aaron was in office, the door could be locked and unlocked by Wind but when he was out of the office no one but him could get in. The cleaning staff came early to clean his office while he was still in it. He would sit at his desk while they cleaned the other areas in front of it and then he would move to the armchair in the corner to be out of their way to clean the rest of the office.

Aaron pushed everything Spencer from his mind and started to work on the case he was going to the courthouse for. Spencer stayed behind in the office while Aaron left to head into court. It was worrying to Aaron as it was the furthest Aaron had been from him when he wasn’t at home since Aaron had found him.

Court wrapped up mostly on time with the case going at least another two days. Aaron figured that the Defense would come to him wanting to make a plea after the next day. Aaron just hoped they didn’t want something stupid. Aaron recognized Agents Morgan and Jareau as soon as he stepped into his outer office. Wind was looking at Morgan like he wanted to punch him, which wasn’t that odd considering what Aaron knew of the man from just working this case together.

“Welcome, give me a few minutes to get settled, and I’ll come and get you.”

Morgan started to stand but aborted that movement when Aaron said he would come and get them. Aaron got a glare for that.

“Wind, two cups of coffee for me please, bring the cream and sugar. Agents?”

“Coffee would be wonderful,” JJ said with a smile.

Aaron took his time as he settled his office to make sure that nothing was out that would bother the agents. He made sure that Spencer knew that they were there as well. Spencer was reading on the Kindle when Aaron got into the room, and he just kept on reading it with a few looks in Aaron’s direction as he put up files and created order from the chaos that was his active cases he had worked on during the day. He also made sure the blinds were pulled so that no one with a microphone could listen in.

“Wind, you can let them in,” Aaron said as he pressed the intercom button. He looked at Spencer out of the corner of his eye as the door opened. Spencer didn’t move. Aaron made himself focus on Morgan. Wind settled down the tray with the coffee and additives onto the corner of the desk where Aaron liked it and then left.

“DDA Hotchner, this is Agent Jennifer Jareau who is our Media Liaison. She bullied her way in here with me, and I am unsure why.”

Aaron waited for Wind to shut the door, and he secured it so that no one was going to leave without him opening the door. Morgan was looking around the room and his eyes settled on the Kindle, which Aaron was pretty sure blocked Morgan from being able to see. Aaron reached over and grabbed the two cups of coffee, and he made up one for Spencer. Through trial and error, Aaron had figured out what the Shifter liked in his coffee.

JJ and Morgan took the time to make up their coffee as well but Morgan still just looked upset. Aaron set Spencer’s mug to where he would have to come up onto the desk to get it. He really hoped that Spencer changed out of Shifter form for this was, but he was unsure that he actually would.

“Thank you for coming, Agent Jareau but how are you sure that he isn’t following you around.”

“What?” Morgan asked.

Before Aaron or JJ could say a single thing, Spencer was crawling up onto the desk from behind the Kindle and going for the coffee. Morgan’s eyes widened, and then he smiled.

“Ah Pretty Boy, I’m glad you are okay,” Morgan said.

“He’s mostly healed from the gunshot to his leg, and he’s eating well enough. I was only able to confirm who he was this past weekend, but I’ve had him since the morning after the day he was injured and nearly taken hostage. I found him in my backyard. I told him about what John stopped by to tell me about everything. He didn’t seem to upset about losing his apartment, but he was worried about Foyet breaking in until he was told that you had removed all of the personal things that could have told Foyet where his mother is.”

“He’s not switched back?” Morgan asked as he leaned closer to the desk to watch Spencer drink his coffee from the mug.

“I assume that his injury is still significant enough that he is afraid of hurting it. His moving from Human to hedgehog form probably did a little bit of damage to him. He’s moving well enough, but I have a sling that I used to move him about when I’m going to and from the car and walking around the house.”

“And Richard?” JJ asked.

“Richard has seen him and has promised to not bother me in person any more than he needs to. He hates talking on the phone, but he’ll live.”

“Wait, Richard?” Morgan asked. He looked at Spencer, then JJ, then at Aaron. “Like broke Reid’s heart, Richard?”

Aaron looked at Morgan and saw that Morgan was distraught but also conflicted. Aaron could see the worry in Morgan’s face. Morgan was in love with him. Yet, there was something that was holding him back from doing anything about it. He seemed content to let Spencer do what Spencer wanted.

“Yes, Richard, no, I will not tell you more than that,” Aaron said, and he glared at JJ.

“Reid said that it was none of my business who it was and there are a lot of Richard’s in the area. As long as he’s staying away from him.”

Spencer moved on the desk, but he didn’t go to where JJ or Morgan was but instead over to Aaron and pawed the air. Aaron held out his hand, and Spencer crawled into it. Spencer pawed at the air that was closer to Aaron’s lap, so Aaron settled him there.

“How is he doing?”

“The nightmares have abated some, but if he falls asleep and he’s not near me, he freaks out. I understand that the attachment is not the best, but I’ve protected him, and that’s all that he cares about.”

“Reid doesn’t trust well at all, and he never trusts easy. It took a long time for him to trust anyone on the team, even JJ, with anything. We don’t push him for personal things because of that.” Morgan looked at Spencer like Spencer was his biggest regret. Aaron had to wonder what made the man not reach out and try to start anything with Spencer. Aaron didn’t know much about the ethics or codes that the team had, but as long as they were both willing, nothing was stopping them as teammates from starting a relationship.

“Yes, well he’s settling in well and has been loving my Kindle,” Aaron said.

“Yeah, he can read them fine in Shifter form, but when he’s human they can’t keep up,” JJ said with a smile. Suddenly she moved, making Spencer jump in Aaron’s lap. Aaron reached down and petted him. Spencer started to calm down near instantly. “That reminds me. I stopped by and got some money from the bank to cover some books. I know how much he reads. Even like this and I’m sure that he’s gone through a lot of books on your dime.”

Aaron was about to refuse it when JJ handed over ten hundred dollar bills. Aaron frowned and looked at her.

“Spence has me on an account as I don’t always travel with the team to places, sometimes I stay behind to do other things. So I’m on one of his accounts after a pipe burst, and he needed to have someone come and get cleaners to take care of things as well as protect his books. This a portion of what’s in his slush fund as he calls it.”

Aaron looked at Spencer with a cocked eyebrow.

“I also brought his wallet. He usually doesn’t carry it that much on cases, especially local ones. He leaves it in his desk. I’m assuming that his credentials changed with him. He carries cash in that. If you need anything, just let me know. I’m sure that I can get it.”

Two hours were taken up by Aaron and Morgan talking about the case, with a little input from JJ and once or twice Spencer. It was nearing the time that Aaron needed to leave to get Jack dinner.

“I get why the DDA who was covering the case was switched last moment, especially since you are the third,” Morgan said as he shook Aaron’s hand. Aaron was holding Spencer with the other. Morgan reached out with a finger, and Spencer reached out and laid his paw over the tip and they kind of shook hands. Morgan smiled, and Aaron saw that he was resigned about something. He knew that something was out of reach forever, and Aaron had to wonder if that was Spencer.

The drive home to McLean was quick, even with the traffic that was clogging up DC and the outer areas around the city. Aaron worked on dinner while Spencer read on the Kindle and just stayed near Aaron. It wasn’t going to be easy letting him go when it was time, but Aaron vowed to himself that he would.

Aaron felt warm, and that was odd as he made sure the air conditioning was on low enough that he didn’t need to worry about getting warm. He didn’t sleep well at all when he was warm, but this was a different kind of warm. Aaron cataloged the feelings all over his body and frowned when he realized that he was warm because he was not alone in bed. There was someone stretched along his back. Aaron tried to move, but there was an arm wrapped around his stomach and a leg thrown over his.

Looking at the time, Aaron saw that it was near three in the morning. It was technically Saturday, so he was off work. The workweek had been uneventful after a near break-in at JJ’s house that she lived with her boyfriend Will, but they were not there as they had moved to stay on the base just to be safe. The BAU was on lockdown. While a few were chafing under that according to the meeting that Aaron and Morgan had the day before, most understood. They didn’t want to become a hostage to try and get Spencer out of wherever he was.

Aaron really hoped that it was Spencer behind him and not just because he wanted that but because he really hoped that Foyet wasn’t fucked up enough to break into Aaron’s place and get into bed with him. Aaron looked down at the hand on his belly. The moon was making just enough light in the room that Aaron could see the hand. It was long and thin, fingers looking like they belonged on a tall man and not someone like Foyet. There were a few callouses on the hand but in places where a gun would make them as well as pens. Aaron knew that it was stupid, but he tangled his fingers with Spencer’s and brought the hand up to his mouth to kiss the back of the hand. The leg thrown over him tightened on him, and Spencer’s body moved just a little closer, and Aaron felt the erection at his back. Spencer was in very little it seemed as Aaron finally realized that he was feeling skin at his back.

It was about five minutes, and Spencer relaxed enough to where Aaron could finally turn around in Spencer’s embrace. Aaron looked at his face, at peace while he slept. Aaron was still just so glad that Spencer trusted him. Aaron reached out and touched his face. Spencer’s eyes shot open, and he looked at Aaron with a shocked look on his face. Like he knew instantly that he was not on the pillow and in Shifter form.

“I’m sorry,” Spencer said. He tried to move backward, but his hand got tangled in Aaron’s even tighter by Aaron and Aaron didn’t let him move.

“No need to be sorry, Spencer.” Aaron knew that it was stupid and not the right thing to do, but he did it anyway. Aaron leaned forward and kissed Spencer. There was only a second of hesitation before Spencer was kissing him back. Aaron wrapped an arm around the other man and pulled him up to where Spencer was on top of him. Aaron shuddered at the feel of Spencer’s cock brushing his, rubbing just right and letting Aaron know that he was still hard. That the hardness was for Aaron and not some dream that Spencer had been in.

Aaron lowered the hand that was on Spencer’s back, using leverage at his lower back to rub their cocks together. Aaron heard and felt the moan that Spencer let out. It was good, too damned good in Aaron’s opinion. There was something about Aaron still being in his sleep clothes while Spencer was naked that had Aaron aching for release after too short of a time of them rocking against each other.

“Give it up for me,” Aaron panted against Spencer’s cheek as he needed to take in air.

Spencer groaned, and Aaron felt the wet spreading on his groin through his sleep pants. He kept on rocking them together until a few thrusts later he came as well. Aaron tried to pull Spencer toward him, but Spencer just slipped off to the side, resting there, half sprawled over Aaron’s body. He didn’t seem to want to move from that position.

Aaron’s mind was blown, he had just had sex with someone he had technically never fully met, just after Spencer had turned human for the first time in weeks. Spencer snorted into his shoulder and then placed a kiss there. It was a sign of affection that Aaron had seen a lot in the hedgehog in the last week only it usually was a little peck on whatever part of Aaron was closest to him. Aaron sighed and forced his mind to settle down. Spencer wasn’t a fainting damsel, and he was smart enough to know his own mind. Aaron wrapped his arm around Spencer

“What do you need?”

“A shower. A real one. I checked over my knee already, and it seems fine. I left my clothes in a pile in front of your hamper in the bathroom. They were covered in blood, first from me and then the EMT that Foyet slit the throat of while I was on the gurney. They will need them for evidence in case Foyet is taken alive.” Spencer relaxed a little more as Aaron pressed a kiss to his forehead. “And food. I’m so hungry.”

“Well there are leftovers in the fridge, or I can cook breakfast early. I doubt that I am getting back to sleep tonight at all. I can do breakfast while you shower.” Aaron didn’t like the idea, but he wanted to give Spencer the option more than he wanted to be around Spencer as much as he wanted.

Aaron knew that he had done the stupid thing and fell in love with a man he had technically never met except for Internet talking of him and becoming too attached to his Shifter form.

“I want to shower with you,” Spencer said. He reached out and turned Aaron’s face to his own. There was a look of sadness there. “Unless you don’t want to. Do you regret what we just did?”

“No!” Aaron sat up so quick that Spencer couldn’t react at all and just fell down onto the bed. Aaron turned to look down at him. “No. I don’t regret it. I just…I’ve never done something like that. It’s always been very…structured, my relationships. I don’t want to regret anything, and I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You heard Morgan, I don’t trust easy. I never have. Too many people have left me in my life, and I don’t trust that everyone will. You treated me better these last weeks than almost everyone else in my life has outside of my mother when she was having good days. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I want to try. With you.”

“And Morgan?” Aaron asked.

“Morgan?” Spencer asked. His face wrinkled, and he sat up to look at Aaron on the same level. “What does Morgan have to do with this?”

“Morgan is in love with you.”

“No, he’s not.” Spencer shook his head, his eyes wide.

Aaron hated to burst that bubble, but Morgan would probably be a little more vocal about the relationship with Aaron than he was with Richard. Having Spencer lost to them had made Morgan a little desperate. Aaron didn’t think that Morgan would physically hurt Spencer, but he would be vocal about the relationship. They were all profilers. Relationships that started in intense moments didn’t tend to work out when things were settled.

“Spencer, he is. I saw it that first day he came with JJ to my office to talk about the case, and at the time he didn’t know you were there.”

Spencer was shaking his head back and forth, Aaron wasn’t sure why Spencer refused to believe it.

“That’s impossible given-” Spencer stopped speaking, biting his lips to keep himself quiet.

Something had happened to Morgan at some point that would make a relationship with Spencer impossible. Aaron could think of a number of things that could have happened to Morgan as a child that would stop him from wanting a relationship with a man.

“Then why do you think Morgan is so…strange with you?”

“He’s not. He’s Morgan. I don’t hang out with him that much. I don’t even think he likes me that much. He thinks I’m a child most of the time. He thinks that I don’t know what I want or need in my life.”

“He’s trying to protect you. He wants to make sure you aren’t hurt and is going about it all the wrong ways.”

“I don’t-” Spencer dropped down onto the bed, his hands reaching out for Aaron to pull him in. Spencer brushed his lips over Aaron’s before pressing his forehead to Aaron’s, just looking him in the eyes. “I don’t want to talk about him and the issues with him. Can we just be together?”

“Sure. You know that Jack is going to freak out when he sees you, right?”

“I wasn’t-” Spencer bit his lip again and then licked them.

Aaron couldn’t help, he ducked down to take Spencer’s mouth in a kiss. It was interesting to feel how much Spencer relaxed with just that. He could take him right now, and Aaron knew it, but he didn’t want that. Aaron slipped an arm under Spencer’s shoulders, wiggling between skin and bed before he pulled him with him.

“Let’s get into the shower. You go ahead in and get the water warm while I strip the bed at least.”

“Okay.” Spencer looked like he didn’t want to be that far away from Aaron, but Jack had a habit of coming in and jumping on Aaron’s bed, and he did not want his son hitting the spot where their release had escaped. Spencer slipped off the bed, looking back at Aaron three times as he walked to the bathroom, naked. Aaron watched him walking, liking the view a lot. Spencer was thin but not so thin that Aaron thought he was trying to be that way, more like someone who was active in various ways and ate a good and balanced set of meals. Or he forgot to eat. Aaron could see that one with the way that Spencer lost himself while reading as a hedgehog much less as a human.

Aaron locked the bedroom door before he followed Spencer into the bathroom. Aaron paused as he saw that Spencer was already in the shower with a little bit of steam building in the room. Aaron shut the door and started to strip off his soiled sleep clothes. Opening the door into the shower, Aaron saw Spencer in the middle of the shower with his face turned up toward the water, his hair pushed back to where it wasn’t blocking his face. His hair was longer than Aaron assumed it would be. Out in the bedroom, it had been mostly hidden in shadow or bunched behind his head. Aaron walked to him, slipping a hand into Spencer’s wet hair. Raking nails over skin, Aaron waited for Spencer’s response. He didn’t have to wait long for Spencer’s gasp and the slight shudder that went through his body at the feel.

“You like having your hair played with?”

“Not so much that as I love fingers on my scalp. I don’t have a lot of people who do it.”

“Well, I’ll do it as much as possible.”

“I’m not…you said it yourself Aaron, Jack’s not the greatest at secrets. I can’t tell him.”

“I know. You can be you up here, though. You can be you in this room with me.” Aaron kissed him, deeply before reaching out to grab the shampoo. “I want to touch you everywhere.”

“Aaron,” Spencer breathed.

“Let me.” Aaron poured shampoo into his hand before starting to work on Spencer’s hair. He knew that while Spencer had stayed clean as a hedgehog, there was going to be the feeling that he needed to be cleaned as a human. Spencer didn’t fight Aaron as he washed him, letting him feel Aaron’s hands all over his body. He didn’t fight it as Aaron pushed him into the cold wall to sate their erections from the touching. He was utterly pliant under Aaron’s hands. The only parts of him that moved were his hands where they touched everywhere that they could on Aaron as Aaron rutted them together.

Spencer yawned as Aaron dried him off and Aaron hoped that Spencer would go back to sleep for a little bit. Aaron wanted to cuddle a little bit before he started breakfast, and a cuddle in bed sounded really lovely. His time with Spence was limited. He wanted to make the most of what time he had before he had to share Spencer with the world again.

“DAD!” Jack yelled from down on the first floor.

Aaron jerked, making himself gag on Spencer’s cock in his mouth. Aaron had not even realized that Jack was awake. Spencer didn’t even make a noise of complaint he just let go of Aaron’s hair and stood up, buttoning the pants he had been wearing after tucking himself back in. Aaron was dressed as well, having meant to go down and started breakfast but Spencer had become too much of a temptation laying on the bed in just pants and socks. His shirt had been beside him on the bed, but he had been reading on Aaron’s Kindle.

The nights over the last week had turned into evenings spent in the bedroom, sexual contact wasn’t that big of a thing, they mostly talked. Aaron telling Spencer about his childhood while Spencer told Aaron about his. Both were bad, but Spencer had rays of hope while Aaron had little hope of any kind before Haley.

Spencer was a hedgehog before Aaron had the door unlocked. Aaron rushed back over to grab him. Jack hadn’t screamed again, so it was something but not big enough to actually make Jack yell again.

Aaron looked around the living room area as he landed on the bottom of the stairs. He saw nothing out of place, but there was a screen paused on the TV. Aaron saw that it was a special news bulletin for McLean.

“Dad, that man’s been caught.”

“What, man?” Aaron didn’t dare hope that it was Foyet, but there was also the fear that it was Foyet and Aaron as going to lose having Spence with him every single day. Aaron knew that it was going to happen, but he wasn’t ready for it. Aaron took the remote when Jack handed it over, and Aaron hit play. The show started up where Jack had been watching a morning cartoon. It was Sunday, and Jack liked to watch some old-style cartoons then the screen changed, and Aaron recognized one of the normal newscasters for the late-night news for the area.

“FBI have cordoned off an area of McLean, shown here.” An image took over the screen to show that it was several blocks over, right where Spencer had been attacked by Foyet in the ambulance. “While we do not have the full details about what is going on, it’s the same team that was on the scene when FBI Agent Spencer Reid went missing.”

The newscaster went on to talk about what had gone on nearly a month before and how the search for Spencer had gone. She was talking and then stopped, her face turning to the side. “We have word from Jake who is at the scene. Jake.”

The scene on the screen changed to show Agent Morgan as well as Jake.

“Agent Morgan, please give your statement.”

“Thank you. While the area will be cordoned off to make sure that there are no traps, the manhunt for George Foyet, the Boston Reaper, is over. He was caught as he tried to break into a house that he thought was empty. Instead, there was an off duty fireman after a three-day shift. We have confirmation that the body is Foyet and that he was dead on the scene when the EMTs arrived. More will be released when we have the full details, but I wanted to make sure that the public was aware that the manhunt is over and that they can stop looking for him.”

Aaron was numb for a few minutes. The newscast played on while he just stared at the screen unseeing. He felt Spencer moving in his hand and set him down as he started to wiggle even more. Aaron wasn’t ready for Spencer to leave. He wasn’t prepared for anything that was going back to his typical day to day life. He looked down at Spencer to see that he was just staring at the screen as well.

“Hedgie’s going to leave now, isn’t he?” Jack asked.

“What?” Aaron asked as he wasn’t sure that he understood. He looked at Jack. “What do you mean?”

“Hedgie, Agent Reid is going to leave, isn’t he?”

Aaron looked at Spencer who jumped off of the coffee table and then disappeared from sight.

“Why do you think that Hedgie is Agent Reid?”

“Because I know that coincidences happen but that was a little too…coincidence.”

“How long have you known?”

“For sure? A week ago. You were on the phone with someone talking about Spencer. I was really quiet as I was trying to sneak cookies, but Hedgie was in the kitchen, and he’s ratted me out before. You hung up and came out and finished cooking dinner.”

Aaron remembered that it was an update to JJ about Spencer after the team got home from a bad case. Morgan had skipped out on the last of the meetings before the weekend.

“Jack’s too smart,” Spencer said as he came into the room. He was wearing a T-Shirt of Aaron’s that had been in the dryer from the night before. That explained where he had gone. Aaron smiled at him, and the smile that Spencer gave him back was blinding in its happiness. Yes, Jack, I’m leaving, but I’ll be back.”

“Cause you love dad?” Jack asked. He ran over to Spencer and wrapped his arms around Spencer’s legs. Spencer looked up at Aaron with shock on his face.

Aaron got up off of the couch and walked over to Spencer, cupping the sides of Spencer’s face and pulling him into a kiss. Jack giggled at that, but Aaron knew that at some point, he would start to make gagging noises instead of happy sounds.

“I care for him and for you. I think I picked the best place in the world to hide away until my team could find me.”

There was a knock at the door, and Aaron knew that it was Spencer’s team. Aaron looked at Spencer before he nodded toward the door. He was going to let the team in but there was no way he could be happy in letting them inside. Aaron picked up Jack even though he was too big for it and settled them both on the couch. Aaron left enough room for someone else to sit at the other end. He figured that it was Agents Jareau and Morgan, but there were more voices than just them. Aaron was about to stand up when the team entered the living room. Aaron nodded at David Rossi before looking at the Agents Prentiss and Brannon. Morgan and Jareau were behind them. Spencer walked right over to the couch and sat down beside Aaron. The team scattered around.

“Foyet had exploited a security bug in the FBI system. It was horrible that he had as much access as he did, but then it was a good thing that Reid’s a paranoid bastard when it comes to his Shifter status,” Rossi said.

“If you had a weak form like I do, you would too Rossi,” Spencer said.

“So it’s safe for him to go back?” Aaron asked.

“Yes, however, his apartment…Foyet burned it down. They were able to get everyone out, and only Reid’s apartment and the one beside were damaged. The other has little damage, and it was the kitchen area that was touched. We can only assume that he snapped not being able to watch Reid worry about him coming after him.” Morgan looked a little shell shocked.

Aaron looked at the team and saw that all of them did. None of them suspected this.

“What do you mean watch?” Aaron asked.

“There was something about the Boston set of cases that we kept back, and we can’t release,” Rossi stared. “But we think that he attacked Reid and wasn’t trying to actually take him. He had a knife with him that he used to kill the EMTs but also his gun. Since he was killed by the fireman, we will never know.”

“He wanted to see me being different. He wanted to see me being afraid for my life. That’s what got him off those last years in Boston. Watching the life he destroyed,” Spencer said.

“We can only assume that and how he was. You are free to come home. Erin has already made sure that you’ve gotten your standard pay and was put in as protective custody. Given the access that Foyet had to the files, we are all glad that she backed down when she demanded to know where you were.”

“So I’m free to go home, but I don’t have a home left to go to?” Spencer asked.

Aaron looked at Spencer, seeing that he was looking a little lost but not entirely unhappy.

“The FBI will pay for a hotel until you find a new place. All of your things had been pulled from your apartment and taken to the base, so you didn’t lose anything.”

“I’m not ready…I’m not ready to go back to work.”

“We didn’t figure you would be. You’ve stayed in your Shifter form for nearly a month. You need time to get used to being a human again,” Rossi stood up, and Prentiss and Brannon followed. “JJ brought a few go-bags you had at the office with her, and we have your phone. You will need to charge it.”

“Thanks.” Spencer stood up and followed the team to the door. There was a little bit of talking, and Aaron was just stuck on the couch. Jack got up and moved to where he could watch, but Aaron couldn’t go and watch Spencer leave with the team to find a place to stay. The sound of the door shutting drew Aaron out of the stupor, and he looked to see Spencer with the phone in hand, and Jack reached out for it. Spencer handed it over, and Jack moved to plug it into the wall where Aaron had a charger then Jack was going up the stairs to go somewhere that wasn’t where Aaron and Spencer weren’t. “So I’m technically homeless.”

“Technically,” Aaron said. He felt his heart racing, and his lungs felt like they were about to explode. Spencer was walking toward him with a smile on his face before he settled on Aaron’s lap. Jack said something but Aaron couldn’t understand him. Aaron was stuck looking at Spencer’s face and the happiness in his eyes. Aaron swallowed, feeling like there was something stuck in his throat.

“I need a place to live in. I hate moving.”

“Okay,” Aaron said because he wasn’t understanding.

“Why are you trembling?” Spencer lifted up Aaron’s hand and cupped it against his cheek.

“I’m scared,” Aaron admitted.


“You are leaving,” Aaron said.

“Oh, Aaron.” Spencer leaned in, bringing Aaron’s other hand up to his other cheek and breathed into Aaron’s face. “Aaron, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here. I want to come here after cases. I want to call this place home. I want to come home to you and to Jack after cases and live as a hedgehog if I need to.”

“You want to come here? You want to live here?” Aaron tried to wrap his head around that. Spencer had lived with him for nearly a month, yes but most of that was as a hedgehog. The thing was that Aaron wanted it. He wanted that more than anything in the world.

“You accepted me as I was. A strange person who knew that you knew I was a Shifter but never pushed it. You are the first to ever take me and love me as a hedgehog. I fell in love with you before I ever became Human again. I’m normally not that kind of person. I don’t do crazy things like that, but you slipped inside of my heart with how you treated me, how you still do despite everything else. Do you want me to stay?” It was the first time since Spencer had started to look upset. Like he was pushing too much, wanting too much.

“Yes, I want you to stay, Spencer. I was…he’s gone, and now you can leave. You can go anywhere that you want. You can do anything you want.”

“I want to stay with you. I want to be with you.”

Aaron pulled Spencer down into a kiss, pushing all of his emotions into that kiss to make sure that Spencer knew how much he was wanted, how much Aaron needed him. Aaron tried to not let Spencer go, but the younger man pushed out of his arms, breaking the kiss. Aaron looked up at where Spencer was standing and reached out his hand. Aaron laid his hand into his and allowed himself to be pulled up. Spencer kept on walking though, moving them up into the bedroom. Aaron heard a TV in Jack’s room and swallowed as the look that Spencer gave him as he dropped his hand as he stepped into Aaron’s bedroom was full of heat, passion, lust, and love. Spencer’s hands went to the shirt he was wearing and pulled it over his head. Aaron stepped into the room and shut the door.

Spencer stripped naked, no words said, no trying to make it sexy but to Aaron, it was one of the most erotic things that he had ever seen. He swallowed when Spencer walked toward him, starting to strip Aaron down. Aaron knew that this was going to be different than they had ever done. This wasn’t going to be rutting against each other, using hands, or using mouths. Aaron cupped the sides of Spencer’s face and kissed him, hard and deep as he started to back the younger man toward the bed.

“How do you want to do it?” Aaron had sex with men, giving and receiving, he didn’t care much which way they went.

“I want to feel you in me, on me, over me. Reminding me that I’m alive and safe.”

Aaron nodded, words were caught in his throat. He kept his hands on Spencer’s cheeks as Spencer leaned back in for a kiss. Aaron lost track of time as he kissed Spencer, both of them just standing there naked. Aaron only touching Spencer’s cheeks and Spencer touching Aaron everywhere that he could reach. It felt too damned good, Spencer’s long fingers coaxing sounds from him just by touching him. There were barely there touches over areas that made Aaron shiver, there were harder touches on spots that had Aaron’s cock jumping. There were even touches that were somewhere between that pulled moans from somewhere deep inside of Aaron.

Spencer was the first to stop the kiss. He gentled the kiss and broke it, but Aaron could feel how reluctant he was. Aaron watched as Spencer sat down at the end of the bed and looked at Aaron expectant. Aaron moved that step closer, letting his knees hit the end of the bed as Spencer scooted back. Aaron followed him all the way up the bed until Spencer was laying back on the pillows, his legs spread to allow Aaron to settle in-between them. Spencer shuddered as Aaron gripped his knees to hold them apart looking him up and down. They knew every single inch of each other’s bodies having explored them a great deal since that first night. Aaron had bought lube and condoms when he had gone to the store without Spencer or Jack a few days before on the way home from work. Spencer had wanted to stay at the house while Jack was at a school. Aaron figured it was him wanting to be human without anyone around. Aaron could understand that.

“I want you in me, now,” Spencer said.

“Okay.” Aaron reached over for the lube and condoms. He didn’t figure that Spencer would fight that. The blood that had been tested at the scene that was his had been checked for pathogens from the first attack and the UnSub who had shot him had been tested as well to make sure there was no transfer. Still, Spencer hadn’t been tested yet. They did have a little risky contact, but Aaron hadn’t thought much about that until now. Aaron would make sure that it was one of the first things Spencer did now that he was safe. He coated his fingers and pressed two to Spencer’s hole. They had played in the showers they had taken, Aaron holding Spencer to the wall and playing with his prostate until he came, coating the tile. Spencer usually returned the favor in the same fashion.

“Yes,” Spencer hissed as he arched his back off of the bed a little bit. He groaned, and his hole tightened on Aaron’s fingers as Aaron tried to pull them out to get more lube. Aaron pushed them in, going for Spencer’s prostate. He knew how to make Spencer’s body tremble with pleasure after only a week.

“You are beautiful,” Aaron said as he freed his fingers to get more lube. He pressed them into Spencer again, making sure that he had a lot of lube. Spencer had talked about, not like a lot of stretching, he liked to feel that burn but Aaron wanted to make sure he was lubed enough. Aaron knew what Spencer liked and wanted, they had talked it to death while twined together in bed. It was strange to feel the slick inside of Spencer. It was warm. Aaron was ready for this on a level that he never had been before. Spencer reached behind his head and grabbed a pillow, Aaron got ready to help him get it under his hips when he shook the pillow out onto the floor and handed the case over to Aaron. Aaron smiled and took it to wipe his fingers on before he opened up the condom and slipped it on. He smeared more lube on it and then grabbed Spencer under his ass cheeks. He pulled Spencer up, slipping thumbs between cheeks to hold him open.

“Not beautiful,” Spencer gasped as Aaron pushed his head inside.

“Oh, you are beautiful to me. Beautiful when you sleep in your regular skin, when you sunbathe as a hedgehog, and when I do this.” Aaron pushed in just a little more, giving Spencer a little of that burn that he liked. Spencer gasped, and his head arched back, his back following after it. Aaron seated himself fully inside of him.

Letting go of Spencer’s cheeks, Aaron wrapped his legs around him before leaning over to kiss him. Spencer had told him he was vocal when he was being fucked, so Aaron took him at those words. He covered the sharp gasp that Spencer let out when Aaron’s shifting cock ran over his prostate. Spencer grabbed the back of Aaron’s neck to hold him in place. Aaron let Spencer dictate and control the kiss as he found a rhythm that he liked and made Spencer start to tremble.

Aaron knew that he was doing it all right as he felt Spencer’s other hand settle on his side, clenching and releasing with each thrust that Aaron made. It was the first time that Aaron had ever had sex that felt like this. He had loved sex with Haley, but this was something very, very different. He felt a connection to Spencer that was more than physical, more than emotional. Aaron wasn’t even sure who started to come first. He was pretty sure they came at the exact same instant. It was a good feeling, how Spencer clung to him as he came. The way he seemed to want to feel Aaron inside of him as far as he could get.

The aftermath was different too, Aaron lay in bed, barely on the bed at all as Spencer was clinging like an octopus to him. Spencer acted like he didn’t want to let Aaron go at all. He barely let Aaron go so that Aaron could take off the condom and dispose of it.

“I’m loathed to leave the bed, but Jack’s going to want attention at some point.” Spencer’s stomach growled in reaction to Spencer’s words, making Spencer laugh. “And I guess that my stomach is going to want attention as well.”

Aaron laughed and rolled so that Spencer was on top. Spencer moved to where he was looking down at Aaron while sitting on him. They both needed a shower now. If they showered together, it was going to take a little while but nearly as long as two separate showers. “Let’s go get clean and then we can go somewhere an eat.”

“Going out into public, that’s…I want to, but I might be a little fidgety,” Spencer said.

Aaron leaned up, letting Spencer shift to where he was sitting back a little further on Aaron. “You take as long as you need to get used to being in public. I saw how you were when you were out with us that one time. It’ll be fine. If you squeeze my hand so hard it hurts, it will be fine.”

“Everything’s going to be fine?” Spencer asked. He was needing reassurances.


Eighteen Months Later</1>

Aaron watched as Jack ran around, trying to catch little Henry as the boy toddled around the yard. It was Jack’s birthday party. It was warm for the season, so he and Will were outside with the boys letting them blow off steam. Jack had a party the weekend before that had been for all of his friends. This time it was just close friends and family. Most of the family was inside. Which was mostly friends that were Spencer’s but Aaron was glad about it. Jack was happy with who was there, so Aaron was delighted. The rest of the people who were coming were going to be late.

The sound of the garage door opening and shutting made Aaron smile a little bit. He wasn’t going to make Jack aware that Spencer was home. Jack had a present for Spencer, and Aaron wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to be taken. Spencer had messaged Aaron that he had a gift for Jack as well, but it was a surprise for both Hotchner men. Aaron was a little worried as Spencer had texted about it instead of called.

“PAPA!” Jack screamed.

Aaron whipped his head around to look at where Spencer would have come out of the garage. Jack was running full tilt at Spencer. Aaron watched as Spencer kind of froze in place as the word that Jack had screamed had washed over him. Aaron swallowed because Spencer wasn’t reacting. Jack didn’t notice he was too gung-ho about getting to Spencer. Aaron saw it, and he was too far away to stop the crash of Spencer and Jack to the ground. There were a few seconds of Jack wiggling to sit up and then Spencer was gone. Jack stayed still until he saw where Spencer was and picked him up. Jack turned to face Aaron.

“Dad, I scared him. Come comfort him!” Jack was holding Spencer out in his hands.

Aaron chuckled to him and walked over to take Spencer from Jack. Aaron let Spencer crawl up his arm and onto his shoulder so that he could look around. The rest of Spencer’s team fanned out behind him, and Aaron saw Morgan holding a puppy in his hands.

“Well, Pretty Boy figured that Jack would tackle him, so he wanted me to hold Princess here.”

“And what breed is Princess?” Aaron asked as he looked at her. She was small and fluffy, but she didn’t look like a single breed that Aaron could figure out.

“Purebred mutt.” Morgan was smiling as he set her down on the ground. She rushed to Jack, trying to tackle him to get attention.

Aaron walked over to the team to greet them but saved Morgan for last. “Her mother?”

“Tortured to death by the UnSub along with her six brothers and sisters. There was a dirt area under the house where she crawled from inside. Reid spent an hour under there coaxing her out. She ripped the UnSub’s hand apart with her puppy teeth. Reid refused to leave her. It’s part of why we are so late getting back. She was at the vet and has her paperwork. The vet did it pro bono after everything that happened. Her tests will be called to Reid when they come back. I’m the only one that she’ll let touch her out of the team besides Spencer, so I had babysitting duty on the jet and the drive.”

“You didn’t drive?”

“No, Reid drove. He refused to let me have the keys.”

Aaron turned to look at Spencer who just stuck his tongue out at Morgan before slipping it back in quick when Morgan tried to grab it. A lot had changed in Spencer’s life since Aaron and Jack had entered it. He had become less of a book reading loner and actually branched out into have friends on his own team besides JJ. Morgan had settled down a great deal on the fact that Spencer was never going to be his. Aaron had held Spencer through his crying when the fights had started between him and Morgan. Then David Rossi has forced Morgan into therapy, and Aaron had been there when Morgan had confessed that he considered Spencer safe and it was why he thought he was in love with him.

“Reid’s been doing that more and more,” Prentiss said. She was carrying a bag of what looked like presents for Jack. Jack had taken to the team very well, loving being around them all of the time.

Aaron heard a bark and turned to see that Princess was jumping up and down while Jack did as well. Aaron had talked to Spencer about a dog, Jack had done well at taking care of Spencer when he had been in hedgehog form and was doing well with the upgraded Betta tank that had three Bettas in it, different tanks for each that flowed water from one to the other. Jack had asked for a dog the first time in a long time just two months before.

Jack rushed over to show Henry his new puppy and the team flowed by Aaron so leave him and Spencer alone. Aaron looked at Will to make sure that he was okay with Aaron leaving to talk to Spencer. Will nodded and then focused on Jack and Henry.

“So, that was a shock.”

The nip on Aaron’s neck told him that Spencer didn’t appreciate Aaron’s snark on that. Aaron walked into the kitchen and started to prepare a cup of coffee for Spencer. When he felt Spencer move down his arm, Aaron held it up so Spencer could walk down it. He settled on the counter and changed back.

“He called me Papa,” Spencer said. He was sitting on the counter and spread his legs when Aaron stepped up between them. Aaron settled his hands on Spencer’s knees for fear of setting them too high up, and that wasn’t what this conversation was about.

“You know that he loves you, Spencer.”

“I know that, but there is a marked difference in loving me and wanting to call me Papa. I wasn’t exactly ready for it. Someone didn’t warn me.” Spencer was glaring at him, but Aaron didn’t really care.

Spencer was too used to being told things that were emotional. Aaron wanted him to get better at being in the moment and experiencing them with no warning. Spencer turned into his Shifter form when he was stressed. He did it less, but there were still moments. Like the first time that Jack had wanted Spencer when he was sick and not Aaron. After Spencer had settled Jack down to sleep, he had turned into a hedgehog for the rest of the night. Aaron had not figured it out until the next morning when Spencer refused to turn back. Jack had just cuddle with Hedgie instead. Aaron had figured it out hours later.

“Jack’s going to do things that shock both of us, and I can’t warn you about everything that is going to happen. We are both going to be shocked about things. Jack understand that if you shift, that means you are overwhelmed. You saw what he did there. He gave you to me. You are going to be fine.”

“I don’t know what it means to be a dad.”

Aaron knew that was the seat of Spencer’s problems. He had not had a father figure to even emulate or do the opposite of like Aaron. The only thing that Spencer had learned from his father was not to leave a kid. Aaron didn’t see that happening. Even if Aaron and Spencer didn’t last, which Aaron could not see at all, he couldn’t see him making Spencer never see Jack again or Spencer allowing it. Aaron had his book time with Jack where they read together on the couch or in the library, and Spencer was the homework helper. He was better at it than Aaron. He seemed to understand better what Jack’s issue with each thing was and was able to help him learn and understand. Jack’s grades were not improving as they were already really good, but he was spending less time working on homework, which was excellent all around.

“You do. You’ve been doing it for nearly eighteen months, Spencer. You soothe him when he’s hurt or sick, you cuddle him when he’s down. You punish him when he’s doing something he shouldn’t or something that will hurt him. You explain everything to him, why he’s being punished. You are already being a great father to him. You just gotta keep doing that. There is no manual on this. We will both mess up, and we will both mess him up in some way. We can’t help that in any way, shape, or form. Every parent messes up their kid in some small way. It’s making sure that he has the tools to deal with life. I’ve done pretty well on that front so far, and so have you.” Aaron leaned in, pressing a kiss to Spencer’s forehead before he smiled against the skin there. “He loves you and wants to claim you in the only way that he can at the moment. That means calling you Papa.”

“At least for now,” Spencer said.

“For now. I promised you I wouldn’t do that until at least three years together, Spencer and I meant that. Yes, I want the marriage, and I know you don’t care either direction, but the fact that you are willing to indulge me in it means that I’m happy. I do not ever want to push you further than you are happy going so I’ll be content to wait for as long as you need to be happy with marrying me.” Aaron tipped Spencer’s face up to look at him. He smiled, and Spencer smiled back. It was nice, and it was comforting for both of them.

“Let’s go enjoy the party and see how much of a mess that Princess has made.”

“Princess? Why does she have the name of Princess?”

“Because she is my princess. She’s had a rough life, and she needs to have a happy life, so we are going to treat her like a princess.”

Aaron laughed and stepped back so that Spencer could slide off of the counter. He reached over and picked up his cup of coffee. Smiling as he took a sip of it, it was Spencer’s favorite blend. A little more pricey than Aaron would pay for coffee, but Spencer liked it, and so Aaron bought it. Aaron liked it better as well but not enough to pay for that just for himself. It was interesting to figure out Spencer’s blend of cost-saving and not buying this he wanted even though he had the money and the things that he spent his money on like books and coffee. Spencer’s book budget was huge. Aaron had been shocked to see what he allowed himself to buy in a month. Aaron enjoyed indulging him in an extra few books a month.

Spencer had spent a week reading all of Aaron’s law texts from his library and then the rest of the books as well. Aaron found Spencer adorable when he was reading. He had sat and watched him for an hour one day while reading a fantasy book. The minute changes on his face as he read passages, the joy, the sadness, the happiness. His face was never still as he read books of any kind. Aaron had seen him taking a pen to books and marking things out, writing notes, and then emailing those notes to publishers to tell them how stupid their scientific writers were. Aaron found it adorable. There actually wasn’t a lot that he didn’t find adorable about Spencer.

Aaron watched as Spencer walked out to where the party was, waiting for Jack to notice him. They were going to do just fine, the three of them. Even after over a year of living together, there were still hiccups and getting used to each other, but they were going to be just fine. Aaron knew it, he felt it deep inside of him. It was almost like they were meant to be.

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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