Title: By the Rise and the Set
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid
Tags: Fantasy AU, First Time
Summary: Aaron Hotchner was a former FBI profiler who gave up that life to help his son, Jack, get control of his magic before someone was hurt after Jack’s magic started to become uncontrollable after the death of his mother and Aaron’s ex-wife. He moves to New Haven an all magical city that regular Humans aren’t allowed to live. Aaron takes up as the town magician and all-around peacekeeper and one of the first things he realizes is that the wolf he’s heard howling at night is far from normal.
Word Count: 25,549
Year: Season 5 (August 2009+)
Spoilers: Up Through Season 5
Notes: Not a Harry Potter-themed story. I’m so pleased to have written a story for the lovely art made by Chestnut_NOLA. I saw it and this story just popped in my head.
Gift For: Chestnut_NOLA
Aaron Hotchner looked into the back seat of his car and gave his sleeping son a smile. It was hard for Jack to accept that they were leaving home. Jack wasn’t happy, and it was mainly because he was the cause of it, and Jack knew it. Aaron had tried to stick it out, but Jack needed him more than Jack needed his father to stay in the FBI. Aaron would have loved to have remained in the FBI and stayed with his job. However, he had to make the best choice for his son.
The death of Haley had been the turning point. Haley had been Jack’s rock in the world and the teacher of his magic and how to use it. Without her, Jack’s magic was finding no one to settle on. His magic was lashing out in ways that made it impossible for them to stay in an area that was full of regular Humans. At least without caging Jack’s magic and Aaron refused to do that. Binding magic was horrific to Aaron, and he had seen first hand what it could do to someone who was fully invested in their magic. Aaron had hidden his magic as a child, learning before he could talk that his father hated magic and didn’t know what his wife was. Then Sean had been born, and he had just shone with magic. There had been no hiding it, and their father had bound the magic in his youngest son. Sean was the favored son, even after that and he had turned into a sociopath. He was still in the mental health facility that he had been in since he had tried to kill several classmates to see if they bleed the same.
Aaron had moved him from the standard ward to the magical ward as soon as he was old enough to do so. He was still never going to be able to live among regular Humans, but he was at least with people who fully understood what he was. They were able to treat him better with lower doses of medications that did help Magical folk and getting him off the things that didn’t help him at all. Sean was Magical, putting a block on that magic didn’t stop his biology. Aaron hated his mother for allowing all of that to happen to Sean. She had never stood up for either one of her sons.
Shaking his head to rid him of those thoughts, Aaron pulled off to the side of the road right at the town’s perimeter. It was a large stone wall, much like the Great Wall of China, it wasn’t that much like a wall at all, but the name had lived on from earlier times until now. Aaron got out of his car and made sure that it locked as he didn’t want anyone getting into the car with Jack. The boy had enough trauma and didn’t need more.
The magical wall was going to be his. He had been in the town enough, leaving Jack with Jessica who was going to follow them in two weeks. Jessica loved her nephew more than anything else that was in this world, and Aaron would never want to separate them, it was part of why Aaron had taken so long to make the decision. Jessica had jumped at the chance to get away from her father in the aftermath of the death of Haley. The man had gone nearly insane and tried to get custody of Jack. The judge that dropped that quickly stating that it would set a bad precedent that would see anyone in law enforcement have to worry about losing their children just because the people they hunted could come after them.
Aaron pulled his athamé from the sheath on his hip. It wasn’t visible until he did that. He knew where it was so the magic that kept it hidden from even other Magical folk didn’t deter him. He cut his hand and said the simple spell that would bind himself to the front line magical protection that the town had. New Haven was what it sounded like, it was a haven for those who didn’t want to be entirely away from Humans. It was smack in the middle of the area near where Big Stone Gap was in Virginia and surrounded by parks and national reserves and the like. It wasn’t hard to find Humans when one wanted to. It was going to be good for Jack to have that little bit of life back to him when he wanted it. The boy also loved nature.
The former peacekeeper for New Haven had upped and moved to a new area with little warning, and the town’s protections had been fading over the last few weeks while Aaron had been getting his life in order to move. There was little for him to do to take over those protections. Aaron would know if anything happened in the town based on the spell he was weaving with his blood into the wall. It would all settle over the area over the next few weeks. Aaron was a magical powerhouse and could easily protect New Haven more than it had ever been protected. Aaron figured based on what he was feeling that the spells that had been over the town before were so much less than they were now. The last peacekeeper had been utterly ordinary. It was horrible how normal he had been. Aaron knew that he was in a class of his own really, but there were several classes between where he was and where this person.
It wasn’t a wonder why the man had left. This had been way too much on him, and Aaron could tell that from the spells.
The magic washed over Aaron, and he looked up to see that there was something on the wall just about twenty feet away from him. It was a wolf. The animals of the world, even the ones that Humans could see were all a little magical. They all could feel magic and know when to stay away or when it was safe to go there. There were animals and creatures that were more Magical than others and were hidden from Humans for the protection of not just the Humans but the animals and creatures as well. They did not look natural, and Humans knew it and would attack them.
Aaron looked at the wolf and waited to see what it would do. He could see its eyes looking at him, it was like the eyes were shining. Aron looked up and into the sky to see the full moon behind him. It was what was making the wolf’s eyes shine. Aaron blinked, and when he opened his eyes again, the wolf was gone. Aaron knew that wolves were a natural part of the world, but they were the most susceptible to dark uses of magic and would go insane. That wolf hadn’t looked that way though.
Making himself move, Aaron forced his body back into the car. He was tired, but he had refused to move his son into a place where he didn’t have control of the protections. The Town Elders knew that he was going to be doing it as soon as he got there and they were fine with it. Hell, they had been so damned happy to get Aaron at all.
The drive the rest of the way into town was short and the house that came with being the peacekeeper was so damned big, but Aaron knew that it was because of the fact that many town-wide events happened there. Hence the damned ballroom and other public areas on the first floor. The second held offices and other things for the people that would be working for Aaron and then the third floor was all private and just for him, Jack, and Jessica. There was a single lower level, and it held things like the potions rooms and various other things that Aaron might want like a room to practice spells in.
“Steve,” Aaron said as he got out of his car in front of the house they were going to be living in.
“Aaron, thank you for upping your timetable when the spells started to erode.” Steve held out his hand for Aaron to shake.
Steve had been Aaron’s primary contact, one of the newer members of the Town Elders and the only one with the sense to make sure that they had someone powerful to protect the city as the peacekeeper. Steve had sought out Aaron just after he had retired from the FBI. Aaron had been courted by the man, and it had felt good to Aaron’s ego. The ego that was bruised that he had not been enough for Jack and that it was taking him and Jessica both to keep him settled.
“You are welcome. Do you have issues with wolves in the area?”
“No,” Steve said as he let go of Aaron’s hand.
Aaron’s magic swirled inside of him. Steve was kind of lying. The wolves were the issue, but it might just be that one wolf, and it might not be a horrible thing. There was an issue with the wolf, though. Aaron wondered what it could be. He nodded his head and vowed to look into it himself. If it wasn’t a bad thing, it wasn’t going to be an issue with him looking into it, and if it did end up being a big issue, Aaron could deal with healing the wolf and setting it on its way to go back to its pack. Lone wolves were not good, even in the Magical world.
The house looked kind of scary in the night, but it wasn’t anything that Aaron wasn’t used to. The house had probably stood in one way or another since Magicals had come and settled what was now the United States long before the regular Humans had. Magic had drawn them, the magic of the Natives and when it had come time for regular Humans to make their way, the Natives and the Magicals had banded together and shifted themselves into areas where Humans couldn’t get them.
“Dad?” Jack called out from the back seat.
“I’ll let you get settled in. There will be a town hall meeting in the ballroom tomorrow at 2 pm so that anyone who cares to can meet you.”
“That’s good. You said that there was a housekeeper who would help me?” Aaron asked.
“She and the cook will be there in the morning. Leave a note if you want something that will take more than half an hour to cook or if you want tea instead of coffee.”
“Coffee first thing but Jack will want tea, but that will happen after I am up so she-”
“He,” Steve interjected.
“He will have time to make it.” Aaron nodded at Steve before he turned to open the backseat door on the car. Jack was already out of his booster seat and grabbing the stuffed rabbit that he had latched onto the first time that Jessica had taken him shopping after the death of Haley. Aaron agreed that Jessica didn’t need to deny him that. It was looking a little ragged so Aaron would have to spell it back to pristine. That was the lovely thing about toys made with magic, they never wore out like regular Human toys.
Jack was already almost asleep again just seconds after Aaron picked him up. Aaron shut the car door and set the alarm on it. It also set the protections that Aaron had on the car itself so that no one but him could even spell themselves inside of it. Everything in the car could be easily grabbed by Aaron once Jack was settled in his bedroom. All of Aaron and Jack’s things had been brought over, and Aaron had set them up the weekend before as Aaron had a lot of things he had to finish as far as the courts when it came to Jack and his grandparents before they could move fully. So they had stayed at Jessica’s where Aaron slept on the couch, and Jack was in a rollaway in Jessica’s room with her. Aaron had offered to stay in a hotel or something, but Jessica wouldn’t hear of it.
“Are we home now?” Jack asked as they crossed the threshold. As soon as Aaron was entirely inside, he pushed his magic into the door, and it shut behind him. He would have to teach Jack that bit as soon as possible. The door would only open during certain hours with their magic and Jessica’s. He would add the housekeeper and the cook to that as well so he wouldn’t have to let them in every single morning.
“Yes, buddy, we are home.”
“It feels good,” Jack said, and he yawned and laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder and was out before Aaron could get up the stairs to the second floor much less the third. Jack was already in his pajamas, so Aaron only had to lay him down and make sure that he wasn’t going to roll out of bed with a check of the spells. He backed away to the doorway and waited to see if him moving away was going to wake him, and it didn’t. Aaron stepped across the threshold and waited as well. Jack didn’t stir at all.
Aaron made quick work of getting all of their things out of the back of the car, as well as some snacks for Jack that Aaron wasn’t sure they would have at the store in town. Aaron was all for giving Jack what he wanted to make the transition easier on his son. It didn’t take long for Aaron to get his things into his room and Jack’s settled in the hall outside of his room so that he wasn’t going to wake Jack with the noise of setting them down.
The house was much larger than Aaron wanted to live in, but it wasn’t like he paid for it. The water and even the electricity were spelled into the house, and there was no rent. It was all maintained by the town for Aaron’s protection of it. It was an excellent way to run the town. Everyone pitched in where they could. Childcare was even offered, but that was asking for trouble with Jack’s issues at the moment.
Aaron checked out his official office and found that it was mostly a blank slate after removing the things from the last peacekeeper. Aaron would have to make sure that he made the room his. His law texts, Magical and Human were going to be the main thing in there. There was a note sitting on Aaron’s desk, so he walked around to read it.
Before you added your protections to the town, we were unable to speak of a sensitive issue that we wanted to make you aware of. Even now, the few who are in the know are unable to talk to you about it. I am the only one. Even writing this note is a little troubling for me. IF you have not already seen him, there is a wolf who lives inside of town. He does not go outside of the wall except for making his kills for his food. He never has, and he will never harm a single citizen within the city. In fact, when some kids have made their way outside of the protections, he’s defended them to the detriment of his own being. We have a skilled healer, so if he shows up at your place, please call the healer. He feels safer going to the peacekeeper, even though the one we had before had seemed to be a fraud on that.
Thank you for coming to New Haven, and we hope that you love it here.
Town Elder Krista
Aaron frowned at the letter and then his own memory of the wolf he had seen on the wall. There was no reason to know that it was the same wolf. Aaron could guess, but he could be wrong. Wolves were all around the area, and being on the wall wasn’t the same as being inside of the town. Aaron would have to see if that was the same wolf or not. He could easily get Krista to describe the wolf to him. Even though it had been dark out, Aaron had a good memory of the wolf, especially the eyes. The size told Aaron that it was a male as even Magical tainted wolf females did not get that big.
The wolf looked like the Northwestern wolf by breed. The white on the body had been stark in color, and the upper part was a good mix of grays and blacks. It was a breed that was not native to the area, now that Aaron thought about it. Yet it seemed to be a protector of the town. Aaron had heard tales like that growing up and teaching himself magic out of books since his mother had never cared to teach him anything. It wasn’t until high school that Aaron had started to get his education in all things magical. He was glad of it too, as that meant that he was able to learn what he wanted and needed without his parents looming over him.
Aaron went to his bedroom, which overlooked the backyard of the house. It was fully enclosed. While there wasn’t an actual wall, there were magical barriers that allowed Aaron to see out into the area, but no one could look in. It allowed Aaron to not have to deal with people watching him. He was going to be the spectacle for a while, and he knew it. Small towns were always like that. It would wear off in time, and he and Jack would be fine.
The meeting the next day with the town would be where Aaron put his foot down about how the town was going to treat Jack. He did not want the town being weird around Jack, and he would protect his son. It was the biggest point in Aaron’s life. He would do anything for his son and protect him; however, he could. There was nothing else more important in Aaron’s life than Jack.
“Lord Hotchner,” a woman said as she stopped at the base of Aaron’s stairs.
Aaron looked down at her. He had not felt her approach at all. Behind her was a man that would have customarily tripped a few of Aaron’s triggers on his lust but he was still way too wrapped up in Jack to even think about having a random night of sex, especially with someone who Aaron thought of as the chef for him. The town was strange even for a magical town, but he wasn’t sure that dipping his wick so to say in a pool like that wasn’t going to be a good thing at all.
“Please, no honorific. I prefer Hotch or even Aaron.” Aaron stepped down and held out his hand. His magic invited her into the stranger protections of the house. He did the same for the man behind her, Jake, if Aaron remembered his name correctly. “And you are?” Aaron asked as he looked at the woman.
“Melinda and this is Jake Durham. He’s the resident chef for the town. He’ll go over most of everything with you. I will be your housekeeper as well as secretary. I’ll handle all of the cleaning, I’m good at it magically, but when we have events, I do have staff that I use. You can meet all of them at the next event, which isn’t until Halloween.”
“The annual ball as I was led to believe,” Aaron said. He stepped back to wave the two into the house.
“Yes, the magics in the town are renewed that night, well then and Beltane,” Miranda said with a quirk to her lips.
“So a baby boom about nine months from each of those, good to know.”
Jake laughed and shook his head as he bypassed Aaron into the house. The protections allowed them in, and Aaron watched as they both shivered as it pulled on their magic and tested them.
“Holy fuck, Hotch,” Jake said as he turned to look at Aaron. “I know the Elders said that you were a powerhouse, but I think that your magic just figured out when I lost my virginity.”
“Did the Elders tell you what I did?” Aaron asked
“That you worked for the FBI and handled cases that could be Magical.”
“I’m glad that they decided that my privacy was a good thing, but you two are going to be the main ones in the line of fire if my past comes looking for me. I hunted the worst of the worst, and sometimes they were Magical and sometimes they were Human. One of the worst of the worst hunted me back and ended up killing my ex-wife and attempted to kill Jack. Jack’s magic is volatile from that. It’s why I moved from DC to here, an enclosed Magical town where Jack doesn’t have to have the stress of staying hidden from Humans as well as the stress of learning.”
“So don’t scare the young master, you got it,” Jake said.
Aaron frowned at him. Jake just gave him a smile.
“So how does a full English breakfast sound for you and Jack today?” Jake asked.
“How do you have time for this?” Aaron asked.
“Found the menu for your restaurant tucked into a drawer in the kitchen when I was looking for scissors to open the new bag of coffee for my coffee pot.”
“I have staff to do all of the prep for me. It’s mainly my meals that I design for there, my ideas. I love cooking, don’t get me wrong but I like this too. Do I see myself being your personal chef my entire life? No. I do events and the like around the town a well, and if I don’t want to show up in the restaurant, I don’t. It’s that simple, or that hard really depending on how you look at it. I like cooking but sometimes cooking for the masses just…don’t appeal to me.”
“I see. And you?” Aaron asked.
“I can understand vetting us. We were here before you came, you don’t get a choice in the matter as our contract is with the city. I lost my husband and child to a stupid accident years and years ago. I floundered for a while, and the Protector we had before our last one was kind to me and helped me. I was little more than a child when that happened, and he made sure that I was able to get my head on right after it all. So I have stayed. I don’t see myself leaving, but one never knows if I’ll find someone else and devote my time and my life to them.”
“Fair enough. Yes, Jake to breakfast. Jack’s never had any of that before, so don’t be shocked if he wants oatmeal. What is your magic based in?”
Aaron nodded in answer to Jake’s statement and looked at Melinda.
Aaron felt his magic shift a little, and he knew that Jack was awake.
“My son is up, I’ll need to take care of him. If you would both just do what you normally do, I’ll make sure that he meets you both before I start to deal with things that I need to.”
“Sure,” Jake said. He gave a jaunty, half-assed salute and turned toward the kitchen, humming as he went along. Melinda gave a small bow and turned to head down into what Aaron knew was his business part of the first floor. She would be making sure it was ready for him and anyone who came to visit.
Aaron was the last line of protection for the town, but it also meant he was the first line as well. He was going to be handling a lot of legal things and everything that was centered around the town as far as the law went. The town Elders were more social guides while Aaron was the mean older brother who made sure everyone in town did as they were supposed to be doing. Aaron didn’t mind being that. It would still allow him to raise Jack the way he wanted with fewer demands on his time. The town mostly ran itself. Aaron was being paid to be there if he was needed.
Taking the stairs as fast as he dared, Aaron made his way up to their personal floor. He found Jack in the bathroom, combing his hair after getting dressed. The boy had developed an independence streak a mile wide, and Aaron had given him as much room as he dared as far as that went, even if his clothes really didn’t match and a lot of the time, those clothes clashed. Which today’s outfit had Jack just ready to join the Red Hat Society.
“Morning, buddy,” Aaron said as he leaned in the doorway to the bathroom attached to Jack’s room.
“Morning, Daddy,” Jack said as he laid down his brush before slowly climbing down from the stool. Aaron had nearly forgotten to get that out for Jack the night before, but he had remembered at the end, just before bed. “What are we doing today?”
“We are going to go and look at your new school and meet your teacher for the year. Then we are going to do what you want. I have a few things that I have to take care of here before I can leave. I also want to introduce you to Mister Jake and Miss Melinda. Miss Melinda will be our new housekeeper, and until Aunt Jessica gets here, she’s going to help me watch you. Mister Jake is the man who will be cooking breakfast and lunch for us, and then we will go and eat at his restaurant for dinner.”
“Unless we want to go to the diner,” Jack said. He gave a smile.
“Yes.” Aaron gave Jack a smile. Jack hadn’t been happy about moving to New Haven, but Aaron was pretty sure that once he saw that Aaron was happy, he would be happier about being there. Once Jessica arrived, it was going to be better as well. Aaron knew that Jack would settle when his family was back in order.
“Can I see your office?” Jack asked as he walked over to hug Aaron. Jack had been hugging Aaron nearly every single time that he saw him even if it was just moving from one room to another. Aaron had gotten used to it.
Jack had weekly meetings with a therapist that would be coming to him. Aaron liked Mister Deacon as Jack called him. Deacon Childer had come highly recommended by the Magical Investigation Unit’s Section Chief. It had taken no time at all for Aaron to get his son into therapy, and he was glad of it.
“You sure can. You can come into it anytime that the door is open.”
“Just like your office at home, where we used to live?”
“Yes, just like that. You won’t be able to hear if I am in there so just knock and wait for me to open the door.”
“Yes, Daddy,” Jack said. He held out his hands like he wanted to be carried. Aaron was totally okay with that phase coming back as well. Jack was not clingy enough to make Aaron that worried yet. If it continued after they were settled here and Jack was doing better, then he would worry about it.
Aaron picked up Jack and held him like he had all the time. Jack wrapped his legs around Aaron’s body as much as he could and laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron walked around to head down to the floor with Aaron’s office. Aaron let him look around, but Jack didn’t make to get down at all. There was a soft chime throughout the house. Aaron wasn’t sure what it was, but he started to head toward the kitchen. If it wasn’t Jake calling them to eat, then, Jake would understand what it meant and tell him.
“Oh, there is the young master, all put out to meet the world.” Jake had a big smile on his face. He wiped his hands on the apron he was wearing and then came around the island in the middle of the kitchen. The kitchen was modern in a way that little in the house was. It was an older house that was a throwback from older times when magicals were much more advanced in a lot of things than Humans.
“Hello,” Jack said. He looked at Jake, not pushing off of Aaron’s body but at least turning his head toward Jake to look at him.
“My name is Jake Durham. You can call me Jake.”
“Mister Jake?” Jack asked.
“Mister Jake is just fine,” Jake said. He held out his hand, and Jack twisted to turn around to shake his hand.
Aaron was glad that Jack seemed okay with meeting new people at least so far. Or he was just being that way because he was in Aaron’s arms.
“Ah, Young Master Jack,” Melinda said as she entered the room from a back doorway.
Jack whipped his head around to look at Melinda. His eyes were huge, and for a few seconds, Aaron thought that he was scared, but then Jack wiggled to get down.
“You!” Jack said as he rushed over to meet her.
“Me?” Melinda asked.
“I’ve seen you!”
Aaron clenched his hands and waited to see what was going to happen.
“All children who I come to care for start to see me. It’s part of my healing magic.” Melinda crouched so that she was eye level with Jack. It was something that Aaron did a lot, but a lot of other adults never really did with kids.
“You sang to me last night when I slept,” Jack said.
“I did. You were screaming, so I helped.” Melinda held out her hands, and Jack moved to hug her. She gripped him hard. “You miss your mother so much, and I can help you see the happy times when you sleep. When you were a baby, things you don’t remember. I can pull those from your father’s head if he allows and you can dream them at night when you are ready. Do you want to do that, Jack?”
“Yes!” Jack hugged her again quickly and then ran back to Aaron. “Can she?”
“Yes, she can. That would be really good for you,” Aaron said.
“YAY!” Jack ran around the island in the kitchen, skipping, and just being a happy little kid for a few seconds. Then he stopped and looked at Jake. “Is breakfast ready?”
“Yes, it is, Master Jack. Why don’t you go and sit at the table and I’ll bring it over.”
“Okay.” Jack turned to look for the table. It was less of a table and more of a breakfast nook, but Aaron kind of liked it. He figured that there was a formal dining room near the kitchen but separate from the ballroom.
Aaron looked around at the rest of the kitchen to see what it looked like. There was a set of stools there in front of the island that Aaron figured Jake used to plan things. Aaron wondered if Jake did a lot of his meal planning for the restaurant there in the house. Aaron could see it while he was working on breakfast and lunch for them. Aaron didn’t really care for cooking, so having a chef on hand was something that he was more than willing to submit to.
Cooking just wasn’t something that Aaron ever got into. He could make sandwiches and had a lot for him and for Jack, but cooking was mainly left to Jessica. Other than Jack’s sacred macaroni and cheese. Aaron had learned how to make that for the sake of not being the worst parent in the world.
“So Jack,” Jake said as he set down a platter in front of Jack.
Jack’s eyes went wide, and he didn’t look too upset at all by what was in front of him. In the Hotchner household, it was mainly oatmeal for breakfast, so having someone who could cater to Jack’s whims on that would be great.
“Yes, Mister Jake?”
“What is your favorite meal?”
“Macaroni and cheese.”
“Really?” Jake looked at Aaron, who just shrugged. “Okay well I don’t know any fancy macaroni and cheese recipes, but I’ll look up some in a little bit, and we can have that for lunch. Do you like vegetables or meat in your mac and cheese?”
“Vegetables yes, and only chicken,” Aaron said for his son as Jack had picked up a bit of toast and was eating it. Jack wasn’t the greatest at not talking without food in his mouth.
“I can work with that.” Jake looked down at the notebook that was on the counter, and he started to make a note in it. “What about general allergies?”
Aaron shook his head, chewing on the beans in his mouth.
“Tomatoes,” Jack said. His lips were curled in disgust, and he poked at the sliced tomato that was on his plate.
“Oh, well I’ll make sure about that in the future.”
Aaron reached over and snagged the tomato and laid it beside his on his plate. “He doesn’t like whole or sliced big tomatoes. He will eat cherry or grape tomatoes in salads and the like. It’s a texture thing, especially when cooked so no chunked tomatoes in spaghetti sauce.”
“You got it. And you, Hotch?”
“I’ve not found anything I don’t like, but if I do, I’ll let you know.”
“Hotch,” Melinda said as she looked up from her phone. “The Elders are coming an hour later. One of them had an issue with a potion and needs a little time to get herself put together again.”
“Sure.” Aaron looked down at his food and then at Jack and grinned at him. Jack grinned back. They were off to a good start so far, and Aaron was happy about that.
Aaron felt Jack’s body go limp on his back as they walked around the town. It was a little late for Jack to be taking his nap, but Aaron had plans to keep him busy to make sure that he was out like a light that night. It really didn’t matter as school was still a little while away, but it would be better if Jack was settled into a routine as soon as possible. The people that Aaron saw along the way didn’t stop him and talk to him, but they did look at him.
Setting a plan in his mind to walk to the far end of town and back so that everyone had a chance of seeing him, Aaron started to put a little pep in his step as he walked. It wouldn’t disturb Jack, but it would make things look a little better as far as it went for Aaron and being seen as a good person.
At the far end of the town, Aaron turned around. He saw out of the corner of his eye the wolf. It was the same one as before. Aaron didn’t react as no one else was. Every twenty or so steps, Aaron would look out of the corner of his eyes at the wolf. It was keeping pace with him, staying on the other side of the row of houses or businesses that lined the street. It was very, very strange to see the wolf at all during the day, Aaron thought.
The street became narrower, and the wolf didn’t try and hide as much. Aaron watched him more openly as he walked. Aaron’s new house was looming up on him, and Aaron tried to focus on it more. He stopped, though when he looked over and didn’t see the wolf. He turned around to see the wolf was at a small break in the woods that surrounded the town. It looked like a walking path.
“Would you like me to take him?” Melinda asked as she stepped up to Aaron.
“Why would I do that?” Aaron asked, but he didn’t look away from the wolf.
“Don’t play stupid, Aaron Hotchner. You want to follow the young wolf to wherever it is that he wants to take you. I think you should go with him and your magic tells you the same thing.”
Aaron had to agree, even though he didn’t say it. His magic was thrumming with the want of following him. Aaron could feel the magic on the wolf now that he wasn’t slipping his own magic into the town. It had to be why the wolf had chosen that moment to arrive on the wall. He had made sure that the town still accepted him. Magic lured animals to places where they needed to be when they did not understand what really needed to be done.
Turning around, Aaron let Melinda take Jack off of his back. He pressed a kiss to Jack’s forehead, but the boy slept on. Aaron had to wonder if the sentient magic of the town was what made him sleep. Magic didn’t hurt children, and out of everything in the world, Aaron trusted magic with his child.
“I’ll be back soon.”
“I’ll make sure that Jack knows you are dealing with a minor but urgent issue.”
“Thank you.” Aaron looked at his son before turning to see where the wolf was. It was still in the same place as it had been before. Aaron started to walk toward where it was. The wolf’s eyes didn’t move away from Aaron at all. Even when Aaron stopped just a foot in front of him, the wolf didn’t move. He was showing Aaron that he was not afraid of him.
The wolf look at Aaron, and Aaron was pretty sure that the wolf was a lot more magical than even Aaron had originally thought. The eyes that were looking at him were full of intelligence. Aaron crouched down to where he was eye level with the wolf.
“My name is Aaron Hotchner,” Aaron said as he held out his hand. The wolf gave him a long-suffering look but held out his paw like a dog would to shake hands. Aaron took it and felt the magic wash over him from the wolf. He wasn’t even sure that this town needed him. The wolf was full of more than enough magic to power the protections the area over, and Aaron was pretty sure that he could take down whatever popped up that wanted to harm the town.
If shifters were something that magic created, Aaron would have thought that was what the wolf was, but even magic hadn’t gifted them with that, despite the fantasies that normal humans put in their books. Standing up, Aaron looked into the woods where the path was leading and tried to see if anything was waiting for him. He saw nothing but that really didn’t mean a single thing given that magic could hide a lot of things.
“Well, then show me what you want to show me,” Aaron commanded.
The wolf’s mouth parted in what passed for a grin, and he took off at a full-tilt run. Aaron tried to follow as fast as he could, but he still lost sight of the wolf. There was only a single path, so it wasn’t hard to figure out that he wasn’t going to be lost. The trail narrowed and darkened, the trees were being kept alive by magic, and they were healthy, but the trees were dark and twisted. Most humans would enter the area and think it was full of dark magic, but Aaron could feel just how full of magic the area is.
This was why New Haven was built where it was. So much natural magic was infusing the area and giving every single person in town a magical boost. This was not in anything that was in the books or reference materials that he had been given when he had been given everything about the town. Aaron moved into the clearing that was in the center of the woods. It made his skin itch in a way that Aaron hadn’t felt in a long time. There were few things in the world that were as natural as this area. This was untouched by Humans and even Magicals. Aaron had a feeling that other than the wolf, Aaron was the first being to be there in a long time. He looked around and saw a few fairies at the edge of the area.
The fairies were staying to the edges but did not come into the clearing. Aaron looked up to see that the trees were covering the area, and the light was coming from a huge ball of swirling magic. It was colored like the moon. It actually looked like the moon and gave off light like it was the moon shining on the area.
“So, you protect this and the town to make sure that no one ever finds this. Yet the old Protector never left notes about this.” Aaron tried to remember every single word that was in the journals he had been given. He had already started his journals, noting the only parts of the previous Protector Journals for the area that were pivotal. There were journals that went back to the founding of New Haven. Every single Protector made sure that the journals survived over the years. Aaron had plans to read them as the previous man didn’t leave many notes about the history of the area.
The wolf whined, and Aaron looked at him. The wolf gave him a growl.
“No one seems to like him.”
The wolf sneezed and pawed the ground. Aaron wasn’t sure what the hell the wolf was trying to tell him though. The wolf sighed and trotted over to where Aaron was. He pawed at where Aaron carried his retired credentials.
“He was allergic to work?” Aaron questioned.
The wolf licked Aaron’s hand. Aaron reached down to pet him. The wolf rubbed up into Aaron’s hand and moved so that Aaron pet down his entire body. The wolf came back to have Aaron do it again. Aaron got down on his knees and reached out to pull the wolf closer so he could rub his face. His magic washed over the wolf so that Aaron would know him from every other wolf in the area no matter what.
Aaron heard the call of more wolves, distant and far and the wolf turned to look over where the sounds came from. He turned back to look at Aaron before he licked up his face and took off. Aaron watched as the wolf made it through the trees, even if it looked like there wasn’t enough room for him to fit through there. After a few seconds, the sounds of his running legs was gone, and Aaron was left alone.
Aaron smelled the blood long before he found the first bit of blood that signaled that something was injured. He looked at the time to see that it was nearly five. He was alone for the weekend with Jessica taking Jack to see his grandparents. Aaron was more than happy to never see Roy Brooks again in his life. No one was going to miss him if something happened probably until Jessica returned with Jack. Jake was off for the weekend with Aaron fending for himself with the meals that Jake had prepared beforehand. Breakfast that morning had been a casserole that he was going to eat the rest of it tomorrow. Lunch was sandwiches, which Aaron had bought the stuff for himself.
The trail was fresh, and there was a lot of blood. Aaron was good at tracking like that, so he brushed his fingers through the blood. It looked normal and didn’t burn him, so Aaron was pretty sure that it was a standard animal of the forest. Or a Human. Aaron wasn’t going to taste it to find out. Magic protected but not from blood-based diseases. He did not want to get any of those if this was a Human who had been brought into the area to be killed.
There was no proof that any of that was happening in New Haven, but Aaron knew that the Magical Cults that did that kind of stuff were very good at staying hidden. Aaron wasn’t sure what was going on with this, and he didn’t know if he wanted to know what was going on with it. He had to investigate, though.
Aaron had retained the right to carry his gun, but that wasn’t going to do him any good in the town of New Haven unless Humans entered. While yes, it was something that could be used against a Magical person, the gun was kind of hard to use unless you were far enough away. It was just like John Blackwolf said, inside of twenty-one feet, it was anyone’s game. It was also anyone’s game when the person was magical. While there were some that needed focuses like wands, there were enough that didn’t need it. Aaron had never needed a focus, even when he was a child.
The trail showed Aaron that the being that was injured was moving fast, despite what had been done to its body. It was going somewhere safe. Aaron followed along through the trees, feeling the pull of the Magical clearing getting stronger on his body as he did move. That meant that it was Magical as that would be the only reason they would seek shelter in that specific area. Aaron frowned as he heard the growl. He pulled his dagger from his hip, leaving the athame hidden where it needed to be. He looked for the best way to enter the clearing and decided that slipping onto the walking path was the best.
Aaron made sure that he made little noise as he slipped onto the walking path and then started to walk to the clearing. He saw the demonic looking creature as soon as he got close and saw it lunge at the wolf. The wolf swiped at it with a paw and knocked it away for it to roll and lunge again. Aaron darted forward, grabbed it by the back of the neck before using the dagger to slit its throat. It spilled black blood everywhere that burned up in the air before it even landed on the ground. He dropped the dead body down, and it burned as well, the ash made from its body was being sucked up into the fake full moon above them. Aaron needed to visit again to see if the full moon thing was always, or it was something that showed the phases of the moon.
Aaron wasn’t sure what was going on. Those kinds of creatures were summoned and made of magic. He would have felt that. Aaron stayed back as the wolf was covered in its own blood. He could not tell where the blood was coming from on the wolf’s body. Aaron sheathed the dagger and sat down on his ass. He knew that he had to be sitting in blood, but he didn’t care at all. He looked at the wolf as it finally relaxed down into the grass around the area. Aaron looked up at the fake moon that was above them. It looked the same, like a full moon.
In the two months since Aaron had arrived in New Haven, he had found no mention in any book or journal about this area. He wondered if that meant that no one had ever found it and that this wolf was the protector of it. That could mean that the wolf was as old as time, protecting this area before the English had ever colonized the area and hiding from them, even the Magicals didn’t remember it. Aaron knew that pockets existed like this.
“Hey, let me get close,” Aaron said as he reached out. The wolf growled at him and started to lick at his back leg. Aaron saw the cut that started high on the wolf’s thigh and running all the way down his leg. It looked horrible and didn’t seem to be clotting. It had to be made by the creature that Aaron had killed. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. Aaron had seen creatures like it before but never one quite like that before. It would be hard to look it up without a body and just his memory, but he would. He knew where to look, and he had the online access to a lot of the databases he had been part of for work. His status had been downgraded from contributor to viewer on them, but it would be enough. He had ways of adding to it and just needed to contact the admin for it, who Aaron had developed a good solid working relationship with over his years in the BAU.
Aaron reached out again, and the wolf growled at him, but he didn’t move. Aaron scooted closer, finding where there were no wounds, he hoped, and petting. The wolf eyed his hand with a very close eye as Aaron petted him. When Aaron made no other moves than that, the wolf went back to licking his wound. Aaron knew that the wolf was trying to clean out whatever was making it keep bleeding, but Aaron was sure it would need help of some kind. Aaron stripped off his Henley and laid it down before he grabbed his undershirt and took that off as well. He put the Henley back on before he started to rip the T-shirt into strips to use to bind up the wolf’s wound until Aaron could get him back to his house. There was a great deal of potions that Aaron had on hand that could help him figure out what was wrong with the wound.
After getting that done, Aaron just might be able to figure out the creature that had attacked it and how it got thorough Aaron’s protections without him feeling it. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what the creature was. He sighed and reached up towards the wolf’s head. The wolf eyed him but did nothing else. Aaron petted his head while he moved a little closer to where the injury was.
“Hey, I have no clue if you can fully understand me but please don’t bite me. I just want to get this bandaged so you don’t drip blood everywhere and I can get you into my place to heal you up.” Aaron used the large strip of the T-shirt that he hadn’t ripped up to wrap up the leg wound. He wanted as much shirt around the wound as he could get.
The wolf tried not to cry out in pain as Aaron used the ripped strips of shirt to bind the rest of the shirt to the leg. Up at the hip, it was harder to do, and Aaron just resigned himself to having to press that to his body. He wasn’t sure how the wound would react to magical means of doing anything around the wolf so Aaron would rather carry him.
“I’m going to pick you up and carry you back to the house, and then we will start to get that wound under control.”
The wolf looked at Aaron, and Aaron knew that he understood him, Aaron just wasn’t sure how freaked out he should be. If the magical area made the wolf more intelligent than other wolves, what had it done to the other animals in the area? It was strange and freaky, even to Aaron who had been around the strange, freaky, and magical his entire life.
Aaron checked on the wolf to make sure that he was fine elsewhere, at least that he could see before he picked him. The wolf was weighty, but Aaron had carried heavier before. He wasn’t sure who he was going to run into as he made his way to the house, so he followed his gut, through the forest around the city until he came to where his house was. There was a path there which Aaron realized was the wolf’s only when Aaron got to the end of it near his house.
“You and I have a lot to talk about, Balto,” Aaron said.
The wolf jerked in Aaron’s hold but didn’t try and get away. It was a shock. Aaron wondered if he was reading to just the words or the name. It could be either one of those, but Aaron was going to go with the name.
“Balto was one of my son’s favorite movies when he was four. I watched it a lot. Sorry if the name offends you,” Aaron said.
The wolf leaned his head up a little to lick at Aaron’s face, Aaron smelled the blood on his breath but didn’t react to that. He didn’t want to upset the wolf and end up dropping him.
“Are you okay with me calling you Balto?” Aaron asked. There was another lick in response.
Aaron settled down a little bit, allowing his magic out to interact with the protections around the house so that the doors opened up and he was able to get into the part of the house that he wanted. He had spent time setting up an area to heal himself up from things, and Jack if things went badly during a training session. Jack’s magic reacted strangely to things sometimes, and he would throw Aaron away and even harm himself sometimes. The room was cold, the magics infused into the room made it so cold. It suppressed the growth of anything that would cause harm, especially if there was blood everywhere as sometimes things grew strangely when mixed with magic. He wasn’t sure what was going on with the wolf, but he was going to make sure he didn’t die.
The table was stone and had runes carved into it. It was a long used in the family bloodline, and when Aaron had found the history on his mother’s side, he found a huge cache of weapons. The healer’s table had been a shock but one that Aaron was loving more and more as he got it set up in New Haven. It tied fully into the protections on the house, and if Aaron left the wolf on the table, he would know the status on him no matter where he was in the house. It would prove good to settle the wolf on while he went up to make what was needed to see about the poison in the claws of the creature. He would also grab his book to see if the creature was in there.
As soon as Aaron stepped back, the wolf was moving. Aaron thought that he was going to jump down, but all Balto did was settle sprawled out on the stone. His back was lined up with the section that promoted healing while his three good legs were all stretched out as far as he could get them, leaving his injured one to flop where it wanted. Aaron watched him as he breathed deeply and the runes on the table activated on their own. Aaron could feel them pulling on his magic.
Aaron left Balto and made sure that he had everything that he would need in the outer room. He did need some water boiled with a few herbs and flowers in it. Balto would need to drink it to help with anything that was in his system. Aaron was an old hat at brewing it. He drank it a lot during his training. It helped the normal defenses in the body clean out anything by triggering the magical part of the immune system. It was a standard for all magicals to learn. It would save your life if you were poisoned and then drank it enough afterward. It wouldn’t negate the poison fully, but it would allow help to arrive and get the poison out fully.
“How are you doing?” Aaron asked when he stepped back into the room. Balto was still on the healing stone where Aaron had left him. He wasn’t asleep, his breathing was too fast for that. Aaron grabbed the vial with a salve that would help with pain at least some while Aaron worked on him. It was meant to not react with anything that was around it. He settled in and got the water into a bowl that was set to chill it to where it wasn’t so hot. Aaron would have to refresh it before it would get down enough to where it would make it refreshing for Balto.
Balto yawned at Aaron and laid his head down on the stone, his body going limp. He watched as Aaron got everything ready to work on him. There was intelligence but not understanding. If there was something fully magical about it all, Aaron knew that the wolf didn’t fully understand what Aaron was doing. He knew that Aaron was helping though. It was interesting to see the eyes watching him.
Aaron picked up the dull blade knife that was used for removing hair. There was a spell on it that magically removed hair from follicles but did not actually cut it away. It removed it by magic and made sure that it wasn’t able to grow back right away to keep the area clear. It was used in healing. Aaron had paid a lot for the first one that he had ever purchased and then learned how to tweak it after that to make one that was better. Aaron used one in his bathroom to shave with. It was wonderful, as long as he wasn’t distracted and cut off an eyebrow. The spell was removed to inhibit the growth as Aaron found himself too distracted with Jack lately and didn’t want to go around without an eyebrow for longer than he needed to.
“Tap the table to tell me your pain level, one through ten with ten the worst.”
Balto tapped on the table five time before his leg rested on there. Aaron nodded his head and found what he was looking for with the pain salve. He gathered everything that he thought he was going to need and laid it on the stone that Balto was on. He picked up the knife first. Balto moved up and got his legs under him enough to lick at it. Aaron wondered what Balto was doing with that. What that would actually do, the licking of the blade.
Aaron watched as Balto slumped down into the stone again, content for now on what Aaron was going to do. It was strange to see the wolf so relaxed.
The cleaning of the wound took little time at all, and Aaron was left with a horrible looking wound. It was slowly coagulating but not nearly fast enough for Aaron’s liking. As soon as the blood dripped onto the table, it disappeared. It was being read by rune, which was breaking it down to the base elements. Aaron disregarded the normal make-up of blood and found Witch’s Bane in the wound. It was a standard poison for Witches and Wizards. That told Aaron that the creature was created by someone and unleashed on the town with the goal of taking out the wolf. Aaron wondered what it was and why it was attempting to kill a wolf.
Aaron wondered if the wolf was more than just a wolf. There were legends of towns so old they were protected by animals made of magic and as intelligent as the humans who lived in the town. These animals were only rumors and myths with no one ever confirming them. Aaron wondered if he was going to be able to confirm it.
Balto was still as Aaron worked on him. The wounds were not going to knit back together with magic. There was enough of the Witch’s Bane that had got into the blood that infected the wound. It would heal at a standard pace for a normal wolf or a normal human. Aaron would have to figure out a way to keep Balto inside. He trusted that the wolf wouldn’t harm Jack or anyone else unless he were threatened or injured more.
Jack was fascinated with animals and hated when he found dead ones, even insects who died a natural death for their species. It was adorable to Aaron, but it made him sure that Balto would be safe with them.
Aaron made up a salve that would harden and attach to the skin around the wound and fall off when all of the medicine had been leached from it. It was a wholly magical creation and took all of Aaron’s concentration. Balto was asleep when Aaron pulled out of his near trance.
The application of the salve was simple, and Balto slept through that as well. He was surprised that even the press of his hands over his body when Aaron checked to make sure that he hadn’t injured himself when running from the creature. Aaron wanted to wait for Balto to wake up before he left the room, so he settled into the chair in the corner to wait for the wolf to wake up. He picked up the books that he had chosen to read over to find what he wanted on the creature.
It was two hours before Aaron heard the first scratch of nails on the stone and he looked up to see Balto moving around. Aaron closed the book he was not reading for pleasure as none held what he needed. The creature was not in any of them. Aaron had drawn a rough sketch of it so that he wouldn’t forget and he could try and figure out what it was.
“Hey,” Aaron said as he stood up.
Balto looked at him and blinked. His eyes were a little glassy from the medication in the poultice on his wound. Aaron figured that he would need it for at least a day while his leg, thigh, and hip healed up enough to where he wouldn’t be in as much pain. Balto started to get up.
“Hey, slow,” Aaron said. He knew that Balto could walk on the leg, but it was stiff with pain. “Slow.”
Balto looked at Aaron with a look that said Aaron was kind of stupid for telling him that. It made Aaron laugh. He gave Balto a smile.
“Then fall on your face,” Aaron said. He sat back down in the chair and waited to see what the wolf did. Balto moved around a little bit on the table, not putting a lot of weight on his leg, and then he laid down again on the side of the table that was closest to Aaron. He whined a little, tossing his head back and forth.
Aaron got up again and walked over to the table, petting down Balto’s head onto his back. Balto stretched up into it, and Aaron felt the drain on his own magic. He frowned at that. It was like a small leech, and it was going right to Balto. Aaron wondered at that. He knew that Balto was at least part magical, but this was something different. It wasn’t a blunt force thing like Balto was stealing his magic, more like he was taking a little to help himself.
“Do you want help down? We can take a tour of the main parts of the house. My son is not home today, but he will be tomorrow. I’ll introduce you to him as well as my sister-in-law Jessica.”
Balto cocked his head to the side, and there was a distinct frown on his face. He looked at Aaron’s hand, where there was no ring.
“Ah, yes. Well, my wife and I divorced, and then after she was killed, Jessica stepped in to help me with Jack. His aunt is a far better nanny than a random nanny. Especially given his issues with controlling his magic. Jessica near gave up her life to come and follow us here. She’s going to live with me until Jack’s settled or a teenager who can stay alone when I work.” Aaron had no clue why he was telling Balto any of this.
Balto licked at Aaron’s hand before nuzzling into it. Aaron smiled down at him. He slowly slipped his arms under the wolf to lift him and help him down off the stone slab. Balto got his feet under him quickly, but it was evident that he was favoring the injured leg. Aaron really hoped that Jack didn’t get that attached to the wolf, they did not need a wolf pet at all.
Aaron walked back from dropping off Jack at school for the day to find that something felt off about the area just inside of his protection area. He looked around and realized that the magic felt off. Not in a bad way but in a weird way. He walked around the house, and it wasn’t until he was at the back of the house that he noticed that Balto hadn’t come to greet him. He turned around to head into the house to see if Balto had slipped in there when Aaron hadn’t noticed.
“Melinda, is Balto inside?”
“No. He went out with Jack when Jack was checking to see what kind of clothes he wanted to wear and he never came back inside that I know of. Check with Jake. He’s been in an out of the kitchen’s side door a lot this morning.”
Aaron nodded his head and thanked her before he went into the kitchen. He paused at the sight of four rabbits on the counter, still with skin on them. Aaron was very glad that Jake had decided to wait until Jack was not in the house. Aaron had gone hunting a few times when he had been a teenager with friends and their fathers. He had killed and worked up a deer. Aaron had no issue with that. There was something about bunnies though.
“What’s that for?” Aaron asked.
Jake looked up at Aaron with a confused look on his face. “For you guys. I’m leaving for a few days, remember? I was going to get it going and put it into bowls in the fridge, so you just have to reheat it some. Jack marked it down that he would try it.”
“Jack said he would try rabbit? He wanted a bunny for a pet two years ago.”
“I think it had something to do with seeing Balto eat one. I forgot that you were not here for that conversation on Sunday as you were dealing with an idiot who lost control of a Human toy they had turned on and it wasn’t turning off nor was it being able to be destroyed. I was making lunch for all of us when Balto trotted into the yard with a rabbit. Jack watched him tear the fur and skin off and then start to eat it. He wasn’t as grossed out as I would have been. Balto them left to clean up and came back. Jack asked him rabbit tasted good. I guess it’s Balto’s favorite. Jack asked me if I knew how to make rabbit stew, and I said yes but that I would need four rabbits. I went outside this morning to find these four on the box that I stick other game that I get from various people around town.”
“This ought to go well,” Aaron said, but he looked away from the dead rabbits and outside to where Jake was talking about. The box’s spell work had been refreshed by Aaron a while back when Jake started to get more and more game for meals not just at Aaron’s house but at the restaurant. Deer were very popular with not only the residents of the town but Jack as well. Jack loved Jake’s deer jerky, and Aaron was pretty fond of it himself.
Aaron walked outside and looked around. He could see the trail in the grass from where Balto had come from with the rabbits. Aaron followed that and saw that the path and knew that he had been hunting in an area of town that was just for hunting. There were more tracks to another area, and Aaron followed it. He came around and found that it was the patch of trail that was used to get to the area where Aaron had found Balto injured. The clearing with the moon. Aaron went to step onto the path, but he was pushed back. He frowned.
Looking at his watch, Aaron saw that the moon wasn’t in the sky anymore. He had the times of it memorized for each day because it impacted ritual magic and so every single morning he checked moonrise and moonset, as well as sunrise and sunset. It was the way things had been since Aaron had learned magic. If that area was only available when the moon was in the sky, Aaron could understand that. It also explained why Aaron only ever saw the wolf when the moon was in the sky. Though he had been around more the last three days that had been the full moon when the moon was it’s most powerful. He could see it manifesting the wolf. Or allowing the wolf out. Aaron could see it keeping the wolf in the clearing for protection if it was the moon that protected the wolf.
Aaron wondered what exactly the wolf did when the moon wasn’t around, but there was no way to figure that out. Aaron could talk to the wolf, but the wolf couldn’t talk to him.
Aaron looked around the ballroom. It was a fancy dress ball, and Aaron was shocked at the fact that nearly everyone in town showed up for it and were dressed in very nice clothes. Some of them, Aaron, was pretty sure that they were the only clothes that they bought that cost more than thirty bucks. The town was laid back, and even the local magical cops didn’t wear uniforms. Aaron was in a tuxedo, and he was enjoying it because the tailor for the town had slipped him in quickly when she realized that he had no clue that just something simple that he already owned wasn’t going to work. There were themes each here, and this one was purple and red. Aaron’s suit was a deep red with purple thread and accents all over. It was damned good looking in Aaron’s mind, and he was enjoying himself. Jack was with Jessica, and he wasn’t exactly sure they were not watching from an alcove somewhere. It was not a kid’s type of event, and Aaron could understand why with how much the alcohol was flowing from the kitchen.
Jake was the belle of the ball as it were in a lilac tuxedo while he worked on making sure that no one went hungry or thirsty and that no one was going to go home sober. It was very interesting for Aaron as he was meeting townsfolk that he had never met before and he swore that he had met every single one of them. Yet there were more of them. Aaron knew that many in the town were rather loner, it was part of why they were where they could go to work and never have to interact with people if they didn’t want to, but Aaron hadn’t thought that there were that many that had been able to kind of stay hidden from him.
“Well, are you drunk yet?” Jake asked as he stepped up with a glass of what Aaron hoped was wine in his hand.
“No, unfortunately, I cannot get drunk,” Aaron said. He took the glass and took a sip to find that it was wine and a good vintage of it. It was not something that was being offered to the others in the town, he would say. He would have to talk Jake out of another glass of it before the night was over.
“How is that possible?”
“My magic burns it out of me. When you get as powerful as I am, my magic can at times be sentient outside of what I want it to do. I’ve had to defend me when I was unconscious before when attacked by an UnSub that I was hunting. It healed me up after an attack and tossed the man who attacked me out of a window. That was the same man that came back and attacked and killed my ex-wife. I wish that my magic had just killed him that night.”
“I can see that,” Jake said. He looked at his glass of wine and then at Aaron. “So it burns the alcohol out of you?”
“Yes. I love the taste of a lot of various drinks, so that’s nice but yeah, I can’t get drunk, and I’ve found that a few drugs don’t affect me the way that they would for normal magic users or even Humans.”
“That sucks, there is sometimes just something so good as just getting drunk and letting go. My last boyfriend loved to be fucked when he was drunk, said the orgasms were so much better. Though he only did it with people that he trusted. I didn’t care for it when he talked me into trying it, but he was always so damned cuddly afterward that I could never deny that to him.”
The sound of crashing from the kitchen area drew not only Aaron and Jake’s eyes but a lot of other eyes.
“I should so and see what is up.” Jake drained his glass of wine and headed that way.
Aaron figured that Jake taking the next two days off was a good thing. He had already figured out what he and Jack were going to do, and it wasn’t all relying on Jessica and her cooking. While none of it would be nearly as good as Jake’s food, or even reheats of Jake’s food, they would survive it. At least Aaron had oatmeal for breakfast down so they would at least start the day with something other than pop-tarts. While pop-tarts were fine every once in a while, they were not good for everyday breakfast and not with Jack and his issues with sugar and his magic.
“So, I heard that it was your son who set the geese loose,” a woman said as she stepped up to Aaron.
Aaron knew her, he knew that he knew her, but he could not for the life of him remember who the hell she was in the town until he sat the little newspaper pin on her shawl. She was the town newspaper reporter. Aaron disliked her propensity for gossip in the news instead of actual news, but then there wasn’t a lot of actual news in the town that wasn’t gossip. Still, there was no name in his memory about her.
“Yes, my son lost control of his magic after he was fed too much chocolate and ice cream. I’m sure you are well aware of what overfed magic can do in a child who already has a loose grasp on his magic. We’ve all seen the small things that happen to overactive children. Billy Johnson’s kid set fire to the Christmas tree last year in the town square from what I have heard. Setting a gaggle of geese on the town when he was upset was nothing compared to fire.”
“Yes, but it’s very rare.”
Aaron looked at her, and he saw the intelligence in her eyes. She might be a reporter, but she was very intelligent.
“What do you mean?”
“Setting a tree on fire is one thing. Your son did a lot more than that. He called those geese to him. How many of the issues that he has had have revolved around animals?”
Aaron wondered at that himself now. There were small things when Jack’s magic was at its wit’s end, but those were things that were things moving, but the other issues were always with animals.
“Shit,” Aaron said.
“Have a good night, Hotch,” the woman said as she turned to waltz back onto the dance floor where no less than three men asked her for a dance.
Aaron walked over to the edge of the area, and he pulled out his cell phone to text Jessica. He had never thought about Jack’s magic settling on animals as his area that he liked best. Most people settled on some form of element, wind, fire, water, or earth. Yet Jack was his son and his son was not going to be anything but powerful, just like Aaron, so animals and beast taming was something that he would have the magic for. Though it meant that he had been going about helping Jack to harness his power in the wrong way and that was the whole issue behind it all.
After talking with Jessica a little through text, Aaron looked up and around the room. He thankfully just hosted the party and could slip out at any point, and there would be no issue about it at all. Aaron’s house was the most protected in the town, so the protections made sure that drunk idiots couldn’t injure themselves or anyone else. It was why it was held there.
There was a man standing on the edge of the room who was dressed in a deep purple colored suit. The accents were all a lighter shade of purple. The suit was well fitted to his form, and Aaron thought that he was beautiful. His hair was a mess of barely tamed wisps. Aaron really liked the look of him. While the turn of a face could be attractive, Aaron found that he needed more than that for a relationship to endure, there needed to be a lot more than that. Still, he was beautiful to Aaron, and he did want to strike up a conversation. Aaron started to walk over to him but was stopped with a server with a tray of champagne. Aaron grabbed a glass for himself as well as one for the other man who was holding one that was empty. He set his empty wine glass on the tray.
Aaron watched as the man looked around the ballroom, not looking at Aaron at all until Aaron was close to him. His eyes widened in shock, and for a second, Aaron was pretty sure that the man was going to bolt away. He looked around but stilled when Aaron finished closing the gap between them.
“Hello, Protector Hotchner,” the man said.
“Hotch, or Aaron, please,” Aaron said. He put emphasis on the Aaron part of it, and the man blushed.
“Sure,” the man said. He looked around like he was trying to find someone to save.
Aaron stepped back. He knew that there were people who were very shy, but he hadn’t met someone in a long time. Aaron handed over the glass of champagne and waited to see if the man took a drink of it.
“So what do you do around town?” Aaron asked.
“I write books for a living, and I will not share that name with you,” the man said.
Aaron raised a hand in supplication and smiled at the man. He wanted to ask his name, but the man hadn’t offered it. There were those who still held fast to names being sacred, so they didn’t share them easily. Aaron had long got over that small fear that he had because it wasn’t like in his job he wasn’t going to be giving his name out left and right as a federal agent.
“That’s perfectly fine that you don’t want to share that. Writing is personal, so anyone who tries to bully you into sharing is someone who is an asshole.”
The man blushed a little more at Aaron’s words. It wasn’t one of embarrassment but of a little bit of pleasure. Aaron was glad about that. He was afraid that his attention to the man was something that he didn’t want.
“You are the only person who thinks that,” the man said. He looked around behind Aaron, checking who was around them.
Aaron looked around as well to find somewhere that they could talk alone. Aaron hadn’t expected to meet someone that would entertain him at all, but there was something about the man’s eyes that intrigued Aaron so much. The man’s eyes roved over everything, cataloging what was going on around him with a careful eye. It was something close to Aaron when he looked around crime scenes. Aaron wondered what had the man so careful about everything.
“Why don’t we move over here?” Aaron said. He pointed with his plate to a small area that was empty, and there was no one even close to it. The man looked around the room and then at the area that Aaron was pointing at.
The man swallowed and took a deep breath before he nodded. He took another sip of his champagne before he eyed the drink and downed it. A server walked by, and Aaron drained his drink before setting the glass down on the tray when it was offered. The man set his down as well and grabbed a full one. Aaron followed suit and followed the man to the empty corner. There were no chairs, but they could hold up the wall well enough.
“So, Hot-” The man stopped and gave Aaron a smile. “Aaron, how are you liking New Haven?”
“It’s more interesting in DC in varying way.”
“Well, that’s a lawyer like answer,” the man said.
“I was a lawyer for a few years. Prosecutor for DC but I wanted to start to catch the bad guys before they ended up in court, maybe try and stop them before they did as much damage as they did. I was happy to move over, and the work made me feel like I was doing good.”
“Sounds like you miss it,” the man said.
“Yes and no. I don’t miss the long hours, the mental problems from dealing with the worst of the worst. I don’t miss all of that, but I miss the hunt and the puzzle that a lot of them were.”
“Are you going to be happy here?”
“I think that I will be. I can do research and my own magic experiments. I was pretty good at spell creation, and the like when I was younger, I could pick that up again. There is a lot that I can do that would be fun for me and challenging enough to where I don’t go crazy. Can I ask what you write about?”
The man laughed, and he ducked his head down. “I write magical mysteries.”
“Oh, yes. None of it is based on real magic, but I write them, and I enjoy it.”
“Hotch!” someone called out, and Aaron turned around to look and see who was calling out for him. He saw that a small group were headed toward him.
“I’ll be back,” Aaron said as he turned around to talk to the man. He gave him a smile. “Please, wait for me.”
Aaron turned around, and as he did, he looked down at the man’s feet. He was wearing a pair of black converse. Which was out of style for what everyone else was dressed in. Aaron also saw the man’s socks, which were mismatched. The group was on him, and he wasn’t able to ask why the socks were mismatched.
It was nearly half an hour later that Aaron got away from the group who had co-opted him into meeting a lot of people from other magical towns that he had no interest in really talking to. He didn’t not like them, but he wanted to get back to talk to the man that he met. He wanted to know more about him.
Aaron looked all over the ballroom but didn’t see him.
“Looking for someone?” Jake asked as he stepped up. His hair was mussed like he had been running his hands through it.
“Yes. I was talking to a man.”
“Spencer,” Jake said.
Aaron turned his head to look at Jake with what he was sure was shock on his face. “What?”
“His name is Spencer. I was shocked as hell that he was talking to you.”
“He’s the town recluse. He came just about five years ago, lives in that house at the edge of the wall on the side closest to the State Park and rarely comes into town. His groceries are dropped off, same stuff every single week, standing order from what I have found out.”
Aaron could see that with the man. Being the recluse and the way that he didn’t offer up his name and little about himself. Still, he intrigued Aaron.
“That is actually the longest I have ever seen him talk to anyone. There are the rumors of course about him. That he’s crazy. That he’s a killer. The kids are kind of scared of going to that area, but the few times that I have got him to talk to me, he’s never struck me as the kind of person that would be a harm to anyone. And I have tried to seduce him. Who would not want to see what the boy looks like when he orgasms?”
Aaron wanted to shove Jake away from him because now that was the only vision that was in his head. He instead just glared at the man.
“I’m not even sure what his sexuality is, and I’ve never asked. I’ve flirted, and he’s not really paid attention. Others have, male and female alike. Nothing from him at all. He’s a mystery, and at least he’s a benign one. People leave him alone as long as he leaves them alone, and he doesn’t bother anyone, except for those who might explode if they don’t ever find out what he’s doing and why he’s a recluse.”
Aaron was intrigued even more by Spencer now. He would have to see about figuring out where he lived and seeing if he was up for continuing their conversation.
Aaron paused just inside the boundaries of his property. Balto was standing there on his front porch stoop. Aaron knew that the moon was in the sky for at least a little bit longer, but it was a full moon. That evening would be the last day of the full moon, so Balto was going to be around for at least a little bit longer. At least until the moon set the next day.
Pausing, Aaron took a good look at the wolf. He looked more haggard than usual, his fur sticking in weird ways. Like he had been in a fight. Aaron worried about what that meant. He walked up to crouch in front of Balto.
“What’s going on?” Aaron asked. He tipped his head back toward the house and the door, so Aaron stood up and opened the door. Balto pushed past Aaron’s legs, and he slipped into the house. Aaron watched as Balto trotted over to what Aaron called the war room. Balto walked over to a sword that Aaron had brought with him. It was something that he had spent a long time layering with spells so that he could fight with it. The first had been a spell that would make so that it would never break and then second that it would never need to be sharpened. It could also reflect spells if Aaron got it up in time. Aaron had only fought once with it, a small issue that he had been recalled from the BAU for a while he was on a case. Morgan had not been happy about it as it had happened not long after Gideon had left the team after the issue with the bombing and Bale.
Balto left the room then and was waiting by the front door when Aaron followed him after grabbing a few crystals with spells stored in them. They were good to use to protect himself if he did expend his magic. He didn’t think that he would but he just might. Aaron also grabbed a vest that he had brought with him from the FBI. It was soaked in his magic and would help to protect him from some spells as well as knives. He had no clue what to expect, but it seemed that Balto had found something that he thought Aaron would need a sword for. Aaron looked for anything else. He would rather go into something over prepared than under.
The bark from the front of the house told Aaron that Balto was ready to go and not wanting to wait. Aaron shook his head and walked to where Balto was waiting. The wolf was pacing in front of the front door, glancing at Aaron every time he turned around. Aaron opened the door again and waited to see what Balto was going to do.
Balto darted out of the house and made a quick turn around to the left of the house. Aaron followed behind and saw that Balto had slowed down to wait for Aaron. Balto trotted after that, checking to make sure that he didn’t get too far in front of Aaron.
The woods felt wrong when Aaron fully entered them. He frowned because the woods also felt like they were waiting for something, braced for something really bad. No wonder Balto had been waiting for him. If the woods felt like this right now, it was insane what they would feel like when whatever was coming had come. Further and further they walked, Balto leading Aaron on a trail that was no direct. Aaron knew that they were heading in a straight line, but they were weaving around that. Making it hard for anyone to track them. Aaron was glad of that. Balto was obviously just a little more intelligent than Aaron had thought that he was. Balto stopped at the base of the wall that was the line for the city.
Whatever Balto was leading Aaron to, was outside of the city. Balto jumped up onto the wall and waited for Aaron to climb up onto it as well. The wolf jumped down, making not a single sound as he landed. Aaron followed suit, using a small bit of magic to soften the sounds of his feet on the forest floor. It was hard to do at this time of year with crunchy leaves and twigs on the ground. It wasn’t long until it was going to be freezing during the day as well as at night, especially in their area.
The sounds of people talking had Balto slowing down, so Aaron did as well. He waited to hear what was going on before he started to cast magic. The protections of the town were long gone from the area. Balto crept up to the edge of a clearing, getting on the ground and wiggling under a bush. Aaron didn’t do that, but he did crouch and look through gaps in the bush. It was an evergreen bush, so it was still full of needles. It was a group of five men, Aaron cursed under his breath.
The biggest man in the group was well known to Aaron. He was wanted by the magical arm of the FBI and had been for seventeen years. He was a raider. He and his group attacked towns with a high concentration of magical people and robbed them blind, usually killing at least a few of them in the process. Aaron had never got this close to him before.
One of his men had been taken into custody, but as soon as the first question was asked, the man’s brain had exploded inside of his head. His only name was the one that the FBI had given him, which was the Raider. Aaron gripped the hilt of his sword tightly. He wanted to charge in there and take the head off of the man, but he knew that would be foolish. Though he would rather try and then them on with a team, he was going to have to settle for Balto.
Balto moved forward, whining. He wiggled again, and his head should have popped out from under the bush.
“Hey, look, the mutt is back,” one of the men said. He reached over to the fire and pulled off what looked like a hunk of meat from a pig. Balto wiggled forward a little more and let out a little yip like sound. “Come on. We have more food for you.”
Balto lunged forward, taking the meat from the man and eating it. The man started to pet him from head to tail like he was a dog.
“You get attached to animals too quickly,” the Raider said, but he was smiling.
“Hey, this guy took out this boar when it attacked us,” the first man said. He ruffled the fur on Balto’s neck.
Balto dropped down and started to eat the meat again. After a few minutes, a bone was dropped down for him to gnaw on as well.
“We go in at dusk,” the Raider said.
“Not during the day?” one of the others asked.
“No. Too many awake and active. Getting them when they are tired is best,” the Raider said as he grabbed another hunk of meat off of the boar using a knife and letting the meat slide onto his plate.
“We never go in unless it’s dark out,” the man who was petting Balto said.
Aaron watched as Balto started to move around a little. The wolf was still chewing on the bone, but he was taking small breaks to work on doing something with something that was underneath of him. Aaron watched as a small bag was pulled out from somewhere. There was a string tied to it. Balto had someone tie something around his upper front leg. Aaron recognized it as a bag of something from the apothecary in town. The bag was very recognizable. Balto turned his head in and grabbed hold of the bag with his teeth and then flung his head.
Moving quickly, Aaron jumped out just as the bag made it into the fire. A minor explosion went through the area, and there was a lot of smoke and a horrible, horrible smell. Aaron went right for the Raider. None of them had seen him. Aaron stabbed forward with his sword. He felt his sword hit flesh, and then he drew back and swung as hard as he could. He heard a thud and then another as someone screamed.
Aaron lost Balto in the fighting. There were three men left. Aaron had two of them in front of him, and he knew that he would be able to kill them easily. Being with the Raider meant that they were killed on sight. Aaron heard a growl from Balto as he cut the head off of the second man and turned to the third, who dropped to his knees with his hands behind his head.
“I surrender,” the man said.
There was a sound of a scream on the other side of the smoke, and Aaron turned to look. He tossed one of the crystals at the feet of the man who surrendered, and a grouping of ropes came out of it and wrapped around the man. Only Aaron’s magic could release him. It was the best to keep him bound. A set of the ropes even worked their way through the man’s mouth to gag him of sorts. He wouldn’t be able to cast magic at all.
Aaron tried to find where Balto was when he heard a sound he hadn’t heard in a long time. It was the sound of flesh ripping. The gurgle of blood shooting out was next. Then the thud of a body. Aaron walked toward that to see Balto whipping around to attack Aaron until he recognized him. The man who had been petting him was dead on the ground, his throat ripped out.
Balto took a step toward Aaron and then dropped down with a whimper. Aaron dropped down beside him and ran a hand over him. He was covered in blood, but there didn’t seem to be a single outer wound on him.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Aaron asked.
Balto twitched his leg and whimpered again. Aaron laid his hand on it, and he could feel how it twitched. Muscle damage, Aaron thought as he touched the leg.
“You just like me carrying you around, don’t you?” Aaron asked. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number for the FBI that he had for the team that was hunting the Raider.
“Hotch, I thought you were retired,” Anders said in place of a greeting.
“Oh, I am, but the Raider was attempting to ransack my town. He’s dead, and I have one of his lackeys here bound and ready to be picked up.”
“How did you find them?”
“I stumbled upon them.” Aaron looked down at Balto and ruffled his fur. He would make sure that no one thought it was him. No one was going to really question the death of the one if he removed his head with his sword. He just really hoped that no one thought anything of their deaths at all. It wasn’t like anyone in the FBI was going to really be upset.
“We just put out a bounty on them, dead or alive,” Anders said.
“I don’t need the money,” Aaron said.
“No, we know that you don’t, but you can stick it into a trust for Jack. He might want a lot of education, and magical secondary education is not cheap.”
Aaron sighed and agreed. He looked around to make sure that no one was around.
“I’ll seal up the area, take the living man to the cells in town, and wait on you. I’ll send the coordinates of where the body is. You know where the cells are in New Haven, right?”
“Yeah. We will be there as soon as possible. We will split into teams at the town edge. I’ll come to you, and the rest of the team will go to the site.”
Aaron looked around the room to make sure that Balto had everything that he needed. Drive time from DC to New Haven was six hours but the flight time was just under two hours, but there was time to get the team going and to make sure that they came with everything that was needed.
Balto was on the table with magic making him sleep as it started to knit back together with the muscles that had been torn. Aaron’s diagnosis was that Balto had ripped nearly every single muscle in his left hind leg.
“Melinda, keep Balto in the room. I might be gone for a few hours to deal with an issue that the FBI had to be called in on.”
“You missed some blood,” Melinda said as she waved her hand at his pants.
Aaron looked down to see it, he exhaled and jerked his tie out of the shirt. He had dressed but hadn’t seen the blood on his pants. He would need a whole new outfit to meet the team from the FBI.
“Dinner for all of them?”
“We can go to the diner or anywhere really. Jake doesn’t need to worry about it. Though he might want to do up some food for Balto. Magic’s good at healing but it won’t knot those muscles back all the way.”
“I’ll watch him.” Melinda opened the door to look at Balto. “He’s been injured a lot lately.”
“Well that first thing, I have no clue what it was but this time, he did it to save the city.” Aaron glanced at Balto as well to see his chest rising up and down as he slept.
“Was it all enough to satisfy whatever had you itchy for the last few days?”
“What?” Aaron looked at Melinda.
“You’ve been pacing since the party.”
Aaron thought about how he had been, and he realized that he had been very antsy since the Halloween party. He had thought that it was more about Spencer and trying to find the time to go and see him. He just wanted to talk to him more. It was insane how attached he was after such a short time.
Aaron looked at the mass of people that were leaving from the area before he turned to look at the young man who had caused such a big scene in the middle of the town.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Aaron asked.
“Look, I’m not the one that did something wrong. They did!” Dirk, the young man, screamed and waved his hand toward where the other two teenagers were standing and waiting for him to talk to them.
Aaron knew that the three of them had been friends before this, and he wasn’t sure why they were no longer friends. He knew that romance was something that put wrenches into relationships, but all three of these teenagers were adults now, just barely, but still, they were all going to have to face what happened.
“What did they do wrong?”
“Mister Hotchner, are you talking to my son without his parents?” someone asked as he stepped up.
Aaron looked at the man to see that he was one of the stuffy men in town who had been giving Aaron problems with a few laws that he wanted to get passed.
“Dirk is eighteen. I saw his ID. He turned eighteen three weeks ago. I do not have to have his parents present. I have read him his rights, and he waved them.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong, Dad,” Dirk said, and his father looked at him like he might be stupid.
Aaron would hold that the young man was entitled but not stupid, not really. Aaron had grown up around a lot of young men and women like Dirk. They were never stupid, they had too many smarts for that, but it came to what they thought they deserved, they were dumb as fuck.
“Actually, son,” Aaron said as he waved for the local cops to step forward. While Aaron wasn’t officially in the line of command of them, he was a member of the force and authorized to make arrests. He made sure that they stayed back just enough that they weren’t that noticeable but were there if the young man tried to run. “You are in a lot of trouble for assault.”
“Assault? It’s just Raven.” Dirk waved it off like the fact that it was Raven made it okay for him to slap her. Her boyfriend, Alan, was standing beside her, her face tucked into his shoulder.
“My son lost control.”
“If you don’t stop, Sir. I will have to ask you to leave.”
“I demand you let my son go and arrest them!” the man yelled as he pointed at the other two teens.
Aaron looked at the officers and nodded his head. Fast as lightning, magic shot out from one and wrapped around the father, holding him still while the other officer wrapped up Dirk like that before cuffing him. The cuffs negated magic that Dirk could conjure.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” the father demanded.
Aaron turned on the man. He got right into his face. “Your son slapped a woman when he saw her on a date with someone else. Then he tried to take her away from the area and used his magic to start a fucking fire to almost kill another teenage boy. All because he had decided that he was going to date her when he was done with college, and he didn’t want his best friend to marry her before him because she would make good looking children with him and since she doesn’t have a lot of money, she could stay home and watch whatever kids he wanted to have with her. Not because he loved her or even liked her. So yes, your son is under arrest for assault on the young woman and attempted murder on the young man.”
The father was apoplectic. Aaron could hear him through the gag that was placed around his head. It kept what he was saying muffled so that people wouldn’t hear, but it allowed him to get his anger out.
“Put them both in cells,” Aaron said.
The two officers nodded their heads, and Aaron turned around to look at the couple. They were both upset, and the girl was crying. Aaron hated this for them. He could see the love for each other on their faces, and this could break it.
“Hey, Hotch,” someone called out, and Aaron looked over where the woman was who called out. “Bring them in there out of everything. I have a pot of tea and some cookies. You guys can have a snack while you talk.”
Aaron nodded and looked at the teens before he waved them over. They both moved over slowly to where Aaron was before going into the shop. Aaron looked around as he entered behind them to see that they were alone. The little tea shop usually was open at this time of day.
“Thank you,” Aaron said as the tea and cookies were settled onto the table, and then the lady was gone. Aaron could not remember her name, so he hoped someone at the station was able to figure it out. “Please start at the beginning.”
“Dirk came up to us where we were walking, holding hands,” Raven said.
Alan started to make them each a cup of tea while Raven talked about what exactly Dirk had done. Aaron had spoken to everyone who had seen what happened before he had talked to Dirk. He knew that Dirk had been the one to nearly set the whole town on fire. People had contained it all very easily but taking out Dirk had taken Aaron as the young man had been so incensed that Aaron had to knock him out. It had been one step from a disaster, but it was going to help solve seven outstanding cases of small-time fires in the forest around New Haven. The former protector hadn’t been able to harvest magical signatures to find out who had been doing it. There had been no instances of after Aaron had taken over.
“I tried to get him away from me, but his hand was holding me so tight.” Raven held up her arm and pulled up the sleeve on it.
The bruise was stark on her skin, and it was perfectly shaped to where it could be used to get a positive ID on hand size. Though that meant that she would have to go down to the station to talk to a cop and get pictures taken. Her face was bruised up, but there was little proof that Dirk had done it just from the images. It would make a good image, though when this all went to court because Aaron was pretty sure that Dirk’s family was going to fight this. Kids like that didn’t get their inflated sense of self-worth unless it came from the parents.
“You’ll have to go and get pictures of the bruises taken,” Aaron said.
“Can I stay with her?” Alan asked.
“I don’t know,” Aaron said.
“She’s freaking out, and unless I touch her, her magic will flare. It’s in protect mode. She’s been accepted to the Hierarchy School, Mister Hotchner because her level of protection magic that is innate is off the charts.”
“I see. I’ll make sure you stay with her as long as you keep your mouth shut and aren’t showing that you are coaching her answers in any way, shape, or form.”
“You are both to be commended for not killing him. Though with the eyewitness statements there would have been a basis for justifiable homicide. I would hate for either of you to have that on your conscience for the rest of your life.” Aaron heard noises outside of the shop and saw two men and a woman outside. Alan looked at them and looked happy. “Parents?”
“Yeah, my dad and step-mom and Raven’s dad. Is it okay if they take us there?”
“Sure. Just go now and don’t wait. We want the images while the skin is still inflamed. It looks better to a jury.”
“Oh Gods above,” Raven said. She looked near in tears again. “He’s going to fight it, every single little step of it. We used to be friends. Us three and another girl who moved out of town. There was a big thing and then she was gone. Maggie was her name. She’s never written me back.”
Aaron knew of a case in the area involving a Maggie by reputation only. It was still being stalled in the courts, but Aaron hadn’t looked into it. He bet he would find Dirk at the other end of it and it wouldn’t be good at all. It wasn’t going to be easy, working this whole thing but Aaron trusted that the locals would be able to handle it. If not, he would see about getting the state involved. Raven and Maggie deserved justice, no matter the cost to Dirk and his ego and sense of entitlement.
“If you guys need anything let me know. I have a few spells that I know that might help you get control of your emotions and your magic until you can get actual control of them.”
“Thanks, Mister Hotchner but Mom’s pretty good at that kind of stuff. I’m sure that she’ll help me.”
Aaron nodded his head and pushed the two teacups a little closer to them both. Aaron could smell the mild emotion controller potion that was in the tea, but even he didn’t mind drinking it. His emotions were not out of control, but they were a little more raised than he would like them to be. He wanted to go home and have a nice late morning reading. He had the fire going in what he considered his study, and it was where he had left Balto when he had gone to take Jack to school. Aaron was looking forward to settling in the chair with Balto at his feet, a lump on his socked feet.
Balto had been clingy since his new injury, and Aaron wondered if it was more than just a simple pulled muscle that was keeping the wolf with him during this stretch of the full moon. When the moon set in a little while, Aaron might just get to see what happened with it.
Aaron stayed in his seat and watched as the teens drank the tea. He didn’t force either of them to eat a cookie. He knew that their stomach could be rebelling against anything more than liquids in it. When the tea was gone, Aaron stood up and drained his as well before showing the two teens out of the shop. Their parents were all over them, but there was no anger at all in how they were. Even if they were angry, they were keeping that to themselves.
“Hotch,” the father said as he stepped over to Aaron. “Wayne Simmons. Alan is my son. How is our girl?”
“She’s going to be fine once she’s processed it. I would up her basic training that she’s doing to keep her magic under control or see about early admission. I can help with that if needed.”
“She’s been Alan’s best friend since they were kids. Dirk, too. I knew he was spoiled, but I never saw this before. I’m sick to my stomach and pissed off.” Wayne looked at where Alan and the two mothers were talking to Raven in low tones.
“I know you are doing well at keeping that at bay but please try and keep it that way for the rest of the time. She’s fragile, and one good magic burst away from needing to be sedated that would not do well for her at all.”
“I will. I can keep a level head. I promise. Thank you for taking care of them.”
“If you need anything, just get a hold of me.” Aaron clasped Wayne on the shoulder and shook the man’s hand before he left. It was time for family. He texted the lead on the case and let her know about letting Alan in with Raven and didn’t wait for a response before he shoved his phone into his pocket.
Aaron had walked to the disturbances he had been called to deal with, so he walked back home as well. He wanted the time to start to clear his head even though he knew that any one of the officers on duty would have driven him back to his house.
The walk helped Aaron clear his head the rest of the way so he could enjoy the morning and afternoon with nothing to do. He was caught up on work things as far as updating the town and had nothing else to do but relax. He was looking forward to that after the horror of the day before.
Aaron let himself into the house to find a note from Jake and Melinda on the table just inside where Aaron dropped his keys. It said that Jake was going to the restaurant and lunch was chicken salad, and he could make the sandwiches himself as everything was in the fridge and Melinda had the house things caught up and was going to the spa for the day. Aaron chuckled and set the note back down. They were both more than willing to take a day as their wages were salary and it wasn’t like Aaron needed them both there all the time anyway.
The kitchen held not just chicken salad sandwich makings but also a pitcher of lemonade. Aaron poured himself a glass of it before walking over to the door and checking it. Just as he was twisting it to make sure it was locked, he saw a flash of naked skin running to the trees. Aaron dropped the glass, not caring as it shattered. He unlocked the door and darted after the streaker.
“HEY!” Aaron yelled. He didn’t care about the fact that this was his land. Anyone could have seen that person naked and no one needed to see someone naked outside of sex, and all parties were consenting. Aaron barely saw where the person went as he dove into the trees and started to chase him. Whoever it was, they might have been naked, but they were faster than Aaron was and it wasn’t but about one hundred feet into the trees that he found that he had lost him. Aaron stopped and tried to listen, but the forest was quiet. He looked around, and there was nothing out of place.
Aaron crouched and touched the dirt under his feet to find if he could feel anything, but there was nothing. Aaron muttered the words needed for the spell that would help him track life signs, but the ones that popped up in the area were animals. There were no human life signs anywhere other than him. Aaron sighed and ended the magic before he stood up. He would have to report a streaker in the area, and he was not looking forward to that.
Aaron had finally had enough of not seeing Spencer around town. With the streaker not being sighted by anyone but him, Aaron had chosen to leave Jack with Jessica for the day and head into the wilds of the town to try and find this elusive man that was driving Aaron crazy in his dreams. Before Spencer a week ago, Aaron had never had sexual dreams of someone. He hadn’t even really dreamed about his ex-wife when they were teenagers, not the way that he dreamed about Spencer.
The woods and trees were silent, there was barely a breeze even though the air had a crispness to it that Aaron was a little startled about. Aaron laughed as he found a small warren of rabbits getting ready for the winter. He backed away and headed a different direction to find the wall that would take him near where Spencer’s house was. The house was more than a hike away from the rest of the town, and it was closer to noon when Aaron finally found the area where the wall was near a house. The house was old but well cared for, and Aaron could feel the magic all over it. It was close to the same feeling that was in that small clearing where the fake moon was. Aaron wrapped his arms around his body as the area felt like it was colder than anywhere else. There were some older spells that made some areas colder just by existing. The magic that was pouring off of the house was something that Aaron hadn’t felt in a long time other than the house that he was in, but even it wasn’t this strong.
Aaron looked up into the sky to see that the moon was still there, just barely though. The house seemed empty as he got close to it. There was a fire burning on the inside, but when Aaron knocked, no one answered. He tried to pick the lock on the door and even used brute force magic, but the house didn’t let him inside. Aaron walked back down the stairs from the porch and looked up at the house as a whole. It was a very old style but nowhere near as old as what Aaron’s was. It was small but had enough room for a single person. He looked around the back of the house to see that there was the standard woodpile for the town that had wood that was chopped down in the forest that were older or magic told someone that the area had too many trees. The ambient magic in the area made most of the flora of the area grow fast, so there was always enough trees for firewood even if everyone wanted a fire year-round.
“So how do you live here,” Aaron mused as he looked around the area again when he got to the front of the house.
There was a growl, and Aaron readied himself for whatever was coming until he saw Balto run out of the trees following a buck. Aaron figured that he was about to see Balto take it down, but the buck dashed left and reentered the trees again, and Balto just stopped running. A minute later the buck came out of the trees and nuzzled at the side of Balto’s snout before it went back into the trees again at a sedate pace. Balto had made friends with a deer, something that would typically be in its food chain.
Aaron could only watch as Balto howled to the moon as it started to dip below the horizon and disappear from view. Aaron wondered if this time he would see the wolf disappear to wherever he went when the moon was not in the sky, and it wasn’t a full moon. Balto hadn’t seemed to notice that Aaron was there at all so when Aaron moved, stepping on a small pile of leaves that crunched, Balto spun around and his hackles started to rise as he growled at Aaron until he realized that it was Aaron. The look of his shock on the wolf’s face nearly had Aaron moving forward until he saw the last of the moon dip out of sight and there in the blink of an eye was Spencer, naked, where Balto had been.
“Hello,” Spencer said like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to be standing there naked when a few moments ago he was a wolf. Aaron wasn’t sure exactly what the hell was going on, but it wasn’t good because there was no division of magic that had shifters in it. He knew that and yet there was Spencer standing in front of him. Aaron had not passed out or closed his eyes long enough for Spencer and Balto to swap places in any other way than from one to the other.
“Do you want to come in?” Spencer asked, and he nodded his head towards the house.
“I couldn’t get in earlier.”
“You tried to break in?”
“I’m a curious man, and I assumed you were home because I was told that you almost never leave it.”
“Well, that’s what I want the town to think. I’m going inside to get dressed because it’s too cold out here for me to stand around for long.” Spencer turned and started into the house.
Aaron knew that he was a horrible person, but he watched Spencer move as he walked, the way that his ass looked was near criminal. It wasn’t until Spencer turned around to look at him to see if he was following that Aaron remembered how to work his legs.
The inside of the house was warm, the fire keeping it a nice temperature. Spencer disappeared through the only door that was open leading off of the living room. The kitchen and living room were open to each other with a half wall. Aaron snooped around the room, looking but not touching. He wasn’t sure what magic was in this place, but Spencer had opened the door to the house by just touching the doorknob.
Spencer exited the bedroom, pulling a long-sleeved T-shirt overhead.
“Would you like some coffee? Tea?”
“Tea is fine with me,” Aaron said. He watched as Spencer put a kettle on the stove and turned the knobs to light the flame under it. Spencer grabbed two mugs from a cabinet, and then four shoebox-sized plastic tubs with lids out of another cabinet.
“I have a huge variety. You can pick what you want.”
Aaron moved toward where Spencer and started to look through the tubs while Spencer added a little sugar and a splash of cream to one of the two cups. “What are you drinking?”
Aaron looked to see that there was a shoebox that was full of just blends of Earl Grey. He closed up the other three and put them up before looking at the Earl Grey blends to find the one that he wanted to try. The kettle started to whistle, so Aaron grabbed a sachet quickly and worked on opening it up. Spencer grabbed one as well, not even looking at what he grabbed. Aaron saw that it was a standard Earl Grey. Spencer carefully poured in the water before he added his tea bag. Aaron watched the sugar and cream mix in the water for a few seconds before he added his own tea bag to his cup. Aaron smelled the rose essence in his chosen tea before he used a spoon from the small cup that lived by what looked like Spencer’s standard tea, a robust English Breakfast blend it seemed to stir in a little bit of sugar into his.
“Here,” Spencer said as he settled his tea mug onto the table that was in the corner of the kitchen. There were two chairs, but one of them was full of a clothes basket. Spencer picked that up and settled it down near the door in the back of the kitchen that Aaron assumed led to the basement.
“Laundry day?” Aaron asked.
“Eh, kind of. I need to put those up as they are clean.” Spencer blew on the top of the water in his mug before he took a hesitant sip.
Aaron wondered how Spencer’s lips weren’t burned given how hot that had to be.
“So, what was that?”
“Which part? Bambi and I or the whole I change into a wolf?”
“Let go with the wolf part.”
“You would go for the hardest thing for me to explain. You know I knew exactly who you were the first time that I saw you.” Spencer set his mug down and stood up to walk over to the fridge to grab something. He came back to the table quickly and set down a bowl of green grapes. He waved his hand at it in an offer to Aaron.
“So you knew who I was? Cross paths in some way with the BAU before this did you?”
“Kind of. Up until I moved here, I was a trainee in the FBI Academy with my eye on getting into the BAU one day.”
“You know that shifters don’t exist right?”
“You are right that they don’t, but all stories in Human fairy tales have a basis in magic. There was another trainee that didn’t like that I didn’t give him the attention that he thought that he was due. All through the Academy, I reported him, but he was the son of someone high up in the ranks, and nothing was done about it. Fast forward to graduation, and I was heading back to my apartment when he attacked me. I didn’t know what it was at first as I had never even heard of magic before this. I woke up, and he was holding me hostage in his house. I escaped because he thought I would be a mindless beast instead of who I was. He tried to trap me again, and I killed him. That’s when he became that thing that you ended up killing a month ago. He’s not been back since then. He told me before I killed him that first time and his magic warped him, that I was going to be trapped in his form until I found someone who loved me as beast and man since he loved me and I refused to love him back. He told me that I would never die as long as the curse was active. He was pretty villain monologue there before I escaped and killed him. Really he was just a horrible person who thought that putting niceness into a person meant that he got sex in exchange.”
“So how long have you been trapped like this?”
“I went into the Academy early and got dispensation because I was going to turn twenty-three while I was there. That was in two thousand four. So five years. It took him that long to find me.”
“How did you end up here, and how did he not find you? DC is not that far away, really.”
“I was running through the streets of DC to get away from him. I heard a few people screaming at a wolf in the middle of such a big city, but I just ran and ran. I guess I was on a magical ley line or something. I’ve researched all that I could get my hands on, but in this town, if I showed up and had no basic knowledge of magic, I would have been looked at hard. So I started to say that I was researching to write books on fake magic, but I wanted to make sure there was just real enough in it. Even in my Human form, I put off low-level magic. I would have easily lived along Humans with that amount I’ve found out. So most have assumed that I just didn’t get a lot of training as a child as I didn’t need it with the magic that I had. It was easy to pass that off, and then I slowly just became a recluse after I found books that I didn’t need to talk to anyone to be able to read.”
“You still didn’t explain how you ended up here.” Aaron picked up his tea and took a sip of it. It was a good blend. He pulled out the tea bag and squeezed it to stop it dripping. He settled it onto the plate that was on the table where there were two other older bags that looked a few days old. “Or how you change and when. I’ve only ever seen Bal-” Aaron stopped and blushed.
“Balto. I was startled by the name at first, and it wasn’t because of you as an adult calling me the name of Balto but because most of the town calls me White Fang. As I was saying before I distracted myself, I was running to get away from the thing that he had become when all of a sudden was in the woods. In that clearing and there was a huge moon there. He had taken me on the full moon, and the magic of the area had changed it a little. I was supposed to be reminded of the beast at all times, but since the moon was in control that night, I was stuck in wolf form when the moon is in the sky, unless the pull of the moon is too much, like the nights that the full moon is rotating around the planet. It’s something to do with the fact that the bright side of the moon controls me. Even on the new moon, I change as it’s still in the sky, we just can’t see it all. He thought that the spell was perfect because what sane and well Human would fall in love with a wolf, no matter how intelligent said wolf seems to be.”
“So, you stayed?”
“I felt safe here. I made it away from the creature that he had become and the magics in the town ramped up, but even with me here they failed as the old protector was not doing what he was supposed to do. Even the minimal books that I could find on that kind of magic told me that.”
“So you aren’t magical at all?” Aaron asked.
“No. Though if there were tests for theoretical knowledge on magic, I doubt that there is a person who can do better than me.”
“That’s impossible. The books in that library would take a lifetime to read.” Aaron looked at Spencer and wondered just what time was like for him when he was Human.
“Or someone who has an eidetic memory and can read twenty thousand words a minute.”
Aaron was pretty sure that his jaw was on the floor. He just looked at Spencer who shrugged.
“You aren’t kidding, are you?” Aaron asked.
“No, I am not. It’s why I wanted to join the FBI. To use my brain for good but I’ve gotten sick of killing.”
“This town is very shiny to those who have bad intentions. I’ve killed scores of men like those we took out a few days ago. I’ve protected this town as well as I could so I’ve lost that want to kill more even if the BAU tries to hold off on killing.”
“How did your disappearance get shoved under the rug?”
“My friend, that I went into the Academy with, left to head down to New Orleans, so it was spread that I did the same thing, from what I found out when I called Ethan. He kept in touch with a few and almost came back up to look for me when he heard the first rumor and knew that I hadn’t. I called him first. He knew some of the magic, more of the voodoo variety of magic than what you practice.”
“That’s where the voodoo books came from. They were out of place in the library.”
“I was able to slip in an out of there better when the other man was covering, but even your wards didn’t keep me out long after I slipped through the first time in my wolf form. I’m more magical in it. I think that magic has protected me since it was one of her own that hurt me.”
“What have you done to break the spell?”
“That first year, I dated a few men and even tried it with a woman even though they don’t interest me much at all. Then I just gave up on that and delved deep into trying to break it another way. The problem is that I have no clue what he did to me. I was asleep through it. The first time that I came out of wolf form, I was naked, so I have to assume that I was naked when I went into it. My clothes just kind of leave me and I find them in a pile when I change. Hence why I was naked when you saw me on Wednesday.”
“You were the streaker?” Aaron asked. He was really out of his depth at the moment. He tried to fit it all together in his head. He had no clue how to handle this. There was a lot of things going on at the moment that he had to get his head around.
“Yes. I was too afraid of what you would do if you saw me like that. You are powerful, and there is no one in this town that is a match for you at all. I have no basis, and I have seen you cast without meaning to do it around Jack when his magic is out of control. You are a wonderful father and a very strict lawman.”
“How long were you going to hide this?”
“Even magical people can be very, very horrible to things that they don’t understand.” Spencer reached into the bowl of grapes and pulled out a handful.
Aaron watched him as he ate them one at a time before he drained his cup of tea. He walked back over and looked at the clock that was on the wall. Aaron saw that it was about twenty past noon, which meant it was time to eat lunch. Spencer opened the fridge and pulled out what looked like a casserole.
“Jake drops these off on my porch a few times a week. I have to wonder if he didn’t know as he always drops off more the day that the full moon is over and has never left any when the moon in full control of me. He’s a good man who should be anywhere but where he is, but he loves this place, so he stays. I think he could run a restaurant where he could charge fifty a head and get away with it. We can’t make others do what we think is best for them, though.”
“No, we can’t,” Aaron said. He picked up his cup of tea and drained it before taking it to the sink to wash it out. He grabbed Spencer’s as well while the other man was getting the casserole in the oven.
“I have a few cans of pop left from this week’s order in the fridge. I have Coke and two Dr. Peppers.”
Spencer nodded his head, but he didn’t pull them out.
“The casserole will take about half an hour to warm up. We can move outside. I feel like I need air.” Spencer went right outside without waiting to hear Aaron’s answer on it. Yet, Aaron could understand that Spencer was feeling a little on display with nothing to distract Aaron from what was going on. The back porch of the house had a wooden swing on it but no other chair. Spencer waved for Aaron to join him on it. Aaron sat down but kept himself as far from Spencer as he could get.
“Do you have magic now?”
“No. I can feel it, and I know what it is, but I can’t wield it. Magic controls me, but it hasn’t changed me on that level, at least I don’t think so.”
“Magic, even healing spells call you a wolf when you are in that form. My spells never told me anything that made me question that you weren’t a wolf. I thought that the magic of the area manifested you to help protect the area, but that was it.”
Spencer started to have the swing move, just a slow glide front, and back that didn’t even pull Aaron’s feet from touching the wood of the porch. His feet just rocked forward and back. It was peaceful out like this. Aaron would have to think about getting a swing for him and Jack. There was a porch on the back of the house that Aaron didn’t use much. It wasn’t the weather for it, but spells could fix that.
“I hate being different,” Spencer said. He let his head drop back to where he was looking directly up.
“Your memory and reading speed?”
“And my genius-level IQ has always made me stand out from others. If I were a woman that’s what I figured the other trainee wanted from me, something that he could parade around. I’m no arm candy.”
“You are beautiful,” Aaron pointed out.
Spencer turned his head to look at Aaron, and there was a bit of a glare on his face. It was one that Aaron knew well from the face of Balto. His eyes were the same, and Aaron chastised himself for not noticing it the first time that he had seen Spencer. Though he was more captivated by the turn of Spencer’s face more than anything else, that and his way of speaking.
“What do you plan on doing?” Spencer asked.
“What would I do about you? You are a victim, Spencer. Nothing else matters considering what else I have seen you do. You are making your life work the way that you want it to. There is nothing wrong with that in any way, shape, or form. However, I would not say no to being able to visit you or having you come to see me. Use my library without having to sneak around again.”
“I never went anywhere but there. Especially after I realized just how bad Jack’s magic was. He’s got a good handle on it now.”
“Beast tamers have innate magic that sometimes makes it hard for them to control, that’s why his magic got worse when we moved here instead of better. He had a good grasp on it, but there is much more life here than there is in the city when it comes to animals. He’s been happy in the new classes at school, one of which is animal-related like a kid would take if they were in FFA in the area only it’s normal and magical animals.”
“I’ve watched him some when he’s at school. I debated approaching him, but then I realized that I would freak him out as well as you. Then I was injured, and you brought me to your house, and Jack interacted with me and nothing. Even he didn’t understand that I am not a wolf.”
“I couldn’t even imagine living a half-life like that.”
“I actually spend more of my life a wolf than not with the full moon and the passage of time during it. It’s not by much overall, but it’s enough. I was glad that the ball happened just before the full moon, but it’s why I left like I did. Talking to you got me distracted enough that I wasn’t keeping an eye on the time. I make sure I am home in time for the switch, so I don’t lose my clothes after the first few months I was here, and people were getting freaked out about finding my clothes laying around. High school kids got blamed for leaving clothes everywhere.”
“Yes, I found those records when I was looking into the streaker.”
“I’d say that I am sorry, but I’m really not. I can just see what the local cops thought of you looking into it.”
“Yes, I did get a few weird looks when I was asking around if there was a history of it. This town has a lot of history, but streakers are not something that it has a history of strangely enough.”
“I noticed that, as well. That there is not a lot of really weird things that happen here that can’t be pulled back around to magic. There was an infestation of faeries though two years ago.”
“What?” Aaron looked at Spencer to see that he was smiling.
“Yes. And not the fun ones either. It’s the horrible ones that like to play tricks. They were everywhere. Found out that the kids had been feeding them after reading about them. They wanted them for pets. It was two months to get them back out of town and into their colonies in the trees around the woods. I chased them every single night that I could. It was horrible, and they were assholes when they figured out that they were not welcome like they thought that they were.”
“We had an infestation in college. A single floor in a dorm. Seemed that they liked the smell of a perfume that one of the girls made on their own. It was horrible as the smell was strong enough that they stayed a week and no one could get rid of them. The perfume bottle had broken and soaked into the wood.” Aaron smiled as he thought about it. He remembered seeing a floor full of half-naked and some less as they fled from them. Aaron had helped them get some clothes to cover up with, but he had enjoyed seeing some of them before covering them up.
“Sounds horrible. I had a normal college life. Well, as normal as it could get for a twelve-year-old in college.”
“Twelve?” Aaron asked. He thought about someone like Spencer in school.
“Yeah. I made it through, and it made me better. I was able to handle the Academy until him.”
“If he weren’t dead, I would offer to make sure that he lived his life in jail after his magic was stripped from him. It’s horrible to live like that. To know that your magic had been taken away and you would never get it back. Binding magic takes someone strong, so it’s hard to break that magic, but even that it never comes back. The only times that I have ever seen it come back to someone is when their magic is bound as a child, and when they turn eighteen, it springs back to them as magic breaks it. It used to happen to families where the father or mother didn’t want their kid to get more powerful than them.”
“Magical people are no different than other Humans. We all do fucked up things to each other. Look, Jack expects me back for dinner. I’m happy to eat lunch here with you, but I would also like to talk to you more.”
“I need to write on my book some as I do my best writing in the evening before I shift. I don’t mind being at your place to shift, but I want to bring my laptop and finish this chapter I need to work on.”
“What is up with the house?”
“I don’t know. I woke up here one evening, and magic just started to protect it. Kids tried to break windows to get in and play a joke on me, magic stopped it from happening.”
“Magic protects and provides those who can’t protect themselves. Magic couldn’t stop what happened to you, but magic made sure that you have a safe place.” Aaron stood up when the timer for the oven went off. Spencer followed behind him.
It didn’t take long to find plates and everything needed to eat lunch with. Spencer’s cabinets were laid out well, and Aaron found the pattern to it all. Spencer dished out a helping on a plate for Aaron and then one that was nearly double for himself.
The cans of Dr. Pepper were set out, and Aaron cracked his to take a sip before he dug into the food. It was hot, but with a few blows on each bite, it was good to eat. Spencer just started to dig into his, and nearly inhaled half of it before Aaron got a few bites in.
“Hungry?” Aaron asked.
“I’m always starving when I shift. I think it’s something to do with magic. Either direction for the shift. I hunt the first thing, and I’ve figured out that if I bring food to Jake at your place, he gives me cooked food. I don’t mind the whole eating raw animals as it’s not horrible for animals and yeah I eat when I have nothing else. I learned how to hunt and catch things.”
“If you don’t like it, tell Jake.”
“I’m afraid to.”
“The people that I did tell, they always tried to fix me. They tried to force me to be with them and change to match someone that they could love, despite the wolf part. Someone needs to love me for who I am even with the wolf side of me.”
“My wife tried to mold me into someone that she thought she thought I should be, so I do understand that. Look, I won’t force you, but I do like hanging out with wolf you. I’m sure that I’ll like Human you enough to be a friend. You need a friend. Even if you don’t think that you do.”
Spencer nodded his head and then tipped his head down to finish eating. The meal was silent, but it wasn’t bad. It was something that Aaron could find himself liking. He needed a friend too, and he could be a good one for Spencer.
Aaron looked around the woods and make sure that no one was around. They had walked to the clearing where the moon was on full display, nearly full but enough for the magic that controlled Spencer to push him into a shift. Aaron had not got a lot of time with him the last little bit as Jack’s magic had been out of control a little as it had jumped up another level with his latest magical growth spurt. It wasn’t horrible, but Jack’s magic responded better to Aaron being around.
Spencer had all but moved in with Aaron and Jack, Jack liked him a great deal and understood most of what was wrong with Spencer and why he stayed in wolf form when the moon was in the sky.
“Hey, where did you go?” Spencer asked as he slipped his arms around Aaron’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
Aaron kissed Spencer back with everything that he had. He had fallen in love with Spencer months before but never said a single thing because Spencer still feared love in a way. Spencer wanted the curse gone, but he feared the hope that Aaron loving him would give.
Spencer had stayed in the house the night before, sleeping in bed beside Aaron in his wolf form when the moon rose and then staying in his skin after the moon set before the sun rose in the sky. Aaron loved waking up with Spencer in bed with him. He loved falling asleep with him, no matter his form.
“Just thinking about missing your face over the next few days but I’m glad you are still going to be around for the next few days. Jack’s been wanting freshly caught rabbit stew.”
Spencer laughed, and it always changed his face when he did. He went from just this side of pretty to beautiful. Aaron wanted to always make him smile.
“You know, I wonder what he’s going to do the day when you two go because he’s better and can live with Humans again.”
“Oh, Spencer,” Aaron said. He cupped the sides of Spencer’s face and pulled him into another kiss. “We are never leaving.”
“Don’t give me pretty words, Aaron Hotchner.”
“I’m not, Spencer Reid. I love this quirky little town with kids who think that magically TPing a house is the highlight of Halloween. That has old ladies who spy on people with magic and gossip about it. I love you.”
“Aaron,” Spencer said. He was looking at Aaron like he didn’t believe the words that Aaron said, but Aaron didn’t want to take them back. He never wanted to take those words back since he now saw how much happiness was in Spencer’s eyes.
Aaron looked up to stop himself from just kissing the hell out of Spencer. He wanted to do it though, but Spencer didn’t like kissing Aaron when he was getting ready to shift. It wasn’t that hard to talk him into it. This was different. He didn’t want to set things off on the wrong foot when they were just getting started. Aaron looked around the area and saw that the moon was gone. It wasn’t just not visible like it did when it was a new moon. It was just gone.
“Spencer,” Aaron said as he dropped his hold on Spencer’s face and stepped back to look up in the sky. He could see the moon just above the trees. He looked back down at Spencer.
“What?” Spencer asked.
Aaron grabbed him and spun him around, getting an arm around Spencer’s chest to stop him from wiggling away and then used his other to tip his head up to look in the sky. He heard and felt Spencer’s gasp at seeing the moon in the sky. Spencer didn’t move, it didn’t even seem like he was breathing as he just stared up at the sky.
“Oh my God,” Spencer said as he finally took a deep breath and exhaled. He turned around in Aaron’s arms but didn’t try and move away. He grabbed Aaron’s face and kissed him.
Aaron tried to calm Spencer down, but the younger man wasn’t having any of that. He was so excited that he seemed to want to crawl Aaron like a tree. Aaron lost control of them both, and they fell. Aaron didn’t even try and stop the impact of their bodies on the ground. He just let it happen, the jar of it stopped Spencer kissing him.
“I’m free, Aaron. God, I’m free to do what I want when I want. I can go on a vacation and have a blast without worrying about the setting of the sun and getting to my room for the night. I can go and see my mother.”
“We can,” Aaron said.
“You want to go and see my mother?”
“The phone calls have been good, and she likes me. I want to meet her, no matter where she is. Jack would love to see Vegas during the day.”
Spencer laughed, and it was a laugh that Aaron had never heard from him. They had spent a lot of time laughing and being happy, but this laugh was all about being free. Aaron was happy about that he wanted Spencer happy and free and even if that meant one day he was not in love with Aaron anymore, Aaron had freed him from the horribleness that his life had been for nearly six years. It had to be liberating to have a night to do whatever he wanted.
“What do you want to do?” Aaron asked.
“I don’t know. I want to…what time does Jack go to bed?”
“Jessica will probably have him down before we walk home. Why?”
“We can have sex all night long, Aaron. We can get midnight snacks and then go back to bed and curl up and talk before we fuck again. We can do what we want when we want.” Spencer stood up and brushed off his clothes before reaching out his hand to help up Aaron.
Aaron pulled Spencer back to him, using a quick, silent spell to make Spencer weigh less, he picked up Spencer and wrapped his legs around him before they started to the house. Aaron could get behind Spencer’s plans. It was the first night of many that they had together like this.
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!
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