Second Chance

Title: Second Chance
Ratings: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Fandom(s): Criminal Minds
Category: M/M
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner
Tags: Romance, Alternate Universe, Canon Minor Character Death,
Summary: Aaron had started to regret breaking things off with Spencer before they really got started but it was the only thing he could do. Now it was a year later and Aaron knew that what he had left behind was the one thing that he wanted in his life
Word Count:
Year: Season 5/6 (2009-2010)
Spoilers: Up Through Season 6
Notes: This was written for the Criminal Minds Reverse Bang for 2019. I love the art that rivermoon1970 made. It’s just glorious.
Beta: ScarsLikeVelvet
Gift For: rivermoon1970

Prologue

Aaron Hotchner was not a coward by any stretch of the imagination. However, still, he sat there in his car outside of Spencer’s apartment like he was a stalker. That wasn’t the issue; it was the fact that Aaron didn’t want to do what he was getting ready to do, but he needed to focus on Jack. Jack’s nightmares were not getting better, even after the boy had started to just sleep in bed with Aaron. He was afraid of Aaron dying when he left to go to the store while Jessica stayed with him.

There was no way that Aaron could go back to work at the moment. The offer from Strauss was something that was very nice. It would allow him to help consult on cases at a point where he was the one to make it known. He could teach a few classes at the Academy. It was a nearly full retirement as well as access to the ability to conceal and carry by a grant offered by the FBI. There were other dangers out there, and even with good conviction rates and long times in, Aaron had been in the FBI just long enough for some people to start to get out. Aaron wasn’t going to be left behind to get attacked, not after George Foyet had ripped Haley away from him. They might have been divorced, but Jessica was right that he still loved her in a way. It was a soft love that he held for the woman who birthed his son, who was raising him in the best way possible, despite the fact that for a while, Haley hated Aaron’s guts.

Haley had never said a bad word about Aaron in front of Jack. Even after Aaron’s job had put her and Jack into WitSec, or at least it seemed that way to Aaron, given how much Jack was clinging to him. No agent expected work to follow them home like that. No other UnSub in the BAU’s history had targeted someone like that. Bale was the closest, but even that had been much different. There was so much that Aaron couldn’t do for Jack if he weren’t around, and Aaron refused to do that. Not when Jack needed him the most.

Strauss had made sure that the door would always be open for Aaron to come back as an instructor later on when Jack was settled and better off. Aaron was thankful for that.

Looking at the window to Spencer’s apartment that he sat at and played chess, Aaron was startled to see Spencer standing there looking down at him. Aaron couldn’t make out the look on his face as he was too far away, but he was pretty sure it was confusion. Aaron had only ever been to Spencer’s place to drop him off, or lately, pick him up so that he didn’t have to take the train with a cane and his leg injured like it was. Aaron got out, leaving everything but his keys behind in the vehicle. This wasn’t going to be a long visit. Aaron had saved Spencer for last not because of how little regard he had for him but because he had a lot of regard for him. It wasn’t hard to see that Spencer had a great affection for Aaron. At least, recently, it had been very evident. Aaron hadn’t ignored the feelings that were inside of him. He had even gone to Strauss to give her the heads up what he was feeling for Spencer and that he was going to pursue a relationship with him.

Now, everything was messed up because right now, Aaron couldn’t divide his time at all.

Aaron entered the building and looked around for the elevator and saw that there was no one. He frowned. Spencer had never mentioned that. Aaron wondered how in the hell Spencer had been getting up and down the stairs on crutches before he had moved to using a cane. It was ridiculous that Spencer had not asked someone else for help. Aaron started up the stairs, not shocked to see that Spencer’s apartment door was open, and Spencer was standing there. He looked off to Aaron.

“Hello,” Aaron said.

“Hi,” Spencer said back. He leaned against the door jamb to the apartment and crossed his arms over his chest. “Morgan already called and warned me that you were on your way to me, given that he had talked to everyone else, and I was the last and hadn’t heard from you.”

“Can I come inside?” Aaron asked.

“No, you’ve never been in my apartment, and the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech would ruin the space of my apartment.”

“What?”

“There is no other reason for you to stay down outside of my apartment for an hour and sit in your car, Hotch.”

Aaron flinched a little at that because he hadn’t been called Hotch by Spencer in months unless they were working.

“I have to do this.”

“I agree that you need to take care of your son. I understand that. As much as I would love to have you stay in the job because the team is functioning pretty well at the moment, I know that the team can’t stay like it is forever. It’s impossible. So I have to adapt. That can’t be what is keeping you down there, so it has to be our building personal relationship. If you were just asking for something short like a few weeks or a month to get Jack settled down into a new life, you wouldn’t hesitate. You are not a coward, Hotch.”

“This is better happening inside.” Aaron really didn’t want to get into it with Spencer out in the middle of the hallway.

“Again, I would rather not look at my couch and remember the break-up.”

“This-” Aaron stopped because it was just that. Even if they hadn’t been fully dating just yet, just random hanging out and a meal here and there. Hell, they had never even kissed. Aaron had jumped too quickly into a relationship with Haley when they had been younger. Aaron didn’t want to make that mistake with Spencer, and yet it seemed he was making new ones. “Yes. I can understand that.”

“You don’t need to explain it, Hotch. I understand. Jack needs you, and I’m not that big of an asshole. He just lost his mother in the worst way possible, and it’s not like we can just push that all away and go on like nothing happened. He needs to understand that you are dedicated to him. Maybe someday down the road, you’ll have time to start a relationship. I’m happy for the time that we had, as your co-worker, your friend. I have work in the morning. I need to make sure that I get enough sleep since it’s probably going to be Morgan who will step up to cover for you while it’s decided if he’s going to stay long term or they are going to bring someone else in. With Rossi in place as a firm second, I don’t see why they wouldn’t just keep things the way they are.”

Logic and facts were things that Spencer Reid used to hide away from the world, Aaron had known that since he had met him. Aaron would make sure to let Morgan and JJ know to watch him closely. It wouldn’t be fair for Aaron to be the on to rip that way and then just leave Spencer broken behind. Aaron hated that he was that known to Spencer that he had figured it all about before Aaron could give him the speech he had been working on for nearly an hour.

“Just keep in touch and let me know how you and Jack are doing, please. And if you need anything, I mean anything, just reach out.” Spencer stepped forward, closing the gap between them and kissed Aaron on the cheek, lingering there just a second or two too long before he turned and was inside of his apartment before Aaron could say anything. “Goodbye, Hotch.” Spencer shut the apartment door without a glance back to Aaron at all.

Aaron wanted to get angry, but he knew that this was the way that Spencer was going to be. He didn’t beg, he didn’t plead. Time and life had taught him that neither of those brought people back to him, so there was no sense in doing it. Still, at least then, Aaron would feel like he was losing something that Aaron himself was broken up over losing. This wasn’t the end that he thought, but Aaron would make sure that Spencer knew that he was going to come back. When things were settled, and Jack was better and didn’t need Aaron’s continual presence in his life, Aaron would win Spencer back.

Chapter 1

The grocery store was even more empty than usual, and Aaron was glad of it. He wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with him, but he had been feeling off since the day before, but it wasn’t a sick feeling, just off mentally. There was a large Halloween aisle with costumes, decorations, as well as candy. He had Jack’s costume ready, and the new house was decorated to the gills. Still, Aaron had wanted to wait to get the candy until closer to Halloween. Aaron did all of his shopping on Wednesday afternoons because the store was usually not all that busy, and he could take his time. Jack was staying with their new neighbor, a stay at home mother whose husband worked as a family lawyer in DC. Aaron had refused the first few times, but Jack was still at an age where going to the store, and shopping was not thrilling at all. So after the third time of Jack throwing a small fit and Aaron leaving with him without the shopping done, he had given into Denise and let her watch Jack while he stopped. It had become a weekly routine.

Today’s shopping was for the week for their meals but also for Jack’s birthday party the next day. He was looking forward to it because the team was going to be coming to it. Aaron had already got the notice from Morgan that they might have to leave the party early. Still, they were not taking a case until they had at least seen Jack open his presents. Aaron loved that the team was still happy to be invited to things, even if Aaron had been distant over the past year while he and Jack rebuilt their lives.

Jack was still in therapy, talking as much as he could about what he was feeling and learning the way to cope that still broke Aaron’s heart to think about. No child that young should have to deal with that, but too many lost a parent in this world. Aaron hated that Jack was still in therapy, but he was more than willing to keep him there until he was better.

Aaron turned a corner and stopped when he saw a man standing in the middle of the aisle, body pressed close enough to the shelves that Aaron could get around. Still, it wasn’t that which made him stop. It was Spencer. His hair was short, shorter than Aaron had ever seen it, and styled to look messy. He was in a pair of nice slacks and a dress shirt with a vest on but no suit jacket. He looked good. That bit of lust that Aaron had carried for him flared, and Aaron was glad that he wasn’t a teenager or he would be sporting an erection. Spencer looked like he was reading the side of a cereal box. Aaron was pretty sure that he was actually staring off into space because it wouldn’t take him that long to read it.

Pushing his cart forward, Aaron started toward Spencer, ignoring the things in the aisle that he needed that he was passing. He could get that after he talked to Spencer. Aaron had no clue what kind of reaction he was going to get. While Aaron had texted Spencer a few times to check on him and his leg, Aaron had stopped, and he hadn’t picked it back up again. Spencer had texted a few times when Aaron hadn’t reached out and then stopped when Aaron sent short messages. Aaron was not handling the end of the budding relationship well at all, and instead of stepping up and telling Spencer that, he was just pushing him away. It wasn’t the best way to act, but Aaron was afraid of losing what good memories he had of it all. Dave called him a coward to his face the week before when Aaron had asked how Spencer really was doing with it all.

“Excuse me, can you hand me the Raisin Nut Bran?” Aaron asked.

“Sure,” Spencer answered and reached up to grab the box that Aaron wanted and was handing it over before he realized that it was Aaron there. “Hello, Hotch.”

“Hello, Spencer. I didn’t think that you came to this area of DC?”

“Morgan finally talked me into moving out of my apartment. He bought a smaller house, and we’ve been remodeling it to suit me. I wanted to get an idea of what’s around, and since I was here, I chose to pick up some cereal as I am nearly out at my apartment.”

“Ah, I see. Well, this store is pretty good. The people here are super nice.”

“Good to know.” Spencer set down the cereal in his hand and grabbed a box of Raisin Nut Bran. He just had a shopping basket at his feet. He set the box down into it. “Why are you shopping here?”

“I moved Jack and me out of the apartment. He wanted a yard, and his therapist thought that it might do him some good to have a little bit of something that he had before. It was easy to find a place that is just big enough for the two of us with a large yard.”

“I see.” Spencer leaned down and picked up the basket and turned to leave.

“Spencer, please wait,” Aaron said as he reached out. He stopped just short of actually touching Spencer as he knew that Spencer didn’t like that. They were not intimate enough anymore for it to be something that they did. “Can we talk, please?”

“What about?” Spencer asked. He did turn to look at Aaron, but his face was closed off.

“I’m sorry.” Aaron knew that it had to be the first words out of his mouth. He knew Spencer, and he knew him well enough to know the best way to get past Spencer’s high walls that he would no doubt have wrapped around him when it came to Aaron. There was so much that Aaron did wrong, and he knew that Spencer could have kept on messaging Aaron. Aaron knew though that Spencer’s childhood had stopped him from reaching out when no one else was reaching out as well. Spencer thought that everything that he wanted was going to get taken away from him. Aaron had been too inwardly focused and hadn’t even thought about that until after he had been to visit Spencer.

“For what?” Spencer asked.

“For nearly everything. I didn’t handle the fallout of Haley dying well at all. I pulled into myself and focused on Jack too much.”

“He’s your son, and he needed to be the sole focus of your attention.”

“But I focused too much on him and not enough on me. I pulled away from everyone except for Jessica. I have stayed at home and made sure that the house is perfect and that Jack has everything that he needs.” Aaron could see Spencer’s eyes were interested in what Aaron was saying, so he led with what he was pretty sure Dave hadn’t told Spencer. “I ended up in the hospital run down. I had lost nearly forty pounds and hadn’t realized it. I was so focused on him that I was running myself into the ground. I’ve hit a pretty good ground now, and I know that I am missing something, someone.”

“Ah. I see.” There was nothing on Spencer’s face that Aaron could figure out at all. He was so different than he had been when Aaron had last seen him. It was not hard to understand that things had happened to him. Aaron didn’t ask about cases. He missed work, and he missed what he did but not enough to go back. Jack was making huge strides on getting better, and Aaron didn’t want to push that back.

“Do you accept my apology?” Aaron asked.

“I do.” Spencer gave Aaron a small smile.

It was a victory. A short one, but it was still one.

“I’ll text you? Call?” Aaron asked.

“Sure. Sure. We just got back from a case, so we won’t go out to one for a few more days.”

“That’s good.” Aaron stepped back, giving Spencer room to move around without having to worry about Aaron grabbing him. Spencer, though, didn’t walk away quickly at all. He was looking at Aaron, assessing him before he set down his basket again. Aaron was shocked when Spencer stepped forward for a quick hug. Aaron kept the hug a little longer than Spencer probably wanted, inhaling the scent of him.

It was the strangest feeling in the world, wanting Spencer like he did. There had been a few echoes of it in the months after Aaron had ended what hadn’t even really started yet. After that, there had been nothing. No feeling of want, no feeling of missing something until he had seen Spencer standing there in the store. Now, Aaron felt just as much for Spencer has he had the moment that he had left Spencer behind.

“Hotch,” Spencer said.

“Aaron, please Spencer, Aaron,” Aaron asked.

“I can’t. Not yet. Aaron was my friend and possibly something more.” Spencer turned his face into Aaron’s neck and squeezed Aaron a little tighter.

“Sure.” Aaron smiled because it wasn’t never again. “I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

“Good. Because I have missed you, Hotch. I really have, as a friend and maybe more.” Spencer started to pull back, but Aaron cupped the back of his head to where Spencer couldn’t do more than step back enough to where their bodies weren’t pressed together.

“Thank you for giving me a chance.”

“You are welcome. I need to get going. I’m hungry.”

“We could go to lunch.” Aaron knew that Denise had no cares about when Aaron picked up Jack.

“No, thank you. Not today. I have other plans today.” Spencer gave Aaron a smile to show that he wasn’t upset about the offer.

“Okay. Then you go, and I’ll finish my shopping.”

Spencer nodded his head in agreement and then started to lean in for something. He stopped, so Aaron leaned in and kissed his cheek. Spencer kissed Aaron’s back. It was more than the hug, and way more than a handshake, but was less than a kiss on the lips would be. Aaron watched as Spencer grabbed his basket again and started down the aisle. Aaron watched him until Spencer was gone from sight before he turned around to get what he needed at the beginning of the aisle. Aaron hadn’t asked if he was coming with the rest of the team to Jack’s birthday party. Aaron would rather be upset when he didn’t show up than to be upset from now until then.

Aaron did the rest of his shopping and started for the register when he saw the aisle with greeting cards, and the balloons hanging above. He looked at his watch and the date that was there on it. “OH.”

A quick turn and Aaron was heading toward the candy aisle. There was a section of gourmet candy that Aaron had bought a few things for Jessica from, and he knew that they had Spencer’s favorite candy bar. Aaron grabbed three of them and tossed them into his cart. He made a mad dash to the checkout and bagged his own things before handing over the cash when the clerk was done.

Aaron left his bags in the cart and took it outside instead of carrying them all out, it would save time, and there were too many for him to do that with. He saw Spencer sitting in the Amazon in the parking lot with a book in his hand. It was probably just a little bit of time before he had to leave, or Spencer was too caught up in reading, which had happened more than once. Aaron walked over and settled his cart in by his newer SUV before he dug around to find the candy bars. They had fallen down in the bag.

A tap on Spencer’s window and Aaron regretted it as Spencer jump, and there was a thud as he hit something with a part of his body. Spencer looked to see that it was Aaron, so he motioned for Aaron to step back. Aaron did, and Spencer got out.

“Yes?” Spencer asked. He was blushing a little, probably at being caught reading in the car.

“It wasn’t until I was nearly done shopping that I realized what today is.”

“Hotch, please-” Spencer stopped when Aaron held up a finger.

“So, I got these.” Aaron held out the hand with the three chocolate bars in them. Spencer’s eyes widened in shock, and he reached out to take them. “Happy birthday, Spencer.”

“Thanks.” Spencer was blushing, and Aaron remembered how much he loved to make Spencer blush. He looked really good when he blushed like that. Aaron was glad he could still do it. “Everyone else forgot.”

“What?” Aaron asked.

“It’s still a little rough because we have gone through four agents to fill the hole in the team. Garcia is a mess as she’s not feeling very happy since you’ve been gone, and I don’t mean that in a way that I am trying to guilt-trip you. Everyone is walking on eggshells around her, and she’s the one that normally pushes that kind of thing. We just got back from a bad case last night. I really didn’t want to seem like I was feeling left out or something by asking about my birthday.”

“Who are you going to lunch with?” Aaron asked. He had assumed it was Morgan or JJ, though, given the way that it seemed on the team, Spencer wasn’t as close to them as he used to be. Aaron was a little upset about that because JJ and Spencer used to be close. Spencer and Morgan had got closer when Spencer stopped putting up with the way that Morgan treated him.

“A new friend that I made. He works at NCIS, and we’ve bumped into each other a few times at the Academy since they are based out of there now. We like talking about movies.”

“Ah, Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, I remember him from the last time that Gibbs and I got into a pissing match just before you joined the team. I won by the way.”

Spencer laughed. He turned and laid the chocolate inside of the car on the passenger seat where there was a book sitting with the cover closed. It looked like a spy novel. Aaron couldn’t see the name of the author as the chocolate covered it up.

“What are you reading?” Aaron asked.

“Nothing.” Spencer stepped over to block Aaron’s line of sight of the book.

Aaron gave Spencer a smile that he hoped said to Spencer that it was dropped for how but not for long.

“I’ll let you go. I just wanted to give you that after I realized that it was your birthday. Have a good lunch, Spencer.” Aaron wanted to kiss Spencer’s cheek again, but he refrained.

“Have a good afternoon, Hotch,” Spencer said back. He gave Aaron one of his awkward waves and then started to get into his car. He flipped the book to where it wasn’t visible at all and started up the Amazon. It purred like it always had before, showing that Spencer kept it in top condition.

Aaron watched him drive off before he made it back to his car to put his groceries up. He was glad that his cold things were all in thermal bags to keep them cold, or he would have melted ice cream on his hands. He felt lighter than he had in a long time, and he knew that he was making the right choice for himself and for Jack in the long run.

Chapter 2

Aaron heard the laughter of Jack as he played with a few of the kids from the neighborhood. He had the chicken nearly ready to go for the grill, and all of the rest of the sides were already prepared and either in crock pots or in the fridge. He had borrowed three crock pots from people on the street as he only had one and needed more than that.

“Need any help?” Spencer asked.

Aaron turned around to see Spencer leaning in the doorway from the living room. He was dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater that looked really soft to touch. Aaron would have to find out if it felt as good as it looked.

“I could use some hands holding the pan still. It’s cold enough that’s it sweating and trying to play slip and slide on the counter.”

“Sure.” Spencer pushed off the jamb and walked over to Aaron.

“When did you slip inside?”

“I got here about ten minutes ago. Rossi let me in the side gate, and I was talking to Jack before coming to find you. The chocolate was very good with my leftover Chinese food in the fridge. I even saved half of the first bar for later and put the other two up in a safe place.”

“And is that safe place going to get forgotten like it does with almost everyone else?” Aaron asked as Spencer gripped the sides of the bowl and held it in place for Aaron to get the rest of the chicken out of. Aaron was looking forward to manning the grill for the last time. It was a warm spell outside, which was good, but Aaron would get the grill put up for the year after he cleaned it. There was a spot in the garage just for it.

“No. I have a lot of things in there. I won’t forget about it. I promise.” Spencer got a little closer to Aaron so that Aaron wasn’t bumping his arm on Spencer’s as he got the last two pieces of chicken out. The recipe was for Cornell barbecue chicken. It was one of Jack’s favorites. “Is that the chicken I love?”

“Yes,” Aaron said. He had been planning on doing just plain barbecue chicken, but he had hoped that Spencer would come and so he made the kind of chicken that Spencer loved as well as Jack. It was a win/win situation for all of them.

“You don’t have to spoil me, Hotch.”

“No, I do. You used to spoil me all of the time. It’s also Jack’s favorite chicken. I picked up everything needed for it yesterday, so I chose to make it. Did anyone wish you a happy birthday yesterday?” Aaron grabbed the small container of the marinade from the place he had set it on the counter from the first batch of the marinade and added some of the second batch to it.

“You were having a really rough time, Hotch, and I wanted to make sure that you knew that you were appreciated and that I enjoy my time with you.” Spencer smiled at him and picked up the basting brush. He walked over to the door and opened it for Aaron.

Aaron let him dodge the question that he asked. It wasn’t that strange for him to do it, especially with others around them. Aaron wasn’t going to force him to do something that he didn’t want to do. Spencer would talked about it when he was ready to do so. While Aaron wanted to actually do something to help, he couldn’t force it at the moment. That Spencer was even, there was enough for him.

“There he is!” Morgan said as Aaron walked through the door.

“Back away from the grill,” Aaron said

Morgan stepped back with his hands raised. “Pretty boy, where did you run off to? Did you forget something at home?”

“Went to help Hotch with food. Someone has to do something besides eating all of the food.” Spencer settled what he had down onto the grill and lifted the lid so that Aaron could lay down the chicken as soon as he set it down and then had the tongs in hand to drop the chicken on the grill.

It sizzled, and the smell started. It made Aaron’s stomach rumble. Spencer laughed and walked away and came back before Aaron had the chicken all laid out on the grill. He had a plate with some nibbles in his hand. Aaron reached over and grabbed a few carrots off of the plate and popped one into his mouth as he checked the flame to make sure it wasn’t too high before he closed the lid after laying down all of the chicken.

“So, what did you do yesterday?” Morgan asked as he looked at Spencer.

“Did a little looking around the new area to figure out the places that I want to go to. Then I went out to lunch with a friend of mine, and after that, we went to the movies and watched two back to back black and white films. I had a lot of fun.”

“Good, good. You needed it. I didn’t realize that your house was so close to Hotch’s new house until I pulled up here.”

Aaron wondered exactly how close it was. Spencer had to know the exact distance but that still meant little in the area they were in.

“Spencer!” Jack called out as he came around to hug Spencer around the legs. “I missed you!”

“I was gone for only a few minutes, Jack,” Spencer said with a laugh in his voice.

Aaron listened to Jack tell Spencer about everything that he wanted to do at the park. As well as how he couldn’t wait to open his presents but first they had to eat and then they were going to do cake after presents. It was a long monologue that made Aaron smile. Jack hadn’t missed Spencer all that much, or so Aaron had thought. It hadn’t been that long that Aaron had brought Spencer around Jack before he had gone into WitSec with Haley. Still, it seemed that Aaron was wrong that Jack did indeed miss him. The only remaining question was if Spencer hadn’t fully changed his mind now that Aaron was a single father. Spencer had started to get a lot better with kids after Henry had been born, and Aaron had forced him to spend time with Jack so he would stop being so afraid of saying the wrong thing.

Feeling eyes on him, Aaron looked around to see that JJ was looking at Aaron, or at least mostly at Aaron. Aaron had no clue what Spencer had told her or Morgan about the true fallout of Aaron leaving the team. She wasn’t looking at him like she hated him, so that was a win. Aaron wondered though why she was watching him. A hand on his shoulder drew Aaron out of his thoughts. He opened the lid on the grill before looking at the owner of the hand. It was Spencer, and he had a bottle of beer in his hand. He tipped it toward Aaron in an offer.

“Thanks,” Aaron said, and he waved his hand to the nearly empty plate. Aaron hadn’t realized that he had eaten so much while looking around. He started to flip the chicken and then basted the other side.

“You are welcome. It’s a pretty good microbrew. Morgan found it at a local pub, and they bottle it and sell at a grocery store not far from the pub.” Spencer lifted up a second one and held out the bottle for Aaron to clink his off of it. “The house is lovely, and I can see why Jack loves the backyard. It’s huge and more than enough for him to play soccer in. He still likes it, right?”

“Yes,” Aaron said as he watched Spencer’s face fill with worry. Aaron wondered what kind of present Spencer got Jack that he was worried enough to have that look on his face.

“Good. While he’s not really going to get to enjoy his present until March, there are a few things he can enjoy the rest of the month.” Spencer turned his head as someone yelled out at him. It was a kid. So Spencer broke away from Aaron and walked over to where the kids were all working on a cabin with the toy logs that Aaron had set out on top of the sandpit that Jack had in the backyard. It was a flat lid so that Jack had a good surface area to work with things like that.

“Is that what I think it is?” Dave asked as he took Spencer’s place at the grill.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Aaron wasn’t sure which part he was talking about, so faking it seemed like the best idea.

“He’s had that look on his face when it comes to you before Haley was killed. He looked happy for the first time in a long time.”

“Yes, then you think it is what it is. I saw him yesterday and finally took the advice of my therapist about making myself happy while I am making Jack happy.”

“You know, he’s one of the most forgiving men, but I don’t think that he’ll take you stepping back from him again and allow you back in, Aaron.” Dave sounded like he was a concerned uncle, and he wondered when that had happened. Had he stepped in to help Spencer in the absence of Aaron?

“I know. I’ll not break his heart this time. So who are you eyeing for the open spot on the team?”

“Anderson.”

“Anderson?” Aaron asked. He looked at Dave before he took a sip of the beer. It really was a good brand. Aaron would make sure to write down the name and keep it stocked in his fridge. Morgan had brought beer, but this was not Morgan’s kind, and so that meant Morgan either brought it for Spencer or Spencer had brought it for himself.

“He’s been helping us a lot in office when he can, and he’s got a degree in media like JJ does. I figure that she can train him on it, and that way, if she’s out again with a pregnancy, we can get a temporary agent to fill his spot, and he can take hers. He can also help her in the field while also helping us. He’s taken like a duckling to Reid.”

“Really?” Aaron asked. He knew that Anderson and Spencer had got along before all of this. There were trivia nights with the two of them as well as Gina. Aaron was just shocked that Spencer was mentoring someone already. He had been there the second-longest on the team at the moment. JJ and Garcia had come after him, and Prentiss was much later. Dave’s stint this time was shorter, and even he agreed that it was a new place when he had arrived. Morgan was the longest of those currently on the team. When laid out like that, Aaron wasn’t shocked, but he still kind of was. It wasn’t something that Spencer had ever seemed that interested in doing. “I think he’ll be a good fit.”

“He can’t do worse than our last. He didn’t even make it an entire case before he threw up on Reid.”

“Oh, God, that could not have gone over well at all.”

“Well, Reid is the one that told him that he would shoot him if he threw up on the scene before they entered the house. Reid was outside talking to the LEO, who was securing the scene. The new agent came running out and threw up on Reid’s favorite pair of Converse.”

“Oh, damn.”

“Yeah, I found them and ordered a new pair and made the agent pay for them before he left. It was a little bit of chaos, and I still think that Reid wants to punch the kid, but he won’t.”

“Spencer doesn’t like his things being ruined, especially by puke.”

Dave laughed, and the topic turned to other things.

The food was ready in no time, and it was the work of a few minutes to get the chicken inside and into a crockpot to keep it warm. Spencer waited at the back of the line for Aaron to get ready to start his way through the food. Morgan had Jack at the front, getting plates for both of them. Jessica looked a little put-out, but she easily found another kid to help. It wasn’t long before everyone was outside with drinks, scattered around the picnic tables that were set up. Usually, it was one long row of them; they had come with the house, but Aaron had moved them so more could fit around each with added chairs at either end. It allowed everyone who was there to get a place to sit, and only two had to sit with plates in laps. Aaron looked around to see who the odd man out was to see that Spencer was sitting on Aaron’s lounger. Aaron loved to lay in it and read on the days it was just warm enough outside without being too hot. Spencer wasn’t sitting there right there; he was sitting face the side, not the front. There was just enough room for Aaron to sit beside him. Aaron walked over and sat down beside him, setting his beer on the ground and holding it with his feet.

“Good?” Aaron asked as Spencer chewed on a huge bit of chicken that he had taken. Spencer smiled and nodded his head while chewing.

“Good. Good. I’m glad. I think I’ll have enough for another meal tomorrow. If you don’t get called out on a case, that is. Do you want to come over to dinner with Jack and me?” Aaron asked.

Spencer swallowed what was in his mouth and washed it down with a swig of his beer. There was another two sitting on the table that was beside Aaron’s chair. “Don’t you think we should wait a few days?”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.” Spencer was looking over at the table closest to them, but no one was paying them a bit of attention. “I guess there isn’t a reason.”

“Besides, Jack and I need help picking out our costumes for trick or treat, and you are the best at everything Halloween.”

“I do like helping to pick out costumes,” Spencer said. He nodded his head in agreement. The talk turned to less stressful topics, and they joined into the discussion happening at the table with Morgan and Prentiss.

Aaron watched as everyone had fun. Even the kids that were eating on the ground on a blanket that Aaron had laid over to help keep them warmer given the chill the ground had. Food was eaten fast as if the adults were just as excited for the kids about presents and then cake.

“Spencer, come sit by me!” Jack called out as he patted the bench where all of the presents were piled on a picnic table.

“Oh, no, Jack, You don’t need me.”

“But we gotta share since yesterday was your birthday.”

Aaron felt the change in the emotion around the area. The adults with Jack’s friends laughed at the boy who wanted to share. Though now Aaron understood why Jack had wanted to cakes, one chocolate, and one vanilla. They were both small and worked out to the same price as a large sheet cake. One was covered in superheroes, and the other Halloween themed. Aaron had assumed Jack couldn’t decide which one he wanted.

Spencer stood up and walked over to sit by Jack, facing the boy and not anyone else. With him the center of attention like that, Aaron hoped that no one on the team made a fuss about it all. This was not the time or the place. The only time that Spencer looked at anyone but Jack, he looked at Aaron. Aaron knew that he was being profiled while Spencer tried to figure out if Aaron had put Jack up to that. Aaron would love to take the blame as it was the best thing in the world to him. He wasn’t shocked that Jack remembered that Spencer’s birthday was one day before his. He was shocked that Jack had brought it up, though, so loudly, especially.

Jack picked up a small present and shook it. He made a face and then opened up the tag and looked at Spencer. Whatever was in, there must not have made a lot of noise, if any at all. Jack opened the paper and let it fall to the pile that was on the ground. The box inside looked like a jewelry box of some kind, so Jack lifted the lid and let it fall to the ground. Morgan let out a laugh, but Jack didn’t look at him. Jack looked up at Spencer in shock before he showed the empty box in his hand.

“It’s empty.”

“Is it? Or are you looking in the wrong part?”

Jack turned the box upside down and frowned before he looked at Spencer again. Spencer, though, just looked down at the box lid where Aaron could see something of color inside of it.

“Tickets?” Jack asked after he picked it up.

“Yup, two tickets each to the last two games of the year for DC United.”

“Oh, cool.” Jack laid the box down and wrapped his arms around Spencer in a hug.

“They are dead center front row,” Spencer said.

“Oh!” Jack hugged Spencer again.

Jack kept the tickets close to him as he unwrapped the rest of the presents. Jack stuck close to Spencer the rest of the evening, unintentionally not giving the team a chance to talk to him alone. JJ was the first to slip away, taking Henry with her when the boy started to get sleepy. Everyone else filed out after them. Morgan was the last hold out.

“Hey, Jack,” Spencer called out when Jack was done helping put up the folding chairs. Jack came running over to him. Spencer reached into his pocket and pulled out three lanyards. “You think your dad will keep these in his safe in his office until we need them in March?”

“March?” Jack took hold of one of them and looked at it. “Season? What are season tickets?”

“Well, that means you can go to every single DC United game that they play here at home.”

“Oh, really?” Jack asked.

“Yes. This is the last of your presents, but I didn’t want to give it in front of everyone else.”

“Why?”

“Well, these are a little pricey, but it’s not the price of presents that matters, but sometimes people put too much emphasis on them. I didn’t want anyone to feel bad.”

“Why three of them?”

“Well, you need your dad, don’t you and I hoped you wouldn’t mind me going when I could.”

“Yes, yes.” Jack wrapped his arms around Spencer for another hug before grabbing the three lanyards and rushing over to where Aaron was standing with Morgan. “DAD!” Jack jumped, and Aaron barely caught him.

Aaron raised up Jack to where the boy could show him the season tickets to the next year of DC United. Aaron had been looking into that, and he had been told they were not on sale yet. Spencer must have pulled some strings on that. “That a pretty cool present, Jack.”

“Yeah. It’ll be fun to go with Spencer to games.”

“Hey, Reid,” Morgan said as he stepped closer to where Spencer was walking toward them.

“Not now.”

“Hey, we just wanted to take you for a meal. We know that we messed up, and we wanted to take you out to dinner tomorrow.”

“I have a date tomorrow.”

Morgan looked shocked. “Who with?”

At least Morgan didn’t sound all that upset or shocked, he sounded concerned. Spencer looked at Aaron for a brief second before he looked at Morgan. Aaron moved around to where Spencer could see him again, and Aaron nodded his agreement to Spencer outing Aaron as the date.

“I don’t have to tell you that.”

“No, you don’t have to. You’ve been pushing me away on going on double dates with you if you found someone. You went to that speed dating thing and hated it. I assumed you were not into dating at all.”

“Things changed,” Spencer said.

“I can see that. Just get in contact with me or JJ on when you get a night free to go out for a meal.” Morgan reached out to shake Spencer’s hand, but Jack came running up between them and wrapped his arms around Spencer’s legs and tipped his head up to look at him.

“Will you stay over so we can watch that movie you were talking about?” Jack asked.

“How about I come over tomorrow, and we can watch it before your dad makes dinner?” Spencer asked. He didn’t look away from Jack’s face as it dawned on Morgan what Spencer had just said.

Morgan’s head whipped around to look at Aaron. Aaron could see it all dawning on Morgan just why Spencer hadn’t been interested in dating, and now he was.

“I see. I’ll go ahead and leave and let you three have a good evening,” Morgan said. He leaned in and gave Spencer a half hug before he walked away.

Aaron had seen Jessica leave a little while before in the middle of everything.

“Was that okay?” Spencer asked.

“Of course, of course. I would have stopped you after Jack started to talk instead of letting you go on.”

“Good.” Spencer blushed a little and looked down at Jack again with a smile on his face.

Chapter 3

Aaron wiped his hands on the paper towel he had beside him after the doorbell rang. Jack’s footsteps were heard as he ran toward the door. Aaron wasn’t worried that Jack would get the door open, the knob was a little hard for him, but also Aaron had the deadbolt on. It was always on when they were in the house. He threw the paper towel away as he walked to meet Jack at the door. He checked the window to see that it was Spencer. He threw open the deadbolt and opened the door.

“Hello,” Aaron said.

“Good evening,” Spencer said.

“Hey, Spencer,” Jack said, and he wrapped his arms around Spencer’s legs to give him a hug. Jack pulled back and looked up at the bottle that was in Spencer’s hand. “What’s that?”

“This is a dessert wine. It’s for your dad and me.”

“If you are good, I might let you take a sip before you go to bed,” Aaron said. He held out his hand for the wine. Spencer handed it over. It was already chilled, so Aaron turned to start to head into the kitchen to put it up. It would go well with the actual dessert that Aaron had planned.

“Okay. Did you bring the movie?” Jack asked as he looked back at Spencer.

Aaron hadn’t seen Jack enamored with someone like he was with Spencer. Spencer was still a little put off by kids, and Aaron could see it in the way that Spencer acted around Jack. He was always so careful. Aaron watched as Jack pulled Spencer after him into the living room. It reminded Aaron what he thought back when he had first allowed himself to admit that he was attracted to Spencer. Not just him as a male and wanting sex with him but his mind and his feelings. Aaron wanted all of him, and he could trust all of himself with Spencer. He could trust Spencer with Jack, and that was the main sticking point for Spencer.

“Do you need help?” Spencer asked before he allowed Jack to push him down onto the couch.

“No. I’m getting food warmed up. It’s all leftovers. Enjoy a little time with Jack. We will eat in the living room.”

“Sure.”

Aaron walked back to the kitchen and smiled at the plates he had bought at the store with Jack’s help for dinner that night. They were plastic trays that looked like a fancy version of school lunch trays. It would be perfect for living room eating. He had a purple one with a mix of dots and smears of black paint all over it. It would be Spencer’s tray. There was a pink one with clouds all over it for Jessica. Aaron’s had superheroes all over it, and Jack’s was soccer balls. There were a few other random ones in the cabinet in case other people came over and more than enough for Aaron to fed Jack and his friends that ate at his house. It would make living room eating so much better for kids who wanted to watch TV as well.

The sounds of the trailers before the movie started up just as Aaron was getting the food plated up. He knew roughly how much Spencer used to eat, so he put that much on there. A bit was leftover just in case anyone wanted more, but Aaron did have dessert. The cakes had been demolished, but Aaron had made a cinnamon coffee cake because he knew that Spencer loved them.

“DAD! HURRY!” Jack yelled from the living room. The sound of the trailers paused.

Aaron grabbed his and Spencer’s plates and started for the living room. He nearly bumped into Spencer. “Hey.”

“Sorry. I was coming to help grab the plates. Two hands, three plates, not the best ratio there.”

“No, it’s not. Jack’s is in the kitchen.” Aaron waved his head back that way.

Spencer sidestepped Aaron and disappeared into the kitchen. Aaron had already laid out the tea on the coffee table for them to drink. Spencer, it seemed, had poured out three glasses already. Aaron was glad that Spencer felt like he could do that. He didn’t seem nearly as out of place as he had the first time that he had been in Aaron’s old apartment for a meal. Aaron wasn’t sure if it had just been how he felt about being around Jack, or the whole new budding relationship. Still seeing him so happy, as he was, was significant to Aaron.

“So, what is this movie about?” Aaron asked.

“Imagination,” Spencer said with a smile on his face. He reached over and picked up the remote before he took his plate from Aaron and sat down in the middle of the couch. It seemed that Jack had taken the corner, leaving Aaron to sit down in the other corner. Aaron was happy about that. Jack was usually one who wanted to be beside Aaron. Even when Jessica was over, Jack was sitting beside Aaron or had Aaron sit in the middle. It was good that Jack liked and trusted Spencer enough to not sit beside Aaron.

Spencer did not go back for seconds of anything, but Jack had wanted more baked beans, so Spencer had willing grabbed more for him. Spencer came back with a cup of coffee in one hand. Aaron kept the grin on his face to himself with that. He had made the pot just for Spencer and put it into the carafe. He could see in his mind Spencer picking it up and testing the weight before making himself a cup of coffee while the beans were warmed up in the microwave.

Jack fell asleep three-fourths of the way through the movie, and Aaron turned it off to save it to finish the next time that Spencer was over for the night.

“Oh, we never opened the wine,” Spencer said as Aaron carried Jack to the stairs to take him upstairs.

“I planned to have it with dessert since you did buy a dessert wine. Do you want to get it open and grab dessert from the fridge? I’ll join you in the kitchen as soon as I get Jack down into bed.”

“Sure.” Spencer got up from the couch and walked toward the kitchen.

When Aaron came back down, Spencer wasn’t in the living room, so Aaron walked to the kitchen. He stopped at the sight that he saw. Spencer was sitting on the counter with Aaron’s kitchen reading book in hand. The wine was already poured out, healthy servings into each glass, and the bottle was nowhere to be seen. The dessert wasn’t out either, but there were two bowls of it already served. There was a bit of white on Spencer’s upper lip like he hadn’t gotten all of it off his mouth when he had tried it. He looked so at ease in Aaron’s space. He must have been sitting on the counter when he noticed the book. It lived on top of the fridge, so it was out of the way of everything else but there when Aaron needed it when he was cooking. It was an old book that Aaron had read before.

As if Spencer realized that he was being stared at, he looked up right into Aaron’s eyes. There was no shame at getting caught reading. “I got the food and wine ready and then saw the book. I guess I got a little distracted.”

“Distracted is fine.” Aaron walked up to Spencer before he could slip off of the counter and trapped him there. “Thank you for taking another chance on me.”

“You had a lot going on, and you always get a very narrow focus when more than one thing is tugging at you.”

“You still waited. No one else would have.” Aaron laid his hands on either side of Spencer’s thighs as Spencer closed the book and settled it back on top of the fridge. He reached out and brushed a thumb over Aaron’s cheek.

“I didn’t do it on purpose, not really.”

“What do you mean?” Aaron asked.

“I spite dated, or at least that is what JJ called it. I found the first guy that I thought I could forget you with, and I went on a date with him. I fully intended to go home with him that evening, but even as kissed, all I could think was that he wasn’t kissing me like you did. That’s why I told Morgan no more setups, no more anything.”

“Is that the guy you went on a speed date with?”

“No. That ended horribly because most of the other guys there were just looking for a hookup. It was a group of people who identified as bisexual, so it wasn’t just men that were doing the seat to seat hop. I really hated it.”

“Speed dating does kind of suck.” Aaron took a step closer to Spencer before he moved his hands inward a little more to where his thumbs were brushing the edge of Spencer’s pants on his thigh.

“You’ve done speed dating?” Spencer asked. His fingers were brushing over Aaron’s pulse point on his neck, and Aaron was pretty sure that Spencer didn’t notice that he was doing it.

“No, but I’ve heard enough about it. Spencer?” Aaron asked.

“Yes?” Spencer wasn’t quite looking Aaron in the eye, he was lost in thought.

“Will you kiss me?”

That brought Spencer’s eyes to focus on Aaron.

“Aaron,” Spencer said, but he didn’t move in at all.

Aaron could see the hesitance in his eyes. Aaron hated that he put it there, but the only way to get rid of it was to push forward. To be the person that Spencer had wanted to be with the first time, just a little more damaged.

“Please?”

“After dessert,” Spencer said. There was want in his eyes, and Aaron knew that he wasn’t saying no just because he could. He wanted to say yes, but something was stopping him.

“Sure.”

“Take the wine in, and I’ll follow after with the bowls.” Spencer waited until Aaron stepped back to slide off of the counter. He grabbed the desserts but made his way over to the coffee pot and refreshed the cup that was there.

Aaron chuckled to himself as he grabbed the two glasses of wine to walk to the living room. Aaron wasn’t sure where he wanted to sit. He would prefer to be closer to where Spencer was, but he wasn’t going to push that. He settled into the corner of the couch, giving Spencer the space to settle in at the other corner or in the middle.

Spencer walked into the room, carrying one bowl in one hand, but in the other was the coffee cup with the bowl on top of it.

“I could have come back in and helped,” Aaron said as he stood up to grab the bowl that was on the coffee cup. He settled down on the couch with the bowl and waited to see if Spencer sat beside him or not. Spencer did, but he sat facing Aaron instead of beside him.

“What is this?”

“It’s called Oh-So-Good. Haley used to make it for Jack. He loves it, but I don’t make it often as it’s really rich.”

Spencer hummed as he tried a bite of it. His eyes were shining in happiness. He nearly inhaled what he had with a few sips of coffee here and there. Aaron ate his at a slower pace but made sure that he wasn’t done too long after Spencer or it would get stolen. Spencer savored his coffee for a few seconds like Aaron finished his dessert before they both swapped to the wine.

“This is a good wine,” Aaron said as he finished off his first drink of it.

“I like it.”

“We need to talk.”

“No, I don’t think that we do. We’ve said all that needs to be said. We don’t need to keep beating a dead horse.”

“Spencer,” Aaron started, but he stopped when Spencer shook his head.

“There is no talking that can get rid of the fear that I have that you are going to leave again. The only thing that is going to stop that is you sticking around. Morgan isn’t happy with this, but I can’t live my life for him. I can’t stay away from you on the chance that you might leave me again. I’d die years from now regretting it. So please. You don’t have to apologize or make up for anything. The past is in the past, and we both need to move on.”

“Okay,” Aaron said. He didn’t like it that much, but he agreed with everything that Spencer said and understood where he was coming from. Aaron reached out and touched Spencer’s cheek with the tips of his fingers. He remembered what Spencer tasted like before. They had never progressed further than stolen kissed while Jack was engaged in other things or when Aaron was dropping Spencer off after a case.

Spencer closed his eyes when Aaron let his fingers drop down to his neck and rub. Aaron pushed his hand back and wrapped his fingers around the back of Spencer’s neck and drew him forward. Spencer moved willingly and came close. Just as Aaron was about to stop tugging on him, Spencer kept on coming, straddling Aaron’s lap while holding his wine glass to the side.

“We shouldn’t be doing this,” Aaron said. He didn’t want to stop, but he wanted Spencer to know that he knew they were moving faster than they really should with the gap of a year in the relationship.

“Are you going to respect me in the morning?” Spencer asked. He reached over and set his wine glass down beside Aaron’s. “Will you hate yourself in the morning?”

“Yes and no,” Aaron said in answer to both questions.

“Then there is no reason for us to not have we want. Why not give us both what we want?” Spencer didn’t even give Aaron times to answer before he was pressing his lips to Aaron’s.

Aaron cupped the back of Spencer’s head better and tilted their heads to where they had better access to each other’s mouths. The taste of Spencer was nearly the same, coffee and sweets and chocolate, but the tang of the wine was there as well. It was just fucking perfect to Aaron. Spencer’s hands moved, wrapping around Aaron’s throat and his thumbs tracing up and down the column of his throat. Aaron was hesitant to touch more, but Spencer’s hands were touching more and more, so Aaron was pushed to touch just as much.

Settling his hands on Spencer’s thighs, Aaron let himself feel the warmth of Spencer’s body. His pants were soft and made Aaron want to touch more. He rubbed his hands down to Spencer’s knees before he trailed them up to his hips. He found where Spencer’s shirt was tucked into his pants and pulled it free before finally touching skin.

Spencer moaned and arched up as Aaron’s hands settled on his lower back. Aaron tipped his head back so that the kiss didn’t break, and it was good. Spencer’s body was warm, and his skin so soft.

“Should we move elsewhere?” Spencer asked. He was panting as he settled down into Aaron’s lap, which gave Aaron more range to get his hands up Spencer’s back more.

“I don’t know.”

“Okay.” Spencer grabbed his wine and took a healthy drink of it.

Aaron did the same as he thought about if he wanted to go up with Spencer to his bedroom. They drained their wine at nearly at the same time, and Aaron had worked through the reasons why not in his head but also the reasons why it wasn’t a big deal. They were both adults, and before the break-up, they had been moving closer to this.

“Yes,” Aaron said, and the smile that he got from Spencer was magnificent. It changed his face, made him more beautiful to Aaron, and the fact that Aaron had been the one to put that look on his face made Aaron feel like he could do anything in the world.

“Then let’s go,” Spencer said as he slipped backward off of Aaron’s lap and stood up with a grace that Aaron wasn’t sure he thought Spencer could ever possess. Spencer held out his hand, and Aaron took it with a grin. Doubt wasn’t ever going to win in Aaron’s life, and he needed to make sure of that.

Chapter 4

“So, why are we here?” Morgan asked from just on the other side of the door that Aaron was standing behind. He gripped the neck of his guitar and wondered how in the hell Morgan had found this place.

“Because they are one of the few places in DC that I actually like to go to,” Spencer said.

“We’ve all picked recently, and it’s Reid’s turn,” Dave said, sounding like he was the only adult in the group.

“I figured that Reid would leave us for the mystery boyfriend,” Prentiss said, and her tone was off, even to Aaron.

“He had other plans,” Spencer said.

Aaron knew that there was no backing out, even if this ruined his evening plans with Spencer. He had a small group of people who came to listen to him play guitar and sing. It wasn’t a thing that he did often, but when he did, it was announced to the regulars of the small coffee shop. Aaron had chosen it for his debut of sorts. After listening to a lot of people who played music for fun in there. After Jack was asleep, Aaron would slip out when he needed out of the house after leaving the BAU. There were never people in the shop that were trying to be found, it was stress relief after a hard week or just a horrible time. It was where they could be themselves.

The songs had been picked already, and while Aaron could change them, he didn’t want to. Even if the person the songs were centered around was in the audience. He hadn’t even realized that Spencer came to the coffee shop. Everything had been simple between them since starting a relationship in October. Thanksgiving and even Christmas had passed with no issues. Morgan and Dave were the only ones who knew about him and Spencer, Dave being Aaron’s confidant in it and Morgan being Spencer’s. Morgan had gone on a double date with them, and while Morgan’s hadn’t gone past that, he had been happy at how happy being with Aaron made Spencer.

Spencer’s voice moved away from the door, so Aaron slipped out, finding the hostess of the place. It usually wasn’t a big issue for people to find spots and stay in them. Still, on crowded nights, a firm hand was needed to make sure that a party of two didn’t take over a table for six just because they wanted space.

“Hannah, dear,” Aaron said as he stepped over to her. “Where is that party of seven going?”

“I was going to give them the table in the corner kind of behind the stage.”

“What about the table that the drunk ladies end up at?”

“Well…” Hannah looked unsure.

“My lover is in that group, and I would like to be able to at least serenade him once,” Aaron said, turning on the charm. “The drunk ladies won’t care where they are once they are onto their second glass of wine.”

“You smooth talker you. I’ll move them. If you are surprising your young man, I would bust your butt to get behind stage before I bring them over.” Hannah reached out and pinched Aaron’s cheek. Even though she was very much not anywhere near old enough to get his grandmother. She was barely old enough to be his mother.

Aaron slipped behind the stage and around to the side the team was sitting at.

“I’m sorry, but it seems that a small issue came up, and the wrong table was reserved for a party. I have you a new one right over here,” Hannah said.

“Sure,” Morgan said, and there was the sound of scraping chairs on the hardwood floor.

Aaron couldn’t hear them now that they were a little further away from the stage, right in the middle of the seating area. Aaron walked over to the seat that he sat in to warm up his fingers before the evening started. He was nervous in a way that he hadn’t been since he has started to do this. No one had ever been to one of his showings that he knew. Not only was Spencer out there but the rest of the team, the family that he had made himself.

“You ready?” the lighting man asked.

Aaron could never remember his name. “Yes.”

“What set up?”

“Blackout start,” Aaron said as he stood up and moved to where the seat was for the stage. The curtains had been pulled while he had been warming himself up. He inhaled and exhaled, and he nodded at the lighting man. The whole room went dark, even the part that Aaron couldn’t see. He heard the movement of the curtain and waited for it to stop before he played the first chord on his guitar.

Thirty-seven seconds into the song, the light directly above and in front of Aaron came on, the room gasped, but Aaron ignored them. He worked through the entire song before he looked up. Spencer was the only one that didn’t look shocked. Aaron knew that Spencer had seen the guitars that Aaron had around the house. Aaron had never played for Spencer. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to, but he hadn’t been ready to share that with Spencer.

Terra met Aaron at the back of the stage when he was done, she had a glass of wine in one hand and her steel guitar in the other, getting ready for her set.

“You made quite a few panties out there very wet there at the end like you always do and at least one cock hard,” Terra said.

“Really?” Aaron asked. That was the first time that she had said that. Aaron took a sip of the wine. It was his favorite vintage. “Who bought this for me?”

“The young man who your playing made his cock hard. You have a fan in him.”

Aaron stopped with the wine almost to his lips. He quirked an eyebrow at her.

“I took it from the bartender, and he never touched it.” Terra had taken Aaron’s hesitance for the wrong thing. Aaron knew that she would never take a drink from someone, and the bartender that worked the non-coffee area never gave over drinks if they knew they were from someone. There were strict rules in play at the coffee shop. It was part of what had drawn Aaron to it in the beginning.

“Talk and thin? Start of a scratchy beard on his chin and jaw?” Aaron asked. Terra nodded. “That would be my boyfriend.”

“And he’s never heard you play before?” Terra looked shocked at that.

“I was working up to it, and then he and my former team came here today before I could do it. I didn’t want to back out and ruin anything for my few fans.” Aaron waved his glass at Terra before walking to settle his guitar into his case before leaving it there. It was time to face the music.

“And it’s not like you use a different name here. They would announce that you weren’t doing it, and then they would all be upset.”

“Exactly. So I’m going to head out there to face the music. If I don’t make it back for my guitar…” Aaron trailed off.

“I’ll store it up for you. Don’t worry, I’ve got you there.” Terra gave Aaron a quick smile before she started to get ready for her set.

Aaron walked around to the side door that let him out into the central area of the shop right by the bar. He watched the team for a minute as he sipped at his wine. Spencer was smiling, and Aaron was glad of that because he really didn’t want Spencer to think that he was hiding it from him. The music was personal. It was something that he had never shared with anyone besides Haley and Jack. His family didn’t know at all and hiding his guitar from his father, so it wouldn’t be damaged in one of his rages had been hard when Aaron had been a teenager.

“Top off?” Deke asked as he held out the bottle of Aaron’s favorite wine.

“I didn’t bring any cash out with me,” Aaron said. He didn’t tend to drink more than the one free glass of wine before the show to settle his nerves that was part of the lure of playing.

“Your fan out there paid for three glasses, Aaron. Said it was normally what you drank.”

“And I won’t be able to drive after that.” Aaron was about to look at Spencer, but the younger man near appeared right there.

“And I drove with Morgan, so I’m more than willing to drive you home.”

“Hey,” Deke started, drawing Spencer’s attention to him. He looked like he was turning into the hard ass that threw people out.

“Deke,” Aaron said. He laid a hand on Spencer’s shoulder to draw Spencer’s face back to him.

“Ah, parents were hockey fans?” Spencer asked.

Deke laughed and shook his head. “I see. So not a fanboy, well not the normal type of fanboy.”

“No,” Aaron said. He rubbed at Spencer’s shoulder a little before looking at Deke again. “Deke, this is my partner Spencer. Doctor Spencer Reid, this is Deke Johnson. He makes sure that no one gets too drunk or wrecks anything.”

“This is a lovely space. I usually only stop and get coffee in the morning, but I saw the live music announcement the other day and dragged the team here for it instead of a bar or a club.” Spencer looked at Aaron’s hand on his shoulder and gave him a wicked grin when he looked back into Aaron’s eyes.

Aaron grinned back and trailed his hand across Spencer’s back and then down his spine before resting it on his lower back. If the team was looking, they would see it and that Aaron’s fingers were a little lower than what was considered polite in a place like this.

“There are no extra chairs,” Spencer said.

Deke filled up Aaron’s wine glass when he held it out and handed over a bottle of water. Every glass of alcohol bought got someone a free bottle of water. It seemed that Spencer was taking advantage of that.

“I can stand.”

“Or we can both sit.”

“Are you sure you are ready for that?” Aaron asked. He knew that it was different than Aaron just touching Spencer like he was. Sitting in Aaron’s lap was a lot more intimate than other public displays of affection.

“It’s time. Morgan’s about to blow on it all, and I don’t think that Rossi can keep it to himself for long.”

“Sir,” Anderson said as he came up on Aaron’s other side. “You might want to come over and sit before Garcia marches over here.”

Aaron looked back at the team, and he could see precisely how worked up they all were about it all. Garcia did look ready to blow.

“Thanks, Grant, and please. I’m not your co-worker any more, call me Aaron.” Aaron used his hand on Spencer’s back to turn him to where he could give him a kiss on the lips. Spencer looped his arms around Aaron’s neck and kept him close, turning his head to the side a little and rubbing their cheeks together when the kiss broke.

“Ready?” Spencer asked.

“Yes.” Aaron was. He was ready to show the world, Spencer. Aaron kept his hand on Spencer’s lower back and brought him over to the table and grinned at the way that all eyes were on where Aaron was touching him. Spencer stopped and allowed Aaron to take a seat before he sat on Aaron’s lap. Typically when they did this, they were in Aaron’s over-sized chair at his house. Spencer would be leaning against the arm, and the bones of his butt were not right on Aaron’s leg, but he could live with it. He kind of liked this. Aaron wrapped an arm around Spencer’s waist to hold onto him as he set down his glass of wine.

“So that’s-” Prentiss stopped, and she was wearing a frown. “How?”

Aaron wasn’t sure how to answer that. He didn’t know what Spencer wanted to tell them.

“We were getting closer before Foyet and everything that happened when he attacked Aaron. When Haley died, Aaron needed time to get settled into his new life with Jack, so we took some time apart with the agreement that in a year from then, we would talk if not before then. He came back to me on my birthday.”

Aaron looked up at Spencer’s face to see him glaring at Morgan, who just nodded once when Aaron looked at him.

“So mystery boyfriend isn’t some geek like you that you are afraid will piss us off?” Prentiss asked.

“No. Every single one of you is a mother hen when it comes to me and anything to do with my life, you mean well but I knew that I would have the lot of you invade and I didn’t want that.”

Aaron pressed a kiss to Spencer’s cheek for how he was taking all of it onto him for why they had not told the team before now. Aaron was not nor would ever be ashamed of having Spencer for a lover, but he knew that how he had reacted would set the team on edge for the whole thing. Aaron regretted the time lost between him and Spencer. Still, he knew that he had to work on letting it go if they wanted a good relationship. Aaron was glad that Spencer was more than willing to forgive him for the freak out that he had.

“So that was Hotch’s tie and cologne,” JJ said.

“What?” Prentiss asked as she looked across the table at JJ. Aaron looked at JJ as well

“Two weeks ago, Spence came into work, and I swore that he was wearing a tie that I had seen Hotch wear before. The red one with the dark purple zigzags on it. At a distance, it looks black, but up close, you know it’s purple. I noticed when we all went out to lunch that he was wearing a cologne that was close to Hotch’s that he wore nearly every day. It smelled a little different, so I convinced myself it wasn’t.”

“Not every cologne or perfume smells the same on every single person. You can like the way it smells but then spray it on you, and it smells different. I was counting on that part to hopefully not have someone call me out on it, and I swore that no one paid that close of attention to Aaron’s ties. I forgot to pack a new tie in my go-bag I took to his place, and my cologne in that bag had run out the last case, and I didn’t grab a fresh one.” Spencer was blushing a little at being caught out like that, and Aaron kissed his cheek.

“Though I’m not sure if that meant you were paying too close attention to me or now while I was working at the BAU,” Aaron said with a smile on his face.

“The tie as strange as the purple and red were not something that you normally wore.”

“Spencer bought it for me,” Aaron said. He remembered the little gift from Spencer that had been one of the first big things that he had done at the start of their relationship the first time around. He was glad of it as it had told Aaron that he wasn’t reading too far into it. “And I kind of liked him smelling like me before he left for work.”

“Aaron,” Spencer said he pushed Aaron back from him a little, and the blush deepened on him.

Aaron leaned back into him, rubbing his lips on Spencer’s beard that he was sporting. Aaron still had a little feeling of beard burn from Spencer waking him up that morning with a blow job. Spencer hadn’t had a lot of time, so he had got Aaron off. Aaron had just held him close, kissing him and working his cock until he came on Aaron. Aaron tried to banish those thoughts because he didn’t need to get an erection while Spencer was in his lap in public. Jessica said they were in their honeymoon phase, and it was part of why Jessica was keeping Jack overnight. It was the first time that Jack would stay over at her place since Haley’s death. Aaron had kept Jack at home, and Jessica just stayed the night when she needed to watch Jack while Aaron went and did his sessions at the coffee shop.

“Well, here’s to the happy couple,” Dave said as he raised up the glass of his scotch.

“So, you wanted to come here and see Hotch play?” Garcia asked.

“Of course, I support Aaron in everything that he does,” Spencer said.

“That’s really nice. How long have you played?”

“I taught myself in my teenage years. I used to play to put Jack to sleep when he was sick. I’ve picked it up a lot more since I retired.” Aaron buried his face into Spencer’s neck and inhaled the scent of him. He laughed as he listened to the topic turn away from him and their relationship. He let the words of the team wash over him, and the rumble of Spencer’s voice soothed him. After a few minutes, he pulled his face free, had grabbed his wine to take a drink. He didn’t realize that he had drunk so much already of his third glass. He waved at Deke, who nodded that he would top him off as soon as he could.

“Want me to get the refill?” Spencer asked as he reached out for the glass after Aaron set it down after finishing it off.

“Thanks.” Aaron kissed Spencer’s neck and let go of him.

“He’s been happier,” JJ said after Spencer was out of earshot.

“I’m glad,” Aaron said. He knew that a lot of it was him, but he wasn’t going to be that kind of person.

“You lasted longer than I thought you would. I would have assumed you would be back and begging for a job of some kind.”

“Jack’s going to be starting in kindergarten next year. Right now, he’s in pre-school, I had the option to get him in on waiver since he was born so early in October and he passed the tests needed to go in. However, I kept him back because we were still dealing with Haley’s loss. He’s ready for school. He is looking forward to kindergarten, at least until he realizes that most of what he’s going to learn, he’s already learned. Not just in pre-school but also with Spencer teaching him.”

“So, Jack likes him?” Morgan asked.

Aaron wondered at that, and he looked at Morgan, who just raised a single eyebrow at him, asking him to play along.

“Jack loves him. I mean, Jack misses Haley, but he understood as well as he could at that age that Haley and I weren’t together. He still prefers Jessica, but sometimes he’ll allow Spencer to watch him while I run to the store if he doesn’t want to leave the house. Which considering that it’s winter, is a lot of the time. Spencer’s all for staying in as well.”

Aaron talked more about what he was up to as Spencer settled down into his lap again with a fresh glass of wine and a new bottle of water. Aaron picked up the half-finished bottle and drank it. Time ticked by, and Aaron lost himself in spending time with the team and having Spencer right there on his lap while Terra started her set. She didn’t have the lights turned down for her. Terra just played with all of her heart and so much emotion. Some were songs of her own, and others were covers of popular songs. Aaron knew her sets like he knew his own. When she started her last song, Aaron felt Spencer relaxing more on him, his head tipping down to rest on Aaron’s shoulder. He was worn out or at least acting that way as a reason to slip away when Terra was done.

“He had a hard day at work,” Morgan said after Terra had finished her set. Aaron clapped as well as he could with his arms around Spencer.

“Yeah? How many consults and cold cases did he get through.” Aaron endured the pinch from Spencer at that and laughed.

“Oh, none of those. He finished the paperwork that got sent back to him from above,” Morgan said.

“They are going to regret that. Someone new?” Aaron asked. He knew what Spencer did when the paperwork was sent back to him when it was perfect before it was ever out of Morgan’s clutches.

“The breakdown of the case went from two pages to eighteen, and there are three pages of references to other cases or papers put out by the APA.”

“They deserve that shit. They are going to need a degree to understand it.”

“I kept his old attached as well, and I hope that someone takes pity as if it comes back again…” Morgan trailed off.

Aaron had been around for that one when someone above Strauss had tried to wage war. Strauss had been more than willing to step in, but Aaron told her to let Spencer handle it. The third file sent up had been nearly fifty pages. It included citations to every single bit of any case that the BAU had ever worked that gave them the basis of what they had come to before finding the UnSub. No one had ever kicked back one of his reports after that.

“You’ve already got it all planned, don’t you?”

“I have it all wrote in my head as well as the citations in my pages. I’ll see how they like that shit.”

“Well, Pretty Boy is cussing, so that means it’s time for bed for him,” Morgan said with a smile.

Spencer stuck his tongue out at Morgan, which made those who saw it laugh. Aaron was just enjoying the soft feel of a tired Spencer in his lap.

“Then we had better head home since he is my DD,” Aaron said. He stood up after Spencer did, and he could feel the way that the wine made things soft enough that he didn’t trust himself to drive at all. He fished out his keys and handed them to Spencer.

“You should come out for dinner with us once in a while. We can keep things PG so that Jack can come,” Anderson said. He reached out to shake Aaron’s hand before he looked at Spencer with a smile on his face.

“That would be great,” Aaron said. He laid a hand on Spencer’s lower back and turned him toward the door.

“Guitar,” Spencer said as he yawned.

Aaron glared at Spencer because that was not Spencer’s usual yawn, his jaw didn’t crack, and he didn’t stretch. The little shit was faking it. Though Aaron didn’t care as it got them out of there.

“Terra is storing it for me. I can pick it up tomorrow. I’ve left it behind before.” Aaron guided Spencer out of the coffee shop and turned him toward the parking lot that he had parked in.

“I’m off tomorrow. I took the day for a doctor’s appointment that got taken care of enough for my GP when I got that check-up from anthrax two weeks ago. The results were forwarded, and she called and told me not to come in, and she would note those in the file.”

“You’ve never taken all day for a doctor appointment before.” Aaron waited for Spencer to unlock the car before he slipped into the passenger seat. Spencer got into the driver’s seat and made sure the mirror was tilted just that little bit that he needed.

“No, I had it first thing tomorrow, so I was going to come over to spend the afternoon with you. I wanted it to be a surprise, but I spoiled it because I didn’t want you waking me up when I try and sleep in.”

“I see.”

Spencer shook his head, and his whole body language changed from soft and sleepy to fully alert and awake. “It’s so easy to get them to see what I want them to when it comes to things like that.”

“They are still slotting you into that whole little brother thing, and little brother’s don’t lie,” Aaron said.

Spencer laughed and started up the car. He carefully pulled out of the spot before getting them going. The drive was short as the coffee shop wasn’t that far from Aaron’s house. Spencer hit the button to raise the garage door as he pulled into the driveway. Aaron started to get out when the car was shut off, but Spencer pressed a hand to his chest to keep him there.

Aaron frowned as he watched Spencer go around the car to open up Aaron’s door. Aaron moved to get out, but instead of that, Spencer slipped into the car and dropped Aaron’s seat back so he could straddle him. There was a look in Spencer’s eyes that Aaron had never seen before.

“You gave me a look while you were on stage that I know well. It’s something you give me when I ruin a plan. What was your plan?” Spencer asked.

“I planned on calling you when I was on my way home and have you meet me. I was going to play for you.”

“I’m going to hold you yo that, but maybe tomorrow. Right now, I want you inside of me. Not in the car because we are too big for that in your car, I don’t feel like warming up the SUV to attempt that but maybe later.” Spencer dropped down to where he was hovering over Aaron, his breath ghosting over Aaron’s face.

Aaron met him for a kiss that curled his toes. Sex had been good between them, full of passion, and happiness, and love. Yet none of their rounds of it had started out with this much need. Aaron met each thrust of tongue with one of his own, the feeling of want and need ramping up with each one until Aaron knew that they needed to get out of the car and into the house. Aaron was sure though that they were probably not going to make it into the bedroom.

“Spencer,” Aaron said. He pushed up at Spencer’s shoulder to get his attention. “No sex in the car, remember.”

“We aren’t having sex,” Spencer pointed out. He looked down at Aaron and rocked his hips into Aaron’s. “Not the kind of sex I want to have.”

“Then let’s get out of the car and into the house, and we can have that kind of sex.” Aaron reached out and opened the door.

Spencer slipped off of Aaron’s lap and walked over to the door and used the key on Aaron’s ring to get the door open. He turned off the alarm and waited for Aaron to get inside of the house. Aaron shut and locked the door and reset the alarm before he turned around and crooked his finger to get Spencer closer to him. Spencer shook his head and moved to the counter to sit on it before he spread his legs and crooked his finger at Aaron instead. Aaron walked over to him and settled his hands on his hips before kissing him.

Aaron wasn’t shocked when Spencer’s legs wrapped around him. Nor when Spencer’s arm wrapped around his neck and braced himself right there.

“Couch,” Spencer whispered when he pulled out of Aaron’s kiss.

“We are too old for a couch,” Aaron said.

“Not the new one,” Spencer said.

Aaron remembered taking Spencer to the couch shop after one of the cushions finally gave it all up and ripped open. Aaron could have got it fixed, but he went for all new. Spencer had been more than willing to help him. Aaron tried to remember what Spencer had been doing to the couches when they had been testing them. He remembered Spencer sitting on the arms, and that was about it besides the whole making sure his bony butt wasn’t going to hit anything it shouldn’t.

“You are going to have to let go of me,” Aaron said.

“No, you are fit enough to carry me.” Spencer kissed him, holding onto his neck with one hand, and the other was looped around it.

Aaron huffed into Spencer’s mouth but grabbed him by the ass as he backed up to pull Spencer off of the counter. Aaron tried to focus on where they were going, but he did bump into a few things, but finally, he felt the couch arm bump into him. He turned around to drop Spencer onto the arm, and in that second, he found precisely why Spencer had picked the couch. Aaron kissed across the side of Spencer’s face right to his ear. “How long have you been thinking about this?”

“Pretty much since we bought the couch. Are you saying you don’t want to fuck me here?”

“Stop it,” Aaron said before he playfully nipped at Spencer’s ear to let him know that he didn’t mean it. Spencer’s mouth could get downright pornographic, and it did things to Aaron that he hadn’t quite got a grip on.

“You love it,” Spencer said, angling his head, so his lips were brushing Aaron’s ear. “You love to hear how much I love sucking your cock. What it feels like when I lower myself down onto your prick.”

“Lube,” Aaron said, and it was the only word that he said.

Spencer let go of him and laid back on the couch before he rolled to the side a little and grabbed the drawer in the coffee table. He pulled out two single-use sachets of lube that just had the logo for their preferred brand. Condoms had been discarded not long after they had become intimate that first week in the relationship.

Aaron had never regretted it. While their bond, their relationship, wasn’t built on sex. There had been a vulnerability after sex for both of them where they talked without guard, without reservation. No ego, no shame, no guilt. It was just them. It was perfect to Aaron, what they were building. While Aaron knew they were still a long way off of moving in together full time, he wasn’t going to be upset about the life they did have that was shared.

“Naked,” Spencer said as he laid the lube on the coffee table, and while still lying on the couch like he was, he started to strip. Aaron was mesmerized by how he wiggled out of the clothes and kicked his shoes off. Aaron plucked his socks off when he was presented with each foot.

Aaron started on his pants after kicking his shoes off. He watched as Spencer opened the first sachet and moved to where his ass was hanging off of the couch arm. One leg was thrown up and over the back of the couch, and the other was propped just right on the edge to where he could lift up and get his fingers into his ass. Aaron watched him slick up his hole before he grabbed a tea towel that was on the table and cleaned off his fingers. Aaron hadn’t even noticed it there.

Quickly getting the last of his clothes off, Aaron stepped up between Spencer’s legs finding they were spread just enough for him to get what he wanted. Slicking up his hand with the lube from the sachet thrown at him, Aaron watched Spencer’s face. He used a hand under Spencer’s ass to make sure that he didn’t try and get his cock where it didn’t belong and get couch burn on it.

Spencer loved prostate stimulation, but Aaron didn’t like it as much. He didn’t mind a finger or two when Spencer was giving him head, but the constant thrust of a cock inside of him was too much, it felt weird. It sucked because Aaron loved feeling Spencer inside of him, so what they did was start with that, and Spencer didn’t go as deep before they switched to Spencer fucking his thighs. It worked when Spencer wanted that part, but thankfully, Spencer was more than willing to be the one taking cock. No one needed to know a damned thing about them and their sex life. Though he was sure that the girls on the team were going to be imagining it, maybe not so much JJ because of what Spencer was to her but the other two, it was right up their alley.

Aaron watched as Spencer got comfortable as Aaron bottomed out inside of him, the pillow supporting his back and neck all the way down until he was lying perfectly on the couch. It looked damned good. “You know that I am not going to be able to see you lying on this couch without getting hard, right?”

“As if that wasn’t my plan all along.” Spencer wiggled a little, getting his ass down the couch just a bit more so Aaron could get just that much more inside of him. It made his one leg nearly slip off of the couch, so Aaron grabbed it and braced it up on his body. Aaron didn’t figure that Spencer could last long with how revved up he was.

Aaron loved kissing. He loved kissing Spencer even more, but watching Spencer revel in the pleasure that Aaron gave him was more than worth not kissing him. Aaron held onto Spencer’s leg with one hand and his hip with the other as he rocked in and out of him. Words, moans, and groans slipped from Spencer’s lips, and all that did was egg Aaron on.

There was nothing but the look of Spencer, laid out in front of him, the feel of Spencer’s ass wrapped around his cock and the knowledge that they were having sex in a place that they really shouldn’t. Aaron was pretty sure that those three things were the only things he would remember about this. It was the only thing he cared about, especially the look on Spencer’s face as he came. It tipped Aaron over as well, feeling the muscles gripping him tightly.

Aaron held himself up as he came, his legs trying to buckle under him. He held up through sheer will. He was so focused on that he didn’t notice Spencer kind of moving his legs, and then there were legs crossed behind his head, and he was being tipped downward. Aaron caught himself, but he was still mostly on Spencer, Spencer’s release smearing between them. Spencer didn’t seem to care as used Aaron’s unbalanced body to get him up to where they could kiss. Spencer could be like an octopus when he wanted.

“Yeah, that’s my new favorite,” Spencer said when Aaron pulled up and out of the kiss to balance himself to look down at his lover.

“You say that every time we try something new.”

“And?” Spencer asked. He pouted.

Aaron leaned down and brushed his lips over Spencer’s before doing the same with their noses.

“So have you made a decision on what exactly you are going to call me?” Spencer scooted up a little more on the couch, and it pushed to where Aaron’s head rested over his heart.

The couch would need to be cleaned up, Aaron thought, as he also made a mental note for condoms at least for sex outside of the bedroom for easier cleanup. He would ask Spencer about that.

“No one has batted an eye at lover, partner, boyfriend. I would have thought that someone would have a reaction to boyfriend, but no one did.”

“And what do you like?”

“I have no clue. I really don’t.”

“Well, you don’t have to decide now. It’s not anything big. You can even just say I’m your Spencer. I like being your Spencer. I like being yours.”

“I like you being mine,” Aaron said. He pressed a kiss to Spencer’s skin and closed his eyes. It was going to be good, them together forever.

“And you are mine,” Spencer said, a growl slipping into his voice. It sent a shiver down Aaron’s spine.

“I am. Always.”

Epilogue

Aaron leaned back on the private beach and looked at where Spencer and Jack were playing in the water. He had been the one in the water with Jack up until Spencer had come down to the beach after a quick call to the BAU to help them with a case. Aaron knew that the team wouldn’t call unless it were needed. They all wanted Spencer to have the vacation after a few horrible cases in a row. It had been a short call, which was good, but Aaron could see that there was something in Spencer’s eyes.

“Ready for a bath?” Jessica called down to Jack at the water.

Jack turned his head, and while he usually would have pouted, Jack knew that he needed to be on his best behavior on this trip, so he just nodded. Aaron and Spencer were spending a great deal of time with Jack during the morning, afternoon, and early evening but once the sun started to head down, it was Spencer and Aaron’s time.

Spencer wasn’t living with Aaron and Jack full time, but it was damned near that. It was usually the first night after Spencer got home from a case that he stayed at his house. The second night was iffy, and often only if it was a horrible case. Aaron understood why Spencer was doing it, but he didn’t like it.

“So Jessica,” Spencer said as he walked up the beach to where Aaron was with Jack in his arms. Jack was nearing the point where he was going to be too big to carry around like that. “Do you like your apartment?”

“Not really. Why?” Jessica asked.

Even Aaron was shocked by the conversation.

“It’s been pressed upon me that people who love each other live together.”

Jack started to blush as he was set down by Spencer. Jack ran to Aaron and dropped onto his legs and was grinning at Aaron.

“And?” Jessica asked.

“I have a lovely house that has been remodeled within the last year. Barely but still. I’ll make you a deal. You pay what you pay now for rent and then cover utilities, we can get it all changed out into your name, and I’ll move in with Aaron.”

“Don’t you think that I need to be in this conversation?” Aaron asked. He was smiling, though, because he knew what Spencer was doing. He was trying to make it a lot more simple on his end.

“Your opinion doesn’t matter because you would have had me move in months ago.”

Aaron glared at Spencer, who just gave him a grin. Aaron knew what Spencer was talking about. Aaron’s house had been bought, and the basement not really used at all. There was a side that stacked with storage shelves, and even it was half empty. The other side had sat empty for a very, very long time until just when they started this trip. Jack though it seemed, was ruining his plans of softening Spencer up on their vacation to move in with them as soon as possible.

“I couldn’t,” Jessica said.

“I bought the house for a song, and it needed some work. Morgan and I did most of the work together. He called it bonding time, so I really only paid for materials. I could sell the house for what it’s worth and made a great deal of money on it, but I don’t think I like the idea of someone strange moving in.”

“Where is it?” Jessica asked. She was looking a little out of sorts with it.

Aaron knew that Spencer’s house was talked about but never in great detail, especially the location. Spencer had never put emphasis on where he lived, even when he lived in the apartment. It didn’t matter to him, so he didn’t mention it all that much.

“You remember when we took that walk after dinner one night to help Jack get worn out?” Aaron asked. Jack had been hyper for three days at that point, and they were all for doing anything that would wear him out, including letting him run ahead and then run back as they took a long walk around the blocks near the house.

“Yes, we saw that lovely lilac colored house with the white picket fence with the tops painted black. It was really cozy looking.”

“Thank you, I painted that fence myself.”

Jessica looked at Aaron for a few seconds and waited for Aaron to nod before she looked at Spencer.

“That’s just on the other side of Aaron’s block and three houses down,” Jessica said.

“With an alley that connects the two houses. The picket fence goes all the way around.” Spencer was grinning as he dropped down into the sand beside Aaron. “Morgan made it pretty efficient with the materials that we used. The bills are not that much, even during the heatwave we had last month or the cold spell earlier in the year. Two bedrooms with a bathroom in each on the second floor. Nice sized living room and an office area that could be turned into a bedroom on the ground floor. There is a half bath down there as well. The basement is finished and is one large room that I use for storage. I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do as far as my books go so they stayed in boxes down there. I’ve been reasonably told that there are bookshelves being built in Aaron’s basement while we are on this vacation.”

Aaron looked at Jessica, who looked shocked at Spencer’s words. Jack knew nothing about it, and Jessica hadn’t told him.

“Hotchner is a very uncommon name, Aaron. The man who is doing the library in the basement is friends with Morgan and Morgan is a gossip. He asked me if that meant I was moving into your house.”

“I see.” Aaron hated that his surprise was ruined.

“So are you?” Jack asked. He was looking at Spencer.

“Yes.”

“YAY!” Jack launched himself at Spencer with a happy laugh and hugged him. Spencer hugged him back and then set him to rights on his feet before pushing him toward Jessica. “Goodnight, Spencer. Night, Daddy.”

“Goodnight,” Aaron and Spencer said at the same time.

Aaron wasn’t sure what to say as they waited for Jack and Jessica to get away from where they were, so they didn’t overhear them.

“I know you hate when your surprises are ruined,” Spencer said as he stood up and reached out to grab Aaron’s hands to pull him up as well. “You can blame this on Morgan.”

“I should have asked him to keep it quiet, but then why would I think that the man I hired to build me bookshelves in a basement would know anyone on the old team.”

“When Morgan realized that I didn’t know anything about it, he was upset.” Spencer pulled Aaron close to him and rubbed his nose against Aaron’s. “He wasn’t happy with ruining it, but he couldn’t stop that. He’s more like a helicopter mom lately. He’s been pushing for me to hang out with him more, closer to what it used to be before you had left the team.”

Aaron kissed Spencer and wrapped his arms around Spencer to hold him close. Aaron loved this part, holding Spencer close and kissing him. Spencer wrapped his arms around Aaron and held him close as well. It was wonderful and just filled Aaron’s heart in a way that he had never felt before. He would be happy holding Spencer close for the rest of their lives. The sex was wonderful, and it was perfect, even if it wasn’t perfect every single time. It was something that Aaron could live without for the rest of their lives. He knew that Spencer loved sex to help his brain shut down. It was something that Spencer had already said that he could be happy without, but they didn’t need to be without it. It was something just great for them.

“It wasn’t going to be a big thing,” Aaron said.

“You were getting the work done while we were gone and going to come home when it was done and never mention it.”

“No. I was going to talk you into living with us. Slowly moving you out of your house while you worked on selling it. I didn’t realize that your books weren’t out of the boxes. That makes it a lot easier to move you into my place. I figured you could move a box of books a day when you were in town. I might help you with one a day. We can easily just grab a few boxes each day and load them into the car and move them over. I found that list you have of all of your books, and I made sure that there was enough room to house them as well as more. You’ll be able to do whatever you want to the room. Jack has the attic as a playroom, and then I have my office where I escape. You have the basement, at least one side.”

“What would have done if I had gone down there? It’s not like you couldn’t hide that it was bookshelves.”

“You don’t go down there. The laundry is upstairs, and you’ve never been in the basement before. It’s the best place to hide something for you.”

Spencer gave Aaron a pout. Aaron leaned in and kissed him. Aaron kissed down his neck when he pulled out of the kiss. Spencer’s hand tangled into Aaron’s hair and pulled him back up when Aaron nipped at his pulse point.

“You don’t have to,” Aaron said as he looked into Spencer’s eyes.

“I know that I don’t have to. I want to. I can still get my time to myself after cases to figure things out by going down into the library. You won’t bother me unless you have to. I know this, Aaron. Jack’s overeager sometimes, but he’ll be easy enough to manage. I’ve not been staying at my house for long at all after cases. I’ve not done two days in months, since not long after the night out where I heard you play for me for the first time. I hated being home that last time before our trip. I wanted to come over, but it was already midnight, and I knew that you wouldn’t care, but I just made sure to come over first thing in the morning. You invaded my mind, heart, and my soul.”

Aaron wasn’t sure what to say to that. He knew that Spencer was doing well being in the relationship. There was no fear of Aaron leaving him behind anymore, and that was why Aaron wanted him to live with them. He knew that there might be some moments where Spencer’s fears were the things that pushed him. It was part of why Spencer stayed away after cases. Aaron had been working him down on getting him to talk about it.

“You know that I’ll never resent you for being in the BAU, right?” Aaron asked. He had been waiting to ask that question for a while, but he hadn’t wanted to push it before he knew that Spencer wouldn’t freak out.

“I know that, Aaron.” Spencer pressed his cheek to Aaron’s and sighed, hugging Aaron tightly. “I’m getting there. I’m a work in progress on this, but I love you so much, and I want to be with you and with Jack forever. That starts with me moving in. I want to, and I’ve been a little afraid of letting you know that I’ve wanted to because I was scared of freaking out. I can’t promise I won’t now, but at least the freak out will be less with Jessica moving into the house. If I do freak, I won’t have to go somewhere strange to get away. I’m sure that the couch will be fine there.”

“I love you so much, too,” Aaron said. He turned them around to face the setting sun. He linked his hand with Spencer’s and watched the setting sun. Spencer tipped his head down to rest it on Aaron’s shoulder, and they just stood there. It was kind of perfect.

Aaron was so damned glad that Spencer had given him a second chance after he screwed up. He was happy with life for the first time in a long time, and it was just going to get better and better with time with Spencer. There was no end to them that Aaron could see. They talked more than Aaron had ever thought two people could talk, and it made their lives richer.

Their love was changing with each day that they woke up, but it wasn’t something that was going to be horrible, not if they worked at it like they were. It was just going to get better and better from here on out.

The End

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