The Ache for Something More – 1/9 – DarkJediQueen

Title: The Ache for Something More
Author: DarkJediQueen
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Genre: Drama, Established Relationship, First Time, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Menage or More, Slash
Relationship(s): Aaron Hotchner/Haley Hotchner, Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Haley Hotchner/Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid/Haley Hotchner
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Violence – Graphic, Canon Drug Use Discussion of Canon Typical Cases Canon Torture
Author Notes:
Beta: Alpha-greeneyesblue, Beta-ScarsLikeVelvet
Word Count: 244,735
Summary: After rescuing Spencer Reid from the hands of Charles Hankel, Aaron invites him to live with him and his family. It starts a journey that none of them were prepared for but none of them want to let go of either.
Artist: Starkindler



 

Chapter 1

Aaron Hotchner had never been so happy in his life as he was at the moment that he saw Spencer Reid standing in a half dug grave looking up at him as he approached. Aaron gladly helped him up and asked him how he was.

“I knew you’d understand,” Reid said.

Aaron knew that he was the colder one on the team, but he couldn’t help the hug that he pulled Reid into. He needed to reassure himself that Reid was alive. Aaron figured that he would be patted on the back in a weird fashion like Reid did with most people that hugged him but instead, Reid wrapped his arms around him like an octopus and held on tight. Aaron didn’t let go of him until the shivers that were wracking his body stopped. Aaron pulled back enough to look him in the eye, and he saw the pain, as well as something else there. Aaron wasn’t sure exactly what that was, but he didn’t like it. He didn’t like that Reid seemed so out of sorts from normal.

Stepping away, Aaron led Spencer right to JJ, who was frantic with worry. They needed each other, being the last two together. Aaron wondered if there was more than just friendship between them, but as he watched Reid’s face and JJ’s body language, he dismissed it. Aaron looked up at Morgan who seemed to be staring at Reid. That was another thing that Aaron was pretty sure that was going to be brought up soon. Aaron knew that a lot of things were going to change after this. He just really wasn’t sure that it was all going to be good changes. What JJ and Reid had done was no different than if they were on foot and chasing an UnSub through the streets, splitting up to corner the UnSub was a standard tactic that both had learned. Aaron could find no fault given what JJ had told them happened. It was shitty luck. Everyone above Aaron was going to want to find a way to blame Reid or even JJ in this. Aaron wasn’t going to let that happen.

The drive to the closest hospital was longer than Aaron wanted, but Reid was in the back of an ambulance, and he was being treated. Gideon was with him. Aaron knew that Gideon held Reid’s medical proxy on the team. Usually, it was either him or Aaron who held it for everyone on the team as getting family across the country was hard, and the team was almost always right there. JJ was the one that carried that paperwork for the team.

Aaron dropped JJ at the hospital, leaving the SUV for the three of them before he went on with Morgan and Prentiss to work on wrapping up the case. Reid didn’t need a large group of people waiting on him at the moment when his injuries were not that severe. He would hate being fawned over and he would hate having them just standing around. It was different when their lives were on the line, and you didn’t know if they were going to make it, but Reid had been moving around, stiffly but still moving. He had actually been moving worse than some of the elderly community that Aaron had seen over the years that were over three times Reid’s age. Aaron didn’t know that there was anything that any of them could do for him at the moment other than making sure that they got home very quickly. Aaron wanted to make that happen, so he set Morgan and Prentiss on making that happen. Garcia was being brought in after she made sure that the computers were stopping in their watching of people across the area. There were uniformed officers that were there at the Hankel house that was going to bring her back when she was done. Aaron talked to her personally to let her know that Reid had been recovered.

There was an air of worry around the entire police station, and that wouldn’t go away until the officers all saw Reid. Aaron texted JJ that they needed to stop by here before going to the jet. JJ texted back that they would but asked nothing. It was never more evident that the cops in a lot of places never dealt with things like this. They never had to see their co-worker get taken and beat, tortured on a recording and have it preserved not only in their minds for the rest of their lives but forever. It was going to be hard at the station over the next few months.

Working on the files that would need to be left with the locals as well as the ones that needed to be filed for the FBI helped fill the time before there was the sound of loud clapping. Aaron walked over to where he could see JJ and Reid walking into the bullpen. It was good to see Reid moving around. He wasn’t the greatest looking though. He looked like he was about two minutes away from falling asleep where he stood. He also was still limping a great deal. JJ led Reid over to a chair close to where the rest of the team was working on getting things done and got him settled there. All of the officers in the station came to shake Reid’s hand.

Aaron caught Gideon’s eye. The older man nodded his head, and that helped Aaron settle down. Reid was going to be okay. Aaron laughed as he saw that Morgan was over talking to Reid, making the younger man smile. Morgan and JJ were what Reid needed, not a hovering Aaron who would only make him nervous. It wasn’t hard to understand why Aaron made Reid nervous. Aaron was just like a lot of the bullies that Reid had in school even if Reid tried to act like Aaron didn’t scare him on the regular. There were a lot of collieries between their lives though, and Aaron knew that Reid would seek him out when he was ready and not a moment before.

The seat on the jet that only had a single seat in front of it and none on either side had been designated Aaron’s brooding chair since before most of the current team had joined it. They had all learned not to approach him if he was there. Yet sometimes they did. JJ and Reid had left as soon as Reid had finished off his paperwork so that he could stretch out and get his leg up. Reid was dead asleep on the jet when Aaron boarded it. Aaron was tempted to sit across from him so that he could make sure that he was fine, but Morgan was already there and so wasn’t JJ and Aaron didn’t feel like being a part of that grouping. So Aaron took his brooding seat while Prentiss decided where she wanted to go. Gideon took a seat alone that was on the other side of where Aaron was, but it was the seat that would swivel around to face the four-seat area, which he did. Aaron was left on his side of the jet, and he was nearly all the way alone. The cockpit was behind him, and he knew that it was part of why no one really liked to sit there. He wasn’t sure why though.

Reid was in perfect sight of Aaron. It was the way that Aaron wanted it, and it was why he had made this his seat. Not to look at Reid but to keep an eye on the agents who ended up on the couch. It was rare that anyone did, preferring the chairs. It was only when they were injured that they were on there. There was a stack of files, the case files that the team had written up so far, in front of Aaron. The top was also the medical report on Reid. While some details were withheld for patient confidentiality, injuries obtained while on the job were not. The bottom of Reid’s foot was severely bruised, including the muscles and tendons. He would have to make sure not to use it too much over the next two weeks and let everything heal up. Aaron looked at the report that Gideon had written up as he had been the one to talk to Reid. Beaten with a makeshift paddle was what was written down about Reid’s foot.

Before getting settled in for takeoff, Prentiss threw a blanket over Reid. It was warm on the jet given that it was winter still, but Reid was always cold, his body too used to years and years in Vegas and then California. It was kind of cute most of the time, the way he would get under blankets when they went to northern areas during the deep of winter. There was a lot about what Reid did that Aaron found kind of cute. Aaron still had not figured out how he thought it was cute, but he kept on shoving that down deep inside of himself.

Aaron’s phone vibrated, and he looked to see that it was Haley. Aaron picked it up and checked the message. She was worried about Reid. Aaron smiled at that. Aaron had texted that they had recovered him after texting when he had gone missing. He had let her know that he wouldn’t be as available as he usually was on a case as his full focus needed to be on finding his missing agent. Haley had more than happily agreed and other than confirming when Aaron checked in at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and just before bed, she didn’t say anything else.

Reid’s asleep and we are on our way home. I’m going to see him home, and then I will be home.

Hungry? Haley texted back.

I don’t know. I really don’t. Aaron sighed as he set down his phone to look around.

Reid moved, and Aaron settled down as Reid didn’t get up or seem like he was going to wake up. Aaron waited to make sure before he looked down at his phone again when it vibrated.

I made your favorite lasagna and froze it in pieces for your lunch. I left some in the fridge. I’ll have it and a salad ready for you when you get home.

You are the most wonderful woman in the world. Aaron smiled as he typed that out and sent it. It was going to be around two in the morning when he got back to the house, but he knew that she would be up if she said she was going to be. She could be dozing on the couch, but she wouldn’t be in bed. Aaron felt his love for Haley swell in his chest, making him feel a little bit better.

No one really spoke the entire flight home. There was no game of poker or the idle chatter. Every time that Aaron looked around the jet, he would catch people looking at Reid. They would stare for a few seconds before turning back to whatever thing they were doing to pass the time. Gideon was the only one who was doing anything close to normal. He worked on consults. Aaron felt like he wanted to scream at the man a little that his protege, who was only on the team because of him, needed help.

Aaron had tried to get closer to the younger man to help him become an excellent agent. He had the brains and had proven that time and again. However, he didn’t always get the way that it was done in the FBI. Aaron usually had to use logic, but when he did, Aaron never had an issue with Reid doing as Aaron needed him to. Reid had read every single thing that even held the merest mention of a rule, but sometimes the practical application of such rule was a little past him.

The jet landed with no issue, and Aaron wondered about how Reid was going to get home. Aaron was the last off of the jet, going right behind Reid with Morgan in front of the injured agent to make sure that he didn’t fall down the stairs. There were a few SUVs waiting on them instead of their cars. Anderson was standing there in front of the lead SUV.

“We were asked to drive you all home. Your cars are already there, parked in your usual spots and the agent driving you home has the spares you guys leave just in case the cars need to be moved.” Anderson seemed a little tired but nothing like what Aaron knew he and the team felt like.

“You are a Godsend,” Prentiss said as she stepped up.

“Thank you, Agent Prentiss. Hotch, Agent Sharp will be driving you home. Agent Gideon, I’ll take you. The rest I am sure you know who lives closest to you from the ones that are here.”

Morgan laughed. It was weak, but it was at least a laugh. He kept his arm around Reid and directed him over to the SUV that had an agent that at the moment, Aaron couldn’t even think of the name of. Aaron shook his head to clear it as he stepped up to the SUV where Sharp was standing.

“Welcome home, Sir. Your keys are with your wife. She offered to drive over here to pick you up while I stayed with young Jack, but I told her that I was not that good with babies, and this would be better.”

“Thank you, Sharp. You don’t know how much I was dreading trying to drive home. Who set this up?”

“Anderson, Sir. He took a poll of who didn’t mind using a company vehicle to make sure that all of you made it home safe and sound. Morgan and Reid live close enough together that it makes sense to take them together. How is he?”

“He’s going to be fine. He’s got us.” Aaron looked over at the form of Reid slipping into the backseat of the SUV. Through the open doors on the SUV, Aaron watched as he flopped onto his back. Morgan looked around, catching Aaron’s eye. Morgan nodded, and Aaron knew that he was making sure that Aaron knew that Morgan would get him home safe and leave only when he was settled down. Aaron was glad.

Sharp didn’t try and keep Aaron entertained while she drove them to his house. Aaron was thankful for that. He didn’t think that he could keep his mind focused on a conversation at the moment. The pleasantries that were exchanged when Sharp stopped in front of Aaron’s house were short. Especially after Haley opened up the front door and stood there waiting, she was wrapped in her thick winter robe. Aaron grabbed his go bag and his briefcase and slipped out of the SUV. Sharp didn’t even wait for Aaron to get halfway to the house before she took off.

“You look beat,” Haley said as she wrapped her arms around Aaron as soon as he got close, not even giving him a chance to get inside or set his things down. Aaron endured that until he could properly hug her back.

“I’m really tired. I don’t have to be back in until Monday as long as I submit my report sometime tomorrow. So I thought I could do that before breakfast and then have the day with you and Jack.”

“Sounds good. Food’s warm and the salad’s cold. I used the poppy seed dressing that you like.”

“You are so wonderful.” Aaron pressed a kiss to Haley’s forehead. He got inside the house and set his things under the stand that was in the hallway leading to the rest of the house. He could fetch his things and take care of them in the morning. He was used to doing that when he got in late from a case. Haley though, might get to it first while Aaron was going on his run. “I love you so much.”

“Go eat before you pass out.” Haley grabbed Aaron’s go-bag from where he stored it, and he opened his mouth to tell her that she didn’t have to do that when she glared at him.

Aaron shut his mouth and headed toward the kitchen. After he ate, he would check on Jack. He knew that Jack was fine, but Aaron needed to see him. The skipping dinner thing was really bothering Aaron. He felt his stomach rumble, so he dug into the salad. It was gone before Aaron could realize that he had finished it off. He swapped to the lasagna next. Haley came back into the kitchen to see Aaron finishing off the last few bites. She had taken off the robe and was just in the teddy that she had obviously been sleeping in. Since she had got the pregnancy weight off again, Aaron had seen her in things like that more.

“You were really hungry, weren’t you?”

“I was. I was worried about Reid and nothing there in Atlanta that was open last night was worth eating, in my opinion.” Aaron felt awake like he hadn’t before eating. He knew it was his body working on getting ready to digest the food but still, he wasn’t ready for bed. Aaron reached out his hand, and Haley took it, pulling her close to him. He ran his fingers through her hair and then held her head in place to kiss her. Haley protested a little after a moment, so Aaron let her go.

“Aaron?” Haley asked.

“I need to remember that I am alive,” Aaron whispered against Haley’s lips. He hated admitting it, but it was best for them if he did.

“Okay,” Haley said.

Aaron dove in again, pressing his lips to hers as he grabbed hold of the ties that held up the teddy she had been wearing under her robe. The thin fabric slid down Haley’s skin and puddled at the floor around her feet. Aaron could just see it in his head. Aaron really hoped that no one saw her in it and especially never without it. Aaron growled into her mouth as he dropped his hands down to cup her ass. Haley reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck before giving a little jump up and as Aaron lifted her, she wrapped her legs around his hips.

The trek to the bedroom was full of Aaron stopping to press Haley into the bare stretches of wall. Back when they had moved into the house, Aaron had taken her against nearly every single surface that he could. The favorites were all still bare. Small points that helped Aaron remember the better days. The counter in the bathroom was a favorite as it was just at the perfect height for Aaron to set her down on it and fuck her. Aaron missed those days. Of letting his mind go and forgetting everything that was troubling. It helped him stay balanced, to have that little bit of time where the horrors that he dealt with at work were not the focus of his mind.

Aaron dropped Haley down onto the bed and started to work on his belt. He ripped it off, tossing it aside. Haley worked on his fly, taking the zipper all the way down. Aaron started to work his pants down his legs, but Haley pulled him over by the fly on his pants to get on her. Aaron got settled on his knees and picked her up to near throw her up the bed to where he could get between her legs. She was fully naked, her breasts on display. Aaron loved her breasts. They fit perfectly in his hands, and she was so responsive when Aaron licked them, especially now that she was post-pregnancy. The heightened feeling that she had when she had been pregnant had stayed.

“I love you,” Aaron whispered before he slipped a finger up through her folds, and then he swapped to his thumb to rub on her clit. Haley arched on the bed and moaned. Aaron looked over at the door to make sure that it was shut, they didn’t need their sounds to wake up Jack. “You are so beautiful.”

“Aaron,” Haley moaned before she spread her legs a little more.

Usually, Aaron loved the foreplay. He loved the way that Haley would grab what she could of his hair while he went down on her. She was never able to keep quiet when his tongue was on her, anywhere. Tonight though, Aaron just wanted to be in her. Aaron reached over and grabbed one of the condoms. Haley had never been able to use birth control. It gave her horrible migraines, and Aaron agreed that trying different ones were not enough. Aaron never minded condoms.

“No.”

“Haley?” Aaron asked.

“I miss the feel of you inside of me without a condom.”

“What about…?” Aaron trailed off on his question. He wanted more kids, but Haley had been kind of put off after the trouble with Jack’s pregnancy.

“If it happens, it does.”

“Okay.” Aaron leaned in and kissed her, bracing himself on one arm before he used his other to make sure that she was wet enough for him. It was never hard to get Haley wet, even without playing with her breasts or anything like that. The first time that Aaron had been inside of her, even with a condom on, there had been a lot of emotion. Aaron had only ever been with her. They had lost their respective virginity to each other.

The first time though that Aaron had been inside of her without a condom, it had been the best thing he had ever done. Aaron pressed inside of her. She was soaking wet but was gripping him so tight. Aaron knew that he wasn’t going to last long, he never did without a condom the first few times. They had tried a few times to get pregnant, but it had only been the last that had been successful in a full-term pregnancy.

“Harder,” Haley begged.

“Hales,” Aaron said as he did what she wanted. He braced his arms on the bed, kissing her harder, his hips slapping into hers. He made sure that his groin rubbed on her clit, making sure that she could orgasm from just this. Aaron knew exactly how to do what she needed at any given point in time. She gave him everything that he needed, and he tried his hardest to make sure that she got that in return.

Aaron buried his face into Haley’s neck as she gripped him tighter just before coming. Her hands dug into Aaron’s back and that little bit of grip that pain tipped Aaron over. Aaron stayed inside of her as he rolled them to where she was on top of him. He loved that feeling of her wrapped around him. Haley got comfortable on top of him. She laid down so that for as long as possible, he stayed inside of her. Aaron wrapped his arms around her and settled in to sleep. When they woke up, Aaron would clean up with Haley in the shower.


Spencer tried to settle his mind. It kept on racing. He looked at the two bottles that were sitting on the sink, mocking him. They promised him relief, but he knew that it was short-lived. He knew that it would never give him what he wanted. It would be a nice high, and then a come down that was going to be worse than what he was feeling at the moment. Yet the lure of it was so great. For a while, everything that he felt went away. The things that he had seen were gone. He was alone in his head.

The needle beside it was taunting him. The thing that knowing where the druggies were in the area meant that he could get needles. He could get more Dilaudid. The only thing that he didn’t know was what Tobias had cut the Dilaudid with. That was the only issue, and it was what Spencer needed. There were ways of finding out but to Spencer that meant that he had chosen to do it. He had decided to become something that he never thought he would be.

Spencer grabbed his cell phone and dialed. He didn’t even look to see who he called.

“Reid, I know it’s been a week, but the doctor wants to make sure you are not injured. You are going to have to sit out until you are cleared by a doctor and a psychiatrist. There is nothing I can do.”

“I need help,” Spencer said when Gideon stopped to take a breath.

“Reid?”

“I can’t do this alone. You told me that I could do this. Break this alone. I can’t. I need help.”

“You are not weak, you don’t need help. You can do this alone. You have to do this alone, or you will never be someone who can do this job.”

Spencer dropped the phone and buried his face into his hands. The phone was resting on his foot, but he didn’t care. He reached out for the syringe and went through the motions of tying off his arm and then injecting the Dilaudid into his arm. That first bit of rush from it felt so damned good. He fell back onto the bed as he heard his mother’s voice fading away. Everything was going away.

Everything was better, just like Tobias said it would be. He was happy, and everything was damned good.

Time lost meaning as he laid there and looked up at the ceiling. He looked at the clock at one point, but it wasn’t telling him anything that he understood. He didn’t want the feeling to go away. He had forgotten what it was like to not feel like he was alone. He sighed and looked up again.

The urge to pee came over him, so Spencer got up off the bed. He kicked something and reached down to grab it. It was his phone. Spencer carried it with him to the bathroom. He dropped the phone onto the counter and then walked to take care of his business. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. He felt like moving around. Spencer stopped to wash his hands, and he saw himself in the mirror above the sink. For a few seconds, Spencer thought that Tobias was there, but it was just him. Spencer felt his heart clench, and he grabbed the phone. Spencer dialed another number. One that he knew because even with the drugs rushing through his veins, it was the one number he knew he could call for help. Hotch wasn’t the most gentle person, but he had been serious when he had told Spencer that he could call at any point and he would help him.

It rang and rang, and Spencer was getting ready to hang up when he heard the line connect.

“Hotchner,” Hotch answered. He sounded like he was asleep.

“Hotch, I need help,” Spencer whispered. He looked at the clock in his bedroom that was closest to the night light so he could read it at any point, but there was nothing. No connection in his mind to what the hands were pointing at.

“Where are you?” Hotch asked.

Spencer tried to run the words through his head. He couldn’t tell if Hotch was mad at him. Spencer looked at the clock again. It was nearly midnight, he had been so stupid. Of course, Hotch wasn’t going to help him at midnight. Hotch had a wife and a kid to take care. He didn’t need his stupid team genius to bother him.

“Never mind,” Spencer mumbled into the phone. He set it down and turned it off with a stab of his finger. He walked back to the bedroom. He looked at the nightstand where he had the clean needles and the vials. He walked over to draw out enough to help him sleep. He really needed to sleep. When he woke up, maybe he wouldn’t feel like he was a waste of space.

The rush happened again, but instead of it being weak like he thought it was going to be, given that he hadn’t used that much Dilaudid, it was just as strong, just as wonderful a feeling as before. The room was spinning, so Spencer laid down on the bed just as he started to have a hallucination.

Spencer felt Hotch as the man grabbed him and tried to shake him. He was wearing a pair of jeans that made his ass look fantastic, Spencer saw when the man stopped shaking him and walked toward Spencer’s bathroom. A minute or a year later, Spencer wasn’t sure, Hotch was back with what looked like a glass of water. He didn’t make Spencer drink it. He just dipped his fingers into it and flicked it at his face.

“What? Can’t you just leave me alone?” Spencer demanded. He tried to wave his hand through the hallucination, but he hit something substantial.

“How much did you take?” Hotch asked. His hands reached for the bottles, and Spencer tried to lunge to stop him from getting a hold of them, but he missed by a lot and landed on his face on the floor. It really should have hurt. He felt the hit thud reverberate through his body. There should have been pain, but there was nothing. No pain was left in him. He cared nothing for anything.


Haley Hotchner sat at the breakfast table, and she looked at the book she had bought the week before when she had heard Aaron on the phone in his office talking with Jason. Usually she would have been at her volunteering duties since Aaron was off work and watching Jack, but with Aaron as worried about Doctor Reid as he was and Jason seemingly not worried about him at all, Haley had taken a little extra time while she had gone grocery shopping and stopped at the bookstore. She had no clue what she had gone into there for, but when she had explained that she wanted to be more understanding and accepting about her husband’s job, the person who was helping her handed her several books.

The book was very interesting, and it was written by a group of wives of soldiers, other federal agents, and even just plain everyday cops.

Aaron’s life was fully open to Haley. They had discussed it all in a marriage therapy session when the first time that Haley had brought up kids, Aaron had been upset about wanting them. Haley had thought that Aaron did want them, but then he had backtracked. It had not been a happy time in their marriage. They had worked through that issue. The issue at hand now was that Aaron spent too much time at work, Haley thought.

Haley sighed and stood up to refresh her cup of tea from the teapot. The pot itself was gorgeous, hand made and hand-painted with lilies all over it. Haley’s favorite flower. It had been an anniversary gift from Aaron. Haley liked to make tea in it and then drink it as the pot did well at keeping the tea warm enough for her to drink the whole pot. There was a cupboard full of teas. It was something that Haley had started just after they got married, collecting the teas that she liked. She drank them all; it was just never all of one kind in a row to get rid of it. There was a shop near her favorite market that did loose leaf blends of teas. Haley adored that place a great deal. She found teas for every single mood there.

The page in the book that she was on had Haley feeling like shit. It was the chapter on what spouses, partners, even friends could do to help make the job be easier for their loved one, and Haley realized that she had not been doing any of it. She had actually been doing the opposite. Which was not allowing Aaron to talk to her at all about the job. He didn’t get to unwind as much as he wanted because he couldn’t expel the demons. His morning runs were something that he used to do three to four times a week, now he was doing them every day. He was thinking of going from doing a few short marathons a year to doing a triathlon. Haley would support him if he did, but Haley was pretty sure it was all about control and him releasing that stress from the job in a different way.

Aaron had been gone and had texted her a few short texts about how he was taking Doctor Reid somewhere he could get help. Haley knew that Aaron had been worried about the younger man. Even Haley was after being abducted and tortured at the hands of the man they had just been chasing.

If there was one thing that Haley knew about Aaron Hotchner, it was that he had a will of steel and if Haley wanted to keep him in her life, in Jack’s life as much as possible she had to change what she wanted out of him. Outside of moments like this, Aaron gave her and Jack all of his attention when he was with them. He didn’t think about work when he was home unless work intruded. Haley wanted to be mad at the young genius who had disrupted their life the night before, but if Aaron was the only person that he trusted to get him through this, Haley couldn’t fault him. Aaron was one of the best men in the world, and if Haley remembered correctly, Doctor Reid’s mother was in an institution. Haley tried to remember if Aaron had mentioned anything about a father, but there was nothing. Either the man’s father was long gone out of his life, or he was dead. Aaron would never tell her things that were said to him in confidence, but the mother being in an institution was something that had come up during the case that she had taken Jack to a hotel for.

Haley walked over to grab the cordless phone from the wall and dialed her sister’s number by heart.

“Hello,” Jessica said.

“Hey, Jess.”

“Hales, what’s wrong?”

“I think I’ve been messing up.”

“I’m three blocks away. I was heading to see you anyway.”

“Okay. The kitchen door is unlocked.” Haley set down the phone and looked at the book again. She sighed and closed it up before taking it back to the living room. She filled up a second cup with tea and added a little sugar like Jessica liked and set it down on the table. Haley let her mind wander as she made another cup of tea.

“Where’s Aaron?” Jessica asked as she opened the door. She stopped her feet a little to get the light snow off of them before she hung up her coat on the hook behind the door.

“One of the team is having a hard time coping with torture at the hands of an UnSub. He’s where he needs to be.” Haley observed Jessica’s face as she said the words. Jessica’s eyes widened a great deal as she took in Haley’s words.

“He’s not here with you,” Jessica pointed out.

“No, he’s not, but he’s still team lead, and Jason is not stepping up to help the other agent. Aaron texted and told me that the agent spilled that Gideon told him that he could do it on his own and expected him to do it that way.”

“It’s that young one isn’t it? The Doctor?” Jessica sat down and picked up her tea.

“Yes.”

“I know that Aaron was worried about him after that one case when you had to stay at the hotel just to be safe.”

“He’s an only child. I don’t know about the father, and the mother is not able to help herself much less him. I don’t know if he has much of a support system outside of the team. I can see why Aaron’s worried. He’s about the same age as Sean.”

Jessica looked like she understood a little more now. Haley was glad because it had been when she had made that connection that she had understood as well.

“That explains a lot.”

“It does. I know I’ve been…a bitch about all of this. Aaron’s job. I agreed when he took the BAU job, and I was glad when he made it all the way up to take Jason’s place when he went on medical leave, but after hearing Aaron talk to Jason and then someone else on the phone about the case, I’ve realized something. I am making him shut himself off. I’ve cut him off too many times when he’s tried to just talk about his day. I know that he’s got a hard job and he’s not in a good place.”

‘What have you done with my sister?” Jessica asked.

“I’m being serious. He wants to be here, and he wants to be there. I know you remember his mother.”

“I hated that woman before Mister Hotchner died.”

“I was so happy that day, inside. I hated what Aaron was going through, but I was glad that he was dead. Aaron was so scared of him. I was scared of any kids we would have if they were around either of them. She got better after a while but then she died of cirrhosis of the liver. She drank instead of protecting her kids.”

“Kid,” Jessica pointed out.

Haley nodded her head because she knew what her sister meant by that, and it was that the elder Hotchner man never raised a hand or his voice to the youngest Hotchner child. Aaron was the child that tried his best to follow his father’s footsteps, and he had never got a damned thing. Haley looked at the baby monitor. The light was still on, which meant that Jack was just taking a longer nap than average, which Haley figured was a good thing. He might make it up to see his father come home.

“I’m still shocked you aren’t mad at Aaron for leaving.”

“He’s called to talk to Jason nearly every single day for a few minutes about Doctor Reid, and then last night Doctor Reid called. I heard Aaron ask where he was, and then Aaron slammed the phone down. Doctor Reid had hung up on him.”

“That doesn’t seem like Doctor Reid. He was always so kind the few times I’ve met him at functions where the team has been invited.”

“I know. Aaron was worried. He left in his pajamas and just took his go-bag with him to change into other clothes. Aaron’s taking him somewhere to get help.”

“Oh, then he’s-” Jessica cut off and looked down at her wrist.

“I don’t think so. I heard Aaron tell Jason that the UnSub had an issue with Dilaudid. Aaron’s not said that the drugs were shared with Doctor Reid. It didn’t seem like he had slit his wrists or anything like that.”

“Overdose. If he was given it on the case though, there has to be documentation.”

The sound of the front door opening had Haley getting up and rushing into where Aaron was. He looked like he had aged a few years. Haley threw her arms around and hugged him tightly. Aaron hugged her back just as tight.

“I’m not here for long. I’ve got him settled, and they are doing intake. I need to get changed into one of my suits and go about fixing this fucking mess that Jason made.”

“Jason made?” Haley asked.

“Reid told me that the doctor’s checked him over for drugs, but he doesn’t know why it’s not in the official paperwork. So I have to call and get that fixed and then make sure that the FBI is going to pay for Reid’s rehab.”

“So it was drugs?”

“The UnSub gave it to him over the time that he had him. It’s not a physical addiction but the start of a mental one. It makes his brain quiet. I’m going to make sure that the FBI does right by him in this. He never would have come in contact with the drugs if it wasn’t for this job. He should have had help from the start, and I need to figure out why he hasn’t.”

“You do what you need to do to take care of him. Jack and I’ll be fine right here while you do that. Jessica said that she would help if I need it.” Haley looked at her sister, and she saw that Jessica gave her a wink. Meaning that she agreed to it, even though Jessica had said nothing of the kind before.

Aaron was looking at her with a profound look of shock. Haley knew that they would need to talk about all of this but not right now. Aaron needed to focus on Doctor Reid.

“Go get a shower and get changed. I’ll make you a sandwich, and you are eating it before you leave. Jack’s asleep but go give him a kiss.” Haley turned Aaron around and forced him to the stairs. Aaron went willingly as there was no way that Haley would ever be able to do that without him allowing her to. When she was sure that he wasn’t going to come back down, she went to the kitchen. She popped a bagel down into the toaster and grabbed a few things from the fridge and freezer. The first was an egg puck that she had frozen a while back, in the perfect size to go on the bagel. The next was bacon and cheese from the fridge. She stuck the bacon in the microwave to warm it up, and when it was all ready, she assembled it, adding two slices of cheese to it.

Aaron was coming down the stairs just as the coffee was finishing brewing, his hair was a little wet but gelled down to his head, and he looked pretty damned put together for no sleep. Jessica was sitting at the kitchen table with the cup of tea, trying not to seem like she was eavesdropping.

“Thank you,” Aaron said before he took a bite of the bagel sandwich.

Haley fixed him a cup of coffee to go that was the way he liked it which was black with a little sugar but made him a cup to drink there that had a little milk splashed into it as well so that he could drink it down before he left. Aaron ate the sandwich without even pausing to breathe it seemed, and he washed it all down with the cup of coffee.

“What do you need from me?” Haley asked.

“This right here. I will be home for dinner, I promise that. I just need to make sure that he is taken care of.”

“You take care of him. You have supported me through my second round of college so that I can have a career I love when Jack’s in school and I can have the time to devote to it. You’ve supported me through not wanting to have a job while Jack is growing up so I can be the one to raise him. I will support you through all of this. I promise.”

Aaron gave her that look like he didn’t believe her but that he had hope. Haley gave him a supportive smile.

“I need to go. I don’t want to rush, but I need to. I have a short window I can catch who I need to catch.”

“Then go.” Haley kissed his cheeks before handing him his coffee. Aaron was gone in a few seconds, and then Haley was alone with Jessica.

“You’ve had a turnaround, sister,” Jessica said.

“I don’t want to lose him. If I demand he quits, I will lose him. He was already less tense about everything just from me telling him all of that. He’s supported me through every single decision I have made since we got together. I want a career in history, I can do that. I want to change after we have a few failures at producing a kid, he’s okay with that as well and makes sure that I can take whatever classes I want to figure out what I want to do.”

“You two love each other so much,” Jessica said just before Haley took a seat at the table to drink her now room temperature tea. “I would hate to see you two break up over his job. You knew that he was dedicated when you married him. Look at the ups and downs in college with you two in the same state. He put his education first because it was going to give you the life that he wants to give you. This job does the same but also fills that need inside of himself to do good in the world after the mark his father left.”

“I would love to kill that bastard myself,” Haley said. She knew that Jessica had always tried to stay on her side. She had bit her tongue a few times to stop herself from probably saying precisely what she was saying now. Haley kind of hated that about her, but it was something that their father had instilled in her. Haley had taken a long look at herself after a fight a few years ago between them. Haley could understand a little more about her sister after it as well. Jessica was Aaron, except their father wasn’t physically or mentally abusive. He was a little bit emotional. He withheld affection from Jessica if she messed up in the slightest while praising everything that Haley did right up until Haley married Aaron. Jessica never did anything good enough for their father. Jessica had long stopped caring though, and it was what had started the fight between them. Aaron had mediated it, and Haley had disliked him for a little bit because he had been impartial. He hadn’t taken a side at all.

“We would all love to kill him ourselves. We never knew what happened when it mattered. That first time you two were fighting around me, and you clenched your fists and took a step toward him. He looked like a scared little boy, and that’s a look I never want to see on his face again.”

“No. It wasn’t good. What are you doing off today?” Haley asked.

“Software upgrades at work. I wanted to see if you wanted to do lunch out with me then we can get those clothes for Jack you’ve been wanting to go shopping for.”

“That sounds great. We can stop at the store on the way back so that I can get things for dinner. I want to make sure Aaron has a delicious meal for dinner since he’s probably going to grab something that’s bad for him for lunch.”

“The way that man can put away cheeseburgers when he’s stressed still shocks me,” Jessica said. She was smiling. Trying to turn the mood a little lighter.

“I want you to make me a promise, Jessie,” Haley said. She waited for Jessica to nod before she continued. “If something ever happens to me, no matter what you take care of my boys, won’t you?”

“I will.”

Haley nodded her head and let the thoughts of not being in Aaron’s life wash away. She was going to put on a happy face and fake it until she could make it as far as that was concerned. She was anxious about Doctor Reid though. She wondered if there were books about helping friends through addiction. Even if it wasn’t a physical one, it might still help. She hoped that Jessica didn’t mind stopping at the bookstore.

Chapter 2

Aaron settled in at his desk with a sigh. He really didn’t want to be doing this, but he had to. Most of the unit was out with the team being on stand down still after the case for psych evals and just downtime. The rest of the teams were already on cases. It was quiet, which was precisely what Aaron needed. The case files, even Reid’s, were on his desk. He knew that the team was going to complete them at home and then drop them off. Usually, JJ would run around and collect them before taking them to the DC office where they were couriered down to Quantico, but this wasn’t in that. Someone had put them on his desk. He hoped it was JJ, but he could see her doing that. Making sure that things were exact and precise in a little bit of control of her life after everything. There was also the printed report that showed that Reid had nothing in his blood. There wasn’t the actual tox screen report, just a summary. That Aaron was a little suspicious about. He found the number for the service that the ER doctors used and called it. He left the phone on speaker as he was alone and his door was shut.

The lady, on the other end, answered with the name of the hospital and asked how she could help him.

“Yes, I’m looking to speak to Doctor-” Aaron looked at the paper. “Tico.”

“May I ask what this concerns?”

“My name is Aaron Hotchner, I’m the Unit Chief for the FBI’s BAU team. One of my agents was seen by him a week ago. There are some issues with the report that I was sent. I think some papers are missing.” Aaron knew to lead with that than to accuse. He had a feeling he knew exactly what was going on, and he didn’t like it.

“Oh, yes. Hold on. He’s just getting ready to start his next shift.”

That was an admission of guilt more than anything, Aaron thought. If the doctor was expecting a call.

“Agent Hotchner, I’m going to transfer you to Doctor Tico’s office. Please hold again for me.”

“Yes, thank you.” Aaron looked at the report again. There was a lot withheld because of patient confidentiality, but there were things that were not. Reid’s standard blood panel results were not there, and so it was going to be easy to have it that those were kept away on accident with the wrong set of files sent.

“Agent Hotchner?” a male voice asked.

“Yes. Is this Doctor Tico?” Aaron asked.

“Yes. Thank you for calling. Is this being recorded?”

“No, Sir. This is an unrecorded line due to the nature of the call.”

“Good. I’ve been debating calling, but I was afraid that I would get Agent Gideon again and I wasn’t sure of the names of anyone else on the team.”

“What have you been wanting to call about?”

“Agent, excuse me Doctor Reid’s visit. While working on the file that I was going to be sending with Agent Gideon and then faxing the rest later, I was talked into something that I don’t agree with. I will gladly take the censure about it and deal with the fallout.”

“Tell me everything.” Aaron felt his gut clench. He was right that Jason had been the one to suppress the drugs that had been given to him. Aaron wasn’t sure that he wanted to know more than that, but he needed to.

“Agent Gideon was very persuasive, and it wasn’t until afterward that the report on the deceased UnSub, I think Agent Gideon called him, was attached to Doctor Reid’s file that I started to worry. Prolonged evidence of the same drugs that were in Doctor Reid’s system. Doctor Reid went through the first parts of the quick withdrawal from the Dilaudid, but it’s the other that bothers me. Mescaline and your Doctor Reid seemed…more mentally than physically dependent on it.”

“I know how Agent Gideon can be, Doctor. Let’s chalk it up to you messed up the paperwork sent and didn’t send it all. Fax me over what is the correct and your hesitance will never need to be discussed with my bosses. The FBI will take care of Doctor Reid’s issues stemming from being held against his will and drugged. We have video of the conditions that he was held in as well as the way he was restrained. He had no way of actually stopping the UnSub from injecting him.”

“Is he okay?”

“He called me to help him when he couldn’t fight the craving of oblivion that the drugs gave him. I have checked him into a care facility, and once I have everything worked out to make sure that he is taken care of, I’m going to go and visit with him.”

“I failed him, and I hate that. He could have been in there from the start. Whatever recompense he wants when he’s stable, I will do.”

“Doctor Tico, I promise you that Doctor Reid will not want you to do anything other than never do it again to anyone.”

“He’s a kinder man than I.”

“He doesn’t hold grudges. He’s going to be told about what Agent Gideon did, and then he’s going to forgive him. I’m not sure he’ll ever forget, and he won’t trust him again, but he will forgive. He does that a lot it seems. As far as I know, it’s not in his nature for him to hold grudges for very long at all.”

“That’s good, but that’s not someone who will do well.”

“That’s why he has us, his team, Doctor. He’s learning, and where he can’t, we help.”

“If you need anything else from me, Agent Hotchner just let me know. The service knows to get you to me unless I’m with a patient. Do call and let me know how he does. Nothing breaking on the trust front but just…I’ve been worried.”

Aaron agreed, gave the fax number to his personal office, said his goodbyes, and hung up. He worked on getting his file in order so that he could talk to AD Richmond before going any further up the chain. The man was very much by the books like Aaron was, but he also knew that humans were creatures that needed to be handled with care. Aaron knew a lot about the man’s personal life that he probably shouldn’t, but he did, and he was going to bank on that.

Five minutes later, his fax machine whirred up. The first was a cover page and then what followed was the entire file on Reid that the FBI needed. Aaron added it to the back of the file and got ready to head up. He filled his cup with coffee from the pot that someone had made, probably night staff before they left but he wasn’t that sure.

AD Richmond was in his office with the door open, and his assistant was nowhere to be seen. Aaron knocked on his door and stepped in when he was beckoned inside. He shut the door behind him two, which got a raised eyebrow.

“Hotch, come on in. Lindsay went to get a snack so I told him to just go and I would handle anyone who came in. That’s a big file.” Richmond’s eyes grew a lot in size when he saw the file. Aaron took a seat when he was waved to do so.

“Well, Sir. I wasn’t sure how much had made it up to you about the newest case my team was on.”

“Jason has kept me apprised and told me today that Agent Reid is recovering well and will be ready to come back to work when his medical leave is over for his foot.”

“I see. Well, I’m sorry to say that he won’t be ready to return to work then as he will still be going through treatment for the drugs that Hankel injected him with.”

“My report I was given by Jason did not-.” Richmond stopped and started to dig through a pile of folders to find the one that he wanted. He flipped through it and looked. “Yes, this report from the doctor that treated him in Georgia doesn’t have anything like this in it.”

“This is the part where what I am going to say needs to be kept off the books. As it were. Jason talked the doctor into leaving it off as he didn’t think the FBI needed to know because Reid was strong enough to make it through and beat the drugs on his own. If that had been anyone else on the team, Sir. I would agree, and it’s not because of Reid’s age that I am disagreeing. The alter inside of Hankel that was his father believed in honoring thy father above all other tenants of the Bible. That was why Hankel ended up killing him when he got sick, Charles demanded it. In the course of torturing Reid, he found out that Reid had put his mother in Bennington despite her wishes.”

“Honor thy mother, and in Charles’s eyes, Reid had not done that.”

“Tobias Hankel tried to help in the only way that he knew how to escape, which was Dilaudid cut with Mescaline.”

“Shit. And that’s what he injected into Reid?”

“It shut down his mind, he hallucinated yes but the parts of his brain that keep going back to think if he did the right thing for his mother keeps on going full throttle, except when he’s on the drugs. He called Gideon last night, and Gideon refused to help him. Thankfully, he called me next, and I was able to get to him before he took enough to overdose. He’s currently at a medical facility close to my house that does good work with patients who are not always physically dependent on the drugs but more mentally.”

“It was a perfect storm. So close to the case where his mother could have been a target, the torture, and memories that it brought back. That’s the term you use in the BAU. Yes, perfect storm when too much bad shit happens in a period of time to allow things to happen? Usually UnSubs.”

“Yes, Sir. A perfect storm. Reid wants help, and he doesn’t think he can do it on his own.”

“Give me the facility name and did you sign him in under Reid or a fake name?”

“His own. The FBI is going to take care of this. It’s not our fault that the report submitted by Reid while he was high didn’t mention it and the doctor got mixed up and did not send all of the paperwork needed. That’s what this file is. The doctor has realized what he did and submitted the full paperwork as well as what was in Reid’s system and made sure that I had it.”

“That’s a damned good thing,” Richmond said. The wink he gave told Aaron that he understood what Aaron was doing there. Aaron did not want the doctor to be harmed, he took care of it in his own time but then if better checks were happening on all of his paperwork when it came to the government, Aaron couldn’t help that.

“I was going to go and see him as soon as I was done here, making sure that his stay was covered. I mean he got the drugs injected into him while he was strapped to a chair. I don’t have his final report, just the verbal one given to Jason in the ER. It was pretty emotional for all of us that day. I can understand things being looked over.”

“I don’t like the fact that it was pushed under the rug but Gideon. I know that he’s old school but so am I and I still know that agents who are given drugs against their will are treated better than being shoved into their apartments and left behind to either get over it alone or do something stupid. He at least stopped himself from doing something stupid.”

“What are you going to do?”

“While you are with Reid at the facility, I want you to write up a full report. Everything. Don’t let him lie. I want to know what he knows. If he doesn’t know that the doctor was talked into not giving it up by Gideon, then that’s fine but off the record isn’t going to cut it. I will make sure that the doctor isn’t named, but it will all go through, and all of this will be on Gideon’s head.”

“Sir?”

“There have been a few discussions behind closed doors that he’s not as stable as we thought he was after coming back from the Bale bombing. Your report was as unbiased as it can be, but even you wanted him watched closer. You are Unit Chief in full name again, Hotch. I am putting your team on stand down for another week while we figure things out.”

“Sir?”

“If Reid hadn’t got a hold of you, he would have come back and been using. I know you’ve not tried to outright say that, but we both know that it’s true. Gideon has that on his head and no one else’s. Reid was compromised between the torture and the drugs. He was not making good decisions, and he acquired drugs from somewhere. We need to find out where.”

“Hankel’s dead body, Sir. He told me that when I was driving him to the facility. I am not sure he will remember that, but the bottles that he had were not that used, and I think that he was trying really hard not to use and then when Gideon told him to deal on his own, he caved. I think he would have held out a great deal longer if not for that.”

“I see. Well, I’ll make note that we don’t have to worry about him being caught up in a drug bust by locals. Whatever you need to take care of him or if he needs anything at all, we will make it happen. Even if it’s a flight to and from Vegas for his mother. If Strauss starts to push back, please let me know. She’s being looked at as well for some issues. I’ve got a few things going that will make sure that we have a Section Chief in the BAU that actually knows what they are doing. Strauss’s issues are far-reaching, and it’s not good.”

“I don’t like speaking out of turn, and you know that, Sir.”

“It’s not your unit so far that she is having issues with. It’s others with less seasoned leaders. One of the junior members actually wrote up a report about the last time that she went out with them and insulted an officer on the case. The officer wrote up the report, and it was sent up the chain. I don’t know if she’s worried about one of the team leaders gunning for her job or she’s just not used to the work. We will find out. Gideon told us that he was handling it, but I think it might be best to have someone else do it.”

“I think so, Sir.” This wasn’t what Aaron wanted, but he could understand the issues at hand. The FBI needed to cover their ass and Gideon had done something that the FBI didn’t like. Aaron didn’t like it, but he didn’t want Gideon to lose his job because of it. Still, it wasn’t going to be good for the unit, and it was going to be watched closely for a while. Aaron just hoped that Strauss stepped up. He thought that she could be an excellent Section Chief if she just stopped trying to push around men like Aaron. If Aaron wanted that job, there wasn’t a lot that would stop him, but he didn’t want the politics of that job. He hated the politics that he had to do for the current job that he had, one that was going to get worse now that he was going to be the Unit Chief fully.


Spencer looked around his room. It was a nice room, and there was a bookshelf that he could put a lot of books on. He had already been promised supervised visits to the library that was closest as well as a library card for there so that he wouldn’t be bored. That had shocked him as Hotch had made sure they understood that his brain wasn’t good when it didn’t have a task. The place was nice, and Spencer was glad that Hotch brought him there, now that he was mostly lucid. He was very embarrassed that he had woken up Hotch from sleep and pulled him away from not only his wife but his son as well. Haley had to hate him.

The whole team knew that things were not well in the Hotchner household. They had all heard Haley giving Hotch a yelling at least once. Spencer had heard it more as Hotch had been rooming with him the last few times that they needed to room together. He had not asked why as he usually was stuck with Morgan while Gideon and Hotch roomed together.

Spencer had tried to hide in the bathroom to get away from the conversation but that never worked because usually, Hotch wanted in there at some point to either use the bathroom, which still kind of freaked Spencer out or to start getting ready to go to bed. Hotch really didn’t need to worry about Spencer and coming to see him. Spencer picked up the simple pen and paper that he had been given. That had been a shock for him when he had been shown his room. There were several notepads and a pack of cheap pens. There were also envelopes and enough stamps for a letter a day during his stay there. He had been told that he would be there at a minimum of seven weeks, but more could happen if he wasn’t doing well and wasn’t being stubborn on the healing.

Fear was the first emotion that Spencer felt. He knew that everything was going to come out. His entire childhood, the abuse he had suffered at the hands of his fellow students. He was probably going to be there for longer than seven weeks. Spencer didn’t care to work through it, he had learned methods to cope with it all, and he had made the best of his life, but it wasn’t going to be enough for whatever therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist was going to be working with him.

Spencer wrote out a long thank you to Hotch and told him that he would do his best to make sure that he was able to join the team as soon as possible. He also wrote that Hotch needed to take care of himself and his wife and son and not worry about Spencer.

Sealing up the letter, Spencer wrote Hotch’s name on it and walked to the door. He opened it up. He was told that he had the run of the place, but he didn’t quite trust that yet. Spencer started down the hall to his left. He didn’t remember much at all of the outside when Hotch had brought him in. He didn’t know if the place was big, little, or even just medium-sized. He didn’t know if it was one story or two.

“Oh, Doctor Reid,” a man said as he came around a corner and stopped with a smile on his face.

Spencer froze up and clutched the letter to his chest. He didn’t want to let go of it, but he also didn’t know what else to do. He had been caught outside of his room.

“Are you hungry?”

Spencer shook his head. He knew that he was starting to feel the effects of not having the Dilaudid in his system. His letter had got a little shaky at the end. He just hoped that Hotch didn’t mind that.

“Okay, then do you want to go to the library? I have a map here. The man who brought you in said that you love maps and would feel better about this place if you knew where everything was from reading a map.” The man started to walk closer to Spencer and held out a folded sheet of paper. Spencer took a step, but he put too much weight on his hurt foot and cried out a little before stepping back. He had been doing well, walking on his heel more than rolling his foot to the ball.

“Do you need Advil for that?” the man asked.

“No, I just stepped wrong.” Spencer eyed the man as he stopped just about a foot away from Spencer. “Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” The man had a crestfallen look on his face. He didn’t look upset at Spencer but at himself. “My name is Marco. Doctor Marco Freya. I’m the resident psychologist for this facility.”

“I know that someone had to have told me where I was, but I was…not in a good spot right then.”

“No, no, you weren’t. Agent Hotchner did well to bring you here when he did. Your body hadn’t built up the full need for the Dilaudid or the Mescaline.”

“That’s what else was in the mix?” Spencer asked. He hadn’t asked before at the hospital before he had been discharged.

“Yes. We can go over that more in three days.”

“Three days?”

“Oh, yes. We want you to feel settled here. The first two full days are you coming off of what you took and getting used to this place so that will start tomorrow. Though if you need to talk, my office door is open unless I am with someone. Though usually, I go to their rooms. They feel safer that way, and I don’t mind at all.”

“How much does this place cost?”

“You don’t need to worry about that. Agent Hotchner said that since you were drugged in the line of duty that the FBI would be taking care of it. All you need to worry about is getting better.”

Spencer wasn’t sure that even Hotch could make the FBI pay for this. Spencer had flashes of Gideon, making the doctor cover-up that he had been given drugs. He wasn’t sure that he was even going to have a job with the FBI anymore when he got out of there.

“I think I want to go back to my room. Can you give this to whoever talks to people who come in for visits and give this to Hotch when he gets here?” Spencer knew that Hotch would keep his word on coming back, it just might take a little bit for him to get there. He was the one person that Spencer could count on no matter what. Spencer had found it almost too comfortable in the beginning to trust him. He had distrusted that and turned to Gideon. However, after Boston, the trust that Spencer had in Gideon was gone. It wasn’t Boston itself that had done it but how Gideon had been after he had come back to the team. And then especially what had happened when Spencer had called him for help.

“I sure can. Do you want the map?” The man held it out with one hand, and the other was ready to take the letter to Hotch.

Spencer handed over the letter and took the map before clutching that to his chest.

“I’ll go take this up there. If you pick up your phone in your room and dial 7, you will be connected with my assistant. She can find me wherever I am, and I can come and talk to you. Now there is one thing. I was bringing you the map, but I also wanted to ask a question about who you wanted to be allowed to come and see you. Or if you wanted anyone on the no-go list. It can be changed at any point in time, so just think about it if you can’t think of someone.”

“Sure, I will.” Spencer turned around and headed back to his room. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do. The library sounded good, but he wasn’t sure that he would be interested in reading what they had. Though he was sure that it was mostly mainstream fiction. Spencer went for older books, fantasy, and science fiction ones. He had never been inside of a place like this to know if they stocked those kinds of books. He was sure that books had to be approved before they were stocked in the library.

Spencer opened up the map to see that it wasn’t a normal map at all. It looked like a layout used just in case law enforcement needed to get inside. It was a mix between blueprints and something else. Some parts were marked out and changed like the names on who was in what office. The patient rooms were all marked with numbers, and there were no names. There was a star by the one that Spencer was in with the words “You Are Here” written in red pen. Spencer settled into the desk and looked at the map, learning it all. Including where Doctor Freya’s office was located. There was also a courtyard that was enclosed by the entire facility so that they could get some fresh air without being supervised. Spencer ran his finger over the name of every single room. It was a single-story building that was spread over a large area. Spencer wondered how he had never seen it before. He looked at the top corner to see that the name of the facility was there. Freedom Center was the name. The name was one that Spencer had noticed before when he was going around the town on the bus, but he had never looked into what it was.

DC and its environs were full of a lot of places, and while Spencer would like to say that he knew where everything in the city was, he had never tried to learn that. He wondered if he could talk JJ or Morgan into getting him detailed maps of the city so he could learn that while he was here. He would have a lot of time on his hands.

Spencer looked around his room and saw the closet. He was in a pair of scrubs until clothes could be brought for him. He had been told that Hotch was going to handle that. There was a place to wash and dry the clothes as it was a facility that tried to mimic most of the day to day life that people had. The linens were washed by the facility. By a larger, more industrial washer and dryer set that was in the basement. He saw the small inlay in the map that showed the underground that was just in the central area of the facility. It was spread out like hexagon with the patient rooms all making up the outside ring with the communal areas in the middle. It was a beautiful layout. There was a set of washers and dryers in each hall for the patients. Everyone had a day rotation of when they could use them as there were only two washers and two dryers. Spencer had read about that in the brochure that was in his room. He was Wednesdays. There were times for emergency use of them like for blankets that were brought from home and something got spilled on it.

There was no way to make your own food, but there was a menu that Spencer would order from for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It had to be done the day before, but today there would be special accommodations made for Spencer. There was a daily special that ran by the month, and Spencer had looked at what was being served that day, and it would do well enough for him. The only really good thing about that was that there was a coffee pot in Spencer’s room. He could make it at any point that he wanted. There were a few packs of small-batch coffee there beside the pot, but the rest would have to be bought by him. He was quite happy with that. He would be able to go shopping in a few days.

Spencer used the paper for letters to make a shopping list up. He would see about asking JJ to go shopping for him. It was a strange thing to have to depend on anyone. He hadn’t had anyone to depend on in a long time. He wasn’t sure that he was going to like doing this. He had been in charge of his life for a long time. Even when he had still been considered a child, he had never relied on anyone after his father had left. Having to have every single second of his day accounted for was going to be hard. He was sure that it was going to hinder the way that he healed up while here. Even within the FBI and working in the BAU, he had a lot of autonomy. He was good at what he didn’t, so Hotch didn’t watch him that close anymore. Hotch knew roughly where he was, and that was good enough for the man.

The closet was just as empty as Spencer thought it was going to be, but there was his messenger bag hanging on the door. Spencer pulled that down and looked inside of it. It was very evident that Hotch had gone through it. Spencer’s Swiss Army knife was gone, but there was a huge book that Spencer had bought but hadn’t had the chance to read yet. There were also a few power bars. Spencer wasn’t hungry yet, and he knew that he probably would be until he was over with the withdrawal from the drugs he had taken. He grabbed one of the bars he didn’t like as well and opened it before taking a bite. If he threw it up, it would be better than the other that he did like. He tucked the book to his chest before walking over toward the bed to curl up on it and read. He sighed in happiness as he got into the book.

Spencer wasn’t sure how much time had passed as he laid on the bed and read his book before he heard a knock on the door. He was distracted by the book and didn’t answer until the second knock happened. It was a little louder and more insistent.

“Come in,” Spencer called out. He looked at the door but didn’t get up. His body was aching a little, and he was hungry and tired. He felt like if it weren’t for his aching and the hunger, he would fall asleep on the bed.

The door opened, and it was Hotch. The letter was in his hand, unopened. There were also two bags in one hand and what looked like one of Hotch’s bigger go-bags thrown over his shoulder.

“I know you don’t pack a lot of bulky things on cases, so I used one of my older bags for cold-weather gear. I got you two weeks worth of clothes that will be comfortable to wear. I am sorry that I did have to go through your sock and underwear drawers. You don’t have your socks paired up, so I just grabbed enough socks for three weeks. Underwear is the same.” Hotch set the bag down on the floor in front of the closet so Spencer could put his things up.

There was a small dresser right next to the closet so that Spencer could put his underwear and socks somewhere. Spencer wasn’t sure how he felt about Hotch going through his things, but it wasn’t like Hotch would take liberties with that. He was an upstanding man who had a lot of rules in his own way of life.

Spencer watched as Hotch slipped the letter into his jacket pocket now that he had an arm free to move it around enough to do that. The other two bags were settled on the bed, and Spencer remembered that he should probably sit up or something. As he sat up, his stomach growled. He looked at the power bar he had eaten, and it was all gone. He didn’t really remember finishing it off. He smelled Pad Thai noodles and noticed that one of the bags that Hotch had set down on the bed was steaming. Hotch had probably grabbed himself a meal of some kind to eat since he wasn’t going to make it home for dinner on time. He knew that Haley was pretty strict on eating times.

“Thank you, but you didn’t have to do this. I was going to have JJ do it tomorrow. After asking her today.” Spencer tried to remember if his cell phone had been in his messenger bag, but it hadn’t been. He frowned.

“Your work phone is in my safekeeping, and I’ll make sure to forward anything. I know you’ve made contacts and talk to them using it. I’ll let them know you are unavailable. Your personal cell phone is at the front desk. This facility is pretty lax, and you’ll be able to use it whenever you want, but you have to do that in communal areas. It’s not allowed in your room for at least four weeks.”

“Ah.” Spencer wondered how he could get around being in the communal areas as much as possible. It would probably be frowned upon.

Hotch pulled the chair from the desk over and settled it at the corner of the bed and reached into the bag and pulled out a plastic fork before handing it over to Spencer. A pair of chopsticks was next; then three different food containers. He popped the first one, and Spencer saw it was potstickers. The sauce was in there as well. Hotch opened that next. He snagged a potsticker with his sticks and dipped it into the sauce before near, tossing it into his mouth.

When Hotch noticed that Spencer wasn’t eating, he moved over the potstickers a little closer to him.

“I’m not-” Spencer stopped talking when Hotch glared at him.

“I heard your stomach growl, Reid. I know that you don’t like it when people take care of you, but for right now you are going to have to suck that up.” Hotch laid down the chopsticks and pulled his personal cell phone from his pocket. He opened up something and turned around the phone to where Spencer could read it. Spencer read over the text exchange between Hotch and Mrs. Hotchner.

“Oh,” Spencer said when he got to the end as there were strict instructions there that Hotch needed to eat dinner with Spencer that she was going out for the evening with Jessica and that their earlier plans were changed to the next night. “I’m sorry.”

“What are you sorry for? You have Haley worried.”

“She’s worried about me?” Spencer asked. He did grab a potsticker with his fork and dipped it into the sauce before eating it. It was from the really good place that did a mix of Asiatic foods. Spencer liked to eat there because he could eat to suit his tastes and not have to go to three different places.

“She is. She was worried about you from the moment you called. You don’t contact me outside of work, so that alone was something of a red flag. I told her a little about broad things to help keep her calm. If she’s worked up, Jack is and then it’s a never-ending cycle of them both working each other up to histrionics. So I promised I would eat dinner with you when I left your apartment, and I called her.”

“What about my bills? Most are automatic, but my rent is not.”

“I talked with your landlord, and he’s going to mail the reminder to me, and I’ll pay it. When you get out, you can pull the money out and give it to me. It won’t break me, paying your rent for two or three months.”

“I can write a check, and you can go cash it each month you don’t need to do that.”

“I’m not allowed to bring your checkbook in here. You can’t have access to money like that. You are allowed your debit or credit card to use for shopping for supplies, but your chaperone will make sure that you don’t draw out extra.”

“Oh, yeah.” Spencer had forgotten about that end of things.

“I don’t mind doing it. If I did, I would be doing something else. If an emergency arises, things can be done but for how your life is on hold.”

“You could take my debit card and get a money order for the amount.” Spencer didn’t like owing people money at all. He frowned and tried to figure out the most straightforward way that it could be done, but there was nothing that was more simple than Hotch’s way of doing it. Spencer slumped down and ate another potsticker.

There was silence as they finished off the appetizer of the meal before Hotch handed over the Pad Thai for Spencer and it looked like Hotch had got General Tso’s shrimp.

Spencer wasn’t sure what to say at all. Hotch had obviously not read the letter, or he would have left again, maybe leaving the food for Spencer for dinner but probably not. He was sure that Mrs. Hotchner ate it. He had seen her eat things close to Pad Thai when they used to do a team plus family meal a few times in the year before.

“Are you ready to talk?” Hotch asked.

“Ready? No, but we better get it over with.”

Spencer looked down to see that he had eaten all of his food, which wasn’t strange for him but he hadn’t noticed eating it all. He frowned but shrugged his shoulders. Hotch cleaned up all of the food and settled back in the chair. Spencer didn’t really want to be sitting on the bed for this, but he was going to have to as the reading chair was too far away and he didn’t have to have to make Hotch move.

“AD Richmond has been made aware of all aspects of this, Reid. He’s going to watch things closely and make sure that you are recovering well. Your spot on the team is yours no matter how this really goes and how long it takes. I want you on my team, and this right here has proven that you are a strong man. You asked for help when you never have before. We don’t need to get into why you have never asked for help before but just know that my trust in you has not diminished.”

Spencer wasn’t sure what to say to that. He was a little stunned, Hotch wasn’t that wordy unless he was giving a profile or detailing a case.

“The team will be made aware of the basics that you are not dealing with the trauma of the torture you went under with Hankel and that you were dosed with drugs and that you thought that the doctor had made Gideon aware of it and he was going to take care of it. I am chalking it all up to a miscommunication on the hospital part as your full file was not sent.”

“Gideon didn’t…” Spencer bit his lip and looked away from Hotch.

“I know, Spencer. The doctor laid it out for me, and you were babbling a little when I was driving you here. I chose here because they are equipped to deal with overdoses. I know that you don’t like being made a spectacle of this and place is much less than an ER. You had not overdosed, but you were out of it on the Mescaline.”

“Yes, Doctor Freya told me that it was what the Dilaudid was mixed with. I heard Gideon telling the doctor not to put that in my report. I was a little out of it after everything. I had hoped that Gideon would have told you.”

“He didn’t. He’s old school and doesn’t adapt the best to changes and the support that the FBI offers the BAU and other agencies that get more in-depth with the monsters we hunt to get more care. You were held hostage, tortured, and drugged. The FBI would have bent over backward as soon as they knew, but it was held over a week. While this place is pricey, it’s the FBI standard for where agents go when they are having trouble. It’s better than you backpedaling halfway through recovery. While this place does follow a modified version of the twelve-step, it’s modified for you and what you need. You’ve not suffered through the pains of normal addiction. You’ve not harmed anyone except for yourself, so there is no need to ask forgiveness from others. You don’t follow a religion, so there is no God in what will be done for you. The doctor will go over all of that with you.”

“How do you know so much?” Spencer asked.

“I had a friend who I went through the Academy with that got addicted to pain killers while working an undercover case that had nothing to do with narcotics. It kept his cover-up though, so when he was done, he was shipped off here. He said it saved his life.”

“They gave me things to write to mom with. Thank you.”

“I made sure they understood that it was not something that can be used as a stick instead of a carrot for you. If you need more stamps or anything, just let me know. You should have enough, but I know sometimes you write her long ones and need more than a single stamp. I thought you might go through that here. I also gave them a gift card upfront for you for the bookstore that is within walking distance. The library is as well, but I know that your academic texts don’t always make it to libraries.”

“Hotch,” Spencer said.

“Ah, shush it.”

Spencer started to laugh, and Hotch even smiled as Spencer did. Shush it was not something he ever thought he would hear come out of Hotch’s mouth.

“I don’t care about the money, Spencer. If I did, I would drop you here and not care about your apartment and that your brain doesn’t atrophy at all.” The last was said with a smile on Hotch’s face.

Spencer ducked his head and laughed in response. Even just laughing a little bit made Spencer feel good. He knew that when the fullness of the detox set in, he was going to need to remember the happier times.

Hotch looked at his watch and frowned a little. “I need to get going if I want to see Jack before he goes to sleep for the night. If you need anything, call. I mean it. Even if it’s the middle of the night and you need to just hear a voice that you know cares about you for you, Spencer. I promise that outside of if I am currently chasing an UnSub, I will answer the call.”

“You don’t have to. I mean, you don’t need me to take time away from your family. They need you more than I do.”

“Haley feels a little different. She wants me to not sacrifice you to them for the moment. It’s a short term, but I agree that at the moment, you might need me a little more. You called me, Reid. You called me when Gideon failed you, you didn’t call JJ or Morgan but me. Not to sound like a hard-ass, but you made your bed. You are going to have to live with me sticking my nose in it all.”

Spencer nodded his head. He stretched a little bit and felt part of his body cracking as the bones moved, it helped the ache a little bit, except for his foot. It was aching and near throbbing. Hotch reached into his jacket pocket and held out a small bottle of pills. Spencer shook his head.

“These are from the medical doctor here. It’s your nightly dose for your foot. He doesn’t care about you taking them during the day, but good sleep, as good as you can get will help in your recovery, so you need to make sure that you are going to sleep well. So he’s going to enforce your night pain killers. They are standard over the counter medications.”

Spencer took the pills from Hotch and saw that they were the same brand that he usually took for aches and pains. He downed them and grabbed the bottle of water that Hotch handed over. Spencer looked into the bag. There was a container of powdered creamer and sugar as well as a container of his favorite coffee.

“I’m going to stop by at least once a week and drop off coffee if you need it, I figure that you will, as well as more cream and sugar. You can’t keep cold things in here so you’ll have to do it with powdered.”

“Thanks.” Spencer knew that telling Hotch no wasn’t going to do anything. He felt terrible that he was making the man feel like he had to help to take care of him. “But I-”

Hotch glared at him before reaching out and covering up his mouth. “You don’t get to say that I do with my time. You can bar me from here, but that’s not going to stop me from dropping off things that I think you need or want. So keep that in mind, that unless I am hurting you with what I am doing, I’m not going anywhere.”

Spencer nodded, and he felt tears in his eyes. He really didn’t want to cry in front of Hotch. The man seemed to understand it, and he stood up, removing his hand as he did. He packed up everything that he was taking with him, which was the food trash, and then he left with a soft goodbye.

Friendship was something that Spencer never thought that he would have with anyone, but the team had become a sort of friends, but Hotch had always been a little more aloof from the rest of them. This was something different and very, very strange to him. Spencer tipped over on the bed, grabbing a pillow and muffling his face into it. He let loose all of the emotions that were building in him.


Haley looked around the room at the other wives, and even a few husbands who were at the meeting. Jessica had been looking on the Internet after they had got back from shopping and found a support group for spouses and partners of cops, agents, and military people in the area that was meeting that night. Haley had jumped at the chance to go and had texted Aaron to get dinner with Doctor Reid.

“So you are new,” a man said as he stepped up to her. He didn’t seem like he was hitting on her, which was a good thing in Haley’s eyes.

“Yes. This is my first time. My husband and I have hit a hard patch after the birth of our son, and I’m not ready to give up on the relationship.”

“What does he do?”

“FBI Unit Chief,” Haley said. She was proud of Aaron, and what he had done, how far he had got. Even if he never did go up further, he was damned good at what he did, and it showed.

“My partner is in the CIA. I don’t know exactly what he does, but he was already in the CIA when I met him.”

“Oh, that’s good you were able to still build a relationship,” Haley said with a smile. She picked up a bottle of water from the table and handed it out to the man. “My name is Haley.”

“Jake Durham.”

“I know that name.”

“Yeah? Where from?” Jake was grinning, and Haley knew that he was messing with her. “I am the chef and owner-”

“Of Exotica. My husband likes to go there when we can find a sitter for our son.”

“And your husband is? I know the regulars usually by their bookings.”

“Hotchner. Aaron Hotchner.”

“Ah, the profiler. I know him from your reservations as well as it’s a very different name for the area and well there can’t be too many Aaron Hotchner’s in the FBI. He worked a case recently that had something to do with my husband’s division, and he brought my husband home after he had been injured. I entertained him by fussing over my husband.”

“What’s your husband’s name?”

“Brian Smith.”

“Smith?” Haley asked, laughing a little.

“Yes, he gets a lot of flack for having that name.” Jake looked at his wrist and then frowned. “I would love to see you at the next meeting, Miss Hotchner. I need to go as I need to pick up Brian from work as his car is in the shop.” Jake reached out and shook Haley’s hand before kissing the back of it, and then he was gone.

The rest of the members of the group were slowly trickling out, some in pairs as they talked. Haley had liked the meeting but hadn’t felt like sharing anything. She looked at the time herself and saw that it was close to when Aaron said he would be getting home from visiting Doctor Reid.

Haley had learned two things about herself and about her life with Aaron that she knew needed to change, and that was letting him talk about his day, even if it was gruesome. He had all of that horribleness inside of his head, and it needed to be let out. The other was that she was very, very different when it came to some of the people there in that she didn’t like it when Aaron wanted sex right as soon as he got home. She hadn’t felt right about it in a long time.

There was a much bigger thing going on than Aaron wanting sex from her after cases. Haley hadn’t been able to put her finger on what upset her the most about it. She had figured that out though listening to someone else talk about it. She had thought it was the case that had made him want to have sex, the content of it. It wasn’t that at all but the need to know he was alive and that he had something soft, gentle, and loving to come home to. The time that she had allowed it, he had always been so caring and attentive. He was never rough with her after cases, never.

The drive home flew by, and Haley was surprised to see Aaron’s car in the driveway when she pulled in. She was glad, though. Jessica’s car was gone. Haley let herself into the house, it was locked, but the alarm wasn’t set. She set her purse down and stopped at the sight of Aaron half asleep on the couch with Jack stretched out on top of him.

Jack was just over seventeen-months-old by a week. He was growing so big, and he was doing well at moving around in his world, but he still loved to fall asleep on Aaron’s chest when Aaron took off his shirt. Jack’s fingers were curled in Aaron’s chest hair. It was a sight that shouldn’t be arousing to Haley, but it was a little bit. It showed care for their child and that their child loved Aaron so much that he felt good sleeping on him. It was the thought that Haley knew that she could trust Aaron with all of her kids that they wanted.

“Hey,” Aaron said as he opened his eyes a little to look at her.

“Hello. How are you feeling?”

“Tired but then I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. How about you? You were out later than you normally are and you didn’t get much more sleep than me.”

“I’m fine. I spent today relaxing. You were the one that was running around and doing things. I’m sorry about dinner.”

Aaron held out his hand, and Haley walked over to take it. He pulled her down to where she was sitting on the edge of the couch. When he let go of her hand, he reached up and tucked her hair behind her ear. “You never need to be upset about dinner. You had something to do, and you needed to do it. I can eat anything, and you know it.”

“I know, but I do like to cook for you because you eat out so much during cases. It’s not like you have a chef that follows around behind you and cooks for you.” Haley gave Aaron a smile before she leaned over to kiss him. She tangled her fingers into his hair to hold him still so she could get the kissing that she wanted out of him. He submitted just like he always did, giving her what she wanted.

Tears came to Haley’s eyes as she leaned up. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Hey, what’s these tears?”

“I’m so sorry for all of the additional stress that I’ve given you over the last months. I don’t know how you still love me, but I know that you do. I know that you love me so much and you do everything that you can to make sure that I am happy, no matter what it does to you. I had hoped you would give up your job because of that, but that’s horrible of me. I don’t want you to give it up.”

“That’s good.” Aaron looked really confused. He gave her a smile, though. “I’m glad you say that because something is going to happen and I think that I am going to be made the full Unit Chief soon. Things are not going to go well with Jason with what is going on with Reid.”

“Well, that will be just fine. I can bring Jack over when you are in town, and we get lunch once or twice a week. I have to make time to get more time with you than what we have now.”

“What’s gotten into you?” Aaron asked. He reached up and rubbed his thumb over Haley’s cheek. It was so tender that Haley felt the tears coming to her eyes again.

“I forgot that I married you because of you being you. And while you have changed, I still love you. I don’t want us to end, Aaron. I don’t want to end because I want things from you that you can’t do. That’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to Jack, and it’s really, really not fair to you. I want Jack to have a good role model as a father, and there is no one better than you.”

“Hales,” Aaron said. He used the hand on her cheek to pull her down to him. He kissed her, hard and passionate. The words would come later when his brain had figured out the best way to say them. Haley had taught Aaron what love was and how to express it after a childhood of never hearing either of his parents saying the words to him but having to listen to his parents say it to Sean.

Haley sometimes hated Sean, but she knew that it wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t help how his parents were, but he was still a brat for never seeing the toll that the way they were raised took on Aaron. Sean’s wants changed like the wind. Now it was culinary things after working in a diner to help put himself through school when he wanted things that his trust didn’t cover. Aaron had pushed to make sure that the trust covered food and other things for him but Sean always wanted more.

“Why don’t you go lay down Jack in his bed, and I’ll just slip into something a little more naked,” Haley said.

The grin that Aaron gave her made Haley understand that she was making the best choice for her and a happy life.

Hours later, Haley rolled over and laid her head on Aaron’s chest. He had fallen asleep just after cleaning up a little after sex. While Aaron’s cock had been more than willing, his body was tired, so Haley had taken things into her hands and had pushed Aaron onto the bed and rode him. It wasn’t a much-used position unless they were having sex on the couch as it was just more comfortable, but Haley figured that they should see about expanding on their sex positions and such.

Aaron’s arm slipped out from under Haley and wrapped around her from behind. Haley smiled as she knew that Aaron had done it without waking up. It was something that he always did. In a little bit, he would roll over, and so Haley would turn onto her side and allow him to wrap himself around her. Aaron was clingy when cases were terrible, or he was stressed. Haley had seen it as something that she didn’t like but understood that he just wanted to know that his world was safe was something that she had never thought of. It was in the book that she had read and while she knew that it was a perfect guide to everything, it was helping her understand her husband a hell of a lot better.

Haley should have been a better wife, and she understood what her grandmother had told her a long time ago that she would have to meet him in the middle to have a happy life. She had blinded herself to the fact that he should be doing what she wanted to make her happy while she didn’t do enough to make him happy as well. It was very much a take and not give in the relationship, and that wasn’t going to work long term.

After a few minutes, Haley rolled over onto her side, and Aaron followed behind, cuddling in close to her. His arm wrapped around her waist, and he hummed a pleased sound into her hair. It was just about heaven to Haley.

Chapter 3

There was just something that felt good about sitting down at his desk and hearing the sounds of the bullpen that settled something inside of Aaron. He looked out to see the team bustling around, working on making sure they had prioritized whatever came across their desk while they were gone. Aaron needed to look through his inbox, but he had come in a few hours each day to make sure that nothing in the BAU ground to a halt.

Aaron saw something and stopped when he saw the letter in his inbox. There was no return address on it, but he knew Reid’s handwriting. Aaron grabbed it and used a letter opener to open it. He saw that the writing was much clearer than the note that had been left for him that he very much ignored. He understood what Reid thought he needed but being left alone in a place like that was not it. That would make him relapse more, and Aaron wouldn’t have that on his conscience.

Hotch,

The full detox is over again, and I’m feeling a lot better. Thank you for understanding that I didn’t really want company during that period of time. Your presents have been much enjoyed by me, especially when I was too weak to get out of bed. The coffee is excellent, and I have no clue where you found that inside of DC, but I kind of don’t want to know either as I will probably bankrupt myself. I like the facility that you put me in. The doctor here is very good at figuring out when I am running circles around him. I kind of don’t like it, but I know that I need to get it all out.

With that in mind, Doctor Freya wants to have a session between just you and I. He wants to see if I will open up to you more or less than him. It’s at your convenience. I tried to get someone else to be able to come and do it, but Doctor Freya says that it needs to be you. You have the number here. Call and talk to him. I have nothing but time here, and the books you keep on bringing are a godsend to me. I was allowed to go to the library, but they did not have the greatest selection of books that I like to read, even in the non-fiction section. So I picked up the James Bond series and a few other of the spy novels that I have seen you read while on cases. I hope we can talk about them some late night when we can’t sleep while on a case when I get back.

As to the team, please tell them whatever you think is best. I trust your judgment better than my own at the moment, but I am also not ready to see anyone but you. I keep thinking that I will be, but then I get worried that they will think a lot less of me because of this. I know that it’s irrational, but I need to keep what dignity I have left.

Please visit as soon as you can,

Spencer Reid

Aaron read the letter a second and a third time before he stood up and walked to the doorway of his office. Gideon wasn’t in his office. He hadn’t been in at all the few hours each day that Aaron was spending at the office. Aaron figured that something had happened with the whole deal and Gideon was given time off or was working through evaluations of some kind. Aaron wasn’t going to ask about it until it was a big deal.

The team was all working on their cases and various things, but Aaron could see a letter from Reid on each of their desks, unopened.

“Guys,” Aaron said as he stepped out of his office. He waved the letter in his hand and watched as the team’s eyes all raised a little. Even JJ was at the edge of her office door, looking at him with a bit of shock on his face. “Someone grab Garcia and let’s all meet in the roundtable room.”

There were a few nods, but Aaron didn’t pay close attention as he made his way to the roundtable room to get set up. He wasn’t going to tell them as much as Spencer probably thought he would. It was Spencer’s private business, but he understood wanting the team to know.

Aaron wasn’t alone for long. JJ was the first into the room with Prentiss behind her and then Morgan and Garcia entered last.

“Please read your letters,” Aaron said. The room was filled with the sound of tearing paper. He wasn’t sure what was in the letters.

“Is he okay?” JJ asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“He’s not responding to his texts I’ve sent him like he normally would. He does it late in the day and then doesn’t respond until the next day.”

“Reid’s not handling well the torture that he went through as well as the drugging that Tobias that forced on him.”

“Drugging? Hankel was using again?” Prentiss asked.

“Yes, he was, and he started to give Reid the drugs to help Reid in the way that the drugs helped him. He does not have a physical addiction to them. The mental and emotional one though is where he’s having his hang ups. Hankel has made him start to second guess putting his mother in Bennington and therefore that he’s the worst son in the world. He also feels guilty for having to kill Tobias to save himself. He knows on a level that he did what he had to do because if Hankel had seen us, he would have killed Reid, but he still feels guilty for not being able to save Tobias. I don’t know what is in your letters from him, and I don’t want to know, but I do want you to know that you can talk to me about this. For right now, Reid doesn’t want many visitors at all. He does not like the detox that his body has gone through. He’s getting help and with that help comes a few other things that he’s not used to. I plan on visiting him tonight if no case pops up. If you want to write back to him, I’ll take them to him. He didn’t give you guys or me an address, so I will assume that he doesn’t want you to know where he is. I do because he called me for help when he needed it.”

“Why you?” JJ asked. She looked a lot hurt at that, but Aaron really hoped that she wasn’t going to take that out on Reid.

“I cannot answer that, but he did call Gideon first, and Gideon told him that he needed to learn to be stronger on his own.” Aaron knew that the wording wasn’t right, but it was as close as Aaron was willing to tell them.

“Is that why he hasn’t been here?” JJ asked.

“I am unsure about what is going on with Gideon at the moment. Don’t try and get a hold of him. We all know what he is like when his time has been interrupted when he thinks that he needs it. I’m sure that since we are all officially back today that I will hear something on what is going on from Strauss.”

“Keep us informed?” Prentiss asked. She had a look on her face that told Aaron that she was greatly worried about something, but he wasn’t sure that it was entirely related to Reid.

“I will tell you what he tells me I can. I won’t break his confidence. He called me to help him, so I think that he needs something that he thinks I can give him. Though for the record. I am not sure that I even know what that is.”

“You are strong, Hotch. He trusted you to get him out of that situation with Hankel, and you did. I’m sure that this is part of that. You said that he said that he knew you would understand about the clues that he gave about where he was. This is more of that.” Morgan had a soft smile on his face. Aaron knew that Morgan was learning to trust the team more after everything in Chicago, but he also knew that Morgan wasn’t the right personality to help Reid at the moment, and Morgan knew that.

“I’m glad that I at least have your confidence because I don’t think I fully have my own. Oh, JJ,” Aaron said as he watched her get ready to leave the room. “Haley will be visiting me more for lunch and sometimes when I work late, with Jack in tow so if things come up that I have to take a lunch meeting on and they get ahold of you, tell them no.”

“You got it, Hotch.” JJ and Prentiss left the room.

Aaron turned to look at Garcia. “I need your solemn promise that you are not going to hack into anything related to Reid. He needs to know that what he is going through is going to remain private to just him and what he wants to share with who he wants to share it with.”

“Of course, Sir.” Garcia stood up and waited to see if Morgan was going to, but he didn’t. She nodded her head before she started to leave.

“I will make sure that you are censured if you access any part of this, Garcia.” Aaron hated to have to say that, but after the Fisher King and the whole debacle on that, Aaron’s trust in her was a little shaky.

“Yes, Sir.” Garcia was gone in seconds, pulling the door shut behind her.

“He’s doing okay, right? As well as he could be?”

“Yes. I know that I can’t understand feeling guilt for a parent, but I know that you have a little bit of it. Though the circumstances are a lot different. You are the closest on the team that can let him know that he’s not alone with feeling guilt about a parent. Tell him as much as you feel like you can.”

“I can’t even comprehend having to make that decision, Hotch,” Morgan said. He stood up from his seat and walked to the window that looked out into the bullpen. “I never really thought about it before this. He put his mother in there when he was eighteen. Most kids that age, hell even me the only thing that I had to worry about was what college I wanted to go to for my sports or I wanted to try and talk Stacy Long into the backseat of my car for a tumble. Not if I was making the best decision on where to place my mother for the rest of her life. I love my mom, and I…I’m not sure I am strong enough even now to make that kind of decision. Is that what Hankel tortured him about?”

“He forced Tobias to kill him because he was dying of cancer. Charles Hankel was so wrapped up in his own person that he never saw the damage that he did to Tobias. Reid sympathizes with him and hates that he had to kill him. IF there was a part of the bible that Hankel believed in most, it was honor thy father and mother and in his eyes, not taking the burden of caring for his sick mother made him not honor her.”

“Even just that little bit that we saw her after that case, I knew that he loved her more than anything in the world and that she loved him. She never would have been happy to know that she had stopped Reid from becoming the strongest person that he could be by making him take care of her. She would never have wanted him to give up his life for her.”

“No, and I plan on making him understand that. He’s just a little lost and too hurt right now to process it.”

“He’s safe, though right?” Morgan asked.

“Yes. He’s very safe, and they are taking good care of him.”

“Thanks, Hotch.” Morgan turned away from the window and walked out of the room, leaving Aaron with his thoughts. He wasn’t sure that he was at a good place to work on cases, but he had a bunch of mind-numbing work that he was sure built up while he had been gone and only taking care of essential things the few hours each day that he had been at work.

Aaron made his way to his office, and he stopped at the sight of Strauss sitting on the couch to the left. She gave him a smile.

“Let’s talk about Gideon,” Strauss said.

“Sure.” Aaron shut the door behind him and took a seat in the chair that was catty-corner to where she was.

“AD Richmond was very interested in a lot of your case files over the past while. He came down to me to talk about a few of them. He’s not made a final decision on what he wants to do with Gideon, but as of this moment, you are now the team’s Unit Chief. We will work on getting another agent for the team ASAP. I’ve already sent out the memo to HR. While I would like a more senior agent to come in, AD Richmond told me that you will be Unit Chief no matter who is brought in.”

Aaron could tell that Strauss didn’t like that.

“I’ll be happy to take over fully. It’s been my goal since I joined the team. I didn’t see it this early, but I’m happy to do it.” Aaron watched Strauss eye him. She was trying to profile him but didn’t have the basis of it. She couldn’t profile herself out of a dry paper bag. Aaron knew that she thought she was better than she was, but Aaron could see her becoming a good Section Chief if she stopped butting heads against everyone. If she listened to what was being said by those around her and helped it would be much better. Aaron couldn’t make her see that though, she would have to on her own.

“It’s another step closer to Director.”

“I don’t have the patience for that kind of work, Ma’am. Unit Chief is about as high as I want to go.”

Strauss looked at Aaron like he was an idiot, but Aaron was used to that as well. It was the understanding that everyone within the FBI wanted to be the Director one day, and Aaron didn’t. He didn’t want to play politics at all.

“How is Agent Reid doing? Is he recovering well? Is there anything that he needs?”

“He’s doing well and recovering well. I go and see him for a few minutes each night on my way home. He’s got everything that he needs that he’s allowed, Ma’am.”

Strauss looked at Aaron with a strange look on her face before she nodded. She stood up and walked toward the door before turning around.

“If you need anything in the meantime, please, ask. Agent Anderson can help with things here like he normally does or he can go into the field. I wouldn’t mind training him up to be able to go on cases with your team or any other team just for coverage. Sometimes I know that you need bodies to do things, even if it’s just helping Agent Jareau handle the media.”

“I’ll bring him along on the next case that we have. We can rotate him out to the other teams to make sure that he can handle everyone. It’s not a bad idea, Ma’am,” Aaron said as he stood up. He walked over to the door and opened it for her. Strauss gave Aaron a smile.

“Thank you. Please call me Erin, Aaron.”

Aaron laughed at Strauss and nodded his head. She gave him a smile that Aaron figured was something of a relief. She was finally believing him that he didn’t want her job, which was a good thing as he didn’t. They didn’t need hostility between them. Enough issues were going on that this wasn’t needed.


Spencer flopped down onto his bed and sighed, looking up at the ceiling. There wasn’t enough to do to keep him entertained in the facility that he was in. Freedom was good at a lot of things but keeping his mind active was not one of them. There were not enough things for him to do that weren’t walking laps around the courtyard in the middle of the building. His foot had been healed enough for him to resume normal movement and while the first few days it had ached him, it was feeling a lot better now.

At college, even as a minor, he had the run of a small area. If he left the campus, he had to tell someone, but that was very different than this. He understood why he was secured, but he didn’t like the lack of trust that he had built up. He wasn’t a chronic user with this being his second or more trip to the detox place. He had been using for a short as hell time, and the isolation was driving him nuts.

Grabbing the landline phone that he had, he called Hotch’s phone. He figured that Hotch would be on a case given it was the first full day back for the whole team so he would get voicemail. Spencer barely listened as the message played.

“Hotch, it’s me. Um, Reid, that is. I just…I’m bored, and I need something to do. I was hoping maybe you could have someone find me Sudoku books or things like that so that I could at least do them in my head while I walk around. It’s not so bad right now, but I’m sick of reading books and I just need something stimulating that is not bingo. Don’t get me wrong, I can play bingo easy, and I don’t even have to mark the cards, but the novelty of that has worn off, and I’m just sitting here bored. They won’t allow me a computer, even without Internet access so I can’t do anything as far as some of the papers I want to put out for the FBI’s use on some of the killers we have hunted and letting law enforcement the country overlook at them to help with smaller versions of what we do.”

Spencer kept on babbling on even though he wasn’t sure when the answering machine cut off. Spencer hung up. He had been given access to the phone for outgoing calls to limited numbers on a provisional basis. Bennington was allowed as were Hotch’s numbers and that was it. Looking at the clock. It was only one in the afternoon, and he was already so bored that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do.

Closing his eyes, he forced himself to sleep.

There was little respite in his dreams because Spencer woke up just a little while later, gasping for breath as he tried to make sure that he wasn’t stuck in the grave like he was in his dreams. He tried to shake it off, but he couldn’t, so he went out to the courtyard to settle in and just try and walk off all of his anxiety. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do. To keep his job he had to finish this but it wasn’t like there were bars on the doors keeping him in. He could leave without anyone seeing him.

Spencer tried to work on something in his head while he paced, but it was impossible. He couldn’t make his mind stop whirling. Giving up, Spencer went to his room to change. He could wear himself out so much that his brain shut down that way. Spencer had asked Hotch for clothes he could run on the treadmill with and hadn’t been shocked when what he had been given were top of the line. It was also the same brand that Hotch used. Spencer had seen him a few times running at the track at Quantico when they were all a little cagey after a case instead of working in the office.

Hotch had also brought him a well used MP3 player that had Hotch’s running music playlist loaded onto it. He said that it was his older player and the battery life wasn’t the greatest but that he could keep it. There was a new pair of headphones as well, those were still in the package. Spencer still wasn’t sure what he thought of Hotch’s taste in running music, but he knew that it at least helped his mind focus on that and not whatever cagey feeling he was having.

The limited exercise area at least looked out into the courtyard so Spencer could try and count leaves while he was running. He turned the MP3 player on and quickly found a track that he liked before he clipped it to his shirt and began to walk on the treadmill. Spencer hadn’t really run on one before this, but given that he was doing it for several hours a day, he had learned quickly how to run on it.

Running had never been high on Spencer’s list of things that he liked to do, but he was finding a feeling of peace in it. Usually, when he was near the end and his body was so damned tired that even his brain couldn’t keep him awake.

Hotch’s playlist was two hours, three minutes, and seven seconds long. Spencer had it set to where it played it all in order and only repeated in the same order. He liked knowing what was coming next, especially as some of the songs were rather alarming to him at first. When the first song he listened to played a second time, Spencer slowed the treadmill down to where he was cooling off. He would go to his room, shower, and then pass out in bed, and hopefully, he would wake up the next day.

The sweat was dripping down Spencer’s face as he walked from the gym to his room. He stopped though when he saw a woman standing at the desk along with a stroller. While he didn’t know Mrs. Hotchner that well, he knew her well enough to know what she looked like from the back. Spencer had no clue what she was doing there.

If something had happened to Hotch, it would have been Morgan, JJ, or maybe even Gideon who came to tell him, not Mrs. Hotchner.

“Ah, Doctor Reid, you have a visitor. Well, I guess you have two.”

“Hello, Mrs. Hotchner.”

“Oh, Doctor Reid, you were busy.” Mrs. Hotchner looked a little shocked at the sight of him. Spencer figured that he did look scary with his clothes soaked with sweat and his hair all messed up from the run.

“I just got done with a run. Let me go and shower, and I’ll meet you in the courtyard?” Spencer asked. There were torch heaters that did well at warming the place up in spots and chairs around those spots. At least the people who ran Freedom understood the need to be outside, even if it was freezing cold outside.

“Oh, that sounds lovely. I’m sure that Jack will like it out there.”

“I’m sure. Excuse me.”

Spencer had no clue what she was doing there. He really didn’t understand at all what she was doing there. It seemed that she was going to spend some time given what Spencer had seen in the bottom of the stroller. Spencer sighed and stripped down. It would be better to get it all over with as soon as possible. He just had no clue what he was going to say to her.


Haley settled Jack into his seat so that she could clean up lunch for both of them. The boy just babbled at her while playing with the toy in his hand. He was learning words left and right but when he was playing, he liked to babble. She looked at her son for a minute. The toy was soft but had electronic parts inside. Haley knew it had been expensive because it could be hand washed in the sink and left to dry out and not ruin the electrical components. It had been a gift from Doctor Reid to Jack when he was born. Jack loved the toy a great deal. It made soft, chiming noises, vibrated, and even lit up. The few short trips that had been taken by her and Aaron with Jack the boy had been content to bounce his hand up and down with the toy making it do all of the things that it did.

When everything was cleaned up, Haley walked out onto the porch area and found that the heater was doing its job keeping the chill out of the room with the plastic sheeting up that would keep the heat from escaping. She had been unsure of it all when Aaron had wanted to do it, but it was a good option. Aaron had bought expensive sheeting that was clear so they could see out. He had plans for the next year to purchase good plastic panels that he could mount over it all and make it even better. They would be taken down when it got warm outside. Haley really liked that idea. Them being able to come out and cuddle on the porch. Watch the stars in the sky or even the snowfall on the ground.

Jack would still need to be in warmer clothes, but he didn’t need to wear a coat out there. Haley had seen Aaron sitting out there with him the night before, talking to him. Haley hadn’t felt like she should intrude on that. Aaron was a wonderful father, despite his childhood and how he could have been a horrible father because of that. She smiled to herself as she remembered seeing Aaron laying in places around the house without a shirt because Jack wanted skin to skin contact. Jack was a hog for skin to skin contact, and even she ran around the house without a shirt, but she at least kept the bra on unless she was in their bedroom.

“Ready to go outside, Jack?” Haley asked as she picked up Jack from the chair that he was in.

Jack started to giggle and kick his feet so hard that Haley gripped him a little tighter, so he didn’t drop him. She got him settled onto her shoulder and opened the door. Haley loved the porch because it was where she and Aaron spent a lot of time, including a genuine chance that Jack had been conceived on the porch. It had been a spur of the moment thing when Aaron had got home from a case that hadn’t actually ended badly. The team had saved all of the victims that had been taken. The UnSub was going away for his crimes. There wasn’t much else that the team could ask so Aaron had been so damned happy when he got home. Haley had been getting what little sun she could for January and just relaxing. Aaron had covered her body with his to kiss her, and things had just spiraled out from there. Aaron had been gone for three weeks after that. As well as the week before that because of work, so when Haley had woken up just under a month after that day, and she was throwing up, it was pretty narrowed down.

Haley settled down on the lounger that had the best padding and picked up the blanket to cover herself and Jack up with and just looked at the day as it passed. Jack got restless a little while later so Haley dropped him down into the playpen she had erected while Jack had been taking a morning nap. It lived on the porch but wasn’t always up and where it could be used.

Jack pulled himself up to his feet and started to walk around the edge of the playpen to get to where his toys were that he wanted to play with. Haley grabbed her book and began to read. She had timer on her phone, and she set that for when she would want to head in with Jack just to make sure he wasn’t out in the chill too long.

It was a very chilly afternoon as Haley read her book and Jack played in his pen, and after a while, Haley heard him start to yawn, so he picked him up to lay him on her chest and covered him up with a blanket for a short nap. His afternoon naps this early usually only lasted a half an hour. Her alarm went off, it was on silent so it didn’t wake up Jack and she dismissed it. When he was awake, Haley would take him inside.

The sound of the phone ringing had Haley debating getting up and getting it, but she just ignored it as she didn’t want to wake Jack up by getting up. If it was important, they would leave a message. After a minute, the answering machine did pick up, and she could hear a voice talking. It didn’t sound urgent or anything, but it did keep on going. She was intrigued by why the message was so long. If it was case related, the team would have called Aaron’s phone. She looked at the time. Aaron would still be at work, and so the team would just tell him. Haley wasn’t sure what was going on, but it wasn’t that important as the voice wasn’t frantic.

Jack started to fuss nearly as soon as he woke up, wanting to be down and doing stuff, so Haley stood up, keeping the blanket wrapped around him and entered the house. She blocked off the living room area to where he couldn’t get to the stairs and let him crawl or walk around on the floor. He loved to crawl under things and they had purchased a different coffee table just because of that after Jack had hit his head too many times. She went back outside and shut off the heater and grabbed the rest of the things before she went back inside. Jack was scooting around on the floor. Haley was sure that he would be running unassisted soon, but she wasn’t going to rush that like some did. When he got around on two feet, he was into everything. If he had running down, he would be too quick for Haley. She was looking forward to that but also kind of afraid. Her baby was growing up, and it was happening too fast.

With a new kettle of water boiling, Haley entered the living room to check on Jack and to play the answering machine message. When Doctor Reid’s voice came over it, Haley was a little shocked. He had never called the house. He always called one of Aaron’s cell phones. She listened to the message again after getting her tea. He was lonely.

Haley frowned because she knew that he was getting treatment and it didn’t sound like it was helping at all. He might be where it would be hard to get drugs, but he didn’t sound engaged enough. She didn’t know much about geniuses, but she knew that people who were bored did stupid things. She had seen it in school for kids who were smarter than the rest and didn’t have good ways of coping with their own boredom. Doctor Reid had ways of doing it, Haley knew that Aaron had talked about them before. He was good at keeping himself entertained, that’s what Aaron had told her like the time they had been snowed in at the airport, waiting for a storm to pass over so they could take off. He had not bothered anyone on the team at all and had kept to himself. If Doctor Reid was that bored, Haley knew that it wasn’t good for him and it wasn’t good for his treatment.

Before she really knew what she was doing, Haley was running around and setting up for her and Jack to go and visit him. Aaron had written down the address of the place in his office, Haley had seen him do it, and the Post-It note was still there. She copied it over and packed up a few books from the stack that Aaron had bought a few days before just for Doctor Reid. Haley would have been jealous of the things that Aaron was buying him, but Aaron only did it because he cared. It didn’t seem like there were many people at all that cared about Doctor Reid outside of the team, and Haley would never begrudge him what little bit of friendships that he had.

Aaron’s sexuality was not a secret to Haley. During one of the many stints where they broke up in college, Aaron had played the field as it were. He had gone and did the things that he had been too scared to do when he was in high school when most kids were figuring out their sexuality. Aaron had always been forthright with what he did when they were back together between breakups. Aaron liked sex with men, but he didn’t like it more than he liked it with Haley. He liked being able to be rough, and while Haley could handle some of that, she couldn’t handle it all. She always felt terrible when she knew that Aaron was hanging on by a thread to his composure while they were having sex. She had debated telling him to find someone that was friendly and would never want more and a few rounds of sex in a year so Aaron could purge those emotions, but she was too scared to tell him that. She was too afraid to think that he could fall in love with that person. Aaron loved, and he loved wholly. He would never betray her, and he would never act on it, but that fear was there, and Haley was too weak to confront that fear.

Jack was enjoying getting bundled up for heading out for once. Usually, it was a struggle for them to get him into his winter coat and then down into the car seat once they were outside, but today he wasn’t fighting her at all. The stroller was already in the back of the smaller SUV that Aaron had bought her once Jack was born. She had thought it was overkill, but it made getting the stroller in and out so much easier on her, and she didn’t have to worry about moving seats and possibly hitting Jack’s seat when she was putting it in. Aron had bought himself a new car when he had stepped up to fill Jason’s spot on the team as Unit Chief after Boston. It was a sedan and top of the line with the additions that he had got, but he wanted something a little more fuel-efficient for his long drive in and out of Quantico. The SUV was the family car, so Aaron drove it when they were going places, or Haley did, depending on if Aaron was too worn out from work to drive. Haley liked driving, but she also just liked relaxing and letting Aaron drive the car.

The drive to the Freedom center where Aaron had placed Doctor Reid was short. It looked like a really nice place so Haley figured that it wouldn’t be so bad that she would be afraid to have Jack in there. Aaron never would have placed one of his team in a place like that anyway. He would make sure that they were taken care of and the places like that didn’t take care of their patients. Haley knew that there were places that got them clean enough to release but were betting on them coming back. That was how they made their money.

“Can I help you?” the attendant at the desk asked as Haley stepped up with the stroller.

“Yes, I’m here to visit with Doctor Spencer Reid.”

“Is he expecting you?” the attendant asked.

“No. He’s not,” Haley answered honestly.

“I’ll have to call and ask him if he wants to visit with you and your son.” The attendant reached down to pick up a phone but stopped. She turned to greet Doctor Reid.

Doctor Reid had looked better, and Haley wasn’t talking about the way that he was covered in sweat and in workout clothes. Haley had seen Aaron in clothes like that enough. No, it was his eyes and the black marks under them. He looked like shit and not in a good way like he was recovering from addiction to a drug, but like he was at his wit’s end and getting ready to crash.

It wasn’t long before Haley was heading outside with Jack in tow. There were good heaters in the area, so Haley found one that was keeping the area just the right temperature for them and especially for Jack. She unfastened him from the stroller and pushed the back of it back to where it became a small play area. Haley had never seen the like before, but it had been a gift from David Rossi when Jack had been born. Haley had not asked how much it cost or looked it up. It had grown with Jack, a stroller of all of his age related needs with a few swapping in and out of parts to cradle Jack’s growing body. She loved it though for things like this. Jack liked it as well. Haley dropped a few toys down into the area and made sure that the netting that kept him inside was all like it should be. It could be fully closed in with the netting as well for those summers where bugs were an issue. Haley loved the stroller, and when it was beautiful weather again, she was looking forward to heading out with Jack to the park in it.

“Mrs. Hotchner, this is a surprise,” Doctor Reid said as he settled into the bench that was opposite Haley. He looked nervous as hell.

“Jack and I were getting restless at home, and I heard your message. I’m sorry I didn’t answer it. I was outside and didn’t hear the phone.” Haley knew that lying was never good, but she didn’t want him to think that she had not answered because it was him or because she just didn’t feel like answering the phone no matter who it was.

“That still doesn’t explain why you are here, now.”

“No, it doesn’t. I really don’t know why I am here. I just started to pack up everything and then we were driving here. Aaron’s worried about you, and I am too. I know that you are here because you know you need help, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have friends. I know that we are not that close, but if I can help you out and help Aaron relieve a little stress about you. I’m willing to do it.”

Doctor Reid looked at Haley like he wasn’t sure what she was thinking. Haley knew that the team had to have been around for a few of the over the phone fights that Haley had engaged in with Aaron. That was in the past, and she couldn’t erase that. She could show them that she was more than willing to support Aaron and the team in their jobs.

The BAU had never been high on wives who helped as a support team like military wives did. Hell, for Aaron’s team, Aaron was the only one married, but there were other wives from other teams. Haley could talk Aaron into talking to the agents and giving her number over to them. It would help her with the issues she was having of being alone with Jack and not relying on Jessica all the time who had her own job.

“Mrs. Hotchner?” Doctor Reid asked.

“Please call me Haley.”

“You can call me Spencer.” Spencer gave Haley a bashful smile. He was a beautiful man. She had seen the image of him on the cover of a gossip rag during the case in LA where the team had been hunting a stalker turned killer. Haley knew from Aaron that Spencer had developed a crush on the woman, but it had not panned out to anything. Haley though wasn’t sure that he strictly liked females. She had seen him checking out a male at the bar before the team had been called out on the case in Georgia. She knew that the team really didn’t care about it, but even Aaron kept his sexuality from the team as it wasn’t any part of their business. Aaron was married so it really didn’t matter if he liked males.

Dating was discouraged for at least a year after rehab, so Haley wasn’t going to attempt to set him up with anyone at all. She usually would as she figured that anyone who they came home to was better than coming home alone, given the rate of burn out in the BAU. Jason and David had tried very hard to stay married, but Jason’s had blown up because of the job, and David’s first had ended because of more than just his job. Max Ryan’s life had been so obsessed with criminals that he hadn’t allowed anyone in really.

“I’m sorry, I keep getting on mental tangents,” Haley said as she noticed Spencer start to fidget.

“That’s okay. I do that all the time.”

“So you were working out?”

“Running on the treadmill. Hotch gave me an old MP3 player of his with his running music on it and I was trying to pass the time by running until I passed out.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I interrupted that.”

“You only interrupted the passing out thing, and really I don’t think I could have passed out anyway. How is Jack doing?” Spencer asked.

Haley had to wonder if Spencer ever really liked to talk about him. Even though she wasn’t a profiler, she knew a deflection when she saw one, but she was willing to let him try and move the conversation away from him for the time being. She would keep on going back. Aaron did like to say that she was like a dog with a bone on things that she wanted. This was going to go well for her, and she hoped for Spencer as well.

“Jack’s doing well. He’s gotten the hang of stairs and I’m not ready for that. I think we might be close to running full tilt too.”

“Mom said after I learned to walk; I became a magician. I would get places too quick for normal humans to do. Or I would get a hold of something that she swore was up to where I wouldn’t have been able to get it. So I’m sure I was worse when I was learning stairs.”

“Don’t give me nightmares, Spencer Reid!” Haley said.

Spencer smiled, and it was a genuine smile. The darkness in his eyes was going away, and he was looking calmer than he had been before.

“So how are things going here?”

Spencer just shrugged his shoulders and didn’t answer. Haley had a feeling that she was right that he was doing well with the structure of the place and doing what needed to be done to help himself with everything, but he wasn’t doing the greatest with the rest of it.

“Is there a TV in your room?”

“No. Just in the communal area. The few other people who are here right now and come out of their rooms don’t like to watch what I like. I don’t like soap operas and really can’t stand them but it’s all that plays all day long.”

“Wow, I think that would drive me insane. I can’t stand them either. Aaron got invested in one a few years back, this is long before you knew him. He was laid up with a badly fractured leg and was stuck on the couch for a few weeks between therapy sessions to see if he needed more surgery. He didn’t, but he still watched one of them.”

The smile didn’t leave Spencer’s face as Haley talked about Aaron. There was something there to it though that made Haley think that Spencer thought that she was telling him a secret. It hadn’t been as the whole of the BAU had known about it. Aaron had brought it up himself, but it wasn’t like Jason was going to talk about that, and the rest of the team had moved on since then, a few getting their own teams or burning out and moving to other units inside of the FBI.

“The big drama was finished, and he stopped watching, but he did make sure that it was recorded on the VCR every day so he could catch up on it when he was gone. It just faded into the background after that, though. It was amusing because Aaron thought that he had seen Agent Morgan before and it was in a flashback to an episode of that show. I don’t think that Aaron ever told Morgan that but he told me.”

“That’s funny. I would love to see Morgan’s face when he sees that one of his doubles that exists out there is an actor.” Spencer relaxed onto the bench that he was on and seemed to see that Haley wasn’t going to start screaming at him. Haley could only guess what the team thought about her at the moment. She just hoped that this helped to pave the way to the team accepting her a little bit. She had never tried to get good with the team before. Aaron’s life had been split, and she had made sure that she wasn’t a part of that side of his life. It had hurt both of them.

“Yes, I’m sure that it would be good.” Haley watched Spencer’s face as he looked around the area they were in. It was evident that it was well used, even now with it being cold. There really wasn’t a lot of things to do there that Haley had seen, though she hadn’t seen all of it.

“Spencer?” a male voice called out.

Haley looked over where the voice came from to see a man standing there. He looked a lot worried as he walked toward them. He was bundled into a coat.

“Doctor Freya, we didn’t have a meeting, did we?” Spencer asked as he stood up. He looked at the wall that was on the other side of the doctor, and Haley saw the clock that was there. She noticed that Spencer wasn’t wearing a watch. She didn’t think she had ever seen him wear one before. He didn’t wear adornments of any kind really, and his glasses were very old fashioned. Like he didn’t care what they were. She wondered if that was a product of him just not caring, him buying the cheapest thing, or trying to hide.

“No, I just wanted to meet your friend. You’ve not had anyone, but your boss visit you.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, Doctor Freya but Spencer and I barely know each other. I want to change that, though.”

The doctor looked at Haley with a disapproving eye. Haley spent a few seconds trying to figure out why until she realized that she had not introduced herself.

“My name is Haley Hotchner, Doctor Freya. I’m Spencer’s boss’s wife. We’ve met a few times before, but I want to make sure that he has someone to talk to in person when my husband can’t visit as much since he’s back to work and that means cases across the country.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.” All apprehension in Doctor Freya’s eyes was lifted as Haley spoke and she was glad of it. “I’ll leave you to that then. Spencer, have a wonderful day. You’ve earned a trip off-campus for something other than visiting a store or the library. If you want to take advantage of that tonight, just let me know, and I can arrange a staff member to go with you.”

“Thank you,” Spencer said, but he didn’t look the doctor in the eye. Even Haley could tell that by the way that Spencer was looking. It was close to his eyes but wasn’t perfect.

Haley remembered that Aaron had talked about a few of the stranger quirks that Spencer had when it came to personal interaction, but this was one that wasn’t just from him being socially awkward. Doctor Freya nodded at both of them before he walked away. Haley could understand the man being wary, Haley arrived with a kid in tow, and she was sure the desk attendant had told him that she had not told Spencer that she was coming.

“Ma,” Jack called out, pulling Haley from her thoughts, and Haley looked at him. He was holding his hands out, and he was begging to be picked up.

“Okay, little man. Jealous of not being the center of attention? Let’s fix that.” Haley reached into the stroller and picked him up.

“That’s a fancy stroller. I’ve never seen one that turned into a small little play area like that.”

“Neither had I. It was a gift from David Rossi.”

“Do you-” Spencer cut himself off from the question he was getting ready to ask.

There was not enough there for Haley to get what he wanted to ask so she let it go for a few minutes while she got Jack out of his stroller. As soon as she had him settled in his arms, though he wanted down.

“It’s too cold, Jack,” Haley said. It wasn’t like he was going to understand it anyway.

“I have a big thick blanket. I can run and get it, and then you can lay whatever blanket you normally lay down, and he can be down on the ground where he wants to be.” Spencer stood up but waited for Haley to nod before he took off.

Spencer Reid was a sweet, sweet man who needed someone in his life that wanted to be friends with him because they wanted to be friends with him. Haley wondered if she could fit that bill. She knew that he wouldn’t be home any more than Aaron, but he would at least need her friendship in a way that others around her didn’t. It sounded horrible even as she thought the words in her head but Aaron had never needed her. Not the way that she wanted to be needed. Haley didn’t doubt that Aaron loved her. She didn’t doubt that Aaron wanted her. Sex between them in the last week had been more fulfilling for her, and she hoped for him as well. It wasn’t hard to see that Aaron was happier in the past week, talking about cases a little more, never the big details that Haley had always been afraid he would give but enough that he was more settled. Even though there was no active case, there were others that were going to trial that he would have to fly to deal with or just consult over the phone if none of the BAU members were called in to give testimony.

Haley understood what Aaron meant by some cases were harder than others, and no member of the team reacted to the same ones the same way. She could see where cases involving kids would affect Aaron more now that he was a father, a new father still at that. She could see Spencer reacting badly to cases having to do with people who had the same mental illness as his mother. There were a lot of varied cases out there.

“Here we go,” Spencer said as he dropped down a blanket that was folded into fourths but was still huge. It was big enough that Haley could sit at a corner of it, and Jack would still have more than enough room to do what he wanted.

Haley settled Jack down onto the blanket and smiled as she watched Spencer take the other corner. It would allow them both to keep Jack on the blanket. Even if he got up the gumption to run.

“So you said he’s acting like he wants to run?” Spencer asked.

“Yes, he’s walking fast and then takes off running but usually falls. Building his leg muscles a little more and going a little more balanced each time when he does. He likes to try and do it in the living room as he can fall onto the soft carpet. Well, other than last week when he fell onto a hard toy. He was more startled than anything and didn’t hurt himself, but still, he cried.”

“I’m glad he didn’t hurt himself.”

Haley turned to grab the toys that Jack liked from his stroller, picking up the one that Spencer had bought him first. She handed it over and heard the gasp from Spencer. She didn’t say anything but just grabbed the rest.

Jack was on his back for the moment, kicking his feet and tossing his hands around with the toy in one of them. It was lighting up a great deal because of the movement and making the chiming noises.

“I’m glad he still likes it,” Spencer said. Spencer’s eyes were on Jack, so he didn’t see the fond way that Haley looked at him.

“He does. It’s his favorite toy. He won’t sleep unless he can have it in bed with him. The ability to wash it and let it dry works out well. It helps me keep it clean since he can’t live without it.”

“I’m glad. He’s going to wear it out though. I’ll have to see about getting another one that’s more learning minded. There was a whole line of them.”

Spencer prattled on about each of the toys in the line. Haley was astounded that he could even remember that much of it. She knew about his memory, his reading speed, and his IQ. She knew all about it but was still shocked when he used it.

Aaron had been a little upset about all of it, and the way that he had joined the team, and Haley could understand why. The other members had worked for it, and he had been given it, but even Aaron realized what Jason wanted, and there was going to be no stopping putting a genius barely out of the Academy onto one of the worst teams in the FBI.

“So, Spencer how do you feel about Mexican food?” Haley asked.

“Mexican food? I like it. Why?”

“Aaron and I are going to a place not too far from here for dinner tonight. Why don’t you come with us?”

“I couldn’t. You guys need time alone.”

“And you need to get out and about. Do you think since you are going out with Aaron they will let you do it without a chaperone?”

“I don’t know.” Spencer did have such a look of hope on his face that Haley knew that she would have to talk Aaron into going to bat for Spencer on not having someone with them if Doctor Freya insisted. Aaron had been the one to bring Spencer here; it wasn’t like he was going to help him buy drugs. Even if Aaron weren’t an FBI agent, he would never help someone like that.”

“Well, I’ll text Aaron for him to join us here and we can leave from here. I have more than enough things for Jack in the diaper bag in the car that’s stocked like a well-stocked doomsday vault. Aaron bought it and keeps it stocked for me when I am out and about with Jack. I never have to worry about anything.”

“He’s the one who showed me how to pack my go-bag and how to have ones that are for colder weather ready to go whenever the first place dips below freezing.”

“He’s a good man, and for a while, I was forgetting why I fell in love with him. I’m going to do better by him and to show you and the team that, I’m going to be here for your rehab, Spencer.”

“You don’t have to, and I know you will say that you want to. I just want to thank you.” Spencer gave her a smile, and she could see that he had a little more hope than he had before she had got there and that was worth it.

 


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DarkJediQueen

You can call me Becca. I am a barista in my day to day life. My free time is spent writing fics as well as a few original stories. My current fandom obsession is Criminal Minds, James Bond, and Teen Wolf. You can follow me on my website or on Archive of Our Own under the name DarkJediQueen.

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