Title: Ten Feet off the Ground
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Genre: Fix-It, Angst, First Time, Slow Burn, Crime Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Relationship(s): Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Content Rating: Mature
Warnings: Assisted Suicide, Dark Themes, Death-Minor Character, Discussion-Child Abuse, Discussion-Domestic Violence, Discussion-Murder, Discussion-Other Trigger Topics, Discussion-Rape, Discussion-Sexual Abuse, Discussion-Torture, Disturbing Imagery, Kidnapping, Violence-Canon-Level, Violence-Graphic
Author Notes: While writing this a single song kept running through my head. Apologize by OneRepublic.
Word Count: 63,285
Summary: Spencer did not realize what kind of ripples would come out of him not moving his mother but then who does know what happens when decisions are made. Even decisions that should have little effect on the others around him.
Chapter 07-For What?
Spencer had woke up with a hangover before. His friendship with Morgan made sure of that. Though waking up like this was nothing that Spencer had ever felt before. He was on the floor, that much he knew but he had not opened his eyes yet. It didn’t smell like any place that he knew. He tried to recall how he got where he was. Where his memory should be was just a massive blackout of information and Spencer didn’t like it at all. He reached into his pocket, moving slowly because it felt like he might throw up. Spencer used the flashlight on his phone to look around, and he saw a body beside him. Spencer forced himself to get up and move to where he could check for a pulse. Then he realized that he was covered in blood and scratches.
There was only a single thought in Spencer’s mind, so he brought up his maps function on his phone and took a screenshot of it and texted that to Hotch. Spencer then called him.
“Hotchner,” Hotch said, and he sounded stressed, and Spencer wondered what was up.
“Hotch?” Spencer croaked.
“Reid, where the hell are you?” Hotch demanded.
“I don’t know, but I opened my map function up on my phone, and I sent that to you. There is a dead body beside me. I’ve covered in scratches and blood. I think that I bit someone, but I can’t see a mark like that on the body beside me. Though I have not really got up. I think I was drugged.”
“We are going to stay on the phone. We are headed to you now. It’ll be Morgan, Dave, and I. We’ve been looking for you for hours. You went on the coffee run and never came back to work.”
“Yeah, I can’t remember that. I remember waking up this morning, and then it hurts to remember. I feel like I might throw up.”
“I’ll have a CSU team dispatched to where you are as soon as I get a better address. Morgan, have Garcia open up the text on my phone and get a CSU team there immediately.”
“How is?” Morgan asked, his voice being picked up over the phone.
Spencer closed his eyes and laid down again. The room was spinning, and he wasn’t sure what he could do. If he was drugged the less, he did anything the better as it would dissipate less in his system with the blood not pumping as much. Spencer felt the paranoia creeping in just like he had when he had been last drugged against his will. He tried not to think of the smell of the place.
“REID!” Hotch yelled.
“Sorry, Hotch. I’m trying not to smell burning fish hearts and liver,” Spencer said.
“We are getting there, Spencer. We are close.”
Spencer squeezed his eyes shut a little tighter as he heard sirens. He recognized the ones that were on the standard SUVs that the Bureau used. He stayed down because he didn’t want to get up and puke. Spencer pulled the phone away from his ear and looked to see if the flashlight was still on.
“I’m going to wave the phone back and forth in an arc, Hotch, with the flashlight on.”
“Okay.” Hotch sounded like he didn’t want Spencer to do it, but it was the only way without playing a game of Marco Polo. Jack had taught Spencer about that game one Sunday when they had gone to a pool to swim for a summer birthday bash for the boy since his birthday wasn’t in weather that was good for outdoor things.
Spencer rolled to his side because he was afraid he couldn’t fight back the puking anymore and he didn’t want to choke. He kept on waving the phone and then the door was broke down. Spencer let the phone drop, and he curled into a ball.
“Morgan, you have to stay back, you are technically not supposed to be here,” Rossi said.
“Hotch?” Spencer cried out.
“He’s getting evidence kits from the back Reid. We can’t get close until we make sure that we preserve this crime scene. How are you doing?” Rossi asked.
“I feel like I’m going to throw up.”
“Okay, try and hold on until we can get something for you to throw up in.”
Spencer felt a hand under his head, and then something pressed to his face. He threw up without anyone telling him to. He felt a hand in his hair, helping to hold him to whatever he was throwing up in.
“Call an ambulance,” Hotch said with his voice right there at Spencer’s side.
“You got it,” Morgan said.
“I’ll call Brannon,” Rossi said.
Spencer couldn’t hear anything else from them because he was only concentrating on throwing up and making sure that he didn’t do it all over Hotch. After a while, it was just dry heaves but those sucked just as much as full out throwing up. He tried not to think too much about it.
After five minutes of Spencer now throwing up, there were the sounds of sirens and new voices.
“Hey, Doc, how are you doing?” a voice asked.
Spencer couldn’t place it at first. He tried to but couldn’t. Spencer forced his eyes open to see Jack Garrett there in front of him, crouched beside Hotch. Hotch was dressed in one of the outfits of blue, almost paper to stop him from contaminating the scene. Garrett wasn’t in that, but he was careful it looked like.
“Hi, Garrett. I’ve been a lot better.”
“I bet. Look, we need to get a few pictures of you in the room. Where have you been since you got up?”
“Here. I was on my back, but I rolled to my side when I thought I might throw up. I looked around from here and didn’t go anywhere. If there were drugs in me, and I think that there is, then I didn’t want them rushing about too much and disappearing.”
“Good, that means that you haven’t contaminated this much. Simmons is going to go back to the hospital to help with the collection of evidence on you. Hotch is going to go, as well. He might be able to help you more if he stays with you. He’s good at directing your brain, and Simmons isn’t.”
“I want you to walk out so that we don’t have a gurney disturb the body. Grab Hotch to stand up.”
Spencer did as Garrett said, reaching out and grabbing Hotch’s arm to steady himself as he stood up. The world spun, and Spencer realized what was in him. “It’s whatever Hankel cut his Dilaudid with, partially. I recognize that feeling.”
“Hankel?” Garrett said.
“Dead UnSub who kidnapped and fed Reid a cocktail of Dilaudid that he had cut with a hallucinogenic until he was mentally dependent on it. He’s been clean since then, and his record does state it and that he sought help from the correct places afterward.”
Spencer looked at Hotch because he had no clue that his file stated any of that. Though he knew that he had been given a tox screen after being in the hands of Hankel for two days, he just hadn’t realized that it had all of the other stuff.
“None, there was just his father and his mother. His mother left him when he was young, and we tracked her to a grave three counties over. She died of an overdose from the abuse at the hands of her husband. The father was dead before he starting his killing. No one would come after Reid for that, and the details like that are not public knowledge. The man was a loner who only stalked people online and didn’t go out into the world that much. So I’m not that concerned about that angle.”
“I’ll look into who had access, and when the tox screen is done, then we can also run that MO.”
Spencer was led to a gurney, Morgan was there in civilian clothes looking like his world was rocked. Spencer held out his hand but dropped it when he saw the blood. Morgan shook his head but gave Spencer a smile.
“I’ll go to your place and lock it down and have CSU go there just in case. Your keys were found, and that’s what started the manhunt for you. You carry your car key separate than the rest, and so we were looking for your car. We saw it down the street, and CSU has a tech going over it before it’s taken to be given a more in-depth look.”
“Check the handle,” Spencer said.
“First thing CSU dusted. There were prints but unsure if they are yours or not.”
“Shouldn’t be. My car was detailed not too long ago, and the guy who does it is the same size as me. Once he’s done cleaning the carpets and such, he puts the seat back where it belongs then wipes the whole car down. There should be no prints in the car except for mine, so if you find any, then it’s someone else. I’ll give Hotch the name of the man who details my car, and he can give up prints to clear himself.”
“I’ll get Monty on that,” Garrett said. He gave Spencer a look. “You worry about getting yourself looked at.”
“I need to call my sponsor. I left my phone in there, but can I use your phone?” Spencer asked Hotch.
“Of course, once you are allowed.”
Spencer laid back on the gurney and closed his eyes. The world was spinning a little bit, and he wasn’t sure what was going on with him. While this felt like that drug that Hankel had given him, it could have been any manner of drugs, but any information is better than none, even if it sends the team down a weird spiral.
The doors were shut on the ambulance and Spencer opened his eyes. Only Hotch and the EMT was in the back with him. He turned his head to see that Simmons was up front.
“Walk me through what you can,” Simmons said.
“I don’t remember much outside of coming into work this morning. I remember stealing chocolate from JJ’s desk and then working, and after that, it gets blurry. Right now, I don’t know if that’s from the drugs or a side effect of the drugs on my system at the current. I can’t do a lot of recall at all, really. Not even the book that I was reading last night. Which I should, but that could just because I am very off right now.”
“That’s okay, we can talk more once the tox screen is done. The hospital knows you are on your way and have their best techs waiting for evidence collection as well as their best blood draw person. We are going to get to the bottom of this, but for now, you are in my custody, you won’t be allowed to talk to Hotch alone.”
“He’s not going to a damned thing that will make it seem like he’s covering anything up,” Hotch said.
Spencer looked at Hotch until the shaking of the rig had him feeling nauseous again. He closed his eyes.
“CSU has arrived and have started to process the scene.” Simmons tone was normal, or what Spencer thought was normal. It was interesting to hear it. Spencer didn’t talk much with the International Response Team outside of Monty. Spencer felt himself slipping into sleep, and he didn’t stop it. His body obviously needed it. As he did though, he saw an image, and that was of him holding a knife, but it was wrong like someone had put it in his hand. It wasn’t how Hotch had taught him to wield a knife just in case he was ever in a fight with an UnSub and got it from the UnSub.
Spencer forced himself awake and tried to look at Simmons.
“Simmons,” Hotch said as he reached out with a still gloved hand and pressed Spencer down. “Talk, Reid.”
“I just had a memory. Hotch taught me SWAT fighting tactics with knives. The woman was stabbed, yes?”
“Yes, she was, and it was very sloppily done.” Simmons was free with the information, so Spencer figured that he wasn’t afraid of Spencer using that against him.
“I had the knife in my hand, but it was like I didn’t know what to do with it. It was being held totally wrong, and I would have lost it as soon as I tried anything with it.”
“He’s not the greatest with a knife like that but he would know how to hold it, and it’s pretty ingrained at this point. We went over it again, not long after I got back. I’ve personally made sure that he’s able to pass the entrance and final exams in all of the physical stuff since he was taken by Hankel. He’s not going to use a knife like that unless he was drugged and if he was drugged.”
“He could have been made to see or think anything. What are the odds that this could be retaliation?” Simmons asked.
“For Mr. Scratch? Slim to none but we’ve dealt with copycats before and someone who had a vendetta who made it look like a copycat. It’s not that hard as most of our cases are very public given the nature of them.”
“Bag,” Spencer said, and he rolled onto his side as Hotch brought the bag up to him and let him puke into it. He knew that it was being kept to be analyzed in case what he was given had been ingested. It was still disgusting to know. The FBI lab techs were going to hate him.
“Monty has all of the footage. It shows you following someone Reid. You went to go into the shop but stopped when you saw someone off to the side. You texted someone and then are gone from all cameras. Do you know who you were following?”
“No,” Spencer said between dry heaves. Spencer hated that he wasn’t able to hold the bag himself but there was blood all over his hands and under his nails, and it was best to wait to have it collected than him to throw up on his hand. He hoped that he would be able to be given something for nausea soon. He that wouldn’t be until after he had his blood drawn and the tests were wrong. He would be looked over for anything that was on his body to check for injection spots as that would help narrow the tests down.
Spencer ran through everything that he could in his head but found that it was all jumbled. He couldn’t think straight, and he didn’t like it. Spencer looked over at Hotch with a frown on his face. Hotch gave him a smile back and looked like he wanted to touch to reassure him, but it was better that he didn’t.
“How are you feeling?” Hotch asked.
“Like shit. I’ve not felt this bad since Georgia. The nausea isn’t going away. I just want to sleep but we are too close, and I’ll just have to wake up and talk to everyone. Make sure that they-” Spencer closed his mouth to fight off a wave of nausea.
“I’ll tell them about your allergies. I promise.”
“We are here,” the driver said.
Spencer steeled himself for what was to come.
Spencer held out his hand for the bottle of water that Hotch was holding out to him. He had been poked and prodded more in the last three hours than he had in his entire life combined Spencer was pretty sure. Every single inch of his body had been photographed, and Spencer was glad of it as there were marks on his body that couldn’t be explained given the fact that the victim he was supposed to have killed had no marks on her and no blood and skin under her nails. Garrett was keeping Simmons up to date, and he was keeping Hotch up to date. That meant that someone else was in the room and had left. There was no ID on the woman yet, but her prints were being run, and her face was being compared to local missing persons and then would expand from there. It was hell to Spencer who was still having issues with his memory, and that was pissing him off.
“Thanks,” Spencer said. He had given several containers of his own urine for them to check as well as his blood. His mouth had been scraped and samples collected from there. It was insane how thorough the techs at the hospital were being, but when they slacked somewhere, Hotch and even Simmons suggested something.
“You are welcome. Now, I have the first tox screen test back. You were not given Dilaudid or the hallucinogenic you had been given by Hankel, but that’s as much as we know. Simmons had them test for those first. More will follow soon. How do you feel after your shower?” Hotch looked Spencer up and down, making Spencer look at himself. Morgan had brought a Go bag to the hospital after Garcia had run it to him at the site where Spencer had been found. Garcia thought that Spencer would like some familiarity but knew that she couldn’t face seeing him at the moment. Garcia was very upset, and she wanted Spencer to be strong.
“How do you feel about trying to do an interview now?” Simmons asked as he entered the room. He shut the door behind him. They had been given a very large private room in the ER that had little traffic around it.
“My head is pounding less, and the medication that they gave me for nausea is helping. Would you be running it?”
“No, I’m going to let Hotch do it. He knows you best. I’ll suggest things if I think he’s lacking somewhere, but Hotch knows your brain. He knows when to push and when to let go. Your brain, Doc, is not something that is easily tackled. I don’t want to botch this by having your mind shut down because I dove too far in the wrong way. I’ll be recording it and monitoring it so no can claim he’s biased.”
Spencer looked at Hotch and saw that Hotch nodded just a little. Hotch agreed to the plan.
“I’ll turn the lights down,” Simmons said when Spencer nodded in agreement.
“No!” Spencer and Hotch said at the same time. Simmons raised his hand away from the wall and walked to the chair in the corner where he had been sitting before while waiting on news.
“Close your eyes,” Hotch said as he walked to stand in front of Spencer where he was sitting on the hospital bed with his legs over the side.
Spencer waited a few seconds to shut his eyes until he was sitting with his legs crossed in the middle of the bed. He did his best thinking like this. If this failed, it would be fine. He was still drugged, and it would take a while for it to entirely leave his system.
“Go back to work and tell me everything,” Hotch said. His voice was strong and steady like it always was.
“I got to work an hour early because I had the consult with a late night shift worker in California. You weren’t even in the office yet.” Spencer walked him through the whole morning, where the gaps had been in his memory before he found that those were not there anymore. He didn’t start to have issues until he was going to get the coffee for everyone.
“Why did you stop?”
“The face on the woman was familiar. I knew it. It didn’t fit with anyone who should be here, though.” Spencer chased that thought, but it vanished. He frowned. “It was a long time ago, and I thought I might have made a mistake.”
“Simmons have Garcia pull all cases a year and a half on either side of a decade.”
“I know,” Hotch said. His hand settled on Spencer’s knee to stop the words from flowing from his mouth. “What happened next?”
“I followed her to a corner and went into the alley. She was on the phone and giving a report. She turned around and looked shocked to see me. She said that they had to move today instead of waiting as I had seen her. Then it’s all gone…” Spencer trailed off as there was something nagging at the edge of his memory. He didn’t force it and instead just settled in and thought about the smell of the alley and the sounds coming from behind him. Then something else starts to but in on his mind. He frowned.
“I smell blood and shotgun powder.”
“Where are you?”
Spencer opened his eyes, and all he could see was a high school bathroom with two dead bodies. Spencer took off, running to the bathroom and threw up. He barely made it to the toilet, and on his second heave, he felt a hand on his back.
“High school bathroom. Jack and Lindsay Vaughn,” Spencer said between heaves.
“You watched him kill two kids because Lindsay egged him on. Why would she come after you, though? It was her, right?” Hotch sounded confused, which was something new for him. It was rare that anything confused Hotch that much.
“Yes,” Spencer said. He closed his eyes and rest his head on his arm that was braced on the back of the toilet.
“Case number?” Simmons asked.
Spencer listened as Hotch rattled it off and then the sound Simmons’s footsteps left the room. Hotch’s hand on his back didn’t stop rubbing, even when Spencer dropped down to his butt on the floor.
“Are you okay?”
“No. I saw it again. It’s what started making me crave the last time.” Spencer fought nausea again.
There was a soft tap at the door, and Spencer called for whoever it was to come in. It was a nurse. She had a bottle of Gatorade in one hand and a little plastic cup in the other.
“The agent said you started to throw up again. Drink this and take this.” The nurse handed over the two things. Spencer recognized the same pill he had been given before to help with nausea. Spencer tossed the pill back and took a drink of the Gatorade after Hotch opened it. “When he starts to feel like he can move again, take him back to the bed and have him lie down. The doctor will come and check on him again in a few minutes.”
“There is also a name here named John who said that he would like to see you both, but I have kept him back. He refused to show me any form of ID.”
“Gravelly voice makes you quake a little as he looks at you?” Spencer asked.
“He’s my sponsor. Please send him back.” Spencer wondered why John wanted to see Hotch, but he wasn’t going to question the man.
“You haven’t called him yet? How does he know-” Hotch cut himself off because his mind had to have gone to the same place that Spencer’s would have. Only the FBI and those agents of it would know where he was.
“I’ll send him back once you are in bed. I will reserve the right to throw him out if he upsets you.”
“He won’t. He just wants to check on me.” Spencer smiled at her and turned to Hotch. “I’m ready to go back to the bed.”
Hotch helped Spencer stand but let go of him once he was up. Spencer walked on steady feet to the bed. The doctor had vetoed IV nausea meds just because he didn’t want to add another hole to his skin, just to be safe. Spencer knew he had been given a low dose the first time and that he could take a lot more given his size. He also knew that one of the main side effects of this particular version was sleepiness.
“Hotch,” John said as he entered the room and shut the door behind him just as Spencer was getting settled on the bed in a mostly upright position. Hotch had forced him to lay down, even though Spencer would rather be sitting up to talk to John. “The LEOs who patrol that area received a tip just a few minutes after the EMTs took you away, Spencer. They were told that a person had been murdered that they saw it and gave your description. The LEOs want to question you, but I’ve blocked them for now. The Director is being briefed, and he’s aware and agrees that keeping you here under lock and key is best.”
There was a knock at the door, and John turned to open it. He stepped back to let whoever it was in. Spencer did sit up when he saw it was the doctor.
“Hyoscine,” the doctor said. He handed a paper to John when he held out his hand. John’s frown deepened as he looked at it. He handed it to Hotch next.
“Well, it looks like I am going to be going back and seeing who has had access to the Mr. Scratch case that shouldn’t and taking a look at everyone who has had access to it.”
“We kept it quiet that he had been caught and killed,” Hotch said.
“I’m well aware, that’s why I want to know who knows about him. Hotch, you are not to leave his side. The timeline that I have been given an exact time of death and what this says your rough dosage time was considering what the levels were when your blood was taken as well as urine, you were under its effects when she was killed.”
“I would stand to guess that he was still too out of it given the TOD that I heard the agent in the hall saying. He was still too out of it and not enough under the point where he was suggestible. He would have not done it at that time. If it were me, I would clear him of charges on it based on that alone. I will also go on record on that. I’ll write up my report and give it to the agent who is outside.”
“Thank you,” John said.
The doctor left, and there was silence for a few minutes. Spencer picked at the blanket that was over his legs. He didn’t remember Hotch even covering him up with it, but he was grateful for it as he was feeling cold. He wanted to roll onto his side and cover up and shut out the world. Spencer did lay back down and looked up at the ceiling.
“Spencer,” John said. He waited for Spencer to look at him before he continued to talk. “You are going to be with Hotch at all time. He knows enough law to make sure that you don’t say something that the LEOs will jump on or for whoever did to get access to you and try and pin something else on you.”
“Hotch, you need anything just text. Spencer has both of my numbers. We are going to work on this until he’s free of this. If you would rather I order it, I can. I want you to act as his legal counsel.”
“Yes, Sir.” Hotch nodded his agreement.
“There are no sirs here, just friends.” John gave Hotch a wane smile, and then he was gone from the room.
Spencer grabbed the blanket and pulled it up to his chin. He felt the bed dip and rolled that direction. Spencer sighed as he started to warm up from the heat trapped under the blanket. He closed his eyes and willed everything to just leave. Spencer couldn’t figure out why the girl who had been going by the name of Lindsay Vaughn would do what she had done. It had to be at the hands of whoever she was talking to on the other end of the phone.
“Sleep,” Hotch said as he laid his hand on Spencer’s shoulder and rubbed for a few seconds before he moved on the bed a little. Spencer felt an arm above his head, and then Hotch’s fingers were carding through his hair. Spencer sighed.
“I do feel tired.”
“That’s the pills. I won’t leave this room, and I am armed. Nothing is going to happen to you.”
“You are going to get bored.”
“No. Garcia brought me my work tablet when she dropped off your go-bag to Morgan. I will have enough to let me relax. I have files I can work on.”
“I’m here Reid, and even if I have to step into being a lawyer again to make sure that the FBI does right by you in this, I’ll do it. I won’t let anything happen to you. I won’t let anyone accuse you of something that you wouldn’t do. I’ve got your back, as Morgan says. I’ll make sure that you are treated fair. When you wake up, I’ll get Simmons in here again, and we can see about memory recovery from when you were drugged. Your brain is pretty damned awesome, and I bet we can work through some stuff.”
“Okay.” Spencer tried to force his body to relax. He felt Hotch move on the bed, and then he was back, hand in hair again. Spencer could hear the slight vibration of the haptic feedback on the keyboard on the screen of the tablet, and that helped him settle down into sleep. He trusted that Hotch would help him with anything and everything that he needed and he knew that he was safe with Hotch there. The man would not break his word like that. It would take an act of extreme force to get him from the room, and he would make sure that Spencer was awake and Simmons or someone else who was to be trusted was in the room with him if he had to leave.
Spencer knew that he shouldn’t feel as safe as he did with someone gunning for him, someone who hated him enough to set him up for murder. If the LEOs had got there first and arrested him, who knew what the drug test would have looked like. It was speed and quick thinking that had made sure that he was still under the effects of the drug when he had been given his intake at the hospital that had made everything.
The team would figure out who was gunning for him, he trusted in that. He trusted in the family that he had built over the years, and he trusted that together they were smarter than any UnSub out there. They had toppled some of the best, and this one would be no different.
Chapter 08-House Arrest
Spencer heard Hotch walk past his bedroom door for the third time in the past half an hour. He knew that at some point Hotch would give up walking past slowly to see if Spencer was awake and he would just knock. Spencer hoped that it would be a long while. He was feeling claustrophobic being right there with Hotch all of the time. At work, Hotch was there, when Spencer was going to and from work, Hotch was there, at “home” Hotch was there. Hotch had laid out his choices, and he didn’t like them. Spencer did not want to live inside Quantico until the people who were after him were caught. So Spencer had to go and live with Hotch. No one else offered and really no one but Rossi had the house or the security for him to live there.
Jack thought that it was the best thing ever. He was so damned happy that Spencer was there. Jack, though, was the least obtrusive in Spencer’s life. Jack let him be when he was in the bedroom, but Hotch wasn’t. Hotch was hovering. Spencer had already blown up about it once, the night before after Jack had gone to bed. Now it was Saturday, and Spencer hadn’t left his room, and it was just after eleven in the morning. Spencer had a stash of protein bars and drinks in his room that had caffeine in them and some that did not. He could technically stay in there until work on Monday. Hotch wasn’t going to allow it, though, Spencer knew that. Hotch was going to smoke him out, but Spencer wasn’t going to give in first. He was going to make Aaron make the first overture.
Spencer had lived alone basically since he had gone to college at almost thirteen, he didn’t know how to live with someone else. Especially someone with a child. Spencer had taken care of himself since his father had left. Spencer didn’t need someone to watch over him and feed him. He could cook his own food if he didn’t want to eat when Jack and Hotch were eating dinner. He didn’t need someone to make his coffee and bring it to him. He was a damned adult, and he would do what he wanted though some of that was probably diminished a little by the fact that he was hiding in Hotch’s guest room like a pouting child though Hotch had been the one to start to sulk and pout first.
Closing his eyes and carefully flopping back on the bed, Spencer rolled onto his side and pulled the pillow he was using to his front to cuddle it. Hotch was taking care of him like a child, and Spencer didn’t like it. He had blown up the night before about it when Hotch had made him a cup of coffee and brought it to him. Coffee didn’t keep Spencer up at all, not even when it was the time of day for sleep. Spencer had been reading on the couch like he did every evening after dinner. He also drank one last cup of coffee, usually left from that morning and warmed in the microwave. Spencer had inhaled his two cups that morning as he had got distracted by a book that had come in the mail for him that he hadn’t noticed that Hotch had put on his dresser. Morgan drove by Spencer’s apartment every single day, getting the mail from the landlord as there was a notice that it was only to be delivered to the landlord and if the landlord wasn’t there, then it was to be held until the next day.
The FBI wanted no chances taken at all with Spencer and the people who were framing him for murder. After the room where Spencer had been found with the body had been thoroughly searched by CSU and everything processed, the FBI agreed with the doctor that the woman had been too out of it when murdered and that Spencer had been too out of it to actually murder her. There was also the fact that the blood and DNA that had been on Spencer from where he had fought back before being dosed did not match the dead body. The current theory was that the woman was an accomplice of whoever had taken Spencer from that alley and she had been killed on accident when Spencer and the other person had been fighting. The wound on her chest had been sloppy. She had bled out into her chest cavity instead of being a direct hit on her heart. There was no way to tell who had killed her. However, given Spencer being kidnapped as well as the marks that he had been fighting back were all over him, Garrett was holding that even if Spencer did kill her while fighting back, he couldn’t be held accountable. Which he might have had enough awareness to do at the time, maybe, it was in self-defense or an accident — much like a cop and UnSub fighting over a gun and it going off on accident.
Spencer didn’t think that he killed the woman but given the scenario that Garrett laid out he could see it. He could very much see him going after the person who had drugged him, Lindsay Vaughn and then more happening. Morgan and Hotch had taught him over the years to fight for his life instead of just run like he had learned from the bullies in school. Of course, he had muscles and the training to do that, but still, it was against everything that he was actually to do that. It was ingrained deep for him just to run, just like he was doing now.
When Spencer had accepted living in Hotch’s house as an added protection, to not being out of at least one team member’s sight at all time, Spencer had thought that he would just stay in his bedroom at Hotch’s and live like he usually did. Which was eating when he wanted, watching TV when he wanted, hell just reading when he wanted. There was a TV in the room along with cable, Hotch had even added the science tier channels to his cable package. The FBI was paying for his room and board because Rossi had fought for that. Spencer was still paying for everything for his apartment as well as the new and very upgraded security on it.
Whoever Lindsay Vaughn was working with had to be connected, and Lindsay was only targeting Spencer because of his job. That meant it was on the FBI’s shoulders to make sure that he was protected. The team was running every single case that had Spencer as a focal point with the UnSub or even a victim. There were actually a lot, but Spencer kept on going back to Cat Adams. He kept his mouth shut about that, though, not wanting to influence the team. Garrett’s team was doing the same thing, and they were all going for their top five and seeing what matched up. Spencer was all for that, it would be less bias if all five matched up or even just the top three. Cruz was taking a more proactive look into the BAU at the moment. He had gone on three cases so far. All three of them the team had been pairing up and even though there was a rotation to that, typically, would mean he didn’t even share a room with Hotch, he had been in Hotch’s room. While the FBI didn’t care who stayed in what room, there were unwritten rules that males and females were not supposed to share, but no one on the team actually cared.
Spencer didn’t mind sharing with Prentiss when she had been on the team or Blake, and now Lewis and it was never a hardship to share with JJ. Rossi sometimes roomed alone, paying for the room himself if he had a lot of work to do on his books or he would pull Spencer into his room if he wanted to talk to him about the book. Other than Rossi snoring, Spencer didn’t mind sharing with him. Rossi was the least intrusive into Spencer’s life while they were rooming together besides the females. Morgan had always been in Spencer’s business, and Hotch stared, at least lately he did. Spencer had taken to actually showering at night instead of in the morning because then at least right after he was done with that he could go to bed. Even if he just laid there with the covers of his head, he at least didn’t have to actually talk to Hotch.
Living with and being around Hotch nearly twenty-four hours a day meant that there wasn’t much to talk about. Hotch was there for everything that Spencer did, except the three times in the past three weeks when John had picked up Spencer to go to meetings. Spencer was glad of that because Hotch never asked about how things went. He kept that part of everything separate from the life he was kind of living with Spencer.
“Reid?” Hotch asked through the door. It was low enough to where it wouldn’t have woke up Spencer if he was, in fact, asleep but loud enough that Spencer would no doubt hear him if he was awake. Spencer didn’t move, he barely breathed until he heard Hotch walking away. Spencer grabbed his book and started to read, turning the pages with a carefulness that he usually didn’t have. There was no sound from him.
Spencer wandered out of his bedroom when it was about an hour past lunch time. He found Jack in the living room, working on a very detailed coloring book. Jack loved art, he was becoming a pretty damned good artist. The boy liked to cuddle in at Spencer’s side when he was talked into watching a movie at night with them and draw.
“Where’s your father?” Spencer asked as he noticed that Hotch’s car was gone. Spencer wandered to the kitchen to grab something to eat. He opened the refrigerator door and found that there was a lunch plate there with his name written on the saran wrap. It was a sandwich with a little dish of Hotch’s potato salad, about the same amount that he usually ate at meals when Hotch brought it. There was also a post-it note that said that chips were in the cabinet.
“Dad went to the store, and you were asleep, so he told me that if anything weird started to happen, I was to run upstairs and lock myself in your room and call the cops before trying to wake you up.” Jack was there in the room with Spencer by the loudness of his voice without it echoing.
Spencer pulled the plate from the fridge and set it down on the small island that was in the kitchen. It’s where a lot of meals were eaten while the rest were in the actual dining area at the other end of the long kitchen. Spencer filled a glass with water from the fridge. Hotch bought really good filters for it, and it tasted pretty good. There was still bottles of water in the fridge for taking to go like when Jack went to play soccer and the like, but mostly water was drunk from the fridge.
Jack sat down across from where Spencer had set his plate and looked at him with a very serious look on his face. He looked a lot like Hotch at that moment. “Can we talk?”
“Always,” Spencer said as he walked to the cabinet and grabbed the bag of chips. He dumped out an amount that looked good for how hungry he was. He put up the chips and sat down. He unwrapped the plate and picked up the fork that was already on there. It was shit like that which made Spencer upset to be slightly angry at Hotch. The man was trying hard, but when Spencer asked for space, Hotch looked like he had kicked a puppy in his view. Spencer wasn’t used to living with anyone. It wasn’t in the way that he was. He needed breathing space, but Hotch was just too damned nice, and Spencer didn’t know how to be mean to him without feeling like he had yelled at a toddler. It was maddening to Spencer.
“Dad says that someone bad is after you.”
“Yes, there is someone very bad after me.”
“I heard dad say that someone took you and he got you back. Is that why you are living here?”
“Yes, that’s why I’m staying here.”
“Why don’t you go and live like Dad and I did? The hiding stuff?” Jack asked.
Spencer wasn’t sure how to answer that question or why Jack was asking it. He thought that Jack was liking him living there, but it seemed that maybe he had overstayed his welcome. Perhaps a few nights in that office that Garcia had turned into her own hideaway wasn’t that bad. He could figure out everything from. Spencer was a grown assed man, and he could tell Hotch that he didn’t want to stay there anymore. It would better. Spencer’s heart would stop aching and stop wanting the weird little family that Hotch was trying to make them into. Hotch was just being nice and trying to make the best of a horrible situation while Spencer’s heart and mind were latching on trying to be happy about it all. Trying to let him think that he could have it all forever.
“I guess because there is no one else in danger. Your dad knew that hiding in a place like Aunt Penelope did where she didn’t leave the base for weeks wasn’t something that you could do. He felt that hiding was the best option. I guess I could go and do that, go and stay at the base. We don’t know who I am hiding from. You at least knew so if you saw him you could act accordingly. I don’t know all of the faces so it could as easily be a strangers face that kills me or does whatever they want to do to me as it would a familiar face.” Spencer looked down at the food in front of him, he wasn’t feeling hungry anymore. He laid down the chip that was in his hand and rearranged the fork to where it wasn’t going to do anything before he wrapped his food up again.
“Are you not hungry, Spencer?” Jack asked. He looked distraught.
“I ate one of my protein bars, and I think it’s just still sitting kind of heavy on my stomach.” Spencer tried to reassure Jack that he was fine, but it didn’t seem like it was having the effect that he wanted it to. Jack looked like his father did when he knew that someone was lying to him. Spencer tried not to let that show as he stood up and put the food away. He really hoped that by dinner time he had a plan going on what he was going to do and that he could eat again. There were still several protein bars in his room, so even if he got hungry, he would be able to actually eat something without leaving his room.
Spencer didn’t even look at Jack as he grabbed his glass of water to take to the bedroom. Hotch had told him that it was his for however long it needed to be, but Spencer wasn’t sure that he did feel welcome anymore. Jack it seemed was a little tired of Spencer being around. It wasn’t until Spencer was shutting the bedroom door that he saw that Jack had followed him. The look of disappointment on Jack’s face as he closed the door though had Spencer regretting ever agreeing to come to Hotch’s house.
Laying on his bed, Spencer looked up at the ceiling. He hoped with time that Jack would want to be friends with him again. Rolling onto his side, he wrapped his arms around his pillow and just breathed. He really hadn’t ever felt so alone in a house with two other people in it.
Spencer grabbed his three books from the stack by the dresser by the door but set them back down again. He instead grabbed the notepad beside them and three different colored pens. He left his bedroom, ready to face whatever questions Jack had about him and his life and what the boy probably thought was subtle ways of wanting to know when Spencer was leaving. Spencer had already messaged John about having someone come and help him move from Hotch’s house the next day.
There was no noise that Spencer could hear from the top of the steps leading down onto the ground floor of the house, but that didn’t mean anything Spencer had learned. Spencer walked down the stairs soft enough that he hoped Jack or Hotch didn’t hear him, and he slipped right into the little room that was on the corner of the house. It was a nice little sitting room. Spencer got into the chair that he liked and settled into it with his feet propped up to where he could use his legs to hold the notepad up to write on. He looked at the three colors he had chosen: purple, blue, and green. He picked purple to write the list of things that he needed to remember to pack up when he started in the morning.
After the packing list, Spencer worked on the pro and con list that he had going in his head about reasons he should stay and reasons he should leave. Jack passed by the room when Spencer had added his fifteenth reason to leave. Spencer looked up to see that the boy had been heading up to the second floor. Spencer found that he was thirsty, so he set down the pen and paper to go and get himself a drink. He remembered that he had left his glass up in the bedroom, so he walked up the steps to get it because there was no reason why he should get another dirty.
The kitchen smelled wonderful, and Spencer saw that there was some kind of meat being cooked in the crockpot at the side of the stove. There were also hard and soft taco shell boxes on the counter. Spencer smiled at the plates that he had seen in the store while shopping with Hotch the weekend before. They were oblong shaped platters that were made for holding tacos upright but also had little wells on the plates to have extra toppings to add to the tacos as one ate them. Spencer had picked out a red one for Hotch and a blue for Jack. Hotch had doubled back and snagged a purple one for Spencer. The three plates were stacked on each other ready to be used to eat dinner on. Spencer hadn’t eaten a single thing since he had rejected lunch after finding out that Jack didn’t want him there. Spencer refilled his glass and drank about half before filling it again. He walked over to the doorway leading out to find that Jack was there with Spencer’s list.
“Are you leaving?” Jack asked. Spencer could not tell if he was shocked or if he was upset. He could just be so happy that he was unable to really feel lit.
“Yes,” Spencer said, and he reached out to take the notebook back. Jack jerked his hand away, though.
“Why?” Jack asked.
Spencer decided not to answer that. Either Jack wanted him to say it out loud or something else, Spencer wasn’t sure.
“Where is your father?” Spencer asked instead.
Jack looked like he didn’t like that Spencer was evading his question.
“He forgot something at the store, so he went back.” Jack looked down at the list again, and he seemed to crumble. “Why did you and Dad break up? Before I mean.”
“Break up? What?” Spencer asked.
“Back after Aunt Emily came back. You were gone for a long time, and then Dad started to date, Beth, and I liked her but Dad never…he let her chase him, and I could tell that he was going through with it because he thought he should but she kind of made him happy and he was so unhappy for so long after you and him broke up. Then you started coming around again and then we had to go away. I thought that you moving in here would help you two get back together, but I just don’t understand why you broke up in the first place.”
Spencer just looked at Jack, trying to process those words. He knew what the words meant when they were all alone, but he wasn’t sure what they meant together. Spencer walked backward because if he didn’t find someplace to sit down, he was going to fall down. Jack was looking worried and dropped the notepad before rushing over and taking Spencer’s glass of water from his hand. Spencer had forgotten about it, and it seemed like he was about to drop it. Spencer let Jack take it from his hands.
“Jack, I don’t understand.”
“I know you two thought you were keeping it a secret. I mean, you stayed over a lot, and you made Dad smile so much. He wasn’t happy after he and Mom divorced, I was young, but even I could tell that. Then he started to hang around with you, and then you came around more and more in the months after Mom died. You made him smile. You made him laugh. He loves you, I know he does. Can’t you just forgive and forget whatever happened that made you and he break up? If you did something stupid, can you just apologize? If he did something stupid, make him apologize.”
Spencer still couldn’t think. He heard the front door open and shut and then the sound of the deadbolt slamming home. It echoed in his head. Spencer dropped his head down into his hand because he didn’t want to look Hotch in the face. He wasn’t sure what look he had on his face, but it couldn’t be a good one.
“Jack?” Hotch asked as he stepped into the room.
Spencer heard Jack take in a breath, and he tried to reach out to cover the boy’s mouth. Spencer did not want Jack to bring that up. It was not going to end well, and then Spencer would have to leave today instead of tomorrow. Jack danced away from Spencer’s hand, though, and he walked over to stand in front of his father with his hands on his hips.
“Jack, please,” Spencer begged.
“No. You aren’t happy. Dad’s not happy. Spencer’s going to leave, and I don’t want him to. Why can’t you two just make-up and be a couple again? Why did you break up in the first place?”
Spencer looked at Jack in shock. He didn’t want him to leave? Then why was he acting like he had been? Spencer stared at Jack, not letting his eyes wander up to Hotch’s face. Hotch wasn’t homophobic, but for Jack to pick up on Spencer liking Hotch, that meant that Spencer had been doing something like it for Jack to pick up on and living in the same house as a person who liked you and you didn’t like them back was unsettling.
“I’ll just-” Spencer stopped and pointed at the second exit to the room. He walked fast, but he hoped that he wasn’t running. He couldn’t tell. Spencer escaped to his bedroom. He didn’t need this, he didn’t need anything like this in his life. Spencer locked the bedroom door and then went to the bathroom. He shut and locked that door as well before sliding down the door.
Hope was gone. Spencer had hoped that when he brought up leaving that Hotch would tell him that he was welcome, that Jack would, and it was all a misunderstanding. Spencer patted his body for his phone, but he realized that it wasn’t on him. He must have left it in the sitting room. Spencer let his head fall back, ignoring the flare of pain that radiated from that point. Spencer didn’t know what to do. His arm started to itch, a small nuisance that would turn into a full craving if he didn’t do anything. His mind whispered about the bliss that the drug would give him. The hallucinogenic instead of the normal Dilaudid. It would make this all go away, his brain wouldn’t fixate on it. His brain wouldn’t go over everything to see how he could have avoided it.
The first thing was, of course, even leaving his room. He had no reason to do that. He could have sat in the window seat and go to the sun that he wanted. He had just been sick of being cooped up in the room. Which when Spencer went to Quantico, he was going to be stuck in a room anyway. The looks of pity that he got throughout the work day were enough that he didn’t want to see them when he was supposed to not be working. He wondered if he could crash in Monty’s office. He was there at weird hours, depending on the cases that the team took. While Spencer’s was a priority, it was all hunting and researching. It wasn’t boots on the ground, so the team took other cases. At this point in time, it was really Monty doing the digging and then the team doing the profiling. WitSec had been contacted about Lindsay Vaughn, but they had been no help there. Even to someone like Rossi, who knew how to game the system.
Spencer heard a noise and realized that it was Hotch unlocking his bedroom door. Spencer reached up and made sure the bathroom door was locked. He grabbed a towel and shoved it to the door, blocking light from leaving the bathroom. At least then Hotch would not be able to see him sitting where he was. Hotch’s footsteps drew closer.
“Come out, Reid.”
Spencer ignored him. He wasn’t going to answer at all. Instead, he just started to scratch at his arm. The pain helped sometimes. He knew that it was not a good coping mechanism, but still, he needed something. Spencer did not make himself bleed.
“Spencer, please, come out.”
Spencer had never heard his name said like that before. There was so much pain in the way it was said. There was a lot of emotion besides the pain in it as well.
“Please,” Hotch said again.
“Just go away,” Spencer said finally. He felt wrung out like he was going to just burst into tears at any moment. Spencer got up from the floor and turned on the water in the shower. The guest room in Hotch’s house only had a stand-up shower stall, but Spencer didn’t take many baths. He hadn’t since he had to soak his knee in solutions to help it heal. Spencer liked showers. Spencer stepped inside and shut the door, making sure that it latched before he stepped under the spray. The water was hot, and it felt good. He tipped his face up into the spray and let it wash over his face, removing the tears before they even really formed on his eyes. Spencer wrapped his arms around himself.
As a child, Spencer thought the world was vast and massive. As he grew up, he learned that it was small and cold and humorless. Right now it felt both small and vast. He felt like his personal world was narrowing around him while the rest of the world was just moving along on its own and didn’t even notice that Spencer’s world was wrecked.
Knees giving out, Spencer let himself fall down. His knees cracked off of the tile below, but the physical pain was barely felt. He wrapped his arms around his body tighter, the warmth from the water not penetrating to him anymore. He felt like he was frozen. The world got a little colder, and then it stopped. Spencer wondered what it was until he felt the hand on him. He turned around to fight away from the way that the hand was trying to make him move. He tried to push away the hand even more, but his body wasn’t working.
It wasn’t until he was tucked into the person with him, their bodies aligned in a weird way that Spencer took stock of how his body was. He thought he was crying, but it seemed that he was actually hyperventilating. No wonder the person with him was pulling him out of the direct spray of the water. Spencer could still feel the water soaking him, soaking his clothes because he just noticed that he still had them on.
“Breathe with me, Spencer,” Hotch said. His voice was soft and gentle, like the hand that was running through his hair.
Spencer tried to breathe in and out like Hotch, but it felt like his clothes were restricting him. Spencer struggled to get his shirt off, and in the end, Hotch had to help him with it. Spencer shuddered as the cold air hit his wet skin before Hotch moved them to where the water was falling on his back again. Spencer looked at Hotch’s face. Hotch had stripped down to his undershirt but was still in his pants.
“Breathe with me,” Hotch said again, laying a hand softly on Spencer’s sternum but keeping the other in Spencer’s hair. Spencer exhaled when Hotch did, even as the man pressed down on Spencer’s skin below his sternum. He inhaled when the pressure let up. Within three full breaths, Spencer was calming down.
Though that caused Spencer to start crying again. Hotch used the hand on his head to pull him into where he was laying with his face pressed into his neck. The water stopped flowing, and Spencer realized that Hotch turned off the water. Spencer made a very unhappy noise but didn’t do anything else. There was little for Spencer to do but to lay there and wait to see what Hotch did.
Time passed, but Spencer didn’t know how long he just laid there, breathing in the scent of Hotch while trying to push his mind to help him think. It was like his brain was broken. He knew that it was too much. It was too much too soon, too much too quick, just too much everything. Hotch finally started to move, lifting Spencer with him. Spencer finally moved to freak out a little and wrap his arms around Hotch’s neck to hold on.
“Dad?” Jack asked.
“Go and get that blanket that’s on my bed, Jack.”
Spencer wanted to protest, but his whole body was shaking, and he didn’t know what to do to get it to stop. Hotch moved away from him just a little, and there was the sound of the door shutting.
“I need to get the wet clothes off of you, Spencer,” Hotch said.
Spencer nodded his head, or at least he thought that he did. Hotch started to work on the belt on Spencer’s pants, and Spencer leaned back, realizing that Hotch had set him on the toilet. Spencer was little help as he was stripped naked. A fluffy towel was wrapped around his shoulders, and another was used to dry him off. There was a knock on the door.
“Take it down to the couch and plug it in,” Hotch called out.
“Hotch?” Spencer croaked.
“Why are you calling me, Spencer?” Spencer could count the number of times that Hotch had called him that on the one hand before today. Spencer lifted his head to where he could look Hotch in the face, and he looked away in the same instant because Hotch’s eyes were…strange. That was the best term for it. Spencer couldn’t take it. “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
“Because if I leave you alone, you are going to crawl inside of yourself and you are going to close yourself off to everything. I know you, Spencer, and you don’t like confrontation when it’s truly personal.” Hitch reached out and pulled up Spencer’s face to where they were looking each other in the eye. “You were going to leave, and we’ve not talked about that. I don’t want you to leave. Jack does not want you to leave. I think that in trying to give you space, you’ve been feeling bad for yourself. I won’t stop you if you really want to leave. Do you?”
Spencer tried to escape the gaze that Hotch was forcing on him, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t escape it at all.
“No,” Spencer said.
“Then you aren’t going anywhere. It’s good that John texted me about how you were planning to leave, under escort but still.”
“Dad, the blanket is warm,” Jack said from outside the door.
“Thank you, Jack. Why don’t you get some water into the kettle, and once I get Spencer settled on the couch, I’ll make us all some cocoa.”
“Okay,” Jack answered.
Spencer was still just staring at Hotch’s face. The love for his son was written all over his face. He looked at Spencer, and there was something else there as well. Spencer felt his stomach drop to the floor. Hotch helped Spencer stand up, and Spencer saw a pile of clothes on the corner of the counter by the sink. Hotch reached back and grabbed the long-sleeved shirt that had been in Spencer’s dresser. It was his warm, sleeping clothes. Hotch dropped to his knees after he got the top on Spencer to help Spencer get the sleeping pants on. There was no underwear. Spencer started to turn to leave, but Hotch’s hand on his hip stopped him. Spencer looked back at him. Spencer didn’t know what he wanted. He didn’t understand a lot of things.
“I did not realize that Jack thought that you and I were dating before. I did not realize that he thought that we were heading toward that again. He was so very upset with me when we went into hiding, but up until an hour ago, I didn’t understand why. Let me just say that my eyes got open to what Jack thinks about my life and how stupid I have been with it. When I got home, you looked at me. I’m not even sure that you realized that you did, but you looked at me with such a look of longing and love that I was a little taken aback by it. I thought that I was the only one who was feeling anything. I think I was forcing myself not to do anything stupid that I didn’t see what was right in front of my face.” Hotch reached up and brushed his knuckles down the side of Spencer’s face. Spencer swallowed at the intimate touch. “I don’t want to not act like there is nothing going on, but right now, you are feeling trapped. You are not yourself fully, so I don’t want to start anything but Spencer I promise the day that this is all done, we are going to talk about this. We are going to go on a date. If you still want me, that is.”
“Yes,” Spencer said.
“Good.” Hotch smiled at him. He took a step toward Spencer but stopped when there was a squelching noise. “I think that maybe I need to change and dry off. I’ll join you downstairs. Do you want dark, white, or milk hot chocolate?”
“Hmm, dark.” Spencer swallowed to try and get his voice to work right. “You really want a relationship?”
“It wasn’t until I didn’t have you in my life like you were before that I realized that I was in love with you, Spencer. You were gone, and there was no getting you back. So I stayed on the sides then you started to reach out again. We started to be friends again, and I promised myself that having that was better than having nothing at all. So, yes, I want a relationship. I want everything in the world with you.”
“I love you too,” Spencer said, and it was all that he could get out. Hotch smiled at him and ushered him out of the bedroom. Jack was in the living room and all but pushed Spencer down onto the couch with a pair of fluffy socks, mismatching in his hand. Spencer put them on and got under the blanket. It was a heated blanket and it kind of felt really good. Jack tucked himself into Spencer’s side and didn’t move, even when Hotch came down the stairs. The TV was on a random science show about the pyramids in Egypt. The smell of really good hot chocolate filled the room and then seconds later Hotch was setting down a tray with three mugs of it. There was whipped cream on top and then liquid chocolate on top of that. Hotch handed Spencer one and then Jack before he looked at the couch. There wasn’t room for him at the moment, but Spencer wanted him there. Even if Hotch was speaking the truth, there was a part of Spencer that was not going to believe him until actions were made. Spencer wiggled his legs, and Jack sat up, moving down. Spencer sat up as well and looked down at the now empty spot that was just big enough for Hotch to drop into if he didn’t care about having to touch Spencer. Hotch picked up the third mug and settled it down onto the end table before he sat down. Hotch turned, hitting Spencer in the back with his knee, but it was worth it when Hotch pulled him back to where his back was against Hotch’s front. Hotch wrapped an arm around Spencer’s waist and held him close, using his free hand for his hot chocolate. Spencer was warm, and not all of it had to do with the blanket that was on him. Jack was cuddled at his feet, something that he knew the boy didn’t often do, Hotch talked about how he was getting less touchy as he got older, which was to be expected.
There was going to have to be a lot of talking between Hotch and Spencer before anything more came of all of this. Spencer knew and understood why Hotch wanted to wait for everything to be over. There were statistics about relationships started in times of intense emotions. Spencer didn’t want to be one of those statistics. Spencer didn’t want to lose the friendship that he and Hotch had built back up.
The program on the television turned to something that Spencer wasn’t interested, so he leaned forward to grab the remote, and he found the BBC channel, and it was showing Planet Earth. Spencer made a pleased noise as he settled back into Hotch’s body. Hotch’s arm came around his waist again, but this time Spencer felt skin on skin. Spencer gasped, and the hand on his stomach stilled.
“Sorry,” Hotch said, and he started to move it away. Spencer dropped the remote and laid his hand over Hotch’s. He pressed it back.
“No, it’s fine. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
Jack slid off the couch and looked at the two of them with a smile on his face before he took off toward the second floor.
“What did you tell him?”
“The truth that we were just friends the first time and we are just getting back to being really good friends again. That we need to talk more before anything else happens. So expect him to leave us alone a lot because he knows that even with his age, adult conversations happen when he is not around. You feel warm, finally.”
“And rightfully so you went from me and Jack abandoning you to your mother and her death to being targeted by a serial killer and him being killed in your building where he tried to either kill you to take you to Jack and me coming back to someone else targeting you and trying to frame you for murder. I would say that it’s one of those things where the writer has tried to cram too much into a story, but this is your life, and it’s happening. There isn’t anything to do but roll with the punches, but sometimes a few punches land a little hard.”
“Garcia told me that I was the universe’s whump toy. I did not ask her what that meant, and I don’t think that I want to know as it doesn’t sound healthy at all.” Spencer looked down at his hot chocolate to take another sip of it. He had drunk about half so far. The whipped cream was mostly gone, or sunk down into the drink itself. He swirled it a little before downing what was left. Hotch relaxed his arm as Spencer leaned forward to set his cup down. When he leaned back into Hotch, he stretched a little. The warmth of the blanket was making him want to go to sleep. He had been sleeping like shit since he had woke up with a dead body.
The clink of Hotch setting down his mug on the end table sounded through the room as Spencer yawned. He tried to hold in the second that followed right after but he couldn’t.
“Why don’t you lay down?” Hotch patted the one thigh that was not being covered by Spencer’s body.
“Are you sure?”
“I wouldn’t offer if I wasn’t, Spencer.”
“Okay, Hotch.” Spencer pushed himself down the couch to where he could lay his head on Hotch’s thigh. He made sure that he could see the TV, though. His glasses kind of pushed into his face but he didn’t care. Hotch pulled the blanket up until it was at his chin and then that hand was threading through his mostly dry hair. It was going to stand up on its ends tomorrow, but he had the things to tame it. It wasn’t long until Spencer was nearly asleep.
“Dinner?” Spencer asked as his brain thought out the tacos that Hotch had been making.
“I hadn’t actually got too far with the actual meat other than browning it so it can just sit at room temperature until you wake up and then I can finish it up. Jack and I can eat a snack, and then when you wake up, we can do tacos.”
“Love your tacos,” Spencer said, his eyes losing the battle to stay open.
“I know you do. Sleep, Spencer.”
“Love you too.” Spencer wanted to take the words back, but the fingers in his hair scratched at his head a little.
“I love you, too,” Hotch said back to him, and that put Spencer the rest of the way to sleep.
Chapter 09-A Morning in the Life
Spencer started to roll over in bed so that he could get up for the day. He found though that he was trapped. Spencer felt something at his back, and it even wrapped around the front of his stomach. Spencer inhaled and was ready to freak out when whatever was behind him moved and made a noise. From years of sharing hotel rooms, Spencer knew Hotch’s slight snore. Spencer felt his heart stop racing. He opened his eyes, and the room was blurry, but he could make out that he was in his room at Hotch’s house. Spencer tried to remember what had happened that put Hotch in his bed, but he was very blurry memory wise. Spencer couldn’t feel skin at any point of their touching, so they were both in clothes. Spencer knew that he was, and he assumed that Hotch was as well. That meant no sex, which was good because Spencer wasn’t all there mentally. He had been seeing a Bureau approved therapist for his issues and going to his Beltway Clean Cops meetings with John every week that they were in town. He was feeling a lot better, a lot less depressed but still nowhere near where he wanted to be to start a relationship that was going to mean anything to him.
Hotch moved at his back again, Spencer stayed still because this was actually kind of nice. It had been a long time since Spencer had slept in the same bed as anyone but JJ. JJ liked to be cuddled sometimes and with the ups and downs over the years for them both personally, sometimes just being held by someone who understood was nice. Spencer breathed shallowly like he had learned he did while he slept and made sure that Hotch wasn’t awake.
When Hotch did nothing more, Spencer relaxed. He was a little uneasy but not a lot. Spencer took stock of his body as he blearily tried to make out the time on the clock on the nightstand. It was just after six. Spencer wondered when he had fallen asleep because he remembered sitting his bed reading a book that had come for him in the mail. Hotch had just smiled when Spencer came home to find a package on the table for him. Spencer had opened it up, but the book was not one that he had heard of. Still, he opened the cover to read the blurb on the inside panel of the dust jacket. He kind of hated that after that, he wasn’t allowed to read because the novel sounded really interesting. Hotch though had made him leave it until after dinner. That all on its own wasn’t a hardship, not at all. Instead, he just focused on Hotch and on Jack.
Jack had calmed down a lot in the last few weeks. He had learned that no one was going to take Spencer away, and while the relationship had not been what he thought it was, it was no moving toward that. Jack was loving and attentive with both of them and that kind of shocked Spencer.
Neither Jack or Hotch were acting all that different, but it was looking through it with new eyes, fresh eyes that weren’t depressed because of his life. Instead of feeling like a child, Spencer felt loved, which that of itself was a strange feeling for him. Spencer hadn’t ever felt like this before. Not outside of his mother, and that feeling was confusing inside of him after the ups and downs with her medical issues.
“Too early for thinking,” Hotch said into Spencer’s neck, his breath ghosting over Spencer’s flesh making him shiver.
Spencer stilled because that shiver had him realizing that Hotch was hard. Spencer knew the biological cause of what was called morning wood, but to feel it on someone else was strange. To feel it pressed into his ass was strange. He tried to act normal, but he wasn’t sure precisely what normal was for having a person in the bed that hadn’t been when he had gone to sleep the night before and waking up with them and their erection.
“Spencer?” Hotch asked. He didn’t sound worried, just a little inquisitive.
“Too early for my brain to function right,” Spencer said, trying to pass everything off.
“It was functioning just fine to wake me up because you were thinking too hard. Why are you?”
“I went to sleep alone and woke up with someone in my bed,” Spencer said.
Hotch tried to remove his arm, but Spencer laid his hand over it.
“You had a nightmare. I came in to comfort you before you started to scream. You only settled down when I was holding you, I couldn’t get you to wake up without resorting to pain, so I laid down with you. I didn’t mean to fall asleep in here.”
“I don’t mind now that I am awake enough and it didn’t take long for me to figure out that it was you. You make a little snoring noise when you are fighting waking up.”
“No one has ever told me that. Is it annoying?”
Spencer thought about it. “No. It’s kind of cute. It’s like you are a little kid fighting waking up.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that’s been considered cute before,” Hotch said. He nuzzled in at the back of Spencer’s head, his arm tightening around Spencer’s stomach. Under the blankets, it was warm, and Spencer wanted to get up and start the day, but he also didn’t. It was a down day. It was Friday, and there was no work. Everyone had rushed to get the files from the case done as well as anything that was left from while they were gone and Hotch had given them a three day weekend. For Hotch and Spencer that meant a day alone with no Jack and nowhere to be. It was the first time it had happened since feelings had been discussed.
“Well, to me, it’s cute. I guess it could be disgusting to someone else.”
“I’ll get up and get Jack ready for school. Jessica is going to run him because she has something to do out and about today, but we will have to go and get him. How about I cook us breakfast when he’s gone?” Hotch asked.
“I can cook,” Spencer protested. He had cooked dinner the night before. He had done pretty good he thought on the sweet and sour pork that his mother used to make for him. He had adapted it to make it a little spicy as well because all three of them liked spice in their food.
Hotch laughed at Spencer’s back and wrapped his arm around him just a little tighter. It rolled them to where Spencer was kind of at an angle with Hotch’s weight on him a little. It was kind of pleasant feeling. Spencer had thought that sharing a bed with someone new was going to be weird, but it seemed like so far things were okay. He had not woke up at all it with Hotch in bed with him.
“I’m going to go on my run. I’ll come back and shower and then get Jack up.”
“I can do that,” Spencer offered. He wanted Hotch to know that he treasured Jack. Spencer knew that Beth had liked Jack and still it hadn’t allowed their relationship to last. Spencer wanted this to last. He wanted it to be forever and that kind of scared him because he had never thought that he was the settling down type at all. Hotch was, and the yearning that Spencer had for that was deep inside of him.
“You don’t have to,” Hotch said.
“I know that I don’t have to, but I want to. I enjoy him.” Spencer knew that it wasn’t the best wording in the world, but it was close to what he wanted to say. He wasn’t the most eloquent since he didn’t have any caffeine in him. He had stopped drinking coffee because it had been making him jumpy the past few weeks. It was the waiting around, the waiting for the next move to be made and even with Hotch there to help settle him, it wasn’t working. Hence the nightmares every single night. Spencer rolled over, and he didn’t look at Hotch’s face but instead just laid there for a few seconds before he rubbed his face into Hotch’s chest. Hotch’s hand moved from his lower back to the back of his head, it settled there rubbing like it was a comfort and it was. Hotch had always been a source of comfort for him, and really it wasn’t any shock that he had fallen for someone who made him feel safe.
“I’m thrilled that you enjoy him. Tell me how you feel the first time he wakes you up when you want to sleep in.” There was mirth in Hotch’s voice, and Spencer pushed at him a little in retaliation before drawing his hands up to where there were pressed between their chests. Hotch wiggled an arm under his head, and it tipped it to where when Spencer opened his eyes, he saw that Hotch was looking at him. “I want-”
Spencer waited for Hotch to continue, but he didn’t. “What do you want?”
“A lot of things but many of them I know you are not ready for.” Hotch let go of Spencer’s head and pulled the arm out from under his head. Hotch propped his head on that hand while the other brushed over Spencer’s bottom lip. Spencer felt that it was swollen. He hadn’t noticed that he had been biting at it. “Can I have a kiss?”
“Yes,” Spencer said.
Hotch moved instantly, the hand moving from his lips to his neck and pulling him up to where Hotch could brush their lips together. With his lip so sensitive, Spencer could feel that more than usual. He couldn’t help the gasp that escaped, and all that did was urge Hotch to do more. Hotch pressed their lips together for a few seconds before he rolled them a little. Spencer felt Hotch’s erection press into his hip, and another gasp left his mouth, which was hushed a little by the addition of a tongue. Spencer didn’t want him to stop because he had been dreaming of this for a long time and he wanted it, even if he wasn’t ready for more.
They made out on the bed until Hotch’s watch beeped that it was time for him to get up for his run. Hotch pulled back, one arm bracing him up on the bed. Hotch leaned down again and pressed a kiss to Spencer’s forehead before he pushed up and off the bed. He stayed right beside it and held out his hand to help Spencer up and off of it. Spencer reached out to him and let himself be pulled up by him.
“We will have to pick that up another time,” Hotch said with a fond smile on his face.
“Yes,” Spencer said. His voice sounded rough like he had been screaming instead of just making out. “I’ll get tea started. What kind do you want this morning?”
“Surprise me.” Hotch pulled Spencer in for a quick press of lips before he left the room.
Spencer looked down at his hard cock and debated what he was going to do about that until he thought that Hotch was going to take a run and there was no way he was going out with his cock hard, so he was probably going to jerk off. Spencer walked into the bathroom and locked the door. He looked at himself in the mirror and rubbed at his still slightly swollen bottom lip. The top had subsided, but both were still red. Spencer reached down and pulled his cock out of his sleeping pants. Outside of college, Spencer hadn’t jacked off anywhere, but his own home in Vegas where he lived with his mother and his apartment in DC. It just wasn’t something that Spencer did while on cases.
There was a bottle of conditioner beside the sink, and Spencer used that to lube up his hand. It was better than nothing and would at least not foam and get sticky like soap. Spencer closed his eyes and imagined what had just happened in the room. Hotch on him, kissing him, only he allowed it to go further. He allowed his mind to wander to how it would have felt if Hotch had started to rock his erection into Spencer’s body. How it would have felt if Hotch had not stopped at all. The feel of Hotch pressing him into the bed and taking what Spencer would have given him. Spencer came with a barely muffled cry, hand over his mouth while his other stroked his cock. Spencer started to run water, happy that his release had not gone too far. He did not want to have to clean the mirror.
Spencer jumped when there was a knock on the door.
“Yes?” Spencer called out.
“I’m leaving to go run now. I’m going to lock and alarm the door when I leave.”
“Okay, be safe!” Spencer called out. The run was the only time that Spencer wasn’t around Hotch during the day really. Hotch didn’t make trips to the store like he had before, he forced Spencer to go with him just to get Spencer out of the house. It had helped with Spencer not feeling as trapped.
After washing up a little and debating a shower or not, deciding not as he had showered at work late in the day before and didn’t plan on doing anything that would make him sweaty today, he could get away with a shower tomorrow. Spencer went down to the kitchen to get a pot of tea going. Hotch had swapped with Spencer to tea for at least the time being. Hotch had gone out to a local tea shop that sold loose leaf tea and the like and had bought many kinds so that Spencer could find the ones that he liked. Spencer had spent a weekend trying them and decided on a few that they went out and bought a lot of. There were even herbal teas, which Spencer and the shop lady had got into a cultural debate about the usage of herbal tea vs. tisane. Hotch had just found a place to sit down while Spencer and the shop lady talked. It had been a good outing for Spencer. Opening the cabinet door, Spencer looked at the flavors that were there. He wanted black tea, his preference for the morning time. Jack liked it because it meant that he could drink some as well. Herbals were for at night, and Spencer drank white and green tea while at work. Spencer and Monty had bonded over it as it was the only thing that he drank.
Spencer took his time with the water, and then he got lost in his head as he watched the tea brew in the large teapot that had been bought. It was heat-safe glass and allowed them to watch the tea as it brewed. Which the whole reason was some of the hand wrapped blooming teas Hotch had bought without Spencer knowing. Watching the tea unfurl had been an enjoyable time for all three of them. It was pure artistry in Spencer’s mind.
Feeling an arm wrap around his body, Spencer startled just a little bit, but he heard Hotch’s laugh.
“I guess you didn’t hear me,” Hotch said as he stepped just a little closer. He was sweaty but didn’t stink. Spencer was just kind of glad he had not changed out of his sleep clothes. It felt good, though, to be wrapped in Hotch’s arms.
“What did you pick?”
“Chai. I’m just in the mood for it.”
“Sounds good. A little milk and sugar in mine, please. I’ll go up and shower.”
“And I’ll get Jack out of bed. I figured I would cut the whining a little and have the tea ready for him.”
Hotch made a humming noise before he kissed Spencer on the cheek. He stepped back from Spencer and left the room. Spencer looked at the timer and saw that he only had a minute before needing to pull the leaves, so he waited to do that before heading up to wake up Jack. Jack was usually easy to wake up. Spencer never heard Hotch have an issue with him, but after one too many mornings of Spencer barely getting any sleep and then demanding coffee, Jack had started to do the same with tea. Spencer made all three of them a cup of tea and set them where they usually sat to eat breakfast before he headed up the stairs to wake up Jack.
Jack, though, was already awake and nearly dressed for school. Jack still showered at night so that he could sleep a little longer in the mornings, so that was one thing he didn’t have to do. Homework had been finished the day before Hotch and Spencer had got home, Spencer had even looked it over to check things.
“Morning,” Spencer said as he stepped into Jack’s room.
“Good morning,” Jack said.
“You got up early.”
“I woke up early and went to talk to Dad but he was in your room, and you both were asleep, so I came back to my room and sat on the bed to read.”
“Did you have a nightmare? You should have woke up your dad.”
“No, no. I just wanted to ask a question about doing something this weekend, but you both were really asleep because you didn’t hear the door squeak as it opened.” Jack smiled up at Spencer. He grabbed his backpack and shouldered it before waiting for Spencer to turn around and leave. Spencer heard Jack’s steps all the way behind him as they walked. The shower shut off just as they were getting to the bottom of the stairs. Spencer smiled as he thought about Hotch being naked and wet.
Jack dropped down into the kitchen chair and picked up his tea. He took a sniff of the tea before a hesitant sip. Jack smiled. Chai was one of his favorite flavors. It was one of Spencer’s as well. Hotch seemed to be fond of peach. That would be what Spencer made next.
“So what are you doing in school today that is going to be fun?”
“Science. Instead of just a single period, we are going to spend the whole afternoon in science class. All of the afternoon classes are like that. We are doing an experiment that takes three hours from start to finish and can’t be stopped once it’s started. Dad will get an email with the link to the secure video so he can watch it. I wanted to make sure that the video was going to be watchable by parents since they were recording it. I am Miss Abigail’s special helper through the whole thing because I got the best score on the last test.”
“That sounds really fun. We will have to watch it together tonight.”
“Cool,” Jack said. He held out his cup for a refill. Spencer took it and added a little sugar and a splash of milk before filling it up with tea. Jack wasn’t going to get more until he ate breakfast.
Spencer found the travel mug that he used and filled it with his second cup of tea, adding a little more milk and sugar to it. He stirred it before sealing it up. Jessica would probably enjoy a warm cup of tea on the drive.
“Hello, again,” Hotch said as he pressed a kiss to Spencer’s check. He already had a cup of tea in his hand and took a sip. “Perfect. Thank you.”
“You are welcome.”
“How does cereal for breakfast sound, Jack?” Hotch asked as he walked to the fridge to take out the milk. Jack rarely turned down cereal for breakfast during the week.
Spencer got down three bowls and set them on the table before walking to get the cereals they all preferred. Spencer turned after grabbing them, but Hotch was there taking Spencer’s out of his hand. He placed it back in the cabinet. “But…”
“I said I was going to make us breakfast. Drink your tea and eat a cookie if you need something in your belly.”
“I don’t get to eat cookies for breakfast,” Jack protested.
“Spencer is not a growing boy who needs good food if he wants to grow up tall.”
Spencer cocked an eyebrow at that because he knew that good food had little to do with height unless it was severe undernourishment. Which would never be the case with Jack.
“Rats,” Jack said.
Spencer set the box of cereal down on the table and looked at Hotch he opened his mouth to talk, but Hotch shoved a cookie in there. Spencer glared at him but ate it. Hotch set about grabbing things from the fridge. It looked like he was going to make something with eggs, bacon, and cheese. Spencer sat down at the table and pulled his legs to where his feet rested at the edge of the chair. His chin on his knees to watch. Hotch moved like he always did, it was smooth and with purpose. It was no different in his kitchen.
When Jack was done eating, he rinsed his bowl out with hot water and set it in the drainer but left the spoon in the sink for a better washing. He gave Hotch a hug and then Spencer.
“Oh, I have tea for Jessica,” Spencer said. He started to get up, but Jack walked to the teapot and grabbed it. Just as Jack was turning, there was the honk from Jessica’s car. She was ready to take Jack to school.
“Have a good day!” Hotch yelled after Jack as the door slammed shut. There was another honk about two minutes later to tell them that they were actually leaving.
“He’s excited about the science experiment this afternoon. He wanted to talk to you about something but found you curled around me in my bed, so he left us alone and was reading in his room until time to get up.”
“I’ll make sure and talk to him about it tonight. Why don’t you come over here with your tea?”
“Sure,” Spencer said as he uncurled. He walked to where Hotch was warming up a pan and leaned against the counter. Spencer always felt it a little weird because Hotch did all of his prep on the left side, which wasn’t odd given that he was mostly left handed but having nothing on the right side was weird. Hotch stepped over to stand in front of him.
“Up,” Hotch said.
“Yes, up on the counter.” Hotch helped Spencer sit on the counter and lean back against the cabinets before he went back to the pan. Spencer watched as he turned on the oven and then set a cookie sheet up on the counter. He sprayed that with a light coating of oil before cutting up some potatoes.
“Potatoes, cheesy eggs, and bacon. How does that sound for breakfast?” Hotch asked.
“That sounds really good, Hotch.” Spencer’s stomach growled it’s agreeance. Hotch looked up at Spencer with a strange look on his face. Spencer wondered what he had done wrong in so little of time.
Hotch finished cutting and adding the potatoes to the pan before he put the lid on it and wiped his hands on the towel that he had draped over his shoulder. He picked up his tea and finished it off before refilling it with what was left. He didn’t add anything to it at that time.
“Do you think you’ll ever think of me as Aaron instead of Hotch?” Hotch asked. He propped his hands on the counter on either side of Spencer’s hips.
“I-” Spencer swallowed. He had never thought about that. He knew that once they moved to more intimate things that calling him, Hotch wasn’t going to be something that he did, but he hadn’t thought about mentally at all. He hadn’t thought a lot about what he was going to call him between work and home. “I hadn’t thought about it?”
“That sounds like a question, Spencer.”
“I just…” Spencer huffed. He reached for his tea but found it empty. That made him pout. Hotch held up his and Spencer gladly took it. He would have to see about making the next pot soon. He needed more. Even though he had slept well the night before, he was dealing with too many other nights in a row where he didn’t sleep well. “You haven’t asked me to call you anything other than Hotch. Though I guess that I should have taken you calling me Spencer as a reason to, huh?”
“Maybe but then I forget that societal things are not your strong suit. Yes, I would like it when we are outside of work, I would like you to call me Aaron.”
“Aaron,” Spencer said, trying the name out. He looked at Aaron’s face and saw that his eyes were a little dilated. They had not been before he had said the name out loud. Spencer laughed and leaned in to press their cheeks together. Aaron pulled Spencer into a hug and held him until the potatoes started to smell cooked. Hotch let go and tended to breakfast.
Breakfast was fun and entertaining as they ate just like they were, Aaron standing up and Spencer sitting on the counter. Aaron even started the next pot of tea because he wanted to keep Spencer right where he was, it was easy access for kisses, which were plenty. It was a nice way for Spencer to get used to the new aspects of their relationship. Spencer was really glad of that.
After breakfast, they both worked on a little light cleaning around the house. Aaron had a lady that came in once a week and did a deeper cleaning while he was at work, given being out of town for work and then at work a lot when he was home, Aaron gladly paid someone to clean up his place so he could enjoy more time with Jack. The dusting, though, and light vacuuming in the living room area was something that Aaron did when he was home, and things needed a little tending.
Lunch was pizza that Spencer ordered in, and they ate it on the couch while watching random things on TV.
Aaron’s phone rang just as Spencer was finishing up his half of the pizza. Aaron was in the kitchen, getting them each another cup of tea.
“Get that would you?” Aaron yelled.
Spencer picked up the phone. It was Aaron’s work phone, and it was Alvez calling. “It’s Alvez!” Spencer knew that Alvez was on an assignment for Spencer’s case, but that was all that he had been told about it. It seemed that only Hotch knew where he was.
“Reid here,” Spencer said.
“Reid? Where is Hotch? I need to talk to him.”
“He’s coming from the kitchen. Just give him a moment.” Spencer turned to start walking to the kitchen. He met Aaron halfway between the two rooms. Spencer was just pulling the phone from his ear when he heard a voice on the other end.
“Just tell him I’m fine!” Jack said.
Spencer felt his heart drop to the floor. Wherever Alvez was, Jack was there. Alvez was working on Spencer’s case. Whoever was after him, his money was still on Cat Adams, had gone after Jack. Spencer felt his knees give out, and he didn’t try and stop his fall.
“Spencer?” Aaron said. He reached out for Spencer, but Spencer jerked away from him. Spencer couldn’t take that at the moment. He thrust the phone at Aaron, and when Aaron had a hold of it, he tried to get up. His legs wouldn’t allow him. Hotch looked at the phone and then set it down. He pressed a button on it, speaking, “Alvez, what happened?”
“You were right, Hotch. Lindsay Vaughn came after Jack.”
Spencer shut off his mind then. He didn’t want to hear any more. He had just got happy again. He had just got Aaron and now…
Aaron wasn’t going to want anything to do with him.
Chapter 10-Botched Attempt
The sounds around him were the first thing that trickled through Spencer’s mind. He didn’t move at all and just waited for the sound to actually make sense. He could hear voices talking, but he wasn’t sure why one of them sounded off. The pain came next, so he shut that off again. He went back to his world, where everything was fun. Back to Caltech where he was lost in his papers, in his research, in doing everything he could to make himself invisible to the world around him. He tried to stay there, but the voices kept calling him back. No matter how many times he tried to go away, he always drifted back.
Spencer was afraid because he had never had that issue before. He could live in his mind for hours, for days. He had done that once when his mother had gone on a long trip through never believing that Spencer was Spencer, so he found a closet and locked himself into it. He would drink when he was thirsty but other than that Spencer had been in that closet for days. He came out once a night to use the bathroom and sneak a little food, but even those memories were hazy. Like he hadn’t quite fully come out of it.
“I don’t know!” a voice yelled.
“Dad!” another voice said softer, gentler like it was chastising the one that yelled.
“I’m sorry, Jack, but I don’t know where Spencer is. I got up to go and check the doors and windows on the ground floor and then the second floor, and then when I came back, he was gone.”
“Hotch,” another voice said, this one female. “Did he leave the house?”
“I don’t think so. I didn’t hear the beep of the alarm being turned off, and it was still on when I came back down.”
“Then he’s hiding somewhere,” another female voice said.
“Spencer told me about how he used to go away in his mind; he would find a safe place to go and then just disassociate from life. From what I can understand, he’s not done it in years. What changed? What made him do it this time?”
“We don’t know that is what he did,” the first voice said, calmer.
“Walk us through it, Hotch.”
“He nearly dropped the phone as he was handing it to me. His legs gave out. I checked him, and he didn’t respond. He seemed to try and get up like he was trying to run, but his legs wouldn’t work. I had to secure the house as Alvez was bringing Jack back here while the FBI escorted Vaughn to Quantico. I came back, and he was gone.”
“And you didn’t hear him on the steps?”
“The front steps make creaking sounds but the steps that lead up in the back of the house don’t. Spencer uses them more than anything else.”
“So he’s somewhere in the house, hiding. The kid’s good at hiding from what I’m to understand.”
“Let’s just each take a room. Let’s start the top with someone watching both sets of stairs while we look. When we can block the stairs and check the ground floor.”
“I’ll stay down here,” the kid sounding voice said.
Spencer wrapped his arms around his body tighter. He knew that he should get up and tell them that he was fine. He just wanted to go to where he was safe, safe from violence, safe from emotions, safe from the pain of losing a family he had just started to build. He wanted to run. To just take off and not stop until all he could think about was running. Until every single bad memory was gone from his head.
There was a creaking sound and then nothing. Spencer ignored it because it was probably the stairs that the one voice talked about. Then there was a body cuddling into his side. It was small, smaller than him by a lot. Spencer didn’t move. He tried not to breathe.
“I found you,” the voice said.
Spencer didn’t want to answer. If he didn’t, usually people went away.
“Spencer, please answer me.”
Spencer said nothing. He was about to try to go away again when he heard the sound of a door opening. Light flashed a little at the edge of Spencer’s vision, and he closed his eyes.
“Why didn’t you say something, Jack?” that first voice asked.
“Because I wanted to talk to him first. It’s not nice to force someone to do something they don’t want to do unless it’s for their life or health.”
“Spencer,” the first voice said again.
“Don’t,” Spencer croaked. He tried to make himself smaller and tried to visualize the doorway. The sound that the man was making told Spencer that he would have little luck running.
“Please, Spencer, look at me.”
Spencer shook his head no. He heard a soft thud and then hands were on his arms, rubbing. He thought that the person sat down. He could get out easier as it would take the man a minute to get up. Spencer was about to move when a hand wiggled under his arm and wrapped around him.
“Okay, everyone,” one of the other men said. “Let’s go outside. I think that we need to give Aaron and Reid some time.”
Aaron. That name sparked in Spencer’s mind. The man who was across from him. The kid at his side was Jack. His almost family. Spencer couldn’t hold in the sob that bubbled up his throat. Hands were touching him, pulling him in. He didn’t even fight being pulled into Aaron’s lap. Aaron’s arms held him close to his body. It felt good. It felt right. Spencer made a keening noise, he was in pain but it wasn’t a physical one, it was an emotional one.
“Please,” Spencer begged, but it was the only word he could get out.
“I love you, Spencer,” Aaron said in Spencer’s ear. Spencer heard the wounded sound that he said in response to it. “I love you, and until you are asking me to let you leave, you are not leaving. I won’t let you go.”
“But-” Spencer swallowed around the lump in his throat.
“Jack’s fine. She only got to grab his arm before Alvez was there, and Jack hit her in the breast.”
“Jack’s always been a target in this. He and Henry were the most vulnerable. That was shown to us when Will was taken as a hostage, and Henry used against him. I knew that Jack was a target from the moment that I had you move in here with me. Alvez has been stationed there since then and watching for anyone who took an interest in Jack. He was safe.”
“Hey, Spence,” JJ said, but Spencer didn’t turn toward her. Spencer kept his face buried right in Aaron’s neck. His arms were pressed between his and Aaron’s chest, but Spencer didn’t feel like moving. He felt a hand in his hair and felt the nails; it was JJ’s hand. “You remember how you told me that they wanted you to take some mood stabilizers until all of this was over? Low-grade depression medication. You had the bottle upstairs, but I think maybe it’s time that you took it.”
“I’m not going to leave your side until this is over, Spencer. Will and Alvez are going to stay here along with a tactical team to watch over Henry, Michael, and Jack. We are all going into Quantico with Garrett’s team as they just landed. Something has come up over the past hour, and Garcia just got a hold of me about it.”
“I don’t want to take it, but I will.”
“JJ, get him a bottle of water and something to snack on.”
“I saw the bars that he likes in the kitchen. I’ll get him a few of those to take with us.”
“You aren’t weak, and you just need help. You’ve had too much happen to you in a short time, Spencer. You need help to stop from freaking out like this again.”
“I’ll probably do that again anyway. You love Jack so much, and I was afraid that because of Lindsay Vaughn going after him, you would force me to go away.”
“This job had someone going after Jack, and yes, it’s damned close to Peter Lewis, but it’s nothing on you.”
Aaron leaned back enough to where Spencer could get his hands out. JJ was there with a bottle of water and the bottle of pills from his bedroom. JJ handed the pills over first. Spencer’s hands were shaking, so Aaron took it from him and held it to where Spencer could read the words on the bottle to tell him how many to take.
“Just one,” Spencer said.
Aaron narrowed his eyes.
“I’ve never taken this form of pill before, and the side-effects can be sudden and very acute. The doctor wanted me to take a half dose for the first three days and then up it to full dose.”
“Ah, I do remember that now.” Aaron shook out a single pill into his hand.
JJ opened the water bottle and handed it over. Spencer took a drink to get his mouth wet and then picked up the pill and tossed it into the back of his throat before drinking the rest of the water in the bottle.
“Okay?” Aaron asked.
“Yeah.” Spencer looked at JJ, and he saw worry. A worry for him. Spencer gave her a smile, and she smiled back.
“I’ll leave you three. I’ll go ahead and round up the others, and we can head to Quantico. The second tactical team is going to ride in the car with you guys,” JJ said as she stood up.
“Okay, good. We will leave as soon as Will and Henry get here.”
Spencer didn’t fight the hand that pulled him back to rest his head on Aaron’s shoulder. He could feel Jack still tucked in close to his side, and he moved his arm to where it was draped over the boy.
“Spencer, you would have to hit Jack outright or abuse him in some other way like that for me to ever, ever make you leave. I mean that. This isn’t some lark for me. We want you here now and forever.”
“We?” Spencer questioned, and he looked down at Jack. Jack just nodded.
“Jack and I talked about when we should ask you just to stay. This just kind of upped the time we were going to ask. Even if you stay in the guest room, I’ll be happy as long as you stay, Spencer.”
“I haven’t made you want a break of me yet? Even with this?” Spencer said his hand that wasn’t wrapped around Jack waved to the closet that he had been hiding in.
“No. I knew the damage to you; I think long before you really figured out the damage it had actually caused. Every single person in your life that you have ever trusted has left you. Morgan is the only one to stick around for a long time. In a way, I left as well. Twice. I know that the first was both of us, but I knew Spencer that you were not going to reach out. I knew it, and still, I didn’t reach out. I was better off thinking that you just didn’t want me anymore. I trusted that Dave would give you the letter the second time, but he made his own decision on that, and I couldn’t help that, but I still feel bad for it because no matter what a letter is better than nothing. I knew that you wouldn’t hold it against me, but I still left. You are going to be skittish, especially with everything that is going on at the moment. You’ve had your hand slapped too much when you reach out for what you want, and I can’t blame you for protecting yourself. You’ve learned that you have to take care of yourself and with time, I’m going to show you that I want to help, that I want you to lean on me.”
“So, Spencer, are you going to stay?” Jack asked.
Spencer looked at Aaron, and the look on Aaron’s face was so earnest. Spencer nodded his head in agreement with Aaron and Jack’s want for him to move in. More technically, he was just going to never move out.
“As soon as I’m not under protective custody anymore, Aaron, we are going to discuss bills.”
“I already have all of my bills come out of a separate bank account. Jessica has access to it so that she can cover things that happen on accident. I keep enough for major accidents and breakage in there. We can set it up to where you transfer half money for the utilities. I bought the house outright, so I won’t take money on that. We can figure out how much the house insurance goes up once we tack on the extra things that you will be bringing like your books you can pay that.”
“Thought about this, have you?” Spencer asked.
“Yes. I knew that the best way to get you to move in would be to make sure that everything was logical and already laid out. You don’t do anything without thinking it through, so I made sure that I had an answer to any question that I thought you could come up with.”
“You have always tried to think ahead, especially when it comes to me.” Spencer smiled at Aaron and didn’t fight it when Aaron pulled him in for a kiss. Spencer took the comfort of it and reveled in the pleasure that it gave him. The sound of several car doors slamming told Spencer that the second tactical team was there with Will, Henry, and Michael.
“I have always tried to make sure that any argument that I bring to you has enough information for me to win.”
There was a knock on the door, and Spencer slid off of his lap so that he could let them in. Jack scooted into the lap that was made by Spencer, dropping his legs down.
“What was that you took?” Jack asked.
“Sometimes when someone is going through a troublesome time their brain doesn’t make the correct chemicals or enough to make the brain function correctly. So doctors prescribe pills that help. This will help me get better quicker and help me have a better quality of life while I am getting better.”
“So, you aren’t sick?”
“Not like sick and going to die but sick as in my body isn’t functioning the way that it should be. So the pills help with that.”
The door opened, and Spencer stood up, carrying Jack in his arms. Jack was big, but Spencer didn’t really want to put him down. Spencer recognized all of the team, and he was grateful for that. He nodded at them and then Henry ran at Spencer. He wrapped his arms around Spencer’s legs and hugged him tightly.
“Are you staying?” Henry asked.
“No. I have to go to work. You’ll stay here and help keep Jack company. I want you to be good for your father and help with Michael, can you do that like a big boy?”
“I can. I’ll help a lot.”
“Good.” Spencer set Jack down and looked at him. Jack wrapped his arms around Spencer’s waist and gave him a hug. Spencer ruffled Jack’s hair and then did the same to Henry.
“Let’s go,” Aaron said. He held out Spencer’s bag and his gun. Spencer took the gun and put that on first before slinging the bag over his shoulder. He looked around the living room before following Aaron to the door.
Spencer knew that the feeling of the pills was not actually there, there was no way that they were working yet. It was the very definition of the placebo effect, but he would take it. Spencer was not allowed in the room with Vaughn. No one’s interrogation of her was giving them anything. It had been hours. Spencer looked at Aaron, who was standing at the side, but he had spent the time on his phone instead of watching the interrogation.
“What’s going on?” Spencer asked as he stepped closer to Aaron. He knew that they could not do anything at work, but Aaron looked up at him, and his eyes were very upset. Aaron reached up and clasped his shoulder.
“There is something that I need to talk to you about. Morgan just got here. Pull Dave from the room and then head to my office. Garcia, in her digging, has found out a few things. One of them is very, very personal to you, but I can’t keep it from the team as it has an impact on this case. So you have a choice. I can tell you in person and have Morgan sit with you after, or I can tell everyone, including Morgan in the round table room.”
“Personal as in my father is dead by Lindsay Vaughn’s hands or personal as in Cat Adams did something worse than what she has already done to my life.”
“Will I take it any better alone?”
“Then, tell everyone at the same time.” Spencer tried to figure out what Cat could have done. She was in prison. She was there, and there wasn’t a lot that she could do. Not personally.
Aaron stepped close and kissed Spencer on the cheek. While there were no rules regarding relationships, when said relationship was not something that was being forced on one party, the FBI didn’t care what happened as long as it didn’t happen at work. Spencer could understand that. Their team had a little more leeway on that as in, nothing happened while on base. During cases, there was no true downtime, so that was hard to enforce. Though Aaron had done little more than them eating dinner together without the rest of the team. Spencer thought that part of that though was just the fact that Aaron didn’t want to overwhelm Spencer.
“Aaron,” Spencer said as Aaron got to the door. “That therapist you were talking about? The one that worked with you after Foyet killed Haley? You think you could give me his number?”
“Yeah, I’ve got it at my desk.”
“Good.” Spencer turned back to look at Rossi. While the work mandated sessions with a psychologist was going well, Spencer felt like he needed more. Maybe even just a few sessions with him would help him stop feeling like he was not in control of his life. He knew right now that there were aspects of his life that he did not have full control over but the rest he did. He knew he was depressed, given everything that had happened to him in a short time; it was no wonder. Spencer just hoped that everything settled down soon.
Spencer opened the door, looking directly at Rossi and ignoring Vaughn altogether.
“Hotch wants us in the round table room,” Spencer said.
“You got it.” Rossi stood up from the table and looked at Vaughn for a second before turning around and leaving. Spencer held open the door and then shut it when Rossi was through the doorway. “What’s this about?”
“Something to do with Garcia, something that she found that has to do with me. Aaron called in Morgan to help manage me after I’ve been told.”
Spencer didn’t say anything as they walked to the round table room. Everyone was already there, including Morgan. Morgan looked confused, so Spencer was happy about that. It meant that Aaron had not told him first. Spencer saw that there was a seat between Aaron and Morgan and then Morgan and JJ. Spencer debated for a few seconds which one he wanted to sit in and decided that the one by Aaron was better.
“Garcia has been looking into Cat Adams since it was confirmed that she and Vaughn have been in contact. Garrett’s team gladly handed over the case to us once it was pretty well confirmed who we were dealing with. In her search, Garcia has found that Cat Adams is pregnant. According to the file on the pregnancy, she was given a sperm sample by a friend, and she used it to make herself pregnant. She has even given the name of the supposed father. The prison system wasn’t going to do anything about it until I pushed. Adams will be going and will be giving a sample for DNA testing to compare it to the named father as well as every single male that has been in contact with her since she was locked up. Or at least around the time that she was made pregnant.”
“The viability of doing that by herself, in the prison system without the doctor being in on it is slim. Sperm just doesn’t do well unless it’s in a controlled environment. Turkey baster pregnancies are easier at home but in prison? Getting it through security. Impossible with the tank needed to keep it viable. The prison doctor or one of the nurses had to be in on it.” Spencer’s mind was racing with ways that she could have done it. “Or a guard if the guard kept the tank safe and then used it when it was easier. There is a large variance in times that the tanks are good for depending on brand, seal, and size.
“That’s what I thought, and Garcia confirmed it,” Aaron said.
“So who is the father that Cat Adams has named.”
“It’s obvious that it’s me,” Spencer said before Aaron could answer.
“There is every chance that they could have stimulated me enough while I was drugged using a device for me to ejaculate. I am still seriously doubting that it actually happened, though because getting it from there to the prison would be next to impossible.”
“Agreed but we still have to rule it out,” Aaron said.
“She tried to take Jack, knowing that I would have retaliated in some way, gone to see her or something and then she would have dropped the bomb and tried to get me to live some fucking fantasy with her.” Spencer thought everything through from the moment that Jack would have been taken all the way back. “If I had brought mom here like I wanted, brought her into my apartment, I would have had a nurse there. Mom would have been easier to take than Jack.”
Spencer felt a hand on his back, and it was coming from Morgan’s side, so he allowed that hand to tip him over into Morgan’s arms.
“She’s crazy,” Spencer said as he slumped into Morgan’s arms. “And I have never used that term lightly. Psychologically I know why UnSubs focus on us, and I get it, I do. It’s like Foyet targeting Aaron because Aaron was the one to suss him out. Peter Lewis focused on Aaron because Aaron was the one to get there and confront him. I was the one smart enough to figure out Cat’s plan. I was the one across the table from her the whole time. Why the fuck would anyone do this?”
“Because people don’t care who they hurt,” Morgan said. He tightened his arms around Spencer, and Spencer just endured it.
“What does this tell us about her behavior?” Aaron asked, focusing the team on Cat.
Spencer was there, watching through the glass but this time, he had no intention at all on letting Cat Adam’s see him. He wanted nothing to do with her.
“He’s going to come to me you know,” Cat said with a grin on her face.
“Really? You are in prison, and he’s not. Why would he want anything to do with you?” Aaron asked.
“Because I have something that he wants more than life itself,” Cat said as she leaned back and patted her stomach.
“Do you remember a week ago? The doctor said that you passed out because of morning sickness? She also said that you had to have a few tests done.”
“Yes,” Cat said.
“You were actually, safely for the baby, drugged. One of those tests was a DNA test on the child. The guard who fathered it, he’s in custody now. I obtained a warrant for the DNA because the only way that you would have actually got a sample of Agent Reid’s DNA was when he was drugged, so that would have made it rape. Given that you are a prisoner, your consent was not needed and until it had come through, I made the case that you would do something stupid if you knew that the DNA was being tested like threaten to kill yourself. I made an excellent case and even had a gag order placed on your lawyer. So Cat Adams, what’s your play now?”
“I can give him a family.”
“I’ve already given him a family. A child who loves him and that he loves. You tried to take that kid, remember?”
“Like your ex-wife would ever let that happen.”
“The only person whose opinions matter in this have already said their piece. His aunt, by the way, is quite happy with my choice of lover. Jack’s grades have improved, his knowledge has improved, and I’m happier. Really that’s all that matters.”
“He’s going to tire of you,” Cat said.
“Why? Because I don’t have his IQ? I’m no slouch myself. My parents didn’t care enough to have me tested, and I didn’t care enough after I was an adult, but I did graduate high school and obtained a law degree and the equivalency of a Ph.D. in law before most people would. I rose through the S.W.A.T. ranks quickly and then through the BAU just as fast. I have more to offer him than you ever could, Miss Adams. One of which is a stable home life. We have enough chaos in our work life that he wants calm and cool when he’s home.”
“Where is he?” Cat demanded. She started to slam her hands on the table, and she was making such a racket that it hurt Spencer’s ears.
Spencer didn’t move at all. He had promised Aaron that he would stay on this side of the glass. That he wasn’t going to give her what she wanted. Spencer wanted to go in there. He wanted to confront her. Spencer wanted to pick her up and shove her into the wall and demand that she leave him alone, but he knew that it wouldn’t do any good. Spencer turned to Rossi, who was the only person with them at the prison. JJ was too upset that Spencer was sure that both she and Prentiss would have ripped off Cat’s head while Garcia was just a no. Alvez was talking with the warden of the prison and getting what they fully needed to actually get Cat brought up on more charges.
Lindsay Vaughn was going to be tried for a lot of things, all of which were going to stick. The only good thing about it was all that Spencer was going to be there testifying, and he was pretty damned sure that her father would come forward for it as well. Spencer still hated the man for doing what his daughter talked him into and killed those boys. He was never going to face trial for that, but Spencer wondered if the people after him would make an appearance. Spencer hated that he thought that, but he knew that he had to own up to his emotions. Just like he had to embrace what he had left in his life to be happy, he had to stop trying to make it seem like he was perfect. He had emotions, but it was the not acting on them that made him a good person, not the fact that he didn’t think dark things.
“He’s not here, Cat. He’s with my son, and his two Godsons at home playing. He’s where he is safe from you.”
“No, I don’t believe that. He’s out there listening.” Cat looked at the mirror and grinned at it, trying to look as good as she could given the fact she was handcuffed and chained to the table in prison garb.
Aaron stood up from the table and produced a set of keys. Cat looked shocked as he unlocked the chain from the table. He walked to the door and opened it up. Looking at Spencer for a second before looking back at Cat. “It’s just Agent Rossi in here. Would you like to see?”
“No. He’ll have gone out into the hall. I know how you profilers work.”
“Reid’s a profiler too. Whatever you think you saw; he didn’t feel that.” Aaron walked back over to the table and sat down. When Cat reached over the table to try and grab his hand, he twisted them, and when he pulled back, he had her cuffed to the table again. Cat was glaring at him.
“That must be some interesting sex if you call him Reid in bed.”
“My relationship with Reid is not something that usually comes up during work hours. We have both agreed that while we are at work, we will call either out the standard names that we have for years. I don’t expect you to understand, but that’s our life, and you have no impact on it.”
“I have no impact on it?” Cat’s glare was enough that probably killed lesser men, but Aaron was no lesser man, especially not to her.
“A few months and you’ll be like every single UnSub that we had put in jail. You’ll be a passing note after your sentencing. By the way, I’m going to make sure that you are on limited interaction with people: isolation and no yard time with other inmates. Your child will be born, if you don’t opt to have it aborted, and it will go to foster care unless the father’s family steps up. He’s married with children by the way. His wife has been told why he’s being arrested. You won’t be getting out. This new trial you are going to be going through is only to make sure that you are kept in conditions that stop this from happening again.”
“You are going to take what little dignity I have, aren’t you?” Cat asked.
“Yes, yes, I am. You did the same to your victims. You tried to ruin the life of an outstanding agent who has worked his whole career to try and help victims. Because you wanted to take him down a notch. You wanted to see him thrown in jail and hated when he saw Vaughn and ruined your plans. But you know what? Making him do something in prison, a place he would never have gone on his own, making a situation where he would have actually had to do something to protect his life, that doesn’t make him like you. That makes him a victim, a true victim. Even if he had gone to jail, even if he had been put into gen pop as you wanted, even if he had killed someone to save his own life, I still would have fought just as hard to get him out of jail. I still would have invited him back into my home, into my bed and loved him just the same. I would have loved the man you broke just as much as I do now. You saw a man that you wanted to break because you hate men. I see a man that I want to spend the rest of my life with despite everything that this world has done to try and break him.”
Cat said nothing. She turned away from Aaron and looked at the wall. Aaron stood up after she didn’t say anything after five minutes.
“You’ll be returned to your cell soon, and the isolation will be starting tomorrow probably. You might even be moved to a new prison. So, this is your last visit with anyone that is not your lawyer for a long time. And if you are thinking of using your lawyer to try and get messages to Reid, know that he knows that he’s not allowed. He’s not to contact anyone in the FBI except for our Section Chief, and that’s if you make more threats against any of us.”
Cat still said nothing, so Aaron shut the door. He shook his head and pointed. Spencer nodded his head and waited for the door to be opened that allowed them into the halls. Spencer just stayed silent as they left, gathering their phones and their guns. Aaron had driven them to the prison, but as they got to the FBI SUV, Rossi stepped up to the driver’s side front seat. He made a motion, and Aaron nodded.
Spencer didn’t even think about the fact that he was free. Free in a lot of ways until he got out of the SUV at Quantico. Rossi had not parked in the underground area that they usually did when Spencer was being transferred from car to building and back again. Spencer took a deep breath as he opened the door and let it go as he breathed fresh air. Rossi went into the building and didn’t say a word, but Aaron got out of the front seat and came around to Spencer’s side.
“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know. Ask me when it hits.”
“I can do that. We have a lot of paperwork, and you are not clear yet. You might not be clear for a while.”
“I know. I’ll be happy when that happens, but it will take as long as it does.”
“Yes.” Aaron smiled as he said the word though, and he reached out and brushed his knuckles down the side of Spencer’s face. “Dinner out tonight. Me, you, and Jack.”
“That sounds really good.”
“I’m glad. My treat, you can get the next one.”
“Sure,” Spencer said. He smiled at Aaron, and it felt real, it felt good. It felt more real than anything had in a long time.
Chapter 11-Life, Freedom, and Other Scary Things
The first time that Spencer stepped out of the BAU offices without a shadow, without one of the team or even a guard escorting him, he breathed so deep that he was sure he was going to faint before he exhaled. It felt good to be able to do what he wanted. The word had come down an hour before that he had been fully cleared of all charges, those charges had been wiped from his record as far as offenses go, but there was a notation about being framed in his personnel file. Cat Adams’ network had been thoroughly broken down and in the end, nearly a quarter of the prison workers where she was and a tenth of a prison that Spencer would have gone to were let go and were on trial themselves. Not all of them had to do with Cat’s framing job on Spencer, but it had just helped uncover more corruption of other levels inside of both prisons.
After the ruling that had come down that Spencer was safe to go about his daily life without restriction, Aaron had given him the rest of the day off. It had taken Spencer an hour to go through all of the work that he needed to do. Alvez had offered, so had JJ but Spencer just needed to finish it all for himself. Spencer had worked through lunch to get to the meeting and so the first thing that he wanted to do was eat.
“Hey,” Aaron said behind him.
Spencer turned to look at him. “Hey,” Spencer said back to him.
Aaron stepped close and cupped his cheeks before kissing him. “You didn’t say goodbye. You dropped off your case files and paperwork, but then when I looked out again, you were gone.”
“I meant to go back up after I put my things into the car but then I just…” Spencer leaned in for another kiss, trailing his words off. “Then I just needed to breathe fresh air.”
“Yeah, that’s what JJ said, but I wanted to make sure to catch you. So you put your things in the car. What do you have on you?”
“Wallet, credentials, and that’s it.”
“Well, I figured that was a given, but yes I have my phone as well. My gun is locked in the safe in the trunk. I actually feel kind of naked without it, but I didn’t want to wear it. It feels strange as I used to hate wearing it, but it’s been part of my life for so long while someone was after me.”
“Do you want my backup gun?”
“And if I say yes?”
“Then you are human. Like you said, it’s been your life for so long that taking the time to actually slowly decompress from this is just fine.” Aaron reached behind himself and held out the gun. It was in the holster. Given what had been going on, the gun was jointly registered to both of them so that no court could have an issue with Spencer using it to protect his life if it was needed. Spencer nodded his head, so Aaron dropped down to a crouch.
Spencer pulled his pant leg up and watched as Aaron affixed the gun around his ankle. It was a different holster than what Aaron usually used, Spencer could tell that. It was slimmer, would stand out less. Aaron tucked the pant leg down around his leg and stood up before he leaned in for another kiss.
“If you need me for anything, I’ll stop and get you.”
“I know. Or Morgan. Or JJ. Probably even Rossi. I’m a big person, Aaron. I can handle this.”
The look on Aaron’s face said that he wasn’t sure and Spencer knew deep down that it wasn’t Spencer that Aaron was questioning but Spencer’s mind, his fears. Spencer knew that the first time that Aaron had entered his apartment after being attacked there by Foyet, he nearly had a mental breakdown. Aaron had waited to be released, but he had taken a cab home instead of having one of the team take him. Spencer had been stopping by to collect his mail from his box and put it inside of his apartment when he found Aaron nearly out of breath from breathing so hard.
“If I have the slightest freak-out, Aaron. I’ll call. I promise. I just need to do this, though. I need to be alone and not just in a room with you ten feet away. I know you will worry so I’ll text updates when I’m going from store to store, but I need some me time.”
“I understand. I do. Just remember that it taking time doesn’t mean you are broken.”
“You’ve had me in enough therapy talking about all of this, Aaron, that I know. I understand that it’s going to take time. That it might overwhelm me if I am out for too long. While I might take the train to and from work, I’m not going to drive myself unless you are in DC for something. It’s insane for us to live together and take two cars. I will take care of myself and ask for help when I need it, but I need you to not hover, waiting for me to freak out. I need you to let me freak out, to let me fail.”
“I will.” Aaron smiled at him before wrapping his arms around Spencer to hug him tight. It was a little more affection than Spencer was used to at work. Though the kissing had been as well. “Did you grab your pills?”
“I took my dose right before the meeting and ate a bagel with it. The rest are in the car with my bag. JJ had some bagels in the fridge, I’ll buy her a new pack later. I won’t get sick and right now I’m heading to get lunch. Well, first, I’m going to go and buy a book before eating.”
“Be safe and don’t worry about coming home at any time. Jack and I can entertain ourselves, even if we will be lonely.” Aaron pressed a kiss to Spencer’s cheek before he let go of him. “Stay safe because while Jack might be the soul of me, you are the heart of me Spencer. I am not sure if I would come out whole if I lost you.”
Spencer swallowed thickly, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to speak at all, but Aaron didn’t give him time, he just turned and left. Aaron paused at the doors, his body full of tenseness. “You are the heart of me as well,” Spencer said just low enough that Aaron could hear it but hopefully no one else.
Aaron opened the door and stepped through it; his body posture much happier than it had been. Spencer waited until Aaron was gone entirely from sight before he turned to leave. Spencer had three books waiting for him at a little shop in Quantico before he was going to take the train to DC proper. He was going to read two of them while on the train and then the third while eating. Spencer looked up at the sky, it was a bright and sunny day, not too warm but warm enough that Spencer didn’t need a coat. Spencer started toward the exit
“Hey Doc,” the guard said as Spencer got close. He looked behind Spencer and frowned. “Missing someone?”
“I’m allowed to be alone again. The culprit who tried to frame me for murder has been figured out, and everything is good, I promise. Hotch won’t be calling to see when I escaped.”
“You okay with me calling him to make sure?” the guard asked.
“Yeah, I am.”
Spencer leaned against the outside of the door watching as the guard dialed the phone. He barely listened as the guard talked to Hotch. The man even laughed. Spencer was just watching the clouds in the sky moving around.
“Hey, you are good to go, Doc.”
“Thanks. And thank you for doing your job.”
“Thank you for not making me be a bastard and refuse to be allowed to leave. I think you are one of the only ones who I have ever had who didn’t try and get off base alone. Which is nothing compared to what kind go shenanigans some of the NCIS folk get up to when they think they deserve to be off base and they are not allowed. You have a good day. Enjoy being free.”
The trip to the bookstore was quick, and then he was ensconced on the train with his books. He settled himself in facing a different direction than usual, putting his now armed ankle as close to the outside section of the train. He didn’t want someone kicking the gun, even though he knew that would not make it go off, he did not want to go through the issue of having a gun on the train. He was allowed to carry anywhere that was public. Technically, the BAU was on call all the time unless they were expressly not on call. Then that meant that he was allowed to carry. Spencer hated having attention drawn to himself though.
Spencer lost himself in words on the page as the train lumbered on its way, stopping where it needed. Spencer counted the stops to keep track of the time. He was good at it after so long of doing it. When the train started to slow down for his stop, Spencer put up the book, just having finished it. He tucked them into his chest, wrapping both arms around them. He made his way from the train to the free library that was near the college. He usually dropped his books that he wasn’t going to read again there if they were science related which there two were. Spencer really liked the Little Free Libraries that had popped up everywhere. If Spencer had fiction books, he dropped those at the one at the park near where his apartment had been. He would have to scope out a new place closer to Aaron’s.
Just beyond the college, though, was where he was headed for lunch. It was a beautiful little place that had one of the best sushi chefs in the area in Spencer’s mind. He liked to go and just savor the food. It was a place where he could just exist, and right now, it screamed safety to Spencer. He settled at the table that he usually sat at and smiled at the waitress as she brought him a glass of water. She didn’t speak a lick of English to Spencer after he had greeted her in Japanese the first time. Spencer had learned it so that he could easily order and read the menus at Japanese style places. Which was one of his favorite places to frequent.
“You’ve not been here in a while,” Taeko said as she bumped her hip into Spencer’s side.
“Work. I’ll explain if you can join me for a meal.”
“I can. You are the only one here, and Mari can cover if someone else comes in.” Taeko wandered away to get their drinks and put in their food order. Spencer looked at his book and settled it on the table behind him. He settled his napkin down on his lap and laid his fork and case knife away. He opened the chopsticks and broke them apart. He wasn’t sure that the team had eaten at a sit-down Chinese or Japanese place since that case in New York where the team had figured out that Spencer couldn’t use chopsticks. Taeko had put an end to that. He could wield them easily now.
Taeko came back with a pot of spiced green tea and two cups. Spencer took the cups from her hand and settled them down while she set down the pot.
“So, what has happened to keep my boyfriend away from me for so long?” Taeko asked with a smile on her face.
Spencer laughed and blushed. It was the running joke that they were dating, but Spencer knew that Taeko had no want of a boyfriend or a girlfriend. She was on the very end of the asexual scale in that she did not want sex at all. The thought of it, even just listening to it freaked her out. It was what had started their friendship, as soon as she found out where he worked and the degrees that he had as her parents tried to hook them up, she peppered him with questions, and he answered all of them.
“Well, there are some personal things with my boss that upset me, and I kind of stayed away from places that made me happy as I didn’t want my mood to sour what I felt for the place. Then I was targeted in place of my boss because of our friendship by an UnSub who wanted to ruin my boss’s life. Then when that was taken care of, I was kidnapped, and a person killed to make it seem like I had done it, however, they messed up, and I had seen who took me. My boss made sure that I was not actually charged with that, and today is the first day that I have been allowed anywhere alone since that whole thing started. I’m free and clear, and the person who had tried to get me thrown in jail has been figured out, and the person who kidnapped me was brought into custody when she tried to take my boss’s kid to lure me out of what has basically been a protective detail.”
“I went by your place, and your neighbor said that one of your co-workers was picking up your mail. So I stayed away. I think though that maybe we should exchange numbers so that I won’t worry as much.”
“I left a message that I wouldn’t be around for a while.”
“Yes, the message with no way to get a hold of you without calling Quantico and chasing you down.”
“Sure, I can give you my number. I’ll give you my cell and my new house number.”
“House number? You are moving into a house?”
“No, I’ve kind of moved into a house. The rest of my belongings are to follow but yeah. I’m living with my boss.”
“Oh, you have been staying with him? When can you move back?”
Spencer blushed, and he ducked his head. The sushi chef set down a plate with two kinds of rolls on it and a tray of sauces. Spencer nodded his head in thanks before thanking him in Japanese. The chef nodded his head and stepped back to the kitchen to work on the next set. Spencer picked up his chopsticks and ate two slices before he knew that Taeko wouldn’t allow much more evading to go on.
“I was moved into the house with my boss as part of the protection detail. He had the most available move in space, and he’s kind of scary, so I knew I would be safe with him. I just…do you remember the coworker that I said I liked, you kept teasing me about a crush.”
“It was your boss, wasn’t it? Your Hotch?”
Hearing the name Hotch come out of Taeko’s mouth with her accent was kind of cute. Spencer nodded his head.
“I see. So you will have to bring him by, with his Jack and we can meet. I guess that means it’s a good thing that I sat down with my parents and explained why I probably wasn’t ever going to get married. They are okay with it. They are a little hurt, but they are okay. They love me enough to never force me to do something that would harm me like that. My father has started to look into adoption. He’s thinking two, two girls. He liked raising me so much that he thinks that two little girls as grandkids would be nice.”
“And what do you think?” Spencer asked. Spencer knew that if she explained herself to her parents, then they would understand. He knew that they loved her. They had retired from the restaurant just a few years before. Taeko had taken it over and had been running it well since then. Spencer also knew that Taeko just didn’t want to disappoint her parents. Her older sister had been killed by a drunk driver while walking home from school one day when she had been ten.
“I think I don’t like being alone. I know that I live with Mom and Dad. We have that big house though because father wanted me to move my husband in with us, but we have the room for two girls, even if they want different rooms. Having two girls, or even a boy and a girl to raise would be nice. I think I am ready, which, according to Mom, is about as ready as anyone who is actually ready for a kid can get.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’ve been told before as well.”
The conversation turned to less serious topics for the rest of the meal. Spencer was enjoying talking to Taeko in Japanese, and she seemed just happy to have her friend back.
Spencer entered the restaurant that Aaron had sent him the address of. Unfortunately, Aaron had been drawn into a meeting in DC that had run long and so instead of them leaving work to go home and change, Aaron had to meet him at the restaurant. Spencer had never been inside of the restaurant before it looked like it was too fancy for him. While the waiters and waitresses that Spencer could see were indeed dressed up well, it wasn’t as bad as Spencer feared.
“Doctor Reid?” someone called out.
That spike of fear went through Spencer. He looked around and wanted to reach for his gun, but it was in the trunk of the car. Spencer had found the car outside and put up the guns that he carried. He and Aaron had gone and got him an ankle holster that fit him better, and Spencer had started to carry the gun he had used to shoot Dowd on his person at all times. Spencer knew that one day, he would feel like he didn’t have to, but for now, it made him feel safe. Spencer regretted taking off the ankle holster gun. He stood a good step back, putting a wall to his back so he could see everyone that was in his line of sight. He found that it was the host that had said his name. He was looking at him with a little bit of worry on his face. There was no one else around. Spencer swallowed, and it felt like his heart was in his throat, stopping him from being able to entirely swallow. It took Spencer a few seconds to recognize Ashley. Ashley had worked at a little coffee shop that Spencer liked to eat at before moving on after he graduated culinary school. Spencer had not ever found out where he had moved onto. At least at the moment, it seemed like Spencer had found him, though he wondered why Ashley was out front and not in the back.
“Sorry, Doctor Reid, I didn’t mean to scare you. I thought that you saw me.”
“No, that’s on me. It’s fine. I didn’t actually see you, and I should have.” Spencer forced himself to move forward. He heard the door open and tried not to react. Still, he turned just a little to where he could at least see if they came up behind him.
“Also, you date gave me your name. I figured that when someone who is very obviously a cop or something gives the name Doctor Reid, it had to be you. If you come with me, I’ll seat you at the table with him.”
“Why aren’t you in the back, cooking?”
“Tonight was supposed to be my night off, but the hostess got sick, and I’m on the list as a back-up. Got to make money where I can. This is a lot less stressful than being in the kitchen too.” Ashley waved Spencer to the side, so he walked that way, following behind the host. Spencer looked around at the people that were eating and saw that a lot were couples, of various makeups. Aaron was seated in a little alcove that even with the both of them sitting facing either other, neither had their back to the room. It was a circular table that also allowed them to sit next to each other. Aaron was seated that way, so when Spencer sat down, he slid in to sit beside him. Spencer was the first to lean in for a kiss, and Aaron gratefully gave it to him.
“Sorry about not being able to pick you up.”
“I don’t care about that. We are here on our date, and that’s all that I care about. I know you were worried about a case interrupting our weekend.”
“Yeah, it was a cold case that became not cold, and so the old team took it.”
Spencer had wondered what happened to the case that Aaron had been talking on the phone about all morning. The other team taking it was better as it meant that it was going to be less time to get up and running and learning the material needed to understand the case. It also meant that cops were already familiar with the team. It just made things a lot easier.
“The meeting today was about you in a roundabout way,” Aaron said.
“What?” Spencer turned his head very fast to look at Aaron. He had been deciding on which roll he wanted to eat. His hand knocked into the basket, but thankfully it didn’t go anywhere. Spencer grabbed a roll and started to break it into bits and dropped them onto the plate in front of him.
“It was a meeting about everything that happened and how to handle that kind of thing going forward. Certain offices have dealt with that kind of stuff before. Organized crime, terrorism, but never our section. It’s made them think about how to protect us from getting accused of crimes and locals being the ones to handle it. Which after the way that not only our team has been targeted by UnSubs but especially after Lewis tried to get me taken in on a terrorism charge, I think it’s stupid.”
Spencer felt his eyes widen in shock at Aaron saying that anything bad happened in the chain of command when it came to things like that, in public like this was. Though it wasn’t that much of a shock really. Spencer knew that Aaron had been fighting an uphill battle from the moment that he had been called by Spencer and there was a dead body. Spencer shuddered to think what could have happened if he had been of sound mind enough or if he had been out of the country. Spencer had been looking into several studies for his mom, and one of them was a new drug that was created in Mexico.
“So, what was decided?”
“That BAU agents and other agents that travel and are basically on call all the time, no matter the charge, it will become a federal case and there is even going to be a task force made up. It’s not going to be like CARD or even the Domestic terrorism task force. It will be agents from a wide variety of backgrounds inside of the FBI that will be called from their Units if needed. It’s going to be a case by case basis. Sometimes all of the Unit and sometimes only part of the Unit will be called in. This meeting was supposed to happen next week, but one of the main people who is going to be overseeing it is going in for surgery on Monday morning, so we wanted this off the ground as soon as possible. The discrete look into people will be happening soon. While members of the BAU will be a part of the base of the unit, it won’t be whole teams going, just a single person from each team with each case. Teams have worked men down before. The IRT will not be part of the unit, but Garrett and I will be working together to make sure that everything is nicely covered. Dave doesn’t want any part of it, but I figure he’ll stick his nose in it at some point.” Aaron reached out had picked up his glass of water to take a drink. “I wanted to let you know in case rumors got around, but I don’t want to spend our date talking about work. So, you have two minutes to ask anything that you want, and then I want to table the discussion until Monday when I talk to the team.”
“Nothing needs to be asked. You covered any questions I have at the moment, and I don’t want to talk work either. You met Taeko the other day. What do you think of her?”
“I say she’s a lovely young lady. She’s very bright and pleased with her work. Though she and I did broach a subject while you were at the bar talking to the chef. While she has considered adoption, her parents will support her with it. Taeko has been dreaming about being pregnant.”
“Oh, she wants to do in-vitro?” Spencer asked. He hadn’t considered that.
“For one and then adopt the second.”
“She’ll be a great mom. Her parents are lovely and retired so they can watch the kids while she works, and when they get old enough, they can go into work with her like she did her parents. I have read about an outstanding facility that does that. I’ll be happy to help her with picking, going with her.”
“See, I knew you would say that. She’s afraid to ask you not to do that part, but to do more.”
Spencer looked at Aaron before he figured out what Taeko wanted. It was so easy to understand. He and Taeko were good friends. She trusted no one but him really in life, besides her parents.
“I have to think on that,” Spencer said. He knew that he could do the part where he was just a good uncle to the kids. He might be fonder of them than others, but he didn’t think he could treat them nicer than Henry or Michael, or even Jack. That disconnect between it being his kid and it just being his sperm was easy in his head. It was the fear of what kind of genetics he could pass on to the kids. He would have to think and talk with Taeko. Spencer stared off into space and got lost in thought. He was pulled out when he felt Aaron’s hand on his knee. Spencer turned toward him, a piece of bread halfway to his mouth. Aaron was smiling, so Spencer popped the bite into his mouth and started to chew.
“So, Jack wants to go out with you tomorrow night.”
“Go out with me?” Spencer popped another bite of bread into his mouth. He really liked the bread. It was light but had an almost sourdough taste but not really full sourdough taste. “How exactly does one go out with a child?”
“Jack calls the night out with me alone, and we do something out of the ordinary going out. I think he has heard the term from too many other parents and thinks that it’s grown up. You’ll go and do whatever the two of you want to do, without me, without Jessica. He, I think, is afraid that now that you and I can go and do things that you’ll forget about things with him.”
“He knows that I love him. He’s very secure in my affection for him. He’s not as sure with your affection for him. You got to think, you and he have spent a lot of time together, but it’s been because you couldn’t leave the house. Now you can. Now you can go and do what you want. Of course, Sunday we are going to get back into doing what we used to do before I had to go into WitSec to protect Jack. Unless you want to start something new, some kind of new tradition.”
“No, no.” Spencer smiled as he reached out and laid his hand over Aaron’s on the table. The one that was closest between them was still on Spencer’s knee, but this one was on the table. Spencer squeezed his hand. “No, I would love to get back into what we used to do. I really would.”
“I know that I’ve been letting you do what you want, and I don’t want that to change. You’ve had a rough adjustment period with having all of your freedom taken away to protect your life and then moving in with Jack and me in the middle of that. I know you were already living with us, but before that, you were very much going to go home. You had a goal. You don’t have that anymore, so I need you to make me a promise.”
“If everything gets too much, if you need a break from me, or Jack or just both of us, just say it. It’s not going to hurt. You’ve been you for a very long time. You’ve never had to answer to anyone else with your comings and goings. Jack will ask, but if you tell him that it’s your time or personal, he will let go.”
“Have I been gone too much the last two weeks?” Spencer started to think about how he had been connecting again with everyone that he had missed while he was on lockdown. He hadn’t wanted to put any of them at risk, so he had stayed away. He hadn’t even gone to play chess in the park with his friends. Spencer started to put numbers to how much time he was home from work and cases and see if there were a number that he could do that would allow him time to do what he wanted but gave him more time with Aaron and Jack. Spencer felt that itch starting up on his skin as he thought about it all. He wasn’t sure what to do.
“NO!” Aaron said emphatically. He pulled his hand out from under Spencer’s and used it to make Spencer look at him. “No, Spencer, you are not gone too much. You’ve been adjusting, and we all know it. This is a big thing that you are doing, moving in with us after a life alone. Whatever you want to do is what we want. You don’t answer to us, you really don’t. It’s an adjustment. Just like when you moved in. Now we are getting used to you moving around on your own. You have your own issues. I saw you freak out a little, but I wasn’t sure if me going up there would make it better or worse. How does your therapist like your progress?”
“Better and better. I’m freaking out less. Especially when surprising things happen. I’m settling more, and while I still a freak and the want of wearing a gun is there, but I don’t need to wear a gun.”
“Good,” Aaron leaned in a brushed their noses together. Spencer smiled into that sort of kiss. There was the clink of something on the table, and Spencer saw that it was an appetizer platter, there were fried balls of some kind as well a tomato and corn bruschetta, and a dip with some chips. It was a strange variety, but it all looked very, very good to Spencer. He reached out and plucked up one of the fried balls and cracked it open. It was a macaroni and cheese bite. He popped half of it into his mouth and held the other half to Aaron. Aaron opened his mouth, and Spencer dropped the bite in. Spencer chewed, and it was just a single bite into it that he figured out why Aaron had ordered them. It wasn’t just some fancy mac and cheese bite. Spencer felt the give of the jalapeno piece and tasted the pepper jack cheese. Spencer laughed as he chewed because it was very much a spicy thing, and it was delicious and right up Aaron’s alley.
“I should have known,” Spencer said.
“Eh, you should have, but then you are still kind of getting used to me and my love of hot things.”
Spencer laid a hand over Aaron’s mouth because he was pretty damn sure that he knew the next words that were going to come out of Aaron’s mouth. Aaron had already called him hot three times while they were alone at home. Spencer was pretty sure that Aaron repeating it would make Spencer forget all of their plans to take it slow. Spencer wanted the slow. Spencer needed the slow.
Aaron licked at Spencer’s hand. Spencer wiped that on his napkin, grinning at Aaron. Spencer loved it when Aaron was playful. It was a side that only Spencer, Jack, and sometimes Jessica got to see. Spencer really enjoyed that. He liked the mornings waking up in Aaron’s bed or Aaron in his bed. It wasn’t a back and forth thing. Usually, it was just whichever bed they felt like sleeping in at the time. It was kind of nice in a way that Spencer had never thought possible. He hadn’t thought that sleeping in bed with someone without sex being a part of the relationship would be as good in feeling as it was. Spencer could understand those that kept relationship platonic for a long time.
Spencer was kind of scared taking the relationship to the next level. He was happy how things were, and even if feelings were involved, sex wasn’t. Sex could sometimes mess things up. Sex was sometimes just really, really bad and Spencer didn’t know what he was going to do if the sex sucked. He wasn’t sure how much of a sexual creature Aaron was if he could be happy in a relationship without sex. Spencer didn’t know if he could as well, but he really wanted to try. He really was up in the air at the moment on what he wanted. Everything had been simpler before when the fact that Spencer wasn’t okay mentally and he and Aaron decided that the more significant decisions could wait, like sex, like a full-blown relationship but now, now really, he was good mentally, or at least pretty stable. He was down on half the dose that he had been on of the mood stabilizers. He was finding them helpful. Aaron understood his hesitation about them and made sure that he told Spencer if there was anything off about in him the direct hours after taking the pills. It helped Spencer understand that the pills were not changing him, they were helping him be himself when he didn’t have what his body and mind didn’t have to be himself.
“So, Spencer,” Aaron said as he leaned back to allow the waiter to refill their waters.
“Yes?” Spencer asked.
“I love you,” Aaron said.
Spencer smiled. “I love you, too.”
“We don’t have to ever do anything you don’t want to.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I can see the way that you flinch a little when we are kissing, and you think I’m going to take it further. We’ve had the sex talk, so I know it’s not that you are some blushing virgin. If you want to set the bar that we don’t have sex until you are off meds, we can. If you want to set the bar that we don’t have sex until we have had X many dates, we can do that. If you want to set days, months, weeks, whatever. We will do that. This doesn’t move any faster than you want. I’m fine with my left, sometimes my right hand.”
“I’m just…nervous. I’m nervous about a lot of things that I never used to be nervous about.”
“You’ve had a hell of a year, and while this is one of the best things that’s happened to you this year, you are afraid of change in a way that you don’t know what to do if that change makes more change. I’m going to be here, no matter what. I’m going to be right there when you wake up. I’m going to be there when you get scared. Without a ring, without a ceremony, I’m here sickness and health, I’m here for richer or poorer. To love and to cherish. I’ll be here the days that you are too scared to reach out because you are afraid of being told no. I’ll be here the days that you just need someone to hold you when you cry.”
“I’ll do my best to support you,” Spencer said. He leaned in and laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron wrapped a hand around Spencer’s neck and just held him there. Spencer didn’t have other words to say. He sometimes swore that Aaron could read his mind, but he knew that it was just because Aaron knew him so well. Spencer knew that Aaron would love and support him, he knew that. He also knew that he had to work through his fears. It was going to take time, time to feel like he wasn’t ten feet off the ground anymore but instead just safely in Aaron’s arms, right where he should be.