The Ache for Something More – 3/9 – DarkJediQueen

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

Chapter 7

Aaron rolled over, regretting that he was trying to wake up enough to figure out what was going on that woke him up. He hated leaving the warmth of Haley’s body. There was a noise at the edge of his hearing, and he tried to focus on that. He heard Jack babbling with a few words that he knew well. If Jack was awake, he was playing in the bed and would soon start to demand more attention. Aaron didn’t want to get up, but he knew that he needed to. He would rather Haley sleep in. She had stayed up late waiting for Reid and him to get home. The case wrap-up had been something that the two of them wanted to handle before heading home for three days off. Strauss had thankfully given them the time. Reid had been in the office the entire time, working out of Aaron’s actual office because he was needed for the case as there was a large manifesto that had been scanned over and then printed so he could read it.

Reid had ended up passing out on the living room couch while Aaron was pretty sure he hadn’t been far behind in the chair. Dinner had been nearly entirely forgotten by both of them, laid on the side because they were too tired. Aaron barely remembered getting up and going to bed. He hoped that Reid had gotten up at some point and moved as well. They both decided on the plane home that they were not going to go on a run on Sunday and would instead just do a longer one on Monday morning since they didn’t have to go to work.

Aaron was about to flip the covers off of him and get up to get Jack when he heard another noise. It sounded like feet on the floor. For a second Aaron tensed until he heard a shushing sound that was indicative of Reid. Aaron smiled and relaxed down into the bed.

“Boy, you are up early aren’t you?” Reid asked, his voice coming over the baby monitor just enough that Aaron understood him. “Now where is that monitor? Ah.” Then there was nothing over the monitor.

Aaron rolled back over and cuddled into Haley’s body, he buried his face into her neck, smelling her scent mixed with his. He inhaled deep and forced himself back under to where he hopefully wouldn’t wake up for any more hours. It was kind of nice to have someone living with them that retreated when he knew that they wanted to be alone.

“So, Jack,” Reid said as he walked down the hallway toward the stairs. If Aaron weren’t awake, he wouldn’t hear him at all. “You and I are going to have so much fun cooking breakfast for everyone this morning. I think you are going to enjoy eating it as well.”

Aaron smiled into Haley’s skin and thought about the fact that lazy mornings might just happen a little more with Reid around. He wouldn’t want to do it every single morning as Reid needed his time to himself, but every once in a while it would be really nice.

Sunlight was shining full force in the room when Aaron woke up again. He was still wrapped around Haley who was asleep. Aaron stretched just a little, and he could feel his erection pressing into the cheeks of Haley’s ass. He grinned before he rocked a little into the flesh. Haley stirred some and Aaron took that as an encouragement to keep ongoing. He was just in boxers while Haley was in sleep pants and a cami. Aaron slipped his arm under the cami and found Haley’s belly. She had worked hard to get rid of the baby fat even though Aaron hadn’t minded it. Aaron hadn’t said anything because if she wanted it gone, Aaron was fine with that.

Slipping his hand down a little further, Aaron found the hem of the sleep pants and wiggled his fingers under that. Haley let out a little moan that was more than a little half asleep still. Aaron moved a little to where he was able to grab the lube from the nightstand with his free arm and then he scooted down. He moaned at the feel of his cock dragging on Haley’s sleep pants. He used the hand already in them to push them down and then down to Haley’s knees.

Haley’s breathing changed, and Aaron knew that she was awake. He didn’t stop what he was doing but instead snapped open the lid on the lube and pulled back enough to where he could drizzle some on his cock before he set the lube down. Coating his cock, Aaron slipped it into the hole made by her pubic mound and her legs. They hadn’t had sex like this since Haley had been cleared again for penetrative sex following Jack’s birth.

“Rub me,” Haley said.

“I will,” Aaron answered as he got back into position. He plastered his body along her back, his cock finding a perfectly happy home between her legs. He let his other hand slip down, teasing her clit. Haley’s hand grabbed the bedding, and she groaned.

“Hurry,” Haley said.

Aaron chuckled in her ear. He knew exactly why she wanted him to hurry. Five out of seven times they tried sex, Jack disturbed them. Sex had been on the plate a little more for them, but that was usually after Jack went to bed since Reid had moved in. “Jack’s well occupied with Reid in the kitchen, Haley. I can take my time.” Aaron let one finger slip down further, slipping into her folds. She was wet already, and that made Aaron’s mouth water a little bit. He debated that for a few seconds and made his plans.

Haley was breathing hard, her orgasm already close. Aaron dipped his finger down further, finding her hole and pushing in. She spread her legs just a little, giving him better access but not stopping his cock from feeling flesh wrapped around it. Aaron didn’t need lube on his fingers, and if he had been a little more patient, he wouldn’t have needed it for his cock either. Still, he would rather never hurt her or his cock like that.

Aaron pulled his finger up, pressing on her clit, and then he slipped it back down with another finger beside it. He found her folds again and plunged his fingers inside of her. Her spot was easy to reach, so he found it and with a simple brush of his fingers over it, Haley came. He brushed over her clit again with his thumb and Haley nearly bucked him away from her.

“Were you dreaming about me?” Aaron asked. He was barely paying attention to the pleasure in his body, but he kept up the thrusting of his hips. His cock loved being anywhere warm and wet and whether it was inside of her body or her mouth or even just this, between her thighs.

“Missed you,” Haley panted. She squeezed her thighs around Aaron’s hand, trapping his fingers inside of her.

Aaron took that as a reason to keep on stimulating her.

“I’ve missed you like this as well,” Aaron said as he started to press kisses on the skin that he could reach. Aaron knew Haley’s body well when her shivers went from good to too much stimulation on her g-spot. He stopped and pulled his hand free. Aaron could feel the wetness on them and got a wicked idea about what to do next. He trailed his fingers up and down her belly and groin area, thoroughly coating the whole area. Haley giggled as a few of the spots were more ticklish than erogenous, but Aaron kept on until he was ready for what he wanted to do.

“What’s on your mind?” Haley asked as Aaron pulled his cock from between her legs and turned her onto her back so he could settle over her.

“A little fun,” Aaron said. He leaned down and kissed her. Haley tangled her hands into Aaron’s hair, and he moaned as she pulled just a little. She didn’t get rough with him, but she was good at doing just enough to excite Aaron even more. Aaron braced himself on one arm and reached up and behind to wrap her legs around his waist so he could get his cock between her folds, rubbing up and down just enough to keep her excited while he fucked her mouth with his tongue.

Haley reached with her hand down to try and get Aaron to move faster. Her hand only brushed his ass though so she couldn’t get the grip that she wanted to urge him into more or faster. She retaliated Aaron’s pace by scratching up his back just a little. There would be red marks for only a few minutes there.

When Aaron had spent enough time on slow teasing, and he was pretty sure that Haley was calmed down enough to take more stimulation, he started to kiss down her cheek and then neck.

“Aaron!” Haley near screamed when he found a nipple and sucked it.

Aaron was glad that she had kept the sensitive nipples that she had gained in pregnancy. He thumbed over the tip of her other nipple so that it wasn’t feeling left out. Haley had tried breastfeeding, but Jack hadn’t liked it. The few months after the point where her breasts were starting to get ready to produce milk and then after pregnancy had made Aaron leery of touching her even after the milk had dried up. She had been in a lot of pain during those parts when even her bra had got her too sensitive.

While her breasts were not sexual features and were used to feed babies, Aaron loved how she reacted when they were played with, and he would have hated to never be able to do that again.

“Fuck,” Haley said when Aaron scraped his teeth over the nipple, he was playing with before moving to the other one.

Aaron played until he couldn’t take it anymore and needed more himself. He started to move downward and the moan that Haley let out when she realized what his goal was echoed around the room. Aaron really wanted to stuff her mouth with something, but he loved hearing the sounds as well and would hate to stop her. He just hoped that the sounds didn’t carry to the kitchen.

Licking up the smeared wet from Haley, Aaron made his way down to where he wanted. Haley kept herself shaved because she hated the feeling of the hair getting sweaty and after they had talked not long after getting together and Aaron admitting that he loved that act, she wanted nothing to be a reason for him to not go down on her. Aaron kept his hair trimmed up and would on occasion shave it all the way off so that she wouldn’t get hairs in her mouth. Aaron had worried for a while that the whole hairless mound made him feel like someone who needed help, but it wasn’t anything to do with innocence and Haley looking younger down there but just an ease of having everything clean and kept up.

Aaron knew that Haley was enjoying herself as he slipped his tongue inside of her because she grabbed the back of his head again, and her nails scratched as his skin. She was moaning near constantly and rocking up into his mouth, trying to get more stimulation. Aaron loved this, he loved the sounds that she made and the way that she tasted. All through high school, he heard guys talk about how they hated it, but it was the only kind of sex that a lot of girls would give them. And if they didn’t reciprocate oral back, they never got oral in return. Aaron had been prepared to hate it but to keep on doing it to keep Haley happy.

The fact that he loved the act made Aaron happy as fucking hell. The way that her hole clenched on his tongue and then fingers when he was too tired of that act. How wet Haley got from him doing such a simple thing. There was nothing about the act that Aaron hated.

“Aaron, fuck please,” Haley begged as she tried to smash his head down into her more. Her grip was precarious, and she lost it when Aaron plunged his fingers down into her. He went right for her g-spot and licked up to her clit. It was seconds later that she came again, screaming as she did and her legs nearly crushed Aaron’s head as they came together.

Aaron felt his cock throbbing, wanting relief. Aaron slipped up Haley’s body when she let go of his head with her thighs, and he kissed her. As much as he loved the taste of her, Haley loved the taste of herself on Aaron’s tongue even more. Aaron kissed her, their tongues tangling until his cock was near aching with the need for release. He leaned up and grabbed Haley’s legs, pressing them together, making a new hole for his cock to fuck. It would also rub right along her sex, and Aaron hoped to get her off again.

Haley looked beautiful, sweat-soaked, and her hair falling on the pillow. The flush of arousal and satiation on her face just finished off the look. Between the lube that was on Aaron’s cock and Haley’s own wetness, Aaron found his way perfectly ready for him as he got a good rhythm. Aaron had a hold of Haley’s legs right under the knees, and she had her legs bent off to the side so that she could see Aaron rocking as he thrust his cock in and out of the warm hole made by her body. He could feel the warmth of her cunt as he rubbed along it. It felt damned good on him, and he wanted that forever.

Aaron couldn’t hold on anymore and came with a groan, his semen spilling all along her folds and even her stomach as he rocked in and out to get the most pleasure. When he knew that he was done, he reached down and found Haley’s clit and hole, slipping two fingers inside of her and his thumb rubbing at her nub. Her last orgasm ripped through her body and Aaron watched as she nearly blacked out from it. He loved that, making her so worn out with sex. She really wasn’t going to be good for anything at all the rest of the day. Which was totally okay with Aaron.

After a shower, Aaron was the first down into the kitchen. Haley was still in the shower, doing a little more upkeep on her body than Aaron needed. Jack was seated in his chair with a few strands of what looked like hash brown on his plate in front of him. He had a handful of more.

“Good morning, buddy,” Aaron said as he walked over to Jack and kissed the top of his head.

“Dada, brow?” Jack offered up the handful of hash browns.

“No, buddy, that’s yours. Spencer is making us more food.” Aaron loved that Jack loved to share his food, but he was a little circumspect about how much those hands had been all over things that had not been wiped down.

Aaron looked up at Reid to see that he was not looking at him and was kind of steadfastly looking at the stove. Aaron figured that they had been heard as Reid was always a lot better at greeting Aaron and especially Haley when they entered the room.

“Good morning,” Haley said as she entered the morning.

“Morning,” Reid squeaked, but he didn’t look up from the stove.

Haley looked at Aaron, and she looked a little ashamed, but Aaron shook his head when she made a face that said she wanted to apologize. That wasn’t going to do good with the way that Reid was. He would just retreat because it was something that gave him second-hand embarrassment. Haley gave Aaron a look, but she relented.

“Need help, Reid?” Aaron asked.

Reid relaxed like he was happy that they weren’t going to bring it up. Aaron stepped up behind him and turned off to the side so that Reid could see where he was.

“If you want to set the table. Big plates for us. The casserole is almost done.”

“Casserole?” Haley asked. She looked confused when Aaron looked at her.

Aaron was a little confused as well because he wasn’t sure why there was gravy if they were going to eat a casserole.

“Yes. There was a kid whose mom made him this, and they put the gravy on it all, but when he reheated it on the hot pot stove at school, the gravy broke down. So I just add it to each slice as it comes out and reheat the gravy on the stove or carefully in the microwave when it’s reheated. I figured that there would be enough for tomorrow for breakfast, so we don’t have to cook then either.” Reid turned around and grabbed the potholder and then opened the oven. The casserole looked wonderful. It was full of meat, cheese, and hash browns and the pepper gravy that Reid was cooking just made Aaron’s stomach growl in hunger.

“This looks wonderful. Thank you,” Aaron said as he pulled down the needed plates as well as a small one for Jack. Aaron saw that Spencer took that plate first after Aaron put it down and not only dished out some of the casserole for Jack but also broke it up into parts to cool down for him to eat quicker.

“Gravy?” Spencer asked.

“No, he can try that later,” Haley said before Aaron could answer.

Yeah, Aaron could get used to Reid living with them for a lot longer than just a few more weeks..

It really felt weird for it to be Friday and he wasn’t working. Spencer didn’t like it. He just wanted to be at work or even at home. Home was transient at the moment, but he had felt happier and more at home in Hotch and Haley’s basement than he had anywhere else. He was still a little chuffed at how Haley had made sure that he was going to be happy in the basement with a bed that fit him and furniture that he liked. Though he had just picked out what he thought looked the best in the room when they had gone shopping.

Spencer looked around the small section of DC that he was in. It was an area that was a lot freer than the rest of DC. It was also an area of random violence as it was the area where everyone who wasn’t heteronormative ended up. It hadn’t started that way, but since the eighties, the area had filtered in more and more who wanted to be around those who were like them or just different enough to feel safe. Spencer liked the area a lot and was thinking of looking for a place there.

Spencer was mainly there to try and see if there were any places for rent or lease that allowed animals. Spencer thought about the cats that morning, and warmth filled him. It wasn’t all from the cats though. Part of that was because he had woken up when Hotch had covered him up in the night after he had fallen asleep on the couch. He had woken up when he heard the cabinet door opened in the room and had stayed still until the blanket had been draped over him. He had moved a little, but Hotch hadn’t noticed that he was awake.

Hotch had covered up Spencer, trying not to wake him, even as he tucked the blanket around him before running his hand through Spencer’s hair. That movement had seemed odd, but Spencer figured it was something that he did to Jack and had just transferred it to Spencer. Spencer wasn’t sure what to think about moving out of the house.

Spencer really liked living with Hotch and Haley. He liked not being alone but also being able to be alone when he wanted to be. Jack was attached to him, but that was not a reason to stay. Hotch and Haley needed to get on with their lives without worrying about Spencer or having him underfoot.

Still, Spencer loved the feeling of Hotch and Haley’s home. They made him feel welcome and wanted when few people in his life had ever made him feel that way.

Lifting his cup up, Spencer took a drink before looking down at his book again. He was waiting on his breakfast to be brought out to him. He hadn’t been by in a while, so the staff had worried about him. It was his place to be himself, to not have to act like everyone else around, so he had not asked Haley to bring him here for breakfast on one of the many days over the past months when she wanted to eat out instead of cook after getting Hotch squared away for the day. Though now it was Spencer and Hotch getting fed while she took Jack out to eat.

The morning was chilly, or Spencer would be sitting outside to watch everyone, so instead, he was in a corner bistro table that allowed him enough room for his book on the table as well as his food. It was his usual spot, and he would wait for it to be open before settling down to make his order. He hadn’t even needed to actually order and hadn’t in a long time.

Spencer smelled bacon getting closer to him, so he moved his book over and looked up. It was Marla, his normal waitress, walking out to him.

“Eggs, over medium on toast, home fries with peppers and onions, bacon just right, and a glass of orange juice.”

“Thank you,” Spencer said as he leaned back to allow her room to set everything down.

“We have blueberry, chocolate chip, cinnamon pecan, and peach smothered pancakes this week,” Marla said when she had finished setting everything down on the table for Spencer.

“Oh, cinnamon pecan and a bowl of oatmeal please, those out at the same time will be fine.”

“Sure. I’ll get it ready and submit it when you are done with the first course.” Marla reached out and squeezed Spencer’s cheek.

Spencer endured the touch as the woman was old enough to be his mother, but she never tried to mother him. He looked down at his food and smiled. He was hungry. He had run on his own that morning as Hotch and Haley had a bit of a lie-in. Spencer was just glad to be out of the house as soon as possible. He did not want to hear a repeat of that other morning. Spencer could feel the blush creeping up his face as he thought about it. He knew that Hotch and Haley had sex, married couples did that when they did not actively dislike each other. Spencer just wasn’t sure if they had tried to keep it quiet before that morning or were having sex when Spencer was asleep. He was just thankful that neither of them had said they were sorry or anything like that.

It had only taken about half of a day for him to be able to look either of them in the eye, but he had been fine by later in the day. Hearing their encounter made Spencer feel a little embarrassed, and he hoped to avoid too much of that while he lived there. Spencer knew that they hadn’t meant for him to hear them but living in the same house as them wasn’t something that could be hidden.

Spencer was by no means a virgin. He had sex in college but not really that much since then. Though the sexual encounters he had in college were not that great in his mind. He had faked orgasm more than anything. He didn’t quite like that, but he had never felt that sexual spark with any of them. Really, he hadn’t felt that spark with anyone at all in his life.

Masturbation was not an issue, he did that enough to know that he was fine that way. Even being in a pool and kissing Lila had not made him feel anything. Sexual attraction was as varied as the person that was feeling or not feeling it, Spencer had learned over the years. He had enough labels on him that he hadn’t sought out to figure out what other labels he could put on himself.

Spencer tucked into his food, pushing thoughts about sex very far away from him. He was hungry, so he ate with gusto, reading less than he usually did. When he was finishing up the last bite of his bacon, he sought out Marla’s gaze and nodded his head. She put up the ticket for his second course as she called it. Spencer liked to eat the pancake last, but if he got it with the rest of his food, it was cold. So it was put in when he was pretty much done with the rest of his food. He blamed Hotch for the oatmeal that he was eating. The man made it a good bit over the last few months, especially on weekends when he wanted Haley to be able to sleep in. It had become comfort food to Spencer.

Marla dropped off the oatmeal first and with it was a small jug of milk, a double pat of butter, as well as a cup of brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Spencer had not tried oatmeal with any of that in it. He looked at the time and debated texting Hotch, but he chose not to. Spencer grabbed the plate that his bacon had been on and dropped a little oatmeal on it and then mixed in a little bit of butter. Spencer tried it and frowned but found that he didn’t hate it. So he pushed the rest of the butter into the oatmeal. Next, he added a little of the cinnamon-sugar mixture to it and found that he did like that, so he added more to the bowl. The milk he added to the fresh cup of coffee when Marla filled his up. He knew that he didn’t like milk in his oatmeal, made it too runny. Thankfully the butter didn’t. It did give it a richness, and then the sugar and cinnamon made it sweet while not making it too sweet.

Spencer prepared his pancakes with the butter that came with them but no syrup. They were sweet enough for him.

The vibration of his phone scared Spencer a little bit. He looked over to see that it was a text. He frowned as it was too early for Morgan or JJ to text him after the case from hell the day before. It was why they were off today. Hotch had wrangled it with Strauss for the team to have a three day weekend if they got things done as far as paperwork went the night before. It didn’t help that the case had gone to hell and it was Spencer’s first where he had been able to go with the team with full restrictions lifted. It was strange for Spencer to be out with the team again but also strange because Hotch had put him in the room with him. There used to be a rotation so that everyone had to deal with Gideon’s snoring. Usually, if a case were terrible, Hotch would always room with Gideon so that no one but him had to deal with Gideon’s obsessive need to talk through a case. JJ and Prentiss were sharing a room like always, and now Morgan was alone. Spencer wondered if Hotch hadn’t even thought about it or he wanted Spencer close for another reason.

Spencer would have thought that Hotch would be sick of him by now and want a break. Spencer didn’t mind it at all. He didn’t have to deal with Morgan’s worry about him. Hotch wasn’t worried about him it seemed, not in a bad way, but in a way that showed that he trusted that Spencer would come to him or call Doctor Freya if he had an issue. The FBI appointed psychologist had met with Spencer on Monday, and they had talked for a good three hours before he was declared free to go and free to go about his normal life within the FBI.

“Another cup?” Marla asked as she waved the carafe in front of him as he read his book.

“Sure,” Spencer said. He looked to see that while he had been thinking and reading, he had eaten all of his pancakes. Which wasn’t a shock. He was an old hat at that. Spencer pulled the oatmeal over and mixed it up really well again before he started to eat it. It would require a little more care as it had the ability to be a mess if he wasn’t careful. Spencer looked out to see that there were more people bustling around doing the shopping and just living their lives, so he shut the book and slipped it into his bag and started to people watch.

Most of the morning passed by Spencer with ease. He watched people go about their lives and then disappear off where Spencer couldn’t see them anymore. He ate his oatmeal slowly and drank coffee that Marla kept topped up.

“So what are your plans today?” Marla asked as she settled into the chair across from Spencer.

Spencer looked around to see that he was the only one left. The time told him that it was between the breakfast and lunch rush.

“I have no clue. I didn’t make any plans.”

“I saw the snazzy car you were driving. When did you pick that up?”

“Oh, that’s my roommate’s car. He’s not using it today so he told me I could use it since he was parked behind my Amazon.”

“I was hoping that you had got rid of that death trap,” Marla said.

“Never. I like tinkering with it. I am on the lookout for a new place to live that allows pets. I have two cats now.”

“Oh, are they cute?”

“Huge and cute.” Spencer didn’t pull out his phone to show her as she would ask if she wanted to see. Instead, he just gave her a smile after he spoke.

“Well, I’ll keep my ear out. You had better start coming in for breakfast again now that whatever you had going on is straight in your life.”

“I will.” Spencer lifted his messenger bag up so that he could get his wallet out to pay. Marla took the cash with a smile. She winked at him and then walked up to ring him up. Spencer had left a good tip with her like he always did, even accounting for the raised amount of the bill with the oatmeal on it and the specialty pancakes. He cleaned up his table a little bit before finishing off his coffee. He wanted tea now and knew that there was a coffee shop a block down that had good tea lattes. He had no clue what he wanted to do with his day, and that was a little daunting.

The ring of his phone had Spencer remembering that he had not looked at the text from what was about an hour ago. He got his phone free of his pocket and saw that it was Haley calling him. He wondered if she was worried about him. Spencer debated for a few seconds on answering the phone but chose that being childish and not answering was not precisely the best thing.

“Hello?” Spencer asked.

“Spencer, I texted you and didn’t get an answer, so Aaron told me to call because you were probably reading and forgot to even look at the text. I’m getting ready to head to the store to pick up things for dinner tonight.” Haley laughed, and then there was the sound of Jack laughing as he was running and Hotch’s voice saying something in the background. Hotch seemed to be playing with Jack.

“Oh. I’m sorry, I got very distracted.”

“It’s fine. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay with meatloaf for dinner tonight. Aaron told me that he has never seen you eat it before.”

“I don’t like meatloaf with that ketchup or ketchup like sauce on top, but I do like meatloaf.”

“Good, good. I don’t make it with that. Jack loves meatloaf, so I thought it would be a good meal for all of us. Green beans and scalloped potatoes fine?”

“Yes.” Spencer stopped walking before he entered the coffee shop. He hated being on the phone when inside of shops, even if he wasn’t ordering. Work was different when grabbing things to tide the team over or wake them up if they were putting in long hours.

“Oh, good. What about dessert?”

“How about I pick that up?” Spencer asked.

“That would be great. Enjoy your day, Spencer!” Haley near sang before she hung up just as Jack screeched loudly. It rang through the phone and even hurt Spencer’s ears.

Spencer hung up and entered the coffee shop. There was no one in the order line, but two people standing and waiting. He stepped up to place his order, letting his mind think about what he wanted to be made at the bakery for dessert that night. He would have until he got there to think about it.

Haley wrapped up the sandwiches that she was making for Aaron and Spencer’s lunch that day. Spencer had plans to watch some online thing at his desk. It was an Internet broadcast thing, so Haley had wanted to make sure that he ate by packing his lunch and Aaron had been pouty when he found out she hadn’t made plans to make one for him as well. Life had settled down with both guys gone on cases, and while it had been an adjustment for Haley, she found that even though Spencer wasn’t there to help her nearly as much as he used to, he still did what he could when he was there.

Spencer also had more time to text with Haley, and it made her not feel near as lonely. Spencer had gone on three cases so far, one that had lasted from Monday afternoon to late Thursday the first week he was back and then the next had been a two-day case. Then a huge one that had seen them gone over the weekend and they had just gotten back on Monday. Neither of them had been in a good mood that day, and Haley knew that she would not get away with cuddling with Spencer to help him feel better, so she had foisted Jack off on him. They had been adorable sitting in the chair with Jack in Spencer’s lap and Spencer reading a book to Jack. Which left Haley to deal with Aaron and make him feel better.

Haley was pretty damned sure that Aaron wouldn’t care about Haley cuddling with Spencer if it would make him feel better, but Spencer would have issues with it. Haley still wasn’t sure exactly what was up with him and dating. She understood what he was saying, but it just didn’t entirely feel like it was the truth. Haley didn’t think that Spencer was lying to her, but she did think that he was misleading himself. Until she had a better grasp on it all though, she really didn’t want to try and bring it up to him.

“Hey, Hales, you got a moment?” Aaron asked as he entered the kitchen. He was not anywhere near actually dressed for work, and he rarely left the bedroom unless he was all put together. His belt was unbuckled but at least in all of the loops on his pants. His dress shirt was over his arm and his tie as well. He did have his socks on and his undershirt.

“Sure,” Haley said. She didn’t stop what she was doing, but she did look up at Aaron more while she was doing it.

“I wanted to talk to you about something without Spencer listening in. He’s still in the shower. I think he got distracted because he’s normally out by now.”

“He was talking to me after you two got back from your run.”

Aaron nodded his head and reached out to steal a chip.

“Hey!” Haley smacked at his hand, making him laugh.

“I wanted you to think about something. You like having Spencer here don’t you?” Aaron asked.

“I do,” Haley said. She stopped what she was doing and looked at her husband. Haley knew that Spencer was looking for a place, but he wasn’t rushing to get out, so she knew that he had to be content living with them. Haley really did like him living with them. She tried not to take advantage of him, but he enjoyed doing things with Jack, even if it was just reading to him that she couldn’t help but snatch moments for herself here and there.

“I really do as well and given that he didn’t rush out and take the first apartment that he liked, he’s not that uncomfortable living here.”

“Yeah,” Haley agreed. She wondered where Aaron was going to go with it.

“He’s not a bother at all and even when he’s watching things on TV that astound me, he’s careful about things. He’s wonderful with Jack, and he knows exactly when to disappear from a room.” Aaron waggled his eyebrows at that one. The night before, Aaron had started to get a little handsy, keeping things mostly clean in front of Spencer and Jack who was asleep on him after being read to. Spencer had got up the first time that Haley had to cough to cover a moan. He had laid Jack down and took the monitor with him down to his room. Aaron had coaxed Haley up to the bedroom so at least Spencer hadn’t been trapped down in the basement, but she figured that he had.

“That boy is going to die of embarrassment one of these days, and you are going to feel bad about it.” Haley gave Aaron a mock glare when she said it.

“He’s not, I promise.” Aaron walked around to stand beside Haley, making her turn around and stop what she was doing to look him in the eye.

Haley noticed that he looked a little nervous. Nervous was not a normal thing for him, or he was at least better at hiding it. He had been nervous through her whole pregnancy, but he got good at hiding that so he didn’t make Haley worse off with her own worry about him being worried about her.

“I want to run something by you, and you can think about it today, tomorrow, however long it takes.”

“Okay,” Haley said.

“We are both happy with him being here right now and that might change, but I don’t see it doing that for a while. So how do you feel about him just staying for a while?”

“Like he doesn’t move out until what? He finds someone?”

“Or he gets tired of it. He’s happy, and I know that him moving out won’t cause him issues, but he doesn’t like change, and I don’t want him to feel like he has to move out. We are all making it work.”

Haley opened her mouth to speak but stopped when she heard Spencer’s shoes on the stairs coming up. She glared at Aaron for cutting it so damned close.

“Just think about it,” Aaron said as he stepped back to head to the cabinet to make some Cream of Wheat.

Aaron had brought up making it the night before, and Spencer had been interested. Haley found that as far as breakfast foods went, Spencer hadn’t eaten a lot that wasn’t from a diner of some kind or was a staple of what he had eaten with his mother, which was cold cereal.

“So how does one eat Cream of Wheat?” Spencer asked as he walked over to the coffee pot and started to make himself a cup of coffee and then Aaron one as well. Haley already had hers, so he only topped it off and added a little more of what she liked into her cup.

“Well, Haley eats it with a little cinnamon in it and a tablespoon of honey. I eat mine with some brown sugar, and I dip buttered toast into it. Haley eats her toast with it but doesn’t dip it.”

“Interesting,” Spencer said. He leaned back against the counter. Haley watched as his eyes wandered over Aaron’s body. Aaron had put his dress shirt on, but it wasn’t buttoned-up, and his tie was draped around his neck loose. He hadn’t buckled his belt yet. That would come after he had his dress shirt in his pants. It was interesting to see Spencer’s reaction to Aaron not being as put together as normal. His eyes didn’t show interest though so Haley did start to wonder precisely what Spencer’s sexuality was. She wasn’t going to ask him but doing a little personal ruminating wasn’t something that would hurt anyone.

“Okay, lunches are packed,” Haley said a few minutes later when she had the sandwiches and cold things in the cold section of the insulated lunch bag and the chips in the not insulated section. It would keep the chips fresh.

“What did you pack to drink?” Aaron asked as he stepped back from the stove where the milk was in the pan to get warm. Aaron turned around to get his shirt buttoned and then tucked into his pants so he could finish up getting dressed. Haley was pretty sure that he only turned around to give Spencer some privacy.

“Lemonade in bottles. They are right on the ice packs in the cold bottom compartment, and then food is in the middle with the packs that have a little buffer between them and the packs in there.” Haley settled the lunch bag over by the doorway that led to the living room so that the food wasn’t forgotten.

“I like lemonade,” Spencer said. He was looking at the milk on the stove. His attention to things on the stove had Haley wondering why he didn’t cook more. He liked to learn, and he did well at some things that he cooked.

“I know,” Haley said at the same time that Aaron did. They both started to laugh.

Aaron turned around and stepped over to the counter to pour out the needed cereal for the meal at the same time that he grabbed the bread from the box and handed it over to Spencer. Spencer liked toast duty, which was the strangest thing in the world to Haley, but it was adorable. He got butter all over every single corner of the toast, a perfectly even amount. It was another small sign of OCD that she saw in him that he didn’t try and hide. She had noticed a few things that he did that he forced himself to mess up on purpose to not draw attention, but he did it less and less while he was living with them.

“Lemonade was a popular drink in Vegas. Kids with lemonade stands when I was growing up. I did a sampling once to figure out which was the best depending on how you liked your lemonade, the mix between sweet and sour, just sweet, or if you really liked sour. I also figured out which ones were watering it all down.”

Haley kept her smile to herself because she could see Spencer doing that and then spreading it around the neighborhood.

“And how did those who were watering it down take that?” Aaron asked.

“They did not take it well as their business went under,” Spencer said. He was chuckling to himself as he dropped the next round of bread into the toaster and started to butter the fresh ones. Haley snagged the first piece that he got ready and bit into it. “Hey!”

“What? I’m hungry!” Haley said.

Spencer laughed and handed over the second when he was done with it. Haley gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he started to blush. It was interesting to see, but Haley knew that she didn’t need to be affectionate for a little while. He did get overloaded on it. She had found that out the hard way after a day where she had hugged him a few times too many, and he had spent the next dodging her.

“So what are your plans today?” Aaron asked as he started to stir in the Cream of Wheat.

“Just relaxing around the house for a little while and then I have a few errands that I can’t do until afternoon. Then I’m going to go and pick up a chicken from the butcher and start to roast it in the oven for dinner.”

“That sounds really good,” Spencer said.

“On the way home, I want you guys to stop by the donut shop in Dumfries and get a dozen of their mixed donuts and a few cupcakes for dessert tonight. They have their strawberry cream according to the website.”

“Sure,” Aaron said.

Spencer nodded his head and started to work on the next bit of toast.

Breakfast was quick and straightforward before Aaron and Spencer were rushing off to work.

Haley stopped in front of a sign outside one of the Real Estate agencies in the city. She saw the sign that said in four months she could be selling property in the area. Haley didn’t need to work, but her volunteering hadn’t been giving her a sense of fulfillment. She grabbed a flyer on the classes that were offered and saw that there were three different tracks. A purely in a classroom set of classes, a set of online, and a hybrid. She was very interested in the hybrid. It would work better for her and her style of learning, and the information told her what she would expect and how the hybrid classes worked.

There would be a few things to work out with not only Aaron but Jessica as well. She could show as many or as few houses as she wanted. It would be really nice. Haley opened up the door and found that the woman at the front desk was known to her. She knew the face, but she was unsure about where she knew her from.

“Mrs. Hotchner,” the woman said as she stood up and reached out with her hand to shake Haley’s.

Haley stepped up to shake it with a small frown on her face.

“Ah, you don’t remember me. I’m not shocked. My husband and I came by briefly just after you got home with Jack. I’m Karen Garrett. My husband Jack works in the BAU with Hotch.”

“Oh, yes. I remember that now.” Haley did remember it, but the faces were a little blurred from not enough sleep. The Garretts had come by with their youngest at the time but hadn’t stayed long. She had been glad of that as she had not adjusted well to being home with Jack yet.

“Are you and Hotch going to move?” Karen asked as she sat down at her seat again.

“No. I was looking at the classes about becoming a realtor.”

“Oh, yes. You came to the right place.”


“Because this agency is mostly staffed by spouses of someone of the alphabet soup or military in the area. We work around a lot of schedules and make sure that you are covered if things happen.”

“Like your husband getting shot?” Haley asked.

“Just like that. I’m usually out and about, but the lady who covers the desk for us had her husband coming back after six months overseas for the SEALs, so we gave her a few days off, and some of us who don’t have showings will cover the desk. I have more information here.” Karen opened up a drawer and handed over not only the application, but what looked like a workbook and various other things. “We normally don’t give those out until you sign up for the classes, but Hotch will want to look at them. There are detailed papers on safety and what we do about that, including the lo-jack systems that we do place on cars to make sure that we can find you. We did have a lady who was nearly killed by a guy. We only noticed because it wasn’t lunch and she was parked in the same place for a lot longer than she should have been.”

“Oh, I remember seeing that in the paper. It was a little scary to think about, being carjacked while working.”

“Jack’s just over a year and a half yes?” Karen asked.


“Then you have a lot to do for the next few years so if you only have a single house at a time, that’s never going to be a big deal. Then when he’s in school, you can take on as much as you want.”

“You’ve sold me on it, but I won’t do it without talking to Aaron.”

“Oh, I agree about that. You take it home, and Hotch has the house number so he can give it to you to call if you want to talk to me about anything.”

Haley nodded her head and thanked Karen for the information. She looked at the time. There were two hours between then and when she needed to get home. Jessica was watching Jack under the guise of spending time alone with her nephew so that Haley could go out and do things. She kind of enjoyed that she still had that option even with Spencer back at work. Jessica couldn’t do it nearly as much as Spencer had been able to but needs must when life changes.

There was a little coffee shop that Spencer had taken Haley to during one of their afternoons out, and she had fallen in love, so she walked toward it to look through the information on the classes.

The afternoon and early evening passed quickly for Haley. She read over everything that she had been given by Karen and then worked on dinner and waited for her guys to come home.

Haley stopped in her tracks in the kitchen as she mentally called Aaron and Spencer her guys. She huffed and smiled as it seemed that she had made up her mind on the question that Aaron had asked her to think about. She laughed as she pulled the green beans from the freezer. They were a favorite vegetable of Spencer and Jack who liked to eat them with his fingers. Jack also liked corn, but Haley blamed that on Aaron who had shown Jack how to pop the kernels. It was interesting to see Aaron get up to crazy things with Jack that she never would have thought he would have done.

Aaron had grown up way too early, and it was part of what had pulled Haley toward him. She would have a stable life with him. That was what she had wanted more than anything was a stable life with a few kids. The kid had come a lot later in life than she thought, but she was just as happy with just Jack in their life than if they had a gaggle of kids. After the roughness of the first pregnancy and even getting to that point, Haley was pretty sure that those days were behind them. She was content with that.

“Honey, we are home!” Aaron called out several minutes later.

Haley looked at the time in shock. They were an hour early. She listened as Jack went running toward the sound of his father’s voice. Haley followed that sound to see that Jack was hugging Spencer around the legs while he held donuts in one hand and the cupcakes in another as he smiled down at Jack.

“You guys are home early.”

“There was a minor issue with a cleaner getting dumped into the HVAC system on accident and everyone getting headaches so the building is being aired out and everyone was sent home or to another building if they needed to stay on grounds to do something.”

“Well, dinner isn’t going to be ready for an hour. I can put the green beans out and let them thaw for a while, but the chicken won’t be ready any earlier.”

“Good. Spencer and I can take showers and get rid of what smell we have on us. We drove with the windows down the whole way home.”

“It’s at least warm enough for that,” Haley said.

“We would have done it even if it hadn’t been,” Spencer said. He picked at his thin sweater and wrinkled his face in disgust. Jack tried to climb Spencer’s pants but stopped when he caught a whiff of whatever was on them as he crinkled his nose and took off running away. Haley heard him laughing in the other room.

Haley kept her smile to herself as both men scattered away, Spencer down to the basement and Aaron to the upstairs. Spencer blocked the top of the stairs with a gate. It was new so that the basement door didn’t have to be shut all of the time. Haley worked on getting the table set while she heard the showers going. She could at least get those parts ready so that the meal would be ready to go when the chicken was ready.

Spencer was the first up, his hair was up in a ponytail, something that he didn’t do that often at all but Haley thought that he looked really good with it like that. He did it when he was doing manual labor or when his hair was wet, and he didn’t want to dry it or have it getting his clothes wet all over with the drippings.

“Anything that I can do?” Spencer asked.

“Do you want to pull out the chicken and check the temperature?” Haley asked.

“Sure.” Spencer grabbed the oven mitts and worked on getting the chicken out.

Haley stopped paying attention to him as he worked and she got the green beans off of the fire and drained. She had made just enough for them for that meal, so she walked to the table to start to dip them out onto the plates.

Aaron entered the room with Jack in hand. Jack was wiping his hands on each other like he always did when he had just got done washing his hands. He showed off his hands to Spencer when he passed him. Spencer cooed over the hands, and then Jack was showing Haley.

“Look at your clean hands. Such a big boy.”

Jack grinned at Haley and looked so pleased with himself. “Clean!”

“Yes, very clean,” Aaron said.

“Hey, Aaron,” Haley said, and Aaron looked up at her from looking at Jack. Haley nodded her head at Spencer and then nodded her head up and down. Aaron smiled and leaned over to kiss Haley. He looked so damned happy.

“Ewww!” Jack cried out.

Haley laughed as Aaron pulled away and she looked over at Spencer who was pulling the thermometer from the chicken and nodding his head.

“It’s done, and what’s ewww, Jack?” Spencer asked.

“Kissy,” Jack said.

“Ah,” Spencer said.

“Hungry, Jack?” Aaron asked.

“Yes, Sir.”

Haley burst out laughing at the look of shock on Aaron’s face from their son calling him Sir. Jack laughed even though Haley knew that he didn’t know why he was laughing.

Aaron got him down into the chair and slipped his plate close with his green beans before walking over to start cutting into the chicken. Spencer got a breast and Haley took some of the other when Aaron cut it to give to Jack. The boy did not like dark meat. She looked at Spencer, neither did he.

“Spencer,” Aaron said when they were all tucking into their food. Spencer looked up at him, but his mouth was full of chicken, so he covered his mouth with one hand and waved for Aaron to go on with the other. “Haley and I were talking today, and we wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure,” Spencer said when he swallowed the food in his mouth.

“How do you feel about staying long term?”

“What?” Spencer dropped the fork that was in his hand. He looked at both of them in shock.

“It’s been nice having you here,” Haley said.

“Really?” Spencer asked.

“It’s not like you are the worst roommate in the world, Spencer,” Aaron said. He settled his fork down on the napkin beside his plate and picked up his water to take a drink. “You don’t leave things lying around. You take really good care of Jack when we ask you to. You keep Haley company when I have to do work things and give us time to be alone even if it’s just taking Jack down into your room. The cats are a good bit of companionship.”

“Even if Midnight likes to watch your shower?” Spencer asked.

“I’m ignoring that part and hope that she grows out of it.” Aaron’s face was so stoic as he said it, but his eyes were full of laughter. It had been the shock of a lifetime the first time that Midnight made it up to the bathroom to watch Aaron shower. Aaron had screamed at the black cat staring at him. Midnight had since followed him every time that he went upstairs that she could and usually waited for him to get back from his run to follow him and watch him.

“One can only hope that the peeping tom cat grows out of it,” Haley said.

“So what do you think?” Aaron asked, looking at Spencer.

“I don’t know.” Spencer looked really unsure.

“You don’t have to say yes today, or even next week. You don’t have to say yes at all. You just have to think about it.”

“I can leave at any time with no hard feelings?”

“You could say yes today and then leave tomorrow if you really felt like it. It’s not a binding agreement.”

“And I’ll pay part of the bills? Pay rent, and we sign a contract that has easy out clauses?”

“If you want we can hammer that out this weekend.”

“I say, yes. I’ve enjoyed staying here, and it’s nice to come back here. You have to promise me that if I start to overstay my welcome. You say so.”

“We promise,” Haley said as she laid her hand over Spencer’s on the table.

“And you want me here?” Spencer asked.

“Yes.” Haley gave Spencer a smile. “We both do. It’s not normal at all, but it’s working for us. No one else matters in this. You are great with Jack, and you are slowly coming into your own. I enjoy having you here when Aaron’s not around and when you are on your own here, it’s like you aren’t here. It’s companionship when you want it and not when you don’t. It doesn’t have to be any different than if you were renting any other apartment except I’ll be doing most of the cooking.”

“Which you don’t have to for me.”

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to. You give me a lot, and it’s one way that I can give you something back.”

Spencer nodded his head, and he ducked his face down to look at the food on his plate.

“Geen,” Jack said.

Spencer looked up at Jack, who was holding out a green bean to Spencer. Spencer took it and ate it with a smile on his face. “Thanks, Jack. That’s just what I needed.”

Haley felt her heart swell at the feelings inside she was having at the moment. She was glad that she wasn’t going to lose her new friend and that he was going to stay for at least a little while.

Chapter 8

Aaron rolled over in bed and kissed Haley on the top of her head before he rolled back over and got out of bed. He knew that he had limited time before he had to start fully getting ready. Aaron dressed for running and then checked on Jack before he walked down to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee in him. The new coffee pot, bought by Spencer for the house, had a timer, and it started to brew coffee at a set time every single day. It had two different settings, and it swapped between one and the other based on a button press by them at night. If no button was pressed, it went with what was made the day before. There was less made obviously if Aaron and Spencer were on a case. The coffee was good, better than what Haley had bought before. It was a brand that Spencer bought on occasion when he was feeling the need for a pick me up. Haley had enjoyed it, so now she bought it every single time they needed coffee from the store. Aaron didn’t mind it at all.

Spencer wasn’t hurting for money, Aaron knew that well. He also knew that Spencer had minor issues with not spending a lot of money on simple things. It was leftover from his childhood of making sure that what little money they had was going to be enough to get them through. Aaron picked up his mug after doctoring his coffee the way that he liked. He waited to hear from Spencer in the basement. Aaron was up early, he didn’t want to miss Spencer going on the run. Aaron enjoyed their time together, even if some mornings they didn’t say a single word to each other.

Aaron wondered about William Reid and the man that he was. Aaron knew the damage that he had done in his life. There was no way that the majority of the reason Spencer had been thinking about turning to drugs didn’t settle around his childhood and how things went after his father left him in the hands of his mother. Aaron had never heard Spencer talk about him, but his name was known to Aaron because of his file. Where Diana Reid had been living had been just an address on file, which wasn’t that odd considering houses did not have business names but someone in HR or higher up had made sure that bit of rumor had never made it around, which Aaron was glad of. Even after the wake of Diana coming in to help on a case as well as for her own protection, no one had said a single thing. Aaron figured that someone had made sure everyone understood what to keep their mouth shut about.

The Fisher King case was a legend around the Academy and nothing that Aaron could do stopped it.

A light knock on the front door had Aaron frowning. He carried his coffee cup with him and walked to the front door. He looked through the window beside the door and frowned, but he opened it.

“Aaron,” David Rossi said.


“I don’t want to take up much of your time as I know you run in the mornings.”

“Hotch?” Spencer called out from the kitchen.

“Get your coffee, and we can get going, Spencer,” Aaron called back, and he really hoped that Spencer stayed in the kitchen.


“Team member, Doctor Reid,” Aaron said.

“Ah, yes. That I had heard about. I’m heading out hunting, but I knew you would be awake. I’m going to be calling Erin later today and offering up to fill in for the spot left by Jason.”

Aaron raised an eyebrow at Dave. He had lasted longer in retirement and writing his books than Aaron thought that he would so Aaron had assumed that it was going to stick.

“I’ve stayed current on my fitness and passed the testing for all agents of my age a month ago. It keeps the young ones more willing to do their job if they see us old-timers in there as well. I just need to qualify on the gun range, but that can be done at any point. I didn’t want to blindside you.”

“Do you want-”

“NO!” Dave said, forcefully. “Oh, no. You get to keep that job, but I’ll slide in as second to be able to take over if you are needed elsewhere. I know that the team can’t do anything with you gone at the moment as your most senior agent is still a few years away from being the second. I’ll gladly slip to the side when Agent Morgan is ready for that step but still stay on the team and in an office.”

“You got bored, didn’t you?” Aaron asked. He sipped at his coffee, listening to make sure that Spencer didn’t come up to the door.

“So how is having an agent in your basement going?”

“He’s a better roommate than you ever were.”

Dave laughed and held out his hand to Aaron for him to shake. “I’ll see you on Monday.”

“Don’t expect much. Haley and I are flying to Nantucket later this morning for a weekend.”

“Ah, going to be a little drained on Monday? What about Jack?” Dave asked.

“Spencer’s going to watch him. Jessica is on her way over. She’s going to watch him until Spencer gets off of work,”

“He’s that good with him?”

“Spencer’s really good with him. If I weren’t afraid of him talking your ear off about your books, I would introduce you this morning.”

“That can happen on Monday. I would like to get some hunting in today before all of the woods are full of other people. Have a good day, Aaron and don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do this weekend.” Dave waggled his eyebrows at Aaron before he turned to leave. Aaron watched him leave before he shut the door.

Spencer was downing the cup of coffee like he was trying to breathe it instead of air.

“Sleep badly?” Aaron asked. He could see the dark smudges under Spencer’s eyes like he hadn’t gotten much sleep at all. The smudges were always there, something to do with him but never this dark.

“Not so much that as those books I ordered were delivered. Haley put them in the basement, and I stayed up all night reading them.”

Aaron tried to figure out if Spencer was lying. There was no reason for him to lie, but Aaron could see him doing it if he had stayed up worried about watching Jack all weekend for the first time. There was no deception on his face.

“You’ve got that paper, right? That Haley gave with all of the information about where we are staying and all of that?”

“Yes. She even has the flight information to and from as well as the local cops and hotel security’s direct line. I’ll be fine, Hotch. I promise that I’ll call Jessica if I have anything that I need help with.” Spencer was smiling at Aaron, and there was so much emotion in it. It was confidence.

Aaron had never seen such confidence in Spencer before.

“I’m proud of you,” Aaron said.

It seemed that Spencer just about dropped his cup of coffee as he looked at Aaron after he said those words.

“Hotch?” Spencer asked.

“You have grown so far not just in the wake of Georgia but since you joined the team. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so proud about an agent on my team as I have ever felt about you.”

“Thanks,” Spencer said. He was blushing, and Aaron knew that Spencer was at the end of his rope as far that as that went. He didn’t like praise.

Aaron understood why he didn’t like praise after hearing it so much on things that had not been something he could control. Still, he was pretty when he blushed.

“Haley and I will leave whenever she’s ready, but I have time for our run. She stuck eggs in the fridge so we could all eat a good breakfast before we leave.”

“Oh.” Spencer filled his coffee cup without adding anything to it and drank it down before he grabbed the bagels from the bread box and laid them on the counter. He grabbed something else, and Aaron saw that it was blueberry bagels. Aaron was looking forward to Haley, making faces at Spencer for eating a breakfast sandwich on a blueberry bagel.

“Ready?” Aaron set his coffee cup down. He would fill it up with the second pot.

Spencer filled the carafe with coffee from the glass carafe and started up the pot to brew another batch while they were on a run. It was domestic and kind of nice.

“Aaron?” Haley asked as she rolled over in bed to sit up. She was just in a camisole, her preferred clothing for days in bed.

“I’m going to call and check on Spencer,” Aaron said as he grabbed his cell phone from where he had plugged it in. He checked the charge on it and found that it was fully charged.

Haley laughed and laid back on the bed, keeping the sheet tucked around her legs, leaving her upper body on display. The room had a chill from where Aaron had turned the air down because he had gotten hot after their first round of sex. Haley’s nipples were hardening with the silk of the camisole and the chill in the room. Aaron had never felt so much like a horny teenager as he had the last few months. Once the fear for Spencer’s life and his career had gone away, his want of Haley had risen up. It was like they were both newlyweds again. Though some of that was probably from the fact that Haley was happier as well.

Aaron figured that was part of why he didn’t want Spencer to leave. He was afraid that if Spencer left, things would go back to how they were before Georgia. Aaron knew that it was insane, but also there was that small fear.

“He’s not called.”

“He’s also not checked in like he usually does and I want him to make sure that he knows that texts about what they are doing during the day is going to be fine. I know that while he was working, he probably wasn’t going to check in as he didn’t have Jack but-” Aaron stopped talking when his cell phone went off with a text notification. Haley’s was just about two seconds behind. Her phone had been charged fully when they got there, and Aaron had charged his after that.

“Oh, my,” Haley said with a laugh. She looked up at Aaron and waved at him to check his phone.

Aaron opened up the message application and found a picture of Jack with a bowl on his head. There were noodles hanging out. Aaron didn’t see any sauce on the noodles, so he figured that Jack had gotten bored waiting on the sauce.

He’s not a fan of my sauce, was underneath the picture. Aaron smiled at it, and then another picture came through that showed Jack noshing on a few noodles with sauce on them. He was still very much in the feeding himself without a fork or spoon stage and spaghetti was few and far between because of it. It was so messy that most of the time, Haley didn’t want to have to clean him up afterward. Aaron usually just brought Jack into the shower with him and cleaned him up that way. Haley would do it if she had to, but she preferred giving him a bath so he could play in the water.

“See, he’s fine. Probably just waiting to have something that was actually worth texting.” Haley laid her phone down and crooked a finger at Aaron. She spread her legs as he got close to the bed. Aaron tossed his phone down on the side of the bed, furthest away from where they were. It was a California King at minimum as Aaron was pretty sure that he, Haley, and Spencer AND Jack could sleep in the bed and not touch.

“He is going to be fine.”

“He stayed up late enough last night I think to go through every single scenario that could conceivably or even inconceivably happen to them this weekend.”

“Oh, no, Hales.” Aaron leaned over her, spreading her legs a little further so her camisole drifted up so Aaron could see her sex. She was already a little wet, though that could have a lot to do with the fact that Aaron was naked. Unless they were getting dressed for the day, Haley was usually wet for him if he was naked. “He stayed up all night long reading those damned books he got in.”

“Oh, those weird ones in Russian?” Haley asked.

“Yes.” Aaron hooked his arms under Haley’s knees and grabbed her waist to pull her down to him. His cock rubbed along her slit. Haley’s eyes darkened, and Aaron knew what she wanted.

“Do you want another baby?” Haley asked.

Aaron groaned at the image of Haley with her belly swelling again, and he did want to see that. The doctor had not told them not to try but that Haley would be monitored heavily because it would be a higher risk pregnancy.


Hours later, Aaron heard the chime on his phone as he listened to Haley breathe. She was on her side tucked into his chest and Aaron had his arm thrown over her stomach. He was cupping where she would swell first given how she had with Jack. The idea of Haley pregnant was something that Aaron wanted. He would love to see a smiling little girl with Haley’s eyes. It was one of the best things in the world to Aaron. They already had one perfect son, and they just needed a perfect little girl to complete.

The light flashed on his phone, and Aaron remembered the text. He had turned down the sound to where it wouldn’t wake up Haley, but he would be able to hear it if he was awake. He reached over, reluctantly letting go of Haley’s stomach, and grabbed the phone. He saw that it was a text from Spencer. Aaron thumbed open the screen to see it. Aaron looked at the time on the top of the screen and saw that it was four in the morning. He wasn’t that shocked about Spencer being awake.

Thank you, Spencer sent in the text.

Aaron knew precisely what Spencer was thanking him for. The main part was trusting Spencer with Jack over such a long time but also just trusting Spencer at all.

You are very, very welcome, Spencer.

There was nothing else in response, so Aaron set his phone down, and his hand went right back to Haley’s stomach. Aaron had always wanted a house full of kids, three had been what he wanted, but he would be happy with two or even just Jack. There was nothing stopping them from adopting, and with Haley’s working on becoming a realtor, Aaron knew that it was still a possibility for them and might even be more possible. He wasn’t sure how Spencer living with them would impact that, but it wasn’t like anyone could find fault with Spencer residing with them. Spencer was a well-decorated FBI agent and this whole thing with him having been in rehab and the reason why would not be revealed as for the most part, it was classified information.

Aaron wondered if Haley would want Spencer around if they had another kid, through birth or adoption. Aaron wasn’t even sure that Spencer would want that. A near toddler was a lot different than a crying baby, but then Aaron could see him wanting to stay around to be helpful. Spencer liked being helpful, and sometimes Aaron had to make sure that Spencer understood that he didn’t need to be on top of everything in the house to be a good roommate.

Haley shifted in her sleep, and it reminded Aaron of when she had trouble settling in bed because of her back during pregnancy. Aaron pulled back a little, getting his other arm from under her head to where it was between them, he started to rub up and down her spine, and Haley began to settle down pretty quickly. She sighed, and her body went nearly limp after a few more minutes of the rubbing. Aaron smiled and relaxed down into the bed as well. It wasn’t the best bed in the world, but then Aaron liked his beds a bit firmer than this one was. Places like this had to go middle of the road on things like that and Aaron understood it, but he was already looking forward to his bed at his house when they were done.

The next two days in Nantucket with Haley were going to be enjoyable, but it was the nights sleeping that Aaron wasn’t looking forward to. Aaron reached out again and grabbed the phone. He opened up messaging and typed out his musing to Spencer.

Even the really good places that you pay a lot of money for have shit bedding. Aaron hit send when he was done and waited to see if Spencer was going to text him back.

Haley sighed and started to roll over so Aaron laid on his back so she could cuddle into his side with her head resting on his upper arm. The phone was transferred easy, and Aaron was glad that he was a right-handed typist as much as he was a left-handed one.

There has to be a downfall to everything, even vacation. Go to sleep, Hotch. You are going to need it with the places she’s dragging you.

Aaron laughed at Spencer’s words and shook his head. He laid his phone down again and then wrapped the arm under Haley around her as much as he could get. He was going to need some more sleep before whatever Haley had planned for them.

Spencer walked into Jack’s room and smiled at the boy who was standing up at the edge of the crib. He was smiling, and when he saw Spencer, Jack started to jump up and down in the crib.

“Pen!” Jack screeched, and he let go of the crib to hold his hands up as Spencer got close.

“You better watch it. You might make me think you like me more than your parents,” Spencer joked with the boy even though Jack couldn’t understand the meaning behind the words.

“Pen,” Jack said as he settled down into Spencer, laying his head on Spencer’s shoulder. It was Jack’s favorite position on him while on Hotch it was held in front so they could look at each other in the eye. With Haley, it was on her hip though he was getting a little too big for her to carry him like that for much longer.

“Are you hungry?” Spencer asked, and he felt a little nod with Jack rubbing his face on his collarbone in answer. “Oatmeal?”

Jack made a lip-smacking noise in agreement with it, but before Spencer could walk out of the room, Jack yawned. It was very early for Jack to be up and it had been hard to get him to sleep the night before with Hotch and Haley left. Spencer had been more than a little afraid that Jack would never get to sleep, and then he would have a very cranky boy on his hands.

Spencer turned around and grabbed the book from the shelf in the room that he had been reading to Jack before they made their way down to Spencer’s part of the house. As Spencer got close to the bed, Jack started to wiggle and then lunged out of Spencer’s arms to land on the bed with a giggle.

“You are a monkey,” Spencer said as he grabbed the blanket and tossed it over Jack. Jack laughed and started to fight his way out of the blanket.

Jack pushed the blanket down to where he could look at Spencer. “Read.”

“I will read to you.” Spencer looked at the time on the clock on the wall and figured that Jack could do with two more hours of sleep before Spencer had to wake him up to eat. He would see what the boy wanted for breakfast then.

Spencer didn’t even get through a single chapter of the book before Jack’s eyes were closed and his breathing even. Spencer brushed at the fringe on the boy’s head before closing the book and getting up off of the bed. He was doing his laundry so outside of quick trips up to the laundry room, Spencer would be down in the basement. He did block off the stairs so Jack couldn’t climb up them before he grabbed the load that was finished drying. There had been a load of towels that were ready to be done, so Spencer had started them after getting his socks and underwear going in the dryer.

Laundry was a mishmash of who did it as far as communal things like towels and sheets. All of the sheets were tossed into a bin in the laundry room while the towels were grabbed from various bathrooms to be washed when it looked like there was a load.

Spencer settled the basket on the other side of his doorway so that he could walk over the gate and then reach around and grab the basket. Jack was still a sleeping lump in the middle of the bed, so he dumped his socks and underwear at the end of it. He sorted out his three sizes of socks and his underwear from each other before starting to fold the underwear. The large standalone closet was the perfect size for the clothes that Spencer needed to hang up, and then everything else was in a large dresser that was long but not that tall. It allowed Spencer to have his TV on top of the dresser as well as his gun safe. His work gun was in there, and then the safe that Hotch had on the ground floor held a few guns, all of which Spencer could fire.

That had been a full day at the shooting range after Spencer had been cleared to carry a gun again to work. Spencer had actually enjoyed it as the pressure had been off. He was learning more about guns than he thought he would ever want to know. It was fun, though. He was enjoying his time with Hotch in a non-working, more personal way. Hotch’s humor was coming through more and Spencer knew that it wasn’t Hotch that he was seeing but Aaron, the man that he was when he was at home. Spencer had been seeing him more and more when they were alone, and Haley was doing something else.

Jack rolled in the bed, curling on his side and tucking his hands to his chest a little bit. Spencer didn’t move for fear of waking him up. Jack didn’t wake though, so Spencer picked up his underwear to put into the dresser. He rotated the older stuff to the front and moved the newly washed to the back. He used to wait until Hotch and Haley had gone to bed to do this, but then Hotch had been talking to him about books one evening and Spencer had just started to put up his things after folding them. Hotch had said nothing at all about Spencer’s meticulous way of taking care of his things.

The vibration of Spencer’s phone scared him a little bit, but he was glad that he had put it on vibrate instead of having it ring to him.

“Hello?” Spencer asked. The caller ID was one of the ones registered to Nantucket, but he wasn’t sure if it was Hotch or Haley.

“Good morning, Spencer,” Hotch said.

“Morning, Hotch. You should be sleeping.”

“No. I’m just walking out of the bungalow we rented to take my morning run. I stopped by the main desk to call, so I didn’t wake up Haley. I love running up here. It’s so pretty with the landscape and the sea, and I can even do some beach running. I just wanted to check and see how Jack slept.”

“He took a while to get down. I think he was trying to wait up for you two to get home, but he finally zonked out late. He was up early but a minute of cuddling and he was yawning so I brought him down here. He jumped in my bed and nearly fell asleep as soon as I covered him up. He’s not asked for you yet, but I’m sure that will come.” Spencer looked at his socks and picked the longer ones to fold up into pairs first. He made sure that there was a little that matched between them, but that was about it. He hadn’t worn a pair of matching socks since he was a kid and he wasn’t going to start for anything in the world. He loved it.

“Jessica says it usually takes to after breakfast for him to ask for us. Are you okay?”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” Spencer asked. He was really confused about that one. He was perfectly fine, and nothing had happened that would need him to do anything at all.

“I just wanted to make sure that the whole sleeplessness thing was just from books, Spencer.”

“Oh yeah, I slept like a log last night. I woke up feeling really, really good.” Spencer laughed and looked at the time again. More time had passed than he thought. He looked at Jack to make sure that the boy was still asleep.

“Good. Good. I also wanted to ask you to send us more pictures. It’ll stop us from calling at all hours and help calm our nerves that Jack’s happy even though we are not there. Though I don’t know how happy I want him to be. He might not care that we are gone.”

Spencer opened his mouth to say that there was no way that Jack would ever not miss them when Hotch’s tone of voice filtered through his brain. Hotch was joking with him.

“I can’t make promises. I have a big day planned for us. He might even want to move into the basement with me forever.” Spencer really hoped that Hotch got his joke.

The laugh that transmitted through the phone relaxed Spencer’s nerves on that.

“I’m sure that the two of you will have a really fun day together. If you need anything, Spencer, even if it’s just to confirm what he can eat and what he can’t, just call us.”

“Oh, Haley’s never told you?” Spencer asked.

“Told me what?”

“We have a spreadsheet. It’s on the side of the fridge. It has a list of everything he has tried and what she wants to try him on next. I have the papers you gave me on medical power of attorney in my messenger bag. Everything is as shipshape as it can be just in case he has a reaction.”

“Good. I don’t doubt you, Spencer.”

“I know, but I-” Spencer stopped because the words coming out of his mouth would make Hotch doubt him.

“You learned at a young age to do what pleased your mother more than anything else. She was your rock, so you do what you can to please everyone around you. I understand Spencer. You don’t have to hide that from me, ever. I know that some of the other agents in the BAU called you an eager to please puppy at the beginning, but you know that it’s never been how I see you. You are a careful and cautious young man who wants to make sure that others are happy, that’s never a bad thing unless you are making yourself unhappy to make others happy. They have all learned by now just how strong you are and how good of an agent you are. The BAU has been blessed since you’ve arrived. I’m glad to have you on my team.”

“Thanks,” Spencer said, and he knew that he heard his voice crack a little on that word, so there was no way that Hotch missed it.

“I should get going if I want to see the sun the way that I like. I promise Spencer, I trust you. I trust you with my son, I trust you with my wife, I trust you with my life.”

“‘I will not eat them in a house, I will not eat them with a mouse, I will not eat them in a box, I will not eat them with a fox,'” Spencer quoted to try and lighten the situation.

“You know, I don’t think I have ever heard you quote Doctor Seuss before,” Hotch said.

“Jack loves them, especially when I do the funny voices. It’s our afternoon fun, Haley says.”

“Well, I look forward to you showing me that some time.”

“So do I,” Spencer said.

“Have a good day, Spencer and I mean it on pictures. You can’t send enough.”

“Have a good vacation, Hotch, and I’ll send any that I think are worth it,” Spencer promised. He hung up and looked at Jack asleep on the bed. He looked cute like he was so Spencer took a picture of that and then forwarded it to Hotch.

Spencer had upgraded his phone so that he could take good pictures with it just for Jack. He had only ever had a simple one because he needed to take and make calls and send and receive texts. Pictures were not something that he took at all until Jack. Jack was a little ham and would nearly demand pictures taken of him in strange places. He sent that picture to Hotch for him to look at when he got the chance after his run.

Dropping his phone on the bed, Spencer went back to taking care of his socks and when that was done, reading in a chair. It wasn’t long before Jack was waking up, tossing and just all-around moving that Spencer knew well from the baby monitor in his room.

“Hey,” Spence said as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Potty,” Jack said.

“Sure.” Spencer held out his hands, and Jack sat up and moved to step to him on the bed. Spencer carried him upstairs to the restroom on the ground floor as it had a training toilet in it. Jack was good about wanting to use the bathroom when he woke up, but it was harder sometimes during the day when he was playing or having fun. The potty training was newer, starting over the last month but after Spencer had got used to it, he wasn’t as freaked out about it.

There was always the fear that someone wouldn’t like that he was potty training a kid that wasn’t his and he wasn’t related to, but Hotch and Haley had no reservations about it, so Spencer had calmed down.

Spencer helped Jack clean up because Jack wanted to do it more himself, but he didn’t have the coordination all the time. The baby wipes were Jack’s preferred method of clean up, and Spencer wondered if the boy would ever be broken of that and use toilet paper.

“Hungry?” Spencer asked.

“Coco,” Jack said.

“Coco?” Spencer asked. He had never heard that word from Jack before, and he had no clue what that could be. So Spencer held out his hand, and Jack wrapped his fingers around two of Spencer’s, and they walked to the kitchen. Spencer opened up the cabinet that held the breakfast foods in it and looked around. It wasn’t until he saw the box that said Coco Wheats on it that he realized what Jack had to want. He had noticed it before, but they had never eaten it. The box was new so either it was totally new, and this wasn’t what Jack was asking for, or Haley had just bought a replacement box.

Spencer walked over to the list of foods to see that it was part of Jack’s breakfast on Wednesdays now since she had tried it two weeks ago. That explained why Spencer hadn’t got to try them yet, that was the day that Hotch and he now went out to eat at a diner in Quantico before an hour in the shooting range to help Spencer with his gun issues and making sure that he was doing okay. Spencer had passed the mock exam that Hotch had put him through this past week with ease. He hadn’t even got close to failing it again.

The attention that Hotch was giving him, both personally and professionally had helped Spencer a lot. Talking with Doctor Freya had shown Spencer how much his own confidence had gone up since he had been living with Hotch and no small part of it was the fact that Hotch believed in him. Spencer had never had anyone other than his mother believe in him. It was a very, very strange feeling but it was one that he was getting used to.

“Coco?” Jack asked as he tugged on Spencer’s pants.

“Yeah, I think we can do some Coco Wheats for breakfast,” Spencer said. He pulled down the box, pushing away his thoughts for focusing on Jack. The house was as Jack proofed as it could get, and it usually stayed that way. It was a habit when coming up the stairs to put the gate on if Jack was awake. Spencer didn’t even notice he was doing it anymore.

Spencer read the directions on the Coco Wheats before getting out as much as was needed before sealing it into a gallon plastic bag to keep bugs out of it. Got the pan down to cook it in and the water from the pitcher on the counter, measured out to the exact needs. He set the water to boil before turning around to find Jack. Usually, Jack didn’t go far at all if food as involved but Jack was not anywhere to be seen. The rush of worry dropped down as Spencer remembered that Jack loved to play when he woke up, and he would find something to do to keep himself entertained as much as possible.

Checking the stove, Spencer walked toward the living room but stopped when he heard a noise from behind him. He looked around to see the corner of Jack’s pajama pants peeking out from under the table. Spencer laughed to himself before he walked back to the stove to check on it. He turned the handle to the back, just in case.

“Now where did Jack go?” Spencer called out as he looked around. He walked around the table, ignoring the giggling coming from under the table. The first time that Spencer had listened to and then watched Hotch play this with Jack, he was perplexed. He had nearly ruined it, thinking that Hotch was blind or had hit his head and needed to be checked out. Jack was never that hidden, especially since he couldn’t stop giggling. Haley had prevented him from ruining it and made him just watch.

“Jack?” Spencer called out, putting a little singsong into the tone. Jack giggled even louder.

Spencer walked around the table again, seeing the point where Jack had moved the chairs so he could slip in and out easily. Spencer walked to the other side of that before he dropped into a crouch.

“Found you!” Spencer called out.

Jack screeched and took off out the other side of the table, making a run for the living room. Spencer chased him all through the living room until the boy made a run down the hall. The doors to the rooms he wasn’t allowed in were shut, and since the knobs were large and not handles, Jack couldn’t get into the rooms unless someone else opened the door. Spencer slowed down to allow Jack time to hide, stopping in the kitchen real quick to check the water. It wasn’t there yet but should be by the time that he found Jack this time.

Spencer turned down the hall again to follow Jack to what was going to be Haley’s office when she became a realtor. Spencer was glad that she was finding something she could do while still having Jack at home. It would help her feel better about her life, and then when Jack was in school, she could easily take on more houses to fill the time. It was smaller, but then she didn’t need a big office, nor did she want it. The room had been a junk room and had an old treadmill in it that was barely used unless the weather was too bad for Hotch to run outside. The treadmill had found a home in the unfinished side of the basement, and Spencer had used it a little that morning and would keep on using it while he was watching Jack, instead of running outside.

“Where did you go?” Spencer called out halfway down the hallway. He heard the faintest noises of Jack’s giggle as he got closer to Haley’s office. It was pretty empty outside of the desk where her study materials were as well as her laptop. It was Hotch’s old one since he had recently purchased a new one after she refused a new one. She liked Hotch’s old one. It was closed up and the chair pushed in, so Spencer knew that Jack wasn’t under the desk. There was a closet on the side of the room, and the sliding door was open just a hair.

The closet was going to hold the fancier clothes that Haley was going to buy to show houses in so that the upstairs closet wasn’t that full. This used to be a guest room, which it seemed the house was full of but they hadn’t needed it with two upstairs, and even after turning one into Jack’s room, there hadn’t been the need for a second guest room as they had never used the other, Hotch had said.

“Are you here?” Spencer pulled the chair out from the desk and dropped down, making noise as he did. Jack giggled in the closet. Spencer got up and walked over toward the small bookshelf that had a chair beside it. He knelt on the chair and shoved his head over the back to look down real quick. Jack would be able to see him in the closet if he was sitting right where the crack was.

Jack laughed loudly, the closet making the sound echo. Spencer jumped up and rushed to the closet and jerked the door open. He grinned at Jack.

“Aha! I found you!” Spencer cried out.

Jack jumped up and wrapped his arms around Spencer’s legs as much as he could and rubbed his face on Spencer’s knees. Spencer reached down and picked up Jack, putting him on his hip so he could shut the office door when they exited it. He didn’t mind Jack going in there when they were playing, but soon it would be time to leave, and if Jack didn’t want to leave, he would run around the house and hide wherever he could. It was something that Haley had been dealing with more than Spencer or Hotch, but Haley had made sure that Spencer knew before he had taken over Jack watching over the weekend.

The water was just getting to the boil that Spencer wanted when he entered the kitchen, so Spencer set Jack down in the corner with the small toy bin and pulled out a truck for him. Jack started to make noises as he pushed the car around. He was well taught to stay away from the stove while the adults were cooking, so Spencer was glad of not having to worry about that.

Spencer added the small brown granules to the water, stirring with the whisk as he did so and found that he liked the smell of them. They were like Cream of Wheat, only chocolate, which there was nothing wrong with chocolate. Spencer popped two pieces of bread into the toaster with one hand while he stirred and waited for the Coco Wheats to be done. Jack would probably just want about half of a slice of toast so Spencer would eat the rest of the other slice. When the Coco Wheats were done, he poured them out into bowls so that Jack’s could cool.

The toast popped a few seconds later, and Spencer started to butter it before cutting both pieces in half. He then took one of the halves and started to tear it into smaller pieces for Jack to eat but not too small as if Jack liked his Coco Wheats like he did his Cream of Wheat there would be dunking going on.

“Eats?” Jack asked as he stopped at the edge of the table after Spencer settled both of their bowls on the table and then the plates with the toast.

“Yes, Jack. It’s eating time.”

Spencer looked into Hotch’s office. He didn’t see anything out of place at all, so he moved onto the next room. Jack loved a good game of hide and seek but right before bed was not something that Haley would typically allow, but it was a guys weekend so they were doing what Spencer wanted instead of what Haley would do. He would rather take the yelling later. Still, it was a fun game that Jack did take seriously if he wasn’t the one to go off on his own first.

Jack was usually always found by his giggle, though.

Spencer looked through all of the rooms on the second floor before he went back to the top of the stairs to look around a little better as it seemed the boy was very good at hiding at the moment. It was interesting just how quiet Jack could be when he wanted to be. It was strange and weird, but it was Jack.

Looking through nearly every single room, except for the master bedroom, which Spencer had shut the door on because he did not need to look for Jack in there, Spencer had not found Jack yet. There was just Hotch’s office left. Jack loved it there, and the door was never shut, even if Hotch was working on something that was really important. The first time that Spencer had seen Jack walk in there, he had almost stopped him, but Hotch had just talked to Jack like it was nothing big and then settled him into his lap.

It had made Spencer a little jealous because he had never been allowed in his father’s office at all. It wasn’t like Spencer was a hellion that had damaged things. It just wasn’t the kind of man that William Reid was.

Spencer stepped into Hotch’s office and looked around. There really weren’t a lot of spaces in the room for Jack to be able to fit in and it wasn’t until Spencer moved a chair to look behind it by the window that he heard the giggle of Jack somewhere on the other side of the room. Spencer walked over and looked for where the noise had come from. It was a little window seat that would hold pillows and the like in a little cubby area. He lifted the lid and laying there in a nest of blankets was Jack. He looked like he was half asleep.

“I-” Jack yawned, and his eyes dropped. “Case.”

“Yeah,” Spencer agreed, not understanding Jack at all. He reached down and picked up the boy, settling him into his arms.

Once in his crib, it took only a single chapter of the book for Jack to fall fast asleep. Spencer raised up the side of the crib so that Jack wouldn’t fall out. It was a good crib because of that. Jack was old enough to where he could crawl in and out of it on his own but not old enough to where he wouldn’t just take off if he was awake before anyone else. It was the only reason he wasn’t being moved to a big person bed yet. There was the talk of a toddler bed, but Spencer wasn’t sure when that was going to happen.

Spencer watched as Jack slept for a few minutes, smiling at the boy even though he was dead to the world. He had left his cell phone in the kitchen where he had been cleaning up after their late-night dessert of cookies and milk before bed. Watching Jack dunk his Oreos into milk like it was the biggest thing in the world to not drop them had been really cute. Spencer had snapped a few pictures of that and sent them along.

The kitchen still had some Oreo debris on the table, so Spencer grabbed the wet rag from the sink to wipe it up. He was finishing rinsing out the rag when his cell phone started to vibrate. He dried his hands on the tea towel and grabbed the phone. It was Hotch’s cell phone.

“Hello, Hotch,” Spencer said.

“Good evening, Spencer. How was Jack today?” Hotch asked.

“Oh, he was just fine. He got a melancholy a few times and when some of the neighbors returned home and their car doors shut and he heard he would run to the window and come back pouting that it wasn’t you guys. I didn’t have any issues with him though so everything is just fine, I promise.”

“Good. I called to talk to you about the call that I just got from Strauss. A choice has been made on who is going to fill the spot on the team instead of having a new Unit Chief come in, we will be getting a Senior Agent in Charge to replace my spot on the team before Boston.”

“Oh, who?” Spencer was looking forward to having someone else who he could learn from. He was sure that they did some things different than Hotch, so it would be a good learning opportunity for Spencer.

“David Rossi.”

Spencer stopped still in the middle of the kitchen as he was heading to the coffee pot to get things set up for in the morning.

“Are you joking?” Spencer asked.

“No. He talked to Strauss about it yesterday it seems, but she wanted to make sure that things were squared away before bothering me. She didn’t want word to spread and have it shock me by hearing it from anyone but her. I wanted to give you the heads up just in case Morgan or Garcia heard about it. Please don’t share it. I can’t help the rest of the gossip.”

“I’m not a gossip, Hotch,” Spencer said. The tone he used a little affronted.

“I know you are not.”

“He’s the only founder of the BAU that I haven’t met yet.”

“I know. That’s the other reason that I wanted you to be prepared. I know how you got with Ryan after the case, and I wanted to make sure you didn’t get flustered this time either.”

“Thanks.” Spencer looked at the baby monitor to check that it was one. He remembered Jack now. “Hey, question. Do you stick Jack in the window seat cubby in your office?”

“I used to do that with him when it was time for his nap, but he wanted to be around me. I asked him to work the case with me. Why?”

“I was playing hide and seek with him and nearly didn’t find him. That’s where he was, and he said the word case when I opened the lid and found him.

“Ah. Yes. He does do that with me when we are playing hide and seek as well. I didn’t think that he would do it with you or I would have told you. He doesn’t do it with Haley.”

“It’s fine. I just didn’t understand it. I do now. It’s rather adorable. He loves you a lot.”

“He does. I love him just as much. So everything went fine today?”

“Yes. We had Coco Wheats for breakfast. I forgive you both for never telling me about them.”

Hotch laughed, and they spent a few minutes talking before Spencer started to get tired on his own and wanted to just lay in bed and read. He said his goodbyes and rang off with Hotch. He was looking forward to the morning and what the new day brought.

Haley laughed at Aaron as he pulled into the driveway. He was talking about a golf trip where one of the guys that had come from the CIA to play with him, Gideon, and Dave had tried to act up how good of a player he was but finished last and kept on hitting his balls into every single water hazard and sand trap on the course.

“Oh,” Aaron said.

Haley looked where he was looking to see that all of the rooms on the second floor had their lights out. They were too late to see Jack before he went to sleep.

“Oh,” Haley said, and her mood dropped down. She had been looking forward to putting Jack down to sleep. “That sucks.”

“Yeah.” Aaron put the car in park and then shut it off. They had agreed that she would get the items from the car the next day as they were both too tired for anything more than putting Jack down and then maybe taking a shower. Haley didn’t even think she had the energy for a shower.

The mood between the two of them was much more somber than it had been when Aaron had been driving them home. The house was locked up tight with the alarm set, but the living room light was on. Haley figured that Spencer had fallen asleep waiting up for them. Aaron turned around to lock the door and set the alarm again as she stepped further into the house.

Haley stopped and gasped. The sight in front of her was something that she had never seen before.

“Hales?” Aaron asked as he stepped up behind her. She could just see him reaching for a gun that wasn’t there as he did.

Spencer was asleep on the couch. One leg was thrown over the side, resting so that he didn’t roll off while his arms were wrapped around Jack who was asleep on his chest. It was one of the most adorable things in the world. Spencer was holding onto Jack like he was holding the most precious thing in the world to him. There were pillows lining the floor, just in case Jack rolled off and even the coffee table had been pushed far enough away that even if Jack made it to the pillows, he wouldn’t roll into the coffee table.

“Oh,” Aaron said. He pressed a kiss to Haley’s cheek before walking further into the living room. He took his phone out and snapped a picture of it. They were both adorable to no end. Aaron got a good shot of them from a distance, so the whole scene was in the picture and then stepped close to get one of just their faces. Jack’s looked so serene, and Spencer was calm in a way that he hadn’t been even right before they had gone on the trip.

It seemed that the vacation had been good for Spencer as well. Getting him over the fears that he had about being with Jack for longer than a few hours.

“Mama,” Jack said as he moved a little on Spencer.

Haley stepped up, going around Aaron to get Jack. Spencer’s arms were like bands around Jack’s body.

“Hey, Spencer, it’s okay,” Aaron said, and he tugged on one of Spencer’s arms, and Spencer’s arm moved out of the way and then the other.

Haley lifted up Jack, and as soon as she did, Spencer started to wake up, but Aaron calmed him down by rubbing at the top of his head, threading his fingers into his hair a little bit. Haley walked away before she said something stupid.

Jack was asleep with his head tucked into Haley’s neck before she was even halfway up the stairs, and she was glad of it.

Haley felt her heart beating a rhythm that she knew well, but it wasn’t one that should be beating for Spencer. The first time she had seen Aaron, her heart had beat like that, and it had beat like that the day that she had walked down the aisle to see him waiting at the altar for her. She needed to bury those feelings down deep inside of her because she would never do that to Aaron or to Spencer. She loved Spencer like a friend, not like a lover.

Aaron entered Jack’s bedroom a few minutes later with a smile on his face. “He woke up, and I ushered him off to bed once he was done freaking out that Jack had gotten loose and was wreaking havoc everywhere.” Aaron pulled Haley close and kissed her, rocking them back and forth in place like they were slow dancing. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and poured her love into that kiss. She didn’t need this, and neither did Aaron.

There was going to be enough time with them at work the next week and hopefully a case for Haley to get her feelings under control. There was no way that she was going to wreck their life with this. Or Spencer’s. Spencer didn’t deserve this at all. He was such a kind man, and she had gone and started to do something as resoundingly stupid as beginning to fall in love with someone else while she was married and still had a great deal of feelings for her husband.

Chapter 9

Aaron packed up his things and nodded at Erin as she talked about the meeting she had been in. It was things that he did need to know, so he made sure he was listening intently.

“What do you think?” Erin asked.

“That sounds good for the unit as a whole.” Aaron closed his briefcase and looked around the office one more time. Everything to do with the vacation that he had planned for them had been stored in the office while he had been working on it.

“I thought so as well. Having Dave back has given us a little more breathing room.”

“He’s not happy to be pushed into this so soon after coming back though,” Aaron said with a grin on his face.

Erin laughed as she stood up.

“He will live. He said something about helping Agent Morgan learn the ropes.”

“Anything to not do paperwork.”

“I’m pleased that Agent Reid is still doing well living with you.”

“He’s not in danger of relapsing,” Aaron said quickly.

“Oh, I know that. I’m not worried about that. He’s always been a little more distant from everyone on the team. I worried about how he was going to take Jason being gone.”

“It was a trial, but he had enough time to get used to it before he came back.”

“He’s done really well with everything since he’s come back. There is talk about the attachment to living with you.”

“In all fairness, I think that has to do more with Haley and I than him not wanting to leave. Haley actually really likes having him around even though he’s not there that much more than me. Jack really likes him and he’s fine with Jessica watching him when Haley and I want to go out but he prefers Spencer.”

“I seem to remember a discussion on something called the Reid Effect,” Erin said.

“Yes, well, Jack is immune to that or Spencer is not affected by it when it’s Jack. Did I show you the picture of him when Haley and I took that weekend trip to Nantucket in June?” Aaron pulled out his cell phone and found the picture he had taken of Spencer asleep on the couch with Jack on his chest. He turned the phone around so she could see.

“They both look very content there,” Erin said.

“Yes.” Aaron looked at the image one more time before he put up his phone and walked back around the desk to grab his things.

“So you are driving to Virginia Beach?”

“Yeah. It only takes about four hours, and with Spencer getting off when he does, we should just slip past rush hour traffic leaving the city. I’ve got it all planned.”

“You and your plans. One would think you were the one with the issues. Go so you can get things done around the house before leaving. Why is Doctor Reid not leaving with you?”

“It’s a surprise for him and Haley. Though Haley will know about it first as she’s home at the moment. I’ve been stealthily packing mine and Haley’s things and I just need to pack Spencer’s.”

Erin gave Aaron a weird look, but he ignored it.

“Have a good weekend trip,” Erin said before she left Aaron in his office.

Aaron did a final visual sweep of the room before he grabbed his suit jacket off the rack on the other side of the door before he stepped out.

“Hotch?” Spencer asked as he stood up, looking like he was getting ready to pack up.

“Stay. I’m going home to take care of some things. Do you want to take the train or drive?” Aaron had forgotten that step of things and should have had Spencer drive his car while he drove Haley’s SUV. It wasn’t even eleven yet. If Aaron hadn’t had to write up a lengthy report about another issue from another team and his thoughts on it, Aaron wouldn’t have come into work.


Aaron walked down the few stairs to get to the lower level and handed over the keys to Spencer.

“It’s nothing big?” Spencer asked, and he looked worried.

“No, no. I have my desk cleared. I only had a single thing to do today. If I had been thinking I would have had us driven in separate cars. Go ahead and leave anywhere between three and four though. You’ll have your work done before then I am sure.”

“I think I’ll be done at two. I was going to ask you about leaving early.

“Two is fine.” Aaron thought about leaving early and how that could be fun and not have to drive too quickly through everywhere. Aaron was going to take Haley’s SUV and get it gassed up when he got home and then pack up Spencer’s things. He could have everything ready to go by three.

“You are acting weird,” Spencer said.

“Me, weird?” Aaron asked. He gave Spencer a grin before clasping him on the shoulder and walking past.

The train ride home was different for Aaron who hadn’t taken it since the last injury that stopped him from being cleared to drive, but he could do desk work. Nothing much had changed over those years. Aaron worked on the list on his phone of things that he had been making since he had put in the time off for both him and Spencer for Monday to recover from the vacation. Spencer had no vacation time left, so Aaron had donated his time. When Spencer wanted to go and visit his mother, there were more than enough people around willing to donate time for him. So Aaron didn’t feel that bad about forcing Spencer to take a vacation. The team was not on rotation for the weekend. So it was a slim-to-none chance that the team would get called up for a case and even if they were, there were enough of them to work the case, or Dave could bring Anderson in to work it with them.

Aaron forgot how much of a hike it was from where the bus dropped off in the neighborhood and where his house was. Haley was in the front yard with Jack, and Jack had a strange thing in his hand. Haley hadn’t noticed him yet, so Aaron stopped and watch only for Jack to go running and use the thing in his hand to shove something black into a net. Aaron knew the net was from the soccer toy set that Jack had got for Christmas from a lady down the street, but the thing in Jack’s hand was not something that he knew. Aaron got closer and realized that it was a stick, a hockey stick. That had to be from Spencer.

Spencer was the only person who Aaron knew that liked hockey. That little bit of information had been a shock to Aaron. Then again it was a sport that took concentration to watch and really get, at least to Aaron it did. The Kings were Spencer’s favorite team, but he liked the Capitals nearly as much. When Spencer had been in college, he had slipped away to as many games as he could.

“Aaron?” Haley called out.

“Hello. I see that Spencer is trying to corrupt Jack.” Aaron pointed at the puck that Jack was pulling from the net to play with again. Jack turned around at Aaron’s voice and screamed “Dad” before running to Aaron as he stepped onto the grass of the yard.

“It came in the mail this morning addressed to Jack. It’s a full set with nets, but I just left the soccer nets up. I figured that one could be for the front yard and one for the back.”

“He’s going to turn him into a hockey addict.”

“Yes, Jack and Spencer told me at length about their game that they watched the other night.” Haley was smiling, and Jack let go of Aaron finally and moved back to his net. “So, Aaron Hotchner, why are you home?”

“Because I have been planning a surprise for all of us and I needed the time to get things going so that when Spencer gets off work at two and then gets home, we can head to Virginia Beach.”

“All four of us?” Haley asked.

“Yes. That way, we can do things with or without Jack, and Spencer can do the same. I’m sure that we will be able to do things alone as well.”

“So that is why I couldn’t find the swimsuit I bought last summer to go to the pool today.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but I was stealth packing.”

“And where are these suitcases?”

“In the guest room closest. The one that’s empty.”

“I see. And why are we going on a vacation?”

“Because I wanted to go on one again and to celebrate you passing the classes for realtor and getting a job.” Aaron walked over and helped Haley stand up before he kissed her soundly on the lips. “If you want, I think that we have time for a little afternoon delight if we drop Jack down in his room with some toys and the door shut.”

“Aaron Hotchner!” Haley exclaimed before she slapped him lightly on the shoulder. “We are not some boss and secretary slipping away to a motel.”

“So? It spices up life, and it’s not like we are going to be able to do anything during the weekend. This is our last chance unless we talk Spencer into taking Jack away for a few hours.”

“You take care of Jack, and I’ll go upstairs and get his toys ready for him.”

Aaron looked into the rearview mirror at the back of Jack’s car seat. Spencer was reading to him. Well, Spencer was reciting a book to him. Aaron had no clue what the book was. He had found out that Spencer had read all of the books that were age appropriate to Jack, so he had gone to the library and read nearly the entire children’s section a month ago. It really shouldn’t have shocked him, but it did.

“What are you telling to Jack?” Aaron asked.

Spencer looked up at Aaron, pausing in his reciting. He was looking perfectly at Aaron in the mirror.

“From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” Spencer said.

“Ah, I don’t think I remember that one.”

“It was published in sixty-seven, so I’m not shocked. I don’t think that it caught on as big until you were too old, for the book that is.” Spencer turned his head back to look at Jack when Jack started to demand his attention.

Aaron understood wholly why Jack liked Spencer. When Spencer was focused on him, his whole attention was on him. He wasn’t half-interested like Aaron saw a lot of parents being. Aaron did his best, but he knew that with his job, he was more distracted when he was home than he should be. Things had calmed down since Dave had come back in June, and it was now August, and things were feeling like they were finally coming together for the team.

It was hard not to be a little jealous of the attention that Spencer gave Jack. Aaron just wasn’t sure if it was that he wanted Spencer’s attention or he wanted Jack’s. Aaron pushed that from his mind because it wasn’t something that he wanted to dwell on.

“So are we stopping for dinner soon or when we get there?” Haley asked.

“I thought we would stop at the next place that seemed interesting.” Aaron looked at Spencer in the mirror again, but he was focused on Jack. Aaron was pretty sure that Spencer hadn’t even heard him at all.

“What about the little barbecue place that we ate the one time?” Haley asked.

“Is that why you asked?” Aaron asked her.

Haley nodded her head.

“Sure. I’ll get off at the exit.” Aaron looked at the next mile marker to gauge how long it was until the exit that they needed. The barbecue joint had been in business for a long time. Back when the weekends were spent doing anything that they wanted and trips three hours away for dinner were not that insane to them. Haley and Aaron had driven that far to get barbecue at least once a year when they weren’t headed to the beach.

The restaurant ended up being the next exit, and so Aaron turned off. That simple act had Spencer looking up and trying to figure out if they were there early or he was just imagining things. Aaron recognized the look on his face as pure confusion.

“It’s dinner time,” Aaron said.

“Oh, I thought we were eating at the beach?” Spencer asked. He didn’t look upset which Aaron was glad of. He had a good dinner planned for the four of them at a nice place on Saturday night.

Aaron had already made reservations for them, and they had an area that was more kid-friendly. It was walking distance from the hotel so all of them could drink a little if they wanted. Aaron was just looking forward to a good weekend.

“What are we eating?” Spencer leaned forward in his seat to where Aaron could see him out of the corner of his eye.

“Barbecue,” Haley said with a smile on her face.

“Oh.” Spencer crinkled his nose a little bit.

Aaron knew that regional things were still something that Spencer had issues with. Aaron knew that the place had burgers, though, and Spencer was always happy with those.

“Waffle fries,” Aaron said as he pulled into a spot in the parking lot.

“Oh!” Spencer started to smile as he unbuckled when the engine was cut off. “Hungry Jack?” Spencer asked as he turned to look at Jack.

Aaron was the first out of the car, and he walked to the trunk so he could grab the cloth to slip into the seat with Jack so that he wouldn’t be touching anything that wasn’t clean. He was in a tactile phase and loved to put his hands in his mouth. Haley met him back there with her purse over her shoulder.

“You know if I knew that he wasn’t that keen on having a kid at the moment, I would swear he’s going to make off with Jack.”

“He’s never been around babies or kids really, and when he was one, I don’t think that he was fully allowed to be one with his genius intellect. He’s enjoying the simple pleasures of having the undivided attention of a child that likes him,” Aaron said. He shut the trunk hatch and saw that Spencer was standing at the menu that was outside of the door, reading off everything to Jack.

Haley walked over to them and slipped her arm into Spencer’s unoccupied one. Aaron watched them with a smile on his face. The simple pleasures of life like this were something that Aaron cherished.

“Your son is wonderful with his son,” a lady said from the car next to them.

“Excuse me?” Aaron asked as he turned to look at her. He wasn’t sure that he had heard her right. The lady smiled at in indulgently.

“I said that your son is wonderful with his son.”

“Oh, no. That toddler is my son. Spencer is just a good family friend who helps us watch him.”

“Oh.” The woman gave Aaron a slightly sour look that Aaron couldn’t figure out. He wasn’t able to ask as the woman rolled up her window and the other person in the car driving pulled them out of the spot they had backed into. Aaron really had no clue what the hell that woman was so upset about with Aaron taking a friend out to dinner. It wasn’t like they could know if they were locals or not.

Aaron pushed those thoughts from his mind and headed into the restaurant to find where his family had gone to.

Spencer rolled over in bed and listened to the sounds of the waves on the beach. It was not a sound that he was used to hearing at all, and it had made it hard for him to fall asleep the night before. Still, it had been a fun evening. Even the car ride wasn’t that bad. Jack had started to get restless about halfway through, so Spencer had begun to read to him. It had been an enjoyable dinner with Spencer not having eaten a lot of the food that was on the menu before outside of barbecue pulled pork. Still, it was a good dinner. Jack loved how messy the food was on his hands but thankfully had not got it all over his person or anyone else.

The food had been good, and Spencer had ended up getting the sampler platter that came with a small portion of every single smoked meat that they offered as well two sides. Spencer had ended up with two orders of waffle fries. He had enjoyed most of it, and the basket of sauces allowed him to try all of them. The brisket had been his favorite. He now knew other things he could try at restaurants in the DC area that he had never tried because he had no clue if he liked it or not, so he had never got it. The pulled pork was about the only thing that his mother ate that was on the menu from the place the night before, so Spencer had just always got what she did. Trying new foods at picnics or gatherings like that was one thing but paying for a meal that he would end up not eating because he didn’t like it was another thing. It was a horrible conundrum because he didn’t mind doing it for Japanese or even Thai food. Still, what could be considered American, he couldn’t do it.

Spencer forced himself up and to walk over to the door to the balcony that was attached to his room. Hotch had got them a two-bedroom suite with a huge room that connected them. It wasn’t quite dawn yet, and Spencer knew there was no going back to sleep for him. He was ready to go on a run and then shove some food into his mouth. He had no clue if Hotch was going to go on a run. He was probably enjoying being far enough away from home that they could not be called back. Spencer wasn’t sure if he was enjoying that yet or not. Hotch had been thoughtful to make it a surprise, but Spencer still a bit uneasy about the whole Hotch packing for him thing. Spencer hadn’t delved too deep into his suitcases that had been packed, he had grabbed his night clothes from the top and changed then dropped into bed.

His suitcases were on the desk in the corner of the room. Spencer opened up the first to find that it was full of just regular clothes of Spencer’s as well as his swimming clothes. Spencer frowned because he saw no underwear. Grabbing the other suitcase, Spencer pulled it close. He opened it and found that it held his socks, underwear, and three different pairs of shoes in bags, as well as what looked like sandals that he knew he did not own. It was laid out much the way that Spencer would lay it out if he had been the one to pack, which said a lot about how much Hotch actually paid attention to him.

Spencer wasn’t sure that he wanted to know how close Hotch was paying attention. Spencer rubbed at his stomach, calming it down from the minor freak out that he was trying to get under control. He had no clue if this was something that Hotch had just picked up from seeing Spencer’s go-bag on cases, or he just understood Spencer that way. It was kind of horrible how much Hotch got him when no one else in his life ever had. William Reid had certainly never attempted to understand his son. Spencer wanted to say that it was the reason why he had been so easy to discard from his life. Still, Spencer knew that even if he had been the perfect son who loved football or baseball and played it perfectly, his father still would have left him behind.

Grabbing what he wanted, Spencer got into the bathroom to get a quick shower before setting off to do his morning run. Even when it was colder out, Spencer found that he still liked running. It was an excellent way to start the day that had just never been something he wanted to do. Spencer figured a lot of that had to do with his father pushing him one way and his mother the other. He had never been good at gym activities, but then he had never played like the other kids when he had been growing up.

Spencer got dressed as quickly as he could after toweling his hair as dry as he could get it before slipping it into a hair tie to keep it off of his neck. He hadn’t showered the night before as seeing everything around the town had worn him out. It had been something interesting to see Virginia Beach when they weren’t there on a case.

“You are kidding, right?” Spencer heard Haley ask from somewhere on the other side of the door.

Spencer was kind of shocked that she was awake. He could hear Aaron reply.

“No. I’m really not. That first year on the team, I talked to him about it when Jason brought it up. His family didn’t do vacations. He never understood why Jason and I were wanting to get him to go someplace that wasn’t where he lived, even for a weekend.”

“I know that his mother loves him, but I just want to slap his father in the face, repeatedly, with a brick.”

“I’ll see if I can’t get him talking while we run this morning. If he ever wakes up. See what he wants to do today.”

“I heard his little babble about beaches a few weeks back.”

Hotch laughed, and then there was less talking and sounds of something more intimate. Spencer felt that little weird feeling in his gut come back. He had no clue what it was, but he wasn’t sure that he liked it. He felt nauseous but also something else that he couldn’t figure out. That was the part he didn’t like, the not knowing.

Spencer made a show of opening up the door to his room and walking out, making sure that he was heard.

“Good morning, Spencer,” Haley said. She was sitting on the counter with a cup of coffee in hand. The kitchen area was small in the suite, but there was a stove, microwave, and a coffee pot. Spencer wasn’t all that sure about the coffee that the hotel provided, though. Even if this place was a higher class than Spencer was used to staying in with cases, that didn’t mean they bought good coffee.

“Good morning, Haley, Hotch.”

“Ah!” Hotch said as he turned around from whatever he was doing at the counter in front of where Haley was. He pointed a finger at Spencer and gave him a fond glare.

“Aaron,” Spencer corrected. The word felt strange on Spencer’s tongue. The only time he had ever used Aaron in conjunction with Hotch was when he was introducing him to someone and giving his full name and title.

“Good morning, Spencer. There is a place just two blocks away that does a good breakfast all you can eat bar. I thought we could run and then meet Haley and Jack there.”

“Oh.” Spencer looked down at his running clothes. While he had upgraded to form fitting things, it wasn’t something that someone wore to eat breakfast at a restaurant. “Um…we can’t stop here and change?”

“It’ll be fine. There will be people in bathing suits with a pair of shorts on. We won’t stand out.” Hotch didn’t seem too worried.

Spencer looked at Hotch, who had turned back to the counter, then he looked at Haley. Haley was giving him a smile, and she picked up a T-shirt from the counter and waved it at him. Spencer nodded his head in thanks. Haley gave him a grin.

“Coffee is ready,” Hotch said.

Spencer walked around the island counter that Haley was sitting on and looked to see that Hotch had been fixing up two cups of coffee. He could drink it and then get good coffee when they were heading to breakfast. Spencer took a sniff of the coffee, which made Hotch smile.

“I threw the coffee from the hotel away. It’s not like they would keep it anyway given it has holes to let the air out. It’s the coffee from home. I brought a bag of it with us. I hate the brand this hotel stocks, so I make sure to bring it. Everything else I love.”

“You guys come here often?”

“Before Aaron became the second in the BAU, we used to come out every single weekend that he wasn’t on call. We moved around from hotel to hotel before we found this one and have been pretty pleased with it. Except for the coffee.” Haley looked at Hotch when she was done speaking and gave him a smile.

Spencer didn’t know what to say to that. This should have been another weekend with him watching Jack at home or them coming with Jack. This seemed like a family thing, and as much as he was close to them. They were not family. They were not anywhere close to that kind of family, at least. Garcia and to an extent JJ looked at the team as a family, but with all of the changes and all of the issues lately, it was hard for Spencer to see them as family. It was another stumbling block that he had been talking to Doctor Freya about. To the rest of the team, family was something that helped you when you were weak, sheltered you when you needed it. To Spencer, family was just another person who let you down.

“You had better get going if you want to be out there and back before Jack gets too hungry. I will go eat without you two, Aaron Hotchner.”

Hotch stuck his tongue out at Haley, and Spencer looked away before he turned to look at the rising sun to give them a few moments of privacy before they headed out. The coffee was perfect, but that didn’t surprise Spencer at all. Hotch had been making it perfect for him for a while. The suitcase part bothered him but not as much at how freaked out he wasn’t about the whole Hotch packing for him.

Normally, he would balk at someone touching his things, especially his underwear, even if he knew that Hotch wasn’t doing anything untoward with them. It wasn’t like Hotch was someone who would take the underwear and jerk off with them or put them on a shrine or something like that. Hotch wasn’t a deviant in any way, shape, or form. However, handling private items was something that was saved for more intimate friendships or just for lovers in Spencer’s mind. It wasn’t horrible and crass, but it was something strange.

The run was simple, and the boardwalks that spanned the city made it easy for them to run without worrying about traffic. There was even a stretch back to the restaurant where they were running in the sand. The restaurant was full of people, but Haley had a table that was all set up in the corner just far enough away from where food was that it wasn’t too noisy. Spencer did notice that there were a lot of people in shorts and a bathing suit top if female or had a pair of swim trunks and a T-shirt if they were male. Still, he pulled the T-shirt on that Haley had for him and was glad for it.

The table was already full of a carafe of coffee and a glass of orange juice each. Jack had a glass of milk in front of him with a lid on it and a straw.

“Pen!” Jack thundered. He pointed at the spot beside him, where Hotch was getting ready to sit.

Hotch stood up again and waved for Spencer to sit down.

“No.” Spencer shook his head and started to sit down in the chair on the far side of the table. There was enough room for Jack, Haley, and Hotch on that side of the table.

“You are seriously going to deny him being able to sit beside you?” Haley asked.

“It’s…” Spencer trailed off and waved his hand. He really didn’t want to say it out loud.

“It’s family time?” Hotch asked.

Spencer nodded.

“Well, you are our family. We don’t just let people who aren’t family live with us, Spencer. So you come over here and sit your ass down and shut up.” Haley pointed, and she looked serious.

Spencer walked around the table and took that spot. He was shocked when Hotch sat across from him instead of Haley. Spencer wasn’t sure what he felt about it. Everything was just damned weird.

“You understand that you are family, right?” Hotch asked.

Spencer shook his head. He felt hands on his and looked up at Hotch. Hotch gave him a big smile.

“I don’t do well with family. I don’t have a lot of good practice.”

“Neither do I. I made my family with Haley because mine sucked. I would rather have a family that I created myself than to live with the one that I was born into. Haley and I think you are family Spencer, so we understand if you are a little hesitant about it all. We understand your circumstances more than you would think.”

“I-” Spencer swallowed thickly and sighed before he lifted up his coffee and took a drink. Haley had made it perfectly. “I think I like being in your family.”

“Good,” Hotch and Haley said at the same time.

Spencer eyed the beach that was in front of him. Haley was beside him with a book in her hand under the umbrella. Spencer had brought a book with him, it was a large tome that would keep him busy for a while. Yet he hadn’t picked it up. He was looking at everyone who was out on the beach. He had been coated in the strongest sunblock, and as long as he stayed out of the water, it would last another hour and a half. It was afternoon, and Spencer was enjoying the heat of the sun on him, so he wasn’t under the umbrella with Haley.

“Go join them,” Haley said. She didn’t even look up from her book.

“No, thank you.”

Haley just laughed and laid back before she rolled over to spread the book down on the ground. She had a bottle of water beside her. Spencer reached out for his bottle of water and sighed again. He knew that people went to the beach all the time and yet he just couldn’t do it. He had heard the jokes about him being a germaphobe, but it wasn’t that. He didn’t like being on display. He didn’t like touching people, and he hated them touching him. Yet it wasn’t that way with Haley and with Aaron. He couldn’t think of him as anything other than that anymore, not with the declaration that had been made breakfast.

Spencer had never been part of a family, at least not one like Aaron and Haley were. He didn’t know what he needed to do differently now that he was family. He tried to figure out when they thought he was family, and the only point he could think about was when they wanted him to stay living with him. That had to be when. It was the only point that made sense.

“Pen!” Jack screamed as he ran up the beach. He jumped onto Spencer’s lap soaking wet and smelling of the sea. Spencer wrapped his arms around Jack to make sure that the boy didn’t keep jumping in his lap. “Swim!”

“No, no. You go and swim with your dad.” Spencer started to push Jack down toward the water after setting him down. Spencer got to his knees, kneeling in front of Jack.

“Pen, come!” Jack demanded. He started to pout. The pout of his was deadly, second only to the one that Aaron could put out.

“Jack,” Spencer said, but he slumped down.

Jack knew that he had won, so he grabbed Spencer’s hand and tugged on it. Spencer followed the tug, but still, Jack didn’t stop tugging on him until he was in the water. The water was warm, and Spencer liked the warmth that it gave him inside even after just a few seconds. Aaron was right there, taking control of Jack. The boy had water wings on that stopped him from sinking below the water, but given how far out he and Aaron had been playing, Spencer wasn’t shocked by the fact that Aaron grabbed him.

“That didn’t take long at all,” Aaron said.

“The Hotchner Pout is just as horrible as the Hotchner Glare. Both get even strong men to do things they don’t want to do.”

Jack wiggled free of Aaron’s hold and slowly paddled toward Spencer. Spencer wasn’t sure about holding him and still staying on his feet, but he found that it was just shallow enough for him to get his feet under him. He didn’t have to stand on his tip toes at all, either. He felt so scared right then. This was something different than being at home with Jack and watching him. One false step, and Jack would be dead.

“You know, I had a look like that on my face the first time that I held Jack,” Aaron said.

“It’s scary, knowing that one false step and you could harm a child like Jack. He’s…fragile like this in a way that I’ve never thought of him before.”

Jack giggled and kicked his feet. It made the water splash around them. Spencer turned Jack around and let Jack splash his dad. They played, and they had fun, Jack taking turns with both of them. Every little bit, they would swap who was holding Jack and playing, and the other would get a bottle of water to share between them or just float there. At one point, Aaron floated while Jack sat on him like one would a surfboard. It was an adorable picture in Spencer’s mind. It was the kind of picture that if JJ or Garcia saw it, they would make a comment about their ovaries exploding. Spencer didn’t have those organs, and the only organ of his that ever exploded had nothing to do with images like this.

Aaron rolled over after a while, letting Jack fall into the water. The boy came up, screeching in happiness. He was paddling to Spencer and kind of jumped in the water some. Spencer looked at Aaron as he picked up Jack.

“He wants to be tossed.”

“Tossed?” Spencer asked. He was no parent, but he was pretty sure that one did not toss a child.

“Here. I’ll show you. Just turn him around and toss him at me.”

Spencer eyed Aaron, but he did as he asked, giving Jack enough lift to where he made it into Aaron’s hands. Aaron, though, let him down to where the lower half of his body went into the water. Jack was laughing his head off.

“Again, Daddy!”

“Sure, buddy. Now be good and be still for Spencer. He’s new at this, and he won’t do it if you make him drop you.”

Spencer glared at Aaron. He braced himself for Aaron’s gentle lobbing of Jack over to him. Spencer caught Jack, and the boy did stay still until Spencer had hold of him. Spencer carefully lowered Jack into the water so he could kick around and then turned him to toss back at his father. It was several more times of back and forth before Jack lunged forward to wrap his arms around Spencer’s neck.

“Nap, Pen, nap.”

“Sure, buddy, that sounds good.” Spencer waited to make sure that Aaron agreed with him, taking Jack to shore. The man nodded, but the look on his face said that Spencer wasn’t going to be allowed to be gone for long. Aaron was all about exposure therapy for Spencer and the things that he didn’t think he would like. It was never forceful, but it was geared toward expanding Spencer’s horizons. If he said no, Aaron left him alone, at least.

Spencer tipped his head forward, so the water beat him on the shoulders. After a day of swimming on and off between breakfast and dinner, he was tired but not enough to where he knew that he could sleep. He had an itch, and it wasn’t until he looked down that he fully realized what it was. Self pleasure was not something that he did often. The only time he had watched porn, it had made him uncomfortable and edgy, and he had never looked back. When he was a teenager and hormones had been raging through his body, he had jerked off enough to make sure his cock didn’t get hard at weird moments.

Teenage years at Caltech had been something that was a mix of horrible and awkward at best. In the classroom, Spencer had been at his best. He was good with learning, good with working. Even his kind of genius still had to have work put into homework. He didn’t have three thousand word essays pop into his head, fully formed and perfect. Puberty had been a minefield of things for Spencer. While other kids that were his age in high school were popping erections left and right while looking at scantily clad women, Spencer had looked at them and felt nothing. The summer of his fifteenth year, he had gone to a pool to watch kids swim and test a few things. He had not got an erection at seeing either females or males in practically no clothing.

Spencer had actually figured out not long after that not being attracted to either sex didn’t make him defunct. Caltech had a psychology course that had covered sexuality and the scale of it, including asexual. Yet, the professor had also cautioned that sexuality could change for someone as they got older, as life threw them curveballs. Like the man, she had grown up with dating women all the time, but it wasn’t until he met a guy that he found the perfect person for him, and then the sex of that man hadn’t mattered. He still found women arousing, but his partner was just as arousing and only him on the male side of things.

Grabbing the bottle of conditioner from the shelf he had set it up on from his suitcase, Spencer coated his hand and started to stroke his cock. He thought about all the things that were planned for Sunday before they were to drive home. They were getting in late and had Monday off as well so they could relax after a weekend filled with fun.

The act of masturbation was something that Spencer was well used to. Sex had been unfulfilling the few times that he had it, so he had never had it again with another person. There was no reason to make an act like that something that he hated by forcing himself to do it to seem like the rest of society. He still didn’t feel that the asexual label fit him as he thought a few times he felt desire for someone, but it was fleeting. He imagined hands on him, running on his back before wrapping around to tweak nipples. He did that with his free hand to help with the fantasy. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it just fell flat, and he ended up just jerking off while reciting a book in his head. Spencer groaned, biting his lip, so the sound didn’t carry as he let his fantasy carry him. Hands on him were always good. Before Aaron and Haley, he would have said that he didn’t like being touched by anyone, but it was more that he didn’t like people he wasn’t close to touching him. It was strange as hell for random people to pat him on the back. Even Morgan’s touch was more offensive the first year on the team. It had been strange, but he had got used to Morgan quickly.

Sinking deeper, Spencer imagined hands on his thighs and someone touching his balls. He cupped his balls quickly before going back to stroking his cock. Moaning too loudly, Spencer realized that he was near feeling the hands on his thighs, but the ones on his back were still there, and then a body replaced it. He came quickly, his fantasy falling away as slick pleasure rocked his body. Pushing himself up to feel the water on his face, Spencer thought about what his mind had conjured. He had never even thought about a relationship with two people or even a sexual encounter with two. He had no issue understanding not getting what you needed from a single person but loving them anyway. He could even understand open relationships; it had just never been something that he had thought about for himself. Either one of them.

Getting out of the shower, Spencer started to dry off so he could join the others for dinner. Haley had showered first and went out to get it, and while Spencer knew that he probably wasn’t late, he wanted to get going. Aaron had showered with Haley but had stayed in. Spencer had only got into the shower when he heard the shower in the other room shut off, so Jack wasn’t alone for long. Spencer had already laid out a T-shirt and an older pair of jeans to wear when he got out of the shower, so it wasn’t long for him to get dressed, his hair doing what it wanted. He tamed it some, but it was going to get messed up when he slept, so he didn’t care too much about that.

Spencer exited his room in the suite to see that Haley was just getting back in, and she had four bags of food. He rushed over to help her with the door since Aaron had Jack in his arms at the sink washing his hand to get ready for dinner.

“Hungry?” Haley asked.

“Yes, but that looks like it’s enough to feed the team.”

“Oh, no. Two of the bags are sushi.”

“Oh.” Spencer was happy about that. He loved sushi and found a lover of it in Haley as well. Aaron liked it well enough and would rather eat it than other Asian dishes.

Spencer helped Haley get it all out of the bags while Aaron settled Jack in at the booster seat that was on a chair on the island in the kitchen area so that he could eat as well. A slice of the sweet potato roll was handed over to Jack after Aaron cut it into two pieces. Jack ate one half and started to chew, making happy noises as he did. This was the kind of thing that screamed family to him, and he loved it.

Haley looked down at the surf to see Aaron holding onto Jack while giving him a swimming lesson. Spencer was down there watching as well, and Haley had to wonder when Spencer had learned to swim as it didn’t seem like he liked to do it. She wondered if it was before he had decided to join the FBI or after it. There was even before the Academy or while he was in there. She wasn’t going to ask, but it was an interesting little fact to find out. Not being able to swim would put a mark on him at the Academy, but not one that wasn’t hard to overcome. She figured that he knew the mechanics of it, it was just putting it all into place.

Training for her new job started the next day. It was things that were specific to the agency where she had ended up. Karen Garrett’s office had given her the most flexibility for her life that she wanted. It was still enough work to make it feel like a real job.

A kid ran screaming down the sand to join a parent in the water just about ten feet away from where Aaron and Spencer were with Jack. Spencer’s head never stopped moving, checking anything and everything around them as they taught Jack to swim. The boy was taking to it well. Haley had never taken to swimming well until she was a teenager. Her body just hadn’t done well. She learned to swim but hated to do it. Then she had turned into a teenager and swimming came easily. Especially fun evenings in the river with other friends. Water had become a part of her life. She and Aaron had a membership to a local gym that had a pool. Aaron used it more, but then he did his swimming for exercise at least once a week, or he used to. Haley wondered if that was another step in getting Spencer Reid out of his shell, having him join up and then go.

Spencer was attracting several eyes of men and women on the beach, the women a little more, especially when he was playing with Jack. Haley was pretty sure that if he was left alone for any period of time, he was going to get hit on. Haley knew that Spencer didn’t like that kind of thing, so she would make sure that she or Aaron was around him all of the time. It was not fun for him to be freaked out. Haley was pretty sure that they would not get him out of the hotel room for the rest of the day if he were hit on while wearing just a pair of swim trunks.

The day before had been enjoyable, seeing Spencer come out of his shell. Still, the look on his face when Aaron had mentioned tossing Jack back and forth had been priceless. It was a game that Haley’s uncles used to do with her, and she had taught Aaron all about it when Jack was old enough for it. Aaron had been a little unsure, but he had never looked at Haley like Spencer had Aaron. Haley had nearly laughed her ass off while watching them. She hadn’t heard what was being said, but given what had happened after, Jack being tossed, she knew what they had been talking about.

Spencer started toward the blanket, probably to put on more sunblock after drying off and sitting while it had time to set in. He was tanner than he had been, but she could understand not wanting to burn at all. Aaron’s skin was long past that with his running as during summer, he usually ran without a shirt but had been doing it because of Spencer. Things between the three of them had been slowly changing, and Haley wasn’t all that sure what it meant. She really wanted things to stay the same, the way that they had been when Haley didn’t get that funny feeling in her gut when Spencer smiled at her.

The horrible thing was that she still got the same feeling in her gut when Aaron smiled at her. It was strange, and she didn’t like it at all. Someone was not supposed to start to develop feelings for another person while still loving their husband. She didn’t know what to do, so, for now, she was going about things like nothing had changed. Nothing was different at all. She just wanted things to be normal, and she really hoped that they stayed that way.

“He’s going to kill me,” Spencer said.

Haley laughed and tossed him his towel before grabbing the bottle of sunblock. “What for?”

“No, not for me doing anything just in general. He’s going to make me swim until he kills me. For a boy who doesn’t have a pool at home, he loves the water.”

“Ah,” Haley said as she finally got that Spencer was talking about Jack killing him with his energy and not Aaron killing him for doing something. “Well, I was thinking about asking for a pool to be installed.”

“Above or in-ground?”

“I don’t know. I think in-ground might be better or one of the above that never needs to be taken down.”

“An in-ground could have a much deeper deep end and even have a smaller section for an endless pool so that Aaron doesn’t have to go to the gym to swim.”

“Meaning he won’t force you?”

“That’s a very small part of it.” Spencer was smiling where he was laying with his upper body under the umbrella, looking at Haley with his wet hair half plastered onto his face. He had moved it enough to uncover his eyes, but that was about it.

Haley reached over and plucked all of the hair from his face. “Well, I’m sure he’ll like it anyway. So how about you dry off and I’ll get your back with sunblock while you get your front so you can get out there quicker. Jack’s already eyeing you.”

“He’s a task master, I can tell you that.” Spencer sat up and used the towel to dry his hair some first, so it didn’t drip down him, and then he dried off his upper body enough. He turned to give Haley his back.

Haley knew that this wasn’t just some lark on his part. When he had been injured with a small knife wound on a case in the middle of June, he had only allowed Aaron to care for it. It was on his upper back, and he couldn’t clean it and apply an antibiotic cream to it, or even bandage it at all. The one time that Haley had offered, Spencer had told her that he would wait for Aaron to get back from the store. That he was allowing this and in public was something that Haley felt was great. She saw the few looks that she got from a few people who looked to be a little jealous, but she didn’t care.

“Are you okay?” Haley asked when she realized that Spencer had stopped putting the sunblock on himself.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. That just felt kind of good. I’ve never gotten a massage or anything like that, and it’s been years since anyone has helped me put on sunblock.”

“Ah.” Haley finished up her bit before she wiped her hands on the small towel that had been brought down for just that. Spencer got up, and Haley was about to call him back when she saw that Aaron and Jack were playing in the sand just at the edge of the surf. Spencer dropped down beside them, and Jack hugged him, getting sand everywhere. It was an adorable image.

They only had the morning to swim, so the males were going to make the best of it, it seemed. Haley wasn’t ready to get into the water yet. She would be more than glad to join them in a little bit. She had swum a lot the day before, and while she enjoyed it, she was more than happy to just relax on the beach and read a book. Aaron looked up at her after a few minutes and smiled at her. He looked content in a way that he had not for a long time, and Haley knew that part of it was Haley and her, not railing against him anymore, but there was a part of it that was Spencer.

Spencer had changed their lives in all the good ways. Him living with them allowed them both to be happy with what they had and how they were able to be themselves while relying on someone who didn’t care that they were watching Jack. Spencer was content to stay at home, and Jack was content to play with his toys most of the time and leave Spencer to do what he wanted. Still, the few times that Haley was working around the house and Spencer was entertaining Jack now that he was older, it was never a hardship for Spencer to stop what he was doing and go and play with Jack.

Haley just wished that what she was feeling for Spencer was closer to what one would feel for a brother than a lover. It would make this life so much better. For a few hours, she watched as Aaron, Spencer, and Jack moved from playing in the sand to in the water and back and forth when Jack got too tired in the water.

“Aaron, I’m going to head up and shower before we pack up and go to lunch.”

Aaron had snagged them a late checkout. However, they were still going to pack up the SUV and leave it in the lot while they walked to lunch and then did their shopping for gifts for people and saltwater taffy to take home for everyone to enjoy.

“Okay, Hales,” Aaron said. He picked up Jack and said something to the boy that wasn’t loud enough for her to hear.

“Bye, Mommy. See you soon!” Jack called out.

Haley blew Jack a kiss, and the boy play caught it. He laughed a little and wiggled to be let go so he could get back to the sandcastle that they were building. Haley mimed pictures, and Aaron nodded his head. His phone was there on the blanket, and she was going to leave all of that, but she did want a picture of Jack and his masterpiece as soon as he was done with it.

The walk to the hotel was short, and the ride in the elevator to the floor they were on even shorter. Haley was feeling a little off, and she wasn’t sure what it was. She was tired, but then Aaron had been more than happy to wear her out the night before. They had just made sure that Spencer and Jack were both asleep. So far, they had been good and tried to only have loud sex if Spencer wasn’t around. Spencer hadn’t stopped blushing for days when he saw any affection between Haley and Aaron.

Haley went to the bathroom in their room to gather up everything in there that she didn’t need to take a shower with and packed them up before she stripped to get into the shower. It wasn’t long before she felt in her body why she was off, and a check before she was done in the shower confirmed it. She had started her period. It was nearly a week late, so she had been hoping, in the back of her mind, that she and Aaron had made another baby. Haley wrapped her hand around her belly and let the waterfall down on top of her. She wasn’t even sure if she was crying or not. It wasn’t the end of the world. She was young enough to have at least one more, she hoped.

Putting on a good face, Haley looked at herself in the mirror as she worked on conditioning her hair after a lot of trips into saltwater. She was nearly done when she heard the arrival of her boys back to the hotel. Jack was talking about being hungry, in a thunderous voice, so she figured that it was something the guys had talked him into doing. They were going to shower when they got home, but the salt on her skin was never good as it dried her out too much.

“Help me pack, and we can eat,” Haley called out. She knew she would already find all three of them helping to get things out of the rooms into the main room before a sweep was made to make sure nothing was left behind. Spencer had packed up after he had got out of the shower after his and Aaron’s run that morning, and he had even talked Jack into helping him pack up his toys. Haley rubbed at the single tear that was trying to get out of her eyes and then smiled. She knew that a little time with Jack would do her some good. It was going to be great for the rest of the day, she was going to make sure of it.


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

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