Title: The Beach House
Series: Fluff-Bingo, Romancing Aaron Hotchner
Series Order: 1, 5
Prompt: Walk on the Beach
Fandom: Criminal Minds, NCIS
Category: Romance, Fluff, family
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Tony DiNozzo
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Tony DiNozzo, Jack Hotchner, Jessica Brooks
Summary: Aaron opened up the Beach House for the first time in years. He wanted to share it again with someone who was more than an important part of his life.
Warnings: Minor Angst
Tags: Fluffy goodness, Lots of kissing, family
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Aaron stood at the large bay window, drinking a fresh cup of just brewed coffee and taking in the cold overcast morning. He had gotten up early wanting to enjoy the early hours until the rest of the occupants of the beach house woke up and got ready for the day. Smiling to himself, he grabbed his tablet that had been charging overnight and decided to go out on the deck that stretched out behind the house to the edge of the private beach. The house had been built by Aaron’s grandparents, Annabelle, and Werner Hotchner. They had emigrated from Germany and landed in Virginia not long after they had gotten married. Werner built the house soon after he and Annabelle had opened up the butcher shop that became popular in town. A couple of years later, Annabelle, showing a head for business herself, decided to open a women’s pret-a-porter shop. The first of its kind in the town of Cape Charles. Afterward came other shops and soon the couple had a small empire, but they were good people that treated their employees well and pair fair wages for the time. Annabelle employed many of the young women in and around the growing town. The couple was well loved by everyone.
Aaron had learned the history of his Grandparents at Annabelle Hotchner’s knees. The couple had often been a refuge to him as he grew up. Werner might have been a standoffish man, but he was neither cruel nor abusive. Their other children had not shown signs of being abusive, only Malcolm. Werner had felt guilty and thought he failed as a father by how Malcolm had treated his son.
When it came to Aaron and Sean, the brothers were shown love and affection by the Grandparents in spades to try to make up for the failings of the boys’ parents. Even though Sean didn’t suffer at Malcolm’s hands like Aaron had. The boys were not treated differently by their Grandparents and often fought with Malcolm on how he was raising the boys. When Annabell and Werner passed away, a year apart from each other, Aaron was devastated. Then his father was gone a year later, but Aaron was in Military School by that time, and he learned the value of self-reliance.
Aaron was thinking about all of the history in the house and the changes each generation made as they took over. Malcolm had put in the large deck in order to entertain and make a name for himself in Virginia society. The Hotchner summer parties were legendary in and around Cape Charles.
The wrap around porch, Aaron had put in and updated when he took the house over, even going so far as to buy his brother’s half. Sean didn’t want anything to do with the house, he only wanted the money for what Aaron thought was culinary school.
There were many years Aaron had been happy coming here either with friends, other family members, or with his wife, Haley. Then, later, Haley and Jack. After finding out the depth of her cheating and the subsequent divorce, Aaron closed the house up but paid a bi-monthly cleaning service to keep it in good shape. Now, as Aaron settled back on the comfortable Adirondack chair, his thick jean-clad legs curled under him, and wrapped in a warm, thick cable knit sweater jacket, Aaron was happy here once again. Shiny, the almost one-year-old golden retriever, bounded over and jumped up to curl up at Aaron’s feet at the end of the chair
The light breeze blew his hair into his face, and Aaron closed his eyes, taking in the smell and feel of the ocean, which was just steps away from the house. Turning on his tablet, Aaron began to read one of his beloved spy novels and enjoyed the quiet morning.
Two hours later, the object of Aaron’s happiness slipped onto his lap, took his face in their hands, and kissed him until Aaron could no longer think. Tony DiNozzo had been a surprise to Aaron when they first met. Aaron had not been ready for a relationship right away, but Tony didn’t let that deter him. The man was a force and Aaron had little choice but to fall head over heels in love with him.
“Morning,” Tony pulled back and grabbed Aaron’s tablet out of his hands, setting it down on the side table next to Aaron’s coffee. Aaron smiled and wrapped his arms around Tony.
“I woke up, and you weren’t there.” Aaron laughed as Tony pushed his bottom lip out, giving him a pouty look.
“I just needed some time. It’s quiet right now and felt good.”
“I can’t believe how beautiful this place is. Thank you for sharing it with me.” Tony turned around on Aaron’s lap so that he was lying with his back against Aaron’s chest. He was dressed similarly in a big comfortable knit sweater on and warm flannel trousers. Aaron wrapped his arms around Tony and held him close.
“It’s the first time since Haley that I’ve wanted to come here. After everything that happened and then Sean, I didn’t want anything to do with this place. I was going to keep it for Jack, and that’s it. But I could see us using this place often.” Aaron kissed the top of Tony’s head.
“Aaron, I love it, and I could see us using it year round. Even in early winter. I love the beach when it’s cold and grey, or when it’s hot and sunny.” Tony grabbed Aaron’s hand and kissed each finger, making Aaron laugh at his partner.
“I want to share everything with you, Tone. The last year and a half have been the best of my life.” Aaron meant every word. He wanted to share with Tony the place that had once held so much meaning for him but had soured when he found out Haley had cheated on him with Sean, and one of the places they had come to was this house when Aaron was out of town. The depth of lies they had both told him had devastated him, but he moved past it, with Tony by his side.
“Come on, someone is up, and he was asking for special pancakes.” Tony stood and held out his hand for Aaron, who took it without a thought. The kiss was quick but no less affectionate.
Jack was bouncing in his booster seat, the boy was still too young to sit on a regular chair.
“Daddy, pancakes!” Jack’s smile was the biggest Aaron had seen from his son. The four-and-a-half-year-old was the sunshine of Aaron’s life, and Tony was his heart.
“Of course, Buddy. And, since we are on vacation, I’ll even do the cinnamon chocolate chip pancakes.”
“Dose are my favorite.” Jack’s little body vibrated with excitement, and Aaron couldn’t help laughing. “And, bacon, Daddy?”
“Can’t have anything else now, can we?” Aaron pulled Jack off his booster seat and hugged him close. The boy threw his arms around Aaron’s neck, then kissed his cheek. Aaron laughed as he kissed the top of Jack’s forehead before setting him down once again on his booster.
Breakfast was relaxed as Jack talked about all the things he wanted to do while they were on their vacation. Aaron listened attentively, and Tony tried to keep from laughing at some of the boys more enthusiastic suggestions. A day was planned, Tony made up a picnic for three of them while Aaron got Jack dressed for the day. It was still too cold to swim in the ocean, but spending time on the beach, letting Jack and Shiny run off some steam sounded good to everyone.
Once they were all ready, they walked out the back and down the stairs of the deck to the beach. Aaron whistled for the dog who ran over towards Jack, yipping and barking happily as Jack ran after the dog.
“Those two are thick as thieves.” Tony smiled as he held Aaron’s hand. They kept a nice even pace as they watched Jack run and play with Shiny.
“Yes, they are. It’s a love that will last Jack his whole life. I remember the dogs my Grandparents had, as well as my Uncle on the farm. Uncle leaned towards mutts and strays, giving them a good home. Grandparents liked purebreds but didn’t treat them fussy. They loved my Grandfather and when he walked them along this very beach.” Aaron smiled wistfully as he walked, and he threaded his fingers with Tony’s.
The screech of laughter as Shiny knocked Jack down onto the sand and began to wrestle with the boy had both men shaking their heads. Aaron pulled out his phone and began to record the scene. His sons’ unbridled joy only added to the beautiful morning. Jack was able to finally get up, and he ran back towards his father, laughing as Shiny chased after him.
Aaron kept walking and looked up towards the sky, noticing how the grey from before was burning off, the mild warmth of the sun felt good on his face. Aaron could admit that he was happy.
“What has you thinking so hard?” Tony stopped them near a natural stone break, both kept their eyes on Jack.
Aaron pulled Tony into his arms and kissed him. “Nothing actually. For once I wasn’t thinking at all. I was just enjoying being out with you, with Jack. Enjoying the day together.” Aaron smiled as he ran his fingers over Tony’s hair. “I love you. I’ve been so afraid to say it because I thought in my head that if I said it, then all of this would somehow be gone and it scared me.
“But, I know that fear was irrational, and I know you figured out how I felt, but thank you for giving me the time to understand my own feelings.”
Tony wrapped around Aaron and held him close, kissing him. Pulling back, Tony cupped Aaron’s cheek and sighed. “I love you too, Aaron Hotchner. And with all that you went through, I don’t blame you for making sure, Aaron.”
“Tony,” Aaron choked up a little as he pressed his forehead to Tony’s. Jack’s laughter brought their attention back to the boy and his dog. Aaron was still a little choked up, but he twined his hand with Tony’s, and the two once more began their walk on the beach. The cool ocean breeze was a wonder contract to the warming sun, which was higher in the sky. The two men quietly talked as they let boy and dog continue to run and play just ahead of them. Aaron felt lighter in spirit than he had in weeks, and he knew life was just going to get better now that he told Tony how he truly felt. This was a love that was made to last.