The Meaning of Family

Title: The Meaning of Family
Series: Fluff-Bingo, Romancing Aaron Hotchner
Series Order: 3, 8
Prompt:  Cuddling
Fandom: Criminal Minds, NCIS
Category: Romance, Fluff
Ratings: PG-13
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Tony DiNozzo
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Tony DiNozzo
Spoilers: None
Summary:  Tony has been having several bad days in a row. He is reminded that he is no longer alone and that simple family time can be healing.
Words: 1516
Warnings: None
Tags: Fluffy goodness, slice of life, family, established relationship
Beta: Grammarly
* * * * * 

Tony was frustrated. The case he was working on was going nowhere. None of his searches had come up with anything useful for the unit he was assisting. This also came at a time when Tony had to oversee the upgrades to all of the analyst’s computers, even Penelope Garcia’s. Since he was technically her supervisor and she technically had non-sanctioned tech loaded up on her computers, Tony had to have a talk with her, which ended in tears and pleading.

Tony hated tears. He never knew what to do when a woman started crying, especially someone who was usually a strong woman like Penelope was. However, all of the downloaded, programs she was using, she did not get permission from either himself or their boss for her to use them. She often forgot that even though she was assigned to the BAU and it was Aaron Hotchner that had recruited her, Hotchner was not technically her boss. She belonged to the analyst pool. Aaron had enough pull that he got Penelope assigned to his team, but she also had to help out three other teams based out of Quantico as well.

Penelope was glaring at Tony, arms crossed over her chest, and frowning while tears fell down her face.

“Penelope, you know that this equipment is technically the FBI’s and if the FBI says they want a full-scale upgrade to all of the analyst’s systems, then they get an upgrade. You are still able to use your Linux, and you can have the now approved programs, but the ones crossed out are not on the approved list and must be removed. I’m sorry, we both have to adhere to the rules.

“And, don’t think you can put them on a personal system then download them later.” Tony sighed at the huff he got from her in return.

“You know I’m just going to hack the system.”

“And if you do that the new security measures will go off and lock you out, which means I have to come down here to see what happened and then we both would be going to see our boss. You get a write-up and possible reassignment off of Hotch’s team.”

“But…” Penelope looked devastated as she started to hyperventilate.

“Breathe Penelope, breathe. You’re lucky. The BAU is busy enough that Basich is okay with you staying with them, but you have to remember that you work for the FBI, not as an independent analyst.”

“So this is happening.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Fine. But I don’t have to like it.”

“No, you don’t. But, if you’re serious about these programs write up a proposal and show empirical evidence of why you need them, what their use is, and what security protocols can be built into them. You got your degree in computer programming, Penelope, use it.”

“Thanks, Tony. I’ll try not to be a Debbie downer.” 

“And you’ll abide by the regulations?” Tony stood and couldn’t help chuckling at the pout on Penelope’s face. 

“Yes. I’ll be a good girl.”

“I highly doubt that, but we’ll leave it here for now.” Tony stood and started to walk out of Penelope’s office. He turned towards her one last time before leaving, “You are good at your job, Penny. In fact, you are one of the best analysts we have, you just need to curb your Black Queen ways a little more.” Tony smiled and left. This was the part of his job he hated, but Basich had faith in Tony to keep the analysts on the straight and narrow. Some were more difficult than others.

Getting back to his office after talking to everyone, Tony looked at his own searches and sighed. He really hated this case he was helping out with, nothing was going right. Putting everything aside, he decided a little legal hacking was what might help the team get the answers they were looking for.

Two hours later and some deep dives onto the internet and Tony saw things that he may never be able to unsee. All he wanted to do was close up for the night and head home to his partner and Jack. Leaving a new set of searches going for the night, Tony decided it was time to go home.

* * * * * 

“Honey, I’m home,” Tony called out as he set his briefcase down, took off his shoes and threw his keys and other things on the plate that was on the table just inside the front door. “And whatever is cooking smells amazing.” 

“Uncle Tony.” Before Tony could make it to the kitchen, he was hit with a little body that wrapped around him. Jack was excited he was home. Tony could admit that this was the second best part of his day. 

“Hey, Jack-Jack. What’s for dinner?”

“Daddy made alfewdo, and chicken, and salad, and garlic bread,” Jack babbled away as Tony was pulled into the kitchen, Aaron smiled, pulling Tony close and kissing him. 

“Bad day?” Aaron had cupped Tony’s cheek, running a thumb under his eyes, gently touching the dark circles that had formed.

“Bad few days. We’re running an upgrade and had to review all of the computers in the department and found quite a few unsanctioned programs clogging up the systems. I know these are mostly former hackers, and computer engineering and programming guys, but they still need to follow protocol.

“I had to assess all of the analysts that are assigned to teams to check their systems. It was bad. The worst was Penelope Garcia.” Tony pulled out of Aaron’s arms. “And, you Mister Hotchner, indulge her way too much.”

Aaron was smiling and reached out to catch Tony, but Tony moved just out of reach. He knew that since Aaron was cooking, he wasn’t going to leave the kitchen. Tony stayed on the edge of Aaron’s reach, a smug smile on his face.

“She’s been good for us.”

“Yes, I know exactly how you feel about her. However, you need to help us curb her Black Queen ways.”

Aaron laughed as he stirred the sauce before he added the pasta. Tony had spent several weekends and evenings teaching Aaron how to perfectly prepare most pasta’s. Tony would make fresh twice a month and dry some and freeze some. They were better than store bought and he felt better about feeding Jack pasta. He made it the right way with semolina flour instead of refined white flour. 

After stirring the pasta and sauce together, Aaron declared dinner was ready. The three of them sat down, and food was plated, Jack continued to talk unless Aaron asked him to wait for a moment. Tony was amazed at how good Jack was and that he hardly gave Aaron trouble. Tony relaxed, but he wasn’t settled quite yet. 

After dinner was movie time. Jack got to pick it out, and Tony laughed at his choice. An older family movie called The Incredible Mr. Limpet. Tony had broadened the Hotchner households repertoire of films. Jack was fascinated by some of the older movies, even some of the silent comedies starring the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Tony suspected the boy liked the physical comedy, and it made Tony proud that he could introduce young Jack to such classics. He couldn’t wait until they started to watch Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

After getting the movie started, Aaron tugged on Tony until he had his head in Aaron’s lap and was stretched out along the couch. Jack crawled up and laid across Tony. When a hand started to gently massage his head, Tony sighed, closing his eyes as the tension he had been holding onto begun to fade away. 

“This is amazing.” Tony threw his free arm around Jack and let the boy cuddle closer to him. Aaron kept up the massage, which turned into gentle stroking along his neck and shoulders. The cuddling, the simple family movie, and the care Aaron was showing him reminded Tony of how much he now had a family. 

The shaking of his shoulder woke him up. Tony didn’t feel the weight of Jack on him, but when he looked up, he saw Aaron there smiling down at him. 

“I think it’s time for bed.”

“Jeez, how long was I out?”

“Most of the movie. You didn’t even feel Jack laughing. Come on, let’s go to bed where we can properly cuddle.”

“That is the best idea you’ve ever had.” Tony followed behind Aaron, and when they got to their room, he shed his clothes and crawled into bed. Aaron slipped in beside Tony and pulled him close. Tony laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder and wrapped an arm around his waist. Plastering himself along Aaron’s side as close as he could get, Tony let out a contented sigh as Aaron held him in his arms. 

“I love you.” Aaron kissed Tony’s forehead as he snuggled even closer. Tony didn’t complain, this was his favorite way to go to sleep. Cuddling up to the man he loved made even the bad day’s worth it.

One thought on “The Meaning of Family

  1. Hi, thanks for sharing this story with us! I couldn’t figure out how to contact you otherwise, but I think you have a incorrect link. I clicked on the link for Unexpected Lunch Date on the Discord Just Write Fluff Bingo page under Challenges. Unfortunately, it brought me back to this page for The Meaning of Family. I just wanted to let you know. Thanks again!

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