Title: A Shot in the Heart
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Category: Romance, Mystery, Espionage
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Original Male Child, Emily Prentiss
Summary: When Dr. Spencer Reid unassumingly buys what he thinks is a copy of an Illuminated Manuscript he did not think that people were going to go after him the next day. When the dark-haired stranger comes to his rescue Spencer gets more than he bargained for.
Tags: Sniper!Hotch, AU, Pre-Slash, Violence, LiveJournal Prompt
Beta: None. No non-consensual Beta
Notes: No Haley or Jack, this is a complete AU.
Spencer was walking down the street with his new acquisition in hand and he was beyond ecstatic. The dealer thought the manuscript was a copy but Spencer had a suspicion that it was the real thing. If it was that meant the book was absolutely priceless.
“Daddy, what’cha gonna do with the book?”
“Well, I’m going to have a friend at work look at it and if it is what I think it is then this is a very important find.”
“Really?” The little boy’s eyes widened as he looked up at his father.
Spencer laughed slightly at the look on his son’s face. “Yes James. Come on, you still want to go to the bookstore?”
James jumped up and down a little, his dirty blond curls bouncing everywhere. Spencer took his hand and led him inside the store. James wanted the new 39 Clues book and it was on that Spencer was more than happy to indulge him in. The little boy loved the puzzles as well as looking for the new clues to the big mystery in the story. After finding the books he wanted Spencer steered him towards the little coffee shop that was attached to the bookstore. They settled at one of the tables and James pulled out the thick puzzle book and started to look through it.
“What do you say James?”
“Pencil please Daddy.” James took a sip of his cider as Spencer rooted in his messenger bag and handed over a pencil to his son.
“Thank you Daddy.” Spencer smiled as he watched the little boy for a while. It was times like these that Spencer couldn’t believe that the precious boy sitting across from him was his. His heart flipped a little as he sipped his overly sweet coffee and just watched as James carefully worked one of the puzzles in his book. He smiled as the boy stuck his tongue out a little as he concentrated on the questions he was answering. Rarely did Spencer have to give him any help the boy had inherited his own intelligence. When he had learned that James was on the upper end of the scale for genius he almost cried. His own boyhood had been filled with bullying and shame for how smart he was. He wanted a better childhood and a more stable life for his son.
Spencer had pulled out a book of his own and was reading while keeping a watchful eye on James. He slowly sipped his coffee and was having an overall good day. He didn’t want to pull the manuscript out to look at it here but it was practically burning a hole in his bag. After a few more relaxing moments at the store he told James to put his things in his Justice League backpack. Once he had everything put away Spencer took his hand and they started on their way back home.
The night was filled with pizza, a Doctor Who marathon, a messy bath and reading before bed. When Spencer finally got James settled in bed he grabbed his bag and made his way to his study. Finally alone he pulled the book out and started to look at it in closer detail. He still wasn’t convinced it was a fake or a copy. There was just something about the illuminated manuscript that told him this was the real thing. It was a gut feeling and he knew he needed to get this in the hands of someone who knew more than he did about these kinds of antiquities. After a couple of hours of making his own notes in a notebook he shut the manuscript and locked it inside his hidden safe. He pulled the key and attached it to the chain putting the cap back on disguising it as a small portable USB drive. He thought to himself that he maybe paranoid but there was always reason to be. He took his time getting ready for bed all the while thinking about the manuscript in his safe. When he crawled into bed his mind was going a mile a minute and he couldn’t quite get into a deep sleep.
The next day Spencer was out of sorts from the long night of very little sleep. It took two cups of coffee before he felt even remotely human. Getting James up they both by mutual agreement decided it would be a nice day to go to the park. Spencer packed a lunch for them, grabbed some books for him and James then they piled in his car and drove to Pueblo Park over in Summerlin. Spencer stayed near the kids play area so he could keep at least one eye on James the whole time. Luckily there were other kids and though his son was shy at first he often made friends easily.
“Tell us where the manuscript is and we’ll let you and the little blond kid go.” A man sat next to Spencer and turned a menacing stare on him.
“What?” Spencer frowned at the man beside him. He was dressed in a suit but Spencer got the feeling that this man was very dangerous. It also didn’t go unnoticed that a silver crucifix was hanging from his neck.
“The manuscript you bought from the book dealer at the book fair yesterday. Where is it?”
Spencer had grown-up in Vegas and knew a thing or two about keeping a poker face. He turned to the man sitting there and deadpanned his expression.
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Please Dr. Reid. We know the book was sold and we know you have it. Lying to us is not a good idea.”
Spencer went to say something when the man next to him dropped to the ground with a bullet hole in the back of his head. He heard two more shots and turned to see two more people drop to the ground as well. Grabbing his bag Spencer rushed over and grabbed James’s hand.
“Baby, we have to go. We have to go now.”
“Daddy?” Spencer felt awful about the look of fear that came across his son’s face.
“I don’t know what’s going on Jamie, but we’ve got to leave now. There are some bad guys who want to hurt us.” James wrapped his arms around Spencer’s neck as he was picked-up and Spencer started running to his car. When he approached he saw more of those men standing around as if they were waiting for the three that had threatened him. Slowly he backed away and took another route through the park. Luckily it was Spencer’s home ground. He grew-up playing in this park as a kid and he knew all of the ways in and out. He double backed to the play area and took another way around to the parking lot. When he came out at the other end far away from his car and the men surrounding it he started towards the highway. He knew if he could make it the half-mile to the bus stop he could hide him and James till the bus came. As soon as he got outside of the gate a car pulled up, the door flung open and a dark haired man looked at him.
“Get in.” The man yelled at him.
“Why the hell would I get in a car with a complete stranger?”
“Because if you don’t get in right now those men running after you are going to catch-up and I’m not in a defensible position. Now get the fuck in the car Dr. Reid.” Spencer frowned and hesitated slightly till he heard James scream that the men were coming after them. Not taking any chances he jumped in the car and hoped to god that he didn’t make and even bigger mistake.
Shutting the door as soon as he sat down the driver peeled away and started to head towards Spencer’s house.
“This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to your house you will pack exactly one bag for yourself and stuff whatever you can in a backpack for your son. You will grab the manuscript then we are going to the airport and getting on a plane. I’m taking you to Interpol headquarters where we have at least a better chance of keeping you in one piece.”
Spencer looked over the man trying to comprehend everything he was saying.
“Wh-what?” He was finally able to squeak out.
“They told me you were smart Dr. Reid. Am I wrong?”
“No.” Spencer’s back went up at the abrasive tone in the driver’s voice. He took a moment to look around the car and saw a long bag in the back. “You’re the sniper.”
“Well, took you long enough to figure that one out genius.”
“Well forgive me for being a little stunned that people are trying to kill me. I was minding my own business watching my son play in the park on a nice Sunday afternoon, contemplating getting ice cream and soda’s when I see people falling dead around me. So forgive me if my head has gone a little stupid for a moment.” Spencer yelled as he held his son close to him.
“Right, your right. I’m sure getting threatened doesn’t happen to you every day.” The man quirked up a brow as he looked over at Spencer.
“Can I at least get a name?” Spencer wasn’t going to hold back on the sarcasm as he was trying to take in the situation around him.
“Hotchner. You can call me Hotch.” That was all the driver would give him. For now he’d take that. When they pulled up to his house Hotch jumped out and ran around the car to open the door for him.
“I’m not a helpless girl you know.”
“I know, but this way I can see you and whatever is coming. Now get in the house and make it fast.” Spencer was going to say something back to Hotch but he noticed the man was carefully assessing the neighborhood. “What’s the easiest way to your roof?” Spencer again was going to protest but it died immediately on his lips by the look that Hotch was giving him. It was stone cold deadly. Spencer quickly showed him the ladder and before he could make any comments Hotch was running up it and getting into position.
Spencer swallowed and wondered what the hell was happening.
“Daddy, why’s that man on the roof?” James looked up and his eyes widened when a sniper rifle appeared fully assembled. Spencer was trying to calculate how fast the man had put it together when he heard a shout. “Get your ass moving Reid. NOW.”
Spencer squeaked and ran into the house. He grabbed his suitcase and threw in clothes and a few essential books. He went to his safe and grabbed the manuscript and put it along with his notes in the case as well. Moving quickly to James’s room he grabbed a few shirts, jeans, socks and underwear and stuffed them in a backpack. Running to his study Spencer got into his secondary safe and pulled out the emergency cash, their passports and other important documents and threw everything except the cash in the suitcase. The money he stuffed inside his satchel. Holding tightly to James’s hand he slung the backpack over one shoulder then grabbed the suitcase. Almost as soon as he stepped out of his front door he heard the shots. Holding James to him they crouched down and crawled behind the couch in the living room.
Spencer pulled the gun that he had been in his secondary safe out of his satchel and held it loosely but expertly in his hands. He kept James just to the side and back so that he would be free to defend them if needed. It was several long tense minutes of gunfire, then he heard fighting and Spencer thought he wasn’t going to be able to hold the tension inside him any longer.
When someone burst through the door Spencer popped out from behind the couch and fired in the direction he heard the person come through.
“If you shoot like that, then thank god I’m here.” Hotch stalked across the living room and grabbed the gun out of Spencer’s hand. “Glock 9. Hmm. When we get to a safe place we’ll see if we can get you something better. Keep it for now and for god sakes try to aim better.”
“Anyone ever tell you that you’re a bully and a hard ass?” Spencer quipped as he picked up the backpack, which Hotch grabbed out of his hand. He was going to argue but stopped when Hotch just glared at him.
“All the time. Now let’s go.” Spencer picked-up his suitcase and followed Hotch out to the car. Thankfully the drive to the small airport was uneventful and they quickly made it onto the plane without further incident. When Spencer set James on one of the long seats the boy dropped from exhaustion. He had been so scared his little body was tense and Spencer hadn’t had time to reassure him.
“Just rest Jamie.” Spencer kissed his forehead and got him strapped in after finding a pillow and blanket. Standing-up he moved close to where Hotch was sitting and strapped himself in as well. Laying back in the seat he closed his eyes and tried to take in everything that happened in such a short time. He felt Hotch watching him but he wasn’t going to give in at the moment, he just needed some time to calm the voices in his head.
When they had been in the air for about twenty minutes Spencer finally opened his eyes and levelled a stare at Hotch.
“You want to tell me now what the hell that was about?”
“When you purchased that manuscript it triggered several things at once. My boss at Interpol, the Vatican and a small group of radicals determined to collect and hide all the great biblical works of the world. The man you bought that from had purchased the contents of an estate sight unseen. The manuscript wasn’t supposed to leave the hands that were keeping it safe. The owner, James Bartlett died. His son didn’t know about the agreement with the Vatican and he sold all of his father’s belongings. Once they were sold it quickly became known because the safe that the manuscript was being kept in was breached and an alarm was triggered. I arrived only a few days ago, the Vatican assassins and the group calling themselves the New Rosicrucians had arrived the day before I did. It was my job to track down the book and keep safe whoever found it.”
“So two groups are now after me for buying a damn book?”
“An important book Dr. Reid. Surely you figured out for yourself that it is the real thing. This is the Illuminated Manuscript that was supposed to have been burned-up in the fires at the Alexandria Library. It is priceless.”
Spencer knew there was something special about the book, he just didn’t think it was that special. “That means it’s one of the very first. It’s even older than the ones produced in Italy in 415 AD. This would be around 48 BC. This, this…oh god. I think I’m going to be sick.”
Hotch got up and sat next to Spencer and laid a gentle hand on his back, “Lean forward, take a deep breath and calm down.”
Spencer popped back up in his seat and looked at the man who had just saved his life.
“Calm down? Calm down? People are after me because of a damn priceless book. They could hurt my son.” Spencer was on the verge of hyperventilating, thinking about James. “They threatened my son. Oh god.” Tears of stress, frustration and sudden fatigue pricked the corners of his eyes. “What if I can’t keep him safe. Please, please promise you’ll keep him safe.”
Hotch let out a deep sigh and wrapped an arm around the younger man pulling him in towards his chest. Dropping his hard demeanor for a moment Hotch held the younger man in his arms.
“Dr. Reid, I promise you I will do everything in my power to keep your son and you alive. That is my main mission as well as getting that book into the right hands.”
Spencer grabbed at Hotch’s shirt and curled his hand tight around it. He hadn’t broken down in front of anyone for years but this was just all too much. He let his emotions out as he purged himself against Hotch. When he finally calmed down he pulled away from the man and looked away. He could feel his cheeks burning with shame.
“I, I, I’m sorry. I don’t normally do things like that.”
“It’s okay Dr. Reid. Things happened rather quickly and I understand this put you under a lot of stress. Just follow my lead, don’t try to play hero and I promise you’ll make it out of this in one piece.”
Hotch looked at him with a frown on his face, “I’m sorry?”
“Spencer. You can call me Spencer.”
Hotch looked speechless and it made something in Spencer’s stomach flip. He barely knew this man, saw him kill with cold efficiency, he was bossy and aggressive yet he let Spencer cry on him. If he didn’t know any better he’d swear that he found the man attractive. Seeing him in his mind’s eye up on his roof with the sniper rifle in front of him should not be doing the things to Spencer that they were. Slowly blowing out a breath he sat up and got himself under control.
“Okay. Spencer.” The dark rich voice did not help. “Would you like something to drink? We have sodas, sparkling water, regular water and coffee. We’ll be in the air for a while I would suggest some water first.”
“Sure, sounds good.” Hotch stood, took off his jacket and walked gracefully and confidently over to the small kitchenette and grabbed two bottles of water. Spencer couldn’t take his eyes off the man and he almost shivered in his seat at the sight of the harness strapped around his chest. He wondered if he was developing a gun kink all of a sudden or if it was just this man. Hotch handed as water to Spencer before he sat down himself. “How old is he?”
Spencer knew his face softened, he could feel the tension leave as he thought of James. “Seven and too smart for his age.”
“Where’s the mother? Should we be concerned?”
“No. No Austin was killed by a stalker about a year after James was born. She didn’t want to be bogged down with a child so she signed her parental rights of him over to me after he was born. Shortly after that a pick-up artist that was working the Miami bars stalked and murdered her.”
“It was a weekend fling. Condom didn’t do its job but, truthfully I can’t be sorry he’s here. James is so much a part of me.” Spencer looked up and saw Hotch smile for the first time in their short acquaintance. That feeling in his stomach got worse as he looked at the dark-haired man.
“Why don’t you try to get some sleep. It’s going to be a while before we get to back to England.”
“England? That’s where we’re going? I can’t go to England I have classes to run, grad students to work with. Two Doctorate candidates to mentor. I have responsibilities back home. I, I, I can’t do this.”
“Spencer.” Hotch wraps a warm hand around Spencer’s wrist and just like that he felt calmer, more grounded. “Calm down. We’ll get this all sorted out, okay? But you need to calm down and rest for now.”
Taking several deep breaths Spencer tried to get himself under control.
“Okay, Okay.” Spencer stood and moved to where his son was sleeping and laid down next to him. He pulled the boy into his arms and slowly let himself drift off to sleep. He’d worry about everything else when he woke-up.
Spencer was being woken up a couple of hours later. Slowly he opened his eyes and tried to figure out where he was. It took a few minutes for it all to come back to him. Scrubbing his hands down his face and through his hair he tried to get himself under control.
“I thought you should try to eat something. We’ll be in the air for about eight more hours.” Hotch said from the seat directly across from him.
“Oh, ah what, what do you have?”
“We mostly have sandwiches and packets of soup. When we get you safe and settled I can see about something better.”
“I’ll get it for you.” Hotch stood and started towards the kitchenette.
“You don’t have to, I can do it.”
“it’s fine Spencer. Just take care of your son.” Spencer didn’t know what to think about the care that Hotch was showing him. He didn’t think he wanted to he let his mind drift as he sat back and let everything ruminate in his head. He was lost in thought when a tray appeared in front of him.
“Th-thank you.” Spencer took the tray and sat back when James stared to stir next to him.
“You get lost in your head a lot don’t you?” Hotch asked as he sat back down in his seat with his own plate of food.
“Yeah. It happened more before James though. I’ve had to try to be more aware of it, to keep myself in check so that I am always on alert to where my son is.” Spencer laid a hand on his son’s chest and closed his eyes. He was over-whelmed with emotion as his mind went over the last couple of hours. James was his everything and something new and hard settled under his heart. This was fear. Pure unadulterated fear and Spencer knew he did not like this feeling. He’d been such an awkward lonely kid, not really finding his place in the world. It wasn’t until he was in academia that he felt any sort of acceptance, and even then it was difficult because colleagues were often jealous of his mind and his accomplishments. But James, the tiny newborn he had held in his arms the first time relied on him. He had someone to love unconditionally and it had changed him. He was more settled, calmer and more focused. He was lucky in that James was a very easy baby and didn’t demand much like many of his friends had talked about. Sure it got harder as James got older but Spencer wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.
Spencer didn’t realize that tears were falling until he felt gentle fingers brushing them away. When he looked over Hotch was on the floor on his knees, one hand on Spencer’s knee the other brushing softly against his face.
“I will do everything in my power to keep him safe Spencer. I don’t go back on my promises. Okay?”
“Do you have children Hotch?” Spencer bit his lip as he kept his gaze on Hotch’s face.
“No. No I don’t but I can see the love you have for your son.”
“I am sometimes over-whelmed by these feelings I have for him. I look at him and I think, I did this. I helped create this little person and it’s just so surreal. If anything happened to him, I wouldn’t survive it. I wouldn’t be the same and it would tear little pieces out of me for the rest of my life.”
“Then we’ll make sure nothing happens.” Hotch watched the man with his son and had the over-whelming urge to kiss him. He hadn’t felt this deeply attracted to someone in a very long time. It didn’t help that he was going to be close to Spencer and his son for the foreseeable future.
Spencer looked up and saw Hotch watching him. He could feel the blush creeping up on his face and ducked his head to the side letting his hair fall over his eyes. Hotch couldn’t resist when he reached out and pushed the hair behind the younger man’s ear.
“Do you have anyone you’re seeing that we should be concerned about?” Hotch asked with such a straight face that it almost made Spencer laugh.
“Are you trying to find out if I’m in a relationship?”
Hotch smiled slowly at being caught. “Yes. Yes I am.”
“Because Dr. Reid I find you absolutely gorgeous and you don’t even seem to know it.”
“You’ve only known me, what four hours now? And in a stressful life threatening situation?” Spencer practically jumped when he felt a warm hand cup his face.
“Doesn’t negate the fact that I find you very attractive and I have this insatiable urge to kiss you. However, I will wait.” Hotch pulled back and sat back in his seat chuckling at the now befuddled Spencer.
“I, I, I don’t know what to say to that.” If he was honest with himself he knew he was beyond flattered. His appointed protector was very much the type of man that Spencer always found himself attracted to.
“You don’t have to say anything. When this is over I want to take you out on a proper date.”
“And what makes you think I’d say yes?”
Hotch gave him a wicked smile which made him swallow hard, his food all but forgotten by this time.
“Oh, I think you will.” Hotch’s smile turned almost feral as he picked his book up and started reading. When Spencer saw the title he just about groaned obscenely in the back of his throat. He was reading a collected works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in German. Spencer wanted to ask what other languages Hotch understood but he wasn’t sure if he should. It would just make him more miserable than he already was. The man was getting under his skin and Spencer didn’t want to think about that, at least not until he and James were out of harm’s way.
Spencer picked-up the sandwich and only halfheartedly ate it while he left the soup untouched. He didn’t think he could eat anything else at the moment because his stomach was in so many knots he wasn’t sure what from anymore. He wasn’t sure if it was just the fear and worry that people were after him for the book, or if it was the knowledge that Hotch found him attractive. Right now he couldn’t think about any of that, at least not until he and James were out of this situation.
“Daddy,” James whined as he sat up, his hair a jumbled mess from sleep.
“Hey baby. Are you hungry?”
“Yes.” The sleepy whine made Spencer smile as the brushed his hands through his sons hair trying to tame the curls.
“What does he like?”
“If there’s Turkey that’s his favorite.”
“I think there is, I’ll just be a moment.” Spencer still wondered at way Hotch was being towards him but was grateful when a sandwich and a bag of pretzels was handed to him. “Found these. There’s more if you’d like some.”
“No, I can’t really eat much right now.” He turned to James and helped him with his food. After his son was settled he stood and grabbed the backpack. He had shoved some books of his own in there, just-in-case. Grabbing a couple for James and one for himself he sat back and tried to relax.
The rest of the plane ride was done in heavy silence. Spencer knew Hotch had more questions but he really just wanted some time to himself. He draped an arm around James and held him close while each got lost in their own books. It helped pass the time and when the pilot was calling for them to put on their seatbelts Spencer helped his son then buckled himself in.
“Okay, this is what’s going to happen.” Spencer was startled by how fast Hotch slipped into his sniper mode. “You are going to leave everything on the plane till I can assess the situation. You and James will stay here as well. When I feel it’s safe I will come back for you. Keep your gun close Dr. Reid and this time don’t miss.” Spencer wanted to say something back but the quip fell away at the glare coming from Hotch.
Within minutes they were landing at the private airport, Hotch and the pilots, who were also brandishing their own weapons, talked strategy. Hotch grabbed from a locked cabinet a regular rifle but slung the bag with his sniper rifle over his shoulders like a backpack.
“Remember, stay here, protect your son.” The left corner of Hotch’s mouth curled up slightly and Spencer would swear he was giving him a quick smile.
“Okay, let’s go.” Hotch ordered as he turned to the obvious agents that had flown the plane and gave them last minute instructions.
Almost as soon as Hotch stepped out there was gunfire. Spencer just saw Hotch raising his rifle and firing off a couple of shots. It should not have been as sexy as it was but dammit seeing the man in his element had Spencer on a different kind of ledge. One he wasn’t sure if he was ready to explore.
He ducked behind one of the seats with James tucked under. He told the boy to stay where he was as he inched out towards the isle. When he heard footsteps and voices he kept a grip on the gun he was holding and prayed that he could do as Hotch asked.
“Come out, come out Dr. Reid. We know the agent left you and your son alone. The agents are being taken care of as we speak. Now, give us the manuscript and we’ll let you and the boy go.” Spencer closed his eyes against the fear and of all things to pop into his head he started to recite the fear litany from Dune. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
He heard the man take a few more steps inside then calmed his breath and his heartbeat. I can do this. I can do this. He repeated as he quickly stood, aimed, let out his breath and shot. The man went down and the two others that had followed started to advance on him. He shot one of them and was relieved when Hotch flew up the stairs and took out the other one.
The second man Spencer had shot was still alive which Hotch quickly got into handcuffs and out the door. By the time he passed the man off to the other agents Hotch turned his attention to Spencer who was starting to shake as the adrenaline was leaving his body.
“Fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.” Spencer couldn’t help the words that were coming out of his mouth and almost sagged in relief as Hotch gently pried the gun out of his hand and was engulfed in the man’s arms.
“Its okay Spencer. It’s okay. You did good. You saved yourself and your son, do not feel guilty for that.” Spencer buried his face on Hotch’s shoulder as he tightly wrapped his arms around the man trying to stop the shaking. He let Hotch care for him as he came down from not only the adrenaline rush but the knowledge he had killed someone. After a moment he pulled away, shy and embarrassed at his reaction. Ducking down he pulled his son into his arms and held the scared shaking boy in his arms.
A gentle hand landed on his shoulder which made Spencer look-up. “Come on we have to move.” It wasn’t quite the hard-edged agent but it wasn’t the kind caring man of earlier. This was somewhere in between and it was making Spencer’s head spin to see all of these sides to Hotch. Blowing out his breath he stood with James in his arms and followed Hotch out and to the waiting cars.
Spencer was grateful that Hotch and the agents grabbed his bags as well. They all quickly piled into the waiting cars and sped off into the middle of London traffic. Hotch kept looking in his rearview mirror but Spencer didn’t want to know. He was at his limits with this mess and he really didn’t want to see if anyone was following them. When Hotch made a sudden right down an alley he knew then that they were being followed.
“Get down on the floor with James under you. There’s a bullet-proof blanket back there, throw it over you and don’t move till I tell you it’s okay.” Hotch growled as he sliced through London traffic trying to lose the tail. Spencer did as he was told and stayed down. Even when he heard shots being fired he didn’t move. He kept a gentle hand over James’s mouth to keep him calm and quiet. Spencer didn’t think Hotch needed the distraction.
It was several long tense moments as Hotch drove. Spencer didn’t even flinch when he heard a crash and assumed that it was the car following them. He still didn’t move, not till he heard the car squealing into a parking spot and being shut off.
“Come on Dr. Reid. We’re here at Interpol headquarters.”
Pushing the blanket off himself he struggled slightly to get out pulling his son with him.
“Come on, my boss will be waiting for you.” Aaron kept his hand low on Spencer’s back. He had James’s backpack slung over his shoulder and his own suitcase. Spencer still had his bag strapped across him and his arms wrapped tightly around James. They moved through the parking lot and inside the building with no further incident.
When they stopped near the top Aaron led Spencer out of the elevator and into a large office with a dark-haired woman who appeared to be waiting for them.
“Dr. Reid. It’s good to see you in one piece.” She smiled and Spencer couldn’t help but to return that smile. “I’m Emily Prentiss. Director of London Operations. I was right to send Hotch to get you. Seems you’ve had quite the day.”
Spencer didn’t know what to say to that as he dropped down into a chair and kept a tight hold on James.
“Thank you Miss Prentiss. I really haven’t processed this yet. I’m a damn linguistics professor. I’m not cut out for intrigue. All I did was buy what was being billed as a copy of an Illuminated Manuscript. Early religious texts. I had hoped to use it in my classes. It wasn’t until a little while later that I realized what it might me. My life went to hell after that.”
“I’m so sorry Dr. Reid. You should never have been put in this position. Mr. Bartlett’s son hadn’t been informed of the protocols his father had put into place. But, we’ve called the right people and they should be here in the morning to take the Manuscript and have it handled properly. I’m afraid that we’re going to have to ask you to stay with Agent Hotchner for a little while longer, just so we know the danger has passed.”
Spencer put James in his chair and went to his suitcase and pulled out the book. He handed it to Prentiss with a loud sigh of relief.
“Thank you Dr. Reid. We will compensate you for the money you spent on the book as well as the inconvenience this has caused.”
“I just don’t want to see that thing anymore. And I’d really like a bed and a shower.”
“Of course. We have a few safe houses set-up and we’ll let Agent Hotchner choose. He won’t tell us where you are and as soon as the book is in the proper hands I’ll give him a call with the all clear.”
Spencer nodded his head, then Emily dismissed them with Hotch leading him back out to the parking garage. Spencer realized right away they were taking a different car.
“Throw them off in case they followed us here. Emily will be fine. Our boss Clyde Easter has arrived and between the both of them and the other agents in the building they will keep the book safe. Let’s get you someplace you can rest and let them handle it from here.”
“Thank you.” Hotch could see that Spencer was at his limit as he drove through London. Spencer was in the back with James laid out on the seat and his head on his father’s lap. Spencer too was soon drifting off to sleep. He was being woken-up sometime later. He looked up to see a charming cottage and wondered where they were.
“We’re just outside of Manchester. No one followed us. We should be perfectly safe here till Emily contacts me.” The three of them enter the cottage and Spencer is charmed even more. It was small, sure but the liked the warm hominess of it.
“There’s a bathroom upstairs if you’d like to take a shower. I can see to James if you’d like. There is one large bedroom and a smaller bedroom next to it. I’ll get your son set-up in there then go get us some real food. Is there anything you don’t like?”
“No, I fairly easy. So is James. Though he can’t have anything with berries. He’s allergic to all bush berries. I have an epi-pen for him but I’d rather not have to use it.”
“All right. Then you go take care of yourself first Spencer.”
Spencer smiled and moved upstairs and found the bathroom. The cottage being small he heard Hotch with James and it made him smile that his son was trusting the man. When he heard the boy settling on the bed with his books Spencer was finally able to relax. He stripped after grabbing his hastily put together toiletry kit and stepped into the bathroom. He heard the front door shut and the snick of a lock. He didn’t know why that sound made him feel safe but it did. Finally he stepped under into the shower and under the warm spray. He took his time and let his mind drift. He knew he was still in shock and that it hadn’t all hit him yet. He knew intellectually the crash would come, he just wasn’t sure when it would.
He stepped out of the shower and dried off and by the time he was dressed and padding back downstairs Hotch was back and laying out food.
“It grabbed Indian. I hope that’s okay? You really can’t get this good in the States and I haven’t had it for a while myself.”
“No, it’s, it’s good. I love Indian.” Spencer sat and let Hotch dish out their food and handed Spencer a plate.
“What?” Spencer frowned at the man across from him.
“Call me Aaron.” Spencer smiled a shy slow smile as he picked-up his fork and took a bite of Chicken Tikka Masala.
“Aaron.” Spencer said as he sat back on the couch next to the Interpol Agent that had saved his life and ate in companionable silence.
After getting the leftovers put away Spencer was dead on his feet. He had been going on spikes of adrenaline for almost fourteen hours by now and he really needed rest. Hotch noticed that the man was fading and laid a hand on his should to steer him upstairs and into bed. Spencer started to protest that he could take the couch but Hotch wouldn’t hear of it.
The crash came sometime during the night when Spencer woke with a scream in his throat. He was shaking and sweating as it all came rushing at him at once. He was fighting the covers when he felt strong familiar hands settling on his shoulders. He looked up at the dark-haired man who was saying something to him but it just wasn’t registering.
“Spencer, come on you have to come back now. You’re safe Spencer, you’re safe.”
“Aaron,” He about whimpered when his brain finally caught-up and sagged against the other man. When he felt those strong reassuring hands stroking his hair, repeating that he was safe in that deep rich voice Spencer broke. Hotch never took a hand-off him as he moved to settle on the bed next to Spencer, pulling him into his arms and let him purge himself once again. “I’m sorry. I’m not usually like this.”
“It’s okay Spencer. This has been a traumatic day for you. Honestly I’ve been waiting for this.”
“Oh god. Oh god. I killed someone Hotch. I killed a person.” Spencer’s breath turned shallow as he felt the rising panic attack hit him.
“Yes, you did. But you did it to save yourself and your son. It’s never easy to take a life Spencer but you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You did it out of self-preservation.” Spencer couldn’t really say much at the moment as he tried to process what he did compared to what could have happened. As he started to accept what he had done he let the tension out of his body. Hotch started to move off the bed but Spencer just clutched at his t-shirt.
“Please, stay.” Spencer hated how needy he sounded but he didn’t want to be alone.
Hotch sighed and settled down on the bed and held tight to the young man in his arms and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was screwed.
The next day was fraught with tension as both Hotch and Spencer waited to hear form Prentiss on whether Spencer was in the clear. Spencer had cooked them breakfast and now it was just a waiting game.
The call finally came in about six that evening and Hotch was grateful because he thought the genius was going to snap at some point. Hotch answered and put the call on speaker phone so Spencer could hear as well, he hoped the call could reassure the genius.
“All clear Hotch. The book is now in the possession of the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. We’ve been assured that they will make the manuscript available to other scholars and to keep it safe.”
“Thank you Miss Prentiss. Thank you for everything.” Spencer found himself wrapped-up in Hotch’s strong arms and sagged in relief. He wrapped his arms around Hotch reveling in the feel of the man holding him.
“It’s over Spencer.”
“Yes. Thank you Aaron. Thank you for keeping your promise.”
Hotch pulled back a little and cupped Spencer’s chin then he slowly lifted his face and bent forward and placed his lips against Spencer’s. The younger man couldn’t help himself as he moaned in the back of his throat. He returned the kiss deepening it. It took the two men a few minutes to finally break apart and when they did Hotch smiled at the flushed look on Spencer’s face.
“I find myself in a bit of a quandary Dr. Reid,” Hotch said as he ran his thumb along Spencer’s lip.
“Oh?” Spencer felt the flush creep up as he nipped playfully at the thumb.
“I want to see you, get to know you better. I find myself more than attracted to you and I think I would hate myself if I let you go now.”
“I see. That is quite the quandary Agent Hotchner.” Spencer closed his eyes and thought for a moment. “I guess I could take a short sabbatical. Stay here, that is if you want.”
Hotch curled his lips up into a sly grin, “I very much want.” He said as he leaned back in to steal another kiss. “I want to get to know your son to Spencer. I am very aware that it’s a package deal.”
Those knots in Spencer’s stomach began to loosen as he stayed in the circle of Hotch’s arms. He wasn’t sure if he would ever get enough of the man kissing him. He was also stunned to realize how much he and his son were wanted. He knew it was soon, that they had a lot to learn about each other but he wanted for the first time in his life to take a chance at something more.