Title: Friendship is Like a Sheltering Tree
Series: Romancing Aaron Hotchner
Series Order: 2
Fandom: Criminal Minds, NCIS
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Tony DiNozzo, Aaron Hotchner & Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid
Summary: Aaron is missing Tony on Valentine’s Day. The case just keeps getting weirder, but it was a good time to remind Spencer that he was still a big part of Aaron’s life.
Tags: Friendship, Slight Crack, Fluff
Beta: None. No non-consensual Beta
Spencer had been watching the slow dance between Hotch and Tony over the last few weeks and was happy that Hotch had someone in his life. With that though, it meant that he was spending less time with Aaron and Jack and Spencer missed his friend. He missed days he could just drop by and spend it with them. He knew Aaron was disappointed that they were stuck in Nowhere, Oklahoma on Valentine’s Day.
Nowhere, an unincorporated area of Caddo County, Oklahoma felt like they were literally in the middle of Nowhere. The case was a strange one right from the beginning and Hotch had made the decision to stay closer to the town. That was how Spencer found himself at a quiet table with Hotch in the quaint diner of the Candelwyck Cove Resort. Spencer looked out the window and sipped his coffee as he watched the gentle waves over the lake that sat behind the resort. Light rain was falling, and the sky was gloomy giving a strange feeling over the entire area.
“Thank you, Spencer.”
Spencer turned and smiled shyly at Hotch. He had been well in his head and could admit he was feeling a tad jealous. Not jealous that Aaron had someone special in his life that got him and the work they do, but jealous that Tony was now occupying the time and space that used to be Spencer’s.
“We haven’t gone to dinner together in a while.”
“I know. I’m sorry, Spencer.”
“Don’t be sorry, Aaron. It’s good to see you with someone who cares about you. It’s also kinda nice seeing you being wooed.” Spencer smiled and sipped his cup of surprisingly excellent coffee.
“I just wanted to take the time to remind you that you are still my friend. No matter what happens with Tony, I will always be here for you.”
Spencer hated to admit that he needed to hear those words. After Hankel and Gideon’s hands off approach, Spencer had been not only floundering, he was drowning. Hotch had been there for him, even if Spencer tried to push him away several times. There were times that Spencer had felt like he had let his friends down. Hotch, though, reassured him that was far from reality.
“I’m sorry that you’re here and not with Tony. Sounded like he wanted to plan something special for your first Valentine’s Day.”
“I’ll make it up to him when we get back. I wish we could wrap this case up quickly.”
“It is kind of weird isn’t it?” Spencer smiled as he sipped his coffee. The waitress came back to give them refills, then took their orders. He almost laughed when Hotch ordered a bacon cheeseburger and their onion rings and fries plate. Spencer got the club sandwich, he knew Hotch would share his side with him.
“Why do all these out-of-the-way towns and unincorporated areas all have the truly strange stuff? It’s like a cosmic joke or something.” Aaron shook his head as he took a sip of his coffee.
Spencer almost snorted as he smiled.
“You think the universe s somehow screwing with us?”
“Don’t you? I mean, sure we get the horrible but dare I say mundane strangulations, shootings, stabbings, and all that, but this? Come one where else are we going to see this kind of case?”
Spencer almost spewed his coffee. He forgot just how Hotch could be away from the team. His quiet wit was replaced by a truly weird sense of humor.
“You know, no one believes you have a sense of humor.”
“It’s on purpose. Keeps you guys on your toes.”
“I think you just want to keep the others off guard. They never know what to say or do when you let go of a good one-liner.”
Hotch chuckled as he sipped his coffee and looked out the window. Spencer could tell he was missing Tony, but he wasn’t going to bring it up.
“Maybe I do. Or maybe I save it for those that mean the most to me.”
“Well hell, Aaron. What am I supposed to do with that.”
“Know that you will always be my best friend no matter who comes into my life. I don’t want you to be some afterthought, you mean way too much to me and to Jack.”
Spencer felt himself blush as their food was served.
“You know, a hamburger sounded so good at the time I ordered it. Now that it’s here I don’t know if I can eat it.”
Spencer tried not to snicker as he silently switched their plates knowing that Hotch just might feel like that.
“You ordered this on purpose didn’t you?”
“Yup,” Spencer said popping the p at the end.
“I should be a little frightened that you know me that well.”
“You know you aren’t. Just eat your sandwich, Aaron and be glad I do know you that well.”
Spencer laughed out loud at that and even harder at Hotch’s fake glare.
The two men ate in companionable silence, Aaron putting the plate of fries and onion rings in the center of the table where the both of them could eat off of it. When they were done, Aaron ordered a chocolate cherry coke and a piece of pie to share with Spencer.
“Thank you, Spencer. This might not have been the Valentine’s day that I wanted, but I think it was the one I needed.”
“You’re welcome, Aaron.”
“I will try very hard to not let either of us forget what we mean to each other.”
“I think you need to go call Tony and go to bed. You’re getting sappy.” Spencer smiled as he finished off his milkshake.
Hotch just chuckled, then paid the check, not letting Spencer pay it. Then they went their separate ways.
Spencer hoped that Hotch got a good night’s sleep because the case did not look like it was ending anytime soon. His prediction proved to come true when in the middle of the night they got a call that there was another body found.
The team all piled into the two SUV’s and quickly made their way to the dump site. Aaron quickly had them break up in teams to see if they could get any information.
Hotch and Spencer walked towards the body, and shining down his flashlight on the victim Hotch sighed before turning to Spencer.
“What the hell is with this town and cow costumes?”