Reid stood outside of Aaron’s house nervous for the first time in almost eight years. He and Aaron had been having movie nights almost every Saturday since his ordeal in Georgia. At first Haley was resentful of it, but then she eventually came around. She came to understand that the young man was seeking a family and that Aaron was helping him cope with what happened to him those horrible dark days. When she and Aaron separated, she was actually sad that she wouldn’t see the young man as much.
Not everyone on the team knew. Gideon had found out but didn’t really say anything, he didn’t feel it was his place. Later Rossi figured it out and was glad that Reid had found someone he could connect with. And while it was true that the kid was the heart of the team, Rossi knew that a deep friendship had developed between his former protégé and Spencer. Everyone assumed that Derek was Reid’s best friend, and that was true in a sense, but it really was Aaron that seemed to understand Reid the best.
So, movie in hand, feet shuffling he waited for Aaron to answer the door.
“Spencer,” And there it was, the dazzling smile that Aaron only used when he was home and it caught something in Reid’s heart, but he locked it away like he did every time because he knew that nothing would ever come of it. He figured that Aaron would freak out, or hate him if he confessed what it was he was feeling. Harboring these kinds of deep feelings for your boss was not always a smart idea.
“You didn’t have to ring the bell, you know that.” Aaron stepped aside with a look of confusion on his face. Reid had always just come in the door, an unspoken trust between the two friends.
“I ah, I know, I don’t know why I did it.” Spencer smiled sadly. He had made up his mind to try to put into words what it was he felt for Aaron and it made him nervous. He walked in and Hotch placed a hand on Reid’s shoulder, lightly squeezing. It was an old practiced gesture but Reid welcomed it nonetheless.
“Here, I brought Young Frankenstein, did you know the line walk this way, that Igor says to Victor Frankenstein early in the movie, inspired the rock band Aerosmith’s song Walk This Way?” Reid said ginning sheepishly.
And there it was again, that dazzling dimple showing smile of SSA Aaron Hotchner, “No actually I didn’t know that.” He said as he walked into the kitchen to pour a couple of drinks.
“Yeah and the song went on to chart at the billboard’s top 10 in 1977 despite being a ‘b’ side track.” Reid knew he was rambling again, but he couldn’t always stop himself. He had gotten better at the social cues over the years, but sometimes his old habits just slipped through.
What Reid didn’t know was that Aaron loved Reid’s quirks. He sometimes hated when he had to cut the younger man off. But it was not always a good idea to let him ramble when they were in the middle of a case.
“Um, where’s Jack?” Reid always missed it when Jack wasn’t there.
“He had a sleepover with some friends. It’s just us tonight.” Aaron brought the drinks and the popcorn he had prepared earlier over to the table. Reid just stood there, not moving.
“Spencer, are you okay?” Aaron hadn’t seen Reid this strangely nervous in a long time and it began to worry him.
“Aaron…” He walked over to the coffee table, picked-up his glass of iced tea and took a long drink. He then set it down and turned back to his boss, his friend. “I don’t know if I can do this anymore…” No, that wasn’t what he wanted to say dammit.
Aaron looked confused, he thought the younger man liked coming over, “Spencer, what do you mean?”
Reid huffed out a sigh, sat down on the couch, and hung his head in his hands. It took a few minutes for him to get the courage up to say what he wanted to say.
“Aaron, everyone assumes that Derek is my best friend. And on the surface you could say they are right. We go for coffee every Sunday, I sometimes go to basketball games with him because it’s the only sport that makes sense to me. We have dinner every so often and go to horror movies. But, it’s not true. Derek’s like the big brother I never had but he doesn’t always get me.” This was coming out all wrong but he didn’t know how to stop himself.
“I can say without a doubt Aaron, that you have always been my best friend. Ever since Georgia when you risked your career in helping me, you are the one that has always been there. When Gideon didn’t want to help, when I left signs that I needed help he purposefully ignored them. I don’t know why, I never knew why, and I think that’s when my resentment towards him started. You knew, though, and you figured out how to get through to me. I know it wasn’t easy, but if you hadn’t been there I don’t know if I would have made it. I know that the team doesn’t always see it but you understand me. They had all questioned me after Georgia on why I didn’t pick Derek. Because I know he wouldn’t have understood, he wouldn’t have gotten the clues, but you did because you’re smarter than you let on Aaron.” Reid chuckled. One day he had been curious to know if Aaron had ever taken an IQ test. The bureau will often give them if their agents were ever interested. So he looked, with Garcia’s help of course, in Aaron’s file and wasn’t at all surprised to find that their Unit Chief’s was 154.
“I saw your IQ score. I wasn’t surprised, but I bet the rest of the team would be. You know that could be considered near genius.” He smirked. Then just as suddenly he got serious again, “I know I’m different, strange to some…”
Aaron sat down next to Spencer, “Spencer, what is this about?”had Concern colored his voice.
Reid turned his head and the look of pain on the young man’s face stopped Aaron’s heart cold. “Aaron, I…I have feelings for you and I don’t know what to do with them.” His heart beat was a little too fast as he looked at his boss and best friend. Suddenly he got up, grabbed his bag and ran out of the apartment. Aaron made to go after Reid, but the younger man just shook his head. at that moment he wanted nothing more than to be alone.
Aaron’s head was reeling. He knew that Reid was attached, but he had no idea that his feelings towards Aaron went that deep. He wanted to go after Spencer and tell him that he thought much the same way. To the outside world David Rossi was his best friend, and in some ways he was, but it was often Reid that he sought out to bounce ideas off of. Or when a new psychological or clinical theory crossed his desk it was always Reid he talked to about it. If he stopped and got coffee he always brought Reid a cup. There were a lot of little things through the years that suddenly made Aaron pause.
“Well shit,” He thought as he sat heavily down on his couch. He didn’t know how or when it happened but his feelings towards the young genius had changed also.
The First Year:
“Reid.” Reid was at his desk trying to concentrate on paperwork. He had been back in the office for two weeks and he was having trouble. He knew he needed help, he just didn’t know how to ask for it. He could see the looks of sympathy on his colleague’s faces and in that moment he hated them. They were looking at him like a victim. Yes he knew he was, but they didn’t have to keep reminding him with their looks of constant sympathy. He looked up and saw Aaron standing there, not with a look of sympathy, but a look of understanding.
“Yes, Hotch?” He looked around, everyone else had gone home.
“Why don’t you go home?” Hotch had suggested.
“Yeah, yeah okay let me just finish…”
Hotch reached down and took the file out of Reid’s hand, closed it, and set it aside. He put a hand on Reid’s shoulder and lightly squeezed, “Go home Reid. That is an order.”
Spencer sighed, “Okay Hotch, I’ll go.” The defeat in the young man’s voice was enough to make Hotch want to pull him in and give him a hug, but he felt it would be inappropriate. Aaron could tell that Reid was struggling, but he didn’t know exactly how to help him. He also noticed how Gideon, the young agent’s supposed mentor, refused to see the signs. He knew Reid could be subtle, but to Hotch, the kid was screaming for help and Gideon ignored it. This made Hotch grow a little seed of resentment inside himself towards the older man.
As Reid made his way to the doors Aaron stopped him, “Reid, it’s pretty late why don’t I give you a ride home?” Reid couldn’t make out the expression on his boss’s face. He had only been with the unit for a little over two years and Hotch was still a puzzle to him. Reid knew the man was smarter than he often let on, Alpha male personality, but highly protective of his team, he wore his air of authority like a badge, but any one of them could go to him with anything and he’d listen. Reid’s respect and admiration for his boss increased as time went on. But, he was still a puzzle to Reid and there was one thing that the youngest BAU agent couldn’t resist was a puzzle.
“Okay. Thank you.” And so it began. The first gesture of a car ride turned into Hotch picking him up every day for work, his way of checking on Reid to see if he was okay. At first it was awkward, but eventually there grew a comfortable camaraderie between them.
Two months into the new routine Hotch stopped at his desk and set a cup of coffee down for him. Hotch had helped him through another withdrawal the night before. It went unspoken between them and Hotch just laid a hand on his shoulder, tapped twice then moved to his office. No one knew, not even Gideon, and Hotch could lose his job if the drug use continued to go unreported. Hotch thumbed his nose at the regulation. Reid didn’t ask to get addicted to dilauded, and he kept fighting it, which is what gave Hotch hope.
It wasn’t until the case in Texas where a former Army Ranger had a psychotic break that Hotch knew Reid needed more help.
“Reid, why don’t you come over on Saturday? We’ll have dinner and watch movies. Haley and I could use the adult company.” Hotch smiled letting the young man know he wasn’t alone.
Reid wanted to protest, to say he’d be fine, but he knew he wasn’t fine so he did the only thing he could.
“Um sure, what…what time?”
“Come around 6:00.” Hotch walked up to his office, leaving the door open and got down to his paperwork.
That Saturday precisely at 6:00 pm Reid was there with a couple of movies in his hands. He wasn’t really sure what Hotch and Haley liked, but he brought them anyway.
“Come in. I see you brought some movies of your own.” Reid was surprised by the full easy smile on the Unit Chief’s face.
“Yeah, I uh don’t know what you guys like, but I brought a couple of Akira Kurosawa movies. Yojimbo, it’s about this really genius Ronin Samurai who plays two feuding gangs against each other to help free a small town.” Hotch smiled at that, of course Reid would latch onto a movie with a genius rogue, “And Seven Samurai, which is what the movie Magnificent Seven is based on. Did you know that in Magnificent Seven the Mexican censors required the producers to make sure all of the peasants wore clean clothing…” Reid just stared at the looks that Hotch and Haley gave him.
“Sorry, I tend to go off on tangents,” He said as he looked down at his hand with a slightly sheepish expression on his face.
“Spencer, it’s okay, you can ramble as much as you like.” Haley smiled at him as she showed him into their living room. They spent a fun evening watching the two Japanese action movies and listening whenever Reid would spout a random fact about either movie. After a while Haley left the two men alone, sensing Aaron wanted to talk to Spencer.
“I know what you’re going to say Hotch. I’m sorry, I know I lost it with Emily and I know everyone is concerned, but its that right there that keeps me on edge. Everyone wants me to fall apart, to give into being the victim so they can come in and play hero. I’m not doing what they want me to do and its frustrating their hero complexes. I know I have a problem. I’m really trying Hotch but…”
“But what Spencer?” He didn’t want to play hero to Reid, he genuinely wanted to help him. He didn’t want to see the wonderful, intelligent man go to waste. He was more than his brain and sometimes he cursed Gideon for stepping aside.
“Its so hard with everyone watching me. Its hard because…” He bowed his head, shame coursing through him at the thought of his weakness.
“It’s hard because it stills your mind. It’s hard because you’re afraid of that mind and you’re afraid you are going to end up like your mother. Spencer, I don’t see you as a victim, but you are suffering from PTSD. The drugs are not going to make that go away. They are only going to make it worse. Now, Emily hasn’t made a complaint, so nothing will go in your record, but Reid you need more help. I’m here to talk, okay?”
Reid wanted to cry, how had Aaron seen through to his fears? Not even Morgan, his supposed best friend was there for him. How was it that Aaron knew him so well? He didn’t want to dwell on it, so he left it alone for now.
“Thank you Hotch. Thank you for tonight, it was fun,” He said rather quietly.
“Well, for the time being why don’t we make this a weekly thing? We’ll have dinner and watch a couple of movies.” Reid looked confused at first, but he liked the idea so he readily agreed.
Haley had began to resent the weekly presence of the young man at first, but she slowly began to see what Aaron was doing. He was giving Reid another place to belong besides the BAU. After a while she started to look forward to Saturday nights with Spencer. She liked to hear his ramblings and thought he could be very funny when he wanted to be. He surprised her with his physics magic and random facts about the movies they would watch. She saw just how endearing Spencer Reid really could be.
After New Orleans and Spencer missed the plane he was supposed to be on Hotch was getting frustrated, but he also sensed a turning point in the young man. When their next case, an arson case closer to home Reid asked, in his own roundabout way, for help. Aaron let out a small smile and hoped beyond hope that Gideon would finally catch on to all the clues that Reid left for his mentor, yet in typical Gideon fashion he ignored the cry for help.
Hotch did some research into bureau policy about NA meetings. Because of the anonymous nature of the meetings, even if a bureau agent was known to attend, they were protected under the law. So Hotch found information and slid it to Reid along with some paperwork, with a note, If you want someone to go with you, just ask and I’ll be there.
Reid smiled and slipped the information with the note into his messenger bag. When he went up to deliver some files to Hotch he slipped a paper in between, please, was all it said.
So it went that on Tuesday’s Hotch would give Spencer a ride to the meetings, wait for him and they would go to dinner. After a while he felt comfortable going by himself, but they still met up for dinner and to talk. Saturday movie nights continued, but with a lighter heart. That was, until Frank Breitkopf returned to cause havoc in their lives. Till Gideon’s self doubt finally fully manifested itself and he ran. The compulsion to relapse after he found the empty cabin and a letter addressed to him was there, but instead of running off to buy drugs, he ran to Hotch’s where he let himself be cared for.
Hotch also found comfort in the friendship after Haley left. He had suspected the affair months prior, but during his two weeks suspension, then the deciding if he was going to transfer or not the strange phone calls kept coming in. He didn’t confront Haley about it, he didn’t want the fight, he was tired of trying to justify himself to her. He made his ambitions clear to her after leaving the prosecutor’s office and he never lied to her about what he wanted. It just wasn’t worth it anymore if she didn’t want to stand by him. It didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt like hell, it did, but sometimes you just needed to let go.
So, the carpool, the movie nights and dinner on Tuesday’s continued and the friendship only got stronger.