It Only Took Eight Years – Chapters 3 – 5

Second Year

David Rossi, thought Reid. Here was a man, an author he had looked-up to for years. He never thought he’d actually get to meet him. Now that he had, he wished he never did, and now they were working together. It was just that he had a hard time containing his excitement. He hadn’t meant to ramble and push, he just had a harder time than most controlling what he said. Now they were stuck in a police station, sweltering heat outside, and an unsub they couldn’t get a handle on.

Reid was lost in his own thoughts as he examined the crime scene photos and ME reports much more closely.

“Guys, what if this is a Gender Identity Crises?” Reid asked to no one in particular.

“What do you mean Reid?” Aaron asked in his even measured voice.

“Well, when we first looked at these photos we assumed that the genitals were mutilated, but according to the ME and crime scene reports, they were cleanly removed. This indicates that the unsub has a working knowledge of anatomy. Maybe he’s angry at this own identity and hasn’t come to terms with it, so he’s acting out and remaking these men into what he identifies with.”

“And what exactly would that be mister genius?” Rossi said a little more sarcastically than he meant to.

Reid looked at him angrily. How dare this man dismiss his theory so easily, was the main thought running through his head. “I believe he identifies as a woman but is too afraid to do anything about it, so these men are surrogates for his rage at himself.”

That was the last straw, frustrated with the case, the heat, and trying to fit into a team dynamic took its toll on Rossi and he laid into Reid. The rest of the team just sat there stunned. They didn’t know what to do or what to say. Reid glared at the older man, got up and walked out of the room.

“Guys, can you give us a few minutes?” Aaron’s scowl meant that he was pissed. The rest of the team slowly got up and left the room. Aaron asked JJ to check on Reid to make sure he was okay and then he rounded on Rossi. “Dave, what in the hell was that?  Reid was giving us a viable working theory and you shred the young man?”  Aaron was angry and getting frustrated at his old friend. He noticed how Dave was having a difficult time adjusting to a team dynamic, but he never thought he would take it this far.

“Aaron, come on, what is this kid even doing here? I mean, look at him he looks like he’s still in high school. And these geographic profiles? Really?” Rossi dismissed the value of Reid’s research and theories way too casually for Aaron’s liking.

“Dave,” Aaron said more calmly than he felt, “Reid has been a valuable member of my team for almost three years now. It has taken a while to build up his confidence enough and to feel comfortable enough to give us his theories. He’s brilliant and with him our success rate has increased every year that he’s with us. He’s been through a lot, more than any other Agent should have to go through. If you can’t respect a member of my team, then what the hell are you doing back here Dave?”  Aaron’s anger at his friend was quite evident.

Rossi saw just how angry Aaron was and he felt at least a little guilty, “It’s just, how do you stand it?”

Aaron was confused, “Stand what? ”

“He doesn’t know when to quit. He constantly spouts useless information, rambles on about TV shows that no one cares about and acts like an excited puppy over the smallest thing…”

Aaron couldn’t believe he was seeing this side of David Rossi, one time mentor and friend. “He’s a genius Dave. His mind goes at a mile a minute. And, for your information a lot of times in that useless rambling there is something there. And I think this has more to do with the fact that you are a bit of a hero to him and it’s making you uncomfortable.”

Rossi wanted to protest but there it was. The crux of the problem he had with the young genius. He sighed, “Okay, say you’re right, what do I do about it?”

“Have you tried to actually talk to him?  He’s inquisitive and brilliant and Dave, he just lost one of the most important people to him. Don’t you think Gideon devastated him by leaving like he did?  He’s trying to accept that his mentor is gone and someone new, who he greatly respects, has taken his place. Maybe try cutting him a little slack.”

“Wow Aaron, when did you learn how to punch someone in the gut like that?”

“From you.” He said as he stalked off in search of Reid. JJ told Aaron that he had walked down to a little coffee shop down the street. He had refused anyone’s offer to go with him. Aaron told the team to get back in the conference room and work on the victimology. He also had JJ continue working the geographic profile; she knew Reid’s methods best and trusted her to continue. Then he walked down the street and found the café JJ was talking about.

Aaron got himself some coffee and walked over to the table, brushed his hand on Reid’s shoulder and sat down. He saw that Reid was trying to work though what happened so he just sat with the young man patiently waiting till he opened up. After a few minutes Reid spoke up.

“I know I shouldn’t have walked out…”

Aaron cut him off, “It’s fine. Dave was completely in the wrong here and I’ve already talked to him about it.”

Surprise flashed across Reid’s face. “Hotch…I think he hates me.” He let out a deep breath.

“He just doesn’t understand you Spencer. I think what would help is if you back off slightly. I know he’s a bit of a hero to you and I know how excited you were when he joined, but he’s having a hard time adjusting. He never worked in a team environment before and this is all new to him.”

“I get that, and I know I ramble too much, but Hotch, I think I’m right.”

“So stand up for yourself Reid. That is how you’re going to gain his respect. Fight for your theories and don’t back down. And for what it’s worth, I believe you’re right, that it is a gender issue here so let’s get back to the station and work with that theory.”

Aaron saw the relief in Reid’s eyes, “Thank you.” He took a swallow of his coffee then smiled slightly, “Tomorrow is Saturday. I have movies in my go bag, that is if we’re still here…”

Aaron smiled clasped Reid’s shoulder and said, “Sounds like a plan.” And the two friends settled as they walked back to the station.

Reid tried again to explain his theory that the unsub was in the middle of a gender identity crises and when Rossi started to protest the young agent stood his ground and showed him, through the photos and the ME reports, where he came up with the idea. Dave backed down, for the time being. Later, after they caught the unsub and had records of hormone therapy, cross-dressing and the man’s own diary which all pointed to a gender identity crises Reid held back saying I told you so. Instead he stalked off to the hotel to get some rest.

Some time later there was a knock at Reid’s hotel room door and when he saw it was Aaron, he smiled and let him in.

“So Reid, what movie do you have in store for me tonight?” Aaron asked with a warm smile. In his hands he had brought take-out for the two of them. Neither man wanted to go out drinking, they left that to the rest of the team.

“I took the liberty, I hope you don’t mind.” He said as he put the food on the small table in Reid’s room.

“I don’t mind at all. I brought a movie called Being There it’s this great Hal Ashby directed movie with Peter Sellers as the main character of Chance, who worked as a gardener for a rich man for most of his adult life. He spends most of his life on the grounds and learns most of what he knows from television. The man dies and Chance finds himself put out by the family. He then, through a set of strange circumstances, becomes an adviser to a powerful political man…”

Aaron was just smiling at Reid’s enthusiasm.

“Sorry, its one of my favorite satires, and satire in its truest form of the word being that the movie utilizes humor, and exaggeration to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues…I did it again…”

“Reid, it’s fine. I look forward to it.”  And so they sat next to each other on one of the beds ate take-out and watched a brilliant satirical comedy. At one point Reid yawned and laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder and fell asleep. Aaron didn’t know what to do at first, he felt he should be uncomfortable, but he wasn’t. He wrapped an arm around Reid laid his head back and ended up falling asleep himself.

When Reid woke-up in the early hours of the morning and found himself in bed with Aaron he panicked a little, until he noticed they were still dressed. Aaron’s arm was thrown around his waist and Reid wasn’t sure what to do. Until he chuckled lowly because it was just slightly ridiculous, then he thought about it again and he liked the feel of the older man wrapped around him. He knew nothing could ever happen between them, but he decided that, for this moment, he would just lie there and enjoy the feeling of being cared for.

“Reid,” Aaron woke and noticed how they had ended up, “I ah, I think we need to get up.” Aaron was trying to act as nothing strange had happened. Spencer thought he should be upset, but he wasn’t. He knew Aaron considered him a good friend and nothing more. It wasn’t the older man’s fault that he had developed a crush on his boss.

“I think that’s a good idea.” Spencer got up after he untangled himself from Aaron. He smiled at his friend unapologetically.

“Well, okay then. I’ll just go back to my room and get changed.” Aaron was flustered, but it put him at ease a little that Spencer didn’t say anything. They didn’t talk about what happened but every so often they would catch each other’s eye and chuckle.

On the plane back home Reid got them both some coffee and settled himself next to Aaron, who just smiled at the gesture. Neither said anything as their legs touched just a little, or if Reid’s hand ‘accidentally’ brushed against Aaron’s. Reid just smiled as he read and sipped his coffee.

It would be another few weeks of tension between Rossi and Reid until they were sent to Philadelphia to examine some notebooks and other paraphernalia on a potential unsub. Rossi was quite surprised by exactly how calm and methodical the young agent was while they were going over the items that had been found in a storage unit. He was further impressed when Reid picked up the signature in the missives left by the unsub.

“Reid.” Rossi knew he wanted to apologize for his behavior towards the agent.

“Yes?” Reid asked slightly distracted by the notebook he was going over.

“Look, I want to apologize for my behavior towards you. You’re a good agent and I had no right to treat you like I did.”

Reid looked up from what he was doing. “I didn’t make it easy for you I guess. I just get excited and sometimes I let my enthusiasm get the better of me. You’re someone I can look up to and I…”

Rossi, for the first time, really saw Reid. He saw what Aaron had tried to tell him, the kid was so starved for an older presence in his life and at that moment he hated Gideon for abandoning this bright young man.

“Reid, it’s okay. I didn’t respond well. I could have handled it better. Let’s just start fresh, okay? Hi I’m David Rossi.” He held out his hand, hoping Reid might actually take it.

Spencer smiled wide and in a rare display took Dave’s hand and shook it. “Hi, I’m Doctor Spencer Reid, nice to meet you.”  The two men smiled and then laughed at how ridiculous they were being and it felt good.

“So, electricity huh,” Rossi said and encouraged Reid to go through it with him.

The team noticed the change between the two men and breathed a collective sigh of relief. This was going to make working with them much easier. The two men moved on and easily found balance with each other.

Aaron didn’t say anything, just smiled to himself. He knew he made the right decision to send the two of them to Philadelphia. The team became more cohesive and Aaron felt much better about his old mentor being back in the BAU.

A few weeks later Spencer was at Aaron’s apartment, it wasn’t a Tuesday and it wasn’t a Saturday so Aaron was a little surprised.

“Hey,” Spencer said as he came in carrying some take-out, “I came to see how you were.”

“Spencer, I’m fine. Look, I know I apologized for what happened with Hardwicke,”

“Aaron, you don’t have to say anything more. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I know it can’t be easy.”

Aaron sighed, “It’s not, but I’m coping. It’s realizing that the marriage was failing apart long before now and neither one of us wanted to admit it. I’m sorry that I pulled you into my problems…”

Spencer walked up to Aaron and placed a hand on his arm, “Aaron, it’s okay. You needed a friend and you’ve been there for me more times than I can count, let me be here for you.”

Aaron breathed deep then let it out, “Okay.” And that was all it took. They sat next to each other on the couch and talked about all the things that had happened in the previous few months. Gideon, Rossi and the divorce were the most prevalent topics of conversation. Then there was that physical contact again. Thighs pressed against each other, hands touched, and again Reid leaned down and fell asleep on Aaron’s shoulder, and Aaron didn’t move him.

So it continued, the car rides, dinner on Tuesday’s, movies on Saturday’s and finally the small shared physical touches.

Third Year

Reid had gotten in to DC quicker than Aaron who was being driven back by Morgan. He had stopped at one of their favorite Thai restaurants and picked up some food, then swung by a local bakery and got some pastries for in the morning so Aaron wouldn’t have to cook. Then he made his way to Aaron’s apartment and let himself in with the key Hotch had given him months earlier. He curled up on the couch with some books to help keep himself occupied till Hotch arrived home.

‘Reid.” He felt himself being shaken, he had fallen asleep on Aaron’s couch with a book on his chest.

“Hey.” Spencer looked up and smiled at his friend. “I got some Thai food, it’s easy to reheat. It’s there in the fridge whenever you want it.” He sat up and looked at Aaron, “Are you okay Aaron?”

Aaron sat next to Spencer on the couch. “Yeah, I’m okay, still shaken up, but okay.”

Reid contemplated what he wanted to say to his friend. “I’m sorry about Kate, Aaron. I sensed that she meant something to you.” He looked over at his boss, hoping he hadn’t crossed any boundaries.

“She was a good friend once. And I know what everyone thought. She did look a lot like Haley,” Aaron chuckled lightly. “Nothing ever happened between us but I’ll admit the attraction was there.” He sat back on the couch, head falling back on it he closed his eyes for a moment to settle the feeling of loss that had welled-up. “She will be missed.”

The two men sat in silence for a few minutes when Reid finally broke it. “I can heat up the food if you’re hungry,” Spencer asked.

“Sure, thanks Spencer.” He watched the young man putter around the kitchen and it put a smile on his face for some reason.

“How’s the ear?” Spencer called from the kitchen.

“Um, still a bit painful, but I’ll manage.”

Spencer came around from the kitchen to look at Aaron, “You are going to go see your doctor for that right?” He looked worried for his friend.

Aaron quirked up his brows and looked at Spencer, “I already have an appointment for Monday. What? Are you going to take me to make sure I go Grandpa Reid?”

Reid smirked at Aaron, “Did you just make a joke?” He chuckled at his boss, “You know just for that I might actually do that very thing.” He stood there challenging his friend.

Aaron laughed an actual full laugh and it put a smile on Spencer’s face. “Well maybe I’ll let you.” He teased, but there was an edge of fear in his tone.

Spencer walked over to Aaron with the plate of food and sat down next to him. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Spencer now fairly comfortable with physical touch when it came to Aaron, placed a hand on his unit chief’s leg giving the older man some comfort.

“I’m,” Aaron didn’t want to admit his fears, but if he could confess to anyone it would be Spencer, “Worried Spencer. What if my hearing is bad? What if the doctors won’t let me out in the field again?”

“Aaron, I’m sure you just need to heal. Do you want me to go with you?”

Aaron let out a sigh of relief. Usually he would do this alone, but he decided to let someone in for a change and he was glad that someone was Spencer. “Yes, thank you.”

Reid readily went with Aaron to the doctors and helped him deal with what they told him. Of course Aaron didn’t listen and he insisted on going on the plane when they got The Angel Maker case. It didn’t help when he stood too near the loud equipment that exhumed one of the bodies for them to re-examine, and later when gunshots went off too near him. The ringing in his ear didn’t go away right away and he knew he couldn’t take any chances by flying. He needed to drive back to DC. Rossi was encouraging him to take his time, but without anyone to go with him he didn’t want to do that. Reid, however, offered to go with him. Aaron contemplated for a moment and decided it would be a good idea to have someone keep him company on the drive back.

A few days later Reid had left something for Aaron on his desk, a set of safety earplugs specially designed for his type of injury. Aaron was taken aback at the thoughtfulness and made sure to thank the young genius when he got a chance..

The next few months were quite eventful; a hostage situation Reid and Emily were in almost tore Aaron apart. His best friend was in there for days and there was nothing he could do. When they finally got them out all he wanted to do was to pull Spencer into a hug, but he held back. His stoicism took over, but he still let the young agent know how he felt. A few days after getting back there was a present for Spencer on his desk. Aaron had left him a book that he thought Reid would enjoy.

When Reid stayed behind in Las Vegas to pursue the cold case of Riley Jenkins, Aaron was worried for him. His abandonment issues with his father were clouding his judgment, and Aaron wished that there was something he could do for him. When Reid got back Aaron had found a set of obscure Kurosawa movies on DVD hoping that these would cheer Reid up. When Spencer saw them he smiled and thanked Aaron for his thoughtfulness.

After the Megan Kane case Reid knew what Aaron was going through. Some cases just hit harder than others and for some reason Megan had gotten under Aaron’s skin. Reid wracked his brain trying to think of something to do for his boss when it came to him. He did a case study using Megan Kane and the issues of abandonment and how it affects the family. He dedicated the paper to Megan, hoping to honor Hotch’s wishes that the young woman not disappear or be forgotten. Spencer left it for Hotch to read and his boss was overcome with emotion at the thoughtfulness of his youngest agent.

The Reaper, this affected all of them but Hotch especially. He didn’t make the same deal that Shaunessy made, he couldn’t and The Reaper killed several people on a bus. Aaron blamed himself, second guessing his decision to not take the deal. Rossi talked him down, but a part of him still felt responsible.

“Aaron, none of what happened is your fault. You tell us all the time not to take these cases personally, yet here you are blaming yourself.” Reid watched the play of emotions on his bosses face.

“Spencer, I could have taken the deal,”

“No, you couldn’t have. Your conscience would never have let you and you know it Aaron.”

Aaron took a deep breath, “Your right. We caught him once, we’ll do it again.” Aaron was glad he could talk to someone besides Rossi. Even though he loved Dave as his friend and former mentor sometimes he just couldn’t deal with his smugness. “Thanks Spencer.” He gave the young man a pat on the shoulder.

The present he left this time was more personal, it was Reid’s two year chip with a note that said, “A reminder that no matter how bad it gets, there’s still hope.”

Aaron got up from his desk and went down to Reid’s, “Spencer, you don’t have to…”

Reid cut him off, “I want you to have it. Keep it with you.” Reid smiled as he gathered his things and started to head out.

“I’ll see you Saturday.” He waved at his boss as he left the office.

Aaron returned to his office and contemplated the gift. Reid always had a reason for everything and giving this most personal part of himself made Aaron feel honored.

South Padre Island just off the coast of Texas, a troubled young man who reminded Reid too much of Tobias and how much he had wanted to help him. Reid had been able to compartmentalize the three personalities of the tortured young man so when Adam showed signs of a dissociative personality Reid had tried to help. He was making it his personal mission, his grail even, to visit Amanda, the alternate personality of Adam Jackson, to help ‘her’ release Adam. His last visit he disparaged of ever finding Adam again and couldn’t help that his thoughts turned to Tobias.

It was late when he heard a knock on his apartment door. When he opened it he was surprised to see Aaron.

“Aaron?!, What are you doing here?” Confusion colored his voice.

“I came to check on you. I know this case hit pretty close to home for you. You’ve been there for me so much lately Spencer, I thought I could return the favor.” Hotch smiled as he held up a bag with Ice Cream and another bag with root beer.

“Root beer floats?” Spencer laughed, “At 11:30 at night?” He let the older man in as he shook his head.

“Hey, I can indulge once-in-a-while.” Aaron smiled his brilliant dimple showing smile and it caught something in Spencer’s heart. Of course he would never tell his boss about the crush he had developed. Their friendship was too precious to him.

So it was that they sat and ate the sweet indulgent dessert at almost midnight, comfortable with each other in their silence.

“Spencer, you may never be able to get what you’re looking for.” Aaron had waited till they were both done and sitting back on the worn leather couch.

“Does it mean that I stop trying?” His eyes full of turmoil.

Aaron sighed and took Spencer’s hands in his. “You may never get what you’re looking for Spencer.” Aaron said again hoping to get through to the young man.

The young agent frowned, “And what do you think I’m seeking?” Spencer bowed his head a moment before looking into the concerned face of his boss and friend.

“I think you are looking for some kind of absolution in killing Tobias. I think you’ve drawn comparisons between the two men and you believe that if you bring back Adam that somehow it’ll ease what happened to you with Tobias.” Aaron knew he was treading volatile ground, but he wanted to understand where his youngest agents head was.

Spencer frowned and started to bite his lower lip. “How do you do that? How do you see us like you do?” His leg was bouncing up and down frantically at how deeply Aaron was able to see him.

“Spencer, we’ve spent so much time together over the last three years how do I not know you? I’m not telling you what to do here, but just understand that you may never get those answers you seek. Adam may be gone.” Compassion filled his voice as he squeezed the hands he was holding and pulled back. Spencer felt the loss, but didn’t let it show. Instead he looked at Aaron and saw the compassion and understanding in his face.

“I know, you’re right, but I have to at least try.” He smiled sadly.

Aaron took the glasses into Spencer’s kitchen and put the remnants of their indulgence away. “Well, if you need to talk some more you know where I am. Goodnight Spence.” He patted the young man’s shoulder, walked out the door and went home hoping he had eased the young genius at least a little.

Reid stood in the room looking out the window at his best friends, trying not to worry about what was going to happen to him. The anthrax vial was a deadly dose and Spencer was fully exposed.

“Hotch I really messed up this time.” He looked out and saw the worry on his friends face.

“Reid we need to get you out and to the hospital.”

“No I’m staying right here.” And he did. Spencer eventually figured it out and Dr. Kimura finally convinced him to go to the hospital.

Aaron was trying to keep it together. When he saw Spencer in that lab and heard the worry in the young man’s voice he wanted to reach out, but he knew that what Spencer needed right then was for Hotch to do his job. When he got back to the BAU with the General in tow he excused himself for a few moments.

Aaron knew he needed to keep it together but he needed a little privacy for just a few minutes. He went to his office, shut and locked the door, closed the blinds and worked to get his emotions under control. He sat down heavy in his office chair and silently cried. He went ahead and let himself indulge in the silent breakdown for just a few precious moments. He knew he couldn’t breakdown in front of the group, but he felt like glass, if they lost Reid he didn’t think any of them could come back from that whole. He knew he wouldn’t. A part of him would be shattered and nothing would be able to put those pieces back together. His best friend, a man he cared about greatly was battling for his life and Aaron felt powerless to help. He reached in his pocket and fingered the chip Reid had given him all those months ago. He remembered the words Reid had written and he tried to have hope. What he could do now was find the partner and at least get some justice for the young genius.

Later, after Chad Brown had been caught, the bio-agent locked up, and the cure found Aaron breathed a sigh of relief. He called Haley and Jack to make sure they were okay. He then went home and spent a sleepless night still worrying.

When he got to the hospital the next day and saw Reid sitting up reading he closed his eyes in relief.

“Hey,” he said as he walked into the room.

“Hey yourself.” Reid tried to sit up straighter.

“I brought you some reading material.” Hotch put a stack of books on the sliding tray.

Reid smiled, “Thanks,”

Aaron walked over and pulled a chair closer to the bed frowned and looked hard Spencer. “God Spencer. Don’t do that again.” His voice was thick with emotion.

“Hotch…Aaron, I’m,” he didn’t know what to say, “I’m okay. Dr. Kimura figured out the cure after we found the inhaler. “ Reid wanted to say more, wanted to tell Hotch how scared he really was, to tell him how he felt, to force Aaron to admit his feelings, but he didn’t do any of that. What he did was smile and reassure his friend that he was okay.

When he finally got released from medical leave and was able to go back to work there sitting on his desk was a cup of coffee from his favorite coffee shop with a sweet pastry. Aaron had also left a small gift. It was a pocket watch, but not just any ordinary pocket watch it was a replica of the watch The Master used in the season four finale of Doctor Who. Reid sat back and held it in his hand, emotion overcoming him. He made his way up to Hotch’s office.

“Hotch.” He looked at the watch then at his friend, “This is too much.”

Aaron smiled, “No it’s not.” He then went back to doing paperwork effectively cutting off whatever the young genius was going to say.

So, it continued, the car rides, dinner on Tuesday’s, movies on Saturday’s, the small shared physical touches and now gift giving often at the end of their more difficult cases.

What neither man knew, however, was that one of their toughest years was yet to come.

Fourth Year

Spencer rushed to the hospital as fast as his crutches would allow him. When he saw Aaron in the bed all bandaged, he closed his eyes and tried to calm the frantic beating of his heart.

“Spencer.” Aaron opened his eyes to see the man that had become so important to him over the last few years standing in the doorway.

“Hey, when Emily told me she found you in the hospital.” He frowned as he looked at his friend, his boss. “I swear in that moment I really didn’t care about the Doctor we were trying to protect.” He sat down in the chair next to Aaron. “Then I thought what a horrible person I was being.”

Aaron huffed out a small laugh, though they both knew that this situation was anything but amusing. “When Emily told me you were shot,” Aaron closed his eyes for a moment, “I thought Foyet had gotten to you.” He turned to look at the young genius and something passed between them, something deep and new.

Spencer looked away after a while and cleared his throat, “I um, I’m sorry about Haley and Jack.” He looked like he wanted to cry but he fought back the tears, “I wish,” He swallowed past the lump in his throat unable to continue what he wanted to say.

“Spencer, he’ll be back. I’ll get them back.” But Spencer could see the fear in his unit chief’s eyes.

“I know, and we’re here for you Hotch. I’m here,”

Aaron sadly smiled, “I know Reid, I know.”

Aaron was released from the hospital a few days later with instructions that he wasn’t to go back to work for at least three weeks. Aaron protested, but the Doctors and Spencer had to remind him of the seriousness of his wounds. He was ordered bed rest for the first week with minimal moving around.

Dave was the one who came to the hospital and took both Aaron and Spencer home. Spencer took it upon himself to essentially move-in with Aaron to help him out. The crutches weren’t a hindrance, he could move around fairly easily with them. Aaron of course protested, but between Spencer and Dave giving him the option of either Spencer stay with him or Dave would, he opted for Spencer. Dave would be nosy and intrusive. Spencer would at least respect his privacy.

For the first week Spencer helped him with his bandages, made sure he took the antibiotics properly and made sure he stayed in bed like the Doctor ordered. Aaron also came to find out what a decent cook Spencer was and was secretly glad that the young man was there, though he’d never admit it to anyone.

“What are you doing?” Spencer asked when he found Aaron going over the Foyet files once again.

“I still can’t believe that I didn’t see it,” he said quietly.

“Aaron, you have to get over that.” Spencer took the file from Aaron’s hand. He wasn’t intimidated when Aaron glared at him. “You have to put this aside, at least for now or it’s going to drive you crazy.” He sat down on the bed next to his friend and contemplated what he wanted to say. “Aaron don’t let him play mind games with you. I know how this is messing with your head, but you can’t let it. We will find him and we will get Haley and Jack back.”

Aaron looked at his friend and knew the words were true, but he had been formulating a plan. It was crazy and it was risky but it was what was going to draw the bastard out. He just needed to get Strauss on board.

“Spencer.” He watched the play of emotions on the younger man’s face and felt he owed him something. “Look I have a plan and I need you to trust me on this. It will seem insane to you and everyone else, but please,” He hoped that at least one member of the team would be behind him when the plan slowly started to unfold.

“Aaron I trust you implicitly.” And he knew the minute the words were out of his mouth that they were true.

The next couple of weeks were filled with getting Aaron up and about and to his Doctor’s appointments. The wounds had healed just as the Doctor expected and it was mostly due to Spencer’s brow beating.

“Reid,” Aaron looked over at Spencer as he was driving them back to his apartment.

“Yeah Hotch?”

“I want to thank you, for everything.”

“You don’t have to Hotch, you’re my friend and I wanted to do it.” Spencer smiled.

“Well, anyway it made it not so hard with ah…you there.” Aaron wanted to say more, but he just didn’t know how. Something had changed between them in the three weeks that Spencer was there but he didn’t want to speculate on it. Not now, not when his family was out there and in danger.

Spencer just smiled. Aaron had taken him home and he was a little sad that he’d no longer be spending his time with his best friend. He knew without him there Aaron was going to obsess about Foyet. He also knew that Aaron was going to put whatever plan he came up with into action and he just had to trust his unit chief that he knew what he was doing.

In the end it was Foyet who go the upper hand. When he killed Haley, Spencer’s heart broke for his friend. He thanked god that Jack was okay because if anything had happened to his son Spencer knew Aaron would never have come back from that.

The funeral was solemn and Spencer’s heart was breaking watching Aaron deliver the eulogy. He didn’t know how to help, but he felt that somehow just his presence was help enough. Back at the funeral home, where they were holding the gathering of friends and family Reid waited till Rossi was finished talking with Aaron.

He got up and moved to stand next to Aaron, “I’m so sorry Aaron. I know we’ve all said it a hundred times, but I really am sorry. She took me in when I was struggling and I never got a chance-“ He looked down and tried to stem the tide of emotions threatening him.

“Reid, she knew. She never expected thanks.” He looked over at his youngest agent, “Spencer she cared about you, she’d often ask me how you were. She missed those movie nights, but she understood.” He placed a hand on Spencer’s shoulder.

“I came out here to offer comfort to you and you end up comforting me, how is that right?” They both let out a soft slightly sad laugh.

Just then JJ called to him that they had a case. Reid showed his irritation, “Hotch, I’ll stay if you want me to. I’m still hobbling around with this,” He held up his cane, “I can work with Garcia.”

Aaron thought about it for a moment, he almost said yes but he didn’t, “No, you go. I’ll be okay Spencer.” They looked at each other for a minute as Spencer gave him a sad smile and walked away.

The case didn’t take too long and Spencer was anxious to get back home. He waited a couple of days before he called Aaron to see how he was doing. When he didn’t get an answer he thought he knew where Aaron might be. He decided to take a chance and drove to the cemetery. When he got there he saw Dave talking to Aaron, he laughed quietly to himself at how well the two of them knew their boss. Spencer waited till Dave was gone to make his approach.

Spencer didn’t say anything he just sat down next to the unit chief and quietly contemplated.

“You’re coming back,” Spencer said making it more of a statement rather than a question.

Aaron frowned and looked over at the young genius, “And how do you know that?”

“Because you can’t do anything else, because not to come back lets him win, because you want to show Jack what superheroes are made of.” Spencer turned then to look at Aaron. He saw an amused look on the older man’s face.

“Reid, are you profiling me?”

“No. I just know you better than everyone else, that’s all.”

The silence continued and Aaron was grateful that Spencer always knew what he needed.

“I’m not going to give you all the platitudes that everyone else has because I truly don’t know what you’re going through. However, I am going to tell you a story.”

“Oh, really?” Aaron looked sideways with a confused look on his face.

“I was fourteen it was my first year at CalTech. You can’t truly understand how lonely and scary that really is. I knew it was what I wanted, but again I was in a situation where everyone else was older, more experienced. I met this girl, Shannon, she was seventeen and brilliant, funny and one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known. She kind of took me under her wing, she made me feel not so alone. We became fast friends. I wasn’t the freaky little kid with her and she didn’t even mind my rambling off into tangents.” Spencer stared off into the cemetery gathering his thoughts. Aaron was patient because he knew that Spencer never said anything that didn’t have meaning.

“She was the one that introduced me to Doctor Who. I’d seen an episode here and there, but with my Mom,” He frowned and took a deep breath, “Anyway, she helped me a lot. Besides Ethan she was the first real friend I had ever had.” His eyes misted remembering the girl who helped him so much.

Aaron’s heart was breaking that it took fourteen years for someone to see Spencer as a friend. He just laid a hand on his knee and again waited patiently.

Spencer cleared his throat, “She, ah, she was killed by a drunk driver. He had been drinking all night at this dive bar on Colorado Street. She was out with some friends, dinner, movies that kind of thing. She was crossing the street when he came out of one of the parking garages going the wrong way. She died on the way to the hospital.” Spencer pulled back his tears, this story wasn’t for him, it was for Aaron.

“I know it’s not the same, but I know what it’s like to lose someone close to you. Nothing anyone says makes it go away. With her gone I was alone again and for a long time it hurt. I buried myself in schoolwork because I didn’t have anyone to help me through it. I got to the point where I wasn’t eating properly or taking care of myself and luckily Ethan intervened.” He looked up at Aaron, looking at his face for the first time since he sat down. “But, you’re not me Aaron, you’re not a scared lonely fourteen year old boy. You have people who care, people who will help, if you let us.” He nodded once at his boss and got up and started to make his way to his car.

Aaron watched him go and for some reason what Spencer shared was the most honest and sincere form of help that he had heard in the whole time he was dealing with Haley’s death. He watched the young man limping slowly to his car and made a decision.

“Spencer.” Aaron got up and walked over.

“Yes, Aaron?” Spencer stopped and waited.

“Come to dinner. Jack’s missed you and I think he could use a friend right now.” Spencer smiled and understood the double meaning.

Spencer smiled, “I’d like that.” The two men stood for a while just looking at each other as another bond was formed. The sharing of loss was a powerful thing and they were caught in the wave of their shared grief. Spencer broke eye contact first as he cleared his throat. “I’ll ah, I’ll see you in a little bit.”

“Okay.” Aaron walked to his car feeling a little bit lighter than he had in the weeks before or after Haley’s death.

Aaron, Spencer and Jack had a good evening with each other. When Jack saw Spencer he jumped in the genius’s arms and held on. He cried on Spencer’s shoulder and the young man let him. When Jack finally calmed down they were able to have a nice dinner together.

Jack asked if Spencer could tell him a story and Aaron was more than fine with it. After Spencer got Jack settled and tucked in he came out to the living room to where Aaron was sitting on the couch with his head back and eyes closed.

“Thank you Reid, for being there.” Aaron had opened his eyes and looked at his subordinate with a fresh understanding.

Spencer sat down next to Aaron, “You’re my friend Aaron and nothing is going to change that. We’ve been there a lot for each other.” All of a sudden Aaron leaned in towards Spencer so close that Spencer didn’t move, couldn’t move if he wanted to.

They stayed like that for a long moment the air heavy with their silence, slowly, so very slowly Aaron reached his hand up and cupped Spencer’s cheek, then he continued moving till he laid his lips on Spencer’s kissing him. At first Spencer didn’t know what to do. He’d thought about this, fantasized even, but he knew Aaron was straight and nothing could ever come of it. But here Aaron was kissing him and Spencer didn’t know what to think.

Reid stopped thinking for once and let himself go and let himself be kissed. He responded by kissing Aaron back, and slowly lifted his hand to Aaron’s hair carding his fingers through it and pulling him closer.

Aaron broke off eyes wide. “I ah, I don’t know why I did that.” His breath was shallow. “I’m sorry Spencer-“

“Shh, it’s okay Aaron.” Spencer smiled and leaned towards his boss capturing his mouth slowly deepening the kiss.

Aaron woke in the morning to the feel of someone curled around him. He closed his eyes for a moment. He didn’t regret the evening, but he knew it couldn’t happen again. There were too many complications here at home and at the office. His arms came around the young genius and he pulled him in tight wanting the contact once more before reality set in.

“Mmm, what time is it?” Spencer asked sleepily.

“Just after 6:00.” Aaron looked down at the half-asleep form of his best friend and cleared his throat, “Spencer,”

“Yes, Aaron?” The young man propped himself up on his elbow, his hair tumbling forward messily. Aaron’s heart stopped as he looked up at his youngest agent.

“Last night was-“ Spencer put a finger on Aaron’s lips.

“Aaron, I have no illusions. I know we crossed a line and, well this can’t happen again, but I’m not sorry that it happened. You needed something, someone and I willingly gave. No regrets, okay?”

Aaron closed his eyes happy and sad at the same time for the understanding, “No regrets.”

“Now, I’m going to get up, take a shower, get dressed and go make you pancakes. Okay?”

“Okay.” Aaron smiled sadly. It’s not that he regretted the evening he was regretting his own fears that held him back, it was the pain of losing Haley and the need to focus on Jack. No, he’d never regret that he had found a healing peace for at least one night, but he regretted that it was only for one night.

He got up and showered, it was Saturday and he knew Spencer didn’t have to go into the office. He came up behind the genius, wanting to grab him and hold him, but he held back. He just laid a hand on Spencer’s shoulder and sighed.

“Breakfast will be ready in a little bit.” Reid smiled that adorable boyish smile that was so endearing. Jack was still sleeping, so the two men let him. Spencer had the pancakes resting on a tray in the oven while he was getting the rest of the meal prepared.

“So, is this going to be something we don’t talk about, or will it sometimes come up in conversation when we’re alone?”  Reid smiled again and it caught in Aaron’s heart again, but he wasn’t ready to accept it, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be ready to accept it.

“I think we are both mature enough that if it comes up in conversation we’d be able to talk about it.” Aaron took a sip of coffee that he had poured for himself.

“I know you want to ask me, I can almost feel it.”

“You never talk about dating, not like Morgan or sometimes Prentiss does and definitely not like Dave does.” Aaron quirked up a brow as he looked for signs of discomfort from Reid.

“If I told Morgan about my dating life, do you think that he would leave it alone?”

“No, probably not.” Aaron laughed thinking about how Morgan would tease the young man he thought of as a little brother.

“I think the reason we are such good friends Hotch is that we are both pretty private and what we tell each other stays between us, no matter how small or trivial. For example, if I tell you that I am bisexual but lean more towards liking men, you would file it away in that box in your head labeled Dr. Spencer Reid. It wouldn’t go anywhere else. I tell Morgan then he would try to set me up, suggest going to any number of clubs that cater to the gay community or any number of other mortifying or humiliating activities to get me to date more. I do fine on my own, I just don’t advertise it.”

Aaron huffed out a laugh, “So, Reid are you telling me in your own roundabout way that you are bisexual but lean towards men?” He asked playfully.

Spencer smiled towards Aaron, “Yes.” But his tone was serious. “Just, don’t say anything Aaron.”

“I won’t, you know I’d never disrespect your privacy Reid.” Aaron decided to take one last kiss as he grabbed the back of Reid’s neck and pulled the young genius towards him.

When they broke apart, Spencer cleared his throat, “And you Aaron? Are you not 100% straight? Was last night an anomaly?” Spencer asked with all seriousness.

“Yes, Spencer. I am straight, but like I said, I don’t regret anything.” His heart was beating with this unknown feeling which he didn’t want to acknowledge.

Just then they heard the patter of little feet, “Daddy?” Jack looked to see the two men standing there.

“Hey buddy, good morning,”

“Uncle Spencer,” Jack yelled as he ran in the kitchen and grabbed onto Spencer’s leg.

“Hey buddy.” Spencer looked down and ruffled the young boy’s hair. “You want some pancakes?”

“Yay.” Jack bounced on his feet and the two men couldn’t help laughing at his enthusiasm.

“Come on Jack, let’s get you cleaned-up, okay?” Aaron bent down and picked-up Jack to get him cleaned up and changed.

Spencer knew their discussion was done, and he didn’t know if they would ever come back to it. For now though he was content to feed the two Hotchner men, caring for them at a time when they were both hurting and vulnerable.

So, now their relationship included comforting each other in times of need and possibly morning pancakes, along with their dinners and movie nights, the physical touches, carpooling and gift giving.

One thing they didn’t talk about, but each man secretly ached for was the intimacy they had found in the face of horrible tragedy. That one night impacted each man deeply leaving a mark on their hearts, but they both denied it. They denied just how deeply it connected them.