Title: Not a Word Between Them…Until
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Category: AU, Romance
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid
Summary: It started with a drawing sent to Spencer. Three years later they were meeting for the very first time.
Tags: Artist!Hotch, Writer!Reid, LiveJournal Prompt, Never Spoke a Word, To Each Other, Sharing Through Their Art, Pre-Slash, First Kiss, Falling in Love, Internet Famous
Beta: None. No non-consensual Beta
Notes: They’ve been working together for years, competing, complimenting, completing…and they’ve never even met.
Another Live Journal Prompt Meme:
It began with an original short story online that Reid posted before he was anything, a simple story on a site with a pseudonym. Some fan-art posted for it, beautiful and detailed. A breathtaking illustration of what Reid’s words had described. So he finds this guy’s page and see’s his amazing artwork and one of them just begs for a story to be told, so he does. And that’s how it begins, I guess. Before long their online back and forth of stories and art began internet famous. And then just famous.
And as they shared bits of their souls without ever actually exchanging dialogue, they fell in love.
Reid sat down at his computer after being in classes all day. He hadn’t known what possessed him to go back to school, though he loved learning, and this new set of classes was wildly out of his norm. He had previously gotten his Ph.D.’s in Math, Science, Engineering and most recently Psychology. He had thought that working in the field of advanced mathematics would have made him happy, but it didn’t. He found himself always doodling a story out on whatever was handy, notebooks, napkins, even the backs of receipts. He did some research and found sites that he could post his stories. At first it was just a few fanfiction stories of Doctor Who, his favorite television show, but lately he had been toying with some longer and admittedly darker stories. He wanted to learn more about the craft of writing, hence the reason for going back to school. What he hadn’t realized was just how much he was enjoying the process. He never shied away from research and knowing that was a big part of writing he eagerly delved right into his classes.
Looking back down at his computer Reid logged into his personal blog where he was sharing his fanworks as well as some of his original short-stories. The first thing he was taken aback by was a comment on one of his Doctor Who stories. When he opened the comment there were no words just an amazing piece of art by someone going by the name of NoirHunter. Reid couldn’t remember the last time his breath actually was knocked out of him. Well, he could but it wasn’t a pleasant memory, the bullies from his past were never things he wanted to think of. When he looked at the picture of the fourth Doctor standing on the edge of a wasteland, scarf wrapped around him and his signature fedora tilted to the side, coat blowing open in the wind and the TARDIS, his spaceship standing, waiting for him, Reid was blown away. The artist had captured in one moment everything he had tried to convey in the story. The thing that really made Reid pause was the expression on the Doctor’s face. In the story he loses his companion and best friend to madness and the Doctor felt the deep pangs of guilt. The artist, NoirHunter, had rendered with such beauty the pain and guilt the Doctor had felt. Reid wondered what he had done to deserve such a gorgeous gift. Part of him wanted to send back a thank you, but a part of him was afraid to. He wasn’t the type to reach out to people but this person had, in their way, reached out to him. He looked for a long-time at the digital painting and considered what to do. Smiling he decided to send the artist a note but all it contained was a series of hearts.
Reid downloaded the artwork and added it to the story on his blog giving credit to the artist and a thank you attached to the artwork. It made him smile every time he looked at it wondering just who NoirHunter really was. But there was a part of him that didn’t want to find out, he liked the mystery of it, at least for now anyway.
Hotch booted up his computer after spending the afternoon working on the panels for the new Broken Streets graphic novel. This time he had his protagonist Derek Morgan on the hunt of a serial killer after a client had come to him about his missing teenage daughter. At the moment he was working on a steamy scene between the detective and his girl the hacker known as ‘The Black Queen’, or as he calls her his Baby Girl. Hotch chuckled to himself as he put the finishing touches on Derek’s skin tone. It was the one thing he had struggled with for a while but found the dark mocha mixed with a little umber did the trick. There were times when he almost wished they were real. The love and affection he put into his characters sometimes made his own heart ache for something like what they had.
He was brought out of his thoughts when he opened his blog to update his fans on the progress of the new book. After that he switched to his DeviantArt account, this one was anonymous but some of his fans of Broken Streets had found him but they were respectful and didn’t out him. He opened his messages and frowned when the first one was a story. There was nothing really personal from the author but Hotch thought that maybe somewhere later in the message there was more. He decided not to worry about it and sat back and read the story. When he was about a third of the way in he narrowed his eyes and took a moment to go through his posted works and found what he was looking for. The artwork was that of cherry blossom trees lining either side of a long path. In the middle of the path was a Japanese woman in full Kimono dress with her Ubi sash flowing behind her. In one hand she held a katana and in the other was the head of a man. On the ground was the body of the man she killed. The picture was graphic and beautiful at once. With the artwork up on one side of the screen Hotch read through the story. It was a tale of vengeance, a woman wronged by her own village, left for dead she was found and taken to the home of a Ronin. He helped her heal and in doing so they fell in love. She bore him a son and they tried to live in peace. One of the men from her village found them, killed the Ronin and was about to kill her and the son as well. The woman had learned from the Ronin and was able to defeat and kill her attacker. Devastated she and the son left their peaceful home and wander the countryside of Japan.
When Hotch was done reading he didn’t realize his own face was wet with tears. The story had moved him so much that he felt for the tragic couple. The story conveyed in words everything he had tried to in his artwork. He copied the story and linked it to the artwork, thanking the writer in a note at the top of his post. He saw that the writer was calling himself 4thDoctorIsMe. Hotch wondered at the handle and had a feeling that there was a double meaning in it. Part of him wanted to write back to the writer but he didn’t, he was intrigued by the mystery and decided to leave it for the time being.
“Spencer, I wanted to thank you for the reading of your new novel you gave this evening. I know how much you really hate these things but I do appreciate you coming out and doing this.”
“Maeve, it wasn’t a problem. You were the first person to believe in me when I was writing that first novel. Who knew it would turn into three. I would do anything for my best friend.” Reid smiled as he gathered up his things ready to head back home.
“Are we still on for Thursday?” She asked as he was putting on his coat and twining his scarf around his neck.
“You know I wouldn’t miss it for anything.” Reid bent down and kissed his friend on the cheek before he grabbed his satchel. When he straightened back-up he looked down and saw the notification of a new comment on his blog. Smiling he opened it up and saw that it was a new piece by NoirHunter. There was a note at the bottom, Original work for you, do with it what you will. And that was all.
What had started almost three years prior as two people sharing their art with each other had turned at times into a competition. He had to admit that he was the one who had started it. He had sent NoirHunter a teaser story, something that was only about five-hundred words, and dared him to come-up with the story in art form. He knew he shouldn’t have prodded but his wicked playful side had taken over. A few days later he was eating his words when he got not one but five panels of a wordless comic that showed in action what the end of his story would have been. It sometimes freaked Reid out that NoirHunter could see past just the words. He saw the emotions behind the characters. He saw their lives and motivations and it made his art all that more amazing.
He remembered the day he got the ping in his e-mail when a new DeviantArt account had been made. It was called NoirDoctor and it was a collection of all of the artwork and stories that had been shared between him and NoirHunter over the course of their first two years. When Reid had looked at it and the body of work he was surprised not just by how much they had pushed each other to be better but how many fans that the two of them had gotten in just a few short days. Fans started sending them banners, podfics and even prompts for stories and artwork. This was one of the things that had pushed Reid to finish his first novel. A detective story about a magician who was also a police detective named David Rossi. The twist was, magic was real. The stories were a darker take on novels like the Dresden Files. He didn’t have Angels or a magician’s council in his novels but he did have Demons, Vampires and other creatures wreaking havoc in New Light City.
Reid came out of his reminiscing and looked at the e-mail again. This was the most communication that he had ever had with NoirHunter. For three years they shared this connection but had never actually communicated with each other. It threw him off to see those words and he couldn’t help the frown that crossed his face.
“Spencer, you okay?” Maeve had gently grabbed his arm startling him out of his revere.
“Oh, oh yeah, I’m fine. I just…he sent me an e-mail. Well I always assume it’s a he, you never know when it comes to the internet but still he sent me an e-mail. He’s never done that before. It’s always through our DeviantArt. Never e-mail on my blog. What does this mean?”” He looked-up at Maeve with a little fear on his face.
“Spencer who are you talking about?”
“NoirHunter. He never sends me an e-mail directly. And look. he wrote a note. We never write notes. He’s never said a word to me and I’ve never said a word to him. I just thought it was a, I don’t know, game we played with each other.”
Reid’s heart was pounding as his confusion deepened. He didn’t like change and this was certainly a change. A big change. He slowly sank down in a chair and noticed how shallow his breathing was. He didn’t really know what to do, this had thrown him off completely.
“Spencer, it’s just an e-mail. Don’t you think that maybe he’s trying to end the game? Maybe he wants to actually communicate with you. It’s been what? Two, three years?”
“Three years, four months, sixteen days, and twelve hours,” he said as he looked down at his phone once again. “You really think he wants to communicate with me?”
“Spencer, you two have been collaborating, competing and everything in-between for three years now. Maybe he wants to get to know you finally.”
“What do you mean why?”
“I mean why now? Why like this? Why this sudden change?”
“Well, maybe if you answer back you’d know.”
Spencer bit his lip as he stood up and pocketed his phone. He didn’t say anything more to Maeve as he headed out the door of her bookshop. A mixture of confusion and, if he was honest with himself, joy were warring deep inside him. When he got home he fell into bed and decided he would deal with this sudden communication on NoirHunter’s part in the morning. He didn’t think he had it in him to figure it out tonight he was just too tired. He couldn’t help it though when a small smile creased his lips as he fell asleep thinking of his partner.
Hotch was sitting at the table of La Grande Mer waiting for his brother Sean. He knew that his brother was confused why he had wanted to have a celebratory dinner. When he originally created the NoirDoctor account it was to make it easier for him and 4thDoctorIsMe to share their work. He never expected the page to get fifteen-hundred fans in five days. He also didn’t expect the page would see ten-thousand fans by the end of the month and he was completely floored when at the end of six months they had over fifty-thousand fans. Today, though, was a small celebration. He had decided to create a separate website and mitigated all of their works to it. He kept a few of the newer works on the DeviantArt page but the fan base was becoming too large for the page to handle and if he was going to pay for more space he thought he might as well have a regular website. His friend Kevin had come over to his house one day and helped him build a really nice and easy to maintain personal website.
On the site he created a tab of all the fanwork that was sent to him and The Doctor, as Hotch had started to call him, acknowledging all of their fans. There was also a submission button for anyone to easily send them works of their own if they liked. Hotch was happy with how it turned out and when he got an email with hearts and smiley faces he knew The Doctor approved. It didn’t take long for all of their fans to find them and migrate over to the site, as well as acquiring new fans almost everyday. Their numbers swelled in a matter of days hitting over eighty-thousand hits in one single day. It was becoming so popular that his publisher had approached him with the possibility of doing a coffee table book that was a collection of the top favorite combined works. While he knew he was open to the idea he wasn’t sure how The Doctor would feel. To bridge the gap of their non-verbal communication he sent The Doctor an email with new artwork and the words Original work for you, do with it what you will, and waited for him to respond.
Hotch was deep in his thoughts when he almost jumped at the light tapping on his shoulder.
“Hey, didn’t mean to startle you big bro,” Sean laughed as he sat at the table opposite Hotch.
“I was just thinking,” Hotch bit his lip as he checked his phone, not seeing a response as of yet.
“About your internet boyfriend?” Sean teased.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh come on Aaron. You two have been flirting with each other for three years now. Don’t you think it’s time the two of you actually met?”
“We aren’t flirting Sean. We just have a healthy respect of each other’s works.”
“Three years Aaron. That’s not a healthy respect, that is something much, much more.”
“What are you trying to say?”
Sean sat back and took a long drink of his water before he answered his brother.
“I’m trying to say that I think you’ve fallen for this mysterious writer and are afraid to actually find out who it is. I think you’re afraid to lose whatever it is you have with them. But Aaron, people don’t keep doing what you are if feelings hadn’t somehow developed.”
Hotch picked-up the menu and started to look at it, more to give himself a moment to ponder Sean’s words than anything else. The awful thing was, he heard the truth in them, but he didn’t know what to do about it. In true Aaron Hotchner fashion he deflected and diverted the conversation.
“Did you like the new panels?” Hotch asked as he kept his face buried in the menu.
“I love them Aaron. And I love the new female character and the backstory you sent along with the panels. Did you have a name in mind for her?”
“Emily Lauren Prentiss. It will fit what I have in mind for her. Ex-Interpol agent, her past catches-up to her and Derek steps in to help put a stop to the person after her.”
“I like it. But of course you just changed the subject because you didn’t want to talk about ‘The Doctor’.” Sean used air quotes when he said The Doctor and for some reason this amused Hotch greatly. He couldn’t help the soft chuckle and shook his head at his brother.
“I get it Sean. I do but I don’t know what I want to do about it. After Haley it’s hard to let anyone in.”
“Aaron you need to let her go. That was five years ago. I know you loved her, god I was the one to help you put yourself back together when she died but at some point you have to move on from that. If you think that there’s a possible chance at all, you need to take it.”
“I know you’re right, but it’s hard Sean.” Aaron got quiet for a few moments and put aside all thoughts of his artistic partner. “Why don’t we just enjoy dinner and I’ll tell you my ideas for Prentiss’s storyline. The main crux involves an Irish gunrunner named Doyle and the undercover operation that went sour.” Aaron went on to tell his brother the rest of the story, but his thoughts of The Doctor ran through his head the whole time. He didn’t know how to interpret his feelings for the person. It was a risk to step out of his comfort zone and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to take that risk.
Spencer was frustrated by the scene he was trying to finish for the next book in the Arcane Detective series. Rossi was trying to get information from a demon regarding the series of ritual murders happening in New Light City. Things weren’t going well for the police detective and Spencer pushed away from his desk and paced trying to think of a way to fix the plot hole he had found himself faced with. It didn’t help that he could practically hear David Rossi in his head telling him to sit back down and work out his problem.
Unsettled Spencer picked-up the proposal and contract that Noir had sent him. There were, again, no words exchanged between them but he knew what this was. Some kind of push forward in their relationship. If he agreed to the proposal and signed the contract it meant they would have to actually meet. There would be a press tour, comic conventions, signings at the major comic book stores in key cities, and several art openings. Not only would they meet they’d be thrown together in a fast paced high-pressure situation. He didn’t know if he was ready for it.
Spencer flopped down on his couch and read through everything once again. He saw that someone had already signed and he safely assumed it was Noir. He tried to read the signature to see if he could, at the very least, guess the name, but he couldn’t. The signature was near illegible and most of the contract stuck to their internet handles, but had spaces to add the legal names later on. When he thought it through this was everything. This right here would be the bridge that they would need to break their silence with each other and it would either end in disaster or they would grow closer and express with words what they only expressed in their art. He knew that he was in love with NoirHunter. He wasn’t sure when it happened, maybe it was that first piece of art that had captured so thoroughly the Doctor and the story Spencer had tried to convey. Or maybe it was when he was writing the Japanese assassin story that had turned into a series for almost six-months for them. Noir’s images of the unnamed woman were haunting and beautiful. They spoke to Reid on a level he hadn’t felt in any other artwork. He sat for a long-time contemplating what he wanted to do. Was he ready to take the chance? Taking a deep breath he stood and grabbed a pen and signed his name. Going to the fax machine in his office he sent the papers off to the number provided him in the proposal and now, now was the waiting game.
Hotch was pacing the conference room of the hotel in Chicago. This was it, the big meet and he wasn’t sure if he was ready. Nerves were flowing off him in waves and his publicist, Jennifer, was trying to calm him down.
“Aaron, you know everything is going to be fine, right?”
“I know but you don’t know what a big deal this is for me JJ.”
JJ smiled softly as her blue eyes sparkled with the knowledge of what she knew her friend felt. She laid a hand on his arm trying to calm him down.
“It will be okay Hotch. The two of you may not have communicated in a conventional way, but you have communicated. Your artwork for him is beautiful and it’s different from Broken Streets. You put just a little bit more of yourself into those paintings you do for him.”
“How do you know it’s a him?”
“Just a feeling. The way he writes, some of the phrasing he uses is more indicative of a male writer.”
“You would be right, miss?” The tall brunette dressed like a college professor said as he walked into the room.
“Jennifer Jareau, please call me JJ.” She smiled as she held out her hand for him to take.
“Oh, I ah, I don’t shake hands. I’m sorry.”
“It’s quite alright…wait I know you. You’re Spencer Reid. You write the Arcane Detective novels. Oh man I love your character of Rossi and how he keeps trying to romance his police captain Erin Strauss. They are one of mine and my husband’s favorite books to read.”
“Ah, thank you. I appreciate it.” He smiled boyishly as a slight blush crept up his face. Hotch was watching him with fascination. He too had read that series and loved it. But there was something so different about the work that Spencer shared with him, it was like JJ had told him earlier. It was like he put a little more of himself into those stories, like he put little pieces of his soul and laid himself bare for Hotch to find and care for.
Spencer looked up and found the handsome dark haired man looking at him intensely. His heart was pounding fast for he knew immediately who this was. It couldn’t be anyone else.
JJ stepped back from Spencer and looked between the two men who were practically devouring each other with their eyes. She cleared her throat to try to get at least one of their attention but neither man budged. She smiled a small smile and excused herself. When she left the room she closed the door behind her and slipped the do not disturb door hanger over the handle and went to her own room to wait.
“Spencer Reid, I’ve read your books as well. You have do some wonderful characters.” Hotch knew how inarticulate he sounded but he couldn’t believe that the man that went by 4thDoctorIsMe was not only there but he was gorgeous. He had the urge to card his fingers in the younger man’s hair and pull him in for a kiss.
“I’m sorry, I’m at a loss. I don’t know your real name.” Spencer couldn’t break his gaze away though he could feel himself blushing terribly.
“Oh, oh sorry. I’m Aaron. Aaron Hotchner.” Hotch took a few steps forward and couldn’t help himself when his fingers brushed Spencer’s cheek. “I never really expected this day to come.”
Spencer swallowed hard as he leaned into the touch of the gentle fingers on his face. His heart racing as he took that final step towards Hotch. He lifted his own hand and brushed the man’s cheek.
“I never thought we’d be here either Aaron.” Spencer liked saying the name. It felt more natural than he had expected.
Hotch moved his hand away from Spencer’s cheek and he cupped the back of Spencer’s neck. The air of anticipation swirled around them and a moment later Hotch leaned in and gently kissed Spencer.
Reid groaned in the back of his throat as those warm, soft lips pressed against his. A part of him thought that he should be pushing the man away from him but he didn’t, he couldn’t. This felt more natural than it should have. This was the culmination of three years of their non-verbal communication. Neither man knew when or how it had happened but they had fallen in love. The kiss, the soul-searing, toe-curling kiss cemented it for Reid. He loved this man. Loved him more completely and more passionately than should have been possible. Instead of breaking away he wrapped his arms around Hotch’s back and pulled the man in even more and deepened the kiss.
Hotch reluctantly pulled away first and laid his head on Reid’s. “It shouldn’t be possible that I love you as much as I do Spencer. It’s crazy, we haven’t ever said more than ten words to each other but everything we’ve shared It’s like you showed me pieces of yourself all this time.”
“Aaron,” Spencer moaned and smiled because he felt exactly the same. “Your pictures, your art, there were times it made me cry and made me ponder. I wondered who you were but truly it didn’t matter because it was like I was looking directly into your soul. What’s happening here?” He asked as he nuzzled against Hotch’s neck. “This is too fast, but I feel like I’ve known you forever.”
Hotch closed his eyes and breathed deep. He took in Spencer’s spicy scent and it sent little tendrils of lust curling low in his belly. He knew he wasn’t ready for anything physical, there was so much they had to learn about each other still. What he did know was that he was irrevocably in love with Spencer Reid.
“Let’s sit down.” Hotch moved to the couch in the conference room and instead of sitting next to him Reid crawled into Hotch’s lap. He laid his head on the man’s shoulder and closed his eyes. He felt contentment in Hotch’s arms. Those arms pulled him in closer and Reid was loathe to stop him. He sighed as he snuggled in closer.
Hotch chuckled low in his throat at how Reid was snuggling in his lap. Though if anyone asked he had to admit that he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I think, in a strange way, we’ve been leading-up to this. I feel like I know you so well Spencer.”
Spencer turned his head and kissed Hotch again, curling his fingers around his neck he let himself get lost in the feelings. When they broke away yet again they talked. It was like the floodgates had opened up and they learned all those things they hadn’t said to each other. They talked about where they were from, the schools they went to and their families. Reid had already guessed that Hotch’s childhood wasn’t the best but he say in his drawings how much he overcame his family.
Hotch figured out that Reid had been bullied but he didn’t know about Reid’s mother. When he was told about the schizophrenia and how Reid had to commit her Hotch just held him tighter. They talked so much that it became night and still they didn’t want to move.
At one point JJ had come to check on them and smiled at how they were cuddled on the couch talking quietly with their heads close together. She had some food brought in for them. When it arrived she left it on the table with their press packets and itinerary. She also left their key cards for their rooms. Though she had a feeling that only one key was going to be used. She didn’t disturb them the whole time, just slipped in and left the food and other items for them then slipped back out.
Hotch looked up at the table and saw the sandwiches and other food and suggested they eat something. Finally breaking apart they walked to the table and sat down and ate while they looked through the press packets.
Reid was staring down at his then he looked-up at Hotch in shock.
“Wait, you’re Hotch? Like Sean and Hotch? The ones who do Broken Streets?”
Aaron laughed a deep throaty laugh and Reid was unprepared at how that laugh made him very uncomfortably hard.
“Yes, I’m that Hotch. I take it you’ve read the series?”
“Oh god yes. It got me through some tough times later in college.” Spencer picked-up a napkin and dabbled at his mouth to settle him some. “I was stressed out. The Dean was afraid I had taken too many classes at once and was considering cutting them on me. I was getting these really bad headaches. My Mom wasn’t doing well at the sanitarium and finals were coming up. I needed some relief from the pain. Someone I had considered a friend gave me something that helped. It helped a little too well. I got addicted but I realized fairly quickly what it was doing to me and I stopped. It wasn’t easy but I did and though there were times I craved I haven’t relapsed.”
“I’m an alcoholic Spencer. It happened just the first Broken Streets came out. My fiance, we had a terrible fight. I found out she was cheating on me and confronted her with it. She got angry and left the apartment. She got in a terrible accident and died. I had a hard time handling it and the way I did was a bottle. Sean was the one who helped get me out of that, especially since the book was doing so well. I know I put some of that into the story, but I had to. So, we both have things that made us stumble but we overcame it. There is no shame in that Spencer.” Hotch reached across the table and took Reid’s hand holding it.
“Well, its an amazing book. I love Derek and Penelope and for a time they were almost like my best friends. How long do you think you’ll continue it?”
Hotc smiled wide and practically jumped up from the table and pulled out the portfolio he had brought with him.
“I’m ending the series. I think it’s run its course and I have some surprises in store for my readers but the next book will be the last. What I’d like to work on is this. That is, if you like these.”
Reid frowned as he opened the portfolio and saw panels of a new graphic novel series based on Arcane Detective. Reid was speechless as he looked through the panels. His characters were there in a myriad of colors. He loved the one of Rossi in his kitchen with water on for the pasta he had just made and his Police Captain sitting at the bar looking completely disheveled. Hotch had brought his characters to life and he didn’t know what to say.
“Do you like them Spence?” Reid jerked his head up at the nickname. No one had called him that in a long-time.
“I…I don’t know what to say Aaron. These are amazing and yes, whatever it is yes.”
Hotch laughed as he caught the man in his arms when he launched himself at Hotch. “It won’t be for a while because I want to finish the last book but these are a start, that is if you want.”
“Yes, yes I want. I love this idea. And we don’t even have to follow the books, we can make all new stories.” Spencer looked up at Hotch biting his lip, “But we can’t do that so far from each other.”
“Well then you’re just going to have to move in with me aren’t you?”
Spencer was speechless once again.
“I know what you’re going to say, that we’re just barely getting to know each other so I’m giving you the next six weeks to get used to the idea. Then at the end of our crazy tour you will come home with me.”
Reid smiled softly as his heart swelled, “I can agree to that.” Reid leaned in for another kiss and knew that right there and then was the beginning of the rest of their lives together.