Title: When Life Crumbles, It Gives you a Tony
Series: Romancing Aaron Hotchner
Series Order: 1
Fandom: Criminal Minds, NCIS
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Tony DiNozzo
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Tony DiNozzo, Sean Hotchner,
Summary: Aaron Hotchner’s life crumbles down around him in one single moment. He fights to try to rebuild his life and he isn’t ready for anything knew. Fate has something different in mind, one Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.
Warnings: Depression, Drinking to feel better
Tags: Questionable Paternity, Pre-Slash, Pre-Relationship, Smart!Tony, Tony persues Hotch
Beta: None. No non-consensual Beta
Aaron was sitting in the near dark of his apartment halfway towards getting drunk. He had the DNA results in his hand, and it was killing him. He loved Jack with everything inside him, but Haley hadn’t lied, the boy wasn’t genetically his. Oh, they were related, and that was the other thing that was tearing him apart. His own fucking brother. The golden boy his parents wanted, the screw-up that threw away every single opportunity handed to the little fucker. Aaron wonders why he bared the burden of protecting the little shit known as Sean Hotchner.
Aaron was certainly going to be having words with Sean, and they weren’t going to be kind. He knew how to hurt, to dig in and tear someone apart. Aaron wanted his brother to feel the pain that he was going through. Standing on shaky legs, Aaron knew he needed to stop.
Making his way towards the kitchen, he stopped at a picture that caught his eye. It was him with a two-year-old Jack in his arms, laughing. Through the mild fog of his bout of drinking, he touched a finger to the picture and broke down. Grabbing the frame, he held it to his chest as he stumbled into the kitchen and put his glass in the sink.
Getting to his room, Aaron sank down on his bed, holding the picture close, the DNA results still in his fist, Aaron didn’t care. Jack was his son. He had been the one to catch him when Haley delivered him. Aaron was the one to hold him and clean him up, cradling him as Jack let out his first cries into the world. Sitting up nights when he was sick or teething.
Sure, he admits he wasn’t home as much as he wanted, but that didn’t stop Aaron from being everything to Jack that his father wasn’t to him. Haley was going to have one hell of a fight on her hands. If she thought she could take his son from him, she didn’t remember his time as a lawyer at all. Aaron set the picture on his nightstand, then went and took a shower to clear his head. He didn’t want to spend the weekend shaking off a hangover. He needed to get it together, though the simmering rage was still there, he would bank it for now, but use it when the time was right.
After getting out of the shower, Aaron was more resolved. He took two aspirin and downed a whole bottle of water. The last thing he did before getting into bed was to text his brother.
We need to talk, don’t make me come find you.
The team had a few days down, Aaron had given them a couple of days off. Back to back cases were making everyone tired and off their game. It had taken some maneuvering on Aaron’s part, but thankfully Strauss listened to him for once.
Setting his alarm, Aaron tried to calm his mind before he slipped into a fitful sleep.
His phone ringing woke him before his alarm did.
“Hotchner,” Aaron growled into the phone. He had a headache, and his body felt like crap. He needed a run, but he needed to take care of his almost hangover first.
“I’m in town for a few days. What did you need to see me about?” The biting tone told Aaron that his brother was pissed off. That wasn’t unusual. His brother was always angry. Aaron had tried for a long time to understand, but he was past understanding. His brother had betrayed him, and it hurt worse than Haley doing it. Aaron always knew of her affairs. She thought she had been clever hiding them, but he was a profiler after all.
“Come to my apartment. You don’t want to have this conversation in public.” Aaron’s biting tone should tell Sean just what he was feeling.
“Why are you so pissed off?” Sean bit back at Aaron.
“Just come here. Some things you don’t want to discuss over the phone.” Aaron hung up, then texted his address to Sean.
Standing he went to the bathroom and grabbed some aspirin, and dry swallowed them. He dressed in his running clothes, then made his way to his kitchen, grabbed a bottle of water and downed it. After his stomach settled some, and his head wasn’t pounding quite so bad, Aaron stretched, then left to go on a run.
Aaron got back home about an hour later feeling better than when he had woken up. He still had a headache, but the run had helped him relax and work out some of his frustrations and anger, for now at least. The hot shower helped to sweep away the last vestiges of the previous evening.
By the time he was fixing some breakfast, Aaron was feeling somewhat human again. After his third cup of coffee, there was a pounding on his door. Aaron was surprised that Sean was there so early. His brother was not known for being up before noon.
Opening the door Aaron was not surprised to see a scowling Sean. Stepping away, Aaron let his brother enter, then went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee for him. After handing him the mug, Aaron pointed towards his living room and moved the short distance to the couch.
Aaron didn’t say anything as he handed Sean the crumpled up paper that was the results of the DNA testing. Sean frowned as he read through it. The results were not in gobbledygook, there was a section written out for the layperson. There was no mistaking what they showed.
Sean downed the coffee as he set the paper aside with shaking hands.
“Aaron I can explain….”
“You can explain that you fucked my wife! How, Sean. How do you explain that? I swear, every single time I let you back in, that I trust you again you go and screw up. This time it’s not just a screw-up, is it? You betrayed me. I can’t believe my own brother…” Aaron stood and was pacing the living room.
“You’re right. I did betray you. I…”
“You what, Sean?”
“I came to see you one weekend. To talk. I wanted to try to fix what’s broken between us. I wanted my brother back. But, you were gone on a case, and Haley let me stay in the guest room.”
Sean was looking down at the paper and not at Aaron as he spoke.
“I-I admit that I got high. I wasn’t thinking at all, and I’m not sure what happened, but all I remember was that Haley was there, in the room, almost naked and before I realized what was happening, we had sex. You can’t know how sorry I am, Aaron. I realized what I did and, the guilt kept me away.”
“I don’t think you understand how angry I am at you right now, Sean. You’ve had everything handed to you on a goddamned silver platter, and you throw everything away. But, this? I don’t know how I can forgive you for this. And Jack…” Aaron’s heart clenched in his chest as he thought about the boy that he believed his for so long. “Jack isn’t even mine. You’ve taken that away as well.”
“NO! No, Aaron, I would never take Jack from you. I know how much you love him. Look at me, I am barely holding on taking care of myself. I know you’re angry and you have every right to be. I don’t want to be a father.”
“She’s threatening to keep him from me. Won’t let me see him. I don’t get it, Sean. I don’t get why you can’t get your life together and act like an adult.” The venom in Aaron’s voice he didn’t even try to hide. He was angry and would be for a long time.
“I’ll do whatever you need Aaron.”
Aaron glared at Sean, then tore his gaze away to look out the window at the snow coming down outside. The storm they had been expecting was blowing in, and the weather was matching his current mood.
“Are you willing to sign away your parental rights to me?”
“Yes. Yes, I will. You are Jack’s father, Aaron. Not me. I’m the fuck up as you keep telling me.” Sean slumped back against the couch and Aaron could see the defeatist look on his face.
Aaron sat back down and pushed down on his anger, letting it simmer inside him, but not letting it rule him.
“Sean, I just don’t understand. You’ve had all of these opportunities. A scholarship to a prestigious college to get into Law. It was what you claimed you always wanted. Then you give it up to cook, and while I didn’t get it, you’re good at it. Now…now what are you doing?”
“I’ve been bartending.”
Aaron looked down at the floor and shook his head. He didn’t want to hear Sean’s excuses for why he left yet another job he had potential at. He wanted his brother to succeed and was disappointed by his life choices.
“Monday be at my lawyer’s office.” Aaron pulled a pad from the end table next to the couch and wrote out the address. “We’ll get the papers drawn up then.”
“If you are going to apologize, don’t bother. Be there Monday, or I will find you and drag you there myself.”
“I’ll be there.”
The two brothers didn’t say anything more as Sean stood and walked out. Aaron had not even bothered to stand and show him out. His mind was spinning out of control.
After Sean left Aaron found himself aimless. He decided he needed to get control of his emotions. Grabbing a book off his bookshelf, and making a fresh pot of coffee, Aaron settled down in one of his reading chairs. He pointed it towards the window and watched the snow come down for a while. The gray, cold day fit his mood perfectly. He felt cold inside and wasn’t sure if he was ever going to be warm again.
Sighing, letting the depression settle around him, Aaron took a long drink of his coffee before cracking open the book he had picked out and let himself get lost in the words on the page.
Aaron had full custody, and he wasn’t quite sure how that happened. He also wasn’t sure how Jessica became his ally. Maybe it was confirmation of Haley’s cheating, he wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t going to push the issue. Three-year-old Jack was now fully his.
Haley had supervised visits. Aaron wasn’t going to keep Jack from his mother. He knew she loved him, that was never in question. Aaron hired an Au Pair to help him out, and Jessica also said she would help. Even though he wasn’t genetically Jack’s father, Aaron had been able to show in court how much he loved the boy. Sean giving up his rights went a long way to helping Aaron gain custody. Being the boy’s biological uncle vastly improved his chances. He was still, technically, family.
It had been a tough two months, and Aaron had pulled strings to get his case moved up in the Judge’s docket. He had taken a personal leave of absence to get his own life in order, look for a new house, force the sale of the old one and split the money with Haley. The court also let her keep her car. The divorce was quick, if not a little dirty, but Aaron wanted it over with.
Currently, he was walking with some files in his hands that he wanted more information on but didn’t have time to do it himself. He was going to have Garcia help him out.
Stopping at her door, he typed in the code that unlocked the door. He had his head down reading one of the files and didn’t notice anything different.
“Garcia, I need some information on these files. I’ve flagged the sections I need and what you should look for. Once that is done I have a few more in my office. I’m trying to clean up some of our lingering older files.”
Aaron looked up and completely stopped. The person in the room was not one Penelope Garcia. He didn’t recognize the man sitting at a computer that was across from Garcia’s workstation.
“You aren’t Penelope.”
The handsome stranger looked down at himself, then with a wide grin looked back up at Aaron.
“Nope, still just me.” The stranger held out his hand to Aaron. “Tony DiNozzo, Jr. Senior Analyst, Technically one of Garcia’s supervisors next to you, of course.”
“Right. I’m SSA Aaron Hotchner. Where is Garcia?”
“All I was told was that she would be gone for a while and to fill in for her. I’ve been working with the Crimes Against Children unit for the last few months. My Boss puts me where I’m needed most..”
It took Aaron only a moment to remember that Garcia had needed some personal leave. Something to do with her step-brothers. Aaron had not delved too deep, there was apparently something very emotional going on with his analyst. He had just signed off on the paperwork before coming back from his own leave.
“Where’s Lynch? He usually subs for Garcia when she’s out.”
“Um, not sure what’s going on there. But Chief Walters has him on administrative leave. I’m sure he will talk to me about it later. He wouldn’t give me any more details. So, you need help with some older files?” Tony held out his hands and waited for Aaron to pass them over.
“Yeah, here. I’ve made my notes and annotations. I don’t expect them back right away, but when you’re done, I have another stack. This will be something to work on when we have downtime in the office unless you have another team in the field.”
“Okay, thanks, Boss. I’ve just been looking at cold cases.” Tony took the files and set them on his table. Aaron was impressed that he had his own set-up and wasn’t ruining Garcia’s. He also was leaving all of her decorations alone.
“You like looking into cold cases?” Aaron lifted a brow and tried not to smile.
“I do. You know that there is a lot of investigation techniques that go into analysis. We don’t just sit here and spout facts at you guys. We have to dig and separate the chaff from the wheat. Give you the good stuff, so to speak.”
“I know. And believe me, I appreciate what analysts do for our team. Often it’s a matter of life and death. I can say that it is nice to meet you, Agent DiNozzo. I look forward to working with you.”
“Same here, Boss. Always wanted a rotation in the BAU.”
“Look, much of what we deal with is pretty rough. Just don’t let yourself get too lost in all of this. And, don’t be afraid to come find one of us to talk about anything you see or research.”
“Not much gets to me anymore.”
“Nevertheless, offer stands. Have a good afternoon.” Aaron said his goodbyes and took a deep breath as he turned and walked out of the office. He did not need the attraction.
Getting up to his office, Aaron worked through some of the files that had piled up, set some aside with flags to either be sent back to his agents or to get printouts of the computer investigation part. He didn’t fault Garcia, the often fast-paced nature of their investigations didn’t take into account time to print things out. While the Bureau was slow to move to paperless, having the paper back-ups helped out in court, and if they ever had to defend some of their decisions.
People were in and out of his office all day, some to give him back files, some to talk about pending consults, Dave trying to get him to go out for the evening. Aaron just shook his head at that one. Aaron just politely turned him down, then went back to his files.
“Okay, I have those files done.” Tony was standing in the doorway smiling and holding the stack in one arm, and a cup holder in his other hand. Aaron stood and walked over to him, taking the stack from his arm. “You know, the coffee here is…well let’s just say it is unique.”
“You mean it’s terrible.”
Tony opened his mouth like he was going to say something then snapped it shut. Aaron chuckled as he walked back to his desk and set the files in the middle.
“You don’t need to be nice about it. We do have terrible coffee. It’s why we keep the good stuff stashed away. Only Dr. Reid and I have the key to the cupboard with it.”
Tony’s smile could light up the room, and Aaron knew if the man were going to be there much longer he would be entirely at his mercy.
“Good to know. Here, I wasn’t sure how you liked it, but I figured you could use a bit of a pick-me-up.”
Aaron was shocked. Only Dave or occasionally Spencer had ever brought him coffee. Aaron took the cup that Tony offered, and he smiled.
“You know, you should do that more often.”
“Smile.” Tony leaned in the doorway and sipped at his cup. To cover up his nervousness, Aaron took a sip of the coffee and let out an obscene moan.
“Oh, yeah. Some of the best coffee in Quantico. The place is kind of out of the way, but those of us that stay on base all the time know it. That is pure Mocha Java. Have a buddy in Hawaii that I contacted. He helped hook the cafe up. They only have it between 2 and 5 every day. If they run out before the end of the week, no more till Monday. If you’re really lucky, I’ll bring you the slow drip cold brew one day.”
“You seem to know your coffee.”
“I love good coffee.”
Aaron took another sip as he sat down and mentally cursed Tony. He wouldn’t be able to think about anything else for the rest of the day. Aaron handed Tony the next stack of files and watched the man walk out of his office. He knew Tony was going to be a temptation that he should stay away from.
Every day for the week there was a cup of fresh coffee and some kind of small treat on Aaron’s desk when he got to work. They had not caught a case yet, but Aaron knew that couldn’t last.
In the afternoons, Tony would show up in his office with a Tupperware of food for lunch. Tuesday it was pasta with a brown butter, parmesan, spicy olives, and tomatoes with a side salad. Wednesday had been chicken cacciatore, Thursday was homemade pizza. It was Friday now, and Aaron wondered what Tony had in store. He asked himself if he was being romanced, or if this was something else.
Those lunches were more than just food. They talked about a lot of things. One thing they both had in common was music, though Tony liked his Rat Pack and Aaron liked the Beatles and the Mercy Beat era, they both found things to appreciate in each other’s likes. They also shared a love of detective and spy novels. They had not delved too deep into emotional or personal territory, but Aaron was pleased with how much they really did have in common.
Aaron had just set the next pile of files aside, as well as the cold cases Tony had flagged for him to look over. Aaron was impressed by the information that the analyst had found and started to wonder just what kind of analyst Tony really was. Tony had dug deep to find some of the information he had uncovered. Often it was people, phone numbers, buried police reports, other crimes that connected to the cold case and more.
Aaron was working on a budget report when there was a knock on his door. He looked up and didn’t even try to hide the smile that crossed his face. Tony’s presence was quickly becoming all too familiar.
“Tony, come on in.”
Tony strode in but didn’t have any type of lunch pack with him.
“I want to take you to lunch. Away from the office where we can talk a little more freely.”
Aaron took a moment to look around and knew that there was nothing urgent. Nothing to keep him there. He could admit he was nervous, it may be lunch, but Aaron felt this was a little bit more.
“Alright.” Opening his desk drawer, Aaron pulled out his wallet, keys, badge, and gun. Standing he holstered the gun, attached his badge to his belt, threw on his jacket and was ready to go.
“I’ll drive. I have the perfect place in mind.”
Aaron followed Tony out and ignored the stares at the back of his head. He knew Dave and Spencer, in particular, were wondering what was going on. Aaron turned his head just a bit and smiled. Not waiting for their own looks, he turned back towards Tony.
“I never asked you if you play any instruments. Your knowledge of music is just as nerdy as my knowledge of movies.”
Aaron chuckled and turned his head just a bit to look at Tony.
“I play guitar. I have several at home. I’ve even thought of creating a full music space, but I don’t know.”
“Music is always great to use to come down from. It’s what helps me a lot of the time.”
The two of them were quiet as they rode the elevator to the parking garage. Tony led Aaron to his car. The restaurant Tony took Aaron too wasn’t that far from the base. It was a more upscale Chinese restaurant which Aaron immediately liked.
“This place has the best dim sum lunch. Instead of paying by the plate like most, it’s one price all you care to eat. They push the steam carts around, and you pick out what you want.”
Aaron had only had dim sum a couple of times. Mostly when Spencer came and got him out of the house to try new things.
After sitting, they were served fresh hot white rice, green tea, and a few condiments. There was diced lotus root, as well as other small plates that they could eat with the various dim sums.
“I never knew this place was here.”
Tony smiled as he ordered a couple of steamers of dim sum to begin with.
“Tony, I don’t know what is happening here, but I like you, a lot. Probably more than is healthy for me. I should tell you that I have a son and he means the world to me.”
“Aaron, I know. The pictures all around your desk are a testament to how much you love him.”
“I don’t exactly have the best track record of relationships. My divorce, it’s barely a couple of months over.”
“Aaron, I’m not asking for us to jump into some epic romance here. But, I think if we give this thing a chance, we could possibly have something really good together. I don’t exactly have the best track record either, but I figure if we go into this with both eyes open, we’re ahead of the curve.”
Aaron picked up a crystal shrimp and black mushroom dumpling and popped it into his mouth. The flavors were simple but clean, and it was amazing. He felt for the first time in so long that that cold that had dug itself deep inside him was thawing and maybe, just maybe this thing with Tony could be amazing.