Amplification, Season 4 Episode 24.
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i would do anything for emily to be happy forever but . this scene makes me so 🥲🥲😐 why does she get to be keely mendoza’s stepmom
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Criminal Minds (US TV) | Jack Hotchner & Spencer Reid, Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid | Spencer Reid, Jack Hotchner, Aaron Hotchner | Established Relationship, Kid Fic, Babysitting, Bonding, Love Confessions
“He’s not going to choke to death,” Reid whispered under his breath. “And if he does, you know how to perform the heimlich maneuver on a toddler. Well… you know the mechanics of it. You know the steps to follow. You just have to follow the steps and then he’ll be fine. He’ll be fine and Hotch won’t have to come to the hospital and he won’t accuse you of trying to murder his son and—”
“Spencer?” Jack called, his little voice questioning. “Pastas?”
“Right.” Reid took a deep breath that filled his chest, counted to ten, and let it out. “Right, pastas.”
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Play it Right
a/n: I’m back! We’re in the single digit countdown to the end of this godforsaken school year aghhhh. So excited I can’t even tell you. Here’s some Hotch being sad but trying to be a good dad. ~3.3k
Hotch & Sean take Jack out for his birthday.
Memories of childhood were hard to come by, often only wisps of faded colors that he couldn’t completely resolve into images. There were light drenched afternoons with disembodied fingers pulling up blades of grass. Other partial scenes where dirt stained knees crawled into dark spaces where the world was cool and damp, following a trail of ants as they slowly dismantled some lifeless form. There was the sickened twist of fascination that accompanied the discovery, watching the way it was transformed from something into nothing with only the help of a few thousand tiny insects. Individually inconsequential in size, collectively a force of nature unstoppable as they reduced the abandoned shell into a small drift of feathers. The pale structure stirred and blown away easily by the air displaced when he reached down to take a single one. He dreamed about the ants coming to him, taking him away piece by piece until there was nothing left but traces of bone dust, dispersed by a midnight breeze. For any other child this would have been a nightmare but to him it was a promise. A promise of order and structure, an indication that time did in fact move forward and wasn’t trapped within stagnated pools hiding in the dim recesses of closets. That it wasn’t a continuous loop of threats and tears, of lies worn so smooth they slipped out of mouths unaware. It won’t happen again. He loves you. I love you.
It was far better to let his memories of childhood be lost. Easy enough to do with no one else who had been present at the time around to reinforce them with retelling. No one else to share with over a drink, bouncing stories back and forth, refreshing the dilapidated structures with a new coat of detail. As he let them dissolve they became defanged, passive enough to believe they were not even about him but possibly a story he’d once read and allowed to mingle with his reality. He had always been told he had a vivid imagination, maybe he could allow that to be true retroactively. It didn’t matter anymore anyway. He was still here and none of them were.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose impatiently. They’d been waiting for Sean for at least half an hour. His brother, never punctual, was cutting it close once again. They were supposed to be taking Jack to the Mets game. Originally conceived by Sean, the idea was floated as a birthday gift for Jack’s tenth birthday—double digits, a big deal for any kid. Somehow this “gift” had become something Hotch had organized entirely, buying the tickets, getting Jack and himself to New York, filling in the rest of the weekend with kid-friendly activities. He’d made it so easy for Sean, all he had to do was show up and he wasn’t even getting that part right. He glanced at his watch again, resisting the urge to double check the time printed on the tickets. It was a baseball game, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they missed the beginning.
He looked at Jack, sitting on the bench, fiddling with the laces of his glove. The glove was a hand-me-down of sorts. He had found it while helping clean out their parents’ house after their mother passed away. Sean swore it wasn’t his but it couldn’t be Hotch’s either, it was for someone right-handed. Plus, he couldn’t pull up any memories connected to it. He’d never been a team sport kind of kid. Too silent, too reserved to fit in with the loud boys who jostled each other playfully and banded together with unnecessary vitriol for the opposing teams. Hotch never understood team rivalries. Of all the many sources of hatred he’d learned, going to a different school didn’t make the list. It didn’t make any sense to create tension, to whip up emotions that had no basis. He knew enough of hate not to go looking for it where it didn’t need to exist.
Rather than argue with Sean about it, he’d taken the glove home and held on to it until Jack was big enough to use it. He wasn’t exactly sure why but he made up a story for it, weaving a collection of happy moments to accompany the time-softened leather. He told Jack the stories he felt he should have had, the kinds of stories fathers should tell their sons. He hadn’t bothered to do this when Jack was younger, hadn’t worried about his son’s perception of the past. But as Jack got older, as life took more and more away from him before he’d even had a chance to be aware of what he had, Hotch felt the need to give him pieces of a family history. He felt they should be stories that would make him feel normal, if that were at all possible with a life like this. Like he was any other kid with parents who were once kids themselves, chasing the same simple joys. He thought it might be comforting, I’ve known happiness and so can you.
Hotch would do anything to make Jack happy and even though it often made him crazy, this meant including Sean in their lives. His relationship with Sean had always been tense. There were several years after Haley’s death, after his absence in the aftermath, when things were beyond strained. Hotch, once he had surfaced enough to feel things, had burned with a white hot anger, tempting him to sever their tie permanently. It was an anger he didn’t trust himself with, strong enough to break through his control without a second’s notice. So he didn’t call, didn’t make the effort he knew was required to pull his brother back into his orbit. He never spoke of it of course but Jessica noticed. She heard Jack asking about his uncle, saw the muscle in Hotch’s jaw jump as he ground his teeth together to keep from saying something he shouldn’t. When she felt enough time had passed, she started to push him in little ways to reach out, to reconnect.
So he’d ended up here, once again, waiting for Sean, unsure if he’d even manage to remember his nephew’s birthday. Hotch was internally cursing his younger brother and considering leaving on the next train with or without him when the younger man appeared. He looked a little disheveled, hair sticking up in odd places, the shirt under his leather jacket not altogether clean. But he was smiling and calling their names, sweeping first Jack and then Hotch into a hug, almost certainly intending to irritate his brother with the uninvited contact. Hotch could smell the beer on his breath and gave him a sharp look. Sean shrugged it off and turned his attention to Jack.
“Alright kid, are you ready for this?” he ruffled the boy’s sandy blond hair as he asked. Jack grinned up at him, nodding his head a little too vigorously. Sean never failed to charm.
Hotch frowned at them. “Come on, let’s get going. We’re cutting it a little close.”
Sean scoffed and made a face at Jack, mimicking Hotch’s serious features, only to stick his tongue out and make Jack giggle. “Relax, it’ll be fine.” He punched Hotch’s shoulder, earning another glare, but they all started walking toward the platform. Hotch followed just half a step behind, keeping a close eye on Jack in the thickening crowd. He watched Sean weave confidently through people, happily becoming the lead adventurer. Hotch, who had regretted this from the moment he’d agreed, felt his stomach twisting on itself, anticipating what kind of unnecessary chaos Sean would lead them into today.
They made it to the ballpark without too much difficulty. With some shuffling, they arranged themselves in the hard stadium seats, Jack between the two men. This checked two boxes for Hotch—in the middle Jack was both protected and protecting him from being too close to his brother. If Sean had been a little tipsy when he’d shown up he could now be considered fully inebriated. He hadn’t stopped drinking beer since they got there. Hotch, already on edge, was exasperated by this behavior. However, his pointed glares got him nothing but a grin and a lifted glass waved in his direction.
Jack didn’t notice, just happy to see his Uncle Sean who was always so fun and wild. He was the only family of his dad’s that he had ever met so there was something extra special about this man, so different from his dad but somehow his nearest relative. Jack was chattering to him about kid things, filling Sean in on all the art projects and field trips and other critical moments of his life. He proudly showed off the glove, talking about how his dad told him of Sean’s skill as a baseball player and how he said he used to go watch his games and cheer him on.
Sean almost spit out beer he laughed so hard at this information. “You’re kidding. Is that the kind of BS your dad is feeding you?” He looked over at Hotch, who might have been trying to literally kill him with the look he was directing his way. “That damn glove was never mine and you know it Aaron.”
Unrelenting in his disapproval, Hotch shrugged slightly, “Maybe I have some of the details mixed up.”
“Details?” He looked back at Jack, “That glove was your dad’s and for some stupid reason he tried to throw it away one day and your grandpa kicked the shit out of him for it.”
“What?” Sean was an expert at faking innocence. Jack was wide eyed, looking between the two adults, not understanding what was happening.
“Can I speak with you?” Hotch’s words were clipped, gritting them out between clenched teeth.
“Oooh Agent Hotchner, yessir,” Sean sat up straight, faking a snap to attention but the effect was lost as he swayed slightly. Hotch pressed lips together and grabbed Sean by the jacket shoulder, pulling him to his feet and pushing him out into the aisle.
“What are you thinking? Why would you say something like that?” Hotch tried not to raise his voice but he was barely succeeding.
“You think it’s better for him to believe in some bullshit you made up?” Sean spat back at him.
“Why not? I’m protecting him. He’s lived through enough, he deserves to have some happy stories.”
“So you lie to him,” Sean said, voice flat.
“It’s not lying.”
Sean wasn’t playing anymore, he was angry, every bit as angry as Hotch. His face was flushed from alcohol and emotion. He looked directly at Hotch, making sure his words sank in. “It is lying, just like you lied to me.”
“I never lied to you,” Hotch protested but the words barely made it out of his mouth.
Sean laughed meanly. “You lied to me every fucking day in that house Aaron. I saw everything, heard everything only for you to turn around and tell me it was all fine, that our dad was a good man.” He paused for a moment, looking down at his clenched fists. “I thought I was fucking crazy.”
“I just wanted to protect you.”
“Bullshit. You were being selfish, just like you are now. You think you can just change the facts and no one will know, that it won’t affect anyone else. I have bad news for you: we don’t all just exist in this world you made up in your head. Jack is a real person, I am a real person. Refusing to admit what was happening didn’t make it any less real, it just meant that I was alone with it. Just a little kid alone trying to understand why someone who was supposed to take care of me would hurt my brother and why, why my brother would lie about it. Did you think I was stupid?”
Hotch didn’t know how to respond, stunned by the bitterness of Sean’s words.
“I’m not going to sit around while you lie to someone else about our shitty father. What’s even the point of protecting him anymore?”
Hotch frowned, “I wanted you to have a normal life, a normal relationship with him. He liked you. I thought if I could keep that side of him away, you could have the kind of father I saw other kids have. I thought I could give you that.”
“You’re an arrogant bastard. Always have been.”
“Please, Sean,” he tried to find more words, some way to make Sean understand. He’d only ever wanted to keep him safe.
“I won’t lie about this Aaron and you shouldn’t either, Jack’s going to learn everything someday, whether you like it or not. Do you want him to be able to come to you? Or do you want him to be afraid, afraid he can’t trust you to tell him the truth?”
Hotch hung his head. “I’m sorry Sean. I didn’t realize—”
Sean cut him off, “I’m done with this.” Clumsily he pulled something out of his pocket. “Here, give this to Jack, tell him I said happy birthday.”
Hotch wanted to ask him to stay but he’d already turned, walking up the stairs, grabbing the railing every once in a while to correct his balance. Hotch looked at the coin in his hand, a Kennedy half-dollar, remembered giving it to Sean on his tenth birthday. It was the same coin his father had given him when he turned 10, just before Sean was born. He remembered the time of his mother’s pregnancy as being particularly bad. His father had been careful with her, solicitous even, trying to ensure that this baby, this wanted baby, would make it safely into the world. But his temper hadn’t gone anywhere, he simply focused it all on Aaron. He'd had to miss a lot of school that fall.
But then, for no reason discernible to him, his father’s mood had shifted a couple months before the baby was due. He started coming home early, bringing gifts for both of them. Some were even wrapped (by the shop clerk no doubt, but wrapped). The glove had been one of these gifts. It hadn’t fit him right but he had said thank you and hoped he could keep this version of his dad around as long as possible. It lasted until Sean was about six months old. The first night his dad came home drunk and angry, yelling at his mom who just stood there holding Sean, too petrified to move away. Seeing that, the frailty and futility in his mother’s stance, he knew that he had to get in between them. He knew then he would do anything he could to protect his baby brother. Sean was the most perfect thing he had ever seen and he intended to keep it that way. He’d done what he could but all he really knew how to do was lie. It was all he’d ever been taught.
The glove became a nightmare that repeatedly came back to haunt him. His dad would go through fits of wanting to be a “normal family.” He would drag them out to the lake for picnics, would insist Aaron play catch with him in the yard. But he was never coordinated enough and it would always end with his dad frustrated and cursing him. When he was thirteen he started to experience overwhelming fits of anger. They came on suddenly, could be set off by anything. His vision would blur and he would feel a desperate need to lash out against the brutally indifferent world around him. During one of these fits, he threw the glove in the garbage, sick of being humiliated by it. Then, the emotion gone as quickly as it appeared, he promptly forgot about it.
Unfortunately, being an angry adolescent did not lead to the smartest decisions. His father found it in the trash and immediately went looking for his ungrateful son. He’d found him with Sean building tiny forts out of sticks in the back yard. Aaron hadn’t even had a chance to remember that he’d thrown the thing away before it was being used to leave marks on his exposed skin. Hotch wondered that Sean could even remember it, he had been so young. He wondered, too, how he could have forgotten, the sting of his failure to protect his brother from that knowledge making itself clearly felt now.
The coin, however, had been a treasured gift, inspiring him to begin a collection that he hid carefully in the back of a drawer. Something he could pull out and remind himself that there had been good moments. That he hadn’t just imagined them. Looking at his coins offered rare moments of peace in the continuous turbulence of the Hotchner household. When he was twenty and Sean only ten, Aaron had felt guilty for not being around as much. The kid had recently lost his father and was living with a quickly deteriorating mother. So he gave Sean the original half-dollar, hoping that his little brother would be able to find the same comfort in it, maybe even develop his own interest in the hobby. Unsurprisingly, coin collecting never caught on with Sean. He was too loud, too rough to spend hours inside, inspecting tiny characters and noticing slight variations in markings. Hotch had assumed Sean had lost the coin years ago, had even felt a little sad thinking about it being lost. Sean was many things but he never failed to surprise Hotch. He shook his head, clearing the lingering thoughts, needing to focus on what he was going to say to Jack. He turned to walk back to their seats.
Jack watched his approach over his shoulder, “Where’s Uncle Sean?”
“He wasn’t feeling well, he said to wish you happy birthday.”
“You made him leave,” Jack’s small face was contorted into an accusing scowl.
Hotch shook his head, ready to commit to this stretching of the truth but he stopped himself. “He was upset,” he started then paused. He really didn’t want to explain this story.
Hotch rubbed the coin with his thumb, “Well, he didn’t like the story I told you about the glove.”
“It isn’t the truth and he thought that it was wrong of me to lie.”
Jack was quiet, thinking about this. Hotch waited patiently for him to process. “What’s the true story?”
He hesitated, “It’s not a very nice story Jack.”
“But it’s the truth?”
Hotch nodded, the muscles around his lungs constricting too tightly to speak. Jack looked too serious for a ten year old. “Then that’s the story I want to hear.”
A mix of emotion spread through him, partly anger at Sean for forcing his hand, but also pride in his son’s strength. He sighed, “And I’ll tell you, but not today ok buddy? Today is about you and about good memories.”
“Ok Dad but you have to promise.”
Hotch smiled, “I promise. Here, Uncle Sean wanted me to give you this, it’s your birthday gift.”
Jack took the offered object and looked closely, trying to figure out what it was. The metal was aged making the words hard to read through the patina. “It’s…old?”
Hotch laughed. “It is very old, you’re right.”
“What is it?”
“Well, do you want to hear the story of where it came from?”
“Only if it’s true,” Jack replied, a little smile revealing that he was teasing his dad. When had he gotten so mature?
“Of course, nothing but from now on,” Hotch held up his hand in mock solemnity. Without warning, Jack leaned over and wrapped his small arms as far as they would go around Hotch, pressing his face into his chest. Hotch hugged him back, thankful that despite everything, every stupid mistake and unforgivable failure, he had managed to get this one thing right.
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Back to the Navy Yard: Part 7
Sypnopsis: Being the daughter of Leroy Jethro Gibbs wasn’t easy, but you made it work …right up until you decide to break away from the “safe” life plan and join the FBI. When your father and the family you’ve made stops talking to you, you find a new one with the BAU. But years later, when murders connected to you and your father start popping up, you’re forced to examine the past along side your fiance and unit-chief Aaron Hotchner, and soon to be step son Jack. Really, your whole world is up in the air.
Notes: Eli David and Jackie Vance are both alive, also the timeline between Ziva and Tony was sped up, because slow burn is only good for so long.
Gibbs' stare is unnerving, but Aaron’s been at the end of a lot of unnerving stares in his life, and in his honest opinion, his own father’s stare was worse. But that was probably due to the fact that a belt had been in his hand and was about to be used. That combined with his years of dealing with the worst humanity has to offer, leaves him feeling fairly calm.
“Ya know, most people would ask a father for their blessing before asking a man’s daughter to marry them.”
“That only applies when the father is involved in his daughter’s life.” That strikes a chord, he can see it in the tic of Gibbs’ jaw.
“You don’t understand . . .”
“I understand better than anyone. I’ve lost a wife before, not just to divorce, but to a
madman. I almost lost my son. I know how easy it is to want to lock a child up and throw away a key in the name of protecting them. I also know it’s not possible. They have free will. They’re their own people. Y/N made her choice, and you couldn’t respect it, so you shut her out. As a result you’ve missed out on a lot of things. Things she wanted you around for.”
They both continue to make eye contact when Aaron quietly says, “She cried for you the first time she had to kill a man. She sat on a bathroom floor, after having to take a shot at someone who was firing at us. It made her sick to her stomach, the knowledge that she killed someone, and she wanted you, and you weren’t there.”
“But you were?”
Aaron straightens a bit, “For a member of my team? Yes.”
Gibbs’ hands go to his hips, “A member of your team?”
“At that point, that’s all she was. Now . . . she’s my everything.”
Gibbs lets out a long sigh before a chuckle follows, “I have a set of rules. A moral code I live by. Got the idea from Shannon. She absolutely hated that I skipped around on my numbers instead of just going in order.
“Shannon was a bit more normal. Kept her rules in a notebook instead of on scraps of paper in a shoe box. Y/N was around eight when she found it. She told me, my rules no longer counted because we have mom’s rules. And mom was brilliant. I couldn’t argue with her about that. Shannon was brilliant. Her first rule was, when you really love someone, you fight for them. She’s been fighting for you since the moment I found out, and she has the same look in her eye Shannon had when she would defend me to her mother or some stranger. I never deserved her.”
Aaron’s lips twitch, “I don’t deserve Y/N.”
“Well, at least you acknowledge it.”
“Every day. And just because you weren’t there for things in the past, doesn’t mean you can’t be there for the things happening now and in the future. She’s put off planning the wedding because she wants you there, wants you to walk her down the aisle, wants you to know Jack and any other grandchildren you might have.”
His eyes go wide at grandchildren, “Is she?”
He shakes his head, “Not yet. She wants to start trying after we’re married.”
He closes his eyes and lets out a deep breath, as though the thought pains him; the trying not the grandchildren. Aaron wonders if he’ll be the same way if he ever gets a little girl. He’s not even sure if he wants Jack to start dating. Hopefully that’s a problem for years from now.
“How about this. Let’s catch the son of a bitch hunting my kid and me, and then we can
deal with the rest of this.”
Aaron crosses his arms against his chest, “You going to try and kill me in my sleep?”
Gibbs looks incredulous, “Try.”
He nodds, “Try.”
He smiles as Gibbs walks away muttering about sarcastic, cocky, not good enough for my daughter, federal agents. Aaron just follows behind.
Jack is curled up in your lap, listening to one of Dwayne’s ridiculous fishing stories, that is in no way real, when your dad and Aaron come in. Your dad is lugging Jack’s toy bag, while Aaron has the others.
In a second Jack is out of your lap and in front of your dad. You watch in amusement as your dad lowers himself to the floor with a soft grunt, and your uncle Dwayne follows. The moment the legos come crashing out of the bag, you slip into the bedroom, Aaron has just entered. You close the door silently behind you, and find Aaron waiting.
You keep your voice at a whisper, “You survived!”
“He threatened to kill me only twice.”
You shrug, “That means he doesn’t despise you. That’s a good thing.”
Aaron lets out a huff through his nose and opens his arms. You dive into the hug pressing your body against his, reassurance flooding through you when he squeezes you tights, and presses a kiss to the crown of your head. “It’s going to be okay.”
You lift your head to look him in the eye,“You know, I actually believe it when you say it.”
He smiles, a real smile, and swoops down to give you a proper kiss, before resting his forehead against yours, he repeats the words, “It’s going to be okay. Our team is going to catch this guy. We’re going to go home. You’re going to rebuild your relationship with your dad and his team. We’re going to get married, and maybe make your dad pay for it if he threatens to kill me again. We’re going to get Jack his baby brother, and maybe if we’re lucky a baby sister, and we’re going to live our lives.”
You press a kiss to his jaw, and then one to the corner of his mouth, “Life rarely works out for us Aaron.”
“It just means we’re due.”
The door bursts open a second later, but Aaron’s arms stay firmly wrapped around you as a giggling Jack runs in launches his body at your legs, “Daddy, Marmee, we’re building a ship out of legos. Come help!”
Your dad’s head pops in, “Yeah. All hands on deck. Boats don’t build themselves,” your dad levels a look at you, “You know that bubba.”
Jack bounces a bit, “Marmee calls me that too!”
Your dad scoops Jack up and over his shoulder, “Yeah. But your mom is the original bubba.”
You look back at Aaron as your dad whisks Jack away, “That’s going to be a dangerous combination.”
“You think he’ll spoil him?”
“I think we’re going to end up with a lot of their completed projects at our house. Mom was trying to talk him into a roll-top desk before she died, maybe we can get them started on that?” He gives you a look and you shrug, “What? It’s better than having to keep a boat in our basement.”
“We don’t have a basement.”
“Exactly, and we don’t want to set up the possibility of us having a boat in the basement, if we ever get one.”
You wave that away, “When you see my dad’s house it’ll make sense.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
By the time you get to the den, Jack has dragged Leon and Dwayne down to help too, and Aaron takes the last available spot on the floor as you settle in the chair. The exhaustion of the past few days, and a lack of sleep is finally catching up with you. But you know, with your boys with you now, the bad dreams and loneliness don’t stand a chance.
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So I’m rewatching the first episode of criminal minds and Hotch is telling baby names to Gideon. He talks about how every name Haley likes reminds him of a serial killer. Yet they named him Jack.... like Jack... the Ripper.
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Okay okay okay okay
-he frickin’ loves theater, right?
-he knows the words to every single one of the Hamilton songs, along with Heathers, Mama Mia, Rent, Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady, all off the top of his head
-the only people on the team that know are Dave and Spencer, and Spencer loves talking about it with him while they’re alone and they both get really excited.
-Dave teases him about it sometimes, but secretly loves indulging him; he even bought him tickets for a Broadway show a few years ago.
-Jack thinks it’s so fucking cool that his dad can RAP (especially to most of the Hamilton songs and Modern Major General)
-And Penelope’s really into theater too, so whenever they go to Rossi’s for a party or whatever, she spontaneously breaks into a Modern Major General and Jack starts singing along with her because he hears his dad singing it all the time
-he begs his dad to start singing along and he does, even though it’s really quiet, and Jack starts dancing like an idiot, so naturally, Penelope joins and suddenly they’re the center of attention and Aaron’s smiling dopily because it’s so cute
-and after a few minutes, the rap part comes up and everyone goes silent because Penelope points at Aaron in an exaggerated cue (because she knew he could do it, even though he ALWAYS denied it) and he takes a deep breath and full-sends it, doing the dance he learned as well just because it makes Jack squeal with delight
-and everyone’s staring at him when it’s over but he doesn’t care because Jack is running up to him and full-on launching himself into his arms. “THAT WAS SO COOL, DADDY! Again, again!”
-Penelope’s laughing like hell and so damn proud of him, and gives him a great big hug. “I knew you could do it!”
-Jack decided to try out for the school play (which just so happened to be the Pirates of Penzance) in sixth grade
-Aaron most definitely started crying as he sat in the audience watching it because he looked exactly like his mom up on the stage
-the whole team was there to support him, but they weren’t able to get seats in the same row, so Aaron ended up practically sobbing into Spencer’s shoulder the whole time (when he wasn’t humming the words to the song because he definitely remembers every single of them)
-Spencer was like, surprisingly good at comforting him
-the whole team brought a rose to give to Jack at the end, and his teacher just gave Aaron a super big smile because she knows about how Aaron and Haley met and Aaron gives Jack the biggest hug and he says he’s squishing him
-the whole team asks for Jack’s autograph on their pamphlets and say they’re gonna need that for when Jack gets famous
Y’all this is the cutest fucking thing I can’t-
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Notes: At 2am, while I tried to finish up the final chapter of My Cup is Empty, I had this stupid thought - what if Morgan got a random call saying he was Hotch's emergency contact while he was in the hospital? Clearly this says a big ol' FU to the whole WITSEC ordeal and just assumes things moved along business as usual after Morgan left. It's just a big old mess of SOFT & SAD with Morgan and Hotch and Hank. (This is platonic, no romantic Mortch here.) Now I have to get back to work on the other story...oops. Title & lyrics from Protector by Massive Attack. I listened to a lot of Massive Attack and Radiohead writing this and it shows.
Warnings: Post-op, cancer/biopsy scare, a little blood, pain. Need whump for fluff.
And I've leaned on you for years
Now you can lean on me
And that's more than love
That's the way it should be
“Is this Derek Morgan?”
Phone calls that started that way were always bad in Derek's experience. He confirmed his identity with some hesitation and waited, listened as the nurse explained the situation and when Hank squawked loudly he blinked, realizing he'd been holding his breath since she began talking. He let it out slowly and smiled at his son, bouncing up and down on his knee, wild curls flying as he threw his head back in the pure ecstasy that only a toddler feels.
“I'll be right there,” he replied, setting his phone down. He smiled again at Hank, bounced him a few more times and told him they had to go see mommy, a simple statement that made the boy squeal with glee and clap his chubby little hands.
He spent a lot of time in the hospital now, but it was almost always for pleasure – he would bring Hank down on Savannah's lunch breaks and they would eat in the cafeteria with mommy, then return to whatever it was they'd been doing prior. Sometimes they would drop her off before running errands and pick her up at bed time, it was like a second home and for the first time in Derek's adult life he didn't feel dread thinking about those fluorescent lights. Until now, as he drove the familiar route, a pit formed in his stomach, an ache that climbed up and settled in his ribs.
“I'm here to see Aaron Hotchner,” he told the nurse at the admitting desk, flashing her his biggest smile, like usual. She glanced at her computer, poked at the keys a few times and gave him a room number without asking questions, without telling him where to go. Just a number and faith that he could find his way because he practically lived there. Hank squirmed in his arms, eager to go see mommy, eager to push all of the buttons on the elevator and wave hello to everyone they passed. Normally Derek would smile back, would interact with his son, but his features were solemn. The room was full of staff when he arrived, doctors and nurses and technicians buzzing around the bed, around Aaron lying there with his eyes closed though Derek doubted he was sleeping. Savannah met him in the hallway and poked at Hank, making incoherent noises at him as she played a quick game of peekaboo around daddy's back.
“Derek?” she asked, breaking him from his trance. He blinked down at her and shook his head.
“Sorry,” he muttered, not sure where his head had gone. “So what's going on? Why did they call me?”
“You're his emergency contact.” She said it like he knew it, but it didn't check out. No, he was sure it had to be an error – it would be Jessica or Rossi, not him. “Nothing happened, this was a scheduled routine procedure, he's okay Derek. It's just that he's being kept for observation after some minor complications with the anesthesia, he'll be here for a few hours and he'll need a ride home so they pulled a name from his file. I guess his ex-wife was still listed...” her voice trailed off for a minute when she saw a shadow cross Derek's face. “I know. It's probably just been awhile since anyone has bothered to call his emergency contact instead of his HCPOA. If you'd rather they call Agent Rossi, I can - “
“No, it's fine. I'm already here.”
She nodded and poked at Hank's nose. “I'm off in an hour, I'll grab Hank and you can stick around.”
“Yeah...okay...” And she wouldn't bother pushing for more. She knew their history, at least from her husband's point of view but he sounded pretty fair about everything, and she'd prodded at him for objective opinions when she could tell his emotions were in the way. Even still, it was their relationship to rekindle or torch as they desired, not hers. She watched as Derek stepped into the now cleared out room, holding his squirming son close, and approached Aaron's bed. Close on his heels, she followed, having offered to help his surgeon with post-op rounds, mostly to keep an eye on the situation. She knew the two of them could be like oil and water and the last thing she needed was to have Aaron agitated post-op.
“Agent Hotchner?” she asked, and Derek looked at her funny, wondering why she would address him that way when he wasn't on duty. He opened his eyes, blinked sleepily a few times, shifted his focus to Derek and Hank for a brief moment before looking back at Savannah. Bright flashes and deep shadows swam in his sight, surrounding the people he could barely make out. Glasses, he needed his glasses, opened his mouth to ask for them but Savannah stopped him, asked him not to speak. “Do you know where you are?” He nodded. Derek turned away, let them talk, focused on Hank – he scooted around the room, showing him all of the cool tools and beeping machines and the television remote.
“Why isn't he talking?” Derek hissed, sidling up next to his wife. He knew Aaron could hear him, almost hoped he'd chime in with some snide comment but nothing happened, he just lay there.
“Do you mind if I fill Derek in?” she asked, turning to Aaron for a moment and he just shrugged and shook his head, and Derek thought he saw a look of relief flash across his features. He was off the hook, he could close his eyes and not worry about thinking. In a hushed voice she explained the procedure he'd been scheduled for and what they'd found when they were in, that they'd decided to alter course and needed to get tissue samples – what had been a simple outpatient procedure became a need for general anesthesia, no time for him to prepare, to get a ride. His doctor had just finished explaining it all to him, and she knew he couldn't have understood it all, sort of hoped Derek would take the reins but the look on his face told her she may have been expecting too much. “What is it?” she asked, and he licked his lips, leaning so close that their faces nearly touched.
“Is it cancer?” he asked, and she bit into her lip, inclining her head toward the door, leading him further away from the bed. Out of earshot. Aaron didn't move, just lay there with his eyes closed, not sleeping. He knew what they were talking about, what those hushed tones meant, it had been all he could think about for weeks to the point of distraction. The haze of the anesthesia was a welcome release from considering his mortality, what would happen to Jack, the guilt.
“That's what they're hoping to rule out, given his family history,” she whispered. “Derek, just be gentle. I know how you can be. Especially with him.”
He wanted to be offended at that but he couldn't, she was right. “What do you think?” he asked, thinly veiled desperation in his voice and that brief flash of vulnerability made her smile, just a little. "Do you think it's cancer? He looks sick, doesn't he?"
“Derek...I think we need to wait for the results, and you need to be a good friend. Don't make him watch ESPN. Don't drink his juice or eat his jello.”
Hank babbled away at Sesame Street on the television, squirming out of Derek's lap every chance he got to trudge around the room, try to pull at cords and get into the garbage bins. He stomped, he roared, Aaron smiled every so often. As the anesthesia wore off, he became more aware of the pain in his throat, shards of glass and doused in gasoline, lit on fire every time he moved. Swallowing took a concerted effort, he'd never been a man who liked spitting but he desperately wanted to just so he wouldn't have to constrict his throat, let the saliva slide through the raw pulp. He let his eyes follow Hank when he'd escape Derek's grip, the sly little grin as he evaded capture, it helped, he didn't pay so much attention to the pain and he hadn't considered the biopsy results since Hank got restless and began terrorizing the room, forcing Derek to chase him around with that stressed dad look on his face, worried that he would break some expensive equipment or somehow hurt Aaron when he rammed the bed.
A nurse came in with an ice pack for his throat, the pressure hurt as she packed it against his skin, made him gag and cough. It was a horrible, wet sounding thing that twisted his face in agony and she reached out, grabbed a handful of paper towels and a small plastic dish, held it to his mouth, letting him spit into it rather than swallow. When she pulled her hand away and wiped at his chin, he could see the blood, bright red and he hoped Hank hadn't been watching.
“So you can't talk huh?” Derek asked, crossing his arms around Hank's midsection, holding him firmly in place. “A whole week of silence outta you?” Aaron nodded, and he wondered if that was a big deal. He wasn't much of a talker in the first place, but he supposed if anyone had any cause to want him to shut up it might be Derek, he'd dealt with him longer than anyone else.
By the time Savannah took Hank he was sleeping in Derek's arms while all three of them watched Cookie Monster sing his ABCs intently. She scooped her son into her arms, kissed Derek on the cheek and said goodnight to both of them, leaving them to sit in silence, never bothering to switch the channel. Aaron hadn't asked again for his glasses, did have any contacts on hand, he couldn't see the television anyway. He would shut his eyes, and Derek had figured out that meant he felt nauseous, something Savannah had warned him to watch for as the pain medication settled in and the anesthesia wore off, but he had to call someone if he thought Aaron might actually be sick, they needed to try to keep him from it if possible. When he closed his eyes, Derek leaned close, told him to breathe, offered him ice chips and ginger ale and it passed without issue time after time.
Aaron's discharge was late, and Derek insisted on walking him into his apartment, unsteady on his feet as he was. There was an odd sense of familiarity there that he wasn't ready to explore yet, it had been a year since they'd last seen one another and it felt like a lifetime had passed between them. When had Aaron gotten so old? When had he? The last time he'd checked, they were just kids, he was sure of it. The silence in the apartment got to him first, and he wanted to ask Aaron where Jack was, why it was so quiet. Aaron beat him to it, though, he'd grabbed a pad of paper and a pen, scribbled out a small note thanking Derek for coming and for the ride, apologizing for the call, ensuring him he'd change his contacts right away and Derek just shook his head.
“You never change,” he muttered. “Keep it the way it is. I got you.” Aaron reached for the pad, started to write again but Derek stopped him, held his hand over Aaron's and eased the pen and paper out of his grip. “You need to sleep. Don't worry about whatever it is you're worrying about...just sleep.” Aaron nodded, defeated. He just stood there staring at Derek for a moment, wondering if Derek would bring up what he knew, what Savannah had told him, but as the silence stretched between them Aaron understood that Derek was going to let him have it, hold on to his private worry for now. His order to stop worrying and sleep was the closest he would get to the entire topic for the night.
Derek left soon after, went home and slipped into bed beside his beautiful wife and spent half of the night thinking about Aaron being alone, no one to share his fears with, no one to reassure him, to lay beside him and let him soak in their warmth.
“I'm gonna spend the day at Hotch's tomorrow,” Derek whispered and Savannah hummed, nodding in that half asleep way.
“Good,” she mumbled against the pillow, and as he opened his mouth to speak again she shushed him, snuggling in closer.
He wasn't sure if 8am was too early, but there he was, Hank in one arm and a carry tray full of drinks in the other. Hank reached out and pushed the doorbell, and then he pushed it again and again and again until they heard the deadbolt click and the door swung slowly open to reveal Aaron, still in his pajamas and robe, a disheveled mess. It was immediately clear that he hadn't slept, and he didn't bother to try and argue Derek's presence, just let the door swing open and padded back to the couch, to his nest of blankets. He knew how this went, it wasn't the first time he was vulnerable and found Derek knocking on his door - protesting was futile. He'd almost been hoping for it this time, he was so lonely. On the coffee table was a mess of pill bottles, some open, some closed, and a glass of water half empty.
“Did you take any of those?” Derek asked, glancing around the room for a safe place to put Hank, somewhere he wouldn't wreak havoc immediately, and decided on a chair at the table, setting his breakfast before him in the hopes he would be distracted enough for a few minutes to eat it. Aaron shook his head, he had tried, was told he could take certain medications and he'd tried but he couldn't swallow them, just ended up coughing them back up into the carpet, into his blankets, into his hands. It had been a lesson in humiliation, even if it was only the walls that saw.
“I told you to sleep. You had one job,” Derek said, crouching beside Aaron's prone form on the couch, curled up now inside of his blankets. He made no attempt at movement, just huddled there miserably while Derek attempted to put lids on all of the bottles and scoop them up, out of Hank's reach. “Savannah says you'll probably get your test results back tomorrow, so I figured I'd just hang out with you until you do. I knew you'd hate it, too...makes it more fun for me.”
Aaron turned his eyes up at Derek that time, tried to force a scowl but it wasn't nearly as intimidating now, buried in blankets.
"You worried about what they'll say?" Derek asked, pressing the last lid on tight. Aaron was still for a moment, closed his eyes briefly, and nodded. Of course he was worried. He'd been sick for the better part of a year, bout after bout of what they called bronchitis but there was always that lingering fear that it was more, and every morning when he looked in the mirror he saw his father's face staring back at him.
Saying I told you so, son. See you soon, son. He could feel Derek's eyes on him, could sense the man trying to decide between serious and silly as a response, and when he opened his eyes and met Derek's, he could feel the other man's concern radiating off of him. "I'm not worried. You're gonna be fine."
The day flew by, Derek and Hank wreaking havoc on Aaron's otherwise tidy apartment. Derek figured out the pill situation, called Savannah and asked if she could get him a prescription for a liquid pain medicine at least because he was miserable and no amount of ice on his throat or popsicles helped. He'd wondered why the rest of the team wasn't beating down the door but found that Aaron had told them he was taking a week of vacation after he'd scheduled his procedure, none of them had any idea what was really going on and as much as he wanted to talk to Penelope about it, he couldn't break that trust. It would kill them to know the fear he was hiding from them anyway, it was better just to keep it quiet. They couldn't handle seeing him fragile, and he would have put on a show for them when he needed to just be lost and vulnerable.
By the time they'd gone for the night Aaron was exhausted and his entire home had been redecorated by a toddler with curious hands, somehow he didn't mind it at all. Just made him miss Jack, wish he had his son there with him while he avoided thinking about his mortality being dangled mercilessly before his eyes. Bone tired didn't begin to describe the way he felt, and when Derek left, he had grand plans to move to his bed but found himself unable to get off of the couch. It took all of his effort just to shift, to take a sip of the ice water Derek had left for him on the table, holding the glass with a trembling hand as if it weighed a ton. The warmth of the blankets and the otherworldly calm the pain medicine gave him were enough to hold him in a trance for much of the night.
In the morning, he was met with the same smiling faces at his door, weighted down with so much gear Aaron wondered if they were planning to move in with him and he greeted them the same way he'd done the day before – barely alive, barely standing, focusing all of his effort on placing one foot in front of the other to make it safely back to the couch. Derek commented that he looked awful, and he thought he might as well look as bad as he felt but he couldn't say a thing, just burrowed back into his blankets and stifled what might have come out as a moan or an exhausted cry, swallowing it deep with his worries and regrets. He'd been awake all night thinking about Jack, about Haley, about Sean and his parents and every time one memory would conclude another found its way in, good and bad mingling as the minutes ticked by on the clock. With a smile, Derek crouched before him and handed him a slushy, neon green and blue swirled together and when Aaron didn't make a move to reach for it, he set the straw to his friend's lips and waited for him to take the bait. He knew there was no way Aaron could hold out forever, not on a slushy. Savannah had told him no hot liquids for a day or two, but ice water and slushies and even ice cream would be good. Hank didn't mind the treats either. By the time Aaron's phone rang, Hank was happily eating his lunch at the table and Derek was seated on the couch beside his friend watching some mindless daytime television. Aaron handed Derek the phone, and at first Derek balked, he couldn't take the call, but Aaron couldn't speak and there wasn't much choice. He wondered what Aaron would have done if he'd not been there. Probably would have talked, wrecked his throat.
He put the call on speaker and they both listened as the nurse gently eased them into the conversation, beginning with the very simple statement that the lesions they found were benign and without any hesitation Derek found himself reaching out and grabbing Aaron's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. The rest was a blur of information about infection, elevated white blood cells, blood pressure, stress, all things Derek was sure Aaron had heard numerous times before as reasons for him simply not feeling well. He didn't take care of himself, he had a terrible work life balance, his job was going to kill him. The call ended and the two of them remained sitting there in silence, Derek's hand still wrapped tight around Aaron's, and he glanced over to see tears streaming down Aaron's cheek. He sniffled, stifled a cough threatening to wreck his throat and squeezed his eyes shut. There was a flood of relief, and something like sadness, and he thought he might be sick.
“Hey,” Derek said, scooting closer. “You're all good. I called it, right?” A few more moments passed, and Derek knew Aaron needed to sleep, thought maybe now that he had his results he might.
“I gotta run a quick errand, Hank needs a nap...you think you could lay down with him?” Aaron regarded him seriously for a moment before nodding. He hadn't taken his pain medication that morning and was regretting it, but he was sharp enough to watch Hank at least. Gently, he helped Aaron up, tugged at Hank to follow them and settled them both into Aaron's bed. Hank rubbed at his eyes, he was so easy to put to sleep they often wondered how they got so lucky and Derek's mother warned them that he'd been a very easy baby as well but he turned into a monster on his 3rd birthday. He sat beside Hank for a minute, singing softly to him while his eyes fluttered closed, his little body relaxing into the warmth of Aaron's bed.
When he returned with some groceries he found them both asleep, just as he'd hoped, Aaron curled into a ball beside Hank who had sprawled his tiny little limbs out like a starfish. Aaron's hand was on Hank's stomach, the sign of a parent, just making sure, sleeping but keenly aware of each breath and each movement anyway. He let them sleep well into the afternoon, and it was Hank that woke first with a squawk and a thump as he rolled off of the bed and leapt to his feet. Aaron followed soon after, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He was met with a hand, outstretched with a glass for him as he entered the kitchen.
“Banana milkshake,” Derek grinned. “In my house, we celebrate good news. I don't know how you do things around here but as long as I'm in charge...” Aaron regarded him sourly, furrowing his brow. He wanted to ask what it was that made Derek think he was in charge but as he reached out and took the glass, sipping the frosty concoction, he relented. It was pretty clear. The cold soothed the burning in his throat, though he found himself longing for something warm, something hot even – a bowl of soup, and wondered if he was allowed, he had tried to read the discharge papers but couldn't manage to focus on the words, was flying blind just letting Derek lead the way. So it was, Derek was in charge. Derek watched him drink his milkshake curiously. “You need something? You look like you wanna say something...”
Indicating the paper and pen on the counter, he invited Aaron over, watched as he scrawled the word SOUP? In big, swooping letters. Derek laughed and nodded. “Yeah, man, I can make you some soup. I brought chicken and stars for Hank, you guys can share it. Savannah said you're allowed some soft food today if you're up to it.”
They came by every day that week, while Aaron was silently moping around his apartment. Aaron ate whatever Hank ate, their diets so closely mimicked one another it was just easier for Derek and he'd be lying if he said he didn't enjoy making his old boss toddler food. Hank had taken to sleeping in Aaron's bed, and Derek's rule was simply that Hank couldn't sleep in there alone so Aaron would have to lay with him and he fell asleep every single time within minutes.
He'd gone from one to two children abruptly, and the small one was better behaved in the long run, he listened better. At the end of the week, Jessica brought Jack back from spending some time visiting cousins and instantly Jack gravitated toward Hank, sitting on the floor, playing peekaboo with him. He couldn't believe how big Hank had gotten, how long it had been since he'd seen him.
“He was like this big when I saw him!” Jack exclaimed, holding his hands comically close together and all of the adults laughed. Aaron felt guilty, he should have called Derek, should have taken Jack to visit, should have been a better friend. Derek probably could have used another father to vent to, to ask questions of, and he'd been MIA. A whole year had passed.
“A year, can you believe it? Saw your ugly mug just about every day for almost twenty years and now it's been an entire year since I last saw you. I'm sorry, man.” Derek verbalized everything running through Aaron's head, like they'd been sharing the same thoughts, except Aaron knew it was on him. Derek was busy being a new father, figuring out what to do with his life without the BAU, it wasn't his job to reach out too.
Aaron was sore, acutely aware of the subtle ringing in his ear punctuating every painful breath through his raw throat. He hadn't been able to swallow his medications in days and his hands ached, stiffness settling into his angry joints. The liquid painkiller they'd given him offered his only release from any of it and it just made him feel soft, pliable, relaxed, not pain free. He felt so old all of a sudden, and he watched from his nest of blankets as Jack and Hank played with the mess of toys Jack was hauling out from his room to the living room. Jessica put her hand on Aaron's shoulder, standing behind him, and he angled his head to look up at her. She raised an eyebrow, a silent question, and he shook his head just a little, and somehow she knew it meant his results were good, he was going to be okay, so she grabbed her glass of water and sat on his other side, resting against him. He may have felt old and useless, but he was flanked by people he loved dearly. It had to count for something.
As Derek prepared Hank to go home, packing up the tornado of toddler things thrown around Aaron's apartment like they'd moved in, he wondered at the strange week they'd had. It struck Derek then that Aaron hadn't said one single word the entire week they were together but it was never a problem, they never did need to talk in order to know what the other needed or was thinking. With Hank in his arms, he bid goodnight to Jessica and Jack while Aaron walked him to the door, blanket draped around his shoulders.
“I've missed you,” Aaron rasped, wincing at the pain. His voice sounded wrong, disconnected from himself. He was disobeying doctors orders, Derek wouldn't tell Savannah, he just smiled. He knew Aaron would have liked to say more, could imagine there was a thank you in there, some kind of you-didn't-have-to-stay thrown in, maybe an apology for taking up so much of his time, but the words he did choose to speak were the important ones. Derek just nodded, pulled Aaron in for a hug with one arm and felt Hank wrap his little arms around Aaron's neck, delivering a slobbery kiss on his cheek and they backed up. He wanted to reply, to tell Aaron he missed him too, they should talk more, he was glad everything was okay, they should go out for a beer sometime but he'd been talking all week, it was his turn to stay silent.
Aaron already knew what he would say anyway.
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Could you do #27 with Aaron pretty please 💜💙💜
I love how this turned out. At home, domestic, dad!hotch is one of my favorites! I hope you like it.
Aaron Hotchner x GN!Reader
Prompt 27: piggy back hugs
Drabble Requests are close, just finishing up what’s in my inbox!
You watch as Aaron runs around the apartment with Jack on his back. The little boy is giggling and hanging on for dear life, as Aaron zigs one way and then zags the other, before turning in a few circles. You can see when the energy starts to go, and he stops by the couch. You get into position, and with a confidence that amazes you and thrills you at the same time, Jack lets go and falls into your arms.
You tickle him for a second before blowing a raspberry on to his belly and making him giggle some more. He returns the favor by smushing your cheeks between his little hands, turning your face, and blowing one onto your cheek. This time, you’re the one laughing. Aaron plops down behind you, and pulls the both of you into his arms.
You’re not quite sure how your boyfriend does it; managing a high stress job, being a dad, and making time for you, but he does. The cuddle session lasts a fe more seconds before Aaron declares its bed time and swoops Jack off for his nightly bed time routine. You kiss Jack goodnight and then step back to give them some father son time.
While they do that you start picking up: righting throw pillows and carrying ice cream bowls into the kitchen, where you start picking up next. You pile dirty dishes into the sink and start putting away the leftovers and condiments. You’re in the middle of wiping down the counters when Aaron comes in. He drops a kiss on the top of your head, and goes to load the dishwasher.
You stop to watch him for a second, before tossing the washcloth to the side. You go up behind him, go up on your tiptoes, and wrap your arms around his neck, giving him a hug. One of his hands briefly covers your clasped ones, before both of his hands sneak back and grab your thighs, before you know it you’re on your own piggyback ride to the bedroom.
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They have it during fall just when the leaves start turning as it’s Spencer’s favourite time of year.
The wedding isn’t held at a venue but instead in Rossi’s backyard because their own wasn’t big enough, they opt out a venue knowing that finding a place to hold a gay wedding in Virginia would be nearly impossible.
Most of the small detailed decorations are hand-made by Spencer, Penelope and JJ. Some of the larger things are made by Derek, Emily, Aaron and Rossi. They don’t end up buying much as far as decorations goes.
Derek’s sisters and mother are very persistent I’m helping with wedding planning which Derek only pretends to be annoyed by.
They buy their suits together but from two different stores as the original place they went didn’t hold anything that Spencer liked. Derek’s suit ends up being closer to a more traditional wedding suit while Spencer’s is more styled to his normal dark academia.
They don’t do the traditional groomsmen and best man thing instead trashing the entire thing and just letting anyone who wants to give a speech to give one.
They have Henry and Jack carry the rings down together (reduce risk of dropping one or both of the rings) while Derek’s two nieces are the flower girls.
Penelope bakes the cake as they had once again run into a gay in Virginia problem- no bakery wanted to make the cake. ￼
The wedding is rather small only having the team, Dereks sister’s, mother, and anyone’s spouses/significant others come. The total of attendees ends up under forty.
For food they have a potluck letting everyone bring whatever they want. The meal ends up being a perfect mix of all of their tastes.
There’s a few speeches given once everyone’s a little bit tipsy, they’re more amusing than anything.
Spencer cannot dance for shit but that doesn’t stop Derek from sweeping the younger man into his arms and dramatically dancing them around.
“I love you, you big doofus.” Is Spencer’s wedding toast much to everyone’s amusement, his vows had been sweet no need for another tangent. ￼
By the end of the night there isn’t a sober person in sight, as all inhibitions had been lost after the kids where put to bed.
They all end up in their typical places after a night of eating and drinking at Rossi’s (at least this time there isn’t a bad case to follow it.)
There is no real honey-moon but they do spend a couple days in Vegas with Spencer’s mom and then a couple in Chicago Derek’s.
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Running in Circles - Chapter 6
Word Count: 4,560
Characters: Female Reader Rossi Character, Aaron Hotchner, David Rossi, Derek Morgan, Spencer Reid, Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Emily Prentiss, Penelope Garcia
Story Description: (Y/N) Rossi is following in her father’s footsteps by joining the BAU team as a profiler. The girl genius knew almost everything but she could have never predicted falling for Aaron Hotchner, her boss and her father’s friend. in their world mutual feelings are not enough to push them together. Will all the adversities and obstacles they face pull them together or push them apart forever?
I do not own in any way Criminal Minds, all credits of the pre-established characters, script, and storyline belong to Jeff Davis and CBS Network.
The only thing I own is Arden Rossi, any upcoming characters, and her storyline, as well as her effects in the others’ story line.
A/N: The domestic fluff that is in this chapter is too overwhelming!! If you enjoy my writing I’ll also be posting them in AO3 and Wattpad along with other stories (I also hope to start taking requests if ya’ll want) Hope you enjoy and all constructive criticism is encouraged.
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The last case we had worked on had been exhausting. Having Agent Ashley Seaver help with this case in New Mexico had not turned out the way anyone had hoped. She had been reckless, and things could have ended very differently for her. Ashley was only a probationary agent, and she had only joined us in this case because of who her father was and the intel she could provide on this type of unsub’s mind. I knew her story well, my father and Hotch being the ones that had caught her father, I had been able to learn all about the Beauchamp case.
I sympathized with her, knowing that her heart was in the right place. But in the field, we needed to let our heads lead because we weren’t just risking our lives but the lives of all our teammates. As we were going back home, Ashley sat at the back of the plane, far from the rest of the BAU members. The poor girl hadn’t stopped crying since we had found her in Drew Jacob’s residence. Derek and Spencer had fallen asleep, Emily was wrapped in a book, and my father and Hotchner had stepped away to talk when I decided to check on the new agent.
“Hi, Seaver,” I announced my presence. The blonde looked up at me and wiped away the tears that had been spilling from her eyes, gifting me a small smile. I sat across from her and returned the smile, trying to provide a sliver of comfort. “How’re you holding up?”
“I’ve been better,” she sighed. “Just beating myself over what I did.”
“I can’t excuse what you did because not only did you put yourself at risk, but you also put everyone at risk. But you are lucky enough that you’re able to learn from this, and I’m glad you were able to walk away physically unharmed from this situation.”
“Thank you, (Y/N).” She smiled, her eyes already bloodshot from the tears.
A throat clearing called out attention as my father sat next to me and Hotch stood beside us. I motioned to leave, but Hotch motioned that I could stay. I knew this was a reprimand, and the young agent was probably shaking in her bones.
“You were not supposed to go off on your own,” Hotch started.
“You could have been killed.”
“I know that, too.”
“Why, Ashley?” Dad questioned. “You’re smarter than that.”
“I never got to apologize to any of the victims. The families of the women my father killed.” She looked down, knowing no excuse would be good enough. “I thought if I could just apologize to one family that had been hurt that way…”
“I’m sorry that’s not good enough,” Hotchner interjected, and she affirmed by nodding her head. “By making that choice, you put everyone at risk. When you’re in the field, we are responsible to and for each other. We are a team.”
“I won’t do it again,” she tried to reassure.
“No, you won’t.” Hotch left, anger evident in his face. But I knew something else was bothering him. I looked to my father and excused myself as I walked past him to check up on our unit chief. My dad nodded and let me through, staying back to comfort the saddened agent in front of him.
Hotch had walked back to the front of the plane, to the small kitchenette that was parted off by a pair of curtains. He rested his weight against the countertop, rubbing his temples to appease the stress-induced headache he was probably feeling.
“Knock, knock.” I peeked my head through the curtains and his eyes softened at the sight of me. “How’re you feeling?”
“Yeah, dreading the paperwork this little hiccup is gonna entail,” he chuckled softly.
“That’s not what I’m talking about, Hotch. We’re coming up on a year.”
He sighed. This was a topic we hadn’t delved into since the event had happened. “I know. Jack has been having some problems, but it’s understandable. He still doesn’t fully understand what happened to Hayley, so he keeps asking about her, and he’s been having constant temper tantrums. It’s just a lot.”
“I’m so sorry, Hotch, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say something?”
“I thought I could do it by myself, you know? As he grew up, I wasn’t there for a lot of the formative moments in his life, and now I’m the only parent he has left,” he sighed. “And I’m trying my best to do it all by myself, Jessica helps around when she can, but it’s still too much. I sometimes feel like he lost the wrong parent.”
“Don’t say that, Hotch.” My tone came out harsher than I intended, but this self-deprecating behavior did not sit well with me. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times. You have been the best father to that little boy, and he loves you so much. It’s only normal that he will ask about his mom, he’s still a kid and can’t fully comprehend that his mom is gone. All he knows is that a year ago he went from seeing her every day, and now he hasn’t even heard her voice apart from videotapes. But that kid loves you so much, and he needs you now more than ever. If you need to take some time to be there for him, do it. You work too hard, and it’s okay to take a few days for yourself and for Jack.”
“It’s not easy to distance myself from the job when it’s who I am. I still don’t know how I did it last year.”
“You know you’re more than your job.” He stared into my eyes, trying to find the truth behind my words. It had always proven difficult for him to identify himself as anything other than the Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner. “You’re a brother, you’re a friend, you’re a father. This job is what you do, not who you are. I told you this last year, and I’ll keep saying it until you believe me, that little boy loves you with his whole being. You are what a real hero looks like. He’s growing and learning to cope with new emotions. He needs your attention right now. So, if you have to take a few days to be with your son, do it. We can handle the unit ourselves.”
“I guess I’m just too hard-headed to believe so,” he chuckled. When he acted this way, I always remembered one of the first times I had met Haley.
Hotch had invited my father and me to their home when I first started working with the FBI. When I had received the invitation, I felt nerves bundle in my body and live there until the day came. When I spoke to my dad about how nervous I felt, he could only laugh at me.
“There’s no need to be so nervous about this,” he chuckled.
“I’m going to go to my boss’s house, in a non-work environment, with his wife and son, and you for backup. I’ve only been here a month, I don’t wanna say or do something that will screw it up.”
“Darling, you’re overanalyzing this. It’s just an old friend asking his friend and his daughter to come over for dinner.” He had said to me. “He’s a different person outside of work.”
And I was able to witness that. The whole time we had been there the aura around him was different. He seemed to loosen up, sharing jokes and funny stories, something I had not seen up to that moment. At some point, he and my father had gone to the kitchen to serve dessert, leaving Haley and me behind – Jack had long gone left to bed. She was staring at the scene in front of us, a smile on her face as she swirled the wine in her cup.
“This is the Aaron I wish he always was,” she spoke up. “Not many people get to see this side of him. This is the man I fell in love with.”
As time went on, I understood what she meant. The Hotchner we knew at work was not the same Hotchner that would go home. Haley died with the hope that one day those two beings would morph and there wouldn’t be a separation of his personality. Slowly, they had started interlocking but there was still a clear divide.
“Head on home, Hotch,” I turned to him after we exited the plane. “I’ll finish the paperwork and send it to you for your signature.”
“I can’t ask you to do that, (Y/N). It’s the weekend, you should go home and rest.”
“I’m fine. I’ll stay overnight, and I’ll rest tomorrow. Go be with your son.”
“Thank you, Rossi. I owe you one,” he smiled.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
We parted ways and I headed to the office, stopping only to get coffee. I would need the caffeine to last tonight. Thankfully, Emily and Derek had volunteered to help me out so that I could finish faster. We had made camp in the briefing room, the cups of coffee steaming in the center, next to a box of donuts.
“Sorry to ruin your weekend like this, guys,” I apologized, feeling very guilty of stomping on any plans they had.
“It’s fine,” Emily reassured. “I was planning a night in with Sergio.”
“My cat,” she laughed. “But really, you don’t have to apologize.”
“Yeah, we’ll always help your lovesick ass with anything,” Derek mocked. Emily joined him in laughter as they snickered at my scowl. “Seriously, you don’t have to bend over backward for him. He’s a grown man.”
“We all need help sometimes, Derek.”
“But there are limits, (Y/N). Are you ever going to tell him how you feel?” I was taken aback by Emily’s question. Right now was the worst possible time to tell him, and I wasn’t planning to tell at any point in the near future.
“What good would it do right now? He’s still getting over Haley’s death; he has Jack to deal with, and I’m fine with just being his friend at the moment.”
“And what’s gonna happen when he does get over Haley and starts dating?” My breath hitched in my throat. I had never thought about that possibility. “Will you still be fine filling in the friend position?”
“I don’t know, Em. But for now, if this is how it must be, then so be it. Let’s just drop it and finish up. Please.”
“We just don’t want you to get hurt, (Y/N).”
“And I appreciate you guys worrying about me, D. One day I’ll deal with it. Just not today.”
The two agents seemed satisfied enough with my answer and delved back into work. I knew they were just looking out for my well-being, and I was thankful, but navigating feelings was something new to me. I knew the textbook methodology of how it could play out, and I had hypothesized the many endings to this situation that I could fathom, but there was still a huge margin of error. I could run everything systematically, but I could never account for human emotion. There was no way to know what kind of reaction I would generate from the unit chief.
A couple of hours had passed when we were finally done with the paperwork needed. Once midnight struck, I had told Emily and Derek to go home, that I would finish anything left by myself. It was a short negotiation, the exhaustion catching up to them. I grabbed all the necessary files and headed to Hotch’s office to fax them over to get his signature.
While I loaded the papers into the machine, the phone in the office went off. I debated for a second whether to answer or not. Given that it was so late at night, no calls should have been rolling in. Against my better judgment, I picked it up.
“SSA Hotchner’s office. This is Agent Rossi speaking.”
“You’re still at the office?”
“Hotch. What are you doing calling so late?”
“I wanted to see if you were still in,” he chuckled softly, speaking in a hushed tone. “Why are you still in?”
“Just got done. I was setting up the fax machine just now so you got the papers in the morning,” I explained. “Why are you awake at this hour?”
“Finally got Jack down like an hour ago. He wanted to keep watching some home videos, but it was already way past his bedtime, so I had to deal with a loud tantrum. It a lot to calm him down.”
He sounded defeated. I could only imagine what he was going through at the moment, and all I wanted to do was be there for him. “Why don’t you bring Jack over and stay the weekend at my place? A change of scenery might be good for you both.”
“I don’t want to impose on your time, (Y/N). You’ve done more than enough.”
“It’s fine, Hotch. I love having you guys over. Seriously, it’s no imposition.”
“Really?” I confirmed. “That’d be great, (Y/N). Jack loves going over there. I’ll come over in the morning.”
“Alright. I’ll get the room ready,” I smiled. “Get some sleep, Hotch.”
“Yeah, you too. Night, Rossi.”
“Good night, Hotch.” I put the receiver back to its place and decided to just take the files home to give to Hotchner tomorrow. If Emily or Derek had been there, I was sure they would disapprove of my decision to have the Hotchner boys over during the weekend.
At home, I went to the room the duo normally took place in. A couple of months ago I had redone the room, putting a built-in bunk bed that would work for both of them. The first time Jack had seen it, his face had lit up. He spent all night running up and down the stairs and jumping on the queen-sized bed that composed the bottom bunk.
I cleaned up in the room, replaced the sheets for fresher ones, left some towels on top of the dresser, laid out some of Jack’s toys on his bed, and running the clothes that were left here on a quick laundry cycle to make sure the weeks old clothes were fresh if they needed. By the time I was done, the clock had hit four-thirty in the morning. Before going to bed for a couple of hours, I washed the day away and laid my head on my pillow.
Sunlight started to shine onto my eyes before I knew it. My hand flew to my face to wipe the sleep away. I was still tired, but Hotch and Jack would arrive at any point in time. I hopped out of bed and went downstairs to put a pot of coffee to run before they arrived. I looked into the fridge, deciding on a bagel for a quick breakfast.
My phone beeped in my pocket. “On our way,” it read.
It would only take a few minutes before they got to my house, so I decided to head to the bakery down the street to have some fresh muffins in the house in case they had yet to eat something. While heading back, Hotch’s car rolled past me.
“(Y/N)!” Jack jumped out of the backseat of the car and ran to hug me, his hands wrapping around my waist.
“Hey, little man!” I ruffled his hair with my free hand and hugged him back. “It’s been a while.”
“Jack, you know you can’t jump out of the car like that.”
“It’s okay, Hotch. He’s sorry. Right, bud?”
“Yeah, sorry, dad.” Jack let go of my waist and took the box of muffins in his hands. “I’ll help you, (Y/N).”
“Thank you, little man.” I smiled at the little kid. “Hey, Hotch.”
“Hi, (Y/N). Did you sleep well?”
“Meh. Can’t tell how long I slept for, but I’m used to it,” I laughed. “Bedroom’s all set up. You have anything you wanna do today?”
“POOL!” Jack screamed out.
“You good with him getting in the pool?”
“Honestly, just anything to tire him out before bedtime,” he chuckled. “It was a really long night.”
“Alright, well, let’s go inside then.”
Hotch followed behind me as Jack enthusiastically opened the door. I was glad he felt at home in my house, comfortable enough to know where everything was. He stood on his tiptoes to be able to put the box on the counter and took a chocolate chip muffin from it. His tiny hands moved back a chair from the dining room table and softly climbed on it before happily munching on the pastry. Hotch also made his way to the kitchen and served himself a cup of coffee, silently watching the actions of his child. I could see he was stressed and tired, caring for a kid on his own could not be an easy task.
“You know if you wanted to go upstairs and sleep, you can. I’ll watch over Jack in the pool.”
“It’s too much, (Y/N). You’ve already done so much already by having us here.”
“Hotch, I’ve already said this far too many times. I truly don’t mind.” I laid my hand on his forearm for reassurance, enjoying the touch. “Go rest. No offense, but you need it.”
“What’re you trying to say?” He laughed.
“Nothing,” I chuckled back. “Just get Jack changed and go to sleep. All the clothes you guys have here are freshly cleaned and in the dresser. The beds have clean sheets and I put the duvet in the dryer this morning so it should be pretty warm right now. There’re towels on the dresser, and you know where everything is, so yeah.”
“Thank you, (Y/N).” Hotch set the mug on the counter and went in for a hug, which I gladly accepted. “Alright, buddy. Let’s go put on your swimming trunks for the pool. Now, (Y/N)’s gonna be looking after you for a bit so you have to listen to everything she says, okay?”
“Yes, daddy. Let’s go!” Jack was now tugging on his father’s arm, the muffin long forgotten on the table. I laughed at the interaction as the tall man let himself be pulled by the small child.
It didn’t take long for the small footsteps to patter down the stairs. The swimming suit Jack had on was light blue with green turtles on them, paired with the turtle floaties that hugged his arms.
“Okay, bud, finish up your muffin while I get changed, okay?” He nodded. “I’ll be right back.”
I hurried up the stairs and changed into a red one-piece, slipping a black coverup on top. Before heading back downstairs I peeked my head into the guest room, the door slightly ajar. I could hear the soft snores that were echoing from the room. I went inside the room to see that Hotch had passed out on the bed. He had managed to get the covers off but had not managed to cover himself with them. The light had been left on and the blinds undrawn. So, swiftly, I closed the curtains, turned off the light, and pulled the blankets to cover Hotch’s body.
“(Y/N), I’m done!” Jack called from down the stairs. Horch stirred slightly, and I decided to exit the room and close the door softly.
I jogged down the stairs to find an excited Jack waiting by the french doors that led to my backyard. “Okay, buddy. Let’s put on some sunscreen first, and then we’ll go outside.”
“I don’t wanna,” he whined.
“But you gotta,” I jokingly mocked. “Now, come on. Arms up.”
He spread his arms out and I sprayed the sunscreen on him, making sure to cover well the exposed skin. Then, I applied some cream sunscreen on my hands and warmed it up between my fingers before applying it to his face.
“Alright, kid, all done!”
“YES! Let’s go,” he exclaimed. He grabbed my hand and waited patiently as I opened the doors.
It was a comfortable day outside, with not much heat or humidity filling the air. Jack already knew where everything was in the house. He made his way to the built-in unit where his water toys were held and ran to the shed, where the pool floats were stored. He also knew on which part of the pool he was allowed to be in, so afterward he made his way to the hot tub that was connected to the pool. The jets were on, but the heater was off – I didn’t have to worry about the temperature.
The little boy wasted no time to get in the water and play around, his imagination running wild. I sat on the edge of the pool, and stuck my legs in, watching with adoration how the kid was playing. There didn’t seem to be an end to the world the boy had in his mind, and it was an entertaining scene to watch. Before I knew it, three hours had slipped by, and lunchtime was getting closer. Jack had gotten out a few times to munch on some snacks, but I could tell he was getting hungry.
“Hey, buddy. What do you think about some burgers for lunch?”
“Awesome! Let’s go inside and you can help me get the things out to the grill, yeah?”
“YES!” He got out of the pool and quickly dried off. He struggled a bit to get the doors open but was successful in his attempts. I followed behind him and walked to the fridge to grab what we needed. As I took the burger bag out of the freezer, Jack grabbed it from the bottom to help out. His little arms could give out any second, so I hurried to grab all the other things we needed.
“Okay, little man. Let’s go back out.” I laid the ingredients I had in my hand on the counter of the outside kitchen before lifting Jack to aid him in placing the bag on the counter. I turned on the frill and started working quickly, placing a plate of chips and a glass of water in front of Jack to subside him while the food was done. “So, what do you wanna watch, little man?”
“Spiderman,” he said excitedly. Across from the island counter he was sat on was a tv, a good distraction while I cooked. “Yay!”
While the burgers cooked, I cut some tomatoes and onions to place on the finished product. Then the doors behind me slid open. Hotch emerged through them, now clothed in swimming shorts and a t-shirt, sleep still sitting on his face. “Good afternoon, Hotch.”
“What time is it?”
“One, close to two. I’m almost done with the burgers if you wanna sit.”
“I’m watching Spiderman, daddy.”
“I see, buddy. Are you having fun?”
“Yeah!” Jack chimed, happiness radiating from him. The past three hours had been a good distraction from the coming anniversary. Hotch walked around the island and sat next to his son, picking at the bowl of chips. Not long after the burgers were done, and I placed everything we needed to form our burgers. Mayonnaise, ketchup, buns, cheese slices, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, all in separate dishes.
When we each had a burger on hand, before we moved to the outside dining table, a pitcher of iced tea sitting in the center. We all happily munched om the burgers, Hotch getting up to grab another, before going into the main pool together. From the outside in, anyone could assume that we were just a happy family enjoying a nice day in the pool – though we were far from it. I couldn’t help but think about what Emily had told me. What would happen if he did start dating before I ever confessed my feelings? And if he did, would that woman be comfortable with the relationship we had?
The hours rolled by as we had fun in the pool, the sun slowly making its descent. We could both tell that Jack’s energies were dying down, the heat and the physical activity catching up to him. As it got darker out, we got out of the pool and dried ourselves off.
“I think I’m gonna order some pizza for dinner while we shower, and maybe watch a movie after. What do you think, Jack?”
“Sounds good,” he yawned. It seemed it would be an early night for all of us.
It was a quick time span that transpired between the phone call to the shower before we were all sat on the couch watching another Spiderman movie and eating pepperoni pizza slices. It only took a couple of bites of a slice before Jack had started to doze off, his head bobbing up and down as he tried his best to stay awake. But tiredness took over him, his head dropping forward. I noticed and softly laid his head on my arm so his neck wouldn’t hurt.
“This is the first time this week he has actually fallen asleep this early,” Hotch whispered, surprised at the sight.
“I call that a success,” I smiled, running my hand across Jack’s hair. “Have you given any thought to taking a few days this week to be with him? Monday’s gonna be a hard day.”
“Yeah, I don’t even know what I’m gonna do,” he sighed. “I don’t know if it will be too hard on him if we go visit her grave. I don’t know.”
“Hotch, whatever you decide it’s what’s gonna be best for both of you. But, no matter what it’s gonna be hard on him. You’re probably gonna get frustrated, but you have to understand that he’s a little kid handling big emotions and it’s gonna be hard.” I looked down at the blond boy who had now snuggled into me, soft snores escaping his lips. “But how are you holding up?”
“Honestly, I’m not as sad as I thought I would be. It’s been a difficult year, but I feel like I should be feeling worse right now. We have been together since high school, and I should still be grieving her.”
“You know grief is not an exact science, for some it takes longer to move past it, for others it doesn’t. That doesn’t take away from the fact that you shared so many years with her and you are hurt from her passing.” I tried my best to comfort, without analyzing him by textbook. “But know that you’ll always have a piece of her with you wherever you go. This little boy right here will always tie you to her. So if you ever feel like you are straying from her memory, all you have to do is look at him.”
“You’re right, (Y/N). And, again, thank you for all you’ve done for us. You’ve gone above and beyond what I ever could have imagined, and you continue to do so. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay this kindness.”
“You don’t need to, Hotch. I’m glad to do this.”
Because if this was the only way to be close to him, I would continue to do it in a heartbeat.
Tag list: @wanniiieeee @obsssedwithjustaboutanything @ssamorganhotchner @catgirlpwr
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@genevievedarcygranger and I are dorks so here is my take on the thing we did together
Fingers stretch up past his throat, a thick arm pushing at the walls of his esophagus. Stretching it until his head is pushed back, lips parting to breathe around the obstruction. The fingers find his brain, wiggling and tearing through the dura mater as if it’s nothing more than jello. His thoughts shift sluggishly to when Jack was just a baby. The beaming sun against his back as he held his son on one knee, watching in horror as Jack smacked and tore through the cake in front of him with chubby grabbing fingers. He can feel those fingers cupping at his brain, making his knees weak and his body light. Aired out thoughts as nothing lays between his mouth and his thoughts. As if he could float away.
Leaning forward on the bench, Hotch presses the heels of his palms into his eye sockets. Post Traumatic Stress, he’s sure Reid would identify easily enough, is crippling him right where he stands. In every little thing that he does. He’d just stepped outside for a book in the yard he left on the chair after watching Jack swing and been hit with such intense panic he’d fallen down into the grass. Couldn’t think or move. Jack had found him hunched over himself pressing his forehead into the warm ground, trying to think past the feeling of his paralyzed lungs.
The park had been their compromise - Jack lives in intervals and the park is a fantastic compromise to easily forget what he’s seen.
“I’m okay,” he whispers, clenching his jaw and focusing on the burn of the sun against his back. It takes an excruciating amount of energy but he lifts his head back up. Settles an unsteady smile and red-rimmed eyes on his son. With a hand that tremors, he cups Jack’s cheek. “What is it, buddy? Want help going across the monkey bars again?”
Jack frowns at him - a face Haley used to love. She’d laugh until she cried, always assuring him that he makes the exact same face. And despite the fact that he’s supposed to be making sure Jack has a normal childhood he’s crying in the park. Thinking about when Jack was so small he fit in the crook of Hotch’s elbow. Flailing asleep in the nursery counting Jack’s little breathes, terrified of what would happen if he walked away. Haley sitting in his lap, the two of them watching the boy they brought into the world together. How Haley had warned him he was going to blink and find he’d lost everything and now he’s sitting on a park bench having taken it all from her.
“Sorry,” Hotch rasps. He rubs his eyes, clearing his throat and forcing his body upright more. “Sorry,” he repeats. “Monkey bars?” He pushes himself up onto his feet, smiling as he offers Jack his hand. Waiting for the boy to grow distracted again by the overwhelming amount of options of things to climb on.
Jack looks over his shoulder to the monkey bars, envy burning his chest as he watches a girl older than him make her way across them. “Yes please,” he chirps, his small fingers wrapping around Hotch’s calloused ones. He beams up at his father, seeing only the man that takes him to the park and cuts his sandwiches into shapes that vaguely resemble dinosaurs. Past the sadness and how tired he is. “One day,” Jack says, pouring his concentration into jumping over the raised edge of the playground. He holds Hotch’s hand a little tighter, giggling when Hotch pulls him up even higher. He lands with a grunt and grins back at Hotch. “One day,” he continues, “I’m gonna be big and strong and --” Jack trips over his feet as he eagerly tears off for the monkey bars. He manages to stay upright. “One day I’m gonna be all growned up, just like you! And then I’m not gonna need no help!”
Hotch nods, following at a slower pace. Between the heat and sweater he’d chosen to wear (to cover the bruises still purpling and angry up his arms) he’s hot and the weakness of his body from too little sleep is draining him rapidly. He knows making it back to the car - a distance of only a few yards - will leave him light-headed and vision hazing. His body aches needs sleep and rest but he has to take care of a four-year-old and both of those things are nearly impossible.
“I wanna be as tall as you!” Jack says, pulling himself up on one of the bars. “Do you think I can?” Jack asks as Hotch ducks down into the contraption. “Mommy said I could,” Jack informs him. “She said I’d be just like you!” He beams at Hotch as he says this, thrilled by the idea of being just like his father. Tall and strong and nice and funny.
“But your hair is the wrong color,” Jack pouts.
Hotch smiles, genuinely, at that.
Jack doesn’t understand the amusement and frowns. “Why isn’t your hair yellow?”
Hotch bends down and picks Jack up, holding him around his hips so that Jack can reach up and grab onto the bars above his head. It makes his ribs flare up but he doesn't pay the pain any mind, it won’t stop him. “My mom and dad had dark hair. You have mommy’s hair,” Hotch says. Haley promised this constant talking phase would eventually wear off but Jessica’s theory was that it was just Jack’s way of making up for the “creepy” way Haley and Hotch never seemed to have to have verbal conversations. Haley just rolled her eyes and repeated her earlier promise - little kids just like to talk your ear off, he’d stop with age.
Hotch hopes he doesn’t.
“Why don’t you have mommy’s hair?”
Hotch smirks, “it doesn’t work like that, buddy.” They get to the end and Jack kicks his legs. “Want to drop down?” Jack makes a panicked sound, clearly not liking that idea. One of his hands leaves the bars and grabs Hotch’s wrist so that Hotch can’t let go. “Alright,” Hotch relents. “Do you wanna go again?”
“Yeah!” Jack just let's go, trusting Hotch will catch him. “Just one more time, though. Cause then I’m gonna go down the slide.”
They begin again. Jack is light but Hotch’s ribs scream from having his arms raised up. The bones of his hand groaning as pressure is placed on them. It makes him light-headed, the sharp pain and the dull swelter of the heat. He steps forward, knee buckling, but he keeps both hands on Jack - the boy doesn’t notice.
“Good job,” Hotch praises, voiced rasped as Jack finishes. He lets Jack turn and settle down into his arms, pulled in against his side. Jack pulls both his hands down, showing his father the red patches of irritated skin. “Does it hurt?” Hotch asks. His thumb is nearly the size of Jack’s palm as he presses over the hurt. “That’s how you get callouses,” Hotch mumbles lowly, smirking at Jack’s surprise.
Jack forgets the pain in an instant. “You promise?”
Hotch hums his confirmation and Jack eagerly squirms at the idea. Hotch sets him down on his feet and Jack jumps up excitedly. “Daddy,” Jack calls, turning around and tearing off in the direction of the other equipment. “I’m gonna go to the slide!” Jack pays him no more mind and with a sigh, Hotch leans into the metal bar to his left. Knees shaking and head spinning.
He pushes himself upright, glancing at Jack out of the corner of his eye. He’s in the clear, he knows, but he’s still careful. Makes sure to keep his gait even and strong as he clears the space between monkey bars and the rest of the playground to the bench screaming his name.
“Daddy!” Jack yells from the top of the slide, waving.
Hotch stops and waves back, waiting for Jack to get distracted again before forcing himself forward. He sinks, bone-tired, back onto the bench. Scared that if he’s upright for another moment he’ll pass out. His vision swarms and dips with the heat around him, logged by his exhaustion.
He feels something splash on his pants and at first, he ignores it as just a ghost sensation. They happen and he’s anxious and uncomfortable enough he’s sure his body is just playing all kinds of cruel jokes at his expense. When isn’t it? It happens again a few minutes later but it’s not the same feeling. He looks down and he sees blood-- not just a stain that happens to be red, he sees blood far too often to mistake it for anything else-- and glances over to his left to locate Jack. The boy is obviously to him, shouting happily as he shoots down the slide. He lifts his hips enough to work his hand into his pocket to the handkerchief nearly all his pants carry. He presses the material to his nose, faking to just wipe it in case either of Jack looks over.
His nose is bleeding.
Back when he worked in Seattle, he’d seen a guy get shot in the leg. The bullet nicked an artery and he’d seen that bright blood, the way it gushed so quickly it was hard to put pressure over the flow. Frozen in fear, he’d never seen anything like that. Sitting here on this bench he looks down at the bright blood and gets lost. Frozen once again.
Hotch swallows thickly, grimacing at the taste of the blood that’s slid down the back of his throat. He clamps his hand over his nose, still smiling despite the fact that Jack can’t see it. “Hey-” Tears swell in Jack’s eyes as he sees the blood. “I’m okay,” Hotch assures. “It’s just a little blood, buddy.”
Jack whines softly, clearly not convinced. “Daddy, I wanna go home.” He tugs at Hotch’s sleeve. “Can we call Aunt Jess now,” Jack asks, anxiously. He worries the fabric of Hotch’s pants between his fingers, shifting as he waits for a reply.
He wants to assure Jack that they can stay a little longer but he sees the tears pouring down Jack’s face and Hotch nods. He leans to the side, digging his phone out of his pocket. It’s probably not his most coherent text but he manages to put together a few words - the letters all a blur - and it takes only a moment for her to respond. She’s on her way. He sags forward, head falling into his hand. “I’m sorry Jack.” He feels Jack’s hand come up to rest against his cheek, his warm palm sliding until Jack is hugging him. Even if he has to stand up on his toes.
Jack squeezing his neck. “It’s okay,” Jack assures him. “Me ‘n Jess are gonna get you a bandaid and a popsicle and then you’re gonna be all better.” Jack doesn’t let go. “It’s gonna be okay, right Daddy?”
Jack’s conviction is so strong that Hotch doesn’t bother explaining that he can’t put a bandaid over his nose and that it’s going to take more than a popsicle to fix this mess he’s created. But for now, he’ll let Jack hold onto him and “help” him walk to the car. He’ll let Jessica smother him with her worry and take it in stride because it’s important Jack understands getting help is just a part of life - even if each time Jessica touches him his stomach will roll.
He’ll choke down enough of his dinner to assure everyone he’s fine.
And, with any luck, he’ll manage to pretend his way into truly being okay.
“Yeah, buddy, it’s gonna be okay.”
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Chapter Two: In which Reid is 'interrogated' and Aaron tells Jack...
Fandom: Criminal Minds (US TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, David Rossi, Erin Strauss, Derek Morgan, Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, Emily Prentiss, Jack Hotchner
Additional Tags: Fake/Pretend Relationship, Fake Dating
In which Strauss thinks she's found a way to force Hotch out of the BAU - at least for a little while - as it seems his US citizenship is actually up for question and he may be deported. Reid thinks he has the perfect solution, and sees no reason not to do everything to keep Hotch in the US and with his son, Jack. And the rest of the BAU - welll, they're surprisingly unsurprised by events.
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Summery: Aaron has a stalker and the team has to find out who is it.
A/N: I actually don’t really like this but I’ll still post it anyways. I might have some spelling errors in this because I didn’t really proof-read this. Also, sorry for the crappy title,
Taglist: @ellyhotchner @unionjackpillow @eleanorbloom
Warnings: stalking/stalker, character deaths, murder, knife, gun, poison, mention of death,
Aaron walks steps put of the elevator with a frown on his face. It was his day off and Strauss had called him in for some reason. She said it was urgent but he didn't care. He had to miss one of Jack's soccer games. Aaron planned on getting ice cream and apologizing after this is over.
Aaron walks across the building. He sees people state and glance at him. The last time this happened was after Haley died. He looks around, confused, before going into the bullpen.
"It's my day of Strauss, what is it that's so urgent-", Aaron starts saying before he freezes. The team looks at him and then to the bulliten board. Aaron looks like he had just seen a ghost.
On the bulliten board was hundreds of pictures of Aaron. Him coming home from work, taking Jack to the park, and even one of Haley greeting him at their front door for him.
"What .. who did this?" Aaron asks the team. No body said anything for a second.
"We don't know. Garcia came in because she left something and saw this. She called Strauss and she called us in", Derek explains.
"Did you check the security camera's?" Aaron asks as he steps closer to the board. The pictures go back as to seven years ago. Hi come he never noticed that someone was stalking him?
"I checked but someone shut it down for an hour before it came back on", Garcia replies.
"Ok, I want fronseics to dust this for fingerprints or any DNA on here. I also want to know-" Aaron starts ordering his team.
"You're not on this case", Strauss interrupts him. Aaron looks at her.
"What?" Aaron asks.
"Agent Morgan will be leading this investigation. You're the victim and we can't have you working this case", Strauss explains.
"I'm sorry, these pictures go back as to seven years. Maybe even more and you want me off the case?" Aaron asks.
"Yes", Strauss says simply. Aaron was about to say something before his phone rang.
"I- excuse me", Aaron says as he takes the phone call. He steps put of the room and into the hall.
"Jessica, is everything alright?" Aaron asks.
"N-no .. it's dad", Jessica replies. Aaron can tell that she has been crying.
"Roy? Is he ok?" Aaron asks. Jessica chokes out a sob.
"He's- he's dead", Jessica replies.
Aaron watches the the body bag gets taken away from the crime scene that was once Jessica's house. Jessica was in the living room, crying while Jack is sitting next to her silently. The last time Jessica had cried this hard is when Haley died. And like Haley's death, this was his fault too.
"Hotch", JJ says to Aaron. Aaron snaps out of trance and looks at her. He nods and walks over to the living room and sits next to his son.
"Hey buddy, how are feeling?" Aaron asks Jack. The blonde boy shrugs. Aaron sighs and pulls his son into a hug. Jack holds on to his father's shirt tightly and he softly begins to cry. Aaron looks at Jessica who was standing up and leaving the room. Aaron felt a small pang in his heart but ignored it.
Derek then made eye contact with Aaron and gestures to come over there. Aaron nods and tells Jack to let go of him so he can talk to Derek. Jack nods as Aaron grabs a tissue for him. He then walks over to Derek.
"Looks like he was poisoned. Someone drugged his drink", Derek says to Aaron.
"Do you think my stalker killed him?" Aaron asks quietly so no one else would hear.
"I don't know but there is a possibility it might", Derek replies. Aaron then feels guilty of all of this.
"Hey, this isn't your fault", Derek says to Aaron. Aaron doesn't say anything back but stares at the chair where his father in law died in.
"Are you agent Hotchner?" A man ask as he walks up to him.
"Yes, why?" Aaron asks. The man then gives him a letter that is in a plastic bag.
"This is for you. It was left at the crime scene", the man says before leaving. Aaron and Derek both read the letter.
Dear Agent Hotchner,
You probably don't know who I am. That's probably for the best. My life was going perfectly. I had met the perfect women but then you came along. You dragged her into your mess and you killed her. And I vowed for the rest of my life to destroy you. So for the past five years, I have been stalking you and now I will destroy your life. Just remember that this is your fault.
Sincerely, Your Stalker
Aaron gulps silently after reading the letter. Derek looks at him shocked. He then takes the letter from Aaron's hand and gives it back to forensics. Derek tells them to dust for any prints or DNA. Aaron stands there in shock. He did this because of him. It was his fault.
"Hotch, are you alright?" Emily asks as she notices Aaron frozen into place.
"I- .. I don't know", Aaron admits, quietly. Emily looks at him sadly.
"Well, I'm here if you need anything. We'll catch this bastard", Emily says to Aaron.
"We're going back to review what we know. Do you want to come with us?" Emily asks. Aaron looks at her and then at Jessica. They both make eye contact before Jessica looking away.
"I'll come with you", Aaron replies.
Aaron and the team go back to he briefing room to review the case. Strauss doesn't approve but she knows that Aaron can't sir around and do nothing. He also can't stay with Jessica knowing that she probably hates him right now.
Aaron doesn't know what to feel. Roy has been his only father figure that hadn't let him down. But the last time he visited him, he had blames him for Haley's. But he still didn't deserve to die. Roy was the loudest person to cheer when Aaron had graduated from highschool. He was the one who help Aaron pick out a suit for his wedding. Roy was there for Aaron and now he's gone.
“Hotch ... Aaron”
Aaron looks up to see Emily standing in front of him. She has a worried look on her face. Something that he has seen too often now.
“Are you alright? You don’t look so good”, Emily asks him.
“I uh I’m actually going to go outside .. to clear my head”, Aaron says to Emily. She nods as Aaron walks back outside.
Aaron goes outside and opens his car. He sits inside and waits. He’s not sure what for. Maybe for the shock of his father in law’s death to go away. Maybe for Jessica to call him and tell him that everything will be ok. Maybe for this horrible nightmare to end. The shock does go away. Aaron remembers the five stages of grief. Denial was the stage Aaron was in. Denial then anger. It didn’t take long Aaron to get angry.
Aaron chokes out a sob as tears flow down from his eyes. He’s angry. He angry how everyone that hates him always goes after his family. He is angry at the world. He’s angry at himself. Aaron grips on the steering wheel. The first time in his life, he doesn’t know what to do. The team is already trying to solve the case, Jessica is with Jack and they probably hate him right now. He is alone.
“Well that was a fun show to watch”
Aaron’s head snaps up as he sees someone in the back seat, holding a gun. Aaron freezes, unsure of what to do. The man behind him presses his gun to Aaron’s back and leans in to whisper in his ear.
Aaron starts the car and drives. He can still feel the gun presses up against him.
“Drive to Jessica’s house”
Aaron nods. He drives but not to Jessica’s house. He can’t put her in danger. Not everything he has done to her. She doesn’t deserve to die. He does. Jack will be better off with her, anyways.
“Hey, that isn’t the way”
Aaron doesn’t listen and continues driving to somewhere far away from Jessica.
“Hey! Stop the car!”
Aaron stops the car. He looks at the mirror to see the man behind him.
“What the hell do you think your doing?!”
“If you want to kill someone, kill me”, Aaron replies. The man stares at him before laughing.
“Oh you’re not going to get off this easy. I want to destroy your life, just like you did to mine”
“What did I do that destroyed your life?” Aaron asks.
“You got Haley killed”
Aaron doesn’t say anything back. It was him. The guy who called Haley. The guy Haley cheated him in with. The man behind his has dark red hair and light brown eyes. Almost looks like the complete opposite of him.
“I was the love of her life”
Aaron cringes at those words. He remembers the time Haley said that he was the love of her life and that she would never leave him. Aaron knew that Haley died loving him. And the man behind him says that? Aaron wasn’t going to let him get what he wants.
Aaron turns around and grips the gun behind him. He punches the red-head in the face. The man groans in pan and kick Aaron in the face. Aaron gets out of the car and drags the other man out of it too. He then forces the guy to sit up against the car and punches him, repeatedly. The red hair manages to kick Aaron in the stomach, pushing him back. He then goes on top of him and pulls light a knife. He brings it above his head and-
“FBI, put down the knife!”
The man looks around him to see black SUV’s and agents pointing a gun towards him. He slowly puts down the knife and puts his hands up. Aaron sighs in relief as he stands up. He watches as the man who tried to kill him gets cuffed away.
“So did you get my message?” Aaron asks Derek as he walks towards him. He had sent Derek a text message while he was driving in the car.
“The text message you sent me? No, it was just random letters and numbers so I knew there was something wrong with you”, Derek replies.
“Then how did you find me?” Aaron asks.
“I got out the find my friends app and tracked your phone”, Derek replies. Aaron let’s out a small smile.
“Are you ok? It seemed like you and him had a pretty rough fight”, Derek asks.
“I think I’ll be fine”, Aaron replies.
Aaron turns around to see Jessica running towards him. Jessica then pulls Aaron into a hug.
“Thank god, you’re ok”, Jessica says as she hugs Aaron, tightly.
“Jessica! How did you get here?” Aaron asks her as he wraps his arms tightly around her.
“Rossi called me that you were missing so I went into his car to help them find you”, Jessica explains.
“What about Jack?” Aaron asks.
“He’s with his cousins”, Jessica replies.
“I’m so glad you’re ok. I can’t lose you too”, Jessica says. Aaron smiles softly and hugs her. He has a family. A family that cares about him and loves him no matter what happens.
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Three agents walk into a hospital... or the time agents Gibbs, Hotchner and director Vance went undercover at Chicago Hope Hospital.
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I just watched 'Boxed In' (10x05) for the first time, and... wow.
Firstly, can we just acknowledge the fact that Hotch became such a great dad after Haley's death. In the beginng of the episode when talking to Garcia, he literally seemed so cheerful and smiley and beautiful!
TG's acting when the sister of the unsub came and told him about their violent father, it was amazing. You could definitely sense the pain in his eyes.
This episode being slightly Hotch-centric seemed like a good parallel. The unsub was trying to re-enact what his father did to him and 'punish' those children while Hotch was trying his hardest to be a caring father to Jack. This makes a lot of sense if he was abused, because both of them dealt with abusive fathers yet they were trying to overcome their trauma in two drastically different ways.
However, I hated the line when JJ said, "I guess we all become our parents at some time." Wtf was that??? I'm too lazy to make screen caps but I think you can see Hotch make a kind of swallowing motion which you can see a few times throughout the show when he is uncomfortable. For example, I saw this during 'Angels' (9x23) when they were talking to preacher Mills and he started talking about religion, but don't get me started on Hotch's religious trauma.
When talking to the unsub who was abused by his father and the unsub said "You don't know a damn thing about my father" Hotch was the one who reacted. He said, "Actually, I do" and not completely based on what Garcia and the unsub's sister had told them. "I do" not we do. It seemed like he was speaking from personal experience, "god-fearing, short-tempered, alcoholic." And during 1x08, we all know about the "and some people grow up to catch them." Perotta's father was an abusive alcoholic, so Hotch's would've been the same.
The next lines he said were what really struck me. "You could never make him proud, could you? Everything you always did was wrong." These lines are also not something they would know from such limited information about his childhood. Sure, they are profilers, but it seems unlikely that they would be able to completely understand his exact plight.
We also know that Hotch was always trying to follow in his father's footsteps or make his father proud of him. In 1x16, 'The Tribe' Sean says that Hotch became a lawyer, just like his father. Which obviously shows that he might have been trying to make him proud, even in some twisted way, even though his father abused him. "Everything you did was always wrong." It is canon that Hotch was sent off to boarding school because he was "the screw-up making bad choices." So that sentence definitely seems like it applies to his childhood.
However, the end of the episode shows us Hotch going back to Jack and kissing him on the forehead. It think this episode really shows us that Hotch is really trying his hardest to break away from the cycle of abuse, and in the end he treats his son with love and with care.
Wow, this ended up being long. It's random nonsense and I genuinely do not think half of what I wrote is coherent, so forgive me.
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Before every job interview Aaron had, Haley would knot his tie for him. It started out as a joke- because who wore a tie to an interview at the movie theatre?- but then she realised that the touch soothed him.
So it became a thing. College, law school, internships, SWAT, the BAU- everything- he would wear a tie knotted by her.
The first interview he went for after her death, which was the internal affairs investigation into the events of that day, was the first time he’d knotted his tie himself before such an event. His hands shook so badly that he couldn’t do it. Not himself.
Jack found him, sitting on the floor in tears, and tied it like a ribbon. And then he got Jessica, who redid it properly, but a different style to the way Haley would have because anything more than that would’ve broken both of them.
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Home by Horror Haunted
Notes: Hey, guess what?! It's over halfway to Halloween! That makes another Halloween themed story totally appropriate right? Spencer, Penelope and Dave throw a Halloween party for the ages! Or something like that. And Derek hates Halloween. Let's have some spooky fun! (If any of you read my story Cough Up Your Ghost, yes I am putting Hotch in that very same Halloween skeleton costume...because to me, it's perfect. Also, that bold move on my part is probably more continuity than the show's writers ever gave Hotch.) Somewhere in the 4k word range.
Though the title is ominous, it's a fluffy cute story. The whump is even cute.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more.”
Spencer was woken by a knock at his door; one...two...three. Ominous, booming, and then silence. With eyes closed, he smiled. One...two...three again, and he stood from his wing back chair, placed his open book on the table beside him, draped his robe over his thin frame, and made his way toward the door.
“Quoth the raven, nevermore,” he whispered, a childish grin dancing on his lips. He'd been reading Poe, thinking of Halloween, macabre spirits dancing through his dozing daydreams. He knew on the other side of the door stood his escort for the day, reluctant as he may have been to provide the service. Spencer opened the door and greeted Dave, letting the older man enter his apartment with bags full of items he'd been out gathering all morning for the occasion.
“I don't understand half of these things you asked for,” Dave muttered, setting the bags on Spencer's table and peering around the place. “And for the record, that was not me asking for an explanation.”
“Of course,” Spencer replied, digging through the bags with eyes wide and full of wonder. Bags brimming with silly trinkets, fake blood, decks of cards, streamers, balloons, and a number of odds and ends that Dave didn't care to imagine uses for. This Halloween party, being held in his home, was entirely Spencer's ordeal and he intended to keep it that way – playing host was his contribution, and he was glad to do it, to have the BAU and their families over for a happy surprise after a rough couple of months. Even Anderson said he'd be coming and in costume, no less.
“Derek, have you seen my sweatshirt?” Aaron called from the bedroom, half inside of his closet pawing at the hangers for the third time in a row as if something that wasn't there would magically appear. “The zip up I got from Sean.” He couldn't hear a response, which meant either Derek had no clue or hadn't heard him, either way he went through the hangers one more time before dropping to his knees to feel around on the floor for something that may have fallen.
“This one?” Derek asked, appearing behind Aaron while he crouched on all fours swiping his hands through the pitch black of the closet floor, bumping shoes to the side but coming up with nothing else. “The one that smells like cigarettes and dive bar bathroom cologne?”
“Damn, I forgot to wash it...” Aaron muttered, rocking back onto his haunches and standing to grab the sweatshirt from Derek's outstretched hand. Derek just laughed and relinquished his grip gladly.
“No, you didn't...I found it in the laundry basket by the couch...that's just how it smells.” He reached out, pulled Aaron against his body and pressed their foreheads together. “There's nothing I can say to get out of trick or treating huh?”
Aaron smiled, lips tickling against Derek's, almost kissing, teasing. “Nothing,” he whispered, and then he pushed in for his kiss, still smiling. “Jack wants you to come more than he wants me.”
“Gross,” Jack muttered as he wandered past the bedroom door and both men laughed at the boy who was dressed in rags, covered in sticky corn syrup blood and gooey bits of fake skin he and Penelope had worked hard on over the last couple of weeks. Spencer had issued a BAU-wide challenge for everyone to make their costumes out of household items, not spend any money, and nearly everyone did their best, excepting JJ's family that was hell bent on costume superstore costumes of the officially licensed superhero variety. Will had attempted to persuade them, but JJ couldn't tell Henry no to the Spiderman costume of his dreams. Penelope had taught Jack how to do papier-mâché, which lead to odd science experiments laid around on every available surface until they got the bits of gory skin just right so he could be the scariest zombie anyone had ever seen. When Jack made his way back, he poked his head into the doorway and eyed Derek, his arms full of worn down and crumpled paper bags. “You ready?”
“For what?” Derek asked, shooting Aaron a look. Aaron just shrugged and smiled, slipping into his brother's stinky old sweatshirt painted with crusty and cracked old skeleton bones in aged yellowing paint. He really should have tried to fix it up, he knew Jack had plenty of paint, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Washing it hadn't helped its condition any.
“Your costume!” Jack rolled his eyes, as if Derek didn't know he had to dress up too. “Come on, I have the perfect thing for you and you don't even have to change what you're wearing now.” Derek followed Jack into the hallway and out to the living room where the boy proceeded to pull out yards and yards of gauze, some of it stark white and brand new in plastic bags, other rolls were slightly yellowed from time and exposure. He furrowed his brow and glanced at Aaron as he entered the room.
“Don't tell me,” he muttered and Aaron took one look at the bag and nodded somberly, wondering how Jack knew where to find it.
“Yeah,” he replied quietly, eyes darting from Jack to Derek and back again. “Don't...”
“I'm not.” An unspoken conversation continued as they stared at each other, one that spoke of Derek's discomfort at knowing precisely why Aaron had so much gauze in his home though he was startled to find that he'd kept it. It had been buried beneath cleaning supplies, behind the mop in the broom closet, probably stashed there by Dave so that he wouldn't throw it out. Aaron had been rather difficult at the time, Derek recalled Dave mentioning, and he'd had to make more than one trip to the pharmacy for new bandage supplies after Aaron got rid of everything during what Dave called his “hard days”, the days he was afraid he'd come knocking to find Aaron had thrown in the towel.
And now these bandages were going to be his Halloween costume, and Jack had almost no memory of seeing his father in the hospital, no real connection to those bandages, he'd just found them while he and Penelope ransacked the place for costume ideas and was struck with inspiration. Aaron wanted to preserve that innocence as long as he could, and Derek wouldn't take that from them. “Can't I just be...a guy who rides a motorcycle?”
“That's not a costume,” Jack replied, already wrapping Derek's arms in the soft gauze. “That's just how you dress.”
“What about your dad?”
“He borrowed Uncle Sean's clothes...his costume is pretty lame but at least he didn't ask if he could just be a guy in a suit.”
"This was my costume before it was Sean's," Aaron muttered under his breath. "I made it."
"Whatever Dad, it's still lame."
“Fair enough,” Derek grumbled, allowing Jack to wrap him loosely with the gauze. At least he wasn't going overboard, he gave him just enough that no one would question his mummy costume but not so much that his movement was restricted, and he left his face wide open, Derek hated wearing masks. He felt like a complete ass.
Once they were all in gear and the sun began to set, Aaron grabbed Jack's pillow case for trick or treating, his backpack full of emergency kid supplies, popped his hand painted skeleton mask on top of his head with the sincere hope that it could stay there and not be used, and locked up behind them. They began by knocking on the doors of neighbors in the building, moving on to houses in the neighborhood and finally piling into Aaron's car to head to Dave's neighborhood where they were promised full sized candy bars at every enormous, fancy home and a special surprise waiting at Dave's home. Derek and Aaron each had their own suspicions about what that surprise might be but they said nothing, they let Jack work himself up over what it could be, knowing that if either of them were correct, there was no way the kid would be disappointed.
“Trick or treat!” Jack called, opening his pillow case to Dave who stood in his doorway with a glass of wine in one hand, beckoning them to enter with the other. He was dressed in a red silk smoking jacket and all black beneath, hair slicked back, and Aaron thought he detected the faintest hint of fangs and blood at the corners of his lips.
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely of your own will!” Dave announced, his lines from Dracula carefully rehearsed as prompted by Spencer to set the mood. He affected the best accent he could, but it came out more like Dracula the Wise Guy - at least he was trying. The entryway, normally airy and open with a Tuscan charm was done over entirely in all black butcher paper and painted stone like castle walls, with eerie black lights and streamers hanging from the ceiling like spiderwebs. In the distance they heard ominous knocking and creaking, loud footsteps echoing overhead and the floor was covered now in a dense fog. Derek glanced around and shot Aaron a look that said he absolutely did not like this, did not want any part of this, and he was about to turn around and go when Aaron grabbed his hand and smiled.
“It's for the kids,” Aaron said softly, sliding his mask down over his face in a gesture of good will and participation. “Not us. How bad can it be?” Derek grumbled something about being dressed up like a mummy in a haunted hallway not being anywhere close to his idea of fun and in a louder voice got Dave's attention as he lead the group of weary travelers down the corridor toward an eerie glowing light.
“Hey, Rossi...if I say trick or treat, do I get a stiff drink?” he called, moving ahead of Aaron and Jack now to catch up to their host. Before Dave could answer, he felt a trip wire against his shin snap and a series of bouncing, fuzzy black and brown bats dropped from the ceiling before his eyes, hanging from nearly invisible lines and chattering away with glowing red eyes. The way they seemed to flap all around him, the squealing chatter, sent a shiver up his spine.
Behind him, he felt something feather light tickle against his neck and he swung around, arms flailing wildly as fear took over. His elbow connected with something that made a sickening crunching sound, and before his eyes could focus he heard Aaron groan and Jack shout something in a high pitch voice that sounded laced with terror. Dad, he was yelling. Derek's chest heaved as he struggled to catch his breath, to recognize that the sound had been his elbow connecting with Aaron's face. All at once he forgot about the bats and put his hands on Aaron's shoulders, leaning in close to see blood pooling in Aaron's hands, rushing in rivers out from behind his cracked mask. Derek pressed himself against Aaron, shaking hands fumbling at his broken mask until it was in his hands, and he could see the cut on the bridge of his nose, see the blood running down his lips and chin pooling oily and black under the party lights. “Shit, I'm so sorry...” he muttered and Aaron raised a hand, drenched in blood, waving away his concern the best he could.
“Doesn't hurt, I'm fine,” he muttered, sounding like someone with a bad cold. He was holding his nose with one hand and catching the rushing blood with the other now. Dave came flying back toward them with a rag in his hand, followed by Emily in her all black attempt at a witch's costume with a bottle of cleaning spray and a towel to mop up the mess.
“REID!” Derek growled as Dave wrapped his arm around Aaron's shoulders and escorted him quickly toward the bathroom to get him cleaned up. JJ, along with Will and Henry, had been right behind them, having entered at exactly the wrong time. Jack and Henry stood frozen in shock, but JJ did her best to scoot them around the blood and down along the rest of the haunted hallway, jumping at the little scares along the way until they came out into the wide open living room and kitchen area where there were party decorations everywhere and a real DJ playing the monster mash for them as if on cue. Dave had flown Joy and her family up, which made for a few kids and a lot of adults and way too much food catered by Penelope and a few of Dave's favorite personal chefs that he would say owed him a favor or two.
Derek tore through the house, trying to find Spencer. Emily intercepted him once she'd finished the bio-hazard cleanup in the hallway and handed him a martini with a smile. “Take it easy, tiger,” she cooed and he knew she'd been there awhile drinking. “He didn't know you were going to start throwin' bows, Derek.” Derek took the drink and downed it in one go, hissing at the burn of the vodka and leveling his glare at Emily who just laughed, right in his face. “This is a party. Lighten up.”
“Some party,” he grumbled. “In case you forgot, I just busted Aaron's face up.”
“Gross, don't call him that,” Emily gagged, downing the rest of her drink and picking the olives out with her fingertips. “It's not right.”
“It's his name.”
By the time Derek found Spencer, Aaron had rejoined the party as best he could – he was seated on the couch beside Dave, his head hung between his legs to keep the blood from draining down his throat with a rag filled with ice pressed against his face. He looked miserable but he insisted he was okay, he didn't even think it looked broken he'd said though Dave was giving Derek the look that said he was full of shit. He insisted it was just the medication he took that made it bleed a little more than it should. He was glad he'd thought to bring Jack's backpack though, at least he had a band-aid to put over the cut on the bridge of his nose without Dave having to ransack his first aid kit for something small enough.
"Dinosaurs," Derek said, touching the band-aid softly, pressing it back down where it was beginning to peel up from the moisture of the icy rag. "Nice touch."
“I'm okay, really,” he said one final time as Derek settled into the seat beside him. “Don't worry about me. My mask, on the other hand...”
“I'm so sorry, man,” Derek said, looking at the mask in Dave's hands, blood dried inside now. A crack ran down the center, from the bridge of the nose to the chin, a relic from Aaron's childhood reduced to rubble by his carelessness. Aaron leaned against Derek, letting his weight settle there, feeling the blood drain into the rag in his hand. He closed his eyes and tried to will it to stop, knowing that Dave was timing how long it took and would have no problem forcing him to go to the hospital, thus ruining Jack's holiday entirely, if it didn't stop soon. As it was, he could feel the way Dave's muscles twitched every time he moved, every time he winced as he spoke so he tried to just sit quietly while his entire face went numb.
“Go have a good time, be nice to Reid...he was just playing around. I'll join you as soon as the bleeding stops.”
Derek rolled his eyes and slipped his arm around Aaron's shoulders briefly, pulling him into a one armed hug and kissing him on top of the head before standing up and finding Penelope, searching out something that would make him smile. He found her, dressed as the bride of Frankenstein, near the kids' punch bowl filling glasses with neon green liquid teeming with sour gummy worms. It looked like radiator fluid. He watched as Jack guzzled a glass, leaving a radioactive mustache against the grey paint on his face before asking for another and Derek knew he was taking advantage of his dad being temporarily out of commission but it was a party and Aaron had told him to have fun...so he would let Jack do the same.
“What did you do?!” she hissed, punching him in the shoulder once the kids had moved on. He glared at her.
“I gotta get him back,” was all he said, but he was smiling now, it was hard not to. Everyone was having a good time, the music was loud and the lights were electric neon and out of the corner of his eye he could see Dave laughing on the couch beside Aaron and knew that things were okay. The party wore on, trick or treaters came by and were invited in for Spencer's haunted hallway before they got their candy and went on their way.
As Derek stood and visited over his third martini, Spencer, dressed as both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde took center stage and, with the help of his assistant Penelope, began a Spook House style horror magic show for a captive audience. Dave recognized many of the items he'd procured earlier as he sat, nursing his glass of wine. Aaron had slipped away to empty the bag of water that had once been ice into the sink and, instead of returning to the couch, he found himself leaning against Derek, arms wrapped around his waist, Derek's chin digging into his shoulder.
"Prettyboy's good," Derek mused and Aaron nodded, watching intently when Jack volunteered to be his assistant for a particularly messy, gory trick. Aaron's eyes darted to Dave when he saw the sticky fake blood pooling on the table but, to his suprise, Dave didn't even flinch - he must have been having a very, very good time.
Once trick or treat hours had officially come to a close and the Spook House magic show had come to its end, the DJ left and the lights went down, revealing a projector screen Spencer had set up with old black and white monster movies, beginning with Night of the Living Dead. Jack came bounding over and pointed excitedly at the screen and Aaron nodded, smiling.
"Aunt Penny and I made my costume from this movie!" he squealed before grabbing a handful of candy out of a bowl and rushing over to sit as close to the screen as he could manage and still see. Henry sat beside him and told him how cool his outfit was and how his parents never let him watch scary movies and was it really super scary or just a little scary? Jack sat beside Henry, a boy just enough his junior to look up to him, and told him all about the movie and how it was made and the makeup they used, anything to help his friend feel more comfortable as they prepared to jump and scream when the zombies came for Barbara.
“Hey,” Derek said softly into Aaron's ear. “Watch this.” He indicated the kitchen, just a few feet from the place they stood, where Spencer was lifting his drink to his lips while he talked with a very drunk Emily whose homemade witch hat was torn and lopsided but looked somehow endearing. One gulp was all it took before he was spitting and gagging into the sink, a mouthful of betrayal – a saltwater martini. He shot a glare at Derek who just grinned and waggled his head. “I win.”
Spencer stormed over to where Derek and Aaron stood, glaring at him. “It's on...”
“No, no, no...truce. We're even for tonight. I can't be lookin' over my shoulder every couple minutes while I'm trying to take care of my sweet thing here...”
Aaron scrunched up his face the best he could, groaning at the pain it caused and leaned away from Derek with a look of disgust. “Go away,” he grumbled. Derek just laughed and pulled him closer again, a movement that Aaron didn't bother to protest.
“Not a chance.”
As the party began to wrap up, Aaron found himself busy in the kitchen loading the dishwasher in a futile attempt to help Dave clean up his home. Dave approached Aaron cautiously. “How you feeling?” he asked, and Aaron shrugged, dumping the last dredges of the radioactive punch down the drain. He'd been at the cleaning for at least thirty minutes by then and hadn't made even a dent.
“Fine,” he replied, looking around at the sleepy drunk faces and the exhausted kids that hadn't made it so far into the night before passing out. “You need me to give people rides, don't you?”
“I was kind of hoping you would...I picked up Reid and Garcia early today so no one would see their cars and ruin the surprise. It looks like JJ and Will are fine to drive but Emily...she's going to need some help.”
“Of course,” Aaron replied, peering into the living room at Derek sleeping with Jack curled up on his lap, makeup smudged all over the gauze now hanging in shredded bits all over, pooled around his feet in clumps. On the projector was Bela Lugosi leering at them. “I'll come back for them.”
He escorted Penelope and Emily out, with Spencer's help, and began the trek around town to drop them each off at home, ensuring they got inside without any trouble. Every street corner was filled with the night's last fledgling partygoers, out trying desperately not to let their holiday end. Bar doors hung open, people in disheveled costumes gathered around cigarettes and beer bottles on the sidewalks and Aaron remembered those days when he could drink until 2am and be up in time for class anyway. Those days were long gone.
“Hey, um, I'm sorry about what happened,” Spencer said as he opened his door, the last person to get out. “I didn't think that through huh?”
“No, it was great. The bats were so realistic. You should have seen the look on his face when he spun around.” They both smiled at that, and while Aaron regretted the movement, it was worth it. He knew how hard Spencer had worked to pull off that party, could imagine the trouble he went to in order to get Dave to agree to it, and the last thing he wanted was for the man to feel somehow like a failure. "Best Halloween party I've ever been to. I don't think Jack's ever going to forget it. Thank you, Spencer."
Spencer climbed out of the car beaming and Aaron sat and watched him open the door to his building and disappear into the shadows, very much like Mr. Hyde would. It was entirely likely that Spencer wouldn't sleep that night, instead he would sit with his notebook and fountain pen in his wingback chair scrawling notes for next year's party.
The drive back was silent, and Aaron lost himself in the gentle throbbing in his forehead, the way his eyes felt heavy as the bridge of his nose swelled. By the time he got back, Dave was the only person left awake and he was waiting on the front porch in the cool midnight air for his friend's headlights to appear in his driveway. He stood, watched as Aaron got out of the car and walked toward him at a quick clip for that time of night. He handed Aaron a glass of water in a wine glass with a handful of ibuprofen and a wink.
“Cheers,” Dave said quietly. “To a successful party. Let's see if we can top it at Christmas.”
“Cheers,” Hotch repeated, tossing back the pills first and then the water.
"You should get that looked at," Dave said, indicating Aaron's face. He was met with the trademark scowl of a man who did not like being told what to do.
“We'll see how it feels," Aaron deflected, sipping his water, bumping the glass against his nose painfully more than once. "I will be working from home tomorrow. Happy Halloween, Dave.” he added the last bit with a devilish little smirk, handing his empty glass to Dave and making his way inside for Jack and Derek on the couch, eager to get them all home and in bed.
Dave glared at him, but in the end he just shrugged and watched as Derek rubbed the sleep from his eyes and hefted Jack into his arms, bidding Dave goodnight on their way out. Considering that Hotch's face was a swollen, bruised mess highlighted by a neon dinosaur band-aid, he couldn't say he blamed the guy. He finished off his glass of wine and locked up, thinking up all sorts of fun ways to mess with his hungover crew come morning.
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!” - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by Horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore -
Is there, is there balm in Gilead? - tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
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35 “cuddle pile” with Hotch and Jack and maybe a few other little munchkins Hotch and reader added to their family? 😊
Ummmmm little Hotchners? Sign me up!!!!!
Prompt 35: Cuddle pile!
Aaron Hotchner x Fem!reader
You’re completely immobilized. Your youngest child, who is two years old, is sprawled across your chest. Your second youngest has his head laid on your chest right next to the baby’s. Jack’s head is cushioned in your lap, and he’s fast asleep. And the cat, is curled up on your protruding belly.
You let out a small grunt as a new series of kicks start up. You smooth a hand over your belly, in an effort to get your daughter to stop, but she’s stubborn . . . .like her father.
You hear a throat clear, and turn your head to see your husband standing in the doorway of your bedroom. His go bag is in his hand, his jacket is thrown over his arm, and while he looks exhausted he also looks extremely happy to be home.
He gently places his bag and jacket to the side, before toeing off his shoes. He swoops down to kiss you, and move a strand of hair out of your face. In a whisper he asks, “What’s going on here?”
“There was a thunder storm last night. They all piled in here, and it became a partial family cuddle.”
Aaron raises an eyebrow, “Partial?”
“You weren’t here.”
He looks over the bed and asks, “You sure you have room?”
You gesture to your right side, where there’s still an empty space, “Always.”
The bed dips a second later, and he curls around you too, his face nuzzling into the crook of your neck. You thread your fingers through his hair, and absentmindedly play with it until his breathing evens out and he joins the rest of your boys in sleep. Your daughter, like you, is still stubbornly awake and stretching. And while it may be uncomfortable, you wouldn’t trade this moment for the world.
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hi! could you do something about hotch at christmas, maybe any traditions you think he (or he and reader) would have, just how he is during xmas!
Oh that’s too cute. Love me some soft Hotch!
It actually kind of stresses him out.
Not that he doesn’t like it, quite the opposite, actually.
It’s because he wants it to be great.
The team will catch him shopping for Jack on the jet after every case.
He’ll even ask JJ if she thinks Jack would like some of the things.
He tries to get it off every single year, and more often than not it’s granted.
The team knows that Hotch needs that.
Especially after Haley died.
After that, there wasn’t a case in the possible universe that could keep him from spending holidays with Jack.
Jack deserves a Christmas with someone who loves him, and Aaron always makes sure to be there on Christmas morning to help him open presents.
It’s one of the most purely happy times of the year for him.
Jack always picks out a new tie for him.
Spencer figures it out quickly, I mean, why else would he wear the same tie so frequently around new years.
The team always has a small gift exchange before he went home, and as much as he pretends to find it distracting it means a lot to him.
Even some of the dumber gifts he keeps, just because it’s nice to know he’s appreciated.
The gifts he gives are shockingly thoughtful every time.
Things the team mentioned in passing, things they didn’t think they’d actually get.
He’s observant, he reminds them, and that extends beyond his job.
Hotch lets a little looser around Christmas all around, showing a side of himself not often seen.
Christmas is a startling reminder to the team that Hotch is a family man.
And an even more startling reminder that they count in that, too.
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