A/N FLUFF ALERT FLUFF ALERT FLUFF ALERT.............................................

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Chapter 9
Recovery

"Courage consists in the power of self-recovery." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Garcia excitedly pushed Morgan's chair into Dave and Aaron's room. It was silent, apart from the beeping monitors. Aaron turned his head towards the visitors. It was good to see them, and to see Morgan up out of bed, although he had been unconscious when he had been shot, he had been told about his bravery. He lifted his hand in greeting.

Garcia pushed the chair between the two beds and sat down herself. Emily who had been sleeping by Aaron's side opened her eyes and smiled at them.

'I refuse to smile at you.' Garcia said, her mouth a straight line. 'One of these days you are not going to come home to me.'

'How is Rossi?' asked Morgan, his attention on the still form of his colleague in the next bed. Spencer was sleeping with his head on Rossi's pillow.

'We don't know.' Emily said. 'The doctors all say that he should have woken up by now. It's as if he has given up.'

Garcia went to the side of his bed and put her hand on top of Dave's. She was gentle. The hand was heavily bandaged.

'Why aren't you waking up, Sir?' she said. 'What happened?'

'He's badly hurt, Pen. He has been beaten and tortured. We don't know what the UnSubs wanted, but by the looks of him and Hotch, they didn't get what they wanted.'

Spencer began to stir, and he opened his eyes. He too was delighted to see Morgan and Garcia back with them again. But he was in a turmoil inside. Hotch was awake now, and he really needed to make sure that he had understood the message that he had passed on from Dave.

Dave seemed to be slipping further and further away from them. Reid still was holding his hand but the hand wasn't holding his any more, it was limp and lifeless in his. If his heart monitors weren't beeping, Reid would have thought that he had died.

'Dave, there's someone here to see you. Please wake up.....'

-0-0-0-

Dave was in the very depths of hell. He had told Aaron that he was in love with him, and there had been no response. He didn't want to come back now. He would be coming back to rejection, something he couldn't bear. He had no right to love Aaron, and expect love in return. He knew it was selfish to want to die, but he had no one to come back to, and he wanted to give up.

'.....Please wake up.'

Some one was calling him to waken but he didn't want to. No one would miss him, and even his colleagues would soon forget him.

The eyes of his soul were tightly closed and he allowed the blackness to carry him downwards. He realised that he was crying again, crying for a love that could never be his.

-0-0-0-

'He's crying again.' Spencer said. He gently wiped the tears away. He knew why David was crying, but he couldn't tell anyone. He wished that they would all go away and leave him with Hotch and Dave. He needed to be with them alone.

'Why don't you all go and get something to eat.' he said. 'I'll stay here. I'll get something later.'

'I'll bring you back a sandwich.' Emily said.

The three of them left together to go to the diner, and Reid went to Hotch's side.

'Hotch, Dave told me something that I need to make sure you heard.'

Aaron looked up at Reid and nodded slowly.

I know....

'David loves you, Hotch.'

Aaron nodded again.

I know, Spencer.....

Spencer blinked back his tears. He was broken hearted, delivering this message, but he had to be sure. He took Aaron's hand.

'I understand, Hotch. I want you to be happy, and if that is with David, then I understand.' Spencer's voice was choking, as he told Aaron how he felt. Aaron gripped Spencer's hand. He longed to speak, but until the tube was removed, he couldn't say how he felt, how these feelings were swarming inside him. He needed to speak to Dave, the man who had as good as given his life for him.

He looked across to Dave who was lying inert on the bed. He lifted his hand away from Spencer and pulled the tube out of his throat. He coughed and choked, but at last he could speak.

'Spen.......' Aaron coughed, his voice was little more than a whisper. 'Spencer, don't be afraid. Nothing....' he coughed. 'Nothing has changed. I love you as a father, I love David as a brother. I can't do anything other than that.' Aaron broke into a fit of coughing. Spencer gently pulled him into a sitting position. The coughing eased, and Aaron lay back down again.

'I am going to push the beds together.' Spencer said. 'So that you can be near to David. He's not coming round, Hotch. I think he needs to know that you are ok.'

Carefully Spencer pushed the beds together, and he lifted Dave's hand so that he could hold Aaron's.

Aaron gripped Dave's hand. Dave's fingers instinctively curled around Aaron's as he fought against his inner demons.

Was life worth fighting for?

Was there any hope of ever being loved?

The battle within him raged.

-0-0-0-

Sean and JJ were on their way to the hospital. Sean was afraid of what he would find; his brother had almost died protecting him, and it wasn't the first time. The beatings Aaron took from their father – someone who should have protected both of them – had often ended with Aaron in hospital, after 'falling down stairs'. Their family were influential. No one ever suspected the father. Sean had often cried as an adult when he remembered the times when he hid and listened to Aaron's childish cries as he was beaten.

And now it had happened again – Sean relying on his brother to protect him. Sean was embarrassed and ashamed, and was reluctant to face his brother, now he knew that he was ok.

'Aaron?' he said softly as he entered the room where his brother and his colleague were lying recovering. 'Aaron, it's me, Sean.'

Aaron turned towards Sean, and smiled. 'You're ok!' he said hoarsely. 'I was worried in case they came back.'

'No. No one came back, Bro. Are you all right? I've been so scared.'

'Just aching a bit, that's all. Did they hurt you?'

'I'm fine. JJ is here to see you.'

JJ stepped forwards with a beaming smile on her face. Spencer stood up so that she could sit down. Aaron kept hold of Dave's hand under the blanket.

'Hello.' Aaron said, tilting his head towards her. 'The others have gone to get some food. You just missed them.'

-0-0-0-

David heard Aaron's voice and felt his hand in his. He hadn't rejected his friendship. He was still there. David cried inside with the relief of knowing that even though he had no right to love Aaron, Aaron was still there, wanting him to recover, pulling him back from the dark place where he was now.

The swirling mist congealed into fingers that entwined themselves around his limbs and he felt heavy and cumbersome trying to reach upwards to the light that held so much promise. For some reason he couldn't move his mouth to speak.

He mumbled Aaron's name.

The hand gripped tighter. He opened his eyes.

'Aaron ..... where are you?'

'I am here, Dave. Right next to you. I won't leave you. You are safe now.' Hotch whispered.

Dave turned to Aaron, his soft brown eyes locked with Aaron's dark eyes. For a moment the world passed between them and Dave understood.

Aaron knew, accepted and loved him as a brother.

Moving was difficult for Dave. His head was in a metal cage bolted to his cheek bones and forehead, holding his face together. His teeth were wired closed, and speaking was very difficult. His hand throbbed where he had lost two fingers and he had a broken arm and cracked ribs.

But he was alive, and so was Aaron.

-0-0-0-

Morgan was out of hospital and Hotch was allowed out of bed. Dave was still critical, and the cage was still holding his face together. Aaron and Spencer spent most of their time either sleeping or sitting with Dave. Dave was being fed through a straw until the cage could be removed. He was frustrated and in pain as he tried to cope.

He expressed doubts as to whether he would come back to the BAU or not, since the case that brought him back was solved now. He wasn't sure how he would cope with working along side Aaron and Spencer, knowing that he had poured out his heart to them when he was sick. And all three having personal issues to deal with day to day.

His love for Aaron was to be a lonely fire in his heart for as long as they were together, and he understood fully for the first time how Reid felt all these years, having such deep feelings and leaving them un said.

When the doctor finally said that Dave was to have surgery to remove the cage and the clamps holding his teeth together, he was relieved. Speaking was so difficult, it would be good to be able to express himself. The doctor said that moving his jaw would hurt for a few weeks until he got used to moving it again, and his beard had become unruly in the cage. He felt like the man in the iron mask. It would be good to be free of it.

When he came back from surgery, he was awake already and the first thing he wanted to do was express his feelings for Aaron properly, but the little room was full of the BAU team, and he didn't get the opportunity. The Doctors said it would be another week before he could go home, as long as there was someone there for him. Aaron promised that he wouldn't have to be alone. Then in a month, if all went well, he would be able to return to work.

That was something that he needed to discuss with Aaron.

And he needed to talk to Spencer too. Reid needed to know that they weren't love rivals, and that Aaron's love for Dave didn't include romantic love. Dave was ok with that. He had had his fair share of relationships, and none seemed to work out. There was a time that he wondered if this was why all his marriages failed, but he dismissed that after thinking long and hard about it.

His marriages failed because he was no good at relationships, and he had no reason to believe that this one with Aaron would be any different. He had talked to Reid, and they had laughed about it.

But still, every time Aaron came near him, his stomach lurched and he wondered, as Spencer had, if his feelings for Aaron would get in the way of his work. Hotch persuaded him to stay on in the BAU, although Dave had his reservations.

'You are too much of a professional to allow this to colour your actions at work.' Aaron had said, and his vote of confidence had brightened him up. He didn't want to leave. Aaron was vulnerable, and Dave wanted to watch him.

Aaron looked after his team.

Dave looked after Aaron.

END

A/N There will be a sequel, but I don't know what it will be called yet. See you in a day or two – Aggie x