Five times Hotch didn't have to say the words and one time he did.
Author's Notes :
- Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds or any of the plots or characters related to the show.
- This is SLASH Hotch/Reid
- This is my first Criminal Minds fic and I'm really nervous about it. Also my first time writing a 'five times…'.
- Takes place in mid-season 5 except pretend that 100 didn't happen and Haley and Jack aren't in protective custody. Spoilers for Minimal Loss and Elephant's Memory.
- This fic is un-beta'd, except by me (which is always a bad idea). So I apologize for any mistakes.
"Observation is about picking up what you missed when just looking." Ace
It happened so smoothly that Derek felt like he blinked and there it was. It probably should have been more shocking than it was, but this was Hotch and Reid. There had always been something lingering there. They would share a look that Derek couldn't interpret or Hotch would just sit passively and nod as Reid went on and on about a topic.
But now, watching them, it was all so obvious.
Reid was across the room, standing with Hotch, waving his hands as he explained something. Hotch was paying close attention to whatever Reid was saying and then Derek saw it. There was a small smile on their stoic leader's face. Hotch's eyes softened and a second later he actually laughed. Derek couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Hotch laugh. A smile blossomed on Reid's face and he kept on talking. Except now he was leaning a little bit more towards Hotch than he had been before and their shoulders brushed. Neither man moved, so their shoulders brushed again when Reid made another gesture.
It was casual, comfortable and their body language spoke of an ease with each other that Derek swears hadn't existed yesterday. Except that it must have. Nothing could have changed so fast overnight.
So when Hotch smiles again and hands Reid a cup of coffee and their fingers linger for a second, Derek thinks it's so obvious.
They're in love.
He wonders how he missed it for so long. But nothing really seemed different. When they had a case Hotch was still stiff and professional, Reid was still awkward and semi-oblivious to the world around them. They didn't work with just each other more often, they didn't sit next to each other more often, and they certainly didn't share more glances or hold secret conversations. Everything was normal.
Except his co-workers were in love.
They were hiding it, that much Derek could sense. So he decided to let them know that he knew and was okay with it and wouldn't tell anybody. Hiding a relationship took its toll and he figured they would feel better if there was one less person they had to hide it from.
So Derek waited for Hotch to return to his office before confronting him. He'd briefly thought of going to Reid, but the younger man would probably deny everything and maybe freak out a little. Hotch, Derek thought, was much more put together and less likely to react to a statement of support.
Derek knocked lightly.
He opened the door and shuts it behind him, it closed with soft click. Hotch looked up from the report in front of him and gave Derek a questioning look.
"Look, I just want to say that I'm happy for you. Both of you," Derek said seriously. "And if you hurt him, I've learned enough from our unsubs about what not to do with a body."
Hotch looked at him blankly for a moment before a look of realization comes over his face. "What gave it away?"
Derek studied his boss. "I saw you laughing just now. You never laugh."
Hotch nodded and gave him a passive look. "Alright."
Derek turned to leave but right as his hand lands on the doorknob Hotch says, "I won't hurt him."
"You better not," Derek said quietly. "And Hotch?"
"I really am happy for you."
Emily did a double take. Hotch was sitting next to Reid on the plane and he was leaning over into Reid's private space and reading over his shoulder. Everyone on the team knew that it was an unspoken rule that Reid liked his space and really appreciated it when you gave it to him. He wasn't touchy feely-although he was fine with it when the occasion called for it. Emily could count on one hand the number of hugs Reid had given her. Or more like the number of hugs she had given him.
And now Hotch was leaning into Reid's space and Reid wasn't leaning away. He wasn't giving Hotch the uncomfortable glances that everyone else got when they were too close. Reid was just letting their boss lean over his shoulder.
When she opened her eyes, they were still remarkably close to each other. But now Hotch had a hand covering Reid's, preventing him from turning the page. Emily strained her ears and could hear Hotch muttering something about reading at a normal person's pace. A smile crossed Reid's face before disappearing and the younger man stopped trying to turn the page.
Emily blinked again.
This time when she opened her eyes, she didn't see two co-workers winding down after a long case. She saw two lovers subtly taking strength from each other and using each other's presence to try and forget the evils that their job made them face. This time when Hotch's knee gently knocked against Reid's, it didn't look like a casual accident, instead it spoke volumes of their familiarity with each other's bodies.
"Finally figured it out, huh?" Morgan asked.
Emily looked over at him. He was sitting across from her and had pulled his headphones down to look at her before glancing over at Reid and Hotch.
"How long?" She whispered.
Morgan shrugged. "At least a few months."
"Wow." Emily watched them some more. Reid was turning the page and Hotch was pointing to something. She couldn't make out what he said that time, but whatever it was, Reid seemed to disagree and was launching into a long-winded explanation, the kind only Hotch could stand to listen to all the way through.
When they disembarked, Emily made sure to let Hotch know she was okay with him and Reid. They were waiting at the bottom of the stairs for Reid to come down and Emily leaned forward. "You make a good couple."
There was a slight look of surprise that crossed his face before he could hide it. "Did Morgan tell you?"
Hotch looked back up into the plane where Reid was standing at the threshold of the plane trying to juggle his normal bag, his cane, and a laptop case.
"Excuse me," Hotch said politely. He left her and walked back up the stairs. Hotch met Reid at the top and took the laptop from his hands. Reid flashed him a grateful smile and then Hotch patiently followed Reid down the stairs, looking ready to catch the younger man if he tripped.
Reid passed her on the way to his car, offering Emily a smile that she returned. Emily also offered Hotch a smile, he gave her a nod in return before following after Reid. Emily shook her head and wondered how it had taken her so long to realize that Hotch and Reid were happy.
Dave Rossi likes to believe that he knew before everyone else. He and Hotch were good friends and Dave would never admit it, but it stings just a little that Aaron never told him. Because it seemed as though everyone else already knew. Or at least Morgan and Prentiss did. What they knew was another story, though.
He caught amusement in Morgan's eyes and followed his line of sight to see Reid leaning on his cane while writing furiously on the whiteboard in front of him. Hotch erased something, picked up another pen and began to write another long list next to Reid's. Dave didn't see anything amusing with it. They were doing their job.
And then he caught it.
Every once in a while, Aaron's words would cross over into Reid's list and Reid would shake his head, write something on Hotch's list and then continue on. It wasn't really the act that was humorous, at least not to Dave, but it was what Reid was writing. They were numbers. 1, 2, 3... The numbers grew every time and Dave had barely had a chance to wonder what they meant before Reid turned to Hotch and quickly raised his eyebrows salaciously. Aaron raised an eyebrow of his own and kept writing.
The whole thing had taken about .5 seconds and Dave wasn't even sure if he saw what he thought he saw. And dear god, Dave was really hoping that the numbers had nothing to do anything that took place in their bed. Except the look Reid had given Hotch seemed to undermine that thought and when Aaron casually and 'accidentally' bumped into Reid's shoulder before reaching a hand out to steady the young man with a cane, Dave knew it probably had something to do with that. Especially when Aaron's hand seemed to linger on Reid's shoulder for a moment too long.
"They're so happy together," Someone near him murmured and Dave turned to see Prentiss standing slightly behind him. "They deserve it."
"Yeah," Dave agreed. If anyone deserved it, it had to be those two. When he turned back to look at them, Dave was mildly disappointed that Hotch was already moving away from the whiteboard, a serious look on his face, no sign of the previous levity Dave had seen in him. Reid was carrying on like nothing had happened and if Prentiss hadn't said anything Dave might have written it off as not enough sleep and too much coffee.
Hotch looked up at Dave as he passed. "We're ready to present the profile."
Dave nodded, "I'll round up the gang."
Thirty-two hours later they were back at Quantico and everyone had left-Reid included-except for Dave and Aaron. It suited Dave's purpose because he wasn't sure he wanted to have this conversation where someone could interrupt. He knocked on Aaron's door, "Do you have a minute?" He asked, sticking his head in.
Aaron looked up and nodded, gesturing Dave in. "What's up?"
"What's going on with you and the kid?" Dave asked bluntly, sinking into the chair across from Hotch's.
Aaron raised his eyebrows. "Kid?"
"He's hardly a kid, Dave. He's twenty-eight," Aaron said, with just a hint of annoyance, going back to the reports on his desk.
Dave shrugged, "Okay. Then what's going on with you and the not-kid?" This time when Aaron looks at him, Dave sees a calculating look on his face. Dave held his hands up in a surrendering position, "Hey, I'm not here to get you in trouble. Nothing you tell me will leave this office."
"Who told you?" Aaron asked with a small sigh.
"My eyes," Dave answered. "So it's true?"
There was a slight hesitation and then, "A couple years."
Dave blinked. That certainly hadn't been the answer he'd been expecting. "Years?"
"So you're pretty serious then," Dave stated.
"And what changed?"
"What do you mean?" Aaron asked quietly.
"Two years… and I have no idea. Then I see you yesterday and its obvious that something is going on."
Aaron hesitated, "I apologize if I was less than professional. It won't happen again."
Dave snorted, "Like I care about that. But something has changed hasn't it? There's a reason everyone knows now."
"Not everyone," Aaron countered.
Dave eyed him. "Not everyone knows yet, you mean. Prentiss knows and I'm willing to bet that Morgan knows. Who's next?"
"C'mon, Aaron I've known you too long. If people know now it's because you want them to know," Dave said with a hint of exasperation.
Aaron looked at him, studied him before opening a drawer to his right. He pulled out a small black box that Dave has had too much experience recognizing. Aaron turned the box around to face Dave and flipped it open.
"Reid doesn't like lying to you," Aaron said quietly. "Or to anyone else."
Dave reached for the box while looking at Aaron. "You call him Reid?"
That earned a soft laugh from Aaron, "At work he's Reid. He can't be anything else."
Dave peered into the box. "It's nice."
"When will you ask him?"
Aaron shrugged, "When J.J. knows."
Dave handed the box back and Hotch closed it with a snap, putting it back into his drawer. "She figured it out first."
"I see. Well-congratulations, don't fuck up," Dave said as he stood.
Aaron's eyes followed his movements. "Thank you and I won't."
Dave nodded and left.
Penelope ran a hand down the front of her dress, flattening it before ringing the doorbell. She felt a wave of anxiety and excitement flow through her. She'd been here several times before, especially over the past year, but every time felt special. She felt special. They allowed her something that they allowed no one else.
The door opened and Hotch stood on the other side, glass of wine in his hand and a smile on his face. His eyes roamed over her figure for a moment and Penelope tried not to fidget.
"You look beautiful," Hotch said warmly.
"Thank you, sir," Penelope answered, blushing faintly. He always said that to her but it never sounded trite or by rote. He sounded like he honestly meant it every time.
"Don't stand in the doorway, Aaron. Invite her in!" A voice called from within the townhouse.
Hotch laughed lightly and then stepped aside. He used his free hand to gesture her in, "After you."
Penelope smiled and stepped into the warm home. Hotch held a hand out for her bag and her jacket and she offered them to him without hesitation. She couldn't see Reid anywhere so she assumed he was in the kitchen. Reid was an excellent cook and Penelope had been waiting all day to eat whatever he would make for dinner.
"Can I interest you in some wine?" Hotch asked, slipping past her and heading towards the kitchen.
She followed him and answered, "You can do more than interest me."
He laughed and a second later Reid came into view. There was a smile on his face and both men were quite relaxed. They were so different here than they were at work. Penelope marveled at how easy it seemed for them to separate their personal relationship from their work one.
"Red or white?" Hotch asked.
Reid stopped stirring whatever he was cooking to reach up above him and grab a red wine glass. He handed it to Hotch and Hotch filled it for her before passing it to Penelope. She took a sniff and swirled it a little before tasting it. When she finished swallowing she saw two curious expressions aimed towards her.
"Yum," She answered with a smile.
Reid laughed, "Better than last time?"
Penelope nodded and took another sip. "Much better. Last time it was so… bitter. This is much more sweet, more yum."
The younger man turned to Hotch and held out his hand. "Pay up."
Hotch sighed and pulled his wallet out, depositing a twenty into Reid's palm. He leaned forward and said something that sounded suspiciously like "You can collect the rest later." Reid beamed and went back to cooking, shoving the money into his pocket.
Hotch turned to her and winked. "We had a bet going about whose wine selection you would like more."
"Ah. And Reid won?"
"Yes," Hotch said with a sigh.
"You shouldn't bet against a Vegas boy, sir."
"I really shouldn't," Hotch replied with a shake of his head. "Let's leave him to finish dinner. Would you like to see the new computer?"
Penelope couldn't help but feel excitement at the prospect, "Oh definitely."
Hotch nodded and Penelope started heading out of the kitchen. When she didn't hear anyone behind her she turned to see Hotch give Reid a quick kiss and instructions to "Be good." She turned her head before they could notice her and Penelope kept walking out of the room.
She'd seen them kiss a handful of times and was pretty sure that she was the only one on the team to see them be so free with each other. A few weeks ago Reid had informed her that Morgan, Prentiss and Rossi all knew. J.J. would know soon. Even though most of the team knew, no one talked about it. Their relationship seemed so… private that no one wanted to intrude.
Having dinner at their townhouse had become somewhat of a tradition. Penelope came over once a month or so, sometimes with Kevin, mostly alone. Sometimes Jack was there and that was always delightful. Any chance she had to observe Reid with a child was always a gift. Reid was the only person she knew who could look simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable around children.
She wandered into the spare bedroom that had been made into an office and there sat their new desktop. She knew that Reid had probably already adjusted and changed everything but Penelope couldn't wait to get her hands on it.
"I see you found it," Hotch said.
Penelope sat down and grinned up at him, "Yes, sir."
"Spencer has already made a few changes," He told her. Penelope giggled a little on the inside when he said 'Spencer'. She always did. Except for the first time. The first time her mouth had fallen open out of shock.
It had been right after Reid and Prentiss had been held hostage. Penelope had just finished leaving her report on Hotch's desk when Hotch and Reid exited the elevator together. Everyone else had gone straight home from the plane but Penelope knew that Hotch almost always came back to file reports before heading home. Reid wasn't usually with him though.
They seemed deep in conversation and Penelope didn't want to disturb them so she quickly walked back towards her office. But curiosity got the best of her and she paused, around a corner, so she could still see them but she doubted they could see her.
They stopped in the middle of the bullpen area by Reid's desk and Reid set his stuff down while Hotch looked around. He glanced around the area three times before turning to face Reid. A second later the two men were clinging to each other.
"I thought I'd lost you," Hotch had said quietly.
"I'm right here, Hotch."
Penelope could barely make out their words, they were so far away and talking quietly.
"Are you okay?" Hotch asked.
Reid buried his head in Hotch's neck. "Emily-"
"-Did what any of us would do."
"I don't want you to," Reid said. "I can take care of myself."
"This has nothing to do with us thinking that you can't and everything to do with us wanting to protect you."
Penelope gaped and covered her mouth. Before that everything could have been taken platonically-the hug, the reassurance, the words. But now… now she wasn't so sure.
"Let's go home," Reid said softly. "I'll help you finish the reports in the morning."
Hotch nodded slowly, "Alright." He bent down and picked up Reid's go-bag before re-shouldering his own. Reid slung his messenger bag across his chest and followed Hotch back to the elevator.
"Find something interesting?"
Penelope jumped a little and saw her boss looking at her with an amused expression. She shook herself back to the present day. "Uh, no sorry."
"You looked deep in thought."
"I was, uh, remembering when I first found about you two," Penelope answered honestly.
Hotch raised an eyebrow. "And?"
"What you guys have is beautiful, sir. It was a little shocking at first but now it's just…" She sighed happily.
Hotch laughed, "I'll have to tell Spencer that our relationship is sigh worthy."
"Oh it is, it so is."
JJ wasn't a profiler and as such tended to be last in line to know about everything. Well, not really. That's how it should have worked, but it seems that since everyone else was tired of being profiled by their colleagues… they turned to JJ instead. She didn't mind. She liked it. She liked knowing that her coworkers and friends trusted her with their secrets. So it was a bit of a shock to find out that this time she really was last to know.
She'd known for a while that Reid was in a relationship, but her friend had been tightlipped thus far on who his amorous partner was.
JJ thought that if she were a profiler she probably would have figured it out after the first five times of dropping Henry off with Reid for a night and finding Hotch at the door. It probably should have registered that Hotch didn't really hand deliver reports to his subordinates. Just Reid.
Except it didn't and if JJ were honest, she was always just a little bit glad that Hotch was there. Reid was wonderful and she loved him to death but he wasn't great with kids, although he'd definitely gotten better, and having Hotch there put the small amount of worry she had to rest.
It was a Friday night when JJ arrived with Henry at Reid's doorstep. Spencer had volunteered to take Henry for the night so that she and Will could have some time to themselves. It probably should have been more of a surprise then it was to have Hotch answer the door. In his boxers. He was blinking rapidly, as if he'd just awakened, and his hair stuck out in ways that JJ had never seen it do before.
"Hotch, hi," JJ said with a smile. She held a sleeping Henry in her arms and had a bag thrown over her shoulder.
Hotch nodded and stepped aside to let her in. The door closed behind them and Hotch reached out to gently ply Henry from her arms as she walked into the living room to set Henry's bag down.
"Spencer's asleep, but he'll be up shortly," Hotch said quietly. He gently laid Henry on the couch and covered him with a blanket. "Can I offer you something to drink?"
JJ shook her head, "I'm meeting Will in fifteen minutes at a restaurant across town. Is it okay if I leave him with you until Spence is awake?"
Hotch nodded, "It's fine."
"I can't thank you guys enough for looking after him," JJ said, already heading back for the door.
"It's our pleasure. I know what it's like trying to have some private time," Hotch said with a reassuring smile.
JJ returned his smile, "Of course. Well, I'll be back to pick him up later tonight."
Her boss shook his head, "Tomorrow morning will be fine."
She hesitated, "Are you sure?"
"Positive," Hotch said with a smile. "I'll be here all night, too."
JJ blinked and frowned a little bit, "I don't want to take you away from anything you might be doing."
"You won't be," Hotch promised. "Go have fun with Will."
She nodded slowly, "Alright. Thank you again."
"It's our pleasure."
It was only when JJ was in the car, halfway to the restaurant, when it hit her.
Hotch had said 'our', talking for him and Reid.
The pieces began to fit together-Spencer had been seeing someone, Hotch was always at his place and tonight had answered the door in his boxers. He'd said 'our' as though he knew what Reid would say. They both smiled more. Hotch had called Reid 'Spencer'.
It couldn't be more obvious then if they started making out in front of her. Hotch and Reid were dating.
The next morning it was Reid who answered the door with a mug of coffee in his hands and half-opened eyes.
"Mornin', Spence," She greeted brightly.
"Hey, JJ. Henry's in the kitchen with Hotch," Spencer said, shutting the door behind him.
"I hope he didn't give you too much trouble," JJ commented, following her friend to the kitchen.
"Nope, slept for most of the time."
"He only seems to do that with you," She commented with an easy smile. She wondered how young was too young to subconsciously pick up on how uncomfortable Reid was with kids because she thought Henry might be accommodating his godfather already.
Reid shrugged and stepped into the kitchen. "Can I make you some breakfast?"
"Thanks, Spence but I already ate."
He nodded, "Of course. I'll, uh, just get-get Henry's stuff together."
"Want help?" JJ asked, but really she wanted a chance to get Hotch alone.
"I've got it. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Hotch turned to greet her, "JJ, good morning."
"Good morning," She answered. JJ bent down until her face was next to Henry's and she pressed a loud kiss to his cheek. "Spence says he was pretty quiet?"
"Yes," Hotch confirmed. "You've got quite the kid there."
"Trust me," JJ said with a laugh. "At home it's an entirely different story."
Hotch nodded knowingly. JJ grabbed a dish rag and wiped down Henry's face as Hotch began to clear away Henry's breakfast. JJ leaned down and picked up her son, holding him close. Henry reached out a sticky hand and batted it lightly at JJ's face. She smiled at him and gently tweaked his nose before turning back to Hotch.
"So how long with you and Spence?"
Hotch didn't even stop what he was doing, in the middle of rinsing out a bowl he said, "Two years next month."
JJ gaped and Henry took the opportunity to stick his hand in her mouth. She gently removed it, placing a kiss to Henry's forehead before saying, "Two years?"
JJ walked over to stand next to Hotch and waited until he looked at her. "And you two are serious?"
"Very," Hotch answered, meeting her eyes. There was a peaceful expression in her face and a tiny bit of wariness at whatever she might say.
JJ reached a hand out and lightly touched Hotch's shoulder. "I'm happy for you guys, you both deserve someone great."
"Thank you," Hotch said with a slight incline of his head.
JJ smiled, "No problem."
"Thank you for what?" Reid asked, coming into the room.
"I was thanking her for letting Henry spend the night," Hotch answered, looking over her shoulder towards the younger man.
JJ looked from Hotch to Reid, "I should really be thanking you guys."
Spencer smiled, "We're happy to have him, JJ. Really."
"I'll hold you to that," She said with a soft laugh.
"Please do," Hotch said from behind her. He bent down to press a kiss to Henry's head. "See you later, little man."
Reid offered JJ the bag of supplies and gave a wave of his fingers to Henry, "We'll continue that discussion on thermodynamics another time." He looked to JJ, "I'll walk you out."
JJ picked up Henry's hand and waved it towards Hotch as she followed Reid to the door. Spencer walked her to her car and opened the door for her. She got Henry situated into his car seat before shutting the door and facing her friend.
"Thanks again, Spence."
He ducked his head, "Thanks for, ah trusting me with him."
She leaned up and pressed a kiss to his cheek, "Of course."
Reid was blushing as he opened the driver's door for her and JJ got him and smiled at him. He shut the door and stepped back. JJ started the car and started backing out of his driveway. When she looked in the rearview mirror, halfway down their street, she could see that Hotch was now standing next to Reid, an arm around his waist and head bent close.
She smiled. They really were a great match.
Aaron waited while Spencer made himself comfortable. He was lying on his back and Spencer was on his side, an arm and leg thrown across Aaron's body while his head was trying to get comfortable on Aaron's chest. The first night they had spent together, Spencer had taken almost ten minutes, to settle down. He kept moving-his head, his arms, his legs. Aaron had been tempted to say something but hadn't and that had turned out to be a good thing. Spencer had his eccentricities-the mismatched socks, the alphabetized spice rack, the color coded DVD case-and this was just one he happened to have in bed.
Aaron knew that Spencer was slightly embarrassed by his need to shift around before settling down. He knew because when he'd finish, Spencer would always mumble 'sorry'. Aaron was pretty sure that Spencer was still expecting him to leave at one point even though he and Spencer had moved into a townhouse together, their co-workers all knew about them, Jack was head over heels in love with Spencer and they'd both changed their wills with each other in mind.
Spencer finally settled down and predictably mumbled a "sorry" into Aaron's chest. Aaron just kissed the top of his partner's head and assured him that it was fine.
"What are you thinking about?" Aaron asked, running a hand up and down Spencer's arm. One of the perks to dating a genius was that Spencer never answered with "nothing". He was always thinking about something.
"The first time you said you loved me," Spencer answered.
It had been right after the Texas case. They'd only been dating for a few months, but Aaron had known from the start that neither of them were going to risk dating just for a one-off. There had been a serious conversation about three days into their relationship about what they both wanted out of it and how serious they were about each other. It had been hard for them but in the end, it had left both with peace of mind and no unexpected expectations.
Aaron swears that his heart stopped when he saw Spencer standing on that street with a gun pointed at him. As his supervisor, Aaron had said everything he needed to say to Spencer on the plane. As his partner, Aaron had waited until that night, after Spencer had returned from his NA meeting.
They hadn't been living together yet, but they had keys to each other's place. Aaron hadn't used his, instead he had sat outside waiting for Spencer. When the younger man had finally arrived, he hadn't seemed surprised to see Aaron. He'd just opened his door and begun making them both tea.
They didn't say a word until they'd finished the tea, Spencer had showered and they were lying skin to skin in bed facing each other, legs tangled together.
"Aaron," Spencer whispered, sounding incredibly young.
Aaron reached out and tucked a piece of stray hair behind Spencer's ear. "Yeah?"
"I'm-I'm not sure we should keep doing this," Spencer said softly.
"Okay," Aaron said gently. "Why?"
"Why?" Spencer asked, a puzzled look on his face as if he hadn't expected Aaron to ask that.
"Yes. Why aren't you sure we should stay together?"
"We're-we're too different."
"No, we're not," Aaron countered. "Next?"
That seemed to fluster the younger man and Spencer struggled for words. "I'm not very good with people."
Aaron settled his hand on Spencer's bare hip. "You're good with me. Next?"
"I never know what to-to say or do."
"I love that you try," Aaron countered. "Next?"
Spencer swallowed and his gaze drifted down to the small sliver of sheets between them. "I distract you from your job."
"I want you to distract me." Aaron paused. "Spencer, what is this really about?"
Spencer took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "You're too good for me, Aaron."
Aaron frowned, "What?"
"I'm-I'm-you should be with someone better."
"You think there's someone better than you?" Aaron asked gently. Spencer's eyes opened and met Aaron's. The younger man looked confused but convinced.
"Yes," Spencer answered honestly. "Someone who doesn't have to go to movies, someone who's normal."
"You think I care about that?" Aaron questioned softly. "Because I don't. I care about you. I thought you wanted this relationship."
"Then how can you say that we should stop seeing each other?" Aaron asked gently.
"It's not too late for you to find someone better," Spencer answered. "We've only been together for a little while and-"
"Spencer," Aaron said, cutting him off. "I thought you knew."
"Thought I knew what?" Spencer asked, confused.
Aaron brought the hand on Spencer's hip up to cup the younger man's face. "I thought you knew that I'm completely in love with you."
"You-you… what?" Spencer gaped. "But you can't!"
Aaron laughed, "Yes, I can and I am. And really, I don't see it changing ever."
"But it's only been a few months!"
"That we've been together formally," Aaron agreed. "But you and I both know that this has been going on much longer than that."
"I can't believe you… I… you're serious, Aaron?"
"Oh," Spencer said thoughtfully. This time when he looked at Aaron there was hope in his eyes and happiness and a thousand other positive emotions that Aaron wanted to keep there forever.
"I love you, Spencer Reid," Aaron repeated with a smile.
"I didn't know," Spencer said softly.
Aaron laughed again. "You mean there's finally something I know that you don't?"
Spencer rolled his eyes and seemed much more relaxed then he had five minutes ago. "There's plenty you know that I don't."
"Oh yeah?" Aaron asked, moving in closer. Spencer nodded and allowed Aaron to roll on top of him, pressing their mouths together.
Aaron smiled at the memory and hugged the man next to him tighter. "Why were you thinking about that?"
"The last case we had, I was talking to the victim's girlfriend and she told me that her biggest regret was never telling him she loved him and that he died not knowing."
"And what did you say in reply?"
"That he knew she loved him. And I told her that I'd been with someone for two years and still haven't managed to say the words," Spencer answered quietly. "You know what she said?"
"What?" Aaron asked, holding his breath.
"That every moment is precious and having him live with even the littlest bit of doubt is something I can change. She said that you never know what might happen in the future and love isn't something that goes away." Aaron stayed very still as Spencer took a deep breath and then reached a hand up to cup the side of Aaron's cheek, much like Aaron had done almost two years previous. "I love you, Aaron."
"I know," Aaron answered softly and the most wonderful feeling came over him. Like he was bursting with happiness.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you," Spencer said quietly.
"You've said it now, that's all that matters," Aaron responded. And it was true. He had known, all these years. Spencer might have taken longer to say them, but Aaron knew that he was the first lover Spencer was ever saying them to and with any luck he would be the last. With that knowledge, the waiting had been worth it.
Spencer looked up at him. He repeated, "I love you, Aaron."
Aaron smiled, "I know. I love you, Spencer."
"Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so." David Grayson