Summary: Morgan notices something about Reid and Hotch.
Warnings: You almost have to squint to see the implied slash in this chapter, nothing graphic. Yet. Very little cussing, but if that bothers you, turn back. Turn back before it gets worse.
Copyrights: Criminal Minds belongs to CBS, not me. I can wish though.
Special Thanks to Starofoberon for beta'ing this story!
It only took two letters to confirm a fear that Morgan had long since put to rest in his mind. Just two letters, and the world as he knew it was undone.
It wasn't anything striking, nothing that screamed for attention. Small things. Simple things, that maybe he should have paid more attention to at first. If he had noticed them, if he had followed the instincts blessed upon him, then maybe it wouldn't have come to this. Maybe it wouldn't have gone this far?
It was all so subtle, no one else had caught on to what was right under their noses. He had only seen it because it was his friend. Although he hated to admit it, it was his best friend. Not that there was anything wrong with Reid, but when your best friend is a co-worker then your social life has taken a plummet.
He conceded the point was beyond plummet when he actually let Reid talk him into a History Channel exclusive unveiling of King Tut's tomb.
On a Saturday night.
Again, not that hanging out with Reid wasn't fun, even despite his helpful narration of an already boring show, but it was the night to go out. The night to dance, drink, and make love until the stars went to bed.
History luckily, he had thought, did not repeat itself in the form of a Star Trek marathon the following weekend. Morgan put his foot down there and then. Reid's big eyes begged, and he didn't budge. Given the boy's amazing powers of passive aggressive persuasion, cue a pouty lip, that's a feat in and of its self.
Unfortunately the sad doe eyes, quivering lip, and grasped pleading palms were still extremely effective on the rest of their team. The team that was there, in the bullpen, when Reid had asked. Morgan had to duck more then one glare, elbow, and dodge a Jolly Rancher thrown his way courtesy of Garcia.
"Hell no! Look," Morgan raised his hands up in literal defense of his being, "I gave up last weekend for a dried-up old dead guy. I'm going to need to see some soft, young lady moving herself in ways that would even make your mister Tut roll in his grave, to make up for that!"
Hotch actually came down from his office when objects had started to fly across the Bureau's floor aimed at one of his agents. Normally he wouldn't involve himself when his team became rowdy, but Rossi and Prentiss had joined with Garcia in the pelting of sweets. That, and Garcia was holding a Family Size bag.
If Strauss got wind of this, well, it would mean just one more visit. He'd have to explain why someone put their eye out while not in the field. How do you file Jolly Rancher incident under workers' comp?
"All right, enough!" Hotch commanded sternly, silently cursing that he used the same tone he did when Jack was misbehaving. Their reaction was near mirror image to that of Jack's, so he conceded that at least it was effective.
"He was making my baby boy cry!" Garcia snapped, her finger pointing accusingly at Morgan, who gasped at the accusation.
"Princess," He stepped around Hotch, who had taken the act of human shield between Morgan and the bag of poised sweets, "you need to get those pretty blue eyes checked. He's not crying! He's pouting. Would I ever make our boy cry?"
While Morgan and Garcia went off on technicality, everyone else shared a look. Reid dipped his head toward Hotch, swallowing hard as he whispered what they all were thinking, "Did they just conjointly claim me as their son?"
Hotch let out a sigh, a fragment of a smile crossing his lips, as arms crossed to watch Garcia give Morgan a thorough tongue lashing. "Reid, why do you have everyone attacking Morgan?"
"I didn't do anything," Reid stood tall beside Hotch. Unfortunately it did not completely compensate for the difference in height. "I just wanted to hang out Saturday. However, unless I'm up for a tow through the bars of D.C., it's looking more like it will be me and a book."
"I suppose the book is winning at the moment," Hotch commented, as they continued to watch the two fight. Rossi snatched the bag of candy deftly from Garcia's hand when she raised her arms over her head in frustration. He smiled, winked at Hotch, and took his prize up to his office to the unawares of the tech who'd just been robbed. "It might not be up your alley either, but Jack and I have a movie night every Friday when I'm not away."
"Really?" Reid asked, a childish smile pulling at his lips. The idea of a family doing normal things was sweet. Odd, but sweet. Somewhere in his head he placed family activities shown on the television under the same category as everything else that wasn't educational. AKA: fiction.
"Yes, and you're welcome to come if you like. Though," Hotch turned his head enough that Reid could see the smile dancing in those dark eyes, the one that rarely touch his lips, "Jack always gets to choose what we watch."
"I can work with that," Reid nodded back, his mind already in overdrive on the best ways to suggest the 'Wrath of Khan' that would grab a six-year-old's attention. His smile only brightened with the concept of how simple that should be.
"Don't get your hopes up too much," Hotch coughed into his hand, reading the train of thought Reid had silently partaken, "The movie 'Nine' has been something he's been very interested in watching for a while now."
"Tim Burton is cool too," Reid nodded, frowning and silently cursing at the child's apparently good taste in entertainment.
"Bring your movie as well," Hotch nodded, patting Reid on the shoulder. "Even if he says no, he does have a bedtime. We can watch it after he's asleep."
"Alright, it's a date!" Reid chirped, grinning ear to ear at the promise of company in sharing something he enjoyed. His smile deepened even more at the idea of sharing in something he'd never had. Normalcy.
The bickering between Morgan and Garcia had paused, so they could catch their breath, just as Reid had confirmed their plans for the evening. In fact, everyone in the bullpen, including the phone lines, had taken that exact breath of time to be silent, making the announcement the only sound that crossed the ears of everyone in the lower floor. A pin drop could be heard in the void that followed the proclaimed 'date'.
"W-Whoo~!" Reid stuttered, standing up on his chair to address the fellow FBI agents currently jaw dropped and stunned with shock. "H-Hold up," he squeaked, crossing his hands franticly in a 'time-out' fashion, "N-No! T-That is NOT what it sounded like~"
"Reid!" Morgan started for the man, to get him off the spinning office chair before he fell. Reid caught the severe look on his face, and miss interpreted it for anger instead of concern. Reflexively he took a step back, only there was no place to step back to. Furniture, long legs, and mis-matched blue and red striped socks did a flip through the air.
Hotch had the misfortune of also seeing the precarious perch of the genius, and had moved toward him to get him down as well. The misfortune being that said genius's tumble landed him sprawled across Hotch, who took both their weights as they hit the ground.
Hotch wanted to curse, but the air had been knocked out of him by a bony elbow to the diaphragm. Reid scrambled to pull himself off his stunned boss, sputtering apologies as he flushed bright red. "H-Hotch, I'm sooo~" a hand pressed into Aaron's stomach earned a muffled grunt from the elder man. If possible Reid's voice hitched up another notch, "And for that too! I'm so sorry!"
Morgan was there in that instant, pulling Reid up like he weighed no more then a sack of potatoes. Reaching down his hand to Hotch, he offered him help in standing. Morgan blinked, worried when Hotch didn't respond. His eyes were unfocused, as he blinked through the confusion clouding them. His face was a little flushed, and Morgan began to worry if the tumble hadn't caused a concussion.
"Hotch?" Morgan waved into his boss' line of sight. Hotch blinked again, his eyes clearing as he registered the arm before him. Grasping the appendage, Aaron let the agent haul him to his feet. "Hotch, you all right? You hit your head?"
"No… I'm fine," Hotch blinked again, his eyes darting about the room as he straightened himself. "I'll see you at seven. Just don't show Jack how to jump off the couch," Hotch muttered to Reid, pressing a hand to his brow as he left the bullpen for his office.
Reid gave a curt nod, and mouthed an I'm sorry at the retreating form. Pulling his chair back up off the ground, Spencer collapsed into its seat, burying his face in his hands. "Morgan, what am I going to do?"
"About?" Morgan asked nonchalant, gathering up some of the candies that littered the floor and dropping them onto his own desk for later.
"Don't ask the mean man! He wouldn't understand," Garcia soothed, taking a seat on the corner of Reid's desk, running bright polished fingers through the light brown hair. "You're going to pick up something for Jack's movie night. It will show Hotch that you're sorry, and make Jack happy."
"Hey," Reid lifted his pale, long face from his hands. His dark eyes looked finding Garcia, like the sun had risen behind her golden locks. "Garcia, you're right! That's a good idea." Reid leaned back into his chair, running a thoughtful finger over his top lip in contemplation.
"Of course it is Sweetness," She smiled, tapping his nose with her finger. "Movie nights always need snacks."
"Hey, I heard what you said," Morgan batted his eyelashes at Garcia, "How long you gonna keep me in the dog house for making genius here sad?"
Garcia tapped her chin, getting up from her seat as she moved to return to her computers. "I think a couple drinks on that wild outing you have planned for Saturday would make up for it," she flashed him a ruby lipped grin. Strutting her way out the door, she didn't wait for a confirmation.
"Hey, it's a date!" Morgan hollered after her.
Just as he did, a miracle occurred. Twice in less then fifteen minutes the bullpen hit another strange lull of silence. At this same moment Kevin had walked up to the still swung open door, his goal Garcia, but he stopped. His eyes went wide, his mouth dropped, and Morgan groaned as he braced himself for what was to follow.
Prentiss muttered something about the cosmos falling into alignment against the BAU this morning, as she watched Kevin sputtered on about the indignities of making advances on "his girlfriend."
Reid quirked a smile as Kevin's finger did hesitant, fearful, jabbing hits into Morgan's chest. He was already humoring himself with thoughts of movies, popcorn, soda, and company. If there was an alignment, which he seriously doubted there were any close enough to effect the gravitational pull of the ocean let alone the sound levels of the BAU, it couldn't be all bad.
"Now, what sort of 'snack' would be well received for our pre-determined social engagement?"
It never hurt to be safe though.
Morgan wasn't there for what happened next, but he was… He was there when Reid turned to Hotch to ask his opinion on a case. He was there when Reid needed someone to talk to, but it wasn't Morgan he went to. He was there when the games of cards they played on the jet grew less frequent.
It wasn't all the time. Reid would still come to him if he had a particularly hard issue. He would still sit with Morgan on the jet and play cards. Morgan was aware the change had started with Hotch's movie night. The fact that it continued every weekend didn't bother him, as it seemed to help Reid calm part of that socially frantic awkwardness.
Hotch was like a father figure to them all. Morgan knew when Gideon left, Reid had taken the departure like a repeat of his past. More so then anyone because Gideon had become more akin to a father then his real dad ever had. When Rossi joined he took up the mantle, to an extent.
Where Gideon had guided, Rossi stood back to let it play out. Sometimes Morgan thought of it as sink-or-swim mentality. Their parenting techniques were completely opposite. While Reid was still reliant on Rossi in some degree as Gideon's replacement, he wasn't nearly as dependent as he had been with Gideon.
He had seen Reid grow stronger. More independent. It scared Morgan sometimes, because it was like watching Reid standing on his own, alone. Part of him was waiting for a gust to come around and knock him down, and he wanted to be there for him if he fell.
So when Reid started to spend more time, more focus, on Hotch, Morgan noticed. He was probably the only one to notice the small shift in Spencer. At first, Morgan didn't mind. It seemed both of them were doing better. Reid was more grounded, and on more then one occasion Morgan actually caught Hotch smiling. It was during one of those smiles, during a musing about Hotch as a father figure to Reid, that every instinct of the profiler in him went off like an alarm.
If a father were looking at his child, like how Aaron Hotchner was looking at Spencer Reid right now, Morgan would have that man slammed into a station wall so fast his head would crack. Shaking his head, Morgan took several breaths, and used rationalization.
One, Hotch was straight. Two, Reid would have said something to him. Three, there was no way Hotch would break any rule involving fraternization with an SSA under his command, gay or straight. Never happen.
It worked. The look he had seen on the jet ride home from the ill fated case passed from his mind.
When they all got back, the lot of them voted to get wasted to take out some of the misery of the case. Hotch and JJ declined. JJ wanted to see Will and her son. Hotch wanted to get back to Jack. Reid declined as well, that was usual for him. They all poked and prodded, all the while he was insisting he had plans.
"You have a girl in those plans?" Morgan winked at his friend, giving him a nudge in the ribs which earned him a chagrined scowl.
"No, but I do have other things I'd rather do then spend the night bar hop~" Reid paused as his phone chirped. He pulled it from his pocket, flipping through a text. Sighing, Spencer relented, holding up his coat in the air and offering to silver cab to resounding cheers.
By the fourth bar, they were all plastered. Garcia, Prentiss, and Rossi were on the dance floor, stumbling about, but at this late hour everyone was. Morgan had just taken a break to get a drink at their table, finding it empty of people, but full of coats.
He didn't know why he did it, other then curiosity. He wanted Reid to date, to have someone he could love and love him in return. He knew the pin to the cell. He recognized the caller ID from the last text Reid received. He could read the words, and still it didn't make any sense. With how Reid's insistences that he had other plans, all of which were dismissed the moment he received the text, it screamed that Reid was dating. But this…
"Please tell me you guys are done soon!" Reid grumbled, returning from the restroom. Slipping back into his chair, he sipped on his coffee. He was tired, his eyes on the dance floor and their friends attempts to dance, but his gaze was miles away.
Spencer grinned, commented on how at least it was amusing. He never noticed Morgan had his phone, and Morgan couldn't get his mouth to work regardless. Slipping the cell back into his friend's jacket pocket, Morgan waited until he was sure his voice worked before he suggested they call it a night.
Reid drove them all home, back to their apartments, Morgan being the last to be dropped off. The entire ride he stole glances at his friend. His best friend. The entire ride he waited for him to say something, to tell him what he already knew. Spencer pulled into the driveway and asked him if he needed help getting inside. Morgan shook his head dumbly in shock, grabbed his coat, and told Reid a pleasant "good night" before heading up to his door.
Closing the door behind himself, he heard the SUV drive off. Closing his eyes, he wondered how they'd drifted so far apart. So far that something this big had happened in his life, and he wouldn't tell him. He had listed three reasons why this suspicion was preposterous. Three of the best reasons there could possible be, and they all were just shot to shit.
It only took two letters to confirm a fear that Morgan had long since put to rest in his mind. Just two letters, and the world as he knew it was undone.
The text had been from Hotch. It said "Go."
Small note; to 'silver cab' is an expression used for being a designated driver. It may not be an extremely popular one, but I liked it so I left it.