Ok, so this is the first chapter of a longer story. Only one chapter is going to be M because I'm not good with these scenes. Remember: Reviews make my day and will make me upload the next one quicker! ;) Do tell me if something is not understandable or if I made a mistake.
- CONFERENCE ROOM -
He felt a little jolt of excitement when he leant back a bit, just a teensy little bit, to hopefully catch a tad of his subordinate's scent as he walked by behind the chair. To be accurate, he didn't even realise the leaning back, or the reason for it, and asked himself where the funny feeling in his stomach came from. Two seconds later Penelope started to talk about murders that had happened in Miami and what they knew about them so far. Hotch's mind was quickly distracted by the file that was laid on the table in front of him, and with relief he concentrated on the case that was to solve.
- PLANE (ALSO KNOWN AS BAU JET ;)) -
"Why do you keep watching him?", he heard a voice from behind; he knew it was Prentiss.
Hotch felt a little jolt of guilt in his heart, but when he turned to her his expression was just a little worried. "Oh you know, I think Reid's not well. He can't concentrate and he takes more time outs than usually."
"Why don't you go and talk to him, then. Perhaps something bothers him. After all, you're his boss, that's your job."
"Yeah.", he said, feeling that he didn't want to. In fact, he had to admit that he had realised Reid's abnormal behaviour simply because he had watched him on a regular basis some time before it had started, and that he did not watch him because he looked ill. He wondered what that meant and whether it was really a good idea to get too close to him or not. One part of him seemed to be drawn to Spencer, perhaps a bit too much, and another part of him kept telling him he should keep away. But Prentiss was right, Reid was a member of his team and he was responsible for him. If he really was sick that meant his work was probably not up to the standard and that was bad for all of them.
"You know what, I'll do just that.", he told Prentiss and went over to Reid's seat. "Hey, can I talk to you for a mo?", he asked, hoping not to sound excited.
Reid looked up in surprise, made an awkward movement and the book he was reading fell to the floor. Clumsily he picked it up again, and Hotch saw him blush as he did so. "Oh sorry, I didn't... I mean... Yeah, of course you can. Do sit down, please."
Hotch obeyed. "Listen, I'm worried about you.", he said quietly, hoping that the others didn't overhear the conversation. "I noticed that you seem to be uneasy. Is there something that troubles you?"
Spencer flinched. "Oh no, I'm fine, really.", he said, trying to sound convincing. Hotch knew that it wasn't true. He knew his team member too well to be fooled by those words. He had seen the younger man blink and grabb his head whenever the sunlight hit his face. Something is wrong with him, Aaron thought.
Spencer seemed to understand that the could not fool his boss, so he quickly added: "You know, I had a little headache before we took off but now I'm feeling better. I'm just a bit tired now, really. You don't need to worry."
Involuntarily, Aaron leant forward and put his hand on Reid's knee while he looked in his eyes. "Spence, I can see that you're not all right.", he said softly. "You can tell me, really." Only a few seconds later he realised that he usually never called his subordinate 'Spence', no one did, and quickly took his hand away. He couldn't look away from those dark brown eyes though. Reid seemed to be troubled and averted his gaze, but Hotch couldn't tell whether it was because of the sudden intimacy or because he didn't want to show that he was unwell.
"Really, it's nothing. Don't bother, I'm fine!"
"Spencer, if you feel ill, you shouldn't come to work, you know that. Your performance today might not be as brilliant as usual if you're not concentrated well enough. If you don't want to stay at home, at least tell me what's up!"
His subordinate seemed to hesitate a moment. "Well... it really is just a headache."
"So, you still have that headache, then? When did it start?"
Reid sighed. "Two days ago."
"Two days?" Had he really failed to detect that Spencer was sick for so long? No, he had to admit that he had seen him avoiding and squinting at light whenever possible. He had just not thought about what this behaviour might mean. Aaron felt shock and a sting of guilt, while at the same time a small voice in his head said "So, why did you watch him all this time?". To lock that voice in a far away corner in his mind he said aloud "This is far too long. Did you try aspirin? Have you been to a doctor?"
Spencer nodded, still looking at his converse shoes. "I have tried medicine but it only works for some hours and I don't want to get addicted to the stuff. This morning I went to a doctor and he made MRI scans of my brain."
"An MRI? Goodness, this could be serious, Reid! For all we know it could be cancer!".
Finally, Spencer looked up, fear in his eyes. Again, Aaron realised too late that his hand was not where it should be but had wandered off and was now resting on his counterpart's left shoulder. But just as he observed this he could not move for a fraction of a second, his hand seemed to be glued to the other's back while these brown eyes wiped away every thought in his brain and stopped time. The moment was interrupted when the tiny voice in his head came back, saying "Why do his eyes make your heart beat faster?" He ignored it again.
"Hey", he said softly and with a comforting voice, getting even closer to Reid, even if that meant that their legs were now pressed against each other, but Reid did not back away, "Hey, I'm sure it will be OK. Even if it is cancer, I'm sure it can be dealt with."
"No it can't. Most brain tumours are inoperable."
Reid hung his head again.
"Good lord!", sighed Hotch, and while his left hand automatically grasped Spencer's, he spotted his other hand resting on Reid's lower back. Apparently it had wandered off again without asking. He wouldn't move it for the world, though.
"Spence, I'm so sorry for being so fierce before!" Damn, he had used that pet name again. He really had to be careful now! ("Do admit it, you feel something for him!", whispered the small voice.)
"Oh, never mind, really, actually I feel a bit better now that I shared this. And please, don't send me home, I couldn't stand having to wait for the results all alone. They said it will take about four days for them to develop and analyse the scans."
"Of course I won't let you go home! And if you ever want to talk about this, don't hesitate, you can come straight to me, all right? You're much more than just someone who works with me ["Oh yes!", said the voice in his head cheerfully], you're my friend!" ("Friend?", asked the voice, "Do you really believe that?")
"I definitely will."
"Is that a promise?", Hotch asked with one of his rare gentle smiles.
"Yep, that's a promise!", Reid smiled back. "But please, don't tell the others. They'd feel so helpless and treat me like a baby... and perhaps it's nothing."
Aaron knew that this was not a good decision, because his whole team were Spencer's friends, too and he felt they should know that he wasn't feeling right. However, another part of him was shining with pride that his subordinate only trusted him and didn't want anyone else to know about their secret. ("That's because you have a crush on him, admit it!", said the little voice in his brain. This insight made his cheeks blush a little, and "That's rubbish!", replied the part in his head that he hoped was reason.) He decided to nod instead. "All right. It's your choice whom you want to tell."
"Thank you. I really appreciate this!", answered Reid. He actually did look a bit better now. Aaron hoped that he had been too concerned with his own pain to notice his supervisor's nervousness.
"Right, I won't keep you from reading anymore.", replied Hotch and got up, his left hand resting just a bit too long on Reid's, but he told himself that it had nothing to do with brown eyes or a certain smile but that he was just being compassionate.