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***This is one I've been holding in the vault for awhile, guys. It was written months ago.


The First Lunch of the Rest of His Life

Prompts: Hotch/Reid; Character A & B spend their lunch break together

Chapter One

Whoever had told him that purple and orange were acceptable color combinations had obviously been pulling the world's dumbest practical joke.

And if Spencer Reid had been anyone else, Aaron would have found the purple shirt paired with the orange tie repulsive, but on his slender body, it was simply oddly endearing. Much like the dab of catsup spatter again the fair skin of his pointed chin.

He was such a contrast in color…and all of it blended together perfectly to create one of the oddly refreshing men he'd ever had the pleasure of knowing.

"You're staring," Reid whispered, his blonde brows furrowed as he stared at Aaron Hotchner across the table. "Is there something written on my forehead or something?" he asked self-consciously, reaching up to touch his high scrunched forehead.

"No," Aaron replied with a faint smile, shaking his head. "Your chin," he said, his hand involuntarily reaching out to gently wipe the red smudge from Reid's chin with his thumb.

"I need a bib, don't I?" Reid sighed, reaching for his napkin and swiping it across his mouth, the white paper deftly grabbing the offending condiment.

"It might definitely complete the ensemble," Hotch remarked, his lips twitching. There was something so innocent and childlike about the youngest member of his team while at the same time alluring and mysterious. Lost in thought as he studied Reid's expressive face across the Formica topped table, he blinked as he said, "I'm sorry, Reid. What did you say?"

Frowning, Reid's eyes narrowed on Hotch's handsome face. Something was definitely off kilter with his boss of several years...and had been for the last several weeks. Normally, he would have chalked it up to the effects of a busy month at the BAU coupled with the responsibilities of being a single parent. But there was something in his dark eyes just lately. A glimmer of something that Reid had yet to identify. And that put him off balance. There weren't many people on the planet that he couldn't at least get a cursory read on...but Aaron Hotchner had perfected the art of masking his feelings.

And as someone that had loved him for far longer than he cared to admit, that was disturbing.

Clearing his throat, Reid replied, "I was saying that while I was happy you invited me out to lunch, that you don't usually make going out a habit. You usually just grab a pack of crackers from the vending machine. So, I wanted to know what was going on?"

Well, the younger man had him there. Usually he holed up in his office during those rare weeks when the team wasn't on a case and caught up on the endless paperwork that accompanied their cases. But, his epiphany a week ago had made this lunch date a necessity. He needed to come clean with his colleague. The realization that these feelings he'd developed for Spencer Reid over the last several months weren't going to be a transient thing had left him with few options.

Either he could ignore the feelings he'd spent valuable time and energy trying to suppress or he could address the situation directly. Since he'd been trying the first to no avail, the second appeared to be the only viable option left at his disposal. So, here he sat.

With Reid.

Who now seemed to be looking at him as if he had grown a third eye in the center of his forehead.

Damn.

"I...erhmmm," Hotch replied, uncharacteristically finding himself searching for the correct words, the appropriate phases that would convey what he needed to express to the younger man. "This is even more difficult than I expected," he murmured to himself. Hell, he didn't even know with any certainty if Reid was remotely homosexual, or bi for that matter.

The thoughts were confounding him. And being perplexed had never been something he particularly enjoyed.

"What is?" Reid questioned, growing more confused as he watched Hotch grow even more uncomfortable.

Recognizing that he'd spoken aloud, Aaron's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "I invited you out this afternoon because there was something I wanted to discuss with you. Something...personal," he began to explain, shifting stiffly in his seat. Oh, hell. What had ever made him think this was a good idea? Especially now?

Something personal, Reid's mind reeled. Oh, God! Surely he hadn't been so obvious in his interest in the elder man sitting at the table. He'd been careful, hadn't he? He'd never allowed his gaze to linger to long...never allowed his questions to be considered too intrusive. "Personal?" Reid echoed hoarsely.

Noting the decreased pallor in his colleague's face, Hotch winced as he rushed to reassure him, "Reid, it's nothing you've done. This is my issue. Not yours."