HEY THERE OBLIVIOUS
The smiling face in front of Hotch began to fade. "What's happening?", he wanted to say but realised he was murmuring. "Spencer?"
Only then he became aware of the fact that his eyes were not open as he had believed before. And he was not bathing in water but lying in a bed. It had all been a dream? How disappointing!
He heard somebody say "Yes?" and was mildly surprised.
Hotch opened his eyes and the world swam hazily into view. There were people standing one side of his bed. Two people.
There was pain in his right shoulder. He closed his eyes again and wanted to fall asleep again.
"What happened?", he asked through gritted teeth.
There was a moment of hesitation before he heard Reid's voice. "You're in hospital. You got shot when we cornered Ian Ruthford."
There were several seemingly unconnected flashbacks. "Ah... Did we get him though?"
"Yep. He confessed." The young man sounded confident.
"Wait, who's taking care of Jack?"
"Don't worry, Jessica is."
There were more pieces of his memory falling into place and he dared opening his eyes again. "How come the shipwreck was involved in the case?"
"Uh... what shipwreck?" This was Morgan, looking rather concerned.
Probably he doubted his boss' sanity since Hotch realised that the shipwreck had been part of the wonderful dream. "Just a dream...", he replied, noticing how difficult it was to breathe and speak simultaneously. "I was on this lovely little island. It was all like ancient Greece. Reid was there, too."
"According to dream interpretation islands mean loneliness.", Reid started.
"Just forget it, right? He needs to rest!", Morgan snapped, unusually harsh as Hotch noticed and he frowned a little.
"The organisation of society was a little weird but everyone was really nice. The king even gave me a house and I lived right next to a temple.", he went on, not wanting them to leave.
"Hotch, you're talking nonsense! I bet it's the meds...", Morgan said, sounding slightly exasperated.
"I think it was Minerva's temple... There was a statue."
"Actually it's Athena.", said Reid. Hotch just blinked at the younger man, his dazed mind not quite able to follow. "Minerva is the Roman name for Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom and-"
"Reid! I don't think Hotch's in the mood for a tirade about Roman gods!", Morgan interrupted, "Now he's awake we'd better go and let him rest."
"Greek gods! He said he dreamt of ancient Greece!", Reid meticulously corrected him.
"Please don't go!", Hotch said. "One of you, at least! I don't want to be all alone..."
"I'll stay.", Reid offered, "Derek has been here for the last four hours." This surely explained Morgan's strained mood. "The whole team did shifts. Ten minutes ago mine started."
So soon their colleague said goodbye and went home and Hotch was left to a lecture on Athena and other aspects of ancient Greek culture. He was thankful that he didn't need to speak much and was surprised how entertaining Reid's rambling could be if one only found the time to actually listen to him.
In the evening his subordinate left as well and Hotch's only company were a rather unfriendly night nurse, two only vaguely entertaining TV shows and his contemplating the lovely yet slightly disquieting dream he had had. Disquieting since he had dreamt of Reid as his servant whom he had been absolutely crazy about. Lovely since the whole time it hadn't bothered him the slightest and up to the point when he had woken he had felt warm and comfortable and strangely at peace. He hadn't felt like that for a long time.
Several days later Hotch was allowed to leave hospital. He had had to do numerous last health checks and now he was packing his things while he waited for JJ. He had called her the day before to ask whether she would drive him home since his own car was at home and he wasn't able to take the bus carrying his luggage. His shoulder wasn't entirely healed yet. As he packed his last items he heard a knock and how the door opened. He turned and was pleasantly surprised to find Reid entering his room.
"Hi! You here with JJ?", Hotch asked and turned towards his bag to hide his smile.
"Uh, no. Didn't she call? Henry's got some sort of fever and she asked me to come instead."
"You mean you have a driving licence?", he joked.
Hotch heard Reid sigh behind him. "Always the tone of surprise..."
He looked back at the other man. "I'm sorry. I've just never seen you driving."
"Well, I've got to admit that I am a little out of practice since I don't need my car much."
When both agents walked on the parking lot Hotch saw the reason why his subordinate didn't use his car a lot- it looked like it was going to fall apart any minute. He found that, rather reasonless, he preferred being brought home in this old, battered, light green Fiat than in JJ's big and safe jeep.
He had been thinking while he had been at the hospital. A lot. After all, there wasn't much else to do in between the nurse checking up on him and occasional visits from David or his son accompanied by Jessica. There had been time enough to think. And he had made up his mind about his dream. Reid had been right about the loneliness part. But Hotch had also realised that the bit he had found so weird was actually true. He was mad about his subordinate. He craved for him, every waking moment. The yearning was so strong it hurt and regularly gave him sleepless night now. Hotch knew that either he was going to hide his feelings or he was going to confess them, and he hadn't quite made up his mind about what to do yet.
When he thus sat in the passenger seat next to Reid he fervently tried to think of something intelligent and interesting to say. He felt his heart beat accelerate as his mind failed to come up with something coherent. He had hoped that perhaps he might be able to arrange some sort of meeting just between the two of them without the younger man discovering his intentions. However, he realised then that he was behaving much like a teenage girl who was in love for the first time and decided to act more straightforwardly. He did want Reid to discover his intentions.
He saw that they were already rather close to his home. "I... uh... I wondered... do you have any plans for tonight?" That sounded all right, didn't it? It was casual and yet implied 'date'.
The other seemed very slightly taken aback by the question. "Er... tonight? No I don't. Why?"
"Um. Would you like to have dinner with me then?" Now that, he was sure, implied 'date' with bold letters.
"Oh... Yeah, sure."
His insides happily made a somersault. A quick nervous sideward glance showed that Reid was mainly focused on the traffic. He didn't appear unnerved by his supervisor's question at all. Hotch read that as a good sign. "I know a good Italian not far from here. I'll pick you up at seven, okay?"
Reid wasn't oblivious to it, was he? He could be so bloody oblivious to things like that! He sometimes wouldn't even recognize a clue about somebody hitting on him if it danced right in front of him, screaming and wearing a colourfully blinking sign around it's neck saying 'Notice me I'm a clue!'. For all he knew his question simply implied 'dinner with my boss because he's lonely and I'm a nice person'. Should he give an even broader hint, just for safety? As Hotch was contemplating about what to say next they were already driving up to his home and he decided that the broad hint could wait until they were having dinner.
Just as Hotch had cast his first glance at the menu he heard something that sent an ice-cold shiver of dread down his spine. "Guys, I don't believe it! What are you doing here?" Prentiss' cheerful voice made him look up and he saw she was standing right next to their table, an unknown dark haired man standing rather close behind her.
"W... we're having dinner.", he replied lamely. "How about you?", he asked to hopefully shift everyone's focus to the stranger.
"I'm on a blind date." She was blushing a little as she answered. Then she turned and introduced the man standing behind her. "Guys, that's Gerald Johnson. Gerry, this is Aaron Hotchner, my boss, and Spencer Reid, a friend from work."
Gerald Johnson frowned. "So you're working with gay people?", he dismissively said.
Hotch fought the desire to close his eyes in desperation. There was his broad hint. "We're not a couple, just so you know.", he said, his voice heavy with irony.
"According to Kinsey there are only very few people who are entirely heterosexual or entirely homosexual.", Reid piped up. Everyone turned to look at him aghast. "Most people have a certain grade of bisexuality but this grade can vary from situation to situation. Kinsey has developed a scale where you can rate someone's sexuality from zero to six, zero standing for..." He trailed off since everyone continued to stare at him as if he had lost his marbles. There was an awkward pause. Reid cast all of them a look back, apparently not understanding their bewilderment. "I know it sounds a little weird but the theory is widely accepted."
"Uh. Right. I think we'll just go over to our table.", Prentiss finally managed to say and turned, dragging Johnson along with her.
Both men watched her go for two seconds before looking at each other.
"So, what does zero stand for?", Hotch said just to break the awkward silence.
"On that scale you mentioned. Tell me about it!"
Reid blinked. "You mean you really want to know?"
"Yes I do." He really did. It might explain a lot about his feelings. "Although... let's decide on what to eat first." Reid's explanations tended to be rather lengthy.
The young genius nodded and glanced at his menu again. Hotch, however, didn't look down. He had to vigorously fight the notion to lean over the table and cover Reid's face with kisses. He wanted to bury his head in his neck to take in his very own smell while his hands stroked the other's cheeks-
"Did you decide on the wine, sir?"
He flinched and almost fell off his chair out of shock. "S... Syrah please.", he managed to utter.
"Very well, sir.", the waiter said before he went to ask Reid the same question.
"You didn't have to pay for me, too, you know!"
"Yes, I know."
"Treating someone is really a completely redundant relict from over one hundred years ago when women didn't earn any money. My salary is high enough to pay for my food!"
"You're also not a woman."
"Um. Yes." The young man seemed slightly lost for words before he vividly nodded. "That just proves my point even more!"
Hotch sighed. "Reid, I'm trying to be polite!"
"But you don't have to!"
"I know. But I want to."
"You had to listen to me all night. I must have bent your ears!"
He shook his head. "No, not at all. I enjoyed it."
His subordinate cast him an ambiguous glance and frowned just a little bit. "You know, even Prentiss paid for her own food." It was a last resort and it was a weak one. Reid knew he had lost the battle.
"Yes, but her date went really bad.", Hotch explained. "Her smile was getting more and more forced throughout the rather short time they were here. She was avoiding eye contact and didn't talk much. It's no wonder, her first impression of him was not very well. Showing that one is homophobic is never a smart move on a first date."
Reid nodded in agreement. "Sharing disfavour establishes trust but on a first date this is too high a risk. One might easily appear like an entirely negative person."
"And her paying was a sign she didn't want Johnson have anything to do with her." Hotch lifted an eyebrow. "Do you want to tell me you feel the same about me?"
"N... No! No, I don't. Of course not!" Reid's cheeks blushed and he looked at his slender fingers that fiddled with the napkin.
The drive back to Reid's home was quiet. The young man didn't talk at all but seemed buried in thought or sleepy, Hotch couldn't exactly tell. Recapitulating the evening he thought things had gone rather well except their fight over who was paying. He didn't mind the uncomfortable encounter with Johnson much although he didn't want Prentiss telling people at work she had seen them. Currently he was trying to find the perfect way to ask for a second date. He didn't want to appear desperate and yet he wanted to ask. During their conversations he had thrown in a variety of hints, not too obvious but they must have been readable for a normal person. He wasn't sure whether Reid had noticed even a single one of them. He was already getting slightly desperate. Hotch didn't want to make a confession since he was sure the other would be too overwhelmed. But if he understood the hints he might start thinking about them as more than just friends and perhaps, just perhaps, fall in love with him, too.
When they came to a halt in front of the young agent's house Hotch got out of the car without any comment. He walked to the other side and waited until Reid had gotten out as well and then walked him to the door of his apartment. How much more obvious could he be?
Soon they stood in front of the door. Hotch had to ask now or it would be too late. "Well. Thanks for spending the evening with me. I though it was very nice. Would you mind if we... uh... did that again some time?"
Reid still didn't show any reaction. "Sure." Could somebody really be that oblivious?
"Great!" He couldn't help smiling a little. "I... uh... I should go now, we've got to get up early tomorrow. See you!"
"What? No kiss goodbye?"
For a fraction of a second Hotch just stared at the other, trying to figure out just how serious he was. He really couldn't tell whether Reid was joking or not. Then something inside his head snapped and he leant forward to do as he was asked. Their kiss was short and gentle, almost innocent. It was over before he could think of anything else than Reid's lips feeling softer than in his dream.
When he withdrew there was a moment of hesitation between them. Hotch didn't let it develop into an awkward silence and said, "Well, see you tomorrow at work." It was all his mind was able to bring up at short notice. He didn't hear his subordinate's door open as he went back to his car and thought he must still be standing where he left him, probably staring at him in shock or at least bewilderment.
Hotch didn't sleep much that night. He kept cursing himself for acting so stupidly. It could have gone on forever like that, he meeting Reid once in a while, on a purely friendly basis. Now he was probably going to be sacked for harassment instead and his subordinate would do everything he could to never ever see him again.
On his way to work he thus felt exhausted but also exceedingly nervous. He could stand an enraged Erin Strauss firing him, even a sneering Erin Strauss firing him. He could almost certainly not stand seeing Reid again though. Yet Hotch also knew that it would be easiest if he discussed it with him as soon as possible. To postpone the inevitable embarrassing conversation he went to a coffeeshop for his first coffee of the morning, something he usually never did. He felt, like this time, he was unable to cope with all the thousand choices they offered at those places. He just wanted a normal cup of coffee, no milk, no sugar, thank you very much.
As he was standing in the queue Hotch was poring through the offers displayed behind the counter and attempted to decide on what over-sweetened, fancy-named and over-priced product he was going to try. After making his choice he noticed that the reason why he had made the detour into the coffeeshop had become obsolete. The object of his desire was standing right in front of him in the queue and he wasn't exactly happy about it this time. Having the embarrassing conversation for all the world to see and hear was going to be a real nightmare. He should have remembered that Reid occasionally had paper cups of this brand of coffeeshop with him.
Shortly Hotch thought of ignoring his subordinate. Maybe the young genius didn't see him. However, he knew that everything would become even more antagonising than it already was if Reid did notice his presence. He'd hardly be able to explain why he hadn't said hello. Overlooking someone in plain view was the least thing one expected from a profiler, even if it was an unnerved profiler with considerable lack of sleep.
"Morning Reid!", he therefore said and was glad that at least his voice didn't betray how tense he felt.
The younger man turned, a surprised expression on his face. And then Hotch knew that if there was a heaven, somebody there liked him a lot because his subordinate smiled as he greeted him. He couldn't quite explain why Reid wasn't angry at or afraid of him. Maybe he had thought that everything was part of some sort of weird joke? He didn't bother finding out though, the world had suddenly become fantastic and brilliant, he felt like drowning in relief and in his splendid mood Hotch offered the other a ride to the headquarters since he knew the younger man always travelled by metro. And even though his coffee tasted positively disgusting he decided to pay this particular coffeeshop more visits.
They didn't talk much in the car since neither of them were morning persons but Hotch kept thinking that he somehow had to address the situation. He wanted to know the reason for the genius' reaction at the coffeeshop.
"I'm sorry.", he finally said.
"I didn't mean to scare you yesterday."
"You didn't scare me."
"As far as I know kissing is a common final act of a successful date."
"Yes... uh... it is." So he had noticed. After a small pause he added, "So you don't mind?"
"Not at all, no."
"Can I kiss you again?"