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Something's Got To Give

Chapter One

"Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man in disunited with himself," Aaron Hotchner heard Spencer Reid announce from the open bathroom doorway into his bedroom, his voice factual and earnest as Aaron heard the water faucet twist off within.

Groaning to himself, Aaron dropped his head back against the pillow. Sweet God, were they going to have this debate again for the fourth time in two weeks? Tonight? Of all damn nights?

"Spencer," Hotch moaned, forcing himself to keep a true whine from his voice. "It's our anniversary, for God's sake. Do we have to have this conversation again?"

Appearing in the open door, Reid stared across the room at his shirtless lover, already stretched across the bed. "Is there a better time? Ever?" he asked, carefully keeping his voice free of judgment. Flipping off the light to the bathroom, Reid padded barefoot toward the bed, every step measured. "Could you at least think about what I said?"

"Don't you mean what Ralph Waldo Emerson said?" Hotch retorted, immediately regretting the sarcastic bite in his tone as he watched Spencer's eyes shutter and his thin body stiffen. Inhaling deeply, he turned on his side. "I'm sorry, Spencer," he apologized softly, attempting to will the younger man to meet his eyes, "That was out of line. Of course I heard what you said. And I have thought about it." Watching as the younger man slipped off his watch, the gift he'd given him tonight as a hallmark to their first anniversary, Hotch sighed. "But taking our relationship public just isn't an option right now," he said quietly for what felt like the fiftieth time. And even as he heard himself mutter the same words once again, he realized that they probably held as little sway as they had the previous times. He added almost belatedly, "And it's not because I'm disunited with myself or disenchanted with myself or anything else."

"Really?" Reid asked stiffly, his lips pursing as he crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the man he'd fallen in love with. "Because it seems to me that if you were comfortable with our relationship and in your own sexuality that this wouldn't be an issue at all. When two people are in love, I generally thought it was an accepted practice to want to shout it from the proverbial rooftops. Now, I accept that this is a romanticized notion perpetuated by the masses, but the idea has general merit. In my opinion, we should at least be able to tell our closest friends...our teammates, if you will...our family that we're involved in a relationship deeper than mere colleagues.," the younger man stressed, his lips pressing together tightly.

Jesus, Hotch thought grimly, something had to give here. Neither of them could keep traveling around in this endless loop of an argument indefinitely. "Reid," Hotch said, his voice deepening, "you know why I'm resistant to the idea of publicizing our private life. I've told you the same thing every time we've had this discussion."

"And during the first half of this past year, I agreed with you. Our relationship was...new. Neither one of us knew where it was going or if it could even last. Keeping it private was the natural choice. But, Aaron, it's been a year. Twelve months. Three hundred and sixty five days that have all been filled with the same deception. I don't like being a dirty little secret."

"Have you been watching those Lifetime movies again?" Hotch sighed tiredly as Reid perched on the edge of his side of the bed.

"Don't be a jerk," Reid snapped, his shoulders stiffening at the question, hating the feeling of marginalization that always seemed to overtake him in the midst of these conversations. "I know it sounds clich├ęd but that's how I feel, Aaron. Don't make fun of me for it."

Lifting a hand to run his fingers down Spencer's naked spine, Hotch smiled. They'd come a long way in the past year. There was a time Dr. Spencer Reid would never have dared made a statement so assertive. But after twelve months together, the younger man was no longer nervous about speaking his own mind, at least in the privacy of their respective homes. Some of the independent attitude had even carried over to the BAU, and it made for a sharper, more well honed profiler. And Aaron had to admit that he was extremely grateful for the changes in all areas. "Okay, you're right," Hotch admitted. "That was an asshole thing to say."

"Glad to know you can recognize it," Reid muttered, trying to ignore the warm slide of Aaron's fingertips against his back, his shiver coming involuntarily. "Aaron, can't you see that what I once saw as new and exciting now feels dishonest and illicit? I don't want to feel that way about what I'm doing with the person I love. It's not fair to live a lie. Not now."

"Keeping our private life private isn't dishonest," Hotch countered, frowning at Spencer's back. "Spencer, we work for an agency that has rules against what we're doing," he reminded his lover as gently as he knew how. "Big, big rules. Non-fraternization policies almost written in human blood. Not to mention that we're two men breaking those rules together. And while I know the official party line of non-discrimination at the Bureau, in actuality..."

"Aaron, stop," Reid interrupted sharply. "You're making excuses again. I'm not talking about putting up a billboard outside the Federal Building announcing our homosexuality. I'm talking about confiding in our team. You know, those people that have our backs on a daily basis. When did you start distrusting our family?" he asked, genuinely confused at his lover's reluctance to include their friends in their happiness.

"Is it so wrong that I don't want to open our personal lives to scrutiny, Spencer?" Hotch asked softly, dropping his hand as he leaned back against his pillow.