Title: Canada

Warnings: PG-13/T (profanity, pre-slash, mentions of het). Additionally I don't have issues with Canadians, I like them, they are very nice people but I needed a place to crash the jet and I found a big, nice wilderness in Canada.

Pairings: Hotch/Reid

Summary: Hotch and Reid are returning from a consult when the jet crashes in the wilderness. With the pilot dead, they must rely on each other for survival..Written for hotchxreid promptmeme.

Word count: ~12 000

DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. I just took them out to play and I promise to put them back when I'm done. I also don't own anything else you can recognize from other places.

Feedback is welcomed with open arms.


Canada

It was a last minute custodial in Anchorage and by last minute it was really last minute one. Trevor and Hoskins from team B who were supposed to lead it day before they were supposed to leave had a car accident the rest of their team was in the field chasing a pedophile in North part of the New York State, team C was in Oregon chasing serial arsonist, D was preparing to leave for Atlanta which meant that the custodial was left to team A, Aaron's team.

Originally Aaron assigned the custodial to Dave and Morgan but right in the morning of their departure when Aaron was preparing himself to get to work Morgan called him and apologizing profusely he asked for a switch because his younger sister was giving birth to her first child, about two weeks prematurely. Aaron told him to not worry and to not bother about returning to DC until after Christmas since there was no point in taking three days off to return to work for two days of work before heading back to Chicago for Christmas.

Next thing he called Prentiss, he didn't even consider calling JJ who was at home with once again sick Henry. When Prentiss picked up she sounded as if sometime during the weekend Sergio decided to eat her and then changed his mind and decided to spit her back up. Violent food poisoning with a fever, not fit for travel.

So he called Reid who to Aaron's relief said fine and that he didn't mind spending some time in Anchorage.

Happy that everything was taken care of Aaron headed to work. He barely managed to step into his office when his phone rang. Dave was calling that he was heading to Long Island because his idiotic younger brother had almost got himself killed in a car crash and that someone needed to kill him properly and to make sure that his hysterical wife won't do anything stupid. Upon further questioning Aaron learned that younger Rossi knocked himself into a coma by running into a tree in his own backyard.

So Aaron told him to not worry about it and to take care of his family before he called Jess that something very urgent came up and that he needed to take care of it and he promised that he would be home before Christmas.

Their way to Anchorage Reid and Aaron spent partly reviewing the case files and partly sleeping. The interview went well, meaning Richard Greystone admitted to all of his misdeeds, didn't try to kill them and when the interview was over he came back to his cell like a good boy.

They flew to Anchorage, they did their job and they boarded the jet for a return flight. It was this simple.

It should have been this simple.

Since the flight was supposed to be a long one Aaron and Reid did the only logical thing they could do considering that the return in good weather conditions would take about ten hours, they went to sleep.

When Aaron jolted awake he realized immediately that something was wrong. Chris Parker and Gary Tucker who for most of the time piloted the jet, along with another two pairs of pilots, Harry Hirsham, Ben Maverick, Nate Gaston and Jim Bonnetti, but Chris and Gary primarily handled Aaron's team flights, had never flew the jet such erratically the damn thing was moving like a boat, from left to right and from right to left.

Aaron sat up on the seat and looked around the cabin which he had found empty. He spared a single thought hopping that Reid didn't decide to visit the bathroom when the weird movement started before he moved towards the cabin to check upon Chris and Gary.

Suddenly as he was about to reach the cabin the jet jolted violently and started falling down which sent Aaron straight at the door or where the door would have been and he fell into the cabin like a bullet, in the last second he managed to threw himself to the right to land on second pilot's seat on which he gripped tightly.

Chris in the next seat was cursing feverishly, in Russian between yelling 'Mayday', 'SOS' but Aaron didn't care because right in front of him had appeared the surface of rapidly nearing frozen lake or big river.

"Sit the fuck down because I'm not going to scrap your remains from the windshield!" he heard a violent hiss. "Oh fucking shit. No, no, nonono... Fuck!"

The jet leveled for a moment and Aaron slipped into the seat he was holding on for a dear life before he quickly buckled himself. The jet was still descending but less violently than before.

Aaron looked to the left to ask Chris what happened and his mouth dropped when he realized that it wasn't Chris who was sitting on the other side of the cockpit but wide-eyed, hair-frizzled and white-faced Spencer Reid.

"Don't, just don't," Reid growled. "Get on the radio and chant Mayday... Holly shit."

The jet jerked again and took another, this time more violent dive.

"Reid!" Aaron howled. "What you are doing?"

"Trying to make sure that I will live to my thirty-first... shit," Reid yelped. "No, no, no."

Reid was pulling the joystick as hard as he could towards himself and Aaron immediately settled his hands on the one in front of him and pulled hard.

The jet was still descending but the descend was slower and leveled. Reid was holding on the joystick for a dear life but he still tried to contact any airports, without success. Aaron didn't even had a faintest idea if they were still flying above North America.

"We aren't going to crash, we aren't going to crash," Reid chanted.

"You know as long as we are flying above the river it's great but..."

Something cracked loudly. The frozen river was getting closer and closer.

"Let go!" Reid hissed.

Aaron let the joystick out of his hands and closed his eyes, just for a moment to not think about impending...

The impact of colliding with hard surface made him open his eyes just as a tree appeared and disappeared in the corner of his right eye. Then he heard a loud crash, the plane slowed turning slightly towards the opposite bank of the river, action which was followed by another loud crash and suddenly everything fell silent.

Aaron looked at Reid who looked as if all blood had drained from his face.

"Hotch?" he chocked out questioningly. "Are you?"

"Going to kill you?" Aaron whispered. "Right after I will regain trust in my limbs to keep me in vertical position. What the hell was that?"

"I landed Bureau's Gulfstream 550 on a frozen river or lake in the middle of fucking nowhere by my estimations somewhere in Canada. We lost left engine, both pilots, right wing and the tail. And trust me the first thing I'm going to do after reaching DC would be applying for private pilot's license because without it all the king's horses and all the king's men aren't going to get me into an airplane ever again," Reid snorted weakly.

Aaron's mind concentrated on the most important part and he asked, "Both pilots?"

"Chris and Gary are dead," Reid answered shakily. "Gary was cold when I realized that something was wrong, I don't know why. Chris... it looked to me like... what's the name of that bird that allegedly delivers children?"

"Stork," Aaron supplied. "You think that it was a stroke?" Aaron asked.

"Perhaps, perhaps not, either way they are both dead and we are in the middle of fucking nowhere," Reid sighed.

Regaining the composure and trust in their limbs took them few minutes after which Aaron left the cockpit to asses the damage. Like Reid said both Chris and Gary were dead and from the look of it Gary died in his sleep.

Leaving the jet proved to be very hard because the stairs couldn't be completely lowered but Aaron managed to open them with an emergency button and stuck his head outside the cabin.

The left wing had no engine, the tail crashed into a tree which luckily for Aaron and Reid toppled in the other direction than the place where the jet was standing.

From where he stood Aaron couldn't see the other wing but he didn't smell the smoke or spilled fuel which was a good thing. He went down the ramp and reached solid ground.

The landing luckily didn't crack the ice so Aaron was able to asses the full damage in few minutes.

"We lost both engines and a tail," he told Reid when he returned to the cabin.

"We lost the radio too, we have no cell-phone coverage and we still have two dead pilots. Not that I'm complaining but the temperature inside the jet is still higher than outside..." Reid started.

"They deserve something more than being thrown outside into wildness," Aaron said.

"I know," Reid nodded. "I was only making a point that I'm not physically fit enough to move two dead bodies without help and we are going to need one of the parachutes, not that they are going to be very useful in current circumstances."

"Can you salvage something useful from the parachute?" Aaron asked.

Reid nodded.

Canada

Two hours later Chris and Gary were buried in a makeshift grave under a mass of snow, wrapped in the fabric from one of the parachutes and Aaron and Reid were back on the jet drinking the remains of not very warm coffee. They still didn't have contact with the rest of the world nor the idea where they had ended. The best answer Reid had given Aaron was 'We are somewhere in Ontario I think.'

Because it was still dark after one last check of their surroundings they went to sleep after locking themselves securely in the cabin of the jet.

When Aaron awoke again Reid was gone and the blankets which Reid used during the night were covering Aaron securely. Aaron checked the jet but he hadn't found Reid in the cabin or the cockpit. After he put his jacket on Aaron peeked out from the cabin and saw Reid standing on the top of the small hill and when Reid saw him he waved with his purple scarf and motioned up towards the hill.

"Grab the gear!" Reid hollered. "I found something."

"A bear?" Aaron hollered back.

"Place to stay," Reid called back.

"Owner?" Aaron called out.

"Dead," Reid yelled. "For few days by my estimations."

Moving the gear wasn't hard though the alleviation of the terrain made it difficult to climb up without the help of the line, luckily for Aaron when Reid climbed up he predicted that he would need it in getting down and tide one to one of the trees so after Aaron rounded it up he pulled it up before he dropped the line again to help Aaron climb up with the assurance.

The place to stay turned out to be a small cottage with two floors, chimney and a mass of snow in front of the front door, the reason why Reid needed the gear, their shovel might not have been a very big but at the very least it was a shovel.

Once Reid cleared the path to the front door Aaron picked up his flashlight and peeked inside.

The house was just as small inside as it appeared from the outside at the same time it seemed quite cozy considering nearly spartan interior. Downstairs there was a kitchen which occupied the biggest part of the floor and opened into a living-room with a dinning corner. In the far right end there was a room, probably a bathroom or a pantry next to which was open study with heavy bookshelves which were overflowing with books and small desk. The stairs which seemed to divide the space downstairs were close to the right side of the house and most probably lead to the bedroom since Aaron hadn't seen a bed downstairs.

Then his eyes had settled on the freezer.

"I think that we have electricity here," Aaron said as he looked around searching for a phone.

He hadn't found any and when he checked his cell-phone he saw that the coverage was just as nonexistent like it was down by the river.

Suddenly he heard a loud thump followed by a small yelp which sounded very much like, "Shit."

He whirled around and saw the top of Reid's head over newly appeared mount of snow in his path.

"I found a solar panel," Reid announced as he stood up and started pushing the snow out of his path.

"So there is a chance that when I will open the fridge nothing will jump out of it trying to kill me?" Aaron asked.

"Most probably," Reid said and quickly added, "That looks like a switch to me."

When Reid was done with clearing the path and getting their gear inside Aaron searched the house. Primarily he wanted to ascertain the existence of anything which would allow them the contact with the rest of the world but without luck. In the meantime Reid inspected the other floor.

"Good news, bad news," he said as he was coming down the stairs. "There is a big bedroom upstairs with a gigantic bed. Our deceased host was a very dedicated hunter and I found few bear's skins upstairs, also a mass of blankets. Any luck with the phone?"

"No," Aaron answered. "But the study appears to hold many maps and the kitchen has a lifetime supply of canned ravioli, canned beans, canned soups and the freezer holds a lot of frozen meat of unknown origin. The only thing which I can ascertain is that it isn't human so we are safe. There is no cooker or oven but there is a cauldron of reasonable size. I will start the fire and will boil the water and you can knock yourself out in the study."

About an hour later the fire in the fireplace was roaring pleasantly and its warmth was banishing the cold from Aaron's limbs. The water in the cauldron was boiling and Aaron quickly proceed to make tea. In the meantime Reid immersed himself into studying the maps he found in the study. Aaron found him in the same position he left him over spread sheets of maps.

"How it's going in there?" Aaron asked.

"My first assumption was correct," Reid said. "We are in Ontario, nothing more specific and I hadn't found anything which could help me narrow the area to more specific location. The man was map fanatic and it seems that he kept many diaries, I will knock myself out with them later on."

"I will start the... meal then," Aaron said. "Drink your tea while it's still warm," he added.

"Yes mum," Reid muttered before he buried himself in the maps again.

Aaron shook his head and wandered away to the kitchen. He cooked the soup and roasted the steaks from time to time checking on Reid around whom the pile of maps and notebooks only increased and Aaron couldn't help but hope that Reid would be able to find the answer, at the very least the name of any nearby village.

Reid was so immersed into diaries that he continued reading them even as he ate his lunch.

"Do you need a hand?" Aaron offered.

"Nope, I'm fine," Reid shook his head. "I hadn't found anything interesting or very informative at this point."

"Do you have anything for me to do?" Aaron asked.

"Yes, actually you can get out of my sight and don't interrupt me," Reid muttered.

"You could have simply say no," Aaron pointed out.

"I'm simply saying no," Reid shrugged before he set the empty bowl down and picked the diary he was reading and came back to the desk.

Aaron cleaned the dishes and tidied up the kitchen wondering what else he could do other than burying the owner of the cottage, for safety measures to not attract wild animals and he really didn't feel like getting out.

Finally he settled for a very solid inspection of the room upstairs. It turned out to be a single bedroom without any adjective bathroom but at the very least it was warm and the bed was big enough to allow him and Reid sleeping without getting into each others personal space. He ended picking one of the bears skin and after few minutes he was outside digging the grave for the man.

"I feel like an accomplice of a murderer," he muttered to himself when he started checking the man's pockets for any id or any information concerning their current location. "But there are worse things in the world than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a grumpy genius," he added as he stood up and started slowly moving the body of their deceased host towards the grave. "Sorry for that, you will get a proper burial once we will figure where we are and how we can reconnect with the civilization."

After he was finished he came back inside and found Reid where he left him pouring over diaries and maps so he settled himself on preparing the dinner.

He never understood the appeal of the cottage in rural Virginia it had for Gideon, he had been few times there before and after Boston and predictably like always when he thought of Gideon and what became of him (no one really knew) his thoughts came back to Reid.

It was hard to believe that it had been four years since Gideon left and Aaron wondered for a brief moment if Gideon would like to find out what became of the team, especially of Reid whom Jason took under his wings like a son.

Reid no longer seemed to be affected by Gideon's disappearance, hadn't in a very long while and since Prentiss's ''death' he seemed to grow even more mature than before. He no longer hesitated, no longer required reassurances, became more assertive and confident with his abilities, some of which had improved like his shooting abilities. Aaron heard half-halfhearted praise/complaints from Agent Green from the shooting range than Reid was spending all of the hours assigned to the range there and had circled through every pistol or revolver Green had at his disposal, in fact according to Green in the spring Reid always circled between his Smith and Wesson and two Glocks until his aim had improved considerably that he could shoot a passing score on his firearms qualification with his eyes bound.

Aaron peered over the couch to look at Reid who was just as immersed in his work as before but Aaron could see that his shoulders were tensed and even though Reid was a fast reader it was evident that he switched from reading to paging through the diary skipping over the words.

Suddenly the diary surged through the air, hit the bookshelf on the opposite side of the house before it fell to the floor with a small thump. When Aaron looked up Reid was paging through another diary with a disgusted look on his face within a minute the diary joined the other diary on the floor and Reid stood up, walked to the door and closed them behind himself with heavy thud.

Aaron frowned and he quickly picked up abandoned diaries wondering what could have angered Reid so much. He opened the first diary somewhere in the middle of it and started reading:

Elizabeth is still in New York with her sister, she writes that they are having great time. I hope they do and I'm hoping that they will chose to stay few more days...

I know that it's wrong and that I'm breaking earthly and heavenly laws and with each lingering touch and gentle kiss I'm securing my place in hell but I can't stop myself. I need them, those soft touches and kisses because soon we won't see each other again for years if ever, Greg is being deployed to Laos.

Aaron's eyebrows twitched. It couldn't have been the passage which disturbed Reid so much because Reid had never given any indication of being homophobic, there had to be something else that angered Reid so Aaron kept looking.

Within an hour he ascertained that the pages of both diaries were filled with descriptions of Elizabeth and Greg and what the man wanted to do to each of them, in a sexual and very detailed way and though morally disturbing due to man's married status there were nothing more than a bisexual erotica, really they read more disturbing things for multiple times and Reid didn't even twitch one eyebrow, and taking into consideration that Reid was their expert on linguistic profiling he read more of them than any other profiler.

The door opened and closed when Reid walked inside and shed off his jacket.

"Feeling better?" Aaron asked.

"Cold," Reid muttered. "Are you reading it?" he frowned. "I read them already, there is nothing interesting in there."

"It's a bisexual erotica," Aaron shrugged. "Quite descriptive but not disturbing on any other than moral level. You read worse things and I have yet to see you harbor so much disgust towards for example '101 different ways of skinning off the victim alive'."

"My life doesn't depend on reading '101 different ways of skinning off the victim alive', just my job," Reid snorted. "I don't have problems with his bisexuality or even with the fact that he was cheating on his wife with another man when she would have done everything to make him happy, his life, his choices. The only issue I have is that I hadn't found anything concerning this place yet and I still have one hundred fifty-three diaries to get through. In so far I got through ten diaries that in tinny tiny detail describe what I'm afraid is each single of his sexual intercourse with anyone, one he even had with his baby cousin while they were in their teens."

Aaron sighed and then Reid spotted the decanter with whiskey that stood on the table. He wandered to the kitchen, picked up a mug and came back to the table to pour himself about a half of the mug. Then he sat down in the armchair opposite to Aaron who sprawled himself on the couch when he started reading.

"This is useless," Reid sighed. "Christmas will be in four days and by the looks of it we are going to spend them here."

"We will find our way home, Reid," Aaron said quietly.

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that enough times and maybe you will start believing in it," Reid snorted. "I have better ideas for spending Christmas than with you in the middle of fucking nowhere somewhere in Ontario," Aaron couldn't help but notice then slight edge of bitterness in Reid's voice.

"Where you were planning to spend Christmas?" Aaron asked pensively.

"It doesn't matter now," Reid sighed.

"It does if you were supposed to be somewhere where you were expected," Aaron said.

"With mum, given that she will be lucid she will spend few hours waiting for me before she will ask the doctor on duty to call me to check if I'm coming. They wouldn't raise any alarm until late hours of 26th December. What about you?"

"Christmas with Jessica," Aaron answered. "I didn't specify why and for how long I was leaving but I promised to come back before Christmas. If the luck is on our side and Jack wanted to talk with me yesterday Jess had spend the day trying to reach me and she might have contacted Dave. I hazard a guess that they will start searching for us tomorrow. That's an optimistic scenario, the less optimistic one is if I won't check in with her by midnight on 23rd she will spent Christmas Eve at freaking out, will possibly call Dave and come Christmas morning they will start searching for us."

"So getting out of here sooner lies only in our hands, great," Reid grimaced. "I should come back to work and no, I don't need help in pouring over bisexual erotica. I will call you if I will find something about Canada."

"You should eat dinner first," Aaron said.

Two hours later Aaron was bundled up in the bed, dozing on and off because at some point Reid stopped pouring over books in favor of circling the area downstairs like a caged lion ready to bite someone's, in current circumstances, Aaron's head off. Finally he stopped circling the room and sat down.

When Aaron woke up he was alone in the bed and as he glanced at the untouched covers on the other side he realized that Reid didn't even climb upstairs. If he went to sleep he most probably ended bunking on the couch.

Few minutes later when Aaron came downstairs he found Reid just as he left him, pouring over the diaries looking for a clue. They ate breakfast in silence, Aaron cleaned up while Reid came back to the diaries and with Reid's lack of enthusiasm towards help Aaron decided to improve their chances for being found by going down to the yet to make a assemble together a SOS sign. The job itself took him better part of the day and when he came back to the cottage he hadn't found Reid inside.

He found the other man upstairs in the bed under a pile of blankets snoring softly and after starting on the stew Aaron focused on reading the diaries in the place when Reid stopped reading the last one.

Aaron worked relentlessly but with passing time he was as close to getting more than vague idea of their current location than on the first day, he made brief pauses to check on the stew and listening for any sounds coming from the bedroom but it seemed that Reid was dead to the world.

Reid came down for dinner, even cleaned after it but he still hadn't say more than ten words to Aaron before he came back to pouring over the diaries and this time he hadn't objected to Aaron's offer to help him. More so Aaron quite quickly realized that Reid was incredibly distracted which reflected on the speed he was reading the diaries.

For the last five minutes he was still staring at the same page. Suddenly he closed the diary violently and without a single word he headed outside with his jacket in hand.

Something was eating Reid that much was evident and Aaron couldn't help but wonder what it possibly could have been. Their predicament? Most probably, but it couldn't be just that. There had to be something more but Aaron figured that when Reid would be ready he would tell him so with a heavy sigh he came back to reading the diaries.

The crick in his neck made him realize that he sat in the same position for far too long and he looked up expecting to see Reid in the room but he found it empty. He looked at the hanger but Reid's jacket wasn't there, there weren't also any wet footprints on the floor so it was obvious that Reid hadn't returned.

Aaron looked at his watch and realized that almost two hours had passed since he had seen Reid for the last time. Quickly he put his jacket and his gloves on, grabbed the flashlight and left the house closing the door behind himself.

To his intense relief he didn't have to look for Reid very hard. He found him seated at the edge of the small hill on which the house was located.

"Reid!" Aaron howled.

There was no answer, Reid didn't even acknowledge Aaron's presence with any movement, not even a shrug of his shoulders. He just sat there motionlessly staring into open space in front of him. That sent Aaron moving, tripping over his feet on uneven snow until he reached Reid's side and he pulled the younger man forcibly into standing position.

He didn't have time to look at Reid's face when he spotted something which made the hair on the back of his neck stand out but not from cold howling wind but out of fright.

In his left hand Reid was holding a Glock 19, the hammer of which was uncocked as far as Aaron could see. Very gently Aaron took the gun out of Reid's bare, icily cold hand and locked the hammer before he put the gun in his own pocket.

It was only then when he looked up at Reid's face and the look on Reid's face had chilled his blood. There was no sign of any emotion on Reid's face, no sign of recognition in his eyes. The younger man looked like a ghost, a statue of white marble in black wool coat with a purple scarf dangling from his neck.

"Reid?" Aaron whispered. "Do you hear me?"

Reid blinked twice and Aaron saw a small single tear slipping down from his lashes falling slowly down his cheek.

"Come on," Aaron said quietly as he wrapped his right arm around Reid's shoulders, securing Reid's left arm over his own shoulders before he started pulling Reid towards the house.

Once inside Aaron sat him down on an armchair he quickly pushed towards the fireplace. The forlorn, miserable expression however hadn't left Reid's face as Aaron started to remove his shoes and started to massage his cold feet to get some warmth into him.

"Why?" Aaron asked quietly.

Reid didn't answer, he pushed his hands deeper into the pockets of his snow and wind drenched coat and quickly pulled his feet up on the armchair and into cross-legged position and he lowered his head.

Aaron shook his head and he wondered over to the kitchen pouring half of a mug of whiskey into Reid's abandoned cup of cold tea before he came back and held it out to Reid who pulled out his left hand out of his pocket and took it into his hand while Aaron threw few more branches into the fire.

"How long I was gone?" Reid asked suddenly.

"Almost two hours," Aaron answered. "Were you trying to freeze yourself or just you decided to catch pneumonia?"

"Neither," Reid said quietly. "I just needed to be alone."

"You could have gone upstairs," Aaron pointed out.

Reid didn't reply, he just looked at the fire with the same forlorn, miserable look on his face.

"Reid," Aaron pressed. "What's going on?" he added more gently.

"Nothing," Reid sighed. "It's just one of those days when one wonders if it would be worth to eat their own gun and before you will handcuff me to the table the answer is no, it's not worth it but it's something I need to spend some time mulling over occasionally."

"What if one day the answer would be different?" Aaron asked quietly.

"It won't," Reid answered softly. "Do you know what nanakorobi yaoki means?"

"Fall seven times and stand up eight," Aaron nodded.

"Sometimes it's hard to stand up because your knees hurt too much from falling but you stand up still, it just takes a little more time," Reid said simply. "I have good days, I have bad days, today is the latter one but I will be fine, I always was."

"Do you want to talk about it?" Aaron offered.

"No," Reid shook his head.

"Perhaps you should," Aaron suggested.

"Perhaps I tried it and it didn't work," Reid snorted. "The disadvantage of a very justified lie is the same like with other lies, when uncovered they have the same consequences, you don't trust the liar, especially with your greatest vulnerabilities, this happens to be mine and as long as they don't cloud my judgment in the field you have no right to butt in."

"How do you call then sitting in the icily cold wind and falling snow for two hours?" Aaron asked pointedly, perhaps a bit too harshly. "Building up stamina?"

"Cooling down," Reid snorted. "I'm going to sleep and I'm considering it as the end of this conversation."

With that he stood up and padded his way upstairs leaving Aaron alone with his thoughts.

When Aaron got upstairs there few minutes later Reid was bundled up under the blankets, sleeping or pretending to be sleeping, it was hard to tell. So he sighed, changed into his pajamas and went to sleep. It would take the search party some time to find them when they will actually start looking so Aaron had time to resolve the issues with Reid while they were still alone.

The blow to his jaw and violent kick into his shin however made him change his mind as soon as he woke up and realized that someone decided to turn him into a punching bag. So he did the only reasonable thing he could do when the same hand landed another blow on his jaw Aaron grabbed retreating wrist and pulled his opponent to his left as he curled the fingers of his right hand into a fist and delivered a blow on his own to his opponents chest.

He didn't have to wait long for the reaction. His opponent yelped, "Son of a... that hurt."

Aaron opened his eyes to see startled and suddenly wide awake Reid hovering over his chest as Reid struggled to regain the control over his trapped arm.

"You hit me," Reid growled.

"You hit me first," Aaron grumbled as he pushed himself into sitting position and released Reid's arm.

Reid quickly withdrew his arm and put his hand in his lap but he hadn't done it fast enough for Aaron to not see a glint of some highly polished metal on Reid's right hand. It couldn't have been his watch which Reid wore on his left wrist and always took off before going to bed.

Compelled by his curiosity Aaron grabbed Reid's right wrist again and raised his arm to take a closer look.

It took Aaron a moment to realize the item he saw on Reid's hand, specifically on his right ring finger. It was a wedding ring, made either out of silver or white gold, it was hard to tell with the only source of light in the room being the moonlight that was falling into the room, around the edges it had two twin cord-like engravings while the rest of the ring was highly polished.

"Reid?" Aaron asked as he looked at Reid who looked away.

"Kindly butt off and let me sleep," Reid grumbled before he lied down with his back towards Aaron.

It took another moment for another realization to sink. Traditionally wedding rings were worn on the left hand but Reid wore it on his right hand. Additionally the ring couldn't belong to anyone else because it fit Reid's finger as if it was designed specifically for him.

"I know that you aren't sleeping," Aaron said loudly.

"I won't be if you will keep talking to me," Reid snorted.

"Reid..." Aaron started.

"Butt off," Reid muttered.

"Reid..." Aaron started again.

"I've got married and I didn't tell the team, I've got widowed and I didn't tell the team," Reid snorted. "Sorry mum, it won't happen again and next time I will think about getting married I will issue engraved invitations to the ceremony to everyone on the team. It won't happen for a longer while but when it will you have my word that all of you will be informed. Now can I sleep?"

"Not unless you will clarify something for me," Aaron said as he turned towards Reid. "How long it had been?"

"Since the wedding or the funeral?" Reid asked harshly.

"Both," Aaron answered.

"The wedding was on 17th July 2010, we stayed married for 163 days, then she died, the funeral was two days later. Do your math and let me sleep," Reid huffed and pulled the comforter tighter around himself.

"27th December 2010," Aaron said quietly.

It explained perhaps not everything but most certainly a lot of Reid's behavior at the beginning of January, even the migraines he pretended to have and later not have, sometimes depression tended to manifest with physical symptoms which could have been the case here. It also explained why Reid took Prentiss's 'death' so hard, harder than the others. Prentiss 'died' barely within a little over three months after Reid buried his wife and instead of regaining the peace of mind and getting better he...

"Stop," Reid muttered. "I can hear you thinking, it disturbs my process of falling asleep."

"I'm sorry," Aaron said softly.

"You have nothing to be sorry for, you didn't kill her," Reid sighed. "Cretin under influence of LSD did. I was dreaming about beating the living daylight out of him but luckily for him he was DOA when the ambulance arrived, otherwise I wouldn't be dreaming about it, I would just did it."

"How it happened?" Aaron said as he placed his hand on Reid's shoulder.

"Bus crashed into the lantern, the aforementioned retard under influence of LSD was the driver of that bus and as I said he was DOA," Reid sighed. "She wasn't that lucky. The impact led to many injuries, metal, glass... They amputated her left leg on the site, she nearly bled herself to death in the ambulance, she lost both kidneys, undergone splenectomy and seven hours of surgery... and she.. she had a flu... she was taking Amantadine and she lost both kidneys... She was on life support for three days..." he added quietly. "The accident was in the evening on 23rd December... I pulled the plug at 01:12 27th December. You know what's the worst?" he asked quietly and before Aaron could answer he added softly, "I had the flu three days before the accident. Day before the accident my car broke down, I took her car to work next day, I wasn't even supposed to work that day, I just wanted to pick few old cases to look into in my free time..." he sighed. "She wasn't supposed to be sick and she wasn't supposed to be in that fucking bus, Hotch."

"You didn't kill her," Aaron said softly.

"I just didn't improve her chances for survival," Reid whispered.

"You didn't kill her," Aaron repeated. "Unless you could predict that the accident would happen on that day, that this driver would get behind the wheel of that bus and you couldn't have done it, that's why you can't spend the rest of your life blaming yourself for something you had no control of."

"Answer one thing for me," Reid said as he turned around to face Aaron. "How long it took you to look at Jack without seeing what Foyet had done to Haley?" he looked at Aaron expectantly. "How many times and for how long you woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare unable to go to sleep? For how long Jack kept sleeping with you because he was too scared to be alone in his bed?"

"It wasn't one thing," Aaron said pointedly. "And it's different..."

"Because we didn't have a child?" Reid offered sarcastically.

"Well... yes," Aaron nodded.

"You are right, we didn't have a child, Hotch, we had TWO children. A two years old, seventeen days short of becoming a three years old daughter and barely not even four days old son," Reid said bitterly. "He was born prematurely through C-section, four weeks before due date, in the first minutes of his life he had been taken to a surgery so the doctors could make sure that in due time he would be able to walk on his own and that his left leg won't be an useless limb over which he will have no power. Now go ahead and tell me how different it is I beg you."

Aaron opened his mouth and said quietly, "You had children?"

"I have children," Reid corrected him. "We HAD children because she is dead and no longer here just because some son of a bitch decided to get high and get behind the wheel of a bus she was riding. And before you will jump at me saying that I didn't tell any of you this... I wanted," his voice faltered. "We made plans to tell you, about us, the wedding, the kids... That..." his voice broke down.

"New Year's Eve dinner at Dave's?" Aaron asked.

Reid nodded slowly.

"You still..." Aaron started.

"Morgan was in Chicago, his sister was getting married, Garcia was finally meeting Kevin's parents, Will's aunt was dying and he and JJ were in New Orleans with Henry, it was your first proper Christmas at home since Haley died and every time you checked in with us the only thing you talked about that the only thing Jack was happy about was approaching Christmas... How could I barge into that with my wife is dying/dead and my son might not be able to ever walk properly on his own?"

"Just like you just said it now and in no other way," Aaron said simply. "Do you really think that we wouldn't be there for you and your children, like all of you were there for me and Jack?" he asked pointedly before he added, "When I had a bad day and I kicked all of you through the door at the very least one of you made it back through the window and hollered for the rest that you found an entrance."

"It's not a joke," Reid sighed but the corners of his mouth twitched slightly.

"It almost made you smile," Aaron pointed out.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Reid retorted with a heavy sigh. "I know because I crawled through it, in both directions, knees have their own memory and no conscience to forgive the crawling man. It gets better with time... but it's still incredibly painful time of the year for me, now because I know that Elle is going to be sad that I won't be home for Christmas and I won't be there to complement her secretly made sign she made all by herself saying Happy 1st Birthday Aaron and that I won't be there to help him blow his first birthday candle and while I know rationally that right now he doesn't care about the dates I'm still missing my son's first birthday."

"We will hold it when we will get back," Aaron assured him.

"I know," Reid sighed.

"Elle and Aaron?" Aaron asked.

"Don't take it as a flattery," Reid huffed halfheartedly. "He is named after me, not you. I turned down William right away and I wouldn't even name a pet rat William, not that I have issues with Will..."

"But you aren't naming your son after your father," Aaron nodded. "But Spencer junior..."

"I feverishly dislike the idea of fathers naming their firstborn sons after them," Reid snorted. "Mostly because when I heard father's name suffixed by junior I end thinking, for a short moment but nevertheless, that the man is talking about his penis and to a certain extent he usually does because the men who name their sons after themselves in my experience consider their progeny as an extension of aforementioned organ."

"So you settled for your middle name," Aaron nodded. "I get that and I'm not feeling flattered but it's not me you will have to convince that you are trying butter me up for a raise," he added pointedly. "You never brought up your full name to the attention of the team and aside of me and Gideon only Garcia knows that your middle name is Aaron and not widely assumed William and even with knowing that her first reaction would be..."

"How cute Boy Wonder, you named your son after Hotch," Reid grimaced. "I never really thought about it but suddenly I'm glad that I married Elle and not an Erin because the rest of the BAU would never let me live this down."

"You named Elle after her mother," Aaron nodded. "What it means?"

"That in my mothers family a very valued and respected tradition was naming the firstborn daughter after her mother, it was supposed to be a blessing for a good life which I know is superstitious. My mother was named after her mother and her step-sister was named after her step-mother to honor the tradition, my mum always spoke very highly about both, her mother and her step-mother and I know that if I happened to be born as a girl I was supposed to be named Cynthia Diana which essentially has the same meaning, just a different form."

"Point taken," Aaron nodded.

"Elle was initially named Ella but I kept butting in and calling her Elle until finally she stopped reacting to Ella and reacted to Elle instead, Elle, her mother and my wife was less than pleased because of it," Reid explained.

"I thought that you named her after Elle," Aaron sighed.

"I named her after Elle," Reid said simply. "One of the reasons I wasn't very forthcoming with details about my private life is that before she became Mrs Elle Reid my wife had been Ms Elle Greenaway."

Aaron's jaw dropped slightly.

"Yes, no one other than our Elle Greenaway and trust me before I managed to find her I called twelve Elle Greenaway living on the east coast, I didn't check up the west one because the right one turned out to be number thirteen," Reid clarified. "Then again I shouldn't try to find her while I was slightly out of my mind and without access to FBI database."

"Why you called her?" Aaron asked. "While drunk I hazard a guess."

"I wanted to apologize again and I wanted to tell her that I was wrong. Sometimes getting away alive from your own deathbed doesn't mean that you won, it just means that you didn't get to die this time," Reid sighed. "I was calling from Atlanta after your lot went to sleep and I limped my way to the nurse station. I was coming down from a high and whatever crap I was given at the hospital. I've got twelve 'Are you out of your bloody mind you son of a bitch?' and one 'Tell me what happened, where are you and how long you are going to be there?'"

"And Elle?" Aaron asked.

"Is remarkably smart and well-adjusted child considering that her parents at the time of her conception had both been abusing drugs, her mother legally, her father not so much," Reid grimaced. "Pregnancy sobered Elle up immediately, we weren't sure about the level of my involvement for a longer while but I stayed around while other possible candidates decided that it wasn't their problem and that as far as they cared Elle could take care of the problem by herself. Let's just say it that my issues with their reactions ensured that one of them was bitch-slapped by his fiancee on their wedding day because I devoted a lot of my private time and resources to ascertain that Elle wasn't the only woman he was cheating his fiancee with, the other for a longer while couldn't hold a stable job for longer than three months before his past came back to haunt him, I will spare you the details of what I've done with possible daddies number three, four and five but I can assure that a promise of thorough humiliation was involved and they all more or less willingly submitted to paternity test."

"When you learned that it was you and not them?" Aaron asked curiously.

Reid propped himself on the pillows and sighed, "The results were due on Friday when we left for Detroit. Elle didn't pick them up until Saturday afternoon, didn't look inside because she wanted us to do it together. She was sleeping when I get back and she was still sleeping when I woke up," he shook his head. "Morgan ended calling her boss that I was shot, she left the results at home and from her work she went straight to the hospital on the way picking up Elle from the daycare. Their plane landed in Vegas few minutes before midnight, they didn't return home from the hospital. I didn't get to see the results until after I returned home, they didn't surprise me only proved what I subconsciously knew for a longer while," he looked down at his hands, the ring glinted softly in the moonlight.

"You sent them away..." Aaron said softly. "You sent them away because you were worried that Foyet would use Elle against me."

"Yes, I freaked out, majorly, I know that," Reid shrugged. "But I preferred to freak out and being sure that they were safe and away rather than risking having them staying in greater DC area with the shadow of a possibility that Foyet might decide to use Elle against you when I could barely stand on my own let alone defend them. I'm sorry," he sighed.

"You were protecting your family," Aaron said as he patted his leg. "And you've done a better job at it than I did."

"I wasn't the object of Foyet's fixation," Reid grimaced. "If it's any consolation and I doubt that it is, for a longer while after the attack I dreamed about impaling that son of a bitch on my crutch, repeatedly and I didn't bother to feel guilty about it in the morning."

"I don't feel guilty about killing him," Aaron admitted. "I feel guilty for not killing him sooner."

"You, me and the rest of the team too," Reid placed his left hand over Aaron's. "Foyet is dead, so is Sam Withers and we have to take care of the lives Haley and Elle left behind no matter how hard it gets sometimes."

"Can you clarify one more thing for me?" Aaron asked. "The sabbatical?"

"Aaron had a surgery and needed physical therapy afterward, the effects of it get slightly better and the speed of the recovery improves when the parent is present during the sessions, I also needed to spend more time with Elle and between Aaron's birth and the wake of Emily's death... Aaron was in physical pain because his leg hurt, Elle was in emotional pain so she cried, I was depressed and … I was a twenty-nine years old male with an IQ above average and genetic predisposition for paranoid schizophrenia, for a short while I was also wondering if I started to suffer from dissociative identity disorder, I was suffering from intense migraines, I couldn't concentrate properly and I suffered from insomnia, in ninety-eight days I didn't sleep for longer than three hours per night if I slept at all. I spent almost one hundred days in hell, the idea of going through it again..."

"Something had to give," Aaron nodded. "And you would have never gave up on your children."

"When I left," Reid sighed. "You have no idea how close I was to not returning to BAU. I rented a house in Vegas, between Aaron's hospital and Bennigton, University of Nevada offered me a teaching position with reasonable hours and a paycheck that was and frankly still is above your pay-grade. I started looking for a house to buy..." he shook his head.

"You came back," Aaron said.

"Elle asked me why we are looking for a new house," Reid gave him small smile. "So I started to explain her that we need a different place to stay for a longer while, that daddy found a different job and is going to teach other people now... And first thing she said when I was done explaining her that was asking, 'So you aren't going to catch the bad guys anymore?' You should have seen her pout when I confirmed it. She looks so much like Elle... but Mum always told me that she might look like her mother but she pouts exactly like I used to."

"You still do sometimes," Aaron said. "Well I'm glad that you learned and submitted to the power of a pout. Twenty-nine is not too late to learn that."

"I'm thirty," Reid said sheepishly.

"We missed your birthday?" Aaron frowned. "And you didn't tell us?"

"Says the man who upon his forty-fifth birthday asked me if I had a reason to drop by his office with the bag of his favorite tea and a box of Godiva's Dark Chocolate Truffles," Reid quipped.

"You told me that if I didn't really know why you did it then I should assume that you are oh not so subtly hitting on me," Aaron smiled. "And I almost fell for it until Garcia arrived and hit you for being a prat and giving me my birthday gift earlier and not like you all agreed in the briefing room."

"Sorry, I couldn't help it," Reid smiled sheepishly. "But you should have seen your face, it was totally worth it. It's not my fault that your birthday is so close to April Fool's Day and I have a first hand knowledge that it's next to impossible to razz a BAUer on April Fool's Day."

"It made your day," Aaron rolled his eyes. "Like your twenty-seventh birthday when you declared that I'm your most favorite person in the world for giving you Godiva's Golden Ballotin, the ultimate version like Garcia calls it."

"Hey I have a sweet tooth," Reid protested. "Sometimes it got so bad that Elle called me chocolate whore, she always took it back but it required increased amount of sharing it, we even joked that some things we are doing with chocolate should be outlawed nation wide."

Aaron's lips twitched at that before he said, "I'm not sure that I want to know."

Reid smiled and for the first time in a long time his smile reached his eyes before his mouth twitched in a small mischievous smirk, "You are not sure if you want to know but I beg you to never take Morgan on his suggestion that chocolate lingerie is ultimate Valentine's gift unless you want to get chocolate out of less than interesting places."

"You took an advice on Valentine's gift from Morgan and about that?" Aaron rolled his eyes.

"I concentrated on chocolate part," Reid shrugged. "And I sorely regretted it afterward, I prefer my version of naughty things done with help of chocolate, much more entertaining and … its effect calls me Papa so I'm not really objective party."

Aaron couldn't help but snicker on that and he chocked out, "Aaron Chocolate Reid?"

"Aaron Robert Reid," Reid corrected him. "I had issues with naming him after my father but none with naming him after Elle's dad."

"You have a photograph of them?" Aaron asked curiously.

Reid nodded and reached for the nightstand and his credentials, from behind Bureau's ID he pulled out two small photograph, right away giving Aaron one of them and after few seconds another.

In the first one Reid was crouching by the yellow stroller in which was small dark haired boy with a frog cap on his head and dressed into matching clothes, he was looking curiously at the camera. The dark-haired girl, with her hair darker than Reid's was dressed all in black with a red shirt and had fake devil horns on her head. She was holding on her brother's hand and was smiling widely at the camera.

"Halloween?" Aaron asked as he raised his head.

Reid nodded.

"So whom you are supposed to be in the picture?" Aaron asked curiously.

"Look closely, I'm a cereal killer," Reid shrugged.

Aaron looked closely and he saw No Nesquik Bunny sign and his lips twitched slightly.

"I know that it was pitiful effort for me consider that it's Halloween but Carolyn's funeral was day before and we went trick or treating as soon as I returned home," Reid sighed.

Aaron moved the photograph under the other as he looked down.

In the other photograph there were the four of them together. Elle was laying in a hospital bed and slightly leaning on Reid's shoulder, Reid's left arm was wrapped around her shoulders, his left hand was cupping Elle's arm where Aaron's head was resting in Elle's arms. Little Elle was sitting in Reid's lap, looking at Aaron and supporting Elle's hand under Aaron's legs. It was obvious that even holding her infant son in her arms had to be hard and tiring for Elle as she was looking at the small bundle in her arms with all the love and devotion a mother can look at her child.

It was the last photo of Elle.

"The nurse from the hospital took it barely five hours before she died," Reid said softly. "There is another one a bit different but I keep it with the kids at home and at their sitter's place. Can I have them back?" he asked.

Aaron returned the photographs to Reid who tucked them back behind his credentials and laid the wallet on the bedside table.

"You know that we are going to make it back and you are going to make up to them not being there with them," Aaron said.

"I know," Reid sighed. "It's still hard. Now if you don't mind I'm going to sleep, I'm not spending Christmas here if I can help it."

Aaron nodded and slid down on the pillows to lie down on the mattress.

"When we will make it back home," he said pausing just enough to yawn. "First thing I will do after cleaning up the mess will be signing you and myself for an extended company time and I was," he yawned again, "wondering if you would like to spend few days with the kids out in the country somewhere away but not too far away from the civilization."

"Are you sure?" Reid asked sleepily. "Elle can be a handful and Aaron is teething."

"You are not alone," Aaron said.

"I know," Reid sighed.

It didn't take Aaron long to fall asleep and perhaps it was the effect of the last words they exchanged before falling asleep but rather than in usual nightmare he found himself walking along the deserted wild beach drowned under warm but not overly hot sun. The sand under his bare feet was pleasantly cold but not too much, occasional waves swept over them from time to time and each wave that touched him was washing away the weight he felt on his shoulders.

He didn't know how long he traveled or where he actually was but as he turned the curve of the beach he spotted small gathering around a gigantic sandcastle with many towers.

Suddenly Jack peeked from behind the castle with a gigantic smile on his face and with traces of sand in his hair.

"Daddy!" he squealed happily. "Come and take a look," his grin got even wider. "We built a castle with Uncle Spencer but we need help with the moat. I dug the one under the bridge and Elle made it roof-tiles out of the shells."

Elle's small head peeked, and barely on that, over the towers of the castle. Her grin was as big as Jack's.

"Come on Uncle Aaron we need to make a moat quickly before Aaron will eat the whole castle," she said eagerly.

"Possible architectural disaster is in the process of being averted, Godzilla decided that he prefers purred carrots and baby food," Reid chuckled and a startled mep later he added, "Or not."

Aaron chuckled and he approached Reid who was sitting cross-legged on the ground as he tried to feed the little boy with purred carrots, something which Aaron vehemently objected by spilling it out into his hand and by waving his hands around he managed to distribute it on Reid, the wall of the castle and himself.

"Fatherhood looks good on you," Aaron chuckled.

Reid raised his head and looked at Aaron before he retorted, "It's not fatherhood, it's purred carrots. Now grab the shovel and dig the moat while I will try to find something that will appease the Spitdzilla."

And as he said that he started rummaging in his messenger bag looking for more jars of baby food.

Aaron grinned and he grabbed the shovel and started to dig the moat with Jack's and Elle's help who were digging the moat so feverishly that they would have ashamed every self-respecting dog if one happened to be looking.

At some point Reid joined them and together they worked on leading the moat into open sea. Naturally in the process in the over-eagerness Jack and Elle had ended half wet by landing on their bums when they moved too close to the water and naturally they squealed in slight shock at the contact with the water, their squeal woke up sleeping Aaron who immediately started fussing.

"I will get him," Aaron said with a smile when Reid started to stand up. "Wave with your shovel daddy dearest," he called out as he set off in the direction of the stroller.

Baby Aaron upon seeing him raised his small arms and Aaron smiled again as he picked up the boy and propped him against his chest. Small hand swatted him on the cheek while the other reached out and clamped small fingers over his nose.

"Reid!" Aaron groaned as he turned around.

Reid looked up from the moat to Aaron and the corners of his mouth twitched in a smile he quickly stopped to hold back as he started snickering.

"Say please," he howled between dying and new spurt of snickers which was quickly joined by Jack and Elle.

"Please," Aaron said as he looked at the boy in his arms.

Very slowly little Aaron removed his hand from his namesake's but not really his namesake's nose and Aaron looked at Reid giving him a cheeky smile. Who thought that infants could be so well behaved...

His triumph however was short lived because suddenly Aaron's other hand clamped over Aaron's nose which caused new fit of giggles to erupt from the snickering trio.

Aaron looked at Reid again and saw something that made him stop making any comments about little Aaron's life aim to become a cancer with a vicious grip.

Reid was smiling and his smile was reflecting in his eyes and Aaron couldn't bring himself to make it disappear, no matter how vicious Aaron's grip on his nose was. He took worse and he didn't complain.

So he slowly walked over to the snickering bunch and placed small boy on the ground just few inches away from the waves and obviously not too far enough because little Aaron almost immediately let go of Aaron's nose and set off to inspect waving water and Aaron barely caught him before the boy landed face down in the water.

"Not yet squirt," Aaron smiled at the boy. "It's too cold today for you to take a bath."

"Aww," Jack protested.

"Dad!" Elle protested as she looked at Reid.

"You don't want to catch a cold, do you?" Reid asked. "Because if you will catch a cold today you will have to spend the rest of the vacation in the room, with a fever, runny nose and a sore throat."

"And I won't be able to come out to play," Elle pouted before she stood up and ran to Reid successfully tackling him on the ground.

Aaron grinned as he looked at Reid who started tickling Elle mercilessly eliciting high pitched yelps from the little girl and as Aaron looked from Reid and towards Jack he jolted awake.

He sat up on the bed and looked around. He was alone in the big bedroom. Reid's clothes and bag were gone and as he had done quick math in his head and came to realization that today was 23rd December he almost jumped from the bed.

If yesterday Reid was bad then today had to be actually worse and if Reid things were gone...

He run down the stairs into the kitchen and found grinning Reid leaning against the kitchen country as he sipped his coffee.

"Morning," he said as he set the cup down. "I've made breakfast and I have a small surprise for you."

"Surprise?" Aaron asked.

"Breakfast first," Reid wriggled his finger at him. "Eat before it will get cold."

Aaron rolled his eyes before he came upstairs to get dressed and came down to eat grilled cheese sandwiches Reid made. Once he was done with eating and cleaning after breakfast Reid grabbed his jacket, Aaron's jacket and threw the later at Aaron with a mischievous smile.

"Come on," he said eagerly.

Once outside Reid let him towards the clearing and made Aaron stand on the edge of it.

"So?" Aaron asked pointedly.

"Tell me that I'm a genius," Reid said with a big smile.

"You are a genius, it has been scientifically proven and we both know it," Aaron said.

"Oh for Pete's sake," Reid sighed. "Indulge me and call me supreme genius..."

"You are supreme genius, the smartest that ever lived and if there are things you cannot solve no one will," Aaron said quickly. "Now what?"

"Nice," Reid grinned. "Now tell me why a guy who only has a fridge and small water boiler in the bathroom needs so many solar panels that he covered whole roof with it?"

"He is an unsub and he hid a bigger freezer somewhere around and you just stumbled into it?" Aaron supplied.

"Warm, warmer, North Pole," Reid smiled. "Allow me to introduce you to Spike."

"Spike?" Aaron asked.

"Close your eyes," Reid grinned.

"Reid," Aaron sighed.

"Please," Reid pouted. "Indulge the magician."

"If said magician can produce a long distance flying carpet out of his sleeve I won't even try to peek," Aaron rolled his eyes but since Reid's pout was firmly in place he said, "Okay I'm indulging you, again I should add," he sighed closed his eyes and covered them with his hands. "I'm not looking."

"Thanks," Reid said happily. "Can't look yet, not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet... almost here. Okay you can look now."

Aaron sighed and he dropped his hands at the same time as he opened his eyes. Over Reid's shoulder he could see a solid looking helicopter.

"This is Spike?" Aaron asked weakly.

"Yep," Reid nodded eagerly. "He is beautiful isn't he?"

"Do you realize that you just called a helicopter beautiful?" Aaron asked skeptically.

"I called him beautiful because he is beautiful, he is fully equipped, he can flight and he can get us the fuck away out of here. If it existed, could fly and therefore get us out of here I would have called even a flying Trabant beautiful and Spike isn't a Trabant, he is a fully working and tanked a 1995 Sikorsky S-61," Reid said happily.

"That's great," Aaron said. "But allow me to pour a bucket of snow behind your collar to cool you down. I don't have a license to fly that beast, you don't have one either and considering the effects of our last aerial efforts..."

"Our last aerial efforts get us alive out of falling Gulfstream 550 with no engine and two dead pilots," Reid interrupted him. "Besides I'm Mama's boy Mr Pessimist," he chipped. "And my Mum told me that since I have time to spend with my kids I should also save some of it for doing something purely for myself though I don't think that when she said it she had obtaining the license for a helicopter pilot in mind."

"You have a license?" Aaron stared at him.

"Almost," Reid quipped. "I still need to pass the official FAA practical exam and in the last three months I had to reschedule it twice but I've logged all required hours to pass the exam for a private pilot of a rotorcraft. And you have my word that obtaining additional training for AMEL license will be one of the first things I will do after New Year, along with passing that damned RMEL and if the time will be on my side RMES."

Aaron stared at him in shock.

"So, Hotchness?" Reid smiled. "Are we getting the fuck out of here?"

"Allow me to reel from shock for a moment," Aaron said quietly. "And don't call me Hotchness."

Reid's grin got even wider as he said, "Sure thing, Hotchness."

Canada

Reid barely managed to sit Spike down in newly appointed for him place and turn off the engines, when the door opened and white-faced Anderson stared at them.

"The Director," Anderson mumbled. "He is waiting for you and he looks..."

"Like we should worry for our lives or just our jobs or merely retirement fund?" Reid asked.

"To me he looks like all of the aforementioned," Anderson whispered. "And he is coming here, fast."

Aaron was about to say something that it was nice to work with Reid for so long but as he opened his mouth to say it he saw Reid's shoulder disappearing behind the side of the helicopter. So Aaron quickly opened the door and swiftly followed Reid.

As he rounded the end of the helicopter, avoid the blades which albeit motionless could still cause some damage if one wasn't careful when he saw Reid standing in the full pilot gear with his helmet in his left hand and talking to director who didn't look like he was about to chew him off. In fact John Evans was smiling widely and shaking Reid's hand.

Aaron approached them without quickening his peace much.

"I'm terribly sorry about Christoper Parker and Gary Tucker," the Director said. "I know that your unit considered them as a vital part of the unit. They will be both buried with all honors they deserve. I will inform their families myself."

"You don't have to Director," Reid started.

"I'm sure that both of you have better places to be and people waiting for you," the other man smiled.

"The consequences..." Aaron started.

"Were already decided and applied," Director said with small smile. "Nate Gaston and Jim Bonnetti are flying BAU's Gulfstream 550 from Anchorage, they are accompanied by SA Samuel Graves and SA Felix Banks who don't know yet that you are alive something which a certain idiotic twerp which kidnapped federal property and took it for a flight thus leaving you with his faulty machine is most probably praying for. I informed him that in his best interest lies your continued existence otherwise he will be punished for a quadruple homicide, two of which happened to federal agents. It's safe to say that he sounded scared shitless when he cried that he didn't mean to hurt anyone."

"He got what he deserved," Reid commented.

"You will to Agent Reid," Director said more sternly. "You have a meeting with me on 1st March 2012 at noon in my office and if you don't show your private pilot license for rotorcraft I will pull you out of field duty and I won't let you come back to it until you will obtain one not only for rotorcraft but also for AMEL and AMES."

"Threat noted and promised to be averted before due date director," Reid said dryly. "Will I get a raise for that?"

"Once you will get AMEL it might become permanent," Director smiled. "Now gentlemen I don't want to see either of you until after New Year, go home and spend your time with your families."

"Thank you, Director," Reid nodded.

"Can I..." Aaron started.

"It's been taken care of Agent Hotchner, enjoy your Christmas," Director smiled.

"Explain me one thing," Aaron said as they were walking towards their cars. "Why director knows that you were training flying a helicopter and neither of us did?"

"Because I went to him with the request for a sabbatical," Reid answered. "I had to explain it to someone even if I didn't feel like explaining it to you. He knew that I was going to Vegas and he happened to be inspecting the field office at some point, remembered that I was still supposed to be in Vegas so he asked if I could find time for lunch to talk about Aaron's progress and we happened to discuss a variety of subjects during said lunch, my flying lessons happened to be one of them," he shrugged. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, it's still 23rd December you know," Aaron smiled.

"Shit," Reid mumbled. "I need to get the kids from Mrs Sakura," he whispered. "See you... around I guess."

Aaron smiled as he said softly to himself, "You will see me sooner than you think."

Two hours later with Jack by his side armed with a big white teddy bear that most probably was bigger than birthday boy and two boxes containing age suited building blocks and a doll for Elle Aaron knocked on the door to Reid's flat.

Reid opened the door and blinked when he saw Aaron with Jack.

"Happy Birthday, where did you hid birthday boy?" Aaron smiled.

The End

For Now


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