Title: Refuting the Data: The Widowers
Warnings: T/PG-13 (mentions of character death, pre-slash)
Summary: After their return from Canada Aaron visits Reid. Written as a follow up for hotchxreid promptmeme story Canada.
Word count: ~3500
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Believe me, it is no time for words when the wounds are fresh and bleeding; no time for homilies when the lightning's shaft has smitten and the man lies stunned and stricken. Then let the comforter be silent; let him sustain by his presence, not by his preaching; by his sympathetic silence, not by his speech. "Afterward," when the storm is spent, he may venture to open his mouth; "afterward," when the morn has dawned, he may seek "to justify the ways of God to man;" for " afterward" the sufferer will be prepared to hear, and "afterward" the sufferer himself may be able to extract sweetness from bitterness, music from mourning, songs from sorrow, and " the peaceable fruit of righteousness " from the root of wretchedness and woe.
~George C. Lorimer,
Refuting the Data: The Widowers
Aaron Hotchner was used to intimidating other people. It was an useful skill he acquired in his early years and honed through years of experience. He could give thousands of occasions when it became handy but he could also give few when it definitely was not. Like now.
It had to be karma he decided in the end. He was the one who coined the term, in a no mean-spirited way, he merely tried to lighten up very awkward moment and made a mistake of relaying the description of the situation to Gideon within Davidson's earshot, Davidson repeated Aaron's comment to Morgan and then to Newton, Hopkins, Hoskins. Within three days of the incident whole BAU knew what Reid's effect meant and didn't fail to tease Reid about it.
What happened to Reid's effect over the years Aaron didn't know for sure. Obviously when it came to children it was no longer in effect and after few attempts at trying to help Reid overcome his kynophobia Morgan stopped trying to befriend Reid with Clooney, or Clooney with Reid depending from how one viewed the problem and claimed that he wasn't going to try it ever again.
Aaron was glad that Reid's secrecy over his family status in a way prevented him from amusing the team with the story of Hotchner effect. Reid needed more time to prepare himself mentally for explaining his family status and it consequently gave Aaron some time to amend the problem.
Elle Reid was a very joyous and polite almost four years old with big, thoughtful, dark-brown eyes; long, curly dark-brown hair and big, wide smile. Her complexion was fairer than Elle's as far as Aaron remembered but darker than Reid's. She seemed to inherit Elle's temperament and Reid's intellect although Aaron was basing that assumption on overhearing the conversation between her and Jack about first grade stories which both happened to know backwards and forwards and although significantly younger than Jack the two of them seemed to take a shine to one another.
Aaron Reid like his sister had dark-brown hair and dark-brown eyes but darker than Elle's, the only visible gave away to Reid's paternity was his paler than Elle's complexion and his nose. He was shyer than Elle and although he reacted to Jack with small skepticism and hesitation quickly overcome with the teddy bear it was Aaron to whom the little boy reacted the most violently.
When Aaron knelt in front of the boy with the box of building blocks in his hands and a, he hoped that it was gentle, smile on his face Reid's younger progeny looked at him fearfully and started crying which prompted immediate reaction from Reid who took the whimpering boy into his arms and started soothing his cries.
"You look like Larry," Elle explained simply.
"I'm afraid that I don't understand," Aaron said softly as he watched Reid walking between the window and the table.
"Physics therapist," Elle clarified.
"Physical therapist Lastochka," Reid corrected her.
"Either way Aaron hates him," Elle shrugged. "It's not you Mr Hotchner, it's assassination," she said and quickly tapped her lip, "Association," she added as she looked at Reid expectantly.
Reid gave her a big smile over little Aaron's head.
"He will warm up to you," Reid said. "Eventually," he added. "He is tired and cranky but it's too early for his usual bedtime so he won't sleep. He had physio today so he is one big, fussy, little, brave man. He would be more open if it was daylight and he hadn't his physio on that day."
"I hope so," Aaron said. "I would hate to acknowledge the existence of karma."
Reid's lips twitched before he said, "Hotchner's effect, serves you right from making fun out of me."
"What's karma, Uncle Spencer?" Jack asked curiously.
Aaron took a deep breath to prepare himself mentally for disturbing Reid's dissertation about Indian religions.
"In this particular circumstances karma refers to the concept, the idea that all actions have consequences," Reid explained. "What would happen if you kicked someone?" he asked.
"They could kick me back," Jack answered. "Or they could not kick me back but they could go and call the teacher or their parent, then they will have to contact dad and I would be in trouble. So that means that dad something to you and now that karma is coming back?" he asked curiously.
"It seems so," Reid smiled.
"What it was?" Jack asked.
"When you were a really, really small baby, smaller than Aaron is now," Reid said. "I had this problem with children, all children. There was something about me that when they saw me they started crying right away. Your dad jokingly called it Reid's effect."
"Oh," Jack mouthed. "That was really mean," he informed Aaron with a very serious look on his face.
"I think that your dad learned it by now," Reid smiled. "Who would like the cake?"
Refuting the Data: The Widowers
Aaron preferred to not leave Reid alone for the night and Jack made the sleepover possible by teaming up with Elle and delivering first class double pout with a quivering lip and mewled 'But we have so much to talk about'.
And they did, it took Reid and Aaron forty minutes, two stories and four visits to the room every five minutes to make them fall asleep but finally the only thing coming from kids' bedroom was the soft glow of the nightlight and not whispers and giggles.
"I thought that they would never fall asleep," Aaron sighed as he sunk into the armchair.
Rather than answer Reid looked at the screen of the TV and as Aaron followed his gaze he realized that when Aaron was inside the kids' bedroom Reid turned it on and was watching a movie on mute.
"Something interesting?" Aaron asked cautiously.
"Wedding party of a possible daddy number five," Reid replied. "It's too bizarre to explain but we formed a friendship of some sort. Apparently the idea of becoming a father after some deep thinking appealed to him and he was slightly disappointed that Elle didn't turn out to be his daughter. He could have sued us, both of us, but as he put it 'he made a choice to view it as an important lesson in life'. Few months later he had meet a widow after a marine, with a small girl Jack's age, apparently it was love from the first sight, between him and her I mean, Gina was a bit wary of him but he was craving the paint from walls to make her give him a chance to court her mom and quite literally on that," he smiled. "By now he is the coolest dad at school and Gina utterly adores him, he adores Gina and Helen, who was born after her father died and when their own Zoe was born in August...
"He melted into a puddle of goo," Aaron suggested.
"Close," Reid gave him small smile. "He almost hit me when he asked me if I had seen something more beautiful than Zoe's tiny, winy, little toes and I said yes. Then he realized who and why he was about to hit and he told me that I was lucky that he knew that I had my own children in mind. I couldn't help but appreciate his empathy because he would be able to hold his ground with Morgan in a hand to hand combat and he already hit me once."
"And you didn't press charges?" Aaron asked skeptically.
"He didn't press charges," Reid explained. "I blackmailed him into participating in paternity test, wasted his time and money, got his hopes up and then about a year and half later I'm showing up on his doorstep and informing him that I'm Elle's father and that I want to return him his money. If I was him I would have hit myself too. Luckily for me I walked away from it with a split lip and nothing more serious than that."
"And the wedding party?" Aaron asked curiously.
"Best man and bridesmaid," Reid answered. "Elle was eleventh week pregnant with Aaron, we just receiver a confirmation."
Aaron frowned as he did quick math in his head before he said, "If Elle was eleventh week pregnant and Aaron was born in thirty-sixth your wedding would have been around twelfth week."
"Your insinuation will get you nowhere," Reid shrugged. "It was my preplanned leave of absence, you signed it personally on Monday after Samantha Malcolm's case, Elle wasn't pregnant with Aaron by then but I promised her and Elle two weeks of my undivided attention in July. We went to the wedding then we left for Nevada with no intentions to get married, I didn't talk to my mother or my father, no pressure what so ever. And suddenly on Friday it hit me and I actually blurted it out that if we got married in Vegas my mother could attend the wedding because I knew that they grew close while Elle was in Vegas. I really didn't think about calling anyone, it was a spur of the moment decision. Of course I realized that I could delay it, sometime on Sunday but the wedding was on Saturday so there was not much left to delay. It was a matter of informing everyone that it happened and facing the music."
"But Elle was unsure," Aaron said. "About telling the team," he clarified.
"Not only because of that, majorly but not only," Reid sighed. "It was a matter of timing and it was never right and few times I actually chickened when I was about to open my mouth. So we settled on the New Year's party..." he fell silent. "Everything would have been different if she never got on that bus," he added softly. "I had enough time to prepare myself for her death," he paused and bit his lip, "but nothing, nothing can prepare you for the moment in which you..." he paused again. "We made that decision together but when I heard the … it was … I remember feeling this overwhelming emptiness, this crushing realization that she is gone," his voice trembled, "and that with her … The doctors let me sit by her side for two hours and I still couldn't believe it, couldn't stand to feel this terrible gaping hole inside me..." his voice broke down for good.
Aaron was immediately by his side and laying one of his hands over Reid's clasped palms and another on his shoulder.
"She is gone Hotch," he said softly. "But sometimes, I know it's irrational and that it has no scientific explanation and I hate it but at the same time it makes things..."
"She is still here," Aaron said quietly. "You look around and you think what she would have said, you wonder if she would have smiled or cried and when you concentrate on that thought strong enough you can almost feel her being right beside you and you love it and you hate it but you cannot imagine of letting this feeling go."
Reid nodded slowly before he licked his lips and whispered, "Haley."
"It gets better Reid, it just takes time," Aaron said gently.
Refuting the Data: Birthday Boy and Christmas Girl
When Aaron woke up it was already morning, the crick in his neck had gotten annoyingly painful and the chirping bird chanting 'It's Christmas Eve!' made the awakening process even more painful.
A deliciously smelling cup of Kopi Luwac was placed very close to him and the aroma made him crack one eye open.
He wasn't at his apartment and in his bedroom but he was laying sideways on the mother of all uncomfortable couches at Reid's place.
Somewhere inside the apartment shower was turned on and Aaron looked around. There was indeed a cup of coffee in front of him at the coffee table, the chirp stopped suddenly in favor of 'Yuck, that stinks.'
Aaron sighed and padded his way to the kids' bedroom where he had found freshly awaken Jack and very awake Elle standing by little Aaron's crib. The protection rail was lowered and Elle was maneuvering smaller boy so he was laying with his face to her.
"Hey," Aaron mumbled. "What you are doing?"
"Changing Aaron," Elle replied simply. "Now that's great Jack," she said. "Now you have to very gently raise his legs by his ankles, not too high, just so his but will be very slightly above the bed."
"Have you done it before?" Aaron asked.
"I helped," Elle answered simply. "Dad always talks about what he is doing, it sounds easy."
Aaron frowned as he got even closer. The baby boy didn't seem bothered by the crowd hovering over him and allowed his sister to wipe his bottom with cleaning wipes. Elle was very methodical about it and checked if she didn't miss anything before she reached for the clean diaper.
"Aunt Jess always uses baby powder," Jack said suddenly.
"I can't..." Elle started.
Aaron smiled as he put the baby powder in front of her.
"Thank you," she beamed at him.
Within twenty seconds little Aaron had fresh diaper put on his butt when the cleaning staff looked at one another and said in unison, "It's just wrong."
Aaron smiled when they removed the diaper and put it in the right way just as Reid peeked into the room and said, "Elle, we talked about it."
"Sorry Dad," Elle said sheepishly.
"They did fine," Aaron said simply.
"Elle knows that she is supposed to wait for me," Reid said pointedly. "Go was your hands," he told Elle and Jack.
Jack and Elle scrambled out of the room.
"So that's an usual morning in the Reids household?" Aaron asked curiously.
"As of late," Reid nodded. "For a long time my mornings started at three o'clock. Aaron had hard time with adjusting to eight hours of sleep. It was three plus three hours of sleep with an hour of fuss in the whee hours of the morning. Six o'clock in the morning actually feels more like noon to me. Luckily Mrs Sakura has no problems with arriving at half past six so I can have my nap in the bullpen."
"Elle isn't making that easier, is she?" Aaron asked.
"She has been making attempts at changing Aaron for the past month and trust me she is relentless. She will be girl scout in no time," he gave Aaron small smile as he leaned over little Aaron and tickled his left bare foot. "You should try it."
"Girl scouts?" Aaron asked feeling that a part of his brain didn't get off from the couch with him. "Thank you, I prefer scrambled eggs. But they do have good cookies."
Reid stared at him in shock before he said, "Aaron is less fussy in the morning. Just be careful to not press his left leg too much."
Aaron gulped but very gently he picked up the smaller boy who nested his head in the crook of Aaron's collarbone and grabbed his shirt.
"Can we pretend that there was never any Hotchner's effect?" Aaron asked.
Refuting the Data: The Widowers
"Could you?" Reid asked softly.
They were retuning from a nice morning Christmas play, a lose adaptation of Dickens' Christmas's Carol and they happened to pass by the Rock Creek Cemetery when Reid gently placed his hand over Aaron's arm when he was finishing changing the gears to make a turn.
Aaron didn't answer, he simply turned the lane and parked in the nearest space available. Reid had gotten out of the car before Aaron turned the engine off properly and stepped into small flower shop located next to the entrance.
Aaron sighed as he stared at the entrance. He mentally kicked himself for not asking before where Elle was buried but Reid's choice for memorial site didn't surprise him much but what did was how he managed to miss it.
Rock Creek Cemetery was a big cemetery but only few sections it was open to recent burials, as recent as in last few years. Haley's and Carolyn's graves were in the same section, though on the opposite end of it and Aaron had a sinking feeling that Elle's plot would be in between.
After Carolyn's funeral he headed out to visit Haley's grave and he didn't find it weird that Reid stopped by one of the graves. In fact Aaron was so preoccupied by the idea of visiting Haley that he didn't pay any attention to the grave by which Reid stopped. No one on team did.
By the time Reid came back with the flowers three bouquets of five white roses Aaron get the stroller out of the trunk of the car, unfolded it and placed little Aaron inside it.
Together they headed to Haley's grave where Reid gave the flowers to Jack and Elle and after a moment of silence he asked if Aaron could give him some space.
Aaron nodded and watched how Reid disappeared behind the big oak sixty feet away from Haley's grave. Aaron was right, it was that grave.
"You don't have Mommy too?" Jack asked softly.
Rather than answering Elle extended her free hand to Jack and slowly started leading him towards her mother's grave but stopped right by the tree behind which Reid disappeared. Aaron took the stroller and followed them.
Reid was sitting on the lone stone bench in front of medium sized black marble tombstone. He had his hands clasped together, elbows leaning on his tights, shoulders bent and head slightly down.
Aaron left the stroller with the kids by the tree and slowly approached Reid. When he stopped by the bench he was able to read clearly golden letters on the tombstone. It read:
Elle Marie Reid,
22th April 1971 - 27th December 2010
Beloved wife, mother and friend.
If tears could build a stairway,
And memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to Heaven
And bring you home again.
"It's been a year," Reid whispered as a lone tear rolled down his cheek.
Aaron didn't answer, very slowly he sat on Reid's right side and placed his hand on Reid's knee.
"Thank you," Reid said even more softly. "For not leaving me alone..."
"You are not alone," Aaron said gently.
"He is right, you aren't," said a familiar voice.
Aaron turned around slight and looked over Reid's shoulder. On the other side of the tree to the kids was standing Dave, he looked slightly ruffled and had the air of a man who spent too much time in the car in past few hours.
"How was Long Island?" Reid asked quietly.
"Ultimately uneventful and predictably boring but I'm sure that you don't want to hear about Anthony's retro-gate amnesia which lasted blissfully for three days before he remembered that he is supposed to be estranged with me," Dave shrugged. "The downside of having younger siblings, you are lucky that it passed you by."
"It didn't pass me by," Reid sighed. "It's merely too small to be estranged with me and as it is I'm estranged with our mutual ancestor so I doubt that it will have a chance to be estranged with me."
"That it has a name or specific age?" Dave asked as he approached them.
"Emily, nine months and twenty days old," Reid answered. "Pretty ironic if you ask me," he muttered.
"And?" Dave asked as he looked towards the stroller.
"Elle, three years, eleven months and two weeks old and Aaron, one year and three days old and no, I'm not trying to butter Hotch up for a raise," Reid replied as he turned towards the stroller.
"I've heard something weird yesterday," Dave said.
"That North Ontario although beautiful in overall sucks at this time of the year when you don't have a map and a satellite phone?" Reid asked pointedly. "It does."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Dave said softly.
"Thank you," Reid whispered. "It's..." he started but he fell silent immediately.
"It has been a year," Dave said as he sat down on Reid's other side. "You don't have to explain yourself."
"Not to us," Aaron added. "Just allow us to be there for you."
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.
Feedback is love.