Title: Refuting the Data: True Genius.

Warnings: T/PG-13 (pre-slash, mentions of character's death, profanity, cross-dressing)

Pairings: Hotch/Reid, past Reid/Elle, references of Hotch/Beth and Reid/OC (only references, if you blink too much you will miss them)

Summary: Following team's return from San Francisco Hotch and Reid discuss certain aspects of the case that weigh on genius's mind but before that happens Reid let's a certain cat out of the bag. Tag: True Genius. Written as a continuation for hotchxreid promptmeme story Canada and its follow ups The Widowers; Mars and Venus.

Word count: ~ 6500

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.

Happy reading and thanks for encouraging reviews.

Feedback is welcomed with open arms.


Talk not of genius baffled. Genius is master of man;
Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can.
Owen Meredith

Refuting the Data: True Genius

It lasted a moment, it couldn't have last more than a second but Aaron saw it and he realized that he was the only one that did because he was the only one there.

When Caleb Rossmore and Harvey Morell were escorted to the main door of San Francisco's field office by the agents that were waiting to pick them up unlike Morgan who followed both of them with other agents Reid stood by the car with an unreadable expression on his face and then for a moment the mask had slipped away to give way to the profound sadness but just as Aaron approached him to ask him what was bothering him the mask of indifference slipped back on Reid's face.

Nevertheless Aaron decided to ask, "What's troubling you?"

"Nothing," Reid shook his head. "It's just... It's stupid. Forget it."

"Reid," Aaron pressed a bit harder. "What it is?"

"I don't know," Reid sighed. "And I'm not sure if I really want to know, strike that I don't want to know," he shook his head again. "And if you learn that do me the courtesy of not informing me about it."

"Okay, but first you have to tell me what I'm supposed to not tell you," Aaron said pointedly.

"I was thinking," Reid licked his lips. "Maybe it was about something more. He really had gone out of his way to impress Harvey as sick as it was and while there exists the variety of reasons why we feel compelled to impress other people there is only one reason that can exist with this level of hatred towards someone else who really hadn't done anything to deserve it."

"You think that Caleb wanted Harvey to be more than a friend who deserted him anyway," Aaron nodded.

"I don't want to know," Reid shook his head. "I don't know what you are going to do now but I have an urgent meeting with Morpheus and before that I have to make a call to Lubec in Maine."

"What's in Lubec in Maine? I don't remember assigning any consults to you that came from there," Aaron asked curiously.

"Cameron took Elle and Aaron to Lubec. I heard that you two got acquainted," Reid deadpanned.

"She is very..." Aaron started.

"Cameronish," Reid smirked.

"I wanted to say intense but whatever works for you," Aaron admitted. "How you two got acquainted?"

"It's a long and complicated story that requires marinating my liver in something stronger than a beer and I'm really not in mood for that today," Reid shook his head.

"She took the kids to Maine, which means that she either crossed state lines without your knowledge..."

"She crossed state lines with my knowledge and blessing, her estranged sister is in town for a job interview. I think that in order to keep her dear sis out of town she called on every favor she was ever owed or offered."

"And now she fled towards Canadian boarder to ask for asylum when her sister will start looking for her to kill her," Aaron quipped. "Very brave."

"Actually, not, but like I said, it's a story for another day," Reid smiled slightly. "Have a good night, Hotch."

"You too, I will try to get us home before dinner tomorrow," Aaron promised.

Refuting the Data: True Genius

That the case had taken a bigger tool on Reid than Aaron initially suspected it became evident by the time Reid sprawled himself on the long couch before he stuffed the ear-buds of his mp3 player in his ears turned it on allowing Aaron and the rest of the team to hear the faint tunes of classical music before he closed his eyes.

In last few days Reid had given his all into this case and Aaron didn't delude himself that they would be able to solve it without him and Aaron wasn't going to delude himself either that missing Elle's fourth birthday didn't take huge emotional tool on Reid in addition to intellectually draining case. Emotionally and intellectually exhausting cases for Reid always lead to few days of mild narcoleptic episodes at best or few days of emotional withdrawal from everyone so seeing Reid asleep calmed Aaron's nerves.

"He looks so childlike when he is sleeping," JJ who was sitting at the table on the side opposite to Aaron's said quietly.

"Innocent," Emily added. "Childlike just doesn't suit him anymore."

"What you mean?" Morgan who was sitting on Aaron's right side asked.

"I mean that someone on the board of this plane had turned thirty when we weren't looking," Emily motioned her head in Reid's direction.

"He is twenty-nine," Morgan protested.

"Thirty," Aaron found himself finishing over Morgan's statement.

"We missed his birthday, you knew and you didn't tell us?" Morgan stared at him.

"He brought it up in passing few weeks ago and didn't appear to make a really big deal out of it," Aaron shrugged. "Maybe it was for the better, somehow I cannot imagine him reacting well to the ambush in the bullpen if we remembered the date."

"You are putting it way too mild, Aaron," Dave commented as he leaned against the top of Aaron's seat. "Back in early October he was still working out on his anger issues. The mildest reaction we would get would be him slamming the door into our face and at worst picking the cake out of hair and clothes."

"That's still not an excuse," JJ grimaced.

"I didn't supply one, I just said that maybe it was for the better. I doubt that he would really mind the ambush now. I think about more private settings without any embarrassing stunts like during his first birthday we remembered about," Aaron glanced sideways at Morgan.

"It was Elle's idea," Morgan protested. "I wonder what became of her."

There it was, perfect excuse, perfect opening but suddenly the conversation he had with Cameron, Reid's acquaintance, surged to the front of his mind.

"... until he won't be ready to share it with the others you can't allow them to find out because it's the only thing over which he has ultimate control and the right to have this control. Remember, it's not yours, it's his."

"Who knows," Aaron sighed. "Don't you think that it's a bit too late to care?" he asked.

"You are right," Morgan nodded. "Most probably she ended somewhere in the south, met a guy, settled down, had a kid and wouldn't welcome any sign of intrusion from former colleagues."

Aaron felt a very insistent pull at a strand of his hair but he didn't betray that he got Dave's message hoping that Dave would get his. It was Reid's secret and Reid had the right to reveal it to the others when and where he wanted.

"Did she really strike you as a type that settles down?" JJ asked pointedly.

"With the right guy who knows," Aaron said simply. "But it's her life and we no longer had a right to intrude into it."

It was hard to not let his gaze for a brief moment settle on Reid's slumbering form but he did his damned best to remain focused at the juncture between JJ's and Emily's armchairs before he allowed his gaze to settle on Emily.

"There is something else, isn't it?" Aaron asked.

"We wouldn't solve it without him, would we?" Emily sighed.

"Most probably," Morgan said. "Something is bugging him?"

"I don't think so," Emily said quickly. "I was just thinking that there are so many cases that we wouldn't solve without Reid or we wouldn't solve them as fast without him to make a difference."

Aaron was too long at this job and he had too deep insight in Reid's personal matters at the moment to believe in Emily's statement was something more than a lie, the question was whose lie it was. Emily's? Reid's?

"...even if at the moment he concentrates on what makes him feel good and that's knowing that someone understands that he might have better and worse days. But the time will come, sooner rather than later, when he would feel overly exposed and he will hate it. He will pull back and withdraw himself from everyone under a facade of whatever lie he will be able to spur in a moments notice and he is absurdly skilled with that. At that time you will have to navigate through a clearing full of bull poo..." Cameron's advice surged to the front of his mind again.

Clearly Emily had to get too close to uncovering the truth when Reid was at his most vulnerable and Reid threw in her way whatever excuse that he could find and the sense of doing his job had to be probably the first thing that came to his mind that he felt safe discussing because he already made his mind about it.

"He knows that," Aaron said finally. "He wouldn't come back to BAU after his sabbatical if he didn't know that he was making a difference."

"Did he ever told any of you what he was doing back then?" JJ wondered aloud.

"I don't know, I was interested in living to see next morning," Aaron commented.

"Working on his fourth PhD," Morgan threw in.

"When I asked him about it he said that he went undercover as a drag queen to investigate a case of human trafficking in joint operation between BAU and Andi Swan's unit," Emily muttered. "Clearly I asked too soon to get the truth."

"You did," Dave said. "His mother felt sick, not violently but her doctors recommended that his extended stay would help her recuperate," he added swiftly allowing the truth to blend in with the lie because Dave knew that it wasn't Reid's mother he was taking care of during his sabbatical.

"Pity because I think that with little help he would totally pull it off," Emily mussed.

Aaron felt Morgan looking at him before the other man looked at JJ and Emily and said, "He totally did."

"What?" both women looked first at one another then at Aaron and Morgan, then at Reid to finally settle back on Aaron and Morgan.

"That's Reid's story to tell," Morgan said dryly. "One that would require massive bribery in the currency of chocolate goodies and by massive I mean your annual income put together and spent on nothing else but chocolate and Hotch and I won't be able to reveal the details because he made us swear..."

"On our firstborns, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, little cousins, family pets, liquid assets and each property that has our names on it and that upon reveal without his explicit consent he would not only take it all but depending from the reason of the reveal he might also felt tempted to ambush us, take us into wilderness and torture us to death with tickles and honey baths before he will unleash an army of ants at us," Aaron finished as he remembered Reid's tirade from that time.

"He gets a bit scary when he gets in touch with his inner unsub," Morgan added. "Sorry ladies, your amusement is totally not worth the aforementioned. He has an eidetic memory and this deal on paper hidden somewhere safe."

"We can get Garcia on it," JJ said innocently.

"Go and get her I dare you, your annual income in chocolate goodies and you might be sworn into the secrecy on the same terms Hotch and Morgan were," Reid mumbled sleepily. "The records of that case are so untraceable that even Garcia wouldn't be able to dig them out. What exactly prompted that discussion?" he asked, sounding a bit more focused.

"You did," Aaron commented. "Specifically your comment to Emily about what you were doing during your sabbatical."

"I attended a summer seminar on the importance of the boundaries of one's privacy and I'm pretty sure that what you are doing now counts as a harassment. Now get the ants out of your pants and let me sleep," Reid snorted before he closed his eyes again.

"Reckon how much is going to cost us buying out all the honey within two hundred mile radius from DC?" Morgan mussed at loud as he looked at Aaron.

"Way too much, watch out for feathers," Reid sighed softly.

"And thumbtacks," Aaron coughed. "Duck-tape, plastic foil, salt in your sugar, decaf in the coffee jar, chewing gum in the keyholes.."

"You are giving him ideas," Morgan muttered.

"Because I remember that a true genius doesn't get mad, he gets even," Aaron said simply. "You started it, deal with the consequences. Nothing he will do to you will be less than you deserve for summoning the demon of the dreaded red wig."

"And murderous stilettos," Reid muttered sleepily.

"Hey you, over there on the couch," Morgan snorted. "Should I remind how you almost fainted when you realized that you lost your fake boob? If Hotch wasn't standing where he was you would have landed on your bony butt."

"Because you convinced us that grapefruits would work until we would be able to find better substitute," Reid snorted as he cracked one eye open. "It's an actual miracle that we made it out alive, expert on undercover operations my not bony butt."

"Why I followed him?" Aaron asked pensively.

"Because he was our expert on undercover operations," Reid said sarcastically. "And because Gideon put him in charge of that operation and you were following Gideon's order. And that, ladies, and Rossi, is the story of how we lost our expert on undercover operations."

"I remember now," Aaron nodded with a small smile, "He was bound with a black boa and threw into the trunk of the undercover sedan while his abductors proceed to howl for the ten minutes of ride to the hotel the theme song from Dirty Dancing over and over."

"They couldn't sing to save their lives," Morgan snorted. "I had the time of my life..." he drawled out sarcastically.

"When it happened?" Emily asked curiously.

"In sausage club times," Reid yawned. "Gideon sent the three of us undercover and took Hopkins and Weston with himself to investigate..." he paused. "What they were investigating?" he asked sleepily.

"Similar case, three states over," Aaron answered. "That's why he sent us undercover, to check if the cases were connected without drawing too much attention to ourselves. Four days of my life I will never get back, so will Reid, Morgan made them by a miracle."

"It wasn't that bad," Morgan shrugged. "We caught the unsub."

"He means that the unsub caught us when Morgan lost the radio contact with us," Reid quipped. "I felt like a distressed damsel, I just stood there and looked distressed while Hotch proceed to defend my honor."

"Don't buy that," Aaron interrupted him. "Yes, for a moment he looked like a damsel in distress in a pair of murderous stilettos but the guy was really, really big and I wouldn't be able to reach for my backup if our distressed genius didn't decide to use aforementioned footwear to stab the man in the back of his head with it and proceed to boot-whack him until the man tried to ran away screaming to get that red-headed shrew away from him and that's when he ran into Morgan."

"Did the cases were connected?" Dave asked curiously.

"That's the best part, they weren't which is why we sent Morgan undercover as an exotic dancer," Reid deadpanned. "Hotch and I got to be a gay date that gave him a hundred dollars for a dance to tell him that we didn't find the unsub yet. That reminds me that I never got it back," he added sourly.

"I gave it back to you," Aaron mussed.

"Morgan didn't," Reid shrugged.

"Does it means that the deal is no longer in effect?" Morgan asked suddenly.

"It's still in place," Reid said simply. "After all Garcia doesn't know and for your own good it should stay this way and don't forget that you owe me lots of chocolates."

Refuting the Data: True Genius

They spent the rest of the flight home in peace. Reid continued dozing on and off, JJ and Emily spent sometime with Garcia discussing the proper size and filling of the birthday cake for Reid's belated birthday which by the sounds of it was supposed to be celebrated tomorrow. Aaron didn't mind that, he had a present for Reid for a while and all he needed was wrapping it properly so he quickly started working on the post-case paperwork.

He was so preoccupied with his reports that he was still immersed in his working when the jet had landed.

"You aren't planning to spend whole night here, are you?" Reid asked pointedly.

"Of course not," Aaron said as he started packing the reports in their folders before he scooped them into his bag before he added, "You told them about that case. Why?"

"I don't know," Reid sighed. "It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life but the more time passed since then... It doesn't seem so embarrassing now as it was back then and I guess, letting them on that might make the whole transition easier. I gave up a big secret, I will give up even bigger one when I will tell them and I thought that if I wouldn't be able to give up this one then maybe I will never feel ready to tell them about Elle and the kids."

"That's not what you told Emily," Aaron said pointedly as he stood up.

"I didn't exactly lie," Reid grimaced.

"You weren't telling the truth either," Aaron stressed out.

"It's complicated," Reid sighed. "Last year... Cameron and Elle never failed to point out that I have severe trust issues. She knew, Cameron I mean, she kept telling me over and over that I should let someone in, someone I trusted enough to let everything out. I just couldn't," he said as he started approaching the door.

They went down the stairs and started walking towards the parking lot. Aaron looked around and saw that there were just the two of them.

"It took me some time to prepare myself mentally for admitting what happened and I... I chose Emily," he sighed. "I just didn't time my confession very well. I only got to tell her about the headaches before she died... I know that it's irrational but I can't really help feeling this way that the closest I will get to telling her the truth the more I will worry whatever or not..." he shook his head.

"She will disappear again," Aaron finished.

"I know that it's selfish and irrational but I can't really help feeling this way. It's not fair to her, it's not fair to Morgan and JJ either but Hotch... I lived a lifetime trusting fully only one person in the world... It doesn't mean that I didn't trust my mum but with her condition there were certain things with which I could not trust her for her own good. So first and foremost I trusted myself, for a very, very long time and no one else. I felt safe with myself because every time I tried to reach out it didn't turn out really well for me, every single time."

"You used to trust us," Aaron said.

"I did," Reid nodded. "Thanks for that anal retentive prick, I still have scars."

"It wasn't that bad," Aaron protested. "If I'm anal retentive prick then what does it make you?"

"The dude that almost got a heart attack when you lessened the hold on the line. You really scared the living daylight out of me," Reid snorted. "For the record I feverishly disliked your idea of trust exercises."

"You made that point clear when it was my turn and my hand slipped. It's a miracle that I didn't limp away with nothing more than bruised butt and even more bruised ego," Aaron muttered.

"If I seriously wanted to hurt you I would have waited until you were higher than four feet above the ground," Reid grinned.

"You got a kick out of it, didn't you?" Aaron snorted.

"I was the one who ended explaining my boyfriend of that time that I wasn't cheating on him with a dominatrix just spent major part of the day with my probationary agent at the indoor climbing wall doing trust exercises," Reid retorted. "And trust me that caused even bigger argument than the idea of dominatrix."

"You never told me that you had a boyfriend," Aaron said pensively.

"I never hid my bisexuality," Reid shrugged. "I just didn't openly advertise it. If anything you have access to my polygraphs and you have it there black on white."

"Elle was okay with that?" Aaron asked pensively.

"Mhm," Reid nodded. "She found the track record of my past relationships relatively amusing. She had handcuffs and a feather, do I really have to get into the details on how she found out about it?"

"What's so amusing about it?" Aaron asked curiously.

"For starters you don't have a feather and if you tried to handcuff me to anything I would put a hell of a fight that at best would leave you with a broken nose and at worst with a broken limb. You might have about thirty pounds over me but what I lack in body mass I totally make up in agility."

"You might have the agility but I have stamina," Aaron retorted.

"It's like comparing a lion to a cheetah, there is a big cat and there is a big cat," Reid grinned.

"Are you trying to not so subtly tell me that I'm a pussy cat?" Aaron snorted.

"I wouldn't dare to imply that, I was only only joking," Reid smirked.

"Not a good joke," Aaron muttered.

"Hypothetically speaking if you were a pussy cat you would be the most independent and hostile fur-ball I ever meet, one that gets the sign 'approach with caution and watch your fingers'," Reid snickered.

"At the very least I wouldn't be the doe-eyed fur-ball that gets to be cooed over," Aaron retorted.

"I'm not a doe-eyed fur-ball," Reid protested.

"You started it, live with it Mr Whiskers," Aaron allowed himself to smirk at Reid's obvious offense. "You certainly have sleeping habits of a cat. I remember that time when Hopkins was so bored that he counted how many return flights it will take you to repeat the same sleeping position..."

"And he came to a conclusion that I have to be a werewolf because the variety of my sleeping positions matches lunar calendar, the closer to the full moon the more fetal my sleeping position gets," Reid replied. "I wonder how long it took him to figure it out."

"What you mean?" Aaron asked curiously feeling that Reid wasn't talking about werewolf's theory.

"Nothing, really," Reid smiled quickly. "Just something I remembered him doing when he was around me but he always looked like for the life of him he couldn't figure it out."

"You don't have to be so cryptic about it you know," Aaron said.

"Polly Kellerman," Reid coughed.

Aaron frowned. What Hopkins had to do with Polly Kellerman aside of both of them being at some point of time the agents of BAU.

Kellerman didn't really last long in this position because Reid had almost allergic reaction to her which had to be some sort of sixth sense because by the end of her six weeks long career in BAU she physically assaulted Reid with all the intention of turning the physical assault into sexual one. Luckily for Reid Aaron entered the bathroom in which Kellerman assaulted him in the moment when Reid was trying to inch his way into the stall with all the intention of closing the door in front of Kellerman's nose.

It took all of Aaron's willpower to not have her handcuffed and restrained while he was chewing off her unit chief via the phone and it took Aaron eighty minutes to coax Reid out of the bathroom stall and several long weeks before Aaron felt ready to let Reid out of his sight for longer than a trip to the bathroom.

Hopkins came to BAU about three months after Polly Kellerman was transferred to Anchorage and as far as Aaron's memory served him correctly Reid never had a problem with Hopkins but he still held the man at arms' length.

"I'm not getting it," Aaron admitted it.

"Story for another day, with a copious consumption of alcohol beforehand," Reid shook his head. "You have nothing to worry about, I'm fine."

Refuting the Data: True Genius

On the next day, more precisely in the late evening of Reid's belated birthday party or rather few rounds of drinks after work Aaron found himself walking Reid home after Morgan, who was Reid's initial ride back to DC because Reid's car decided to die on him had to leave early because his tenants called that something happened at the house and that his assistance was immediately required though they didn't specify what exactly that something happened to be. The party dissolved shortly after Morgan left, Dave had a meeting with his editor in the morning and he didn't want to be hung over during it, JJ had to return home to Will and Henry and Emily and Garcia wanted to pick something absurdly secretive.

Reid didn't seem to mind though he didn't look like someone who was very keen to return to empty home, something to which Aaron could relate because Jack was still at Jessica's place due to his preplanned sleepover with his best buddy in Jessica's neighborhood. So when the rest of the team started slowly leaving and Reid suggested moving their discussion about hunting habits of big felines to his place which happened to be closer than Aaron's the older man found himself nodding to the promise of glass of Jim Beam.

The walk to Reid's apartment building cleared their heads slightly but didn't evaporate their good moods. They didn't evaporate either once they settled down in Reid's living-room with a glass of Jim Beam in hand. Aaron leaning against the back of the couch, balancing his glass on the arm of the couch and Reid in a slightly cross-legged position in the armchair.

"Bourbon is stronger than beer," Aaron found himself saying suddenly. "You promised me a story."

"Did I?" Reid sighed. "I guess I did," he muttered. "It's a very complex story that delves deeply in the territory I don't think you want to go."

"Amuse me," Aaron said simply. "You were hiding a body together or something?"

"No," Reid protested quickly.

"Too quick answer," Aaron said dryly.

"We didn't hide a body together," Reid shook his head. "It was after little Elle was born but Elle and I hadn't gotten serious yet. I just moved into this building and I was moving my boxed books. I didn't realize that one of the boxes was faulty and suddenly when I was in the elevator it just fell apart in my hands. Cameron helped me to gather the books and we started talking. Or more precisely I babbled, intensely, and she listened and what I found surprising she not only listened but asked questions and once I calmed myself down a bit she was not only asking questions but also expressing her opinions. The longer we talked the more I wanted to crawl into her brain."

"You found her attractive intellectually," Aaron nodded. "But she is..."

"That was the funniest part," Reid quirked his lips. "Long time ago I discovered that I have certain mechanism that might or might not lead me to developing strong feelings towards a person. It's a three point mechanism. Intellectual and physical attraction and the feeling of emotional security. Elle and Cameron, and yes I told them both, called it three point thinking because according to them most males think with only two points. Cameron was intelligent, nice, funny and had something about her that made me feel secure emotionally around her. My heart said, go ahead; my brain said, hell mate, go the fuck ahead. But here is the thing... my penis didn't, seriously no reaction whatsoever, not even a smallest twitch."

Aaron found himself smiling slightly at that comment, "And later you learned that even if it reacted nothing would become of it."

"Exactly," Reid nodded. "Sometimes sapiosexuality really sucks," he snorted.

"Is this why you felt bothered that Caleb might have stronger feelings for Harvey?" Aaron asked pensively.

"Not really," Reid grimaced. "It wasn't the idea of Caleb being possibly in love or lust with Harvey that bothered me. What really bothered me was how Harvey played on Caleb's feelings to feel included, needed, cared for. That along with certain physical similarities gave me the annoying feeling of deja vu with a very twisted ending."

"You've been in Caleb's place before," Aaron nodded.

"I was, it was weird phase of my life," Reid shrugged. "I had it bad, I won't deny it, I was head over the heels in... something I couldn't really explain. There is another thing which I learned to accept as the unique way my brain is wired. My relationships and crushes track record in a way reads like a sinusoid. Male and female. I crushed on a girl and when I get over it I started crushing on a boy. I had a relationship with a girl and when it ended and I got over it I had a relationship with a boy. That's how my brain is wired."

Aaron nodded again.

"I told you once about Leona McRowan, didn't I?" Reid asked. "It hit me pretty bad and I needed a longer while to get over it. But I never told you about Kurt Ulman. Two different people, similar ending. I swore off dating, in fact I swore of even turning around after more attractive species. I wasn't wholly over it but I reached the point where I allowed myself to go on a coffee or two with a girl from my class that I liked and found safe. Nothing would become of that but that was some progress for which I was grateful."

Aaron nodded yet again.

"It was shortly after one of those coffees," Reid sighed. "I saw him for about a spare second but I turned around thinking 'wait, that guy had a really nice butt'. So I watched him walking inside the building and because I never really brave with hitting on strangers right away I decided that this was it, just an innocent 'butt's appreciation day'," he smiled.

Aaron did too.

"I saw him again and again or rather I saw his butt again and again to the point that it got annoying and I decided that next time I will see him I will try to get a look on his face," Reid said.

"Did you?" Aaron asked curiously.

"I did," Reid sighed. "And then I got it bad, really bad. I felt like a stalker, I discovered that he was coming around to Georgetown in a pattern and then I got it even worse because I calculated that he was a bit too old to be a student but he was old enough to teach there."

"Did you hit on him?" Aaron asked.

"I wanted to but then I wound up in the academy and I hadn't been to Georgetown for a longer while. So I figured that it was the highest time to get over it and that was when I saw him again and again. And I told myself that I will work up a nerve to ask him out for a coffee after my graduation assuming that with any luck I will get a posting around DC."

"How it ended?" Aaron asked.

"I was introduced to him and his wife," Reid snickered. "Good enough reason to get over it?"

"Sounds like one," Aaron nodded. "And that was it?"

"I would love to say that yes, that was it but there materialized a major problem with me getting over him for good which I hadn't done for a very long while. I finally did but it was very long process and my relationship with Elle finally did it, not the first stint nor the second one because I was too out of my mind back then but this 'I care for her and her daughter deeply and I want to be a constant fixture in their lives and I think that I might be falling for her for good' did the thing."

"What became of your feelings for him?" Aaron asked pensively.

"They didn't exactly go away, they evolved into something I was comfortable with and I think something he was comfortable with, mutual sympathy. I still see him around but I don't turn giddy inside when he talks with me anymore and in a way I'm glad that it didn't work out because if he had given any sign of interest back then when I had it really bad for him..."

"You would have given him the power to break you," Aaron finished. "That's what bothers you about Caleb. Who would have been Harvey if things turned out differently?"

"For someone who had been there you ask really dumb questions, Hotch," Reid gave him small smile before took a sip from his glass and added after he swallowed, "I really hate bourbon, it always works on me like an elixir of truth."

"Maybe you could try again," Aaron suggested.

"Won't happen," Reid snickered. "I know how to skin a body without a bloodbath but amongst the things I know I have yet to discover a way on how to turn a straight man gay. Rekindling old flame only leads to people getting hurt and I don't want to get hurt again. I just want to be happy, I want to be with someone who will make me happy and whom I will make happy. It will happen one day, I just need to believe in that again."

"So whom I'm not supposed to try to set you up with?" Aaron asked curiously.

Aaron's question caught Reid in mid-swallow and made Reid burst out with laughter which in given circumstances was quickly followed by a coughing fit which required Aaron to slam Reid in the back few times before Reid could breath properly again.

"You really want to know, don't you?" Reid sighed finally when Aaron sat down on the coffee-table in front of him.

"I don't want you to get hurt and I might if I will..."

"Accidentally get to play twisted matchmaker," Reid finished.

"Well... yes," Aaron nodded.

"The guy who tried to kill me," Reid said simply.

"Who tried to kill you?" Aaron asked.

"The winner of the semi-annual pool for the owner of the most awesome butt in the building. It's one of those weird things one sometimes get to hear on the way to the bathroom," Reid smiled at him.

"And who's that?" Aaron pressed.

"The guy who is sitting in front of the runner up in the same contest," Reid said simply. "Hotch, do I really have to spell it out for you in capital letters?"

Aaron frowned and immediately everything clicked like a puzzle pieces assembling themselves into a bigger picture.

"I didn't really help," Aaron sighed.

"Yes, you really didn't help," Reid agreed. "Thank you."

"For what?" Aaron asked surprised.

"One day you will understand," Reid smiled at him. "Just stop trying to kill me in the meantime."

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert

The End

For Now


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Obstacle, sorry, the story wouldn't be interesting without it.