They mutually used each other. They hated each other even when they loved each other so much that it hurt. Hate and love united into some weird melody that oddly worked so well. Together, they made a bittersweet symphony.
It was a relationship doomed to end badly. The both knew the truth. Accepted it for what it was and then studiously avoided confronting what was right in front of their faces.
Roughly pulling his knotted tie, Aaron Hotchner groaned as he finally untangled the very dignified noose from around his neck and shrugged off his suit coat, throwing it carelessly across the bed. Looking around at the generic hotel room, he shook his head. It was an exact replica of almost every room in which he'd ever stayed right down to the beige carpet and tasteless floral prints that adorned the walls.
It was depressing, and not even the fact that he was going to spend a few mindless hours in bed with his clandestine lover could improve his disposition. Moodily staring out the window at the shadowed parking lot below his room, he waited impatiently.
Glancing at his watch, he frowned. It wasn't like Spencer to be late. Spencer looked forward to these stolen hours almost as much as Aaron did. Despite the fact the Aaron had steadfastly refused to acknowledge them as a couple publicly, Spencer still eagerly accepted every invitation the older man extended for these evening trysts.
In fairness, Hotch had made it clear from the outset that this was all Spencer could ever expect from him. A few hours passion…a satisfying release….and then, nothing. It wasn't even a relationship. It was an empty shell of what a relationship should be.
And it was beyond unfair.
Spencer had accepted his terms months ago, without hesitation or question. And to the younger man's credit, he'd never violated their carefully established rules. He'd never asked Aaron for anything beyond what he'd been willing to offer.
But Hotch wasn't a stupid man by any stretch of the imagination. He knew Spencer's heart was fully involved in this sticky, ugly mess they'd created between them.
And if he was entirely truthful with himself, so was his.
Contrary to the prevailing theory of his colleagues, Aaron wasn't part robot. He felt everything.
That was the reason it had to end.
It was too late to keep either one of them from being hurt. They hurt on a daily basis. Every time their eyes met, they ached. The agony was reflected in every look they exchanged. They'd seen and experienced entirely too much pain not to be influenced by it. But this chaotic madness that existed had to stop. It was affecting each of them now….their chemistry too explosive to keep contained any longer.
When Aaron looked at the sandy haired doctor in the field now, he could no longer differentiate between the brilliant profiling genius he was at that moment and the man that he'd spent long hours screwing in dark nameless hotels. When he looked at Spencer, he saw only the man he'd fallen in love with…and God, how he hated the innocent man for that.
Spencer had managed the impossible. He slowly, inexorably brought Aaron back to life. He'd committed the ultimate sin and made his older lover vulnerable to the pain that being in love brought. But no matter how many times Aaron had tried to call a halt to the insanity, need and desire had always circumvented his better judgment.
Inhaling deeply as he paced the room, Aaron rolled his neck on his shoulders, trying to work some of the tension from his spine. Not that he had any real hope of actually relieving it…it had become as much a part of him as any bone in his body since Haley died. Thankfully, the pain allowed him to know that he was still alive…still breathing. Looking at his watch again, his brow furrowed.
It wasn't like Reid to ever be late. He'd often thought of him as permanently punctual. He couldn't blame the other man for keeping him waiting. Not when the climate between them had vacillated between hot and cold for the past several weeks.
It was yet another of his faults. Aaron knew he was confusing the other man. When they were alone together…his emotions ran white hot. But when they closed the hotel door behind them and re-entered the real world, he knew he became almost another person. Cold, remote…untouchable. The rational part of him understood that it was a defense mechanism, and he suspected that Spencer assumed as much, too.
But rationalizing a behavior didn't make it fair.
Nothing was fair about their arrangement. To either of them.
He wanted to believe that he hadn't been entirely selfish. He'd laid out all the potential problems in the very beginning, hadn't he? Spencer Reid had been unconcerned by his caution, however. His lover had been too anxious to shed their polite disguises and concentrate on more carnal enterprises. Reid had been as hungry and desperate as he had been. It wasn't his fault that the younger man couldn't control his impulses, was it?
Those three little words that Spencer had whispered in his ear after they'd agreed to meet tonight had sealed their fate and changed their dynamic forever. It was too late to pretend he hadn't heard the whispered oath. He couldn't plead ignorance when he'd heard those three powerful words.
"I love you."
The spoken declaration had heralded the death knell on whatever it was that they'd shared.
Spencer was aware of it, as well. He'd seen it in his lover's clear eyes, the knowledge that by vocalizing his feelings, he'd effectively murdered their….arrangement.
Turning as he heard the almost hesitant knock on the door of his room, Aaron Hotchner straightened, the weight of what he must do settling heavily over his broad shoulders.
Because he was human, he would greedily take these stolen hours with Spencer Reid and dedicate every pilfered moment to his memory.
Then, he would do the kindest thing he could for the man he'd come to love.
He was going to walk away.
After all, even a thief such as himself had his boundaries.
Chit Chat on Author's Corner forum news: I'll try to keep it brief.
August signups are open through July 31, 2012 for the "It's a Heat Wave Challenge!" Details can be found at the forum.
There is a new discussion thread available called, "WHY ARE OUR READERS NOT REVIEWING? We asked, and our readers answered!" Please check it out and leave a comment.
We also have another discussion thread entitled "The Ups and Downs of Writing an Uncommon Pairing". Please let us know what you think!
A continued thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read, review, favorite and alert our stories here on this site. We truly enjoy hearing from each one of you. Also, please check out our "M" stories at The Writers Coffee Shop (TWCS) and a Brand New site run by fellow CM authors, Kavi Leighanna, Sienna27 and The Truth Between called Fractured-reality. Com. If anyone needs a link or direction to the new site, please feel free to contact us through either a private message or while leaving a review and we'll make sure to get back to you. Each former "M" story is getting an overhaul as we publish it AND there are new stories being added all the time there as well.