Naughty and Nice
Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds, nor do I make any profit off of my writing.
SLASH WARNING! Hotch/Reid
When the team caught the UnSub, there were mixed feelings. They caught him the evening of December 23rd. Andrew Hargis was a thirty four year old man with a wife, and three children. The team had to arrest him at his house, as he was off work for the week of Christmas. They had to arrest him at his home in front of his wife and children, with a view of their Christmas tree seen through the doorway into the living room. The children were hysterical. The wife wasn't much better.
"YOU BASTARDS!" She screamed, tears streaming down her face. "HOW COULD YOU?! He has CHILDREN! A FAMILY! It's CHRISTMAS for God's Sake! How can you take him TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS! Have you no decency?! You couldn't have waited TWO DAYS! ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?! YOU BASTARDS! YOU'VE RUINED OUR LIVES! MY CHILDREN WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS AGAIN! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU TO HELL!"
And she seized a glass bowl from the side table as her husband was dragged out of the house and brought it crashing down on Agent David Rossi's head. The bowl shattered, and the man collapsed to the floor with a yelp of pain.
"HEY!" Emily shouted, lunging and tackling the woman as she grabbed a picture off of the wall and brought it over her head to bring it down on Rossi's head. Emily wrestled the woman to the floor and slapped handcuffs on her snapping "And now YOU are under arrest of the Assault of a Federal Agent!"
"YOU CAN'T ARREST ME! YOU'RE TAKING MY HUSBAND, YOU CAN'T TAKE ME TOO! MY KIDS CAN'T BE WITHOUT THEIR PARENTS FOR CHRISTMAS, YOU—"
"YOU should have thought of that before you attacked an FBI Agent." Emily said, dragging the screaming woman to her feet and marching her outside. She and her husband were loaded into separate squad cars, and Rossi was loaded into an ambulance, blood running down his face.
JJ and Hotch went to attend to the hysterical children as they were the parents on the team. JJ was holding the little terrified three year old boy, and Hotch was kneeling before the six year old girl, giving her a smile that was normally reserved for Jack. Reid watched from the foyer, a smile on his own lips as he watched his lover. Hotch placed a finger on the little girl's chin and lifted her head to get her to look at him, and then wiped away her tears. Her eight year old sister was standing behind her, listening to whatever Hotch was saying. He looked back and forth between them, speaking softly, and then the eight year old's face contorted as she broke down, and she threw her arms around the man's neck, and the six year old did the same a moment later.
Hotch closed his eyes and put his arm around the little girls, hugging them tightly. JJ was singing softly to the little boy, who was beginning to quiet as his eyes grew heavy.
The team stayed on site until Child Services arrived. Then they checked on Rossi, who was being held overnight for a concussion and needed three stiches, and then they all headed back to the hotel.
No one slept.
They were all miserable. Yes, they caught the killer… but in doing so, they tore apart a family… the day before Christmas Eve. Those children would probably always associate Christmas with the day that they lost their parents… In the end, their mother was right… How would those children ever have a happy Christmas again?
Christmas Eve morning found the team on the jet home. Hotch and Reid, who usually tried to keep things professional when working, threw that rule to the wind on this cold morning. Hotch sat on the long bench seat, Reid curled up against him, staring out the window. Rossi popped a couple of pain pills, and JJ and Emily sat side by side, holding hands to comfort one another. Morgan stared out the window, his fingers tapping on his knee.
"… I'm not liking all the sad faces." Everyone looked up and turned to the laptop. Garcia was staring out at them. "I can feel the depression from here, and I don't like it."
"Sorry Baby Girl." Morgan sighed. "It was just… rough."
"… I know." Garcia said with a slight pout. "Listen. What is everyone doing tonight for Christmas Eve?"
"Nothing." JJ snorted. "We're on call. So none of us bothered to make plans."
"Spencer and I are going to Haley's parents' house." Hotch announced. Everyone turned and stared.
"… Haley invited Reid?" Rossi asked, surprised.
"… she said it was a Family Christmas for the entire family." Hotch said evasively. Reid gave the team a pathetic look, and a sigh.
"… Hotch… please don't tell me that you're bringing Reid along unannounced?" JJ asked, looking grim.
"That's exactly what he plans to do." Reid grumbled, crossing his arms.
"Hotch!" Morgan, JJ and Emily cried. Reid snickered, looking at Hotch, as the man glared at the team.
"You deserve it." Reid said. "I can't believe you're going to put me through this."
"They have to find out about us eventually." Hotch shrugged.
"Who exactly are "they", Aaron?" Rossi asked.
"Haley's parents." Hotch said. Morgan winced, and Reid sighed. "And my mother."
Rossi spewed his drink across the table, all over Emily and JJ.
"Your MOTHER?!" Rossi coughed. "Are you NUTS?! Haley's parents will be bad enough! You're going to subject Reid to your MOTHER?!"
"Why? What's wrong with your mother?" Reid blurted, fixing a panicked look on Hotch.
"She's very strict, and she's a royal bitch." Hotch said calmly. "Don't worry. We'll have back up."
"JACK DOESN'T COUNT!" Reid almost shrieked, throwing his hands into the air.
"I don't mean Jack. My brother will be there."
"… Sean?" Reid asked, sounding hopeful.
"Well… I guess that's something." Reid grumbled, and then with a mischievous smirk added, "at least he's hot…" This time, it was Hotch who spat his drink across the cabin of the plane.
Hotch and Reid returned home, let the dog out, unpacked their GoBags and then repacked them with fresh supplies, before taking showers and getting dressed.
"Do we really have to do this?" Reid asked as he put on his tie.
"I told Haley that I would come." Hotch said gently. "And the rest of the family has to find out some time."
"But why today?! Why like THIS?!" Reid cried.
"To get it over all at once." Hotch said. "Haley, her sister, her parents and my mother."
"Aaron…" Reid whimpered.
"Get it over all in one go, so we don't have to do it over and over again telling them all separately." Hotch said. "But… if you really don't want to do this…"
"If I don't… I can't go with you, can I?"
"… No." Hotch murmured. "You can't. Haley knows about us, and Jack and Sean… You know Jack will end up saying something to give us away… as it is, he may do just that tonight, anyway."
Reid nodded. "Alright. And I guess I WOULD like to just get it over with all at once."
"Are you sure?"
"I don't want to be by myself on Christmas Eve…" Reid sighed, and looked up at Hotch. "I want to be with you. Even if it is under fire from your mother and former in-laws…"
Hotch chuckled, then enveloped Reid in his arms.
"Just remember." Hotch said. "I asked you to marry me, and you said yes."
"I did." Reid smiled. "For better or worse, through ex-wives and in-laws." Hotch chuckled at that and tilted Reid's face up with fingers under his chin, and then kissed him gently. Reid cooed and melted into his lover.
"Come on, baby." Hotch smiled. "Let's go." Reid pouted, but nodded. The pair headed down the stairs and went over to the Christmas Tree that the team had helped them to set up right after they had gotten back from a case in Vermont… Reid had returned from that trip with two new pets, actually… one of which was… IN THE TREE!
"Kamikaze, get out of there RIGHT NOW!" Reid cried, hurrying over to the tree and beginning to pry the large ginger cat from the branches. The other pet began to bark excitedly.
"Blitz, nein." Hotch ordered firmly, and the large German Shepherd blinked up at the man and cocked his head. Hotch scratched his ears and the dog sat by his side, wagging his tail. Hotch pat him on the head and watched Reid extract the cat from the branches. Irritated, Kamikaze darted up the stairs.
Reid sighed and shook his head, and he and Hotch gathered the gifts that were under the tree, nearly all of them for Jack. And then they were in the car and heading to Haley's parents' home. It was snowing when they arrived, and the daylight was almost gone. As they got out of the car, the front door opened and Jack flew out.
"DADDYYYY!" He cheered. Hotch grinned and knelt, catching his son and sweeping him up into his arms.
"Hey, buddy! Merry Christmas!"
"Hey Aaron!" Hotch looked up, and grinned.
"Sean!" He called back, and walked over, tossing an arm around his little brother's shoulders.
"Merry Christmas, man." Sean said with a grin.
"You have an earring." Hotch observed, then grinned. "What did mom say?"
"… nothing compared to what she's gonna say when she sees YOUR secret." Sean said, eyes wide. "Aaron, are you insane?!" Hotch turned and looked at Reid, who was unloading the gifts from the trunk.
"Have to do it some time." Hotch sighed with a shrug.
"You're an asshole, Aaron." Sean snorted, ignoring Jack's gasp and walked over to the car. "Spencer. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Sean." Reid smiled, and the pair shared an embrace. "It's good to see you."
"You too." Sean said, taking some of the wrapped gifts from Reid's arms to help him. "What the hell were you thinking, letting Aaron talk you into this?"
"Well…" Reid groaned, wincing.
"… I'm gonna break his nose."
"Please don't." Reid laughed, amused at how annoyed Sean appeared. "Just promise me that Haley won't kill me… or Aaron."
"I'm more worried about our mother." Sean frowned
"Why?" Reid asked.
"Has Aaron ever told you about her?"
"No… not really."
"If she didn't think it were below her to get her hands dirty, she would probably join those stupid Westboro Baptist Church bigots in their protests."
"… Oh." Reid mumbled, his heart dropping into his stomach.
"I dated a girl in high school…" Sean continued, "Her mother was from Costa Rica. Mom went ballistic. Wouldn't even HEAR of me dating a 'half-breed'… she told her off and scared her away…" Reid winced. "But don't worry… Aaron won't let her come between the two of you. And neither would I." And he smiled and clapped Reid on the back. "You're good for Aaron. You make him happy."
"Thanks, Sean," Reid smiled, and he and his lover's brother made their way to the house. Hotch was waiting for them, with Jack on his shoulders. They entered the house, and followed Sean to the living room.
"We need another seat at the table." Sean announced, entering the living room.
"Oh?" Reid heard a woman ask. And then, he and Hotch entered the room. The room went quiet. Sean had a firm smile on his face. Jessica Brooks and Haley Hotchner both froze, and their eyes went wide in horror at the sight of Reid. An older couple on the sofa looked at him in polite curiosity. And then a slightly older woman from an arm chair in the corner laid eyes on him. Reid shivered. Her eyes were a very cold blue, and she radiated superiority… She slowly eyed Reid up and down, and a look of distaste could be seen behind her own curiosity.
Reid mentally shook himself, thinking 'Do NOT profile your fiancé's mother!'
"Mother." Hotch greeted, walking over and leaning down, kissing her cheek. She leaned up and turned her head slightly to accept the kiss, and gave Hotch a smile that didn't reach her eyes.
"Aaron. You're looking very well."
"I am well, thank you." Hotch said. Then he turned and looked at his ex-In-Laws. "Meredith." He greeted, walking over to the blonde woman, who stood and gave him a stiff embrace. "Eric." Hotch turned, shaking Mr. Brooks' hand. Then he turned, and Reid froze as he found the entire room staring at him. And then, a shrill barking was heard. A little Yorkie leapt from Meredith Brooks' lap and charged at Reid, yapping.
"Whoa… hey there, Sammy." Hotch chuckled, catching the little dog and handing him back to Meredith, who firmly shushed him, though the dog kept growling at the stranger…
"This is Doctor Spencer Reid." Hotch announced. "Reid, this is Mr. and Mrs. Eric Brooks, and of course, you know Haley and Jessica, and my brother Sean. And… this is my mother, Helen."
"Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Hotchner." Reid greeted, nodding to her from across the room. "Mr. and Mrs. Brooks."
"Dr. Reid is a member of my team at the Bureau." Hotch explained. "I asked him to join us tonight."
"And where is Dr. Reid's family that he cannot be with them on Christmas Eve?" Helen asked, sounding slightly annoyed.
"Dr. Reid's mother is hospitalized in Las Vegas." Hotch announced calmly. "His father is not present."
"Not present?" Helen asked, eyeing Reid.
"He's not in the picture." Reid stated bluntly. "And I'm an only child, and my only Uncle died when I was four. He never had kids. I'm not really in touch with my Aunt Ethel much..."
"... You have an Aunt Ethel?"
"You can't see your mother?" Helen asked.
"The team is on call this Christmas." Reid said softly. "We are required to remain near Quantico. Hotch was gracious enough to invite me along so that I wouldn't have to spend the holidays alone. I apologize, I… don't mean to be an inconvenience."
"Don't be ridiculous, Dr. Reid." Sean snorted. "You're more than welcome here. It's Christmas."
"Thanks, Sean." Reid smiled.
"I take it you know each other?" Helen asked, noticing that Reid was relaxed with her younger son.
"Aaron?" Haley finally spoke up. Hotch looked at her. "I need to talk to you. Now. Alone." And she stalked off towards the kitchen. Hotch met glances with Reid, then sighed and followed. He was confident that Sean wouldn't allow his mother to harass Reid too much.
He stepped into the kitchen. Haley was standing at the kitchen sink, her hands on the edge as she stared out the window to the falling snow. She stood there for a long time, then finally shook her head. She turned around and stared at Hotch. Her eyes were red, tears streaked her face, and she was shaking. Her lips were drawn in a thin white line.
"I… I don't even… have words." She finally said, her voice shaking in her fury. "What were you thinking?"
"I asked you."
"No you didn't, Aaron. You never mentioned him."
"No. I didn't."
"You said the WHOLE FAMILY." Hotch argued. "I specifically asked, 'the WHOLE family'… I specifically said 'EVERYONE'…"
"His is NOT part of the family, Aaron!" Haley cried, jabbing a finger in the direction of the living room to indicate Reid.
"He's MY family." Hotch said. "And I am his family. And I am NOT leaving him alone on Christmas Eve."
"Would you have come tonight?" Haley demanded. "If I had specifically told you NOT to bring him… would you have come?"
"If it meant leaving him to spend Christmas Eve alone?" Hotch asked, quirking a brow. "… No."
"So you would choose your little slut over your own son?!" Haley hissed.
"I would choose to spend Christmas Eve with the man I love…" Hotch snarled, narrowing his eyes. "Because if I didn't, I would be here with Jack… who would be here with his mom… his aunt and uncle, and his grandparents… And Spencer would be at home. Alone. Like he's been every Christmas until last year. And last year, I promised him that he would never spend Christmas alone again, as long as I live."
"… I can't believe you brought him here…" Haley choked, shaking her head and dashing away her tears with her fingers. "I have never been so furious with you… Not even when you left on that case… when I left… I am so… disgusted with you, Aaron!"
"Well, that's your problem." Hotch said. "I've bought a house that I live in with him. I love him. He's not going anywhere, Haley. You need to get that through your head." And he turned and left the kitchen. In the hall, he found himself confronted with Jessica.
"… You have some nerve, bringing him here." Jessica said, glaring at Hotch.
"And I'll tell you what I told Haley." Hotch said firmly, hearing the dog barking in the living room again. "I love him, and that isn't going to change. Get over it." And he stepped around her and returned to the living room. And to his amusement, Reid was the center of attention, doing magic tricks for Jack. Sean was watching with a big grin. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks were looking pleased, not with the tricks, but with how much Jack was obviously enjoying them. Helen Hotchner, on the other hand, was eyeing Reid with an obvious look of disdain…
Hotch sighed to himself, knowing that she would go berserk when he revealed the truth. Then and there, he decided not to announce their engagement right away, but at the last minute, to spare Reid as much as he could. Hell, maybe he could shove Reid out the front door, shout "I'm in love and I'm going to marry him!" and then run like hell…
He snorted and shook his head. No. He was SSA Aaron Hotchner, dammit! He would NOT be intimidated! Even if it WAS his mother…
"Hey Jack!" Hotch called when Reid shot him a 'save me!' look. "Want to help me put all the presents under the tree?"
"YEAH!" Jack gasped. "Come on, Uncle 'Penner!" And he grabbed Reid's hand and tugged him towards the pile of gifts that Reid and Sean had deposited by the door of the living room.
"Uncle?" Helen asked, quirking a neatly plucked eyebrow. Hotch looked his mother straight in the eye, and smiled.
"He calls everyone on my team aunt and uncle." He said.
"Yeah!" Jack announced, carrying a present across the room to put it under the tree. "Uncle 'Penner, Uncle Dave, Aunt Penny, Aunt JJ, Aunt Emily and, and, and, Uncle Derek!"
"But… you don't usually call me… 'Penner…" Reid pointed out, looking confused.
"He started doing that after hearing Henry call you that." Hotch chuckled. Reid blinked, then grinned.
"Henry?" Helen asked.
"One of my Agents, Jennifer Jareau, Henry is her son." Hotch explained. "Reid is Henry's Godfather."
"Aunt Penny is Henry's Fairy Godmother!" Jack announced, and Hotch and Reid grinned.
"That's right, Jack." Hotch nodded. Reid and Jack made another trip across the room with some presents, as Haley and Jessica returned.
"Why would your team be aunts and uncles, Aaron?" Helen asked.
"Because." Jack said, trotting by as Hotch opened his mouth to answer. "They're family!"
"They're NOT your family, Jack." Helen said, frowning. "They're not your blood." Jack turned and looked at her, a confused look on his face. "You're not related to them, they're not your family."
"You don't have to be related to be family…" Jack reasoned, frowning slightly and leaning into his father for comfort.
"That's right, buddy." Hotch soothed, kissing his son's head and hugging him.
"Aaron, what on earth have you been teaching the boy?!" Helen asked, now looking extremely disapproving. "Jack… You're not related to them, you're not their family. Blood is all that matters. Your father, your mother, your aunt and uncle, and your grandparents. WE are your family."
"Oh, mother, lay off." Sean groaned, rolling his eyes. She looked up at Sean, scowling.
"Well, I don't expect you to understand, with your motorcycle and your… your earring and…" She shook her head. "Honestly… You probably think of your… biker gang as your family."
"Mother, just because I ride a motorcycle it doesn't mean I'm in a biker gang." Sean sighed, looking annoyed. "And no, blood isn't everything."
"Well, it may not be EVERYTHING, but that's what makes a family." Helen said in a 'that's that' tone. She looked at Jack and said "your family is made up of your relatives. If you're not related, you're not family."
"That's not true!" Jack argued loudly. Then he turned and looked back at Reid, who was standing behind Sean, by the door, his arms wrapped around his abdomen. "Uncle 'Penner?!"
"What's family?!" Jack asked.
"… The dictionary says, a family is a group of relatives who are related by birth, marriage or adoption… But that's not how I define it." Reid raised his eyes… They were looking distressed, but fiery. He straightened, looked Jack straight in the eye, and answered, "Family is who is there for you." Everyone was silent. "Family is who you love with all your heart, no matter what your blood relation is, or isn't. They're who you trust… who you protect and who protects you… Family is… they're the people who, when you're with them… you're HOME."
"Thank you!" Sean announced, waving a hand at Reid. "THAT is what family is!"
Haley frowned, folding her arms. "But even he acknowledged that the dictionary calls family—"
"The dictionary is a book." Sean snorted. "We're human beings. We're not defined by a book! We're defined by who we are and what we believe. Mother, you can define family by blood if you want, but that's not how I define family. That's not how Aaron defines it, and obviously that's not how Jack defines it. If he wants to see Aaron's team as his family, let him!"
"It's not right." Helen argued. "Blood is all that matters. It's what makes a family—"
"Tell that to my father!" Reid exploded, eyes blazing. Everyone stared at him. "He may be my father by blood, but he is NOT my family!" Helen looked insulted. "I would have given anything to have a family when I was growing up. I had my mother, who couldn't take care of herself, much less me, and a father who cared more about the neighborhood kids than his own flesh and blood, and finally walked out. I didn't have a family until I had the team. And I love them. I love them like my family… more than my own flesh and blood father. When I need them, they're there for me… my father never was. They love me for who I am, my father saw me and wished I were something else. My team not only lets me be myself, they encourage me. My father tried to make me into the son he wanted, instead of accepting me for who I was, and when he failed, he turned his back on me, and ignored me. My team support me and they protect me. My father abandoned me. So you tell me… between my father and my team… Who is the family?!"
"Your father only wanted the best for you, I'm sure." Helen said stiffly. "Perhaps it was you who pushed him away—"
"Don't you dare blame Spencer for that!" Hotch barked, making everyone jump, startled. And for the first time in her life, Helen Hotchner found herself subjected to the fierce SSA Hotchner Glare, and she was stunned. Hotch actually stepped between her and Reid. "You can NOT blame a ten year old child for driving his father away! His father was a coward who RAN away from his sick wife and young son. He was a selfish bastard, for not accepting his son for who he was. He couldn't appreciate what he had! He was a shallow, blind fool!"
"Well, what did he want?" Helen asked.
"An athlete." Reid spat.
"And what did he get?" Helen asked.
"A genius." Hotch growled.
Helen rolled her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure he's quite smart, but—"
"He's a certified genius, mother." Hotch interrupted. "He not only graduated High School at age twelve, he was the Valedictorian. His IQ is off the charts—"
"No it's not."
"It's at the top of the charts." Hotch corrected. "Higher than Einstein! He had two BA's and three PhD's by age twenty! His father had a child who was incredible. But he couldn't appreciate what he had. That man, is NOT Spencer's family."
"Please…" Haley interrupted. "This is Christmas… let's not spend the evening arguing." Hotch looked at her. She looked at him, a wild look in her eyes. And Hotch could see… with all this talk about family, she was afraid that Hotch would let the cat out of the bag, and tell everyone that he and Reid were together… Hotch sighed. Haley would hate him, but that cat would go free before the night was over, and probably climb the Christmas Tree and tear it apart, too. But he would wait… He needed to remember… this was a family gathering… and Jack was there. He wanted to make it at least MOSTLY happy…
"You're right, Haley." Hotch said calmly, then turned and addressed the whole room. "I apologize."
"I should hope so!" Helen snapped.
"Mother, I swear, if you instigate another argument, I'm taking Jack and Spencer OUT to dinner so they don't have to sit in the poisoned atmosphere you keep creating." Sean groaned. She glared at her son.
"Dinner is ready and on the table." Jessica spoke up quickly, seeing Helen gearing up to lash out verbally again. "Shall we go to the dining room?"
"YAY!" Jack cheered, and dragged Reid from the room by the hand, Sammy chasing after them, barking at Reid the whole way.
"Well…" Mrs. Brooks said, standing slowly. "I was going to have Helen between Sean and Jessica and Jack between Haley and Aaron… I'm not sure where to put um…"
"Dr. Reid." Hotch supplied.
"Dr. Reid." She nodded. But when they arrived at the table, Jack was already sitting in his booster seat, and Reid had been placed beside the child.
"Daddy, you sit HERE!" Jack announced, pointing to the chair to his other side as Meredith scooped up her dog and shoved him into the laundry room.
"Actually, Jack… why don't you sit by Uncle Sean, and your dad can sit between Spencer and Grampa." Sean suggested, trying to keep Reid safe between people who were on his side…
"Okay!" Jack cheered, and Sean shifted chairs down and added one more, while Jessica silently set another place, her lips a thin white line… When they were ready to sit down, Sean politely pulled out the chair for his mother and Hotch pulled out the chair for Haley, while Mr. Brooks pulled out the chair for his wife. Reid glanced at Jessica, watching, then trotted around and cleared his throat, before pulling out Jessica's chair for her. She looked surprised, but she gave Reid a little smile and a soft "thank you" before taking her seat. And finally, the men were sitting down.
Reid blinked when Jessica, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks and Haley all took the hands of the people sitting beside them, and then Hotch accepted Mr. Brooks' hand and then Hotch and Jack took Reid's hands. Reid blinked as they all closed their eyes and bowed their heads.
"Our Heavenly Father," Mr. Brooks began, and Reid quickly closed his eyes and bowed his head too, especially when he saw Helen glance at him. "We give thanks for the birth of your Son and the celebration of His life, on the eve of His birth. Help us to remember that this festive day is set aside to celebrate all He has done for us. We give thanks for our family and friends, and for the blessing that you have given us so we may gather for this Christmas meal together. We thank you for your provision of a home, a kitchen, for loving hands and for the abundance of food upon this table." Then he paused and glanced up. Reid did too, and they met gazes for a moment. Then Mr. Brooks continued.
"May we remember that there are those who have no families, no place at a table, and no one with whom to share a Christmas dinner, as this young man with us tonight may have been." Reid blinked, and then offered Mr. Brooks a truly grateful smile, and so did Hotch and Sean. Mr. Brooks smiled back, and then continued. "We ask that you would bless our time around this Christmas table and we ask you to bless our food. May our hearts and attitudes, our actions and our lives, be blessings to you. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, we pray. Amen."
"Amen." The rest of the table echoed in soft murmurs, or enthusiastic shouts if their name was Jack Hotchner…
"Sean!" Mr. Brooks suddenly called. "You're a young chef! Would you do us the honor of carving the turkey?"
"Oh, I couldn't." Sean said, looking politely embarrassed. "You're our host, you—"
"Nonsense! Show an old man how it's done!" And Mr. Brooks offered Sean the carving knife.
"Go ahead, Sean!" Hotch encouraged.
"Go Uncle Sean!" Jack cheered.
"Well… Can't disappoint the nephew." Sean chuckled, ruffling Jack's hair and taking the knives, beginning to carve the turkey. "Jack! What do you want, buddy? White meat? Dark meat?"
"I want the LEG!" Jack announced.
"The leg?!" Sean asked, grinning.
"The WHOLE leg?"
"… You sure?" Sean asked, grinning as he carved the leg from the roasted bird.
"ALRIGHT! One big turkey leg for Jack!" And Hotch reached over Reid and took Jack's plate, holding it out for Sean to deposit the leg on.
"Jack… you want mashed potatoes?" Hotch asked.
"Yeah!" Jack gasped, and Hotch spooned up a blob and put it on Jack's plate, then passed it to Reid.
"Gravy on the potatoes?" Reid asked Jack.
"Oh no." Hotch said, grinning. "The gravy is for the turkey. If those are Jessica's potatoes you don't need gravy."
"Oh. Alright then." Reid smiled, seeing Jessica smiling at the praise for her mashed potatoes. Reid set the plate down before Jack, feeling Haley's glare.
"Alright, Meredith?" Sean asked, and on her request carved a slice from the breast and served her, followed by his own mother, and then Haley and Jessica, and then finally Eric Brooks, Hotch, Reid, and lastly himself. And then he sat down and the family began to pass around dishes of food. Reid tentatively took small amounts of each item… a roll, some stuffing for the turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, some mixed veggies, and then a large spoonful of green bean casserole. And finally they were all eating.
"The turkey is PERFECT, Meredith." Hotch praised. "Haley… you did the stuffing?" She nodded. "I thought so. Peppermint Pie for dessert?" She looked at him, surprised, but then she smiled and nodded. "Great. One of my favorites."
"Oh wow…" Everyone looked at Reid at his soft utterance. "Those mashed potatoes ARE good!"
"… Thank you." Jessica said, smiling.
"Told you." Hotch chuckled. "Haley? How's the job going?"
"… Fine." Haley said, stiffly.
"How are things at the Bureau?" Sean asked, glancing over Reid at his brother.
"Busy. Like always." Hotch shrugged.
"Any interesting cases?" Sean asked.
"None that are appropriate to talk about at the dinner table." Hotch snorted.
"OR in front of Jack." Reid added firmly, frowning at Hotch.
"Thank you, I appreciate that." Meredith said, smiling.
Reid nodded to her, saying "most adults don't want to hear about what we do. Children shouldn't…"
"You look very young yourself." Eric announced casually.
"I'm older than I look." Reid smiled slightly. "But I did graduate from the Academy and joined the BAU when I was twenty two."
"That IS young." Meredith exclaimed.
"Spencer is exceptional." Hotch said proudly. "Always has been."
"You certainly seem to feel the need to champion him." Helen said, disgruntled. Hotch glanced up at his mother, coolly.
"From the first day I worked with him, I've seen people over and over again underestimate Reid, look down on him as inferior, question him, insult him even… Most see him as nothing but a kid whose presence in the FBI is a joke… But he's the smartest person I've ever met, and he doesn't deserve that kind of derision. And I don't tolerate that. He's a good man with an incredible array of achievements and I don't like it when people disrespect him. He deserves better."
The silence that followed Hotch's little speech was deafening. Haley was trying not to scowl, or look at anyone. Jessica was chewing slowly, eying Hotch and Reid. Helen was looking snooty, Meredith and Eric looked curious as if hoping Hotch to elaborate, and Sean was just looking pleased.
Jack was building a little mountain out of his mashed potatoes, sticking veggies into it as if doing some landscaping.
The silence soon became very awkward, with Reid nervously poking at his greenbeans. Meredith cleared her throat and said, "I heard you got a promotion, Sean."
"Oh! Yeah, I did!" Sean said, looking up and grinning. "Sous Chef!"
"No kidding!" Hotch exclaimed, perking up and turning to grin at his brother. "Why didn't you tell me?!"
"I called you two weeks ago and asked you to call me back, you never did!" Sean laughed. "You never return calls, Aaron!"
"Congratulations." Reid offered with a smile.
"Thanks." Sean said.
"How long before you make Head Chef?" Hotch asked.
"In a year or two, I'll start checking out opportunities." Sean said with a grin. "But if I stay where I am, the Head Chef I'm working under is looking to retire within the next five years, so I could possibly inherit his position right where I am now."
"That's great, Sean."
"What about you, Aaron?" Helen suddenly asked.
"You've been in your position for quite some time… when are YOU looking at a promotion?"
"… I'm not." Hotch said, and his mother stared at him. "I'm right where I want to be."
"Surely you want to rise up in the ranks?" Helen asked, frowning.
"No." Hotch said. "I don't want to be Section Chief. I'm a profiler and a field agent, not a bureaucrat. I don't want to deal with the additional politics that comes with the Section Chief position, and I most definitely do not want a desk job."
"Obviously." Haley spat, her tone dripping with venom. She viciously stabbed her fork into her turkey.
"Oh, come on you guys!" Sean groaned loudly. "This is Christmas Eve! Can we please talk about something that won't make someone angry?"
"PRESENTS!" Jack cheered, flinging his arms out and inadvertently flinging a blob of sweet potatoes into the side of his Uncle Sean's head. The table erupted into laughter as the man sat frozen in shock.
"Everyone finished with their Christmas shopping?" Jessica asked, still grinning.
"I hope so. Tomorrow's Christmas." Reid snorted, watching Sean clean the sweet potatoes off of the side of his head, and then tease Jack by trying to stick a green bean into the little boy's ear. Everyone grinned, watching the child shriek with laughter, fending off the green bean with his little hands, before snatching one off of his own plate and trying to shove it up his Uncle Sean's nose in retaliation.
"Sean, I doubt Jack's parents will appreciate it if you teach him that it's okay to shove bits of food into random cranial orifices…" Reid groaned.
"Oh, you're no fun." Sean snorted, then turned and shoved the green bean into Reid's ear.
Reid let out a shriek and toppled to the side, Hotch catching him with an angry "SEAN!" while Helen gasped out a "Now REALLY!"
Reid pulled the green bean out of his ear, then covered his finger with his napkin, shoved it into his ear and twisted it around. "If I develop otitis externa from cream of mushroom soup in my ear canal, I am sending YOU the bill, Sean Hotchner!" He snapped.
"What's totitis' sterna?" Jack asked.
"An outer ear infection." Reid answered, taking the napkin out of his ear. "May I please have the green bean casserole?" Eric nodded and passed it down.
"So Jack… what do you think you'll get for Christmas?" Hotch asked, trying to keep things calm.
And Jack was off… He was babbling excitedly, chattering about robots and ray guns and cowboys and race cars and Pokemon and a ton of other things that Reid was clueless about. But Haley, Sean, Hotch, Jessica and Mr. & Mrs. Brooks were all smiling, chiming in every now and then with "Oh, that's pretty cool, Jack" and "Well… have you been good for Santa?" Helen remained silent, looking baffled by all of the things that Jack was hoping to get for Christmas.
"How about you, Aaron?" Sean asked when Jack finally had to stop to catch his breath and eat more dinner. "What do YOU want for Christmas?" Hotch shrugged, and swallowed his mashed potatoes.
"I already have everything a man could possibly want." Hotch said. "A good job, a nice home, and a beautiful family. All I could hope for, is to not lose what I already have. How about you?"
"A new leather jacket would be nice. Spencer?"
"Huh?" Reid asked, looking up from plate. "Oh… Doctor Who on Blue Ray."
"Oh, lord…" Hotch groaned, rolling his eyes.
"Whaaat?!" Reid whined.
Hotch just chuckled and shook his head, saying "Nothing, Spencer."
"… Jerk." Reid grumbled, scowling and slouching down in his seat, poking at his stuffing.
"How about you, Jess, Haley?" Sean asked, grinning up across the table at the sisters. "And if either of you mention Martha Stuart…" He threatened. Jessica laughed, but Haley snapped her mouth shut and turned red.
"Sean, lay off." Hotch snorted, rolling his eyes again.
"Well… what does every woman want?" Jessica asked, grinning. Reid looked up, looking intrigued by this question.
"Well, I don't know, really… I've never looked up the statistics on that! I guess a lot of it would have to do with the demographics… age, social status, personality type, marital status, race, place of residence-"
Hotch immediately winced and rolled his eyes, but he was distracted before he could stop Reid from going off on a tangent… his mother had spotted the ring on Reid's finger, and was staring at it with more intensity than Hotch was comfortable with… He steeled himself and his focus returned to Reid.
"-I mean, the woman I was closest to was my mom, and she rarely even realized it was Christmas… I would always try to find her old classics and literature from the 13th to the 16th centuries, and that usually kept her happy… when she was lucid enough to appreciate them… But I suppose that most women aren't like my mom… I think Emily would appreciate a good book, though, and Garcia would like anything pink or sparkly or fluffy or "techy" enough… And JJ would like football tickets but… as for every woman? I dunno… a blender?" Reid chirped, and everyone stared at him. Hotch nearly groaned aloud.
"Dr. Reid… Let me school you here…" Sean said, grinning. "Women want DIAMONDS."
"And perfumes." Hotch snorted.
"And shoes." Mr. Brooks chimed in.
"And a CRUISE!" Jack announced. The table broke into laughter again, especially at Reid's baffled look.
"Okay, I admit it… There's a perfume I want." Jessica grinned.
"Mommy wants a cruise!" Jack blurted.
"Everyone does, kiddo." Sean chuckled at his nephew. "Except Mister Tight Ass over there."
Hotch choked on his drink, Reid choked on his turkey, Haley choked on her sweet potatoes and Helen choked on absolutely nothing at all.
"SEAN!" They all howled.
"And THAT," Sean said, grinning down at Jack, "Is how to cause chaos at the dinner table."
Jack grinned, turned, pointed at his father and crowed "MISTER TIGHT ASS!"
"SEAN!" The table chorused again, while Reid slapped a hand over Jack's mouth. Jack was turning pink in his mirth, and so was Sean.
Fortunately, dinner was winding down by this point. Reid jumped to his feet to help clear the table, eager to stay in the good graces of as many people as he could (Haley would hate him no matter what and Helen Hotchner was a lost cause, it seemed) and helped to bring out dessert dishes. There was Haley's peppermint pie, a cherry pie, and some gingerbread men with ice cream. Reid had a little bit of the peppermint pie. Hotch, Sean, Jack and Mr. Brooks had some of each. The women picked one… Jessica and Mrs. Brooks had the peppermint pie, Haley had the cherry and Mrs. Hotchner had the ice cream. They spent dessert listening to Hotch lecture his son about not using curse words, despite what Uncle Sean says, though with Uncle Sean laughing and joking and contradicting his brother's message the whole time, no one was sure whether the message sank in or not…
But finally, the food was eaten the table was cleared and they all headed back to the living room, Sammy, who had been freed from the laundry room, chasing Reid and barking the whole way. Jack was eagerly going through the presents under the tree, counting all the ones that were for him, and being very dramatic about his disappointment whenever he came across one that wasn't for him… Reid was watching him, thoroughly amused.
"Did you never do that as a child?" Mrs. Brooks asked, politely. She was once again holding onto the Yorkie, who was still growling at Reid. Reid smiled and shook his head.
"No…" He said. "I wasn't nearly as confident as Jack is. I was really shy and withdrawn… I would stare from afar, but I never had the courage to actually… dig through them like that. And… Christmas just kind of… stopped when I was ten."
"When your father left?" She asked.
"… yeah." Reid sighed, sipping his coffee.
"Your mom didn't?"
"No… mom really couldn't leave the house… and she rarely realized it was Christmas."
"Forgive my asking… you don't have to answer… but…"
"What was wrong with her?" Reid asked, looking at Mrs. Brooks. She looked guilty. "My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic." The Brooks' and Mrs. Hotchner all looked stunned. Reid smiled, though. "But… she was a great mom, when she could be… My favorite memories are when we would read together." Reid continued, his smile widening. "I would sit with her, and she would read me… Chaucer, Margery Kemp, that's her favorite, Thomas Malory, Fr—"
"Sorry." Reid said, ducking his head and letting out a soft huff in semblance of a laugh. Hotch was smiling at him, unable to hide the affection on his face. Reid sipped his coffee, and then grinned when he made eye contact with Hotch.
And all of a sudden, the tension in the room was so thick, it was oppressive…
Sean immediately plucked up Jack and set him on his lap, and then looked at his mother… and sure enough, eyes flashing, Helen spoke up.
"Yes?" Hotch asked, looking at her.
"What's going on?" She demanded to know. "Why is he really here?" And she narrowed her eyes and glared at Reid. Reid froze like a deer in headlights, and in the corner of his eye, Hotch saw Haley stiffen…
Hotch sighed and looked at Reid. Reid met his gaze, and then lowered his eyes, setting his coffee aside. He gave a minute nod; Hotch had his permission.
"He's here because he's my family now, and I was not going to leave him alone on Christmas Eve." Hotch said. "… I love him."
The silence was deafening. Hotch calmly reached out and laid his hand over Reid's, which were fidgeting in the young man's lap. At Hotch's touch, the fidgeting stopped and their fingers smoothly entwined.
"Oh my God." Jessica blurted. Haley was looking both frantic, and furious.
"Aaron…" She said, her voice shaking. "You don't—"
"I proposed." Hotch interrupted, and Haley froze. "And he said yes." Hotch continued. "We're getting married in the spring."
The room exploded. Helen was shrieking like a banshee, Jessica, Haley and their parents were all trying be heard over one another, and the little Yorkie was barking at all of the noise.
Everyone stopped. Jack was sitting on his Uncle Sean's lap, hands clapped over his ears and glaring at the room at large. Mrs. Brooks shushed the anxious dog. After a moment, Jack slid off of Sean's lap and shuffled over to where Hotch and Reid where.
"Yes?" Reid asked, feeling like his voice was incredibly loud in the otherwise silent room.
"You an' daddy are gettin' married?"
"… Yes." Reid nodded, smiling slightly even despite the glares he could feel on him.
"Does that mean… you'll be my mommy?" Reid blinked several times, and Haley looked like she was about to explode.
"Mommy? No… Oh, no…" Reid said, shaking his head. "You HAVE a mom. And she'll always be your mom."
"Then… what will YOU be?" Jack asked.
"I'll still be your Uncle Spencer, okay?" Reid asked.
"Okay." Jack grinned, and Reid smiled, reaching out and placing a hand on Jack's head.
"Get your hands off of him!" Haley snapped, standing and crossing the room. Hotch stood as well, glaring as she approached. But Haley seized her son and pulled him away from Reid, glaring at him.
"Haley…" Hotch growled.
"No!" She shouted, immediately whirling on him. Tears were flooding down her face. "You… you… and he… and… You asked him… you…"
"I asked him to marry me." Hotch said firmly. "Haley… I love him. You know this. And I keep telling you… he's not going anywhere."
"You knew?!" Jessica blurted.
"How long has this been going on?!" Helen demanded to know.
"Mommy, let go!" Jack was whining.
"Go take a bath, Jack." Haley said.
"Go on, Jack." Hotch said. "Take a bath and get into your PJ's… you can have some milk and cookies before bed, okay?"
"Okay!" And Jack scurried from the room. And everyone seemed to gear up to start shouting again.
"If everyone will just sit down and calm down." Hotch said, doing just as he had just suggested. He looked at Jessica. "Alright… now… Haley has known for several months now." Then he turned to his mother. "And Spencer and I have been together for over a year, now. As you all know, a few months ago, I bought a house. He is living in it with me. I bought it for US." Then he turned and looked at the Brooks family. "This was in no way ever intended to hurt or humiliate you. ANY of you." He looked specifically at Haley. "It was never planned. It just happened. I fell in love after we divorced, I decided to give it a shot, and I'm happy with him. Simple as that."
"It's a sin!" Helen snapped. "It's filthy and unnatural and you need to end it, now!"
"Mother, you can spit out as many biblical lines and argument as you can, Spencer will be able to shoot them all down, I've seen him do it." Hotch said, turning his glare onto his mother. "And you can scream and shout at me and threaten to disown me all you want, I don't give a damn what you think and I don't care whether or not you approve."
"Aaron… you… you can't be serious about this." Haley finally managed to get out.
"I'm as serious as you were when you left." Hotch said, his voice hard. "I'm only telling you this one more time. YOU left me. YOU filed for divorce. YOU asked me to sign the papers uncontested. And I did. And once I signed them, I was free to see whomever I wished. And you lost the right to say anything about it."
"Well, I can!" Jessica snapped, coming to her sister's defense.
"And I really I don't care what you have to say." Hotch said, standing. "I care about all of you. Divorce or not, you are still my family and love and respect each and every one of you. But I also respect myself. And I'll not let you dictate how I live my life. I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with Spencer, and nothing any one of you can say or do will make me change my mind." Then he turned and looked at Mr. and Mrs. Brooks. "I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable. It was not my intention. Thank you for having us. Dinner was amazing." Then he turned to Haley, who opened her mouth. Hotch cut her off. "It's Christmas. We can discuss it later. But now isn't the time, and it shouldn't be in front of Jack." He gave her a gentle smile. "Put it out of your head as much as you can, and just enjoy Christmas. Please." He looked at Jessica. "Try to keep her from dwelling on this. It will be dealt with later." Jessica stared at him for a long time, then nodded.
Then, Hotch turned to his mother. She was glaring at him like an Ice Queen, sitting tall and haughty. Hotch placed his hand on hers, and she scowled and withdrew her hand, glowering. Hotch just sighed.
"Don't… you speak to me…" She hissed. Hotch simply turned. Sean stood and the pair embraced.
"You'll let me be your Best Man, right?" He asked.
"Sean!" Helen barked. "You most certainly will NOT!"
"Mom…" Sean sighed.
"I forbid it!"
"I'm not a minor, mother, I make my own choices. And I whole heartedly support Aaron and Spencer." And he turned back to his big brother. "So?"
"Of course." Hotch grinned.
And then Sean turned and gave Reid a hug. "You gonna ask Morgan?"
"Yeah." Reid smiled, flushing. Then Reid turned and faced Mr. and Mrs. Brooks. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, and then finally said "I'm sorry if I… made this awkward… I never meant to. Thank you for your hospitality."
"How the hell can you say that?!" Haley snapped, leaping to her feet. "You came in here, into my parents' home, with my hus—"
"EX husband." Sean interrupted.
"Haley…" Reid said softly. "I respect you."
"I've loved Aaron for years." Reid said gently. "But I never would have come between the two of you. I never believed that I would ever have a chance, even after your divorce… it just… happened."
"How can that JUST HAPPEN?!" Haley shouted. Reid immediately flushed, and Hotch cleared his throat, unable to hide his grin. "I can't believe this is happening." Haley groaned, dropping onto the sofa and putting her head into her heads.
"You and me both." Reid grumbled. Hotch glanced at him.
"What you're doing is against the Bible." Helen snarled. "It's unnatural."
"So is your dye job and face lift." Reid snorted, and everyone STARED. Hotch just leaned back, grinning. He had WARNED his mother not to go there…
"The Bible says that—"
"Mother, stop." Hotch said. "Spencer has an eidetic memory. That means that he has memorized in PERFECT DETAIL, every version of the Bible that there is. I'll tell you again. ANY argument you bring up, he will be able to shoot down in a fiery crash like you've never seen before. And as funny and satisfying as the sight would be, I'm not wanting to be here all night. I also don't want to see you have one of your famous meltdowns when you find yourself spectacularly losing an argument with your son's male lover."
"Mother, your meltdowns are legendary." Sean snorted.
"I'm not looking for your approval, Mother." Hotch said. "I know perfectly well that I'll never have it, I'm not even going to try to get it. All I care about is the fact that Spencer makes me happy. I love him and you can talk your fire and brimstone all you want, I'm not leaving him."
"Daddy!" Everyone remained silent as Jack ran into the room and leapt into his father's lap.
"Hey, buddy!" Hotch greeted, hugging his son.
"Daddy, when will Santa come?" The child asked.
"Well… that depends on when you go to bed." Hotch chuckled.
"I wanna wait for Santa!"
"Santa won't come as long as you're awake, Jack." Hotch said.
"He's right, Jack." Sean announced. "I tried to wait for him all the time… he NEVER came until I fell asleep."
"… Why is Gramma angry?" Jack asked then, staring at Helen.
"Don't say a word." Hotch snarled at his mother. Helen puffed up and opened her mouth.
"Helen, please." Haley said. "Not in front of Jack." And Helen paused, but deflated.
"Hey, Jack…" Hotch said gently. "Daddy has to go now."
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Well… I have to make sure your Uncle Spencer gets to bed so Santa Clause can visit."
"Oh, ha ha." Reid drawled sarcastically, shooting Hotch a look. Jack giggled.
"Gotta go to SLEEP, Uncle 'Penner! Santa knows!" And he began to sing. "He sees you when you're sleeping! He knows when you're awake! He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!"
"Yeah, Reid… Santa Clause is coming to town." Hotch chuckled into his ear, and Reid gave him a look.
"You're sick, Hotch." He snorted, and took Jack away from him. "Not in front of your son." Hotch just grinned while the rest of the room watched them, wondering what he had said.
"You be good for your mom and go to bed after your milk and cookies, okay, Jack?" Reid said, and Jack hugged him tightly, kissing him on the cheek.
"G'night, buddy." Hotch said, leaning over and kissing his son on the cheek and ruffling his hair.
Then Reid set Jack down on the floor, and stood. He turned again to Eric and Meredith Brooks. "Thank you again… And… again, I apologize for…" He trailed off, then turned his eyes towards Haley and Jessica. "… Merry Christmas." And he scuttled from the room, heading for the front door, Sean following him.
This left Hotch facing the room. "I'm not going to apologize for loving Spencer. But… I do apologize for upsetting anyone Christmas Eve. Please have a Merry Christmas." And he turned and left.
Reid and Sean were out by the car, standing close together and talking quietly. Hotch approached them, and Sean turned.
"… You're an asshole."
"Love you too, Sean."
"You shouldn't have put Spencer through this. It wasn't fair to him, and it wasn't fair to THEM." He jerked his head towards the house. "Not on Christmas Eve." Hotch nodded.
"They would have found out either way." The Unit chief shrugged. "That was guaranteed the moment I walked through the door with Spencer. And if I hadn't brought Spencer, I wouldn't have come at all. And they probably would have found out anyway when they wanted to know why I wouldn't come. But at least this way, Jack got to be with his whole family on Christmas Eve."
"… It was still selfish." Sean said.
Hotch merely nodded, then said, "Listen. We're having Christmas Dinner at Rossi's place tomorrow… you're more than welcome to come." Sean looked at his brother, then nodded.
"I just might. I don't think I could take Christmas Dinner with mom after what YOU just pulled."
"And the fact that you agreed to be the Best Man." Reid pointed out.
"That too." Sean grinned. "Well… you guys have a Merry Christmas. Hopefully, I'll see you tomorrow… if Mother doesn't fire and brimstone me to death." And he hugged Reid, then Hotch and then the pair hopped into the car and drove off into the snow, while Sean returned to the house to try and do some damage control…
END PART I
Part II will be up tomorrow! Have a brilliant Christmas Eve!
Don't be a Grinch, it's Christmas! Please review!