Growing Up Again
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Criminal Minds, nor do I make any financial profit off of writing this. But I do profit personally through the immense joy I get from writing this!
SLASH WARNING! Hotch/Reid
This is another AU of the Let Me In Series. Consider the series the background, but this fic is not actually part of the series.
All Grown Up…
Reid sucked in a deep breath, and let it out again with a soft moan as he stretched and woke. His eyes fluttered open, and a single thought came to his mind…
'Day twenty five. This is it… it's over. I'm… normal me again.' And he was surprised at the regret that flashed through him. Instantly, he longed for the warm, strong embrace that had accompanied him every day over the last three and a half weeks. Reid glanced at the clock… Hotch would be up and breakfasting by now… Reid rose from the bed and showered, as he'd not been steady enough on his feet last night to do that, then quickly dressed, packed and made his way downstairs.
Sure enough, Hotch was reading the paper over a cup of coffee, glass of orange juice, and a bowl of cereal. He blinked himself into awareness and looked up at Reid's approach. He frowned at the look on the young man's face and stood, just in time for the younger agent to fling himself into his Unit Chief's arms.
"Mmmm…" Reid hummed, and Hotch smiled.
"How's your head?" He asked.
"Oh, shut up." Reid snorted, backing away. "I didn't drink THAT much."
"Enough to make a fool of yourself in front of Strauss." Hotch chuckled. Reid stared at him, aghast.
"… What did I do?!"
"Fell into a bush." Hotch laughed, and Reid groaned and stumbled away to get himself some coffee. When he returned, he collapsed into a chair next to Hotch, and sighed.
"And today I'm twenty five again."
"Yes." Hotch said. "You are." He, too, felt a pang of sadness sear its way through his heart as he thought back over the last few weeks… The sweet little smiles he got from Spencer the infant, the excitement of the baby crawling up the stairs, so eager to be with him… A young child sitting in his lap for a story, sucking his thumb… Then an older child, grinning from behind thick glasses, soaking wet and clutching Walter the bullfrog in his hands… Hell, even the inappropriately amorous fifteen year old… And now… it was all over.
Aaron Hotchner felt his heart break a little bit…
But as the rest of the team joined them, he and Reid pushed the sadness back and put on smiles. And soon, they were all boarding the plane and heading back home.
"When we land we're jumping immediately into finding Ben Hedrick." Hotch said firmly. "He can't be allowed to get away, it's only a matter of time before someone dies, and he may also target this team."
"You mean Reid." JJ said.
"No, I mean anyone on the team who brought him in." Hotch said, firmly. "So be vigilant."
The plane ride was short and quiet. Morgan retreated into his headphones. JJ and Emily talked quietly, and Reid curled up in a seat next to Hotch, and read a book. Rossi grinned as he watched Strauss' eyes widen.
"You look amazed." He murmured to her. "You know how fast he reads, it's in his file."
"Reading it and seeing it are two different things." Strauss said in a wry tone. "It's amazing."
"He's an amazing young man." Rossi nodded.
"He was an amazing child." Strauss added, smiling slightly. "I still can't believe he was reading at two. I have to wonder if that was just… knowledge he had, or was he REALLY reading at age two, twenty odd years ago."
"I'm sure he could read at two." Rossi smiled. "Especially with his mother."
"What did she do again, before she got sick?" Strauss asked.
"She was a profession of 15th century literature." Reid announced, and Rossi and Strauss jumped. Emily and JJ looked at him and giggled, and Hotch, who was looking over some files, also looked at Strauss with a smirk.
"Private conversations don't really exist on this jet." Rossi chuckled as Strauss flushed.
"And yes," Reid smiled, "I really could read at two. At age six I decided that Charles Dickens was boring and repetitive." Strauss looked rather taken aback at this, but then just shook her head.
"Well, I suppose the joke is on me." She relented.
Soon, the plane was landing at the airport, and taxied its way to the gate. The team began to disembark, and Strauss' phone rang.
"I'll be right there." She told Hotch, and he nodded and got off the plane, laughing a bit as Reid dropped his messenger bag. Reid sighed and scrambled to gather up the things that had fallen to the floor, stuffed them into the bag and then scuttled off of the plane.
The team trooped towards their cars, chatting happily. No one paid attention to the extra vehicle… other teams used this air strip too, after all… But the sudden startled squeal drew the attention of everyone.
The door to the strange car was flung open as Reid passed by, and a rough arm wrapped around the genius. Reid cried out and his GoBag and messenger bag fell to the pavement, papers going everywhere. He stumbled as he was jerked around and then finally found himself leaning against a strong body, a rough hand covering his mouth so hard that his entire head had been forced back onto the shoulder of the man behind him, leaving him staring helplessly at the sky as the blade of a knife tickled his exposed throat. Instinctively, he threw up his hands, palms out to show his surrender.
"Reid!" He heard Morgan shout, and he knew that his team had drawn their guns and were now closing in.
"AH-AH!" The UnSub barked, scoldingly. "Stay back and drop your guns… I fully intend to kill him… YOU will decide whether it's now, or later…"
Reid's eyes rolled in fright… it was Hedrick. And Reid couldn't help but hope that if he DID die today, it was indeed here and now… the alternative would be hours of rape, torture, and then a slow, agonizing death. He felt a rush of defiance run through himself… he didn't want to give Hedrick the pleasure of… enjoying him. He forced himself to breath and hold still, telling himself over and over again to trust his team… THEY would get him out of this… Though he didn't know if he'd ever live it down, having this happen with Strauss, right there on the scene.
"The longer you behave," Hedrick hissed into Reid's ear, letting go of Reid's mouth and gripping his hair, instead, "the longer you live."
"The sooner you let me go…" Reid growled, "the better your chances of living at all…"
Hedrick chuckled, "well, listen to you… such a sweet, tender little thing… thinks he's a big shot tough guy 'cause he's FBI… How old are you again?"
"Pretty sure, Ben."
"Don't you call me by my name, bitch."
"Why not? You asked me to a week ago."
"I did…" Hedrick chuckled. "Alright, fair enough... I look forward to hearing you say my name when I've got my cock balls deep in your ass and you're cumming all over yourself." Reid winced when the man tightened his hold on Reid's hair.
"You're disgusting." Reid snorted, then hissed when Hedrick jerked on his hair.
"Hedrick," Rossi called, slowly maneuvering around his car. "Let him go…"
"Oh, I don't think so…" Hedrick chuckled. "He and I have unfinished business… and he INVITED me… It would be rude to turn him down."
"Like hell I did!" Reid snapped, wincing.
"Oh, but you did… The moment you let me touch you… Now, get in the car…"
"Hedrick… if you think we're going let you—"
"I think that if you don't," Hedrick snapped, glaring at Morgan, "I'll cut his throat right now."
"But then you won't get to have your fun…" Reid pointed out.
"It's a consolation prize…" Chuckled Hedrick, and Reid tensed when the blade was pressed harder into his neck. Slowly, he maneuvered Reid to the car door, then looked at Reid's team, grinned, and then dragged his tongue up the side of Reid's neck and face. Reid grimaced and shuddered. "Now then… There's a roll of duct tape on the dashboard. Grab it, and tape your wrists together." Reid nodded and reached out to the side, fumbling for the tape. He winced at the loud sound of pulling a strip from the roll, and he began to awkwardly wrap his wrists.
"Now what?" Reid asked. "You can't put me in the car without losing me as your cover."
Hedrick chuckled, looking at the team. "Alright agents… put your guns down and slide them all under the big black truck... then lie face down on the ground BEHIND your vehicles…"
"We can't do that, Ben…" Emily called.
"Oh, I think you can." Hedrick said with a smile, and Reid let out a cry as he felt the bite of the knife. "If you don't… I'll kill him." The teams' eyes widened as they saw the blood.
"Okay!" Hotch shouted. "Okay…" And slowly, the team followed his lead. They lowered their guns and Reid heard them all clatter away as the team slid them under the black truck. Then they all moved to lie down on the ground. Hedrick immediately whirled, shoving Reid into the backseat of the car, and gripping his foot, pressing the knife to the back of Reid's ankle. "And to make sure you can't try to run…" He hissed, grinning. Reid's eyes widened in horror… he was going to sever his Achilles Tendon…
"No…" Reid gasped, shaking his head, terror shooting through him as he felt the tension in the man's body, ready to drag the knife over the back of his ankle. "Please don't!"
"Shut up, bitch! I can do whatever I want to you, you—"
The report of a gun ripped through the air. The knife fell from Hedrick's fingers, and then he was gone… Reid slowly struggled to sit up. He found himself staring down at the man's body… there was a bullet hold just above his left eyebrow.
The team had stood. And they were staring at the body. And then, slowly, Reid and the team turned. Standing at the base of the stairs to the jet, gun still raised… was Erin Strauss. Slowly, she lowered the gun and the hard glint in her eye faded to a look of shock. Rossi looked back and forth between the body and the Section Chief, and then hurried over to her.
"Erin… Erin?! Are you alright?" He asked. Slowly she looked at him, then dropped her gun and covered her mouth, eyes filling with tears. And he caught her just before she collapsed to the tarmac.
Reid, in the meantime, had scrambled out of the car and thrown himself into the arms of Aaron Hotchner, who clutched him close and tight. Morgan knelt and blankly pressed his fingers to Hedrick's throat, as though the man could have survived having his brains blown out. Then, slowly, he stood, staring at Strauss.
"… Damn." He breathed. "Remind me to never make that woman mad ever again..."
Aaron Hotchner and Spencer Reid were sitting side by side on a little couch outside of the office of Dr. Mike Brennan, waiting their turn. After a bit, the door opened and Erin Strauss toddled out. Her eyes were distant and her mascara was smeared, her hair disheveled. She looked… haunted.
Reid looked at Hotch, then stood and went to meet her, Hotch following.
"Are… you okay?" Reid asked.
"I… I've never…"
"You've never killed a man before." Reid finished, and Strauss nodded, pressing the back of her hand to her mouth as her eyes filled with tears.
"You saved Spencer's life." Hotch said, looking at the bandage taped to Reid's neck. Strauss looked at Hotch, amazed at the incredibly fierce look in his eyes, and yet, at the shadow of fear at the incredible loss he could have suffered that day, had she not acted.
"Thank you." Reid added, softly, and the tears fell from her eyes again. Reid didn't know what drove him to make the move that he did… but he stepped in, and wrapped his arms around the woman.
Mike Brennan opened the door to his office, and stopped. He watched as the Sections Chief, an incredibly strong woman, openly wept on her youngest agent's shoulder, as he murmured to her over and over again, "Thank you… thank you…" Even the eternal hard ass, Aaron Hotchner, looked near tears. Of course, Brennan knew why…
After a bit, Strauss had gathered herself together. She gave Reid a quavery smile, said a soft "You're welcome… I'll see you soon." And then she hurried away. Hotch and Reid watched her go, then turned to Dr. Brennan.
"Gentlemen?" He asked, and beckoned them into his office. The pair stepped in and made their way over to the sofa, sitting down side by side as the graying doctor eyed them over his glasses. The pair sat close, and held hands. Brennan sighed. "Well, now that the cat's out of the bag with me, I see you two have no issues about hiding the relationship. So…" He sat down, picked up his clipboard and looked at the pair. "Let's discuss how your case went."
After the evaluation with Dr. Brennan, Hotch and Reid went to finish up paperwork with the team, both on the Boston case, and on Hedrick. Hotch had to do a bit of extra work, as Brennan had sent Strauss home for the rest of the week, so he had to finalize her reports and get them put away properly. But soon, the team was heading out for the night, after Reid assured each and every one of them, for the umpteenth time, that he was fine.
The pair headed home, picking up some dinner on the way. When they arrived, they found something on the coffee table that hadn't been there before… a book.
"What is it?" Reid asked, and Hotch just smiled.
"A gift. From Garcia." Hotch said, sitting down and opening it. There, on the front page, was a photo of him, cuddling a small, three year old Reid. Reid blinked and then smiled slightly, sliding onto the sofa beside Hotch. Hotch grinned at him and shuffled closer, laying the book out across their laps and curling an arm around the young man. Reid rested his head on Hotch's shoulder as the man turned the page.
'BABY' was spelled out on the page, and following were numerous pictures from that first day… Hotch cradling the crying infant… giving the baby his bottle… changing his diaper ("On my DESK?!" Reid complained)… looking up at the camera with an incredulous look on his face as he reminded the women on his team that he WAS a father, and knew how to tend to an infant.
'AGE 1' was next, and there were the pictures of Reid rushing to climb the stairs to get to "Aahn", and his delight upon finally making it into the man's arms, pointing in amazement at his Baby Einstein video and sitting on the kitchen table, patiently holding his mouth open like a baby bird, awaiting the next spoonful of baby food to be deposited in where it belonged… And then a face of displeasure at the taste of the pureed chicken…
"You did NOT like that stuff…" Hotch chuckled, and Reid grinned.
'AGE 2' showed picture of Reid wearing Morgan's hat and reading the Teddy Bear Picnic, and passing out the contents of his desk.
"Oh, please tell me I didn't!" Reid whined when he saw the picture of himself handing the magazine showing him and Lila Archer to a stunned Emily Prentiss.
"Oh, yes you did." Hotch laughed, rubbing Reid's arm and kissing his cheek. Then came the Mohawk, and Reid laughed himself silly, especially when Hotch informed him that he was STILL planning on getting Morgan back for that.
'AGE 3' embarrassed the hell out of Reid as he stared at the pictures of a mortified Hotch chasing him around the front yard… and Reid was naked, gleefully running towards the camera with his hands in the air, a grin on his face and EVERYTHING on full display for Morgan and Garcia.
"Oh my GOD! I will NEVER live this down!"
"Awww… come on, baby… you were THREE. And you were absolutely ADORABLE!"
"I was NAKED!" Reid wailed.
"You were CUTE." Hotch laughed, turning the page and letting Reid see the photos of him cuddling his three year old nudist. Reid groaned. Hotch continued to go through the pictures, showing Reid sucking his thumb, playing peek-a-boo with Garcia, and then at 'AGE 4', the child was wearing glasses, was running around in the back yard playing with Hotch and watching Jeopardy, and then curled up on the sofa, reading.
"You're smiling…" Reid murmured, staring at the beautiful face of his lover, who was observing the photos with a wistful, enchanted smile.
"You are so precious…" Hotch murmured, grinning at Reid at 'AGE 5' pouring Lucky Charms all over the kitchen table and playing at the park and playground, covered in Spaghetti-O's, covered in potting soil, and then sleepy in the bathtub. There was one single picture under 'AGE 6', of little Spencer grinning at the camera, missing his two front teeth. Despite the smile, you could see his red eyes, puffy from crying.
'AGE 7' was the family breakfast with the team that ended in Morgan chasing Reid around the back yard. Reid grinned at the pictures of him wrestling playfully with Morgan.
"He'll make a great dad, someday." He said, and Hotch smiled.
Then came 'AGE 8'… and the farm. Reid snuggled closer, grinning eagerly as he looked over the pictures. There he was with Hotch, milking cows, feeding chickens and running from the rooster, Chanticleer, and being rescued by Ms. Anna's husband. Then there was Reid riding Thundercloud.
"I didn't mean to scare you when I fell off." Reid confessed, and Hotch smiled.
"I know, baby." He said, turning and kissing Reid's temple. He turned the page to 'AGE 9' and gazed at Reid eating Lucky Charms and watching a documentary on Genghis Khan, and then at the aquarium, then having lunch at Olive Garden. The next several pages were dedicated to the Bullfrog Fiasco, and Hotch and Reid spent nearly fifteen minutes laughing at the photos, especially of the one of a very disgruntled Aaron Hotchner holding a screaming frog in his hands, with a giggling nine year old Spencer Reid by his side, both of them soaking wet.
Then there was Reid having pizza and watching a movie with the team, and finally, Reid fast asleep in Rossi's lap. "Wow… awkward…" Reid mumbled, looking at the picture.
"I think you made his day." Hotch chuckled. "He actually put you to bed that night."
"He did?" Reid asked, surprised.
"Yes. He did. Tucked you in and everything."
"Wow." Reid chuckled, and then the pair dove into 'AGE 10' and their trip to the zoo. "I can't believe you bought me that toy lion." Reid commented.
"Why?" Hotch asked.
"Because! I was gonna grow out of it in like, two days!"
"You think that mattered to me?" Hotch asked with a smile. "I just wanted to see you happy. The cost of a lion plush is small."
"… That's sweet, Aaron."
"And so are you."
"Kiss ass." Reid snorted, and Hotch chuckled.
There were only a couple of pictures from 'AGE 11' and 'AGE 12' as the pair had stayed at home those days and just lounged around the house. 'AGE 13' featured Reid with his Crayola crayons, working on a Geographic Profile at the coffee table in the living room and dinner and a movie with Garcia.
'AGE 14' displayed the FBI Picnic with the team, and 'AGE 15' "Doesn't have any photos of nude pubescent boys, thank God." Hotch drawled, giving Reid a look. Reid turned red, looking appropriately embarrassed. There WERE, however, several pictures of Reid hanging around the BAU that day. 'AGE 16' prominently featured a picture of Reid and Morgan posing in front of Morgan's truck, to commemorate Reid's committing Auto Theft.
'AGE 17' had Reid and Hotch embracing in the Round Table Room, making up after the fight they'd had that morning about Age of Consent and when Hotch was willing to accept Reid's advances. Then there were pictures of Reid and the team having Chinese in the Round Table Room. 'AGE 18' showed Reid dressed up to play the part of the innocent young virginal thing to tempt Ben Hedrick with.
"Damn… I WAS jailbait, wasn't I?"
"Yes, you were, and I'm STILL not happy about that whole event."
"Sorry..." Reid mumbled. "But I DID get the confession…" Hotch gave him a look.
'AGE 19' was FILLED with pictures from when Garcia, Morgan and Emily took Reid shopping to go clubbing, and several pictures of Reid at the hair salon.
"Who is THAT guy?" Hotch demanded to know, seeing an obviously gay man ogling his boyfriend.
"That's Garcia's crazy friend, Dustin!" Reid squeaked.
"They sure had you try on a lot of clothes that are… inappropriate…"
"I didn't even know they took those pictures!" Reid wailed, then suddenly blurted, "Who are the Hanson Brothers?!"
Hotch just eyed him, then sighed and turned the page. Reid burst out laughing. There were several shots of Hotch throwing his tantrum about Reid's tight pants, and then many shots at the club.
'AGE 20' was fairly small and uneventful, but 'AGE 21'… well… there were a LOT of pages devoted to Reid's little "21st Birthday"…
"Too bad my favorite part of that night isn't shown in here…" Hotch hinted, and Reid punched him in the shoulder, grinning.
"… We could… re-enact it…" The genius suggested.
"We're almost done." Hotch chuckled, turning to 'AGE 22' with Reid eating breakfast in the living room with the team, after they had… interrupted Hotch and Reid's morning "private time". And that was actually the only pictures there were, considering that the entire DAY had been… "private time". But then, Hotch turned the page. Reid squeaked. There, before him, was a picture of he himself, Spencer Reid, lying on his belly in bed fast asleep, the sheet covering him from the buttocks to mid thigh… he looked… VERY disheveled and… well… he looked very well sexed. Hotch grinned.
"I love that picture."
"YOU GAVE THAT TO GARCIA?!"
"I covered you up first!" Hotch defended himself, leaning away when Reid smacked him.
"I hate you…"
The last two pages, 'AGE 23' and 'AGE 24' showed Reid on the case with the team in Boston, and the final page simply showed Reid coming out of the elevator that very morning at the hotel… this page had three words…
'ALL GROWN UP'.
Hotch closed the book. "This is…" He said softly, "One of my… greatest treasures… for one of the greatest months of my life."
"… Really?" Reid asked, smiling up at him.
"Really." Hotch murmured, curling his arms around Reid and kissing him. Reid sighed, content. "But you know what?"
"What?" Reid asked.
"… I love you just like this… Because here… you're my Spencer… just mine…" And he rose from the sofa and guided his lover up the stairs to the bedroom. The pair undressed and moved into the shower together, bathing one another between kisses. The shower lasted for quite a while… until the water was starting to cool, in fact. And when they got out, they toweled each other off, and fell in bed together.
The pair united, their lovemaking passionate, but tender. And when all was said and done, they curled up in the dark room in their warm bed, snuggling close to one another, ready to sleep…
"Remember when I was eight, and we went to the farm, and I asked if we could have a chicken?"
"You said, that we could talk about it again when I was grown up… and if I still wanted a chicken, we could get a chicken."
"… I still want a chicken."
T-H-E – E-N-D