Chapter Four: Late Night Arrivals
It was about two in the morning when Aaron heard a knock on his hotel door. Bleary eyed, he was glad that he’d slept in his boxers, and just barely remembering to grab his gun from the desk where he’d tossed it for the night before he went to see who it was.
Crossing to the door, he opened it up and stood there blinking for several seconds at the sight presented to him sure that it was a dream. Hearing a sleepy squeal down the hall, he turned his head to see a half asleep, but no less jubilant JJ, with her arms around Will’s neck, and her legs around his waist. He could hear Kate giving Will shit, and turning back smiled at the vision of his own. “You’re early.”
Tony laughed and Aaron stepped forward pulling his husband into his arms. There in the middle of the hallway, he kissed him gaining a wolf whistle from down the hall. When Tony started laughing, Aaron pulled back and gave an obviously unrepentant Dave the evil eye. Quickly, he pulled his husband back into their hotel room and pressed him against the door for a moment as he pressed their foreheads together.
“Aaron, I love the thought, but you know how I feel about hotel sex,” Tony whined as Aaron felt arms tighten around his shoulders.
“I know,” Aaron assured smiling somewhat amuse. “No, having sex where people either died, or dead people can and often do come watch you any second.”
“It’s disturbing, Aaron,” Tony complained, and the Unit Chief just felt happy. His husband was odd. He was a handful. He was more than a little confusing, but he was all his.
Pulling back, Aaron took Tony’s hand and tugged the man in, only barely recognizing the luggage being left at the door. It was a sign how asleep he was when he tried to pull his husband into bed fully clothed.
“Aaron, I have to undress, babe,” Tony pointed out chuckling, and Aaron whined, but let go of the man’s hand.
Climbing under the covers, he watched as his husband undressed, carefully folding his dress slacks and shirt, and rolled up his tie. It never failed to amuse him at how meticulous the man was with his clothing. A number of clothes his husband owned were second only to his massive movie collection. Even when he was on the road, he carried quite a wide variety with him. There were suits for meeting the client, and to wear if he had to meet LEO’s or Federal Agents. There were nice jeans with sweaters or button down shirts for going to the client’s house. Lounging around the house on their off days was old sweats and OSU t-shirts or sweatshirts depending on the weather.
The movie collection literally had everything you could possibly want. There were even two shelves specifically for Jack and Henry. The boys knew they could watch anything on them, but weren’t to touch the other shelves. He had one filled with their favorites, and one that he rotated other films on and off of that he thought they’d like and were appropriate for their age. The two boys absolutely loved it feeling like they had their own movie rental place.
Finally, the man came to bed, climbing under the covers, and then rolling to lay his head on Aaron’s shoulder. Taking the hint, he began running his fingers through Tony’s hair knowing how it relaxed him. Soon, he heard his breathing even out signaling he’d fallen asleep. Not that Aaron was surprised. Cases always took extra out of him, as did flying. Not bothering to restrain a yawn, Aaron closed his eyes, and let himself be pulled back down into dreamland himself. Tomorrow would come soon enough.
When he woke up the next morning, he found them both on their sides, with his arm wrapped around Tony’s waist. His husband was holding his hand, but from the rhythm of his breathing, he was awake.
“I thought I’d have to bribe you into getting up this morning,” Aaron said quietly. His voice husky from just waking up.
“A visitor woke me up,” Tony commented sleepily, and Aaron lifted his head.
“Is he or she still here?”
“No, she left when you spoke.” His husband assured rolling over to lay facing him.
“I’m sorry,” Aaron apologized. “Were you getting anything useful from her?”
Tony shook his head, and Aaron saw his eyes close, but he spoke anyway. “I couldn’t understand what she was saying. It was garbled. I am guessing it’s one of the victims from your case. Is there a girl with long curly red hair and bright blue eyes?”
“The most recent victim, Meghan Flannery,” Hotch offered quietly. “Do you think she’ll try again?” They couldn’t necessarily use testimony from a ghost in court, but he had a feeling this case wouldn’t be solved in the normal route. If this was a creature, then the Paranormal Investigators were authorized to deal with it, especially if lives were in danger.
“I am guessing she will if I go to the site,” Tony murmured sleepily. “Which means that our normal division of non-human cases may need to be changed. I’ll have to talk with the guys over breakfast to decide. Do we have time to go back to sleep before we have to get up? I better be getting breakfast, since I didn’t get much sleep. Flannery… Irish or Scottish?”
“Scottish. Her parents have a replica of the Flannery Clan Tartan on the wall in their living room, and her father had a discussion with Reid about their clan history.”
“Does Reid speak Gaelic?” Tony asked sounding more awake.
“I believe it is one of the languages he speaks, why?”
Tony didn’t answer right away, and soon Aaron heard his breathing even out. Opening his eyes, he saw his husband had fallen back to sleep. Placing a gentle kiss on his forehead, Aaron closed his own eyes again, and let sleep pull him back under.
The next time Aaron woke up, Tony was still sleeping but was still snuggled up as close to him as he could get. He wasn’t terribly surprised. His husband seemed to need Aaron’s touch or even general presence more when he was first coming home from a case. Since he figured that he did the same with Tony when he was coming off his own cases, Aaron figured that it made sense. Enjoying the opportunity to watch his husband sleep, he brushed some hair out of his face. He often changed up his hair styles, and currently was wearing it longer than normal on top and brushed back loosely. As long as he didn’t break out the hair gel and slick it back completely too often, Aaron didn’t mind.
Tony had come into his life at maybe the worst moment of his adult life, but somehow when everything settled, and Aaron felt more like himself again, he turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to him. When Haley died, Aaron had felt somewhat lost. Their marriage had ended more than a year previously. While he hadn’t wanted to get back together with her, there was a part of him that would always love her. Between the circumstances surrounding her death, and the way their marriage had ended, he hadn’t been sure he’d ever be able to trust enough to love again. Tony changed all of that, though.
Here was a man who genuinely understood Aaron’s broken past, having suffered himself at the hands of Anthony DiNozzo, Sr, and watching how John Winchester treated his younger two sons. Because he was a Paranormal Investigator, and considered one of the most respected Mediums in the country, he also understood Aaron’s connection to both his job and his team. There was no guilt tripping going on about not being home, and moments they could get together were treasured. In his opinion, his relationship with Tony was stronger and healthier than his marriage to Haley had ever been, despite the amount of time they spent apart. The sealer was how much Jack adored his Papà Tony.
Despite the man’s uncomfortable reaction to children, he always gave Jack his best and showed the boy genuine love and affection. Not to mention that he’d given his son the kind of extended family life that Aaron himself would never be able to provide. Jack absolutely adored both his Grampa Bobby as well as his Uncles Dean and Sam. It had been an interesting journey watching how each man brought his own little niche into Jack’s life. They were relationships that he’d never get anywhere else with both of Aaron’s parents being dead, and his relationship with Sean being rocky at best.
Aaron could tell the moment that Tony began waking up. His nose always scrunched up reminding him of a bunny rabbit and causing the nickname Bugs that Aaron had given him. The next thing he always did was turn his face toward darkness with this little grunt of annoyance as if seeking to prolong his sleep as much as possible and irritated that the sun had the nerve to rise.
Leaning down, Aaron placed a kiss on his temple and the corner of his mouth, before putting his lips over his husband’s ear. “Wakie wakie.”
“There better be eggs and bacon,” Tony whined trying to hide under Aaron somehow making him chuckle at his sleepy husband.
“Probably down in the dining room. I missed you.” Aaron offered softly kissing Tony’s temple again until finally the man opened his eyes and lifted his head.
“I missed you, too,” Tony murmured demanding a kiss, before rolling onto his back. “We need a vacation soon, please.”
Aaron nodded agreeing. One of their rules was to let each other know when they were feeling they’d been apart too much. They also agreed that they would spend time with Jack and just the two of them putting equal emphasis on themselves and their little family unit. They hadn’t gotten away for awhile, and with this Morgan issue, the Unit Chief knew that he needed time away from everything also.
“Just us or Jack, too?” Aaron asked trying to come up with ideas in his head, as he felt Tony take his hand.
“I was thinking a long weekend with Jack somewhere. Say a Friday to Monday. Then he can stay with Bobby while we take some grownup time. We need to plan something fun for his summer vacation, though. I was thinking maybe Disney World and the Universal area with the three of us and my brothers? We could consider taking Henry and giving JJ and Will a break. Will and I have been talking about the possibilities. He and JJ are taking Henry to New Orleans for a long week or week and a half before school starts, and they want to take Jack too. I told him that I’d talk to you, but I think it will be a good experience for him, and he and Henry are together so much they consider each other more like brothers.”
“Hmm, I like these ideas,” Aaron offered, smiling before stealing another kiss. “You know Reid is going to ask you a million questions today, right?”
Tony nodded seeming unconcerned about it and then rolled away getting out of bed. “I don’t mind and I need to talk to him preferably before anyone gets to the station. Can you make sure he’s at breakfast, please? I’m gonna get my shower, and get a quick meditation session in.”
Without waiting his husband walked naked to the bathroom, and soon Aaron heard the water turn on. Smiling he sat up and ran a hand over his face. He had never really seen his husband in action on a case. This would be interesting. Grabbing his phone off the nightstand, he shot off a quick message to Rossi knowing he had roomed with the genius and was happy to hear they were still at the buffet the hotel offered. Dave promised they would wait down there for them, and that Sam and Dean were already there.
When Tony came out, Aaron relayed that Spencer would be waiting for them at breakfast, and then headed to take his own shower, as his husband folded himself into position for his quick meditation session. Aaron knew that had they been at home it would have been tai chi, but when he was on the road his partner found meditation easier.
By the time he was done with his shower, Tony was unfolding himself to begin getting dressed. A part of Aaron was sad that he’d missed the naked meditation. The Unit Chief in him though thought that it was probably for the best, because had he been present for naked meditation they would not be getting to breakfast anytime soon. His husband’s hedonistic tendencies were something he truly missed when they were apart.
When they got down to the breakfast buffet, both filled their plates, and then made their way over to where the two teams were clustered together. He noticed that Will and JJ had arrived, and guessed that Will must have taken care of introductions because Dean was sitting next to Kate. It sounded like they were debating Oprah versus Dr. Phil, which was a little odd, but Aaron wasn’t going to ask and risk getting pulled into the debate. Sam was sitting next to Spencer, and from the sparkle in the profiler’s eyes, Aaron guessed that whatever the two geniuses were talking about would go over all of their heads. Happy to see two seats open at the table with the two highly intelligent younger men, Aaron headed that way. As he and Tony sat, the group quieted. Aaron wanted to roll his eyes at them but knew it was to be expected.
“Everyone, this is my husband, Tony Hotchner formerly DiNozzo, and Garcia if you run a background check on him you’re grounded. That goes for the rest of you as well.”
Tony snorted as he sat down, and Aaron knew he was rolling his eyes. “Now, Aaron, I’m not a delicate blossom. I don’t have anything to hide. I will only say that I have absolutely no contact with either of my fathers, so if you hold me responsible for one being a crook and the other being an asshole, you need a reality check. I promise you being the child of either of them was no picnic.”
“Either? You have two?” Penelope asked hesitantly, and Tony nodded.
“There is a man who… lent me his last name until I was 22 when he legally disowned me because I wanted to help people using my gifts. Then there is the man who helped create me. He is a special cupcake, and we don’t talk much. Dean does, though, so I would appreciate discretion where it comes to John Winchester. Other than that I have nothing to hide, and I’m not ashamed of my past. You will either believe I am what I say I am or you won’t. I can’t do anything about it, and I learned long ago that it is just a waste of time and stress to try and change people’s minds. On a happier note, it’s nice to finally meet all of you. Aaron and Will have told us quite a lot about each of you.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t say the same, but I think we all understand,” Rossi offered. “If you can help us figure this mess of a case out, though, all will be forgiven.”
Aaron put some scrambled egg on his toast and bit into it as he listened to his husband interact with his team as if he’d known them for years. Tony was a master at social situations, and not for the first time he wondered if it was just him or a part of his gifts.
“Speaking of… Will, Dean, and Sam I am thinking we are going to have to rework our normal non-human case pairings. I had a visitor this morning.”
“Someone came visiting you this morning, already?” Will asked sounding surprised. “That’s quick. You haven’t even been to any of the scenes yet. Do you know who it is?”
Tony nodded and finished chewing the waffle he’d put in his mouth before speaking. “Woke me up, about an hour ago. Aaron thinks it is the last victim Meghan Flannery. I couldn’t understand much from her, which is to be expected. Dr. Reid, do you speak Gaelic?”
Spencer nodded quickly looking suddenly even more interested. Aaron knew that the man would take this whole experience as a chance to learn something he wouldn’t normally be able to. Mentally he reworked the pairings so that the youngest team member was able to spend as much time with Tony as possible. He knew his husband would be happy to explain anything Reid asked, and Spencer was the most likely to pick up things that could be carried to another case. Kate was the second most likely, and Aaron thought pairing her with Will and Dean would be a good idea.
“I read it better than I speak it. I have trouble getting the words to roll off my tongue correctly. What do you mean by it is to be expected?”
“Learning to communicate in death is like anything else. The understanding of how to do it doesn’t just come automatically. Also, since she didn’t die in my hotel room I hope, being away from where ever she’s anchored to makes communication more difficult. To be honest, I’m surprised she even knew to come look for me. It isn’t unusual that a spirit searches me out, but it is unusual for one that should still be figuring things out. Dr. Reid, what does the word capall mean? It was the only thing that I could really understand from her.”
“It means horse, which is interesting considering…” Spencer was cut off suddenly as Sam’s hand quickly settled over his mouth.
“Sorry, Dr. Reid,” Tony said smiling. “I know you don’t like to be touched, but Sam had to stop you from saying something that could influence me. While Aaron has told me some things, I’d like to not get any more information at this point until I can walk the scenes. Normally I would go in more or less blind, but this is an unusual circumstance.”
“It’s ok,” Spencer said blushing once Sam had taken his hand off the man’s mouth. “I forgot. Sam warned us not to give too many case details.”
“No harm done,” Tony offered gently. “It’s new to all of you. I’d like to pair up Sam and myself and then Dean and Will, if that’s OK with the three of you?”
“Sounds like the most reasonable decision,” Will agreed, then turned his eyes Aaron’s direction.
“Had you given a thought to who you’d send out in the field with us?”
Aaron smiled and nodded swallowing the food in his mouth before answering. “Actually I had. I thought that Reid and I would go with Tony and Sam. Then, JJ and Kate can go with Will and Dean. Dave, that leaves you at the station with Garcia in case anything new comes up. I’d like for the team to be able to learn as much about this if it’s needed in the future. I think Spencer and Kate are our best chances there. Does anyone object to JJ going with Will, and me going with Tony?”
The profilers shook their heads, and Dave was the one who spoke up. “Given that they’re just consultants there aren’t any issues because you’re married, and there’s another agent there to ensure that nothing funny happens.”
Aaron looked around the group, and when he saw everyone nodding their agreement let his concern go. “Ok then people, let’s get our breakfasts wrapped up so that we can get out to the scenes. I want some headway made on this case today.”