To Hug a Hotchner and a Reid.
Pairing: Aaron Hotchner/Tony DiNozzo
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Anthony DiNozzo, Alec Trevelyan, OC-Edward Paddington, OC-TJ DiNozzo
Content: Non-Canon Compliant: NCIS, AU for NCIS Berlin and after, Light Angst, Mentions of Canon-Character Death, Criminal Minds Season 8, NCIS Season 10
Note: This was supposed to be for the Hug a Hotch challenge, but life interfered. So, here is my offering, even if it’s late.
Summary: When their normally calm but intense Unit Chief turns into Mr. Hyde while on a case, the team is confused. When they return and see him hugging a man they don’t know they’re more confused. Add in the little blond boy who calls him Papa Aaron, and Hotch may not be the only one who needs a hug.
The team had just returned from spending ten days in Billings, Montana. The case itself wasn’t all that difficult profile wise, but tracking down the had turned out a little trickier than normal. It wasn’t anything they weren’t all used to though, but tensions had been high since day 2 when their normally intense but calm leader turned into Mr. Hyde. Not even Rossi had been able to find out what was going on. When Hotch nearly took his head off, the veteran suggested that they just give the Unit Chief space.
Just before their plane touched down, the UC acknowledged his short temper and apologized to the team for making things more difficult. He then promised that, if they completed their reports that night they wouldn’t have to return until Monday. Given that it was late Wednesday night, everyone was on board with the offer.
Currently, Spencer, Morgan, and JJ were sitting in the bullpen working on their reports, or at least Morgan and JJ were. Spencer’s had been completed within half an hour of getting back. However, since JJ was his ride home, he was still at his desk watching Hotch’s office. This led to the three of them speculating as to what could be wrong.
“You could offer to give him a hug,” Morgan suggested to JJ playfully, who huffed and rolled her eyes.
“I could, but then you’d be a team member down,” she shot back sarcastically before tossing her pen onto her desk and turning to look at the two. “Maybe you should call Garcia, Morgan. She might be the only one who can get away with it.”
Reid was about to suggest that with the mood their boss had been in for the last 8 days that it might not even be safe for Garcia when he saw Hotch run out of his office. Quickly, the conversation halted, and the three profilers watched as he hurried down the ramp. Spencer shifted his gaze and saw a man wearing a sling, and holding the hand of a little boy coming through the doors.
“Hey, who is that?” The genius began to ask, but before he could finish his thought he saw Hotch stop and pick up the child who was most definitely NOT Jack. He then pulled them both into a hug with one hand cupping the back of the man’s head.
“Well,” Morgan started, but even he seemed to be unable to come up with anything more as they watched their obviously shaken leader try and comfort the child who started crying “Papa Aaron” as soon as he was in Hotch’s arms.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” JJ murmured as Rossi came out of his office watching the scene.
Eventually, between the two men, the little boy, who Spencer guessed to be around 5 years of age, calmed down.
“Who the hell is that?” Morgan remarked watching as two older men came through the BAU’s doors wearing Visitor’s badges and appeared to be carrying weapons. Before either Spencer or JJ could comment though, Hotch pulled back and held out his hand to the darker haired of the two for what turned into a half hug, much to the surprise of the team.
“Are we in the Twilight Zone?” JJ asked as Hotch ushered the three men toward his office while he carried the little boy on his hip. Not even bothering to pretend they weren’t watching, the trio in the bullpen observed Aaron stop to talk to Dave as the others headed into his office. When they were done, Dave nodded and the Unit Chief headed inside, shutting his door behind them, as the veteran profiler headed their way.
“Well, that wasn’t what I expected,” Rossi threw out as he reached them, leaning against the wall in front of Spencer’s desk.
“Spill, Rossi,” JJ ordered and the oldest of the group smirked before complying.
“Hotch wanted me to suggest that you finish your reports, “Dave passed along. “He also wanted me to invite you to his house Friday afternoon to meet his husband and their son TJ. I’ll leave it up to you three to make sure the others know.”
“His what!” Morgan exclaimed, and Rossi just held up his hands as if in surrender.
“I am merely the messenger, and have no more information than you do.”
Morgan just snorted in disbelief. “I’m calling bullshit. You always know everything, so give. Since when is Hotch married and has a kid that isn’t Jack?”
“As much as it pains me to admit this, I truly have no idea,” Rossi admitted.
“I honestly don’t have any more idea what is going on than you do. As far as I knew, Aaron has been single since Haley died. For a while there I thought I could get him to ask out the woman he trained with, but he would never make a move. I can tell you that the two with him are British and carrying at least two weapons each. So, something serious is going on. My suggestion would be to do as we are told. Morgan, make sure Garcia knows not to pry. Something tells me that it would not be well received by our friends from across the pond.”
Rossi then patted the railing before heading back to his office to wrap his side of things up. Quietly, the trio decided to do as suggested and soon Morgan and JJ had their reports done. The three then left with each turning the possibilities over in their heads.
Friday afternoon found Reid pulling up to Hotch’s house a little earlier than he was expected. He’d tried to be patient, but he was worried. Aaron was more than just his boss. He was as close to an older brother as Spencer was going to get. He wanted to approach him while they were in Billings to see what was going on but couldn’t work up the nerve.
Getting out of his car, he locked it and headed toward the front door. It opened before he even reached it though with Jack running out to meet him. The blond British man from the bullpen Wednesday evening with the dark haired man Hotch hugged was standing in the doorway with a misleading smirk on his face. His mouth may have curved into a half-smile, but the glint in his eyes was hard and assessing. Before he could consider it further, Jack had reached him, and Spencer was busy giving the young boy his attention.
By the time that he was done, the blond’s attention had been diverted to a younger blond boy, who appeared to be the same one Hotch had picked up. The younger boy appeared to about the same age as Henry, and from the way that he was holding onto the blond man’s hand, seemed initially to have a similar disposition. Taking Jack’s hand, Spencer headed toward the entrance pausing in front of the imposing blond.
“You’re early, mate,” the Englishman offered calmly as the boy moved to peak at Spencer in the space between the man’s arm and his body.
“It’s ok, Alec,” Spencer heard another unfamiliar voice offer and saw the injured man from the bullpen walking toward them. “Aaron expected Dr. Reid would arrive early. I’m sorry that I forgot to tell you. You were still helping Jack with his ball passing in the back yard when I told Edward. Dr. Reid, please come in. Aaron is in his study. Would you like some coffee? I have a fresh pot brewing.”
“Uncle Alec is awesome at soccer!” Jack chimed in excited. “Come on, Uncle Spencer! Can I help you make your coffee?”
“Sure, Jack,” Spencer agreed, smiling at the boy, who eagerly tugged him toward the kitchen. Once there Spencer poured himself a cup, and let the boy doctor it up for him before the man who he assumed was Alec lured the boys away to watch a movie.
“Come on,” the stranger requested. “I’ll show you to the study. I don’t think that you’ve been here before, have you? I’m Tony by the way.”
“No,” Spencer confirmed as he followed as requested. “I hope your arm isn’t hurt too seriously.”
“Thanks! It’s mostly my shoulder, but I hurt my wrist slightly too. So, we’re being careful since it’s my dominant shooting hand.”
Spencer followed the other man through the house surprised at the size. After the incident with The Reaper, Hotch and Jack had moved out of the apartment they’d been living in, and into a home, which Spencer thought had been big for two people, but this house was even bigger than that. Not to mention the fact that he hadn’t been aware that his boss and friend had even moved! He found himself wondering if he’d done something to offend him. He couldn’t think of anything though and suspected that the secrecy had more to do with keeping Aaron’s new family safe than anything else.
So in his head, he almost ran into Tony’s back when the other man stopped and knocked on a door frame. Spencer couldn’t help but resist peeking inside where he saw Aaron at a large desk. The dark haired man from the bullpen was at another desk working on a laptop, and Spencer found himself wondering just exactly what the two strangers were doing there.
“Aquila, Spencer is here,” Tony informed, and as Spencer watched, Aaron looked up and waved him in.
“Spencer, I see Tony got you coffee. Please, come in. Let’s talk.”
Nodding, Spencer did as requested noting that the stranger made his excuses and then left with Tony, leaving the two of them alone. Slightly unsure of the upcoming discussion, Spencer moved to one of the chairs in front of Hotch’s desk and took a seat.
“I’m glad you came early,” Aaron said softly. He was leaned back in his leather chair and appeared to be wearing a pair of old jeans and a worn t-shirt. Spencer couldn’t help but wonder if his friend and boss had on shoes, or if he was in his bare feet. He wasn’t sure which he hoped for, or why it even mattered. It seemed though that if Hotch was running around his house in his bare feet it would somehow make him more human, and why was that thought so scary?
Maybe Jack wasn’t the only one who thought his father was a superhero. Aaron was though unmistakably his best friend and big brother. He was the one person that Spencer knew would accept him no questions asked no matter what hour of the day or night it was. No matter how far he got from his father’s abandonment though, it felt like he’d never get over the fear that those he loved the most would eventually abandon him.
“I had questions…” Spencer started feeling self-conscious as he stared down at his hands.
“We figured that you would,” Aaron assured. “That’s why I am glad you came early. I meant to send you a text to invite you to come early anyway, but things have gotten away from me. I’m… rattled by Tony’s accident, and not handling it as well as I would like. Although having Edward and Alec here helps.”
“I’m not sure I know where to start,” Spencer admitted finally looking up, and he was relieved to see an understanding look on his friend’s face.
“Then how about I start, and you jump in with questions when they come up. How’s that?” Aaron asked, and Reid quickly nodded, happy the starting point was taken out of his hands.
“Tony, the man whose arm is in a sling, is my husband. We married 14 months ago yesterday, but we’ve been together almost 4 years now. The little blond boy is his son TJ from a previous relationship. TJ’s mother, Amber, is dead and left full custody of him to Tony in her will. Since her parents are deceased, there were no custody questions. Unfortunately, she didn’t tell Tony about him beforehand. So, needless to say, it was quite a surprise to us when he came into our lives. He was nearly two at the time, and we had been dating for just over four months when it happened.”
Aaron paused to take a drink of his coffee, and from the face that he made, Spencer guessed that it was cold. He knew how much the other man hated cold coffee. “We bought this house when we got married. We wanted to have someplace that was new for both of us. We talked about moving into my last house, but I liked the idea of a clean slate all around for the four of us. I know that you must feel like there’s a lack of trust with how long we’ve been keeping this a secret. But, I mean this sincerely, it wasn’t in any way about not trusting any one individual specifically, especially not you. At least not on my end.”
Spencer saw Aaron flash him a sad smile as he ran a hand through his hair before continuing. “I will admit that there are some more serious trust issues with Tony and his former team and agency that were a large factor in our decision. On my part, it was about the sometimes almost paralyzing fear that one of our cases will take Tony and TJ from me. You know how much I struggled after Haley was killed. If I lost Tony, I know I wouldn’t survive.
“As long as Haley and I were together, there was never a time when we were as connected or as complete as he and I are. I always imagined that the notion of soul mates was something for starry-eyed teenagers and people who got run over by the romance bus. Then I met an amazing man who loves his Italian roots and lives and breathes romance.”
Aaron chuckled and then smiled shyly as he played with what Spencer assumed was the now empty coffee cup. “Some days I can’t imagine how I managed to land someone who loves me as much as he does. Every day I feel like I don’t deserve all the happiness he gives me, and I thank the fates for sending him my way anyway. He supports me not just personally, but professionally and despite the fact that kids scare him to death, he adores Jack.”
Spencer could hear the thick emotion in his voice and wasn’t surprised when the older man paused. Giving him a moment, he finished his own coffee and considered what he’d found out so far. “I don’t think at any point I was upset that there was someone in your life romantically that you hadn’t told us about. You know how I feel about the ridiculous notion that we need to tell everyone everything on the team. While it’s also absurd to think that we won’t unconsciously profile each other, we should respect that we each have the right to our privacy. It shouldn’t be seen as a betrayal when someone wants to keep something private, despite what Morgan and Garcia sometimes seem to believe.
“I guess I was more… afraid that… I don’t have anyone else, Hotch. I get tired of people leaving me! I know I have Morgan, who is my best friend, and I have JJ and Will and Henry, and they’re all awesome, and Henry is the only kid on the planet besides Jack who likes me. But, I… I need you not to leave me, too! Especially now with Maeve…” Spencer stopped as he tried to compose himself.
“That won’t happen, Dr. Reid, you have my word,” Spencer heard from behind him. Quickly, he looked back to see Tony standing there with two coffee mugs.
“I’m sorry for intruding,” He offered softly as he stepped into the room. “I figured you two would need a refill by now.”
Spencer couldn’t help feeling defensive as Hotch’s husband handed first him a new cup, and then walked around the desk to give Aaron his.
“I know you don’t know me,” the newcomer in his life began. “But, I would never ever come between Aaron and the people that he cares about. Especially someone who means as much to him as you do. That is unless they don’t treat him right, and then I make no promises. You’re a member of this family, and both TJ and I look forward to getting to know you. I hope that we get the chance.”
Spencer watched as a kiss was placed on Aaron’s temple, and then the two empty cups were gathered before Tony left them alone again. Spencer watched Aaron’s eyes follow his husband out of the room, and somehow the obvious love and affection in them made him feel better. If nothing else, he was happy to see that his boss, friend, and brother finally found someone willing to heal all the wounds Haley left behind. Including the ones inflicted before she was murdered.
“How did he get hurt? Is that why you were upset on the case? Were they in the hospital?” Reid asked settling back into his chair now that he finally felt like his world wasn’t going to immediately come crashing down around him.
“Those questions lead us to the part of the conversation that won’t be shared with the team as a whole,” Hotch advised frowning as he stared into his cup. Spencer could almost see the shift in his facial expression and psyche from Aaron his friend to Hotch his boss.
“Dave will be filled in fully and will be temporarily assigned to a small international task force being formed to clean up the mess that I am about to tell you about. Should something happen to him though, you are the backup, which is why I’m able to tell you the full tale. The team will just be told that Tony got into a car accident after returning from a trip overseas with TJ, and them being out of the country was why I was upset.
“Up until this morning, Tony was employed with NCIS as the Senior Field Agent for their Major Case Response Team under Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Early this morning, he tendered his resignation directly to SecNav after the current, hopefully for not much longer, Director Leon Vance tried to get him to sweep some unethical actions on the part of others under the rug.”
“That’s the Director whose wife died in the explosion recently? Along with the Director of Mossad?” Spencer asked recalling the event they’d been briefed on a few weeks back.
“Yes, we think on the wife, and maybe on the Mossad Director. Eli David was presumed to be dead, but now we are getting conflicting reports that he may still be alive. Edward is hearing some speculation as to maybe Jackie Vance also being alive, but Tony is not buying that one. He advised me that he personally saw Jackie’s body in the NCIS Morgue and that their ME Dr. Donald Mallard did the autopsy. Director David though was not done by their ME, and his body was not brought to NCIS. He thought that possibly the body went to us at the FBI, but I’ve confirmed that didn’t happen either.”
Aaron huffed and scowled at his coffee before taking a drink then looking back at Spencer. “After Jackie Vance’s death, the Director went off the rails it seems, and set out on a personal vendetta to get her killer. For some reason, SecNav allowed it and didn’t keep a close enough eye on the man after his return from her funeral. There are also some questions as to whether he is aware that Eli David may be alive, and there are fears that he’s being manipulated by Ziva David, who is the former Mossad Director’s daughter. She is a member of Tony’s team despite his many questions regarding her loyalty and the objections he’s raised over the years about her.
“Ziva at some point set her sights on Ilan Bodnar as her father’s supposed killer and roped another member of the team into an illegal off the books investigation into his whereabouts. When Tony found out and advised both his direct boss as well as Vance, he was told to mind his own business. Then last week while we were on the case, he was advised he had to go to Berlin to hunt down Bodnar.”
“Which is why you were upset,” Spencer guessed, and couldn’t say as he blamed him. The whole situation sounded like some bizarre nightmare.
“I knew that Tony wasn’t convinced as to Bodnar’s guilt and that he’d been talking to his Paddington cousins who work for MI6. Edward Paddington is the dark haired man who was in here when you came into the study earlier. Alec Trevelyan is the blond and is a friend to both Tony and Edward. He also works for MI6.
“Anyway, it seems that Tony was right. While he was in Berlin, MI6 found evidence to support the theory that Eli was not only alive but had been under investigation by Bodnar and others high up in the Israeli government that he was dirty. Furthermore, they found evidence to suggest that Ziva was or I should say is still working for Mossad. Not long after that, she tried to kill Tony, but as you can see failed. He then hightailed it to England where he knew MI6 would back him up, and TJ was visiting his British relatives.”
Aaron paused to take a drink of his coffee, and Spencer looked into his own cup surprised to see it almost empty. So, while he waited, he turned over the new information in his head. When his friend began speaking again, he lifted his eyes to watch him.
“It was decided that Tony should return home to brief Director Vance and his boss Gibbs, but MI6 agreed to a protective escort, which is why Edward and Alec are here. The two Brits were in an SUV behind Tony’s as they drove back from the airport when the vehicle that Tony and TJ were in was broadsided. It’s a miracle that neither of them was seriously injured. Tony hurt his shoulder and wrist and we’re keeping an eye on his knee, which is stiffer than normal, but TJ was relatively unharmed. He’s just a little quieter and more unsettled than is usual for him.
“When Tony informed the Director what happened, he was met with unexpected resistance as to the truth of his information. So, as I said, he tendered his resignation. He then went to Director Morrow at Homeland, whom he has ties to, and pretty much dumped the whole thing in his lap. The two later went to see SecNav to give her a sit-rep, but as of the conclusion of that meeting Tony is no longer employed with NCIS.”
“Does he know what he’s going to do from here?” Spencer asked concerned. His earlier unease forgotten in his need to help his big brother’s family in any way he could.
“No,” Aaron replied, but then smiled. “Knowing Tony he’ll get a ton of offers, and I think I have him convinced to take his time in deciding what to do next. I have a feeling that the new Task Force will want him to help them in some capacity. I know that Morrow at Homeland, and Tobias Fornell, who runs one of the teams out of our DC FBI office, have both offered him positions. I think though that he needs to take the time to let this whole thing really hit home and then he get used to the idea of what’s happened before he decides where to go from here.”
Spencer nodded quietly and adding the new information to what he’d previously learned. A couple hours later, he was standing on the edges of the living room listening as Aaron tried to hold onto his patience in the face of Derek’s anger at having been kept in the dark for so long. The conversation had gotten quite loud, and Spencer was hoping that someone stepped in soon. Even the two British men were in the room lurking on the edges and looking quite perturbed at the hot-headed agent that Spencer thought of as his best friend.
As his eyes roamed the room, he noticed Jack and TJ peeking out between the railings on the stairs. Poor TJ looked scared and upset, and Spencer wondered how often that he heard adults arguing. He hoped not often. Deciding that there were enough people in the room to back up Hotch between Tony and Edward, he turned and hurried up the stairs sitting down in front of the little boys.
Before he could even speak though, the younger of the two boys was climbing into his lap tucking his head under Spencer’s chin. Automatically, Spencer wrapped his arms around the child and began rubbing his back as he did for Henry when he was upset.
“Why don’t we go to Jack’s room, huh? You guys don’t need to hear this. It’s just grownups being grumpy. Uncle Edward and Uncle Alec will make sure Daddy and Papa are ok.”
Jack nodded and quietly stood before running off. TJ though just clung to Spencer’s neck. So, using the railing for leverage, he pulled himself up and headed off in the direction the older boy had headed. Once there, he went in and shut the door behind them before moving to sit on Jack’s bed where he was sitting with a copy of the first Narnia book The Magician’s Nephew.
“Papa has been reading us this, Uncle Spencer. Can we read some now? TJ likes it lots.”
Smiling, the agent nodded and scooted back to rest of back against the wall. “Where did you leave off, Jack?” He asked, and soon was reciting the story from memory rocking TJ from side to side as with the little boy still cradled in his arms.
Roughly half an hour later, the door opened as Tony came in. The boys were both asleep with TJ drooling on his chest and Jack’s head resting against his arm.
“Thank you, Dr. Reid,” Tony expressed softly as he moved toward them. Once he’d reached the bed, he perched on the edge and reached out to brush hair out of his son’s face.
“I didn’t see them there until I saw you move, and then I wanted to follow but…” Tony trailed off, and Spencer just shrugged.
“Aaron needed you more,” He offered matter-of-factually. “I left because I knew you’d watch out for Aaron, and figured I could be more assistance with the boys. We read some from the book you’ve been reading them. I did it from memory though, so I’ll mark where I was when TJ fell asleep. Is everything worked out?”
Tony sighed and shrugged before answering, “I hope so.”
“I really appreciate how well you’re taking this, Dr. Reid. I know how much it means to Aaron, and maybe we should have said something sooner, but…”
“It’s no one’s business but yours,” Spencer interrupted frowning. “You needed to do what was best for yourselves and your sons. Don’t worry about Derek. Penelope and I will make sure he isn’t a jackass for too long. And, please. Call me Spencer. It always feels weird when people call me Dr. Reid.”
“Why?” Tony asked with his head tilted to one side curiously. “You are a Doctor, correct? Just because it’s a non-medical position doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment.”
Spencer shrugged and studied the other man before answering. “Maybe so. But, like my IQ, I don’t really think of it as who I am. I’d rather be known as my mother’s son or Aaron’s agent than for that. Promise me that you won’t hurt him on purpose and that you won’t take foolish risks, please? He wouldn’t survive losing you, and I need him.”
Spencer saw Tony give a sad smile before he reached out to carefully put a hand on Spencer’s arm. “You have my word. He and the boys are my top considerations when I decide where to go next. I’m glad that I finally got to meet you, Spencer. It’ll be nice to get to know Aaron’s extended family. Can I hug you?”
Spencer bit his lip confused before nodding and leaning forward so the older man could put his arms around him.
“I promise I will do my best to make sure no one takes him from you,” the Italian said quietly in his ear. “I’m sorry she’s gone. We’re here for you, Spencer. I won’t let you be alone ever again.”
Spencer nodded before allowing himself a moment of comfort and rested his head against Tony’s as he closed his eyes as a wave of grief over the loss of Maeve hit him. The team hadn’t been very happy when he’d returned so quickly from her death. When he’d appeared on the jet, they’d tried to talk him out of going, but he’d been stubborn. He knew what he needed. He wondered if he’d ever be allowed to be in love and if what he’d felt for her had been love or just something close to it. When the face of a blond-haired British man with cold blue eyes popped into his mind, he shoved it away. It was too soon for that, but maybe… Someday.
He couldn’t help but think back to the conversation in the bullpen after they returned from Montana, and smiled as he wondered how it was Hotch who needed a hug, but Spencer had been the one to get one in the end. He couldn’t wait to write his mother about his new friend and his new nephew. Maybe he could finally begin to believe he wouldn’t end up alone in the end.