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Title: Memory
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairing: Hotch/Reid
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3184
Summary: In that moment Aaron Hotchner made a conscious decision to never hug Spencer Reid again.
Author's Note:
OKAY~! So a few days ago chiazu introduced herself over at cm_hotch_reid, and asked for a rec for a fic that centered around what I call in my head The Hug of Revelations (*insert laughter at stupid pun here*) or she requested that someone write one. Well, I didn't know of any fics that fit that description so I volunteered to write one. Which was going to be short, well I'm me and nothing I write stays short. Unless I want it to be long. So, either way this is what I came up with. It hasn't been betad, since colordrone is out of town for the week so if you spot any HUGE mistakes point them out and I'll fix them. Otherwise let me know what you think! =D

In that moment Aaron Hotchner made a conscious decision to never hug Spencer Reid again, because he wasn't sure he'd be able to let the younger man go. Because letting go that first time was hard enough as it was.

Soon Morgan was half carrying Spencer to an SUV, and Hotch could only watch numbly as his subordinate did his best to convince the others he didn't need to go to a hospital. Hotch shook his head and climbed into the front seat next to JJ, who was already on the phone getting the address for the closest hospital and programing it into their GPS.

No one was listening to Spencer's loud and slightly slurred declarations that he didn't need to go, that he just needed rest. They all knew it was a lie.

Hotch glared down at his hands, they were shaking. He refused to admit to anyone just how frightened he'd been when they'd realized Spencer was gone; and he had a nasty suspicion that his shaking hands would give him away.

He also refused to remember the crush of that slender body against his. Because the realizations that would come after the adrenaline stopped roaring through his veins would be uncomfortable, and he'd deny them. But in that moment all he could do was gaze over his shoulder at Spencer who was very studiously not looking at any of them.

Those realizations did come, at the worst possible time. He'd barely walked through the door and hadn't even been able to slip out of Agent Hotchner mode and relax back into just being Aaron; when he was again faced with a scowling Haley, which really wasn't conducive to relaxation. Hotch sighed and wondered how this would end, he had a terrible feeling that it wasn't going to be in any way good.

Time slipped away from him after that, it was a dizzying whirl of stress and worry, and the memory of that day that he wished hadn't happened. Every time Haley's voice dropped into that subzero hush or the false calm that only made Aaron's head hurt worse, he had to combat the phantom arms wrapping around him. But eventually Haley moved to the guest room, and Aaron was left at night with nothing but silence and memories that he didn't want.

Hotch tried his damnedest to save his marriage, but all he'd remember later in life is he wasn't the one to save Spencer from the lingering demons of the day he didn't want to remember. Later he'd find out about Gideon's “talk” with Spencer, and about just how little help it had been. How everyone had suspected, but no one had done anything. How Spencer had been forced to go and find help on his own.


Later he'd remember very little of the last months of his relationship, he'd only remember the look on Spencer's face as they sat in the conference room as he looked at Gideon after comparing an arsonist to an addict. Later all he'd remember is that they should have known sooner.


Being served papers was almost a relief, having it done in front of the team was a low blow. But in the end he knew it was better for Haley, because as long as the memory of that half desperate embrace was all he could think of he'd never truly be faithful to her.


He should have found it harder to let Haley walk away. But watching Spencer half tear himself apart over Owen Savage was ten times harder than watching Haley throw her bags in the trunk of her car.


It was getting harder to avoid the memory. But Hotch just kept going because it wasn't as if he could do anything about it. Still at night, he was forced to examine the fact that those phantom arms were the product of what was probably the worst day of Spencer's life. He tries not to examine just how pathetic that is, but always in the end he's left again with the memory.


Aaron existed for a long time like that.


He repressed the urge to touch Spencer when things went wrong, because as much as Aaron cherished the memory he knew that Spencer hated being touched. He forced himself to keep his own counsel so many times.


Aaron held himself back through it all; Reid being held hostage by militant religious extremists, having to deal with his the reality of his father, the debacle that was Adam Jackson.


But when faced with Spencer being locked in a room and exposed to Anthrax Aaron had to force himself to almost shut-down completely. They'd solved the case and Aaron had stared down at the body of the man he refused to love and he'd forced himself to turn and walk out of the hospital, because he knew if he'd waited he'd have done something stupid, like cry or wrap his arms around Spencer and not let go.


He didn't go back to the hospital, he spent most of that time trying to bury the feelings that he'd been avoiding for so long. In many ways it was like a cavity, a dull ache that was tolerable for a while but once the infection burrowed it's way beneath the surface the pain became intolerable.


It would take a week for Spencer to get out of the hospital, and another two before he'd be allowed to do anything other than desk duty. Aaron thought he had time, but the reality is that a week is only so long.


They all mentioned it to him, in their own ways; Garcia made vague references to leaders needing to support their troops, JJ talked to Spencer loudly on the phone, and Morgan growled at him. Emily and Dave took longer to comment, Emily was first and she just stared at him pointedly before saying “You aren't the only one suffering here. Get over yourself.” She'd walked away before he could reply.


Dave went so far as to take him to lunch, for the first half it was fairly pleasant just a friendly talk and it was so relaxing that he had almost forgotten to be wary of his friend. Which was of course apart of the plan, Dave had always been far too good at planing things.


“Reid only has two more days left in the hospital, so you really need to visit him.


The comment was casual, and Aaron didn't think as he shook his head and shrugged. “I can't.”


“Ah, so that's how it is then.” Dave nodded and Aaron scowled.


But after a few moments Aaron sighed, “You were always good at interrogation.”


Dave smiled over his cup of coffee, “Well it is my job.”


They laughed it off and went back to the easy conversation.


A few days later Aaron didn't know who he was expecting when his doorbell rang, but a very disgruntled Spencer was not it.


He felt himself swallow thickly, “Shouldn't you be in bed?”


Spencer snorted, which Aaron mentally noted was not very flattering but still endearing, “Yes I should be in bed. Am I in bed? No.”


“Okay then, you should come in.” Aaron winced as he noted the chill in the air. “Come on, I'll make you a cup of tea.”


Spencer blinked and opened his mouth to say something, but Aaron shook his head and took hold of one of his arms to draw him into the apartment. He refused to analyze the warmth in his gut as he guided a wide eyed Spencer to an armchair and pushed him down. Aaron pointed at him in an almost stern way, and said in his best Special Agent Hotchner voice “Stay.”


Spencer nodded slightly as Aaron turned away, and soon he found himself standing in his kitchen over a tea kettle (his mother's long bias again microwaving water was as deeply ingrained as Haley's irrational hatred of the color purple) waiting for it to boil, when it finally whistled he prepared the cup systematically and was at a loss for what to do afterwords. Eventually the tea was done steeping and he found himself unable to come up with any other reason not to go back to the living room.


He he presented a slightly confused looking Reid with the steaming mug silently before sinking onto the couch. Spencer cleared his throat in a way that made Aaron wince slightly and took a sip of the tea, “So, why tea of all things?”


Aaron felt odd as he shrugged, “Because that's what you make when someone's been sick, besides t's better for you than coffee.”


“Well actually it's been theorized that it's better for you than water but that's not the point. There is no way tea is going to fix me having had anthrax poisoning.” Spencer shook his head bemusedly as he took another sip.


Aaron shrugged, “I'd say it's as much about comfort as anything else.” When Spencer blinked at him Aaron sighed, “When you're cold or upset hot tea can be a comfort, it's....warm. Like hot chocolate, except with antioxidants.”


Spencer smiled a bit, “So you're trying to comfort me?”


Aaron frowned a bit in thought, “I suppose so. Either way, you've been ill. You should be in bed, not here.” The unspoken 'why are you here?' was obvious and Spencer sighed.


“You never came to see me.” The younger man's voice was soft and Aaron felt himself wince as he continued, “I mean everyone else came. Even the guy who delivers our mail came one afternoon to talk for a bit, and Garcia practically had to drag Morgan away. But you never came.”


Aaron shifted a bit uncomfortably in the silence that followed that statement before sighing, “I thought you'd have more important people visiting. I...” he trailed off, unwilling to examine his reasoning or to tell Spencer anything further.


“Who could be more important than you?” Spencer was frowning down at his tea.


The warmth that spread through Aaron's chest at that statement was highly illogical, but nice. “Spencer I'm sure there are more people than you'd think that are more important than me. You just see me everyday, so I seem more important than I am.”


Spencer twitched, “That...is retarded. Sorry. I probably should say that differently, but I'm tired.”


Aaron blinked, “Which is why you should be in bed.”


Spencer's frown became more prominent and it was beginning to look more like a pout, which really just wasn't fair. “I'm not leaving until you tell me the real reason you didn't come. It's not fair you know. Really it wasn't, because I had to deal with all those people traipsing in and out of the room when the only person I wanted to see never showed up.”


Aaron didn't blink, but it was a close thing. “What?”


Spencer shook his head, “I wanted to see you. I wanted you to be there. Not Dale, who apparently thought that I was 'supremely' heroic, or Garcia who just kept looking at me like I was about to die even though I knew I wasn't going to because we found the damn antidote. Why didn't you come? You never do anymore, and I don't know what I did. Well, I mean I have a few theories but I keep hoping that they aren't why but I logically can't think of any other reasons that you'd be so standoffish.” The younger man paused to look imploringly at Aaron, “You know I've been sober a year now right? I got my coin the week before this whole mess started and I...”


“Spencer. That hasn't nothing to do with anything, you know I'd never judge you for that. And...” Aaron wanted to say he had no idea what the younger man was talking about. But he did.


He'd been distancing himself from Spencer, not consciously but in a definite way to protect himself from feelings that he shouldn't feel. Which had only been brought into a sharper contrast since that damn hug that shouldn't be such a treasured memory.


“Is it because I let Tobias get the drop on me in Georgia?” Spencer's voice had grown even more unsure, “because that's when it all changed. At first I thought it was all that...stuff...going on the Haley but you didn't pull back from any of the others, and I...just...”


Silence reined then, and Aaron really had no idea what to say.


“It is because of that, isn't it?” Spencer's voice was softer and sad, “I guess I sort of proved that I wasn't good enough that time. I mean...”


“No!” Aaron shook his head and held up a hand.


Spencer frowned, and again it looked suspiciously pouty, “But there was just an awkward silence and that always means the answer isn't good, and....”


“That is not what it meant.” Aaron knew he was treading a very slippery slope here and he was afraid. Which really was slightly ridiculous, since Spencer was the one that looked like he was on the edge of tears and obviously so very tired.


“Then why? I don't understand! We were friends, we're friends now! Aren't we?” Spencer's voice almost echoed in the silence that followed. “Well I guess I really need to learn not to assume so much huh?”

Spencer was making motions to stand up but Aaron nearly growled, “Would you stop inferring ridiculous things from silence?”


“Then talk to me!” Aaron stared at the younger man who was obviously flustered, “If you don't want me to infer things then you have to speak, you know? That thing where you move your lips and form word that hold certain meanings depending on language, age, and location? Or have you been glaring at people silently so long that it's hard for you to do that now?”


Aaron winced, “I don't know what you want me to say.”


“I want to know why I suddenly wasn't good enough anymore! You always understood, that's why I chose you and not any of the others! But now I can't understand you and it's been so long since you've actually looked at me and I just...” Spencer trailed off before sighing, “I should go. This was stupid. Thanks for the tea.”


Aaron was waging a silent war with his own mind, a clearly insane apart of him had an almost irresistible urge to explain it to Spencer. To explain that the incident in Georgia had brought things into focus and that those things scared him half senseless. However, a far more sane and logical part of his brain was reassuring him that it'd been over a year and that eventually it'd get better, he'd stop dreaming about miserable times and be able to focus on moving on with some semblance of normalcy.


Spencer was halfway to the door when he started to cough, which really if it hadn't sounded half as painful Aaron would have suspected the younger man of doing it on purpose. Either way, the argument was settled because there was no way that Aaron could stop himself from taking the three long strides to where Spencer was hunched over slightly.


Wrapping his arms around the younger man shouldn't have been so easy, not after a years worth of pent up emotions; but it was easy. And Spencer didn't really seemed to mind as he stared at Aaron, with a foreboding amount of comprehension dawning across his young face, and allowed Aaron to guide him back to the couch, “I told you, you should be in bed. Here, try to drink some tea. Why did they let you go if you're still coughing this badly?”


Spencer dutifully took short slow sips of the still warm tea as he leaned against Aaron's side, which Aaron shouldn't have felt so pleased by. “They let me go because there isn't any more they can do really. I'll just have a bit of a cough for a while, I'd have developed one sooner if I'd known it'd get this reaction.” Aaron's arm tightened around the slender shoulders unconsciously and Spencer gave a soft hum of contentment as he leaned against Aaron even more. “You're warm.”


Aaron sighed, “Spencer. We shouldn't...”


“I think I figured at least part of it out, you know. I am a profiler, figuring out behaviors is sort of my job.” The younger man paused to clear his throat and take a swallow of the tea, “But it didn't all fit until tonight. So shut up, I'm basking at the moment and you're being annoyingly practical. As per usual.”


“Spencer I don't do casual, my feelings aren't....well they aren't proper and this shouldn't happen it's why...” Aaron swallowed as Spencer looked up at him with a smile.


“Well you can stop now, I don't mind. In fact your feelings are completely returned.” Spencer yawned massively then, in a way that Aaron found particularly adorable, and took another sleepy swallow of his tea. “In fact I'll be terribly miffed if you don't stop, and I'll sic Morgan on you. And you know he would, especially now because he's terrifically angry with you for not visiting. Speaking of which can you not not visit me again?”


Aaron blinked down at the top of Spencer's head as the younger man attempted to bury his face against Aaron shoulder. “You Dr. Reid should be asleep.”


“I'm serious. It hurt. Don't do that again.” Spencer's voice was growing increasingly serious and sleepy at the same time.


Aaron sighed, before allowing a hand to run through Spencer's hair. “Alright. But you wont be in the hospital anymore, so that wont be a problem.”


Spencer snorted softly but didn't argue, which Aaron took as an agreement. Aaron wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, but eventually he shook his head and gently pried the now cool tea mug from Spencer's hands and set it aside. “You're in no shape to get home. Come on, you can take my bed.”


Spencer didn't object as he was lead to the bedroom or when Aaron gently tugged his low-tops off his feet, he did catch Aaron's wrist as he made to walk away. “Stay.”


Aaron blinked down at him, before sighing and toeing off his own shoes. Spencer smiled and moved over on the bed until Aaron could slip under the quilt next to him. Spencer immedietly rolled closer and wrapped his arms around Aaron and burying his face against the older man's neck; Aaron sighed again before allowing a hand to toy with Spencer's hair.


Spencer was asleep almost instantly, which wasn't surprising considering. However, Aaron stayed up for a long time, for once not being haunted by the memory of a hug that had been far too brief.


Passionate love is a quenchless thirst

Kahlil Gibran.


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2010 07:49 am (UTC)
This was awesome!
May. 4th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
Yay~! Thanks! =3
(no subject) - fantasticalidea - May. 4th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 4th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
xD Nuzzley!Spencer is a new favorite of mine. It fits far too well in my head. =D I'm happy you liked it!
(no subject) - fantasticalidea - May. 4th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 4th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Yes he would be. Because Spencer has a lot of hugs to make up. =3
May. 4th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Sweet and lovely. Ah Hotch, it was a losing battle from the moment of that hug. This was wonderful.
May. 4th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! =D
(no subject) - fantasticalidea - May. 4th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 4th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad she asked for that prompt!!
May. 4th, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I'm fairly glad she did as well. =3
May. 4th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Very nice and oh so sweet. I love the sense of anticipation all the way through. Thank you.
May. 4th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! =D Glad you enjoyed it
May. 4th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Amazing!! :D
May. 4th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
May. 4th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
That was so sweet; so glad that Hotch came to his senses, even if it did take a dose of Anthrax to do it!
May. 4th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
aw thanks~! =3

(Your icon is adorable to the max)
May. 4th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Very fluffy - yummy. Great prompt and excellent answer to the prompt.

This could almost turn in to a series.....lol. J/K.

Um, are you taking prompt requests - cause I have a silly one I am trying to give out in this fandom and my Torchwood fandom.
May. 4th, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC)
Prompts are always welcome because they make the plot bunnies hop.

xD It could turn into a series, but I'm terrible about doing that so I'm trying to refrain.

May. 4th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
<3 X3 That was so wonderfully perfect! You're awesome and I love you! Thanks so much for writing this. You're going on my friends list now. X3 <3
May. 4th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
xD I'm super happy you like it~! =D
May. 4th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
XP Of course I like it! So much better than I thought it would be too. Not that I thought it would be bad of course. XD
May. 5th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
well I'm happy it was a pleasant surprise. =D
May. 5th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Well, I'm happy you're happy.
Oh, and I posted my first fic. *crosses fingers* Hope it's good.
May. 5th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
i get the angst, though. very much so, in a here-is-my-stomach sort of way. WELL DOOOOOOOONE^36.
May. 10th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
This was beautiful.
Nov. 29th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
Oo, I just now found this--loved it. (off to read more of Ashbear's H/R fics...) I'm friending you, ok?
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )