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Title: Surviving
Author: Daylyn
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: PG-13 (FRT)
Pairing: Hotch/Reid
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their copyright holders. No profit is intended.

Summary: Set immediately after Episode 5.14, “Parasite”. On the flight back from Florida, Reid and Hotch talk about Jack.

Author’s Note: Contains SPOILERS for Episode 5.14, “Parasite” specifically and for Season 5 generally. After watching this episode, all I could wonder is how Hotch would react to the fact that the con man’s son watched his father being shot and killed. Hotch is bound to see parallels to Jack. I felt absolutely compelled to write this.


Surviving
By Daylyn


Spencer is the first one on the jet and he takes one of the seats near the window. The rest of the team piles in. Spencer looks up and watches as Hotch enters last and then makes his way to the rear of the plane, to a seat that’s separate from the rest. As Hotch goes by, Spencer can see that his back is stiff. It’s almost as if Spencer can feel the tension rolling off of Hotch.

Rossi sits across from Spencer and pulls out his notebook, starting to write. Everyone else enters into their own little world, either pretending to read or, in Morgan’s case, listening to music.

This case really doesn’t feel like a win. The unsub, a con man whom they don’t even know his real name, was killed by the local LEO who had been tracking him for years. Understandable, from what Spencer’s gathered, as they thought that their suspect had a gun. Unfortunately he didn’t. Unfortunately, he was shot down in front of his family and mistress. Shot down in front of his son.

Spencer knows that this case will affect Hotch for a long, long time.

The take-off is smooth. The flight uneventful. Prentiss, Morgan, and JJ start chatting. Hotch stays in the back of the plane, a quiet, almost ominous figure. Spencer reads, but he knows he can’t concentrate.

Rossi looks up from his writing. He gives Spencer what can only be called a significant look.

“What?” Spencer asks.

“You know what.”

“I don’t think he would appreciate—”

“I don’t think it matters what he wants. What matters is what he needs.”

“Why me?”

Rossi gives him a disbelieving glare. Spencer shrinks into himself a little. “Forget I said that.”

“I will.” Their eyes meet. Spencer sighs and stands up. He makes his way to the back of the plane, the team watching and yet, deliberately, refusing to acknowledge.

Hotch is scribbling furiously as he works on his report. Hotch only works at this pace when he’s… agitated. Spencer refuses to use the word upset.

“Hey,” Spencer says as he sits across from Hotch.

“Reid.” Hotch’s tone is clipped, his body language withdrawn, every part of him indicating, ‘Stay Away’.

Sometimes, Reid’s isn’t good at doing what he’s supposed to. Especially with Hotch. Especially now.

“How are you doing?” he asks quietly.

“Fine,” is the curt reply.

“Aaron…”

Hotch’s head rises abruptly, his face like granite, yet his eyes as troubled as a stormy sea. “Reid,” he says, annoyance obvious. “What do you want?”

The team is speaking louder, purposefully, given them at least the illusion of privacy. “I want to see how you are,” Spencer replies calmly.

“I told you, I’m fine.”

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Hotch looks at him, angry, incredulous, annoyed, dismayed. Suddenly there is a small, almost miniscule, lightening of his face. “You did not just quote The Princess Bride to me.”

Spencer gives a half smile. “Whatever works.” His voice lowers. “Seriously, I just want to see how my lover is doing.”

Hotch looks shocked for a moment, and then rolls his eyes to indicate the team. They are continuing to talk, loudly, amongst themselves. Hotch opens his mouth to respond.

“And you’re not fine,” Spencer interrupts.

Hotch sighs. “Did you think that maybe I don’t want to talk about it?”

“Did you think that maybe you need to?”

Hotch looks out the window of the jet for a long moment. Spencer wonders if he’s ever going to respond.

Finally, finally Hotch looks back at him. “Do you think that boy will ever recover from seeing his father shot in front of him?”

Spencer knows what he’s really asking: ‘Will Jack ever be okay?’

“I don’t know,” Spencer answers. “It depends on a lot of factors. How much support he gets from his mother, other family, his friends. Obviously his mother has her own grief to cope with now. Maybe they can work through it together.”

Hotch nods. He doesn’t say anything.

Spencer continues. “In this case, there’s also the hurt of finding out that they didn’t know ‘William’ at all. That their whole life with her husband, his father, is based on a lie.” Spencer pauses for a moment and then adds, “Jack obviously doesn’t have that problem.”

“This isn’t about Jack,” Hotch snaps.

Spencer meets his gaze steadily.

Aaron sighs. “Okay,” he admits quietly, “maybe it’s a little bit about Jack.”

Spencer nods, trying to look encouraging. He wonders if he ever gets that right.

“Jack could hear the shot that killed Haley, you know. Even though he was hiding.”

Spencer nods again. He doesn’t know what to say.

“He still gets nightmares.”

“I know.” And Spencer does know; he’s been in Aaron’s home, in Aaron’s bed, when they’ve been awakened by a screaming child. It’s one of the most heartbreaking sounds Spencer has ever heard. Spencer smiles sadly. “I think we all still have nightmares.”

“Yeah. But that was Jack’s mommy.”

“I know.”

Aaron looks out the window again, but he doesn’t seem to be cutting himself off this time. It’s more like he’s thinking.

“Jessica thinks that I should bring Jack to a child psychologist.”

“You don’t want to?” Spencer asks cautiously.

“It’s probably a good idea.”

“It might help Jack to have a neutral party to talk to. Someone who’s specializes in grief counseling would be best.”

“I know.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“With this job, I’m convinced that every therapist is a child molester or a serial killer,” Aaron says, a slight, self-mocking smile on his face.

Spencer smiles back. “Well, there must be one in the DC area who isn’t. We can have Garcia run a background check on anyone you’d be thinking about.”

Aaron snorts but then looks pensive.

“What’s the real problem, Aaron?”

Aaron looks up at him sharply. “You know, it’s annoying dating a profiler,” he says with mock seriousness.

“But you love me anyway,” Spencer whispers teasingly.

Aaron’s looks at him gravely. “Actually, yes, I do.”

Spencer swallows and takes Aaron’s hand. The team is quite loud in the front of the plane. “Tell me what’s wrong. What are you thinking?”

“I guess I’m… afraid… that a child psychologist will point out how much I’m hurting Jack, going back to work. I don’t want to hear how badly I’ve failed, as a father, as a husband—”

Spencer tightens his grip on Aaron’s hand. “Stop that. You haven’t failed. Not as a father. And your marriage with Haley was a two-way street. I’m sure there was plenty of blame to go around.”

“Maybe. But she didn’t deserve this.”

“Of course she didn’t. No one does.”

“But how could I go back to work and leave my grieving son?”

“You’re acting like you never see him, which you know isn’t true. Every night we’re in town, you’re there. As soon as we land, you’re there. Every weekend we’re home, you’re there. Besides, this is who you are. If you tried to be someone other than who you are, then you’d be inflicting far more pain upon those around you. This is you, Aaron. Catcher of bad guys. Righter of wrongs. And far, far more complex than that, with good and bad sides and everything in between.”

“Haley once told me that this isn’t who I am, this is what I do. Right before she walked out on me.”

Spencer strokes Aaron’s hand with his thumb. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry your marriage failed. I’m sorry, so sorry, about what happened. But this is more than a job. For all of us. It’s who we all are. You have to be who you are, Aaron. It’s the best thing for you, and the best thing for Jack.”

“To thine own self be true,” Aaron comments, with just a hint of bitterness.

“Something like that. But I know why you came back to the BAU. Could you really have faced your son and told him that you’d quit? That you let his mother’s killer drive you away from stopping ‘bad guys’? You needed to prove to yourself that you could still go on. And to show that to Jack, to show him that it is possible to lead your life even in the face of such tragedy.”

Aaron looks up at him, raw emotion in his misty eyes. Spencer swallows.

“Thank you,” Aaron whispers. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Spencer smiles but shakes his head. “We’re all here for you,” he says, indicating the loud team with a quick jerk of his head. “And we’re all here for Jack. He has support. Great support. A wonderful aunt, wonderful family and, most importantly, a wonderful father. You can help each other through this, and let others help you too.”

Aaron takes a shuddering breath.

“Take him to see someone he can talk to," Spencer continues. "Talk to someone yourself too, someone who’s not so close to it. But know that I’m here for you, and for Jack, at any time, Aaron. I love you, you know.”

Aaron squeezes his hand tight.

“So, yes,” Spencer adds, “I think Jack will get through this. And yes, I think he’ll be okay, or as okay as any of us are,” he says with a small smile.

Aaron nods. He takes a deep breath and withdraws his hand. “I should finish my report. I want to go home as soon as we land. If I hurry I can get there in time for Jack’s supper.”

“Good.” Spencer goes to stand.

Aaron stops him with a light touch on his arm. “Come over tonight,” he says quietly.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to interfere with your time with Jack.”

“I’m sure. I want to spend time with my family. In case you haven’t realized, Spencer, that includes you.”

Spencer can’t stop himself from grinning widely. “I’ll be there.”

“Good.”

“Now let me get back to my report, Reid.”

“Of course, Hotch.”

Spencer stands and goes to the front of the plane. The team is engaged in a card game. He takes an empty seat.

“Hey, Spence,” JJ says, “you want us to deal you in?”

“Sure,” he responds.

He meets Rossi’s gaze. Rossi gives him an approving look.

Spencer smiles.

-----------------------

Btw: Help! I'm seeking a CM beta. I have this Hotch/Reid Fic of Doom (doom in the sense that it's never ending), which is currently about 10,000 words and half-way done. I had what I thought was a simple idea. I'm obviously far more verbose than I planned. I would love to get someone's thoughts on it. It can be separated out into six parts, so no one would have to do it all at once. I'm hoping to have it finished, completely, within the next week or two, but I'm a slow writer so we'll see. If anyone would be willing to beta, please let me know. Thanks.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] akitron.livejournal.com
I'd be interested in beta-ing. I haven't really done it before, but if you don;t mind, I'm willing!

Also, I loved this. Loved itttt.

Date: 2010-02-05 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. Glad you liked it. And thanks for the beta offer. I've gotten several offers (OMG, people are so generous). I'm still working on the Fic of Doom, but I really appreciate the offer and I'll let you know if I need help when it's closer to being done. Thanks again.

Date: 2010-02-05 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maldeluxx.livejournal.com
This was a really good story. Hotch does need someone to talk to, and Spencer does a pretty good job. <3 :)

Date: 2010-02-05 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. Really glad you liked this. Yeah, I love it when Spencer goes to talk to Hotch (we need more of that on the show).

Date: 2010-02-05 11:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] safa56bmc.livejournal.com
beautiful..sad but beautiful....

Date: 2010-02-05 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. Glad you liked it.

Date: 2010-02-06 05:21 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-02-05 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drasticbarbie.livejournal.com
never beta'd before, but would totally do it for CM. anyway, great fic. it's slash, but not smut, and still satisfies that need we have for a connection. and it's grammatically correct. that's so important to me. the english language is really starting to die out, i swear.

Date: 2010-02-05 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. Glad you liked the fic. I've gotten several generous beta offers (people are amazing!) and will very likely take you up on that when the Fic of Doom is closer to completion. And yes, the English language does take hits from time to time, doesn' it?

Date: 2010-02-05 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fabrisse.livejournal.com
I beta.

And I liked this one.

Date: 2010-02-05 10:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thanks. And thanks!

I love your sense of the characters, so I will definitely take you up on your beta offer. Yay! I have a few short fics that I'm planning, but I'm mostly concerned about the Fic of Doom. It's eating my brain, I tell you...

Date: 2010-02-05 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katewallace.livejournal.com
Very nice..Spencer makes several interesting points and I was glad to see that Hotch was listening. Wouldn't mind seeing what happens as they go along and how Jack responds to talking to the shrink. And it occurs to me that Hotch is probably seeing more of Jack now than he did after the divorce. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Date: 2010-02-05 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. There are no current plans to continue this storyline, but you never know. Maybe a plot bunny will take over my brain like this one did and force me to write it. So glad you liked this!

Date: 2010-02-05 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashbear02.livejournal.com
this is adorable! I love stories where Reid actually has a backbone and confronts Hotch about needing to talk about things (instead of you know, not talking about anything ever), he doesn't have to want to do that confrontation but him doing it anyway always shows just the depth of emotion there when Spencer forces himself out of his comfort zone for Hotch. But alas mostly, I just adore Jack so I really hope you continue this.

I would offer my services as a beta, but several others have and I'm sure they'd all love to beta for you. =D

Date: 2010-02-05 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. Yeah, I think Reid is far more confident (especially these days) than he's portrayed at times in some fics. I agree that he doesn't like confrontations, but he's not going to back away from them -- especially for something he thinks is important. There aren't any current plans to continue this storyline, but until yesterday this storyline didn't exist in my head -- so you never know. So glad you liked.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bowie28.livejournal.com
A lovely, lovely tag for a quite uneventful episode. Loved that Reid went to Hotch and talked to him and cared for him. I wish the writers would give us that sometimes, you know, like the scene in 'Damaged' where Hotch confided in Reid about his divorce. These two are connected in such a twisted but beautiful way that the show needs to acknowledge it.

Thanks for writing this. And yay for yet another H/R story in the making. Looking forward to that. <333
Edited Date: 2010-02-05 09:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-02-05 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. I love when Hotch and Reid talk to each other. And if the show won't show it to us (damn you writers!), well, then that's what fanfiction is for. Glad you liked this.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colordrone.livejournal.com
tense problemo in yo last four lines!

1) lovely, lovely fic. my sister and i watch criminal minds with our godmother every wednesday totally functional family system i swear and i was ranting about how hotch was going to get all emo about it. and then he didn't. this fulfills my whump!kink. :D:D:D

2) i've been editing for like...three years. i edit school papers for peers and stuff. even if you can't tell by my grammar in comment boxes. WILL BETA FOR THE ILLUSION OF CAMARADERIE PROVIDED BY LIVEJOURNAL

Date: 2010-02-05 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you! Fixed that tense problem (I have NO IDEA why I wrote this in the present tense -- I had to keep going back and changing the tenses. What was I thinking???)

And thanks for the beta offer. I will very likely take you up on that. I'm fairly decent with grammar and stuff (that's a technical term, btw), but everyone misses things from time to time (case problems, for example). I'd really love to get feedback on the Fic of Doom since it has taken over my brain. Oh, and I too love the illusion of LJ camaraderie!

And thank you for your kind words. Yes, I really thought that Hotch should get emo over that shooting, but I guess the writers only want to show us a limited amount of emo!Hotch. But that doesn't mean it did not happen!!!! Emo!Hotch FTW! *clears throat* Um... yeah...

Date: 2010-02-06 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mombailey.livejournal.com
Wow. The characterization of this story is fascinating. It so easily could fit into the show, and I'm absolutely enamored by the affection they show toward each other. Beautiful job, love. Truly. Momma.

Date: 2010-02-06 05:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm thrilled that you liked the characterization, since (being pretty new to this fandom) I'm still figuring out the character's voices. So glad that you liked it.

Date: 2010-02-06 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olizashihar.livejournal.com
If you're still looking for a Beta, I'm an editor by trade, and I'd love to help if at all possible. Long fics are kind of my specialty, I edit books for fun.

Date: 2010-02-07 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Wow. Thank you. I'm thrilled and will definitely take you up on your offer. Of course, since you're an editor, I better make sure that the story is good so that you're not sitting there going, "What is she thinking?" ;-)

I'm about half-way done with the fic and probably won't get much of a chance to work on it until sometime next week (damn you, RL work, damn you!) But I'm actually have some time off soon, so I'm hoping I can finish it then.

Thanks again!

Date: 2010-02-07 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] benitle.livejournal.com
Oh man, I ADORED this! I love it when Reid's the voice of reason and when he's the one that Hotch can lean on. I loved how intimate their conversation was despite the surroundings. Just the right mix of schmoop and angst.

Thank you for sharing!

Date: 2010-02-07 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you! I've got a bit of a kink for schmoopy angst, so I'm so glad you liked this. I think that Reid can provide Hotch with support, especially now.

Date: 2010-02-07 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] travelinthedark.livejournal.com
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Hotch looks at him, angry, incredulous, annoyed, dismayed. Suddenly there is a small, almost miniscule, lightening of his face. “You did not just quote The Princess Bride to me.”

haha, so awesome! and good luck with the fic-of-doom. i know you've got a million betas now, but if you ever need a hand ;)

Date: 2010-02-08 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm so glad you commented on liking that bit. Because I wasn't sure if using a Mandy Patinkin line was they way to go, but I just couldn't help myself. Glad you liked it. And thanks for the beta offer; I really appreciate it (and I'm so thrilled that I now have a million betas -- this fandom is great!)
Edited Date: 2010-02-08 12:06 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-02-16 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_nextboldmove_/
That was very genuine on both Spencer and Aaron’s parts. They both only want what is best for each other and for Jack. Thanks for sharing!

Date: 2010-02-16 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daylyn.livejournal.com
Thank you. I'm so enthralled by the dynamic of this pairing; it seems that they've both gone through hell and could really help each other. Glad you liked this.

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