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Title: Baggage
Author: Daylyn
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: PG-13 (FRT)
Pairing: Hotch/Reid
Word Count: ~ 2,150
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their copyright holders. No profit is intended.

Summary: As their relationship deepens, Spencer and Aaron begin to come to terms with issues from their pasts.

Author’s Note: A continuation of my Five Dinners and Team Dinner universe, although this fic can stand alone. General SPOILERS through Season 5.

This is an odd piece of melancholia that grabbed hold of me and said, “Write me. Now!” So I did.


Baggage
By Daylyn

Spencer pulled into the driveway of the house that he was now sharing with Aaron (and Jack, Spencer added in his thoughts). He took a deep breath, his hands clutching the steering wheel. It was late. Well, not ‘late’ as in the time they usually got to bed while working on a case, not even ‘late’ as in the time that Spencer usually stopped reading and doing research, but ‘late’ as in the sense it was 11:00pm and he hadn’t come home this late to Aaron (and Jack) since he had moved in with them about a month ago.

Spencer was returning from an NA meeting and a long talk with his sponsor. It was funny; Spencer knew that he was happy – thrilled even – with his relationship with Aaron. But at the moment it all seemed completely overwhelming. Maybe it was because they were now living together (and were thus more ‘committed’). Maybe it was because he was now sharing a home with a five-year-old boy (and they were all still trying to define their roles in those interactions; Spencer had vowed he would never have children and now he was thrust into a parental type position). Maybe it was because they had responsibilities for and toward each other now. Spencer didn’t know. All he knew was that he had been craving dilaudid – seriously craving dilaudid – like he hadn’t in years. Hence the NA meeting and the long talk with his sponsor.

“You’re happy right now, aren’t you?” John had asked him as they shared a cup of coffee, tucked in the dark corner of a café, Spencer gripping his coffee cup. Spencer had nodded.

“And you’re terrified, aren’t you?” John continued.

Spencer looked at him in surprise.

“Sometimes, allowing yourself to be happy is one of the most frightening things in the world. We’re excellent at self-sabotage, Spencer, or else we wouldn’t be in this situation. We’re also excellent at avoidance – hence, the need for drugs. It can be more frightening when things are going right than when things are going wrong. When things are wrong, we have to take action and can concentrate on what needs to be done. But when things are right, we have the luxury of being able to examine what’s happening. That allows us to come face-to-face with who we are and what we want. And that, my friend, can be terrifying, because we have to examine ourselves.”

Spencer nodded and thought for a moment, staring at the table and his coffee cup like they could give him divine wisdom. “What if I fuck up?” Spencer had finally asked, so quietly.

John had grabbed his hand. “It’s okay to fuck up, sometimes, Spencer. No one will think any less of you if you do. But I also don’t think that you will. We all have faith and trust in you. It’s time for you to have faith and trust in yourself.”

Spencer had given him an awkward smile and their discussion moved on to other topics.

Spencer got out of the car, the conversation with his sponsor still running through his mind. He looked at the house. He was home. And he was happy. He wasn’t going to let the fact that he didn’t actually know how to be happy ruin his happiness (or drive him to drugs).

Spencer took a shuddering breath and walked through the front door. There was a soft blue glow coming from the living room and the low murmur of something that sounded like singing. Spencer walked into the room and his breath caught at the sight of Aaron stretched out of the sofa, sound asleep, with a sleeping Jack lying atop of his chest. They were both illuminated by the television, which was showing some sort of animated film with what appeared to be singing fish. Spencer smiled softly.

He stepped close and gently stroked Aaron’s hair; Aaron merely mumbled something but remained asleep, his arm dangling off the couch, his hand near the remote that lay on the floor. Spencer gently touched Jack’s head; Jack’s eyes opened and he clutched the toy dinosaur that Spencer had given him when they went to see the show ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ several months earlier. Jack’s sleepy eyes met his gaze and Jack smiled.

“Hi,” he breathed, still obviously half asleep.

“Hi Jack,” Spencer whispered.

“I was keeping Daddy company,” Jack said. “He was sad tonight.”

“He was?”

Jack merely nodded and looked like he was beginning to drift off again.

“Do you want to go to bed?” Spencer asked. “I can take you to bed and then get Daddy to bed too.”

Jack nodded and held out his arm. Spencer scooped him up and Jack twined his arms around Spencer’s neck, holding close. Spencer realized Aaron must have been exhausted because he didn’t even stir when Jack was removed.

Spencer carried Jack to his room and placed him in bed. Jack clutched his stuffed dinosaur and blinked up at Spencer. “Read me a story,” he said sleepily, but with a tone of command.

Spencer smiled slightly. “I’ll don’t think you’ll stay awake long enough to hear a story.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Jack said. “I just like it when you read to me.”

Spencer looked down at this child – Aaron’s son – and fought down his panic at assuming a parental role. He grabbed the nearest book. “Paddington?” he asked, seeking Jack’s approval.

Jack nodded and shifted over so that Spencer could join him in the bed. Jack snuggled next to him and looked at him with trusting eyes. Spencer swallowed around the lump in his throat and began to read.

Less than five minutes later Jack was sound asleep. He heard a noise from the direction of the doorway and looked up to find Aaron standing there, small smile on his face; his eyes appeared to be glistening. Spencer brought his finger to his lips and signaled for silence. Aaron nodded.

Spencer slipped out of Jack’s bed and tucked the blanket around him. He made his way to Aaron, who cupped his face and kissed him softly.

“Thank you,” Aaron whispered as they stepped into the hallway, “for taking care of my son.”

Spencer felt the earlier panic return. “It terrifies me sometimes,” he blurted out before he could stop himself.

“What does?” Aaron asked gently.

“Me. You. Jack. Us. What if I’m not the person you think I am? What if I can’t handle it? What if, god, I’m like my father? What if—”

Aaron kissed him again, a little more forcefully. He pulled back and looked into Spencer’s eyes. “I’m terrified too. I keep expecting you to come to your senses and walk out on me.” Aaron looked away. “After all, that’s what Haley did,” he finished in a broken voice.

This time it was Spencer who kissed Aaron firmly. “I would never,” he said emphatically and kissed Aaron again.

When they broke apart, Aaron pulled him in for a hug. “I know. It’s just… we all have our baggage, don’t we? And this is terrifying, this thing between us, mostly because it’s the best thing to happen to my life in years and I keep expecting it to be ripped apart at any moment.”

Spencer didn’t know what to say. He stroked Aaron’s cheek; Aaron turned his head and kissed his palm. He was amazed that Aaron had the same types of fears that he did.

“I want you exactly as you are, Spencer,” Aaron said, nuzzling his hand. “Don’t ever worry about that.”

Spencer hugged him, hard. “Thank you,” he croaked.

Aaron drew back and ran his fingers through Spencer’s hair. Spencer moaned slightly. “Why are you worried about being like your father?” Aaron asked, still stroking.

Spencer swallowed. “What if Jack… comes to rely on me? And then things don’t… you know… work out… between us? And I abandon him? I… I can’t… I don’t want to do that to him.”

Aaron looked at him incredulously. “You’re worried about us breaking up and what that would do to my son?”

Spencer nodded and looked at the floor.

“God, I love you,” Aaron exclaimed. Spencer looked up in surprise. “The fact,” Aaron explained, “that you even care enough about Jack to be worried about him, at this point, speaks volumes about your character, Spence. You’re a good man, and I am honored that you are part of my life.” Aaron kissed him fiercely, and then held him tight. “And if we break up years and years and decades and decades from now, I’ll make sure that you and Jack are still part of each other’s life for as long as you both want.”

Spencer hugged Aaron tighter.

“You are nothing like your father,” Aaron assured him.

They stood there in the hallway, holding on to each other, for several minutes. Finally they broke apart and Spencer took Aaron’s hand. “Let’s go to bed.”

Aaron nodded and gave a subdued smile. Spencer suddenly remembered something. “Jack said you were sad tonight,” Spencer said. “Is everything okay?”

Aaron swallowed and led the way to their bedroom. He sat down on the bed with a heavy sigh.

“Aaron?” Spencer asked.

“It’s really nothing,” Aaron said.

“Look, Aaron, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. But I’m here and ready to listen if you do.” Spencer stroked his hand.

Aaron nodded. “It’s just… it’s about Haley.”

“You can talk to me about Haley,” Spencer said gently.

“You don’t mind?”

“Aaron, she was a significant part of your life. I know that you loved – love – her; the fact that you still have feelings toward her does not diminish your feelings toward me. She’ll always be a part of you, if only for the fact that you’ll see her, sometimes, when you look at Jack. She was with you for more than half your life. But you don’t have to carry your grief alone. I’m here, if you want to talk. Or just to sit beside you.”

Aaron kissed Spencer’s hand. “You really are amazing.”

Spencer snorted. As far as he was concerned, he was the least amazing person he knew.

Aaron leaned into him. “Today was the anniversary of my first date with Haley. It was at the school’s Spring Dance, held early in May. I don’t even know why I remember the date, but I do. Haley and I had our first dance, our first kiss. I don’t normally… I’m sorry—”

“Shh,” Spencer soothed him and held him close.

“I miss her,” Aaron admitted. “Our relationship was over between us. I know that. I had already started to ‘move on’, with you, in fact, as you know. But I miss her.”

Spencer kissed his brow. “I know. I could explain how what you’re experiencing is normal and part of the seven stages of grief and you’ve reached acceptance, but none of that helps. I’m sorry, so sorry, that you have to go through this Aaron.”

Aaron allowed himself to be held which, Spencer knew, was a huge concession for someone as fiercely proud as Aaron was. “I’m glad you’re here,” Aaron finally whispered. “It helps.”

Spencer kissed his brow again and held him tight.

Aaron eventually pulled away. “How was your meeting?” he asked in an obvious effort to change the topic.

Spencer stiffened. Aaron felt it. “I’m sorry,” Aaron said. “I don’t mean to pry. Of course you don’t have to answer that.”

Spencer sighed. “It’s not that I don’t want you to know. It’s just that I’m afraid you’ll be… disappointed in me.”

“Why would you ever think that?”

Spencer examined a spot on the bedspread. “I’ve been craving again,” he admitted quietly. “I don’t know why. My sponsor thinks it because I’m happy.”

Aaron cocked his head and looked at him. “Would you like me to make you unhappy?”

Spencer looked up at him and saw a slightly amused look. “No, that’s okay. Very kind of you, though.”

They smiled at each other for a moment, but then the smiles faded. “Is there anything I can do to help?” Aaron asked.

Spencer shook his head.

“You’re not alone, Spence,” Aaron stated. “I’m sorry I left you alone before to struggle with this, but I’m here now. And I’m very proud of you.”

Spencer bit his lip and looked in Aaron’s eyes. “Really?” he asked in a small voice.

“Yes. You got through your own personal hell. And you continue to get through it. That takes courage and determination, Spencer.”

Spencer gave a half smile. “I’ll be fine.”

“I have no doubts.”

Spencer nodded and said, “It’s late. Let’s go to bed.”

A few moments later, they were lying in bed, entwined in each other. “We really do all have our baggage, don’t we?” Spencer asked, echoing Aaron’s statement from earlier in the night.

“Yes,” Aaron agreed. “But it makes our journey more interesting.” And with that he kissed him, and there were no more discussions for the rest of the night.
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August 2010

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