The first time Hotch came to visit Reid in the hospital, he’d been asleep, and the nurses recommended not waking him. He was on the mend, Dr. Nichols’ cure working like a charm, but he was also using up a lot of energy, and still had trouble breathing, so as long as he was out, they said, it was best to let him rest. They reassured Hotch that he’d be released in a few days, but would probably not be able to return to work for at least another week. “Now that the antibiotics are working, it’s a lot like pneumonia. He’ll be ok.” Dr. Kimura promised. Reassured, Hotch let Morgan and JJ take over visitation duties. As much as he wanted to make sure Reid was ok, he knew better than to raise any suspicions. For six months they’d worked side by side every day, both of them aware, in the backs of their minds, of things that had been said in Reid’s apartment that night, but neither had acted on it. Hotch couldn’t detect any change in Reid’s behavior towards him, and he was sure if anybody’d noticed anything from his own direction, he’d have been called up on it already.
He did sneak in the next morning, taking advantage of the fact that as unit chief he had the excuse of meetings away from Quantico and no questions would be asked if they didn’t have a case pending. Reid was awake, leafing absently though a crossword-puzzle book. He looked up when Hotch knocked on the wall besides the open door. “Hey.” He smiled, “Come in.”
“Hey.” He still looked ill- like he had a very bad cold, but not as terrifyingly close to death as he’d looked the day he’d been infected. “How’re you feeling?”
“Better than I did.” Not fully healthy, though, as evidenced by the coughing fit that followed, and the heavy gasping for breath. “Clearly- not perfect. But better.”
“Water?” There was a bottle and an empty plastic cup on the besides table, and Hotch filled the cup without waiting for an affirmative answer.
“Thanks. They did say I can go home tomorrow, if my temperature goes down enough.” It was a cheerful thought. Now that Reid was fully out of danger, he was starting to get bored, and he didn’t like hospitals in general. “How’re things at work?”
“Quiet. We’re still tying up all the loose ends and reports from that case, and we’re off-rotation ‘til next week.” Hotch grabbed a chair and pulled it closer to the bed. “Are you sure you’re good to go home? Anthrax takes a while to recover from.”
“It does.” Three to six months, according to what Reid had read, and some of the 2001 survivors never regained full lung-function, and continued to experience fatigue and forgetfulness even years later. It worried him, but he didn’t feel up to talking about it yet. He just hoped Hotch hadn’t read about those same risks. “But the cure was targeted for this particular strand, so it’s extra-effective, I’m told. Besides, I can recover at home just as easily as I can here. Better, probably.” Granted, going up the stairs to his apartment didn’t sound all that great, since right now the eight feet to the bathroom left him exhausted and breathless, but he missed his own bed. “I’m bored.”
“I figured. This is helping keep boredom at bay?” Hotch picked up the puzzle book and flipped through it.
“Not really, I’m done with it.” Reid shrugged.
“It’s...empty.” There wasn’t a single complete puzzle, the book looked brand new.
“Writing the answers just slows me down. Puzzles aren’t really a challenge.” Reid sounded almost apologetic. “Prentiss brought it, I didn’t tell her it’d keep me distracted for maybe fifteen minutes at best.”
“Nice of you. I brought you something that might take you longer, but if any of the others find out I’ll be in trouble.” Hotch smiled slightly. “I really shouldn’t have brought it, and you can refuse it if you like-”
“What is it?” Reid looked interested, and livelier than before. “A laptop? They wouldn’t let me have a laptop.”
“No, sorry. I knew they wouldn’t allow that.” Hotch looked over his shoulder, made sure the coast was clear of nurses, and pulled three files out of his briefcase. “I couldn’t bring your maps, and you wouldn’t be able to use them, and technically you shouldn’t be working, but...”
“You brought my consults?” Reaching for them eagerly, bright-eyed, Reid opened the files quickly. “God, Hotch, if the nurses weren’t watching I’d kiss you.” He caught himself and blushed furiously. “Uh...I plead the ‘flu. It’s almost as good as the Fifth. Not responsible for anything I say.” Other than the very oblique reference from months earlier, he didn’t even know that Hotch swung that way, and besides, there was still the small matter of no fraternization to consider.
“If you’re not up to doing consults...” Hotch reached for the files and Reid clutched them to his chest.
“No, no, I’m up for it. Absolutely. Please?” He was so bored, and feeling useful would distract him from the fact that he was dealing with residual pain using nothing stronger than aspirin and positive thinking.
“Then stand by what you’re saying, people’s lives could depend on it.” He wasn’t sure what Hotch meant, because he could have been talking about kissing or about cases, and Reid hated being expected to understand double-entendres because he was almost always wrong. He wondered whether his illness gave him the necessary leeway to explain that out loud and ask Hotch to clarify, but decided this was neither the time nor the place for that conversation. Instead, since the answer was relevant to both options, he just shrugged.
“Fine, I’ll stand by what I say- and write- from now on 100% until further notice, alright?”
“That’s acceptable. Oh, I have this as well-” It was an old issue of the Times, which Reid had already read. “I know you’ve read it, but hide the case files behind it or the nurses will confiscate them and give us both hell.”
“Sneaky.” Reid grinned, “I like it.” He took the magazine. “More details about things at work?”
Hotch started to catch him up on the previous two days, and within five minutes Reid was asleep again, the files cradled close to him. Hotch removed them gently, tucked them into the magazine and put it on the night table. “He dozed off on me.” He informed the nurse, a mock-hurt note in his voice. “Guess I was boring.”
“He’s going to need a lot of extra sleep over the next few weeks. Even breathing is an effort- and a small miracle that he’s still breathing, period.”
Hotch nodded. “We know. Take good care of him for us.” He knew the others would be by later, and would help Reid out of the hospital and back home when he was released, and that was ok.
Coming this close to losing Reid made him realize a few things, and he needed time to think about them privately before deciding whether to act on anything. He was fairly certain he wouldn’t, because he was Reid’s boss, and because he honestly hadn’t found himself attracted to a man in two decades and wasn’t even sure whether it was real attraction or just misplaced protective instincts. He was pretty certain they could both work together without ever acting on anything- or even acknowledging the tentative overtures of months earlier. They were human, it happened, they would deal. Easy enough. He put it out of mind when he left the hospital.
Reid stayed feverish the next day, and had to stay in the hospital a further 48 hours, which he chafed at while he was awake- which fortunately wasn’t the greater part of that time. He was getting the most sleep he’d had in years, actually, but still rarely waking up feeling refreshed. The case files helped, even though his eyes got tired easily and his brain felt sluggish, muddled, enough so that he read everything five times, reflected on it, and then quadruple-checked everything before putting his notes aside. Hotch didn’t come to visit him again and he didn’t want to send the files back with any of the others because that would’ve gotten them both in trouble, so he kept them with him until he was released from the hospital. Morgan drove him home and helped him get settled in, and promised to come by later with food. Reid, completely exhausted by the climb up to his apartment, held on only as long as Morgan was there, then collapsed into bed, grateful to have familiar surroundings around him again, and slept through until evening.
There was a text message from Morgan when he woke up, and another from JJ, checking on him. He texted them both that he was ok, just tired, and not to visit yet please. He really hoped they’d listen for a change, as he wasn’t up for company yet. A shower helped him feel more human, and the steam eased his breathing a little. He did his food shopping online, knowing his order would be delivered in the morning, since leaving the apartment just didn’t seem reasonable at the moment. Besides, why not take advantage of the extra options modern life offered? Online grocery shopping had saved all of his team from coming home to an empty fridge more than once. He settled in front of the TV with a cup of herbal tea (no caffeine allowed with the meds he was on, sadly), his meds and a movie, and napped on and off until morning. He called Morgan in the morning to reassure him that everything was alright and yes he had food and no, he really didn’t want visitors and it was ok and not personal and he just needed rest. The fact that he’d had to stop and cough himself hoarse three times during that fairly short conversation must’ve convinced Morgan that he wasn’t up for playing host just yet. Thanking the god he didn’t believe in for small mercies, Reid took care of small, light chores around the house, contemplated making lunch and settled for a grilled cheese sandwich, and ended up in front of the TV again. Talk shows were fascinating for him, unexpected studies in human behavior and dynamics, far more so than scripted shows or scientific shows, which rarely told him anything new.
Still, by mid-afternoon and following another round of meds and another long nap, Reid was bored. He still didn’t feel up to braving the stairs, or being entertaining. On a whim, he texted Hotch. *If you want those files back before I return to work, you’ll have to come by and pick them up, sorry.*
Ten minutes later, there was a return text. *Done with them already?*
*I was done yesterday, if you’d come I’d have given them to you.* He hoped the response didn’t sound too guilt-trippy, and immediately sent a second text. *No subtext, by the way. Just stating the facts.*
This time the answer only took three minutes. *I thought I’d let the others satisfy themselves that you were ok. Can I come by tonight?* For a simple text, it filled Reid with a pleasantly warm feeling.
*Any time you like, my social calendar’s wide open this week. And you can bring my other consults if you like.*
Almost fifteen minutes later, and Reid was watching his mobile like a teenaged girl after her first date, the reply came. *You should rest, not work. Why don’t I bring dinner instead? Say 19:30?* He grinned, feeling even warmer.
*Bring both. 19:30 is great.* He didn’t want to sound too enthusiastic, but somehow he was sure Hotch’s company wouldn’t be as smothering as any of the others’. They could be quiet together, eat, maybe watch a movie. Staying in meant it was absolutely not a date, and he wasn’t even thinking about that, not at all. He was sick, people didn’t go on dates when they were sick. Reid spent the rest of the afternoon slowly straightening out his living room and bedroom, tidying away strewn socks and washing dishes. It took him longer than expected because he had to stop every few minutes to rest, but it felt good to be doing something. Maybe tomorrow he’d be steady enough to go outside, if it didn’t rain. By 19:25 he was on the sofa, frankly wishing for another nap but looking as presentable as he could under the circumstances.
Hotch was 25 minutes late. This wasn’t exactly a problem, except that by the time he knocked on Reid’s door, Reid had nodded off on the sofa, and the buzz of his doorbell that followed the knock jerked him awake and almost off the sofa. He scrambled up, tripped, coughed and continued coughing all the way to the door. He was struggling to breathe when he opened, leaning against the wall. “Hi.” He gasped, “Come in. Don’t- mind me.” His arms full of a take-out bag, Hotch came in and closed the door, then put the food on the floor and helped Reid to the sofa again.
“You’re not really up for company yet, are you?” The senior agent asked, worried. “I’ll just leave the food and go?”
“No, no, I’m ok. Really I am.” Now that he could get a full breath in, he was ok. “I got up too fast, that’s all. I still have to think about breathing, and when I don’t this can happen. It’s ok.” In fact, it had hurt like hell, like cold knives in his lungs, but the pain was already subsiding into the normal dull ache he’d gotten used to. “How are you? Sorry about the scare.”
“You have no need to apologize. I’m ok, and I brought Indian food. I figured spicy food’s good after something that they keep telling me is like a very bad cold.” Now that Reid was settled, Hotch retrieved the bag and put it on the kitchen table. Slowly, Reid moved to join him in the kitchen. “Go back and sit, I remember where you keep plates.”
“We can eat in here or in the living room, there’s more space there.” And it was more comfortable. Reid pulled out glasses and opened the fridge. “Um...grape juice, seltzer or beer? Or water.”
“Juice works, I’m not going to deplete Morgan’s stash any more than I already have.” The living room would be better, so Hotch took two plates with him and set the food out on the low table there. “So really, how’re you feeling?”
“Better. Tired. Antibiotics are rough on the rest of the system, you know?” More than anything else they were making him tired, and as he had to keep taking them for several weeks or risk a relapse, he was looking at weeks of feeling drained all the time. Good thing he was used to it by now. “I expect I’ll be falling asleep on the jet a lot more, when I get back to work.”
“Which won’t be before you’re medically cleared, Reid.” Hotch pointed out, and Reid winced. “Clear?”
“Clear, sir.” He’d been too close to death to risk it again. “Trust me, I don’t want a repeat performance of the past week.” It had been scary, terrifying even, the struggle to breathe, to make himself understood, to think clearly. He didn’t want to think about that. Seeing his expression, Hotch realized a change of topic was called for, and provided one.
“We’re going back on rotation tomorrow. We’ll miss you.”
“Hey, call me if anything comes up. I can help on the phone, I think...” He would miss stories and cases and he hated missing things. “I hope nothing too big comes up.”
“Maybe we’ll get lucky and have a few quiet weeks.” Hotch wasn’t optimistic, but they’d had weeks before of small cases or no cases at all. “We’re not near any of the high seasons of crime.”
“True enough.” Christmas was months past, and it wasn’t summer yet. This was the so-called ‘slow’ season, where only the usual monsters and social predators operated. “Well, I wish you a very slow few weeks, with all my heart. May you have nothing more interesting that paperwork.” He smiled slightly and Hotch gave him a Look.
“Thanks, really. That’s the nicest thing anybody’s said to be all day.” It was, actually, and it was far from nice, in itself. Reid chuckled.
“Let’s eat while it’s still hot?” He started opening boxes and found Hotch had gotten both their favorites, plus plain rice. “Looks great, thank you for doing this.”
“I know chicken soup is traditional...” Hotch ducked his head, “But neither one of us actually comes from the right tradition for that. And Indian’s tastier anyway.”
“I much prefer chicken curry to chicken soup.” Reid assured him. “Soup is too much like hospital food.” Eating real food made him feel less like an invalid, breathlessness aside. They sat side by side on the sofa, and if Reid hadn’t known better, he’d have thought his shortness of breath was from being too close to his boss, outside the office, while he was still a little muddled from meds and fever. But he did know better. “So how’s everybody? I haven’t let anybody visit yet.”
“I’m flattered, and they’re ok. Worried about you, but that’s pretty par for the course when anybody’s hurt.” It was true they worried a little more when Reid was hurt, but he did tend to get a hurt a lot more spectacularly- and severely- than most of the others. “Busy with consults. By the way, let me look at yours when we’re done eating?”
“Sure. I had to revise my observations on the first one, apparently there are limits even to my skills while rocking a temperature of 101.” He felt lighter than he usually did in company. Calmer. “The other two were fairly simple and not very urgent, I hope whoever sent them hasn’t been on your case to get them back.” He was hungrier than he’d expected, too- maybe it had only been the hospital food which made his appetite disappear.
“Not so far, no. You know how local departments get, if the case isn’t hot, or doesn’t involve important people and media attention, something more important always comes up.” This was oddly comfortable, Hotch thought, and Reid was sort of tussled, with his hair going every which way, and it was strange how he could still find him attractive when he was looking far from his best. Strange, also, that he’d been trying to stop feeling the attraction and failing, so far. He was usually good at repressing, but this just wouldn’t stay repressed.
“Yeah.” Reid agreed, and they ate in a companionable silence for a few minutes. “Sorry I’m not very good company tonight.” The silence was pleasant, but he sort of felt like he should be doing more, not wasting Hotch’s time like this.
“You’re not. And even if you were, you have a very good excuse. But you’re not bad company. Just let me know if you’re too tired and want me to go.”
“No- no, I’m ok. Really. I’ve slept so much in the past few days it feels practically wasteful to keep sleeping, but I can’t help it.” Just moving took a lot out of him right now. “I think I’m good for a few hours, anyway.” He was even hungry for real food, which was nice. He put down his plate and set out his meds, which needed to be taken after a meal anyway. “Good as new in no time.” He said, trying for brightness and almost succeeding. “The wonders of modern medicine, right?”
“Absolutely.” Hotch agreed, and then added more seriously, “You could’ve died, Reid.” Reid grimaced.
“Did you have to mention that? I’ve just spent three days doing my best not to think about it.” He sighed and took his antibiotics like a good boy. “It’s not the first time I’ve come close, this job’s not exactly safe.”
“I guess, but you’re still a little more of a danger-magnet than some of the others.” Hotch smiled slightly, and Reid snorted inelegantly.
“I‘ve never driven an ambulance that was about to explode into a park, at least.” Which was a good thing, because he wasn’t sure he’d have managed to jump out in time. He looked at the last pill and pushed it aside. Hotch raised a questioning eyebrow and he half-shrugged. “Painkiller. I’ll take it after you leave.” It was just Iburophen, so it wouldn’t make him sleepy (sleepier), but he wanted to space out the doses as much as he could.
“You’re on NSAIDs?” Hotch asked. “Dr. Kimura said you refused opiates.”
“Made sense at the time, you know?” He smiled, not too happily. “It was funny. By the time I was sure enough that I was going to die that narcotics didn’t matter anymore, I couldn’t even ask for them.” His voice shook slightly and he cleared his throat, and started coughing unexpectedly, folding forward with the force of it. When he finally recovered, Hotch’s hand was on his back, rubbing it in soothing motions. It almost made the stabbing pain in his chest disappear. “I’m ok. I’m ok.”
“No, but you will be.” Hotch kept stroking. “Can you sit up?”
“Yeah.” With a grunt of pain he straightened, breathing shallowly until it no longer felt like he was trying to inhale glass. “I think I’ll take that pill now, after all.”
“Maybe you should.” A glass of juice and the pill appeared by his hand. “Are they helping at all? The painkillers, I mean.” NSAIDs weren't as powerful as opiates, after all.
“Sure, they’re pretty effective.” He screwed up his face as he swallowed both pill and juice. “Granted, I’d probably be happier with what Morgan called ‘the good stuff’, but it’s not worth the risk. I'm in enough trouble already." The fact that he had to stop for breath four times during that one sentence was proof enough to that. He leaned back, and found that Hotch's arm was trapped between the sofa and his back. He started to rise, to let him move it, but found it curling around him instead. It was more comforting than he would've expected. "Uh-"
"For my sake as much as yours, Spencer." Hotch's tone didn't encourage a further exploration of that. He did disengage when Reid leaned forward a little, neither one of them comfortable with extended physical contact. "You had me really worried for a while there."
"I was pretty worried myself." Reid admitted softly. "It was almost as bad as- as Hankel." He had to force himself to say the name. "But different." He'd felt almost as helpless as he had under the influence of the dilaudid, but without the advantage of knowing it would wear off and he'd have his mind again. "Not being able to talk was-" like losing a limb, or a sense, like losing himself. "Next time I'd better be on the good drugs before that happens."
Hotch squeezed his arm briefly, his hand, warm and secure. "There won't be a 'next time', Spencer." That reminded him of one of his many reasons for visiting. "Actually, there was something I wanted to discuss with you, I'm not even sure you remember it-"
"There's not much I don't remember." Reid reminded him, but he clearly hadn't made the connection yet to what Hotch meant.
"Fair enough. When you called me from the lab, immediately after you were infected- you said you'd really screwed up and you were sorry. What exactly happened?"
"Oh." A hot flush spread on Reid's paler than normal cheeks. "I bumped into the table- I wasn't paying attention and walked right into it. It knocked the test tube containing the Anthrax off the table and to the floor, and it broke. That's how I got it, actually. My own stupid clumsiness."
"That wasn't a screw up, Reid. It was an accident. It could've happened to anybody."
“Yeah, but it happened to me. Guess I’m just a trouble magnet.” It was hard to accept that calmly when it still hurt to breathe. He shook his head. “Never mind. I’ll be more careful in the future, when faced with labs full of dangerous diseases.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Spencer.” Hotch said firmly. “Do you understand? I don’t want you beating yourself up over this, you’ve more than paid for being a bit uncoordinated. You deserve to feel a little sorry for yourself, but not guilty over this. Got that?”
“I got it.” Reid replied tiredly. He was tempted to turn a little sideways so he could lean against Hotch, but even sick he thought he probably shouldn’t. Actually, especially since he was sick. Sick wasn’t at all attractive. “I’m not going to bother feeling guilty, I almost died. I think the universe probably owes me a ‘get out of consequences free’ card next time I screw up.”
“I’m not sure it works that way.” Hotch smiled at him, just briefly. “But you’ll be ok. You’ll be back at work and up to your ears in serial killers again soon.”
“You know, I’m not sure what’s worse-” Reid couldn’t help chuckling, “that you mean that to be comforting, or that I actually find it comforting.” He sighed. “We’re all as crazy as the people we chase, Hotch.”
“Maybe we are, but we do good work.” They were all fucked up in their own way, that was for sure. They were silent together for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, until Hotch spoke again. “This is the closest I’ve had to a date in over a decade.”
“Now that is truly screwed up.” Reid didn’t want to speculate on how Hotch’s life with Haley had been, if sitting in a slightly dusty living room with a very colleague felt like a date. “But you were married- to a woman.” He couldn’t help adding. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“There wasn’t.” He’d loved Haley, but they’d drifted apart, even after Jack was born. Maybe especially after. “But when you’re married to someone, you don’t really ‘date’. We went to the movies sometimes.” And they ate out, rarely, when they both had time. Usually their dates were a lot like this one, just being comfortably quiet at home. The too-easy continuation of that thought, and its implications, didn’t escape Hotch.
“Well...Does it even count as a date if it’s with someone you already know?” He was pushing the lines of what was appropriate between colleagues, wasn’t he? But in here, like this, they were more friends that colleagues, so maybe it was allowed. “I mean...” He decided to stop skirting the issue. There were no witnesses, and they could both pretend it never happened, if he’d completely misread the situation. “I wouldn’t mind it. If this was a date.”
There was a silence after that, that stretched and stretched. Reid wouldn’t look at Hotch, and held his breath long enough that when he finally breathed it triggered another coughing fit that left him shaky and sore-throated. Hotch patted his back and reached for the water, and waited until he was breathing steadily before replying. “I wouldn’t mind either. But you’re sick.” He paused. “Ask me again when you’re cleared for field duty.”
“That could take months!” It felt like a rejection, even though it wasn’t really. “You could just say no, if you’re not interested- I understand, I mean, I’m on your team, and you’ve never shown that you’re anything but straight, and-” And he’d said he wouldn’t mind a date, damn him.
“Desk duty, then. It should be about two weeks.” Hotch offered. “If in two weeks you still want to, we’ll try a real date.” There were enough other agents breaking the fraternization rule with people either truly ignorant of the fact, or turning a blind eye. It wasn't entirely unthinkable- just unusual, difficult and risky- but maybe it could happen.
“I’ve wanted for- a while now.” If they were going for lethal honesty, he might as well go the whole nine yards, right? “I doubt two weeks will make much of a difference.”
“Good.” Two weeks would allow Hotch time to wrap his mind around the idea- he was used to wanting and not being able to act on that want, and it would take some time to get comfortable with being suddenly free to try- dating, of all absurd things. To even consider crossing that line with a subordinate. “We’ll have to be careful. Discreet, I mean.”
“We’re both good at hiding things.” Reid shrugged, and Hotch knew he was right. “I honestly didn’t even think you swung that way.”
“I haven’t in a very long time.” Hotch returned the shrug. He’d fooled around with a few guys in college, when he and Haley were separated by mutual agreement, and being with a girl felt too much like cheating on her. “During college, we were on opposite sides of the country, and we broke up for three years. Being with another woman felt wrong, but I could let myself act on the attraction to men.” He didn’t think he’d ever told anybody that, except Haley herself. To his surprise, she hadn’t minded- in fact she’d found the idea hot, and even suggested trying a threesome sometimes, but he wasn’t a sharing type. “It never got very far.”
“Oh.” Being more sexually experienced that Hotch- not something Reid had ever thought about, but it did sort of make sense. “Well. If we- do, eventually, uh-” Damn, he couldn’t say it. “We’ll go slow.” He promised quickly.
“I’d- appreciate that.” Hotch attempted a smile, but it came out tense. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, or that he had any right to start anything without knowing just where it could lead. He was, however, sure that he really wanted to try, that for the first time in years it felt worth his while to make an effort. It was more of a risk than he was used to taking, though, and going slow would be good. Reid yawned, and Hotch shook himself out of his thoughts. “You’re tired, I should go.”
Reid didn’t want him to go, but he knew he was getting sleepy, the antibiotics and painkillers combining to take him down. Reluctantly, he nodded. “I’m going to become even worse company soon, I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.” Hotch got up and started clearing away the remains of their dinner. “It’s rare enough that two people can just be peacefully quiet together.” It was a closeness he shared with Dave, occasionally with JJ, and now with Reid. He’d rarely had that with Haley. “You’ll be back at work in a couple of weeks?”
“As soon as they clear me.” And far too long after he starts to be bored with sitting at home, Reid knew. Maybe he’d catch up on museum exhibitions or something, or work on an article he’d started four months earlier, the last time he’d had a few free hours. “Don’t worry about me.”
“Easier said than done.” Hotch hesitated, taking in the fact that Reid really didn’t look well- and that he wasn’t too bothered by that, in terms of still finding him attractive. “Would it be completely inappropriate if I kissed you?” As soon as the words were said he regretted them, but Reid’s slow smile was like the sun coming out on a cloudy day.
“Very much so.” Hotch’s face fell, “But I’d like you to do it anyway.” Sure, his libido was hiding away somewhere until he felt better, but he wasn’t about to refuse a kiss.
“Ok.” Hotch swallowed hard, feeling like a teenager on his first date. He leaned forward slowly- too slowly, it seemed, because Reid huffed and closed the space between them with a speed that startled him. It was a chaste kiss, lips only, soft and warm and slightly stubbly and he’d completely forgotten what it felt like to kiss a guy, how scratchy it was, and how enjoyable it could be. His hand came up behind Reid’s head, and his other one slid up his back until they were as close as they could get, fully clothed. Hotch’s mouth opened slightly, but Reid’s remained firmly closed, and he pulled away a little.
“Don’t. The taste of antibiotics isn’t something that should be shared.”
“You sure know how to kill a mood.” But Hotch was smiling a little, a warmth glowing in his stomach, pleased that it had gone well. “I could do that for a while, though.”
“So could I.” And how irritating it would’ve been, if they’d discovered they had no physical chemistry? “But not tonight.” There was a real note of regret in Reid’s voice.
“No, not tonight.” With a sigh, Hotch picked up his jacket and headed for the door.
“You’re allowed a good-night kiss, you know.” Reid’s lips quirked up briefly. “It’s traditional, even on not-really-dates.”
“I like tradition.” Kissing his date at the door- hell, he hadn’t done that in years. It still felt pretty good, and this kiss was somehow more confident, more familiar already but still surprising. Hotch actually chuckled when they disengaged, rubbing his chin. “Stubble burn. Never thought I’d have to worry about that.”
“Comes with the package, I’m afraid.” There was no awkwardness, for which Reid was grateful, although he was sure it’d come eventually. “Go, before I forget that I’m sick and sick isn’t sexy, and going slow becomes an academic point only.” He’d really, really enjoyed those kisses. They made him feel better than the antibiotics had managed, so far.
“I’m going, I’m going.” But Hotch was really, truly smiling now, which made him look years younger, and Reid had to smile back. “I’ll see you when you get back to work.”
So, no more visits until they were both sure of what they wanted- or sure enough to at least try something specific. Fair enough. Reid nodded. “See you. Good night.”
“I’ve already said good night. You’re not sneaking another kiss.” Hotch winked, and Reid pouted.
When the door closed behind Hotch he made his way to the sofa and collapsed on it with a small, pleased smile. Never let it be said that all surprises were unpleasant ones.