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You're The Boss

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Aaron was slammed hard, face first into the wall. It winded him but he didn’t make a sound until he felt something solid behind him pushing him against the drywall until his cheekbone and ribs complained.

“This is demeaning,” a voice growled just before he felt teeth sink into his neck where it met his shoulder. He moaned loudly as his knees weakened a little, knocking into the wall along with his complaining ribs and cheek. Good thing someone else was holding him there.

“Why is it demeaning?” Aaron gasped, hoping he’d get another bite mark for his curiosity. “I asked you to do it.”

The voice growled again and then paused before biting him on the opposite side of his neck. Yeeeesssss… “Pushing people around is a little too close to bullying for me. It’s not really my style.”

Still, the pressure against Aaron became more intense pushing him against the wall almost painfully. Aaron tried to hide his smile.

“It’s not bullying because I’m a willing participant. Very willing. But we don’t have to do it if it makes you uncomfortable, Spencer.”

A hand roughly skimmed down Aaron’s chest, wedging its way between him and the bedroom wall until it landed on his strained pants and raging hard on. Reid’s breath, quick and shaking, stuttered into a low chuckle against the back of Aaron’s neck.

“Your willingness does appear genuine, I’ll give you that.” Reid’s tongue licked the line of Aaron’s throat suddenly, igniting the sting of his previous bite in the process. “What else would you like, Aaron?”

Oh boy - that was a long list, and getting longer by the day, Aaron thought. It had already been a few months of random hook-ups, and then a few more of regularly scheduled sessions of tension release for them, and now Aaron had a full-blown craving for Spencer Reid that was teetering on the edge of real affection. Reid, however, kept his feelings on the situation mostly to himself, which Aaron was finding increasingly harder to take. Sex was one thing, but he’d had more sex in the last five months than in the previous five years, so he could go without if that’s all they were to each other. Once again, his need to attach was causing some grief.

“Strip me,” Aaron sighed into the wall, shoving his thoughts aside in favor of his plan for the night.

“You’re the boss.”

Reid liked using that line - it made him laugh almost every time. It made Aaron laugh too but mostly because of its irony: Reid was in charge of all of this and always had been. Except for the emotional uncertainty that implied, Aaron was okay with it. He was in charge of enough in his life. Ceding authority in the bedroom was like a breath of fresh air after being cooped up for a lifetime.

Reid’s dexterous fingers tugged at Aaron’s tie, his shirt collar, down his seams, and then to his belt. The shirt was only half conquered but Aaron held his breath as Reid negotiated his pants; he was waiting for his reaction hoping that he hadn’t presumed too much this time. Reid yanked Aaron’s pants down, taking his briefs with it, and then he gasped just as the cool air of Aaron’s apartment met his bare ass. The pressure against Aaron’s back with gone in an instant but Reid’s hands held Aaron’s hips in an iron grip so he couldn’t move. There was an agonizing moment of quiet in the apartment and Aaron bit his tongue thinking that he was just an old fool.

“Oh, Aaron…” Reid whispered, and it sounded as though there was a lot of longing tagging along with it. That gave Aaron hope. “Does this mean…?”

“Touch it,” Aaron gulped and then nearly lost his mind when Reid wiggled the butt plug slightly. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a good idea when you were already so sensitive.

“Steady…” Reid breathed against his neck, his body returning to the long, warm line up against Aaron’s back. “When did you put this in?”

“Shortly after you texted me about tonight.”

“That was three hours ago.”

“Yeah, so… maybe don’t play around with it then. It would appear that I’ve been in a sublimated, slow climax for a few hours…”

Reid groaned loudly. “You are so hot, and the best part is that you don’t even realize it most of the time. So, you want me to…?”

Reid wasn’t very good at dirty talk and Aaron was grateful for that because the idea of him speaking like a porn star turned him off a little. However, it made talking about what they wanted a bit like a game of Pictionary.

“I want you to fuck me,” Aaron clarified and heard Reid whimper a little. They’d tried many things and Reid hadn’t balked at Aaron fucking him but the reverse had never been suggested. Aaron was still new enough to this to wonder if defined roles were the norm or not. He’d never asked for this but had been working up the courage for a while now. The plug was wiggled again sending an electric pulse from his ass straight to his brain and pinging his cock along the way. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to recite what he could remember from his Torts classes in law school in order to ignore his pulsing dick.

“I never thought you’d let me do this,” Reid murmured.

“Why?”

“Some guys get offended by the notion.”

“Offended?”

Reid sighed. “Many men perceive sex purely in terms of penetration. It’s fine so long as they are the givers - they are in control.”

Well, Aaron had already given up control to Reid so that wasn’t a problem. But maybe Reid couldn’t see that.

“Does that mean that you won’t?” Aaron gulped.

“It means… you’re giving me something I’d never thought to ask for. And it means that I’m going to thoroughly enjoy you tonight, Aaron.”

Aaron shook hard under Reid’s hands at that statement, and at the almost chaste kiss Reid left along his cheek. Then Aaron felt him step back as cool air replaced Reid’s warm body.

“Shrug outta those clothes and get on the bed, please.”

Aaron did as he was instructed, lying back onto his bed while being careful about putting pressure on the plug. He watched Reid as he collected and meticulously folded Aaron’s clothes, placing them on a chair next to his bureau. Then he stripped with equal attention and piled his clothes next to Aaron’s on the chair. Aaron found the process inexplicably attractive.

Reid came to stand at the edge of the bed and reached for supplies that he knew were in Aaron’s bedside table. Aaron found conversations concerning protection to be crass, uncomfortable, and deeply unarousing, but he understood the need. He just wished that the need wasn’t necessary. Every time either of them reached for a condom, it felt like an admission of casual indiscretion, or of disposability - both of which left Aaron feeling cold and isolated. There was that need to attach again - he just couldn’t bring himself to address it. Lost in his thoughts for an instant, he realized that Reid had gone still beside the bed. Aaron looked up and Reid was staring at him with a puzzled look.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Aaron huffed. “I… I just wish that wasn’t necessary. You know, tonight…” For my first time.

Reid smiled - half suggestive and half concerned - as he crouched on the bed with Aaron.

“It’s a wise precaution - that’s all.”

He braced himself over Aaron and leaned in to kiss him. Aaron suddenly didn’t feel all that tender towards him but soon fell under the spell of the deep, lasting kiss. Reid skimmed his lips over Aaron’s chin, along his jaw and slowly down his throat as Aaron’s breathing sped up. And then he wiggled the plug again and Aaron shouted out something rude, his dick twitching noticeably across his stomach. Reid did it again, and again, always soothing Aaron back down by tracing his hands over his arms, shoulders, chest and thighs afterwards. Aaron watched in anxious fascination as Reid wound him up and down, painting invisible lines over his body with heat. It had the earmarks of a ritual: something reverent and purposeful but with meaning that was only known to him. Aaron switched to reciting criminal law statutes in his head as he tried to breathe and parse Reid’s actions. He wanted to pull that long body to his and detail every curve, every divot, every uniqueness with the same obsession. He wanted to show Reid that sex was just a tool to get at what he longed for - what he wanted lay beneath all of that. But when Reid skimmed his hands along him a third time, Aaron could feel his self-control eroding.

“Spencer, p-please…”

“Okay.” Reid smiled against Aaron’s skin and ran his fingers through the wetness pooling on Aaron’s abs. “But we’re going to have to revisit this toy at some point. I like what it does to you - it’s too much fun.”

Aaron felt a bit delirious realizing that he’d read Reid and got this right. “Anytime. W-whatever you want…”

Reid returned to his lips and kissed him, and then he gently pulled the plug out. Aaron gasped a little in relief although it was short lived as Reid quickly replaced it with his slicked fingers, searching, skimming, prodding, provoking… Aaron groaned, his eyes rolling back with pleasure. He loved Reid’s hands: it was an open secret.

“You don’t need much of this,” Reid whispered as he took Aaron’s mouth again with renewed tenderness. “You did so much of the work for me. So considerate.”

Aaron moaned into Reid’s mouth, grasping him by the hair and trying to make the kiss rougher. But Reid refused backing off just enough to keep things soft but not enough to seem like a refusal. It confused Aaron. Was it foreplay? Was it some sort of plan? Aaron was torn between the keen lust that was the foundation of their relationship and the tenderness Reid was suddenly indulging in. One was what he’d expected and the other was what he hoped for but the hope felt like something Reid was using as a tease. Aaron preferred rough lust to that - at least it was honest. He made an angry sound in the back of his throat and Reid answered with a deep, sharp thrust of his fingers that made Aaron yelp. Reid pulled them back and then thrust again. And again. Aaron’s eyes shot open and found Reid staring down at him, still looking puzzled.

“Is that what you wanted?” he breathed. Aaron nodded.

“Is that all you wanted?”

“No,” Aaron gasped, trying to arch into the thrusts. It’s not even close to all that I want…

The wetness on his stomach was now a pool that his cock throbbed against insistently. Reid looked down Aaron’s body beneath him and, while still moving his fingers, bent his head to Aaron’s abdomen and took a long, luxurious lick. And then he took another, and another, until the area was licked clean. Reid had a kink for this, Aaron knew, but watching him do it usually brought Aaron to the edge as well. Now he was tight all over and super sensitive thanks to the toy, and with Reid working him like he was, Aaron didn’t think he’d last much longer.

“Spence…” Aaron pleaded. It was all he could get out.

Reid pulled his fingers out and then backed away from Aaron completely. He didn’t look at Aaron and that made him feel cold again, like Reid had suddenly switched the tease off. He was trying to imagine what he’d done wrong in the last few moments but he came up empty. Then Reid smoothly rolled on a condom and was looming over him once more. He leaned in until Aaron could feel their lips brushing each other and Reid’s cock pressing gently at his opening.

“I don’t fuck anyone but you, Aaron.”

Reid whispered it just before he took Aaron with a kiss that was all gasoline and fire. Aaron choked and then pressed back hungrily against Reid’s tongue and teeth. His fingers stretched into Reid’s hair, tangling and tugging him as close as they could get. He wanted to shout, to let out the happiness that this small affirmation had ignited in his gut, but Reid’s mouth kept stealing him away, inhaling his desire and nipping at his longing. Then Reid pushed into him, determined but steady, and Aaron felt like he’d explode on the spot from the heat and the delicious strain and the knowledge of what it meant, to him at least. Aaron swore loudly, enough for it to echo a little in his apartment, and to his surprise he heard Reid do the same.

“Aaron…” Reid began pulsing forcefully, without preamble and seemingly a little out of control. “This is… this… nothing like it… nothing close.”

Aaron groaned feeling his balls tighten against Reid’s insistent strokes. The fullness, the tidal rhythm of give and take, the wet slip of them as they strained and gasped together had Aaron bearing down, biting his lip, trying to keep his climax at bay as long as he could.

“Am I h-hurting you?” Reid’s rasp sounded worried and Aaron opened his eyes to see Reid’s gaze boring into him. His hair swung in front of his face as he moved. Aaron reached up and held a handful of it aside so he could see him clearly.

“Not much,” he breathed against Reid’s mouth forcing him to swallow his answer. “C’mon, Spence, c’mon…”

Reid kissed him hard suddenly, surprising him, taking his breath away. Then he pulled back and leaned his forehead against Aaron’s, looping an arm under one of Aaron’s thighs and opening him a little more, thrusting now like his life depended on it.

“You don’t know… how magnificent you are.”

The words detonated Aaron. He strained under Reid, pinned effectively by his grip and body weight. Aaron arched, spine bowing upwards enough to throw Reid back a little, making his rhythm hiccup. He breathed in huge, irregular gasps and yelled in a voice stripped bare of everything but need and exhausted, inevitable relief. Reid kept moving, sliding through the wetness pressed against their bellies, whispering things Aaron couldn’t make out but felt tender nonetheless. He throbbed through it, slowly relaxing as he came down, leaning into Reid’s frantic strokes, trying to give him whatever he had left even if his strength had evaporated. He dug his fingers into Reid’s sides, mumbled his name over and over, took the onslaught that was asked of him until he felt Reid tense up and go deep. Aaron pulled Reid’s head down to him and breathed him through it, Reid’s hips twisting and canting as he bit hard into Aaron’s shoulder making him wince. It felt as if Reid wanted to leave his mark and that just fed into Aaron’s attachment fantasy. Reid sucked the bite and, by the way it stung, Aaron knew he’d drawn blood. He wondered if Reid had a kink for this too, but decided not to ask because it might cause Aaron to question how much it excited him. He also wanted it to be more than just a passing fetish.

“Sorry. That’ll leave a mark,” Reid whispered, his hands shaking along Aaron’s ribs.

Aaron waited for Reid to settle, for his body to sink bonelessly against his, and he hoped that this time, it meant something. He ran his fingers through Reid’s hair and listened to him breathe. He wondered if he could convince him to stay the night this time, but didn’t hold out too much hope. Reid never stayed.

Eventually Reid pulled away, leaning up out of the bed and stumbling off to the bathroom without a word. Aaron sighed after he disappeared: this was their routine. Reid would come back, they’d talk for a few minutes, and then he’d dress and leave. He was never rude or insensitive about it, but he also never asked to stay. It was one thing for Aaron to want more, but it wasn’t as if he could force Reid to want it too.

In time, Reid returned from the bathroom but with a washcloth and towel in hand. Without saying anything, he climbed back into bed and proceeded to clean Aaron. Staying perfectly still, Aaron stared in wonder while Reid concentrated; he never looked up. When he was done Reid gently tossed the towels away and then settled down into Aaron’s side pulling the sheets over them both.

“I’ll put them in the laundry when I leave,” he yawned against Aaron’s shoulder and closed his eyes.

Aaron blinked in the dark, not sure what was happening. “That’s fine.”

Reid made a contented noise in the back of his throat and threw a lazy arm across Aaron’s chest drawing him close. Aaron stopped breathing temporarily and waited for Reid to say something else but all he got was soft snoring a few moments later. Aaron turned slowly, so that their chests faced one another, and then he wrapped Reid in his arms, his chin resting on top of Reid’s head. He was stunned, and too delusionally happy to care about what might happen when Reid woke in a few hours time.

“Stay as long as you like,” he murmured, mostly to himself.

 

----

 

Aaron got up first, not sure that he could stand to watch Reid leave the bed again after they’d spent the whole night in it together. That had never happened before - he couldn’t get past that thought. There were good reasons why, of course: they were on the down-low, scheduling was a trial, it was kinda-sorta-maybe established between them that it was just ‘casual’, there was the concern about Jack running into Reid in the morning… Today was different though. Last night had been different. Aaron hoped that he hadn’t imagined that, but if he had, at least Jack was with his aunt and grandfather so he wouldn’t have to see his Dad slip into a funk about it.

The toaster dinged and Aaron started buttering his bagel on autopilot while he stewed. Then he heard movement behind him. He turned and saw Reid, dressed but blinking sleepily, waving at him.

“Hey.”

“Morning.”

Aaron smiled as he slid a mug of coffee across the counter to him. At first Reid didn’t seem to recognize it but eventually he fumbled the mug to his lips and took a deep slurp following it with a groan of appreciation.

“Oh… that’s very good,” he murmured.

Aaron felt his cheeks heat. “Would you care for a bagel? They’re fresh.”

Reid looked a little caught off guard and then forced his expression into something familiar and friendly. “Sure, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“No trouble,” Aaron turned back to the toaster to hide his delight. “I pulled out the crossword for you…”

There was a beat of silence and then the rustle of paper. “I see that. Thank you.”

When Aaron turned back with the bagel he found Reid settled on a stool at the counter peering at the crossword with a pen in one hand and his coffee in the other. His chest swelled unrealistically at the sight. Reid looked up as the plate with the bagel slid next to his mug and gave Aaron another sleepy smile.

“That’s very kind of you.”

Aaron shrugged and picked up the front section of the newspaper so that he looked busy or disinterested, or both. This quiet scene was more than he’d hoped for and yet he couldn’t work up the nerve to say so aloud. It was the little things that created intimacy and Aaron desperately wanted the little things, there, with Reid. After several minutes of silence and paper crinkling, Reid spoke softly.

“I’ve never done that with anyone before.”

Aaron looked back at him arching an eyebrow in confusion.

“Topping, I mean,” Reid clarified.

“Really?”

Reid shrugged. “No one’s ever asked me, but I’ve always wanted to. You know… for variety and such.”

Aaron wanted to ask if variety was the only reason but just stood in stunned silence instead. Reid filled in a handful of crossword answers with staggering speed, seemingly unconcerned by Aaron’s lack of follow-up.

“I guess that means that we both had ‘firsts’ last night,” he added without looking up from the puzzle.

“I guess so,” Aaron gulped. Did that mean something? God, he hoped it meant something…

Reid spent a few more minutes finishing both the puzzle and his coffee before looking back at Aaron and sliding off his stool. He rounded the counter quickly and gave Aaron a soft kiss on the lips, squeezing his shoulder as he leaned in.

“Thanks for everything.” He hesitated for an instant and Aaron wondered if he would say anything more, but he just smiled again. “See you at work.”

Aaron watched him walk away and then heard the apartment door open and click shut a moment later. He sagged hard against the counter top as he got the distinct feeling of a missed opportunity. In front of him lay Reid’s crossword, completed in pen, showing no mistakes or hesitations whatsoever.

 

----

 

When he looked back on it, his real mistake wasn’t the missed opportunity in his kitchen, it was the Sekera case. Agent Lynn Kehoe from the San Diego field office had been so eager for the BAU to come and sort out her string of unsolved murders along Interstate 5, that Aaron put her slightly presumptuous interest down to that and nothing else. Reid didn’t appear to like her from the start but he was always so proper during a field investigation that it was hard to tell if it was distaste or distraction in the work. Rossi raised his eyebrows more than once at how Kehoe leaned into Aaron’s personal space or found excuses to talk with him or lay a hand along his arm when she did so. To say that he hadn’t noticed any of this would’ve been a lie, but he likewise didn’t encourage it and was all too aware of the delicate balance you played between being friendly with local agents and asserting your authority. They weren’t going to be there long, so he thought it harmless. J.J. mentioned something accidentally-on-purpose within earshot that Kehoe looked a little like Haley and that’s when he felt a sudden twist of apprehension in his gut. He pulled her aside in a quiet moment and asked her for her unvarnished assessment. All she said was: ‘She’s being inappropriate, Hotch. You aren’t. It’s up to you how you handle it.’

He kept his distance and strained to see if Reid noticed. It was suddenly very important to him that Reid develop the same understanding as J.J. about the situation. But Reid was always elsewhere, always preoccupied. In short, he was doing his job, and Aaron decided that he had to get on with his and worry about a pointless flirtation when the case was over.

Then Kehoe’s partner was killed during a shootout in the case, and in the aftermath (the team delayed their trip home to attend the funeral) things got out of hand. At the wake, Lynn drank too much and his sense of chivalry led him to be alone with her in her dead partner’s kitchen as he tried to pour some coffee into her. He assured her that the grief would ease with time - perhaps he overshared about how he dealt with losing Haley. Kehoe took it as a sign. She looked up at him with her watery brown eyes and the attractive qualities that almost any woman twenty years his junior could boast, and pulled him in for a messy kiss. His hands flashed to her arms trying to wrench her back but she was stronger than she looked. She held him close for a handful of heartbeats before he managed to unhook her fingers from his neck and firmly push her from him. She looked at him in confusion, broken open again by disappointment and grief, and he tried to sound gentle when he told her that this was just part of the process - it had nothing to do with him. She stepped into him again whispering that she wanted him to help her ease the guilt, the overbearing feeling of loss - she didn’t care how. They were both adults, she was realistic about this - but who would it harm? As he stared at her, he saw the resemblance to Haley: the pretty, all-American features, the put-together comeliness that, in better circumstances, would’ve come across as perky and delightful. But it sparked nothing in him, not even nostalgia for the salad days of his marriage. He only felt sorrow for her loss, pity for the emotional road ahead of her, and a profound need to get away.

He caught movement from the corner of his eye and saw Reid down the long hall leading to the kitchen. He was stopped in midstep, looking at them but too far away to hear their conversation. Aaron held his stare for a moment, trying to will understanding through it, but in the end, Reid just rolled his eyes. Then it was as if an invisible door between them slammed, locking with a definitive click as Reid’s gaze got unfocused and he walked away. Aaron felt like that gesture had a fatal edge to it; it caught and tore at him raggedly. It wasn’t his fault – Kehoe’s feelings had nothing to do with him, but now it appeared that Reid might not have anything to do with him either.

 

----

 

A week passed after that case but Reid didn’t reach out. It was usually Reid who initiated things - he was in charge after all - but Aaron decided that maybe he had to make the move this time, to get them talking again. He just wanted to get back to where they were before San Diego, to where it seemed as though they were both on the threshold of something more.

He got out of a budget meeting that he’d half daydreamed his way through and decided that enough was enough. He fished out his phone.

-- Come over tonight? --

It took almost twenty minutes to get a response back, which ticked him off because he knew Reid was just writing reports at his desk.

* Can’t. I’m busy. Sorry. *

That was it. Aaron’s mood soured as his thoughts spiraled out into speculation as to whether Reid was ‘busy’ because he was dodging him, or ‘busy’ because he’d found someone new. Maybe that night at Aaron’s apartment had been a shade of intimacy that Reid now regretted. Perhaps his assurances that he wasn’t sleeping with anyone else were just something you said in situations like that. Or maybe he finally saw Aaron’s growing attachment clearly and was trying to tactfully step away. Aaron was certain that he’d seen something more from Reid that night, but his vision was obviously skewed and he’d been completely blind to how Lynn Kehoe had come barreling towards him, so…

He slammed his phone down too hard on his desk and started filling out the paperwork required to get additional funding for the unit’s travel expenses for the next fiscal quarter instead. He had a ton of beige work to get through and some things just didn’t care if you were wounded. Blood only impresses entities that can feel.

 

----

 

Thursday, November 5th

-- Feel like some dinner tonight? --

* Think I’m going 2 stay in. Have some work 2 catch up on. Another time. *

 

Wednesday, November 18th

-- Meet for a drink? --

* Not tonight. *

-- It doesn’t have to be tonight. When are you free? --

* I’ll get back 2 you, K? *

 

Monday, November 30th

-- Need to see you. We have to talk. --

* Not a good time *

-- S, please stop avoiding me --

* Not avoiding u. See u at work all the time. *

-- You’re upset & I think there’s been a misunderstanding. We need to clear it up. --

* I’m not upset. Really. No discussion required. This was always just casual, right? *

 

Saturday, December 5th

-- Please meet with me --

* No *

-- Why??? --

* Let this go, A. Before it ruins things at work. *

-- Not until you talk to me --

* There’s nothing to talk about. Pls stop texting. I won’t answer any more. *

-- Are you serious??? --

----

Aaron and Reid never brought their outside relationship into the unit. Not once. And now that it appeared to be over, Reid maintained the same discipline. It was impressive, in a dispassionate sort of way. But as Aaron lurked in his office waiting for the bullpen to slowly clear out for the day, he knew that the only option left to him was to break that silent wall down. He just hoped that he could manage it gracefully.

Early evening rolled in and the sixth floor became a collection of half-lit empty desks. Rossi popped his head into Aaron’s office for a brief chat before heading home, and once he was gone, Aaron shut down his computer and grimly set himself to his task. Reid had a habit of commandeering the conference room sometimes for personal projects. He always did it after hours, enjoying the quiet and the profusion of space. He claimed that there wasn’t a wall in his apartment big enough for some of his ‘mind palace’ queries; the room’s extended whiteboard was one of his favorite things. Aaron knew he’d find him there and walked the short distance from his office staring at his shoes scuffing across the carpet. Just one foot in front of the other… He avoided thinking about the riot going on in his guts or the nerves that were causing his hands to uncharacteristically twitch. He refused to give the hope tangled up with his fear in his mind any air to breathe. He made it to the door, straightened his shoulders, and walked through. Not thinking, not hoping. Reid looked up, blinking a little blearily, and then recognition settled in and he rose to his feet.

“Hey. What time is it?”

Aaron was caught off guard. “Just a little before seven, I think.”

“Hmmm,” Reid nodded as he looked down at his scattered papers. Then his fingers plucked out a file folder from the unformed mess. “I finished my analysis of the Arroyo custodial interview. I was going to drop it by your office on my way out, but I got carried away, I guess. Anyway, you’re here, so…”

He walked forward and held out the folder with a congenial smile, just as if the eyes of the bullpen were all over them. Two guys working together… nothing to see here…

“Great.” Hotch took the folder and then dropped it on the conference table in front of him. It made a sharp slapping noise and that caused Reid to look back with concern. “I’m not here for that.”

“Why are you here?”

“Don’t be coy, Spencer.”

Reid’s stare got jaded and hard as his professional mask slipped. Aaron took in a sharp breath at how quickly it happened.

“We’re at work, Hotch. This isn’t the time or the place.”

“Well, the problem is that work is all you’re giving me anymore, so you’ve sorta forced my hand here.”

Reid sighed loudly. “Aaron, you’re a grown man. You know not everything gets resolved the way we’d like. We had some fun and we enjoyed each other but that’s done now. Don’t ruin it by chasing down the reasons why. Let’s just get on with work, okay?”

Aaron stepped around the table and moved closer to Reid. He was angry at being shut out so easily and it must have showed because Reid took a step back. Aaron told himself to take a beat: anger was the wrong tool to convince Reid of anything.

“Is this because of Agent Kehoe? Because you’re smart enough to know that nothing happened there.”

“You don’t owe me an explanation, whether something happened or not. There were never any strings to this. I did that specifically to avoid the drama.”

“What drama?”

“The newly-queer drama.” Reid gave him a look like his explanation was obvious but when Aaron just kept staring in confusion, he ran his fingers through his hair and then spoke as if quoting a text book. “You’re trying out a new lifestyle, you reach out to the person who chauffeurs you through it, you dramatize the bond… inflate its importance maybe.”

Heat scorched up Aaron’s neck and lit out across his face. He felt his expression set into something terrible. He’d never felt naïve or demeaned or stupid about this until right now. How could he not have seen this in Reid’s demeanor? How could he have missed this casual blaséness?

“But in reality, you’ll end up going back to what you know,” Reid continued. “You need intimacy, Aaron. You crave it, crave stability. You also have a son who needs a mother. Regardless of how you feel now, or whom you feel it for-”

Reid hesitated, then seemed to recover. His expression remained neutral but he took a moment to swallow and clear his throat before moving on.

“You’ll drift back to the dynamic you understand. In time, there will be a more suitable Lynn Kehoe for you. I don’t need to be a part of the anxiety and guilt of that decision when it happens.”

Aaron stood breathless and stunned, vibrating with resentment. He didn’t know what to say or if it was even worth trying. There hadn’t been even a twinge of attraction to Lynn Kehoe and, on reflection that surprised him. She had definitely been his type, once upon a time. But he didn’t imagine that any pretty, perky blond would draw his eye now. In fact, even thinking about going out and finding a different man left him sort of numb. Surely that kind of reaction couldn’t just be conveniently chalked up to sexual imprinting. This wasn’t about a lifestyle, it was about a person, but according to Reid, he wasn’t interested in being wanted that way. Aaron felt an awful finality sink into him and it drained the energy from his frame slumping his shoulders and making him feel very, very old suddenly. Had he always been like this? Did he just fall for people without bothering to be critical about it? Had his marriage lacked that sort of nuance? Because being with Reid started to fill in some of the holes Haley left behind when she died and Aaron had been shocked as hell when he discovered that. He thought about that breakfast after Reid stayed the night. He thought about how momentous it felt, almost as powerful as making love to someone you cared for…

His hand pressed into the surface of the table and he looked down at it, mesmerized by the paleness of his fingertips as they balanced his weight. He began to nod to himself.

“You’re probably right about me. I do crave stability. And intimacy has probably always been more important to me than sex. I guess that’s why I never enjoyed the clubs or the idea of anonymous encounters. Titillating though that may be in the short term, it ultimately fails to satisfy.”

He looked up and found Reid staring wide-eyed, as if he hadn’t expected Aaron to say anything, as if he’d just walk away instead.

“You’ve always been the boss in this and perhaps it was my mistake to allow that to go on without comment. Because if you think that this has been casual and disposable all along then I should’ve put a stop to things long ago. I don’t really need hollow gratification that badly.”

He fixed Reid with one of his legendary scowls.

“You’re damned right that I attached to you. You are free and generous and open and gloriously uninhibited. You were such a wonderful surprise - why wouldn’t I? And you didn’t do anything to dissuade me.”

As he said the words he realized how they sounded. He’d fallen very far just on sex and inferences. He couldn’t blame this on Reid, although he sorely wanted to accuse him of leading him on. If Aaron had simply spoken up – given voice to the needs that he couldn’t change even if he wanted to – they might have reached this point sooner. This break might not have come as such a shock to him.

“You’re also right that I wanted intimacy. But I guess you didn’t understand that I wanted that with you, so I waited hoping that you’d come to see it on your own. I thought, maybe… that last night we spent together, well… maybe you finally wanted that too. In hindsight it was sort of a stupid strategy.”

Aaron smirked sadly as his hand left the table and absently rubbed the newly-healed scar under his shirt on his shoulder. Reid’s eyes became riveted to that hand though he didn’t move otherwise.

“But you’ve made things clear. I’m well past random fucking at this point, so if that’s all you ever intended to offer - then, yes, I suppose we’re done here.”

Aaron stared at Reid but Reid continued staring at his hand. Eventually, deciding that Reid wouldn’t say anything else, Aaron sighed, walked back to the door and fetched the abandoned report from the table.

“Thanks for getting this done so quickly.” He waved the folder. It was time to get on with the things that didn’t care to see you bleed. “Let security know if you plan to stay past eight o’clock, okay?”

“I’m not fucking anyone else,” Reid said quietly. Aaron was shocked that he’d say anything like that outside of the bedroom, and turned to look back at him.

“I’ve never been with anyone like…”

He stopped, shaking his head as if what he meant to say wasn’t quite right somehow. Then he continued without looking at Aaron.

“That night, with you… I’ve never made love to anyone face-to-face because… I didn’t want to get lost, ya know? I didn’t want to vanish into the lust and imagine that there could be more. I was always happy to give, just so long as I could walk away before the feelings kicked in.”

Reid suddenly knocked the toe of his sneaker lightly against the floor. He was almost glaring an accusation at his feet. Aaron wondered who could make him that angry.

“I never slept with anyone - just sleep - because I was afraid that they’d be upset that I was still there in the morning, as if I expected something from them. I never wanted to say the things that you just said to me and realize that it was all one-sided. Just an elaborate stage play inside my head…”

Aaron stepped carefully back into the conference room. The folder in his hand was shaking noticeably, so he put it back on the table. He took a deep breath, trying to act calm and willing Reid to look at him.

“Spencer-”

“I marked you.” Reid’s eyes suddenly flashed to Aaron’s, as serious as he’d ever seen them. “I wanted to.”

Aaron leaned his hands hard into the table top. He was breathing through his mouth - it felt as though there wasn’t enough air in the room for the two of them. In the back of his mind, he was trying to come to terms with how and who had spooked Reid this badly in the past. He desperately wanted to find that person and show them how cruelty really worked. But instead he decided to trade places for a moment and be the boss.

“Physically, we’re a good match. That’s obvious.” He swallowed hard. “We’ve worked together for years through some tough situations. We’ve seen a lot of each other both good and bad.”

Reid was staring at him like a predator that couldn’t decide whether to attack or retreat. Aaron was praying for an attack because it was something he could work with – it was secretly hopeful. “To me it seems… well… why not try, Spencer?”

“I don’t know, Aaron…” Reid flushed and then ducked his face away, fiddling nervously with his fingers. Attack seemed off the table for now. “I don’t know…”

“Spence,” Aaron’s heart sped up as he rounded the table end quickly and closed the distance between them. He didn’t care if he startled him; he was so close now. “You have no idea how great it felt when you stayed that night. I’d been waiting for something like that for a while, and I was too afraid to ask… I should’ve just asked.”

Reid looked back at him in disbelief. Aaron didn’t know how to combat that so he smiled and hoped it worked. Reid rocked a little, eyes getting unfocused in thought. He stayed silent for a long time. Aaron just waited him out; there was no way he was leaving that room without an answer. In the distance, the elevator dinged and he heard the rattle of the cleaning staff rolling their cart out into the lobby. Reid suddenly twitched his head and gave Aaron a critical glare.

“You really think I’m the boss in this?”

Aaron’s laughter caught them both by surprise. He reached out gently pulling Reid in with a broad hand along his jaw.

“Yes, I do, and I like it that way.”

He angled them for a soft kiss. Reid hadn’t really answered him, just deflecting the subject instead. But as Aaron felt him open under him, waiting with eyes shut and his hand cupping Aaron’s jaw in return, he realized that Reid handled his feelings wordlessly. Aaron would have to become more attuned to that language. He moaned quietly as he sank down, Reid moving against him with an almost hesitant pull. It broke Aaron’s heart a little. His hands skimmed across Reid’s shirt, down its seams, and then around his waist. You are wanted… I’ll get you used to it in time. He squeezed him close, probably too close as Reid yelped a little into his mouth. Aaron grinned and drew back slowly taking Reid’s lower lip with him.

“Sorry.” He wasn’t sorry at all. Reid arched an eyebrow and then dug a thumb into the scar on his shoulder. Aaron hissed loudly.

“I told you, I’m not into this pain thing.” Reid dipped in and traced his lips lightly under Aaron’s ear. “Though I’m still a huge fan of your enthusiasm. But we can’t do this here - I really want to keep ‘us’ out of the workplace. Okay?”

“Okay.”

Aaron smiled and leaned his forehead against Reid’s, stroking his back in slow, hypnotic ellipses.

“Especially since… you know, we don’t know if this will work out. At all.” Aaron could feel the worried wrinkle of Reid’s brow against his but he wasn’t buying into his pessimism. He was simply too happy.

“Okay, Spence.”

“I’m just trying to warn you… I-I don’t know how good I’ll be at this…”

Aaron still wasn’t buying it. Reid already had a talent for giving otherwise they wouldn’t have made it this far. Now they were aligned, Aaron wanted to knit their doubts and desires through one another until those weaknesses became the strongest things about them; he felt certain that what no one else valued would come to define them. His grin widened as he continued stroking Reid through his shirt, trying to blur his instinct to retreat. It started to work - the tension in Reid’s muscles softened a little and then he gave Aaron a lopsided smirk.

“Are you taking my concerns seriously?”

“Yes and no.”

“That’s a frustrating response.”

“Isn’t it though?” Aaron raised his eyebrows to effect an air of innocence. Reid huffed and gently pushed him away.

“I’m really serious about keeping this out of work, Aaron. That’s non-negotiable for me.”

“Okay, Spence.”

“We need a longer view now than just the next hook-up.”

“I agree.”

“Well then could you stop grinning at me like I’m your next meal? I am attempting to work here…” Reid’s tone was exasperated but it was broken up by the sharp laugh lines around his mouth. “And I can see what you’re thinking. Don’t say it.”

Aaron chuckled and backed away, picking up the report again before heading out. He jutted his chin as he told him not to work too late. Reid gave him a rueful glance but was still rosy and a little flustered. You will get used to this, Spence – I promise. Aaron walked off feeling triumphant, and then he mumbled what he swore he’d keep to himself:

“You’re the boss.”

----

“Ugh! That’s it – I’m done.”

Morgan slapped a file folder hard against the desk and shoved it away from him for good measure. Aaron heard it from his office and quietly moved to the doorway to see what was going on. The bullpen was dim and mostly deserted – someone would have to look directly at his office to notice him observing the scene. He saw Reid leaning back in his chair arching an eyebrow at Morgan.

“Are you sure? ‘Cause I’ve got plenty I could hand off to you if that’s the case…”

Morgan glared at Reid. “Brother, seriously. I have two words for you: ‘Week’ and ‘End’.”

“The files don’t know that,” Reid shrugged and went back to the case open on his desk. “And they’ll still be here on Monday. Unless of course you decide to do your paperwork in your office for a change and leave off blinding us plebs with your glory…”

“You said it, Genius.”

Morgan was grinning his thousand watt smile and Reid just grumbled something which was probably vaguely sarcastic and rude. Aaron stifled his amusement; Reid’s off-color moments were rare and often priceless. Morgan shined it on like he always did.

“C’mon, man… why don’t you come out for a drink with me tonight and we’ll see if we can hook you up with a nice girl. Whaddaya say?”

“I’m seeing someone.” Reid looked up quickly, his expression slightly taken aback at the suggestion. In the darkness of his office, Aaron was actually floored.

“Really? Since when?” Morgan leaned forward, ready for some dish.

“A while.” Reid blinked and went back to his report.

“No, no, no. You can’t drop something like that and not offer any details. Tell me what she’s like… how did you meet her?”

Oh dear…

“He is quite nice, otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing each other. And how I met him is none of your business.”

“He?”

Reid gave Morgan a critical look back and then nodded slowly. Aaron wasn’t sure how he felt about this. He was halfway between exhilaration at the admission, and dread that Reid might choose to reveal them. Aaron wasn’t ready for that yet but there wasn’t much he could do about it. In this situation, as in most that had happened since they’d decided to try for something more, he was following Reid’s lead. It was the bargain Aaron had made in order to convince Reid he was worth it.

Morgan looked embarrassed. “Well… damn. I’m sorry for assuming, Reid. I didn’t know. I shoulda been throwing hot guys at you all this time…”

Reid softened his stare with a smile to let him know that they were okay.

“It’s just private, Morgan, that’s all. And I’m thankful that you haven’t been throwing guys at me all of these years. I imagine that would’ve been awkward for both of us.”

“True,” Morgan smirked, and then leaned in further, seriousness taking over his expression. “So… it’s private – I totally get that. But… is he good to you? I mean, I don’t stop being concerned for my ‘brother by a different mother’ just ‘cause he’s dating guys. If fact, I think that makes me more concerned – I know what guys can do…”

“So do I, Morgan,” Reid said pointedly.

“Yeah, okay – maybe better than me. But… does he make you happy?”

Reid’s chair creaked as he swung around to face Morgan. He got a far-off look and appeared to spend some time contemplating his answer. You make me happy, Aaron thought reflexively.

“He’s… sorta startling, actually. It’s not what I thought it would be at all. It’s… it’s not what I planned.”

“Sounds complicated.” Morgan’s brow creased with worry. “And serious?”

Reid’s face didn’t give anything away. He just shrugged. “It might be. If I don’t screw it up, I guess.”

Aaron gripped the doorframe tightly. They still had a ways to go on the self-worth issue, apparently, but the answer made Aaron warm all over. Reid could be startling too when he wanted to be.

“Hey now, don’t be like that,” Morgan warned. “Negativity begets negative results.”

“Wow, Morgan.” Reid rolled his eyes. “You would’ve made a terrible scientist with insights like that.”

“Not if my specialty was love,” he grinned. “Besides, I’m not worried about you screwing up, kid. You’re the most giving guy I know. I’m worried about what your man does. If he messes with you I’m gonna introduce myself with authority, if you know what I mean. I don’t care how private it is. I’ll put a permanent dent in his future.”

Reid tossed his head back and laughed. His whole body rocked with it as he swiveled in his chair. Morgan continued grinning but also looked a little disturbed by it.

“Oh man, I think I’d almost pay money to see that!” Reid hooted and then struggled to get control of himself. “Not that I’m indulging in negativity… or hoping to see two guys go Neanderthal on each other in some outmoded display of chivalry on my behalf… You know that when two men get together one of them doesn’t suddenly become a woman, right? Honestly, Derek, I can take care of myself. I’m the same guy I’ve always been and I’ve got a handle on this.”

Morgan raised his hands in surrender, which Aaron thought he should’ve done the moment Reid said the subject was ‘private’, but he was also pleased that Reid took the opportunity to set his friend straight. He really could handle himself – they’d all made the mistake of thinking that he couldn’t at some point, even Aaron. And Aaron was also relieved that Reid really didn’t want to see Morgan and him showdown about this. Aaron was far too old for that nonsense.

“Well, what I’m saying is that he’d better treat you well, kid, that’s all. And maybe, someday, if things stay serious, you’ll introduce him to us.”

Aaron’s mind went completely blank for a second. He hadn’t considered how they’d reveal themselves to the team at all. It was almost as if he didn’t want to get ahead of himself and admit that it was a contingency that required a plan. Maybe soon, maybe now they needed a plan for that…

“We’ll see,” Reid said quietly as he closed his case file and busied his hands with tidying his desk.

Morgan remained a few minutes longer and then both he and Reid walked to the elevators together, chatting amiably about cases and Morgan’s lurid plans for the weekend. Aaron watched them go and then retreated back into his darkened office with a contented sigh that was out of place for someone who was planning on staying late to finish outstanding case reports. He was sure that he ought to be a little freaked out about what Reid said. He ought to be worrying about where they were going and how they were going to negotiate things at work when they got there. But he wasn’t. All he felt was this odd tranquility about how he’d convinced Reid to challenge his expectations and travel with him down this road. That in itself seemed like a huge gift they’d given to each other. Perhaps that was enough for now.

He worked for another hour before his phone buzzed on the desk next to him.

* Still on for the museum tomorrow? *

-- Yes. Jack can’t wait. Prepare more dinosaur jokes. --

* U know those weren’t meant 2 be jokes, right? *

-- Jack laughed & thinks you’re cool. Just go with it. --

* This is pretty far out of my comfort zone *

-- I know, S. But you’re doing great. It means a lot that you even try. --

* It’s worth it if u think so. And if Jack calls me ‘cool’. *

Aaron chuckled to himself.

-- Soak it in while you can. He’s 10 - it won’t last forever. --

He took a moment and realized that he expected Reid to be around to face the sullen wrath of a teenaged Jack. He’d just implied it in his text without even thinking twice. To him, the road they were on was a long one. He wondered what Reid thought of that.

* Flattering tho his opinion may be, the durability of his regard isn’t the 1 that concerns me. *

Aaron took a moment.

-- You’re much more than cool to me. Though it’s an adjective I’d use if pressed. --

He waited for a response because he knew there’d be one and that it would take some time for Reid to formulate it.

* Remind me 2 tell u how magnificent u r when I see u 2morrow. *

Aaron smiled - as if Reid would need reminding.

-- Sure thing, Boss. Whatever you want. --