Hotch moved towards where he saw the sorcerer run when he'd surprised him. He'd felt the magic hit him and he'd thrown it off as a distraction spell. He'd already called the team to tell them where he was. He was trying to hold his own until the others could arrive. He really hadn’t expected the ritual when he came to just talk to the witness. Which, unfortunately turned out to be their suspect.
Hotch released his wand from its wrist holster and raised it towards the sorcerer, a binding spell just on the tip of his tongue, but he wanted to give the suspect a chance to surrender peacefully.
“Abernathy Jones, this is the FBI. Stop what you’re doing. You are under arrest.” Hotch had just enough time to duck around the side of the house when a curse was aimed at him. Swearing to himself, he was wondering where the hell his team was. They should have already been there. The team had been unable to exactly figure out the level of their UnSub when it came to magic so he had hoped they would have hauled ass to get to him.
Hotch tried to look for an opening to get to the victim who was still unconscious in the middle of the circle. When Jones had stepped away to look for him he took his chance. He raced forward and hoped to feel a pulse it was faint but thankfully still there. That was what got him. He'd stepped fully into the circle. He felt the power around him and the circle snapped closed trapping him inside.
“Just exactly what did you hope to accomplish Agent?” Jones stood just inside with an arrogant smile on his face. There was nothing that Hotch could do and he knew it. His only hope was that the team would arrive.
“You can stop this right now Jones. We have enough evidence to take you in. You curse me and you’ll be assaulting a federal agent. You really don’t want to add that to the extensive charges we have against you.” Hotch tried to get a dialogue going to draw it out a little to give the team a little more time to arrive. The look on Jones face told him that it wasn't going to work. They both sent spells at each other at the same time.
Hotch dropped down next to the victim but he felt strange and couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He knew something happened, he just wasn’t sure what. Jones was wrapped up in the binding spell that he had already prepared. He started to feel weird. He knew a vast number of spells and this one wasn't one that he knew, that had him a little scared. When he heard loud footsteps coming towards him he tried to hide even more. He had no clue what was making the noise as it was much louder than a human's footsteps, even if it was his team rushing to him.
“Hotch,” someone yelled. He thought maybe it was Prentiss but he couldn’t be sure.
“Hotch.” That voice he knew. That was the voice of comfort and warmth. Wiggling out of his hideaway he peaked up at the shaggy-haired man. Reid was a lot farther away than his mind told him he should be for him being on the floor.
“Meow.” Wait, what? Did he just, “Meow.” What the everliving fuck was going on? Turning around he tried to see the others and in the corner of his eye he caught a long fluffy tail. The tip of which was moving back and forth. Glaring at it, he tried to lunge for the tail and tripped over the piece of cloth he was currently sitting on. The tail disappeared and all he could see was something black and shiny in front of him.
“Hotch, where are you?” Reid called out to him again. His team was frantically trying to find him. Reid finally looked his way and started to walk towards him.
“Meow.” Dammit, he still didn’t know why he was doing that. He pushed himself up from the sprawl that trying to get at the tail had put him in. Wiggling up he was able to finally sit up on his back legs. Then he looked down at himself and saw the two front legs. Letting out a tiny growl he finally came to the conclusion that he was a cat. No, not a cat. A damn kitten! A small black kitten. He looked around for something to compare his size and found his gun, in holster. He was not much bigger than it. Well hell he thought and wondered just how he was going to get out of this mess.
“Hotch?” Reid crouched down and looked him in the eye. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” His hand moved towards him and Hotch wasn't sure if he wanted to jump at it or run from it. “Hey, it’s okay. I know you’re probably scared but it's me. It’s Spencer.” The hand didn’t come further but it was there steady and waiting. Hotch leaned closer and sniffed. He knew what he was supposed to smell but it was so much more. The scent of the paper files that he'd been pouring over was strong but stronger was the scent of the books he'd been reading and there was even the faint scent of gun oil from where he'd been messing with his revolver the night before. Then there was the scent of Reid. He leaned even closer and bumped his nose into the younger man's palm.
Reid didn't move that hand but his other raised up but it didn't move towards him. Instead Hotch saw it stop with his hand clenched. That's when Hotch noticed the rest of the team spread out behind Reid, all of them had stopped moving at Reid's movement. Hotch turned to try and get back into his hideaway but the clothes had dropped down. That would take too long. Instead he saw his shoe, the shiny black thing and scrambled into it. There was only one way that anyone could get to him and he could defend himself.
A strange feeling moved down his hand, no paw and down into the tips. He felt his paws catch in the lining of the shoes. His claws were out. Morgan stepped closer to see what was going on.
“Pretty boy, where’s Hotch?” Morgan was looking around trying to find their Unit Chief.
“Well, he’s in his shoe.” Hotch heard Reid tell Morgan.
“What?” Morgan bent down and put his hand in the shoe. Hotch hissed and took a swipe at the intruding digits. Morgan yelped as he pulled his hand out and four deep scratches lined his fingers. “What the hell Hotch?” He glared at the shoe.
“Morgan, he’s scared. Let’s just back off and let him calm down.” The team backed off but Spencer sat in the circle and waited patiently to see what the kitten was going to do. When Hotch didn’t hear any movement he slinked forward and poked his head out and looked up to see Reid sitting there calmly.
"Meow," Hotch said again, cursing that he couldn't speak. Reid moved his hand back but didn't place it over the shoe, just in front of it so that it didn't seem like he was trying to grab him. Hotch leaned forward and up to butt his nose against the palm again. Curling his finger slightly Reid scratched under Hotch’s chin which had him purring and stretching his neck out for more. The fingers curled tighter and his nails dug into his fur more. Hotch purred louder and couldn’t help thinking just how good that felt. Slowly, he moved out of the shoe and crawled up Reid’s arm.
"Reid?" A new voice asked, it took Hotch a second to place it as Dave's voice.
“Well, I don’t know the spell involved but say hello to Hotch.” He carefully held the little kitten in his hands. Hotch was still purring but as Dave and JJ stepped close he stopped. Morgan had his fingers wrapped in a bit of his shirt he'd pulled out from under his vest.
JJ looked between Reid and the kitten, her brows raised so high they disappeared under her bangs.
“That’s Hotch?” She stepped forward a little more but Hotch hunched down in Reid’s hands. He wanted to glare at her but he didn't know how, not yet at least. Instead, he felt his fur start to raise on his back and instead of a purr, his throat muscles shifted and he growled at her. JJ stopped moving and Reid pulled him to his chest. He knew that in just a few seconds, he'd start spitting. He wasn't sure what to think of these new instincts that he was feeling.
"Go and secure the UnSub, Morgan. I have Hotch." Reid's voice sounded strong but Hotch knew him well enough to hear the uncertainty. Morgan and Dave both moved to the bound Jones and Hotch was happy to see that while the others had been busy with him, Prentiss had been looking after the victim.
"Reid, are you sure it's him?" JJ asked. She looked really unsure.
"' When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable , must be the truth.' This guy was hiding in Hotch's clothes and he meowed when I called Hotch's name. Unless Hotch stripped naked and hid a kitten in his clothes, it's him."
Hotch took offense at Reid talking about him stripping naked on a case so he nipped at the skin closest to him. Which ended up being the sensitive skin between pointer finger and thumb. The younger man hissed and Hotch was jostled into one hand and he watch Reid move the wounded flesh to his mouth. The glare directed at him with serious eyes had Hotch ducking down and he rubbed his cheek against the hand holding him in apology. Pulling back to give the skin a swipe with his tongue.
“I know, you’re scared and don’t understand what’s happening to you but don’t worry, we’ll figure this out.” He held Hotch close to his chest and stroked his back. Hotch closed his eyes and purred against Reid’s chest. This was safety and he started to relax a little more.
“Okay, we have Jones in the car and I’ve got Hotch’s clothes, gun, wand and holsters for both,” Prentiss said as she carefully approached Reid. Of course, it was right then that Reid’s phone rang. He jostled Hotch to his other hand and pulled out his phone. When he saw who was calling, he groaned slightly. He did not need Garcia at the moment but he answered to see what she wanted.
“Hey Garcia, did you have something for us?” Hotch opened his eyes and stared at the phone wondering what his analyst wanted. He desperately wanted to answer it but Reid was keeping the phone away from him.
“I’ve been trying to get ahold of Hotch and his phone keeps ringing and ringing. I’ve left messages and tried again what is going on? Where’s the bossman? What happened out there…”
“Pen, take a deep breath, okay?” Prentiss looked rather amused at the frantic call from their resident technomage. “Hotch is….okay.” She didn’t want to say over the phone what had happened because she didn’t want Garcia to worry more than she already was.
When a hologram of Garcia popped up on Reid’s phone, Prentiss knew right then that she had made a mistake. She made Garcia worry which made her do weird things with technology.
“And what does that mean oh my raven princess?” Garcia huffed as she looked at Prentiss then Reid. Hotch’s eyes widened and he felt very mischievous as he saw the hologram. Sitting up in Reid’s hand he leaned forward and swatted at the glowing picture.
“What the hell was that?” Prentiss and Reid were trying to stifle a laugh when Hotch kept batting his little paw at the hologram. Narrowing his eyes he glared, he hoped, at the picture. Raising his butt in the air and lowering his head he wiggled his body then pounced. The squeal from the phone had Hotch trying to smile. His mouth wouldn’t quite made the gesture but Reid let out snort he was laughing so hard.
“That Garcia is Hotch.”
“What? What? That can’t be Hotch.” The kitten was now sitting half in Reid’s arms and half on the phone still trying to glare at the hologram. “Do kittens glare?” The two stared at each other a moment then Garcia let out an odd noise even for her. “Oh my god. That’s Hotch. How is that Hotch?” Hotch let out a little huff of satisfaction before he moved back into Reid’s arms happy that he at least figured one thing out.
“We’ll explain everything when we get home Garcia. Now, what were you calling about?”
“Oh, it was about Abernathy Jones. He was a professor of transfiguration and physics magic at Iowa State University. In fact, he knows many rare and unused spells. He had a reputation for experimenting on his students. Most of the time the spells could be reversed but every-so-often one of his victims would be left in the form they had been transformed into. When the school’s committee found out what was going on he was fired. Just before that his wife had left him. She disappeared two days later.”
“Both of those events so close together must have been the stressors," Prentiss said with a frown on her face.
“Come on, let’s get back to the station. Let the crime scene guys work. Hopefully, they can get a sample of the magic that was used.” Morgan had walked back towards them to see how Reid and Hotch were doing.
“Plus we need Jones to tell us exactly what he did and how to reverse it.” The team all piled into the waiting SUV’s with Reid in the back keeping a gentle hold on Hotch. Curling up in the genius’s lap, Hotch let exhaustion take over as he felt compelled to take a nap. It was just a bonus that it was on his favorite human.
Reid's hand rested on his back, rubbing slightly. Fingers trailed his spine and he settled down more. It was heaven. He started to purr again and it just helped him drift even farther into sleep. All too soon he was being jostled awake and he let his annoyance be known. He heard the low chuckle from Reid and turned his head to look up at him. He had glaring down now and he let Reid know it. He wasn't prepared to see the younger man covering his face and trying not to shake too hard from laughing.
“What’s so funny kid?” Dave started to walk with him towards the station entrance.
“He figured out how to glare and it’s just too adorable.” Reid was still trying to stifle his laughing as they walked through the doors into the station. Heads looked up and Hotch was startled to see so many officers inside. He backed along Reid's arm until he was tucked safely with something at his back and one side. Something could only get at him from two sides. He could keep a better eye on two better than three or four.
“Dr. Reid, I’m sorry I have to ask you to take the cat elsewhere. We don’t let animals in the station.” The Ames Police Chief tells him.
"The cat is a witness and our Unit Chief. He goes where we go." Reid didn’t wait for an answer as he strode over to the small conference room they had been using during the investigation. The team followed behind him with Morgan taking Jones to the holding cells. No one said anything as Reid sat down in the chair that was farthest from the door. Hotch only crawled away from his side when Reid was fully seated. He moved down and sat at the end of Reid's knee to look around. Everything was so much bigger and he didn't like it. He was used to being one of the biggest things in the room.
Morgan came in a few minutes later after processing Jones and getting him in a cell. They wanted to let him sweat for a bit before they started in on the interrogations.
“Prentiss, you, besides Hotch, are the most attuned to magic. Do you know or can guess the spell used?” Dave tried to keep the chuckle out of his voice as he watched Hotch cleaning Reid’s fingers.
“Usually transfigurations are only done on a personal basis. I’ve never seen another caster turn someone like this. It would take a lot of power.” She leaned forward on the table and looked over at Reid and Hotch. “We have to find his grimoire, or the spellbook he used if we can’t get him to reverse the spell.”
"And if we don't find that?" JJ asked.
"Then someone is going to be getting a litter box and cat toys installed in their home," Prentiss said.
Reid looked up from Hotch at that. "We are a long way away from that. Don't even joke like that."
"Jones will talk," Morgan said from the edge of the room. He hadn't got that close since Hotch had scratched him. Hotch was still sitting on Reid but he was now cleaning himself.
"Have to give Hotch this. The only transfigurations like this that I have read about, the target is turned into something that is an inverse to them. Hotch must have scared Jones pretty bad to turn him into a small kitten." Reid looked down at Hotch and saw that he had stopped cleaning himself and was glaring again. He didn't even try and hold back the laugh. Hotch swatted at the hand that had been petting him.
"Of course, he only swats at you with paws and me with claws." Morgan held up his now bandaged fingers. Which made the whole team snicker. It took a few minutes for them to all calm down and when they did they saw a smug looking Hotch, of course. Dave looked up to Morgan.
“Alright, you want to do this?” Morgan nodded once and the two moved off towards the interrogation rooms.
“Don’t worry Hotch,” Spencer said and he scratched the kitten’s head. “We’ll get you out of this.” Hotch purred and rubbed his head against Spencer’s hand. When food was brought in about an hour later by JJ and Prentiss Hotch started mewling. It was Chinese which made Hotch meow even louder. When Spencer had dished out some General Tsao’s Chicken on a plate Hotch immediately pounced on it.
“Hotch,” Spencer yelped as he watched his food being eaten.
“You had to get his favorite Spencer.” JJ was laughing fairly hard at watching Hotch try to eat the large cubes of chicken. Of course, she shut up right away when he pounced on her plate trying to steal some noodles. He had a long piece on the table and instead of eating it Hotch started to play with it. By the time Spencer had snatched him up he was fully entwined in a Chow Mein noodle.
“Now I just think you’re messing with us.” Spencer held him up in his hands and looked right in his eyes. “Let’s clean you up.”
Hotch did not like the sound of that at all. He wriggled around to try and escaped the hands holding him. He cursed Spencer's nimble fingers as the younger man got a good hold of him.
"JJ, can you see if they have any Dawn in the little kitchenette?" Spencer asked.
Hotch cried out once as the younger man carried him out the door of the conference room, trying to block out the sound of the team laughing. He gave another wiggle but Spencer just pulled him closer to his body, trapping him even worse. He gave up again and resigned himself to his fate. He went limp in Spencer's hands. He didn't figure it would be that bad. It was going to be Spencer bathing him. Spencer was his favorite.
"Thanks, JJ," Spencer said as JJ followed him into the men's room and set the small bottle of dish soap on the edge of one of the sinks. Spencer set Hotch down inside the bowl of the same sink.
"I'd lock the door so that someone doesn't come in and he escapes."
"It's Hotch, he's not going to try and escape."
JJ laughed and left the room and Spencer eyed where he set the cat and frowned as he leaned over and locked the door. He'd never bathed a cat before. He knew the mechanics were similar to bathing anything but that a cat was sentient. This cat however used to be a person, was still a person in mind and bathing someone was a rather personal experience. Hotch's fur was matted with the Chow Mein sauce and his face had the spicy sauce from the chicken all over it. He looked utterly adorable trying to wash it off using his paws. Spencer watched him for a moment before moving back to him.
Hotch licked at his paw to get it wet and then rubbed it on his face then licked the paw clean and started the process over again. It was working but it was very slow going as the sauce was very thick. Spencer picked him up and set him on the back of the sink. He turned the knobs to try and get the water to a temperature that he thought wouldn't hurt Hotch's skin.
"Are you ready?" Spencer asked.
Hotch eyed the sink that had about an inch of water in it from where the water wasn't going down the drain as fast as it was coming out of the faucet. He reached out and batted at the water and jumped back at how it sprayed water all over him. Hotch hunkered down trying to make himself small. He knew that he shouldn't be afraid of the water but it felt so weird on his fur.
Spencer felt bad for him but they didn't need a sticky cat running around with them until they got Jones to give up how to turn him back. He wasn't letting his mind go elsewhere about what would happen if they didn't get him turned back. He wasn't letting himself think of Jack yet.
“Are you going to let me do this or are you going to fight?” Spencer held Hotch in one hand while he cupped a little water in the other. He then carefully dripped it along his back letting him get used to the warm wetness. Hotch protested. Loudly. Which of course made Spencer try to stifle a laugh, which made him lose his grip on the kitten who then landed in the puddle of water in the sink splashing Spencer fairly spectacularly. Hotch sat in the middle of the water with a stunned look on his face. He didn’t know quite what to do.
Spencer acted quickly by grabbing the Dawn and putting a little in his hand then gently held Hotch by the scruff of his neck and started to clean. Hotch hung there in his hand with an air of petulance about him. Spencer wondered if this was how Hotch felt bathing Jack when he was younger, wanting to laugh as the boy fought him with attitude if not trying to get away. Finally, he was rinsing and grabbed the soft cloth that JJ had left him when she brought the Dawn. He wrapped a traumatized Hotch up in the cloth and held him against his chest. He rubbed gently trying to dry him and settle him at the same time. He focused on Hotch's head first, carefully wiping around his eyes before going after his cheeks. Next was his belly. The kitten started to purr as he was rubbing the cloth all over his belly. When it was as dry as Hotch was going to allow him to do, Spencer started to rub the cloth along his back.
Hotch stretched up his chest so Spencer could get at his back easier as well as bump his now clean face on the underside of Spencer's chin. The genius couldn’t help the smile that crossed his lips as Hotch rubbed his head along Spencer’s cheek.
“I promise, we’ll figure this out.” Spencer sighed as Hotch curled up under his neck and purred. He worked the buttons on his vest open and checked the shirt underneath. Thankfully it was dry. He'd have to just swap the vest out. His pants were a little wet but nothing that he couldn't stand for the small amount of time it would take for them to dry. He reached over and unlocked the door, opening it but he didn't step out. He looked back towards where the holding cells were to make sure that no one was coming from that way. He was glad he waited as two officers came running past him.
Spencer ducked his head back into the bathroom and waited for them to pass. He watched them as they made their way into the conference room where the others were.
“Oh no, this isn’t good.” He held onto Hotch as he swiftly made his way into the conference room. When he got there everyone was talking at once. Morgan and Dave yelling at the officers that were trying to explain what happened. JJ and Prentiss were trying to get the guys to stop but were having no luck. The kitten in his arms shifted and then let out some ungodly screech that Spencer swore he'd only heard when he'd stepped on a cat once at a neighbor's house growing up. Every single eye in the room turned to look at Hotch and him and their mouths all snapped shut. Hotch dropped his butt down into Spencer's palm and just stared at them.
“Okay, what is going on?” Spencer walked fully in the room waiting for some explanation for what the hell was going on. The problem was no one wanted to speak-up. They knew that this news just might freak Spencer out and no one wanted to do that. Spencer’s temper could be righteous and this was one of those times that could possibly set him off. Finally, it was Morgan who braved the situation.
“Jones escaped.” Spencer’s eyes widened and he thanked every deity he could that when he felt his knees buckle that there was a chair underneath to catch him. He didn’t say anything, he couldn’t as his thoughts started pinging all over the place.
“Wha-what?” He finally managed to get out.
“We’ll find him Reid. I promise but Jones is gone. He escaped right out of the precinct. Seems someone decided to change out his cuffs from the spelled binding cuffs to normal ones and he vanished.” Hotch jumped out of Spencer’s vest and crossed the table getting as close to the officers as he could. Then he let them have it. He was letting his displeasure at their stupidity be known.
If it wasn't for the severity of the situation, Spencer knew that he'd be on the floor rolling back and forth while clutching his sides at the image of tiny kitten Hotch at the edge of the table hissing, spitting, and yowling at the two officers. The hair on his little kitten back was up as straight as it could be.
Dave was doing his best to keep himself under control when he looked at the two officers who were red in face with embarrassment.
“I would suggest you two going back out to Jones’s place and checking to see if he is there. If you have a caster on your team take them and this time keep the spelled cuffs on him.” Dave gave them his own glare and they quickly left to do as he suggested.
About an hour later, the officers came back empty handed. Jones was gone with no idea how to find him. The team minus Spencer went to the house to gather evidence and hopefully find Jones’s grimoire. Spencer sat back in one of the chairs with Hotch curled up in his arm asleep again and tried not to think the worst.
When everyone finally made it back into the station after hours of combing through Jones’s house they came back with very little information. They found a spellbook but not Jones’s personal grimoire. Prentiss took the book and wanted to study it to see if she could figure out the spell that could turn Hotch back.
“There’s nothing more we can do. Jones is gone in the wind. We’re going to have to just go back home and try to figure this out.”
“Who’s going to take care of Hotch?” Morgan was visibly shaken that they had failed to keep the sorcerer locked-up. He was furious and tried to keep check on his emotions. Dave smiled as he looked at Spencer holding a contented sleeping kitten.
“I think Hotch already chose who he wants to take care of him.”
“What? I, I can’t take care of a cat.”
“Kid, he practically mauled Morgan, and though we can get close, he hunches down into you. He chose you so that means you are going to have to take him with you.”
Spencer wanted to glare down at Hotch but when he looked at the tiny sleeping form in his hands his expression softened and he smiled to himself. When he took a moment to think about it he didn’t mind taking Hotch with him.
“Well then I’m going to need to go to a pet store and get a carrier and JJ we need to let the pilot know what happened so we don’t have any problems.” JJ smiled and said she was on it. Morgan agreed to take Reid to the pet store before it closed but they had to hurry because it was already getting late. Dave said he'd call Strauss to warn her as well.
Thankfully, the pet store was one that Spencer could take Hotch inside of. The kitten woke up just as Morgan was putting the SUV in park. Spencer watched as Hotch jolted awake and looked around his surroundings before he looked up at Spencer and seemed to relax in that single instance. As he got out of the vehicle, he lifted Hotch up to where he could climb onto his shoulder. He settled where he was leaning against Spencer's neck, touching as much skin as he could.
"I hope that Hotch remembers every single second of this because it would be a great big injustice if he doesn't remember himself cuddling up to people," Morgan said as he rounded the vehicle. The doors of the store were not automatic, given that animals were allowed inside, Spencer understood it.
"Hi!" One of the workers greeted as they entered. She thankfully didn't try and reach out and touch Hotch. "He's a cutie. What's his name?"
"Hotch," Spencer answered and watched as her face crinkled up in confusion. It was a really weird name for a cat but he wasn't going to tell her Aaron nor was he going to make up some cat friendly name for him. "I need at least a carrier for him."
"Okay, they are..." The worker stopped when she saw the guns on Spencer and Morgan's hips. Her eyes widened and Morgan pulled his badge out. "They are in aisle one."
"Thank you." Spencer looked up at the aisle listings and started in that direction. He wasn't paying attention to Hotch at all then he had claws digging into him and then no Hotch on his shoulder. He turned around to find Hotch hanging from a bit of stretchy string. He had what looked liked a stuffed bird in his mouth. Morgan was stopped dead just staring. The only thing that was keeping Hotch in the air was that the string was attached to a pole and that pole was rooted in a block of plastic. Spencer moved towards him to get him away from it but before he could he heard the snap of a picture.
"You know that Mama is going to be mad if she heard this story and I didn't have a picture."
"It's your head," Spencer said as he cupped Hotch from the bottom and lifted him up. He was greeted with a growl and the kitten trying to pull the small stuffed bird free to take with him. He almost backed off of Spencer's hand, only quick thinking on Spencer's part and Hotch letting go of the bird saved him from a tumble to the hard floor. "Why don't we find the carriers and then we can see about a toy to keep you entertained on the flight home?"
Morgan snorted and Spencer turned to glare at him.
"Why don't you find the dog section and get Clooney a few toys and maybe some treats?" Spencer asked. He forced an edge into his tone and watched as Morgan raised his hands before backing away. Hotch meowed at him and Spencer grabbed the toy from the shelf but he didn't let Hotch play with it. He marveled at how much Hotch was like himself but then seemed to have moments where he was acting purely like a kitten. The noodle incident and then the toy there. There was no trace of the spellwork used to turn him into a cat and since he was the only survivor, there was no way to go back over the victims. All of them had stayed in their animal form for a long time after their death only changing to a human body on the full moon. It's why it had taken so long to get the BAU out to work on the case as there was only a jump in dead animals before it was figured out that their bodies were staying transfigured after death.
There was a small bit of hope that Hotch would turn back with the full moon but Spencer wasn't holding to that. The moon held power over things that no longer were and Hotch was still alive. They would have to find Jones and he was in the wind and there was no way that the FBI would approve them for a man hunt across the country. The LEO’s and the local field office would be tasked with it. The BAU would help and do their own searching from the office. Short flights to places to check things out would be it. All the while, Hotch was going to be a kitten. Since it happened in the line of duty, he'd still get his normal pay plus a hazard bonus.
"Meow," Hotch called as he stretched up and butted his nose into Spencer's, trying to get his attention. Spencer looked down at him and he was graced with a lick of tongue on his cheek. Hotch was worried about him. Spencer rubbed their cheeks together and then bussed the top of Hotch's head. Morgan wasn't around so he could allow more familiarity with Hotch.
"I'm fine, Aaron. Just got lost in my head. Let's see if they have a carrier that you'll deign to be seen in." Spencer smiled. Hotch swatted at his face with claws retracted, pulling a laugh from him. "We don't know if you are going to get bigger but we can go with one you like for now and get a bigger one later if we need."
There was a big row of carriers and Spencer set Hotch down and let him move along them until he plopped down in front of one. Spencer fiddled with the latch until he had it open and Hotch crawled inside. He turned around in a circle before settling down in a ball in the middle of it. He started to purr to show that he liked it. Spencer picked it up and tipped it so that Hotch slid to the front and caught him with one hand and his chest. The glare he got was nowhere near the Hotchner glare but it still made him want to break out in a laugh but he didn't.
He started to make his way towards Morgan when he saw the row of collars. There were all kinds of styles and colors but what got him were the rows of small charms that could be attached. When he saw the little paisley colored tie charm he had to stop and stare. Putting the carrier down he picked-up the charm and held it out to Hotch.
“Meow.” Hotch batted at the little charm and sat up straighter in Spencer’s hand. He almost pulled off a prim look and Spencer would swear later that he actually stretched his neck up.
“You like that do you?” Spencer chuckled as he held onto the charm. “Well if you want to wear it we have to find a collar.” Spencer watched as Hotch eyed the choices with a very determined look. As Spencer passed by the rows nothing caught his eye till the very end. It was a dark blue from the ‘fashion’ line. Hotch reached out his little paw and started to bat at it. Spencer picked it up and looked at the label.
“Seriously? Only you would find the Armani collar.” Spencer couldn't quite tell but he thought Hotch had a very smug look on his face.
“Did you find one pretty boy?” Morgan asked as he stopped by them with a handful of things for Clooney. Spencer held up the collar and the charm for Morgan to see and the look on his face was priceless. "That'll look very nice on Hotch. I found a nice blanket that we can put in the carrier for Hotch so that he's not on hard plastic."
"Thanks." Spencer set the blanket inside the carrier and added the bird toy to the inside as well. Hotch eyed it eagerly. "We should probably get him some food and a set of dishes."
"Those are in the next aisle. Along with what looks like some nice canned food.” Morgan had put all of his items in a basket and led Spencer to the catfood aisle. Hotch was eyeing the cans rather dubiously and protested when Spencer picked out one that looked rather promising. He next grabbed a snack sized bag of dry food. Thinking about what else Hotch might need Spencer moved to the aisle with the kitty litter and found a small pan that was made to travel. It had a liner with the litter and a lid to dispose of it. He grabbed one of those and threw it in the basket. Hotch looked at the pan then looked up at Spencer almost as if to say I don’t think so. Spencer and Morgan both chuckled at the displeased look on the kitten’s face.
“Come on kid. I think you have enough of the basics for tonight and the plane ride home. Let’s get back and crash. I’m exhausted.”
“Yeah, it’s been an interesting day.” They got in line and Spencer was rather amused by the look Hotch was giving the check-out girl when she kept saying how cute he was. Spencer wasn’t sure if Hotch was annoyed or amused. They finished paying then hauled everything to the SUV and made their way back to the hotel. When the desk manager started to protest them bringing in an animal, Morgan quietly explained the situation and said that they would make sure Hotch didn’t ruin anything in the room. Finally after some haggling they hauled everything upstairs to their room.
Spencer was exhausted by the time he fell on the bed and finally felt comfortable enough to let Hotch go. He was falling asleep when he felt a paw batting at his nose.
“Meow.” Hotch was painfully kneading his chest but there was an anxiousness in his little body that had Reid trying to wake-up.
“What is it Hotch? I’m exhausted.”
“Meow, meow,” The anxiousness increased and Hotch’s little body was vibrating.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Spencer was now sitting up anxious himself trying to figure out what was wrong.
“Um Reid, I think he may have to go to the bathroom.”
“Mrrowr.” Hotch jumped off the bed, which almost gave Spencer a heart-attack, and he ran to the bathroom door. Sighing Spencer got up off the bed and grabbed the travel litter box and set it up under the open sink. Picking up the kitten Spencer set him in the box and waited.
Hotch pawed at the hard things under his paws and found he definitely did not like it at all.
“Mrowwwwwr.” He cried out and crawled out of the box without using it. He went to the toilet and rubbed his head against the cool smoothness of it trying to get Spencer’s attention.
“You’re kidding right?” Spencer was looking at him like he was nuts. When Hotch became more demanding Spencer let out a very put upon sigh, picked Hotch up and set him on the rim of the toilet seat. Finally Hotch got some relief but then he started slipping. His little paws were sliding on the slick surface and he was scrambling to try to keep ahold but unfortunately he had nothing his sharp little nails could hook onto and with a horrified expression he slipped into the toilet before Spencer could grab him. He let out a screech that had even Morgan running into the bathroom in a panic.
“What happened?” He looked at Spencer holding a dripping Hotch up by the scruff of his neck and he just lost it. He had been holding back all day but this, this hit his limit and Morgan fell on his butt as peals of laughter issued from his throat.
Spencer actually wanted to cuss him out till he looked over and saw the wide-eyed expression on Hotch’s tiny kitten face and he just couldn’t help it himself. This whole situation was utterly ridiculous and he finally let out the laughter he had been holding in all day. He set Hotch down on a towel so that he wouldn’t drop him. Then he fell next to Morgan laughing so hard he was holding his stomach. It didn’t help anything when a very indignant Hotch trotted over and shook his little body all over his laughing agents. Which of course made them laugh even harder. It took several long minutes for the two men to finally start to calm down.
Spencer was still laughing in starts and stops when tears started to fall down his face. Morgan looked over at his best friend and noticed that he was no longer laughing. The tears were real and Spencer was crying.
“Hey, Reid. What’s going on?” Morgan didn’t know quite what to do when he scooted closer to Spencer and just pulled the young man against him and let him purge his emotions. When it seemed he was finally spent, Morgan felt it safe to speak.
“Reid, what’s wrong?”
“What if I never get him back?” He asked more to himself than anyone else, he also hadn’t realized what he said.
“What do you mean Reid?” Hotch was watching Spencer and it broke his heart to see his favorite human crying. Mewling softly, he slowly walked over and crawled into Spencer’s lap and curled up trying to comfort him.
“We.” Reid wrapped a gentle hand around Hotch and scratched at the wet fur. “We were together and he wanted me to move in. I, I got scared and we fought and now, now I may not get a chance to fix this.”
“Reid, we’ll figure this out, okay?” Morgan didn’t want to ask a lot of questions at the moment he knew if he pressed too hard Reid would pull back inside himself and hold everything in. “We’ll get him back and you can fix things with Hotch.”
Spencer just picked the kitten up and held him close to his heart, not caring that he was still wet. Setting him on the bed Spencer slowly peeled out of his clothes and crawled into bed. Hotch crawled up and circled a few times on Spencer’s pillow then curled-up and fell asleep close to Spencer’s head.
When Spencer woke up the next morning he knew his sleep hadn't been restful. He reached out for Hotch but the kitten wasn't on the pillow anymore. He sat up and grabbed his glasses to look around. Morgan wasn't in the room either. He looked at the clock and saw that he'd slept in. His alarms hadn't gone off. He grabbed his phone and found that his alarms had been turned off. Next to the phone was a sheet of paper. Morgan was going out to get breakfast for the two of them and that the team was taking care of closing down the case and he only needed to worry about Hotch.
Looking around, Spencer saw that his go bag had been gotten into. His clothes were strewn all over the place. He got up, stiff from sleeping wrong and started to pick up his clothes. If he didn't know any better he'd say someone had been going through it. When he had it all packed again, he was missing two items. His vest that had got soaked the day before and a sock. He looked around but Hotch was nowhere to be found. He started to panic. The bathroom door was shut so he looked there but no kitten.
He closed his eyes and tried to imagine the room and where Hotch would go. Morgan would have never let him escape when he left that morning. He'd looked in the closet, under the beds, and behind the tv stand/dresser. Then he saw it in the corner, the carrier. Sticking out from it was a bit of fabric that was the same shade as his vest. He moved over and crouched in front of it. His vest was inside with Hotch curled up on top of it, dead asleep. Clutched in his paws was the missing sock as well. He looked adorable and Spencer didn't want to wake him so he left him there. He grabbed his shower kit and moved towards the bathroom so he could shower and get ready for the day.
After dressing, Spencer opened the bathroom door to find Morgan setting up food on the small table.
"Good morning. How long has Hotch laid claim to my vest?"
"I tried to get it back but after the first swipe I gave up. He woke me up going batshit with the sock," Morgan said as he handed over a cup of coffee. "He kept flinging it up into the air and scrambling to find it again. He got it up on the bed once and I now have bandages on both hands and my hip. He has some sharp claws."
"He was playing?" Spencer looked back at the carrier and the sleeping kitten within. Or had been sleeping kitten. Hotch was stretching with his back half still in the carrier and his front half touching the ground he was stretched out so much. When he was done he looked at the bed and took off at a run and jumped up onto the bed, nearly missing the top. His front paws caught in the bedspread and he hauled himself up. He stalked up to the pillow and then yowled while turning. Spencer was moving towards him before he got fully turned and he picked him up. As soon as he had Hotch up to his neck, the kitten started to purr.
Hotch didn't like waking up and Spencer not being where he had last seen him. He started to purr as soon as Spencer held him up to his head. Morgan looked worried but he didn't move closer or say a thing. Instead, Spencer moved with him over to the table where the smell of bacon, eggs, and potatoes was making his tummy growl in hunger. He meowed at Spencer and hoped that Morgan got enough for him as well.
"Hungry? Let's get you set up for food. Morgan, where are the bags with his food dish and food?"
Hotch pulled away from Spencer and looked him in the face. He was not going to eat the bag of food he'd bought and he really wasn't going to eat the wet food. He watched as Spencer pulled out the bowl and washed it. It was dried and set down with dry food inside. Hotch batted at the bowl until it tipped over. The dry food scattered everywhere and he ignored it, even though he wanted to bat the pieces around the floor.
"Maybe he wants the wet food," Morgan said as he sat down and started to eat his food. Hotch started towards him, not caring about not wanting to be touched by anyone but Spencer if it got him bacon. He sat at Morgan's feet and meowed and stretched up his leg letting his claws barely catch in the cloth of his pants. He'd learned while playing with the sock overnight how much he could bring out his claws and not catch what was under the cloth. "I think he wants the wet food."
Hotch sat down and glared at the dark skinned agent. He just stared until he felt Spencer's hand wrap around his belly and pick him up. He was set down in front of the bowl. Instead of the dry food, there was a mass of wet food that looked like the food he'd fed Jack as a baby except worse. He leaned over and smelled it and then looked at Spencer who was moving towards where Morgan was uncovering the boxed food. The younger man took a drink of his coffee and sat down. Hotch spared a glance at his bowl of food and then made a decision that he wasn't eating it if it was the last thing in the world.
He stared at Spencer and tried to figure out the best way to get what he wanted and that was bacon. He waited for Spencer to settle into the seat and crossed his leg over his other. That meant he was relaxed. He stalked around the room, trying not to catch the eye of either human. He made it around to Morgan's bed, which was closest to the table and crawled up it. He settled down with his butt in the air. Listening, he waited for the perfect time to strike.
"So...last night," Morgan started.
"I didn't mean for you to find out like that. That was another thing that Hotch and I fought about. I wasn't ready for it."
"You said Hotch wanted you to move in. How long have you two been...together?"
"A year. We celebrated a year together a month ago." Spencer had bacon in one hand and reached out for his coffee with the other. Hotch ducked his head down and prepared to launch. As soon as Spencer set his coffee down he jumped. He landed on Spencer's lap, right in the middle and grabbed the bacon from his stunned hand. He bound off the other side and landed with his prize in hand. "He always goes for the bacon. Always."
"It seems to me like he's choosing you, Reid. If he was upset, he wouldn't be like this with you."
Hotch settled down and started to chew on his bacon. He was so focused on it that he didn't see the hand going for him. At the first touch, he growled. He tried to sound as loud as he could and as menacing but the hand still gripped him and lifted him up. He found himself in Spencer's lap. The human didn't try and take the bacon from him and let go of him as soon as he was settled.
"He obviously was trying to butter you up to get food," Spencer said. He sighed and placed a napkin on his knee and set down a bits of scrambled egg. Hotch dove for them and started to eat. He watched as Spencer picked up the bacon and broke it into small pieces.
“I just got so scared. He offered me everything I've ever wanted and I kept wondering, why me?” He unconsciously scratched at Hotch’s head.
“You really have to ask that Spencer? I see you guys around each other and there’s a lot you have in common. I know he holds back a lot with everyone else but not you. I think, when this is over, you just need to tell him everything.” Morgan sat back and watched Spencer process and smiled at how careful and loving he was with Hotch. The kid doesn't even realize he's in love.
“I know. But, what if…” Morgan cut him off before he finished that thought.
“We’ll get him back.” Hotch tried to follow what was being said but his whole focus was on the food that Spencer kept supplying him with. When Hotch was finally done he sniffed the air and smelled the coffee that Spencer kept sipping. He looked between Morgan and Spencer and saw they weren’t paying attention to him when he leapt on top of the table and peered inside the coffee cup. He was hesitant for a moment but decided to try it anyway. He licked into the liquid and waited for the taste to settle. He knew what it should taste like but he wasn't sure it would still taste like that. He took another drink when the taste didn't make him want to run from it. He sat down and started to enjoy a drink. Spencer hadn't left a lot of the coffee in the cup so he had to lean down really far after a minute. He leaned over too far and him and the cup tumbled down.
"Hotch?" Spencer's voice sounded worried and he was picked up. He was pulled to the genius's chest and settled there. "You just live to get dirty don't you?"
"Meow," Hotch said. He stayed still while Spencer used a napkin to wipe off the little bit of coffee he'd gotten on his face.
"I swear that he's messing with me," Spencer said as he settled the kitten on his chest. He leaned down and grabbed the bag that held the collar and charm. Hotch sat up as soon as he saw it and held still for Spencer to wrap the collar around his neck and buckle it. When it was fastened he affixed the charm on the front. The kitten started to purr as soon as he pulled his hands away and rubbed his face against Spencer's.
"No, he's still Hotch, just with a few added impulses." An alert went off on Morgan's phone. "Team's done and will meet us at the airstrip. Strauss is calling for us to be pulled back, but from home we can track Jones to our heart's content as long as paperwork and cases came first.”
Morgan and Spencer, with Hotch in his carrier with stolen vest and sock, were the first on the jet. Hotch had yowled to get out and Spencer had made him promise to stay in the jet and if he went near the door, he was going back in the carrier. Spencer set himself up at the table with four chairs so he would have enough room to spread out. He had found a few tomes on magic in Hotch's bags that he hadn't read before. He'd been the one to pack up the room the older man had been using. Rossi had wanted a room to himself so he'd paid for a single, leaving Hotch alone. If things hadn't been like they were, Spencer would have taken advantage just to have someone hold him while he slept. In the aftermath of the fight, that's what Spencer missed most. Hotch's carrier was on the floor by the couch and he watched as the kitten drew out the sock from it and started to play with it. Once Spencer was sure that he was properly entertained, he went back to the books.
JJ and Prentiss were next to show up and they stopped dead in their tracks watching Hotch fling the sock in the air and catch it. JJ pulled out her phone and started to film it. The two women couldn’t help snickering watching their boss play with the sock. Rossi was dead last and just shook his head as he watched his best friend being utterly adorable.
“Are you keeping that for blackmail material?” Dave asked as he slipped into one of the four seaters.
“You know Pen will feel left out if we don’t get something to show her.” JJ snickered as Hotch tired out quickly and curling around the sock, falling asleep. Spencer looked down and gently picked him up and set him on the seat next to his and went back to reading. The pilot announced that they were taking off soon and everyone found seats. They all stayed near Spencer and Hotch, not wanting to let their boss out of any of their sights.
When it was announced that they were allowed to take off seat belts, the team crowded around Spencer and Hotch more. Twenty minutes into the flight and a bit of turbulence shook the jet and Hotch got jostled in his seat and he woke up. He picked up the sock in his mouth and moved over to the divider between seats and then up and over into Spencer's lap. The genius shifted the way he was holding the book he was reading and allowed the kitten to curl up in the dip made in his lap by his crossed legs.
"He seems to have adjusted well," Prentiss said as she watched him.
"He's refusing to use litter and eat cat food, wet or dry." Spencer didn't look up from the book. "And he stole a sock and one of my vests. I also think that half the time he is playing with me on some things he does."
"The collar is cute."
"Armani. He picked it out himself and I couldn't resist the charm." He started to scratch behind the head of the sleeping cat and the kitten spread out more, relaxing into his body. "Without knowing the exact words that Jones used, there is no way to break the spell. There are seventeen different human to animal transfiguration spells. The circle that he cast the spell in was generic, not tailored. It tells us nothing. Given that Hotch was transformed into a kitten knocks of seven of the spells. The final ten, there is no way to tell one from the other. It ranges from a simple transfiguration to a spell used in older times to find the one that loves you."
"What?" Morgan asked, a look of total confusion on his face.
"A long time ago village elders would use the spell on young men or women to help them find love. It wore off when love was declared. Hotch had it crossed out on the list of spells he had written on a piece of paper at the start of the book. I think he was using it as reference. It's from his personal library. He had all seventeen wrote down and notes." Spencer set the book down on the table. He felt a shift in his lap followed by a playful bite to his hand. Looking down, Hotch was on his back and his paws wrapped on either side of his hand. He braced for Hotch to kick with his back legs but instead his hand was pulled closer and instead of a bite or scratch, he felt a rough tongue on his hand. He tuned out the others as they discussed the various spells as Prentiss pulled the paper free from the book. He knew that while Hotch was good at magic, throughout his teen years it had been a point of contention in the family. It was the reason his father had hated him, the cause of all the family issues as his mother had never disclosed that she had magic. She didn't like to use it at all but she still had it. Sean had been born normal human so he was the beloved son. It was the main reason Hotch had been sent to boarding school. To train him to use his magic and to make sure no one knew he had it.
Hotch proceeded to lick clean his already clean hand and Spencer just watched him.
"Earth to Pretty Boy," Morgan said loudly. Spencer looked up to see the team looking at him.
"Sorry. What was the question?"
"You said that Hotch crossed out the spell as one that Jones would use. Why?" Morgan asked.
"He doesn't say."
"How are we sure that wasn't the spell?" The dark skinned agent's eyebrow lifted.
"Jones is a psychopath. Love is outside the realm of his knowledge and why would he even look up a love spell? This book of Hotch's is handwritten. It was passed down through his family line." Prentiss opened the pages of the book and showed them all the care that had gone into keeping it intact over the years.
"His mother's grandmother. I recognize the writing from other books that Hotch has let me read."
"The chances that is another book like this out there is rare. Even though magic is mainstream now, it's taught at home for the most part," Prentiss said with a wane smile. "Schools are rare and expensive. Jones was probably taught at home and the only place that a book like this would exist is in one of the better schools and he's never gone near one that Garcia can tell. A love spell is something that he'd never look up and he'd never use it because he can't understand it."
“I agree. Jones pathology can’t understand love so I agree with Prentiss that he wouldn’t go that route.” Dave eyed Hotch cleaning Reid’s hand and began to wonder why Hotch only let Reid near him. He wondered if something had been going on between the two but he wasn’t going to ask at the moment.
Morgan kept his thoughts to himself. He knew in this argument he wasn’t going to win but he had a gut feeling that he was right. That the only way for them to get Hotch back was for Reid to admit his feelings for their boss. He considered for a moment and wondered what it was that he could do to help the genius along. He watched as Reid jumped in the chair and followed the younger man's gaze down to the kitten and saw that he'd been bitten. As soon as Reid's eyes were focused on Hotch again, the licks picked up. Hotch was jealous that the genius hadn't been paying attention to him. Morgan turned to look at Rossi and found the expression on his face and knew that the older man was seeing what he was seeing. They just needed to get Reid to see it.
It wasn’t long before they were landing and the whole team helped with getting Hotch and all of his and Reid’s bags out to Hotch’s car. Reid had driven in with Hotch the day of the case thankfully so he only had one car to worry about. Jack was with Jessica and he didn't know what to do about that. He knew that he needed to call her but she was indifferent to him. He liked her but she didn't seem to like him too much. Hotch called it jealousy but Spencer wasn't too sure.
He was grateful that Morgan had decided to follow him to help him up to his apartment with all of the things from the pet store as well as their go bags. Once he was finally in his apartment, he put Hotch’s carrier down and let him out.
“Meow.” Hotch rubbed against Spencer’s legs as soon as he was let out of the carrier. He was getting more and more used to how this little body worked and rubbing against Spencer was his favorite thing.
“I think he more than likes you Reid.” Morgan smiled as the kitten purred and bumped against Reid. Carefully the genius wrapped his hand around Hotch’s belly and picked him up.
“That was never our problem,” Reid said as he scratched Hotch’s head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why I couldn’t be happy with where we were going. I mean I was and I know I care about him. I just, I don’t know what to do Morgan.” He looked up at his best friend with misery in his eyes.
“Well maybe you need to figure out what you feel and when we get bossman back you can tell him.” Morgan wanted to thump Reid on the back of the head but he knew he needed to have patience. “I’m going to go now, but if you need anything Spencer you just call me. Okay?”
“Thanks Morgan. I think we’ll be fine.”
"Just keep the option open."
As soon as the door was shut, Spencer toed off his shoes so that he could start to relax some. He worked on getting things set up for Hotch, including setting up a bowl of water so that he could drink when he wanted. He'd need to think on the bathroom issue. He wasn't looking forward to fishing him out of the toilet every single time he had to use it. Especially since he knew that Strauss would give them a day or two to get used to this but not any longer before he'd be called on a case and he needed a way to make sure that Hotch had what he needed when he was gone. Working from the office wasn't going to be a big deal. He could slip out early. He was usually done with casework first anyway and kept himself busy with other things.
Once the kitchen was set up, he looked around and found that Hotch wasn't in the living room anymore and he couldn't hear him at all. He looked around to make sure he hadn't fallen asleep in a weird place, checking the carrier and behind his books before he moved to the bedroom to find Hotch playing with the sock on his bed. The team had been called to the case in the middle of the night so the bed had been unmade and Hotch was taking full advantage of the loose blankets. When Spencer entered the room, the sock was on one side of a lump of blankets with Hotch on the other. His head down and his butt in the air, wiggling it back and forth before he jumped over the lump and pounced on the sock. He overshot a little and ended up on the floor, taking the sock with him. Spencer was half way across the room before Hotch jumped back up with sock in mouth and was looking like he meant to do it. Shaking his head, Spencer picked up the kitten and sat down on the edge of the bed scratching his head.
“What am I going to do with you?” He couldn’t help the smile that came unbidden as he cuddled Hotch in his arms. The solution to the litter box problem came to him as he sat there letting his mind drift. Putting Hotch down he got up, grabbed his keys and wallet, turned to make sure Hotch was okay as he started out the door.
“I’ll be back in a short while. Please don’t destroy anything?” All Spencer got was what he clearly heard as a huff then a sharp meow. He felt like he had just been scolded but instead of being offended, he chuckled under his breath. Shaking his head, he was out the door and headed for his car.
Just before he pulled out, he wondered exactly where he needed to go. He'd never bought anything like it and he wasn't going to call Garcia as that would raise too many questions. Then he thought of JJ. She would probably know best. He texted her hoping that she wouldn't think too much of the question. Luckily she didn’t take long to answer when he got a text back telling him the best place to look was Babies ‘r Us.
Coming back about an hour later with his new acquisition in his arms, he entered his apartment and set his package down before looking for Hotch. Spencer found him curled up in bed with the sock in his paws fast asleep. Shaking his head, he took his phone out of his pocket and snapped a picture.
Going back to the living room he took his package into the bathroom and quickly got it set-up in-between his sink and toilet. It looked totally out of place but was kind of cute on it's own. Spencer went and picked-up Hotch and brought him back to the bathroom.
“Now Hotch. I don’t want to have to fish you out of the toilet and you won’t use the litter so, how about a compromise?” Spencer lowered Hotch into the kids portable potty trainer and hoped to hell he liked it. The kitten moved around and sniffed at the potty. He climbed out easy and it was small enough that he could use it like he wanted to use a real toilet. He climbed back in and quickly did his business then climbed back out. He rubbed his face and neck around the side hoping to convey that he liked it.
“Thank god.” Spencer was relieved and it finally seemed that he had everything Hotch would need as a kitten. Now he was exhausted. All he wanted to do was to lay down and take a nap. He decided to settle into his chair and read for a little to relax and then he'd work on dinner.
Spencer woke up an hour later and was greeted by a purring Hotch who was curled on his chest. Spencer's hand was tangled in his fur and he was unconsciously rubbing. A beep sounded from where Hotch's go bag was. He moved over to it, with Hotch curled in the crook of his arm, and dug until he found Hotch's phone. He unlocked it and found a message from Jessica about how the case was going. Spencer sighed and moved to his phone. He dialed Jessica's number from memory. The conversation went better than he thought it was going to go but she was worried. Spencer was worried. He had no clue what to tell Jack. Jessica had no clue what to tell Jack and Hotch was going to be no help.
The kitten in question wiggled and jumped down out of his hands. Spencer watched him take off for the laptop sitting on his desk. He'd left it open the night before the case. Hotch poked at the keys and nothing happened. The kitten looked back at him and poked at the keys more. Spencer still just stared at him and Hotch reacted by putting his entire body on the keys and jumping up and down a few times. Finally, Spencer moved over and pushed the power button. He was really interested in seeing where this was going.
Hotch cried out in happiness as Spencer finally turned on the laptop. He moved off the keyboard and waited patiently. Spencer wasn’t sure what Hotch wanted but he brought up his word processing program, stood back and waited to see what Hotch was going to do.
Trying not to wiggle in excitement Hotch carefully stepped on the keyboard and started to tap on the keys. While not completely legible one thing did become clear, Hotch had typed out J$ck, which Spencer quickly figured out was Jack.
“You want Jack?” Spencer asked as he sat in the desk chair in front of his computer. He wasn't sure what he wanted when it came to Jack. He'd never been alone with the boy for more than the time it took Hotch to go and get dinner on the nights they didn't cook. It wasn't like Hotch would be able to help if Jack started to act up and given that his father was a cat, even Jack was bound to act up a little. But he couldn't deny Hotch a single thing that he wanted. "I can call Jessica back."
Hotch sat on the edge of the desk and Spencer would swear that his eyes held a look of hopefulness.
“Mrwor,” Hotch tapped out the name again as best he could and Spencer figured that he really needed his son. Picking up his phone he dialed Jessica back.
“Hi Jessica, sorry to bother you again but Hotch, well, he wants Jack here.”
“Okay, um I thought he wasn’t himself?” Jessica asked.
“Jack is right there isn’t he?” Spencer easily surmised.
“Yes. How should we tell him?” Spencer looked down at Hotch who he would swear had a look of frustration on his face.
“I think seeing will be better than just telling him. Jessica, I think Hotch is more scared than he’s letting on and I think he needs Jack. Of course, I’m just guessing but he typed out Jack’s name on the computer asking for him.” Spencer reached over and lightly scratched Hotch’s head who purred softly under the hand. He'd break it to the boy and it would help settle his own nerves on dealing with the boy. He could do this. He had to do this.
“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ll stop by Aaron’s house and get several sets of clothes and Jack’s bookbag and a few other things. Would you like me to pick-up dinner so you don’t have to cook?” Jessica at least sounded like she was in good spirits about the whole thing.
Spencer let out a sigh of relief. Though he normally enjoyed cooking the last couple of days had taken their toll so take-out was fine with him.
“That sounds great. The pizza place right around the corner from me has a family special that I think will be perfect. I’ll call it in and they’ll have it ready by the time you get here. And, thanks Jessica.” They talked for another minute before hanging up. He was thankful that he didn’t have to argue or debate with the woman. Spencer picked Hotch up and held him close to his chest scratching those spots he had learned that Hotch liked to be scratched. After a moment, he put the kitten on the floor and called the pizza restaurant and order the extra large pizza with spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and a 2-litre pop. He figured it could feed himself and Jack for a couple of days.
While waiting for Jessica, Spencer cleaned out his go bag and repacked it. Sorted laundry to get it ready for the next day and did small little domestic things around the house, all with Hotch following him everywhere. Spencer just chuckled as he pulled clean sheets, a blanket, and some spare pillows from his closet. His couch pulled out to a double bed which would be perfect for Jack. It was pretty comfortable and he had just replaced the mattress with a new one. He also had a topper if Jack needed something a little more supportive. He was done with all the small chores when there was a knock on his front door. He went to answer it with Hotch bouncing right behind him.
He opened it and was immediately assaulted by the boy who wrapped his arms around his waist.
“Spencer!” Jack sounded so happy to see him it caught him off guard for a moment.
“Jack, let's get your things inside, okay?” Jessica shook her head as she watched the boy. Spencer reached out and took the very large pizza box from her then settled it and the other food on the counter.
“Do you want to stay for dinner Jessica? There is more than enough.”
“No, actually this worked out perfect as I have been called away on a project for my job. My boss wants me to do some training for a position they need filled right away but it’s actually in Chicago. I’ll be gone a week. If you get a case, Mrs. Anders is the secondary sitter who Aaron has already vetted.”
“Congratulations. I hope it works out for you Jessica.” Hotch bounced over and rubbed himself on her leg trying to tell her that he was proud of her. He wished he could do more to convey just what she meant and how much he appreciated her.
“Thank you Spencer. I packed two weeks worth of clothes for him. Here’s his computer, game boy and some books that I know he’s been wanting to read. He has his backpack for school. Here’s the key to Aaron’s and the alarm code, which you might already know. But if you need anything I’m sure you’ll be fine.” She smiled at him then bent down to scratch Hotch on the head. Jessica hugged Jack close and said she would see him soon.
As soon as she left Spencer sat on the floor and Hotch crawled into his lap, waiting, to see what Spencer was going to do.
“Jack, come here please I have something I need to talk to you about.”
“Where’s Dad, Uncle Spencer?” Jack asked as he sat down cross legged on the floor.
“Jack, you know how your Dad is a really powerful spellcaster?”
“Yeah. He even had me tested at the Magician’s Institute last year. They told me I scored pretty high. I can’t go till I’m ten though.”
“He told me. He is so proud of you Jack. But, I need you to listen to me and not freak out, okay?”
Jack frowned as he settled more next to Spencer. “Okay.”
“Something happened on our last case and, well, Jack, this is your Dad.” Spencer laid a hand on the kitten's back and stroked him.
“That’s Dad?” Jack asked wide eyed as he stared at the kitten. Hotch jumped out of Spencer’s lap and went to Jack. He laid against the boy’s stomach and rubbed his head against him. “Dad?” Jack looked down at the kitten who started purring when he said Dad. Jack picked him up and held him close then got a big mischievous smile on his face.
“This is so cool.” Jack stood and nuzzled the kitten who meowed at the boy.
Spencer laughed as he watched the two and just shook his head. Jack had been through so much yet he showed his resilience all the time. Why he was worried he didn’t know. Seemed that even though he was a cat, Hotch still knew his son so well.
“Okay, why don’t you put your Dad down and we can eat.”
“Okay Uncle Spencer.” Jack put Hotch back on the ground and ran to the bathroom to clean-up to eat. When he came back out he had a serious look on his face. “Uncle Spencer?”
“You will get Dad back, right?”
Spencer got down on his knees and looked Jack in the eye, “Yes Jack, we are going to do everything we can to fix this. I promise.”
“I know, but I didn’t mean that.”
Spencer frowned as put a hand on Jack’s shoulder, “What did you mean Jack?”
“You’re boyfriends right?”
Spencer was not prepared for that. He knew he had spent a lot of time at Aaron’s and they had been dating but he didn’t realize that Jack was so aware of their relationship.
“Um, I, I think so.”
“You thought I was asleep on the couch when you and Dad fought. Do you not want us Spencer?”
Spencer closed his eyes as he sat back on his heels. He watched Jack’s face for a moment and understood right then that he wouldn’t have been giving up anything. He’d be gaining the family he had craved for so long. He smiled as he laid a hand on Jack’s heart and looked him in the eye.
“Yes, Jack. I want you and your Dad but not till he’s himself and we can talk, as a family.” Spencer hoped that what he said was what Hotch wanted as well and not just said that night. He looked down to see Hotch rubbing against his leg and wondered how much he understood.
Standing up he took Jack’s hand and they went to the small kitchen where Spencer dished them up some food. He took one of the meatballs and smashed it up then cut up some of the noodles and put it in a dish next to another dish of fresh bottled water.
“Because I know you won’t eat the cat food.” Spencer stood and laughed at how Hotch pranced in the kitchen and plopped on his butt then bent his head to sniff at the food in the bowl. Purring he bent his head and started to eat. Spencer bent and stroked along Hotch’s back then stood and went back to his own food.
The rest of the evening went swiftly and Jack was falling asleep. Spencer got the sofa bed pulled out for him and after getting him settled in, with Hotch curled on his chest, Spencer couldn’t help it, he grabbed his phone and took a picture. A few minutes later he was crawling into bed himself and fell into a fitful sleep. His thoughts plagued with worry about how they were going to get Hotch back to himself. It wasn’t just for himself, or the team but Jack needed his father and Spencer was determined on finding the unsub and reversing the spell, hopefully in time. Spencer had a feeling that if they didn’t find it soon, they may not get Hotch back. He didn’t want to think those thoughts and tried to push them out of his mind as he once again tried to fall asleep.
“YEAHHHHHH,” Spencer was startled awake as he felt sharp kitten teeth bite down on his toes. “What the hell Hotch,” he growled as the kitten kept attacking the toes that were sticking out from underneath the bedcovers. The kitten was backing up then pouncing on the long digits, teeth gnawing as sharp little claws dug into his foot. Hotch was about to pounce once more when Spencer grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and held him up.
“Stop biting my toes. That hurts.” Spencer glared at Hotch who just reached his front paws out for him and purred. “You are a terrible, mischievous, hellion, you know that?” Spencer couldn’t help the tiny smile that formed at the corners of his mouth as the kitten was curled up while hanging in Spencer’s hand still by the scruff. Shaking his head he finally put the cat down. “Look, I have two more hours, let me go back to sleep. Just because you are a freak that likes to run at 5 am every morning does not mean that everyone else is. Now go back to sleep.” Spencer buried himself back under the covers and Hotch just pawed at the covers trying to nuzzle up to him.
“What?” Hotch kept purring and patting at the covers. Spencer sighed then lifted the covers to see if that was what Hotch wanted. The kitten jumped forward then wiggled his little body down underneath till he was flush against Spencer’s stomach. Spencer laughed and shook his head as he laid a hand on Hotch’s back scratching at the fur. The purring against his stomach lulled him back to sleep.
When he finally woke up for the day, Hotch was still curled into a ball, flush against his stomach. He allowed himself a few minutes to just relax. His body ached to have Hotch wrapped around him. He sighed and slipped from the bed. He wanted a shower and a chance to let go. With Jack in the living room, Spencer knew his shower needed to be quick. If there were tears mixed with the water as it fell on his face, no one else needed to know.
Breakfast was easy. He had hash browns in the freezer, eggs, and bread. Hotch made oatmeal but Spencer thought that maybe a reminder of his father wasn't a good thing and he wasn't sure that he could make himself eat it if he made it. There was a can of just add water grape juice in the freezer. It wasn't the best but it would do for them. He'd make sure to stop at the store and pick up things for the three of them to eat. While the hash browns were slowly cooking on the stove, he moved to his computer and booted it up. He needed to figure out if there was anything that he needed to make sure not to feed Hotch. While he might have the mind of a human, his body was a cat and didn't need a vet visit with a sobbing Jack. He'd probably be sobbing too.
When he could smell the hash browns, he moved back to the stove and turned them, adding a little more butter as he did. He turned the fire on under the burner with the pan for the eggs as well as dropping in bread into the toaster. He had one of the four slice ones as there were times that he could only stomach toast during his headaches. Spencer stopped and stared at the toaster. He hadn't realized that his headaches weren't that bad and hadn't been in a long time. He'd had a few flare ups but nothing as bad as the one on the case in Florida. They'd started to decrease in number and frequency when he and Hotch had got together.
The sound of movement on the couch had Spencer looking at the pan for the eggs. Jack liked his scrambled with cheese and while Spencer had never had them like that before Hotch had made them that way once for a breakfast for dinner meal, he found he liked them that way as well. Moving to the fridge, he found his block of cheese and found that there was just enough left. He cut the cheese into chunks and prepared to crack the eggs into the bowl. When he had what he hoped was enough in the bowl he whisked them up with a fork. Jack rolled over on the pull out bed and settled again. The coffee pot kicked on and Spencer moved to prepare his cup for his first drink.
There was a pitcher in his cabinets and he popped open the frozen juice and let it slid out into the pitcher before adding a little bit of hot water to it, enough to get it working on unfreezing before he filled it the rest of the way with some water and then ice to make sure it was nice and cold for Jack. He slipped that in the fridge. He grabbed the bacon in the fridge. It was one of Hotch's favorite breakfasts and no one on the team had eaten anything that came from a pig for a while after the case in Canada. Spencer had been the only one to regularly eat it after and he was fairly certain that his own love of bacon was what had reawakened Hotch's. He added the bacon to the third pan that he'd had warming slowly on the third burner. The smell of bacon was what he hoped would wake up Jack because he didn't want to face the monster that was the boy when he needed to wake up and didn't want to.
The smell of bacon started to fill the kitchen and Spencer found that the coffee was done. He poured himself his first cup before pouring the eggs and cheese into the pan. He looked at the time. There was plenty of time before Jack had to be up. The school was on his way into the office so he wouldn't have to go out of his way and add time to the commute. He stirred the eggs and checked the hash browns before settling with his back to the counter and looked at Jack. The boy was sprawled on his back with his mouth wide open. The blanket twisted around his body.
There was a soft sound that Spencer couldn't place and then he felt sharp claws. He looked down at his leg to see Hotch climbing his slacks. He set down his coffee and reached down. As soon as his hand surrounded Hotch's little body, he retracted his claws.
"Good morning." Spencer lifted him up to nuzzle his face but little claws on his cheeks stopped him from pulling away. Hotch licked at the tip of his nose before allowing himself to be pulled away. Spencer lifted him to place a kiss on his little forehead before shifting him to his shoulder. Hotch settled in with only a little hint of claws on his skin. He laughed as he felt him stretch to where his two sets of legs were draped on his front and back and his little stomach was on his shoulder.
He checked on the food as he heard muffled grunts from Jack. Hotch started to purr as he lifted his hand with his coffee cup in it and took a sip. The purr stopped and a growl started as he lowered the cup. He raised it back up to let Hotch take a few laps of it before lowering it back down so that he could hold the pan handle with one hand and take care of the hash browns. They were a few minutes away from done so he flicked on the oven to one hundred degrees to keep the food warm while Jack finished waking up. He had ten minutes before Spencer had to forcibly wake him.
Just as the bacon and eggs were done and the toast popped up, Jack rolled off the bed. He didn't figure they needed more than two slices each. If Hotch ate a piece toast, he'd be full so Spencer just tore off a piece of his and held it up for Hotch to eat. The kitten didn't even shift positions, just draped there and ate it. He laughed as he dished up a large portion on his plate and child sized one on Jack's plate. The food dish was still empty but dirty. So he just put a little extra on his own plate and slipped Hotch from his shoulder as he set him down on his chair, holding out a finger to tell him to stay.
Hotch plopped his butt down on the chair and Spencer was fairly certain a pout was on his face. Spencer filled a glass of juice for Jack and set it down before taking the two plates and setting them down. The little plate with the buttered toast was next. Jack sat down in his chair as Spencer moved back to the table. He set his coffee cup down and then picked up Hotch and placing him on his lap, crossing his legs so the kitten could climb up to his knee. Spencer pulled the mug closer so Hotch could drink before he started to eat. Jack drank half of his juice before he even took a bite of his food but once he started, he dug in with a healthy appetite. Once Jack had grabbed his two pieces of toast, Spencer pulled the plate closer. He tore up a quarter of the toast and dropped it on the plate. He dropped some egg and then hash browns down and broke up two pieces of bacon. Hotch stretched across to the table and started to eat. Spencer dug into his own food.
"Did you sleep okay, Jack?"
"I slept fine, Spencer. When did Dad leave me?"
"About three hours ago. He decided to try and wake me up by attacking my toes."
"He has moments of acting like he normally does and then bursts of acting like a kitten. Toe and sock attacking included."
Jack smiled and stared at the kitten for a few seconds before he tucked back into his meal. Spencer looked at Hotch and saw he was eating everything except the bacon. Spencer kept a close eye as he finished eating. Hotch had finished all but the bacon, worried, Spencer picked him up. Jack finished his juice and pushed away from the table. He waited until the boy was out if the room before he brought Hotch up to eye level.
"Do you not want bacon?" Spencer picked up a piece and Hotch took it from his fingers. The kitten devoured the piece and looked at him for more. Spencer placed him back down on his knee and started to hand feed him pieces. He pulled his phone out and texted Morgan that he was going to drive himself into work. He had Hotch's car which was better equipped for Jack. He got back an affirmative from Morgan then looked at Hotch. He had no clue what to do about him. He couldn't take him into the office and someone needed to feed him lunch. He didn't want to leave food out for him. A nip on his finger drew his gaze back. Hotch licked at his slightly greasy fingers, cleaning them. Spencer laughed and figured that he'd pop home at lunch to reheat what was left of the spaghetti for him.
Twenty minutes later, Spencer had Jack all ready to go. He still had his own things to pack up so when he left his bedroom to find Hotch sitting in his carrier, waiting, he knew there was going to be a problem. Laying his messenger bag on the couch, Spencer pulled Hotch out.
"No, Hotch. You can't go in with me. I need to be able to focus to work and you are nothing but trouble. You'll be under foot and I don't want you getting stepped on. A wound that would kill a kitten will kill you. If we start to get stuck, I promise I'll come back and get you."
Hotch drooped in his hands. Spencer hated it but part of getting Hotch back was making sure he wasn't hurt. Spencer set him down on the back of the couch and turned the TV onto the history channel. It was Hotch's go to background noise TV station. Hotch cried out for him as he bundled himself into his coat before helping Jack into his. There was just a bit of a chill to the air.
Aaron glared as Spencer ignored his cries. The genius was busy with Jack so he was more than tempted to jump at him but he didn't want to hurt him. He turned to look at the TV glaring at it. Then he saw the bag. Smiling to himself he jumped down onto the couch cushions and quickly made his way into the opening if the bag. There thankfully, was little in there that could hurt him. He'd never looked inside of the bag before. If there was something one didn't do, it was get into the messenger bag. Hotch curled into the corner that hung close to Spencer's hip instead of his front and hoped he wasn't found. When he encountered something super soft, he licked at it. He almost started to spit as the taste on it was horrid.
Then the flap on the bag was lifted. Hotch tried to make himself as small as possible so he wasn't seen.
"Hotch, we are going. Hotch?" Spencer slid a book down into the bag and then closed the flap but not before Hotch saw the soft thing. It was a tie. And not just any tie, it was a tie that he had been missing for two years.
It had been a case in a small town and the team had been forced to share rooms. Aaron had shared with Spencer while the girls had shared. Thankfully Dave and Morgan were able to get rooms to themselves. Spencer hadn't looked happy at the prospect of sharing with Morgan, so Aaron had offered.
"Where's Dad?" Jack asked. Aaron curled his tail around his body and moved to where he could take the tie in his mouth, not caring about damaging it. If it stopped him from crying out he could destroy it. The bag shifted and Aaron tried to shift around to where the book wasn't going to hurt him. Thankfully, Spencer shifted the bag to where it was across his side and not to where it would bounce on his leg.
"I think that he's upset that he's not going. Let's just leave so that he can't escape."
Aaron was finding that his idea was a horrible one about the time that the elevator opened and Spencer started to move towards the car. He didn't realize exactly how quick Spencer moved. Then he was being lifted up and then dropped onto the back seat.
"Can I sit upfront?"
"Umm..." Spencer paused and Aaron hoped that Spencer let him. He usually rode up front when Aaron took him to school. The only mornings that he didn't was when Spencer rode with them. "Sure."
The sound of doors opening and then closing, followed by the click of seatbelts told Aaron that they would get ready to do. The only times that Aaron remembered Spencer driving was on cases and usually when chasing an UnSub so it wasn't a good way to figure out exactly what his driving was going to be like. He'd drove the night before but it had been an exaggerated overly cautious type of driving that told Aaron he had a lot of things on his mind. This morning he probably had just as much but there was a time constraint.
"What am I going to do after school?"
"Agent Anderson is going to pick you up and bring you to the office, where you'll do your school work in your dad's office. I remember the newsletter from your teacher that a big science project is coming up. I think that it'll be a good time to start it and depending on what is involved you might be able to finish it. The team is grounded until your Dad is back to normal unless something really big comes up so until he comes back or Jessica does, you'll come to the office every day after school."
"Yeah, it is cool isn't it? Maybe you can talk Uncle Derek into taking you with him when he goes and works with trainees."
"When does he do that?"
"Every afternoon that he can so you'll have a good chance of having him take you this afternoon."
"Yay!" Jack sounded happy and Aaron knew that Spencer was a better parental figure than he thought. He knew it was part of what was holding the genius back from taking the next new steps. He'd hoped that moving in together would get the younger man to relax in a lot of ways.
"Yeah. Just don't even try and get me to go as well. I ended up with a bloody nose the last time."
"I remember that. Dad made you sit on the couch with a bag of peas on your face while he cooked dinner."
"He was afraid of a concussion and I wouldn't go to the medics to get checked out. Said I was being stubborn. He wouldn't let me go home that night either."
"No, but I like it when you stay the night."
The sound of shifting happened and Aaron wanted to see what it was but he couldn't. The bag was upright and he was afraid of toppling it over if he stretched up to see. Or Spencer would see him in the rear view mirror. The entire back window could be seen but so could most of the seat. Aaron had it that way because of Jack and he knew that Spencer wouldn't have changed the angle of the mirror. He didn't need to nor did he ever want to.
"I like when I stay the night as well," Spencer admitted and Aaron felt his heart swell at it. Even though the whole mechanics of getting changed into a kitten was horrible, there might just be a silver lining to all of it, if it helped Spencer to get over his fear. The rest of the ride was silent as he heard the sound of turning pages. Jack had to be reading. He did it a lot on the way to school. Aaron felt the warmth of the bag start to get to be too much so he carefully moved to the side of the bag that hopefully was blocked by Spencer's own seat. He pulled the edge of the bag down and was treated with a stream of fresh air. The car stopping had him letting go. He hunkered down into the middle of the bag and then the sound of both doors opening told him that Spencer was getting out as well. He heard the chirp of the alarm. Now was a good time to knock the bag over. Spencer would push it off as it had happened when he'd stopped, hopefully.
Aaron peeked his head out of the bag and breathed. The bag shifted and he traveled with it as it went over. He thankfully wasn't thrown out of it and just laid there with his nose poked out of the top until he heard the chirp of the alarm.
Spencer got into the driver's seat again and instead of going automatically, he let the car idle. Aaron could barely hear the sounds of his phone dialling. Then he heard the chirp of the bluetooth speaker.
"Anderson," the agent called out over the phone's speaker.
"It's Reid. I need a few favors from you today."
"Strauss said that I'd be at your team's beck and call but wouldn't tell me what it was about."
"Hotch was turned into a cat on the last case. We lost the unsub due to someone taking off his magic suppression cuffs and changing them out. The local office is looking into whether it was an accident or it was on purpose but now we have to try and track the unsub who is in the wind as well as try and get Hotch changed back. I need you to research all the spells that Prentiss will be emailing you. Everything that you can get your hands on at the Library of Congress."
"I can do that. What are you going to be doing?"
"Going over the magic books in Hotch's office. I've read everything he has at home. There is another bigger favor that I need. Jack gets off school at two forty five today. I have you down as his pick up. They have your badge number and a picture of you. Flash those and they will gladly send Jack with you. Bring him back to the office I figure that if timed just right you should be finished at the library just in time to pick him up."
"I see. I'll make sure to set an alarm on my phone. Anything else?"
"Where is Hotch?"
"Sulking at being left at home to watch the History Channel."
"I do not envy you right now, Reid. I'm shocked you got him to stay there."
"So am I."
"If you need anything else just call or text."
"I will." The beep said that the call had been disconnected. Aaron pulled his body back into the bag until it got too hot inside it again. He really regretted hiding like he had because not being able to see where they were going was upsetting his stomach and he really didn't want to puke inside of Spencer's bag. Instead, he moved towards the tie again and curled around it. He recognized the smell of his own cologne now that he wasn't trying to lick the tie. He wondered exactly how it still smelled like his cologne after two years and why exactly Spencer was still carrying it around.
Aaron knew exactly when they turned onto the highway and smiled. He should be able to get a little bit of a nap in. Even though he'd slept through most of the night, he was tired. He settled on top of the book and let himself drift to sleep.
A rude awakening happened when Aaron's world tipped onto his side. He kept his mouth closed as he his little voice tried to cry out and thankfully when a noise did escape him, the door slammed shut at the same time. The book shifted more and he was under it as it turned to try and lay flat at the bottom of the bag. Aaron slipped out from under it, digging his claws into the fabric to pull himself out from under it. When the book lay almost flat, he easily moved to the top of it using it kind of like a magic carpet to stay above everything in the bag. The bag only stopped when Spencer went through the metal detector. The bag was scanned by the machine that detects metal bombs, poisons, and such but given that Spencer carried the same bag into work daily, he knew that the guard never really paid attention to the actual x-ray of the bag.
The bag was picked up again the the book shifted to lay spine down in the bag. Aaron tried to ride it but ended up sandwiched between pages of the book. The tie was starting to get on his nerves as it was trying to make his tail itch and seemingly choke him at the same time. He tried to shove it away but he must have been in the middle of it because there was so much still around him.
Aaron decided that a fight with the tie was the only option. He needed to show it who was boss.
Spencer set his bag down on the desk and moved to the kitchenette to grab a cup of coffee. There was a full pot waiting with Morgan standing beside it.
"You look bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, Reid," the other Agent said.
"I got a good night's sleep. Well, until Hotch decided that my toes needed attacking at five in the morning but I settled that and he slept with me in the bed after that. Anderson is going to be dropping Jack off when he gets out of school."
"You watched Jack last night?" JJ asked as she stepped into the room with her cup.
Spencer filled her cup when he was finished filling his own.
"Hotch wanted him there and Jessica had a work thing that popped up. It was no big deal to watch Jack. We talked, watched TV, and he fell asleep on the pullout with Hotch on him."
"So he knows his Dad is a cat?" Morgan asked.
"Of course, Hotch wouldn't lie to him and he wouldn't want anyone else to lie to him in his place."
"Uh, Reid?" Prentiss called out. Spencer moved towards where she was to see her staring at his desk. He looked at his bag on top of it. It was wriggling. He took two steps towards it when the flap of his bag burst open and then he was treated to the sight of Hotch rolling out of the bag and landing on the floor, the tie he carried around with him wrapped around the kitten. If Spencer didn't know any better he'd say that Hotch thought the tie was a snake and he was trying to kill it. He watched as Hotch rolled around on the floor before he crowned himself the winner and stood proud on the vanquished tie.
"Mrow?" Hotch cried out. Looking around and seeing where he was. He hunkered down on the floor when his eyes landed on Spencer. Who just walked up to him carefully. He crouched and picked him up with a free hand while keeping his cup upright. He set the kitten and the cup down, petting Hotch.
"I guess since you are here, you can stay. You stay on my desk, you hear me?" Spencer asked. Hotch nuzzled up into his hand. Spencer reached down and picked up the tie, saying nothing as he slipped it into his bag. If Hotch remembered this whole thing, he knew that he'd ask about the tie but he wasn't going to tell him before that. It had been tucked into his sock drawer at the back and he'd slipped it into his bag when they had their small fight. Hotch had left a bottle of his cologne at Spencer's and he'd sprayed it with it. He wasn't admitting to any of that inside the bullpen.
"Did he sneak into your bag?" Prentiss asked.
"Yes. I thought he was pouting because I made him stay but instead the little shit was hiding in my bag." Spencer dropped into his seat. Scooting his cup closer to the kitten and sighing. "I should have known. He wouldn't have let Jack go without saying goodbye unless he had a reason."
Prentiss and Morgan laughed while JJ stepped to try and pet him. Hotch jumped from the desk to Spencer's lap and settled, looking up at the woman. Spencer knew that look, it was Hotch's "I Dare You" face. JJ stepped back. Hotch settled even more down into Spencer's lap.
"Touchy?" Prentiss asked.
"There is that. I need to get some files from his desk. I know that before we went on the case that he'd pulled seventeen consults that he wanted to work on that were ASAP ones. I'll work on those first." Spencer stood up with the kitten tucked in his hand, moving towards Hotch's office.
Morgan leaned on the corner of Prentiss's desk and watched as Reid walked away with Hotch.
"So are we going to ignore that?" Prentiss asked. Her eyes were following the pair as well.
"Yes because there is no getting through to him. I've already tried." Morgan wanted to stick the two in a room and not let them out until Reid had professed his love. He wanted to find the unsub no matter what but right now their focus was split because without Hotch there wasn't a magic user that was a match for Jones on the team and they needed him back to take Jones in.
"What?" JJ asked.
"Reid's in love with Hotch." Prentiss sat down in her seat turning towards JJ and Morgan.
"And Hotch is in love with Reid," Morgan said with his voice pitched low. He didn't like sharing the kid's secrets but he needed all the help he could get in getting Hotch back into human form. JJ was closer to Reid in some aspects than him. If anyone could get to him, it would be her.
"What?" JJ asked. She looked up towards the office. "What do you mean? I knew that Reid had a crush on Hotch but in love?"
"How do you know that Hotch is in love with Reid?" Prentiss asked.
"That I can't tell you." Morgan wasn't going to go that far. He wasn't going to break that confidence. "But I know it's true. Look at how he's acting with Reid. You can't tell me that he'd do that with anyone else."
"Do you think that the soulmate spell is the one used?" Prentiss's eyes were far away, like she was thinking. Morgan was used to it. Unlike Reid, she had at least half of her brain on them and the rest on the issue.
"I'm fairly certain that it is. Jones may be disinclined to love but he's lazy. His house told us that and this spell, this soulmate spell is easy. I looked over it and I think that even a novice would be able to do it. I may not have magic but we've worked with enough magical persons cases that I know what it takes."
"It is a simple spell but..."
"Look, it's more than the spell. No matter what, Reid needs to admit he loves Hotch to Hotch. Just trust me on that." Morgan looked at the girls and saw them nod. A sound of a hiss drew all three's gaze up to where Reid and Hotch were just leaving Hotch's office. The kitten was on Reid's shoulder as his arms were full of files. Rossi was standing behind the pair. Holding a hand pressed against his chest. He was looking at Hotch shocked.
"He startles easy," was all that Reid said before he started down the stairs and moved to his desk. He set down the files and then picked Hotch up from his shoulder and set him down on the desk, right beside the coffee again. As soon as the younger man dropped into his chair and opened the file to work on it, Hotch moved close, rubbing on his lover's hand. Morgan watched as Reid's face relaxed into a smile that he'd never seen before. "Quit attacking coworkers and I'll stop being mad."
Hotch meowed at him and Reid petted down his back. Morgan looked at Prentiss and JJ and cocked his eyebrow. Prentiss nodded her agreement to his statement and JJ looked like she was seeing them both for the first time.
"At lunch," Morgan said before he turned to head up to his office. He was going to enjoy some quiet. He had all the files on Jones spread out on his desk. Rossi had brought up that maybe the morning was best spent with the team taking a small break from trying to chase him but Morgan didn't want that. He understood clearing the brain, taking a step back to look at the case in a new way but he couldn't.
Dave watched as Reid worked on Aaron's files. His hand kept straying to the kitten that was sleeping in his lap. He'd thought that he was Aaron's closest friend but he wasn't sure how he'd missed it. He'd thought that Aaron needed a push to finally tell the genius that he liked him as more than a friend but to see the proof in front of him that they were already more than friends was a shock. He hadn't meant anything by the pet he'd given Aaron earlier but it seemed that touching the kitten while he was near Reid had a very protective effect on him.
Two other agents had been hissed at by Aaron for even approaching Spencer's desk from behind him. It was like he was a little guard cat. Lunch time had been interesting as Spencer had actually left Aaron on his chair with instructions that if he wasn't there when he got back, he was going to be eating kibble until he was a human again. Aaron hadn't moved a single inch away. When the younger man had got back he had a sandwich and chips as well as more coffee with him. A large one that was obviously for him and the second was a small and when Reid popped the lid off and settled it in front of the kitten, he figured it was for Aaron. He wasn't sure that so much coffee was good for him but he knew his friend was stubborn. The bag of chips was opened and scattered on a napkin. Reid picked the bigger pieces out and scooted the smaller ones into a pile. He added a few bites of bread to the napkin followed by the entire slice of cheese ripped into small squares. Turkey was added next but a strip of bacon was just set down on it.
Reid ate his sandwich while writing with his left hand on the file of Aaron's that he'd claimed from his office. It was the last one. When his sandwich was gone, Reid picked up the bacon and broke it into smaller pieces. Dave expected for it to get set down beside the rest but instead peice by piece it was fed to Aaron with his fingers. The kitten would stop chasing the chip pieces as each piece was held out to him. There was a domesticity to the whole scene that made Dave feel like a peeping tom. He was starting to agree with Morgan more and more that it just might be the soulmate spell. He could also see that getting the genius to admit to his love was going to be hard.
A chance to speak to Reid alone didn't come for Dave until Anderson entered with Jack just after school let out for him for the day. The boy ran right to his father and picked him up, cuddling him for a second before sitting down in Reid's lap. The bull pen was empty for being the middle of the afternoon but the rest of the team was up in the round table room discussing places where Jones could be. Reid had been working on getting Aaron's office set up for Jack to work on his homework in including setting up the laptop for Jack on the desk and clearing it of everything except what Jack might need. Aaron seemed very happy to see his son and allowed himself to be carried up to the office and set down on the desk. Reid followed with what looked like the coffee cup from lunch except it was now filled with water.
"Jack, I'll be in the round table room if you need me. Your father is not allowed out of the office and he knows it. We don't need him getting stepped on."
"Anderson said that he snuck into your bag, is that true?"
"Your father is a very stubborn man." Was all Reid said.
Jack laughed and Dave could hear an indignant meow from Aaron. He was sure that the look on his face was priceless. Dave waited for the genius to pass his office before calling him in. He motioned for him to shut the door and Reid gave him a weird look but he did before taking a seat in the chair in front of Dave's desk.
"Did you find something on the case?" Reid asked.
"Not in the way that you are thinking." Dave sighed and propped his arms on the desk, laying his head on his hands to hold it up. "I know that Aaron crossed out the soulmate spell and I am sure that he had a good reason but how can we be totally sure that it's not the spell he used?"
"Hotch wouldn't have crossed it out without a good reason."
"I understand that and he's the most versed in actual spellwork but what could it hurt to entertain the thought. How hard would it actually be to just tell him that you love him?"
"What is everyone's obsession on the fact that they think it's the soulmate spell?" Reid looked upset. "We need to find Jones and not discuss mine and Hotch's love life."
"Reid," Dave started but he stopped when the younger man stood up. He stormed out of the room and moved towards Aaron's office. Seconds later he came out with Aaron curled in his hands. Dave stood up from his desk when he passed the office, following him into the round table room where Garcia was set up with her laptop and the others were working on trying to figure out exactly where Jones could have run to. He set Aaron down on the table. Aaron looked a little scared, like he knew that something was wrong. He hunkered down on the table and looked at Reid with a little bit of fear on his face. Dave shut the door behind him and JJ seeing that something was wrong shut the other door.
"I don't know any other way to stop this from being the focus instead of actually finding the man who did this so." Reid took a deep breath and he locked eyes with Morgan. "I'm in love with Aaron Hotchner."
Reid looked down at the kitten, who was still a kitten and it didn't seem like he was changing back. The younger man turned around to Dave. "Now do you think we can actually focus on the matter at hand which is finding the man who did this to the man I love?" He didn't wait for an answer, just brushing past Dave as he left the room. He pulled the door shut with not a little bit of force.
"I guess that settles that," Prentiss said.
"I don't understand," Garcia said. She reached out to pet Aaron but the kitten scrambled away from her. Dave sighed and opened the door, Jack was peeking out from his father's office door and Dave waved him forward. Jack ran across the small walkway and Dave waved him to pick up his father. The kitten was skittish and hadn't yet let Garcia touch him and he was downright frightened at the moment. Aaron ran across the table and near jumped onto his son and Jack just cradled him close, leaving. Dave pulled the door shut.
"I think that we may have upset Reid," Dave said as he sat down. He'd been so sure and he knew that Morgan had been sure as well. "That didn't go at all like I thought it would."
"Could there be a delayed effect?" Morgan asked looking at Prentiss.
"No. There would have been a change immediately. It's not the soulmate spell. Looks like we need to crack these books that Reid had Anderson get for us." Prentiss reached out and grabbed the first. The image that was burned into the leather was grotesque. Dave felt his stomach turn. "Great. Diavan's Manual on Transfiguring People." Prentiss's face turned green as she opened it.
"Are they all that bad?" JJ asked as she grabbed a book carefully.
"No. This is the worst. It's the manual that a father made after his son's nearly killed each other with trying to turn each other into creatures. It shows the whole process as well as the five most common spells. If it's one of those five, this will be the one to correct whatever Jones did."
Spencer wasn't shocked when he felt a little cold, wet nose touch his hand. He turned his hand so that Hotch could nuzzle against him. Jack was right behind him closing the door. They were all in JJ's old office, which had been turned into random storage by the unit. Hotch had followed him into it once before.
Jack sat down beside him and leaning into him. Spencer wrapped his arm around him. Hotch wiggled between his legs and climbed up his chest, licking at the tears on his face. Spencer laughed and pulled him down to cuddle him to his chest. He wiped at his tears with the sleeve of his shirt.
"And now I've outed us to the team." Spencer was shocked when Hotch started to purr. He started to lick his fingers.
"Dad doesn't care," Jack supplied helpfully. He wiggled just a little bit closer.
"I know." Spencer laid his head back against the wall. He knew that Hotch asking him to move in meant that he wanted the team to know. That he was ready for that step but before then that moment in the round table room, he hadn't thought that he was ready. "I..."
A knock came at the door. It was soft so Spencer knew that it was either JJ or Prentiss. Jack tried to pull away but Spencer kept his arm around him.
"Come in!" Spencer called out. JJ opened the door and stepped in, shutting it behind her.
"We have a lead on Jones. Traffic cam in McLean spotted him ten minutes ago. We will have a chopper ready by the time we get there."
"Jack go to your Dad's office and stay there. Anderson will keep an eye on you as well as Garcia. Keep your Dad in there even if you have to lock the door."
"I will." Jack stood pulling his father off of Spencer's chest as he did. He looked at Spencer and then leaned over and hugged him awkwardly before kissing his cheek. Spencer pulled his head back down and kissed his forehead.
"I'll be back soon. We'll do dinner at home. You be thinking about what you want for dinner and we can stop on the way home to get it."
"Okay." Jack hesitated and then leaned close. "I love you."
"Love you too, Jack," Spencer whispered with a smile. He petted Hotch's head and then ushered the two of them out the door in front of him. Morgan was in the hall with vests for JJ and him. Spencer grabbed one and slipped it on. He felt the tingle of magic that would protect them from some of the worst spells that could kill them with a single shot. There was something different around this vest though. Something more. It was his normal vest. He could feel the small bit of metal he'd worked into the bottom lining in the back and the front with a brush of his hands. He touched the area over his heart. There were more than the normal spells on it. He had been around Hotch's magic enough to feel it on there. Hotch had layered more spells on it.
Spencer looked to where Jack and Hotch were entering Hotch's office and the boy turned to look back at him. Hotch was cradled in his hands and the small kitten's eyes were on where he was touching his heart. For Spencer to feel his magic, he had to have put alot into it. Prentiss's jacket and Hotch's had more spells weaved into their vests but as the magical fighters it was understandable. They laid their own spells to protect themselves.
“Spence?” JJ laid a hand on his arm to get his attention. “We’ll bring Jones in and we will get Aaron back, you have to trust that it will work out.”
Spencer swallowed over the lump that had formed in his throat as he looked towards the others who were waiting on them. He could get through this, he had to for Hotch’s sake. He met JJ’s eyes and saw the conviction and it helped to bolster his own resolve. He nodded at her then stalked towards the others. He was too emotional and he knew it, but he just wanted this over, wanted Aaron back.
Morgan had commandeered one of the larger SUV’s that would fit everyone. As soon as the team piled in he took off towards the airport. There was a steady stream of communication on Jones’s whereabouts. They would have eyes on him soon enough and hopefully in custody before the day was out.
They were able to bypass airport security quickly as Strauss had called ahead to let them know the team was on the way and to clear the way for them. Spencer wasn’t surprised. Their section chief may have been a hard ass towards them but she understood the importance of solving these cases.
As soon as Morgan parked he and Prentiss jumped out and immediately ran for the helicopter that was waiting. They were in the air in minutes. Rossi took over driving with JJ and Spencer riding with him. In no time, both teams were on the move and trying to catch-up to Jones.
Spencer was going over all the intel they had already gathered on Jones in his head. He was trying to anticipate where the man might be going. What was he doing here? In DC? When nothing popped, he pulled out his cell phone and called Garcia.
“Office of the all knowing, how may I be of assistance?”Garcia answered brightly and, like always, it put a tiny smile on Spencer’s face. Something he hadn’t really done in the last couple of days.
“Garcia, can you check and see if Jones has any property in the area? Or if there is a place of significance to him in DC or Virginia? Anything at all that connects him to here?”
“Give me sec,” He heard the fast clicking of her typing and knew she was trying to find what he asked for. “Huh, I’m not seeing any property in his name but, there are two places in his ex-wife’s name. One is a storage unit and the other is her parent’s house that was put in her name after they died. Both are in DC. I’ve sent both addresses to your phones.”
“Okay, thank you Garcia…”
“Wait, so impatient you are. I have more. There is a small school of magic that closed down about fifteen years ago. Looks like Jones was, at one time, not only a student but their top student. He like won a lot of awards for his spellwork. He was nominated for a couple of scholarships and one…..oh, oh my, this…” Garcia was stumbling on her words and it made Spencer sit up straighter.
“I’m putting you on speaker Garcia.” Spencer held the phone away from his head and hit the speaker button. “What did you find?”
“So, like I said, Jones was the top student at the Washington School of Magic. He was on a short-list of potential winners for the prestigious Merit Scholarship of Arcane Magic. Only like four graduating students out of the whole country are awarded this scholarship. Guess who was in the running with Jones?”
Spencer looked up sharply at JJ and the two asked at the same time, “Hotch?”
“You bet. Our fearless leader not only won over Abernathy Jones but he was awarded two other magic scholarships as well. Jones coming in second on all of them.”
“So, was this a revenge thing after all? Did he do all of this to lure us there?”
“I’m not sure but it’s looking like that is a distinct possibility. Aaron might not have even been aware of Jones,” Rossi said as he continued to drive. “Okay, I think we should go check out this school. It sounds like it was significant in Jones life. Should we have Morgan follow? Or do we have him go to the ex-wife’s house?”
“Can you send us the address to the defunct school Garcia?”
“On its way. Stay safe my lovelies.” She disconnected and Spencer sat back in his seat thinking.
“Let Morgan and Prentiss check out the house, we’ll go to the school. I don’t think the storage unit is going to be significant.” Spencer had a bad feeling in his gut but he didn’t voice his concerns. Too many of them focused on an unneeded worry could make them all miss something important. Spencer texted Morgan to let him know what was going on. Morgan agreed to go to the house while the rest went to the school.
It didn’t take long for Rossi to find the school. He had been going full out until they started to get closer then he cut the siren and lights. He pulled up, cutting the headlights as well, and parked. Spencer practically jumped out as he put his earwig in and pulled his gun almost all at once. The three of them moved silently and carefully, rounding one corner Spencer stopped and saw the other car close to one of the outlying buildings. He tapped on Rossi’s arm and signaled towards the car.
“Alright, we go in slow and careful. We don’t know what kind of spells or possible traps he laid out for us.” Rossi turned to JJ, “Do you have the bag of potions that Emily gave you? And you do know how to use them?” Rossi raised a brow as if to say ‘don’t get us killed’.
“I have them here, and yes Emily and Hotch both have shown me how to use these to dispel traps.” Nodding towards the building the three started off. Spencer sent a quick text to Morgan, he didn’t want to risk calling, letting him and Prentiss know that Jones was at the school.
It only took a couple of minutes to make their way to the small building. JJ reached into the bag and pulled out one of the dispel potions, ready to use it when a loud voice called out to them.
“You won’t need that agents. There are no traps, I promise.” Abernathy laughed and it left Spencer feeling cold. That gut feeling he had got worse as the three agents looked back and forth at each other.
“Do you think he’s telling the truth?”
“JJ, why don’t you go ahead and use that just in case. It’s not like an Unsub hasn’t lured us into a trap before.” Rossi took a deep calming breath, his gun loose but ready by his side. JJ went ahead and threw the potion and recited the spell Emily had taught her and nothing happened. “Okay, maybe he was telling the truth. We should still be cautious.”
They walked the short distance to the entrance. Rossi had his hand on the door and using hand signals counted back from three. On three the door was flung open and JJ and Spencer moved quickly inside.
“I’m unarmed agents,” Jones shouted at them and Spencer felt like he was taunting them. They all knew that he wasn’t unarmed, as long as he had access to his magic, he was armed.
“Abernathy Jones, you are under arrest for multiple counts of murder.” Rossi held his weapon high as he slowly approached the man.
“How is Agent Hotchner? How do you think he feels being brought so low?” Jones’s smile was bright and that feeling of dread in Spencer’s stomach just got worse.
“Rossi, I have a very bad feeling,” Spencer whispered to the older agent. Spencer kept his gun trained on him as Rossi got even closer. He stopped back far enough to be able to keep an eye on his whole body. JJ stayed back at the door to keep an eye on the way in. As Rossi reached out for him, he stepped back and Spencer could just see the edge of a spell circle. “ROSSI!”
The older agent stopped as Jones stepped fully into the circle with a smile on his face.
“Have fun trying to undo the spell, that is if you can. Don’t want the great Aaron Hotchner to stay a kitten forever now do we?” Jones recited a spell under his breath and in an instant, before anyone realized what was happening, the man fell dead right in front of them.
Spencer, not thinking, ran forward but Rossi caught him around the waist and held him back.
“There’s nothing we can do kid.” Spencer looked up as he slid to the ground. He just stared in shock at the man in the circle, his mind was empty. His breathing was ragged as he tried to process what had just happened.
“Spence.” JJ laid a hand on his shoulder but he didn’t respond. Not even the sound of the helicopter landing outside broke through the shock that Spencer was in. This man had the answers he needed to get Hotch back and now he was gone. He didn’t even notice the tears that started to fall till Emily was in front of him gently wiping them away. Other than Hotch, she was the only other one on the team that had broken through the barrier of personal space he kept with the others. Not even JJ had been able to get that close.
“Spencer, we’ll find the answers. I know what you are thinking and this is not the end. You have to be strong. You have to get up and you have to use that big brain of yours to help us figure this out. We need you Spencer. Hotch needs you. Hotch needs you to take care of Jack until he’s back to himself.”
Slowly, he lifted his head and stared. He turned towards Prentiss and looked at her. She truly believed there was hope in getting him back. Her eyes could evade but he knew what they looked like now when she lied. He nodded at her. Prentiss stood up and pulled him up with her. Morgan, JJ, and Rossi were standing back enough to give them the illusion of privacy but close enough in case there were traps that hadn’t been triggered.
“I don’t feel anything other than the suicide circle but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something more here,” Prentiss said as she all but pushed Spencer towards JJ and Morgan. “We need a full crew to go over every single inch of this place. If he’s on par with Hotch, there could be all kinds of things hiding here.”
“Let’s back out carefully the way we came in. Morgan, you got the kid?” Rossi looked over worried about how quiet Spencer had gotten.
“Yeah, I got him.” Morgan steered Spencer out of the building with JJ following right behind. It wasn’t until they made it to the SUV that Spencer finally spoke.
“So fast. It happened so fast, he wanted us there, he wanted us to see him kill himself, why?” Spencer rubbed at that spot right above his heart and a little flare of magic from the vest wrapped around him. He wondered, again, what that was, but at the same time almost didn’t want to know.
“When did Hotch add to your vest?” Prentiss asked as she stepped closer to him. Spencer wanted to back out of her touch, not let her anywhere near the vest now that she realized that it wasn’t just normal spellwork on it.
“I don’t know. I used a spare when we went after Jones the first time because remember that the strap had broke on mine after that knife nearly got me. So sometime in the past eighteen days? He didn’t tell me but I felt his magic on it today.” Spencer repeated the movement over his heart and felt the flare again. This time it wrapped around him stronger and he knew what it was. Aaron’s love and happiness. It felt so good that he nearly started to cry.
Prentiss had opened-up her awareness a little, like she had back in the building with Jones, and felt around the vest without actually touching it. She smiled softly at Spencer and knew what it was that Hotch had done.
“He used a combination of a powerful protection spell, but wove it with a love comforting spell. He wants to protect you and reassure you at the same time. He loves you Spencer. This took a while for him to do and I bet he was going to tell you when we got back.”
“What if we don’t find the reverse Emily?” He looked so sad and broken that Prentiss laid a hand on his arm and looked him right in the eye.
“I think you already know what to do Spencer, but for some reason you are afraid. You are holding yourself back and you can’t do that anymore. I think Hotch is showing you just what you mean to him.”
Spencer touched that part of the vest again and closed his eyes to let himself feel what it was that Hotch had done. The full force of it hit him and he let it wrap around him, giving him hope that he would get his lover back. He just nodded his acknowledgment to Prentiss as the rest of the team finally piled in the SUV after the Spell Clean-up crew arrived.
Rossi had quickly run down what happened with the leader of the crew and told them to have the report on his desk in the morning. With one last look at the building he slid in the driver’s seat and headed back towards the office. He didn’t envy Spencer having to tell Jack what happened.
The younger man was quiet the entire way back to the office. Dave was a little worried about him. He kept looking at him and there was such a faraway look on his face that Dave had never seen before. It wasn’t hard to see that he was thinking but Dave wanted to know what about. In the four years he’d known the young man, he’d rarely been able to even keep up with his mind. His ability to go from A to Z without even touching any other letters had told him why he was in the BAU the first time that he had watched him work without anything distracting him. He’d wondered what they could have done in the BSU days with a mind like his in the bunker.
As soon as Dave stopped the SUV, Reid was out of it. No one stopped him and Dave wasn’t shocked to find the door to Aaron’s office pulled shut with Anderson hovering at the bottom of the stairs. Dave stopped at the desks, making sure the other agent was aware he wasn’t moving closer. The rest of the team scattered, JJ to her desk, Morgan his office, and Prentiss to the round table room.
Spencer closed the door as he took in the sight of Jack sitting in his father’s chair, laughing. Aaron was on the desk with his head stuck in the tissue box. He was shaking his head trying to get it free. Spencer dashed forward as Aaron tried to back up away from the box stuck on his head, Jack moved too but Spencer beat him to his father. He grabbed the kitten as he was about to fall off the desk. Carefully, he pulled the box off Hotch’s head and held him up.
“You just like mischief don’t you?” but the smile wasn’t there. Holding the kitten close, Spencer walked to the couch and slowly sat. He knew when Jack came over to sit next to him. He draped an arm around the boy and pulled him close.
“Spencer?’ Jack looked up with worry on his face.
“I have to tell you something, but know that we will not stop looking for a way to get your father back.” Hotch stretched up and softly patted Spencer on the chin. He somehow knew something bad happened. “The man that did this to your father, he’s dead Jack. A crew is going over the scene trying to find whatever they can that might help but, for now, we have to keep looking.”
Hotch fell back on his butt onto Spencer’s lap. He didn’t like hearing what Spencer had told Jack. He wanted to know more because he just knew there was more to tell. For some reason, he was holding back something from his son and Hotch knew it was most likely to protect Jack. He softly cooed at Spencer knowing that his favorite person was feeling more than what he was saying. Spencer always felt more than the others on the team.
Spencer laid his head back on the couch and closed his eyes, his hand was gently scratching Hotch’s back and he was letting his mind clear. He knew he needed to keep it together, at least long enough to get home.
“But, you will get Dad back, right? Because you promised Spencer. You promised you’d get Dad back.” Spencer swallowed back what he was feeling. He knew he couldn’t let himself break. Not here and not now.
“Yes Jack. I’m still going to keep my promise to get Aaron back. We need him.” He pulled Jack closer and held him tight. A few minutes later, there was a soft knock on the door and Spencer called out that it was unlocked. He wasn’t surprised to see that it was Rossi.
“Why don’t you go home? Take Jack and Aaron home, have something to eat, and get some rest. We can deal with all of this tomorrow after we get the report.”
Spencer thanked Rossi as he stood up and told Jack to gather his things together. He watched the boy gather up his homework from the desk. He briefly thought about putting it back to rights but pushed it away. Jack slipped his coat on which was a hoodie. He must have swapped it out with the coat he'd been wearing that morning. Spencer couldn't remember seeing the hoodie for a few weeks so it was probably his spare coat at school.
"Spencer, can Dad ride in my hood until we get to the car?" Jack looked really excited and Spencer looked down at Aaron. It seemed that Jack had worn it home to give his father hood rides. He smiled and knew that it would be one way of making sure the kitten didn't try and slip anywhere. So when Jack was level with him at the door, he shifted Aaron to one hand and held open the hood to slip him inside. The slightly indignant stare from him was adorable.
"Be thankful that I didn't record you with your head stuck in a tissue box and send it to the team. Riding in your son's hood isn't going to embarrass you to death. We've kept it pretty low key that you even turned into a cat." Spencer swore that Aaron sighed at him. Still he ignored him and they moved towards Spencer's desk where he packed up his things and slipped his bag over his head. He made sure all of Hotch's files were in his out box to be taken care of before he turned towards the elevator. Jack was silent on the ride down, constantly turning his head back to look at his father. Spencer smiled at the care that Jack was showing towards his father. He wondered if this was going to be the inciting incident that caused Jack to want a pet. Aaron had remarked that he was shocked that the boy hadn't wanted one before now. There was talk of hamsters or fish when they talked about it. Apartment friendly animals that could stand not being checked on every single day if made sure they had fresh water and food before leaving. That way Jessica wouldn't have to worry about the animal except every other day when they were on cases. Spencer had been shocked when Aaron had asked his opinion but now, he saw it for what it was. Aaron wanting to pull Spencer a little closer into their lives. It wasn't underhanded just a very Aaron way of not wanting to scare him off.
When Jack got to the car he stopped before getting inside of it. He waited for Spencer to pull Aaron out of his hood and held out his hands for him.
"Make sure that he stays in your lap. I don't think that the ride in my bag did him good this morning."
Spencer took Jack's backpack from him and set it and his own bag on the back driver's side seat. By the time that he slipped into the driver's seat, Jack was already buckled and had both of his hands wrapped around the kitten. It didn't look like he was squeezing too tight so Spencer started the car. It was just after rush hour ended so the drive wasn't too bad but Spencer still drove very cautiously. Every single time that Aaron tried to wriggle out of Jack's hold, the boy would just chastise him and tighten his grip until Aaron settled down. He smiled as he watched him. Jack was a strong boy and that was as much Aaron's doing as it was Haley's. They'd raised a good son for the first five years and Aaron was keeping that the same in the past two. Jack was going to be a wonderful man. Aaron would be proud of who he would be. Spencer swallowed to not let out a small snuffle as he thought that he would be proud to call him son as well.
"Spencer, what is dad going to eat for dinner?"
"We still have some of the spaghetti that your Aunt Jessica bought. Why?"
"Because I want Thai. Dad says that the Thai place that's closest to us doesn't do it right when he orders and I want some Pad Thai."
"And a bite of my Tom Kha Kai. We can call in an order of it. And I'll get your Dad's favorite as well."
Jack smiled and leaned down, lifting Aaron up at the same time. He listened as the boy whispered something in the kitten's ear. Aaron licked up his face after the boy was done. They were damned cute together.
After dinner was eaten with Aaron stealing more of Spencer's and Jack's than he ate of his own food, the kitten seemed to get a burst of energy so Spencer turned the two of them loose in the living room with the bird on a string and the sock while he worked on taking care of his laundry. He moved all the breakable things out of the path and listened as padded feet ran around the room along with the sound of claws on hardwood and sometimes linoleum. At one point he heard Jack's peeling laughter and moved down the hall to look out. Jack had found a laser pointer somewhere and was using it while he sat on the couch. It was adorable watching Aaron chase the dot wherever Jack directed it, including just about two inches above the kitten's reach on the wall which had him trying to climb said wall to get to it. He hoped that Aaron had his memories of this when he changed back.
The small pit of pain that had been in his stomach back in the building that Jones had killed himself in flared again. He turned away to finish with the clothes. Grabbing the towels, Spencer went into the bathroom. He looked at it, really looked at it. He had a spare contact case out because his main one was at Aaron's apartment. He'd been out of shampoo for two weeks because he kept forgetting to get more and just showered at Aaron's because he knew he had some there. If he had to shower at his place, he used dish soap from the kitchen, which was why his spare bottle of it was in the shower. All of his perishable food had a long fridge life because he ate at Aaron's and only ate here on the days that the older man couldn't talk him into staying because he felt that he needed to go back to his apartment. It was almost as if they were already living together and Spencer just used the apartment as a short-term getaway.
Shaking his head to clear the thoughts, Spencer turned to find that Aaron had slipped into the room and was now lying on his clean clothes that he hadn't got a chance to hang up yet. When Aaron saw him, he stretched and seemed to wiggle down a little farther into the clothes. Telling him that he wasn't going to get up. Spencer checked on Jack, finding him watching something on the Discovery Channel. He shut the bedroom door and moved toward Aaron dropping to his knees in front of him. His hand went right for Aaron’s belly, rubbing it.
“Jones killed himself as soon as we found him. Aaron you beat him out for scholarships. He killed those people to draw us to where he was. You were always a target for him. He did this on purpose. He changed you into a cat to humiliate you.” Aaron sat up on the clothes and looked at him and in that moment, Spencer missed him more than he ever had before He leaned forward, letting the pile of clothes cushion him as he tried to control his breathing. He wasn’t going to cry with Jack in the next room. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve read everything Aaron and I don’t know what to do.”
Hotch spun and stood on his little legs then moved-up and bumped Spencer’s face. He wanted to comfort him more but all he could do was meow softly. He reached out with his front paw and patted Spencer on the nose.
“Aaron,” Spencer sighed as he scratched Hotch under the chin. He hadn’t heard anything from Jack in a while and wanted to make sure everything was okay. He told Hotch he’d be right back and the kitten turned around a few times then snuggled down into Spencer clothes. The young man stood and made his way into the living room and saw that Jack had fallen asleep on the couch. He decided not to move the boy. He carefully took off the boy’s shoes and socks then grabbed the blanket and put it over Jack. He bent down and kissed him on the cheek. When he stood back up he felt that little piece of his heart that he had reserved for Jack swell. He knew he had loved the boy but right in this moment he knew just how much. Jack had become so important to him over the last few months. Though they hadn’t spent so much time together it was enough for feelings for the boy to deepen. Spencer wondered, as he watched the boy, just what he was afraid of.
With a heavy heart he silently moved through the apartment and locked doors and turned out lights. He kept the one over the stove on just in case Jack needed to get-up at any time during the night. Finally, he moved back to his bedroom and saw that Hotch had fallen asleep in his clothes. He chuckled softly to himself at how peaceful he looked. He leaned back against the his wall near the bathroom and let his thoughts wander. There was one major thought that kept going through his mind all day. It was just how much he was in love with the man and how much he needed him. Every little thing he had been observing over the last couple of days made him realize just how much he had made Hotch a part of his life. After cases more often than not when he thought of home, it was always with Hotch.
Spencer pushed off from the wall and stripped out of his clothes and grabbing his valise from his go bag he took a quick shower. It wasn’t long before he was slipping into bed and Hotch was curling up on his chest. He had closed the bedroom door and Jack knew to knock so he wasn’t worried about the boy just coming in. Finally, completely alone he held Hotch up in his hands.
“I love you,” he burst out as he looked at the kitten’s face. “I love you and I need you Aaron. Come back to me, please come back to me so I can tell you as you. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I never said it before but I got scared. You offered me everything I’ve ever wanted and it scared me.”
“Mrrowr,” Hotch’s voice squeaked as he bumped his face with Spencer’s. He wanted to say it back and damn his meows. He tried to comfort his love and didn’t know how. All he could do was curl up and snuggle as close to the man as he could.
Spencer turned on his side and settled Hotch against his chest. He couldn’t help it when the tears finally fell. When Hotch started purring against him he couldn’t help it when he started to cry harder as he curled up around the small kitten. All of those feelings he had kept locked inside came pouring out as he held Hotch in his arms. He loved Hotch. And though he had admitted it to the team it was only part of what he felt for the man. Hotch had always been there for him. Through Georgia, through Gideon leaving through everything he was the one person that he was able to count on and now Hotch counted on him and he had no idea what to do. Nothing in all of their research gave him any clue as to how to turn Hotch back.
“I need you,” he whispered again. His emotions purged, a headache was forming but he was just too tired to deal with it. Breathing deep he tried to let the stress go like Hotch had taught him. Slowly, he finally started to fall asleep.
Several hours later, Spencer felt weird. Like there was a weight on him, but it was a familiar weight, but it couldn't be. He cautiously opened his eyes and looked down to see an arm wrapped around him and in that moment he wanted to weep. He flipped around and stared into the face of Aaron Hotchner.
"Aaron," he practically shouted as he plastered himself around the man. He was shaking as he held the man to him.
"Hey, it's okay Spencer." Aaron pulled him close and carded one hand in Spencer's hair.
"I never thought I'd get you back. I was so scared, Aaron."
"Shh, I'm here now, love. I'm here." Aaron just repeated over and over his reassurances as he held the genius in his arms.
"I love you, Aaron. I love you and I'm sorry I never told you and yes, yes I want you and Jack and the whole thing. It doesn't mean that I'm not scared because I'm terrified but I want it, everything, I want everything, Aaron." He kissed Aaron and put everything he felt into that kiss. Aaron cupped the back of his head, not letting him pull away from him at all. The older man only pulled back when Spencer yawned. He tucked Spencer's head under his chin and rubbed at his back.
"I love you, too Spencer." Aaron's hand on his back had Spencer calming down. He inhaled and exhaled and relaxing into his lover's body. He closed his eyes as the hand on his back shifted to his head and started to card through it. He wanted to open his mouth and tell him to stop because it was a sure fire way of putting him to sleep. "You need sleep. We can talk when we wake up. I'll be right here."
"You'll see I'm not a dream when I'm still right here when you wake up." Aaron kissed the top of his head and Spencer gave into the feeling. His body and mind were so tired and he just wanted to sleep and sleeping on Aaron was always good. He missed it when he didn't sleep on him.
Aaron waited for Spencer's breathing to even out before he allowed his own body to relax. He had been shocked to wake up wrapped around Spencer in human form again as well. When they had started the case, he'd been sure that the UnSub wasn't using that spell as it was too simple and too out of his realm but knowing that it was meant for him and meant to humiliate him, it fit. Aaron had been a hardass in school. He didn't even remember Jones at all. That someone would love him was out of Jones knowledge so turning him into an animal until someone declared love for him was a sure fire way of keeping him as that animal. Other spells had ways of breaking them but the soulmate spell, it was a hard and fast spell. That was why the elders of older times only used it in the case of hardheaded people.
Spencer snuggled as close as he could, like he always did when they slept like that and Aaron knew that he needed sleep as well. While he'd spent most of his time as a kitten, asleep, it hadn't been anything like what his body needed. He could feel his magic as it tried to sooth Spencer but it had been blocked. Even now his magic was reaching out for him again and making sure that Spencer was fine. Spencer shivered as the magic enveloped him. It sought out Jack next and he could feel the boy asleep in the living room. Only then did he allow himself to slip into sleep.
Aaron woke up as the sun started to peek into the bedroom through the partially open curtains. He stretched and felt Spencer was near waking as well. His body wasn't fully relaxed along his side. He was fighting waking up. Or at least part of him was, Aaron felt a hard cock pressed into his hip. He rolled them to where Spencer was on his side with Aaron facing him. Thankfully, they had been at the center of the bed so it didn't roll the younger man off the bed. Spencer huffed and tried to cling tighter. Aaron laughed before kissing him. The younger man responded enthusiastically. Waking up like this was always his favorite way.
Spencer slowly woke up as the kisses turned deeper. Aaron's hand splayed on his ass kept him in place, right where he wanted him. Being turned into a kitten had changed things for Aaron as well. Spencer had held back before but so had Aaron. He'd just held back on different things. The younger man's eyes fluttered opened just as Aaron started to rock them together. His eyes widened for a second and then his face looked exactly the same as it had when he'd rolled over in shock at being held in Aaron's arms hours before.
Aaron broke the kiss and nuzzled at the side of his face before letting his lips brush the genius's ear. "Can I have you, Spencer?"
"Yes," Spencer uttered. The younger man licked a stripe up the side of Aaron's neck before kissing him again. Aaron rolled them to where Spencer was on top but between his spread legs. He gripped his ass cheeks to hold him in place while he thrust up into him.
"Get the lube." Aaron shifted the younger man up to where he could take a hardening nipple in his mouth. It caused Spencer to cry out but the younger man reached out for the dresser. The chance of them not bonding was slim with penetrative sex, with the depth of Aaron's own emotions for the younger man and had been since the beginning. Aaron had felt his own bond with Haley slowly fading after Jack had been born. He'd made a promise to himself that he would never feel that again but he didn't care about that promise any more. Not feeling that with Spencer hurt worse than the thought of pain of it fading again. They'd satisfied themselves with hand jobs, blow jobs, and intercrural sex before. The risks of penetrative sex were known to both of them. The drawer fell to the floor and Spencer had to lean over even farther to grab the lube. Aaron gripped his waist to keep him from going over and when he sat up with it in his hands, Aaron smiled. The smile on the other man's face was happiness and love combined. He had known that Spencer loved him but he hadn't thought that hearing the words from his mouth would change that much between then but it had. It wasn't just this physical need to have him, there was this feeling of wholeness from it. He took the lube from his lover, popping it open and pulling Spencer down with his free hand. Spencer shifted to where his legs were on the outside of Aaron's own and Aaron used them to spread him open just a little more as he slicked up his fingers.
Teasing Spencer with the tip of his finger, he thrust his tongue into the younger man's mouth. He slowly breached the man on top of him with his finger, every single time that was any clenching of muscles, Aaron pulled out and slowly pushed back in. It had been years since the younger man had anal sex and Aaron didn't want to hurt him. He took his time working up to three fingers inside of him. Spencer was leaking by the time that Aaron felt he was ready.
"Do you have condoms?" Aaron asked. Spencer's eyes flew open and he looked down at Aaron, shaking his head. Aaron wiped his hand on the bed and pulled Spencer down to kiss him again. "We are both clean. We know the risks."
"I want you in me," Spencer whispered, his whole body was vibrating with need. He picked the lube up from where Aaron had set it down and poured some into his hand, reaching back and coating Aaron's cock with it. Before Aaron could even open his mouth to talk about moving positions, that there were others that were going to be better the first time but Spencer shifted his legs and then he was gripping Aaron's cock and holding it in place as he started to press down. Aaron could only help to steady him as he slowly worked himself down.
Spencer's eyes closed and his mouth dropped open as he slowly slid down Aaron's cock. Aaron ached to move, to thrust up into him but he kept control because if he didn't, he'd hurt him and that was one thing that he never wanted to do. When they were skin to skin, Spencer opened his eyes and looked down at Aaron. His eyes were sparkling in the light, filled with emotion. Aaron pushed up to kiss him. This is what he had missed the most. Being able to just be with him, kiss him when he wanted.
"How do you feel?" Aaron asked as he cupped the side of Spencer's face. He could feel the bond starting to form already. Every single nerve under his skin where they touched was alive. Spencer didn't lift up, instead he kind of rocked a little and Aaron hissed, grabbing tighter on Spencer's hip. Spencer's hand buried itself in his hair, holding him still while his other landed on his shoulder, bracing himself. Aaron braced an arm behind to hold himself up. They stared into each other's eyes, sharing breath as Spencer slowly rocked. It felt so good to Aaron and given the look on Spencer's own face, it felt just as good to him. Neither of them were going to last long, not with the denying they'd done to themselves coupled with the bond growing ever larger.
Aaron shifted his grip from Spencer's hip to his cock, causing Spencer to cry out. His head fell back with his mouth wide open. Aaron pumped him in the same rhythm that he fucked himself on Aaron's cock. It was only a few pumps and then Aaron felt Spencer clench around him and then he was coming. Spencer's hand in his hair tightened to painful levels and the hand on his shoulder dug nails in and Aaron was pretty sure that he was going to have bruises. Spencer's rhythm faltered and Aaron planted his feet to take over, thrusting up into him. Spencer whined as Aaron changed his mind and pulled out of him after a few thrusts.
Pushing Spencer back, Aaron toppled the younger man onto his back. He was boneless and was just staring at him in confusion. Aaron wrapped Spencer's legs around him as he slowly entered him again. When he was sure that he wasn't going to hurt him with the new position, Aaron braced himself above him on one arm, wrapping the other arm around Spencer's back and gripping his opposite shoulder from behind. At the same time that he thrust forward, Aaron pulled him in and Spencer gasped at the sensation. Spencer's legs tightened on him and he wasn't able to pull back much at all.
"I'm not going anywhere," Aaron whispered before taking his mouth in a kiss. Spencer held him close as he thrust into him, time and again. Aaron held out for as long as he could. Every single point of contact between them was tingling with the bond. There was just one thing needed to cement it fully. "I love you, Spencer."
"I love you, too. Aaron please." Spencer was panting and Aaron could feel that he was hard again.
"If you don't want this, we have to stop now," Aaron said, making sure that this was what Spencer really wanted. He didn't want to stop, to pull out but he would.
Aaron thrust into him one last time, letting his magic go. He felt the bond fully flare and settle and it pushed them both over the edge. If Aaron hadn't covered his mouth to swallow the scream, Spencer's scream would have woke up the whole apartment building including Jack. He could feel the magic of the bond settle on Spencer. It was painful as the magic branded him. Aaron kissed him gently, helping to calm him down as the bond settled between the two of them. He could already feel the subtle feeling of Spencer at the back of his mind. The pain was fading and Spencer was feeling the bond, testing it out. After the bond had first come up, Spencer had read everything single thing that he could find on magical bonds. He'd never mentioned whether he actually wanted one or not.
"Doing okay?" Aaron asked as he nosed down the side of Spencer face before inhaling. Smelling sweat, semen, and their joined scents. It smelled like he was finally home.
"Yes." Spencer sounded worn out. "You?"
"I'm perfectly fine," Aaron said with a smile before he licked at the side of Spencer's neck.
“Aaron,” Spencer whined as he wrapped himself around his lover.
“Yes?” Aaron smiled playfully as he held Spencer close. He didn’t think he would ever get tired of holding Spencer in his arms. The feeling was so different from Haley and he could already tell that the bond was stronger than what he had with her. He knew that there would never be anyone else, this was it Spencer was his everything. Spencer hadn't held back a single thing in the bond. They were laid bare to each other. It would take days for it to fully settle but after he would feel fulfilled in a way he never thought possible.
“You were a terrible kitten, you know that right?”
Aaron chuckled softly as he nibbled at Spencer’s chin. The bond wanted as much skin contact as possible at the moment. He'd give it that as much as possible for as long as possible but the need to see his son was getting bigger.
“I was an adorable kitten and you know it,” Aaron growled in Spencer’s ear. “So, the tie?”
Spencer couldn’t help the blush that creeped up his face as he burrowed against Aaron’s neck.
“It smelled like you and I, I just wanted something of yours.” Aaron inhaled as his arms tightened around the younger man. He understood just what Spencer meant. It was one of the reasons he had taken the vest and sock. He couldn’t tell them how scared he had been and having something of Spencer’s had helped to calm him down.
“Did you mean it Spencer? Moving in, being with us?”
“Yes. I want everything Aaron and I’m sorry that it took this for me to realize it. I love you, I love Jack and I want to be with you always.”
Aaron nuzzled Spencer once more, he knew they had more to talk about but he really wanted to see Jack, to let his son know that he was okay.
“I need a quick shower then I want my son.” Aaron felt the loss almost immediately when Spencer moved off him but he wasn’t sad. He knew there would be plenty of time for them to be together, especially now that Spencer agreed to move in.
Standing under the warm shower was better than anything in the world at the moment. While cleaning oneself as a kitten was fairly convenient it did not help at all as a human. Aaron was still trying to process the last two days when he felt arms come around him.
“I missed you.” Spencer laid his head on Aaron’s shoulder and held him tight.
“Not going anywhere.” Aaron turned in Spencer’s arms and took his mouth in gentle almost chaste kisses, but they were the sweetest thing in the world to Aaron. “I will never get tired of that.”
Spencer blushed as he kissed Aaron once more then started to prod the man to finish. He knew if they didn’t they would end-up back in bed. Which wasn’t a bad idea, Spencer smiled to himself at that thought, but they had a lot to do.
It didn’t take them long to finish their showers and Aaron was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He was going to call them out for the day. But, first he needed to see Jack.
Almost before he was stepping through the hallway Jack was flying at him and wrapping his arms around Aaron’s legs.
“Daddy, you’re you again,” he practically shouted. Aaron chuckled as he got down on his knees and pulled Jack fully in his arms.
“Yes buddy, I’m me again.” Aaron held him close and sighed.
“But how? Did Spencer find the right spell?” Aaron almost choked on the laugh that bubbled out and he had to think quickly. He was not quite ready for the talk with his son.
“Yes Jack. Spencer found the right spell. Say, why don’t we go get some pancakes and we’ll take Spencer and show him our surprise.”
“You’ll see,” Aaron’s playful tone put Spencer on alert. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for anymore surprises. Too much emotion was going to overwhelm him. He chose to go towards the kitchen to get a drink of water. Aaron came up behind him, wrapping an arm around his stomach, hand slipping under his shirt to touch skin. As much as he'd read over what a bond did and what to expect, this was so much more. He could feel Aaron's happiness there, just at the back of his mind. He knew that with time, he'd be able to push it away until it wasn't so overwhelming but right now he relished in it.
Spencer turned in his arms and found that Aaron was hitting a button on his phone. Spencer opened his mouth to say something when Aaron just looked at him. It rang twice over the speaker and then someone picked up.
"Reid?" Dave voice came across the phone. "Why are you calling on Aaron's phone."
"Why wouldn't I call on my own phone, Dave?" Aaron was smiling and he seemed so happy. Spencer had never seen him quite this happy.
"Spencer and I are taking the day. We'll see you on Monday." Aaron didn't even wait for Dave to say anything. Instead, he hung up, putting his phone in his pocket. Spencer realized that Jack wasn't in the room. "We are all taking a mental health day. It's Friday. Jack's getting dressed and then we are going to go get pancakes and you are not allowed to ask what the surprise is. Now, you still have the keys to the car in your bag so why don't you go down and this time I get shotgun and Jack gets the backseat.
"Okay." Spencer eyed Aaron warily but all that was on his face and in his eyes was happiness. Whatever the surprise was, it had to be something that had him happy. So he leaned in for a kiss before going over to slip on his shoes before leaving the apartment.
"Ready Dad?" Jack called out as he stepped out of the bathroom. Aaron nodded and smiled. Jack gathered up all of his things, backpack, bags with his clothes, and his hoodie before Aaron looked around the apartment. With his magic being suppressed by the spell, he had a lot of burn and a good idea what to burn it on. He stepped over to the door, waving Jack out in front of him. In the doorway, he concentrated and uttered a spell under his breath. A box appeared in front of him and when he opened it, everything in the apartment started to shrink down to a tiny size and fill the box. Another utterance and the box was across town.
Jack was giggling behind him and bouncing on his feet. He was finally getting his greatest wish.
Breakfast was light and full of laughter as Jack told his Dad about the laser pointer. Spencer also laughed at how Aaron had fallen into the toilet and his other antics. The mood was light and happy.
“I just have one question. How’d you not get choked by the collar?” Spencer had just realized that the collar wasn’t around Aaron’s neck and he hadn’t seen it in the bed.
“Safety latch. As soon as I was myself again the collar popped off.”
“Ohh. Where is it now?” Aaron just smiled and took a sip of his coffee. He would show Spencer when he showed him their surprise.
“Not going to tell you. Now, finish your breakfast and you get your surprise.” Spencer rolled his eyes but he finished the food on his plate. As soon as it was done and Aaron paid, he had Spencer sit shotgun while Jack was still taking up the backseat. It didn’t take long to get there and Aaron had spelled a blindfold on Spencer, telling him it was only temporary. He parked, then got out of the car and came around to Spencer’s side. Pulling the younger man out of the car he held his hands and carefully pulled him along.
“Aaron, what is going on?” Jack had run up to the front door of the house that Aaron stopped in front of and unlocked it with the key Aaron had given him. Once they got over the threshold and were standing in the living room Aaron dispelled the blindfold.
“Aaron? We’re in a house.”
“Yes, our house. It’s just been waiting for us.”
“You, you bought a house for us?”
“Yes. It was going to be a surprise that night. I’m sorry Spencer. I’m sorry for holding back with you and for ever making you doubt. I meant it that night when I said I wanted you in my life, our life. And I know now why you didn’t trust my words. I was afraid Spencer. Afraid if I shared the bond with you that it would fade away someday like it did with Haley. I was holding back, but not any more.”
“Aaron.” Spencer was too full of emotion to say anything as he flung his arms around Aaron.
“Come on, there’s something I want to show you.” Aaron led Spencer upstairs to the attic. There was a pull down staircase that was easily accessible. The three of them went up the stairs and all Spencer could do was stop and stare.
“Aaron, you, you did this for me?” The attic had wall to ceiling shelves on three walls. The fourth wall was tall arched windows artfully framed. Each window had a custom built window seat. To the south of the room was Spencer’s living room furniture. On the east wall was a long shelf with no books but it had a new coffee maker, pitchers for water and a small bin for snacks.
“Spencer look,” Jack said excitedly as he stood near the open shelf. Underneath in the cabinet was a double door dorm style fridge. On the north side there was a large bean bag chair and couch.
“I know how much you value your privacy, that sometimes you just need to be alone. If you want we can bring up your desk as well. I love you Spencer and I want you to be comfortable in our home.”
Spencer pulled Aaron in and held him close, “No one has ever done anything like this for me Aaron. Thank you, thank you. I love it.” He leaned in and kissed his partner, “Our home. I like that.” Spencer smiled as he let the feeling of home settle on him.
After a moment he pulled out of Aaron’s arms and went and looked all over the house. He liked the office that had been set-up for the two of them. A room for Jack, their room, the living room and finally the kitchen. This had everything he’s ever wanted and more. Aaron had thought of him as much as he thought of his own needs and Jack's. It was a perfect mixture of the three of them.
“I love it all Aaron. We just need to get my stuff.”
“Already taken care of. That box over there, it's all your stuff. I sent the furniture first so it could be in place when we got here, but that box has everything else. You can take your time going through it if you need.”
Spencer grabbed Aaron’s hand and pulled him back towards their room. He saw that it had all new furniture that would accommodate both of their needs. It was when he looked on the dresser that he started to laugh. There, for anyone to see was a dress neck with the collar draped on it.
“You’re crazy,” Spencer laughed as he touched the collar Hotch had worn for those three days.
“I don’t know, I think it’s cute.” Hotch took the collar and loosed it then put it around his neck, “It even has a tie.” He smirked as Spencer just shook his head.
"This is so much more than what I thought I would ever have." Spencer's face turned somber. He looked around the room and smiled. It was so much more than he ever thought that he would have.
"Jack's in his room." Aaron could feel the awareness of his son and wondered how long it would take for that bond to start forming now that Spencer was bound to him. "I need to make a run to get the rest of our stuff from our apartment, I can do it easy but I have to be there. I used up a lot of my extra power getting your stuff.” Aaron ran a finger down Spencer’s cheek and smiled. “You’ve made me incredibly happy Spencer.” He touched his lips to Spencer’s and their bond flared between them. It was a warm, wonderful feeling and Aaron knew he would never tire of it. “How about a team dinner tonight? We can tell them everything.”
Spencer bit his lip as he thought about it a moment. “Sounds good. I, I want them to know. I love you.” He leaned towards Aaron and kissed him once more before letting him go. He watched the man saunter out of the room and laughed because he hadn’t taken off the collar.
Spencer was okay with the team dinner right up until the team started to arrive. Aaron watched him from the doorway to the kitchen. The chicken had been baked and he was plating it up but from the movements, Aaron knew that he was nervous. He silently moved through the kitchen, coming up behind him and after he had placed the piece of chicken on the plate using the tongs, Aaron grabbed his hands. A subtle squeeze of his left hand and Spencer was moving to set the tongs down.
"You are hiding," Aaron murmured in his ear. He wrapped his arms around his lover, taking Spencer's arms with him. He nosed down and brushed his lips on the skin of the younger man's neck. The bond flared and Spencer shivered. He was going to miss when it was fully settled and didn't always flare when they touched. It was no big thing to make it flare but he'd miss the surprise of it.
"Prentiss knows about the vest."
"Oh? It...wasn't supposed to have been put with your gear yet." Aaron had wanted to talk to him about it before the younger man used it.
"It was the only thing that kept me in one piece after Jones killed himself. So be thankful otherwise Prentiss probably would have had to have sedated me." Spencer tilted his head up and Aaron gave him the kiss he was requesting. "Fine. I'll let you use your fancy magic to plate up the food."
"Fancy magic?" Aaron asked. The words were playful and if there wasn't the risk of someone walking in on them, he'd remind Spencer exactly what his fancy magic could do to reduce Spencer to a sobbing, pleading mess. Spencer seemed to realize exactly where his thoughts had gone because he tried to wiggle out of Aaron's hold but he held him tight. "I'll remind you tonight how much you like my 'fancy' magic when we christen the bedroom."
"Aaron," Spencer whined and started to pant. Aaron could feel the start of his arousal over the bond and let go of him. Spencer slipped out of between him and the counter and moved towards the fridge. Aaron watched him, knowing that Spencer could feel his gaze. Spencer always knew when he was looking at him. He'd always known. His younger lover glared at him as he opened the fridge to grab a bottle of water. Spencer kept up the glare as he drank the entire bottle of water. Aaron just smiled at him. "You are incorrigible."
"And you love me anyway," Aaron replied back. Spencer's glare softened into a smile.
"Woah, isn't it a little bit of an odd place for an "I Do" Pretty Boy?" Morgan asked.
Both of them spun to look at the doorway where Morgan and Dave were standing. Spencer smirked and threw the water bottle at him. The other agent just stared at him as it sailed towards him but he caught it right as it was coming close to his face.
"Aren't you in a mood?" Morgan asked with a smile. "Come on, Jack's talking about this attic library and everyone is here so we want a tour. And we'll get it from Jack if we have to."
Aaron smiled as he started out of the kitchen. He'd give Spencer a few minutes to calm down. Greeting the rest of the team that had arrived would give him that time. He was looking forward to the point in time when Spencer figured out that he'd be able to push his emotions down the bond to Aaron. Like arousal. He'd been subjected to stories of other bonded pairs being at work and a flood of stimulation so bad that they'd ended up having to go and take care of their arousal. He was thinking these very steamy thoughts when he opened the door to see JJ, Will and Henry. His felt his face reddening. Will smirked at him and just patted his shoulder.
“I don’t even want to know.” JJ laughed as Hotch pulled her in for a hug.
“And I’m not telling. Come on in. Jack is upstairs showing Morgan the attic library, Henry if you want to go see. We’ll be up in a minute.”
“Can I Mom?” Henry looked up wide-eyed at his mother.
“Go on, just be careful on the stairs.”
“Can I get you a drink?” Hotch led them into the living room where a bar was set-up against one wall. JJ and Will both asked for wine. A few minutes later Prentiss and Garcia had made it as well. Hotch led everyone up to the attic to start the tour. He smiled softly as he looked over and saw Jack and Henry sitting close on the bean bag couch with a book between them. The parents agreed that they boys would be fine where they were and Hotch led them through the house. When they were in the study Spencer had finally joined them. He wasn’t shy about wrapping an arm around Hotch’s waist.
Hotch smiled as he looked over at Spencer. He leaned in close and whispered.
“Mmhmm,” Spencer hummed as he kissed the side of Aaron’s cheek. The rest of the tour went quickly then they were all piling in the dining room where Spencer had set the table for them.
“This looks amazing my junior G-man.” Garcia couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice.
“Thank you, everyone please dig in.” Not long after sitting, food was passed around as conversation flowed easily. The team had asked questions of Spencer and Hotch and they were honest about their relationship. They didn’t want secrets between the people they considered family. Aaron told them of the bonding, partially because he wanted them to know and also because he and Spencer needed to register with the bureau as a magically bonded couple. This would go a long way to protect both of them in the field and their positions on the team. Neither of them could be transferred nor the team broken-up because of them if they did. The only concession was Dave would have to do Spencer’s evaluations going forward. The rest of the team was relieved that the regulations were on their side.
The conversation turned towards exactly how long they had been living together and everyone but Morgan was shocked when they found out that none of them had slept a night in the house. Spencer had to fight back a blush when he saw the looks that Rossi and Morgan and then Prentiss and JJ shared. They knew that a christening was planned. Spencer was glad they didn't talk about it.
Jack brought up a sleepover for Henry that night but Aaron turned him down for that weekend. Jack had pouted but Spencer easily explained that it was their first weekend in the house and they were getting used to it and getting everything set up and Jack wouldn't have time to play with Henry but depending on a case he could the next weekend if his mom and dad said it was okay. Thankfully, JJ and Will said case willing as well.
After dinner, a wonderful dessert, coffee and more conversation the small dinner party started to break-up. Will and JJ were the first to leave with a sleepy Henry. Then Prentiss, who claimed she had a brunch date the next day and Garcia left with her. Dave and Morgan were the last to leave and they were happy that everything had worked out, that Spencer had admitted his feelings for the Unit Chief. Neither man had seen their friends as happy.
Finally, they were alone again in their room. Jack had drifted off to sleep and Aaron had put him in his own bed about a half-hour prior. Spencer was getting undressed when he felt hands on his hips turning him around.
“Happy?” Aaron asked as he slowly backed the younger man up.
“Very,” Spencer said as he cupped Aaron’s cheek.
“Good. I’m not done with you, Spencer.” They hit the wall and Spencer’s eyes widened as Hotch kissed him. This time a small bit of magic was pushed into the kiss and Spencer felt it across his lips. He moaned at the feeling as he arched into Aaron’s touch. Reaching up he grabbed the back of Hotch’s head and kept him there, deepening the kiss. He pulled away a moment and looked in Hotch’s eyes. All he saw was love and that simmering need that had been created by the bond.
“Can you do more of that?” Spencer asked as Hotch had started to undo Spencer’s jeans. The older man smiled wickedly as he kissed Spencer again.
“More of what?” Hotch rumbled against Spencer’s ear as he licked at the bottom of the lobe.
“That thing, with your magic?” Spencer asked almost shyly and Hotch was charmed by the blush that appeared on his face.
“You mean this?” Hotch started to mouth at the soft spot on Spencer’s neck that usually drove him crazy at the best of times, now he felt the tingle and warm heat of Aaron’s magic flow over him. He closed his eyes and reached out to pull Hotch closer to him. When he felt skin his eyes flew open and there was his lover completely naked. He wasn’t going to ask, he didn’t want the feeling of what Hotch was doing to him to stop.
Hotch ran his hands up Spencer’s sides as he let more of his magic loose. At one point the younger man was practically drowning in a combination of Aaron’s emotions and the magic pouring out of him.
“A-Aaron,” Spencer panted as he once again arched against Hotch. “Oh fuck,” he cried out when Hotch took his hard cock in hand but he didn’t move, but whatever he was doing was driving Spencer crazy.
“Spencer, I want you to push what your feeling into the bond, can you do that for me love?”
“Y-yes. Aaron, what are you doing?” Whatever it was it was incredible and Spencer felt weak in the knees at the warmth of Aaron’s hand around his cock, his wicked mouth was still nipping and licking along his neck and shoulders as his free hand was stroking him everywhere he could. All the while Hotch was pushing his magic into Spencer. He felt the stirring in his thighs as the pleasure continued to drive him crazy. He knew he wasn’t going to last much longer not with the man driving him, pushing him further and further towards orgasm.
“Spencer, let me feel you. Don’t be afraid, let go and let me feel what you’re feeling.” Aaron’s voice was low and husky against Spencer’s ear. He let go and let all he was feeling flow through him, the love and the torturous pleasure that Hotch was inflicting on him at the same time. He knew when Hotch felt it because he felt his lover’s cock grind against his thigh at the same time as that hot mouth covered his and before he could stop it he was coming.
Hotch thrust against Spencer a couple of more times and he felt his own release. He laid his head against Spencer’s shoulder, giving him butterfly kisses as they both started to come down from the intensity of what they were feeling.
“Wow.” Spencer swallowed hard as his arms came around Hotch holding him there for a moment longer.
“You could say that.” Hotch chuckled softly then finally pulled away. They both quickly cleaned up then slid into bed. Hotch was on top of Spencer looking down at him as his heart filled with such love it was near painful.
“I love you Spencer.” He closed his eyes and felt his love there and not just in the back of his head, he felt him all through himself.
“I love you too Aaron.” Spencer smiled and couldn’t help the happiness that bubbled up and burst through him. “Never turn into a kitten again.”
Aaron laughed so hard he fell next to Spencer pulling him on top of him.
“I don’t ever plan on it.” He carded his fingers in Spencer’s hair and let the younger man fall asleep on him. Hotch knew in that moment that this was the beginning of their forever.