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Second Chance

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Prologue

Aaron Hotchner was not a coward by any stretch of the imagination. However, still, he sat there in his car outside of Spencer's apartment like he was a stalker. That wasn't the issue; it was the fact that Aaron didn't want to do what he was getting ready to do, but he needed to focus on Jack. Jack's nightmares were not getting better, even after the boy had started to just sleep in bed with Aaron. He was afraid of Aaron dying when he left to go to the store while Jessica stayed with him.

There was no way that Aaron could go back to work at the moment. The offer from Strauss was something that was very nice. It would allow him to help consult on cases at a point where he was the one to make it known. He could teach a few classes at the Academy. It was a nearly full retirement as well as access to the ability to conceal and carry by a grant offered by the FBI. There were other dangers out there, and even with good conviction rates and long times in, Aaron had been in the FBI just long enough for some people to start to get out. Aaron wasn't going to be left behind to get attacked, not after George Foyet had ripped Haley away from him. They might have been divorced, but Jessica was right that he still loved her in a way. It was a soft love that he held for the woman who birthed his son, who was raising him in the best way possible, despite the fact that for a while, Haley hated Aaron's guts.

Haley had never said a bad word about Aaron in front of Jack. Even after Aaron's job had put her and Jack into WitSec, or at least it seemed that way to Aaron, given how much Jack was clinging to him. No agent expected work to follow them home like that. No other UnSub in the BAU's history had targeted someone like that. Bale was the closest, but even that had been much different. There was so much that Aaron couldn't do for Jack if he weren't around, and Aaron refused to do that. Not when Jack needed him the most.

Strauss had made sure that the door would always be open for Aaron to come back as an instructor later on when Jack was settled and better off. Aaron was thankful for that.

Looking at the window to Spencer's apartment that he sat at and played chess, Aaron was startled to see Spencer standing there looking down at him. Aaron couldn't make out the look on his face as he was too far away, but he was pretty sure it was confusion. Aaron had only ever been to Spencer's place to drop him off, or lately, pick him up so that he didn't have to take the train with a cane and his leg injured like it was. Aaron got out, leaving everything but his keys behind in the vehicle. This wasn't going to be a long visit. Aaron had saved Spencer for last not because of how little regard he had for him but because he had a lot of regard for him. It wasn't hard to see that Spencer had a great affection for Aaron. At least, recently, it had been very evident. Aaron hadn't ignored the feelings that were inside of him. He had even gone to Strauss to give her the heads up what he was feeling for Spencer and that he was going to pursue a relationship with him.

Now, everything was messed up because right now, Aaron couldn't divide his time at all.

Aaron entered the building and looked around for the elevator and saw that there was no one. He frowned. Spencer had never mentioned that. Aaron wondered how in the hell Spencer had been getting up and down the stairs on crutches before he had moved to using a cane. It was ridiculous that Spencer had not asked someone else for help. Aaron started up the stairs, not shocked to see that Spencer's apartment door was open, and Spencer was standing there. He looked off to Aaron.

"Hello," Aaron said.

"Hi," Spencer said back. He leaned against the door jamb to the apartment and crossed his arms over his chest. "Morgan already called and warned me that you were on your way to me, given that he had talked to everyone else, and I was the last and hadn't heard from you."

"Can I come inside?" Aaron asked.

"No, you've never been in my apartment, and the 'it's not you, it's me' speech would ruin the space of my apartment."

"What?"

"There is no other reason for you to stay down outside of my apartment for an hour and sit in your car, Hotch."

Aaron flinched a little at that because he hadn't been called Hotch by Spencer in months unless they were working.

"I have to do this."

"I agree that you need to take care of your son. I understand that. As much as I would love to have you stay in the job because the team is functioning pretty well at the moment, I know that the team can't stay like it is forever. It's impossible. So I have to adapt. That can't be what is keeping you down there, so it has to be our building personal relationship. If you were just asking for something short like a few weeks or a month to get Jack settled down into a new life, you wouldn't hesitate. You are not a coward, Hotch."

"This is better happening inside." Aaron really didn't want to get into it with Spencer out in the middle of the hallway.

"Again, I would rather not look at my couch and remember the break-up."

"This-" Aaron stopped because it was just that. Even if they hadn't been fully dating just yet, just random hanging out and a meal here and there. Hell, they had never even kissed. Aaron had jumped too quickly into a relationship with Haley when they had been younger. Aaron didn't want to make that mistake with Spencer, and yet it seemed he was making new ones. "Yes. I can understand that."

"You don't need to explain it, Hotch. I understand. Jack needs you, and I'm not that big of an asshole. He just lost his mother in the worst way possible, and it's not like we can just push that all away and go on like nothing happened. He needs to understand that you are dedicated to him. Maybe someday down the road, you'll have time to start a relationship. I'm happy for the time that we had, as your co-worker, your friend. I have work in the morning. I need to make sure that I get enough sleep since it's probably going to be Morgan who will step up to cover for you while it's decided if he's going to stay long term or they are going to bring someone else in. With Rossi in place as a firm second, I don't see why they wouldn't just keep things the way they are."

Logic and facts were things that Spencer Reid used to hide away from the world, Aaron had known that since he had met him. Aaron would make sure to let Morgan and JJ know to watch him closely. It wouldn't be fair for Aaron to be the on to rip that way and then just leave Spencer broken behind. Aaron hated that he was that known to Spencer that he had figured it all about before Aaron could give him the speech he had been working on for nearly an hour.

"Just keep in touch and let me know how you and Jack are doing, please. And if you need anything, I mean anything, just reach out." Spencer stepped forward, closing the gap between them and kissed Aaron on the cheek, lingering there just a second or two too long before he turned and was inside of his apartment before Aaron could say anything. "Goodbye, Hotch." Spencer shut the apartment door without a glance back to Aaron at all.

Aaron wanted to get angry, but he knew that this was the way that Spencer was going to be. He didn't beg, he didn't plead. Time and life had taught him that neither of those brought people back to him, so there was no sense in doing it. Still, at least then, Aaron would feel like he was losing something that Aaron himself was broken up over losing. This wasn't the end that he thought, but Aaron would make sure that Spencer knew that he was going to come back. When things were settled, and Jack was better and didn't need Aaron's continual presence in his life, Aaron would win Spencer back.