“Uh.. Hi. My name is Spencer.”
“Hi Spencer,” the room of men said back to him.
It was Reid’s first time trying to speak at his sexual assault support group for men. He started the support group a week after he got back home and been attending for three weeks now in silence. When he first returned home, he felt like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. Like he could finally have a normal relationship and life.
Then it hit him.
Reid was starting to pull away from everyone, even Hotch. He wasn’t wanting the team over, didn’t want to keep up conversations, and avoided Hotch’s touch on numerous occasions. More than once, Reid would just be sitting reading or writing, and he would burst into tears, for seemingly no reason. He was extremely depressed, not eating or sleeping, and not wanting to work on himself.
After the first time Hotch found Reid on their bathroom floor, covered in blood from his own self-destructive coping mechanism, he knew something more needed to be done. He started to become scared that Reid was going to kill himself. Hotch requested an extended medical leave for Reid for one month and Hotch was able to combine two weeks of leave with two weeks of vacation time in order to stay home with Reid throughout the month.
After sharing these concerns with Reid’s therapist, Dr. Winchester, she increased Reid’s medication and therapy sessions. She also gave Reid and Hotch a list of support groups, Self-Harm Support, Child Abuse Victims Support, and Male Sexual Assault Victims Support, noting that he needed to start to attend one. Of course, Reid refused. That was until Hotch held his job over his head, stating that he would increase his medical leave to two months if he didn’t at least try.
That is how Spencer ended up sitting in a circle of chairs full of other men that had gone through similar situations as him. At first, Spencer hated the group. He went every session they had, which was three times a week. He thought it was pointless, that there was no way others would understand what he was going through when he barely understood himself. However, by the end of the first week, he was starting to find a small amount of comfort in hearing other’s stories and struggles. He wasn’t alone in his battle.
This Sunday afternoon session was the last one he was going to attend before he started work again Monday, so he figured he might as well try to say something as he might be on a case and not able to attend several meetings.
He sat in his chair in the circle, not too sure what to say. He fidgeted in his seat, tapping his foot, and playing with the buttons on his cardigan. “I—uhh…I don’t know what to say..”
“Say whatever you are comfortable with sharing,” The group leader, Tom, said with a kind smile. He was an older man with burn scars over most of his body, including parts of his face. He shared his story every time there was a new member in the group. His ex-boyfriend was abusive and one day after raping him until he passed out, he set the bed where Tom was laying on fire. Tom was able to wake up, jump in the bathtub, and turn the water on. The damage was done but he lived. Tom’s story and scars made Reid feel better about his own scars. He wasn’t the only one that wore their story on their skin. “Why don’t you start with why you are here?” Tom said after a minute of silence from Reid.
“Well.. I am technically here because my boss, who is also my boyfriend, said he was going to extend my medical leave a month if I didn’t try a support group..” Reid said plainly.
A young man that often went to the group spoke up, “Your boyfriend is your boss and he threatened you with your job? Are.. Are you safe, Spencer?”
Reid chuckled. He appreciated the concern, but he knew Hotch would never hurt him like that and if Reid really wanted he could go to Strauss himself. “Yes, sorry. That came off wrong. I work for… My job can be quite stressful, so he needs to make sure I am well enough to return.” Reid said, not wanting to give away too much information about his personal life.
“Good. Well, do you want to share why you are on medical leave?” Tom said.
“I was…” Reid paused, looking down at his dirty converse shoes, trying to gather his thoughts. “Did anyone here see the report about the Las Vegas Red Rock Canyon serial killer?”
This time a middle-aged man that only came Sundays spoke up, “Yeah. Some lawyer that had been raping and murdering kids for like 20 years. I read before he was caught he even kidnapped and raped his own— Oh…. Shit…. Sorry, man.”
Reid just nodded, still not looking up at the group. “He was my father.. about 36 days ago he kidnapped me and… hurt me… Just like how he did when I was a child…” Reid said, letting his words hang in the air. He didn’t directly say what happened, but he didn’t need too. The group understood. “He wasn’t the.. only man.. to do that… I tend to get kidnapped often it seems.” Reid said before pushing his cardigan sleeve up slightly and rubbing the handcuff scars that encircled his wrist. The room was silent. No one freaked out, no one doubted him or asked questions he was not comfortable with. It was nice. Just to be heard.
Reid couldn’t say anything else though. He was just glad he said something. He gave Tom a small nod and he said, “Thank you for sharing, Spencer. That was very brave of you. Who wants to go next?”
The rest of the meeting went as it always did. A few more men shared before Tom wrapped up the meeting by letting the group know that they were strong and worthy. He also informed them about several hotlines they could turn too if they needed additional support. The group started to break up, some men going straight to the parking lot, while others stood by the table at the end of the room getting more coffee or snacks, or talking with other members.
Reid didn’t get up right away, instead he checked his phone. The meeting had ended a few minutes early and Hotch hadn’t texted him saying he was there so Reid headed to the table to get some coffee. “Hey, Spencer.” Tom said as Reid walked up. “I am glad you shared some with us today.”
“Thank you.. I start work again tomorrow and I have to go out of town sometimes so I might miss a meeting or two.” Spencer said as he moved over and poured himself a to-go cup of coffee.
“Going back to work already?” Tom asked, looking concerned.
Spencer took a sip of his coffee, cringing at the bitter taste before putting it down and adding more sugar. “Yeah.. Well.. I still need to get final approval from the head of my department, but I already passed the psych eval. They have no reason not to approve my return.”
“Hmm.. I am not too sure about that.” Tom said, tapping the inside of his wrist.
How the hell.. Reid understood what he meant right away but didn’t want to admit it. “I am not sure what you mean..”
Tom sighed, “Spencer, I have been hosting this support group for years, I can see the signs of someone who is turning to.. Other forms of coping.” Reid went to speak but didn’t know what to say so he shut his mouth again, “It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it. Just be safe.” Something caught Tom’s eye behind Reid, so he turned around to see what it was.
It was Hotch walking into the room, looking around for Reid, who he spots right away, “Hey Spencer.” He said as he walked up the Reid and Tom. “Sorry to come in, my phone died on the way here and the car charger isn’t working.” Hotch said, making sure to not touch Reid. He wasn’t sure anymore how to touch Reid in ways that he was comfortable with. When Reid came home from Tobias, he was open to Hotch’s touch but now it was never clear. Sometimes Reid wanted to hold Hotch closely, kiss, and touch him in loving, non-sexual ways. Other times a simple hand on the shoulder was too much and he would flinch away. While it had improved over the past month, it was still difficult. He decided to just wait for Reid’s lead on how to touch him.
Reid smiled at Hotch and reached out to graze his hand, catching a few of his fingers with his own and holding them. “Aaron, this is Tom. The group’s leader. Tom, this is Aaron. My boyfriend.”
Tom gave a small wave, fully understanding how not everyone wants to shake hands or touch someone else. “Nice to meet you, Aaron.” Tom said before a different member calls his name from across the room, “I hope to you see at the next meeting, Spencer. Have a good night, gentlemen.” Tom said before walking away.
Reid slipped his fingers out of Hotch’s hand and instead looped his arm around his, hugging it slightly, “I talked today.” Reid said as the two men walked out to Hotch’s car.
“That’s great, baby. Did you find it helpful?” Hotch said, opening up Reid’s car door, waiting for him to get inside and shutting it behind him. It was a habit Hotch had picked up after driving Reid to countless support groups, therapists, and doctor’s appointments over the past month. At first, Reid complained, saying that he was a grown man that could open his own doors but then Reid started to love the simple act of support and love.
“I am not sure.” Reid said once Hotch got inside the car. “It was nice to be heard… Not that you don’t listen… It’s just…”
“They understand on a personal level,” Hotch said, finishing his sentence. “I get it, Spencer. That is the whole point of these groups.”
Reid reached over and turned the car radio on, noting that he didn’t want to talk anymore. He wasn’t upset at Hotch or anything. He just wasn’t as talkative as he used to be. Reid found himself turning on the radio or television more than ever just so he would not be left alone with his thoughts or feel the need to fill the silence with conversation.
Halfway through the drive home, Hotch noticed that Reid had fallen asleep on himself, which also was a common occurrence now. Reid was barely sleeping at night between his nightmares, unrealistic fear, and despite craving Hotch’s touch and comfort, not being able to always be touched without causing a panic attack.
Hotch switched the radio to something more soothing and took his time driving home. He even pulled through a drive-through and ordered fast food as quietly as possible to avoid waking the lithe genius. Some sleep was better than none. When he pulled into his assigned parking space next to Reid’s unused Volvo Amazon, he sat listening to the radio for an extra ten minutes before he woke Reid up.
“Hey, baby. We are home.” Hotch said, still not touching Reid.
“Mmm… Already?” Reid said rubbing one of his eyes with a balled-up fist, making Hotch smile. He got out of the car, food in hand, and went around to Reid’s side. He was already trying to drift back to sleep when Hotch opened up his door. “Ughh..” Reid groaned as he got out of the car, holding Hotch’s stretched out hand. Reid could be quite childish when he was sleepy, but he rarely let anyone see that side of him. Hotch was an exception to that rule.
He was the exception to most rules when it came to the young man. The rest of the team didn’t know the level of mental hardship Reid was going through. They didn’t know he lost even more weight, that he was going to support groups and his therapist so often, or that he was put on higher doses of medication. They didn’t even know his medical leave was extended due to his mental health. It wasn’t that Reid didn’t want them to know the truth, he just found it embarrassing.
The two men went upstairs to their shared apartment and got settled for the night. Hotch placed the food on the small kitchen table he had purchased with the sole intent of getting the two men to eat together, in hopes that it would encourage Reid to eat more, while Reid went to the bedroom and changed into his PJs. Hotch followed to do the same.
Sometimes Reid was comfortable changing in front of Hotch, other times he went to the restroom to change alone. Hotch changed in the restroom up until Reid noticed and told him that he had no problem with him changing near him or sleeping in his boxers for that matter. He wanted as much as possible to stay the same as it was before Las Vegas.
Hotch tried not to stare as Reid stripped off his shirt and pants. He discreetly eyed the young man, trying not to smile at the cute space-themed boxer briefs he was wearing. Hotch bought them for Reid just because he saw them on sale while he was shopping for more clothes for himself and he thought Reid might get a kick out of them. Turned out that Reid loved them, and Hotch loved the way they hugged his ass, so he bought more for him. Almost all of his underwear was replaced with cute patterned boxer briefs that Hotch had to really struggle not to stare at. He never thought that he would find another man’s ass this attractive, but he definitely did.
Reid pulled out a shirt, one of Hotch’s, and slipped it on before turning around and looking at Hotch, whose eyes darted up to Reid’s face. “I can feel your eyes on me, you know.” He said with a grin.
“Sorry.” Hotch quickly replied, blushing ever so slightly, which Reid loved. The fact that he could make the big, bad unit chief of the BAU blush like a schoolgirl was something that he treasured.
Reid stepped closer to his boyfriend, who was still standing near the door, and pulled him into a close hug. “Stop that. I told you I don’t mind you looking at me if I am out here.” Reid said into the crook of Hotch’s neck before pulling back and looking at his face. “I love you.”
Hotch smiled and said, “I love you too.” Before Reid moved one of his hands to cup Hotch’s jaw and kiss him gently. Hotch rested his hands on Reid’s hips, rubbing his thumb over slightly more prominent hip bones as the two kissed. Hotch always followed Reid’s lead when it came to intimate moments, even if they had yet to be more intimate then light kisses and roaming hands since they came back from Vegas.
Soon, Reid moved his hand off Hotch’s jaw and trailed it back behind his head, pulling him in further and deepening the kiss. Hotch let out an approving hum, which only egged Reid on. He opened his mouth a little more to welcome Hotch’s tongue. They eagerly mapped out the insides of each other’s mouths and Reid let out several light moans which shot straight to Hotch’s cock. He struggled to control himself as he knew he was starting to get hard and didn’t want to scare the young man.
Reid wasn’t worried though. He was feeling good. He had a great meeting, he starts work again tomorrow, he wasn’t going to let his fears get in the way of making out with his boyfriend. He ran one of his hands down Hotch’s back until he reached the hem of his shirt. He slowly moved his hand up the back of his shirt and dusted his fingers over his surprisingly soft skin.
Before they both knew it, Reid was tugging on Hotch’s shirt for him to take it off and Hotch happily complied. Reid ran his hands over every inch of Hotch’s chest and back as if he were trying to memorize the feeling. The two men continued their heated kiss as Hotch started to move his hands from Reid’s hips to waist, to around his back but stopping at Reid’s back dimples, as if he were for permission to go lower.
Reid understood the silent question and backed away from the kiss just enough to say, “I trust you.” Hotch smiled against his lips and ran his hands down Reid’s backside slowly before cupping his soft but tight ass and pulling him in even closer, causing Reid to let out a louder moan.
Hotch could no longer stop himself from getting an erection as Reid’s crotch was rubbing directly on his own. Having felt Hotch’s hardened groin, Reid started to grind his crotch forward into Hotch’s. They both continued to make out, rutting against each other like horny teenagers for several more minutes before Reid suddenly pulled away, causing Hotch to let go immediately.
Reid backed up, arms over his head in an X-shape, as if he were protecting himself against someone that wasn’t there. “No! Stop, please!”
Hotch threw his shirt back on, “Hey, baby. It’s okay. Look at me, please.”
Reid looked up threw his arms and then lowered them, “Damn… I am so sorry..” Reid said, trying to calm himself down.
“Don’t be sorry. I will never be mad about this, okay?” Hotch motioned to the bed and they both sat down, close but not touching. “Can you tell me what happened?”
Reid ran his hands over his bare, scarred thighs. He was still on edge and found himself wanting to pick at the healing cuts on his legs that he put there four days prior.
Per Dr. Winchester’s suggestion, Reid started to be completely transparent with Hotch. Telling him when he felt like cutting, when he did cut, when he was scared or feeling down and even when he was feeling good. Hotch had yet to betray his trust, and other than the one argument they had about Reid’s self-harm in the hotel bathroom in Las Vegas, he wasn’t angry or judgmental about his cutting. At the end of the day, it was Reid’s body to do with what he pleases. If he feels the need to cut it up, he is within his right to do so. Hotch always wondered if that was why he started cutting in the first place, to feel some sense of control over a body that was being used for someone else’s pleasure.
Hotch didn’t push the issue though. As long as Reid was willing to be open with him, he was glad to help. Even though he couldn’t always calm the monster in Reid’s head, helping him not turn to hurting himself just once was a win in his book.
After a moment to collect himself, Reid finally spoke up, “I—I don’t know.. It was great.. I was feeling safe and happy and surrounded by you… then he popped into my head. Suddenly it was him and I knew it wasn’t, but I needed it to stop!”
“Okay, okay. Good. I am glad you did what you needed.” Hotch smiled slightly, “I am proud of you.”
Reid sighed, “You are too good for me. Thank you, love..”
“No such thing. Now, I got us some food that is probably cold by now but that is why you invented the microwave.” Hotch said standing up and leaving Reid with a confused look on his face.
“I didn’t— The inventor of the microwave was Percy Spencer… Spencer… Ohh! How did you know that?” Reid stood up as well and followed Hotch to the kitchen.
“You know I do listen to you when you ramble on about things.” Hotch said, getting the forgotten bag of food from the table and throwing the whole thing in the microwave before Reid stopped him and pulled it back out. He separated the meals on two different plates and then put one plate in the microwave.
“But you remembered?” Reid asked once he turned the microwave on.
Hotch smiled again, “Do you really think I would forget you inventing the microwave? Not a chance.”
Reid laughed, music to Hotch’s ears. He missed that laugh. It doesn’t happen anywhere near the level it used too.
Hotch made cups of water while Reid finished heating up the food and placed the plates on the table. Hotch got a large burger with bacon and fries, and Reid got chicken nuggets and fries. Reid picked at his food in silence, something Hotch wasn’t sure if he would ever get used too. He missed hearing the young man’s voice drone on about things he barely understood, seeing his excitement when he spoke, and his hands move around to the words with spirit and whimsy.
Unexpectedly, Reid started crying. Several tears ran down his face on their own accord. Reid quickly wiped them but Hotch already saw, “Baby.. Are you okay?”
Reid looked as if he was having an internal struggle. Like he was battling a demon in his own mind.. And he was losing.
“Will… Will it ever be okay?”