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#derek morgan
ag-ib · 46 minutes ago
Derek and Spencer’s hearts have both stopped for a brief period. But only Spencer saw the ‘white light’
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drreidafterdark · 2 hours ago
Babe i don't know about you, but i always tought that derek and luke would be cute together, so i think that penelope x luke invites savannah x derek to make a 😏swap😏, like i know that penelope wants to fuck savannah more than derek
woah. i’ve never heard this—but i’m kinda into it. SAVANNAH SUPREMACY!!!!😩😩😩
penelope + savannah = 🍓🫐🍍🍉
i’ve never pictured derek and luke together but that’s probably bc we never see them on screen together. penelope literally called savannah hot and everyone still said she was straight🙄anyway—i think penny would be soft dom (savannah gives me subby vibes) but idk who would be the dom w/ derek x luke. or at least who the top is. idk lmk what y’all think.
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hotchgan · 3 hours ago
Derek Morgan
Dark blue
Dark purple
Dark green
Dark blue again
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cowboylikereid · 4 hours ago
Tolerate It | S.R
Summary: You and Spencer haven’t been the same recently. After three months, you find out why.
Pairing: Spencer Reid X Fem!Reader
Category: angst
A/N: this is my first time writing angst so yay!
Content warnings: Mentions of death (Haley), cheating, cursing
Inspired by this song.
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You weren’t sure about the moment it happened but ever since it did, nothing’s been the same.
You met Spencer around the time Haley was taken from Hotch. It was a sudden thing. The two of you clicked in a way no one else on the team seemed to connect. While you weren’t technically part of the team, they still treated you like family.
Spencer was the one to make the first move. He stumbled over his words as he asked you out. He knew a lot about the world but love was a different territory. He was relieved when you said yes, even though he knew you were going to say yes. The date was everything you could have hoped for. He picked you up at your door and you all went to a nice restaurant downtown. There were wrinkled noses from laughing and memories of inside jokes that you’d hoped would last a lifetime.
Ever since that night everything about your relationship just kept going up. It was pure love and adoration for the both of you. The team saw how happy Spencer had gotten and knew you were the cause of it. They knew he wore his heart on his sleeve and they knew it would be safe with you.
Slowly, things stopped being so sweet. You didn’t notice things immediately. You knew about his headaches and you knew he needed space when he had them. There had been a time when he’d need you but times change. You weren’t sure about the moment it happened but ever since it did, nothing’s been the same. 
“Spence,” you call gently from the kitchen. He was laying on the couch mindlessly watching something on TV. He hated TV. He always preferred to read or get the news from the paper. He doesn’t answer you but you know he heard. “Do you want anything to eat?”
“No,” he hums. Without another word, you go back into the kitchen to put away the food you’d fixed. Suddenly, you’d lost your appetite. It’s been like this for the past couple of weeks. He didn’t love you like he used to. He didn’t need you like he used to.
“How are your headaches?” You ask, scrubbing that had been left in the sink. When you go back into the living room, he has a book in his hands. It was a book you’d seen him read a lot recently.
“They’re getting better,” he replies blandly. His eyes scan quickly over the pages he’s read hundreds of times. The author was Thomas Merton. You only recognized the name from the other books he’s read. 
“Any cases recently?” All you wanted was for him to talk to you like he used to.
“Nothing too different.” Another bland answer. That’s all it was between you two. It used to be flirtatious bickering or inside jokes. You used to love listening to him ramble about statistics. There’s no quick flirts thrown across the room or spur of the moment dates to the park. There’s no rambling. Just silence.
You knew that simply talking about what was making you upset would help. The person who usually comforts you and plants a million little kisses on your head sits across from you, silent. With what energy you had left in you, you stand and grab your coat. He only glances up as you leave.
The air is cold as snow starts to fall lightly. DC was always your favorite when it snowed. Everything just seemed so quiet. At the moment, you’d rather hear anything else but silence. When you sit in your car, it’s slightly warmer. It’s not until you turn the car on that you feel a warm embrace. Switching the radio on, you start your drive.
“Hey,” the bright woman smiles at you from the other side of the door. “Come in, come in, you must be freezing.”
“Hey, Pen,” you smile sweetly.
“Sit,” she gestures, smiling lightly. “Guys, Y/N is here,” she announces. Derek and JJ come out of the kitchen. 
“Where’s Pretty Boy?” Derek asks. You and Spencer were attached at the hip. Wherever you were, Spencer was sure to be nearby.
“He’s actually why I’m here,” you mumble. Maybe it was something in your voice or maybe it’s the fact that they study human behavior for a living, but they sit on the couch across from you. “Has he seemed, um, different to you all?”
“He’s seemed good,” Penelope answers, confusion in her voice.
“He seemed happier than usual,” JJ agrees, a cup of hot coco in her hands. The words make your heart hurt more than you thought they would. So it was you that was upsetting him, not work, not something going on with his mom, and not any other possible factor. It was you.
“Wait,” Garcia whispers, noticing your silence. “Wait, what’s wrong, is he okay?”
“I need to go,” you croak, standing abruptly. Derek grabs your hand gently. 
“Y/N, what’s going on?” He asks gently. You wipe under your eyes before stuffing your hands into your pockets.
“He won’t talk to me,” you tell them. “He’s been distant and I thought it might’ve been his headaches but he’s happy when he’s not around me.”
“Y/N, you know he loves you,” Derek reminds. His words sting.
“Does he?” You question before you can process it.
“Has something happened?” JJ asks.
“I don’t know,” you shrug. “I thought we were good, hell, I thought we were great but apparently I was wrong.”
“Do I need to talk to him?” Derek proposes. You shake your head. The team saw you as a little sister. Derek always joked that if Spencer ever hurt you, he’d hurt him. At least someone’s word is true.
“No, I need to do this on my own,” you explain. JJ brings you in for a tight hug.
“It’ll be okay,” she assures softly. You give her a squeeze before pulling back. You repeat the actions with Derek and then Garcia. Garcia is a little more hesitant to let you go.
“I’ll see you all soon,” you grin sadly. They say their goodbyes and watch you walk out.
It takes every fiber in you not to break down as you drive home. When you arrive, you’re frozen. It’s like the cold has seeped in and taken over. Everything hurts. You’re telling yourself not to overthink but at this point it’s become a part of you. Keep driving and don’t look back. You take the keys out of the ignition and go back into your apartment.
By some miracle, it’s colder inside than it is outside. The flowers Spencer got you a couple of months ago are wilting in their vase. He’s sitting in his same spot, reading the same book.
“Can,” you croak. He looks up at you, not realizing you’d come back. “Can we talk?”
“What’s wrong?” He could’ve at least feigned concern but he didn’t. His voice is stoic. 
“What’s happening with us?” You force the words like the lines from a TV script. 
“What do you mean?” He puts the book down on the coffee table.
“You haven’t noticed?” You breathe. “You haven’t noticed the way we’ve grown distant? The way we don’t kiss or go out like we used to? Nothing?”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind recently,” he excuses. 
“You always made time for me,” you remind, “and I know it sounds selfish but I feel like I’m losing you, Spence.”
“You’re not losing me, Y/N,” he shakes his head, picking up his book again. 
“What were the last words I said to you before I left?” You question, leaning against the doorframe. His eyes search for the words but he can’t come up with them.
“I was focused on reading, Y/N, you can’t expect me-” he excuses.
“If I’m doing something wrong I need you to tell me.” He sighs and sets the book back on the table. His hands run through his hair.
“You’re not doing anything wrong, Y/N,” he groans.
“Then why won’t you talk to me?”
“I do talk to you,” he objects.
“No,” I bite back, “not like you used to. You’re not who I used to know. What happened to the jokes, the rambling, the flirting?”
“I just haven’t felt like flirting,” he shrugs. Fire burns in your stomach.
“Bullshit,” you hiss.
“Y/N, there’s no need to-”
“I want you to see this from my perspective,” you interrupt. “I cooked a meal today and you said you weren’t hungry, I try asking you about your headaches and you barely speak. You used to always love telling me about whatever was going on at work.”
“Not much has been happening at work,” he deflects.
“Derek says you’ve been pretty happy. Hell, happier than usual. Yet, here, you’re a completely different person. Why is that?”
“You talked to Derek?” He questions. He stands and walks into the kitchen. You know he’s trying to get out of the conversation.
“Yeah,” you reply, following him. “You clearly won’t talk to me so I went to someone who would. Why aren’t you happy here?”
“It’s nothing,” he mumbles. You grab his hands. Their usually comfort is gone. You’re not grabbing them to pull him close, you’re grabbing them to somehow keep him from slipping away from you. It’s too late.
“It’s something, Spence,” you strain, tears filling your eyes. “If this is all in my head, tell me now. If there’s something more I can do, tell me and I’ll do it. Tell me I’m wrong.”
He looks at you blankly. There’s no love or adoration in his eyes. He pulls his hands out of your grip.
“Is there someone else?” You blurt. The thought had lingered in the back of your mind but you didn’t want to admit it to yourself. So, you pushed it back and hid it for the last three months. The look in his eyes tells you all you need to know. As hard as he tried, Spencer couldn’t lie to you. You knew him too well. “Is she the one who told you about Thomas Merton?”
“I’ve read his work before,” he speaks. His voice is weaker now.
“But you’ve never had his books. I’ve reorganized that bookshelf a million times and I’ve never seen his name.”
“I’ve read a million more books than you know, Y/N.”
“Is that it?” You question. “Am I not smart enough for you?”
“It’s not that-” he begins.
“Then what?” You question, reaching your breaking point. “I do everything I can for you. I sit and listen, I hold you when you have nightmares about a case, I wait for you to come home at three in the morning. What’s she doing that I can’t?”
“Y/N, stop,” he demands.
“What’s her name?” You interrogate. He rolls his eyes and tries to walk past you. “What is her name, Spencer?”
“Maeve,” he mumbles. You couldn’t believe it. All those nights of laying awake at night, trying to read him, trying to read what’s going on in his mind. All of that for it to be another girl. He senses the hurt. It bounces off of you like radiation. “You wanted to know.”
“And you didn’t care to tell me?” You tried so damn hard to keep yourself from boiling over but every word made it worse.
“I figured it would be-”
“You figured it would be easier to let me find out like this? To find out you were cheating on me after three fucking years? What kind of person does that?” He parts his lips to answer but you speak before he does. “A coward.”
“I’m not a coward, Y/N,” he hisses. You scoff.
“Really?” You counter, crossing your arms over your chest as if it’ll protect your already broken heart. “Because I know damn well the Spencer I knew would have gone to the ends of the world for me because he knew I would do the same. Do I take up too much space and time? Am I sleeping where she should be?”
“Y/N, stop.”
“No,” you shout. It’s the first time you’ve ever raised your voice at him. You’ve reached your breaking point and he could tell. “What’s she like, Reid?”
The name took him back. His team called him Reid. You called him Spence or Doc as a joke. Reid was a new word for a new man. A man who didn’t love her like he used to. Hell, he didn’t love her at all. “I don’t know.”
“How do you not know?” You grit. “She made you stop loving me so what is it? Is she smarter? Prettier? Does she understand what you’re saying when you talk about statistics?”
“I,” the next words would shatter you. “I haven’t met her yet.”
Your mouth hangs open in pure shock. “All of this over a woman who you’ve never met?”
“I was planning on meeting up with her soon,” he explains.
“Were you going to tell me or leave me to continue filling her spot?” Your words are barely above a whisper.
“I’m so sorry,” he attempts.
“No,” you scoff. “No, you’re not. How long has this been going on?”
“Three months,” he confesses.
“Three months,” you repeat. “You traded in three years with someone who you claimed was the love of your life for someone you met three months ago?”
“I didn’t see her like that then,” he attempts to explain. You shake your head.
“I’ll come get my stuff when you’re out on a case.”
“I’m leaving, Spencer,” you shrug. “You’ve seemed to have tolerated me enough so I’m making it easy for you.”
“Please don’t.” He picks at his nails. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You made your bed with her so go lay in it,” you bite. You can see the hurt behind his eyes but you didn’t care. He didn’t care about breaking you so why should you care? Without another word, you grab your bag and leave, slamming the door behind you. The sudden change makes the picture of the two of you fall, shattering it and leaving it in nothing but ruins.
This hurt me to write lol. =D
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Spencer: Is stabbing someone immoral?
Derek: Not if they consent to it.
Emily: Depends who you’re stabbing.
Hotch: Yes?!
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fjareau-prentiss · 5 hours ago
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even in the earlier seasons, Emily Prentiss had a lot of potential in being a leader, and she even proved herself multiple times that she can work side by side with these incredible men with the same tenacity and mastery
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car-dealership-wavy · 5 hours ago
Thinking about Derek Morgan 💙
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lovereid · 6 hours ago
The Narrative of Spencer Reid: Chapter Three
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summary: spencer and freya are in an argument
pairing: spencer reid and oc!freya bryn
genre: love, angst
warnings: death, maeve’s death, (kind of) nsfw, flashback to the night in alaska
count: 1K
author’s note: chapter three and four are hand in hand!
series masterlist
Spencer Reid, to no avail, loathed the thought of an undercover marriage with Freya Bryn. Hotch had brought Spencer and the Freya to his office, and to say the least, it hadn’t gone as Hotch had wished.
“What?!” Spencer had said, furious. He’s furious that Hotch, that Freya, had thought a cliché undercover marriage would lure in a notorious unsub, and that it’d mend the broken relationship they had.
“No, I don’t consent, I won’t consent.” He said. Hotch sighed, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Spencer, I hate you more than you hate me, and if I thought that this undercover marriage wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t even have bothered to ask.” She said, and Spencer felt his anger rise.
“Oh, you didn’t hate me when you were pretending to be Maeve in bed!” He said, forcing a defense mechanism.
“Spencer.” She said, and brought her lips to his cheeks, and shivers travelled down his back.
“Perhaps, you’re not as good in bed as you think you are?” She asked in a whisper.
“That I faked the pleasure, the orgasm, the pretending to be Maeve. Spencer, you imagined yourself in bed with your dead girlfriend, is that the only way you can get it up, huh?” She said, and Spencer’s cheeks flushed a dark blush, speechless.
Spencer thought back to that night in Alaska, where she’d lay under him, her hands tangled in his hair. He’d kissed bruises to her that she’d hide with concealer, and whispered sweet nothings to her that she’d remember.
And then, he said her name. Maeve.
He’d whispered it softly, “Maeve,” so softly, that he thought she hadn’t heard, but oh, she had.
“Spencer Reid, love me, hate me, you’re my husband.” She whispered, and kissed his cheek.
“Why don’t you have a thought about that, Spencer?” She asked, standing.
And Spencer Reid had a thought about that, for sure.
After Freya’s threat to Spencer, Hotch led them to the conference room, where the rest of the team sat, waiting.
“Alright, let’s get started.” Hotch said, and gestured for the liaison to take charge of the presentation.
“As I said, I waitressed at The Top of the Hub in Boston, and two couples were found murdered on Boylston Street in the last forty-eight hours.” She said, and gestured to the case files on the table.
“The first couple, Lauren and Ren, had dinner at the restaurant, celebrating their five year anniversary. They were there from five-o’-clock to seven-o’-clock, and were found dead within twelve hours. The second couple, Rochelle and Drey, had dinner, celebrating their one year anniversary. Again, they were there from five-o’-clock to seven-o’-clock, and were found dead within ten hours.” She said, and Spencer traced the file, reading.
“So, he’s out for a young, married couple celebrating their anniversary, there’s a chance a girlfriend broke up with him at that restaurant on their anniversary.” He said, and Rossi hummed in agreement.
“Oh, Caroline broke up with me on an anniversary.” Rossi said, and the liaison raised her eyebrow.
“No one cares, David.” She said, and placed the case file on the table.
“Spencer and I are undercover, a young married couple who’s celebrating their third anniversary.” She said, and glanced at Spencer.
“Thirty hours, fifty-nine minutes, and ten seconds til the unsub’s at The Top of The Hub.” She said, and regarded Hotch, Rossi, Jennifer, Emily, Derek, and Spencer.
“Wheels up.”
The New England weather had changed from rain to sunshine in minutes, as had Spencer’s behavior to Freya. What she had said had given him a thought, a thought that he’s afraid of her.
Spencer and Freya were at the conference table in the Boston Police Department, reading through the case files, cold and bitter coffee in their hands.
She gathered her hair in a bun, her cashmere sweater travelled from her hips to her breasts, and Spencer glanced at her delicate, porcelain skin. The bruises from where he’d held her as she cradled his face had faded, but the thought of her, with her head thrown back, and her hair framing her face, hadn’t.
“The unsub’s in his twenties.” Spencer said, the remembrance had given him an epiphany. Freya tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and read Spencer’s case file.
“Why’d you say that?” She asked, her brows furrowed. Spencer gestured to the paragraph, where he’d made thousands of annotations.
“The unsub strangled the first couple, the woman had “whore” written on her cheeks in lipstick, but he stabbed, and eviscerated the second couple, with the lipstick in the wife, after the evisceration.” He said, and Freya gasped.
“The first couple, it’s his first, and with the second, he’s decided his preferred method.” She said, and gathered the case files.
“Let’s deliver the profile.”
Spencer and Freya had gathered with the others in the conference room, the annotations and notes written from the board, to the sticky notes in Spencer’s pocket.
“The unsub’s a white male in his twenties, he probably had a wife, or fiancé who broke up with him at The Top of the Hub on an anniversary, and has thought that if he can’t celebrate an anniversary, no one can.” Spencer said, and gestured for Freya to continue.
“The unsub strangled the first couple, and wrote “whore” on the wife, that presents the thought that he hasn’t murdered before, and the wife is the primary victim, the husband is murdered because he’s a witness, but he’s aroused from that as much as he is from the wife’s murder.” She said, and placed her hands on the table.
“There’s fifteen hours, twenty-one minutes, and thirty seconds til he’s going to attempt to murder me and Spencer.”
@rigatonireid @altsvu @luvofyourlifeliv @harriesneverlose @spencergubler @meganskane @reidsacademia @reidtheprettyboy @reidsconverse @jareids @spencersawkward @saspencereid @moreidsdaughter @sassymoon @jj-arms @reiding-recs @ssa-m-187 @shadyladyperfection @willowrose99 @trickassmotherfucker @nani-2305 @purpledragon-1995 @jswessie187 @slaytherinthoughts @maxcerr @reichelhache @ilovespencerreidmarryme @idonotexiste @big-galaxy-chaos @rem-ariiana @flipperpenguins @mystical-and-modern-marauder @muffin-cup
and my favs:
@hercleverboy @reidyoulikeabook @toddspoet @homoose @idmakeitbehave @mercy-burning @spacedikut
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jemily21 · 6 hours ago
Emily: *being annoying*
JJ: Emily stop being annoying or I will fuck you-
Emily: *is annoying as possible*
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yourlocalheartbreaker · 7 hours ago
neptune’s ocean (wash this blood)
Okay so, I ended up on the part of TikTok that has A Thing for Hotch’s hands, and I decided to make it angsty. And then it had a happy Mortch ending? I don’t know... 
The title is a reference to Macbeth: “Will all great Neptune’s wash this blood from my hands? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” It’ll make sense when you read.
This was cathartic to write, especially given the conversation I had today. I hope it is somewhat cathartic to read. You can heal. You can move on, you can be happy, and your biggest fears may never come true, no matter what your brain says. As usual, no proofreading, or dialogue.
Word Count: 2486
Trigger Warnings: child abuse, blood, vomit, guns, death, grief/mourning, intrusive thoughts, survivors guilt
read on ao3!
He can’t bring himself to look at his hands. They’d never been something he’d actually focused on. He’d never thought they were cute the way Jack’s were, or hated how slender his fingers were, so unlike the stereotypical hero. He didn’t pause his life to watch them carry out household tasks the way Haley always had.
Haley. Haley who is dead, and gone and cold, and whose blood coats his hands like a second skin. She loved his hands. She always told him how she loved everything about him, but his hands were her favourite thing. She loved how soft they were. How strong they were. Everything about them. 
In their first apartment, with the random photos and multi-coloured walls and traces of themselves and love everywhere, she had confessed this love to him. He had laughed when she couldn’t explain what she loved, or why. Haley had thrown a pillow at him in retaliation. But when they ended up laying on the sofa, both claiming they would go and clear the kitchen in a moment, she had linked their hands over her chest and kissed his knuckles.
And confessed that part of the reason she loved them was that they were so much bigger than hers.  When Aaron asked her why, Haley turned away and said it was embarrassing. He convinced her to tell him. How, he wasn’t sure. But she told him.
It was because they made her feel safe.
But as he sits in the living room that had once been full of love and life and joy and her, his hands being wiped of all of his sins as though they were as easy to bury as her body, he thought about how those same hands she loved had only hurt her.
He looks down, needing to see the traces of blood before they’re removed forever. As he does so, the limbs start to blur before his eyes. His eyes swim with tears and his throat starts to close. How many times before today has he washed them? Scrubbed at the pain until the skin turned red and raw?
How many times had he succeeded at rubbing it away? At hiding it, not just from everyone else, but from himself? And how many more times would he have to repeat the motion before his hands were clean? Would they ever be clean?
He wipes the tears from his eyes. He doesn’t deserve to cry. Not now. Not after everything he has ruined. 
Moments flash through his mind all at once.
Aaron Hotchner is eight.
His father is drunk- but that’s not an excuse, not now and not ever, although he will only learn that at thirteen in a boarding school meant to destroy him- and he does not understand what is going on. 
But his father has taken the belt from his trousers and brought it down on too small for his age hands until he sees blood. His hands tremble uncontrollably. Tears stream down his face, but there is no sympathy or kindness waiting for him. Not this time. 
The next day, he can hardly hold his pen. Nobody seems to notice or care. So he grits his teeth and bears the pain. It is the first time he finds himself doing such a thing, but it will by no means be the last.
Aaron Hotchner is fourteen. 
Someone insults his mother. And they aren’t wrong. He will realise this in a few years: that his mother was just another victim, but in that moment, he is just a teenager angry at the world for letting him live. But whilst he knows it to be true, Sean does not. Sean does not understand that their mother is not perfect, and is just as broken as his brother’s spirit.
Sean is scared. No, he’s terrified that their mother is going to be taken from them and that they’ll never see her again. Aaron feels guilty for wishing that would happen- that both their parents would be taken away, and they would be carried off by someone that can love them the way a parent is meant to be. 
Sean is scared, and Aaron is meant to ensure that never happens. He punches the boy.
It hurts his hand more than it hurts the other boy’s face, but he still ends up being suspended. His father hurts his hands again. It’s in that moment that he finally makes a wish: that he would never be like his father, even if he was his mirror.
Aaron is seventeen. 
Somehow, he finds himself at Haley’s home. Her parents are away for the weekend. His are still in that wretched house, playing roles in front of their guests and destroying the set behind closed doors. 
His hands are covered in blood because his father hit too hard.
Jessica, who is back from college, and the reason their parents are not at home, answers the door. She starts to close it when she sees that it is him. But then she sees how scared he looks, and finally understands why Haley is so protective over this boy. 
She lets him in, and does not let him apologise. She summons her sister. His girlfriend.
Haley hugs him. She has suspected this for a while now- everyone has- but she’s going to be different in the way that she is going to act. His fists remain clenched at his side as she makes this decision. Because this is a mistake. He cannot ruin her as well. He needs to walk away.
But Haley and Jessica don’t let him. Haley takes his hands and in the same way Derek will twenty years later, wipes the blood away without blinking or flinching. And then Jessica bandages them up, making sure to use antiseptic to prevent infection. It stings. He doesn’t react. It’s nothing compared to his father.
He tries to ask them how they know what to do, and they both shush him. When Jessica wipes her eyes, and Haley pats her back, he remembers the days they would spend at the church, and the women that would spend hours with them, only returning to their homes when the sun went down.
It is enough to make him vomit. They clean that up without judgment.
And then, and then-
Aaron is twenty-six. 
He is graduating from law school, just like he is supposed to. His hand is shaken. He does not flinch away, even though he wants to. He doesn’t recoil because Haley and Jessica are sitting in the audience, the only people he even wanted to watch him walk across the stage. 
Their cheers are the only thing he can hear.
When Haley hugs him, and Jessica tells him how proud she is, he knows it isn’t just because he made it.
Aaron is twenty-eight.
He is dancing with Haley at their wedding.
Her hands are so much smaller than his. So much gentler. So much softer. So much more human. And so beautifully void of scars. So perfect.
He makes one final vow that he will never say aloud. He will always keep her safe. No matter what happens.
Hotch is thirty-two.
He shoots someone dead for the first time. The medics come running in to check the injuries on the hostages. To confirm the time and cause of death.
He drops the gun. Dave’s words- don’t let them see you break- echo somewhere in his mind, but he cannot help the display of vulnerability. His knees buckle. He hits the ground with trembling hands. He pulled the trigger that released the bullet that ended someone’s life.
On the train journey home, he pretends to be fine. Jason and Dave pretend to not notice that he is silently falling apart.
The door to his home- the only one he has ever known- closes. As Haley holds him, he cries. And then he tries to push her away because is going to destroy her. It’s in his blood. His father destroyed him, and his father destroyed him, and it is a vicious cycle that he cannot break.
But Haley does not let go.
When the tears stop, she asks. He manages to force the truth out. Haley tells him everything is okay, and that he did the right thing, that he will move on from this. Aaron pretends to believe her, and pretends he doesn’t see her shift away from him ever so slightly.
Perhaps this is the moment their marriage starts to end.
Aaron is thirty-four.
A nurse is placing his son in his arms. Haley is watching them both with a smile. He mirrors that smile. so in awe at her for giving birth.
He’s in awe of his son as well. Jack- named for Jacqueline, the mother Hotch gained from and lost to the job- is tiny. Aaron cannot quite believe he is real. Jack Gideon Hotchner is so small, but so trusting that the arms holding him will keep him safe.
So just as quickly as the awe overwhelmed him, the fear sets in. What is he doing holding a baby so small and precious? He will ruin this child. He needs to let go.
He hands the baby to Haley, and runs to the bathroom. His meagre dinner- fear for Haley had stopped him from eating properly- makes a second appearance.
Haley knows what happened- she always does. She doesn’t force him to explain what went through his head, nor does she tease him about not being able to handle the sight of childbirth like the nurses do, so blissfully unaware of the monsters that haunt his nightmares.
Instead, Haley lays Jack down in the cot beside her bed. And then she takes Aaron’s hands, covering them with her own. She presses a soft kiss to his knuckle. Almost like she is silently promising him the same thing: that he will not hurt this child the way he was.
Suddenly, he is in the present.
Aaron is thirty-nine.
He is sitting in the living room of the home he had built with Haley. The home they were supposed to raise Jack in. Together. But now she is gone. She is gone and it is all his fault. 
He let George Foyet escape. And then he took too long to work out his final plan. He took too long to get to the house. So now Haley is gone. Jack will grow up without a mother and a father that cannot trust himself to touch him without causing harm.
How can he?
He has killed a man. A person. A person who had surrendered, with nothing more than his bare hands. He killed the man that had murdered Haley, in order to save Jack, but what kind of person does that make him? How is he supposed to comfort his son by hugging him and holding him when the blood would never be washed from his hands? 
How could it?
He is worse than his father.
Derek leaves him after he finishes with the bandages. 
He returns a few seconds, minutes, hours- Hotch doesn’t know, time has become nothing to him- later. He returns to Hotch sobbing over all the things he has loved and lost since he was born.
Derek doesn't say a word. He doesn’t need to. He knows nothing he says will make the situation better. Instead, he takes Aaron’s hands and lets the man cry.
Healing- physical and emotional- takes time. Rationally, Aaron knows it will, but it’s still a difficult thing to accept. It takes longer than he wants it to.
 It angers him- that it’s taking him so long to get back to normal and move on. The grief counsellor (the one Derek urged him to see, if not for his own sake, then for Jack’s) reminds him that it’s normal. If it were anyone else, Hotch would tell them to let themselves feel, and to give themself time to mourn.
But he is supposed to be the leader of the BAU. And although he can hardly look at Jack without tears forming, he is a father. He needs to be there for his son. So whilst everyone- colleagues, family, Jack’s counsellor, his own therapist- tells him he needs to take care of himself as well, he just can’t.
He can’t bring himself to eat. He can’t bring himself to let go of the guilt. He can’t bring himself to mourn. He can’t bring himself to accept that Haley is gone, nothing more than a casket, a headstone, photos and the memories and stories her loved ones cling to.
There is so much he cannot do. Too much that he feels.
Yet no matter what seems to happen, no matter how sad he feels, how angry he gets at the world, Derek seems to stick around. When Aaron is terrified of hurting someone he loves, Derek is there to remind him he won’t. When he is so tired he can’t even sleep, but Jack wakes from a nightmare, Derek stays awake and reads to him.
When he forgets to eat.
When counselling drains him of his energy.
When his hands shake too much to point the gun at the target during his re-certification training.
When he can’t even look at his hands because of all the harm they have caused.
Derek stays, even when Aaron cannot hug his son.
Aaron Hotchner is forty-three years old.
It has been three years since Haley’s death.
Two years ago, he let go of his guilt. One year and nine months ago, he let go of his fear of moving on, as he realised he could love someone and remember her all at once. Seven months ago, he built up the courage to tell Derek how he truly felt.
Derek had kissed him, soft and gentle and perfect. It had been exactly the same and completely different to the first kiss him and Haley had shared. Because it had been perfect, and it had been unexpected, but it had been less desperate and less messy.
Derek had kissed him, and Aaron had felt peace. He knows Haley is proud of him.
Derek is watching him. The man who had lost everything and then found a way to carry on. The man who put everyone above himself, but is learning to care for himself. The man who still wakes up screaming, but who has learnt to breathe without fear of timing running out. 
The man he loves.
Jack is holding an ice-cream in one hand as he and Hotch walk side by side, down to where Morgan is waiting to surprise the boy- not so little anymore- with a trip to the bowling alley for his birthday. 
Jack holds his hand out for his dad to take.
And what does Aaron do?
He takes Jack’s hand in his own, without a single ounce of hesitation.
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