- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Discussion-Domestic Abuse
- Discussion-Sexual Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- Hate Crimes
- Crime Drama
- Established Relationship
- Urban Fantasy
Aaron didn’t trust the Shea pack at all. He especially didn’t like Ethan, the man that had come to replace Jake Shea as the go-between between the cops and the pack. There was something creepy about Ethan that made Aaron’s skin crawl. He had no proof a single bad thing to do with Ethan so it wasn’t like he could throw him in jail. Steven O’Halloran and Matthew Lighthouse were staying in the station in a show of unity. There were enough pack members in an out that Aaron didn’t find it strange at all. It’s where he would be if someone were killing members of his pack. He didn’t mind it at all, and he was glad that they were not causing an issue. They spent a lot of time on the phone and talking to officers who were bringing in people.
O’Halloran had made sure that his people were fed after they gave statements if they were one of the last to see someone alive. Lighthouse even held onto the baby of a couple who was interviewed. They seemed like the kinds of pack leaders who actually cared about their pack as a whole instead of just the status of being a leader.
“Agent Hotchner?” Clemmons asked as he walked up with a bottle of pressed juice in his hand. He handed it over. Aaron saw that it was his favorite flavor. “Doctor Reid asked me to give that to you.”
“Thank you, Detective. You don’t have to be our little gopher, you are a detective in your own right.”
“I know, but Agents Morgan and Prentiss are talking to Doctor Reid, and a lot of it was over my head, so I started to leave and remembered when Agent Jareau had brought that in for you but you were busy. I was going to ask, but Doctor Reid said you were thirsty for more than just coffee and since I was leaving if I could take it to you that would be awesome.”
“You can call us by our last names. We like you, we don’t make people we like stand on ceremony. I’m Hotch, and Agent Jareau is JJ other than that last names.”
“Yes, Mister Hotch,” Clemmons said with a wink.
“So you seem like you need to ask questions. Ask away. Unless you ask about private things, I don’t bite.”
“Well, I remember my father used to talk about the days when an Alpha rules the pack and that things were better but was forced to drop that and just become a pack leader instead of an Alpha.”
“That’s complicated, and it has almost everything to do with the fact that it takes more than an Alpha to run a pack. Wolves and such that is fine there is also the fact that packs are more than just wolves. Wolves were one of the first Shifters that we have recorded the history of but as the tribes of our ancestors moved around the planet, more and more various animals were found. Like Morgan, he’s a Grizzly Bear, and he’s every bit the persona. Bears don’t live in packs. There are a lot of animals that don’t live in packs like that, so the Alpha part was dropped. Your pack is all foxes. Some like to live in skulks, and others don’t. They don’t have true Alphas like wolves do. We are no longer slaves to the nature of the wolves to make us be a group. We are pack, we are family.”
“That’s something that my father talked about, being a family but yet he threw me out.”
“That’s because your father is weak. Just because you are not a Shifter doesn’t mean that your children, if you have them, won’t be. That’s how packs stay alive, breeding. You are just as likely to have a Shifter child as not. Now though because you are not in the pack, you will go to a different one and spread your family out among it. It’s killed a lot of packs before that kind of thinking. You should have been kept in the pack, treated like true family and then your kids would have grown up among a good family.”
“Thanks, Agent Hotchner,” Clemmons said. His face that said he was very happy for the knowledge even though it made him upset and Aaron understood him using his rank was a sign of respect. Clemmons nodded and then he was walking away. Aaron saw that O’Halloran and Lighthouse were talking between each other and kept on looking at the room where Spencer was alone for the moment. Morgan and Prentiss were probably talking to the next group of pack members. Aaron looked around to see that Dave was talking with JJ as another set was being led back into the interview rooms.
Aaron was keeping an eye on everything as O’Halloran and Lighthouse were acting up. Aaron’s phone chimed seven minutes later, and he saw the ME was ready to talk to him and to Spencer about what was found on the bodies. Aaron started back to where Spencer was when he saw that O’Halloran ad Lighthouse was entering the room Spencer was in. Aaron frowned and followed but didn’t make himself fully known. They both stopped several feet from Spencer and did not block the door at all. It showed that as of right now their intent wasn’t to trap or to so far be mean to Spencer. Aaron leaned against the doorway and waited to see what was going to happen.
“Agent Reid, can we talk to you?” Lighthouse asked as he shuffled in place.
Spencer was ignoring them or not even noticing that they were there. It was one of the reasons why Aaron didn’t like him being alone. Though Spencer knew that Aaron was in the building waiting on the ME with the newest body so he knew that Aaron would be watching, even if he was alone in the room. Spencer turned the page in the report that he was reading and his fingers were loose like they usually were. He didn’t even realize that they were in there. Aaron pushed off the door jamb and walked the long way around the table to get to where Spencer was, making a show of him walking slow. As soon as he had cleared around the table to be in eyesight but Lighthouse and O’Halloran straightened up and kind of looked like deer in the headlights.
“Reid,” Aaron said as he clasped his hand on Spencer’s shoulder.
Spencer read to the end of the page and looked up at Aaron who just nodded his head over to where the other two leaders were.
“Oh, sorry. Can I help you?”
Lighthouse’s eyes flicked up to Aaron for a second, but all that Aaron did was settle his hip on the table right at Spencer’s side. His body turned toward Spencer and the other two men. It was as close to a claim as he was willing to do at the moment. It also said that Aaron wasn’t going to leave and they would have to ask him to leave. Aaron watched as the two of them had a conversation with their eyes as they looked at each other. Finally, O’Halloran nodded his head and turned to look at Spencer.
“We want to offer our sincerest apologies to you, and we would like you to extend those to your mother as well. We failed as a pack to protect someone who needed it, and we will forever be shamed by that. We knew that things were not good. It’s never happened to our knowledge that when a father has left his wife for that wife and any children, they have to be banished from a pack. We did not make sure that you were cared for or that you went into proper foster care and your mother got the help that she needed. You begged us both for help, and we denied you. Some of us more callously than the others.” O’Halloran looked like he wanted the group to open up and swallow him whole.
Aaron knew that it was hard for leaders of packs to admit they had done a lot of wrongs.
“You know, growing up I thought that my family, my pack would never harm me. Then I was attacked by another kid just because I wanted to come and play with them. I was shocked as hell and very, very hurt. Of course, when I went home, mom was in her own little world, and she didn’t notice the bruises on my body or the cut on my cheek until it was mostly healed. She asked what happened and I told her that I had tripped cause I was reading a book and got cut on a stick in the yard because it wasn’t like she could do anything about it. I knew that going to anyone would have had me taken from her. I had lost my father, my pack, the family that was never supposed to leave me behind and I was damned if I was going to lose the only family that I had left. She was all that I had left and the day that I had to put her into Bennington, alone was the second worst day of my life.” Spencer turned his eyes down onto the file he had been reading. He sighed and pushed it away. He looked up at Aaron, his eyes were stormy with emotion, but Aaron knew that there was nothing he could do to save him from the pain of the past. The only thing that he could do was be there for him when he crashed.
“We-” Lighthouse started, but he stopped when Spencer’s head shot up to look at him. Spencer didn’t stop looking at him, but he did reach out and lay his hand on Aaron’s knee, taking a little support from that.
“I never did get a good reason why my father left me behind instead of taking me. You would think as a Shifter his instincts would be to protect his cub, no matter what the form I took was. Yet, there I was left alone. I know I smart. I knew how to run a household and what I didn’t know I learned. I grew up way too soon. I was left to care for a mother who was more like my child than the adult. She couldn’t focus on work, she barely made enough to keep us in food. I learned how to do things for other people so that I could get some money. I took care of eighty-eight people’s taxes a year for half the rate of the closest cheapest place so I could have money for us. Some years it was less and others more. I mowed grass. Thankfully, my teachers who liked me made sure that I could go to Caltech for free, including room and board and food. Then all I had to do was make sure that mom had what she needed. We had friends that helped on that front, but it wasn’t the same. I was still making sure that she had coverage and I had a way home if she had a freak out that needed me to calm down.”
“Why did you not take him in?” Aaron asked because he knew that Spencer wasn’t going to ask.
“Right after the whole thing happened, Shea visited us alone and told us that taking you in would court war with his pack. He was still having issues with his pack over his way of leading as compared to Austin. There was a lot of issues with that, and they are still happening. I don’t think that Shea is happy you are back in town at all even if any idiot could see that you have no care to take over a single pack or even be the voice of reason in any pack other than the one you are in now.” Lighthouse pointedly looked at the hand that was on Aaron’s knee.
“Shea is afraid of anything that means that he might have to share power. He doesn’t even let his mate have a single say on anything to do with her kids. He makes all of the decisions. We really thought he would have burned out by now. Or someone would come and try and take it from him.”
“He holds power by fear,” Spencer said.
“What?” O’Halloran asked.
“He has every single person in his pack afraid of him. Whether it’s threats of what would happen to their family if he was ousted like cult leaders do, that without them the whole thing fails and the worst is going to happen. Or that someone will get revenge on whoever takes over. Ethan out there is one of the worst. I almost got him thrown in jail for animal mutilation, but Shea made sure it was covered up when he was a teenager. Shea has groomed him until he’s a perfect little deviant. I’m sure that if someone followed him around, they would find that he still tortures animals. That doesn’t go away. Is the ME ready?” Spencer asked looking up at Aaron as he closed the file he had been reading.
“Yes.” Aaron stood up, Spencer’s hand falling off of his knee.
“Agent Reid, do you accept our apologies?”
“I’m not the one that needs them. I turned out pretty damned good in life. I have a pack that loves me and a job that I love. A man that thinks that I am the best thing in the world. I am not the one that felt the loss of the pack the most. I adapted. My mother, on the other hand, she never recovered, losing everything in the world. She had moved here to Vegas to join her husband’s pack, and she refused to go home to her birth pack as it was a sign of weakness to have a husband leave like that. She prayed every single night that someone would come and take me, but she knew that forcing me to go anywhere else would break. Your apologies need to go to my mother. Stan who lived next door to us will allow you to send her a letter, but words are shit. It’s actions. I don’t trust words from people anymore. I lost everything that mattered to me once, and words were shit when that happened. Actions are the only thing in the world that matter.” Spencer stood up and picked u the file and shoved it down into the messenger bag that he carried.
“Agent Reid,” O’Halloran said. He pulled a sheet of paper and what looked like savings account book from his back pocket.
Spencer just looked at the things, so Aaron reached over the table and took them from him, looking at them. It was a savings account book that was in the name of Diana Reid in trust of Spencer Reid.
“I had our pack lawyer figure out how much money it costs for her to be where she is as it was no secret where you put her. I made sure that there is enough in there now to cover several years and enough for each year will be added to it as well as the money for some books. I remember her love of books.” Lighthouse looked very ashamed at that moment. “It’s not the help you needed when it was actually needed, but it’s what we need to assuage our own guilt.”
Aaron looked at the sheet of paper next, and it was a letter from one of the more prominent law firms in the area that the contract between the two packs and the Reid family was waiting to be signed at Spencer’s convince. Aaron looked up at Spencer to see that he was staring at O’Halloran and Lighthouse. Aaron had no clue what Spencer was going to do, and he wasn’t going to offer his advice unless Spencer asked for it. Spencer knew his mind. He knew that he needed to go to protect his mother. Aaron knew that Spencer made more than enough to cover what Diana Reid’s insurance didn’t on her needs at Bennington. Aaron also knew that Spencer kept her in everything that she needed or wanted. There was nothing that she needed.
“I’ll meet with your lawyer, and we will discuss what to do with the money that you want to use to buy your guilt back. I only want a single thing. I never want another child from pack issues to ever feel like they are nothing. I don’t want anyone else ever hurt like this again. The Captain is starting to look into other kids who had been displaced by Shea. You go to him and tell him everything. The money will go to a foundation that I give to in the area that helps Shifter children in need, it covers small packs and medium ones as well. So it doesn’t just go to the ones that are lucky enough to be born into a big pack. I don’t want your money buying my mother a single thing. It would make her sick to even think that she ate a single piece of candy that was bought with your money.”
O’Halloran and Lighthouse nodded, bowing a little before they left. Aaron was a little stunned by Spencer’s reaction, but it was more the emotions that had been in Spencer’s voice and the tone that he used. It was damned scary, but then Aaron knew that he could be scary, to UnSubs. Though he figured that the two leaders were UnSubs of a different kind.
“You handled that well,” Aaron said after the door was shut to the room.
“I hate them almost more than Shea. I don’t want a single bit of their money to ever touch mom or me.”
“I know. I wish there were more that I could do to protect you but I can’t. I can just be here you need. Tonight when we head back to our rooms, I want to hold you.”
“We are all rooming paired up right?”
“Yes, Prentiss and JJ in one and Morgan and Dave in the other. Dave isn’t the happiest, but he understands why I don’t want anyone alone, especially him and JJ. they are the weaker of the parts of us. At least in these cases.” Aaron looked out to see that Clemmons was heading back into a room with Morgan to talk to someone. Probably someone that he knew. It was always good to use what they had to get that connection to some witnesses or even victims families. “
“Ready to head the ME?” Spencer asked.
“Yes. Then we are going to dump sites with Morgan. I want you along because you know the area. Prentiss is going to take Clemmons to abduction sites to help as the person who knows.”
“Sounds good. Then we can get dinner. When the case is done, I want to spend a little time with mom.”
“I can have that happen even if you fly back commercially.”
“I don’t want a lot of time with her. I just…I’ve not been home since I’ve begun shifting again. I’ve not told her about it in the letters. I wanted to do it in person. I don’t know how she is going to react. She might be broken inside, but she still has the instincts of a Shifter. She’s going to know. She always supported me in my decision to not shift, but I don’t know if that was to support me or because she didn’t want me to be one.”
“You’ll never know unless you actually go and see her. I’ll be here no matter what. I’ll drive you there if you want and sit in the car.”
“She wants to meet you, as Aaron, not as Hotch. I hoped you could be up to that.”
Aaron looked around and then pressed a kiss to Spencer’s forehead. “I’ll do anything that you want.” Aaron meant it to. He’d stay in the car or go in or do both, the vehicle first and then going in second. Anything that would make Spencer happy. After the case was done so they could relax and focus on being together. That was all that mattered.