Word Count: 600, Exactly
And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.
There’s something between them for months before anything happens.
When it does, sometime around Reid’s second Christmas with the B.A.U, it isn’t true-love and emotional declarations and ‘fuck Haley’. It’s a single kiss, tasting very faintly of the whiskey Hotch has had a little too much of, and it ends with Hotch pulling away and saying, “I’m sorry.”
It’s the wrong time, the wrong place, too much, not enough.... It’s just not right.
They go back to work and force themselves to look each other in the eye until ‘it never happened’ starts to feel like the truth.
The night Hotch is served with divorce papers, Reid finds him in a bar, drinking alone.
They have sex in the bathroom. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and unhygienic. Hotch’s suit is never going to be the same.
It isn’t until Hotch tangles his hand in Reid’s hair, presses his forehead against Reid’s temple and closes his eyes, that Reid realizes that the suit isn’t the only thing that’s been changed.
He wraps an arm around Hotch’s waist, and holds on. When Hotch lets himself be held, Reid understands the meaning of ‘heart-break’.
This time he’s the one softly murmuring, “I’m sorry.”
Reid wonders if he’s supposed to be happy that Haley’s dead.
He’s not glad Haley’s dead. He is not that man. Hotch isn’t a prize, and Haley wasn’t his competition. Her only crime was loving a man in love with his job, and whose job pisses psycho(socio)paths off. Hating her for that would be more hypocritical than Reid’s ever managed to be about anything.
If he resents her for anything, it’s that with her death Hotch is less ‘available’ than he’s ever been. There’s not enough left of Hotch *to* be available.
Mostly, he just aches for Hotch.
Reid backs off - all the way off. He gives Hotch room to breathe, and space to heal.
Hotch knows how to help himself, and his son. Knowledge is at the heart of therapy. Hotch wrote the psych-evals. Hotch is a profiler. He just needs the room, Reid thinks, to put that knowledge into practice. Needs people to leave him alone and let him work it out. Reid can’t give him much, but he can give him that.
It’s more than a year before he sits down across from Hotch on the jet and says, “Tell me more about Haley.”
Nothing ever happens fast with Hotch.
They end up in bed together again -though bed’s better than a bar restroom- before they go out to dinner.
There are months when Hotch won’t talk about anything that matters, but they’re more than made up for by the days, or even hours, when he will. He shuts down, but with gradually increasing frequency he reaches out instead.
All Reid has to do be there and be patient. He can do that. He’s not trying to ‘land a catch’, he’s just trying to be a friend.
The reward is in Hotch trusting him.
Many years later, Reid wonders why Haley didn’t leave Hotch sooner more often than he wonders why Haley left him at all.
Hotch is hard to live with. At his best, he’s funny and warm. At his worst he’s aloof, distant, and remote. He locks himself in his work, his study, and his head.
Mostly Reid doesn’t wonder at all. It’s just life, and they’re just living it. Usually together, sometimes side by side, once in a while in direct opposition to each other.
It’s not where he expected to end up, but it’s not a bad place to be.