- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Challenge Response
A bump and a thud drew Spencer’s attention away from book he was buried in. “Jack?” Another bang and the sound of something heavy falling to the floor. “Jack, what are you into?” He got to his feet and went in search of the boy. Once he found him, he quirked a brow. “Jack?”
The young boy settled into a seated position with a huff. “I know Dad has been Christmas shopping, but I can’t find them anywhere!”
Spencer thought a moment. “You’ve looked everywhere?”
“Top of his closet?”
“Wait, you aren’t going to yell at me for looking?”
Spencer shrugged. “I’ll give us both a time out later and no afternoon snack, how about that?” He offered a hand to pull the boy up.
Jack pondered that a second. “Okay.” He took Spencer’s hand and let him pull him up. “Where should we look?”
“Hmm.” He looked around. “Let’s start at the beginning. Do you know what a sweep is?” He watched the boy shake his head. “We start by the front door and search the whole room; no space is too small. Shelves, drawers, air vents.” He led a giggling Jack to the main room of the apartment.
Hours later, Aaron came home to find Spencer quietly staring off into space as he could hear Jack playing in his bedroom. “Spencer?”
The younger man hummed in response.
The question drew his gaze to where his boyfriend was standing, briefcase still in hand. “I found Jack trying to look for his Christmas presents today.” He saw as Aaron’s gaze darted toward the boy’s room. “He didn’t find anything, but then we were both looking, and I didn’t find anything either.”
“Wait, you helped him look?” He had shifted now from mild concern to surprise.
“Was I not supposed to do that? Jack thought I would yell at him, should I have?”
Aaron chuckled. “It’s fine. And he, or you, won’t find them anyway, so I suppose a bit of harmless fun is okay.”
Spencer’s brows drew together. “We won’t find them?”
He shook his head, a grin tugging at the corners of his lips.
Eyes narrowing, he leaned forward. “You knew he would look.”
“He always looks.” His chuckled sounded more like a small huff. “I didn’t anticipate you looking.”
“The hunt is the best part!” Spencer nearly bounced in his seat. “It’s like the antithesis to our jobs, all the rush of the search but without the dead people and stuff.”
Chuckling properly, Aaron finally put away his things and joined his lover on the couch. “Okay. I have bought essentially everything for you and Jack and the team. It is all stored in one single location that, as you’ve already worked out, is not in this apartment.”
“Wait, you’re giving your blessing on us looking?”
“Well, how about just you, I really would like to save all Jack’s surprises for Christmas morning.”
Morgan leaned in close, closer than he knew was smart, but the notes Spencer was scribbling down were tiny. “Whatcha doin’?”
Spencer startled, knocking into his friend. “Nothing.”
“Uh-uh, c’mon Kid, what’s that?” He tugged the page from under Spencer’s hand, but it was all written in some sort of code.
“How many houses do you have under renovation or vacant right now?”
“Three being renovated and one vacant, why?”
“Does Aaron ever stop by them?”
Morgan gave him a confused look. “What’s this about?”
He saw the look of concern creeping in and waved it away. “He has hidden our Christmas presents somewhere and has given his blessing for me to search for them.”
“Can’t you just enjoy the surprise?”
“No.” He gave a slight laugh. “The hunt is part of the fun.”
“Okay, Kid. You have your fun.” Morgan patted him on the shoulder and strolled away, slowly making his way to Hotch’s office. “Hotch, do you know what your boy is doing out there?” He asked from the doorway. The only response though was the dark look at the term ‘boy’, Morgan quickly amended himself. “DO you know what Reid’s doing out there?”
“Shut the door.”
Morgan obeyed and took a seat.
“Yes. He asked you about your properties then?”
“Yeah. So, if I’m going to have to deal with him doing this for two weeks, can you at least let me in on the secret?”
After a moment to stare out the window into the bullpen, he sighed and found a scrap of paper from the waste bin and wrote something on it carefully in pencil. He passed it across.
“No shit? How much did that cost you?”
“More than you know.” He took the scrap back and erased the writing before using a pen to write and then scratch over it.
“Never be too careful, huh?”
“Not with this.”
Aaron made his way out of the bullpen and toward Garcia’s office, knocking as he entered.
“What can I do for you?” She bubbled.
“Spencer isn’t in the bullpen?” He asked more than stated.
“I haven’t seen him.” She whirled around, typing on her keyboard. “Looks like he left the floor an hour ago? He didn’t say anything?”
“No, none of the others noticed he’d gone.”
“That’s weird.” She went into the footage from the elevator. “He got off on the ground floor. He didn’t head out though, so he’s somewhere in the building. I can keep looking?”
“No, that’s okay.” He patted her shoulder in thanks, earning himself a squeeze to the hand in reply. Stepping back into the hall, he pulled out his phone and dialed.
“Yeah.” Came the distracted answer.
“Where’d you go?”
“My files are all done.”
“I am down in the mail room at the moment.”
“I thought it was worth a shot asking if you had stored packages there. They said no… Not sure I believe them.”
“The presents are not in the mail room, Spencer.”
“Because I can take your word for it.”
“Look, how about this. If you guess correctly, I will be honest in my answer.”
“Spencer. The presents are not in this building.”
“In a storage unit?”
“In a house?”
“Wait, I should have clarified that a bit, shouldn’t I?”
“Spencer? Please come back up? I am done with my important files, I thought you could come to my office and help me with the others, you know, behind a locked door and closed blinds?”
“I’ll meet you in my office then.” He disconnected the call and turned, finding himself on the receiving end of one of Dave’s irritating, knowing smirks.
“I think I’m going to call it a day early, going to blame old age.” Rossi stated as Aaron passed through the door he was holding open.
“I mean, unless you need me to stay for…anything?”
“No, no, you go.”
It was two days until Christmas. The team had ended up on one case out of state, which had only temporarily dampened Spencer’s search for the presents. Instead, he used the time to attempt to get Garcia to hack into Aaron’s car and see where he’d driven over the past weeks. A request she firmly refused, even going so far as to warning Hotch about it. And he nearly succeeded on his second attempt, when he’d called Kevin, except as the techie had started the work, he’d commented about it to Garcia and she’d put the kibosh on it and, according to her, a warning out to all other analysts to refuse his request.
Spencer had managed to rule out the homes of every team member, storage units even though Aaron had said they weren’t there, and the station Will worked at, plus Will’s work partner just to cover bases. After the mail room, he’d also checked with the pilots and staff who maintained the FBI motor pool and the jets. If any of them were lying, they had good poker faces.
Surrendering to the dawning fact that apparently Aaron really had found a hiding spot Spencer couldn’t find, Spencer collapsed onto their sofa.
“Did you find them?” Jack crawled up beside him.
“No, Jack, I spent every day trying to work it out, but I never did.”
The boy’s eyes were wide with awe. “But you figure everything out. You’re the smartest person ever.”
“Well, I guess your dad’s smarter this time.” He pulled the boy close. “I guess we’ll just find out on Christmas morning like everyone else then.”
“Are you sure they weren’t in his office?”
“I checked when he left for a meeting.”
“I don’t know where else to look.” The boy frowned. “The other day he was talking to Uncle Dave and he said he had them.”
“Well, I could check his car again, maybe he moved them since tomorrow is Christmas Eve?”
“Well, I can’t look right now, so how about we drown our defeat in some hot cocoa?”
“With a candy cane?”
Spencer pretended to debate a minute. “I think we deserve a candy cane. It was hard trying to think of places to look for presents.”
The entire team was looking forward to knocking off early for Christmas Eve, cookies were on everyone’s desks and the air was light and jovial despite the files they were handling. Just before time to go, Aaron appeared at Spencer’s side. “You’ll have to go ahead and pick up Jack without me.”
“Last minute meeting, shouldn’t be more than an hour behind you.”
“I can wait.”
“No, you go ahead. Jack’s going to be so wound up, maybe the two of you can burn off some of the excitement.”
With a somewhat distracted nod, Aaron vanished back to his office.
“Ever work it out, Pretty Boy?”
“No. And this morning when he was in the shower, I checked his car again, still nothing.”
“Well, he’ll have to come up with them soon, Santa comes tonight.”
Spencer grinned. “I’ll figure it out yet.”
Morgan just shook his head. “Good luck.”
Spencer’s eyes popped open with excitement for the morning likely only topped by Jack. He had stayed up until after two with Aaron, chatting and sipping wine, but the older man never made a move to get presents. From the living room, he could hear Jack already, so he sprang out of bed, wincing as joints cracked, as he skidded into the main room. The tree was nearly buried in gifts. “What? How?”
Aaron sat on the couch sipping coffee, a look of triumph on his face.
“Santa came! I heard Daddy let him in! I didn’t peek though because then he wouldn’t leave any presents.” The boy was positively bouncing.
“Come sit and have some coffee.” Aaron patted the seat beside him. Once his boyfriend sat, he passed him a mug and a present. “Since you never figured it out, I’ll let you go first.”
Despise his own excitement, Spencer opened the paper carefully. “I don’t… How did you pull this off?”
Aaron grinned. “Hey, Jack?” Both men turned to where Jack was now sporting an antler headband and a read nose. “What did you hear me say to Uncle Dave last week?”
“Uhh, that you had the presents safe.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Think, what words did I use?”
Jack was extra cute as he tipped his head in thought, making one antler droop slightly. “You said it was okay, Aaron had the presents safe, but I know you’re Aaron, Daddy.”
“What’s wrong?” The little boy asked.
“Come here.” He grinned as he pulled Jack onto his lap. “Not Aaron, Jack, Erin. That’s your Daddy’s boss’s name.”
“There’s more than one Aaron?”
“Lots, and that Erin is a girl.” Spencer shook his head as he turned to his lover. “Erin Strauss had them the whole time?”
“I had to cash in some favors and things, but yes. Also, there was one condition from her in doing it.”
“What was that?” Aaron directed his attention back to the box in his lap and Spencer finally finished opening it. Inside was a marriage license, filled out except for their signatures, and a pair of wedding bands. “Aaron?”
“If you want? There’s an officiant on standby for this afternoon and the team is just waiting for the call.”
“Noo.” His eyes were wide, and his mind ran to keep up. “Are…”
“Spencer Reid, will you marry me, today, and make us a family?”
“Please Spencer? It’s what I asked Santa for, for you to be my family too.”
He looked from the gift to Jack’s gaze and then up to Aaron. The room was silent for several minutes. “Yes.”
Profilers for Christmas is an anonymous crime drama Advent Calendar featuring both art and stories. Additional information about the challenge can be found here.