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It has become a real predicament. Four months in and he still cannot bring himself to say it. That one simple word. It doesn’t sound right to his ears, and it certainly doesn’t sound right in his head. It’s hardly fair that Hotch was using his given name the first time they kissed when he’s still using ‘Hotch’ after receiving twenty-two blowjobs. It’s not a question of intimacy, he’s realized. It’s a question of whom he's fallen in love with.

Eight years after he was informed, ‘You can call me Hotch,’ he has learned that the man who would later become his boss, and eventually his everything, is not your regular all-American self-made man. Hotch, to him, has walked right out of those Arthurian tales his mom used to read him, the ones where knights embody all these ideals he thought existed only in a fictional world. But Hotch is very real and he doesn’t just live those things. He is those things.

Hotch is not dedicated. He is dedication. Hotch is not true. He is truth. Hotch is not just. He is justice. Hotch is not loyal. He is loyalty. Hotch is not brave. He is bravery.

What’s more amazing is that even in crisp suits and flattering ties, Hotch is humility and patience, passion and kindness, family and love.

This is the person Spencer knows, the person he’s always going to be in love with. Hotch.

That used to be enough, for both of them.

But now, watching Hotch explaining to a five-year-old why his mommy won’t be celebrating Christmas with them this year, Spencer knows that’s not the case anymore.

Hotch looks up then and their eyes meet. Spencer isn’t going to walk in but Hotch needs to know that neither of them are alone.

Ten minutes later he’s washing the dishes left in Hotch’s kitchen sink when he feels a soft touch on his lower back.

“Come checking up on me?” The breath is warm on his neck. If there’s a hint of playfulness in Hotch's voice, exhaustion drives it away fast.

“They can manage without me for a couple hours.” He says without turning around. Hotch takes a space next to him and starts drying the dishes.

“You were the one suggesting I take some time off.” Hotch’s words are not accusing. They’re simply offering facts.

Spencer pauses and turns. Hotch is looking at him, waiting. He decides to go with the truth.

“I know you’ve been expecting this, but I’m still allowed to worry.”

Hotch doesn’t say anything this time, just offers him a small, understanding smile. Spencer does the same and returns to the dishes.

The room falls silent but somehow Spencer feels belonging, and he wonders if this is going to be their lives from now on—that sometimes doing the dishes together can be enough. 

“I’m not expecting you to do this.”

Spencer looks up, frowns.

“This.” Hotch lifts the plate he’s drying.

Spencer feels like rolling his eyes. “It’s just a few dishes,” he says, handing Hotch the last item and turning off the water.

Hotch places the plate down. Spencer knows the signs, so he waits.

“I should have said something sooner,” Hotch starts, looking Spencer in the eye. “I’m not expecting you to clean up after me, nor am I going to ask you to spend time with my son or attend my brother’s wedding, when and if there is one. I’m not expecting you to adopt me, Spencer.”

He feels the urge to smother the other man with his mouth. Typical Hotch—the thought of someone else making an effort in his benefit never occurs to the man.

“What if I want to?” he asks.

Hotch studies him for a moment and breathes out. “I was hoping you do, but we’re still figuring things out. And you’re not ready. And…”

“Aaron.” Spencer grabs Hotch’s arm. “We’re gonna be fine.”

It takes him a few seconds for it to sink in, that he’s meant every word, including the one he’d never used out loud before. For the first time the word fits.

There’s a smile on Hotch’s face, a weary but genuine smile. “I know,” Hotch says, actually looking happy. Spencer wishes he was more prepared and knew what to say, but it doesn’t matter because Hotch’s pulling him in and sealing a firm kiss on his lips that feels a lot like a promise.

It is then that Spencer realizes, that no matter how much in love he is with Hotch, he’s probably going to end up loving Aaron more.



“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

1 Corinthians 13:4, New International Version (©1984)