Spencer stopped dead in his tracks as he opened the front door to his place. There in what had been open space in the middle of the flat was a large, extremely large, fish tank. He just stared at it for several minutes before he hung his messenger bag up and pinched himself. He didn't wake up. He shut the door silently. It hadn't been there that morning when he'd left for work. Jack had doctor's appointments all day in preparation of starting school again in the fall. Aaron found it easier to just take the day and do them all in one go. Jack had been looking forward to seeing his pediatrician, as well as the eye doctor. He had not been looking forward to seeing the dentist, though, and nothing that Spencer had done had changed that.
"Aaron?" Spencer called out as he took a few steps towards the tanks.
"You got home earlier than I thought that you would." Aaron actually looked a little ashamed as he stepped out of the office. Spencer looked past him into the main interior of the office and saw a new fish tank in there as well. It was obviously a saltwater tank, and it looked to be about the dimensions for a sixty gallon one. Spencer looked towards where the other tank was and saw his Bristlenose Plecostomus inside the tank closest to him. "I was going to meet you downstairs but you got off work early. So..."
"Are all of my fish in there?" Spencer looked towards the tanks in the living room. It was a very large tank. However, it fit well with the rest of the flat. The "tank" was actually in two parts. There was a long arched tunnel that led from the right side to the left. Each side of the tank has eight smaller tanks that were on two levels. Four on top and four on the bottom, each had a tunnel that lead to the two closest. It was interesting and Spencer was quite sure that Aaron had made his first purchase that was a sizable amount just because he wanted it.
"Yes. From both tanks."
"Both?" Spencer asked as he aborted his move into the office and went to his reading room. He'd talked about wanting to swap for a saltwater tank in his reading room, but hadn't done it. Work had been too busy. He'd made notes, though, and he found those notes in a pile in the reading room, right beside the tank. The tank was spread along the bookcase back that made it a wall from the living room. The fish inside were the exact ones that he'd wanted. Calm and peaceful fish inside as well as a Saddle Valentini Puffer. It was was a sixty gallon tank as well.
"I have a contract with the local private owned store to come in and maintain them. We, of course, will feed them, and they already have feeders set up for when we go away. Jack promised to help with taking care of them when we are gone, and since Jessica is right here in the building, it's perfect. I saw your notes a few months back and thought that a tank would be nice to have. You have Curiosity and Jack has not only Toothless, but Sir Wiggles as well, and I know that Curiosity loves me, and cuddles with me, and I know I can't cuddle fish, but I've always liked them, but Haley hated them, and after she left I didn't want it to have to be something that I had to take care of between cases. I can't exactly take them back but I..." Aaron snapped his mouth shut and sighed. "I just did a Reid Ramble didn't I?"
"Yes, you did, Love but I promise I'm fine. I just didn't expect to come home to...all of this."
"The fish in the office are a little brighter, it's more of a coral tank. You aren't upset right?"
"No. I was just shocked. Where's Jack?"
"In his room. Sir Wiggles was asleep on the bed, and he was a little worked up after the dentist, so I had him go in there. Miss Jacobi was home from classes today as she broke her foot, so when the aquarium store people showed up just before Jack and I left, I asked her to watch them and direct them if they needed help. They finished an hour after I got home. All of the fish are doing well so far. Especially your fish. They are happy to have an interesting home. Sir Wiggles hasn't been out to inspect since they finished, but Curiosity is loving it." Aaron took a few steps out of the room and Spencer followed. Spencer moved towards the tank and took it all in. Aaron wrapped his arms around him from behind, hooking his chin over Spencer's shoulder.
Each of the tanks had a different color of gravel inside. Sixteen different shades with four of them different shades of purple. Curiosity was in the middle of the tank on the left, staring up at the fish.
"The filtration system as well as the air machines are in the cabinets. There is noise cancelling materials in the lining of the cabinets as well. The arch was special ordered and is just tall enough so that we can both walk under and still have plenty of clearance room. The lights can be dimmed, so that it's not as bright if we want ambiance, and I had it hooked up to the second generator that you'd had installed after that blackout."
Spencer took it all in. The picture of the three of them that had been the wedding gift from his mother. The other pictures that had started to fill up the walls. Jack's soccer picture where he was holding the trophy for most improved over the season. Pictures of the three of them scattered all around. On the book shelves that were on either side of Jack's door were two pictures. One of Haley and Aaron on their wedding day, and on the other side was Spencer and Aaron walking down the aisle holding Henry and Jack. It wasn't a traditional home, but it was their home. He didn't want to live anywhere else. A backyard for Jack would be nice but he had an idea for that and the roof.
"I've rubbed off on you too much," Spencer said with a smile. "You are rambling. I love it all Aaron. It looks like it belongs and the different colored gravel is nice." Spencer turned in Aaron's arms and wrapped his arms around the older man's neck. He kissed Aaron's lips before he started to rock them back and forth in a senseless dance. Aaron wrapped his arms around Spencer's waist, giving in to what Spencer wanted. There was plenty of room still for them to move around. The high ceiling allowed for it to feel bigger. Spencer laid his head on Aaron's shoulder and closed his eyes, letting his husband take the lead of their little dance.
Spencer lost track of how long they danced like that, letting unheard music fill his head.
"Papa?" Jack called out just as Spencer was almost falling asleep in Aaron's arms. Spencer opened his eyes to see a smile on Aaron's face. His husband ducked down and kissed him quickly before they turned to where Jack was standing in the doorway to his room.
"Yes, Jack?" Spencer questioned. Aaron wasn't letting go of him.
"I made a sign for the front door and I emailed it to you to print since we haven't bought my printer yet."
"Let's go print it then shall we?" Spencer pulled out of Aaron's arms. The man reluctantly let him go. Spencer moved to the office and Jack followed. His eyes went right for the tank, and he watched it while Spencer got settled in his chair, and was booting up the computer. Aaron came in and stood behind him, one hand on the back of Spencer's neck. When the computer made it's chime that it was awake, Jack moved to settle into Spencer's lap.
Spencer opened his personal email account and found the email from Jack. He opened the file attached and found a cute little picture attached. The picture was of the flat before the fish tank had been added.
"Aunt Penelope faded the picture for me and added it to the program. All I had to do was add the words."
Welcome to the Hotchner-Reid Zoo was written across the page.
"Zoo?" Aaron asked.
"Well, we have, a cat, a dog, a lizard, and now many species of fish. As well as a monkey," Spencer pointed out. He waited to see who exactly would suss out what he said. He wasn't shocked that it was Aaron.
"A monkey? When did we get a monkey?" Aaron moved around to look at Spencer like he was crazy. Spencer just smiled and scooted back from the desk. He pulled back the arm that had been wrapped around Jack's waist and prepared to tickle him. At the first brush of fingers on his ribs, Jack squealed and jumped out of his lap. Spencer saw the light go off in Aaron's head.
"Daddy, save me!" Jack screamed as he ran from the room.
"I guess I need to change that to pig. He sure squeals like one." Spencer took off after him, not giving Aaron a chance to wrap an arm around him and hold him back. Spencer caught up with Jack as he rounded the front most futon and was heading towards his room. He flung himself, and Jack down onto it as he wrapped his arm around the boy, going right for his ribs again. Jack was giggling as he tried to escape. Spencer kept him right there, though, laughing as he tickled him. He wasn't paying attention to anything else so when his hands were grabbed and pinned above his head he gasped. Jack dove right for his ribs, but when Spencer didn't react he frowned.
“Try his arm pits Jack," Aaron said.
"Traitor," Spencer gasped as Jack started to tickle him in earnest.
"Alls fair in love and tickle fights." Aaron was smiling down at him. Spencer kept his legs still so that he wouldn't knock Jack off of him. He tried to pull his hands free from Aaron's, but he was stuck.
"All fair huh?" Spencer asked smirking at Aaron. Aaron frowned but didn't say anything. "Jack, truce."
Jack stopped tickling him and stared at his face. The boy scrambled to sit on Spencer' stomach. "What kind of deal?"
"Hey now, Jack," Aaron said with his tone wary.
"Coffee milk, and blueberry pancakes with homemade syrup for breakfast tomorrow."
"If?" Jack asked, thinking on it.
"You help me get your dad."
"Agreed," Jack said as he looked up at his father with a wicked smile on his face. Aaron let go of Spencer's hands and took off around the small sofa. Jack reached out and shook Spencer's hands before he leaped off of him and went after his father. Spencer watched Aaron escape his son for a few minutes before he intervened, and took him down to the floor. He braced himself on Aaron's legs, and grabbed his hands, and held them down. Jack slipped in and started after Aaron's ribs. Spencer transferred Aaron's hands to one of his and started in on the other side of Aaron's ribs. When Aaron was gasping for breath, Spencer stopped, grabbing Jack and setting him down on his father's chest.
"It's no fair, two on one."
"The great Aaron Hotchner taken down by a geek and a kid?" Spencer asked.
"Hotchner-Reid," Aaron said with a smile on his face.
"Yeah, Papa. Aaron Hotchner-Reid." Jack laughed as he looked back at Spencer. Aaron's hands shot out and grabbed Jack's hands, leaving him open for Spencer to tickle. "Traitor!" Jack yelled as he tried to wiggle free. Jack screeched and wiggled and tried to escape from both adults. Aaron stopped a minute later and Spencer let him go. Jack danced out of both of their arms reach.
"All's fair in love and tickle fights," Spencer said. Jack stuck his tongue out and ran into his room. Curiosity and Sir Wiggles followed and the door was shut gently. "So what are we doing for dinner?"
"I have porkchops marinating in the fridge and I found a nice recipe for scalloped potatoes. Jack wants corn. I figured that we can cook together."
"You want to be able to fondle me while I cook."
"Never said that I didn't. It's a perk to cooking." Aaron pulled him down into a kiss.
Hours later, the futon closest to the tank was laying flat and Spencer was looking at it. He was on his side with Aaron behind him, they were cuddled together. Spencer was watching the fish swim around inside the new tanks.
"I want to have a talk."
"Okay." Spencer heard something in Aaron's voice, so he turned onto his back and looked up at his husband.
"We have a pretty good life right now, and I don't want to mess that up but..." Aaron stopped and frowned. He looked down at Spencer's face, tracing his cheek with a knuckle. "How do you feel about adoption?"
"No." Aaron looked at him like he used to, years ago when Spencer wouldn't understand a pop culture reference that Morgan or even Garcia made. It was a smile that only he had ever got. "A child. A little brother or sister for Jack. It doesn't have to be today, but maybe soon. I just want you to think about it."
"Do you want to try a surrogate?" Spencer asked. Admitting that he'd been thinking of it too. He just hadn't gone the adoption route.
"I don't want to play roulette with my genes, but I wouldn't mind trying with yours." Spencer smiled up at Aaron. "So we just have to find a surrogate. What about care?"
"I've talked to Jessica. She is more than willing to watch him, or her, along with Jack when we are gone on cases. I didn't ask about a baby, but her job can be done at any time from home and it's not like when we are home we go out and do a lot."
"We'd pay her obviously."
"I want to hear that conversation," Aaron said with a smile on his face. He leaned down and kissed Spencer again. It was a soft kiss. More of a show of emotion than anything else. "If she doesn't agree to a baby, we can hire a nanny for when we are working. I know of a few women who have husbands in the agency that do that kind of thing. You know empty nest and all of that. I think that I like the idea of a baby more than adoption."
"Another little one to pass the Hotchner nose onto?" Spencer asked, lifting his hand up and brushing a fingertip over Aaron's nose. Aaron snagged it with his teeth as it passed his mouth.
"It's more than that. I would love to have you be the DNA passing father but I understand your hesitance. We can set up the guest room as a nursery. I noticed that no one has been staying over since Jack and I moved in."
"I feel more...disinclined to want anyone to stay over with all of us living here. There is more to it than wanting a child, Aaron."
"I'm not ready to retire or take a desk job at all, but I want to know that I won't go nuts if I do. If something happens. We have Jack and I love him, but I want more kids."
"So we went from kid to kids, plural."
"I don't want a lot but just one or two more. I know that with In Vitro there is a chance of twins and even triplets. Money isn't an issue, not with all that you do. And if something happens that forces me to retire or even put me into a desk job, I don't know what I want to do, but having more than just Jack would help."
"You aren't old, Aaron."
"No. I know that. I know but I just...It sounds horrible but I want more. I want everything with you. I want a gaggle of kids to chase us around the house with Jack leading them on."
"Okay. A gaggle of kids it is." Spencer pulled his husband down into a kiss to stop himself from crying. He had thought about another child a few years down the road but kids...he hadn't thought about having more than just one.
Five Years Later
The screech of a toddler laughing greeted Spencer as he stepped off the elevator right into the flat. He liked the renovations done in the aftermath of Aaron retiring the year before. They had all moved into a rental house for two months while the whole of the flat had been redone. What had been the foyer for the flat was now just part of the flat and it had added two new bedrooms. Jack had moved into the one in the old hallway and the guest room had been redone to be on the other side of the office. What had been Ciara's room was now the twin's room and what had been Jack's was now Ciara's. She was very happy to have a bedroom to herself.
"Papa!" Twin voices screamed. Spencer braced himself for the attachment of the twin's to his legs. Jack took his messenger bag and hung it up, and then his go bag, and moved it towards the bedroom. Spencer looked down at the twins, one on each leg. Aurora and Belle were smiling up at him. He leaned down and picked them both up. Aaron was in the kitchen and it looked like he was making coffee. "Dada! Papa!"
"I know. I heard you when the elevator started up." Aaron came into the living room and stepped around the toys that were scattered from where the twin's had been playing. Aaron kissed him which had Aurora cooing and Belle making kissing noises. Spencer kissed the two girls next and they screeched in happiness before wanting down to play again. Ciara came over for her hug and kiss and went back towards the couch she had been sitting at and working on her homework.
"I'm glad to be home."
"Still down Lewis?" Aaron asked as he pulled Spencer with him into the kitchen before all but shoving him down into a chair. Spencer gratefully sat down and rested his head in his hands.
"Yes. Which we don't need with the convicts still out there." Spencer hated that it was taking them as long as it was to find the last two killers that had escaped along with Peter Lewis. Lewis had been caught just a month before with the help of Aaron consulting. He'd retired after SWAT had taken him from their home at gunpoint with JJ, Henry, and Jack present. Jack had been horribly upset after it all, but thankfully the then baby twins, and Ciara had already been with Jessica for the morning. Spencer had been taken into custody as he'd entered Quantico base, having gone in early.
"Is Alvez working out any better?"
"He's better. I don't think that we are going to keep him once the escapees are caught." Spencer looked and saw that the twins were still playing and Jack was nowhere to be seen. Ciara was still on the couch absorbed in her schoolwork. "Rossi's retiring. He put in his resignation for when the last escapees are caught. I think he's going to move out to California where Joy is. With Prentiss coming back full time to the team as the lead profiler, I think that Rossi knows we are in good hands."
"I'm still a little shocked that they made you Unit Chief, given our..." Aaron waved a hand between them.
"Yes well, Prentiss was shocked as well. Rossi's just happy to stop being the interim chief. I think it was cramping his style on getting Hayden to be the second Mrs. Rossi, a second time. I don't think that Alvez will make it as Morgan's replacement. Prentiss is still a little weird on technically being your replacement. I've already opened up feelers again and so far the only person who has bit is Callahan. So it'll be me, JJ, Prentiss, Callahan, Garcia, Lewis, and dear God I hope I find a guy to replace Rossi with."
Aaron laughed and set down a cup of coffee in front of Spencer.
"So Ciara and I had an interesting talk. She brought up that her and Jack share features that they did not get from me. So she wanted to know how her surrogate mother, and Jack's mother looked the same. So Jessica stopped by and we talked to Ciara."
"And how did she take it?"
"She liked it that she and Jack kind of share all of their DNA and she's happy that even she and the twins share something."
"I am still awed that Jessica was our surrogate not once but twice. So what is she doing now?"
"Well it all started because of the family tree. I don't know what she's exactly doing as far as that goes. I'm leaving her alone and letting you deal with her."
"You know it's just going to get worse right? You and Jessica are not dumb, and with the twins having my DNA, and Jessica's we aren't going to have any normal kids as far as intelligence goes."
"You aren't the one dealing with the escape artists day by day," Aaron pointed out.
Spencer smiled and sipped his coffee. He knew that Jack had only stayed in public school because of Henry, but Ciara had wanted the private school, and there were already places for Aurora and Belle in the preschool when they came of age. A tug on his pants had Spencer looking down. It was Aurora wanting into his lap. Spencer picked her up and cuddled her into him. She yawned and closed her eyes.
Nothing that had happened after Aaron had kissed him for the first time was what he imagined for his life, but he wasn't going to trade a single second of it for anything in the world.
"So are we still a go for taking the private plane to Vegas over the weekend?" Spencer asked. It had been in the works for a month and Spencer wanted his mom to see the kids as much as she could before she got too much worse.
"We are. I have everything planned and we are all set except for packing."
"Good because I told Cruz that if he pulled me, he'd be finding a new Unit Chief. I need a few days to recharge myself."
"A few days of the kids in Sin City and you think it's going to be a recharge?"
"Kids are easy. Plus I have you and anything with you, and the kids is what I want to be doing."
"No, that's you Mister Hotchner-Reid."
Aaron stuck his tongue out at Spencer, and the bark of laughter that erupted from his mouth woke up Aurora. He quieted himself and she went back to sleep pretty quickly.
"They didn't nap did they?"
"No, too excited that you were on your way home, but it's not too late. Belle fell asleep on her toys."
Spencer turned and looked at their other daughter and Aaron was right. She was laying on the rug with a toy clutched in her hand. He shifted Aurora to where she was resting her head on his shoulder. There wasn't a single moment of his life the past six years that he would change for anything in the world. This was happiness.