Christmas Countdown: December 3
Criminal Minds

by Juli

December 2006

The sigh was a small sound, but given how rare such expressions of vulnerability were from the man in his arms, Gideon immediately noticed.

“If we left within the hour, we’d be in Vermont in time for lunch,” Jason suggested. “We both keep a bag packed anyway, it wouldn’t be any trouble.”

Aaron Hotchner lifted his head from where it had been resting on Gideon’s chest. Those piercing dark eyes regarding him, searching as they always did, for the truth. Gideon could practically see the wheels turning in the other man’s mind, but eventually Aaron sighed and relaxed against his lover.

“No, Haley deserves this time,” Aaron stated quietly. “Her father is dying and this is her last Christmas with him. She needs to be able to have it free of the . . . complications . . . my being there would bring.”

Haley’s parents hadn’t been nearly as understanding of the divorce as their daughter had. It didn’t matter that Haley was the one who started the proceedings, no longer been able to tolerate competing with the BAU for her husband’s attention. It also hadn’t mattered to Haley’s parents that she’d gone to Jason Gideon and begged him to keep an eye on Hotch, desperately worried about what would happen to her soon-to-be ex-husband if he thought he was all alone in the world. All that had mattered to Hotch’s former in-laws was the fact that Aaron had moved in with a man shortly after their daughter left him.

“You deserve to get to see your son on Christmas,” Jason insisted. Gideon was a nurturer by nature and Aaron brought out every protective instinct he had.

“He’s two,” Hotch pointed out with a smile. “As far as he’s concerned, every day is Christmas. Besides, there’s always next year.”

Hotch and his ex-wife shared custody of their son, but when Haley asked if she could take the toddler out of state for the holiday, Aaron had agreed, saying it was likely that the BAU would get a case that would take him away anyway. Ironically, that hadn’t happened, but Aaron had never wavered. Gideon knew his lover was grateful to Haley for her lack of animosity over the divorce and Aaron’s subsequent relationship with Jason, but he worried that Aaron gave up too much out of a misplaced sense of guilt.

“I just don’t want you to miss out on anything,” Gideon stated.

Hotch lifted his head again, propping his chin on Gideon’s chest as he contemplated the older man.

“Are you sure it’s me we’re talking about here?” Aaron asked quietly, but pointedly. “Or are we talking about you?”

Jason smiled ruefully. Here, even in their bed with Jason’s arms around him, Hotch was profiling. And doing a pretty damn good job of it too. He tightened his arms around the younger man.

“Maybe a little bit of both,” Gideon admitted.

Jason’s relationship with his own son had been destroyed by his dedication to his work. Only now were the most tentative of forays towards rebuilding it being accepted.

“Well, I have every intention of learning from your mistakes,” Aaron commented.

Far from being offended by the comment, Jason chuckled. “I always knew you were smarter than me.”

“So. . .” Aaron said coyly, walking his fingers up Gideon’s chest. “Any idea of how you could distract me from the fact I’m not spending Christmas with my son?”

Jason grinned. Their colleagues would never, ever believe it if they saw this playful side of Hotch. A part of him wanted to share it, knowing that Aaron had a reputation for being a bit on the grim side. Most of Jason, though, liked that he was one of the few people that Aaron trusted enough to be playful with.

Which might be why Jason liked to indulge that playfulness whenever he got the opportunity.

“I don’t know,” Gideon purred, rolling so that Aaron was underneath him. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”

And they did.

~the end~


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