Dr. Spencer Reid, newest addition to the BAU has been dreaming of art and murder. In denial that his telepathy has return, Spencer must work with his team and his boss Sentinel Aaron Hotchner to find the Unsub. Will love help Spencer control his gift or will the darkness in his mind destroy not only himself, but Aaron as well?
Author: Chestnut NOLA
Fandom/Genre: Criminal Minds
Relationship(s): Aaron Hotchner/Spencer Reid
Content Rating: Explicit, Canon-level violence, Detailed descriptions of murder victims, Humor, Romance
Word Count: 33,229
A/N: Convergence a sequel to my short story Transference, but it can be read as a stand alone.
Banner background images are paintings by Jacques Louis David and Italian Master Titian.
Male Nude Known As Hector, 1778
Venus of Urbina, 1538
Gorgeous original art by hazeydazey.
“Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one who inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.” –Mark Twain
His hand made quick strokes over the fine paper, the graphite pencil steady and sure. The image of a handsome man brought to life with delicate strokes and shading. Erotic, the lines of the torso, flanks, and thighs drawn in gray and white, the fibers of the paper softening the overshadowing throughout the loins. Fingers rubbed softly to feather graphite of harsher lines across the pectorals, caressing the drawn nipples as they passed by. The man sitting languid with head back, arms loose at his side. Cuts and blood would come soon, and then the image would be complete.
The face was next, handsome initially until the eyes were drawn. Dead eyes, a death mask grotesque in its beauty…
The blare and vibration of his phone pinging and dancing with a text message on the bedside table awoke Spencer from the dream. The man being drawn was different this time.
The dreams had come about three months ago, the image of a nude woman in repose innocent at first. Beautiful as the artist drew her until he completed her face, in death her face was monstrous. The paintings were worse though, in full color, realistic, and sadistic. The wounds and blood obscene in their realism.
A man had come next just after Christmas, the lines of his muscles a beautiful and sensual image until the artist completed his face only to be followed by the blood. He’d been laying in repose as well, arms outstretched above his head as if in sexual pleasure. The final painting profane in its subject of sex and death, but alluring keeping the eyes focused on the macabre of the image.
The dreams exhausted Spencer. It was as if he was awake all night making the art himself, the subject matter disturbing and weighed heavily on his mind. He could only believe that the images of the victims in the cases he’d worked these last six months were influencing his dreams. Though why he was dreaming about drawing and painting women and men that he’d never seen before was strange. Almost as strange as the art itself. Spencer had admitted long ago he had no artistic talent what so ever and even the interpretation of art was foreign to his vast intellect.
A yowling meow and paws walking up his body interrupted his musings. The solid weight of the cat on his chest, along with the plaintive yowling made Spencer smile.
“Good morning, Gottfried,” he said as the large ball of gray fluff rubbed against his face in greeting. “I know you’re starving to death, you’re just wasting away from neglect.”
Spencer’s smile widened at Gottfried’s inquisitive meow, his fingers giving a rub to the expansive plump underneath the cat’s belly that belied the statement. Kissing and nuzzling the feline, Spencer reached over to pick up his phone.
We have a case. Bring go bag. Meet at office at 8
6:05AM Sat, Feb 04
At least he had enough time for a shower and coffee, he thought. He was going to need at least a half a pot of the brew to wake up, but first things first. Sighing as he picked up his pest of a cat and headed for the kitchen listening to Gottfried’s caterwauling the whole way. Gottfried’s breakfast was a priority or he’d have no peace to accompany his coffee.
“It looks like you’re going to be Garcia’s problem for a few days, Mister,” he said cuddling the feline.
“Hey there, Pretty Boy!” Morgan called.
Spencer gave the agent a small frown in return for the moniker Morgan kept using, “Morning.”
“Too early for you, genius?” Morgan replied before a frown of concern crossed his face. “You ok? You look like something the cat dragged in.”
Morgan’s concern washed over Spencer’s empathic senses adding to the throb radiating in his temples, before it dissipated. As usual agent Morgan was the epitome of attractive with his handsome face and muscular physique honed as a tool to pull women and chase suspects. Spencer always felt like an awkward teenager around the man with his delicate bones and lanky frame. Morgan was always put together and Spencer was more disheveled then usual this morning. The shower and coffee hadn’t helped to wake him enough to be bothered fighting to get his tie straight, let alone attempt to tame his wild chestnut hair.
“I’m fine, I’d intended to sleep in this morning and was thwarted by J.J.’s text,” he replied.
“We all know that devil cat of yours gets you up at the butt-crack of dawn every morning, Pretty Boy. Pull another one,” Morgan stated.
“Well, I’d planned to go back to bed after feeding him,” Spencer stated. “And he’s not a devil, he helped saved my life and the least I can do is feed him when he demands.”
“Besides, I thought the two of you had finally come to an accord?” he added. Spencer enjoyed teasing Derek about his fear of Gottfried. It never failed to get a reaction from the agent.
Morgan shook his head, “I don’t know if you noticed, but the last time I was at your place that cat sat on the top of the couch and stared at me the whole time. It was creepy.”
Spencer gave the agent a smug smile in response. The first time Derek had met the feline hadn’t gone at all well for the sepia toned agent.
“Well, you made a bad impression when you and Emily were ransacking my apartment for evidence,” Spencer said. “Gottfried was just defending his territory.”
“You’re never going to let me live that down are you, kid?” Derek replied with a roll of his eyes.
“Nope,” was Spencer’s smug response.
“Derek! You’re not talking smack about my darling Gottfried are you?” Garcia called as she came into the bullpen. As usual, the tech analyst was wearing a dizzying ensemble. Today she wore a pink dress, red belt and heels with a gold jacket that sparkled. She’d color coordinated her glasses to match her belt and heals. Her blond curls were done in pigtails a top her head. Garcia was always a bright light of happiness within the somber space of the BAU.
“He is, Garcia,” Spencer cut in. “You need to have a talk with him about it.”
Derek raised his hands in surrender, “Alright you two, don’t gang up on me! Baby Girl, I’ll cave and agree that Reid’s cat is the all that should be admired in a pet and leave it at that.”
“You secretly love him, Derek,” she stated. “And he’s all mine for the next few days. I’ll pick him up on the way home tonight Spencer.”
“Thanks, Garcia,” Spencer smiled. Gottfried loved Garcia, only one of two other people besides Spencer the cat liked. Oddly enough, the cat also liked Hotch and everyone else he tolerated save for Derek. Spencer knew he was lucky to have someone to look after his high maintenance cat when he had to travel. She’d taken care of the feline during Spencer’s five months of training at the FBI Academy and Gottfried had returned home more spoiled and demanding than before.
“You look like you need this more than me, Reid,” Emily said when she reached her desk. She handed Spencer her cappuccino without reservation. She did look awake compared to how Spencer was feeling. She was lovely as always with her dark hair and eyes, fresh and pressed ready for work.
“Brilliant! Thanks Emily,” Spencer replied curling his hands around the hot brew. He doubted the beverage would make him less tired, but hopefully the extra sugar would get his brain on track for the briefing.
She smiled, “You need to get some sleep. Have a late night?”
“Not really, just kept waking up every few hours,” Spencer lied. “Couldn’t shut my brain off.”
Spencer was relieved when Rossi sauntered into the BAU, followed closely by J.J. The arrival of the pair took the agent’s focus off his tired countenance. Rossi looked sleepy, so at least Spencer wasn’t the only one. He grunted at everyone’s morning calls as he headed to his office on the mezzanine.
“Morning, Spence. You ok?” J.J. asked.
Spencer rolled his eyes, “Yes, I’m fine! Really. Will everyone please stop asking! It’s normal to have an occasional sleepless night, you know.”
Derek held up his hands again in surrender, Penelope was just shaking her head, and J.J. was giving him a hurt look.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said to her, guilty at snapping at his friend. “I’m just a bit tired is all.”
She gave him a smile and ruffled his hair in punishment then headed to her office in the outer hallway.
Spencer felt the pleasant pressure of Hotch in his mind before the Sentinel and unit chief got off the elevator. Butterflies started to flutter in his stomach and Spencer tried to distract himself by gathering his notebooks together. He’d been bemoaning the fact he had a huge crush on his boss for months now. The feelings of attraction and safety he had toward the Sentinel had occurred early in their acquaintance. His crush had only gotten deeper in the fourteen months since he’d met the Sentinel. He was afraid that Hotch, with his enhanced senses, could tell Spencer had it bad for the agent. He winced every time he thought about the pheromones he was probably emitting when in close proximity to the man.
“BAU team roundtable room please, we need to get started,” Hotch said as he passed by their little group. The Sentinel was so handsome and put together this morning, looking energized in a dark gray suit that hugged his strong figure. The butterflies got stronger as Spencer perused the agent’s rugged face meeting his dark eyes across the room. A wash of pleasure skimmed his empathic senses, the feeling familiar to him in the Sentinel’s presence. Aaron was pleased to see him this morning and amused by the state of Spencer’s hair. At least the state of his locks kept Hotch distracted from noticing his tired countenance, Spencer thought.
Spencer followed Garcia’s bustling stride into the roundtable room and took a seat with the rest of the team not far behind. J.J. handed Spencer three paper files, while Garcia just shook her head at the Luddite on the team. He returned the analyst’s stink eye with a satisfied smirk enjoying teasing his friend with his resistance to the slim tablets everyone else had embraced wholeheartedly.
“You will eventually fold, Dr. Démodé,” she stated as she picked up the remote to the large monitor on the wall.
Spencer just raised a brow, “Perhaps, but not today.”
“It might be a lost cause, Garcia,” Rossi said as he sauntered into the room with a large cup of coffee in hand. The eldest and wealthiest person on the team settled in to his seat next to Spencer giving him a pat of support on the way.
Spencer liked the whole team, but Rossi had taken him under his wing these last six months even though he thought Spencer was a bit odd. Rossi was initially stunned that Spencer’s eidetic memory allowed him to recite Dave’s books word for word. Now it just amused him to no end when Spencer got on a Rossi book tangent with the team. Spencer had enjoyed spending many a night with the Italian at his favorite dive bar discussing the BAU founding agent’s past cases.
Hotch settled in between Morgan and Prentiss, “Garcia? Let’s get started, we’re wheels up in thirty minutes.”
“Ok, we have a seriously disturbed killer in Virginia,” she stated standing with her back to the screen. “Three bodies have been found since November in the Pocahontas State Park outside Richmond. The first Janice Rowland, 35 a single mother of two was found November 17th; Peter Henderson, 32 a lawyer was found on December 29th; and the third victim Donald Dorsey, Jr., 36 a mechanic was found yesterday.”
Spencer felt the blood drain from his face as a spike of horror lanced through his gut and his heart started to race as he took in the pictures of the victims. They were the people in the paintings from his dreams. The Knowing couldn’t be back, he thought. The dreams weren’t the same as what had happened before, but he felt panic rising within him at the possibility.
“The Unsub uses a number of different kinds of knives and needles to puncture the victims,” Aaron said.
Morgan added, “It looks like the torture is concentrated in the lower part of the body around the groin and buttocks with a death blow to the main femoral artery.”
“The victims are low risk,” Emily said. “Do we know how long he’s keeping them?”
“No, the first two victims weren’t found right away,” Garcia replied. “They’d been out in the woods for quite awhile.”
Rossi flipped a finger over his screen, “We may be able to determine that with the third victim. He was found quickly.”
“Dorsey’s body is with the ME now,” J.J. said.
The buzzing thoughts in Spencer’s head were interrupted by Hotch, “Reid? Your thoughts?”
Spencer avoided the Sentinel’s gaze by looking down at the images of the latest murder in the folder he’d been given. He needed to pull himself together and focus on the here and now, not the dreams or the past. He needed to do his job. Spencer shook himself to concentrate on the bloody images in front of him.
“The locations of the stab and puncture wounds around the groin and buttocks indicate he’s a piquerist,” Spencer replied. “Though piquersim hasn’t been studied in depth, a number of serial killers in history have practiced it. Most notably, Albert Fish, he flagellated himself with a nail-studded board and when he was arrested in 1934, an X-ray showed he had at least twenty-nine needles embedded in his groin and pelvis.”
“Thanks, Reid. I really needed that image first thing in the morning,” Garcia said her face grimacing in disgust.
“Jack the Ripper was also considered a piquerist,” Spencer added.
“Well this guy is no Jack the Ripper, but he is a sadistic bastard,” Rossi cut in.
Aaron addressed the team, “He is killing approximately every four weeks, so we have good window of opportunity to catch him. Once we find out how long he keeps his victims we’ll have a better idea of how much time we have before he takes his next victim. We need to head out now.”
The room started to clear out while Spencer was packing the files in his satchel. A warm hand heavy on his shoulder startled him from his thoughts of the paintings in his dreams.
“Spencer, you alright?” Aaron asked, worry shown through his laser like gaze. “I’ve never seen you distracted during presentation before.”
Spencer swallowed the lump in his throat as he finished fiddling with the clasps on his bag, “I’m fine, Hotch. Just a bit tired this morning.”
“Ok, but I’m here if you need to talk about anything,” he offered gently, before giving Spencer’s shoulder a final squeeze and releasing him.
It was difficult to hide anything with a Sentinel, but Spencer appreciated Aaron’s discretion. Hotch was a serious and stoic individual, but he cared deeply for the people on his team. Spencer admired how he also knew when not to push too hard when a team member was having a problem.
“Thanks, Hotch,” Spencer replied. “But, I’m fine… really.”
The Sentinel’s concern didn’t dissipate from his gaze, but he let it go. Spencer knew if he didn’t get it together and it affected the case, Hotch would be all over him like flies on shit to address the problem.
Aaron grimaced as his ear’s popped for a final time as the jet leveled off at altitude. His newest team member was not at all well and Aaron had to rain in his possessive nature when it came to the genius on his team. Aaron had heard Spencer’s heart racing and smelled his scent change during briefing. Something was scaring the genius to the point of panic, but until Spencer opened up about it there wasn’t much Aaron could do besides keep an eye on the lanky young man.
He’d gotten to know the sensitive quite well since he’d first met him in an interrogation room in D.C. Spencer was a socially awkward genius with minor empathic abilities. If something was bothering him the young man could clam up and close himself off like a fortress high on a hill rather than seek assistance. Spencer’s trepidation and fear were tingling in the back of his mind, the minor empathic link in the Sentinel’s mind a holdover from Vincent Gaylord’s attack on Spencer fourteen months prior.
“It’s a short flight,” Aaron stated. “Let’s talk about victimology.”
“It doesn’t look like he really has a type,” Emily started. “Except the last two male victims were both dark haired with strong builds.”
“Do we know how he’s subduing them?” Morgan asked. “He’d have to be pretty strong to take down Henderson and Dorsey.”
“The ME will hopefully figure that out with our current victim,” J.J. replied. “With the other two, only the cause of death was apparent.”
“The Richmond Police have taken on the case since the state police aren’t equipped to deal with this type of serial crime,” Aaron cut in. “They believe the victims were abducted from their homes and they all lived in or around the city.”
Rossi shook his head, “He’s bold. He took Janice Rowland at home and then sent a text from her phone to her mother to come get the children. She’d been missing for about four weeks when her body was found.”
“The state of the body doesn’t let us know how long he’s keeping them though,” Morgan said. “Henderson had a live in girlfriend who was out of town visiting her parents. So he stalks them before abducting them. He knows their routines.”
“Dorsey lived alone, so you would think the lower risk of kidnapping the victim would’ve reduced the thrill,” Emily voiced. “But, he lived in the suburbs on a cul-de-sac with neighbors close by. Maybe someone saw something?”
“There has to be something that is connecting the victims,” Spencer said and then went into lecture mode. “There is a link between piquerism and sexual sadism; however, a piquerist’s fetish is non-consensual compared to the BDSM fetish of needle or knife play. He may have been part of the BDSM sub-culture, but was either dissatisfied with the need for consent or he got kicked out for bad behavior.”
Hotch was a bit relieved when Spencer finally decided to participate in the discussion. He was just waiting for one of the team to comment on the genius’ silence. Spencer looked exhausted with dark shadows under his amber eyes, his skin bleached as if he was sick to his stomach, rather than the creamy porcelain the Sentinel was use to admiring.
“We definitely need to look into Richmond’s BDSM community,” Hotch agreed. “Derek and Emily, I want you to head to the dump sites starting with the latest; Detective Mark Cooper is there and waiting for you. Dave and Spencer, I want you to head over to the ME and see what you can find out about how he’s subduing them and anything else that’s been unknown since now. J.J. and I will head over to the main station where we’ll be working with Captain Dan Howard who’s heading up the taskforce.”
The taste of iron was strong in the back of Spencer’s throat, the blood scent sharp in his nose overlaid by the smell of chemicals and body decay in the dull white hue of the morgue. Spencer didn’t think he’d ever get use to that smell and it was doubly offensive with the dreams still lingering in the back of his mind.
The ME, a white bearded portly fellow was waiting for the agents by the shrouded body on the table. He looked as sick as Spencer felt, his blue eyes somber as the focused on the paperwork clipped to a board in his gloved hands.
“Dr. Johns?” Rossi asked. “I’m SSA David Rossi and this is Dr. Spencer Reid with the FBI.”
“I’d say it was a pleasure, but under the circumstances it would be dishonest of me,” he said, his soft southern drawl a pleasant sound to Spencer’s ears. “I’ve seen many awful things in my years of service, but this is horrendous.”
Spencer couldn’t agree more, the images of the paintings of the previous victims stark in his mind as he took in the sheeted body of their current victim on the table. He was glad it was covered for the moment.
Rossi shook the man’s hand, “I hear ya, doc. Can you tell us what you’ve found before we examine the body ourselves?”
“Of course,” he replied. “From the age of some of the cuts, it looks like he keeps them for about twenty-four hours before he makes a final cut to the Femoral Artery. I didn’t find any trace or DNA under the victims nails, but I did find semen on the torso.”
Spencer wasn’t surprised and said, “He must not be in CODIS then, since he’s arrogant enough to leave his DNA on the body.”
“Arrogant isn’t the word, he’s obviously a narcissist on top of being a psychopath,” Rossi mused.
“Do you have a time of death?” Spencer inquired.
Johns’ replied with a nod of his head, “It was a bit hard to tell initially, he was out of rigor by the time he was found, though the critters hadn’t gotten to him. I’d estimate he’d been dead about twenty-four hours before he was found.”
“So he’s keeping them for awhile after death,” Spencer stated.
“I would say so,” Johns replied. “Otherwise there would have been damage from animals on the body, since he didn’t bury it.”
“Was the lividity consistent with the position he was found in?” Rossi asked.
Johns’ nodded, “Yes it was.”
“So he’s keeping them for awhile in the same position and then dumping them in the same position,” Rossi said, his tone considering. “I wonder what he’d doing with them after death.”
He’s painting them, Spencer thought. He didn’t voice his suspicion though. Whatever was happening to him—he didn’t think the telepathy returning—but, he didn’t want the team to know about the dreams. He could be taken off the case. He’d not had an episode of telepathy in over a year and never during a case. Spencer didn’t know how the team would react to the dreams. If The Knowing was returning, he wasn’t sure how he’d be able to function in his job. Another spike of panic fluttered in his stomach before he shook off the feeling.
“Doc, if you would?” Rossi said.
The ME nodded, “I’d brace yourselves, if I were you.”
Johns’ gently removed the sheet, a reverence to his touch, to expose the body. Spencer’s eyes convulsively closed for a moment. It was the man in the drawing in his dream. He was relieved that Johns’ had closed the victim’s eyes; he wasn’t ready to see them in color. Rossi was giving him a look of concerned puzzlement when he finally opened his eyes. Luckily, the agent kept that concern to himself, though Spencer knew it was highly unlikely that Rossi wouldn’t address it in private once they were done.
Donald Dorsey had been tortured for an extended period of time. Spencer had seen a lot since he started at the FBI, but nothing quite like what he was seeing. He cleared his throat, before moving closer to examine the body. Rossi had an anguished look to his face as he studied the cuts and punctures that littered Dorsey’s groin, abdomen, and thighs. The victim’s nipples had been removed.
“How many stab and puncture wounds were there?” Rossi asked.
Spencer automatically answered before the ME could open his mouth, “One-hundred and thirty-three, not counting the ones I can’t see on the back. They’re very precise. Did he damage any of the internal organs? ”
“No, he missed them completely as far as I can tell,” Johns’ replied. “He knew what he was doing and they’re placed at varying depths depending on the area chosen. I’ll know more once I finish the autopsy, but I wanted you to see him before I cleaned him up.”
“Would anyone know how to do this through a bit of internet research or would he need to have a good understanding of anatomy, doc?” Rossi asked.
Johns’ shook his head, “He really knew what he was doing. Only someone with anatomical knowledge could keep from damaging the organs and not hit any main arteries or blood vessels.”
“Any signs of sexual assault?” Spencer asked.
“Not in the conventional sense, no,” John’s replied. “There are additional cuts and puncture wounds to the buttocks, lower back, and the backs of the thighs; but, no evidence of penetration of any kind.”
“Well, he did have them restrained. And going by the ligature marks on the ankles and wrists, they were awake through most of the torture,” Rossi stated as he leaned over to see the damage more thoroughly.
Spencer geared himself up, then studied the face of the victim. The whiteness of the skin was a stark contrast to the dark hair that haloed Dorsey’s handsome face. He could see evidence of tears from the corner of the closed eyes a winding river down past the temples. The blue stained lips were missing something.
“Huh,” Spencer hummed.
Dave looked up from his perusal of the torso, “What?”
“There’s no evidence the victim was gagged at any time,” Spencer said. “Any trace?”
“Not around the face, but I did find some sort of gray powder smudged on various places,” Johns said. “The print expert couldn’t get any pattern from them, but I did send out to trace for analysis.”
Spencer moved to study the smudges dotting the areas of the shoulders and hips. The smudges were not touching nor covered in the blood, “It looks like the tips of fingers. He probably had it on his hands when he was positioning the body how he wanted it to look after the victim died.”
He pointed to the various points for Rossi and Johns to see as he said, “See he’s avoided disturbing the blood.”
It was cold outside the morgue, but the sun was warm on Spencer’s face while he waited for Rossi. It seemed obscene that the day would be so bright and sunny after the atrocity done to Donald Dorsey. Spencer burrowed into his scarf as a cold wind ruffled his curls and sent chills down his spine. He closed his eyes and tried to picture other images in his mind, he needed to get his focus on the case back and not wallow in the imagery of his dreams. His cat, Gottfried came to mind. The image of the fluffy feline soon followed with Gottfried taking possession of Hotch’s lap and his insistent aggression for attention from the Sentinel. It made Spencer smile slightly, the picture in his mind of the last time the Sentinel had been to visit after one of their dinners together.
“What’s up with you today, kid,” Rossi said from behind him, startling Spencer from his fugue state.
His friend’s dark eyes were glinted with interest and care. Dave was like a dog with a bone, once he decided on something. It looked to Spencer that his time of hiding was almost over unless he could deflect his friend’s worry.
“I’m fine,” he lied. “I just haven’t slept well the last few nights and the smell in there was making me a bit queasy. I probably just need to eat.”
Rossi just raised a thick brow in disbelief, “It’s more that than, genius. I haven’t seen you this disturbed since I first met you. So, I’ll ask again. What’s going on, do you need to go home?”
“No! No, I just…,” Spencer trailed off hunching into himself, not sure what to say. “I’ve been having dreams for awhile now and they’re disturbing.”
“About our cases? That’s pretty normal, since you’re new to the work,” Rossi replied gently. “I have bad dreams come in fits and spurts depending upon my stress levels.”
Spencer grimaced, “Not exactly.”
“Is it about your epic crush on our resident Sentinel?” Rossi smiled.
“What, No!” he replied in shock. “How’d you know about that anyway?”
Rossi had a teasing light in his eyes, “It’s pretty obvious genius.”
Spencer felt himself flush in embarrassment, “Oh god, this is a nightmare. Does Hotch know? The team?”
“I’m sure everyone knows, including Hotch,” Rossi replied. “For someone raised in Las Vegas, you have a terrible poker face.”
This was not news that he needed on top of everything else, Spencer thought. He’d not realized he’d been broadcasting his attraction so loudly, even though he’d suspected Hotch knew. Spencer worked with a bunch of nosey, intelligent people and should have seen this coming up at some point. Though as a diversion to get Rossi off the dream tangent, it was a good one.
“I can’t talk about this, Dave,” Spencer stated. “Nothing can come of it anyway.”
Rossi shook his head in disagreement, “Why not?”
“Why not?!” Spencer said incredulously. “For one thing, he’s my boss and for another he’s a Sentinel, Dave!”
“So?” Rossi asked now both eyebrows arose in amusement.
“I’m only a sensitive, there’s no way I could bond with him even if he wanted too,” Spencer replied.
“Kid, do you really believe a regular person can’t have a satisfying relationship with a Sentinel? There’s more to a relationship than bonding you know?” Rossi stated.
Spencer pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, “Dave, from a man who’s been divorced three times, you really shouldn’t be giving me relationship advice. And since it’s never going to happen, can we please just drop it and get back to work?”
“Understood,” Rossi’s hands lifted in surrender. “But, if you want to talk about anything, you know I’m here.
Aaron watched while J.J. put the finishing touches on the large map posted next to the crime board. The sites of the abductions highlighted in blue while the sites of the killer’s dumping grounds a stark red against the background of green showing the area of the state park. The victims lived in very different areas and neighborhoods, but the dump sites clustered in a five square mile area.
“The ME called, he just got done with your two fellas,” Captain Howard said coming into the conference room. “He’ll have the autopsy report to me tomorrow morning.”
Aaron gave the aging detective a nod as he stopped in front of the board, hands on his hips. Howard had been working as a police officer in Richmond for over thirty-five years. He was a Sentinel and had been bonded and married to his Guide since he was in his early twenties. Aaron couldn’t even comprehend having been bonded for more than forty years. Of course, he didn’t have any experience with bonding, except for what he knew of his parent’s bond. Their relationship as both husband and wife, Guide and Sentinel had been volatile. Aaron had learned after he’d gone to college, that his parent’s bond and marriage had not been normal. The resulting turmoil he’d experienced as a child and teen had caused a wariness about bonding that had somewhat influenced his decision to marry Haley straight out of high school. Since the dissolution of his marriage five years prior, he’d taken the time to learn what it was to be bonded by pursuing research and counseling at the Council for Sentinel and Guide Research in D.C.
The captain shook his balding head, “I never thought I’d have another serial case in Richmond in my lifetime.”
“You headed up the investigation of Timothy Spencer, in ’87 right?” Aaron asked.
Howards brown eyes were troubled when he replied, “Yes, the ‘Southside Strangler,’ the papers called him. Four rapes and murders and the first killer to be convicted on DNA evidence. That was a terrible case, but I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
“My team is very good, Captain,” Aaron stated. “I’m sure we can help you find this killer.”
“I certainly hope so,” he replied. “Preferably, before he takes a new victim.”
Aaron heard Spencer’s heartbeat before he and Dave had even entered the station. Once in the building, Spencer’s lovely scent filled the Sentinel’s head, distracting him from his conversation with his colleague. He found many things about Spencer distracting since he’d first laid eyes on the genius. Dr. Spencer Reid could only be called beautiful; he was lithe and lanky with high cheek bones, creamy skin and large light brown eyes. The whole delicious package was set off by his flyaway chestnut curls. Spencer was an extremely attractive young man who had no idea how captivating he really was. His looks combined with his intellect set him apart from everyone Aaron had ever met. Added to all that was the fact that Spencer was just a generally nice and pleasant person to be around, this increased his attractiveness in Aaron’s view.
Aaron had been finding lately he was having difficulty keeping his attraction to the young genius under wraps. Sentinels were territorial creatures by nature and Aaron was increasingly fighting within himself to keep his possessiveness for the youngest member of his team under control.
Dave came in to the room, followed closely by Spencer who looked even sicker than he had that morning. The smudges of dark areas under his big eyes were blunt blemishes against the paleness of his face. Introductions to Captain Howard were made before everyone sat at the table. Rossi dropped down into his chair like a puppet with its strings cut.
“We we have got ourselves an aggressive sexual sadist with a side order of rabid piquerism,” Dave burst out with a sigh.
Spencer was nodding at Dave’s statement, his soft locks caressing his forehead. His eyes skittered away from Aaron’s avoiding not only the Sentinel’s gaze, but J.J.’s and Rossi’s as well. It wasn’t like Spencer to be so evasive with the team during a case. Aaron felt a push in his mind coming from the genius, like a soft slap against the back of his hand. The Sentinel’s disquiet over Spencer’s state must have brushed up against the Sensitive’s empathy.
“What did you find out?” Aaron asked, unwilling to confront Spencer’s state until they had a private moment.
“He’s an arrogant prick, who left his DNA all over the bodies,” Dave stated.
Aaron couldn’t help but raise a brow in surprise, “He’s not impotent?”
“No, definitely not,” Spencer replied softly. “But the torture he inflicts over a long period of time allows him to gain release. He’s probably impotent in normal sexual situations.”
“He would need isolation to do that, wouldn’t he?” J.J. asked. “He wouldn’t be able to have a family tying him down.”
Dave nodded, “We think he must have an isolated place to work as well, the victims didn’t have any evidence on them that they’d been gagged or silenced in anyway.”
“He wants to hear them screaming,” Spencer said, faintly. “There were over a hundred stab and puncture wounds on the front of him alone and evidence he was awake for most of the torture.”
After that conclusion, J.J.’s eyes looked a little weepy, Dave looked like he was trying to stay detached from the knowledge, and Howard had his hand over his mouth in horror. And Spencer… just looked like he wanted to collapse. Aaron needed to take control of the conversation and get his team to focus.
“Janice Rowland’s parents and ex-husband should be here in an hour,” Aaron said. “J.J., I want you to interview the parents and find out what you can about Janice, her daily routine, and her movements in the days leading up to her abduction.”
J.J. nodded at the instruction and pulled the victim’s file back to her. Satisfied that one member of his team had a task to focus on Aaron moved on to the next.
“Dave, would you be willing to take a ride with Captain Howard to interview Peter Henderson’s fiancé and take a look around his apartment?” Aaron said. “It’s only a few miles from here, so not a long drive.”
“Will do, Hotch. But, I think we all need to get a bite to eat first,” Rossi challenged. “The genius needs some vittles.”
The Sentinel was pleased Spencer gave Rossi a frown for singling him out. An aggravated Spencer was a much better option than a defeated one.
“There’s a great little diner just down the street,” Howard added.
“Sounds good,” Aaron voiced, before looking at his watch. “Morgan and Prentiss are finished with the dump sites. Detective Cooper is taking them to Dorsey’s house to assess the abduction site. Hopefully, a neighbor saw something. I’ll interview Rowland’s ex-husband.”
Spencer had moved his frown to his boss; his supple mouth formed a moue of displeasure. If the situation hadn’t been so serious, Aaron would have found the pouting cute.
“I’m not really hungry, Hotch,” Spencer said.
“I think we all need to eat, Reid,” Aaron replied. “After lunch, I want you to see if you can make heads or tails of the geographical profile. The abduction sites and the placing of the bodies are odd.”
Spencer already had his eyes fixed on the map by the time the Sentinel had finished his statement. The genius could get lost in a puzzle to the detriment of everything, particularly his health.
Rossi arose and tugged Spencer’s arm to get him up, “Come on, kid. You need food for your big brain.”
Aaron hid a smile behind his hand at hearing Spencer’s grumbling about bossy Italians under his breath.
“Depending upon what time the others get back, we may have to wait for a full briefing until morning,” he said following his team out the door.
The flavor of the beer was sharp on his tongue, satisfying after the long day. Aaron didn’t often partake of alcohol, but he enjoyed the taste of the occasional golden brew. His mind was buzzing with trepidation; he wasn’t ready to head up to his room to continue perusing the case files or sleep. He didn’t know if what had him so restless was the link to Spencer’s mind buzzing in the back of his head or just plain worry for the exhausted genius.
The team had had dinner together once Morgan and Prentiss had made it back to the station that evening. The case was discuss somewhat, but the team was tired and they were still waiting for the ME’s report on Donald Dorsey. The conversation had evolved to a lighter tone, with J.J.’s tales of Henry’s antics and Rossi’s commiseration on the state of his latest manuscript. Spencer had been nearly falling asleep in his bowl of Chinese noodles toward the end, so Aaron had called it a night. He was disturbed not to have had a chance to talk privately with Spencer that day. The genius had been cagey while working on the geographical profile, making sure Aaron never caught him alone. The Sentinel hoped the drink would not only relax him a bit to sleep, but help excise the possessive irritation he’d been simmering with all day at Spencer’s avoidance.
“The kid got you worried too, Hotch?” Rossi asked, sidling up to the hotel bar and giving a wave to the bartender as he sat down.
Aaron covered his start of surprise at being snuck up on with a sip of his beer. He’d been so immersed in his thoughts and tracking the cadence of Spencer’s sleeping heartbeat, he’d become unaware of his surroundings. It was so unlike him and realized he needed to address the problem of his genius soon. His lips curled into a slight smile at his possessive thought of Spencer as ‘his genius.’ If only it was true, he mused.
“I think everyone’s noticed he’s not at the top of his game right now,” Aaron replied.
Dave’s craggy face and thick brows were furrowed, the creases deepened when he took a sip of his whisky with a grimace.
“Besides the fact the kid’s looking a bit peaked, anything else you want to share?” he inquired.
The Sentinel raised a brow at his friend before he smiled, “You’ve been waiting for months for an opening haven’t you, Dave.”
“Oh yeah, I’ve just been biding my time to interrogation you on the elephant in the room,” he replied, his voice low and droll in humor. A way out for Aaron, if he didn’t want to address his friend’s line of questioning further.
Aaron rubbed his face in dismay at being put on the spot before he sighed and took another sip of his beer. Stalling. Dave was looking at him with casual interest, but the inquisitiveness in the depths of his dark eyes belied the easygoing façade.
“Have I been so obvious, Dave?” he asked softly.
“No. The kid, yes. His crush has been self evident for months now,” Rossi replied. “I’ve only noticed your attraction, because I know you so well. Your stoic front is still in tact with the rest of the team.” He paused for a moment before he asked, “What’s happening to him… and to you, Aaron?”
Aaron whispered, “I don’t know. I’ve had a telepathic or empathic link of some kind with him since the night Vincent Gaylord tried to kill him. It shouldn’t be possible.”
Butterflies fluttered low in his stomach at the admission. He’d not spoken of the link to anyone until now. Exposed he covered is disquiet with another sip of his beer before Dave’s hand squeezing his shoulder brought his attention back to the Italian.
“I didn’t think that was possible with a non-Guide,” Dave stated eyes wide with surprise as he released the Sentinel’s shoulder.
“It shouldn’t be,” he answered.
Dave finished his shot before asking, “I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Guides and Sentinels, but could the kid be a Guide?”
“No,” Aaron shook his head. “The genes required are not in his physical make up, Dave. Obviously, there was a Guide ancestor in his past to make him a sensitive, but the combinations of genetic indicators needed to come online as a Guide are absent. You’ve seen Reid’s personnel file. They’re just not there.”
Dave hummed low in his throat before asking, “Have you ever heard of a sentinel bonding with a non-guide?”
“No, as far as I know it’s impossible,” Aaron said with a shake of his head. “I’ve been doing a bit of research when I have the time, but haven’t come across a reference to a non-guide bonding yet.”
“Perhaps you should call our wonder girl, Garcia and see if she can come up with anything,” Dave voiced. “She’s good at ferreting out obscure information, unless you want to see if Reid has anything rattling around in that big eidetic brain of his.”
Aaron snorted, “I’d have to tell him about the link first.”
“And you’ve been avoiding telling him for the last year,” Dave stated. “Why?”
“Dave, we work together,” he asserted. “And I’m his boss, the fraternization rules are self explanatory. Besides, I’ve already had one serious relationship destroyed by the work. And on top of that, Haley’s worry that I would eventually find a Guide to bond with helped to destroy my marriage.” He shook his head in the negative before saying, “Another serious relationship with a non-guide is not really an option for me.”
“You want him,” Dave challenged.
“Yes, in so many ways,” he acknowledged and then regretted the admission immediately.
“Hotch, I think you’re over thinking it. The kid is not Haley; he understands the work and the hours it entails. As far as the rules go… you know they can be bent and I could sign off on Reid’s evaluations if you’re worried about being biased,” Rossi said with a smug smile on his face, which irritated the Sentinel to no end. “As far as the whole bonding thing, I think if you already have a mental link with the man, the least you can do is find out more about it before putting the kybosh on the idea of a possible relationship.”
“Dave…,” the Sentinel sat back in protest.
“You go out for dinner and lunches regularly, right?” Dave asked. “How many weekends have you spent doing geeky things with the kid? What do you talk about when you’re together?”
Aaron rubbed his face in consternation at Dave’s words, “We do spend a lot of time together outside of work. We talk about almost everything, cases, psychology, literature, scientific theory, some I understand and some of it is over my head. We talk about how his cat would be an evil mastermind bent on word domination if he had opposable thumbs. Almost everything,” he repeated. Then added, “What are you getting at, Dave?”
Humor and success where alight in Dave’s eyes, “Hotch, you’re in love with the genius. The two of you have been dating for over a year now. You both just didn’t know it!”
“Well, shit…,” Aaron moaned into his hands. Dave was right, he was in love with Spencer and he’d just been avoiding acknowledging it.
The strokes of the brush were fine and elegant. The man’s strong form sat relaxed in contemplation, muscles and skin, shadow and light converging together in harmony. The death mask and the blood would come soon…
“Spencer! Spencer… WAKE UP!”
The deafening voice booming in his head caused Spencer to come to swinging with a shout, fighting against the hard hands holding him down. All he could see was painted red, blood red swirls and flecks vulgar and drizzling from the brush to the canvas.
“Spencer, you’re alright! Spencer… stop!” Aaron’s words cut through the fog of Spencer’s frenzied panic, but not before a final swing of his fist connected with the Sentinel’s jaw.
The image of Aaron’s head snapping back and the room coalesced in unison for Spencer, abrupt and jarring. He had a death grip on Hotch’s tie with one hand and his fist raised for another blow that Rossi had grasped tightly at the wrist. All three were frozen in shock before Spencer realized he was in his hotel room, in bed with Aaron and Dave looming over him. It registered that he was gasping for air, trembling and covered in sweat before Aaron shook his head and brought his hands down to grasp Spencer’s face. The touch immediately invoked feelings of calm and safety washing softly over his mind. Comfort in the wake of terror.
A whimper escaped Spencer when he fully realized he was safe and no longer immersed in the dream. Aaron just kept stroking his face, running his fingers through his hair waiting for Spencer to calm. It took some time, but his breathing slowed responding to the ripples of serene emotions coming from the Sentinel until his body went limp in relief.
“Oh god! I’m so sorry,” he burst out when he saw the red imprint from his fist on Aaron’s jaw. He had to force his fingers to relax their grip on the Sentinel’s tie.
Rossi slowly released his retraining hand as Aaron replied, “It’s fine Spencer, you didn’t hit me hard.” In a low voice he added, “Dave, I need to talk to Spencer alone. Why don’t you call it a night and get some sleep.”
The Italian stepped back from the pair, uncertainty in his gaze before he gave Aaron a quick pat on the back while saying, “If you need me, I’m just down the hall.”
Spencer took a deep breath when he heard the click of the door closing. The Sentinel’s dark eyes were anguished when Spencer’s own met them. He couldn’t hold back the tears he’d been fighting not to shed for days when he recognized the pain in Aaron’s gaze, a mirror to his own.
The Sentinel pulled Spencer up from his nest of pillows, surrounding him with the warmth of his body. Large hand’s smoothed through the curls at the back of his head, massaging his nape, allowing Spencer to weep. Spencer was mortified by his display, but too scared to stop it or stop taking the comfort Aaron was offering.
“Shhhh… it’s ok, I got you,” Aaron murmured into Spencer’s ear, the warmth of the Sentinel’s breath against his damp nape sent a shiver down his spine.
Spencer wrapped his arms around the strong form, clutching tight burying his face in Aaron’s shoulder. Hiding. He couldn’t stop crying, didn’t want to even. He was so tired, petrified by what was happening to him. The dreams, so different from The Knowing, but just as terrifying were getting stronger. His breath shuddered in his chest, his arms tightening even more around the Sentinel.
Spencer didn’t know how long it took, but it seemed that a significant amount of time had passed before his crying wound down enough to breathe easier. Aaron was patience and warmth, murmuring words of reassuring nonsense in his ear with cascading caresses of emotions soothing his mind. It was quiet in the dark heat of Aaron’s shoulder; fatigue ultimately forced him to relax the clench of his muscles. He became limp in Aaron’s arms who allowed him to continue to wallow in the embrace.
He had a bit of déjà vu when Aaron removed his face from its home nestled in the join of the Sentinel’s shoulder. Spencer blinked slowly watching Aaron smooth his hair from his forehead, check his temperature with the back of a hand followed by fingers soft against the pulse in his neck. The Sentinel’s care reminded him of the night Aaron had saved him from being strangled and stabbed to death by Vincent Gaylord.
“You’re in shock,” Aaron murmured. “Back with me, Spencer?”
“Sticky, cold,” his words slurred with fatigue, his eyes felt heavy, aching from the burn of his tears.
Aaron allowed him to find the warm nook of his shoulder again for a little while. He listened half heartedly at the Sentinel’s call for fresh sheets for the bed. The click of the room phone being cradled registered before Aaron removed the bedclothes from Spencer’s legs.
“Put your arm around my shoulders, Spencer,” Aaron instructed. The room tilted a bit when his lanky form was lifted into the Sentinel’s strong arms. He didn’t even have the energy to protest being carried to the bath. He was just too damn tired.
Aaron set him down on the closed seat of the toilet and started the bath. Spencer knew he should say something or do something, but he was paralyzed with lethargy. It was all Spencer could do to stay upright while Aaron removed his tie and dress shirt leaving the solid form in his white t-shirt and gray slacks. Steam and warmth started to seep into Spencer’s cold flesh as Aaron worked to get him out of his pajamas and into the bath. He was even too tired to be embarrassed about being naked in front of his boss and friend.
The heat of the bath was heavenly against his skin. Aaron’s large hands were gentle as they worked a soapy washcloth over him to remove the sticky sweat from his skin. Spencer just lay their enjoying the attention and soft touch, following Aaron’s low voiced instructions. If it hadn’t been for the trauma of the dream, he knew he would’ve been nervous and fidgety having never been in this situation before. The Sentinel washed his hair, the pleasant massage to this scalp helped to wake him somewhat from his stupor.
Soap was rinsed and the bath was becoming lukewarm by the time Aaron addressed him directly, “Feeling a bit better? Do you have another set of pajamas with you?”
Spencer nodded, sleepy in response, “In my bag in the closet.”
“Ok, let’s get you up and back into bed,” Aaron ordered.
Spencer swayed a bit on his feet, before he was able to gain his balance. Aaron dried him, gently padding him down with a fluffy towel only to wrap him in two more before lifting him in his arms again. He just relaxed against the Sentinel, allowing the man to take care of him, enjoying being in Aaron’s arms.
The bed had been remade and soon a new pair of pajamas followed, before Aaron tucked him back into bed.
“Can you stay with me?” Spencer asked, taking a hold of the Sentinel’s hand.
Aaron nodded, “Of course, I just need to get my things from my room. Go to sleep, I’ll be here if you have another dream.”
“We need to talk don’t we?” he asked, his voice faint muted in reticence as he started to realize what had truly happened and that Aaron knew his secret.
Aaron’s eyes were tender as they perused Spencer’s face. The Sentinel smoothed his damp hair off his forehead, pensive while gathering his thoughts together.
“I believe we both have confessions to make, Spencer,” he stated. “But, they can wait until morning.”
Aaron leaned down and placed feathery kisses on Spencer’s lips, cheeks, and eyes. Spencer leaned into the pressure and pleasure of the lips on his skin, surprised and elated to have Aaron’s affection. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but he hoped its meaning lay in more than just friendship.
Chiming near his head pulled Spencer from a deep sleep. There was a large band of heat along the length of his back that felt heavenly, removing the permeating cold he’d been feeling in his gut for days. A band of pressure around his waist was released as an arm reached over him to turn off the merry tune of the phone on the bedside table before it again wrapped around his waist to pull him closer to the heat with a soft squeeze.
“Good morning,” Aaron whispered, nuzzling the back of Spencer’s head.
Spencer was too sleepy to be alarmed by the fact he was in bed with his boss or embarrassed when he remembered the Sentinel giving him a bath the night before. It was to pleasant to stay relaxed in the strong arms, only felt once before. The morning after he’d had an episode of The Knowing. The night he’d met the team. At least this time, his morning wood was being kept to himself; though it was satisfying that Aaron’s was snuggled against his buttocks.
Contentment was pulsing in the back of his mind and it took him a moment to realize it was coming from Aaron. The sensations pleasant, but stronger than any emotions he’d previously felt from the Sentinel, except in the aftermath of Gaylord’s attack. Amusement washed over him in response to the insatiable curiosity that arose as his brain reset from his deep sleep.
“You know, don’t you?” Spencer asked softly.
Aaron’s arms gave him another squeeze, “That the telepathy is back? Yes.”
The affection caused a pleasant fluttering throb to tighten low in his stomach. It didn’t seem as if Aaron was angry that Spencer had kept the transference a secret. But, it looked like his evasion on the topic was over. He was the Sentinel’s captive audience this morning. In the literal sense, since the man’s arms were tight around Spencer’s skinny body and there was no escape from the protective embrace.
“It’s different this time,” Spencer murmured before he sighed in frustration. “Why couldn’t I have telepathy with a sweet old cat lady? Instead, I’m inundated with the thoughts of psychopaths!”
The Sentinel’s hand tugged at Spencer’s shoulder encouraging him to roll over and face his bed partner. Aaron’s face was soft from sleep, eyes concerned as they perused Spencer’s face. That fluttery feeling expanded when Spencer realized he wouldn’t be able to fib about what was happening under that penetrating stare.
“Tell me,” Aaron ordered. He took a hold of Spencer’s hand, giving it a squeeze of encouragement. There was no getting out of bed now, Spencer thought. He was well and truly captured.
Frustrated, Spencer demanded, “Promise me you won’t take me off the case.”
“I can’t promise that, Spencer,” Aaron said, the Sentinel was intimidating when he frowned. “I will promise to keep you on it, unless or until it is detrimental to your physical or mental health. If you become unstable, it could be dangerous for all of us.”
Well, shit. Spencer didn’t appreciate the guilt trip at all. His team was his family and he wouldn’t put them in danger if he could help it. The Sentinel had pulled the proverbial wind out of his sails. He’d just have to keep a lid on his emotions for the duration of the case.
To start he said, “I’m not feeling His emotions this time.” He got another squeeze of encouragement from the Sentinel’s fingers around his own. So he continued, “Its the dreams, clearer than dreams should be. I’m seeing what he’s doing, as if I’m the one doing it.”
“You’re seeing the kills?” Aaron asked, alarm in his voice.
“No, I’m seeing what he does after he kills them,” he replied. Aaron raised a black brow in question, but Spencer wasn’t ready yet to tell him the whole truth. “I’d rather talk about that with the team, so I don’t have to do it twice, Hotch.” He hesitated, and then he added, “You’re going to make me tell them, right?”
“Yes, they need to know what’s going on with you, Spencer,” Aaron answered.
Spencer nodded, the pillow soft against his cheek, “So if it’s ok with you, I’d rather talk about it in one go.”
“Ok,” the Sentinel said, a hand reaching up to pull Spencer’s locks off his forehead before rubbing one cheek with the back of his fingers. The comforting gesture was appreciated and Spencer couldn’t help but lean into the soft caress. A ripple of well-being cascaded through his mind and the tension in his body from the last few minutes was released. It was a strange sensation, but welcome all the same.
Now that he could avoid the topic of his dreams for a little while longer, Spencer’s innate curiosity emerged pushing him to ask, “Is it normal for a Sentinel to project their feelings on non-Guides? You said we both had confessions to make?”
Now it seemed as if Hotch was the one who wanted to hide as he removed his fingers from Spencer’s skin. With the removal, the feelings of contentment became muted, but were still there in the back of his head.
“No,” Aaron sighed. “It shouldn’t be possible, not with a non-Guide and only if it’s a conscious decision for unbonded pairs. Also, a low level sensitive shouldn’t be able to perceive emotions from a Sentinel even if they tried to push them on to the other person.”
“Until I met you, it had never happened to me before,” he added.
“Huh… do you think it’s my telepathy?” Spencer asked.
Aaron shook his head, “I don’t know. How old were you when the empathy manifested?”
“I was about five, ten years earlier than I should’ve been,” Spencer replied. “My parents were so worried about it, they had me tested for Guide genes and diseases four times throughout my childhood and adolescence.”
“Five,” Aaron voiced in amazement. “I don’t know how a child could manage feeling the emotions of others so early in life.”
“It wasn’t painless and didn’t make me the easiest kid for my parents to handle,” Spencer nodded. “Though, the empathy was hit or miss for a long time. If a person near me had a strong personality, I was usually able to pick up on how they were feeling. It was difficult when my mom was having one of her episodes.”
Aaron took Spencer’s hand again before he asked, “What did the doctor’s have to say about the early appearance?”
“They couldn’t find anything wrong with me,” Spencer said. “Though my brain scans did show increased activity in the left hemisphere of the Parietal Cortex, but that wouldn’t have been unusual with my I.Q. They didn’t have a previous scan to compare to before the empathy manifested. However, I did have added activity in my Temporal Lobe. They think the empathy emerged early when those areas of my brain came online prematurely. I had an increase in sensory and emotional processing that was added to my visual memory.”
“You told me that the telepathy started after your car accident and coma last year. What did the scans show?” Aaron asked.
“There had been bleeding in the Frontal Lobe region of my brain,” Spencer replied, his grip on Aaron’s hand tightening as he remember waking up in the hospital after three weeks in a coma, held down by wires, tubing, sterile smells, and white sheets. “Once the hematoma had dissipated I had increased neuron activity in that region, though I didn’t feel any different than before.” Then added ruefully, “I didn’t tell anyone about the telepathy until you and Dave were interrogating me. I thought they might institutionalize me, think I was mentally ill, like my mother.”
“I’m sorry you were, are worried about that,” Aaron said, before moving closer to Spencer, his forehead softly touching the genius’ sharing his pillow. Trepidation was added to the feelings he was receiving from the Sentinel.
“What’s happening, Hotch?” he asked, then he rubbed his nose against Aaron’s in hope it would make the Sentinel smile, but the gesture only heightened the worry emanating from the man.
Aaron wrapped an arm around Spencer and pulled the lanky form closer hiding his face in the disheveled locks below. Supple lips were on his forehead before he heard Aaron murmur, “Our minds have been linked since we met.”
“What?” he asked in shock, thwarted from moving away from the Sentinel by the strong embrace surrounding him.
The Sentinel’s hold tightened further, as if he was afraid Spencer would struggle out of the hold when he replied, “When I first touched you in the interrogation room, you could feel me. My emotions helped calm you. I didn’t notice the link was there until after I pulled you from the transference later that night. It was how I heard your call… when Gaylord attacked you.”
“Have you been reading my mind and emotions this whole time?” he asked, irritated his tone came out in a questioning hush instead of a strong demand. Spencer wanted to look into Aaron’s eyes, but he was no match for the Sentinels strength. Until Aaron was willing to let him go, Spencer was unprepared to struggle and possibly hurt the man. He’d have a few choice things to say though if this was the way Aaron avoided addressing his feelings in the future. Spencer wasn’t a plush toy to be used for comfort! Though he did enjoy the previous cuddles he’d experienced with the Sentinel.
He felt Aaron shake his head in the negative against his hair, “No… no, just when you’re in distress or I’m focused while I touch you. But, I’ve been able to feel your presence in the back of my mind and I know if you’re ok or not. It seems we can also reach out to each other telepathically when needed.”
“I woke up last night with your voice yelling in my head,” Spencer stated.
“And you woke me up from a dead sleep shouting in my head when you were attacked,” Aaron responded.
“Is it like a sentinel-guide bond?” he asked. Spencer’s heart started pounding now that his own trepidation surfaced.
Aaron’s embrace softened enough to allow Spencer to move away a bit from his bed partner and look into the dark eyes. Or he would’ve if Aaron had them open, damn it!
“No, though I’ve never experienced one,” he replied. “The bond between a sentinel and guide is empathic, not telepathic.”
Aaron finally opened his eyes and Spencer could see—and feel—the Sentinel’s anxiety. A spike of dismay shot through Spencer’s belly when he realized the possible consequences of what Aaron was saying.
“Oh god! Have you been able to see the dreams this whole time?” he felt the heat in his cheeks as the question burst out.
Aaron ran a hand through Spencer’s hair again, “No. Though I’ve woken up a few times upset for no reason, which may have something to do with the link. Whatever the link is, it’s not steady or stable at the moment.”
“Good… good,” he said as relief surged through him. He didn’t want the Sentinel or anyone really in his head all of the time. Hopefully, Aaron wasn’t holding back information. The thought his boss could feel when he masturbated was too terrible to contemplate. “Why didn’t you tell me about it sooner, Hotch?”
“I was worried it would ruin our friendship,” Aaron replied. “Though, I think both of us know our relationship is more than friendship.”
Spencer could feel the heat of a blush starting to rise on his face and avoided Aaron’s eyes when he asked, “What do you mean?”
“Well, according to Dave, we’ve been dating for over a year now,” the Sentinel stated a wiry humor in his voice.
Spencer frowned in irritation, “I told Dave a man that’s been divorce three times has no business giving out relationship advice!”
The Sentinel started to chuckle, which turned into a full blown laugh that made Spencer finally sit up and stared down at the man in annoyance. His irritation only seemed to amuse Aaron further causing him to laugh harder clutching his stomach as he rolled around on the bed.
“I’m sorry…sorry,” He said breathlessly when Spencer folded his arms together and continued to stare at him irritably. “I can just picture Dave’s reaction when you said that to him. Beside’s you’re incredibly cute when you’re angry.”
“Hotch!” Spencer burst out embarrassed, his face flaming hot from the roots of his hair down to his chest. He probably looked like he’d been scalded with hot water!
“I can understand why Dave would think I didn’t know we were dating,” Spencer grumbled. “I’ve never dated, but why you wouldn’t know is a mystery.”
Aaron tugged his arms away from his body and urged Spencer to lay back down with his head on the Sentinel’s chest. Spencer acquiesced and wrapped his arms around the solid form enjoying the steady heartbeat under his ear.
“I’m sorry, I’m not laughing at you, Spencer,” the Sentinel said still a little breathless from his laughter. “You’ve never been with anyone?”
“No,” he said as he rubbed a hand over Aaron’s sternum and chest enjoying the feel of the hard muscles under his palm. “I was twelve my senior year in high school, thirteen at the start of college and too young for everyone else there. By the time I was done with my studies, I was finally the same age, but awkward and my empathy kind of hindered my attempts at dating.”
Aaron gave him a hard hug, “Go on… please tell me.”
“It would kick in at odd times and I’d just feel they wanted sex, not a relationship with me,” he said and rubbed his face against Aarons chest. Hiding his embarrassed flush as best he could. “I wasn’t ready to just be a quick lay and leave it at that. And I was worried what the empathy would do during coitus.”
He felt a wash of amusement from Aaron over the formal term for sex he’d use, but Spencer wasn’t one to swear often unless he was under duress or Dave startled him into it. He felt Aaron’s hand running up the back of his neck and into his hair, stroking him like he stroked Gottfried. Spencer was too content with the affection to be irritated that he was being soothed like his cat under the Sentinel’s hands.
He cleared his throat to continue, “By the time I was ready to give it a try again; I had my accident, recovery and then the telepathy to deal with. So, I’m a twenty-nine year old virgin genius empathic telepath who doesn’t understand most social interactions. So… what’s your excuse for not figuring out we’ve been dating for months?”
“Besides the fact I’m your boss, my marriage,” Aaron replied his voice serious. Spencer lifted his head from the warm chest to gaze into the Sentinel’s eyes in question. Aaron searched his face for a moment before he continued, “Haley worried constantly toward the end that I would find a Guide to bond with. Added to that, she hated the hours the job took away from her and my dedication to it, and after fifteen years had had enough. I wasn’t prepared to have a serious relationship with a non-Guide after that.”
“And now?” Spencer asked his fingers unconsciously rubbing the Sentinel’s neck.
“Now? I hate to admit Dave is right, but I can’t seem to shut off my feelings for you, Spencer,” he replied. “If you want me too, I think we should give it a try and see where it takes us.”
Aaron settled at the conference table between Dave and Morgan to wait for the rest of the team. He could feel his lips curl into a small smile remembering Spencer’s shout of dismay when he caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror that morning. He’d hurried to the doorway worried about what could cause the genius such distress only to find Spencer had his hands pressing and releasing his hair. The extensive bed head caused the curls to spring off his scalp straight up to death defying heights. The chestnut strands looked like a birds nest that had been fought over and lost in the war.
The genius had caught sight of him in the mirror, flushed cherry red, and then slammed the door in his face barking at him to go to his own room to get dressed. The Sentinel could hear Spencer grumbling to himself about bed head made worse by Sentinel fingers and going to bed with a wet head. And how serious a relationship discussion could be taken when one of the partners looked like an idiot.
“You’re in a good mood, Aaron,” Dave stated. “Sleep well?”
The Italian’s eyes were twinkling in humor with a small amount of questioning concern after finding Spencer struggling in the dream.
“Yes, very well, though not for as long as I’d have liked to,” Aaron replied with a nod that relaxed his friend. “You?”
Dave smiled, “It took awhile to fall asleep, but I did fine once I drifted off.”
Morgan was looking between the two in curiosity and Aaron could tell the younger agent knew there was some sort of subtext to the conversation going on around him. But, he kept his thoughts to himself as Spencer arrived with J.J. and Emily. It looked as if the genius had gone to the highbrow café for breakfast with the ladies, if the excessively large coffees in their hands were any indication. Aaron was gratified Spencer was looking well rested considering the dream the night before. He didn’t know if his presence had helped the genius sleep deeply or if the dreams didn’t return once Spencer awoke from them. It would be nice to know if he’d helped Spencer in that way. He’d have to find out, he mused.
Dave gave the genius a teasing wink, which caused Spencer’s cheeks to turn pink as he sat down. He busied himself with his paper files avoiding the elder agent’s gaze with a sniff vexation.
J.J. closed the door, so they could get started.
“Captain Howard should have the ME’s report soon,” Aaron stated. “Morgan, Prentiss what did you find at the abduction sites?”
Morgan looked to Emily who started the discussion by saying, “Dorsey lived alone and there were signs of forced entry at his place. He owned a handgun, but it hadn’t been used and there were signs of a short struggle. We think the Unsub laid in wait for him.”
“We couldn’t determine if anything was taken from Dorsey’s place, but his parent’s may be able to tell us if anything is missing,” Morgan added.
“Henderson’s townhouse showed no signs of forced entry and his fiancé said that nothing was missing,” Rossi said. “So he may not be taking trophies. It’d be unusual for a sexual sadist not to take something from his victims.”
Spencer spoke up, his tone confident, “He doesn’t need to take trophies.”
“Why would you think that, Spence?” J.J. asked her brow rose in confusion.
“Because, he’s painting them,” Spencer stated.
Spencer felt his cheeks grow hot with all eyes focused on him after his statement. He probably shouldn’t have blurted it out like that, he thought. But, he was nervous, so he was going to go with that as his excuse for his lack of subtlety. He felt a pulse of encouragement in the back of his mind and frowned at Hotch for pushing him. The feeling abruptly left when Aaron nodded, acknowledging Spencer’s annoyance at his interference. He still didn’t know what to make of the link with the Sentinel, so they were going to have to negotiate its use at some point soon. Spencer wasn’t even sure if he liked it or not, though it was helpful when he was upset.
“He’s painting them, Spence?” J.J. asked confusion evident on her face.
“The dreams started three months ago,” Spencer replied. Then he forced himself to stop fiddling with the files in front of him before he continued, “I just thought they were a reaction to the job… I didn’t realized that I was seeing the Unsub until I saw the photographs of the victims during briefing.”
Morgan leaned forward in his seat; his dark eyes captured Spencer’s when he said, “Are you telling us that your telepathy thing is back?”
Spencer’s chin came up, indignation rushing through him as if he were a dog who’s hackles rose in response to a threat. Morgan’s disbelief grating after all they’d been through, first as adversaries and then as colleagues and friends.
“Yes, Agent Morgan that’s what I’m saying!” he barked out.
The room was silent, the team stunned mute by Spencer’s unexpected and out of character explosion of temper. His heart started to race from the jolt of panic and anger that rushed through him from Morgan’s tone more than from the question it self. Spencer knew he was overreacting, but he was hurt that his friend would be so untrusting of him to question the painful reality of his ability.
“Tell us what you’ve been seeing, Spencer,” Aaron ordered softly, removing Spencer’s focus from Morgan to the Sentinel. The understanding in Aaron’s gaze, as well as the lack of rebuke helped Spencer gain some control over his temper. It was so unlike him to be angry with anyone, let alone Morgan who’d become a good friend to him over the last six months.
Spencer worked to release his temper as he assessed the team. J.J. was still looking a bit shocked and confused. She’d not seen the episode of the transference in his apartment that Rossi, Morgan and Prentiss had. Dave was relaxed as if he knew what was going on with Spencer this whole time. Typical of Dave who always seemed to be aware of the emotional under currents of the team and its members no matter the situation. And Morgan… Morgan just looked devastated by Spencer’s rebuke. He’d have to apologize later, he supposed. Once he wasn’t feeling so betrayed by his friend.
“The artist starts by drawing his subject,” he said and looked down at his hands; not wanting to see what emotions would surface on his team’s faces. “What follows is the painting of the nudes. Beautiful at first, detailed light and shadow and rich in color. Alluring and appealing, one woman at first, then followed by a man and then another man. But, then he starts to add the wounds and blood…”
Spencer’s breath hitched, his voice going low unintentionally, “So much blood, blatant blood red and then the face initially as if they are relaxed and thinking or sleeping in peaceful repose. The final touch is the death mask, ugly, hideous, and grotesque. A macabre image I can’t take my eyes away from. It’s like I’m painting them and can’t resist adding the blood and the death mask.”
Emily reached over and took his hand in hers, squeezing it in support. Spencer felt the burn of tears in the back of his eyes, but didn’t allow them to fall. He wasn’t weak! He could handle the images and he could talk to his team about them. He trusted them and he needed their help.
“Spence, is there anything more you can tell us about him?” J.J. asked softly, her voice full of concern.
His hand clutched Emily’s tight as he shook his head and swallowed the lump in the back of his throat. A wave of calm smoothed through his mind from Hotch for a few moments. Spencer used the link to send a little pulse of thanks back to the Sentinel, who removed his presence from Spencer’s mind at receiving it. His brain hiccoughed for a second at the realization he’d unconsciously used the mind link in response to the Sentinel’s invisible touch. He took a deep breath to ignore the aberration and answer the question. It wouldn’t do to seem even more unstable in front of the team then he already had.
“No,” he replied. “I just thought they were dreams. It’s different this time. I’m not receiving thoughts or emotions like I did with Gaylord. I’m just watching Him paint as if I’m the one doing it.”
Dave cleared his throat then remarked, “So the time he’s spending with them after they die is so he can paint them?”
“Well, he draws them in detail and the paintings have to come later because they’re extremely detailed and I would think take weeks to finish,” Spencer replied, relieved someone besides him was talking.
“What else can you tell us about the paintings?” Emily asked. She was still holding his hand, but Spencer released it with a pat to pull out some images from among his papers on the table.
“Don’t tell Garcia, but I did some googling with the help of the sergeant in the bull pen this morning,” he said with a self-depreciating smile. Most of the team except Morgan, smiled at his little joke as he got up to pin three images on the case board.
“I don’t know very much about art or its interpretation, but the Unsub’s paintings seem to be reminiscent of these three works,” he said, his confidence returning when he went into lecture mode next to the board. “The painting of Janice Rowland is very similar to the Renaissance art of the Master Italian painter, Titian. Specifically the Venus of Urbino completed in 1538. Though by the time her body was found, the pose the Usub put her in was destroyed. But, the image of the painting in my mind, matches this one clearly.”
“Huh,” Dave grunted, the agent’s eyes focused on the image before he noticed everyone’s eyes on him. “Titan’s Venus was considered domestic within an indoor setting and sensual to explicitly engage the viewer.”
“What?” he asked in response to the raise eyebrows from the majority of the team. “I’m Italian and I collect art.”
The mood in the room lightened somewhat with Dave’s dry tone. Spencer cleared his throat and got a nod from Aaron to continue his lecture.
“Then it gets a bit weird,” Spencer started.
“I’d say it’s weird already, Petty Boy,” Morgan cut in making Spencer give him his usual frown of irritation for being teased. The agent relaxed back in his chair with a smile at Spencer. It seemed as if they were going to be ok. Spencer in lecture mode and Morgan being a teasing Neanderthal was their usual MO with each other.
Spencer sent a snooty look to the agent before he continued, “As I was saying, the Unsub did his first painting based on the Renaissance style. The next two jump into the eighteenth century French Neoclassical style, according to that Google image thingy. I found two paintings from that period that seem to match the paintings done by the Unsub.”
“The one on the left is by Jacques Louis David, considered the preeminent painter of the era and was one of the strongest influences in French art of the early nineteenth century,” Dave said.
“Yes! You do know your art, Rossi,” Spencer said, excited that at least one of the team knew something about art. “The painting of the second victim, Peter Henderson is evocative of David’s painting, Male Nude known as Hector. The Unsub has started painting our final victim, Donald Dorsey. As you can see from the crime scene photos, the pose suggests he’s copying the work of one of David’s students, Jean Baptiste Isabey. It’s based on a charcoal and black crayon drawing called, Man Sitting on Rock done in 1789.”
The room was once again silent after Spencer finished his presentation and sat back down. He was relieved it was just the silence of quiet contemplation as the team took in the information and studied the board. At least, they were mute because of his fact spouting rather than his temper.
Morgan captured his attention, a hushed hesitance in his voice when he broke the quiet, “Kid, I don’t disbelieve what you say you’ve been seeing, but we can’t base our profile on your dreams.”
“I know,” Spencer tried not to take offence and kept his voice even as he replied. “But, I thought the team should know and hopefully it will help us catch him.”
Aaron rose from his seat to go to the board. He removed the first two paintings, but he left the Isabey drawing up. Together the image of the drawing compared with a wide angle shot of Dorsey’s body at the crime scene were an obvious match of forms.
“We need to build the profile, based on what we know so far,” he stated. “Particularly, since we need to build the case on evidence and keep Spencer’s telepathic abilities from being exposed. The third drawing is an obvious match to Dorsey’s crime scene, so we can use it.” Then added, “Now, what can we use with the information we do have?”
Spencer leaned into the squeeze Aaron gave his shoulder when he returned the printouts of the first paintings to him. As usual, their unit chief was able to focus his team and in turn Spencer’s convoluted thoughts on how to proceed.
“Well, the first two dump sites in the park were not as easy to get to as the last,” Emily said. “Though they were close to some walking trails, so the Unsub did want them to be found quickly, but probably didn’t anticipate there would be less traffic this time of year.”
Morgan added, “He adjusted after the first two bodies took so long to be discovered. Dorsey’s body was very close to the road, near a popular rest and viewing area. The initial display is important to him.”
“We still don’t know how he’s choosing his victims, though from the first two abductions, he is stalking them for a time, and learning their routines,” Aaron voiced.
J.J. looked down at her notes before saying, “Janice Rowland’s parents said she was friendly, but wary with strangers. She wouldn’t have let him into her house, but there were no signs of forced entry. Perhaps she knew him? She was his first kill that we know of.”
“Her ex-husband was looked at initially, but his alibi checks out,” Aaron stated.
“According to her parents he was on friendly terms with her and they had shared custody of the children,” J.J. replied.
Rossi looked down at his own notes before saying, “There were no signs of forced entry at Henderson’s place either, so we need to find out how these two victims could have known him.”
“Dorsey’s abduction was messier, like he didn’t take the time to try and coerce his way in,” Morgan said. “He broke in ahead of time, so perhaps Dorsey didn’t know him or he just decided to not take the time to enact a ruse.”
Spencer got up from his seat to focus on the map of the abduction and dump sites. He’d worked a long time on the geographical profile yesterday and it was as unique as the Unsub they were after. It made little sense at this point, much to his chagrin.
“The only anchor points we have are the dump sites,” he said. “They are clustered within a five mile radius of each other. The abduction sites don’t seem to have any set points in a usable circle, even though we have three points. He’s choosing them at random if they fit his criteria.”
A knock was heard before Captain Howard came in with some files in his hands.
“The ME got me the autopsy results for you folks,” he said handing out the files around the room. Then he stopped to peruse the case board with the added image of the Isabey drawing. “What’s this?”
Spencer looked at the report in his hands and before anyone else answered, “The posing of Mr. Dorsey’s body reminded me of this drawing by French painter, Jean Baptiste Isabey.”
It was just a little fib, but Spencer avoided the older Sentinel’s gaze by returning to his seat. When he decided it was safe to look up, Aaron caught his eyes. The Sentinel was amused rather than angered by Spencer’s fibbing.
“He wants the body to look like art?” Howard asked.
Aaron replied taking the focus off of Spencer, “We think that may be part of it, but with the other two crimes scenes compromised it’s just a theory at the moment.”
“Though it’s looking less like a theory now,” Rossi cut in. “The fingertip smudges on Dorsey’s body is high quality graphite according to trace. Unfortunately, you could probably buy it at any art supply store, but we should get Garcia on the horn to start doing some digging.”
Derek got his phone out placing it in the middle of the table on speaker, “Finally! Chocolate Thunder, you know what your lack of one-nine-hundred number voice does to me if I don’t hear it on a regular basis!”
“Garcia, you’re on speaker,” Aaron said, his tone chastising but droll.
“Right! Sorry… sorry, sir,” she said her voice sheepish with embarrassment.
Spencer was silently laughing along with the rest of the team. Captain Howard had a quizzical look on his face that added to Spencer’s amusement. Garcia intentionally or unintentionally could always be counted on to soften the mood in almost any situation.
“Baby girl, we’re going to send you some specs regarding a type of graphite found on Donald Dorsey,” Morgan said. “See if you can’t find out which art suppliers in the area supply it. Though, I’m sure the Unsub could order it online, but hopefully he’s arrogant enough to purchase it locally and leave us a trail to follow.”
Spencer voiced an idea he’d had in his head since the start of the case, “Also, this Unsub practices piquerism and if he’s anything like Albert Fish he’ll have punctured himself on a regular basis from adolescence. Can you do a medical record search going back twenty to thirty years to see if anyone was admitted with self inflicted puncture or stab wounds?”
“Will do, Junior G-Man,” Garcia said. “What about cutting, would that be something I should look into?”
“No,” Spencer replied ignoring Garcia’s teasing nickname for him. As the youngest and most awkward on the team, he’d come to accept that he’d get ribbed on a regular basis. It was all meant in fun, so Spencer accepted it as his due as the rooky on the team. Also, according to J.J., the team couldn’t help it, because he was cute when flustered. “He wouldn’t cut himself, his self harm will be very specific. Look for needles requiring removal.”
Aaron spoke up then, “Lastly, Garcia, look for cases of animal cruelty going back at least twenty years. The cruelty would mainly involve multiple punctures or stab wounds that would kill the animal slowly over time.”
Garcia made a distressed sound before saying, “God, I hope there aren’t any pictures I have to look at.”
Spencer couldn’t agree more. They all saw such horrible things with human victims, but animals and children who had no defense always cut him and Garcia deeply. Gottfried was a demanding, pain in the ass cat, but how anyone could hurt a fluffy helpless creature like him was beyond Spencer comprehension.
“Ok, I’ve got that all down, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can,” she replied. “Stay safe my lovelies.” The phone clicked off and she was gone.
“Let’s study our witness statements and see if we can’t connect anything between the victims that will tell us how he’s choosing them,” Aaron said.
Spencer got up to study the map and case board again, stretching his legs after their long meeting. He felt a soft touch to his arm and turned to face Morgan who had come up to him on silent feet.
“Pretty boy, I’m sorry about what I said earlier,” the agent said in a low murmur of apology. “You just caught me off guard; I’m still not use to thinking of you or anyone really having a psychic gift like yours.”
Morgan was truly sorry. Spencer could see it in his dark eyes; the man was worried he’d ruined their friendship by his words.
“I’m sorry too, Derek,” Spencer replied. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”
The agent nodded and gave Spencer’s shoulder a squeeze as he said in a self-depreciating voice, “I get that kid, but I don’t want you not to tell me if some things bothering you. Even if my reaction isn’t good initially, I usually get my head out of my ass eventually and see the light.”
“Thanks, Derek,” Spencer returned with a soft smile. Glad that all was forgiven between them. He hated confrontation, it always turned his world upside down and he had enough trouble navigating real life as it was.
Both agents started when Detective Cooper burst into the room, breathless.
“There’s been another abduction,” he announced.
The wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped, the morning’s overcast sky an omen of bad weather and dread for Olivia Carter. The scene was like chaos in the parking lot of the local grocery story, the press only adding to the din assaulting Aaron’s ears. Luckily, the three young children of the victim had been removed from the car, so the Sentinel didn’t have to hear the harmony of their cries amongst the music of the crime scene.
“What could’ve caused the Unsub to accelerate this quickly, Hotch?” Morgan voiced the question that was already in Aaron’s mind. “He wouldn’t have had time to finish his ritual.”
Aaron squatted down to look in the driver’s side of the car. Spencer, his hair a wild mass of curls being pulled in every direction from the wind was crouched opposite studying the passenger side. Aaron shook his head in the negative, “What ever set him off, caused him to become disorganized and reckless. He took a victim in broad daylight, in a busy area with security cameras.”
“Perhaps our presence in town pushed him,” Spencer said, his large amber eyes fixed on Hotch. “I saw this morning that the news had announced our arrival on the case last night.”
“That’s the only obvious change that we know of,” Aaron replied. “It could’ve set him off, excited him enough to accelerated his need.”
Aaron closed his eyes to concentrate his sense of smell to filter out the unnecessary scents one by one. The first, Spencer’s captivating musk below his spicy aftershave; it was an addictive aroma, one Aaron had enjoyed since he’d met the genius. The next was the scents of the children, baby powder, sour milk, and the indescribably clean essence that came from all babies skin. He caught the bouquet of the victim, her perfume, the sweet tang of breast milk from her lactation, and the pheromones of a woman who had a man in her life. The Sentinel stilled, when a new scent was caught, sharp, abrasive, chemical. Turpentine.
It was faint, the remnants of the killer’s presence by the car. The Sentinel opened eyes to Spencer’s gaze, curiosity in the link to the genius tickling the back of his mind. Pleasant.
“I can smell turpentine,” he replied to the unasked question.
Spencer’s eyebrow rose, his refined face beautiful under the low light of the overcast sky. Aaron had to shake himself to take his focused gaze off of the genius’ supple lips. Spencer was a distraction he couldn’t afford to let his senses get lost in at the moment. He stood to address Morgan and remove the temptation to absorb himself in the Empath’s being.
“Morgan, any witnesses?” he asked.
Derek nodded, “An employee gathering the carts saw a white man, tall in his mid-thirties approach the victim. He didn’t get a good look at the man’s face though, and the victim didn’t cry out.”
“He probably threatened her children if she did,” Spencer voiced, moving around the back of the vehicle to join the other two agents. “Did he see the vehicle the Unsub took her in?”
Morgan shook his head, “No, it didn’t even register that anything was wrong until he came back out and saw the car doors open with the kids crying in the back.”
“Morgan call Garcia and have her pull the surveillance footage,” Aaron ordered.
“Will do, Hotch,” Derek said, moving away from the car to place the call.
Spencer’s sweet scent washed over Aaron again, a puzzled look had settled on the genius’ face.
“What is it, Spencer,” Aaron asked.
The genius shook his head, “It just seems odd to me that he would be so excited by our presence to take another victim so soon and so obviously. This is messy, unorganized, he made a mistake taking Mrs. Carter this way. Something else has to be driving him, he’s too calculating to be this disorganized.”
“He is arrogant, though,” Hotch replied, mulling over Spencer’s words. The Unsub had left his DNA all over the bodies, unconcerned with being caught through CODIS.
“Spencer, not that it will help us, but I want to expand my hearing for a moment,” Aaron said. “So if you could just stand quietly and keep anyone from approaching for a few minutes that would be helpful.”
Spencer’s curiosity spiked again in his mind before he replied, “Of course.”
The Sentinel pushed the feeling down in his mind so he could concentrate enough to open his hearing. The noise of the crime scene rose unbearable for a few seconds before he started to filter it out. There was something buzzing underneath it all and he needed to find it. He removed the voices of those around him, the detectives and the crime scene techs, the shutters of the cameras from the news crews, and the droning of the news anchors into their cameras. One by one they were silenced until only the low buzzing and Spencer’s light breathing were heard. The technical hum was important and Aaron couldn’t pinpoint it. His forehead tightened to the point of pain trying to identify where the sound was coming from, but the whisper of it was elusive.
The soft touch of fingers tangling with his own and the pleasurable wash of empathic sensation in his mind shocked the whir of sound into focus. It was coming from low in front of him and he opened his eyes. He allowed the other sounds to filter back in, but gently. Their harsh tones muted by Spencer’s presence in his mind. Spencer looked wrecked with his hand still knotted with the Sentinels.
“I’m sorry,” Spencer said, his voice apologetic and bewildered. “I don’t know what came over me, but I just had to touch you.”
Aaron gave the genius’ hand a squeeze, “It’s alright. The touch actually helped me focus.”
“Oh, ok,” he replied faintly before removing his hand from Aaron’s. Spencer’s habitation of the Sentinel’s mind was removed leaving only the passive link to the genius, comfortable after all this time, in his head.
Spencer’s cheeks were pink with embarrassment, which Hotch found was an appealing look for the genius. Rather than cause the young man further unease about the unintentional use of his empathy the Sentinel squatted to feel around under the vehicles’ front wheel well. His fingers found a square plastic casing that wasn’t supposed to be there and pulled it free.
“I guess we now know how he’s stalking his victims,” Spencer stated looking down at the small GPS tracker that had been attached to the car. “This was definitely a mistake on our Unsub’s part,” he said smiling down at Aaron.
“We’re ready to give the profile,” the Sentinel stated satisfied and returned his genius’ smile with one of his own.
Spencer was still bewildered and mortified that he’d pushed his empathy onto Aaron when they arrived at the station. It had been an uncontrollable instinct, a reaction to the pain he’d felt coming from the Sentinel, to project his empathy for the first time ever on another person. Aaron had dismissed his apology, seemingly just fine with his actions, but his concern hadn’t been assuaged.
He really needed to start doing some research into sentinel and guide bonding and abilities. For a genius, he was pretty stupid, he acknowledged. He was an empath with guide genes in his blood, minute as they were, and he’d never gotten around to even looking at the research done about human sensitives. Spencer admitted to himself, that he’d never been fully comfortable with the small amount of empathic ability he did have and even more so once the telepathy had surfaced. The discomfort had allowed him to justify procrastinating and avoid delving into the available research on the subject. Well, once the case was over, he was going to get down to the business of absorbing all the research done he could! The avoidance was just plain ridiculous, he mused with a grimace at himself.
His cheeks turned pink again when Aaron’s dark eyes caught his in question. Spencer was just so embarrassed on top of being so attracted to the Sentinel. He just couldn’t control his empathy or his physical reactions, which just made the whole situation worse. So he did what he always did and avoided the problem by shaking his head at the man and moving towards the case board for a distraction. As usual, Hotch seemed to know what he needed and let him go without comment.
New information on the board caught his eyes; additional points on the large map had been added. J.J. sidled up next to him eying the top of his head in amusement.
“What?” he asked.
She smiled her big blue eyes twinkling with mirth, “A bit windy out, Spence?”
His blush intensified when his hands moved over his head, the curls windblown every which way was evident under his fingers. Spencer hurried to tame them with his fingers, tucking some of the stubborn locks behind his ears. He’d just finished his fussing when Hotch and Morgan joined them at the board.
“What did you find, J.J.?” Morgan asked, his gaze taking in Spencer’s blushing and frowning countenance. But, kept any teasing to himself for a change, much to Spencer’s relief.
She pointed to the board as she spoke, “We finally found a connection between the victims. In the days leading up to their abductions they all purchase items from shops in the Carrytown area of the city. The district is full of galleries and specialty shops, though their purchases were from three different stores, but within a three bock radius of each other.”
“We think that’s were he’s choosing his victims,” Dave voiced from his seat at the table.
Aaron nodded, “That makes sense, since we found a GPS tracker on Olivia Carter’s car. The other victim’s cars were checked and the detectives also found GPS trackers on their vehicles.”
“So he chooses them in that area, either they fit his criteria or they’re doing something that sets him off,” Spencer said. “So he places trackers on their cars so he can find them later.”
“The ME report also showed taser burns on Donald Dorsey,” Emily stated. “So that’s how he’s able to subdue them. The burns were hidden beneath all of the blood.”
“Ok, lets all have a seat and get Garcia on the phone,” Aaron said with a nod to Morgan.
“Goddess of omnipotent technology at your service, my six pack abs god of love,” Garcia answered.
Morgan grinned, “Baby Girl, you’re on speaker.”
“Ok, moving on then,” she replied not in the least contrite though. “I’m still waiting on the search results to compile for the medical records you requested. However, I can tell you that the graphite found is pretty much a dead end and can be bought at any craft or art supply store or online. Also, they come in packs, which can last for months according to the lovely store minion I spoke too, so pinpointing when it could’ve been purchase is a no go.”
“Did you find anything on the animal cruelty front, Garcia?” Spencer asked. They needed something more if they were going to be able to save Olivia Carter.
“I did my wild haired genius or boffin as the British would say,” she replied, the good natured teasing totally inappropriate, as usual and ending in a horrid English accent that made Spencer smile. “I went back thirty years and found reports of an incredibly significant, and totally upsetting, cases of dead animals found twenty-one years ago. All of the dogs and cats found had multiple puncture wounds and were dumped in and around the town of Chesterfield near the state park.”
David sat forward in his seat to speak into the phone, “That fits, if the Unsub is in his mid-thirties then he’d have been between the ages of twelve and fifteen at the time.”
“Garcia, did they have any suspects,” Aaron asked.
“Unfortunately no, but the killing went on for more than a year and then stopped,” she replied.
The new information added to the points on the map were swirling in Spencer’s brain coalescing with numbers and vectors painting a complete portrait of the geographical profile in his mind. His confidence returned with the familiar use of his intellect, pushing his apprehension about his empathic gifts to the back of his mind.
“I can see your brain is buzzing, Pretty Boy,” Morgan stated pulling Spencer from his mathematical trance.
“With what we know now,” Spencer answered. “The Unsub probably lives outside of Chesterfield very close to the state park. He probably works or owns a shop in Carrytown. Since we think he is an artist, perhaps known or unknown most likely he works in one of the fine art galleries in the district or at least submits work to one of them.”
Aaron nodded and then rose from his seat, “Let’s give the profile.”
Aaron watched Spencer and J.J. finish passing out information packets to the detectives and beat cops. The case board and large screen television were set up in the main bullpen. The video images of the suspect abducting Olivia Carter were looping on the screen.
He was worried about Spencer’s state of mind, but was relieved when the puzzle of the case had pulled the genius out of his internal flagellation. Aaron hadn’t really thought Spencer’s empathic touch could be construed as against his will at the time. It was welcome to the Sentinel, but Spencer didn’t know that and had no knowledge of how Sentinel’s and Guides used their abilities around each other. He was going to have to have a talk with Spencer soon to clarify things, he mused. The Sentinel wanted Spencer to be comfortable with his gifts and should have address the issue long before now, but his avoidance of admitting to the link all these months had prevented him from doing so.
The pair of them deserved each other, he thought. Spencer shut down and didn’t acknowledge his problems, while Hotch ignored them until he couldn’t anymore. As he was sure Dave would say if he knew the full extent of their predicament, ‘the two of you really need to get your heads out of your Asses.’ Aaron determined that as soon as they had a moment, he would and he was sure Spencer wouldn’t be happy about it.
“The Unsub is a white male in his middle to late thirties,” Morgan started. “But don’t rule out men in their early to mid-forties. From the video, we can’t see his face, but he is approximately six foot to six foot three inches tall.”
Emily stated, “He blends in well within the neighborhoods as he’s stalking his victims. So, he is probably socially adept, affable and non-threatening. He probably has a successful job and makes a decent living. The first two victims allowed him into their homes.”
“Based upon the graphite on the bodies of his victims and the turpentine I smelled at the latest crime scene, we believe he’s an artist of some sort,” Aaron said.
Spencer continued, “He doesn’t take trophies and the pose he left his third victim in, is indicative of the drawing by eighteen century painter, Jean Baptiste Isabey who was a student of master painter, Jacques Louis David. You’ll want to canvas the local college and university art departments, as well as the museums to see if a local artist is known to have an affinity to David’s works or the French Neo-classical style.”
“Add that to your canvas of the galleries in Carrytown,” Dave said. “He may be submitting work to them or he could be a gallery owner, so stay vigilant and see if you can find witnesses that have seen our victims and what shops they frequented on the days they were there.”
Aaron added, “He’s a narcissist and is devolving for a reason we don’t know yet. He normally keeps his victims for a few days to torture them and then for approximately twenty-four hours after death to possibly start painting them. He’ll need an isolated location, since he doesn’t silence his victims in anyway. We believe he most likely is a resident of the rural areas outside Chesterfield and is very knowledgeable about Pocahontas State Park. Check with the local rangers to see if any suspicious behavior or unusual activities have been noticed over the last few months.”
“He’s a piquirist and probably started piercing himself at a young age,” Spencer said. “His parents may have been aware of the issue and sought counseling, so check hospital records and long-time therapists working in the area.”
J.J. made a final plea, “Please keep this information to yourselves, it is vital that the Unsub does not find out what is in this profile. It could cause him to change and we would lose any advantage we have to identify and catch him. Olivia Carter’s life depends upon keeping this information out of the press. Thank you.”
Spencer didn’t know how it had happened, but he’d been strong armed—well… gently led really—by Hotch to a little mom and pop Italian place with a romantic candle in the middle of the table. His big plans for the evening of hiding in his room and ordering room service or takeout had been stymied by the Sentinel leading him from the conference room and inquiring if he wanted to go to dinner. Spencer had assumed the team was going, but found himself sitting across from Aaron in a very romantic little bistro instead. The reality of the two of them on a date—that they both were aware of—caused him to blush a bit when they sat down. Sentinels could be sneaky, he thought chagrined at his obtuseness.
The Sentinel was out of his suit jacket and tie with his crisp collared shirt open at the throat and sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The release from his normally starched appearance showed the delicious muscles of his forearms and soft looking hollow at the base of his throat.
“Do I make you uncomfortable, Spencer?” Aaron asked in a low tone that made the fluttering in Spencer’s stomach ratchet up. Spencer could only call the look he was receiving from the man as caressing. It caused the fluttery feeling in his stomach to escalate and a tightening pulse low in his groin. At this rate his face was going to look permanently sunburned with his cheeks growing hotter under that dark gaze.
“No! No… we have dinner all the time,” he said. Spencer shook his head, his curls escaping from their place behind his ears. Then he blurted out in a bit of a high-pitched squeak, “It just that, this is a date isn’t it?”
“I’d like it to be one, if you do, Spencer,” Aaron replied with a small smile. The Sentinel was so handsome with the low light reflecting red highlights off of his black hair. Aaron was rugged, the planes and angles of his cheeks and jaw pleasing to the eye. He was a tall, broad shouldered, fit man and Spencer wasn’t sure what he could possibly see in a gangly, pale and somewhat sedentary genius, who couldn’t control his blushing or his hair like a grown up.
Spencer cleared his throat to get rid of the squeak that had settled in the back of it, “I’d like it to be too.” He received a bright smile from his friend, though he guessed they could be considered boyfriends now.
The waiter came over to take their drink orders and give them some menus, which Spencer hid behind trying to gather his thoughts. Dating couldn’t be that hard, could it? He felt a soft touch to his hand and lowered the menu. He allowed his hand to be fully captured and a wave of amusement and happiness skittered over his mind from Aaron. Aaron did want this and the confirmation he felt helped to relax him somewhat.
“Hotch, I’ve never dated in my life,” Spencer said. “I’m not even sure how relationships work with regular people, let alone one with a Sentinel.”
Aaron gave his hand a soft squeeze his tone wiry, “Relationships take work Spencer, whether they are formed by sentinels and guides or not. We’ll have to talk about our feelings, work through things when problems come up. Being were both men, we may have to make a bit more effort to communicate.”
“And sex?” Spencer blurted and flushed red-hot. “How long do most new couples wait to…. you know.” He was sure his waving free hand made him look like an idiot, so forced himself to set it back down on the table.
Aaron gave his hand a squeeze again before releasing it. Chuckling he sat back to allow their drinks to be served and their orders taken before he answered, “Spencer, it doesn’t matter what other people do. We’ll go as slow or fast in that department as you want. I can wait.”
Spencer took a sip of his cola, the cold sweet liquid soothing his suddenly dry throat. He was getting a bit ahead of himself, he figured. They hadn’t even had their first official kiss yet. He decided he needed to move the conversation along a bit, though it was still relevant to their ‘relationship’ discussion.
“Can you tell me about sentinel and guide bonds?” Spencer asked. “How they work?”
Aaron nodded before sipping his own cola, “Of course, I’d be happy to. What happened today when you touched me with your empathy wasn’t unwelcome at all. Sentinel’s almost always welcome the empathic touch of their guide.”
“But, I’m not a guide,” Spencer said, still a bit bewildered from his actions earlier in the day.
“Even if the Sentinel is unbonded,” Aaron continued. “They will welcome the touch of a guide if they are having difficulty controlling their senses. I just wanted you to know, that what you did today was just fine and it helped me focus my hearing on the location of the GPS.”
“What if the touch of a guide is unwanted, though?” Spencer asked. It was all so confusing and he was irritated with himself for not doing research on the subject.
“The sentinel guide bond is empathic in nature,” Aaron replied then paused when their meals were delivered. “It protects not only the sentinel from unwanted projections of feelings, but guides as well. Sentinel’s bonded or not can close their minds when needed if they feel threatened by the empathic projections of others. Unbonded guides also have the ability to shield themselves from other people’s minds. A bond between them though, enhances not only the sentinel’s abilities, but the abilities of guides to focus their empathic projections.”
“So, if you hadn’t wanted my empathic touch today, you could’ve rejected it?” Spencer asked.
“Yes, I would’ve,” Aaron confirmed. Spencer released the breath he’d not realized he’d been holding, relieved that he hadn’t forced himself on the Sentinel. He’d never want to do that to anyone, let alone Aaron.
“The bond is empathic,” Spencer repeated to himself. “It’s not telepathic at all?”
Aaron shook his head in the negative, “For the most part no. Though under extreme duress some thought transference could be done.”
“You told me the night I met you, that you’d experienced telepathic contact with your parents,” Spencer voiced. All this new information was starting to make his brain buzz and he settled a bit as the intellectual puzzle started to catalog in his mind. “You said it was muffled though and that you couldn’t see what they were seeing or feel their emotions. You just heard their thoughts?”
Aaron looked down at his meal and Spencer wasn’t sure he was going to answer the question. All Spencer knew about Aaron’s family was that his father was now dead and he was estranged from his mother. He had a younger brother as well, but they weren’t often in touch. Perhaps this wasn’t a topic that should be on the agenda for a first date, Spencer mused.
“My parent’s bond wasn’t normal,” Aaron said and when he looked back up at Spencer, he could see the remnants of old pain in the Sentinel’s eyes. “It was volatile, they never should have bonded. But, my mother got pregnant with me and at that time her family and his wouldn’t accept having a child out of wedlock or from an unbonded sentinel guide pair. Their fights were violent empathically and very painful for them and for Sean and I. When they got particularly bad, that’s when I could ‘hear’ their voices in my head.”
Spencer had been relieved the first time Aaron had shared his telepathic experience with him. It had made his own reality less unique to a certain extent, but he’d not realized just how devastating Aaron’s confession had been for the Sentinel at that time. He knew Hotch was a very private man, even the team hadn’t known about the experiences with his parents until he’d answered Spencer’s question that first night in the genius’ apartment.
If the intimacy of their relationship continued to grow, Spencer hoped that Aaron would continue to trust him with his private thoughts and feelings. In turn, Spencer supposed he’d have to also learn to trust the Sentinel with his inner self as well. It was going to be difficult. He’d been isolated by his empathy and his intellect throughout his life, bullied in school, bullied in college, and the jealous rage he’d often felt from his colleagues in academia had forced him to remain isolated. Meeting and joining the team was the first time he’d encountered true belonging.
“It’s not normal is it?” Spencer asked his fingers unconsciously caressing the top of Aaron’s. “For sentinel and guide bonded pairs to not get along?”
The Sentinel turned his hand over and thread his fingers through Spencer’s before he replied, “It’s not common, but not unheard of either. Usually, pairs are very suited, but sometimes the initial lust felt by couple’s masks their incompatibility.”
“Did your parents know they were hurting you?” Spencer blurted and then wanted to kick himself for his curiosity. The memories were obviously painful for Aaron and he just couldn’t curb his brain to mouth filter.
Aaron smiled softly at him, “It’s alright Spencer you can ask me anything. I want to share things with you, even if they’re painful. To answer your question, I don’t know for sure if they did know. But, their parental link to us makes me think they had to know.”
“I’ve heard of parental links before,” he stated glad the conversation could go into less dangerous territory. “They’re established when children are young, aren’t they?”
“Yes, very soon after birth. The link protects children from the empathic projections of those around them,” Aaron replied. “Sentinel and guide children are sensitive to psionic input even though their full abilities don’t manifest until late puberty. Parents can’t read their children’s thoughts, but they can tell when their child is in emotional distress.”
Something Aaron had just said started neurons firing in Spencer’s brain. He realized that something had been missing all day and he just hadn’t noticed until now.
“Huh,” he exhaled.
Aaron squeezed his hand for attention, “What is it?”
“I haven’t received any empathic projections from the team or anyone else all day,” he replied. His eyes widened when the answer drummed to the forefront of his mind. “Actually, since you woke me from the last dream.”
Concern from the Sentinel rippled over his mind before Aaron asked with a frown, “What do you mean, Spencer? I know you’ve received some of my emotions.”
“Well, yes… but usually I pick up on the team’s emotional states regularly. Mainly, Morgan because he’s noisy empathically, but I occasionally pick up on J.J. and Emily’s feelings when they’re upset about something. Dave is just so laidback, I rarely pick up his. Even when Emily touched my hand in the conference room this morning, I didn’t get anything from her. I’ve received nothing from them or anyone else all day, except for you.”
“Huh,” Aaron grunted.
“That’s what I said,” Spencer replied trying to lighten the mood.
Aaron quirked a dark eyebrow at him, his lips curled up into a small grin for his cheekiness. “It could be the mind link we share,” he said.
“But you said it’s been there since we first met.” Spencer challenged.
“True, but when I couldn’t wake you from the dream initially, you said I woke you shouting in your head,” he replied. “Perhaps the telepathic contact changed the link between us.”
It was all so confusing and not a little bit frightening, if he was honest with himself. Aaron gave his hand one more little squeeze before releasing it to concentrate on his meal. Spencer’s pasta was lukewarm, but still tasty and the first bite made his stomach gurgle in pleasure. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until now.
They tucked into their meals, the silence comfortable between them. Spencer knew Aaron was mulling over the conversation too. He doubted any epiphanies would come to light though; their situation was so unusual. Spencer was not a guide, he was never going to be a guide, so the link he had with Aaron should not have been possible. Of course, the telepathy, thought transference, clear viewing or any number of other weird terminology that could be designated for what he was experiencing was not documented as far as he knew. At least, he’d never seen a reference to it in all the time he’d worked and read in academia.
Aaron captured Spencer’s gaze, “Perhaps, when we’re done with the case, we should contact the Council for Sentinel and Guide Research. They may be able to help us understand what’s happening.”
Spencer grabbed a crusty piece of bread to slather with butter, stalling a bit before he spoke, “I’m just worried that if they find out about the telepathy that I’ll end up institutionalized.”
“We can just tell them about the empathic link,” Aaron replied. “Rather than give them the full story. There is a researcher there, Dr. John H. Freeman who may be able to give us some answers.”
“I’ll have to think about it, Hotch,” Spencer said. “I don’t want the link to hurt you, or myself for that matter. But, I’m scared about what will happen if more people know. I’ve been different all my life; this just makes me more so and my mom’s schizophrenia would have to be factored in as well.”
The Sentinel nodded in agreement, “Ok, we’ll wait and see how things go between us. If the link is hurting you though, I need to know. We’ll have to get medical help if it becomes a problem for either of us.”
“Agreed,” Spencer said.
All and all it had been a nice first date, Spencer thought walking hand in hand with Aaron back to the hotel. Well… beyond the initial awkwardness, blushing uncontrollably, and the weird psionic strangeness of their predicament, he thought. It was cold, but they’d both forgone their gloves to hold hands, contentment and pleasure ebbing and flowing between them. The warmth in the hotel lobby was welcome when it hit Spencer’s cold cheeks. At least they were red from the cold and not embarrassment for a change.
They’d moved on to safer topics during dinner and mutually decided not to discuss the ugliness of the case while on their date. Spencer showed Aaron some photographs of Gottfried that Garcia had sent a few hours ago. His poor fluffy gray haired cat had an affronted look on his face, probably due to the fact that Garcia had dressed him up in a red bowtie and top hat. Spencer just knew he was going to hear all about it when he got home and that most likely there was an Internet meme online with his feline taking center stage.
“Here we are,” he murmured. The locked slicked open with Spencer’s keycard and he leaned against the open door to bid Aaron goodnight. “I had a nice time.”
The Sentinel’s eyes were heated as they moved over his face and zeroed in on Spencer’s lips. The butterflies were starting in his stomach again as Aaron leaned in to press his lips to his. They were soft but firm, heated. Aaron’s large hand came up to caress Spencer’s cheek and jaw for a moment before they stroked into his hair to clutch at the back of his head. Spencer’s breath escaped noisily through his nose before he tilted his head further to press his lips more fully to Aaron’s.
He could feel the heat in his cheeks start to rise when Aaron’s lips captured his top one and gave it a soft suck before coaxing Spencer’s mouth to part. He dropped his keycard and gloves to clutch at the Sentinel’s broad shoulders; his tongue shyly stroked Aaron’s in return.
Their kisses deepened, their breaths became heavier and arousal surged within Spencer. It was met with awash of desire from Aaron rushing over his mind. The Sentinel pressed him hard against the door, inducing a soft squeak to escape from Spencer’s throat. The passion between them became mindless and Spencer wallowed in the feelings he was giving and receiving.
The shock of his hard cock pressing against Aaron’s awoke Spencer from the fugue of sensations he’d been immersed in. He pulled back with a gasp, panting to catch some air in his lungs. The fog cleared a bit and he realized he’d wrapped a long leg around Aaron’s hip and one of the Sentinel’s hands was gripping his behind pressing their bodies together.
Aaron looked shattered, but in a good way, Spencer noted. The Sentinel’s face was flushed, lips swollen from their kisses and hair messier than Spencer had ever seen it. It was a good look, making the man more than just handsome to Spencer’s eyes. For a beginner in this relationship stuff, having Aaron looking so aroused and tempted by a kiss with Spencer was satisfying.
“Well, I guess my empathy won’t be a problem in the coitus department,” Spencer said. He was disconcerted that his voice had said the words in a hushed breathy tone.
Aaron chuckled as he removed Spencer’s leg from around his waist and put a minute bit of space between their bodies. He pressed his forehead to Spencer’s as he replied, “I enjoyed our first official date too, Spencer. Get some sleep.” Aaron nuzzled Spencer’s face before pressing a soft kiss on his lips again. Spencer could feel the silly grin on his face as he watched the Sentinel’s back as he headed down the hallway toward his own room.
He leaned against the door to his room when it shut behind him and ruefully pressed a hand to the hard dick in his trousers.
“Well, I’m going to have to take care of you or I’ll never fall asleep,” he said, giving his friend a bit of a rub.
Her terror was so satisfying surging over his mind, beautiful. The sharp pain as the first needle pierced her flesh felt so good, making him hard. She screamed, flinched. Heavenly. Where was he? He wanted that presence in his mind again. Another needle bore into her belly, agony. Oh yes, there he was! He hurt with her, fear and pain added to the ecstasy. They both couldn’t leave him. Their pain, their horror was his…
“SPENCER!” Aaron shouted pounding on the locked door.
It barely registered that the team had come out of their rooms as he continued to shout and pound. Spencer was in terrified agony; Aaron needed to get to him. He was immersed in the Unsub’s mind, he couldn’t get out. The image of Olivia Carter strapped to a table sliced through Aaron’s mind, accompanied by the feel of the killer’s sexual excitement. The Unsub was aware of Spencer in his mind!
The triad of three minds, two full of panic and pain merged with the third’s euphoria making Aaron sway on his feet. He needed to get control. He needed to get to Spencer.
“Aaron?” Dave’s alarmed question was ignored by the Sentinel.
The door came off its hinges, giving way with a loud bang from the force of the Aaron’s violent rage. The Sentinel stormed into the room to see Spencer seizing on the bed, his body bowed, his head back, struggling. Aaron gripped the sides of the genius’ face as another wave of fear, pain, rapture cleaved into his psyche.
He needed to get Spencer out of the killer’s mind! Concentrating he followed their link. It was writhing, twisting, dark red as he bore into the genius’ being.
“Spencer!” he called. The killer felt him then, delighted by Aaron’s alarm as he saw the web encasing Spencer’s spirit forcing the genius to see, hear, and feel what the killer was doing to his victim. Forcing him to feel the killer’s pleasure in it all.
“Aaron! Help me get out!” Spencer screamed.
Piercing pain sliced through Aaron’s side, the killer now wielding a knife on Olivia’s body with precision. The Sentinel’s being surged hard and solid to encase Spencer. He tore at the killer’s mind strands to free his love from their horrendous grip. The blood red of the empathic link was giving way to gold as piece by piece; string-by-string the web was destroyed by the Sentinel.
Spencer grasped the golden link, helping Aaron to tear the strands away from the inside. The link solidified, strong and invulnerable with the Telepath’s touch. The killer fought them to keep his mental grip upon Spencer, projecting molten black twisting cords at the pair. Together they pushed their golden bond at the blackness. It flowed around their spirits, dispersing, harmless into the ether of the killer’s sick mind.
“No!” the killer screamed when Aaron grasped hard at his bonded and pulled Spencer free from the madman’s mind. A jarring return to the physical world.
“Aaron… Aaron… Sentinel,” Spencer’s sweet voice in his mind, beautiful amber eyes glowing golden on his before blackness engulfed him.
“Well, this is disconcerting,” Spencer murmured.
A heavy fatigue bore down on Aaron, but he resisted returning to sleep at hearing his bonded in his mind. It felt like ages, but he was finally able to open his eyes, the lids weighty encouraging him to go back to sleep. Spencer’s bright gaze helped him to resist returning to the comforting blackness.
They were in bed, on their sides facing each other and sharing a pillow. Spencer looked sleepy, but radiant an added glow in the deep of his eyes. It made their normal brown hue slightly lighter. He was holding Aaron’s hand.
“Are you awake now, Aaron?” he said, his voice in the Sentinel’s mind a pleasant caress. “You can ‘hear’ me, can’t you?”
The bond, golden in his mind, had given way from the hardness used to defend themselves from the killer to a rippling satin softness just grazing his psyche. It was strong, but gentle in its emanations. Sweet like Spencer.
He decided to give this telepathy thing a try, “Yes, are you alright?”
Spencer’s eyes closed for a moment, his face softened relaxed when he received Aaron’s words.
“That felt really good,” he replied. “I’m ok, just worried about you. Am I hurting you?”
“No, your ‘voice’ doesn’t hurt. It’s a bit strange though,” he answered. “Can you ‘read’ my thoughts?”
Spencer squeezed his hand, his plush lips curled into a little smile, “No, just when you’re ‘speaking’ to me. Can you ‘read’ my thoughts?”
Aaron shook his head, “No.” It was a relief that his thoughts were still his own, but the situation was so new and strange that it could change. He could feel Spencer’s emotions in the bond, though the empathic projection was quiet in the back of his mind. So it was working like a sentinel guide bond with the added ability to speak in each other’s heads.
“Thank you for pulling me away,” Spencer voiced. “It was awful, He’s awful.”
“Spencer are you alright? Are you hurt in anyway?” Aaron asked.
“It hurt when I was in his mind,” Spencer replied his eyes misted with tears. “I could feel her. Her pain. Her fear as if it was my own. I could feel him, hear him. Feel his sick excitement from hurting her. From hurting me. The Knowing came back.”
Aaron squeezed Spencer’s hand tight in his before reaching to softly run the tips of his fingers over his genius’ soft cheek, offering comfort.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
“It’s not your fault,” Spencer said. The Sentinel’s fingertip caught a lone tear running down toward the pillow below. “I wasn’t there for very long before you came. We need to find Olivia soon or she’ll be gone like the others.”
“I felt her too for a few seconds and Him, but I think you received the brunt of the experience,” Aaron stated. Spencer leaned into Aaron’s hand under his cheek, another tear falling before he visibly gained control of himself.
His eyes are so beautiful, Aaron thought. His bonded was so incredibly beautiful. Then he waited breathless for a moment thinking Spencer had caught his thoughts. The Telepath’s countenance didn’t change, just gazed at the Sentinel with thoughts of the killer’s victim still in his eyes. Aaron determined it was true, Spencer couldn’t read his thoughts unless they were projected.
“How are we doing this?” Spencer asked, his bewilderment evident in his furrowed brow peeking from under his messy locks.
“You do know what’s happened. Don’t you?” Aaron asked.
Spencer shook his head, “The link you told me about. I can see it now. The telepathy is stronger. I’m able to focus it… at least on you.”
“It’s a bond, Spencer,” Aaron replied, sure now the genius didn’t fully understand what was happening.
Spencer’s eyes widened in surprise, “Like a sentinel and guide bond? Really?”
“It’s more than that,” Aaron replied. “The empathic link is similar to a traditional bond, but with the telepathy it’s unlike any bond I’ve ever read about. I’m not really sure… except I just know we’re bonded. But the urge to complete the bonding isn’t there.”
“What do you mean?” Spencer asked and Aaron could feel those genius brain neuron’s start to fire with curiosity. It was at once amusing to perceive and enjoyable to feel. Sweet tickling.
Aaron smiled, “Our bond is complete as it is now. At least that’s what I’m feeling. Usually, when sentinels and guides bond it’s translucent on the surface initially. They complete it, make it solid and unbreakable with a physical and emotional imprinting.”
“Huh?” Spencer’s confusion was adorable, his plush lips pursed in contemplation.
“They have sex, Spencer,” Aaron stated.
“Oh…OH!” he exclaimed and then his bonded turned beet red, which only added to the adorableness.
Aaron’s smile widened, “You’re so cute when you’re confused.” He couldn’t help his amusement at Spencer’s obtuseness.
“I’m not!” Spencer frowned at him in irritation. He paused and Aaron could see he was trying to control the blushing without much success before his curiosity got the better of him, “So, does this mean you don’t want to have sexual intercourse with me?”
He chuckled at Spencer’s blunt question, “It’s called sex, Spencer. And yes, I do want to have sex with you. It just means that I don’t need to crawl on top of you right at this moment and fuck you senseless to complete the bonding.”
Spencer flopped onto his back with a huff of disgust at Aaron’s teasing. It just made the Sentinel’s smile broaden more fully and he pulled his genius against him for a cuddle, kissing the soft skin of Spencer’s temple. His bonded was relaxed against him, pleased to be in Aaron’s arms even though he was disgruntled.
“I’m glad to see you’re both awake,” Dave said startling the two of them. Their friend was sitting next to the bed with a book in hand keeping vigil over the pair.
Spencer’s consternation of being unguarded and in Aaron’s arms tingled over his mind. Dave was smiling at them, though there was still concern for their wellbeing in his gaze. Aaron released Spencer so he could sit up and the genius scooted upright as well against the headboard of the bed. In his checked pajamas, his hair bedraggled, and his cheeks red, he was a lovely sight to the Sentinel’s eyes.
He’d been so focus on Spencer and their mental conversation that the extra heartbeat in the room he’d been hearing and Dave’s scent hadn’t even registered. Aaron determined that he’d have to try not to be distracted by Spencer in the future. But, he’d been fighting that situation before they’d been bonded. He was sure that with the bond the added complication of his genius telepathic bondmate in his head was going to take some effort to overcome.
Behind Dave the door to the room was propped precariously over the doorway. He’d really done a number on it, Aaron thought. An extra expenditure he was going to have to explain to Strauss when they got back to D.C.
“What happened?” Dave asked. “Are you two ok?”
Spencer was fidgeting under the agent’s gaze as he replied, “The Transference came back. I was in the Unsub’s head and couldn’t get out.”
“But Aaron got you out?” he inquired with a raised brow.
Aaron really didn’t want to go into too much detail until he and Spencer had a chance to talk some more or even just figure out what the hell was happening to them. After his display though, Dave was unlikely to let his curiosity go. He couldn’t blame the man though. Their situation could affect the outcome of the case. He needed to keep in mind that at this moment the case took precedent over everything else, even the bonding and their new abilities.
“I was able to pull him out of it, much like I did the first time during the Gaylord case,” he fibbed. “How long have we been asleep?”
“Unconscious, is what I would call it,” Dave responded and looked at his watch. “Going on two hours now, it’s just past one in the morning. I didn’t want to leave you two alone after all of the excitement.” Then he added with a grin, “Plus, you broke the door.”
Spencer was shaking his head. Aaron wasn’t sure if he was irritated by Dave’s bit of teasing or the broken door to his room. Or both.
“I take it the rest of the team saw what happened?” Aaron asked. It was unfortunate, but he seemed to recall they’d been in the hallway when he was trying to get Spencer to answer the door.
Dave nodded, “They did, but agreed to let me hover over you two on my own. They’ll need answers in the morning though. I also had them take Spencer’s things to your room Aaron. At least the door to your room is still intact and I figured you guys would want to stay together for the rest of the night.”
His friend was too perceptive by far. Spencer was blushing again, his lips turned down into an unconscious pout. Aaron reached over and gave his slim thigh a squeeze of support, but that only seemed to flush the genius further. He’d often thought Spencer was probably too innocent to be part of the FBI, but the genius had an inner strength to his being combined with his intellect that made him an extremely effective agent. Sometimes Aaron’s possessive sentinel nature wanted to override his common sense when it came to protecting Spencer from the unpleasant or dangerous aspects of the job. He’d been able to tramp that instinct down so far, but Aaron wondered how that aspect of his nature would play out with the bonding.
“Why do you think the telepathy came back now?” Dave asked.
Spencer stilled his fidgeting and Aaron could feel the rippling of Spencer’s bewilderment before it gave way to epiphany. Spencer, his eyes sharp glanced between Dave and Aaron before he focused on the Sentinel.
“The Unsub is empathic,” he stated.
Aaron felt a spike of menace at the announcement while Dave’s mouth dropped open in surprise. Thinking back to the experience of the transference, the Sentinel remembered the killer’s satisfaction in feeling Aaron’s alarm at seeing Spencer encased in his mental web.
“I think the physical proximity to the Unsub caused the full telepathic transference to manifest tonight during the torture of Mrs. Carter,” Spencer said. “Until now, I’ve only been receiving images when I’m asleep of him painting.”
“You were in the same city as Vincent Gaylord,” Aaron agreed. “Perhaps the killer’s empathy did allow you to perceive him over the… how many miles between Richmond and D.C.? You haven’t had any telepathic episodes since Gaylord, right?”
“One-hundred and nine miles,” Spencer said off hand. “No, not since three months ago and the first dream I had.”
Dave released his silence, “Could the Unsub be a guide?”
“I don’t think he is,” Spencer shook his head. “I think he’s sensitive like me. Part of the reason he’s killing like he is, beyond his fetish for piquerism, is being able to feel the heightened emotions of his victims.”
“At this point kid, I would say there’s no sensitive quite like you,” Dave replied in a dry tone.
“What Spencer’s saying does make some sense,” Aaron added. “From my brief contact with him, he is empathic, though his abilities are not necessarily strong. He tried to keep us in his mind, but was unable to. I think if he’d been a guide it would’ve been more difficult to get Spencer and myself out of his mind.”
“He was looking for me,” Spencer said hesitant. His bonded was troubled and a bit scared and Aaron couldn’t help but grasp a hand in his. “I think he may have felt me during the dream the other night.”
“Huh?” Dave grunted. “Perhaps that’s why he escalated his timetable and didn’t finish his painting ritual with Dorsey.”
“Perhaps,” Spencer murmured.
Aaron could tell, Spencer was going over the event in his mind, looking for new angles and information. Only time would tell if the ideas they’d come up with were more than just pure conjecture. For now, though they both needed to get some more sleep and allow Dave to get some shut eye as well. They had a big day tomorrow and getting the team up to speed was going to be taxing for them both.
He gave Spencer’s tense back a soft rub to bring the genius out of his swirling thoughts. The Sentinel enjoyed the feel of the lean muscles under his hand and the softness of Spencer’s thick curls on that elegant nape.
“We should get some more sleep,” Aaron ordered.
“Before we do,” Dave started. “I took my own advice from the other night and gave Garcia that research project we spoke about.”
“What research project,” Spencer said quizzical, his lanky frame coming to attention.
Aaron sighed a bit irked by Dave’s nosiness, “I told Dave about the link the other night and he suggested I ask Garcia to do some digging to try to find examples of human sensitive and sentinel bonding.”
“Oh, what did she find out?” Spencer said in excitement sitting up with all his attention focused on the elder agent.
“Let’s find out shall we,” Dave said his phone in hand already on speaker and dialing their tech analyst.
“Dave it’s one in the morning, she’ll be asleep!” Aaron hissed.
“Captain, O My Captain!” Garcia chirped obviously still awake at the early hour. “What’s up?”
“Hey, Garcia,” Dave replied with a smug look at Aaron. “Have you gotten anywhere on that research project I spoke to you about?”
“Actually I did find something,” she said. “Hold on a sec, I have to get my computer.”
They could hear Gottfried’s protest at being removed from Garcia’s lap. After a bit of shuffling and rustling, she got back on the phone, “Ok, I’m back. I haven’t found out a whole lot, but Dr. John H. Freeman of the Council for Sentinel and Guide Research is currently working on a book he’s tentatively titled, A Comprehensive History of Sentinels and Guides. And no, you probably don’t want to know how I got access to his manuscript draft and research materials.”
“Yes, Garcia,” Aaron spoke. “I should definitely not know.” Aaron had never had much success in controlling Garcia’s hacking adventures. But, since she used them for good rather than evil, what he didn’t know couldn’t come back and bite him in the ass.
“Oh! Hello sir. Is Spencer there too?” she asked.
“I’m here, Garcia,” Spencer replied.
“Good, you guys will probably need to know this,” she said. “Dr. Freeman has come across some references in the historical record about what he calls, Transcententals. Basically, humans with both empathic and telepathic gifts. The details are pretty sketchy and there is very little information about them that he’s found so far. But, what he does know is that they are extremely rare and can bond with sentinels. They are not guides in the traditional sense though, because they use telepathy in conjunction with empathy. He’s concluded that the examples of Transcendentals he’s found were individuals who were extremely intelligent. And I mean with higher I.Q.’s that your average genius, much like our good doctor.”
“Garcia, can you send me everything you have?” Spencer burst out; his excitement was skittering over Aaron’s mind. It was very pleasant—hot—and the Sentinel could feel the tightening of arousal low in his core.
“There’s a lot, Dr. Démodé. You’re going to have to use one of the team’s tablets,” she said in satisfaction. She’d been trying for more than a year to get Spencer on a computer and it finally looked like she was going to get her way. His genius was pouting a bit at the tone.
“It’s only temporary, don’t’ get use to the idea of me on one of those infernal things permanently, Garcia!” Spencer replied.
Aaron decided he needed to take control of the conversation or his genius was going to be up all night reading. He was extremely curious to look at what Dr. Freeman had uncovered as well, but the case and catching the Unsub came first.
“Garcia, compile everything for when we return,” he ordered.
Spencer turned to him in protest, “But, Hotch!”
“Spencer we need to focus on the case,” Aaron said. “That’s our priority. The data isn’t going anywhere and we also need to get some sleep tonight.”
Spencer’s frown and lips plump in a mew of disappointment smoothed in acceptance of Aaron’s words. He leaned into the Sentinel’s hand on his neck before pulling away to get off the bed.
“Also, if you wait, Garcia can have it all printed on paper for you when we get back,” Dave cut in. His smile widened at Spencer’s grin of satisfaction and Garcia’s howl of objection.
Spencer was still itching to get his hands on Freeman’s research into Transendentals, but Aaron was right, the case was more important. He was kicking himself a bit for forgetting that and Olivia Carter for even just a minute. They were going to find her, he knew. They were going to find her today; he could just feel it in his bones. The transference and the bonding had opened his mind, but he knew he had ascendancy over his telepathy and empathy now. He’d not had time to explore his abilities since his mental conversation with Aaron the night before, but for the first time ever he felt he had control over his gifts. It was at once assuring and disquieting. Spencer still didn’t know how he felt about being bonded to Aaron, though he knew that the love he felt for the Sentinel had become all encompassing since the convergence of their minds. What had been a crush, then unrequited love, and then the possibility of love returned had now morphed into an obsession. An obsession that was gentle and strong and mutual. It was lovely.
He’d woken to the ringing of Aaron’s cell phone. Spencer had been wrapped around the man’s solid body, capturing his Sentinel with lanky limbs. His morning wood once again pressed to the Aaron’s flank. Though this time, there was no embarrassment for not keeping his hard on to himself, just a bit of shyness and a knowing that Aaron enjoyed feeling his arousal. They’d both been stimulated by the contact, but lovemaking or even just a morning make out session was not an option. They had a killer to catch and a victim to save if they could.
Aaron had received the call from Garcia in the wee hours of the morning. Her searches were complete and a name had come to light. It was now six in the morning and the team had converged in the conference room with Captain Howard and Detective Cooper. There was no time to discuss the events of the night before in private with the team. They were all concerned for both Spencer and Aaron, but Spencer was radiating serenity and Aaron’s contentment was obvious. The stress lines of the Sentinel’s face were smooth; his body relaxed, tranquility broadcasting from within. Added to that, Dave’s unconcerned countenance helped to assuage the team’s worry for their unit chief and resident wunderkind. Spencer anticipated that extreme noisiness from the team and in particular from Morgan was in his future.
“Ok, my sleuthing squad, I have a name for you,” Garcia chirped entirely too chipper for the early hour. An image came up on their tablets of a blond haired blue-eyed man with a chiseled face, straight nose, and full lips. The Unsub was a very handsome man. “Fredrick Pearce Combs, thirty-five. His parents brought him into the emergency room when he was thirteen with ten needles embedded in his body. He had a massive infection from them and it was recommended he receive counseling for self-harm.”
Looking down at the tablet in his hand—he really disliked non-paper—Spencer said, “It doesn’t look like his parents followed up though.”
“Yes, his parent’s were real winners,” she replied. “There are many records of Mrs. Combs being hospitalized for injuries and calls to the police for domestic violence. She never pressed charges against her husband though.”
“That type of environment probably contributed to Combs’ need to self-harm,” Dave stated. “Was there evidence of child abuse, Garcia?”
“No, it looks like the mother got the brunt of the father’s physical abuse,” she said. “Mrs. Combs was also diagnosed at one point as having borderline personality disorder during one of her hospital visits.”
Emily flipped through her tablet’s screens, “It can be difficult for women to leave an abusive spouse, but with that disorder she may have had an extreme fear of abandonment as well.”
“Does Combs have an art background, Garcia?” Aaron asked.
“Yes, he does. He attended the U.S. Branch of the Florence Academy of Art in New Jersey,” she replied. “He studied there for three years before returning to Chesterfield.”
Spencer hated it when he didn’t know something, so attempted that Google search thingy on the tablet he’d been forced to use this morning. “Huh, we now know why he displays the bodies the way he does. The Academy teaches the realist tradition of classical methods and works of the old masters. Specifically, the curriculum is based on nineteenth century French academies.”
“The listing from the canvas of the galleries in Carrytown show he’s one of the artists featured at Authentic Art,” Morgan added as he flipped through a folder in front of him. The agent had commandeered the paper before Spencer could get his hands on it this morning. He raised a dark brow in surprise, “The gallery sold two of his paintings to our first and second victims, Janice Rowland and Peter Henderson.”
“There’s our connection,” Aaron stated. “The other victims may have come into the gallery at some point he was there. It makes sense that the first two victims would’ve let him in the house if he was delivering the paintings they purchased.”
“But we didn’t find any paintings at their residences,” Detective Cooper challenged.
“He probably took them with him as a forensic countermeasure,” J.J. replied. “He’d want to take anything that could tie him to his victims.”
“He’s definitely our guy,” Dave said in satisfaction. “Do you have an address, Garcia?”
“Yes, he’s still in his parent’s house,” she replied. “I’ve sent the address to your phones.”
Aaron stood imposing and ready for the chase, “We need to get on the road. Captain, Detective can you coordinate with your officers to follow us? It looks like the property is very isolated and if we can’t find him at the house we’ll have to conduct a search of the woods.”
“The park is 7,950 acres,” Spencer piped up. Morgan shook his head at the fact spouting and Spencer just had to give the Neanderthal a smug look in return.
Captain Howard gave Spencer a startled double take for the statistic before he nodded, “I’ll also get on the horn with Judge Love for a warrant. It’ll be approved by the time you get there.”
Spencer was holding onto the upper handle on the SUV’s door tightly. How Aaron could stand being in the suicide seat while Morgan was driving, he didn’t know. Chesterfield was a fifty-three minute drive from Richmond, though with Morgan’s driving and the sirens blaring, Spencer figured it would take them thirty to get to the Combs property. They’d agreed to turn the sirens off when they got close, hopeful they wouldn’t alert Combs to their presence.
“Garcia, are Combs parents still alive?” Spencer said leaning forward to be heard on Aaron’s phone.
“No my sweet,” she said her voice tinny over the small speaker. Garcia had them patched through to the second SUV with Emily, Dave and J.J. “They died four months ago in a car accident.”
“That was probably the stressor,” Dave voiced.
“I couldn’t say anything with the others with us this morning, but Combs is an Empath,” Spencer responded. “Eyes on the road, Morgan!” he yelped when the agent gave him a startled look over his shoulder.
Morgan turned forward again with a roll of his eyes, “Is that what was wrong last night, kid? Where you in Combs head?”
“Yes, the transference came back,” Spencer admitted. Aaron’s eyes were soft and encouraging on his, so he continued, “He can feel his victim’s pain and feelings.”
“You poor thing! That’s so creepy,” Garcia burst out.
Aaron interrupted before Garcia’s commentary could get out of hand, “Garcia, you said Combs was admitted to the hospital when he was thirteen. How long afterward did the animal killings start?”
“Hmmm… six months later and it went on for a year and a half,” she replied.
“If he’s empathic, it probably manifest when he was close to sixteen years old. The timeline suggests that the killings stopped when he was around sixteen,” Emily cut in. “Hotch, Spencer would he have been able to feel his mother’s distress when his father was abusing her?”
“Yes,” Spencer responded. “At least in my experience as a sensitive. I’d most often pick up emotions from others if they were distressed in some way. Perhaps he stopped his self-inflicted piquerism with the animals and then could stop the killing once he felt his mother’s pain? He may have been able to get his empathic satisfaction from her.”
“And since he could no longer feel his mother after her death, it makes sense that that would allow him to fully embrace his fetish,” Dave added.
“He’d have the privacy to as well,” Aaron stated.
“Well, the property is right in the middle of the animal kill zone and dumping sites,” Garcia said. “There’s a house and a barn on the property with woods close behind that lead into the park.”
“Morgan, Dave I want you to check the barn,” Aaron ordered. “The rest of us will check the house. The state troopers are setting up roadblocks throughout the area and the park rangers are on alert. If he’s not there, hopefully the net will catch him.”
Trepidation and excitement was fluttering in Spencer’s stomach. They were finally close to ending the case, catching the killer, and hopefully he would no longer have Combs invading his dreams and mind. He opened his empathy, the control he now had almost unbelievable. He could focus it; Morgan was a little pissed off and eager for the chase. The feelings from the agent were strong, but not overpowering for Spencer. Morgan was ready to confront the killer and hopeful that Olivia Carter was still alive.
Spencer closed the connection; it was so easy like turning off a phone, before he attempted to focus on Aaron. His Sentinel was calm, preparing his senses for the pursuit, gauging his abilities with the addition of the bond. He felt Spencer’s empathic caress and turned to raise a dark brow at the genius. Spencer flushed a bit for being caught, but Aaron just gave him a wink and a smile.
“It’s fine, Spencer,” he said his mind voice homey. “I like feeling you.”
Spencer felt his flush intensify with the ardor Aaron was projecting at him. The Sentinel did enjoy Spencer’s presence in his head; his contentment was gratifying to perceive. It skittered over Spencer’s mind full of heat and affection. Distracting. Addictive. He shut the connection gently with an internal shudder. He needed to be careful with these new abilities; he didn’t want to hurt his Sentinel in any way or divert his attention from the hunt. Once the case was done he had a lot of homework to do, excitement rising at the thought. A new area of study to focus on and practice… alone and with Aaron. It was going to be interesting.
The silence when the sirens turned off was jarring, pulling Spencer out of his head. The trees lining the road were close on either side, the overcast sky ominous as they neared the turnoff to the property. The drive was uneven gravel and Morgan adjusted his speed, but the SUV bouncing along the track set Spencer’s teeth on edge. An old white well maintained farmhouse with a quaint front porch came into view. It seemed so innocent, an idyllic a tableau with the red barn behind and to the side. Spencer knew it hid a horror of blood and paint within its walls.
The team quietly got out of the vehicles. Dave and Morgan moved as one with quick strides towards the barn. Aaron motioned for Spencer and Emily to move around to the back of the house, while he and J.J. headed to the front door. Spencer was light on his feet at Emily’s back as they rounded the house. The back door was centered under a smaller covered screened in porch. Spencer winched when the screen hinges creaked as Emily opened the door. He had his gun up and pointed, ready when she tried the door. It was locked, but Emily was a strong woman and Spencer positioned himself to cover her when a kick from her boot punch through the lock. They heard the front door bang open almost simultaneously. Emily and Aaron’s shouts of ‘FBI!’ were in harmony.
The scent of old wood was strong in his nose with the addition of paint and turpentine. The white wash walls were bereft of paintings though, filled with family photographs and folk art rather than the images he’d expected. The photographs showed a smiling happy family, father, mother, and son. A lie, a façade, it was disquieting. Shouts of ‘Clear’ were heard throughout the rooms; Spencer’s voice adding to the concert of the team’s steps and opening of doors. Aaron with Emily following close behind moved up the wooden staircase, the decorative wooden railing beautiful in the low light from the windows above.
The house was clear, the killer no where to be found on the first floor or the second with Aaron and Emily’s voices cascading down the stairs. Spencer found a small door under the stairs, sloped on one corner to accommodate the angle.
“J.J. over here!” he called. She was quick on her feet to cover his back as he turned the knob. The smell of blood hit his face with a wallop, causing him to almost gag in reflective horror at the stench. He swallowed the lump in his throat, his nose finally able to pick up the chemical’s indicative of oil paints and solvents. J.J. gave him a nod to precede her, her beautiful face scrunched in disgust at the smell.
The stairwell was dark, but the soft glow of lighting at the bottom was beckoning him. The wooden stairs creaked under their feet, deafening to his ears in the quiet. Spencer’s heart was pounding, J.J.’s breaths close behind an assurance he wasn’t alone. He hesitated on that bottom step before bursting out into the open, gun and eyes swinging to find a threat. There was no threat. The menace he was expecting was absent.
Olivia Carter was strapped naked to a table in the middle of the room. Spencer with J.J. close behind rushed to her, feeling her pulse and her warmth. She was still alive, but unconscious.
Relief and triumph surged through Spencer before he hollered, “Hotch! Call in the paramedics, she’s alive!”
She was in a bad way, with numerous cuts to her abdomen and thighs. The killer hadn’t finished though and in looking at the damage, Spencer realized that Combs had stopped the torture last night after Spencer was pulled from the man’s mind. None of the cuts were actively bleeding and the deathblow to the Femoral Artery hadn’t been made.
J.J. placed her coat over Olivia and Spencer registered how cold it was in the basement. The room with old stonewalls was filled with paintings of every size, mainly realistic and elegant nudes, but two large paintings took precedence along one wall. They were the paintings from his dreams of Janice Rowland and Peter Henderson. They were just as horrible and beautiful in reality as they’d been in his nightmares.
“He’s not here, Hotch,” Morgan called up the stairs, his frustration clear as he took in the room, with Dave on the stairs behind him.
“Spencer, I’ll stay with her,” J.J. said. The agent was gently stroking the victim’s blond hair, a determined light in her big blue eyes to be there if Olivia woke up.
Spencer gave J.J.’s shoulder a squeeze of support before he followed the agent’s back up the stairs. Aaron was on his phone with Emily standing near coordinating with Captain Howard to get some additional men on the property to search.
“He must’ve heard us pull up,” Dave murmured. “The barns empty too.”
Morgan growled pacing around the hallway, “Unless he wasn’t here in the first place.”
Aaron finished the call and focused on his team. Spencer could see when Aaron started working to extend his senses to determine how long Combs had been gone. The bond pulsed with the Sentinel’s power and it gave Spencer an idea that he was sure Aaron wasn’t going to like at all.
“Aaron?” Spencer said his Sentinel’s razor sharp eyes were predatory when they focused on him. “I want to try something.”
“No! It’s too dangerous, Spencer!” Aaron shouted in his head when he realized what Spencer was going to do.
“Trust me, Sentinel,” he ordered then he closed his eyes and opened his empathy searching.
“Damn it!” Aaron swore softly, before he moved to Spencer.
The Sentinel’s hands were hot on his cheeks, but the contact expanded the bond between them and in turn Spencer used it to spread his empathy far and wide beyond the farmhouse. He ignored the input of the team and the officers on the ground searching only for the darkness he knew was close. He found the black sickness of Combs mind, writhing, nasty, and hateful. Spencer deliberately pushed toward it seeking the transference for the first time.
Green and brown blurred his vision. Pounding heart, heaving breaths, running panic. Branches snapped, leaves whipped his face. Stinging.
Spencer pulled away and opened his eyes. Aaron’s eyes were glowing gold with the power of the bond, the power of Spencer’s psionic powers, the power of the Sentinel. The power of their Convergence.
With his hands on Aaron’s shoulders and the heat of the Sentinel’s palms on his cheeks, Spencer smiled, “He’s in the woods.”
The golden glow in Spencer’s eyes dissipated when they stepped away from each other and allowed the bond to settle between them again. The members of his team wore a combination of confusion, concern, and in Dave’s case satisfaction on their faces. His bonded was luminous with success and too beautiful for Aaron to find the words that would befit such a unique masterpiece that was Dr. Spencer Reid.
“Hotch!?” Morgan burst out belligerent. The agent was practically vibrating with frustration.
“Combs is in the woods,” Aaron stated. “How good is his head start, Spencer?”
Spencer closed his eyes and Aaron could again feel the expansion of his empathy. It rippled softly across his mind and he perceived for a second the distant darkness that Spencer was seeking. Combs wasn’t far.
“About a mile, heading toward Swift Creek,” Spencer answered. “He’s in a panic.”
Morgan shifted, but before the agent could ask another question Aaron cut in, “There’s no time, Morgan. We need to head out. Now!”
The team took their unit chief at his word spilling out of the house onto the back yard. Aaron held his hand out to Spencer and long fingers curled around his own. Their bond was pulsing and writhing in excitement, a controlled frenzy in his mind that allowed him to spread his senses wide. His reach farther than it had ever been before, Aaron filtered out the distractions of the sounds and scents of this team. Combs’ odor was faint, but evident. Rotten, diseased, the man’s mind sickness lined his physical essence leaving a vile tang on the back of Aaron’s tongue. His ears caught the faint sounds of Combs’ stampede through the forest. He had a direction now and the scent of his prey in his nose. Adrenaline surged through his veins. The hunt was on.
“Let’s move!” he barked out before he released Spencer’s hand and took off at a flat out sprint to the forest.
The ground was a blur under his feet, trees smears of green and brown in the periphery of his vision as the hunting charge burned through his muscles. His lungs expanding and contracting, his breaths a metronome keeping time with his feet on the ground oxygenating his blood. The intensity of his physical response had him pulling farther ahead of the team than was probably wise.
Aaron could feel Spencer’s concern as he got farther ahead, but his bonded didn’t try to deter him. The sounds of the team rushing behind him quieted as he gained ground on Combs. The man’s scent was heavy in his nose as he closed in on his prey. It muddied the course through the forest he’d taken, so he slowed his advance to determine the direction he needed to go.
There was silence, not even birdcalls or the rustling of animals to break it. Combs had stopped his rush; the killer’s smell was all around him. Aaron stilled bringing his gun up a foreboding skittering down his spine. Waiting. His eyes took in everything, sharp, seeking his quarry. The scent rushed passed him when the wind picked up to rustle the trees, his panting breaths misting in front of his face. Still waiting.
A crack was heard above him. He turned but it was too late Combs landed on his shoulders, the impact heavy and painful driving him into the forest floor. Aaron lost the grip on his gun as the darkness of Combs’ sick mind brushed passed his psyche attempting to invade his mind. The killer was unable to grab hold, the Sentinel’s mind well protected by the bond.
Their fight was raging across the forest floor, Combs’ large muscled frame an even match to Aaron’s. Pain sliced through his chest before he could get a hand around Combs’ wrist to stop the seven-inch K-bar hunting knife the man was welding from going deeper into his flesh. The Sentinel was using all of his strength to keep the weapon from slicing his throat. Combs’ ample weight and strong legs held Aaron down even as the Sentinel’s right hand closed around the killer’s throat. Squeezing the man’s neck hard didn’t deter him from pressing the knife closer before Aaron felt Combs grab and press down on his own neck in return. It was a stalemate of anger and rage, trembling limbs and painful pressure.
Fury rushed over the bond strengthening the Sentinel’s resistance.
“GET OFF HIM NOW, YOU FUCKTARD!” Spencer’s mental voice boomed as it was driven into Combs mind. The shout wasn’t painful to Aaron, but Combs eyes rolled back in his head before he became a limp weight atop the Sentinel. The knife fell harmlessly from his slack hand.
Spencer surged close pulling the man off of Aaron to dump him hard along side. He rolled Combs over and cuffed him roughly before falling to his knees alongside the Sentinel. Long fingers scrambled at Aaron’s bullet proof vest, panicked.
“Aaron! Please be alright,” he muttered, the genius’ breaths bursting from him, face white as a sheet. His eyes focused on the blood covering his Sentinel.
“Spencer!” Aaron panted before grabbing his bonded’s hands to still them. “I’m ok, easy now. Shhh… it’s not deep.”
Breaths heaving and body trembling, Spencer’s gaze darted between Aaron’s wound and the hands on his before taking in the Sentinel’s face. Aaron captured his gaze stilling him. Spencer was wrecked, anguish on his countenance for a few seconds before the reality of his Sentinel being safe and sound hit home. They were both gasping focused on each other, before Spencer let out a stifled sob and pulled Aaron up into his arms.
Aaron clutch his bonded to him hard, murmuring soothing nonsense into the ear under his cheek. It didn’t take long for Spencer to become limp in relief in the embrace, burrowing his face into the join of Aaron’s shoulder. The held each other for long moments before Aaron heard the team getting close.
“Spencer? The team’s almost here,” he said before placing a soft kiss on that lovely ear under his mouth. Spencer gave him another squeeze with his slender arms before removing himself from the nest made by Aaron’s neck that he’d crammed his face into.
“You’re ok? Really,” he asked. His eyes were soft, the love he felt for Aaron evidence in his gaze. Happiness skittered through Aaron’s mind at seeing that love.
“I’m fine, it’s just a scratch,” he replied. “Probably won’t even need stitches.”
He cupped Spencer’s face then couldn’t resist running his fingers through his bonded’s wild locks. He’d never get enough of the feel of those silky strands in his hands, he thought. Spencer leaned into the caresses relief and contentment on his face at the touch.
Aaron smiled, amused when it finally registered what Spencer had yelled in Combs’ head, “Fucktard?”
Spencer frowned at him, his cheeks grew hot under Aarons fingers and his face turned cherry red before he said, “Hush you! I love you, but I get enough teasing from Morgan.”
Cards were shuffled and passed around the table. They were headed home, the flight would be short. But, Aaron figured allowing Dave to trounce him, Morgan and Emily at Gin Rummy was a good way to pass the time after all the excitement of the preceding hours. Spencer was ignoring Morgan’s curious looks, pretending to read his book, while J.J. shared the couch with him sorting through case files she’d brought with her for the trip.
Combs had regained consciousness not long after the team came upon them. Olivia Carter’s prognosis was good, she would recover from the physical wounds and Aaron hoped the physiological ones as well. Luckily, she had her husband and children to help her in that regard. She’d told J.J. that she remembered seeing Aaron and Spencer in that bloody paint filled room before everything went black. The team had speculated that her unconsciousness had taken Combs pleasure away from the torture. He wasn’t going to get the empathic bleed of her terror or pain while she was passed out. It probably had saved her life in the end. The wait for his victim to wake up to continue the torture had allowed the team to get there in time.
Morgan was dividing his time between staring at Spencer and giving Aaron inquisitive eyebrow questions across the table. Aaron’s amusement grew as the agent’s curiosity continued to build until it exploded out of him.
“Ok! What the hell is going on with you two?” he finally burst out. The rest of the team except Dave looked up at the outburst.
“Do you want to tell them, Spencer?” Aaron asked.
Spencer glanced up briefly before returning to his book, “Not particularly.”
“Dave?” Morgan demanded.
A smirk lifted up at the corner of Rossi’s mouth, “My lips are sealed.”
“You do know he’ll just keep pestering you,” Aaron stated.
Spencer fidgeted a bit, “I know.”
“If you don’t cave, he’ll get Garcia in on it. She may even hold Gottfried hostage until you spill the beans,” he replied trying to keep from smiling and giving the game away.
Spencer’s fidgeting ratcheted up a notch, his eyes skittered away from Morgan’s, captured briefly by Emily’s inquisitive gaze before sliding back to this book. J.J.’s files were now ignored on her lap; the three of them silent and staring at their resident genius.
“Fine!” Spencer finally cracked under the pressure. “Let’s keep the telepathy bit to ourselves.”
“Agreed,” Aaron replied before giving into the grin he could no longer contain.
“Well? Come on Pretty Boy, lay it on us,” Morgan encouraged.
Spencer huffed in annoyance, “A bonding link has developed between me and Hotch.”
“But you’re not a Guide!” Emily exclaimed.
“Well no, but it’s developed anyway,” Spencer replied frowning at Morgan’s incredulous eyebrow raising.
“I thought that wasn’t possible. Hotch?” J.J. questioned.
Aaron nodded, “It shouldn’t be, but an empathic link has been between our minds since we first met. The other night, when Spencer was caught in Combs mind, it strengthened to a bonding link when I pulled him out.”
“Are you both ok?” Emily asked. Her concern mirrored in everyone else’s faces, except Dave’s.
“We’re fine guys,” Spencer said. “It’s a bit strange, but it’s helped both of us in the last few days, a lot.”
“It has,” Aaron agreed. “Bonding is something that all sentinels strive to attain in their lives. This was unexpected, but not unwelcome.”
“Yes, they’ve been dating for months anyway,” Dave stated, still perusing his cards.
“Really… ?” Morgan said a Cheshire teasing grin on his face honed in on Spencer. “What comes next, Pretty Boy? You gonna get a little somethin’ somethin’ finally?”
“Morgan… “Aaron started to scold.
Spencer turned beet red before turning his eyes back to his book. He subtly gave Morgan the middle finger when he turned a page.
Aaron was nuzzling the back of Spencer’s neck as he fumbled to get the door to his apartment unlocked. Tonight was the night and Spencer was more than ready to take his relationship with his bonded to the next level.
They’d officially been dating for two months and it had been wonderful, effortless really. The bond content between them was growing along with the use of their abilities and the added physical component to their relationship. The free time they spent together outside of work had increased, but they weren’t in each other’s pockets all of the time. Their conversations both verbal and mental were intimate. Spencer enjoyed learning more about Aaron, his family, his childhood, his interests, and how being a sentinel had affected him throughout his life. In return, Aaron’s enthusiasm in knowing everything there was to know about Spencer, from his father leaving him and his mother, to how he dealt with her illness, and his experiences both painful and good during his childhood helped assuage the feelings of isolation he’d lived with for years. He belonged to someone now. He belonged with someone now. And he’d made a place for himself in Aaron’s heart.
A thump and a demanding yowl greeted them when they finally made it through the door. Gottfried was stalking toward them from the couch insistent they drop everything to gratify him. Spencer stooped to pick up his large fluffy pain in the ass cat for a cuddle. His Sentinel just grinned and stroked the feline’s head, while Spencer nuzzled the creature.
“I’d better feed him or we’ll never have any alone time,” Spencer said. His smile grew as he received a kiss on his cheek from Aaron.
“Spoiled rotten,” Aaron stated hanging up his coat.
“We’ll he’s yours now too, Hotch,” Spencer replied as he headed to the kitchen. “You’d best get with the program now and start catering to his every whim. You’ll never get any peace otherwise.”
“I guess I’m lucky he likes me then,” Aaron said watching Spencer ready Gottfried’s dinner one handed.
Anticipation was churning in Spencer’s gut as he felt the heat of Aaron’s gaze on him. They’d had a lovely dinner out after work. Friday night, date night J.J. had teased as she headed home for her own night out with her partner. Friday night and unless a case came up unexpectedly, they had the whole weekend together. Spencer shivered at the thought before finishing up Gottfried’s meal, leaving the animal with one last stroke. His Sentinel was leaning against the opening leading into the kitchen waiting for him.
Butterflies fluttered pleasantly in his stomach when Aaron’s warm hands captured his cheeks bringing soft lips to Spencer’s. He moved in close to press his lanky form fully against his bonded wrapping his arms around broad shoulders. He’d learned a lot about kissing over the last two months and teased the Sentinel with the tip of his tongue coaxing those lips to open and deepen the kiss. Aaron tasted so good, a hint of the scotch he’d had with his dinner still on his tongue. The bond pulsed between them causing Spencer to shudder as his arousal grew.
The kiss became mindless, hard and hot. Pleasure spiked along Spencer’s sensitive nape as Aaron’s hand tugged him by his hair to open his mouth further. They clutch each other, hands roaming over backs pressing their cocks together. Spencer threw his head back releasing the kiss to grab some much needed air, the pleasure in his groin spiking at the feel of his Sentinel’s hardness against his own. A groaning squeak escaped when Aaron licked and nibbled at the flesh of this throat.
Panting toward the ceiling Spencer gasped, “Can we move this to the bedroom?”
One last nip was felt under his ear before Aaron pulled back to look into his eyes. The Sentinel’s gaze was keen as he searched Spencer’s visage. He could only imagine what Aaron was seeing that cause the Sentinel’s grip to tighten before placing a chaste kiss on his lips.
“I’d love to,” he rumbled against Spencer’s mouth. His cock throbbed when Aaron’s teeth gently worried the soft flesh of his lower lip a bit.
Spencer pulled back and took Aaron’s hand to lead him to the bedroom.
“We definitely need to get naked,” he said. “I don’t want to come in my pants again.”
Aaron snorted out a laugh at Spencer’s short critique of last Friday’s date night. What had started out as a heavy make out session on the couch had morphed into a shirtless frottage and both of them coming in their trousers. It had been a satisfying evening, but Spencer didn’t want a repeat tonight.
Spencer removed his coat and scarf carelessly leaving them on the floor while Aaron gently removed Gottfried from the middle of the bed, interrupting the cat’s post dinner wash. The feline wasn’t pleased about it and stalked out of the room in a huff.
His Sentinel was glowing in the low light of the bedside lamps as he held his hand out to Spencer. So handsome, Spencer thought taking Aaron’s hand. The man was beautiful with his dark hair, eyes, and sharp cheek bones and he was Spencer’s. They stood close foreheads pressed together, hands caressing each other’s fingers. Spencer nuzzled Aaron’s face a bit before placing another kiss on his bonded’s lips. Their fingers untangled as one to address the need that had been steadily rising within since before they’d bonded.
Their breaths were quiet and deep in the hushed silence, shirt buttons slipping holes mere whispers in Spencer’s ears. He tugged Aaron’s tie open and off and felt the same being done to him. Aaron’s shirt parted under his clever fingers and the Sentinel shuddered when Spencer splayed his hands over that broad chest. The skin satin smooth over hard muscles under his fingers. He pushed Aaron’s suit jacket and shirt off stroking his palms over sinewy shoulders and arms.
“Gorgeous,” Spencer thought.
“Yes, you are,” Aaron replied making Spencer blush for having pushed the unconscious thought into the Sentinel’s head.
Aaron brought Spencer in close taking his mouth again as the passion built between them. The rub of his nipples against the down of soft hair on Aaron’s chest caused the nubs to tighten sending an electric streak down that added to the throbbing in his groin. It finally registered that he was as shirtless as his Sentinel. Spencer deepened the kiss his tongue playing with Aaron’s and wrapped his arms around the strong back under his hands. The feel of large hot hands swooping down his back was decadent; it made him feel wanton and desperate.
Aaron growled in response to Spencer’s desperation flowing through the bond. His mouth was ravished as the Sentinel’s hands gripped his behind and lifted him onto the bed. He clutch hard at Aaron’s shoulders the weight of his bonded was heavenly between his thighs. Their cocks kissed through their slacks and Spencer ached to feel Aaron’s bare against his own. Aaron pulled his lips away and the glow of the bond was in his eyes as he gazed at Spencer’s face below.
“I’ve never wanted anyone as much as I want you,” he whispered. Spencer’s breath caught in his chest at the words. His Sentinel was powerful, worldly, and magnificent. He was so lucky that Aaron was his.
“I love you,” he said, his hands on Aaron’s face.
Happiness burst over the bond at the words and Aaron’s smile was radiant as he returned the words in Spencer’s head, “I love you too, more than anyone or anything, Spencer.”
Spencer reached up to kiss his Sentinel again, sealing the words between them and the need to consummate their bond heightened. Aaron released his lips to sit back on his knees. Spencer felt exposed, but not embarrassed under the admiring gaze. Aaron’s palms smoothed down Spencer’s torso and he took in a deep breath when his Sentinel’s fingers released his cock from his trousers. Spencer couldn’t help the undulation of his hips when those fingers played with the sensitive head of his prick. The nerve endings firing, sending a blaze of heat shooting down to the root making his body clench in pleasure.
“Oh god!” he said faintly and had to close his eyes to gain some control. He didn’t want to come too soon.
His eyes popped open when he felt Aaron softly kiss and nuzzle his belly button. The Sentinel was taking in his scent a purring rumble of pleasure emitted as Aaron rubbed his lips and cheeks against Spencer’s belly. His trousers were skimmed down his thighs and Aaron smiled at Spencer’s mismatched socks when he removed his shoes. He was naked and splayed. The heat in Aaron’s golden gaze caused his nipples and cock to tingle. It was a vulnerable position, but Spencer stretched feeling sensual and powerful under that stare.
“You’re so pretty,” Aaron murmured. Spencer felt a flush shoot down his chest at the statement.
“I’m not!” he protested. Then ordered, “Get naked,”
Aaron gave his upraised knee a quick kiss before getting off the bed to finish disrobing. Spencer couldn’t help but watch avidly, anticipation surging within him as he admired his Sentinel’s physique. He was broad, tall, and with just the right amount of muscle definition. Aaron could’ve been a model he was so well put together. Spencer scrambled in his bedside drawer for a moment to pull out a bottle of lube as Aaron skimmed out of his black boxer briefs. His cock was flush against his belly, the pre-cum beaded on the head made Spencer’s mouth water wondering what it would taste like. Aaron’s dick was sizable and Spencer could hardly wait to feel it inside him. It was much better in reality than his fantasies.
Aaron placed a knee back on the bed before saying, “Do you have condoms?”
Spencer sat up and pulled Aaron down on top of him, gasping at the feel of all of that skin against his own.
“Do we really need them?” Spencer asked kissing Aaron’s neck, feeling his hair being nuzzled.
“I haven’t been with anyone in a long time,” Aaron said. “I’ve always practiced safe sex and I was tested a few months ago. I’m clean.”
“Well, I’ve never had sex, so we shouldn’t need them,” Spencer stated.
“I suppose you’re right,” Aaron replied his voice low with arousal.
He nodded and gave Aaron’s tasty neck a lick before he said, “Of course I’m right. I’m a genius.”
Aaron chuckled before pulling Spencer back in for another kiss. The kissing added to the feel of Aaron’s body on his, their cock rubbing together bare and slick ratcheted Spencer’s want to the point it became almost intolerable. Their heaving breaths and muffled groans broke the silence between them. Spencer enjoyed the feel of Aaron’s muscled back under his palms before smoothing hands down the soft skin of it to explore and grip his firm buttocks. Soft grunts were escaping him into Aaron’s mouth as he writhed and wrapped his legs tight around the Sentinel’s flanks. His lips were released and his head tipped back by Aaron’s clenching fingers in his curls.
Whimpering gasps escaped him and he shut his eyes tight as a hot mouth licked and suckled down his neck. His hands lost their grip on that firm behind as Aaron slowly traveled down Spencer’s body, tasting and scenting him everywhere he could reach. The pleasure of it was intense and Spencer could do nothing but enjoy the sensations of Aaron’s mouth and hands on his skin. A satisfied sound burst out of the Sentinel when he explored Spencer’s musky armpit for long minutes. It tickled, but the fingers plucking at his nipples distracted him from flinching away from the sensation. Aaron moved away nuzzling across Spencer’s chest. A hot mouth moving on one nipple and then the other sent streaks of fire down into his loins causing him to hump up into the body above seeking friction for his neglected cock.
His hands found a home in Aaron’s dark hair as the Sentinel continued his journey down Spencer’s torso. His belly button got special attention again before Aaron eased his shoulders between Spencer’s open thighs. It was erotic to see that dark head between his legs, his bonded taking in the scent of his sexual core with obvious enjoyment.
“Oh, fuck,” he whispered when Aaron parted his legs further to lean into scent the sensitive creases of this thighs.
His hands clenched in the bedspread before Aaron skimmed his own around to grip Spencer’s tight, the bond was writhing between them and the lust his Sentinel was feeling for him washed over Spencer’s mind. Aaron kept his gaze captured as his mouth lowered to taste Spencer’s cock. He arch up mindless at the feeling of Aaron licking a warm wet strip up his prick causing a clench in his thighs as that tongue swirled around the sensitive head.
“Stop!” Spencer keened panting hard for control as the crest of orgasm threatened to surge.
“Spencer?” Aaron said softly squeezing his hand, glowing eyes concerned.
“I’m fine,” he replied, his voice shaky trying to get his breath back. “It’s wonderful, you’re wonderful. I just don’t want to come yet.”
His Sentinel smiled softly before kissing the sensitive skin of his inner thigh.
“That’s not helping you know,” Spencer frowned.
Aaron’s smile turned into a grin not at all repentant when he replied, “Sorry.” Then he added, “I had a little zone there for a moment. Trying not to wallow in your taste and smell, the feel of you is difficult Spencer. I’ve wanted you for a long time.”
“Well, I’ve wanted you for awhile as well,” he said before he waved a hand weakly. “That’s not really the best place for you to be to have a conversation you know.”
Aaron gave the hand still in his grasp a squeeze again, laughing as he sat up and leaned over to peck a kiss on Spencer’s lips. He just frowned in irritation at his Sentinel for teasing him. He was too aroused to be embarrassed thankfully. Aaron picked up his left hand again and places sweet kisses on his knuckles allowing Spencer to settle down.
His Sentinel’s gaze was affectionate while he waited sitting between Spencer’s legs.
“What do you want, Spencer?” he asked. “You can have me if you like.”
Spencer had to grab the base of his cock to keep from coming at the words.
“Damn it, that’s not helping either, Hotch!” he scolded, which only caused Aaron’s smile to widen. “We are going to try everything, but for this first time I want you in me. I want to come with you in me.”
The words caused the Sentinel to grip his hand tight and a possessive rumbling to reverberate throughout the room.
“That wiped the smile off your face,” Spencer said in satisfaction.
Aaron gave Spencer’s fingers a nip in punishment before kissing the palm of his hand. He pulled Spencer up to take his lips again in a heated kiss. Spencer gave himself over to it, wrapping both his arms and legs around the strong body of his Sentinel. Their bond was thrumming between them and Spencer could feel Aaron’s pleasure in being surrounded by his body. The emotions fed his own bliss in having this strong man under his hands. The need to increase Aaron’s enjoyment and assuage his own curiosity urged Spencer to get over his lingering shyness and grasp the Sentinel’s cock in his hand.
Spencer took Aaron’s gasp into his mouth when his long fingers wrapped around the hot flesh. Soft skin over steel was the analogy that popped into Spencer’s head for a second before it was gone. He pulled back to from the kiss to look down, Aaron feathering his lips over Spencer’s brow. Their cocks looked good together, the pre-cum beading the heads glistening. He took some of that slick off Aaron’s cock to taste, salty musk burst over his taste buds, pleasant, but sharp. Aaron’s hands gripped his buttocks tight, pulling their groins together with a groan.
“Spencer, you keep doing that, it’ll be all over,” he muttered as he ran this lips down Spencer’s neck to give him a sharp nip to the join of his shoulder. The slight pain resonated in a throb at the base of his cock.
Aaron urged him to lie back on the bed again. The Sentinel’s hands bands of heat as he petted Spencer’s torso one last time before reaching for the lube. Spencer was so inflamed with ardor and love, he could only watch, eyes half-lidded as Aaron coated his fingers with the slick. Aaron kissed his knee again before sliding cool wet fingers down his perineum to his hole. Spencer reached up to cup the Sentinel’s jaw enjoying the feel of his five-o-clock shadow when a finger gently breached him for the first time. It burned slightly, but Aaron moved slow allowing Spencer to breath and get use to the sensation.
“You’re so beautiful… Guide,” Aaron said.
Spencer’s breath caught in his throat at the formal word. Before he could respond though, his Sentinel crooked the finger causing a flash of pleasure so intense to shoot through his groin that Spencer’s eyes almost rolled back in his head. Aaron did it a second time and a third producing a shout that burst out of Spencer toward the ceiling.
His cock throbbing, splayed wide over Aaron’s thighs, panting and limp. Spencer asked through his panting, “Huh… prostate, I take it?”
“Yep, it is,” Aaron confirmed his eyes hot on Spencer before he brushed passed that spot again making the genius writhe.
A second finger registered, but the discomfort was minimal with Aaron targeting the place inside that made him see stars. By the time Aaron had three fingers in him, Spencer was clutching the pillow under his head his body arching with every deep thrust.
“Enough! I love it!” he cried. “I can’t take it any more!”
“Oh, thank god,” Aaron said with a nip to Spencer’s inner thigh.
Fingers removed, Spencer relaxed and watched the erotic sight of Aaron slicking up his cock. It was going to feel so good, he thought letting go of the pillow and reaching out his arms to his Sentinel. He felt the blunt head of Aaron’s prick at his entrance, that beautiful body blanketing his. He took his Sentinel’s lips in a passionate kiss while his hands gravitated to his lover’s solid behind to encourage him to thrust. They groaned together when Aaron made it past the rim of his opening. It was tight and hurt a little, but the fullness, the heat and the hardness in him was divine.
Aaron kept up his slow shallow thrusts until he was fully seated within Spencer. The bond fluttering in satisfaction between them and Aaron’s eyes glowed brighter luminous as he gazed down at Spencer’s face. He wondered if his own eyes were glowing for a second before the pleasure of the pressure in his loins distracted him from the thought.
Spencer kept his eyes on Aaron’s, watching as his lover began to thrust. His hands gripped Aaron’s back and buttocks tight clenching as his inner walls clenched for every pass of his Sentinel’s cock over that pleasure spot. The experience was intense and Spencer couldn’t keep his eyes open for long wallowing in the feelings of having Aaron inside him. The pressure built radiating outward from the inside to the tip of his cock. Aaron had buried his face in Spencer’s neck, his lover’s panting breath musical in his ears.
Spencer’s eyes fluttered open and he saw that the bond was now encasing their bodies, glowing and writhing an accompaniment to the lust and love they felt for each other. Tension built within him causing him to gasp and clutch Aaron tighter, meeting the thrusts that were now driving hard into him. Aaron pulled his head back to ravish his mouth. He then reached down between them to grasp Spencer’s cock pumping it in time with his thrusts. Spencer’s release crested pounding through him, a sobbing gasp erupted from this throat as his body arched up into Aaron’s. He came all over their bellies, his muscles clenched tight around Aaron inside and out. Aaron plowed into him. Powerful, howling his release in Spencer’s neck.
A yowl and the morning light that crept between the wooden blinds in his bedroom started the slow rise of wakefulness to seep across Spencer’s consciousness. The bond was a contented hum in the back of his mind. Aaron was a living space heater along his back and thighs. His Sentinel’s lovely morning wood nestled between his slight buttocks. He wasn’t ready to wake up yet, but Gottfried was standing on him yowling in his ear.
He felt Aaron nuzzle beneath his curls where a soft kiss was placed on his nape, “Sleep, I’ll take care of the beast.”
Spencer smiled and obeyed the order, drifting off softly as the menace on his shoulder was removed.
Sometime later he drifted between the waking and the dream world until the scent of coffee and bacon teasing his nose rebooted his brain enough to realize he was ravenous. A groan escaped as he sat up, his muscles sore and his nether regions quite sensitive from his first foray into lovemaking. It was worth the pain, he decided. The experience had been transformative, being with Aaron in that way. He brightened as he realized he had the whole weekend to explore and learn more about his sexuality and Aaron’s.
He rifled through a drawer for a pair of sleep pants and soft t-shirt so he was decent by the time he made it to the kitchen. Aaron was in front of the stove, a cup of coffee in hand with Gottfried at his feet hoping for bacon. He had on only his boxer briefs and his button down shirt that was unbuttoned to Spencer’s satisfaction showing off his Sentinel’s lovely pecs and abs to his gaze.
Aaron turned with a smile, “Good morning.”
“You look good in my kitchen,” Spencer blurted. “Do you want to move in with me?”
Horrified, Spencer slapped his hands over his face. Then proceeded to castigate himself, because as usual his brain to mouth filter was on the fritz. He didn’t even know Aaron had approached him until his Sentinel’s hands grasped his wrists to remove Spencer’s hands from his face.
Amusement, happiness, and serenity rippled over Spencer’s mind. Aaron’s eyes were glowing again he noted before the Sentinel took his lips in a soft kiss.
“I’d love to,” he murmured.
“Really?” Spencer asked surprised.
He just shook his head in wonder, “Spencer, I’ve been in love with you for ages. Of course I want to live with you. You’re my bonded and my heart.”
“Oh! Ok, great,” Spencer babbled. “I love you to. You like my place ok?”
Aaron smiled before heading back to the stove, “I do like your place. Besides I have less junk to move than you do.”
“Junk! My collectables and books are not junk!” he protested, but couldn’t help but smile at their banter.
“Ok, they’re not junk. Now grab your cat out from under my feet and sit at the table while I make breakfast,” Aaron ordered.
Spencer walked over to the stove and gave Aaron a hug and a kiss before he moved to do as his Sentinel ordered. Gottfried was not pleased about it.
Sitting at the table with his fat cat in his arms, Spencer watch his Sentinel make him breakfast. He didn’t know why his mind sought out the darkness that was within those who killed. He didn’t know how he could be a Guide to Aaron or bonded for that matter. Even with Freeman’s research, he didn’t know what his telepathy could fully do yet. But he did know he was in love and loved in return and together they would find the answer.
Part One: Transference
Part Three: Divergence
A/N: The characters and universe of CBS’s Criminal Minds are not mine, no copyright infringement is intended and no money is made from this fan work.