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17 October 2013 @ 09:32 pm
Fic Post: Battle Wounds  
Title: Battle Wounds
Author: Montiese
Category: Drama/Family/Romance
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Beth Clemmons, Jack Hotchner
Pairing: Hotch/Beth
Rating: TEEN
Summary: “The four year anniversary is coming up.” She turned to look at him. “You can pretend you don’t know what I'm talking about but you do. We don’t have to talk about it.”
Author’s Note: This is #40 in the Starting Over series. It’s been over 5 months since I've written this ship and was glad to hear from them again. While I’m not thrilled with the storyline coming in episode 9x05, revisiting Haley and Foyet, I thought it would be really interesting if Hotch was having pains, problems, and not wanting to burden anyone else with the issue. I like the idea of focusing on his relationship with Beth and the future, not going back to the past.


“Are you alright?” Beth walked out of the bedroom.

“I'm fine.” Hotch’s hands were pressed against the counter. She’d startled him and he did a bad job pretending she hadn’t.

“You don’t look fine, Aaron.”

“I'm fine.”

“Why aren't you telling me what's going on?” she asked.

“Nothing’s going on.” He shook his head.

“You think I haven’t noticed that you’ve been experiencing discomfort all day? Turn around and look at me please.”

Hotch sighed, doing what she asked. The pain was intense at the moment but he did his best not to let it show. It came in waves. He could be fine for hours and then doubled over in pain for 15 minutes. It was just stress; it was always stress. Things were finally beginning to settle down. He hoped whatever this was would too.

“You’re sweating.”

“It’s a little warm in here. The weather has been so up and down. I don’t know whether to turn on the heat or air.”

“Come over here, Aaron; let me check you out.”

“Are you going to see if my glands are swollen?” he asked, trying to lighten the mood.

Beth walked over to him, ignoring his attempt at humor. She put the back of her hand on his forehead, his cheek, and then his neck. He was clammy. When she touched his stomach, he flinched.

“Did something happen at work?” she asked. “Were you injured in the field?”

“No.” he shook his head.

“Let me see your stomach?”

“You wanna get freaky, Miss Clemmons.”

“Aaron, this isn’t funny!” Beth didn’t want to shout but couldn’t help herself.

The truth was that she was angry he was hurt and attempting to hide it. How far had they come over the past couple of years to fall back like this? Something was wrong and Beth wanted to know what. He could keep the jokes to himself.

She gingerly lifted the shirt and looked at his skin. There was nothing there. Well the scars were there; they would always be there. They didn’t look red or inflamed. She touched them again and he flinched again.

“Have you had problems urinating or defecating?” she asked.

“Are you serious?” he raised an eyebrow.

“Just please answer the question.”

“Not really; not that I remember.”

“Has there been any abnormal bleeding? Have you coughed up any blood recently?”

“No, Beth; where are these questions coming from?”

“Something is wrong and you're trying to hide it from me. It could be your appendix, kidneys, gall bladder or anything. Ignoring the symptoms could put you in the hospital or worse. I don’t plan to let that happen.”

“Maybe I don’t want you to think I'm crazy.” Hotch leaned on the counter again.

“Why would I think that?” she asked. Beth grabbed a paper towel from the wall fixture and wet it with cold water from the tap. Taking Hotch’s hand, she led him over to the table and they sat down. She wiped it across his clammy brow and he sighed.

“I might be having phantom pains.”

“From your stab wounds?”

“Possibly.” He nodded. “I don’t know. The pain fluctuates in intensity and sometimes it’s not even there. I've been so stressed at work. I didn’t get the Section Chief job but I did a lot of that work all summer long and into the fall. When I'm stressed the pains are worse.”

“You need to call your doctor. It could be something serious and you have to find out. Maybe you already know and don’t want to face it. You don’t have to face it alone.”

“You're not even here.”

He hadn’t meant to sound so peeved when he said it. He missed her. They were still long distance and he was still invested in the relationship. Hotch wasn’t leaving Beth; he loved her. Even if she lived in DC full time it still wouldn’t be perfect.

There was no such thing as perfect. Hotch would never delude himself about that again. He still traveled most of the time for his work. But the distance was taking its toll. He needed her and she wasn’t there. Surely she felt the same, spending nights alone in New York.

“Alright, clearly you don’t want to talk about this. I haven’t seen you in three weeks so the last thing I want is an argument. I need to get ready for bed…it was a long day.” Beth stood from the chair. “Come in when you're ready.”

“Beth, I'm sorry.” He said as she walked away. “I didn’t mean to snap at you. I'm sorry, I'm just…”

“The four year anniversary is coming up.” She turned to look at him. “You can pretend you don’t know what I'm talking about but you do. We don’t have to talk about it.”

“You always say that.”

“What else can I say?” Beth shrugged. “You suffered a horrible trauma and that never goes away. It dulls in time; you find other things to fill the holes inside of you. You don’t need to relive it all the time so I won't feel some imagined slight.

“But you're an intelligent man, Aaron Hotchner. Possible phantom pains from stab wounds inflicted by the man who murdered your wife is a serious issue.” She lowered her voice when she said it. Jack was sound asleep but Beth didn’t want to risk him hearing accidentally.

“I’ll call my doctor on Monday morning.” Hotch conceded.

He knew he should have nearly two months ago when the pains began. His first thought wasn’t psychological but if it was something physical he’d surely be dead by now. Ignoring it never helped the problem. Hotch always emphasized with Jack to share his thoughts and concerns, even the tough ones. He told him that he would always listen and so would other adults who loved him. Only a hypocrite couldn’t take his own advice.

“Alright. Come to bed when you're ready.”

“Are we…are we going to get through this? I know you're angry at me, I mean I think you're angry. I don’t want you to be angry. I'm doing the best I can and sometimes it just feels like it’s never enough. I'm sorry.”

His voice sounded tentative when he spoke. Beth hadn’t heard that tone in a long time. That was the tone of the man who asked her out on their first date. That was the tone of an unsure man. She went and wrapped her arms around him.

“I love you.” She mumbled into his chest. “I'm not going to stop doing that because you have more hurdles to climb. I won't stop because you sometimes suffer from stubborn man-itis. There will always be something, Aaron. I'm holding out my hand; I want you to grab it. Letting go is not my intent. I promise.”

“I just don’t want you to walk out on me. People who were supposed to be there gave up after a while.” He held her tight. “Maybe some of that was my fault but it still hurt like hell. Sometimes I worry that it’s going to be too much for you.”

“It’s not.” Beth looked up at him. She smiled when Aaron kissed her. “In two years, it hasn’t been. I'm a big girl and can handle it. You just can't expect me to give my all if you're going to give much less than that. We both have to be in this.”

“I love you too, Beth. As soon as we get the living arrangements settled, I'm going to marry you.”

“You mean as soon as I come back to DC, because I couldn’t drag you away from this job with a choke chain. Come to bed with me. Maybe a little massage oil and a soft touch will help you sleep tonight. You didn’t do so well last night.”

“You deserve some TLC as well.” Hotch kept his arms around her as they moved toward the bedroom.

“You're going to give me some Agent Hotchner. As long as you feel up to it that is.”

“Now that you mention it,” he kissed her temple. “I feel a second wind coming on right now.”

“I just bet you do.” Beth pushed up the door but didn’t close it.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Hotch stood in the middle of the floor just holding her.

There was more to say; there was always more to say. Almost two years later and he still struggled to articulate his emotions. Just because Beth understood didn’t mean that Hotch shouldn’t say it. Everyone deserved to know how much they meant to someone.

Beth caressed his face. She lifted the Fordham University shirt over Hotch’s head and threw it into the hamper. Then she walked with him to the bed. Before they hit the mattress, Beth’s tee shirt was on the floor. She was just as naked on top as he was, Hotch forgot about the massage and focused on her.

He pressed his body against hers, relishing the feeling of her breasts on his chest. When she ran her hands up his back and over his shoulder blades, Hotch moaned. Then he growled and nuzzled her neck. That made Beth moan. She sucked his finger between her lips and Hotch gasped, gripping her hip tighter with his other hand.

“Tell me what else you want in my mouth, Hotchner.” She whispered in his ear.

“Is this you being brazen?” he asked.

“You ain't seen nothing yet.”

“Beth?”

Jack knocked on the bedroom door and then poked his head in. His eyes were half-covered. He knew his dad and Beth liked to kiss a lot after he went to bed. Jack was happy they were in love but didn’t really want to see that part.

“What's the matter, sweetheart?” she asked, sitting up in bed. Hotch was still covering her so that Jack wouldn’t see she was topless. Beth thought that might be difficult since he was looking with half an eye.

“My stomach hurts.”

“OK, I'm coming right in. You go back to bed and I'm coming right in.”

“OK.”

Without another word, he turned and left the room. His father just looked as he walked away.

“Goodnight, Jack.” He said smiling.

“I need my shirt.” Beth said.

“Right.” Hotch leaned over to the floor and picked it up. She climbed out of bed and put it on at the same time. Seeing her in mom mode filled his heart and belly with something good. Beth loving Jack could never be denied. He didn’t just need a mother, he wanted one.

He wanted Beth. It seemed as if the Hotchner men were on the same page where that was concerned. Hotch dealt with all kinds of feelings when it came to his son and the woman he loved. Beth just jumped right in with both feet and Jack did as well. They were a family now, despite it all. “There’s Pepto in the medicine cabinet.”

“Great.” She leaned to kiss him. “I’ll be back…don’t cool off.”

“We’re not really in danger of that happening.”

Beth grinned, walking out of the bedroom and into the bathroom. When she got to Jack’s room he was propped up on his pillows.

“Is it icky tummy ache or something else?” she asked, sitting down on the bed with him.

“Icky tummy ache.” Jack replied.

“I think someone had too many gummy bears with Uncle Sam and Mickey today.” Beth rubbed his belly. “It’s time for some Pepto.”

“Do I have to?” Jack made a face.

“It'll make you feel so much better and then you can sleep again.”

“Sorry I interrupted the kissing.”

“Let me tell you something Jackasaurus Rex,” Beth poured the pink liquid into the little cup. “Your dad and I can kiss anytime. Taking care of you is our top priority. We can get back to the kissing later.”

“But you don’t get to do it so much because you live far away.” Jack reasoned.

“I know, bud. Drink this.”

Jack wasn’t happy but he drank it down. Beth tried to keep from laughing when she saw the face he made. Pepto wasn’t her favorite by a long shot. Aaron was right though, it did the job. Jack would be back to sweet dreams in no time.

“When are you going to come and live with us, Beth? I know New York is super awesome but we miss you. You're supposed to marry Dad.”

“I will marry Dad, Jack, and come to live with you guys. I love you both so much, even more than New York. Though I have to admit its super awesome; you're right about that. C'mon, time to try and get back to sleep.”

She lay his pillows flat and Jack pulled the blankets up to his chin. Beth kissed one cheek then the other. Jack laughed when she started kissing all over his face.

“If you still don’t feel well c'mon in and sleep with me and Dad.”

“OK.” He nodded. “Goodnight Beth; I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Hotch was lying in bed, one hand behind his head with his eyes closed. Beth climbed in beside him and kissed his cheek.

“I guess you cooled off.” She said.

“Kind of falling asleep isn’t quite the same thing.” He mumbled, eyes still closed. “We’ll get up early and see where the morning takes us.”

“Oh no we won't, Aaron Hotchner. It’s Saturday and I haven’t slept in for weeks. You're going to have to ravage my body some other time.”

“Shower sex.”

“Mmm, when?” she asked.

“Sunday morning…we’ll hang a little Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I’ll make sure Jack has everything he needs for breakfast.”

“He apologized for interrupting our kissing tonight.” Beth said.

“Did he really?” Hotch opened one eye. “Do you think you could take your shirt off again?”

“Quid pro quo.”

They took their tee shirts off at the same time, keeping them close in case Jack woke up again. Lying together was always amazing but skin to skin was the best. Someday this feeling would be his every night again. He had no idea what he’d done to deserve it.

“So he apologized?”

“Mmm hmm.” Beth reached up to turn off the lamp. “I told him that we enjoy our kissing but we enjoy taking care of him more.”

“Excellent answer.” He smiled. “You're a good mother to him, Beth.”

“I don’t want to knock your game; it’s grown in quality over the years. But nothing you ever say can make me happier than that just did.”

“Good,” he kissed her forehead. “I love you.”

“Are you feeling better?” she asked.

“I am.”

“You're still going to call the doctor on Monday morning.”

“Tuesday morning…Monday is a holiday.”

“Fine, Tuesday morning then.”

“I am.” He nodded.

“I love you too, Aaron. Goodnight.”

She snuggled close to him, feeling some of the weight come off her shoulders. It was both a busy and fun day but now it was good to relax. Beth just wanted to sleep in tomorrow; sleep in Aaron’s arms. She wanted to do that every night. Their time would come though there were still things to work out.

This was where she wanted to be. He was the person she wanted. The challenges, the fears, and the distance only brought them closer. They both worked hard for and in this relationship. Beth knew that Aaron was just as eager to enjoy the rewards as she was.

***

 
 
Where am I?: the lair
Feelings: thoughtfulthoughtful
Background Noise: silence
 
 
 
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