No one thought anything of it when Hotch's cellphone rang. The rest of the BAU team was huddled in a corner of the office, discussing their options. The case was getting more puzzling every second; with every apparent breakthrough came another setback. Gideon let out an exasperated breath and almost said something insulting to the only person who didn't look as frazzled as he felt—Elle. Nothing but calm ever showed on her perfect face. It was infinitely annoying; but the retort died on his lips as he turned around and caught sight of Hotch's face. It was bloodless, and his hand was shaking on the phone. He steadied it, though, when he saw the entire team staring at him.
"Are you sure it's her?" Everyone stared harder as Hotch rattled off his license plate number and a thorough description of Haley. The vague spark of hope in his eyes died and he mumbled a quiet "thank you, I'll be right there" as he closed the phone and leaned heavily on the desk. No one said anything for a moment, and then Gideon surreptitiously moved the others towards the door. He closed it behind them and waited. Hotch kept his gaze on the view from the office window as he forced the words out. "Haley was taking the baby for his checkup. There was...an accident." He swallowed hard and tried again. "He's fine; he was in the back, strapped into the car seat. They're taking care of him in the ICU." Gideon moved closer, tentatively resting a hand on Hotch's back. The touch forced a harsh sob out of him, and he whispered: "Haley didn't...they couldn't..." After a few moments he seemed to draw strength from the arm now wrapped around his shoulders, and he straightened up. "I have to get to the hospital," he said in such a firm voice that Gideon was visibly shocked.
"I'll drive you," he insisted in a tone that was almost daring Hotch to try and argue with him. "And then you and your son are coming to stay with me." An odd combination of anger, shame and gratitude crossed Hotch's face.
"I don't need a babysitter," he said shortly.
"No," Gideon agreed. "But I'm not leaving you alone in your house. Let's go."
When they got to the hospital, Gideon headed for the ICU and sent Hotch to find the doctors who had attempted surgery on Haley. Hotch needed to say goodbye; as one-sided as the conversation would be, Gideon knew from experience that without closure, the healing would be a much harder and much longer process. Not that it was on the horizon at this point, anyway. But that wasn't the issue; his objective for the rest of the day was to first take care of a little baby, and then the baby's father. 'Hotch might not need a babysitter,' Gideon thought, 'but he needs someone to keep him from sleeping in that suit.' The nurses handed the child over to him on the strength of his FBI badge, as long as he didn't go anywhere, so he rocked the baby and waited for Hotch.
"Gideon." His voice was tired, drained, and there were tear-tracks on his face, but he looked brighter when he caught sight of his son asleep in Gideon's arms.
Gideon smiled slightly. "Kid's just like you; he catches his Zs where he can." Hotch's face fell.
"We should, um, go by the house and pick up his stuff." It was quite plain that there were few things that Hotch less wanted to do.
"Don't worry about it," was Gideon's swift reply. "We'll go back to my place, and you and he can get comfortable while I go grab your things."
Hotch's soft smile was hesitant. "But how will you know what to bring?"
"I think I know the difference between the personal effects of a man, a woman and a baby," Gideon said gently. Nevertheless, a flash of pain scorched across Hotch's face for a moment.
His voice shook as he begged, "please, just leave..."
"Leave her things alone," Gideon finished for him. "Don't worry."