I don't own Criminal minds, just taking the characters and the stories out for a spin. Built as a chapter add on to dreamgoddess92's world of Family Dynamics.

Chapter 1- Home sweet home

Aaron Hotchner felt a great deal of pride as he dramatically placed a plate of pancakes infront of his son. Sure, they weren't exactly round in shape and it was six o'clock in the evening but the way his son dug into them with gusto was enough to make him feel ten feet tall. It was days like this, he thought he could actually do this parenting job. He leaned over and gently ruffled the small boy's hair who was busy chewing his dinner enthusiastically. He had been a little late from picking Jack up from Haley's sister and the boy began asking what he had cooked for dinner even before they had reached half way home. Panicked, SSA Aaron Hotchner had made a beeline for the kitchen hoping against hope that there was a forgotten can of soup or something readily available.

'Don't you wont 'ne , Fafdy?' he asked inarticulately around a mouthful of pancake and fruit.

'No son, I am having these vegetables' Aaron indicating his own microwaved dinner with his fork.

Of course Jack scrunched his nose in disgust and went back to his much more tasty meal.

The Hotchners were not a pancake family but after Jack had the breakfast dessert at Dave's house, Aaron had made a mental note to pick up a box. Of course that would be whenever he had worked up the nerve to walk down the same supermarket aisles he and his late wife once did. As he cut his potato, he wondered who he had to thank for his well stocked pantry cupboard.

'Probably Emily', he said to himself.

With no one but his uncritical son in sight, Aaron let his posture sag a bit as he thought about the young profiler. His smile began to grow as her beautiful face appeared in his mind. He wondered what she was doing right now. It had been a long day of paper work for the entire team made even longer by her absence today. She had called in sick with the flu and there was a flurry of emails sent by the team in a 'reply all' fashion urging her to drink lots of fluids and get some rest. He had felt like the lowest of the low when he had found out she was ill, immediately blaming himself. For weeks she had been practically running on fumes, being an unwavering source of comfort and support for him and his son.

He had missed her presence in the bull pen and the sound of her voice as she answered the phone and the way she strode determinedly down the hall and her warm brown eyes looking at him over her case files, the latter behaviour making it impossible for him to concentrate for the last week or so. Rossi had begun to lecture him when he saw Hotch's guilty countenance but gave up eventually as he realized that the younger agent had tuned him out.

Jack held out a small cup to him and he poured some more milk for his son. It was getting quiet in the kitchen and quite dark. Hotch didn't see the point of turning on any more lights in the house when it was just the two of them. He thought of switching on a radio just to fill the silence and warm up the space, but the idea of Christmas carols was too much to bear. He didn't realize that he had stopped eating his food, until his son dangled a bit of pancake infront of him, concern written on his young features. The earlier joy he had felt this evening while cooking was beginning to peter out and he jumped as the house made a loud crack as it settled on its foundations.

Without conscious thought he flipped out his cell phone to call Emily but closed his mobile reluctantly. She would be asleep by now, recovering. She deserved a quiet night away from all the angst and pain that was a constant in his life now.

At that moment the house phone line echoed throughout the house and immediately Jack wiggled off his seat and sped to the shrieking appliance. Hotch's eyes widened a fraction as his son nimbly scrambled up a brightly coloured kid's chair that he had absolutely no recollection of purchasing. This seat conveniently put him within reach of the phone which was inexplicably placed on the lowest shelf on the wall. Aaron sighed and massaged the bridge of his nose, speculating on which one of his colleagues were duped into assisting his son with these shenanigans.

However, a normal parent would now be beaming with pride at the grown up greeting that fell from the youngster's lips, but Hotch was swimming in bleak thoughts wondering if Jack's fascination with the telephone had anything to do with seeing his father constantly using it. Another black notch on his already tattered parental record he decided, frowning miserably into his wilted broccoli.

'EMMY!!!' the little boy yelled out, his syrup covered face breaking into a huge grin.

Jack looked towards his father who was now also all smiles. Of course the first time his son had used that nick name, Aaron thought he was going to have a heart attack. But Emily had not appeared to mind and as the days passed the horrible similarity of the pet name to another word that he knew his son might never say again, faded away. Jack excitedly bounced on his seat as he proceeded to describe in detail all his day's activities to his captive caller. Buoyed by what he could hear of this one sided discussion, Aaron felt his appetite rush back with a vengeance and he made quick work of the surprisingly good frozen food dinner. Taking advantage of this sudden burst of energy he cleaned the table and the few dishes and for all intents and purposes he was standing in the little nook, waiting for his turn with the telephone.

Jack looked at him and his face was crumpled in confusion, 'Daddy, Emmy sounds all funny'

Quickly the agent took the phone, 'Emily?'

The unmistakenable sounds of someone retching could be heard in the distance.

Jack wound his way tightly around his father's leg as he reacted to the sudden tension in Aaron's body. The two Hotchner men stood in the gathering darkness listening to the silence over the connection.