Christmas Lights

Prompt: Grey's Anatomy - Some Kind of Miracle


A/N: Since several people requested a second part to this story I figured I would try, and this is what the muse delivered. And no, I still don't own anything.

Thank you as always to Sue C for the beta.


It had been a long week for Aaron Hotchner, filled with memories of past Christmases with Haley and Jack, of a little boy with his mother. He'd done his best to keep Jack distracted, but the nights when he'd lain there, the memory of Haley's slowly cooling body in his arms, had left him sapped of the energy necessary to keep a four year old fully entertained. Haley's sister Jessica had been wonderful, helping out as much as he'd asked, giving him a little time to nap so that he could try and give his son the time he needed, but he was struggling – pure and simple.

What had made the week much harder was that, as Jack would say, Emily Prentiss had been "working the case". Hotch knew the team was trying to catch a brutal serial killer on the west coast, and that Emily had tried to call regularly. But the time difference coupled with the hours and commitment a case demanded meant that, by the time she'd made it back to the hotel for the evening, it was well after midnight in DC. Too late even to call him. And in the mornings, he and Jack hadn't been around as he'd been trying to keep something of a semblance of a routine, taking him to a local pre-school for a few hours, just to get some interaction with other children. Hotch had always stayed, unwilling to let his son out of his sight for more than a few minutes, which had provoked some difficult conversations like the one he'd had a couple of days previously.

They'd been in the car driving home, when Jack had piped up from his booster seat in the back.

"Daddy?"

"Yes, buddy?"

"Why do the other kids have mommies, and I don't?"

He'd nearly broken down right then and there in the car, but he'd somehow held on until they'd reached home, when he'd hugged Jack to him fiercely. Then he'd explained again that the bad man had taken mommy away, but that she'd gone to heaven, and that she was watching over them from there. They'd ended up sitting for hours in front of some Sesame Street DVDs which Haley had obviously acquired at some point in the past. It had been a horrible day.

Now it was Christmas Eve. Garcia had called early in the afternoon saying that they'd caught the unsub, but that she didn't know when they might be coming home. He'd hoped that the team would have made it back for Christmas - that Emily would have made it back. But it was now after eight, and time for Jack to be in bed. His son missed Emily. He missed Emily. But he didn't know for sure if she felt the same way.

They'd finished bath time, and Jack was wearing some "big boy" pajamas with racing cars on them. He was very excited, and kept picking up his leg to show daddy the fast cars as he was brushing his teeth. They'd been an early Christmas gift – something special to wear for the night that Santa came.

"Ready for bed?"

"Can I stay up and watch the Christmas lights? Please, Daddy?"

When they'd put up the tree, Jack had insisted that Hotch put in the special bulb that made all the lights on the tree flash in a synchronized manner, and he loved to sit there and just watch the patterns swirl around the branches.

"You know that eight o'clock is bed time, buddy."

"But it's Christmas, daddy! Can't I stay up a little?"

It was impossible to deny the little look of hope in Jack's expression.

"Okay. Because it's Christmas, you can stay up a little longer."

The huge grin on Jack's face was infectious. "Do you think we'll see Santa, daddy?" The boy practically bounced into the living room.

"I don't know, buddy. He might come really late."

They sat on the couch together and stared at the lights flashing on the tree, Jack continually pointing out his favourite colours, or how the ornaments reflected the dancing lights. Aaron Hotchner hugged his son. Haley was gone, but he still had Jack, and he loved him dearly. But as he and Jack watched the lights, his thoughts drifted to the raven haired woman who seemed to fill them so much in the past year.

///////

Emily Prentiss stood outside the door to Aaron Hotchner's apartment, unsure of what to do. It was late, nearly eleven, and she knew that Jack would already be asleep. It had been over a week since she'd seen either Jack or Hotch, and almost as long since they'd had anything remotely resembling a real conversation. She knew that they'd been struggling, just based on the quick calls she'd managed to make, usually while riding to or from a crime scene. Hotch hadn't said anything, but she'd heard the sadness in his voice. She'd really wanted to be able to see them before Christmas, if only to drop off some gifts, because tomorrow she needed to spend the day at her mother's traditional Christmas "event" – when she'd much rather be spending the day with a sad little boy and his father. She'd even been angry with Derek and refused to speak with him the whole trip home because of what she felt had been unnecessary delays on his part in leaving, which had made for rather an awkward flight. But after rushing to get here from Quantico, stopping only briefly at her own place on the way, she'd now been standing outside the door for about five minutes, prevaricating.

Finally making up her mind, she slipped her key in the lock, and opened the door as quietly as possible. After Foyet's first attack, and the number of times she'd stopped by to make sure that Hotch was okay, he'd given her a key so he didn't have to get up to answer the door every time she visited. He'd never asked for it back, and although she hadn't used it in months, it seemed like now was an appropriate time.

Making sure to lock the door and reset the alarm, Hotch had given her the code to that as well, she put down the bags she carried and looked around. The apartment was dark, though there was an irregular flickering of light coming from the living room. Stepping closer, she saw that they'd obviously put up a Christmas tree while she'd been away. She sighed, because she'd so wanted to be there to help them put the tree, but the case had pulled her away. It was just another way in which the job affected every other part of her life. It really sucked sometimes.

However, it did explain where the flashing was coming from – the Christmas lights on the tree. Emily had always adored lights at Christmas, and this was no exception, especially when she saw her two favourite boys asleep on the couch in front of the tree, older hugging the younger. She felt a tear run down her cheek as she watched them sleep so peacefully, half sitting, half sprawled across the couch.

Moving closer, she gently ran her hand down Hotch's arm. His eyes popped open immediately, body stiffening, before he looked up and saw her face. He smiled, and she could feel the tension in his arm relax.

"Hey." His voice held that half awake quality, which made him seem less stern than normal. More open.

She nodded. "Hey."

"We didn't think you'd make it back for Christmas," he said quietly, so as not to disturb Jack.

"Me either." She ducked her head slightly. "I think Derek's going to be a little careful around me for the next week or so."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Her cheeks heated, and she was glad that the room was dark. "Someone wasn't happy that we were so late in leaving." She felt rather than heard his chuckle through the hand which was still resting on his arm.

He looked away, over towards the Christmas tree. "Two someone's were rather sad that you weren't here today." His voice communicated a lot more than just plain sadness, and she felt tears prick her eyes.

Jack moved in his father's arms, and Hotch looked down as he pulled his son closer. "I should get him into bed."

He stood up slowly, making sure that Jack was still sleeping soundly. As he walked around the couch, she reached out and stopped him with her hand. Hotch looked up, but all she did was lean down and kiss Jack's forehead. "Merry Christmas, little man," she whispered.

She couldn't read the look in Hotch's eyes as she straightened up, perhaps because of the darkness of the room, but there suddenly seemed to be an electricity between them that she hadn't noticed before. After a few moments he looked away, and set off again towards Jack's room, disappearing around the corner. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Emily grabbed her bags from where she'd left them, and began unpacking gifts under the tree. She was still doing that when Hotch returned.

"He really missed you." His voice was soft, and he was staring absently at the lights as they flashed and flickered. "I really missed you."

Surprised, Emily pushed herself to her feet. Standing there in silence, his face was illuminated in blue, yellow, red, and green in turn. She only just caught the tear running down his cheek, dimly reflecting the flashing lights.

"Jack sent a letter to Santa, you know." Hotch sounded almost nervous, and she wasn't really sure why.

"Did you see what was on it?" she asked, voice soft, not wanting to disturb the quiet in the room.

"I had to sneak a look, but yes." He half smiled. "It turns out that Jack and I want the same thing for Christmas." He turned towards her, and she could almost feel the jolt of the connection. "You."

"Hotch …"

He reached out his hand, placing his finger on her lips. "Emily, I made a promise to Haley to teach Jack how to love again, to show him that there was a side of me that wasn't as serious. You heard me make that promise. I can't do that alone. I need someone to help me. We need someone to love. I want you to be that person." She felt his other hand sliding into hers, intertwining their fingers.

She was stunned, but in a good way. She'd had feelings for Hotch for a long time - since before he'd been injured in New York, though that event had brought those feelings to the fore. Although their friendship had deepened since that time, she hadn't imagined that he'd been moving towards the same place she had been.

"I know we don't have a lot to offer. I'm not exactly the easiest going man in the world, and Jack misses his mother terribly, but there is one thing I can guarantee – we both love you."

She felt tears on her face. "Oh Aaron, I love you too - both of you." And then he was kissing away her tears, before moving to her lips, gently and tentatively expressing his love.

They stood there under the flashing Christmas lights, realising that perhaps three people had got their Christmas wish this year. It truly was some kind of miracle.