Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: I just want to wish everyone out there a very Happy New Year.
Darkness had fallen early as it was wont to do in winter. A light dusting of snow lay on the ground as Jack Hotchner stared out the window at the Washington skyline while people on the television talked about the events of New Year's Eve and the ball in New York City. "What's New Year's Eve Daddy?" the boy asked.
"It's the day before the new year. People often go out to parties and say good bye to the old year and hello to the new one," Hotch explained.
"Why?" Jack looked confused.
"It's just become a tradition." The four year old scrunched his eyes at the word. "Something people do all the time," Hotch clarified. "It's like a big birthday party for the new year."
"Do you do it?"
"I have in the past, but this year, I'm just happy being here with you." He stroked his son's soft hair that was so like Haley's.
"Did Mommy like to do it?"
"Yes, Mommy loved to go to New Year's Eve parties. People wear funny hats and do funny things." He smiled at the boy whose eyes lit up. "And at midnight everybody kisses everybody."
A knock sounded lightly on the door. Hotch rose and walked to the door looking through the peephole. His eyes lifted in surprise as he opened the door.
"Uh…Hello sir," Garcia said almost timidly as she stood at his door. "I hope I'm not intruding but today being what it is and with what's happened, I wondered if Jack might enjoy some New Year's cheer. I…uh…brought some hats and paper, stickers and glitter. I thought we might make some decorations."
Hotch could only stare at the sight before him. Garcia wore a bright red coat which matched her glasses. Her blond hair seemed to be streaked with every color of the rainbow. It was topped with a glittery tiara that said, "Happy New Year."
"Certainly," Hotch said, "come in." He opened the door wide to allow Garcia entrance. He noticed that she carried a large canvas shopping bag. "Jack, you remember Miss Garcia."
"Yeah, hi Miss Garcia." The boy's eyes grew large at the sight of her.
"Hi Jack, you know something, you're just the guy I came to see. I wanted to make some decorations for New Years and I thought you could help me. I even brought some hats." She pulled a kit of hats and tiaras from her bag.
Jack's eyes widened at the colors of top hats and dunce style hats all with glittery writing on them. He put a purple top hat on his head and secured the elastic under his chin. "How do I look Daddy?"
"You look great buddy," Hotch said with a rare smile.
"Here Daddy, you put this one on," Jack handed his father a green dunce hat.
"Okay," Hotch said hesitantly and the look he turned on Garcia told her she better not even consider laughing as he secured the strap under his chin.
"You look funny Daddy." Jack danced around joyfully.
"I think that color suits you sir," Garcia said solemnly, successfully reigning in the laughter burgeoning inside her. She tried to divert attention away from her boss and his embarrassment at wearing a New Year's hat by putting her cache of craft supplies on the dining room table and beginning to work with Jack on making New Year's decorations for the Hotchner home.
The pair was happily engrossed in their project when another knock was heard at the door. Hotch headed for the door and looked through the peephole. Once again he looked surprised as he opened the door for Derek Morgan. "Hi Hotch," he said, bursting into laughter as he entered. His face quickly returned to normal at Hotch's glower. "I thought Jack could use some cheering up." Morgan opened the bag he'd brought and put a noisemaker to his lips and blew causing the small item to uncurl as it let out its loud squeak.
The boy was mesmerized by the item and came running over to Morgan. "Is that for me?" he asked.
"Jack, that's not polite," Hotch scolded. "And you haven't even said hello to Agent Morgan."
"It's okay Hotch, sure kid, they're for you. There're lots of them in there." He handed Jack the bag. "Hey baby girl, what are you doing here?"
"Hi Agent Morgan," Jack waved as he took off with the bag.
"Jack and I were working on some New Year's decorations before we were so rudely interrupted." Garcia replied displaying the centerpiece they'd made for the table.
"It was nice of both of you to think of Jack," Hotch said.
"Hotch, Garcia and I both know what it's like to lose a parent and how hard holidays can be. We're just trying to make it a little easier."
"Well I appre…" Another knock sounded at the door.
"Why don't I get that," Garcia said, pushing past Hotch and Morgan. She opened the door to find Reid standing there. "Hi Reid, come on in," she said happily as the young profiler entered. She grabbed his arm and whispered, "Whatever you do, don't laugh at Hotch in his hat."
Reid nodded as Garcia shut the door. "Hi Ho…uh…hmm" Reid cleared his throat to stifle his laughter. "Sorry, hi Hotch," he squeaked.
"Hi Reid, let me guess, you're here to cheer Jack up?"
"Uh…yeah, I brought some party poppers," he said loudly to be heard over the sound of Jack practicing with each of the noisemakers. "I can see the noisemakers are a big hit as well as the hats." There was silence for a moment. "I mean Jack looks so cute."
"Jack," Hotch said, "why don't you get some hats for Agents Morgan and Reid."
The child ran to the hats and chose a red dunce hat for Morgan and a black top hat for Reid. The men obligingly put the hats on. "You guys look funny like Daddy," he said.
"Yes, don't they," Hotch agreed.
Another knock sounded. "Oh, I wonder who that is?" Hotch said, "Not another member of the team perhaps." He looked in the peephole and opened the door to JJ who had a bunch of balloons in her hand.
She gave a slightly startled expression at the sight of Hotch but did not burst into laughter. "Hi Hotch, these are for Jack."
The boy ran over excitedly and took the balloons from JJ.
"Jack, what do you say?" Hotch said.
"Thank you Agent Jareau."
"Look this is all very nice of you but you didn't need to do this. I'm sure you all had plans." He looked at JJ, "Will. Kevin," he said as he looked at Garcia. His eyes fell on Morgan, "Somebody."
"Hotch," JJ said, "this year this was more important."
The unit chief nodded his thanks. "Well, if I'd known you were coming I would have…"
"That must be the food now," Garcia opened the door after a knock from Prentiss and Rossi who each had a large tray, one of succulent yet kid friendly appetizers and one of cookies with sparkles that said Happy New Year.
"Do it again," Jack said as Reid pulled yet another quarter out from behind the boy's ear. He'd filled up on appetizers, cookies and something Misses Garcia, Prentiss and Jareau had made with juice and soda called punch. He liked it; it was fruity and fizzy at the same time. But now he felt behind his ear to make certain the coin was not there and somehow it still appeared in Agent Reid's hand when it came from behind his ear.
"Jack, maybe you should leave Agent Reid alone for a while," Hotch suggested.
"It's okay Hotch, I don't mind," Reid said as the boy perched on his lap waiting for Reid to pull another quarter from behind his ear. He could make cards disappear and reappear at will. Jack just couldn't understand it.
"I think it's getting close to midnight Jack, you better get your noisemaker," Morgan said as they watched the ball start to drop in New York City. He was covered in confetti as most of them were from Jack's excitement at opening the party poppers over everyone's heads.
Jack looked around the room and suddenly everybody was counting down, "Four, three, two, one, Happy New Year," they yelled making noise with their noisemakers.
Suddenly Garcia bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "Happy New Year Jack." Daddy had said everybody kissed at midnight. Agent Morgan was kissing all the ladies but Daddy, Agent Rossi and Agent Reid weren't kissing anybody. Agent Jareau and Agent Prentiss, who now wore Happy New Year tiaras, bent down and gave him soft pecks on the cheek wishing him a happy new year.
Then Daddy lifted him up and kissed his cheek and his hair. "I think it's time for bed for you buddy. Say goodnight to everyone."
Jack waved goodnight as Hotch took him to the bedroom. As the boy got into his pajamas, he said, "The kisses from those ladies were nice but they weren't like Mommy's."
"Jack, nobody's kisses will be like Mommy's. Mommy loved you more than anything in this world and she's always watching over you. Anytime you need a kiss, just look up to the sky, up to heaven and she'll blow you a kiss." Hotch told his son.
"Really?" the boy asked.
"Really," Hotch nodded.
Jack went to the window and raised his face to the starlit heavens, touched his tiny hand to his lips and lifted it skyward, "Happy New Year Mommy."