Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my own creations.
Aaron Hotchner sat in the darkness of his apartment. He looked out the window – thought it might have been a wall – without a seeing anything, lost in his thoughts.
His head felt heavy and he was feeling raw.
Two weeks on, and Jack was still struggling to cope with the loss of his mother. For all that he seemed a relatively happy boy by day and around people, the nights were a different story.
The first night had been the worst: the little boy had stood in his bedroom doorway sobbing, big heaving sobs, tears running down his face uncontrollably as he stood there. 'I want my mom!'
He hadn't been in a deep sleep – sleep still not coming easily these days – and he'd shot up in bed instantly at his son's tears.
His heart had clenched at the cry, and he'd thrown back his sheets immediately. Leaving his bed, he swept his distraught son up into his arms.
Nothing he could do would console Jack and so he'd done the next best thing. Rocking his son backward and forward in his lap, he'd sat on the edge of the bed, pressing his lips to his son's fine hair as he held him close.
Jack's cries only stopped when he finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
His little boy's eyes were puffy and swollen, looking huge on his little face. After several long minutes of just staring, he'd stood to return him to his bed.
Jack had gripped his shirt in a death grip and refused to let go.
In the end, he'd slipped him into bed with him. Father and son took comfort from the other and slept fitfully together as they struggled the long, dark night through.
Breakfast the following morning – such a mundane thing in itself – had unwittingly caused pain. He'd reached for the cereal that Jack always ate, only to find that he wanted something different.
'I want toast and jam – just like Mummy did,' came the stubborn voice of his three year old.
His heart had clenched. He hadn't realised how hard it was going to be to keep his wife's promise.
It was a watery smile – but a smile nonetheless – as he looked at his son and spoke. 'Mummy did like her jam, didn't she?'
'I miss Mommy,' said Jack sadly as he reached for the bread. 'She won't be coming back will she?' he added.
Turning, he had seen the faint hope in his son's eyes. 'She won't be coming back,' he said gently.
Jack had nodded his head, resigned. 'I miss her.'
'Me too Jack,' he whispered, coming over to hug his son fiercely. 'Me too.'
On leave from work, he'd spent all the time with his son, learning about him all anew. Later, much later, he would be able to think that in his heartbreaking loss of his first love, he'd gained a son.
Pulling back to the present, and for the first time in a fortnight, his mind turned to the future. He was due back at work in the coming weeks and he was worried about how Jack was going to cope with him gone.
He got no further in his thoughts when Jack appeared in the lounge room doorway. 'Daddy?' came the fearful cry. 'I thought you was gone!'
Turning instantly to the distressed child he opened his arms. 'I'm right here Jack,' he responded, opening his arms. 'Come to Daddy.' It was an invitation that Jack promptly accepted and ran full pelt across the room.
Well used to turning to his father in the night, Jack burrowed himself into his father's chest, firmly fisting his small hands in the polo shirt and fell asleep once again, safe in his father's arms.
With his son firmly ensconced in his embrace, sleep was a long time coming for the older man.
To be continued.