Author's Note: Once again, thank you to Kavi Leighanna and Sienna27 for their gracious invitation to all of us to include ourselves in their TV Prompt Challenge. And thank you, tonnie2001969 for the wonderful beta!
Prompt: Three's Company - "Jack's Other Mommy"
David Rossi wasn't usually the type to be stopped in his tracks. Unfortunately, after half a century on this earth, half of which he'd spent chasing after some of the most depraved minds ever created, it was a sad, but true, fact that not much fazed him anymore.
But as his feet hit the carpeted hallway outside his office door, Dave immediately spotted something that had the power to freeze him...to stop him cold in his tracks...every single time. Jack Hotchner's obviously unhappy five year old face.
Walking toward the small child, Dave watched as the little boy currently sat straddled against the bars of the metal staircase, staring down into the team's bullpen. "Hey, kiddo," Dave murmured, ruffling the little boy's soft, black hair as he dropped to assume an identical pose beside the boy. "What's goin' on?" he asked, stealing another surreptitious look at Jack's sad face.
"I gots a pwoblem, Uncle Dave," he muttered, leaning his chin against the metal bars of the stairs, still staring balefully down into the busy bullpen.
"Yeah?" Dave grunted. "What's the problem and I'll see if I can fix it for you," Dave offered, nudging the little boy with his shoulder. "Did Uncle Morgan take the last ice cream sandwich from the break room again?"
"Nah," Jack said, scrunching his nose, his eyes still staring straight ahead. "I beat 'im this time."
"That's good," Dave nodded approvingly. "Aunt JJ refusing to let you watch the good cartoons again in her office?" Dave asked, remembering that JJ's tastes in cartoons ran toward Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake rather than Transformers.
"Nah, I don't feel like watchin' 'em today," Jack shook his head, his forehead wrinkling.
"Uncle Reid didn't have time to play Old Maid?" Dave tried, looking for some small sign that he was on the right track.
"Uh uh," Jack grunted, sliding his fingers against the metal bar. "He wanted to...but he's too easy to beat."
"Well, help me out here, Jack-o," Dave said, ruffling the youngster's hair again. "Uncle Dave can't help if he doesn't know what the problem is."
Pursing his lips, Jack released a deep shaky breath. "See, it's like this, Uncle Dave. I wants to have two mommies. My real mommy in heaven and Emily," he revealed, looking longingly at the woman currently laughing at something Garcia said in the bullpen. "But, my friend Jimmy at school says I can't have two real mommies. Only one. And he says that I already hads my chance," Jack confessed, his eyes filling with tears as his lower lip pooched out.
Tamping down the fury he felt at another child's careless words, Dave shook his head, reminding himself that children would be children. "Come'ere, kiddo," Dave said, patting the floor beside him. "Scooch over," he invited easily, his voice just the right level for the little boy to hear and trust.
Doing as his uncle bid him, Jack scooted next to Dave's big body, sighing as he felt the adult's comforting arm slide around him.
"Did you know that when I was just a little older than you, I got two daddies?"
Lifting wide luminous eyes to Dave's, Jack little mouth rounded at that surprising information. "Really?" he breathed.
"Yep," Dave nodded, bobbing his head as he caught Emily's worried eyes in the bullpen. Shaking his head slightly, forestalling her interruption, he watched her frown, but uneasily return to her seat behind her desk. "I sure did." Dropping his gaze to Jack, he confided, "See, my first daddy went to heaven, too. Just like your mom. He had an owie on his heart," Dave explained, tapping his chest, simplifying his biological father's heart condition into terms his young friend could understand. "And he went to live with the angels. But, my mom knew that my daddy would want me to be happy....to still be able to do all the things that sons did with their fathers. See, even though my dad wasn't here, he was still looking out for me. One eye on the heavens and one eye on me...that's what my mom always said."
"That sounds like my mom," Jack whispered, nodding his head rapidly as he scooted even closer to his adopted uncle. "She telled me she'd always watch me from wherever she was."
Nodding, Rossi swallowed painfully, tamping down his emotions as he smiled down at his nephew. "That sounds right to me. Anyway...my dad must have been watching really closely because he sent a really great man to my mom and me when we needed him most. But, I was worried, just like you, I'm betting. See, I didn't want my dad in heaven to think I loved this new man more than I did him."
Nodding again, his rapt expression never wavering, Jack said in a voice filled with childlike innocence, "'That's how I feel, Uncle Dave."
"Yeah, I kinda figured," Dave sighed, patting Jack's sturdy knee. "But here's what my second daddy told me...and it really kinda made a lot of sense. One heart can never have too much love, Jack. You don't run out. There's enough inside you for two mommies....just like there's enough inside me for two daddies. And mommies and daddies have enough love inside them no matter how many kids they have. You can never run out."
"Won't my real mommy be sad?" Jack asked intuitively, looking up through his lashes. "Ya know, 'cause I love somebody else as much as I loved her?"
"I asked my second daddy that same question," Dave nodded calmly.
"What'd he say?" Jack asked timidly, his eyes wide.
"He said that the first thing they teach you in parenting school is to always, always, always, want the very best for your kid. And the best thing possible for any kid is having two parents here in this place where we live, loving us. In our lives, Jack, we were lucky enough to have not two, but three," Dave stressed, holding up three fingers, "great parents to love us. That makes us incredibly special. We get somethin that rarely happens...a second chance. We're part of a very special club that other kids...well, they just don't understand."
"Honest?" Jack questioned with only the sincerity that youth could offer.
"Honest," Dave nodded solemnly, leaning his elbow against the metal railing. "If you want Emily to be your mommy, little guy, I'm fairly certain that all you have to do is say the word. That lady down there," he said, nodding to where Emily sat looking up at them with concerned eyes, "already loves you as much as any mother could love her son."
"Do you really think so, Uncle Dave?" Jack asked, tilting his head as he stared down at the woman his daddy had married.
"There's only one way to know for absolutely sure," Dave replied evenly, keeping his voice soft, not pushing the little boy into any decisions. "And you already know what it is."
Nodding, Jack pushed away as he climbed to his sturdy feet. "I gots to go have a talk," he said seriously, his face a miniature version of his father's.
"Go on then, Champ," he nodded, patting Jack's back before meeting Emily's eyes.
Dave watched as Emily's gaze moved from him to a rapidly approaching Jack, his little legs pumping. Watching as she smiled as she held out her arms and Jack crawled into her lap, he saw Emily nod patiently as Jack spoke, his little face animated as his hands moved constantly. Holding his breath as he saw Emily wrap her arms tightly around the little body in her lap, he saw her lift a shaking hand to wipe at the tears on Jack's cheeks, speaking softly against his ear. And a moment later as he watched Jack's arms creep around his second mommy's neck, he nodded as Emily lifted tearful eyes to his again, mouthing a heartfelt, "Thank you."
Maybe some days at the BAU were better than others after all.