TITLE: Side by Side
ICON ARTIST: failegaidin
AUTHOR: Kuria Dalmatia
Characters/Pairings: Rossi, Hotch, Jack
SPOILERS: None
RATING: R
TIMELINE: Future!Fic with references to S3, shortly after Rossi's return

No beta. All mistakes are mine. Standard disclaimers.

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Uncle Dave lets out a laugh as he settles back in the plush chair, indulging Jack's request for a story about the Bureau. The default one is, of course, his first case back as a reinstated agent, because it always prompts the best lines form Jack's dad.

"There I was," Uncle Dave starts, "brass balls a ringin' as I walked—"

"Dave," Dad warns, glancing quickly over. Jack rolls his eyes, as if to say, I've heard worse. Which the youngest Hotchner has and everyone knows it, but Uncle Dave always uses the most colorful phrases, ones that teachers really couldn't punish Jack for using because they aren't technically curse words. The best ones are in Italian, which Jack has a working vocabulary of thanks to Montessori schooling and frequent visits by his favorite uncle.

The older man goes on, patently ignoring his dad's interruption as usual, and goes on about an UnSub still being an UnSub. Oh, there are never any details beyond the bare bones of the cases, even if Jack's friends pester him; Uncle Dave never says something as crass as, "You want details? Read my books."

Jack never has. He's fifteen. And when people he hangs out with figure out that, yes, he's that Jack Hotchner and, yes, his father is the Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner, there's always a flurry of really stupid questions to which Jack always answers, "He's just my dad and, no, I'm totally not talking about what happened to my mom. The jerk who wrote that book? My Uncle Dave says he's a hack. Who's Uncle Dave? Try Agent David Rossi, the guy who founded the BAU. His books are used at Academy."

"—totally break with the 'Team' protocol. We didn't have that whole 'Team' thing my first time around," Uncle Dave continues. "Your dad here wasn't too pleased with me."

On cue, his dad shakes his head, pinches the bridge of his nose, and then mock-whispers to Jack, "I had to give your Uncle Dave a timeout."

They all laugh, because they always do when Dad delivers that line.

Jack looks back at his uncle, but notices there's a different expression on his face. It's not the one he normally has when telling this story. There's a wetness to the man's eyes and Jack quickly averts his gaze. Uncle Dave's been getting a bit more mushy as the years go on but that's something old people do.

"We were there. in the lobby, with badges on display," Uncle Dave says and then shakes his head a little. "Your dad and I were side by side, ready to take that coglione down. It was the first time in ten years that we had collared a suspect together. Never forgot that, you know? Shoulder to shoulder. Side by side. Realizing right then and there that this little team your dad had put together was pure genius." He pauses, looks over and meets the gaze of Jack's dad. "Never told you how proud I was of you." He shrugs and then downs the rest of his drink. He then adds with a dismissive way of his hand, "Even if he did chew my ass out about protocol."

Jack looks over and notices his dad's own drink is empty as well. Obviously, there's something else there because his dad's cheeks are flushed and he is staring at the floor.

Adults. Geez.

Jack's cell phone suddenly rings and he's grateful for the distraction. He pulls it out, checks the number, and then darts to the kitchen for a little privacy. He figured out a while ago it's just easier allowing his dad to overhear some of the conversation; it makes the post-call, 'can I go out with my friends' interrogation go much faster.

"You okay, Dave?" he hears his dad ask, using the 'don't lie to me, I'm concerned about you' tone.

"Just feelin' old," Uncle Dave replies and laughs. "You got a good kid there, Aaron. Most wouldn't want to hear the same damn story over and over."

"I think he's trolling for new curse words," his dad dead-pans. "Speaking of which, coglione?"

"Dickhead," Uncle Dave clarifies. "You've heard me use that one before."

Jack smiles to himself as he answers his phone, mentally chanting the word so he'll remember it.

"And I meant what I said," Uncle Dave adds. "I was proud of you. Still am."

"I'm cutting you off," his dad declares.

"Because you still have issues with people complimenting you."

"Dave."

"Aaron."

"Scare any of Jack's girlfriends off again?"

"Now you're changing the subject," his dad accuses, but there's a lightness in his tone. "And you'll have to ask Jack about that."

Jack rolls his eyes and saunters further in the kitchen. He really doesn't want to hear the rest.

/Finis/