Author's Note:

This oneshot comes from Kavi Leighanna and Sienna27's TV Prompts. The prompt was for the title "The Superhero Secret".

It's actually been done for awhile, this oneshot. I meant to upload it months ago, it was actually completed right after the episode where Morgan and Garcia had to share a hotel room. The fact of the matter is, I'd lost the file. I found it now, though, and I hope you like it.

"Miss Em'ly?" There was a gentle, persistent tugging at the end of her sleeve. Pull yourself together, Emily. She turned to look at the young boy with a brave face. His eyes were wide with something to say. The blonde child pulled on the sleeve of her red pajama shirt again. "It's gonna be okay." He whispered.

She opened her arm to him and Jack Hotchner slid over on the couch. The five year old curled against her side and wrapped an arm around her midsection. The simple trust in that action twisted Emily's heart painfully. After everything he'd been through, Jack could still trust. That was more than she could say for so many victims older than him.

"Do you want me to read you a story, sweetheart?" Emily asked. Jack tilted up his head to look at her with those big eyes, so like his father's. Emily was tired, so tired, but she'd promised, so she'd follow this one through. She couldn't imagine doing anything else but what Aaron had asked.

"Your Daddy's with the doctor," She'd told Jack. "But he'll be home." But damn, the kid was smart. "Bad guys?" He'd asked her, and she didn't miss the worry. "Not George." She'd told him, scooping him up into her arms without missing a beat. "Not George." She'd promised, and stroked his hair.

"I have a story for you, okay?" Jack nodded his head vigorously along with his words.

"Really?" Emily questioned, allowing herself to force a smile. "What's it about?" She'd moved in a month ago, after several long discussions. Was it too soon? For Jack? For Aaron? But she'd been over the Hotchner household so much, that the final step hadn't been such a big leap: for the boys. For Emily, it had meant everything.

It had been surprising, how well she'd fit in. There'd barely been a hiccup. Of course, they'd had their share of relationship problems, but nothing so serious as to force her out. Nothing that had indicated Jack might not want her there, that she was intruding. Because in the end, it was his decision too. If Jack rejected her, she was out.

But he hadn't, so far.

"S'about Daddy, o'course."

"Ah." She managed, her throat tightening around the word. Emily wanted to forget about the paleness of Aaron's face. She wanted to forget about the stillness. She wanted to forget but she knew without a doubt that she couldn't. She wasn't going to forget how he'd been so lifeless beneath her fingers, or how JJ had pried her away when the ambulance had come. Emily wasn't going to forget how the words he'd spoken were the ones that told her to take care of their son. Their son. She'd known what he'd meant – that he considered Jack to be hers now, too.

"It's a …" He furrowed his brow as if searching for the right words. "It's an idea I have. About Daddy. It's why you don't have to worry."

Did he see the tears forming in her eyes? She swallowed and forced them away. God, it was too hard to compartmentalize these days. Not with these types of things. She could hardly remember how she'd done it with Reid's case back then. But she'd been young those days. So much younger. Not innocent, but different.

"Go ahead then, buddy." She heard herself say. "I like stories. What's this idea of yours?" Emily already dreaded having to say something. What was this idea of his? Could she let him keep it? Even while thinking the words, she already knew that she would. At least for tonight. Maybe the truth was that she'd let herself keep it, just for now. That she'd let herself believe it.

"Okay." He snuggled more deeply against her side and she noticed how his fingers were trembling. Jack wasn't okay after all. How could he be, after so many times of his father disappearing on him? Emily leaned down and kissed his hair. "You know how Daddy is really strong and stuff? And he saves people from the bad guys."

She could see where this was going. She could feel it.

"I think my Daddy's a superhero."

Her heart plummeted, but she stopped the word from leaving her mouth before it happened. Before she could even respond, Jack had continued.

"Not the kind with the cape." He said, in his child's voice, but he sounded so strong and sure of himself. Somehow, he sounded so adult. "Daddy's a different kind of superhero. 'Cause he's really strong but he doesn't have powers. He's a real kind of hero 'cause he saves people and then he comes home. That's my Daddy's secret. He's a real superhero." He took a breath at the end of the sentence. This was some of the most she'd ever heard him speak. He was still clinging to her. "What d'you think, Miss Em'ly?"

She searched to find the words. How had he grown up so much in a blink of an eye? It was too early in the morning for the both of them to be awake but that wasn't going to change anything. She doubted either of them would sleep tonight.

The question came again to her mind. How had Jack grown so much? And how had she not noticed? How was it that he'd just come out with one of the biggest truths of them all?

"I think, Jack," She said and swallowed again. "I think you're absolutely right."

Author's Note:

The original plan was to end this story with the call coming from the hospital, telling them that Hotch was alright. Somehow, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. You can decide for yourself whether that call came that night or not, because somehow, I just couldn't write it. Could I somehow be persuaded to continue this? Maybe, if there's enough interest. For now, it's a oneshot – and I hope that you enjoyed it enough to review.