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A New Tradition in an Old World

Chapter Two

Tightening his grip on the wooden box in his hand, Reid paused outside Jack Hotchner's closed bedroom door. What was the protocol for entering his boyfriend's angry child's bedroom? Deciding quickly that it was never too early to respect a person's right to privacy, Reid knocked lightly on the door.

"Go 'way, Daddy! I'm not talking to you no more!" Jack stridently yelled at the closed door, tensing in his race car bed as he glared at the door in front of him.

Recoiling slightly at the irate thread still running through Aaron's son's voice, Reid briefly considered bolting. Never particularly adept at emotional situations, he doubted Jack would appreciate his version of logic at the moment. But, he owed it to Aaron to try. "Jack?" Reid called back softly. "It's not Daddy. It's me. Spencer."

"Uncle Spencer?" Jack called back hesitantly, his lip still pooched out.

"Yeah," Reid nodded, touching the brass knob of the door. "Can I come in?"

"Sure," came the terse reply and Reid couldn't help but smile. It was so reminiscent of his father.

Opening the door, Reid stepped inside the dim room, lit only by the baseball bedside light beside the bed. "Hey," he said in a hushed voice, pushing the door shut, but leaving it open a few inches. "I just wanted to check on you, Jack," he murmured, moving toward the bed. "You seemed pretty angry earlier."

"At Daddy," Jack snorted, crossing his pajama clad arms over his chest defensively. "He don't do nothin' right. The lights were all wrong and he put sprinkles 'stead of choc'late chips on Mommy's cookies and he don't make the hot chocolate with the milk like Mommy did. I want my mommy back!"

Nodding as he listened to Jack's words, filled with more pain than anger in his opinion, Reid exhaled slowly. "May I sit?" he asked, pointing down at the mattress beside Jack. Seeing the young boy's head bob once in answer, Reid lowered himself to perch on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry you lost your mom, Jack. But, you need to know that your dad is trying really, really hard."

Bowing his head, Jack swallowed as he gripped his small green blanket. "I just miss her so much, Uncle Reid."

"I know," Reid nodded. "I was about your age when my dad left," he confided, choosing his words very carefully as he fought his own memories. "It hurt a lot."

"You only had one parent like me?" Jack asked, lifting curious eyes to Reid.

"Mmm Hmm," Reid hummed. "My mom. She tried real hard, but she couldn't do all the things my dad did for me either. She was sick and didn't like to leave the house very much. So, after my father went away, I didn't do things like play ball or ride bike in the park anymore."

"That's the pits," Jack commiserated, sitting up straighter as he waited for his uncle to continue.

"It was," Reid agreed, shifting the box in his lap. "But, over time, my mom and I came up with our own activities to do together. Like my dad and I had only different. We came up with new traditions."

"I don't want to have any new traditions," Jack stated belligerently, shaking his head defiantly as he pooched out his lip again.

"Neither did least, not at first. I had to give it a chance," Reid explained gently.

Lips twisting from side to side as he considered his Uncle Spencer's words of wisdom, Jack lifted his chin, indicating the package Reid held. "What's in the box, Uncle Reid?"

Smoothing his hand over the worn wood of the box, Reid smiled at Jack. "Honestly? I'm hoping it's a new holiday tradition that we can do together." Seeing the little boy's eyes widen slightly, Reid continued, quickly, "See, since my mom was sick when I was a kid, we didn't do very much for Christmas after my dad left. But, there was one thing we did together every single night of December."

"What?" Jack asked, his curiosity overriding his earlier anger as he leaned closer.

Seeing the little boy was intrigued, Reid scooted closer as he lifted the lid on the priceless treasure that had been passed down from his mother to him. "We'd read this book," he said, lifting the first edition copy of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" out from the depths."

"What is it?" Jack asked with interest, scooting forward in the bed to get a better look at the cover.

"It's called, "A Christmas Carol"," Reid smiled, watching Jack's eyebrows furrow as he tried to read the faded letters.

"You and your mom sang every night?" he asked, perplexed. "I thought you said that you read."

"We did," Reid grinned, understanding the young boy's confusion. "That's the name of the book. It's about a guy that forgets how important Christmas can be. His name is Ebenezer Scrooge. And it's about the little boy that teaches him about the true spirit of Christmas."

"What's his name?" Jack asked, looking up at Reid.

"Tiny Tim," Reid replied evenly.

"Tiny? Like me?" Jack asked innocently, his eyes widening.

"Not quite, but close," Reid winked. "Would you like to read it with me?" he asked, flipping over the cover with a practiced hand. "Maybe you could help me out with this new tradition of mine...since I can't be with my mom either this year."

"Every night?" Jack asked, his eyes lighting up as he sat up straighter.

"Sure. Or if I can't be here, I bet your dad would love to read with you," Reid said carefully, taking care not to commit to any promises he wouldn't be able to keep.

"Daddy is a good reader," Jack nodded avidly. "He does good voices."

"Really?" Spencer asked, his heart melting a little as he watched Hotch's son's face.

"Uh huh," Jack grinned. "Can we get Daddy and ask him if he'll read the story with us?" he asked excitedly, his earlier anger vanishing.

"I think Daddy would love to read that book with you, Jack," Hotch said softly, watching from the ajar door. "May I come in?"

"Yep," Jack said, lifting the book from Reid's lap and holding it on his lap. "Uncle Spencer found us a new tadition, Daddy!"

"Tradition," Hotch corrected, relieved to see his son's happy face again as he took his place on the other side of Jack's bed. "And, yes, I heard it," Hotch nodded, looking at Reid over Jack's bent head. "Thank you," he mouthed, grasping Spencer's hand behind Jack's back.

Smiling Reid nodded as he handed the book to Aaron. "I hear you do great voices," he grinned.

"The best," Jack clarified, settling back on his pillows. "Read, Daddy! Please!"

Nodding, Hotch opened the aged book and began to read, "Marley was dead: to begin with..."

And as Spencer Reid and Jack Hotchner avidly listened to the deep timbre of Aaron Hotchner's voice, a new Christmas tradition was born.

One for just the three of them. For their new family.

The End