This fic was written for my best friend Sarah (known as Twistedsista on here). I wanted her to smile. This fills the schmoop_bingo prompt 'playing matchmaker'. I do not own Criminal Minds.
Jack Hotchner didn't mind spending days when he had no school in the FBI offices of Quantico. He had plenty of friends to occupy him through out the day; even if his dad would prefer he sat in his office and read (quietly) or did homework (quietly). It wasn't that Aaron didn't want him wandering around, he trusted him not to get into trouble. It also didn't have anything to do with accidentally stumbling into two staff meetings three visits back. It was because ever since he'd reached the ripe tween-age of eleven he'd been, as his dad put it, "meddling." Jack didn't consider it that at all. He was just more aware now that his dad was lonely. He hadn't dated since Jack's mom died and even he knew that was weird, and sad. When his dad had started talking more about Penelope Garcia than he use to Jack used it to his advantage.
It probably started before Jack noticed; his dad could be a wall when it came to figuring out how he was feeling about something. Which was a total pain for him when he's done something wrong. But he knew when he noticed that it started.
They were on their way to school one day. Jack wasn't in the mood to talk, he'd stayed up late on the computer (and, man, he really hoped his dad didn't notice.) So Aaron was filling the silence with anecdotes from the day before. His dad casually mentioned that Ms. Penelope had been singing the other day in her bunker. Any other kid might have been weird-out listening to their dad talk about how pretty her voice had sounded, but Jack was jumping up and down on the inside. After that he realized his dad talked about Penelope a lot. She told him a joke, made him smile, asked how Jack was doing. Aaron talked about all of his former subordinates; he let Jack know when Dr. Reid was going to be in town so Jack could make a special trip to the office and see him, Mr. Morgan was sky-rocketing in his new position in New York, Emily worked in the Quantico office as a liaison and Rossi now headed the BAU team. But Ms. Garcia? All the time. Every day, three or four times a day. Jack knew his dad had it bad when he started commenting on the ever-colorful outfits she wore. Aaron described her as "adorable." His dad's face had burned with a blush, and Jack was sure his dad had never used the word adorable before.
Jack had done what he thought was a sure-fire plan. He told his dad to ask her out, repeatedly.
"You should ask Ms. Penelope out, dad." Jack thought it was causal enough.
His dad had not, "W-what?" he sputtered.
"You talk about her all the time, admire her; you should ask her out." Jack turned to his dad and gave him an encouraging smile.
Aaron had paled. "That would be inappropriate."
"Why? She's not under you any more." Jack wasn't sure what about that sentence had made his dad choke.
"I'm too old for her, Jack. Let's change the subject."
That was how every single conversation on Operation: Get Dad a Date went. "Let's change the subject." Jack did the only thing he could think to do. He called Mr. Morgan, who insisted after the first five minutes of their conversation that Jack was old enough to call him Derek, because Mr. Morgan was making him feel old. He really hoped he didn't develop this obsession with age like his dad and Derek.
Jack explained to Derek what he knew and after finally convincing him that he really, honestly believed that his dad was crushing on Penelope he gave him some advice. "You're going about it the wrong way. Your dad isn't going to make a move, no way. But if you get Penelope interested you might have a chance. Next time you're at the office go to her bunker and fish around. See what she says about him."
He didn't know why he hadn't thought about it. Of course his dad was shy, he was rusty to the dating game and needed a push. And eleven year old sons weren't pushy enough.
Jack was bouncing on their way to the office a particularly rainy day off. He couldn't wait to get there and his dad was going to be busy for most of the day with a meeting. Being in the White Crime Unit was awesome because Aaron got to work nine-to-five and be home on weekends but there were so many meetings.
"You're pretty happy this morning?" Dad eyed him suspiciously as they walked, huddled under an umbrella into the building.
Jack shrugged his shoulders, "It's a good day."
"Okay," Aaron smiled. He just needed his dad to disappear for that first meeting.
"I want you to stay in the office, okay? No wandering around, and don't bother Penelope." His dad was gathering up a few files he would need but still managed to give Jack his "I mean it" look.
"Sure, Dad, no problem." He eyed him but Jack kept smiling innocently. He wasn't gone ten minutes before Jack was out the door. He knew the path to Penelope's bunker by heart and when he was younger (ten is totally younger) he would try to covertly make it there without being seen.
He opened the door and Penelope was alone in her bunker. "Good morning, Ms. Penelope."
Penelope jumped and spun around in her seat, her computers going black with a flick of her wrist. "Lil' Hotch, sweetie, don't scare me like that." Jack didn't get a chance to see what was on her screen and he'd forgotten in his excitement to see her that she wanted him knocking before barging in in case she was looking at something sensitive.
"Sorry Ms. P," he stubbed his toe against the floor.
She gave him one of her blinding smiles, "It's okay, darling."
"Do I need to come back?" He motioned to her computers.
"Nope! You are totally fine right where you are. How are you, Jack?" Penelope spun the chair next to her out for Jack to sit down.
Jack took the seat and spun around before giving her one of his most charming smiles. "I've been really good, Ms. Penelope. Thanksgiving break is coming up soon."
Penelope's eyes crinkled with her smile. "Sounds fun, but Halloween hasn't even happen yet."
Jack shrugged, "Halloween is fun, I guess." He actually loved Halloween but he had a feeling that Penelope went all out for the day.
He got the reaction he wanted from her, "No! Halloween is more than fun. It's awesome." Their conversation came to a halt as she got a phone call. It was one of the departments wanting her help on something. She motioned with her finger that he needed to turn around as she pulled the information up on her computer. "Okay, got it. I'll look it over and give you a call back. About an hour?" She hung up. "Okay you can turn around again."
"Are you sure you're not too busy, Ms. Penelope?" Jack might have had a grand plan but it came second to not getting Penelope in trouble.
She waved her hands, "Don't worry about it, Jack. You're fine. What do you want to be for Halloween?"
"I was thinking of going as an FBI agent." Penelope snorted at that. "I'd look pretty awesome in a suit, don't you think?"
She laughed, "You'd be handsome in a suit, Lil' Hotch. You'd look just like your daddy." Penelope was the only one that Jack didn't mind calling him "Little Hotch", only a few others tried but Jack had perfected the "glare of disdain" years ago. Another phone call came in and Jack used the distraction to set up the first part of his plan. He knew where the music was on Penelope's computer and as long as she had a sharp eye on him she didn't mind if he brought it up. He scrolled through the songs and came to the one his dad had said Penelope had been singing. It started off softly and Jack didn't recognize it but it sounded pretty. It was half-way done by the time Penelope got of the phone but as soon as she hung up she started humming softly and some of the words escaped through.
"Sing, Ms. P," Jack gave her a smile, "My dad says you have a beautiful voice." He got the reaction he wanted. Penelope's cheeks stained red and she stuttered to a stop.
"R-really?" she grinned. "He said that?"
"Yep! He complements you a lot, actually." She squirmed in her seat for a minute, sitting up straighter. He remembered Derek's advice about not laying it on too thick. "I better let you get back to work, Ms. Penelope. Have a good day."
Jack grinned to himself as he made his way back to his dad's office. That was a good start. Now he just needed to slip into conversation that Penelope thought Aaron was handsome. He giggled, she hadn't actually said it. But she said he was handsome and he looked just like his dad, with blonde hair. It was close enough to her saying it.
He was disappointed. He really thought telling Penelope that his dad thought she had a beautiful voice and complemented her all the time would be enough to get the ball rolling. Aaron had gotten all flustered when he told him about Penelope calling him handsome. But it had been three weeks and nothing had happen yet. Getting desperate he had to place another call to Derek. He would be going to the office with his dad the next morning and he needed to get this right. There was six weeks to Christmas and Jack had been hoping to have them together before then.
Jack only felt marginally guilty about taking his dad's phone and copying Derek's number down from it. Really, this was all in the name of love, for Aaron, he couldn't complain too much. Derek picked up on the second ring.
"Hey, Hotch, everything okay?" Maybe calling at ten o'clock at night was a bad idea.
"Hey Mr. M- Derek, it's Jack..."
"Oh, hey, Jack. How are you? Everything okay?" Derek sounded slightly relieved.
"It didn't work, Derek. They're still not together."
There was silence for a moment before Derek started chuckling. "Well, kid, you can't expect them to get together overnight.
"But I told Penelope that my dad complements her all the time. And I told him that she said he was handsome." Jack knew he was whining, but how dumb did adults have to act? "Why aren't they doing anything about it?"
Derek chuckled again, "Maybe your dad's nervous. He's a bit older than Penelope."
Jack groaned and banged his head against the kitchen table. "Why are adults so obsessed with their age?" That produced a full-belly laugh from Derek.
"You'll understand when you're older," which only made Jack groan louder. "Have you thought maybe they need to figure it out for themselves."
"That is a terrible idea, Derek. They're never going to figure it out." Jack looked at the clock and sighed, "I gotta go. Thanks for listening."
"Any time, Jack. Get some sleep" They said goodbyes and Jack hung up the phone. He wasn't sure why anyone called Derek a "ladies man" he had the worst advice in the world.
Instead of going to Penelope's office like he usually would while stuck in the office he found his way to Rossi's in the BAU. He knocked and waited to see if he was in. Not twenty seconds passed before the door was swinging open.
"Hey, Jack, what brings you to my part of the woods?" Rossi smiled warmly.
His dad was going to kill him when he found out that Jack didn't rope just one former member of the BAU into this, but two. "Can we talk privately? This is a sensitive matter." The amused look Rossi gave him irritated Jack. But he motioned him into the office and shut the door behind them.
"What's on your mind, Jack?"
He decided it was time to talk off the kid gloves. "My dad and Penelope like each other and aren't doing anything about it." Rossi choked for a moment, his face red and it took Jack a moment to realize that he was laughing. "I'm not joking!"
Rossi composed himself quickly, "I know you're not. I've known for a while now. Been waiting for them to get to the same conclusions."
Jack stared opened mouth, "You're my dad's best friend! You should be telling him these things."
Rossi chuckled, "Jack, no one can make Aaron or Penelope do anything they don't want too." He patted his shoulder, "I'm sure your dad has his reasons."
"Yeah," Jack snorted, "he thinks he's too old for her." Rossi tried to open his mouth but Jack cut him off, "I know, I know, all you old people are obsessed with your age."
He had to sit down this time he started to laugh so hard. Rossi was still laughing softly when he started speaking, "That wasn't what I was going to say, Jack, but thanks for the laugh. I was going to say, they just need pointed in the right direction."
"I've already tried that. I told Penelope that my dad always complements her and I told dad that she said he was handsome. Not to mention the million times I've told him to ask her out. What can I do, Rossi?" Jack fell heavily into one of the chairs in front of Rossi's desk.
"What's eating at you kid?" Rossi leaned forward, suddenly very serious.
Jack slumped in his seat and put his head in his chin. "Dad's lonely, Rossi. Most people can't tell but I know you can. So can I." Rossi tried to say something but Jack cut him off, "I gotta worry about him. He doesn't have anyone else."
Rossi smiled softly. "Okay, tell me everything." Jack perked up and smiled. He started with the first time he noticed something.
He didn't have one hundred percent confidence in Rossi's plan. He thought it was a little extravagant, but after being pointed out that blunt and covert hadn't worked. Over top seemed the only viable way to go. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming it hadn't been hard for Rossi to place a call to Dr. Reid and Derek and they were both coming for a visit. Under that ruse (and here was where Jack got kinda lost) they were staging a dinner for the former team. Emily came over and helped Jack set up and once they were finished Jack started to see...something. It was pretty with the three candles, seating for two, soft lights and music.
Rossi was picking them up to take them to the actual reunion dinner, minus his dad and Penelope. He admired their handy work, "Not bad, Em."
Emily rolled her eyes, "You're the sap, Dave. I can't believe this was your idea."
Rossi grinned, "you know it'll work." Jack watched the exchange between them curiously. He really hoped it worked because if it didn't he wouldn't get another chance.
"Alright, Jack, we'll be outside. They should be here any minute. Remember what we talked about?" Rossi had clapped his hands together and then rubbed them together; he seemed as excited as Jack. It was a little infectious.
He gave them thumb-ups, "Give them my puppy eyes." Emily sighed and muttered, "unbelievable, Rossi." Rossi patted his shoulder and ushered Emily out of the house.
Jack paced around waiting, he circled the table looking it over but didn't touch anything. Emily had spent a long time fiddling with it, he didn't want to mess it up. He heard his dad's key and rushed to the door. "I don't know where everyone else is, I thought-" Aaron cut off as he walked in to find Jack waiting there with both of his hands behind his back.
"Hey, Dad," he grinned, rocking back on his heels.
"Jack...where is Emily and Rossi?" Penelope was looking between Jack and his dad and then her eyes flicked behind Jack and he knew she could see the dining room set up.
"Um," she giggled, "Jack, what..?"
Jack went up to Penelope, "Let me take your coat, Ms. P." She looked at his dad grinning. With the coat in his hand he motioned her to the living room. "Go have a seat. Dad?" Jack tugged on his arm taking him to the dining room. His mouth dropped open when he saw the table.
"Jack what is going?" His dad turned to him, that familiar (dreaded) glare in place.
Jack squared his shoulders, Rossi had drilled in him that it was important that he stand his ground here. "Dad," he said, putting Penelope's coat down and approached him. He pulled at his dad's tie and loosened it enough to take it off. "You can be mad later, but right now there is a home cooked meal in the kitchen and dinner set up for two. I know you told me to stop meddling but you two like each other-"
"Dad. Please, have dinner with Penelope?" Jack had kinda hoped he wouldn't need to use the puppy dog eyes.
"Jack," His dad looked like he was about to cry and that hadn't been the reaction Jack was going for. "Regardless how I feel about Penelope; it's not likely she feels the same way."
He laughed, "You're clueless, Dad." He yanked his dad down so he could mess up his hair a little bit. "There. Now you don't look like Agent Hotchner." He looked like Aaron, Jack's dad that like to throw a ball in the yard and came to watch Jack play basketball with his friends. "I'm going out to have dinner with the team. You two have fun." He glanced toward the living room where Penelope was leaning against the doorway listening to their conversation. There was a smile on her face and her cheeks were flush. "Have a goodnight, Ms. Penelope, Dad." He rushed out the door not wanting to wait around in case his dad protested more.
He ran down the driveway and the short distance across the sidewalk to Rossi's car. He dove into the backseat and buckled up; the grin on his face was starting to hurt.
"Everything go okay?" Rossi looked at him in the review mirror as he pulled away from the curb. Jack grinned and Emily squeezed his knee before facing forward. He didn't have to say anything. They were the only two who couldn't see what was in front of them.