Author's Note: First, I hope you guys enjoy this new story. It will be updated once a week.
We have a few announcements for year today. First, don't forget we have a new challenge open on the forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner". Sign-ups for our January challenge, "The Happy New Year's Challenge" is open through December 30, 2010. We'd love to have each one of you. Simply swing by the forum (you can link to it thru our profile pages) and sign up with the pairing you'd like to see written and three prompts associated with the holiday. On Jan 1, 2011, you'll be assigned a random pairing (not the one you usually write) and three prompts to write by January 30.
And don't forget - those that signed up to complete the CM Christmas Fic Gift Exchange, you have exactly seven days left. Please PM me if you have any problems.
Also, over the next week, we will be shifting our ongoing epic stories to weekly publication, probably two per day. During my husband's deployment, this will probably be the best way for me to update.
Finally, if any of you have any idea for issues/activities that you'd like to see "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum tackle in the form of discussion threads and/or challenges, please let us know. We want to bring you all some really fun threads in the New Year!
As always, thank you to every reader, reviewer, and person that favorites or alerts one of our stories. Hearing from each of you means a great deal to each of us. We truly value your thoughts and opinions. Now, on with our story!
The Non-Nuclear Family
No parent got it right all of the time.
Instinctively, Aaron Hotchner knew this fact to be true. Although, after thirteen parenting years, he had to wonder if he was EVER going to get it at least partially correct. Wasn't he due for a break soon?
Tightening his hand on the steering wheel of his car, he blew out a long breath, almost desperate to control his rapidly devolving temper at this point. When JJ's phone call had come early this morning it had been unexpected, but he wasn't entirely surprised. His adolescent son had been pushing boundaries for months. Late curfew. Disrespectful attitude. A general level of intolerance for anyone above the age of twenty. Jack Hotchner had all the classic hallmarks of teen angst.
But this...this newest stunt had pushed his son from mere classic teen toward juvenile delinquent in one sweeping tide. And if he didn't stop this trip down the slippery slope, Aaron Hotchner was certain that the future was not going to be a pleasant place for any member of his family.
Thank God for JJ, he thought gratefully, propping his elbow against the steering wheel and massaging his temple as he was stopped by yet another red light. The younger woman was becoming his savior more and more often these days, her unflappable attitude a welcome respite from the sullen mood swings his son served up with regularity. More and more, Aaron found himself gravitating toward her between cases, relying on her pragmatic sense of humor to get him through the rough spots of child rearing.
Most importantly, thanks to her quick thinking and willingness to put her own life on hold, his son wasn't sitting in juvenile detention awaiting the return of his one remaining parent. Instead, when she'd received Jack's desperate call in the middle of the night, Jennifer Jareau had taken the reins, going to the police station and using her far-reaching influence to have his son released into her care.
Not for the first time, the slender blonde had come through for him. Sure, he paid her back where he could, filling the vacant father figure position in Henry's life that had grown wider when Will had left them a few years ago. He'd attended to his fair share of Henry's soccer and Little League games, and was more than glad to be there in any way necessary. But by and large, he was the one that had come out ahead in their friendship.
She'd told him not to rush back, that she had things handled on her end. She'd personally delivered Jack to school this morning and watched him go to class, much to the very private teenager's chagrin. But in spite of JJ's obvious care, Hotch knew he couldn't avoid addressing his son's increasingly bad behavior any longer. He'd left the case in Dave's capable hands and caught the first plane from Cleveland to DC this morning.
It was painfully clear to him that Dr. Spock had not been the expert on all things child-related, for Aaron was fairly certain that the good doctor had never written a chapter that could cover his son. He'd checked.
JJ had agreed to meet him at her apartment and fill him in on what she knew, and despite the reason for his impromptu visit, he couldn't help the small thrill of excitement that the prospect of seeing her left in him. Over the last year and a half, he and JJ had grown closer. Whether because of their children or her understanding of his career, he was closer to her than almost anyone. And he knew that his thoughts had already moved beyond mere friendship. Just lately, what little free time he had available was always consumed with fantasies of her…often X-rated in content.
Of course, if his son had his way, a relationship with any woman was going to be impossible. God knew, Jack was doing his level best to scare away even the steadfast and even-keeled Aunt JJ. Jack's cold demeanor and brooding silences were enough to drive Aaron nearly mad...and unlike JJ, he was obligated to love his child. She wasn't.
And he was more than concerned that the benevolent pseudo-aunt would draw her proverbial line in the sand at any moment.
He'd worried that Jack's current angry attitude would influence their friendship. More than once lately he'd needed to remind his angry son that disrespecting his elders was a forbidden practice. After all, JJ had her own son to consider, and he knew that her devotion to Jack would outweigh any feelings she might have for anyone else. He couldn't help but wonder if she'd remove herself and her son from his life's equation in light of Jack's current negative outlook.
But so far, she'd remained a steady, unwavering friend to him and his progeny, in spite of the obvious uphill battle they'd all been facing lately. Hopefully, this latest fiasco wouldn't change that.
Sighing as traffic finally began to move again, Aaron gunned the gas pedal as he wondered how the hell he was going to handle the current situation. He'd tried talking to his son. He had tried grounding him. Of course, enforcing those rules when he was in and out of town on multiple cases was a challenge. Penelope tried to respect his rules when she was helping to care for his son, but Jack was nothing if not a cunning child, often wriggling his way out of his restriction with a stunning alacrity that most unsubs would admire. JJ had the best luck so far…but luck was a fickle taskmaster and tended to leave at just the moment he needed it most.
Turning into JJ's parking lot, he sent a prayer to whatever deity was listening that JJ would have some words of wisdom to impart. She was doing an amazing job at raising a well adjusted child in spite of an absentee father. Maybe she would have some idea what to do with his obstinate teen.
Preferably before Aaron killed the boy with his bare hands. He was fairly certain that was still illegal in all fifty states.