Chapter One

AN: Hi everyone. No, I didn't get snowed in last night, but I did get a chance to write seven chapters of festive holiday goodness starring our favorite pair. I am going to post a couple a day until the big day. This is my Christmas gift to all of you. I hope you like it!...

"There he is!"

"Oh, Jackers, can we wait?" Pen begged, being dragged through the bustling shopping mall by the miniature Hotchner. She was exhausted but happy. Today she took both Jack and Henry shopping, so both Hotch and JJ could get their Christmas presents purchased and ducked away.

It was a really good way to find the perfect gifts for her favorite two munchkins on the planet. She wasn't the favorite auntie for nothing, after all!

She'd been shopping with the five year old and the two year old for over six hours now. She was getting pooped out. Laden with presents, her hair was messy, her feet were sore, and now her attitude-along with her bra straps-needed adjusting.

"Aw, pwease, Auntie P?" Jack begged, his big eyes excited and filled with boundless energy. "I can see Santa's workshop, an' I gotta ask him for one thing."

Henry didn't seem to care either way. He was having fun playing his favorite game with her: Tossing his toy out of his stroller and making her pick it up for the eightieth time that afternoon.

"Jack. I think your daddy would want to take you to see Santa," she explained, staring down at the big north pole display at the far end where Jack was heading with her.

Jack gave her a look like she was a crazy woman. "He did awready. I just forgot to ask him for somethin'."

With that, he bolted down the mall hallway with the speed and agility of a running back.

Sighing, Penelope took off after him, bumping into many other shoppers that turned to glare at her. By the time she caught up with Jack, he was already standing in the massively long line to see Santa. There were many other kids, all dressed up, waiting to see the ever famous man in red.

Pen took a glance around the mall, finally taking in the decorations. It really was beautiful, now that she took the time and looked. There were huge white pretend snowflakes that were glittering among blue and silver frosted ribbons. Cherubic angels floated with their adult counterparts, looking mischievous and joyful. They looked remarkably real, which surprised Penelope.

Guess this mall wasn't hit with the recession, she mused to herself.

Even the Santa's workshop/North Pole display looked like the genuine article. There were little people in green suits, happily hammering away at a bunch of wooden toys. There was this smell of gingerbread, along with the faint smell of true peppermint. Penelope even wrapped her arms around herself; there was a cool breeze coming from the display.

The line was moving quickly and efficiently, and soon she, Henry and Jack were behind the tensa barrier, about number ten in line.

"There he is!" Jack said excitedly, jumping up and down, pointing and squealing at Santa like she would at David Bowie.

"I know, honey, I-"

When she looked up, she was dumbfounded. One look and she knew exactly why Jack was so taken by him. This Santa...whoa, he really looked like the genuine article. His snowy white beard was thick and real, on his slightly reddened nose was a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles. His red velvet suit was in perfect shape, despite hundreds of little butts that sat on his lap. She was duly impressed.

When they made it up to the front of the line, Jack burst past the attendant taking the money.

"Santa!" he cried, launching himself at the jolly old elf.

"Ho ho ho!" he answered, hugging Jack, not the slightest bit upset at the little boy's enthusiasm.

"Santa, I hafta tell you somethin' I forgot. Can I tell you the secwet?"

"Oh, of course, Jack," Santa said, picking the little boy up and putting him on his knee. He craned his ear towards the little boy. "Now, what is the news?"

Whispering secretively, Jack told him the surprise he couldn't wait to say, and Santa's eyes lit up. Even Henry was squirming in his stroller, ready to jump out and run towards the jolly old elf.

It was so sweet, it made Penelope somewhat wistful. She'd been feeling a little down the whole day. She was starting to wonder if it would ever be her turn, if she would ever have children to put on Santa's lap, children that would get as excited as Jack and Henry did.

Lately, she'd been discussing with Kevin taking their relationship to the next level. She knew she wanted more in life, wanted more than what she'd had. In particular, a hubby and kids. It wasn't that she was depressed-She was happy-but she felt somewhat unfulfilled.

Kevin hadn't seemed that interested in discussing it, and her heart, along with her Christmas spirit, unfortunately plummeted.

After he was done, he climbed down from Santa's lap and ran off to the elf nearby that was holding a peppermint stick.

Penelope brought Henry up, who smiled a beaming grin at Santa for the cameras, and then toddled back to her.

The nearest elf came over. "Can I take him for a candy cane?"

Pen laughed and shook her head. "Sure."

After all, what was one more pile of sugar in an already sweet little boy?

"Well, hello there, Auntie P," Santa said with a jolly chuckle.

She turned and smiled back. "Hi, Santa." Then she thought for a minute more as an idea struck. "Hey...Can I ask you something?"

"Of course!" he replied, with that same jolly grin.

"What did Jack just ask you for? I'd love to get him that for a present."

"Oh, ho. No, no," he said, giving her a chastising look. "That is between Jack and Santa."

She grumbled, feeling piqued. That was taking the Santa act a bit far, wasn't it?

Santa was now officially a jerk.

"But...I will make you a deal," he said, narrowing his eyes at her.

"What?" she grudgingly asked.

He patted his lap. "If you come up here, sit on my lap, and tell me what you truly want for Christmas, I will tell you what Jack wished for."

Huffing, Pen moved closer, then took a seat on the old pervert's lap. She figured that was what he had to be, since he requested that she, a grown woman, sit on his knee.

Penelope plopped down on his velvet covered knee and immediately images started pouring through her mind. She thought about how lonely she'd been recently. She was hoping for love, marriage, babies...and how badly she really wanted that.

She had to take charge. She had to get Kevin to marry her and get him thinking. She had no other choice.

Before she could stop herself, she said, "I want to marry my true love."

Santa eyes twinkled behind his little glasses, along with a hopeful smile. "This is what you want most, Penelope?"

"Yes," she whispered, nodding. Her eyes grew misty, then she scoffed at herself, wiping the moisture away. "That is silly, isn't it?"

"No, not silly," he said, stroking his beard. "Not silly at all."

She grumbled. "If only I could get him to think that..."

"Oh, you will!" he said, nodding. "I'm pretty sure he already loves you."

"Yeah, I think he does," she said, shrugging. "But he doesn't seem interested right now."

He chuckled, his big belly shaking like the proverbial bowl of jelly. "Oh, no, no, no. He is. He wants the same things. The time is far closer than you think."

She gave him an odd look, realizing she'd been chatting seriously with this guy in the red suit. There was something strange about this Santa...and what on earth was he talking about? "Excuse me?"

"Off my knee, young lady," he said, giving her a bounce that made her stand, then he winked at her. "Jack asked for a storm trooper like his Uncle Reid has."

Penelope stood on the stage, having a feeling that she'd just been buffaloed by Santa.

"Now remember," he called out to her, his twinkling eyes serious and solemn. "You make your own Christmas spirit. Surround yourself with those you care about...and make their spirits bright, too, and you'll get what you wish for."

Frowning, she wandered off to the side, took a peppermint stick, and walked off the stage to get her pictures.