Title: The Five Things that Dave Learned the First Time Vacationing with Aaron and Jack

Challenge: The Great Alphabet Meme 2: V is for Vacation

Prompt by katewallace

Author: Kuria Dalmatia

Rating/Warnings: FRM/R (profanity, sexual situations, and awww…romance)

Characters/Pairing: Hotch/Rossi, Jack (Hotch/Rossi established relationship)

Summary: It's their first vacation as a family, and Dave has one hell of a learning curve.

Word Count: ~3,000

ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.

March 2011.

COMMENTS: Thanks to StarofOberon for the beta. Any mistakes left are mine. Semi-future fic. Jack is six in this fic and in Season 5, it was established he was four. No spoilers.

Feedback always welcome.

DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.


The First Thing: Never refer to the boarding kennel as Dog Jail even if Dave has been calling it that for years. Jack doesn't forgive easily, and when it comes to someone upsetting Jack, Aaron doesn't either. And Jack will let everyone know the reason why Mudgie is traveling with them is because Dave wanted to put the "bestest dog ever" in jail.

It's not the first time that Dave has started a vacation with his spouse pissed at him, but it's the first time that he's been given the silent treatment by a six-year-old. Even worse, the dog apparently decides to side with Aaron and Jack by ignoring him as well. The four-hour drive is tense and Dave seriously considers riding in the truck bed because in all these years, he's never managed to piss off inanimate objects. The Doritos are back there, too.

He does everything in his power to earn forgiveness. He's called the owner of the beach house and agrees to pay the extra hundred per night because he's now bringing a dog. When Jack insists they stop at Petsmart because Mudgie doesn't have "vacation things," Dave foots the bill for a new collar, leash, rawhide bones, a Frisbee, a doggie backpack with collapsible bowls and matching water bottles, two bandannas ("dog-dannas" the cashier coos when she rings them up), a beach towel, a doggie life preserver vest, and a new camp-friendly dog bed.

Dave knows that Aaron will give him hell about it because he's apologizing via credit card. He also knows that he can't win so he might as well die trying. And, hell, the one dog-danna with white bones against the red background is kinda cute.

Later, when Dave's punishment also includes Aaron in full PJs as they get ready for bed, Dave snaps, "My father would have told me to stop my crying and suck it up. The dog would have been at the kennel. Period."

To which Aaron replies, "My father would have gotten rid of the dog."

It's a low blow. It ignites his anger because Aaron can be downright bitchy when he wants to be, rivaling any woman that Dave has ever dated or married. So he fires back, "I fucked up, okay? You win. You happy? You should be, because I've been paying for it all goddamn day." Dave grabs the pillow and gets out of bed. "Both of you damn me to hell like … like … aw, fuck!" He leaves the room, because after three failed marriages, he has at least learned when to shut up and exit before making things worse.

It wouldn't be the first night on a vacation that he's been exiled to the couch. Hell, he seriously considers pitching the tent out on the beach because he can. Contrary to popular BAU belief, Dave's version of "roughing it" isn't a hotel without room service or an indoor pool, it is camping with only the things he can carry on his back.

But it's almost midnight and the camping gear is still in the truck. The couches in the living room are more for show than for comfort, so Dave ends up on the deck that faces the beach. Sleeping on a wooden lounge chair with negligible padding? He's endured worse. At least he has the ocean for background noise.

Dave stares at the moonlit beach. He hears the patio door open, Aaron's soft steps, and the door closes. Aaron settles in the chair next to him.

Finally, Aaron says, "I shelter him too much."

"You're trying too hard to avoid the mistakes your old man made."

"You're trying too hard to be the perfect parent."

"Have you met Mister Pot recently, Mister Kettle?"

That earns a snort and a long pause. "Come to bed, Dave."

"The only one who should be in the doghouse is the dog because he's a dog."

"I already said I was wrong."

Dave heaves out a sigh. "I had to get that last one in, you know. Because you're all dressed up when you're supposed to be naked in my bed."

"The shirt has buttons, Dave," Aaron retorts as he stands up. "And I'm not wearing anything underneath." He saunters back inside.

Dave stares at the beach, hating like hell that Aaron always seems one step ahead of him in the argument game but in the same breath giving thanks to God because Aaron is one step ahead of him.