Aaron Hotchner felt great. For the first time in about a month, he was able to meet Jack getting off of the bus. There would be no case to at take him away for at least 24 hours, unless the Bureau would like him to become a killer as well. He smiled with delight as he saw his young son jump the last step of the bus and land squarely on his feet. The child looked up, and a smile lit his face as he saw his father.
"Hey, Dad." The boy grasped his father's hand unashamed, so rare was the occasion he had to take Aaron's hand.
"So, bud, I'm all yours for the next couple hours. I was promised the whole weekend, but you know how that goes," Aaron rolled his eyes as he explained the situation, although Jack was well aware – he even stepped extra heavy on the ground to show his displeasure for the 'situation'.
"Okay," he also knew that, when promised a weekend, Dad usually got a good day out of it. And Aaron had only missed one soccer game and only three practices, which was really great when Jack thought about how many soccer games were missed in the past.
The boy's mood sobered slightly when he thought about the past, and the death that had occurred so violently in it. Aaron hardly noticed, his thoughts were brimming with the weekend. He was so determined to have the whole weekend, and he was so determined to do everything that Jack normally wouldn't be allowed to do. Spring was here, and it had filled Aaron with the more positive feelings that the head of the BAU was not usually associated with.
"How about some fried chicken for supper?" Aaron offered. "My treat." He knew that Jack's aunt always made him eat healthy.
"Actually," Jack scuffed his sneakers as they walked to the front door, "can we have some McDonald's instead?"
"That sounds even better," Aaron indulged.
It was three hours later that Aaron left Jack, who was sitting at the table working on his multiplication tables. He returned a total of twenty minutes later, a Big Mac in one hand, and a Happy Meal –with a racecar toy – firmly in the other. Jack was in the same place he was when Aaron left, the kitchen table.
The math sheets were pushed aside, the pencil had rolled clumsily to the floor. Jack was curled around himself in the kitchen chair, hugging his knees. A pale pink sheet of construction paper was in front of him instead.
"What's that bud?" Aaron asked, placing the bags on the table and turning to get plates.
"It's what it's not," Jack replied sullenly.
Aaron noticed the change in his young boy's tone. Something was upsetting his son. Aaron spun a swiftly around, kneeling by Jack's chair. "And what it isn't it?"
"What it's supposed to be," Jack looked away from his father, avoiding the question. He had meant to keep this a secret from his dad. He knew that Aaron had suffered enough.
"And what," Aaron continued patiently, giving Jack time, "is it supposed to be?"
"We were supposed to make Mother's Day cards in art class today," Jack finally admitted.
"Oh," Aaron breathed in the moment of understanding.
"I didn't know what to put," Jack persisted, ignoring the noise his father made, "because you can't make a Mother's Day card for a Mom who's not there. I know she's here," Jack placed a hand on his heart, "but she's not here." He waved to the physical world. "You can't send a message to heaven."
Aaron considered for the briefest moment. "Who says you can't send a message to heaven?" He challenged. McDonald's all but forgotten, he scooped up Jack and the pink construction paper and carried them to his desk. Once there, he pulled out markers and stencils and some glitter glue.
Jack reluctantly touched a marker, but drew back. "What can I do?" He wailed. "She can't see it. She'll never see it." His rage and frustration poured into the words. "She is dead. DEAD! And no Mother's Day card will change that."
"It's not about changing it, Jack. It's about accepting that, though she's gone, she is still a part of your life. She's everywhere Jack. And, I know that, somehow, she'll see it."
Jack bit his cheeks, considering the words. He picked up the blue marker and played with it. He manipulated it in his hands, so small compared to his father's. He took the cap off of the marker, and placed it to the paper.
Jack began his message to heaven.