Disclaimer – I own nothing in relation to Criminal Minds!
So I wasn't going to post this until I made a start on 'Rebuilding Bridges' but that isn't getting anywhere at the moment, so I thought I'd just start uploading this.
Warning- there is a character death(s).
Let me know what you think!
Elena Jareau-Hotchner looked at her reflection in the kitchen window as she sat at on the stool next to the island, in the middle of the large family kitchen, reminiscing of all the good times she had shared with her parents and two older brothers.
She shared her brothers' fair hair and mother's crystal blue eyes but more importantly, some would argue, she shared her father's personality.
Sure, each of the Hotchner children had learnt their stubbornness from Jennifer Jareau-Hotchner, but their father had given them their logic, patience and most of all their strength and courage.
If Aaron Hotchner hadn't had passed on his strength to his children, Elena was certain she wouldn't have made it through the day.
Turning her attention to the fragile seventy six year old woman, who was washing dishes, Elena sighed in heartfelt. "Mom, please let me help."
"Elena, how many times in your entire live have you helped me with the dishes?" The grey haired former agent smirked as she turned with one of her fancy crystal bowls in her hands.
The thirty nine year old chuckled knowingly at her mother's stubborn ways. "Has anyone ever told you how stubborn you are?"
"Of course, your father..." JJ's voice trembled slightly as she blinked off into the distance to force the tears away.
Elena stood and moved around the island so she was an arms-reach from her mother. "Oh mom, I'm sorry."
"Don't be sweetheart. The fact that it hurts so much is a good thing. You're supposed to hurt when you lose the love of your life." JJ placed the bowl onto the counter before cupping her daughter's cheek lovingly.
Stepping forward the Pennsylvanian placed a kiss onto her daughter's forehead and smiled sadly. "He loved you so much."
"I know." Elena could feel the tears falling down her cheeks.
JJ tilted her head before focusing on the room. It was messy but finally empty of all of their guests. "Where are the kids?"
"The kids went to bed a while ago. It's getting late." Elena replied warmly. Flashbacks of the times her dad had spent with her four children played over in her mind.
JJ nodded slowly. "Are Jack and Henry still here?"
"Henry's just dropping Aunt Pen and Uncle Kevin off home and Jack's sorting his room out for Lucy." Elena explained quickly.
JJ rolled her eyes sardonically. "You all have your own lives to be getting back too. There's no need to stay here."
"We want to be here mom." Elena answered softly.
"I'm a big girl." JJ retorted dryly.
The daughter shook her head and leaned against the kitchen counter. "Mom today was tough for all of us, we all want to be together, besides Dad wouldn't want us to leave you alone."
"Oh." JJ's eyes fell to the floor at the mention of her husband and allowed the tears to flow free.
Jack entered the kitchen and glared at his baby sister with the same look his father had perfected. "Elena you're supposed to be distracting her not making mom cry."
The eldest child enveloped his mom in a tight hug. "Mom, I'm so sorry."
JJ wiped her face dry with her hand and pulled back from her son's embrace. "It's not Elena's fault that I miss your dad, darling. I'm sorry for not being stronger. I'm supposed to be strong for you three."
"Mom, you've been our rock for the last forty odd years. It's our turn to be strong for you." Jack soothed as he held on to her shoulder.
"Your Dad's stoicism was one of his qualities we were hoping you all wouldn't inherit." JJ kissed Jack's cheek then hugged Elena reassuringly. "Has everyone left now?"
"Aunt Pen, Uncle Kevin and Uncle Spence were the last to leave." Jack answered softly.
JJ nodded once. "Good."
The three quickly got the kitchen tidied relatively quickly before Henry came walking through the door. "Aunt Pen says she and Aunt Emily are coming over in the morning."
"Of course she is." JJ rolled her eyes. "They're worse than you three."
Henry froze on the spot. "What did I do?"
"Your siblings have decided to take care of me, like I'm some kind of invalid."
"No-one called you an invalid mom, we want to be here." Jack smirked.
Henry chuckled dryly. "Mom we love you, but you have to get over the stubbornness thing."
"I'm not being stubborn, I'm being a mom." JJ retorted with a small smile.
JJ's baby boy, who was now forty five, came round to his petite mom and hugged her. "I love you mom."
"I love you too honey." JJ rose on her tip toes and kissed his cheek.
The small group silenced listening to the noises in the kitchen.
Somehow the house seemed quiet without him, even though he was by far the quietest. JJ smiled warmly, still sensing his presence near her. "We should go into the living room and leave the rest of the house till tomorrow."
The brothers and sister nodded their agreement while following their aged mom into the spacious sitting room.
Walking past the liquor cabinet, JJ retrieved four glasses and a bottle of scotch taking it to the coffee table to pour a drink for each of them. "I think we've earned a drink today."
The 'kids' all glanced at each other in amusement at the more than generous measure of alcohol in each of the glasses. They stood around the coffee table with the drinks in their hands as JJ raised hers in toast. "To my amazing husband of the last thirty eight years, I loved him more and more each day and I know he loved you three more than life itself. You made him so proud..."
Jack took over the toast as JJ's voice quivered. "To Dad."
"Dad." Henry and Elena chorused before the glasses clinked, sips and seats were taken.
Elena sat in the middle of her two older brothers on the couch while JJ sat in her husband's arm chair, wrapping the shawl that was hanging on the back the chair around herself as everyone composed themselves.
"Where are my children-in-law?" JJ asked as Henry mischievously poked Elena's arm, giving him a pointed look in return.
Jack sat forward to put his glass down. Paediatric specialist Dr Jack Hotchner, married another doctor, Lucy, who he met at his first residence as an intern and had two children with, their oldest son, Patrick was twelve and doted on his adopted younger sister, Hailey. "Lucy's reading in my room."
"Doug's with Natalia in my room snoring his head off, the last time I checked." Elena stated affectionately remembering the sight of her husband cuddling their three year old to sleep. Elena married an architect and had four children, relishing life as a stay at home mom determined for her own children to have one parent around at all times, unlike her childhood, where both her parents worked long hours for the FBI.
Henry nodded in unison. Henry one of DC's leading Federal Prosecutors, was in a relationship with Laura, an artist friend from college whose friendship blossomed into a secure relationship shortly after they graduated, however they hadn't married although they had a son, David together. "Laura and the baby were already out for the count when I went to Aunt Pen's."
JJ smiled thinly in contentment. Proud that she and Aaron had raised three well rounded children who had managed to find seemingly perfect partners.
JJ felt her mind wander back to reality and could feel the blood drain from her face. Her thoughts soon turned to the fact that her husband wouldn't see their grandchildren grow up.
"Mom, are you okay?" Elena asked in concern, seeing the elderly woman's pale face.
JJ ran a hand through her perfectly pinned up hair. "I'm fine, just thinking."
"You're thinking about Dad?" Jack asked slowly, aware of everyone's tethered emotions.
The matriarch nodded once. "Have I ever told you the story of how I met your father?"
The three Hotchner's on the couch shared a knowingly look. Henry rolled his eyes similarly to the way his mom regularly did. "Mom, we all know how you met Dad. You both worked together for the BAU."
"Dad was your boss but after my mom died and Henry's dad went to work in Texas you got closer. I remember the family nights." Jack added.
Elena sighed. "Dad thought you were the most beautiful and kind person he ever met and knew from your first kiss that he had to marry you."
JJ smiled widely at her children's statements. "The first time me and your Dad met, he told me I needed to get the hell out of his face to which I told him he was a pompous arrogant jerk, who needed to take the stick, or whatever it was, out of his ass before I did it for him."
Elena, Henry and Jack exchange confused glances at their mom's revelation. "What!"
Thanks for reading!