To celebrate Halloween, I wrote a small team-fic, coda to 6x06 "Devil's Night" and where the team finds out about Jack's costume. A year after the episode was aired, I know, but I just had this idea recently. Anyway, enjoy it and remember, any comment or criticism will be appreciated.
Also, thanks to Nebula2 for the initial beta. Any remaining mistakes are my own.
I don't own Criminal Minds or any of his characters.
Title: For Want Of A (Real) Hero.
"Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice." - Author Unknown.
The echoes of high heels clicking against the floor followed Penelope Garcia as she walked toward the bullpen. The Technical Analyst smiled and exchanged greetings with a few people she came across, but didn't stop until she reached her destination.
"Oh my lovely stuffed friends, I think I'm going to explode after seeing so much sweetness today."
Prentiss looked up at her, as did Morgan and Reid. The first two grateful for the distraction from the remaining paperwork from their last case, while the resident genius looked away from his book, paperwork finished long ago.
"Were you looking baby pandas photos again, Baby Girl?" Morgan asked with a smile, leaning back in his chair.
"Not today, handsome," She said with a flirty smile. "We all know baby panda photos are cute, but this is even cuter. Like, one hundred percent cuter."
Curiously, the three watched as Penelope raised her hand, presenting a large album with a flourish.
Reid wrinkled his nose, looking at the colorful object.
"This, my lovely Boy Genius is the photographic evidence of the first real Halloween of our little BAU Baby."
"Umm, Garcia. Are you talking about Henry? Because this isn't his first Halloween. I mean, he was born November 12, 2008, so technically this is his second Halloween."*
The blonde arched an eyebrow at him. "Did you just suggest I don't know the date of birth of my own godson, Doctor Reid?"
Morgan and Prentiss shared an amused look when they saw the panicked expression on Reid's face.
"What! No, of course not, I was just ..." Reid started, just to be cut off by her.
"It's fine, pumpkin. I know you couldn't possibly mean that."
"See? I knew you didn't."
Prentiss rolled his eyes, but there was a smile on her face. "What were you saying about Henry?"
"Oh. Right, Back on topic. As I was saying before being interrupted by a certain person I shall no name," She sent a warm smile in Reid's direction to soften the words, watching the younger man lowered his gaze, embarrassed. "This is the first real Halloween for our small Sugarlump because Jayje finally agreed to buy him a costume this year and I have all the evidence right here."
The album was covered in a light baby blue paper, which was almost completely covered with stickers, ribbons, pompoms and little colorful dangles of different shapes like stars and rocket ships. It had a big blue ribbon on the side. In the center, with big shiny golden letters was written 'Henry'.
Penelope had two more albums just like this one, both completely made by her.
A light green one was of Jack, with considerably fewer pictures since she couldn't demand cute photos of little Jack from her boss. Fortunately, the team met up sometimes and she got to see mini Hotch and take all the photos she wanted. Hotch had also trusted her to act as babysitter a few times when Jessica wasn't available, and that was how she managed to fill a few pages of the album little by little.
The older album, a large, colorful one was filled with photos of her family. The team. The photos in it had been taken mostly by her over the years, some even of Elle and Gideon. Most of the photos were taken at the Christmas parties held every year in the BAU or some other gatherings, as well as the few moments they had the chance to relax a little and Penelope was around. A few had been provided by Derek, the person in charge of taking photos when the team was out on a case.
"Wait, wasn't Halloween just yesterday? How did you get the pictures so fast?" Prentiss questioned.
"Well, when Jayje told me she and Will planned to buy a costume for our little bambino, I told her that as Henry's godmother, it was my duty to see photos of the big moment as soon as possible, and that if she didn't send them first thing in the morning I would be in the unfortunate position of having to hack her Photobug* account to see them," Penelope said, giving them her most innocent and sweet look.
Morgan shook his head with a smile. "You, Baby Girl, are a powerful and dangerous lady."
"You don't want to know just how dangerous I can be, gorgeous," Garcia said with a flirty look. "But alas, there was no need to use my skills since Jayje sent me the photos last night."
"Can we see them?"
"Of course you can see them, honey. That's why I'm here." Garcia opened the album and Prentiss, Morgan and Reid hunched close to see it, forming a half circle around her.
"God Pen, this is beautiful!" Prentiss exclaimed the moment she saw it.
Garcia had made a collage of all the photos, decorated with glitters and paper cut in the shape of pumpkins, bats, and other Halloween-themed figures.
In the middle were four photos. The first was of Henry, sitting in what looked like a couch; laughing at the camera and dressed in his cute lion costume. The second photo was taken outside, with JJ holding Henry in her arms as he gave his mother a kiss on the cheek. There was another one, with Will and Henry looking at each other. And then there was one of the three together (Penelope's personal favorite). JJ and Will were holding Henry among them, the three smiling happily. There were some smaller pictures posted around as well.
"Isn't he the most beautiful and cute little boy in the whole wide world?" Penelope asked, smiling down at the photos.
Prentiss laughed. "He definitely is. Can I have a copy of these too? I'm sure it could be quite useful to chase away the bad dreams."
"Of course you can, sweet cheeks, I'll make a copy for you as soon as I return to my Castle of Information and Knowledge. What about you, Genius? Don't you want one of this sweetness too?" Reid opened his mouth to answer, but Garcia spoke before he could say a word. "Just remember, any good godfather should have every major and significant moment of his godson's live properly documented."
"Umm ... yes, I would like a copy too."
Before Garcia could ask Morgan, Hotch walked toward the group, an empty coffee mug in his hand.
"Everything okay?" He asked, frowning slightly as he looked at the small group.
"Yeah, everything's okay. PG was just showing us some photos of Henry." Prentiss answered, nodding at the album in Garcia's hands.
"Here," Garcia said, walking toward Hotch's side and shoving the album into his hands. "It is my sacred duty as Henry's godmother to show all my beloved crime fighters these lovely photos."
A small but genuine smile tugged at the corner of Hotch's mouth at the sight of the little boy in his lion's costume.
"Isn't he the cutest cutie cute child in the whole world?"
Hotch's small smile turned a touch wry. "He is,"
There was a hint of humor in his tone, almost imperceptible that made Penelope look at him more closely, and then it hit her. "Oh." Right, he had a little boy too, which he probably thought was the cutest child in the world.
"Well, one of the two cutest boys in the world, sir."
Hotch said nothing to that, handing the album back to her.
"Oh! And how did it go this fine Halloween night for the two Hotchner's boys, O Captain, My Captain?"
"Yeah," Prentiss said, attention turning to their team leader. "You mentioned in the plane Jack didn't want to dress up as Spider-Man anymore."
"Wait! What? I just saw my little buttercup last week and he was thrilled to be Spider-Man, he even showed me his costume! What happened?" Garcia demanded, speaking a little too fast.
Hotch lifted a hand as it to appease her. "I don't know. He just told me he didn't want to be Spider-Man because he wasn't a real superhero."
There was a moment of silence as several degrees of surprise appeared on each of their faces, quickly followed by proud or just content smiles. It was a statement far too mature for a little five-year-old to make, after all.
It was Penelope Garcia who broke the silence, drawing the attention of everyone.
"You are responsible for this, aren't you, Doctor Reid?" Garcia asked, pointing her index finger in the accused's direction.
"What!? No!" Reid shouted, eyes wide. He looked at his teammates with a slightly panicked look before swallowing hard and looking back at her.
She narrowed her eyes. "Don't try to play games with me, Boy Genius. I may not have an eidetic memory, but I still remember the tragic episode of the tooth fairy."
Morgan tried to cover his laugh, remembering all too well what Penelope called 'The tragic episode of the tooth fairy'.
It happened during Henry's last birthday party where somewhere among his rambling and magic tricks, Reid let escape in front of Jack the fact that the tooth fairy did not exist.
Thanks to Prentiss' intervention and Will's quick suggestion that Jack should ask his father about that, they got the situation under control.
To say Garcia had been angry was a total underestimation. She took her role as godmother (even honorary in Jack's case) very seriously and she acted as if the younger agent had just kicked a puppy, or worst as if he had done some damage to any computer in the Analyst's lair. Penelope had been ready to destroy Pretty Boy in the best way she knew. In the cyberspace.
JJ and Morgan worked to calm her with some success then, and the fact that after talking with his father, Jack wasn't really upset helped even more. Finally, Garcia had forgiven Reid after the Boy Genius had sworn over and over again that he would never do anything like that ever again to Jack or Henry.
Looking at the upset face of his usually bubbly friend, he hoped for Reid's sake that he hadn't had anything to do with the sudden change of Jack Hotchner's costume.
"I didn't do anything! I haven't even seen Jack since that gathering you organized three months ago." Reid defended himself awkwardly.
"Reid is right. He hasn't seen Jack since then," Hotch corroborated quietly, earning a relieved sigh from the younger agent.
Penelope's expression relaxed immediately and she gave him an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, sweet cheeks, but with your record, I had to be sure."
Reid nodded slowly, blushing a little when the blonde blew him a kiss.
"So, my Junior G-Man didn't want to be Spider-Man because he isn't a real superhero, so, what was his costume?" She asked, looking back at Hotch. "He couldn't dress like me, 'The Goddess of all Known and Unknown', because well, he's a boy. So what was it? A firefighter maybe? They're real heroes."
"He chose the best costume, if you ask me," A familiar voice called. They turned to see Rossi, standing outside of his office with his hands resting on the railing. "He dressed up as his father."
Hotch shot him a look, but Dave just shrugged it away with a smug smile on his face.
One might think that after all these years, Hotch should have learned that if he didn't want people to know something, he shouldn't tell David Rossi.
This morning Dave came into his office, sitting in his usual chair and asking how things had gone the night before. Hotch told him what Jack said and the costume he chose to wear. And along with that, he confided Dave his doubts, the ones that always plagued him, but that were stronger that night after returning and putting Jack to bed.
Dave hadn't said anything then, but knowing him, Hotch guessed this was his friend's way of reassuring him. Great.
Hotch hadn't planned to tell the team. He was simply going to tell them Jack decided to dress up as an FBI agent and nothing more, even if he knew they probably would have assumed it was because of him. It was an honor he didn't feel he deserved. He didn't feel worthy of the way in which his little boy looked up to him. It wasn't right. How could a parent who was barely at home be his son's hero?
The rest of the team, unaware of the exchange between the oldest agents, only smiled broadly.
"Oh my gosh! He's the sweetest little boy. I can totally imagine him with his little suit and tie. He must have looked adorable." Penelope squealed excitedly.
Dave grinned, walking down the stairs and into the bullpen to join the others.
"I have to agree with Dave here. Jack couldn't have chosen a better costume," Prentiss assured him with a smile.
"They're right man," Morgan added from where he was standing, while Reid nodded at his side.
Hotch ducked his head a little at the unexpected recognition, hiding the faint blush he could feel spreading across his face.
Emily looked at Dave with a raised eyebrow as the older man came to stand next to Hotch.
"I cannot wait to see my little pumpkin again. I'm going to give him lots of hugs and kisses and make him put on his costume again to take hundreds of photos." Garcia told the team.
"I think you all have work to get back to," Hotch said after clearing his throat. He turned around then, effectively forgetting the coffee he was going to get and heading back to his office instead.
They all watched him go with confused and dimmed expressions. Garcia returned her gaze to Rossi after a moment.
"Is there any physical evidence of that moment, Agent Rossi?"
Rossi shrugged. "I don't know. Probably."
"He didn't want us to know, did he?" Morgan asked.
Rossi ignored the other man's question, nodding to the album in Penelope's hands. "What's that?"
She passed him the album distractedly, her mind already working on a way to find if there were indeed photos of Jack dressed as his dad, and a way to get her hands on them.
Penelope wondered if the Unity Chief maybe had a Photobug account.
"You will find that if you really try to be a father, your child will meet you halfway." - Robert Brault.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who read it. I hope you all have enjoyed, and as always feedback is appreciated. Thank you.
*We don't know the date of birth of Henry, so I just take the date in with the episode of his birth was aired. Also, Photobug is a fake site, created by the CM writers for the episode 5x08 "Outfoxed", and that JJ admitted she used.