Title –A Pirate's Promise
Summary – Jack wants to be a pirate for Halloween, and his dad has the perfect addition to his costume. But there's a story behind the old feathered hat…
Rating – T
Comments – I'm writing Hotch. What a surprise. Not like I've ever done it before…
If you have young children you might recognize the song lyrics. If not they are from a Disney Jr. cartoon called Jake and the Neverland Pirates (in which Jake looks suspiciously like a young Jack Sparrow.) My daughter, who is almost two and was a pirate this year, loves the heck out of this song.
Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story.
"Scallywags and buccaneers, away!
Sayin' what I got to say
But in a pirate way."
Aaron Hotchner could here his son singing along with the television in the living room from all the way in the kitchen where he was cooking there breakfast. He laughed to himself as flipped the blueberry pancake, proud of himself for not burning four out of the seven he had attempted. Perhaps Jessica was right, he was improving. His pancakes would be even better, perhaps even competition for his brother Sean, if he had more opportunity to practice. Saturday mornings like this one was often the only chance he got to hone his cooking abilities, and to spend with Jack.
"I talk like a pirate
Wherever I go."
"Jack," Aaron called, "Turn the TV down, it's almost time for breakfast."
Jack ran into the kitchen and smiled widely up at his father. "Aye-aye, captain!"
Aaron burst into laughter. "What?"
"I talk like a pirate, Daddy. YAR!"
"Okay," the dad responded, still laughing, then cleared his throat. He turned away from the stove to face Jack and made his best pirate face, meaning a very bad one. "Ye need yer breakfast, little matey. Quiet on deck."
Jack's face lit up with a wide smile. "Where did you learn to talk like a pirate, Daddy?"
"Well," he cocked an eyebrow mischievously and knelt down to be eye-level with the six-year-old. "Your daddy used to be a pirate."
The little blonde boy's eyes widened. "Wow, really?"
Aaron smiled and nodded. "Now go turn down the TV,"
Daddy used to be a pirate. Those words just popped out without Aaron even thinking. He hadn't been a real pirate, but he had played a (horrible) one in high school. By his own spontaneous words, Aaron was reminded that the time was coming soon when he would need to tell Jack how he and Hailey met. Moments afterward he realized something more immediately pressing: that burning smell was coming from the pancakes.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Daddy,' Jack asked as he finished the last bite of pancake, "I think I know what I want to be for Halloween."
"Really? What's that?"
"I want to be a pirate with a sword and a hat and eye patch and everything!"
"You want to be a pirate?"
Aaron laughed. "Okay, we'll go today and get you costume."
Suddenly Aaron had a feeling come over him, one that has never been named. It's the feeling you get when you've put off doing something that had to be done and you realize in one instant that you're approaching a deadline.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Jack, are you ready?" Aaron called from the kitchen down the hall to his son's room. He smiled when he heard a frustrated sigh.
"Daddy, the hat that came with the costume is too small." The boy stepped out into the hall to revile his costume. The tattered black pants came just below the knee, and the shirt/vest combo top looked about three sizes too big. In Jack's hand was the hat that was nothing more than a foldable piece of foam.
Aaron took the hat and examined it thoughtfully. This hat was indeed too small.
"I can't be a pirate without a hat, daddy."
"It's okay, buddy. You look great."
"No," the six-year-old buccaneer insisted. "I need a hat to be a real pirate!"
The daddy thought for a moment. He could…no. If he dug out that old thing, he would have too tell Jack where he got it, and that would mean…
But he had promised. It was the last promise he ever made to Hailey, and even though he broke almost all of the promises he made before that day, he couldn't put off keeping this one any longer. Jack was ready, even if his father wasn't.
Tonight, before they left for trick-or-treating, he was going to tell Jack how he and Hailey met.
"You know, Jack, I might have just the thing."
. . . . . . . . . .
"Wow, where did you get that!" jack exclaimed when Aaron emerged from the bedroom with a black pirate hat adorned with a scull and crossbones and red feather.
"I told you, Daddy used to be a pirate."
Jack took the hat and placed it on his head. It was too big, but at least it might stay on his head, and it made him happy to have his daddy's hat.
"Be careful, Jack. That hat is very old?"
"How old?" he asked, taking off the hat to look at it again.
Aaron sighed and knelt down in front of Jack.
"Jack, Let me tell you a little story, okay?"
This was it.
"I was in high school," he began. "I was walking down the halls and I accidentally found the theatre club; the kids that put on plays. I saw this one girl and thought to myself 'she is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.' It was your mother." He paused then to gauge Jack's reaction. The child was listening intently, so he continued. "I wanted an excuse to meat her, so the next day I went in, joined the club, and auditioned for a play called Pirates of Penzance. I was cast as pirate number four and I was the worst pirate in history." Jack laughed a little at this, making Aaron smile. "At the cast party after the first performance, I asked your mom to be my girlfriend. She said no. So after the matinee a asked her again, and again she said no. So I said to myself, if she turns me down next time I wont ask her again. And backstage after the last performance I asked her to be my girlfriend one more time, and she said yes."
After a few silent moments soaking in everything his father had told him, Jack asked, "So that's how you met Mommy?"
Aaron nodded. "And that's why I still keep that hat, to remind me to tell you all of the wonderful things about your mother and I."
Jack nodded thoughtfully, looking wise beonde his years. "But you said you weren't a very good pirate?"
"I was a horrible pirate," he confirmed.
Jack put the hat back on his head and hugged his dad tightly. "Maybe you were a bad pirate, but you're a really good daddy."
Aaron squeezed his eyes and swallowed hard to stop himself from crying. He took a deep breath and hugged Jack back. "Do you want to go get candy now?"
Jack released his father and nodded.
"Alright, let's go get candy."
I find in old age that it's possible to revisit the past, the one requirement being that you come as you are.