Chapter Six

While the others had gotten to work, Hotch had moved directly to his son. He knew the young man had been hurt, so he'd prepared himself for what he would find. Unfortunately, it hadn't stopped the bottom of his stomach from falling out or his heart from clenching painfully when he saw Jack.

"Jack…"

Hotch's son smiled a bit wobbly up at his dad. The pain was becoming clearly visible beneath the mask Jack had tried to keep in place.

"Hi, dad."

Agent Hotchner nearly sagged in relief at Jack's light hearted greeting, his own well controlled exterior cracking. He knelt down and started methodically checking Jack's injuries. Doing it was routine and helped him replace his own solidity. The facial cuts weren't too bad and probably wouldn't need stitches, though they would definitely bruise. Hotch turned to his son's arm, gently peeling Jack's fingers away. He felt Jack wince beneath his touch and continue shaking slightly. Possible shock. In fact, Hotch wouldn't be surprised if that was exactly what it was.

"Jack, I need you to focus on me, alright?"

At Jack's nod, Hotch searched the room for his closest agent.

"Prentiss! Get me a medic!"

Emily's head whipped toward him. She gave her boss a curt nod and rushed for the door. Once he knew medical help was on the way, Hotch returned to his son's injury. He'd managed to roll the sleeves of Jack's suit up and found the bullet had impacted Jack's bicep and lodged there. It wasn't bleeding profusely, but Hotch wanted it stemmed completely.

"Mr. Hotchner?" Krista asked tentatively, her face ghost white from fear. "Will he be okay?"

Hotch glanced up from his son's arm and watched her intently for a moment before nodding. She still looked like she was too afraid to leave the safety of the other students and move closer to where Tucker had been, which was where Jack was now.

"He'll be fine, Krista. I'll make sure of it."

He nodded to Rossi who was standing nearby, slowly directing students out of the main doors. Rossi caught Hotch's eye and immediately understood what his friend wanted of him. After sending a few more students out the door, he started toward Hotch.

"You go with Agent Rossi and leave Jack to me," Hotch told his son's girlfriend.

Krista nodded, reassured by Hotch's calm conviction and Jack's wobbly smile, and hurried toward Rossi. Knowing Krista was in good hands, Hotch turned his attention back to his son straight away.

"Dad?" Jack whispered when he felt his father firmly close his hands over the bullet wound to apply pressure. "I'm sorry."

Hotch's eyes lifted to meet Jack's, his expression hard and unreadable. Jack continued.

"For making you worry."

The tide of emotions inside of Hotch broke free. He was so proud of his son, yet sickened Jack had to experience any of this. It never should have happened, and yet… what Jack had done was more than he saw from some agents. He'd stood up to a classmate with a gun while remaining calm and in control. He'd protected his girlfriend, and what was more, he'd taken a bullet for her. Jack's behavior and strength of will had set the tone for the other students. He had taken most of the heat and not panicked. How could the others not do the same?

Hotch reached up and placed a hand on his son's shoulder while firmly meeting Jack's eyes.

"I am so proud of you, Jack. What you did in here, in the situation you were in, it's amazing. It's what I would expect from some of my best agents. You're not an agent, and you're only seventeen."

He smiled openly at his son, the deep honesty of his words shining through the smile and ringing in the tone of his voice.

"You better be proud of yourself because I don't think there's been one moment in my life where I've been prouder to be your father."

A single tear slipped down Jack's face and the soft sob that escaped was quickly turned into a laugh. It wasn't like Jack to cry, but what his father had said really hit him hard and meant the world to him. Jack wrapped his good around his dad, pulling him into a hug. He could feel his father give him a few solid claps on the back before pulling away.

"I'm really proud you're my dad, too."

Hotch smiled warmly and nodded to his son before glancing at the medics who had just arrived. He turned back to Jack and squeezed his shoulder once more. There was no way he was ever going to forget this moment.

"Let's get you taken care of."

*0*0*0*0*

"You're hurt!" Henry cried out when he saw his mom limping toward him. She'd apparently been hiding it the whole time and even now was refusing his godfather's offer of support.

"And why don't you have any shoes on?" he added.

JJ just gave him a calm, reassuring smile like it wasn't a big deal. And it wasn't.

One sprained ankle for the lives of over 280 students, her son's and boss' son's included, was a good deal in her book. She could hardly have asked for better.

Henry rushed to her side, refusing to allow her to hobble the extra few feet to him. JJ reached out for him, doing her best to hold back tears. He didn't need to see her cry even if it was just in relief. Instead she focused on some of her anger at him.

"You stupid, reckless kid!" JJ growled before she threw her arms around Henry's neck. It was incredibly awkward since he was over a head taller than she was without heels on. Henry took pity on his mom and bent down closer so she didn't have to be quite so high up on her tip toes.

"God," JJ continued when she finally released him. "I can't believe you purposefully tried to piss him off!"

Henry blushed and looked away. He knew she wasn't really mad at him. At least not really he hoped.

"I couldn't let him spot you."

"I'm the one who's supposed to be protecting you! You could have been killed!" JJ countered, putting quite a bit of emphasis on the last word.

"So could you," Henry answered matter-of-factly.

"Of all the foolish, stubborn, idiotic, brave things you could have done…"

Tears glistened in JJ's eyes. She could never be truly angry at him for this. He had made her so proud of him. JJ couldn't even put it into words. If Henry hadn't said something when he had, Tucker would have seen her. JJ knew that. She had absolutely no doubt that she would have been shot on the spot the second that happened, and Tucker would have killed her. Henry had saved her life. Her little boy had stepped right up into the face of danger for her, and she could never have asked that of him. He'd made the choice all on his own and gone above and beyond anything she'd ever hoped to see from him. It was incredible.

While she knew what Henry felt about any displays of maternal affection around his friends, JJ couldn't resist catching Henry's face between her hands and pulling him down so she could plant a gentle kiss on his forehead.

"When did you grow up so much?" she whispered, pride and a touch of sadness sparkling in her eyes and voice.

Henry just smiled and shrugged again.

"I had a good teacher."

JJ sniffed and ran a hand quickly over her eyes to wipe away any wayward tears before they fell. She was just so proud of this young man standing in front of her, because a young man he was.

"I love you, Henry, and I'm so very proud of you."

Henry smiled sheepishly, a twinkle in his eyes as he teased back. "Even if you think I'm an idiot?"

JJ swatted her son's arm, tears glittering in her eyes again. She knew he was teasing her.

"Of course. Always."

"Love you too, Mom, even if sometimes I think you're an idiot too. I mean, putting your gun away when his was still trained on you? Come on!"

"I would like to think I still know what to do in that type of situation better than you do," JJ reminded with a smile.

Henry beamed back at her. Before long he, JJ, and Reid were chuckling softly. The laughter died soon enough, mother and son taking a moment to watch each other again. Everything was alright now.

Reid gave his godson's arm a squeeze, showing the young man how proud he was too without a word.

Adele slipped out from around Henry, tears pouring down her face, and tossed herself into JJ's arms. JJ wobbled at first but quickly regained her balance and offered her son's girlfriend the comfort she needed. A moment later JJ felt a hand touch her shoulder and glanced behind her.

"I'll take her, Jayje," Emily promised. "You should go get checked out."

JJ nodded and helped Emily gently peel Adele away. She turned back to Henry who was watching her determinedly.

"What?" she demanded.

"I'm taking you to see the paramedics, and you're going to let me and Uncle Spencer help you get there." It was said in a very no nonsense, no questions asked type of voice.

JJ sighed. "Okay."

Henry's eyes widened in surprise at his mom's easy acceptance and slipped his arm around her to take most of her weight before she could change her mind. As they were walking slowly toward where the medics were finishing with Jack, Henry couldn't help his curiosity. He had to ask.

"Really, why don't you have shoes on?"

JJ glanced up at him and smiled brightly.

"Shoes make noise. It's much quieter to walk barefoot. I couldn't let myself get spotted early and force my son to play hero now could I?"

Henry's face blushed to a deep red. She had to be teasing him about the whole "hero" thing, right?

Right?


Author's Note: And there you have it! The end! Of course it's not the end of me writing. I've got another story already set to go, though it's SVU and not Criminal Minds this time. Never fear though, I'm already starting to write an SVU and Criminal Minds crossover and have some other ideas in mind for later stories too.