Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and all its characters belong to CBS. I own nothing. I do not own anything you recognize.
Previously on Criminal Minds- She hoped Spencer came out of this soon. She wanted her friend back.
Jenny looked over at her friend and sighed. Two days…it had been two days since they'd rescued Spencer from his mean old kidnappers and he hadn't changed at all. He was still acting like a little baby. And Jenny was sick of it! Julie and their parents kept telling her to be patient and she had been. She really had. But the six year old was tired of being patient. She wanted her Spence back and she wanted him back now! Jenny put down her crayon and settled her head on her hands. How could she convince her friend to stop acting like a baby and go back to being the fun energetic boy she knew? She'd brought him toys from all the places her parents had taken her and she knew he liked them because the stuffed animals were scattered all around him. He always had one or two of them in his hands, too. Jenny picked her head up. Maybe if she brought him a big boy toy, he'd go back to his old self. Or maybe…the little girl grinned. She knew exactly what to do to get her friend back. Abandoning her coloring set, the determined girl jumped up and hurried over to the couch where Spencer was sitting. "Hey Spence guess what!" she cheerfully called. "Mommy and daddy are taking Julie and me to that Marketplace we went to when we got here. Remember that place, Spence? It has those water fountains we ran through and the giant Lego statues and that Lego store. You won that building contest, remember?" Jenny beamed as the little boy's eyes turned to focus on her. "You wanna go with us? Huh? I bet they still have that Harry Potter set you played with out on the explore tables."
"Jenny, I don't think…"
"Aaron look" Hailey whispered, nodding down at their son.
Looking down and seeing Spencer's eyes locked onto his little friend for the first time in days, Aaron smiled. Maybe the little girl was on to something after all. "You know what? I think that's a wonderful idea!" he told Jenny. "Why don't we have an early lunch and then go?"
"YES!" Jenny cheered, pumping her fist. "Hear that, Spence? You're going with us!"
Spencer giggled and clapped his hands, making the girl beam.
Jenny gave her best bud a hug and then rushed over to her mother and sister. "Come on mommy! We've gotta go fix sandwiches!" she shouted. Grabbing her mother's hand, she started dragging her towards the kitchen. "Hurry mommy! Hurry! I wanna go play at the Lego place with Spence!"
Chuckling at the little girl's enthusiasm, Aaron scooped up Spencer and headed for the bedroom. He needed to get his son ready to go out.
Jenny skipped happily along beside Mr. Hotchner. She was going to have her friend back in a few minutes! She just knew it! Sure the water fountains had been a bust. Spencer had merely crawled around in the watery playground. But Jenny wasn't going to let that disappoint her. The Lego store would bring her best bud out of his shell. She was certain of that. Grinning from ear to ear as said store came into view, Jenny whooped and doubled her pace. "Look Spence! There it is! There's the Lego store!"
The corners of Aaron's mouth curled up when his son's head turned in the direction the little girl was pointing. He wished he shared Jenny's optimism but that simply wasn't possible at this point. The worried father couldn't allow himself to believe the simple act of going into a store would bring his son back. As much as wished otherwise he knew it was going to take more than a room full of the boy's favorite toys to make Spencer feel safe enough to come back to them. He just hoped Jenny wouldn't be crushed when she came to that conclusion.
Julie happily walked ahead of the group. She couldn't be more pleased with Spencer's progress. Sure he wasn't back to his old self yet but he was rapidly making his way back. After all in just two days he'd gone from sitting on Mr. Hotchner's lap and staring at the man all day to allowing Mrs. Hotchner and Uncle Dave to hold him. And back at the water fountains he'd actually gotten down and crawled! Julie was sure with a little more patience and a lot of stimulation, the four year old would come back the rest of the way. And she was bound and determined to give the little boy just that. She'd read, play, prod, and do whatever else she needed to do to get through to him. Starting with…she reached out and opened the door to the Lego store. "Here we are, Spencer" Julie cheerfully said. "Your favorite store"
The group walked into the brightly lit store and looked around.
"This way!" Jenny called, racing over to the explore station on one side of the large room.
Aaron followed the excited girl to the play tables. Kneeling down beside her, he smiled at his son. "Spencer, would you like to play Legos with Jenny?" he asked.
Spencer giggled and clapped his hands.
"Alright buddy" Aaron said. He gently set the little boy on his feet in front of table. "Here you go."
Spencer shot his dad a dimpled grin and then turned to the table. He sank both hands in the bin of colorful blocks and wiggled his fingers. He moved his hands around giggling at the waves following his movements. Smiling, the four year old snatched up a handful of blocks and tossed them up. His smile widened. Spencer grabbed another handful and slowly 'rained' them back down. "Uh oh" he mumbled, snickering.
"Hi folks!" a cheery voice called out. "How's my little master builder?"
The adults turned to see Lexi, the employee who'd chosen Spencer for her champion just days before. "Afternoon Lexi" Rossi greeted. "How are you this fine day?"
"I'm having a great day!" Lexi replied with a grin. "Actually, I've had a great week thanks to a certain little genius. The guys have backed off me since Spencer won the contest. He really taught them a lesson."
"That he did." Rossi agreed.
"So how is my…"
"Not in your mouth, Spencer" Aaron instructed, taking the red block out of his son's hand. Seeing the boy's lower lip begin to tremble, the young father swiftly held out the boy's Goofy cup. "Here buddy, drink some of your icee."
"Ba ba!" Spencer hollered before clumsily taking the plastic cup, latching onto the straw, and starting to suck.
Lexi stared at her former champion in shock. "Wh-what happened to him?" she quietly asked.
"I'll tell you what happened!" Jenny growled, stomping her foot. "These bad men took him away from us and they scared him really bad and now he acts like a big baby! And, and I hate it!"
The adults watched stunned as the little girl stormed away from the group.
"I'll get her." Dave stated. He strode after the girl, doubling his pace when he saw he stomp out the door of the shop. He flew across the room and out the door. Spotting the six year old sitting on a bench right beside the store, Rossi let out the breath he'd been holding. After taking a second to calm down, the profiler slowly walked over and took a seat next to the distraught child. "Hey kiddo" he whispered, wrapping an arm around her. "It's okay."
"No, it's not!" Jenny disputed, shaking her head.
Dave drew the little girl in closer. "I know it doesn't seem like it right now, Sweet Pea. But he will get better. I promise." He assured her. "He's already gotten a little better."
Jenny shook her head once more. "Nun uh" she countered. "He hasn't gotten better. Spence is still acting like a dumb ole baby!"
"You're half right." Dave conceded. "Spencer is still acting like a baby. However he has made progress. When he first started the baby routine, he only let Aaron hold him. And he wanted to be held all the time. Aaron had to take him everywhere he went even the bathroom, remember?" That earned him a smile. "But now Hailey and I can carry him if we need to. And he even got down for a while."
"Yeah to crawl" Jenny spat out.
"At first" Dave agreed. "But think about it; when we got to the Lego store and Aaron set him down, what did he do?"
Jenny sadly looked up at her new uncle. "Nothing, Spencer just stood there and…" The little girl sucked in a breath. "He stood up! Spence stood up like a big kid! He's getting better! He really is!"
"That's right, kiddo" Dave replied, patting the girl's arm. "And he'll keep getting better with our help. So what do you say, Sweetness? Are you up to helping your best bud?"
"Yes sir!" Jenny enthusiastically answered.
"Well then, let's get back in there and get to helping." Rossi stated with a smile. Taking the now excited girl by the hand, he ushered her into the store.
The two families spent the rest of the day walking around the Marketplace. They took in the sites and shopped and even caught a Cirque du Soleil show before going to a child friendly restaurant to eat and then returning to their hotel. The mothers ushered the weary children into the rooms to take their baths while the fathers and uncle finished packing for the trip home. While they were a little sorry to see their mini vacation ending, all of them were more than ready to put this place behind them.
After their vehicles were packed and the youngest children were dressed for bed, the group trudged out to their vans and drove to the airport. Once they'd turned in the rentals, they boarded Gideon's friend's private jet and settled in for the long trip home.
The next morning Hotch crept around the bedroom as he readied for his first day back at work. He managed to shower and dress without waking his wife. Picking up his shoes, Aaron silently left the room. He peeked in on Spencer who was thankfully sleeping peacefully and then went downstairs. The BAU leader sat down on the couch to put on his shoes.
"You want me to fix some breakfast?" Hailey inquired as she walked down the stairs.
Aaron smiled up at his wife. "And here I thought I was being quiet." He joked.
Hailey smirked. "You were." She replied. "The slightest noise or movement wakes me up now that Spencer's here. I think its part of a mother's instinct."
Aaron snickered as he stood and walked over to his wife. "That would explain how my mother always seemed to be up before me." He said. "I couldn't even sneak out at night. It felt like she was always two steps ahead of me."
"That's because she was." Hailey told him, giving her husband a quick kiss before pulling away. "Now about that breakfast"
Aaron pulled his wife in for another kiss. "I can't. I'm running late." He said as he reluctantly released his wife. "I'll have to grab something on the way to work."
"Alright" Hailey stated, walking her husband to the door. "Be careful."
"I will." Aaron promised. He kissed Hailey once more. "Have fun with Spencer. And call me if you need anything." He opened the door and stepped outside. "I mean it Hailey. Don't hesitate to call. Okay?"
Hailey rolled her eyes. "Don't worry Aaron. Spencer and I will be just fine." She assured him. "Now go. You don't want to be late."
"Going" Aaron muttered. He stole one last kiss and then strode down their cobbled path to his truck. After waving to Hailey, he climbed into the cab of his vehicle and drove away.
Hailey settled Spencer in the sandbox with Jenny. "Okay Spencer you and Jenny play here in the sand with your toys." She instructed.
Spencer responded by banging his plastic shovel on his green pail and giggling with glee.
Sighing at the un-Spencer like response, Hailey slowly walked over to the closest bench and took a seat.
"He'll be fine, Hailey." Susan Jareau told her friend. "Jenny will keep him entertained."
"I know. It's just after everything that's happened, I feel like if I turn my back for even a minute he'll get hurt again." Hailey revealed.
"Welcome to motherhood" Susan said with a smile.
Hailey laughed. "Please tell me it's not always like this."
"Weeeelllll" Susan hedged.
"Oh gosh, I'm not gonna live through this, am I?" Hailey groaned.
"Yes you will." Susan stated, patting her friend's arm. "Here, let me fill you in on the ins and outs of motherhood."
"Here Spence, pack it like this." Jenny instructed, demonstrating with her own bucket and shovel. She paused as a large shadow covered the ground. The little girl looked up to see two girls smiling down at her. "Hi" she greeted.
"Hi" the older of the two girls replied. "I'm Sarah and this is my sister Desiree. We just moved into that little brick house down the street."
"I'm Jenny. And that's Spence. He's my best friend." The six year old brightly told the two. "And the girl on the bench over there is my big sister Julie. She's eleven."
Sarah glanced over at the girl and then turned back to the little kids. "So I am." She replied. "Listen, Desi really wants to play with you guys but she's too shy to ask so I'm asking for her. Is it okay if she plays with you?"
"Sure!" Jenny excitedly responded. "She can even share our toys. We brought lots of stuff to play with."
Desiree grinned as she plopped down beside her new friend. "Thanks" she said, taking the offered pail and shovel. Picking up a shovel full of sand, she quickly became engrossed in making the giant castle.
Sarah watched the three play for a few minutes before turning and walking towards the bench the older Jareau girl was sitting on. It was time for her to make a new friend.
"Hey Jenny, who's the kid?" a tough sounding voice called.
Jenny sighed. "Stan, I told you to leave me alone. I don't wanna be friends with you anymore." She stated, glaring at the tall, blond boy.
"You're my girlfriend. You can't do that." Stan tossed back. "Now who's the brat and why is he near you?"
"He's not a brat! His name is Spence and he's my best friend." Jenny angrily growled. "Now go away and leave us alone!"
Stan stepped over to his competition. He towered over the much smaller boy. "Hey brat! Get away from my girl!" the seven and a half year old ordered.
Huffing, Jenny stood. "Come on guys, let's go play on the swings." She suggested. Taking Spencer's hand, she and Desiree helped the four year old stand.
That had Stan seeing red. Nobody got to hold Jenny's hand but him. "Hey kid! I said get away from my girl!" he yelled, shoving the other boy with all his might.
"Spence!" Jenny and Desi hollered, kneeling down beside their crying friend.
"HEY!" a furious voice shouted from behind the group. "What do you think you're doing?!"
Jumping at the gruff voice, Stan spun around only to find himself face to chin with an enraged boy. The seven and a half year old swallowed hard.
"I asked you a question!" the other boy barked. "Whatcha doing?!"
"I, I, I…" Stan stammered.
"He pushed Spence, Derek!" Desi hollered. "He pushed him down and made him cry!"
"Oh he did, did he?" Derek ground out, cracking his knuckles. "Sounds like I need to teach you a lesson"
Stan's eyes went wide. The little bully had never had anyone stand up to him before. Scared for the first time ever, Stan turned and raced away from the sandbox.
Derek smiled as he watched the boy flee the playground. The kid would think twice before he touched another child. That much was certain. Turning his attention to his sister and her friends, he squatted down beside them. "Is he okay?" he asked.
"No" Desiree answered. "He skinned his knee when he fell. See?"
"Come on, I'll…"
"Jenny! Jenny, what happened?" Hailey questioned as she scooped up her crying son.
"That bully Stan pushed Spence down!" Jenny recounted.
"Yeah, but my brother showed him." Desi proudly added. "He scared the pants off him. Didn't he, Jenny?"
"Uh huh" Jenny seconded. "He saved us! He's a hero!"
Hailey looked at the older boy who appeared to be uncomfortable with all the attention. "Thank you for defending our kids." she gratefully said.
"You're welcome ma'am" Derek replied.
"You know I think that rescue deserves a reward." Susan told the kids. "What do you say, I buy you and your sister an ice cream?"
"You don't have to do that, ma'am." Derek answered, embarrassed by all the attention.
"I know I don't have to but I want to." Susan said. "Come on. Let me do this."
"Yeah Der, let her do this." Desiree echoed, tugging on the sleeve of her brother's shirt. "I like ice cream."
One look at his little sister's puppy eyes was all it took. "Alright, alright I'll let them buy us an ice cream." Derek agreed.
"YES!" Desiree hollered, wrapping her arms around her big brother's waist. "Thanks Der!"
"Yeah, yeah" Derek muttered. "It's not me you need to be thanking Desi. What do you tell the nice ladies?"
"Thank you!" Desiree obediently told Susan and Hailey.
"You're welcome Sweetie" Susan replied. "Now let's go get Julie and her friend so we can get that ice cream!"
"YEA!" Jenny and Desiree shouted. The two new friends looked at each other for a moment before dashing towards their sisters. It was ice cream time!