"Come on guys let's go see Mom." Aaron turned back to JJ's room, letting the darkness envelope them as he took his boys inside.
The team stood outside the room, not knowing what was happening on the other side of the door. When they heard Henry's cries for his mother, the team broke down, running for the room that held their friend.
Henry and Jack clutched to their father tightly as he opened the door to the room that held their mother. It was Christmas morning, they were supposed to wake up to a pile of Christmas presents and the scent of Cinnamon rolls baking, not visiting a hospital room before the sun even had a chance to wake up fully.
Aaron put both boys down as the door swung closed behind him, he watched as the boys ran to JJ's hospital bed. Henry's screams echoing in his ear.
"Mommy! Mommy!" the six year old threw himself on to her bed, climbing up next to her.
Jack unable to control himself any more than his brother, ran to the other side of the bed, needing to be next to JJ.
Tears fell down the boys face's as they clutched the woman lying in the bed. Aaron sat on the edge of the bed, wrapping his long arms around his family, he held his wife and boys lightly, as they were reunited.
"You're awake Mommy, you're awake." Henry cried into JJ's chest. "We missed you so much." Jack clutched her for dear life, afraid she would leave him again.
JJ held her boys as tight as she could, "I missed you to." She whispered as tears soaked her face.
Aaron ran from the elevator, needing to get to his wife. Beth stood in his way, tears streaking down her face. Her eyes had a glimmer to them he had never seen, these weren't tears of sorrow but of joy. "She's fighting the tube Agent Hotchner, she's fighting to wake up."
"She's not awake yet?" Aaron wanted to be the first person she saw, but if she woke up for someone else he didn't care as long as she was ok.
"Not yet. The doctors think she'll wake up soon, within the next twenty four hours. They're with her now, they want to run a few tests before you see her." Beth put the locket in his hand, "I took this off her, and I didn't want it getting lost."
Aaron had clutched tightly to the locket, it was keeping him sane while he waited for word. It was just after eleven thirty when the doctors let him see her. She wasn't awake yet but the tube was gone, she was breathing on her own, they had also removed the tube from her head. The doctors were confident she would wake up soon. Aaron watched her waiting for a sign that she was waking up, a sign that she was going to be ok.
"Aaron?" A hoarse voice called out to him. Aaron's eyes shot up, her eyes were still closed but she was trying to talk. "I'm here JJ, I'm here." Aaron sat on the bed next to her, holding her hand tightly, running his other hand across her cheek. He watched as slowly her eyes opened, reveling the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen. "JJ" he managed to choke out as he was overcome with sobs, she was awake, and she was alive.
Aaron leaned down wrapping her in his arms, unable to control the tears of pure joy. "I love you JJ, I love you so much." He felt her arms, as weak as she still was, wrap around his back as she held him as tight as she could, "I love you to Aaron. More than you'll ever know."
As Aaron held his wife his eyes found the clock next to her bed, it was just after midnight, she had woken up on Christmas morning. They had gotten their Christmas miracle.
"JJ!" A voice called out, not believing what they were seeing. The team rushed into the room at the sound of Henry's screams. The team saw a sight they were beginning to wonder if they would ever experience. Their friend was awake, and she was holding her boys. JJ's bright blue eyes looked at her family, making contact with each of them. With the boys sitting protectively next to their mother, one by one the team took their turn hugging their friend welcoming her back, grateful their memories of her wouldn't end.
Garcia threw herself into JJ's arms last, no one surprised by the woman's sobs. "Oh my girl, don't you ever do that to me again." Penelope chastised as she held her friend as tight as she could, making sure her friend wouldn't suddenly disappear.
With everyone's attention on the two best friends, Emily excused herself for a moment, she needed a minute to herself. She needed to process what had just happened, it had seemed their worst fears were coming true. In the last two weeks there were no signs that gave the brunette any hope that her friend would be ok. Every step up the way it seem that JJ was facing a losing battle, but now here friend was there alive holding her family.
"Princess? You ok?" Morgan followed Prentiss out of the room, needing to check on his friend.
"She's alive Morgan. She's going to be ok." Emily sobbed. Morgan wrapped his arms around his friend, "She's going to be ok." Morgan reiterated through his own tears. "Are you ok?" Morgan pushed again.
Emily laughed through her tears, "I'm fine Morgan, I was just so scared, I thought we lost her, I was ready to curse a God that would allow our friend to die on Christmas morning, instead…"
"Instead a miracle happened." Morgan finished, reaching a hand up to wipe her tears away.
"Yeah." Emily whispered. "A miracle." The memory of the night in the chapel came back to her, she had cursed God, blamed him for everything, and still had the audacity to beg him for her friend's life. Reaching her hand into her pocket she felt the card that the pastor had given her that night.
Emily's eyes locked on Morgan's, trying to hide her shock, she hadn't been wearing these pants that night, she had no clue how that card had gotten there. "Are you sure you're ok Prentiss?" Morgan wasn't so sure, he could see a strange look in her eyes.
"Yeah, I'm ok Derek, I promise. Can I…Can I have a moment alone?" Derek nodded at her request, walking back into the room, giving his friend a moment alone.
Emily collapsed into a nearby chair, trying to wrap her mind around the events of that early Christmas morning. "If you need to talk, call this number, there's always someone available to talk." Brian's voice echoed in her mind. She didn't need to talk to anybody she needed to talk to him. Surely someone at his church would know how she could get ahold of him.
Pressing the keys on her phone Emily dialed the number on the card, putting the phone to her ear she listened to the phone ringing. "Merry Christmas. Capital Life Baptist Church, this is Pastor Jerry." A friendly voice greeted the Agent.
"Uh, yeah. I was wondering if you could help me." Emily started.
"What can I help you with Ma'am?" The voice asked gently, not sure what would cause this woman to call their church so early on Christmas morning.
"I'm looking for someone from your church. He gave me this card and said to call anytime. I'd really like to talk to him again. Is that something you could help me with?" Emily was trying to remember the pastor's last name.
"Of course." The voice reassured her. "I'm looking for a Pastor Brian." Emily asked still not remembering his last name.
"Pastor Brian?" The voice was confused, they hadn't had a Brian on staff in a while.
Emily nodded her head, realizing the voice on the other line couldn't see her. "Yes, Pastor Brian Jacobs." The last name suddenly coming to Prentiss. "He's the Worship Pastor." The visit with Brian coming back to her memory.
"Oh," the voice answered sadly. "I'm sorry Ma'am. Pastor Brian was killed."
"What?" Emily choked out, how was this possible, she had just seen the man.
"I'm so sorry to be the one to tell you. It must have been a long time since you've seen him." Emily was confused as she listened to the voice, she had just seen Brian a few days ago. "Pastor Brian was killed five years ago."
"Excuse me?" Emily answered back not sure she heard him right. That wasn't possible she had just seen Brian, they must have their connections crossed. "You're talking about Brian Jacobs right? He's about six foot two, strong, green eyes, and blonde hair?"
Pastor Jerry hadn't been on staff for very long when Brian had been killed, "Um yeah I think that's what he looked like. Were you friends?" Jerry felt the need to comfort this woman.
"Um, no." Emily shook her head, trying to understand what was going on, certainly this guy had a different Brian Jacobs. "We only met once, he helped me with something."
"That sounds like the Brian I was told about. I wish I had had a chance to get to know him better. From what I've heard he was a good man." As Jerry spoke Emily became more convinced they were talking about a different Brian, this guy admitted to not knowing the man well. "Is there anything I can help you with Ma'am" the voice asked.
"No, thank you. I appreciate your help." Emily hung up her phone. She pressed the browser on her phone bringing up a search engine, quickly typing in "Pastor Brian Jacobs, Capital Life Baptist Church". She would find him on her own. She clicked on the first link. A news article opened, the headline read; "Local Pastor Murdered" under the headline was a picture of the man she had seen in the chapel.
She scrolled through the article. It had been serial murder case in the DC area, Pastors were being killed all over. The suspect turned out to be a parishioner at a church near where Brian worked. The suspect was a twenty five year old man who was suffering from a psychotic break, he thought the Pastors were agents of the devil. As she scrolled through the article a picture made her stop, she enlarged the picture on her screen. It was a picture of Brian's wife Ashley and their three year old daughter Elizabeth, it was the woman who stood with the widow that stopped Emily.
Emily had forgotten about that case, even reading through the article she didn't remember ever working it. It wasn't until she saw her friend standing with Brian's wife and daughter that she remembered the case. It wasn't a particularly difficult case for the BAU, they had seen cases much worse, sadly in the grand scheme of their lives this unsub had been forgettable for the Profilers. Given the picture in front of Prentiss she realized her friend hadn't forgotten the victims or their family, the picture had been taken on the one year anniversary of Brian's death, and there was JJ still comforting the widow and her child.
Closing the browser, Emily tried to wrap her mind around what had happened. She was trying to convince herself it was all a dream. Her subconscious must have remembered the friendly looking pastor from the case, and in an attempt to comfort herself she must have dreamt the scene in the chapel. Walking back into JJ's room she couldn't shake the feeling that she had met an angel that night.
JJ held the boys close as they told her everything she had missed while she slept. The team filling in details the boys couldn't. The unsub was dead, and JJ was grateful to hear that Karen Sherman was not being charged with attempted murder, only illegal discharge of a weapon, she would only serve probation. JJ knew what the other mother had been feeling, she didn't hold what happened against the mother.
Hotch listened to the others, carefully watching his wife, making sure she was ok, that she wasn't over doing it. "Baby, do you want me to take the boys? You should get some sleep, we'll all still be here." His loving voice encouraged.
"No, Aaron, it's ok." She held the boys tighter. "I've slept enough don't you think?" JJ fought to stifle a yawn, she had almost lost her life, she wanted to enjoy every moment she could with her family.
For his part, Aaron ignored her tired yawn, he knew she needed this time as much as they all did. "Ok, just don't overdue it." He gave her a stern look, it was the same look he had given her when she was just his subordinate.
"Yes Sir." She answered seriously before they all laughed.
A soft knock on the door sent Dave rushing for the door. Leaving the rest of the team wondering what their old friend was up to. The door opened revealing two of his employees who were carrying bags of Christmas presents. Dave took the bags turning back to his family, "It's not all the presents but what's Christmas without a few gifts!"
Michael Walker stepped off the elevator carrying two special gifts, he hoped those two boys would be there. It wasn't very often that Michael met two very special boys, and felt the need to reach out to them. As hard as he tried Michael couldn't get Henry and Jack out of his mind since that day at the mall.
Michael's wife had loved Christmas, and it was after her death that he started playing Santa at the mall, even growing out a real beard so he could better play the part. It was what had helped him through the grief of losing his wife.
It was in her honor that Michael had put on his Santa suit this Christmas morning, armed with two special gifts for boys he barely knew. His Santa suit was perfectly pressed and cleaned, the stains from various children spilling, or spitting on it gone. His black boots shined, he could almost see his reflection in them.
"Excuse me sir, but the children's ward is on the third floor." Michael turned around, hoping the nurse would let him see the woman he had heard about, even though he wasn't family.
"Daddy? What are you doing here? Why are you dressed up?" Beth was surprised to find her father standing in her hospital, he hadn't stepped foot into this hospital since her mother had died.
"Merry Christmas Bethy!" Michael put one of the gifts down, hugging his daughter. He couldn't be more proud of the woman she had become, despite the difficulty of losing her mother so young she had dedicated her life to helping others.
"Merry Christmas Daddy." Beth laid her head on the soft fabric of his Santa suit, inhaling the soft scent of cinnamon mixed with a touch of tobacco. "Now, what are you doing here?"
Michael explained to his daughter about the two boys he met, and how their mother was in a coma. He had told her how they begged him to keep their Christmas toys, if only it meant their Mom could wake up for Christmas. "Bethy, my heart broke for those two boys. All I could tell them was that Santa would try and save some of his magic for their mom." He motioned to the two gifts he had brought, "I figured their parents didn't have time to do a lot of shopping, and since Santa can't actually perform miracles, I wanted those boys to have a special present this year."
Beth swore she saw a glimmer of a tear in his eyes as he told her about the boys. "I called one of my buddies that is still on the force, I won't say how he got the information but he told me she was at this hospital, I didn't think I'd find you here though."
His daughter's brown hair shook, Beth couldn't believe this. Of all the mall Santa's her father was the one that her patient's son's talked to, this had to be more than a coincidence. "Come with me Daddy." Beth took his hand and guided Santa to JJ's room.
"Jack and Henry, and the rest of their family are in there." Michael looked at her confused, he hadn't told her their names. "Their Mom woke up this morning." Michael put it all together, his daughter had told him about her patient during the holidays, how worried she was for the woman. His daughter's patient was the mother of the two little boys he was now holding gifts for.
"Go ahead Dad, I'm sure they'll be excited to get a visit from Santa." Beth encouraged stepping back and listening to the sounds from the room when he entered.
"HOHOHO MERRY CHIRSTMAS!" Michael quickly got into character as he entered the room, to the shock of seven adults and the glee of two very special little boys.
Henry sat up next to his mother, "Mommy! It's Santa! Mommy look!" JJ smiled at her little boy, "Go give Santa hugs Henry." It didn't take much for the woman to encourage him.
Henry ran over to Santa wrapping his arms around the man. At the same time Jack ran over hugging Santa Claus, his faith in the man restored for at least one more Christmas.
"Look Santa Mommy woke up! She woked up in time for Christmas. Your magic helped Santa." Henry took Santa's glove covered hand, pulling Santa close to his mother.
"Merry Christmas JJ." Santa smiled, using the name his daughter had used. JJ looked around the room trying to figure out which one of her friends had hired the man, who looked like the real Santa Claus. The looks of surprise on their faces told her everything, they had nothing to do with this Christmas surprise.
"Merry Christmas Santa." JJ's smile reached her bright blue eyes, Michael couldn't help but be reminded of his wife's own beautiful blue eyes. Michael took her hand in his, "It's good to see you awake Agent, you had a lot of people praying for you." Getting back into Santa mode he turned to the boys, "No more than these special young men, they were willing to give up their Christmas presents if I would use up some of my magic to help you."
JJ's could feel the tear fall down her cheek at the revelation of what her sons were will to do for her. "They are two very special boys aren't they?" JJ spoke softly of her boys, she wiped away the tear smiling at them.
"You're very lucky. Both of you." Santa smiled at Hotch. "Now, if it's ok with your Mom and Dad I have a very special gift for each of you."
Jack and Henry jumped up and down, "Can we Mommy, Can we Daddy? Please JJ? Please Dad?" they cried out in unison.
Hotch and JJ's eyes met for a moment, "Go ahead boys." Hotch encouraged.
"This is for you, Jack." Santa handed the older boy the box he had carried in. "You have to wait just a minute to open that ok? I need to get Henry's gift from the hallway." Jack nodded his head as he encouraged Santa to hurry. "Henry, buddy I need you to close your eyes, ok?"
Henry closed his blue eyes, promising not to peak. He waited anxiously as the door opened and closed again. "Ok Jack go ahead and rip that paper off. And Henry open your eyes…" Santa waited a second wanting the boys to see their gifts at the same time, "Now."
"An Xbox! I got an Xbox!" Jack screamed, even though at the time he had written the letter just to appease Henry he had asked for the new Xbox.
"A BMX BIKE! Look Jack a BMX bike like yours." Henry climbed on the bike he had begged for. Hotch and JJ's jaws dropped, the boys had gotten their Santa gifts. The parents were in complete shock at the man who had fulfilled their son's Christmas wishes.
"Jack, Henry, can you give Santa a hug and say thank you." Hotch told the boys who were too busy checking out their new toys. Abandoning their gifts they boys ran to Santa giving him a huge hug. "Thank you Santa." Henry whispered in the old man's ear, "Thank you for the bike, but most of all for my Mommy." Santa held a sob in, he had nothing to do with their Mom still being with them, the only thing that could explain that was an honest to God miracle.
Santa held the boys for a moment longer before each of the team members gave the man a hug, each grateful for what this stranger had done for their nephews. Hotch shook the man's hand before Santa wrapped the Unit chief in an awkward hug, finally he turned his attention back to the blonde in the hospital bed, "Merry Christmas JJ, don't let a second of life pass you by." He winked at her before leaving the room, one last "Hohoho" was let out, followed by, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good night."
Beth hugged her father as the older man leaned into his daughter, overcome with emotion. They had prayed for a miracle when her mother was dying, he didn't realize it then but he just had to wait a few years for their miracle.
"Can I join in on the family hug?" A young voice called out to her Dad and sister. "Really Dad? You don't get enough Santa at the mall?" Jennifer laughed the older man.
"Merry Christmas Daddy." She hugged her father before turning to her sister. Beth held her baby sister tight "Merry Christmas Jenny."
"Are you going to have breakfast with us Dad?" Each year Jennifer met Beth at the hospital as her shift was ending, the two would go to their mom's favorite restaurant for Christmas pancakes.
Michael smiled at his girls, reminded how precious time with them was, "I think I will." He took his daughters hands in his own, they turned to leave.
"Hey, that's Henry and Jack!" Jennifer noticed the small boys in the room, her father had left the door partially opened. "Is their Mom awake? Beth were you their nurse?"
Michael and Beth looked at her confused. "Wait you know Henry and Jack?" Beth asked.
"Yeah, they came into the store on Monday to get a necklace for their mom. It was so sad, the locket Jack had seen the week before had been marked up. They had worked so hard to buy the locket and didn't have enough. They were devastated, they told me about their mom. I asked my manager if I could pay the difference so they could get their mom a Christmas present." Jennifer told them the story about the locket.
"Jennifer met them at Macy's, Dad played Santa at the mall for them, and I was JJ's nurse. This is crazy." Beth put the pieces together.
"Wait we all met those little boys?" Jennifer wrapped her mind around what was happening. Beth shook her head, there was only one explanation, "Mom."
"Mom?" Jennifer looked even more confused.
Michael smiled, "Of course, you're mother wanted us to remember how special Christmas was. We've all done or own thing since Mom died, we forgot to be a family on Christmas." Michael wrapped an arm around each girl, "Merry Christmas girls." He kissed each their heads before leading them out of the hospital, spending their first Christmas as a family since he lost his wife and they lost their Mom.
The sun was setting over Virginia, the team had left not long before, giving the Hotchner-Jareau family sometime alone, not before assuring JJ they would all be back first thing the next morning. Aaron had turned on a movie for the boys. Henry and Jack laid next to JJ, not letting her go as they watched "A Christmas Story."
Aaron held his wife's hand tightly, rubbing soft circles on the top of her hand. Every so often she would look over to him, mouthing "I love you."
"Mommy? Where's you necklace?" Henry asked as the movie was ending? For the first time he noticed her locket was missing.
"My necklace?" JJ was confused. Was he talking about the one Rosaline gave her? Had her family put that on her to help remind her to keep fighting?
Jack looked up noticing the missing locket, "Daddy? Where's the locket?" He was worried that it was lost.
Aaron stood, reaching his hand into his pocket he took the locket it out, keeping it clutched in his hand. He placed it in Jack's hand, "Jack why don't you give this to JJ again."
Jack quickly agree. Using his free hand he opened JJ's hand. "Me and Henry got this for you for Christmas. We wanted you to remember how much we loved you." Jack put the locket in her hand.
Seeing the locket JJ couldn't help but allow a tear to escape. She couldn't believe Jack had picked out a locket that read, "Mom". Already this was becoming one of her favorite Christmas gifts ever. At Aaron's insistence she turned the locket over seeing her sons signatures inscribed on the back. Her soft hands separated the two sides of the locket. A sob escaping her lips at the two pictures inside.
On one side of the locket was a picture of her and Jack. She remembered the night Hotch taken it. Jack had been sick for a week, they had finally taken him to the ER where they spent the entire day. She had been terrified something was seriously long with the little boy. After spending hours attached to an IV that gave him antibiotics they had been allowed to take him home. She had helped him change into his favorite pajamas already satisfied that he was looking better and hadn't thrown up all day.
When she got up to let Hotch put Jack to bed she had been surprised when Jack pulled her hand, begging her to read him a story. Aaron had taken a picture of JJ and Jack sleeping, Jack's head resting softly on her chest.
Fingering the small picture JJ let her emotions out, not caring that her cheeks were covered in tears, these were happy tears. She looked over to the picture that Henry had obviously chosen. This was a day she could never forget. Two months after Will was killed and a month too early, her little boy had chosen to come into the world. It took fifteen hours of labor, and Hotch had been with her for every minute of them.
The moment the nurse put her crying little boy into her arms she instantly fell in love with the small baby, the motherly instincts she had been afraid she didn't have instantly taking over. After she had been moved to her own room she remembered hearing the click of Aaron's camera, she had looked up smiling from him to her baby boy. Hotch had gotten the perfect picture of Mother and Son. JJ's head was against Henry's small head, as she leaned over him. The look in her eyes was that of pure adoration and love.
"Do you like it Mommy?" Henry asked worried by her tears.
"I love it baby thank you." JJ kissed his blonde head. She then turned to Jack, hugging him just a little tighter, kissing the top of her head. "I love you Jack, thank you," she whispered in his ear.
His next words to hear caused the tears to fall all over again. She could feel Hotch squeeze her hand lovingly. They were truly a family.
"I love you Mommy." Jack whispered.