- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Challenge Response
“And I want a princess castle and a princess crown and a princess wand and a…”
“Princesses are for babies! And they don’t rule anyway, the king does!”
Aaron winced at the display happening at Santa’s side. It was Saturday and two weeks before Christmas. He usually brought Jack to see Santa right after Thanksgiving, but a case that had spanned two weekends had kept that from happening. His son had been exceptionally silent on the subject of what he wanted for Christmas, Aaron hadn’t been able to get a single clue from him, which was frustrating for someone who spent their life interrogation and drawing information from other people.
“This way, Sweetie.” The woman dressed as an elf smiled down at Jack.
Jack glanced to his dad. “Go on.” Aaron smiled at him. He watched his son climb in Santa’s lap and then begin to talk softly; Aaron couldn’t hear a thing he said. Once it was over and Jack had his candy cane, he led his son out. “So, what did you ask Santa for?”
“Is Santa like birthday wishes?”
Aaron smiled. “No, he’s not.”
“Oh, okay. I told him I want an elephant.”
“Like… a stuffed elephant?”
“No, a pet elephant.”
Aaron led them through the crowd a bit. “Why do you want an elephant?”
“I’ve been thinking, and all my friends have normal pets like cats or dogs, Noah has parrots that talk and that’s cool, but I want something that nobody else has. Nobody else has an elephant, that would be awesome! I would be the coolest kid in school!”
He frowned, clearly Jack had been investing a lot of thought into this. “We don’t have space at the apartment for an elephant.”
“We can get a house. One with a big yard so Bart can play.”
“The elephant’s name.” Jack replied, exasperation in his voice.
“Jack, Ba- an elephant would need more room than we would get in any neighborhood.”
“We can live on a farm then.” He began walking again, rattling off information on feeding and watering Bart and what toys he would need. It took several minutes before a new question crossed Aaron’s mind.
“How do you know so much about elephants all of the sudden?”
“I asked Spencer!” He giggled, covering his mouth.
“Great.” The father sighed, resolved to talk to his resident genius later.
Later was interrupted by a case landing on their desks first thing Monday morning, his instruction for the team to meet in the conference room was met with sighs, no one liked cases this close to Christmas. From there they were all go until they were cruising above Missouri. “Reid.”
The younger man’s head popped up from what he was reading. “Yeah?”
“Did you tell Jack about elephants?”
He watched Reid’s eyes dart around as he thought. “He asked me some things about them.”
“Did he tell you why?”
Hotch nodded. “He wants a pet elephant.”
“Oh.” He could see Reid thinking again. “But you can’t keep elephants as pets.”
“I know that. But that’s what he asked Santa for.”
“The only thing.” Hotch smirked. “And since you gave him the information, I need you to figure out how to get him off the idea.”
Hotch nodded and turned back to his paperwork.
Emily leaned against the side of the desk and watched as her boss’s son animatedly talked to her friend. Their case had only lasted two days, they had all been thankful for that.
“So that’s why, Jack, that you can’t have an elephant for a pet.”
“Oh. I wonder if Santa knows that. You don’t think he’ll bring one anyway do you?”
Spencer searched for a reply.
“He’ll look it up first, Jack.” Emily answered in his place. “What is so special about an elephant over say…a horse?”
“They have big ears and they are special-er than a horse or some normal pet.”
Reid lit up. “So, you want a pet no one else has.”
“I thought an elephant because you can give them hay and water for a few days and Bart would be okay while Daddy was gone.”
“The elephant, Reid, keep up.” Emily exchanged a grin with Jack.
“He- You already named the elephant?”
The boy nodded. “He needed a name.”
“Can I have a giraffe in my yard?’
“You don’t have a yard.”
“Daddy could buy a house.”
“What other animals do you think you would like?”
“An alligator? Or… baby goats, the little ones. Or a llama. Or a hippo!”
Reid exchanged a glance with Prentiss. “Jack, can you hang out with Miss Emily for a bit?”
“Yeah. Can we go get ice cream?” He turned to the brunette.
Spencer stood and headed for his boss’s office. “Hotch.” He spoke as his gave a perfunctory knock.
“Yeah.” He waved the younger man in.
“I think the animal thing isn’t about a pet.”
“How can it not be about a pet?”
Spencer gave him a look that said ‘really?’ “You’re a behaviorist.”
“So, then what is it about?”
“A house. Instead of an apartment. Every animal suggestion he’s made would carry the requirement of moving into a house.”
“Not what you wanted to hear?”
“I think I would have preferred the elephant.”
“A house doesn’t eat as much.” He tried for a joke.
“I was never very good at balancing a house and this job, Haley kept the house running. I’m not sure how good of an idea it is right now.”
“Is that the only reason?”
“Isn’t that enough?”
Spencer shrugged. “If maintenance wasn’t an issue?”
Hotch sighed. “I had considered buying a place a bit closer, talked to my financial advisor about what I could afford without pouring too much in.”
Later, Spencer came out of Hotch’s office and made a beeline for Morgan. “Hey, Morgan? Got a minute?”
“Can I have a goat?”
“Pig? Why a pig?”
“Bacon.” He crunched on the piece in his hand. “We could name it Bacon and then later turn it into bacon.”
Aaron wondered if he shouldn’t be a bit worried by that. “No pig, Jack.”
“I want a pet that the other kids don’t have!”
“I’m sure Santa will think of something.” He really, really hoped that happened anyway.
“Can Santa fit anything ever in his bag?”
“I think so.”
“Can I write Santa a letter to update him?”
“I guess so.” He watched his son scramble down from the table and out of the room. A moment later the boy returned, wiping a napkin quickly over his face and hands before vanishing again.
An hour later, Jack reappeared with an envelope sealed tightly with stickers. “Daddy?”
“Can you mail this the special way, so it gets to Santa in time?”
“Special… Yes, Jack, I can.” He took the envelope from his son and carefully placed it in his briefcase. Once Jack was tucked in that night, he fished out the letter and carefully opened it, his chest squeezing at the request he saw inside.
The following morning at work, he called both Morgan and Reid into his office and began to hash out a plan.
“Where are we going Daddy?” Jack was bouncing in the back seat. It was Christmas Day and he was excited.
“We have to go meet Morgan and Reid somewhere. It won’t take long.” He smiled to himself.
Finally, the car came to a stop outside of a house, Morgan opened the door just as Aaron cut the engine. “Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas!” Jack called as he clambered out. “Where are we?” He started up at the front porch where Morgan was standing and the little house beyond that. “Why are we here?”
“Well.” Aaron knelt by his son. “Morgan helped me out, this is going to be our new house.”
Jack lit up. “We got a house?” He squealed. “Now we can get an elephant!”
“Maybe not an elephant. Go in and see if you can find Spencer.”
Jack was off like a shot, leaving the two adults out in the cold. “Spencer?”
Jack rushed as best he could, finding his other favorite agent in one of the bedrooms. “Why are you up here? What’s that?”
“This is Bart. He’s a hedgehog.”
“A hedgehog? I’ve never heard of that.” He stepped forward and petted the small animal with a finger.
“Well, I can teach you, then you can tell your friends.”
“I know it’s not an elephant…”
“That’s okay, Bart’s still cool, and we still have a house to play in now. Me and Bart.”
“You like it?” Aaron appeared in the doorway.
“Yeah, Dad!” Jack grinned. “Since Bart’s so small, we could get another pet! Like a… a rabbit! Or a ferret!”
Aaron’s head fell into his hand as the other two men burst into laughter. “I don’t know Jack.”
“I’ll ask Santa, he’ll bring it!”
Profilers for Christmas is an anonymous crime drama Advent Calendar featuring both art and stories. Additional information about the challenge can be found here.