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An Easter of Eggshells

Title: An Easter of Eggshells
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairing: Hotch/Reid
Rating: PG for mild swearing 
Word Count: 4861
Summary: Easter hasn't ever been Spencer's favorite holiday.
Warnings: minor Angst and Fluff galore
Authors note: I set out to right a fluffy little Easter fic because Jack is adorable and I mean that just begs to be done. Well this sort of developed a mind of it's own. But I fairly like it. I was shooting to post it on Easter Sunday, but life happened and Family drama happened (it wouldn't be a holiday without it) so I'm posting it a day late. Either way, I hope everyone had a happy Easter!! =D
Special Thanks to: colordrone who had to listen to me rant about it and was kind enough to beta it for me at 2:30 am.


Jack had turned 6 less than a month before so it really shouldn't have come as any surprise to Spencer that the young boy apparently expecting to do something special for Easter. As it was Spencer was shocked, as his family had rarely done special things for holidays (with the possible exception of a yearly rant from his mother about Easter being a coverup for a pagan fertility holiday which had really drained the fun out of the whole thing). Which was why Spencer found himself trying very hard to not do the same every time Jack bounced around excitedly talking rapidly about a bunny (hence the bouncing).


So when Spencer had been relieved to hear that Aaron was planning on taking him to an Easter Egg Hunt with Jessica Easter Sunday. Which a part of Spencer rebelled at since he had a vague gut feeling that anything and everything a church did had overtones of religion. And Spencer firmly believed you shouldn't raise a child to just automatically believe any ideology, even his own, he preferred to force Jack to find his own answers.


This philosophy tended to lead to him asking Jack many questions that Aaron would raise his eyebrows at, but he never openly questioned him about it, so Spencer was running on the belief that Aaron trusted him enough to not royally screw up his son mentally. Which had its own issues, and tended to freak Spencer out since he'd never expected to be in the position to mentally screw someone up.


Aaron had also informed them that the Easter Egg Hunt was also Easter Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday which Jack was terribly excited about; Spencer was getting sick and tired of hearing the word Easter, and the damned holiday was still a week away.


The problems began early in the week before The Sunday (Spencer refused to call it Easter any longer), because on Tuesday Jessica became violently ill.


Which was not good for many reasons.


There was the obvious reason that Spencer was genuinely fond of Jessica as a person, she'd taken him under her wing and into her family without batting an eye. And Spencer had found himself dropping by meaning just to pick up Jack and ending up having discussions about philosophy with the stay at home mom-to-be. She'd turned out to be astonishingly intelligent, which Spencer should have foreseen since she was Haley's sister and Haley had never been accused of being an idiot.


The less obvious reason was purely selfish, and a part of Spencer hated that it was even a concern. Spencer did not want to go to the Easter Egg Hunt, or the Breakfast, or any of it; he'd told Aaron so, very bluntly. To Aaron's credit, the older man had just smiled knowingly, given his partner a soft kiss, and said easily, “I wasn't going to ask you to.”


Then on Wednesday they'd caught a case, which had been tricky to begin with since Jessica was sick and Jack needed someone to stay with during the day, because apparently public schools let children out for a two week “spring break” beginning the week of Easter. Luckily the case was fairly local so it'd been a bit easy to orchestrate Aaron staying home that evening and Spencer staying home the next morning with Jack. The plan had been to switch at around noon.


The plan failed miserably, in that way that only the best laid plans could.


Spencer had been doing the dishes from the mid-morning waffles while Jack laughed away at something on the Discovery Kids channel when he'd gotten the call. None of those heart wrenching times in the past when he'd had to deal with Hotch being hurt came close to JJ's soft voice telling him Hotch had been shot and was in the ER again. Spencer had felt himself go numb, and it wasn't JJ's slightly panicked inquires about the crashing noise that brought him back. Instead he felt himself jerk back to a half awareness when he heard Jack's soft voice, “Spencer? Did you drop a plate?”


He swallowed thickly and forced himself to think, absentmindedly assuring JJ everything was okay and hanging up. He had indeed dropped a plate and he watched half numbly as Jack got the broom and began chiding him, in a tone that sounded far too much like Aaron, about being careful. He vaguely wondered just how often he broke things if Jack already knew what to do. It felt like he was swimming through mental molasses as he attempted to think through what he should do; leaving Jack alone was out of the question, but on the other hand the boy had listened to his mother get shot and die, seeing his father in a similar situation would be difficult.


And Spencer might be baffled in general by Jack, and slightly annoyed with him at times, but he genuinely cared for the boy. Spencer didn't want Jack to have to deal with anything that would harm him emotionally or physically, but he knew that lying was also out of the question so he really only had one option. And Spencer didn't like it.


So he'd had to tell the boy that his father was in the hospital, and that he needed to get dressed so they could go. Spencer hadn't been able to look into Jack's face before the boy bolted, and he'd numbly changed into clothes that were not ratty pajamas and stuffed his feet into shoes before going in search of Jack.


He found the boy half in tears trying to tie his shoes, Spencer had swallowed before calmly tying the shoelaces for him and leading the way to the car. He called JJ to find out which hospital Aaron was in hoping it would be close - thankfully it was and they'd make it there within an hour. He hadn't dared to ask if she had any news, and he lack of sharing didn't help the burning in his chest. They drove in silence, with the exception of Jacks half sobs, and Spencer found himself absentmindedly thinking that he should call Jessica. But there wasn't anything she could do, and he didn't know anything so he decided to wait until he had actual information before ruining her day too.


Parking at Hospitals is always complicated, even more so when you don't live in the area and haven't ever been to said hospital, and this could only be made worse if you were also dealing with extreme emotions. Sadly Spencer was, so he made the rather easy choice of taking advantage of the Valet Parking option. He didn't care if it ended up costing him $500, he just wanted to get to where Aaron was.


Spencer didn't comment when Jack's small hand slid into his as they tried to make sense of where they needed to go. Finally it was Emily who spotted them and called out before they could walk past the correct waiting room.


Spencer had been hoping for news.


There was no news.


Aaron was still in surgery, and all his friends could say was the unsub didn't get away. Which was a cold comfort as Spencer found himself sitting numbly in a hard plastic chair staring at a cartoon cutout of the fucking Easter Bunny pinned to the wall. He barely felt Jack crawl into his lap, or the boy bury his face in his hair, but he did feel his own arms wrap around Jack's smaller body tightly. Because he needed to hold on to something, and they were family. They weren't normal, or stereotypical, but they were a family, which wasn't something Spencer had thought about really. He'd never considered himself Jack's parent; he'd considered himself Aaron's partner which meant he had some responsibility for Jack as well.


But this was different, and Spencer was too numb to actually analyze it at the moment.


Eventually the doctor did come out, and Spencer hadn't felt fear to that degree in a long time. But he felt the pressure in his chest ease as the doctor smiled - Aaron wasn't going to die.


Relief was palpable in the room as they were informed that he'd be waking up within the hour and that when he did they could see him. Spencer didn't cry until he saw Aaron, and when he did it wasn't easy or cathartic; it was painful and intense and louder than he'd liked. But Spencer didn't cry easily, he never had.


Aaron's half muttered reassurances only compounded the manner, and Spencer found himself just shaking his head and saying “You just can't leave us” in the most embarrassingly broken tone over and over and over. It went on like that for awhile before Spencer could get himself together enough to realize that Jack should probably come in before Aaron gave into exhaustion and pain and fell asleep.


He attempted to make himself presentable before returning to the waiting room to get Jack; he fooled no one, but he pretended he did and they pretended he did so it was okay. The small hand that slipped into his again was reassuring and welcome, and Jack's set face prompted Spencer to wrap an arm awkwardly around the boy instead.


Jack crying made Spencer cry again, and Aaron tried to make a joke about him not being that ugly that really wasn't funny but Spencer laughed anyway. He knew it was a psychological protection mechanism, but it was better than breaking down again so he let himself laugh.


Aaron was asleep before too long, and Spencer vaguely noted it was actually Friday morning when the nurse gently suggested they lay down in the empty bed next to Hotch's. At first Spencer was resistant, but Jack stubbornly declared that he wouldn't sleep unless Spencer did and it was obvious that the poor kid was exhausted. So he agreed, thinking he'd just pretend to sleep.


But he did fall asleep, lulled by Jack's deep breathing from where he was half curled against Spencer's chest and by the reassurance that Aaron was in the same room and alive. A different nurse gently shook them awake before she presented all three of them with breakfast and left them to eat as a family.


The doctor and nurses came by when they were done to assess Aaron's condition, in the end it was decided they'd keep him until Saturday morning and then he'd be on bed rest for a while. Spencer was just happy he was alive, and was slightly taken aback when Aaron took Jack's hand and squeezed it. “I'm sorry Buddy, I don't think Easter will be all that much this year.”


And in that moment Spencer swore that once Aaron was home Jack would have the best damn Easter of his life, even if Spencer would be half miserable the entire time. Which was why when he called Jessica one of his last questions was, “What the hell goes in an Easter Basket anyway?”


That evening when they made Aaron for a while, Spencer convinced Jack to lay down too. After all it had been a long day and the kid was tired. It was easy for Spencer to get JJ to stay with Jack and Aaron while he went to Walmart with the list of things Jessica had given him. Spencer decided he hated Walmart before he ever stepped foot into the building, and it only got worse when he actually got inside. Jessica had ranted about baskets and chocolate bunnies and how it was a point of pride for their family that none of their children, Jack included, had never gotten a prepackaged basket, so Spencer shouldn't get one of those. Spencer immediately regretted that as he looked mournfully at the wall of garishly decorated baskets, but sighed and moved on. His mother had always said, in her coherent moments, that if something was worth doing it was worth doing right.


So he'd found a basket, a very normal looking wicker basket with a handle, and headed towards the Candy. And that's when his problems really started, because he was suddenly faced with an entire wall full of candy. Half of which were bunnies, and the other half of which were eggs. Spencer swallowed, and grabbed the closest things to him and a medium sized chocolate bunny before trying to figure out what else he was supposed to get.


The last item on his list was of all things a bow, so he somehow ended up in the craft section looking at yards of ribbon. Which really didn't help. At all.


Which was when a very large woman, wearing a name tag that proudly proclaimed her name was “Shirley”, a bright blue vest and very large hair came waltzing down the aisle and straight for him, her voice came as loud but pleasant boom as she honed in on him, “Why hello! How can I help you today? I get a few men back here but most of them are either with their wife or know what they're doin'! Oh! You're makin' an Easter Basket! How sweet! I always hated the idea of those ugly ones at the front you know, it's so good of you to make one! But you don't have Peeps? How can you make an Easter Basket without Peeps?”


Spencer blinked at her for a long moment, “Peeps?”


She blinked back, “Peeps! Y'know? Marshmallow? Covered in yellow sugar? Or y'know they have other colors, but I always preferred the originals myself.” She frowned at his blank look, “You haven't done this before have you?”


Spencer shook his head slowly, “I need a bow? I think?”


“Ah, well then. We'll get you one of those. And some peeps, now come on over here. You should get a premade bow, it'll look just as nice and you can learn to make one for next year.” She began waltzing off and Spencer numbly followed not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, all the while wondering what on earth she meant by next year.


Within half an hour Shirley had replaced half the candy he'd haphazardly grabbed with what she claimed were her old and new favorites that Jack was just “sure to love.” The entire time she talked, and talked, and talked, and by the time she lead Spencer to the stuffed animal section he was sure he knew more about her than half his friends. “Now hun, you need to get him a bunny.”


Spencer blinked, “A bunny?”


She nodded sternly, “Yes, a bunny. Every child should get a Bunny on Easter.”


“But it isn't on the list? And I want this to be as normal as possible and...” He trailed off at the stare she sent him. “It doesn't have to be pink?”


She laughed, “Oh no, your Jack is a boy. Though I wouldn't get him a blue one either. How about this one?”


She held up a large white floppy thing that Spencer supposed could be considered a rabbit and he absentmindedly shook his head as he surveyed the wall of animals. He finally picked up a medium sized brown one that didn't have a bow, Shirley raised her eyebrows but nodded as he set it in his cart. “Alright hun, I think you're all set. Go check out now, and come see me about learnin' to make that bow!” She waltzed away again before he could say a word, so Spencer shook his head and went to check out.


Spencer was able to get home and stash his loot in their closet, grab all three of them a change of clothes and get back to the hospital in a fairly good amount of time considering the distance.


JJ raised her eyebrows when he told her why it'd taken him so long, “You're making the basket? I thought you'd just buy one.”


“Yeah well...don't ask. It's a lot harder than it sounds. Is Aaron awake do you know?” Spencer hated that he'd had to leave while Aaron was in the hospital.


JJ grinned, “He's still passed out, but they said you could go back in about half an hour, and Penelope came to take Jack to lunch not that long ago. They should be back in time to have him go back with you. The thought of you in a walmart is terrifying. How did it go?”


“A very nice lady named Shirley is going to teach me to make a boy for his basket next year. Let me stash this stuff and you can help me find in Aaron's day planner where and when that damn hunt and breakfast are going to be.” He shrugged and tried to ignore JJ's giggles while she followed him to the cafe to get some coffee.


“Did Jessica tell you where the Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast is on Sunday?” JJ's question was practical and a tad too casual but Spencer told her where without much thought as he piled sugar into the sub-par coffee.


Aaron was obviously a bit out of it, but he managed to keep up the appearance of being fine when Jack and Spencer went back. Spencer saw through it of course, but he didn't say anything; Aaron was allowed to pretend to be stronger than he was. Spencer fell asleep again that night with Jack cuddled to his chest across from Aaron and wishing Sunday was over.


Wishes didn't always come true. The next morning was a rush to get Aaron checked out and home. Jack was subdued and the three ended up spending most of the day watching the Discovery Kids channel together in the living room. Spencer sent Jack to bed early, and it was a testament to just how tired the kid was that he didn't complain.


And then Spencer dragged his supplies to the living room and stared at it wondering why he found what should be such a menial task so daunting.


“Spencer, what are you doing?” Aaron's voice was groggy, but that was understandable, “I could swear I see you making an Easter Basket. But they must have given me better stuff than I thought.”


Spencer snorted, “Why is it that me wanting to make Jack an Easter Basket is such a surprise to everyone. Shirley believed in me.”


“Spencer I always believe in you. It just doesn't seem like you is all.” Aarons voice was beginning to slur slightly and Spencer decided it was time for all the Hotchners to go to bed, not just Jack.


Actually assembling the Basket was easier than he'd thought it would be, and once he was done he was a bit proud of it. So after he'd carefully set it on the kitchen table to wait for Jack he took a few pictures of it, which really was just silly.


Spencer was jolted awake by the blaring of his alarm. Aaron jerked awake as well with a groan, “Spencer. It is Sunday, why is your Alarm on?” Spencer's lover's voice was groggy from sleep and pain, and Spencer grimaced.


“Because your son is going to that god forsaken Easter Egg hunt. Go back to sleep.” Spencer tried to be casual as he blearily searched for clothes.


“Spencer, I am not up to taking him to an Egg Hunt.” Aaron's voice was tired on a whole new level, and Spencer didn't look at him as he pulled on a pair of slacks.


“I know. You aren't going to take him. I am. You'll be fine on your own for 2 or so hours, now go back to sleep unless you want me to get to you set up on the couch?” Spencer finally turned to face Aaron and found the older man gaping at him.


“But you hate churches!”


Spencer frowned, “No, I hate the hypocrisy that often accompanies religion. That has nothing to do with a bunch of kids searching for a bunch of eggs with candy inside, and Jack is too young to understand any of that anyway. Now do you want the couch or not.”


Aaron blinked, “Couch I suppose, since I'm awake.”


“If that's what you want. I can put on Star Trek for you, if you want?” Spencer ignored Aaron's exaggerated grimace at the mention of Star Trek and helped the older man pull himself out of bed.


Both of the adults were immediately aware when Jack discovered his Easter Basket, Jack would never be accused of being a quiet child. Spencer couldn't help but ask “He isn't too....plain?” when Jack showed his father the bunny.


Two similar faces stared at him for a moment before Jack shook his head vigorously, “I love him! He's perfect!” The boy peered at him for a moment, “Did you make my basket this year?”


Spencer blinked, suddenly unsure if he knew weather Jack believed in the Easter Bunny anymore. “That depends...who normally makes it?”


Jack frowned at him, “Aunt Jess but she's sick. The Easter Bunny isn't real.” Jack leaned closer to Spencer and whispered, “But we don't tell the other kids that because they aren't ready to know.”


Spencer grinned slightly, “Then, yes I made it.”


Jack smiled, “You did perfect!”


Which caused a really odd warm feeling in Spencer's chest that he wasn't used to feeling so he distracted himself by calmly informing Jack that he needed to get dressed or they'd be late for the hunt. Jack was immediately off in a flurry of activity to get shoes and to find his shoes and socks, which left Aaron staring at Spencer as he calmly ate the last few bites of his pancakes.


“You're really going to take him?” Aaron's voice lacked the deadpan humor he'd had earlier that morning.


Spencer nodded, “Yes I am. Now stop looking at me like I've grown another head, do you need anything before we leave? I have no real idea what this will entail so...”


Aaron was grinning, “You're in for a bit of a surprise then I suppose, and I'll be fine. I've managed alone before.”


“I don't want you to have to 'manage' anything though.” Spencer frowned, “If you need me you'll call right?”

Aaron smiled, “Thanks, I'll call if I need you. Promise.”


Spencer nodded as Jack came whirling into the room, “I'M READY!” Aaron laughed and Spencer didn't grimace, it was a start.


Spencer wasn't sure what he'd expected to do while Jack was “hunting eggs” but it wasn't getting free coffee with a group of people he'd never seen before. He vaguely wished he'd brought a book, but before he'd been there long a familiar voice called his name and he turned to find JJ striding towards him with Will trailing behind her grinning.


“JJ? What...”


She smirked, “Henry is just old enough to come to the hunt so I thought we'd come and give you some company.”


Spencer blinked, “I didn't think you were religious?”


JJ shrugged but Will nodded, “I'm a bit. JJ doesn't mind it too much, and I did this when I was a kid so I thought it was a lovely tradition to start for Henry too. We even got him a basket -it was last minute but JJ claims it's the thought that counts.”


“Not everyone is crafty enough to make their own.” JJ's voice was a bit smug and Spencer had to laugh, thankful that there was at least one familiar face in the crowd of strangers.


When Spencer next saw Jack, he knew it'd been the right choice. The boy was running towards him with the biggest grin Spencer had seen in days and was carrying a bag half full of plastic eggs. Spencer didn't had time to really brace himself for the force of a 46 pound boy slamming into him; but he managed to stay upright - barely. “Spencer! Henry and I found all these eggs, and there's chocolate bunnies, and the eggs are different colors and Henry and I sorted through ours and I gave him all my red ones and he gave me all his blue ones because that's my favorite color. Can real eyes be blue if they aren't dyeded? I told Henry no but he thinks there are blue chickens, but he's really little so I guess that's why.”


Spencer took a few moments to process what Jack was saying but he grinned anyway, “No there aren't blue chickens. And the only blue eggs that I can think of that you'd find naturally are bluebird eggs, and they're very small.”


Jack nodded, “Blue birds are blue so it makes sense that their eggs would be too.”


Spencer felt his grin widen at the logic. “You ready for the breakfast?”


Jack nodded vigorously and again the small hand slipped into Spencer's as they followed the crowd into what looked like a mini-cafeteria and were served pastel colored pancakes. Spencer blinked down at them for a moment before shrugging and eating them; he didn't notice JJ taking her camera out and he didn't realize she was taking a picture until he was blinking the flash from his eyes.


She smirked a bit, “Hotch will want some evidence you actually ate it. He'd never believe me otherwise.”


“Take one with BOTH OF US!” Jacks loud request first made Spencer question the amount of sugar the young boy had been allowed so far in the day. But he allowed JJ to take a photo of them with little resistance.


When they finally got home it was early afternoon and Jack was thoroughly hyped up on sugar. Spencer wasn't sure what to do, but coming home to Aaron dozing on the couch sobered them both up a bit. So Spencer spent most of that afternoon peering out the window at Jack who was running around the backyard and keeping an eye on both the TV and Aaron.


Dinner was casual, and they watched a few Easter Specials on the TV afterwords. It wasn't long before Jack was changing into his pajamas and Spencer noticed that instead of the old scruffy bear he was clutching the little brown bunny.


“Spencer...can you read me this book?” Jack's request wasn't an odd one, but Spencer hadn't ever seen the book he held out.


It was a hardcover copy of a story called The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes and it was obviously old and very worn, but he didn't think much of it as he settled beside the boy on his bed and began to read.


We hear of the Easter Bunny who comes each Easter Day before sunrise to bring eggs for boys and girls, so we think there is only one. But this is not so. There are really five Easter Bunnies, and they must be the five kindest, and swiftest, and wisest bunnies in the whole wide world...”


The story surprised Spencer, he hadn't expected it to actually have a message. Let alone a message he could see and appreciate, but it did. Jack seemed to enjoy it, but he didn't look at the pictures he watched Spencer, which made him twitch a bit while he read.


And the little house of Mother Cotton Tail can always be told from the homes of other bunnies. Because in a very special place on the wall, on a very special hook, hangs a very tiny pair of gold shoes.


When he was done reading Jack sat back with a smile, and Spencer felt himself returning it unconsciously. “Thanks Spencer.” The young boy settled down under the covers and burrowed into his pillows still clutching the bunny tightly.


“Anytime Jack.” Spencer was on his way to the door and he paused to put the book away on Jack's shelf. He glanced at the title page one last time and found an inscription,


To Haley,

I hope you can tell this tale one day to your children like I'm telling it to you. Remember you can do or be anything. Always believe that.




Spencer blinked and gently closed the book with a tad more reverence than he'd shown it before and placed it on one of the shelves. He briefly wondered if Aaron realized his son had the book, but decided it didn't matter. If he didn't, it wasn't Spencer's place to tell him yet. Maybe one day when those wounds were still so fresh and raw he'd bring it up, but at the moment he was half reeling from Jack asking him to read it at all.


He settled down with Aaron not too long later and gave a small contented sigh, maybe Easter wasn't so bad after all.

Note: The Country Bunny and The Gold Shoes is indeed a real children's story that my mother read to me as a kid. It's by DuBose Heyward and it's amazing. I still love it. And I genuinely plan to read it to any children I ever decide to have.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2010 06:46 am (UTC)
oh man have i told you how much i love your random OC's? because i'm pretty sure that Shirley just about killed me.

“Why is it that me wanting to make Jack an Easter Basket is such a surprise to everyone. Shirley believed in me.”

anyways you know how much i love this.
Apr. 5th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
This was really sweet, and I loved the interaction between Spencer and Jack, it was so adorable and gentle.
Apr. 5th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Aw, good one.
Apr. 5th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
This is adorably sweet and wonderful, with just the right touch of poignancy. I loved how Spencer and Jack got along. I really enjoyed this.

Apr. 5th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
I love Shirley. I would love to see her again. This story was very sweet. I loved it.
Apr. 5th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
ADORABLE. I love Spencer's determination to give Jack an Easter even though the whole thing makes him uncomfortable and the way Jack just loves him and accepts him as part of his life.
Apr. 5th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
This was an awesome Easter story! I loved it...
Apr. 7th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Aawwww, that's really sweet :)

Very nice ;)

Love, Nehfi
Apr. 8th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
This was a wonderful story. I love this particular incarnation of Spencer-as-parent. He's completely in character as a skeptic and scientist with a big warm fuzzy heart. The scene in Wal-Mart with Shirley had me grinning like the Cheshire cat. I want to meet her the next time I have to put together a gift basket...
Apr. 12th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
They weren't normal, or stereotypical, but they were a family, which wasn't something Spencer had thought about really.

Awww...too cute!
Apr. 13th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
That was so wonderfully written. These stories with Spencer being with a kid are always sweet and sorta make me wish they’d write it into the show ;) Thanks for sharing!
Feb. 27th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Beautiful story. Just curious how Hotch is doing after being shot and all. ^_^
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )