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Birthday Surprise

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Aaron Hotchner wasn't someone who shied away from hard work. He loved his job. He was the first to put in some extra hours and stay way past everyone else. Still, as he trudged up the stairs to his office that evening, he felt like dragging his feet. The rest of the team was safely home after a long flight, but Aaron had taken an SUV back to the office to file his preliminary report. It was what he always did after the team got back into town, and nothing would make him break this habit. Not even the fact that it was his birthday.

Sighing, Aaron dropped his briefcase on the small sofa and headed for his desk. He shrugged out of his suit jacket and loosened his tie while his computer booted up. If he was going to put in another hour of work before heading home, he was going to do it relatively comfortably. And since it was a Friday evening, there weren't that many people around to catch Aaron Hotchner with his top button undone.

"Will you look at that, Jack!"

Aaron whirled around, but there was no on in his office.

"Looks like Daddy is at the office even though it's the weekend and it's his birthday! Tsk, tsk, tsk."

Aaron rounded the corner of his desk. Instead of his usual desktop, his computer screen showed a video of Penelope and Jack in Aaron's living room.

"What do we think about that, Jack?"

Penelope looked at Jack. Jack turned to face the camera. "It stinks," he said.

Aaron laughed and settled in his chair. This - his family - was exactly what he needed right now. It would have been better to see them in person, but this would do until he got home.

"That's right, it stinks." Penelope nodded. "Jack and I have decided you need to come straight home. The report can wait until Monday, just this once. Jack?"

"It's your birthday, Daddy! We have cake and presents! Please come home now?"

"Yeah, Aaron, come home. I made your favorite cake. And you have quite a lot of presents to unwrap here," Penelope said. She winked and surreptitiously tugged on a purple bow attached to her dress. "Resistance is futile, by the way. I fixed your computer so that this recording plays when it starts up, but nothing else is going to work right now. Don't even try to do anything on it for the rest of the weekend." She grinned at the camera and then picked up Jack. "This young man and I are going to prepare dinner now. We expect you home by seven, Aaron!" She and Jack waved at the camera and then Aaron's screen went dark.

Despite the fact that his desire to do any work had been reduced to zero, Aaron tapped a few keys and moved his mouse, but the computer stayed stubbornly dark. He glanced at his watch. If he left now, he could be home by quarter past seven. Maybe a little sooner if he put some of his driving training to good use.

***

Jack and Penelope were setting the table when Aaron got home. He stayed in the doorway for a moment, just watching them. He was just about to enter the room when Jack turned and spotted him.

"Daddy! You're home!"

Aaron caught him as Jack launched himself into Aaron's arms. "Hey, buddy. Have you been good for Aunt Penny?"

Jack nodded. "She said I can stay up late today 'cause it's your birthday. Birthdays are special days."

"Is that so?" Aaron looked from Jack to Penelope.

"Yes," Penelope said. "Very special."

"In that case..." Aaron shifted Jack to his hip and pressed a kiss to Penelope's lips before putting an arm around her shoulders. "...let's celebrate!"