"Dad?" Jack whispered, sitting in the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel next to his father. His dark eyes were wide, taking in the scene in front of him.
"Yeah, buddy?" Hotch replied in a hush voice, not wanting to disturb the ceremony.
Jack tore his eyes away from the front to look at Hotch. "Did you and Mom have a wedding like this?"
Hotch glanced at wedding party. Garcia was wearing a red hoop skirt wedding dress complete with silver beading and black flowers. Her groom also wore red, a tux, with a black shirt and handkerchief. The four groomsmen, consisting of Garcia's three brothers and Reid as the best man, were decked out in black tuxes with red shirts.
He moved his eyes over to the bridesmaids; Morgan's two sisters, Prentiss, and JJ. Each were wearing a short black dress with a red sash. Red accessories adorn their feet, hair, necks, and ears. Morgan's sisters occasionally brushed over the dress unconsciously trying to pull it down while Prentiss actively tugged on her dress, trying to get a few more inches. Only JJ stood unaffected by the hemline, lost in the ceremony of her best friend's wedding to the man of her dreams, a bored Henry playing at her feet.
"Not quite like this, but we had a wedding," Hotch told him.
"What was your wedding like?"
Hotch took a deep breath. It wasn't often that his son asked questions about his mother nearly five years after her death so he didn't want to discourage Jack's curiosity, even as he felt a pang in his chest. "Well, we had the wedding in a church, first of all. Your mom wore a beautiful white dress. She had her hair up with just a few curls hanging down."
Jack hung on his every word. "Did you wear a red suit?"
"Tux," Hotch corrected, "and no. I wore a black tux with a white shirt. Your uncle Sean was my best man and my cousin, Michael, was a groomsmen. Your aunt Jessica was Mom's maid of honor. She wore a blue dress along with your aunt Sarah, who was a bridesmaid."
"Did you get married in Vegas, too?"
Hotch smiled, shaking his head. "No, we got married in Grandma and Grandpa's church. All of our family and friends were there."
"No." Hotch chuckled over the thought of Rossi meeting several of Haley's conservative family. "I didn't meet Uncle Dave until later."
Jack squirmed in his seat, mulling over the information he received. "Dad, were you and Mom in love when you got married?"
Hotch froze, not expecting that question. He was sure that Jack was going to go through the entire list of people he knew, asking if each was at the wedding. "We, um," he sighed, "We were very much in love, Jack."
"Do you have to be in love to get married?"
Again, Hotch paused as Jack's line of questioning threw him. "I suppose not, but it helps a whole lot."
Jack hit his finger off his chin. "Miss Penny and Mister Derek are in love."
"You think so?" Hotch asked, humored, internally breathing a sigh of relief that the questions had moved beyond himself and Haley. Jack nodded. "Why do you think so?"
"Because they always smile at each other and they always touch each other."
Hotch paled as he remembered that Garcia and Morgan had baby-sat a few weeks ago. "Touch each other how?"
Jack shot him a quirky look. "On the arms and shoulders and hands. Mister Derek likes to play with her hair, too."
"That he does," Hotch agreed, turning his attention to the couple as they were exchanging vows. It was Morgan playing subtly with Garcia's hair during a briefing that first clued him into their changing relationship.
"Did you play with Mom's hair?"
Hotch looked down at Jack. "Sometimes. Mom didn't like to have her hair played with much, though."
Jack reached up and ran his hand through Hotch's hair, giggling. "I like it when Miss JJ brushes my hair with her fingers. Does that mean she loves me?"
"Miss JJ loves you very much, but it's a different kind of love than the kind that makes you get married."
"I know. She loves me like a son," he replied, frankly. He cut Hotch off when Hotch open his mouth. "She told me so. She said that she couldn't love me more if I was her own and if I ever needed her, I just had to call."
Hotch felt his heart skip. "When did she tell you this?"
Jack looked down at his feet. "When I ran away after I saw you and Beth kissing."
"I see." Hotch frowned, recalling the fear he had felt when Jack disappeared out of his room that evening and the complete relief when JJ called an hour later to let him know Jack had ended up at her apartment. She had kept him overnight and when Jack returned the next morning, he was a very different kid, happier and lighter somehow. No matter how often Hotch prodded JJ and Jack about what had happened that night, they both refused to tell him. The relationship with Beth fizzled soon afterward.
"Are Miss Penny and Mister Derek going to kiss?" Jack's eyes were wide over the thought. Hotch nodded. "Ew!"
Hotch shushed him quickly as several heads turned in their direction. "Some day, you'll understand that sometimes adults want to show how much they care about each other by kissing. Someday, you're going to want to kiss someone, too."
Jack made a disgusted face, not believing his dad. His face turned thoughtful. "Do you like kissing, Dad?"
"I do," he relied, honestly, as a blush crept up his neck.
"Do you like kissing Miss JJ?"
Hotch nearly choked on the gasp of air he inhaled. "I, uh, I-" Hotch forced himself to calm down. "How did you know that I kissed JJ?"
Jack smiled widely. "I didn't. Me and Uncle Dave and Miss Emily and Mister Spencer and Mister Derek and Miss Penny profiled it." Jack turned around, sitting on his knees to lean across two rows where Rossi sat. "Uncle Dave! I got my dad to admit he kissed JJ! I win!"
"Good job, buddy!" Rossi hissed back, beaming at his nephew, earning laughter from the people around them.
Hotch glared at him before forcing Jack forward. "You and I are going to have a long talk about what you are and are not allowed to talk to Uncle Dave about or else, you won't be spending anymore alone time with him."
Jack nodded, taking the threat seriously. He concentrated on the wedding as the official announced, "You may now kiss the bride." Jack stood on the bench to clap and cheer with everyone else while Morgan gave Garcia a kiss that had Hotch averting his eyes and Rossi catcalling.
"Dad?" Jack asked, putting his hand on Hotch's shoulder. "I'm glad you love JJ. You can kiss her if you want to."
"Thanks, Jack," Hotch told him, once again marveling over his young son. He glanced at JJ as she walked down the aisle behind the happy couple. She tossed him a wink. Hotch was suddenly ecstatic that Jessica and her husband had come along and agreed to watch the boys for the night in exchange for a Las Vegas vacation. He intended to show her just how much kissing he wanted to do.