By Any Other Name
I only own my own demented musings, not Buffy or Criminal MindsSummary:
After a rough case, the BAU team look forward to their holiday celebra-tions.
This started out as an exploration of each CM characters’ Christmas celebrations, but that story spawned with my Buffy/CM crossover. This tale is outside the timeline for that, and has little to do with Buffy, save that Santa’s not overly warm and fuzzy. It’s a bit rough and not what I had in mind for a Christmas fic, but it sparked some ideas for an alternate crossover. I’m curious if anyone thinks it’s worth expanding on for next year.
"Man, am I glad that´s over," Morgan said as the bureau jet took off. The muscular black man leaned back stretched. His legs spilled across the aisle.
"I´m not," Elle groused. Aaron blinked and looked up at the brunette. She sat next to Morgan on the jet´s sofa, arms crossed and slumped down.
"Why wouldn´t you?" Garcia sounded appalled. The normally cheerful blonde had had a rough go of it this case, having to break into Gentry’s homemade operating system and scour his gruesome videos for his encoded journal entries. Aaron frowned down at the paperwork in front of him. He wished he could do something to lift her spirits.
"Oh, I´m glad we caught the creep, and that he can´t hurt anymore women, but the damn bust made national news. Now my mother won’t accept work as an excuse not to come home for Christmas."
"But family´s what Christmas is about!" Garcia protested.
"And here I thought it was about the birth of Christ," Gideon said dryly.
"Of course you honor that if you´re Christian," Garcia said dismissively, if inaccurately. "But there´s so much more to it!" Given that Garcia’s normally flashy attire had distinct red and green themes lately, her passion about the holiday came as no surprise. "The gathering of family, celebrating generosity—"
"Spoiled nieces and nephews throwing tantrums because Mommy and Daddy didn´t go far enough into debt," Elle said. "Aunts looking down on you for not marrying and popping out your own brats, and grown men having chugging contests with beer or eggnog. As far as I´m concerned, family´s best appreciated away from the holidays—in small doses and even smaller groups."
"I thought you were an only child," Reid commented as he closed his book. He brushed a stray lock of light brown hair back behind his ear as he turned toward the conversation.
"I am. My father was the youngest of seven, and without any family of her own, my mother always insists on attending the Greenaway Christmas reunion."
"Whoa," Morgan said. "All the siblings, their kids, and grandkids under one roof?"
"Plus my grandma and minus those smart enough to celebrate with their in-laws. Another excuse I don´t have."
"Unfortunately, it’s just going to be me and my mom this year. I always enjoy my extended family reunions," JJ said as she walked over to the plane´s kitchenette with her coffee mug.
"Try being the only sane one in the bunch sometime," Elle retorted.
The blond media liaison laughed. "Trust me, we have our share of screwballs, but they´re still family." Aaron smiled briefly as he thought of his own family. Screwball was too mild a term for any of them, but he did adore them.
The ones he maintained contact with, anyway.
"Well, I’m looking forward to Christmas with my entire family," Morgan said. "Me, my mom, my sisters, and the finest home cooking. What about you, Reid? Going home for the holidays?"
“Christmas… isn’t a good time for visiting my mother. I’m going to spend a few days relaxing at my apartment and my favorite bookstore.”
“Oh, you should join me!” Garcia told him. “I’m playing Santa at a downtown shelter. You can be my elf and do magic tricks for the kids.”
“I’m not sure that—”
“Come on, it’ll be fun!” Garcia walked over to the genius and tugged him to his feet. She placed a hand on the side of each of his shoulders and nodded in satisfaction. "You don´t even have to worry about a costume. I have something that´ll work."
“Garcia, children find me odd.”
"You’ll be an elf.
They won´t care.”
Reid looked skeptical. “I’m told I scare small children.”
“Reid, the small ones are going to be scared of Santa
,” JJ said, eliciting an offended gasp from Garcia. “You won’t even register.”
"Scared of Santa?" Elle asked. "The little brats are who he´s meant for."
"Santa´s dress isn´t everyday wear," JJ replied. "That tends to make small children shy away before they’re old enough to enjoy believing in Santa."
“How small are we talking about?” Elle asked. “I figured out he was a scam when I was seven
“You know, I don’t think I ever believed in Santa.”
“Of course you didn’t, my little genius,” Garcia said in response to Reid’s statement. “Doesn’t mean you can’t have fun pretending you do. Surely you sat on his lap.”
Morgan chuckled. “I did, until it wasn´t cool. What about you?"
"Not after I learned the truth,” Elle said. “JJ?”
“’Til I was eleven. And once when I was twenty.” Everyone turned to look at her. “My cousins were two and three and didn’t want to get near him. I hoped sitting on his lap would persuade them that he was okay.”
“Didn´t work?” Gideon guessed.
“Not in the least. Though my sister got a good laugh and made sure to take plenty of pictures.”
Aaron smiled softly to himself. He could see Haley laughing and taking pictures, then
sitting on Santa’s lap when they were teens. Perhaps even now.
“What about you?” JJ asked. “Did you... have Santa growing up?”
“Not at home,” Gideon said. “My parents considered anything associated Christmas Christian, and told me early on that he wasn’t real. I did sing in school Christmas plays though.”
"Did you like that?" Reid asked.
"I like singing."
Aaron wrote ‘copm’ and scratched it out, only to rewrite it. He grumbled mentally to himself. He had planned on recopying the form to make the handwriting more legible, but for once he would like not to have stupid glitches.
“Hey, Boss Man,” Garcia called cheerfully. “When did you quit believing in Santa? And--”
“I didn’t,” Aaron said automatically as he finally got out ´computer analyst´ on the form. He stopped writing as what he said registered. Oh s—
"So you didn´t pretend he was real," Garcia said. "But when did you—?”
“No. I meant that I didn´t have the same Santa you did. Belief or play´s a non-issue." Aaron put his pen down and massaged his hand. "So… What were your favorite holiday foods?" Please let them drop the subject
, he thought.
"What do you mean not same
Santa?" Morgan asked. "If your folks were Jehovah´s Witnesses or whatever, you wouldn´t have him, period."
"It’s not important.” Aaron picked his pen back up. “What style of home cooking does your family do?” His question came out harsher than he had intended.
"Hotch,” Gideon said, a hint of question in his voice. "They´re just curious."You mean
He sighed and leaned back into his seat. “If you must know, Santa Claus wasn’t big in my home town. When I first heard about him, I asked my grandmother. She explained that he was a deeply disturbed individual that disemboweled children during the fourteenth century, whose legend somehow collided with a saint who liked to give out toys and birthed a tale for parents to bribe and coerce their kids into behaving.” That mouthful was a bare-bones interpretation of Anyanka’s lecture. Spit out at a near-Reid-babble-rate, Aaron hoped it was enough that his teammates would let it lie and not pelt him with questions. He tore his eyes away from the jet’s ceiling to face them.
Everyone looked thrown, but Garcia stared at Aaron, eyes wide with a hand over her gaping mouth. Reid spoke first: “Oh. That... is
different. Um... of traditional holiday foods, I’ve always been partial to ham, and the green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup sauce,” he added quickly. “You?”
“Roast duck with oyster dressing and lemon meringue pie,” Aaron answered promptly, relieved. A puzzled look crossed Reid’s face, and Aaron shrugged. “For my grandmother, that is traditional.” Sort of. The woman liked creating new ´traditions´ for each identity she assumed.
“The same grandmother who told you Santa Claus was based on a serial killer?” Gideon asked. Aaron gave the man his best glare that said ´that conversation is over´. Unfortunately, as the former unit chief, the man had some immunity to Aaron´s silent commands. "How old were you?”
"It´s no wonder you´re always so serious," Garcia said before he could decide his response. Something that felt uncomfortably like pity filled her voice. "How could anyone do that to a kid?"
"It´s hardly traumatizing when all you´ve heard about the guy is that he might break into your home next week," Hotch said dryly. "In fact, it was nice to have a sense of distance from him." That elicited a chuckle from Morgan and a snort from Elle.
"Forgive me sir,” Garcia said, “But that´s still a… a fucked-up thing to tell a child!"
"Perhaps, but then, so is a father abandoning his children in the woods where they stumble into the lair of a cannibalistic woman.”
Garcia blinked. "What?"
A couple others looked confused by Aaron’s statement, while Reid frowned thoughtfully. JJ spoke with certainty: "Hansel and Gretel."
Aaron nodded. "Never cared for that one, but it’s hardly an extreme example of a fairy tale. The world isn´t always a cheery place, Garcia and children´s tales reflect that."
“Actually, the purpose of fairy tales, while confirming children’s fears about the world, is to provide a sense of security, by bolstering the child’s sense of courage and adventure. The fact that they’re placed far away and long ago, al—”
“Thanks Reid,” Garcia said quickly. “But Santa’s not part of that. He’s all about fun and innocence, and the belief in magic and the cheery parts of the world. Why would she choose to lie about that?”
“She didn’t,” Aaron said bluntly. “She believes what she told me, but it’s hardly a popular theory among professional historians.” Garcia’s expression made him feel like he had strangled a puppy in front of her.
“You think it could be true?” Garcia asked at the same time Gideon said: “You believe it?”
Aaron sighed. Why the hell couldn’t I keep my mouth shut?
“I’m saying I’ve never felt like researching the matter, and am too fond of my grandmother to tell her she’s mistaken, even if I did find evidence of that.”
Garcia sank into the seat next to Reid. “But you think it’s possible. How am I supposed to smile at those kids’ faces and tell them that yes, there are Santa’s in the world, even for the homeless with, well, this
going through my mind?”
“Well, he’s also—if it’s true—he’s also based on a real person who gave toys to poor kids.”
never turns out creepy in our line of work!” Garcia got back up and began pacing through the jet’s aisle.
“Baby Girl,” Morgan said reassuringly as he stood up. “That’s not always—”
“The point is, I’m supposed to be cheery, not thinking about the yucky stuff we deal with!”
“Then don’t,” Aaron said firmly. “His name wasn’t Santa or Claus or even Father Christmas. And I doubt many fourteenth century men wore freaky red clown suits." For some reason, Garcia tensed up and mouthed the word clown. "Santa today’s just what you said he’s supposed to be.” He stood and gently laid a hand on her arm. “You’re always the one to cheer us up despite the horrors we face. Roleplaying for some kids will be a cakewalk.”
“That’s right, Baby Girl. You’ll do fine.”
“The red suit won’t hurt you,” Jess joked softly and patted his arm as they made their way through the crowded shelter.
“Yes, thank you," Aaron hissed back, sarcastically. He wondered why their holiday plans changed so thoroughly. He had no objection to helping out at the shelter, but the minute he told the girls about the conversation on the plane, they got all gung-ho about showing to support Reid and Garcia´s performance. For all that Haley had wanted a holiday just for them, she seemed very enthusiastic about spending time with his teammates.
Or perhaps she just wanted to make sure that Aaron had not completely traumatized them.
"Garcia´s the kindest person I´ve ever met," Aaron said.
"That can´t be good in your line of work."
"It´s not. But fortunately she´s also one of the strongest."
"My grandmother. Some fellow agents. Gary, and..." Jess turned to face him and raised an eyebrow in question. "A pair of sisters I made family—with their help, of course."
Aaron smirked. "I thought so."
"...With my sister, parking the car," he heard Haley say as they approached Reid and Garcia. The technical analyst had dressed Reid in a green sweater with white snowflakes knitted in that sparkled. Probably silver threads in the yarn. A green version of a Santa hat lay lopsided on Reid´s head. In an infant sling across Haley’s chest, Jack stared at the hat as he sucked on his right hand, which seemed to make Reid uneasy. Garcia was all ready in costume, complete with beard and red sack held in one hand. "They may be—"
"Boss Man!" Garcia called cheerfully as she spotted him.
“‘Boss Man’?" Jess asked, sounding too amused for Aaron´s comfort.
"Garcia, this is my sister-in-law, Jessica Brooks. Jess, these are my colleagues, Penelope Garcia and Spencer Reid."
"Pleased to meet you," Jess smiled as she extended her hand.
"Likewise Ms. Brooks," Garcia said she shook Jess’ hand.
"Call me Jessica, Santa," Jess said as some children entered the room.
"You´re looking very festive today, Santa," Aaron said. "I´ll leave you to your work." As they walked off Aaron patted Reid´s shoulder and smiled. Reid nervously the returned smile, and within minutes the show started.