|Up on the Rooftop
Author: ilovetvalot PM
A lot of confidences are shared on the Bureau's rooftop. TWOSHOT. Takes place after the season premiereRated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - A. Hotchner/Hotch & Jennifer J./JJ - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,631 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 11-26-11 - Published: 11-25-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7582151
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
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Up on the Rooftop
Inhaling deeply as she stepped out on the roof of the building, Jennifer Jareau quickly looked around, ensuring she was alone. Shoulders sagging with relief as she confirmed she was indeed the solitary occupant of the rooftop, she sank into one of the iron chairs dotting the concrete.
Perhaps the isolation would do her good. She'd had her fill of fierce looks and openly hostile gazes directed at her for the day, and if she could only find a moment to collect her thoughts, she just might survive until midnight.
Running a restless hand through her hair, JJ sighed as she dropped her chin, her thoughts refusing to remain silent. Jesus, she'd thought she was prepared for her colleagues' reaction for her duplicity regarding Emily's alleged death.
But, nothing could have prepared her for today.
Hearing the steel door open behind her, JJ tensed as she looked over her shoulder. Automatically relaxing as she noted the intruder's identity, she forced herself to smile. "Hey," she said softly.
"Hey, yourself," Aaron Hotchner's deep voice returned as he slowly let the door slip back into the jamb. "I wondered where you'd disappeared to," he offered quietly as he walked toward her, dropping into the vacant bench seat beside her. Scratching his bearded face, he offered her a sidelong glance. "Any particular reason you're sitting out here in the chilly air?"
"Trust me, Hotch, it feels warmer out here than it does in there," she responded ruefully, jerking her head toward the closed entrance to the building.
"We knew it would be hard," Hotch murmured, leaning back as he gazed out at the starry sky. Crossing his ankle over his knee, he sighed. "We didn't exactly win ourselves any points for popularity, but, eventually, they'll recognize that we acted in the best entrance of the team."
"You almost sound convincing," JJ replied dryly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as the wind kicked up around them. "Unfortunately, in the meantime, there's hell to pay."
"JJ, you didn't need to share in the blame," Hotch said softly, reaching out a hand to cover hers, "but I appreciate the fact that you were willing to do so. It meant a lot to me."
Smiling faintly as she stretched her legs out in front of her, she shrugged. "It wasn't fair to make them think you were entirely responsible when you weren't." Personal experience had shown her that this man had bore the brunt of too many decisions alone, and she had made herself a promise that she would never allow him to take full responsibility for decisions that were not his alone to make. "No man can play Hercules forever, Hotch," she reminded him softly.
"I suppose you're right," he acknowledged with a slight tilt of his head, his dark hair falling across his forehead. "But I know how hard this has to be for you. Especially with Reid."
"He's angrier than I've ever seen him," JJ admitted truthfully, her frown deepening as she remembered the furious betrayal that had burned in Spencer's eyes when she'd finally told him the complete and unvarnished truth about the events that had occurred over the past months. "I'm not sure...I don't know if he'll come back, Hotch," JJ confessed huskily, her stomach churning with worry.
Hotch tightened his fingers around JJ's for the barest of seconds. "It may take some time, JJ. But we both know him and we know that while he's hurt, he's also quick to forgive once he's examined all sides of the equations. But he has to have time."
"What if it's too much time for him?" JJ asked, worry evident in her tone as she turned to meet Hotch's eyes. The shards of moonlight glinted off his face, only to fade away as a cloud drifted across the darkened sky. "We both know what could happen, Hotch."
"And we both also know how far he's come from where he was before," Hotch countered, shaking his head. "The Reid I saw today is not the same man that was overcome by his fears and betrayals before, JJ. That Reid was fragile...uncertain of himself. This Reid is..."
"Pissed," JJ supplied readily, her memory vividly recalling the icy gaze that had followed her most of the day.
"That's one word for it," Hotch acknowledged as he sighed. "And, unfortunately, it's certainly accurate."
Her lips tightening, JJ shivered as the evening breeze suddenly blew colder, her thin shirt a poor defense against the gusts that whipped across the open roof top. "You know, I've always blamed myself for what happened to him then," she finally whispered as she wrapped her arms around her stomach. "And now…."
"You're no more to blame now than you were then, JJ," Hotch assured her quietly, glancing up at the shuttered moon, the city lights reflecting into the darkened sky. "Any one of the others would have made the same decision we reached if they'd been put into the situation." He paused before adding, voice firm, "Then and now."
"Do you really believe that, Hotch?" JJ asked seriously, turning sideways in her seat to face him, her shoulder leaning against his.
"I sincerely do," Hotch replied with a nod. "I don't think very many of them would admit it at the moment. But I think they each realize in their own way that protecting Emily was our only option."
"I hope you're right," JJ murmured, unconvinced, her mind entirely too jammed with the disapproval of her friends and colleagues to allow such a simple statement to be taken at face value. Letting her eyes settle on the man beside her, it was easy to see even in the dim light that the last half a year had taken its toll on him. New lines marred his handsome face. The hair at his temples was threaded with more gray. Even his eyes bore a heavy weariness that only too many sleepless nights spent worrying could bring. Tilting her head to the side, she asked, worried, "Are you okay, Aaron?"
"The bad guy is dead," he stated flatly, turning his head slightly to avoid meeting her penetrating gaze. "Emily is safe. That's all that matters."
"That isn't what I asked," JJ countered evenly, well accustomed to the older man's evasiveness when it came to his personal life. And while he may have possessed the same ability to compartmentalize as Emily, JJ knew that she could outlast him, no matter how determined he might be.
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