|Pieces of Ourselves
Author: Wiccagirl24 PM
"I knew what these people were like going in. It wasn't supposed to get this far but I knew the worst case scenarios. It was worth the risk." It had to be. Seven lives for a few new nightmares was a good trade, wasn't it? AU for 6.24 Supply & DemandRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Friendship - Jennifer J./JJ & A. Hotchner/Hotch - Chapters: 13 - Words: 23,984 - Reviews: 51 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 04-06-12 - Published: 01-30-12 - id: 7789572
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hotch barely had a moment to react before a paper bag was sailing through the air, landing half on the desk and almost in his lap. "What's this?"
"It's this thing called food, Aaron. Us mere mortals ingest some a couple times a day to keep our bodies fueled. I know you run pretty well on coffee alone but I thought you might want to try something new." Rossi pulled a chair up to the other side of the desk, moving two photos of Jack and a file to clear enough space for his own dinner.
"I've had more than just coffee today." There'd been some kind of breakfast sandwich he'd gotten in the commissary when he'd picked up JJ's bagel; it had been dry but edible. The Italian sausage sandwich he unwrapped, dripping marinara sauce, was anything but dry. "Vinny's?"
"If we're going to burn the midnight oil we'd better have good food. You've been holed up in here most of the day and I haven't seen you leave this room in six hours except to use the bathroom." Rossi took his own sandwich out of its bag. He smoothed the paper neatly, covering the corner of the desk before he unwrapped the loaded Italian sub. He didn't start eating, though, not until he'd set a bottle of whiskey and two glasses on the desk.
Hotch frowned. "Last time I checked we're still on the clock."
"The normal workday ended about two hours ago. Reid and Morgan left twenty minutes ago, Ashley just after them. She still doesn't feel comfortable being the first one to leave, like she's letting people down if she doesn't stay longer than everyone." It was an observation coming close to the edge of the anti-team profiling rule, but it was just the two of them so it didn't really count. Hotch needed to know things about the team dynamic, and Rossi kept a sharp eye on his team. His team, of course, included Hotch who seemed to have the sudden need to bury himself in manila folders. "Why don't you tell me what you're looking for, exactly, while I pour the drinks?"
"A small one for me. I have work to do, still." Hotch moved the folders he'd been going over out of the way, careful to keep them in the same order. Though he hated taking a break he understood the wisdom in it, at least for long enough to refuel. "Thanks, for this."
"Yeah." Rossi shrugged, dismissing the thanks; after all it was just one of those things you did for family. "Now what has you holed up in here when you could be at home with Jack? Pretty sure eighteen arrests and two in the morgue earns you an early Friday night."
"There has to be a way to find the clients somehow. They were too organized, and too much of the group's dynamic relied on having enough dirt on everyone involved to not have that information. The clues have to be here." Hotch swept his hand over everything on the desk, every piece of evidence they'd gathered in a week, everything Andi had found, and a transcript of every interview his team had conducted in the past four days. The only thing not on his desk was JJ's interview with Andi, but he'd been there for all but a few minutes and knew everything.
"We might not be able to find them. These people are experts in hiding and fading into the background." It was a reminder they all needed sometimes; that no matter how hard they worked they didn't catch every unsub.
"These people think that having money lets them do whatever they want, including torturing, raping and killing human beings that have been stolen from their homes as a form of entertainment. They're not going to stop thinking that way just because one of their sources has dried up." They'd caught the people at one auction site, but not the site before that or the ones before that. There'd been hundreds of clients over the past few years, and only a handful of them were locked up. All the rest were free, including the son of a bitch that haunted JJ's dreams. He knew that Rossi was right, that they wouldn't be able to find them all, but that wouldn't stop him from trying. He wouldn't be able to close the case until he could look JJ in the eye and tell her that her rapist was behind bars.
"You're no good to anyone if you burn yourself out, Aaron. All week long you've been the first one in and the only night you've left at a reasonable hour was when you went to pick up JJ. She looks better, by the way. Too tired and pale still, but better."
"She hasn't been sleeping very well. Nightmares, not that she'll tell anyone about them." He hadn't realized just how much he needed to eat, until the first bite of the sandwich had him salivating. He was starving, which meant he needed to eat before he let Dave talk him into drinking anything, or it would hit him hard.
"No one but you?" Rossi mused. "Anything I should know about you and JJ, Aaron?"
"No," Hotch answered, a little too sharply and quickly. He hadn't meant to say anything at all about JJ, but for a week he'd been listening to everyone's concerns and sharing none of his own.
"At least nothing like you're thinking. She had dinner at my place and fell asleep." And had woken scared and close to crying, though she'd wiped away any tears before he'd seen them.
"She'd not with Will anymore, and she doesn't work for you. If you..."
"She needs as many friends as she can get right now. She trusts me, and I'm not about to betray that." He didn't bother trying to deny how he felt. Dave had worked it out some time ago, and thanks to a home cooked meal and too much wine he'd gotten his friend to confirm it not long after JJ left for her new job.
"No one who knows you as well as JJ does would worry about your intentions. Maybe knowing someone cares about her like that would help her right now."
"Closing this case is the best way to help JJ right now." Hotch pushed the remains of his sandwich and his still full glass to the side. He grabbed the file that he'd been working on and opened it again.
"That barely counted as a breather." Rossi shook his head, looking down at his own sandwich that was barely half gone. "At least get up and stretch your legs."
"I'm picking Jack up from Jessica's at ten am tomorrow, and I promised we would spend the whole day together. That gives me right now to work on this. You know what a difference a day can make on a case like this." He couldn't disappoint Jack, though. Dave was right, he had been wrapped up in this case in a way he hadn't been since Emily had 'died' months ago. His son was a trooper, but it wasn't fair to keep shuffling him off from place to place, no matter how good the reason.
"You should take him to the zoo. I have a friend, she can probably get you guys in to see the baby bears up close and personal." With a sigh Dave reached for the closest file; he didn't have anything better to do tonight, and someone needed to make sure Hotch actually went home before he had to pick up Jack.
"A friend?" Hotch looked up from his report just in time to snatch the folder from Dave; there was no reason for him to read JJ's hospital report. He'd made her a promise. Instead he passed over a pile of bank statements; Dave was the best on the team for spotting inaccuracies and hidden data in financials.
"We dated a few times, nothing serious." Dave shrugged nonchalantly. "Pass me a highlighter?"
"Good thing you didn't marry her or we wouldn't be allowed through the front gate." Hotch's phone rang as he was picking up the pen; he tossed it across the desk and answered without looking at the screen. "Agent Hotchner."
"Hey, it's me." JJ, curled up in the corner of her couch, frowned a little. There was a note of formality that wasn't usually in his voice away from the office. "Are you still at work?"
"I'm having drinks with Dave." He took a sip of his whiskey to keep it from being a complete lie. Dave rolled his eyes. "Are you alright?"
"I didn't call because I need anything." She skirted the edge of lying as well, not mentioning that she had three lights on in her living room because it seemed safer or that any noise outside her door made her jump. "I just wanted to say thank you for the cookies that were on the porch when I got home today. I didn't want to call earlier and bother you."
"You're never a bother, JJ. And I'm glad you liked them; it was all Jack's idea." He'd brought it up five times a day since the morning they'd had pancakes, convinced that they would make 'Miss JJ' feel better. Hotch had finally made them the night before. "Did you get the picture too?"
"I did. Tell Jack it's on my refrigerator." It was tether there by alphabet magnets that Henry had been too young to understand when he left. She wondered if he'd recognize any of the letters now.
"Jack's of the opinion that chocolate chip cookies are far better than medicine for whatever ails you. He says you'll be all better by the time the tin's empty." Hotch wished the world was as simple as it was through the eyes of a five year old. He was glad Jack still saw it that way, though.
"Jack's been spending too much time with his Aunt Garcia, I think." There was still a pile of food on her counter, and full shelves in the fridge. "I better let you get back to whatever you and Rossi were talking about. I just wanted to say thanks."
"I'll pass it on to Jack." He held onto the phone until the click on the other end told him she'd hung up.
"She always has been able to open up to you more than anyone else on the team," Rossi commented, watching his friend carefully. "I'm glad she has someone."
"She deserves more." Like a closed case. Hotch picked up the file he'd been reading, even more driven now to find the answers he was looking for.