I'm a big fan of both CM and Higher Ground. This is set just a couple months after 200.
"Matt?" JJ said knocking on the section chief's door, she didn't wait for an answer before walking in. "I need your help."
"I'll call you back," he said to the person on the other the phone, just before putting the receiver down. "What is it?" Matt asked as JJ took a seat in front of his desk.
"My past," Matt looked confused, so JJ went on. "I…Uh… When I was a teenager…Well I had a troubled childhood…I'm different person from who I was then," she looked worried, like her life could fall apart at any moment.
"Jennifer, we're all different people to who we were as kids, it's a part of life," Matt stated trying to console JJ.
"I know," she said pushing a piece of hair out of face and tucking it behind her ear. "Hotch is going into an interrogation with a suspect for our case."
"Good, I was starting to think you weren't getting anywhere with it," Matt said bringing the case file to lie in front of him.
"He's not guilty," JJ stated like there was no doubt about it.
"I thought Hotch was about to interrogate him?" He asked flipping through the papers.
"Then how could you know?" Matt questioned the agent and his friend.
"I just do."
"What is it?"
"I know him," JJ said quietly, almost ashamed that she did.
"From your past?"
"How can I help?" He asked not understanding why JJ came to him, or what she wanted him to do.
"I need to speak to him. But I don't want anyone to know why. The rest of the team are in New York. Hotch is the only one who is here. But he can't know what this is about. It needs to be private," JJ asked, putting her demands into words and leaning forward.
"I thought you didn't want any more secrets?"
"I don't," JJ said taken aback, she knew what she said, but this wasn't what she was referring to. "But this isn't the same thing."
"Because it's different," JJ said frustrated. "Can you help me?" She asked in a calmer tone.
"Of course." JJ smiled in relief. "On a few conditions," he didn't wait for JJ to respond. "Your life can't be in any danger," he didn't want anything else to happen to her. She had been through enough the past few months.
"This guy doesn't get a free pass because you know him. He's still a suspect. You need to find out what he knows."
"Okay. Anything else?" She asked.
"One day you tell me what's going on…properly. And if you don't want to tell me, you need to tell someone. Will, Emily or Hotch, it doesn't matter who. If you've been keeping something to yourself for this long, it can't be good."
"One day," she said agreeing, Even though she really didn't want to.
"How am I meant to do this?" Matt asked not knowing what he could do.
"Call him to a meeting, you're good at thinking on your feet."
"Agent Hotchner," Matt said walking into the interrogation. "Can I speak to you out here?"
Hotch didn't get up straight away, he gave him a look that said 'What are you doing? I'm busy.'
"Now," Matt said.
Hotch reluctantly got up. "I'm not finished with you yet," he said as he followed Cruz out. "What is so important that couldn't wait?"
"You missed the department budget meeting."
"What budget meeting?" Hotch asked confused.
"The one we've had scheduled for a week now," Matt stated with such authority he almost believed it himself.
"Couldn't this wait a half an hour?"
"I'm interrogating a suspect."
"He can wait a half an hour. You can get another agent on it. Make him sweat under the confusion."
"No other member of my team is here."
"I saw Agent Jareau at her desk while I was coming down here."
"Fine," Hotch said, he could tell there was something up. But he had only just started, maybe a switch wasn't all that bad.
"Mr Barringer, this is Agent Jareau, she'll be conducting your interview from here," Cruz said as JJ walked into the room.
"What happened to the other guy?" He asked not taking his eyes off Cruz.
"He's been called away on something more important. I'll leave you two to it," he said nodding to JJ, who had taken the empty seat, before leaving.
"So Scott, what are you doing here?" JJ said flipping her hair out of her view, making this the first time they had been face to face in about fifteen years.
"Shelby?" Scott looked as if he had seen a ghost.
"Hi," she spoke cautiously. She had never imagined this day, and didn't know how to start off.
"Why did that guy say Agent Jareau? You married?"
"Well yes, but…"
"You got married? And you took your husband's name?" Scott couldn't believe that the girl he was once in love with was sitting in front of him. And married? It didn't seem like Shelby.
"You didn't get married?" He asked confused at the situation.
"No, I didn't take my husband's name."
"I don't understand. Then who's Jareau?" He questioned trying to pronounce it the way Matt had.
"I am," JJ stated.
"I still don't understand Shel,"
"Scott, I'm the one who's going to be asking the questions."
"What I can't know what's been happening with you for the past fifteen years?"
"Why are you here?" JJ asked starting her interrogation.
"Why am I here? Why are you here? The last time I saw you-" Scott's voice rose.
"Look I'm not the one sitting in an FBI interrogation room…As a suspect," JJ started to snap, but added 'as a suspect' after she realised that she was too sitting in an FBI interrogation room.
"I don't know why I'm here, you all made some kind of mistake," Scott said, but JJ could tell that wasn't the truth.
"Okay, you want answers?" JJ asked knowing she wasn't going to get far without giving him something.
"Well I need answers first."
"You give a little, I'll give a little."
"Fine. What did you do?" She asked, knowing he probably wouldn't answer but still hoping he would, for old times' sake.
"I didn't do anything," Scott said as he leaned back in his chair.
"Fine, we'll start with something easier. What do you do?" JJ asked. She already knew the answer, but needed somewhere to start.
"I'm an investment banker," he stated proudly.
"So you went to college?"
"Ended up getting a football scholarship."
"Really?" JJ said proudly. She was so thankful that he had a good life after Horizon.
"Not as good as I could have got if I went back when my dad wanted me to, but it was good enough. My turn?"
"Why did you never call or write back?"
"I started with an easy one," she said quietly, wishing he didn't start with this.
"I want to know," Scott demanded.
"I couldn't deal with it. I had to leave. If I didn't, I wouldn't have made it," JJ stuttered as she looked down at her hands.
"So why did I never hear from you again," Scott asked in a tone mixed with anger and worry.
"I wanted nothing to do with Horizon," JJ explained.
"What about me? What about Daisy?"
"You were part of memories I didn't want."
"So no goodbye, no closure. We deserved better." He still remembered the first time Shelby had done this too him, it was even harder the second time around.
"I know. But I was a kid," JJ replied remorsefully, knowing she could have done better. "You knew if I couldn't handle something, I ran."
"You ran far away."
"I had too."
"I would have helped," Scott said leaning forward.
"It's my turn now. Why do you think you're here?" JJ said switching subjects quickly.
"You've made a mistake," he stated as he rubbed his eyes.
"Truthful answers Scott," JJ could tell he was lying.
"Why would I lie? I was always honest with you," Scott said, but JJ knew exactly what that was hinting at.
"Wow! You hold grudges for a long time," JJ was surprised, it had been more than fifteen years since this had all happened.
"I think it's deserved."
"No, you know what? It's not," JJ replied, her voice rising as she stood up from her chair and walked around the room.
"You always said you were okay with it, but you never were. You still see me as that sixteen year old that needed rescuing, but I'm not that girl. I've changed," she exclaimed as she put her hands on her hips.
"I can tell… So tell me who you are?" He said trying to calm her down
"And then you can tell me who you are," JJ replied after about fifteen seconds.
"I haven't changed," Scott stated as JJ picked up her chair and brought it to the side closest to him.
"We've both changed, Scott. You wouldn't be here if you hadn't," she said leaning forward in her chair.
"Okay so what don't I know about you Shelby?" He asked.
"My names not Shelby, it's JJ, Well Jennifer."
"Jareau… Jennifer Jareau…JJ," Scott said trying to work out her name.
"So name change? Why?"
"I couldn't be Shelby Merrick anymore. Not after… Not after…Well you know," JJ stuttered she hated talking about this.
"Where did you get Jennifer Jareau from?"
"Jennifer was my middle name, and Jareau was Mom's maiden name," JJ explained.
"So Shelby Merrick just didn't exist anymore?"
"I wanted a new start, felt like it was the best way," she explained.
"So you changed everything about who you were?"
"No, I changed the parts I didn't like about myself, which there were a lot."
"I don't see how that could've helped."
"When I started college, I didn't want anyone to know that part of my life. I felt like I deserved that."
"I don't see why you would change everything about who you were."
"I didn't. I rewrote my past."
"Same thing in my books," he remarked in a hushed tone.
"Out of everyone I would have thought you were the one person who would understand," JJ said, her eyes stinging from tears that were forming in her eyes. She blinked them back, she needed to be stronger than this.
"Well maybe I would have. If I heard from you. Even once," he remarked angrily, he had been devastated about this for a long time.
"Scott!" JJ called out pleading for him to understand.
"Why did you come in here?"
"It's my job," she stated, as she rubbed away at her nose.
"You mean you were willing to give up everything? For your job?"
"No, I was willing to give up everything because you're not meant to be here, and we need to prove it. And I don't want to give up everything," she explained.
"So you're saying nobody knows who you are?" He questioned her, not truly believing it himself.
"Nobody knows, Scott."
"Not the guys who were in here?"
"Not your husband?"
"Nobody knows," she answered looking right into his eyes.
"What did Daisy say? It was poison and it would eat you up inside?" He hoped this would evoke a response in her.
"It did, but that was when I hadn't come to terms with what I had done. You helped me."
"It was such a big part of your life. How could you just forget it?" Scott asked, he wanted to know because his past was still gnawing at him. It wasn't constantly, but every now and then he would remember, and it would hit him like a tonne of bricks.
"I didn't forget."
"Then how could you have moved passed it? Like it never happened?"
"I…I didn't," JJ stammered "I let it effect my work. I know what victims feel. I know how to console their families. But I don't dwell on it. I use it. It's made me better at my job," she explained, hoping he would understand.
"So you're glad it happened?"
"What? Of course not. I wish none of it ever happened. But if it hadn't, I wouldn't be where I am today. And I love my life now."
"So what lies have you told to make Shelby's past seem innocent?" Scott asked.
"It's my turn to ask a question," JJ said not wanting to answer.
"Fine, but it's still going to be my next question,"
"Why haven't you asked why you are here?"
"I know why I'm here."
"Why are you here Scott?"
"The embezzlement at my company, you're talking to everyone."
"No, Scott it's not about money fraud," JJ said shaking her head. "I'm a profiler with the Behavioural Analysis Unit. We mostly investigate Serial Murders."
"Murder?" He asked surprised. He rubbed his neck. He didn't know what was happening.
"I need to know what you know."
"I don't know anything."
"Three women have been found murdered in DC within the last two months after being beaten and raped. And they have been connected to a string of killings in New York."
"I have nothing to do with any of this," Scott said shaking his head.
"Where do you live?"
"And why are here in Washington?"
"I work between cities," he answered.
"Each victim is held for three days. The exact length of your visits."
"Shel, I swear I don't know anything about this,"
"But someone does. Someone you work with. Someone who comes down with you."
"The company sends a group. But none of them are a killer."
"Scott I need a list. My boss thinks he's got his guy. The evidence, the profile, they all match to you. I know you didn't do this. But the word of someone you knew as a teenager isn't going to help you when you're facing what you are."
"I don't know who could be doing this."
"That's not what I need Scott. I need names."
Scott went quiet. He looked down at the table, and then back up to JJ. "My turn. The Lies?"
"So everyone knows that you're step father sexually abused you? That you ran away from home for months? That you sold yourself for money? And everything else?"
"No of course not. There's a difference between keeping the truth, and telling lies."
"So nothing you've told anyone was a lie?"
"Half-truths," JJ explained.
"Examples?" Scott requested, not really understanding how you could make half-truths out of Shelby's life.
"I said I grew up in a small town. I did. Horizon and Agnes, are where I grew up."
"And…" Scott pushed.
"I went to college on a soccer scholarship. I didn't know how to explain how I went to college, so I combined two things. I did play soccer before Horizon and while we were there."
"How did you afford school?" He asked, knowing that the Merrick household could barely afford sending the kids to Horizon.
"How did you get a scholarship?" He didn't think colleges would give away money to Horizon kids.
"After I left Horizon, Peter called me up. He knew I wouldn't go back, but he couldn't just forget about me. He said 'If I graduated from High School, and applied and got into college. He would pay for my studies'. After I accepted his offer, he continually sent checks to the University, and I never heard from him again."
"You haven't talked to Peter in fifteen years either?"
"Scott I left everything behind. Everything," she explained, surprised it hadn't sunk in yet.
"That can't be all."
"I said Jess died at 17, I switched our age. But they're the only things I lied about."
"Why'd you switch your ages?" He asked confused.
"The suicide of a 14 year old is harder to explain. So I said 17, because that was the age Shelby died too."
"I know Jess was the reason you left. But you still needed to be at Horizon," Scott said taking JJ's hand. She didn't move it away. He was always a comfort for her. She was just surprised that after all this time he had this effect on her.
"I found her. I did. She was lying in the bathroom, her wrists covered in her own blood. After that, I couldn't walk into the bathroom, I couldn't walk into the dorm, without breaking down. I did everything to save her. And it didn't help. I couldn't be at Horizon anymore," JJ said looking directly at him, she could feel the tears forming. She hated talking about Jess' death.
"I'm sorry Shel."
"Please Scott, call me JJ. I can't be Shelby."
"I need a list," she said reminding him.
"I can't be linked to this. I need my job. If it's anybody, it's one of my bosses. If it turns out not to be one of them and they find out it was me who gave them up, then I'll lose everything."
"We'll be discreet."
"I can believe that," Scott joked.
"I'll go get you something to write on," JJ said patting Scott's hand before getting up from her chair.
"Shel, I loved you," she smiled. She didn't correct him. Because he was talking to Shelby, not JJ.
"I know Scott."
"Do you ever think we could meet up, while I'm in town?" He asked looking up at her.
"No," JJ said directly. "I'm sorry Scott, but I can't go back. This was hard enough. I'm not the girl you loved anymore. She doesn't exist."
"I had to ask," Scott said heartbroken.
"Scott, Shelby really did love you. You made it excruciating for her to leave," JJ said talking about Shelby in the third person.
This was goodbye. JJ wasn't coming back in. She couldn't. Shelby died the day she found Jess. Both Merrick girls never made it out of Horizon. JJ smiled at Scott as she looked back one final time, a piece of hair fell in front of her face. Some of Shelby still remained.