Disclaimer: I think you all know it, but I have to say it: I don't own Criminal Minds or its characters.
A/N: This one-shot takes a look at what JJ's post-"200" psych eval could have looked like. Her dialogue and thoughts are interwoven, but I hope that doesn't make it hard to read.
"So, Agent Jareau," Dr. Hartley said as he observed her where she sat in the armchair opposite him. "Shall we begin?"
"That's for you to decide, isn't it?" JJ's voice was sullen, indicative of her unwillingness to be there.
"Oh, no. No, no, no. I prefer to let my subjects take the driver's seat."
JJ smirked internally as she took in the unsuspecting man in front of her. She was in the driver's seat, eh? This poor FBI shrink wouldn't have any idea what hit him.
Will had insisted on clearance from two doctors for her physical, but he hadn't done the same for her psych eval.
He really should've known better.
"What would you like to talk about?" Dr. Hartley asked.
"Nothing," JJ shrugged. "I'm fine. I just need you to sign off on my paperwork."
"I'm fine" was her signature reassurance line, but in this case, it served a slightly different purpose. She knew Dr. Hartley wasn't going to buy it, and she wasn't trying to sell it.
"Agent Jareau, I don't believe that for a second."
"Then I don't know what to tell you."
With a sigh, Dr. Hartley said, "All right, looks like I'll be the one asking the questions then."
Phase 1 complete.
She'd let him take back control, or at the very least the perception of control. He was less likely to doubt his conclusions now.
"Let's start with the basics. How are you feeling?"
"Try again, Agent Jareau. How are you feeling?"
JJ pondered her answer. She had started off unwilling to talk because she didn't want to and because that's how most people started. If she caved too quickly, he would think – correctly so – that she was playing him. On the other hand if she didn't talk at all or revealed too much, he'd never sign off on her paperwork.
She'd have to be genuine but not necessarily honest.
JJ shrugged again. "Pick an emotion."
"You're going to give me more than that."
"Yeah, I'm pissed."
"At whom or what?"
Both of their deaths had been too quick and easy. They deserved worse for their betrayal, for her miscarriage, for the 24 hours of torture, for the threat of sexual assault, for the way they wouldn't leave her alone even now that they were dead. They taunted her in her dreams, and they invaded what were supposed to be menial aspects of everyday life.
So yeah, she was pissed.
"How about yourself?"
"Are you mad at yourself, Agent Jareau?"
She was mad at herself. She was angry at herself for letting her guard down and getting kidnapped, mad at having broken and given up her security code – albeit her panic sequence, furious at not being able to heal and move on.
"Yes," she whispered.
Dr. Hartley knew he wasn't going to get more of an answer than that. They ran through several more emotions in the same fashion until they reached his last one.
"Are you scared?"
"Sometimes." Always. "I do wonder if it'll happen again." She was always on high alert. Everything made her jumpy, though she learned to hide it.
"And how are you dealing with that?"
If she were perfectly honest with herself, JJ would say she was more than scared. She was terrified. She'd known something was amiss and still couldn't prevent being kidnapped. It had been proven to her that she could be broken. She'd been shown that even after being broken there could be worse things to come.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" had never sounded more like absolute bullshit.
"I take it one day at a time." JJ answered truthfully though the details went unsaid. "I haven't been kidnapped again, so I guess that's something."
"Are you sleeping through the night?"
"Nightmares," she responded, avoiding a straightforward yes-or-no answer.
Her first night home had been a disaster. A nightmare had been quick to invade her attempt at sleep, but thankfully Will had been equally quick in rousing her from her slumber. Unfortunately, the pain pills she'd taken had made her mind hazy. When Will had tried shh-ing her in a comforting manner, she'd been transported back to the room when Askari had drugged her, and she panicked even more.
After that, she'd found a strong dose of sleeping pills to be her best friend. They knocked her out in a way that she remembered nothing in the morning, just as she would have it. She didn't share her dependency with Will. She didn't need to worry him any more than he did already.
"That's normal given what you went through."
Outwardly, JJ smiled shyly at the reassurance. Inwardly, she was torn between cringing at all the thoughts running through her head and grinning broadly at having successfully navigated the waters of shrinkdom thus far.
Phase 2 complete.
"What made this so personal to you?"
She thought he wouldn't notice, but apparently he had. Turned out he wasn't so clueless after all.
"I'm sorry. It's classified."
It wasn't, of course. She could've told him about her miscarriage, but if she wasn't going to tell the BAU, she wasn't going to tell the shrink either.
JJ congratulated herself on a good save when he nodded and reluctantly let it go.
"Would you say you have a good support system?"
"Yeah, my husband's great." Will had finally learned to stop hovering. "Spending time with my son is amazing." Not only did being with him make her genuinely feel better, but it also gave her ample opportunity to practice her poker face. To Henry, Mommy was supposed to have won, so she wasn't going to give him any impression otherwise. Besides, she didn't want to worry him. "And of course the BAU's always there if I need them." Though truthfully, she'd never call.
"Why do you want to go back to work? It has been less than two weeks."
She needed to get out of the house. She needed to not have so much time to think. She needed to exhaust herself during the day, so that maybe, just maybe, it'd be easier to fall asleep at night without the pills. She needed someone else to be the victim. She needed to be in control again.
"I need to move forward. I know that it won't be easy, but if I don't try now, then I might never."
"The case material for the BAU is notoriously difficult to deal with. Are you going to be able to compartmentalize? Separate yourself from the victims?"
"I already did. After Emily and Hotch - I mean Agents Prentiss and Hotchner - after they rescued me, I went after Hastings. I could have stayed with Agent Cruz, I could have broken down, but I didn't. I couldn't let Hastings get away with Integrity."
"But that was personal."
"It doesn't matter. When something needs to be done, I don't let everything else effect me."
Not at the moment anyway.
She'd bottle up all her emotions and then release them later with a strenuous run or time spent at the gun range or trying to beat a punching bag to a pulp.
Dr. Hartley nodded with approval. "All right, Agent Jareau. I'll clear you on the condition that you rely on your support system when things get tough because, trust me, they will get tough. You're obviously still affected by your…" He paused, searching for the right word. "…ordeal, but I suspect you'll still be affected by it 10, 20, 30 years down the line. I do think going back to work is a step in the right direction. I think you're ready."
"Thank you, Dr. Hartley," JJ said with a smile.
Checkmate. Game Over.
Jennifer Jareau was going back to work
Thanks for reading!