A/N: Well, here we are, at a crossroads. As you can imagine, the news of Thomas Gibson's firing from Criminal Minds has upset me greatly. I've been a Hotch fan since September 22, 2005 - the premiere date of what grew to be my favorite show of all time. In the time since, that character has made me laugh, cry, cringe, scream, cry some more, hyperventilate, jump for joy, cry even more, and is the sole reason that this magical world of fanfiction was opened to me. That character and its masterful performer are the reason I now have an entire online community of friends that I never would have known existed. That character brought me to the CM online community where I met some incredible people and had my world infinitely expanded. And I love the character because of how much Thomas Gibson put into bringing Aaron Hotchner to life.

Thomas Gibson's portrayal of Aaron Hotchner has been my motivation for writing fanfiction for the past several years. I'd say 95% of my work is based around him. And now my motivation has been removed from the equation entirely. And I'm devastated.

I won't go so far as to say that this will be my final work of CM fanfiction, because you never say never. But just in case, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all of you here who embraced a scared young writer and built her confidence up enough to keep writing. Thank you to all of you who embraced the work of my imagination and my love of this character. Thank you to all of you who messaged me to keep going when I was struggling. Thank you to everyone who has ever left a review or favorited and followed a story. Thank you for being here, for showing the love, for being a friend. Thank you for believing in me.

So I won't say goodbye forever. Just goodbye for now. Until next time, my love to you all.

This Is Not Goodbye

David Rossi got off the elevator and entered the glass doors of the BAU a little before 7:00 am Monday morning and found it odd that he was the first one in for the day. He walked up the stairs and passed Aaron Hotcher's dark office. He glanced in the open door to make sure the Unit Chief hadn't fallen asleep in his office again. He hadn't. He kept going to his own office. He turned on the lights, put down his briefcase and sat in front of his desk.

There in front of him was an envelope with his name on it, written in an all-to-familiar left-handed scrawl. He closed his eyes and took a breath before opening it, knowing its contents probably weren't good...

Dave -

I know this should be a conversation we have in person, but I knew I wouldn't be able to get through this without breaking down or letting you or the team change my mind. So I apologize in advance for doing this in a letter, but it's the only way I can think of to express everything I need to say at the level I need to say it. I hope you understand.

I'm resigning, Dave. It's time. Really, it's well past time. I haven't decided yet if I'm retiring completely or moving into a different position. I'm going to take some time off and do a lot of thinking and soul-searching. And spend as much time as possible with Jack before he goes back to school. I've already sent Cruz my letter of resignation. I'll meet with him about other options in a few weeks. Either way, I can't do this job anymore.

After Haley died I was terrified, not just for me, but mostly for Jack. You told me then, "You have to ask yourself what kind of father you want to be. Then you'll know what to do." It's taken me six and a half years, but I know what to do now.

You know as well as I do how hard the past three months have been for Jack and I, ever since SWAT forced their way into our home and he had to watch his father taken away in handcuffs like a criminal. He's not been the same since then, and frankly, neither have I. That has put a strain on our relationship that I need to fix. And I can't do that if I keep leaving him behind.

Every time we leave on a case I feel like I'm abandoning him. I can't abandon him anymore.

He's getting older now. He's asking more questions that I'm not sure how to answer. And at the same time he's retreating into himself more and more, especially since that day. He's pulling away and it scares me. I'm realizing now just how difficult my job has been for him, how much it has hurt him. It's taken so much from him already, and that day made us both realize how easily it could take us from each other. I can't keep putting him in that position. I can't keep putting myself in that position either. As much as I've tried to keep things balanced I realize how much of his life I have missed. I don't want to miss anymore.

We're going to leave town for a few weeks before he goes back to school. We need that time to reconnect. I need to be there for him, listen to his concerns, let him vent. I need to know what he's going through, even if it means hearing him yell and scream and be angry at me and everything my job has taken from him. I need him to understand that his feelings are valid and that no matter what, I'm here for him and always will be.

Please make sure Reid understands that this isn't a "Gideon" letter. I'll get together with everyone when Jack and I get back. I'll answer any questions they have and try to explain my decision. I hope they understand. Make sure they know this isn't goodbye. You all are my family, and aside from Jack and Jessica, you're the only family I have left. I love you all. I know I'm not very good at expressing that sometimes, but it's true nonetheless.

I owe you so much that I can never repay. You believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. You gave me the opportunity to come to the BAU and make an impact. You taught me everything I know about profiling. You were the greatest mentor any agent could have, and when you came back to the team I felt like we were finally complete, and nothing could stop us.

More important than all that, you taught me about the importance of family. You know my history. My family never had that closeness that you brought to my life, and to the lives of our team. We're closer than ever because of you. We're all better people because of you. You made me a better man. You made me a better father. You're the best friend I've ever had. I can never thank you enough for standing by me even in my darkest times.

Take care of our team, Dave. With Morgan and I both gone, they're going to need you now more than ever. Be their rock, like you've always been mine.

I'll be in touch when we get back.

Thank you, Dave. For everything.

Your friend,


Dave sat the letter down and rubbed his watering eyes. He knew he should have seen this coming, especially after seeing firsthand how distant Jack had become with Aaron. But seeing the words making it official, it still felt like a punch in the gut. He wasn't ready for that. He shook his head, took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in his throat.

"Take care of yourself, Aaron," he whispered to no one, as he wrestled with how to tell the team that their leader wasn't coming back.