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Chapter 14: Lights Out
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." — George Bernard Shaw
Back in D.C., Hotch couldn't rest. Jack was away with his grandparents and he was alone at home with a lot of silence. The perfect conditions to overthink things.
In the end, he was rather convinced he had behaved terribly. Not entirely unjustified, perhaps, but he had run rings around her. And for that, at least, he had to apologise. Once he'd made up his mind, he felt the urge to do it right away. It was Friday morning, however, barely 6 am. He didn't even know whether she was back home already.
At a more reasonable time, he called Garcia. She answered right away and once again Hotch wondered whether he was perhaps not the only one with a disastrous work-life-balance.
"Good morning. Can you find out which flight Hale booked?"
If Garcia found his request strange, she didn't let on. If the others had told her about their feud, she was very subtle. Deeming the latter rather improbable, Hotch doubted she knew.
What he requested was not entirely against the rules, though of course his motive was at least partially private.
"She'll be in D.C. at 16:10."
Only hand luggage but rush hour traffic, so she'd be home by five.
"Thanks, Garcia." He hung up. He'd go and see her at home. It wasn't the most professional thing to do, perhaps, but Prentiss would be there, too, and he didn't intend to do more than apologise at her front door.
The day was rainy. He had listened to the forecast with only half an ear but remembered they had mentioned a thunderstorm. Only later in the day, though, when Hotch would already be back home. Apologising would take only five minutes.
He drove over to her house at quarter past five, leaving his car up on the road to avoid having to drive up the muddy driveway on his way wasn't home yet, though. In fact, he saw neither her nor Prentiss' car, and as no one opened the door, it was evident that Prentiss, too, wasn't home. Perhaps the rain had delayed her plane and Prentiss had gone to pick her up?
Hotch waited, already drenched. He waited half an hour, when finally, a car came down the driveway, sliding more than rolling. It was her.
The garage opened and she maneuvered the car through the gate. Had she seen him?
A suitcase in hand, she left the garage, closing the gate after her, and marched up to the front door, dragging her suitcase through the mud when suddenly, she stopped.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, not entirely unfriendly but thoroughly surprised.
"I came to apologise. I shouldn't have called you out in front of everyone. You took an unsolicited and unnecessary risk. But all of us have done the same at some point. It wasn't fair to single you out."
He didn't apologise for criticising her behaviour, though. She had disobeyed his orders, she had risked her life, she had acted alone.
"It's fine," she said, unsmiling. "You weren't wrong. I did behave recklessly and I did disobey your direct order. I'm really sorry. I do respect you very much, you know that, I hope." Her voice was almost pleading. Had her conscience plagued her as well? Then, as if she was pulling herself together, she asked: "You want to come in?"
For a brief moment, they looked at each other, then she looked away, at the water pooling around her feet.
They both knew what her words meant. Hotch was quite aware that the most sensible thing to do was get in the car and drive home. And that was exactly what he would do, for once. The sensible thing.
"I better get back to the car."
He didn't want to. He didn't want to go home, to his empty house. He wanted to gaze only a little longer into her green eyes, perhaps hear her laugh, feel her skin on his...But they had misstepped too often and there was really only so many blows their professional relationship could take before it was beyond saving. He'd said what he'd needed to say.
"Wait, I'll come along," she said, opened the front door, put her suitcase down and came back with an umbrella.
"I'm really as wet as it gets," he said, brushing water from his coat.
"Well, I'm not yet." She smiled, opened it and held it over the both of them.
"You parked at the roadside?" she asked but the implied question was evident. Why hadn't he parked in front of her house?
"The rain," he gestured towards the leaden sky. "And with all this mud here, I thought the car might get stuck."
"True." She, too, eyed the long driveway that led up to the main road, trees shielding them from the worst downpour now. "I might have to have this paved."
Hotch thought that was a rather good idea, considering that rivulets were running through the mud by now, transforming the driveway into a dangerously slippery slope.
They finally got to his car. Hemlock Road was, just like all the roads in this area, not asphalted, but the dirt here was usually hard and dry. Not today. Hotch ruined his shoes by trying to get in the car. His foot sank into five inches of mud.
"Er, I'll push?" she offered as they took in the sight of the wheels, stuck in the mud.
"I better call a tow truck." This was just absurd. It was as if the universe did its best to test him as severely as possible. Had he not resisted enough already?
"You wanna come back to the house?"
"I'd get mud all over the floor," he declined, grateful for the excuse. Water was running down her temple now. She'd abandoned the umbrella when she'd offered to push his car out of the mud which, considering her strength and the weight of an estate car, had been rather optimistic.
There was a tow service in his contacts and he dialed quickly. The line was busy.
He tried all services in the area but he couldn't come through.
"Seems quite a lot of people need a tow truck."
"Well, there've been heavy rain warnings all over Virginia. Emily won't come home till Tuesday because all flights have been cancelled."
"And I thought she'd just allowed for a rather severe hangover," he smiled, remembering her request for two days off.
Pippa laughed. "Well, definitely. I doubt that would've stopped her from coming into work. She's got the –"
"Sunglasses." Hotch finished. A lighting bolt lit up the grey sky for a split second, the loud thunder rumbled, not even two seconds later.
"We should get out of here," she said, looking at the trees around them.
"I really don't want to –"
"Look, Hotch, I'll just leave you in the living room. There's no need to –"
"That's really not – " he started, lying, but then she cut him off.
"You can try the tow service again. It's warm and dry and safe."
Was she scared of thunderstorms?
"Alright." He was behaving childishly. She was right, after all. If they just kept things as they were now, friendly, professional, there was no reason at all why he shouldn't go inside. He was cold enough as it was.
They walked back silently although Hotch tried the service again twice. There was no signal at all anymore.
"The line's dead."
Why had he decided to apologise today? And here? He could have waited until Monday, that wouldn't have hurt. He could have said the very same thing then. But Hotch remembered his bad conscience, the feeling of guilt and the nerve-wrecking uneasiness and he knew he couldn't have waited three days.
"Well, that was bound to happen, huh?"
She didn't seem particularly upset. Of course not. She was home already. Hotch was grateful that Jack was with his grandparents. There was no thunderstorm in Florida and Evelyn and Frank watched the news, they'd know that Hotch couldn't make his goodnight calls this weekend.
"I'm sorry." He really was. First, he called her out in front of everyone, got disproportionately angry and suspended her, then he invaded her privacy and waited for her at her home, then she had to offer him shelter.
"Don't be. It's fine." She unlocked the front door and beckoned him to go inside first. He tried not to leave too much mud on the rug. But even when he'd taken off his shoes, he still left wet footprints all over the wooden flooring.
"You should take a shower," she suggested quietly. "Or you'll catch a cold." As if to prove her right, he sneezed.
"No, really –"
"I still have a men's bathrobe somewhere round here," she cut him off. "Only until your clothes are dry."
"I don't want to impose –"
"You aren't imposing on me." She smiled at him, shivering slightly herself. "I'm going to throw my clothes into the dryer, too. So, no bother. You can take the guest room shower. It's upstairs, the second door on the right – it's not Emily's, no worries."
She misinterpreted his expression. Hotch was very uncomfortable. He had been so intent on making amends that he hadn't thought this through. And as he looked at her, her hair dark from the rain, droplets collecting on her lashes, her face shining with water, he wanted nothing as much as to kiss her.
"Thanks," he said instead and walked up the stairs as quickly as he could without running. The hot shower helped him relax. This wasn't bad. In a few hours, he'd get through to the service and then he'd go home. Only a few hours.
Hotch stepped out of the shower, grabbed the towel from the rack and then stumbled over another problem. He had nothing to wear. His wet clothes lay on the floor in a pile and the robe she'd talked about wasn't here. He had only this towel. It was large enough to wrap around his hips, thankfully. Still, going downstairs this scantily covered seemed like tempting fate. Not that he thought she couldn't resist him. It was more psychological: If he was already half-naked anyway, it was only a small step to being completely naked. He had learned that much from the convention. Hotch closed his eyes, trying to force himself not to remember in too great detail what had happened at the convention. To no avail. He felt his body reacting to the memory. What could he do? He certainly couldn't go downstairs like this. It also seemed prudent to … release the tension a little, considering he was rather scantily dressed.
"Hotch?" There was a knock on the door and, panicking, he wrapped the towel around his hips again, trying to shield his state from view. But she didn't come in. "The robe's in front of the door."
"Thank you," he said through the door but his voice sounded strange. Her footsteps retreated, then he heard her downstairs.
On the plus side, the panic had taken care of his, ah, problem. Hotch opened the door and found a fluffy white robe neatly folded on the floor. It smelled of laundry detergent and was large enough for him to feel rather covered, though when he entered the living room looking like a spa guest, he felt quite strange. Hale was wearing leggings and a grey jumper that seemed oddly familiar. The wide neckline revealed a simple black strappy top underneath. No lace trimming. Did she remember? Probably not. Hotch had the general feeling that she wasn't as preoccupied with him as he was with her. It wasn't exactly a good feeling but it made resisting the temptation much easier.
Pippa knew she shouldn't have put on that jumper. It was tempting fate. It was also very stupid because Hotch wouldn't remember it. Men didn't usually care for baggy knitted jumpers. He looked out of place in his robe but there wasn't much she could do about this. She had no menswear at hand and it would take at least an hour to dry their clothes.
Hotch awkwardly handed her the wet bundle. "I really –" he started, probably about to apologise again.
"Stop apologising," she said sternly. "I know you meant well. And it was so nice to come out here in the rain just to clear the air between us. I'm sorry that you feel so uncomfortable here. But please, don't do so on my account. I don't mind at all. The house is huge and Emily won't come back before Tuesday. I don't mind the company at all. So, I'll quickly throw this in the dryer –" when he tried to say something, she raised a hand, " – and I'm quite capable of doing so on my own. Just sit down. Make a cup of tea or whatever. I'll be back in a second."
And she took the stairs down to the laundry room, grateful for a brief reprieve. That robe got no business looking this good on him. It was a large piece of white flannel. It should make him look like a moulting goose. Instead, he looked very much like a promise. A promise, she knew, he wasn't going to fulfil. He had been too reluctant to wait out the storm in here with her. And if he preferred being outside with a thunderstorm to being inside with her, that spoke volumes about his feelings for her. Pippa threw their clothing in the dryer. An hour and a half. He would have to stay longer than that though, she thought as she climbed up the stairs to the ground floor, thunder rumbling above them. He sat on a stool in the kitchen rather uneasily. There were two cups of tea on the counter.
"I thought some herbal tea was in order," he smiled and tested her severely. Hotch looking all grim and stern was hot, even when he was suspending her. But smiling Hotch was irresistible. Pippa scolded herself for those unprofessional thoughts, especially because it was so very obvious that he wanted nothing as little as overstepping their professional bounds once more. She had to accept that they were through. She hadn't seized her chance back then at the convention. Now their unprofessional missteps had already influenced their work, as he had all but admitted outside. The only prudent thing to do was forget about it and soldier on.
Yes." She took the stool that was the farthest away from his. The sofa would have been much more comfortable but it also boasted a padded horizontal surface and that just seemed a little risky.
"Any luck with the tow service?"
"Line's still dead." He sipped his tea. How could a person look so dignified in a bathrobe?
Hotch wondered whether she wanted him to leave. Well, probably, but he wondered whether she wanted him to leave badly. Her tone had been casual but she seemed a little nervous.
Hotch sipped his tea, feeling a little like a child back at his grandma's place on Christmas Eve, when she had allowed him a nightcap before bed, him all bundled up in his cozy flannel pyjamas, an old fashioned tea cup filled to the brink with thick hot cocoa. Only that he was a grown man in a bathrobe now and there was nothing cozy about the way they sat here, like hens on the roost. The sky outside promised them a few more uncomfortable hours and Hotch would much rather stretch his legs on the cozy looking sofa but she didn't say anything and he had imposed too much on her already.
They sat there, side by side, while the minute hand of the clock climbed up, then back down.
"Should we sit on the couch?" she asked, almost briskly, after half an hour.
The awkwardness continued a few feet away, then. Occasionally, they would say something, both too eager to behave normally to have a normal conversation. Soo enough, it was eight o' clock. Pippa turned on the radio just to busy her hands. With the landline and wifi connection impaired, that was the only way to find out how the world around them was doing.
"Heavy rainfall has turned much of the Greater D.C. area into a mud pool," a male voice said much too cheerfully. "Tow services are not running out of business, that much is certain. Signal posts all over Maryland and Virginia have been blown over so you better watch a nice DVD and relax." Hale turned off the radio.
"What an idiot," she mumbled.
"Someone should take that mic," Hotch agreed.
"Well, he's lucky we're all confined to our houses." She smiled at him and for the first time, Hotch felt she relaxed a little. Neither of them talked about their prospects: Spending a night together under the same roof.
"Shall we follow his advice then?" she asked.
"Any old western you haven't watched yet?" He tried a smile and found he did quite well.
"You choose. Emily's got loads of films," she pointed over to two untidy stacks of DVD boxes near the TV. "I'll make some cocoa and get your clothes."
"And I was just getting comfortable," he replied, a poor attempt at a joke. Hotch thought he saw a hint of red creeping up her cheeks but it was quite dark now so it might have been the dim light of the floor lamp.
Pippa brought him his clothes. Once again, Hotch felt terrible. Everything she'd done for him today simply because he had come here selfishly, trying to ease his conscience.
But he didn't want to apologise again. He'd make it up to her by remaining absolutely professional, by making sure that such a slip-up on his side wouldn't happen again. He would judge her completely fairly from now on.
He changed in the powder room and when he came back, she held up three DVDs. "Shawshank Redemption, Psycho, or Casablanca?"
Casablanca had been Haley's favourite film. I didn't seem like it would be Pippa's, though.
"Films you haven't watched yet?" he guessed and she nodded.
"Shawshank Redemption, then." She would like that one. Overcoming overbearing authority seemed right up her street.
"Could you fetch the mugs?" she asked as she fumbled with the DVD player inexpertly.
He was reminded rather much of quiet nights in with Haley. There were two large empty mugs on the counter, steaming hot chocolate in a pot on the stove, a container of spray cream and a bag of tiny marshmallows in the very orderly fridge. He made two hot chocolates worthy of a sleepover and brought them over to the sofa. She had paused the film on the opening sequence.
"Thanks." When he handed her the hot mug, their fingers touched briefly but thankfully, she didn't drop the mug. She flinched though, barely perceptible. They could play at being friends tonight but there was a tension between them that would never allow them to be just that.
She didn't talk during the movie. Hotch threw her a few furtive glances and thought she looked quite intrigued. She had shifted in her seat for a while, then put her feet up on the recamiere, shuffling a little closer to him in the process. He could smell her shampoo. Hotch was quite grateful he'd seen the film already because he didn't pay much attention at all.
When Red and Andy were finally reunited on a sunlit beach in Mexico, she turned towards him. "That was nice."
The sky outside was black by now, occasionally illuminated eerily by lightning. The thunder was barely audible. The storm had passed but rain was still drumming against the windows so, he thought with a kind of guilty gratitude, there was no way to free his car from the mud.
"Yes." He smiled back.
"Although I really wanted to see his wife's killer punished."
"Naturally." She had a very strong sense of justice. That was one of the things he found so attrac – so professionally interesting about her. It made her good at her job. He tried very hard not to think about the smell of her hair or the way her jumper had ridden down her shoulder another inch or the fact that they were, once again, confined together. He could easily move a few inches to the right, away from her, but he didn't. If the universe was making a cruel joke, he would play along. Hotch had always had commendable self-control. He could resist.
"I better go to bed," he said. "It's getting rather late."
"Sure. Guest room is upstairs, the first door on the right. Wait, let me get you a flashlight. In case the power runs out…"
She got up and rummaged through a kitchen drawer.
"Here you go." She handed him a silver torch. She carried one, too. Well-prepared, of course.
"Well, then..." He tried not to stare too much at her but it was difficult. With the diffuse light illuminating her from the side, softening her features, giving her now dry, tousled curls, a fiery sheen. And that damned sweater. Aware of the desire that undoubtedly lay in his gaze, he cast down his eyes, cleared his head, and looked up again. "Good night. And thank you for letting me stay."
She smiled. "Leaving my boss outside in this weather might have disastrous consequences for my resumé, don't you think?"
"After what I said to you, I'd understand." he gave back, only half-joking.
"It wasn't that bad. I mean, you weren't technically wrong…"
"This job is about more than technicalities, though."
"Yes. Still. There's no need for apologies. At least not on your part."
He couldn't imagine how it would be like to fight with her privately. Reasonable but passionate, logical and principled to a fault.
"Good night, Pippa," he said, never meaning to use her first name.
But neither of them left. They stood there, in the family room, Hotch a few feet away from the stairs, she next to the kitchen counter, looking at each other as if waiting for a cue.
"Storm's still not over." Hotch said when the silence began to grow uncomfortable. He was still fighting his instinct to kiss her. There was nothing that could excuse them now. The first time, they hadn't known, the second, they had been overwhelmed by the tension. If it happened again though, sober and very aware of the consequences, at her house, they couldn't talk about slip ups anymore. Three times was more than that. It was a pattern.
But when she still didn't move, Hotch remembered his fear, his anger that she had put herself in harm's way. If he had to suffer the disadvantages anyway, he could as well admit that he had a soft spot for her. That his attraction for her was not the result of an ill-timed one night stand.
And he breached the distance between them.
Right in front of her, he stopped.
"If we...continue now, there's no way back."
"Three times is a pattern," she whispered.
"Exactly. And that will have consequences. I'm sure you know the reason why I overreacted – "
"I know. And there's really not much we can do, is there? So we might as well…"
"What happened to being committed to keeping this purely professional?" A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"I realised that my self-control has its limits."
Hotch was quite relieved to hear that but he had to make sure she knew what this meant. Even if they didn't pursue a romantic relationship, this sort of sexual liaison was against FBI fraternisation laws. They would be breaking the rules. And because he didn't want either of them to transfer, they would have to keep it a secret.
"Hale, this will have consequences for our work. You need to be aware –"
She put a hand on his chest. "Do you really think I haven't considered that? And here I am, quite obviously much more unimpressed by breaking the rules than I'd considered possible. I'll bear the consequences."
He couldn't believe that she wanted him as much as he wanted her. It made this even more difficult. This straight-forward, intelligent, upright woman that he had run into over a year ago by accident had turned out to be a near perfect match. He hadn't hoped he'd ever find someone he was interested in, not after Foyet, not after what had happened to Haley, and his marriage before that. And he still couldn't allow himself to think in those terms. They could never have a true relationship without giving up their job.
But he couldn't give that much thought as he stared at her.
"Now kiss me already," she smiled and he didn't need to be told twice.
The weekend was pure bliss. He got to know her body in broad daylight, he learned she put the milk in the fridge sorted by best before date. He learned she was used to being made fun of for that. He learned that she didn't like to sleep with the blinds closed even if that meant that the rain was drumming against the windows so loudly that sleep was out of the question. He learned that there were better things to do than sleep when the rain drummed against the windows loudly.
Pippa didn't want to think about the evening when Hotch had to go home. She dreaded Monday when they had to be their usual distanced, professional selves. She dreaded the next weekends because Emily would be home, meaning she couldn't risk seeing him. She dreaded the day they would decide that what they had couldn't continue, for that day would come as sure as rain, and sooner rather than later.
But for now, for the next few hours, she didn't want to think about that. This Sunday was theirs. She only wanted to lie in bed next to him, listening to the rain outside, flipping through the pages of a book without reading much, savouring the feeling of his hand on the small of her back, the smell of him all over her sheets.
The sound of the entrance door slamming shut characteristically roused her from her thoughts. Emily. But that couldn't be. Her flight had been cancelled.
"Pippa?" she shouted.
Pippa was quite certain that Hotch's panicky expression mirrored hers.
"I'll talk to her."
Their peaceful escape from reality was over.
"Em!" She tried not to look too much as if she'd had an awful lot of sex last night as she knotted the belt of her bathrobe twice. "I thought you'd be back Monday."
"I found an alternative flight," Emily threw her coat over the back of a bar chair carelessly. "Two hour stop in Pittsburgh," she yawned, "But it was fine. The rain's really bad here, though. So much mud everywhere. There's a car parked at the side of the road. Everything alright?"
"Yeah, sure." Pippa tried not to look too relieved. Apparently, Em had not been able to identify the car in the heavy rain. Once again, she thanked the storm.
"You look...dishevelled," Emily said and Pippa knew that she'd connect the dots as only Emily could…
"NO," she whispered very audibly. "You've got a gentleman over, huh? Well, you can tell him the rain washed away most of the mud so he's good to go...though perhaps you might not want him to?" Emily winked pointedly conspiratorially.
"Well...no, he was just about to leave." That wasn't a lie, he'd definitely leave now.
"You've got to tell me absolutely everything about him."
Highly unlikely. "Sure," Pippa said and forced a smile. "We can have dinner later. Could you, you know…"
"You won't even notice I'm there."
That was a lie. In her effort to show Pippa how little attention she was paying them and how very absent she was, Emily turned on the music to maximum volume and took a lengthy and loud shower. Pippa didn't complain. She was very grateful that Emily was not at all nosey.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as Hotch, now back in his suit and coat, much to her disappointment, walked through the family room quickly, obviously eager to leave.
"Not your fault. This is how it'd always end. Better this way, perhaps."
He could have punched her in the stomach just as well but she forced a smile once again. This was the end already then, was it? Not even two full days with her and he had decided it wasn't worth the risk. Up until now, Pippa had thought that he was genuinely interested in her, only scared of taking the final step, only too professional to approach her. But now that they had spent a weekend here, isolated, and a wonderful weekend, she had thought, Hotch had apparently noticed that she wasn't worth the hassle. That he had been physically attracted to her but that she wasn't enough otherwise. Too uptight, too introverted. Men usually didn't dream about women who liked to arrange the milk bottles in their fridge by best before date, about women whose idea of a nice evening was hot chocolate and (recently) a movie, about women who'd spent much of the day reading, stroking him absently, instead of interacting with him properly.
Indeed, what she had picked up about his wife, Haley, had sounded quite different. A lively, outgoing, affectionate person. Naturally, that sounded much more like his type. It had to be. Why else would he end it briskly after such a short time? Better this way, perhaps. He seemed almost glad for a way out. The piece of her soul that had always hoped for them to rendezvous again died. And if it didn't die, it was buried very, very deep inside her. No more hoping for stolen kisses. And now, it was not professionalism, that cold-hearted mistress, that made her determined to remain distant. Now it was her pride. And she had always relied on that.
"Are you alright?" Hotch asked, not unkindly. Of course, he wanted to avoid a scene.
"Yes. Sure," she smiled politely, straightening her back. "Well, I don't want to keep you."
And if Pippa hadn't been so focused on keeping her face under control she would have noticed that, for a split second, Hotch looked rather hurt. Was she so eager to get him out of the house? Was she glad that Emily was back? Had she perhaps noticed that what had attracted her to him in the first place had been the forbidden nature of their liaison? That, in broad daylight, he was a middle-aged, divorced, widowed father-of-one whose days were always too short?
"Yeah, well, I'll see you Monday."
Hotch was rather hurt by her coldness. He had wanted to suggest that they met at his place Monday evening to avoid detection but she didn't seem to be interested. He didn't know, of course, that Pippa had taken his sentence to mean the end of their liaison rather than simply the end of this weekend, as he had meant it. So, he was just disappointed but put on a neutral face. He should have expected this, of course. She was still young, she was naturally not looking for a man with enough emotional baggage for the luggage compartment of a 500 passenger shouldn't have hoped. That was treacherous. But now, there was no reason for that any more. She had made her choice. And he would have to accept that. He would certainly never approach her again in that fashion. It would not only make her uncomfortable, he will also be exploiting his position as her superior. He gave her a distant smile.
"Yes. Well, enjoy the rest of your weekend."
And while he marched up the driveway, braving the mud, Pippa went up to Emily's room to make sure she didn't catch a glimpse of him from her windows.
"So…" Emily asked when she finally left the bathroom and found Pippa sitting on the sofa in the studio above the garage. "How did you meet?"
"In a bar." It wasn't a lie. "After the flight." That was technically true, too.
"So you just took him home?"
"Well...it was kind of special."
"You'll see him again?"
"No." Well, not in that way, at least, Hotch had been very clear about that. "He had a demanding job. So I guess I wouldn't work."
"Ouch," Emily replied. "No chance at all?"
But Pippa thought she didn't seem all that sad, which angered her a little. She didn't know of course that Emily was convinced Pippa belonged with Hotch (and they belonged together from the 28th of February onwards and not a day earlier) and that her one night stand was only an unwelcome distraction.
I'm a drama queen and love mutual pining, so bear with me. Their relationship was simply evolving too fast. Once I've put them through the mill sufficiently, they might be rewarded with some fluff. I can't let Rossi win so easily. Emily, Reid and Derek deserve some attention, too.
Also, I know that Jack is always with his grandparents at the moment, the next two chapters will be more family-centric! I'm planning a 25 chapter fic at the moment, most of them are writing, but editing does stuff to my word doc, so it might be 30 chapter.