Title: 24

Fandom: Criminal Minds

Pairing: JJ/Emily

Spoilers: None

Summary: 24 hours turns out to be a very, very long time.

Rating: 15/M ish, I think

Disclaimer: I do not own anything. No copyright infringement is intended. Song is 24 by JEM, I do not own it.

A/N – Not exactly sure when it's supposed to be set, because it took me a long while to realise I was using Gideon and not Rossi! So, not sure about that one.

Thank You – To sofialindsay for beta reading, you kick ass!

''Been given 24 hours

To tie up loose ends

To make amends

His eyes said it all

I started to fall

And the silence deafened

Head spinning round

No time to sit down

Just wanted to

Run and run and run

Be careful they say

Don't wish life away,

Now I've one day

And I can't believe

How I've been wasting my time

In 24 hours they'll be

Laying flowers

On my life, it's over tonight

I'm not messing no I

Need your blessing

And your promise to live free

Please do it for me

Is there a heaven a hell

And will I come back

Who can tell

Now I can see

What matters to me

It's as clear as crystal

The places I've been

The people I've seen

Plans that I made

Start to fade

The sun's setting gold

Thought I would grow old,

It wasn't to be

And I can't believe

How I've been wasting my time''

24

New Jersey

Wednesday

10:45pm

There was nothing special about it. Nothing stood out. There was no uniqueness or individuality to be seen anywhere. Some lawns differed from others, but not in any grand ways. Some had children's toys scattered over them, some had more flowers than others. All the houses were the same. All that bright, clean white colour. All had the American flag stood to attention, its material flapping every now and then in the faint breeze of the night. All except one.

It was your typical, lazy suburban street. It could have been any quiet neighbourhood street. Where kids could play and neighbours were friends. It could have been in any city, in any State.

This one, however, was in New Jersey. And its quietness was disturbed in such a way that many of its residents curiously stood out on their front porches, watching the commotion before them. The street now wasn't solely lit up by its lampposts. Now it was splashed with the red and blue that flashed on top of police cruisers and a couple of unmarked SUV's. Also, the bright lights that a crowd of reporters used as they broadcast this commotion to their various stations.

It was strange. Foreign even, for those residents to find their street was now the centre of attention across the country. Nothing ever happened here. Apart from, something was happening. Something had been happening for some time now. They just never realised it.

As the police barricaded the area around the last house on the street, the one devoid of a flag, the paramedics waited anxiously in their ambulance. The SWAT unit that had been deployed to this shocking state of affairs waiting patiently by their mobile command unit, where their leader and the FBI were trying to negotiate.

The members of that FBI team consisted of three males, currently wearing their protective vests. Supervisory Special Agent and unit chief Aaron Hotchner stared toward the house, that impenetrable, steely gaze serious and foreboding. Next to him, Derek Morgan did much the same, his expression both worried and angry. He paced back and forth, hands on hips as he became increasingly impatient. Their attention was stolen by Jason Gideon, who sighed as he put the hostage negotiation phone down before looking up at them glumly. His expression showing that of regret and almost sadness.

''What happened? What'd he say?''

Morgan demanded, now ceasing in his up to now relentless pacing. If he had been allowed to, he would have charged the house and taken out the unsub himself. He was tired; beyond worried and so far from pissed off it wasn't even funny. He wanted to do something, now. He wasn't going to get that chance though, and as he watched Gideon rub his forehead and slowly inhale a breath, he braced himself for what was to become. Because when Gideon looked like that, he knew it wasn't anything remotely good.

''He won't speak to me. Or anyone. He simply asked to personally talk to one person.''

Gideon related, his voice eerily soft and calm for the intense, dangerous and personal situation they found themselves in. A situation that had unfortunately confronted them before.

''Who, Jason?''

Hotchner's chin rose slightly in serious curiosity, but beneath that he knew what answer to expect. It brought a rather uncomfortable feeling into his gut, and quickly he assessed any other option in his head.

''He asked to speak to JJ.''

A small breath that he had been holding escaped Hotchner's mouth, and if it was possible, his staunch frown became more pronounced. That was the answer he had been expecting. It brought a potent distaste, and a great reluctance with it. The last thing he wanted to do was to send one of his people in there. Especially JJ. He knew she would go. But that was the problem.

Casting a weary look toward Morgan, he could see the same thoughts shooting across his troubled eyes. Added to his expression was something close to panic, and an obvious streak of protection.

''You're not serious? You're gunna let JJ walk in there?''

As Morgan had cast his look over to Gideon, he recognised that look immediately. That resigned look he got when he was about to do something that could be considered impulsive and out of the norm. Like sending JJ into a dark house with a violent unsub waiting for her. That kind of impulsive. The anger that the younger man was feeling flared up quickly, knowing that Gideon was going to do just that.

''What choice do we have? Get her over here, now.''

Seeing no other choice, Hotchner nodded and turned away as he pulled out his cell phone. He was having the same worries that Morgan was, but there really was no other option.

''I do not like this man. Not one bit.''

Gideon nodded at Morgan's protest, watched him point a finger in the air in his physical objection. He had anticipated the objection, of course. Morgan right now was thinking more like an over protective big brother. It was one of his qualities, really. He couldn't step back from his personal feelings to see that this was their only cause of action.

''What's to like about a hostage situation?''

Morgan snickered, flailing again angrily as he put his hands on top of his head. Taking in a deep breath, he released it slowly to try and calm down.

''That's not what I meant, and you know it. We're talking about willingly handing over another FBI Agent here.''

He pointed out, a little calmer but only barely. He knew there was no way he was going to talk his superior out of this. But despite himself, he tried. Things were bad enough as it were. What started out as a bad enough case, had plummeted into a devastating one. To be honest, right now, Morgan wasn't even sure how it had ended up like this. Leaving them helpless and having to barter and play the unsubs game. He wanted to rip his goddamn throat out for it. He was so angry. Angry at him, and angry at themselves for not being able to stop this somehow.

''Exactly. Another FBI Agent. JJ can handle herself; she's good at this Morgan. He feels a connection to her, she can use that. She's the best one to go in there.''

Gideon pointed out, his voice still calm in hopes that it would calm Morgan down. If he got any angrier he was likely to explode. And he couldn't have another one of his Agents' compromised right now. He couldn't have Morgan loosing it, he needed him to stay in the game so that he could handle whatever was about to happen.

It wasn't as though he wanted to do this either. He was of course aware how dangerous it was to grant the unsubs request. But he also knew there was nothing else to be done, and he also knew that what he had said was true. JJ could handle herself, she was smart and cautious, and she did what needed to be done. He believed in her abilities, despite knowing that he could overlook them sometimes. He had watched JJ grow and progress since she had joined the BAU team. Even when she was new, she had been extremely gifted at her work. She was a determined young woman, and he trusted her. He knew she could get the job done.

As they remained in the holding pattern, and Gideon reflected and Hotchner talked on the phone, as the media speculated and the residents looked on, Morgan could only turn in little circles praying that this situation would be resolved happily.

11:15pm

It seemed like a lifetime between Hotchner placing the call and a police siren blaring into the opening of the street. The cruiser moved slowly through the crowd, the Officers at the barricades trying to shoo the eager reporters and spectators out of the way so it could get through. A moment or two later it did, and as it parked up the barricades were put back in place. A few calls for attention from the newshounds could be heard, as well as camera flashes, as both JJ and Reid got out of the police cruiser and moved quickly to the mobile command unit.

''JJ, are you sure you want to go in there?''

Foregoing niceties in such a tense situation, Hotchner instead got right to the point. He looked at JJ seriously, unwilling to let her go in there if she didn't want to go in. Once again though, he found himself knowing the answer before he heard the reply.

''Of course I'm sure. What do I need to know?''

Despite looking like she was treading on hot coals right this very moment, JJ's tone and expression was set to that of pure determination. She was nothing if not professional. She was focused and ready to do whatever the hell needed to be done. The blonde didn't even flinch as she looked at Gideon intently, wanting to be armed with more than just the vest Hotchner started to put on her and the gun she carried.

''He feels a connection to you. He's seen you on the TV, spoken to you, he thinks you care. Thinks that you understand him for some reason. He's confused; he doesn't know what's going on. He may not know what's real and what isn't, he wants you to make things clear for him. Be caring, but not overly so. Stay focused on the facts, reassure him. Connect with him if you can, but don't feed directly into his neurosis. Let him confide in you, let him know what's happened. But don't forget what he is. Don't forget he's a dangerous psychopath that's spiralling out of control.''

JJ nodded, listening intently to what Gideon said, and taking heed of the warning he gave her. She really didn't need to worry about that one; she couldn't forget that if she tried. Taking in a breath as Hotchner finished securing her into the protective vest, she turned slightly toward Morgan that touched her shoulder to get her attention.

''JJ, you're going in there with no communication. He won't allow it. So you'll be on your own.''

JJ knew from the look in Morgan's eyes, and the tones running through his voice, that there was more to his words of information and warning. Silently he expressed his anxiousness, his protectiveness and utmost his care and support. There too was a deep reminder of his affection for her as his friend. A friendship she greatly valued.

''I understand.''

With a decisive and firm nod, she too let her feeling go unspoken knowing that he would already understand. Then, her attention was gained by that of Hotchner, who got her to turn slightly to face him now. She often joked about the stern looks Hotchner had, and how stoic he could be. She teased him sometimes, comfortable enough to be able to do it and knowing that he never doubted his respect for her. What she rarely said was that those looks actually reassured her a lot of the time. They reminded her that he was almost rock like in his nature, always there and ready to support. She wished he would smile a little more, despite knowing he did when he wasn't being watched by many people. But a smile would have put her off now, and she actually took comfort in his expression.

''If there's any sign of trouble, anything, we'll storm the house. Do exactly as you're told to do. Remain still; make sure tactical can see your hands.''

''Got it. Anything else?''

Watching JJ take a deep but quick breath and sensing she was ready, Gideon took her by the shoulders firmly but caringly. This was a hard situation. Worse than normal. Despite having full trust in her, he also knew how trying it would be for JJ to go in there by herself. He knew that she could loose it in the space of a second. He knew her feelings could understandably get the better of her. It would be the same if any of them had to in there, but the temptation was so much more significant for JJ. However, he mentioned none of this. There was no need. The only words he had left for her, was the express permission he knew she needed to hear.

''Get Emily out of there, any way you can.''

''In 18 hours they'll be

Laying flowers

On my life, it's over tonight

I'm not messing no I

Need your blessing

And your promise to live free

Please do it for me

In 13 hours they'll be

Laying flowers

On my life, it's over tonight

I'm not messing no I

Need your blessing

And your promise to live free

Please do it for me

I'm not alone, I sense it, I sense it

All that I said, I meant it, I meant it

And I can't believe

How much I've wasted my time

In just 8 hours they'll be

Laying flowers

On my life, it's over tonight

I'm not messing no I

Need your blessing

And your promise to live free

Please do it for me

In just 1 hour they'll be

Laying flowers

On my life, it's over tonight

I'm not messing no I

Need your blessingA

nd your promise to live free

Please do it for me''