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A/n this is set in the middle of the third season before Will reared his ungly head and turned the show into a soap opera. I'm back to my original favorite pairing with this, JJ and Reid. Enjoy and comment please.
"It's getting really bad out there."
"Yeah… I wish you were driving."
"You're the one that said you could handle it."
"I just wish we didn't have another five miles to go." He watched the green highway sign pass by that said: Woodland 5 miles.
He gripped the steering wheel so tight, that his hands were beginning to cramp up and his knuckles were white. How had he ended up in the Wasatch Mountains looking for a house in a little town in Utah, in the middle of winter four days before Christmas?
"Relax Spence, I trust you."
"Thanks, but if we get buried in snow…"
"We've got chains and all wheel drive. It's going to be okay."
He didn't dare take his eyes off the road to look at her. The bare spots of black top on the road where the snow was drifting in the wind and the yellow spots that defined the middle of the road were his world, his only focus.
"Tell me again, why you and I volunteered to drive up here and interview the witness."
"We decided that we needed to prove to Hotch that we could go out on our own again."
"I think he already knows that."
"You don't sound sure."
"I think he's mad at me."
'Why would he be mad at you?"
"You know why JJ…"
"You had a drug problem that you're getting help for, he knows that."
The snow was falling even faster. The windshield wipers were having difficulty keeping up with the amount of snow the sky was dropping on them. His eyes stayed glued to the road, even though he wanted to look over at JJ.
"I think he accepts the reasons why, but not that I took so long to own up to the problem."
The trees that bordered the road were a mixture of birch, and fir trees. The birches were black and white. The fir trees were so green they looked black. With the white sky and all the snow it looked like a huge black and white film negative had swallowed them whole.
"He cares about you… He knew you were struggling before you told him, but he protected you. If Strauss had found out before you told everyone, you'd probably be out of a job."
"I know… I just want you, um I mean Hotch, to know that I can do my job."
God, it was good that he could use watching the road as an excuse not to look at her. He could feel his face getting red. What was she going to say now?
"Is that the turn off?' She said suddenly and he hit the brakes too hard.
The truck fishtailed despite the chains and the all wheel drive. He panicked and turned against the slide rather than with it as he'd read before his first winter in DC. The truck shuddered to a stop at the edge of the road.
"We're okay," He said shortly.
"I'm sorry… I didn't see the house till we were almost on top of it!"
"I'm not angry at you."
He was breathing heavily and sweat poured down his back under the parka and sweater he'd put on before they'd left the hotel.
"I know…" he breathed out slowly trying to get his shaking hands under control.
The snow was beginning to fall even faster and the flakes were getting smaller. There didn't seem to be any other cars on the road.
"I'll bet they know better than to come out in this snow."
"Nothing, I was just thinking we should have turned back when it got bad."
"We had to come… We have to catch this guy."
He got the car started again after the engine had stalled. Fortunately, the truck wasn't stuck and he was able to slowly turn it around and onto the turn off to the house they'd been looking for. He wasn't hopeful at all. The woman that had called the tip line was very old they'd said. She lived just outside a small town east of Heber Utah, where the serial killer they were hunting was active.
"I just hope she wasn't seeing things."
"Just because she's old, doesn't mean she's senile."
"Ninety-five percent of all adults over the age of seventy experience some memory loss and three quarters of them have some form of dementia."
They pulled up to the house, which was built to resemble a real log cabin from a bygone era. He pressed the brakes with much more care and they came to a slow stop at the end of the drive way. He parked behind a car that looked older than Garcia's Esther. It was light blue, rusted and covered with snow.
JJ hopped out of the truck and into the snow. He watched her pull the hood of her parka up over her blond hair. The hood was deep blue and it made her eyes stand out from her face which was quickly turning pink from the cold. He slammed the door, took a step and almost fell on the ice under the snow. He fell against the side of the truck and the alarm squawked loudly in indignation. He pushed away, stumbled again, and fumbled for the keys and the remote for the alarm. He pushed it and the alarm stopped mid squawk.
"Well, at least she'd forewarned that we're out here." JJ said.
He hadn't noticed that she'd walked around the car with no problem and was standing there looking at him with amusement.
"I hate the snow!"
"Yeah, I got that! Let's go see if she'll let us in, now that we've probably scared the poor woman to death."
"Eighty-three percent of people over fifty have some hearing loss. She might be hard of hearing." Reid informed JJ.
"Great, we'll have to shout."
They stamped up to the door at the front of the little house and knocked. The door opened up so soon that Reid was sure the old lady had been watching through the window in the center of the door.
"My goodness… Come in out of the storm you two."
She was about five foot five and very thin, but her hands were strong. She grabbed Reid by the hand and pulled him into the hot living room. At least it felt hot after the cold and snow that had covered their coats, hoods and mittens.
The door shut behind them and the woman, who had a head of jet black hair that was veined with platinum white streaks, addressed them as old friends.
"Are you lost my dears? Why don't you take off your things and warm up. I'll go make some coffee."
JJ attempted to speak but the woman was halfway to the kitchen, moving with surprising speed for her age which the UHP had told him was eighty-five.
The woman suddenly turned back while they were unzipping their coats. They both knew an order when they heard it and it was no use trying to argue.
The woman addressed JJ and ignored Reid. "Dearie… I could use some help in the kitchen. I'm sure your husband would like something to eat.
Reid tripped over the table next to the door and sent a bunch of hand painted glass puppies jangling together. One fell off the edge and he caught it clumsily.
"Ma'am… My name is Special Agent Jennifer Jareau. This is Dr. Reid. I believe that Detective Santos told you we were coming."
"Oh my yes… I'd forgotten."
"May we sit down?"
"Of course… but I'm sure you're cold," She left the room for the kitchen.
JJ shrugged her shoulders and followed the woman. "Make yourself comfortable, honey." She winked at him and he glared back at her.
It looked like they had no choice but to accept the old woman's hospitality and coffee sounded good to him.
He looked around the room, which was all wood and glass. The floors were split logs and sanded nearly white. The couch was covered with a light blue and white plaid material that was much worn at the arms. There was a matching easy chair with a basket of knitting sitting on a small end table. He recognized a pair of mittens in progress. His mother had knit before her disease had progressed so far that she lost her patience for it.
He sat gingerly on the couch after pulling off his boots, and looked at the rectangular shaped glass coffee table with a stack of coasters at one corner. He picked one up and began to play nervously with it. This was not going well at all.
There was a large window right across from him framed with curtains that were light blue and white plaid that matched the fabric color of the couch. He didn't know what the material was, but he thought it might be muslin. The snow was so thick now that he couldn't see the highway or the SUV.
JJ came in with a huge tray that was piled with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a pot of coffee with cream, sugar and three cups.
He jumped up to take it from her. He put it on the coffee table and waited for the women to sit down. He sat as far away from JJ as he could on the couch and didn't see her smirk at him.
"Mrs. Davis has quite a tale for us… Also she heard on the radio and all roads out of here are closed."
"But don't worry dearie, I have a guest room. I'll feel much better with you nice FBI agents here with this storm."
Reid dropped his coffee cup on the multi-color braided rug under his feet. The coffee he'd just poured splashed across the floor and onto his stocking feet. One bedroom for both of them! JJ was smirking at him again. This was not good!