A/N – Stay tuned for the next story in this series, "A Fantasy Realized".
A Private Conversation
"Hell, no. You aren't getting off that easy," Hotch returned easily, shooting a glance toward the dark haired woman he loved at the back of the plane. She was currently bent toward JJ, their exchange appearing serious. Briefly, he wondered if he was the subject of their conversation. Shaking his head, he turned back to Dave. "Start at the beginning. What did you mean about JJ's happiness?"
"I meant exactly what I said. She's not happy," Dave replied tersely, trying to tell himself to stop looking at her and failing miserably.
"Why?" Hotch asked bluntly. Damn it, how did he keep missing the crap happening to his own people? Had he really become this self-absorbed?
"That Cajun jackass she has herself tangled up with," Dave mumbled.
"You liked Will," Hotch retorted. "You told me so," he insisted, eying the older man as his face tightened.
"Yeah, well, that was before he became an insecure jackass that spends his spare time making Jen feel like shit," Dave grumbled.
"Rossi, what in the HELL are you talking about?" Hotch asked impatiently.
"I'm talking about the fact that up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought this guy of hers was some southern gentleman that treated her well. Instead, I find out that he's an insecure little prick that tortures her daily with guilt trips over being a successful agent. Hell, man, he let ME have it today!" Dave whispered violently, mindful of the team around them.
"Tell me that you held your temper, Dave," Hotch urged quietly, slipping back into his leadership role that fit him like a second skin.
"I did," Dave replied. "For her," he said, nodding toward where JJ sat staring out the plane window, "I did. Can't say that's ever happened before. Holding onto my temper for the sake of a woman I wasn't sleeping with," he continued.
"I'll be damned, Rossi," Hotch said proudly. "You're evolving."
"Fuck you, Aaron. I'm warning you, if he goes for her throat like he did mine, I'll be DEvolving. I guarantee it," Rossi returned, his voice assured.
"It isn't our business. We can't get involved unless or until she asks us," Hotch murmured. Shifting to look at Dave's stone face, he asked, "How long have you known about this and not told me?"
"Couple of weeks," Dave shrugged. "She asked me not to say anything to anybody. I honored her wishes."
"She could have talked to me," Hotch replied. "I wouldn't have judged."
"She didn't want to burden you. Hell, I don't think she would have come to any of us. I just happened to find her crying…pressured her into unloading," Dave returned softly.
"I know Emily doesn't know. We were just talking about how we figured we'd all be attending a wedding soon," Hotch confided.
"Not fucking likely," Dave growled.
"Dave," Hotch warned. "You can't interfere," he continued, watching his friend's face pale at the mention of a potential marriage between JJ and Will.
"He doesn't deserve her," Dave declared flatly. "I don't either," he added quickly, "But at least I'D never try to make her feel like less than she is."
"That's her choice," Hotch said softly. "JJ's a smart woman; she'll do what's best for her and Henry." He'd known the media coordinator a long time. He had no doubt that JJ would make the right decisions for herself and her son.
"I'm not pursuing her, Aaron," Dave confided quietly. Lifting his eyes to the other man, he elaborated, "But, I wouldn't run if she looked my way, either."
Crap. He knew that look. Like he'd said, he'd seen it before. The hunter in Rossi's personality had been aroused. He had the scent for Will LaMontagne's blood. And if his prey was smart, he'd step lively.
"She's got a kid, Dave," Hotch sighed.
"Do you want to tell me something that I don't already know?" Rossi asked, growing irritated. "I already told you that all I've done for Jen is lend an ear. I have no intentions of fucking with a family. But, if she leaves him…"
"You're gonna be all over it?" Hotch asked, disgusted.
"No. But, like I told you, I won't run from her either. I'm too old to keep running from the good things in life. And Jennifer Jareau and her son are two really good things. Or do you want to hold the monopoly on the BAU romance?" Dave asked with a raised brow.
"You know I wouldn't begrudge you the chance to be happy," Hotch returned softly. "I just want you to be aware that the fallout from anything between you two could be catastrophic. Look how long it took for you to convince me to give this a try with Emily," Hotch reminded him.
"Too fucking long," Rossi groaned. "But just when I'd given up hope, you surprise me," Dave smiled.
"She's worth the risk," Hotch murmured, gazing fondly at Emily.
"Hotch, man, I hate to be the one to tell you this. But there ISN'T any risk there. You've got it in the bag. She loves you. Has for years," Dave assured the younger man.
"I hope you're right. I was nervous that I'd left it too long. But she was receptive to the idea of a relationship," Hotch said, his eyes resting on the woman at the back of the plane.
"Of course she was, idiot. She LOVES you," Dave replied, his voice rising.
"Keep it down, Old Man. We don't exactly want to advertise it. At least, not yet," Hotch growled out of the side of his mouth.
"Yeah, cause this'll be a HUGE shock to the entire team," Dave said sarcastically.
"It was a shock to ME," Hotch muttered.
"That's because you're an idiot…at least in the romance department," Dave shrugged.
"Isn't it lucky that I've gotta friend like you then?" Hotch hissed, equally sarcastic.
"That's what friends are for," Dave grinned.