A huge thank you to foxyfeline for the suggestion to continue PLUS the idea for this next chapter. This chapter is a little (okay, a lot) shorter than the last one, but so was this scene on the show so that's okay.
The plane ride home from LA. Also JJ POV.
Rossi got on the plane first, carrying all my bags and case files. I followed him, Hotch and Emily helping me along the way. Hotch took my crutches and I leaned against Emily, hopping up the stairs onto the plane.
"You know, you really shouldn't be flying," Hotch informed me after seeing the struggle to merely get on the plane. Reid limped onto the plane as well, followed by Morgan.
"I'm fine," I insisted as Emily softly put me down on the couch. I swung my legs over, laying my injured leg out across the couch and leaned back on the armrest, closing my eyes for a second. But I opened them again after feeling the worried stares my team was giving me.
"JJ, you suffered from blood loss, not to mention the concussion." He said, handing me an ice pack which I took gratefully.
"I know, I was there." I winced in pain as I put the ice pack on my head.
Reid, from the back of the plane, apparently didn't hear the conversation and changed the subject. I reminded myself to thank him later for that. "Hey, do you think Daves will continue to perform as Dante?"
"The character is partly responsible for the murders of four women," Prentiss reminded us, handing me a bottle of water. I took it, slightly confused. "If he has any conscious at all, Dante died with them."
Hotch handed me a bottle of painkillers—suddenly the water bottle made more sense.
"Thanks," I muttered to both of them.
"Are you okay?" she asked once again.
"Yeah; the doctor said I'll be in a little pain for a while, but I'm fine. Really," I said to everyone.
"I just feel so bad I didn't go with you to interview Gina," Reid said, draping a blanket over my legs. I winced slightly again as the blanket made contact with my wound, and he looked at me apologetically.
"Spence, stop," I ordered as I gently removed the rough blanket from my leg, "we had no way of knowing she was going to be dangerous. She was just the friend of a victim." At Spencer's look, I added, "Granted, a schizophrenic friend with a sociopathic partner.
"And a shovel," Emily couldn't help but add with a smile.
"Plus, we have other things to worry about."
"Like what?" Morgan asked, concerned.
"Well, for starters, what everyone else is going to think when arrive to help out on cases and two of us are on crutches," I joked.
"Well, on the bright side, maybe they won't trust us and we'll have to deal with less cases," Rossi shrugged.
"Which means less paperwork. Win-win," Emily grinned.
"Jayje, you don't strike me as the type of person who would care what others think," Morgan said.
"I'm not. It's you guys I worry about." The team shot me a confused look. "Well," I explained, "when Spence and I come and can't walk, they are going to be sympathetic. You are just going to have to do more work."
"Please. Reid is a profiler, and he can do that from a chair! Plus, if I'm right, he's back on his leg soon. Then it will be only you..." Emily said, pausing to see my reaction.
"Yeah, well then who's going to hold the press conferences?" I asked, laughing as I tried to picture anyone else talking in front of the pushy, annoying reporters.
The rest of the team followed my train of thought and laughed as well.
Just then, the plane hit a small bump. However, the slight movement nearly sent me rolling off the couch and left my head throbbing. I bit my lip and closed my eyes, waiting for the pain to pass.
"JJ, were you even cleared to fly?" Hotch asked.
"Yeah, doctor said it was fine," I answered through my teeth.
"JJ. Which doctor?"
I opened my eyes and stared at Hotch and the team. "Doctor Reid," I answered truthfully.
"Reid, you cleared JJ to go? You do know that just because you have a doctorates degree does not mean that you can clear her, right?"
When there was no response, I looked over and saw Reid staring into space.
"Spence, you okay?" I murmured, nudging him with my good foot.
"Hm? Oh, uh, shouldn't I be asking you that?" he asked with an unconvincing smile.
I looked at him, knowing exactly what he was thinking about. "He's dead, you know. You killed him; he's gone. Gina is getting help. We're fine."
He shook his head. "No, no we're not. I guess I just never realized that it would happen again."
"It did, and it will. There are going to be more times when we don't realize someone's illness, Reid. There are going to be more times when we don't realize someone's involvement."
"What am I missing?" Rossi asked.
"Ever hear about Tobias Henkel?" I asked. Rossi shook his head.
Morgan took a deep breath. "About four years ago, JJ and Reid went to interview a potential witness. He denied everything, and it turned out that he was the unsub all along. All three unsubs, actually; he was suffering from DID, or dissociative identity disorder. He...uh, he kidnapped and tortured Reid for two days."
"Just like Gina. Someone was sent to interview a witness, and ended up getting injured. First we don't know about Tobias and his DID, now we don't know about Gina and her schizophrenia. What's next? How many times is this going to happen? How many times are we going to suffer?"
"Countless times," Hotch said sadly. "When we signed up for this job, we signed up for everything, pain and loss included. It's horrible, what Tobias did to you. And it's horrible, what Gina did to JJ, but it will happen again, and you have to be prepared for that."
"How? Well, by living in the moment. There's no way to know when something like this is going to happen, and the only thing we can do is not try to predict the future, but try to profile what we do know. We are already giving it 100 percent, and you know better than anyone that you can't go above that."
"So there's nothing else we can do? Hotch, we are giving it our best and we still get tortured and hurt. We are each doing everything we possibly can. JJ did her best, yet shealmost got murdered." I flinched involuntarily at this comment. Emily leaned over and rubbed my good leg in a comforting motion, which I thanked her for with a weak smile.
Hotch stared at me for a moment before responding. "It's a team effort, not something you have to do alone. If we all just keep doing what we've been doing and work together, we will all be fine."
Reid looked right at me. "Now I know how you felt. I feel guilty, I feel horrible. This was all my fault. I should have come with you."
"And I shouldn't have left you at Henkel's, but I did."
"JJ, you were being attacked my man-eating dogs. I was working a profile. There's a difference."
"Spence, you couldn't have come! It's not your fault; you were on crutches!" I reminded him angrily. How could he blame himself for this?
"Yeah, and now so are you. No thanks to me."
"Spencer Reid, this is in no way your fault. Nothing would have changed what happened to me. Think of it this way: if you had come, we both would have been hurt." I took a deep breath. "Listen to me. Both of us suffered, but both of us won. The bad guys are gone, and we're still here. We won, Reid."
I didn't realize the truth in my words until after I said them aloud. It was true; we won. Spencer had suffered with Tobias, Prentiss with Cyrus, Garcia with Battle, and now me with Gina. It was horrible, what these guys did to us, but we always came through. Because when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.
Because when one person suffers, we all suffer.
So it was then that I realized that I was going to have to be prepared. I was going to have to be separated emotionally, but also compassionate. I was going to have to use my judgment in the future to decide what is right and what is wrong, because in this job, there is no knowing until it is too late.
So I will always be ready. For everything.
And maybe with some luck, history won't repeat itself. Maybe with some luck, we will be able to catch the unsubs without any of us suffering.