A/N So this story surprised me, although it didn't really turn out the way I originally wanted it to. I hope you enjoy it anyway, and Happy Mother's Day! :]
Disclaimer: I don't own Criminal Minds, or the title or lyrics which I shamelessly borrowed from Jimmy Wayne.
i love you this much
and i'm waiting on you
to make up your mind
do you love me too?
how ever long it takes
i'm never giving up no matter what
i love you this much
Emily and Morgan looked up as JJ walked down the steps.
"Everything okay?" he asked slowly. The blonde blinked, jumping slightly at his voice, and blushed.
"Sure," she said, "everything's fine."
Her two friends exchanged concerned glances.
"JJ," Emily began, "you know you can't really lie to us, right?"
"And we saw Hotch run outta here twenty minutes ago..."
"Did you two fight?" Emily asked. JJ sighed in defeat, knowing they would not let it go until she came clean.
"Jack's school phoned," she said, "and Aaron just...took off."
"He didn't say why?" Morgan questioned, now fully understanding the look of worried frustration on her face.
"It's not that," JJ went on, running a hand through her long blond hair, "It's...it's been five years since...Jack's just starting to...well, it's Mother's Day, and..."
The words caught in the back of her throat as Hotch walked in, his hand resting on Jack's shoulder.
"Hey..." she began, but fell silent as Jack glared at her. At the swelling around his lip, she frowned in concern. "What happened to you?"
Jack ignored her, and seeing the confused look JJ gave him, Hotch sighed heavily.
"He got into a fight at school."
"Tommy started it!" Jack shouted. Hotch moved around to look at his son.
"But you should have just walked away, Jack. Violence is never the answer."
"I wish Mom was still alive!"
"Yeah, well so do I!" Hotch shot back in frustration. JJ flinched beside him.
"You don't even miss her!" Jack cried. Hotch held his son by the tops of his arms, looking him dead in the eye.
"I miss her every day," he said, his voice intense, "I really do, Jack. And don't ever think I'll stop loving her, because I won't."
JJ felt the dagger twist a little more.
"I hate you! It's your fault she's dead!" Jack shouted, "I hate you, and I hate JJ, and I hate stupid Mother's Day!"
Hotch stared at Jack as he ended his explosive rant. JJ hugged her arms around her, and did nothing but watch in silence when Jack ran off. The elevator doors slid shut behind him, closing on his scowling face.
Blinking once, Hotch moved to follow his son, but felt a gentle hand holding him in place.
"Let me," JJ said sadly. He winced, having forgotten she was still behind there.
Hotch shook his head. "Jayje, he..."
"Please, Aaron. Let me."
He stared at her, seeing the hurt swimming in her blue eyes, and reluctantly stood aside.
It turned out that Jack wasn't hard to find – he'd headed straight for the large balcony one floor up from the BAU, and as JJ pushed the door open, he stiffened.
"It's nice out here," she said casually.
Jack glanced over his shoulder, his brow furrowed and lips drawn together in a tight line.
JJ shut the door. "I think I'll stay a minute," she replied evenly. He gave a heavy sigh of frustration, sandy blonde hair sticking up from where his anxious hands had been running through it.
"Leave me alone! You're not my mom!" he yelled. She had known that was coming, and JJ didn't even blink at the angry words.
"No, I'm not, but I love you very much, Jack, and I'm not walking away until you know that."
A heavy silence descended over them, until JJ dared to move closer.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Jack shrugged, misery casting shadows over his face.
"Tommy Baxter says that he thinks I'm a loser because I don't have a mom," he mumbled. JJ winced inwardly, but let her hands rest reassuringly on his shoulders.
"But what do you think, Jack?"
He scuffed his feet on the floor, kicking up a small cloud of dust.
"I think that he's right."
"No, Jack. I know it must seem like..."
"NO!" he yelled, "You don't know anything!"
Turning him to face her, JJ crouched down. She held his hands tightly between her own.
"I know your favorite color is blue," she began softly, "I know your favorite food is scrambled eggs. You take the bear that Grandma gave you everywhere..."
The scowl on his face lessened.
"...even though you think it's babyish," JJ added with a slight smile. She swept his hair away from his face, touching his eyebrow.
"You got this scar when you fell off your bike. You got picked for the soccer team after your first tryout. And I know you must feel that the whole world is out to get you, especially today."
Jack glanced down at her in surprise.
"But you're probably right," JJ said softly, watching his reaction, "I don't know anything."
After what seemed like forever, he nodded, leaning back against the wall. JJ slid down beside him, sitting down on the concrete.
"I just wish things were like they used to be," Jack muttered, "Just me and Dad and Jessie."
"You do?" she asked, ignoring the twinge of hurt that jabbed at her.
"We never get to see Jessie anymore. She's too busy with Todd."
JJ was silent.
"Do you want me to move out?" she asked quietly. Jack looked up at her from the corner of his eye.
"Why? My dad loves you."
"But he loves you more, Jack," she replied, "and if you have a problem with me and your dad, then Henry and I can give you some space."
Her offer hung in the air between them. Jack thought for a moment.
"I don't want that," he admitted eventually, in a whisper. JJ let out the breath she had been holding, briefly closing her eyes in relief.
"So what do we do now, Jack?"
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you're having a tough time. So what can I do to make it easier?"
The question rose in his eyes, and before he had a chance to ask it, JJ shrugged.
"Because that's part of loving somebody. Making sacrifices. Of all sizes."
Her words stayed in the air between them, neither one knowing what they should do next. Much to her surprise, Jack spoke first, his voice now missing its previous anger.
"Are you mad at me for yelling at you? And for saying I hate you?"
JJ was silent, her chest rising and falling with each steady breath.
"No, Jack. I understand. Sometimes when we're angry, we say things that we don't really mean."
The boy hugged an arm around her, glancing up uncertainly. "JJ?"
He waited, chewing gently on his lip in the same way she had seen his father do.
"I don't hate you."
"I know," she reassured. JJ waited, knowing from both experience and gut instinct that Jack would talk when he was ready.
Sure enough, he leant into her, his breath catching.
"I don't want you to leave me too," he whispered, his bottom lip crumpling.
JJ hugged him tight against her, running her fingers through his hair and feeling tears of her own appear in her eyes.
"I promise," she whispered, "that I'll do my best to never let that happen."
Jack nodded against her shoulder, and tightened his arms around her neck.
"I'm sorry for yelling at you, JJ," he said miserably.
"It's okay. I'm glad that you felt like you could share those things with me."
He looked up at her with watery eyes, and sniffing tearfully, nodded once. JJ gave him a small smile, pushing the dark blonde hair from his eyes to meet his gaze.
"Okay?" she asked gently. Jack glanced up at her, nodding again. She chuckled, lifting his head with a finger beneath his chin. "Want to go home?"
His small hand slid into hers, and pretending not to see the smile she sent him, Jack pulled JJ towards the door.
Letting go of her hand and running to Hotch, JJ felt warmth spread through her chest as Jack threw his arms around his father's waist.
"I'm sorry and I didn't mean it and I love you."
Hotch looked over at JJ, the look of gratitude and admiration and pure love on his face almost more than she could handle.
"I love you too, Jack," he replied, "so much."
Seeing the beckoning tilt of his head, JJ crossed the room. She folded her arms over her chest, taking a deep breath.
"Where are the others?"
"I sent them home," Hotch replied quietly, "They all had plans for tonight."
"Good," JJ said with a quick nod. He swept a golden strand of hair from her brow, and then let his hand fall from her forehead, his thumb gently stroking over her cheekbone.
"Are you mad at me?" he asked softly. JJ shook her head.
"Not mad, no. Hurt, a little," she admitted, "but we can talk about it when I get home."
"You're not coming now?"
"No, you go," she reassured, "I'll finish up here, pick Henry up and be home later."
"JJ..." Hotch protested. She nudged him towards the exit.
Hotch stood firmly, his jaw set. "I'm not leaving until we're okay."
"Aaron," JJ replied in a tone of voice that told him she wasn't messing around, "Jack has some things he wants to explain. Go home."
There was just something about the determination on her face that made him chuckle. He leant forward, bypassing her lips to press a soft kiss to her cheek.
"I love you," he murmured. She nodded.
"I know. Now get out of here."
Father and son had barely made it out of the glass doors.
"JJ?" Jack called suddenly.
She stopped, turning back with a slight smile. "Jack?"
He smiled shyly, giving her a quick wave.
"Happy Mother's Day."
If you have a few moments, please leave a review - I really do love hearing what you guys think!