Author's Note: Part of the Girl'verse (A) but this is not an H/P story
I'm writing a new larger story that will spin off of The Hours (like The Hours it won't start going up until Girl is wrapped) and it's going to revolve around a tragedy that JJ suffers. This little stand alone story below came to me yesterday and it's part of that world. It was insistent on being written and I had to get it out so I could move on to the things I had PLANNED to write :)
So this snippet would be a preview of what's coming in the other JJ story. And that larger story will cover a period of time skipped over in The Hours. If you read The Hours initially you might remember that it only takes the characters to April and then it jumps to August. And in August Life & Such begins right after The Hours ends.
There are no chapters in the H/P Girl'verse stories that cover those other months. So this is the in between, JJ on Mother's Day 2009. Emily's cancer has just gone into remission.
Bonus Challenge #13
Title Challenge: Mother's Day
The Ides of May
JJ slowly pushed back the covers and sat up in bed. As she leaned back against the headboard her eyes automatically shifted down to the empty space beside her.
Again . . . as they had been for days . . . weeks . . . her blue eyes filled with tears.
And again . . . as she had been doing for these same days and weeks . . . she gave herself a moment to grieve.
Just a moment though.
Because there were things to do. The baby would be waking up soon and she needed to have her shower done before that happened. With her now a single parent, there was no one else to share the load.
Her grief had to be scheduled.
So it was dealt with in small increments, never allowed to overwhelm her during the daylight hours. The tears soaked her pillow as she cried herself to sleep at night, but the pillow had to be dry in the morning.
In the morning she had to be strong.
But today . . . she bit her lip as the first tear slid down her face . . . today she didn't want to be strong. Today she wanted the sheets to be warm. Today she wanted to smell coffee brewing.
Today . . . more tears started to fall . . . today she wanted to have Will's special cheesy grits and sausage with biscuits and gravy. That had been his favorite breakfast and eventually it had become hers.
And he would have made it for her today.
But today . . . she put her hand up to her mouth to cover her sob . . . today she was waking up alone. There would be no special breakfast in bed with her boys by her side. No flowers, no cards, no little silver bracelet or locket engraved "To Mommy, Love Henry."
Today it would just be her and her son.
She sniffled as she wiped her hand across her face . . . maybe they would go to the park.
God knows she couldn't stay in the house.
With a shuddering breath, JJ swung her feet out of bed and headed into the bathroom. After she'd washed the tears off of her face, she brushed her teeth, went to the bathroom and started over to turn on the shower nozzle.
Henry would be awake at 7:30. His sleeping schedule was like clockwork.
Her eyes started to sting again . . . he got that from his father.
Just as she put her hand on the faucet, JJ heard her cell phone ringing on the night stand in the adjacent room. She hurried back in to grab it before it bounced to voicemail.
A horrible case would be just the thing to take her mind off her own problems.
That thought came to her but then a second later she felt a stab of guilt and remorse . . . wishing that someone was being tortured or murdered simply to give her something to do.
What an awful thought to have.
She shook her head in shame as she grabbed the ringing line without looking at it.
"JJ, would you please come downstairs and meet me at the door?"
It took JJ a second to process the words she was hearing, and then she blinked at Hotch's request.
"You're here? " Her eyes fell to the alarm clock, "at seven o'clock on a Sunday morning?" Then a terrible thought came to her and JJ asked in a near panic.
"Oh God did something happen? Is Emily okay!"
Her cancer supposedly had gone into remission but that didn't mean it was gone for good. Or that there couldn't still be complications. And every night JJ prayed that Emily would stay healthy, that the tumor wouldn't come back.
Because without a doubt, JJ knew that she couldn't handle the loss of her best friend coming on the heels of the loss of her husband.
Hotch came back soothingly, "Emily's just fine. She's still sleeping, but," he paused for a second, "I knew you'd be up."
As parents they had discussed the arbitrary nature of a newborn baby's sleeping schedule. And Hotch had listened with some envy as JJ had told him last March that Henry had started sleeping through the night at three months.
It had taken Jack twice that long.
That was the last time Hotch had been envious of JJ's life. Now all he did was pray that Emily's cancer would stay in remission. That he'd never be put in the position that JJ had found herself in.
Mourning the love of his life.
And today was Mother's Day, JJ should be sleeping in, being waited on, having breakfast in bed.
But instead Hotch knew that she would be awake. Awake because she had to get up to care for her child. And she had to get up to care for her child because she was all alone.
Her husband was dead.
JJ sighed in relief, "okay, well," she looked down at the ratty New Orleans P.D. t-shirt she'd worn to bed (Will's of course) and nodded into the phone.
"l'll be one second."
After she dropped her cell back on the bed, JJ pulled on a pair of gym shorts and a bra. Then she took her blue silk robe off the hook and slipped it over her mismatched outfit.
Not that she thought Hotch would care, or that she herself did . . . she was beyond such concerns . . . but it still just seemed like the thing to do.
She tucked her cell phone into the pocket of her robe before she went into the hall and quietly poked her head into Henry's room.
And knowing that state of being wouldn't last too much longer, JJ hurried down the stairs and over to the front door. Out of habit she checked the peephole . . . and of course . . . Hotch.
Dressed in jeans and a blue polo shirt . . . he definitely wasn't on his way to work.
JJ turned the deadbolt and pulled open the door, her expression brightening considerably when she saw that he wasn't alone.
Before she even said hello to Hotch, she stooped down and smiled at his young son.
"Hi Miss 'Ro!" Jack exclaimed with a happy grin.
He couldn't quite manage Jareau but JJ always liked "Miss 'Ro" better anyway. They'd spent some time together over the winter months when Emily was going through treatment, and it certainly was quite a surprise to see his cute face this morning.
"Hi sweetie," her eyes crinkled as she gently squeezed his little fingers, "it's very nice to see you."
A bittersweet smile touched Hotch's lips when he saw the look on JJ's face, the spark of amusement in her eyes as Jack pointed out the caterpillar crawling across her front steps.
It had been weeks since Hotch had seen anything but sadness surrounding her. Even when he'd seen her with Henry, her joy was clearly bittersweet.
JJ's son reminded her of his father.
But Jack . . . he affectionately ruffled his boy's hair . . . Jack was simply a cheerful ambassador of good tidings for all who knew him. More than once he'd pulled Emily back from her dark days during the worst of her illness.
That's why Hotch had brought him along for his errand this morning . . . he had been hoping Jack's presence would help to cheer up JJ as he often did Emily.
And he himself for that matter.
And as her gaze lifted up to his Hotch was pretty sure that his intentions in bringing Jack along had been successful. Though the crimson was apparent in her eyes, there was a slight sparkle there as well.
But he was sure that it wouldn't last long so Hotch spoke quickly before the darkness encroached again. So giving her a little smile, he held out the coffee he'd bought her at the Caribou on the corner.
"Medium French vanilla, three sugars, light with non-fat creamer."
Last night, as he was deciding what to do today for Emily and Haley, Hotch had suddenly pictured JJ waking up alone. And a terrible wave of grief and remorse had washed over him, knowing how close he himself could have come to losing Emily. To becoming JJ.
A partnerless partner.
Hotch had just decided to go out early to get the roses for Emily and Haley . . . he wanted them to be fresh . . . so he'd immediately added JJ to the list.
He couldn't do anything about the fact that she'd be waking up alone, but he'd wanted to catch her first thing. Just to let her know that she wasn't alone. That there were still people that loved her.
And they couldn't exactly bring her the traditional Mother's Day breakfast in bed, but . . . he handed JJ the brown cup . . . he could at least bring her her favorite coffee.
Tears pricked JJ's eyes as she took the warm cup from Hotch's hand.
"Thanks," she said with a soft smile.
That was really sweet. They came all the way over just to bring her something for Mother's Day and . . . oh!
The tears start to pool as Hotch suddenly pulled a bouquet of roses out of the bag by his feet.
'They bought her ROSES!'
He passed them to Jack, who held them out to her as he said with a big grin, "Happy Mother's Day Miss 'Ro! We boughted you lellow ones! Miss Emily got red and Mommy got," his brow wrinkled as he looked back at his father, "what color for Mommy?"
"Pink," Hotch smiled at his son, "pink for Mommy, and we bought Miss Jareau YELLOW ones," his eyes came up to catch JJ's watery ones, "Jack said they'd match your hair."
They were also the color of friendship, but Jack was most excited that they would match her hair.
His son had an excellent time going out early that morning in search of special roses for the three women. He had no idea of the true significance of the purchases, or the reactions they would elicit from the women receiving them. Tears were guaranteed from all three.
But of course for very different reasons.
The tears started to run down JJ's face as she put the coffee on the step before she stooped down to take the bouquet from Jack's little hands.
"Thank you sweetie," she sniffled as she kissed his cheek, "that was very nice of you."
She stood up and looked at Hotch . . . her grief was rising up.
A kind act was breaking through her careful control . . . these weren't tears that were allowed in the light of day.
But she could tell from the look on his face that Hotch knew that, and she saw him wince in sympathy right before he stepped forward and pulled her against his chest.
Hugs from Hotch were once unheard of, but since the knock at the door last month they had become the norm.
And as they had many times before over these past weeks, JJ's eyes fell shut as she clutched his shirt tightly, trying to will the tears back. Will the grief the down.
Will her life back to what it was before.
Hotch felt an ache in his chest as he rubbed his hand down JJ's back . . . between Emily's cancer and Will's death, there had been so much sadness this year, so much grief. It had brought them all closer together . . . solidified their importance in each other's lives.
But of course that closeness had been at a terrible, terrible cost.
After a moment of JJ crying on his shoulder, Hotch tipped his head down to whisper in her ear, "why don't you come home with us? Emily would love to see you," she lifted her head and he gave her a little smile, "we're making French toast," his eyes shifted down to Jack looking up worriedly at them, "and that's Jack's favorite, right buddy?"
That had been the plan all along, to bring her the coffee and roses, and see if she'd come back with them. But he wasn't sure how receptive she'd be to the offer.
Now though . . . he squeezed her shoulder . . . he just couldn't imagine leaving her all alone here today.
Then Hotch saw Jack nod seriously at JJ, "uh huh," he patted her leg, "French toast is yummy Miss 'Ro."
JJ sniffled as she turned to give Jack a watery smile, "it does sound yummy, but, um," she looked back up at Hotch, "I uh, don't want to impose."
It would nice to have some distraction . . . weekends were hard anyway, so many hours to fill . . . but it wouldn't be right to cut in on their day.
Emily had been so sick for so long, this time was theirs to spend together. But then she saw Hotch shaking his head.
"Don't be silly," he squeezed her fingers as he said firmly, "you're never an imposition. We've told you before that you're always welcome. And Jack and I can wait while you get dressed. And I imagine," he checked his watch, "that Henry will be up soon. I can watch him while you're getting ready."
Seeing JJ bite her lip as she stared at the pocket of his shirt, Hotch knew that she was definitely teetering on the edge of agreeing. And Hotch was hoping to talk her into this now before she changed her mind.
Not only did he think it would be best to get her out of the house, but Emily would be so happy if he could get JJ over to the condo. She'd been worried sick about her, and feeling guilty because she wasn't yet up to leaving the house for long stretches of time.
So she hadn't been able to check on JJ, keep her company, or help her with the baby.
As much as he tried to reassure her that JJ knew that she still wasn't well, Hotch knew that Emily felt like she was letting her down.
"Um," JJ's eyes dropped down to the bouquet in her arms, then to the roses still sitting in the bag on the porch. She looked back up at Hotch.
"Maybe we could come over a little later."
They hadn't given Emily her roses yet, and they probably had a card for her . . . and a present.
Tears pricked her eyes again . . . maybe one of those little lockets that JJ wouldn't be getting.
She didn't want to be there for that. It would be . . . well, it would just be too hard. And she would definitely be in the way.
Hotch stared at her for a moment before he nodded slowly, "okay, why don't we say nine-thirty?"
It was almost seven-thirty now, that would give them time to get home, give Emily the flowers she wasn't expecting . . . her step-mother status wasn't yet official so she didn't know that they were getting her anything . . . and start breakfast before JJ arrived.
JJ wiped the corner of her eye as she gave him a little smile, "okay, nine-thirty sounds good."
They stared at each other for a moment before Hotch leaned down and kissed her cheek.
"Happy Mother's Day JJ," he whispered as he squeezed her fingers.
What a shit world this was. Her first mother's day . . . ever . . . and it was barely a month after the death of her husband.
Why was life so cruel?
Not trusting her voice, JJ just nodded back as she tried to blink the new batch of tears from her eyes. Then she cleared her throat as she looked down at the miniature Hotch standing at his father's side.
His little eyes were watching her closely . . . he looked worried. And then she felt terribly guilty for making a little boy have such a grown up emotion.
So she made sure to pull out a smile that went all the way to her eyes as she said brightly, "thank you so much for my pretty roses Jack! That was very nice of you and your daddy to come see me today." Her voice started to catch and she cleared it again as she gave him a quick hug, "Henry and I will come see you in a couple hours at Miss Emily's house," she pulled back and smiled at him, "okay?"
"Uh huh," he nodded seriously, "and you can watch SpongeBob at Miss Emily's," he looked up at Hotch, "right daddy?"
Hotch's lip quirked up, "right buddy."
Though he was only three, Jack did know what sad was. And JJ had emanated sadness for weeks.
It was pouring off of her today.
And to Jack's mind SpongeBob was a surefire mood booster. So that was his way of telling JJ that if she came to visit him there would be something fun to do.
Watching SpongeBob was something that Jack thought would cheer her up.
Oh . . . Hotch reached down to scoop his son onto his hip . . . to be four again.
Hotch picked up their bag of undelivered roses and looked back down at JJ scrubbing her hand across her face, trying to hold that smile steady for Jack.
But Hotch could see it beginning to quiver, so his voice was gentle as he said goodbye.
"We'll see you in a couple hours," he gave her a soft smile, "after breakfast I'll take the boys to the park and you and Emily can talk."
He was sure that would be good for both of them.
JJ nodded as she felt a fresh of wave of tears pooling, "that sounds nice."
Her voice cracked on the last word and Hotch bit his lip, hating that he had to leave her. But when he opened his mouth to ask if she was sure that she didn't want him to wait, she waved him off.
"You guys go on," she sniffled, "you tell Emily I'll see her in a bit."
It had been weeks since she'd seen her friend. Though Emily had left her a few voicemails, JJ hadn't been up to talking . . . she'd been afraid she'd start crying and be stuck all alone in the house . . . so she'd responded to her inquiries via emails.
They hadn't actually spoken in some time.
Hotch nodded, "right," then JJ watched as he turned, starting down the steps with Jack on his hip and the florist's bag dangling from his fingertips.
Her eyes followed them down the front walk and over to Hotch's jeep parked in the driveway. And she stood there as he buckled Jack into the backseat. Then Hotch turned back and waved goodbye.
Her fingers rose automatically, but then curled a second later as her hand closed down into a fist.
And she could see Hotch staring at her for a moment and she knew what he was thinking. And she was afraid that he was going to come back.
But he didn't.
Apparently he knew what she was thinking too. Because she saw his eyes fall to the ground before he shook his head. Then he got into the jeep, backed up . . . and drove away.
For a few minutes JJ stared down the street, watching them go, wishing they'd come back, yet knowing that they didn't belong with her. That wasn't her life.
Those weren't her boys.
Then she heard the cries coming through the baby monitor behind her. She wiped the tears off her face as she shut the front door and turned the lock.
The coffee and the flowers went down on the hall table.
Then she took a breath, turned and hurried towards the stairs as she called out.
"Mommy's coming baby."
A/N 2: The larger story here will be about JJ/Rossi (obviously not JJ/Hotch :)) but as a friendship piece. Certainly initially anyway because I have JJ really in love with her husband so I wouldn't be pairing her up with anybody anytime soon. Also, I'm just not sure yet if I'm going to put them together romantically. I like their friendship in this world and I might just explore that further. Either way, that story will start over the summer, after a few things are wrapped. I'm looking forward to it myself! I have a long term plan for the side characters (who don't usually have much spotlight in the H/P stories) so it'll be fun to explore other relationship dynamics. Hopefully you enjoyed the little taste of it :) Now I have to get back to my regularly scheduled writing for the week.