Summary: JJ's first truly traumatic case at the BAU leads to her abduction; luckily the team finds her fast and Hotch is there to pick her up.
Rating: T for cussing and adult situations, but remember, Criminal Minds is an intense show on its own.
Disclaimer: Sadly, Criminal Minds does not belong to me. Even more depressing…Aaron Hotchner doesn't either.
"There is no greater challenge than to have someone relying upon you; no greater satisfaction than to vindicate his expectation." –Kingman Brewster
JJ knocked on the door three times, adjusting the case file she was currently holding in her hand, staring straight at the nameplate that hung on the door. SSA Aaron Hotchner. It had been three months since JJ had joined the legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico, Virginia, and she still couldn't believe she was allowed to work with the best profilers in the bureau. She truly cared for every member of the team, especially the stoic man who was probably sitting at his desk, pouring over the cases he had strewn about his desk; JJ knew her crush on her boss was a ridiculous feeling she would never actually act on, but that didn't stop her from caring about him as much as the rest of the team.
Or slightly more than the rest of the team, right JJ? Before she could berate herself for the thought, she heard a deep voice allowing her entrance into the office. She grasped the door handle and walked in, smiling to herself as she watched Hotch writing in a case file with three others opened around him. It never ceased to amaze her how he could work on so much at once while keeping his entire office in perfect, pristine order.
Aaron Hotchner finished his current writing and looked up at his new media liaison, a small smile forming when he noticed it was her. Jennifer Jareau was the newest addition to his already extremely capable team, and she was already fulfilling her job duties above and beyond his best expectation. She was a great agent and a true asset to his team, and after only three months, she was already an important person to him. He couldn't explain it or understand it, but he definitely had a soft spot for Miss Jareau.
JJ rolled her eyes and nodded, the smile still consuming her beautiful face. "Yes sir, Indianapolis PD contacted me this morning." She handed Hotch the case file she had been holding. "Apparently three women have gone missing in the past three weeks, all beautiful, successful women, taken as they were getting in their cars late at night. He's been holding them captive for two days before he kills them. Minor signs of physical abuse were evident, but the sexual abuse only occurs post-mortem. Each woman was found in a pair of red underwear and a matching red bra. They're asking us to head to Indianapolis as soon as possible sir."
Hotch finished looking over the file, nodding as JJ went quiet while waiting for his final stamp of approval that said the team would be taking the case. He met her eyes once again, and nodded, pushing himself slightly away from this desk. "Ok gather the team and have them on the jet, wheels up in thirty. We'll brief everyone on the plane. And JJ…"
JJ stopped at the doorway and turned back, already having headed off to gather the team. Hotch gave her small smile. "Don't call me sir. It's just Hotch."
JJ turned pink and chuckled slightly; he was the best profiler she'd ever seen, but hopefully he didn't realize that her nervousness stemmed from the butterflies doing cartwheels and back flips in her stomach. "See you on the plane in thirty. Hotch."
JJ opened her eyes, her head already pounding. She sat up and grimaced in more pain, waiting for her eyes to adjust in the dim lighting of the room she was currently occupying. She was on a concrete floor in a completely bare room, she knew that much. She attempted to stand, but her left ankle was throbbing and she was handcuffed to a pipe that jutted out from the wall. Her neck hurt terribly, and when she reached up to touch it she hissed at the pain that coursed through her body. There was blood on her fingertips–not enough to cause any substantial blood loss, but it was still a terrifying sight to behold. Her heart began to race and her breathing became erratic as she looked down at herself; sure enough, she was dressed in nothing but a pair of red underwear and a matching red bra.
Genuine panic began to set in as she remembered how she wound up in this hellhole.
JJ rubbed her eyes for the sixtieth time in the past half hour. The team had been working with Indianapolis PD for the past 48 hours straight with no new leads to help narrow the profile any more. The rest of the team had already headed to the hotel for a few hours of sleep, minus her, Hotch, and Gideon. Realizing her exhaustion made her fairly useless at this point, she decided to head back herself for a few hours before beginning again tomorrow. She quickly packed up her items before heading over to the conference room where Hotch and Gideon were re-reviewing the evidence once again.
"Hey, I'm going to head to the hotel for a few hours, try to recharge a little bit." Gideon nodded to her and immediately turned back to work. Neither of the men seemed remotely tired or drained like the rest of the team, and JJ had no idea how they always managed to be alert and ready without sleep.
Hotch reached over and grabbed his jacket. "I'll walk you out."
JJ shook her head. "No, I'll be fine. I'm parked right out front anyways." Hotch simply looked at her–that signature glare on his face much less frightening when directed at her–and walked over to her, suit coat neatly in place. While JJ was never opposed to the idea of spending any amount of time with her boss, she knew he was just being overprotective; he cared for each member of his team more than some people cared about their own flesh and blood.
They walked silently out of the police station, JJ guiding him to the left where her rental car was parked. She grabbed her keys and opened the driver side before turning back to Hotch. "Thanks for walking me out. Even though at least six officers can still see me from here."
They both looked inside the precinct, noticing the police officers mulling about still within their view. Hotch turned back and raised an eyebrow at her, giving a small shrug of his shoulders. "At least I know you're fine." JJ laughed slightly as her heart rate picked up a bit. "Get some sleep, I'll see you back here in the morning."
JJ nodded and got in the car, giving Hotch a smile as he stepped back onto the sidewalk, watching her until she started the car, backed up and drove away.
JJ pulled at the handcuffs, trying to break the pipe but to no avail. She remembered Hotch walking her out to her car safely. The UNSUB only grabbed women as they were entering their cars at night, so he either went against his MO to get her or she was with some other psycho. JJ wasn't entirely sure which was worse.
"You're the prettiest one yet." JJ quickly spun around at the sound of the man's voice, causing her head to throb and a sharp pain to shoot through her neck as she did. It took another minute for her vision to clear and the room to stop spinning before she took a good look at the UNSUB.
He was exactly as the profile said: tall, muscular, well groomed, overly confident in his appearance to the point that the narcissism of his personality leaked from every pore of his face. He had a smug smile on his face that further exposed his narcissism, a smile that made JJ's stomach churn; JJ knew this was the UNSUB her team was after.
He walked over and bent down to her level, the smug smile on his face growing even bigger. He reached over and stroked her cheek, making JJ instantly flinch as far away from his as possible. He just laughed at her.
"Definitely the prettiest one yet. Red looks almost as good on you as it did on her. Too bad about your neck; you fell funny against the knife when I grabbed you from behind. You know, you really shouldn't get in and out of a car in a deserted parking lot all by yourself late at night. You might get what you deserve."
JJ instantly remembered pulling up to the hotel, getting out of her car, and immediately being attacked from behind before she even had time to grab her bag. She tried to think like the others on her team, like a profiler would to gain control over the situation. "Who exactly is she?"
The UNSUB glared at her minutely, but attempted to cover it with his smirk. "She is none of your business. She was just a common bitch, just like you. And she got what she deserved. Just like you will."
As terrified as she was, JJ fought as hard as she possibly could to not show it. She knew the profile, which meant that this psycho would at least spare her the horror of sexual abuse until after he killed her. And the team had an accurate profile; she trusted that all she had to do was stay strong until they showed up to save her.
"Morgan, what do you have?" Hotch was on the phone, pacing the small conference room at the police precinct, running a hand over his face once again.
"Hotch, her car's here man, and her bag is still on the passenger seat. There's no blood, no scuff marks, nothing around the car, but she's no where in the hotel. Do you really think he nabbed her here? He usually only takes them as they're getting into the car, not out of it."
Hotch sighed and wanted to throw the phone across the room. He had walked JJ out to her car last night so that this exact thing wouldn't happen. "Yeah, it's him. He went against his normal pattern when he saw JJ getting out of her car. You and Reid get back here now, we have to find her." He shut the phone and slammed it on the table, not bothering to apologize to Gideon, who was seated at the table in the room. "This is why I walked her out last night. This is exactly what I wanted to avoid!"
Gideon nodded his head, silently understanding why the young agent was so distressed by this event. The whole team launched into panic mode when JJ couldn't be found this morning, but no one could quite reach the level Hotch was currently at; he had tried to keep JJ safe, and even though he was dead wrong about it, Gideon knew that Hotch was blaming himself for not doing more.
"Like you said, the UNSUB devolved; he only takes women as they get into their cars. You walked JJ out last night. As far as we all knew, she was completely safe after that. We can't always predict what people are going to do. Let's just hope he stays true to the rest of his profile." No one wanted to imagine what JJ was going through, but at least if he stayed true to his profile, the UNSUB wouldn't sexual abuse her.
Hotch continued pacing as he listened to Gideon; he knew his friend was right, but it didn't pacify the feeling that was threatening to bring Hotch to his knees. His entire chest felt as though it was being crushed, and he knew that feeling wouldn't dissipate until JJ was back safe. They just had to get JJ back safely. Safely and soon.
Gideon was a legendary profiler, but anyone with any common sense could see how JJ's abduction was affecting Hotch. He stood up and put his hand on Hotch's shoulder, attempting to stop the younger man from pacing a hole in the floor. "Hotch, we will get her back. We just have to go back to the profile, we have to look at it objectively. I know you're blaming yourself for her disappearance, but that's not what's going to find her. She needs you to find her, and you can't do that as long as you let your emotions cloud your judgment."
Hotch finally stopped pacing and took a long, shaky breath. He rubbed his face with both hands and nodded, staring at the floor. He had to take stock and compartmentalize his current emotions or Gideon would be right. They couldn't…he couldn't find JJ without a clear head. That special part of his heart that JJ had taken over was screaming, and it wouldn't stop until she was back. Hotch finally looked up, meeting Gideon's eyes as the rest of the team barreled into the conference room, looking to their unit chief for direction. SSA Hotchner turned towards his team, his trademark glare securely in place.
"Morgan, head back to the last crime scene and review everything. Call Garcia and see if she can track JJ's cell phone. Gideon, I want you here with me to review the profile and see what we're missing. Reid, look at the geographic profile again…"
JJ had no idea what time it was; hell, she didn't even know how much time had passed. The UNSUB had come and gone only once thus far. JJ had rubbed her wrists raw attempting to break the handcuffs with no luck; she was definitely stuck. She had a small abrasion on her right forearm, probably from when the UNSUB grabbed her. Her left ankle was definitely sprained–if not broken–although she wasn't sure when that particular injury occurred. She was dehydrated, hungry, and exhausted, but she refused to fall apart. She knew with everything inside of her that the team would find her. She had to be strong until they came to get her.
"You still awake down here? I thought you'd have passed out by now." JJ hadn't even heard the door open, but as she whipped around, the UNSUB was standing in the doorway, just as smug as before. She'd seen a lot of UNSUBs in her short career at the BAU thus far, but she knew this guy was the most narcissistic bastard she'd ever seen; even without being a profiler JJ easily deduced that his treatment of women stemmed from the demeaning and overly controlling woman how had been important to him at some point in his life.
"I'm sitting on a cement floor in nothing but underwear with a creep keeping me chained to a pipe. You honestly think I'll be sleeping any time soon?" JJ was shocked by her own defiance, and she desperately hoped that her attitude wouldn't get her into trouble.
A flash of anger crossed his face and he stepped further into the room. JJ scooted even closer to the wall, as far away from him as possible. The UNSUB stopped dead and laughed at JJ's movement before bending down to her eye level. "You're just like every other slut or bitch around. You think you're such hot shit, think you can just treat people like they're toys." He grabbed JJ's arm and forcefully pulled her closer to him, causing JJ to cry out in both pain and fear. "I am NOT a toy, and you better realize that quick."
JJ tried to quell her fear, but with the UNSUB so incredibly close to her face, she knew he could see the fear in her eyes. He smirked at her before grabbing her face, roughly crushing his lips to hers. JJ's eyes shot open and she tried as hard as she could to move her face, but his grip on her face was strong enough that she knew she'd be bruised tomorrow. As soon as he forced her mouth open with his tongue, JJ bite down on his bottom lip as hard as she could, immediately tasting the blood in her mouth.
The UNSUB immediately pulled away, hissing in pain as he wiped the blood off his lip with his hand. "You stupid bitch!" He swung his arm back and brought it painfully back across JJ's cheek. Her eyes watered on impact and the entire left side of her face burned, but she refused to back down. He smacked her again and gave her a swift punch in the gut, all the air immediately leaving her body as she gasped, trying to regain normal breathing. The UNSUB wiped his bloody lip again as he headed back upstairs, cursing the entire time, leaving JJ alone in the tiny room once again.
JJ stayed in her position for a while until she knew for certain that she could breathe normally again. She'd never been in a situation remotely like this; she suddenly realized that she was still extremely new to the workings of the BAU. She could recall the different stories she had heard about her fellow teammate's various run-ins with different UNSUBS over the years. Each member had been abducted at one point or another, but JJ had naively thought she was safe from that type of action. She was a media liaison for crying out loud. She rarely went into the field at all, and she never thought she'd be a target for an UNSUB's abduction.
She had never imagined how she would handle being abducted before, simply because being in PR didn't usually result in many kidnappings. She wasn't a profiler, she wasn't one of the important players to go after. JJ knew she was more of an assistant to the team than a real team member. She could contribute here and there, she could deal with the locals and the media, she could even pick their cases, but at the end of the day, JJ knew the true glory went to the amazing team of profilers she was honored to work for. The team would never make her feel unappreciated, but JJ couldn't stop herself from feeling like a lesser component of the team. Another member of the team could handle this situation much better than she was; they'd all handled much worse and come out on top. She'd seen Hotch stare down an armed UNSUB more times that she could count, and he never even blinked.
JJ sat up, squared her shoulders and put on her game face. She may not be a real team member of the FBI's notorious BAU team, but she was determined to be as strong as them, to face any situation head on without fear. She would make her team proud. And she would make sure to show Aaron Hotchner that she belonged on his team…that she belonged by his side.
"Garcia what do you have?" Hotch silently prayed she had found a name. After ten hours of working nonstop to find JJ, they'd finally found the missing piece of the profile. Now all they needed was the name on the mortgage of a local rundown factory on the outskirts of town.
"Sir, the building is registered to a John Mickelson, who just so happens to have died three months ago. His son, William, took over the lease upon his death and has taken up residence at the factory since his bank foreclosed on his house."
"Garcia, you're a goddess." Damn that woman was good. He could hear her chuckle over the phone but he was already throwing on his armored FBI vest, bee lining for the door. The entire BAU team along with several Indianapolis PD officers jumped into their cars, Hotch in the lead and gunning it down the highway towards the address Garcia had sent to his phone. Now that they knew where JJ was, all they had to do was go get her.
"Morgan, take a team of PD officers and go around the back, see if you catch Mickelson off guard. Reid, you and I will take officers to the front and go in. As soon as we apprehend Mickelson, I want everyone to team up and search for JJ. No one is to separate."
Everyone gave an affirmative as they pulled up to the factory, not even bothering to shut off the engines as they all jumped out the cars. Both teams got into position, Hotch leading the front assault while Morgan took charge of the back, waiting for Hotch to give the go-ahead to bust in. Hotch gave Morgan the ready, then nodded to the officer braced by the door, giving him the cue to kick it in. Hotch entered first, his gun drawn and ready, his back-up attached to his ankle, as always. There was too much area to hear Morgan and the rear team, but he knew they were in as well.
Both teams moved throughout the factory, clearing doors as they went, searching for the UNSUB who had to be in the building somewhere. Truth be told, Hotch was leaving the UNSUB up to the others; his one and only true focus was to find JJ and get her out of this place.
"Hotch, we got him. He was trying to get out from the upper level but we got him. Two officers are walking him out now."
Hotch was relieved, naturally, that a dangerous murderer was apprehended, but they still had an agent to find. "Alright Morgan, have your officers pair up and start searching the upstairs. We know JJ isn't on the ground level, I'll send some officers up to the third level to search for her." Hotch barely acknowledged Morgan's reply as he turned to the officers around him, directing them to different areas. "Reid, you and I are heading to the basement. I want two officers to follow us, the rest head up to the third floor. If you find Agent Jareau, call for medics immediately, then contact the rest of us. Go."
Hotch led Reid and two other officers down into the lower level of the factory, he and Reid veering to the right while the other two officers took the left. He could hear Reid's voice as he called out for JJ closely behind him, but Hotch's panic grew each time she didn't answer. He didn't know how long he could manage to keep his emotions in check. He was becoming frantic trying to find her. "JJ! JJ, it's Hotch! If you can hear me make a noise! JJ!"
So faintly that for a second he worried it was his mind playing a trick on him, Hotch heard what sounded like someone banging on a pipe. "Reid, I heard a banging." Reid immediately rushed to Hotch's side, watching the experienced agent as he called for JJ again. "JJ, bang again!"
Sure enough, there was a faint banging response to Hotch's call and the two agents sprinted in the direction. They came to a dead end, stopping the two agents in their tracks. "JJ! JJ bang again!"
The banging was so close to them, and for once in his life Hotch didn't know what to do. He stood there, silently contemplating whether to go back and try a different route or to contact the others and stay where JJ could hear his voice. She banged on the pipes again and Hotch knew he couldn't leave her, wherever she was, all alone.
"Hotch! Hotch, I found it!" Hotch whipped around, looking over at Reid who had somehow managed to find an opening in the wall that had been previously covered. How Reid had managed to spot it was beyond him, but this wouldn't be the first time Hotch thanked God for the young genius on his team.
Reid instantly stepped out of the way, allowing Hotch to move down the narrow stairs first, following closely behind. Both agents had their guns drawn as they approached a dimly lit room, barely squeezing through the tiny staircase. The room was completely bare and no bigger than a jail cell, with pipes jutting out along each wall. And sitting on the floor in nothing but red underwear, chained to a pipe in the corner of a wall, was JJ.
Reid gasped as he took in JJ's appearance, but Hotch had already holstered his gun and was kneeling by JJ's side. "Reid, go get medics. Go."
JJ looked awful; she had a large bruise on her cheek, her right arm, and on her stomach where the UNSUB had punched her. Her left ankle looked swollen and her wrists were raw and slightly bloody. She had a small line across the side of her neck, obviously a cut she received during the abduction, probably from a knife as far as Hotch could tell. The blood was dried and it didn't look deep; she probably wouldn't even have a scar from it. She looked exhausted and was visibly shaking. She had to dehydrated and starved, considering she'd been gone for at least fourteen hours. Hotch reached over and grasped JJ's chin, bringing her eyes to meet his.
JJ was so exhausted, both physically and mentally, that she hadn't heard her two teammates enter. She didn't even notice anyone was in the room until she felt fingertips on her chin. She looked up, her eyes widening as she realized Hotch had finally found her.
Hotch breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that while JJ looked terrible, she was going to be just fine. "I'm here. You're ok."
As the realization that her team…that Hotch had finally found her truly set in, JJ's eyes began to glow and a small smile overtook her face. Hotch gave her a small smile in return, relieved and thankful that JJ was safe. Reid walked over and hunched behind Hotch, giving JJ a huge smile.
"JJ I'm so glad you're ok! Hotch I talked to the medics but they don't think they're going to be able to get down here to take care of her. We need to get her back on the first level."
Hotch never looked away from JJ but nodded. "Can you walk?"
Although her ankle hurt like a bitch, if walking a few flights of stairs was all that was standing between her and getting out of this hellhole, she would crawl if she had to. Reid set to work getting the handcuffs off, while Hotch shrugged out of his suit jacket, quickly placing it on her shoulders. As soon as she was free JJ braced herself to stand up. The pressure on her ankle made her stumble back to the ground; she cried out as pain shot through her, causing both of the men in front of her to reach for her.
Hotch caught her on the way down, trying to cushion the fall as much as possible. He knew there was no way she was going to make it up two flights of stairs and down several hallways on her ankle. Reid stood behind Hotch, trying to come up with a solution. "Hotch how are we going to get her out of here if she can't walk? That staircase is too narrow for a stretcher."
Hotch looked at JJ, his heart breaking a bit at the dejected look on her face; she just wanted to get out of here. "JJ, do you trust me?"
JJ's head snapped up, her eyes automatically meeting Hotch's intense gaze. "Yes." She trusted the man in front of her with her life.
Hotch nodded, adjusting his position so he was squatting in front of her. "Put your arms around my neck." Before JJ could question him, Hotch wrapped one arm around her back while the other hooked itself under her legs. He stood up immediately, JJ in his arms, safe and secure, before turning to Reid. "I need you to stay directly behind me, especially on the stairs. Understand?"
Reid nodded, knowing that even though Hotch was asking him to be his spotter, Hotch would never fall as long as he had someone he needed to protect in his arms. JJ was safer climbing those stairs in Hotch's arms than she would be with two perfectly working feet.
Hotch looked at JJ one last time to make sure she was doing ok; she stared back at him, her arms holding onto his neck tighter before giving him a small nod. He then headed to the stairs, carefully keeping JJ's legs from getting close to the wall in case her bad ankle should get hit, Reid following right behind him. He held JJ closer to his chest as he climbed the stairs, making it out of the tiny, cramped space effortlessly.
The three headed back down the hallway towards the staircase that would take them to the ground level where medics would be waiting. JJ, while extremely grateful to be out of that tiny room, was also feeling extremely self-conscious being clad in only a tiny bra and underwear, even with Hotch's jacket on. "Sorry if I'm heavy."
Hotch, the always stoic and professional unit chief of the BAU, chuckled at her apology. Reid, who still followed diligently behind him, shot his boss a surprised look; he'd work with Hotch for quiet a while now on too many cases to count, and he'd never heard the man chuckle before. Hotch looked down at JJ who was blushing in his arms. "JJ I'm pretty sure I bench more than you." JJ blushed even more.
"I knew you'd find me."
Hotch looked down at the woman in his arms, his heart swelling. "You're a part of this team JJ. That means you have five people who care about you above everything else in the world. And I will always be one of those people." JJ's eyes began to tear up as she looked away, glancing back to Reid who shot her a huge smile. She knew in that instance that she never had to doubt her place on the team again.
Finally the trio made it through the hallways, up the final staircase, and out onto the ground floor where the rest of the team was waiting anxiously with several medics. Hotch gently deposited JJ onto a stretcher and attempted to move out of the way as medics began to check her over. JJ reached out and clung to his hand; she was shaking uncontrollably but she had felt so safe the moment she saw him. Hotch stared at their hands and then back at her, walking out with her as the medics wheeled her out of the building. He squeezed her hand and let go once she was finally outside by the ambulance before walking over to Gideon.
"I'm going to drive with her to the hospital." Gideon gave him a nod and headed back over to the team while Hotch returned to JJ. She was sitting up on the stretcher as medics looked her over, one checking her ankle while another looked at her wrists. Hotch stood to her side, watching as the medics worked on her, making sure they were being as gentle as possible.
"Alright Miss, I'm going to put something on your neck. I need you to look to your left and brace yourself. This is going to sting a bit."
JJ looked over at Hotch, worry already etched into her features. Hotch chuckled to himself; JJ had just handled fourteen hours being chained to a wall and she was worrying about antiseptic cream being painful. He wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her close as the medic applied the cream to her neck.
JJ hissed in pain and shut her eyes tight, pushing herself tighter into Hotch's side. She knew she was acting like a pansy, but the antiseptic hurt a lot worse that she thought it would. Hotch knew how heightened your senses were after such a traumatic event like being held captive, and his heart went out to JJ. He turned his head to the side and quickly pressed his lips to JJ's forehead before pulling away. Even though it was just for a second, the kiss on her forehead made every ounce of pain in JJ's body wash away. "You're going to be just fine JJ."
JJ sighed as the medics finished looking her over, her eyes meeting Hotch's again before the medics moved to put her in the ambulance. "Thank-you Hotch. For everything." She knew he would just brush it off, claiming that he didn't do anything she needed to thank him for, but she needed to say it anyways.
Hotch gave her a smile as he climbed into the back of the ambulance with her. "Always, JJ."