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Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Fanfic Challenge 2010 - Round 2 Assignment: Hotch/JJ, Song Title: Yesterday (The Beatles)
Cracking the egg over the skillet, she barely even noticed as the yolk broke and spread, her mind focused on something other than her breakfast.
Distantly, JJ heard the strains of the Beatles hit classic "Yesterday," playing on the radio on the corner of her kitchen counter.
"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away..." Wasn't that the damned truth, she thought bitterly. Yesterday, she'd been happy...hopeful. Optimistic.
Yesterday had been a lie. But today, today was her new reality, dim as it may be.
And it didn't include him.
Lifting her shaking hand to wipe a stray tear, she stirred the eggs in the frying pan vigorously. Damn him, she thought angrily, sniffling. Damn him for not being a better man...a stronger man. Instead of embracing the future she offered him, he made a conscious choice to bury himself in the past.
Spitefully, JJ remembered Haley Hotchner. The woman had been a terror when she'd been alive. Oh, JJ wouldn't have wished Haley's ultimate fateful demise on anyone, but that didn't change the way she'd been in life. Demanding. Controlling. Manipulative.
And Aaron Hotchner was determined to bury his heart with her in the grave.
Scraping the eggs onto a plate, JJ slammed the frying pan back on the stove, turning the burner off with a vicious flick of her wrist as she reached for a loaf of bread.
Now, when he had an opportunity to be with a woman that truly loved him for who he was...not what she wanted him to be...when he could create the family he deserved, he turned his back.
For months, they'd...dated? Hell, she wasn't even sure what she could call what had transpired between them. At first, it had been play dates for their boys, long afternoons watching them frolic at the park between their homes. After Will had left her, the play dates had progressed to family friendly movie nights, both parents needing a distraction from their personal lives and the horrors they saw on the job. Somehow that had evolved into sleepovers; Henry and Jack sharing the bunk beds in Henry's room while she took her bedroom and Hotch slept on the couch.
And then one night, everything had changed. The boys had gone to bed, and still wide awake, she and Aaron had settled in for a grown up movie. She couldn't even remember the title now. But when the film had progressed to a particularly steamy scene, their eyes had met...and the chemistry they'd spent an inordinate amount of time ignoring flared to life.
Hotch hadn't slept on the couch that night. They'd barely made it to her bedroom, no words spoken at all that evening. Only sighs and moans and the occasional raw, primal groan from a man that had spent far too long celibate.
That had been the beginning. That night. She should have known then that those nights, stolen in darkness, were all she'd ever be able to glean from him. He'd left quickly the next morning, but he'd been back the next weekend...and so had set their routine.
Months later, they'd progressed to being an "almost" family. Hotch and Jack seemed to be at her cozy home most every night, especially after she was transferred to DOD. She kept Jack when Aaron was out of town. She was the emergency contact...she held medical power of attorney. She'd become a mother without ever officially gaining the honor.
Oh, hell, Jareau. You let yourself be used...as a surrogate wife and mother. And she'd lived for every moment of it. Jack was as much her little boy as Henry. She couldn't have loved him any more if she'd given birth to him.
But in one split second it had all been proven a lie. Yesterday.
Because little Jack Hotchner had slipped and called her "Mommy" in front of his father.
And spineless coward that Aaron Hotchner was, he couldn't handle it. Because she wasn't the beloved, sainted Haley Hotchner!
'Well, fuck him!' she thought bitterly as the bread popped out of the toaster. Chopping Henry's edges off, her eyes clouded with tears. It was okay to use her as a substitute, but not allow her to be the real thing...to either of them. Apparently not in this lifetime!
He'd actually accused her of deliberately trying to take Jack's mother's place. Moron! It was natural the young boy would see her that way. She'd been the one supervising his baths and kissing his boo boos for months. And yes, she'd fallen in love with the mini-Aaron. Just as deeply as she had her own son.
But nothing had been done deliberately. Or maliciously.
She'd thrown him out. The boys had already gone to bed and there was no way she was allowing him to wake either of them. She'd told him he could pick up Jack in the morning. And as she buttered both boys' toast, she glanced at the clock.
Any second he'd be here.
And she'd be forced to resist the urge to use a butter knife to remove his eyeballs.
As if those malevolent thoughts could summon him, she heard a soft knock at the back door. Sliding both prepared plates of food smoothly on the table before turning toward the door, she steeled herself for the coming confrontation.
Inhaling deeply, she opened the back door, not even looking at him. "Neither of the boys is awake yet and I just finished preparing their breakfast," she informed him coldly, turning away, leaving him to come in or not. "You'll have to wait."
"JJ," Aaron said softly, hoarsely, as he stepped into the warm and cheery kitchen. "Wait," he said, capturing her arm before she could flee up the back staircase to Henry's room. "Please?"
Stiffening as his warm hand surrounded her wrist, JJ halted. "What?" she bit out, her voice like ice, hard and unyielding.
"I need to apologize," he said quietly, tightening his fingers when she would have darted. Swallowing, he said quickly, "Yesterday, I was an ass. And an idiot. I overreacted to a situation that I should have seen coming a mile away. And today, I need you to forgive me."
"Why?" JJ snorted, her shoulders stiffening. "Need a babysitter? Going out of town on a case?" she sneered, still not turning to look at him.
"No," Hotch denied faintly. "I need you to forgive me today because I love you. And Jack and I need our tomorrows to be here with you and Henry."
Astonished, JJ finally turned to look at the man she'd fallen in love with long ago. Red eyed, haggard, unshaven, he looked like he'd walked through hell in the last ten hours, and perhaps, he had. "I'm not her," JJ warned shakily, the words slipping out. "I'm never going to be her."
"I know. That's why I'm here," he whispered. "Begging you to take me back...to give me another chance for a life together...all four of us."
"You really love me?" JJ asked huskily, her eyes cloudy with doubt.
"I didn't realize how much until I thought I'd lost you last night...until I realized that I might have thrown away the one person who truly understands me...accepts me. But yes, I really love you. And so does Jack. You didn't give birth to him. But you're now the mother he knows in his heart."
"I'm never going to replace Haley for him. I don't want to," JJ replied gently, her fingers reaching for his. "I'll always honor her memory. She created something beautiful. I'm grateful to her for that."
"I know that. I knew that last night. I just...wasn't prepared to hear it."
Dropping his hand in his jacket pocket, Hotch admitted hoarsely, "I've had this for three months...but how could I give it to you when I'd never had the courage to tell you I love you?" he asked with a slight shake of his head as he slowly knelt in front of her.
Eyes widening, JJ's breath came in short gasps. "A-aron?" she asked, her voice cracking as she stared down, watching as he cracked the lid of a small velvet box.
"But," Hotch said, ignoring his whispered name, "I have told you. I was late. I was stupid. But I swear I'm not hopeless. I do love you. More than any woman before you," he said, meeting her eyes with genuine sincerity. "And more than any woman I'll ever see again in my life. You're what's best for me. You make me feel whole. You make my son feel safe and loved. And if you love me, too, you won't send me away again."
"I love you, too," JJ replied, her tears running freely now as she took a half step forward. "Yes, Aaron," she whispered. "I want to marry you, too."
Releasing a relieved breath, Hotch slid the gold band with a single stunning diamond on her finger as he climbed to his feet. "I'll make sure you're never sorry. I promise, I will."
"I know. And now, we'll have all our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows together," JJ whispered through her tears as he kissed her.
And that's exactly what they had. Forever.
Dedicated to our Hero!