Author's Note: A very, very oldie! Sorry to anybody who was excited about this one and I totally left you hanging. I had no intention of it falling by the wayside, but, at least we're back! And if you need to go catch up, it's just the one chapter. Plus well, the entire Girl'verse that proceeded it :) No, actually, you can read this one without reading all that came before.
And we're now picking up just a short while after JJ hung up the phone.
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TV Forum - July 2012
Show: Rizzoli & Isles
Title Challenge: This Is How The Heart Breaks
The Memory of the Moment
Rossi's brakes squealed as he screeched to a halt in front of JJ's house. Even though it had taken him half the usual time to get there . . . he still felt like he was late arriving.
Like he'd let her down.
And his already aching heart took another hit as he saw JJ through the windshield. Her hands were covering her face . . . she was huddled over in a ball on the front steps of her home.
She was sobbing.
With that curse and a twist of his wrist, Dave hurriedly yanked off his seatbelt and jumped from the Audi. He'd already cleared the front bumper before the echo of the slamming door bounced through the quiet neighborhood.
As he hurried up the front walk, JJ's head was lifting . . . and then their eyes caught. One small hand reached out towards him.
His name came out as a choked sob.
"Oh honey," he whispered while closing the last few steps, "I'm so sorry."
This was . . . sadly . . . not the first time that he'd had to make a condolence call in the middle of the night. Too many, far too many, good men and women had gone down over his years on this God forsaken world. But this was one of the few times that the call had been to comfort someone that he was this close to. Though he and Will had no real relationship beyond their connection to JJ, his personal pain here was still acute.
He was a good guy.
And as Dave pulled JJ up off the stoop and clutched her to his chest, he could think of no words of condolence to share for her loss.
None that would mean anything to her anyway.
Not someone who was in the business of making such platitudes herself. So instead of saying something well-intentioned but meaningless, he just tried to do something helpful.
Let her cry.
So he stood there rubbing her back until one side of his shirt was soaked through. At that point her sobs began to taper off into hiccups.
Finally she sniffled against his chest.
"I don't want to talk to them," she murmured, "please make them leave."
"Okay," he started his response slowly as his palm glided along her back, "but Jennifer, are you really sure about that? Because later on you might regr . . ."
The rest of his sentence was cut off.
"No!" JJ choked out with a smack to Dave's chest, "I don't want to talk to them Dave! All they're going to do is tell me things that I don't want to hear! Details. And I don't want the details. I know what I need to know. My husband . . ." her voice caught, "my husband is dead. And that's enough news for one night."
Though she knew that Dave was just trying to look out for her, to make sure that she wasn't making any 'hasty' decisions in the coming hours, this was her memory to form. This was going to be her night to remember until the day that she died. And she didn't want to remember a damn death speech being given in her living room.
The knock on the door was enough.
Knowing from the vehemence of JJ's reaction that this wasn't a point up for any additional discussion, Dave immediately dropped his previous train of thought. She was absolutely right, this was her husband, her life. These were her choices. And it wasn't his place to guide her to the ones that he thought were best. The memory she would carry of this night was hers alone.
He was just a background player.
"All right," he soothed as he kissed the top of her head, "all right, whatever you want honey. I'm sorry. I'll go get rid of them." Then he took a breath and leaned back slightly, "but do you want me to ask them anything?"
"Just where he is now," JJ responded as another batch of tears began to spill down her face, "that's all I want to know. Where he is. Because I want to see him before," she swallowed, "well, before they do anything to him."
Though she needed to see Will one more time, she didn't want it to be after he'd been slathered in makeup and pumped full of formaldehyde. She wanted to see him as he really was.
And that's how she would remember him.
"Okay," Dave nodded as he started guiding JJ up the few steps to the main porch, "then let me get in there now to make sure that they know not to do anything until you get there."
Though he wasn't relishing the thought of taking her to the morgue, Dave completely understood her feelings on this point. The person in the coffin was never your loved one. That was the shell, stuffed and shellacked for the sake of society's sensibilities. What they thought was right.
What they wanted to see.
And they never wanted to see death as it really was.
So as he walked JJ over to a chair on the porch he asked the one question left.
"Do you want me to ask Will's partner to stay with the baby?"
"Um," JJ sniffled as she wiped her hand across her face, "shit. I didn't even think that far yet. But yeah, I guess so." She looked up at him, "do you think that's an imposition? I mean," she swiped at another tear running down her face, "she's obviously dealing with her own grief, is it right to ask her to stay here with him?"'
Though she hated the thought of leaving Henry at a time like this, even for just an hour, she could not take her baby to a morgue. Not under any circumstances really, but certainly not to see the bloodied body of his dead father. Though his age was still counted in just months, she knew that on some level that memory could imprint. And she would hate herself if that happened.
If she somehow warped his little brain.
It was going to be bad enough for him growing up without a father, she didn't need to give him any additional psychological trauma. Her eyes started to burn again.
The dead dad was enough.
Dave's jaw hardened slightly.
"No offense to Detective Washington," he responded crisply, "but what she's dealing with doesn't come close to what you're dealing with. So no," his expression softened slightly as he squeezed JJ's hand, "I don't think it's an imposition at all to ask her to stay until we get back."
The baby was asleep, so all the woman had to do was just sit in the damn living room for an hour. And if she so much as raised an eyebrow at the request, Dave was going to drag her out back and give her an earful.
"All right then," JJ nodded, "if you can please do that, and um," she sniffed as she ran her hand down her terry cloth covered thigh, "once the rest of them are gone I'll just go upstairs and change quickly."
Not that she actually gave a shit about her appearance, but she was, literally, not dressed. No bra, no pants, just a nightshirt and her bathrobe. At the very least she needed to put on something that she could leave the house in.
And maybe splash some water on her face.
"Okay," Dave nodded as he let go of her fingers, "I'll be back in a minute."
And then he turned and walked over to the front door. He turned the knob, stepped inside . . . and closed the door again.
And JJ sat there biting her hand . . . counting the seconds . . . and bouncing her knee, as she waited for these well-meaning . . . unwelcome . . . people to leave her home.
It was almost three minutes before the door opened again . . . her gaze stayed locked on the wooden planks. But . . . out of the corner of her eye . . . she could still clearly see the two men step onto the porch. And though they paused for a moment, a moment where she could telepathically sense the sympathies locked on their tongues . . . the script that they were supposed to read when they arrived at her home . . . they said nothing.
That had to have been Dave's doing.
Still though, even with their silence, she waited until the vibration of their footsteps had traveled off the porch and down the front steps. And then she waited a moment longer for the car doors to open . . . and then shut.
Finally . . . as the engine turned over . . . she lifted her head.
Dave was watching her from the doorway.
He put his hand out.
"Come one honey," he whispered, "Detective Washington is in the kitchen making coffee. I didn't think you wanted to see her, so she's going to stay in there until we leave. But we found the bottles in the fridge, and she said she has two nephews, so she's fine even if the baby wakes up."
The woman had actually volunteered to stay before Dave had even asked her the question, so now he was feeling like a bit of an asshole for the nasty thoughts that he'd had about her.
Middle of the night death calls didn't exactly bring out his best.
JJ stared at Dave for a moment, processing the words he said . . . wondering if she was being a terrible bitch choosing to ignore Ginnie's grief to instead fully embrace her own . . . and then she nodded as she stood up.
"Thank you," she murmured back as she started walking towards the door. Her fingers slipped into Dave's as she reached the welcome mat.
She looked up at him.
"Please don't call Hotch until morning. I don't want to wake Emily," her voice faded as she dropped his hand, "she needs her rest."
Dave swallowed, remembering then just how weak Emily had become . . . remembering then that Death had been stalking them for a few months now.
It had finally taken a body.
And so he nodded back slowly.
"All right. Though," his hand slid over JJ's back as she stepped through the doorway, "I would like to call Derek if you don't have any objection. I think he'd like to know."
It was not a question that Derek would like to know what had happened, of course he would WANT to know what had happened. But more to the point, as JJ nodded her approval of his request, Dave didn't want to voice this (additional) somewhat insensitive point aloud . . . somebody on the team needed to actually be paying attention to their work. And with Hotch and Emily already on leave, and Dave knowing that he was going to be stuck to JJ's side for at least the next seventy-two hours . . . perhaps longer . . . someone had to take point for emergencies at the office. And Spencer's shoulders were still a little too slim for that responsibility to fall primarily on him.
Especially right now.
It had been hard enough for him these last few months dealing with Emily's cancer. Since Dave had arrived he'd noticed how protective she was of him, how much she mothered him . . . but in a good way. Spencer was a fine man, but he was also still a boy in many respects, and Emily had filled a gap that had been left by his own mother's mental illness, and resulted stunting of his childhood.
Emily had been making him stronger.
But with her now out of the office . . . and so very ill . . . JJ had stepped into that gap, taking on that role of protector and confidant.
And now she was being taken from him too.
And though it was for very different reasons, the outcome was the same . . . she'd be gone.
And he was not going to take this news well.
So as Dave watched JJ slowly climb the staircase of her home, he was slipping his phone from his pocket. And when she finally stepped onto the landing and disappeared around the corner of the upstairs hall, he looked down and quickly began to scroll through his contacts.
Five seconds later the phone was ringing in his ear, twenty seconds after that he heard Morgan's gruff voice replacing that trill. And thirty seconds later . . . after Dave had finished explaining why he'd ripped Derek from peaceful slumber . . . there was only silence.
It was weighted . . . and it lingered.
Finally Derek came back again, and this time Dave knew that the huskiness in his tone was born of grief. He and Will had been friends, bonded by both their age and a choice to wear a uniform.
"I'll meet you at the morgue."
And then he was gone.
Dave stared at the phone, his jaw grinding as his fist clenched. Then he began running through the numbers again. His gaze bouncing back and forth over his speed dials, trying to decide which one.
Finally he hit the button . . . the phone began to ring . . . and then another tired voice came on the line.
He closed his eyes . . . and he said it all again. This time when he was done, there was weeping. And there were questions, asking what she could do, what did he need her to do.
For a moment Dave just stood there, staring at a picture of JJ and Will on the mantle.
They were laughing.
"Food," he finally whispered back, "she's going to need food. People will be stopping in, and there's going to be the gathering after the service, and I don't want her to have to deal with anything. Can you take of all that?"
"Yes," Garcia wiped her hand across her face as she reached for the lamp, "I'll make sure it's all set. And I'll pick up some diapers and formula for Henry too. Just in case."
"Right," Dave's voice faded, "just in case. Thank you Penelope."
And then he hung up. And he stared at his phone again, his fingers clenching around the small black device, his conscience debated . . . finally he shook his head.
No . . . his grip relaxed . . . Spencer could sleep a little longer. He didn't need to go to the morgue with them, so he'd call him when he called Hotch, maybe around five . . . or six.
Emily did need her rest.
So with that . . . the initial calls done . . . Dave went over and dropped down on the couch. As he listened to the silence of a house that was once filled with a happy family, he put his head in his hands.
And he waited.
A/N 2: I have no illusions about suddenly whipping through this one, not after the last ridiculously long hiatus :) but I am hoping to kick it along a bit so it has a bit more substance to it than where's here now, which is like thirty minutes of their lives! But what's frustrating is that I DO have a very clear, linear, vision of the events in this world. I know everything that happens, and when character A, B, C enters from stage left, and what they say, I can just NEVER find the time to write them! And to be honest, it is rare that I have such a clear vision when I start out. Usually I know the beginning and the end, and a bit of the twists and turns of the middle, but how it pulls together is as much a mystery to me as it is to you :) So again, it would be nice if the ONE story I can envision all the way through, I actually was able to work on occasionally.
But anyway, such is life. Everybody's got their problems, this is a minor one :) I am going to try to get the next chapter up though in the next round of updates.
If you've read All The King's Horses, you'll know that's another story that opens around a knock at the door, but this world, I see the 'mundane' elements of the process taking more prominence over these few chapters. Finding a babysitter, the food at the house, the trip to the funeral home, all of that other stuff that's inescapable, that Horses (because of its sub plot) didn't/won't cover. There were different 'elements of death' to cover there. But this story isn't just about the initial days, it's following JJ forward from one life to the next. Again, I guess some overlap in theme to the new story I just posted, Life, Continued, but it couldn't actually be more different in every other way. For one thing, she'll have no new love interest here. Just support of friends, and with Emily and Hotch somewhat sidelined, that means the rest of the team will have more prominence than usual for me. I like everyone, they just aren't where my brain usually gravitates. And of course there is the time factor, I have none :)
Maybe one more update tonight, but that is below fifty percent on the odds scale.