Love in the Time of Chaos
Summary: AU. [Post Faceless, Nameless] "Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." (Lao Tzu) A different take on the events of Season 5. Hotch/JJ pairing.
Author's Note: I can't believe this is it. The very last chapter of Love in the Time of Chaos. I just wanted to thank everyone for all the support you've given this story. Just knowing that people continued to read each and every chapter is more than I could ask for, and your kind words and reviews were the cherry on top. I hope you've all enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed writing, and again, thank-you!
Aaron's Final Perspective
Aaron held his stomach tightly as the laughter burst from deep inside of him, a thin layer of tears forming in his eyes as he tried unsuccessfully to control himself. His position from the porch where he was currently overseeing an entire grill of burgers gave him the perfect view of what had just transpired. Reid, in an attempt to kick the soccer ball past Goalie Garcia, missed his intended target completely as his foot made perfect contact with Morgan's groin.
As the rest of the profilers on the field–also known as Dave's expansively huge backyard at his cabin–tried not to fall on their asses laughing, Reid ran as far away from Morgan as humanly possible. Only Jack ran over to Morgan, who was bent over and breathing heavily as he tried not to throw up. "Come on Uncle Morgan, we gotta get the ball back!"
Aaron's smile grew as he watched JJ swoop down, capturing Jack in her arms as she swung him around, his son positively squealing with laughter. JJ had taken Jack under her wing after he had expressed a passionate interest in soccer and the two had been practicing nonstop the past few weeks. Jack definitely had a natural talent and playing for hours on end helped JJ regain her strength. Aaron joined in every so often, usually playing the role of goalie so JJ could teach Jack a new trick or tactic. But most of the time Aaron secretly preferred to just sit on the sidelines and watch.
Watching JJ with Jack was the greatest joy Aaron had ever experienced. They both glowed with happiness the second they were in the same room. Jack loved spending time at his dad's more than ever now that JJ was always around. JJ always tried to offer to give Aaron and Jack some alone time, but Aaron never took her up on it; JJ and Jack were the two people Aaron loved most in the world and he'd never turn down an opportunity to be with either of them. The fact that they were both crazy about each other was simply the best perk in the world.
Dave, noticing Aaron would rather watch JJ and Jack than keep the burgers from burning to a crisp, stepped away from his porch-bar, scotch in hand, and headed over to the grill. Aaron turned his attention quickly to Dave as a hand slapped his back. He gave his friend a smile before turning back to the burgers, looking up once again when he heard Jack scream with laughter. "Hi Dad!" Jack and JJ both waved from the field before turning back to the game as Dave began to subtlety profile his glowing friend.
"Jack and JJ sure do seem to get along well." He chuckled with Aaron as JJ snuck in and stole the ball from Prentiss, quickly shooting it to Jack who easily took control of the ball as JJ cheered him on.
"They're madly in love with each other." Dave and Aaron shared a grin as Aaron took the burgers off the grill, making room so Dave could put a fresh set on the grill.
"You and JJ talked about your future yet?" He glanced over at Aaron, whose attention was focused intently on the grill.
Dave raised an eyebrow but Aaron was nonchalant as he tended to the burgers. "How about unofficially?"
Aaron looked over at Dave with a neutral look on his face but Dave could still see the happy twinkle in his eye. "I'm going to marry her Dave."
Even all his years and years profiling at the BAU couldn't keep the surprise off Dave's face. "I thought you said you would never get remarried after Haley."
Aaron shrugged, secretly pleased that he managed to take Dave by surprise. His attention kept shifting between Dave, the burgers, and the blonde on the field playing soccer with his son. "She's the one. I love her more than anything else, and Jack's absolutely crazy about her. I know we're going to spend the rest of our lives together. Marrying her is the only other thing I need."
Dave smiled, turning his attention to his friends playing soccer in his backyard. "Sounds like a good plan. Just tell me you're not going to take as long to propose to her as you did telling her you love her."
Aaron sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. "I know. I wasted a lot of time with her…"
"Nah, you guys weren't ready."
It was Aaron's turn to look surprised. "Really?"
Dave shook his head, his attention still focused on the soccer game. "You both were occupied with other things the whole time. It wouldn't have lasted if you two hadn't taken the time you did to truly dedicate yourselves to each other. Plus, you're both too damn stubborn for you own good." Aaron chuckled, unable to argue and Dave shot him a smile. "You and JJ are perfect for each other, Aaron. You really are."
Aaron smiled, glancing at JJ before returning his gaze to his friend. "Thanks Dave."
"Plus, Morgan and I will love to plan your bachelor party."
Aaron rolled his eyes. "Aren't we a little old for all that?"
Dave shrugged. "Probably."
"Hey, Garcia and Prentiss…"
"…will be ten times worse." The two profilers shared a laugh as Dave gave Aaron's shoulder a squeeze, heading down to the field. "Food's ready guys, come on and eat!"
Aaron watched as the team–his extended family–came up to grab some food, Morgan and Reid leading the way as the two joked around; Morgan gave the young genius a nudge with his shoulder that sent poor Reid staggering forward. Garcia, one arm wrapped around Kevin, poked her chocolate Adonis with her free hand as she chastised him for picking on her baby Reid. Prentiss and Dave followed behind, the pair leaned in close as they shared a joke intended only for the two of them. After a few lasting kicks of the soccer ball, Jack grabbed JJ's hand and the two followed the team onto the porch.
Aaron sat back and watched the pair for a moment. JJ grabbed three plates, three napkins, and three sets of silverware, passing one set to Jack as she easily handled hers and Aaron's. She followed behind Jack as they went down the line, explaining and helping Jack to get everything he wanted before taking care of the plates in her hands. The two made their way to the table, Jack taking a seat next to Prentiss as JJ put Aaron's plate next to Jack's and hers to Aaron's right. After ensuring Jack was happily digging into his dinner, JJ stood up, her eyes scanning the expansive backyard until they finally rested on Aaron.
And in that moment, Aaron couldn't remember a time when he had agreed with Dave more: he and JJ were perfect for each other. There was no one in the world more perfectly designed for him than the woman in front of him. And there was nothing in the world that compared to her in his eyes. JJ was perfect and Aaron would love her with all his heart and soul for the rest of his life.
He watched, a small smile on his face as JJ made her way over to him, brushing her bangs out of her face. "Hey you. You ready to eat, you seem pretty deep in thought over-"
Aaron met her two steps early, his hands attaching to her waist as he pulled her forward, kissing her mercilessly with all the love he had inside of him. He could feel the instant shock run through JJ's body before she relaxed, giggling to herself as she responded, her arms wrapping around his shoulders. The kiss lasted only a brief moment, but everyone could see the love radiating off their unit chief and media liaison.
Garcia and Prentiss let out a cat call as the two broke away while the guys–with the exception of Reid, who naturally didn't understand what was going on–called out their own encouragement. The team was still amazed every time they saw any public displays of affection between their happy couple, especially when Aaron was the instigator. They were all positively ecstatic for their friends, but it was still strange to see.
Morgan nudged Jack from across the table, a playful smile on his face. "Does that gross you out when your dad and JJ kiss?"
Jack looked intently at the burger in his hands before turning to Morgan, a confused look on his face. "Noooooo? They love each other, isn't that what people do when they love each other?"
Everyone at the table chuckled at Jack's logic, once again amazed at how incredibly insightful such a young boy could be. Dave nodded at Jack. "You're exactly right, Jack."
"Shut it Reid!" The table laughed and continued their meal as Aaron led JJ back to the table, JJ stopping to kiss the top of Reid's and Jack's heads before taking her seat at the table.
Aaron took his seat next to Jack, leaning over to rub Jack's hair as his son devoured his burger, ketchup all over his face. Aaron chuckled, glancing at the blonde beside him as she ate her own burger, laughing at some story being passed around the table. Aaron wasn't sure why he was feeling so exceptionally drawn to JJ, but he couldn't stay away from her. He leaned over and kissed her cheek, keeping his mouth close to her ear.
"I love you."
JJ blushed slightly, leaning back in her chair to give Aaron a quick yet lingering kiss. "I love you too." She gave him a peck on the cheek before giving him a serious but silly look. "Now eat your damn burger."
Aaron chuckled and sat up, finally digging into his own food. As he sat, surrounded by the chaos of his family, his son completely covered in grass stains and food, and his arm resting on the back of the chair of the woman he loved, he realized his life was absolutely perfect.
"The pleasure of love is in loving." Duc De La Rochefoucauld