A/N: So I was watching my Criminal Minds DVDs the other day, and it got me thinking about how much I missed JJ during season 6. Even thought I know that she's coming back, this idea just wouldn't leave me alone- so this story was born. Hope you enjoy- well, as much as you can enjoy a story that's a little depressing!

Warning: Spoilers for 6x02 JJ.

Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds or any of its characters.


JJ had many regrets in leaving the FBI.

The obvious one was the fact that she was leaving at all. She had never expressed it to anyone, not even to herself, but in her heart JJ had known she wanted to spend her entire working life in Quantico, working with the Behavioural Analysis Unit. Now, because of bureaucrats seeking power, that could never happen. JJ hadn't had a choice but to take the job at the Pentagon, but she would always regret leaving.

JJ would regret all the lives she'd never get to save, all the people she'd never get to rescue, and all the criminals she'd never get to stop, because she wasn't a part of the BAU anymore. She'd loved that part of the job, saving lives… it was why she'd joined the Academy in the first place Her new job was important, yes, but it wasn't the BAU. It never would be. Who was going to die, because JJ wasn't there to save them? Which UnSubs would get away, because JJ wasn't there to stop them? Which police officers wouldn't know who to, or refuse, to ask for help, because JJ wasn't there to ask? JJ had been the face of the team, the one that the tired, overworked detectives came to when they ran out of leads. Hotch had told her that he wouldn't fill her position, that she was irreplaceable. So what would happen now? Would another team member step up to fill the void JJ had left? Or would Hotch take on the extra work, staying at the office long into the night and running himself into the ground? The team would suffer, all because some bureaucrat had made a play for her. And that just wasn't fair.

The team. Oh, how JJ would miss the team! They were close; closer than any other team had ever or would ever be. They were a family, and they were being torn apart. JJ didn't want to leave them, and she knew that she would always want to be with them again. She would always miss them. Sure, they would see each other, they would catch up, but then the team would get called away on a case, or JJ's job would get in the way, and their plans would be ruined. They would hardly get to see each other, and things would never be the same. And the team would be hurt by JJ's forced departure. She knew that would happen. It was one of the biggest reasons JJ had tried to turn down the promotion; because she didn't want to pull the team apart.

JJ had known how the team would react to her departure, long before she'd given them the news. Hotch, promising he would figure it out, that he would get her back. She knew that he was blaming himself for not fighting hard enough for her. She knew that he always would. And when Hotch had admitted he'd miss her… it made JJ want to stay even more.

Prentiss, with her dismay at realising JJ was leaving, that she was being forced out. Prentiss wasn't one to usually show emotion; like she had said in the past, she compartmentalised much better than most people. But there had been pure sadness in her face, something JJ had hoped she would never see. And there had also been hopeless, knowing that she and the rest of the team could do nothing to ensure JJ could stay. JJ hated being the one to bring that rare emotion to her friend's face. Prentiss had realised before all of them that it was because JJ was too good at her job, and JJ felt horrible knowing that being the best at what she did meant that she would have to leave her family. How on earth was that fair?

Morgan's shock that Hotch hadn't been able to do anything wasn't a surprise to JJ either. That wasn't his strongest emotion, though. He had been using it to hide the anger he was feeling at JJ being forced out, that somebody could just reach out and take her away from them. JJ didn't blame him, either- she was angry too. Like Morgan, she was angry about how no one seemed to care how her departure would affect the team. How could anyone do this to them? They'd already been through so much- why did someone have to take JJ away too?

Rossi; of course Rossi would be logical. Of course he agreed with Prentiss, saying that the team's monumental loss was someone else's gain. He hadn't used the word monumental, but JJ had known that's what he meant. He wasn't saying it, but he would miss her terribly. And Rossi would never let her say it to him, but JJ would miss him too.

Garcia's determination to be strong and supportive, while JJ had been expecting it, was still amazing. JJ knew that Garcia wanted to break down and cry right then and there, but she didn't. Her fierce declaration that she would never let JJ walk out of her life for good warmed the woman's heart; and as JJ had hugged Garcia, she knew that she would never let the bubbly technical analyst go. Garcia would always, always, be a part of her life, and would always light up JJ's day. Nothing would ever be able to change that.

But Reid… Oh, Reid. JJ hated, hated, hated what this was doing to him. She had never wanted to leave Reid; she knew what that kind of thing did to him. Granted, JJ didn't have a choice, but she was still abandoning Reid like so many had done before her. He was hurting, so much more than the others. JJ knew that Reid wasn't going to blame her, but he would still miss her terribly. That, JJ thought, was worse than Reid blaming her; in that case, he would never have missed her so much. How small and sad Reid had sounded when he had twice whispered, "They just can't take you away," made JJ just want to take him into her arms and hold him there, and never let him go.

JJ had vowed to herself long ago that she would never leave Reid; that she wouldn't hurt him like so many people had done before her. But she had broken that promise, and it was tearing her heart in two.

Yes, JJ had many regrets in leaving the FBI. But her biggest one was breaking her best friend's heart.

I'm thankful for my years spent with this family; for everything we shared, every chance we had to grow. I'll take the best of them with me and lead by their example; wherever I go. A friend told me to be honest with you, so here it goes. This isn't what I want, but I'll take the high road. Maybe it's because I look at everything as a lesson, or because I don't want to walk around angry. Or maybe it's because I finally understand. There are things we don't want to happen, but have to accept. Things we don't want to know, but have to learn, and people we can't live without, but have to let go. ~ Jennifer 'JJ' Jareau


A/N: This episode was so sad- one of two episodes that made me cry (see if you can guess what the other one was :P). And watching it, I thought that Reid was the one hurt the most by JJ's departure, which is why I focused on him the most. I really hope I did the episode justice- shoot me a review and tell me what you think!

Note from Diamond Cobra: "I haven't seen that episode. Is it as sad as it sounds?"