Author's Note: I am really sorry for the delay everyone. I've been super busy and on hiatus. I still can't promise quick chapters as I'm not even really sure where I'm going with this story. *le sigh* But I do hope this chapter is decent enough, considering I have been having writer's block.
"I don't like this," Hotch whispered following JJ up the stairs, each stair creaking with every step.
"We haven't even seen inside yet, we can't judge the apartment based on the neighbourhood," JJ insisted, trying not to look at the cockroach running down along the wall. This is disgusting. Why is it so hard to find a decent place? And why can't I just say with Hotch? Why do I feel the need to move out? Because I'm scared? Is that really it? I don't want to move too fast? But what if Garcia and Emily are right and we are going backwards? Is that a bad sign in a relationship?
Without realizing it, Hotch had stopped on the stairs. He was so busy listening to her that he forgot he should be moving. In an effort to catch up, he stepped on the roach resulting in a disgusting crunching sound that froze JJ in her tracks.
"Okay, I'm out of here," she said, not feeling very brave any more. The next place has to be better, right?
"I agree," Aaron said, lifting his shoe up to inspect it.
"I can't believe you didn't try and talk her out of it," Dave said in a huff.
Hotch looked out the window, to watch carefully for JJ whom had run into the store. "Every time I brought it up, her thoughts were... kind of not happy. I didn't want to push it."
"You hardly tried," Dave complained. "I thought we were going-"
"Forward," Aaron finished for him. "I know, you've mentioned this several times."
"Sorry to sound like a broken record, Aaron, but you know I'm right."
"I know, look, I have to go, I can see her coming, bye." And without waiting for a response, Hotch hung up.
"Who was on the phone?" JJ asked, poking her head through the window. And why did he hang up so quickly? JJ, don't even start going there. You know Hotch. He's not like Will.
"Dave." Hotch would never admit it but her thoughts made him very uncomfortable. Did she not trust him? Who did she think he was talking to? What had gotten into her?
"Ah," she said with a smile now opening the door. She handed him a bottle of coke before slipping into her seat. Dave... I bet they were talking about me! Guys do that. Maybe that's why he hung up so quick.
Nodding his thanks, Hotch asked, "where to?"
"Goodyear road," JJ said, wrinkling her nose. Oh please, let this be better than the last three places.
"Goodyear road," Aaron repeated, feeling a bit guilty. He partly hoped she didn't like it so she'd just stay with him a bit longer... Maybe change her mind completely. But in the end, he just wanted her to be happy.
"That one wasn't so bad," JJ said as she winced slightly. Besides the old man changing in the window and waving at me. That was a little creepy.
"If only you knew what he was thinking," Hotch said, feeling his jaw twitch uncomfortably.
"Well, you don't know either," JJ pointed out. But he did give me the creeps.
"I am a profiler and I had an educated guess," Aaron lied, looking over at her. The man's thoughts had nearly made him kick down his door.
"Well besides him," JJ trailed off. And the smell...
"There were the rats, the stains and the lock on the door that didn't work. Absolutely not. You're thinking of Henry, too."
That was all he needed to say, JJ let the matter drop at once and picked up her pad. "Beachfront road." Why is it called Beachfront? It's nowhere near the beach!
Nearly laughing, Aaron caught himself before glancing at his GPS. "I really hope there's something positive about this next place we're going to."
"Me too," JJ said. I think at least. Why does a part of me not want it to be the perfect place?
"Well, the whole day was a bust," JJ said with a sigh, taking a seat at the booth. "Six different places and more than half of them had some sort of need for an exterminator." At least we got to spend the day together. JJ glanced around briefly to take in their surroundings. The place wasn't fancy but it was nice. Her eyes glanced at the red and white chequered cloth and she grinned. It was quiet and they were together. That was what mattered.
"At least we got to spend the day together," Hotch pointed out sneakily.
And it worked. Seconds later a huge smile replaced her frown. "You're right," she said happily. I was just thinking that!
Hotch passed JJ a menu before sitting down beside her. "I am always right."
"I wouldn't go that far," JJ said teasingly as she poked him in the side. But you are always attractive.
"Fine, but I'm always attractive," Hotch said as he puffed out his chest slightly.
How does he do that? He always says what I'm thinking. It makes us so... perfect together. "Fine, you're right there." JJ stuck out her lip in a pout as she admitted defeat.
"Back to the I'm always right? Are you seeing it yet?"
"Don't push it," JJ said softly after she'd finished laughing.
"Who, me?" Hotch asked in an effort to sound innocent.
"Yes you." Salad? Oh screw that. I'm having a burger.
"I bet you are." JJ gave him a playful smile as she closed her menu.
"I am," he insisted leaning to meet her lips.
The dinner had been relatively uneventful, though way too filling. JJ had her head leaned against the window and closed her eyes, trying not to take in the moving buildings or even the lines. She was barely aware of how far away they were from home, though she opened one eye to take a quick peek.
"I'm going to be sick. Why did you let me eat that much?" she moaned. I need to learn to say no to dessert. But cheesecake? Who... Who can honestly say no to that? Besides Hotch. She sent Hotch a small glare. He'd said no. How did he do that?
"I didn't let you," Hotch said with a sigh. "But you know what sounds good? Let's stop for a nice greasy cheeseburg-"
"OH, I hate you!" JJ whined while squeezing her eyes shut again. Oh gross. I just want to get home and lie in bed and sleep and forget this ever happened. That sounds good. Tomorrow's a new day... A new day I won't be wanting to throw up a delicious dinner.
"But you love me," Aaron offered helpfully. "Even if I do talk about going out for ice cream, or some nice french fires or perhaps some chilli."
"Keep going mister, and see where that gets you," she warned. She had to groan as they hit a bump when Aaron moved the car over to allow a fire truck to pass. Please don't let me be sick.
"We'll be home soon," Hotch said lightly.
"Well to my place, which has become your place and you are of course welcome there, so yes home," Hotch said defensively.
"I didn't say anything," JJ murmured softly. But that's very sweet of you. You have no idea how adorable you are when you get nervous about something. It doesn't happen often but when it does..
"Of course you didn't," Hotch said awkwardly, now stopping to allow a couple teens to cross the road.
She raised her eyebrows at him before leaning back on her seat. "Wake me up when we're there. Or better yet, just carry me inside."
Every few seconds, Aaron would shift his gaze to check on her. She looked so peaceful. But he knew she was awake. She was just in deep thought.
When he pulled onto their street, he froze. "JJ," he said breathlessly.
"What?" she muttered, "I was half serious when I said just carry me inside you know."
"JJ," he repeated.
This time, she sat up due to his tone of voice having alerted her. And immediately she felt the tug on her heart, the way it froze... The way everything froze and when she looked at Hotch and saw the identical fear on his face, her eyes welled up.
From the bottom of the street, they could already see the flames coming from Hotch's house, where both Jack and Henry were with Garcia.
Thank you so much for reading! Would you believe it that the first time I wrote this chapter I had JJ and Hotch get into an argument?
Then I looked back on it and realized it just... didn't flow so I re-wrote it. I had no idea there would be a fire until the last couple sentences to be honest.
Any ways, if you'd be so kind, please leave a review? I love hearing feedback or even tips on how to improve. Or even ideas for the story!