Part I

Fasten the strings, help me spread my wings
Be the music to the song that my heart sings.
Take me and show me the world before my eyes,
Reach into my soul and wipe away the tears it cries.

The hospital was where it started…where everything began.

For everyone else on their team, everything had ended. Prentiss was dead. As soon as she'd walked into the waiting room, Hotch had caught her eye…and then she had delivered the most devastating news to the team. A lie, to protect them from the truth.

She had grabbed Spencer and had held onto him, glancing towards Hotch over the young man's crying shoulder.

Then Hotch had exited the room.

No one thought it odd that Hotch didn't react; that was simply the way they believed him to be. Closed off. Non-emotive.

She saw him look towards her through the small glass panel in the door, and she knew that they needed a moment alone. Carefully extricating herself from the young genius's grasp, she walked over to the doors and exited the waiting room…

…and entered into a whole new world.

A world where a devastating secret had to be kept, and a world where she was forced to watch her team members' hearts break…all for the sake of one woman's safety.

But Hotch had made a promise to a man; that he would do everything in his power to keep Prentiss safe.

And he was a man of his word.

And, out of everyone, he had put his trust in her. He had given her the privilege of being the one person that was allowed inside of his shell and gave her the chance to let her be the strong one as well, and not just the girl in the background.

The secret had brought them closer than she had ever expected to be to the mostly private man.

On the harder cases, she looked to him more often and he returned her gaze every time, understanding written in his eyes.

She wasn't sure if she would have been able to keep herself together all on her own. That was something that she knew without a fact.

It was strange, though, when she thought about it. Hotch could have not told anyone, he could have kept it a secret all by himself...but he had decided to take her into his confidence, and something inside of her chest swelled a little at that thought.

This was something that was important.

And she had the feeling that, in the end, it would bring them closer together. Cement their trust in the other.

And maybe that's what he'd intended.

Actually, it all made a sort of sense now that she thought about it this way. If he had been the only one who knew, than when they had found out he lied, no one would ever trust him again, alienating him and making him an outcast…but still a leader.

What kind of a position would that be? To be a leader that nobody trusted?

By entrusting JJ with this secret, he ensured that someone would be able to bridge the gap of distrust between him and the team…she was someone that everyone trusted.

She was someone that could keep the team from turning their backs on their leader.

At this revelation, she smiled to herself.

She could live with that.

Part 1/?