Hotch tells the team not to be in Thursday morning until 10 a.m. By the time they arrive, they all have an email from Straus demanding a debriefing at 11. They exchange glances, knowing this could get ugly.
As the team goes into the conference room just before 11, they find Straus already there, having used the back door to get in unseen. They see she has a stack of files in front of her. Reid and Morgan help Emily get settled. As soon as the entire team is there, Straus stands.
"Though it goes without saying that the outcome of this case is satisfactory, the path to that conclusion is not. We are going to address all the negative issues in turn." She lifts the top file. "Agent Rossi, how is it you came to be shot?"
He raises an eyebrow. "Because a bad guy had a gun, Erin."
She looks at him with disgust. "Chief Straus, Agent. I'm asking how he got the drop on you and why you were not protected by Agent Morgan."
Rossi lays a hand on Morgan's arm to stop his protest. "Chief Straus, the only way Morgan could have protected me was to throw himself in front of me. I wouldn't want him to do that and we still would have been an agent down if he had. We had no idea the suspect we went to speak with had been tipped off that we were coming. We didn't even know for sure if he was a viable suspect for these crimes. In the field, we don't go in draped in Kevlar, guns drawn just to talk to someone." The last comment is a direct jab at the chief's lack of field experience and she knows it. She makes a note in the file and lays it to the side.
"Agent Hotchner, how did you allow Agent Jareau to be taken hostage?"
Hotch grits his teeth. He felt bad enough about what happened he didn't need Straus making him feel worse. "We were invited into Ms. Williams' house. As we entered, JJ cleared the room to the left. I started to clear the room to the left and was struck with a baseball bat to the head. After that I couldn't exactly stop them from taking her."
"Why didn't you wait for police back up? Were you so eager to be a hero that you were reckless?"
"He wasn't being a hero and he wasn't being reckless," JJ interjects. "The police were 4 minutes behind us. We were just going to question someone. We didn't expect to be attacked the way we were."
"Agent Jareau, I will speak to you soon. For now—"
"No, you'll speak to me now." JJ stands and stares at Straus. "You can come in here and try to second guess our every move. You can worry about image and politics and everything else in this ivory tower. But in the field, ma'am, we have to worry about finding the unsubs, saving lives, and getting home safely at night. To try to lay blame for anything bad that happened means discounting all the good that was done. We stopped these bastards before they could go after more families. We stopped them before they got away with Carmen. And they were stopped before they could get away with me. This team functions as a unit, as a family, and we get the job done. No laws were broken. No local toes were stepped on. We did everything by the book and as a result the leader of this gang of assholes is dead and the little fucks she commanded are going to jail. That's what you should be focused on. Not all the bullshit you want to throw in our faces."
Someone walking into the room might have thought the people inside were mannequins. No one moves as JJ finishes her rant. She and Straus are locked in a stare down. Later there would be a question about whether anyone even breathed during those tense moments. Straus slowly lowers the folder in her hand to the table.
"And do you even know why this happened, Agent Jareau?"
It is clear Straus expects the answer to be no. But JJ and Emily had talked most of the night about the twisted motivations behind the attacks on these families.
"Williams was a foster mother to Gulliver, Jacobs, Smith, Feist and Kruse at different points in their lives. All the men had been put into foster care after their parents were deemed unable to care for all their children. Williams, herself, was the unwanted daughter of a man who only wanted sons. She convinced all the men but Kruse that they should make other families feel as bad they felt. The stealing was to figure out how many kids were in the house. My team found evidence of 17 other break-ins that were committed by this gang in the greater Northern Virginia area. In conclusion, our actions stopped 19 other families from dealing with the terror of having to choose a child to live and having that child taken."
Straus can't hide her surprise. She looks pointedly at Emily, knowing she is the only reason JJ was able to answer the question. Emily stares back emotionlessly. Straus looks in turn at each of the members of the team. She sees the pride in Hotch's face and the smugness in Rossi's. She sees the dedication to JJ in Reid's eyes and the admiration in Morgan's. She gathers her folders.
She walks out of the room. As the door closes behind her, a collective breath is released. JJ drops into her chair, her legs no longer able to hold her up. "Did I really just do that?"
Morgan claps her on the back. "You sure did, Giant Killer. Nice job!"
"She clearly expected to trip you up. She should have known better," Reid points out.
Hotch can't hide his smile. "Get your reports in and take the rest of the day. All of you."
He leaves the room, followed by all but Emily and JJ. Emily reaches over and takes JJ's hand. "How about we take the rest of the week? We can take Henry and go see your parents. That sound good?"
JJ smiles at Emily. "That sounds perfect."
After a quick hug, the two women head out. Emily, concentrating on getting her crutches through the door doesn't see the woman sitting at her desk. JJ, however, does.
"Em? Your desk," she whispers.
Emily looks up and stares at Caroline Weston. "Obviously some people are harder to get rid of than Straus," she mumbles to JJ.
JJ grins and heads to her office, trusting Emily to deal with the persistent redhead. Emily makes her way slowly to her desk. She looks down at Caroline.
"I could really use my chair about now," she says dryly.
"Oh, of course," Caroline says, standing up.
Emily lowers herself into her chair. She pulls out her bottom drawer and props her foot up on it. She sees Morgan and Reid both pretending not to watch what is going on. "Can I help you with anything, Agent Weston?"
"Oh, so it's 'Agent Weston' now, is it?" She leans in close but says loud enough for Reid to hear. "I remember when you only used that when playing seductress."
Emily's face flares red. She glances across her desk at Reid and sees he is also blushing. She looks back up at Caroline, this time the anger evident on her face. "I've tried being nice about this, Weston. Now I'm going to be blunt. Leave me alone. I'm not interested in rekindling anything with you. Is that clear?"
Caroline just smiles wider. "Oh, Emily, I love it when you get forceful. Trust me, sweetheart, you don't just fuck me and forget me. I'll see you later."
She turns and heads out of the BAU offices. Emily holds up her hand, stopping the questions from Morgan and Reid before they start. "She's an ex. It ended badly. Enough said, okay?"
The men both nod, seeing that Emily is extremely uncomfortable with the confrontation that just happened.
"Emily, we've got your back on everything, not just cases. Okay?" Morgan tells her.
She nods, grateful for the statement but preferring to just let the matter drop. What she hadn't seen is Weston skip the elevators and instead head to JJ's office. She knocks on the door and smiles at the blond.
"Hi, Agent Jareau, I'm Caroline Weston. I've just transferred to Anti-Terrorism."
JJ smiles, knowing exactly who the woman is and wondering what game she is playing. "Hi. Welcome to Quantico."
"Thanks. Look, can we talk a minute? Girl to girl?"
JJ is a bit stunned but nods her head. "Uh, sure. I guess."
Caroline walks in and shuts the door. "I just wanted to give you a word of warning about Emily Prentiss. I know you're with her. It's the worst kept secret in the building."
"She was all set to marry me about 5 years ago. Then she was offered a promotion and she dumped me for it. Never even asked my opinion on it or gave me a chance to talk her out of it."
"Well, I appreciate the warning but I think I'll take my chances," JJ tells her. "Now, I really need to finish up my report on our latest case."
"Oh, of course. Well, I guess my warning wasn't needed. Tell Emily I'm happy about her move to the White Collar Crimes Unit. She should have a lot of fun with that."
JJ is too stunned to respond. Caroline uses that time to leave the office. JJ considers all she knows about Emily and shakes her head. "She wouldn't. The BAU is her dream. Isn't it?"
JJ then remembers Emily's mother cautioning Emily to find a safer position now that she has a family to consider. She looks out her door and sees Emily working on her case report. JJ shakes her head and cusses herself.
"Emily wouldn't do it without talking to me. Stop letting a jealous ex screw with your head, Jareau," she chastises herself.
She sends a quick email to Hotch asking if she and Emily can have a comp day on Friday so they can go visit her parents. She is nearly finished with her report when she gets his okay. She smiles. This long weekend is just what they need.
"What's got you all smiley?" JJ looks up to see Garcia standing in her doorway. "Still celebrating your smack down with Straus?"
JJ laughs. "No. We're heading out for a long weekend to see my parents. I'm just looking forward to getting away for a while. Especially with that ex of Emily's lurking around trying to drive a wedge between us."
Garcia stiffens. "A wedge? Between the cutest couple the agency has ever seen?" She leans forward conspiratorially. "Do I need to do a 'thing'? She can be in Fargo by Monday if you give the word."
JJ stands up and moves around her desk to give her friend a hug. "No need to do a thing yet, Garcia. But it's good to know you've got my back if I need you."
"Always," Garcia confirms. Then her eyes widen. "Hey! Are you and your mom going to do wedding stuff?"
JJ shrugs. "Probably a little. But mostly I just want to lay around and do nothing but hang with my fiancé and my son. We're off call this weekend and I want to take full advantage of it."
"Good idea. But you better hurry and start settling on some things. Before you know it the Redskins bye weekend will be here and you'll be scrambling to get things done in time."
"True. Tell you what, if we discuss anything I'll shoot you an email."
"Okay. And I've got so many AWESOME ideas I'll get a PowerPoint presentation together and get it to you so you can see what I'm thinking." She pauses in thought. "Do you think Emily will go for wearing a uniform and the minister being dressed like a ref?"
JJ busts out laughing at the thought. "Uh, no, Garcia, I don't see this being the ultimate football fantasy wedding. Just a little football influence."
"Okay." She starts to leave then turns back. "Cheerleader and football player as cake toppers?"
"Fine, fine. See you later, Jayje. Love you!"
"Love you, too, Garcia."
By 1 p.m. JJ and Emily are ready to go. Emily opens her drawer to slide some case files inside and sees the forgotten gift box. She picks it up and shakes her head. She considers just tossing it in the trash but thinks it may mean something to Caroline. She sticks it on her desk then opens a new email.
Your paperweight is on my desk. If it's still there Monday I'll assume you don't want it and throw it away.
She hits send and immediately turns her computer off, not wanting to deal with a reply. Throwing the shoulder strap for her briefcase over her head she gathers her crutches. She meets JJ at the elevator and they head home to get packed and head out to East Alleghany for the weekend.
A/N: I think after these last couple cases these two need a weekend of fluff. Don't you? Next up a nice, relaxing day in the country…doing wedding planning stuff. Poor Emily. Thanks to everyone for continuing to have fun with my follies. It is very appreciated.