Author's Note: The long ago promised follow-up to Love, Unexpected. Yes, yes, another new one, that's just how I roll :) No, actually I have another story (two of them really) I'm a chapter from wrapping, so I'm in a good place to finally open this one up. It's been sitting in partial drafts for literally, a year.
This will be a SHORT story though, only a couple chapters. Because though I'm intrigued with following JJ and Hotch along in their relationship building and family blending, I have learned a few things over the years on how best to approach a big concept. Do it in littler pieces :) Therefore, though this picks up the same morning we left H/J in Love, Unexpected, we're only transitioning with them for the first couple of weeks. And I already wrote the end! Wa Hooh!
To be clear, this is a Story 2, so you'd want to start with Story 1 (again Love, Unexpected) to see how we ended up here because it is picking right up.
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Prompt Set #26 (January 2011)
Title Challenge: Now What?
Hotch was up in his office anxiously tapping his pen against the edge of his shiny desktop.
The pen was making a clack, clack, clack rhythm that most likely would have been a major irritation to anyone else in the vicinity. But fortunately there wasn't anybody else in the vicinity, so he continued with the somewhat obnoxious stress release activity. It wasn't bothering him . . . and with him in his office with the door firmly locked and the blinds firmly shut . . . it wasn't bothering anyone else either. Though admittedly, pen clacking was the not the activity that he was supposed to be engaging in at that moment. He was supposed to be reviewing Reid's clinical assessment of a serial sex offender out in Montana.
That's what he was supposed to be doing.
What he was actually doing was staring at his cell phone, trying to will it to ring with only the power of his mind.
Thus far he had not yet been successful with that endeavor.
But he just couldn't focus on work. And that's because JJ should have called by now. It had been almost five hours since she'd left his apartment. And based on her own estimation on her arrival time at the office . . . ten thirty at the latest . . . she should have called him at least thirty-five minutes ago to say that she was down the block, and could he come meet to her so that she could tell him what had happened with Will.
But she hadn't done that.
And the more time that passed without her calling, the more concerned Hotch was getting. Because the more time that passed, the more likely it was that conversation with Will had gone even worse than he'd feared that it would. And though he had now LONG surpassed the point where he wanted to just pick up the phone and call JJ directly to find out what had happened, he had to . . . logically . . . presume that the delay in her arrival, was most likely because she and Will were still talking.
Talking, fighting . . . his jaw twitched . . . whatever term he used, he was quite sure that it was a moment that he had no business interrupting. So he was waiting.
The clacking stopped as his fingers clenched tightly around the pen.
The pen went flying across the room.
Shit . . . he closed his eyes as his hands curled into fists . . . okay, maybe he should see if Emily wanted to come upstairs. She could tell him about the new case that he'd assigned her that morning. Of course he could have that conversation with anyone on the team . . . they had ALL received new cases that morning . . . but Emily was the only one that would understand his current mood.
After all she'd been in the apartment when he and JJ had had their epiphany. And she knew that JJ had gone off to have 'the talk' with Will. And it was pretty obvious from the look that she gave him during the meeting . . . a supportive smile followed up by a similarly supportive squeeze of his fingers under the table . . . that she knew he was reaching a stress point in his worry about how that talk had gone.
Emily had somehow always been able to read his mind.
And just as he was about to pick up the phone to ask his best friend to come save his sanity, the cell finally started to ring.
He snatched it up, his eyes widening as he saw the caller ID.
JJ! Thank Christ!
"Hey," he answered softly, trying to keep his outward level of concern to a rational level, "are you all right? Where are you?"
The fingers on his free hand had curled back into a fist.
"Um," JJ sniffled as she looked through her wet windshield at the busy parking lot, "at the Dunkin over on Maple and Turner. Could you uh . . ." her voice cracked, "that is . . ."
Before she could get the question all the way out . . . she wasn't sure if she could GET the question all the way out, she wasn't used to leaning on him this way . . . Hotch had cut in.
"I'm on my way."
Hotch stood up with his phone still pressed to his ear, "stay right where you are," he ordered softly while simultaneously yanking on his grey suit jacket and heading towards the door, "I'll be there in a few minutes, okay?"
"Okay," JJ sniffled again, "I'll be here."
Their relationship was only hours old, so it felt a little strange being so emotionally open with him. She'd spent so many years with him trying to appear outwardly strong and put together. But on the other hand . . . her eyes started watering again as the phone began to buzz in her ear . . . it was Hotch.
And Hotch always made everything okay.
So JJ sat there, crying pathetically into her crumpled tissue as the lightly tapping rain slowly morphed to a faintly visible mist. And then suddenly she heard a sharp rap on the glass.
She jumped as her head snapped back.
Her mouth curved slightly as her finger pressed down on the lock. And a second later . . . little more than ten minutes after she'd called him, though it was at least a seven minute drive not counting him getting out of the building . . . she found herself being tugged out of the car, and up into Hotch's arms.
It was just what she needed.
"How did you get here so fast?" She sniffled against his throat as her arms tentatively slid under his jacket and around his waist.
Being this familiar with his body . . . touching him like this . . . was another thing that she needed to get used to. Thank God though that she'd thought to park in the back of the lot behind the coffee shop. If they'd been in the front anybody could have seen them from the main street.
Not that she cared all that much. But it would be nice if her personal breakdown didn't completely fuck up their career tracks.
"You were crying," Hotch whispered back while pressing a kiss to her temple.
And when he stopped there . . . and JJ realized that was the full and complete answer to her question . . . she wiped her hand across her face as she leaned back to look him in the eyes.
He broke the speed of sound because she was crying.
A burst of joy filled her heart . . . he really did love her! It wasn't that she hadn't believed him earlier, but words weren't the same as actions. And this was such a simple action.
But it meant so much.
So she reached up to touch his cheek . . . it was followed a second later by a kiss to his lips. This one . . . their second . . . was not nearly so chaste as the one that morning in his apartment. This time there was full body contact, and tongues, and she got a much better taste of him.
She had to bite back a moan as he explored her mouth. And then that mixture of his Hotchness and his black coffee and then the wintergreen Altoids that she knew he popped ten times a day, became hers.
He, became hers.
And when she began to finally pull away . . . and he chased after her for one final kiss . . . the waves of sadness that had been overwhelming her for the last few hours, had finally subsided.
Of course she was still sad over what happened with Will . . . she would probably always be sad about how things had ended, how much she had hurt him . . . but she'd needed this reminder that she wasn't just walking away from one good man.
She was walking towards another. One that would break the speed of sound to reach her, just because she was crying alone in a parking lot.
And then Hotch murmured against her lips.
"How bad was it?"
And JJ's eyes fell shut for a moment.
"Very," she whispered right before she kissed him again and then dropped her head back to his chest, "so very bad," she sniffed as she wiped the remaining tears from her face, "I thought, well, it's stupid, but somehow before I got there, in the car, I was thinking, maybe he's been expecting this. Maybe he even feels the same way, you know that I'm not," her voice started to thicken, "the great love of his life either. I mean," she cleared over the lump, "I knew that he loved me, and he had seemed happy, but maybe he'd been secretly wondering if there was somebody else out there for him too. Somebody," her voice faded, "better."
She was quiet for a moment, just feeling the mist settling over them as Hotch held her to his chest. He had one hand on her hip. Finally she tipped her head back.
"He did deserve better," she continued softly as her eyes started to burn again, "because I ripped his heart out Hotch. He didn't see this coming. He didn't see it at all. There was this look on his face when I started talking, it was like," her eyes fell shut for a moment, "like he didn't understand the words that I was saying. Like I was speaking some foreign language that he'd never heard before. But then," her teeth sunk into her lip as she pictured the moment again, "I could see it, the moment that he realized what was happening, that I was leaving him, and there was so much hurt and pain that he actually winced. And right then I wanted so badly to take it back."
Hotch's question startled her, but hearing the worry in his voice, JJ's eyes immediately snapped open. And when she looked up and saw the fear on his face . . . and flashing again on that morning and how difficult it had been for him to tell her how he felt . . . she vehemently shook her head.
"No," she reached up to cup his jaw, "no, I didn't take it back. I want to be with you. That's not going to change."
Yeah, that would be a great thing to do. Tear Will's heart out, then get cold feet about leaving, and change her mind so that she could come here and do the same thing to Hotch that she'd just done to her former fiancé.
Bitch wouldn't even begin cover it.
"Okay," Hotch tried to hide his sigh of relief at JJ's answer, "as long as you're sure. I don't, well," his gaze slipped away from hers for a moment, "I just don't want to cause you any confusion." His eyes snapped back, "if you need more time to decide what . . . who, you really want, I'll understand."
It would kill him to let her go now that he actually had her, but if she was still conflicted, it was better to wait until she was sure than drag their children into a relationship with a question mark on it.
That would hurt everyone.
JJ again shook her head.
"I don't need any time, my decision is made." Then she gave him a watery smile, "I made it before I got to your apartment this morning. I made it before I was even sure how you felt, because I knew how I felt. So please don't worry about that anymore. I know that things are changing quickly, but you're not pressuring me, or confusing me." Her hand slid down to tangle her fingers with his.
Both of their hands were clammy from the weather.
She squeezed them together.
"Having you is making it easier. You make me happy, okay?"
Hotch's eyes crinkled slightly.
"Okay." He whispered back as he brushed her hair behind her ear. Then his gaze shifted up to the darkening sky.
The rain was about to start falling in earnest again.
"I think," he shifted JJ slightly so that he could slip his arm around her shoulders, "that we're about to get soaked. "So," he started walking them across the parking lot, "we should get inside, and I'll order us some coffee," he paused for a car to cut in front of them, "and you can wash your face, and we can sit in the back and you can tell me the rest of it."
Though they had work . . . and they had to get back to it eventually . . . it could wait for now. Getting their relationship . . . life . . . on track, was more important. And a few seconds later, as they stepped under the overhang and the rain began to splatter on the cars again, JJ looked up at him with a sad smile.
"Would you please buy me a donut while I wash my face? I need some chocolate."
His eyes crinkled slightly.
"Of course sweetheart," he murmured back while kissing her forehead, "whatever you want."
And then he opened the door, and as he heard the bell jangle an announcement of their entrance, his lips twitched.
A little over the top on the symbolism, but . . . he guided JJ over the threshold . . . he'd take it.
A/N 2: So yeah, the reason I'm going to be very careful to keep these stories very self-contained, is because I see a lot of potential in the drama of not only the JJ/Will, JJ/Hotch situations, breakups plus getting into a new relationship, plus family blending) but also there's the other side with Hotch's relationship with Emily. And as things move forward, the adjustment of Emily's best friend having another woman in his life. And clearly those are all tangled little messy life webs and attempting to address everything in one story would be well, one big ass story! So I figure this first little one it's going to be mainly focused on JJ transitioning out of one relationship and into another. And then later I'd like to do one circling around Hotch balancing JJ and Emily's different roles in his life. Beyond that, I have a few ideas :)
Hope you liked it! Though there is a touch of the angst, it is obviously, in tone, overall more hopeful than how story 1 had started out.
I do have at least one other update for tonight.
Thanks for the feedback! And please not the announcement about the new website :)