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Special thanks to Bones Bird for her prompts of purple flowers, candlelit meal and a declaration of love.
JJ sighed as she reached her apartment door. It had been a long week; the kind of week where she questioned whether coming back to the BAU had been the right decision for her and for Henry. There were no winners in the case as the unsub turned out to be a mother in a psychotic break after the deaths of her three young children. It ended with the deaths of her and her husband, leaving behind their two older children. On top of that, Henry had called her repeatedly each day, crying because he wanted her to come home. He had always been a Momma's boy, but since Will's move to Seattle, he had been especially clingy. JJ wanted nothing more than to wrap her arms around him when she walked through that door, but he was spending the night at Garcia's since the plane hadn't landed until after his bedtime. No, her hug would just have to wait until tomorrow morning.
Also weighing heavily on her mind was the almost aloof nature of Hotch the entire week. They had grown closer since Will left, often teaming up with the boys on evenings and weekends. She and Henry were beginning to feel as much at home at Hotch's house as they were at their own apartment. She was fairly certain that the feelings were the same on Hotch and Jack's end based on the number of Jack's toys that occupied her living room currently and the adult male socks that ended up in her laundry. That all seemed to change after last Sunday and she wasn't sure why. It had seemed like a normal night. They made dinner together as always and ate dessert in front of the television with a movie of the boys' choice. She had hugged Jack and Hotch as always. JJ did notice an odd look on Hotch's face as he handed Henry to her, but he assured her nothing was wrong.
JJ sighed again, unlocking her front door. She wasn't going to get anywhere with that line of thinking, not tonight anyway. The only thing she wanted to do now was take a shot of whiskey and crash in her bed until morning. JJ froze just inside the door seeing the flickering lights of candles from the dining room and the smell of tomato sauce from the kitchen. She was just about to go for her gun when she heard a familiar voice call out her name.
"Hotch?" she asked, peering into the darkened hallway.
Hotch emerged from the dining room, holding a single purple rose. He frowned at her startled look. "I'm sorry for scaring you. I wanted to surprise you so I let myself in with the key you gave me."
JJ put her bags down on the floor and walked slowly towards him. "What kind of surprise?"
"I made you dinner," he replied, handing her the rose.
"Why?" she asked, softly. Her blue eyes danced over the table. She could see Chicken Parmesan on her grandma's good china as well as salads and red wine. In the center of the table was a vase filled with the same purple roses as the one in her hand. It was clear that he had gone to a lot of trouble. She just didn't understand why.
Hotch shifted uncomfortably. "I have something that I'd like to talk to you about." He faltered under her scrutiny. "Why don't we eat first?"
JJ nodded and let him pull out her chair. She sniffed her rose before setting it in front of her plate. She waited to begin eating to see if he would speak, but Hotch merely tipped his fork at her before taking a bit. Slightly disappointed, she took a bite of the chicken herself, rolling her eyes at the burst of delicious flavor.
"This is amazing!" JJ cooed. "Where did you get it from?"
She watched curiously as his cheeks turned red. He cleared his throat. "It's from a little Italian place near my house. Jack and I go there at least once a week. It's run by this wonderful couple that have been married for almost sixty years. Mrs. Bianchi has taken to Jack and Jack to her."
"It's hard not to be taken with Jack," JJ told him, wistfully.
"The same goes with Henry," Hotch added. He ducked his head. "He gets that from his mother."
JJ felt her own cheeks heat up and a flutter in her stomach. They fell into silence for the rest of the meal. JJ took the time to study him as he cleared the table. There was a tenseness in his shoulders that she hadn't seen in a long time. His eyes darted back and forth, nervously, and he never quite met her gaze. She felt herself growing more anxious with each minute.
"Do you mind if we go to the living room?" Hotch asked, shaking her from her surveillance. JJ nodded, rising from her seat. Hotch filled both of their wine glasses and followed her. He sat just outside of touching range with her on the couch.
"Whatever it is, Hotch, just spit it out," JJ said after a few minutes of silence. She was nervously playing with the stem of her glass.
Hotch took a deep breath. He placed both of their wine glasses on the coffee table and grabbed her hands. "JJ, we've been spending a lot of time together lately. You've become my best friend, the person I most share things with, the person that I depend on above everyone else. I can't imagine my life without you in it."
JJ nodded, fighting the disappointment that rose up in her when he called her his "best friend." She hadn't realized just how much she wanted to be more to him until she heard the words from his mouth. Suddenly, she wished for a phone call pulling them back onto another case, anything to not hear about how good of a friend she had become to him.
"Jack adores you," Hotch continued. "It's not hard to see why. You're amazing with him. You're always singing and dancing with the boys. They never leave a room without a hug. He insists on calling you every night that we're not with you and Henry. He wants your approval, your praise, your pride, for everything. He even asked if you could be his mom."
JJ gasped, pulling out of his hands. "I'm sorry, Hotch. I never meant to overstep my bounds with Jack. I'll have a talk with him and Henry and I will stop hanging out with you guys so much. I don't want to confuse him. I'll explain to him that we're just really good friends and I'm more like an aunt-"
"JJ!" Hotch shouted to stop her from speaking. "I don't want you to stop hanging out with us. I don't want you to explain anything to Jack."
"I don't understand."
Hotch cradled her face in his hands. "I love you."
All of JJ froze except for her eyelids, which blinked rapidly. "You what?"
"I love you," he repeated. "I'm in love with you. I don't want you to explain anything to Jack because I'm hoping that you become a mother to him; just like I want to be a father to Henry."
"What brought this on?" JJ whispered. "You've been so distant lately."
"I'm sorry. I was trying to come to terms with it. The last time we were all together, Henry asked me if we could all live together forever. It just clicked in my head that that is what I want more than anything in the world. I want you. I want to watch our children grow up together. I want to grow old with you. I want your face to be the last one I see at night and the first one in the morning." He searched her eyes for any clue as to how she was feeling, but found only confusion there. His face fell. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I guess I misread-"
JJ launched herself at him, cutting off his apology by covering his lips with her own. She straddled his knees, wrapping her arms around his neck. Hotch scrambled to put his arms around her waist to keep her anchored to him. She pulled away only when she could no longer breathe. Her lips were swollen and her chest heaved.
She looked at him, her eyes full of lust. "I love you, too."
Hotch reached up and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. "Would you like to go out on a date with me tomorrow?"
JJ paused, biting her bottom lip. "I'd rather you just stay for breakfast."