A/N: This is a VERY different story than my others. Part case file, but mostly an emotional journey for JJ. Even Emily is a sort of side character to this one. It was an emotional one for me to write and I hope I did justice to a part of JJ's life that comes to light in episode 5x13.
Just like he said he would, once Morgan and Emily were back to 100% Hotch takes a week's vacation, taking Jack to Disney World. And, yes, Emily's Mom was able to get them VIP passes so it was sure to be a trip the Hotchner's will remember forever.
On Friday of that week, Morgan is sitting at Hotch's desk to go over some new tactics being promoted by the entry teams. So far he likes them and may suggest trying some out in Hogan's Alley when Hotch returns. He looks up as a shadow falls across the desk.
"Garcia? You okay?"
The analyst is pale and slightly shaky. Morgan jumps up and helps her into a seat.
"Talk to me, Penelope. What's wrong?"
"I just…got a case emailed to me…you know, I'm starting to filter them with JJ's help to prepare to take them over when her job changes at the end of the month." She hands a piece of paper to Morgan. "This…this has to be a hoax, right?"
Morgan looks away from his friend to the paper. He reads it over, his body tensing. He looks at her. "What else did he send?"
She holds up a flash drive. "It's all on here. Morgan…if it's true…how do we…"
He takes her hand. "Let's take this one step at a time, Garcia. I'll get Reid and Rossi to look into this. They may need your help. For now, we say nothing to JJ or Emily."
She nods. "Right. Of course."
He takes the information and heads to Rossi's office. He looks down into the bullpen. "Reid, can I see you up here, please?"
Reid nods and follows him to Rossi's office. Once Reid is inside, Morgan shuts the door.
"Garcia is now filtering the cases for us. She'll be taking that job over when JJ moves to profiler."
Rossi nods. "We know. She's a little worried about it. It's good she's had a couple months to work with JJ on it."
"Yeah, but she got this in today. I need you two to look into it and you need to make sure neither JJ nor Emily hear about it."
Reid frowns. "Why not?"
Morgan sighs. "Police in Pittsburgh were surprised when a man named Daniel Thedoroski walked in and confessed to killing 37 women over the last 30 years. He had a list. Some of the victims are listed as missing, presumed dead, some are open murders, and two…two were listed as suicides."
"Oh, my God," Reid mutters, seeing where Morgan is going.
Rossi frowns. "What am I missing?"
Morgan looks at him. "JJ's sister Amy is on his list."
The silence is as thick as a wool blanket, and just as stifling. Rossi is the first to speak.
"He could be full of shit. Just a wanna-be serial killer. He could have combed through old newspapers and police reports to get the names on that list."
"I know. And that's why I want you two to go to Pittsburgh to interview this guy, check out his house, his storage units, any place that could tell us if he's for real or not."
"Why exactly did he confess?" Rossi asks.
"He supposedly found God and is now confessing his sins so he can be baptized," Morgan says doubtfully.
Rossi grunts. "A sociopath finding God? Next you'll tell me Charles Manson is becoming a priest."
Morgan manages a grin. "Right. Look, head on out now. If you need us to come…well…we'll deal with that when the time comes."
"Morgan, if that happens, let me tell JJ," Reid requests. "She and I have talked a lot about Amy. I owe it to her."
Morgan nods. "Okay." He looks down at the list of names again. "God, I hope this guy is just a crackpot. I have no desire to scrape open the scars her entire family must have on their hearts over Amy's death."
"Me neither," Rossi says. "But, Morgan, we'll need to talk to family members of the alleged victims."
Morgan looks him in the eyes. "There are 37 names on this list. Worry about the 36 we don't know. Somewhere along the line you'll know if it's worth talking to JJ's family."
Rossi nods. Reid follows Morgan out and grabs his go bag. Emily looks up at him.
"Where you going?"
Reid busies himself with packing his satchel. "Rossi and I have a consult in Pittsburgh."
Emily grins. "Cool. If you need a home cooked meal give Jen's parents a call."
Reid forces a smile to his face. "Yeah. Sure."
Emily stares at him. "Reid? What's wrong?"
Reid sighs. "Just…an ugly case. Not sure we'll be up for socializing." He looks at her. "We may need the team to meet us up there. I'll be in touch."
Emily nods. "Okay. You sure you're okay?"
He shrugs. "Sometimes…sometimes it's just too ugly."
She leans towards him. "If you need to talk, to avoid…temptation, call me, Spence. Day or night."
He smiles at her. "I know, Emily. I will. Promise. Thank you. Take care of Rocky."
Emily grins. "I will. Promise."
Rossi and Reid meet up at the elevator. They see JJ pass on her way into the bullpen. Both men hope the smile on her face will have no reason to disappear.
JJ hitches a hip up onto Emily's desk. "So, Declan's playoff game is today. You going to be out of paperwork hell in time to go?"
Emily smiles. "Wouldn't miss it for the world. What case are Rossi and Reid heading out on?"
JJ shrugs. "No clue. Pen's pretty much handling all that right now. She just comes to me if she's stuck."
Emily nods. "Oh. Well, whatever it is, it had Reid a bit shaky." She leans closer. "Told him to call me any time, day or night."
JJ nods and pats her wife's shoulder. "Understood. So, want to see if Pen wants to come to the game tonight?"
Emily smiles and nods. "Sure. I think most of the kids get a kick out of her."
JJ chuckles. "No kidding! She has her own little cheering section. I'll head down to her lair and ask her."
Emily nods. "Okay. You have fun down there; I'll continue writing a letter to a cop who thinks he has a serial dog stealer."
JJ raises an eyebrow. "Seriously?"
Emily grins and nods. "Oh, yeah. Sure you want to join in the fun of profiling?"
JJ smiles excitedly. "Can't wait." She glances around the bullpen. "Em, do you think Hotch is going to let me move down here?"
Emily frowns. "You don't want to stay in your office?"
JJ shakes her head. "No. Down here you all bounce ideas off each other, help each other out, and act as stress relief for each other. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need that as I really get into profiling cases, not just scanning them like I've always done."
Emily nods. "Yeah, it would be helpful for you. I'm sure Hotch wouldn't mind. You know, Derek is shouldering extra responsibility for Hotch since Hailey died. Maybe he could use your office."
JJ grins. "Think you can handle your partner in crime being so far away."
Emily chuckles. "I think so. I'll be able to…what does Derek call it…oh, yeah. I'll be able to give you goo-goo eyes all day."
JJ laughs and stands. "Yeah, right, Prentiss. Dream on." She pats her wife on the shoulder. "I'm going to see Pen. I'll let you know what she wants to do. Tell Rocky to be a good girl."
Emily rubs her stomach. "She always is…unless she's craving anchovies."
JJ just shakes her head and leaves to go see her best friend. She taps on the open door as she walks in.
"Hey, Pen, what's up?"
Garcia spins around in fear. "Why? What have you heard? Do they know yet? No, wait, they couldn't because they just left. They aren't even out of Virginia yet let alone to…wait…what was the question?"
JJ stares at the frazzled analyst. She steps back to the door and closes it.
"Penelope, what's wrong?"
Garcia stares at her best friend. She doesn't want to lie to her but how can she not? JJ doesn't need her profiling credentials to see the war being waged behind Garcia's glasses. She steps forward.
"Pen, you're starting to scare me. What the hell is—HOLY FUCK! What the HELL, Garcia!" JJ asks furiously, staring beyond the analyst.