I had hoped to write an Easter story, but a couple of my co-workers had emergencies, and I had to fill in for them. So, it's a little late. When I heard this song on the radio the other day, I thought immediately of Hotch and JJ. Usually, he's the one being pursued, but what if the shoe was on the other foot and he had to cheer up JJ? And in the process, he mends her broken heart with the one thing that can make it all better: Love.
Song prompt: "Take This Love" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '86
Take This Love
Aaron Hotchner pulled up along the curb to JJ's house, and put the engine in Park. Glancing out the passenger window, he checked to see if her lights were on. They were. At least that would make his job easier. He just wondered if he was over doing it in the delivery department. He brushed imaginary lint off his white bunny outfit.
Yes, he should have gone home to change, but maybe this would help break down her defenses. They had always been close, but since her divorce, she had built a wall around herself that prevented anyone – including him – from getting near.
Tonight, that was going to change.
Turning the engine off, he grabbed the brown paper shopping bag, then hit the alarm system to lock the car.
His steps were measured as he walked up the narrow path to the quaint porch. He pressed the doorbell, looked around. It needed paint, but overall it was nice with big windows covered with lace curtains. It was understated and pleasant…like her.
Hotch looked at his watch and rang the bell again.
"Hold on," JJ called from inside. "I'm coming!"
Hotch could hear the locks being turned, then the snap of the chain as she pulled the door open. Her face was flush. Immediately, he was concerned. Had she been crying?
It took a moment for her to realize there was a six foot tall white rabbit at her door.
"Trick or treat," he held up the bag for her to see.
The smile didn't reach her eyes. "Trick or treat is for Halloween," she corrected. "This is Easter."
Hotch grasped at the moment. She hadn't shut him out, so there was still a chance. "Well, according to Jack 'Tricks are for kids', and Easter Bunnies are about bringing treats… So, I guess the statement could be used," he presented his counter-argument.
She sighed. "Okay. You win."
"May I come inside?" he asked. "It's a little cold out here."
"Sure." She unlocked the double bolt on the screen door and stepped aside. Once he was in, she bolted the door shut and set the alarm.
Hotch looked around the average sized living room. Toy trucks and cars were scattered across the carpet, while magazines and colouring books and crayons covered the coffee table. On the couch cushion sat a pint of ice cream, a spoon stood straight up.
"Did I interrupt anything?" he nodded toward the dessert.
JJ grabbed the container. "Just a one person pity party." She replaced the lid, licked the spoon clean.
"I didn't mean to interrupt. You can finish it," he offered.
She shrugged indifferently. "Nah. I'll wait." She disappeared into the kitchen, then returned to stand in front of her BAU leader. She eyed the bag in his hand. "So, what's in the bag?"
"How ironic that the Easter Bunny is bringing me gifts," she retorted.
"Well, I don't know if it can top Rum Raisin," he quipped and pulled a long yellow package out, "but I think you'll like these."
JJ took the item. "Peeps. Nice." She tried to sound happy, but failed.
"And then there is this," he pulled out the large item topped with a red bow.
A smile tugged at her mouth. "A chocolate bunny. He's almost too pretty to eat."
"He has blue eyes like yours," Hotch replied without thinking. Feeling her eyes on him, he pulled another treat out. "This is for you and Jack – though I saw what you did with the bag in Garcia's office..."
"Two kinds of jelly beans." She set the chocolate bunny and marshmallow treats on the table. She was tempted to open the bags and start snacking. "Anything else?" Despite her broken heart, he was making her smile.
"There are two more things, but for now I'll give you this." Hotch reached deep into the bag and pulled out two all in one planter kits. "I didn't know if you like lilies or tulips, so I bought both."
"That was thoughtful," she observed. "Most people would give roses."
"I'm not most people," he pointed out. His brown eyes twinkled with humour.
"You're standing in my messy living room dressed in a bunny suit," she said with light sarcasm. "I figured you were not 'most people' on my own."
An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Nervously, JJ tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She wanted him to leave, but the lonely part of her wanted him to stay.
She waved a hand toward the uncluttered chair. "Have a seat?" she offered.
"Don't mind if I do," he accepted and sat down on the couch. Picking up his feet, he set them on the coffee table with a dull thud. He patted the cushion. "Come here."
Her eyes darted from Hotch to the chair he had declined. "I-"
"Come. Sit down. I won't bite…unless you're made out of carrots," he teased.
"Cute." She sat down, but made sure there was enough space between them. "Aaron Hotchner has a sense of humour," she observed with faint wit. "Is that a side effect of too much sugar?"
"No sugar…" He scanned her from head to toe. "…yet."
"Okay." She looked at her hands and tried to change the subject. Fast! "What brings you here?"
"I was worried about you."
"Is that worried as my BAU leader worried?"
"No," his voice was soft. "It's worried as a friend."
She turned her head to look at him. "Hotch…"
"You weren't at the FBI Easter Egg Hunt. I thought you were going to show up."
"I changed my mind." She didn't want to explain that her heart wasn't in seeing other kids hunting for eggs and candy. She didn't want to confess that it would have killed her to see other mothers with their sons.
"You promised Jack," he reminded her.
"I did," she agreed. "I will make it up to him. I'll take him to lunch when Henry gets back. Explain to him, please."
"I want you to explain to me."
She closed her eyes and sighed. "I hate profilers."
"You're a profiler."
JJ brushed a tear away with the tip of her finger. "I didn't go because…Henry wasn't going to be there." She waited for his reply, then continued when he stayed silent. "Will didn't want to take him to the party. I didn't feel the need to go and see everyone…happy."
"I understand. When Haley took Jack, I sort of shut myself up and out. She didn't want him to be around the thing that broke up our marriage," Hotch confessed. "It was easier to hide in my apartment or under mounds of paperwork than to face my broken heart."
She was shocked by his confession. "I didn't know. You always seemed to take it in stride."
"I have never been accused of wearing my heart on my sleeve," he replied tongue in cheek. That made her smile. "Divorce is never easy, Jen. But you will move on." He left that statement to hang in the air before continuing, ""You could have come to the party. We missed you."
"I'm surprised the rest of the team didn't come over and check on me."
"They were concerned, but as the fearless leader, it was my place to check on you."
"Thanks. As you can see, I'm fine."
"Yes you are."
"So, where is Jack?" she volley back.
"Jessica took him to visit her parents."
"You didn't go?"
His smile was wry. "I'm still persona non grata. It's easier to let him have time without me drudging up old memories and bitterness."
JJ covered his hand with hers and gave it a comforting squeeze. "I'm sorry."
"When it comes to children, you learn to pick and choose you battles," he sighed.
"It doesn't make the hurt go away."
"No." He shook his head. "No, it doesn't." He entwined his fingers with hers. "But I can tell you that the pain will ease...in time. Trust me."
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him that her heart would never stop hurting when her baby had to leave. She wanted to tell him that it was different for mothers. But her words stopped before they could make it to her lips. Her hand tingled from his touch. And a weird heat was slowly traveling thru her body. She tried to control her breathing to help slow her rapidly beating heart.
"So, how was the party?" she inquired.
"Good. Only a handful of children threw tantrums," he said.
"Sounds like a great day."
"Oh?" She tried to concentrate on anything but the way his thumb was making circles on her skin. "Better than mine."
"No," he conceded, "not better. Just noisier. When will Henry be back?"
"Because he had to work on Good Friday, Will's taking Monday off for his three day weekend. So, Henry will be home Monday night." Her eyes were drawn to Hotch's mouth.
"You're alone until then?"
She tried to avert her eyes, but she was transfixed. "Yes." The Grandfather clock chimed the hour. "It's getting late," she observed and went to stand up. "I'm tired."
"Me too," he agreed before pulling her down on to his lap.