A.N. Every reasonable JJ/Reid scene deserves a response. The scene in 'Final Shot' will no doubt end up being about whatever secret JJ shares with the soon-to-be- announced new unit chief and not, alas, about her troubles with Will. This story is about neither.
You'd Tell Me, Right?
"If you were worried about something, you'd tell me, right?"
He squinted at her, trying to take her measure. It didn't matter what she said. He knew something was wrong. He knew her so well, he couldn't help but read her. He was too good. And she was too troubled.
JJ carried on a full conversation behind her eyes. Some things. Not everything. Not even now. Not even after all it put us through. I can't. And I'm so sorry, Spence. This may destroy every last ounce….every last gram…of trust you have in me.
JJ knew it was the principle of it, and not the fact. No matter how important it was that she keep the secret, no matter how worthy the cause….she was withholding something from him again.
But it's not something that will hurt you this time, Spence. I promise that. The last time, there was nothing but hurt, for both of us. You, because of losing someone you cared about. And me, because I saw the pain you were in and couldn't…..wouldn't…..take you out of it.
That's what it had been about, after all, the rift between them. That he'd had such tremendous pain, and shown it only to her. Well, and to Will, who was patient at first but, eventually, openly disgusted. Reid had opened himself to her, completely, letting down every defense he knew how to employ, trying to find a way to get his footing back under him. And she'd opened her arms, and absorbed his pain. It was all she could do.
But, then, the lie became known. Emily had to come back, to save Declan. And her return had caused Reid to lose JJ, and JJ to lose Reid. The young genius had never allowed himself to be so vulnerable with anyone before. And he'd vowed to himself never to do so again. His barely concealed anger had erupted while they were on a case, prompting Hotch to orchestrate a hokey 'family' exercise at Rossi's to try to mend the brokenness of the team. They'd all attended, Reid reluctantly. And they'd smiled, and clinked glasses, and made sure there were no outbursts among them. But nor was there any real sharing. No meaty exchanges. Just a tolerance for one another that reassured all of them that they could still get the job done. But something had been lost, and not found again.
It took months for any trace of humor to resurface, longer for any trace of trust. JJ prevailed upon Reid to maintain his relationship with Henry, even if he declined one with her. And the godfather was faithful in that regard. He took Henry everywhere. To the park, the museums, the library. He even took him to the circus. But he did so from a distance, stopping by to pick up the youngster, dropping him off at the end of the day, declining every invitation to stay to coffee, or dinner, or just to chat.
For Reid, the situation had seemed all too familiar. The naïve genius, falling for the ploy of the beautiful woman. Hoping for a strength of friendship that would not be reciprocated. Duped and made to feel foolish in the end. It had been happening to him since high school, and he'd so hoped he'd left it behind. Alas, he'd learned, it wasn't so.
If not for a flat tire, they might still be alienated. But Providence had intervened in the relationship between the two profilers. One Saturday, as Reid arrived to the Jareau/LaMontagne household to pick up his godson, he was met at the door by JJ.
"Spence, Will just called. He has a flat and the temporary spare is apparently the wrong one. It's making the SUV lopsided. So he's waiting for AAA to come and help him out. They told him they'd be there within the hour. Sorry, I know you wanted to make the 1:30 showing with Henry."
"It's all right, JJ. We can reschedule."
"I don't suppose there's any chance you could wait and go to the next showing? Henry's been looking forward to it so much."
She'd pulled the Henry card. Partly because it was true, and partly because she knew it would keep him there. She'd been thwarted in every other attempt to engage Reid in more than a few seconds of conversation at a time.
He looked uncertain. "Well…maybe I could come back."
"Spence, they might already be on their way home. Will said it would be an hour on the outside."
He considered for a moment. "Okay. I've got some books in the car. I'll just be…."
She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him through the door, no artifice left in her.
"No, you won't. You'll come in here and be comfortable. And talk to me."
How in the world is that supposed to be 'comfortable'?
He wasn't about to create a show for the neighbors, so Reid acquiesced, and allowed JJ to lead him into the house.
"Want some coffee?"
"No, thanks. I just had some."
"Oh. Okay, well, let's just visit."
"JJ, we see each other every day, practically."
She'd already taken a seat on the sofa, her eyes begging him to join her.
He never could say 'no' to her. Well, maybe. When he was feeling irate, betrayed, laughed at. But he'd mellowed. His avoidance of her now was protective, not reactive. And the truth was that he missed her. But, unlike JJ, he didn't think the relationship could be repaired. JJ missed Reid, and wanted him back in her life. Reid missed JJ, because she was already gone.
She would have started with small talk, but she was too frightened of losing more time. So she got right to the point.
"If I had been you….if I had trusted someone to the point of being vulnerable…and then found out they'd lied to me…..I don't think I could ever trust them again."
He could only bring his eyes to her face for a fraction of a second at a time. Now that they were abruptly into the conversation, he was having to use all of his focus to keep the emotion down. And still, he had to swallow thickly to keep it from spilling out.
JJ wasn't even trying. She'd promised herself that she would become as vulnerable as he'd been. That she would lower her very sturdy and well-exercised defenses, for the sake of showing him her sincerity. The usually controlled JJ made no effort to keep her voice steady, or to stem her tears. It was what Reid saw whenever he flashed his eyes her way, and it threatened to overcome his own determination to hold fast.
"I'm not that big a person, Spence. I really don't think I could get past it. I'd be afraid to. I'd be afraid of getting hurt again. And, especially if it was someone I'd come to trust. To be betrayed like that…..I just think it's the unforgiveable sin."
He had no idea where she was going with this. Why bring it up if she was just going to tell him he was right not to trust her? But a part of him reacted in a different way. She was insulting his best friend. His former best friend. The person he wished he still had on his side….and by his side.
"And," JJ concluded, "I just wanted you to know that I understand. I get it. You can't forgive me. I'll be sorry about it forever, but I understand. You're not wrong. It isn't something you just 'get over'."
Now she had his full attention. He was staring at her, a look of confusion on his face. It took him a moment to find his voice.
"That's what you wanted to say? All this time? That I shouldn't forgive you? That our friendship didn't count for anything?"
She shook her head. "No, Spence. I'm saying that it counted for everything. And that I didn't hold up my end of it. Even if I had a reason, I didn't put you first. I let you hurt, when you didn't need to. I'm just saying that I understand. I know you've been told to just get over it, and I think that's wrong. It dismisses our relationship as something casual, that can be repaired easily. When, really, it was one of the most important relationships I've had. And I mourn that it's lost. But I understand."
Reid closed his eyes. There was something so painful about this conversation and yet….something so….familiar….so rich….so heartbreakingly desirable. It was the kind of sharing they'd done between them for so long before the 'breakup'. And, having tasted it again, no matter the bitterness of the topic, he began to savor it.
He opened his eyes and looked at her directly. "This is kind of like old times, isn't it?"
Her smile was sad, wet with tears. "Sort of."
"Do you really think it's lost, JJ?" Said with aching sadness.
Hope started to trickle back into her eyes. "Well…maybe not. Not if you're a bigger person than I am." Her way of fitting in yet another word of apology.
He gave a snort. "I'm not exactly known for that, am I? An eidetic memory lets you remember every slight that's ever been made against you. So you can stew on them forever."
She chanced a smile at him now. "Doesn't it also let you remember the good times? When you laughed, and felt good about being together?"
He gave her a half smile. "It does."
"And if, say, the person in those good memories was sitting in this room with you and praying that you would be willing to give her a second chance…..would she be right to be hopeful?"
Now he shook his head. "JJ…..you know, you're wrong. I do have to get over it. I don't like the choice you made, but I realize you were in a tough situation. I won't lie to you and say it didn't hurt…..doesn't still hurt…..but I know it wasn't straightforward. I know you didn't choose to lie to me for no good reason. And I know I'm not your only friend. You felt like you had a choice between protecting one friend's life and protecting the other's emotions. I get it. I just think it was a false choice. You could have done both. And, as much as you're asking me to trust you, I'm asking you to trust me. I won't betray your confidence….ever. But I need to know that I have it."
The tears were brimming again. "I trust you completely, Spence. I trusted you then, too. Look, I've even trusted you with Henry, the most precious thing in my life. I asked you to be his godfather because I knew I could count on you…..I knew he could count on you. This wasn't about trust. It was about making the wrong choice. Just that."
He wasn't so sure. But it had to be put behind them, if they were to move forward at all. So he wouldn't belabor the point. But he would make one.
"Well…..it is about trust now. So I'm asking you again to trust me. I won't hurt you, and I won't betray you. I promise you that."
JJ reached across and took his hand. She found his pinky and wrapped hers around it. "I do trust you, Spence. And I won't give you any reason not to trust me. Pinky swear."
He would have thought she was making light of it, except for the pleading look on her face. But she was only trying to defuse the strength of the emotion that infused the air around them. Will and Henry would be home soon. There could be no trace left of this discussion.
He smiled as he crooked his finger with hers. For Reid, it was enough. But not for JJ. She wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in it, taking in the scent of the cologne she'd given him two Christmases ago. He squeezed her to him for too short a moment before they both heard the slam of a car door in the driveway.
That had been two years ago. Now he was asking her to admit that she was troubled. He was asking her to trust him enough to share. To let him help her. And, for all the right reasons….and all the wrong reasons….she was about to withhold that trust once again.
Already in mourning for what she knew it would cost her, JJ turned and answered him.
"Spence, I'm not worried about anything except maybe solving this case."