Chapter 17

Hotch sprinted to the man on top of JJ. His heart shattered as he realized JJ was unconscious. The men had tormented her until the point of unconsciousness. Hotch ripped the man off JJ and threw him to the middle of the floor. He pounced on the wretched man. He didn't even hear himself screaming and yelling, as he beat the defenseless man mercilessly to death. His screams were anguished, desperate to forget the entire encounter with Jack.

"You damn bastard!" Hotch screamed, he was yelling at Jack now, but he was still senselessly beating the man on the ground before him. Hotch's eyes filled with tears and soon trailed down his face as he screamed at the unseen tormentor. "How could you do this!? You. Will. Pay. I will make you PAY!"

Hotch jumped off the man beneath him and ran to the door confining him. Jack had left the room after Hotch killed the second man, just like Hotch was realizing now, Jack had realized just how dangerous it would be to be in the same room as Hotch, after everything he just endured.

"Let me out you son of a bitch! Face me like a man, you coward! You're a conniving psychotic man that deserves to rot in hell!" Hotch cried, he hoped the man would have more pride than self control and he would come strolling in here, Hotch wouldn't hesitate to kill the bastard.

"Agent Hotchner, I suggest you calm down, or you will never leave that room again." Jack threatened through the intercom.

Hotch fell to the ground sobbing, his knuckles were bleeding and throbbing as he remembered each dreadful, and sickening punch.

"How could I?" Hotch sobbed.

"That's right, agent. How could you? You're no better than the serial killers you surround yourself with." Jack retorted.

"That's not true." Hotch muttered, but he didn't believe the words.

Jack chuckled menacingly. "Oh yes it is, and you know it. You just murdered three men with your bare hands, you are not any better than ME." Jack taunted.

Hotch began ignoring the man, he put his emotions in the back of his mind and crawled over to JJ. JJ was his prime concern, she deserved his attention, and his attention she got.

"JJ, please wake up." Hotch gently shook JJ's bruised body at the shoulders, unaware of her dislocated, and relocated shoulder.

JJ woke up with a gasp on Hotchs second call, she immediately grasped her shoulder and squeezed her eyes shut in pain.

"Sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you." Hotch quickly offered.

"Im okay." JJ muttered.

Hotch gently helped her to a sitting position, they leaned against the wall behind them. Hotch wrapped his arm around JJ's shoulder lightly and pulled her close. Her head fell into the crook of his neck and JJ began sobbing uncontrollably, her body shook with each exhausting sob until she passed out from exhaustion.

"It's okay." Hotch whispered. His hand curled up to her hair line and removed the hair from her face in repeated swipes with his gentle fingers. He would push the sweaty bangs out of her face only for them to fall back on her face, and Hotch would repeat the toying action. The never ending action was unsettling, but distracting. It kept him occupied, distant from the unexplainable trauma.

It wasn't long until JJ woke up again. She was shaking with a chill of low temperature and memories of the previous events. Hotch rubbed the outer bicep of her outer arm methodically, his head fell on hers after he placed a kiss on the top, his eyes closed back into that dark place he found comfort in.

"Aaron?" JJ whispered.

"Yeah?"

"Are we going to die?"

Hotch stayed silent for several minutes, searching for the right words.

"I won't let him take anymore away from us. If anyone's going to die, it will be him by my hands." Hotch said.

"I don't want you to kill any more people." JJ muttered.

At JJ's words he realized just how right she was, he realized Jacks effect and that Hotch was doing exactly what Jack wanted. Jack wanted to bring all of these decorated agents down to his despairing level. He wanted them to feel the pain he had been living with for countless years. He wanted to make them feel as though they were as low as him, in his words, 'not any better'. Hotch immediately regretted his words, he couldn't kill Jack, although it may be justified and well deserved, for his moral conscious, and for JJ he would make sure Jack met the death penalty.

"JJ, I'm sorry. For everything, all of this. I'm so, so sorry." Hotch said.

"It's not your fault." JJ muttered back.

"I just-I don't want this to effect our relationship."

"How could it not? Aaron, you don't even understand how I feel. How everything is gonna be after this," JJ gestured to the surrounding room, "concerning our relationship is the last thing on my mind." JJ exploded. She removed herself from his embrace and stood out in front of him.

"That's not what I meant-"

"I don't care what you meant, God. I just, why couldn't I have taken that godforsaken case?!" JJ exclaimed.

"If I know one thing, it's not you're fault either."

"How could you say something like that, when it's so obviously is my fault? Stop trying to preserve me from the consequences. I'm a big girl, I can handle myself."

"JJ you're emotional, you've been through a traumatic experience and you're not thinking clearly."

"What would you know about a traumatic experience?" JJ retorted without thinking. His face registered hurt and JJ immediately regretted her words. Out of the two of them, Hotch surely had endured more trauma than JJ, how could she be so selfish? "I'm sorry, Hotch, I didn't mean that."

JJ's head fell into her hands as the sobs started again, she felt like she was going insane, like she couldn't catch a break. She felt like she was on a never ending roller coaster of giant ups and downs, it would never end, yet JJ would always wonder when she would feel normal again.

Hotch stood up and pulled JJ into a deep hug, his hands rubbed soothing circles on her back.

"Shhh. It's okay, I know you didn't mean it." Hotch said.

"How can you love someone like me?"

"Because your better moments outshine your worse moments. You know how to brighten a room with just one word and a smile, you're always thinking of others when you should be thinking of yourself. I can't imagine a life without you, without the relationship we have. After Haley died, I thought that was it for me, I didn't think I would find a love like her, but Jayje, you blow me away. You're amazing with my little man, and he loves you like his own mother. I only hope to put a ring on your finger after all of this, because Jack didn't win, he didn't break you, and we will continue to learn to love through all of this. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, maybe God was testing us, testing our strength and our relationship, lets show the relentless creator the strength buried with in."

"You speak as though it is over." Jack said through the intercom.

"Ignore him." JJ whispered to Hotch. She grabbed his cheeks and forced him to look at her. "Look at me, remember our first kiss, our first night?"

"Shut up!" Jack cried through the intercom.

"Remember the first dinner we shared, the love was born and will never break." JJ said very seriously. The two stared into each others eyes deeply. Hotch wrapped his arms around JJ's waist and she kept her palms firmly place on the sides of his face.

"Or the first time I told you I loved you?" Hotch replied.

"I'll never forget it." JJ muttered as Jack began screaming through the intercom.

"You'll pay for your disobedience!" Jack yelled.

"Aaron. Kiss me."

Hotch didn't hesitate, he leaned down and placed a hard kiss on her swollen lips. JJ didn't mind the pain, she returned his fire and passion with equal power. Their tongues interlocked and fought for dominance. The pair didn't notice Jack enter the room, he ripped the two lovers apart and sent a hard punch at Hotch face. But neither agent regretted their actions, they had found a weakness in Jack.


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