"...but that's just mean."
JJ grins. "Yes," she says, and sips her wine. "Yes, it was mean, but it also worked."
Rossi shakes her head. "I'm impressed, JJ, where were you thirty years ago?" She's smiling as she says it, genuinely amused, but JJ can feel the bite hiding in her words.
It doesn't take much to imagine the source of the bitterness or the anger. Daniela Rossi had been the only woman in the BAU at a time when sex crime seminars had amounted to bad porn and dirty jokes. JJ can imagine the day to day hadn't been much better, even with guys like Gideon and Hotch in the unit.
She fingers the stem of her glass, trying to find the right way to put that into words. She does this for a living, it should be easy, but nothing comes to mind.
"Don't, JJ," Rossi says, downing the remnants of her Scotch. "It sucked, yes, but I handled it."
"I know," JJ nods, "but that's the point. What you went through back then—"
"—sucked, yes, we've established that." Rossi orders another drink. "It did. Time's not made it look any better and I'm not pretending I broke any great barriers, I wasn't even trying. No medals from the feminists of America for me. I probably wouldn't even rate a gold star. I just wanted to do the job and I knew what I was getting into. I knew I'd meet some real rat bastards along the way. I wasn't any different than any other woman of my generation." She grimaces. "Of my generation. God, that sounded pathetic, didn't it? Don't tell my editor, she'll never let me live it down."
JJ laughs. "Scouts honor."
"Good," Rossi winks. She sits back with her drink and crosses her legs. "Truth is, I was a lousy feminist. There's not a single dumb blonde joke I haven't told, my skirts bordered on the ridiculous, and between husbands, I blew through a probably alarming number of hot young studs. Literally." She tips her head, smiling wickedly. "Gloria Steinem I was not."
Shaking her head, JJ finishes her glass. "I don't think anyone would expect that."
"Probably not, but they expect something I never managed to be," Rossi says on a sigh. "You, Prentiss, and Garcia, you've inherited the consequences of my mistakes."
"And the benefit of your successes," JJ says. "We all have."
"You're not going to thank me or anything, are you?" Rossi asks, her dark brows drawing together with suspicion. As disturbed as she apparently is by the thought, maybe, she's just a little flattered too. It's hard to tell.
Profilers. All the same. Can't hide anything from them while they hide the world from you.
"No," JJ says. "It's just something that needs to be said. You guys catch a lot of the blame, sometimes, but not much of the credit."
"Way of the world," Rossi offers, shrugging.
"Not in mine," JJ says. "I'm here because of you and forget arguing with me. You know what I'll do."
"You're a cruel woman, Jennifer Jareau," Rossi holds up her glass in a toast. "I think I love it."
"All shall love me and despair," JJ agrees with a wink. "Now buy me a drink, tell me about baby Hotch, and I'll forget about unholy vengeance."
"You might," Rossi says, even as she holds up a hand, "but will he?"