I never even blinked. You do whatever it takes to...uh...protect your family. – Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, "Penelope"
It's ten in the evening when JJ shows up on Reid's door step, soaked to the skin from the rain. She knows she looks like hell, mascara running down the sides of her face and hair plastered against her skull and shoulders. JJ knows why she's here. She did the one thing she never thought she'd ever have to do: she's killed a man. Real life is nothing like they show on those cop shows. Most law enforcement officers never actually discharge their weapons while on active duty, much less kill a suspect.
Reid opens his door, quickly smoothing away the quizzical expression on his face. He gestures her inside, takes her purse and sets it down before he closes the door and slides the locks into place. He helps her remove her coat and shakes it out a little, droplets hitting the highly polished hardwood of his apartment.
She's only been here twice: three days after Georgia when Reid was still limping around because of the damage to his foot and six months later when he called her at four in the morning and recited something in Middle English. To this day, she doesn't know what he quoted except that he sounded like the Swedish Chef. When JJ showed up on his doorstep back then, he promised that he'd stop using.
She thinks he kept that promise. He's been more sure of himself lately, more centered. Maybe it's because Rossi's now part of the team and Reid has serious case of hero-worship for the guy. So if it takes a legendary profiler to keep Reid on the wagon, JJ will gladly take it.
She doesn't really pay much attention to what he's doing as she stands in his meager hallway; his apartment is so different than what she expects. It's tidy and filled with modern furniture and artwork. There are no Star Wars or Star Trek posters or models or gadgets to be found. His desk is the same explosion of paper and files as it is at work.
It's the one thing that JJ can focus on. A familiar thing.
She's surprised when Spencer's suddenly there again, taking her cold wet hands in his and gently tugging her forward. It takes a few seconds to get her feet moving. She doesn't pay attention to where he's leading her; tears blur her eyes and she hates to be so weak.
But this is Spencer, and he's the last person on the Earth to think less of her for crying.
Vaguely, she hears water running and a cloud of steam escapes from the door Spencer's opened. He gets her inside, closes the door, and then releases her hands.
Honestly, she has no clue what to do next. She registers that she's in his bathroom and that the shower is running. Her brain conveniently shuts off. She's never been like this before.
Then again, she's never killed a man. Put a bullet right between the eyes of James Colby Baylor. His brow chakra. His third eye. His Ajna. Things she knows from one of Spencer's many ramblings.
Spencer's made the same shot. The man who still has trouble with his firearm qualifications nailed the shot.
Just like she did.
It takes a few seconds to realize that Spencer has removed her watch and is now halfway done unbuttoning her blouse. He pushes it off her shoulders and then unclips the empty holster from her belt. IA has her gun; she'll get it back tomorrow morning. His fingers are on the clasp of her trousers and he pauses. JJ still can't seem to move, so he undoes the clasp and pulls down the zipper. With clinical indifference, he pulls off her shoes, strips her of her wet trousers, peels down her knee-hi stockings, and piles her discarded clothing in the corner.
She's only wearing her bra and panties. Even those are wet. Despite the warmth of the steam, her skin still goosepimples. Spencer pauses for a second, then removes his own watch and rolls up the sleeves of his shirt. JJ's tempted to reach forward, to push the fabric up to inspect the crooks of his elbows, to see if he's kept his promise of staying clean.
But she can't. She just stares at him, wanting to be embarrassed that tears are streaming down her cheeks but she can't seem to feel anything.
Spencer pulls back the shower curtain. He takes off her bra. He slides her panties down to her feet. She automatically steps out of them. He doesn't smile. His expression is neutral, flat. There is no pity in his eyes. No disdain. Nothing except … understanding and it makes her tremble a little more.
He guides her to the tub and to the small bench that's in the middle. She's surprised that he would have something like that in her shower, but she remembers his post-Georgia ordeal and how he had to be off his foot for seven days. The ever-practical Spencer apparently bought shower stool. She wants to laugh. She wants to smile.
She wants to feel, but she can't.
Instead, JJ sits on the little bench and Spencer takes the handheld sprayer and runs the warm water over her naked body. He touches her chin and she tilts her head back. He wets her hair down, and then sets the sprayer down. Spencer picks up a periwinkle colored puck, lathers it in his hands and then swipes it across her hair. He's gentle yet efficient. He massages her scalp and then the rest of her hair. She identifies the scents of lavender and rosemary.
JJ thinks about how it always seems like a good idea to share a shower, but there are some things that a girl just has do to. It's something she's always believed in until now.
He rinses her hair. She wants to quip that if he ever quits the BAU, his second calling can be as a hairdresser. But this is Spencer Reid, man with the IQ of 187 and three doctorate degrees. He can do anything he wants. Literally, anything.
He's got a chunk of green next and, like the periwinkle colored puck, he works it in his hands a bit before applying it to her hair. This one smells a bit grassy and not as strong as the lavender one. He sets the green chunk down, rinses his hands, wets down a washcloth, and picks up a bar of dark purple soap. He builds up a decent lather with the cloth and, like the other purple thing, it has a strong smell of lavender.
It's crisp and clean, not at all like her grandmother's sachets or the overpowering hand lotions that smell wholly artificial. It's calming and soothing.
JJ feels the tension leaving her shoulders as Spencer runs the soapy cloth over her back, down her arms, and across her torso. He washes her armpits, her nipples and under her breasts with gentle, smooth motions. There is nothing sexual in his touch. It's not coldly clinical but comforting.
Lather. Rinse. Lather. Rinse. Lather. Rinse.
Until the only places left are her genitals.
Spencer guides her to her feet, nudges her legs apart, and then with the same caring yet indifference, does the lather-rinse-repeat. He runs the warm water over her hair and body one last time before turning off the faucets and helping her out of the tub. He dries her off and wrings as much moisture out of her hair as he can. He then sits her on the toilet seat before rummaging through the sink cabinet. He produces a pack of MAC makeup cleansing cloths—the same kind Elle used to carry—and pulls one out. Spencer's careful as he wipes her face, paying special attention to around her eyes.
Once finished, Spencer takes a wide tooth comb to her hair and works out the tangles. Again, he's efficient and gentle. There's that whole "been there, done that" element to this that should be unnerving perhaps, but instead, JJ finds it comforting and reassuring. He even braids it but leaves the ends unbound.
He produces a pair of sweatpants—she knows they'll be ridiculously long but he helps her into them. She doesn't giggle as he kneels and rolls up the hem. He slips the Theismann jersey over her head—the one she had insisted he wear to the game two years ago—she's grateful that he remembers the little things that comfort her.
She's surprised she doesn't feel like a five-year-old instead of a woman of almost thirty. Spencer then herds her into his bedroom, pulls back the covers on his king-sized bed and fluffs up the pillows. He puts a folded up towel on the top one, obviously to keep it from getting soaked because of her hair, and then guides her until she's standing next to the side.
The gesture makes her cry some more, but they are the silent tears of an emotion she's not quite sure of. Gratefulness? Love?
JJ sits down and then lays back, watching as he tucks her in. She grabs his wrist as he turns, and she wants to beg him not to leave her alone. However, her voice is frozen. Spencer offers her a half-smile, brushes the tears from her cheeks, and then nods towards the bathroom as if to say, "I have to clean up" but he doesn't utter a word.
She settles down, closes her eyes and tries to identify all the sounds.
The scrape of the metal rings on the shower curtain rod. The snap of a damp towel. Water running. The funny sound of vigorously brushing one's teeth. The splash of water. The click of a plastic cap. A few more odd noises that she can't quite decipher. She then hears Spencer pad through the rest of his apartment, the clack of light switches being turned off.
She knows he's back in the bedroom. There are two chirps—he's plugging their phones into the chargers—and then there's the rustle of him getting underdressed. JJ's tempted to peek, because this is a side of Spencer she has never witnessed. His confidence always shows when he's in academic mode but this?
JJ recalls how nervous he was during the Redskins game, like he feared he was going to make the wrong move. If she thinks of it as a 'date', then it definitely belongs in the 'catastrophic' category. If she thinks of it as 'two coworkers hanging out', it's still bad, but not horrific.
Spencer-in-caretaker mode is completely new. JJ wants to be surprised but then she realizes that he committed his mother to a sanitarium when he was eighteen but before that, he was her primary caregiver. It's how he knows how to do all this without it being sexual in the least.
She feels the bed dip as he gets settled. She hears the click of the bedside lamp and the rustle of pages. She knows he's reading and she briefly wonders what tome he's selected for the evening.
JJ pulls the covers over her shoulder and snuggles against the pillow. Spencer's hand settles on her shoulder, grounding her.
She has a guardian.
She falls asleep.
JJ sits in her office, staring at the files that surround her. She's got a briefing with Hotch in an hour and she needs to select the case files to present to him. It's the first time since she's become part of the BAU that she doesn't want to do her job.
She may have to shoot someone again.
Just like Reid has.
Phillip Dowd. Tobias Hankel.
She wonders who will be her next…
A light knock interrupts her thoughts. JJ glances up and is stunned that Reid is standing there. He's not rocking on his heels like she's expecting him to. He's not nervous at all, which is … amazing. He's calm. He's quiet. He meets her gaze.
He'll never tell.
JJ has no idea if she'll ever tell anyone that, technically, she's slept with Spencer Reid. Not even her priest. Will would have an absolute fit if he knew.
Spencer steps into her office and then holds out a plastic evidence bag. Sealed inside are her Glock and cartridge. He walks over until he's in front of her desk, the bag dangling between them.
"I believe these are yours," he tells her quietly. They are the first words he's spoken to her since yesterday afternoon, before he left the BAU for the evening. Even this morning, they had gotten ready in silence.
JJ's hands are shaking as she reaches up and takes the bag from him. She sets it on her desk and folds her hands back in her lap.
She doesn't want it.
She's killed someone.
With that gun.
She stares at it.
She watches as Reid places a business card on top of it, the print facing her: L. Anna Kestra, M.D., Psychiatrist
Reid's voice is soft. "I've found that talking with someone outside of all of this … " JJ glances up and watches as he gestures to the files on her desk and then her FBI certificate on the wall. "Helps. She's a friend. I trust her. But this?" He taps her gun. "Isn't going to go away. You can try to escape it … " His snort is bitter but also a bit amused. "It's going to come back until you deal with it."
JJ has tears in her eyes again. She doesn't want to cry, but of all the words of comfort she received yesterday and this morning, Spencer's has the most impact.
"There's a series of arsons in the Savannah area we may want to look at. Right now, it's just focused on new construction and the locals believe it's eco-terrorism. However how the fires are set is what makes me think it's something else. It's like the UnSub is using the new builds to test different methods of setting a house on fire."
JJ stares at him.
He taps on folder to on the corner of her desk. He grins a little.
"Thank you," she whispers and then makes sure she meets his gaze. "For everything."
He nods. He takes a step back. "No problem."