Sleep. She needed was sleep. All she wanted to do was go home, curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and a good book. Instead, she was here, standing outside of an old Italian bar where the girls, and Reid, had dragged her.
"You do realize I'm coming here against my will, right?" she grumbles to the brunette beside her. "Even if it is owned by one of Rossi's old friends."
"Oh, I realize," Emily answers with a grin. "The whole car ride here, I thought I'd go mad between listening to Reid recount the last time we all went out together, and you, listing the reasons why you didn't want to go to a bar." Emily links her arm with JJ's. "Besides, Garcia threaten something bad if we didn't get you to come along."
JJ glances at the redhead powering along in front of them, then shakes her head ruefully. Sometimes all it took was the tech savvy chic to lighten a situation.
"Come on, boy genius," Garcia calls impatiently, as Reid stoops to retie his shoe.
"I'm coming, hang on." JJ can almost hear him muttering the childhood rhyme in his head. With a roll of her blue eyes, she fondly tousles his hair as she passes. He ducks beneath her touch, then straightens, hurrying to catch up to the group.
She hesitates in the doorway, allowing her eyes to come accustomed to the dim lights inside the bar. A nudge from Emily, forces her to follow the bouncing redhead.
"Oh, look who finally showed up," Morgan teases as they join the boys.
"What do you mean, 'finally'?" Garcia replies, eyebrow raised. "I'll have you know, you probably wouldn't be here yet, if not for boss-man driving you."
"Whatever you say, mama." He grins, waving to Emily and JJ, then tousling Reid's hair.
"Why must you guys do that?" he complains, fixing his hair once again. JJ hide her grin. She looks around, realizing one person was missing from their group.
"Where's Rossi?" she asks. No one answers, instead giving her blank looks. She rounds on their boss, who's face is stoic as usual. "Hotch?" He merely points behind her to where the bartender is walking on stage.
"Okay, signors and signoras. This here is David. Please welcome him on stage," the man calls, in accented English. He passes the microphone to the profiler behind him, then proceeds back to the bar.
A slow guitar starts up, setting the pace before the words begin.
And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain
For the first few beats she is rapt. Never did she know he could sing. His deep voice hitting each note perfectly. Something inside her ticks, and she listens with full attention.
He stares at her whilst he sings, forgetting about everyone else in the room. He hopes through these words he convey what he is thinking, what he means. The lyrics bring memories flashing to the front of his brain.
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
The phone clicks, signaling the end of the call. There is a quiet beat before anyone moves.
"That's her," Mrs Lombardini whispers, sniffling. "That's Brooke."
"You sure? She'd barely audible." The words are out of his mouth before he realizes. Ignoring the looks from his colleges, he plows on. "Any surveillance expert will tell you it's almost impossible to positively identify a whisper."
"You think I don't know my own daughter's voice?" Her tone is accusatory.
"Why would someone who is not Brooke, call 911 and say they were?"
"Sometimes people like to inject themselves into the story." He switches his gaze from father to mother. "You've been on TV now, and that could bring out a lot of sick individuals."
"Stanley said she was alive. This proves it." She shoots him a dark look.
He wanted to shake her. "Stanley Usher has a vested interest in telling you your daughter is alive."
"And do you have a vested interest in telling me she's not?" she spits venomously.
"He has a record, ma'am. I had a college look into it," he points out, not at all missing the disappointed looks from both JJ and Hotch. "Usher was charged with fraud in Oregon, before he pulled up stakes and moved here." He hands her the file of information Garcia had pulled for him. She barely glances at it before shaking her head and grabbing her bag. She pauses as the dam of tears threatens to burst.
"I need my baby to be alive," she sobs, spinning and walking out of the room.
"All she has right now is hope. Why would you take that from her?" JJ's voice is quiet when she speaks, and it hits him harder than any amount of yelling would.
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way
"I think it's safe to assume our Unsub is male," Emily points out, dropping the crime scene photo on the desk beside her.
"I agree with you, given what we know about aggressive driving and road rage," says Hotch.
"And the fact that men have an unnatural bond with their cars," Emily adds with a smirk.
JJ agrees. "That is true."
"Wait a minute, I don't know about 'unnatural,'" Morgan pipes up, offended.
"I once dated a guy that washed his car more than he washed his hair," JJ explains with a roll of her eyes.
"A nice car needs love," he says without thinking. Morgan points at him, agreeing.
"And a woman doesn't?" She stares at him, daring him to defy her.
"I'm not qualified to answer that," he stutters, causing the team to crack up laughing. He smiles, embarrassed. It wasn't the first time JJ had gotten the better of him, and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way
"Is everything okay?" He pauses to look at her. Her eyes are questioning but he knows she is only worried for him.
"Why do people want to hear me talk about serial killers? Is it that entertaining?" He is confused.
"There's a public fascination with them," JJ points out with a small laugh.
"Sometimes, I wonder if my books are doing more harm than good."
"My senior year at Georgetown, I was graduating, I did not have a clue what I was going to do with my life." She chuckles, shaking her head. "And one day I was in the campus bookstore, and you were there, promoting your second book. I sat through your whole talk."
"You never told me."
"I asked you what it was you were most proud of, and you showed us a picture of a boy from Charleston." He nods, remembering now.
"Brent Roberts. A neighbor took him." He wonders what this could have to do with her wanting to work with the FBI.
"He was found alive. He was one of the few." She shrugs, continuing on. "That night I bought your book. Applied to the Academy the next fall." He smiles, coming to realize that it was his book that had influenced JJ's choice. He pats her shoulder affectionately, wishing he could hug her instead.
For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way.
He stares directly at her as he sings the last sentence. All around them, applause begins, but it is as if time has stopped between them. She doesn't know how long they continue to stare at each other, but it isn't until the bartender comes back on stage does he drag his gaze away.
"Grazie, David. Let's hear it for David," he calls out. The crowd claps louder, and there is even a few wolf-whistles from Emily and Morgan. He gives a wave the steps off stage, coming back down to join the group. Realizing the two needed a serious talk, Garcia catches Emily's eye.
"Dance?" she mouths. The brunette nods.
"Care to dance, Hotch?"
"Sure." He holds out his hand to Emily and together they leave. Garcia eyes off Morgan. He grins, flashing his pearly whites.
"Let's go, pretty mama." She meets his grin with a giggle.
"Come on, boy genius," she adds, plucking Reid from his seat.
"What? But I don't wanna... Oh, fine." He gives up, following the pair forlornly
"Hey," he says, quietly once they are alone.
"Hey," she replies back. He clears his throat, hoping to dispel the awkwardness.
He opens his mouth to speak,. "I-"
"Dave," she interrupts.
"Please, JJ, let me get this out, okay?" She nods, falling silent.
"I know I'm stubborn, and don't accept to change well. I know I'm not perfect and I realize my faults. I'm sorry. For everything. And I was kinda hoping that you'd forgive me. And-" She places a finger over his mouth to stop him from talking.
"Yeah," he mumbles.
"Oh." He has the grace to look embarrassed.
"There is nothing to forgive, okay?" Looking deep into his eyes, she waits until he nods before continuing on. "It was a simple mistake, okay? Anyone could have made it."
"No buts. It's passed. Just forget about it." She waves to the stage behind them. "You didn't have to do this, you know," she says, effectively changing the subject.
"I know. But I figured the words of Sinatra would explain better than I could." He gives a half-grin.
"Thank you, for whatever the reason." She gives him a quick peck on the lips. He grabs her before she can fully step away, deepening the kiss. They break away, slightly breathless.
"So," she says, eyes shining brightly, "Care to dance?" Holding an arm out in response, he whisks her over to the dance floor.