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Forgiveness Comes Later

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The doorbell rang right on time. It had been two weeks since Emily’s “death”. Two weeks since she had lied to the team and helped her get away to Paris. And every night, here he was at her door.

She hated this, this continuation of the lie. She kept telling herself it was the only thing, the only thing that would keep them all safe. Their lives, his life, was at stake. Everyone had to believe it. Believe her.

The only thing good about this whole thing was that she knew she was helping him get through it. Her and Hotch were the only ones that knew the truth, and it killed her that Spence was suffering… but she could hold him and listen to him, dry his tears and kiss his temple and let him know that he wasn’t alone. He had her, and she would do her best to make every assurance so he knew it and felt it. Any time, day or night, she’d be there for him. Her sensitive, unique, darling friend.

She opened the door and there he stood, hands in pockets, looking at her with red-rimmed eyes. He shrugged, and tried as always to apologize for his presence but she would have none of that.

“JJ…” he began.

“Shh, Spence, come in. I’ve got your tea ready.” She slipped her arm through his and led him to the sofa where two steaming mugs waited on the side table. "It's honey chamomile." She waited for him to spout out an incidental fact or two about the tea's calming effect, but he didn't, only accepted the mug and sat down. He locked his eyes with hers and she saw his misery. God, what was she doing to him?

He sat and leaned forward, elbows on knees. JJ sat beside him, reached up and rubbed his back through his soft, ever-present sweater vest. He dropped his head but she saw his eyes fill with burning tears and she knew what came next.

“I try, every day, to move past it… but all I can see is her laying there mortally wounded and none of us able to do a damn thing,” he said, his voice soft with a bitter edge.

“I know.”

“I’m okay at work. I think I’m going to accept it soon, and I can compartmentalize. Then I get home and…” He breathed in, his stomach twisting with the agony of his friend’s loss... of her senseless, brutal death at the hands of Ian Doyle, the criminal that he hadn’t gotten to in time.

“… I failed her, JJ. I didn’t… I couldn’t… and Morgan, Morgan won’t even talk about it, about her, about that night… he won’t even look at me when I try.”

JJ reached up and gently brushed his hair back from his face. She tucked a piece behind his ear as she leaned towards him, her forehead against his temple. His tears were falling freely now, and she cringed inside, again. He was in so much pain. Pain that she was causing.

“Spence,” she said, keeping her voice low. “I’m here… you can talk about it as long as you want to. About Emily. I want to too… and I’m here.”

She stroked his cheek and he looked into her eyes, so earnest and patient and he sunk into them. He could feel her compassion and her sympathy and her being there, so alive and beautiful and he could feel her sincerity flowing over his damaged heart, healing it with her words, her presence, her soft hands…

He leaned toward her and felt her arms go around him for the hundredth time that week, felt her pull him close, and as his arms went around her, instead of her head laying against his shoulder he felt her lips softly graze his own.

He gave a sharp intake of breath as he pulled back, flinching and looking directly at her. She didn’t blink or look away, instead she nodded, imperceptibly. She pulled him toward her again and there was no mistaking her intent.

Their lips met in the most delicate of caresses, and as his hands lifted to hold her face she whispered “Is this okay…?” against his mouth in the quietest of voices. He answered by pressing his lips against hers again and again, tasting her, feeling her response, and for the first time in weeks, felt calm, felt happy, felt relief.

His eyes closed, he was dizzy with her, drunk on the scent of her hair, her mouth on his, her tongue delicately probing… was he dreaming? So many years he thought of doing this very thing. He opened his eyes and watched her as she bumped his nose with her own, her lashes long and soft above her smooth cheeks…

She made a decision then. “Spence…” she whispered, her voice a low purr, “There’s something… I have to tell you something.”

“Are you okay?” he asked her, their noses still gently tagging each other’s. A strange question to be asking her since he didn’t even know if he was okay.

She pulled back, reluctantly, and shook her head briefly. She reached up to touch his lips, swollen from her kisses, and smoothed his brow as his concern started to wrinkle it.

“Because if you’re –“ he began.

“Spence,” she said again, and slid her hand into his, squeezing it. “I have to tell you this. I can’t continue to pretend I don’t know the truth, and I absolutely cannot continue to see you suffer this way, knowing that I can make it all better with just two words. You have to keep what I’m going to say to yourself. Will you do that? Will you promise me that?”

Spencer straightened, uneasy, his eyes probing hers. “JJ – “

“Emily’s alive.”


 

He looked at her for a long moment. He stood suddenly, his arms folding in on himself, tight against his stomach.

“Is that right.” he said, his voice low.

She stood too, and reached a hand out to him, but withdrew it when he jerked away. “Spence… it’s true. I’m sorry, so sorry I didn’t… couldn’t tell you before now. I’m not even supposed to be telling you this at all.”

Spencer turned his back on her and slowly moved to the door. Reaching it, he turned back to her, eyes blazing.

“You… let me…” he began. “You let me sit here every night and pour my heart out, my feelings about Emily and how she died, and all this time you knew?”

“Yes! Spencer, yes I did and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! Imagine how you would feel if you had had to do the same to me! Imagine me wanting to blurt it out, just tell you every single moment my arms were around you, seeing you cry and in pain, grieving? It was and is for the team’s safety, Spence. You have to know that is the only reason!”

“Then why… and tonight? You kissing me? Was that all part of the lie too, JJ? Is that all fake too?”

“No! I just couldn’t stand it any more! I couldn’t let you suffer like that any more. Seeing you these past days-“

“Weeks.”

“Weeks, then. Seeing you every night and listening to you and feeling what you were feeling and knowing the truth all along was killing me. And I needed… I needed to show you how much I care, to do something to make you feel even the slightest bit better.”

“So you pity me?” He took a step closer to her, resentment and embarrassment clouding his face.

“No!” She moved to stand in front of him, but stopped as he put his hands up. “I felt it too. I wanted to kiss you, I still do. I need you to believe that.” She looked up into his face, her blue eyes pleading with him to understand. “But the important thing is, you know. Emily’s alive and in hiding and she’s safe, Spence. She’s safe.

He stood staring at her a long time. She could see him struggling to physically tamp down his anger… bewilderment, then relief colored his features, and he turned his back on her, running his hands through his hair. Emily is alive! The thought filled his head and he looked up at JJ, not doubting her, his anger dissipating, though not leaving him entirely. She smiled at him, melting his heart. He couldn’t help but feel joy at the news. As it sunk in, he began to let go of the anger, the pain he’d been feeling all this time.

“You’re not off the hook, Jareau”, he said. I can’t believe you waited this long to tell me.”

She came over to him. “I shouldn’t have told you at all. If Hotch finds out I’m in a lot of trouble. He may fire me.”

So you and Hotch launched this cover up while she was still in the hospital?” He asked.

She nodded. “Yes. And Em. And the rest of the team cannot know. Not yet. It’s imperative that they remain uninformed until we get Doyle. It’s for their own safety, Spence. Promise me you won’t tell.”

She took his hand and this time he didn’t pull it away.

“It’s against my better judgment, but I’ll keep the secret…” he said, somber. “For now. You should have trusted me with this, JJ.”

“I know. I’m so sorry.” She dropped her hand from his. “It killed me to see you in so much pain. Every day I saw you suffer… and I couldn’t do anything about it.” She looked up at him. “I’ve pretty much stopped sleeping. The guilt…”

“Are we going to forget the kiss happened?” he asked, his gaze direct.

“Oh, it happened. And I wanted it to.” She answered, just as direct.

He nodded, still looking at her. “There’ll come a time when I’ll probably thank you for supporting me through it all. For letting me turn to you for comfort. Now is not that time.”

She nodded. “I expect you’ll be angry with me for a while. I hope we can eventually work through it… together.” She moved to close the distance between them and reached up to touch his face.

He leaned in as he moved to go and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “I hope so too, JJ. But not tonight.”

He hefted his jacket and left, closing the door behind him. JJ watched him go, then leaned her back against the closed door, and exhaled. She’d have some work to do to repair their relationship, and hopefully continue to build on it. She’d do it, all of it, whatever he needed.

After all, that is what one does when you love someone.

Chapter Text

JJ hurried into the briefing room, late for the first time in six years. The team were all seated, Garcia had already passed out the files, and Hotch stood at the board, ready to begin.

"Sorry everyone," she said, a little out of breath. "I slept in." She glanced at Spencer, he met her eyes, then looked down and focused on his file, raising his eyebrows.

"Everything alright?" Hotch asked.

"Yes… sir. Just haven't been sleeping well. I'm fine."

"Then let's get started."

Spencer listened intently to the briefing and asked a few in-depth questions before plotting out a rudimentary geographic profile in his head. To all appearances, he was focused intently on the case at hand, but JJ knew he was ignoring her.

Hotch had no sooner said "Wheels up in 30," than Reid was out of the room and heading to his desk for his go-bag. He usually rode with JJ to the jet, but he stopped Morgan in the bullpen to ask for a ride.

Morgan's ever-active brow rose as he said, "Hey anytime, kid. But don't you usually ride with JJ?"

"Uh yeah, but there's something I wanted to ask you. You know, 'guy stuff'? he whispered conspiratorially.

Derek smiled and threw an arm around his younger friend's shoulder. "Now that's what I'm talking about! You got some lady on the line you need advice about? Pull up a chair, little brother!"

Spencer looked down and smiled to himself. Morgan was the last man he'd ever ask for advice on the fairer sex, but let him think what he wanted, as long as it meant Spencer wouldn't have to be in an enclosed car for twenty minutes alone with Jennifer. He understood her, he did. But a part of him still burned with her betrayal. He was hoping time would help him rationalize, but then… there was also his confusion about the kiss.

He'd gone from crying about Emily, to sheer bliss when his lips met JJ's, to flattened shock about the news Em was alive, to joy in the realization of that - all in a span of minutes. It was a lot to absorb, and Spencer wasn't altogether sure he had a handle on his emotions yet. Part of him wanted to lash out at JJ, and part of him wanted to pin her up against a wall and kiss her breathless.

She'd come at him, and he was… kind of in love with that idea. He knew it wasn't pity, there was too much solid, sweeping emotion between their lips. Her soft, warm…

"Hey kid, you comin'?" Morgan interrupted Spencer's daydreaming with his booming voice, and the younger man quickly trotted over, catching up and exiting through the big glass doors with his friend.

JJ watched them go, giving him his space. She'd hoped, but not really counted on him coming with her like usual. Still, it stung. She enjoyed their pre-flight drives. He always made her laugh with some random factoid or some corny joke. He always made her laugh, period.

That's the main reason she had started to think of him in a romantic way. Who was it she always wanted to hang out with? Spence. Who could always find a way to tease her or make her crack up? Spence. Who did she always want to call when Henry did something cute or when something special happened? Him. Her genuine affection for him, coupled with years of exposure to his amazing mind and then watching him grow into and become comfortable in his skin… yeah. He was a full-on hottie now, and she was deeply drawn to him.

What she had to figure out was if the reverse was true. If she was going by his kisses, she'd say yes, but he was also feeling angry at and betrayed by her. That wasn't going to be easy to overcome right away. She told herself to be patient. She'd waited all these years, she could wait a little longer.


 

"What's on your mind, youngster?" Morgan asked when they were on the road.

"Hmm? Oh!" Spencer thought fast. Maybe there was something he could ask. "I was wondering, completely hypothetically of course… if you found out something about someone… someone who had been on your mind a long time… and you found out they had feelings for you? How… how would you go about taking things, you know, to the next level?"

"Okay lover boy, what's this about? Has Lila been callin' you again? You know that girl never got over you –"

"Look if you're gonna be a smartass you can just forget it." I'm not in the mood and it's a serious question!"

"C'mon Reid, you know I gotta pick on you a little bit. But I hear you, ok… if it were me, I'd take her somewhere. Somewhere public, quiet… where the two of you could just talk. Be honest. Tell her how you feel, where you're coming from. But most importantly, ask her what she's feeling.

"I don't know that I want that out in the open just yet. Maybe not ever. If she tells me then it's real and I have to acknowledge it. I have to either go ahead, or shut it down, and I don't know if I'm ready to do either thing."

"If it's right, you'll feel it. Don't overthink it, genius." They pulled into the airport and Morgan parked. The two men grabbed their bags and got out of the car. Morgan gripped Spencer's shoulder as they walked up the jetway and said "Just go with your gut, man. Put the logic on hold, listen to your heart, and follow her lead."

Spencer nodded.

"I've made a lot of mistakes," Morgan said, "But never when I've gone with my gut."

Reid nodded again and said "Thanks. Good advice."

Morgan flashed his huge grin as they boarded the jet. "Anytime."

Chapter Text

On the jet back home, case solved, JJ sat alone looking out the window. She leaned her head back against the seat and tried to convince herself that telling Spence about Emily had been the right thing to do. It relieved her that he was no longer grieving… but she was. Her grief was for their closeness, their easy warmth with each other… their bond.

He had worked the case to the best of his ability, on top of his game. He had spoken to her only when necessary, and his voice dropped half an octave whenever he did; signaling - to her at least - his reproach. She doubted anyone else had noticed. They had been there for a week. He hadn't come to talk to her in her hotel room, he hadn't called her… nothing.

She missed him. She wanted him to come sit next to her now, to tell her some story about legumes in Brazil, or the origin of psychology. She wanted to feel his warm eyes meeting her own, and see his tentative smile as she teased him about some small annoyance.

The next thing she felt was a violent jolt, and she was pinned to her seat as the aircraft began to dive sharply downward. He was there then, in front of her grabbing her seatbelt and securing her in, fighting to keep from being shoved into her lap from the gravitational force.

"SPENCE!" she screamed.

"STAY HERE!" he shouted above the strained whine of the engines.

She watched, pinned and panicky, as he pulled himself toward the cockpit door where Hotch was already trying to shoulder it open. She watched as Aaron moved out of the way to let Morgan kick it in, then she couldn't see anything else except the men trying to keep their balance as they struggled to unfasten the pilot from his seat.

She looked across the aisle at Rossi as he made the sign of the cross and gripped the arms of his seat for dear life, his worst nightmare come true. "IT'S OKAY," she yelled to him, "HOTCH IS A PILOT!" Rossi nodded quickly, his eyes tightly shut.

Spencer finally made it to the cockpit, only to be knocked down by Morgan as he thudded to the floor, the unconscious pilot weighing him down. Hotch managed to get himself strapped into the pilot's seat just as the plane went into a sudden spin, flinging Reid back against the rear bulkhead and pinning him next to JJ's seat.

Her eyes found his and she blanched to see a wide gash in his forehead gushing blood. She struggled to stretch her arm out towards him, gripping his belt and holding on. His hand reached down and covered hers and their fingers intertwined as their joined hands were slammed up against the bulkhead.

Spencer fought to stay conscious, to keep staring into her blazing blue eyes, her hair splayed wildly against her seat back… he kept mouthing "It's okay, it's okay…" to her as she tried to nod in response.

Another sudden hard jolt and Spencer was dropped to the floor, his hand yanking out of her grip. As the plane slowly leveled off, JJ unbuckled and helped him up, getting him into the seat next to hers. Spencer immediately buckled in.

"Get back in, JJ," he said, barely able to catch his breath.

JJ looked out the window and saw they were flying straight, then sprinted towards the cockpit. She touched Morgan's shoulder as she passed, seeing him heft the pilot into a seat and strap him in too.

"Hotch!" she called as she pushed through the splintered cockpit door.

Her Unit Chief sat in the pilot's seat, hands on the controls. He'd done it. He had stabilized the aircraft, and called ground control to tell them their situation. He had an all-clear to land and an ambulance was en route.

"Do you need me?" JJ asked him, breathless. "I don't know anything about jets but I can flip a switch if you tell me-"

"It's alright, JJ, I've got it. How are Rossi and Reid?"

"Rossi's okay, just terrified, but Spence has a nasty cut on his head. He was flung around pretty hard."

Hotch looked over his shoulder at her. "And how are you?"

"I'm good. I think. What happened?"

He nodded. "Later. Go see what you can do for Reid. We're okay now."

"Yeah, thanks to you. Good job, Hotch." She reached over and squeezed his shoulder as she left the cockpit.

She went to the galley and got a hand towel, wetting it and taking it back with her. Spencer reached for her hand as she sat down, then flinched as she held the towel against his broken head.

He watched her as she gently blotted his injury, his heart thudding with the adrenaline from the near-crash and the knowledge of how close they'd come to death. He saw her press her lips into a thin line with worry, and he reached up and covered her hand with his own, pressing the towel against his own head. She met his gaze and held it, letting her hand stroke his cheek before dropping it into her own lap.

"Press it tight, Spence. We'll be down soon. You'll need stitches."

"I'll be okay."

"I know. Still-"

"JJ…" He looked at her with the widest eyes she'd ever seen, filled with fear, and something else. Regret?

"I know. This is crazy. We'll talk."

"My head feels so… it feels bad, JJ. Come with me to the hospital?"

"Try and stop me."

He groaned a little as he leaned his head against the seat back and closed his eyes. He slipped his free hand into hers and she moved closer, lifting her face and planting a small kiss on his cheek before resting her head on his shoulder.

"I love you," she whispered.

"Liar."

Chapter Text

JJ climbed into the back of the ambulance with Spencer, grabbed his hand and refused to budge. The paramedic was able to work around her, though it wasn't easy. Her eyes locked on Spencer's as she reached up to push his hair back.

"What do you want for dinner after they patch you up?" she asked.

"I'm not… I don't…" he said, confused.

Well you have to have something to look forward to after the shitty day we just had. So, ribs or chicken?" she smiled.

His voice was small as he answered "No offense JJ, but I don't think I'll ever eat again! How can you talk about food like nothing happened?"

She shrugged. "Just trying to distract you, silly. You don't always have to be so literal." She smiled and stroked his cheek to take the sting out of her words.

"Sorry. I'm dizzy but I can't believe all that just happened. Hotch really came through, didn't he? I didn't know he could fly a plane."

"I did. He learned back when he was still a prosecutor. Haley thought it was 'dashing' of him. They even owned a plane for a while. A little Cessna."

"Will John be okay? He's been our pilot for a long time. He has a family."

"I don't know, he had a heart attack, Spence. Hopefully he'll make a full recovery. Are you in any pain?"

"Oh yeah."

The paramedic said "I can't give him anything until he gets to the hospital. With a head wound like that they are going to need to examine him without the dulling effect of pain killers."

"No narcotics!" They said in unison.

The paramedic put his hands up and moved to check his readouts.

Spencer caught her eyes again. "What you said back there."

She nodded, squeezing his hand.

"I didn't… I don't expect… sometimes people say things in situations like that when they are in immediate danger that they wouldn't normally say."

"Yes, they do."

He closed his eyes and gave a slight nod, fully expecting her to recant.

"I'm not one of those people," she said, leaning forward and dusting his closed eyelids with tiny kisses. How like him to not expect love. To not think anyone would love him seriously. JJ's heart broke a little for him as she saw one small tear escape the corner of his closed eye.

He looked up at her with glossy eyes and shook his head, then immediately regretted it. "Ow."

"We're almost there, Spence. We can talk later, just rest okay? She lifted his fingers to her lips and he closed his eyes again.


 

"If it's all the same to you I'm going to take a few days off," Rossi said to Hotch as they drove back to Quantico.

"We all are, I've ordered Morgan to do the same."

"I think I've upped my ante from "hating turbulence" to "hating flying" once and for all."

"Crazy, wasn't it? Though it wasn't the jet's fault John had a heart attack."

"Are the kids okay?" He meant JJ and Spencer, Hotch knew.

"Yes, or they will be. Reid got banged up pretty badly but nothing critical. JJ's with him now."

"Those two."

"I know."

"He strapped her in right when we felt the first jolt. Seeing to her safety was his first instinct."

"Feelings have always run deep between them."

"Think we'll see baby geniuses within the next year or two?"

A fleeting smile flashed across Hotch's face. "I wouldn't be surprised. Incidents like this often make people take stock, re-evaluate their lives. It's been heading that way for years, maybe this was the push they needed."

"We'll see. Anyway, great moves up there, Aaron. Thank you."

"Don't mention it. Drink in my office?"

"My office. Better scotch."


 

"That's it! I'm grounding you. No more jet, no more flying anywhere ever! All our cases will now take place along the subway route. I'll get a memo out to the serial killers, pronto!"

Morgan smiled as he sat on an ottoman in front of his Baby Girl planted on her sofa, her place his first stop upon landing. He had a mug of her special brew, the calming kind, sitting on the table behind him, but it looked like she may need it more than he did at the moment.

He took her trembling hands into his large, calloused ones and said "Penelope, I'm fine. Reid got the worst of it but JJ's with him at the hospital now and he's going to be okay. I'm telling you, you should've seen Hotch. I've never been so happy to have such a capable friend in my life! He was a real hero today, momma. The real deal."

"You're my hero. All of you are but you are also my babies and I can't… Derek I don't know how to deal with what you're telling me! What if… what if…"

"'What if, what if'… do you want to hear the rest of it or not?" he teased.

"I don't know, do I?"

He wiped a tear off her cheek with his huge yet gentle thumb and said "Yeah. You really do."

Morgan used his most rumbling, storyteller voice as he told her how Reid instantly secured JJ and made sure Rossi was buckled in before making his way forward, how he himself had started CPR on John the moment Hotch stabilized the plane, how JJ had ran to all of them in turn to make sure they were all okay, and after that never once left Reid's side.

"Baby Girl, I wouldn't have wanted you there for anything, but I wish you could've seen how everyone worked together, how everybody just geared up, a true team. We all saved each other. It was so fast, and it was really something. I'll never forget it."

Garcia leaned forward, her hands cupped Morgan's handsome face and she said in a tear-thickened voice; "Tomorrow I'm getting you all capes."

Chapter Text

After being stitched up at the hospital, and refusing to stay for observation, Reid just wanted to get home. So much had happened in the last few days and he just needed to have some personal time to process everything. The thing is, his 'personal time' now included her.

He didn't know how to ask her. How could he politely say "Move in with me please, and never leave my side even for a moment or I'll shrivel up and die." He smiled inwardly at the exaggeration, but it was how he truly felt.

He looked across the car at her, her beautiful eyes on the road as she drove, and melted inside. She was such a hero, his hero, and he wanted more than anything to be hers too. He hoped he was. He wished he could shake his anger. It was at odds with his love for her and unproductive at the very least. And it was confusing.

He reached over and tucked a piece of her silky golden hair behind her ear, the better to see her face. "So, you'll be going to get Henry after you drop me off?" he asked.

"Drop you…" she looked at him then back at the road. "Spence, I don't want to just drop you. I want to see you settled, I hope that's okay." She looked back at him again. "And yes, then I need to see Henry, have to see him and hold him… but mom's keeping him tonight. I thought… I thought I'd stay with you. I'll of course sleep on the couch, I just need to be… to make sure you're…" she trailed off, uncertain now.

Spencer reached over and took her hand in his. "I spent enough time on your couch, I guess it's only fair you spend time on mine." He smiled.

She squeezed his hand and said, "Exactly my thinking, Dr. Reid."

JJ loved his apartment. Everything in it just radiated Spence. From the worn, sturdy leather furnishings, to the bookcases filled with every work possible, to the antique chess table set up in the corner, it was all him. Warm, muted colors on the walls and soft sconce lighting added to the ambiance, and she smiled at the corded rotary phone tabled next to the sofa. Not for the first time she resisted an impulse to thumb through his pristine and of course alphabetized vinyl record collection complemented by the vintage Bang & Olufsen turntable.

Everything he owned was always of the highest quality, even though it could be decades, even centuries old. Spencer always said he liked to surround himself with things that endured. Survivors. It made sense, considering their line of work. She loved that sensibility. Being in his home always gave her such a sense of history, and security. She always felt safe here. Safe, and welcome.

Spencer moved slowly as he went to sit on the couch. He was beginning to question his refusal of pain meds as JJ said "Whoa there, I think you should go lie down, don't you?"

He wasn't in any shape to argue, so he let her lead him back to the bedroom, his big, comfortable sleigh bed a welcome sight. JJ went to his dresser, noticing how the solid Chippendale cherrywood shone with care. She pulled out flannels and a soft t-shirt from one of the drawers and set them on the bed. "You want some tea?" she asked.

"If you're offering to make some, that'd hit the spot," he said. He sat on the side of the bed and removed his shoes and sweater vest, then started unbuttoning his shirt. "Hey JJ?"

She was headed out to the kitchen, but instead turned and said "Hmm?"

"C'mere a sec?" He patted the bed next to him.

She sat next to him, lifting her hand to smooth his hair… any reason to touch him.

He met her eyes and said "Thanks for today. You were amazing and I still can't believe it all happened."

She smiled softly and leaned in, touching her lips to his. "You're welcome. You were no slouch back there either, you know. Making sure I was safe at the first sign of trouble."

He looked down, suddenly shy, and she noticed his neck turning red. Adorable.

"I'm having… some trouble. It's weird and I want to tell you."

"Go ahead, Spence. You can tell me anything."

"I know, it's just that… I'm still really angry with you, JJ."

She sat back, folding her hands into her lap.

"But I want you with me, too. I mean, that is the feeling that's winning, that's strongest. I feel awkward because today made me realize I want to hold you and kiss you and I don't even want to think about you leaving my side for a minute… but then I get these flashes where I don't even want to talk to you."

"Because of Emily."

"Because of Emily," he confirmed.

Spence, it's okay. I don't really know what else you expect me to do, though. I've come clean, I've apologized…"

"I know."

"And I've tried to tell you and show you how much you mean to me. Who you are to me now."

"You have."

"Well do you believe me?"

"Yes."

"Do you feel the same?"

"Yes."

She breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment there she thought he was going to say no.

"Okay, well then as I see it, you feeling conflicted is something that you either need to get over, or dwell on, and it's up to you as to how it goes."

"JJ, it takes longer for me to get over things. It always has. As much as I want to put it behind us… it's hard. And it isn't really a choice for me, either. It's just how things are."

"Right. Well, I'm not the injured party here, you are. And you have every right to feel the things you're feeling. But Spence, I have feelings too. Sitting around wondering when you're going to finally let me love you isn't something I look forward to."

She glanced at his flannels and said "Why don't you get undressed and into bed, and I'll go make the tea. Then I need to go be with my son. You'll be alone with your thoughts for a while, and when I return, we'll see how you feel. Sound good?"

He nodded. "You'll stay here tonight?"

"If that's what you still want."

He nodded again. "It is."

"Okay."


 

"Mommyyyy!"

Henry came flying out of his grandmother's house just as JJ parked. She jumped out and scooped the little boy into her arms covering his face with kisses as he flung his arms around her neck.

"I missed you so much, Henry!

"I missed you too, mommy, and so did gram! She cried!"

She looked up to see her mother standing in the doorway, her expression happy and relieved to see her daughter unhurt and in one piece.

JJ slung Henry onto her hip, hugged her mom tight, and they all went inside. She didn't want to let go of Henry so she held him on her lap hugging and rocking him slightly until the little boy started squirming.

"Can I have a cookie, mommy?" he blurted.

"Sure, but save one for me too, okay?" Henry nodded and dashed off to find the cookie jar.

"I'm ready for the details whenever you are," Sandy said.

"It was really something, mom. Terrifying and thrilling at the same time. It was our first incident with the jet, and considering how much we fly… I'm surprised something hasn't happened before. Hotch was amazing… and Spence. Spence got badly hurt."

Sandy heard the gravity in her daughter's voice and moved to sit next to her. She was aware of her daughter's fondness for the young genius, and harbored a secret hope that there might be more, someday.

JJ was surprised to feel tears spring to her eyes at her mother's touch. "He looked out for me first. When the first jolt hit and we started to dive, he was right there helping me – and the g-force pinned me and I - …"

Sandy put her arm around her and just let her cry.

"I messed things up, mom… I don't know if I can make it better," her voice was tight with her tears. "I really need him to be okay… I need him."

Sandy guessed she wasn't talking about the jet any more. "JJ, whatever happened, time takes care of most things. Does he know you feel this way?"

JJ nodded.

"Does he feel the same?"

"He says he does."

"Do you believe him?"

"Yes, but mom there are things… circumstances… that are causing a conflict and it's all my doing. I don't know how to make it right other than what I've already done and it's not enough for him right now."

"Give him time, JJ. If you two both want to be together, it will happen." She smiled and held her daughter's face in her hands. "Are you in love with him?"

JJ nodded, closing her eyes.

The older woman smiled again and held her daughter to her, rocking slightly. "Then everything will be fine, you'll see. Spencer is a serious young man, he doesn't make decisions lightly, and he's not one to jump into things without considering all sides, is he?"

JJ sat up and wiped her eyes. "No."

"My guess is if he loves you, he won't let anything keep him from you and Henry. Not for long."

Henry came dashing back into the room. One look at his mother's face and he approached more slowly, offering a half-eaten cookie in his outstretched hand. "Here mommy, I didn't eat it all."

She smiled then and bit the offered oatmeal. "Thanks, Henry. You sure know how to make me feel better."

The boy smiled and crawled into her lap as JJ leaned back on the couch, her arm encircling him. She grasped her mother's hand and said "I hope you're right, mom. I really need you to be."

Chapter Text

Spencer lay in bed thinking of nothing but her. He knew he was screwing this up, but he was determined there be no secrets between them ever again. If it was to work, he needed to trust her again and he knew this was the only way – complete honesty.

In the past, he'd always become passive aggressive when upset, hiding his feelings behind snark and sarcasm, and thinly veiled insults. He didn't want to do that this time. If he told her when he was mad, and why… they could much easier come to an accord. At least in theory.

He knew he was lucky. To have her, such an amazing woman, say she loves him… it was more than he'd ever hoped for in the romance department. To finally be able to tell her the same… dream come true. He couldn't help but feel part of the reason he was holding back was his own insecurity. Why risk it? She was bound to leave him some day, everyone always did. If he let himself get in too deep… what would happen to him when she left?

But then he started remembering her soft lips on his, the way she looked up at him with those dazzling blue eyes that shone with so much feeling. He remembered the way her silky hair felt against his hand whenever he'd had occasion to touch her back when leaving a room. Her soft cheek under his fingertips. He remembered all the years he'd cared for her, holding back despite his feelings. Now he could have her, his heart's desire, and yet he still held back.

What a jerk.

He rolled over as his thoughts of her beauty, her softness, and his feelings for her started converging below the belt. He didn't want to be thinking about this right now, but he'd always been incredibly responsive to sexually stimulating thoughts and this was no exception. JJ had been making him come for years, even if she didn't know it, and he was used to thoughts of her creating this reaction. Besides, he told himself, masturbation was a natural pain killer. His head hurt, maybe his other head could make it feel better.

He started pushing his erection into the mattress, grinding slowly, enjoying the friction of his flannels against his bare cock. He grabbed his pillow and rubbed his face against it whispering "JJ" as his breath came faster. He started pumping against the bed harder as his cock grew and god he was so hard in just a matter of seconds. He imagined her beneath him, welcoming him and stroking his cock, guiding him into her wet, tight –

"Spence, I'm back," she called from the front door, sticking her head in before letting herself into the apartment.

Oh shit. Shitshitshit.

It worried her that he didn't answer her. She headed straight for his room, calling his name louder.

He lay very still, maybe she'd think he was asleep, but his breathing was so rapid, she would definitely see that. He tried to calm down but it was no use.

"Spence, you okay?" She was beside him in an instant, feeling his forehead. "Oh god you're all sweaty! Spence…"

Before she could panic he rolled over and gently grabbed her wrist. "I'm okay… it was just… a bad dream."

With him now lying on his back the effects of his 'bad dream' were on full display and JJ was no dummy.

She smiled inwardly, but controlled her expression for the most part. The last thing she wanted to do was embarrass him.

"Hmm. Well, we can't have that now, can we?" She walked over to the other side of the bed and caught his gaze with her own. She lowered her eyelids and started unbuttoning her top few buttons on her blouse, still staring at him.

"JJ, wait. What are you doing?"

"Nothing," she said as she continued unbuttoning. Her cuffs were next and she kept going, moving down to the top button of her jeans.

Spencer was transfixed, not trusting himself to say anything, and he was still rock hard.

She slipped off her blouse and let it fall to the floor, her ivory lace bra cupping her firm breasts. Spencer stayed silent as she took that off too in one fluid movement and let it drop. She stood before him completely topless and he couldn't believe how perfect she was. His cock felt like it would explode at any moment, but she wasn't done.

"You want me to stop?" she asked, tilting her head and looking at him through heavy lids, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

He gave his head a quick shake, the pain there the furthest thing from his mind.

JJ smiled and unzipped her jeans, then turned her back to him and bent over as she slid them off her taut, rounded ass perfectly accentuated by her black silk panties, a mere wisp of fabric. Spencer groaned as she turned around to face him. This was the best kind of torture and he was loving it.

She began walking back to his side of the bed, her finger tracing a path on the coverlet as she did. Spencer started to slide over to make room for her but she said "Don't move."

She reached him and bent over, her nipples nearly touching his own and she put a finger to his lips, lightly touching them before capturing them with her own. Soft at first, then more pressure as she trailed her hand down his chest, down, down to the heated bulge that was his cock. She stroked him through his flannels as she kissed him, her hand moving in time to her lips against his and he jerked as he moaned her name into her mouth, tasting her, smelling her. She was heat and softness and she smelled of jasmine and warm skin and soap…

"Was this what you were dreaming about, Spence?" she whispered against his mouth, dragging her moist lips back and forth across his. He lifted his hands to her face, cupping it, holding it so gently as she kissed him, god he didn't want her to stop kissing him, touching him…

"Yes… JJ don't stop… don't ever…" he whispered to her as their lips met again and again, just the slightest bit of her tongue slipping over his.

She undid his pants and tugged them down as he lifted his hips. She dropped them as she'd done her own and it was all she could do to keep up this slow pace when all she wanted to do was ravage him right then…to climb up and have him thrust that gorgeous cock into her, pump her hard. She was so wet for him, but she forced herself to take her time… she wanted that beautiful mind of his to remember this always.

"I want to feel your hands on me," she said, and lifted one hand to her breast as she leaned over him again. He palmed it and she gasped as he began pinching her nipple ever so lightly, rolling it between his finger and thumb… god those elegant fingers, what she bet he could do with those…she thought as she took his other hand and began rubbing it against her soaking wet center, still swathed in black silk. She moaned and tossed her head back as his fingers made contact with her clit through her panties. He nearly came right then as he felt her wet heat through the delicate fabric and he tucked a finger around the hem, seeking and finding her slippery lips, her entrance tight and hot around his finger. He moved his thumb against her clit as he teased her labia with first the one, then two fingers and she gasped as his mouth found her nipple and he started sucking softly at first, then with more urgency. Her inside muscles twitched as he suckled her breast, rolling his tongue around her hard nipple, his free hand kneading her other breast.

Oh, he'd given this a lot of thought he had, and JJ was losing control every moment that passed. Finally, she climbed onto the bed and Spencer made a soft sound of regret as her breast left his mouth, her wetness no longer in his grasp. She removed her sodden panties and straddled him, dragging her wet pussy up and down the length of him, capturing his mouth with hers in a fiery kiss that seemed endless as she pressed her breasts against his chest. His hands moved around to grab her ass, pressing her wet core against his cock even harder and she broke the kiss, gasping. She fastened her lips on his long neck and licked and sucked all the way up and down, stopping to put his earlobe between her teeth and she bit down just a little, giving a little growl and moaning his name into his ear as she slid her pussy up and down his shaft.

He was lost to her, he had no breath and he didn't care. All he cared about was this woman in his grasp, her hair falling wildly all around him in a golden halo, her breath coming hard and fast against his mouth and he needed to be in her…

"Oh god JJ let me in… let me in you my beautiful… god!" He gasped as she finally slid onto him, her inner muscles squeezing his cock as she rode him. She was so incredibly wet and so tight and he wanted to be right there, be part of her forever. She moaned as she fucked him, every breath bringing him closer to his end and he felt possessed as he pumped deeply into her, his thrusts timed perfectly with her downstrokes. Their bodies, their instincts took over and they were as one, unable to exist without the other and he felt her clench around his cock again and again and she entwined her fingers with his own as her orgasm thundered through her, she arched her back and screamed his name and it was then he let go too and time stopped for him, the sweetest agony as his seed surged out of him in forceful streams over and over, again and again.


 

They lay together, her head on his chest, her cheek flush against the thrumming of his still-rapid heartbeat. She lifted her head, heavy-lidded blue eyes seeking his warm hazel and she smiled to see him wide-eyed and still catching his breath.

She leaned up on one elbow and reached to push his hair off his sweaty forehead, avoiding the bandage there. "Hey," she smiled.

He smiled back, dazzling her. "That just really happened, right?"

She laughed softly then, lightly touching his lips with hers. "Oh yeah."

He reached up and touched her face, stroking her brow and focusing on every line and angle, seeing her with fresh eyes, almost like the very first time.

"You're amazing," he sighed.

"We are."

His smiled dropped, suddenly serious he said, "But JJ… what if-"

"Spence, shh. There are no 'what ifs' here right now. I know what you're thinking but I'm not going anywhere. And I'll tell you something else, I am not so afraid of losing something that I won't even try having it."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Stop overthinking it, Spence. What does your gut tell you? More importantly…" she pressed her hand against his chest. "… what does your heart say?"

He gathered her back into his arms then, his heart soaring, and kissed her with all he had. For once in his life, he'd take that leap… but not alone. He had her, finally, like she'd always had him, and he would trust her and love her like no other, come what may.