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The Truth Is Out There... And Sometimes It Hurts

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Hotchner Residence

04.45 am

Aaron's Home Office

He read the letter over and over again. He couldn't believe that he even would be considered to do such a job. He never pictured himself as one of the higher-ups in the command chain of the FBI and yet they offered him the job of a Section Chief. Not for the BAU, but it would also be in Quantico and he would be able to spend more time with Jack. But did he really want to change? Jack finally got used to him being away for more than a few hours a day and to spend more time at Jessica's than his own new house. The team… well the team considered him as a father figure, a leader, and Morgan sadly proved that he was a good leader in theory, but not so good in practice. With JJ's departure towards the Pentagon and Emily's "death" a few weeks ago, they wouldn't stand another part of the "family" leaving. No, as much as Aaron Hotchner dreamed of rising up the ranks, he would decline this offer first thing in the morning. Right in the moment as Aaron got up to go over to the kitchen and start making breakfast, his phone vibrated on the counter.

"Hotchner?"

"Hi, Aaron."

"JJ?"

"Yeah, it's me. Just a question: When will you be at your office?"

"Around 7.30. I've got a lot of paperwork to do. Why? Is something wrong, JJ?"

"No, no. Everything is fine. More than fine. Just be prepared for some surprises."

Aaron wanted to ask the former media liaison more, but JJ hung up before he could form a question in his tired mind.

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BAU bullpen, Quantico

7.15

As usual, technical analyst Penelope Garcia was one of the first people in the office (and in the building in general). Since she was working for Sam Cooper's team in San Francisco as well, she loved to do some stuff at this early time, when her "own" team didn't need her excellent skills to catch their current killer. And because of her job, she was used to see a lot of things other people wouldn't even dream about. But she was in no ways prepared for the sight that greeted her, when she entered the bullpen of the BAU. Seated at the desk of the late Emily Prentiss was… Jennifer Jareau and her sweet little son Henry, who played with one of his favorite toys, a soft covered picture book, a gift from Spencer.

"Oh my God! JJ! What are you doing here?"

JJ sent her a small smile which faded into a frown when she realized that her exuberant friend had spoken the question with a hint of insulation.

"Am I not allowed to be here?"

"Of course you are, JJ! I'm just too surprised to see you here at this time in the morning. Hey Pumpkin!"

The two women exchanged a heartily hug and Henry got a peck on his cheek before Penelope grabbed the chair from Reid's desk and sat down.

"Ok, sweetie, tell me. What's going on?"

"I'm coming home."

"You're coming… OH MY GOD! You're coming back! To us!"

Henry covered his ears, because Penelope's voice echoed through the empty bullpen.

"Pen, lower your voice."

"Oh. Sorry, Henry."

Garcia was about to ask her best friend another question when Ashley Seaver, the cadet and so-called replacement of JJ, walked into the bullpen. She put her things down on her own desk and stalked over to the two women, a hard and unreadable look on her face.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

JJ and Pen exchanged a surprised look, then Garcia grabbed her things and Henry and walked down the hallway to her office. It was going to go ugly and Henry was way too young to see such a scene right in front of him. When she was sure that her son was out of earshot, JJ turned to Seaver, anger open on her face.

"First of all, you have no right to ask me such a question. I was visiting before and I was even helping the team out. So what got your panties in a bunch this time?"

Seaver was speechless. She never heard anyone talk to her in that way, especially not another woman. But she soon got her composure back.

"The team finally got over losing you and Agent Prentiss. They don't need a permanent reminder of the past. I'm the future of the BAU, and pretty soon the future will turn into present. So I suggest you grab that little brat of yours and leave before the others arrive."

"Agent Seaver, shut up!"

The sharp voice of Section Chief Erin Strauss cut through the bullpen like a knife. Seaver and JJ shuddered slightly.

"Chief Strauss, I was just…"

"What? Insulting a good agent? Who has proved herself out in the field uncounted times? Shame on you, CADET Seaver. Oh, and by the way, Seaver, you have no future within the agency."

"May I ask why, Chief Strauss?"

Strauss didn't answer her right away, because she saw the rest of the team, including Garcia, approaching the bullpen, accompanied by some other agents.

"Good morning, gentlemen. Miss Garcia."

"JJ!"

All the men of the BAU, namely Hotch, Morgan, Reid and Rossi spoke simultaneously the name, which lead to giggles from JJ and Garcia and a small smile from Strauss.

"Chief Strauss, may I ask what's going on?"

Aaron was the first to find his voice. And even though he and Strauss had an ill-fated work relationship over the years, he was sure that she had her hands in the return of JJ.

"Agent Hotchner, Agent Jareau will be transferred back from the Pentagon to the BAU, starting with today. And Cadet Seaver will be arrested for being a vital part in the conspiracy that led to the "death" of Agent Prentiss."

All the agents fell silent as Cadet Seaver was led out of the building in handcuffs. They didn't notice the door of Aaron's office open and close at first, but when they heard noises coming from the catwalk, they turned as one to face… a smiling and crying Emily Prentiss.

While Reid, Morgan, Rossi and Garcia gave Emily a heartily welcome, Aaron's phone rang for the second time that day.

"Hotchner?"

"Agent Hotchner, this is Detective Martinez, Washington PD. We have been notified to call you as soon as we hear a word on the whereabouts of one Ian Doyle. Well, we know now where he is. And he is not alone."

"Which precinct are you?"

"27th. You worked with one of my colleagues on the case of the young boy who tried to kill himself in the end."

"Yeah, I remember now. We'll be there as soon as we can."

He hung up and turned to face his reunited team.

"Doyle is back. He is in the Washington area, and he has at least one hostage."