Spence wasn’t lying when he said that hearing those words would end up hurting. It’s like getting everything you ever wanted, knowing it’s within your reach, but also knowing grabbing it would be the most selfish act you’ve ever committed because it’s going to hurt so many people around you.
JJ knew Spence would never do anything. His childhood, the person it made him into, everything he’s experienced on the job... He would never ask her, he would never make a move. She didn’t blame him. She stayed with Will for her children. There wasn’t even anything wrong with the relationship. He was a great father, and a decent husband. She had never expected him to be exemplary in that department because frankly, she didn’t need it. Well, not from him anyway. It allowed their relationship to be easy. Which is how they’ve managed to get to nearly 13 years of being together. She also had begun to realise how much her job had contributed to the success of the relationship. Not just because it limited their time together, but also because it allowed her to spend time with Spence. She should have realised it when the only rocky patch between her and Will came while she was at the Pentagon. It wasn’t just that she spent so much more time with Will, but whatever time she had with Spence didn’t allow for the same intimacy as it did while they were away on a case.
“Penny for your thoughts?” She hadn’t realised that Emily had come into the conference room.
“Hah. You’d need Rossi’s bank account to get through this mess.” JJ started flipping through the case file in front of her. Part of her wanted Emily to drop the subject, allow it to be brushed away. Would Emily hate her? Would she understand? JJ has absolutely no clue. But she wasn’t sure how long she could go on without speaking to someone.
“Wanna go grab a coffee? We’re just waiting around for those test results and everyone else is chasing up leads so we’ve got some time.”
“You know what? That actually sounds really good.” JJ got off the chair, grabbed her coat and started making her way out. It took Emily a second to realise that JJ had actually accepted her offer - she had fully expected to be turned down, but had decided to risk the offer anyway. She hurried after JJ.
Twenty minutes later, they were sat at a corner table in a little coffee shop a few minutes away from the station. Emily didn’t want to push, but knew she’d have to start the conversation. The only problem was that she had absolutely no clue where to start.
“So, I don’t want to pry honestly but-“
“I’m in love with Spence. I have been for years.” JJ couldn’t bear to look at Emily but when a minute went by with no response she chanced a glance. Deer in the headlights would have been an apt description of her facial expression in that moment.
“You must have had a clue.”
“JJ, I swear upon everything I hold dear that I did not expect those words to come out of your mouth.” Emily was starting to remember how to speak.
“Ok... but hang on, you must have known how he feels about you? I mean that’s not exactly an admission that would have surprised me.”
“Life got in the way, Emily. And I realised that it didn’t drive me insane purely because this job allowed me to minimise my time with Will while also being able to be away with Spence. And no, before you ask, we’ve never been physically intimate.” JJ sighed. She couldn’t help but feel she was still cheating in many ways.
“What changed? If this is how you’ve felt for years, why is it weighing on you so much now?”
“Mexico. Everything that’s come after. Not to mention it was what I decided to confess to Spence when I had a gun held to my head in that bank a few months ago.” Emily choked on her coffee.
“I’m sorry, what now?”
“Em, I swear to you, I never wanted to say anything. I was going to take this secret to the grave. But I had a gun in my face. I had to buy time. I was just going to make something up but then I looked at him and I knew I had to say it. And now neither of us know what to do with it.”
Emily looked at JJ. She didn’t actually know what to say next. She knew exactly why this was a difficult decision. She also didn’t feel like she was equipped to give advice in this situation.
“Ok let me try to wrap my head around the facts. You and Reid love each other. But due to circumstances outside of your control, you never told him, I’m assuming tried using Will to distract yourself, and then everything just kind of... started steamrolling. Now you have a devoted husband for all intents and purposes, but you think that relationship has only survived because of how much this job takes you away from him and allows you to spend with Reid. Oh wait, what about that girl he’s been seeing?”
“Max? Last night Spence told me he was going to end things because, and I quote, ‘it would not be fair to be with someone if I knew they were my second choice’.”
“Shit.” Emily truly felt out of her depth, but her reaction actually made JJ laugh.
“Tell me about it.”
They lapsed into silence, coffee cups abandoned, both women caught up in their thoughts.
“JJ... Are you staying with Will for the kids?”
“That’s one of the reasons. A big one. But also I feel like after everything, it wouldn’t be fair for me to just turn around and drop Will. He’s sacrificed a lot to allow me to be in this job.”
“But what about what’s fair for you? Your happiness? That surely has to count for something.” Emily understood how much of a motivator guilt could be, but she couldn’t actually see a positive outcome if the status quo was maintained.
“I can’t think about me when I have two kids.” Of that, JJ was sure.
“I’m going to be very blunt here, but I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. If what you’re saying is true, you and Will have an expiry date. Going on with it for the sake of your children might sound admirable, and you might think that they don’t notice anything, but what happens once circumstances change? They will notice. Trust me. JJ... Think about it. This job could actually allow you to have a good custody arrangement. Nobody’s happy in this situation now. Everybody just thinks they can make do, but that’s a dangerous foundation to build a life on.”
“No matter how I spin this, I’m the bitch in this situation aren’t I?” JJ had uttered that sentence so softly, Emily had barely heard her. Emily reaches for JJ’s hands.
“JJ - you are not a bitch. You made decisions when you needed to. Decisions that weren’t motivated only by your happiness. Is this an unfortunate situation? Yes. But you deserve to be happy. So does Reid. So does Will. And trust me, maintaining whatever this is will only lead to a bigger heartbreak in the future. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you. I promise you. If you need a place to stay, my home is always open. Just please think about what I’ve said.”
JJ looked so lost. Emily couldn’t even imagine the conflict within her. She just hoped she had said something that helped, even if only a little. Just then, her phone chimed with a message. They were needed back at the precinct. JJ nodded and started picking up their half drunk coffee cups.
“Please don’t tell anyone.”
“Of course.” JJ nodded her thanks, and they walked out of the coffee stop together.