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Holding On and Letting Go

Chapter Text

“Hey.”

She’d found him. But she always did. He wasn’t surprised. It was one of the things in life that made him feel safe. It was something he could depend on. A safety net that he never knew he’d ever have.

“Hey yourself. What are you doing up?”

She shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep. You?”

“Join the club.”

She sat down beside him at the hotel bar, and ordered a cocktail. The silence wasn’t awkward, but it somehow felt heavier than it normally did.

She glanced over. “So... how are things going with Max?”

“They’re going I guess. It’s tough with us being away so much.”

“I can imagine. But she seems to make you happy.”

“She does. It’s been nice.” But she’s not you. And she will never be you. And I know I have to accept that. Deal with it. Come to terms with it. But somehow it hurts more than it did when I used to be able to sit back and pretend.

She was looking at him out of the corner of his eye. He could feel the scrutiny. “Can you see a future?”

He knows he should lie. That what she needs to hear is that he can, that she needn’t worry about him wallowing at home in misery until his old age. But he’s tired. And she’s his best friend.

“No.”

He sees the tiny movement she makes at his honesty. She puts her drink down and turns to face him straight on.

“Why? You guys seem to really click.”

“We do. And it’s nice, it truly is. But it wouldn’t be fair to her.”

“Because of the job?”

He can’t do this. Whatever Dutch courage he had 30 seconds ago has clearly worn off. “You know what, bedtime sounds really appealing right now.”

He gets up to leave but she puts a hand on his arm to stop him. “Spence...”

She’s not the only person in the world to call him that anymore. Everyone else used it periodically. But nobody says it like she does. It just drags the honesty out of him.

“Because I would hate to be with someone when I wasn’t their first choice. And I just think it would be selfish of me to do just that to somebody else.”

Her hand was still on his arm, and he felt her fingers tighten just for a second. He couldn’t look at her face. He knew what was coming. He knew it since the moment she had confessed her love for him.

“You mean like I’m doing with Will?”

That made him look up. Like she’s doing with Will? Why does she look so sad?

“No, that’s not what I mean. Will’s your husband and the father of your children. That’s different. Let’s face it, that’s not exactly something I can compete with.”

“Spence...” He has to stop torturing himself with this conversation. He patted her hand that was still on his arm and turned to walk towards the elevators. He knew she’d follow. It still limited the time available for anything else she had to say.

“You don’t think I wish I had that with you?” She sounded so sad. So small. After all these years he just could not wrap his head around why it would affect her so much now that he was alone.

“Jennifer, I’m alright. Truly I am. I promised you I wouldn’t let this come between our friendship, and I’ve kept that promise. We don’t need to hash this out again. Let’s just go to bed, ok?” You’d think the elevator would be quicker considering the time of night it was. He started stabbing at the call button even though he knew it wouldn’t speed anything up.

“I knew I was in love with you when Hankel took you.” That stopped him short.

“I had every intention of telling you, Spence. But it didn’t take me long to realise you weren’t in the right place for me to do that. It wouldn’t have been fair. And then I met Will in New Orleans... I just thought he’d be a good distraction.”

And he was everything I wasn’t and you moved on.

The lift doors opened and the two of them stepped in. JJ leaned over to press the button for their floor when he didn’t make a move.

“And then things just happened you know? Life happened and just kept on moving. And before I knew it...”

“I know. And it’s ok.” He glances over and smiles at her. It’s a sad smile, one filled with regret, and it makes her heart ache. The doors open and they make their way down the hall towards their rooms.

“Well, this is me. Goodnight, JJ. See you in the morning.” He can still feel her standing there, unmoving, staring at him, as he turns to pull out his keycard and open his door.

“Do you know what the three greatest moments of my life are?”

He sighs and turns back around. “Please, JJ, let’s just go to bed. Please.”

“I mean number one and two are obvious, bringing Henry and Michael into the world, and if I was like everyone else I guess number three should be marrying Will. But it isn’t. Number three is the moment I held you after I told you we were bringing you home from prison. Spence, everything changed then. Everything. My world was off kilter the entire time you were locked up. I spent so much time with your mum because she was my connection to you. Because there was nothing else I could do for you. Because I loved seeing her with the boys. But holding you after all that time? Only the birth of my children has ever been more of a rush of emotion. I know you think I don’t love you with the same intensity as you love me. I know that’s why you think I can stay married to Will. And I didn’t lie to you in the hospital. I do love Will. But it’s familiar. It’s comfort. We work. Sometimes I think we only do because I spend so much time away. It’s not fair on him. It’s not fair on you. It’s not fair on me. But life’s not fair. And I know it’s easy for me to say because I’m the one who gets to go home to a husband and kids. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Spence.”

She couldn’t stop the tears from falling. She didn’t want to cry. Not now. She knew what her tears did to him and it wasn’t fair.

“JJ... Jennifer - please don’t cry? I’m sorry, I know -“

“Don’t apologise. Spence, you have nothing to be sorry for. Please. I missed out on the love of my life because I just couldn’t bloody wait and managed to potentially royally fuck up five lives in the process.”

She glanced up at him and saw how tired he looked. “Go on, go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She turned towards her door, and felt him barely grab her hand. There was nothing insistent about it, she knew he was giving her the opportunity to act like she didn’t feel it. But how could she?

“I love you too.”

It was like her world stopped. Through all of these months, the few conversations about her confession, he had never said it back. She’d known, of course she’d known, but he had never said the words.

“I know I’ve never said it out loud. Part of me felt like I didn’t have to because it’s always been so obvious how I feel about you. And hearing you say you love me is both the greatest and most painful thing, and I just... I didn’t want you to feel that pain.”

The silence was back. It was still heavy, but this time it didn’t feel stifling. It did feel charged though, and she knew that if she turned around she wouldn’t stop. Spence deserved better than that. Will deserved better than that. She gave his hand one final squeeze before pulling away.

“Goodnight, Spence.”

“Goodnight, Jennifer.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

They were all in the jet, flying back to D.C. after wrapping up the case. Everyone was either asleep or doing their own thing. Spencer had dozed off on the couch as soon as he had boarded, and was woken up by the call of nature. Annoyed at his bladder for interrupting the little sleep he had finally managed to get, he started to stretch his tired limbs. JJ was in the seat across from him, wrapped in a blue blanket and somehow curled up to fit just about comfortably on the chair. He couldn’t help but watch her, and small smile on his face. He shook himself out of it a few moments later at the insistence of his bladder. He hadn’t noticed Emily watching him.

He sat back down on the couch after relieving himself. His mind drifted back to his conversation with JJ the other night. Fate. Why had fate conspired to deal him the cards he had dealt with his entire life? It seemed like nothing came easy for him. Not his childhood, not his job, not his love life. Through everything he had been through he always thought he’d be married with children by now. He was going to be 40 this year. But then again, what had he done to achieve that goal? Nothing. And he knew that part of it was that being around JJ as much as he had been allowed him to fulfil certain desires, at least emotionally. He’d never been very carnal anyway, but he craved more now. He craved an intimacy that he hadn’t before. The only problem was, it seemed to be focused on one person.

Max looked nothing like Spencer. Which he was thankful for, because wouldn’t this merry band of profilers have a field day figuring out that she was just a surrogate for Reid’s true object of his desires. No, he’d come to realise he didn’t really have a “type”. They’d been out on dates, they’d been physically intimate, and while he had enjoyed everything that they had done, he also knew that was about the extent of it. It scratched the surface, but wouldn’t go any deeper. Objectively he knew there was a chance that he was holding himself back, that he wasn’t allowing it to go any deeper. But then he remembered how sad JJ had looked while they were talking. She did love Will, of that he was certain. Heck, he loved Will for taking care of Jennifer as well as he had. He knew that JJ hadn’t tried to hold back, especially after Henry was born - it just hadn’t taken.

A little voice in his head pointed out that the problem seemed to be that they were still in each other’s lives. Could it be that simple? Could the two of them be happier if they didn’t see each other the way they did now? He thought back to when she worked at the Pentagon and the misery that had brought. But they were older now. Different. JJ wasn’t married then. Maybe this time would be different.

Or maybe it wouldn’t be. Maybe it would be worse. For all his degrees why couldn’t he figure this problem out? Why was the answer to this so elusive to him? The one thing he did know was that he had to end it with Max. She deserved much better, of that he was certain. The overhead lights came on as the pilot announced they had started their descent. He saw JJ slowly blink awake out of the corner of his eye, and watched as consciousness returned to her as she got her bearings.

Adorable. She’s absolutely adorable. “Good morning, sleepyhead.”

JJ responded with a very well timed finger as she got up to go to the bathroom. He chuckled to himself.

He hadn’t noticed Emily watching them.

Chapter Text

Another one of Rossi’s “family dinners” was winding down, and the team were starting to say their goodbyes. He noticed Emily hanging back, but that had become a common tradition of theirs, to talk late into the night, bonding over scotch and cigars. He appreciated how much she valued his counsel, and if he was being honest guiding her through the unit chief experience had been one of the reasons he kept delaying his inevitable retirement.

They settled into their regular seats after he had poured the scotch, and he could tell there was an internal conflict raging - she either had to tell him something she was afraid he would judge her for, or she was trying to figure out how to ask for advice without actually revealing the problem.

“I’d ask what’s on your mind but I’m not sure if that would actually help.” He sipped on his scotch. That should get things going.

“It’s just...”

“It’s not your secret to tell?” She shook her head. Ah, so it was the latter. He could work with that.

“I’m assuming it involves the team, or at least someone from the team?” She nodded. He knew that was the case, because she had no other reason to be this secretive otherwise. He had just wanted confirmation.

He watched her massage her scotch glass as he went through possible scenarios in his head. He kept coming back to one - something he had noticed in the 12 years of working with this team, and something that he had felt shifted a few months ago. He didn’t know the details obviously, but something had happened, and initially he had been two distracted by his own wedding but in the months since, he could feel the difference in the air.

“Is this about JJ and Reid?”

“You know, you’re ridiculously good at your job. You are never allowed to leave the BAU.” Dave chuckled at Emily’s declaration.

“What - you’ve only just noticed?” He raised an eyebrow at her.

“To be honest? I always knew about the Reid side of it all, but I had no clue about JJ. None, Dave. Until she confessed as much to me a few days ago.”

“I think things really changed for her when Reid went to prison. I feel like a part of her always thought she would be happy to make do as she had done - the two of them were able to maintain a very emotionally intimate relationship through this job, and it actually limited the amount of time she had to spend with Will. But I’m assuming she told you as much.” Emily nodded. “But Reid going to prison... She realised what her life would be like if they didn’t have the BAU to keep them together. And I think it scared her.”

“She can’t have thought she’d have that her whole life.”

“Objectively she didn’t, but it’s easy to see something as far in the future and nothing to be worried about for the moment - Reid going to prison made it real and present.”

“I guess that makes sense. I just didn’t know how to react. Took me a while but eventually I told her that I would support any decision she makes, and that she was welcome to stay at my place if she needed to.”

Dave looked at Emily. “There is no right answer. Regardless of what JJ decides to do, and unfortunately it all rests on her shoulders because we know that Reid will never risk his godson’s happiness for an ounce of his own, somebody is going to get hurt. Either Reid will, or Will, and possibly the boys. And for all intents and purposes, Will has been a decent husband. Which I’m sure makes it even harder on JJ. I do not envy her.” Dave drained his glass.

“I pointed out to her that this job could actually make custody arrangements easy - and I felt quite guilty after saying that. I still feel guilty about it. But you should have seen the difference in her demeanour when she was speaking about Spencer, and when she was speaking about Will. I understand her dilemma but she must see that she will never be able to keep this up with Will?” Emily put her glass down and started pacing.

“She’s thinking of her kids, Emily. So is Reid. Remember he grew up without a father. The last thing he would want is to feel responsible for that happening to Henry and Michael.”

“But they wouldn’t be!”

“But he would still be the reason for a massive change in their life. At this point nobody can say with a guarantee how positive the outcome might be, but there is a lot of evidence that says there will be at least some negative effects on the kids.”

Emily slumped back down into her chair, feeling defeated. “So we do nothing? They do nothing?”

Dave reached for Emily’s hands and looked into her eyes. “This is a decision they have to take on their own, we cannot push them into it. The best we can do is to let them know, in our own ways, that we will have their backs and that they will not be alone no matter what happens in the aftermath.”

“Can you imagine loving someone for that long and having them right there and just... accepting it?”

“No. But JJ and Reid are made of some serious stuff, and all of this will make their eventual union all the sweeter.”

Emily smiled at him. “So you think they will get together?”

“Oh, I know it. Whether it’s in one year or ten years, it will happen. Trust me.”

And she did trust him. She just hoped that it all worked out in the end.

Chapter Text

Max was coming over. The relationship had progressed well after the Cat Adams drama, which he was surprised at. Max was tougher than she looked. On the one hand, he could see a future with her, he could see himself settling down, having kids, and being content and devoted. And he would be happy. He would be loyal. But he remembered something he always promised himself, that he would marry the woman he loved more than anything in the world, so that he could show his kids what a healthy relationship looked like. He had studied enough psychology to know how much early relationships imprint on a child’s psyche, and he couldn’t bear to give his hypothetical children any less than that. Realistically he knew it might never happen, that it was likelier that JJ live out her years with Will and the boys, but he wouldn’t be breaking a promise. He wouldn’t make do. He had done that so much in so many other aspects of his life, and he refused to do it here.

He knew there was no rush for him to breakup with Max too, but he wasn’t the kind of guy who could string a girl along knowing it was going nowhere, and he appreciated that at their ages, there was more of an emphasis on serious relationships instead of “having some fun with no intentions”. He sighed as he sat on the couch waiting for her knock on his door. This wasn’t going to be fun.

The knock came within 10 minutes. Here we go.

“Hey!” Max leaned up for a kiss. Spencer gave her a peck and ushered her into his apartment.

“Can I get you something to drink?”

“I’m fine actually - are we heading out or staying in tonight?”

He grabbed himself a glass of water and sat on the couch across from her. “I was thinking we could just stay in and talk?”

“Talk?” She eyed him suspiciously.

“Yeah.”

“Ok... What is it that we need to talk about?” She crossed her arms.

“Listen, Max, I’ve loved spending time with you these past few months...”

“Is this about your feelings for Cat?”

“...but the thing is - wait I’m sorry my feelings for who?!”

Max stood up. “I saw that kiss Spencer, you can’t fake that chemistry!”

“I feel nothing but hate and contempt for that woman, honestly, please sit down and let’s just talk?”

Max perched on the side of the couch. “Ok. Talk.”

“I do not have feelings for Cat Adams. I am actually glad that she will be put to death, because she is a sadistic, evil woman and the world is better off without her. I never thought I’d ever feel that way about anybody, but there we go. But I would be lying if I said there wasn’t someone else I had feelings for. It’s not new, I’ve never cheated, in fact we’ve never done anything. I’ve actually resigned myself to the fact that we will never be together.”

“I don’t get it. So move on. Be happy with someone else.”

“That’s the thing - I know I could. I know I could be happy with you. But I made a promise to myself that I would only ever the woman who I knew was perfect for me, not just a woman who ticked boxes and made me happy and who I was content to go through life with.”

Max looked confused. “And you would rather be alone than break this promise? Even though you’re actually saying we could be happy?”

“Yes. I know it seems crazy, and I acknowledge that it is on some level. But I’ve had to just make do with the cards that life has dealt me with so much in my life, since I was a child. And this is just something I want to do right.”

“Even if right means you’ll grow old alone?”

Spencer shrugged. “I know how to be alone. It’s not anything new to me.”

Max walked up to him. They were about the same height when he was sitting and she was standing. She gently cradled his face between her hands. “But you shouldn’t have to be, Spence. You don’t have to torture yourself waiting for someone who isn’t going to come around. And I’m not saying this just so you don’t break up with me. I mean it. I think this is insanity, and you deserve to have someone.”

He put his hands over hers. “I know. And thank you. For caring. For these past few months. I have truly had a lot of fun, and you’re an amazing woman. I just don’t want to waste any more of your time.”

She kissed his forehead. “You are never a waste of time. I’m disappointed obviously, because I do love spending time with you. But thank you for talking to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a breakup as mature as this.”

“Well that’s what you get for dating a 40 year old.”

She leaned her head back and laughed at that. Spencer looked up at her and smiled. She really was beautiful. And smart. And funny. And he was crazy for letting her go. But he was at peace with his decision. He knew it was the right thing to do.

“Wanna get some Thai food?”

“Yes! I’m starviiiiing!”

And that was that. The relationship was over, but their friendship remained, and for that, Spencer was grateful.

Chapter Text

“Hey, darling. You’re back surprisingly early.” Will leaned over to give JJ a kiss.

She returned it, and realised she felt guilty. He’s my husband. I shouldn’t feel guilty kissing him. It’s not like I’m cheating. Yet somehow, it still did.

“I was hoping to catch the boys before they went to bed, but from the silence I’m assuming I missed bedtime?”

“Yeah, I brought them to the park before dinner and that took it out of them. If you had told me -“

“No, no, it’s fine.” She smiled at him. Will was a great dad. She trusted him with her life. He had always taken care of her and the boys. That’s probably why this decision isn’t so cut and dry for me. He’s going to think it’s come from nowhere.

“You hungry?”

“That depends on what’s on offer...” Will smiled at her. Oh, shit. I hope he doesn’t take that to mean I’m gunning for sex because I really don’t think I can make that decision right now.

“I made some chicken alfredo, but if you’d rather something else we could just get something off UberEats.”

Whew. Sex issue averted. “Alfredo sounds amazing.”

They were sat across each other, making small talk while eating their dinner. It was comfortable. That was the description that JJ kept going back to. Comfortable. And what was wrong with that? She was fortunate to have that in her life. Her boys were secure, they were happy. What wouldn’t you do for your children? The point Emily brought up about custody crossed her mind. But what if he leaves? What if he gets so mad he moves back to New Orleans? How could I possibly keep my job and take care of the boys? What if he takes the boys with him?

The problem was, there were so many possible outcomes. Worse still, she had no clue how it might play out at all because its not like they’d been having issues and she had a clue from his behaviour as to how he’d react. Great. Now I’m profiling my husband. How’d I get into this mess?

Oh, that’s right. She hadn’t made a move on Reid when she realised how she felt, used Will as a distraction, then got pregnant. And the rest, as they say, is history.

They’d lapsed into a comfortable silence while her mind had been wandering. There it is again. Comfortable. Could I live with comfortable the rest of my life?

Her phone was ringing. “Sorry, I should probably take this.” Will just shrugged and starting to take their dishes away, while JJ headed into the living room to take the call.

Will heard the call end, and went looking for her when she didn’t return to the kitchen. He found JJ on the couch looking a little shocked.

“What happened? Is something wrong?” It took her a while to even realise he was speaking to her.

“No, everyone’s fine. Do you remember when I put my name down at the New Orleans field office for any potential job openings?” Will nodded. “Well, they just offered me the position to lead it.”

“Oh my God, that’s amazing JJ! It’s what we’ve always spoken about!” Will leaned over and gave JJ a hug, but pulled back slowly after a few moments when he didn’t feel her return it.

“I don’t understand, why aren’t you happier about this? It is a promotion, right? Better hours, moving out of the city, everything we want for our family?”

He was right. They had discussed this. Had both agreed it was what was best for their family. But she’d put her name down years ago - they had agreed that they would never move unless it was a promotion, and she just honestly thought it would never happen. Not to mention the fact that she had put her name down back when she thought she could accept loving Reid from afar.

“I just... I don’t think I’m done with the BAU...”

“What else could possibly be left for you to do there? JJ, I don’t understand. We agreed to this. Part of the reason why I’ve been so patient all these years is because you agreed that if they offered you a better position there, you would take it. Now you’re saying that was just a false promise to get my hopes up? To lead me on?”

“No! That’s not what I’m saying! Look, I meant it when I made that promise alright, but it’s been years and things change!”

“Well what’s changed?! Please, enlighten me, because from where I’m sitting I honestly have no clue what you’re talking about.”

“It’s not as easy as that, alright? It’s not like a list that I have prepared in my head that I can just read off to you.” The conversation was starting to get a lot more heated than any of the conversations they’d had recently. Do we only avoid conflict purely because I’m not around enough for us to realise that we don’t get along? That was a thought that had seriously been bothering her and this conversation was making her confront it.

“Why didn’t you tell me when you changed your mind?”

“Because I didn’t know I changed my mind! I’d honestly resigned myself to the fact that New Orleans was off the table. I put my name down when we were there while I was on maternity leave with Michael for God’s sake! And being offered the job today made me realise that I don’t think I want to leave D.C.!”

“Why? What is there for you here that you’d miss so much?”

Oh, his name was on her lips. She had to physically stop herself from blurting it out, and it made her feel nauseated. Spence didn’t deserve to be someone’s dirty little secret.

“Just please give me some time and space to think about this? I just need to think.”

Will did not look pleased at her request. But he wasn’t about to let this offer be forgotten.

“JJ - I want to move back to New Orleans. I am putting this out there so there is no doubt about it. I think this would be great for our family, and we would be happier there. I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but I really hope you snap out of it soon so that we don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity.”

“Snap out of it? Does it not matter at all what I want then? So are you telling me that if I’d never put my name down you wouldn’t have stuck by me all these years?”

“That’s not what I’m saying!”

“Well, it sure sounds like it from where I’m standing!”

The two of them just stared at each other. They were going in circles, and if this conversation continued it would just devolve into a screaming match where they just tried to outdo each other with hurtful words.

“Look, I can’t deal with this right now, OK?” JJ headed to the kitchen and started to put her coat on.

“What, you’re just running away?”

“No! This conversation isn’t going anywhere! I need to think, and supposedly that’s not allowed if I’m around you so I’m just going to go for a drive. Don’t wait up.”

“Whatever. I’m going to bed.”

They hadn’t had a fight like this in years. Was it a wake up call? JJ wasn’t sure. What she was sure about was where she was headed right now.

Chapter Text

There really was no reason for him to have gone home so late. Everyone else had left before 8pm. Which was rare. But I guess everyone else had a reason to go home. Even JJ. He sighed as he unlocked his door and stepped into his apartment.

“Why are you only getting home now? It’s nearly 11pm.”

His instinct was to reach for his gun, but he’d recognise that voice anywhere.

“JJ?”

“Yeah, sorry. Let myself in with your key when you didn’t respond to my knocks. I assumed the worst because I thought you had gone home early like the rest of us.”

“It’s alright, but I mean you could’ve texted or called...”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. Wasn’t thinking straight.” She looked like she’d been through the wringer.

“Are you ok?” He tentatively sat down next to her. She had gone home, and now she was here. Something had obviously happened. Didn’t take a profiler to figure that out.

“I got offered the job to lead the New Orleans field office.”

Spencer’s breath caught in his chest and he swore his heart stopped beating for a moment.

“Oh.”

“Will and I made this agreement a while back that if I got offered a promotion back in New Orleans that I’d take it. You know, better hours, better pay, take the kids out of D.C. ...”

“Oh.”

She looked up at that. “Oh? That’s all you have to say to this news?”

“If it’s what you think is best for the boys...”

“And you’d be ok with that?”

“I mean I’m not sure how I factor into that decision but I’ll try to make time to see Henry as much as I can...”

“Of course you factor in!” Spence was starting to piss her off as much as Will did, by doing the opposite of what Will did. Go figure.

“How?”

“What do you mean how?!”

“How do I factor in JJ? I’m a nobody in this equation.” He looked up at JJ with sad eyes.

“Don’t say that. Don’t you call yourself a nobody in my life.” She could feel herself on the brink of tears.

“Jennifer...”

“I love you, Spence. I love YOU.” And there go the tears. She hated that this conversation always made her cry.

He moved a little closer to her, and tucked her hair behind her ear. She leaned into his hand as he cradled her cheek.

“I know. But you made a promise to your husband. I know on some level you agree it’s the right thing for your boys. Will is a good man. You could do much worse for the rest of your life.”

“That’s not exactly the greatest pep talk to encourage me to stay with the guy.”

“Jenni-“

“I’m sorry. I know. I don’t expect you to ask me to leave him. I know you wouldn’t anyway.”

“What did you want from me then?”

She looked into his hazel eyes. Oh, how she loved seeing the light reflect of the gold flecks. She felt exposed in that moment. Raw. She leaned away from him and hugged her arms around herself.

“I guess I just wanted to see if you’d be upset if I went.”

She couldn’t look at him. After a while she wasn’t sure if he’d actually heard her because the silence was just dragging on. She waited as long as she could before looking at him.

He looked like a broken man. She saw his eyes fill up with tears.

“No, Spence, it’s ok, I was just being stupid let’s just forget-“

“There is not a moment of my life that I don’t want to spend next to you. Not one. There have been so many happy moments of yours that I have watched, wishing I knew what it would have been like had I been the one next to you. And every time, through your pregnancies, your wedding, seeing you with your family, the only thing that helped that pain in my ribs that I felt because I wasn’t good enough to deserve you was the thought that you were happy. That you were loved, that you were being treated with respect, and decency, and loyalty.”

“Spencer Reid, don’t you ever say that you aren’t good enough for anyone.”

“You said it yourself, my addiction got in the way. I was weak. If I had been stronger maybe things would have been different.”

“You weren’t weak! You didn’t have a choice when Hankel shot you up!”

“I had a choice after.”

He was right, but so was she.

“So did I, Spence. And unlike you, I wasn’t strong enough to just sit by alone and wait for you to be ready. If anybody fucked up, it was me.”

They just stared at each other. He blinked, and a tear ran down his face.

“You’re everything to me, Jennifer. Of course I’ll miss you when you go, my love.”

“When?”

“I think we both know it’s inevitable.”

No, she couldn’t take this. She didn’t even know why she had come here. But it definitely wasn’t meant to be a goodbye.

“I have to go.”

“JJ, it’s late, let me call you a cab or-“

She was already at the door. “It’s fine, I’m fine really, let’s just forget we had this conversation, ok?”

“Jennifer...”

She planted a smile on her face. “See you in the morning.”

She was gone before he could stop her.

It wasn’t until she got to the car that she realised he had called her his love. His love. Unable to control everything she was feeling in that moment, she let her head fall to her hands and just rode the wave, sobbing through her realisation that any decision she made would mean heartbreak, one way or another.

Chapter Text

She was absolutely dreading seeing Spence this morning, after the conversation they had the night before. She had driven straight to the office - she couldn’t go home, she couldn’t face explaining what had happened to Emily so the offer stay at her place was out of the question, and so the only place she could think of going was the office. Thank God for my go bag. She could change and nobody would be the wiser. Perfect cover.

She had spent the entire night thinking of what Spence had said. That it was inevitable that she leave him to give her sons a better life. What was wrong with the life they had here, anyway? The boys were happy. Will clearly wasn’t, as he had declared, and had only “put up” with D.C. while waiting for her to be offered a job in New Orleans. Mind you, Will’s not going to be happy either if I tell him I’m leaving him.

Emily was the first one in the office. She didn’t seem too surprised to see JJ there, and headed to her office after a customary good morning. JJ saw her look through some emails before coming down to the bullpen to get a cup of coffee. She perched herself on the edge of JJ’s desk as she sipped, and only started speaking once she had surreptitiously glanced around the room to make sure nobody else was there.

“I heard about New Orleans.”

Well, that was unexpected. “How? I just got the call last night!”

“I’m your unit chief, JJ - and this would be a promotion within the agency so I was informed. I wasn’t snooping.”

JJ groaned and laid her head on her desk.

“JJ?”

“Spence wants me to take it. Will wants me to take it. Don’t think I have much of a choice in the matter.”

“What? First of all - this is YOUR career. You decide what decisions you make. Your transfer to the Pentagon was taken out of your hands and we both know that wasn’t fair. Secondly, I can see why Will would want it but are you sure that’s what Reid said?”

“He said that it would be good for the boys, that I should keep the promise made to my husband, and that I was going to inevitably leave anyway.”

“Did you slap him?”

JJ barked a sarcastic laugh at that. “The first two reasons do lead to the third, don’t you think?”

“JJ - I know your situation is complicated. But we both know Reid isn’t going to make a move, he isn’t going to ask you to stay with him or to leave your family. A lot of that is down to his childhood and what he went through himself, but honestly I also think a lot of it is a fear that if or when you do make that sacrifice, that he won’t be ‘good enough’ as your partner.”

“He did kind of mention not being good enough last night. But he doesn’t get to decide that, Emily. He doesn’t get to just assume that he won’t be able to make me happy. He’s already done that and we’re not even together.”

“Exactly - but there were no pressures of a relationship. He’s probably built this up in his head for so long over the years that it’s taken on a life of it’s own.”

JJ nodded. She didn’t really have anything to say to that. It made sense.

After a moment, Emily continued. “Can I ask why you went to speak with Reid about this?”

JJ shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. Maybe on some level I thought that would be the encouragement he needed to make a move? Maybe I just wanted him to talk me out of it.”

“JJ... The one thing I know for sure is that he won’t do that.”

“I know, but it’s not fair. It’s not fair for this to be all on me. It’s not fair that the potential happiness of 4 other people rests on MY shoulders!”

She was right. It wasn’t fair. But taking this job in New Orleans wasn’t the solution. Emily was confident that doing so meant the breakdown of JJ and Will’s marriage - JJ would be away from Reid, in a city she didn’t want to be in, and with all that time at home all the cracks in their relationship would come to the surface. It wouldn’t be amicable, and the boys would suffer for it.

“Don’t take the job.”

“What?”

“Don’t do it, JJ. Yes, Will has been a good husband, but you don’t deserve giving up so much of what you love just to make him happy. And it would be just for him, because no matter how much your boys love New Orleans, you’d be taking them out of the only home they’d ever known. Away from their school, from friends. It’s a completely different ballgame when it’s permanent versus when it’s a holiday. Trust me. I moved so much as a kid. I hated it.”

Huh. Good point. Maybe my mistake was talking to people who were too emotionally invested to see this situation objectively.

“What do I tell Will?”

“You tell him exactly that. You’re not willing to give up your place in the BAU when the outcome of moving is unknown.”

“He’s not going to like that.”

“And you would have liked moving to New Orleans?”

“Well, he’s not in love with someone else.”

“You were in love with Reid before Will came into the picture.”

“That’s not as comforting as you think it is.”

“My point is that your feelings for Reid didn’t develop after you were married and because you were spending all this time together. They’ve always been there. You didn’t go looking for it while you were in a committed relationship. It’s a huge difference in my opinion.”

“What if he leaves and takes the boys?”

“JJ... We’ll fight. All of us. You’ve got absolute firepower behind you, trust me. You’re miserable. Even if nothing happens with Reid, you can’t go on like this. Will deserves to know too. He deserves a shot at happiness as well, don’t you think?”

“I haven’t been THAT bad a wife...”

“You know that’s not what I mean - he deserves someone who loves him.”

“I love him.”

“The way you love Reid?”

JJ shook her head.

“I don’t think I could love anybody the way I love Spence.”

“That’s your answer then.”

They heard the elevator just then, so Emily patted JJ on her shoulder and headed back to her office. JJ hadn’t bothered looking to see who it was until a brown paper bag was slid in front of her. She looked up to see Spence standing next to her.

“I thought you may have skipped breakfast, so I stopped by that cafe you like to get you an almond croissant.”

He would have had to have gone in the opposite direction of the office and then double back to get here. He could have gone to any cafe, there are a dozen on the way in. This is the guy who thinks he isn’t good enough?

His hand was still on the bag, so she put hers on it. “Thanks, Spence. You didn’t have to.”

He smiled sheepishly at her. “You deserve it.”

They stared at each other, hands touching, for just a moment too long before more agents arriving into the office burst the little bubble they were in.

You deserve so much more, Spence. I just don’t know if I’m strong enough.

Chapter Text

They had gotten a case, that day after her fight with Will. They weren’t away long, only two nights, but their communication was limited to texts about the kids and calls where JJ only spoke to the boys. Neither JJ nor Will had apologised to the other, and it looked more and more unlikely that was something that was going to happen. She dreaded heading home once the flight landed but she knew it had to be done. New Orleans was off the table for her and the sooner she told Will about it the better. Like ripping a bandaid off.

Spence hadn’t mentioned their conversation, not that she blamed him. She knew he was sensible enough to see that there was really no improving how it turned out. It’s not fair that this is all on me, though. But then again, she couldn’t hold it against Spence for being strong enough to hold out. He wasn’t the married one with two kids. Her mind wandered once again to how life would be now had Maeve survived. Spence would definitely already be a father, and this whole being in love with each other thing wouldn’t have played into it. Maybe that would have been the best thing to happen. But the fact was that it was pointless thinking about what could have been. She knew now that Spence wasn’t interested in anybody else. She wasn’t going to lie and say that knowing that didn’t make some part of her fall in love with him a little more. But she couldn’t make this decision out of a fear of Spence being alone any more than she could base in on the fact she felt like she owed Will. She had to make this decision for herself.

So, what did JJ want, when all was said and done? Her sons. Her boys were top of her list. But a future with Will had started to feature a lot less the more she asked herself that question. It was Spence she wanted to wake up to. Spence she imagined falling asleep next to. Would I feel this strongly for Will if he had been the one on the team and the person I had been through so much with? But then again I did go through a lot with him too. And I feel this strongly for Spencer even though there’s never been anything physical between us. Surely that would just enhance it?

She looked over at Spence, who was looking down at his book. He hadn’t turned a page in a while so she knew he was distracted. I wonder what he’s like in bed. She blushed as soon as the thought came to mind. She realised it had been nearly two weeks since her and Will had been together. There was a time when every day in between cases meant sex. But recently the gaps had started to get bigger and bigger. Was it just what happened after a certain amount of time together? Was it the kids? Or is it the fact that I’m in love with my best friend?

She felt a headache coming on. Her hair was tied back into a ponytail, so she reached for the hair tie and pulled it off, shaking her hair out. She looked up to see Spencer watching her intently. Well. It’s nice to know that there is physical attraction there. She knew he had dated more brunettes than blondes, and didn’t realise until just then how self conscious it made her feel. She knew he wasn’t shallow like other guys she’d encountered - who only cared about how she looked. I wonder if he knows I’m physically attracted to him. I honestly don’t think he’s ever realised how handsome he is. Will wasn’t that much taller than her, which had bothered him more than it had ever bothered her. But there was something about being hugged by Spencer that just made her feel safe. It was like he was surrounding her with love.

JJ’s mind wandered back to what might be awaiting her at home. Will wasn’t going to back down. Neither was she. She highly doubted he’d expect her to bring up a separation though. But it had to happen. Sooner rather than later, because she’d lose her nerve. The funny thing was the one person she wanted to speak to about this was the one person she couldn’t speak to about this. For all that Spence loved her, and she truly believed he did, if she asked him whether she should leave Will, his answer would be no. Every. Single. Time. It was exceedingly frustrating. She knew he was worried on some level about whether he “deserved her” but maybe part of it was also that he felt he couldn’t compete with the history that her and Will had. He was wrong - but it made sense that he would think that way.

Maybe it’s the fact I had kids with Will. She knew she’d said in passing a few times that she never thought she’d have kids again - she’d known for a while that she was done having kids. With Will. The thought of having kids with Spence... well it made her forget she was in her 40s and likely to be labelled a “geriatric mother”. But just imagining a mini Spence was enough to make her ovaries hurt. He deserved children. She knew he loved her children fiercely - but Spencer deserved a child of his own. He deserved to be there through the pregnancy and in delivery. He deserved to hold his child for the first time. We deserve it. After everything, we deserve it.

And that was that. She had resolved to leave her marriage. She looked around the jet wondering if anybody could notice. Occupational hazard being surrounded by profilers. She looked at Spence. She wondered how he would react when she told him. Would he be guilty? Happy? Both? She felt lighter than she had in a while. Since Mexico. When everything changed. She would never in a million years say that she was grateful for all that transpired and what Spence went through, but it was the wake up call she needed. If there was one silver lining, let it be this. Let it be us.

Filled with more determination than ever, JJ practically ran to her car after the jet landed. She’d heard Spence calling her name but she knew she had to get home before she lost her nerve. He’d understand as soon as she explained herself to him after. We’ll have all the time in the world.

Chapter Text

The house was quiet. That meant the kids were asleep. Good. She was hoping the conversation stayed civil but even when they had quiet disagreements she knew Henry and Michael could sense the unease. It would be much better if they had the conversation just between themselves first, without having to worry about either of the boys eavesdropping. She entered the house as quietly as she could, and could hear the TV on. I’d bet anything Will is in front of the TV with a beer in hand. More than a decade of being together had made her familiar to his habits. Let’s just hope he’s on bottle number one and not something like bottle number four.

“Hey.” He barely looked up in response, but she did get something that resembled a nod. “We need to talk.”

Will sighed. She didn’t see any other beer bottles around, which was promising. “Talk then.”

“I’m not taking the position in New Orleans.” Will didn’t flinch, he didn’t look surprised, he didn’t look like he was feeling anything in that moment. Her declaration was met with complete silence and as it dragged on she got more uncomfortable. “Will? Say something.”

“What do you want me to say? The decision’s been made. My opinion didn’t matter before, it won’t matter now.”

“It’s MY career.” It was something she’d been repeating to herself over and over. A mantra to make her remember that making this decision wasn’t selfish.

“It’s OUR family.”

“Will, taking the boys away from the only home they’ve ever known won’t be easy on them. Forcing me to give up a job I love won’t be easy on me. Please try to look at the bigger picture.”

“Look - you’ve made your decision. I don’t like it. It feels like a slap in my face and like everything I’ve sacrificed was for nothing. Don’t expect me to sit here and applaud it.”

“So what, you’re telling me if I hadn’t made that promise you wouldn’t still be here?”

“That’s not what I’m saying! But we had a deal!”

“A deal I made when I was hormonal after giving birth to our second child. A deal I never thought would come to fruition because it’s been years since I thought about it!”

They’d mastered the art of being angry and “shouting” without actually raising their voices so much it would wake the kids. JJ was really hoping they could both keep this up for the rest of the conversation.

“Say what you want about it now, it was still a commitment that I thought was important to you.”

She could see his point. As much as she was blindsided by the offer, he must have been euphoric.

“I’m sorry. I’m not making this decision to hurt you, Will. I just don’t want to leave D.C.”

He nodded. He looked tired. She felt bad, and thought maybe they could have the rest of this conversation another time. No. Like ripping off a bandaid. I might lose my nerve if I wait another day.

“Will... There’s something else.” It must have been something in the tone of her voice but he looked up at her then. Waiting for what was going to come next. “It’s about us. Our relationship.”

“What about us?”

“I think we need to have some time apart.”

“Hold on - where is this coming from? Because of the job offer?”

“No, it wasn’t that! Well, it wasn’t just that, but that did help me see that our visions of our future are pretty different.”

“So what - we hit one stumbling block and that means we’re over?”

“Will - how much does my job allow this relationship to work? Don’t you think it’s an issue that we only get along because we don’t spend much time together? That isn’t what being married is meant to be like!”

“There’s no right way or wrong way to be married JJ - there’s only what works for us! And this is working!”

“Not for me! I don’t want a marriage like this!”

“Well excuse me, I’m the one who wants you to have a normal job so that we can TRY to have a normal marriage!”

“It wouldn’t have worked!”

“How would you know JJ?! You’re the one refusing-“

“I know because you’re not the person I want to be married to!”

They’d abandoned their faux shouting voices and had given into actually raising their voices. But JJ hadn’t needed to shout what she just said to get her point across. Will looked like he had been slapped.

“Who is he?”

“Will - listen to me - I swear I haven’t cheated. There’s nobody else.”

“You wouldn’t have said that unless there was someone else. You’d have just said you don’t want to be married anymore. But you do want to be married. Just not to me. Your words, Jennifer.”

Fuck. I was meant to stay calm. So I wouldn’t say something like that. I can’t tell him about Spence. He wouldn’t believe me that the feelings existed before him, nor would he believe that we’ve never fooled around considering how much our jobs allows us to travel together.

The problem was that when anything happened between her and Spence, he would obviously know about it since the kids meant they had to maintain a relationship even after a divorce. So he’d figure it out anyway. She hated the position she was in. She hated that what she said next could change how people might view Spence.

“Will. I’ve never cheated. I swear.”

“Is there someone else?”

“It’s complicated.”

“How is it complicated JJ? How can it be complicated and yet you can swear you’ve never cheated!”

“Because I haven’t cheated!”

“I’m assuming you mean physically? Do you not think falling in love with another man is cheating too?!”

“It’s complicated!”

“So uncomplicate it for me! Or am I just expected to roll over and accept this decision like every other one you’ve made in this marriage!”

“I don’t expect you to roll over, I just don’t think that going into details is going to help, and we’re both just going to get hurt even more.”

“Don’t talk to me about being hurt when you’re the one breaking up this family.”

“Do you even know how difficult this decision is for me? Do you think I would take this decision lightly? I am so used to putting everybody else’s feelings before my own. And that’s gotten me to where I am now in life. The kids deserve to see us happy, truly happy, and not just making the best of the situation we’re in. Will, I love you. Truly I do. You mean the world to me. And I know that if we work hard at it we can be great coparents. I know you’re hurting. And I know this is unexpected. And I would be happy to discuss this with you more when we’ve both had some sleep, a good meal and lots of coffee in us. But the conversation isn’t going to be about convincing me to stay or convincing you that you’re better off without me. Which is what it’s going to turn into if we keep talking now.”

Will put the beer down on the coffee table. JJ wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. “I’ll sleep in the guest room. We’ll talk more tomorrow when the kids are in school.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”

“I’m not doing it for you. The boys deserve better than to be woken up by this.”

“Of course. Good night.”

He turned and walked away. It was going to be a long night, and she probably wasn’t going to get much sleep. JJ sighed and made her way to their bedroom, wondering if it was one of the last few nights she was going to be able to call it that.


As she predicted, JJ hadn’t got much sleep last night. She tossed and turn, trying to predict how the conversation with Will was going to continue. She kept reminding herself that it had to be done - but couldn’t help thinking that this wouldn’t be happening if the past two years had played out differently. Would I have jumped at the New Orleans job offer? The thought was unsettling. It didn’t make her doubt her feelings for Spence - that wasn’t it. It was the fact that she would have lived the rest of her like just making do, because it “really wasn’t that bad”. Yes, Will had been a great partner, and hadn’t given her cause to leave, but he wasn’t the reason she stayed. The boys were. I shouldn’t just stay because it’s “not that bad”. I should be with the person I never want to leave. And she knew exactly who that person was.

Her mind started to drift to Spence, and she felt a calm descend on her. He grounded her, yet also lifted her up when she needed it. She thought of his brown eyes, of how it would feel to run her fingers through his hair, and she felt the familiar twinges of desire. As tempted as she was to indulge in it, especially considering it would relax her even more, she thought of Will in the guest room and decided against it. Let’s just get this conversation over with.

She heard Michael start to stir, so headed downstairs to see him and start getting him dressed before sorting breakfast out. It was nice to spend time with the boys - and it ended up being just the three of them because Will didn’t surface. She was worried the boys might catch on but Henry only asked after him in passing and she said she was just letting him sleep in. I guess this is what mornings are going to be like if everything goes to plan. She hadn’t had as good a morning in a while - she realised that most of the time she did feel like she was intruding, Will had his way of doing things and it worked to get them out the door and since he was around more she had felt like she shouldn’t try to mess with it. But they’re my kids too. 

She dropped the boys off at their respective schools, and could hear Will in the kitchen as she was opening the door. Now or never. She steeled herself for whatever might be coming her way in the next few hours, and went into the kitchen. He looked like he hadn’t slept at all either, which made her wonder why he hadn’t come down to see the boys.

“I figured you might want some alone time with the boys this morning, and I didn’t think I could pull off acting aloof enough that they didn’t catch on that something was happening.”

“It’s ok, it was nice spending time with them. Wasn’t a problem at all.”

Will nodded. “Well, we have time now. No young ears to eavesdrop. Please enlighten me about the reasons why you want to break this family up.”

“I do not want to break this family up.”

“Well, from where I’m standing, asking your husband for a separation sure does sound like it. Please tell me all the ways I’ve been horrible.”

“I can’t.”

“What, scared to hurt my feelings? That ship has sailed, JJ.”

“No! Look, you haven’t done anything wrong. I can admit that. It’s part of the reason why we’ve gone on as long as we have - the boys being the main reason. But I can’t stay with you just because you’re not a terrible husband. We wouldn’t still be together if we hadn’t had Henry. We’ve made the best of the situation we’re in, and I’m not going to say it’s been terrible for me because it hasn’t. You’ve treated me well. I appreciate it. But I don’t want to stay with someone for those reasons.”

“So who is it you’ve found that you want to be with for all the ‘right’ reasons?”

“Will...”

“Tell me the truth JJ! You don’t just wake up one morning and realise you want to leave a happy marriage for no reason!”

“It’s complicated!”

“You keep saying that, and yet you’re willing to do all this so it must not be very complicated in your head! You owe me the truth! After everything!”

“I don’t OWE you anything!”

“You’re right. You don’t. But we both know there’s more to this, and I think full disclosure is required considering the circumstances.”

“You don’t understand - you’re going to jump to conclusions and you’re going to assume things, and that’s not fair. You won’t believe me anyway.”

“Who is he, JJ?”

She knew she had to be truthful. She knew she had to tell him. But she also knew he was likely to think Spence had been less than honourable, even though he had been the one practically begging her to stay with Will. But if she didn’t tell him, he’d figure it out for himself if or when her and Spence eventually found their way to each other. And it might be so much harder to explain herself then that it would be now.

“Spence.”

Silence. That one name stopped all the shouting and the two of them just stared at each other. She could see a myriad of emotion across Will’s face - from confusion to anger to suspicion. She just hoped he’d give her time to speak.

“How long has it been going on?”

“Will, nothing’s been going on. I swear upon our children.”

“Oh right, so I’m just expected to believe you’re walking away from this relationship when nothing has actually happened?”

“We’ve never done anything!”

“I gather you mean physically? But you checked out of this marriage emotionally a long time ago? Don’t you think running to HIM instead of ME is cheating?!”

“You don’t understand!”

“No YOU don’t understand! You spend more time with him than you do with me! I don’t know what’s gone on while you’re working a case! Why should I believe either of you has acted decently?”

“Will. You know Spence. You know him. Don’t let this cloud your judgement of him, I’m begging you. He doesn’t know I’m doing this. He doesn’t want me to do this.”

“Then why are you?!”

“Because I just want to make a decision for me. I’m so sorry. I know that sounds selfish. But ever since I got pregnant with Henry I just feel like I’ve been making decisions for him, and then it was for him and Michael. And I don’t regret ANY decision I’ve made. I don’t regret one moment I’ve spent with you. You’re so important to me, Will. I know you’ll always be a part of my life and that makes me so happy. And yes, I’m making this decision even though I don’t actually know if I have a future with Spencer. And that’s ok. Because we both deserve to have a chance to be with someone who loves us for us, and not because we’re the parent of their children.”

Will looked a little deflated after that. “If you hadn’t gone back to the BAU this wouldn’t be happening...”

“Will... I was in love with Spence before I met you. He was my first love. You were just meant to be a distraction because he wasn’t in the right place for me to do anything. And then Henry happened and I knew I couldn’t contemplate a future with Spence anymore.”

“So what changed JJ? I don’t understand. You’re saying I haven’t been horrible, you’re saying Spencer doesn’t want you to do this, you’re saying you knew you couldn’t be with him once the kids came...”

“Mexico happened. And I was faced with what my future would look like if I didn’t have him in my life.”

“You’ve been lying to me for three years?”

“I’ve been lying to myself for three years. I’ve been trying to go on but I just can’t anymore.”

“And has he known this about you this whole time? Is this why you’re ‘best friends’?”

“Spence had absolutely no clue until a few months ago.”

“You expect me to believe he had no clue for all this time?”

“I told you, I put it out of my mind. And do you honestly think Spence is the kind of guy who would believe someone was into him?”

Will snorted. “No. He’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t believe it even if it was right in front of him.”

“He’s a good guy, Will. Please don’t hold it against him. Please.”

“You can’t expect me to be happy about this?”

“Will, I’m not happy about this! I’m not happy that someone I love is hurt by something I am choosing to do! I know you think it’s selfish, heck, I think it’s selfish! But I need to do this. I need to do this before I start to resent you, or the boys, because I wake up one morning and realise that I’ve stopped living my life for me.”

“So what does this mean for this family?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, you need to know. I’m not stringing the boys along for weeks just because you don’t want to confront the truth.”

JJ didn’t think that comment was very fair on her, but she chose to let it slide. He’s hurting right now, and he could have said much worse. Look at the positives, JJ.

“I’m assuming I’m expected to keep sleeping in the guest room.”

“No, it’s ok, I’ll sleep in there.”

“I already slept there last night, would be stupid to swap.”

JJ shrugged. “Whatever you want.”

“I’m not getting anything I want.”

Don’t react, JJ. He’s hurting. Don’t react.

“Is it ok if we discuss this more later? I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m feeling drained right now.”

“Why are you asking me? My feelings don’t matter.

JJ looked at her husband and knew they would get nowhere at the moment. He was baiting her into another screaming match, and as much as he thought that might make him feel better, they’d both end up feeling worse at the end of it. She was trying very hard to remind herself that this wasn’t who Will was. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was actually just now seeing the real Will LaMontagne Jr.

Chapter Text

JJ was lying in bed, trying to get herself to fall asleep so she was a little rested before she had to leave to pick the boys up. She was feeling wired though, and didn’t think sleep was going to be her friend. There was adrenaline running through her - she wasn’t excited about the prospect of a separation and likely divorce of course, but she couldn’t believe she’d actually done it. She stood up for herself, for something that was purely for her. It made her feel good. It also made her feel terribly guilty and wondered if her kids were going to be messed up from this whole situation but she was trying not to focus on that. She’d make sure this was as amicable as possible. She’d make sure the boys got all the help they needed.

That didn’t mean she’d just bend over backwards and agree to anything Will asked for though. She knew there was a chance that might happen. She was terrified he might use her job against her and somehow get full custody. It was literally her worst nightmare. She wanted to keep telling herself that Will wouldn’t do that, but the fact was that she had absolutely no clue how he was going to react. She’d come to realise that she didn’t really like doing things unless she had at least a rough idea of the outcome. She was completely blind here, unfortunately.

She could hear Will walking around. She wanted to go downstairs but didn’t really want to bump into him and speak some more. She wanted to call Spence, to tell him what had happened, to hear his voice, but she knew if she did that they might get into an argument. She knew what she told Will was the truth. She wasn’t doing this to be with Spence - there had been no guarantee from him that a divorce would mean he’d try to make a life with her. He was vehemently against it. No - she had to prove both to Will and Spence that she was making this decision for herself. Unfortunately her job likely meant that Will was never going to believe that they weren’t up to something while away on their cases.

They had the day off today, then it was the weekend. Knowing her luck, they wouldn’t get called away on a case so she’d have to spend the entire weekend around Will. She couldn’t think of anything she wanted more than to spend time with her sons, but she knew Will would want to talk more and also to tell the boys. She actually felt that he was pushing that as a way to try to talk her out of doing this. But the boys would be fine. Maybe not at first, but they would be.

She wondered what Spence was doing. She missed him. She always missed him. Thinking back, even during the times when she thought things were going great with Will, there were certain things that would happen that she wouldn’t share with anyone but Spence, because she knew he’d understand. So if something happened on their days off, she would file it away until she saw him next. Sure, she could have just called or texted him. But there was just something about how he listened so attentively, the way his face would light up when something amused him, how confused he’d be when he didn’t understand a reference...

JJ sighed. She definitely wasn’t going to get any sleep. Maybe a run would help. She got changed into her workout clothes and caught a glimpse of her wedding ring. It made her pause for a second. Should she take it off now? After telling the boys? After filing? After it’s finalised? Was there a rule book for these things? Realising she was slowly getting more frustrated she shook her head and made her way downstairs.

Will was in front of the television. Beer in hand. It was just past noon. JJ sighed. “Hey, I’m gonna go for a run.”

No response. Will didn’t even blink.

“Um, do you wanna come with?” Maybe that might break the tension.

“Are you sure I’m allowed?”

“Well that’s a stupid question considering I just asked you, isn’t it?”

He looked up then. “Don’t worry. Me and my stupid questions are just fine staying home, darling. Enjoy your run. Or is that a euphemism for something else?”

“What?”

“Send Spencer my regards.” Will looked away.

“For fucks sake - I was just going to go on a run to clear my head but you know what? Forget it. Happy?”

“Fucking delighted.” JJ heard Will mumble that under his breath. She rolled her eyes and walked into the kitchen.

I don’t know if this is how he’s acting just because it’s fresh now, or if this is how he’s going to be throughout. Is this how he acts when he doesn’t get his way? JJ wasn’t sure, because she generally just let him do what he wanted because of the guilt that inevitably dogged her since she was away so much, but also because she was too tired to insist on getting her way. Well, I’m not giving up on this decision. She knew that a divorce could potentially be a long process, and Will could throw a curveball at any time, but she thought if maybe she could get him to agree to a suitable custody agreement as soon as possible that she could breathe a little easier. She walked back to the living room.

“Can we talk about the boys?”

“What about them?” Will took a swig of his beer.

“I want to minimise the impact of this on them as much as possible. If we can keep things civil and amicable that would help.”

Will looked around the room dramatically. “Well, I don’t see either of them here so I guess I don’t have to either of those two things right now.”

JJ clenched her fists. “Can we please just talk about what we’re going to tell them?”

“Hmmmm. How about ‘mum is in love with Uncle Spence and wants to go start a new family with him’? Sound about right?”

“You son of a -“

“Or should we lie to them the way you’ve been lying to me all these years?”

“I’m sorry! Will if I had known when I met you that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have allowed us to keep going!”

“Oh so what, now you regret the kids too?”

“Don’t you DARE say that to me! I could never regret them! I’ve put aside everything I wanted for myself to give them a good life! A happy life! And I just thought they’d be fine, it wouldn’t affect them but they need to see their mother advocate for herself, Will! They need to see that it’s ok to make mistakes and that they can’t be scared to admit it! Please, I know you love them more than anything, and that I feel the same way too. I know you know that. And I know you’re hurting, and you’re angry, and you have every right to be. But please Will, don’t drag them into this mess. Don’t make it so they have to pick sides. Don’t let this be some push and pull where we weaponise our kids’ love for us. Please don’t do that.”

JJ was crying. She couldn’t help it. Those were her greatest fears. She knew that if an outsider tried to hurt the boys, that her and Will would band together and be relentless about saving them. They’d done it before. But if the boys had to pick between her or Will, she knew they’d suffer for it. It wasn’t that she was scared that they would pick him if given the choice, but no child should have to choose between two loving parents.

“I’m sorry.” She looked up when Will said that. She hadn’t expected it.

“JJ - I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I was totally prepared for you to tell me that you were going to turn down the New Orleans position, but I had no idea about everything else. Not a clue. I really hope I don’t have to explain to you how much this sucks for me right now. I thought we were good. I was wrong. I’m sitting here thinking how the hell I missed it? Thinking maybe if I had just paid a little more attention to us that this wouldn’t be happening. Then I get mad because it feels like I’m making excuses for you and all I want to do is lash out because surely if a profiler didn’t want me to know something I wouldn’t know it, right? They know the right things to say, the right expressions to use...”

“Will -“

“Let me finish please. Then I feel mad for thinking that of you because I love you, JJ. And I keep going back and forth between anger and sorrow and love and confusion and it’s just a lot for me to take. It’s not even been 24 hours. I’m not saying there’s a set amount of time that you need to give me, and I’m sorry I’ve acted like a dick at times, but honestly? I can’t promise it won’t happen again because I just don’t know how to deal with all of this right now. I’m not asking for a free pass to be hurtful. I know talking about dragging the boys into this crossed the line. And I appreciate you calling me out on it because that’s not the kind of father I want to be. There’s a part of me that wants to be able to show the boys that we can get through this with dignity and it doesn’t have to be a shitshow, but it’s so fresh. The wound is festering and it hurts and I just need to wrap my head around it all.”

Wow. She hadn’t expected that. “So where does that leave us? The boys are going to realise something is going on.”

“How about this - if they ask, we’ll say we’re going through some things. But if they don’t, we just leave it until we’ve both had time to deal with this a little and have clearer heads.”

That sounded fair. JJ nodded in agreement.

“Are you going to tell Reid?”

She was surprised he had asked her that, and thought it over for a minute. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh? Why not? Isn’t that the point of this?”

JJ sighed. “No, Will. It isn’t. I know you don’t believe me but I’m not doing this because I know I have Spence waiting for me. I actually don’t know that at all. I have no clue how he’d react to this news. He might feel so guilty and just pull away. He’ll never be able to face the boys if he thinks he’s the reason for their parents getting divorced. I’m doing this because it’s not fair on you that I can’t give you all of me. It’s not fair on either of us. I know we can coparent. I just can’t be your wife. And it’s not because of the kind of partner that you are. Like I said, you’ve always treated me well. But we love who we love. How easy life would be if the love of my life was also the father of my children. But life isn’t easy. Sometimes it really sucks.”

“He’d be stupid not to run to you.”

“He wouldn’t be Spence if he didn’t feel guilt over this.”

“So what’s the plan?”

“We can’t tell anybody before the boys, Will. They deserve to know first. Once that happens and we’ve figured out our new normal, then maybe I’ll let people know. But until then I think this is a family matter for us to deal with privately.”

She stuck her hand out to him. “Deal?”

He looked at her for a long time. Studying her face as if looking for some solution. Finally, after clearly not finding what he was looking for, he put his hand in hers.

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

JJ was tired. They’d managed to get through the weekend without the boys asking them anything, but she was sure Henry was starting to get suspicious. Her and Will hadn’t really spoken much since their “truce”, she imagined he was tired as well. They were both trying to deal with all the emotions their conversations had triggered, while undoubtedly also making plans for the next time they were going to discuss it. She knew it would happen soon, and she was actually hoping for a case so she could put some proper thought behind what she wanted her new normal to be.

She was driving into Quantico after dropping the kids off at school, and realised she was nervous. She still wore her wedding ring, but would someone be able to figure it out? Would Spence? He was generally quite clued into her emotions, and seemed to have sixth sense with figuring out when she wasn’t happy. It wasn’t unhappiness she was feeling though, it was more like anxiety and trepidation for the future. She was anxious to see Spence - she’d focused on the boys exclusively the past weekend, which had been amazing, but knew just seeing Spence would bring her a little comfort. Help her feel a little more grounded.

He wasn’t in the office when she got there, which was a little weird. She got settled into her desk after greeting the others and got up to make herself a cup of coffee. She saw him walk in out of the corner of her eye as she was pouring her cup, so she made one for him too. As she was walking closer to his desk she noticed he looked like he had a rougher weekend than her. Did he sleep at all? Now she was worried.

“I would say good morning but you look like you haven’t had a minute of sleep all weekend.” She put his coffee on his desk.

“My mother didn’t have a good weekend.”

“Spence, I’m so sorry.” She wished she could do more to comfort him in that moment, but they were in the middle of the bullpen. They’d hugged each other here many times before but this just felt like they needed more privacy. She tapped on his hand to get his attention and nudged her head towards the door to hint that he should follow her. He got up, and she walked down the corridor to get to her former office, which had basically been converted into storage. They’d have all the privacy they needed.

“What happened?”

“Not anything we didn’t expect to be honest, but just because I knew it would come doesn’t make it any easier when it did come, you know? The clarity she’s had these past few months have just started to wane. I’m trying my best to spend as much time with her as possible.”

“You know if you tell Emily I’m sure she’ll let you take a couple of weeks off.”

“I know, it’s just not the right time yet. I don’t want to do that now, then realise at the end of those few weeks that I actually need a few more. I’ve spoken to the doctors there about the timeline and we’ve agreed on when I’ll do that - so until I get that call I think the best thing for me to do is to keep going as normal.”

“Is there anything that I can do?” JJ felt so helpless. She’s always felt helpless when it came to Diana because she wished there was more she could do for both of them. Diana loved her son so fiercely, and had raised an amazing man in spite of everything the world had thrown at her. Sometimes this job made her feel like there was no more good in the world, that there was much wrong with it, but Diana was always a good reminder about how you could overcome it to the best of your abilities.

“You’re doing it already. You always do.” He gave her a sheepish smile. Oh God, he has no clue what those dimples do to me. Get your head out of the gutter, JJ! She looked away quickly and sipped on her coffee.

“How was your weekend?” The question made her choke on her coffee. She knew she should have expected it, she just really wished she could have lied to someone else first before Spence.

“It was alright, we stayed home mostly. Just spent some time with the boys. It was nice to have three days uninterrupted.”

She could feel him looking at her. She knew she shouldn’t just avoid eye contact but if she caught his eye she felt the dam might break and she would blurt everything out. She’d made a promise to Will though, and the boys did deserve to know before anybody else.

“You know, after you were shot, my mum’s new meds kicked in. I was so excited, but then it hurt so much more to find out it was temporary. I was actually facing a future without her. And I realised that so much of my identity relied on being her son, and I didn’t know who I would be after she passed.”

She looked at him then. She didn’t know what to say to that.

“I also told her about what you had said, and admitted that I didn’t know how to be a Spencer that wasn’t hoping for a future with you.”

“Spence...”

“She told me she didn’t want to die knowing that I was waiting around for you instead of trying to be happy with someone else. Not that she doesn’t love you JJ, you know she does, but just the circumstances, you know? She wanted to know that I was going to put myself out there, that I would try to make a life for myself. Find someone, maybe have some kids, who knows?”

“I want that for you too. You know that.”

“I do know that. I want that for myself.”

Ouch. That stung. “To move on from me?”

“I thought so. So I started therapy, and Max literally fell in my lap. And I tried. Truly tried. But it felt like the more I tried the more my heart pulled me towards you. That doesn’t stop me from wanting a family of my own, though.”

“You will have that Spence.” Just give me some time, please. 

”I guess I do have it in a way. I have Henry, and Michael, and Hank. I still have you in my life for the time being.”

“I turned down New Orleans.” She could tell him that much.

“What? JJ, why would you do that?”

“Because it’s not where I’m meant to be.”

“But it’s the right decision to make!”

“For who? For you? To make it easier for you to move on and have your own family? For Will? Because I’m guilty that I’m not in love with my husband so I move back to his hometown and give up everything? How would it have been the right decision for me?!”

“Because we can’t go on like this!”

“Like what?!”

“Stolen moments at the office, and on the jet, and in the corridor of our hotel!”

“We’ve done nothing wrong!”

“Yet!”

He was right. They wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves on this. It was different before they had decided to be honest with each other. It was easier to lie to themselves. It was so much harder knowing the person you wanted, wanted you just as much. But she’d known all of this. It was why she had made the decision to speak to Will that weekend. Now she was rueing the fact that she hadn’t been strong enough to actually make some concrete plans and decisions and tell the boys. The problem was she knew that breaking the news to Spence would have to be delicate as well - she had to make sure he didn’t feel so much guilt that he just completely pulled away from her.

“Spence, please. I don’t want to rehash this argument. I spoke to Will, and he agreed it wasn’t the right thing for us. It’s risky to pull the kids out of the only home they’d ever known, and on top of that we both know I’d be happier with the BAU. Overall it was the right decision for us to make for our family.”

That seemed to calm him down a little. “Will agreed to this?”

JJ nodded. “He wasn’t ecstatic obviously, but after I explained the reasons behind my decision he agreed that it was the right thing to do.” That was embellishing the truth a little, but she did what she had to do. “Spence... It was my decision to make. I really hope you can respect that.”

“I do. I’m sorry, I know I have no right.”

“You have every right.”

He shrugged. “If you say so.”

There was something that he had said that she kept replaying over and over.

“Spence... Is this really that terrible for you?”

He looked at her puzzled - he clearly had no clue what she was talking about.

“Earlier you said we can’t go on like this - what did you mean by that?”

He sighed. “It’s just a lot at once I guess. I love being with you, but then I’m crippled by guilt as well. I try to stay away, but it hurts to miss you so much. I know some people might say I have nothing to feel guilty for since we haven’t actually done anything - but surely telling each other we’re in love with each other is doing something wrong since you’re married? It’s just so much positive and negative emotions at the same time.”

“Oh. Am I making it worse somehow?”

“It’s not anything you’re doing - it’s just the situation we’re in.”

She nodded.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know. We’re both constantly sorry, Jennifer. Sorry we love each other, sorry we weren’t stronger in the past, sorry for how we feel now...”

“I know, I’m sor-“

He looked up at her with a smirk when she stopped short.

“Shut up.”

He laughed at that. She jokingly shoved him out of the way as she walked out of her old office, and heard him following along behind her, still sniggering to himself.

It’s these moments. The ones where we disagree, and argue, and yet can go our separate ways without being hurt, without having to spend hours apologising for what we’ve said, walking on eggshells until the other has managed to let it go. These are the moments that prove to me I’m making the right choice. Just give me time, Spence. We’ll get there in the end.

 

Chapter Text

They hadn’t gotten a case. Spence was sitting on his couch, contemplating what to have for dinner. The only thing he seemed to do when they didn’t have a case. He didn’t have much of an appetite, so decided to abandon that thought process for a little bit. He thought back to his conversation with JJ earlier that day. He had never meant to tell her any of that, to be honest he never thought it would be relevant. But something felt off about her, and he couldn’t quite put her finger on it. He’d obviously seen her wedding ring, and he knew she was still staying at home with Will and the boys, so he didn’t think it was anything to do with that. But it wasn’t something she was comfortable telling him about. Yet, anyway.

He had honestly thought she was going to take the New Orleans job. He could see her points for not doing it of course, and he respected them. But he couldn’t help feeling an enormous amount of guilt because he knew no matter how much she denied it, that his presence in her life had factored into her decision. He knew it, without a doubt, because it would have factored into his own decision had it been him offered a position that would take him away from her. But he was single. He wasn’t married. He didn’t have kids... and that was the kicker wasn’t it? He didn’t feel guilty about it because he was taking the kids away from a better future, and as much as he liked Will he obviously didn’t value Will’s happiness over JJ’s. The reason he wanted JJ to take the position was because he wouldn’t feel this guilt weighing over him like he is now. It would have sucked, and hurt, and he would have missed her - but he wouldn’t be carrying guilt around constantly like he is now.

He thought about a world where he could be with JJ. Not the hypothetical worlds he had thought of in the past where they made different choices and got together before Will, or before the boys. But the current world - which would involve JJ walking away from her family. Would he be able to do that? The guilt would still be there. He couldn’t be with JJ if he couldn’t face her boys. That was nonnegotiable. But how could he NOT be guilty? What would Henry think? He was old enough to put things together - would his godson blame him? Would he blame his mum?

Spencer groaned. He was just so close to everything - maybe it would be easier if he wasn’t. But Henry was his godson. He’d thought a lot about why JJ had chosen him as godfather since she confessed her feelings to him. He realised it was a way for her to keep him in her life, but a little hopeful voice in his head liked to chime in with “maybe, just maybe, she did that because a small part of her had hoped she would have had kids with you”.

He wondered what JJ was doing. What was her home life like now? He assumed it went on as normal, and honestly thinking about that hurt him. Here he was, alone on his couch, while JJ was probably on hers. With Will. Fuck. He never used to do this. Everything changed, and it was like all his feelings for her had been magnified because they were actually relevant. It wasn’t unrequited. It was returned in full measure. And he wanted it. He wanted her. He shook his head, knowing he’d never get to sleep unless he got his mind off her. He made his way to the bathroom. A hot (or cold depending on where my mind goes) shower should help.


JJ, Will, and the boys were sitting around the table having dinner. She had planned on speaking to Will while the boys were having their quiet time after eating, and she was nervous. Which was clearly obvious to everybody because the general mood was pretty tense. This isn’t good for any of us. The quicker we get this started, the quicker we can work on whatever issues might pop up in the boys. And she knew there would be. Particularly because it wasn’t just a divorce, but eventually she was going to be in a relationship with Spence. She was most concerned for Henry - he had friends whose parents had divorced, he had seen the fallout from messy ones where the kids suffered. It’s inevitable his mind would drift to those examples. Thing is none of those mums ended up with their kid’s godfather.

“You done?” She looked up at Will. She looked down at her plate and realised she’d barely eaten. She could feel Henry looking at her.

“Yeah, I am. Sorry - must have eaten too many snacks at work.” Will didn’t respond, and just took the plates away.

“Why don’t you boys go have your quiet time?” Michael ran off to play with his toys but Henry still just stared. She gave him a little smile and eventually he walked off, probably to read a book. He loved reading.

“Will?” His back was to her, while he was at the sink with the dishes. He wasn’t washing any of them. He was just standing there.

“You want to speak to them, don’t you?” He didn’t sound too happy about it.

“I told myself that if I didn’t get a case today that we would have to. Henry is starting to realise something is going on, I don’t want him stressing out about this.”

“You don’t think he’d be stressed if we told him we were getting a divorce?”

“He’d know what the problem was, Will. It’s better than not knowing and his mind wandering.”

Will couldn’t deny the truth in that. “What do we tell them?”

“That we’re separating. That it isn’t their fault. That we’ve grown apart but are going to remain friends. That we’ll always be a family.”

“Will we?”

“What?”

“Will we always be friends? Will we always be a family?”

“Yes! Will, I love you. I’m not just saying that. You mean so much to me. You’ve brought so much joy into my life, and I don’t regret any time we’ve spent together. Just because I don’t see a future with us doesn’t mean I want to forget the past.”

He turned around to face her. He looked so sad. It broke her heart. She knew this wasn’t easy for him. If the roles were reversed she’s sure she would be just as hurt. But she also knew that he would move on, and he would find someone. She wasn’t about to say that right now though.

“You know, a part of me was hoping you’d get a case so I could delay this. I thought maybe you’d come back and say you made a mistake or something. But at the same time I didn’t want you to get a case because then you’d be alone with him.”

“Will... Don’t make Spence the villain. Please. He doesn’t spend his time declaring his love and bugging me to leave you. To be honest the only time we really get to speak to each other is on the flight on the way back, and even then one or both of us are generally asleep.”

“Doesn’t stop my mind from wandering.” Will shrugged. “Should we go tell them?”

JJ nodded. They made their way to the living room, and Will went to get the boys. All four of them sat on the couch, Henry between Will and JJ, Michael on JJ’s lap. She was the one who had wanted to do this, and yet, now she found herself unable to say anything. Henry was looking back and forth between her and Will, clearly agitated. She looked at Will, silently pleading for him to start the conversation.

“Boys, I know you have probably realised that Mum and Dad have been acting a little weird. So we just thought we’d sit you down to speak to you as a family.”

“Is one of you dying?”

“What?! Henry, why would you think that?!”

“Well Mum has been really quiet and she hasn’t been eating and when Joey’s mum got sick before she died he said that’s what she was like!” 

JJ could see that Henry was on the verge of tears - he must have been worried about this for a few days, and it broke her heart that he hadn’t said anything to her.

“Henry, sweetheart, it’s not that. The two of us are quite healthy at the moment.” She hugged him close to her.

“Promise?” His reply was muffled because they were holding onto each other so tightly.

“I promise that the two of us will do whatever we can to make sure we’re around to see your children’s children.” She let him go and kissed his forehead.

“What do we need to talk about then?” She felt a little calmer after Henry’s outburst, so felt more comfortable answering his question.

“We want you boys to know that we love you more than anything in the world. We love our family. The thing is, sometimes, no matter how much us grownups want to make things work, Mums and Dads just kind of... drift apart. Which doesn’t mean they don’t love each other anymore, or that they love their kids any less. It just means that they don’t think they can stay married, and live together, because it just isn’t making them very happy anymore.” She looked up at Will. She knew there was a chance that he might chime in about not wanting this, but she was really hoping he wouldn’t. Will looked away from her.

“Are you getting a divorce?”

Will answered before she could. “Yeah, buddy. That’s what we’re telling you.”

“But I don’t want to move!”

“Why do you think you’re moving?”

“Because that’s what happened to Sofia!”

Will and JJ looked at each other then. Sofia was a friend of Henry’s whose parents had gotten divorced, and her mum had gotten full custody and moved to San Diego. JJ felt a little relieved about turning down New Orleans now, but Henry had just made it quite obvious he didn’t want to go anywhere. She could see the realisation dawn on Will - the only reason Henry would say that was if he thought there was a chance that Will might take them to New Orleans. Well, hopefully this means I don’t have to worry about him getting full custody and moving back home.

“We’re not moving. I know you’re settled here, and as much as I would love to live in New Orleans - your happiness is more important to me. And like Mum said, we will always be a family. Even if Mum and I don’t live in the same house, it doesn’t change how much we love you, or each other. You boys will always be the most important things in our lives.”

“What’s going to happen now?”

“Well, Dad and I haven’t really figured that out yet. I’ll probably find somewhere else to live temporarily and you boys and Dad will stay here like you normally do when I’m on a case. When I’m not on a case maybe you could come stay with me? But we still need to work a lot of the details out. We don’t have to rush into anything, your dad is staying in the guest room for the time being.”

“But we promise you buddy, we will do whatever it takes to make this as easy on the two of you as possible, and we will make sure that both Mum and Dad still get to see you guys as much as we already do.” It was a load off her shoulders hearing Will say that. She was so grateful.

They were all silent for a moment. Michael looked up at them then, curled one arm around her neck and reached for Will’s. He leaned in, surrounding Henry in a group hug. “I love you Mummy and Daddy and Henry!”

Will could feel his heart crumbling. He was glad this had gone relatively well, but at the same time it felt like the end of a chapter that he thought would never, ever end.

“We love you too, buddy.”


They tucked the boys into bed after that, and made their way back to the living room. JJ went to pour herself a glass of wine, and grabbed a bottle of beer for Will while she was there. He thanked her when she passed it to him, and she made herself comfortable on the other side of the couch.

“Will?”

“Hmmm?”

“Thank you.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “For not saying a lot of things that you could have in that conversation.”

“To be honest, if we had been speaking to anybody else I probably would have. But the boys? They don’t deserve that. It’s going to be tough enough without you and me badmouthing each other, right?”

“Right.” She smiled at him. It felt like they had turned a corner.

“I do have something to ask you though.” It was JJ’s turn to raise her eyebrows.

“You’re probably going to think I have no right to ask this, and you might get mad, but I honestly think it’s the best thing for all of us.”

“What is it?”

“I know we’re looking to get a quick and cheap divorce by agreeing to the terms now, and working together. I want it to go like that, and that’s still going to take what - two months? And I’m not sure how long after before we sort out a permanent living situation or whether that would be in the same amount of time.”

“Will - what do you want to ask me?”

“Don’t rush into anything with Spencer.”

“What?” She wasn’t expecting that.

“You heard me.”

“Is that a threat?”

“No - its not a threat. You’re an adult. I can’t actually stop you. But I’m trying to think about what’s best for the boys, and for you too, JJ. How can you go straight into another relationship after ending a long term one?”

She didn’t want to tell him that in some ways it felt like she was already with Spence. That it wouldn’t be a huge change. But that would just add to his suspicions that they had done more than what she’d describe. He was correct about one thing though, JJ didn’t think he had the right to ask her this.

“Will, I appreciate you speaking to me about this. I wouldn’t do anything that I felt would harm the kids. I understand your concern for them, and one of the things that I thought we should discuss is introducing the kids to our future significant others. I wouldn’t do it until you were comfortable with me doing it and with the person being around our kids - and I would hope you would return that courtesy. But as for Spence being in my life in another capacity - that can happen and obviously should happen before the kids know about him, should we be together. And while I’m sure Spence wouldn’t be comfortable with anything until the divorce is finalised, I don’t think you have a right to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do in regard to my personal life.”

“I’m not telling you what to do JJ, I’m just concerned. I just think you should take some time for yourself.”

“Time for myself that I wouldn’t have had if we had stayed married. You weren’t concerned then.”

“Yes I realise that! That’s why I’m saying take the time while you have the opportunity!”

“Will - I had opportunities with Spence that I let pass me by because I thought we would always have the time. I’m 42. I’ve been waiting since I was in my 20s. I know what opportunity I’m going to take as soon as I can.”

“You know what they call it when someone goes straight from one relationship to another? A rebound. Is that what you want Spence to be?”

“What do you care what Spence is to me?!”

“Because the kids need stability! And as much as it pains me it would be better for them if this relationship you want so much turns out to be a successful one, and I’m just trying to give my two cents about how to make it happen!”

She could see his point about that, but Will didn’t know Spence the way he did. Will didn’t know what her and Spence shared. And that’s the way it’s going to stay because I’m sure as hell not telling him anything.

“Will, thank you for your concern. But I think I got this handled. The boys will always be my priority, so don’t you worry about that.” She got up. “I think I’ll finish this glass in bed. Good night.”

“JJ...”

“I’m tired, Will.” He needed to know her personal life wasn’t up for discussion.

“Ok. Good night.”

She walked past him and walked up to her bedroom. She knew it would be one of the last few times she would be doing this, now that they’d told the boys she could start making arrangements. She sat down on her bed, and looked at her phone which she had left charging. No calls. She hadn’t lied to Will. She was tired. She thought about calling Spence, but this wasn’t something you could talk about on the phone. It needed to be in person.


 

Spence heard the message tone from his phone go off. Did they get a case? He saw the notification of a text from JJ.

Breakfast tomorrow?

He texted back his agreement, and waited for more details.

The Starbucks closest to the office, 7am.

That was pretty early. JJ generally liked dropping the kids off at school. He didn’t really think asking her about it through texts was the right thing to do though, so he just said he’d see her then. Now he just had to see if he got any sleep while he attempted to figure out what was so important she had to see him that early in the morning.

 

Chapter Text

JJ had gotten to Starbucks before Reid. She wasn’t surprised. She’d barely slept the night before. She wasn’t even entirely sure how she was feeling about this. Part of her couldn’t wait to get it out. But she was also worried about how Spence would react. And yet she didn’t even know what she would consider the ideal reaction. Some would say a declaration of love and a kiss would be perfect, but was that what she wanted? If Spence did that would she think that was out of character? This was all new to her and she actually had no clue how he would react, but she also had no clue how she WANTED him to react. Maybe Will was right. She tried to shake that thought out of her mind. There was no way Will could have known any of this. But the fact remained that she was so nervous she actually thought she was going to be sick. She couldn’t wrap her head around it. Maybe it was because she wanted this so badly? How was it that she was sure Spence loved her and yet terrified he would reject her? How did those two add up?

She groaned and leaned her head back against the wall. She shut her eyes. What did JJ want, when all was said and done? She tried to imagine it. Shared custody with Will. Her boys happy. Spence. Everywhere she looked, there he was. The problem was, when she tried to imagine a route to this happy ending of hers, it just seemed impossible. This initial hurdle seemed too much to overcome. Will might not agree to what she suggested with custody. The boys might resent her if they find out that the divorce was basically her idea. Spence might not even want a life with her after all. She was desperately trying to stay optimistic but it was like trying to fight to get to the surface, but getting more and more tired and sinking further down. Great. This is hopeless. She sighed and opened her eyes.

“Hey.”

She nearly jumped out of her seat and her hand instinctively reached towards her gun before she realised who it was in front of her. “Jesus Christ, Spence! What the hell are you doing?!” She smacked him on his arm. “You scared me half to death!”

The mirth in his eyes was evident. It made the gold flecks in his brown eyes sparkle.

“You just looked so peaceful and I didn’t want to interrupt...”

“More like you wanted to give me a heart attack.” JJ grumbled under her breath.

“Let me buy you breakfast to make it up to you?” He stood up to start making his way to the counter.

As if you need to do that. I can’t stay mad at you for too long, Spence.

“Sure.” She smiled at him. He started to walk away.

“Wait! I didn’t tell you what I wanted!”

Reid smirked. “Sit down, Jennifer. I know what you want.”

JJ sat down. Ok. He MUST know what saying things like that does to a woman who is attracted to him. Right? I know what you want?! He can’t be THAT clueless. He’s a freaking genius, for God’s sake.

JJ kept going over it in her head - she didn’t want to assume he was clueless and ignore any and all flirting attempts Spence might choose to indulge in and make him think she wasn’t receptive, but she also didn’t want to assume he was flirting and jump to conclusions, especially if that puts them in an awkward situation. It was making her head hurt, but also making her want to laugh deliriously, because it was a side of Spence that she was very attracted to, and yet it meant she was completely out of her depth. Almost like any and all experience I’ve had with men has been rendered useless and we’re teenagers trying to figure our way through dating for the first time. She was so focused on trying not to laugh like an insane woman sitting alone at a table in Starbucks that she almost missed Spence coming back to the table.

Of course he got my order right. Why would I have expected any different?

“Are you ok?”

JJ looked at Spence over her coffee cup. “Yeah. Why?”

“Well, you summoned me to a 7am breakfast, and you seem distracted. Doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.” He smirked at her. Again. He’s just full of puns today, isn’t he?!

She rolled her eyes at him. “I’m ok.”

He nodded, but kept looking at her intensely, to the point it made her want to squirm. Why does this feel like an interrogation? JJ put her cup down and sighed.

“Spence? I need to talk to you about something. But I’m sure you’d already figured that out.”

“I did - but I didn’t want you to feel like you had to if you suddenly realised you didn’t want to talk about it. And before you ask - no, I have no idea what you want to talk about. Kept me up most of the night.”

JJ winced. “Spence, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to happen. If it makes you feel any better I didn’t get much sleep either.”

“What’s going on JJ? Are you feeling ok?”

“I have something to tell you, but the thing is, I have no clue how you’re going to react to it. And that kind of makes me scared to tell you about it?”

“Are you sick?” He looked so worried.

“What? No! Why does everyone jump to that conclusion?!”

“Wait - who’s everyone?” Ah crap. Only one other person jumped to that conclusion and I don’t really want to start this conversation off with a lie.

“Henry asked me the same question last night.”

“Henry? What’s going on JJ?”

JJ pushed her pastry away from her. It would probably taste like ash in her mouth anyway.

“Will and I are separating.”

Silence. It looked like all the colour had drained from Spencer’s face. She wasn’t even sure if he was breathing.

“Spence?”

“Because of me?”

“No, no Spence, believe me, it is not because of you. I know you won’t believe me right away but I hope you’ll believe me eventually because you did nothing to cause this.”

“How can you say that? Of course it’s my fault!”

“Spencer Reid - you have done absolutely nothing different between Mexico and now that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. It is not your fault that certain situations we’ve been through has caused me to realise truths about myself that I have been trying to repress for years. You didn’t cause those situations to happen.”

“Mexico was my fault.”

“Mexico was Cat Adams’ fault! An insane sociopath intent on destroying your life because of some strange attraction and bond she feels for you!”

Spence shook his head. “I gave her the opportunity.”

“Spence... She would have used any opportunity. The only thing I regret about Mexico is that you weren’t comfortable telling me about what you were doing, and I keep thinking that maybe if I had paid more attention I wouldn’t have been so clueless and I could have helped. But that’s not the point right now. The point is that you haven’t done anything to make this happen, Spence. In fact if anything, you’ve done whatever you could to keep Will and I together.”

JJ honestly didn’t know what she could say to convince him. Once he’s set his mind on something...

“Henry thought you were dying?”

“Things have been tense between Will and me, and I haven’t been eating much... He had a classmate who lost his mum from cancer and he just jumped to the conclusion.”

“He must have been terrified.” JJ was reminded that Spence knew what it was like to live with a mum who was ill.

“He was, which is why I was glad we told him the truth.”

“And how did the boys take that?”

“Michael’s a little young, I don’t think he followed the conversation but he’ll realise things are different over the coming weeks. Henry was scared that he might have to move to New Orleans.”

“He actually said that?”

JJ nodded. “Which made Will finally come around that I wasn’t only thinking of myself when I decided not to take that promotion.”

Spence still looked distressed. “What did you tell Will?”

“The truth.”

“Which is?”

“What do you mean?” That question had thrown JJ. What the hell does he mean asking what the truth is?

“JJ, I need to know what you told Will.”

“He’s not going to come after you if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“JJ.” Oh, he’s pretty serious about this question.

“I told him I’ve been in love with you since before I met him. That things just weren’t right for me to attempt anything with you, and he came along and distracted me. That I enjoyed it but never intended for it to be serious. Then Henry came along and I set everything aside for him, to make sure I give him a good life. A happy life. But that certain things had happened these last few years that showed me I can’t live my life only for my kids. And I need to make decisions for myself too.”

“That’s it?”

“What else did you want me to say to him, Spence?”

He shook his head. “Why are you telling me?”

It was her turn to be shocked. “What do you mean by THAT?”

“Why am I the first one to know this after your children?”

“Oh, well, I’m sorry for wanting to tell my best friend about something significant that just happened in my life.” JJ was starting to think this conversation was a huge mistake. There was clearly something Spence was trying to figure out, or get her to admit, but she honestly wasn’t sure what it was.

“I’m not just your best friend.”

“No, Spence. You’re not. You’re also the man I’m in love with. Is that what you wanted me to say?” What is up with this line of questioning?!

“You don’t understand.”

“So explain it to me!”

“I can’t.”

“Spence - you asked me what I told Will. I answered. For some reason, that answer didn’t make you happy. I have no clue why, but it didn’t. Was there more I should have said? Less? Did you not want me to mention you at all? I’m sorry but if that’s the case then you must know it would never have happened, I was very intent on telling him the truth.”

“It’s not that!”

As annoyed as JJ was getting, she was also starting to be worried. There was a very important part of this that she was missing. It was an element that really bothered Spence, and she just couldn’t put her finger on it. She was starting to realise that he wasn’t coming out to say it explicitly because he was scared that she wouldn’t give him a genuine answer. It hurts that he doesn’t seem to trust me, but I know it’s because he’s blaming himself. 

“Spence?” He had focused on a spot on the wall behind her. She couldn’t say this next line without knowing she had his full attention. She reached for his hand. They felt cold, and between that and the lack of colour in his face, it was almost a physical manifestation of the guilt he was feeling. “Spence, look at me, please?”

It took a few moments, but finally he looked at her. She held both of his hands in hers.

“Will and I weren’t happy. We were both making do. If I hadn’t taken this step now, we would have slowly gotten more hostile through the years, making the inevitable separation even harder on us and the boys. This was the right thing to do. Will isn’t happy about it, but at the moment we’re amicable. We both have the boys as our priority. And there’s nothing more I can ask for. To be honest, Henry didn’t seem too surprised either. But we’re both prepared to be there for him, and for Michael, should they start to struggle. Loving you didn’t make me leave Will. Loving you made me realise that I need to prioritise me. And I’m so thankful for that.”

“Did you tell Henry about me?”

“No, because you’re not the reason for this.”

“But you told Will?”

“Because he deserves to know, Spence. He deserves to know everything. And I told him everything. You didn’t cause this to happen.”

“But if I wasn’t in your life this wouldn’t be happening!”

“Spence... If you weren’t in my life I’d be making do. I would have been a lot more unhappy, a lot earlier in my relationship with Will. Your presence in my life is what allowed it to keep going for so long.”

“I’m the reason for you being stuck in an unhappy marriage?”

“No! No. Spence. Listen to me. You have brought so much to my life. So much joy, and love, and comfort. So much so that it made up for whatever I wasn’t getting in my relationship with Will. I told Will that I don’t regret one second of our marriage. And I don’t, Spence. Sometimes I think about what would have happened if I had turned Will down from the start. But then I also think that maybe everything that has happened to us between Hankel and this moment right now was meant to be. What if I had messed up, Spence? What if I had made a move and you weren’t ready and there was no future? Obviously looking back it’s easy to think it would have been some beautiful love story, and I wish it was that simple. But the people we are today - we were shaped by everything that has happened to us. And I don’t want to regret the past. But I also want to make sure that the future is one that I want for myself, and not just one shaped by guilt or what other people want.”

He had looked down at their hands towards the end of her little speech. He was rubbing circles on her hands with his thumbs. It felt comfortable. It felt right.

“I don’t know what to do.”

Was that what was bothering him? She leaned her head a little to catch his eye.

“I don’t expect you to do anything.”

“What do you mean?”

“Spence... I didn’t tell you this to make you think something had to happen between us. I don’t want to pressure you into anything. I told you because I felt you needed to know. This isn’t happening in order to make a relationship with you happen. This is happening because it’s what is right for me. Anything else is a bonus.”

He visibly relaxed at that - clearly something she had said was what he needed to hear. JJ had to figure out what it was.

“Do you not want a relationship with me?”

“I don’t know.”

“Oh.” Now it was JJ’s turn for the colour to drain from her face.

“It was the thing keeping me up last night. I’ve spent years thinking of a future with you. The thing is, I never imagined the mess that came with it. The guilt. Because I never thought it was actually a possibility - so the scenario didn’t have to be realistic. But this is real. And messy. And doesn’t just involve us. I don’t want to be in a relationship where I’m burdened by guilt - whether it’s guilt that I have to stay with you because you’ve divorced your husband for me, or guilt because I ripped apart Henry & Michael’s family.”

Now it was his turn to try to catch her eye. He could see that they were red, like she was holding back tears. He never wanted to be the reason for her tears.

“JJ, I love you. I truly do. I just want to do this for the right reasons.”

“Isn’t love enough?”

“You love Will, don’t you?”

“Yes but-“

“It’s not the same. I know. Believe me. But if we ever get together I want it to be because you want to.”

“I do!”

“I hope so. But I don’t think that’s something you can really answer right now while all of this is fresh. It’s not an ‘I’ve completed task A now let me move on to task B’ situation. I want to believe that being with me wasn’t a factor in your leaving Will.”

“It wasn’t!”

“Then let’s do this right.”

“But I don’t even know what that means.”

“Neither do I.” She’d let a tear slip out of her eye, so he reached across to wipe it off her cheek.

“What do we do now?”

“Honestly? I don’t know. I’ve never been in this situation before. And frankly I never thought I’d ever be in this situation with you.” He gave her a rueful smile.

“Why does this feel like the end before something’s even begun?”

“No, sweetheart, don’t think that. Please don’t think that.”

“What am I supposed to think?”

“Think about all the plans you have to make for your new life. Think about the fact that I have loved you all these years, whether you’ve been next to me, or somewhere far away, and that isn’t going to stop or change now. This means everything to me, and I don’t want to mess it up. And trust me, I have a knack for that.”

She looked at him then, the distress clearly gone from his body language. His face was peaceful. He was comfortable with this. He took one of her hands and kissed her knuckles.

“Mourn your old life, and start your new one, Jennifer. I’m not going anywhere.”

He stood up and pulled her up with him, then started making his way towards the door. She followed behind him. When they stepped outside he looked expectantly at her. She was still really confused about what had just happened and had no idea what she was meant to do in this moment. At the same time, she was also feeling quite raw, and exposed. She needed comfort. She needed him. She wrapped her arms around him. She felt his arms go around her in return, and he leaned his face into her neck. She could feel his smile.

Peace. All JJ felt in that moment was peace.

He pulled away, sliding his hands to her waist. “Feel better?”

“Kinda.” She smiled sheepishly at him.

“Good. You know, all I was going to ask was where you parked your car because I obviously have no clue.”

Oh. That was why he had that expectant look on his face. She could feel the blush creeping over her. She tried to turn to start walking but his hands held her in place. Spence knew he couldn’t let this conversation end like that.

“Thank you.”

“What for? Embarrassing myself?”

“For telling me. For being brave even though you didn’t know what to expect.”

“Oh. Well. You’re welcome.” She could see the wisdom in what he had told her, but she couldn’t help feeling like she’d been rejected. Which was silly, because she had known they weren’t going to walk out of here a couple. It wasn’t what she had intended. Her emotions were all over the place, and she needed to get a grip. She patted his chest, and turned to walk towards her car, feeling him follow behind her.

She just wished she knew what the hell she was supposed to do next.

Chapter Text

The short drive was spent in silence, JJ keeping her attention focused on the road. She could feel Spence look at her every now and then. The tension in the car was... interesting. Something had shifted after the conversation. She was glad that Spence had figured his way out of what was bothering him, but she was still struggling. I think its the uncertainty of it all. I’m hoping that everything with Will is going to be straightforward, but it might not. I’m hoping Spence and I will make a future together, but we might not. Spence had essentially said what Will had, that they needed time. It made sense, but it also didn’t. She knew how she felt for Spence. It was one of the things she could hold onto in life. Something stable. How was she going to prove that to him? How was he going to prove to himself that it wasn’t guilt driving him?

She parked the car, Spence waiting patiently while she gathered her things. She could feel him looking at her again. They began walking to the elevator when she heard him sigh and felt him reach for her arm to stop her.

“JJ? Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I can’t, Spence.”

“Can’t? Or Won’t?”

“I can’t because I don’t know.”

“Was it something I said?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is this how all our conversations are going to go?”

“I don’t know.”

“Jennifer...”

“What do you want from me, Reid?” She felt his hand drop then. She never called him that when it was just the two of them. But this was just too much for her. Just because he’s at peace with whatever he said, doesn’t mean I have to be. Why couldn’t he have just left this alone?

“Nothing. I apologise.”

She turned and started walking away. He let her go.


She got to her desk and saw that Emily was in her office, and figured it was best to go speak to her now before a case came in. She walked up and knocked on the door before popping her head in.

“You free to talk?” Emily was studying a file in front of her.

“Yeah, of course! Come in.” JJ shut the door behind her and flopped down onto one of the chairs opposite Emily.

“I told Will.”

“Everything?”

“Yeah, pretty much. We told the boys too.”

“Oh, wow. I can imagine how tough that was for you.”

“I also told Spence this morning.”

“How did that go?”

“I really don’t know. I’m kind of all over the place emotionally. He seemed quite content at the end of it, but I just don’t know, Emily.”

“What happened?”

“I told him, and initially he seemed really upset about it but I couldn’t figure out why and then he totally calmed down when I said that I didn’t ask Will for the separation because of him, and that he didn’t have to do anything. Obviously I want to be with him, but that would be a bonus. I left Will because we weren’t right for each other.”

“That sounds fair.”

“Yeah, except he went on to say he didn’t know if he wanted a relationship with me.”

“Wait, what?”

“Something along the lines of he needs to make sure that if he is with me its because he wants to, and not because he feels guilty that I left Will for him. Something like that.”

“JJ, I think this is going to have to be one of those moments where you have to accept that Spence didn’t say that to hurt you, but its just how his mind expressed what he was feeling. You know he has a tendency to be blunt and direct.”

“I know, but then my mind also says that maybe I’m just telling myself that to make me feel better about him rejecting me.”

“It didn’t sound like he rejected you from where I’m standing. But I’m also not as emotionally invested as you are. Everything is going to sting a little more for you.”

“He wants me to sort out my life before I even consider anything with him.”

“Wasn’t that your intention anyway?”

“Yes, but-“

“JJ, Reid isn’t going anywhere. You must know that. I know its a scary uncertain time for you but he’s right. You need to focus on you.”

“Will said that too.”

“Ok, well, that’s two men who love you plus me saying the same thing. Trust us.”

JJ nodded, but Emily could see she wasn’t fully convinced. It would take time.

“How’s Will with all of this?”

“He’s ok. He’s being strong for the boys, which I appreciate. They were some sketchy moments at first, but all said in private thankfully. He’s a good guy. All things considered, I’ve been lucky.”

“Do you need a place to crash?”

“I think so... He’s in the guest room at the moment. Considering our job schedule it makes sense for him and the boys to stay there. And it would be easy for me to say ok the boys should stay with him on the weekdays and come to me on the weekends, but what about weeks like this where we’re local? I don’t want to miss out on time with them.”

“I think you need somewhere regardless, you’re not going to be able to move on if you stay in the same house as Will. I would offer my spare room but that wouldn’t really work with the boys... Give me one sec.”

Emily popped out of her office, and came back with Rossi not a minute later. JJ looked from Emily, to Rossi, and back to Emily. Emily spoke first.

“He knows.”

“You told him?!”

Rossi stepped in. “Believe me JJ, she did not betray your confidence. I’ve known for a while now.”

“Was I that obvious?”

“I’m just good at my job.” Rossi smirked.

JJ sighed. “I still don’t know why you’re here though.”

Before Rossi could reply, Emily’s cellphone buzzed and she excused herself to take the call.

“Well, I have a large home, with many unused bedrooms, that I would like to offer you the use of until you get your housing situation sorted out. It won’t help anyone if you’re stressed about it or feel a time crunch, and it will be nice to have some young people around.”

“Rossi - you’re a newlywed! I can’t impose.”

“JJ, please. Believe me when I say it’s alright. We do what we must for family, right?”

“Thank you. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“Can I give you another piece of advice?” JJ nodded.

“Call Morgan. He still has properties in the area. I’m sure he’d love to help you with something more permanent.”

“I can’t take advantage of everyone.”

“Would you feel the same way if the situations were reversed and you were the one in a position to help us?”

JJ didn’t answer, because she knew he was right.

“Call him, JJ. Anyway, it’ll probably be temporary. I’m sure you and Reid will get a place together sooner rather than later.”

“I don’t know about that.” She had mumbled it, but Rossi had caught it.

“Give him time, sweet girl. Trust in your feelings for him, and know he feels the same way in return. Look at me and Krystall. And before you start, I don’t mean it will take you that long to get together. All I mean is that when things are meant to be, it will happen. And I know the two of you are. Just have faith.”

“I’m trying.”

“I know you are. And we will be rooting for the two of you every step of the way.”

Rossi stretched his arms out to JJ and pulled her in for a hug.

“Thank you. For everything.”

“It’s truly my pleasure.”

Emily popped her head in. “Sorry to interrupt guys, but we’ve got a case.”


As luck would have it, they were going to have to fly across the country. Now that JJ had more of an idea about what the next few weeks and months would look like, she was actually quite anxious to get started. She didn’t want to text Will what she had decided because that was definitely a conversation they should have in person. Rossi had told her he had a pair of bedrooms that shared a bathroom, and that would work perfectly for JJ and her boys. The more she thought about his suggestion to speak to Morgan, the more she came around to it. Even if he didn’t have a vacant property at the moment, he might know someone. She wasn’t looking for anything flashy, just a two bedroom. She wasn’t going to take anything away from what she was already contributing to the boys, so whatever she found for herself wasn’t going to be exorbitant because she just couldn’t afford it. She had to start finding ways to cut down on her expenses. They had already discussed the case, and everyone was engrossed in their own thing, so she started making a list in her phone.

Spence was watching her. They hadn’t spoken since the car park, not that they had much of an opportunity to. When he had gotten to his desk, she was speaking to Rossi in Emily’s office. Then they’d all been summoned for the case briefing, and JJ had been one of the first to leave to get to the plane. By the time he’d got on the plane, she was settled in and sat next to Emily. She seemed to be doing something very important at the moment - her brow was ruffled and he could tell that she was very focused. He wondered what it was. He wondered whether him asking her about it later would be welcomed, or if she would brush him off. He knew something he had said had hurt her. He knew he might not be able to figure it out, because this was something he messed up quite a bit. The thing is, JJ normally understood what he meant, and could explain it to the injured party. She had rarely ever been the injured party. He hated that they were in a position where there was tension between them again. He was sat at the far end of the plane, away from everyone else, and looked up when Rossi came to sit down across from him.

“Alright?”

Spence nodded and smiled. Rossi caught him glancing at JJ.

“Anyone you want to talk about?”

“What?”

“You’ve been staring intently at JJ the entire time we’ve been onboard.”

“Does she seem alright to you?”

“Is there any reason for her not to be?”

Why was this conversation starting to feel like a chess match?

“I guess not.”

They lapsed into silence, Rossi watching Reid, Reid watching JJ. He hadn’t known the specifics of what had happened between the two younger agents, but he knew that whatever it was, it had given JJ doubts about any potential future with the young doctor.

“Kid?” That got Reid’s attention. “A word of advice from an old man who has been married four times? If you even have a hint of a feeling that you’ve messed up somehow, then speak to the person about it. Don’t sit around thinking you never intended to hurt them, don’t sit around thinking you did nothing wrong. What matters is that the person you love is in pain, and there is a possibility that you caused it.”

He let Reid think that over for a minute. There was no need to rush this.

“But how do I have a conversation when I don’t know what I’m meant to talk about?”

“You try. Sometimes that’s all that matters. The fact that you tried, instead of just letting it fester and get worse, or in hope that she’ll move on in time.”

Rossi could see the wheels in Reid’s head turning.

“You could get 10 PhD’s and it wouldn’t help. Heck, I’ve been married to Krystall before and this is still like something new. Just trust me when I say that effort is always appreciated, and the lack of it is never forgotten. Talk to her. Tonight. Just try.”

Reid nodded. That was enough for Rossi. He knew the genius might need a little help, and he was the only male on the team who had been there when everything with Maeve happened. He also thought of all of these young agents as his children, and had been praying for JJ and Reid to get a move on because he didn’t know how much longer he would have been able to hold out before he just locked them in a room together. Thank God we avoided that.


They’d only gotten to the hotel after 10pm, it had been a long day. Reid was pacing in his room. He didn’t want to bother JJ if she was tired, but Rossi had said not to let it wait. It would have been inappropriate to do this in the station, and it was almost like Emily was intentionally keeping him from partnering JJ. He didn’t know if he was looking too much into it, but then again, if he was, the only way to solve it would be to speak to JJ. Mind made up, he made his way down the hall. He had seen which room she had gone into, which he was glad for because he didn’t think she’d have responded if he had texted or called her. He knocked on the door and waited.

JJ was surprised to hear the knock. She knew it was Spence. She could pretend she was asleep. But he might call. If she took this too far he’d probably get worried, and that wasn’t fair. But she didn’t know if she could have another conversation with him today. Emily said to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I want to, but after Will... I just want a relationship on equal footing. If I need to cut him some slack, then surely he needs to put in effort to try to become a better communicator?

Three more knocks. Maybe this is an attempt from him to do just that. He didn’t need to come and clear anything up - as far as he was concerned, he had explained things succinctly. But here he was. Knocking on her door. She opened it just as he was about to knock again.

“Hey. Sorry, was in the bathroom.” She stepped aside to let him in.

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t waiting long.” He gave her a small smile as he looked around the room. He wasn’t sure if he should keep standing, or if he should sit somewhere. He was suddenly very aware of his limbs. How do I normally stand?! He saw JJ sit on the edge of the bed.

“Did you need something, Spence? It’s just that I’m pretty beat and I’m sure you are too.”

“Should I leave?”

“I’m not going to get much sleep if you leave without telling me whatever it is you want to tell me. And I’m sure you won’t either.”

He was still trying to figure out the best way to stand. He had his hand in his pocket, but that didn’t feel very natural. So he crossed his arms. But then that just felt like he was angry and closed off. JJ was watching him the entire time.

“Are you ok? You’re... fidgety.”

He gave up on standing and just sat on the bed next to her. He felt her shift a little further down, moving away from him. Don’t take it personally, Spencer. She’s hurting. Just speak to her.

“I know I said something earlier that hurt your feelings. I’ve been trying to figure out what it was, but the fact is that sometimes I don’t realise these things, and no matter how much I try, I just can’t. And I know a lot of the time you help me, but with this... You can’t. I actually don’t want you to. Because if I want to make a life with you, which I do, I need to learn how to communicate with you effectively. I also realised that instead of spending all this time thinking of what specific thing I said, I shouldn’t wait to apologise. You’re hurting because of me. And I never want to be the reason for your pain, Jennifer.”

He had been looking down at his hands while he was speaking. He knows he should have looked into her eyes, but he didn’t want to see the sadness in them. Sadness that he had put there. The fact that it was unintentional didn’t matter. But he had to look up when she heard her take a huge intake of breath.

JJ was crying. But not just a tear here or there. She was properly crying. Reid froze. How did I make it worse?!

“I... don’t... know... what... you... want!” She got a word out between each breath. He reached for her, in an attempt to comfort her, but she jerked away. Ok, don’t touch her right now.

“JJ, please, I don’t understand? You don’t know what I want?” He looked around and saw a box of tissues and pulled a few out for her. She grabbed one from him when he offered them to her. She had taken a couple of deep breaths and started to calm down. He decided not to push her, so just sat there next to her, waiting until she felt comfortable to speak. They were silent for a few minutes, JJ dabbing at her face and slowing her breathing, Spencer just watching her.

“Earlier... This morning. You said you weren’t sure if you wanted to be with me. That you couldn’t be sure if you only wanted to be with me because of guilt.”

“I did. And you said you didn’t leave Will because of me.”

If ever there was a time he needed to be reminded of what someone would look like if they were gobsmacked, he would think of JJ’s face right at this moment.

“What does that have to do with anything?!”

“They’re the same thing.”

“What?! I never said I didn’t want to be with you!”

“No, but these are decisions we have to make for ourselves, and not because of someone else.”

JJ didn’t look convinced.

“Spence, I left Will because we weren’t right together, I’ve said this so many times. If it wasn’t you, I would have figured it out some other way. I didn’t leave Will to be with you, but I also didn’t think that there was a situation where we wouldn’t be together.”

“JJ, I don’t want to mess this up. I feel like I’m already starting to. I am so out of my depth. I know so much about you, and yet I also feel like I know nothing about you. I don’t have much experience with relationships, but I have never started one with someone I already have such intense feelings for. I stumble and fall when I have a clear path to follow - attraction, date, another date, kiss. How do I even begin to navigate this? I want us to take things slow but then does it make sense to do that? When we feel the way we do about each other? Because there are times that I look like you and believe me I do not want to take things slow. But the fact is we love each other so intensely not knowing what the other is like as a partner. I don’t want to end up being what Will is to you now.”

“That would never happen.”

“How could you know that for sure? I bet you thought you’d never leave Will.”

“For the boys’ sake. Not because I loved him.”

“Whatever the reason, you never thought this would happen. We can’t know for sure, JJ.”

“Well we also can’t know what happens unless we try! How are you going to know what kind of partners we can be to each other unless we actually try to be together?”

She had a point. Reid thought that it was something he could just try to figure out in head. Ask her some questions, see if he was suitable. He hadn’t thought of a practical approach.

“Spence... I can’t do this. I can’t come to work everyday, see you there, and love you from afar. I waited after Hankel, and look what happened? Here we are 13 years later in the same situation. It just hurts too much.”

“What are you saying?”

“I don’t know. But I can’t wait around and watch you slip through my fingers again. Coming to work used to mean being able to spend time with you, but I always knew we had limits. It sucked, but I knew I had to do it. And now there aren’t limits... but you’re not sure if you want it. If you want us. I never expected us to get together the minute I left Will. I understand the complexities of the situation. But I never thought I’d hear you say that you would have to think about whether being with me was worth the effort.”

It was a lightbulb had just gone off in Reid’s head. “I never meant it like that, but I can see why it wasn’t clear. Jennifer, you are always worth the effort. Always. I just don’t want you to end up disappointed because I couldn’t live up to whatever you’ve built me up to be in your head. You said it yourself, Will has been a decent husband. How do I compete with that?”

“There’s no scoreboard, there’s no comparing one to the other. I am in love with you, and that is a pretty damn important factor. You don’t think I’m worried? How could I compare with what Maeve offered you intellectually? What if you get bored of me because I can’t challenge you? What if you find me boring having me around all the time?”

“That would never happen.”

JJ looked at Spence pointedly.

Oh. We both have insecurities.

“Do you have any clue what our next steps should be?” Spence could see that JJ had calmed down.

“Well, I’ve got my living situation temporarily sorted.”

“Oh? That was quick.”

“Emily had offered her spare room, but when she realised that I’d need more space for the boys she roped Rossi in. And he wants me to call Morgan and see if I could maybe look at renting one of his properties from him. I’ve been trying to figure out my finances, I need to keep contributing to the house because I don’t want to uproot the boys, but then I’m going to need to be able to afford another place as well. It’s all a bit overwhelming.”

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask her to move in with him. He felt her look at him out of the corner of her eye.

“I know. Believe me, I know. On the one hand that would make so much sense, but on the other hand, that’s us getting ahead of things isn’t it? I mean you would presume so? We’ve never even been on a date.”

Spence laughed. “Why is this so complicated?”

JJ shrugged. “Fifteen years of history.”

“Well, there’s nobody I’d rather figure this out with than you.” He leaned and bumped his shoulder into hers. She rested her head onto his shoulder, and he rested his head on hers. They just sat there, letting the time pass. Listening to each other’s breathing. Spence kissed the top of her head and moved to stand up.

“Stay.”

“Jennifer...”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry.”

“I want to. Believe me. But not like this.”

She nodded. She looked tired. He hoped she’d sleep tonight. “I can stay until you fall asleep?”

She smiled at his suggestion. “I’ll probably wake up when you leave. It’s ok. I’ll be fine.”

“Well, you know where I am.”

“I do. Thanks, Spence.”

She walked the few steps with him from the bed to the door.

“Goodnight, Spence.”

He looked down at her. She had some hair loose from her ponytail. He reached for it, and tucked it behind her ear. He heard her breath hitch. He leaned forward slowly, and kissed her cheek.

“Goodnight, Jennifer.” He had whispered it into her ear, and it made a shiver run down her spine.

He let himself out and shut the door behind him. He had to pause and take a few deep breaths. On the other side of the door, JJ was doing the same. Both of them were thinking the same thing.

What do I do now?

Chapter Text

There wasn’t any further late night room talks for the duration of the case. Things weren’t awkward, but it felt like something had shifted between them. They had both caught the other staring over the course of the case, only for a sheepish smile and a quick aversion of their eyes. It was weird to go from a situation of ‘if something would ever happen’ to ‘when will we take the next step’.

Spence knew it had to be him that did it. Not because he was the male. JJ would probably slap him if he ever said that. But JJ had enough on her plate, and he just honestly didn’t think it was fair for him to expect this to be on her as well. The problem was he didn’t know when it would be appropriate. Definitely not while she still lived in the same house as Will, but now that he knew she had made arrangements, he felt a time pressure. He knew he shouldn’t leave it too long, but would it be inappropriate to make a move before her divorce was finalised? Were there rules? He looked around the jet. As was the norm on their returning flights, most of them were asleep, but Rossi was pouring himself a drink in the galley. Rossi! He’s been divorced three times! 

Rossi had caught him staring, and came to sit across from him.

“Did you want a drink or was there another reason you were staring at me for so long?”

“You’ve been divorced three times.”

“Yeah, thanks for reminding me kid. What about it?”

“Did you ever feel like there was a certain amount of time you should have waited before you started dating? I mean once you were separated.”

“Not really. I didn’t have kids though.”

“Oh.”

“My advice would be to only do it on days where she doesn’t have the boys. That means you’re not intruding on their time, and leave it up to JJ when she wants to include you in that time. I would assume that’s something she would have to discuss with Will, as well. So give her space on that front.”

“It’s a little weird being Henry’s godfather. I don’t want him to think that I’m suddenly not spending time with him for some reason.”

“It’s a delicate situation. Speak to JJ about it. Just be as honest as possible. But don’t pressure her.”

“You honestly think it would be ok for me to ask her out once she’s at your house?”

“Listen, kid. The only reason I’m not saying ask her out now is because it would put her in an awkward situation with Will, and maybe the boys. Once she’s out, that won’t be an issue. She’s ready.”

“Rossi, I’m not very good at this in general. How do I navigate this situation? Do I kiss her on the first date? Is there a rule when you’re already in love?”

Rossi chuckled into his whiskey. “Now you’re asking the wrong person.”

Reid sighed. “I don’t want to mess this up.” He had said that very softly.

“Spencer, listen to me. You’re going to mess up. Believe me, it’s part of being in a relationship. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from giving your all. Because that’s when things will start to go wrong. You need to have faith that you and JJ will be able to work through whatever happens. Otherwise, there’s no point even trying. Trust the man who has been married four times.”

He knew Reid had heard him, because the kid was deep in thought. He hoped he had managed to allay some of his fears, but overthinking was his natural state. Rossi sipped on his whiskey, making a note to himself that he should definitely keep an eye on this situation to ensure there was progress.


JJ walked into a quiet home. It dawned on her that it would probably be one of the last times she did this. The thought broke her heart, because one of the highlights of coming home was seeing the boys. Even if they were asleep, she could pop her head into their rooms and just watch them sleep. She knew these were the reasons she had stayed as long as she had. It was a huge thing for her to give up. Enough so that even now, it gave her pause. She knew that it would hurt so bad to begin with, but eventually she would get used to it. Isn’t that terrible though? Getting used to not being able to do these things for your children?

It was going to be difficult co-parenting. Not because of any issues between her and Will - but he used to always consult her, even on the little things. He’d tell her all these details of the boys’ days while she was on a case, and it made her feel like she was a part of it. She doubted that would happen anymore, to the same extent. And it hurt. It really hurt.

She thought about any other children she might have. She was 42. If it was going to happen, it had to happen sooner rather than later. Obviously this wasn’t something she could really bring up to Spence right now, but she knew he wanted kids. She also knew he would never pressure her. She didn’t even need to think about whether she wanted to have kids with him. Of course she did. Her boys were two of the most amazing things to happen to her, and she couldn’t even fathom doing that with the love of her life. How would her boys react to that, though? Not to mention the fact that one of them would likely have to leave the BAU, it just didn’t make sense for both of them to be gone most of the time.

JJ flopped down onto her bed, groaned, and buried her head into her pillow. Thinking about all of this triggered migraine after migraine. Which was frustrating, because it was almost like life was less complicated when she wasn’t making decisions that prioritised her own feelings and desires. Isn’t it meant to be a good thing? Why does it have to hurt so much? She wasn’t going to go back to the way things were, that’s for sure, she was trying to focus on the future, but right now? She was so conscious of everything she was going to be losing. And it felt like she was the only one losing anything in this situation, and that fucking sucked.

She sat up when she heard little footsteps outside her door. Three light knocks.

“Mummy?”

Michael. She walked to the door and opened it. He was standing there, hair messed up from sleep, his blanket dragging behind him. She reached for him and he climbed into her arms.

“Can I sleep with you tonight please?”

“Of course, baby.”

How could she say no? Why would she say no? She brought him to her bed and tucked him in. She slid in next to him and he snuggled closer.

Hold onto these moments JJ. These are the moments that will get you through the uncertainty of what is to come.


She had done drop off, pulling Will aside before she left to let him know they needed to talk when she got back. She didn’t want him to pop out while she was out, so felt it had been necessary. She didn’t want things to be overly strained, but at the same time, she didn’t want this to drag on longer than necessary because Will found excuses to avoid her.

He was sitting at the island in their kitchen, nursing a cup of coffee when she came home. She poured herself one and sat next to him.

“How have the boys been?”

“They’ve been ok. I think the real test will be once we actually make some changes. But I’m assuming that’s what this talk is about.”

JJ nodded. “Yeah. I don’t think us living under the same roof is a viable option, and I think the only way we can know for sure what arrangements we’re going to make with the kids is by actually testing it out.”

“And you can’t date Spencer while we live in the same house.”

JJ had to try very hard not to roll her eyes. She gripped her mug a little tighter and took a deep breath.

“Rossi has kindly offered me two bedrooms in his home for the time being, until I can find a more permanent solution. I am going to keep paying for half of the mortgage, and utilities, and any expenses related to the boys. I don’t want them to have to move because of this.”

“That’s awfully generous of you.”

Obviously it was going to be one of those days. Will was in the mood to push some buttons. She wished there was a way that she could predict this because at the moment she had no clue. She knew he wanted a reaction. She knew he blamed her. She knew he wanted to list all the ways she was potentially hurting the boys. She didn’t need to hear it from him. She was constantly saying it to herself, anyway.

“In terms of how we’ll split time with the boys, I guess the easiest thing to do would be weekdays with you and weekends with me. But I was wondering if you had any suggestions about days like this when I’m around on the weekdays? I’d appreciate spending more time with the boys.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have fallen in love with someone else.”

“Look if you’re not in the mood to discuss this, we can find some other time to. I only thought now would be a good time because I was going to speak to the boys tonight so we could do a trial run this weekend.”

“When has it mattered what I wanted?”

“Excuse me?”

“It didn’t matter to you that I wanted to marry you since before Henry was born. It didn’t matter to you that I wanted you to stay at the Pentagon. And it doesn’t matter to you now that I don’t want a divorce.”

“I was in love with Spence before I met you. I have put aside everything that I want, to make a life with you. And for a long time I thought that would be enough. But the fact is, it just isn’t anymore. So get off your high horse talking about how you haven’t gotten anything you wanted. I made mistakes and people I love are suffering for it. But don’t come at me with your whole ‘I am the only victim in all of this’ nonsense. I am trying my best to be civil, Will. I am trying my best to do right by the boys. I know that’s what you want as well.”

“Have you told Spencer?”

“What?”

“Have. You. Told. Spencer?”

“How is that relevant to this conversation?”

“I’d like to know.”

“Fine. Yes, Spence knows. So does Emily, and Rossi. Happy?”

“Fucking delighted.”

JJ pushed herself away from the island. This was going nowhere.

“I’m going to pack my things. Since it’s Friday, I think it’s best if we speak to the boys when they’re home, and then I can bring them to Rossi’s for a trial run this weekend. I’ll drop them off at school on Monday morning. If we don’t get a case, I hope we can discuss how I can see the boys on days like that, or days when I’m local.”

She waited for a response. Nothing.

“I’m going to take that for a yes, because I know you heard me.”

She managed to get to her room without smashing anything up along the way. It didn’t need to be like this. She was trying to be as understanding as possible of Will’s feelings, but she was really starting to struggle with that. She couldn’t risk antagonising him too much though. Rock, meet hard place. She just hoped she could keep it together long enough so that they could come to a satisfactory agreement and get that down on paper.


She had managed to pack relatively quickly, which was a little depressing. Apart from a couple of pictures of the boys, there wasn’t much else she was personally attached to in the house, which meant it was mainly shoes, clothes, and toiletries that she was moving. She decided to slowly start packing up her car instead of just waiting around. The house was quiet, but she hadn’t heard Will leave, and she had her fingers crossed that she wouldn’t run into him. There wasn’t much else she wanted to say to him at the moment, and she felt like the weekend apart might do him some good. Or being totally alone might make it worse. I just don’t know how any of this is going to go.

She had left her phone in her room, and was surprised when she saw a missed call from Spence. She sat on the bed and returned the call. It rang a few times, and she thought it was going to go to voicemail. She couldn’t help but worry.

“Hey! Sorry! I was just in the kitchen trying to rustle up some food.” That reminded JJ that she hadn’t eaten anything at all that day.

“JJ? You there?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. You just reminded my stomach that I haven’t eaten today.”

“At all? It’s nearly 1pm.”

“Well, I had a cup of coffee.” She could tell that Spence wanted to tell her she should eat, but she knew that, and that was probably why he held back.

“Anyway, did you need something Spence? Not that I don’t enjoy our conversations, but just wondering if there was something specific you needed.”

“Oh. Well. Yes.”

“Yes? What did you need?”

“I don’t need anything.”

“Sorry?” The lack of food was really starting to get to JJ and this conversation was just confusing her.

“What I mean to say is, I do have something to say.” Get it together, Spencer. You’re just being weird and JJ is probably concerned you’re having an aneurism or something.

“Spence?”

“Ireallymissedyoutoday.” He had mumbled it out so quick that it had just blended into one word. He sighed.

“Sorry. What I wanted you to know is that I have really missed you today.” God, he was blushing so much she could probably see the glow from her house.

Oh. Oh, this sweet man.

“JJ? I just wanted to let you know, don’t feel pressured to say anything back-“

“Of course I miss you! It’s just that I haven’t had the best of mornings so it was just a very nice thing to hear.”

“Is it anything I can help with?” He knew she was probably alone with Will now, so his guess was it had something to do with that. He didn’t want to push her into telling him anything though.

“I’m ok. And believe me, you’ve already helped.”

“Anytime.” JJ’s stomach growled so loud that he could hear it through the phone.

“You should probably get something to eat. I’ll see you on Monday?”

“Definitely.” She nearly added an I love you. It would have been so easy to say, it would have been the truth, and yet it just wasn’t what they should say at the moment. This was confusing.

“Eat well. Goodbye, JJ.”

“Bye, Spence.”

JJ stared at her phone for a bit. Ok, that was definitely explicit flirting. It had definitely brightened her day, and now she had a weekend with her sons to look forward to.

Maybe I can get through this after all.

Chapter Text

“Pennsylvania Petite. To what do I owe this honour?”

“Hey, Morgan. How are you doing?” Trust him to be able to put a smile on her face instantly.

“I’m good, so are Savannah and Hank. He’s growing so fast, JJ. I know you warned me, but I don’t think its something you can really prepare yourself for, you know?”

“Don’t I know it. I nearly have a teenager.”

“How are Will and the boys?”

“Everyone is good, but that’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Is everything ok?”

God, this was hard. This was someone who had not been around that much the last few years, Morgan wouldn’t have figured it out the way Rossi had. How was she going to explain this?

“Erm... Yeah. Everything is good, but not really? I, erm, I’m leaving Will.”

“Oh, wow. JJ, I know I haven’t been around much and I should do better keeping in contact, but I didn’t know you guys were having problems.”

“We haven’t been having problems. Not really, I guess. It’s just that things have happened over the last few years that showed me that he’s not the person I should be with.”

“I’m not judging you with this question, but I gotta ask. Did this involve a discretion?”

“No! Well, it depends on who you ask, I guess.” She was pretty sure Will would say she did cheat.

“You’re going to have to elaborate.”

She was going to have to come out and just say it. “I’m in love with Spence. I’ve been in love with him since Hankel.”

Silence.

“But he wasn’t really in a place where I could do anything about it, I thought Will would be a good distraction until he was. But then-“

“Henry happened.”

“Yeah. And I had to prioritise him, you know?”

“I get that. But then you got married, then you had Michael. It’s been years since Hankel, JJ.”

“That’s what I thought. I thought I’d be able to survive, to get through it because I got to spend loads of time with Spence, anyway. Best of both worlds. Then Mexico happened. I thought I’d lost him, Morgan. I thought that...”

“That was three years ago.”

“I tried, Derek. I really tried. For the boys. But we had a case a couple months ago and I had a gun in my face and an unsub telling me tell my deepest secret and Spence was right there...”

“You told him?”

“I know I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have done that to Spence. I know I messed up. Will loves reminding me of that. But I need to do this for me, Derek.”

“Are you happy?”

“Right now? Not really. Everything is still up in the air, and I’m busy trying to sort things out...”

“Anything I can help with?”

“I don’t want you to think that this is why I’m calling you-“

“JJ, what can I do to help?”

“I’m staying with Dave temporarily, he has two spare bedrooms so the boys can have the other over the weekend. I don’t really want the boys to move, so I’m keeping up my share of the mortgage and the other expenses. But I really need to find my own place, and Dave thought asking you would be a good idea since you’re a landlord. You might know someone who has a decent two bedroom?”

“I actually have a property that would be perfect - but I’ve got a tenant in it for another two months. Would you be able to hold out that long?”

“How much is the rent?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I can’t do that. Derek, I would be taking money away from your family.”

“JJ, we’re fine, believe me.”

She was on the verge of tears. “Derek, thank you so much, you don’t understand how much I appreciate this. But please can this be temporary? Once everything is more stable can we revisit rent?”

“How about after 6 months, we review the circumstances. Would you feel more comfortable with that?”

“Thank you, Derek. I owe you so much for this.”

“Don’t say that. We’re family. Can I ask you something, though?”

“Anything.”

“How’s pretty boy holding up?”

She smiled at his question. “He didn’t want me to leave Will. He didn’t want to be the reason that the boys had their parents split up.”

“Understandable considering his own history.”

“Exactly. Thing is, I’m doing this for me. Leaving Will would have been inevitable, and I’m starting to see that more now.”

“Does Reid believe you?”

“He’s starting to.” I hope, anyway.

“Alright. Well, I’m here for the two of you. I’ll call you with more details about the property closer to the date. Don’t be a stranger.”

“Yes sir. Take care, Derek. Send my love to Savannah and Hank.”

“I will. Talk soon, JJ.”

And that was that. She had her living situation sorted for the next 8 months, because her family had come through. She realised how fortunate she was, and vowed to never forget it.


“Boys - what would you think about having a sleepover at Uncle Dave’s house?”

JJ had picked up her sons. Her things were loaded in the car, but she thought it would be better if they packed their own things. They also definitely still had to say goodbye to Will. She was really hoping that would go smoothly. Just because he’s done well in front of the boys so far, doesn’t mean he’ll be able to maintain it.

“Yay!” Well, Michael was onboard.

“With you and Dad?” Henry obviously understood more.

“No, buddy. Just with me. I’m going to be living there temporarily so on the weekends you’ll stay with me. This will only be until I find a place of my own. Dad and I are trying to figure out what kind of arrangement would work best for all of us. So for now you’ll stay with him on the weekdays at home, and on the weekends you’ll stay with me.”

“So we can’t see you on weekdays even if you’re not working?”

“We’re still trying to figure all this out. I would love to see you on those days, just like if something important is happening on the weekends of course Dad will be there as well. So for this weekend, I want you guys to pack up some stuff, but bring some things you wouldn’t mind leaving there. There’ll be a room for you two to share, and it’ll be easy if you don’t have to pack and unpack every time. But don’t worry about bringing everything today.”

They were pulling into their home. Before she came out to unbuckle Michael, JJ turned to Henry.

“Listen, Henry... Your dad isn’t doing too well with this. He is trying his best for you two, we both are. Just always remember that we love the two of you more than anything in the world, and that we’re going to figure out the best way forward for all of us, ok? It just might be a little bumpy in the beginning.”

Henry nodded. JJ hated that she had to put something like this on her sons. The longer she spent in this house with Will, the less she remembered that she was doing this to prioritise herself and that it was ok (and healthy!) for her to do that, and the more she felt like she was being a terrible mother by unnecessarily causing upheaval that could possibly negatively affect her sons the rest of their lives.

She couldn’t wait to get to Rossi’s.

They walked into the kitchen and she saw Will nursing a cup of coffee at the island. She wasn’t even standing next to him and she could tell that cup was damage control - she could smell the alcohol on him. Fuck. This isn’t good.

“Daddy, we’re going to have a sleepover at Uncle Dave’s!” And just like that Michael was running through the house towards his room. I’ve never been so thankful that he’s only five.

Henry was looking from JJ back to Will. She wasn’t sure if he knew exactly what was wrong with his dad right at this minute, but she could tell he knew something just wasn’t right. She caught his eye and just shook her head. He caught on to what she was telling him to do, and headed to his room to pack his bag.

“Is this what you’re going to do all weekend?”

“What’s it to you?”

“If this is what you do when you know the kids will see you, when you know that I’m going to be here to witness it, what would you do when you’re alone with them Will!?”

“I had a couple of drinks. So sue me. At least I’m not spending most of my time cheating on my spouse.”

“I never cheated.”

“Says you. And I’m meant to believe you because ‘I know Spencer’. Well, JJ. I know men. And I also know how quickly I got into your pants when you were supposedly ‘freshly in love with him’.”

“Fuck you, Will.”

“Oh well now, that’s how we got into this mess isn’t it?! Because you had an itch that needed scratching and then you got stuck with a husband you didn’t want and a son you wish was never born!”

“Don’t you dare say that about Henry! Or Michael! They are the only things that have gotten me through everything! I could never for one second regret them! And unlike you I’m not going to use them as a weapon! And I have never regretted our relationship until you started showing me your true colours!”

“Really with this holier than thou attitude, JJ? Really? Who’s messing up the boys’ lives? Me or you?”

“From where I’m standing it looks like the only person who is taking this badly is you, Will. Acting out like a petulant child - reeking of alcohol at 3pm in the afternoon!”

“How exactly was I meant to react to the knowledge that my wife has been boning her best friend?”

“I NEVER CHEATED!”

“Mum?”

She didn’t know how long Henry had been standing there. She didn’t know how much he had heard. She looked at Will and saw the smug look on his face and knew that this was exactly what he had intended to happen. The bastard.

“Are you packed?” Henry nodded. “Let’s go get Michael, then we can get loaded up.”

As they were climbing the stairs she paused and turned to Henry.

“I know you have a lot of questions about what you heard. And I promise you, I will explain everything to you. Just not right now. Not here. I love you more than anything, Henry. Don’t ever doubt that.”

“I love you too, Mum.”

Henry distracted Michael while JJ packed the rest of his bag, and they made their way downstairs. She would have left the boys to say goodbye to their dad on their own, but she didn’t trust Will a whole lot right now.

“Bye, boys. Have fun with Mum and Uncle Dave and Aunt Krystall. I’ll see you on Monday.

Will gave each boy a hug and they headed towards the car. JJ and Will stood there for a few moments, staring at each other. She didn’t even recognise the person standing across the room from her. She broke eye contact, and looked around the room. That conversation with Will had renewed her belief that she was doing the right thing. Without a second glance at him, she walked out of their home, ready to start the rest of her life.

Chapter Text

“Hello?” Spencer was reading, and hadn’t looked at his caller ID before he answered.

“You don’t call, you don’t write...”

“Morgan! How are you?” This was a surprise.

“I’m good. Really enjoying the quiet life. How are things with you, pretty boy?”

“Yeah, good. Interesting.”

“Oh, I’ve heard.” Damn it. He was really hoping he’d be the one to tell Morgan.

“Emily?”

“JJ, actually.” Oh, right. Rossi’s advice.

“And?”

“What do you mean ‘and’?”

“I’m sure you called me to tell me how you feel about it.”

“Spencer, how I feel about it doesn’t matter. How do YOU feel about it? Did you suspect at all?”

“Honestly? No. I mean I knew something was different after Mexico, but I figured she was just more protective considering everything that had happened. These things don’t happen to me, Morgan. I’m not the type of guy who generally gets his dream girl. So even if she was being blatantly obvious I’d choose to ignore it because I wouldn’t want to get my hopes up.”

“And how are your hopes now?”

“It’s... complicated.”

“Because JJ’s married with kids?”

“Well, yes. And frankly this only happened in my wildest dreams and that never took into account other people being hurt. It’s the difference between dreams and reality, I guess.”.

“I believe you. And yet you still feel like something is complicated.”

“I don’t want to be the reason the boys’ have their worlds ripped apart.”

“So it’s ok for JJ to be unhappy?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Spencer, what happened to you won’t happen to them. Your dad walked out and never looked back. Trust me, I spoke to JJ earlier, and she would move heaven and earth to make sure her boys know how loved they are. It’s not the same situation.”

“She told you I felt guilty, didn’t she?”

“She didn’t need to tell me.”

“What do I do, Morgan? How do I court a woman I’m already in love with, who seems to also already have intense feelings for me too?”

“Firstly, stop calling it courting. It’s 2020. Secondly, she doesn’t just seem to, she is all in for you, player.” Morgan chuckled.

“I’m being serious! How do I know when it’s appropriate to kiss her?”

“You‘ll know.”

“That is quite honestly the worst dating advice I’ve ever been given. Have I ever seemed like the type of guy who knew when to do things when it comes to matter of the heart?”

Morgan seemed to be enjoying this conversation, because he was spending a considerable amount of time laughing.

“I’m being serious! I need help!”

He heard Morgan take a deep breath.

“I haven’t forgotten that you’re a genius with an eidetic memory, so I’m only going to say this once. You know JJ better than anybody in the world. Trust in that, Spencer. Stop doubting yourself. You have given her more these past few years than Will has - and that is her husband and the father of her children. Do you know how much intimate knowledge about someone you’d need to do that? Just be yourself, and keep doing what you’ve been doing. Except now you can do more.”

He should have spoken to Morgan sooner. Reid still felt like a nervous wreck, but the advice that Morgan just gave him made he feel at least a little equipped to deal with what was to come.

“And here I thought it was my good looks that drew her in.”

“Oh, pretty boy has jokes now?”

“Also technically, an eidetic memory is about recalling images without the use of mnemonics, so-“

“Oh no, is that Hank I hear? Time for me to go!”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Bye bye, pretty boooy!”

Reid chuckled. “Bye Morgan, and thank you.”

“I’m here whenever you need the obvious pointed out to your genius brain. Take care, kid.”


“Uncle Dave! Aunt Krystall!” Michael had gone running in as soon as JJ had opened the car door.

Henry was grabbing their bags, so he was a few steps behind.

“Boys! Welcome! You ready to see your brand new weekend room?!” Rossi looked up at JJ. He lowered his tone. “Should I tell Krystall to pop open a bottle of wine? You look like you need it.”

She gave him a look that she hoped he would understand as an enthusiastic yes, and he nodded his head. She could get the rest of the stuff out of the car later. She went upstairs with Rossi and the boys to help them get settled in. There was a king bed in one room, and two twin beds in the other. The connecting bathroom had a shower, a tub, and two sinks as well as a toilet. It was the perfect temporary arrangement.

“Boys - why don’t you get unpacked? Then you need to do your homework Henry, and Michael why don’t you play with your legos? That will give Mum and Uncle Dave time to figure out dinner.” And talk.

The boys nodded, and JJ and Rossi headed downstairs.

“What happened?”

“Will reeked of alcohol when I got home with the boys after school. I sent them up to pack, and he baited me into an argument, and our voices were raised, and he said lots of accusatory things... And then I realised Henry was standing there. I don’t know how long he was there for, Rossi. I told him I’d speak to him about it but now I’m concerned about how much Will is going to drink? Or what he might say to the boys? You should have seen his face when I realised Henry had overhead something. He looked so cocky and smug.”

“I wish I had better advice for you, but none of my divorces involved children. I can imagine it’s really adding another aspect to the emotional side of this. Have you found a divorce attorney yet?”

“I’m so scared Will is going to drag this out so much that I literally get bankrupt.”

“I won’t let that happen.”

“Dave...”

“I don’t want to hear it, JJ. Honestly. Let me do this, please. I can’t sit by and see you stress about things that I can very easily help you with.”

“You’ve already done so much.”

“You spoke to Morgan?”

“Yes. He’s got a place that’s available in 2 months, and he’s offered it to me rent free for 6 months, after which we can discuss rent.”

“See? JJ, if I could tell you it was going to be straightforward and easy with Will, I would. But I can’t tell you that. Especially not after what you’ve just told me. We just don’t want you to have so much on your plate that you can’t focus on what is important. Let us help you as much as we can.”

“I just don’t want you guys to think I’m taking advantage of you.”

“Believe me, we don’t. And is the kid taking care of you emotionally?”

JJ blushed. Rossi chuckled at her reaction.

“Spence is Spence. And that’s all I need him to be.”

“Good. You know, it’s weird. I don’t know who to be more protective of in this situation.”

JJ laughed. “It’s a confusing time for everyone. I somehow feel both protective of Spence, and pressured to do more to advance things between us, while also feeling like I deserve to have Spence step up and show me what he’s got, you know?”

“Trust me, you’re not the only concerned one.”

“He spoke to you?”

“How did he put it... Oh yes. ‘Hey Rossi, you’ve been divorced a few times, haven’t you?’”

“No he didn’t!”

Rossi nodded. “I said to him what I said to you - my divorces never involved children. But I did say that he should let you decide how and when he interacts with the boys, and not to put you in awkward situations. So if he doesn’t contact you during the times he knows you’re with them, like this weekend for example, that’s the reason.”

“Thank you. It’s extra complicated because what do I do if Henry asks to see him? And then Henry goes back and tells Will that he hung out with Spence on the weekend? I know shit will hit the fan. But he’s Henry’s godfather too.”

JJ was nearly done with her first cup of wine. She really had to slow down. She couldn’t help but feel like a hypocrite after getting into an argument with Will about drinking.

“Considering what he heard, I think you might find that a conversation with Henry is in order. You don’t have to give him every single detail, but I think that an overview from you before Will can twist the story would be really beneficial.”

“I know, I’m just scared.”

“Of?”

“What if he blames me? What if he hates Spence? Or me?”

“I’m not going to tell you that’s a risk that you need to be willing to take. But the likelihood of that happening is higher if Will tells some convoluted version of events to him before you manage to speak to Henry.”

JJ nodded and drained her glass. “No time like the present, I guess.”

“Good luck. When you’re done with that, dinner will be ready on the table.”

She smiled at Rossi and made her way back upstairs.


“You boys alright?”

“Mummy look! I made the biggest tower EVER!”

“Woah! That’s amazing!” JJ was thinking that maybe having this conversation would be easier with Michael right now. But no, it was Henry she needed to speak to. She looked at him.

“Finished your homework?”

“Yeah, I didn’t have much.”

“Do you wanna come to my room for a bit so we can talk?” Henry nodded. “Michael, you keep building. Mummy and Henry will be just next door, ok?”

“Ok mummy!”

JJ and Henry sat down on her bed.

“I know you probably have questions. I don’t know how long you were standing there when Dad and I were arguing. Do you want to ask me anything first, or should I explain the situation?”

“Erm...”

“It’s ok, Henry. I’m not going to be mad at you, no matter what you ask.”

“Was I a mistake?”

Ah, fuck.

“No. People regret mistakes - and I have never, not for one second since I found out that I was pregnant with you, never ever regretted having you. How could I, Henry?”

“But you didn’t want to have me with Dad?”

“Not exactly... You’ll understand more when you get older, but your dad and I weren’t very serious at the time, and having kids isn’t really something you discuss or plan for at that stage. You weren’t a mistake, but you were a surprise. The best surprise I’ve ever gotten.”

Henry didn’t ask anything, so JJ continued.

“Generally guys either run away or get serious when this happens, and your dad proposed to me. I didn’t say yes at the time, but I figured the best thing to do would be to settle down with him. He was a decent guy, and I wanted you to have a father. And I thought that would be enough.”

“But we weren’t?”

“Oh no, Henry, you and Michael were more than I could ever dream of. And I tried for a very long time to be happy with your dad, but these last few years have been a struggle for me. The reason I didn’t want to have a serious relationship with your dad in the first place was because I had feelings for someone else, but that person just wasn’t ready. Then you came along and I tried to just move on, but I’ve realised that I can’t.”

“Is that what boning means?”

She was going to kill Will. Or at least kick him in the balls.

“No, boning means - you know what? It doesn’t matter what boning means. I didn’t do any of the things Dad said. I may be in love with someone else, but I was always faithful to your father.”

“Do I know him?”

“Yes.”

“Are you going to tell me who it is?”

She wasn’t sure what to do. If he reacted badly, Spence would be crushed. If she didn’t tell him, Henry might resent her for not being truthful. She had to take the chance.

“Uncle Spence.”

“..... What?”

“I know. And I’m sorry. I know it’s just such a complicated situation. I never wanted to do anything like this to you, Henry. Are you upset?”

“I don’t know...”

“What do you know that you feel?”

“Confused, I guess. I thought I’d be more upset, and I feel like I’m betraying Dad. But then I know that I don’t like it when Dad forces me to do something that he enjoys that I don’t, and I guess that’s kind of how you felt being married to Dad?”

JJ smiled. “It’s a little different, but yeah, you’re on the right track there.”

“Does this mean I can’t see Uncle Spence anymore?”

“That’s completely up to you. I need to make sure your dad is ok with it, though.”

“Oh... I don’t think he’ll like it.”

“Well, Uncle Spence and I are still trying to figure everything out. And before I can even contemplate that, I need to figure out how you and Michael are going to split your time between me and Dad.”

“Mum? What do I do if Dad acts like the way he did again?”

JJ could tell that Henry was worried. Day drunk Will clearly scared him as much as he had scared JJ.

“I tell you what - I’m going to get you a really basic phone, which you can use to text or call me whenever you want, ok? So if you’re ever scared, or worried, and I’m not there, you just call. It doesn’t matter if you think I’m working, I will try my best to pick it up and help you with whatever it is.”

She smiled at Henry, and he reached for her and wrapped his arms around her neck. She held him to her, and just breathed him in.

“I love you so much, Henry. So much. You have brought me so much joy since you were born, you have given me the strength I needed to face every obstacle that has come my way. You are everything to me, and I hope you never forget that. No matter what.”

“I love you too, Mum. Always.”

Before she knew what was happening, she heard a thud and felt a weight come flying into them.

“GROUP HUG!”

“Michael! Get off!”

As her boys started wrestling on her new bed, JJ slowly extracted herself from the tangle of limbs so she could watch them play fight. As uncertain as her future was, as scared as she was that Will might continue to throw curve balls at her, she had been overwhelmingly reminded today of just how much love there was in her life, and how fortunate she really was. She looked up and saw Rossi standing at the door, smiling at the scene in front of him, and somehow she just knew that everything was going to work itself out eventually. But for now, she was determined to give her boys the best weekend they’ve had in a while, so she jumped into the melee.

“Time for the tickle monster!”

As she was surrounded with pure happiness from her sons, she just knew that everything was going to be alright.

Chapter Text

The weekend had been just what the doctor ordered. JJ didn’t think she looked at her phone once. Her focus was completely on her boys. She had popped out to get Henry the cellphone she had promised him, and she felt a little better knowing he had a way to contact her no matter what. She wasn’t sure if that was something she should tell Will about, but considering the phone looked more basic than Spence’s, she doubted Henry would be pulling it out to use much anyway. She was in two minds about whether she wanted them to be called away on a case today - she would love to spend more time with the boys but her and Will hadn’t actually sorted out an arrangement for that, so there was a possibility she’d be alone. And she’d much rather be away on a case than alone.

Spence. Her mind had drifted to him a few times over the course of the weekend. She wondered what he was doing, and there were moments where she just wished he was there with them because it would have been the cherry on top of a great weekend. She was glad that Rossi had told her that Spence wouldn’t be contacting her that weekend - it had avoided any potential hurt that might have caused, and she was also very appreciative of how respectful Spence was of her time with her boys. But she still missed him.

She was excited to see him, and couldn’t help smiling when she saw him sitting at his desk, engrossed in a book. She walked to her desk, and could feel the moment he looked up when he noticed she had come in. She looked up after she had put her bags down and caught his eye. He gave her a sheepish smile and mouthed a good morning, and then mimed pouring coffee into his mug. She nodded, and he got up from his desk, and they walked to the pantry together.

“How was your weekend?”

“There was a rocky start, but it ended up being just what the doctor ordered. I did miss you, though.” She could see the blush spread from his cheeks to the tip of his ears. How is he so adorable?!

“What happened? I know when I called you said you weren’t having a great day but I didn’t think you wanted to elaborate then.”

“And you would have been right. It just wasn’t the time. Neither is this the place.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. I don’t mean for you to feel pressured to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“No, Spence, it isn’t that! Of course I want to tell you. Just not here.” She gestured around them.

He looked around the room and realised she was probably right. “Well, whenever you want to tell me, I’ll be there.”

“How about if we grab a coffee or something after work?”

Spence had been taking a sip of his coffee and he choked. JJ started thumping at his back while he was coughing.

“Are you ok?!”

“Yes I’m fine, just went down the wrong hole.”

He still looked a little put out. “Spence? What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. It’s just that... I really wanted to be the one to ask you out.”

He was looking at anything except her.

“It doesn’t have to be a date.”

“What?”

“The after work coffee. It doesn’t have to be a date. It’s just me telling my best friend about something sucky that happened a few days ago.”

“Oh. I guess that would work.”

They started walking back towards their desks. “Of course, since it isn’t a date, there won’t be a goodnight kiss.” She had said that specifically to get him to blush, and she was rewarded in great measure. Chuckling to herself, she was about to sit on her chair when Emily summoned them all to the conference room. They had a case.


New York. The city that never sleeps. And neither did the unsub. They never did get their after work chat on Monday, but it was now Thursday evening, and they had wrapped up the case. Emily has asked if everyone preferred if they flew home the next morning, and they had all unanimously agreed. Everyone had scattered, they were all tired and Reid didn’t think anyone was interested in seeing more of each other for tonight. He hadn’t left the precinct, because JJ hadn’t left. She was putting the case files away. She always seemed to help with that after cases, he thought it must just be a habit leftover from her media liaison days.

“Hey.” JJ looked up to see Spence leaning against the door of the conference room.

“Oh! I didn’t think anybody was still here!” She was pleasantly surprised to see him.

“Just me. Everyone else has left. Need some help?” He walked up to stand beside her.

“I’m basically done. Thanks though.” She smiled up at him. Reid’s mind went blank for a moment. What was it I wanted to do?

Oh. That’s right. She owes me a coffee date.

“So, I seem to recall someone promised me coffee after work?”

She gave him a wry look. “Blame the unsub.”

“I have time now.” Reid shrugged his shoulders as he said it.

“How about that - so do I! Strange times indeed. Let me just grab my coat, oh genius one.”

Reid stopped her by reaching for her arm as she walked past him. “Spence?”

“Jennifer, I don’t know if this needs to be said but it just feels like I should say this. Of course I’m normally wrong about these things but I’ve been thinking about it and there seems to be more pros than-“

“Spence!”

“Sorry. I’ve been thinking about asking if you wanted to upgrade the after work coffee into an actual dinner date. The thing is, I really want to know what happened over the weekend. Not because I’m a busybody, but because I know it’s been on your mind. And I want to be there for you. And while we could talk about that on a date, I don’t really want the main topic of conversation on our first date to be about.... well, to be about Will. And I know that’s probably my ego speaking and I’m being stupid because it would be so lovely to take you out for the first time here in New York City and I know I need to work on my ‘game’ as Morgan would call it, but I pro-“

“Spence!” God, he could really ramble. She had managed to quieten him though.

“Thank you for telling me. And I understand your reasons for it, and I totally agree. I want our first date to be about us. And it doesn’t have to be fancy, or in New York, or some elaborate plan at all. The only thing that has to be present is you. I’m really not sure what kind of dating advice you’ve been getting, but I’m already in love with all of you.”

“I’d like to think that - but you’ve never experienced me as a partner.”

“Oh believe me, I’m looking forward to that.” She gave him a pointed look and watched that blush spread again. She saw it disappear under the collar of his shirt and wondered how low it got. Get your head out of the gutter, JJ!!!

She cleared her throat. “Shall we start walking?”

Spence nodded. “Do you have a place in mind?”

“I think we could pick a direction and stumble upon a coffee place within a block or two. Let’s see what fate brings us.”

As they left the precinct she looped her arm through his. He could feel her warmth even through their layers of clothing. He looked down at her.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah. Just cold.”

Spence wasn’t sure what he was meant to do. Did her saying that mean he could put his arm around her? Should he give her his coat? His scarf?

“Spence?”

Oh crap, JJ had been saying something to him. She was looking at him expectantly. He could just come up with something vague to say that might end up making sense in relation to her question, but was there really a point lying about this?

“Sorry, I didn’t catch what you said.”

“You ok?”

“I don’t know why this is so hard. I mean, I think I do know why, but I never imagined it would be.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean when you said you were cold I couldn’t decide if I should put my arm around you, or offer you my coat, or scarf, or if you’d get insulted if I did like you were some damsel that needs saving because I know you’re not, and your strength is just one of the things I love about you, and I know I’m rambling again but I honestly feel a headache coming on.”

“Spence, if you need more time, we can just go back to the hotel. It’s fine.” JJ smiled at him.

“No! That’s definitely not what I want! I just...” JJ didn’t push. She just waited for him to be ready to say whatever he needed to. Spence sighed, looked to the sky, and shut his eyes.

“I just want to be able to give you more, but I don’t know if I’m capable of it. I want to do sweet things and say romantic or sexy things but I don’t know how. And it’s so frustrating, and to be honest embarrassing because I’m 40 years old. No wonder I’m single, right?”

“Spence... We spoke about this already.”

“I know we did. But can you honestly tell me that all your worries aren’t still plaguing you?”

“Ok, yes, they’re there but not as dominant in my mind.”

“JJ... Guys like me don’t get the girl. I don’t have much to offer you. I’m so scared you’re going to realise this and leave.”

“What and guys like Will do? Newsflash, you beat him. And you did that by being you.” JJ could see he didn’t believe her. This was obviously something that would take some time. She wasn’t going to get annoyed at it, but she was clearly going to have to work a little harder to show him that she did know the real him, and she knew she wanted everything he had to offer.

“Look, there’s a coffee place just up ahead. Let’s get out of the cold and get some caffeine in us.”

They walked to the cafe that JJ had spotted, ordered some coffee and cake, and found quiet seats in the back.

“So... what happened on Friday?”

JJ explained in detail about her phone call with Morgan, the confrontation with Will, and the conversation with Henry. Reid wasn’t surprised at Morgan’s generosity, couldn’t decide if how Will was acting was out of character, but his jaw hit the floor when JJ told him that Henry knew about him. About them.

“He must hate me.” Spencer looked devastated.

“No! No, he could never. Spence, he loves you. Honestly. He’s just trying to process. I think the whole situation with what Will did helped him to realise why I couldn’t stay with him. He just wants us all happy.”

“He’s such a great kid.”

“He is.” It always made JJ feel so proud when people spoke highly of her children. They were her pride and joy.

“What are you going to do about Will?”

JJ sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know if he was only doing something to try and get a reaction out of me. But at the same time I can’t help but be worried that he’s going to start drinking more. He’s a cop, there are guns in the house. I don’t need him intoxicated around firearms and my kids. Or intoxicated when he goes to pick up the kids or something.”

“Scared enough to make you consider leaving the BAU?”

“I don’t know. It’s crossed my mind so many times over the years. Now I know obviously that time with you was one of the reasons I wanted to stay.”

“You don’t want time with me anymore?” He stuck out his bottom lip a little bit. The cheek.

“Well, I’m hoping that most of my time off the job will be spent with you now...”

“Oh. Right. Yes.”

“But the thing is, I’d have to split the boys with Will anyway. And you’ll be away on cases. So I’ll probably be home alone quite a bit. And I don’t really want that. At the moment now when I’m away on cases I’m with you, and the arrangement at the moment is that I get the boys on the weekend. It works.” Spence nodded. “Have you ever thought about leaving?”

“About 10 years ago. I had just turned 30 and I just felt like I hadn’t done enough with my life.”

“Excuse me?”

“What?”

“Spence - out of all of us - how could you actually think that about yourself? I have one measly bachelors!”

“You’re a mother! You’re the strongest woman I know! And you help people everyday!”

“So do you! We do the same job, you know.”

“I know... And that helped me realise I was being silly. I guess it was more that I really wanted to help my mum, you know? I wanted there to have been the cure for schizophrenia somewhere in my brain.”

“You do help your mum. Your devotion to her is unparalleled. And I know for a fact that she’s so proud she basically has a superhero for a son. We’ve spent a lot of time together, you know.”

“Of course I know. What you did for me, and for her, while I was in jail... I’ll never be able to repay you, JJ.”

“I never expected any payment. It’s not why I did any of it.”

“I wish I could have given her grandchildren.” 

“You still can.” It just came out, as it always did when they were talking about Spence having kids. Except this time, she realised she was the other person in the equation.

“No, JJ, honestly. I didn’t say that to make you feel obliged or guilty or anything. I just thought I had time, you know? But then you blink and you’re 40 and you don’t know how much longer your mum will actually be able to remember you.”

“You don’t think I meant it?”

“I’m your best friend, remember? You haven’t exactly kept it a secret that you didn’t want anymore kids.”

“Yeah, anymore with Will.”

“I don’t think now is the right time to talk about this.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

Reid shook his head. “It’s my fault for bringing it up. So what are you going to do about Will?”

“I didn’t want to involve lawyers because of the expense and money is definitely going to be tight for a while. I don’t want Rossi to think I’m taking advantage of him, but considering what Will has already pulled, I also think I shouldn’t be too naive and trusting that everything will just go smoothly. It might be easier to wrap this up quick if there was some external pressure.”

“Or he’ll get annoyed that you didn’t trust him and act out even more.”

“Yeah. So basically, I’m fucked.”

“Go with the lawyer.”

“You think so?”

Spencer shrugged. “If you trust him and he acts out, you’d need a lawyer. If you get one and he gets annoyed and acts out, you’d need a lawyer. I just think either way it’s better to have someone on your side who is ready to push the right buttons. They might be able to anticipate what Will might do better, and you can be proactive instead of reactive. That might make all the difference.”

“That makes sense.” The two of them went silent for a little while, as they finished their coffees.

“I’m sorry you’re going through this, JJ.”

“You don’t need to apologise, you know. It’s not your fault.”

“I’m still sorry to see you struggling. I wish I could do more to help.”

“Spence, I have a future to look forward to. It’s what is keeping me going. Believe me, you’re a huge help. Not to mention that you’re not responsible for how Will is choosing to act. But right now I’m beat. Is it ok if we just grab a cab back to the hotel? I don’t think I could walk it.”

“Of course. I’m ready when you are.”

Reid saw JJ tap at some app on her phone. He wondered if he should get something fancy like hers. It took better photos. He might want to take better photos in the future to remember this journey.

They stood outside the cafe, next to each other, waiting for the cab JJ had booked. She had her arms wrapped around herself and she looked cold and tired. He reached for her back and started to rub circles, in hope he might generate some heat and be helpful. She looked up at him and smiled, and he felt like his heart was going to burst with love and happiness. He knew this wasn’t a date, but what JJ had said in the cafe was true. No matter how hard this was - he had a future to look forward to. A future he had all but written off as a dream to revisit on nights he felt alone. He smiled to himself when JJ leaned her head against his shoulder. It didn’t last long, because their cab arrived soon after, but as soon as they got in and got comfortable, she lay her head on his shoulder again. He could almost feel the fatigue radiating off her.

He desperately wanted to hold her hand, or put his arm around her, and he hated that he was so indecisive. He felt her loop her arm around his again, and he heard her let out a sigh.

“You’re warm.”

“Thank you?”

She poked his thigh with her other hand as she chuckled to herself. She felt him looking at her, so she lifted her head.

“What?”

“You’re beautiful.”

“Oh. Thank you.” It was her turn to blush as she lay her head back onto his shoulder.

They sat in silence for the next few minutes, their breathing in sync with each other. They were warm, and comfortable, and felt more relaxed than they had in days. But soon enough Reid saw their hotel up ahead.

He heard JJ sigh again, as he felt her turn her head into his shoulder and take a deep breath, almost like she was breathing him in. He felt the lightest of kisses on his shoulder, through the layers of his shirt and his blazer. She took her arm out from his as the taxi came to a stop, and stretched after she got out of the car. Like a cat. It’s amazing the things you notice even after 14 years. The thought put a smile on Reid’s face.

They made their way through the lobby and into the elevator, nothing left to be said, but periodically sharing awkward smiles as they caught each other’s eyes. They got to the floor, and Reid walked her right up to her room door.

“Well. Good night.”

“Good night, Spence.” He was being fidgety.

“Are you ok?”

“I don’t know if I should do something more.”

“Do you want to?” He gave her a look that implied he obviously wanted to. “What’s causing the hesitation, then? I’m not pushing you at all, but I hope it’s not because you think I don’t want to.”

“No it’s not that... I want to, and I know you wouldn’t mind-“

“Understatement.”

“-but I just don’t think it’s the right time.”

“Ah... and you don’t want to mess this up. You want to do it right.”

“Exactly.”

“Well, if there’s anything my current situation has taught me, it’s that sometimes if you always want to calculate all the variables and wait for the perfect moment, you’ll realise that life just passes you by. Obviously I doubt you’re going to wait three years to kiss me the way I waited three years to decide to leave my marriage, I mean I truly hope not any-“

JJ was cut off by the feeling of Spencer’s lips on hers, and his hands cradling her face. It took her a moment to gather her wits about her, but once she did she grabbed at the lapels off his blazer and pulled him close. Neither of them deepened the kiss any further, but JJ didn’t think they had to. She could feel a fire slowly building in her as her knees felt weak, and she swore the only thing keeping her upright was Spence’s hands on her face.

He pulled away and leaned his forehead against hers, both of them breathing harder than they had been. His eyes were closed.

“I thought this wasn’t the right time?”

“You were rambling.”

“Remind me to ramble more if that’s what it gets me.”

Spencer chuckled. JJ could feel his breath on her face. She didn’t want this bubble to burst. She didn’t want this moment to end.

“You should sleep.” JJ nodded. He was right. Both of them should. She was tempted to ask him to stay like she did last week, but she knew he would decline, and for good reason. It was definitely not the time for that.

She turned around to put her key card into the door and open it. He was standing right behind her, she could feel his breath in her hair and God she would be lying if she didn’t admit it was taking all her willpower and then some to stop herself from dragging him into her room with her.

She stepped into the room and turned around.

“Good night, Spence. Thank you for tonight. I really needed it.”

“The pleasure was all mine, I’m glad I managed to help somehow. Sweet dreams, Jennifer.”

He gave her one last smile, then turned and walked down the hall to his room. She watched him go, only shutting her door when she saw him get into the room. She sat on her bed and lightly touched her lips. She’d never had a physical reaction like that from a first kiss, but this was also the only time she had already been in love with the guy. She hoped beyond hope that was going to be her last first kiss, but couldn’t wait to experience all the other firsts they would experience together on this journey.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Chapter Text

JJ had tossed and turned for 30 minutes before giving up and grabbing her cellphone off the bedside table. She contemplated texting Spence, there was a chance that he was awake too, right? It was the most difficult thing - there was nothing more she wanted than to dive straight into this relationship and try to move forward full steam ahead, but then she also had a lot of the reservations that she knew he felt too. But was the fear of making a mistake stopping them from actually being happy? Should they just give into their desires? Or should they try to hold back and do things at a “normal” pace, even when this situation was far from normal? Their kiss had both set her on edge, as well as somehow take the edge off. She wasn’t sure how much longer she’s be able to last before she jumped him.

She’d never wanted to admit it to herself, but she knew there were times these last few years where she used Will as a substitute for Spence. Oh, she’d denied it while it was happening of course. It was just coincidence when she came home in the mood on days where Spence had looked particularly delectable. The day they had rescued Spence from the cult, she had come straight home and practically dragged Will into bed because she just needed to feel something. Someone. She had burst into tears straight after, because she felt so guilty not only for using Will, but because it hadn’t worked. She hadn’t felt anything, because he wasn’t the person she actually needed. There was also the few weeks after her confession to Spence, that was filled with a lot of guilt sex on her part because somehow she felt like that would make her feel better after confessing her love to someone who was not her husband. It hadn’t worked. She had just felt even more guilty.

She knew why she’d done it. She was desperate to give her boys a good, stable family life. But she also knew that she was clinging to the fact that she hadn’t physically cheated as a sort of get out of jail free card. If a girlfriend of hers had come to her saying their husband had done what JJ did, well... She would have had some choice words to describe that guy. It’s amazing what perspective and hindsight can do to a person. She knew she had fucked up, she knew there were better ways she could have done this, and sooner. But there was nothing she could do about it now. It didn’t stop her from feeling guilty about everything to everyone, but she had to try, or she wouldn’t be able to move on with her life.

She realised they’d have to speak to Prentiss, and she made a mental note to mention that to Spence in the morning. There wasn’t any issues with them being a couple, but she knew it meant they’d likely be kept apart in the field. She loved working with Spence, so the thought of that made her a little sad. They bounced ideas off each other seamlessly, and it had always amused her how in tune they both were with each other’s feelings. The amount of time he’s said “What is it, Jennifer?” as he realised that something was bothering her, or that she was close to a breakthrough. He was also the only person who called her Jennifer, and she had always hated not being called JJ, but it felt so intimate when he said it. It was theirs.

JJ groaned when she looked at the clock. She had to be up in a few hours. She thought of calling Spence again. She’d sleep if he was here. Oh, she’d want to do more, but it’s not like she couldn’t control herself. She didn’t want to bother him if he was asleep though. She knew he wouldn’t mind but she’d feel bad. She also wasn’t sure if she was being disrespectful to Prentiss in any way. Nobody would likely know, but she didn’t want to betray anyone’s trust. The case was over, and she honestly didn’t think Prentiss would bother. But again, she didn’t want to put Spence in a tough spot.

Her phone buzzed.

Spence: Are you awake?

She didn’t bother replying to the text, she just called his number instead.

“Hey. I hope my text didn’t wake you?”

“No, I’ve been tossing and turning. Can’t get to sleep. Are you ok?”

“I’ve got a killer migraine and I know sleep would help it, but I can’t ignore the pain enough to actually get to sleep.”

“Do you have anything you could take for it? I mean I know you try to avoid narcotics but I just mean ibuprofen or something like that, just to take the edge off enough?”

“I don’t have anything on me. I do normally have some, but I must have forgotten to refill my stash that is in my go bag.”

“Give me a sec. I’ll call you back.” She hung up and looked through her bag. She normally had some painkillers on her because she got terrible period cramps. She grabbed them out of her bag, along with her key card and her cellphone, and padded over to Spence’s room. She knocked twice.

He opened the door. His hair was ruffled, he was in pyjamas pants and a CalTech t-shirt. He looked comfortable. It was a side of Spence she had never really seen, and one she desperately wanted to.

“JJ? What are doing here?” He was honestly surprised.

“I had some painkillers and thought I’d bring them over to you.”

“You really didn’t have to, but thank you so much. My brain appreciates it.” He reached out for them. They fell into silence. JJ bouncing on her feet.

“So...”

“Can I come in?”

“Jennifer... I don’t know. I would love to, believe me, but I just don’t know.”

“Why?”

“Well for one, I’m not sure how much trouble we’ll be in if Emily finds out.”

“I’ll leave in a few hours. I promise.”

He looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

“What? I will. Can I at least come in so I’m not loitering in the hallway?”

He stepped aside to let her into his room, and shut the door when she was inside. He walked over to his bedside table and downed two of the tablets JJ had given him. He turned around and saw that she had sat down on his bed. They were dressed similarly, for comfort, ready for bed. Her hair was down, framing her face. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She smiled at him and patted the space next to her. He climbed on the bed and the two of them leaned back against the headboard. Neither said anything.

“I don’t think I’ve ever shared a bed with someone I’ve never been on a date with.”

JJ laughed. “You know I’m not here for that.”

“I know, I just wanted to break the silence.” And make you laugh.

“I thought of calling you before you texted me. I couldn’t sleep. But I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Oh. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have texted you.”

“No! That’s not why I’m saying this. My point is, I just want to sleep Spence. And I don’t know this for sure, and would really like to test this hypothesis, but I think being next to you would help.”

“Me?”

“You’re... solid. You make me feel safe. You help me forget, just for a moment, that I don’t really have my life together right now. You know how you needed the pills to take the edge off the migraine so you can get some sleep? I think I need you to take the edge of the constant stress that I feel I’ve been under.”

He wasn’t sure what to say to that. He wanted it to be true. He wanted to help her. He just didn’t know if he could, particularly when he could barely keep his eyes open because the light made his migraine worse. JJ noticed the squinting.

She reached over to switch off the light. His eyes were grateful, and adjusted to the darkness quite quickly.

“Spence? Come here.” She patted her lap. Wasn’t he meant to be the one to give her comfort?

“Stop thinking. Please just come here. It will help us both. I promise.”

He lay his head down on her lap. She laced her fingers through his hair, and started stroking her nails softly down his scalp as she ran her fingers through his hair. He had to physically restrain himself from groaning out loud. He should have just skipped the painkillers and jumped straight to this. He had his eyes closed, and was fighting hard to stop himself from drifting off.

“Sleep.”

He opened his eyes to look up at her. She was smiling down on him, and looked totally relaxed.

“But I’m meant to help you sleep too.”

“Trust me. I’ll be asleep not long after you. Now shush.” She went back to stroking his scalp.

He couldn’t fight it even if he tried. He was asleep within minutes. JJ could sense the change in his breathing. His mouth went slack. She hadn’t been lying when she said she’d follow soon after, as she felt the heaviness of sleep descend on her. She had enough presence of mind to reach for her phone to set an alarm for 5.45am. That should give her more than enough time to get to her room before anyone noticed, and get dressed before breakfast. She fell asleep right after she had done that.


There was a really annoying beep that Spencer could hear. He couldn’t figure out what was making that noise, all he knew was that he wanted it to stop because it was pulling him away from the really comfortable cloud he was currently suspended in. As consciousness slowly started creeping back, he realised it was probably an alarm so he swung his arm out towards what he thought was the general direction of his bedside table. Instead of his hand smacking against wood, he felt it collide with what definitely felt like flesh.

“OW!”

Spencer froze for a second, his hand not moving, as he quickly came to full consciousness and realised what his hand had hit, and was still resting on. He was out of the bed in seconds.

“JJ, I’m so sorry, honestly I didn’t mean to, I was half asleep and just wanted to stop the alarm, I’m so so sorry!”

JJ still looked pretty tired, but she was laughing as she rubbed the side of her chest - which was what Spencer’s hand had collided with and rested on until he’d realised what he had done.

“Spence, it’s fine. Just be a bit gentler the next time you want to cop a feel, alright?”

She looked up hoping the joke had put a smile on his face but he looked even more horrified.

“I swear that wasn’t my intention, I would nev-“

“Spence, it’s ok. I know. I was just making a joke.”

“I’m so sorry.”

She swung her legs round so she was sitting up, reached for his hand and gave a little tug. He kneeled down in front of her, with her knees on either side of him. He kept his eyes down.

“Spence? Look at me.”

He slowly made eye contact. She cradled his face in her hands.

“It was an accident. Thank you for apologising. I mean I was hoping for a sweeter wake up call...”

“I’ll make it up to you. I promise.” He had looked away again.

She ran her fingers through his hair and leaned his head back so he had to look at her. Note to self: he really does love it when I do that.

“You have the rest of our lives to make it up to me. There’s no rush.”

The most adorable smile came over him when she said that. He reached up to hold one of her hands in his, and turned his head to drop a kiss on her palm. He stood up, and pulled her to her feet.

“We should probably get dressed.”

JJ nodded. She grabbed her things off the table and made her way to the door.

“Thank you. For the pills and for staying with me. I don’t think I’ve slept that well in a while.”

“It was my pleasure. I needed it too.”

She got on her tiptoes and gave him a peck on the cheek. “See you downstairs in an hour?”

He nodded, and she gave him one last smile before she left.

She had just gotten to her door when she heard footsteps down the hall.

“JJ?”

Shit. Emily.

“Hey! Morning!”

“What are you doing creeping back to your room in pyjamas at six in the morning?”

“I... went to get ice?”

“Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”

“Emily, listen, Spence just has a migraine, and I passed him some pain pills because he hadn’t topped his up in his go bag, and we just fell asleep. Nothing happened.”

“It’s fine, really. You’re not in trouble. The case is over, as far as I’m concerned you’re off the clock. But as both your unit chief and your friend, and someone who is totally rooting for you guys... Just keep me updated. I can’t protect you from any backlash if I’m not prepared for it.”

“You think there’ll be problems?”

“To be honest, not really. But I can at least cover for you with the others if you didn’t want them to know yet. All I’m saying is that I’ve got your back, I’m just asking you to make it a little bit easier for me so I’m not blindsided.”

“I know. I’m sorry. This isn’t something we planned.”

“Seriously, don’t apologise. I know you would have told me eventually. We all want to see this work, JJ. We love the two of you.”

“Thank you, Emily. I really appreciate it.”

“Alright, well, get dressed. I’m sure you have a breakfast date with loverboy to look forward to.”

Emily winked at her and headed into her room.

JJ let out a sigh of relief when she got into her room. That could have gone very differently. She never thought that Emily would give her a hard time at all, but she was right that she’d likely have to stick her neck out for them. She also wasn’t sure if she wanted everyone else to know yet. She was scared about how this might look to them. The last thing she wanted was people assuming they’d been having an affair all this time.

It was that niggling thought that pushed her to decide to call Rossi’s lawyer friend later that day. She didn’t want to wait any longer. She knew what she wanted and she was going to make sure she had all the support she needed to get through it.

Chapter Text

Spence was getting dressed after his shower and couldn’t decide what to wear. This was ridiculous. He’d known JJ for 15 years. He knew she loved him, but was there anything she would change about him? His sense of style had definitely evolved over the years, he generally looked like a regular FBI agent nowadays because he was usually in suits. Well, a scruffy FBI agent. Should I cut my hair? JJ looked like she had enjoyed playing with it last night as much as he had enjoyed feeling it. Probably not then.

He couldn’t wipe the dopey smile off his face even if he wanted to. They had kissed. It had been amazing. He had actually made the move! Morgan was right. He just somehow knew that the timing was right. And truthfully, for the first night since Mexico, he had slept deeply because he actually felt safe. He’d never discussed this with anyone, because he generally got some sleep every night, but it always felt like he was constantly looking over his shoulder. Last night was the first time in 3 years he didn’t feel that. It was amazing.

It was Friday morning, which meant that JJ would have the boys from the end of the school day until Monday morning. It was a short flight from New York to DC though, and they’d have plenty of time before she had to get the boys. It would be perfect to be able to spend a few hours with her before the weekend.

His mind made up, he got dressed quickly and packed his bag. He was in the lobby of the hotel before anyone else, so he ordered some coffee and breakfast pastries while waiting on JJ, and he spotted her walking towards him just as the coffee got there.

“Great timing.” Spence poured her a cup. JJ brought it to her face and took a deep inhale.

“Have I mentioned I love you?”

Reid blushed. “Once or twice.”

“By the way, Emily caught me sneaking back to my room.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry, we’re not in trouble. She just said to give her a heads up. I think we need to speak to her anyway.” JJ looked up at Reid. He seemed unsure. “You don’t want to?”

“No, don’t get me wrong, I do, I’d love to tell her we’re in a relationship if you’re comfortable with that label. It’s just...”

JJ nudged his foot with hers. “Of course I’m comfortable with it. It’s just what?”

“She’ll stop pairing us up in the field. And it’s stupid, I know, because logically that’s the right thing to do. But I love working with you.”

“You’ll still be working with me...”

“I know. I did say it was stupid.”

“It’s not stupid, Spence. I’ll miss it too. But if that’s what I have to give up to have more time with you outside of this job, it’s worth it to me.”

“On that note... Do you have any plans today?”

“Nothing until I pick the boys up. Why?”

“Do you want to come over? We can get lunch delivered and just hang out.”

“Like a date?”

“Yes? I don’t want to hang out as ‘friends’ anymore. I know its not the fanciest or most thought out date, but I just want to have some time alone with you.”

“Time alone, eh?”

“Jennifer Jareau, get your head out of the gutter.”

JJ laughed. “See I just want you to join me in the gutter, then maybe we’ll get somewhere.” Spencer snorted. “I’d love to come over, Spence. You know I don’t need fancy.”

“I know. But I want to give you fancy.”

“We’re having hotel breakfast and you’re in a suit and tie - that’s pretty fancy to me.”

“You don’t like the suit?”

JJ paused to look at his face. He was trying to seem nonchalant. She’d seen him lie straight faced to seasoned unsubs and yet here he was literally giving everything away.

“Why are you asking?”

“I just realised while I was getting dressed that I didn’t have a clue what you might like to see me in.”

She was tempted to make another joke but refrained. “I don’t take offence at anything you wear.”

“That’s far from an endorsement.”

“Spence, I don’t look at you and think of the ways I’d change you. Is that what you think when you look at me?”

“Obviously not, you’re perfect.”

JJ put her hand on his. “So are you.” She could tell he was going to be derisive. “Spence, I know life has made you think that you should second guess yourself when it comes to the ladies, but when it comes to this lady, I just want you to be you. If I don’t like something, I’ll tell you. But the colour of your ties isn’t suddenly going to make me realise I don’t love you.”

“I know that objectively, but I also know loads of people are going to look at me and wonder how I managed to snag you.”

“There will also be many people who will probably think I’m too stupid for you.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“Even so, who cares what they think, Spence? Do you?”

“No... I’m just scared that one day you might.”

“Will you toss me aside in a couple of years because you’re tired of being with someone who you can’t have in depth physics discussions with?”

“Jennifer, you know that doesn’t-“

“Then believe me, Spence. Please. Believe me when I say that when I look at you, I am looking at someone that I desire. For everything that you are. For your heart, for your brain, and yes, for your looks, among other things. I want you, Spence.”

Hearing JJ say those four words made his brain go into overdrive.

“Spence?”

“Hmmmm?” Why did that come out so high pitched!?

“You alright?”

“Yup!”

He could see her smirking. “You sure?”

“Drink your coffee.”

She giggled and went back to munching on her pastry. Reid watched her. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this... fortunate. He had always felt like he had drawn the short straw in life. Everything seemed to be a struggle. He was used to things going south for him, or for him to have to really fight to get something he wanted. He tried to be as optimistic as possible, and he always succeeded when it came to uplifting others, but he always failed at it when it came to issues pertaining himself. He knew he had already brought that into this situation multiple times, and he was trying to resist it. He didn’t want JJ to get tired of constantly having to talk him off ledges. He was trying to stay in the moment. And right now, watching this beautiful amazing woman in front of him having breakfast, having heard her tell him that she loved him and she wanted him... It was hard not to feel like he was floating. They definitely needed to speak to Emily.

“Good morning!”

Spencer jumped. He had been so engrossed in his thoughts he hadn’t heard Rossi come up to them.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Of course not, Spence drag that chair over, please?” He reached for the chair that JJ was pointing at.

Rossi ordered his breakfast and eyed the young couple in front of him. They’ve made progress. That’s good.

“Any plans for the weekend?”

“Probably just catch up on some reading and visit my mum. Nothing exciting. What about you?”

“Oh, I’m sure Henry and Michael will find something to fill my time with.” Rossi smiled at JJ. JJ returned it, but faltered a little when she saw the look on Spence’s face.

“Spence? You can come over too you know?”

“I know, but I’d rather wait until Henry is ready. I just miss them.”

“I’m sorry Reid, I shouldn’t have brought it up.” Rossi felt bad for not realising how hearing that might affect the boy wonder.

“No, honestly. Don’t apologise. It’s great that they’re having a good time. They deserve it.” JJ had reached over and laid her hand on his knee under the table to comfort him, and it served well as a distraction.

“Speaking of the boys... Rossi could I have the number of your divorce lawyer friend, please? I thought it might be a good idea to call her today.”

“I am so happy to hear that. I’ll text you her details. What made you decide to take the plunge?”

“Spence pointed out that there would be no harm doing it, but that not doing it might prove a little risky.”

Rossi smirked. “He’s a clever one, isn’t he? Have you heard from Will at all this week?”

JJ nodded. “I call the house in the evenings to speak to the boys. I could easily just use the cell I bought Henry to keep in contact, but Will doesn’t know he has it yet. So if I don’t call, he’ll either figure it out or he’ll somehow use it against me in the divorce. I’m not going to risk anything that might mean I lose the boys.”

“You won’t lose the boys.” Rossi and Reid spoke up at the same time.

“Just trying to cover all my bases.” JJ shrugged.

“As you should.” Rossi nodded.

The rest of the team had made their way to the lobby, so Rossi got his coffee in a takeaway cup and they all gathered at the entrance.

“Shall we?” Emily looked at all of them, before they all loaded up into the SUVs and made their way to the airstrip.


Spence and JJ were next to each other on the jet, both attempting to read their own books, but neither getting anywhere. They were both excited to spend some time together once they landed, but they were also nervous, which meant they were just acting pretty awkwardly on the plane. It wasn’t obvious enough for Luke, Tara or Matt to notice - especially since they were engrossed in their own things at the moment - but the situation was highly amusing to Rossi and Prentiss, who were sitting across from each other and watching the happy couple discretely.

“You know, I caught JJ sneaking back to her room at 6 in the morning.”

“You don’t say? Well, well, well. Bunch of rule breakers.”

“JJ swore they didn’t do anything. Spence had a migraine and they just fell asleep.”

“And you believed her?” Rossi looked at her incredulously.

“If it had come from you, I wouldn’t have believed it. But JJ and Spence? Yeah, I believed her.”

Rossi snickered. “Touché. I think they have plans after this.”

“That explains the awkwardness.”

“I feel like I’m watching teenagers instead of 40 year olds.”

“Be nice. It’s adorable.”

“It’s refreshing to see them happy. Both of them.”

Prentiss raised her coffee. “Long may it continue.” They clinked coffee cups.


When they landed, Rossi quietly asked JJ if he would see her at the house soon, and she nonchalantly said she was just going to drop Reid off before running some errands. He tried to keep the smirk off his face as he got confirmation that they did indeed have plans. Good. They need to spend some time together alone outside of the job.

Nobody else thought much of JJ and Reid getting into her car together because it was actually something that she did quite often after a case. But the two of them knew this was massive. This wasn’t coffee and cake in a public space. This was the two of them. Alone. Which they had been last night, but that had been in a hotel paid for by the FBI while they were working. This was Spence’s apartment. There wasn’t any rules they had to abide by.

After a few minutes of awkward silence while driving, Spence thought that he had to be the one to break the silence. He had been the one to ask her to come over after all.

“JJ?”

“Hmmmm?” She kept her eyes on the road but he could tell that she was listening.

“I just wanted to tell you that I don’t expect to have sex.”

Now THAT got her to take her eyes of the road. “Excuse me?”

“I don’t mean ever! That came out wrong. I just don’t really want there to be awkwardness and I don’t know if it’s because you might think that maybe I want to do more. Which I do. Just not now.”

“Because it’s too soon?”

“No? I don’t know. I keep going back and forth about whether too soon actually applies to us. I meant it when I said I’d never kissed someone I haven’t gone on a date with. But I can’t regret that kiss.”

“Hah. I wrestled with the same dilemma this morning.”

“And?”

“Well, I don’t think too soon applies to us. It’s a unique situation we’re in but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us speeding the physical along to catch up with where we are emotionally.”

“Oh. Did you think we were going to... be physical today?” The last thing Spence wanted to do was disappoint JJ.

“No, Spence. Honestly. And even if I did, it’s something we’d both need to be comfortable with anyway, so I wouldn’t have pushed it. But can I ask why you’re dead set against it happening now?”

“I don’t want you to have to leave a few hours after. I just... I guess I’m being ridiculous, but I just think I’m going to need you there, you know? Last weekend, I kept having to remind myself that this was happening. That it wasn’t just a figment of my imagination that I had thought up to get me through some tough times.”

“Spence... You know you don’t have to be completely radio silent with me while I’m with the boys.”

“I know. I guess I just need moments to remember that it’s real. For when we’re apart. Because it’s been nearly fifteen years of living vicariously through my imagination.”

JJ pulled into a parking spot outside Spence’s apartment building. She turned to him, held his face in her hands, and gave him a soft peck on the lips.

“What was that for?” He blushed as he asked the question.

“I’m giving you moments.” JJ winked at him. “Now come on, I’m pretty tired and lounging around on your couch is getting more appealing with every passing second.”

Reid grabbed both their go bags, and they made their way upstairs, JJ walking behind Reid up the stairs. He fumbled with his key a little, but managed to keep it together enough to get the door open. He stepped in and held it open for her, shutting the door after her. They were alone. He was alone with JJ in his apartment. What the hell do I do now? It was too early to get lunch. They had at least an hour to kill before he could conceivably start thinking about that. He looked at JJ, who was standing a few feet away from him. She was looking around the room, but sensed he was staring and caught his eye. After a pause, he shrugged, and smiled sheepishly. She stretched out her hand to him. He put their bags down and walked over to her.

“You know what I wish we had more time to do yesterday?” JJ was leading him to the couch. Reid wasn’t sure what to say. “Definitely more sleep, but I would have loved more of this too.” She tugged him down to sit next to her, and slung his arm over her shoulder as she leaned into him.

“Comfy?” JJ looked up at him.

“More than.” He kissed her nose, and watched her scrunch it up in reaction. He felt his heart swell.

And just like that, all he felt was peace. He could see her, he could hear her breathing, he could see the rise and fall of her chest, he could feel her snuggled up close to him. He was surrounded by the woman he loved, and it was real. He felt tears building, and tried to will them away. He shut his eyes and held his breath, but he must have done it for longer than he intended because he felt JJ’s hand on his cheek.

“Spence?”

He let go of the breath he had been holding, but he didn’t want to open his eyes. God knows how she’d react if she saw me crying from a cuddle on a couch.

“I’m alright.”

“Open your eyes? Please?” She was stroking his cheek with her fingers. It did a lot to calm him down. He took a chance and opened his eyes.

“Wanna talk to me?”

“Always.”

“What were you doing just then?” She had moved up to kneel on her knees next to him, which allowed their faces to be level.

“After Mexico, I never thought that I’d ever truly feel safe, or at peace again. Then the whole cult thing happened... so that didn’t help. But just then, I felt that dark cloud lift. A cloud I haven’t felt lifted in three years, JJ. I guess I just got a little emotional.”

“So why did you stop breathing?”

“I don’t want you to think I’m weak. That a little cuddle could affect me so much I’d start crying.”

“Why would I think that was weakness?”

“I don’t know... I guess I just feel like you take care of me so well - I don’t want you to think I can’t do the same for you, or that I’m not tough enough to protect you. It’s silly.”

“Not tough enough? Spence, you’ve saved me from countless unsubs through the years. I trust you with my life. There is nobody I would trust more. I wouldn’t think any less of you for crying. I know this is overwhelming. I had the best sleep I’ve had in a while last night. You make me feel safe too, Spence.”

He was lost in her eyes.

“I love you.”

He had said it so softly, with so much reverence, that she couldn’t have stopped herself from kissing him if she tried. She wrapped her arms around his neck and practically lunged at him. She heard him grunt, but very quickly felt his hands on her waist. Their kiss last night had been sweet, tentative, a wonderful first step and taste of what was to come. This kiss was thirteen years of longing, of missed opportunities, of times when they had wanted to do more but couldn’t. If Spencer had thought that his senses were filled with JJ earlier, they were positively overwhelmed by her right now, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. His head was tilted to his right, and it was starting to get uncomfortable, but he wasn’t about to stop kissing JJ. She sensed his discomfort and swung a leg over his lap to face in straight on, and he ended up with a lap full of JJ as a certain part of his anatomy started to pay attention to the fact that she was straddling him.

He leaned his head back and groaned. “Jennifer...”

Her hands had wandered to his hair. “Sorry. Your neck looked uncomfortable.” He could feel her start to lift her weight off him and he used his hands on her waist to hold her in place, and wrapped his arms around her waist to make sure she knew she was welcome.

“Don’t apologise. I was uncomfortable.”

“And now?”

Spencer chuckled. “I’m pretty comfortable now.” He gave her a soft kiss.

“It’s not too much?” She looked a little concerned, and he knew he had to ease her worries.

“Frankly? No. It’s quite obvious from my body’s reaction that I wouldn’t mind much more, but it’s not the time right now. I don’t think I could ever have too much of you, Jennifer.”

“Your silver tongue should come with a warning.”

“Words aren’t the only thing it’s good at.”

JJ’s reaction to what he just said was practically instantaneous. Her pupils dilated, he could see a blush creeping over her skin, and she had taken a sharp intake of breath. I did that?

“Jennifer? Did I overstep? I wasn’t trying to be leery-”

“No, no, Spence, stop. To repeat what you said it’s not that it’s too much, it’s that it’s not enough. But you’re right. As much as I would love to take this into the bedroom, it would absolutely crush me to leave you an hour after, and then not see you the entire weekend.”

She leaned in to give him one last lingering kiss. “Could we order some lunch now? I’m starving.”

He kissed her nose. She scrunched her face again. He was starting to realise how much he liked doing that. “Of course, sweetheart. I just need the bathroom, and then I’ll call that Indian place you like.”

JJ reluctantly took herself off his lap and settled into the couch. She tried not to stare as Spence stood up and tried to discretely rearrange himself while he walked to the bathroom. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. That had been... interesting. She obviously knew they were going to kiss, but she hadn’t expected that. She didn’t regret any of it, and she was pretty sure Spence hadn’t either. Now that she was thinking about it, it was probably good they had let some steam out of the pressure cooker - but she had everything crossed that they would either not get a case next week or at least only get something local. There was no way they would take the next step while away on a case, but weekends were also out for the time being, so they were left with weekdays that they were staying in DC. That didn’t come around often but JJ was hoping that they might get lucky.

She heard him come out of the bathroom, and then he was on the phone, ordering all of her favourite foods. She sighed contentedly to herself, and hugged a cushion close to her chest. She heard Spence come out of his bedroom.

“I see I’ve been replaced.” He smiled at her.

“You snooze you lose.” He pouted at her response.

“The food should be here in 30 mins. What do you want to do in the meantime?”

JJ patted the spot next to her. Spencer sat down and put an arm around her shoulders.

“I was just thinking that I’d really like a local case next week. We know we’re not going to do much if we’re away on a case, and I know how you feel about weekends, which I completely respect and appreciate, but that just doesn’t leave much time for us, does it?”

“Not much. And I do wish I could spend some time on the weekend with you and the boys - but I think we should just wait until there’s been more progress on the divorce front so Will can’t twist it somehow. Plus I really don’t want to mess up my relationship with Henry even more. But I can definitely see why you’d want something local next week. I mean, not having a case would be even better.”

“Definitely. But let’s say we only get a local case one week a month. Realistically, we’re not going to have much alone time while the case is going on anyway. How are we going to have time outside of work? I love that we get to spend time together in general. But I just think we’re going to need more of this kind of time together. I’m not trying to rush anything along. I’m just scared of not making an effort because we take for granted that we see each other so much because of work.”

“How long was I in the bathroom for?”

“Ha ha. Very funny.” She poked his stomach. “I’m being serious.”

“I know, I’m sorry. I am in total agreement with what you’re saying. I’m worried too. I guess that’s why I’m so concerned about making sure the time we have together is perfect, because I know we don’t actually get much of it. Jennifer, I’d love to ask you to move in so that I can sleep next to you every night. I’d love to ask you to marry me so that we can share a room together when we’re on a case. But none of that is possible right now. We just need to make the best of the situation while you sort out your divorce. I’m not putting this on you, it’s just the way things have to be right now.”

“Do you want kids?”

“That’s... not what I expected you to say.” Spencer wasn’t sure how he was meant to react.

“Spence, I’m serious. Do you want kids?”

“I’m assuming you mean with you specifically, and not in general?”

“Would the answer be different?”

“Not exactly. You know I’ve always wanted kids. But that decision isn’t purely up to me. My partner’s opinion obviously matters as well. And since my partner is you, there’s also a question of how the boys would take it. Why are you asking me this now?”

“You mentioned marriage.”

“That doesn’t mean we need to have children.”

“True, but let’s say I want to and the boys are okay with it.”

“Okay...” Spencer wasn’t sure where she was going with this.

“Do you think we can be parents if we’re both in this job? Sure I’ll have maternity leave but what do we do after?”

“Ah.”

“It just seems like our present is so uncertain, but then even once we have all of the divorce stuff settled, our future might be uncertain too.”

“Jennifer, we haven’t decided to have a child. Why are you worrying about it?”

“Because I’m 42!”

“And?”

“I don’t have much time left, Spence!”

“Sweetheart... Why is this so important to you?”

“Because if you married a younger, single woman with no kids you’d be able to just have kids. I don’t want to be the reason you don’t get your dream.”

“You’re my dream, Jennifer. You. A life with you. And the boys. If we have a child of our own I’d be overjoyed, but if we didn’t, I wouldn’t ever feel like I missed out.”

“You say that now...”

“And I’ll say it 10 years from now. Would you feel like you were missing out if you didn’t have kids with me?”

“I don’t want to answer that.”

“Why?”

“Because... Because I would love to know what it’s like to have a child with the love of my life, Spence. Having a kid is the most magical thing, magical enough that it’s fuelled my marriage for as long as it did. Well, the kids and also the fact that this job limited the amount of actual time Will and I spent together. But saying that out loud just makes me feel like the worse mum in the world. Like as though I’m saying I’d treasure a kid you and I had more than I treasure Henry and Michael.”

“That’s not what you’re saying. You’re the most amazing mother, JJ. You wouldn’t favour any kid over the other just because of who their father was. Jennifer, I wouldn’t love a kid that was biologically mine more than I’d love your boys. They’re a part of you. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to see how the experience would differ. But that’s to do with your partner, and not the kids.”

Spencer could see that JJ didn’t look convinced.

“Tell you what, let’s put a pause on this conversation until your divorce is finalised, and we can have a proper talk with Henry about the future. There’s no point in us spending the little time we have together, worrying about the hypotheticals of the future for now.”

“I guess.”

“Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?”

“About that silver tongue of yours-“ A buzz interrupted JJ’s sentence. She groaned. “I thought you said 30 minutes?”

“They tend to overestimate.” Spencer got up and buzzed the delivery guy in, and then grabbed his wallet and waited by the door. He paid him and took the food from him, and started unpacking it on his dining table. 

JJ got up and went to stand next to him. “What can I do to help?”

“Just grab some plates and cutlery? I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer when it comes to drinks.”

“Water’s fine.”

They worked silently together, setting the table up for their lunch. When they were done, they sent down across from each other.

“So. Our first date.” Spencer suddenly wasn’t sure what to say again.

“Seems silly, doesn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

JJ shook her head. “I mean, we’ve done this so many times. We’ve had wonderful conversations over lovely food. The only difference is that this time I can hold your hand, and tell you I love you, and all of those other things I’ve wanted to do before but never could.”

“I guess that’s why I’m nervous. I don’t know what it’s like to be able to actually act on these feelings because I’ve suppressed them for so long.”

“How about we just start eating, and see where this meal takes us?”

Spencer smiled at her.

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

They were silent for a few minutes as they both put some food on their plates. It was comfortable, and yet awkward. JJ thought that Spence had been right earlier when he said he was just so used to suppressing how he actually wanted to act towards her, that the freedom to do it will take some time to get used to. But she’d take this awkwardness over what they had before this any day.

As she tore a piece of naan, she remembered she had a phone call to make.

“Do you mind if I call the lawyer after lunch? I was thinking of going straight from here to picking the boys up, and I don’t really want them to overhear that particular conversation.”

“Of course not. Take all the time you need.” Spence smiled at her. “You know you don’t need to hang around here that long though - I totally understand if you’ve got things to do.”

“Bored of me already?” She knew he was giving her an out. She didn’t want an out. She never wanted an out.

“No! I just... I don’t want you sticking around if it’s because you’ll feel bad that I’m going to be alone. That’s all.”

“I’m sticking around because I love you.”

“I just don’t want pity to factor into your decision.”

“Spence... It’s not pity. It physically pains me to know that you’re here on the weekend, probably dealing with some pretty tough things with your mum, and that I can’t be here to be a source of comfort for you. If anything I feel like I’m letting you down. Maybe if my life wasn’t so complicated, I’d have the ability to be a better partner, right?”

“What? That’s ridiculous! I know you’d be here if you could!”

JJ was looking at him pointedly.

“Oh. You’re a tricky one, Jennifer Jareau. You sure you’re not a genius?”

“I can’t rival your knowledge about everything else, but when it comes to you, I’m pretty sure I’m a genius.”

Spencer blushed. He had always known that JJ knew him better than anyone. Even before the declaration of love.

“I like to think I’m an expert on you too. But I think I need more time.”

“Really? Why?”

“Well, I just always went to you. And I know there were times when you were struggling that you went home and unloaded onto Will and sought comfort from him. Which is fine, it’s what you should have done - I’m just saying I have some catching up to do.”

“You know, there were also a lot of things that you helped me with that he didn’t. All the times you saved my life? When you knew I was struggling a year after my abduction? Yes, I went and found comfort in Will while we were married. But you? You always just knew. And you had a way of dragging things out of me. So you’re more of an expert on me than you’re giving yourself credit for.”

JJ reached for his hand and smiled at him.

“Are you going to visit your mum?”

“Yeah. I’m basically there from breakfast on Saturday to dinner on Sunday.”

“That’s great, Spence.”

“For now. While she still remembers.”

“Have you given some thought about whether you’re going to tell her about us?”

“Why? Do you not want me to?”

“It’s your decision.”

“Ok. But do you not want me to?”

“The opposite actually. I’d love for you to tell her. I just think if you do it’s something that should be done sooner rather than later.” She hated reminding him that his time with his mum was running out.

“I know. Maybe if we get a local case you could come by and see her on a weekday evening? That might help.”

“I’d love that Spence. You know how I feel about her.”

“I know. The logical part of my mind says she’ll never see me get married, but the hopeful part is saying I thought a life with you was impossible, so why not a breakthrough with mum?”

“You cant give up hoping, Spence.”

“Oh, believe me. You’ve taught me that lesson.”

JJ laughed. “Well. You’re very welcome.”

They must have been hungrier than they thought, because they had already nearly cleaned off their plates.

“Why don’t you call the lawyer, and I’ll just clean up these dishes? Feel free to use my bedroom.”

“You sure? I don’t mind helping.”

“Don’t be silly. You’re my guest.” He shooed her away.

She gave him a quick kiss as she walked past him into his bedroom. It smelled of him. He wasn’t really a cologne kind of guy, which she loved, because Will always had cologne on him. Spence just smelled like... Spence. Like home. Something familiar. And comforting. She understood the overwhelming feeling he described earlier. She imagined being in his shoes, with everything that he had been through... Not just in the past three years, but in his entire life... She had always been protective of him. But now that she knew she was what made him feel safe? She didn’t need flowers or fancy dates to know she mattered to him. There was nothing she wanted more than to make Spence feel safe.

She pulled out her cellphone and dialled the number Rossi had sent her. She had about an hour before she had to leave to get the boys, so she was hoping this call wouldn’t take too long.


Reid had meant it when he said the dishes wouldn’t take long. He wasn’t sure what to do while waiting for JJ to finish with her call. He didn’t want to go into his bedroom - he didn’t think she would mind, but he wanted to give her the opportunity to tell him what she had found out. And if she didn’t want to tell him, that would be fine too. He thought back to how scared he was that they would move too quickly, and evaluated whether he felt they had done so. But what could he compare the outcome too? He didn’t know of anyone else who had finally gotten together after 13 years of loving each other. Who had been by each other’s sides the entire time. This was uncharted territory. He wasn’t uncomfortable with anything they had done thus far, and JJ didn’t seem like she was either. Which was obviously a good sign. It did pain him to think about how little time they could actually spend together for the time being, even though they would physically be together on weekdays. It was a strange situation.

He thought back to the conversations they had earlier. He knew JJ had accommodation sorted for the next 8 months. He was glad about that. He also knew those 8 months were going to fly by. He wanted to be prepared for what could come next. He didn’t want to propose to JJ just so his mum could be at their wedding, but he also really wanted his mum at their wedding. The conversation about kids... Spence meant every word of it. It wasn’t a decision he would make without a proper discussion with JJ and the boys. He also knew JJ was right about childcare. Huge looming decisions. He was surprised that he wasn’t as anxious about them, but quickly figured out why. These dilemmas meant that he actually had a future with JJ. And the elation from that trumped everything else right now.

He heard JJ step out of his bedroom and looked up at her. She looked tired. He smiled at her as he watched her walk over to the couch, but surprised him when she flopped onto his lap.

“Sorry. Is this ok?”

He kissed her nose, just to see it scrunch up. “More than. How was the call?”

JJ sighed. “It’s going to take 7-9 months in total, and that’s if everything goes smoothly.”

“That’s not too bad.”

“It isn’t, but what I’m worried about is that we can only actually file the papers after we’ve been separated for 6 months.”

“Ah.”

“And I’m scared that Will is going to do something in that time that will just mess things up, and make it go from straight forward and uncontested to complicated and a court battle.”

“You really think he’d put the boys through that?” Spence had one arm draped across her thighs, with the other behind her back, tracing circles on her back.

“I’d like to think not, but I really don’t know. Isn’t that sad? We’ve been together 13 years and I have no clue how this is going to play out.”

“What did the lawyer suggest?”

“She said to take it easy for the next few weeks and see how Will acts. Right now he might just be reeling and playing up because it’s all so fresh. If he seems calmer, to try to sort most of it out amongst ourselves. She’ll help with the paperwork. But if it’s more of the same, she’ll step in and do her best to get everything arranged.”

“Did she have any suggestions about the times you’re local?”

“Yes and no. She said if we’re amicable it’s obviously easier - and if we agree to 50/50 custody then it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“But?”

“If it’s not amicable it’s going to be hard to convince a judge to allow me to have the kids for extra days, particular because it would be last minute, but also if the kids come for a day, then we get a case and have to leave...”

“So we need to keep things amicable.”

“Exactly.”

They both were silent for a few minutes, gathering their thoughts. Spencer spoke first.

“I imagine it’s probably best for me to stay away from the boys until the divorce is finalised?”

JJ could see that Spence was trying not to react, trying to stay strong. She thought of Spence here alone on the weekends for 7 months. It broke her heart.

“I don’t know, Spence. I think it’s a definite yes for the time being. And I’m so sorry. I know how much you love the boys. I hate that you’re somehow being made out to be a villain.”

“Well, I broke up your marriage.” He shrugged.

“I did that. You never wanted me to leave Will.”

“I guess I should have tried a little harder to be less desirable to you.”

JJ laughed. “That’s impossible, trust me.”

Spencer kissed her forehead as she snuggled into his chest. “I’ll be ok. What’s 7 months in the grand scheme of the rest of our lives?”

“Hey, Spence?”

“Hmmmm?”

“Have you always been this... touchy feely? I mean with... other girls.”

She felt him loosen his arms a little.

“Why? Do you not like it?”

“No! No, it’s not that. Honestly. I guess I just never expected it? To be fair I’ve never really seen you with a partner. I’m just curious whether this is something you’re putting on for my benefit - I do enjoy it, don’t get me wrong. I just want you to be yourself though.”

“I... I’m not uncomfortable. I’m enjoying this. All of it. My struggle, which we’ve discussed, is more that I don’t know if what I’m doing is suitable for where we’re at. Because we’ve technically been together a week? If that? I wouldn’t be doing any of this with someone I’d only been dating that long.”

“So you are quite tactile in a relationship?”

“The only other relationship I’ve had that was this intense, was Maeve. And I never got the opportunity to...”

“I’m sorry. We don’t need to talk about it.”

“No, it’s fine. I’ve worked through it. You know that. But yes, physical touch comes naturally to me when I love someone.”

“Oh. Good.”

“Yeah?” He smiled down at her.

“Yeah.”

“How long do we have?” Spence wasn’t sure what time JJ had to leave.

“Why? How long do we need?” JJ had the cheekiest smile on her face.

Spencer chuckled. “Behave yourself.”

“I have about 45 minutes. Why?”

“You look tired.”

“Oh, gee, thanks.” She knew he hadn’t meant it derisively, but she couldn’t help herself. She thought he’d just get defensive. She didn’t expect him to pull her closer and kiss her as deeply as he was now.

“You. Are. The. Most. Beautiful. Woman. I. Have. Ever. Seen.” He punctuated each word with a kiss.

He leaned his forehead against hers. “I just don’t want you driving while tired, and you should be refreshed before seeing the boys. Come on.” Spencer patted her thigh so she stood up, allowing him to stretch out on his couch. He stretched out an arm and she got the idea and climbed on next to him, Spencer pulling her close to his chest. “Sleep. I’ll make sure you’re up in time so you’re not late for the boys.”

“You gonna cop a feel again?” JJ could already feel sleep about to overcome her.

“You make one mistake...” And that was the last thing JJ remembered him saying before she fell asleep to the sound of Spence’s soft chuckles.


For 40 minutes, Spencer Reid was frozen in place. There was no way he was going to fall asleep. He could sleep all weekend once she left. He wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. He held JJ in his arms, felt her deep breaths close to his own chest, and watched her eyelids fluttered as she went through her sleep cycle. She’d get through one before he had to wake her up, and he was hoping he’d predicted the sweet spot enough so that she felt refreshed when she woke up. He wanted to kick himself for not thinking of putting the timer on the coffee machine so she could have one cup before she left.

In the car, JJ had said she would give him all the moments she could. There was no denying it now, they were in a relationship. He wanted to scream it out from the rooftops, but at the same time he wanted to stay in this bubble where it was just the two of them. He was worried about what people might think about them, but more so JJ. The timing of everything didn’t reflect well on them, and the assumption would be that they had been having an affair. He knew that was something JJ would struggle with in particular, since she was the married one. He really hoped Emily would have good suggestions for how they’d deal with this when they spoke to her.

“Jennifer?” He tucked her hair behind her ear and kissed her forehead. “It’s time to wake up now.”

He watched her, as her brain slowly came to full consciousness, and he was met with the most beautiful blue eyes as she opened them. He knew right then that this was what he wanted to wake up to the rest of his life.

“Already?” Her voice still had that slur of sleepiness.

“Unfortunately. Listen, you’re probably going to need the bathroom - why don’t you go ahead and do that and I’ll make you some coffee to have on the drive?”

She nodded, and got up slowly before stretching, and trudging off to the bathroom.

He put a pot of coffee on, and stood there while it was brewing, tapping his fingers on the countertop. He could hear JJ in his bathroom, and smiled at her as she emerged from his bedroom. She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

“That smells amazing. Thank you for convincing me to nap. I really needed it.”

“Glad to be of assistance.” He smiled to himself. JJ didn’t let go.

“JJ?”

“Sorry. Guess I needed some moments too.” She kissed his back, and went to get her things by the door as Spencer filled up his reusable coffee tumbler.

JJ reached for it, but he kept it away from her while picking up her go bag. “I’m walking you to your car.”

She smiled, but said nothing. He didn’t have a free hand so he walked ahead after making sure he had his keys, and led JJ to where her car was parked. He put her go bag in the front passenger seat, and leaned over to put the coffee in the cup holder. He turned around to face JJ.

“I’ll see you on Monday morning?” He saw a quick nod before she was in his arms.

“Can I call you tonight?” Her voice was muffled.

“Of course you can. But don’t worry about it if you’re too busy, ok? Text me when you get to Rossi’s so I know you guys got there safe.”

“I will. I love you.”

He leaned down to give her a slow lingering kiss. “I love you too. Now go have a good weekend with your boys.”

She gave him one last squeeze before she climbed into the drivers seat, waving as she pulled out of the parking space and drove off. Spencer stood there until he couldn’t see her car anymore. He walked back to his apartment slowly, missing her already but absolutely buzzing from everything that had happened in the last few hours.

Chapter Text

The weekend ended up a lot busier than JJ expected. She never did get any proper phone calls with Spence, but she made sure to text him periodically. She wanted him to know she was thinking of him. She knew everything was still fresh for Henry so she didn’t want to broadcast her relationship in front of him just yet. She figured the best thing to do would be to give him time and to approach her. She knew Spence meant a lot to him, and she was banking on him missing their special time together. She’d have to think of a plan B if that one didn’t come to fruition.

She was pulling into the office about an hour early, because they had decided to speak to Emily this morning. They knew that they wanted to do it before anyone else was there, because JJ still being married (and nobody else knowing about the separation) greatly complicated matters. They decided they should probably come up with a plan. She had offered to pick Spence up on the way, but he knew she’d need to make a detour to get him after dropping the kids off so he took the train in. She didn’t want to come out and say that she really wanted to pick him up so she could give him a proper good morning after not seeing him over the weekend, especially because they’d have no chance to once they were in the office. Then, if they got a case... JJ sighed as she pulled into the carpark. She didn’t want to push him though. She’d been pleasantly surprised that he was quite physical affectionate - not overwhelming in any way, but a lot more than JJ expected. She’d thoroughly enjoyed it so far.

When she walked into the bullpen she didn’t see Spence at his desk, and realised he was already in Emily’s office. He’s not wasting any time. She made her way up there

“Hey! I thought I was early.” She smiled at Spence.

“We’ve only been here a few minutes. Good morning.” The tension in the air just grew.

“I’d say get a room, but since that’s what we’re here to discuss...” Emily motioned for them to sit down. “Talk to me.”

JJ thought it was best if she started. “As you know, I’m now separated from Will and living with Rossi for the next few months, until I move into another place. I’ve spoken to a divorce attorney and I can only file for divorce after we’ve been separated for 6 months, and then if everything is amicable that can be done within one to three months.”

“That’s great that you’ve got a lawyer on your side through this.”

JJ nodded. “Spence convinced me it was the best course of action.”

“He’s a clever one. Anything else to add to what you’re telling me?” She looked at Reid.

JJ saw him hesitate, and was about to step in to continue, but stopped when she saw him take a deep breath. “JJ and I are in a relationship. It didn’t start until her and Will had separated.”

“Thank you for telling me. Now we need to figure out how we move forward, at least until the divorce comes through. Rossi obviously knows. Nobody else in the team does at the moment. And honestly, I didn’t expect JJ’s confession to me about her feelings. I don’t mean that as a slight to you Spencer, but it might work out to your advantage because obviously my worry is that people think you guys have been having an affair.” She looked at the couple as they nodded at what she was saying. “My problem lies with the fact that I will unfortunately have to keep you guys separated in the field, and if we don’t tell the team anything, the fact I’m doing that will eventually become obvious - I mean let’s face it, you guys are essentially partners. I’m willing to take your lead on this. Either way I have to keep you separated, that’s non-negotiable. But whether you tell the others now, or down the line... I leave that up to the two of you.”

There was a moment of silence, then Reid spoke. “I think it’s really up to JJ.”

“What? Why? Surely it’s a decision we should make together?”

“It’s just that between the two of us, you’re the one whose reputation might take more of a hit because you were the married one. And let’s face it, sexism still exists in the bureau as well.”

“Reid has a point.” Emily looked at JJ. “What would you be comfortable with?”

“I... I don’t know. On the one hand I think we have to tell them. Half the team knowing it and half the team not knowing it might come back to bite us in the ass. I think it keeps us safer as a unit if we all understand each other’s motivations. On the other hand I see the potential risks... but I can explain the situation to the team. I believe they’d understand. Or at least try to.”

“Do you want to do it today?”

JJ could feel Spence and Emily looking at her. “Not really. But I don’t think we have a choice. Like you said, they’ll catch on eventually. And I think it’s better for team harmony and maintaining trust if we’re upfront about it.”

She caught Spence’s eye. He had a small smile on his face. But his eyes... they were soft, and full of love, and so brown. They grounded her.

Emily cleared her throat. “So are the googly eyes here to stay or...?” She laughed when they both looked away and started blushing. “I’m teasing you. But seriously guys, are you going to be ok not being in the field together?”

“We don’t have a choice. I’m not going back to what we were.” Emily was surprised that it had been Spence to speak up.

“Ok. Well, it’s still separate rooms while we’re on a case, unfortunately. I would appreciate if you kept it professional while we’re in the midst of a case, but you guys are adults. And I also trust your judgement. So I’m not going to come out and set rules like you’re children, but if something affects your professionalism...” She looked pointedly at the both of them. “I will have to step in at that point. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Emily gave Spencer a wry look for that retort. “Now shoo, I’m sure you guys want to catch up before everyone else comes in.”

JJ and Spence started to make their way out of Emily’s office, but she spoke up again just as Spencer was reaching for the door handle.

“Oh, and guys?” They turned to face her. “I’m really happy for you.” Emily smiled at them. She could tell it meant a lot to them that she had said that. With one final smile, JJ and Spence made their way down to the bullpen to get some coffee.

“So... how come you didn’t want me to pick you up this morning?”

They were waiting for the coffee pot to finish brewing.

“You’d have had to go out of your way.”

“I wouldn’t have minded.”

“I know... I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You’re not a burden, Spence. And did you ever think that maybe I just wanted to be able to greet you in a way that I can’t if we arrive at the office separately?”

“Oh.” His eyes widened when he realised what he had missed out on. “You can drop me off at home later?”

“Well, we have to hope we don’t get a case first.”

“Have you spoken to Will about options for when you’re local?”

JJ shook her head as she poured some coffee out for the both of them. “We haven’t really had a proper conversation about anything. I’m new to all this. I don’t know what’s a good length of time before it’s ok for me to start bringing it up, without him getting mad at me again. Plus, I think it would make sense for me to actually see how free I am when we get a local case. Because if I can’t do the school run and bedtime everyday... there’s not much of a point of them staying with me.”

“A trial run sounds like a great idea.”

“Which means... if we don’t get a case, I’m totally free tonight. And I think we had some ideas about a sleepover in the event of this happening...?”

Spencer had just started to sip on his coffee when she said that, and he choked and started coughing.

“Did you not want to anymore?”

“No! I do! I’m just nervous, I guess.”

“So am I.”

He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “Don’t patronise me.”

“What? Why am I not allowed to be nervous?”

“Because... look at you!”

JJ didn’t respond.

“You’re YOU and I’m, well I’m ME.”

“Spence, what happens if I start to get lucky and you think that reality doesn’t live up to what you’ve built up in your head all these years?”

“That could never happen.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not just in love with the way you look.”

“See this is where I’m confused. You don’t believe I want you for the way you look, but then the reason you just have also doesn’t seem to apply to my feelings for you?”

“What - no - I just-“

“I’m not trying to give you a hard time, Spence. Truly. But I’m in love with you too, you know. And between me, Max, Cat, and all the students who we know just take your class because you’re pretty on the eyes... You must know you’re sexy.”

“Ridiculous.” He walked towards his desk.

“Spence!” JJ went after him. “Did I say something wrong?”

He shook his head as he sat down. JJ perched on the side of his desk.

“Cat.” He didn’t say anything more. She didn’t want to push, so she waited until he was comfortable enough to continue.

“I hate her.”

“I know you do. I do too.”

“I kissed her.” JJ already knew this. She wasn’t sure why he was bringing it up. “And it wasn’t just an act. There was definitely something carnal about it.”

“Spence...”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“There’s nothing wrong with you. Hatred is a very strong emotion. And when someone gets under your skin the way she does... Hate sex is a thing. As is angry sex.”

“It’s never been a thing for me.” He looked so disappointed.

“You’re human, Spence. It was bound to happen eventually. It doesn’t mean you’re broken.”

“Max thought I was breaking up with her because of my feelings for Cat.”

“What?!”

“Well, she saw the tail end of that kiss and she just assumed I guess.”

“Must have been some kiss.”

“You’re not helping.”

JJ laughed. She lowered her voice and leaned towards him. “Ok. How about this - I promise that when you next get on my nerves, I’ll show you just how much fun consensual angry sex can be to help with reconciliation?”

She didn’t think she had ever seen him go that red, that quick. She tapped him on his nose and walked to her desk, chuckling to herself. Let him ruminate on that. She really hoped they wouldn’t get a case today. Or maybe just something local. Please.

She could feel him watching her. She busied herself with reading emails as the office slowly came to life. Eventually the whole team was in the office. JJ could feel her nerves building. She didn’t care what strangers would think of her. But she trusted these people with her life. She didn’t know what to do if this went badly. She looked up as Emily walked to Rossi’s office and she knew it was time. Emily called for everyone to make their way to the conference room.

“We got a case?” Matt was looking around the room for files.

“No, not yet at least. But we do have something we need to talk about.”

That got everyone’s attention.  After everything they’d been through, that sentence always put them on edge.

“JJ? Spence? You wanna take over here?”

JJ finally looked at Spence. She had avoided eye contact the whole time. He smiled at her and stood up with her.

“Are you guys leaving?” Tara was eyeing them suspiciously.

“No! No. I just, erm, have an announcement.” All eyes were on JJ. Like ripping off a bandaid. “Will and I are getting a divorce.”

“Oh, JJ, I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do?” JJ smiled gratefully at Tara’s offer.

“Thank you, but I’m fine. I was the one who initiated it actually. It was a long time coming. I was in denial.”

“As long as you’re happy. We’re here for you.” Hearing Luke say that was definitely reassuring.

“There’s something else.” JJ paused. This was going to be the hard bit.

Spencer could see the struggle.

“JJ and I are in a relationship.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The silence was deafening.

“It didn’t start until after JJ and Will were separated.”

“But... Is that why you left Will?” Matt looked confused.

“Yes and no. Will and I haven’t been working out for a very long time. The reason we’ve lasted this long is because this job has limited the amount of time we have together. And... I’ve been in love with Spence for 13 years. Since before Will.”

“Why marry Will, then?” Luke seemed almost sorry he had blurted the question out.

“I actually turned him down multiple times. When I met Will, I had just realised how I felt for Spence. But he wasn’t in the right place for me to pursue it. I just thought Will would be a good distraction, but then my birth control failed. And I just thought I’d make do. Will’s not a terrible guy. And we made it work. But then Mexico, and Spence going to jail happened. And everything changed for me then. I know that was three years ago. I kept trying to make it work with Will. But then a couple months ago...”

“We were held hostage by that unsub in LA. He had a gun to JJ’s head and told her to confess her darkest secret. Something that even I didn’t know about her.”

“So I looked at Spence and told him that I’d always loved him. I don’t know why, maybe the build up of the last three years and then having a gun in my face? I still don’t know for sure.”

Tara turned to Reid. “You had no idea? At all? For 13 years?”

“To be fair, I’ve known them this entire time and I had no idea too.” Everyone looked at Emily. “Sorry. Continue.”

Spencer blushed. “I’m... I don’t generally think people are attracted to me, I guess? So yeah, I had no idea. I was content to just be in JJ’s life in whatever way she would allow me.”

“I know you guys probably have a lot of questions. And we’d be more than happy to answer them. We just thought it would be best to be completely upfront and honest with you, we don’t want whispers and rumours to break this team apart. We don’t want to jeopardise your trust in us.”

Emily spoke up again. “Now that they’ve officially told me, it means that they will be kept separate in the field as much as possible as well.”

Matt, Luke, and Tara nodded. Matt looked at JJ and Reid. “Are you guys happy?”

They smiled at his question. Reid spoke first. “Beyond happy. Still in disbelief because never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen.” He looked at JJ and smiled.

“I am happy. There is a lot of guilt obviously in relation to the kids, as you could probably imagine Matt, but I can’t remember the last time I made a decision for me.”

“How’s Will taking it?” Tara looked concern.

“Not... great. It could be worse, I guess. Trying to stay positive about it. I didn’t really have a measure of how he might react. We’d never been in this situation before obviously.”

Tara smiled at her. She looked at Matt and Luke then back at the couple in front of them. “Well I’m sure I speak for all of us - we’re happy for you guys. Thank you for telling us, and trusting us. And if there’s anything we can do to help...”

“Thanks, guys. It means a lot.” JJ looked up to see Spence smiling at her, then heard Emily’s phone beep.

“We’ve got to cut this short, guys. We have a case. Sorry JJ, it’s on the west coast.”

There goes my hope of staying local.

Chapter Text

“So. You and JJ.” Tara slid into the seat opposite Reid. They’d already discussed the case, and since they were flying to the west coast, they still had a lot of flight time left.

“Yeah... Is it weird?”

“What do you mean?” Tara wanted to be sure what Reid was asking her opinion on.

“Her being with me. With someone like me, I guess.”

“An agent? A genius? A tall person?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I mean I guess she’ll have to get used to kissing you on tiptoes...” Spencer gave her a wry look. “I don’t look at you guys and think that’s an odd pair. I look at you guys and think that it makes sense. And I worry about my profiling skills because I never saw it coming. Before you start - I don’t mean because either one of you is so out of the other’s league. I think I always just explained away the little tells you guys had that your feelings were deeper. I just assumed it was a JJ & Reid thing.”

“You believe us that nothing’s been happening though, right?”

“If you guys had managed to find the time I would honestly want to know the secret.”

“I’d say you were exaggerating but we’re struggling to find the time now.”

“Exactly.”

“Will doesn’t believe us.”

“You can’t be surprised about that?”

“We just established we wouldn’t have had the time.”

“Yeah, but Will has no clue what we get up to when we’re away on a case. I’m assuming that’s when he’s assuming things happened.”

“Yeah.” Tara could tell that Reid wasn’t a fan of the accusation.

“Even if you had undeniable proof, he wouldn’t believe you guys. It’s just the way the situation is.”

Reid nodded.

“So why the struggle to find time together?”

“Well, work in the week. And JJ has her boys on the weekend... Henry knows, and until he reaches out we thought it was best for me to stay away. Also we don’t want anything jeopardising the divorce and pissing Will off even more. We were hoping we wouldn’t get a case today.”

“Oof. I’m sorry.”

“Part of the job.” Reid smiled at her.

“Are you happy?”

“I am. But it’s almost like I keep waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. I’m trying to stay in the moment and focus on that, but I also feel like I’m going to wake up and realise it was just a dream.” His eyes drifted to JJ, who was on the opposite end of the cabin chatting to Rossi. She must have felt him staring because she caught his eye and gave him a small smile. He felt his heart grow about three times as he smiled back.

“Well, from where I’m sitting it’s very real.”

Reid blushed. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologise. Happy is a good look on you. It’s nice.”

“Thank you.”

“Here’s hoping we get this case over quick so you guys can finally get some proper alone time.”

“From your mouth to the unsub’s ears...” Reid crossed his fingers while laughing.


Four weeks. They were lucky to have had the weekends off, because it was a relentless stream of case after case, unsub after unsub. JJ felt like she was going insane. On the plus side, things seems to have thawed between her and Will. She was confident she could soon start to have constructive conversations with him about the divorce. The down side? Spence and her were separated in the field. Neither of them were comfortable even sleeping in the same room while a case was ongoing. Her weekends were all about her boys, and they hadn’t been lucky enough to get back early on a Friday. She’d only had time to drop Spence off home twice, and even then it had just been a really passionate goodbye kiss in the car because she really had to go. It honestly felt like they would have been spending more time together if they weren’t an official couple. It gave her a headache just thinking about it.

They were on their way back from Chicago. It wouldn’t be too long of a flight. She was sat next to Spencer, who was fast asleep. She couldn’t blame him. She was beyond tired herself. She wished she was comfortable enough to snuggle into his side and join him in dreamland, but that was the kind of thing they still weren’t sure would be ok. She didn’t think any member of the team would actually mind... maybe she just needed to ease herself into it.

She could see Prentiss and Rossi having what looked like an important discussion. Huh. Wonder what that’s about. Her fatigue took over though, and that was her last thought before she succumbed to sleep.


She woke up to someone tickling her nose. She cracked one eye open to see Spencer smiling at her.

“I was having a good dream.”

“Oh don’t worry, JJ. We all heard.” Tara spoke up from across the cabin. JJ froze and went bright red.

Spence chuckled. “She’s kidding. You were only snoring.”

“Ha ha very funny.” She looked at her watch and realised she’d only been asleep thirty minutes. “Why’d you wake me up?”

Spencer shrugged. “I was told to.”

Rossi came walking out of the galley. “Oh good, Sleeping Beauty’s awake.”

“I wasn’t the only one asleep! What’s going on anyway? Please don’t tell me we have another case.” She could feel Spence tense up next to her.

“Prentiss? Do you want to tell them the news?”

“I’ll just cut to the chase and put you all out of your misery - we don’t have another case. What we do have is a week off.”

“You’re kidding.” Matt looked like he was trying not to believe it.

“Nope. Dave and I had a chat with the Chief Cruz and he agrees that we deserve a break.”

“Damn right we do!” The mood in the cabin had definitely shifted with that announcement.

JJ looked at Spence. He wasn’t as enthusiastic as the others. “Spence? You ok?”

“Yeah.” He smiled unconvincingly at her.

“Spencer Reid. What’s wrong?”

“It’s Wednesday.”

“... Yes. And?”

“A week off would be a good time to do a test run to see how it’s like having the boys in the week?”

Ah. This sweet, pessimistic man.

“It would. But I haven’t spoken to Will yet. And to be completely honest I can have that conversation with him over the weekend. But for the next few days...”

She waited until he looked up and had eye contact.

“I’d much rather spend my time with you.” She nudged him with her shoulder. The sweetest, most bashful smile came over his face.

“Me too.”

“Oh good, I’m glad we’re on the same page. I was a little worried there. You didn’t seem so excited about the idea of a week off work.”

“I’m nervous. And I guess I just wanted to give you an out. I know you’ve been missing the boys.”

“Nervous?”

“I... don’t want to be a disappointment.”

“Well we won’t know until we try, right?”

“Doesn’t sound like you think I’ll be impressive either.” Reid grumbled under his breath.

“Spence... it’s going to be amazing no matter what. Even if we do absolutely nothing, the next few days are going to be amazing - because I’ll be spending all that time with you. But we’re bound to make some mistakes, both of us, not just you.”

“So why aren’t you as nervous as I am?”

“Oh, because I have faith. And because if there’s one thing I know about you Spencer Reid... You’re a great student and you don’t forget anything. Believe me. You’ll be fine.” She winked at him before getting up to head to the bathroom.


The two of them had wanted to go straight back to Reid’s, but their sensibilities took over. Reid realised he should probably clean up his apartment, definitely change his sheets, and stock up the fridge and pantry with some essentials. JJ really wanted to shower and pack a bag specifically for the next two nights instead of just having whatever was in her go bag. Two nights with Spence definitely required different things compared to a couple nights on a case. JJ tried her best to convince Spencer that it wasn’t an issue to drop him off at home but he insisted he was fine. It’s probably for the best. I’d find it hard to leave to get my things if I was already there with him. Luke offered to drop him off, and shouted, “would it help if I closed my eyes?!”, when Spence seemed hesitant to kiss JJ after walking her to her car. She rolled her eyes and planted a kiss on him and whispered a quick “see you later” before getting in the drivers seat, leaving Spence standing there blushing, but smiling, while Luke wolf-whistled behind them.

“So how’s it been going, lover boy?” Spence had expected some ribbing as he got into Luke’s car. He also thought it might be handy to try to get some advice out of him.

“To be honest? It hasn’t. We’re separated in the field and JJ’s with her sons on the weekends so we have literally spent no time together this last month even though we’ve actually physically been together most of the time.”

“Big night tonight, then?”

“I...”

“Reid. I’m not trying to be gross. I am not prying to get intimate details of your private life with JJ. But I also know that sometimes the longer something drags out the more you might feel pressure to act. You know there’s no timetable right?”

“Even if there was we’ve done everything out of order anyway. I’m just scared to disappoint her.”

“You won’t.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Because you’re prioritising her happiness. Believe me, that’s step one, and the most important step. But I also don’t want you to get so caught up in your head that you don’t step to enjoy it either. Because that’s definitely going to put a dampener on the situation. It needs to be a mutual thing.”

Reid didn’t look convinced.

“What’s bugging you about it all?”

“Our emotions aside, it’s quite obvious why I would want her. I just...”

“Reid, just a few months ago we literally had a case where an unsub was in love with you, the person you were dating was there as well, and as it turns out you had another person in the room who had also recently confessed their feelings for you. You probably got more action on that day than I’ve had in months.”

“But...”

“Don’t try to explain it away. Women are attracted to you. I know it’s hard to shake off past experiences. I’m not saying it’s easy. What I’m saying is that you need to believe in JJ. Trust her. Hell, I do. If you never believe any other woman in the world is attracted to you, fine. But don’t do that to her. She’s never given you any reason to doubt her.”

Reid didn’t have anything to say in response to that. Luke was right. But he already knew that. He’d been telling himself some version of it since this whole thing happened. He was starting to think he might have to treat it like ripping off a bandaid - not in the sense of getting it over quickly (God he really hoped that didn’t happen), but in the sense that maybe he’ll believe it after it’s happened.

They drove along in silence as they got closer to Reid’s apartment.

“Should I do or get anything special?”

Luke looked at him incredulously. “Why are you asking me?”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean to imply that you do this a lot-“

“Imply that all you want, I wasn’t insulted - I just want to know why you’re asking me what JJ would want?”

Oh.

“Reid. You’ve been her best friend for years. You’ve loved her for years. You got this. Nobody else would be able to get it more right than you possibly could. Just stop second guessing yourself.”

“Everyone tells me that. Even JJ does. But I don’t want to mess this up, Luke. I’ve been so close before and...”

“I know I wasn’t part of the team then, but what happened to Maeve wasn’t your fault, and I sure as hell know you did whatever you could.”

“It wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough. I need to be good enough now.”

“Reid... You can’t keep carrying this with you.”

“How could I not? I felt then what I’m feeling now. I’ve just completely lost all pretence that I might get the happy ending.”

“So should I just tell JJ not to come?”

“What?”

Luke had pulled over outside his apartment. He turned in his seat to look at Reid.

“You’re saying this is doomed. So why bother? Why stress out about it?”

“I-“

“You’re going to mess up. Crazy things are going to happen as well, let’s face it, our job is dangerous. But don’t let that spoil what you have in front of you. You have someone you love, who loves you back. Someone you’ve known nearly half your life, who has seen you through so much. She was a wreck while you were in jail, Reid. She knows about all the dark times. You’ve seen her through hers. Cherish this. Appreciate it. And show her. If I told you I knew for sure you’d only have a year with her, would you give up now?”

“I just wouldn’t let her go. And I’d fight for more time.”

“Well, tell that genius brain of yours that then. Because I don’t see anyone but yourself being pessimistic about this.”

Reid didn’t say anything, and as the time stretched on, Luke got concerned that he had overstepped.

“Listen, I’m sorry if you think it’s not my place, or if you think I overstepped - but I care about both you and JJ. And I understand where you’re coming from, but I also know she’s been through a lot and I just really want her to be happy too.”

“No! No. Trust me, you’re fine. And you didn’t say anything wrong. And please, call me out whenever you think I deserve it - I can be really obtuse about these things sometimes.”

“My pleasure.”

“Thanks, Luke.”

Reid started to make his way out of the car.

“Anytime. Now, go get em tiger!”

Reid laughed as he watched Luke drive away.

Right. Let’s do this.


Reid was ticking things off the list in his head. He had cleaned his apartment, changed his sheets, made sure there were clean towels, and then he had popped to the store to stock up on food and drinks. He wasn’t trying to make it so that they wouldn’t have to leave, he just wanted to anticipate anything JJ might want. There’s no way I covered it all, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done enough.

He glanced at his watch and noticed it had been two and a half hours since Luke had dropped him off, and he was surprised at how quickly time had passed. He thought his phone might have died since he hadn’t had a call or a text from JJ, but when he pulled it out of his pocket he saw that wasn’t the case. Well, I took this long, so I’m sure she has a good reason too. Still he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was forgetting something, or that something just wasn’t right. He was staring at his phone, wondering if he was meant to have texted JJ that he was ready for her to come over. I wouldn’t forget that, though. He didn’t want to seem clingy, and he knew he was likely being anxious for no reason, so he put his phone back in his pocket and decided to give JJ another thirty minutes before he called her.

He sat down on his sofa and picked up a book, trying to distract himself. When that didn’t work, he tried to play a game of chess. When even that didn’t help to stop his mind from racing, he checked his watch again and realised only ten minutes had passed. He wasn’t going to calm down until he spoke to her, so he might as well call her, and he heard his phone ring as he was about to pull it out. Great minds. The thought of it made him smile.

Conscious of the fact that there was actually a chance it wasn’t JJ calling him, and to save him from the embarrassment of sounding a little too loved up with one of the other team members, he glanced at the screen of his phone, and did not expect the contact that was calling him. Will? He hadn’t spoken to Will since everything had happened. They’d never really been the type to chat on the phone anyway. JJ had mentioned that things seemed to be getting better between Will and her, and that she felt it was getting to the point they could start to discuss what the divorce settlement would look like. That had nothing to do with him though. He realised his phone had stopped ringing. Maybe it was a mistake. Butt dial.

But then his phone started ringing again, and he realised that whatever it was that Will needed to tell him, it was no mistake, and it was clearly important. He felt his stomach lurch because now that he thought about it, it was probably something to do with either Henry or Michael, and Will couldn’t get hold of JJ. He answered the call.

“Hel-“

“Spence. It’s Will. JJ’s been in an accident.”

It wasn’t the boys. It was JJ. Reid felt every drop of blood in his body turn to ice. He couldn’t respond.

“I’m on my way to your apartment to get you, I should be there in 10 minutes.”

Nothing was registering. How did Will know? Why was he coming here?

“Spence?”

Silence.

“Spencer? Are you still with me?”

“I-“

“Spence. Listen to me. I’m still her emergency contact, that’s why I got the call. But I’m coming to get you because I’m under no illusions that I am the one she actually wants there. I’m not saying that to start anything, I’m just trying to be blunt because we need to get to the hospital and we don’t have time to tiptoe around this conversation right now.”

“Is she ok?” Reid barely managed to croak those words out. It was like he had forgotten how to speak.

“They wouldn’t give me any details over the phone, they just said to make my way down. I think she was with a doctor when they called me.”

More silence.

“Spencer! I think I can manage to make it to you in 5 minutes so just meet me downstairs!”

Will hung up. Reid was still holding the phone up to his ear. He felt like he was going to have a panic attack. It’s Maeve all over again. I was stupid to be hopeful. He knew he had to get downstairs, and it took all of his energy to drag his feet to the sidewalk. He had somehow timed it well enough because he’d barely been waiting a minute before Will pulled up in front of him. He got in the car, and Will peeled off, breaking many traffic regulations with his driving.

They didn’t say anything to each other, but the silence wasn’t awkward. Will was totally focused on weaving between cars, and Reid just had nothing to say. His world felt like it was just darkness. Nothing mattered anymore. He didn’t even realise that Will had been talking to him.

“Sorry?”

“We need to go in together, they’re expecting me, so I’ll explain the situation and once JJ verifies it, I’m sure they’ll be fine with me leaving.”

There was no reaction from Reid.

“Spence?”

“Yes?”

“Are you hearing me?”

Reid was just staring blankly ahead.

“Spencer! You need to snap out of this!”

That made him look at Will.

“I know you’re worried. I am too. But JJ is strong. She’s pulled through a lot. We both know that.”

“It’s my fault.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m cursed.”

“What?”

“First Maeve. Now JJ. It’s my fault.”

It finally clicked in Will’s head. The whole Maeve situation had completely slipped his mind, but Spence’s behaviours made total sense now.

“JJ is not Maeve. She was in a car accident, you had nothing to do with it. Hell, Spence, you’re not to blame at all for what happened to Maeve either.”

“She would still be alive if it wasn’t for me.”

“No! What happened to Maeve was inevitable - that psycho stalker would have snapped no matter who she dated, if anything the fact that she was dating you gave her more time! More of a chance at surviving!”

“What good was it? I failed anyway.”

“You didn’t fail, Spence.”

Spence was quiet. They were at the hospital. Neither man moved to exit the vehicle. Will sighed.

“Do you love her? JJ?”

He could feel that Reid wasn’t sure what to say, and he hesitated for a moment before nodding his head.

“Then you need to get out of your head right now, and be strong for her. She needs you.”

Reid knew that Will was right. He also knew that Will didn’t have to say or do any of this. He didn’t need to have come get him, he didn’t need to give him this pep talk. He did it because he cared for JJ.

“Ok.”

That was all he had to say, and both men made their way out of the car and into the hospital. Once they went it, he let Will do the talking.

“Excuse me, I received a call about my wife, Jennifer Jareau? I was told she had been in a car accident but wasn’t given more details than that. I think I’m still her emergency contact, but we’re actually separated... I’ve brought her partner with me - would it be OK if we both go through to see her?”

The nurse didn’t even think it was a strange request - she must get it all the time. She smiled at the two of them and told them JJ was in Bed 7. They made their way over there, Reid walking behind Will. The curtain was drawn.

“JJ? Are you decent?”

“Will?” She started to pull the curtain back.

“My phone’s in pieces, how did you-“

She stopped short when she saw Reid standing behind Will.

“I figured you might find more comfort in having him here. I’m still your emergency contact - probably best if you get that changed as well.”

Will realised he could have been dressed as a shark and dancing the waltz and neither one of them would have probably noticed anything. He looked from JJ to Reid, wondering how he never realised the depths of emotions they had for each other. He’d gotten to the point now where he knew that JJ had loved him, and in some way probably still did... But she had never loved him like this. The pair of them still hadn’t said anything to each other. Neither had moved.

“So... I’m going to go...”

That snapped JJ out of it.

“Will... Thank you.”

“You’d have done the same. Let me know how you get on. Do you want me to mention anything to the boys?”

“No no, I don’t want them to worry. I can tell them this weekend.”

“Alright. Well, I’m off. Glad to see it wasn’t anything serious. Rest up.”

He turned to walk away and Spence muttered a quick “I’ll be right back” to JJ before following Will back into the bustle of the waiting area.

“Will... hold on.”

“Spencer, you really should be with JJ right now.”

“I know, and I will be. I just wanted to thank you.”

Will didn’t really feel like saying you’re welcome. He didn’t say anything.

“I know it’s an awkward situation. I know you have suspicions. I know there’s nothing I can say that might change your mind. But I promise you, we never crossed any lines while the two of you were still together.”

“We might have different ideas about lines.”

“I know. And I’m truly sorry. I never wanted anyone to be hurt by my feelings for JJ - there’s a reason I never acted on them.”

“She’s an amazing woman, Spencer.”

“I know.

“Far better than you or me deserve. I lost sight of that. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”

Reid nodded.

“We’re never going to be best friends, or anything like that, but I’m starting to come to terms with what’s happened. Just give me time.”

“Thank you.” He reached out his hand and Will took it and shook it. It felt like a turning point.

He watched Will walk away, before taking a deep breath and heading back to where JJ was waiting. The curtain was still pulled back, so he could see her as he approached. He remembered all the times he had rushed to the hospital when she was hurt, and the times she had been there for him. She was looking down at her fingernails, and somehow she looked so small sitting there on that bed.

She looked up when she saw his shoes approaching. Her eyes were bloodshot. His heart started racing as he rushed forward.

“Are you ok? Does something hurt? Should I get a doctor?”

JJ shook her head. “No, I’m fine, Spence, I’m so sorry-“

“What?”

“You must have been worried sick, I kept trying to get someone to let me use the phone but it’s just insanely busy and I’m not serious enough to be moved out of a bay and into a room-“

“JJ-“

“I didn’t even think that they would call Will, I would have told them to give more details-“

“Jennifer!”

That stopped her short. He tucked some loose hairs behind her ear, and cradled her face. “Tell me what happened, sweetheart.”

“An idiot ran a red light. My car’s totalled, and I think I blacked out for a bit because all I remember was the impact, and then getting pulled out of the car.”

Reid looked around for her chart, so he could see what tests they had run.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to do that.”

Reid shrugged his shoulders. “I’m a doctor.”

JJ shook her head and smiled. She watched him skim through her chart. She had hoped she would have been discharged quickly so she could have just taken a cab to his apartment, instead of all of this. She wondered what had gone down between Spence and Will.

“Mr and Mrs Jareau?”

Reid and JJ looked up to see the doctor standing in front of them. She was about to correct him but Reid got there first.

“DOCTOR Jareau.”

“My apologies. That actually makes this easier on me. As you can tell, the hospital is swamped. You do have a concussion, but you’re just not a serious enough injury to get a room today. I was going to discharge you anyway, but since your husband is a doctor, I’m sure I don’t have to explain the procedure to him.”

“You would be right.”

JJ rolled her eyes. “Also I’m an FBI supervisory special agent, so I know how to deal with concussions.”

“Even better. Let me go get you papers processed and you should be out of here in 20 minutes.”

The doctor left to sort out JJ’s discharge.

“Doctor Jareau?”

“It worked didn’t it?” Reid was smirking.

“I just assumed it would be Dr and Mrs Reid eventually.”

“Wouldn’t that mean we all have to call start calling you JR? And anyway, you never took Will’s name, so I figured it’s just not something you were interested in.”

“You’d actually take my name?”

Reid shrugged. “If we did get married, I’d be wanting to make sure everyone knew, trust me.”


The doctor had taken a little longer than anticipated, and they only realised when they got to the entrance of the hospital that they’d have to call a cab the old fashioned way, since JJ’s phone was destroyed. The taxi driver asked them where they were headed.

“Did you want to stop by Rossi’s first?”

JJ shook her head. “I just really wanna go home, Spence.”

She looked tired. Reid couldn’t blame her. He could just pop by to visit. What mattered was that she rested, especially before the weekend with the boys.

“Oh. Ok, sure. I’ll drop you off there and just explain the situation to Rossi, I’m sure him and Krystal-“

“Spence.”

He looked away from the taxi driver to look at JJ again.

“You.”

“Me?”

“You’re home, Spence. Wherever you are. I don’t want to go back to Rossi’s. The only thing I need right now is you.” Her eyes filled up with tears as she spoke. Reid reached for her and she fell into his arms. He kissed her forehead.

“Ok, sweetheart. Let’s go home.”