a/n: I was at least partially inspired by ilovetvalot's review on ff.net, with idea suggestions, and the whole thing just popped into my head.
No prompt this time, though I've stuck with the first person format. I almost went back and rewrote Hotch and Reid's chapters, but I like the physical descriptions, and generally interior monologues don't include those unless you're extremely narcissistic.
Just Breathe - J.J.
Each one has to find his peace from within; and peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
- Mahatma Gandhi
"Jayje? That you, babe?"
The familiar, Cajun-tinged drawl warms me from head to toe. Will. I drop my bag and keys on the table by the door and step into the living room. He's sitting in front of the TV, but he gets to his feet when he sees me.
"What's wrong, Jayje?" he asks, his narrow face creasing in concern. He steps closer, rubbing my arms with large, gentle hands. "What happened?"
I open my mouth to tell him, to explain everything, but nothing happens. I can't speak. I'm struck dumb by the love and concern glowing from his eyes, by the warmth and care of his touch. Only one word comes to my lips: "Will," I manage to whisper, and I can feel my eyes filling with tears.
"Hey, now, none of that. You know I can t stand to see my lady cry." He wipes away a tear, and I reflect that once upon a time my Cajun charmer would've said "a lady."
"It was...a really...shitty...day," I finally gasp out.
"Worse than yesterday?" he asks, mouth quirking in that half-smile I fell in love with so completely.
I manage a desperate nod. "Worse. Way worse. Foyet came for Hotch; stabbed him, took him."
Will's hands on my shoulders clench and relax involuntarily. "Tell me, J.J.," he says softly. "It's ok. I'm here."
"We found him. Foyet dropped him at a hospital. Prentiss found him. But while she was looking, Reid got shot."
I smile, briefly, despite myself. "Yeah. I told you."
"You didn't lie, cher. How are they, Reid and Hotch?"
"They aren't giving Reid pain medication, of course, so he's...hurting," I conclude lamely. That wasn't what I meant to say, but I don't have to explain myself to Will. He understands. "Hotch is going to be fine, physically."
A silence falls between us, and he pulls me into his arms for a long, soothing hug. "Why don't you go check on Henry?" he says into my hair. "I put him down for a nap, but he's probably 'bout ready to get up."
I pull away, nodding. "Yeah, I think I will." I smile at him, a thin, wavering thing, but I know that he can read in my face all the things I've left unsaid: I love you, without you I'd lose my mind, you're my rock, my anchor, thank you, thank you, thank you. I want to say those things, I really do, but I feel like...
It's ridiculous. I feel like if I tell Will exactly how much he means to me, it would be like a form of goodbye. Not goodbye because I'm leaving him or he's leaving me, but because...you say those things to someone when you're afraid you won't see him again. I know I'll see Will every night when I come home, but if I put into words all the things he already knows...that's just asking for trouble.
He smiles back, tucking my hair behind my ear, mussing my bangs with a playful flick of his fingers. "Go. I'll be here when you get back."
That's what I need to hear. That's what I need to know.
I climb the stairs toward Henry's room, but I hesitate a moment at the door. I listen, but my son is quiet. He's not awake yet. I step inside, lean over his crib. He looks so peaceful, as cliché as that sounds, and I'm careful not to wake him as I run a gentle finger down his smooth, impossibly soft cheek.
"Baby, baby," I whisper, "Momma's home. Sleep tight, baby. Momma and Daddy won't ever let anything happen to you. Ever. No boogeyman is hiding in your closet, my little love."
I step away, sinking down into the rocker set in one corner. How many times did Hotch say the same things to Jack? How many times did he watch him sleep and vow to keep the job separate from that perfect innocence? And how hard was it going to be on him now, knowing he had failed?
Before I had Henry I would look at all the children on the street, in playgrounds, at the mall, and I would wonder...why do we keep having them? There are so many, and the ones we have we can't keep safe. Why do we bring more children into this world, exposing them to pedophiles and killers and abusive homes?
Now I have Henry, and some days when I look into his sweet, innocent little face, my heart aches like a bruise. I love him more than I thought was possible, and if someone were trying to hurt him...I thought of Hotch, alone in that cold hospital room, covered in bandages, worrying for his son, remembering their too-brief goodbye, wondering when he would get him back...
I realize I've started gasping, that I'm hyperventilating, and I try to relax. Hotch will need us - all of us - in the coming months. We'll need each other. I've watched this team bounce back from some really awful things, and I know we'll make it through this. I have faith in us.
I rise again and move toward the crib. Henry's still sleeping, and I feel a sense of quiet peace steal over me as I stand there, watching my son breathe.
More dialogue than per usual for these, but I wanted that moment between J.J. and Will.
If you've read my one-shot "Your Turn," then you'll recognize some of the fears J.J. has here, re: having a kid in a dangerous world. I think it's a theme with her.Thanks for reading!