DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Originally posted to my fanfiction.net account under the same title.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To howlingturtle[at]hotmail.com
A Sudden Change of Heart
"Can't we just go back to arguing about baby names and cradles?" She asks in a desperate attempt to stop thinking about the ring he tried to put on her finger and the startled look in Emily's eyes when she'd told the team she was pregnant. That was one relationship she knew she'd seriously messed up by pursuing the man in front of her; essentially dismissing their lingering gazes, gentle touches, playful flirting, tentative kisses and frighteningly deep feelings for the denial and supposed normalcy offered by the Cajun officer.
"Only if you let me win." She realizes in that instant, with those words, that she hates this man. Hates him for who he is and what he represents. She can't stand him; his stance, his smug grin, his stupid accent, she hates all of it. And wonders why it took her so long to figure out; why she'd allowed herself to live so long in denial.
He's a petulant child, she thinks with dawning realization and no little amount of disdain. The moment she started to pull away from him he started squalling to be picked up again. And she, foolish as she'd been, had done so. How could she not have seen this before? How could she have fooled herself for so long? How could she have let this happen? She let this farce get out of control. Well, no more.
He was meant to be a pleasant distraction, not the end of her romantic life. Yes, she's pregnant, but she's not a fucking scared teenager anymore and maybe she doesn't want to be made an honest woman by this man like her mother thinks is only proper. 'You marry the father of your child' her mother had said and JJ knew that that's what her mother had done, married her father because she didn't know what else to do when she'd gotten pregnant at nineteen. It had worked out well for them, but JJ knew the same wouldn't happen for her.
He isn't what she wants. His sandy blonde hair, cold blue eyes, and hairy arms aren't what she pictured when she thought of her happily ever after future. He isn't what she wants so she says "Not a chance," and he completely misses the double meaning. No surprise there, he only sees what he wants to see not what's right in front of his eyes.
She knows now that she won't marry him. She won't spend the rest of her life wondering what could have been. She won't sit in the backwoods in New Orleans pregnant every two years until menopause waiting for her life to set itself right again. She won't let her life just happen to her without any conscious input. Everything up 'til now has been like floating in the water and letting the currents take her up as they please. That's over now. It's time for her to start swimming in the right direction, even if it means going against the current.
Her life isn't a fairy tale. She doesn't have to marry the first frog that turns into Prince Charming just because she kissed him. Sure, he's the first one who's ever asked and yes, she's pregnant with his baby but she doesn't want him. Not even a little. Not at all, actually.
She knows what it is she really wants or rather, who. And she's fairly certain they want her too. She'd messed up big time letting this thing with Will get so far, but she knows she can fix it. She has to. Because if she doesn't and she ends up marrying the Cajun anyway she knows it'll be the biggest mistake in her life, and selfish as it is she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life miserable thanks to one easily preventable mistake, just because she was trying to hold desperately to the last vestiges of her heterosexuality and in some perverse way her normalcy. It's time to take the first step towards happiness.
"Go home, Will." Her voice is flat, but she stares him in the eyes to be sure her intent is not mistaken.
"What?" He pulls out the kicked puppy look and injured tone, but she ignores them. Now recognizing them for the manipulative tricks he's been using on her all along to get what he wants.
Voice still void of inflection she says again, "Go home. I don't want you here, so go home."
"JJ, why-" She holds up her hand and cuts him off. She knows the look in her eyes is as hard as concrete and she can tell by the look in his that he knows the game is over and he's just lost, big time.
"I'm not going to marry you, Will. Go home." She says it quietly, not wanting to draw the attention of the hotel staff or the attention of her teammates still in the room.
"But JJ, I love you." It comes out as a plea instead of a statement, like he's trying to convince the both of them that it's true and that it'd work. He's trying his tricks one last time, counting on his hurt expression to make her see the error of her ways.
It won't work; she won't let it, because she knows that for once she isn't wrong. She sighs, heavy but relieved. "Maybe," she says, "but I don't love you." She looks into his eyes again and sees a sudden rage fill them. She steps back involuntarily, a primal fear welling in her heart.
"I don't care if you love me or not," he hisses, his accent thickening with each word, "You will marry me. You'll quit your job, marry me, and have my baby because I'm not letting you go." His hand holds tight to her upper arm with bruising strength.
"Let go of me, Will." She tries to keep her voice strong, but she hears the waver of fear creeping in and knows he hears it to when he gives her a cruel grin.
"Nah, JJ. You're mine." She tries to wrench her arm from his grasp, tugging and trying to step away from him, but he doesn't let go.
"Let go!" Her voice rises and a note of hysteria creeps in. She's not yelling, not yet, but she's fast approaching wanting to.
He pulls her closer, crushing his mouth to hers in a forceful kiss. She jerks back her arm and pushes him away, breaking the unwelcome embrace. He stumbles back, catching the full attention of her team members still in the room, Morgan, Rossi, and Prentiss.
They make their way over, quickly, ready to offer their aid to her. Morgan immediately steps between her and Will, preventing him from making any more advances. Rossi steps to Morgan's side, a double barrier, and Emily puts a supportive hand on her lower back asking if she's all right.
She's grateful for their intervention; this had too quickly spiraled out of her control. She'd thought she'd known Will well enough to know he wasn't a violent man. She'd never seen this side of him before and had assumed it didn't exist. She should have known better, especially considering the kinds of people she's seen on the job. He's no different than them now; a dark specter of all things cruel, evil, hurtful, and fearsome.
"Y'all best get outta my way," Will says darkly, his accent nearly choking the words.
"I don't think so man," Morgan states, standing strong between his friend and the Cajun detective. "I think you'd better leave."
"I don't care what you think. I'm tryin' to have a talk with JJ here and y'all are interruptin' so shift yerselves and let me get back to it." There's a vicious growl in his words that scares her and brings back awful memories of those dogs she'd had to shoot back in Georgia, the visceral fear filling her mind. She begins to shake, but Emily's soothing touch calms her, just as it had after the dogs, just as it had always done.
Rossi, ever cool and calm, quietly says "It didn't look like much of a talk to me."
"Don't much care what it looked like to you." Will belligerently snarls, "It's nonna your business. Now let me get back to talkin' with my soon-to-be wife and move yerselves elsewhere." She notices his lips curling up, baring his teeth just like a wild dog would. She can practically see his hackles rising as his nostrils flare and shoulders bunch.
She allows herself to lean into Emily's side without appearing to do so and says, never taking her eyes from Will, "I told you already, Will, I won't marry you." She feels Emily stiffen a little in surprise, but the older woman doesn't pull away. Instead, Emily's hand grips her waist and pulls her infinitesimally closer. Warmth blooms in her chest and she's suddenly calm as she says again "Go home, Will."
She can see the hate burning in his eyes but with Morgan and Rossi a wall between them his rage is impotent. She can hear the smirk in Morgan's voice, even if it doesn't appear on his face, as he says "You heard the lady, LaMontagne. Go home."
She watches Will go red in the face, watches his hands ball into fists, watches his back go ramrod straight, and watches as he finally turns on his heel and marches out of the hotel. Only when he's completely out of her sight does she sigh in relief.
She looks at the members of her team as they turn to face her, "Thanks guys." It's all she can manage to say; words wouldn't properly express the gratitude she feels for the rescue so she tries to convey the feelings with her eyes. The calm she'd felt moments ago fled and she was shaking in reaction as the adrenalin that had filled her muscles drained quickly from her. She felt Emily's arm strong around her, supporting her without needing to be asked.
"No problem JJ," Morgan bent to look her in the eyes in concern, "what was that all about?"
She thought they had gotten the gist of things already and she didn't particularly feel like hashing this all out with her team right then so she merely said, "He was having trouble taking no for an answer."
"JJ " She can see in Morgan's eyes that he doesn't want to let this drop, that he's prepared to question her until she gives in, but she refuses to change her expression. She refuses to be cowed. Yes, he's practically her brother, but she just doesn't want to talk right now and he's just going to have to accept that.
"I'll explain later, I promise. I need to get some rest." Morgan studies her for a long moment, clearly deciding whether or not he should pursue the issue. Finally he gives her a firm nod, one that clearly states they were going to be having a conversation about this as soon as possible. He'd probably bring Garcia, too. And she'd bring Reid and Hotch, making it as close to a family affair as she's gotten since going home for the holidays.
Rossi tilts his head and asks "Weren't you supposed to stay with Will at another hotel?"
She hadn't remembered that. She hadn't wanted to. But it doesn't matter. "My stuff is still here. I'll just get a room."
That's when Emily speaks, "No need. Mine's a double remember? We didn't know he'd show up so Hotch booked us together." The way Emily had spat out 'he'd' made it obvious that she was talking about the departed Cajun, and she hadn't liked him one bit. "I'll take you up."
She nods her consent, noticing that Emily's arm remained around her waist keeping her close and making her feel safe as Emily leads them to the elevators.
It takes no time at all for them to be settled into their room.
She sat at the end of her bed watching Emily busy herself by squaring away their luggage. She's suddenly hit with a vision of herself and Emily in a domestic scene, plainly a couple as they fold laundry together and steal kisses at every opportunity; her heart warms and a smile tugs at her lips as she allows herself to get lost in this fantasy world wishing it were real. She can practically feel Emily's lips teasing her own, making her breath hitch and heat to rush through her entire body.
She's shaken from her pleasant reverie by a weight settling beside her, unexpectedly tilting her in that direction to lean on the cause of the weight, as Emily places a warm hand on her back and quietly studies her. "Where'd you go just then?" Emily asks softly.
A smile bursts unbidden to her lips and she speaks before she can even think of censoring herself, "Someplace nice." Giving up on the pretense of distance she lays her head against Emily's shoulder, allowing herself to lean fully against the taller woman and feel every bit of warmth and comfort offered while wrapping her arms around the puzzled woman's middle.
"Will you tell me what happened downstairs? With Will?" Emily doesn't draw away to ask the questions, if anything her grip gets a little tighter, as if to protect her from even the mention of his name.
"I told him I wouldn't marry him. He didn't like that." She really didn't want to have to explain this. She's positive neither of them is ready for what she's now sure she's feeling. What she's feeling the woman holding her right now. What she's felt on some level for this woman since the moment they'd laid eyes on each other.
"JJ, don't give me that. Not too long ago you were chasing after him to keep him. What's changed? I thought you were going to give him a chance " She senses something in Emily's voice, maybe resignation, or defeat, and she wants to take that away immediately.
She lifts her head from a strong shoulder to look into a steady brown gaze, immediately drowning in their depths, and replying, "I did. I had been trying to convince myself that he's what I wanted. I was fooling myself. And I made a huge mess of things by doing that. We were talking and all of a sudden I knew I knew that he isn't what I was looking for, hoping for. He's not what I wanted, not what I want." A wry smile flashes briefly before she focuses again. "I've been lying to myself for a long time. I thought I wanted the whole American fairy tale, good man, house with a white picket fence, two point five kids and a dog; and I thought I wanted it with him. But really, that's not what I wanted at all."
She can see hope flare in deep brown orbs as Emily asks quietly, breathlessly, tantalizingly close as she leans a little forward, "And what is it that you do want?"
She smiles beautifully and closes the last little distance between them as she presses a chaste but lingering kiss to willing lips, "You. It was always you." She catches those absurdly grinning lips in another more heated kiss.
When they separate Emily looks at her with a little wonder before a teasing glint appears in her eyes and a smirk fights its way onto her face, "So does that mean we're going to fight about baby names and cradles now?"
She laughs; relief and joy blending in a lilting happy sound, and she replies, "I may even let you win."
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