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Sweet Silver Lining
"What I think is that you should know me better than that and stop trying to paint me with the same brush as the man you're really pissed at, JJ," Hotch returned sharply, his fingers tightening against the leather covered steering wheel as he kept his eyes focused on the traffic around them.
Catching her breath, JJ realized that he had a point. She was trying to draw comparisons where there weren't any and it wasn't fair. Not to him.
Aaron Hotchner was the one person she knew she could rely on. If he'd agreed with what their attorney had recommended, then there was a pretty damn good reason he had. He wasn't a fool and he knew how to navigate the law. She should have heard him out before jumping down his throat and making assumptions that she knew in her gut were incorrect. Reaching her hand out to touch his arm, she felt him stiffen. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I should have heard you out completely before I reacted."
Tamping down on his urge to retort, he merely nodded, not trusting his ability to speak yet.
"I don't know if you can understand this, but the way Will treated me….I….guess I have more issues than I thought I did. But, holding you responsible for the things he did….it isn't fair."
"It's okay," Aaron muttered, slowly relaxing as she stroked his arm. "I guess I'm out of practice in the domesticity department, too. I should have approached the subject more carefully. I told Max that if you weren't on board with things, we'd have to come up with an alternate plan."
Breathing deeply, JJ was relieved when Aaron removed one hand from the steering wheel to grip her hand, lacing his fingers through hers. "There's a method to the madness, right?"
"There is," Aaron replied, squeezing her hand reassuringly. "Max wants the court to believe that it was never an issue of you not leaving the Bureau for your son. The want to construe you as the mother that would do anything for her child, but you didn't feel secure doing so with Will. In a happy marriage, however, secure with your new husband, you weren't afraid to give up your job. It's all about perception. Will won't be able to quit and stay home, but you have….it's another point in our favor."
Nodding slowly, JJ had to admit that it made sense. "I see," she said softly, embarrassed for jumping to conclusions. "I can't deny the logic."
"It's up to you," Hotch said, offering her the choice. "I can call Max and Strauss and…"
"No." JJ shook her head, interrupting him. "I want to keep my son. If that means taking a break from my job, so be it. Right now, Henry is the most important thing. His welfare comes first no matter what I have to give up. I can lose it all, but I can't lose him."
"It's temporary," Aaron stressed, glancing over to meet her worried eyes. "Once we have his legal custody assured, you can reevaluate," he pointed out optimistically.
Smiling, JJ nodded. "It's just a lot to take in a short amount of time," she whispered. "But, if it works, it's worth it."
"I agree," Hotch replied supportively. "In the meantime, we have a lot to do. I took the next week off, too."
"What? Why?" JJ asked in surprise, jerking her head quickly. Aaron Hotchner never took personal time. She couldn't remember the last time he'd taken so much as a single vacation day.
"Because," Aaron chuckled, grinning for a moment, "In cased you missed it, we got married. There's the small matter of consolidating two households. We need to convert one of the bedrooms into a nursery. I think Henry's a little young to share Jack's bedroom despite what my son thinks. I can take the couch and you can have the master bedroom until we find a larger house if you'd be more comfortable," he offered solicitously, silently watching her out of the corner of his eye for a reaction.
Reddening slightly as she listened to him, JJ bit her lip. "I don't really think the couch is necessary. We're adults. And we've already….," she faltered slightly, searching for words, "been…intimate. I think we could handle sharing a bedroom. Besides, from what Max said earlier, we can expect a few home visits from the court appointed social worker to take a look at our living situation. We don't want anything to appear questionable."
Privately agreeing with her, Aaron stroked his thumb against the inside of her palm. "You know I meant what I said last night. I won't rush you for something you aren't ready to offer me, JJ."
She knew that he meant every word he spoke. She really did. The problem was that she wanted it…him…even though she didn't know if she was ready to advance to the next level. She'd wanted him for years and last night had only proven that, sexually, they were combustible together. And if he was lying beside her…every night…within touching distance, she wasn't sure if she could trust herself to be wise enough to wait. The way he made her feel when he was with her…it was special. He was special. The last thing she wanted to do was screw that up, whatever 'it' might be. "I know you won't," JJ said softly, staring down at their joined hands. "Let's just see how things go, but there's no way I'm going to let you sleep on your own couch night after night under your own roof."
"It's not a…"
"No, Aaron," JJ interrupted as she shook her head. "We'll sleep in the master bedroom together. We're grown ups that can manage their hormones," she added as she grinned. "Or, at least, I know you can."
Pulling into the paved driveway of his home, Aaron chuckled. "You have a lot of faith in me," he replied, killing the engine.
"I do," JJ agreed, tugging his hand and pulling him toward her. "Thank you for being reasonable enough to think for both of us," she whispered, before pressing her lips against his lightly.
Kissing her back gently, Aaron felt his spine completely relaxed. He'd survived his first marital spat with his new wife with nary a scar. Unlike Haley, she fought fair. "Let's go inside and see our boys," he suggested, resting his forehead against hers.
JJ nodded, ready to begin the next chapter in her life. "I think that may be the best idea that I've heard today."