AN: Think it is about time to bring my long writing hiatus to an end. This is the beginning of the long awaited sequel to "Secrets." I'm a bit scared to start this for a few reasons. First off, it has been a while since I've written anything and I'm afraid of being rusty. Secondly, "Secrets" was my most popular fic, so it is going to be hard to live up to that. Finally, it has been a while since I've even thought about this fic, so some things that I have had planned have kind of escaped my memory. Nonetheless, I owe this to all of my wonderful readers, so I will try to make this as good as I can. I don't know how much I'll be able to write (I have a job now along with some other things that keep me pretty busy in real life), but I will try to update as frequently as possible. I'll start off right where I left off, with JJ driving away from our favorite crime-fighting team. *DISCLAIMER* I do not own Criminal Minds or Higher Ground. Finally, without further ado, the first chapter of "Exposed."
"Hi, I'm Shelby Merrick," I keep saying to myself as I silently drive through the downpour. The name leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's like that metallic sort of taste that you get when your gums bleed. Needless to say, I hate it. But I'll get over it. I have to accept it. Shelby is who I was. She is who I am. I tried to escape her for years, hell, decades, but in the end she was always right there. Even when I wore the mask that was Jennifer Jareau, Shelby was the voice in the back of my head. She pointed out the inevitable failure that waited for me around every bend of my life. She reminded me of everything I had lost: my innocence, my self-respect, and most importantly, the ability to love. I thought I had regained all of it through the disguise I called JJ, but at the end of the day, it was just that. Just a disguise, nothing more. Lies crumble with time, and the people that hide behind them are discovered. It's just time for the next disaster to barge into my life.
Mountains loom in the distance. Thank God! At least I'm not lost. My body aches from driving and it is nearly eleven o'clock, but I refuse to stop at a hotel. Despite everything that has happened, or maybe because of it, I don't like the idea of spending the night completely alone. So I keep my foot on the accelerator, leaving the past in the dust only to return to older memories.
AN: Please, please, please review! I usually try not to beg, but I really need to know what everyone thinks about this chapter. Keep it or scrap it? Thanks!