Title: "Where do you go…?"
Summary: Coda to Season 6 episode 20…after watching the episode my Muse grabbed my hand and dragged me to the laptop. Enjoy!
It was late when he walked David to the door gently closing it behind his colleague. The soft clunk from the door as the lock shuddered shut reverberated through Hotch and he drew in a deep breath. The façade was cracking and he ran a hand through his hair, closing his eyes for a brief second. The taste of bourbon lingered in his mouth and he let his mind drift releasing the tight control he had exerted on himself as he welcomed the effects of the alcohol.
David had been the hardest to keep at bay. Rossi was an expert at looking behind the walls put up by the criminal mind so it took all of Hotch's craft to keep his face void of the guilt he felt. He had managed to expertly deflect Rossi's enquiry about his mental state directing him to the topic on hand. He still felt Rossi's searching eyes on him as the older man admitted his love for the team. It was an attempt to get Hotch to open up and reciprocate knowing full well that the sentiments expressed would fit Hotch to a tee. Hotch returned David's honesty coupled with the sly fishing expedition with a smile that for a fleeting moment softened the tension in his face.
He winced as he recalled his non committal reply about a hard year. A hint of disappointment echoed in Rossi's voice as he softly repeated Hotch's reassurance that the team would get through it. He was grateful that Rossi didn't punch him. But that wasn't Rossi's style. Instead he had raised his glass and toasted Emily and Haley observing Hotch's reaction.
It had taken all his strength to not show his hurt at Rossi's last ditch attempt to get him to open up. His eyes darkened as the tightness around his mouth increased. He lifted his glass, never wavering from Rossi's fierce gaze until finally the older man capitulated.
Hotchner walked over to his desk and pushed the files into one pile before reaching over and powering down his computer. For a moment he hesitated but then grabbed the phone sliding into his chair. He listened to the rings while staring out into the bullpen which was deserted. The members of the team had left some hours ago, slowly filing out and leaving the day behind them as they went home.
Looking the members of his team in the eyes during the debrief, talking them through their grief without letting slip what he knew tore at him. He hoped the times he averted his eyes when confronted with their pain wouldn't give him away but fortunately none of his team suspected duplicity from their leader.
But he couldn't shake the feeling of betrayal. They trusted him and there was no reason for them to look for the signs they were trained to look for…the signs that someone was keeping a secret.
"Hallo…?' a female voice startled him out of his thoughts.
Hotch cleared his voice.
"JJ, it's me…" his voice broke and all the emotions of the day came crashing down on him. He fought for his breath, his heart pounding loud in his ears as seconds passed.
"Aaron, where are you?" concern was audible in JJ's voice as she listened to the ragged breaths on the other end of the phone
Hotch steadied his breathing taking tight control of his emotions again. The moment of weakness was over and the mask firmly back in place.
"Sorry, JJ…I'm still at work. I just finished debriefing Rossi…"
JJ didn't miss a beat.
"How did that go?"
Hotch could hear the smile in her voice. JJ was aware of the challenge David Rossi could present even for an experience BAU member.
"Well, he isn't easily fooled!"
Alarm filled JJ's voice
"Do you think he suspects?"
"He fished around as I expected him to but no, I don't think he suspects anything."
"Good. How are the others?"
There was a long pause.
"They are hurting but are coping in their own ways. Garcia is focusing on the good memories and baking cup cakes. Reid, well you know him. His intellect sometimes gets in the way but as long as I can keep him talking he'll be alright. Morgan is angry but is keeping a lid on letting his emotions run wild. If he ever gets his hands on Doyle though….Yes, they'll be okay."
A tired sigh escaped from Hotchner.
"You know, they'll never forgive me if they ever find out, JJ!"
JJ knew that Hotch had divulged his greatest fear. She swallowed hard.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, Aaron."
She briskly changed the topic.
"Do you want to swing by on your way home? I have this lovely eight year old Cabernet Sauvignon just waiting for your appreciative palate!"
"Thank you, maybe another time…" he replied in a flat voice.
His guard had snapped back into place and JJ suppressed a sigh.
"Noted…. and thank you for calling me…" JJ rang off before Hotch could reply.
Morgan's voice echoed in his ears as he stared at the receiver in his hand.
"Where do you go to?"
A smile tugged at his mouth. He stood up pushing his chair back.
It was time to go home where Jack was waiting, tightly cocooned in his bed, knowing that tomorrow morning his dad would be in the kitchen preparing pan cakes with maple syrup. And all would be well.
Hope you enjoyed my after thoughts on this very emotional episode ( which reminded me why I fell in love with this series) Please leave a review as it makes me smile and think of pan cakes ;)
And if you are currently reading my Hawaii Five O fic...yes, yes, I'm getting back to it this weekend...sorry!
Cheers from Down Under!