Chapter 15

Reid had much difficulty settling into his work on Friday. Not only would JJ be confronting Will this evening, but it was also one day closer to Sunday. One day closer to Maeve.

I wish I could call her every day. I want to know what she thinks about so many things. There's never enough time in our conversations.

He'd been thinking about asking if he could contact her more often. But part of him realized that, even if they did talk every day, it still wouldn't seem like enough. He wanted Maeve all the time. He'd never felt this way before, even about books, or learning. Maybe because this was the first time the sentiment had been returned.

She fascinates me so. She intoxicates me.

This had become his typical internal conversation. But today it was continuously interrupted by another.

Please just let him cooperate, and leave. Don't let him get angry. He'll retaliate, I know it. But, the way he operates, she won't see it coming. It will hurt her. And it will hurt Henry. So, please…let it go well. Just make him go away.

Reid knew there was no chance Will LaMontagne would absent himself from Henry's life. But he did hope that the man would see the futility of trying to possess a wife who didn't want to be possessed. If they could just make that happen, they could turn their attention to minimizing the damage to Henry. Once again, Reid was immensely grateful to his boss for offering to help. He didn't want his best friend going into this alone. And he knew he couldn't be the one to accompany her. It would only rile Will, and make it worse.

Before she left at the end of the day, he took JJ aside.

"Please be careful. Like Hotch says, have a low threshold for deciding if you're safe. And please, JJ," he took her arm to emphasize his words, "please don't stay there with him if he won't leave tonight. I know he hasn't hurt you before, but you know he's done everything short of that."

Reid was referring to the typical behavior in a household where there was intimate partner violence….the isolation, the jealousy, the need to impose feelings of guilt. Will had managed all of them with JJ.

Reid finished with, "I've already got the second bedroom ready. All you have to do is come."

Tears welled as JJ realized she was being offered the kind of caring and concern she should have had from her husband. She tiptoed up and kissed his cheek.

"I promise I'll be careful. Thank you, Spence. I love you."

And she left to find Hotch, who would follow her home.

She'd asked Karen to keep Henry for a few additional hours. The long time sitter loved her little charge, and readily agreed.

As they waited for Will to arrive home, JJ handed Hotch a bottle of wine and a corkscrew.

"I think I'm gonna need this."

He tried to give her an encouraging smile, but Hotch knew the ensuing conversation would be extremely difficult for all of them.

"In a few hours, it will be over with, and you'll be looking back on it."

"Let's hope so." But JJ thought it more likely that this would be the beginning of a long and difficult road.

Not having to coerce JJ into cancelling any plans tonight, Will arrived home on time from work. His surprise at seeing Hotch there quickly turned to caution.

"Is something going on? Is something wrong?" Will was using his concerned voice tonight. He walked over to JJ and put an arm around her. "Are you all right, darlin'? Did something happen?" Solicitous now.

Finally, he noticed how quiet it was in the house and started looking around. "Where's Henry?"

JJ poured a glass of wine for him and sat down next to Hotch on the sofa. She waved her husband to a chair.

"Sit down, Will. Please. Henry's fine, he's with Karen."

The two profilers in the room watched as the look of concern left from Will's face, to be replaced by one of insecurity and wariness.

Will looked from JJ to Hotch and back again. She flashed a look in Hotch's direction as well, and then began.

"Will, I think you know I haven't been happy for a long time. We haven't been happy. We don't seem to be to each other what we'd hoped to be. I can't ever seem to please you unless I'm here, all the time, alone with you and Henry. It upsets you when I work, when I travel, when I make plans with anyone else. All of the things that make me who I am. That make me happy. All of those things cause the opposite reaction in you. And that's not what a marriage should be."

Hotch noticed Will's eyes flitting back and forth between him and JJ. He knew, as a profiler, that this was an indicator that Will was concerned with saving face in front of the outsider. Someone truly focused only on his spouse would have had eyes only on the spouse, and especially so given the content of this conversation.

"So, what are you saying, JJ? That you want out?" There was hurt in his voice, but there was also challenge.

As much as she needed to regain her life, JJ also regretted losing the dream. She was choked up, and had difficulty responding. Finding her voice at last, she replied to him.

"I think I am, Will. Yes. I don't think what we have is healthy. I know it's not healthy for me. And even though I know we both love Henry, and he loves both of us, I know that if we stay together, it will be unhealthy for him. I don't want that. And I don't think you do either."

He stood, the anger spilling out. "Don't tell me what I want and don't want! And don't try to tell me that I'm hurting Henry. I'm not the one trying to break up his family!"

JJ looked as if he'd slapped her. She'd been beating up on herself with almost those very words, but they hurt more when spoken by him. It was true that she was the one initiating the separation, and an outsider might consider Will the injured party. But those inside the marriage knew the truth. The biggest question was: who would Henry blame?

Hotch knew he had to give Will some room to react, so he kept his silence now. His main goal was to see that the man left the household tonight. But he did notice that he was seeing far more anger than hurt.

Will was still shouting, all pretense of behaving well in front of company now gone. Hotch was clearly here to support JJ, and Will no longer cared about the impression he made.

"Don't I even get a say in this? You bring in your boss to intimidate me, is that it?"

Now Hotch did interject. "I'm here at JJ's request, to help sort things out until you can each retain an attorney."

"You telling all our business to your friends at work now, cher?" What had once been an endearment now sounded like an epithet. "Where's your friend Spence? Or is he not man enough to be here with you?"

JJ was angry, and upset, and determined not to cry in the face of her husband's tirade. But she was rapidly losing the battle.

"Will," she cursed her voice for breaking. She was determined not to show him weakness. "Can't we just do this civilly? Does it have to be a fight?"

It was as though he'd flipped a switch. He sat back down, his voice now calm, and quiet…but still cruel.

"Sure we can, cher. If you want to go, go. But I'm staying here." He made sure she was looking at him when he added, "and Henry stays here."

JJ took several deep breaths before responding. She wanted her voice to be steady, and calm. She couldn't afford to get this wrong.

"Will, Henry needs his mother. I know he loves you, I would never claim otherwise. But he needs me. I agree with you that he should stay in his home. But I think he should be here, with me."

She waited, trying to interpret the look on his face. Then she spoke again.

"I'm asking you to move out. Tonight. We can work out a schedule with Henry. Please, Will. Please."

She was willing to beg him, if she could get him to agree. Where her son was concerned, JJ would not let personal pride interfere.

Hotch spoke up now, largely to remind Will of his presence. "I think you should listen to JJ. You can work out an agreement where both of you share custody, and you can take your time letting Henry get accustomed to it. But it would be best for the boy to be in his home, with his mother."

Hotch was somewhat sympathetic. He couldn't help but remember when he had been in Will's shoes, albeit for different reasons. Being separated from the child one loved was always painful.

Will was silent for a long time after that, thinking, brooding. Each of them knew it would have played out differently if Hotch hadn't been there to influence and witness it. But, in the end, Will acquiesced.

"All right. I'll move out. I'll get a hotel room. But I want to see Henry, JJ."

"Is Sunday all right? He's got a birthday party tomorrow." JJ was the keeper of the family schedule. She prayed Will would agree. She wanted to keep things as normal for Henry as possible.

"Damn it, you're right." Will rose and started for the bedroom to pack a bag. He turned around to respond, "I'll see him on Sunday. All day."

He was determined to save face. JJ felt for him. She couldn't live with his insecurities, but she knew they were hard for him to bear as well. Twenty minutes later, he emerged with his bag. JJ and Hotch had been silent the whole time, each lost in thought.

"Well, I guess this is it. I'll let you know where I end up. Don't know that there's much available on a Friday night."

JJ recognized the attempt at imposing guilt, and ignored it.

"I can reach you on your cell, wherever you are."

He started for the door, then turned and faced her again.

"What will you tell Henry?"

JJ flushed. She hadn't figured that out yet. Praying the words would come to her, she started.

"I'll tell him that we both love him, and that from now on, he'll have two places to call home."

She realized the inadequacy of the answer, and so did Will. There would never be an adequate answer for a child whose whole life was about to change.

JJ sank back to the sofa after she heard the door slam. Slowly, she raised her eyes to her boss.

"Thank you. That was…it was… I'm glad you were with me."

Hotch was still concerned. "JJ, you've got a very long way to go before this is over. That was just the first of many, many steps."

"I know, Hotch. But it was the hardest step. And you were right, what you said before. I'm looking back at it now."

"You are. But make sure you call Richard and let him know what happened." She'd settled on one of his recommendations for a divorce attorney, and made contact this afternoon.

"I will. We've got an appointment on Monday. Thanks again, Hotch." JJ saw him to the door and bid him goodbye.

She'd ignored a text notification earlier, and now looked at her phone. As expected, it was from Spence.



Henry was used to Will being gone for overnight shifts, so JJ didn't have need to explain his absence this night. She cuddled with her son, reading stories and listening to tales of preschool.

"And then Miss Amy said, "Where's the turtle?" and we looked, and Timmy was gone! So Miss Amy made us all a 'mergency team and said, "Look all over. Under your desks, in the closet." She even told us to look in our pockets, Mommy!"

Henry laughed at the sheer preposterousness of it. A turtle crawling into a pocket! "And then Joey found him! He was hiding in Jenna's cubby!"

It warmed her heart so see her son happy, and troubled her that her choices might change that. But, for now, she enjoyed being close, and holding him, inhaling the scent of him. Eau de little boy.

Under strict orders from Hotch and Reid, JJ had the locks changed on Saturday morning. She and Henry spent Saturday afternoon at a birthday party, and then settled in at home for the night. Now that it had been 24 hours without his dad, Henry was starting to be curious.

"Mommy, when's Daddy coming home?"

She'd been stirring a pot on the stove. Without leaving her post, not wanting to make it seem like a big deal, JJ responded.

"Honey, Daddy and I made a decision together."


"We decided that it would be better if we had two places to live, one for him and one for me. And that you can have both of them. You can take turns between the places."

He was young, and innocent, and didn't know yet that love can fail. Henry didn't see the answer for what it was. For which JJ was profoundly grateful.

"Two places? But what about my toys?"

She hadn't thought of that. Leave it to Henry to be practical.

"Hmm. Your toys. Well, let's think. Could we leave half of them in one house, and half in the other?"

Fractions meant little to a four year old. "Yeah, Mommy! That way I can play with them at both of our houses!"

JJ knew he didn't understand at all, but it was new to her, too. She didn't have it in her to force the realization on Henry right now. She let him believe what he would.

After dinner, after the latest 'Buddies" movie, after his prayers, JJ left him to his dreams. She settled in front of the fire with a glass of wine. She hadn't gotten through half of it when she leaned to her side and fell asleep. Breaking up a marriage was as physically exhausting as it was emotionally exhausting.

She didn't know what time it was when she bolted awake. She only knew there was a pounding on the door, and shouting. It sounded drunk….and threatening. JJ grabbed her phone, and wished her gun wasn't in its safe.

Having been assured by JJ that all had gone well on Friday night, and having secured her promise to change the locks, Reid settled into what had become his weekend routine. Chores on Saturday, followed by ineffectual attempts at reading while his mind constantly wandered to the conversation he would have on Sunday. He thought of all the things he wanted to tell her, and all the things he wanted to ask her.

Reid long ago realized he'd fallen in love with her mind. And then with her character.

Does that mean I'm in love with her? Even if we've never met?

He knew it was strange. He didn't need anyone else's reaction to tell him that. But it also felt pure, and real.

Why do I need to see her? To meet her? Why isn't it enough that she's in my life at all? That she cares about me. That she loves me.

He still hadn't said it to her. Hadn't told her he loved her. Something was holding him back.

Is it that? Is it because I've never seen her? Because, if I met her accidentally, I might not know it? But wouldn't I recognize the ideas? The hopes? The longings? The things that make her 'Maeve'? What does it say about love if you need to see someone to feel it?

He knew he would recognize her voice, and all that it expressed. But, as much as he loved all that he knew about her, and as much as the idea intimidated him, Reid did have a desire to see her. To meet her in person. To touch her. He might be an intellectual powerhouse, but he was also a human male. Who loved a human female. And wanted to be with her. To love her, in every sense of the word.

But I have to free her, first. Having had some success with JJ, Reid was determined to convince Maeve to let him help her. That would be the focus of his conversation this week. He would try to make her see how much she'd helped him to help his friend. And beg her to let him help her now.

Reid shut off his reading light and put away the latest great author he'd ignored for reverie. He retired to dreams of Maeve, in which she was always, frustratingly, just out of reach.

Hours later, he awakened with a start. His cell was sounding. He didn't need his contacts to make out the "JJ". Heart pounding, Reid answered.


Her voice was frightened, broken, small. "Spence?"

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