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Home Sweet Home @whiitewolf
Chapter 7

Author's Note: I am the worst at updating. When I first started this story, I was using it to cope with some of my own stuff, and as I've gone further in my healing journey, I've fallen off of my FanFiction and everything here and there. I ended up taking a major break to really work on things for myself, and I feel like I'm in a good place again!

"Red really is your colour you know." That's what he'd said when he rubbed her own blood on her face.

His voice was so clear... so vivid and JJ felt herself fighting back a wave of nausea as she shakily put back the red blouse she was pulling from the closet. So many things had changed for her and she had changed so many things from the way she dressed to her hair. She was reacting to all of it in such a stereotypical fashion, and it filled her with feelings of guilt and shame. She was an FBI agent. She had been trained to deal with victims of similar crimes, and yet she couldn't apply that to herself? She was weak.

'No, stop thinking that,' she cautioned herself. Would she ever think it was weak if this was Emily? If it was Garcia? 'Quit putting expectations on yourself that you wouldn't put on anyone else. What makes you so special that the rules don't apply to you?' It sounded so harsh in her thoughts, but it was what helped her the most. The reality check and the acceptance that she was allowed to feel hurt. She was allowed to feel afraid, to feel shame, to change things to try and cope. She was allowed to heal in whatever way was best for her and denying that wasn't getting her anywhere. She wasn't different than other women or less deserving of compassion and understanding. What she went through was traumatic, and she was allowed to respond like someone who endured a trauma.

Yes, she was allowed her feelings. But she wasn't going to let the men who hurt her dictate how she should dress. Defiantly, she reached forward and snatched the crimson blouse. As she put it on, and looked at herself in the mirror, she decided that he was right about one thing. It was her colour.

A knock at the bedroom door interrupted her thoughts. "Come in."

"Are you almost ready?" Emily said softly as she opened the door.

"I'm ready," JJ replied, grabbing her bag off her side table.

It hadn't taken as much convincing as JJ thought it would. Emily seemed more than happy to call Hotch and advocate for JJ to be a part of everything. Emily hadn't even had to convince Hotch. The team seemed more than happy to involve her. Perhaps they had just been waiting for her to be ready.

She didn't feel safe, and she'd spent a lot of the night crying and letting those feelings out. She remembered Dr Kyte talking about denial, and last night she had forced herself to confront those feelings. While JJ knew a single night didn't fix her, she definitely felt more determined and she could see that on her own face as she glanced in the mirror despite the heavy bags under her eyes. After the hours of talking to Emily, and letting those feelings out, she decided that she didn't feel safe but she was going to do whatever she could to make herself feel safe again. She would do whatever it took to make sure Henry was safe.

The team was coming to her place. They were going to go over the details together and what was happening. She was having men in her home. But she reminded herself as her heart raced that these were her men. Her family. These were the men that would take a bullet for her and do whatever it was to make her safe. Her heart ached a bit as she thought of Will, and the reminder of the space she'd wanted. It made her feel guilty. He would never hurt her. In fact, he was likely to protect her from being hurt. She'd call him later and update him, and perhaps they could go grab dinner together if Garcia would take Henry. JJ knew it wouldn't even be an "if". When Garcia took Henry, JJ knew that her and Will had a lot of catching up to do. And a lot of work to try and fix the relationship.

Within an hour, the entirety of her team was there. Morgan paced the living room, while Emily and Garcia sat on either side of her on the couch. Reid sat on one chair, while Hotch sat on the other. Both chairs were across from the couch with a glass coffee table in between. The table was already littered with pictures, files and papers. Hotch's eyes met hers, and she nodded in confirmation to his unspoken question, 'was she ready'?

"I'm sure you're aware that we are not on this case in any official capacity", he said, "but I don't care. We are going to find the men responsible."

She appreciated his wording, and was sure those words were carefully chosen. The police on scene kept saying "men who did this to you" as a painful reminder of what had happened. The language Hotch chose made her feel less helpless.

"What do we know so far?" JJ asked.

"This group started with a stay at home mom, and ended with an FBI agent." JJ ignored the sickness in her stomach as she was reminded that every single woman attacked had a child.

"We think they were escalating in the risk of the targets they chose, and once they..." Hotch's voice trailed off a bit as he felt uncomfortable voicing the next part.

"Once they managed to attack an FBI agent in her home," JJ said, her tone encouraging him to carry on.

"Yes. We think there wasn't anywhere for them to go in turns of upping the risks, so now we think they've gone on to start killing their victims while disguising them as suicides."

"There's no official reason to think they're suicides," Morgan said. "There's no actual evidence that is linking these two suicides except that we know the circumstances and it feels like too much of a coincidence. We haven't officially been invited in on any case, and even if we had been, the conflict of interest would have meant it went to someone else."

"We've put together all the information we can based on what information we could get with our limited access," Garcia said, her voice trailing off as she gestured to the pile of stuff on the coffee table. "This includes victimology from what all the women did for their careers, to their connections and places they went to regularly. We cannot find anything overlapping except for the general age range, hair colour, and that every woman had a child."

It was unspoken, but she got the message. They wanted the details she could provide. The details of what took place. Without official access, the team had limited knowledge of what took place when the men were at the women's homes besides the obvious. The lump in her throat grew bigger, and the ringing in her ears made their voices become a distant blur. She could see Reid's mouth moving now, but she couldn't make out what he was saying. She felt a reassuring squeeze from Emily, and she closed her eyes. She focused on her breath, and practiced the breathing techniques she picked up in her therapy sessions. As her eyes opened, she focused on the details in the room. From the colour of the walls, to the material of the floors. She focused on what her couch felt like. Slowly, the voices became clear again.

"JJ, we understand if you aren't ready, but whatever you share to us could be helpful in establishing a profile of the men responsible," Rossi said gently.

"I'm ready," she said softly, though the determination was evident in her tone. "I'm ready to catch these guys."

"Okay," Hotch said. "Then let's start from the beginning of the night the men broke into your home."

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