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Thanks to and for the beta.

The baby always kicked harder at night. Evidently that was pretty normal, but it was also extremely inconvenient. JJ needed what sleep she could get. Pregnancy, as it turned out, took a lot of energy.

It also took a lot of patience, not so much with herself as with the rest of the team. She knew none of them did anything to frustrate her on purpose, but between the times when they all looked at her like she was one of those victims they had to be careful interviewing and the times when they just plain forgot that she wasn't quite as spry as she had been before taking on an embryo, it took a lot not to give into the only-somewhat hormonal urge to gut everyone with the laser pointer.

Penelope said, out of nowhere one day, "I could steal all their identities. Make them peniless orphans of the world," without even acknowledging that JJ had been slowly making confetti out of one of her favorite Hello Kitty pads. JJ put the pad down and said, "Nah, let'em keep their social security for now."

Penelope had laughed. JJ had fought the really, really frustrating urge to sob.


Will said, "Reid?" and when JJ hadn't immediately defended the choice, "I mean, he's a nice guy, honey--"

"Your parents are dead and my parents live in backwater Pennsylvania, and that would be even assuming I wanted our child raised by people far too old to have any generational connect in case of something happening to us. And neither of us are exactly in low risk jobs." She'd said that last before, but she would say it again.

"Well, in that case, neither is Reid."

"No." JJ rubbed at her lower back, and Will gave a little bit, coming over to help. That hadn't been her intention, but her head hurt, and she sure as hell didn't mind the lessening in the tension. She sighed. "Will. Neither of us has any siblings. I want him to be with someone that he won't have to move for. And the team, they're--"

"Your family," he said, but there was no judgment in the statement. He'd had partners over the years.

"It won't just be him. It will be them. And they'll never let any harm come to our son. Not if they have to stand in the way of the bullets themselves." JJ turned to look at Will. "Tell me you don't see it."

Will looked away, but he didn't say otherwise.


JJ trusted Jordan. She'd vetted her possible replacements, had veto power on the ones who simply wouldn't do. It wasn't that she was worried about the team without her, only--

Only she was fucking worried about how the team was doing without her. She had taken to sending Penelope emails at ass o'clock, while up feeding the baby, seeing what was going on. More often that not, she got immediate replies. Generally they started with, "Hotch'll fucking kill me if he knows I'm telling you anything," but she was still good for information, and would even relay thoughts, disguised as her own, if JJ had them.

Most of the time JJ's thoughts consisted of, "So tired, so tired, so fucking tired," but every once in a while, her brain would spark back into functional for a minute or two. Then Will would find her nearly asleep and take the baby, ushering her off to bed.


Hotch had been pretty adamant about her staying away. There had been something in his tone when he'd said it, and sure, JJ wasn't a profiler, not like the rest of the team, but she spent her fair share of time around them, she knew how it worked. And she'd seen Hotch's marriage fall apart, even if she'd only had a view from outside his office, alongside the rest of the team. She'd said, "Yes, sir," and she'd meant, "I'm listening." She meant, "I'll try my hardest."

After all, Will had already moved for her, she could meet him at least that far, trying to be a mother to their son, rather than some woman who occasionally pitched in to feed him. She could do that for herself. She had a feeling it might mean saying no to the team when she didn't want to. She had a feeling the team might mean saying no to her family when she didn't want to.

For the first few weeks, though, it was easy enough to listen to Hotch, to choose her husband and her child over her less legal family. Then, the same way she had felt the baby kicking not so far into the pregnancy, she started feeling the pull at the base of her spine. It had nothing to do with Penelope's sometimes-rushed emails or the things she read in the news. Mostly, it was just the sense of being needed, and no, JJ wasn't a profiler, but she'd always, always had a little bit of a sixth sense when it came to the people she loved.


Morgan asked, "Can I?" and JJ was so used to feeling that tug of, no, when people who weren't Will asked, that she nearly stepped back. Only the tug never came, and there was Morgan, standing ready, ready to hold her baby as tight as he could without hurting him, ready to protect him from anything that might come into this room.

JJ gave him over, and let Penelope do the teasing, Penelope give him the bottle she'd warmed up to Just The Very Perfectly Right Temperature. Spencer was smiling despite looking confounded, and Emily... Emily was a more open version of the mixture of sensitivity and kindness and jealousy that she had shown at nearly every step of the pregnancy, even the worst ones. She'd once tried to apologize for it, but JJ wouldn't have it, couldn't bear it. JJ had never wanted her friends to be less than they were simply because being all of it meant they were likely to show human flaws.

Hotch, though, Hotch was-- JJ said, "You're smiling," and it wasn't a question.

"Yes," he said, still watching the others, his eyes floating over her for the barest of seconds.

The baby looked even tinier than usual in Morgan's arms, under his hands. JJ knew it was an illusion. Sometimes, she felt small in the arms of this team as well. Then she went away, and learned just how very large a thing she was in their eyes. Everything, but everything was relative. Maybe Spencer would have some very complicated way of telling her child that one day, so that she could be the mom, the hero and swoop in and say, "You know how houses look bigger on the ground than from an airplane? That's relativity."

Then again, maybe she'd let Spencer explain that, too.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile