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14 December 2011 @ 08:38 pm
Fic: Seat Selection  
Title: Seat Selection
Author: fbi_woman
Rating: K+
Type: Criminal Minds, team gen.
Spoilers: Canon up to the end of season 6.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Criminal Minds or any of its characters or anything associated with it, yadda yadda yadda.
Summary: Rossi’s had enough of the clear division within the team following Emily’s return and calls on Hotch to end to it once and for all.
A/N: I’ve been toying with this idea for a long time and haven’t been sure what to do with it. I originally intended it to be more of a humour thing, but that didn’t sit right. Then I thought maybe it wasn’t really a fic so much as a chapter of something, but I’ll come right out with it and admit that I tend to abandon multichap stories or at least have a ridiculously long time between updates. Oneshots are much more my thing. So I sought out advice from other writers and decided that I should stick to my guns and have it stand alone, even if it ends up being on the short side. Thanks go to floatingamoeba and phoebe9509 for helping me work this out.


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Dave Rossi strolled off the elevator with a smile on his face. Their unsub was in custody and they had been able to rescue his next victim in time, bringing her home to her family. It was a good night on the job. And now that he had gotten some sleep, he was looking forward to a hot breakfast and a good cup of coffee before the flight home. As he entered the hotel restaurant, however, he began to feel that his morning wasn’t going to be that simple.

Something wasn’t right.

The first person he spotted was JJ. She was standing alone at the breakfast buffet, slowly serving herself breakfast potatoes one little piece at a time with an anxious expression. No one was that concerned about potatoes. In fact, she was so focused on the task at hand that she didn’t hear him approach and jumped when he cleared his throat, sending the potatoes flying off her plate.

He raised an eyebrow sceptically. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah of course,” she replied quickly with a nervous smile, “why wouldn’t I be? You just surprised me, that’s all. I’m just going to go find someone to help clean this up.”

He watched as she scurried off in search of a waiter. Yes, there was definitely something strange going on.

Continuing past the buffet and towards the tables, it immediately became apparent why JJ had been in no hurry to finish filling her plate. The rest of the team, minus Hotch, had already sat down to eat… at different tables. Garcia, Morgan and Reid sat at one table, quietly talking amongst themselves and every so often casting a sideways glace at the opposite side of the small room. There sat Emily, alone, aimlessly poking at her uneaten pancakes with a fork and staring glumly at her coffee mug.

This was getting really out of hand. He had thought by now that his younger teammates would at least be close to forgiving Emily – they were FBI agents for Christ’s sake, not teenagers – but they seemed determined to keep her from getting close again. He turned around to find JJ back at the buffet, cautiously spooning small amounts of scrambled eggs onto a new plate, and it was at that moment that he decided this juvenile drama was ending today.

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Hotch was pulling on his jacket when his cell phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hotch, you need to get down here.” It was Rossi, speaking in a hushed voice.

“Where are you?”

“I’m in the hotel restaurant with the rest of the team.”

“I was just about to head there, why, what’s going on?”

“It’s ridiculous! I feel like I’m in a high school cafeteria. Garcia, Morgan and Reid are sitting together at one table, Emily’s sitting alone at another one, and JJ won’t leave the buffet ‘cause she doesn’t know which table to pick. And what about me, Hotch? Where the hell do I sit? You need to talk to them and put an end to this now, before it’s too late.”

“I’ll be right there.”

He sighed and disconnected the call. He had wanted to give them some time and space to work through everything on their own, but it sounded like they were doing just the opposite. Dave was right: it was time to pull this team back together before the damage was too great to undo.

***

Hotch strode into the restaurant and was disappointed to see that Rossi had not been exaggerating one little bit. JJ was mindlessly adding scrambled eggs to the mountain already encompassing her plate. Morgan, Reid and Garcia were huddled together, whispering about something. Emily was by her lonesome at the furthest table, looking as if she would rather be anywhere else, and now Rossi also sat alone at a table in the centre of the room.

Without a word, he went right over to where Rossi sat and started moving tables and chairs. The room fell silent as everyone stopped what they were doing to watch him with confusion. Once he was satisfied that there was ample room for everyone, he stood back.

“I’d like everyone to join me in the centre of the room.”

They remained motionless, gaping at him.

The seconds dragged on until finally Morgan spoke up. “Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

He tried to protest. “But Hotch – ”

“I don’t want to hear it. This,” he gestured between their fractured group, “this separation ends right now.”

Grudgingly they all shuffled over to the expanded centre table and took their new seats, keeping their eyes downcast.. It was like being called to the principal’s office.

“I think we all know that problems do not simply go away because we don’t want to deal with them, and the only way to heal the hurt is to confront it. Does the avoidance going on here actually make any of you feel better about what happened?”

They collectively shook their heads.

Hotch continued, “I thought that in time you would be able to step back and see this with a different perspective, and in all honestly, I’m disappointed that I was wrong. If there’s something you want to say or questions that you want to ask, do it now, because I won’t tolerate any more of this behaviour.”

Surprisingly, Reid was the first to speak, mumbling quietly in the awkward silence that had descended on the group. “She lied to us.”

“To be fair,” JJ jumped in, “Hotch and I lied to all of you too – it wasn’t just Emily.”

Reid shook his head. “It’s not just that.”

“I withheld that entire part of my past, yes,” Emily began, “and you have every right to be hurt that I hid part of myself when you were all so open with me. But I swear to you, that is the only thing I kept from you. Everything else you know about me is true. I know that trust is earned and I don’t blame any of you for doubting me now, I would too if I were in your shoes, I just want the chance to earn that trust back.”

He scoffed. “So you want us to trust you when you didn’t trust us enough to come to us for help?”

“I always trusted you. I knew all of you would do anything you could to help me if I came to you, and that’s exactly why I didn’t. Doyle would have done whatever it took to get to me. How could I live with myself if he went after Jack, or Henry, or Reid’s mom, or Morgan’s sisters, or any of your loved ones? None of you deserved to pay that price.”

“Put yourselves in her position, and I know every one of you would have made the same decision to protect the rest of the group”, Hotch added.

All eyes went to Garcia, whose tears had finally broken free. “But what if you leave again?”

“I would love to promise you that will never happen, but I can’t see the future. I can tell you that the last thing I ever want to do is leave or hurt you again… and I definitely don’t plan on dying again any time soon.

I hate that I hurt all of you, but if I had to go back and do it all over, I wouldn’t do anything different. I can learn to live with being the person who hurt you. I couldn’t stand to be the reason that someone else hurt – or even killed – you.”

“Anything else?” Hotch asked.

Silence.

“Good, let’s eat.”

---------------------

As always, Emily made sure to be the first one on the jet and took her usual seat near the back. Though she was desperately hoping that this morning’s discussion had been the first step towards breaking down the walls her friends had built, she didn’t want to push her luck.

She was pleasantly surprised then, when JJ and Garcia took the seats facing hers.

After a minute, Garcia squealed and launched herself at Emily, wrapping her in a tight hug. “I hate being mad at you!”

“I hate having you mad at me.”

“I’m so grateful that you’re alive and well, you have no idea. I know it probably hasn’t seemed that way, but I really am happy you’re back.”

Emily smiled, fighting back tears. “You mean that?”

“Of course I do! I know it hasn’t looked like it, but everyone’s really is glad that you’re home. Now come on, no more tears or boss man will be on our case. Besides, I think the three of us are seriously overdue for some girl talk.”

“Absolutely! I need life updates from both of you and I want to hear about any eye candy or amusing losers I missed out on.”

JJ laughed. “Good thing it’s a long flight, because there have been a lot of amusing losers.”

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A/N: This turned out nothing like I planned, and it’s been sitting on my computer for months because I couldn’t decide if I should even bother posting it. I decided since I put the time into actually writing it down, that I’ll post it in spite of its crappy-ness. I couldn’t figure out how to end it, so it ends weird. So yeah, I’m aware that it sucks.