The tall man stood, reluctance telegraphed by every movement of his body. He clasped his hands behind his back and looked down for a long moment, before finally lifting his head to address the group of assembled men.
"My name is Aaron Hotchner," he quietly stated, "and I'm emotionally repressed."
There was a murmur of encouragement from the others and a modicum of tension left Hotchner's body as he detected the ready acceptance.
"That's why we're all here," a man with thinning hair and bright blue eyes assured him. "This is a support group that Trouble Magnets and Defenders alike attend, if it fits their personality. I'm Jim Ellison and I'm the group leader this year."
Hotchner sat back down, nodding solemnly at Ellison as he did so. The other man's reputation proceeded him and, a profiler to the core, Hotchner couldn't but help catalog some of Ellison's features. Ellison had the barest hint of lines at the corner of his mouth, as though his lips were down-turned often. He also dressed in muted, neutral colors that screamed 'stability' and his jaw was muscular, as though it clenched often.
"You don't lack for membership," Hotchner commented. The room was very full.
"There's usually a waiting list to get in," Ellison told him. "But we recently had an opening."
"And wasn't that a relief," a particularly pale man seated next to Aaron murmured.
Aaron frowned. "Why, was there a problem?"
"Angel there's a vampire," Ellison explained. "He and Dean Winchester didn't exactly hit it off too good."
"And Dean's no longer with the group?" Aaron asked, trying to make sense of it all.
A man with even thinner hair than Ellison snorted. "Dean got a little weepy, if you know what I mean."
Aaron raised one eyebrow. "No, I'm afraid I don't."
"Crying once is okay, it happens to everybody," the man explained. "Cry a couple of times, though, and there's a pretty good chance that you aren't repressed anymore." He nodded at Hotchner. "I'm John McClane, by the way."
The name was familiar and Aaron looked at the other man with new-found respect. John McClane was something of a legend and it was an honor to be considered in the same league. All the same, Aaron also wanted to go home and check his hairbrush. If Ellison and McClane were anything to go by, apparently the emotional repressed had hair loss issues as well.
"Welcome to the group, Hotchner," a dark-headed man greeted Aaron. Hotch was relieved to see that he had a full head of hair. "Just don't expect us to act happy to see you; we're too emotionally repressed for that stuff."
"Agent Malone?" Aaron's eyebrows went up. "I'm surprised to see you here."
"Why?" Malone challenged him. "Don't you think I'm repressed enough?"
"No, it's not that," Aaron stated. "It's just that, frankly, I'm surprised to see so many repressed individuals willing to come to a group meeting to talk about their feelings."
There was laughter from all around him and Hotcher frowned. "What?"
"We don't come here to talk about our feelings," Ellison grinned at him. "Mostly we just come to get our significant other off our backs and to drink beer."
"But Jason said that was what this group was about," Aaron was confused. "That's why he wanted me to come."
Ellison shrugged. "We obfuscate a little."
A man with an almost military haircut snorted. "Obfuscate? That's a big word for you, Ellison."
"Blair taught it to me," Ellison replied, defensive. "You got a problem with that, Gibbs?"
Hotchner's eyes widened. Leroy Jethro Gibbs. If John McClane was a legend, then Gibbs was a scary story told around the campfire. Looking closer, Aaron decided that Tobias Fornell had been pulling his leg; Gibbs didn't look that bad.
Then again, Aaron Hotchner faced down serial killers on a regular basis.
"Just don't let Tony hear you use it or Blair either," Gibbs replied to Ellison gruffly. "Tony's just a little too good at bending the truth the way it is; I don't want him to find out there's another word for it."
"Understood," Ellison responded easily. "Personality I'd like to go back and talk to the individual who taught it to Sandburg, but it was probably his mother. Chastising Naomi's kind of like pissing in the wind. It feels good doing it, but it's messy."
"Wait a minute," Hotchner interrupted, faintly alarmed. "You lie?" He wasn't sure he wanted to lie to Jason Gideon or if it was even possible.
"We ob-fus-cate," Ellison enunciated clearly. "We talk about our feelings, just maybe not in the way the emo boys expect us to. Let me demonstrate," he turned to McClane. "McClane, how's your toe feeling today?"
John McClane's lips pursed in a smirk. "My toe is just fine."
Ellison looked smugly at Hotch. "See? We discussed feelings. Now somebody break out the beer."
"Just one last thing," Aaron persisted. "What if a member really does need to talk about feelings or how the repression of them can impact a relationship?"
"Look, Hotchner, have you ever heard that opposites attract?" Malone asked. "I know I sometimes drive Martin crazy because it's difficult to get me to talk about things, but unlike my ex-wife, he knows it's because it's hard for me, not that I don't trust him. It makes Martin feel good to help me work through something."
"So, by remaining emotionally repressed, we're giving our significant others busy work?" Hotch asked. "Isn't that a little condescending?"
"I forget sometimes," Ellison chuckled. "You're actually a Trouble Magnet, not a Defender. Most of the emotionally repressed tend to be Defenders, although this group is open to both."
Hotch glowered, not appreciating the reminder of his designation with the group. "Being dubbed a Trouble Magnet is an assessment I take issue with."
The vampire, Angel, smiled. "You know, for two guys that are complete opposites, you're a lot like Dean Winchester. He puts up a hissy at the idea of being a TM too."
"If you're not careful, a TM/Defender relationship can get out of whack," Gibbs explained. "We're not about to let our TMs take care of us physically, so taking care of our emotional well-being helps even the balance." The other men gave him a weird look because of the depth of his statement, but Gibbs just shrugged. "I'm emotionally repressed; not ignorant."
"What happens when one of us does need to talk about our feelings more?" Aaron questioned. "You said that Dean isn't a part of the group anymore because he got to emotional."
"He got kicked upstairs," McClane replied.
Aaron blinked. "Isn't that a little harsh?"
McClane snorted. "Not that, upstairs. Room 203 is where they hold the Emoting 101 classes." The smirk came back. "I understand that Dean's not exactly a model student."
"And that surprises you?" Angel asked. "The man is a menace."
Ellison stepped in and diverted attention back to Hotchner. "So, what do you think, are you in?
Aaron thought about it. He still felt a little uncomfortable not being completely candid with Jason regarding what the meetings were about, but it would be nice to have a little breathing room. Besides, if his attendance helped ease Jason's worry a bit, then Aaron was all for it.
"Did someone say something about beer?" Aaron asked.
Around him, the other men laughed, proving they weren't quite as emotionally repressed as they liked their significant others to think. Aaron smiled to himself; he wasn't going to tell if they weren't.
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