Chapter 6: I'll Stand By You
"Oh, the GPS just came up!"
Reid touched a couple places on the screen of the Range Rover's main computer and began scrolling through maps. "Let me try…" his voice trailed off as he pulled out the keyboard and began typing. "Oh, good. The mobile Internet is connecting. I'll do a search on libraries around here."
JJ was concentrating on driving. When she hit a straight stretch in the rural road she began pulling off her heavy jacket. With a flick of her right hand she pushed it toward Reid's side of the vehicle. Reid caught the jacket and draped it over his knee. Looking back at the computer screen he noticed a folded piece of paper had fallen from the jacket and landed in his lap.
Ignoring the computer, he opened the paper and began to read:
In the morning after dark when the night fades away, I know you are here, feel you so near. A promise you made, and I can say, I know I need you close, know with you I feel the most. Please hold me, let me know, you won't ever let me go.
JJ grabbed at the paper in Reid's hand.
Guerin and Morgan, separated by about ten yards, were almost to the wrecked house when Guerin felt Emily's shock and fear slap her mind. Her foot as she stepped forward faltered as if she had twisted her ankle.
Morgan was turning toward her when the first shot was fired. It would have hit Guerin except for her uneven step.
"Run for it!" Morgan shouted sparing a glance back at a figure near the road.
Morgan made for the left side of the ruined house as Guerin zig-zagged toward the right. They were under fire from two directions when they reached the relative cover of what was left of the old building. Leaning to his left, Morgan fired off a short burst in the direction he thought the last shots had come from.
"Do you see them?" he shouted at Guerin.
Guerin was holding her rifle tight to her chest as she leaned against the remains of an outer wall. "Jesus fucking Christ, Prentiss!"
When Morgan looked at her again, he noticed her eyes were squeezed tightly closed. A round blasted through the old plaster to his right as he pulled the walkie talkie from his belt. "Prentiss! We've been ambushed! Prentiss! Do you read?"
There was no reply. Snapping the walkie talkie back on his belt, Morgan looked at Guerin. "I can't reach, Emily!"
Guerin didn't reply. She was trying to sort through the jumbled images from her mind: Emily's surprise and instant fear as she recognized Bennett, pain from a blow to the head, an even deeper fear bordering on panic as she felt herself being dragged toward, then pushed into a vehicle, and lastly the despair as the vehicle began to move.
"Oh, God damn it," Guerin took a quick look out at the field trying to see if she could find the vehicle Emily had been taken in. A shot hitting the wood just above her head made her pull back.
Squinting her eyes tightly shut she reached for Reid.
"Tell me you're happy to see me," Bennett looked down at Emily as the van began to move.
Emily said nothing just kicked at his legs as the van bounced over the rough track that led back to the paved road. For a moment she thought she might gain her feet and be able to fight him, then she was grabbed from behind and her arms pulled back.
"She's a tiger," a voice said at her ear, "a fighter just as you like them." Emily could feel the other man sneering.
"I usually prefer blondes," Bennett squatted catching her knees and holding them down hard. "But you are going to be extra special, Ms FBI," he let go with one hand and slapped Emily across the cheek.
Emily spit blood at him and continued to struggle. "How did you get out of custody?"
"I have friends," Bennett said. The van jerked violently as it gained the hard surface of the main road and turned left accelerating. "I'm useful to them so they let me have my fun," his hands travelled up Emily's thighs. "Imagine my surprise and delight when we got the call from the bitch nurse at the VA that the FBI was there."
This time he punched her hard on the jaw. Emily felt her mind go fuzzy as her body became disconnected. At the fringes of her awareness she felt Guerin; and surprisingly someone else.
"I'm supposed to be back there finding out what you're after," Bennett was still talking. "But how could I pass up having fun with you? My guys will take care of your friends," he leaned over her pressing his body onto her as he grabbed her hair with one hand, "and I'll take care of you."
Emily renewed her struggle as she felt the van turn to the right and go down a sharp dip. It rocketed up the other side of the gully and crossed over a level area with a distinct thump thump of the tires.
"Stop the car!"
"It's Emily! Turn around!"
JJ slammed both feet on the brake of the Range Rover and cranked the wheel hard over to the left. Gravel spewed from the shoulder of the road as the back wheels fought for purchase. When all four wheels were on the road, the tires screamed as the Range Rover juddered the stability control kicking in to keep the vehicle from tipping over. When the back end swung around, JJ stomped her foot on the gas.
"Where? What?" she snapped at Reid.
"I…" Reid had his eyes shut tight one had clutching the computer console the other on the grab bar over the window. "Guerin, where?"
"Emily? They're coming back. Where are you?"
Guerin spared only a brief moment to look out at the field. When she saw movement in the trees near the road she fired a shot.
"We can't hold out long," Morgan was saying from the other side of the wrecked house. "They'll take their time until we are out of ammunition. I tried Garcia. They must be out of range."
Emily's mind was a jumble of emotions the main one being fear; true fear. When Guerin pressed harder trying to reach her she felt Emily resist as she had resisted her once before.
"Damn you! It's not the time for that! Let me in! Let me help you! Reid and JJ are coming back."
At the mention of JJ, Emily's mind opened enough for Guerin to just reach her. Guerin could feel the press of Bennett's body against her, his groping hands, and Emily's revulsion.
"Give me something, anything, so JJ can find you! They're not that far!"
Through her struggling body and mind, Guerin felt the vehicle she was in dip down then go sharply up and over something that jarred the tires with an unmistakable rhythm.
Guerin pushed those thoughts on to Reid before turning to Morgan.
"Just another day in the Panjwai district," she grinned at him before turning to sight through the scope of her rifle.
JJ glanced at Reid, noted the puzzled look on his face.
"Reid? What's going on? What are you…"
He shushed her with a frantic wave of his hand as he concentrated hard on the images Guerin was sending him.
He was aware they were moving at a breathtaking speed back down the road and with one part of his mind he was even able to see the thrown up gravel as they passed the side road that led to the wrecked house. JJ noticed the tracks as well as her foot pressed even harder on the accelerator.
Suddenly he had it. "Train tracks!" He turned to the computer and brought up the GPS map. The connection to the GPS satellite had gone offline again but the map was still on the screen. He scanned the map, looked up to try to determine their position in relation to the map. When they began to enter a gentle turn to the left he had it.
"Slow down, JJ! Slow down. It's coming up on the right."
On the map the old train line was marked as a recreational trail and it paralled the road they were on for a short while. The road they were looking for crossed it at 90 degrees.
"Here!" Reid shouted and braced himself as JJ braked again.
She had overshot the side road and began to back up. When they turned into the dirt road they went immediately down into a gully then right back up. At the top of the gully on the other side, they went over a series of rough, weathered boards that had once been the railroad crossing. The Range Rover's tires made a distinct thump thump as they passed.
"What happened to Emily, Reid? Tell me," JJ's hands on the wheel were damp. She had not needed the weird connection Reid had with Guerin to know that something very bad had happened to Emily.
Reid swallowed hard before answering. "Bennett abducted her. She's in the back of something like a van. He's…"
Reid saw JJ's eyes go wide with horror when she recognized the name. But it was only for a moment. With a huff of breath her face changed to such a look of determination and anger that, for just a moment, he actually felt afraid, not for Emily but for Bennett.
"Tell her I'm coming, Reid!" When Reid didn't answer, she shouted it.
"TELL HER I'M COMING!"
"They're going to flank us," Guerin shouted to Morgan. "Move up on both sides through the trees."
Morgan nodded. "How many rounds do you have left?" he checked his MP5. He had fired most of the first clip and had one to spare. Other than that he had his Glock.
"I have 10 rounds in the rifle and my Browning."
Morgan watched as Guerin seemed to smile slightly. "You go, girl," he heard her say under her breath. With that situation as close to being under control as possible, Guerin reached out for Tergensen feeling her reaching back confused and anxious.
"Turn around, Dev. We need help."
Emily bucked her hips as Bennett's hands worked at her belt.
"Hold on, she's coming," she felt Guerin's thought touch her mind. There was just a glimpse of JJ with the thought, her face rigid with determination as she drove the Range Rover. Emily had only a second to realize the image came from Reid.
When she kicked out at Bennett she was able to get her heel into his thigh. He bellowed with pain and rage his fist pounding down on her again. She turned her head at the last second and the blow caught her on the ear stunning her.
The Range Rover came out into the open field from the cover of the trees. JJ turned right onto another dirt road that followed the border of a muddy field.
"There!" Reid shouted, pointing ahead and to the left.
A large white van was moving rapidly down a dirt track that defined the other border of the field. JJ took only a moment to pick her spot.
Reid sucked in a breath as he braced himself hard against the seat waiting for the Range Rover to leave the road.
JJ picked the perfect spot.
All four wheels spun in the open air as the vehicle went air born for several seconds before crashing down with a thump that sent Reid's head into the roof. JJ fared better as her seat restraints were a 5-point racing harness.
Mud flew from the back of the Range Rover as JJ pointed it on a diagonal path toward the speeding van its driver oblivious to their rapid approach.
"A little to the left," Reid advised his voice tight. He knew exactly what JJ intended.
The big, customized four-wheel drive raced across the field, dipped down into the shallow ditch, lurched up onto the road at the rear of the van and clipped its back left bumper – hard.
The van went into an immediate spin as the Range Rover carried on across the narrow road and into the field on the other side.
JJ hands slapped the steering wheel as she turned it all the way to the left. Both feet were on the brake as the Range Rover turned mud flying in a great arc behind. Her right foot slammed down on the gas pedal even as her left foot gave a gentle pressure to the brake.
When the vehicle completed the 360 turn and was pointed back toward the road, Reid let out the breath he had been holding. The white van's nose faced them; its back end was in the ditch on the other side of the track.
Reid had only a moment to breathe before JJ slammed on the brakes. Jamming the Range Rover into park, she opened her door with left hand and drew her Glock with her right. Standing on the running board she fired two neat shots through the windshield of the van. Reid watched the van driver's body buck as the shots took him in the chest.
"Go right, Reid. I got the left."
She was already off and running toward the van when Reid drew his revolver from its holster.
The back doors were open when JJ made it around the van. She caught Reid's eye and motioned for him to stay back.
Taking up a combat stance about 5 yards from the back of the van she waited. There was movement from the dark inside of the van and Emily appeared with handgun pressed to her right temple and an arm holding her tight across the chest.
"One move and she's dead," a voice JJ had never heard said. When Bennett peaked out from behind Emily she recognized him and tightened her grip on her weapon.
"Let her go!"
Bennett did not loosen his grip as he forced Emily from the back of the van. When they were fully out of the van, JJ felt her rage move into the impossible range. Emily's face was bleeding and both her pants and shirt were undone.
"Drop the gun and I'll let her go."
JJ knew there was no truth in that statement and held her position.
Bennett peaked out from behind Emily again and JJ saw him smile when their eyes made contact.
"A blonde with a gun, how funny is that?" Bennett taunted. He ducked back behind Emily's head, peaked out, ducked back. Each time JJ's finger tightened on her trigger.
Her full concentration was on Bennett but she still saw Emily squeeze her eyes shut in a slow, meaningful blink.
The next time Bennett peaked out, JJ's finger fully depressed the Glock's trigger.
Time seemed to move very slowly forward as Bennett's head snapped back a neat, red dot appearing squarely between his eyes. The weapon in his right hand dropped to the ground and his left arm lost its grip as Emily moved forward and to the left away from him.
JJ stared down the barrel of her Glock as Bennett fell backward slowly to land flat on his back in the mud. Her hands still rock steady she gently lowered her weapon and breathed out.
Time lurched forward again as behind Emily Reid appeared at the side door of the van. He pulled back slightly and fired two shots into the van his face scrunched in revulsion.
"Clear!" Reid shouted. "There's no one else."
Quickly JJ holstered her weapon and moved toward Emily catching her as she started to fall forward. Grabbing Emily with her left hand she looked down and Bennett.
"A bullet in your fucking head, how funny is that, asshole!"
JJ began kicking at the inert body her rage finally boiling over. "Teach you to fuck with my girl! Didn't I? Didn't I?" each phrase was punctuated with a kick. "You scum sucking, mother fucking…"
Snapping back to the present, JJ looked at Emily. "I'm OK, Jennifer," Emily leaned into her lover.
JJ gave Bennett's body one more kick and began leading Emily back toward the Range Rover. When they reached the passenger side, JJ pushed Emily down onto the running board beside the open door.
Kneeling in front of her, JJ began to redo the buttons on Emily's pants and shirt. "He didn't, JJ," Emily said in a soft voice, "he didn't have time."
Finishing buckling her belt, JJ met Emily's eyes her expression fierce.
"You are always safe with me. Always loved by me and I will always, always protect you."
Emily's face crumpled as her eyes filled with tears. Behind her, JJ heard Reid sigh heavily. Leaning forward, JJ pressed her cheek against Emily's cheek ignoring the smear of blood from Emily's bleeding nose.
"I've got you Em, I won't ever let you go. You know that, right?"
When she felt Emily nod, JJ pulled back.
"I'll always stand by you; always be there for you."
When Reid passed her Emily's holstered Glock, JJ clipped it back onto her belt on her left side.
"Thanks," Emily said, taking in both of them.
Reaching past Emily into the Range Rover, JJ retrieved a water bottle and a wad of paper napkins. Dribbling the water liberally over several napkins, she wiped the blood and tears from Emily's face. Then with both hands, she ran her fingers through Emily's loose, tangled hair. Finding several gobs of something she didn't want to contemplate, she washed them out with water from the bottle.
"I worried I couldn't protect you," Emily's voice was soft as JJ rebound her hair in its usual ponytail, "and here you saved me." Emily looked up meeting JJ's eyes again her expression so open and vulnerable JJ stopped breathing for a moment. "Will you ever cease to amaze me?" the corner of Emily's mouth crooked in just the slightest smile.
JJ stared at her for a long moment before leaning forward and kissing Emily's forehead.
"I hope not."
Reid shuffled his feet behind them. "We need to get back. Morgan and Guerin need us."
As Reid settled into the driver's seat he glanced at JJ as she positioned herself on Emily's lap on the passenger seat.
"Where did you learn to drive like that? That wasn't FBI training."
JJ looked at him a slight smile creasing her mouth and eyes. She didn't answer.
"Ah," Reid said as he started the Range Rover back down the dirt track at a fast clip. "Rural Pennsylvania?"
A few minutes later
Reid guided the Range Rover into the road that led to the old house the Escalade driven by Tergensen right behind them. Before they had reached the field they could hear the shots. He pulled the vehicle to a stop just behind the Ford truck. When he jumped out he went right to Tergensen.
"They are in the trees to the left and the right," Tergensen said what he already knew. "Guerin thinks there's only two."
On the passenger side of the Range Rover JJ handed Emily the Remington shotgun. "Does this help you feel better?" she asked with a grin.
"A bit," Emily chambered a round with a rake of the slide.
Walking toward Reid and Tergensen, JJ took charge. "Go to the left, Devin. Em and I will go right. Reid you stay here."
Reid did not have time to protest as the three women disappeared into the woods. He watched them go for a moment before walking back toward the Escalade.
"Is Emily alright?" Garcia asked before he could say anything. Garcia had her hand clasped over Carmo's wrist where the tall woman leaned between the seats her expression agitated. "Tergensen said something about Bennett?" the disbelief in Garcia's voice was plain.
"She's fine, Garcia," Reid responded his face cracking into a smile. "You should've seen JJ. Just like that time she…" he didn't finish, he didn't have to as they were both thinking of the incident with the man who had shot Garcia and JJ's perfect aim that time in the BAU bullpen.
Dead leaves thick on the ground covered any sound of their footsteps. Ahead of them there was another sharp crack as the hidden shooter fired toward the old house. JJ motioned Emily to hang back as she moved closer.
There was a structure of sorts just ahead at the edge of the trees. JJ saw movement coming from inside the partially collapsed walls. She couldn't see him when she was behind the little building so she moved farther around the other side.
Just as she moved far enough to see him sight through the scope of the rifle he held, they was a single shot from the direction of the wrecked house. Wood splintered above the man's head and he ducked back his face and rifle turning toward JJ. She could see the rifle was pointed directly at her chest and even saw him smile as he started to pull the trigger. She was holding her Glock too low to get off a shot in time.
Two successive booms from Emily's shotgun felled him from behind before he could pull the trigger. The rifle fell from his grasp and he flopped forward taking the side of the little building with him.
Emily walked around the front of the small, wooden structure. "Is this a…"
"Yeah," JJ replied bending to pick up the rifle. "It's an outhouse." She raised her walkie talkie and spoke into it. "Clear on the right. Cease fire. It's me and Emily."
There were two shots from somewhere off to the left and Tergensen's voice called an all clear on the walkie talkie. JJ and Emily started walking across the field to the house JJ leaning into Emily in an unsaid thank you.
A few minutes later
Guerin handed the half empty water bottle to Morgan who downed the rest. "Why did we come here again?" he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Cause, you know, I've been shot at so many times today I kinda lost track, know what I'm sayin'?"
"The old man hid something in the basement," Reid replied as he pulled up a board and exposed the old stone steps that led down to the cellar. "Anyone got a flashlight?"
Reid led the way down followed closely by Guerin and Morgan. When he reached the bottom of the stairs Reid stepped down into several inches of water as he panned his light around. At the farthest corner of the cellar the light played across something large and a papery white.
Behind him Reid felt a surge of shock and horror from Guerin and quickly moved his light back to the white blob expecting to see a decomposing body. Instead, what his light picked out was a wasp nest, a very big wasp nest.
Guerin was still scrambling backward on the stone steps almost knocking over Morgan in her haste to get away. Reid could feel her panic, her absolute fear. "It's February," he called over his shoulder. "They won't hurt you."
Guerin was already up the stairs and out into the open. "I hate them I hate them I hate them…" she was saying over and over her shoulders shaking as she knelt on the cold, dead grass.
"Phobia," Tergensen said to the others and she knelt next to Guerin wrapping her arms around the smaller woman. "I saw her freak out once before when she was surprised by a little nest in the backyard shed at our house. She almost went through the wall to get away from it." She patted Guerin on the back holding her tight. "Firefights and IEDs in Afghanistan didn't bother her, but a hornet's nest…"
Back in the cellar, Morgan joined Reid at the bottom of the stairs. They made their way over to where the old chimney came through the floor. It was partially collapsed on one side just a tumble of old bricks and mortar. Reid began systematically going over the bricks that remained intact while Morgan sorted through the jumbled pile.
After five minutes or so and several false alarms, Reid found one that moved when he touched it. Grasping its edges he wiggled the brick from its place. Shining his light in the hole, he saw a small tin wrapped in plastic.
"Morgan, I found it."
Several hours later
"I can't believe I'm camping. I can't believe it's February. I can't believe I'm camping in February!" Garcia added the last sentence tying the two thoughts together as she approached the picnic table her laptop computer under her arm.
She sat next to Morgan and leaned into him as he put his arm around her. "Strange days, baby girl, strange days."
Above them a huge blue tarp was strung up between the trees protecting the area underneath where the picnic table sat. To the left was a large screen tent from which the smell of spaghetti sauce and garlic wafted. Emily and JJ, with Carmo helping, were busy cooking within the shelter Emily and JJ talking in low tones. On the edges of the camp, Guerin and Tergensen were walking back and forth rifles held low but ready. Reid sat at the picnic table across from Morgan his eyes on the tin box where it sat unopened and placed exactly in the middle of the table.
Garcia pulled her jacket closer around her body noticing the weight that dragged down one pocket. When she pulled out the little .380 pistol and placed it on the table her expression was annoyed. She nudged it with a finger pushing it closer to Morgan who smiled at her indulgently.
"How about I teach you how to shoot?" Morgan nudged the handgun back toward Garcia.
"How about you don't," Garcia pushed it back toward him, "cause I don't want to know."
"OK, then how about I show you how to point it menacingly?"
Garcia thought for a moment before nodding.
"I can do menacing," she smiled and bumped him with her shoulder. Morgan laughed patting her hand. Across the table even Reid was smiling.
"Dinner is about to be served," Emily came out of the screened tent and began laying out plates. "Come and get it," she raised her voice to include Guerin and Tergensen.
Although the mood around the table was light, they ate in silence. Every now and then someone would steal a glance at the tin box. A half an hour later when all the spaghetti and garlic bread was consumed and the dishes washed and put away, decision time had come.
"Who's going to open it?" Garcia asked looking around the table and father out where Morgan was patrolling.
Guerin leaned over the foot she had propped on the seat beside Tergensen. "Reid should. He found it."
All eyes at the table turned to Reid as he stood and reached toward the box. He moved it under the light cast from one of the lanterns and carefully began to unwrap the rigid plastic. Morgan moved closer sparing a look now and then over his shoulder across the empty campground.
When the plastic was removed, Reid pried off the top. Placing the tin box back on the table he carefully reached inside and withdrew a stiff, folded paper. As he opened it he realized it was an 8 x 10 black and white photograph.
"Careful," Garcia warned realizing what it was. "Old photographs can be very delicate and should never be folded."
"Too late for that," Reid said as he pulled open the last crease. The photograph was folded in on itself and was slightly stuck together. Gently he laid it on the table and everyone leaned in to look.
A group of about twelve men were standing or sitting in front of a huge stone fireplace. Behind them rustic beams spread toward the high ceiling on either side of the fireplace and in the background, a mounted moose head could just be seen. In front of the group a bearskin, complete with grinning head, was laid out. None of the men were smiling.
"Looks like a hunting or fishing lodge," Emily said. "My father used to go to one up in the woods in eastern Canada. It was owned by an old, rich family. I forget who."
There was silence for a moment until JJ leaned closer and pointed to one of the men. "That guy reminds me of Sam Walton. I did a project on him in high school."
There was silence for another moment until Garcia pointed to another man. "He reminds me of the guy that ran IBM in the 60's. Or was it HP? One of the first and biggest computer companies; I can't remember."
That let loose the floodgates and, after a few minutes, a lot of the men had been identified or at least speculated on, as captains of industry and business in North America from the late 1960s and into the 1970s.
Reid flipped the picture over. On the back in a cursive script was handwritten:
The Watch That Ends the Night, Gloucester Brook Lodge, 1969
"What does that mean?" Garcia asked, "The Watch That Ends the Night?"
"That's an interpretation of Psalm 90," Reid's voice was soft.
"Do you think that's what they called their little Boy's Club?" JJ's tone was not complimentary.
No one answered.
Reid realized then he had not checked the box to see if there was anything else. When he tipped the box upside down, an index card fluttered out landing on the table next to the picture.
Though it was smudged a number and one word could be made out:
The reverse side was blank.
A little while later
JJ and Emily met Reid and Morgan as they were walking toward the cinder block building that held the toilets and showers.
"I got the hot water heater fired up," Morgan reported with a smile. "The water should be warm enough for you guys to shower. Just don't use up all the propane. The campground owners are going to be pissed enough at us as it is being here when they're not."
Emily was standing under the stream of hot water when she heard JJ enter the tiled enclosure behind here. "Reminds me of the gang showers in the boy's locker room in high school," JJ commented.
Emily was about to ask how she came by such a fact when she felt JJ's hands at her waist.
"Sit," JJ directed pulling Emily back as she slid a thigh tall stool under her behind.
Emily did as ordered hitching her heels up on the lowest rungs of the stool. JJ circled in front of her blocking the flow of water. In her hands she held a bar of soap. As she lathered the soap between her two hands she gazed at Emily.
"I can never get over how beautiful you are," JJ leaned into Emily her soapy hands passing over her lover's shoulders and then down over her breasts. Raising her chin with one hand, JJ kissed her tenderly, slowly, deeply.
Emily felt her body respond as her own hands moved over JJ's smooth, wet back and down her hips. After everything that had happened this day she didn't understand how she could be so quickly aroused, yet it seemed so natural to lose herself in JJ's sweet touch.
"I thought I might lose you," JJ said breaking the kiss. "I couldn't stand the thought of that." With the soap in her hand she moved up and down Emily's arms, across her back and neck and very gently over the bruise just starting on one of her cheeks.
"I will fight for you to my last breath," JJ was behind her now and the soap was replaced with shampoo as JJ's hands massaged her hair and scalp. "I would die for you in a heartbeat."
Emily felt the breath catch in her throat as her head dropped forward of its own accord.
"I love you that much, Em."
JJ turned the stool around so Emily's back was to the flow of water. Both hands moved through her hair as the warm water washed away the shampoo. Again JJ kissed her. Emily felt herself melting as a soft moan escaped her.
Picking up the soap again, JJ washed Emily's legs and feet as she knelt in front of her. Emily just closed her eyes enjoying the sensation of her lover's hands mixing with the warm water on her skin.
After a time, JJ stood her eyes the darker blue Emily had come to know as her most sensual state.
"There's only one place left to wash…" JJ's voice trailed off suggestively as her hand with the soap bar moved between Emily's legs. With a sigh Emily pulled JJ close and reached to take the soap from her hand as she pressed her face between JJ's breasts. JJ's hand did not falter as Emily took the soap from her, in fact JJ's hand moved even more deeply and intimately when Emily shifted her feet up to higher rungs on the stool.
Emily rubbed the soap all over JJ's chest and back moving her head only to let the water wash away the suds before she took one of JJ's nipples in her eager mouth. Her hand still clutching the soap, Emily moved down JJ's back and between her firm buttocks reaching as far as she could.
JJ arched against her, the hand she had on Emily dropping away to grasp at Emily's back as sensation overwhelmed her. Emily didn't mind the loss of contact; never had she needed to feel a woman, taste a woman, as much as she did now.
Giving JJ's nipple a last tug with a gentle grasp of her teeth, Emily dropped to her knees on the floor in front of JJ burying her face in JJ's mound. JJ lifted one foot to a middle rung of the stool opening herself to Emily's hungry mouth. She groaned from her gut as Emily easily found and took her clit. The groan became a gasp as one of Emily's hands pressed strong fingers inside her.
Lost in the taste of her lover, the feel of her lover, Emily let all the pent up energy pour out of herself and into JJ. Such a short time, such a long time she made love to JJ with her eager body and determined mind. Eventually, Emily felt JJ's hands clutch even harder as they closed into tight fists in her hair her head going back as her gasp became a cry that echoed off the tile walls.
After a moment, as she rested against JJ's hip catching her breath, Emily laughed.
"There goes the hot water."
A few minutes later
Garcia could not help smiling as she watched Emily and JJ walking back from the shower building. They were leaning close to each other, touching and giggling in a way that only two people so in love and so oblivious could be.
A movement beside her drew her attention and Garcia looked at Devin Tergensen.
Tergensen was not smiling as she watched JJ and Emily her face was a mask of pain; a hurt so deep Garcia could not begin to imagine feeling such a thing. When Tergensen saw her looking she pivoted on her heel and walked rapidly away.
Garcia sighed and, smiling again, looked up at Emily and JJ as they approached the table.
"What have you two been up to?"
"Oh, nothing," JJ laughed hugging Emily.
A few minutes later
Guerin found Tergensen sitting on the tailgate of the Ford truck swinging her legs and staring at the ground. She sat beside her, their thighs touching. Without a word, Guerin watched the sky change colours as the sun set. Tergensen watched the shadows move across the dirt below her as she swung her foot back and forth.
"I never had anyone love me like that," Tergensen eventually said not looking at Guerin.
Guerin didn't ask for an explanation she knew what Tergensen meant.
"Until Claire," Tergensen glanced at Guerin a lock of red hair partially obscuring her eyes.
"Yeah, until Claire," Guerin reached to smooth the hair back from the other woman's eyes, felt immediately how the touch both pleased and disturbed her in a complex way. "I won't ever love anyone like that again."
Tergensen looked up sharply. "You should, Guerin. I think she would want you to. Don't you?"
There was a pleading in Tergensen's eyes that Guerin did not want to accept or even to meet. Instead she began to talk.
"She didn't like me very much when she first met me, you know," Guerin smiled ironically, "but I loved her as soon as I saw her."
I was sipping my second cup of coffee and opening my binder to go over the paper that was due for tomorrow's class when I heard the laugh. I looked up as a tall, red haired woman came out of the back room of the coffee shop pulling an apron over her head. Instantly I was attracted to her; she was everything I desired and I could not help but stare. She was laughing at something the other employee had said, responding in French with something like 'I know you missed me while I was up in Rimouski' or some such. When she leaned in to kiss the other girl I was mesmerized by the flash of desire that passed over the other woman's face for the briefest of seconds. It was a desire I now shared. When the other woman departed into the back, the red head looked up and caught me staring at her. Her eyes held mine a smile playing at her lips and I knew right then she was used to it; used to seeing desire, desire for her in the eyes of another.
I hung out at the coffee shop longer than I usually did waiting for a moment when I could approach her and ask her out. When the moment finally came, I leaned over the bar and looked right at her. 'Would you like to go out for coffee with me some time?' I asked her in French. She met my gaze and I could see she was trying not to laugh. I felt instantly lame. 'We are in a coffee shop,' was her response. 'Yes,' I said, 'I know. Maybe someplace else? Some time?' She had looked at me quizzically probably wondering about my accent as I had let some of my Northern New Brunswick French creep into my words. When she did not reply I introduced myself. 'Good for you Guerin Garrison,' she said giving my last name a strong French turn. With that she turned and went in the back.
"The bitch!" Tergensen looked at Guerin her eyes playful. "How did you…"
"Win her over?" Guerin grinned. "This is the fun part."
The next time I was in the coffee shop there was a handmade sign on the wall advertising an 'Open Mike Night'. The red head was on the customer's side of the bar drinking coffee probably just finishing her shift. 'Are you going to play, Claire, Friday night?' someone asked her. I saw her shoulders shrug noncommittally and knew by the way the guy smiled at her that she would. Perfect, I thought.
On Friday night I was there before her seated at my usual table, my guitar case at my feet. I made no move to go to the little stage they had set up in the corner and after what seemed like forever, Claire came out of the back an acoustic guitar in her hands. She settled on the stool in front of the microphone and looked over the few – very few – people that constituted the audience. She did not meet my eye. Her first song was Celine Dion; a slow French song I did not know and when she did Helene by Roch Voisine half in French and half in English, I knew I was out of my league. When she was done she looked around and finally met my eye. 'Is there someone else that wants to play or should I continue with a few songs from the 70s? Anyone else?' She was looking directly at me. Her smile held a challenge along with the question. I didn't answer just got up and opened my guitar case. I was not surprised that Claire did not leave the stage, just gave up the stool in front of the mike for another stool just to the side. When I sat, her eyes were not on me, but on my guitar. 'A Larrivee? I hope you do that instrument justice.' I spared her only the slightest glance. I had planned to do a Blue Rodeo song as they tended to fit with my angsty style. I knew I was not the greatest guitarist or singer but I had… well, I had something. When I began to play it was not Blue Rodeo but a song by another East Coast singer, Lennie Gallant, who performed in both French and English.
"He came knocking on her window pane, he said let me in, it's gonna rain…"
At the chorus I knew I had her when her voice joined in harmony with mine.
"Which way does the river run, through this town? Which way does the wind blow, when the sun goes down?"
Tergensen was silent for a long time just swinging one foot from the tailgate. Then, with a sigh, she slowly shifted her body until her head was in Guerin's lap and she was looking up at the woman above her.
"Mani thinks I loved Mich, you know," she finally said, "and I did. Just not in the way that I…" her voice trailed off and she took several deep breaths.
Guerin was not looking directly at her, did not want the connection of their minds. With one hand, she idly drew the two fingers of her right hand through Tergensen's hair, stroked her cheek. Guerin said nothing. What Tergensen needed to say had to be done without the complication of her interference.
"Would you… will you…" Tergensen started, paused. "Will you play for me some time Guerin?"
Guerin sighed heavily and looked out at the pine trees around their camp.
"I haven't played since Claire died, Dev. I just can't."
Tergensen seemed about to say something when there was a shout from the picnic table.
Reid's voice said "I got it! I figured it out!
The next morning
Garcia, Morgan and Reid were sitting in the Escalade in front of a small public library in northern Virginia not far the outskirts of DC. "Carnegie provided the funding for so many libraries across America," Reid was saying. "In fact he…"
"Shush Reid, here comes the librarian," Garcia hopped out of the back seat the other two scrambling to catch up with her.
"Doesn't look like a librarian," Morgan said under his breath.
Garcia gave him a scowl but let him do the talking.
Outside the library near the Ford truck, Emily and Guerin were having an argument.
"It's not safe to go back to your house, Guerin."
"I don't care. I've had enough running. They're going to find us no matter where we go so we might as well get it over with."
"So you're just going to give up?"
Guerin got in the passenger side of the truck as Carmo got in the back and Tergensen got behind the wheel.
"We're going home. Whatever happens we'll deal with it," Guerin slammed the door, leaned out the window and pointed off to the right. "If you feel the need to rescue us, we're only about five miles that way."
The Ford pulled away from the curb with a chirp of rubber.
As the young man unlocked the front door of the handsome stone library, Morgan introduced himself and Reid and Garcia and began to explain how they needed access to the card catalog as they believed there was a book in the special collection that was of great interest to them and the investigation they were conducting into the cause of the blackout and all the other events surrounding it.
"We only got the power back yesterday," the librarian said as he flipped on the lights and went behind the counter of the reference desk. As he booted up the PC and turned the screen toward Garcia a big orange cat leaped to the desktop and began to rub against his hand.
"This is our Dewey," the librarian explained rubbing the cat's jaw with his knuckle. When the significance was lost on his visitors he just smiled. "What's the Dewey Decimal number?"
Reid pushed the old index card toward him and he keyed it into the library's catalog search engine.
One entry was displayed.
"That's in the Edith Smalley collection. All the books in that collection were donated by her husband George. She grew up in this town," he continued to talk as he led them through the main library and into a room at the back. This room was like the library in a mansion from the late 18th century might be. A stone fireplace, leather chairs, oil lamps – probably imitation. "He was a famous computer programmer and designer in the 60s. I heard he went to work for the government during the Cold War."
It took a full ten minutes for the librarian to find the book in the small room. When he pulled it out of the stack he stared at it perplexed.
The Complete Book of the Abacus
"That doesn't seem right. This seems more like a children's book. Nothing in this collection is remotely like this."
Garcia moved as if to snatch the book from his hands. Reid intercepted her. "May I?"
The librarian handed the book over. As he did they heard a door open and a voice call out, "Melvin?"
"Let me know if you need anything else." With that the librarian left the room and they were alone; with the book.
Around the same time
The power was off in the house and the great room appeared empty. Guerin walked to the center of the room; stood still. She could feel them.
"Easy, Dev," Guerin cautioned holding her hands out from her sides.
Tergensen was gazing around anxiously her right hand on her holstered weapon. Catching movement to the right she turned just as Carmo lunged. The tall woman was struck down with a blow to the head as several people rushed them.
"Don't shoot!" Guerin held up her hands.
Around the same time
Garcia moved to grab the book again but Reid shielded it with his body.
"Guys, guys," Morgan scolded them laughing.
"An abacus is considered the first computer," Garcia explained as Reid flipped through the pages with his thumb. There were over a hundred pages in the book, some with illustrations. Reid looked closer as something odd about the pages caught his attention.
"It's the same two pages over and over," he flipped more slowly through the book as Garcia and Morgan looked over his shoulder.
"This has to be it then," Morgan reached for the book.
Reid still didn't let it go just turned it upside down and shook it. When nothing fell out he began going through the pages one by one.
"Give me that," this time Garcia managed to wrench it from Reid's grasp. Before he could protest, she bent the spine back sharply. The book actually gave an audible crack. Placing the book on the table in the room, Garcia flipped to the back. A seam had opened between the spine and the hard cardboard of back cover. She probed with her fingers under the paper and pulled out two translucent squares about four inches by four inches each.
"Oh my god I haven't seen these in forever," Garcia waggled one staring at the tiny writing visible as it caught the light.
"I don't suppose they have a microfiche reader?" Reid asked.
Back in the other room, the librarian smiled. "We do. A lot of our old newspapers are still on microfiche and some of the older people still like to use them." He pointed to a contraption in the corner.
Garcia hustled over and placed herself in the seat in front of the machine. She flipped the power switch and pulled out the slide inserting one of the microfiche between the two glass panels.
The three of them squinted at the illuminated monitor. They couldn't read it.
"Upside down," Reid made a gesture with his hand and Garcia pulled the microfiche out and flipped it. When she moved the light to the topmost left hand spot on the microfiche this time they were able to read.
"In Through the Back Door" it said followed by something only Garcia recognized.
"Oh, my god!" she literally bounced in her seat, "that's FORTRAN! I haven't seen that in like forever."
"I knew this would happen!" Emily guided the Range Rover past the gate house of the secure community where Guerin's house was located. No one came out to challenge them. JJ drew her Glock and checked the magazine her jaw tight.
The gate to Guerin's driveway was also open and in front of the house, beside the Ford truck, was a black Cadillac CTS.
"Damn," Emily swore.
"What does it say?" Morgan was impatient.
"It doesn't say anything!" Garcia scolded. "It's computer code! Old computer code!" She continued scanning through the lines on the microfiche talking as she did. "This part was FORTRAN at least. This," she paused, "this is COBOL. There's comments…" her brows furrowed in puzzlement.
With a flick of her wrist she pushed the light to the other side of the microfiche and down. "It's the same thing I think just in different languages. This looks like an early form of Unix. Let me see that other fiche."
For about five minutes Garcia played the light over the other microfiche. She was moving it so fast the other two could hardly follow.
Suddenly she sat back staring at the code on the screen. Reid and Morgan saw her face go pale.
"Oh ,my God!" Garcia lunged forward again pushing the slide so another block of information was illuminated. "It was in the firmware!" she moved the slide again, paused. "IBM mainframes!" again the slide moved, "Unix and Wintel servers," another flick, "HP Non-Stops! This is all early code but they propagated it into the new systems as they were developed! Propagated it from this same basic code from the late 50s! They…"
"They what, baby girl? What did they do?" Morgan asked very slowly, very calmly. He had never seen her so upset. Her hands were shaking and a line of sweat stood out on her forehead under her bangs.
"They couldn't have! No! They wouldn't have!" For a long moment Garcia paused, finally she turned to Morgan and Reid.
"They SHOULDN'T have!"
When Emily and JJ entered the house through the open front door, the first thing they saw was a tall, dark haired man standing with his back to them.
To one side Carmo lay still with her head in a pool of blood. Tergensen was next to her lying on her side, hands cuffed behind her back. Another man stood over her, handgun pointed at her head.
The tall man did not move at their approach but the eyes of the guard with the gun and another guard, a woman, off to the left followed them.
In front of the tall man another person knelt with a dark, cloth sack hiding their head. Emily recognized Guerin's clothes. Her hands were also cuffed behind her back.
"Hello, Emily," the tall man said as he turned. "It's been a very long time."
"Do you know him?" JJ asked.
Emily stared into the dark brown eyes that were just like her own.
"Hello, father. What are you doing here?"
I'll Stand By You – Pretenders
Chapter 7: I Would Die For You
Morgan was distracted.
He was watching Garcia closely, could see her mind working over the details. Several times she had opened her mouth as if to say something – to start to explain and each time she had stopped and resumed her concentrated speculation.
Now, behind them, several people were gathered around a television set that was blaring a news show. At least it seemed to be a news show since current events were being discussed, or rather, ranted about.
"I still say it was the same lot that caused 9-11! I just can't imagine how they got off their flying carpets long enough to do all that complex computer stuff. That or it was the Canadians! The 9-11 hijackers came to the US on flights from Canada, you know. And the blackout of 2003? That started in Canada…"
"That's not true," Morgan turned and started toward the TV but Garcia was already up from her seat and moving past him.
"Is that Ann Coulter?" she moved to where she could see the TV.
Both Morgan and Reid were staring at Garcia who was riveted to the TV and the scene from the FOX News anchor desk.
"You don't like her, do you?" Morgan asked gently dreading the answer.
"Oh, dear, yes!" Garcia exclaimed. "I love watching her!"
Morgan was flabbergasted until Garcia continued.
"In the same way I love watching a car wreck, you know. The shattering glass, screeching tires, bending metal, flying body parts…"
Morgan laughed giving her a quick hug. His next question he directed at the library patrons who were gathered around the TV. "Why don't you put on some other news, like CNN or MSNBC?"
"This is all that's on," a man explained without looking at Morgan. "Nothing else is back on yet."
Morgan exchanged a long look with Reid who raised his brows in a 'how strange is that?' gesture.
Same time at Guerin's House
The tall, dark haired man, who had just admitted to being Emily's father, did not have time to say anything else before JJ took three long steps forward and punched him as hard as she could in the jaw.
He wasn't knocked down, he was too big for that, but the blow both surprised and shook him. When JJ made to hit him again he pulled his head back and held up a protective hand. The guard who was standing to the right moved in raising her weapon.
"JJ," Emily caught one arm around the blonde's waist and pulled her back.
"Your father?" JJ began shaking her right hand rapidly. The blow had obviously hurt her nearly as much as it had Emily's father. "That father? The father that…" she struggled in Emily's grasp. "The not-so-nice father?"
When JJ almost broke free, the female guard moved even closer. Emily's father, the elder Prentiss, waved her back. He smiled.
"Is this your newest lover, Emily?" he rubbed his jaw. "Seems to me you two work together. Or you used to."
"Is that a threat?" JJ scowled at him shaking off Emily's grip. "What do you have to do with this?" JJ let her eyes travel around looking pointedly at Guerin and Tergensen who were handcuffed, and Carmo who was obviously injured. "That woman requires medical assistance!"
Prentiss lost his patience. "That woman," he raised his voice, "would be dead now, all three of them would, if you hadn't walked in here and complicated things. Now drop your weapons!" He spoke with such a commanding tone that JJ had no doubt he was hardly ever disobeyed.
Tergensen gave a little squeak and tried to move closer to Guerin. The guard next to her gave her a sharp kick.
JJ's temper flared again. "You bastard! She's handcuffed and on the floor!" she made to move toward Tergensen but the female guard was instantly in front of her, weapon pointed at her nose. With her other hand the guard reached for, and took, JJ's Glock. After that she slowly disarmed Emily.
JJ glanced at Emily beside her. Emily was standing very still, very calm, her eyes moving from Guerin to her father. Prentiss noticed. "I'm still amazed at how you got yourself mixed up with her," he glanced at the hooded Guerin.
"Yes," Emily replied. "What's more interesting is how you did." JJ was gazing at her so she explained. "My father works for the NSA, JJ, deep level, secret stuff, all national security hush, hush stuff. At least I think he does because he's never actually told me."
Prentiss took a couple steps back and put his hand on the top of Guerin's head. "She can't hurt you if she can't make eye contact with you, hence the hood."
"How do you know that?" Emily was surprised. Until he said it, she hadn't realized herself that Guerin's ability to read people was dependant on eye contact.
"We met a long time ago," he patted Guerin's head, "Captain Garrison and I, in Arizona. She probably doesn't remember. "
"Oh, I do," Guerin's voice was light. "You're the one thread that's run through this whole story. Emily's abusive father, the man that saved then enslaved me and gives me my orders. The man I only glimpsed once in the hospital. I thought you were sort of familiar." She shifted slightly. "And what? What do you have to do with what's happened?"
Emily was watching her father, noticed how he bristled when Guerin called him 'abusive'.
He recovered quickly. "Not that much. As you know, I'm your handler; and the one that provides you with all the toys you want," his eyes ranged around the room, "and sometimes even the women you crave." He said the last with a sneer. "Other than that, I'm just a low level player in a big game run by some of the biggest men in America. I don't make the decisions; I just do what needs to be done."
Emily almost said something about him being a pawn in their big game, decided against it letting it slide for now. "The Watch That Ends the Night?" she asked instead. "They are who's behind this?"
Prentiss actually smiled. "So you were able to figure some of it out."
Emily could see how his mind was working, calculating.
"Whatever you know," he began, "whatever you have can never be proven, you must know that." Prentiss walked around behind the kneeling Guerin, gripped the top of her hood and pulled her head back. "Now give me what you have and don't lie to me. I have the best lie detector right here," he jerked Guerin's head.
Emily stared at him wondering if part of Guerin's haste to get back to her house wasn't a calculated ploy to not just force a confrontation with the man that was dogging their steps, but also to serve as a distraction for Garcia, Morgan and Reid to get to the real evidence.
"Here," she pulled the photograph from her pocket, unfolded it and tossed it towards him. It landed face up near enough for him to see it. See it and smile again.
"A group of men in a fishing lodge. That proves nothing and you know it." Prentiss very carefully pulled up Guerin's hood until her eyes were exposed. Holding her head with one hand in the hair at the back of her neck and the other gripping her throat tightly he stayed close behind her. The two guards moved so they were not in Guerin's direct line of sight. "Is she lying?"
"No," Guerin answered without hesitation. "That's all she has."
For a moment Emily thought he might let it go. She was proven wrong when her father nodded to the guard next to Tergensen. The red haired woman was yanked to her feet, the guard's pistol pressed harshly under her chin.
"Is that the truth?" This question was directed at Guerin the threat to Tergensen obvious.
"Yes, it's the truth."
No one moved or spoke for a full minute. The tension was broken by JJ.
"You bastard," she took another lunge at the tall man. Again Emily caught her.
Tergensen struggled in the grip holding her. "I'd die for you, Guerin. You know that."
Prentiss laughed and shook his head.
"Enough romantic sentiments," he nodded to the guard who released his grip on Tergensen and shoved her hard to the floor near Guerin. Prentiss pulled the hood back down over Guerin's eyes and retrieved the photograph from the floor.
"They had vision you know, this group," he studied the photograph for a moment before refolding it and slipping it in his pocket. "They were the core, the beginning." No one said anything, just let him talk. "It all came out of the paranoia of the Cold War. They wanted a safeguard, some way of regaining control if an enemy was able to take over our defense computer systems." He shrugged, seemed to think it over. "Eventually it became something more, a sort of doomsday key that could be activated when the time was right. When society had gone too far beyond the core values this country was founded on. Sometimes you have to break it all down so you can build it back up and make it better – make it right."
Emily opened her mouth to respond, was beaten to it by JJ.
"So you blew up Mexico City? What part of that was core values?"
Prentiss scowled. "That wasn't part of the plan. That was a mistake by a small part of the group that was too distracted by the illegal immigrant problem. JF Bennett attempted to smuggle in two bombs for them. One was intercepted and they had the audacity to use the other one, the one that made it through, what can I say," he shrugged. "I don't make the decisions."
JJ didn't let up. "Who's dictating your orders? A bunch of old men whose idea of 'core values' is making as much money as possible while other people starve?"
"You don't know a damn thing!" Prentiss' eyes flashed with anger.
"So blow me, bitch!" JJ spat at him.
On the floor, Guerin laughed heartily. Emily leaned close to JJ and said next to her ear, yet loud enough for her father to hear, "I love you, Jennifer." She kissed her cheek.
The scowl on the face of the older Prentiss deepened. Emily saw it.
"I can't imagine there's any place in their world for people like us," Emily drew out the last three words putting a derisive spin on them.
"I tried with you, Emily. I really did but you were always so focused on being a little boy. You never wanted to be a little girl."
"Tonka trucks will do that to you," Emily's tone was light. Guerin laughed again and Emily could feel JJ smiling.
"You mother knew you were gay when you dumped that boy in Rome and never looked back," Prentiss smirked at his daughter.
"Talk about not knowing a thing!" Emily worked hard to keep her tone light but an edge had crept in. "I dumped that boy because he made me pregnant. And I was fifteen fucking years old! That was my experiment with being straight; with trying to fit in, and with trying to please you!"
She stepped in front of JJ feeling her lover's hands on her back as she faced her father directly.
"All I ever wanted was for you to love me and care about me and all you did was put me down every chance you got. It didn't matter what I did, I know that now 'cause nothing I could ever do could possibly please you, nothing I…"
"Do you remember the night the moon got in our way?"
His voice was soft when he interrupted his daughter, soft and gentle and JJ felt the woman she loved more than anything begin to crumple in on herself.
Emily tried to say something but no words would come. She was remembering that time they were driving together, just the two of them, somewhere in Maine or Eastern Canada. They had been happy together, at least she recalled being happy because for once he wasn't drunk. They had topped a rise in the road and the full moon hung there, right there, right in their way. They had looked at each other and smiled with such delight that Emily…
"I remember, Dad. I remember thinking that for once you loved me; loved me despite everything you did to me. That you loved me like I wanted you to love me; loved me despite the fact that I couldn't be who you wanted me to be."
Prentiss stared into his daughter's tear filled eyes and said the thing that was hanging between them.
"The son that I always wanted."
JJ felt Emily drop to the floor as her knees gave out under her and a soft sob escape her. She let her go as the rage was building in her again and blinding her to anything but the pain she knew Emily was feeling.
"You fucking bastard!" JJ lunged at him.
Around the same time
Garcia was in the biography section and she was in a hurry. Nearby, Reid stood fidgeting; as impatient as she had ever seen him. Morgan was out of sight, somewhere near the television that was still talking to itself in the background.
…so if you were asked, asked by what will probably come to be a new coalition government, to step up and take on the role of Vice President, would you?
…you betcha I would! And I'd do the great job the American people expect of me.
Garcia spotted a book; in fact there were three copies on the shelf. Perfect, she thought to herself. She slid the middle book from the shelf and opened it. It felt as if it had never been read before. Carefully she slipped the two microfiche cards between the pages of the book and went to place it back on the shelf and hesitated. Taking an extra precaution she took a step to her right, to the next tall stack and reached up dropping the book in behind a set of Time Life books on the Vietnam War.
Going back to the other copies of the biography, she withdrew another and placed the other two microfiche she was holding into the book. Passing Reid she went to the main desk of the library and pushed the book toward the librarian.
"I'd like to check out this book, please."
"Do you have a library card?"
"You betcha!" Garcia pulled out her FBI ID and set the folder on the cover of Going Rogue: An American Life.
Around the same time
JJ hit him in the midsection her shoulder down like a linebacker. She did not knock him off his feet until, driving him backward and off balance, his feet tangled in a throw rug. Emily watched stunned for a heartbeat until the female guard began to move toward where JJ sprawled atop her father. With both hands she reached out and caught the woman's leg one hand reaching up to grab at the waist of her pants.
A few feet away, Guerin used the distraction to roll to her left toward Tergensen. When she let her head touch Tergensen's hands, Tergensen grasped the hood and held tight as Guerin jerked away. Once the hood was pulled off, Guerin fixed her eyes on the male guard.
"Unlock her handcuffs now!"
Guerin's voice was unnaturally deep and commanding. The guard gulped, dropped his weapon and began reaching into his pocket.
"No, don't! Don't look at her!" Prentiss struggled as JJ clawed and grappled with him.
It was far too late for that. With a vacant expression on his face the guard unlocked Tergensen's handcuffs. The red head then snatched the keys from him and unlocked Guerin's. With a flick of her wrist, Guerin sent the cuffs clattering across the floor. Her eyes dark and vicious she advanced on the guard.
"Down," she gestured at him with her right hand her voice the same commanding tone. The man dropped to his knees. Standing in front of him, Guerin cupped his cheek with her left hand her eyes never leaving his. Tergensen snatched up the dropped handgun and stood waiting her eyes huge with excitement.
Finally, Guerin gave the man a little push and he flopped to his side and lay there unmoving. Guerin huffed out a breath and turned toward the other people in the room.
Emily felt the change in the woman she was fighting with; felt her stop struggling and go rigid as her eyes found something over Emily's shoulder. She also felt the woman's fear and was not surprised when the woman tried to hide her face behind her shoulder.
"Off," as the word was spoken Emily felt a strong hand grip the back of her neck. The pressure was uncomfortable enough for her to be distracted and a moment later she was pushed to the side. Emily watched as Guerin stared down at the guard her face contorted with anger and contempt.
"Take you friend and go."
The woman made no move to resist, just went to the male guard, helped him to his feet, and the two walked slowly toward the front door not looking back.
Guerin then turned toward JJ and Prentiss.
"Touch her and die," Emily's voice was almost as authoritative as Guerin's.
Guerin looked around in surprise at the same time as Tergensen turned her weapon from the older Prentiss to the younger.
Emily stood stock still her own Glock trained on Guerin's head. In the front of her pants was the female guard's weapon and with her foot she pushed JJ's Glock across the floor. Grabbing up her weapon, JJ stood and went to Emily's side. Prentiss sat still on the floor his eyes tightly shut.
"It seems we have a standoff, Guerin," Emily said looking from the unarmed Guerin to Tergensen just behind her shoulder.
Guerin cocked her head more amused than angry.
Guerin's eyes went from Emily to JJ and immediately Emily took a step in front of JJ. "You even think of doing anything to her and I will kill you in so many ways…" Emily let her voice trail off her point made. Guerin then looked at the man on the floor.
"You're not touching him either."
"After all he's done to you and to me you would deny me my revenge?" Guerin's voice was deadly calm.
"Revenge, Guerin, again?"
Guerin's head jerked around at that and she took a step toward the older Prentiss. Again Emily moved to block Guerin with JJ close at her back.
Guerin said nothing just stared at Emily.
"Don't let that animal near me, Emily," Prentiss said from the floor his eyes still closed.
"If I'm an animal you made me that way," Guerin spit.
"I'm still your father, Emily."
"And what did you make her into?" Guerin directed this comment to Prentiss. "You sick fuck!"
"I don't know what you're complaining about, Garrison," his tone when he said this was almost conversational. "We gave you everything you ever asked for. What else did you want?"
If Guerin was angry before it was no comparison to the rage that flooded her face now.
"My life, you dumb shit!"
Once again she made a move forward and once again it was blocked by Emily.
"Stand down, Guerin! He will get the justice he deserves," Emily adjusted her grip on her pistol. "Now stop this."
Guerin locked eyes with Emily and when she lunged forward this time it was at not at Emily's father but at Emily herself.
Emily's finger depressed the trigger as Guerin tackled her.
A large black SUV was coming out of the gate as Morgan turned in. They came close to colliding. Morgan only spared a glance in the rearview mirror as he guided the Escalade to the front of the house.
Without a word, he and Garcia and Reid headed through the open front door.
There was a crack of a pistol shot and the sound of shattering glass as the stray round hit a bottle behind the bar.
Guerin was shorter than Emily but stronger. She drove the dark haired woman to the floor hands around her throat. Unable to block her, Emily reached out in another way.
They stood facing each other in the swirling mist of the grey plain. Guerin was dressed in her somewhat tarnished, golden armour, sword in her hand. A few feet away Emily faced her. She was dressed all in black from her black T-shirt, torn black jeans, heavy black boots to her long black raincoat. Her eyes were rimmed in thick, dark makeup.
"You don't belong here, Prentiss. This is where I walk."
"The place between life and death, is it, Guerin?" Emily's voice held contempt.
"You wouldn't understand," Guerin raised the broad sword she held, glanced at the dried blood on its blade, then cast it aside. "We're alone here, just me and you…"
Emily didn't let her finish. "Are we?" she asked as beside her the mist shimmered and JJ appeared. The blond woman looked young, tanned and healthy in cutoff jean shorts and T-shirt her bare knees grass stained as if she had just been playing soccer. On her feet were a well-worn pair of cleats.
Guerin just smiled glancing over her left shoulder where Tergensen now stood dressed in the fatigues of a first year army cadet. "Back to this are we?" Guerin made clear by her tone she was not impressed. "A standoff? Me and mine against you and yours?"
"Umm, not quite," a much younger looking Reid wearing big glasses and clutching a book cleared his throat as he moved toward them out of the mist. For a moment he stood between the four women before turning toward Guerin.
The smile on Guerin's face was wiped away the instant Reid spoke.
"I'm sorry Guerin," he stepped back toward Emily. "She's been my colleague and my friend and I know she would be there for me no matter what. I can't stand with you in this."
"Anyone else?" Guerin asked and the thought 'want to betray me?' hung in the air.
Someone else was just visible in the mist off to the side. Mani Grayson, dressed in hospital scrubs and a white lab coat, locked eyes with Guerin for just a moment before turning away. She said nothing just faded from sight.
"So…" Guerin did not finish the thought, she didn't seem to have the energy.
"So, there's me," the voice was small but confident.
"Hey, girl," Emily smiled as Odalis came forward and stopped between her and Guerin.
"Hola, Emily. What have you got yourself into now?"
Odalis looked no different than when Emily had first seen her. Same shorts, T-shirt, boots and sunglasses pushed up on her head. Not waiting for an answer, Odalis turned to Guerin.
"Always getting back at people, aren't you, G? You can never let anything go, never let it be, you always have to fight. Why don't you accept that in the end where it mattered most Claire loved you?" For a moment there was that same vision shared between them: Claire walking away saying a casual "I love you, G. I always will," back at Guerin.
Guerin just looked away unable to meet the truth of Odalis' words.
"I know that you're hurt, Guerin. Hurt so deep you think you can never heal, never move on. "
"I should have died, Odalis." Guerin's voice was soft when she said this as if all the anger was quickly seeping out of her at Odalis' statement.
"But you didn't and you think that's a curse. It's not. Why will you never see that?"
"Because I should have saved her; should have died for her."
"Sometimes the hardest thing is to be the one who survives, Guerin," Emily's voice was gentle. "Many nights I wanted to give up and kill myself to end all my pain and get that ultimate revenge on my parents. How horrified they would have been that their daughter, their not-so-perfect daughter, had killed herself. I didn't though and after I almost killed that girl – that girl that I thought I loved – I decided the one thing I could do was try to make myself the best person I could be because even if they didn't believe in me, I believed in me."
Guerin made no reply just let out a long breath and looked at no one.
"I don't claim to have been through what you have; to have suffered as you have. I can't imagine what it would be like, how I would react. All I know is that when I was ready to live again I would hope there would be someone there to help me put myself back together. I also that I would have the courage to ask for help – to reach out to someone for that help - and I would know her when I saw her." Emily reached out a hand to JJ beside her though her eyes were on the woman who stood at Guerin's shoulder.
Garcia rushed to Carmo who still lay unconscious on the floor as Morgan stared in confusion at the one person in the room that was moving. He didn't have time to react as the tall, dark haired man swung a hasty, yet heavy fist and connected solidly with the side of Guerin's head. When Guerin collapsed to the floor, JJ, Emily, Reid and Tergensen became reanimated as if a switch had been flipped.
Tergensen jumped toward Guerin but stopped when she saw the small pistol Prentiss had pulled from an ankle holster and now pressed to Guerin's head. Dazed, Guerin did not react.
"Put them down, all of you, or she dies."
Tergensen was the first to lower her weapon; Emily and JJ did so reluctantly and Morgan had not drawn his, he simply stood watching.
"You are out gunned, you have to know that," Emily said to her father her Glock held low in both hands and pointed at the floor.
Prentiss said nothing just reached into his pocket with his free hand and withdrew a small phone. He worked a couple keys with his thumb then depressed a button on the side of the slim phone. Holding it out in front of him he spoke. "It's me. Are you there?"
The phone made a chirping sound and a voice answered, "Roger, standing by."
"Cell phones are working now?" Confused Morgan pulled his from his belt and checked the display. It was still blank.
"It's not a cell phone, it's an iDEN phone, a 'Push-to-Talk' phone, they're on a completely different circuit," Garcia explained with a tinge of admiration in her voice.
Prentiss looked at her sharply before turning his attention to Emily.
"I have someone on standby. Someone with the ability to put a missile into this house with pinpoint precision; all I have to do is give the word." Prentiss attempted to pull Guerin up, but she was still too out of it to get her feet under her. "Put your gun down and take her," he directed this at Tergensen.
When Tergensen placed her weapon on the floor, Prentiss roughly shoved the semiconscious woman into her arms.
"These two are coming with me and we are walking away. She belongs to us," her gestured vaguely at Guerin, "and she is, or was, CIA." The last part was directed at Tergensen. "We leave and the rest of you live."
"I won't allow that," Emily's voice was icy calm. "You are taking them to their deaths and I won't let that happen."
Beside her JJ said nothing just raised her chin with a defiant look. Across the room, Morgan and Reid stood still in similar defiance.
"Then we all die…" Prentiss raised the little phone.
"It was brilliant, you know, how they used the atomic clock in Boulder."
Garcia's words froze his hand before he could depress the talk button.
"What do you know? You're a technical analyst. You do database searches, "although he tried to speak with confidence there was a shadow of doubt behind his words.
Standing up, Garcia clutched the book to her chest and feigned ignorance.
"I'm sure I could figure it all out, all the details on how it was done, little old me the data analyst, given time and lots of help."
"What do you have?" Prentiss said his voice as hard as iron.
Garcia said nothing just took a couple of steps and tossed the book to Emily. Emily fanned the pages finding one of the microfiche. She held it up to the light trying to read the miniscule print.
"That's George Smalley's back door. Even though I know what it is, I can't read it. Most of it's in FORTRAN and that's an antiquated…"
Emily was watching Garcia closely. She knew that the words were not true, knew there was nothing about computers that Garcia did not know. The tiny wink Garcia aimed at her only reinforced this.
"We always suspected Smalley had done something to betray us, but we couldn't prove anything at least not until you found this. And now you can't prove anything either," Prentiss was saying, "not without the hard evidence. All you have is speculation."
"The book for them," Emily held it out to her father, smiled when she saw the cover. "You let Guerin and Devin go, give Guerin her life back, you walk away with all the secrets intact and we walk away with only hearsay."
"Taking the high road are you?" Prentiss gestured with his pistol and Tergensen dragged Guerin closer to JJ. JJ stepped between them and Emily's father.
When Emily tossed him the book, he leafed through it noting the second microfiche between the pages.
"No one would have believed you anyway, even if you had this," Prentiss directed a condescending smile at Garcia. "An FBI analyst taking on some of the most powerful men in America? Not likely."
Emily could tell Garcia was working very hard to restrain herself and knew the others felt the same.
"I will keep my end of the bargain," Prentiss started for the door. "Unless of course you make a nuisance of yourself," he looked directly at Guerin and Tergensen when he said this.
Tergensen just glared at him following him with her eyes as he made his way across the room. In the foyer he stopped. "I want you out of this house too," he cast over his shoulder, "you have an hour to take what's important to you and disappear. If you are still here after that, Tergensen, I'll kill you two myself."
"Ah, one other thing," Garcia's voice surprised everyone. "Do you think you could return the book? I was looking forward to reading it. And, oh, maybe you could get it autographed for me? That would be totally sweet." Garcia gave him one of her best smiles. Prentiss just turned on his heel and was gone.
Tergensen lowered Guerin to the floor, sat holding her. She looked up her eyes meeting Emily's. "Thank you," she said softly.
Emily nodded, held the other woman's gaze for a moment before turning to Garcia.
"Was that really what you said it was?"
Garcia grinned. "It sure was," when the others stared at her open mouthed she continued. "Don't worry. Those were the originals. If I gave him fakes or even copies there would be nothing to stop them from coming after us and, I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired of being chased around. When Reid said you guys were in danger, I made a quick decision and hid the copies I made. I figured the originals would make a really good bargaining chip."
"Garcia, baby girl, how did you get to be so brilliant?" Morgan gathered her in a hug.
"When you work with brilliance, sometimes it rubs off on you," she smiled again hugging Morgan in return.
"Good thing he underestimated you," JJ gave Garcia a quick kiss and then knelt next to Carmo who was slowly regaining consciousness. Garcia and JJ helped Carmo sit up. "We'll take her to Doctor Grayson?" JJ looked at Tergensen who nodded.
"He didn't just underestimate me, JJ, he underestimated me and all my network of friends. This will get out, bit by bit. That's what the old man would've wanted, what he was thinking when put all the evidence on those microfiche cards and hid them in the library."
"I think he underestimated someone else," JJ looked at Emily an indulgent smile on her face.
"So who was that guy anyway? Besides an asshole," Garcia looked at JJ but it was Emily that answered.
"That, unfortunately, was my asshole father."
"Oh, wow," Garcia looked at Emily a serious expression on her face. "I bet Christmas dinner at the Prentiss' is going to be ball of laughs this year!"
Emily just laughed. "I don't care, I won't be there. I'll be celebrating with someone I really care about." When her eyes met JJ's, she smiled.
I Would Die For You – Jann Arden
Part 5: Vanilla Twilight
4 months later
Epilogue 1: Rain Down on Me
Kilcoursie Bay, Parry Sound, on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Canada
Tergensen stood just under the canopy at the top of the steps that led down to the cabin. Looking out over the stern of the boat she was watching Guerin.
Guerin sat on the flat platform at the very back of the 43 foot Beneteau sailboat her face angled up to the falling rain. Although her eyes were squeezed shut she seemed to be smiling. Thunder rumbled off to the northwest and the rain fell even harder. All around the boat the waters of the bay were pockmarked by the tiny yet forceful splashes of raindrops. Music was playing and as Tergensen watched, Guerin sang along to a very fitting song: Rain on me, oh rain down on me, oh, rain down on me...yeah... I used to think I knew what I was waiting for, I don't think that anymore... She did nothing to break the mood, just continued to watch the woman in front of her as the music washed like rain over them both.
Guerin was shirtless, the rain soaking her hair and streaming down her bare back. She seemed utterly content soaked by the rain, lost in the music. Tergensen sighed. She wanted nothing more than to go Guerin, sit behind her, wrap her arms and legs around her and kiss her neck and back tasting the coolness of the rain and the flavour of her skin.
But Guerin had been so distant; her moods, like her mind, unreadable since she had popped back into Tergensen's life a scant ten days ago.
I was moving forward to get the bow line when I noticed the person standing on the dock. When my mind told me it was Guerin, another part – the logical part – of my brain disagreed. When we had parted, just after the events of February four months ago, I had truly thought I would never see her again.
She had disappeared and I had not tried to find her. I had not returned to the government, there was no place for me there, instead I came back here to my aunt and uncle's marina in Long Beach California. It had been here I felt so comfortable, so at ease all through my teenage and college years when I wasn't spending obligatory time with my parents in Washington. That my aunt and uncle were my more loved set of parents was news to no one in our family.
When the boat brushed the dock I jumped down and slowly approached her. She stood still, her hands in the pockets of her shorts, her face a mixture of what I hoped was happiness to see me and a deep sorrow that I hoped very much to ease.
I put my arms around her, pulled her close to me. If she felt me trembling she made no indication. After a moment, I felt her return my embrace her cheek pressing into my shoulder as she sighed deeply.
"I have no right to ask this of you," her voice was the softest whisper, "I need you to help me do something that needs to be done."
'Anything', I told her and meant it.
Later that night we sat on the tiny deck of my room over the marina office. We were idly watching the sailboats and power cruisers returning to their berths and people walking along the dock on their way to and from the restaurant and bar. I had my iPod plugged into my stereo and a mix of mellow 70's music I hoped would please Guerin was playing.
I talked softly telling Guerin how Mani had let me know that Mich's daughter had come to see her and take Mich's body back to Europe. Mani had also found a place for Carmo at a clinic in France that could deal with her mixed abilities and improve on the progress that she had made. When I said Mich's name, Guerin looked away trying to hide the pain that seared her features and stabbed at her heart in the same way it did mine. To cover, she asked about the cat. I told her Hermione was happy with Mani and even showed her several digital pictures of Mani and the cat Mani had sent me.
I wasn't ready to let the topic of Mich drop: 'I loved Mich very much,' I told her. 'I realize now that I wanted more than anything what you had with her: someone that could give me love and acceptance unconditionally.' Guerin had looked at me sharply when I said that and I held her eyes for a moment.
'It's never been easy for me to be gay,' I had started to tell her continuing when she rolled her eyes at me. 'Yeah, I know, I'm as queer as a girl can be, it's just that I always thought I'd have a normal, conventional life.' Again Guerin gave me a look. 'Yeah, I know, I'm about as far from that as I could be,' I had smiled at her. 'I think that thing with Emily's father made me understand that I'm not living my life for my parents and their expectations, I'm living it for me and the life that I want and the woman I want to love.'
I had snuck that last part in and watched her closely for a reaction. She had sighed deeply and did not meet my eye. For a long time we were silent as the air cooled with a breeze off the water.
I wanted so much to take her back inside, into my bedroom, and make love to her to ease the inexplicable pain I could feel she was going through. My hands would soothe her tension and my mouth would draw from her the pleasure I felt she deserved. Once I half rose from my chair to go to her, but the empty look on her face was not encouraging.
Guerin was on her third drink of rum when she turned to me and said: "Someday I want to make love to you and show you so much more than I ever have before. I want to, I want to… I just don't know if I can be everything that you need me to be and that you deserve to have."
At that she put down her glass and went inside. Later, when I went to bed, she was on her side in my bed. I moved close behind her, held her, loosely yet comfortably, all through the night. This would come to be our pattern over the next nights we were together.
We flew to Montreal the next day, rented a nice SUV and began the long drive north. Guerin had programmed the GPS and I was not surprised when, late in the day, the female voice guided us to a cemetery outside Rimouski.
I sat in the car, my hands rigid on the steering wheel, looking away from Guerin and out over the St. Lawrence River. The clouds coming in from the west were heavy with rain and thunder already boomed in the distance as she got out. I turned to watch her go up over the hill past the pretty white church.
I sat there waiting, hoping that coming here would be the one thing she needed to give herself closure. Although I wanted more than anything for Guerin to feel the same love for me that I knew she had felt for Claire, I knew that Claire and her tragic death would always be a part of Guerin just like her scars were a part of her. The damage that had been done to her, and she had done to herself in her lust for revenge, could never be undone. Somehow, someway, I hoped so much that I could help her accept it.
It was beginning to rain when she returned some time later. She slipped into the passenger seat, half closed the door. Her mind had been closed to me since her return, but I did not need that special connection to know she was falling apart.
I sat there for a long few minutes as I watched her shoulders begin to tremble and her eyes become heavy with tears. She held her hands between her knees as her breath became ragged, the quivering moving into an all over shaking.
I didn't know what to do, and as I sat there, I could feel my heart breaking. Finally I disconnected the logical part of my mind and let my body react. Going around to her side of the car, I opened the door and gathered her in my arms.
"Let go, Guerin," I told her. "Let go. I'll catch you. I won't let you fall."
For the next few minutes she sobbed like I had never heard anyone cry. I did the only thing I could do, just held her and told her I would be there for her. The rain drummed hard on the roof and I had to wiggle half onto the seat with her so I would not get soaked. Not that it mattered; the front of my shirt was so wet with her tears it might as well have been because of rain.
Eventually her sobs slowed and her breathing began to return to normal. When she let go of me she would not meet my eyes, just turned and crawled into the back seat. I went around to the back and helped her get comfortable slipping a shirt under her head and tossing a jacket over her body.
When she was settled, I returned to the driver's seat and turned the SUV south back toward Montreal. I did not drive far, just as far as Riviere de Loup where I found a comfortable and quiet motel. Once in the room, Guerin went from the bathroom to the bed shedding clothes as she went. She would not eat anything just asked me for some pain killers. I held her again that night.
Two days later when we picked up the boat I had arranged for, Guerin was still a shadow of her former self. She had slept a lot and eaten little. It wasn't until we were headed south through the Thousand Islands and out into Lake Ontario that she seemed to begin to recover.
She took to sailing like it was a natural thing; moving about the boat and doing everything I taught her like she had been doing it all her life. Still, she talked very little and many times I caught her staring out across the water her mind obviously a million miles away.
We stopped in Kingston and Toronto, went through the Welland Canal and into Lake Erie, around Long Point and Point Pelee, through the St. Clair River and into Lake Huron. Up along the Canadian side of Lake Huron we stopped in Goderich and then at Tobermory at the top of the Bruce Peninsula. Eventually we made it to this sheltered bay that was ringed by the soft sand beaches of an Ontario Provincial Park.
We had been here since yesterday.
A soft giggle brought Tergensen back to the present. Guerin was looking up at the sky again as a bright beam of sunshine burst through the fracturing storm clouds.
Putting her logical mind aside, Tergensen left the shelter of the canopy and moved to Guerin. A light rain still pattered the boat here and there as she slipped in behind Guerin sitting just a little above her and enveloping the other woman with her arms and legs.
"A sun shower," Guerin said as she leaned back into the warm body behind her. She covered Tergensen's hands with her own as they moved up and down her thighs. Taking Tergensen's right hand, she pressed it to the center of her chest as Tergensen began laying gentle kisses along her neck and shoulder. With a contented sigh, Guerin relaxed deeply into the woman behind her. With her free hand, Tergensen combed her fingers through Guerin's wet hair. Gently she kissed the skin at the nape of Guerin's neck tasting the cool rain mixed with a tiny bit of salty sweat and the vanilla massage oil she had rubbed into her tired muscles the night before.
Some time passed, thunder still rumbling away to the north. Tergensen was thinking about rain and how it always aroused her. She wanted to tell Guerin how she loved to make love in the rain; how the sound of thunder and the patter and drum of rain on the roof filled her with excitement, when Guerin turned slowly in her arms. Their eyes met for only the barest moment then Guerin was kissing her, deeply, sensually, as if nothing in this world mattered.
Tergensen returned the kiss feeling a tingle run through her body from her bare toes to the top of her head. There had always been something so hungry, so primal about the way Guerin kissed, but this was all that and more. This kiss, as Guerin's tongue traced her upper then lower lip, probed gently into her mouth, was so much more. It was infused with a longing and a surrender, so much so it was confusing in its intensity.
Her throat tight, Tergensen broke off holding the other woman snug to her chest, her chin on the top of Guerin's head.
"Tell me what you feel, G," she said eventually.
For a long time Guerin just breathed. When she spoke it was soft and it was honest.
"I feel safe, I feel warm, I feel protected and I feel like nothing matters now and nothing ever will matter. How did we get here, Devin?"
Tergensen didn't say anything, she couldn't, her throat was so tight. In answer she ran her hand up and down Guerin's back, through her hair as she held her. A slow, mournful song was playing now and Tergensen hummed to the melody watching the sun rays move across the water and a rainbow appearing and disappearing among the low clouds.
"You're my dark angel, G, and I love you with everything I have," when her voice broke on the last phrase she still pushed on. "I wish I could be what you need me to be."
Guerin breathed out against her chest, the arm across Tergensen's back pulling tighter.
"I've never been good to you, Dev, I know that."
The thought seemed to go unfinished.
"It doesn't matter, Guerin. If you are thinking about sex," Tergensen paused to kiss Guerin on her forehead. "I know who I am and I pity those who don't want a strong woman to just take control and give them everything they need and crave." She could feel Guerin smiling against her. "It's just not all that I am, and I think you know that."
"I do," Guerin said softly after a time. "I think you are more than anyone ever thought you were; certainly more than I ever thought you were or could be."
"I just can't be Claire, G, and I don't want to be."
"I know, I would never ask you to be. Claire is gone now."
At that Tergensen knew that Guerin had turned a corner in her life. Though they may talk about Claire and Guerin would still remember the good things, the past was behind her now.
After a time: "Will you play for me, Guerin?"
Guerin looked up, a smile teasing at the corners of her mouth.
"I saw my guitar," this time she actually grinned. "How did you get it here?"
The guitar, and the pictures on the wall of the office of the big house outside Washington, were some of the few things they had taken when they left. The morning after those long dark days when Tergensen had woken to find herself alone, she realized Guerin had left them behind with her. When the details with the boat had been finalized, Tergensen had the guitar and a digital frame she had the pictures in now shipped to Toronto where, without drawing too much attention to the fact, she picked them up.
"I have my ways," Tergensen caressed Guerin and kissed the top of her head.
For a long time Guerin sat still and a tiny bit of doubt crept into Tergensen's logical mind. Finally Guerin stirred, getting up and going below. When she returned, Tergensen was sitting on one of the side benches looking expectant.
Standing just under the canopy, Guerin ran her hand down the shiny new strings of the Larrivee. Throwing the strap over her bare back, she checked the tuning with a practiced ear. For a moment she stood still looking out over Tergensen's head at the beach at the end of the bay. Several songs occurred to her: the Blue Rodeo songs that were playing before she turned the stereo off, Make and Break Harbour by Stan Rogers, the Lennie Gallant song she had played for Claire that time. An ironic smile passed her lips when she thought of that song.
Eventually it was like the song picked itself as the chords came naturally and she played and sang as if she had never stopped playing.
Hey tomorrow, where are you goin'? Do you have some room for me? 'Cause night is fallin' and the dawn is callin' I'll have a new day if she'll have me…
When the song was finished Tergensen stood in front of Guerin. Slowly she unfastened the strap and took the guitar with one hand. With her other hand she traced her knuckles under Guerin's chin as she kissed her.
It was raining again, the thunder getting closer.
"Come inside, G, and I will make love to you and show you so much more than I ever have before."
Epilogue 2: Hold Me Now
Near Bonita Beach, Florida, USA
JJ stood just inside the door of the bathroom watching Emily. Her arms over the back of the big tub, her feet just sticking out at the far end through the thick bubbles, Emily appeared relaxed and content. Candles arranged around the tub cast a muted light and Emily's head moved to the music that was playing, As JJ watched, she turned slightly and her lips moved as she sang with the song.
She is strong enough to stand in my love, I can hear her say, I'm weak, I'm poor, I'm broken, oh, but I'm yours, hold me now, hold me now…
All JJ could think of was slipping out of her clothes and hopping into the tub with Emily. Or jumping maybe, just a little flip of her legs over the side and a moderate splash and she would be there, right there in front of Emily who would smile her goofy smile just before JJ kissed her.
God, she's just so beautiful and I will never understand how she came to be mine. Not that it matters. I have all I want, all I ever could ask for. And to think that I almost lost her – more than once.
In those dark days after that awful confrontation with her father, Emily had seemed to crack. We had gone to the BAU and found, in an embarrassing moment at the gate, that our passes had been revoked. I called Hotch and he met us later at Emily's. I thought Emily would be angry but she just sat still, calm, as Hotch talked.
He didn't know why, he had said honestly, just that it had come down from above, above Strauss even. Emily had looked up when the Section Chief's name was mentioned with an unreadable look on her face.
When Hotch told us it would probably be best if we resigned instead of letting them drive us out, Emily had stood from the couch and gone to the window her steps measured and outwardly calm yet I could feel the tension screaming through her. I waved to Hotch, trying to quell his look of concern and went to her.
She did not curse her father as I wrapped my arms around her and pressed my cheek to her back; did not curse the government or that group of powerful men who had put us in such terrible peril. Instead, she held my hands around her waist and said simply: 'I wanted to do good.'
'I know, baby,' I told her, 'and for the time that you were there you did.' Right in that moment I wasn't thinking a lick about myself or my career. The only thing I could feel was her pain and the only thing I wanted was to ease that pain.
When eventually we sat down again, Hotch only glanced at our clasped hands. 'I'm so sorry, Emily, JJ. The team won't be the same without you. Sometimes the people in charge make really stupid decisions,' he had said, and we had all laughed at the last part as it was a bit out of character for Hotch to be so candid. Then when Emily asked about Reid, Morgan and Garcia both Hotch and I knew she wasn't being vindictive, just truly cared about her friends and their jobs.
'Nothing,' Hotch had said, 'nothing has been said about them.' They had gone back to work like nothing had ever happened; like they had never had anything to do with uncovering the most bizarre and sinister plot in the recent history of our country. But I knew Garcia, and over the next few weeks and months things began leaking out.
Investigative reporters from all over the world were presenting parts of the puzzle as bits and pieces of the computer code began to appear in stories. Most of the big companies that had been affected, and may have been complicit, tried to claim innocence as the evidence was found deep in their systems by computer specialists both legitimate and not so legitimate.
The right wingers made a great sound and fury over the evidence, claiming proprietary secrets had been revealed jeopardizing the good functioning of America's best employers and the cornerstone of free enterprise blah, blah, blah. The world wasn't listening this time, not buying the argument that outside forces were to blame.
When it came out that the atomic clock in Boulder – the clock to which almost all major computer systems in North America connected to synchronize their internal time keeping – had been how George Smalley's back door had been triggered, the wind went out of the sails of the antigovernment group. Like cockroaches exposed to the light, they scurried and hid and the general talk turned from finding someone to blame to how to build ourselves back up and make things better – for everyone.
At that point, I had never been so proud of our role in this whole affair. It didn't matter to me if no one ever knew, or at least if no one ever knew - for now. And I didn't care about my job. They could take it and shove. The freedom was almost exhilarating. I had that, and I had Henry, and I had Emily. Will had not contacted me and though I grieved in a way for Henry and the loss of his father, a big part of me really didn't give a damn about Will.
If my adjustment was relatively easy, Emily's was not. A part of her had been crushed by her father's revelation and his stinging and final rejection. I had comforted her as best I could. Comforted her for the pain her father had put her through and the agony she felt for losing the career that had been so much a part of her and meant so much to her. She had been damaged by him; a hurt that ran so deep and affected so much of who she was. Every day I woke with her beside me and every night she said only 'hold me now' and clung to me, I felt nothing if not blessed.
She was adrift, I knew, and needed closure. For that she went to her mother. Again, as in the past, her mother pretended that nothing had happened, blaming all Emily's pain on the choices she had made and the things she had done in her life. Her parents were not to blame, they had tried to give her everything she wanted, her mother had stated calmly and reasonably. I was in the next room of Emily's parents' beautiful, solid, house, the home that was built on such a lie and parody of the strong American family, when I heard Emily's voice say 'everything but love!' There was a long moment of silence and Emily walked out her face blank.
Over the next few weeks she retreated into herself doing nothing more than she needed to and then only going through the motions. Henry would stand next to the bed, stare at her back, then come to me a worried look on his face. 'Why doesn't her mother love her?' he asked one time. I pulled him on to my lap and hugged him combing my fingers through his soft blonde hair.
I told him it was complicated, which was lame, of course. Then, thinking it over, I tried to explain. Tried to tell him that sometimes parents just weren't very good parents and they did things that hurt their children for reasons that no one could really understand. He looked at me, smiled and tweaked my nose. 'Not you,' he said, 'and not Emily.' God, kids could be so smart and so trusting. If he had asked about Will at that moment I don't know what I would've done. Thankfully Will had not been much a part of his life for a long time. Instead he asked when he could go see grammy and grampy again.
Emily went to therapy and it seemed to be helping her when one day there was a messenger at the door with an envelope from her mother. Emily read the letter from her mother standing there in the hall and when she was done, she slid down the wall and sat on the floor. With her arms around her knees she cried like I had never thought anyone could cry. I did my best to comfort her just holding her whispering reassurances to her.
I was curious about the letter stealing glances at it where it lay on the floor beside us. Eventually Emily calmed enough to reach out and pick it up. She read it again and handed it to me.
In the letter her mother apologized for all the hurt she and her father had put Emily through. She was sorry she could not admit it sooner, sorry that Emily had suffered, and sorry that she wasn't strong enough to stop her father from wrecking havoc with her life and her innocence with the emotional abuse he had put her through.
After that Emily seemed to bounce back. She had received the acknowledgement her heart craved and I knew, in time, she would reach out to her mother again. Her father, she told me, was lost to her and always would be.
We decided in June to go see Odalis in Florida. The invitation for Emily to return to the place she had run to was always open and frankly, I was curious about the odd woman I had only seen in such a bizarre way in that dreamscape or whatever it was of Guerin's. Also, young Henry had developed something of a very young version of an online romance with the daughter of another woman Emily had met in Florida. That he was mature beyond his 5 years didn't surprise me. Nor did the computer skills he had picked up from Garcia. That the Internet and most communications had gone away for the short time they did, I think made people realize what a unique gift friends could be to us even if they were far away. That everyone went right back to what they were doing like none of it had ever happened didn't surprise me in the least.
When we pulled up in front of the beach house Henry was so excited. He jumped out of the car and bounded over to Chris. They hugged each other and started talking about what they were going to do. Odalis smiled and hugged Emily in a restrained way that probably had a lot to do with my presence. 'If we ever meet again…' I heard her say to Emily as she turned her attention to me. When she embraced me, I knew that a lot had passed between them and hopefully Emily would tell me about it when she was ready.
Katie was a hoot and she and I hit it off right away. Later over drinks, she told me how she had made a pass at Emily after too much rum and dirty dancing and we both laughed drawing the attention of Emily and Odalis.
'Are you telling her about the threesome thing?' Emily had asked with such a sly look I was immediately turned on in a way that embarrassed me. Then Katie told that story and we all laughed together. I could see then what Emily saw in Odalis: her feisty, take no shit attitude was wrapped in genuine warmth and backed by such wisdom I had never seen from anyone in my life.
'She was here, she's been here actually, on and off,' Odalis said later referring to Guerin. 'She has a new identity. Money will buy you that. And she gave me the house.' When I asked where Guerin's money came from, Odalis looked at me and smiled. 'You ever try to play poker against someone who can read your mind?'
Odalis and Emily had exchanged a long look when the topic of Guerin came up. Something passed between them and later I heard Emily telling Odalis she was glad that Guerin had let her go. Again I was curious and it wasn't until my eyes fell on that painting that Claire had done of Guerin and Odalis that I stopped worrying about Emily explaining.
As I stood staring at it I realized 'let her go' could mean a couple things. I hoped it meant both that Guerin had let Claire go and that she had also let Odalis out from under the veil of jealousy so vividly portrayed in the painting.
"Is Henry settled with Chris and Odalis?" Emily asked into the quiet between songs looking over her shoulder at JJ.
"Yeah, the three of them are sharing the bedroom over the garage," JJ moved into the room and sat on the low step next to the tub. "Enjoying your bath, sexy girl?" JJ smoothed a stray lock of hair out of Emily's eyes.
"The view is amazing," Emily glanced at the broad windows and their view of the gulf through the raindrops that were streaming down the glass. She then fixed her eyes on JJ. "What were you thinking about standing back there?"
JJ ran her fingers through the warm water and over Emily's wet knee. "Everything, nothing. Mainly you and how we got here."
"The I95 south through…" Emily started with a playful look on her face. JJ cut her off with a slap of the water.
"I thought I was going to lose you again," JJ said after a long while.
Emily sighed. "I'm sorry, JJ. It was almost too much for me to take, you know. That bastard Bennett, us losing our jobs – our careers – my parents…" she left the thought unfinished.
"At least you didn't run from me."
"I needed you, Jennifer, or I never would have gotten through it all," she held the gaze of the woman beside her, blinked slowly. "You're so strong, and I so love that about you. If you hadn't been there to hold me after I read that letter from my mother, I don't know what I would've done." The brown eyes looking at JJ were rimmed with glistening tears.
"I'll always be there for you, Em," JJ emphasized the words with a slow, tender kiss. "That's a part of loving you."
For a long time they were silent. Finally JJ asked the thing that had been at the back of her mind for a long time.
"That connection you have with Guerin," JJ started slowly. "Do you still… can you still…"
Emily didn't reply, just looked away a quizzical expression on her face. She had never tried to reach Guerin, just reacted to the times she had felt the other woman grasping for her. She let her mind slip down as she drew in a deep breath and thought about Guerin.
The connection was hazy at first then it hit her why. She sucked in a breath as a wave of intense sexuality washed over her. She couldn't help how her body reacted instantly and powerfully to the feeling of pleasure and of love that passed through her. When she realized what it was and why, she cut it off.
JJ was staring at her. "What was that?" she asked pronouncing each word slowly.
Emily exhaled. Every atom in her body was buzzing. Looking at JJ made it even worse. "They are making love, Guerin and Devin."
"Oh, yeah?" JJ was looking into Emily's brown eyes liking the dark arousal she saw there. "I'm happy for Devin and it's funny how that's what I'd like to be doing right now with you."
"Oh, yeah? Is that so?" Emily's voice held a note of mischievousness.
"It is," when Emily moved to get out of the tub, JJ held her back with just a finger on the tip of her nose. "No, stay there, I'll be right back, I just need to change the music."
JJ was gone for only a moment. When the music started again it was a sensual, Latin beat.
And JJ began to dance. Emily turned in the tub her chin on her hands watching. Watching as JJ moved to the music her hips swaying, arms above her head, hands moving through her loose hair. Emily grinned a goofy smile, had it change to something else, as JJ began to lift her T-shirt over her head.
Over the next few minutes JJ shed her clothes as Emily watched, her arousal notching higher with each piece that hit the floor. When she was down to just her panties, JJ approached the tub and turned, moving her hips so her only partially clad behind was right in Emily's face.
With a little growl, Emily took JJ's hips in her hands and placed a wet kiss on the small of her back. "God, you're amazing," she said her lips still brushing JJ's back. She was starting to pull the panties down over JJ's hips when the other woman stopped her.
"Not yet," JJ took a couple steps back and turned. When she did Emily saw her hand was at the waist of her underwear, and moving downward slowly. Emily felt a lump in her throat as she tried hard to breathe. Mesmerized, she watched JJ's two fingers stop moving down and slowly began to move in a circular motion.
Once again she wanted to leave the tub, but JJ's coy smile and gentle shake of her head held her back. Her head back, JJ moved her fingers over her most sensitive spot her pleasure obvious. Meeting Emily's eyes and holding her gaze, JJ returned to the tub. Drawing her fingers from between her legs, she brushed them over Emily's lips. With a flick of her jaw, Emily caught the two fingers in her mouth, began sucking them.
A small laugh, almost like giggle escaped JJ and she pulled her fingers away. Her eyes moved from Emily to the water in the tub. "Oh, what's that?" she said suddenly, leaning forward and reaching into the water - reaching deep into the water and right between her lover's legs.
Emily's eyes widened as JJ's same two fingers moved between her folds finding her tender nub and caressing it like she had caressed herself. Leaning toward Emily, JJ kissed her letting her own passion seep out. When she broke off, Emily was as breathless as before.
"I think I need to join you in there," JJ said slipping off her panties.
"I think that's long overdue," Emily helped JJ slide slowly into the tub, kissed her.
Separating this time, Emily watched as JJ swallowed hard. When she spoke her voice was serious.
"Tell me it will always be as good as this, Em."
Emily grinned, kissed JJ's nose. "I guarantee it will be. Know why?"
JJ just shook her head.
"Because I love you, that's why."
…and so it ends.
The songs that inspired this part are as follows: Vanilla Twilight by Owl City; Rain Down on Me and Dark Angel by Blue Rodeo (the later featuring Sarah McLachlan); the song Guerin sings to Devin is Hey Tomorrow by Jim Croce (1972); Hold Me Now by Jennifer Knapp and the song that inspired JJ's dancing was Las Noches by Huey Dunbar.
As with all the songs used in this story and At the End of the Night, I invite you to check them out.
Thanks for reading and a special thanks to everyone who took the time to review or send me a personal message. For those of you who have stayed with me all the way through you get my extra special thanks. Above and beyond thanks goes to bdd4evr and Rain1657 for being there for me. Extra, extra special thanks to my wife for putting up with me. On that note I'll announce that I don't think I'll be writing any more CM fanfic. I'm going to turn my creative ideas to original work. See my profile for updates on how that's going. I'll see you around…
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