Review @ amarie14
chapter 11 : "Snake Eyes"
JJ stood washing her hands in the bathroom at the BAU. The image of Emily's face, her eyes shining with tears as she looked over her shoulder when JJ entered the jet, hung in the blonde's mind. She stared at her reflection, berating herself for flinging angry accusations at Emily earlier.
Why did you freak out on her like that? You said that she was flirting. FLIRTING.
JJ stood, caught in a trance as her mind seemed to be finally adding up all the events of the past few months. JJ felt the hot water running over her hands, but she could only stare at herself in the mirror.
The late night texting.
The not being able to stop looking at her ass.
She had to tell her.
Quickly shutting off the water and not bothering to dry her hands, JJ ran out of the bathroom.
"Whoa, JJ! Where's the fire?" Derek was coming around the corner and almost collided with JJ as she bolted from the restroom.
"Is Emily still here?" JJ asked breathlessly, as she steadied herself and started to continue down the hall before he even answered.
"Um, actually, I think she went home already," Morgan called after her, causing her to stop in her tracks.
"Oh," she sighed, not quite sure what her next move was going to be.
"Everything ok?" Morgan was still standing there, giving her an inquisitive look.
"Oh, I uh..." JJ fumbled over her words, her mind preoccupied as it frantically was trying to decide whether she should go after Emily.
"JJ?" Morgan took a step toward her, now looking slightly concerned.
"Yeah!" she snapped out of her daze and flashed Morgan a smile. "Everything's fine. I was just hoping to catch her before she left, that's all."
The young man nodded. "Ok. Well, see you Monday," he said, still looking at her curiously.
"What?" JJ's brain was already back on the subject of a certain raven-haired agent. "Oh, yeah. See you." She waved at him and turned to leave. She still didn't know if she was going to head home or try to find Emily. It was only 5pm, she could realistically leave now and get to Emily's within the hour, but that was assuming Emily had gone straight home. Maybe she should call first, or text her to see if –
The runaway train of thought was derailed by JJ's cell phone ringing from within her purse.
It was Will, wondering if she was going to be home for dinner.
"Yep!" She answered breezily, suddenly remembering herself. She had a man, a family. She couldn't just go chasing after random women she thought she found attractive.
But Emily's not some" random woman"…
Before she could start arguing with herself, she heard Henry's little voice in the background over the phone, yelling excitedly as Will informed him that she was on her way home. Smiling ruefully, JJ hung up and headed to her car.
Sitting at the dinner table with her family further reminded JJ of all the reasons she should leave the Emily thing alone. Her son was ecstatic to see her, and as usual, the little boy lit up her world. Even Will was genuinely happy that she was home and refrained from making any comments about how rare it was that she make it in time for dinner. After dinner, the three of them played a game of Candy Land, and JJ was thoroughly enjoying the company of her family.
"Hey Little Man, you can't that!" Will laughed as Henry moved his game piece randomly across the board to the finish. "You picked a green card, so you have to go to the green square." He showed Henry the card, matching it to the square on the board. "See? The colors match."
"No Daddy," Henry shook his head, looking seriously at Will. "The green ones means that the hairy green man chased you."
JJ snorted as Will looked thoroughly confused at his son's explanation. She had played Candy Land enough times with Henry to know that he changed the rules every time.
"Ohh, is that what the green one means?" Will asked, a mischevious smile spreading across his face as his son nodded solemnly. "So you just get to go to the castle, huh?"
"Yes," Henry said, as he drew another card. "And this one is yours." He handed Will the card that had the Lollipop Princess's face on it.
"Oh so I get to go to the Princess Castle," Will picked up his piece and moved it, but Henry grabbed it from him.
"No. She isn't home. You have to go back." The little boy placed his father's piece back at the starting square.
"Oh she's not home, huh?" Will asked, reaching over and tickling his son. "Is that the rule?" He laughed as Henry giggled and rolled on the floor out of his reach.
"And what about Mommy?" Will asked Henry as JJ drew a card.
"Mine's purple," JJ smiled and showed it to her son, who took her piece and moved it to the castle with his own.
"Purple is magic carpet," Henry explained. "Like Aladdin. So you come with me."
"Oh Mommy gets to go to the castle," Will laughed and feigned a pout as his son held up his hands.
"She got a purple one."
"Yeah, I got a purple one," JJ teased, nudging Will.
"Mmhmm," Will grabbed JJ around the waist and pulled her into his lap. "I see how you guys are ganging up on me." He laid a kiss on her neck and rested his chin on her shoulder, looking at their son.
"Well, since you've both won, I think it's time for your bedtime, Little Man." Henry's eyes widened and he looked hopefully to his mother.
"Not yet?" He asked, and JJ couldn't help but laugh at his adorable effort.
"I think so, buddy," She smiled, moving out of Will's arms and standing up. "Come on, help Daddy put away the game and I'll get you a bedtime snack." She winked at her son, who seemed much happier at the prospect of going to bed if a snack was involved.
After putting Henry to bed and reading him a story, JJ went back downstairs to finish cleaning up the kitchen. Will was sitting in the living room, reading a magazine, and she looked at him affectionately.
She hadn't laughed so much with Will in a long time. She felt joy she had forgotten she could feel in that house, as she watched her son and his father interact. It was times like these, when they all were together and happy, that reminded JJ that she had the family she so desperately wanted.
But she still couldn't get Emily out of her head.
"What is it that you want, JJ?"
Emily's words repeated themselves in her head as JJ wiped down the countertop. She glanced back up at Will.
You don't love him.
The thought agitated JJ. With Henry in bed, she was left alone with Will and was having to face her feelings, or lack thereof.
He's a good man, She reminded herself, scrubbing harder at the stubborn spot on the counter. She saturated it with Lysol and it still wasn't coming up. He treats you right, he cares for you, and he's Henry's dad.
JJ's thoughts from the BAU bathroom sink haunted her.
You're going to lose her if you don't make things right. If you don't tell her how you feel.
JJ folded the cloth she was holding and went over the counter again. She couldn't lose Emily. She had no desire to hurt Will or leave her family, but the thought of losing Emily's friendship was unbearable.
I just need to explain things, she thought, I just need to apologize and give her an explanation…nothing is going to happen between us…
"Hey," Will walked into the kitchen. "You trying to bleach the counter?"
JJ looked down, somewhat startled to find that she was still holding the bottle of cleaner and had been spraying the counter yet again.
Will laughed, stepping behind her and sliding his arms around her waist. "I'm heading up," He said, kissing her cheek. "You coming?"
JJ stood, staring at the counter, caught between her previous thoughts concerning Emily and the presently man holding her.
"You've got to be exhausted, I could-"
"I need to go see Emily." The words flew out of JJ's mouth before she could stop them. She stayed still, unable to see Will's face for a reaction.
"Okay…" the young man drawled, pulling back and looking at her curiously. "Do you have to go now? It's nearly ten o'clock."
JJ tried to ignore the obvious disappointment in his voice. "I…she was having a really tough time with the case," JJ fumbled over her words as she turned from his arms. That wasn't exactly a lie…She could tell that Emily had been struggling, it just wasn't the exact reason JJ was so intent on going to see her. "It brought up a lot of…Doyle stuff…" JJ added, trailing off and waiting for Will's reaction. She hated this, lying to him, but she needed to talk to Emily.
"Yeah, of course," the man nodded. "Take her some lasagna if you want," he indicated to the fridge, where JJ had stored their leftovers from dinner. "They say nothing soothes the soul like home-cooked food." JJ nodded at him, unable to form words through the overwhelming guilt she was feeling at his kindness.
"I'm heading to bed though, so take your keys." He leaned in and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. "Good night, hun."
"Good night," JJ said as she watched him walk upstairs.
JJ was left standing in the kitchen, second-guessing everything she had just done. He trusts you, and you're lying to him…
Yeah, but nothing's going to happen. I just need to talk to her.
Now? In the middle of the night?
JJ ignored the arguing in her head and gathered her coat and her purse. She had already told the lie to Will and disappointed him, she might as well go. And anyway, it wasn't long before her mild panic resumed and the guilt she felt was drowned out by nerves about the impending conversation.
Packing had taken much longer than Emily intended. She had started, unpacked, and repacked half a dozen times, caught between wanting nothing of "Emily Prentiss" to come with her into her new life, and her pragmatic personality – You're going to need clothes no matter who you are.
After hours of that, and some time spent laying on her floor and staring emotionless at the ceiling, Emily really felt prepared to go.
She dragged her suitcase down the stairs and paused by the door. She wanted to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything important. She ran through a mental checklist: Cat bowls - check. Cat food - check. Cat...she could come back and get Sergio after she loaded the car. She turned back to the door. This whole thing felt eerily like the night she left to go after Ian, but she quickly pushed the memory out of her head.
Emily Prentiss is dead.
She couldn't dwell in that area too long or her logic concerning leaving her team would collapse and she knew it. She had spent the last few hours vacillating over whether or not she could do this to them again. But she came to the same conclusion every time. She didn't know who she was anymore. She needed a new start, and it was only going to come if she left Washington.
Taking a deep breath and steeling her resolve, she reached for the handle and pulled open the door, immediately finding herself face to face with JJ.
"Emily!" JJ looked startled, her hand frozen midair, posed to knock on the door.
This cannot be happening.
Emily had not counted on encountering any obstacles to her departure, especially not at 10:30 at night, and definitely not one in the form of JJ on her doorstep.
"Emily, I need to talk to you," JJ blurted out, seeming unaware that she had interrupted any part of the brunette's life.
"I was so stupid, I-" JJ stopped abruptly as she noticed the suitcase behind Emily. Looking from the bags back to Emily's face, JJ's eyes suddenly widened. "What...where are you going?"
The whole situation had thrown Emily completely off guard. She blinked at the blonde, trying to find her voice.
"Wh-what are you doing here?" Emily finally demanded, disregarding JJ's question.
"I wanted to talk to you," the blonde said slowly. "But…" She paused, looking at the bags in Emily's hands again. "Emily, where are you going?"
Emily shook her head. "I don't have time for this," she mumbled, grabbing her suitcase and moving to slide past JJ out the door. The blonde, however, didn't budge, blocking Emily's exit.
She reached out and gently touched Emily's arm. "Em, what is going on?"
Her concerned affection and use of Emily's shortened name breathed fresh frustration into the brunette. This was not how this was supposed to go. Emily Prentiss was dead. Determined not to break down again, Emily gritted her teeth, and kept her head down, refusing to meet JJ's eyes.
"Just let me…" She shook off JJ's hand, and tried to push past her again.
"Emily!" JJ moved, grabbing both of Emily's shoulders and trying to look the brunette in the eye.
"Just let me go!" Emily shouted, unable to keep her emotions in check. She pushed into JJ, struggling to keep hold of all her bags and get out the door.
"No," JJ insisted, still grasping the struggling Emily. "Em, what is going on?"
"I…I'm…" her struggle for words was mirrored in her physical effort to exit her condo. Her bags were slipping off her shoulder, as she tried to maneuver around the stolid JJ. "I'm DEAD!" She cried, as her laptop bag slipped off her shoulder, the shift in weight causing her to lose her grip on the suitcase, sending it clattering to the floor. She finally met JJ's eyes for a brief moment, as tears began to escape.
"I died," She said again, dropping the rest of her bags to the floor and giving up fighting JJ. "You guys buried me," her voice cracked, "And I don't know how…" The rest of her sentence dissolved into tears as JJ moved to take her limp body into her arms.
"Hey," JJ soothed, clearing the suitcases out of the way with her foot as she walked the crying Emily back into her hallway. Emily collapsed against JJ, who eased them both to the floor.
"Shh," She pressed Emily's head against her shoulder as she settled against the wall.
Sobs wracked Emily's body, as she let JJ hold her. Her life was a mess, she had no idea who she was, or how to stop Doyle from haunting her from the grave…and here was JJ…
"You're the pretty much last person I want to see right now," Emily sniffed through her tears, staying rested against JJ's form.
"I know," JJ answered simply, laying a soft kiss on the crown of Emily's head and continuing to stroke her hair.
"I had to get out," she whispered, tears still streaming down her face. "I thought I could come back to this, but I just…" she began to cry again and JJ held her tighter. "I don't know how to be Emily Prentiss…she died…" Heavy sobs consumed her once more.
"Shh," JJ whispered again, her arms wrapped tightly around Emily. "It's alright. It's going to be alright." She let Emily cry against her for some time, just stroking her hair and holding her close.
"I just needed to leave," Emily whispered, after her sobbing had calmed down. She sat up, pulling away from JJ and wiping her eyes.
"Hey," JJ said gently. "You went through a horrific trauma. Unimaginable trauma. Physically and emotionally…And it's going to take time, but you are still Emily Prentiss." JJ paused as Emily squeezed her eyes shut against more tears.
The blonde reached out and caressed Emily's cheek. "And she is an amazing, strong, intelligent, nerdy-" Emily let out a small laugh and shook her head, trying to prevent from crying again- "caring, gentle, woman we all know."
JJ smiled, wiping away a rogue tear from Emily's cheek. "We, the team, we're your family, Em. We need you around. It's just going to take time processing all this, but we're here for you. Okay?"
Emily nodded as JJ leaned in and kissed her temple. "We're not going anywhere," she whispered, still cupping Emily's face in her hand and tenderly kissing away the tear that was sliding down Emily's cheek.
The move surprised Emily, and she stared at JJ as the young woman raised her eyes to meet Emily's own. They were both frozen, completely caught up in each other. Emily's mind was racing, trying to figure out what JJ was thinking, but she was having trouble forming a coherent thought.
"JJ," Emily breathed. It was supposed to be an attempt at a stern warning, something designed to protect Emily from another kiss-and-run scenario. Instead, the name fell off her lips tenderly, caught up in awe at the woman's action and the current blazing look darkening her blue eyes.
She felt JJ's thumb move slightly against her cheek. The blue eyes flicked down at her lips, and back up into Emily's brown orbs, searching. Emily could see the question of permission in JJ's gaze, and as much as she tried, she was sure that her own eyes were not conveying resistance. JJ moved, and Emily's eyes fell closed as she felt the warmth of JJ's lips against hers. The kiss wasn't deep, but it was firm with intention, sincerity. JJ held her lips against Emily's for a moment, as if she was trying to make it clear that she meant for them to be.
"JJ," Emily said again, once the blonde had pulled away. This time her voice managed to find some conviction. "I can't…I'm not playing these games anymore," she said, sitting back to put some space between them.
"I know, I know," the blonde said quickly. "It's not…" she closed her eyes and shook her head, "it's not a game." Her eyes opened to meet Emily's. The brunette was watching her meaningfully, but still maintaining her distance.
"I'm sorry," JJ said, resettling herself and taking Emily's hand in her own. "I'm sorry for running away from you the first time, and then avoiding you…" JJ trailed off, looking up into Emily's eyes. "I was scared," she said after a moment's pause. "Confused. I…" she shook her head again and shrugged, "I still kind of am."
Emily just raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not going to freak out again," JJ said hurriedly, not wanting Emily to think that she was about to bolt.
"I just…" she trailed off, sitting back against the wall, bringing Emily's hand into her lap. "…know that I want to be close to you."
Emily sat, watching as JJ toyed with her fingers as she spoke. "I care about you deeply, Em," she said, pausing to look up at the brunette. "That's actually why I came over here tonight. I had to tell you."
"Tell me what?" Emily's worry about JJ running away had dissipated, but she still waited anxiously to hear what JJ was actually going to say. It was obvious the woman was still struggling with her feelings.
"That I…" JJ hesitated for a moment, staring into Emily's eyes. "I want you."
The statement wasn't uncertain, and Emily had been waiting so long to hear those words from the blonde. Seeing those lips speak the words of desire…Emily couldn't help it. She leaned in, capturing JJ's mouth with her own.
JJ's response was immediate. She lifted herself from the wall and pressed into Emily's kiss. Emily's arms found their way around JJ's waist, and she pulled the smaller woman into her lap. JJ's knees straddled Emily, who was now sitting back against the wall. Her hands roamed over JJ's figure, feeling the perfect form of her thighs, her ass tightly wrapped in her jeans…sliding up over her hips, raising her shirt slightly to feel the skin underneath…
Her touch inspired a fervor in JJ, and she gasped as the younger woman's mouth freely explored her neck. JJ tugged on Emily's shirt, pulling it down to reveal her bare shoulder and immediately laid claim to it, nipping and covering it with fresh kisses.
Emily was intoxicated, the way JJ smelled, the way she tasted, the feel of her skin under Emily's palms as she slipped her hands under her shirt to run them up JJ's back. She heard a soft moan escape JJ as she grasped her torso, sliding her hands along JJ's rib cage, her thumbs brushing the edge of her bra.
Emily felt as though she could have pushed things further, JJ didn't seem like she would have resisted much of anything at that point, and judging by the progress she was making on Emily's shirt, which was now completely hanging off one shoulder, Emily guessed that JJ would have continued pushing as well. But her defenses weren't completely out of commission, and she was aware that JJ hadn't said she'd left Will or was planning to, or even that she wanted to be with Emily.
"Wait, Jayj," Emily breathed, taking her hands out from underneath the blonde's top, and gently pushing JJ back from her neck. JJ sat back on Emily's legs and looked at her. The older profiler's breath caught in her throat. JJ's blonde hair was slightly mussed, her lips swollen from caressing Emily's skin. Her eyes were ablaze, like the blue center of a flame, and it took all Emily had to resist laying her down and taking her right there.
"Are you okay?" JJ asked breathlessly, looking genuinely concerned at Emily. She stroked Emily's face, tucking a hair behind her ear.
"Yeah," Emily ducked her head and smiled, kissing JJ's palm. "Yeah. I just…" She paused, unsure of how to put her feelings of hesitation.
JJ seemed to understand, because she nodded and slid off of Emily's lap, resuming her seat next to her.
"I just know this is new for you," Emily said earnestly, turning to face JJ. "I'm not asking anything of you, I just need us…need you to take some time to figure out what it all means to you."
JJ nodded again and let out a small sigh.
"I know I want you Em, I crave you, I think about you all the time, but…" she hesitated, looking down at her hands in her lap. "I've never felt this way about a woman before and it's different and…scary." She glanced up at Emily nervously. "Plus there's Henry and Will…Oh shit, Will!" JJ suddenly realized that the man might be wondering where she was. She reached for her purse and dug out her phone, preparing to send him a text.
"Do you need to go?" Emily asked, sitting up, and checking the time. It was almost 1am.
"What?" JJ glanced up from her phone but continued typing. "No. I'm staying with you tonight."
Emily raised an eyebrow.
"Oh not like that," JJ emphasized. "I just meant to make sure you're okay." She pressed 'send' and threw her phone back in her bag, stifling guilt and memories of Will's face when she told him she was going to see Emily. This wasn't about her attraction for the woman, she justified herself. Emily needed her, as a friend.
She turned back to face Emily. "I'll sleep on the couch. I just want to be here, in case."
She didn't say "in case" of what, but Emily understood the genuine gesture.
"It's fine," she smiled. "And you don't need to sleep on the couch. Although if I recall, you seem to find it a more than adequate bed."
JJ returned the grin and playfully swatted her coworker. "I was tired," she defended, blushing slightly at the cherished memory of the last time she'd slept over at Emily's.
"Mmhmm," Emily said sarcastically, a smile playing at her lips as she watched the blonde roll here eyes. The comment was followed by a large yawn escaping from her mouth.
"Come on," JJ patted her thigh. "You look exhausted. You should get some rest."
Emily, trying to stifle another yawn, simply nodded and allowed JJ to help her to her feet.
JJ pulled her up and into her arms, nestling her lips into the crux of Emily's neck.
"Thank you," Emily whispered softly, and JJ just pressed her lips into Emily's skin.
"Come on." She pulled away, taking Emily's hand and leading her upstairs.
Emily followed JJ into her bedroom and cringed slightly at the sight. Clothes were strewn everywhere, draws left open, discard hangers covered her bed.
JJ squeezed her hand. "Do you want to sleep downstairs?" She seemed to know instinctively that the scene was stressful for Emily.
Emily shook her head and took another step into the room.
"Ok," JJ continued quickly. "Just get changed and I'll make your bed. We can clean up and unpack and all that in the morning."
Emily nodded silently and went to her dresser. There were plenty of t-shirts she'd decided not to take with her, so she pulled out two, and found some FBI sweatpants for JJ.
"My toothbrush is downstairs," she remembered, slightly frustrated and trying not to let the state of her house overwhelm her.
"I can get it," JJ immediately volunteered, moving to Emily's side. Again, she seemed to immediately sense Emily's distress. Emily looked at her, she was beautiful, and sweet, and here. Her presence calmed Emily's tightening nerves.
"It's okay," she said, giving JJ a small smile. "I'll go." JJ nodded and watched her leave the room.
When she returned, Emily was impressed at what JJ had managed to accomplish in the five minutes it had taken to her fish her toothbrush and toothpaste out of her suitcase. Her bed was entirely clear, and all of the clothes were folded neatly in piles on the floor off to the side.
"Thank you," Emily murmured as JJ was hanging the last of the hangers back in the closet.
"Thank you," she smiled, turning and taking the t-shirt and sweatpants Emily had set out for her, and indicated for Emily to use the bathroom first.
When Emily emerged from the bathroom, JJ had changed. She couldn't help smiling at the sight of the young woman standing in her bedroom, wearing her clothes.
She climbed into bed, and watched as JJ gathered her own clothes in her arms and prepared to go back downstairs.
"Well, good night," JJ said, standing in the doorway.
" 'Night," Emily nodded and watched as she turned to leave.
"JJ," she said suddenly, causing the blonde woman to turn back. Emily opened her mouth, desperately not wanting to be left alone, but unable to find the right words.
JJ smiled softly at her. "How about if I just sit with you for awhile," she said, realizing the look on Emily's face was one of mixed fear and embarrassment.
Emily didn't object, and JJ set her clothes on the dresser and climbed onto the bed, slipping her legs under the covers, and sitting propped against Emily's headboard. Emily smiled gratefully at her as she laid down, her head next to JJ's hip.
"Thank you," she whispered again, and JJ reached down and stroked her hair.
"Stop thanking me. I just care about you, that's all."
Emily smiled silently, closing her eyes and cherishing the soothing feeling of JJ's fingers running through her hair.
JJ sat, playing with Emily's hair and watching her carefully until the brunette finally fell asleep. She was very much tempted to simply lay herself down next to Emily and hold her all night, but she wanted to respect the woman's request for space. As she sat, unable to tear herself away from the older woman's side, Emily's sleep became agitated. JJ could hear her breathing quicken, and she began to move, as though she were struggling against something, or someone. Emily didn't make a sound, but when she turned over, JJ saw the deep frown on her sleeping face, and noticed tears squeezing out of her closed eyes.
"Hey," JJ slid down, placing her face next to Emily's. "Em," she said softly, stroking the brunette's cheek, wanting to wake her, but gently. Emily's eyes suddenly flew open, and she looked terrified. She pulled back, but JJ reached out for her.
"Hey, Em, it's me," she whispered as Emily's eyes darted around the room. "You're okay."
Emily looked at her with watery eyes, as though she was just now realizing that JJ was there. "I…he…" She shook her head, obviously remembering her nightmare.
"It's okay," JJ said softly, pulling Emily into her arms. "Come here." Emily pressed herself against JJ, her tears soaking into her t-shirt JJ was wearing.
"It's alright," JJ whispered again, smoothing Emily's back. "I've got you." She kissed Emily's forehead and wrapped the woman tightly in her arms, holding her until they both fell asleep.
JJ was awoken from a light sleep to the distant ringing of her phone.
"Shit," she murmured, looking around trying to ascertain what time it was. Emily stirred against her, as JJ tried to delicately extract herself from the bed. Her phone was downstairs in her purse, and given that the clock next to Emily's bed read 6:34, she knew it either had to be Will or Hotch calling.
Running down the stairs, she didn't reach her phone in time, but saw Hotch's name on the screen.
Before she could even call him back, he called again.
"Hey," she answered, dreading what she knew was coming. "A case?"
"Hi, yeah. Sorry to cut your weekend short. Can you get a hold of everyone else?"
"Yeah," JJ sighed. Cut her weekend short? Her weekend had barely existed. "I'll round up the troops."
"Thanks," Hotch answered. "Try to be here by 8 or earlier if you can."
"Got it." She hung up and sighed. Hopefully Emily is feeling okay about staying because she isn't really going to have time to readjust right now.
"Case?" JJ jumped, startled, and turned to see Emily standing on the steps, rubbing her eyes groggily.
"Um," JJ's eyes traveled up Emily's bare legs, hungrily admiring the woman's figure. JJ was secretly loving that she knew Emily Prentiss's preference for sleeping in just her panties and a t-shirt. "Yeah. Sorry," she said, tearing her eyes away from Emily's legs and realizing that the brunette must be exhausted.
"Guess I better find some work clothes," Emily mumbled, descending the rest of the stairs and heading over to her open suitcase in the hall. JJ watched her worriedly, but didn't say anything, recognizing the statement that Emily was making by getting ready for work.
"I'm going to have to run home," she spoke as Emily rummaged through her clothes. "I need clothes and…"
"You should see Henry and Will before we jet off on another case," Emily said, pausing to look up at JJ. "It's okay, Jayj," She gave JJ a sincere smile.
"Okay…" JJ hesitated. "Are you going to be okay?"
Emily laughed and stood up, coming to stand in front of JJ. "Yes," she said, grasping JJ's hands in her own. "I'll be fine." She laid a quick kiss on JJ's forehead. "Now, go."
JJ smiled, unable to contain her happiness at the brunette's affection.
"Okay. I'm just going to grab my clothes then," she indicated up the stairs. Emily nodded, and dropped her hands as the blonde woman ran up the stairs.
JJ had contacted all the other members of the team, and finally got a hold of Garcia on her house number just as she reached the office. It was apparent the technical analyst had just woken up, but JJ didn't really have any patience left to listen to anyone's complaining. Will hadn't been happy when she informed him they had another case, and she couldn't blame him. He had been kind enough to ask about Emily, but had made it a point to remind JJ that she had only spent a few hours with her son in the past week, which compounded JJ's guilt on so many levels. When she had been with Emily, everything was perfect. But going home reminded her that she had a life – a family – and she couldn't just disappear into some world where she was free to spend all her time with Emily. Emily had requested that she take some time to "figure out what this all meant" to her. And seeing Will and Henry that morning had brought home the immense reality of that task.
"Something's come up, you need to get to the office pronto," she sighed into the phone to a very sleepy Garcia.
"Oh you're not kidding," the technical analyst groaned from the other end of the phone.
"I know," JJ sighed. "I wish psychopathic killers would be a little more respectful of our weekends too, but what are you gonna do?" She paused, hearing Garcia rustling around on the other end of the line. "Is everything ok?"
"Um no…" Penelope answered almost immediately. "Kevin and I got in a fight last night and to self-soothe I drank a lot of wine. And JJ, you know, I can't drink wine, I drank so much wine, why did I drink so much wine?"
"You'll be fiiine," JJ interrupted, trying to slow down her obviously frazzled and very hung-over coworker.
"Oh god. He's coming out of the shower. Oh. I hate confrontation, I hate confrontation," Garcia began to ramble again before JJ cut her off.
"Then don't confront," JJ said sternly. "Just kiss, make up, and get your butt over here!" She hung up the phone and stepped into the office, setting her bag down at her desk.
"Hey, I brought you something."
JJ turned to see Emily approaching, carrying a Starbucks cup and wearing a broad grin.
"Oh you," JJ smiled at the most welcome sight of her coworker, "are a lifesaver."
Emily beamed. "Just thought you could use some caffeine," she said, giving JJ a knowing look as she handed her the cup. JJ basked in Emily's presence, amazed at how happy being around the dark-haired woman could make her. And things were slightly different between them. It was as though their conversation from the previous night relieved all the negative tension, and replaced it with intimate memories, and the fact that JJ had been with Emily through the emotional turmoil of the evening seemed to renew their closeness.
She watched as Emily set her things down on her desk, still concerned about the older woman, and decided she was going to make sure to stick close to the brunette during the case, just to make sure she was coping alright.
Once Morgan and Rossi arrived, Hotch called them all to the conference room, deciding they'd get started while waiting for Garcia.
"Danny Savino, the Floor Manager at the Sapphire Lady Casino in Atlantic City was found dead in his office this morning," Hotch informed them as they took their seats. JJ seated herself across the table from Emily, and watched as the brunette began chewing her fingernails not minutes after they sat down.
"Mug shot, this guy's got a record," Morgan commented, flipping through photos on his tablet.
"Savino was a member of one of the biggest crime families in the Atlantic City area," Rossi provided as Garcia bustled into the room.
"Sorry, sorry," She whispered, sliding into the open seat next to JJ.
"It looks like a robbery gone bad," Emily spoke up. "Why was the BAU called in?"
"Eight one dollar bills surrounding an 8 card," Reid answered, indicating to the photo Hotch put up on the screen. "That's highly ritualistic."
"Yeah," Hotch turned to Emily. "Because Savino has ties to organized crime, agents in New Jersey are worried about things escalating."
"And collateral damage means nothing to these guys," Rossi added. "If we don't get a handle on this soon, innocent people are going to die."
"Exactly," Hotch finished. "Go over your files, I need to make a few calls. Wheel's up in thirty minutes." He stood and strode out of the room, while the rest of them began trading observations about file.
Thirty minutes later, Emily was sitting on the jet with Morgan and Reid. JJ had been out on the tarmac talking to Henry, and when she boarded, Emily immediately caught her eye and smiled. She patted the empty seat next to her, indicating for the blonde to sit. Emily couldn't help being lost in JJ's eyes. She hadn't fully processed what had happened last night, but she was able to feel some semblance of calm about her life with JJ near her.
"Ok, best gangster film," Morgan spoke loudly, bursting into the bubble the two women somehow created around them.
Emily glanced across the table at him, not missing his pointed look, and knowing that he had noticed the exchange between her and JJ.
"No question, Godfather II, hands down," Emily said, looking away from Morgan to the rest of her coworkers. Hotch and Rossi had joined them, and the jet was preparing to take off.
"No, no," Morgan shook his head. "Gotta be Scarface."
"For me, The Untouchables," JJ said, throwing up her hands. Emily smiled at her affectionately. The Untouchables seemed like a movie JJ would pick. The blonde acknowledged Emily's affection with a smile of her own before turning to their youngest colleague. "Spence?"
"Um, probably Le Cercle Rouge, the 1970s French classic," the young doctor answered. "But Den Tredje Verden is a close second."
"Yeah," Emily deadpanned. "That was my runner-up too." She exchanged another smile with JJ, taking great pleasure in the fact that she could make the younger woman laugh.
"What about you, Rossi?" JJ called to their elder coworker. "Best gangster flick."
"I've had too much of the real thing to be a fan of mob movies," the man answered, and before anyone could press him, Hotch interjected with business.
"Garcia did we get the crime scene surveillance video yet?"
"No sir, because there wasn't any," the technical analyst answered from the video screen, looking very much like she'd had a rough night.
"That's not possible," Reid interjected. "Every inch of every casino is suveilled every minute of every day."
"Yeah, apparently the footage was tampered with, so…" Garcia's mood also seemed to reflect the quality of her night.
"Alright," Hotch said, turning to the rest of the team. "Reid and Prentiss, go to the crime scene. Dave, you and JJ find out if Savino was involved in anything the local authorities don't know about. Morgan and I will contact the local FBI office and arrange a ceasefire with the families."
The team heaved a collective sigh, and got back to business. Emily opened her tablet and was reviewing case facts, while also being quite conscious of the fact that her arm was resting against JJ's, who made now effort to move. She exchanged a glance with her coworker, who quickly looked away, blushing slightly. Emily smiled inwardly, focusing back on the file in front of her.
Emily and Reid returned from the crime scene to find that Morgan and Hotch had managed to buy a little time with the mob bosses.
She disclosed that she and Reid had discovered that Savino had his own camera installed in his office, separate from the rest of the casino's security, which Rossi and JJ explained was probably because their mob informant told them that Savino supplemented his income by loaning money to casino patrons. From this, they inferred that the unsub was most likely a gambler, not part of the mob scene.
"A gambler in Atlantic City," Emily commented. "That narrows the field." She caught JJ's eye, who rolled her eyes in agreement.
Later that night, they were trying to brainstorm a profile over the end of their very late dinner, when they got a call that another body had been found, same MO. This time it was a former high-end prostitute, and judging by the evidence left at the crime scene, she had known the unsub as well.
By the time JJ, Hotch and Morgan returned from the crime scene and shared their discoveries with the rest of the team, it was well past midnight.
"Head to the hotel," Hotch instructed them. "We can deliver the profile in the morning."
The team said their good nights in the lobby and went their separate ways to their rooms. Emily watched JJ walk down the hall, wishing she knew how to ask the blonde woman to stay with her. She was completely exhausted, but she knew as soon as she was alone, all the fears and uncertainties about her current situation would be all too present.
She sighed and entered her room, flipping on the TV and hoping that would suffice. After she had climbed into bed and was scanning the channels for something sufficiently distracting, she received a text from JJ.
**If the infomercials aren't cutting it tonight, let me know. I don't want to be overbearing, but I'm right down the hall.
Emily smiled. This is why I love her, she thought, trying not to focus too much on the word "love." She could tell that JJ was concerned about her, she'd seen the way the blonde had been watching her all day. She wasn't a dependent person, but knowing JJ was so concerned made her feel secure in a away that was so much beyond just physical safety. Secure in herself, in her life, in her job…
-Company is always good, Emily replied, appreciating the fact that JJ seemed to know her needs instinctively, and she didn't always need to spell everything out.
Except for your whole relationship, Emily's inner voice reminded her, still not convinced that JJ wouldn't have another freak out. Before her mind could be consumed by that whole can of worms, Emily heard a soft knock at her door.
She opened it to a smiling JJ, who she very much wanted to take in her arms and kiss, but resisted. JJ was wearing her own t-shirt and the same style of FBI sweatpants that Emily had lent her the night before.
"Mine look better on you," Emily teased, indicating to the pants. JJ smirked at her as she climbed into the bed, taking Emily aback with what seemed like such a bold move. The thoughts started running, swirling around Emily's brain.
This is so not a good idea, what happened to taking space?
We're not sleeping together sleeping together…We're just…sleeping together.
Bad move Prentiss. You think you're going to be able to keep your hands off of her?
Of course. This isn't about that. I just…feel better with her close.
I'm sure you'd feel real good with her closer.
All I'm saying is, good thing you brought pajama pants.
"You okay?" JJ asked, watching Emily who was still standing at the foot of the bed.
"Yeah," Emily shook her head and switched off the light, the glow of the TV illuminating her way to the bed.
"Thanks, um, for…" Emily trailed off as she slid under the covers and sat next to JJ.
"Of course," JJ interrupted, taking Emily's hand and giving it a squeeze. "I just wanted you to be able to get some sleep, and," she paused, shrugging. "I don't know if it helps or not, but…"
"It does," Emily assured her. "You're much more effective than television."
JJ grinned. "Good to hear. Now come on Prentiss, let's get some rest." She turned off the TV and scooted down underneath the blankets, spooning against Emily just as she had the previous night.
Emily smiled and shook her head, still amazed at how different she felt about everything when JJ was around. She took JJ's hand that was draped over her waist and brought it to her lips.
"Goodnight JJ," she whispered, kissing her smooth knuckles.
"Goodnight, Emily," JJ responded, pressing her lips into the back of Emily's head. Emily could smell JJ's scent, feel her warmth and the shape of her body as she laid pressed against her. It took a lot, but the exhaustion from the days and night before and the current case overwhelmed any sexual energy Emily felt, and for the first time in weeks she was able to sleep soundly through the night.
The morning came too soon, and when JJ first awoke she had to remind herself that she wasn't dreaming. Emily laid still in her arms, and JJ smiled and sighed as she relished the feeling of Emily's body so close to her. She inhaled the scent of Emily's citrus shampoo, mixed with the woman's sleep. It was perfect. She couldn't believe how completely right this felt, waking up next to Emily.
She propped herself up on her elbow and tucked Emily's hair behind her hear. The movement seemed to wake Emily, as she stirred, rolling over and opened her eyes to JJ looking down at her.
"Hi," The brunette smiled, slightly embarrassed at the obvious adoration in JJ's gaze.
"Good morning," JJ smiled back, having to bite back the "Beautiful" that naturally wanted to follow that statement. She stared at Emily smiling sleepily up at her, and desire to kiss her was overwhelming. She knew from their experience in Emily's front hallway that the two of them kissing could escalate pretty quickly. And that was in a hallway. She didn't even want to think how dangerous it would be to start that lying in bed with the woman. She needed to put some space between them, and fast.
"It's almost seven," JJ said, pulling back abruptly and moving to get out of the bed. "Hotch wants us to the field office by 8, so I need to jump in the shower."
She looked at Emily watching her from the bed, a small smile playing at the corner of her mouth. JJ couldn't help but feel as though Emily was thinking about her in the shower, and she blushed deeply under the woman's direct gaze.
"I should…go," she gestured over her shoulder towards the door, suddenly extremely embarrassed at her intense desire for Emily Prentiss. Emily's face broke out into a full grin, as if she knew she was making JJ flustered.
"Kay," Emily said simply, her eyes sparkling playfully. "See you soon."
JJ nodded and hurried out of the room. She didn't regret spending the night, but she definitely needed to be more careful is she was going to respect the boundaries between them. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Emily, or do anything that remotely resembled her previous hot/cold behavior. Not to mention she didn't want to cheat on Will.
Kind of late for that, she thought, remembering the kisses shared the previous night. She shook her head. That was exactly why she needed to be careful about her physical proximity with Emily. She didn't want to lead Emily on, and she didn't want to lie to Will.
So basically I just have to figure everything out and decide what to do and it'll all be fine. Easy. She rolled her eyes and let herself into her hotel room, deciding that all her complicated feelings could be sorted out later. Right now, she needed to focus on the case.
Emily met Morgan, Reid and Rossi in the lobby after showering and getting dressed. JJ and Hotch had already left and were waiting on the rest of them to present the profile.
After explaining the profile and over an hour of questions, the local law enforcement dispersed and Emily followed Hotch and Rossi into the conference room to go over the evidence from the second crime scene in more detail.
JJ joined them, taking a seat next to Emily, giving her a shy smile. Emily was glad that her embarrassment from earlier hadn't prompted her to go into avoidance mode. She didn't want JJ away from her side.
"This doesn't make sense," Rossi was saying, standing in front of the evidence board. "Danny Savino was a bottom-feeder, handing out nickel-and-dime loans to small time gamblers. But Patti Riolo was exclusively about high rollers.
"The unsub wouldn't have naturally crossed into both worlds," Emily agreed. "He'd be in one or the other."
"Unless his fortunes changed drastically between murdering Savino and meeting up with Patti Riolo," Hotch interjected.
"Maybe he flashed the money he stole from Savino in front of her and pretended to be rich," JJ offered, from beside Emily.
"Or he gambled with it and won big," Rossi posited.
"Let's say he was in financial trouble and immediately after murdering Savino, his luck changed…" Hotch began.
"…In his mind he could've connected the two," Emily finished, and the four realized what was happening.
"Every compulsive gambler believes in a system, no matter how illogical," Rossi said. "And he figured the part of his system that was miss was murder."
Emily shook her head. This was not going to be pretty. She sighed, and stood up. She needed something to drink.
"Coffee?" She laid her hand on JJ's shoulder, causing the blonde woman to look up.
"I'd love some," JJ smiled, her bright blue eyes capturing Emily's.
"Kay," Emily grinned back, squeezing her shoulder before she turned and left the room.
She returned ten minutes later with the coffee, and some hot water for the tea that she dug out of her purse. She caught JJ watching her, laughing and shaking her head.
"Don't start, Jareau," Emily warned, knowing JJ was going to make some smart comment about her bringing her own tea everywhere.
"Hey," JJ held up her hands. "I didn't say anything!"
Before Emily could respond, one of the local agents stepped into the conference room.
"A cashier was shot to death last night at a gas station in town," She said. "And get this. Eight dollars and an eight card were found on his body."
Hotch exchanged a look with Rossi and immediately the four agents stood and followed Agent Goslin out of the room.
Not two hours later, they received a call that another body had been found, shot to death, in an alley with the same signature. Hotch, Reid and Prentiss went to go examine the scene.
88 dollars, ID taken, but the wallet was left, showed signs of remorse. Making things worse, while they were on the scene, Agent Goslin got a call informing her that another body had been found: a guest was found dead in his room at the Sapphire Lady Casino, robbed of $50,000. The MO was different, but the killer had left behind $20,000 on the body. By calling Garcia, they found out that there was a high-stakes poker tournament happening that day, in the neighborhood right where they were. And the buy –in just happened to be $50,000.
Emily was mildly surprised but pretty excited when Hotch announced his plan to try and get one of them in the poker tournament.
"I have to ask for emergency funds to cover the buy-in," He said as they gathered back at the field office, grabbing his phone to go make a call to Strauss.
JJ seemed somewhat excited at the prospect of one of them playing in a high-stakes poker game too.
"A million dollars is some serious cash," she said, when Reid told her about the plan. She turned and exchanged a grin with Emily, who was seated next to her.
"You guys do know this is about catching a killer, right?" Rossi asked, seeming mildly amused that the three of them speculating about an undercover FBI agent winning a high-stakes poker game.
"Oh yeah, well there's always that," Emily joked, and JJ laughed, reaching out and touching her arm. The contact was gratuitous, but not at all unwelcome, and Emily couldn't help but admire how adorable JJ was when she laughed.
Their "moment" was interrupted by Agent Goslin entering the room and announcing that the alleyway victim had been identified.
"Is Hotch having any luck?" Emily asked the agent, who sat down across the table.
She shook her head. "He said they don't want do authorize the money, but he's still trying."
"Well I don't see why not," Rossi commented, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "We're only asking for $50,000 of taxpayer money so that FBI agents can play Texas Hold 'Em."
"Hey, what about you?" Emily asked, leaning across the table. Rossi could easily cover the buy-in and she wasn't about to give up on this plan just because of some bureaucratic obstacles.
"What about me what?" Rossi stared at her.
"You could stake us the buy-in," she replied, raising her eyebrows.
"Yeah!" Reid suddenly jumped into the conversation and took a seat, looking eagerly at Rossi. "You're a best-selling author." Even JJ leaned in, looking at Rossi earnestly.
The older man stared at the three of them incredulously. "No!" He said, shaking his head.
Emily exchanged a quick glance with JJ. They were both clearly enjoying this. "Why not?"
"One, it's against regulations and I'd like to hold onto this job for a little while longer," he began.
"Oh it's a minor administrative violation," JJ butt in, her tone clearly communicating that Rossi's excuse didn't hold up. Emily turned to look at the blonde, impressed with her persuasion.
JJ would know, she thought, loving this mischievous side of the woman.
"Two," Rossi ignored JJ's comment and continued, "I prefer to spend my money on actual things, like single malt scotch, a fine cigar, beautiful artwork…"
"Poker chips are things," Emily offered, and she felt JJ smile beside her as Rossi rolled his eyes.
"Maybe just think of it as a new experience," Reid spoke up. "I mean at your age how often does that happen?"
"At my what?" Rossi turned and glared at the young doctor, and Emily and JJ bit back giggles.
"Rossi," JJ broke in, gaining control of herself and wanting to stop this before Reid dug himself into a deeper hole, "this may be our only chance to get this guy."
Emily held her breath as she watched JJ's comment resonate with the older man.
"Alright, fine," he said reluctantly. "I'm a decent poker player. But I don't know if I can stay in the game long enough to-"
"You know what," Emily interrupted him. "I bet you're a great poker player. But what if we sent in Reid…" She didn't want to offend the man who just agreed to put up $50,000, but she knew that Reid could guarantee to stay in the game long enough to catch the unsub, if not win the whole thing.
"I am banned from casinos in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Parump because of my card-counting abilities," the young man piped up.
"Look," Rossi said, turning to Emily. "I know I'm not a genius like the boy-wonder here, but poker is not blackjack. It's about bluffing and reading human nature, head games. It's not math."
"Ehh, that's not entirely accurate," Reid said, standing up and moving to the dry erase board on the wall. JJ gave Emily a nudge and raised her eyebrow, knowing Reid was moving into full-on genius mode.
"There actually is a mathematical equation for knowing when to raise and when to fold," the doctor began, scribbling an equation on the board and turning back to Rossi to explain. Emily bit her lip to keep from laughing and she looked at JJ, who was looking down, stifling her own smile.
"Ok, fine, I surrender!" Rossi cut Reid off mid-explanation. "Just try not to lose all my money."
Reid gave him a thumbs-up and Emily exchanged an excited look with JJ, who reached out and squeezed her arm.
"Nice," she mouthed at the brunette, giving her a wink. Emily just smiled broadly at her, loving how damn adorable the young blonde woman was, and simultaneously hating that she could not, at that moment, grab her and kiss her as hard as she wanted.
Reid played remarkably well in the poker game, but the unsub still managed to escape out the back of the building before they could catch him. By revisiting the victimology, they realized that Eddie Langdon, the man who'd been shot in the alleyway that morning, had a business partner, Curtis Banks, that fit the profile exactly. It was Rossi who realized that Banks' gambling system included the necessity to kill people close to him, which they inferred to mean that he would then be going after his wife, who had coincidentally filed for divorce a few days earlier.
Prentiss, Rossi, Hotch and JJ went to find the wife at her sister's house, which was only a few miles outside Atlantic City. By the time they arrived there, Banks was already inside with his wife and her sister. Rossi went in unarmed to try and talk him down, and Hotch sent JJ around the house to try and see if she could secure a clear shot at him.
The showdown didn't end as well as JJ would've liked. She was unable to get a shot, and they all had to go in. Terri Banks and her sister were safe, but Curtis took his own life at 8pm, sticking to his lucky number.
Walking away from the house, JJ peeled off her Kevlar and sighed. Emily came up beside her, and placed her hand on her back. The two women didn't speak, just exchanged tired looks and walked in step to the car. Despite the lack of words, JJ knew there was mutual acknowledgement that they would be staying together again that night.
The unspoken plan was slightly foiled however, when Hotch announced they'd be heading back Quantico that evening.
"It's only a short flight," he said as they packed up their things at the field office. "I know everyone is eager to get home and sleep in their own beds."
Or the exact opposite, JJ thought as she looked up, trying to catch Emily's eye. She figured they'd be landing at about 10pm, and she didn't have a problem staying with Emily and letting Will think they had stayed the night in New Jersey, but she didn't know what Emily would want.
The brunette seemed to avoid her gaze, and JJ boarded the jet still not knowing what she was going to do.
They landed at 10:17pm. Hotch excused them from having to set foot in the office, "You all can just head straight home if you like. Paperwork and all that can wait."
JJ walked with Emily to the parking lot, both of them remaining silent. They came to a stop in front of Emily's car. Emily paused, looking down and playing with her keys for a moment.
JJ opened her mouth, about to suggest that she could meet Emily at her condo, when the elder woman spoke.
"You should go home," she said, looking up and meeting JJ's eyes.
"I-" the blonde started to protest.
"Really," Emily emphasized, her eyes soft and sincere. "I'm fine, and you…should spend some time at home."
"I…okay," JJ said finally, looking regretfully at Emily. She didn't like feeling like she was hurting Emily by going home to Will, and truth be told her would much prefer to be staying with Emily that night.
"Good," Emily said resolutely, giving JJ a small smile. "Anyway, you're supposed to be taking time and…figuring things out."
JJ offered her friend a grateful smile before pulling her into an embrace. "Thank you," she murmured and she felt Emily's slight nod against her shoulder.
"Give Henry a kiss for me," the brunette said, pulling away and offering JJ a lopsided smile.
She nodded. "I will. And Emily," she said, looking into the elder woman's eyes with sincerity. "Please call me if you need anything."
Emily smiled again and nodded.
"Ok," JJ said, sighing and giving Emily one last look. "I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Yes," Emily said, turning and reaching for her car door. "Have a good night, JJ."
JJ knew that whether or not Emily slept or had nightmares, she wouldn't be calling her that night. The past two days had been almost heaven for the both of them, the closeness they shared, it was like they were in their own little world. JJ hated having to break that spell, but she just didn't know what she was supposed to do. She wasn't confused about how Emily made her feel – she felt whole, comfortable, safe, happy, when she was around her. She wasn't even really confused about her own feelings for Emily – she cared about her deeply. In fact, next to Henry, Emily's happiness was the most important thing in the world to her. She was no longer confused about her physical attraction to the woman. Feeling Emily's hands caress her bare skin as they had kissed the other night in Emily's hallway had cemented it, in case JJ had needed any more evidence. She wanted Emily. What remained to be figured out was what all of those feelings meant.
JJ was reminded of the harsh reality of her situation as she pulled into her driveway and saw Will's car. What the hell was she supposed to do with those feelings for Emily? How did they fit into her current life?
"They don't," JJ mumbled aloud as she turned off the car. "You don't get to have everything you want…you're going to have to give up something." She didn't want to think about what that actually meant as she slung her bag over her shoulder and headed into her house.
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