Review @ amarie14
chapter 9 : "True Genius"
JJ pulled into her driveway behind Will's car. He had driven her from the BAU to Emily's complex so that she could pick up her car while he went to pick up Henry from her mom's. Standing there in Emily's parking lot, JJ had been unsettled by the way she had felt. For some crazy reason she had hoped that she'd run into Emily also returning home from work, but at the same time the thought of it made her nervous. She couldn't help feeling like she'd disappointed her brown-haired coworker by going home with Will instead of her…and JJ had felt a slight twinge of regret at the choice as well.
Sitting in her driveway as she turned off the engine, she paused before exiting her car as she remembered Emily's face when she told her she was leaving with Will. Something about the look of defeat that crossed behind those dark brown eyes…
For awhile JJ had wondered if Emily had feelings for her, but she couldn't decide how she felt about that possibility. It was kind of like the kiss: at first it was exhilarating, exactly what she wanted, but the next minute she was scared shitless at the enormity of her feelings concerning the elder brunette. Emily had stepped up and been there for her when she needed it most, and seeking comfort in her arms had just felt so incredibly right.
I mean, obviously I love her as a friend, JJ thought, shifting in her seat, but remaining in the car. She couldn't shake the memory of her body resting against Emily's as they had lain on the couch a few nights previous. Every contour of their bodies seemed to match, Emily's scent had been so calming, and her breathing lulled JJ to sleep.
JJ suddenly realized she was still sitting in her driveway and shook her head to clear it of Emily. She quickly exited the car and went inside, where Will was waiting in the kitchen.
"Can I make you anything?" He asked softly as she set her coat and bag down on the counter. "Tea? Coffee?"
JJ tried to ignore the memory of Emily serving her tea that popped into her head at Will's offer.
"Mama!" Henry's voice accompanied with a thunder of footsteps indicated that their son was coming down the stairs to see her, offering a convenient distraction.
"Hey buddy," JJ smiled, walking to the front stairway and scooping up her little boy as he descended the last few steps. Cuddling the fair-haired boy in her arms, she showered him with kisses while he squealed and squirmed, feigning the desire to escape her embrace.
"Maammaaa!" He giggled, as JJ continued to tickle him and lay kisses all over his face. "That tickles!" JJ smiled at her son and gently set him on the ground, where he immediately attached himself to her leg.
"Come on, Little Man," Will said, entering the hallway. "It's way past your bedtime."
Henry looked up at his mother with pleading eyes. JJ couldn't help but laugh at his attempt, and only responded by picking him up again and covering him with more kisses.
"It's true, it is waaayy past your bedtime," she said as she headed up the stairs, Henry's arms wrapped around her neck. "Come on, I'll read you a story."
After tucking Henry in and leaving his bedside only reluctantly, JJ went down the hall to the room she shared with Will.
The man emerged from the bathroom as she walked in, towel in hand.
"JJ," he spoke meaningfully as she took a seat on the edge of their bed, running her hands through her hair. She looked up at him as he came to stand in front of her. "I just wanted to tell you again…about the other night…" Will paused as he laid the towel down on the bed and sat next to her. "I was completely out of line. About everything. I know what you give up for your job, and all the good you do there…" he trailed off, shaking his head. "I'm just really sorry about everything that I said. And I'm really glad that you're home."
JJ smiled, looking down at her lap. He had apologized thoroughly earlier in the hallway at the BAU, but she was grateful that he hadn't simply moved on. Many hurtful things had been said that night, and she was definitely going to need some time before things were "back to normal" between them.
"I love you so much," Will continued, reaching out and taking JJ's hand in his own. "I just want us to be a family so bad…" JJ saw the sincerity in his eyes, and she couldn't hold that against him. She loved Will – he was the father of her child, the most important thing in the world to her. But she just wasn't sure about marrying him, and she knew that's what he really wanted. Right now though, JJ didn't want to argue about that. She knew that she wanted them to be a family too, for Henry's sake. So she simply smiled and nodded at Will.
"Thank you," she said softly, wanting him to know that she did appreciate his apology.
They sat, staring at each other for a moment. Will was looking at her with such love, and slowly he took JJ's face between his hands, and laid his lips on hers. She felt his hands, they were hard against her cheeks, and his movements rough, and JJ couldn't help but think of Emily's hands. They had been firm, yet her skin so soft and her motions gentle…
God why am I thinking about EMILY while I'm kissing Will?
JJ closed her eyes tighter against the memory and pressed her mouth further onto Will's, trying to focus on the man in front of her.
Will guided them back onto the bed, beginning to undress JJ as they moved. As they fell back onto the sheets and Will guided his body over hers, JJ leaned her head back and closed her eyes, letting Will's mouth roam over her shoulders and chest.
As she shut her eyes to the room around her, JJ's mind was suddenly back in Emily's bedroom – specifically focused on the figure of Emily, jumping out of the bed clad only in her underwear and a tank top. JJ couldn't help her mind's eye wandering over Emily's toned legs, as she had done on that morning, up to the sliver of her hip that peeked out between where her underwear stopped and her camisole had inched up to reveal the pale skin of her abdomen.
Immediately JJ's eyes flew open, startled at the memory, while Will continued to writhe on top of her.
What the hell…
Her eyes darted around the room as she desperately tried to keep her mind in the present moment.
"Will," she moaned, mostly as a verbal reminder that it was him on top of her, although the name spoken in her head belonged to a certain brown-eyed profiler. JJ shut her mouth, afraid that the next time she spoke, she wouldn't get it right.
About thirty minutes later, the blonde profiler was laying beside a dozing Will. She, however, could not sleep. Every time JJ closed her eyes, images of Emily's barely clothed body appeared. She could not believe that she'd thought of Emily in that way, and while she was having sex with Will.
It wasn't like JJ was completely unaware of her physical response to Emily's kiss a few weeks back. She hadn't been able to get that out of her head either. After her initial freak out, she'd tried to brush it off as "normal" female curiosity. But the "curiosity" about the way Emily's body would feel pressed against hers, the way her skin would taste under JJ's lips, was getting a little out of hand – to the point where JJ could no longer realistically pretend that she wasn't attracted to the woman.
She rolled over, uncomfortable in her own bed. She didn't want to go down this road, because she was afraid that if she started, the truth might be that the attraction went beyond physical appreciation for Emily's body. She had sought refuge in Emily's arms when things went south with Will, and truth be told, she wasn't sure of her decision not to return to them.
But I want this, this with Will, JJ thought fervently. I love Henry and our family…I want him to have this. And I do care about Will! JJ stole a glance at the man sleeping next to her. She did care deeply about Henry's father, and he was a good man, despite their recent disagreements. For some reason though, even after making love, laying beside him JJ still felt lonely.
Sighing, she reached over and grabbed her phone from her bedside table.
1:04am shone from the display screen. Holding her phone in her hand, she thought of Emily. She wondered if the older agent was still awake, what was she doing, who was she thinking of...
JJ laid the device back down and stared up at the ceiling. She just needed to sleep. Her eyes still didn't close though, as her mind refused to drop the subject of Emily Prentiss. Sighing, she sat up and slipped from beneath the covers, trying not to wake Will as she climbed out of the bed. She grabbed her phone from the table and quietly crept down the stairs.
Standing in her kitchen, JJ stared at the phone, unsure of why she had left her bed in the first place. Before she could get too deep in her second-guessing, she sent a text.
**Are you still awake?
JJ immediately set the phone on the kitchen counter and turned away, opening the refrigerator to distract herself from anxiously anticipating a reply from Emily. She pulled out a cup of yogurt and searched for a spoon and it wasn't until she turned back around to begin eating that she noticed her phone was lit up with a new text message.
-I am. What are you still doing up?
JJ's hands practically trembled as she picked up the phone. She was recognizing more and more that this sort of late night conversation could lead to late night confessions.
**Can't sleep. I got bored of staring at the ceiling. And you? It's kind of late, even for you ;)
JJ smiled as she pressed send, remembering all the times she had known Emily to be staying up late in Paris because of the timing of her online Scrabble moves.
-It's a habit I picked up in Paris, came the immediate reply. But you know, I actually have a tea specifically to cure insomnia. Knocks you right out.
JJ again smiled down at her phone and began preparing her response. She felt like a giddy teenager as she typed, excited though nervous, and feeling slightly ridiculous about it.
**All of your teas do that, Prentiss. None of them have caffeine.
-Watch it Jareau, or I won't share.
JJ laughed as she read Emily's text. She could picture Emily saying those exact words, and she really wished they were having this conversation in person. Pushing herself off the counter, JJ wandered around the island in her kitchen, typing her reply.
**Ok, ok. I don't want to lose my privileges. I DID love the cup you made me the other night.
-Good. It was from the expensive shelf.
**Look Em, JJ paused, leaning against the fridge as she began to type rapidly. I really appreciated that you were there for me that night. I can't tell you how much that meant. AND you shared your tea. So, thank you.
Truly, there was a lot more JJ wanted so say, but even the false courage of hiding behind technology couldn't make her brave enough to start those confessions just yet.
-Well, anything for you Jayj. Including my tea ;)
Her heart skipped a small beat at the reply, though she immediately felt foolish for getting so worked up over a text message she had chosen to interpret as flirtatious. Despite her constant admonitions that Emily was not flirting, JJ's hands trembled slightly as she tried to think of a witty reply. Before she could compose the perfect retort, she received another text from Emily.
-I'm currently substituting the tea with some late night infomercials…seems to be doing the trick.
JJ grinned broadly upon reading the words. It made her unreasonably happy that Emily was engaging her in conversation this late at night. Taking her phone, she walked into the living room and flipped on the TV. Immediately, JJ was greeted with a man in a headset talking enthusiastically about some kitchen gadget. JJ sat down, instantly enthralled. She loved these things.
After a few minutes JJ tore her eyes away from the screen to text Emily.
**This is making you fall asleep? I'm about to call and order one! ...Or five.
-Of course you are. I suppose it's my fault if you end up with a kitchen full of Magic Bullets tomorrow…But yes, I am falling asleep. I have to be up early tomorrow to get to catch my flight to Chicago with Reid.
I forgot about that stupid Violent Crimes conference, JJ thought, feeling rather disappointed that she wasn't going to see Emily tomorrow.
**Right! I forgot. Well then get your rest. And good luck tomorrow!
-Thanks You should think about sleep too. Before you spend too much money ;)
JJ smiled at her friend's teasing comment and silently agreed. Besides, she didn't think it was a good idea to have Will find her down here in the morning – they had just "made up," and she didn't feel like dealing with his questions about why she couldn't sleep or didn't wake him up to sit with her instead of moving downstairs.
**I'll try to tear myself away Good night!
JJ pressed send and reluctantly switched off the TV, uncurling herself from the corner of the couch. As she was making her way up the stairs back to her bedroom, her phone lit up again.
-Good night JJ.
For some reason, the inclusion of her name by her colleague made JJ smile. Simultaneously she was struck with deep regret that it was not Emily who was waiting in the bedroom 10 feet in front of her. Sighing and shaking her head, JJ tried to push that particular feeling back down. She climbed back into bed next to Will, who it appeared had not moved in her absence. JJ rolled onto her side, facing away from the slumbering man, closing her eyes and concentrating on the warm feeling that had come with the late-night chat with Emily.
Emily and Reid had volunteered to speak at the Violent Crimes Seminar in Chicago in response to an invitation requesting someone from the BAU. She had jumped at the opportunity to get away for a few days, as Hotch was allowing them to stay an extra day in the city.
The two had arrived at the hotel after an excruciating early morning flight, and were walking down the hall towards the ballroom where the conference was to take place. Emily was following Reid, who was engaged in conversation with Patricia Cornwell and her posse. He was talking to Ms. Cornwell about some statistic, Emily was only half listening, when she felt her phone vibrate against her hip. She pulled it out of her pocket to see that JJ had texted her.
**Have a great presentation! Try to make sure Reid doesn't go too far into genius-land ;)
Emily couldn't help her face breaking out in a huge smile at the blonde's sweet gesture. She immediately thought of the previous night, when JJ's text had thankfully interrupted her tossing and turning. Emily was still having nightmares and an aversion to sleep since being back from Paris. And the surprising text message she'd received from the young blonde the night before had been a welcome surprise for more reasons than one.
"Something funny?" Reid had apparently finished educating Patricia Cornwell and had fallen into step next to Emily.
"What?" Emily looked up, slightly startled out of her daydreams of JJ.
The young doctor shrugged. "You were smiling at your phone, I was just wondering what was funny," he said in his matter-of-fact style.
"Oh, no," Emily shook her head and gave Reid a quick smile. "Nothing was funny."
Luckily before he could ask an inevitable follow-up question, the group reached the ballroom and were being given instructions about the events of the day.
When JJ arrived in the office that morning, she was greeted with Morgan telling her they had a case. It was straight to the conference room to be briefed, which was nice because it gave her less time to dwell on Emily's absence.
Seriously? She's going to be gone for two days. I think you can handle it.
Any thoughts of Emily quickly disappeared when Penelope started the briefing. It looked like the Zodiac Killer was back in California, after 40 years. Hotch announced they'd be leaving in thirty minutes and instructed Garcia to tell Prentiss and Reid to meet them in San Francisco once they were finished with the seminar. JJ couldn't even be happy about seeing Emily with the thought that the Zodiac Killer, one of the most famous and brutal serial killers, was somehow back.
Hours later, the team arrived in California. After briefly settling in at the field office, JJ and Hotch accompanied Agent Lin, the leading agent on the case to see the crime scene, which was a copy of the Zodiac M.O. down to the last detail.
"What makes you think this is the real Zodiac, Agent?" Hotch directed his question at Agent Li, who stood off to the side, shaking her head in slight bewilderment.
"I don't know…" she started slowly. "The M.O. is uncannily similar. If it's not him, then it's an equally evil twin."
"Or someone who studied him meticulously," Hotch suggested, surveying the scene.
A voice approaching from the crime scene line drew their attention. "Have any letters or ciphers been received?" Spencer Reid was striding towards them, followed closely by Emily.
JJ's eyes magnetically stayed on the brunette, watching her approach. Their eyes met for a brief moment, causing both of them to break out into large smiles. Emily quickly looked away, and JJ could tell she was blushing slightly, perhaps because to be grinning so broadly seemed inappropriate for the situation. As the pair reached the car, Hotch introduced them to Agent Li.
"Uh, how was the conference?" JJ asked, looking only at Emily, but the brunette was carefully avoiding meeting her gaze again.
"Enlightening," Reid answered JJ, who kept her eyes on Emily.
"Has the unsub made any contact?" Emily asked Agent Li, who explained that they had received phone calls with only heavy breathing on the other end – just like the ones the Zodiac used to make.
After requesting a copy of the online version of the day's paper to be printed out, Reid stepped forward and gave the crime scene a quick glance over.
"It's not the real Zodiac," he announced as he moved around the car in which the victims had been shot.
The other three agents exchanged quick looks.
"How can you be so sure?" Emily asked.
"I just know," was the only reply as Reid continued to examine the scene.
Emily followed him, poking around and making her own mental notes. JJ couldn't help but stare, and felt that she had a pretty good view as she watched the older woman lean over to peer inside the car window. Suddenly conscious that Hotch was still standing beside her, JJ abruptly turned away, trying to prevent her mind from lingering on thoughts of Emily's body. She remembered the images that had pervaded her mind while having sex with Will, which caused her cheeks to redden slightly.
"I don't know, it's eerily similar…" Emily's voice caused JJ to turn back around as the brunette came to stand in front of her and Hotch.
"Yeah," the Unit Chief nodded. "We'll have to see what Reid comes up with after looking through the newspaper. Finish up here and we'll head back to the field office and debrief with Morgan and Rossi," he said as he turned to head back to the black SUV parked a few yards away.
"So, how many did you order?"
JJ looked up to see Emily's brown eyes twinkling at her, a teasing grin on her face.
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," JJ feigned, turning to follow Hotch and immensely pleased at the flirtatious tone Emily Prentiss was taking with her.
"Ah, I see. So I should expect at least a blender and a Japanese knife set when my birthday rolls around then."
JJ shot Emily a look but couldn't hold back a smile from breaking out across her face.
"Maybe one or two," she said, glancing over at her coworker who had fallen into step beside her.
"Hmm." Emily nodded. She was looking at the ground, but her grin was still visible. "Looks like I'm really going to have to get you some of that tea," she said, a serious look taking over her features. "In the interest of your bank account."
"Oh shut up," JJ laughed, nudging Emily playfully with her shoulder. The moment of contact was delicious, as JJ had been dying to touch the older woman from the minute she'd strode onto the crime scene and now she couldn't help herself from indulging in some adolescent-style flirting.
Emily just laughed heartily as they reached the two parked SUVs where Hotch was waiting.
"JJ," the Unit Chief spoke from within the vehicle. "I need you to come with me. Prentiss, you can wait for Reid and meet us back at the office."
"Okay," JJ said to Hotch, crossing the car to climb into the passenger's seat. She threw one last glance at Emily who simply nodded, having fully resumed her professional composure.
Once they all had arrived back at the field office, it was becoming clear that Reid's "feeling" had been right, that the killer was indeed not the original Zodiac.
Reid going through comments from online newspaper article, and found a cipher using the same symbols that the original Zodiac killer had used. Of course the Boy Wonder decoded it within seconds and with Garcia's help they figured out that the unsub was referring to a statue of President Garfield in Golden Gate Park at a 8pm that night.
Emily was slightly annoyed, but Hotch had asked her specifically to stay at the field office in case the park was just a distraction and something else happened. Not too long after they all had left, a local agent returned with a man in handcuffs, and Emily was thoroughly confused at the man's protests that he was "just the messenger."
"What happened?" She asked the agent as he led the man into an interrogation space.
"This guy just showed up with a letter for one of your teammates," the agent shrugged. "Says he doesn't know anything, but we'll see what we can find out."
Emily nodded, frowning, and turned to see the rest of her team entering the office.
"Hey," she greeted them as Reid brushed past her, heading straight for the evidence board, obviously frustrated by something.
"Uh, what happened?" She asked, looking from Reid to the rest of the team, who looked slightly defeated and slightly more frustrated.
"That guy showed up with a letter addressed to Reid," JJ said, as she removed her coat and indicated to the man sitting in the interrogation room, where Hotch and Rossi were now questioning him. "It said, 'You're not as smart as you think you are.'"
Emily's eyebrows shot up as she glanced over at the young doctor, furiously flipping through the comment pages of the newspaper article. She knew that, despite the fact that Reid was extremely humble about his intelligence, he wouldn't take kindly to an unsub playing games and taunting him like that.
"So we're thinking there's going to be another body by the morning?" she looked back at JJ who nodded grimly.
"Looks that way."
At that moment, Hotch emerged from the interrogation room.
"Anything?" JJ asked hopefully.
The older man shook his head. "He doesn't know anything. Look," he said, pausing where the two of them were standing, "I want us all to get some rest. It's getting late and we're going to need fresh eyes tomorrow. You guys should head over to the hotel, I'm going to try to convince Reid to go as well." The two women nodded and watched as their leader approached the frustrated young man across the room.
"Hey," Morgan came up beside them. "I'm about to head over now, if you wanna join me." He glanced over to where Hotch was speaking to Reid. "I think they might be awhile."
JJ looked at Emily and raised her eyebrows in silent question. The brunette nodded somewhat reluctantly, she didn't want to leave Reid who was obviously distressed, but she was exhausted, having gone none-stop since the flight to Chicago that morning. She knew Reid must be in the same state as she, but figured if anyone could convince him, it would be Hotch.
Back at the hotel, Emily picked up her key at the desk and went up to find her room. She was thrilled to see a small coffee maker in the room, and while she was using it to heat up water for her nightly cup of tea, there was a knock at her door.
"One second!" she called, having been in the middle of undressing. She threw an old Yale sweatshirt on over her bra, and still wearing her dress pants from the day, she opened the door. She was surprised to see JJ standing there, still dressed in her suit.
"Is everything okay?" Emily asked immediately, worrying that they'd found another body already.
"Oh, yeah! Everything's fine," JJ assured her quickly, seeming to realize that her presence had the older agent concerned. "I just, erm, wanted to make sure you'd found your room…" the blonde woman trailed off and Emily couldn't help but smile at her adorable bashfulness.
"Yeah, come on in," she said, stepping back and opening the door fully for her colleague to enter. "I'm just making tea." She emphasized the last word and glanced at the blonde, with a pointed grin on her face.
JJ laughed and followed her into the room. "Of course you are. I should have known."
"Would you like a cup?" Emily asked, still grinning, as she dug around in her suitcase for the new variety she'd picked up in Chicago.
"Wait," JJ stopped, staring at Emily for a beat. "You brought your own?"
"Yeah!" Emily said, straightening up holding the box of organic lavender camomile. She could tell JJ was about to tease her, but she didn't mind.
"Oh you are adorable," the blonde woman said, taking a seat on Emily's bed as she watched the older agent prepare two hotel mugs full.
Emily was extremely grateful that her back was to JJ at that moment, because JJ's comment had her grinning like an idiot and blushing like a schoolgirl.
"Here," she said, still smiling as she turned around and handed JJ one of the mugs. "Just drink it. No more comments."
JJ's blue eyes twinkled up at her. "Yes ma'am," she smiled as she raised the cup to her lips, stopping though because the water was still hot.
Emily wrapped her hands around her own mug and sat down next to JJ, tucking one leg underneath her and sitting to face the blonde. It didn't escape Emily's notice that her knee was mere centimeters away from JJ's leg, she could practically feel the magnetic pull of the woman's body and had to resist the urge to shift closer. The two simply sat staring and smiling at each other over their steaming mugs for a few seconds before either of them spoke.
"So how was the conference?" JJ said finally, after taking a small sip of her tea.
"Do you like it?" Emily asked before she answered her question, hoping the answer was an affirmative.
"Yes," JJ nodded. "It's still a little hot though." They both laughed and Emily couldn't help but notice how much she loved the little crinkle that appeared above JJ's nose when she'd made the comment. She instinctively averted her eyes, afraid that they might give away too readily of how much she was enjoying the young woman's company.
"The conference was good actually," Emily said, setting her mug on the nightstand to cool off a little. She stood up, deciding she needed to be moving around and not sitting inches away from JJ on a bed, a situation that she had admittedly thought about before, but always ended in a very specific way in her imagination. She moved around the bed to her suitcase and began to pull out her suits that needed to be hung up. "People had some good questions about cases…And Reid managed to not confuse the audience too much."
JJ let out a little laugh. "Yeah, sometimes it's hard to tell how people will take him."
Emily nodded, and avoided looking at the delicious blonde woman on her bed. All her misgivings about JJ, about the way JJ had reacted to their kiss, the fact that she had gone home with Will, everything, were being overridden by the late night texts and flirtatious manner in which JJ was treating her today. She wanted to be furious at herself for getting sucked in, but being around JJ was her salvation. It distracted her from the gruesome nature of the case, from her nightmares and insomnia and the fact that she continued to struggle with recovering from the whole Doyle ordeal.
"Hey," JJ said suddenly, rising from the bed. "I just remembered, I talked to Penelope about his surprise party." Emily turned around to look at JJ and listen. "She's getting everything together while we're gone, so it should all be ready when we get back to Quantico. Depending when we get back of course."
"Okay, sounds good," Emily said, unable to keep from smiling while her eyes were on JJ's.
"Good," JJ smiled back. "It's going to be you're job to get him to the party though," she said, looking seriously at Emily and moving forward to stand directly in front of her. "Think you can handle that, Agent Prentiss?"
Emily's heart started pounding as JJ stood so close to her, looking up into her eyes with a playful seriousness that was driving Emily crazy.
"Erm," she cleared her throat, trying to take a step backwards but finding there was no room between her and the closet. "Yes."
She wanted to engage in JJ's flirting, but she could barely form words at this point, so instead she simply turned and placed the jacket she was holding in the closet.
"Well," JJ said, taking a step over Emily's open suitcase and placing her hand on the small of Emily's back for support as she did so, "I should get to bed." Emily, again made mute by the physical contact, turned to JJ, but didn't say anything.
"Thanks for the tea," the blonde said, indicating to the cup she was setting on the dresser. Emily simply nodded as JJ walked towards the door.
"JJ," the sound escaped her lips before she could control the longing in her voice. The blonde turned back from the door and took a few steps back into the room.
Emily had no idea what she was going to say.
You're in the middle of a case, you can't go and make things complicated right now. Flirting is one thing, but trying to push things…you know what happened last time you thought things between you were more than just friendship.
JJ moved closer, again standing directly in front of the brunette, causing any semblance of words to jumble themselves in Emily's head.
"Nothing," she said finally, shaking her head. "I can't even remember what I was going to say!" Emily let out a forced laugh, hoping JJ would buy it, or at least leave it alone.
"Okay…" JJ said hesitantly, raising an eyebrow, but not asking any questions. "Good night then," she said, reaching out and giving Emily's hand a quick squeeze. The gesture caught Emily somewhat off guard, but the contact did not seem out of place, it even felt too little. Just as quickly as she had done it though, the blonde turned and exited the room.
Emily could still feel her heart beating a mile a minute after JJ left. She stepped over her suitcase and fell onto her bed, trying to calm down her body.
That woman… She thought, shaking her head and smiling at the memory of what just being close to JJ did to her. She laughed, noticing her forgotten tea on the nightstand, and dragged herself up to finish getting ready for bed.
As soon as JJ walked out of Emily's room, she had to force herself to walk down the hallway, open her own door, and shut herself safely inside her room. She didn't know what she had been thinking when she decided to go and see Emily, only that she couldn't get enough of being around the woman. It was a dangerous choice, though, because when Emily had said her name just then…JJ collapsed on her bed and sighed. She had wanted to kiss those lips so badly. The only thing that had stopped her was the fact that she knew if she started, there would be no way she could stop from going further – and sleeping with your team member for the first time probably isn't the best choice when you're in the middle of a case, she reminded herself. Right.
JJ got up and began changing into her pajamas, but her thoughts were completely absorbed with Emily…wondering what she'd been wearing under that sweatshirt; wondering if she was sleeping in that same tank top and a pair of underwear, like JJ had seen her that morning she stayed over; wondering how her skin would feel pressed against JJ's own…
"Yeaaah," JJ spoke aloud as she climbed into bed. "This isn't going to work." She knew that if she kept indulging these trains of thought, it wouldn't be long before she'd be unable to control herself around the brown-eyed agent. She'd already been unable to stop herself from making gratuitous physical contact with Emily today. It had almost been a need.
I really need to get control of this, she thought as she switched off the light. Nothing can happen between us. I'm with Will. Also, I'm not gay. JJ rolled over, adjusting her blankets and closing her eyes, only to immediately be flooded with images of her coworker's figure as she had bent over to retrieve items from her suitcase.
The next morning, there were two more bodies found, this time stabbed. The entire team went to the crime scene. Emily was walking with Reid, going over elements of the crime when he received a call from Garcia informing him that her trace of the comment left on the newspaper had hit a dead end.
JJ and Hotch appeared behind them and Reid turned to explain that the unsub had to know that he would solve the code, and must've put it in there as a decoy.
"It's a taunt," Hotch said matter-of-fact. "He wants to prove that he's smarter than everyone."
"We fell for it," Reid said, his voice full of frustration and guilt that he had been the one who deciphered and believed the decoy clue.
Emily glanced up at JJ, both of them hearing the guilt in the young doctor's comment, but choosing not to say anything.
Reid went on, asserting that the unsub must be within five to ten years of his age, since he was obviously trying to compete with him.
"The message might not have been meant for you," Hotch cautioned, obviously worried how the young man might take such pressure.
"A letter was hand-delivered to me last night!" Reid protested, and JJ gave Emily another worried look.
"But the comment on the paper was posted at 9:03 am," Emily interjected. "We weren't even in the city yet. So how would the unsub know you'd be involved in the case?"
Reid looked down at his feet, pondering Emily's point, but JJ spoke up.
"You did give your name to the press later that day," she pointed out to Reid. "And you said yourself he knew we'd be in the park."
Emily looked at JJ, their eyes connecting across the few feet that separated them.
"If he's doing his best to emulate the Zodiac though," Emily said, her eyes still locked on JJ's, "Then killing in such quick succession would be a mistake."
"The shortest time span for the Zodiac was…" JJ paused, finally breaking eye contact with Emily. "Two weeks?" She asked, looking at the two men for confirmation. Reid nodded and Emily continued, still mostly talking to JJ.
"Well maybe the unsub doesn't have a choice. Maybe he's experiencing a time pressure that he has no control over." She looked up at JJ, who was staring at her intently. Emily looked curiously to her other coworkers, then back to JJ, who nodded as she met Emily's gaze. Emily loved working with JJ. She loved the whole team, but because of her, ahem, special feelings for JJ, working with her and seeing her intelligence in action made Emily excited, in more than one way.
She quickly averted her eyes from the crystal blue ones that she was sure could read her thoughts, and her thoughts were veering into dangerously unprofessional areas. Emily also felt Hotch's eyes on her, and she had to remind herself to keep her feelings in check.
You're surrounded by a bunch of highly trained profilers, don't think they won't notice every stolen glance, she chided herself. Remember what Derek said. If he noticed something, there's no way Hotch hasn't.
"OK," the Unit Chief spoke abruptly, causing Emily to look up. "We're ready to give the profile."
Emily drew in a deep breath and caught JJ's eye once more, just briefly, before turning and following Hotch back to the car. This copycat was starting to veer from the original MO, which meant things were escalating. They needed to catch him, and fast.
Not even a few hours later, after Reid had decoded the actual cipher and discovered an ad placed in the China Weekly Post, they were informed that a cab driver had been found murdered.
That evening, Emily was sitting with Hotch, listening to Morgan and Rossi go over details from the latest crime scene when Hotch started handing out jobs.
"JJ and I can go check out ATM and other surveillance cameras near the newspaper," Emily quickly volunteered, hoping her eagerness to spend time with the blonde profiler was not evident in her voice. Hotch simply nodded, and Emily got up to go find JJ.
"So, uh," JJ said as the two walked down the street towards the office of China Weekly Post. "Just thought you'd volunteer me for the most boring job?" Emily blushed slightly at her coworker's teasing, embarrassed that she might have recognized the real reason Emily volunteered them both to do a job that required they be secluded from the rest of the team. She just wanted to be able to indulge in this flirting without having to worry about being profiled.
"I knew you wouldn't mind," Emily teased back, turning her head to look at JJ, who was smiling broadly.
"Ohhh, you've just got me all figured out, huh?" JJ laughed, leaning in and nudging Emily slightly. The brunette smiled, but only halfway, because the complete falsity of the statement rung clear. She absolutely did not have JJ figured out. In fact she was so thoroughly confused about what the younger woman wanted, her feelings towards her changed daily.
But all this gratuitous touching…
Emily shook her head lightly, trying to remind herself to be professional.
Her resolve to be professional faced a tough competitor when her and JJ were forced to sit in a cramped back room at the newspaper office, sifting through surveillance footage.
Emily was sitting in a chair, with JJ leaned over her shoulder, staring intently at the small video screen. It took all of Emily's willpower not to turn and bury her face in JJ's neck. She could smell JJ's shampoo and perfume, mixing into one glorious scent, and every so often, JJ's arm would slip slightly on the back of the chair and brush her shoulder.
Even though Emily was nearly positive there was nothing useful in the tape, she rewound it twice, just to make sure - or to make sure JJ stayed in such close proximity as long as possible, which JJ didn't seem to mind, because she didn't move away, even when they were watching the same footage for a third time.
"I don't think there's anything here," Emily said finally, sitting up and regretfully causing JJ to move away.
"Yeah," the blonde agreed, moving towards the door. "It's getting pretty late, we'd better get back." Emily nodded, and extracted herself from the chair behind the desk.
As they exited the newspaper office into the cool San Francisco air, Emily was taken aback when JJ sidled up close to her and slid her arm through Emily's own.
What is she doing…Emily's heart and head were going a mile a minute.
This is insane. Insane. She is acting like we're…like we're a couple or something.
JJ shivered, pressing herself tighter against Emily's side.
"It really gets cold here at night!" She laughed, looking up at her brown-haired coworker. Emily couldn't help but smile down at her. The feeling of having JJ on her arm was intoxicating, and reminded her of just how much their bodies fit together. She gripped JJ's arm with her own, letting the smaller woman settle against her shoulder as they walked.
"I meant to tell you," Emily said, glancing down at the lovely blonde woman beside her, who was meeting her eyes with a particularly contented smile on her face. "Reid thinks we forgot his birthday."
She looked back up, away from JJ's face as her eye caught on two women strolling down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. They were walking arm in arm, exactly the same way her and JJ were. Immediately, Emily noticed something intimate about the other women's interaction. It was her first reaction to assume that they were a couple, and it wasn't lost on her that at that moment, one or both of those women might be thinking the exact some thing about her and JJ.
"Aww! Poor guy!" JJ laughed sympathetically, and Emily tore her eyes away from the approaching couple, realizing that JJ was responding to her comment about Reid. "Hopefully the surprise party will make up for it."
Emily kept an eye on the nearing figures, watching with evident envy as one woman was laughing about something the other had said, and at the exact moment the couple passed the two profilers, they leaned their heads together and kissed.
Immediately Emily felt JJ let go of her arm. The brunette wasn't sure if the action was because JJ had noticed the lesbian couple, or because they had nearly arrived at the car. She was pretty sure it was the former though, especially because JJ avoided her gaze most of the way back to the office.
Emily wanted to laugh at the situation, except that it was so bloody painful for her. JJ had probably been unnerved at seeing the two women, walking exactly the way they had been, and then realized they were lesbians…
This is never going to end, Prentiss. That annoying voice in her head was back. She doesn't want to be with you. Even if you think you're sure she has feelings for you, she's not going to "be gay" and be in a same-sex relationship. Sighing, Emily shook her head. She pulled the SUV into the parking lot and hopped out. Her and JJ walked side by side, wordlessly, into the office to share their lack of news with the rest of the team.
The case ended without another life lost, something for which Emily was extremely grateful. The major breakthrough was of course due to Reid's genius, and they had managed to find the unsub and his captive and the object of his obsession, a childhood friend who had collaborated with the unsub in the killing of a young boy a few decades ago.
The day after they returned to Quantico, while Reid was out at lunch, Garcia had everything set up in the roundtable room and Emily was waiting, on the lookout to intercept Reid in the hallway.
"Hey Reid!" she called, seeing young man emerged from the elevator. "Hotch wants to talk to you."
"Ohh…" Spencer trailed off, looking very much like he was dreading such a conversation.
"What's wrong?" Emily asked, suddenly slightly concerned that something might actually be wrong.
"I bet he wants to talk to me about why I've been so weird lately," Reid grimaced, and Emily remembered the conversation they had in San Francisco when Reid had confessed that he felt maybe he should be doing more with his life than working at the BAU.
"You are making a difference, you know," She said sincerely. "One person at a time." Reid gave a half-hearted smile and nodded.
"Thank you," he said slowly. "You know, I've been thinking a lot lately about why I stayed after Gideon left. Why I didn't take any of those other offers."
"Nothing is accidental," Emily nodded, quoting something Reid had said during the case.
"And I realized," the young man continued, "I don't know, there's just something incredibly right about being here. With you guys." He looked at Emily with the most adorable smile on his face, and she couldn't help but return the grin.
"Well," she said, straightening up and taking his arm, turning him towards the BAU office. "I am glad to hear that. Otherwise, this would have been reeeally awkward."
"What would have been really awkward?" Reid asked confused, as Emily led him into the roundtable room, opening the door.
"SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" The rest of the team, standing next to a cake and a pretty large pile of presents, cheered as Emily ushered Reid through the door. The young doctor smiled as he received hugs and kisses from his teammates. Emily just stood, beaming at the scene. She loved this team so much.
"I think he likes it," JJ came to stand next to Emily, offering her a piece of cake. Emily nodded gratefully and took the dessert, though she was still irritated at JJ for her constant hot-cold behavior. They hadn't actually spoken since the trip to China Weekly Post.
"It was really a good idea, Em." JJ's use of her nickname didn't help Emily's irritation.
"Thanks," she said simply, taking a bite of her cake.
"I didn't get him a blender, don't worry," JJ joked, indicating to the center of the room where Reid had begun to open his presents. Emily was not amused and really just wanted to get away from JJ. Flashing her a tight smile, she walked over to stand next to Hotch who was watching Rossi explain to Reid about his new membership in the Wine of the Month Club.
Hotch told everyone they had to complete at least their reports on the San Francisco case before they could go home, but they didn't have to stay until the end of the day. Emily finished quickly and was heading out to her car, when she heard her name being called across the parking lot.
"Emily!" She turned to see JJ jogging out of the building, over to her car. "Em," the blonde said breathlessly as she neared her. "Hey."
"Um, hi?" Emily was more than slightly confused why JJ was chasing her out of work.
"Er, can we talk?" JJ asked, looking slightly nervous and glancing around the parking lot to see if anyone was near.
"Um, sure," Emily hesitated, slightly annoyed, but suddenly very nervous herself.
Where is this going…
"I just," JJ paused, seeming unsure of herself. "I wanted to make sure things were okay, I mean between us?" She glanced up at Emily and quickly continued, "I just mean because you seemed upset wit me earlier and I don't know what I did – "
"JJ," Emily interrupted, fed up with these games and quite exasperated with her coworker. "What is it that you want?"
JJ looked taken aback, and momentarily confused. "Um, wha-what do you mean?"
"Us." Emily stated bluntly, her fears about her feelings becoming overruled by a fresh frustration towards the young woman.
JJ shook her head slowly, still looking confused.
"One minute, you can't keep your hands off me. The minute, you won't look at me. The next day," Emily said pointedly, "You're staring at my chest."
JJ's face turned a deep shade of red and Emily knew she hadn't been mistaken about where JJ's eyes had been concentrated during Reid's party.
"So what is it? We kissed." JJ looked away, but Emily continued. "It happened. It doesn't have to mean anything, but the way you're acting, I do not understand what it is you want."
"I…" JJ looked hesitantly up, meeting Emily's eyes. "I, um…"
Emily's gaze was distracted over JJ's head, where Reid and Morgan were emerging from the office building. She looked back at JJ who was playing nervously with her keys, still not forming a coherent sentence.
"Look," Emily said, sighing heavily. "I have to leave. I'm late for an appointment. If you want to finish this conversation, let me know." Before JJ could say anything else, and before her wide blue eyes could melt Emily's heart and dissapate all her frustration, she climbed in her car and shut the door. Taking a deep breath and trying to grasp the reality of what she just did, Emily turned on her car and pulled out of the lot, resisting the urge to look back at JJ.
chapter 10 : Unknown Subject
Upon arriving home, Emily tossed her bag into the corner and collapsed onto her couch. She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Instinctively, she brought her fingers to her mouth, but caught herself before she started biting. She had her final therapy session tomorrow, and if she was going to convince Dr. Merrill that she was coping well, she was going to have to at least appear that her anxiety level was down.
Dropping her hands, Emily sighed loudly and closed her eyes. Immediately, a million thoughts consumed her mind. JJ, the conversation she'd had with Reid in San Francisco, wondering how Reid was feeling towards her now, JJ, last night's nightmare of Doyle, how she felt about being back at work, how her team felt about her being back at work, her mother, Declan, JJ,..
"Sergio," Emily's eyes flew open as she felt the cat jump up beside her on the couch. "How's my handsome man doing today?" she smiled as he made himself comfortable in her lap. Scratching behind Sergio's ears reminded Emily of the lie she had told Dr. Merrill in one of their earlier sessions:
"How about progress forming new relationships, Emily?" The doctor had inquired. "You have a whole new life here, in a sense. How are things going with friends, family, romantic relationships…?"
Oh actually," Emily had said, mustering up as much fake enthusiasm as she could, "I have started seeing someone. His name is Sergio."
Dr. Merrill had seemed genuinely impressed. "That's quite a step."
Emily smiled bitterly at the memory. She knew what strings to pull and exactly how to act to get people to think she was dealing well. However, remembering the invented relationship drew her thoughts eventually to JJ, which only exhausted her further and did nothing to improve her mood.
Emily hadn't planned on confronting JJ about her behavior in the parking lot. She actually just planned on letting things continue the way they were, as much as it frustrated her. But JJ's little "are we okay?" routine was getting really old. It was like she deliberately misled Emily with flirting and a seemingly genuine desire to be close to her, then pulled away, then acted all confused when Emily was distant.
The brunette drummed her fingers on the couch, absent-mindedly stroking Sergio with her other hand. All the bullshit with JJ stressed her out. She didn't know what consequences her directness would have with young blonde, and she didn't really have the energy to go through all the scenarios. But her mind still agonized over it anyway.
What if she completely ignores you again? She might react like that, be so scared by your assumption that she had feelings for you that she completely withdraws again...
Emily let out a heavy sigh, frustrated with her inability to shut the "JJ box" in her head.
"Who the hell cares how she reacts?" Emily said out loud, causing Sergio to look up at her. "Right, Serg? We don't care. She just needs to make up her mind." The cat seemed only to care about the attention he was getting, as he nudged her hand to continue petting his head.
"That's right," she smiled at him. "Less JJ, more scratching."
Emily chewed her bottom lip, wishing she could forget the blonde as easily as Sergio apparently could. As if she needed any more stress, with this stupid therapy session hanging over her head.
The next morning, Emily was sitting in that chair, counting the ways her life had changed since the whole ordeal with Ian Doyle.
"Emily." Dr. Merrill's voice broke through her parade of thoughts.
She looked up, slightly confused, not quite sure if she was supposed to be answering a question or not.
"I said, this is our last session," Dr. Merrill repeated. "It doesn't have to be goodbye though, my door is always open."
Emily tried to hide her smirk at the clichéd phrase.
"Thank you," she nodded at the doctor. "But, um…I feel good!" She made sure her body language was correctly corresponding to the words, and offered Dr. Merrill a smile. "You know? Ready."
The doctor smiled. "Good. How are your nails?" Emily knew the question was coming, and even though she hated feeling like a child, she held up her fingers for the therapist to see.
"Three days, no biting," she said making sure the pride was evident in her voice.
"Are you sleeping?"
"I am," Emily said proudly again. "Uh…it's been two weeks since the last dream." The word dream was deliberate. "Nightmares" weren't normal, but dreams, everyone had dreams.
"They may not have gone away completely," Dr. Merrill said and Emily nodded, a pleasant smile still pasted across her face.
"Correct me if I'm wrong," the doctor continued, "but you never had the chance to mourn your own death, did you?"
The question was unexpected and caught the profiler off guard. "I…um…" Emily had no idea what to say. "Mourn my own death?" No, people don't "mourn their own deaths." They die, and that's it. So what the fuck does that even mean. She shook her head, frowning slightly, but not too much. "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question…"
"As part of protecting your identity, your team had to bury you. They lost someone they loved," Dr. Merrill explained. "Maybe you did too." She paused, cocking her head at Emily, as though she was trying to read her reaction. "Think about it."
"I will," Emily nodded as she deliberately disregarded what the doctor had just said, not allowing her thoughts to veer from the present moment and immediate goal: getting cleared by this shrink.
Fifteen relatively painless minutes later, Emily was seated in the conference room with the rest of the team, listening to Penelope brief them on a case in Houston.
She had missed the first part of what Garcia had said, her mind choosing to replay Dr. Merrill's words.
"Your team had to bury you. They lost someone they loved. Maybe you did too."
"So Houston PD needs our boots on the ground in the Piano Man case," Garcia was saying, and Emily looked up, trying very hard to stop dwelling on her therapy appointment.
"The serial rapist?" Morgan asked, looking somewhat confused.
"Yes. The case we consulted on about eight months ago," Hotch interjected. "Twelve victims over five years, crossing racial and social lines…ages too."
"He knocks them out with a date-rape drug, and binds them with piano wire," Rossi said, the disgust evident in his voice.
"They wake up with no memory of the assault," JJ spoke up and Emily glanced at her briefly from across the table. She hadn't really interacted with JJ since the previous day when she confronted her in the parking lot. Although there hadn't been a chance for the two of them to speak given Emily's morning, she was taking the fact that JJ hadn't tried to call her or contact her in any way as an answer in and of itself. Given the content of her morning though, Emily couldn't help but look at the blonde and wonder how JJ dealt with her "death." Did she feel like she lost someone she loved, even though she knew Emily was still alive?
"They don't remember how they got the permanent scar the wire leaves," the young woman was finishing her sentence and Emily looked back at the photos projected on the screen, pushing her questions about the blonde out of her head for now.
"So he's branding his victims," she commented, making a concerted effort to put all her attention onto analyzing the facts of the case. "How does he does them?"
Well," Garcia frowned, "Houston PD still isn't sure. Because date-rape drugs metabolize quickly, and he's keeping them for twelve hours."
"So why are they calling us in now?" Morgan asked the question that was on everyone's mind.
"Because with these latest attacks, this piece of work has elevated sick and twisted to a whole new dimension," Garcia answered as she projected new photos on the screen. It appeared that the unsub was going back and attacking his previous victims, with slight changes in M.O.
"Vanessa Campbell and her husband moved to a new address, they put locks on the door, she even knew what to do if she was dosed again, and it still wasn't enough," Emily said, seeing the photo evidence that one of the victims had drank a homemade emetic, vomited, and was still subdued and abducted from her own home. "That's what he gets out of it."
"Their fear," Hotch added. "He wants them to know that no matter what, he can still get to them." Everyone around the table nodded. Emily couldn't help but think that Hotch's words reminded her of Ian. The way that he had come back for her, infiltrated her life, flashing his power, making sure she knew that he was in control…
She blinked hard against the memories and tried to tell herself that she was nothing like these victims. This had nothing to do with her.
Emily boarded the jet, still exhausted from her early morning. She was really hoping to get a nap in on the flight to Houton.
"Oh!" She said, stopping when she realized that Hotch was the only member of the team present on the plane. "I'm sorry, I thought you said 10:30." She checked her watch to make sure she had the right time.
"I did," Hotch said, looking up from the case folder he was browsing. "For you. Have a seat."
Emily wasn't sure she liked where this was going. She knew Dr. Merrill had cleared her, and she wasn't sure what else Hotch could want to discuss. She reluctantly took a seat across from him and folded her hands in her lap.
"I received Dr. Merrill's assessment," he began. "I wanted to review it with you."
Emily toyed with her fingernails, fighting the urge to bring them to her mouth or pick at them.
"Here?" she asked, slightly confused as to why they were having this sort of meeting on the jet.
"Well," Hotch smiled slightly. "I get tired of being profiled through my office window." Emily didn't smile, even though it was humorously true that every time Hotch had a meeting with anyone, the rest of the team watched through the window and tried to assess what was happening.
"Well, what is there to discuss?" Emily asked, trying to keep her voice sounding light and casual. "She gave me a clean bill of health."
Hotch glanced down at the case folder in his hands that Emily then realized was not a case folder at all, but Dr. Merrill's assessment.
"The patient shows no hesitation tackling difficult goals as part of reintegrating into her life," Hotch read, glancing up at Emily, who merely nodded. Everything seems okay so far…
"She has reached out to her mother," He read emphatically, giving Emily a very pointed look, as he knew that to be lie.
"I'm going to," Emily interrupted hurriedly, realizing that she was about to hear all the falsities she'd told Dr. Merrill repeated back to her. It wasn't the Doctor's assessment she had to worry about – it was Hotch. Why did this not occur to me before?
"-and has started a romantic relationship with a man named 'Sergio,'" Hotch looked up at her, slight amusement in his eyes, but he wasn't smiling.
Emily looked down, clearing her throat. There was no explaining this one away.
"Now," Hotch said, drawing her attention back to him. "I don't care if you lie to your therapist. All I care about is how your behavior affects your job."
"I…don't think it has," Emily frowned, wondering what the man could possibly be talking about. She had made sure that her job performance was impeccable and that no one had any reason to think she wasn't doing well, or that she shouldn't be in the field.
Hotch looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "You've been overcompensating," he said, causing Emily to bristle. She had not been "overcompensating." She had had to lie to her closest friends and coworkers, and revealing that lie meant she needed to repair relationships and regain trust. She just wanted to get things back to normal, and had been making an extra effort to do that.
"How have I – "
"You rushed to repair your relationship with Morgan," Hotch interjected. "You've become an emotional sounding board for Reid and Rossi."
"That's being a good friend," Emily defended herself, not appreciating the fact that Hotch was including all of this as part of her job performance. If he had to "die" and then come back, he might understand the need to prove yourself to your friends, to prove that you're there for them and care about them.
"You offered me parenting advice," he finished, causing Emily to pause.
Well…he kind of has me there. Maybe that was a little bit much.
"Okay, okay…So maybe I have been working a little bit harder to regain people's trust," she conceded. "But is that such a bad thing?"
"No," Hotch said, looking at her sincerely. "it only is if you use it to avoid dealing with what you went through."
Oh so that is what this is about, Emily thought.
"But I'm not," she said sincerely, shaking her head. "I chose to come back here. Why? Because I care about the people I work with? Yes. But also because it's clean. I know who the good guys and the bad guys are…I don't have to worry about, screwing someone over to make a case." She finished, and Hotch remained silent.
"Ok," He said after a moment, still eying her. "I want you to make me a deal. You're going to go weeks, months even, feeling fine. Then, you're going to have a bad day." He held her gaze. "Just let me know when you do."
"And that's it?" Emily asked, expecting to hear something much more involved.
"Deal," Emily said and Hotch nodded, handing her the folder containing the assessment.
"Sergio?" He asked, raising an eyebrow and giving her a half smile.
Emily sighed and leaned back in her seat. "He is the perfect man. He doesn't hog the covers and he poops in a box." She looked up at Hotch who was genuinely smiling at her.
"Good to know you've found someone special," he joked. At that moment, JJ appeared in the doorway, along with the rest of the team, laughing at something Reid was saying.
"Yeah," she said softly, quickly looked away from the blonde and glancing down to play with the folder on the table. "He's a keeper."
Hotch nodded at her, giving her one last smile before he moved over to make room for Rossi and Morgan in the seats next to them.
Arriving in Houston, the team found out that since the press had broken the story, three more women had come forward and admitted that they had been re-assaulted. The only evidence they had was a partial fingerprint from the very first victim's glasses. There was nothing to match it to, however, since the other women had waited so long any evidence from their cases was considered contaminated.
Apparently, Emily's luck at avoiding JJ had come to an end, because Hotch paired them up to interview the victims. She had to sit next to the blonde and her perfect hair, and stay focused on the task at hand. JJ still hadn't said a word to her directly, and it was really starting to piss Emily off.
She could at least apologize for her fucking mixed signals. Or for being an ass whenever she got uncomfortable, Emily fumed during one particularly long break between interviews.
It wasn't until the third interview when the woman asked to take a smoke break, when the two profilers finally turned to look at each other. As the woman went outside to smoke, JJ turned to Emily.
"It can't be a coincidence that they all smoke, right?"
Emily shook her head. "I don't think so…" She paused. That's it. "JJ," she said, not realizing she'd used the blonde's name until JJ turned, looking slightly startled. Brushing off the inadvertent intimacy, Emily continued, "I think that's how he's drugging them. Rossi said it couldn't be through their stomachs because the CSI's didn't find any traces of date-rape drugs in Vanessa Campbell's vomit. But if they were inhaling it…"
"It would be absorbed right into their bloodstream through their lungs," JJ finished her sentence. "And it would metabolize even faster than if they swallowed a pill."
"Exactly," Emily concluded. "We need to start asking these women when they started smoking." JJ nodded enthusiastically at her, and the women sat there, staring at each other for a moment before they remembered their current position. They both quickly looked away, JJ busying herself flipping through her notes and Emily toying with her phone.
This is so stupid, she thought. Why does she have to make everything so fucking difficult?
They managed to finish the interviews without much more interaction. They realized that all the women were smokers before they were assaulted the first time, which seemed to confirm their theory about the drugs. Emily called to inform Reid who was at Vanessa Campbell's house with Morgan examining the crime scene and interviewing her husband.
Later that night, the police found Vanessa Campbell's body dumped on the side of the road. The M.E. found a piece of neoprene glove in her throat, which indicated that at some point, she had regained consciousness and fought back against the Piano Man.
The next morning, while Emily was reviewing some of the facts with Hotch, one of the women she had interviewed, Diane Mitchell, showed up at the station.
"I heard he killed Vanessa," Diane explained when Emily was quite surprised to see her there. "He could be after any one of us now." The woman looked terrified, and Emily didn't quite know what to say, but Diane continued. "I wasn't completely honest before. I did regain some consciousness during the second assault."
"Okay," Emily nodded. "Let's go somewhere else to talk." She led Diane back to the interview room, where she began to tell her story.
"There were a couple things different than what you said though," Diane explained. "He didn't tie me up. And there wasn't a song. He talked to me, but there wasn't a song."
"Do you remember what he said?" Emily asked gently, not wanting to upset the clearly on edge woman.
"No," Diane shook her head. "When he was done, he bashed my head into the floor of his van." She paused, obviously lost in thought. Emily waited a moment, not wanting to push.
"Sometimes in my dreams," Diane finally spoke, "I can still hear his voice." Again, Emily's brain was trigged and flooded with memories of her own nightmares, Doyle whispering in her ear, telling her he was going to take her life. She tried to hide her shudder by shifting in her seat, but it appeared Diane was too absorbed in her own memories to notice Emily's behavior.
This has nothing to do with you, she tried to remind herself sternly. You're fine, you're not letting this affect your job. Get it together.
Thankfully, the interview was ended by Hotch knocking on the door. The rest of the team had arrested Herman Scobie, a hospital orderly who rotated shifts at all the hospitals the victims used, and who happened to be allergic to latex, providing an explanation for the piece of neoprene glove found in Vanessa Campbell's throat.
JJ was standing next to Diane, watching as Emily went in to question Herman Scobie. Hotch was allowing Diane to observe, with JJ's supervision, in case anything triggered her memory.
"Where's my lawyer?" JJ watched Scobie demand immediately when Emily entered the room.
"Oh, we called him. He's on his way," Emily lied convincingly. "I'll tell you what, I'll let him fill you in on the Piano Man investigation." She turned to leave the room, and JJ knew she was baiting him.
"Uh, the what?" Scobie bit.
"The Piano Man," Prentiss called, pausing with the door slightly open. "You might have read about him."
"A little," Scobie replied, his eyes still on Emily. "What, you think I'm him?"
As she watched, JJ couldn't help but be thoroughly impressed by the brunette's interrogation skills. She could manipulate an unsub almost as good as Rossi.
"No." Emily said, shutting the door and turning back into the room. "At least, I don't." She took a seat across from Scobie, and placed her hands on the table. JJ could only see the back of her, but she knew very well that the way Emily was leaning forward on the table and the way her shirt was cut, was revealing quite the view for Herman.
"The problem is," Emily was saying, "the way you treat some of your dates is a little similar to this guy." Scobie just raised his eyebrows.
"Now, I'm not judging," Emily assured him. "Some guys like it rough. In fact," she paused. "Well, never mind."
JJ heard her tone of voice, watched her body language, and she knew Emily was flirting with this guy. Obviously, it was to manipulate him to talk, but JJ couldn't help but be slightly aroused watching Emily. The thing was, she knew Emily had a wild side – "Sin to Win" weekends in Atlantic City and the like – and she had often wondered what Emily would be like in bed.
You have not often wondered. Stop it. Focus goddamn it. And NOT on her ass.
Emily had stood up, feigning like she was about to leave the room again, and of course, JJ's eyes had been drawn to certain parts of the brunette's anatomy.
"No, go ahead," Scobie took the bait again, not that JJ could blame him. With Emily talking like that, if she was on the other side of that table, she would start singing to keep the dark-haired woman in the room.
"Um, no," Emily tossed her hair and looked down at the man. "I can't."
My god her voice. JJ smiled, very much enjoying watching her coworker work her magic.
"Maybe you already did," Scobie said, leaning forward across the table, giving Emily a meaningful look. The profiler seemed to decide this was enough, because she sat back down.
"Most of the people here aren't as," she paused and JJ could only imagine the look on her face at that moment, "as understanding as I am," Emily finished. "So, between us…did you ever get a little too rough?"
"Never," Scobie answered, although the way he was looking at Emily made JJ extremely uncomfortable. Suddenly, JJ wanted very much for Emily to drop the whole flirting act. Jealousy, rage, protection, disgust, the overwhelming desire to go in there and beat that perv's head in for eyeing Emily like that, consumed JJ. She stiffened, crossing her arms and drawing in a sharp breath as she watched Emily continue.
"What about those naughty girls who came back for seconds?"
"What about them?"
"They're the ones screeching the loudest," Emily answered. "What I need from you is a reason to kick them to the curb."
"Look at the notches on their bedpost," Scobie answered and JJ felt Diane shift slightly next to her. "You think they're innocent?" he continued and Emily laughed, although JJ knew her well enough to know the laugh was one of disbelieving disgust at this guy's attitude.
"Besides," Scobie said, leaning in towards Emily. "Nobody believes a slut who cries wolf."
Diane gasped. The sentence was the exact same wording she had used in her interview with JJ and Emily, and JJ immediately knew where it had come from, even if Diane hadn't known herself.
"Huh," Emily let out a scoffing laugh. "I'm going to quote you on that." She stood up and turned to look at JJ through the glass. Emily's face was a look of fury, a far cry from the flirtatious smile that had been there seconds before.
As Emily came out into the observation area, she exchanged a look with JJ, who was putting her arm around Diane. The woman was struggling not to completely break down.
"That was just something I told myself after the second time," she cried. "How did he know…"
"Your brain remembers details no matter how hard you try to forget," JJ said slowly. "It's just like the song."
"It's him," Diane said, staring at the man through the glass, and JJ watched Emily go inform the rest of the team.
It was while searching Herman Scobie's house to build evidence for the case that Reid's genius realized the man was too young to be the Piano Man. He may have attacked Diane the second time, but he didn't kill Vanessa Campbell, and wasn't the original rapist.
Armed with that information, and the fact that the real Piano Man was trying to frame him for the murder of Vanessa Campbell, Hotch and Emily went back to talk to Scobie.
Due to Hotch's intimidating scowl, it didn't take long for Scobie to start explaining that he was choosing his victims based on their hospital records, and that's how he knew who had been attacked by the Piano Man. He said that he had figured no one would believe their claims a second time. The story was disgusting, but Scobie didn't have any information on who the actual Piano Man was. He did say, however, that he had been deciding between two women for his next victim and had chosen Vanessa Campbell, but the Piano Man got to her first. The other woman was Regina Lampert, the Piano Man's first victim.
Hotch and Emily left the interrogation room and Hotch immediately called Garcia and told her to get in touch with Regina Lampert. Garcia's calls went unanswered, but she found a surveillance video from the bar where Regina worked. On the video, Regina was talking to the man playing the piano, with whom she appeared to leave from the footage at closing time. Garcia added that the man's name was Hamilton Bartholemew, and that his wife had filed a missing person's report on him that morning.
Hotch immediately ordered the team to head to Regina Lampert's house, and for Garcia to run the partial fingerprint from Regina's glasses from the first attack, against Bartholemew's.
On their way to the Lampert residence, Emily got a call.
"It's a match," she told Hotch who was driving the SUV. "Hamilton Bartholemew is the Piano Man."
"She's going to kill him, if he's not already dead," Hotch commented, speeding up.
Emily felt her body tense. She understood the desire to get revenge, to torture someone to make up for the suffering they'd caused, but she hated to see a victim end up behind bars because they took justice into their own hands.
Pulling up to the house and hearing a gunshot, the team sprang from their cars and burst through the front door, guns drawn. Emily was first, and saw Regina with a gun pointed at Bartholemew's head. It was pretty much exactly what she feared they would find.
"Regina," Emily started, trying to calm the woman. "This man is not who you think he is."
Regina didn't back down. "I have waited five years for this," she said, tightening her grip on the gun.
"We ran the rape kit, Regina," Emily said, inching forward. "The fingerprint the police got off your glasses, do you remember?" She could tell that Regina was listening to her now. "We compared it to Hamilton's. It didn't match." Regina looked at her with a pained look on her face. She shook her head, and looked from Emily to Hotch, who stayed silent.
"That's impossible," she breathed, looking back to the man lying on the ground. "That's him. It's him."
"If you pull that trigger," Emily continued, "You're going to kill an innocent man." She didn't like lying to this woman at all, but she couldn't think of another way to prevent her from making a terrible mistake.
That did the trick. Regina, still shaking her head, crying in disbelief, lowered her weapon and Emily moved in. She had to cuff Regina because of the abduction circumstances, and it turned out to be a good thing because as they were exiting the house, Regina saw Morgan putting handcuffs on Hamilton.
"Hamilton Bartholemew, you're under arrest for the rape of 12 women and the murder of Vanessa Campbell," Emily heard Morgan saying and her heart sank. She knew Regina had seen. She would have found out anyway, but Emily had hoped they'd at least be able to get back to the police station first. Regina turned and looked at Emily with a look of horrified fury. Tears fell down her cheeks as she began to protest.
"You should've let me…why didn't you let me kill him! He would be dead! He would be…" her voice trailed off into tears, and Emily had to exert significant strength to steer her away from Hamilton and into one of the vehicles.
You made the right choice, Emily told herself as she climbed into the front seat, her heart breaking for the woman who was still crying in protest. She would be going to jail right now if you hadn't stopped her.
Back at the police station, Hotch told Emily that Regina insisted that she be the one to take her statement.
The brunette nodded, exhausted, but she felt a sort of obligation as she still identified with this case more than she cared to admit.
She walked into the interrogation room and took the seat opposite Regina.
"I was told that you would only give your statement to me," Emily said, setting her pad and pen down on the table between them.
"Why didn't you let me pull the trigger?" Regina asked immediately, looking at Emily with an empty expression. She looked empty, devastated.
"Because you would be in prison," Emily answered, still convincing herself that it was the right decision.
"As opposed to where I am right now?" The red haired woman sat back in her chair, staring at Emily, daring her to answer. "I mean, while he gets a lawyer. And a fair trial…"
"He will never see the light of day," Emily said, trying to reassure her. "Ever."
"Can you guarantee that?" Regina challenged, and Emily just blinked. The honest answer was no, she couldn't. And for once she didn't know what to say.
"You know," Regina broke the silence. "When they talk about victims getting revictimized by the system, they mean you."
The statement jabbed Emily. She was supposed to be one of the good guys, but she couldn't help wondering if Regina was right. She hesitated again, not knowing how to make the woman feel better. "I know it's hard, but-"
"No, you don't," Regina interrupted. "You have no idea what it's like when the monster from your nightmares comes back for you."
"The monster from your nightmares." Ian Doyle's face flashed in Emily's mind. His voice. His fists against her ribs; the burn of his brand on her chest; his face, laughing down at her as she lay bleeding on the floor of that warehouse.
Emily looked down at the table, trying to push the horrific memories out of her head. Nervously, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and could no longer meet the woman's gaze.
"Wait…" Regina paused, obviously noticing the shift in Emily's behavior.
"Look," Emily said, trying to recover before Regina could get any further. "I'm here as a courtesy…" she fumbled for words, still unable to meet the other woman's eye.
"Something happened to you," Regina continued as she studied Emily's face.
Emily shook her head, as if that could make the subject go away. "So, do you want to give me your statement or not?"
"What'd you do," Regina leaned across the table, looking directly into the profiler's eyes. "Did you arrest him, like a good FBI agent? Or did you kill him." It was a statement more than a question.
Emily closed her eyes, willing to be anywhere else, anyone else. She couldn't stop the reel of memories though: from when she got the call that Ian was back in the States, to when she realized he knew who and where she was, to her first sight of him, packing her bag and getting out of her apartment, going after him, with the full intention of killing him…
"I didn't pull the trigger," she said finally, opening her eyes and looking at the broken woman in front of her.
"Still." Regina didn't back away. "You're monster's dead."
Emily just stared. She suddenly felt as though everything were wrong. She had told Hotch that this job was clean, but she was wrong. There was nothing clean about this. There were no clear lines between good guys and bad guys. Where did Regina fit in those categories? Where did she fit?
All the stability Emily had relied on suddenly collapsed. She didn't know who she was, or what she was doing, sitting here telling this woman that she "saved her from a life in prison" when in reality, her whole life was still going to be a prison as long as that man was still alive. Even if he was dead. Doyle was dead, but he was still seemed to run Emily's life.
"I have to live with mine," Regina said, still staring at Emily. She tapped the legal pad sitting between them. "That's my statement."
JJ hadn't seen Emily taking down Regina Lampert's statement, but she didn't imagine it could have gone well. The red-haired woman had been screaming and crying, hurling insults and fury at Emily as she walked her into the station. From all the yelling and a brief conversation with Morgan, JJ had gathered that Emily talked Regina out of shooting the Piano Man by lying to her.
Needless to say, JJ was significantly surprised when she walked past the front of the police station and noticed Emily standing outside, talking with Regina. The woman was being allowed to go home, no charges were to be filed against her.
JJ watched as the two conversed. Neither looked angry, in fact JJ could tell that they were both being especially gentle with each other. At one point, Emily hugged Regina, her hand lingering on the woman's arm as she pulled away to say something else to her. A harsh jealousy immediately sprang up inside JJ as she watched the scene.
Okay, I get comforting the victim, but seriously. Now she's just flirting.
Frowning, JJ shifted and continued to watch as Emily handed Regina her card. She could see Emily clearly saying "Call me if you need anything. Anytime."
And Regina was just eating it all up. She leaned in and embraced Emily again.
Thirty minutes ago she was furious at Emily, now she can't keep her damn hands off her, JJ thought angrily as she turned away from the window, unable to watch any more, and went to go gather her things.
Stalking down the hall, trying to push the image of Emily lingering on Regina's arm out of her mind, JJ almost walked headlong into the brunette.
"Oh! Sorry," Emily said, reaching out to steady JJ. "Where are you off to in such a hurry?"
"Trying to get ready to leave," JJ said shortly, moving herself away from the older woman's touch and completely avoiding her eyes.
"Oh, right. Wheel's up soon, yeah? I better get my stuff too," Emily offered a small smile and moved to continue on her way.
"How was Regina?" JJ said before she could stop herself. She couldn't help it. She didn't get why, but seeing the two of them so friendly had really set her on edge.
Emily looked slightly taken aback at the blunt question. "Um, she was pretty shaken up, and angry at me..." the brunette trailed off, shrugging slightly and looked as though she was about to walk away.
"Didn't look like she was too angry," JJ muttered, rolling her eyes.
Emily immediately stopped, turning to face JJ. "What is that supposed to mean?"
JJ let herself become indignant at Emily's angry tone. "Just that you guys looked awful friendly in the parking lot, that's all," she said, meeting Emily's eyes with equal intensity.
"You have got to be kidding me," Emily scoffed. She shook her head at the blonde.
"You were – she was flirting with you!" JJ blurted out, flushing. "And you weren't exactly not encouraging her!"
Emily's mouth dropped open in disbelief. "I cannot believe..." She shook her head again, obviously growing increasingly angry. "No. You know what, JJ, I don't have the time or the energy for your crap right now," she snapped, pushing past the blonde. She only took a few steps before she stopped and turned back. "And why are you even acting like you have some right to care?" she yelled. "It's not like you...you don't even..." Unable to finish her sentence, Emily just threw up her hands and strode angrily away down the hall.
JJ was left standing there, trembling from her own frustration. Well...she was flirting, JJ attempted to justify herself. It was unprofessional. That's why I care. Obviously.
Despite her reasoning, Emily's words, the ones that JJ had been avoiding for days, echoed in her head. "JJ, what is it that you want?"
JJ was still maintaining her irritation at Emily when she boarded the jet half an hour later. She was slightly early, but she just wanted to be alone and really wasn't in the mood for Morgan and Reid's joking. She had a right to be angry at Emily. She was flirting with a victim! And…it was…Even more infuriating that she was right about you sending her completely contradictory signals? Yeah, I can see why that would make you angry.
JJ bit her lip, not appreciating the voice of reason choosing that moment to speak up.
Walking into the cabin, she saw Hotch sitting facing the door, talking to someone she quickly realized to be Emily.
JJ saw the brunette follow Hotch's gaze, turning to look over her shoulder. JJ could immediately tell that she had been crying.
"I…" Words caught in her throat as her eyes met Emily's. She wasn't sure if she should stay or go, as worry about Emily flooded her gut, combined with guilt about the fact that she had just yelled at the woman not thirty minutes ago.
"I'm so sorry," JJ managed, finally finding her voice and Emily looked away, turning back towards Hotch. "I didn't think…I didn't know you guys were meeting…"
Hotch nodded at her. "It's okay, JJ," he said before she could say anything else. "Can you give us a minute?" His tone communicated clearly that it wasn't really a request. JJ nodded silently and hurried off the plane. Out on the tarmac, she stood, feeling like a complete ass.
Oh god. I hope everything is okay…I can't believe I was such a jerk to her. JJ ran her fingers through her hair and glanced back up at the plane. It wasn't often that she had witness Emily crying, and seeing her face…it broke JJ's heart. She wanted to go to Emily, to hold her, to tell her she was sorry…
"Hey JJ, is everything ok?" Reid, Morgan and Rossi were approaching from the hangar laden with their bags.
"Oh! Um, yeah," JJ rearranged her face into a friendly smile. "I was just waiting to get on the plane. You know, enjoying the fresh air before the long flight…"
Rossi smiled. "It's certainly going to be colder when we get back. Better enjoy the warm air while you can."
JJ nodded and flashed him a quick grin. She couldn't think of anything else to say to stall them as they began to pass her and climb the stairs onto the jet. She just hoped Hotch and Emily had taken note of the time.
When they all entered the cabin, Hotch was pouring himself a glass of water and Emily was reading a book. Both of them looked like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. JJ watched Emily apprehensively, wanting very much to go sit by the brunette and take her hand, to apologize, to make sure everything was okay…But she was too afraid that might just make things worse. Instead, JJ took a seat next to Reid, and spent the flight watching the young man beat the pants off of Morgan at chess.
That night, Emily arrived home with too many emotions gathered over the lst two days. She slammed the door behind her as she entered her condo and threw her purse onto the counter. She went immediately to the cupboard, and grabbed a glass with the complete intention of filling it full of whiskey. Staring at the liquor bottle in her right hand and the empty glass in her left, unbridled rage filled her body. Ian Doyle had stolen her life from her. He was dead, and he STILL had the power to fill her with fear.
"Sometimes in my dreams, I can still hear his voice."
Emily's grip on the glass tightened at the memory of Diane's words.
" Your monster is dead."
"Your team buried you. They lost someone they loved. Maybe you did too."
"FUCK!" Emily screamed, unable to silence the echoes in her head. She turned, hurling the empty glass against the far wall, watching it shatter as shards of glass scattered all over the kitchen. She sank to the floor, the unopened bottle falling beside her.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck! She repeated silently, her eyes shut tight.
Tears stung her cheeks, despite her clenched jaw holding back sobs. Emily Prentiss was dead. Her life was over. Ian Doyle hadn't succeeded in killing her, but he had somehow managed to end her life.
The thought wasn't comforting at all, but for some reason it quelled the flow of tears. Wiping her eyes, Emily slowly looked around her silent kitchen. This wasn't working. This place belonged to a dead woman. She needed to get out of here. Needed a new life. That was the answer.
Suddenly strangely calm, Emily stood up and walked numbly upstairs to her room. She pulled a suitcase out of her closet, and throwing it open on her bed, she began to pack.
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