DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: These stories are only loosely connected, so while it might be helpful, itís not really necessary to read the others before this one.
THANK YOU: To fewthistle for nagging, begging, cajoling, encouraging, and then, not only giving me ideas for the direction, but for the outfits our ladies wear as well. I cannot thank her enough. Any mistakes are mine.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Elements of Emotion: Want
If trust was the rarest and most precious of emotional elements, then Want, JJ held, was the most common, and often the cheapest. Want wasn't just common in occurrence, but in nature. The forms of want were many and varied; it came in a thousand different shades and purities, in an infinite variety of combinations and strengths.
Mostly, JJ saw want as harmless and small. It was evident in the familiar craving for chocolate at the end of the long day and the sluggish slapping of the snooze button just one more time on a cold morning. Want was the basis of a multitude of useless, insignificant choices this sweater or that flavor of coffee that people thought little about each day, even as they made them.
But want could also be petty and cruel, dirty and shameful. There were so many wants that were never shown the light of day. Instead they were buried, ignored, kept locked away in the dark, dingy places of hearts and covered over with the flaking spackle of civility and respectability. There were also wants that should never see the light of day, the kinds of wants that kept divorce attorneys and psychologists employed.
Want could be pure, JJ believed. Like the transformation of carbon into diamonds by heat, time, and pressure, sometimes want - under precisely the correct circumstances - could be transformed into a thing of exquisite beauty and universal awe. Want could become passion and drive and love. The desire for freedom, the wish to better the lives of others, the need to help those in pain, the love of a parent for a child that leads them to sacrifice everything for that child's safety and the love of one person for another; these forms of want were the most precious, and they drew others to admire them, to want them for themselves, and often, to fail.
Because ultimately the process - the evolution of want - was flawed. The material was either too weak or the precise conditions weren't met, or another element usually fear was introduced and the want lost its purity, becoming muddied and weak. The result being that, instead of diamonds, only black, dirty, clinging coal was produced.
There were times JJ imagined she could almost see the filthy dust of mutated want still lingering on the hands and souls and clouding the eyes of the unsubs they caught.
JJ had known want all her life. She was after all, human. For the most part, her desires had always been simple and small: food, shelter, the love and respect of family and friends, career goals; things whose importance waxed and waned as she traveled her life's road. She had felt want for others before though rarely and always the want had been safe, fulfilling, careful, easily controllable and as like what she now felt for Emily as a candle is to a summer wildfire.
Thick, deep and consuming, JJ's desire for Emily was multihued and complex. Like the facets of a newly cut diamond, it glittered with a thousand tiny points of light and color. And like the most valuable of those gems in the hands of a master jeweler, each facet had been shaped slowly, not creating, but rather painstakingly revealing the radiance and light that lay already within.
Somehow, between the increasing warmth of the looks that passed between them and the pressure of their jobs; between time spent in heated pursuit of the darkest aspects of human nature and time shared in healing, restful moments in each other's quiet presence, JJ's feelings for Emily coalesced, transforming until they became achingly, blindingly clear to her. Jennifer Jareau wanted Emily Prentiss. Badly.
She didn't want Emily with just her mind, or even just her heart, she wanted her with every fiber of her being. It was as if desire was a code, stamped over and over in her DNA until every cell in her body became attuned to the darker woman's presence. So much so that simply being near Emily could ease something in her, no matter how dark the case or how tangled her emotions. Conversely, since the night in Emily's apartment - where they had spent hours doing nothing more than talking about their pasts, connected only by the casual touch of hands or the brush of cotton clad knees JJ felt the absence of that presence with a keening, almost physical ache.
Never before had JJ experienced anything like this. That it was seemingly only growing stronger should have been a source of concern for her. She should have been afraid of the way her reactions to Emily were growing more instinctive and less rational, and yet And yet she couldn't seem to stop the almost giddy rush of pleasure that swept her at the thought of time spent in Emily's company. She couldn't change the unshakable belief in the things that seemed possible when Emily touched her, and she most certainly couldn't fathom shattering the trust that lay between them. Some days, it seemed to JJ as if she could actually feel the erosion of her will, each second wearing at the last vestiges of control and logic, at that last, sharp sliver of fear that said 'this is too good to be true,' until it fell away, blunted and harmless in the wake of overwhelming want.
And tonight isn't going to help any.
Tonight was the annual awards banquet for the Bureau. Tonight was supposed to be a night of gratification, a night of recognition and reward, a night to fulfill so many wants all but the one Jennifer Jareau truly cared about. Because she knew, with absolute certainty, that seeing Emily tonight, in what her mind happily fantasized would be a dangerously beautiful dress; that sipping slightly flat champagne and making small talk; that being forced to look, but not touch the woman who had come to mean so much, was going to be the worst kind of agony.
It was going to be the kind of agony that can only come from being shown, but ultimately denied, what the heart truly desires.
Because JJ also knew, that for all their trust, for all that Emily made her feel things that ought to be forbidden, for all that she wanted to see those same feelings reflected back at her from dark eyes, the risk the fear of shattering what lay between them was too great, and this was one fear the agent didn't know how to overcome.
Still, when her hands removed her favorite outfit the one with the white silk tuxedo shirt that she knew set off the honeyed tones in her skin so well, and with the long black skirt that hugged just tight enough and had a slit just high enough, to ride the line of propriety from the closet without any apparent direction, she didn't resist.
The ceremony was, if possible, worse than she had imagined. It wasn't because her colleagues (not her 'family' in the BAU, but other agents) were even more insipid, nor because the champagne was flatter (though that didn't stop her from having a second glass); it wasn't because the speeches seemed longer winded, or the eyes of people denied commendations seemed emptier; no, it was because of the damn dress.
Among the monochromatic black and white of tuxedos and the washed out pale shades of most of the women's dresses, Emily stood out, a scarlet jay among the crows. The dress wasn't just red, it was blood red. Deep, rich, the color of life and passion and promise; it was strapless and partly backless, clinging to the darker woman's body in ways that set JJ's to flame and made it nearly impossible to concentrate on what was going on around her.
They were separated now by the crowds of people, but JJ kept catching glimpses of Emily; a smile here, a sliver of crimson silk there, and more than once, a look that seemed to make the distance between them insignificant. A look that had JJ hunting for more champagne to wet a suddenly dry throat. A look that she would have given anything to understand completely.
How she got through the awards she was never quite sure, but the next thing the blonde was truly aware of was having her internal debate about whether leaving now was a strategic retreat or cowardice, interrupted by Emily suddenly appearing at her side.
They stood just apart from the main crowds in a small bit of quieter space near the exit.
Unsure of herself, with her emotions and body so off balance and the slight heat of the alcohol not helping any, JJ found herself at a loss for words. The press liaison felt like a damn teenager, and was just working her way toward indignation at the fact when Emily spoke.
"You look beautiful tonight." Normally JJ would have smiled, laughed even, shrugging away the words like one might be rid of snow or dust clinging to their clothes, but something in the low richness of Emily's voice; in the darkness of her eyes stopped JJ's automatic reaction, stilling the words in her throat so that what came out was far different.
"So do you," the blonde might have cursed at the rawness of her voice, except that right then, because she was looking for it, she saw what she had only counted on dreaming about. She saw desire on Emily's face.
"You know," the darker woman said carefully, as if testing unknown waters. "I have much better champagne back at my apartment. What do you say we ditch this place?"
JJ found herself nodding at what, under other circumstances could have been interpreted as a simple reprieve from a boring party offered by one friend to another, but somehow, with the weight of want behind it, became so much more.
To her credit JJ would muse later, Emily did have good champagne. They even opened it when they arrived.
Standing at the massive panes of glass that overlooked the Capitol, JJ heard the soft pop of the cork and the rush of liquid into crystal. She very deliberately kept her gaze forward, but that didn't stop her focus from straying to the reflection of Emily that overlaid the lights of the city.
Champagne flutes in hand, that reflection approached until the real woman was standing next to JJ, flesh and blood and scent so much better than the picture in the cold glass.
Emily handed JJ one of the glasses, their fingers brushing in the process and JJ felt herself swallow at the sensation that shot through her nerves. They were rapidly approaching a precipice; the turning point that occurs in all moments like these where the decision had to be made: go forward, or turn away.
She watched Emily raise the clear golden liquid to her lips, and it was a catalyst. JJ wanted to feel those lips herself. She wanted to taste Emily, to run her own lips across the delicate skin of that elegant throat and feel the pulse of the darker woman's heartbeat there. She wanted to hear Emily, to learn what things made her cry out and know the timbre of her voice in passion. Mostly though, she wanted to touch Emily, to strip away the practiced mask of her control and see the woman beneath once and for all; not just in small glimpses or infrequent unguarded moments, but in complete surrender.
And while she was thinking about all the things she wanted, Emily put down her glass, removed JJ's from her unresisting grasp and stepped close. JJ could feel the heat of the other woman, like a fine electrical current just at the edge of her perception. Her eyes fluttered as the delicate scent Emily wore teased her senses, further adding to the sheer weight of desire that washed through her, wave upon endless wave until she felt like she might drown of it.
Lost in the sensation and held willing prisoner by the moment, she almost refused when she felt warm hands cup her cheeks and a throaty voice plead,
"JJ, open your eyes."
It was only with a great deal of effort that the blonde agent found she could comply.
Emily looked for an instant on the verge of speaking, but something had snapped inside JJ when she saw in Emily's eyes her own want, reflected perfectly back to her.
Sliding her hands around silk covered curves, JJ pulled the darker woman closer and kissed her.
It was intended as a gentle kiss; a testing and a reaffirmation and a promise of more to come. It was all those things, and much, much more.
So long had she wanted Emily; such was the nature and measure of that want, that the desire became almost a living thing between them. JJ's mouth opened and Emily immediately responded. Their tongues tangled, exploring and tasting as hands echoed their motions, seeking to know every inch of the other. JJ reveled in the taste of champagne on Emily's lips and the satin heat of the skin of her back. Emily's hands slid from her cheeks, down her throat and over her back, one of them moaning at the feeling of their bodies pressing against each other.
As they pulled apart, some last, tiny voice in JJ screamed that they should slow down; that it shouldn't be this way, but then Emily slipped her hands under the blonde's shirt, caressing sensitive skin and kissing her again and that voice died a much celebrated death.
Their bodies pressed close again and it wasn't just JJ's skin that was burning; it was as if every cell in her body hummed at Emily's touch, singing in perfect harmony to an ancient, powerful note struck long ago. Her lungs couldn't seem to get enough air, though breathing no longer seemed such a priority. All she knew, all she wanted to know, was the feeling of Emily against her; in her.
The stairs were the only thing that made them part and then they were standing in Emily's bedroom. Forcing herself to slow, JJ's hands trembled as she undid the zipper on the brunette's dress, a tremor she noticed Emily shared as long fingers fumbled slightly with the buttons on her blouse.
The slide of fabric on skin was almost agonizing in its pleasure and promise of what was to come, and when Emily finally stood before her, only shadow and air separating them, JJ felt herself nearly overwhelmed.
There were no words as they reached for each other; there didn't need to be. What they felt for each other was evident in the whisper of lips and tongues across heated skin, in the stroke of hands and the tiny sounds of pleasure and need and discovery. It was proved when Emily arched into JJ's mouth as the blonde alternately teased and sucked her nipples, and in the way JJ willingly opened to Emily's touch, giving welcome and encouragement as she slid into slick, heated flesh. It was confirmed as JJ cried out, her body tightening around Emily's fingers. It was cemented by the taste of Emily on JJ's lips as she kissed a spent and trembling Emily, and it was reaffirmed again and again until their bodies were too weak to express what was in their hearts.
Later, long after the last desperate cry had been torn from behind bruised lips, with the night readying itself to give way to a new day, the two women lay entwined, only the differing shades of their skin honeyed to pale cream giving away where one ended and the other began. JJ's head rested on Emily's shoulder, listening to the soft breath of her lover.
Her lover, the phrase stretched like a lazy cat in her heart, causing it to swell. She had no idea what tomorrow was going to bring. There would most likely be talk about their jobs, about the team, about all the things that could keep them apart. In her imagination though, JJ saw only the shining diamond that her want for Emily had become. Overcoming Fear and strengthened by her own Belief and their Trust, against all odds, JJ knew that her Want for Emily had been transformed into love. That the words hadn't been spoken yet was immaterial; they had spent all night saying everything that mattered.
As JJ closed her eyes and felt herself surrendering to sleep, somewhere in the back of her mind, the small girl she had been, smiled in satisfaction.
Return to Criminal Minds Fiction
Return to Main Page