DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My apologies for my muse's current obsession with bars and the occasional obnoxious individual that frequents them. I have to wonder if there's not some horrible trauma that I'm repressing. Special thanks to the wonderful atfm for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
An Exercise in Futility
Rich laughter floated across the crowded room and settled comfortably beside the dark-haired woman who stood at the bar. Emily Prentiss placed her hands on the smooth surface of the counter and pressed down firmly, anchoring herself solidly to the depressed mahogany wood. She didn't need to turn around to know who had produced the hypnotic sound; she knew that if she were to seek out the person responsible for the intoxicating laughter, she'd find blue eyes flashing mischievously and a full-blown smile dazzling anyone who had the pleasure of experiencing it. It was a smile that had captured Emily's heart long ago.
Motioning the bartender over, Emily sighed softly, grateful for the few moments away from her co-workers. It wasn't that Emily didn't enjoy the company; no, the problem was that she enjoyed the company too much, especially any and all time spent away from the field with one particular co-worker. No matter how hard she tried to view JJ in the same light as she did the other team members, the blonde continued to draw Emily further in with her gorgeous smile, her subtle flirting, and her overall demeanor, both in and out of the field. It took everything Emily had to keep her desires in check as she continued to struggle each and every day with her growing feelings for JJ.
"Two MGDs." Emily had to shout her order as a round of loud applause suddenly filled the already raucous bar. She glanced in the large mirror which hung on the wall directly across from her, and her jaw went slack in obvious shock when she spied what had caught everyone's attention. JJ was standing over the mountain of a man who'd shamelessly flirted with the two of them earlier. The cocky asshole had gone down to one knee and appeared to be howling in pain. Emily strained her ear to try to hear above the heckling and clapping of the bar's patrons, her eyes occasionally straying to the left and the right as she wondered where in the hell Morgan, Garcia, and Reid had been when JJ had had to defend herself.
"That friend of yours certainly showed ol' Joe a thing or two. About damned time, too." The bartender placed the drinks on the bar and leaned across toward Emily. "These are on the house; tell your friend thanks." Smiling brightly, he winked and then turned to the next customer. Emily quickly grabbed up the beers and zigzagged her way back to JJ, hoping to defuse the situation before someone got hurt, or rather, someone other than the jerk who was more than likely still holding on tightly to his balls. Those pointy-toed boots JJ was wearing would have done quite a bit of damage.
"Excuse me; pardon me; can I get through?" Emily alternated her pleas as she pushed and shoved her way through the mass of humanity that had crowded around the latest fracas, finally making her way to JJ's side just as Joe struggled to his feet. Emily tightened her grip on the bottles of beer and looked up and up until she was staring into a pair of extremely angry eyes, only the eyes in question weren't staring back at her; they were fixated on the woman standing to her right. Instinctively, Emily stepped forward, putting herself between the large man and JJ, and that was the last thing she remembered.
A single groan cracked the silence in the room as Emily slowly lifted her hand toward her aching head, but the move was intercepted by a firm grip on her forearm.
"Hey now, don't touch." JJ eased her hold but continued to lightly stroke the fine hairs on Emily's arm. "Just rest; you took one helluva hit."
Emily kept her eyes closed, her brow knitted in pain and confusion. She did know one thing: there was no way she could follow JJ's order to rest. The feel of the other woman's warm hand against her skin overloaded her senses, making it very difficult to concentrate on anything else. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to speak.
"What happened?" She was stunned by her pitiful-sounding tone, but Emily managed to mask her surprise with another moan, her impromptu plan backfiring when JJ's immediate response was to offer support by increasing the physical contact. JJ placed a gentle hand on Emily's forehead and grabbed hold of the other woman's hand, their fingers intertwining naturally. Emily moaned again, for a completely different reason this time.
"Okay, that's it; you're going to the emergency room to get checked out." JJ pushed a strand of dark hair behind Emily's ear and then moved her hand to caress the smooth skin of a pale cheek, the motion so natural JJ didn't even realize what she was doing. "I told Morgan we should've gone straight to the hospital. Garcia's blow may have only glanced the side of your head, but she was holding a beer bottle after all."
An eyelid popped open, and a dark eye squinted at JJ. "Garcia hit me . . . with a beer bottle?"
JJ grimaced slightly and changed her motion to a more soothing stroke, her mind reassuring her that it was only to calm Emily. "Yeah, but it was an accident. She was aiming for the obnoxious jerk and didn't anticipate his move to sidestep you. By the time she realized you were in her line of fire, it was too late. She did manage to alter her aim somewhat though."
Emily leaned into the gentle touch, her brain temporarily stuck on repeat. "Garcia hit me with a beer bottle?"
"Yes, Emily, Garcia hit you. She really feels horrible about it, too." JJ smiled as a second eyelid opened. Emily really did have beautiful eyes. "Morgan carried you into the manager's office, laid you on the couch, and then went back outside to be with Garcia when the police interviewed her and Reid."
"Reid hit me, too?" No wonder her head hurt so much.
JJ chuckled. "No, Reid hit the jerk. He was on the other side of the guy and saw you go down. He thought the jerk had hit you."
Emily tried to sit up, but suddenly decided it wasn't really a good idea. She closed her eyes once more. "Where was Morgan?" Emily couldn't believe the least likely of her co-workers had come to her aid while the very capable Morgan had stood by and watched.
"Hey, why don't we talk about this after you've seen a doctor?" JJ started to stand, but a firm grip pulled her back into her chair. Emily had never opened her eyes but had known the minute JJ had shifted her weight that she'd been about to rise.
"I don't want to go anywhere. Just give me a minute or two and I'll be fine."
JJ glanced at the door, unsure what to do. She turned her gaze back to Emily, wanting to reach out once again and touch the beautiful face, but she didn't want to overstep her bounds. Perhaps it would be okay to wait a bit more. Besides, Morgan had told her to stay hidden away until he'd managed to take care of the situation.
"Okay . . . for now." JJ grinned when the corners of Emily's mouth quirked upward into a smile. This time, her hand reached out of its own accord, without a single moment's hesitation, to gently cup Emily's face. Dark eyes slowly opened and focused on deep pools of blue. The two women didn't say a word, content to just gaze in each other's eyes. That was exactly how Garcia found them a short time later.
"Okay, girls, let's blow this joint. Morgan wants us to go out the back exit so we won't chance running into the 'King of the Dumbasses' who started this whole thing." Garcia waltzed into the room and stopped dead in her tracks. Neither JJ nor Emily had heard a single word she'd said. A knowing smile spread across the technical analyst's face as she very slowly and very quietly backed out of the room, pulling the door closed behind her. She stood in the narrow hallway with a gigantic smile plastered on her face as she counted to one hundred, and successfully reaching the century mark, she knocked loudly on the wooden surface.
When Garcia pushed inside, she found JJ standing at the end of the couch, nervously shifting from foot to foot while Emily lay perfectly still, staring up at the ceiling. Garcia stifled her chuckle with a loud cough.
"Hey, Emily, I am so sorry." Garcia walked over and stood next to Emily. "How're you feeling?"
"Better." Emily looked up at the blonde analyst. "Can we go now?"
"Yes, Morgan's waiting for us at the back exit." Garcia turned to JJ and smiled. "JJ, why don't you help Emily to the door while I make sure the coast is clear?" Turning on her heel, Garcia walked from the room, once again closing the door behind her. The huge smile returned as she made her way toward the rear exit.
"Um, let's get you standing." JJ moved back to Emily's side to help her into a sitting position. She placed her hand on the dark-haired agent's shoulder and gently squeezed. "How are you really doing?"
Emily let out a sigh. "My head feels as if it's been kicked by a bull, but I don't feel dizzy or nauseous anymore."
"You felt nauseous? And you didn't say anything?"
"What?" Emily laughed softly, the pain worth the opportunity to tease JJ. "Worried I was going to puke on you?"
"No! I'd have been worried that you had a concussion." JJ inched back a step as Emily slowly pushed to her feet, staying at the ready to catch the other woman if she started to sway. Emily blew out a relieved breath, pleased that she was standing on her own two feet.
"Okay, step one completed." As soon as the words had left her lips, Emily's legs suddenly felt as if they were weighted down with concrete blocks. "Um, but I think I may need help making it to the car."
JJ eased next to Emily and slipped her arm around the slim waist, pulling Emily toward her until their hips were pressed closely together. Emily shivered slightly but managed to loop her arm across JJ's back and hitch it over her shoulder. JJ grabbed hold of the hand draped over her shoulder and turned toward Emily.
"Ready?" JJ squeezed Emily's hand and smiled.
This close to her desire, Emily wondered why she'd worked so hard to fight the attraction between the two of them. Maybe it was finally time to let her guard down. Smiling, Emily tightened her grip on JJ's hand.
"I'm ready whenever you are."
JJ seemed to understand the unspoken words. "Oh, I'm definitely ready, Emily Prentiss; I'm most definitely ready." She slowly started forward, holding Emily close. "You know, there's still a slight possibility that you have a mild concussion. I think you should stay at my place tonight."
Emily just nodded, ready to follow wherever JJ may lead. The wall was tumbling down.
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