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They'll Be Placing Fingers Through The Notches In Your Spine
By gilligankane


She can feel the holes in her backbone like they're something more than just metaphorical, as if they're real cut out chunks of bone that leave a bread trail behind her every step. She feels them when Emily's nimble fingers trace her spin and her nails slip into the notches, scratching JJ's skin and almost touching the inside of her. She can feel them when most when Emily looks at her with that look, but doesn't cross the room and kiss her until she can't breathe.

She can feel the missing parts of her backbone when Hotch stares at her with eyes that say "what makes you think you're qualified enough to form an opinion like that?" (Because sometimes, he stares at her exactly like that, even if his next gaze is tempered and soft and fatherly.)

She can feel the empty little holes every time she gets put in the backseat by some wanna-be Hero Cop and her own team, because she's the liaison, not the agent in the thick of the action.

She feels them most every time Emily walks away without asking her to follow.

She feels them most when Emily smiles at her and still flirts with guys like Brad.

She feels them most on the colder nights, when Emily goes home with a head injury and she goes home to her empty bed.

Her entire life, people had been taking taking taking from her, never filling in what they've dug out. Her parents, her aunt, East Allegheny and their high expectations; they've all scooped their greedy little share of her out and it's left her with nothing but holes.

Emily fills the holes with her smile and her eyes and her thirst for justice.

Emily fills the holes with her simple gestures and her one-liners that pull JJ back from the edge of letting go; reels her in and fills the holes with her voice and her words.

Then Emily burrows them out again with her distance and her frown and her reluctance, because there's Henry now and there's Will, even if no one sees him much anymore and Emily doesn't like to get too close, like JJ will break if she does; like alarms will go off and sirens and lights.

JJ feels just a little hollower than before; a little emptier in a way she didn't think she could feel.

There are holes in her backbone and a hole over her heart that never bleeds and she thinks maybe this is the way she's supposed to always be – full of holes that no one can fill, even if they want to; even if they promise they will.

This is who she was supposed to be, like Reid was supposed to be his mother and Emily was supposed to be hers, and JJ tells her reflection in the mirror each morning that she should stop trying to replace everything she's lost, because this is how it was supposed to be; this is the way she has lived her whole life and to change it now would be a waste of effort and time and space and Emily.

Except that something shifts and JJ doesn't even notice with her head ducked and her eyes turned down. She doesn't notice that Emily's smile is brighter and warmer and when she feels a pull, she doesn't even imagine that the holes in her backbone are pulling themselves together and stitching over and sealing shut.

Then Emily puts a hand on her back and JJ doesn't feel long, pale fingers slip, like they usually do, because her spine is solid and smooth, free of dips and cracks, and when she finally gets the nerve to look over her shoulder, her back to the mirror, she can't even see where the holes used to be; she can't even see where everyone pulled pieces from her.

Emily filled the holes.

Emily filled the holes, not with sand, or glue, or misshapen pieces that don't belong to JJ.

Emily fills the holes with herself, replacing what everyone has taken and never once suggesting that JJ isn't worth being whole.

The End

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